Nightshine, p.31
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       Nightshine, p.31

         Part #4 of Kyndred series by Lynn Viehl
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Page 31


  She conferred briefly with Colotl, who at last nodded. “Here eight moons. ” She made a circle with her fingers.

  Charlotte mimicked the gesture. “Eight moons that look like this?” When the other woman nodded, she dropped her hands and looked at the other women. “Eight months. Sam, most of them must be in their third trimester. ”

  “Where do you live?” Sam asked Tlemi.

  She pointed to the villa. “We have house. ” She moved her hand from one side of the island to the other, and then counted on her fingers before she added, “Six houses. Yours seventh house. ”

  Samuel grew thoughtful. “He must have had one built for each couple. I wonder why he went to so much trouble and expense. ”

  “Because he’s a crazy person,” Charlotte muttered before she spoke to the other woman. “Tlemi, I hear others in my mind, the way you see them. ” Charlotte tapped her temple. “Why didn’t I hear any of you before tonight?”

  Tlemi glanced at Colotl before she said, “Walls. ”

  Samuel frowned. “There are walls on the island?”

  “Colotl gift make walls. ” She turned to speak to her companion, which made him mutter under his breath. “Watch. ” She nudged him. “He show. ”

  Samuel felt the air grow cool and heavy as a curtain of mist formed between them and the island couple. It swirled for a moment before the fog as well as Colotl and Tlemi faded from sight.

  Charlotte reached out, flattening her palm against an invisible surface. “It feels like water, but it’s as solid as glass. I can’t push my hand through it. ” She closed her eyes briefly. “I can’t sense either of them. They’re gone. ”

  “No gone. ” The unseen curtain dropped, and Tlemi smiled at her. “Good wall, yes?”

  “A very good wall. ” Samuel had the feeling that making things disappear wasn’t the only thing Colotl could do with his gift. “Tlemi, how are we being watched? We know it’s not only the cameras. ”

  She shifted, visibly uncomfortable. “Master watch. Master know everything you do. Always. ”

  He saw a flicker of alarm in Colotl’s eyes, and abruptly changed the subject. “Whom do you need us to heal? Is it Pici?”

  The smallest woman blurted out something before clinging to the scowling man beside her.

  “Pici small. ” Tlemi made a circling gesture over her own pelvis. “Baby big. ”

  Charlotte glanced at the fearful woman. “I’ll have to examine her, but if I’m understanding her correctly, Pici may be too small to deliver her child vaginally. ” To Tlemi she said, “Won’t Segundo take Pici to a hospital?”

  The other woman shook her head. “No leave island. ”

  “Can you perform a C-section, Charlotte?” Samuel asked her.

  “It’s major surgery, and I’m not an obstetrician. But I’ve assisted on several, and I know the procedure. ” A strange look passed over her face. “I think it’s my fault that we’re here. ”

  Samuel thought of the medical room. “They seemed to be prepared for you. ”

  “I’m a licensed midwife, Sam. I’m just working fire rescue until I can find the right obstetrical practice to join. ” Her expression turned bleak. “Last month I had to submit all of my personal identification, school transcripts, and professional certifications for state verification. My parents made sure I was legal, and I’ve always passed every background check, but anyone taking a close look would realize Charlotte Marena didn’t exist until she was in first grade. ”

  Tlemi was trying to follow their conversation, Samuel noticed, and he smiled at her. “We can help Pici. ”

  “Don’t make them any promises,” Charlotte warned. “Aside from the fact that I have only the bare minimum in medical supplies, I have no anesthesiologist, no nurses, and no safe blood for transfusions. ”

  “Blood. ” Tlemi nodded and extended her arm, pointing to the crease of her elbow. “Segundo take from us. ”

  Charlotte peered at her arm. “She has a fresh needle mark. ” She looked at the other woman. “Wait a second. Are you telling me that the blood inside the house is yours?”

  “Segundo take, moon and half-moon. ” She showed her the spider tattoo. “Mark on bag. ”

  “My God. ” Charlotte looked appalled. “That bastard has been stockpiling their blood. ”

  “Samuel. ” Colotl said his name carefully, and then spoke to Tlemi in their language.

  “Colotl say we go,” she said. “You help Pici?”

  “Yes. ” Samuel looked directly at the other man and held out his hand. “Amigo. ”

  Colotl clasped his hand, and then spoke to the others. The men rose, helping their women to their feet, and after taking their torches began to head in different directions. Only Colotl and Tlemi remained behind.

  Once the other islanders were out of sight, Colotl brought a circle of mist around them and then nodded to Tlemi.

  “Segundo watch you,” she said quickly. “Tell master everything you do, we do. Colotl, I not know how. ”

  “A man came and watched us last night,” Charlotte told her. “Could he be reporting what we do to Segundo?”

  “All men watch you. Take turns. Colotl send. Protect. Segundo know other way. ” She tapped the side of her head. “Like me, like Charlotte. ”

  “He’s a telepath?”

  “I see in men eyes, but not Segundo. His eyes . . . ” Tlemi made a helpless gesture. “Not like us. ”

  “Samuel. ” Colotl took a folded black cloth from his pocket. He opened it, revealing the surface, which was covered with intricate embroidery.

  At first Samuel thought it was only a gift, until Colotl tapped one square on it and pointed to the villa.

  “It’s a map of the island,” he said to Charlotte as he studied it. He pointed to six other squares. “¿Casas?”

  “Sí. ” Colotl pointed to a circle in the center of the map. “Cueva. ”

  “Cueva means cave,” Charlotte told him.

  “Samuel. Colotl. ” Colotl pointed to the circle on the embroidered map and then the moon. “Aquí mañana por la noche. ”

  After Charlotte translated, Samuel turned to Tlemi. “Why does Colotl want me to come to the cave tomorrow night?”

  “Talk. Plan. Segundo not know cave, not see night. ” She paused, searching for words. “Charlotte. We leave island, go together, keep secret?”

  “I understand,” she told Tlemi before she eyed Samuel. “They want us to help them to escape. ”

  Chapter 14

  Genaro watched as the last of the Manzanillo police officers were stripped of their uniforms and marched into the holding cell. His own men, now dressed in the confiscated uniforms, silently followed him to the largest of the interrogation rooms, which his team leader, an experienced ex–Army Ranger named Evan Marlow, had converted into a command center.

  “We’ve set up checkpoints on all the roads leading out of the city,” Marlow told him as he came in to examine the operation. “The local news station is broadcasting the fugitive serial killer story on the hour. We’ve set up our own switchboard, and have our interpreters fielding calls from concerned citizens, government officials, and satellite agencies, but I doubt we can hold them off for longer than forty-eight hours. ”

  “Get Delaporte on the phone. ” Genaro eyed the row of computers his techs were using to trawl for information. “What about Energúmeno?”

  “The compound is deserted. We’re questioning some of the old women who were left behind, but they claim they know nothing. ” Marlow nodded toward the satellite images posted on the wall. “All of the vehicles we spotted at the compound yesterday are missing. It could be that the target decided to move to safer ground. ”

  “Run a property search and see what else he owns, then send the chopper for aerial recon. ” Genaro accepted a mobile phone from one of the techs. “Don? Thank you for the timely rescue. ”

  “Glad you’re all ri
ght, Mr. Genaro. ” His security chief sounded as if he hadn’t slept all night. “We have a cleanup crew en route, ETA six hours. Dr. Kirchner is under twenty-four-hour guard. With your permission, I’d like to fly down there and supervise operations myself. ”

  “I need you in Atlanta. ” Genaro walked out of the operations room and down the hall to Carasegas’s office, where he sat down in the dead cop’s chair. “I also need leverage against Energúmeno. ”

  “He’s hiding his assets with dummy corporations and bogus investments, most of them administered by a British expat named Foster Stanton,” Delaporte said. “Stanton started out as an academic, but was sliding into the antiquities black market when he dropped off the grid back in the late seventies. He resurfaced a few years ago, about the same time Energúmeno began buying up dozens of land parcels and most of the agricultural and municipal waste disposal companies in central Mexico. ”

  “Waste disposal?” Genaro frowned. “Are they fronts for drug operations?”

  “No, they appear to be legitimate. He could be using them for money-laundering purposes, but that’s the other thing. ” The chief sighed. “We haven’t been able to connect any drug activity at all to him. No suppliers, pipelines, storage facilities, labs, or a single skirmish with a rival operation. In Mexico that’s unheard-of, sir. ”

  “A dummy cartel would be an effective smoke screen for a more lucrative enterprise. ” He grew thoughtful. “Before Carasegas shot himself, he claimed he wasn’t working for Energúmeno, but for God. That order of delusional fanatics you investigated, the ones posing as Catholic priests, what were they called?”

  “Les Frères de la Lumière. ”

  “I want everything you already have on them, and see if they’re operating in Mexico. ”
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