Nightshine, p.36
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       Nightshine, p.36

         Part #4 of Kyndred series by Lynn Viehl
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Page 36

 

  Drew expected Gracie to shout, or laugh at him, or leave him to rot. Instead she came over to his cage, gripping the bars as she pressed her brow against them; her eyes closed.

  “I was six years old when they took my mother,” she said, her voice barely above a whisper. “She went to work one morning and I never saw her again. When I was old enough to be useful, Stanton came to see Papi. He showed him pictures of Mama. She was older, but we recognized her. She was taking care of some American children. He said as long as we did what we were told, Mama would be safe. ” She opened her eyes. “I did not marry Eduardo. I went away to school, and earned my degree, and took a job in the city. ”

  His anger wavered. “So they forced you to become a civil servant and protect the environment. Any particular reason why?”

  “Stanton promised me all I would have to do was protect the islands and the other children. ” Her hands slipped down the bars. “As soon as you told me what you were, I had no choice. No one can lie to our master. He looks into our minds. He knows everything the children think. ”

  “What children are you talking about?”

  “You. Your friends. The others like you. ” Slowly she pulled up her sleeve and turned her forearm over, using her nails to dig into and then peel away a layer of flesh-colored latex. Beneath it was an old tattoo of a stylized dolphin. “And me. ”

  Chapter 16

  “You’ve been at this all day,” Samuel said from the doorway of the treatment room. “You should stop for the night and go to bed. ”

  “While you run off by yourself to meet the boys at the mystery cave?” Charlotte placed some rolled bandages on a shelf according to size. “Yeah, I should sleep like a baby. ”

  “I won’t be long. ” He noticed the towels she had folded and placed on the counter next to an instrument tray. “What are you doing in here?”

  “There are eleven, possibly twelve, pregnant women on this island, Sam. Any or all of them could require medical treatment at any moment. ” She closed the cabinet. “Since I’m the only one who can do that, I have to be ready. ”

  She had been on edge ever since last night, when he had suggested their first meeting had been at the lab where as infants they had been genetically altered. Samuel knew the shared memories had disturbed her, but when he’d tried to discuss them, she’d told him she was too tired. When he’d woken up to a half-empty bed, he’d found her using the lab equipment in the treatment room.

  Now he glanced at the slides and vials she had placed in a rack beside the microscope. Each was stained dark red. “You’ve been testing blood. ”

  “I took a sample from each of the bags. ” She picked up a clipboard. “All of it is human, disease-free, and type O negative. ”

  His brows rose. “We all share the same blood type?”

  “Don’t worry; that’s all we have in common. ” She gestured toward a complicated-looking piece of equipment. “That uses microfluidics and nanotechnology to pull DNA from a blood sample and type the sequences. None of us are related. ”

  “Us?”

  “I drew some blood samples from you the first night we were here,” she admitted. “After what we remembered last night, I’m very glad that I did. ”

  Now he understood why she had been so distant. “You thought we might be siblings. Charlotte, we look nothing alike. ”

  She shrugged. “Brothers and sisters don’t always resemble one another, and considering we’re both larger than average, I had to be sure. ”

  “Do you feel better now that you know?”

  “Not really. ” She tossed the clipboard on the counter and headed for the door. “Do you want to eat before you leave? I can throw together a salad or something. ”

  “I’m not hungry. ” He moved into her path. “What else is bothering you?”

  “Nothing. ” She came up short. “Do you mind?”

  “I won’t leave you alone like this,” he told her. “I’ll skip going to the cave and instead follow you around the villa and harass you unmercifully for the remainder of the night. ”

  “Of course you will. I had to get stuck on Pregnancy Island with the only man in the world who wants to talk about my feelings. ” She shoved him aside and stalked down the hall to the master suite.

  Samuel followed her, and watched from the doorway as she began tearing apart the bed. “Am I sleeping on the couch?”

  She ignored him as she tossed aside the coverlet and sheets. When he came over to her, she glared at him. “Will you just stop? Please?”

  “Let me help you. ” He removed the fitted sheet to reveal the bloodstained mattress.

  Charlotte’s expression changed, and she climbed onto the mattress, stretching out in the center and looking down at one particular stain. She sat up quickly. “That son of a bitch. ” She stood up, walking off the mattress.

  Samuel glanced at the stain, which was located halfway down the left side of the mattress. He could touch it and discover exactly whose it was and how it had gotten there, but Charlotte appeared to already know. He went to stand beside her at the glass wall, where she was staring out into the night.

  “I always check myself twice a week,” she said in a hollow voice. “I forgot until this morning, and when I felt for the strings they weren’t there. So I ran an ultrasound on myself, and my uterus was empty. It’s gone. Under the circumstances I should have expected it, but things have been so insane that I didn’t think. ”

  “I’m sorry, but what’s gone?”

  “My IUD. ” She gave him an ironic look. “They must have removed it here while I was unconscious. That’s my blood on the left side of the mattress. ”

  Samuel slipped his arm around her waist, and after a moment she rested her head against his shoulder. “How much time do we have before you could conceive?”

  “None. It’s not like the pill,” she added. “Once it’s out, I’m unprotected. ”

  “So you could be pregnant now. ”

  “If I am, I won’t test positive for a couple more days. And if we keep having sex . . . ” She shook her head.

  Samuel knew beneath the anger she was frightened, enough that she might consider taking desperate measures. “Honey, listen to me. If you discover that you are carrying my child, I want to know. Before you decide to do anything about it, please talk to me. ”

  She looked puzzled for a moment, and then her expression filled with disgust. “My God. You think I’d abort our baby without telling you? What kind of woman do you think I am?”

  The tightness in his chest eased. “I didn’t mean—”

  “No one has the right to force us to have a child,” she snapped. “By doing this they’ve violated both of us. But if there is going to be a baby, Sam—and there probably will be—then it belongs to us, not them. We have the responsibility, and we decide what to do about it, together. ”

  He didn’t mean to say it, but the words spilled from him. “I want our child to live. ”

  “So do I. ” She gave him a tired smile. “Now go talk to the friendly natives, and find a way to get us the hell off this island. ”

  Drew sat in one corner of the cage and watched a beetle creeping down one of the bars. Dusty threads from an old spider’s web clung to its legs and wound around its dark green carapace, hampering its movements. He reached out as it slipped and caught it in the palm of his hand.

  “Nothing to eat down here, pal,” he said, and he gently freed it from the webbing. “Not yet, anyway. ”

  With no windows, the only light in the room came from the single bulb hanging overhead, but Drew’s Takyn abilities included an acute sense of night and day, and told him the sun would be setting in a few minutes. His imagination kept bouncing between two images: the dolphin tattooed on Gracie’s forearm, and the bruised wounds on Conchita’s neck.

  Dinnertime.

  To build even a small replica of an Aztec temple required serious money,
as did collecting artifacts made from pure gold and kidnapping Americans right off the street. Gracie had called the mystery man “the master,” and claimed he could read her mind. It all added up to one big, ugly reality that Drew wasn’t sure he wanted to face.

  “If you see Samuel, tell him I’m sorry I screwed up,” he told the beetle as he set it on the floor. “But don’t mention it was because of a girl. That’ll make me look like a real chump. ”

  “Andrew, it’s time. ”

  He looked up to see Gracie unlocking the door to his cage. Her face appeared pale and drawn, but there were no marks on her neck. But then, why did he care if there were? “For what?”

  “The master is here. ” She opened the door. “He wishes to see you. ”

  He eyed the two armed men standing behind her. “And if I refuse?”

  “Then they will hit you and drag you upstairs,” she said flatly.

  He stood and stepped out, recoiling a little as she took hold of his arm. “I’m not going to make a run for it,” he lied.

  “The master would never let you escape. ” She pressed her forearm against his and curled her fingers over his palm, and that was when he felt the length of the blade under her sleeve, and the tingle that told him it was made of solid copper. “You must accept this if you want to live. ”

  Drew moved closer, using his body to hide her arm from the guards. “So it’s do or die, huh?”

  “You will have only one chance to do the right thing. ” She fiddled with her hair, dropping her hand long enough to slip the copper dagger from her sleeve to his before she moved ahead of him. “I hope you will. ”

  Drew dropped his arm to his side as he used his ability to reshape the copper blade into a cuff of metal wrapped around his wrist. The leather-and-wood hilt he slipped into his pocket as they made their way into a wide, dark room lit by burning torches.
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