Nightshine, p.47
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       Nightshine, p.47
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         Part #4 of Kyndred series by Lynn Viehl
Page 47


  “I don’t know. ” Segundo got to his feet and returned to the console, adjusting the knobs to make the images larger.

  The lights crawled across the glass squares until they appeared in each one, and seemed to shoot up. It was only when gray clouds appeared with the lights that Energúmeno realized what was happening. “They do this to destroy the other cameras?”

  “Not only the cameras, master. ” Segundo straightened, his expression almost smug. “They have set fires in all the rooms. They are burning down the houses. ”

  “They will come soon, Charlotte. ”

  Tlemi’s voice halted Charlie’s nervous pacing, but did nothing to dispel her anxiety. “I should have gone with them. ”

  Samuel and the other men had left almost an hour ago to finish setting fire to the other houses; they might not make it back before the boats arrived. At which point Charlie and the women would have to hold off Segundo, and quite possibly the vampire, by themselves.

  Charlie surveyed the faces of the other women, most of whom had the good sense to look frightened. Samuel’s plan to burn down all the houses was insanely risky, especially if Energúmeno decided not to send anyone to rescue them. “All right, we need to get ready. Tlemi, what can the others do?”

  “Xochi move plants. ” She turned and spoke in Nahautl to the other woman, who nodded and touched one of the bamboo canes. The long, straight length began to coil like a spiral, at the same time sprouting new shoots that grew at an astonishing rate.

  “Good. If any of the master’s men come up from the beach, she needs to trap them in the bamboo. ” Charlie waited for Tlemi to translate that for Xochi before she noticed Pici struggling to get up from the makeshift stretcher they’d used to bring her down to the beach. “No, sweetie, you don’t have to do anything. ”

  Pici fell back, and then said something to Tlemi.

  “She want to help,” Tlemi explained.

  “You’re pregnant,” Charlie told her, and rested her hand on the mound of her belly. “You just take care of this little guy for now. ”

  Pici snapped something, and a seagull darted into their hiding place, landing on Charlotte’s arm and giving the back of her hand an ungentle peck.

  “Ouch. ” She shook off the bird, and then went still as six others landed in front of her, glaring up at her with angry black eyes. “What the hell?”

  Tlemi made a face. “She use birds. ”

  Charlie pushed the memory of a Hitchcock movie out of her thoughts. “Okay, Pici, you can help. ” When the pregnant woman reached for her hand, she assumed she wanted only some reassurance, but then Charlie felt her press something small and cylindrical against her palm. She looked into the other woman’s eyes, and while she didn’t understand her thoughts, she could feel the urgency of her emotions.

  “I’m going to walk down and see how much room there is under the pier. Stay here,” she told Tlemi.

  As soon as Charlie ducked beneath the pier, she opened her hand and examined the object Pici had passed to her. The small plastic cylinder had a cap on one end, and contained a tiny roll of paper. She opened it and removed the note, unrolling it to reveal a handwritten message.

  “What did she give you?” Tlemi asked from behind her.

  “I’m not sure. ” Charlie turned and held out the paper. “But you won’t have to translate it. It’s written in beautiful English. ”

  The pale hand trembled as it took the paper. “I can explain. ”

  “You don’t have to. ” Charlotte seized her by the throat. “You lying bitch. ”

  “Please. You don’t understand. ” Tears streaked Tlemi’s face. “I had to do this. ”

  “You had to use your ability to spy on us, and tell them whenever we didn’t follow the rules?” Charlie tightened her hand. “You’re right; I don’t get it. How could you?” She shook her. “Did you enjoy watching through Sam’s eyes while they beat me? Did you?”

  “Segundo said if I didn’t,” Tlemi said, her voice strangled by the pressure of Charlie’s hand, “he would kill Colotl. ”

  “You idiot. ” Charlie shoved her away.

  “I stopped a long time ago. I’ve been lying to them about everything, ever since they murdered Mocaya. ” The younger woman coughed and rubbed her neck. “I only told them the truth about you because I thought the master had turned Samuel. I was afraid he would attack us for our blood. ”

  “Even if he was a vampire, Sam would never hurt anyone. ” Charlie felt the sincerity of Tlemi’s emotions echoing in her words, and the shame that filled her thoughts. “If you try to help them tonight, I will kill you myself. ”

  “I won’t. Not ever again. ” The other woman glanced over her shoulder. “Are you going to tell the others?”

  “If I did, they’d probably kill you. ” Grimly she looked around, measuring the available space. “We need to move the women away from here. ” She felt a wave of rage slam into her mind and staggered backward, shuddering as Tlemi caught her.

  No language came through the thought stream, only gruesome images of Energúmeno standing over Samuel’s body, holding a still-beating heart in his hand. What he imagined doing next made her double over and vomit.

  “Charlotte. ”

  “I’m all right. ” Charlotte wiped her mouth and straightened. “Get the other women and go. Stay out of sight. ” She managed to raise a mental barrier against the murderous thoughts barraging her mind before she hurried out.

  “What are you doing?” Tlemi called after her.

  Charlotte didn’t look back. “I have to warn Samuel. ”

  “That’s the last one. ” Samuel stood back with Drew and watched as flames rose against the windows inside the house.

  Colotl and the other islanders joined them, each carrying the torches they had used to set the fires.

  “Beautiful work,” Drew said. “If you ever want to go into the arson business, take me as your partner. ”

  Capping off all the gas pipes before they set fire to the villas ensured that the structures would burn instead of explode, which bought them more time. According to Tlemi, Segundo and his men lived on one of the protected islands in the vicinity; it would take at least an hour for them to arrive. Assuming they would come to rescue them.

  “They will come,” Agraciana said, accurately guessing his thoughts. “The master needs us too much to let all of us die. ”

  “But he’d have no problem killing a couple of us to serve as examples,” Drew guessed.

  “That is Energúmeno’s way. ” She gave Samuel a troubled look. “If we cannot prevail, I will summon my dolphins, but . . . I cannot control more than four. That means only three can come with me. ”

  Samuel glanced at Drew. “This time, we’ll win. ”

  “Samuel. ” Colotl pointed to a figure running toward them. “Charlotte. ”

  He ran to meet her, catching her in his arms as she stumbled and gasped for breath. “What are you doing here?”

  “Energúmeno. ” She clutched his shoulders. “He’s coming. You have to go the cave and hide. Now. ” She tried to pull him in that direction. “Sam, please. I’ve seen what he’s planning to do to you, and you can’t stop him. He’s too strong, too angry. ”

  “Drew. Colotl. ” When the men joined them, Samuel quickly issued instructions for them to rejoin the women and take up defensive positions, and then added, “I need the weapons. ”

  Charlotte stiffened. “Didn’t you hear me? He’s going to stick his hand in your chest and pull out your heart and eat it. You can’t heal from that. This time, you will die. ”

  Samuel looked at the other men. “Give us a minute, please. ” When they moved away, he cradled her face between his hands. “Honey, we don’t have a lot of time left, so I need you to listen to me now. We’ve talked to Agraciana about Energúmeno’s powers. He can hurt me from a distance, but to kill me he has to make physical contact. I’m no
t going to let that happen. ”

  “You can’t stop him. ” She gave Agraciana a desperate look. “She can control dolphins, right? Have her call one to take you off the island before he gets here. When you get to the mainland, you can get help—”

  “I’m not leaving you, Charlotte. ” He brought her hand up and pressed it to his heart. “As for this, he can’t have it. It belongs to you. ”

  With her fists she gripped the front of his shirt, and pressed her brow against his chest. When she lifted her head again, her expression was one of complete calm. “You aren’t leaving me, Sam. If he kills you, he kills me, too. ”

  “Honey, you can’t—”

  “You won’t be here to stop me. ” She took a scalpel from her pocket and held it up between them. “You know how I feel about suicide, but I’d rather end my life than live without you. So if you die, I die. ”

  He could take the scalpel from her, and warn the men about her intentions. But with her medical knowledge and training, how long would they be able to prevent her from following him into death? Suddenly he realized the other reason she had made her ghastly threat. “When you read his mind and thought of me dying, this is how it felt for you. ”

  She nodded. “That, and I threw up. You don’t have to do that, though. ”

  Samuel laughed as he wrapped his arms around her, lifting her off her feet until their eyes were level. “I love you, Charlotte Marena, and I’m not going to die tonight. I’m going to live for you. I’m going to live with you. And when we’re very old, and ready for the next place, then we’ll go together. ”

  She closed her eyes. “Please, God, yes. ”

  “Samuel,” Drew called. “Time to move. ”

  As they joined the others, Agraciana moved to flank Charlotte. “You read the master’s mind tonight, yes?”
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