Nightshine, p.9
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       Nightshine, p.9

         Part #4 of Kyndred series by Lynn Viehl
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Page 9

 

  “Can you describe the people they carried on board?”

  He shrugged. “They had sacks over their heads. One was big, and the other had to be a woman. Even with the sheet wrapped around her, I could see she had a beautiful rack. ”

  “They were both unconscious?”

  The old man nodded. “The big one was bleeding from the side. It was all over the sheet. ”

  Drew knew a little about Samuel’s condition, which had been slowly crippling him for years. Although the Takyn all had the ability to heal faster than normal humans, Samuel’s weakened state combined with an open wound might prove too much for the big man to survive. “Was that when you called the police?”

  “Oh, I didn’t call them, son. ”

  Drew eyed him. “Why not?”

  “No phone,” the old man said, gesturing below. “No desire to get my throat cut, either. ”

  Drew glanced out at the bay. “Did you see what direction he took the boat?”

  “He’ll be heading south for Manzanillo, Mexico. ” The old-timer grinned at him. “Howie stopped by last night to borrow some maps. He’s never been down that far south, so I plotted the course for him. ”

  Drew jotted down the name of the city. “Is there anything else you can think of?”

  “You’d best get out of here before the real cops see you talking to me,” the old-timer said. “Or you’ll end up going downtown. I hope you find your friends. ”

  “So do I. ” Drew smiled a little. “What gave me away?”

  “Something only an old shoemaker like me would notice. ” The old man nodded at the deck. “No FBI agent wears green sneakers, son. ”

  No drug, treatment, or therapy had ever succeeded in completely relieving the pain caused by Samuel Taske’s deteriorating spine. He had spent years learning how to rest through meditation and napping for an hour or two, usually in an upright position in one of his custom-built ergonomic chairs. To wake from a deep, satisfying sleep and find himself flat on his back in a real bed was not only a novelty but something of a precious gift.

  One he would begin paying for immediately, he thought as he lay as still as possible. As soon as he moved he would likely be in agony. At least Morehouse would arrive shortly with his morning tea and paper, and after administering his injection he would help him get up and into the whirlpool. . . .

  Two fingers pressed against a bone in his wrist while a warm hand settled on his brow. None of them belonged to his house manager.

  “No fever, no rash, no arrhythmias,” a woman murmured. “So why don’t you wake up, mío?”

  “It usually requires a pot of tea and the Wall Street Journal. ” He looked up at Charlotte Marena’s face. Beyond her he could see bright colors and beautiful furnishings. “Hello again. ”

  “Hey. ” Her smile lit up her tired face. “Welcome back. How are you feeling?”

  “Puzzled. ” Taske turned his head to the right and left to take in as much as he could, and made another discovery as he felt the smoothness of the linen pillowcase against his cheek. “Someone shaved off my beard. ”

  She nodded. “Wasn’t me. ”

  He didn’t see any medical equipment around the bed. “We’re not at a hospital, are we?”

  “I don’t know where we are, Sam,” Charlotte admitted. “I was kind of hoping that you did. ”

  “I’ll have to disappoint you. ” Luxurious and unique as it was, he didn’t recognize the room. “How did we come to be here?”

  “The last thing I remember was passing out in the back of my rig. ” She straightened. “Yesterday I woke up here with you. That’s all I know. ”

  “Yesterday. ” He frowned. “I’ve been unconscious that long?”

  “At least a day. ” She made a helpless gesture. “Maybe two or three, or even a week. ” She looked as if she wanted to say more, and then subsided.

  “But you woke before me. ” A vague memory of Charlotte’s urgent voice came back to him, and without thinking he reached across his abdomen to touch the wound in his side.

  “It’s okay. It’s already healed. ” She pulled down the sheet covering him to expose the unmarked skin over his ribs. “The stitches I put in popped out during the night. There isn’t even a scar. Maybe you can explain that to me?”

  “I’ll try. ” Taske had not enjoyed such a rapid recovery from a serious wound in years, but that was not the only revelation that stunned him. When he had moved, he had felt nothing.

  “Problem?”

  He frowned as he carefully drew his arm back and then moved his legs just enough to shift the lower half of his spine. “I don’t feel anything. ”

  Charlotte turned and touched his thigh. “You can’t feel my hand?”

  “No, I have feeling in my legs. ” Still not trusting his body, he bent his arm to prop his weight on his elbow and roll onto his side. His muscles felt stiff, but the searing coil of nerves around his spine didn’t offer even the slightest twinge. “Charlotte. ” He stared at her. “I need you to tell me precisely what happened to me. ”

  “When I woke up yesterday I found you in shock from the blood loss. You were left here bleeding from a reopened wound. ” She ducked her head. “Your heart stopped, and I had to perform CPR, but I got you back. I had to give you a vein-to-vein blood transfusion. Fortunately we have the same type. I’m also tested regularly for my job, so don’t worry about it. I know I’m clean. ”

  “I remember your asking me about my blood type. ” She had given him her own blood; no wonder she looked so drawn and pale. “What did you do to my back?”

  “Nothing. ” She put her hand on his arm. “You probably wrenched it on the bridge. I’ll see if I can find something for the pain. ”

  “Pain. That is the problem. I’m not in pain. Any pain. ” He laughed a little. “Charlotte, somehow you’ve healed me. ”

  “Jesus healed the lame, Sam. I just gave you some blood. ” She looked uncertain. “You’re sure you don’t feel any pain at all? Maybe you’re just riding an adrenaline high. ”

  “After fifteen years of enduring it every day—lately every hour of every day—I know pain,” he assured her. “Not feeling it is incredible. ” He frowned. “And impossible. ”

  “Sam, while I was working on you, you had some kind of seizure,” she told him. “It could have been a small stroke, and that can cause nerve damage. ”

  “Then I would have some paralysis as well, which I don’t. ” He looked down at himself. “Everything seems to be working very well. ”

  “Yeah, but you were in shock, too. Sometimes a combination of these things can do some weird stuff to the body. ” When he would have sat up the rest of the way she pressed his arm. “Take it slow. If you fall, I don’t think I’m going to be able to pick you up without help. ” She put her arm around his back. “Anytime you want to stop, just tell me. ”

  As he moved into a sitting position, Taske’s head remained as clear as his sight. He felt no discomfort, numbness, or any sensation other than that of his muscles coiling and uncoiling to accommodate his movements. As Charlotte stood up and watched him he eased his legs over the side of the bed, and then slowly rose. Expecting his knees to buckle, he put a hand on her shoulder, but his legs remained strong and steady.

  “I’ve walked with a limp since I was a teenager. ” He took one step, and then another, and suddenly, effortlessly, he was moving across the room. It had been so long since he’d walked without using a cane that his hand and arm felt odd, but not once did he lose his balance or stagger. Joy rushed through him, a genie released after a thousand years bottled up who had granted his dearest wish without even asking him. He turned around and strode to Charlotte, seizing her by the waist and lifting her off her feet to twirl her around.

  “Look at me. ” He laughed. “Charlotte, I can walk. My God, I think I can even run. ”

  “That’s terrific, Sam. ” Her hands clamped on his should
ers. “Would you put me down now?”

  “Forgive me. ” He laughed again as he lowered her back to her feet and pulled her against him in an affectionate hug. “You can’t know what this means. ” He cradled her face between his hands. “I thought I was a dead man—no, I knew I was—and now I wake up and I can walk. ” He stroked a hand over her tousled hair before he kissed her pretty mouth.

  The delight pouring through him grew heated as he tasted the sweetness of her lips, and suddenly his excitement became urgent and dark. He filled his hands with her hair and nudged her lips apart, inhaling her startled breath and tasting her with his tongue. Her hands slid up his chest, pressing for a moment before they curved around his neck. He wanted to laugh again as he splayed his hands over her back and worked them down to the luscious curves of her hips. Before this he could only look at her and wish, but now that he was healed, now that he was strong, he could be like any other man, and take her to his bed, and give her hours and hours of pleasure. . . .

  His bed was in Tannerbridge, not here.

  Taske lifted his mouth from hers. Charlotte stood very still, her eyes wide and fixed on his face, her cheeks rosy. She appeared as appalled as he was astonished. He intended to apologize, instantly and profusely, but the words he spoke had nothing to do with regret.

  “I know you. ” He lifted a length of her hair to his nose, breathing in before he let the gold-shot strands fall back into place. “Your scent, the feel of your skin, everything about you is new to me. We’ve never met before I saw you on the bridge; I’d swear to it. But . . . I know you. ”

  “I’m pretty sure I would remember meeting a guy your size. ” She eased out of his arms and turned her face away. “Maybe in another life. ”

  “Reincarnation is a fantasy. This life is the only one we have. ” He didn’t understand why she wouldn’t look at him, until he glanced down at his body. Not only was he stark naked; he sported a monumental erection. He pulled the sheet from the bed and wrapped it around his hips. “I do beg your pardon, Charlotte. ” He wouldn’t apologize for kissing her, not with the taste of her still on his mouth.

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