Home > Twilight Fall (Darkyn #6)

Twilight Fall (Darkyn #6)
Author: Lynn Viehl

Chapter 1

As Diane Lindquist touched up her lipstick, fluffed her bangs, and dabbed Allure by Chanel under each earlobe, she smelled urine.

Behind her, her brother, Daniel, lay in his hospital bed, the wisps of his thinning blond hair neatly combed, a nasal cannula hissing oxygen through his swollen nose into his wasted lungs. Six months ago a stroke had dragged half of his face toward his square chin, where it still drooped. His cloudy blue eyes, identical in color and shape to Diane’s, wandered restless in their sockets, alert but not aware, searching but unable to find.

In age he was forty-six; in appearance he looked sixty-four.

I’ll always be older than you-hoo.

She turned her head from side to side, using her fingers to rub some excess blush from one cheekbone. One of the nurses had said that he would be here tonight, and she had to look her best. But even at $250 an ounce, her Allure parfum wouldn’t mask the stink coming from her brother’s bed.

She pressed her lips together to even out the color on her lips. “I hope you didn’t do something bad again, Danny.”

"Die-uh," her brother crooned, responding to the sound of her voice. "Die-uh."

Diiiiiiiaaaaaaaaaaaaane. Daniel, eleven years old, standing beside her bed in the dark. Wake up, Diiiiiiiiiii-aaaaaaaaaane.

The stroke that had destroyed a good portion of Daniel Geoffrey Lindquist Jr.'s brain tissue could be called many things, depending on who you asked. Lindquist Industries' executive board felt it was a minor setback that the young Mr. Lindquist would quickly overcome. Country-club buddies called it "bad luck" but were sure that Dan would soon get back "up to par."

Those who were not close personal friends of the Lindquist siblings, or who were not obliged to keep shareholders from panicking, used the standard, socially accepted expressions of sympathy. "Horrible tragedy" topped the list, followed by "undeserved tribulation" and "unbelievably sad turn of events."

No one mentioned the drugs, the booze, the sex, or any of Daniel's other self-destructive amusements. Wealth had its privileges. While he was alive, even old Mr. Lindquist had been philosophical about his son's various addictions. When someone had the bad taste to mention them, his usual comment was something along the lines of. Boys will be boys.

If asked about her brother's stroke, Diane would only offer a sad but courageous smile while she remembered her brother peeing on her bed.

She could still see him there in the dark, opening the front of his pajamas, taking out his ugly snake thing, and aiming the stream at her narrow pelvis. The smell and heal of his urine would wake her up, but it always soaked through her sheets and into her pajamas before she could roll out of the way. Look, you wet the bed again, Diane. I'm going to teh-hell. You wet the be-hed, ha, ha, ha.

Their father had adored Daniel, of course. Had doted on his only son. Had believed every word out of his angelic mouth.

See, Daddy? Danny, standing at the foot of the bed, pointing a righteous finger. She did it again, just like I told you. I can smell it all the way in my room.

Daniel Geoffrey Lindquist Sr., with the stoic calm of a parent resigned to performing a highly unpleasant but necessary task, patting his son on the head. You're a good boy, Danny. Now go back to bed.

Diane knew exactly why her brother had had a stroke. Like an indifferent leech, he had attached himself to family, friends and life and sucked them all dry. That included their parents, three wives, several mistresses, innumerable hookers, and a daughter. All of them were dead or gone now. All except Diane, the only one who really understood Dan, and who had stood by her brother.

Diane endured it all, and in the process made herself indispensable to Danny. She was the only one Dan trusted to supervise his household, pay his bills, clean up his post-high puke, pay off his prostitutes, and, of course, purchase his drugs. And because Daniel had been a lifelong user, no one had been surprised that he had overdosed, as he had done so several times.

Nor had anyone bothered to check out the exact chemical components of the narcotic cocktail he had snorted moments before the first seizure hit.

I'm disappointed, Diane. Daddy, sitting behind his desk, rolling a fat Cuban cigar between his fingers. You were supposed to find a husband at that college, not fill your head with useless nonsense.

Magna cum laude, she'd graduated, with a sterling degree in business. But, Daddy, don't you see, I can help you run the company—

I have Daniel for that.

In Diane Lindquist's opinion, the stroke that had transformed her brother into a six-foot-two drooling carrot was simply long-overdue justice.

It had cost Diane a small fortune to arrange her brother's admission to the Lighthouse Rehabilitation Center. Small, exclusive, and insanely expensive. Lighthouse had an admissions waiting list a mile long—assuming you were first approved to be placed on the waiting list. But appearances had to be maintained, and a very generous donation from Lindquist Industries had finally convinced Dasherz Corporation, which owned the facility, to allow Dan to have the next available bed.

No one would ever say that Diane did not love her brother.

The doctors had been very clear about Daniel's chances. He would never leave the nursing home again, and his condition would continue to deteriorate until such time as would be appropriate to bring him home to die.

Clean, quiet, and classy—that was the Lighthouse. A discreet haven where old-money Chicago families could stick their demented, disabled, and dying relatives, owned by one of the nicest, kindest European gentlemen Diane had ever met. Not at all the sort of place her brother should have been stinking up by peeing in his bed.

Daddy, lighting his cigar, puffing on it until the end glowed bright red. If you're going to have a nervous breakdown, I'll pack you off to that high-priced nuthouse where I put your mother. Stop sniveling and go make me and Danny some lunch.

Diane could have summoned a nurse to deal with the mess. The well-paid staff behaved as if they doted on their patients. But now that her father was dead, it was her duty to see to her brother's needs.

Danny, drinking and reeling as he staggered in from a night of whoring. Just get me the coke, you stupid twat.

Diane took her duty to her brother very seriously.

She capped her lipstick and placed it back in her purse before she removed her jacket and went over to the bed. The odor grew stronger with every step she took toward him.

"Poor Danny. You were such a good boy." She stroked her hand over his skull, tugging playfully at the pathetic cobwebs of his hair. A few small beads of blood appeared on his pink scalp, which she blotted away with her handkerchief. The strands of hair she had pulled out she lucked between his curled fingers, another trick Danny had taught her when they were kids. "How could you do such a baby thing like wet your bed?"

Saliva wet Daniel's lips as his mouth worked and he stared up at her, but nothing came out.

"There's a bathroom right over there, so you don't have any excuse." She pulled back his bed linens and examined the wet, dark yellow stain that had soaked his pajama bottoms and blotched the white sheet under his bony hips. "Oh, look at the mess you made. I'm so disappointed."

At first the nurses had tried to keep Daniel on a catheter, but his physician had ordered them to remove it after it had caused several nasty urinary tract infections. After that, the adult diapers they had put on Daniel had given him a terrible rash. As Diane had told the staff many times, her brother was perfectly capable of getting up and using the toilet.

All he needed was a little reminder.

Diane yanked the urine-stained sheet out from under her brother, grunting a little as she worked it free before she balled up the damp section and shoved it under his nose. "Do you smell that? What is that? Where does it go?"

"Uuuuuh." Daniel cowered and turned his head away. "Eeeeee."

"You're a disgusting, dirty boy." She scrubbed the urine-stained sheet all over his face before stuffing a fistful of it into his mouth to muffle his squeals. "Look at these pants. They're ruined."

Diane stripped off her brother's pajama bottoms and white cotton briefs, tossing them aside. She considered letting him live a little longer—torturing Danny these last few weeks had been surprisingly satisfying—but some of the nosier nurses had been giving her odd looks, and she couldn't afford to fail again. Until Danny died, she wouldn't inherit a dime: their father had left him in control of everything.

Women can't handle important business, Daddy had said. Your brother will look after you when I'm gone.

She re-dressed Danny, and then straightened his bed before she pulled on a pair of latex gloves from the box by the sink. She smiled as she removed the syringe from her purse. The drugs had been expensive, but her supplier assured her that they wouldn't show up if some fool doctor ordered an autopsy. She unbuttoned her blouse as she went to the heart monitor, and pulled up a chair beside her brother's bed. He was crying.

"Stop sniveling," she told him as she tore the monitor lead from his chest, and quickly pressed the patch to her left breast. "You're going to see Daddy." She'd given her brother enough injections over the years to know how to hide the needle mark. "Open wide. Danny. Diane has some nice drugs for you."

Daniel looked at her with his bleary eyes and, responding to the one word she mentioned that promised relief and pleasure, opened his mouth.

Diane pushed his tongue up with her thumb and looked for the right spot. The acrid reek of urine seemed to burn in her nostrils, but in a few minutes it would all be over. Then the syringe slipped out of her hand, and as she reached for it, something seemed to make time slow down and thicken.

"Miss Lindquist."

She couldn't smell her brother's pee anymore, only flowers. Such a pretty scent, but so odd. It made her arms and legs feel so heavy, and her head light.

"Miss Lindquist," repeated the low, courteous voice with a soft European accent repeated. "Release your brother, if you please."

"Yes." Once she had, she felt a wonderfully strong, cool masculine hand rest against her hot neck. "I was hoping to see you."

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