Home > Nightshine (Kyndred #4)(8)

Nightshine (Kyndred #4)(8)
Author: Lynn Viehl

“O. Negative.”

They were both universal donors with the same blood type; relief made her feel a little dizzy. “Then I think it’s your lucky day.”

She prepped a pressure bag and filled half of it with isotonic saline, which would dilute her own blood but give his body the extra fluid it needed. Once she tied off his upper arm with a tourniquet, she inserted an eighteen-gauge needle into one prominent, distended subcutaneous vein. As soon as she saw the dark red flashback that confirmed the needle was in place, she taped it down and attached the tubing before starting on her own arm.

“Okay, Sam, here we go,” she said as she inflated the pressure bag, hanging it from one of the knobs along the top of the headboard and releasing the clamp. Blood flowed from her arm through the tube into the bag, where it mixed with the saline and began to descend.

Charlie watched the drip chamber closely. The flow had to be continuous, but if she used too much pressure, the bag seams would split or the blood cells would lyse. Once she felt good about the flow rate, she took out her stethoscope and checked his heart and lung sounds. His pulse, while still slow, had grown stronger.

“Still beating,” he murmured. His face appeared less gray now, and his voice was a little stronger.

“So I hear. I like that a lot. Keep doing it.” She didn’t hear any arrhythmias that would indicate an allergic reaction to the transfusion. “Can you feel this?” She took her hand and squeezed the fingers on his right hand and then his left. Both times he nodded and moved his fingers. “Is there any numbness on either side of your body?”

“No. Just . . . tired.”

“You’re entitled. Now, open up for me.” When he did, she tilted his head back to inspect his palate, and saw the two wounds were much smaller than they’d looked at first glance, and weren’t punctures, as she had originally assumed. “Do you remember how you hurt your mouth?”

“No.” He looked confused.

“It’s okay,” she assured him. “You’ve just got a couple abrasions on the roof of your mouth, that’s all.”

The urgency involved in providing medical care to a male patient always neutralized any normal interest Charlie might have felt toward him; whenever she worked on a man he was simply the patient. She took that distance for granted, as she was usually too busy trying to keep her patients alive to notice how attractive they were or what kind of body they had.

That wasn’t happening this time, not with Samuel. Her eyes kept straying back to his face, but not to check his color or watch for signs of reaction. Without the beard masking the lower half of his face, his strong features were almost savagely handsome, from the high-def cheekbones down to the squared jaw. The mixed bag of his genetics had saved him from a thin line of a mouth and instead gifted him with the kind of full, sensual lips that made a woman think instantly of kissing.

As heart-stopping as Samuel’s face was, his body proved even harder to ignore. His perfectly tanned skin looked sprayed on, it seemed so flawless, and the development of his upper body was nothing short of superb. She’d known guys who spent half their lives gulping protein shakes and pumping iron who never achieved such beautiful muscles or physical symmetry.

It won’t matter what he looks like if he codes on me again.

Charlie forced herself to focus on her job. She couldn’t afford to give him too much of her own blood, but she pushed it to the limit before she finished the transfusion and took out the suture kit.

“Hey, Sam, I’ve got to stitch you up. Bad news is that I didn’t find any local anesthetic I can give you for the pain. Good news is that I’m really fast with a needle, but I need you to hold still.” When he didn’t answer her she glanced down and saw he’d slipped back into unconsciousness. “All right, that’ll work, too.”

Chapter 3

Andrew Riordan parked his rental car on the street across from the marina and watched the cops taping off the access turn to the parking lot. A forensics team surrounded the abandoned ambulance, working silently as they removed plastic bags of evidence and dusted the surfaces for prints.

Earlier that day Drew had been sitting in his apartment in a small northern California town, sipping instant coffee and checking news reports, when he’d caught the live coverage of the shooting on the Golden Gate Bridge. The moment he’d learned that Samuel Taske had been taken hostage by the gunman, he’d dressed, grabbed his go bag, and left, making the necessary calls from his car as he drove south toward San Francisco.

Samuel Taske was ranked by Forbes as the seventh-richest man in America, something that made him a very attractive prospect for kidnapping. What the public didn’t know about the antiques dealer was that he was part of the Takyn, a very private, select group of people who had been genetically altered in infancy to become superhumans with extraordinary psychic abilities. Samuel, known by most of the Takyn as Paracelsus, was the second-oldest and probably the wealthiest member of the group, and had the ability to read the history of objects simply by touching them with his bare hands.

At first Drew had known Samuel only through the Internet site the Takyn used to communicate with one another, but over the past winter they had become close friends. The antiques dealer had spared no expense in helping Drew track down Rowan Dietrich, another member of the Takyn, after a motorcycle accident had left her stranded in New York City.

Now Samuel was in trouble, and Drew would do whatever it took to get him back safely.

He put on his wireless mike and speed-dialed a number in Tennessee on his encrypted satellite phone. “It’s Drew,” he said as soon the man on the other end answered. “I’m in Monterey. They’ve recovered the ambulance, but there is no sign of the shooter or the hostages.”

“We have received no word yet from Paracelsus,” Matthias told him. “Zephyr is at the hospital watching over the driver, but he is still in surgery. We will move him as soon as he is stable enough for transport.”

“Why the rush?” Drew asked.

“Genaro left Atlanta by private jet this morning,” Matthias told him. “His pilot filed a flight plan for San Francisco.”

“Great.” Drew took a penny from the change niche in the dash and rubbed it between his fingers. “This doesn’t feel like a GenHance operation, boss. For one thing, they’d never want this kind of publicity.” The penny in his hand rose in the air above his palm and spun in a slow circle. “What about the EMT?”

“We know a little, mostly from the news,” Matthias said. “Her name is Charlotte Marena, twenty-nine, the daughter of Mexican immigrants. She is single, a graduate of UCLA, a licensed emergency care practitioner, and employed by the city fire department.”

“So she was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Drew didn’t believe it for a second. “Ask your lady if she would take a good look at Ms. Marena.”

“Jessa has already begun the background investigation.”

“Excellent. I’ll contact you when I have news.”

After ending the call, Drew reached under his seat and took out a large zippered case from which he removed a folded tie, a gun and shoulder holster, and forged credentials identifying him as an FBI special agent. Once he had switched out his fake IDs and strapped on the weapon, he turned and grabbed the jacket he kept on the backseat and got out, sliding on his sunglasses before donning the jacket and heading toward the patrolman manning the barricade.

“Officer.” Drew showed him the phony ID. “Agent Frasier from San Francisco. Who’s in charge of the scene?”

“Detective Goldberg.” He pointed to a short, dark-haired man talking to one of the forensic techs. “He’s coordinating with SFPD over the phone. How’d you get here so quick?”

“I was on vacation in the area and got pulled.” Drew glanced at the dock. “Any sign of the hostages?”

“They found some blood inside the rig,” the patrolman said. “No cars have been reported stolen, so it might have been a prearranged drop.”

“Thanks.” Drew walked in the general direction of the detective, but once the patrolman had turned back to watch the road, he headed for the dock.

Most of the vessels docked at the pier were big, expensive, and fitted with canvas toppers, suggesting they were the weekend toys of suburb sailors. Drew spotted one elderly man sitting on a deck chair on an old but beautifully preserved sloop; he puffed on a cigar while he watched the cops in the parking lot. Every now and then he would shake his head a little.

Drew stopped by the stern of the sloop. “Afternoon. Mind if I come on board and ask you a couple questions?”

“What’s in it for me?” the old man demanded.

“I don’t take you downtown, hold you as a material witness to a kidnapping, or question you for hours,” Drew countered.

“That’ll work.” The old man gestured for him to approach.

He stepped over the starboard railing onto the deck and looked out at the parking lot before taking out a notepad. “Did you see that ambulance when it arrived here?”

“I heard the lead-footed ass driving it when he laid on the brakes. Sounded like he ran over a cat.” He squinted up at Drew. “You’re not local.”

“I’m with FBI’s San Francisco office.” Drew looked down the row of boats and noted the empty slip at the very end. “About what time did you hear the noise?”

“Might have been two, two thirty. I came up to see what all the commotion was.” He drew on the end of the cigar and let the smoke waft slowly from his mouth into his nostrils. “Mexican fella pushed a cart covered with a mound of bloodstained sheets on it down to Wass’s slip. Howie said he’d gotten chartered to take some sportfishermen down to Mexico, but more likely he was hired to take the bodies out a few miles and dump them.”

Drew stopped pretending to take notes. “What happened then?”

“The Mexican and Howie carried what looked like two stiffs on board and stowed them below. I didn’t see Howie again after that. Greedy bastard probably got his throat cut.” The old man carefully snuffed out his cigar. “The Mexican came up a bit later, cast off the lines, and headed out.”

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