But a part of me had to hear the truth. I can't stand not knowing."
Jonas stopped rubbing his leg and propped his elbows on his knees. He laced his fingers and leaned his chin on his hands. His golden eyes were deep and brooding as he contemplated her. "So you started pushing me, waiting to see what would happen when the blow-up finally came. Well, you found out, didn't you?"
"No. All I got for ray efforts was a beating. That's not an answer." She got to her feet and walked toward the window.
Jonas followed, coming up behind her. "That was no beating. That was a display of extreme masculine displeasure. Besides, we're even. I may never walk properly again. I think you ruined my leg."
"You deserved it."
"I'd never really hurt you and you know it." He settled both hands on her shoulders and pulled her back against him. He put his face into her tangled hair. "You do know that, don't you?"
"Yes, I know that," she admitted reluctantly. It was the truth. She would never have any need to fear this man. He had already given her ample proof that he would fight to the death for her.
"I'm not going anywhere, little tyrant. It would take a nuclear bomb to remove me from your vicinity. I need you, I want you, and it dawned on me a few days ago that I'm in love with you. You should have realized it before I did. You have such great insight into my character."
"Oh, Jonas." She turned in his arms, her eyes shining. "Do you mean it? You love me?"
He smiled down at her. "I said it, didn't I?"
Her smile was shaky with relief. "Then you mean it," she whispered. She buried her face against his chest. "You wouldn't lie to me."
"I couldn't lie to you," he said quietly. "We're bound together, you and I, in a very special way. Maybe whatever holds us together in that psychic corridor links us outside as well. Maybe that's why I wanted you so badly the first time I saw you. Maybe that's the real reason I traveled a couple of thousand miles to find you."
She knew then, with sure instinct, that he was right. "But do you think our psychic link is a strong enough basis on which to build a relationship?" she asked hesitantly, Jonas locked his fingers in her hair. "I have a hunch it provides a much stronger foundation than most relationships have. Besides, we haven't got a relationship. We're in love."
"But is it really love?" Verity persisted thoughtfully. "I believe you when you say you think you're in love with me, but maybe you're just misinterpreting that sense of being psychically linked to me. Maybe there isn't any word for the kind of connection we share, so you're willing to label it love but in reality it could be... Mmmmmph."
The last of her lecture on the subject of the reality of love died beneath Jonas's forceful kiss. He didn't release her mouth for a long time, not until she had gone soft and compliant in his arms. Then he slowly eased the kiss until his lips were just barely brushing hers. He murmured softly:
"My lady has for too long sworn that no man's will would bind or bend her.
But I have braved the thorns that guard her secrets.
I claim the victory and the treasure.
Now I think it's time my lady learned the art of sweet surrender."
"Where do you get that awful Renaissance poetry you're always quoting?" Verity asked admiringly as she wrapped her arms around his waist.
Jonas laughed with wicked triumph as he picked her up and carried her down the hall toward the bedroom.
"I make it up as I go along," he told her.
"I was afraid of that."
She pulled his head down to hers so that she could kiss him with the thoroughness he deserved.