Verity felt no sense of being rushed. She had all the time in the world to enjoy this kiss. Languidly she touched him, her fingertips trailing through the crisp, curling hair of his chest.
Jonas seemed content to let her explore him slowly just as he was exploring her.
All the time in the world, Verity thought. She had waited so long and now she could take her time and do it right. This was the man—the right man. She didn't understand how it could be possible, but she knew intuitively that she was poised on a precarious peak. If she took one more step...
The lights suddenly blazed in the pool room.
"I'm sorry, folks, no guests allowed in the spa pools after ten o'clock. I'm afraid you'll have to leave."
Verity gasped at the sound of the familiar voice. She jerked out of Jonas's grasp, flailing wildly for an instant before toppling off his thighs and falling backward into the pool. The hot, bubbling water closed over her head.
A second later she felt a pair of strong hands grasp her shoulders and pull her upright. Sputtering and gasping for breath, Verity found her footing and stood. Her hair was plastered tightly against her head and she wiped the back of her hand across her eyes to get rid of the excess water. Jonas's hands remained on her shoulders as he turned to look at the newcomer.
"Hi, Laura," Verity mumbled.
Laura Griswald stared at the pair in the pool, the expression on her pretty face registering first astonishment and then speculative amusement. "Sorry, Verity. I didn't realize it was you. I just saw two people in the pool and assumed a couple of guests had violated the rules. Who's your friend?"
Verity knew she was turning a dull red. Despite the heat of the water, she could feel the warmth in her face. She ducked out from under Jonas's hands and waded determinedly to the edge of the pool where she had left a thick white towel earlier.
"Laura, this is Jonas Quarrel. He, uh, works for me. I hired him Friday. Jonas, meet Laura Griswald.
She and her husband operate this place." She made a production out of blotting her hair and face while the other two exchanged polite greetings. By the time the pleasantries were over, she had herself well under control again. A bit of embarrassment was all that remained. She smiled bravely at Laura. "Busy weekend, wasn't it, Laura? I thought things would settle down now that fall is here, but the weekends, at least, still seem to be going strong. I'll be glad to start closing Sundays as well as Mondays. Jonas and I worked hard this evening. We decided to use your spa to relax. Hope you don't mind?"
If Laura thought her friend was chattering inanely, she kindly refrained from saying so. She smiled back, her bright hazel eyes moving with open interest from Jonas's unruffled expression to Verity's pink-tinged cheeks. Beneath the Sighting of the spa room, Laura's shoulder-length brown hair gleamed with health. In fact, her whole body looked quite sleek and trim and bursting with energy, as befitted the manager of a spa. She was three years older than Verity and occasionally took a somewhat protective attitude toward her.
Laura was not above trying to matchmake for Verity and had made several futile attempts to pair her friend off with a carefully chosen up-and-coming type who was vacationing at the spa. To date, all of Laura's efforts had failed, so it was not surprising that she found the sight of Verity in a man's arms quite interesting. Verity stifled a groan and finished drying herself.
"Don't rush out on my account," Laura said hastily as Jonas hauled himself "lightly out of the pool. "Feel free to stay as long as you like. Verity and her friends aren't subject to the same rules as the guests."
"That's all right," Jonas said, his eyes on Verity as he reached for a towel to wrap around his waist.
"Something tells me it's time to call it a night. Ready to go back to the cabin, Verity?"
Verity cleared her throat. "Yes," she said firmly, "I am. Good night, Laura."
Laura's smile was beatific. "Good night, Verity. Nice to meet you, Jonas. I'm glad Verity was able to solve her staffing problems so quickly. Good help is so hard to get."
JONAS got out of bed Monday morning with a feeling of pleasant expectation. The No Bull was closed for the day and he intended to use the free time to finish settling into his new home. It looked like he was going to be around for a while, he thought, as he padded barefoot across the cold wooden floor to the small, chilled bathroom. The notion gave him an unfamiliar sense of satisfaction.
He glanced at the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves that lined every wall of the small cabin and wondered where he would put his few personal items. Someone, presumably Emerson Ames, had already turned the place into a long-term storage facility for a private library.
Well, Jonas reminded himself as he considered the limited room available, he didn't need much space.
He'd been traveling light for years. A man on the run didn't let himself get weighed down with too many belongings.
He studied himself critically in the cracked bathroom mirror while he ran water into the sink. There was no getting around the fact that he did not appear too prepossessing in the mornings. The dark stubble of his beard gave his lean face a shadowed, menacing look. Jonas wondered if Verity would mind.
Ah, well, she would get used to it. After all, he had.
He worked up a lather and applied it to the stubble while he contemplated the mental image of Verity in the mornings. Jonas decided she would look pleasantly tousled and flushed with sleep, all her normal barriers lowered.
Those barriers had begun to crumble quite nicely last night in the spa pool. Jonas felt another wave of satisfaction go through him as he picked up his razor. Given a little more time, he would have had that prim swimsuit off of her. Verity hadn't been fighting him. In fact, she had seemed as caught up in the moment as he had.
It was too bad about Laura Griswald's interruption, but Jonas was philosophical. He had plenty of time.
He'd been in a rush to locate Verity, but now that he'd found her, he could afford to take things easy. He hadn't even tried to pick up where he'd left off in the pool last night after he'd walked Verity back to her cabin. He had enough sense to know when to push and when not to.
He felt he had all the time in the world. It was a pleasant feeling. The idea of getting to know Verity slowly and intimately filled him with a throbbing excitement. The only major problem Jonas could see was the very practical one of how long he could restrain himself physically. After last night, it was going to be hard to let things take a slow, leisurely course toward bed. But he was determined to try.
The last thing he wanted to do was rush her.