Quarrel's eyes gleamed as he looked down at her. For some reason the image of a gilded rapier hilt popped into her mind. Florentine gold beautifully etched on the handle of a blade meant to kill.
"As it happens," he explained in his low, shaded voice, "I'm looking for indoor work."
Verity began to panic. Something was very wrong here and she was no longer sure she could deal with the situation. The man didn't actually frighten her, for all his quiet power, perhaps because she sensed that that power was very controlled. But Verity was also certain this was no casual laborer willing to eke out a living at minimum wage. There was too much intelligence in those gold eyes, too much hooded awareness of both himself and the world around him. But the factor that alarmed her the most was her own too-vivid awareness of him. She struggled to suppress it. This man was dangerous. She knew it intuitively in a way she could never have explained with words.
It was becoming obvious that Jonas Quarrel wasn't going to take no for an answer, however. She would have to find a more subtle way to get rid of him.
"I presume you have a resume?" Verity asked in a quelling tone.
"A resume?" He eyed her thoughtfully. "For a dishwashing job?"
She was onto something, Verity decided in relief. Obviously he did not have a resume.
"Well, naturally. You can't expect me to just hire you on the spot. I'll need a complete work and education history, including dates of previous employment, names of supervisors, addresses and phone numbers.
You'll have to fill out an employment application, too. I'll add it to the stack I'm collecting. When I have a lot of them I'll go through them all and make my selection."
"Sounds like a lengthy process," Quarrel observed dryly.
"Oh, it is," she agreed quickly. "Might take a couple of weeks or more."
"Is that right? What are you going to do for help this weekend?"
Verity froze. "I beg your pardon?"
"You heard me. You need help now. Tonight, in fact. You're going to be swamped in a few hours."
"I'll make do," Verity said through clenched teeth. "The managers of the Sequence Springs Spa are friends. I used to run their restaurant. They'll be glad to loan me someone from their kitchen."
"Why borrow temporary help when you've got an opportunity to hire the best on a more permanent basis?"
Verity's hand tightened on the doorknob. "I had no idea dishwashers took so much pride in their craft. You consider yourself the best, Mr. Quarrel?"
"Trust me," he said blandly. "I've got more experience and skill in the art of dishwashing and waiting on customers than anyone else who's likely to show up on your doorstep between now and five-thirty tonight."
"What about your handyperson experience?" she demanded, beginning to feel as if she were getting backed into a corner. Time was wasting. She needed to get back to the kitchen.
"i'ra very handy to have around," he assured her. "I'm capable of just about anything from unstopping a toilet to bouncing a drunk. You'll see. I'm useful."
Verity straightened her shoulders. "I only have a beer and wine license. We do not have a problem with drunks here at the No Bull. Furthermore, I have a plumber I can call if something goes wrong in the restrooms. I don't know what sort of establishments you've worked in before, but it sounds as if your job skills might be better used down at the local tavern. Why don't you try there? I'll give you the owner's name." Milt Sanderson, who owned The Keg, could deal with this man, she thought. Milt was used to dealing with construction workers, truckdrivers, and similar types.
"I'd rather work here," Jonas said simply.
"Why?" Verity demanded boldly.
"Let's just say I'm anxious to improve my lot in the world. I've got ambition."
"Uh-huh. Let's just say you try another restaurant, Mr. Quarrel. Don't bother coming back here until you have a proper resume." Verity made another attempt to close the door.
"Not so fast, Ms. Equal Opportunity Employer."
He was in the room with her before Verity quite knew what had happened. Instinctively she backed up a step. She had to get control of this situation. It was getting ludicrously out-of-hand. "Now just hold on a minute. The restaurant is closed, I've told you that. I have a million things to do before I open for the dinner crowd and I haven't got time to waste calling the police. Kindly take yourself out of here."
"A job applicant has to demonstrate perseverance. Employers respond to that. They're impressed by it."
Quarrel glanced around the dining room. "Have you got an office?"
"Yes, but I don't see what that has to do with anything. Mr. Quarrel, I would appreciate it if you would..."
"Through here, right?" He was already making his way between the maze of country French chairs and small, intimate tables toward the kitchen.
Verity's temper overcame her incipient nervousness. "What do you think you're doing?" She leaped after him.
"You want a resume? I'll give you a resume." He paced through the small tiled kitchen, past the large gas stove, the immaculately clean stainless steel counters and the sink, which was still full of dishes from the lunch crowd. Quarrel gave the sink a knowing glance. "Looks like you need me, lady." Then he was at the door of her tiny office. "Ah, just as I thought. A typewriter."
Verity stared at his sleek shoulders and back as he dropped down into the chair at her desk, reached for a sheet of typing paper, and inserted it into the machine. "You're going to type out a resume? Right here in my office?"
"Right. Now go putter around in the kitchen and stop nagging me while I work on this. It's going to take a little concentration. Been a while since I had to put a resume together. Christ. A resume to wash dishes.
What's the world coming to?" He was already flexing his fingers over the keys.
Short of calling the police, Verity was unable to think of anything else to do. She found herself looking at his hands as he began typing with quick, deft strokes. He had fascinating hands, she thought. Long, supple fingers and strong-looking wrists. A swordsman's hands.
A lover's hands.
That last impression made her frown. She stepped back out of the office and headed for the kitchen, trying to decide what to do next. This whole situation was bizarre. She didn't feel personally threatened, but she did feel astonishingly helpless.
Maybe the poor man really was desperate for a job; any job. Verity picked up the bottle of olive oil and went back to the torteilini salad she had been making.