"You went for one of the lab techs thinking he was a fifteenth-century assassin," Verity concluded softly.
She was awed by the realization that Jonas believed every word he was saying. Whatever had happened in that lab at Vincent College, one thing was certain: Jonas really had tried to kill someone. "Good lord, Jonas. Did you hurt him?"
"I almost gutted him. You could do that with a broadsword, you know. It's not like a rapier, where all the attack is done with the point. Fifteenth-century swords made bigger messes than sixteenth-century rapiers."
"Jonas, stop it. Did you kill him?"
Jonas hesitated. "No."
"He got out of the way in time?"
"No. He got hurt. Badly hurt. But before I could finish him off someone got close enough to jab me with another needle. I turned on him and nearly got him before the drug took effect. When I came to, I was tied to a hospital bed and everyone was looking at me with a kind of excited horror. I'll never forget those expressions. I was completely out of it for nearly two days, they told me later. They don't know how far out of it I really was. Only I knew I had nearly lost my mind in the struggle to control whatever had reached from Giovanni to me. I had the feeling that if I'd actually killed that lab tech, whatever was invading me would have taken over completely. When I recovered I knew I couldn't take any more chances. I also knew those damn scientists couldn't wait to get me back into the lab."
"So you walked away from everything connected with the experience at Vincent."
"I didn't just walk, Verity. I ran. For my life. For five long years."
"What do I have to do with all this, Jonas?" It took courage to ask the question. She realized she was frightened of his answer.
He looked at her, his face harsh. "Don't you understand? You're the reason I've stopped running."
"Me?" She stared at him in confusion.
"I knew the night I found your earring in that alley down in Mexico that you were some kind of key for me. You were connected to me somehow. There was a possibility that you were the only means to control things in that corridor that I was ever likely to get in this lifetime. Until I met you, I wasn't even sure there was such a thing as controlling what happened inside. But with you, I think I can start exploring that corridor again."
Verity sat perfectly still, mesmerized by the intensity of his expression. "Jonas, what are you saying?"
"That with you I have a chance of dealing with this curse that's been laid on me. You're the lifeline that I can hang on to when the past tries to rip through me into the present. With you I think I can control my psychometric ability."
VERITY was subdued and thoughtful the next morning as she descended the steel staircase to meet her hostess for breakfast. She was also feeling washed out and tense, an unsettling combination. The events of the night had kept her awake until nearly four in the morning and it was only seven now.
Jonas had not spent the remainder of the night in her room. He certainly would have done so, given the slightest encouragement, but Verity had not encouraged him. She needed time to think. His lovernaking seemed to have that effect on her, she acknowledged wryly.
It was beginning to look as if every time she made love with Jonas, she needed time and space afterward in which to recover. Why couldn't the man have been a normal, sex-crazed male looking for an easy, nostrings-attached affair? Things would have been much simpler in that event. She'd had some practice keeping such men at bay.
Jonas had left the rapier behind in her bedroom, though. He had told her bluntly that if he picked it up he would be in the same situation as he had been in last night when he charged through her door.
"I'm sure you don't want that," he had said dryly, taking his dismissal with bad grace.
"No," Verity had agreed with alacrity, "I don't want that. We'll put it back where it belongs tomorrow."
"You can hang it back up on the wall," he had told her without much interest, "or throw it over a cliff. Hell, I don't care what you do with it. I won't be spending another night here, so it doesn't matter where the rapier winds up."
He had stood for a moment in the doorway of her bedroom as she prepared to close it in his face. His gaze was brooding and watchful as he looked down at her.
"I see a pattern developing here. I'm not sure I like it. Are you always going to kick me out after I've made love to you?"
"Are you always going to spring a surprise on me after we've gone to bed together?" she had countered aggressively. "Last time it was that earring in your pocket. This time you liven things up by admitting you're only interested in me because you think I'm some kind of anchor for whatever it is that happens to you when you pick up old swords."
"Don't put words in my mouth, Verity." He reached for her, his hands closing around her shoulders.
"I wanted you the first time I saw you standing in that cantina doorway. The light was in your hair and you had on one of those breezy little Mexican dresses and you looked sweet and sexy as hell. I followed you initially because I wondered what a fire-haired little gringa with jeweled eyes was doing going from cantina to cantina. I figured if you were just looking for some fun on the wild side of Mexico, you might as well have it with me. Considering what Pedro had in mind for you, you're damn lucky I was attracted enough to follow you that night."
"Maybe any woman who attracts you physically can act as the key you say you need," Verity said seriously. She wondered if he was telling the truth about his initial attraction. It wasn't much consolation, but it was better than nothing, she supposed.
He shook his head impatiently at her suggestion. "That's not so. I just wish it were that easy. If it were true, I would have found out by now. Verity, listen to me. I know this has all come as a shock. We need to talk some more. I need to explain some things to you."
She softened then, touching his hard jaw with her fingertips. "Jonas," she said earnestly, "I believe you when you say you've got a problem. I'm not sure I believe in your psychometric ability, but I know you believe it and I accept that. But for some reason you've fixated on me as a solution to your problem. I'm not sure what that means, but it might be dangerous for both of us. Perhaps you should seek professional help."
"Christ, don't tell me to get counseling. I don't need therapy! I gave that a whirl back at Vincent when I first began to think I might go crazy. It was useless. I'm not suffering from delusions or psychoses. I'm suffering from an excess of reality, past and present. You haven't understood a word I've said tonight, have you?" He dropped his hands and gave her a small push back into her room. "Go ahead and go back to your lonely bed. 1 hope you enjoy your solitude. But I'm willing to bet it won't be nearly as satisfying as the way I made you feel a while ago when you were shivering in my arms."