"Not inconceivable," Jonas agreed. "All the same, when you send the money to Yarington maybe you'd better verify that the guy who imposed upon our hospitality this evening was really a representative of the Yarington Savings and Loan Association."
"I'll do that. Maybe that fat deputy who took notes earlier this evening will get something out of our visitor."
"I doubt it. The guy who came through that door with such a flourish is obviously into heavy drama.
That camouflage shirt looked like it came out of a catalog aimed at the well-dressed-mercenary market.
He'll consider silence a noble virtue. And I don't think the Sequence Springs sheriff's department has had a lot of experience breaking down professionals. My guess is it will be a while before anyone gets him to talk."
"That's assuming he survives the night."
"Yeah," Jonas said. "That's assuming he survives. Be just my luck to have him croak. Verity would probably hold me personally accountable." It was bad enough that he had been responsible for all that blood that had soaked the guy's shirt. Jonas didn't want to think about what Verity might say or do if it turned out that he had killed him.
"You've got a point there. My daughter has witnessed violence before in her life but she doesn't tolerate it well. Behind that sharp tongue she's a sensitive little creature. Too empathic and too sympathetic for her own good. It's what makes her prone to the dangers of naivete. Takes after her mother in that respect."
* * *
The initial shock of the evening's events had wom off by midmorning, but Verity was still tense and filled with a vague anger as she headed for the No Bull Cafe. She sought solace in the kitchen, throwing herself into the preparations for lunch, When Jonas warily walked in around eleven, she was ready for him.
She was determined to be nonchalant and matter-of-fact about last night's events. She could be just as cool as either Jonas or her father.
"You're here on time. Good. You can chop these carrots. Do a careful job, Jonas. I want them neat. When you're finished with that you can unpack the shipment of soy sauce that arrived a few minutes ago."
"Yes, ma'am." He went to work without another word.
Verity watched him out of the corner of her eyes for a few minutes, waiting for him to say something about the previous night. But Jonas worked in silence, peeling carrots and slicing them into neat little circles as if he wasn't worried about anything else in the world. Eventually Verity couldn't stand it any longer. She cleared her throat wamingly.
"Any word on the condition of that man who attacked Dad last night?"
"He's alive." Jonas didn't offer any more.
"That's a relief." Verity frowned. "Well? Has he said anything to the authorities?"
"Not that I know of."
A wave of angry frustration washed though her, momentarily driving out her determination to be serenely casual about the situation. Jonas's attitude of remote calm was too much. "Dammit, he could have killed both of you!" she said through her teeth. "He had a gun. A big one, in case you didn't notice.
All you had was a knife. I could have knocked on the cabin door this morning and found both you and Dad dead on the floor. Dammit to hell, Jonas!"
"Take it easy, Verity. Everything turned out all right."
She wanted to scream at him that there was no way she could take anything like this easily, but at the last second Verity regained her self-control. She instantly regretted the temporary loss of it. She would be calm about this if it killed her.
"If you've finished the carrots you can put them into that bowl. I've got to make some salad dressing." She picked up the bottle of extra virgin olive oil.
Jonas glanced at her but said nothing about her abrupt shift in attitude. It was as if he didn't know quite how to handle her as she skipped from one mood to the other. Verity took what satisfaction she could from that.
She took further satisfaction from the way both Jonas and her father tiptoed around her for the rest of the day. Neither man seemed inclined to risk setting free her short temper. They took orders meekly, carried them out swiftly, and generally kept out of her way.
Verity felt more shrewish and tyrannical than ever.
* * *
When the No Bull closed for the night, she headed for the mineral baths at the resort. Jonas and Emerson turned down the path to their cottage with little more than a polite goodnight. Verity glanced back over her shoulder a couple of times, wistfully wishing that Jonas had said something about joining her in the spa. But it was obvious he had other plans for the evening. Another chess game, probably.
She could hardly blame him, she told herself. After all, she hadn't been very encouraging all day. The man had a right to suspect she wanted to be alone tonight. But the truth was that she didn't want to be alone. For better or worse, she was getting accustomed to having Jonas Quarrel around in the evenings.
With a barely stifled groan of frustration, Verity let herself into the empty spa room and undressed. She had rarely needed the therapy of the pools as much as she did tonight, she reflected as she slipped into the hot, aromatic water. Her love life was a disaster, some gunman had nearly killed Jonas and her father, and she had spent the day sniping at the two people she loved.
At least Jonas hadn't been turned into a killer by the whole thing. She didn't waste any sympathy on the man he had downed with his knife, but she was grateful that Jonas wouldn't have to add one more ghost to his collection. He had enough phantoms in his eyes.
She leaned back against the tile, closed her eyes, and sent out a silent apology to Jonas. Depressingly confident that she was not the least bit telepathic, she added a mental call for him to join her in the baths. It would be so much easier to use passion rather than words as a means of smoothing over the awkwardness between them. She was not good at apologizing to men like her father or Jonas who seemed inclined to get themselves into trouble. They hardly qualified as innocent victims in this world; therefore, she felt a strong tendency to lecture them on their flaws.
No, she told herself, she definitely did not owe Jonas or Emerson an apology for her short temper today. Both men were far too much at ease with violence. They didn't need to be coddled or encouraged in that direction.
Half an hour later, Verity realized Jonas wasn't going to show. So much for her poor powers of telepathy.
She would become a prune if she stayed in the spa any longer.
Slowly she got out of the pool, dried herself, and dressed in her jeans and shirt. She left her hair pinned up in a shower of curls clustered at the top of her head. Then she let herself out of the spa and started back toward her cabin.