Can't you understand that?"
"Don't lock your door tonight."
She eyed him warily. "Why not?"
"Because after the party I'm going to sneak down the hall and slip into this room. The same way I did the last time we were here," he added with satisfaction.
"You didn't exactly come tippy-toeing down the hall last time. You showed up half-naked with a big sword in one hand. When the lightning lit the room I thought I was about to be stabbed to death by a madman."
"You have an overactive imagination."
"Hah. You're the last person on the face of this earth who should be lecturing someone else about an active imagination. Jonas, why are you staring at that bed?"
"I don't know. Something about it is..." he broke off, searching for the word. "Disturbing."
"Now who's showing signs of an overactive imagination? What do you mean, disturbing?"
"It's disturbing in the same sense the dagger in Kincaid's office was disturbing. I've never picked up vibrations from modern stuff until I met you, Verity. But things seem to be changing. First the dagger and now this bed."
Verity froze. "The bed? You're picking up a sensation from the bed? Something that leads to that damned corridor? I thought you only responded to weapons."
"Or something that has a close association with violence. Anything can be used as a weapon or have an association with violence," he explained absently.
"But a bed?"
"Let's see what happens."
Belatedly Verity's alarm bell started ringing. "Wait! Jonas, I don't think this is a good idea. Maybe you'd better not touch it."
But she was too late. He had already curved his fingers around the steel bedpost and the instant he touched the metal, Verity was disconcerted to find herself inside a fuzzy version of the now-familiar psychic corridor.
"I'm here." He came up behind her in the corridor and his hand closed over her shoulder. "Look."
He spun her around and Verity found herself staring at an insubstantial dream image of the bed. It floated in the corridor, vague and indistinct. But in this image the bed was wildly rumpled. The sheets were bloodstained and the nude figure of a woman was lying obscenely spread-eagled across the mattress. There was blood between the woman's legs and in her dark hair. She had her head turned away. The woman appeared to be either dead or unconscious.
Verity reacted with more horror than she had felt toward any of the other images she had encountered in the corridor. She was paralyzed with it. She knew without further examination that she was staring at the scene of a violent rape. Even as she watched, savage red emotions unfurled from under the bed and twisted blindly toward Jonas.
They got sidetracked when they sensed Verity's presence and reluctantly swerved to curl around her feet in obedience to the invisible pull she had on them.
Verity cried out and found some control over her muscles, enough to enable her to flee. She whirled to run, afraid she would vomit before she could get out of the corridor. Her stomach was churning.
"Jonas, help me. Help me." It was the first time she had ever called out to him. Always before he was the one who had demanded help in the corridor. He caught hold of her, his fingers like iron on her shoulders.
"I'm here, Verity." He held her tightly, refusing to let her flee. "It's all right. Everything's under control.
I want to see if I can handle a couple of those ribbons. I've definitely been getting stronger lately and I may be at a point where I can manage some of the emotions instead of being overwhelmed by them.
Should be an interesting experiment."
Verity was frantic with her horror. She grabbed the front of his shirt with two small fists and shouted in his face, "No. Absolutely not. Get us out of here. Now."
Something of her terror must have gotten through to him. He looked down at her and in real time he released his hold on the bedpost.
An instant later they were both standing safely in the bedroom. Verity was trembling so badly she had to sit down. Automatically she started to sink onto the bed and then she remembered the scene she had just witnessed. She jumped up again and went across the room to the chair, taking deep breaths to steady herself.
"Oh, God, Jonas, that was the worst one yet," she whispered. Her hands twisted together in her lap.
She tried to still them between her jeaned legs.
Jonas went over to stand beside her, his hand moving soothingly in her hair. "Maybe it was bad for you because there was a woman in it," he suggested. "You've never seen a woman in one of those images before."
Verity shook her head desperately. "It wasn't just that there was a woman. It was the fact that I know her."
"What?" Jonas's hand stopped making gentling movements in her hair. He caught her chin and lifted her face so that he could look at her. "You think you know her? Verity, I've never seen anyone I know in those images."
"Since you've only recently started seeing contemporary images, that's hardly surprising," she muttered.
"Well? Don't keep me in suspense. Who is she? Or should I say who was she?"
"I'm not sure. There was just something about her I recognized. I just had a feeling I knew her, that's all."
"Honey," he said gently. "I don't think that's possible. She may have resembled someone you've met at some point in your life, but that's all."
Verity surged to her feet. "I know what I saw. Jonas, this is awful. How can I sleep here tonight?
I won't be able to close my eyes without seeing that horrible picture of that poor woman. She'd been raped. She might have been dead. I couldn't tell for sure. I can't possibly sleep in this room."
"That problem is easily solved," he said firmly. "You'll sleep with me. Now come on. Get your jacket.
We're going for a walk down on the beach. It will clear your head. Exercise is good for stress."
For once she was grateful to have Jonas take charge. Verity didn't argue. She got her jacket and meekly allowed him to lead her down to the sea. On the way down the steep trail that led to the beach she decided he was right. She would be the one sneaking down the hall tonight. The hell with social niceties.
She was not going to sleep alone in that terrible bed.
"Remember what Caitlin said about her house having once had a reputation for wild orgies?"
"Everyone has a different definition of what constitutes an orgy. It's easy to see where the locals might have exaggerated things for the sake of a good story."