"You're the one who's going to die now, Kincaid," Jonas said far too softly.
"Quarrel!" Kincaid sounded confused for an instant, as if he didn't understand what was happening.
Then he reacted, rolling off of Verity.
Verity shoved the pillow aside, gasping for air. She found herself clinging to the edge of the bed.
Another half-inch and she would fall onto the floor.
Jonas hurled himself into the room. But Kincaid already had the gun he had left on the nightstand. He wasn't aiming it at Jonas but at Verity. Jonas halted at the foot of the bed, his eyes full of the promise of death in a face that could have been carved from stone.
Kincaid sucked in air. "Don't come any closer or I'll blow her brains out all over that bed."
Verity looked up at him and realized that while Kincaid held the gun aimed at her, his whole attention was on the real danger in the room. He didn't let his gaze waver for a second from Jonas's tautly coiled body.
"What happened to Tresslar?" Kincaid demanded as he regained his self-control. He was still breathing hard, as if he had been interrupted in the middle of a sexual encounter.
"Tresslar's at the bottom of the cliff," Jonas said in the same soft voice he had used to tell Kincaid he intended to kill him.
"I don't know how you got away from him, but I'll worry about it later. It looks as though there will have to be some last-minute changes here. The three of us are going to make another trip down those back stairs. I will keep the gun under my cloak but it will be aimed at this redhaired bitch. Understand, Quarrel? If anyone tries to question us, remember that your lady here will be the first one to go. All right, let's move."
Verity obeyed with alacrity, but instead of getting to her feet as Kincaid stepped away from the bed, she simply dropped over the edge and fell to the floor. Her full skirts flared out as she rolled a half-tum and came up against Kin-caid's leg. He staggered and fell heavily to his knees.
"Damn you, you bitch!"
Jonas was already moving, lunging toward his intended victim. Verity felt the floor shake as he landed on Kincaid. The gun flew from Kincaid's hand and skittered under the bed. Verity picked up her skirts and scrambled to her feet, backing away from the heaving, twisting bodies. Frantically she glanced around, trying to locate the gun.
Jonas and Kincaid fought with silent savagery but the battle itself was far from silent. They crashed against the furniture, sending small items flying through the air. The room was filled with the dull thud of body blows, grunts, and heavily drawn breaths. Both men were well matched and both were grimly determined. Verity was afraid to leave the room, terrified that while she was gone, Kincaid might gain the upper hand.
But she had to get help. She stepped out into the hall, preparing to scream down the house until someone came to see what was happening.
She nearly collided with Caitlin Evanger, who was hurrying along the corridor, a rapier in her hand.
She looked like an avenging amazon. Tavi was close behind her, handsome face taut with fear.
"Caitlin, thank God you're here. Kincaid and Jonas are in there. We've got to get help." Verity turned to Tavi. "Go downstairs and get some of the guests. Have someone call the sheriff. Hurry, Tavi."
"It's too late," Caitlin whispered, her eyes feverish as she confronted the spectacle inside the bedroom.
"The time has come."
Verity looked at Tavi. "What the hell is she talking about? Go get some help."
"She's right," Tavi said. "This isn't the way she had planned it, but it looks like fate has taken a hand."
"For God's sake, go call the law!"
Tavi didn't move. Caitlin was filling the doorway now, the rapier clutched in her fist. There was a jarring crash inside the room and Verity tried to see what was going on.
What happened next took place so swiftly that there was no time to alter the result. Jonas had landed a punch that had thrown Kincaid back against the wall that held the nineteenth-century rapier. Kincaid, blood coursing down his chin, glanced up and saw the weapon. He grabbed it by the hilt.
When he came away from the wall it was in a swift, skilled fencing lunge that drove the tip of the blade straight toward Jonas's chest.
Verity screamed as Jonas barely managed to dodge the blade. Kincaid recovered from the lunge and prepared for another. He could take his time, his glinting eyes said, for he was the only armed man in the room now.
Verity shoved Caitlin to one side and snatched at the hilt of the rapier she held. All she could think of now was that Jonas needed a hand and this blade was the only weapon available.
Caitlin released the blade at once. "Yes," she said tightly. "Yes, yes, give it to him. Let him kill Kincaid with it. That's the way it was supposed to be."
Verity had the blade in her hand. She paid no attention to Caitlin's fierce words as she whirled to find an opening. All she needed was an opportunity to plunge the rapier into Kincaid while he concentrated on his intended victim.
She never got the chance to land her blow. Jonas had seen the blade in her hand. He spun aside from Kincaid's second lunge and the movement took him past Verity.
Jonas snatched the rapier from her hand as he moved by her.
"Jonas, no, don't touch it, it's the dangerous one!"
But the warning came too late. The moment his fingers closed around the hilt, the walls of the room began to curve around her and the psychic corridor opened in Verity's mind. She tried to shout a warning but the sound died on her lips.
She stood frozen in the doorway, her hands clenched at her sides as Jonas slipped into a fencer's crouch. She struggled to hold on to both realities simultaneously. It was the first time she had ever attempted it and she was startled to find it was even possible. But it wasn't easy. The two sometimes threatened to blend together, she discovered.
The present reality was suddenly overlaid with the sensation of a man's unrelenting fury. The fury was old and potent and timeless. It was also new and raw and reverberating through the bedroom.
Some things never change. A man's rage would always be a terrifying thing, whether it was very new or four hundred years old.
Verity couldn't tell if the rage was emanating from Jonas or from the terrible, writhing ribbons seeping down the corridor toward her. The coiling tendrils were the colors of midnight and blood and steel.
The last time she had witnessed anything like them in the corridor was the night Jonas had come to this room with this rapier in his hand.
In the bedroom she watched the two men moving around each other in a deadly pas de deux. But in her mind she stood in the time corridor and watched another scene in which a man dressed very much as Jonas was dressed did battle with an enemy. The scene flickered and died and reappeared again in quick staccato bursts.