"Now, Jonas, you're overstating the case and you know it." Verity tried to adopt a soothing tone. There were times when it didn't pay to go toe-to-toe with Jonas Quarrel. She clutched the lapels of her robe more tightly around her. "Be reasonable. The first time doesn't count. Doug Warwick was just trying to be helpful, there was absolutely nothing else involved. And this time it was just a drunken fool making a pass. I'm sure Slade will be terribly embarrassed in the morning."
"Terribly embarrassed, huh? I'll tell you something. He ought to be goddamned grateful he's not going to wake up with a broken neck." Jonas tossed the towel aside and came toward her. "How the hell did he get in here, anyway?"
Verity stepped back and felt the window ledge cut into her back. She lifted her chin defiantly. "The door was unlocked."
"Why was the damn door unlocked?" He reached her and his hands closed around her shoulders. He hauled her against him.
"I left it open for you. I thought you'd be along any minute."
"I'm getting sick and tired of telling you to lock doors, Verity."
"I hardly expected anyone but you to walk in," Verity retorted indignantly. "Honestly, Jonas. We're guests here. How was I to know there would be any trouble?"
His hands tightened on her shoulders. "I swear, one of these days, lady, you're going to go too far."
She touched his wrists, her eyes searching his. "Jonas, forget Slade. What happened to you tonight?"
He eyed her thoughtfully. "I touched something I shouldn't have. A floor stone."
"I felt you reaching for me. I was so worried. That's why I came back to the room early."
"Next time lock the door, Verity." His mouth closed roughly over hers. "I can't take seeing another man put his hands on you," he said against her lips. "I just can't handle it."
Verity gasped, aware of the violent rage still burning beneath the hot desire that gripped Jonas. His tongue thrust into her mouth, warning of the more intimate kind of possession that would soon follow. He pulled her more tightly against his body, as if he half-expected her to try to slip away from him.
"Jonas," she managed, "we need to talk."
"You talk too much," he muttered thickly. "I've decided it's one of your biggest problems." He then picked her up and carried her to the bed. He tossed her down onto the quilt and began unfastening his jeans.
Verity sat up, pushing her hair out of her eyes. "I'm serious, Jonas. Something happened tonight, didn't it? Something unusual, even for you. I want to know what's going on."
"I'll tell you what's going on. Every time I turn around these days you're sliding out of my reach. Don't think I haven't noticed, I'm not blind. I've seen that strange look in your eyes lately. I've seen the way you stop right in the middle of something and just stand there, staring off into the distance. I've felt you thinking your secret, private thoughts, Verity—thoughts you don't share with me."
"For heaven's sake, Jonas… "
"Then I come home from Mexico and find you've been hurt, and some other guy is carrying you through your front door— our front door. I walk into this room tonight, our bedroom, and discover that some jerk has felt free to invite himself in."
"Jonas, you're being irrational about this."
"Something's going on all right, Verity. You're starting to wonder if you made the right decision when you let me into your life, aren't you? You're starting to have second thoughts about us. But I've got news for you, little tyrant. It's too late. You belong to me, and I'm going to see to it that you never forget it." He stepped out of his boots and jeans and sat down heavily on the bed.
Verity backed across the quilt away from him. He reached out and caught her hand, checking her retreat.
" Jonas. Let me go."
He ignored her small cry of outrage as he rolled over to pin her beneath him. His eyes blazed. "I'm not going to let you get away from me, Verity. Don't you understand? I can't let you get away from me."
"Jonas, please, we have to talk."
"I've already told you, you talk too much." He started to peel off her robe. "You're always using your mouth to communicate when you should be using something else. Something that's a lot more honest.
Something I can understand."
Thoroughly annoyed, Verity started to struggle. "Dammit, Jonas, this is no way to communicate. Let me up! I want to talk to you. I mean it. Pay attention when I speak to you."
But Jonas paid no attention. He yanked the robe free and anchored her wrists above her head so that she lay there helpless and inviting. Then he reached down and grabbed the hem of her flannel nightgown, pulling it up above her waist.
In spite of her determination to control the situation, Verity felt the excitement flaring in her. This was Jonas, who could set her on fire with just a touch. This was the man she loved with all her heart.
But he had a disconcerting habit of resorting to sex when he lost his patience. The typical male approach to a problem, she thought resentfully. When the brain ceases to function, fall back on the brawn.
Verity lost her temper. She twisted violently and kicked out at him with her good foot. "Let me go, you big oaf."
"Lie still, you loud-mouthed shrew." When she responded by kicking him again, he pinned her legs down with one of his own. "Now I'm really getting irritated." He used his weight to hold her still while he wrestled the nightgown up over her head.
"Do you think I care if you're irritated?" Her eyes sparkled with anger and hungry excitement.
"You better care." Once he had her nightgown off, he used his free hand to reach over the edge of the bed and grab his belt.
Verity's eyes widened in disbelief. "You wouldn't dare."
"I've had it with your weird behavior lately," Jonas told her as he quickly captured both her wrists and bound them with the leather. He looped the free end of the belt around one of the canopy posts and inserted it back through the loop that held her wrists. She was chained to the bed.
"Jonas, you're fired!" It was the only threat she still had left. Verity struggled uselessly against the binding leather.
"You can't fire me and you know it. You already tried it once, and it didn't work." He watched her as she lay glowering helplessly up at him. "Listen to me, Verity, and listen good. If you're thinking of ending things between us, you've got a surprise coming. You can't get rid of me that easily."
"I don't have to work at getting rid of you. You take off all by yourself when the mood grabs you. Five days in Mexico without a phone call, Jonas. Five whole days."