"Christ, are you still holding that against me?" He scowled. "I thought we had that settled. I thought you understood."

"All I understand is that you feel free to take off whenever you want to, and you don't even bother to call."

"I told you, I couldn't get to a phone. And don't start trying to blame me for your spaced-out attitude lately. It started before I went to Mexico."

"Can you blame me if I need to think things over?" she retorted furiously. "This is a damn strange relationship we have, Jonas Quarrel." She tugged meaningfully on the leather belt. "Any woman in her right mind would want to think very seriously about what she was getting herself into by agreeing to live with you."

"I knew it. You have been thinking about us, haven't you? Plotting and scheming, I'll bet."

"So what if I have? That's a perfectly normal reaction under the circumstances, I'd say."

"Thinking is never normal for you. I don't trust the way your mind works," he muttered.

"Tough. It's my mind."

"Yeah? Well, here's something for your brain to think about." He shoved his knee between her legs, forcing her open for his touch. Then he reached down and put his palm against the vulnerable softness he had exposed.

"Jonas, you bastard." But she could already feel herself dampening his hand.

"Tell me you don't want me. Go ahead and tell me you're ready to ditch me." He kept his warm palm where it was, pushing gently at her.

Verity arched her hips instinctively, and Jonas eased his thumb into her wet channel. He probed her deeply, teasing her until the small, delicate muscles clenched around his finger. Verity gasped. "One of these days, Jonas. So help me, one of these days I'm going to… "

"I love you, Verity."

"You've got a funny way of showing it." She struggled helplessly against the leather strap. She felt his warm breath on her nipple and he sucked it gently into his mouth. Her body was flooded with hot, shivering anticipation.

"With you a man has to express himself in unusual ways."

He moved slowly down her body, tasting every inch of her as he went. Verity could feel the steel-hard shaft of his manhood thrusting eagerly against her thigh.

"Jonas, you can be so damn infuriating."

"Tell me you love me." He teased the small nub of sensation hidden in the fiery curls below her stomach.

"Say it, Verity."

"You know damn well I love you." She wriggled deliciously and opened her thighs a little wider.

"Say it."

"I love you. Now quit fooling around with the bondage-and-discipline bit and make love to me."

"I thought you'd never ask." Jonas settled himself between her legs.

"Get rid of the belt," Verity ordered, her voice husky with desire.

"Why? I kind of like you this way. Very sexy. Lift your hips higher. That's it." He knelt between her legs, parted her softness with his fingers, and pushed himself slowly, inevitably into her. When she tensed, he deliberately pushed harder. "Yeah, baby, that's exactly right." He leaned forward, bracing himself on his arms.

Verity moaned and closed her eyes as he filled her with his throbbing manhood. Her body was flooded with wave after wave of heat.

"Now move that beautiful tail, sweetheart. Come on, show me just how much you really love me."

"There must be a law against this sort of thing." Verity inhaled sharply as he squeezed her round derriere.

Her pulse thrummed.

"You and I make up our own laws in bed. Move it, honey," he ordered again. This time his voice was low and infinitely sexy. He used his hand to guide her bu**ocks in a small circle. She responded at once.

"Jonas."

"That's it, love. Yeah, that's what I want. Jesus, sweetheart. So hot and tight. You make me crazy. See if you can take me a little deeper now. You can do it. I want to go as far as I can. Wrap your legs around me. Such beautiful, soft legs. Come on, honey, I want you to know I'm there."

"Ah, Jonas, Jonas."

"Damn, you feel good, honey."

He was stretching her, filling her completely, easing himself in and out slowly as she moved her hips in an increasingly frantic rhythm. She could feel the fire twisting inside her, waiting to explode.

When it did, he was caught up in it with her. His hoarse shout of satisfaction mingled with her small cries as together they gave themselves to the flames.

It was typical of Jonas to make love to her so outrageously, Verity thought fleetingly; typical of him to resort to this approach when he wanted to make a point; typical of him to overwhelm her with passion when she wanted to have a serious discussion about their relationship.

It was also very typical of him to have performed the whole scene while making absolutely certain he never once jolted her injured ankle.

Slade Spencer opened his eyes when the cold rain hit his face. He hurt all over. That goddamned bastard had had no right to hit him like that, no right at all. Spencer couldn't help it if women liked him. If Quarrel wanted to punish someone, he ought to beat his little flirt of a girlfriend. Verity had been coming on to Spencer all evening, he knew the signs. But, as usual, Slade had gotten the blame.

Quarrel was just like all the others, and Spencer was getting damned tired of being treated like dirt. One of these days he was going to show them all.

Groaning, he heaved himself up over the side of the empty fountain pool. He felt sick to his stomach. He waited a moment, breathing heavily while his insides settled. He was shaking.

He needed a pill—two. Unfortunately, the ones the doctors at the clinic had given him didn't seem to be doing much good anymore. But then, what did those stupid doctors know? No one understood him, Spencer realized. No one really wanted to help him. Everyone was against him. He'd come to realize that years ago.

He'd take a couple of those prescription pills when he got back to his room, but then he'd take a couple of the tabs he'd bought from his dealer last month. Those suckers really worked. When he was on them, he felt good. They made him feel in command of himself. It was good to feel in control.

Spencer climbed slowly out of the pool and trudged toward the villa's dark entrance. The rain beat down on him, and he asked himself for what seemed the thousandth time why everything he tried to do in life turned to shit.

It was a rhetorical question. Slade knew why everything always went wrong for him. Everyone was out to get him. It was him against the world.

And he always lost.

Chapter Six

"I just want you to know that one of these days, I'll get even." Verity stirred languidly, turning on her side and propping herself up on one elbow. She picked up the leather belt Jonas had used to bind her and trailed the buckle through the wiry hair on his chest. "You'll never know when it's coming. But someday, somewhere, when you least expect it, zap! You're gonna get it."

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