Jonas lashed a wicked, laughing grin. "Really getting into the leather-and-bondage bit, huh?" He took hold of the belt and tugged it free of her grasp. He then dropped it over the edge of the bed and it clunked on the floor.
Verity managed a reasonably severe glare. "No, I am not getting into leather and bondage. I was forced into it. You're the one who likes kinky sex. I used to be such a nice girl before I met you."
He put a hand behind her head and pulled her close for a quick, hard kiss. "Damn, but I love corrupting you," he said with great satisfaction. "You take to it so naturally. Ouch! Dammit," he added as Verity slapped his bare thigh.
Verity's hand stung from the blow, but she decided it was worth it. She sat up and crossed her legs.
"Okay, Jonas, enough with the distracting fun and games. As usual, sex has made you relaxed and indulgent, so now I expect a few answers."
"Relaxed and indulgent. Is that what sex does for me?"
"Sure. Haven't you ever noticed? You come on like a lion, so to speak, and pull out like a lamb."
"A lamb?" He looked disappointed.
"Lamb, kitten, poodle, whatever." Verity waved her hand to indicate a whole world of limp, cuddly things that included the present state of his manhood.
"If I weren't feeling so relaxed and indulgent, I'd argue that point with you."
"Later, maybe. Right now I want some answers."
Jonas turned his head on the pillow, enjoying the direct view he had of her triangle of soft hair. "How can I concentrate hard enough to answer questions when all I can see is your pretty little… "
Verity pulled a sheet over her legs. "Talk about a one-track mind."
"You never want me to have any fun," he complained, his eyes bright with laughter.
"You're right. All fun and no work makes Jonas a very poor boy. Back to business. What happened tonight when you went gallivanting through the corridors of Hazelhurst's Horror?"
"You have no respect for four-hundred-year-old architecture?"
"Not when it looks like this place. Quit stalling and tell me what happened." Verity's eyes grew serious.
"I got a scare tonight, Jonas. I could feel you coming very close to something dangerous."
"I know. I could feel you there with me."
"But where were you?"
"Clear over in the north wing. Second floor."
"But that's a long way from where I was. You were much too far away for us to connect."
He sat up against the pillows, his golden eyes becoming as serious as hers. "The link was weak but you were with me. Both of us felt it. I think the connection between us is growing stronger, Verity."
Verity tugged the sheet more closely around her, covering her br**sts. She glanced distractedly toward the window. "It's chilly in here, isn't it? It must cost a fortune just to keep this wing heated. No wonder the Warwicks want to unload this place as soon as possible."
"It scares you, doesn't it?" Jonas asked quietly. "Is that why you've been acting so distant lately? You've sensed the link between us getting stronger, and you're not sure you want that?"
"I haven't been acting distant," Verity said forcefully. "I've just been doing some thinking, that's all. Now tell me exactly what happened this evening."
Jonas folded his hands behind his head and regarded her for a long moment. "I found the place where the crystal was hidden. The hiding place was empty, which was no surprise. But the booby trap that had been left to guard it still worked just fine."
"Oh, my God. What kind of booby trap?"
"A stiletto sunk between two stones in the floor. Pressure on the hollow stone where the crystal had been triggered the spring mechanism that activated the blade. It was designed to strike the intruder in a very sensitive part of his anatomy. Typical Renaissance mind at work behind the design—clever and brutal."
"A spring mechanism? And it still functioned after all these years?"
"Luckily Hazelhurst's diary mentioned it. Apparently old Digby was so delighted with his discovery that he oiled the mechanism and got it working again."
Verity groaned. "What a nitwit Hazelhurst must have been."
Jonas looked annoyed at her lack of understanding. "He wasn't a fool. He was just a scholar who was really into his subject. I can see why he did it—I might have done the same thing. There's a certain thrill in making a four-hundred-year-old gadget work again."
"Nonsense. The booby trap should have been destroyed once and for all," Verity said resolutely.
"Obviously you have the sort of mind that's incapable of appreciating the esoteric joys of true historical scholarship," Jonas said with grand condescension.
"Really? What sort of mind do I have?" Verity retorted with an artificially sweetened smile.
"A feminine mind."
"Like I said, Jonas. One of these days… "
"You'll see," Verity said benignly. "You're going to regret everything. One of these days, I'll have you begging for mercy. Now tell me about that brief flash you had when you got too near the hidden stiletto. I caught some of it, just enough to get the feeling someone had died there. Was that what you saw?"
Jonas nodded, frowning. "Yeah, but the impression I got was that it happened a long time ago. Maybe a couple of centuries or more. It wasn't anything recent."
"There have probably been other treasure hunters going through this heap over the years, trying to find the missing gold, or jewels, or whatever they think was hidden in here." Verity scowled. "You know, Jonas, I may have made a teensy mistake when I negotiated your fee for this job. I elected to take a flat rate, figuring there probably wasn't going to be any real treasure left after all this time. But what if we find something? It might have been smarter to negotiate for a percentage of the treasure in addition to the consulting fee for the authentication report."
Jonas chuckled at her concerned expression. "Ah, the stress and worry of higher management. Sure glad that all I have to do is the physical labor." He sat up abruptly and tossed aside the covers. "I'd like to know what happened to that crystal," he remarked, yanking on his jeans. He walked across the room to the tapestry hanging on the wall. "Hazelhurst makes it clear in his diary that he considered it the key to finding the treasure." He reached out and lightly touched the frayed, woven wall-hanging. Then he pushed against the tapestry, touching the wall underneath.