"But someone killed Digby. He didn't die by accident—murder took place in that corridor."
"I know. But the murderer has been gone for over two years. Hell, he might even have died in that passageway himself, trying to find a way out. For all we know he's lying at the other end of the tunnel."
Jonas stopped talking, hoping she hadn't noticed the rest. He should have known better. The woman had eyes like a hawk.
Verity wandered over to the window. "The hand that held that stiletto had a ring on it. A big ruby ring."
"I know. I saw it."
She glanced back at him over her shoulder. "It looked very old, Jonas. In fact, it looked like it could have been part of the jewelry collection in that treasure chest in the vision, or it could even have been one of the rings the man in the image was wearing."
"There was a certain resemblance," Jonas agreed carefully. He saw the expression in her eyes and walked over to put an arm around her shoulders. "Hey there," he said softly, giving her a slight shake.
"Don't let your imagination run away with you."
"You know what I'm thinking?"
"Yep. You're wondering if the four-hundred-year-old man in the frozen vision managed to come alive long enough to kill old Hazelhurst. It's utterly and completely impossible."
"Jonas, you've said yourself that you learn something new every time you explore that psychic corridor.
You don't know everything about how reality works in there. And you've admitted there was something very strange about that first vision. What if he figured out a way to survive in the time corridor, and he's been sitting there all these years protecting his treasure?"
Jonas felt a shudder run through her and he tightened his comforting grip around her shoulders. "Not a chance. Relax, honey. There are no ghosts in that corridor, just small scenes from the past. Postcards caught in time. That's all."
"The postcard of that man seated at the Renaissance writing desk didn't look like it had 'wish you were here' written on the back. I got the feeling that guy didn't want us around."
"That vision was different from anything we've seen before in the corridor, I'll grant you that. But that doesn't mean a lot at this point. You've got too much imagination for your own peace of mind, honey."
He blew a fiery ringlet away from her temple and kissed her there. She smelled sweet and felt warm. He could feel himself getting hard, not an unusual reaction after a trip into the psychic corridor—not an unusual reaction around Verity at any time, for that matter.
"Someone killed Digby," she reminded him stubbornly.
"Yes. But it was a long time ago. You want my best guess?"
She nodded quickly.
"I think he had a companion helping him in the treasure hunt. Someone he trusted enough to take into that passageway. Maybe someone he even trusted with the crystal."
"And maybe that someone figured that as long as he knew about the passageway and the crystal, he no longer needed Digby?"
"But where is that person now?" Verity persisted. She leaned her palms against the wide stone window ledge and gazed out into the rainy darkness.
"Who knows? There's no mention of Hazelhurst discovering the hidden corridor in his diary, which means he must have found it shortly before he was killed. Either he never got the opportunity to write it down or the information is in those missing pages. I haven't come across any reference to a companion either. Our best bet may be to talk to Maggie Frampton. She might know if Hazelhurst had involved anyone else in the treasure hunt."
"Good idea. And in the meantime… " Verity stopped, peering intently out the window. "Jonas, he's gone."
"Who's gone?" He followed her gaze down to the dark fountain. "You mean Spencer? Maybe the man had enough sense to come in out of the rain, after all."
"He could have come back here, Jonas. He had enough time to get back into this room and pull the chair out of the passage doorway. Maybe that's why the door closed on us."
Jonas considered that, his eyes darkening. "I locked the bedroom door. How could he have gotten in?"
"Who knows? There may be plenty of keys floating around. The locks on the doors here in the south wing appear to be relatively new."
Jonas gave her another small, affectionate shake. "I don't think it's very likely. He couldn't have known about the corridor, and he wouldn't have dared try to come back into this room knowing I'd be in here with you. Besides, the man was falling-down drunk; he was just about unconscious by the time I dumped him in that fountain."
"Well, he recovered sufficiently to get himself out of the pool," Verity pointed out.
Jonas studied the shadowed garden. "You're right, he did. I guess I didn't hit him hard enough."
"I just want you to know that if he sues, you're the one who's going to have to explain everything to the insurance investigator."
"Don't worry. I'll come up with something," Jonas said, not the least concerned. His mind was definitely on something else now. He put his arms around Verity's slender waist and drew her back against his thighs. His jeans were drawn taut across his burgeoning manhood. "In fact," he murmured into her ear,
"something is already coming up."
"You can't possibly be thinking of… of sex when there's a body lying not more than fifteen feet away."
"Don't look so shocked. You're such a little prude, you know that? I keep telling you, that body's already been there for a couple of years. It won't bother us." He unzipped his jeans with one hand, keeping his other arm around her middle. His rigid shaft sprang free. Jonas eased Verity back again so that she could feel him through her quilted robe.
"Jonas, I'm shocked. I really think you should show a little more respect in a situation like this."
"Don't tell me you're not as excited as I am. Going into that psychic corridor always has this effect on both of us." He grabbed a fistful of robe and raised it up above her waist. His hands closed lovingly over the soft, firm flesh of her derriere. "Lean forward, honey," he whispered against her nape. "Brace your hands on the window ledge."
"Jonas, this is embarrassing. Someone might see us through the window."
"No one will see us. Everyone's in this wing. You'd have to be in another wing of the villa to see into this window." He remembered belatedly how he himself had been in another wing earlier that evening and had had a perfectly good view of this bedroom. He reached out and turned off the bedside light.