Oliver poured hot water over the green plants and crushed them in the folds of one towel. "This is a little makeshift, but it should do the trick." He began wrapping the compress around Verity's ankle. Then he glanced up at the crystal she was holding. "Why are you stroking it like that?" he asked abruptly.
Verity glanced down at the crystal in surprise and realized she was rubbing it with her index finger. "I don't know. Just fiddling around, I guess."
Oliver touched the crystal and frowned. He started to move his finger on it.
Verity frowned. Something wasn't right. "No, not like that." She concentrated for a moment, then slowly moved her hand to guide Oliver's finger. Immediately things felt sharper and clearer—more tuned. "That's it," she whispered. "Doesn't that feel better?"
"Yes. Much better." Oliver stroked the crystal for a long time under the guidance of her fingers. Then his eyes met hers.
"You are, you know," he announced calmly.
Verity flinched. "I am what?" she asked carefully.
"Pregnant." He stopped touching the crystal and deftly pinned the compress in place.
Verity's fingers closed violently around the crystal. "How do you know?" she demanded, her voice taut.
Crump shrugged and took the crystal from her hand. "Some things are obvious. You showed me the truth just now, when you touched the crystal. I could sense it." He put the translucent crystal into his pocket again. "How's the ankle feel?"
She looked down at her foot, realizing suddenly that her ankle was already feeling less painful. "Better. A lot better. Thank you, Oliver."
"Are you going to tell Quarrel soon?"
Disconcerted, Verity raised her eyes to meet Crump's serious, dark gaze. "I'll tell him soon. If it's true."
"It's true. And the sooner you tell Quarrel, the better. He needs to know."
"Because he needs to be reassured that he's got a secure place in your life. He's never had much in the way of security."
"Maybe he won't want to be a father," she said in a low, urgent tone. "Some men aren't cut out to be fathers."
"Quarrel isn't 'some men.' He's Quarrel. And he's permanently linked to you somehow. I don't understand it completely, but I can sense it. Tell him about the baby soon." Crump rose to his feet, gathered up his supplies, and walked out of the room without another word.
Verity stared after him for a long while.
As lunchtime approached, Verity decided that her ankle was feeling considerably better. She removed the compress, picked up her cane, and headed for the kitchen to give Maggie a hand with the meal. She wasn't accustomed to such a crowd.
Maggie was grateful for her assistance. After checking the pantry, Verity put together a creditable salad and some herbed cream-cheese sandwiches. When the treasure-hunting party returned, they were hungry.
"By the way," Jonas told Verity as he wolfed down his third sandwich. "You and I are going to borrow the launch and run over to that little town on the other island. The one we came through on the way here.
I need to make some phone calls."
"Why?" she asked blankly.
"Research," he explained as if it were obvious. "Unfortunately, Digby never got around to installing a phone. Better pack a few things. We'll stay overnight and come back in the morning."
"Are you sure you don't want me to come with you?" Elyssa asked with a sympathetic glance at Verity.
"Poor Verity really should keep off that ankle."
"Actually," replied Verity, "my ankle is feeling a great deal better." She was not about to offer her seat on the launch to Elyssa Warwick. Sunshine and enlightenment were becoming distinctly tiresome.
Preston Yarwood recognized that expression in Elyssa's eyes. He went into the salon after lunch, poured himself a drink, and thought about it. The dumb little bitch had the hots for Quarrel, that much was obvious.
Elyssa was ready to roll over for anything in pants, as long as the guy claimed to have psychic powers.
Yarwood figured that he ought to know—she'd certainly rolled over fast enough for him. And there was no denying that she was a hot little number in bed. No one had ever gone down on him the way Elyssa did. When she screwed him she really put everything into it; she treated the whole thing as a spiritual experience. She was definitely the best lay Yarwood had ever had, and he'd gotten accustomed to that look of adoration in her eyes.
It was infuriating to see her panting after Jonas Quarrel now, but there wasn't much he could do about it just yet. Yarwood needed Quarrel for the moment, but they were natural enemies. When this was all over, Yarwood would show them all who the real psychic was.
Then it would be amusing to watch Elyssa beg him to screw her silly.
"Are you going to tell me what this little jaunt is really about, or do I get to play twenty questions?" Verity stepped off the launch, using her cane to balance herself on the floating dock marina. She realized that her ankle wasn't nearly as sore as it had been that morning. "And where did you learn to drive a boat, anyway?"
"You don't drive a boat, Verity, you pilot it. And I don't remember where I learned. You work enough waterfront dives on enough islands and sooner or later you get the urge to learn how to get off the island alone, should the occasion arise. A simple safety precaution." Jonas finished making the lines fast and reached into the stern for his bulging duffel bag.
Verity wrinkled her nose. "Did you ever have to leave on the lam?"
"Not that I can recall," he retorted dryly. "I told you, learning to use a boat was just a safety precaution."
"Like learning to use a knife, I suppose?"
Jonas grimaced as he heaved the heavy duffel out of the launch. He didn't bother to respond to her last remark.
"Hell, Verity, what have you got in here? 'Don't worry,' you said, 'there's no need to bring two bags, there's plenty of room in your duffel for my nightie and blow dryer.' Where did you come up with a ninety-pound blow dryer?"
"Quit complaining. It's not that heavy and you know it. Of course I had to leave a few of your things behind to make room for my stuff, but you won't miss them overnight."
"What things of mine did you leave behind?" He looked ominous as he strode up the dock beside her.
"Just one or two small items," she assured him cheerily. "Don't worry about it. Now about this little trip to civilization." She gazed at the sleepy town overlooking the tiny harbor. "Did we really have to come all this way just to use the phone?"