"Now you listen to me, Jonas Quarrel. You are not going to go off merrily exploring that hidden passage on your own while I sit and wait in the bedroom. You take me with you, or you don't go at all."
"Now, Verity," he began soothingly.
"Don't even try to talk me out of it. You don't know what you're getting into. You don't know how strong the link between us would be in a real emergency if we were separated by a long distance. This whole consulting job was my idea, remember? I'm the one who got you the project, and the agreement was that I go along as part of the package. If you stay, I stay. And if you go into that secret passage again, I go with you."
"You are one stubborn woman, Verity Ames."
"It's part of my charm."
"I'll try to keep that in mind."
"Jonas," Verity said warningly, "don't get any ideas about sneaking off to explore that passage while I'm asleep. Try anything tricky and I'll never forgive you. I mean it."
"I hear you."
She wished she could read his mind. Unfortunately, the link between them did not include telepathy.
"It will be interesting to see if Caitlin turns up any information on the Warwicks and their friends, Personally, I'm betting against it," Verity said later as they walked back to the inn.
The light mist was still falling, but Verity was dry. Jonas was holding the umbrella and he had most of it over her. They were walking through the small shopping district of the town. Everything was closed for the evening, but there were lights on in most of the store windows. A surprising variety of chic art galleries and sophisticated craft shops were scattered amid the standard small-town collection of old-fashioned hardware stores, insurance offices, and real estate firms.
"Worth a shot," Jonas said mildly.
"Maybe. What do you think of each of them, Jonas?"
"I think Doug Warwick is just a hardworking stockbroker who wants to sell that white elephant he inherited as quickly as possible. He's humoring his sister in the process by letting me do some treasure hunting." "And Elyssa?"
"Elyssa is the fluff-headed enthusiastic type who gets carried away with every trendy fad that comes along—harmless. Preston Yarwood is a con man who's cashing in on the New Age craze. Oliver Crump is the earnest, well-meaning sort who just got sucked into the psychic stuff because he's genuinely interested in offbeat things. He probably means well."
"And Slade Spencer?"
"Spencer is the kind who will join anything that looks like, it might offer free sex and drugs. In another time and place, he would have been a hippie or a beatnik."
Verity bit her lip. "Slade did mention that he and Elyssa had had a brief affair. At least he claims he slept with her once or twice. He also says she's now having an affair with Yarwood. Slade even says she tried to get it on with Oliver, but he declined. Smart man. Apparently Elyssa is into psychics."
"Or likes to get psychics into her. Sounds like you found out a lot about Little Miss Sunshine."
"Either that, or Spencer told me a pack of lies about her. Which is possible."
Jonas put an arm around Verity's shoulders. "I don't know. Personally, I'm inclined to believe it."
"That Elyssa likes sleeping with psychics?"
"Some women get the hots for race-car drivers, some like policemen. Some go for gurus. Elyssa goes for psychics."
"Can't imagine why," Verity said innocently.
"You'll bear up nobly. You always do." Verity thought about what he'd said. "What it all comes down to is that you think there really is a treasure buried in that villa, and you want to go after it."
"This is going to sound crazy, but I feel like I've been challenged, Verity. It isn't just the damn treasure I'm after. I want to know how that frozen vision works. I want to know why it's different from anything else we've ever seen in the time corridor. I feel there's something really important about all this."
"Something more important than a treasure chest full of gold and jewels'?"
"Yes." He hesitated, then admitted softly, "I won't be able to rest until I figure out what that vision and that hidden passageway are hiding."
Verity hugged her down parka more tightly around her. It was cold tonight. "I think we should be very careful, Jonas."
"And whatever happens, we stick together. Understood?"
"Speaking of sticking together," Jonas said smoothly, "what about that discussion you and I were going to have? The one about us?"
"Let's wait until we get back to the room. Oh, Jonas, look." Verity stopped in front of a shop window and stood gazing down at a pair of reddish orange earrings. The translucent stones were faceted, and reflected the display-case lighting. Fiery sparks danced in the core of the stones. Verity fell in love with them instantly. "Aren't they beautiful?"
Jonas peered into the case. "They're okay, I guess. Same color as your hair. You should get something to go with your eyes, not your hair."
"I like those red earrings," she insisted. "Maybe we could stop by this shop in the morning before we leave?"
"You're stalling, Verity. It's time for that discussion you promised me." He took her arm and guided her firmly away from the shop window.
Perhaps she'd been a little hasty, Verity thought uneasily as they climbed the steps of the Harbor Watch Inn. Perhaps she should wait until she'd seen a doctor or at least used one of those home pregnancy-test kits. All she really had to go on was the calendar, and Oliver Crump's professional opinion—for what that was worth.
But Verity knew deep in her heart she couldn't put off telling Jonas any longer. She summoned her courage as she and Jonas walked through the quiet parlor and up the stairs to the second floor. Jonas unlocked the door, followed her inside, and watched her walk to the window.
She glanced over her shoulder and saw that he was unknotting his tie. His eyes were watchful.
"Jonas, I've been doing a lot of thinking lately."
"I've noticed." He slung the tie aside and unbuttoned his shirt. His eyes were narrowed. "In fact, I've about had it with your weird behavior lately. It's as if you're spending part of your time in another world or something. Or like you're making big plans that you won't tell me about. I'm warning you, Verity, I put up with a lot of your temperamental nonsense, but there are some things I won't tolerate. I've been very patient with you, but I've just about reached my limit. I'd like an explanation, and I don't want to be told it's my imagination."