Verity moved restlessly to stare at a nautical print on the wall. The ship was foundering, men were overboard, and shark fins cut through the churning water. She knew exactly how they felt. She cleared her throat nervously.
"Sometimes things happen that aren't exactly planned," she began cautiously, her back toward him.
"Sometimes a person's timing isn't quite right. It's nobody's fault, it just happens."
"For Christ's sake, Verity, will you stop beating around the bush and just say what you have to say?"
"All right. How would you feel about becoming a father, Jonas?"
" What? Holy shit!"
There was a scrabbling sound, some thumping, and another muttered curse. Verity whirled around and saw Jonas staggering wildly, his arms flailing. His pants were tangled around his knees and he had lost his balance. He clutched wildly for the nearest bedpost, hopping around on one foot. The expression on his face was one of incredulous disbelief.
Verity watched in amazement as Jonas landed heavily on the edge of the bed and slid down to the floor.
She'd never seen him lose his balance before. All the effortless physical grace that characterized his movements had suddenly deserted him.
There was a solid thud as Jonas landed on his rear end, his ankles trapped inside his half-lowered pants.
He sat looking up at her, his eyes filled with amazement.
"You want to run that question by me again?" he asked in a hoarse voice.
Something squeezed Verity's stomach tightly. "You heard me the first time. How do you feel about becoming a father?"
"I take it," Jonas said carefully as he kicked off his shoes and pants and climbed slowly to his feet, "that this is not a hypothetical question?"
Verity wrapped her arms around herself and shook her head. "I'm afraid not. I'm pregnant, Jonas."
"How long have you known?" He tossed aside the pants and came toward her. His jaw was set and his eyes were unreadable.
Verity looked down at the floor. "I assume you're not thrilled. I didn't think you would be."
"I asked you how long you've known." He reached her and took her chin in his hand. He lifted her face so that she had to meet his blazing eyes.
"Not long. I had a suspicion before you left with Dad."
"And you kept it to yourself."
"I wasn't about to use the possibility of my being pregnant as a way to keep you from going off with Dad." Her eyes were alive with pride.
"Did it ever occur to you that I had a right to know?"
"I wasn't even sure about it myself until this morning," she said defensively.
"What happened this morning that convinced you?"
"I more or less had it confirmed," Verity explained, remembering the strange conversation she'd had with Oliver Crump. "Please don't yell at me, Jonas. I told you as soon as I was certain."
"Thanks. I appreciate that," he retorted grimly. He cradled her pale face between his hands. "Verity, you little idiot—you shouldn't have kept it to yourself this long. You should have told me the instant you suspected you might be pregnant. No wonder you've been more temperamental and emotional than usual. I should have guessed."
For some reason Verity grew furious at his words. "I have not been acting more temperamental or emotional than usual. I never act temperamental or emotional, so how could I be more so than usual? I always act in a perfectly reasonable, rational manner. I'll have you know I happen to possess plenty of common sense, unlike some people I could mention, and I resent the implication that I'm temperamental and emotional and strange!"
"Hush, honey." He laughed indulgently and pulled her tightly against him. "Take it easy." His arms went around her and his palms moved soothingly up and down her spine. "Just take it easy, sweetheart.
Everything's going to be okay."
"You haven't said how you feel about being a father." Verity buried her face against his chest.
"Well, I haven't had too much time to think about it," he admitted lightly. "But I don't see that it's any big deal. I'm a fast learner. I can always ask Emerson for advice. Look at what a great job he did raising you."
"Oh, Jonas, this is serious!" Verity was torn between laughter and tears, in fact, all her emotions seemed suddenly to be too close to the surface. She clung to Jonas, her arms wrapped around his lean waist.
"Are you sure you don't mind?"
"Did you think I would?" he whispered into her tousled curls. "Is that why you couldn't bring yourself to tell me earlier?"
"I wasn't sure how you would feel about it. I mean, it's a big responsibility."
"And you've always been a little worried about my attitude toward responsibility, haven't you?" he concluded with a hint of exasperation. "Jesus. No wonder you were so upset about my going off with your father to rescue Lehigh. You probably saw that as an example of how life was going to be from now on. Except that in the future you'd be left behind with a kid whenever I took off."
"I didn't know what to think."
He gave her a small shake. "I told you that was a one-shot deal, not a lifetime pattern. I'm different from your father. We have some overlapping interests and experience, but we're not the same. Come on, Verity. Don't you have any more faith in me than that?"
"I didn't know what to think. I hadn't planned to get pregnant. Hadn't even thought about it. We were taking precautions most of the time and I just sort of assumed… "
"We were not taking precautions all of the time. In fact, we rarely remembered them when we came out of our trips into the time corridor," he reminded her bluntly. "And we did a lot of practice sessions with the psychic stuff this past winter."
She sighed. "I know. I think I somehow convinced myself that sex after one of those trips was different in some way. It always seems so urgent, so demanding. I think of it as being connected to the psychic stuff."
"And you convinced yourself you couldn't get pregnant as long as the sex was taking place on a higher plane? A psychic plane? Is that it?" There was laughter in his voice.
"Don't you dare make fun of me!"
"I wouldn't dream of it, honey. But there is something a tad amusing about you pretending the sex we have after a mind trip is different from the kind we have the rest of the time. Talk about rationalization.
This from a woman who prides herself on having more common sense than other people, specifically the male of the species?"