The phone rang just as Verity reached the bedroom door. Her hand on the knob, she turned around to watch him answer.
Jonas grabbed the receiver. "Quarrel here."
"Did I call at a bad time?" Caitlin Evanger asked politely. "You sound upset. I can call back."
Jonas reached for a pen and paper. His eyes stayed on Verity's face. "Now is fine. What have you got?"
"Tavi and I turned up nothing on all but one of the names you gave me," Caitlin said. "But we found a file on Preston Yarwood."
Verity let go of the doorknob and moved back across the room. She knew who was on the other end of the line, and she could tell from Jonas's intent expression that Caitlin had found something of interest. She leaned over the bed to watch as Jonas wrote down Preston Yarwood's name.
"Yarwood?" Jonas was all business now. "How long ago? Who did the testing? Which tests? Are you sure? The whole battery, or just the initial workup? Okay, okay, I'm listening."
There was silence on Jonas's end as he stopped talking. Verity could hear the thin sound of Caitlin's voice rattling off information, but she couldn't make out the words. It was several minutes before Jonas hung up the phone with a brisk "Thanks."
As the receiver clattered into place, Verity looked at him expectantly. "Well?"
Jonas sat on the edge of the bed, adding a few final notes.
"The only name that turned up in the old department records was Yarwood. He was tested in the lab during the same time I was going through my tests, although I never ran into him."
"Yarwood has psychic talent? Real talent?" Verity was startled.
Jonas shook his head. "No. But he was totally convinced that he did, and he demanded to be run through the standard tests time after time. According to Caitlin, the lab researchers finally had to tell him they weren't going to waste any more time on him, no matter how much he contributed to the department. He claimed the tests were faulty. He believes in his own talent."
"A lot of people who are into the psychic thing believe in their own talent," Verity mused. "A few coincidences, a couple of dreams that could be interpreted in a variety of ways, and presto, they're psychics."
"Yarwood is in that category, according to the lab report Caitlin found. Some lucky guesses, a good sense of intuition, smart enough to reason through matters and leave other people wondering how he reached his conclusions. And above all the useful skill of being able to convince others he's whatever he says he is. But he couldn't fool the machines or the Vincent researchers. Yarwood has all the talents of a successful con man, but no psychic ability. That's not the problem."
"What is the problem?"
Jonas looked up from his notes, his eyes thoughtful. "Caitlin says there's an entry on one of the reports stating that Yarwood might be dangerous under certain circumstances."
"Dangerous? I don't believe it. He's not the type."
"There were a lot of psychologists involved in the testing at Vincent," Jonas said slowly. "I remember them. Always looking for an abnormal psychological pattern to parallel the paranormal development.
There was a strong theory that people who tested positive for psychic talent would test weird in other ways. I was a walking testimonial to that theory."
"Nonsense. You're a perfectly normal person," Verity said instantly.
He gave her an odd smile. "I love it when you immediately jump to my defense, in spite of all the evidence."
"What evidence?" she demanded.
"I nearly killed an innocent man."
"Not because you've got a warped psychological profile," she insisted. "Only because your talent is so strong, and you hadn't learned how to control it."
"I'm not sure the shrinks would fine-tune their analysis that far, but thanks for the vote of confidence.
Speaking of confidence, if you have so much of it in me, why don't you take a chance and marry me?"
For a second Verity could not think. "We're discussing Preston Yarwood," she finally pointed out. Jonas and his one-track mind! The last thing she wanted to talk any more about tonight was marriage. The business with Yarwood made a good distraction. "What made the lab people think he was dangerous?"
"Something to do with his, and I quote, 'inability to let go of his fantasy obsession.' "
"In other words, he really believed in his own talent. I don't think that makes him dangerous, Jonas."
"Maybe. Maybe not." Jonas slapped the notepad down on the table. "I wish Caitlin had turned up information on some of the others."
"Why? What is it you're looking for?"
"I'm not sure. I just have a feeling that I ought to know more about those people." He was silent for a moment. "You know, the Warwicks claimed that Yarwood got my name from the editor of that history journal. But if Yarwood was being tested at Vincent College while I was going through the program, he might have heard about me there. Why not mention it?"
"Perhaps because he didn't hear about you there." Verity smiled gently. "Maybe he was there before you became notorious."
"That's all the information Caitlin had?"
"Then," said Verity, "I will head off down the hall. Send out a search party if I'm not back by morning."
"Yes, Jonas?" She turned once again at the door.
"Think about it." It was a soft-voiced command.
Verity didn't have to ask what it was he wanted her to think about. She opened the door and stepped out into the carpeted hall.
The hall light was out. It reminded her of the night she had returned to her cabin in Sequence Springs and found the deck light off. It was not a pleasant memory. There were no cracks of light under the other doors. Either she and Jonas had this floor all to themselves, or the other guests had already retired for the evening. Well, that should leave the bathroom free.
Verity pulled her robe more snugly around her and leaned a little on the cane. She didn't have to lean much, she realized. Her ankle was almost back to normal. She thought of Oliver Crump and his poultice and crystal. Of course, mildly twisted ankles healed quickly. There was no reason to attribute her rapid cure to Crump's abilities.
There was enough street light coming in through the window at the end of the hall to enable Verity to distinguish between the door marked LADIES and the one marked MEN. A lot of the places she had lived in during her younger years hadn't bothered with such niceties.