"Verity, try to understand. This is not a matter of prostitution or lust. It is a matter of boundless love; love that is not restricted by circumstance or petty twentieth-century morality. I am fated to fulfil! my potential by mating with the man who is my true partner. I will be frank, Verity. I speak to you as one woman to another. Saranantha has revealed that it is Jonas Quarrel who is my true mate. It is his seed which must be planted in my womb; his seed which must be sowed and cultivated in me."

"Jonas? You want Jonas's, uh, seed?" Verity's voice sounded half-strangled. The woman's effrontery was unbelievable. "I think I ought to warn you that Jonas has already taken on all the gardening work he can handle."

Elyssa ignored that. "I am here to ask you to loan him to me."

Chapter Eleven

"Elyssa," Verity said carefully, struggling to remember that she was a client, "I hate to break this to you, but times have changed. I'm afraid Jonas is not available for love offerings or guru-approved matings."

"I realize this has come as a shock to you," Elyssa said gently, "But I sense that you are a very wise and understanding woman. I think of you as a sister, an enlightened sister. Once you've had a chance to think about it, you'll see that a union between Jonas and myself is predestined. I am merely obeying the summons of my astral energy force. To resist would be bad for all of us."

"Jonas has told you he doesn't consider himself a psychic," Verity said quickly.

Elyssa shook her head, smiling. "I know for a fact that he is a very powerful one, although he chooses to deny it. Preston told me all about him." ISO

Verity sat forward tensely. "'Really? What exactly does Preston Yarwood know about Jonas?"

"He told me that Jonas was once tested at Vincent College, and that it was no secret in the lab that Jonas had great powers," Elyssa confided easily. "Preston hasn't said anything to Jonas or any of the others because it's obvious that Jonas prefers to keep his abilities a secret. One can hardly blame him.

The public can be a nuisance to a true psychic. Preston respects his desire for anonymity."

"Wait a second," Verity said, trying to get to the bottom of Preston Yarwood's involvement. "Preston claimed he located Jonas by contacting the editor of the Journal of Renaissance Studies."

Elyssa nodded with slight impatience. "That's right. But when the editor mentioned several qualified men in the field, including Jonas, Preston recognized Jonas's name and picked him. He and I agreed we should ask Doug to hire the Renaissance expert who also happened to be psychic. Doug didn't care about the psychic part, as long as he got his history expert. But Preston and I wanted the help of a true psychic. Jonas is perfect for all of us. And when Saranantha saw him she recognized him instantly as my proper mate. You see how it all comes together to form a complete whole? The harmony of life is breathtaking when the natural forces are allowed to take their proper path, isn't it?"

"I find the nerve of some people just as breathtaking."

"You are offended that I have approached you in this way? I only want to be honest with you, my sister.

I believe I can make you understand my situation. You have an open mind, and you seek the truth in your own way. I assure you that I am no threat to your long-term relationship with Jonas."

"You just want to borrow him for a little while, is that it?"

"Precisely." Elyssa's smile was almost beatific. "Jonas and I will create a beautiful child together, a child of enormous potential. You would not want to deny the world such a human being, would you?"

"Oh, I don't know. The world has gotten along without such a human being so far." Verity sat back and stretched out her legs. "Tel! me what happened when Preston was tested at the Vincent College lab."

Elyssa's smooth brow acquired a tiny furrow. "The lab research equipment was not sophisticated enough to define his particular psychic talent."

"Then what makes you think the equipment was sophisticated enough to properly identify Jonas's abilities? Maybe the research people were wrong, just as they were wrong about Preston. Jonas claims he's not a psychic. It could be that he knows himself best."

"I'm sure Preston could not have made a mistake about Jonas. Preston has developed his intuitive talents through several lifetimes. They are very acute."

"I see." Verity put her hands on the arms of the chair and pushed herself to her feet. "Elyssa, I hate to disappoint you, but I'm afraid Jonas would not make a good stud for you. He's not what you think he is, and furthermore I can't possibly allow you to borrow him. Jonas is very old-fashioned in some ways, you know. I wouldn't dream of embarrassing him by sending him off to your bed. Furthermore… " She was warming to her topic. "Furthermore, in all good conscience, I feel I must warn you that if you attempt to seduce him—"

She broke off as the bedroom door opened and Jonas strolled blithely into the room. "I was wondering where you were, Verity. What did you do with the flashlight? It's not in the duffel bag, and we need it in the west wing. Oh, hello, Elyssa. You two having a nice visit?"

Elyssa rose to her feet. She gave Jonas one of her temple-priestess smiles. "Hello, Jonas. Verity and I were having a woman-to-woman chat. But we're finished now. I can see there is no more to be said.

Goodbye, Verity. Please try to open your mind and allow yourself to be guided by your inner light. It is the only way to achieve lasting happiness and satisfaction." She walked out of the room with one last smile for Jonas.

"What the hell was that all about?" Jonas demanded as he closed the door behind Elyssa. "What's a woman-to-woman chat?"

"We were discussing your potential as a stud."

"The hell you were." He looked astounded.

"Elyssa would like to borrow your services for a short while. Until she gets pregnant." Verity hid her grin.

She had never seen Jonas look so outraged. "She thinks you would make an ideal mate. She ought to know. Apparently she's already spent one previous lifetime fooling around with anything in pants, and intends to spend this one the same way. She wants you, but being the noble, sincere, honest little hussy that she is, she thought she would clear it with me first."

"Let me get this straight. She asked you for permission to screw me?" A dull redness was staining Jonas's high cheekbones. "I don't believe it!"

"I guess it's the New Age approach to the man shortage."

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