"Verity, do you mean to tell me that you sat here and calmly discussed this with that blond kook?"
Verity smiled sedately. "Of course. We women communicate very well with each other."
"Jesus, I just can't believe it." Jonas slammed his hand against the wall. He stared at Verity from beneath hooded lashes. "Well?"
"Well, what?" she asked innocently.
"What did you tell her when she asked to borrow me?"
"I told her you weren't that kind of man."
Jonas stalked over to Verity. His expression was only one step short of rage. "You think this is all very funny, don't you?"
"It had its moments." Verity could no longer repress a giggle. Her eyes were brimming with laughter when she looked up into his thunderous glare. "I thought about telling her you'd already given your procreative all to me and that I doubted if there was anything left over, but I figured you might be insulted."
"I ought to turn you over my knee. Dammit, Verity, one of these days you're going to go too far."
"Promises, promises," she said, mimicking him.
"A joke. That's all it is to you, isn't it? A stupid joke. Some other woman tells you she wants to hop into the sack with me and make a baby, and you just laugh it off. Where's the goddamned flashlight?"
It finally dawned on Verity that Jonas was not seeing the humor in the situation. He was disgruntled and aggrieved, as if her lack of jealousy hurt him.
She opened her mouth to explain to him that it wasn't other women she feared. When it came to their relationship, her fears focused on the unknown factors in Jonas himself, not anything as straightforward and simple, as another female making a pass at him. The truth was, she trusted him implicitly in some matters. Jonas would never have an affair behind her back. But it was clear that he was not in the mood for another relationship discussion.
"The flashlight is under the bed," Verity said slowly, in answer to his question. "I didn't have room for it when I packed your duffel bag for the trip to town." Verity leaned down and retrieved the large flashlight.
Jonas raised beseeching eyes toward the ceiling. "Anything else of mine hidden under there?"
"Nope. That's it."
Verity ignored his sarcasm as she slowly sat down on the bed. She didn't know how to apologize for not having shown sufficient jealousy, so she decided to move on to a safer topic.
"You know something, Jonas? Elyssa and Preston are both aware of the fact that you were tested at Vincent College. Preston has kept it quiet. He claims he respects your desire for anonymity. The only one he 'old was Elyssa—that's why she's convinced you're a psychic."
Jonas glanced up from checking the flashlight batteries. He frowned. "How much do they know about what happened at Vincent? Did you find out?"
Verity shook her head. "No, but I gather they don't know too much, other than that the researchers confirmed your psychic abilities. That's all that matters to Little Miss Sunshine, by the way. She wants to mate with a true psychic. Maybe she's begun to have a few doubts about Preston. Her temple-priestess mentor thinks your genes might produce more impressive offspring."
"Elyssa?" Verity gave him a wry glance. "I think Elyssa is just the overly enthusiastic type. Which is why I didn't make a scene just now. I mean, after all, she's basically harmless, and she is a client, and I…"
"Forget it. I've got to get back to work. Warwick is paying me to make a thorough inspection of this joint, and time is running out. I'll see you at dinner."
Verity sighed as he left the room. She sat staring at the grimy portrait on the wall, wondering why she hadn't had the sense to make a scene over the issue of another woman setting her sights on Jonas.
But how could she explain to Jonas that she didn't see other women as a threat? Compared to the real dangers their relationship faced, other women were a piece of cake. Jonas, my love, she thought bleakly, you don't know what real fear and jealousy are. I've got them in spades, and they've got nothing to do with other women.
Real fear was the kind that woke her up in the middle of the night and made her wonder if the psychic link between her and Jonas was all that held him at her side. Real jealousy was torturing herself with visions of what might happen if that link ever dissolved, or if Jonas discovered that he no longer needed her to control his talent. And there was another fear she carried deep in her heart. There was a part of Jonas that reminded her of her father. It was the part of him that had an easy acquaintance with violence and adventuring. And every time she caught a glimpse of that part of his nature she found herself wondering how long he would be content to stick around her, and the baby, and Sequence Springs.
Other women? No, Verity could laugh off that threat. There were too many other things in this relationship to panic over.
But until now it had never occurred to her that Jonas might be panicking, too. It was clear for the first time that she wasn't the only one who needed reassurance.
She had been so wrapped up in her own uncertainties and fears that she hadn't even realized that Jonas had a few of his own.
After a few minutes of pondering that revelation, Verity remembered her new earrings. She got up and went to the dresser to put them on. When they were in place, she turned her head from side to side, examining the effect.
Jonas was wrong—she didn't need earrings the color of her eyes. These red crystals were perfect for her. The fire in them danced whenever she moved her head.
"We are as one in our search for the higher levels of truth," Preston Yarwood intoned. "Our combined psychic energy is a powerful force. Together we will project it into the crystal, where it will be tuned, amplified, and fed back to us. Together we will make the journey this evening to another plane. Together we will find a state of altered consciousness in which we can leap across the limitations of normal logic, and use our intuition to arrive at new answers. Together. We must work together."
Rain beat down in the dark courtyard. Verity could hear it slapping against the windows of the salon.
Her left hand was gripped firmly by Jonas and her right hand was held loosely by Oliver Crump. She narrowed her eyes and risked a quick glance around the small circle seated on the floor in front of the fireplace.
The room was dark except for the glow from the fire. Yarwood had turned off the lights, saying that it was easier to harmonize a variety of psychic energies in darkness. In the center of their circle sat a large piece of pink crystal. The idea, Yarwood had explained, was to focus their psychic energy on the crystal.