Verity had the feeling he was bored with the game.
Doug Warwick had taken the launch over to the small town on the other island, saying he had to make a call to the broker who was handling the deal on the villa. Maggie Frampton, as usual, was involved in the endless houseclean-ing that the villa demanded. Maggie's whole life seemed to revolve around the villa.
Verity had thought about joining Jonas as he worked his way through the lower level of the villa but she'd changed her mind at the last minute. She wanted to be alone for a while. She wanted time to think.
When the ferry glided out of sight, Verity turned and continued her hike along the perimeter of Hazelhurst's island. Her thoughts were filled with Jonas. She couldn't get rid of the feeling that she had failed to give him something he badly needed.
That something was reassurance.
The realization that he might need that just as much as she did was hitting her hard. She had been worrying so much about her future with him that she hadn't realized he might be harboring a few fears and concerns, too.
He had apparently been well aware of her emotional withdrawal these past few weeks; he'd tried often enough to get her to tell him what was wrong. And he had been genuinely upset that she hadn't told him about the baby as soon as she suspected she was pregnant. Then, when she hadn't immediately accepted his marriage proposal, he had been hurt and angry.
Jonas had a right to harbor a few uncertainties. They had surfaced yesterday afternoon when Verity had failed to show any real jealousy over Elyssa's outrageous request.
He was a man who had lived a restless, rootless life for the past few years, a man plagued by ghosts from the past and the constant threat of being overwhelmed by a talent he couldn't control. Such a man needed as much reassurance as he could get from the woman he loved. There were too many other factors in his life that were not the least bit certain or reliable.
Verity had done a great deal of thinking during the night.
She had awakened this morning overcome with remorse, and with a new perspective on Jonas Quarrel, She scolded herself for having been so wrapped up in her own problems lately. She hadn't paid nearly enough attention to Jonas's feelings.
Verity walked around a curving bluff and paused to glance down into a tiny cove. She was about to move on when she saw a small boat that had been drawn halfway out of the water and tethered to a pine bough. It was a sleek, fast-looking little craft. She glanced around, searching for whoever had arrived in it. There was no sign of anyone. The cove's pebbly shore was impervious to footprints.
Verity made a mental note to tell Doug Warwick that there might be visitors on the island.
She turned and walked a little farther before deciding that the brisk wind was too cold to make further hiking pleasant. She swung around and started back to the villa. It was time to give Maggie a hand with lunch preparations.
But Maggie wasn't in the kitchen when Verity arrived. Doug Warwick had not yet returned from his trip to town, either. Crump and Spencer were in the salon, but Verity decided not to strike up a conversation. She headed up to her room.
Jonas was not in the bedroom and she assumed he was busy earning his consulting fee. Verity decided to see how he was doing. She was on her way down the hall when she ran into Maggie Frampton.
"Here now, you looking for Mr. Quarrel?" Maggie said, surprisingly helpful. "I believe he decided to check out the dungeons. Saw Little Miss Sunshine with him." Maggie was obviously eager to impart that last tidbit.
"Thanks, Maggie." The thought of Elyssa and Jonas checking out the torture chamber together was annoying. "Was Preston with them?"
"Nope. Mr. Yarwood is in his room. He's not in a good mood, I can tell you. He and Little Miss Sunshine appear to have had a falling out, haven't they?" Maggie observed with relish.
"Something like that," Verity agreed dryly. "Excuse me, Maggie. I think I'll see how the big treasure hunt is going."
"You do that. But I'll tell you right now, there ain't no treasure here. Just a big lonesome old house that no one but me and Digby really loved. Now Digby's gone, and I'm not gonna get a chance to stay on to take care of the old place." Maggie shook her head and moved off down the hall. She was wearing another of her seemingly endless supply of housedresses. The dull overhead light gleamed briefly on the plain metal chain she wore around her neck. "Reckon I'll see about lunch."
"I'll give you a hand in a little while," Verity called after her. Then, with a determined stride, she headed for the stone staircase.
At the top of the stairs, something made Verity glance back over her shoulder. She caught Maggie watching her with a curious expression of anticipation.
She knows something I don't know, Verity thought. But she had a feeling she would soon be let in on the secret. She found her way down into the bowels of the villa without much difficulty, using the route she and Jonas had followed to return to their room the preceding evening. When she reached the door of the torture chamber, she found it ajar. She was not particularly surprised to hear Elyssa's sweetly cajoling voice from within.
"I have received guidance in this decision, Jonas. I have opened myself fully to the positive forces that prevail within me. I have gone inside myself and consulted with the spiritual side of my nature. Saranantha has helped me understand that what I seek is right. She has assured me that I am on the proper path. I am quite certain about what I am doing."
"Well, I'm not." Jonas's voice was impatient. "If you don't mind, Elyssa, I've got a lot of work to do here.
Your brother is paying good money for my report, and I'd like to get it done on time."
"You don't understand, Jonas. I fee! I've been building toward this moment for several lifetimes. All the power of my woman's body has been developing for thousands of years, growing stronger, more fertile, more perfectly adapted as it prepares itself for the perfect mate. You are my psychic mate. You'll see.
When we are joined in true harmony, there will be no doubts in your mind."
Jonas's voice cut in, sounding a trifle hoarse. "Look, Elyssa, I'm sure you believe everything you're saying, but the fact is, I'm not what you think. I'm not your perfect psychic mate. Trust me on this, Elyssa.
I know what I'm talking about. If you want a psychic stud, go back to Yarwood or one of the others."
"No, Jonas, you are the right man for me. I know it as surely as I know the sun will rise tomorrow morning. You're just nervous, that's all. But you have no need to be. I have envisioned everything. I have seen it all on a psychic plane that transcends this level of reality. I have seen us making love, Jonas.