"Saranantha?" she whispered thickly.

"It's Verity, not Saranantha. It's all right, Elyssa. I'll get you back to the house. Can you sit up? We've got to get you out of the water." No telling how long Elyssa had been lying here with her legs in the gray, frigid water.

"Feel dizzy." Elyssa's voice was slurred. "Help me, Saranantha." She made a halfhearted attempt to sit up and promptly collapsed back into Verity's arms. Her eyes closed again.

Elyssa wasn't going to be much help. Verity stripped off her parka, shuddering as the rain hit her head and shoulders. She removed the other woman's soaked jacket and stuffed Elyssa into the warm down parka. Then she hooked her hands under Elyssa's arms and started to pull her out of the water.

It was tough going. Elyssa was no lightweight, but Verity eventually got her up onto the rocky shore. She glanced at the boat, wondering where the owner was. She hurried over to peer inside. There was a small, wadded-up paper sack in one corner, a wooden paddle for emergencies, and some fishing line. Nothing useful there.

The keys were gone, but Verity discovered that a storage locker in the stern was open. Inside was a plastic tarp. It wasn't much, but it would keep the rain off Elyssa and insulate some of her body heat.

Verity dragged it out of the locker and draped it over the prone figure.

Elyssa didn't look like Little Miss Sunshine at the moment. She didn't look very seductive, either. Elyssa looked as if she might die if Verity didn't get help fast.

Verity scrambled back up the short cliff and ran for the villa. There were only a few twinges from her injured ankle.

Jonas was standing in front of a narrow window on the first floor of the villa when he caught sight of the familiar red-haired figure dashing toward the house. His first thought was that Verity had no business running like that on her injured ankle. She could easily take another fall.

His second thought was that he was going to strangle her for going outside without a coat. She was wearing only a sweater over her jeans, and her hair was soaked. Obviously the little firebrand did not know the first thing about good prenatal care.

It occurred to him briefly as he turned away from the window that this pregnancy business might well change the nature of their relationship. He was rapidly developing an urge to nag. Of course it was all for her own good.

He reached the main hall at the instant that Verity came charging through the front door.

"What the hell do you think you're doing running around without a jacket? What are you doing outside in the rain anyway, for Christ's sake? Where's your common sense, woman? You're responsible for two now, you know."

Her eyes flew to where he stood glaring at her with his arms folded and his feet braced aggressively.

Relief flooded her. "Jonas! Thank goodness. It's Elyssa. She's fallen. She's lying unconscious in the cove where the little boat is anchored."

Jonas rapidly reassessed the situation. "Go get Doug and anyone else you can find."

They got Elyssa up the side of the cliff without too much difficulty. When Doug carried her into the house and set her on a sofa in front of the fire, Verity and Oliver Crump bent anxiously over the unconscious woman. They began stripping off Elyssa's soggy clothing. Crump issued orders for blankets and warm water. One by one, the entire group appeared.

Jonas stood back and watched Verity's red head hovering close to Oliver's dark one. He was aware of the same uneasy sensation he'd experienced earlier when he'd watched the two of them playing with the crystal.

It disturbed him to see Verity involved with that kind of thing. He didn't like the way Crump seemed intent on drawing her into his silly psychic games. And he did not like the way Verity seemed to be growing increasingly fascinated with Crump and the damn crystals.

Preston Yarwood was the last person to walk into the salon. Jonas watched his face as he took in the sight of his lover stretched out unconscious.

" Elyssa! What the hell happened?" Yarwood hurried forward, looking genuinely stricken. "Is she all right? What's wrong, dammit!"

"She must have fallen," Crump said as he and Verity wrapped Elyssa in the blankets. "The rain has probably made the ground treacherous around the top of the cliffs. She's alive, but unconscious."

"But she was fine when I left her," Yarwood said helplessly. He stopped talking as everyone glanced up at him.

Doug Warwick looked at Yarwood for a long moment before he said briskly, "As soon as you've got her warmed up, Oliver, I'll take her into town. There's a small hospital on the other island."

Oliver nodded, his attention on his patient. "She probably has a concussion, but I don't see any indication of other injury. I don't think she was in the water very long. I'll go with you in the boat."

"Thanks," Doug said. He looked at Verity. "And thank you too, Verity. If you hadn't found her when you did… "

"That water's mighty cold," Maggie Frampton observed grimly. She had appeared a few minutes earlier and was standing stiffly in the doorway. "Person could die of exposure. Hypothermia, they call it."

"We know, Maggie," Slade Spencer said, cutting her off. His contribution to handling the crisis was to pop another pill into his mouth.

Jonas saw Oliver, Doug, and a well-wrapped Elyssa off on the launch a half-hour later.

"Oliver and I will be back in the morning with the launch," Doug said as Jonas tossed him the lines.

"Right. We'll see you tomorrow."

Doug was silent for a moment as he stood in the bobbing launch. "Elyssa and Yarwood have been arguing a lot lately," he finally said. "Yarwood was furious about something this morning. This afternoon he came back from that walk alone."

Jonas looked at him, feeling a wave of masculine empathy. He'd be looking for someone to punish too, if anything had happened to Verity. "I wouldn't read too much into it, Doug," he counseled softly. "Chances are she really did just slip and fall."

Doug's mouth twisted wryly. "I know. Guess I was out of line. Elyssa's a pain in the ass, but she is my sister."

Jonas decided privately that he'd go along with that analysis. Elyssa was indeed a pain in the ass. But he owed her. After all, if she hadn't pulled that seduction scene in Hazelhurst's torture chamber this morning, he would have missed one of the great erotic encounters of all time.

It wasn't just the manacles and Verity's technique with a velvet whip he was going to recall for the rest of his life. It was the hungry, passionate, possessive way she had made it clear that he belonged to her and her alone.

Jayne Ann Krentz Books | Suspense Books | Gift Series Books
Source: www.StudyNovels.com