Jonas contrived to look hurt. "I do it all for you, and this is the thanks I get."
"Sure. Think of it as a beauty treatment. Keeps you toned and lubricated."
"Some beauty treatment. It's going to turn me into a giant whale during the next few months," Verity complained.
To her surprise, Jonas's expression sobered. He drew a finger along the line of her jaw. "Are you scared, honey?" he asked gently.
Verity automatically started to deny it, but reality stopped her. "A little," she admitted.
"Don't be," Jonas ordered softly. "I'll be there with you. We'll handle it together the same way we handle those transitions into the time corridor. No sweat."
Verity's mouth curved. " 'No sweat.' I'll remember that promise."
He touched her lips with his fingertip. His golden eyes were brilliant and very, very serious. "You do that."
She sighed and rested her chin on his chest. His strength was always a source of reassurance and security. It was true there was a wide streak of the primitive in Jonas, a side of him that knew and understood far too much about violence. But she would never need to fear him. "I do love you, Jonas."
His gaze was intent. "Just as well, since we're going to be married." He went on quickly before she could argue the point, "Now tell me why you were glaring at me a minute ago."
"I was not glaring at you. That was an expression of thoughtful concern."
"Excuse me. Why were you glaring at me with an expression of thoughtful concern?" He ruffled her curls.
"I was thinking about Elyssa and Preston Yarwood."
"What about them?"
Verity lifted her chin and hunched forward with sudden intensity. "Jonas, when we were talking about the possibili-ty that Yarwood was the one who pushed Elyssa off that cliff, we forgot about another possible bad guy. Someone we haven't even considered."
Jonas tilted his head to one side on the pillow and studied her serious expression. "You mean whoever owns that boat down in the cove?"
Verity groaned. "I should have known you'd already thought of it. Why didn't you say something earlier?"
"I was too involved in other matters," he said in a lofty tone.
"You mean you were in too much of a hurry to get your jeans unzipped. Honestly, Jonas, for a man with a respectable academic reputation, you have an amazingly primitive mentality when it comes to some matters. Obviously a Ph.D. is no guarantee against simpleminded lust."
Jonas widened his eyes in astonishment. "Did you think it was?"
"One has certain illusions about academia."
"Only someone who never suffered through the formal academic process could harbor any illusions about it. Be grateful your father never sent you to a real school. Come to think of it, I'm inclined to ask Emerson to supervise the education of our kid."
"We're straying from the topic here," Verity pointed out. It was oddly disturbing to have Jonas discussing the education of their baby.
"Were we straying? I hadn't noticed."
"Another example of your simplemindedness."
"My simplemindedness is all your fault," he said dismissively. He gave a huge yawn, then he flashed her a wolfish grin.
"About that boat in the cove," Verity said determinedly.
"I'll have another look at it in the morning. Did you notice anything special when you opened the locker to get the tarp for Elyssa?"
Verity shook her head, trying to remember. "No. I didn't see any log books or identification papers. But I wasn't looking for them, either. Jonas, that boat means there's someone else on this island."
"Like Doug said, probably a tourist who's camping here for a couple of days."
"In this weather?"
Jonas contemplated that silently for a few seconds. "I've heard these Northwest types are very hardy,"
he finally said. "It could be a devout fisherman."
"Then where is he? Why didn't he notice Elyssa? Why didn't he appear when the rest of us went down to the cove to get her?"
"He could be camping a long way from where he left the boat. He might know nothing at all about what happened to Elyssa."
"Or," Verity declared, "he might have been the one who pushed her."
"Which leaves us with the question of why he would want to hurt her," Jonas concluded. "When you get right down to it, Preston Yarwood is still the only one around with an honest-to-God motive."
"It looks that way, doesn't it?" Verity agreed gloomily.
"Hmm?" She knew that tone in his voice. It was the one Jonas used when he gave a command he expected to be obeyed.
"I'll see if I can find the guy who owns that boat in the morning," Jonas said slowly. "In the meantime, whatever else happens, I want you to be damn sure you aren't alone with Yarwood."
"I still can't quite picture him as the violent type."
Jonas wrapped his hands in her hair and pulled her face close to his for a quick, hard kiss. "For a woman who was raised in some of the seediest island towns in the Western Hemisphere, you sure don't know much about men or violence. With Emerson Ames for a father, how could you grow up with such a streak of naivete?"
"I am not naive!"
"Yes, you are. In some ways." Jonas gave her a strange, speculative look. "I find it kind of endearing.
Underneath that prickly exterior, you're sweet and soft and gentle, inclined to see the best in everyone until you get hit over the head with evidence to the contrary. You're a soft touch, honey. And I don't want you hanging around Preston Yarwood unless I'm in the immediate vicinity. That's an order."
Verity's smile was a little too soft and a little too sweet. "Did I ever tell you how I get weak in the knees when you turn all macho?"
"That's very interesting, Verity. I don't believe you've ever mentioned it. You want me to tie you to this bedpost while we discuss this weakness of yours, or would you prefer the one on the other side? Maybe all four at once?"
She started to tickle him unmercifully. There were some distinct advantages to having lived with a man for a while—you knew exactly where he was most sensitive.
If the atmosphere at lunch had been strained, the mood at dinner was stretched almost to the breaking point. It snapped just as the meal ended.
Things started out quietly enough. There was a subdued tension hanging over the stone room, but Verity assumed that was only to be expected. She didn't know if the others had come to the same conclusion she and Jonas had about the cause of Elyssa's fall, but she knew the subject was on everyone's mind.