"I have the distinct impression that you're oversimplifying things enormously."
"I'm just trying to be concise so that we can get back to the main topic here," Jonas declared ominously.
"When and why did the Sir Galahad in a yuppie suit show up?"
"His name is Warwick," Verity said testily. "Doug Warwick. He and his sister Elyssa are staying at the resort. After I sprained my ankle on the steps this evening, I called Laura. She came right over, and the Warwicks came with her. It was really very kind of them. I was a little frightened, you see."
Jonas dropped into a crouch beside the sofa. He touched the bandaged ankle with surprisingly gentle hands. "Frightened because of the fall?"
"No, because of what made me fall."
Jonas's head came up sharply.
"Someone was in the house when I got home from the spa tonight, Jonas. He came rushing out, knocking me to one side. I barely caught myself in time to keep from falling down the steps."
Jonas stared at her in amazement. "Holy shit! Are you serious?"
"Someone got in here?" Jonas's hand tightened on Verity's knee as he glanced around the comfortably furnished room.
Verity followed his gaze. "Doesn't look like he took anything, does it? The stereo is still here, and so's the television. I must have interrupted him before he had a chance to do any damage. That reminds me—I'm supposed to phone the sheriffs office and let them know if anything's missing." She reached for the phone on the end table.
As she dialed, Jonas prowled around the room, opening the cupboards and checking the closets. Then he disappeared down the hall to the bedroom. When he returned, Verity had finished her brief report and was hanging up the phone.
"Dammit, I go away for less than five days and you get yourself into trouble," Jonas growled as he stalked into the kitchen.
"I did not get myself into trouble. I was the innocent victim of an intruder." Verity heard the clink of a bottle against glass. "Make mine juice." A moment later Jonas reappeared with two glasses. One was filled with cranberry juice.
"Did you lock the door before you went over to the spa tonight?" He sat down beside her and handed her the juice.
"No. I never lock it. You know that. We don't have any crime around here."
"Well, we do now, don't we? Of all the crazy, idiotic excuses. How many times have I told you to lock that front door?"
"Now, Jonas… "
"And this business of walking alone over to the spa late at night has got to stop. From now on, either I go with you, or you stay home and find something else to do."
"Now, Jonas… "
"I'd like to know where this Warwick character got the idea he could just pick you up and carry you around. What made him volunteer to play rescuer, anyway? Laura and Rick could have handled things just fine."
"Jesus. A man comes home after a hard week on the road, and the first thing he sees is his woman being carried through the doorway in some other guy's arms. It's enough to make a person think seriously about bringing back chastity belts."
Verity lost her patience. "Jonas, you're beginning to sound like an irate husband. I think you've said enough. In case it has escaped your notice, I am the injured party here. Furthermore, I don't want to hear another nasty word about Doug Warwick. He's a very nice man, and, more important, he's a client of yours."
"He's a what?"
Verity coughed delicately. "I think it would be easier to explain everything tomorrow morning. You look worn out, and heaven knows I'm exhausted after all the excitement. My ankle hurts, and I just want to go to bed and get some sleep."
"Oh no you don't. What is this about Warwick being a client?"
"It's a long story, Jonas. I'd really rather explain it in the morning." She smiled up at him tentatively. "It's just a business matter. Jonas, I'm so glad you're home safe and sound. I was so worried about you."
"My ankle is throbbing, you know. I thought I'd broken it at first. That deck is quite treacherous when it's icy."
"Dammit, Verity… "
"It's so good to have you home, Jonas," she said wistfully. She touched his shoulder, letting her hand trail down his arm. "You look like you've been through the wringer."
"I need a shower," he admitted, swallowing the rest of his brandy.
"Why don't you go take one?"
He rubbed his jaw. "I also need a shave."
"I'm not so sure about that. The beard is kind of sexy." She touched the side of his face.
He looked at her with a sudden, fierce desire. "I also need you."
Verity's smile was very gentle and inviting. "I don't see any reason why you shouldn't have everything you need tonight. Why don't you start with the shower?"
He stared at her mouth. "Why do I let you get away with murder? Eating vegetarian food all these months must have softened my brain." He leaned down to drop a hard, fierce kiss on her waiting lips.
Then he headed for the bathroom.
Verity waited until she heard the water running in the shower before she rose cautiously from the sofa.
She found she could make her way around the room fairly well using the fireplace poker as a cane.
Humming softly, she locked the door and turned off the living-room lights, then hobbled down the hall to the bedroom.
When the bathroom door opened fifteen minutes later, Verity was lying in bed, propped up against the pillows. Her red hair was a fiery halo around her head, and the nightgown she wore was one she had purchased shortly after Jonas had become her lover. It was not designed for cold winter nights. It was a froth of black lace and satin, and it did interesting things for the soft curves of her br**sts.
Jonas came into the bedroom wearing a towel around his waist and using another towel to dry his thick, dark hair. He stopped abruptly when he caught sight of her.
"Given the fact that you were once upon a time a prissy little spinster, you certainly have come a long way." Jonas slung both towels over a chair and walked to the bed. He stood looking down at her, his body fiercely aroused. "I missed you, sweetheart."
"I'm glad." Verity pushed back the covers, making a place for him beside her. "I missed you too, Jonas.
I was so afraid that something would happen to you."
He got into bed and took her into his arms. "You were the one who wound up getting hurt. Just goes to show you." He kissed her throat and slid a hand inside the black lace bodice of her nightgown.