Jonas chuckled softly and unfolded his arms. He braced one hand against the stone wall, planted the other on his hip, and grinned devilishly at Verity. "I don't know about that. Personally, I thought she looked a little top-heavy. A man could suffocate amid all those boobs if he wasn't careful. But then, maybe I'm just used to a skinny little redhead who makes me think of a sleek, sexy wildcat when she makes love to me."
"You think you're going to get out of this with a few flattering words about my talent in bed?" Verity smiled menacingly. She still held the manacle in one hand.
"Not a few flattering words, Sots of flattering words."
"Talk fast, Jonas." The manacle snapped shut around his wrist.
Jonas froze for a few seconds. His wicked grin faded. He blinked at the strip of metal that now chained him to the wall. "This your idea of a joke, honey?"
"No," she said, walking slowly around him to where the other manacle dangled on the opposite side.
"Nor do I find the idea of you and Little Miss Sunshine hanging around together down here in the torture chamber very amusing. I guess I have a limited sense of humor." Her eyes traveled over him as if she were inspecting him for market. She picked up the other manacle.
Jonas smiled reassuringly. "Sweetheart, you know damn well nothing would have happened." Poor Verity. She really was upset, he realized. She'd never experienced raw jealousy before. Of course, she'd never been in love before, either, he reminded himself with a wave of masculine satisfaction. He was the first and only man in her life.
"How do I know nothing would have happened, Jonas?" The manacle swung in a slow, hypnotic arc from her fingers. Her eyes were very wide and troubled as she looked up at him.
Jonas took pity on her. He knew what she was going through. He touched the side of her cheek with his free hand. "Take it easy, honey. I know how you feel, i was damned upset the night I came back from Mexico and found you being carried into the cabin by Warwick, remember? And when I found Spencer climbing all over you, I really came unglued. But it turned out that nothing out of line was happening."
"Those were different matters entirely," she snapped curtly.
"The hell they were."
Verity glared ferociously. Her hand moved suddenly, and before Jonas realized her intention, the second manacle closed around his free wrist. She stepped quickly away from him, her eyes glittering with a new kind of fire.
"For Christ's sake, Verity, what the hell do you think you're doing?" He glanced at his tethered wrists.
There wasn't enough play in the chains to allow him to bring his hands together. He was anchored to the wall. Jonas's mood of amused, indulgent understanding began to evaporate rapidly.
"I'm going to teach you a lesson, Jonas Quarrel." Verity turned away from him to survey the collection of leather and velvet whips arranged on the wall. "If you want to hang around in torture chambers playing with psychic groupies, then it's time you learned the risks." She selected a whip, a long-handled one with soft, delicate tassles on the end.
Jonas eyed her with a new wariness. Verity was as unpredictable as dy***ite under normal circumstances. He'd never dealt with her when she was in a jealous rage before. Things promised to get interesting. "Put that back, Verity," he said. "This has gone far enough."
"! don't think so, Jonas." She walked to the chamber door and closed it. Then she slid the bolt home.
The dull ker-chunk sounded ominous. She moved slowly back toward Jonas, watching him through narrowed eyes. The tassled whip waved in her hand. "You want to play games in torture chambers? I'll see if I can teach you a few tricks."
Jonas was torn between laughter and a hot, sizzling excitement. He'd been aroused since Verity had arrived looking like an avenging queen. He'd taken a violent satisfaction in the knowledge that she wanted him enough to fight for him. It had given him an undeniable, heady thrill to see the possessiveness in her eyes.
But he didn't know what to make of her now. He wondered just how much of this was serious anger and how much was nothing more than a passionate game.
"Verity," Jonas said with quiet forcefulness, "the game's gone far enough. Where are the keys to these manacles?"
She took them out of her pocket and tossed them aside. They landed with a faint tinkling sound, well out of his reach. Jonas frowned. Verity moved slowly toward him, an odd smile on her lips.
"Lesson number one," she said as she stuck the handle of the whip into the back pocket of her jeans.
"You don't need to wear so many clothes in a torture chamber." She began unbuttoning his shirt. "Torture chambers are hot places."
Jonas stared down at her fingers, fascinated. His throat was suddenly dry. "Verity?" The shirt parted and she ran her slender fingers through the hair on his chest. She flicked one flat nipple and Jonas sucked in his breath. His jeans began to feel far too snug.
"Lesson number two," Verity murmured as she knelt in front of him and yanked off first one scuffed boot and then the other. "You don't hang around places like this with twenty-thousand-year-old prostitutes. Is that clear?"
"Believe me," Jonas said tightly, "it won't happen again." He was getting turned on so fast that he was afraid he might become the world's first documented case of human spontaneous combustion. Verity was back on her feet now, her hands busy at the zipper of his jeans. "Honey, you're not really going to go through with this, are you?"
"I believe in teaching a very thorough lesson." The zipper hissed in her hands. She let her fingers trail inside the opening and smiled approvingly at what she found there. Jonas inhaled deeply. Then she slid her palms under the waistband and shoved the jeans down over Jonas's hips.
Jonas groaned under the touch of her soft warm hands on his bare thighs. He looked down and saw his manhood straining against the fabric of his tight briefs. It didn't take much urging from Verity for him to kick off the jeans. Then he glanced at the door.
"Verity, I don't think this is such a good idea. Let's go upstairs to our room. Anyone might come by and wonder what's going on in here."
"Oh, lord." Jonas closed his eyes as he felt her take him into her hands. Her nails scraped exquisitely along the heavy, throbbing length of him. "Verity, this is crazy."
"Torture. Think of it as torture."
"It's torture all right. I'm not sure I'll survive." He took a few deep breaths trying to regain some self-control. She had such good hands, he thought dazedly. She knew exactly how and where to touch him. He felt her fingers teasing the full, taut globes at the base of his shaft and instinctively he arched his hips toward her.