A slow smile tugged at Jonas's hard mouth. He looked down into her furious face. "You really do love me, don't you?" he said softly.

"I don't see what that has to do with anything."


"Never mind."

They were walking along the hall to the bedroom. Verity simmered down enough to think about what Yarwood had said. "You know, Jonas, if Preston thinks you tried to kill Elyssa, that means he's probably innocent himself," she said slowly. "He looked really torn up about it all."

"Don't be an idiot," Jonas said fondly as he swept her through the door of their room. "If you've just killed someone, the logical thing to do is throw suspicion on someone else. Yarwood used the information he had on me to do just that in front of witnesses."

"Witnesses? Oh, you mean Spencer and Maggie."

"Yeah. Spencer and Maggie. And when Warwick and Crump get back tomorrow morning Yarwood will undoubtedly make certain they hear about my unsavory reputation."

"I wish you wouldn't talk like that," Verity chided him.

Jonas shrugged. "Maybe Elyssa will remember what happened and solve the problem for all of us. In the meantime, we have to be prepared for the possibility that Doug will want to end this consulting job in a hurry tomorrow. Can't blame him. After what happened to his sister, he'll probably be anxious to end this entire thing."

"Can you write the report he wants with the information you've got?"

"Don't look so worried, boss. Sure I can write. The report never was a problem. I could have given him something for his clients after the first day." Jonas was moving around the room, collecting the flashlight and a jacket. "But tonight could be our last shot at the treasure."

-- Advertisement --

Verity groaned. "I should have guessed. You know, you've become obsessed by this treasure business, Jonas. I'm not sure it's at all healthy. In fact, given what happened to Digby, I'd say it very definitely is not healthy." She broke off. "It's strange, isn't it?"

"What's strange? Here, put on a jacket, that passage gets cold. You've got to keep the baby warm." He tossed her the parka.

"What's strange," Verity said as she put on the parka, "is that two people who have a direct link with this villa have gotten into serious trouble here. Digby was murdered, and Elyssa was almost killed."

"You're right—it is strange. Ready?" Jonas was already at the wall, moving aside the tapestry to operate the door mechanism.

Verity followed more slowly. "What are we going to do tonight?"

"We're going to look for that room that appears in the vision of the man sitting at the desk. I've scoured every inch of this villa during the past few days, and I haven't found a single room that matches the one in that image."

"So you figure it's hidden somewhere in this passageway?" Verity shivered at the cold draft that swept out from the dank tunnel.

"I think it's possible this passage leads to it. Tonight we'll find out. Bring along that broken sword hilt in case we need to access the vision again."

"I want you to know I don't really approve of this, Jonas. Something tells me we're making a mistake."

She picked up the rusted scrap of metal.

"The only mistake I'm probably making is in taking you along."

"I won't let you go without me," she insisted.

"Just be sure you follow orders. You know the drill. Stay behind me and don't touch anything."

"Just like taking a little kid through a department store," she muttered. " Don't touch anything."

"When little Jonas Junior comes along we'll get to find out about things like that, won't we? I can see us now—you, me, and the kid doing all kinds of stuff together."

"What if it's a little Verity Junior?" Verity said saucily. But it warmed her heart to hear him talking about the three of them as a family.

"I'm not picky," Jonas said generously. "Are you okay? Seems colder than usual in here tonight."

"It's gotten quite cold outside. Probably another storm on the way. I hope Doug and Oliver get back before it hits tomorrow. Jonas, I'm going to be very glad to get off this island. The bloom is off the rose of consulting work, as far as I'm concerned. I'll have to think very carefully before I sign you up for another job."

"You do that, boss."

They followed the trail of old footprints and the ones they themselves had left as far as the entrance to the torture chamber. Jonas pointed the flashlight straight ahead and kept going.

"Not that I wouldn't like to stop and tarry awhile in that chamber," he told Verity. "I've got fond memories of that seduction scene you pulled in there."

"Honestly, Jonas, I'd rather you didn't remind me." Verity was embarrassed at the memory of her sexual aggression. She didn't want to admit to herself how carried away she had gotten.

"Why not?" he taunted. Then he chuckled. "I know what's bothering you. I'll bet you don't think that sort of behavior is proper for a pregnant lady. Such a little prude."

Verity chose not to respond. There wasn't much you could say to a man who had such satisfied glee in his voice.

The stone corridor wound deeper into the bowels of the villa. Verity lost all sense of direction. It was impossible to tell what wing they were in or how deep underground they were. She huddled into her parka, grateful that Jonas had made her bring it along.

"Well, hell," Jonas said a few minutes later. He sounded disgusted.

Verity nearly collided with him when he came to an abrupt halt in front of her. She peered around him and saw that the passage ended in a stone wall. "Oh no!" she cried. "You mean it just ends? After all this running around down here, the passage just comes to an end? It's not fair."

"Maybe things got screwed up when they reconstructed the villa here on the island," Jonas suggested.

He pointed the flashlight downward. "Ah, here we go. The footprints disappear into the wall. What we've got here is another door. All we have to do is find the mechanism that opens it. Stand back, honey. This should be a piece of cake."

But it was not a piece of cake. It took Jonas nearly half an hour to find the hidden lock mechanism. It wasn't the same design as the others, and it had been embedded in the floor instead of the wall.

"Here we go," he said finally. He was down on his knees, his fingers probing between two stones. There was a grinding noise from the wall in front of them.

Verity caught her breath as Jonas activated the mechanism. A wave of dank, fetid air burst from the slowly opening stone doorway. Jonas stepped back out of the way and pulled Verity with him.

-- Advertisement --