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Page 81

Perhaps he needed to go through some sort of mourning period, she told herself. The psychic talent had been the bane of much of his adult life, but it had been an integral part of him. Losing it must have been like losing a hand, or an arm, or one of the five senses. Verity forced herself to be understanding and undemanding. She took great pains to be good-natured and sweet.

She didn't nag him to finish the report for the Warwicks. She didn't urge him to write any more articles for the academic journals. She temporarily shelved her big plans to have him do a piece on Renaissance weapons for National Geographic. And she didn't bring up the subject of another consulting assignment.

But the more understanding she became, the more Jonas withdrew. It was a frustrating spiral, and as she got more and more enmeshed in it all her old fears were revived. She was convinced that Jonas would leave again. And this time, she thought, he might go away for good.

The bottom line here, she thought grimly, was that Jonas didn't need her the way he once had. She was no longer his psychic anchor. She was merely his lover and the mother of his child—a child he had never planned to have.

It was unfortunate that in the dead of winter, business was light at the No Bull Cafe. Verity had too much time to think.

"When's the wedding?" Laura Griswald asked at the end of the week. The two women were sharing a spa pool after hours. Crystal-clear water bubbled and steamed around them.

"I'm not sure there's going to be one," Verity said quietly.

"You mean you two haven't talked marriage yet?" Laura's brows arched in disbelief. "I thought for sure that when you came back from the vacation up north it would all be settled."

"I thought it was."

Laura leaned forward, her expression one of deep concern. "Verity, are you telling me that Jonas doesn't want to marry you? He doesn't want the baby?"

"I don't know what Jonas wants," Verity said as she stood up and reached for her towel. "I'm not sure he knows, either."

"I can't believe this. I was so sure everything would work out between you two."

"Men are a little more complicated than I once gave them credit for," Verity said curtly. "At least Jonas is." She turned around quickly before Laura could see the tears in her eyes, and hurried toward the changing booth.

She dressed in her jeans and a yellow cotton shirt and headed for the resort's lounge. Jonas would be waiting. He still insisted on accompanying her when she wanted a late-night soak. He refused to let her walk back alone along the icy path to the cottage.

Verity saw him as she entered the lounge. He sat slouching with casual grace on a bar stool, his boots hooked over the brass foot railing. He was draining the last of his scotch. And he was not alone.

"Dad! You're back!" Verity ran toward her father. "When did you get in?"

Her father swung around on the bar stool and folded his daughter in a bear-sized embrace. "Got in about an hour ago. Found Jonas holding down the bar all by himself and thought I'd keep him company until you showed up."

Verity ignored Jonas, who was giving his full attention to his drink. She smiled brilliantly at her father.

"Did Jonas tell you the news?"

"What news?"

Jonas froze. He shot Verity a glowering look over his shoulder. She paid him no attention.

"I'm pregnant," Verity said demurely and watched with delight as her father leaped to his feet.

Emerson Ames let out a whoop of joy, grabbed his daughter by the waist, and swung her around in a wide arc. Two people sitting at a nearby table ducked quickly.

"You're pregnant? I'm going to get a grandkid? Bless you, my darling red-haired daughter! What the devil took you so long? Yahoo and pour me another drink, Clement. A big one. Hell, pour everyone in the joint another drink." Emerson turned expansively to address the small crowd. "This round's on me, folks. Drink up. I'm gonna be a granddaddy." There was a smattering of applause and appreciative laughter. Emerson draped a burly arm around his daughter's shoulders and hugged her while he grinned widely at Jonas. "So when's the wedding? I gotta get me a new suit for this."

Jonas swiveled halfway around on the stool, one arm resting along the edge of the bar. He gazed at Verity through narrowed lids. "Who said anything about marriage?"

Emerson's euphoric expression turned thunderous in the wink of an eye. He released Verity. "What the hell are you talking about? Verity says she's pregnant. Haven't you gotten around to asking my daughter to marry you yet, you son of a bitch?"

The bar fell silent. Clement, the bartender, groaned. Verity held her breath.

Jonas stood up with insulting slowness. He hooked his thumbs into his belt and scowled at Emerson.

"You're barking up the wrong tree, Ames. I did ask your daughter to marry me. Had a hell of a time talking her into it, too. But after I did, things changed. Important things. You want to know when the wedding will be? Ask Verity. I've been getting the impression she's had a few second thoughts."

Verity's mouth fell open in amazement. " Jonas. How could you think that?"

Jonas turned on her. "That's a damn fool question. What else was I supposed to think this past week?

You've been acting damn weird again. You're harder to figure out now than you were when you were moping around wondering whether or not to tell me about the baby."

"I've been acting weird? What a nasty thing to say. You're deliberately reversing the situation. You're the one who's been acting strange. I got the distinct impression that you were no longer interested in marriage yourself."

Emerson took a threatening step forward. "What's going on around here? What is it with you two?"

"Stay out of this, Emerson." Jonas shot the big man a warning glance. "This is between Verity and me."

"Well, you picked a fine place to settle a private matter," Emerson roared back.

"Yeah, you've got a point. Come on, Verity. Let's get the hell out of here." Jonas caught her wrist and headed for the door.

"Ouch. Let go of me, dammit. I don't have to put up with your caveman tactics. I'm pregnant. I deserve a little consideration."

"I deserve a little honesty," he snarled, hauling her through the doorway. "I'm sick of all the sweetness and light I've been getting lately. If you've got something to tell me, you can tell me straight out. You don't need to pu**yfoot around me just because I'm not… "

"Just because you're not what?" Verity goaded as he yanked her through the rustic lobby and out into the cold night air.

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