The Wild Adventure of Jasper Renn
Page 10

 Kady Cross

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There was nothing quite so nice as new underclothes, and these ones were silk trimmed with fine, delicate Brussels lace. Blush-colored stockings were held up by matching suspenders, and her new corset, which was a pale rose satin, was one of the newer designs by a woman in France. It laced up the front and had reticulated boning that allowed much more freedom of movement for the lady wearing it. Supposedly she’d created the design for lady spies. It was certainly ingenious, and comfortable.
She sang to herself as she dressed. What a difference in her mood from yesterday! It wasn’t all because of Jasper—she wasn’t going to give him that much credit—but she had to admit he was a big part of it. The other half was knowing that her sister was all right, or at least that she had been a few days ago. If she had friends, that was good. If she’d literally run away to join the circus, well, that was better than all the things Cat had thought about and fretted over. And after tonight, it would all be behind them.
Her hair often had a mind of its own, so she merely pinned some of the oiled and smoothed curls up and let the rest fall down her back. Her hair was probably her one true vanity. She rubbed some oil into her shoulders and arms, as well. Then she pulled on the deep rose gown, which cleverly buttoned up the front but had a panel that concealed the buttons.
When she was done it was five minutes to seven. She stepped into her new pumps, grabbed her wrap and started cautiously for the door. She didn’t often wear heels, so she took it slow at first. But the shoes proved sturdy, and she quickly regained her confidence in being able to put one foot in front of the other.
People stared at her as she got off the lift. Some whispered. Some said things out loud, but none of it was mean. Oh, maybe someone thought ill of her, but she didn’t hear it, and that was all that mattered.
An older gentleman bowed as she walked past. “Enchanting,” he said to her. Cat smiled and thanked him. Then, she looked up, and her smile froze.
Good lord.
In the middle of the foyer stood the singularly most gorgeous man she’d ever seen. His wavy dark blond hair was brushed back from his face in neat waves. His jaw was smoothly shaved. He wore black evening clothes that had been tailored to him so that the jacket showed off his broad shoulders and narrow waist. His shirt was white, his waistcoat and cravat were both ivory. And in his lapel was a single rose almost the exact same shade as her dress.
He looked at her as though someone had hit him with a brick—which she recognized as a good thing. Still smiling, she walked up to him.
“How did you know?” she asked, touching the tip of her finger to the rose he wore.
He didn’t even look. His gaze didn’t leave hers. “It’s your favorite color. Tarnation, Cat. You’re gorgeous.”
She blushed. He was the only one to ever make her do that. “Thanks. So are you.”
Jasper shook his head, looking peevish. “No, you are really... I mean, you’re always beautiful, but you... You’re an angel.”
Cat normally would have laughed at such praise and called him a liar, but for that one night she was going to believe every nice thing he said to her. She wanted to look back on this moment years from now and smile at the memory.
When he offered his arm, she took it, and squirmed a little under the weight of his stare. Admiration shone in his moss-colored eyes, and he obviously didn’t care if she, or anyone else, saw it.
Outside, a lacquered carriage sat at the curb, complete with liveried driver and twin automaton horses. Both of these horses were silver in color and beautifully embossed with winding ivy vines. The vines were also in the crest on the door. The driver hopped down and opened the door.
“Get in,” Jasper suggested when she didn’t move.
She knew her eyes had to be the size of saucers, and she wasn’t wearing her spectacles. “Really?”
He grinned. “Do you like it? I thought about a steam carriage that I could drive myself, but this seemed more pretentious.”
She laughed. “It’s gorgeous. It’s really ours?”
“I borrowed it from Griffin. It’s ours for the night. Now in you get.”
He didn’t have to say it again. Cat allowed the driver to hand her into the vehicle, and Jasper followed on her heels. The driver shut the door, and in a few minutes they were on their way to Covent Garden.
Jasper waited until the carriage was in motion before kissing her senseless.
“I’ve been waiting all day to do that,” he said.
Oh, they were digging a deep hole and Cat didn’t care. “Me, too.”
His bright gaze roamed over her. “Did you wear this just for me?”
She nodded. “Did you?”
“You know full well I did. I feel like that monkey we saw performing on the street, remember that? That fella had him all trussed up in a suit.”
Of course she did. It had been right after they’d met and started doing whatever it was they were doing. “You’re much cuter than that monkey.”
“That was a pretty dang cute monkey.”
She grinned. “So are you.”
He kissed her again. In fact, he kissed her all the way to Covent Garden, but he was mindful enough not to muss up her hair, which she found oddly sweet. She used to mock people who treated her as feminine or delicate, because there was nothing delicate about her, but now she could see why some women went out of their way to get attention. It was nice to be treated like something special.
“We’re here,” Jasper said as the carriage came to a halt. Cat could see the door to Pick-a-dilly Circus through the window. A small crowd of people were on their way inside.