The Wild Adventure of Jasper Renn
Page 11

 Kady Cross

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Suddenly, she didn’t want to go in. Didn’t want to leave the carriage. Part of it was she wanted to stay locked up with him, but another part was worried people would say things about the two of them being together. Then Jasper opened the door and stepped out. He turned and offered her his hand. She couldn’t just sit there like an idiot.
“Let’s go find that sister of yours.”
She put her gloved hand in his and stepped out of the carriage. A tendril of dread wrapped around her heart. Part of her hoped Sparrow wasn’t there just so they’d have to come back, because if her sister was there, then Cat’s adventure in London would be over, and she’d be on her way back to New York, sister in tow.
And she’d probably never see Jasper Renn again.
Chapter Five
His Aether pistol dug into his hip.
Jasper was hard-pressed to care, however. The reason the weapon dug into him was because Cat was pressed up against him, watching the performances with wide eyes and a smile on her lips, showing just the slightest hint of fang. She was a strange girl, a peculiar creature, and he adored every unusual inch of her. No one could make him as happy or drive him as mad as she could. For the first time since returning to London, he felt as though the pieces of his life finally fit together like a completed jigsaw puzzle.
Maybe he’d go to hell for it, but he hoped they didn’t find Sparrow at the circus. The longer Cat stayed in London the harder it would be to say goodbye, but he didn’t want to say goodbye just yet, either. More time—that was all he wanted.
But fate was cruel, and just when he thought he might get his wish, the second-to-last act of the night began. It was Sparrow. He knew it even from a distance, because she looked very much like Cat, even in a brightly decorated mask that covered the upper half of her face. Her costume was snug—somewhat revealing but not outrageously so.
She climbed up the tall ladder on the right side of the stage, while a young man climbed the one on the left. The platforms they stepped onto were so high that a fall would surely kill them. Jasper realized this just as the fellow wrapped his hands around a trapeze swing and jumped.
A few gasps rose up, but that wasn’t the exciting part. The man swung over the stage, building momentum, and then Sparrow grabbed a swing on her side and swung out, as well.
Cat’s fingernails—which were also sharp claws—dug into his leg. He winced and put his hand over hers. Immediately she relaxed, and the pain in his thigh eased. At least she hadn’t ripped through the fabric of his trousers.
Sparrow swung and swung and then...she let go. She spiraled and twisted through the air like a leaf on the wind, and then, just when it seemed she might plummet to her death, she reached out her arms, as did her companion, and their hands locked together.
The audience gasped loudly. Cat actually made a little noise in her throat that sounded like a meow. God, she was strange.
God, he loved her.
That realization was like receiving the butt of a pistol to the head, no denying that. He loved her? Loved Cat? No, that was impossible. It was ridiculous. It was foolhardy. It was...
It was true. And it had been true since the first time he met her. That empty feeling he’d carried around with him when he came to London wasn’t about losing Mei or escaping Dalton, or leaving his family and life behind. It had been about losing the one person who understood and accepted him just as he was. And it was why he hadn’t felt right since returning from the States this last time, because the only time he felt right was with her. He should have stayed in New York with her and not come back to London, but Dalton would come for him, and he couldn’t let Cat be another casualty of the outlaw’s hate, like Mei had been.
What was he going to do? He tried desperately to come up with an answer, but then Cat’s hand was on his and she squeezed hard.
“Oh, lord,” she whispered.
Jasper turned his attention to the ring. Sparrow was by herself, spinning and twirling through the air between two swings that were anchored in place. She threw herself between them with wild abandon, swooping and diving, somehow seeming to defy gravity and death itself with her graceful and awesome daring.
Of course he should have known that any girl named Sparrow could probably fly—or give the illusion of it. There was no denying she was more than human, though it could be passed off as extraordinary talent and not an evolutionary mutation. No one in this audience cared why she could do these things—they just appreciated and were in awe of it. They’d talk about it and say it had to be a trick, maybe. Or they’d say that she was just incredible, but no one was likely to call her a freak, not like they would if she was anywhere but inside this building.
Maybe Pick-a-dilly was a little safe haven for the evolved people of the world.
Sparrow and her partner did a couple more insane stunts, and then the girl did one final bit on her own. She wound herself around the swing as it sailed through the air, drawing gasp after gasp from those watching. Then she landed back on her platform. Just when it seemed as though the act was all done, she backed up, stepping as far back on the opposite end of the platform as she could. Then she ran toward the edge, and when she got there she launched herself into the open air high above the ring.
Cat’s breath caught in her throat—Jasper heard it.
The girl glided through the air—flew. That was the only way to describe it. She soared like a bird buoyed by the wind.
There were several large fans beneath her. He had thought they kept the performers cool and dry so they didn’t sweat and slip, but maybe they were also there to give her lift? It didn’t matter, and it didn’t make what she did any less dangerous. He held his own breath until she hit the opposite platform and somersaulted across it.