The Wild Adventure of Jasper Renn
Page 13

 Kady Cross

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He lowered the gun. “Time for you to leave,” he informed the earl through clenched teeth.
Blackhurst glared at him, all traces of fear gone. “You’ll pay for this.”
Jasper smiled at him. “Someday, when there are less witnesses, so will you.” Cat grinned, as well, revealing her fangs. They both stepped back to let the man leave.
“Oi,” said the woman who had brought them there. “From now on, if that bastard shows ’is face round ’ere again, you don’t let him alone with anyone. Understood?”
The girls, who were all clustered around Sparrow, nodded.
The woman gave a curt nod. “Good.” Then she turned to Jasper. “You owe me a door, mister.”
He gave her his card. “Send me a bill.”
“Don’t fink I won’t,” she warned and tucked the card into her corset. Then she walked out, leaving them alone with a bunch of girls as she yelled for everyone clustered around the door to stop ogling and get back to work.
Jasper put his arm around Cat’s shoulders. “Are you all right?”
She frowned at him. “Me? Yeah, I’m good. If he had hurt her I wouldn’t be fine at all.”
And neither would Blackhurst. He’d seen firsthand what Cat’s claws could do to someone who deserved to feel them. “You want me to take you and the girls home?”
Cat nodded. “Thanks.”
She was pulling away from him already—he could feel it. She’d done what she set out to do and she wouldn’t be staying in London any longer than she had to. She’d probably have them on the first dirigible out tomorrow if she could book passage.
It hurt to breathe. Hurt to think. This is what a broken heart feels like.
Cat gathered up the girls once they all got their coats, and led them outside. They stuffed everyone into the carriage and then she and Jasper climbed up to sit on the bench with the driver. Cat gave the driver the address of the boardinghouse where the girls lived.
It was a cool night, so Jasper took off his tailcoat and put it around Cat’s shoulders. They didn’t speak, but they held hands for the short drive. When they stopped in front of a respectable-looking redbrick house, he turned to her.
“Are you staying here with Sparrow?”
She nodded. “I’ll get her packed up and then go back to the hotel tomorrow. We’ll probably fly out tomorrow night or the next day.”
She seemed to be looking for something in his face, but he didn’t know what. He nodded. “So, this is goodbye, then.”
“Yeah, I guess so.”
He lowered his head and kissed her forehead. “Goodbye, Cat.”
She removed his coat and handed it to him. “Goodbye, Jasper.”
He watched her hop down from the carriage and walk with the girls up to the door of the house, the skirts of her pretty gown swaying with every step. One of the girls opened the door and they all filed in. Only Sparrow stopped at the threshold and turned to wave at him. Jasper waved back. Her sister, however, didn’t even look. She just closed the door, and was gone.
Chapter Six
“I’m not leaving.”
Cat wasn’t surprised to hear these words tumble out of her sister’s mouth. What did surprise her was her own disinterest. Of course she cared what happened to Sparrow—she’d chased the girl across the Atlantic to make certain she wasn’t being harmed in some way, or taken advantage of—but she wasn’t worried about it.
“I like it here, Cat. I have friends—real friends, who don’t think I’m odd because I can make myself stay in the air for longer than most. They like me. I like them. I like Mrs. Rhodes. She’s like a mother to us. I like Mr. Anders, who owns the circus. It’s like a family—sort of like Five Points, but without all the fighting and blood.”
If ever she needed a reason not to force her sister back to New York, that was it. Five Points might be on its way out, but the people would go elsewhere in the surrounding area. There would always be poor people, gangs and hate. The same could be said for any city, but London was a fresh start for Sparrow, and it was obviously a place where she felt wanted and safe, despite having been attacked by Lord Blackhurst.
“This is really where you want to be?”
The girl nodded. “I never planned to stay with Lord Canton. I just wanted to see London, you know?”
No, she really didn’t. She didn’t understand being romantic with someone you didn’t love, but then, she’d had the advantage of seeing her parents’ relationship. Sparrow had been younger still when their father died, and she’d grown up fast. When she talked about her friends at the circus—which she had been doing for the past hour—her face lit up and her eyes brightened. She looked like a fifteen-year-old girl, not an old woman in a young body.
“If you’re certain this is what you want, then all right.”
Her sister grabbed her hands. They were sitting on Sparrow’s neat little bed at Mrs. Rhodes’s boardinghouse. The room was prettily done in creams and blues, perfect for a young lady. “Really? You mean it?”
Cat cocked her head to one side. “Do I ever say anything I don’t mean?”
The girl snorted. “You said goodbye to Jasper Renn. Seriously, Cat, I think there’s something wrong with you.”
“Excuse me? You did not just say that to me.”
Sparrow obviously wasn’t worried about her sister’s temper. She laughed. “He’s gorgeous! And, as the girls say, he’s absolutely mad for you. You’re mad for him. It’s simple.”