The Wild Adventure of Jasper Renn
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“You brought her back here with you.”
“Yes, but not to my house.” She must have had some reaction to his statement because he began stammering to correct it. “I mean, I put Sparrow up in her own house, with her own servants. I gave her everything she could want, but she disappeared. I thought she robbed—er, went back to New York.”
So Sparrow was in the wind. She believed the viscount because his fear of her was genuine. Also, there was only the slightest trace of her sister’s scent left in the house.
“She doesn’t care about material things,” she informed Berkley. “And I wager she didn’t take a thing with her that you hadn’t given her outright. She loved you, you know. She thought you loved her.”
“I did. I do!”
Cat stood up. “Not enough to marry her, though.”
“Marry her?” He looked aghast as he pushed himself into a sitting position on the stairs. “I couldn’t marry her. I have to marry a woman of my station—it’s what’s expected of me.”
She stared at him. How could she have thought people were different here?
“My little sister is out there alone in a big city because you’re an arse. You’d better hope I find her safe and healthy, because if I don’t, I’ll be coming back for a little chat.”
Berkley turned even paler. God, he was practically a ghost. Cat sneered at him before hopping on the banister and riding it down to the floor. She jumped off with her usual grace and strode toward the door. The butler actually held it open for her. She mocked him with a flourish of a bow before stepping out into the evening.
Where the devil had her sister gone, and how was she ever going to find her when she was unfamiliar with the land? She was an excellent tracker, but this was going to be like trying to find a particular piece of hay in an entire stack. She knew absolutely nothing about this city or the people who lived in it. But she knew someone who did. Jasper Renn, who she’d sworn never to speak to again.
Jasper Renn was soaked in so much sweat his clothes clung to him like a second skin. He’d used his talent for moving incredibly fast to run around England—literally—and had returned to King House only seconds earlier. His body mercifully tired, he hauled himself upstairs to his room, shut the door and began undressing as he walked into the small, attached private bathing chamber.
He turned the taps in the tub until the water gushing from them was the right temperature, and then threw the lever that forced the stream to come out the shower attachment. Naked, he climbed in, letting the hot water rinse away the sweat and stink and uselessness he felt.
Miss Emily, darling of a girl, was lost. Taken. He’d just searched the entire country for a clue to her whereabouts and found nothing. Nothing. She couldn’t have dropped off the face of the earth, which just left the uncomfortable realization that he’d missed something.
But then, missing something seemed to be a talent of his, as well. He had missed that Mei, the girl he once loved with all his heart, was not who he thought she was. And he’d missed the fact that she loved someone else. In the end, he’d missed being able to save her, as well.
He didn’t blame Griffin for her death, not really. Griffin hadn’t known that his abilities would trap Mei in a wall, crushing her. Mostly Jasper blamed himself for not being able to stop her before she died. He blamed himself that she had fallen in with Reno Dalton. He blamed himself for a lot of things. He had more regrets than a man of eighteen should be carrying on his shoulders.
He couldn’t save Mei. Couldn’t find Emmy. And he couldn’t forget Cat. When he’d first gotten involved with Wildcat a couple years ago, he’d still been half in love with Mei. He’d told himself Cat was only having fun—like he was. When it came to lying to himself, he was plumb brilliant. The second time—he’d stopped by New York on his way back from San Fran a little while ago—he’d known it wasn’t just meaningless fun for either of them, but he’d still left. In fact, he couldn’t have run away fast enough. The joke was on him, though. He’d run away and thoughts of her followed him. Haunted him.
If Jasper regretted Mei, then he...well, he couldn’t think of an adequate word to describe the depth of his remorse where Cat was concerned, but it was deep. The bottomless kind. It had to be, because he couldn’t stop thinking about her. She was fine, of course. That girl would always come out on top. He could write to her, but what would he say? That he was sorry, but he just couldn’t get involved with another girl who lived on the wrong side of the law? It made him sound like a pansy. And New York held too many painful memories for him to ever entertain living there. Besides, if Dalton ever got out of jail, he might come looking for revenge, and London would be a lot more difficult for him to get to, especially since Griffin had connections with the local port authorities.
No, London was where his life was now. Where his friends were. Where he wanted to be, even though it was sometimes painful to look Griffin in the eye, still ashamed of involving his friends in that mess. They had traveled all the way to Manhattan—at great expense—to bring him home, and learned all about his shady past in the process. Finley had even infiltrated Dalton’s gang and risked her own life to save him.
How could he ever begin to repay that kind of debt?
Tarnation, but he was tired of thinking about this stuff. Finally feeling clean, he turned the taps and dried off with a soft towel, which he then secured around his waist. He just wanted to go to sleep and wake up someone different.