The Wild Adventure of Jasper Renn Page 14

“It’s not simple, Row.” God, she wished it was. “He’s a flirt and a charmer. He’d get bored with me after a while.”

“Yeah, because that’s why he keeps coming back to you, because he has no one else to flirt with or bring a little excitement into his life.” She made a rude noise. “Lie to him if you have to, or yourself if you must, but don’t lie to me. It makes us both fools.”

Cat’s jaw slackened. When the hell had her baby sister gotten so smart? “Fine, I like him, but I’m scared that once he gets to know me he’ll leave, just like everyone else.”

“Everyone else?”

“Da left.”

“Da died. There’s a difference.”

“Ma’s been partially gone for years.” Ever since her father’s death, Cat’s mother had been withdrawn and distant. “Rory Sullivan left me to become a fisherman in Canada. Jasper’s already left me twice. You left me.”

“You’re insane. Do you hear yourself? Insane. Good lord, pull your boots up, stop whining and go get your claws into that fella before someone smarter does.”

“I’m still old enough and big enough to beat you.”

Sparrow dismissed the threat with a wave of her hand. “You know I’m right. You’re just a coward, and yellow doesn’t suit you.”

Cat’s mouth dropped open in disbelief. “Thanks, sis. Really. Thanks so much. I feel so much better now. I’ll go back to New York by myself and die a cowardly old woman alone in my bed.”

“I won’t be surprised to see it happen.”

“All right, that’s enough.” Cat’s temper was good and stoked now. “You’ve no right to call me a coward, a girl who couldn’t even tell me what you were planning to do.”

“Because you’d try to stop me.”

“Did it ever occur to you that I might have helped you? Hell, that maybe I would have taken you to London if I’d known you wanted to go.”

“You can’t afford to do that.”

“I’m here, aren’t I? I can afford it. I have more money than you’ll ever know. It’s money for us. For our future. I did some things I’m not proud of to get that money.”

“So, what? Now you go back to New York, where everyone knows who you are, and try to live a fancy life? No one will want to socialize with a Five Points gang leader, Cat. And it will get out. The coppers will still treat you like dirt. Your old connections will still expect favors, and you’ll never get out from under that stink. Or, you could start a new life here. Think about it. No one in London knows Wildcat McGuire. You could just be Cat again. You could be whoever you want.”

The girl should be a politician. “You really believe that?”

Her sister nodded. “I do. You won’t know until you try. What’s the worst thing that could happen if you stay?”

“I could be miserable.”


She looked away. “I don’t like this game.”

“Why would you be miserable, Cat?”

“Because Jasper and I might not work out.”

“At least you would know. At least you would have tried.”

This was ridiculous. “We shouldn’t even be wasting time talking about this.”

“You’re right, because obviously you don’t want to hear the truth. You should have seen the look on his face when you walked away from him tonight.”


Sparrow rolled her eyes—an annoying family trait. “Please go see him. I’d love to have you in London, too, and I just want to see you happy. You’ll never get that if you’re always wondering what might have been.”

“I’m not sure I like that you’re giving me all this sage advice.”

“I learned from the best.”

And that was the heartbreaker, right there. Eyes burning, tears threatening to spill over, Cat wrapped her arms around her sister and squeezed her hard. “I love you, Row.”

“I love you, too.” She sounded as if she might be a little overcome, as well.

Cat pulled back. “All right, wish me luck.”

Her sister’s entire face lit up. “Are you going to see him?”

“You told me to, didn’t you?” She smoothed some of the wrinkles out of her gown as she stood. “And I hear you had an excellent teacher.”

The two of them just smiled at each other. There was really nothing else that needed to be said. Cat hugged her sister and promised to come see her the following day regardless of what happened with Jasper. Then she gathered up her wrap and left the boardinghouse. Fortunately it was a somewhat busy neighborhood, so it wasn’t difficult to hail a hackney. She had a small stash of money pinned to the underside of her skirts for exactly this sort of situation.

“Where to, miss?” the driver asked, peering down at her from under the brim of his hat.

“Mayfair,” she replied, giving him the directions. “And please hurry.”

* * *

They said if you made a wish on a falling star then the wish would come true. Lying on his back on a blanket in the center of the garden maze, Jasper saw a falling star and wished that he could find someone who thought he was worth sticking around for.

Then he realized what a pathetic request that was, and he wished for a sandwich, because he was hungry and tired of feeling sorry for himself.

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