He turned back to her, pinning her with a glare. “Hold your tongue, Lady Octavia.”
She winked, the outrageous baggage. “Force me to if you dare.”
Challenge accepted, milady.
He would have great fun with her tongue. Later. Not with his children as an audience. Kisses could wait. Anne and Elizabeth needed to get to bed.
“I would never dare force a lady to do anything she did not wish,” he told her smoothly instead, ever aware of their audience.
He even gave her his most pleasant smile.
Which was probably a grimace.
Satan’s teeth, he needed some drops of jackey.
Lady Octavia’s honey-brown eyes were on his. Her lips were smiling. Full. Delicious. Perfectly pink. The number of times he had taken himself in hand while imagining those lips wrapped around his cock was appalling.
But he would not think about that now.
“How…gentlemanly of you, Mr. Sutton,” the minx dared.
If she knew him—truly knew him—she would not dare such taunts. Strangely, the notion of correcting her assumptions about him held little appeal at the moment.
“Do you ‘ave a dog and a cat?” Anne asked, skirting round Jasper to peer inquisitively at Lady Octavia.
“Your cat ain’t going to like my dog,” Elizabeth told Anne. “It must be one or the other.”
He stabbed at his suddenly throbbing temples with his forefingers. “Curse it, girls. You ain’t going to be having cats and dogs. I’ve already dogs aplenty.”
Anne’s nose wrinkled. “Barnaby snores.”
“Drunkard slobbers,” Elizabeth added.
Lady Octavia’s dark, winged brows arched. “You have a dog named Drunkard?”
He released his aching head and planted his hands on his hips. “He was named after the tosspot who abandoned him. Do you object, milady?”
“Arsehole likes to bite,” Anne declared before her ladyship could answer.
Well, hell. Not that he gave a damn what Lady Octavia thought of him, but even Jasper Sutton knew it was not done to allow his children to curse. It was true that Motley, yet a young pup, liked to nip with his sharp little teeth. Some of the guards at The Sinner’s Palace had taken to referring to him as Arsehole instead of his proper name. Apparently, Elizabeth and Anne had overheard. He was going to have to put the fear of eternal damnation into Randall, Hugh, Bennet, Timothy, and Anthony.
“His name is Motley,” he growled at his daughter. “That other word ain’t for ladies and I’ll not have you repeating it again.”
“We ain’t ladies,” Elizabeth and Anne declared in unison.
He glowered down at the pair of them. He had carried out some despicable deeds in his life. He had thieved and he had beaten men with his fists, had stabbed them with blades. He had even killed. He ruled his family’s gaming hell with the ruthlessness such a position required. But no duty he had ever taken on in his life had been more difficult than being a father to these two hellions.
Lady Octavia drew nearer, tearing Jasper’s gaze from his daughters as she sank to her knees before them, caring little for her fine gown. “Of course you are ladies,” she said. “It is plain to see. What are your names, if you please?”
“I am called Anne Bellington,” Anne said gravely.