Perhaps her sister’s gentle condition was rendering her more easily confused.
“As I said,” Octavia confirmed yet again. “You did not mishear me.”
“Octavia!” Mirabel pressed a hand to her heart. “I know you have always possessed a wild streak, but Jasper Sutton? I would never have imagined… You must tell me everything. I have to know the damage that has been done before I can settle upon a solution, however dire.”
There was only one solution, as far as Octavia was concerned. “Nothing is dire, sister. I initially went to The Sinner’s Palace in the hope that Mr. Sutton would be willing to allow me to interview his servants, perhaps even pay them to give me information about the lords who go there to gamble and drink.”
Jasper Sutton had, of course, refused.
And kissed her.
No need to mention that part of the story.
“Why would you think a man like Jasper Sutton would be amenable to such a plot?” Mirabel asked.
“Foolishness?” she suggested.
Also, she had seen a caricature of him. And the scandalous broadside—well, she could not deny it had left her intrigued. She had used her sister’s distractions and trusting nature, along with her loose familial connection to Sutton, to gain her entrée on the first occasion.
“I trust he told you he would not c
ountenance something so nonsensical, Octavia. A gaming hell such as The Sinner’s Palace is dependent upon the trust of the lords and wealthy men who frequent it. If loyalty is not assured, they will simply move on to the next hell.”
Sutton had told her as much, though in bolder fashion.
And then his mouth had claimed hers for the first time.
She struck the thought of that deliciously wicked encounter from her mind.
“He did,” Octavia allowed.
“Which is why I returned.”
Her sister made a strangled sound of disapproval.
Octavia bit her lower lip, and unless it was her fanciful imagination at work, the lingering trace of Jasper Sutton’s kiss was yet there. “I am determined. You know that about me, Mirabel. I thought that if I persisted, he would change his mind.”
“I trust he has not?”
“Well, after the second time he denied me, I came upon a new course of action,” she admitted, still proud of herself for being insightful enough to understand the manner of man Jasper Sutton was. “I decided that he needed an alluring reason to aid me.”
Mirabel gasped. “Octavia Elizabeth Alexander. What have you done?”
Well, aside from allowing Jasper Sutton to put his tongue in her mouth and his hand on her breast, precious little.
But no need to say that, either.
Octavia summoned a bright smile. “I asked Sutton to become a partner in my business.”
“Your business? Have I missed something?”
“No, of course you have not. The business has yet to be opened. I was looking to Mr. Sutton for some assistance with that matter, which is why I sought him out this evening.”
“Good sweet heavens.”