“The three of us? Just the three of us, or will you be living there as well?” she questioned him.
“Of course I will be there whenever I am able. I’ll be needing to adjust roles with Rafe, Hart, and Wolf. They will take on the bulk of the evening responsibilities, and I’ll attend to the morning and afternoon duties here at The Sinner’s Palace.”
The smooth speed of his response was every bit as troubling as all the other facets of his sudden appearance and announcement. She did not trust the reason for the abrupt shift.
“What has happened?” she asked again. “To cause this sudden change, Jasper? Just this morning, you said nary a word.”
His shoulders stiffened again, all the confirmation she required that something was wrong. Only, he refused to elaborate on what.
“I want what is best for my wife and daughters,” he said, pinning a small smile to his sensual lips. “Can a man not want what is best for his family?”
“Will we share a chamber at the new ‘ome?” Elizabeth asked, interrupting the flow of questions and reassurances.
“You needn’t,” Jasper said, looking down to give his daughter a fond glance. “Unless you and Anne wish it?”
“We do!” both the girls exclaimed simultaneously.
“I would be terribly lonely without Elizabeth,” Anne added, giving her sister an impromptu embrace.
The two girls held each other tightly, and Octavia’s heart gave a pang. “Then that is what you shall have,” she found herself promising them.
They were so close, truly the best of friends, and it was wonderful to see how much the twins cared for each other. Octavia suspected it was not just because of their need to protect each other before coming to live with Jasper, but also because of the unique bond of twins.
“Of course you shall,” Jasper echoed. “Nothing will change except the three of you will be safer.”
The word struck a chill in her heart, chasing the warmth that had flared to life at Anne and Elizabeth’s sisterly love for each other. She was not wrong, then. Something was amiss. And that something was the reason for his sudden leasing of a home and declaration they were to live there.
“May I bring Cora?” Elizabeth asked politely, referring to the small doll Jasper had recently gifted her.
“And may I bring Hannah?” asked Anne, speaking of hers.
“Of course you must bring them as well,” Jasper said agreeably, as if he had not just announced such a massive change of paths for them all. “Go and fetch them now. I saw them in the parlor. Only the parlor, girls, nowhere else.”
His stern reminder was likely lost as his daughters raced from the room in a whirl of pattering feet and petticoats. Octavia waited until the girls were out of earshot before turning back to her husband.
“Will you tell me now?” she asked.
He sighed, looking suddenly weary. “I’ve been made aware of a possible threat to you.”
Her earlier irritation with him vanished.
His words sent an icy tendril of dread snaking through her. “A threat to me?”
His jaw clenched, and he ran his fingers through his coal-black hair in a gesture she had come to recognize all too well. “Yes. In truth, I realized that you and the twins do not belong here in the private quarters. You deserve a true ‘ome. But when I learned about the danger to you, I knew I needed to act now. I can’t lose you
In other circumstances, his words would have filled her with warmth. Hope, too. But there was precious little comfort to be found in this moment.
“You do not want to give Anne and Elizabeth cause for worry,” she said, understanding his hesitancy to be truthful when they had been in the chamber.
“I want them to feel protected,” he said, heaving a sigh. “I failed them for the first six years of their lives. I’ll not fail them for the rest. Nor will I fail you.”
If ever there was a champion she would want on her side, Jasper Sutton was it. He was formidable, powerful, loyal. She had no doubt he would do everything in his power to protect both his daughters and herself. Still, she had never known danger before. Her life with her parents had been quite sheltered, as had the time she had spent living with Mirabel as a spinster happily on the shelf.
The closest she had ever come to trouble of any sort was…