Sutton's Spinster (The Sinful Suttons 1) - Page 76

Of course, it was, like most good things, over before it had a chance to truly begin. Now, she was alone, perusing the shelves laden with books that did not belong to her, in search of sufficient distraction. In her earlier shopping excursion, Octavia had not purchased any books for herself. Given the bland subjects of the books already present in the library, it was an omission she should not have made.

With no way of knowing how long Jasper would be gone, she was keen to find a means of distraction. She could only suppose, the length of his absence would depend upon the severity of the problem. The summons he had received from the gaming hell had been vague.

Trouble, was all it had said. Come to The Sinner’s Palace now.

All unsigned, the scrawl of the letters nearly illegible. Palace had been misspelled as Palis, but Jasper had reminded her that whilst his siblings had been educated by tutors at his urging, many of his other men had learned to read and write on their own or later in life as it had become necessary.

Octavia sighed as she moved past another wall of books, the same nagging sense of apprehension blooming in her stomach now as it had when he had first received the note. Initially, because the thought of further trouble at the gaming hell filled her with fear, given that someone had recently set a Sutton property on fire without the perpetrator having been caught. After he had gone, because of the peculiar nature of the note.

The dreadful penmanship.

The misspelling.

Lack of a name.

She sighed and plucked a volume from the shelf without bothering to take note of the title stamped on the handsome leather. Flipping it open, she discovered it was a treatise on geography, of all things. Another sigh. Dreadfully boring topic, in her opinion. If only Miss Wren had not already retired for the evening. Octavia wished for a companion. Someone to distract her from the unsettling sense of worry chasing through her.

The fears, too.

Jasper will be fine, she told herself. He is powerful. Strong. His siblings are as well, and they are protected by so many capable guards. You are merely worrying far too much.

A creak in the floor and the hackles rising on her neck alerted her to the presence of someone else in the chamber just before the cool metallic kiss of a knife blade marked her throat. The book fell to the floor from her numb fingers.

“Don’t move,” growled a voice at her back.

Jasper drove to The Sinner’s Palace in a frenzy, at breakneck speed. The pace was reckless and foolish, and on any other day and in any other situation, he would have been ashamed of himself. But the other half of his family resided within those walls. Their livelihood, and that of his own burgeoning family, was there.

There had already been a fire which had devastated The Sinner’s Palace II. He could not fathom the magnitude of the troubles which had inspired his latest summons, particularly sin

ce he had devoted the day to his family for the first time since marrying Octavia. And hell, he could not bear to think what had gone wrong. All he knew was that they needed him there, and he was coming, damn it. As fast as he could.

Nearly running over everyone and anything in his path.

By the time he reined in and surrendered his phaeton to one of the lads, he was nearly out of his mind with worry. The lad was tight-lipped, his expression stony as usual. Jasper did not engage as he leapt to the street. If he had imagined the calamity to be far worse than it was, no need to stoke fear in the lower ranks of his men.

No smoke was pouring from the roof, thank Christ.

The whole affair appeared to be in the order he had left it yesterday.

He rapped on the private door where he always entered. Hugh answered, looking surprised to see him.

“Sir,” he said. “Didn’t expect you ‘ere at all today.”

“I received a note saying there’s trouble,” he explained, the frantic worry inside him giving way to a new, insidious sensation.

“Trouble?” Hugh frowned, looking perplexed. “Not that I knows.”

Grimly, Jasper stalked past his best guard, into the private labyrinth of halls only he, his family, and most trusted men could traverse. “Where is Rafe?” he called over his shoulder.

“In your office, sir,” Hugh said.

“And Rand?” he asked without pausing his frantic strides. “Anthony? Hart and Wolf?”

“All in their places. Wolf’s in the public rooms.” Hugh was trotting after him, puffing breaths. The man was large—the size of a damned castle wall—and he could not move with haste.

Jasper burst through the door of his office and found Rafe in an embrace with a strumpet. One of the regulars at The Sinner’s Palace, though fortunately not Mary. Thank Christ, for he never wanted to set eyes upon her again, and if he were to discover anyone—blood or not—had allowed her entrée, his wrath would know no end.

Rafe hastily set the woman whose mouth he had been mauling aside and wiped his own lips with the back of his hand. “Jasper, what the devil are you doing?”

Tags: Scarlett Scott The Sinful Suttons Historical
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