The Girl In The Steel Corset Page 39

’’Are we certain that\s what he wanted to do?’’ Griffin asked. He wasn\ as flabbergasted by the queen\s invitation as the others. ’’Kill her?’’

His aunt nodded. ’’My friend found bits of notes amongst the papers and blueprints in the warehouse all of which are on your desk, by the way that seem to indicate Garibaldi\s plan was to kill the real Victoria and replace her with his metal doppelganger. With his machine in place, he would effectively rule the country, and his revenge for what he considered his monarch\s betrayal would be complete. He had plans to take away the Devonshire mines from Greythorne and make them his own.’’

’’All of this for the Organites,’’ Griffin muttered. ’’So many dead for those strange little creatures.’’ He would have liked to see Garibaldi just try to take his home away.

’’Her Majesty was right to want them kept secret.’’ Finley turned to him. ’’Look what they did to Garibaldi.’’

’’Well, he\s gone now,’’ Sam said, slathering a thick slice of toast with jam. ’’And I say good riddance.’’

Griffin raised his coffee cup. ’’Hear, hear.’’ When everyone went back to talking amongst themselves, he directed his attention at Finley. ’’Would you care to take a walk with me later? I thought we might go to Hyde Park.’’ Where they had first met, though he didn\ say that aloud. He also pretended not to notice that everyone at the table was listening with interest, waiting to hear Finley\s reply.

She smiled. ’’I\d like that. Jasper\s going to teach me more kung fu later, and Emily and I have plans to discuss Da Vinci, but I\m free around two.’’

He grinned. Most girls he knew would cancel those other things to conform to his whim, not tell him to wait. He liked it. ’’Two it is.’’ He then glanced at Jasper, who had become something of a regular fixture around his house as of late. In fact, they hadn\ continued that conversation Jasper began in his study before Finley interrupted.

They were just finishing up breakfast when a knock sounded upon the front door. A few moments later, Mrs. Dodsworth bustled in, four rough-looking men behind her.

’’I told them to wait, Your Grace, but they refused!’’

Griffin calmly rose to his feet. ’’Who are you and what are you doing in my house?’’

One of the men stepped forward and tipped his hat. ’’Morning, Your Grace. Sorry to barge in on you like this, but my associates and I are here to arrest Jasper Renn and take him New York City.’’

A collective gasp of surprise rose from those around the table.

’’What?’’ Griffin scowled at the man. ’’On what charges?’’

’’Murder,’’ the man replied, his gaze darting from Griffin to Jasper and back again. He offered Griffin a folded and tattered piece of brownish paper. ’’We don\ want no trouble.’’

Griffin opened the paper. It was a Wanted poster, and on it was a good likeness of Jasper, along with the promise of a $5000 reward for whoever brought him in. It looked official.

’’America\s laws aren\ law here,’’ he told the man, thrusting the poster into his hand. ’’Please leave.’’

The man hitched up his gun belt. ’’I don\ think you understand. We\ e not leaving without Renn.’’

’’Oh, yes, you are,’’ Finley said, rising to her feet. Sam and Emily stood, as well.

The man laughed and pulled a gun from the holster around his hips. ’’I got six bullets right here that say we\ e taking the boy with us and you\ e gonna let us.’’

Since the night at the warehouse, the Aether came readily to Griffin almost too readily. It didn\ overwhelm him as it had when he was younger, but it always seemed to be there, just waiting for his call. Right now he was going to call it to knock this yokel on his dirty arse.

’’I\ll go.’’

All heads turned. Jasper stood and faced the men with an expression Griffin could only term resigned. It was that expression that told him that this was what Jasper had wanted to talk about. He was in trouble and Griffin had been too caught up in his own affairs to see that.

’’Griff, don\ do anything.’’ Jasper moved toward the Americans, eyeing them with an unflinching gaze. ’’I\ll go willingly, just put the gun away.’’

The man hesitated for a moment, then relented. ’’Get the cuffs on him.’’

Griffin couldn\ allow his friend to be taken from his house like a criminal, but Jasper shot him a look that told him to stay out of it. It was also a look of remorse. Rather than endanger his friends, he was going to allow these ruffians to take him back to America where he\d stand trial if he lived that long for murder.

Griffin swallowed, hard. It was difficult for him not to try to take control of this situation, not to order the men out of his house. Very, very difficult to allow Jasper to make his own decisions. Even the others didn\ want that. Finley was one of the more vocal as they clapped irons around Jasper\s wrists.

’’You can\ let them do this!’’ Finley cried at him.

Griffin looked at her. ’’It\s Jasper\s choice, not ours.’’

Voices rose again, arguing with him, but it was Jasper\s that cut through the cacophony. ’’Stop!’’

They all looked at him.

’’Y\all have been real good to me the best friends I\ve ever had but a man can outrun his past only for so long before he\s got to pay for his sins.’’ His gaze locked with Griffin\s. ’’Thank you...for everything. Goodbye.’’ The last was addressed to all of them, though the cowboy\s gaze lingered just an extra half second on Emily, who had tears in her big eyes. Finley, too. Even Cordelia looked saddened.

Griff inclined his head. ’’Goodbye, Jas.’’

They stood in silence as the men led Jasper out of the room, sandwiched between the four of them. It wasn\ until they heard the door shut that everyone turned on him, demanded to know why he hadn\ done something, and what were they going to do now? They couldn\ just let Jasper hang.

’’No, we can\ ,’’ Griffin agreed, silencing them. They gaped at him like fish in a bowl. ’’And we\ e not going to.’’ Lifting his coffee cup, he drained the rest of it, set it down and then began to walk across the room.

’’Where are you going?’’ Sam demanded. Even Sam didn\ want to see Jasper go. That was a pleasant surprise.

’’To pack,’’ Griffin replied. He flashed a grin at Finley, who was staring at him as though he were mad. ’’How do you feel about taking that walk in New York City?’’

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