Mine, All Mine

By: Ella J. Quince

Book 1 of the Fated for Love Series



Chapter 1





London

Tuesday, April 2nd 1816.



“I trust you know why I have sent for you, Redwick?”

Dominic spared him a glance then returned to scrutinizing his finely trimmed nails. “No, Lord Douglas. Would you care to explain?” He pinned Lord Douglas with a freezing stare. Dominic had only been out of the service for three months and yet here he was again, asked to serve his country after a decade of bloodshed and near-death exploits.

“I am aware that you have many pressing matters to attend to as the new Earl of Redwick, but there has been a situation that needs to be investigated with the delicacy and secrecy only you can achieve. It is a matter of treason and it cannot go unnoticed any longer.”

“What is it you expect me to do?”

“I need you to find a missing girl. She is the daughter of the late Duke of Cranston and disappeared when Mr. Hollow, her stepfather, committed treason. He was a simple, wealthy merchant until he began moving cargo of a different nature.” Lord Douglas leaned forward.

“What does the girl have to do with it?” Dominic exhaled in weary acceptance.

“We are not precisely sure, but her sudden disappearance from society, in which she is very well known, is alarming. She either knows the whereabouts of her stepfather… or of the missing jewels.”

“Jewels?” Dominic said derisively. “I am not taking part of any duck hunt for jewelry, Lord Douglas.”

“This is not just any piece of jewelry. This necklace is a priceless gift from the King of Spain himself and a French spy has stolen it. We discovered his body in the Thames, and in his coat pocket we found a note containing precise instructions to steal the necklace and book passage back to France, which led us to Mr. Hollow, who we can only assume now has the necklace. We have lost enough to the French—we will not lose this. It is a symbol of our victory over France and future alliance with Spain. It is your duty, Redwick!” Lord Douglas slammed his fist on his desk for emphasis.

Dominic watched him idly, slightly amused by his patriotic fervor—or was it greed that led this passion for justice? Dominic could no longer tell where loyalty ended and political ambitions began.

“Find the girl and find the necklace. All that we ask is as you go about your usual society affairs you simply drop a question here or there, listen for any talk and such. Someone has to know where the young woman is; she cannot have dropped off the face of the earth. Her options would be limited to matrons and close friends. Someone must know, and you are the best man to find the truth.”

“Do I have any choice in the matter?” Dominic asked sarcastically.

“No.” Lord Douglas glared at him. “You are on orders from the Prince himself. You may go now; here is a packet of information with the details of your mission. Keep me updated with any information.”

Dominic raised an irritated brow as Lord Douglas handed him the packet and then began to shuffle through papers, completely dismissing his presence. He left the office with no further comment and returned to the bustling street outside. Forgoing his carriage, he signaled his driver to return home, deciding to walk the few blocks to his London townhouse. Walking seemed to clear his head, giving him room to think about how to find a missing debutante as soon as possible. He had a life to get back to—not a terribly exciting life, but it did not include murder and secrets, and that suited him just fine. He would start with Debrett’s Peerage. A duke’s daughter of marriageable age could not just disappear. She was most likely as incapable of caring for herself as a newborn foal. She would need the refuge of an appropriate family member with the means to house her, perhaps on the fringe or outside ton circles. Debrett’s would tell him how extensive the Cranston family was and where a girl could run to hide.

If she was hiding. The stench of treason would annihilate any and all contact with polite society. He could exclude her friends from his lists of possibilities; no one would be allowed to socialize with her from now on. And about the mother—how did her family accept her marrying a mere merchant? Dominic frowned in thought. The situation was puzzling.

He reached home and retired to his study. He opened the packet and pulled out several sheets of paper. A brief accounting of the Duke of Cranston and his death, the heir and his present location, the courtship and remarriage of the duchess to one Mr. Hollow.

It appeared Mr. Hollow had quite a lucrative shipping business. Dominic doubted it was an honest business, by the looks of the notes on the page he held before him.

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