i 57c498df09d8d058

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fingers as he turned it over. Nothing was engraved on the back.

    ‘‘No more clues,’’ she said with a sigh.

    ‘‘This alone may be enough. Would you mind if I keep it a while?’’

    ‘‘Of course not. But how can it help you find my father?’’

    He slipped it into his pocket. ‘‘He died in 1792, sometime in the months after you were conceived but before you were born—that much we know. We weren’t at war then. Louis the Sixteenth had yet to be tried and executed, and Napoleon didn’t come to power until ’ninety-nine. There shouldn’t have been many deaths that year; the Tenth would have been at home; in peacetime, there are few casualties. I’ll go to regimental headquarters and ask to see the records.’’

    It would take two days to get there, a day to search the records, and another two days to ride home. Five days during which Corinna wouldn’t meet any suitable men. But much as he wanted his sister married and off his hands, he didn’t mind.

    Rachael’s happiness was important, too.

    Although another woman might have made a token protest, Rachael wasn’t that sort. ‘‘Thank you,’’ she said instead, two simple, grateful words. ‘‘Do you expect you can find something that could tell us who he was?’’

    He shrugged, not wanting to get her hopes up. ‘‘I can try. I’ll bring you back to London now, and I’d like to take Corinna to Lady Partridge’s ball tomorrow night. I’ll leave for regimental headquarters first thing Sunday morning and hopefully have an answer for you by Thursday.’’

    ‘‘An officer,’’ she breathed. ‘‘Someone important.’’

    A bark of a laugh burst out of him. ‘‘It doesn’t take importance to buy a commission. Only money.’’

    Her eyes shone. ‘‘You were important. You led campaigns in the Peninsular War. Your patrol brought news of the Prussian retreat at Wavre, thus influencing the Duke of Wellington to fight at Waterloo.’’

    ‘‘How do you know all that?’’

    ‘‘Your sisters. They’re proud of you. You’d have been at Waterloo had your brother not died.’’

    ‘‘Well, he did,’’ he said flatly, keeping the bitterness out of his voice.

    He’d never wanted to be a marquess. And he’d felt damned ineffective since becoming one. But here, now, was a chance to use his military connections to advantage. To help someone.

    To help Rachael.

    And that thought made him entirely too pleased.

     

Chapter Eight

    ‘‘You’re not going to stay up ’til all hours, are you?’’

    In a creative haze, Corinna turned from her easel and blinked at her brother in the drawing room’s doorway. It was close to midnight, and she hadn’t realized he’d returned home. ‘‘I’m starting a new painting.’’

    ‘‘You didn’t answer my question. I’ve had a long day, and I’m off to bed. Will you also be retiring soon?’’

    ‘‘I don’t know.’’ Irritated, she set down her palette. ‘‘It depends upon how this goes.’’

    Griffin walked closer. ‘‘Doesn’t look like much.’’

    ‘‘Yet.’’ All she’d done was layer the pale gray ground that she used as the undertint for her paintings, with a rough white oval in the upper middle.

    ‘‘What is it going to be?’’

    ‘‘I’m not sure,’’ she hedged.

    But she knew what she wanted it to be: a portrait. That was why she’d laid the white oval where she planned to paint the face. Flesh tones would appear brighter over white than gray, and she wanted the face to be luminous.

    And she wanted it to be a good portrait. That was why she’d sketched the Elgin Marbles.

    ‘‘I want you to get a good night’s sleep,’’ Griffin pressed. ‘‘I’ve several men I want you to meet at Lady Partridge’s ball tomorrow evening.’’

    Not that again. Your turn will come next, she rememberedJuliana saying. All she wanted was to concentrate on her art, but everyone wanted to marry her off.

    Her creative haze had dissipated, like

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