The First Chapter

Essex, England

Sinclair Manor, 1798

He was in the drawing room looking out the window watching his younger brothers and two sisters playing in the garden. He watched them with a smile until he saw a strong, masculine hand with an emerald signet ring reach in front of him and shut the window and he turned around promptly.

"Father." He greeted with the manners that he'd been instilled with since he could walk.

"Derrick." His father nodded in acknowledgement.

"You asked me to wait here, yes?" He asked.

"I wish to introduce you to the Lord of this manor." His father replied and he nodded.

Many people had told him that he would grow up to be as handsome as his father and an even better ruler than is father… It was his duty as heir to the Knight family to be an even better ruler than his father.

"Of course, father."

"Come then, Derrick." His father said.

"Yes, father." He followed his father out of the drawing room.

They walked in silence and soon, a man with thick blonde hair, lightly tan skin and grey eyes, met them on the way. Duke Ronan Sforza Cleo Aeoleos Sinclair, the Lord of the Edgewood Manor. Many women had tried to seduce him however he only had eyes for his wife.

"Ah, Robert, my dear friend!" Duke Ronan exclaimed happily.

"Ronan!" His father smiled.

"It is so good to see you after so long! I am glad you and your family could make it today." Duke Ronan said.

"Of course." His father laughed before looking at him, "This is the heir to the Clybourne estate, my son, Derrick Adam Draco Luard Knight." His father said and he gave the Lord of Edgewood a curt bow, bending exactly at the waist.

"It is a pleasure to meet you, Lord Edgewood. I am honoured that to have received an invitation from you to attend your new daughter's christening." He said politely, just like he was taught to and the Duke smiled.

"Impeccable manners. Your father has either taught you too well or too seriously." The Duke laughed and he looked up at him in awe.

He'd never met a man like the Duke before. A man who dared to tease his father in such a way.

"Ronan." His father reminded and the Duke managed to contain his laughter.

"Have you told him the good news yet?" Ronan asked and there was a noticeable twinkle in his blue grey eyes.

"No, it was your idea so I think that you should be the one to tell him." His father replied.

"But you gave me the idea!" Ronan said.

"You deserve more of the credit so you do it." His father said and Ronan nodded, giving in to his father's infamous stubbornness.

"You know that a part of my property overlaps with your father's, I assume." Ronan began.

"Yes, about five miles worth of land near the edge of your property overlaps with our smaller land." He said and Ronan smiled.

"Intelligent boy. Yes. Well, your father and I have come to a novel agreement on that part of land."

He looked up upon hearing the curious piece of news. "And?"

"Come with me, I'd like to introduce you to my new daughter." Ronan said and he stared at the Duke of Edgewood oddly, but said nothing of it.

They followed the Duke to a room where Duchess Amelia was seated beside the cot with three girls and three boys surrounding a wooden, hand carved cot and all making cooing noises.

"She is absolutely adorable, mother!" The youngest looking one gushed.

"Yes, she is Anne." Duchess Amelia with a gentle smile.

"Oh, father!" The children smiled, starting out loud then remembering the baby and then their words became hushed and began quietly hitting each other at having nearly startled the baby and Duchess Amelia laughed softly.

"How is the little one doing?" Ronan asked.

"Well, all her siblings have been staring at her since morning and making cooing noises, but I do believe the little one is quite happy with the loving attention from her older siblings." Amelia deduced with a smile.

"Wonderful." Ronan said, "Children, this is the Duke of Clybourne, my old friend Robert and his heir, Derrick." Ronan smiled and the females curtsied while the males bowed and he returned their greeting with a bow of his own.

"It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance."

"These are my daughters, Claudia, Anne and Sarah, and my sons, Gideon, Jamieson and Nicholas." Ronan said.

"Ah what wonderful children." His father said and Ronan smiled proudly before walking up to the cot, reaching in and picked up the baby who began crying and hitting him to the head with her toy and his family laughed.

"And this, is my little angel, Angelique Soteria Euphemia Lumiere Sinclair." Ronan smiled gently.

He looked at the baby whose face was red from crying at having been woken up so abruptly and was still hitting the Duke on the head.

"Here, you carry her." Ronan said, thrusting the infant into his arms and his eyes widened in shock.

He had no idea what to do and he could not just hand her back. He peered down at the baby and she stopped crying and opened her eyes, revealing them to be a rare Persian-green, looking up at him and she reached out her hand and reached out for him. She was not too bad on the eyes at all now and he could even say she was pretty now that the red had left her cheeks, turning it pink and she giggled.

"What do you know. It looks like the little angel has taken a shine to you. It must be fate then, a sign." Ronan said.

"A sign? Of what, Your Grace?" He asked, briefly looking up at the Duke before returning his gaze to the little baby.

"Angelique is your future bride-to-be." His father replied and his eyeballs nearly rolled out of their sockets.

"M-My what?" He gaped.

"His what?" The siblings echoed his shock.

"His bride. Robert and I decided on this awhile ago. We have always wanted to bring our families closer together and through Derrick and Angelique's marriage in the future, that long standing wish will be fulfilled." Ronan said, "We are betrothing her to you, so please take good care of my little angel."

"I er, I have to go!" he said, returning the infant to her father and gave them a curt bow and ran off, wanting to get as far away as possible.

His bride to be? Betrothal? She was an infant for goodness sake and he was eleven! That is an eleven year age gap! Good heavens, what are they thinking? He ran past the footmen who gave him questioningly looks and he just continued running and running.

A/N: My first original work to be published! Let me know what you think!