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May, 1802


Prologue


The sex was great.

But that was about all the University of Oxford offered Damon Andrew Phillip deWolfe, the sixth Marquess of Morninghall, fourth Earl of deWolfe, and heir to one of the richest estates in England.

He'd mastered both Greek and Latin before he'd seen his tenth summer; he yawned through Aristophanes, Euripides, and even Thucydides, whose supposedly difficult works on the Peloponnesian War offered him no stimulus or challenge; he knew more than his Oxford dons, despised his rooms in Peckwater Quadrangle, and made no secret of the fact that he was bored out of his brilliant young mind.

For Lord Morninghall was only fifteen years old and, in the several months he'd been here, had found nothing at Oxford's ancient Christ Church College to interest him.

Except the dean's pretty, young niece.

Three years his senior, she lay beside him in the darkness, golden hair tangled in a pillow of grass and skirts sliding up her legs with no small degree of help from young Morninghall's eager hand. She was oblivious to the magnificence of the Great Quadrangle which surrounded them, the brilliance of Wolsey and the architecture of Wren, oblivious to the perfume of the night air, the echoing vastness of the courtyard, and the music the fountain made as it bubbled and splashed beneath the quiet stars. And now Great Tom, that noble old bell in the imposing central tower, began tolling out the curfew, 101 solemn strokes ringing through the night.

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