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Translated by Neijude
That day, Rackley was invited to Irina’s tea party and reluctantly participated in a card game.
She didn’t dislike card games, but there were always difficult rules attached to the games led by Irina, which made it hard for Rackley.
The rule was that the winner of the card game would choose someone to perform a penalty.
And in that game, Rackley was chosen no less than ten times.
The young ladies participating in the game chose Rackley maliciously, wanting to see her struggle. When Rackley truly showed her dislike and frowned, they’d laugh it off as a ‘joke’.
“Today’s penalty is to ask Duke Rascalton for the first dance.”
One of the young ladies said as she shuffled the cards.
Kain Rascalton, the Duke.
He was an unmarried high-ranking noble who inherited the title last year after his predecessor suddenly collapsed. At the age of fourteen, he joined the Order of Knights and became the vice-captain of the Black Lion Knights at the age of twenty.
The Black Lion Knights were known as the strongest knights who actively patrolled dangerous border areas and conflict zones. It was a tremendous feat for him to become the vice-captain of such a knight order at a young age.
As such a busy man, Duke Rascalton didn’t reside in the capital. He only occasionally visited, so Rackley, who attended a ball once in a while, had never seen him.
Moreover, the current Duke Rascalton hadn’t set foot in the capital for three years before inheriting the title. He even concluded the succession by receiving documents at the border.
Recently, Duke Rascalton was also famous for something else in high society.
“Did the Duke return to the capital?”
“No, he’s now at Courtiel, enjoying the famous dancer of Kanlica to his heart’s content.”
“With just his hand again?”
“Oh my, how can you say such things?”
The young lady laughed out loud.
“How unfortunate. Such a man turns out to be impotent.”
The young Duke Rascalton was a charmingly handsome black-haired man who enjoyed himself but sadly couldn’t use ‘the goods.
That rumour had already spread throughout the capital.
To ask such Duke Rascalton for the first dance! It was a penalty to publicly humiliate.
Rackley didn’t want to be involved with him. So, she focused on the card game to win.
During the game, Irina and the young ladies subtly laughed and mentioned another young lady who hadn’t come to the gathering. They also mentioned a secret lesson she had never heard of before.
“Ah, it’s only natural she can’t come if it’s the Lady Class.”
They exchanged glances with subtle smiles.
Due to managing the household affairs of the count, Rackley often fell behind the trends as she didn’t have time for social activities. She listened attentively to the unfamiliar term.
“Lady Class? What kind of lesson is that?”
Everyone closed their mouths and looked at Rackley with widened eyes.
“Lady Rackley, you don’t know about the Lady Class?”
Usually, the young ladies would say, “You don’t know that either?” and proudly teach her the latest trends. But today, they asked as if they truly couldn’t believe she didn’t know.
“Oh my, you really haven’t heard of it before.”
“I can’t believe there’s someone who doesn’t know.”
“Aren’t you too complacent as a countess?”
The young ladies occasionally ignored Rackley, subtly implying the difference in their social status. It was the same now.
“The Countess had left for recuperation due to her illness. It’s possible she didn’t know.”
Convinced by Irina’s words, the young ladies nodded their heads.
“If Lady Rackley plans to marry, she should know about this… Not knowing is quite a problem.”
The young ladies burst into laughter in unison. Their tone was subtly teasing Rackley, as usual, but mixed with a secretive nuance.
Whenever this happened, it was difficult for Rackley to get along with the mischievous young ladies. But since she could gain a lot of information, Rackley forced a smile and looked at Irina for help.
“It’s a bridal class.”
Irina’s eyes narrowed, and she smirked.
“A secret bridal class taught by a gigolo.”
Upon hearing that word, Rackley’s cheeks flushed.
Rackley was familiar with the term gigolo.
Following Irina’s explanation, other young ladies chimed in.
“They tell us ladies to marry with a pure body, but men don’t do the same.”
“Before marriage, they meet many women, and after marriage, they have mistresses and meet courtesans.”
“Naïve wives waiting for their husbands at home cannot beat the well-trained courtesans and mistresses outside, so husbands gradually spend more time outside and stop coming home.”
“Besides an unhappy marriage, the position of the family’s mistress is also threatened.”
Common scandals they had only heard as rumours poured from the young ladies’ mouths.
Adultery was socially condemned, but it was an affair among the nobles. Men having mistresses of different social statuses were regarded as lightly as employing one more servant.
“The mistress’ position is threatened?”
Rackley, who was in charge of the Count’s household, felt the latter was more dangerous than an unhappy marriage.
Irina explained with a mischievous smile.
“A wife who must give birth to the family’s heir has her chances in bed stolen by her husband’s mistress and grows old. Then one day, the husband brings home a child born out of wedlock. If the wife has given birth to a son, it’s bearable, but if she only has daughters and the illegitimate child is a boy, it becomes problematic.”
“But illegitimate children aren’t recognised.”
Even though having a lover was common, illegitimate children were still criticised in society.
“That is when a legitimate heir already exists, and an illegitimate child is revealed. If there is no heir, many would adopt a distant relative’s child into the family. Then, if the husband brings a concubine into the house, using the child as an excuse, the wife is pushed aside.”
Rackley did not yet know about Edward’s existence.
“In order to be recognised by the family and secure her position as a wife, a woman must give birth to an heir. However, if her husband only looks outside, she loses even the opportunity to create an heir.”
There were cases where the appearance of a late illegitimate child caused problems in the succession. It was not just in cheap novels that stories of wives spending lonely nights due to extramarital affairs existed.
“That is why they secretly take lessons before getting married.”
“In order to capture their husband’s heart on the first night, they invite a skilled instructor for special lessons before marriage. It is called the ‘Lady Class’.”
Rackley could not hide her surprised expression.
Seeing her expression, the young ladies burst into laughter. They continued to speak as if singing.
“It is a lesson to learn skills to please your husband, so he does not turn his eyes to other women.”
“Even if your husband does not provide pleasure, you learn ways to satisfy yourself.”
“Using your own body.”
Rackley was not so naïve as to not understand their words.
However, she had thought that she would continue the line of the Count and bring in a second or third son from another family as a son-in-law. Thus, she had not seriously considered this issue.
“But, on the first night, you must prove your purity. The sheets must be stained with virgin blood, but if you take those lessons, then…”
“Oh, Rackley. Did your mother not tell you?”
“So, when getting married, a close maid attends to the bride in the morning after the first night. She discreetly injures the bride in a hidden spot to stain the sheets with blood or even applies animal blood.”
Rackley had not even considered that aspect.
The young ladies became engrossed in their conversation.
“If that trick is discovered, it becomes awkward. Some men, if they dislike their wife’s face too much, may falsely claim she is not a virgin and demand compensation from the family.”
“How can one verify whether a woman is a virgin or not? They say it is determined by the presence of a certain blood, but even that can be incorrect at times.”
“Since they cannot prove a woman’s virginity, they end up paying compensation out of embarrassment.”
“There is a way to protect one’s virginity while taking lessons, though.”
The young ladies began to boast about which skilled instructor they had received lessons from.
Irina whispered into Rackley’s ear. Though she whispered, the other young ladies in their company could hear as well.
“If you need it, let me know. I can introduce you to a discreet and reliable ‘teacher’.”
“No, no, I am fine.”
“Of course, you are a prudent Count’s young lady.”
The young ladies laughed heartily.
Looking elsewhere to cool her heated face, Rackley’s gaze met with Abigail Ford. She was the daughter of Viscount Ford and had previously approached Rackley to offer her advice.
‘Do not get close to Irina Solomon and her group.’
Irina disliked Abigail for being a poor noble, and thus Rackley, who was close to Irina, was in a different faction. Rackley thought Abigail’s words were due to her disliking Irina’s group.
‘Rackley, it is your turn.’
The card game continued, but Rackley eventually lost.
Recalling the stories she had heard from the young ladies, Rackley looked at the man in front of her.
A man who sold his body, charm, and talent.
Servants would meet with those of other households in shops or dressing rooms. They knew the gossip about which noble lady brought a gigolo into her home or was caught having fun with him by her husband under the pretext of being ill.
Rackley had once overheard a conversation about a gigolo while passing through the corridor.
Seeing the man before her, she immediately understood what Irina’s ‘gift’ was.
‘I’ve sent a surprising gift to the manor for you. Learn well and return.’
‘Irina’s gift? This man?’
It was clear that the man in front of her had been prepared for that lesson.
As if reading Rackley’s mind, the man moved away from the window and approached her.
Although there were more than ten paces between them, it felt as if he had come much closer with just one step.
The strong curve of his chest visible between the open white shirt, his intense gaze, and his black hair flowing forward, everything about him was wild.
His eyes were fierce, as if he would immediately pounce on Rackley, pin her against the wall, and leave a mark on her neck.
Like a wild beast.
A burning heat started between her legs and quickly spread throughout her body. As if ink had been dropped into water and spread, an intense sensation flowed in after the heat.
A signal was sent from a place that had only ever been expelled, never having anything else enter.
Rackley grabbed the hem of her dress that had slid down along her body line and pressed her chest with one hand while exhaling a laboured breath. Her head felt hazy, and her body felt strange. Even the slightest brush from the fabric caused her sensitive skin to feel ticklish.
She vaguely thought that perhaps squeezing her breast and shaking it might provide some relief.
However, there was a more urgent matter at hand.
Tension repeatedly built up in her private area, causing her to flinch and tense. Though she had no intention, as her body responded, Rackley’s thoughts flowed in a lewd direction.
The man was watching her closely.
His heated gaze licked her chest, which rose with each breath, then travelled down to her stomach and the slightly visible hollow triangle. As the ice melted, the thin muslin dress clung to her body, revealing her curves.
Rackley did not have the energy to examine her attire.
An uncontrollable desire, as if a dam had burst, dominated her mind, making her unable to look away from the man.
She did not know what expression she wore as she looked at him.
He began to move.
His eyes shone in the darkness as he approached her step by step. He was like a predator. His movements had the grace of a top-tier animal.
Despite being a hired servant, he showed no hesitation. His hand delved into Rackley’s hair, caressing her cheek, and letting her hair drape over her chest, making it impossible for her to resist.
The back of his hand brushed her chest for a brief moment. Rackley felt a thrilling shiver and inadvertently took a deep breath.
“Not bad at all,” he said.
His thumb gently pressed and parted Rackley’s plump lips.
A brief touch.
Though the man had touched her without permission, only one thought crossed Rackley’s mind:
Something she must protect.
“You must not put it in.”
Good heavens, what had she just said?
The decision was already out of her hands.
Rackley often considered Irina and the other young ladies as some of her few friends, knowing she would oblige them. However, she was initially smart and assertive enough to manage a count’s mansion. She was not someone who would simply obey others and not know how to resist.
Yet, she did not think of refusing this man.
She had no intention of escaping the situation.
A discarded wife, an heir brought from outside, and even a mistress – none of it was someone else’s business.
It all happened within Rackley’s family. It had already affected her life, and once married, it would be her problem too.
The Lady Class was also a way to solve any potential future problems.
He looked at Rackley gently, as if asking what she meant.
Licking her dry lips, Rackley conveyed her intention more clearly.
“Y-You must not put it in.”
“Whilst being here?”
It sounded as if she meant that she had come all the way to the villa to receive lessons.
Rackley avoided his gaze.
“For my husband…”
“Are you married?”
“No, it is not that. I must marry, and I want to protect my wedding night.”
She shook her head lightly, and her wavy red hair elegantly swayed on her pale chest.
The man paused for a moment before asking incredulously,
“Are you a virgin?”
Rackley’s face turned beet red.
Was it not obvious that she was a virgin if she had not married?
It felt as if he was probing why she was still a virgin. Her already flushed face grew even hotter.
“I heard that there are many ways even without putting it in.”
“You came all the way to this villa just to tell me not to put it in?”
Was it because the lessons varied depending on the gigolo? She was sure that there were ways to receive lessons without it being put in, but he asked outright.
Embarrassed and ashamed, she felt a tingling sensation on her nape.
Rackley bit her lip. Now that a successor named Edward had been born in the Count’s family, she needed to marry and become part of another family.
She did not know how Rowena, her stepmother, would fare, but the Count was not someone who would care for or support her once married.
The only person who could protect her was herself.
Now, she thought that the only way to protect herself was to bear a successor and receive her husband’s love. To do that, she needed to take lessons.
‘They said that you can fake the virgin blood on the wedding night.’
Should she change her mind and allow him to put it in?
Her breathing quickened, and her thoughts grew bolder as her head was consumed with heat.
As she hesitated, overwhelmed by the sinful sensation of breaking a taboo, the man spoke first.
“Alright, I will protect your virginity.”
He roughly grabbed the back of her head and devoured her lips.
A stranger’s body heat and warmth pressed against her lips, pushing, and entering the untouched area.
It was her first kiss.