Olivier’s plans for a peaceful evening were soon disrupted. Before the servant could announce the arrival of his guests, a group of aristocratic young men burst into the living room.
Olivier frowned as he stretched out on the sofa, reading a book. As always, the servant dropped his head in disbelief and quickly returned to his seat.
“Olivier Dampierre, you’ve done it again, Charlotte Garelle.”
Throwing down the book he had stopped reading, Olivier sat up. The Count of Monceau, whose moustache had been pointed from an early age, smirked and pulled him into a forceful embrace.
“Our little snitch, all rumour and no substance.”
His face was gaunt, and he was carrying a bottle of wine, so he must have come in from somewhere else.
Armand, Jacques Belfre, and the others followed, their faces sticky with debauchery.
The men kept coming in, tail between their legs, reeking of liquor, while Monceau grabbed them by the scruff of the neck and shook them hard.
“Baroness Estelle Godreche, Baroness Julie Armand…”
It seemed that he had even brought his girlfriends with him. Olivier wiped her face and let out a sigh.
“Ah, fuck off. Let’s get some rest.”
“What about Charlotte? I was wondering what would happen this time, but you didn’t even go to the theatre?”
“Otherwise, were you planning on eating and drinking together at someone else’s house?”
Monceau stroked his moustache and smirked. Even Olivier burst into a fake laughter. Anyway, his friends were pathetic no matter how you looked at them. They were so rich that money rotted them, guilty and screwed up bastards with a loose screw…
“Ah, gentlemen, ladies, you have come.”
Quickly stepping out, Henri bowed politely to Olivier’s friends.
Monceau put his hand on Henri’s arm as if waiting for him.
“Henri, order some dinner for us. At the Dubois Restaurant. Lots of wine. We’ll be drinking all night.”
“What, all night, here?”
Olivier sputtered, but it was too late. The bundle of bills from the Count of Monceau’s pocket slipped into Henri’s pocket.
“Please, Henri? Spend plenty of money too. Your indifferent master won’t give you something like this.”
“Is that possible.”
Henri grinned from ear to ear at the unimaginably large sum of money for dinner and disappeared.
He couldn’t even see his master behind him, scowling with arrogance…
“It’s not like you guys don’t have a home, so why do you barge in here when you’re bored.”
“Because Olivier Dampierre is the only friend who has a luxurious apartment in the middle of the city even though he has a separate mansion?”
“And he lives alone, which is a blessing!”
“And Olivier doesn’t even have parents!”
The eyes of the shadowy occupants trembled uncontrollably, as if in the midst of an earthquake, as the guests made such disparaging remarks.
Nevertheless, Count Monceau sprawled out on the couch and untied his cravat.
“I don’t know when my old father will die. This time, it was a full-blown war as the mistresses grabbed their hair and fought.”
“Don’t talk. My aunt’s hair was all ripped off, you know? Their father sleeps with our aunt.”
Jacques Belfre interrupted. Olivier laughed, but eventually downed the bottle of wine Monceau offered him. Such was the nakedness of the highest aristocratic society.
Olivier’s friends, all of whom he’s known since childhood, are a bunch of troublemakers. They were all descended from the most powerful nobles you could name, some of them even imperial blood.
Armand narrowed his eyes at Olivier.
“So, Ollie, so what’s your relationship with that Charlotte? Are you going to just sit around and pretend to act again this time, like a fraud?”
“Am, is the venerable Dampierre even like the rest of us? He won’t touch a woman, but he’s the most talked about.”
Jacques Belfre chuckled and wrapped his arms around his lover. Estelle Godreche on his left arm, Julie Armand on his right.
“The three of us are meeting these days. There wasn’t even a word in the newsletter.”
“How about four, plus Olivier?”
Julie Armand blew cigar smoke in Olivier’s face.
“Olivier will vomit. He’s a germaphobe. He hates the smell of perfume too.”
“Of course he would. He’s not even in a relationship, how are the four of us going to get together?”
The others giggled. Olivier rubbed his face in frustration.
“Even beasts are healthier than these bastards.”
“Yeah, well, if you’ll excuse us.”
Julie Armand and Estelle Godreche slipped their arms around each other’s waists and disappeared into the guest room.
Even Jacques, who had been watching the two women with conspiratorial eyes, rose slowly to his feet, and Olivier caught the back of his head and cast him a look of genuine disgust.
“Please, mind your place. This is my home.”
It hadn’t been for a day or two. The elderly maid cursed again and again, as if she had seen the devil, and disappeared into the darkness.
Monceau tapped Olivier on the arm again.
“By the way, Ollie, Katarina is holding a banquet soon, and you should come. Let’s get drunk and hang out for a while.”
“I don’t have time for that.”
Olivier cut in.
“Why are you like this, I feel hurt. Can’t you leave things like stocks to Henri? Do you have to do business yourself? Ask capable subordinates to do it.”
“Just, it’s fun.”
Armand snapped at Olivier, who was sipping champagne.
“Funny, because who doesn’t know that you do other things to keep your grandmother from nagging you about marriage and politics?”
“You need to work on your love life, people think you’re the biggest flirt in Ezon.”
Monceau, tugging at his moustache, took in the words with a grave expression.
“It’s a perverted libido, enjoying the rumours, getting aroused, then nothing.”
Olivier growled, and his friends laughed, belly laughing.
Armand looked seriously into Olivier’s face.
“You really need to meet someone now, you can’t keep avoiding them forever, get a proper relationship and get married before your grandmother sets you up with someone.”
Olivier sighed instead of answering. He stiffened and snipped the end of his cigar, just as a servant came in and held out a letter.
“What is it?”
– Mademoiselle R.
Olivier frowned as he read the envelope the servant held out to him. There was no way to know who it was just by looking at the brief sender.
“Give it to me. Let’s see if they’re sending nudes again.”
After roughly handing the envelope to Monceau, Olivier slumped back down on the sofa.
There’s no shortage of women sending him nudes in nameless letters. There was no telling what might be inside, so Monceau decided it was better to tear it open first.
As he tore open the envelope and read the contents, he blew out a long puff of cigar smoke and burst out laughing.
“My God, there are so many poor women who don’t even know that our Olivier is a eunuch. She says she wants a hot bed?”
“How many times have I received a letter like that, throw it away.”
“No, look at this one. She’s offering to pay you to sleep with her. Isn’t she mad? She’d pay the Marquis of Dampierre!”
Monceau started laughing so hard he could barely breathe.
Olivier snatched the letter out of his hand. His irritated gaze scanned the letter once more.
The letter was full of steamy descriptions. For example, how the sleepover would begin, what the luxurious bed would look like, and…
Each line was carefully crafted bullshit, but the last one was the worst.
Olivier Dampierre, if you will spend the night with me, I will pay for your family’s investment in the New World. Isn’t this a condition that satisfies both you, who dislikes marriage, and your grandmother who loves money and fortune?
Olivier laughed in amazement. What kind of medicine can you take to create such a delusion?
“Ah, it’s been a long time since I laughed so hard my stomach hurt. Isn’t the prostitute’s body worth an enormous amount of money? But they didn’t mention anything about getting married. I guess she’s afraid of Eleanor Dampierre.”
“Monceau, shut up.”
Monceau sipped his wine and chuckled again, and Olivier, glancing at him disapprovingly, went back to reading the postscript at the end of the letter.
“P.S. If you want to reply, send it to my postbox at 33D, 6th arrondissement, Ezon. It is delivered to me every hour.”
The letter felt unclean to the touch, and Olivier, contemplating tearing it up, folded it back up and tossed it into the study.
How can you say that you want to go to sleep in such a weird way. It’s crazy to be so obsessed with a trivial subject.
“There are a lot of interesting people in Ezon. I mean, there was the woman who claimed to have been reincarnated four times to meet the Duke of Olivier. There was the woman who cried day and night because her crystal ball promised her marriage…”
Monceau giggled, teasing Olivier. Olivier snatched the bottle of wine from Monceau’s hand and downed it in one gulp. He decided not to respond, but somehow the letter left a nasty sting.