174 So Generous
Bai Xueyue stared up at the man, her trembling eyes wide and nervous. She scrambled to her feet, her gaze trained to the floor. When the man, reeking of alcohol and tobacco, took a step towards her, she shrank backwards, hoping to blend into the darkness of the hallways. Alas, it was inevitable, and everyone had seen her.
"What are you doing out of your room?" Viscount Bai Sheng snarled, storming towards her, but it was too late.
Bai Xueyue had caught the eye of the highest bidder in Hechen. He was a man with a large pocket and an even bigger house to store as many wives as he pleased, no matter their age, though he preferred them young and before they bled.
Despite coming from Hanjian, a country where harems were frowned upon, he did not mind. So long as he had the money to support his many wives, he would not face any problems.
"Who's this, Viscount?" the man asked, revealing a cunning smile. He was not ugly, nor was he handsome. There was nothing special about him, except the malicious and greedy glint in his eyes.
Another voice answered him. "No one!" Viscountess Mu Yihua exclaimed, rushing out of the room to see who it was. Her heart drummed in fear at the thought of Bai Xueyue being caught in his spiderweb.
"Go back to your room, Xueyue!" Viscountess Mu Yihua demanded, her voice harsher than usual. It was high-pitched and revealed the panic in her voice.
Bai Xueyue was paralyzed with fear. She could feel the scathing glower of Viscount Bai who was demanding for her to move, but her foot was rooted to the ground.
"Useless brat," Viscount Bai Sheng muttered, storming towards her and grabbing her thin wrist. He tugged her forward in an attempt to drag her back to her room. He'll deal with her tomorrow with a thorough beating, but the man had different plans.
"Wait a minute, Viscount." The man held up a hand, licking his lips when he saw her large, docile eyes.
He could practically smell her fear before he witnessed it. When their eyes met, he felt his body hum with interest. Despite her ragged figure and clothes, she was easily one of the most attractive women he had ever met, with the beauty of the imported porcelain dolls that his younger daughters loved to carry. Her hair stuck to her forehead, her cheeks were hollow and she was evidently malnourished, but he could easily feed her, with something too malicious for her to comprehend.
He licked his lips again, wondering what type of woman she would be in bed. So young, so pure, he wanted her instantly. "Is this your youngest daughter?"
Viscountess Mu Yihua stiffened. Horrified by his suggestion, she immediately stepped out of the room in an attempt to shield her daughter. As much as she despised Xueyue, she could not bring herself to sell off her own child like livestock.
"She is only a child," Viscountess Mu Yihua nervously explained.
She nervously swallowed, her eyes darting to her husband, pleading for his mercy.
Viscount Bai Sheng spared his wife none of it. He glanced at the thin child beside him, her figure so small, she looked years younger than her actual age.
"She's turning sixteen very soon," Viscount Bai Sheng answered in a pleasant tone. He released her wrist and grabbed her by the shoulders, swiveling her around to show the man her front assets.
"Has she bled yet?" the man asked, wondering if she had her first cycle. He preferred for them to not have it yet, it was better in bed that way. He would know.
Viscountess Mu Yihua took a hurried step towards her daughter only for her husband to shoot her a warning glower.
"Yes, she has, very recently," Viscount Bai Sheng responded. "But don't worry, she's untouched."
"Truly?" the man asked, his eyes leering over her from head to toe. His gaze lingered on her undeveloped chest, licking his lips again. His attention flickered back to her eyes, like that of a baby fawn. She had the same eyes as the Viscountess. A smirk traveled to his face.
"How much for her?"
"What?" Bai Xueyue finally spoke up, her voice barely above a whisper.
"Depends on what you want from her," Viscount Bai Sheng smoothly answered.
He combed his hands through her hair, his lips twitching when he found it tangled. He was attempting to fix her appearance in hopes of fetching a higher price. If he could get rid of this unwanted scum and generate profit from it, it would be killing two birds with one stone.
"If it's a few touches here and there, I do not mind offering a great price, considering our friendship. However, if you'd like her as a wife, then I would love to negotiate further," Viscount Bai Sheng added.
"You wanted more investors, didn't you? As you know, I come from Hanjian and I have many wealthy friends there," the man began, shifting his weight to one leg while he rubbed his throat.
He analyzed her flaws, or rather, parts of her body that hadn't developed yet, like her chest and hip that was too small for childbearing. That was fine. He'd stretch her.
"Yes, investors are welcomed as well," Viscount Bai Sheng slowly answered. "But will that be all you're offering?"
The man hummed in response. "We'll see after I get a proper look at her. Open her mouth."
Bai Xueyue constantly struggled to break free from her father's grip. Why would this man peer inside her mouth?
"For…?" Viscount Bai Sheng asked, confused by such a perplexing request.
"I can't have a wife with a weak set of teeth. How will she feed herself to breastfeed my child?"
Viscountess Mu Yihua stiffened at his words. Xueyue, a mother? She was still a child and barely a grown woman!
"Very well." Viscount Bai Sheng nervously said. He reached forward and without warning, roughly grabbed Xueyue's jaw, clenching it tightly until she was forced to let out a cry of pain and reveal her teeth.
"Hmm..." The man rubbed his chin, tilting his head. "I'll take her for five hundred gold."
Viscount Bai Sheng hesitated at the price. It was not enough. Five hundred gold could barely buy a decent-sized house, he wanted more than that. "Hmm…" he visibly hesitated, slowly shaking his head.
"I'm afraid it will be difficult to separate from my daughter… she's my youngest and my wife is quite attached to her," Viscount Bai Sheng lied through his teeth with a smile on his face.
The man chuckled in response. "If you wanted a higher price, you could've just said so. How about one thousand and five hundred gold coins?"
Viscount Bai Sheng's eyes lit up. "My, that is a—"
"But first, I want a taste of her."
"NO!" Viscountess Mu Yihua cried out, finally deciding enough was enough. Xueyue was only fifteen and was yet a woman. This unfair High Lord was too much! Even if he was an Earl whose title was one rank above her husband, she could not tolerate this further!
"S-surely, Earl Qin, you wouldn't want such an inexperienced child..." Viscountess Mu Yihua hurriedly added on, softening her tone, hoping to ease the tension.
"The less experience, the better," Earl Qin answered with a deep scowl on his face. He turned to Viscount Bai Sheng and clicked his tongue irritably. "You should discipline your wife better. If that was my wife and she spoke out of turn, I would've given her a good smack in front of her children."
Viscount Bai Sheng's body tensed at his words. He would never lay a hand on his wife, not in this lifetime or the next. She was simply too important to be harmed. If he had abused her and she was suddenly unable to give him an heir, she would become useless in his life, and the Mu Family would blame him.
Nonetheless, he strained his smile and opened his mouth to respond, but was interjected by Earl Qin.
"Because of that disrespect, I do not know if I want your daughter anymore. What if she has the same rebellious streak as your wife? How despicable it is for women to have a tongue on them. It should be used for pleasure, not talking."
Viscount Bai Sheng grounded his teeth, irritated by this arrogant Earl. He dug his fingers deep into Xueyue's shoulder. He watched in satisfaction as she sobbed in pain and winced. Good. It lessened his frustration seeing her like this.
"How would you like me to show you her obedience? I have disciplined my daughter very well. She won't dare to speak out of turn and look, even now, she looks at the floor, instead of directly in the eyes."
"Obedience can be faked," Earl Qin responded, shaking his head irritably. He had a daughter who loved to fake obedience and instantly lash out when he was not looking.
"Well, I have no interest in someone so unruly like your wife." Earl Qin sighed, shaking his head in disappointment. "I will see you the next time I am in town."
"W-when is that?" Viscount Bai Sheng nervously answered.
"I don't know. Weeks, months, or…" Earl Qin wickedly smiled. "Years?"
Viscount Bai Sheng's heart dropped to his stomach. One thousand and five hundred gold for Xueyue. No one has ever offered him such a high price for her hand in marriage. He was too terrified that such a great offer would never come again.
"Have a good life, Viscount," Earl Qin said. He turned around and took a single step forward when his peer nervously called out.
"W-wait a minute."
Earl Qin paused, but did not face the Viscount. His lips twitched to contain the excited grin that threatened to break out. His plan was working.
"H-how about you sample her? A few touches here and there to measure her worth."
"Just a few…?" Earl Qin mused, turning only his chin to look at the Viscount.
"Why should I fondle her for a few seconds when I can easily play with the wife waiting for me in the carriage?"
"Hmph, you are a cheap man, Viscount."
"Wait!" Viscount Bai Sheng hurriedly called out when Earl Qin took another step. "Fine," he gritted out. "As long as you'd like, until you deem her a suitable fit for you."
Earl Qin's lips tugged into a cheshire grin, revealing his yellow and less than perfect teeth. "Why, you are so generous today, Viscount! I shall gladly take up on that offer."