17 Exchange

Rosalie's pounding heart was fluttering like a frantic bird against her rib cage, and her thin, pale hands were shaking from the mixture of unfathomable nervousness and fright. The longer she hesitated, the more anxious she grew, while Damien, on the other hand, seemed to be drowning in his own unimaginable torment.

'Come on, Rosalie, move your body... You have to come to him, otherwise, that sacrifice was all for naught.'

As that desperate yet resolute thought crossed her clouded mind, the girl pulled out a pink linen handkerchief from underneath her corset and mustered a tremendous effort to compel her feeble legs to move once more. Despite her intense inner longing to draw closer to Damien, with each step she took, it felt as if she were trudging through thick mud, while the gap between her and the Duke seemed only to widen.

At last, Rosalie knelt before the struggling man, delicately covering his hand with her handkerchief, and gently drawing it nearer to her face, her composed yet resounding voice striving to capture his attention,

"Your Grace, it's alright. I can help you, you just need to trust me and wait a little bit longer, alright? Everything is going to be fine, I promise."

Clearly impervious to her pleas, yet still lucid enough to restrain his strength, Damien forcefully yanked his dirty, bleeding hand away. However, Rosalie's determination remained unwavering. Regardless of how many times he silently attempted to repel her or create distance, Lady Ashter refused to yield, desperately clinging to the hope that Damien would relent instead.

And alas, the opportunity had finally manifested itself! Duke Dio emitted a loud yet sorrowful groan and slumped against the flower bush, his limbs relinquishing their ability to resist Rosalie's lethal grasp. Swiftly, the girl meticulously cleansed the man's hand with the handkerchief, drawing it close to her mouth once more, apprehensive that even a momentary hesitation could lead to yet another irreparable failure.

"What... What the hell are you doing?!"

Damien managed to squeeze a few hoarse words out of his dry mouth, his voice resembling the fading roar of a trapped animal, but Rosalie only shook her head and sighed,

"Please, Your Grace, you have to trust me. I will not hurt you, I promise!"

Although she tried to sound as comforting as possible, it was still not enough to help Damien feel at ease, because his agony and fear were stemming from a deeply rooted and exceedingly distressing trauma.

When Damien Dio first started showing the signs of Acme Fever, he was pushed to confess that he needed to feel a sense of sexual relief, the one that could only be achieved from an intimate encounter with a woman. Hence, hundreds of women, young and old, were brought to the young boy of only twelve years old, and forced onto his already broken body, in a disgraceful attempt to find at least one female who would be compatible with his desires or powerful enough to lift his curse.

Constantly raped and degraded, Damien had grown to loathe even the mere idea of being touched by a woman, let alone sleeping with her. And Rosalie could relate to that devastating feeling more than anyone.

'Alright... Although I am not sure whether the Acme exchange works the same way it works with Nadir, I will just have to give it a try. Here goes nothing!'

In an effort to replicate the actions of the Female Lead towards Damien in the novel, Rosalie shut her eyes and delicately pressed her lips to the back of the Duke's hand, attempting to be as gentle as possible. Surprisingly, even this seemingly subtle gesture proved to have an impact. She felt a warm, tingling sensation as if something damp and velvety was caressing her lips against the heated skin. As she parted her eyes, she couldn't help but be utterly astonished, frozen in bewilderment.

Both her face and Damien's hand became cloaked in a radiant, shimmering red mist that emitted a sweet, nearly intoxicating fragrance, undulating around them as if imbued with life, eagerly seeping into the Duke's bared skin, and Rosalie sensed her lips being irresistibly pulled closer to his flesh, following the flow of her Acme.

The man felt its helping effect as well – his body temperature began to decrease, and his rapid, shallow breathing was gradually turning back to its normal rhythm, alleviating his burden of suffocation and lightening the weight upon his weary frame.

But it was still not enough. Like a starving man who tasted an indescribable explosion of taste for the first time in years, he still craved something more sustainable.

And for the first time in his life, he finally felt like he could get it.

Thus, as if possessed by Asmodeus himself, unable to hold back any longer, Damien jerked his hand away with one swift motion, then looked at Rosalie with eyes full of previously unknown desire, and grabbed her by her tender, skinny wrists, pulling her entire body closer to his own.

Startled by that unexpected action, the girl lost her balance and fell on top of Damien, pinning him against the ground. As their bodies collided, the two of them felt a strange tingling sensation that seemed to emanate from within, as if an invisible yet immensely potent force ensnared their forms, binding them tightly together.

Rosalie was still releasing her Acme and Damien was gladly accepting it.

Then, Lady Ashter's vision almost instantly turned blank, while her entire upper body felt like it was filled with something hot and heavy, and when she finally managed to get back to her senses, her lips were already swallowed by Damien's, drawing her into the most fervent and passionate kiss she had ever experienced.

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