Well! Episode 3 has been read and reread, and oh, my. My, my. *Fans herself* I may just need a moment here…
Mind the spoilers below!
Previously on Tremontaine
The House of Tremontaine may be the envy of all – but the Duchess knows there’s a lot more cooking in their books than money in the bank. While she sought a solution to her wealth woes, Kaab got the lay of the land, Rafe crossed words with the Duke of Tremontaine, and Micah settled into the University.
Such a dramatic knot to unpick this week! Where to start…
Okay, let’s start with Diane and Kaab, whose stories got a little tangled in this episode after they (kind of) met one another! Our clever Duchess had a surprise for Kaab’s uncle when she arrived for their meeting earlier than was planned, but it looks like the Kinwiinik way of doing business was a bit surprising for Diane as well. She was apparently banking on Chuleb making his business decisions alone, and her reaction doesn’t get past Kaab:
“She sounds delightful. I must take chocolate with her someday, your… evening star? What a poetic name. You must have many such endearments in your tongue. I’m sure our poor language cannot compare. Doubtless we could learn much from you.”
Not a muscle in Kaab’s face moved. But this was a slip. By one who could not possibly be given to slips. The duchess was very, very worried. About what, Kaab could not guess. Yet.
Kaab, who is only present at the meeting (after her uncle expressly told her to stay away) because she took over from a servant and has Diane believing it’s customary for their servants to remain present while guests are having chocolate. Clever meets clever, and this whole scene was interesting because it’s obvious that Diane is here to get her own measure of these people in her own way, and yet she isn’t quite fully prepared for how they do business. She has an awful lot riding on making a success of this alliance, so naturally she’d be nervous, but to see her slipping up, even only a little, makes me a little nervous as well. Can she pull this off without making a bigger mistake?
And that question brings us to her own surprise visitor later in the story. Why is Ben Hawke visiting the Duchess of Tremontaine?! (Ben being the arrogant bodyguard of Tess, from Riverside…) What did he show Diane, and what on earth did he ask her that has her wound up so tight by the end of this episode? ANSWERS. I MUST HAVE THEM.
And speaking of seeking answers, let’s talk about Micah and Rafe, who are still on Rafe’s quest to change the world. Although Micah is still blissfully unaware of it; all she knows is that she gets to play with pretty numbers, and that seems to be enough for her. She also still hasn’t bothered to mention to anyone but Kaab (still the only person who asked!) that she’s not a boy. This is something that sticks in my head a bit, if I may get a little off-track here… But even as it does that, I’m coming to appreciate it in a way, because of all the things that matter to Micah, that would seem to matter the least. I noted in my review of the first episode that this story has clever social commentary stamped all over it, and this plot strand upholds that part of the narrative in a way I find really interesting. Her gender has no bearing on her interests. And, by extension, it would also seem to be irrelevant to anything Rafe needs her for.
Are you paying attention, Society?
While we’re on the subject of Rafe’s needs… Ahem… This week he encounters the Duke of Tremontaine a second time, and Things Escalate Quickly…
Now, here’s where I was a bit surprised myself in reading this episode, because I had the impression that the Duke’s marriage was a happy one…? But it seems Diane is unaware of her husband’s interests, as much as William is unaware of the depth of her political machinations on their House’s behalf. While the politicking wife’s away, the Duke will play…?
I’m not sure I like that, to be honest. To be fair, his fling with Rafe seems to be as much of a surprise turn of events for William as it is for Rafe – but it hardly discourages either of them… Maybe I just have issues with fidelity, but there it is. And it will certainly lead to interesting drama later, if everything that’s hinted at in this episode bears fruit. But I’ve got to admit, I’m already putting myself pretty firmly in Diane’s corner here.
Back to Micah, to finish things off… Well, Micah and Kaab, actually, because our dear maths genius gives Rafe a breakthrough in his scientific quest this week! Also, I need to touch on my earlier observation/concern about Rafe’s ambition overriding his empathy where Micah is concerned, because he goes a long way toward proving me wrong this week. When Micah can’t help correcting one of his University professors and works herself into a panic attack as a result, he knows exactly the right thing to do to calm her down again, and he does it without hesitation.
“No!” She knew it was the wrong thing to do, but she couldn’t help herself. “That’s wrong!”
And now everyone in the room was looking at her. She wanted to make herself tiny, or run away, or disappear into thin air. The horrible pressure was now joined by a hideous embarrassment. Her breath came even faster and she began rocking back and forth very quickly, her eyes wide with fright.
Rafe put his arms around her and squeezed hard. “Want to do angles?” he said, and she nodded, grateful. “Tell me the angle in an equilateral triangle,” he whispered in her ear.
“Sixty,” she said at once, deeply grateful to have something else to focus on.
“In an equilateral pentagon.”
“One hundred eight.”
“Breathe, breathe slowly. Hexagon.”
I have all the approval and a good few feels regarding this. Well done, Rafe. Furthermore, when Rafe knows perfectly well he’s going to get himself into an argument with another tutor in a different class, earlier in the story, he warns Micah first of all that it’s going to happen. Knowing that seeing him argue with people upsets her, he gives her a chance to leave first. This scene is a bit more on the humorous side than the one I quoted from, but it’s all part of the same point – Rafe is a far better friend to Micah than I’d given him credit for, and I’m sincerely glad to have been wrong. I just hope he keeps it up!