I woke early and went to the training yard with Tristan and watched as the newest recruits worked. It had been a long time since we’d been here and it was crowded and full of life. Elodie saluted me from where she was stationed and I smiled back. I looked at my brother.

“I’m taking Calla to see Uncle Trey this afternoon,” I said softly, “are you coming?” He looked at me.

“Until Trey and Grandfather take Caro’s side over her father, I’m afraid I can’t,” he shrugged. I nodded. “Are Alex and Emily still there?”

“I don’t think so,” I said. “But if they are, I’ll invite them here, I know Caro would like it.” He nodded. “How is she?” I asked. He raised an eyebrow. “How are you?” I tried.

“Things are,” he exhaled, “They’ve been better, I suppose.” I looked at him. “I don’t know what to do anymore, Thena. She’s miserable and I can’t fix it.”

“You could stay put for two days in a row,” I said, “that might help.” He looked at me and sighed.

“It’s more than that,” he said, “I talked to Marina last night, and I can barely look at Lisette because I know it will upset Caro.” I nodded. “Do you think a baby would fix it?”

“She wants to be a mother,” I reminded him, “but she also wants to be your wife.” He looked at me. “It would fix her loneliness, and her feelings of purposelessness.” He looked down. “But she’s heartbroken, Tristan, I don’t think it can fix that.”

“Maybe this trip will be good for us,” he sighed, “I don’t know anymore.” I smiled softly at him. “This was all your idea, by the way.” I raised my eyebrows.

“You forming the rangers and never coming home was my idea?” I asked.

“The marriage was your idea,” he said. I smiled.

“You could have said no,” I shrugged, “spent you life mooning after Marina unencumbered by a wife.” He kicked dirt at me.

A few hours later I was standing in front of Trey’s townhouse, with my hand in Calla’s.

“Mama,” she said as I knocked, I looked at her. “Why didn’t Lady Althea come with us? Isn’t she supposed to come with me everywhere?” I laughed.

“Yes,” Athena said, “but today is so you can see Uncle Trey, I’m sure he’ll get to know Lady Althea in good time.” The door opened.

“Ah, Lady Athena,” the butler smiled. “Welcome home.”

“Thank you, Emmet,” I said and walked past him. “May I present my daughter, Viscountess Calla.”

“Your Grace,” Emmet bowed. Calla wrapped around my leg. “I see.”

“Emmet, can you see to it,” Emily DuCray waltzed through the door and her face broke into a wide smile. “Oh Athena!” She squealed and ran over and embraced me. “Oh I’m so glad you’re here. We’ve been frantic since you got to the city! I was going to send a note to Caro this afternoon.”

“Emily,” I said softly, “you know she can’t come.” She frowned. “But you and Alex must come to the palace.” She smiled sharply.

“Of course,” she said. She looked at Calla and knelt down, “Hello Viscountess, and how are you this afternoon?”

“Quite well, thank you,” Calla managed before sticking her thumb back in her mouth.

“Calla, love, this is Mistress Emily, she’s Aunt Caro’s sister,” I smiled. Calla brightened. “Is Uncle Trey available? I sent a note!”

“He and Alex and arguing over some deal with Failon,” Emily sighed, “Prince Otto claims the racing studs Lotte sent him are subpar and Lotte is insisting it isn’t her fault Otto over trained the foals and they were exhausted by the time of races. It’s a mess.” I laughed. “Would you like to see Carlo?”

“I would,” I said. “Calla, would you like to meet your baby cousin?” Calla nodded and we followed Emily into the nursery. Calla rushed to the little boy playing on the floor. Carlo was nearly a year and a half old by now, so he was hardly a baby. “He’s beautiful,” I said. Emily beamed.

“Thank you,” she sighed. “I’ll bring him when I come to the palace, I want Caro to meet him.” She shook her head. “My father is so obstinate. Not that the old man is any better, they’re both refusing to even have the fight, even though your grandfather is squarely on Tristan and Caro’s side.” I smiled.

“That’s good to hear,” I said. “I always thought the hearing of the challenge would end it.” Emily sighed.

“It has for everyone but Papa,” Emily shrugged. “Everyone in Dorin says he looks like Alex.” I smiled at her.

“So he does,” I nodded. “Everyone in Pantona says she looks like Olivia.”

“Mm,” Emily smiled. “I see it. That hair though! Not auburn like everyone else or blonde like us,” she shook her head. “Her debut will be interesting.” I snorted.

“Unless Lisette pulls herself together, I doubt the heir to throne will have the option to debut in Dorin,” I shrugged. Emily raised her eyebrows. “Council votes this afternoon, it’s done.”

“That is something,” she said, “won’t you grandfather be pleased?” I laughed.

“Oh terribly,” I muttered. “Aaron is too. It might be the only thing they agree on.” She laughed.

“Ah there they are,” Uncle Trey walked in and kissed me on the cheek, “hello Countess.”

“Uncle,” I smiled. “We were discussing Calla’s ascension.” He grinned.

“Ah yes,” he sighed happily, “Tom wrote me of it.” I nodded. “It’s quite an honor.” I looked at all of them, Emily nodded to a servant and we all walked into Trey’s office.

“What can you tell me?” I asked. Alex was leaning against the window. “Hello Cousin.”

“Hello,” he grinned. “There’s not much new. Rastan is jumpy with the king’s health. Raniere seems to want to marry as soon as possible after he’s crowned.” I nodded.

“Will he make an offer?” I said. This was more Aaron’s department but he was busy.

“Not to Annalise,” Emily shook her head. “He doesn’t want her building an empire on his back.” I exhaled.

“Marina then,” I said. Emily nodded. “Cornan’s beard, that’s complicated.”

“We know,” Trey said. “She has no reason to refuse a king, who’s the right age, who will at least claim to want a peaceful alliance.”

“Phania will hate it,” Alex said.

“Phania hates everything we do,” I shrugged, “Marina will hate it, that’s what’s trickier.”

“A delayed betrothal?” Trey suggested. I swallowed and my hand fell to my belly. “Like Queen Elana negotiated for Princess Karina.”

“Aaron won’t betroth Calla, or this one” I shook my head, “nor will I, or Annalise. It isn’t Cammadie.” Trey sighed.

“Your mother’s daughter,” he muttered, but he was smiling. “Of course, you’re right, it is not Cammadie to betroth children, but expectations are another thing entirely. This whole mess with Phania comes from Annalise and Eric being expected for each other, official betrothal or not.”

“So your suggestion, Uncle,” Emily said, “is that even should Marina refuse him, which, as it’s Marina is terribly likely, we mention the expectation of Calla for any of Raniere’s sons?”

“My daughter is not a bargaining chip,” I said. “That is end of the conversation.” I stormed out of the room and back to the nursery.

“Mama,” Calla ran over, “Cousin Carlo is a very nice baby, but might we go back now? He can’t even talk!” I laughed and scooped her up.

“Of course darling,” I said. “Would you be terribly upset by tea with some grownups first?” She sighed loudly.

“If we absolutely must.” She sighed dramatically. I suddenly understood why the protectors were usually placed so young with their charges. A friend in situations like this is invaluable. I always had Tristan, and while we didn’t get to be those people for Annalise, Aaron was. Calla is already cleaving to Althea.

I walked her into the parlor and she settled next to me. Normally I would make her be more friendly but I was frustrated with all of them. Suddenly every single moment, every barb Martin shot at Trey about our future, every protective gesture the Pantonas put over us, down to the uniform I still wear makes sense.

Trey loved us. He still would have sold us. I let him sell Tristan, it’s only Carolina’s strong heart that saved them both from becoming pawns.

Alex looks at me, and an understanding passes between us. He and Emily have to choose now. I’m finished mediating.



I woke up with sunlight peaking through the curtains and pulled the covers over my head.

“Caro,” Tristan’s voice sing songed. I peaked back out. “Are you awake?”

“I am not,” I said firmly. He laughed and kissed me. “I’m sleeping, go away.” He kissed me again.

“But I’m home,” he said, sliding under the covers with me.

“You’ve been home for three days,” I reminded him, “and I’ve enjoyed it, but you’re rather tiring my love.” He smiled and kissed my neck.

“Ah,” he said, pulling my hips to him. “But I was in the wilderness for four months,” I giggled, “and the thought of tiring you out was the only thing keeping me sane.” I kissed him again.

“The only thing?” I said. He nodded. “Your mission didn’t come into your mind?” He sighed and kissed me.

“Tragically,” he shook his head, “you know I tend to be singularly focused, and this round it was, ‘I am going to go home as soon as possible and make my wife moan for three days straight.'” I laughed.

“Well Commander, you succeeded beautifully,” I kissed him. “But I ask for a slight reprieve.” He sighed. I kissed him. “Now, we can’t put off everything else we have to do.” He groaned as the door opened.

“Lady Dugarry,” our maid, Elsie smiled dropping a tray on the table, “Sir Tristan.”

“Thank you Elsie,” I said standing up and opening the curtains. Tristan pouted at me. “As you can see, Sir Tristan is behaving like a child this morning.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Elsie laughed. “Shall I send word to the Countess not to expect you, again?”

“You can send word to the Countess that she can hang in the village square for all I care,” Tristan grumbled, “as if my sister would attend a godsdamned dinner party after a four month ranging mission.” I kissed him gently.

“We can’t put them off again,” I said, “please tell the Countess we look forward to seeing her tonight.” Elsie nodded and left. “You know,” I said slipping back into bed and straddling him, “when Alex and Emily came through I bought several new gowns and I haven’t gotten to wear them at all.” He laughed at my pout.

“The gowns can hang along with my sister,” he said and flipped me onto my back. I groaned as he started touching me. “When we go to Dovetail, we’ll hardly have any time alone, here,” I whimpered, “I have you all to myself, just as I prefer it.”

“Oh Tristan,” I sighed. I’m weak. I know I should tell him no, that we’ve delayed long enough and we can’t spend another day simply making love.

But I’ve missed him too. Four months is the longest we’ve ever been apart. And his times out in Westran or east in Failor were getting longer.

“Tell me you like it,” he whispered in my ear.

“You know I do,” I teased and nibbled on his bottom lip. He smirked as he pressed into me. We always have this. The physical distance between us can become emotional, but in when we’re in bed, it’s the same as when we first met. We want each other and everything else doesn’t matter. “Tristan, oh gods,” I moaned, arching up into him. “I can’t, I’m going to,” I exhaled and clenched around him.

“Hang on a bit longer, sweet,” he said, “stay with me.” I nodded and cried out as we both finished. “I missed being with you so much, Caro,” he whispered. “Sometimes I thought I was Dreaming.” I smiled and kissed him.

“I felt that too,” I said softly, resting my hand on his chest. “We still have to go to the manor tonight. Athena’s likely to break down our door and then make Aaron evict us if we avoid it any longer.” He laughed.

“I don’t think he can evict us,” Tristan said, “the house was a part of our wedding contract. Unless someone in Dorin takes Andrei’s challenge seriously, he can’t get rid of us.” I barked out a laugh.

“Well, then we’re perfectly safe, since Alex has everyone in Dorin fully convinced that Andrei is out of his mind,” I said. “But we’d better not risk it.” He sighed and I kissed him. “Tristan,” I whispered, “please.”

I knew why he wanted to stay in bed, what he hoped it would lead to.

“Have you spoken to Marina about it?” He whispered. I nodded. “And?”

“Well, she said it will happen on the goddess’s timeline, not ours,” I slipped a robe on.

“Which is Marina for, be patient, the baby will come?” He asked. I shrugged.

“I think,” I kissed him, “it also means that even if we spend every moment we’re together having sex, only being together for a few days every few months, means we can’t count on anything.” He sighed and sat up. I straddled him and pressed my hands against his chest. He had so many scars now. There had been a few I’d always known, the one on his side from taking Dovetail, the small one on near his eyebrow, from a time Athena accidentally cut him as a child. But there were two on his right pectoral now, several on his back. Three on each thigh.

And I was never there for the healing, for his pain. I hated that, I wanted to be, so badly, but it was something he kept hidden away, like so many other parts of himself.

“You’re right,” he sighed. “But I know how badly you want it.” I smiled.

“I do,” I said softly. “But you’re home, and safe, and I can’t ask the gods for more than that,” he kissed me. “This one is new,” I said softly brushing his shoulder.

“Mm,” he nodded, “we walked into a briar nest, it was fine.” I nodded.

“Why didn’t Prior come here with you?” I asked. Tristan’s ranging partner sometimes came here. He frowned.

“He was in rather a hurry to get on to Dovetail,” he muttered. I frowned.

“Oh,” I said softly, “I hadn’t realized they were still,” he shrugged.

“She has to entertain herself somehow,” he sighed.

“Tristan,” I said quietly. Though that at least got him out of bed. I wanted to say something, but anything I’d say on the subject would sound hollow, jealous. She isn’t replacing you, no one could. I have to believe that. Annalise’s lovers have nothing to do with Tristan, because if they do, then what does our marriage mean? I know I can’t be what she was to him. I’d never even bothered to try.

“I’m sorry,” he said, “I know you didn’t mean,” I kissed him. “I’ll get dressed, we’ll walk into town, and then to the manor.” I nodded. “I brought some things for Calla.” I grinned.

“She’s missed you too, you know.” I said. “Annalise is considering giving her the circlet soon.” He looked at me.

“That’ll be sure to calm the Phanians down,” he said. I shrugged.

“Nothing else has,” I sighed, “we got some word that Lord Lestoff is rebuilding his launches, that’s good news, if the ferries start running.” He smirked.

“Any news from Brinecliff is good news,” he muttered. I shook my head.

“You don’t get to resent Annalise having Prior and Marina pining for Lieutenant Lestoff at the same time, love,” I teased. He laughed. “And us not having a child. It’s too much. Even you can’t sustain that level of brooding.”

“I’m very good at it though,” he grinned. I shook my head. “What is it you want to do today, besides dinner?”

“I have to go into town,” I said, he groaned. “I haven’t checked in in a few days, something may have happened.”

“I won’t speak to him,” he said.

“Oh that will be new a different,” I grinned. “You two are usually on such good terms.” He glared at me. “Tristan, he’s a useful contact. I can either do my job well, or I can ostracize William, it cannot be both.”

After I was inducted into the guard, it became abundantly clear that I was not a fighter. But Dowager Countess Olivia quickly observed how my merchant trained manners set people at ease, and how my contacts through Alex and Emily could keep the army up to date. So instead of a soldier I became a spy. I’m very very good at it.

Tristan hates it.

That is the least of our problems.

Surprise Visitors


I’ve never seen my mother how she’s been for the past few weeks, certainly not with me. Perhaps when I first came out and they thought that Alex and me were going to happen, but now she’s a full whirlwind. We’ve hosted people every day, either for tea or dinner, well wishers, and gawkers.

It would be hideous, if it weren’t for Tristan being by my side in all of it. I suddeny realized how wonderful it was to be marrying a courtier. He always said the right thing.

And when we were alone, well that was a completely different thing entirely. We didn’t manage every night, but enough of them, that I’d completely lost any sense of self consciousness about it. His hands on me, him inside of me, the way he kisses me and whispers my name, it’s the most comfortable thing in the world.

There have been gifts and gowns and the one I’m treasuring the most, lost in the mess of silks and jewels that my new in laws to be have sent over, is a simple gold pendant with a crest on it, strung on a simple green velvet band Tristan sent it with a simple note.

I felt the need to have this made. It’s The Dugarry Crest, and you certainly never have to wear it, I know my grandfather is sending over something far more elaborate.



I haven’t taken it off, much to my mother’s irritation.

“I just don’t see why,” she sighed. I looked at her.

“Mama,” Emily shook her head, “Caro is going to be Lady Dugarry, not Madame Dumanis.” I smiled warmly at her. “I think it’s fitting.”

“Perhaps,” Mother said, and tied a pink sash around my waist, accenting the white dress I’d put on. “But for tonight, darling, maybe at least the earrings the old man sent over.” I frowned.

“I’ll wear the whole set, though I’m wearing the gown he sent,” I sighed. It was our official engagement party at the manor tonight. I slipped the pendant off and instead pinned it inside my sash. “Where’s Father?”

“He said he will join us there,” she said, “several ships came in this afternoon and it’s delayed him.” I frowned. My father was less enthusiastic about my engagement than I expected. For the man who was so intent on unloading me that he basically sold me to someone who abandoned me, he’s been curiously distant and stoic about the situation. To the point that my mother is worried The Dumanis are going to be insulted. I’m starting to see her point.

“Madame,” our butler walked in, “the young gentlemen are here to escort the ladies.” Emily squealed and flew off.

“Emily, do try to,” Mother called after her, “oh never mind, she’s hopeless.” I laughed. “Darling, I know you’re fed up with all of this, but it’s important to me, so I am glad you’re going along with it.” I smiled in the mirror and he squeezed my shoulders. “You shouldn’t keep him waiting.” I stood up and hurried to the front hall. Emily and Alex were already bundled in their carriage and Tristan was standing waiting for me.

“I was lucky they got out the door,” Tristan said softly. I laughed. “I’m an apalling chaperone.” I kissed him and he pulled me close. “I’ve missed you.”

“It’s been two days,” I said, “you couldn’t have missed me much.” He laughed.

“And yet, here we are,” he sighed, we walked outside. “I like this one,” he said, sliding the light linen of my gown between his fingers. “Is it from me? I’ve lost track.”

“From your grandfather, the jewels too,” I said. He nodded helping me into the carriage, where Emily and Alex were fully entwined. “Emily, Mother is joining us.” She sighed and pulled away, straightening herself. “Hello Alex.”

“Caro,” he smiled at me. Once Mother joined us the carriage carried us over to the manor and we walked inside, I relaxed into Tristan’s arm around my waist. I was surprised that not only were most of the merchants I’d ever known or seen here, so were many of the officers from the fort.

“Oh no,” Tristan said, as another one of them walked in. But he didn’t actually sound upset, he seemed, elated.

“What?” I said. He took my hand.

“I’m going to apologize in advance for how my entire family is about to react to something,” he said and we started walking. He looked excited though, even though there was a sudden hush in conversation. “Hello General.” He was beaming.

“Well, this is certainly something,” the man standing in front us laughed. I tried my best to take in General Thomas Martin, and he was quite something. If I’d thought Tristan was born to wear the uniform, it was clearly something he’d learned from The General. “You’re being rude, Tristan.”

“I’m sorry, you caught me by surprise,” he said, “This is Carolina DuKarras,” he looked at me. “Caro, love, this is General Thomas Martin.” My heart leapt.

“Oh!” I said, “Oh I’m so happy to meet you!”

“And I you,” The General said, gently, “I must say, it’s strange to be back here.” Tristan laughed and hugged him.

“Is Thena with you?” He asked.

“No,” he sighed, “honestly, this just happened to work out, I’m actually here to beg a favor if you can believe it, there have been some, developments.” Tristan frowned. “I don’t want to ruin your night, boy, we’ll discuss it later,” The General sighed. “I suppose I have to say hello to your grandfather, hm.”

“On your own head be it,” Tristan shrugged. “Trey is over there.” The General sighed.

“Yes, yes,” he said, “lovely to meet you Carolina, we’ll speak more soon.” I nodded as he left. I looked at Tristan.

“You really didn’t know he was coming?” I said. He shook his head. “I’m glad for you, and to meet him.” He kissed me gently. “You’ve gone, what is it?”

“Something must be very wrong, if he won’t tell me,” he frowned. I swallowed and turned his head, to look at me. “I’m sorry, I’m back.”

“You aren’t,” I said gently, “go speak with him. You’re useless to me in this state.” He laughed and kissed me softly. I exhaled and decided to explore a little, walking out into the hall, my father had walked into the door. “Kind of you to join us.”

“No need to be so prickly,” he said. “I’m here, I’ll make my apologies.” I frowned. “Would you prefer I hadn’t come at all?” He kissed me on the forehead. “And where is Tristan?”

“General Martin surprised him by arriving today,” I explained. Father nodded.

“Honestly, Angelo,” the man who swept in behind him, made my heart jump. “I’d rather not have come here first,” but then he smiled at me. “Well, hello Caro.”

“Andrei,” I managed a whisper.

“Ah, there’s the bride,” Trey Dumanis came in, “I was sent to fetch you.” I nodded, numbly and followed after him. I swallowed. “Are you alright?”

“I, thought,” I exhaled. “My father arrived.” He nodded.

“Yes,” he said, “and with Captain Arrain at that.” I nodded and took a glass of water he offered me. “May I give you some advice?”

“Yes,” I said, taking a large sip.

“Don’t let him rattle you,” he said. I swallowed. “Tristan knows everything?” I nodded. “And he’s standing by you?”

“He says so, but it was different, when he wasn’t,” I sighed, “he’s here.” Trey smiled softly. “Do you know everything?”

“I know that you and the Captain were involved,” he said, “and that you were rather changed after he left.” I smiled softly.

“Are you happy to see General Martin?” I said. Trey let out an indulgent sigh.

“Yes, I am always happy to see Tom,” he admitted, “though his appearance doesn’t bode well for how things are going in the south. Apparently he’s here to see about using guild ships for some conflict with Phania.”

“Oh,” I whispered, “I should find Tristan.” He nodded and I went back to the ballroom. Tristan was standing by his grandfather who looked, for probably the first time in my life, not just mildly irritated, but genuinely furious. Tristan’s brow was furrowed, and he’d lost all of his color. I walked over to him. “Are you alright?”

“I will be,” he said softly and kissed my forehead. My heart stopped beating so quickly. “I may have to leave earlier than I planned.” I looked up at him.

“I’ll come with you,” I said simply, “whenever.” He smiled. “My father finally arrived.” He smiled.

“A relief,” he said. He paused and saw them walking over to us. “Who’s that with him?”

“Commander Dugarry,” my father said and shook his hand. “May I present Captain Andrei Arrain? He’s the reason for my delay.” I exhaled and stared at the floor. “We had some matters to settle.”

“Of course,” Tristan’s voice was ice cold. “I’ve heard a lot about you, Captain Arrain.” Andrei looked at me then.

“Yes,” he said cautiously, “I imagine you have. I want to wish you both immeasurable joy.” I swallowed.

“That’s kind of you,” I said softly. He nodded and they walked away. “I was coming to warn you.”

“I could kill him,” Tristan said evenly, “would you like that? I bet Lisette would even pardon me for it.” I burst into a laugh and then kissed him. “Are you alright?”

“I think so,” I whispered, “I was shocked, and I don’t know what my father was thinking bringing him here.” He bit his lip. “Why is the old man so riled?”

“Oh, Martin always riles him,” Tristan shrugged, “they can’t stand each other. I’m sure Grandfather will threaten to kill him six times before breakfast.” I giggled. “Can we go to the gardens, I want to tell you everything, and I can’t here.” I nodded and we walked out into the courtyard. “I have to leave as soon as possible.”

“We have to leave,” I corrected him. He frowned. “Why?”

“There is a flotilla of Phanian ships in the Brightcoast Harbor,” he swallowed. “The General came to ask Grandfather for ships.” I sat down on a bench.

“My father,” I said. He sighed and nodded. “My father manages all shipping under your grandfather.”

“Yes,” Tristan said, “he does.” I looked at him.

“This will not look good, for us,” I said. “My family I mean, not you and I. Suddenly, we’re married and Alex and Emily,” he sighed. “But my father is now indispensable to The Old Man.”

“Look at me,” he said, “I don’t care about any of that. I want you with me, I want to marry you, I love you Caro,” I swallowed realizing it was the first time he’d said it out loud. “But it won’t be the same, if you come to Brightcoast. I thought we’d have time to figure out our new life.” I looked at him.

“Are you worried about seeing her again?” I whispered. I realized that’s what was worrying me. He swallowed and cupped my face.

“No,” he said, “I am worried that she’ll hate you though. And then I’ll have to hate her and that’s very complicated.” I kissed him. “You don’t have to come, I could send for you when we go to Dovetail.”

“No,” I said, “I’m coming with you. You aren’t leaving me behind.” He smiled.

“Alright,” he said softly. “You’ll forgive me for not coming over tonight?” I nodded. “You’re wonderful. I’ll come in the morning and bring the general. I’m sure he’ll want to talk to you.” I laughed.

“I look forward to it.” I whispered. He slipped his hands through my hair. “What is it?”

“I lived most of my life in war,” he said, “it was a secret one, but still. I don’t know that I’ll like the open kind any better.” I kissed him softly. I didn’t know what else do. “Being here has been so different and wonderful.”

“I don’t,” I sighed and pressed my forehead to mine. “We’ve talked about me wanting a different life, but if you,” I drifted off. He swallowed and shook his head.

“I didn’t mean that,” he said, “besides, Athena would never forgive me.” I laughed. “Are you alright?” I nodded. “I didn’t want to make a scene, that was right, wasn’t it?”

“Yes,” I giggled, “that was right.” He smiled.

“You’re doing what?” We heard Trey shout from the terrace. Tristan grimaced.

“Well, I think Martin just told him that he’s been involved with Dowager Countess of Pantona,” Tristan sighed. “I didn’t expect him to take it well, but a public outburst is something else.” I smiled. “I said it earlier but I really do apologize. I love him but Martin brings out the absolute worst in The Dumanis.”