Mattie is about to miss the Sentinel’s first port in Rome, so Genya takes her up to the Promenade deck so she can see it. The problem? Mattie’s horribly afraid of being on the airship and has been remedying her crippling phobia by avoiding views out the windows.
She shut her eyes before the view of Rome appeared. A few steps later, Genya stopped and said, “What do you think?”
Mattie inhaled deeply. Just open your eyes for a second, say it’s wonderful, and then go back inside. She cracked her eyes open and was momentarily blinded by the early morning light. She squinted against the glare, and then a golden cupola came into focus. More of the city appeared as her eyes adjusted—peach-colored stucco buildings with bronze roofs; spires of glass and metal; majestic columned palaces; enormous statues of gods and monsters—and she found that she couldn’t inhale. The city of Rome stole her breath away.
Mattie and Genya have a conversation about Frankenstein; Or, The Modern Prometheus, and Genya attempts a joke. A little bit is lost in translation.
To her surprise, Genya reached out and grasped her hand in his. He jumped and clenched her fingers. “Matilda, you must be dead! You did not electrocute me!”
For a second and a half, she thought he was making fun of her. Ridiculing her. Like Frederick would have done. He would have made a comment about avoiding bathing or swimming, and then would have laughed in her face and said something like, “The ideas in your head. Oh dear.”
Mattie has just enjoyed a nearly-silent breakfast with the Cavendish family. The menfolk have vacated the room, leaving just Mattie and her nearly-mother-in-law. Mrs. Cavendish is a little bit drunk.
Mrs. Cavendish cocked her head. “Oh, liebchen, I’m not going anywhere. Not until I’ve had another drink.”
Mattie tapped the side of the empty wine glass. “There’s no more alcohol, Mrs. Cavendish.”
The older woman leaned forward and winked. “There is always more alcohol.” She leaned away and lifted a flask up, pulling it from nowhere, like a magician with a dove. She cackled as she unscrewed the cap and took a long draught.
Mattie has just arrived at her fiance’s home for the first time, and she’s having serious second thoughts.
Her eyes darted to the vacant driver’s seat. She could crawl over the divider and be gone before anyone realized what was happening. She’d never driven a car before, but how hard could it be?
Before she could move toward the steering wheel and freedom, the door on her side opened. Frederick stooped and smiled at her, handsome even without a tuxedo on. He wore a single-breasted jacket with a blue tie and a white shirt beneath. The jacket was unfastened at the topmost button, allowing his vest to peek out: a deeper blue to complement the lighter tie.
When she didn’t move, he said, “Are you coming out?”
Tell me what you think! And if you’re so inclined, you can head over to dieselpunks.org and check out the #8ss group there.