The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles

The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles by Katherine Pancol Read Free Book Online

Book: The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles by Katherine Pancol Read Free Book Online
Authors: Katherine Pancol
Gabor Minar behind and married Philippe.
    Gabor . . . Gabor . . . He was so tall . . . Long legs, rough language.
    “Iris, please, listen to me. Iris, I love you, and it’s not for fun, it’s for real. For real, Iris.” When he said her name, it sounded like “Irish” because of the way he rolled his r’s.
    Joséphine told her that the twelfth-century marriage motto was “With and under him.” Iris wanted to roll right under Gabor.
What’s become of him?
she wondered.
    Sometimes she fell asleep picturing Gabor ringing her doorbell and sweeping her up in his arms. She would give it all up for him: the cashmere shawls, the prints, the drawings, the paintings. She would run away with him.
    But then two little numbers would puncture her fantasy: 44. She was forty-four years old. Her dream was shot.
It’s too late now
, she told herself.
I’m married and I’ll stay married. But I need a backup plan in case Philippe goes completely nuts and runs off with his young man.
    Iris sighed. She would have to practice pretending—starting now.

    Joséphine was relieved that she wouldn’t need to take the bus and make the two transfers to get to her sister’s. Antoine had left the car for her. She hardly ever drove, and it felt strange to get behind the wheel. She’d forgotten the code for the garage exit gate, and was rummaging in her purse for the notebook where she had jotted it down.
    “It’s two-three-one-five, Mom.”
    “Thanks, Hortense honey.”
    Antoine had called the night before and spoken to the girls. Zoé first, then Hortense. After passing the phone to her sister, Zoé came into her mother’s room, where Joséphine was reading. The girl lay down beside her on the bed, sucking her thumb and hugging her teddy bear. After a long silence, Zoé sighed and said, “There are things I don’t understand about life, Mommy. It’s even harder than school.”
    Joséphine felt like telling her that she didn’t understand much about life, either. But she held her tongue.
    “Mommy, tell me Queen Eleanor’s story,” she said, snuggling even closer. “How she married two kings and ruled over two countries at the same time.”
    “Should I start at the beginning?”
    “Tell me about her first wedding.”
    “That day, all of Bordeaux rejoiced,” Joséphine began, her words filling the room like a Christmas story. “On the embankment, Louis VII waited with his noblemen while Eleanor of Aquitaine finished getting ready in the Chateau de l’Ombrière. . . .” Soothed by Joséphine’s voice, Zoé soon fell asleep.
    Hortense had remained on the phone with her father for a long time, then gone straight to bed without coming in to kiss her mother good night.
    “I suggest we not talk about Daddy’s leaving during dinner,” Jo told the girls in the car.
    “Too late,” replied Hortense. “I already told Henriette.”
    The girls called their grandmother by her first name because Henriette Grobz refused to be called “Grandma” or “Grandmother,” which she thought vulgar.
    “Oh, God! Why did you do that?”
    “Let’s get real, Mom. If anyone can help us, she can.”
    She has Marcel’s money on her mind
, Jo thought. Two years after the death of Joséphine and Iris’s father, Henriette had married Marcel, a very rich, very kind man. He had helped Henriette raise her daughters. He paid for their private schooling, the rent on the Paris apartment, and the chalet in Megève.
    “And what did she say?” Jo asked.
    “That it didn’t surprise her. That it was a miracle that you’d found yourself a husband, but that for you to keep him would have been beyond belief.”
    “Hortense! That’s enough! You didn’t give her any details, I hope?”
    The moment Joséphine asked the question, she wondered why she had bothered. Of course Hortense had gone into the details, all of them: Mylène’s age, height, hair color, what she did for a living. Hortense had probably laid it on thick, to gain sympathy

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