Audra Crowther sat on the sofa in the living room of her daughter’s Manhattan penthouse. She held herself tensely and clenched her hands together so hard that the knuckles shone white as she looked from her daughter Christina to her granddaughter Kyle.
The two younger women stood in the middle of the room, their faces pale, their eyes blazing as they glared at each other. Their angry words of a few minutes ago still reverberated on the warm afternoon air.
Audra felt helpless. She knew that to remonstrate with them, to attempt to make them see reason, was a waste of time, at least at this moment. Each was convinced she was right, and no amount of persuasion would make them reverse their positions or endeavour to understand the other’s point of view.
Even their clothes were like uniforms, underscoring their intrinsic differences, further separating them. Blue jeans and sneakers for Kyle, the white Swiss voile shirt her only concession to style, the combination giving her an oddly vulnerable, childlike look, with her scrubbed face and long hair hanging loose. And for Christina, an expensive, beautifully cut dress and tailored jacket of matching raw silk, without doubt bearing her own couture label; the silver-grey of the silk the perfect foil for her chestnut hair shot through with reddish-gold lights, the grey also emphasizing her lovely smoky eyes which had always been her best feature. She was slender, impeccably groomed, and not showing her forty-seven years in the least.
Tycoon versus student… role model versus rebel… mother versus daughter, Audra thought, smothering a sigh. Well, it wasn’t the first time a mother and daughter were at odds with each other; that was an age-old conflict.
Suddenly Kyle broke the protracted silence when she snapped, ‘And there’s another thing, Mother. You had no right to drag poor Grandma into this débâcle, drag her all the way from England, especially since—’
‘I didn’t!’ Christina shot back. ‘It was your father who telephoned my—’
‘Oh yes, go on, blame Dad,’ Kyle cut in, her voice scathing.
‘But it was your father who phoned my mother,’ Christina protested. She appealed to Audra. ‘Isn’t that so, Mummy?’
Audra focused her attention on her granddaughter. ‘That’s quite true, Kyle.’
Kyle tossed back her mane of black hair, then thrust her hands in the pockets of her jeans, her movements brusque, defiant. Her huge brown eyes, usually doe-like and soft, flashed rebelliously. ‘I suppose he thought we needed a mediator. Well, we don’t… there’s nothing to mediate—’ She brought herself up short, swung her long-limbed body towards Audra and gave her a wan half smile. ‘Sorry, Grandma, I don’t mean to be rude to you, but you shouldn’t have been forced to travel half-way around the world just because my parents have discovered they can’t influence me, or handle me any more.’ Kyle let out a laugh that was abnormally harsh. ‘You see, the trouble is that my parents treat me like a child, Grandma. Anyone would think I’m nine years old, not nineteen, for God’s sake, the ridiculous way they’re carrying on.’