Eduardo and Kylie emerged from the main entrance of Notre Dame Cathedral. When they were well clear of the hoards of tourists going in and out, Kylie took a map from her bag and consulted it.
'How are we supposed to choose where to eat?' she said. 'There's so many places, and I can't even understand what their names mean!'
'Too bad you only studied French for one semester,' said Eduardo.
Kylie groaned. 'I was so bad at it!'
'I don't blame you. I wouldn't want to learn another language now. What did you take in high school?'
'German. I wasn't exactly amazing at it, but it was easier than college French. I might remember enough to get by when we're in Cologne – we'll have to wait and see.'
'In the meantime,' said Eduardo, looking over her shoulder at the map, 'maybe I can help. Let's see. La Bouteille d'Or. La Botella de Oro, I assume.'
'The Bottle of Gold. The Golden Bottle.'
'That doesn't tell us much, does it?' said Kylie. 'If anything, it sounds kind of pretentious and expensive.'
'Since we're at Notre Dame,' said Eduardo, 'we should probably either eat at the Réserve de Quasimodo or L'Esmeralda.'
'What's a Réserve?'
'It has to just mean the same kind of thing as “reserve”.'
'That isn't a type of eatery,' Kylie said disapprovingly. 'Let's go to L'Esmeralda. It has a sensible name and it's closer.'
Very soon, they were sitting at a small table in a restaurant with a waiter handing them menus, and Eduardo asking, 'Parlez-vous anglais ou espagnol?'
'Hablo un poco de español, señor,' the waiter replied, and moments later they were chatting away in Spanish about the menu.
Kylie sat back in her chair and tuned out the conversation, doing her best to read the menu herself, until she suddenly caught the sound of some English words being spoken through the babble of French around her. She listened carefully, and looked around for the speaker.
'Shall I order another bottle of Bolly, darling?' the voice was saying, in an English accent.
'Why the hell not?' said another voice, this an American one that made Kylie pause in her search, then abandon it altogether and sink back into her chair.
'Serveur!' called the British voice. 'Une autre bouteille de Bollinger, s'il vous plaît.'
'Jo! Joanna! Jo!' the American voice tittered drunkenly, a few seconds later. 'What's French for, “I'm staying at the Henry the Fourth Hotel, room thirty-six”?' Then the two women dissolved into raucous laughter.
Kylie had almost disappeared under the table when she registered Eduardo saying her name, rather sharply.
She looked up, startled.
'Are you okay?' Eduardo asked anxiously.
'Um,' said Kylie, slithering back onto her seat. 'Yes, of course. What do you want?'
'What do you want?' said Eduardo.
'To eat. Did you make any sense of the menu, or do you need me and Pierre to translate?'
'Oh.' Kylie looked at the menu, which swam before her eyes, and then at Pierre the waiter, who was smiling patiently at her with his mouth but not with his eyes. 'La spéciale, Pierre, s'il vous plaît,' she said clumsily.
'Oui, mademoiselle,' said Pierre, and trotted off.
'Do you know what the special is?' asked Eduardo.
'Not a clue,' said Kylie, 'but I'll eat whatever's put in front of me.'
'Yeah? Grew up in one of those houses, did you?'
'Actually I didn't,' said Kylie, looking furtively around.
'I did,' said Eduardo. 'That's probably why I'm picky now. Are you sure you're okay?'
'I'm fine. I think I'll go to the bathroom.'
She did just that, and when she came out of the bathroom, she spent a few moments staring at the two English-speaking women chortling together over their bottle of Bollinger champagne. She evidently hadn't made up her mind what to do about them when the American one caught sight of her, jumped to her feet and opened her mouth. Before the woman could say anything, Kylie shot between the tables and threw her arms around her.
'Mom, hi, fancy meeting you here,' she said quietly.
Her mother laughed, and said, 'Why are you whispering, sweetheart?'
'Well, we don't want to disturb anybody, do we? Sit down.'
'I will if you will,' her mother said, laughing again, sitting down and gently pulling Kylie with her onto the adjacent chair. 'What are you doing here? You don't look like a vampire anymore! I'm on vacation with Joanna here – she's my best friend in the world!'
'Another one, huh?' said Kylie.
'Jo, this is my daughter Kylie,' her mother went on. 'Sweetheart, what are you doing in Paris?'
'Just taking a well-earned break,' said Kylie. 'You know I graduated in June.'
'Oh of course, sweetheart, congratulations!'
'Jill's told me so much about you, darling girl,' said Joanna, reaching out and grabbing Kylie's arm. 'She's terribly proud. Her little genius, she calls you.'
'My mother has a tendency to exaggerate,' said Kylie, slowly pulling her arm away. 'I'm pretty smart, even by my own admission, but I'm not a genius.'
'But sweetheart, this is such a coincidence!' said Jill. 'Have some of our champagne.'
'Oh no, Mom, I can't – I was just leaving.'
'Oh yes?' said Jill. 'Your special guy waiting somewhere, is he?'
'Oh... no, I'm here by myself. It's just... I have a schedule.'
Jill roared with laughter, much to Kylie's consternation, then turned to Joanna and said, 'Didn't I tell you? So serious! Just like her father. How is Steve these days, sweetheart?'
'Fine,' said Kylie. 'Look, Mom, I have to go.'
'Oh, but you and your mother must get together properly, darling,' said Joanna. 'Wait a moment – I'll give you the number of where we're staying.' She started rummaging around in her bag, and eventually pulled out a crumpled tissue and an eyebrow pencil. 'The extension will put you straight through to our room.'
'Thanks,' Kylie said insincerely, as she took the smoothed-out tissue from the beaming Joanna. 'I'm not here for long, though. Just passing through, really.'
'Are you sure you have enough money for this, sweetheart?' said Jill. 'You must ask me if you need any, Kylie.'
'I don't need your money,' said Kylie, standing up abruptly. 'Goodbye.'
With that, she turned and walked stiffly to the door. Jill and Joanna were not watching her, being intent upon pouring out more champagne, but even so she went to the trouble of leaving the restaurant and walking off a little way. When she came back in, she scurried over to Eduardo so close to the ground that she was almost on all-fours. He stared at her.
'What?' she asked innocently.
'What the hell was that?'
'Nothing. I went to the bathroom.'
'That's not the only place you went. Who were you talking to?'
'Talking to, babe?'
'You were talking to those two women,' said Eduardo. 'And now you're deliberately sitting with your back to them.'
'Of course I'm not,' said Kylie, just as their food arrived. They ate it in silence.
In the evening, Eduardo was sitting on yet another youth hostel double bed, working on his London-themed picture Rubik's cube rather aggressively. When Kylie came in with wet hair and a sponge bag, he did not look up.
'Still sulking?' she said.
He looked up then, scowling. 'Ky, look at it from my point of view. You went to talk to people you clearly knew, went to a lot of trouble to make them think you'd left and then lied about it right to my face. And you expect me to tell you everything!'
'No, not everything. Not if you really don't want to.'
'I wouldn't go to all that trouble to keep something from you. Think how you'd feel if I'd done that.'
Kylie thought about it. Then she sighed heavily, sat on the bed, put her damp head on his shoulder and said, 'I'm sorry, sweetie. I only know one of those women, and I didn't tell you because I didn't want you to meet her.'
'Your mother?' said Eduardo. 'I thought you were kidding when you said we'd probably bump into her in Greece or somewhere.'
'So did I,' Kylie said heavily.
'Why didn't you want me to meet her?'
'Because she was drunk and ridiculous. She is so embarrassing.'
'Everyone's parents are embarrassing. But I can meet her tomorrow or the next day, right?'
Kylie scowled. 'Why do you want to meet my mother?'
'I wanna see what you're gonna turn into,' Eduardo said flippantly, but Kylie obviously didn't think it was funny.
'I will never, ever be like her!' she said.
'Is she that bad?' Eduardo asked, suddenly sounding concerned.
'Oh... no, not if you're starting to worry she abused me or neglected me or something. She's just... frivolous, I guess. She spends her entire life flying around the world, staying in nice hotels and drinking like a fish, and then she wonders why she never has any money. I just wish she'd grow up. And when she sees you...' She tailed off, looking grim.
'That sounded ominous. What'll happen?'
'The kind of thing that could get her arrested if she was a man and you were a woman. It's a disgusting double standard, and it's disgusting generally.'
'Are you sure?' said Eduardo. 'I mean, her daughter's boyfriend and everything.'
'She did it with guys of fifteen I went to high school with.'
'Did what, exactly?'
'Well,' said Kylie, 'nothing physical. You'll see, if you really insist on meeting her. Are you sure you want to?'
'Of course I'm sure.'
'Then I guess I'll call her in the morning before she starts drinking. Better set the alarm for... ooh, six thirty?'
'Was that just a joke?' Eduardo asked. 'Or should we actually be worried about her?'
'It was mostly just a joke,' said Kylie. 'I don't think we need to worry, but I guess I don't see enough of her these days to really know. She never really had a problem before... not as far as I could tell. It's not like I used to come home from school and find her passed out on the couch and the trash can full of bottles or anything. She just likes being ridiculous with her stupid friends over a bottle of wine or five. Look, babe, I don't want you thinking I had some kind of terrible childhood with her. She used to make my dinner and sign my report card and drive me to my dad's every other weekend, and on the weekends I was with her, we used to have fun. But then I grew up and she didn't.'
'Is that why you don't see her much anymore? You grew up away from her?'
'You don't have to make it sound so dramatic. I don't see her much because she's hardly ever in the country, but we keep in touch. I spend Christmases with my dad because she's always somewhere skiing. She wears these brightly-coloured ski suits that were designed for teenagers! It's just so...'
'Why did she and your dad ever get married?' Eduardo asked. 'I mean, I don't know what he was like when he was young, but these days he seems kind of drab and stay-at-home and sensible.'
'He's been like that since I can remember. His weekends were always planned to the minute, but with my mom, we just did whatever we felt like at any given moment. I can't think why they got married. It turned out to be a colossal mistake, anyway.'
'Well, something good came out of it,' said Eduardo, giving her a squeeze. 'Something wonderful.'
'I complain about my mom being too frivolous and my dad being too regimented,' said Kylie. 'Am I unreasonable, sweetie?'
'No. I think it's okay to want something in the middle, especially when you were a kid.'
'That was one good thing about Grandma Rose. You know what grandmas are like... a port in a storm, kind of thing. There were certain things we used to do together, and when I went to see her I knew we'd do some of those things, but there was no rigidity about which ones.'
'You wanna tell me about some of those things?' said Eduardo.
'Well,' said Kylie, snuggling into the crook of his arm, 'there was always some children's classic we were reading, and she had all this junk like jewellery and ornaments and stuff and sometimes I'd pick one or two out and she'd tell me the story behind them, and she was really good at drawing rabbits so what we'd sometimes do was...'
When Eduardo went to take a shower in the morning, Kylie made her way downstairs to the payphone. She put in a few coins, dialled the number on Joanna's tissue, and waited.
'Bonjour!' a woman's responded.
'Is that you, Joanna?' said Kylie. 'It's Kylie. Jill's daughter.'
'Kylie, darling!' said Joanna. 'I'm afraid your mother can't talk to you just now, my lovely. She has a colossal hangover.'
Kylie rolled her eyes, then asked, 'Why don't you have one?'
'Lead-lined stomach, darling,' said Joanna. 'You can make arrangements with me. Do you want to get together?'
'My boyfriend does,' said Kylie.
'I thought you said you were here on your own.'
'I did. I lied.'
'Right, I see. Well, let's all go somewhere nice together. Have you been to the Louvre yet?'
'That's an art museum,' Kylie said, rather aggressively.
'I know that, darling.'
'Jill doesn't know the first thing about art. What could she possibly get out of it?'
'Darling, you don't have to be an expert to enjoy art,' Joanna tittered. 'We'll meet you there at, shall we say, ten o'clock? Have a good look round and then get a spot of lunch?'
'I guess so,' Kylie said dully.
When ten o'clock came, Kylie and Eduardo found themselves among the people sitting round the edge of the fountain just outside the main entrance to the Louvre. In fact it was five past ten when Kylie looked at her watch. She scowled.
'It's so typical of her to be late. She just doesn't care about keeping people waiting.'
'I'm sorry I said I wanted to meet her,' said Eduardo. 'This is ruining your whole day, isn't it? Even more than getting chased by Jack the Ripper.'
Kylie laughed. 'Well, that was only a matter of minutes. We're going to be with my mother at least until after lunch. I'm seriously thinking of saying we have to go catch our bus right after.'
'Bus to where?'
'I have told you the schedule, sweetie. Why are you always asking me what we're doing next?'
'Because I forget,' said Eduardo. 'There's so much of it. We're going to Spain, right? But we aren't going to Barcelona yet.'
'Right,' said Kylie. 'We're going to Logroño first. We'll have a long bus ride, but it'll go through the Pyrenees, so that'll be nice.'
'It'll be nice knowing the language too. I wonder what the dialectical differences are like.'
'Oh, surely no worse than in the UK, and we got along fine there, didn't we?'
'Yeah, but some communication issues came up, and then they understood us better than we understood them.'
'You'll understand the Spanish a lot better than you understand the French,' said Kylie, 'and vice-versa. Oh God, there they are!'
'Have they seen us?' asked Eduardo, looking vaguely around.
'No,' said Kylie.
'You should probably stand up and wave, then.'
'Yeah... I guess.'
Kylie got slowly to her feet, raised her right hand to her ear and jiggled it half-heartedly. Then, with a heavy sigh, she lifted her arm and made a sweeping motion above her head. She saw Joanna tap Jill on the arm and point, then the two women approached. Eduardo stood up with a polite smile on his face.
'Sweetheart!' said Jill, embracing Kylie, then pulling away to look appraisingly at Eduardo. 'Well, well, well – here's a catch! Why did you tell me you were here by yourself, you silly girl?'
Eduardo looked sharply at Kylie.
'Because you always embarrass me when you meet anyone,' said Kylie.
Jill laughed. 'Of course I do, sweetheart – I'm your mother. Well, aren't you going to introduce us?'
'His name's Eduardo,' said Kylie. Then she looked at Eduardo. 'Her name's Jill.'
'It's very nice to meet you, Eduardo,' said Jill, taking Eduardo's proffered hand in both of hers and holding onto it. 'And this is my friend Joanna. She speaks fluent French.'
'That's handy,' said Eduardo, smiling politely at Joanna.
'Ooh, you have a very sexy voice,' said Jill, and Kylie scowled.
'Um, thanks,' said Eduardo, beginning to ease his hand out of Jill's grip.
'Let's go in, lovelies,' said Joanna, shepherding Jill in front of her, then turning and beckoning Kylie and Eduardo to follow them.
'Why did you tell her you were here by yourself?' Eduardo asked quietly as they walked.
'For the reason I told her,' said Kylie. 'Please don't get upset about it, sweetie.'
'I think you should've told her I existed.'
'I'm sorry. It was just a spur of the moment thing. If I'd taken some time to think, I probably would've told her you were there. I mean, she knew you existed – I told her ages ago that I had a boyfriend – but I didn't want her to insist on meeting you right then in the middle of L'Esmeralda. She was being so drunk and loud and stupid, like I told you, and I thought I could get away with not seeing her again until we were all back in the US. But I know I was wrong, and I really am sorry, sweetie!'
'All right, I forgive you,' said Eduardo, putting his arm around her. By this time they were through the doors, and Joanna was speaking to the person on the front desk.
A short while later, the four of them were walking through the Louvre's corridors, Joanna blithely translating signs and Kylie looking tight-lipped as Jill strolled along with her arm through Eduardo's, jabbering away at him and occasionally asking a question.
'She hasn't had many boyfriends,' she was saying. 'She's a beautiful girl, and she has such a good heart, but I think some people find her intimidating. Oh, I don't mean that in a bad way – I wouldn't want her with anybody who's put off by a strong woman. I've tried to teach her to know her own mind and stand on her own two feet. How long have you two been together? No, don't tell me... she mentioned you in an email one Christmas. Unless that was a different man.'
'I hope not,' said Eduardo. 'We got together December ninety-eight.'
'Of course, that was it. Kylie said you worked together. How long did you know each other before you...?' Then she broke off and started giggling. Kylie's scowl deepened.
'Almost two years,' said Eduardo.
'Two years?' said Jill. 'What took so long?'
'You've got to give these things time. I mean, you don't always realise right away, do you?'
'I should think any girl would realise quick enough where you're concerned,' and Jill gave him a suggestive look and a squeeze on the arm.
'Mom!' Kylie said sharply.
'We're coming to le Département des Antiquités Grecques, Étrusques et Romaines,' Joanna cut in, reading from a nearby sign. 'Now, who can translate that?'
'I should think it's the Department of Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities,' said Kylie. Then she looked suddenly horrified, and said, 'Oh, no – some of them will be nude!'
'Sweetheart, you're such a prude!' tittered Jill, as she frogmarched Eduardo into the corridor that housed the collection.
'Don't worry, darling,' said Joanna, hanging back with Kylie. 'Everyone finds their mother embarrassing – it's just part of life.'
'I'm not a prude, Joanna,' said Kylie. 'It's just that she's so immature. When we go in there, she'll be laughing at some sculpted penis or other – I just know it!'
'Let's go and see, shall we?' Joanna said bracingly, taking Kylie's arm and dragging her through the door.
Eduardo and Jill were indeed looking at a nude marble statue. It depicted a lean yet well-muscled man standing by a tree trunk, looking at a climbing lizard.
'He has a girl's hair,' Jill was saying.
'I guess it must've been men's hair back then,' said Eduardo.
'He even has an Alice band.'
'It's very old. That could've been a sign of masculinity for all we know.'
'Well,' said Jill, smirking as her eyes dropped to the statue's genitals, 'if that's the case, he's probably compensating. The men's parts on these classical art things are always very small, aren't they?'
'I hadn't noticed,' said Eduardo.
'Keep walking down this corridor and you'll see,' said Jill, starting to giggle. 'Jo, look at this! Not only is it tiny, but... well, the bells hang lower than the rope, if you know what I mean. That's always a little off-putting, don't you think?'
'Darling,' said Joanna, joining in the laughter, 'I was married for twelve years to a man whose bells hung lower than his rope. We had plenty of problems, but that wasn't one of them.'
Kylie growled, grabbed Eduardo's arm and shepherded him along the corridor, out of earshot.
'I haven't heard you make that noise in months,' he said.
'That statue has to be about three thousand years old!' said Kylie. 'Why can't she show a little respect?'
'If you don't mind me saying so, querida,' said Eduardo, 'I don't think that's the problem. You're mad because your mother is being incredibly immature in front of your boyfriend.'
Kylie sighed, and said, 'Yeah, you're right.'
'It doesn't bother me, but I guess that's no consolation, is it?'
'No, but thank you for trying.'
Eduardo smiled sympathetically and put both his arms around her. A moment later, Jill and Joanna rejoined them.
'I'm sorry, Eduardo,' said Jill. 'I'm not embarrassing you, am I?'
'Embarrassing me?' said Eduardo. 'No, Jill, not at all.'
'Good,' said Jill. 'I should remember not to say things like that in front of men, or at least, men I haven't seen naked. I mean, you never know, do you?'
'Oh my God,' Kylie groaned, her face buried in Eduardo's chest.
'Um,' said Eduardo, beginning to look a little embarrassed now. 'Isn't the Mona Lisa supposed to be somewhere here, or am I completely making that up?'
'No, you're quite right,' said Joanna. 'Excellent point, Eduardo. We must see the Mona Lisa. Come along, troops!'
She grabbed Jill's arm and they went off giggling together. Eduardo gave Kylie a consoling pat on the back, then turned her round and gave her a push in the right direction.
Some time later, the quartet entered a restaurant and Joanna asked a waitress for 'Une table pour quatre, s'il vous plaît.' As the other three took their seats, Kylie said, 'I have to go to the bathroom,' and went.
When she emerged from her toilet cubicle, she found Jill standing by one of the sinks, applying blusher in the mirror. Kylie looked at her suspiciously as she went over to wash her hands.
'You never go to public restrooms by yourself,' she said.
'I'm not by myself,' said Jill, smiling at her. 'Actually, sweetheart, I wanted to talk to you alone.'
'Because I'm your mother. We should talk to each other occasionally.'
'Well,' said Jill, 'here's an opportunity for us to do it again, and I think it's a good idea now that you have a serious boyfriend. It is serious, isn't it?'
'We aren't about to get married or anything,' said Kylie.
'Very sensible, very sensible,' said Jill, nodding sagely. 'But you and he've been together a year and a half. You've even brought him to Paris. He must be special.'
'I told you, didn't I, about confusing lust with love?'
'It's easy to do,' Jill went on, producing a lipstick from her bag and beginning to apply it. 'When you're all wrapped up in a man, and he makes you feel good... you know, the way they can... it's very easy to imagine you're in love with him. But when... well, if you find out you're not, it can be very painful, sweetheart.'
Kylie didn't say anything. She went over to the paper towel dispenser and began to dry her hands.
'I'm speaking generally here,' said Jill. 'I mean, I barely know the boy. I'm just saying, it pays to be cautious. You see, men do know the difference between lust and love and, nine times out of ten, they don't care whether you do or not.'
'Don't you think that's a little sexist?' said Kylie, still drying her hands.
'I don't mean I think he's going to break your heart,' said Jill, 'although he might – I don't know. I don't know what he's really like, and I don't know how you feel about him. Maybe you're the one planning to finish it when you've gotten all you can out of the relationship. I just... don't know,' and she sounded a little sad.
'I'm hungry,' said Kylie. 'Let's go order.'
She led the way back to their table, where Eduardo and Joanna were discussing food in different languages.
'Pomme de terre,' Joanna was saying. 'Apple of the ground, you see?'
'We don't call them that,' said Eduardo. 'It's just patata. And apple isn't even anything like pomme. Or apple, come to think of it. It's manzana.'
'How funny – I wonder why,' said Joanna.
'When you were at school,' said Kylie, sitting down next to Eduardo, 'did they make you hold your nose and eat a piece of raw apple and a piece of raw potato to prove you couldn't tell the difference without your sense of smell?'
'No,' said Eduardo. 'You mean they made you eat raw potato at school?'
'Well, not all the time,' said Kylie, picking up her menu. 'So, Joanna, you'll have to tell us what all of this means.'
'I've ordered a bottle of Bolly,' Joanna said, just as their waitress came over with the bottle. 'Ah, c'est arrivé! Merci, ma chère. Would you like some Kylie?'
'No, thank you,' said Kylie.
'Thanks, I won't,' said Eduardo. 'I'm not really into champagne – never could see what the fuss was about.'
'More for us, darling,' Joanna said to Jill, grinning as she poured them each a glass.
An hour or so later, Jill and Joanna spilled drunkenly out of the restaurant door, followed much more soberly by Eduardo and Kylie.
'I'm gonna tell them we have to go,' said Kylie.
'To catch our bus to Spain?' asked Eduardo.
'I won't lie to her if I can avoid it, but I'm not making any promises.'
Kylie went over to where Jill and Joanna were laughing together, took Jill by the arm and said, 'We have to go now, Mom.'
'Oh, sweetheart, really?' said Jill. 'Wouldn't it be nice to spend the whole day together?'
'Would it?' said Kylie. 'What would we do?'
'Oh, I don't know. We used to have such fun together when you were little. What did we do then?'
'Well... go out for ice-cream on the spur of the moment; get out those filthy old shirts and smear paint on huge pieces of paper; watch Loony Tunes and laugh; jump on the bed...'
'No wonder I used to get through beds,' said Jill. 'My friends used to say I must bring home more men than I let on – they wouldn't believe it was because I jumped on the bed with my little girl.'
'You know I'm not your little girl anymore, Mom,' said Kylie. 'I mean okay, I am in the way that I'll always be your little girl, but in a more accurate way, I'm not.'
'I know,' said Jill. 'But I never found anything my grown-up girl wanted to do with me.'
'Well, I sure don't want to laugh at the wangs on statues, or drink Bollinger until I throw up.'
'Sweetheart, I don't just expect you to do whatever I want to do. I'm the grown-up. If you ever really want me or need me for anything, I'll be there, and if I have to adjust for you then I will.'
Kylie looked sceptical. 'I wish you'd been the grown-up and tried to adjust when you and Eduardo were looking at that statue of Apollo.'
'Oh, sweetheart, I'm sorry,' said Jill.
'Oh, it's okay,' Kylie said with a sigh, and gave her mother a hug. 'And listen, thanks for the advice you gave me in the bathroom. Really. I know you only want me to be happy.'
'Of course I do. Did I upset you? You didn't say much, so I thought perhaps I did. I wasn't trying to say anything specifically about Eduardo, I promise.'
'You didn't upset me,' said Kylie. 'It's just that there wasn't much to say. You've told me all that before, you know, and I've always remembered it. I've been very careful where men are concerned. Maybe even a little too careful.'
'What do you mean?'
'Oh, nothing. I'll email you as soon as I can, okay?'
'I wonder what you'll tell me,' said Jill, with a sad little smile.
'I'll tell you all my doings,' said Kylie, and gave her a kiss on the cheek. 'Bye, Mom. Enjoy the rest of your trip.'
'You too, sweetheart. I love you.'
'I love you too.'
They separated. Jill rejoined Joanna, and Kylie went to link up with Eduardo, who waved goodbye to the two women over his shoulder as Kylie led him away.
'Glad that's over?' he asked.
'Yeah, kinda,' said Kylie. 'It wasn't really that bad. I mean, she was really embarrassing, but I do love her. I just told her that, and I'm glad I did.'
'Yeah, it is. I don't talk to her much about my feelings. I said I'd email her and tell her my doings, but I don't want to tell her my feelings. You know why she followed me into the bathroom? She wanted to give me her standard advice about being careful not to get my heart broken... said things that would make a lot of people angry if they felt about someone the way I feel about you. But I wasn't angry because I knew it came from a good place... or maybe she was hoping I would get angry so I'd scream at her that she was wrong – I don't know. It was like she was inviting me to contradict her... to say I know for sure that I love you and you love me... maybe even tell her about everything we went through before we found it out... but I didn't want to tell her.'
'I can understand that,' said Eduardo.
'Of course you can,' said Kylie, with a wry smile. 'And I can understand how she must've been feeling. She loves me, and she wants us to be close, but we're just not and I don't feel comfortable talking to her about that stuff.'
Eduardo looked at her. 'If you mean I used to make you feel like that...'
'You know you did.'
'But not for long, right? I mean, not for an unreasonably long time after you knew you wanted us to be close?'
'No, not unreasonably long,' said Kylie. 'I don't know... maybe I should try and open up to her more. If you can do it, surely I can.'
'Only do it if you want to,' said Eduardo. 'I wanted to. You know that, right?'
She smiled. 'Yes, I know that. I guess it's not the same, though, is it? I mean, she's my mother and I'm your girlfriend.'
'Of course it's not the same,' said Eduardo. 'No two relationships anywhere in the world are the same.'
'Oh, now you're just trying to be clever,' said Kylie, nudging him playfully in the ribs.
'I am not – I'm being profound!'
'I didn't lie to her about catching the bus, anyway.'
'Good girl,' said Eduardo, putting his arm around her and pulling her to him as they approached the Eiffel Tower.