the two mrs grenvilles true story
When she reached New York, she made plans to return to Europe.
She did not want to let him know that she had been having him followed by private detectives and wished she had not introduced Simonetta d’Este’s name into the conversation. She looked frightfully common, actually.’ ‘You’ve never liked her…’ said Billy. To her surprise there was no reprimand. ‘The shooting season starts next month. Please go down and greet them. His moods were up; his moods were down. ‘Your eyebrows are hitting what used to be your hairline.’ ‘You don’t mean … ‘There’s your friend Alice coming in.’ ‘She’s such a wonderful woman,’ said Bertie. It was the sort of conversation she liked best, and she settled in for a long chat with her friend.
‘I said, open the safe.’ ‘I cannot, madam.’ ‘I order you to open the safe.’ Mrs Haverstrike suspected her husband of having an affair with Mrs Grenville. ‘Are you aware that Mr Grenville received a telephone call that night?’ ‘I’m not aware of that.’ ‘Did Mrs Grenville throw a drink at Mr Grenville and break some of Mrs Bleeker’s china?’ ‘Goodness, no. Funeral expenses and generous recompense were provided rapidly and quietly, and it was agreed, among the household, that it be unmentioned so as not to cast a pall on the ball. As he lunged for her hungrily, she said, ‘No. There was something about his voice and manner that gave her a feeling of warning and apprehension. ‘I don’t think it’s anything to worry about, Mr Grenville, but I wanted you to know.’ ‘Thank you, Ralph.’ ‘If you’d like, I’ll put your car in the garage for you, and I’ll leave the keys in the kitchen with the new cook.’ ‘Thank you.’ 191 Two Mrs Grenvilles.indd 191 05/03/2009 18:54 d ominick dunne The next morning, Ann Grenville, who usually slept until noon, in troubled Seconal slumber, arose early and appeared in the dining room, to the amazement of her husband and two children.
Only the wine was touched, but its excellence went unheeded. Blood soaked the carpet. ‘You wanted to be on time,’ replied Billy. ‘I need another gilt bergère chair like I need a hole in the head,’ replied Ann. I’ll call Felicity. She went into her room and took off her fur jacket, removing the bag of jewels from the pocket. The door to the room – living room? ‘You go ahead, Mary. The interview was over. You lucked out with this lady, Junior.’ ‘It means more to me than anything that you two like each other,’ said Junior. At some point doubt began to stir within him. ‘It looks hopeless,’ said Billy, about the taxi situation. ‘I wonder what it’s like to live in a pile like that.’ She wondered if he was talking to her as if he assumed that she didn’t know any more about it than he did, and she terminated the momentary cordiality. She shrank back against the yellow-distempered wall, undetected by the others, as if to lose herself in it, and heard her background or lack of it discussed. She felt rage at the lot that life had dealt her and refused to reason that it was she, not life, who had fired the shots that blew off her husband’s head. Watch the television. ‘That’s the day that…’ 155 Two Mrs Grenvilles.indd 155 05/03/2009 18:54 d ominick dunne ‘What day? What do you want to know?’ ‘I have not heard from her.’ ‘There are the preparations for the funeral. ‘I’m deeply sorry for you, for Billy, for the children, for the terrible tragedy that’s happened.’ ‘Too late, Miss Lightfoot,’ she said, meeting his gaze, knowing she had gone too far once more, mocking him at a gender level, finishing forevermore the possibility of resurrecting a friendship that she had once cared about. ‘Detective Kramer?’ ‘What is it?’ ‘There’s children upstairs, and the cook.’ ‘Put Mrs Grenville in her bedroom,’ said Kramer. Yes, she warned me off her, but I sensed that in time, the next day, or the next, she would return to her post by the ship’s rail to stare at the coastline. She thought back on the conversation of the morning. ‘Mrs Percy V. Jordan. She walked into 21 at the height of the lunch hour, without a reservation, in the company of a Spanish couple who were visiting New York. She is a possible suicide, and we think that there should be a nurse sent out from the village to sit with her while the investigation is going on.’ Alice Grenville dialed the telephone again, looking up the number in an address book that she kept by her bed. 79 Two Mrs Grenvilles.indd 79 05/03/2009 18:53 d ominick dunne ‘Is there anything else you would like to ask me?’ she asked, warming to him for his enthusiasm for her powers, noticing in his transformation from despair to ecstasy how extraordinarily handsome he was. Babette claimed that she knew Ann before anyone else in New York knew Ann, and she was very nearly correct. There was no argument that I know of,’ said Kay Kay. ‘It is where I tend to my affairs.’ ‘I’m sorry,’ said Ann simply. And most of all, I do not want my already deeply scarred grandchildren to bear the further shame of growing up with a mother in prison.’ ‘Mère,’ Ann whispered. She was on this night at the peak of her beauty and fame.
‘They have turned you down for membership at Bailey’s Beach, Ann. ‘No one is ever going to claim I trapped him with the old pregnancy routine,’ said Ann to Babette when she related the news to her. He spent his days, when he wasn’t at the beach, where he turned very brown, and swam very well, writing a screenplay on a battered Olivetti about a Cambridge drop-out who worked as a bartender at the Gringo Club in Sardinia at the height of the season. Billy asked for a divorce in 1947, but Ann refused, unwilling to give up her wealth and social status. She walked over to the window, lifted back the glazed-chintz curtain, and looked down on her bare garden below, her terrace stripped of furniture, her shrubs wrapped in burlap for the coming winter. ‘Certainly I do. The activity heightened the adrenaline within her, but the rage she felt had not abated. I mean if it’s a case of general philandering, it’s a more difficult thing to pinpoint.’ ‘I would prefer philandering.
‘I adore the color of your nipples,’ he would say, his face buried.)
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