17.18 Juliet Blackwell The Paris Key

ISBN 13: 9780451473691

The Paris Key

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9780451473691: The Paris Key

An American in Paris navigates her family’s secret past and unlocks her own future, in this emotionally evocative novel by New York Times bestselling author Juliet Blackwell.

As a girl, Genevieve Martin spent the happiest summer of her life in Paris, learning the delicate art of locksmithing at her uncle’s side. But since then, living back in the States, she has become more private, more subdued. She has been an observer of life rather than an active participant, holding herself back from those around her, including her soon-to-be-ex-husband.

Paris never really left Genevieve, and, as her marriage crumbles, she finds herself faced with an incredible opportunity: return to the magical city of her youth to take over her late uncle’s shop. But as she absorbs all that Parisian culture has to offer, she realizes the city also holds secrets about her family that could change her forever, and that locked doors can protect you or imprison you, depending on which side of them you stand.

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About the Author:

Juliet Blackwell is the New York Times bestselling author of the Witchcraft mysteries (A Vision in VelvetTarnished and Torn) and the Haunted Home Renovation mysteries (Keeper of the CastleHome for the Haunting). This is her first work of women’s fiction. She lives in California.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One

Her uncle Dave always used to say, “Remember the locksmiths’ code, Genevieve. Never reveal the secrets you find behind locked doors, and never—ever!—abuse the power to open a lock.”

Genevieve pondered this morsel of advice while Jason, her soon-to-be-ex-husband, spoke.

Uncle Dave had been on her mind a lot lately. For one thing, she kept dreaming about kneeling before a locked door, hearing his ever-patient voice in her ear as she tried repeatedly (and unsuccessfully) to pick the lock. For another, her uncle’s recent death had left her with a hollow feeling: sorrow mixed with regret.

Dave’s passing also left his Parisian locksmith shop unattended.

“I’ve never met a person as locked down as you are,” Jason was saying as he leaned back against the stainless-steel Sub-Zero refrigerator (wide enough for party platters) that cost as much as Genevieve made in a month. His stance was belligerent—hands on hips, gym-toned chest thrust forward—but his liquid blue eyes conveyed contrition mixed, annoyingly, with a touch of self-conscious pity. “How can you even think of moving to Paris while we’re in the middle of this? There are papers to sign, and lawyers to meet with.”

“Sounds like the perfect time to leave the country,” she said, “you have to admit.”

“Be reasonable, Genie.”

She winced. Yet another reason to move to Paris: The French knew how to pronounce her name. Genevieve. Not Jenny or Genie or even Jen-a-veev, but Zhohn-vee-ev. Was it any wonder her marriage hadn’t worked out? That’s what she got for marrying a man who couldn’t—or wouldn’t—say her name properly. But he wasn’t the only one; even her best friend, Mary, called her by her surname: Martin.

All things considered, Genevieve decided, it was her mother’s fault. They weren’t French, after all. Her mother had spent a few weeks visiting her brother in Paris the year before Genevieve was born; a framed photo had rested on her bureau: Angela and Dave, him smiling and goateed, her with wind-whipped hair. The two of them were bookended by gargoyles high atop the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, the city laid out in the background. But was that one trip abroad reason enough for her parents to saddle their daughter with such a hard-to-pronounce name?

“It’s not as though I planned my uncle’s death,” Genevieve said, consciously trying to accede to Jason’s wishes, to be reasonable. “Someone needs to go tend to things.”

“He has a daughter, doesn’t he? Let her take care of it.”

“Catharine doesn’t know the first thing about locks.”

“And you do, don’t you? Sometimes I think that’s all you care about.”

Out of habit, she reached up to play with the rusty key that had hung on a copper chain around her neck ever since her mother’s untimely death, when Genevieve was fourteen. To modern eyes it looked nothing at all like a key. More like a hunk of rusted metal.

Around here, often, this key put people in mind of the Oakland hills conflagration, the wildfire that ate through hundreds of splendid homes and claimed twenty-five souls. In the smoldering aftermath, heartbroken owners went back to sift through the rubble, collecting items from their former homes that they would later incorporate into shrines: twisted slabs of glass, slumped shards of metal, half-burned albums with a few miraculously intact photographs of Grandma.

And keys: some twisted and charred, others still jingling in pockets, ready to open doors that no longer existed.

Years later, having rebuilt with better, treeless views of San Francisco, homeowners displayed these fragments of their old lives in niches, or hung them by fishing line from pieces of gray driftwood. While sipping cocktails they would retell the story: the unseasonably warm day, the shifting winds, the panicked warnings to evacuate. They would speak of wrangling cats and grabbing heirlooms and locating passports; of fleeing down the snakelike turns of hillside roads, a wall of black smoke at their backs. They would think, but not say aloud, that it was unfair that their beautiful homes should have blazed in the inferno while the rest of Oakland—much of it due for a good burning—had remained intact.

The key Genevieve wore around her neck had nothing at all to do with the Oakland hills fire, but she let her neighbors assume it did. It was easier that way. All she had to say was “the fire,” and people nodded and looked away. They treated her with hushed tones, allowed her to avoid their eyes.

“Genie, are you even listening to me?”

“Tell you what,” Genevieve said. “I’ll make this easy: All I want is a ticket to Paris and enough money to take over my uncle’s locksmith shop. You can keep the rest.”

Suspicion clouded Jason’s beautiful eyes.

Genevieve had always thought herself smarter than her husband, her mind able to make quick logical leaps that evaded him. Still, he was much more successful than she. Jason was in software sales. He wooed his clients with truffles made from organic free-trade cocoa, hand rolled in powdered sugar by single mothers at a women’s collective in Berkeley. Jason felt virtuous when he bought these chocolates, the clients felt good about eating them, and, fueled by sugar and caffeine, they placed software orders in record numbers. “It’s a win-win,” was one of Jason’s favorite phrases, and he lived by that credo. But then, fate had been kind to him: Tall and well built, with light brown hair and blue eyes, he worked out religiously, dressed fashionably, and had a knack for remembering names. Nothing in Jason’s experience had suggested that life was anything other than a series of mutually beneficial relationships. Win-win.

What business had someone like Genevieve, she wondered for the hundredth time, had marrying a lighthearted optimist?

A thick sludge covered the bottom of her coffee cup. A freebie from a fund-raiser luncheon, the mug was the perfect size and weight, and she relished the way the palm of her hand cradled it, telegraphing the warmth of its contents to her blood in the mornings. Because although their house was expensive, it was old and drafty and always cold, built in a stand of redwoods on a hill overlooking Oakland and the San Francisco Bay. On a clear day an astute viewer might catch a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge, an earthy shade of Tuscan red gleaming in the sunshine. But clear days were rare. The house was engulfed by fog most mornings and by clouds most afternoons, and the soaring trees reached up into the haze and dripped dew onto the roof, the water tap-tap-tapping in a steady cadence that Genevieve found pleasant but Jason did not.

Genevieve knew Jason would have preferred to toss her old chipped mug into the trash in favor of the creamy bisque coffee set he had bought in a tiny Italian boutique in San Francisco’s North Beach not long after they married and moved into the house with the blue door. “It’s called Bianco de Bianco,” Jason had said, showing off the ceramics to their guests as they lingered over after-dinner coffee. “You mean ‘white’?” Mary had asked in her signature dry tone. Genevieve had snorted; then, in penance, had remarked upon the set’s simple, refined beauty. That was back when she had been careful to protect her husband’s feelings, his pride. Not anymore.

Clearly this marriage is no longer mutually beneficial. Genevieve wondered whether the woman Jason had been seeing, Quiana, found their affair a win-win.

“Are you serious?” Jason asked, looking at Genevieve out of the corner of his eye. “All you want is a locksmith shop?”

“Maybe I’ll take this cup, too.”

She could almost make out the sound of wheels grinding as Jason considered her offer, searching for the catch. “How much are we talking? What’s a locksmith shop in Paris worth?”

Priceless. “I’m not sure. I’ll need to speak with my cousin Catharine and figure out the details. For the moment, I just want the plane ticket.”

“Genie . . .” Jason’s voice dropped, becoming gentle, earnest. “What in the world are you going to do in Paris? You’re a copy editor, not a locksmith.”

“Suddenly you’re a fan of my copyediting?”

“At least it’s a real job. Locksmithing is a . . . a dream. A childhood memory.”

His words sent Genevieve’s mind tripping over the memory of all the locks she had mastered at her uncle’s side: the double-ball padlock and dimple devices she practiced on until she was ready for Schlage’s side pin. She could hear their soft clicks and whirs in her mind, drowning out Jason’s words.

“Genie . . . you don’t have to do this. We could see a marriage counselor, work things out. How many times do I have to say it? It was a mistake. I’m sorry. It didn’t mean anything; it just happened. . . .” He trailed off, shook his handsome head. Remembered what his life coach told him about being a man and taking responsibility. “No, that’s not right. No excuses. I’m so sorry I hurt you, Genie.”

Genevieve continued searching the contents of her coffee cup without responding.

Here was the truth: Deep down she didn’t care. She was using Jason’s affair as a reason to demand the separation, but it was the very fact that she couldn’t get herself to care that made her realize they should divorce. When they first met, she had been dazzled by Jason’s straightforward, sunny disposition; now she found it stifling, exhausting. Unbearable. Jason was not a bad man. He needed something from his partner that Genevieve could not give; must he be condemned for that? And yet, publicly, she did place the blame on him, citing his affair, feigning heartbreak, taking the easy way out. Allowing people to make assumptions, just as they did about the key she wore around her neck.

She reached up to brush her fingers along the rusty talisman, warm from her skin.

Genevieve had found the key while cleaning out her mother’s lingerie drawer, not long after she died. It had been swathed in Bubble Wrap, in an airmail package.

With it was a note written in a spidery, all-caps scrawl: YOU HOLD THE KEY.

It was postmarked Paris.

Chapter Two

1997

The uncle she had never met picked her up at Charles de Gaulle Airport, which she learned the locals called Roissy. They drove toward Paris in the smallest car Genevieve had ever seen, past hulking blocks of cement buildings that made up dismal housing projects and industrial sites. At long last they exited the thruway and began inching through thick traffic in the streets of Paris. Ominous skies were drizzling more than raining: a sluggish, lugubrious wetting. Parisians hunched over in their coats and boots, collars turned up, wielding umbrellas like weapons on the crowded sidewalks.

Everything, from the darkening sky to the balconied buildings to the trash in the street, was some dreary shade of gray. Why did people speak of this city with such adoration? Her mother always used to refer to Paris as “the City of Lights,” her voice taking on a rare reverential tone when she spoke of it.

“How was your trip?” asked Uncle Dave as they drove.

Genevieve shrugged in response, not wanting to look at him.

Dave was an old man, Genevieve had realized with a shock when she first set eyes on her uncle in the airport. He had a full head of white hair and a Don Quixote–style goatee, and he walked with a limp. At more than twenty years her mother’s senior, Dave seemed more grandfather than uncle. According to family lore, a teenaged Dave had come to Paris to help rebuild after World War II, fell in love with a Frenchwoman named Pasquale, married, and never returned.

At the airport, he had stood outside of customs holding up a hand-lettered sign, black ink on bright red paper: GENEVIEVE MARTIN, WELCOME!

Her Air France escort, who had been tasked with making sure Genevieve didn’t somehow become lost on the nonstop flight from San Francisco, was an elegant, slender blonde who filled out her uniform perfectly and called Genevieve “sweetheart” in English with a lilting, melodic accent. Genevieve had hated her on sight and throughout the twelve-hour journey answered her gracious condescension with sneers and eye rolls.

Upon spying Dave’s sign the flight attendant gave Genevieve’s uncle a frosty nod and handed her charge over to him without a word, disappearing behind doors clearly marked: DÉFENSE D’ENTRER. No admittance.

Despite her attempts to alienate the attendant throughout the flight, Genevieve felt a pang of abandonment as she watched the woman go. Glancing up at the smiling old man with the sign, Genevieve thought, He could be anyone. He had shown no documentation, after all. And he didn’t look much like the old photo on her mom’s bureau. What if he was some creepy French child molester who’d read her name on a list somewhere and decided to pick up an “unaccompanied minor” to do awful things, the kinds of crimes spoken of in whispers?

Genevieve wished her brother, Nick, were here, or her dad. Uncle Dave had invited them all to come; Genevieve had overheard his boisterous voice on speakerphone, declaring that Paris could cure heartache. Her father and brother claimed they were too busy with the farm, but they booked a flight for Genevieve, whether she wanted to go or not. Probably glad to be rid of her, she thought.

“Did you eat on the plane?” Dave asked as they drove.

Genevieve shrugged again. Still, she was relieved he spoke English. She hadn’t been entirely sure he would but had been too embarrassed to ask. Her mother, Angela, had told stories about her Parisian brother over the years, and Genevieve had a vague sense that he might be the reason she was saddled with a name that was so difficult to spell, but she hadn’t really put all the pieces together. But now she realized that, like her mother, Dave had been born and raised in Mississippi. He even spoke with a slight drawl, reminding her of home. Of her mom.

Her dead mom.

She felt the hot prickle of tears behind her eyes. Threatening, humiliating. Genevieve had come up with a trick to keep them at bay: She bit her tongue and imagined peppermint candy, the red-striped disks she used to steal from her neighbor’s candy dish. The metallic tang of blood let her know she’d bit too hard. Not for the first time.

“Well, I hope you’re hungry,” Dave continued, unfazed by her sullen silence. “Because Pasquale’s a great little cook. One thing about living in France, you eat well. Hey—you like croissants?”

She shrugged again.

“You tellin’ me you’ve never had a croissant for breakfast? How about a pain au chocolat? No? Why, you’re in for a treat, darlin’.”

“We eat whole grain at home.”

“Oh, well, that’s commendable. But a genuine Parisian pain au chocolat . . .” He trailed off with a chuckle and a shake of his head.

“Is it breakfast time?” Genevieve asked.

“Oh no, it’s almost suppertime. The croissants will be for tomorrow morning. We’ll take a walk, see the neighborhood. You’ll love it.”

She gazed out the foggy window. It was rush hour and the streets were jammed; pedestrians made swifter progress than the cars.

“This corner m...

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Descripción Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2015. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. An American in Paris navigates her family s secret past and unlocks her own future, in this emotionally evocative novel by New York Times bestselling author Juliet Blackwell. As a girl, Genevieve Martin spent the happiest summer of her life in Paris, learning the delicate art of locksmithing at her uncle s side. But since then, living back in the States, she has become more private, more subdued. She has been an observer of life rather than an active participant, holding herself back from those around her, including her soon-to-be-ex-husband. Paris never really left Genevieve, and, as her marriage crumbles, she finds herself faced with an incredible opportunity: return to the magical city of her youth to take over her late uncle s shop. But as she absorbs all that Parisian culture has to offer, she realizes the city also holds secrets about her family that could change her forever, and that locked doors can protect you or imprison you, depending on which side of them you stand. Nº de ref. de la librería AAS9780451473691

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Descripción Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2015. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. An American in Paris navigates her family s secret past and unlocks her own future, in this emotionally evocative novel by New York Times bestselling author Juliet Blackwell. As a girl, Genevieve Martin spent the happiest summer of her life in Paris, learning the delicate art of locksmithing at her uncle s side. But since then, living back in the States, she has become more private, more subdued. She has been an observer of life rather than an active participant, holding herself back from those around her, including her soon-to-be-ex-husband. Paris never really left Genevieve, and, as her marriage crumbles, she finds herself faced with an incredible opportunity: return to the magical city of her youth to take over her late uncle s shop. But as she absorbs all that Parisian culture has to offer, she realizes the city also holds secrets about her family that could change her forever, and that locked doors can protect you or imprison you, depending on which side of them you stand. Nº de ref. de la librería AAS9780451473691

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