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When envy and jealousy disrupt the relationship between two sisters…

Janine and Cassandra are two sisters who could not differ more from each other; the former is brilliant, outspoken and lively, while her younger sister is selfish, devious and idle. They have never had rapport, despite being born into the same family. Envy and jealousy, the green-eyed monsters, have poisoned their life since childhood. Growing up has not improved their relationship, quite the opposite, as the pretty and voluptuous Cassandra enjoys inflicting pain on everyone around her, most of all on the ones who love her and feel inclined to help, cosset and protect her. She always gets what she wants, and does not care whether she wrecks her sister’s life and chance for happiness, or disrupt family and friendship ties along the way. Janine even fears that her sister’s sudden return might rob her of the peaceful life she enjoys with a loving and devoted husband and their children. She is now aware that everything started on the day she chose the dragon with jade eyes over the one with the lapis lazuli, she did it to spurn her sister, when their uncle Daniel brought the two statuettes from Hong Kong as a present for his nieces. What she did not know then, is that while making her choice, Janine was already being manipulated by her canny, younger sister…

Uncle Daniel had brought expensive presents from Hong Kong. There was a beautiful silk table cover for Grandma and an intricately carved ivory box for Grandpa’s pipes. Actually, he had not remembered Cassandra and me, but he had been generous in his gifts for my mother and at Grandma’s whispered suggestion he took one of them and handed it to me, saying, ‘Here you are, Jan. Choose the one you like and give the other to Cassie.’The pretty box with its oriental design was very heavy, and I placed it carefully on the table before pulling off the sticky tape around the edges of the lid. Inside, surrounded by masses of filmy shavings, were two golden Chinese dragons, handsome and fierce, sitting proudly upright on weighty bases. They were meant to stand back-to-back as book-ends and were identical with the exception of their huge, bulbous eyes, which were coldly glittering like unpolished jewels. One pair of eyes was an opaque, deep blue and the other a frosted green. They were curious, glaring eyes, sightless yet all-seeing. We stared back at them with delight and wonder, fascinated.
‘Which one are you going to choose, Jan?’ Grandpa asked. ‘Lapis lazuli or jade?’
I glanced at Cassandra. Her shining gaze was fixed upon the dragon with the green eyes. Quickly I put my hand on it and said, ‘This one. I like this one best.’
Cassandra accepted the other without demur. She did not look at me, but the closed expression upon her face as she reached out both hands to grasp the heavy ornament made me certain that, as always, she had got exactly what she wanted.

For further information read the Cronache del Moscardino