“Let me start off by saying how sorry I am, it must be really hard for you, going through this divorce. If there’s anything -” I cut off my high priced lawyer mid sentence. I wasn’t interested in the niceties.
“You can drop the concerned lawyer act. You want to make money, I want to make money. Lets just work together and take my husband for every penny he’s got.” She stared at me for a long while after I spoke, probably trying to figure me out.
It was when the smile spread across her face and she said, “Lets take the bastard down.” That I knew I had picked the right person for the job. I proceeded to tell her all about the marriage, leaving out the parts about me withholding sex of course. “How much are you looking for? Ballpoint.”
“I want 100 million.” I said with conviction. I didn’t actually know how much the Elphinstones had, but I knew that they were loaded. 100 million would be fine, I deserved it.
“What?!” She threw her arms up in the air, “100 mil? You really think he’s gonna pay you that amount of money?”
“He will once I show him these.” Fishing around in my Mulberry I pulled out the dossier I had taken from the investigators house, and watched the realisation dawn on her face as she flicked through the pages. “Still don’t think I can get it?” I asked, smiling at her and rubbing my hands together in anticipation of how rich I would soon be.
“Olive, this is a question I don’t usually ask,” She began, pulling her chair around so she was next to me, “but what do you really want out of this divorce? Is it purely for financial gain, as I first thought, or is it something else. I’m happy to help you either way,” I should think so, that’s what I was paying her for! “but I’m just curious.”
It was an understandable question for sure, and one I had held the answer to since I first spoke to Max when I was working at the bar. “I just want what any girl wants,” I gave her a long, penetrating look; I had to get her on my side. “to be free.”
“Anyway I must go.” I said as I stood up and glanced at my new Cartier watch (a parting gift on Maxs credit card – as were the Harry Winston diamonds at my ears) “I have an appointment at Nicky Clarke.”
“Yes, of course. I’ll call you when I’ve set up a meeting with his lawyers.” She began leafing through a huge folder covered in stick-notes before she looked up at me, “He does know, doesn’t he?”
* * *
Emerging from Nicky Clarke 3 hours later I felt like my old self again.
Now that I was free of Max I could shed the past – including Reena’s makeover. I had finally washed all the reminders of Miami off of me, well, except for the obvious one. As much as I tried not to think about it, I knew it would never leave me. I had booked myself into a spa for the rest of the day, but making my way down the street my plans were washed away by a phonecall.
‘Ellis’, read the screen, my lawyer.
“What is it?” I asked, still making my way down the busy street.
“Olive? Thank god you answered, I’ve been ringing you for the past hour. Everyone’s waiting, I just contacted Max’s lawyers and they came in for an immediate sit down. Get back to my office, now!” Quickly I called my driver, and safely enclosed in the limo I wondered why they wanted the meeting so soon, maybe they just wanted to get it out of the way. Max must have been shocked when he found out, I hadn’t even told him I was divorcing him, he must have thought everything was fine, and that I didn’t know all about his little extra curricular activities.
“So sorry I’m late.” I said as I quickly sat down next to Ellis in the conference room, across from Max and his obscenely overpaid lawyer, Randal Fairclough.
“Okay, we can begin.” Randal said, straightening the cuffs of his whiter than white shirt beneath the pinstripe suit. “In the case of Maxwell Elphinstone vs Olivia Elphinstone we are prepared to go with an opening offer of 1 million dollars. Quite a fair settlement for such a short marriage, with no probable cause for divorce.”
“Ridiculous!” Ellis exclaimed, throwing her hands in the air. “With the wealth of the Elphinstone family, and the fact that my client will be a single mother supporting two children once this divorce is finalised, we are pushing for a considerably higher settlement.”
As the two lawyers went at it me and Max resorted to staring at each other across the table. His face was impassive, I didn’t know what he was thinking, but I wasn’t going to be the first to look away.
“I like your hair.” He said suddenly, interrupting the staring match we had been going at for 10 minutes. I didn’t reply, just smiled weakly, tilting my head slightly and gazing across the expanse of glass at him.
He was handsome, but it was his money that was his appeal. He had no force to him, no driving ambition behind his millions, it had all just fallen into his lap. Elphinstone Diamond had been passed through the family for generations, and was overseen by a board of directors who never let things get out of control. Even his mother had more force in her than him, at least she had fire inside of her. She was probably the one who put Max’s out.
“No probable cause for divorce? Take a look at these.” I heard Ellis shout, sliding the dossier across the table. Max with his secretary. Max with his masseuse. Max with his favourite waitress at the local restaurant. Men were such pigs, I was going to take every penny off him. Although I was only 23 I had learnt that men couldn’t be trusted, ever. They could take care of you financially, entertain you sexually, but you should never trust them, they would always hurt you. Granted I had driven Max to other women purposely, but if he had really loved me he wouldn’t have done it at all.
“100 million?!” Randal shouted in shock, “that’s preposterous, extra marital affairs are nothing knew, and certainly not worth 100 million!”
“Does your client really want a scandal like this getting out?” Ellis asked smoothly, leaving Randal fuming. “Olive? Are you okay?” She asked, looking over her shoulder at me as she noticed the locked eyes of me and Max. I was still looking at him, why couldn’t men just be good?
I didn’t answer, and she was quickly distracted by more bullshit from Randal’s mouth.
“Why are you doing this Olivia?” Max whispered slowly, his face a mixture of anger and sadness. Why was I doing this?! Was he being serious, could he not see the photos?
“They’re offering 50. Olive!” Ellis said, snapping me out of my daze. I wasn’t going to answer Max, he knew fine well why I was doing this.
“100.” I told Randal with conviction. I wasn’t taking 50, it would hardly get me anywhere.
“Pah!” He threw his hands up in the air in frustration, “we are not prepared to offer that. If we can’t settle this here we’ll have to take it to court.”
“Fine by us.” Ellis told him as she gathered her things together. “Don’t worry, the judge will side with you, you’re the cheated woman with two children to support whose done nothing wrong.” She whispered into my ear, patting my shoulder and clicking her heels off down the hallway, followed quickly by Randal and Max, leaving me alone to muse over the situation. Would I really win if this case went to court? I’d make a few calls, try and make sure I had a sympathetic judge, dress myself demurely in a pastel colour, take off all my makeup, maybe pull my hair back into braids…
“Hello Olivia.” said a voice from behind me, jolting me out of my plan.
“Randal just filled me in on your demands. 100 million? Ambitious to say the least.” Elizabeth said cooly, moving across the room to gaze out of the windows of the high rise building to the city beneath. “I’ll give you 60 million, and you won’t need to go to the press about my sons… indiscretions.”
“100 million Elizabeth. A judge would give me that for sure.” I said bluntly. Her being here just proved how much more fire she had than Max, he would never have dared to negotiate with me without the aid of a lawyer.
“Don’t be so sure, you may walk out of the court with even less than 50 million, depending what mood the judge is in. Think about it, are you willing to risk millions of dollars on the hope that the judge will side with you?” She still faced the window, giving her a sinister twist not suited to the pink suit which she was wearing.
What she was saying made sense, if Max’s lawyer was so well paid he was sure to be a skilled negotiator in court, and if he could make the case that I had purposely withheld sex in order to catch Max in a compromising position… it didn’t bare thinking about. The only way out of that situation would be to bring up my past, and that was something I wasn’t willing to do.
“Make it 90.” I told her, suddenly deciding that she was right; this was the best way.
“I’m glad to see you’ve come to your senses.” She finally turned around and faced me as she spoke.
“Ill give you 70. I hope you realise how much money this is Olivia, I’m not going up from 1000 to 2000 here, I’m adding 10 million dollars. Take it.” She was smooth as she spoke, her voice never raising even an inch, only dripping with venom.
“Make it 75 and we have a deal. And I hope you realise I’m knocking 25 million,” I repeated her words, “off my original total.”
“Ah Olivia, you drive a hard bargain, I always knew you were a little money grabbing tart.” She gave me a half smile and tapped her drummed her fingers on the table as she thought about my offer.
“You have a deal. You know,” she said as she fished around in her bag, “you’re lucky you had a boy, if it was a girl I’d be offering you about half of this. And I wouldn’t budge.” She put two contracts down in front of me, one was a confidentiality agreement, that basically said I couldn’t mention the fact that I’d caught Max with several other women, and I couldn’t disclose the amount of money I received in the settlement. The other was the actual divorce paper, all I had to do was sign.
“If that money isn’t transferred to my bank in the next 48 hours,” I said before I signed, “then I’ll call every newspaper in Europe and tell them all about Max, I’ll give interviews on every show that will take me and I’ll drive your families name into the ground. Understood?” My pen flew across the page in a blur. I was officially a divorcée.
* * *
Pacing up and down the private lounge of the airport waiting for my flight was driving me nuts. This is what you get when you fly commercial!
“How much longer do I have to wait?!” I barked to a passing receptionist, who quickly went into apologetic mode.
“I’m terribly sorry ma’am, the plane is being refueled. Shouldn’t be much longer now.” She threw me a fake smile which really set me off.
“Get the plane here now. I have been forced to fly commercial after a tumultuous divorce and this is how you treat me? I’ve never seen anything like it, if the plane isn’t here soon I’ll be having words with your manager.”
“Um – I’m sorry. I’ll try and see whats going on. Can I get you anything while you wait?” She squirmed uncomfortably in front of me, so pathetic.
“Just go.” I said, pursing my lips and narrowing my eyes, sending her practically running into the next room. Fortunately for her the announcement that flight 246 was ready to board ran through the airport, and shortly afterwards I was ensconced in the air conditioned comfort of first class. It could never beat the Elphinstone jet, but it would have to do; the use of the jet was (unfortunately) not available to ex-wives.
* * *
Driving through the winding streets I kept my eyes closed. I had such nostalgia it was unbearable. Why didn’t I just fly to London or Paris?
Electra, now 7 years old sat beside me, and Marie held little Sebastian. After the divorce a judge had granted me full custody due to the ‘unsatisfactory role model Maxwell Elphinstone would provide for his son, with his hurtful treatment of his wife by indulging in affairs with several different women’ with Max having supervised custody rights for a week every other month. I didn’t really know what to do about it, it would be important for Sebastian to have a father figure; I knew that much. But was Max a good father figure? Maybe I’d have to find someone to fill Max’s shoes, at least for Sebastian and Electra’s sakes.
“Ma’am, we’re here.” The drivers voice came through the car speakers. Getting out of the car I made my way nervously to the front door, I didn’t know what to expect. Time seemed to slow down after I pressed the bell, standing there in front of the door, bracing myself. I took a sharp intake of breath as the door opened a a figure appeared in the doorway, her passive face quickly turning to one of shock.
“Hi Mom. I’m home.”