“So nice to meet you.” I said as I shook the strangers hand. We had been in China for a few days, and this was the fourth party Dimitri had taken me to. It was nice to be introduced to his friends, but I was being thrust around the room being introduced to everyone and anyone, and it was getting old.
“You too. Dimitri didn’t lie when he spoke of your beauty.” He looked at me lewdly, staring at my cleavage. Thank god I had a thin layer of chiffon covering it or he may have had a coronary. “Ah and here comes my beautiful wife. Alexia, come here sweetie.” He gestured to the buxom blonde who had been approaching us from behind.
“Hi.” She said lazily as she joined our conversation, not seeming to be interested.
“I um- love your dress.” I lied as I gave her a once over, how slutty did she need to dress? This was meant to be an elegant event.
“Henry bought it for me. Shows off my assets.” She grabbed a drink from a passing waiter, quickly downing it and throwing the glass over the terrace. What was she doing?! How embarrassing. “I didn’t know people still wore black. Are you in mourning?” Her face showed no emotion as she spoke, her ghostly eyes seeming to stare right through me. I noticed a scattering of white power on her nose and was reminded of Miami and Reena, definitely a coke addict.
“I was going for classic.” I said laughing and leaning back in exaggerated joy. “I should go and mingle, so nice to meet you both.” These people were so dull, but I had to be friendly with them if I ever hoped to get along in Dimitri’s world. Well, I suppose it was now my world too, it had been ever since I’d been with Max.
“Oh thank god you got away from them.” A very pretty oriental woman said, gently grabbing my arm as I crossed the room and looking across the room to Alexia with a mocking in her eyes.
“I’m Niya by the way.”
“I’m Olive, nice to meet you. I love your outfit.” I admired the classic Chinese robe, clearly a designer version with the exquisite stitching and the wonderful pattern.
“Well it’s not my usual choice, I’d probably be in something closer to your outfit. Chanel?” I smiled and nodded my confirmation as she admired my dress. “Have you seen Alexia’s dress? You know she’s 20 years younger than her husbands daughter? What a pig. They deserve each other”
“I noticed a little white power on her nose! I don’t remember seeing coke whore on the runway at Bryant Park this season.” I laughed, pointing to Alexia.
“Tell me about it!” Niya tried to stifle her laughter as we looked over at Alexia, her ample assets threatening to burst free from the barely-there dress. “Last week she came in a leather mini and a luminous pink crop top, please!” We both laughed at Alexia, in the back of my mind I felt a little bad, but she was doing it to herself.
“Now who is that decidedly attractive man talking to my husband?” Niya asked as she looked across the room to where Dimtri was engrossed in a conversation with a man who was evidently Niya’s husband.
“Well that’s who I’m here with. I suppose he’s my ‘boyfriend’, god I feel 17 again.” I’d never actually had a teenage boyfriend, those years were plagued with bulimia, alcoholism, and partying in Miami, but she didn’t know that.
“Good catch! Although boyfriend is such an unbecoming term for women like us, you should nail him down in marriage.”
“Well to tell you the truth I’ve only recently escaped from a marriage, going for another may be pushing it.” I hadn’t even thought about marrying Dimitri, but we had only been seeing each other for a few months… but husband sounded much better than boyfriend.
“Nothing wrong with that. Alan’s my fourth. At least I can pawn the rings to pay the divorce lawyer.” She joked with a loud, expressive laugh that made people turn around and stare.
“I should go say hello to him. We should have lunch some time, here, take my card.” I fished a card out of the discreet pocket of my dress and gave it to her. Dimitri had made them for me, saying it would be useful for the people I’d meet at all the parties he had been taking me to. Crossing the room to Dimitri I saw him exchange a goodbye with his friend as he saw me coming. He was so good to me, always making time for me.
“Hello beautiful.” He kissed me before I could say anything back, letting everyone know we were definitely together. Niya was right, he was definitely a catch.
* * *
I yawned. I stretched. I opened my eyes. Ugh, time to wake up. I loved my bed so much, it felt like I was laid in heaven… wrapped my wonderful duvet covered in a princess pattern. Mama said it was the best money could buy, Marie said it suited me because I was a princess. Hehe.
Mama! She would be back from her date by now, I wished she’d been able to spend more time with us last night but it’s okay, parents have to have lives too. At least she had wanted to do something with us before Dimitri came and picked her up. Stupid Dimitri, I’d have to do something about him if I wanted mama to spend more time with us… the princess dress up hadn’t been the best plan, but I had time to think of another.
Running into the kitchen I flicked the kettle on and started rooting around for mugs, the tray, the book mama had recently been reading, and her newly prescribed glasses, which she was too vain to wear but wore them when no one was around and she had to read or something. Now what? Milk for the tea, yeah.
Arghhh! How did anyone see anything in this fridge? The light was blinding, I could barely see the milk in here! Pouring two cups of Earl Grey, one for her and one for me, I looked over my work. Pretty good, mama would definitely want to spend the day with me now.
I put the tray on the coffee table to cool down and admired the city for a second. It was so beautiful, mama said that we practically owned this city, and I could have whatever I wanted. But what about everyone else?? Oh, the tea, I almost forgot. Bursting into her bedroom I felt bad for a second, what if I’d woken her up? But that soon vanished, and was replaced with a sinking feeling in my stomach.
Why wasn’t she in her bed? It looked like it hadn’t been slept in, I mean I know we had maids that came in every day and cleaned the house but they usually came in really early to do the living area and kitchen, then later in the day to do the bedrooms. Maybe she was in her bathroom. I threw open the door in hope, but no.
I stared out of the window at the beautiful view she had, facing the ocean. I had known she wouldn’t be here, in the back of my mind. I guess that’s goodbye to the tea and a day with her.
“Miss Electra? What are you doing?” Marie asked as she came into the room. At least she was always here for me.
“Where’s mama?” Where could she really have gone, she had to be back later, she was always coming home to get changed after different lunches and parties, she said it was ‘gauche’ to be seen in the same outfit at different events. I guess I needed more clothes then.
“Your um- mother has gone for a little trip, to China.” China?! Why hadn’t she at least said goodbye, I loved her so much and all I wanted was to spend time with her. Marie might as well be my mama. I suppose I better make other plans, mama was obviously not interested.
“Lets go to the park then! We can have lots of fun Marie!”
“Marie!” I said as I moved towards the door, with her lagging behind, “chop chop, when I say you do. Come on!” That’s what mama always said to her, I suppose that’s what I should do to.
* * *
“Olive, are you ready?” Dimitri shouted as I strategically placed the magazine where he would definitely see it and applied a final layer of lipstick in the bathroom mirror.
“Oh finally.” He said, hopping up and down on the spot, clearly desperate to relieve himself. Why we only had one bathroom in the suite was beyond me, how common did this hotel think we were? “Oli-ii-ve…?” I heard from the bathroom before the chain flushed. He must have seen the magazine.
“What is it?” I said as I came in from the balcony to see him clutching the magazine in his hand.
“You left this in the bathroom.” He put the bridal issue of Vogue down on the table before he stood staring at me, absently stroking his chin. “Do we need to talk about this?”
“What?” I feigned ignorance, my plan was definitely working. “I was just looking, this is such a good season for bridal couture.”
“Do you want to get married?” He asked, his brow furrowing as he spoke.
“Do you?” I snapped back, the two of us staring at each other across the coffee table uneasily.
“I hadn’t thought about it.”
“Me neither. I have to go and meet Niya for lunch anyway, I’ll see you later. Where are we going tonight?” Adjusting my earrings in the mirror I acted as if I’d forgotten all about the conversation. A woman couldn’t be the one to propose, what a terrible story to tell your friends.
Rushing into the dressing room after lunch I was aware how painfully late I was. The lunch had been such a good one, although Niya was just as rich and glamorous as I was, and had been married to men with even more power, she was fun and knew how to tell a great story, we had chatted for hours before I realised the how late I was. I’d usually take my time regardless of where I was going but Dimitri had text me telling me tonight it was important, so I was determined to be ready.
Throwing my clothes into the dresser I quickly freshened up in the bathroom; having a quick shower; applying a fresh layer of makeup; redoing my hair. Moving back into the dressing room I threw open the drawers and rooted around for a dress. After slipping into the pink silk and tying a row of pearls (a gift from Dimitri) around my neck I was ready. I checked my reflection in the mirror… perfection.
“Ah Olive, you exceed even my high expectations.” Dimitri said as he came into the room straightening his tie.
“You look rather handsome yourself.” The two of us embraced in front of the traditional Chinese windows as the sun set in the distance. I think I really did love him.
“Come, the car’s waiting downstairs. Tonight’s really going to be special.” Well he’d never told me something was going to be ‘special’ before, what could he have planned? Perhaps we were going to a ball, or a party full of important people.
“What the hell?” I asked in shock as I stepped out of the car. Well this wasn’t what I’d been expecting, where was the building, or at least the outdoor party? We were at the highest point in the city, where there was nothing but air. Um… amazing surprise…
“Come on!” He laughed at the confused expression on my face, dragging across the small square of land that made up this ‘viewing area’. “Sit down.” He patted the ground next to him as he settled himself on the damp grass.
“Dimitri…” I laughed, “this is a lovely spot but can’t we take in the view from the car? This is silk.” However much I wished he would just let us sit in the comfort of the limousine he wasn’t taking no for an answer, and I soon had to force myself to sit down next to him.
“Come on Olive, relax.” How could I relax when I was sat on wet grass ruining my dress? I felt Dimitri’s arm linking with mine as we got closer. The dress was ruined, oh well I’d just buy another. The stars were beautiful after all.
“I hope you know that I love you Olive. We’ve only said it to each other once, but I meant it, and I want you to know that.” It was lovely what he was saying, but did he really have to drag me all the way up here just to tell me he loved me?
“I love you too Dimitri.” I wanted to make a big speech like he had, but I didn’t know how to follow from that. I just lapsed into a comfortable silence, occasionally resting my head on his shoulder or giving him a quick kiss.
“And there’s Orion, or The Hunter. And if you look closely you can see Jupiter, just there.” He gestured to a thousand stars that all looked the same. It was still, however, quite romantic.
“Dimitri I have to say…” I leaned in close to him in mock seriousness, “I don’t know anything about the solar system.”
Thankfully he wasn’t offended, choosing instead to laugh. I may have thought this was all very romantic, but it was very serious too, I wanted to lighten the situation. Unfortunately (or not…) Dimitri was about to make it a whole lot more serious.
“Olive, I hadn’t been thinking of marriage until today when I saw that magazine you left in the bathroom and realised how stupid I’d been. It’s so undignified for people to be unmarried, and I don’t wish to spend another day not being married to you. So,” From his position on one knee he pulled a box out, and popping it open revealed an exquisite diamond that sparkled even without the glare of the sun. “Will you marry me?”
“Oh Dimitri, of course I will.” I smiled at him warmly as he slipped the diamond onto my finger. It had actually taken me by surprise, his proposal. I had thought it would have at least taken a little more scheming to get him to propose, maybe I was better at this than I thought.