Tag Archives: divorce

Bridgeport Social Diary: Olive Belgravia

EXCLUSIVE: AN IN-DEPTH PROFILE OF THE WOMAN WHO SITS ON THE THRONE OF HIGH SOCIETY AND THE LEGACY OF THE GREAT FAMILY SHE DESCENDS FROM

Olive Belgravia-Elphinstone-Van Aston-Peredin Bauer. A four times married billionaire heiress, fashion muse, arts patron, and avid collector of jewels and antiques, it is a name that conjures up images of the high life, of riches and fame, and of many marital troubles. Sitting down with Olive Belgravia is an experience in itself. The queen of high society, who now goes by the name of her current husband, Charles Peredin-Bauer, smiles warmly as she settles down in the seat opposite us at The Samovar, the legendary Bridgeport restaurant. Heads turn to listen as she skips lunch (“I’ll eat when I’m dead!”), opting instead for a simple glass of champagne, crossing her stocking encased legs before adjusting the flawless Chanel suit and taking a deep breath.

“I’m ready.” She breathes with excitement in her voice.

And excited she should be – we have a lot to discuss. Notorious for her tight lipped stance on her personal life, she has always employed the air of the less available you are, the more exclusive you become. Now we will discuss all.

Born into the wealthy and prominent Belgravia family, Olive grew up in the lap of luxury, while she didn’t quite lead the lifestyle she does now (her family had a sprawling suburban home in the Redcliffe hills) it was an extremely comfortable life. Four siblings (Tommy, Kitty, Oliver, and Cora) kept her days filled, but, unlike her siblings, she never saw a clear cut future for herself, leaving her with feelings of inadequacy at her seeming lack of ambition; little did anyone know she would go on to become one of the richest Belgravia’s of them all.

For all our new readers or those less versed on the Belgravia family we feel obliged to give a little background to which you can place Olive into. Her grandmother is Lily Belgravia, the legendary actress who you have, no doubt, seen in at least a dozen movies. A three time Oscar winner who successfully broke into the business world with her line of fragrances and handbags, she created an impressive fortune for herself, most of which she bequeathed to her three daughters.

Perhaps even more impressive than the great Lily, but far less well known, is her husband, Chace Belgravia. Creating a fortune numbering in the tens of billions with Belgravia Industries International, he declined to leave his mammoth fortune to his daughters – they hardly needed it with the money they received from their mother – instead setting up ‘The Belgravia Trust’ a stack of money so large it has been surrounded in mystery and rumour for the hundred-or-so years that it has sat in the bank; some say the fortune is 20 billion, some say 100 billion dollars sits there, however much it is one thing is sure – it is always growing, the trustees who protect it number among the brightest business minds of the age, and continual investments keep the dollars flowing in. Protected and administered by a board of twelve trustees, every member of the family will receive a large chunk of money on their thirty fifth birthdays – the idea being that by that time they should have established themselves in a legitimate career, and the money will only exist to help them better said career. It just so happens Olive has received her own portion of the trust just last year – turning 36 a few weeks ago – but she declined to comment on the amount, tilting her head shyly and calling it ‘personal’.

Despite the trouble that can come with wealth, the family lived a happy life, after the birth of Arielle (Olive’s mother) the couple went on to have twins Oriana and Alexandra, before Lily had a hysterectomy, telling the press at the time she had no desire to ever have more children. A wild streak existed for Arielle when she inherited $30 million on her 18th birthday, proceeding to by the biggest apartment in Bridgeport, the famed Belgravia Triplex at Breach House (a property which she still owns, although she does not live there) and a constant streak of clubbing. Marriage to French painter Leonardo tamed Arielle, and (to the chagrin of the world press) she proceeded to fade quietly from the limelight into a suburban life in Redcliffe. Divorce followed the couple after the birth of their first child Tommy, and her second marriage (which she is still in after many, many years) to musician and world-renowned maestro Noah Belgravia followed, going on to have four more children. Child number three for this couple was non other than Olive. With her aunt Oriana a famous rocker married to the musician of the century (both known for their wild drug antics as well as their music), and the famed fiction writer Alexandra Belgravia-King as her other aunt she was sure to lead an interesting life from the get go.

“I recall my aunt Oriana visiting the house a few times, my mother later told me it was to ask for money,” Olive explains as we mention her aunt, “but she always seemed quite fun to me, always letting us play on her guitars and such, though that dreadful Jasper had the most frightening vacant eyes, and would light up his cigarettes in the house… to my mothers fury!” She recalls with a laugh.

Growing up Olive felt in the shadow of her siblings, all of whom had very clear career goals. Tommy dreamt of superstar athleticism, a goal which he soon achieved and now, along with his husband Austin, is a star of the Recliffe tigers. Kitty had journalistic aims, and also achieved them – she is now editor in chief of DIALOGUE, a prominent New York magazine. Oliver – who probably needs no explanation – spent his days painting, and now has art hanging in every prominent gallery and every household wealthy enough to afford his exquisite work. Cora, her youngest sibling, had dreams of musical stardom, and aided by her aunt Oriana she soon achieved that goal, and now enjoys a relatively successful career in the indie music scene. Meanwhile Olive would flick aimlessly through fashion magazines and gossip continuously with her friends via the internet and phone – both talents which would come in useful later in life,  when she started to be critiqued by the fashion world for everything she wore, and when one bitchy word from her could send a would-be socialite straight to the bottom. Leaving home at 16 Olive headed for Miami with friends, where she began partying and drinking.

“It’s a time in my life I do not like to think about. I was so irresponsible, it’s embarrassing to look back on. And why on earth did I choose Miami? It’s the epitome of tacky.”

While she may look back on Miami as ‘tacky’ now, back then Olive Belgravia was a well known party girl and budding socialite on the Miami scene, a city which she would soon change for the much more desirable land of Europe.

After a brief relationship at the tender age of 17 which she ‘does not wish to discuss’ which produced her only daughter Electra, Olive met Maxwell Elphinstone.

“I was in a bar one night and there he was. The attraction was instant, and while he was many years older than me I never thought the relationship was odd, we were just right for each other at that time.”

After a lavish wedding which included a moment of panic for the bride when she ran from the ceremony after the vows had taken place in Westchester, NY, Olive boarded the private Elphinstone jet and headed for a new life in Europe.

While the Elphinstone family maintains a large estate in Westchester, they are originally from Europe, and own many estates in the French Riviera. It seems unlikely that Olive could meet such a man in a bar – but meet him she did, and a very lucky meeting it was, for the Elphinstone name would help Olive forge a path through the bounds of European socialites to the top of the ladder.

While the Belgravia name is known across America, in Europe at that time they were just whispers of Lily’s name from the few who had shipped her films over and could speak English to watch them; the Elphinstones were much more prominent. At the time of Olive’s marriage to Maxwell they were headed by Elizabeth Elphinstone, the famously pearl-draped and pink-clad matriarch of the family, who has donated millions of euros to charity over her years, and who has friendships with Windsors and Rothschilds.

“Me and Elizabeth never really saw eye to eye, to be frank she didn’t like me, and I didn’t like her.”

The animosity between the two may have added to the eventual split between the couple, but, after the birth of Sebastian, Olive says the two fell into an uneasy truce.

“Maxwell had no heir at the time of our marriage, he was getting on, and Elizabeth was desperate for a little boy to continue the family. I’d have never got so much in the divorce if little Sebastian had been a little Sarah.” She laughs dryly as she explains the archaic attitude of the Elphinstones.

Olive continued her ascent up the social ladder with all seeming well, with her and Maxwell even being dubbed ‘the happiest couple in France’ at one point; but unbeknownst to everyone the marriage was suffering extreme difficulties.

“We had simply fallen out of love – I don’t know what it was, but we weren’t close to each other any more.”

Rumours have abounded about the marriage for years, with multiple women coming forward claiming to have slept with Maxwell at the time of his marriage to Olive, although they have all faded away after alleged meetings with Elphinstone family lawyers. The influence of Elizabeth is all over them. Divorce soon followed, and although no official amount has been disclosed, it is rumoured Olive received around $80 million in the settlement, as well as $400 thousand yearly alimony, although she refuses to comment. Returning to America with her two children and four nannies, Olive bought a sprawling penthouse with views over Redcliffe and set about lamenting her position as the queen of American high society.

“It wasn’t a conscious decision, [to get to the top of society] those were just the circles I moved in, parents from Electra and Sebastian’s school were prominent, and we soon became friends. I began my charity work, and suddenly I was ‘the’ socialite. Rather amusing really.”

While it may not have been an active decision it was definitely a swift move. At the tender age of 25 Olive had done the impossible – pushed past the rows of grey haired doyennes who guard society like the crown jewels and usurped them – placing herself in their position.

A few years back in Redcliffe and Olive had built an impressive reputation for herself. She donated generously to charity (to date she has gifted over $400 million), she gave dinner parties for the rich and famous, and had begun building her impressive collection of jewels, antiques, and artwork. An interest in everything the high life had to offer such as the ballet, theater, art openings and constant travel, led her to husband number two – Dimitri Stanislopolous III.

Like Maxwell Elphinstone before him, Dimitri came from a prominent European family – the Stanislopolous name is eponymous with shipping, often mentioned in the same sentence as Onassis and Niarchos. A billionaire from his involvement in his families shipping company, Dimitri was a well known aging party boy who was just beginning to settle down and take care of his investments.

“We met on Princess Charlotte’s yacht, I was enjoying some champagne and gazing at the view, and suddenly this handsome man was by my side. He swept me off my feet.”

A whirlwind romance followed, a prominent American socialite and an infamous Greek shipping heir seen together – it was tabloid gold. Splashed across the front page of every magazine from here to Australia as they toured the world at various parties in London, New York, Bridgeport, Paris, Athens, Rome, and Sydney, the couple were soon hounded by the press, everyone wondering if they would marry.

Dimitri shocked everyone by doing just that; fending off marriage for years, the world watched with baited breath as the big day came, and hundreds of photographers crowded the gates of Redcliffe Botanical Garden when the couple married on the 18th of June.

“It was a wonderful wedding, definitely my best.” Olive comments as she flicks through a few photographs she has brought with her, “he was an amazing man.”

While Olive and Dimitri tore their way through the world on The Sky King, a jet which she would receive in the impending divorce settlement, Olive’s two children began to dabble in all of lifes pursuits.

Both enrolled at St. Rudolphs, the notoriously expensive school in Redcliffe, the two children – who are very close, they share an apartment in the city now – began changing from their navy blue school uniforms, slipping out of white tights and beige pants and into black leather and daringly short skirts.

“Of course I had trouble with the children – I wouldn’t have needed the botox if they’d been angels.”

Angels they were not. Electra was frequently pictured leaving different clubs highly intoxicated, always with a new man on her side. All of her activities remained unknown to Olive, who was fighting her second divorce.

“It was all so fast, I think Dimitri and I rushed into it. The thrill of the travel, the luxury, the parties, it all shrouded my vision. He was a serial workaholic, always on the phone to some company or another, always planning a takeover. Once the dust had settled and the initial attraction of his charm had wore off it was obvious we weren’t made for each other.”

The world waited for the divorce to be finalized, all desperate for details of Olive’s second divorce settlement. Again, with that tight lipped scrutiny about money that so many of the wealthy employ, Olive refused to comment. Speculation is all over the place about the amount she received; the aforementioned Gulfstream 650 jet will have set Dimitri back around $50 million, and Olive also received a yacht – appropriately named The Golden – which has been cited as costing somewhere between $200 and $250 million, as well as a sprawling estate on the Greek coast with a cool $30.4 million price tag, an Athens penthouse, two heavily customized and bulletproof Maybach 62 limousines worth around $1.2 million, a six story townhouse on the Upper East Side in New York, and a reported lump sum settlement of $1.2 billion, with additional alimony payments. The lack of a pre-nup made Dimitri rethink his next marriage, and his second wife reportedly signed an iron clad document.

“Oh goodness, the money thing again? It’s all anyone ever asks me – ‘how much?!’ they all shout, it’s so tedious. I’m not going to talk about how much I received, it’s private.”

With nothing coming from Olive we’re all free to speculate, but we do know it was definitely a hefty sum. With the help of Dimitri’s money Olive continued her extensive charity work, appearing at benefits and galas across the globe, often as the guest of honour. Scrutiny over her increased, with the world wanting to know what she wore, how thin she was, how much money she had, who she was dating, where she was going.

“I would be stalked day and night by the press, it was ridiculous. I never spoke to any of them, they would criticise my weight and my wealth. It didn’t bother me, one can never be too rich or too thin.”

With the money from her divorce settlements Olive purchased a sprawling ranch, Belgrave Ranch, where she started breeding horses, and used it as a weekend getaway. She also became more interested in art, purchasing master after master, solidifying her position in the art world forever when she famously purchased the stolen Vermeer painting The Concert back from the thieves in an amazing exchange, before donating the piece back to the Isabella Stewart Gardener museum in Boston from which it was stolen. With two divorces under her belt the socialite now had a new man in her sights – wealthy New York financier Marcus Van Aston.

“Marcus and I met the opening night of the opera, and while he wasn’t as charming as Dimitri he was definitely something, and definitely thought of me as a catch. That was the problem – I was just a trophy wife.”

Romance quickly caught up Olive once more, and before long another marriage was taking place. During this time other members of the Belgravia family, who had remained distant, began to come into their own across the world. After the death of the matriarch of the family, Lily Belgravia, a few years ago, the family were under the spotlight more than ever. Oriana and Jasper’s children Freddy and Maria found their careers soaring as everyone was interested in what they did. Marquis and Andrew Belgravia-King, the children of Alexandra and Jeremy, were the only ones who stayed away from the spotlight; both doctors, people could only speculate on what they were like, although that is changing recently as Marquis’ son Isiah is often seen at the Buenos Aries clubs with a number of different girls on his arm.

On the 1st of July Olive and Marcus were married at the Almudena Cathedral in Madrid. It was a lavish wedding with members of the European jet set converging on Madrid for the ceremony.

The couple took off on Olive’s yacht The Golden from her divorce settlement to Dimitri, and set about on a world tour. During this time Olive’s children, who had now left school – both without any grades – moved in together in a tiny apartment in Brdigeport.

“It pains me to talk about it now, but I had Electra and Sebastian cut out of my will. I didn’t want to see my daughter with someone so beneath her – I told her if she would not leave that boy then I would not be supporting her financially. Of course my mother found a way around it.”

Olive will not elaborate further on the subject, but property records show Electra Belgravia purchased a modest $1.2 million loft in downtown Bridgeport, with money presumably from her grandmother. With property prices dropping across the globe Olive took this chance to purchase several luxury properties, adding yet more desirable real estate to her portfolio.

“I had so much furniture, I had six warehouses downtown just full of my antiques and my art, they were so expensive to keep – people kept trying to steal them. So I bought some more houses to fill up.”

The six warehouses are in fact, famous in themselves. While Olive will not go into detail about what was kept there, it is said at least three Rembrandts, five Monets, a few Gainsboroughs and even another Vermeer which she purchased from the MET were stored there, all under twenty four hour security at a cost of $45 thousand a month. As well as the impressive art stored in the temperature controlled warehouses there were also a number of priceless antiques, which included a red lacquered desk commissioned by Louis XV for his study at Versailles, which has been said to be the most important piece of French furniture ever to touch North American soil.

“Oh I had a lot of antiques, there was a Savonnerie carpet, which had been installed at the Fifth Avenue apartment, and we were having lunch one day and someone – I can’t remember who – dropped a cigarette on it. Peter Wilson [then head of Sotheby’s] was alarmed and said, ‘That’s a $2 million carpet!’ I had it brought to the Met the next day.”

The galleries devoted to French decorative arts – named for Olive Belgravia – were begun in during her marriage to Dimitri and continually honed during the following years. As well as her extensive work for the art world, and her continuing entry into the world of horse racing and polo, Olive also donated generously to charity, although, as a friend recalls, “Mrs. Peredin-Bauer does not have anything to do with unpleasant things,” says an observer, “aids, for instance, or cancer.” (One source, though, says that Peredin-Bauer gives anonymously to many causes – especially medical research and libraries.)

During this time Olive also became highly prominent in the fashion world. Always seen at Fashion Week in New York, London, Paris, and Milan, she began to garner the atention of prominent designers, and cultivated friendships with Karl Lagerfeld, Anna Wintour, and Phillip Treacy. Her thin frame, which has been scrutinised over the years for not offering a healthy body image to young women, allowed her to fit effortlessly into the sample sizes of the designer wares she is often seen in.

“I don’t see the fuss about my frame – I work hard to stay thin, I’ve been existing on red bull and nutrition shakes all week, and I in no way encourage young girls to do the same, this is just what I want.”

While her weight may have came under scrutiny over the years, it definitely acted as a catalyst for her growing wardrobe. It is estimated that her couture wardrobe comprises 2,500 garments in total, as well as 450 pairs of shoes, 70 hats, and 200 handbags. Real estate blogs reported her addiction to haute coture led her to the conversion of two bedrooms adjacent to her master suite simply for room to store all her clothes.

While she may be renowned in the worlds of art, fashion, and high society, the great unwashed masses who were not lucky enough to be invited to any number of the parties she attended could still only watch with envy as Olive jetted around the world, never granting interviews, never sitting down for photoshoots that focused on her, although she often did pieces for Architectural Digest and House & Garden. The press was then free to scrutinize the socialite and her stiff-lipped group of friends, who say she is ‘friendly, funny, and vivacious’, yet many beyond her inner sphere view her as cold and even ‘excluding.’ (‘Cozy’ is a word that will never be associated with her,’ says an art-world expert wryly.)

“It’s ridiculous the things people come out with about me. They call me a bitch, they call me cold and stiff, yet those people have never taken the chance to know me. While I may not be like the smiling hoards of feeble celebrities that people seem so enamored with, I am a loyal friend, and the cold demeanor is just an intense desire for privacy, and perhaps even a certain shyness.”

Whatever Olive says to the contrary, shyness does not seem to be one of her attributes. As we sit together during lunch no less than seven people approach the table to greet her, all engaged in the same polite conversation, with a lot of smiles and laughs, before Olive gently moves them on – it’s an art honed by years of practice. Olive and Marcus continued their never ending round of socializing over the next few years; summers spent in Palm Beach at her impressive Mar-A-Lago estate which she purchased from Donald Trump (“a close friend”) for an eye popping $56 million; winters spent in the Seychelles; christmas in St. Barts (where she was recently a guest at Roman Abramovich’s famous New Years party) and St. Tropez; and a never ending round of jet setting in between.

“The plane was a godsend. It allowed me to bring anything I wanted home with me, I could keep plants,  art, and antiques on it and not have to endure the horror of worrying about them being shuttled across the globe on some dowdy commercial airliner with workers who would not understand that their cargo was worth more than the plane itself.”

While her position at the top of society had been lamented for years, and continued to solidify with her endless rounds of parties (dinner parties for the Churchill’s were hosted in Palm Beach, cocktail parties in honour of Barons and Earls at her Mayfair townhouse, and continued sightings of her in the front row of every fashion show from New York to Milan) her love life was, again, suffering problems.

“I had begun to suspect Marcus’ infidelity a few years after our marriage. He couldn’t handle my difficult children, it pushed him over the edge. He took up with someone, and we grew further apart.”

The woman of whom Olive speaks was none other than her long time friend Niya St. Alderton, whom she met at a party in China before her marriage to Dimtri. As was hashed out in the gossip columns, Niya had taken up with Marcus after the death of her ailing husband (pharmaceuticals billionaire Alan St. Alderton), eventually driving Marcus to divorce Olive.

“It was a hard time. I hadn’t wanted to divorce Marcus, I had hoped we could work it out, that if I just left it long enough his affair would sizzle out, but it did not happen that way at all.”

In fact, in his hurry for a divorce from Olive, he sidestepped the pre nuptual agreement they had both signed to protect their considerable wealth and settled the divorce with an undisclosed sum, which has been speculated to be around $500 million.

“I know it’s awful, but money was the only way I could get back at him. If I stopped the divorce going ahead, he would be forced to pay more in his desire to remarry. It was the only way I could get revenge.”

While Olive’s fortune (and her number of ex husbands) grew, her children began dabbling in the music world. As members of the Belgravia family, pictures often appeared of Electra and Sebastian performing gig after gig in Recliffe, and eventually Bridgeport. The music never really took off, and a rumoured recent split in the band has left the fans wondering if ‘Revolutionis’ will return.

“I met Charles at a Belgravia Industires board meeting. He is a member, as well as I [of the board] and we had engaged in a mild flirtation for years, but it came to fruition once my divorce from Marcus was finalised.”

Charles Peredin-Bauer. You will most likely know him as the recently elected governor of the Bridgeport district, but before his prominent political position Charles engaged in a multitude of businesses. Building up a publishing company from nothing, Charles had made his first million by the time he was 22. Twenty years later that million would have multiplied into over 7 billion dollars, giving him enough cash to fund his ascent into politics. Divorced from two supermodels on his way to the top, Olive was his third wife, and he her fourth husband.

“I really feel Charles is the one.” Olive gushes as we begin discussing her current husband, “he understands me completely. Unlike my other husbands we just seem to click very well, I can’t put my finger on it. There’s just something about him.”

Recent years have seemed to turn Olive’s fortunes around for the better. With the relationship with her children on the up after many years of animosity (she was spotted boarding her daughter onto The Sky King just a few weeks ago, exchanging tender smiles with her in the pictures) and a relationship which she assures us is ‘the one’ the woman seems to have finally gotten everything together. We all hope it will last.

*      *      *

I hope you enjoyed this, I’m having a few problems with my game so I decided to write a little something to keep you guys interested.

Remember that this is an interview, and as such Olive would never discuss the darker aspects of her life (rape at the hands of Riley, using Maxwell for his money etc.)

What do you guys reckon to Olive’s life? 🙂

Marissa x

Generation 3 – Chapter 6

“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.”

Generation 2 – Chapter 8

Okay I’ll admit it – I had no idea how to cook. I had been trying to make a decent plate of waffles for lets see… 6 hours now? It was just impossible, no wonder Lily had always hired a chef, ordered take out, or asked the maid to cook, it was a nightmare! But I was determined to be a real mom – those TV shows where the mom cooks a huge dinner and all the family eat around the table with wine, great conversation, and lots of laughter. The house I had bought was simply perfect for the life I envision, apart from the obvious things tearing it apart – the husband, yes husband, we went down to city hall and found out it was official, the look on Leo’s face when he realised we were married was just… awful, he looked distraught, as if it was the biggest mistake of his life. The fact that I worked more than I was home (which I was beginning to think maybe wasn’t the best idea I ever had) and the fact that I had no idea how to raise a child!

Things with Leo had gone from bad to worse. In some far corner of my mind that was unlocked by copious amounts of alcohol I must have believed that marriage was the key to happiness, but it actually wasn’t, it had only made things worse. And to add to my misfortune I couldn’t stop thinking about Noah. I still owned the city Triplex, and Consuela had phoned me every week with my messages, always, always there were at least 6 from Noah, begging me to talk to him, to at least tell him it’s over, but I couldn’t – because in my heart, it wasn’t over. It may have been years ago, and nothing actually ever happened between us, but we both knew there was a spark there, one that we couldn’t ignore, but I had to for now. I couldn’t kick Leo out, not with his child on the way. The pregnancy wasn’t half as bad as I expected, yes I had those bouts of sickness, which could come at any time of the day (I even had to jump out of the pool and run to the toilet once) but I was expecting much worse, this is what happens when you watch too much TV as a child!

It had been a difficult choice deciding to move out of the apartment, but that was another thing that I thought may fix the marriage. In a smaller place, maybe I’d feel closer to Leo as I’d actually be closer to him, he was always in the little den behind the kitchen, I’d see him hard at work on his easels, never turning round and acknowledging me, or even smiling. I went to a few parties while I still had my figure (the baby wasn’t showing yet) but they usually turned out to be pretty much a drag. The people were my age but acted 45. Like this one party thrown by the woman who lived on the cliff above us, Helen Dorenson. I was totally late to the party and had stupidly decided to walk (she only lived on the cliff above us after all) but the road was much longer than I thought, and I was 2 hours late by the time the house came into my sights.

I walked in expecting a party in full swing, with drinks and dancing and music, but I got like a 40 year old party populated by 25 year olds. They were all so serious with their glasses of champagne and their talks of politics, I went and said hello to the hostess (who looked scarily like me – a more glamorous version) and then quickly excused myself and went out onto the terrace.

I wasn’t sure if I missed living in the city as I looked over the water to the beauty of it’s lights, it was amazing being able to appreciate it from here. Ultimately I thought moving out would help mine and Leo’s marriage, and I wanted to raise our child away from the city, in a real family environment, where going into the city would be something to look forward to or something, I didn’t really know, but I was happy I did it. The house I bought was fabulous, I had never had any outside space and I may have overdone it with tree-houses and a huge pool and outside seating and barbecue areas and 4 cars parked on the drive when there were only 2 of us, I think I just got a little overexcited.

I quietly slipped away from the party through the back and began the walk home. Maybe I should become a writer or something, I really wasn’t happy at Belgravia Industries International, people didn’t treat me with respect because they thought (ok they knew) that I only had the job because of who my father was. I was asked to do the mundane tasks, and I didn’t dare accept Chace’s offer of a higher position in case they hated me even more. Walking into the house I had to stop and admire the art, I really did love Leo’s idea of just covering the house in pictures, it made it feel really homey compared to what I had grown up in (blank walls with signature pieces) although we had decided to keep the bedroom pretty much a copy of the bedroom in the triplex, but I was thinking of changing that soon.

I was dreading loosing my figure – it had always been one of my greatest assets, but it did eventually begin to deteriorate, and that’s when I discovered the joy of proper pyjamas! I couldn’t believe I had skipped out on wearing something so comfortable for the whole sexy/cute thing, these were a revelation! I only had one pair (and I wasn’t going shopping looking this fat, ew) so I’d just wash them every few days, and then put them straight back on, I loved it! Waffles were still an art I was attempting to master, but I was definitely getting better at it (I’d found a few cookbooks on the shelf which helped a lot).

When the day finally came for my child to come into the world I panicked for a second. I felt my water break and I started running around the house screaming in panic, but in fact I wasn’t even in pain. I had seen way to many movies! I was perfectly calm, and the doctor soon arrived to deliver the baby at home like we had planned. I couldn’t wait to be a mother, it was such a strange thought, I had just created a human inside me. How? It was so interesting, so… I don’t know, it was just amazing.

Thomas Belgravia was born in the kitchen (of course, I was never out of there) at 11PM, and he was absolutely beautiful. I had a child. I was a mother. It was really just sinking in. I had all these thoughts about the house and what it would be like having a family here, but now I actually had a family of my own.

Okay – I had some problems here. I wanted to actually show him being a baby for a while (although I don’t know why because they’re boring at that stage) but little Thomas had… other ideas.

Anyone else get these ridiculous problems with babies?! I believe its the custom content, but never mind.

It seemed like only a few days before he became a little toddler, and an absolutely adorable one at that. I loved the nursery we (I use the term loosely – Leo bought a few toys then went back to his art) created for him, and I’m pretty sure he loved it too. Oriana sent him a totally cute toy to play with which he loved. A room full of designer toys and he wants to play with the rag doll my sister sent him, typical.

He was so gorgeous, I couldn’t believe he was my son! Everyone was dying to meet him, after all he was the first male to be born into the family. I started getting back into the books that I had purchased in France and never really took the time to read. I was always in the room with him, although I did leave him alone from time to time (I didn’t want to baby him too much) but never for more than 10 minutes… and yes I usually hid behind the door listening to make sure he was okay. He’d sit at my feet playing with that doll while I read aloud, trying to immerse him in the French language, I wanted him to understand other cultures.

Going out to collect the mail one morning I was excited to find a little package inside, a present! I had no idea who it could be from, but I wished I had never opened it when I did. A note from Noah – We still need to talk. – With two little diamond earrings to go with it. It was so tempting to meet with him, maybe I should speak to him. I was going to have to at one point, but I was afraid. I just couldn’t handle divorcing Leo. What about little Tommy, he would grow up in a broken family, not that Leo spent much time with him, he had recently been featured in one of the local galleries and spent all his time there readjusting where his paintings hung, changing the lighting and God knows what else.

As I moved into the hall towards the ringing doorbell later in the day I had to hide behind the wall in shock, he was here! Was he like some sort of crazy stalker?! Maybe he wasn’t genuine at all and just wanted to chop me up into a million pieces. I knew I had to answer, I couldn’t let this go on any longer, we had to talk.

Opening the door was a huge step in itself, I had never been willing to talk to him before, leaving him locked outside the grille gates, ignoring him (and getting married!) to escape him at the wedding, ignoring all his calls… but it was time to deal with it. We moved through to the kitchen, where some inane conversation about my house came up before we really got down to it.

“I still have feelings for you Arielle. I want to explore those feelings. I know your life is complicated right now with a husband and a child, but I’m willing to fight through it if you are… Arielle? Will you look at me?!”

“I feel the same way Noah. But you have to give me time, things are happening at an alarming rate in my life, I have my son to think about. Yes, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that me and Leo don’t work, and marriage was stupid, but I can’t just cut him loose, I have to tell him and we have to work out plans for Tommy and the the division of assets, the art, the money he’s made while we’ve been together… its complicated.”

“I’m willing to wait if you’ll be there at the end of it all.” Gosh he was so understanding, even better than I remembered him from years ago, but still just as hot. We looked at each other for a long while, the conversation had been much easier than I imagined, I thought his persistence would translate to wanting to be with me ASAP (which he clearly still wanted) but I was glad he was willing to wait for me. After all, I was hot.

“I’ll call you. I promise.” We hugged before he went about his business, which I realised I actually didn’t know what that was. I really had no idea about his life, was he still living with his room-mates in that huge modern house with the courtyard? Well when we did get together he’d obviously move here.

It was nerve racking, thinking about talking with Leo. I was waiting for him to come home, settling little Tommy down in bed in the nursery. He was such a joy, it was as if he never wanted me to leave, he totally loved me, and the feeling was mutual.

Pulling a book from the shelf I settled down in the den and waited for him to arrive. It was a great book, but I wasn’t paying any attention to it, I may as well have been reading it upside down. I had no idea how the conversation would go, would there be shouting and screaming? Maybe he’d hit me in anger, although if he did I’d smack him right back. It was another 3 hours before he finally came home, dumping a huge pile of easels in the corner and mumbling hello.

“Leo, we need to talk.” I gritted my teeth in nervousness, this was it, the moment my marriage would end, soon I would officially be a divorcee. Gosh, a 23 year old divorcee, it was a strange thought.

He let out a long sigh, “I know.”

“This just isn’t working out Leo, I’m sorry, truly, I really wanted it to work out, but I can’t stay in this sort of marriage.”

“Things were just… crazy between us Arielle. It was all a bit of a whirlwind, and to be honest, there’s a girl at the art gallery who I’m interested -”

“-Woah woah woah,” I cut across him, “I don’t wanna hear about anything like that right now, this is hard enough.” At least we both had people waiting at the other end for us, but I couldn’t help but feel a little upset that he was interested in somebody else.

“And what about little Tommy? He’s staying here by the way.” I told him firmly, if he wanted to battle for custody he better be prepared for a very long battle. The mayor was a good friend of Chace’s, and Lily had worked with the district attorney doing research for one of her movies, if he thought he was taking Tommy he had another thing coming.

“I know I’d never be able to fight you for custody, and I wouldn’t want to. I of course still want to visit, we’ll have to work something out properly, who has him on what days and such.” It was real. We were officially broken up, this was it. We eventually decided to go down to the court the next day and apply for a divorce.

“And what about the houses, the money, the art?”

“You can keep it all, it’s all your money Arielle. And you can keep the paintings of mine that we’ve hung, I actually think they might be worth a lot in a few years, there’s a lot of interest in them at the gallery.”

It was weird that  we could talk so… normally. There was none of the kicking and screaming I expected, plates being smashed, the house being trashed, punches flying at each other. We hadn’t talked for weeks, and I actually thought we could be friends now that we were getting out of the marriage, it would be best for Tommy if we were friends. It seemed like we both knew that it would be better off for everyone if we were divorced. I didn’t really know how to explain it to Tommy, we would have to do it later in life, he couldn’t even talk yet, never mind understand something like this. I knew Lily had kept secrets from us growing up, and I didn’t want to be like that with my children, I was going to tell them everything, I wanted to be both a mother and a friend, not just an authority figure. He decided to end it now, not to stay the night. I insisted that he should stay, but he just wanted to get away, and said he was sleeping at the gallery, although I had a feeling he was going to see that girl – and I kind of felt happy for him. Standing in the kitchen the finality of it all sunk in, we were finished, the house felt… different, emptier.

It was pretty amazing when Noah moved in a few days after Leo’s departure. I wasn’t used to sleeping alone, so I was definitely glad he was here. I knew our relationship was going to work, it just felt so different. He was so thoughtful too, like when he first arrived at the door with his bags, after letting him in he pulled out a beautiful bouquet of roses, Leo had never done something like that for me!

We shared our first kiss that very day in the kitchen, and then things just began to take off at an alarming rate. We had been talking for a while, it wasn’t at all awkward, we had so much to catch up on, so many years apart, we barely knew anything about each other, but that’s what made it so exciting. After finding out that he was in the music business (orchestra line) he moved towards me and just for a second I looked away shyly, then we looked at each other and kissed. It was like a spark exploded inside my head, he was so great!

Another thing I wasn’t expecting about him was that he was really family oriented. He seemed so polished and perfect on the surface, with his shiny suits and his perfectly tousled hair, but he loved starting up the barbecue and we’d sit outside for hours with a few bottles of red, getting to know each other more and more. Tommy took to him straight away, I suppose he had never really known Leo (which was beginning to change – isn’t it odd how as soon as me and Leo were no longer a couple he became a better father than he had been when we were together?) and Noah really took on the role of a father, teaching him to talk and telling him all about his favourite football team – The Llamas.

It was pretty much a miracle how perfect things were turning out, I had the most beautiful son in the world, a perfect boyfriend who was also an amazing father to another mans son (it wasn’t even an issue – he said he would raise Tommy as if he was his own) and an amazing home. The only wobbly part was my career. After my maternity leave I never returned to Belgravia Industries International, it just wasn’t a good fit for me, the corporate world didn’t interest me one bit, so with Alex’s help I started to write down the ideas in my head, mainly it was extracts of my life but with less drama (it wouldn’t even be realistic to write my own life – who would believe it!?) mainly revolving around a character I tactfully (ha) named Ariel. Of course I never let Tommy out of my sights as I worked, gently closing the den door and always watching him out of the corner of my eye through the glass.

It was all a whirlwind – my book was almost finished, which Alex was extremely proud of – she actually said it was good! Noah was now a permanent part of my life, I suppose you could say we were boyfriend and girlfriend but that seemed an odd title as I was a mother! I was kind of hoping he’d pop the question soon… okay I know I shouldn’t get ahead of myself. Tommy was growing up faster than I ever anticipated, he was already running up and down the house, throwing his toys off the walls (ruining several pieces of art but so what – it’s just money) and generally just being a boisterous little man, I loved him so much.

In the back of my mind I had been worried about leaving my job and raising Tommy at home, I thought it could just be a routine, maybe I’d have to turn to the vodka to pass the days and become one of those awful alcoholic mothers. But it was so different. Every day was an adventure, I never knew what new word Tommy was going to spout, or what mischief he’d get up to. His laugh was the greatest thing to hear, it was totally the best laugh I had ever heard. Genuine happiness. It felt so different from my childhood. I had vague memories, but I wanted Tommy’s to be full of happy memories. I definitely needed to buy a camera, I wanted something to look back on and smile at when I was old and grey.

“Arielle,” Noah began one day as he came home from work, “We should go away. What do you think of China?” China?! Wow, I had been desperate to travel since my trip to France, and this was great news!

“I’ll miss Tommy but it could be nice to have some time away from him, maybe Lily will babysit him, it’s going to be amazing Noah!”  I didn’t know what to expect from China, what was I supposed to pack? I wanted to immerse myself in the culture and really fit in there. As the plane touched down in China 2 weeks later I stared out the window just as I had done when we touched down in France years ago. It was so different to France, and amazing in so many different ways.

The hotel we were staying in had a great suite, and we wasted no time in christening the bed, and finally cementing our position as a couple. It was strange, I was about to have sex with the person I had tried to use to take my virginity, it was totally strange. I was glad that we hadn’t done it all those years ago. What was I thinking trying to lose my virginity to him just so I could say I wasn’t a virgin any longer. High school didn’t even cross my mind any more, it felt like a whole other life, I hadn’t spoken to Michael or Emily in years, or that weird guy who put even more pressure on me to lose my virginity. He was probably stoned in the local park.

The trip may not have lived up to my France trip with regards to drama but that was exactly why I loved it. We just did things normal people do, I wasn’t flying to Paris to hide from a crazy teacher who was bribing me, I was just living. Long days spent in the Scholars Garden, trips to The Temple of Heaven to take in the view of the city, learning the basics of martial arts with Noah at the Academy, it was all so… peaceful. And exactly how a holiday should be.

We both missed Tommy, it was wonderful how quickly Noah had settled into the role of a father, Tommy actually asked to talk to him when Lily called us and put him on the phone every morning and evening. I was actually excited to get home and see him, which I never thought would be me. I didn’t used to be this person, I was never nurturing, for a while I wasn’t even sure that I wanted children, but once I had one it was the best decision I ever made. On our last day Noah convinced me to take an early morning hike up to one of the highest points in the city (which I will NEVER do again, my shoes were ruined!) and as we stood there taking in the view I felt his tension, what was he nervous about?

“Arielle,” he began, getting down on one knee. Oh boy, this was it. “I love you. I know we have only officially been together for a few weeks, but we’ve had a connection for years, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?”

“Arielle – say something…” I didn’t realise that I had been stood in silence, thinking about the last time this happened, with Howland.

“Yes, yes, of course!” I screamed as I snapped out of my little daze and threw myself into his warm embrace.

We spent the rest of the day in the hotel bedroom, just doing what engaged couples do, if you know what I mean, and as I woke up the next morning I had that very same feeling I had when I realised I was pregnant with Tommy, and I knew another baby was on the way.