“Oh. My. GOD!” Arielle screamed as she realised that it was me, her daughter, back after all these years. “What the – Olive!” She said as she threw herself into my arms.
“Mom, I’ve missed you so much…” The words came out in a choked whisper, I just wanted to hold onto her forever but she’d already dashed inside and was screaming for Noah to come down.
“NOAH! YOU’RE NEVER GOING TO BELIEVE THIS!” She shouted up the stairs before turning back to me. “I can’t believe you’re back…” She said in a whisper.
“Olive! Where on earth have you been!” Noah said in anger. Uh oh, maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.
“Um – Hi daddy.”
He stared at me for a long while, the stern expression seeming to gaze right into my soul. I was about to turn and run before he broke into a huge smile and ran into my arms, just like mom had. Now that I was back I couldn’t think for the life of me why I stayed away for so many years.
“Mom, dad,” I began as the two of them hugged in the hallway, both beaming with happiness. “MOM!” I shouted, snapping them out of their joy, god they were like two teenagers. “There’s some people I’d like you to meet…”
“Are you a lesbian?” Arielle blurted out as she looked at Marie holding the kids, and before I could stop her she was on a roll. “Ohmigod this must be why you ran away, were you ashamed? It’s fine sweetie, you shouldn’t be embarrassed. Tommy’s gay you know, he’s been with his boyfriend for years, oh dar-“
“What?! The last time I was here Tommy had a girlfriend, what happened?!” Tommy was gay?! I’d missed out on so much, I didn’t even know what was happening in my siblings lives. “And I’m not a lesbian mom, this is Marie, she’s Sebastian,” I squeezed Sebastian’s little leg, “and Electra’s,” I placed my hands on Electra’s shoulders, “au pair, and has been with me for years now.”
“What? ‘Been with you for years’? Who are you and what have you done with my daughter who was only interested in gossip and fashion?” Mom said, staring at me in shock. “Are these my grandchildren?” She gazed at Electra and Sebastian as if she couldn’t quite believe it.
“I think that makes it 8 grandchildren we have now.” Noah remarked as he came over and took little Sebastian into his arms. “Hello little man, I’m your grandfather, yes that’s right.”
“You have to tell us everything! Come on.” Arielle said, grabbing my arm and pulling me through the house into the kitchen. I had expected everything to look exactly the same but it had of course changed over the years I had been gone, rooms decorated differently, new pictures, different appliances… it was so odd being back here.
“So, what have you been doing?” Dad asked as he pulled one of the highchairs from when we were young out of the cupboard and put Sebastian into it.
“Well, after I ran away I went to Miami…” I said as I began my tale, the rising sun streaming in through the windows. I proceeded to tell them everything that had happened. It was difficult to tell them about the rape, Noah’s reaction was even harder to deal with, ‘I’ll kill him!’ He had screamed; too bad he was already dead, probably at the hand of Max although I was still unsure on that one, I didn’t want to delve into it, there were too many memories. I had planned on not telling them at all but my life had consisted of so many lies, lying about my bulimia, calling myself Mary, telling Max I loved him. It had all been a whirlwind, but it was over now.
“So you’ll be staying here for now, yes?” Mom asked as she busied herself cleaning the teacups after I’d finished my tale.
“Of course. Just until I find my own place though.”
“So you’re staying for good?! We never went over that, we’re so glad to have you home.” Noah beamed at me as he spoke, it was so touching to be back, it was nothing like I’d thought it would have been, no screaming, no shouting, no one blaming me, just open arms and love. Now all I needed was my own place.
* * *
“Come on Sebastian, that’s right come to mommy, you can do it.” I encouraged as Sebastian took a few tentative steps towards me. Now that I was home, free of Max, and in my new apartment I could finally spend more time with the kids. Marie was still around of course, I couldn’t be here all the time and it was good for the children to have the same nanny instead of a whole range of different babysitters.
“Hello-oo!” I heard over the ping of the elevator as the doors closed.
“Cora! You’re here, finally!” I ran to my sister and kissed her on both cheeks. I hadn’t seen her since I’d been back as she’d been on a tour of Asia with her husband and children. I’d seen Tommy and his boyfriend Austin over dinner a few weeks ago, and Kitty, Laurence, and their daughter Alexis had came over too. I just hadn’t seen Oliver, he was in London with Celeste and their kids. “And who’s this little man?”
“This,” Cora said as she snuggled into her son, “Is Julian. Meet your Aunt Olive.” She passed him into my arms with a lot of ooh-ing and ahh-ing.
“Do you want to meet your cousin, huh Julian? Your cousin Sebastian is over here, come on.” I took him to where Sebastian was playing on the block table and put him down beside him. The two were wary of each other at first, but they were soon giggling and playing with the blocks as me and Cora sat down and caught up.
“Sis, what happened?” Cora asked after we’d been talking about her marriage, her sons, and her music for a while.
“It’s… complicated.” I didn’t know how to tell such a tale, couldn’t she just ask mom and dad like all my other siblings had? “Well the jist of it is I went to Miami, had Electra with… a guy I met,” I couldn’t tell her the rape story with our sons playing at our feet, I’d made Electra take Sebastian out to the garden when I had told mom and dad, “then I met Sebastian’s father Max, we got married, moved to France, he cheated on me,” again, I didn’t tell her about my darker motives, I hadn’t told anyone that, “we got divorced, and now I’m back!”
“Okay well now that’s cleared up!” Cora laughed as she took in the condensed version of my life. “Are you okay?” She said staring at me with concern.
“Yeah…” I said uneasily. I was happy, I had two wonderful children, more than enough money to do whatever I wanted with, and an amazing family, but I was starting to feel lonely.
“Anyway, onto happier things. I’ve been doing photography lately, I got into it in China, here stand up. I’ll get a picture of you and Sebastian.” She said, picking up Sebastian and putting him into my arms before whipping out her camera. “Aaa-nd done!” she smiled at me, propping up the sweet little picture she’d taken on the table behind the sofa.
“Aw thank you sis, I really have missed you.”
“I’ve missed you too. It’ll be nice having all my sisters in town, we should have a girly night soon.”
“Definitely.” I agreed, a smile plastered on my face as I gazed at her. She was so pretty, all I had memories of was a good girl teenager, we’d never really spent much time together growing up, same with Oliver. It was always me, Tommy, and Kitty, and then we all grew apart. I looked down at our kids playing on the ground, and promised myself to make the cousins close friends – family was a bond that should never be broken.
“So when do I get to meet your gorgeous husband, I googled him to take a peek!” I laughed, “and Julian’s twin Alexander?” I so wanted to get to know all of the family.
“Well James took Alex with him to California for a meeting but they’ll be back on Friday and I suppose you can meet them then.” It was then that an idea struck me.
“Why don’t we have a party?! It’s been a while since I’ve been to one and it can be a sort of catch up session as well as being a housewarming party for this place. No kids of course, I’ll have to come and meet Alex before the party.”
“That sounds amazing! And you know we may be in the gritty music business but we know a lot of nice guys, CEO’s, managers, rock stars, company executives. I’ll invite a few to the party. We all have significant others now, you deserve someone.” Cora said, already pulling out her BlackBerry and making a reminder for herself. We spent the rest of the afternoon outlining details for the party, and the list of guys she said she was inviting wasn’t bad either. Maybe, just maybe, I’d find someone that could make me happy.
* * *
“Okay, ready.” I muttered to myself as I slipped on a diamond tennis bracelet and admired myself in the mirror that nestled among the plants and Louis Vuitton wallpaper. The party had to be a success, this was my debut into Redcliffe society, and it simply had to be perfect. I couldn’t afford any mistakes tonight.
“What on earth are you kids doing?!” I said in shock as I came down the stairs and took in the kids playing peek-a-boo in the middle of the living area.
“Mama!” Shouted little Sebastian as he looked up at me and smiled before turning back to his sister.
“We’re just playing mama. Sebastian likes me, look!” Electra turned to Sebastian and began their game again, eliciting screams of joy from both of them.
“Yes well that’s lovely but Electra you should be dressed, I want you to come out and meet the family when they arrive, and where the hell is Marie? She was meant to be taking care of Sebastian away from the party.” What was the point of me paying for a live in nanny if she wasn’t going to be around when I needed her?! Tonight was so important, if my party was a failure I’d be a laughing stock. Screaming children was so gauche.
“Mrs Elphinstone, I so sorry, I take Sebastian right away. Come little boy.” Marie said as she ran into the room and scooped Sebastian into her arms before running off down the hall to the bedrooms.
“Electra! Go and get ready. Everyone will be here soon, you’ll finally get to meet your family.” I hissed as I plumped up a few pillows, getting a scowl from my daughter. “Electra, come on!” I said, standing and staring at her.
“But who are they? Why can’t we go back to France? Where’s daddy?” She said with a confused expression on her face, her lower lip trembling. Oh no, I had forgotten all about Max and how she thought he was her father, I just didn’t know how to broach the subject to a seven year old.
“Come now, please just get ready OK?” I said as I took her hand and led her down to her bedroom. Being a mother was so hard, how on earth did people do it without staff?
“Mom I hate this dress, I look like an idiot!” Complained my troublesome daughter, tugging at the cardigan I had made her put on over her dress.
“You look wonderful sweetie.” I mumbled disinterestedly, primping my face in the mirror over her dresser.
* * *
“And this is Dimitri, a friend of your aunt Cora’s.” I said, pulling her towards Dimitri after I’d dragged her around the party saying hello to all of her family as she gazed around, looking bored. “Say hello!” I whispered furiously as I leaned over under the pretext of fixing her hair.
“Dimitri’s a stupid name.” She said with a look of scorn from under her lashes as she looked at the handsome man in front of her, why must she do this to me?! For the most part the people who could hear Electra laughed at her greeting, but I heard a few tuts and hisses of disapproval.
“Electra! Don’t children just say the funniest things?” I laughed, smiling at Dimitri while putting my hand on Electra’s shoulder and pinching her just a little harder than I should have. She had to learn the social graces. Cora had told me Dimitri was a shipping magnate, definitely a powerful man. Power turned me on, and money, I had to make a good impression.
“It’s fine.” A thin smile spread across his face, emphasising his strong features. The thick, Greek eyebrows, the strong aquiline nose and sharp cheekbones. Thick black hair that showed no signs of graying even though he was well into his forties, the impeccably cut suit showcasing his lean, toned body.
“Do you want to kiss my mama?” Electra blurted out, still staring at him with a cold look as he looked down at her awkwardly. Where on earth did she get that from?!
“Electra!” I feigned a laugh as I clenched my teeth, “why don’t you go to your room now, it’s getting late.” I shooed her off towards the bedrooms. Why did she have to be such a hassle? “I’m so sorry about that, my daughter doesn’t seem to have a filter.”
“Ah no worries, she’s quite the feisty young lady.” He stared at me for a while, the deep green eyes looking straight into mine. “She’s right you know, I want to kiss you very much, you’re easily the most beautiful woman in the room.”
“Dimitri you flatter me.” I blushed lightly as he spoke, the most beautiful woman in the room? Wow! “Just so you know I’m recently divorced.” I didn’t know if that would be a deal breaker, what did men think of divorced women?
“As am I. It makes no difference to me.” His hand lightly brushed my waist as he moved closer to me. “We should have lunch some time. Take my card.” He said, gently placing his gold engraved card in my hand. “I must go now but please give me a call. I’ll be in back in town next week.” And with a ping of the elevator doors he was gone. Maybe I didn’t have to be so lonely after all.
* * *
Sorry about the outfit change at the beginning from the last chapter – I had some issues with the game, resulting in having to delete some custom content, including that outfit.
Also a big thank you to everyone for getting me to 15,000 views! 😀 You guys are so amazing.