Over the summer Kitty’s love of her journalism class went from strength to strength. She quickly moved to the top of the class, and by the time school came around she flew ahead of her classmates, standing out as ‘the one to watch’. Aspirations of being a political journalist were never far from her reach if she would call her grandfather, but she felt like she had cheated enough by asking him to get her on the summer course, so she kept working in her own time, hoping that the old saying ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ really wasn’t true; she wanted to think better of the world.
Devouring the ever updating political pages and reeling off article after article she sent them to every magazine in town, to no avail. Her frustration was only abated by the presence of Laurence, who she had been seeing ever since Oliver’s art show. They would spend long days roaming around the park hand in hand, evenings having dinner at the local bistros, and the cold winter nights curled up in the TV room. He was the one that kept her sane.
Although Kitty didn’t brag about the wealth of her family, or go around bragging about who she was, she still enjoyed the lifestyle that was afforded to her; something Laurence found difficult to deal with. Growing up in a single parent family on the wrong side of town Kitty’s life was something completely new to him. His mother had worked all the hours that god sent to put him through private school, leaving herself with nothing when she was paralysed at 40 after a bad car accident. Laurence did everything he could to keep the money coming in to pay for the full time nursing she required, but like Kitty he was finding it difficult to get a foot in the door. Laurence was too proud to accept the many offers for financial help that came from Kitty, but he was desperate to give his mother some security, and Kitty was desperate to help, so eventually they both gave in and went to see Chace.
Chace had been the top figure in business for the past 20 years, building a media and banking corporation that stood over all the others. He had been offering his granddaughter help for years, and was thrilled that she finally accepted; he didn’t mind that Laurence came along with her. He placed them both as junior editors at two of his separate publications. Of course he put Kitty in the better one. The magazines, resentful at first, quickly became dependent on the both of them to keep things running, finding their input invaluable. With his mother being safely looked after the two devoted even more time together, finally uttering those special words ‘I love you’ to each other.
After a day of pampering booked for her by Laurence, a walk in their favourite park where they marveled at the families running around with their dogs and their children, and a hearty meal at their favourite restaurant Laurence finally took the plunge.
She was thrilled when he popped the question, and immediately accepted. She had started to feel like she was lagging behind the rest of her family, Oliver was married with children, Tommy was in a steady relationship with his boyfriend and had been for some years, and Cora had been with an entire host of boys (but she was still a teen). Olive she didn’t know. She missed her sister desperately, and hadn’t heard from her in years. Their engagement period didn’t last long, a few weeks after Laurence proposed they married at a very small, very private ceremony on the beach.
The one thing they both wanted more than anything was a family. Both very family oriented, they planned on a huge brood of children with dogs, cats, horses, and a whole host of other animals in a rambling farmhouse in the country that they had seen while on a country drive. Unfortunately their wishes were proving difficult to achieve. The house was possible, they were both raking in money after flying up their career ladders, but as much as they prayed for Kitty to fall pregnant she simply seemed not to be able too. And it wasn’t for lack of trying.
After many unsuccessful months they went to see a doctor, who heartbreakingly informed them that Kitty had a less than 1% chance of having a child. Their dreams of family life came crashing down around them as they sat in the office, barely able to speak after hearing the news. Both of them withdrew from each other, in the old days they would sit and read together in a comfortable silence, now it was awkward between them.
Laurence hated himself for blaming Kitty for their marriage failing, he never voiced his thoughts to her, but he found it difficult to look at her without resenting her for not being able to provide him with a family. Kitty in turn couldn’t help but feel both guilty that she couldn’t fulfill Laurence’s wishes for a family, and depressed that her own family dream would never materialise. Physical attraction wasn’t a problem for the two, Kitty still found her husband extremely attractive, and Laurence vice versa. It was the emotional attraction that had drifted. The couple still had sex, even more so than when they were emotionally close, they found sex the only way to keep the marriage alive.
Amid the depression of her marriage, Kitty also became frustrated with her very temperamental immune system. Every day she would throw up for seemingly no reason. It became so bad that she had to start taking time off work. She also put on weight and began having cravings for chocolate and other high calorie foods like never before.
Finally going to see the doctor after months of sickness Kitty was in disbelief when the doctor informed her she was pregnant. Neither Kitty nor Laurence could believe it; against all the odds she had fallen pregnant. Their relationship seemed to heal overnight, awkwardness disintegrating, happiness returning. They both knew what a miracle this child was, and devoted themselves completely to it. Pregnancy books scattered the house, the cooking channel was always on, and Laurence was always listening and feeling Kitty’s tummy, reassuring himself that the baby was still okay.
On May 16th their daughter Alexis Williamson was born. They were over the moon that Kitty had gave birth without any trouble, they had been so convinced something would go wrong, after all the child was a miracle. They were realistic enough to realise that their dreams of a big family were over, but it didn’t matter. They had the love of each other, amazing careers, and a beautiful baby; after a long period of depression they finally had everything they wanted.
* * *
Cora Belgravia had grown up as the perfect daughter. Everything that a good, respectful girl should be. Educated at a small, independent all-girls catholic school where, among her academic subjects, she studied piano and ballet. One of the more extroverted girls of the school she soon became extremely popular with both the teachers (due to her high grades and valuable participation in class) and her peers (due to her sense of fun which had stayed with her from childhood and her friendly nature). She didn’t really know much about boys, drinking, or drugs; the darker side of life. Fun for Cora was participating in one of her schools ballet performances or playing board games with her friends at a sleepover.
As much as Cora enjoyed her more conservative piano lessons she loved nothing more than getting her fathers guitar out and stringing a tune together. She was adept in most instruments, she just never got a chance to show her skills off.
She resorted to playing around the house, thrilling her family with her amazing talent. Her father Noah, who was high in the music industry, knew his daughter had a talent. She’d had it since she was young, bashing out music on the xylophone. He gently persuaded her to explore other avenues of music other than her piano; and her mother recommended getting herself out to some of the less reputable establishments around town to take in the local music. Arielle knew that her daughter had led a sheltered life, and prayed for her safety as Cora left the safety of the Belgravia gates.
The bars Cora visited were frightening to her at first, as she sat in the corner watching the action, but she soon found as long as she could hold her own there was nothing to fear. However the perfectly coordinated, conservative outfit didn’t help her out so black and leather soon became staples of her wardrobe as she began taking to the stage in the clubs with her fathers iconic guitar that he had used for so many concerts in the past.
It wasn’t long before she was a regular at many of the bars, performing night after night to decent sized crowds. In amongst the drunks, underage drinkers and prostitutes was a man named Jeremy Harris, an old timer on the dive bar scene who had been trying to break into the big leagues for years. He told Cora all about his vision for a group, and thought Cora would be perfect for it. After a little persuasion she agreed to form a group with Jeremy and The Bees were born.
Consisting of Jeremy on guitar, Cora on second guitar, Jeremy’s friend James on bass, and Cora’s shy school friend Lauren who also happened to be a master pianist. By the time Cora and Lauren graduated the band had steady gigs at a few local haunts and were improving their craft day by day, trying to piece together some original music.
Cora loved being in a band, she found the companionship much better than slugging it on her own, if she made a mistake she could laugh it off with the band instead of standing alone under the brights lights quickly going red with embarrassment. Her first experiences of life beyond the tinted windows of the limousine brought not just the band to her, but also her first boyfriend, James Fruscani, who played the bass in the band.
Being her first boyfriend she didn’t know what to expect, but despite his grungy lifestyle and arrogant attitude she found that when they were alone he could be quite sweet.
Cora soon discovered the joys of sex and cursed herself on missing out for so many years. The two would make love in Cora’s bed when Arielle and Noah weren’t home, a rather odd backdrop for the rock and roll couple.
Although the two loved each other after a year together they broke up. The band was struggling, and it took it’s toll on the relationship, especially as they worked together all day and were together all night. Cora was devastated by both the failure of the band of the failure of her first relationship, and distracted herself with many different boyfriends that didn’t last long; including a brief fling with Jeremey which widened tensions in the band even more.
As many people as the two went through while they weren’t together they soon found that only the other could make them happy, and began their relationship again secret; Arielle didn’t approve of James and the rest of the band thought it was damaging their performance. The disapproval of everyone else made it even more exciting for the couple. They would steal secret moments together when the performance was over and the bar had emptied out, or James would sneak through Cora’s window late at night. It was everything she had missed out on as a teenager, and she was thrilled by it.
On her nineteenth birthday, after many, many hours of drinking, dancing and performing the couple found themselves at the local church sheltering from the rain. Laughing and joking as they ran up and down the pews they suddenly decided to get married. They woke the priest, who was about to throw them out before they shoved a wad of green notes into his hand, and were married then and there. He eyed the young couple warily as he presided over the ceremony and watched as they exchanged cheap rings bought from an arcade machine down the street and had their first married kiss; ‘kids’ he thought with a sigh before going back up to bed.
Arielle didn’t take the news well, but the band took it even worse. They decided to throw Cora and James out, but by this point the two couldn’t have cared less. They decided to start a double act, and Cora & James soon became a rock and roll version of the great Motown double acts. They tore up both dive bars and high end joints alike, making their stamp not just on Redcliffe, but across the country.
They were soon touring extensively, just the two of them, which left plenty of time for after hours activities.
It wasn’t long before Cora was having to run out to the front garden on the Belgravia house during dinner to throw up, she knew she was pregnant.
She was desperately nervous about telling James the news, although she loved him she wasn’t sure if he’d be to thrilled about having a child; it may mean leaving the music world behind, at least for a couple of years.
In fact his reaction was the complete opposite, he was thrilled when she told him he was going to be a father and was there for her every step of the way, even holding her hand as she delivered their twin boys, Julian Belgravia and Alexander Belgravia.
The family continued to gain more and more popularity as they toured the globe, flying home every chance they could to show off the twins to the family, who had soon came to love James once they got to know him and realised the arrogance was only a facade; he let down his barriers when he was with them. Cora’s life had fell into place in the most unexpected way, the day she entered that dive bar she set her life on a course she never expected. She wouldn’t have it any other way.