TWO YEARS LATER…
Celeste walked around the gallery making sure everything was perfect, she wanted Oliver’s show to be amazing and it wouldn’t do to have a broken light or an off centre picture.
She was a little weary that he had chosen so many paintings of her to be in the show, but she had to admit that they were amazing pieces of art; and she did look exceptional in them. She wasn’t aware that when she met Oliver 2 years ago at the National Park that he would have turned out to be her best discovery yet. The paintings were incredible, there were at least a few Masterpieces in this gallery and even more Brilliant paintings. The Redcliffe Review had declared one of his paintings, showing his brother Tommy, as his first ‘Masterpiece’. She still smiled when she remembered telling him the amazing news, Oliver had been trying and trying to get recognition for his work but he couldn’t do it alone. Luckily Celeste Clarence-Veloria had connections in all the right places, and quickly the Belgravia house was being visited by some of the cities most powerful people, all willing to pay exorbitant prices for his art.
Extracting her phone Celeste dialed the number of her party planner, she had told her to have the champagne here by 7, it was now 7.15 and there was no champagne in sight. Celeste was a stickler for timing, except when it came to herself.
“Cara darling, would you mind telling me why the champagne isn’t here?” Her voice was icy, her eyes slits of disproval as she listened to the party planners excuses. “Cara I don’t have time for this. I pay you for a service, I expect that service to be completed, get the champagne here now or I’ll make sure you never work in this town again.”
She knew she was harsh, but that was, in her opinion, the only way to keep people in check. They had to realise that there would be consequences if they didn’t do as they were told, her father had taught her that many years ago. The scene was all set, all it needed now was the elite of society to fill the room, and hopefully make both her and Oliver a lot of money, not that either of them needed it.
* * *
Cora ran through the house laughing joyously, she loved playing games and having fun, and was encouraged to do just that by her mother and father. Delving into her dressing up box she looked for the perfect outfit for todays game, even though she didn’t have anyone to play with at the moment she still had as much fun as she could, she was by no means a loner, but her own company didn’t bother her.
“Gather round and listen to me, for I am your ruler!” She shouted, stood atop a chair in the dining room pretending to address her loyal followers.
“To the treetop castle we go!” Jumping from the chair with a huge bang she ran as fast as she could through the kitchen, out of the back door and into the play area. Climbing up into the tree house that had been passed down through all of the family children she wondered what to do next.
“Cora! Come on we’re ordering dinner, get down!” Kitty shouted from beneath the tree house.
“Wait! Kitty, stay there!” A smile spread across Cora’s face as she moved to the corner of the room where she always kept a few things to play tricks on her brothers and sisters.
“What is it Cora, come on I’m starving!” Kitty tapped her heels on the floor, waiting for Cora to come down the slide, she wasn’t looking where she should have been.
“Cora!” Kitty screamed up to the tree house, wringing out her hair as she stormed off into the house, leaving Cora howling with laughter.
* * *
“I’m so glad you’re here, it’s been too long since I saw you.” Tommy told Jennifer as they settled down on the sofa in Tommy’s room.
The two had been inseparable since they met in the hospital two years ago, on the night of the ordeal with Arielle. Jennifer had really helped him through the entire process, comforting him when he couldn’t deal with his mothers illness, going with him to the support sessions and telling him all about her own experiences with her mothers cancer. Once the amazing news that Arielle was in remission had came through a few months ago Tommy had finally asked her to go steady with him, he had wanted to do it for months but he was with Arielle a lot of the time, just talking to her and spending time with her, he didn’t want to leave Jennifer feeling like a spare part, but now he could give her his full attention.
Neither of them were really paying attention to the movie Tommy had thrown on when she had first arrived, they were more interested in giving each other the full attention they hadn’t been able to give before.
Although Tommy was liking Jennifer more and more, and she was his girlfriend, he couldn’t shake the memories of Austin from his mind, and he didn’t really want to. He was starting to realise that it didn’t matter if it was boys or girls that society said you were supposed to be attracted to, you could kiss anyone you wanted, it wasn’t about their sex, it was just about your feelings. Tommy could feel Jennifers hand on his thigh, and felt his face flush as he stirred down below. He didn’t know how far Jennifer wanted to go, he knew she wasn’t a virgin, but he was.
“Do you want to do it Tommy?” She whispered into his ear.
“I – um-…” Tommy stuttered, lost for words. Of course he wanted to have sex with Jennifer, he was a man wasn’t he?! He knew his virginity was supposed to be special, and he couldn’t think of anyone more special to him than Jennifer. The two teenagers moved to the bed, cautiously exploring each others bodies before disappearing under the sheets.
Afterwards they laid in each others arms, totally relaxed and comfortable with one another.
* * *
Kitty was bored. During Arielles cancer she had dropped out of most of her after school activities, and had not pursued the internship in journalism in order to be there for her mother. Now that school had broken for summer she had nothing to do with herself all day, so used to being incredibly academically busy before her mothers cancer, and being incredibly busy taking care of Arielle during the cancer, now she was stuck. Roaming the house looking for something to do she decided to go and see her brother, maybe he’d want to go to a movie or something. She never had learnt to knock.
She was shocked when she saw what was going on in the room. Tommy and Jennifer making out wouldn’t have been that shocking, but on the bed in their underwear! Sex was clearly on the agenda for them, she was so embarrassed that she ran out as fast as she could, knocking over a huge pile of DVD’s on her way.
“Kitty! Hey, Kitty!” she could hear Tommy shouting from the bedroom, she wished she had just knocked! Walking as fast as possible down the hallway she hoped Tommy wouldn’t follow her.
“Kitty wait!” She turned on her heel and faced him, both of their faces blushing with embarrassment.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” She said, throwing her hands in the air.
“It’s fine, just knock next time okay? And don’t tell anyone.” Tommy wasn’t sure how his parents felt about sex, after all he was getting old now, most of the people he knew had lost their virginity so it couldn’t be that shocking to them, but it wasn’t really the sort of thing you sat and discussed with your parents.
“Of course I won’t.” Kitty squirmed awkwardly as she spoke. She wasn’t that disturbed by her brother stood in front of her in his underwear, more the fact that she herself was still a virgin. She had wanted it to be special, and Jake just hadn’t been that person. Their relationship had been put under a lot of strain because of her mothers illness, and the two of them had broken up a year ago.
“Go and, I guess enjoy yourself.” Kitty laughed, pushing him back towards the bedroom. She still remembered how angry he was on the night of the party, before everything happened. She knew there was something behind it, probably to do with a girl (or so she thought) but she was glad he’d found Jennifer and seemingly gotten over it all. She just wished she had someone of her own, she was lonely, especially without Olive.
* * *
“Come on you pussy down it! I can drink more vodka than you!” Olive laughed as she stood on the terrace of her friend Reena’s parents beach house in Miami, a glass of pure vodka in her hand.
“No way! I can definitely drink more than a girl.” Marc, one of Reena’s Miami friends shouted back, throwing back the vodka in one swift gulp, causing him to choke and splutter as everyone laughed.
“Can you?” She looked around at her friends before she also threw her vodka back, standing perfectly composed.
The vodka barely affected her, she had drank so much of it over the past 2 years that she couldn’t get through the day without a few glasses. She always carried a silver hip flask in her bag, using it to spike her coffee or pouring it into a glass and pretending it was water. Arielle’s cancer had hit her worst out of everyone, she just wasn’t able to think positively, and had turned to alcohol to get rid of the thoughts of her mother dying that had consumed her daily. Her bulimia had escalated to the point where she was making herself sick after a single mouthful of food, and although Kitty had tried to help her, Olive just wouldn’t listen.
“Lets dance!” Reena shouted, dragging people over the dance floor on the corner of the terrace, Olive loved being around these people, they didn’t care what she did, drinking vodka daily and making yourself sick was just a normal occurrence to them, cocaine was also a daily habit, although Olive hadn’t joined in that one yet.
“Come on Olive, do that dance with me!” Reena screamed over the music, her high pitched girly voice ringing over the ocean. Olive hardly knew the girl, she had been in a few of her classes at school and had a reputation as something of a party girl, so one day Olive had just started talking to her. As long as Olive drank like a fish, smoked like a chimney and was as skinny as she could possibly be her and Reena got on perfectly, hence the invite to Reena’s step-fathers Miami beach house for the summer.
“What the hell are you guys doing?! Turn the music down!” Reena’s cousin Riley shouted as he emerged onto the terrace. He was staying with them at the house, supposedly ‘keeping them in check’, little did the parents know Riley threw more parties than Reena did, and did a lot harder drugs.
“Oh no, no, no, no, Ri-leeey! Please let us keep it on.” Reena mock-begged, sticking out her bottom lip and giving him her infamous puppy dog eyes.
“Hmm…” He mused, staring at his cousins friends on the dance floor. He had never really paid them much attention over the few weeks they had been here, he was too busy with his string of girlfriends. But he was bored and horny… “I’ll let you keep your crap little party going if you do something for me.” He leaned over and whispered into Reenas ear.
Standing on the corner of the deck overlooking the ocean Olive yearned for home, this wasn’t her place, not really. But she knew she couldn’t go back. She had caused to much trouble to just go back with her tail between her legs, she was too proud to admit that she had been a wreck for the past two years, she simply couldn’t cave so easily.
“Hey Olive. Thought I’d come see ya’.” Riley said, flexing his muscles and leaning against the stereo.
“Yeah cool, haven’t spoke to you much while we’ve been here.” Olive replied, checking him out. He was definitely attractive in a very brash, muscled, beach boy kind of way.
“C’mere.” He grabbed her shoulder, pulling him close to her and began whispering into her ear. “My cus’ told me you’re down for a bit of fun.” Olive looked at him with a confused expression on her face, her experience with men was exactly none. “You know, you help me out, I help you out, that kinda’ thing.”
“What the hell! No way, I don’t even know you!” She shouted back.
“Woah, woah! My cousin said you were cool, what’s the big problem?!”
She couldn’t believe what he was asking her, he had only met her a few weeks ago and he wanted them to have sex! Moving away from him and standing over at the edge of the terrace with her vodka she mused about her love life, no one had ever shown any attention to her, sure guys had wolf whistled at her in the street but every girl got that from time to time, maybe she should go with Riley, just to get it out of the way, she’d only need a little more vodka. She downed the glass.
“Olive! I can’t believe you! Riley’s gonna shut of the music, just because you won’t have sex with him!!” Reena shouted, her eyes emitting rays of anger.
“I’m not having sex with your cousin, I don’t even know him.” Olive replied blankly, staring straight through Reena.
“Why not?! He’s obviously great in bed, he must have had sex with like 30 girls in the two weeks we’ve been here, it’ll be fun, stop being so boring!” The words boring snapped Olive out of her daze, boring was one thing she always prided herself on not being. She may not have been the smartest or the prettiest girl, but she certainly wasn’t boring. Looking down at the floor she thought for a few seconds.
“I’ll do it, should be fun.” She faked a smile at her ‘friend’, looking around for Riley.
“I knew you’d come around! I told him you’d do it, so he’s gone to wait in the bedroom. Enjoy it sweetie, oh can you pass me my bag?” Olive leaned over and passed the hot pink clutch to Reena, who proceeded to fish out a small bag of white powder, which she laid out on the table and snorted with a rolled up hundred. It didn’t faze Olive, she was used to it. Heading up to the master bedroom where Riley she stayed she didn’t feel nervous at all, a little excited maybe, but really she just felt numb. She had been drinking none stop since she woke up, drink didn’t give her that elated sense of joy it gave so many people, it just made her unthinking, as if her sense was snatched away from her.
“Hey kido. Glad you came.” Riley watched from his position on the side of the blank white bed as she sashayed across the room in her spangled swimsuit.
* * *
“You can do this..” Oliver muttered to himself as he adjusted his shirt and checked himself out in front of the bathroom mirror. Tonight was his first show, and although he usually favored jeans and an old t shirt he wanted to look respectable for tonight, after all the photos would probably be on page six.
The party was the only social event going on. Well, the only one worth going to. It was an amalgamation of the Redcliffe glitterati, who had turned out in force to support who was soon to become one of their own. The star power was brought by Oliver’s grandmother Lily, the famous movie star, as well as a host of other actors and actresses, models, journalists, musicians, and business moguls who would pay exorbitant prices for a good piece of art. Oriana, Oliver’s aunt, was there with her rock star boyfriend Jasper (still going – well, is strong really the word for those two?) as well as his other aunt Alexandra, the international best selling author.
“The work is so great, I’ll definitely be buying a few pieces for the new studio Jasper and I are building in our backyard.” Oriana slurred, already drunk before she arrived. Oliver had never had much of a relationship with her, but he thanked her nonetheless.
“Isn’t it just divine?” Celeste’s clipped English voice could be heard shmoozing clients from the back of the gallery, where she basked in the attention that she was getting; people turned to stare at her once they noticed the woman in a lot of the paintings was among them. She was currently persuading a first time buyer to purchase, her specialty. “A Belgravia piece will just go so well in any setting, wonderful for a hallway or a dining room to really make a statement, you know sweetie,” she leaned in and whispered, “this is the young mans first show, and as you can see by all the red stickers around here he is very popular.” She stood up straight once more, her voice rising, “Why I imagine his paintings will be selling for ten times the amount I’m selling them for now in ten years!”
“There he is over there, isn’t he just a darling?” She pointed behind her to where Oliver was stood, still in conversation with Oriana.
“Is that Oriana Belgravia he’s talking to? She was on the cover of Rolling Stone a few weeks ago with Jasper.” The woman said, clearly impressed. Celeste knew she’d got her.
“Oh yes, his aunt you know. This family has a lot of star power.” Celeste had learnt long ago that for the majority of the people willing to spend thousands, or even millions on a piece of art the artist was as every bit important as the work itself. Coming from a family like the Belgravia’s Oliver had a massive amount of star power, she knew that people would be interested in the art just because of the name he had been born into.
“I can’t believe he did a painting of me!” Tommy was shouting from behind the partition in the middle of the room, staring at the painting of himself up on the wall, which had already been marked with a red sticker to show it had been sold, probably due to the glowing review it was given in The Redcliffe Review. “And who the hell bought it? Why would someone want a painting of me on their wall?!”
“Because it’s a good painting man!” Oliver said as he came around the corner. Tommy smiled at his brother, he was insanely flattered that his brother had painted him, never mind put him in the gallery. The two brothers hugged and stared at the painting, Tommy trying his hardest to look like he was interested. They caught each others eye and burst out laughing.
“My grandson!” Lily boomed, embraced Oliver in a light hug. “I simply love the work, it’s incredible, I’m so proud of you.” Lily was genuinely impressed, she was glad her grandson had some talent, she would have hated to see him end up like a lot of other rich, off the rails children.
“I must ask though, who is the woman in all of the paintings? I heard people saying she’s here tonight. I have to say she looks a little old for you.”
“Grandma!” Oliver laughed, he couldn’t think of his grandmother in a sexual scene, he preferred to believe she had never had sex in her life. “It’s my agent, she’s the one who made all this happen, and I just love painting her.” He smiled at his grandmother. It was true, apart from the part about being completely infatuated with Celeste being missed out.
“Well as long as she makes you happy, that’s what I always say.” Lily replied, thinking to herself that it was her who had made all of this happen, half the people here wouldn’t have turned up if rumors of her attendance hadn’t ‘leaked’ onto the internet, no doubt spread by Celeste. ‘I must get my Private Investigator onto her…” She mused as she walked off to chat with the co-star in her latest blockbuster.
“Am I brilliant or am I brilliant?” Celeste beamed as she quickly walked across the room to Oliver. “I just sold Starburst for three times it’s worth, people are willing to pay anything for these!”
“That’s great, I hope it doesn’t cause problems but I gave two of these to aunt Alex, so I marked them.” His aunt had expressed an interest in buying the paintings, but he never saw her, and knew she had a growing brood to support, with Celestes insane prices she might have left with nothing, besides, it took nothing for him to paint, it was easy. Celeste pressed her fingers to her temple to stop herself yelling in the middle of the packed room.
Slowly opening her eyes she spoke in an unnaturally even manner, her eyes never leaving Olivers.
“Are you being serious? That’s the most stupid thing I’ve ever heard, I could have made thousands off two paintings, and you’re just giving them away?”
“Hey it’s no big deal, it’s not like I care about the money, I just want some recognition for my work.”
“You don’t care about the money? Well you bloody well should because that’s what the recognition is. The more a painting is worth the more recognition it gets. We can steadily rise your prices with each show, but giving them away isn’t doing you any favors.” If there was one thing Celeste knew it was art, she needed Oliver to listen to her if their working relationship was going to work.
“Fine, it’s no biggie. I’ll paint two more and you can sell them privately.”
Celeste leaned back, glaring at Oliver. He was her best client, but his laid back attitude really got to her sometimes. She knew she couldn’t win this one, and it annoyed her. She was a woman who always won. But she had to give in before they caused a scene.
“Fine. Ingrid Cale is in the other room, she wants to speak with you.” and with that she turned on her heel and stalked out of the room.
Ingrid Cale was one of Olivers favourite actresses. He never really got star struck, having a famous actress for a grandmother you got used to seeing famous people daily, but Ingrid Cale was better than any of them, she was basically the Lily Belgravia of her generation, and for her to want to talk to him was amazing.
“Ah! Oliver! I have been wanting to speak with you all night, the art is fabulous darling, simply fabulous! And for one so young it is fantastic! I’ve already bought three pieces. You must come to my next party you know, I’ll make sure Suzie puts you on the list. Come, let us smile for this photographer!” She put her arm around his waist, smile fixed firmly in place as she stared at the camera in front of her. Oliver managed to smile just in time.
“I- wow, thank you, it’s amazing to hear you say that. I love your movies by the way.” He didn’t care if he sounded like a dumb star struck fan, he had to tell her how much he loved her work.
“Ah thank you! Now where is that waiter with the champagne, have you had much dear?” She craned her neck looking for the waiter, before her eyes rested on Olivers face, and she peered at him intently.
“You are old enough for champagne aren’t you? You’re what… 19?” She was a woman renowned for being able to guess an age perfectly, but Oliver stumped her. He looked youthful, yet there was an attractiveness and a confidence there she usually associated with older men, he was also a great talent, which she rarely saw in those younger than 18.
“I’m old enough, besides it’s my party.” Oliver replied slyly, grabbing two glasses from the waiter and handing one to Ingrid, letting his fingers rest on hers for a moment.
“My, my, aren’t you something. Definitely coming to one of my parties.” She narrowed her eyes and smiled at him coyly, she always did like them young.
“Amazing turn out wasn’t it?” Celeste said as she roamed up and down the gallery with Oliver. The party had wound down about an hour ago, the trail of limousines had looked like the Presidential cavalcade as they wound their way through the country lanes back into the centre of the city, many with a Belgravia piece wrapped tightly in the back.
“It was amazing, thanks Celeste.”
“Oh it’s no problem darling. Of course I’ll work out my commission, but that isn’t important right now.” Celeste needed Oliver. Although her place in the tabloids and her standing as one of the reat socialittes of Redcliffe was firmly in place her career as an art dealer was on the down. Unknown artists didn’t sell anymore. Oliver himself may have been unknown, but the Belgravia name was renowned world wide, and as such sold buckets worth of art. She wanted to show her appreciation for him in the best way she knew. Before Oliver could react she’d grabbed him around the waist, turning him towards her and looked into his eyes for only a second before she plunged her crimson lips onto his. He didn’t resist, she knew he wouldn’t. Just a second before she had kissed him Oliver thought he saw her face soften, her steely glare turn into one of kindness, or joy, but he lost it as he immersed himself in the kiss, his first kiss to be precise. He had gotten complete recognition for his art and his first kiss with a woman so far out of his league he thought she might be gone in an instant. All in all a a very successful night for Oliver.
* * *
Sorry if anyone is a little dissapointed that I sort of skipped over the whole cancer situation, I really wanted to do it justice, and I think I kind of rushed into the storyline without thinking about how I would do it properly. We’re on chapter 15 now (can you believe it!?) and I really wanted to give the kids my full focus. Also being an issue that is so close to my heart (and many others) I just felt it would be easier to move on with the story, and get back into happier times – I hope everyone’s okay with that!
What do you think of the new characters? Any ideas for how the story should proceed, I love to know what you think!
– Marissa x