Celeste had suggested I move on with another show as quickly as possible. My art was getting rave reviews from the critics and the buyers were clamoring for more work. The most popular were the paintings I did of Celeste and of Tommy, in such a short space of time they had been dubbed the new necessity for social acceptance in the art world, if I’d painted you, then you’d apparently ‘made it’. I’d already started more portraits for a show I wanted to do in the future with one of Kitty.
The portrait show that I saw for the future would be a mix of ordinary people I’d just ask to pose, combined with a scattering of models and celebrities to bring the crowds in. I hoped I could get Ingrid Cale to pose for me, she would definitely bring a lot of attention to the work, as well as grandma. I hadn’t actually asked her to pose for me, I presumed she’d be down for it but I wasn’t really sure how she felt about being painted, definitely need to check that one out. Although the portrait gallery was my focus at the moment it was still a long way off. It would take time to sit down with a host of different people, especially with the schedules of the celebrities I was interested in painting. My current show was all about the human form, a series of paintings of both men and women in just their underwear. At first I’d ran into problems because it had been done so many times before, I didn’t want to copy anyone or anything so I’d decided to spice things up a little by giving the main paintings a homo-erotic feel.
The guys clearly thought I was gay, and the girls obviously thought I was a pervert but I didn’t mind, I was paying them to pose, not to think. The paintings came out great in the end, at lease Celeste thought they’d do well.
Ah Celeste, after she’d kissed me on the night of the show she’d just walked off as if it was the most normal thing in the world, I wish! I didn’t know what she was doing, if it was just some kind of game rolling around in her posh English head or if she was actually interested in me (which I sure as hell hoped!) but I didn’t care as long as I got to make out with her again. Ah, that kiss…
The show came around faster than I expected, before I knew it muscle men in tighty whiteys and svelte girls in their panties weren’t hanging around my studio any more, the paintings were all set up, and Celeste was popping in to sort out the lighting and last minute details in between endless calls to her party planner. I was excited to see my family at the show, Celeste owned a gallery right on Grand Street in the centre of town, the Veloria Gallery, which had a studio and living space above it, so I’d been staying there. It was easier to ask my models to get to Grand Street than trek up into the country so I could draw them at home, besides I didn’t think mom and dad would have appreciated a bunch of guys and girls making out for hours on end in the sunroom while I painted them.
People were definitely shocked when they walked in the door. Not exactly by the homosexual nature of the paintings, this was the art crowd after all, more that it was a 16 year old who had painted them. I didn’t care about things like that, sex wasn’t something that made me squeam or get embarrassed or anything, I don’t really know why, maybe it was because I’d been looking at nudes from a young age, ever since I was interested in art, but whatever.
“My son! I’m so proud of you!” Mom gushed as I went over to talk to her. She had let me stay at the Veloria gallery for the past few weeks without any problems at all, I thought she might have tried to keep me at home, as I was still in school and stuff, but she’d just mumbled somethings about ‘her at my age..’ and walked off, whatever that was supposed to mean.
“Now I know I don’t know that much about art, but I do know these are amazing son. I really love them.” She looked around the room, taking in all the work before she looked at me once more, smiling broadly. I was so happy that she liked it, it was fantastic to see her up and about after the awful ordeal with the cancer. You wouldn’t have even known she was wearing a wig while she grew her hair back.
“Thanks mom, I’m glad you like them. Is dad coming?” I looked around nervously for Noah, he was definitely happy that I was out making something of myself but he would probably have been a bit put off that his son was drawing men making out with each other.
“He said he’d try to stop by later. Listen,” she leaned in close to me, “do we need to have a conversation about your sexuality?” I couldn’t tell if she was joking or not, was she being serious?!
“Mom!” I shouted back at her, outraged. How could she even ask? “Don’t you think I would have told you?!” I couldn’t care less that she was asking if I was gay, it was the fact that she thought I’d keep something so big from her!
“Okay, okay, sorry!” She said, throwing her hands up.
After pecking mom on the cheek I went around and said hi to everyone, I had to make sure my presence was noticeable, Celeste said buyers loved it if the artist came and spoke to them, it wasn’t as if it was any trouble, so why not. Heading into the second, much smaller room with a few more pieces in I came face to face with Ingrid. I hadn’t seen her since the last opening, although I had gotten a call from her secretary, a Miss Suzie Sandor who invited me to an upcoming gala being hosted at her Grand Circle mansion.
“Well, well. Mr Belgravia himself. I’d take my hat off to you if I ever wore one.” Ingrid smiled at me, waving her arm around the room to indicate the art. “Who are these fabulously beautiful models? It’s a wonder bodies like these even exist.”
“That’s the first one I got, James.” I told her, pointing to him on a painting of all of the five models I used for the show. “He basically hooked me up with the rest.”
“And then you hooked them up with each other.” She joked, her hand resting on my arm for a few seconds. Looking into her face I was captivated. She wasn’t the most beautiful woman I’d seen, but there was just something about her…
“Do you think anyone will be joining us in this room?” She was definitely flirting with me.
“I dunno. I hope not.” I was trying to make it clear that I wanted to be in here with her, this was so surreal.
I’d had a poster of this woman on my wall just a few years ago, now she was flirting with me!!
“Who’s that one? With the grey hair.” She nodded back to the painting.
“Andreas.” I didn’t have to look at the painting, I knew the models by heart, my eyes never left hers. I didn’t know if it was the confidence I was feeling from everyone praising me all night, or the adrenaline rush of being so close to Ingrid Cale but I felt myself moving closer and closer to her, she stooped a little to be at my level, I didn’t feel emasculated or anything, who would if Ingrid Cale was stooping down to kiss them?! For a second I thought about Celeste, what would she think? But how could I resist a star of the silver screen?
* * *
The sense of elation I felt as I walked out of the journalism workshop was one I hadn’t felt for a long time. I hadn’t realised how behind I’d gotten on current affairs, how sloppy my writing had became, or, most importantly, just how much I missed writing. I’d finally caved and called grandfather, after all, what were family for if not to help each other? He’d gotten me onto the best course in the city within an hour of my call, and the next day I was there! I’d been hoping for some hot guys in the class, but they were total duds. Oh well, the writing was enough to occupy me anyway. I felt like I could do anything, thinking about the Nature vs Nurture debate we’d just had, thinking how the teacher had praised my work, it had been such a good day! I was so busy thinking about the class that I never noticed the loose curb…
Hitting the pavement hard I had the wind knocked out of me, ouch! I hadn’t taken such a bad fall in quite a while, thank God my spine wasn’t broken or something, jesus. I was definitely complaining to the local council about this one. Sitting up and nursing my head I got another shock, a total stranger leaning down right in front of me! He looked concerned, and was offering his hand.
“You okay there? Do you need me to take you to the hospital or anything?” He asked as he pulled me up. I was so embarrassed!
“Oh no, no, I’m fine, just silly old me, too wrapped up in my own little world to notice a god damn paving stone.” I laughed half heatedly, I really didn’t feel like talking, I just wanted to get home.
“You sure there’s nothing I can do?”
“Completely. Thanks for your help.” It was then that I really looked at him, he was actually really cute, and he was kind to boot! I had to take my chance now while I had it. “Um, I don’t know if you’re into it or anything but my brother Oliver is having an art show soon all these different portraits he’s done, I wondered if you’d like to come… you know, as a thank you.” I rung my hands nervously, it wasn’t often I was nervous about boys, but I wanted this guy not to think of me as a total freak.
He tilted his head to the side, smiling slightly. Damn I wished I had mind reading powers, I hated not knowing what he was going to say! It felt like hours before he smiled at me and nodded his head.
“I’d love to come, thanks…?”
“Kitty.” I smiled back, did I just pick up a guy on the street? Go me!
“Cool. I’m Laurence.” Laurence, hmm, the name didn’t really seem to fit the whole persona he had going on with the scruffy hair, denim jacket and converse, but whatever. After all, what kind of a name was Kitty?!
“Um, here, call me and I’ll tell you all about it.” I quickly scrawled my note on a scrap of paper from class and thrust it into his hand, and with that I ran off to my car, smiling to myself all the way home.
* * *
For a second I didn’t know where I was, then I remembered, Riley’s bed. I’d just lost my virginity, kind of a big deal I guess, but at least it wasn’t hanging on my shoulders any more. Moving to the window I looked out over the dark ocean.
What was I doing? I should just go home, where I was meant to be, I didn’t belong here. But I didn’t belong at home either, everyone was so perfect apart from me, the wreck of the family. They’d be better off without me.
“Morning honey bun!” Reena squealed from the terrace as I moved out into the bright morning sun after a few hours in my own bed. When I wasn’t drunk I realised how annoying she was, ugh.
“Morning.” I replied, sitting down and playing with my hair, I didn’t really know what to do with myself, hopefully there was some drink in the house.
“How was last night? Was Riley just amazing?! I think about having sex with him myself sometimes, but like, he’s my cousin! Like, ew?!”
“Uh, yeah, it was great!” I threw her a big smile, to be honest it wasn’t all that. I was uncomfortable with it, and it hurt a lot, but at least my stupid virginity was gone, I guess it made me a real woman. I sat staring at the ocean for a few more minutes, jeez it made me feel small. Looking over at Reena I noticed a strange look on her face as she stared at me, what the hell was she doing?
“What?!” I snapped after a few minutes.
“Babes, calm down! It must be your icky black hair that’s making you so angry. You totes need a Miami makeover, oh em gee! Isn’t that the best idea ever?!”
“You think I need a makeover?!” I accused angrily. Was she saying I looked bad or something, at least I wasn’t a walking barbie!
“Oh hun calm down, I know what I’m doing. Trust me.” Before I could object she’d grabbed my arm and was leading me through the endless glass house down to ‘the makeover room’ as she called it. Standing in front of the full length mirror I thought I looked fine, why should I change?
“Sweetie you’re more goth glam!” Goth?! I wasn’t a goth at all, just because I had black hair?! “You need to lighten the hair a bit, get some color on your cheeks, and a cute dress! Listen put this on,” She handed me a hot pink blindfold, “I swear I won’t go far! You’ll really fit in more with the Miami vibe.” She gave me her famous puppy dog eyes, well why not? If she wasn’t gonna go over the top I might as well let her make me look a little more Miami.
Stepping down once she was done a few hours later I didn’t know what she would have done, hopefully I’d just look a little more ‘fun’. We made our way back to the terrace where Carlie was waiting for us, she still wouldn’t let me look in the mirror though!
“Where the hell have you guys been I wanna go- OH MY GOD! You look so different Olive, I swear you don’t even look like the same person!” Um, was that good?! What had she done?
“Isn’t it sooo fun?!” Reena gushed, fixing my hair at the back, I still hadn’t seen it! I quickly ran into the house and looked in the bathroom mirror. Was that me? I looked completely different!
“WHAT THE HELL HAVE YOU DONE?!” I screamed, marching back onto the terrace in a fury.
“Hun just calm down, you look totally hot. Goth chic’s out sweetie, you wanna be glam, right?” I was about to scream at her again when I realised there was nothing I could do. I could go back to my original look but what was the point? I might as well give this ‘Miami look’ a try, maybe they were right, maybe I really did look better.
“So cute.” Carlie agreed as Reena linked her arm through mine.
“So girls, we ready to hit the clubs?” Carlie asked, pouring herself a shot and downing it.
“Clubs? Can we get in?” I asked nervously, if I was drunk I wouldn’t have thought twice about it, but I’d been in that stupid makeover room all day, I felt like I was going crazy.
“Of course!” Carlie and Reena both laughed at my obvious naivety. “In this town all you gotta do is look hot, flirt with the bouncer and you’re in. Lets have a dance before we go!” Reena ran and switched the music on while I quickly went to the bar and had a few mouthfuls of vodka. Much better.
We danced on the terrace for a few hours, I loved dancing, I just felt so free! I must admit the new look was making me feel a little more confident, I felt like I fitted in with the others more, who needed family when I had friends like this? It was as if Reena actually cared about me, wow, I loved them so much! The club we ended up going to was apparantly the best in the city, ‘only the best for us!’ Carlie had shouted as we rode up in the elevator, I must admit I didn’t think we’d get in, but after a lot of drinks I was feeling pretty sure of myself, and a quick flirt with the burly bouncer got us straight in.
“Don’t look now girls but we’re totally getting the eye.” Carlie commented as she enjoyed her Bubblegum Bubbles. The eye?
“Of course we are. Where are they?” Reena flicked her long blonde hair and looked around the club, quickly spotting the three guys across from us, smiling and nodding appreciatively.
“Um, they’re total duds. Why are there no hot guys here?” I asked the girls, I wanted to find someone cute to have fun with, not those idiots who only looked about our age. I’d had Riley now, I was worth more than that.
“Can’t you see the guy on the left?” I looked over at the foreign looking guy with the shaved head, um- ew much?
“What about him? He’s ugly.” I said.
“Who cares about his looks, he’s worth like 400 million, I met him last summer.” Reena said, seeming very interested.
“Sorry Reena babes, you know moms cut me off. He’s gotta be for me.” Carlie stood up, and smoothing down her tight leather dress sashayed across the room to where the boys were stood. Me and Reena followed a strategic 5 minutes later.
After a few minutes of shouting to each other over the pumping music we ended up downstairs on the dance floor. I got the best out of a bad bunch, I didn’t know his name, but he was a decent dancer so whatever. He definitely liked me, I knew that much. He kept putting his arms around my neck, which I’d strategically wiggle out of by pretending to be dancing, like I was better than him, I deserved someone better. At least I didn’t get Reenas guy, who I could see eyeing her up and down, a mini Barbie in her pink playsuit, impossibly long blonde hair and hot pink lipstick. He even grabbed her boob at one point!
I noticed Carlie was busy ensnaring her guy, they were over in a quieter part of the club, and I could see her hand grazing his crotch from time to time, I suppose a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do. Her mom was cutting her off, I mean I don’t have a clue what I’d do without money. Thank god mom didn’t lock my account when I ran off.
I guess the night was a success, we got guys, we had drinks, and we had fun. I just wished I’d met a better guy. Rolling out of the club at 3AM we were quickly picked up by the police, when we couldn’t give them any ID it was straight into the back of a cop car, for a second I was nervous but I just ended up laughing about it, after all what would they do to Lily Belgravia’s granddaughter?
* * *
Part 2 – the final installment of this generation – should be up tomorrow.
Also the family tree has been updated with Oriana and Alexandra’s families; can you believe that Lily is now a great-grandmother?!
– Marissa x