Tag Archives: wealth

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 5

Admiring my body in the dressing room mirror I wailed that it would soon be bloated out with another child growing inside of me. Since the night me and Max had sex I had felt a little better about myself, he actually wanted to be with me, he liked the way I looked. He didn’t want to rape me and defile my body, he wanted to be with me. I was throwing up less and less lately, preparing myself for another pregnancy, I was also happier with my weight, I couldn’t really get much skinnier.

“Olivia?! What on earth are you doing in there?” I heard the shrill, clipped tones of Elizabeth from outside the dressing room and groaned. She was so infuriating, insisting on coming with me on my first major shopping trip, probably to make sure I didn’t buy anything too brash which would taint the ultra-conservative Elphinstone name. Tucking the $400 Calvin Klien t-shirt into the white Halston skirt and finishing it off with a $2500 Chanel jacket I went outside to see what she thought.

“Perfect darling. It seems I’ve still, as so many people say, ‘got it’.” She pursed her lips in a grotesque smile, clearly pleased with her modern terminology.

“It’s very conservative Elizabeth, isn’t it a little old for me?” I asked, tugging on the jacket and smoothing down the skirt.

“No, no, no. Now I know you’re young but you must understand this is the perfect outfit for a woman of the class which you now are. You cannot be seen in hot pants and an electric blue vest top, or something of that sort. Quelle horror!” I stared at her for a long while, trying to figure out if she was genuinely being kind or if she was just making sure I didn’t embarrass the family, probably the latter.

I felt older than my years through many of the outfits I chose over the next 3 hours. I flew through the stores buying everything from tights to sunglasses, from jackets to shoes, with a trip to Bulgari to finish it off, picking out several exquisite diamond pieces. The joy of credit cards eh? Elizabeth had looked disapproving as I bought so much, but surely she knew the price of looking good, she may not look like it now, but one day she must have spent money on decent clothes, and judging by the rocks on her ears she certainly still knew how to spend.

Max and I had fallen into an uneasy routine, still finding our feet, not 100% sure of the way the other worked yet, which was fine by me. We lived our lives pretty much separately. I spent the day at the spa, in the limousine taking in the sights, or out shopping. Max spent the morning in the home office, the afternoon in the work office (Elphinstone Diamond spanned much farther than I originally thought) and the two of us would meet up for dinner or a party in the evenings.

“You okay?” I asked as I padded into the bathroom one day, as we both got ready to go to a party at the cliffside mansion of one of his close friends.

Are you okay.” He said. What? Seeing the confused expression on my face he elaborated, “It’s are you okay. Not ‘you okay’. I don’t mean to criticize….” He continued rambling but I’d stopped listening to him, hurrying over to the small radio I cranked the dial up. ’23 year old Riley Sampson was found dead in suspicious circumstances yesterday at his uncles home in Miami, the family are asking to be left alone during this sad time.”

“Max! That’s him, he’s the one!” I shouted across the room.

“I know. If you ask me he deserves it. Good riddance.” He continued brushing his teeth as if nothing had happened. Riley was dead! What had happened to him, could it have been…? No!

“Max? Did you… did you do this?” I asked slowly, wrapping my arms around myself.

“Olivia! Don’t be stupid, I would never do such a thing and for you to even think that is… well frankly it is both ridiculous and offensive!” He glared at me, willing me to argue back.

“Okay, I’m sorry.” I said, extending a hand of apology.

“Come. We shouldn’t keep the driver waiting.” He hurried me along out into the passageway and into the waiting car. I vowed then and there to stop thinking of Riley. It was over now.

*    *    *

The year of my pregnancy was a whirlwind introduction to the European social scene. Max and I jetted from Saint-Sébastien to Paris, from Rome to Berlin, London to Vienna, Amsterdam to Prague. The private jet that I managed to persuade Max to buy was a godsend, I couldn’t have bared all those trips mixing with the commoners in first class, they let in anyone these days. Max’s friends were an eclectic bunch of socialites, celebrities, businessmen, artists and club hoppers, and they fascinated me. I loved being part of their scene, being photographed for major European magazines and being on the front page of the tabloids, having artists asking to photograph me for galleries or paint me for an upcoming show. For 6 months I was introduced to everyone that mattered. I kept off the drink for the sake of the child, as well as trying to stop my bulimia. I slipped up once, after a roast dinner at a traditional pub in London where we were dining with a new business associate, but otherwise I was doing well. The pregnancy slowed me down a little, in the last few months I went back to the house in Saint-Sébastien alone, Max had flown back home for business, but France had basically became our permanent residence. I couldn’t go back home, not yet. (N.B – There are no pictures of the pregnancy apart from this one due to my games strange choice of attire for her during pregnancy – naked from the waist down and a vest top with bright red heels.)

Another difficult birth produced Sebastian Belgravia, (who definitely inherited the family cheekbones – have you ever seen a child with such a defined face?!) named after his birthplace. The heir to the Elpinstone fortune, and a sure means of me getting as much money as I want if we ever divorce.

*   *   *

“Marie, keep up.” I barked at the au pair carrying Sebastian as I entered the house. “I definitely need a spa break, flying so much is taking it’s toll on me.” I remarked to her as we walked into main living area.

“Just set Sebastian down here if you will, and then go and check on Electra. I told Renee to have her in her crib by the time we got here, but you know what part time nannies are like, they don’t care about the children as long as they get their pay check. I trust you much more.” Marie now worked for me full time, with her own quarters in the house, and I couldn’t have done without her. Quite a cushy job I would say, jet setting around Europe with me. I sometimes even took her out to restraunts and such if I wanted people to meet the children. As she put him down I noticed how he grabbed for her, as if begging her not to leave. He’d never done that to me.

“Come to Mommy!” I scooped him into my arms and swung him round the room, at first he screamed in fright, Marie wasn’t allowed to do such things in case she dropped the children, so he wasn’t used to it, but he soon the screams became screams of joy. I loved both of my children, but I had to keep up a particular schedule now that I was a fixture on the European social scene, and I didn’t have as much time with them as I would have liked.

“Do you want to do some reading? We haven’t done that for a while.” I said as I set him down on the rug and pulled a childrens book from the shelf before joining him.

“Wead. Mama wead!” He shouted, slamming his little hands on the floor.

“Okay, okay, I’ll read and you can tell me about the pictures, okay? Come here, sit closer to me.” I smiled down at my little son, reaching my arm across his shoulders so he could see the book.

“..and the whale swam faster and faster, looking for his friend.” I watched him smile as I read him the story, which was about whales looking for friendship, as well as doubling up as a maths book, helping with counting. “How many whales can you see on this page Sebastian?” He looked at the page, clearly confused.

“Mama?”

“How many whales?” I asked, pointing to one of the pictures.

“No! Next!” He yelled, trying to turn the page and giggling.

“Mrs. Elphinstone?” I heard from behind me as I giggled along with Sebastian.

“Yes?” I asked, turning around to face the two women who were framed in the doorway, cameras and notepads at the ready.

“We’re here for the photoshoot. So nice to see you here with your son, such a candid moment.” She smiled down at us, she would probably write about how she found me reading with my son, still making time for my children even with such a busy schedule, which would increase public opinion of me. The photographer behind her snapped a few pictures before I stood up, might as well put a face to the story.

“It’s so kind of you to travel all the way to the house for me.” I said graciously as I stood up and a team of makeup artists and hairstylists made me camera ready. A quick fluff piece followed, questions about my fashion, children, and my charity. I evaded all questions about my childhood and the family wealth, which Elizabeth had told me I was to under no means discuss.

“Thank you for the interview. Can you just turn your head, we want to get a few shots of you. We’re putting you on the cover you’ll be pleased to know. Oh that’s perfect!” She clapped her hands in delight as I turned my head and stared at the camera, showing off my profile.

“Well that’s a wrap. Thanks for your time. Magazine should be out next month.” She slipped me a card as she left, telling me how much she hoped for another interview someday. I probably wouldn’t give another one, there were many more magazines to be conquered. As the day began to wind down, the sun not yet casting its orange glow across the world I settled down to enjoy a book I had just recently purchased when Max came barging into the house.

“Olivia!” He exclaimed, clearly surprised to see me. “What are you doing here, I thought you were in Geneva until Tuesday?”

“I had a photoshoot.” I mumbled, barely looking up from the book. He didn’t approve of all the publicity I was doing, he preferred to keep a low profile, only being known to the elite of Europe, not the commoners who devoured the magazines his friends owned. I knew he was glaring at me, he did every time I did publicity.

“Olivia.” His voice was so commanding I put the book down. “You know I don’t approve of all your publicity, and neither does mother.” I didn’t give a rats ass what his mother thought of me, I had secured my place in the family by having Sebastian, there was nothing she could do now. “And frankly you’re spending too much money. The bank showed me a bill for three hundred thousand euros a few weeks back. How did you spend all that in one weekend?”

“Oh Max just leave it, it’s only money.” Why he was so angry I didn’t know, it was only three hundred thousand.

“I know how you can make it up to me.” He whispered as he came over to the sofa and attempted to put his arm around me.

“Max!” I shouted, shrugging his arm off of my shoulders.

“Why Olivia?! We are man and wife, and sex is part of it!”

“You know why!” I shouted, giving him my sad eyes. I would have been quite happy to go to bed with him in reality, but that wasn’t part of the plan. “Just stop.”

“Okay, okay.” He replied, throwing his arm up in defeat.

“Can’t you understand that I can’t do it?”

“Olivia, we haven’t had sex since the night we conceived Sebastian. You have to break down those walls of defense again. Or,” He added, raising his voice, “I’ll find it somewhere else.”

I knew he had meant to hurt me with those words, but what he didn’t know is the exact thing that I wanted was for him to find someone else.

*   *   *

“Olive Belgravia?” The raspy voice asked as I picked up my cell a few weeks later.

“This is she.”

“I have some information, will you come in?” The voice was impassive, showing no emotion, giving nothing away. Ten minutes later I raced from the house in my car, speeding much to fast to the shabby offices downtown. Entering his office gave me the feeling of being in an old movie, the smell of smoke was overpowering, the dark blinds filtered out the light, making the never ending dust which floated around glint in the strips of sunlight that managed to get inside the room. Books and folders were crammed on every available surface, and a side table groaned with half empty bottles of various spirits.

The investigator stood up and moved to the window, strips of sunlight falling on his lackluster skin as he lit up his forty fifth cigarette of the day. “Take a look at that.” He took a drag on his cigarette and nodded to a pile of tightly bound dossiers.

“It seems your suspicions were right.” He said blankly, taking another drag. “You might wanna have a listen to the tape too. More evidence.” He looked out of the window again, turning his back on me. As I opened the dossier a sly smile spread across my face. These files contained everything I needed to finally be free, to finally be independent. And I intended to use them for just that purpose.

Generation 3 – Chapter 4

My heart ached as I typed ‘Belgravia’ into the search bar on Redcliffe’s leading gossip website, the host of entries that popped up made me want to break down and weep. The first one detailed the wedding of Kitty to someone named Laurence Williamson, whoever that was. I wish I could have been there for her, she must think I was the worst sister in the world. The next one told of the death of grandfather Chace, who died peacefully at the Chace Belgravia Wing of Redcliffe Memorial Hospital last Tuesday.

He joins his wife, celebrated actress Lily, who died 2 years ago.’ Lily and Chace were both dead?! Why wasn’t I there, I should have been there to comfort mom, who must have been crying her heart out. Ugh, I hated myself so much. More entries told me of the marriage of Oliver and Celeste, as well as the births of their children (I was an aunt now, what was I missing?!) and many posts showing Cora tearing up the Bridgeport nightlife scene after performing shows with her band. As bad as I felt, looking down at little Electra playing by my feet brought me back to reality.

I had to marry Max, it was the only way to ensure our financial security. And I would marry him, tomorrow. But first I had to get to Elphinstone Manor, where Elizabeth had set up a room for me, ready for the big day, such a hassle, but clearly a necessity with a pushy, traditional mother like Elizabeth. Throwing Electra into the baby seat of my new car (a gift from Max) I raced well over the speed limit through the winding streets until I saw the house looming over us in the distance, as imposing and overbearing as Max’s mother.

“Anyone home?” I shouted as my heels tapped on the marble floor.

“Darling, finally. You know how I simply hate to be kept waiting, get up here at once.” Elizabeth chided from her position on the upstairs landing, “and for goodness sake get rid of the child. Why do you think God invented nannies?” She said with a sigh, looking distastefully at Electra.

Hurriedly I handed Electra to one of the nannies and made my way upstairs, I thought I heard a little cry of ‘mommy’ from downstairs, but it was probably just my imagination.

After a restless nights sleep I sat in front of the mirror, trying to apply my makeup, but I was shaking so much it wasn’t going very well. Was I really doing the right thing, marrying this man? I barely knew anything about him, except that he was rich. We hadn’t even kissed yet, except for the peck I gave him when he proposed. Oh well, it was too late now.

He stood alone by the wooden arch decorated with flowers under which we were to married. Most of his friends lived in Europe, and he had told me he didn’t want to hassle them by asking them to fly out. So our wedding was a hassle was it? I didn’t mind, I had no one of my own to invite apart from Darcy, whom Elizabeth had promptly crossed off of the list for ‘being too common’. ‘She’d feel silly at such a formal wedding darling, better not to embarrass her.’ Elizabeth had told me. What a bitch, sat there in her white, didn’t she know only the bride was supposed to wear white?

I made my way nervously through the small crowd, feeling myself blushing as everyone stared at me. I felt fat and disgusting, I had thrown up last nights dinner but it hadn’t made a difference, I still felt ugly. Max smiled at me as I stood in front of him. I forced myself to smile back. As  he slipped the ring on my finger it became official, I was now part of the Elphinstone family, the biggest exporter of diamonds in the country.

Grabbing each others hands we smiled, and then he moved in for the kill. The big finish, the kiss. I felt sick as he moved towards me, as if the world itself was closing in on me, crushing my body. My breath was coming in short gasps, I wanted to push him away but I couldn’t make a scene. Then his lips were on mine, the gentle touch felt amplified fifty times over, it was Riley all over again, on top of me, ripping the dress of my body, forcing himself onto me. Hurriedly I backed off, and forgetting the crowd I ran to the wall, hoisted myself over, and ran.

The world seemed to melt away as I ran, I was back in Miami, running from that house, away from him. I ran and ran, right to the edge of the cliff, which overlooked a beautiful waterfall. This was all mine now, I was an Elphinstone, and as they owned all the land around here, it was mine. But not if I kept this up. I had to sleep with Max, or he’d be allowed to annul our marriage by law. But I couldn’t do it, it was too painful.

Surely Max would look after Electra if something happened to me? If I just happened to slip now, and crash onto the rocks below, she’d be well cared for, wouldn’t she? I didn’t want to leave her with no mother, but I’d rather have money than a dysfunctional mother like me. It was always an option. I must have sat by the cliffside for hours before I made my way back to the house. Sneaking into the bedroom, expecting Max to be fast asleep I was shocked to find him awake, laid on the bed, no doubt waiting for me.

“Thank God you’re alright.” He said as I came in, heaving himself up a little.

“I just couldn’t Max, it was too many memories, too much pressure.” I stuttered, looking down.

“Well you bloody well could have tried to make less a scene, people actually laughed you know!”

“I’m sorry.” Was all I could say. I looked down at the floor in shame, why was I such a screw up?

“It’s okay, I’m sorry.” He stood up, coming towards me as if to comfort me, but thinking against it he moved to the fireplace instead, poking the flames which were threatening to go out. “Why don’t we get away? We can take Electra, show her some culture, get a bit of relaxation. This could be our honeymoon.” He looked at me hopefully, god it was hard seeing him like this, he clearly liked me a lot more than I liked him.

“Okay.” I mumbled, still extremely embarrassed. A few hours later we were on the Elphinstone jet on our way to France.

*   *   *

After 10 hours in first class Max, Electra and I emerged into the heat of Saint-Sébastien in the Côte D’azur, or the French Rivera. I was awestruck by the beauty of the place as the limousine drove through the dense forest that kept the house secluded and down the huge tree lined driveway that led to the house. Electra loved the place, I’d sit outside, gazing out across the lake, occasionally catching glances of Electra screaming with joy as she ran around with her French au pair Marie.

The place was so peaceful, totally cut off from the outside world. Unlike Elphinstone Manor it was not grand and imposing, it was more of a farmhouse, although it was still huge. Smiling to myself I thought about how I could really get used to it here, it was much better than being back home, plagued with memories of Riley and of my wedding antics.

“Olivia? Olivia!” I could hear Max’s voice ringing through the house, he had started calling me Olivia recently, which infuriated me. My name was Olive. Okay so my given name was Olivia, but everyone called me Olive. “There you are.” He said as he came out onto the terrace.

“Aren’t you a little hot in that?” He asked as he sat down next to me.

“Aren’t you a little hot in that?” I chided back, fingering his thick jumper.

“Point taken.” the corners of his mouth raised fractionally. “Olivia, we need to talk about it you know.” I knew what he meant, the sex. I had been preparing myself for it since we had arrived 2 weeks ago, but  I was still weary, what if I couldn’t do it?

“I’m ready.” I smiled at him, trying to reassure him. He was sure to divorce me if we couldn’t have sex, it was always part of the equation for men.

“I really think I can do it Max. You know I love you.” We hadn’t said those words to each other yet, which was kind of odd I suppose, weren’t you supposed to be in love before you married? I didn’t know what love felt like, but I loved that Max could protect me and Electra with his millions, so I suppose that was a kind of love. The only kind that mattered was the monetary kind.

“I love you too sweetheart.” He said it with such conviction, his voice lowering and his hand touching his heart, I felt kind of bad that I didn’t love him back. Maybe I did love him, how was I supposed to know what love felt like?

“I’m ready Max, I swear.” I didn’t take my eyes off his as I spoke, when I read a murder mystery while pregnant with Electra it said the first sign of a liar was that they didn’t keep eye contact, so I forced myself to.

“Hmm.” He sighed, looking out to the gardens.

“Max what’s wrong?” I said, staring at his stoic profile.

“If you’re sure, I’ll be waiting upstairs.” With that he stood up and left, heading up to the bedroom. I waited a few minutes before I got up, it was too late to turn back now. We were man and wife, we had to have sex, it just wasn’t logical for us to not. He was fluffing up the pillows when I arrived, he hadn’t noticed me pad silently into the bedroom in my bare feet. He was handsome I suppose, at least I hadn’t had to marry someone ugly.

“I’ll take things slowly, I promise.” He told me as I joined him on the bed. I just tried to breath, I had been doing some research online, and it seemed like you just needed to relax. A lot of the websites I visited told me to call ‘Rape Victim Hotlines’, no thanks, I could barely think about the experience myself, never mind pour my heart out to a bunch of strangers. As his lips came towards mine I shut my eyes and tried to remind myself that this wasn’t Riley, it was my husband.

After a few minutes of kissing he broke away, waiting for my hysterics. They never came. The kissing was actually quite enjoyable, goodness why had I only just caught on?

“Are you okay?” He asked, his mouth agape a little.

“Max, I told you I’m fine. Let’s do this.” I said with a smile, throwing off my jumper and darting under the covers where our child was to be conceived. Part 1 of my plan: complete.