Who’s missed Olivia and Jane and their alluring Upper East Side lifestyle? It’s impossible for me to post the full story on my blog, all at once (350 pages and counting), so I will now begin sharing chapter by chapter with you, as frequently as I can. If you don’t remember the first chapter (getting to know Olivia Martin, her parent’s death, meeting Jane Martin), please scroll down to the blog post titled, “Taking a Bite” and refresh your memory! Olivia has just lost both of her parent’s in a horrible car accident, and she’s about to write a new chapter in her life, alongside her best friend and big sister, Jane. Enjoy the latest installment of Taking a Bite! If you ever have a comment or question, feel free to leave your words below. Xo
“Liv, mom and dad were in a terrible car accident. A drunk driver ran a red light and smashed right into their car.” Jane held onto Olivia tight.
“Are they okay? Are they in the hospital?” Olivia asked her sister, assuming her parents were going to be fine. Jane looked at Olivia, as a tear rolled down her face.
The pain in Jane’s eyes told Olivia the truth. She knew they were gone. She shut her eyes, tight. Maybe, she could wake up from the horrible nightmare she found herself in.
Olivia picked up Chloe, as her hands began to shake, and her face became drenched with tears. She couldn’t believe it. Her parents couldn’t have died? They were going to be home soon. They’d walk through the door any minute, ready to hug Olivia tight and tell her all about their weekend. Her dad would smell of cigar smoke and her mother of her favorite perfume. Olivia was as pale as the moon. Jane was shaking. Olivia could feel her trembling. They had to identify their parent’s bodies; it was awful. Olivia was a wreck. Jane was too, but she was trying so very hard to keep it together for her little sister. When they returned to the house they contacted family members. For once, Olivia’s Sunday wasn’t spent at the mall. Her face stung from the constant flow of tears.
Olivia locked herself in her bedroom for days on end. She laid in bed crying; hidden under the covers. She missed two football games in a row, which she had never done before. Cheerleading was her life; her social calendar was everything, as was her usual routine, but none of that seemed to matter anymore. Olivia’s friends came over with gift baskets and cards. She didn’t want to see any of them. It wasn’t her birthday, or Christmas. She didn’t want presents. She needed her parents back. They were gone and Olivia’s life was changed permanently.
Olivia spent her nights sobbing and drinking; downing beer after beer. If she got fed up with the taste of beer, she would switch to wine. She was thirsty. Jane curled up in bed next to Olivia. She took the wine glass out of Olivia’s hand. Jane stroked her sister’s hair and cuddled with her until she fell asleep. Olivia woke up from a nightmare panting. Tears fell from her face and collected on her pillow. Jane reassured Olivia, that no matter how bad things got, they would always have each other; through thick and thin. Olivia would always be able to count on Jane, and vice versa. Olivia would never be alone.
“I don’t know what I’d do without you, Jane.”
“Well, you won’t ever have to find that out. I’m not going anywhere,” Jane whispered.
“Am I going to live with you in the city?” Olivia asked.
“Of course, Manhattan welcomes you.”
“I love you Jane,” Olivia said as she began to fall back asleep.
“I love you too baby sister, always.”
A month had passed since the death of Olivia and Jane’s parents. Life for the Martin girls was hectic, as Jane made plans for Olivia to come and live with her, in the city. Their uncle Mike moved from his three story, custom-built mansion in Pennsylvania, into their small suburban home. He would take care of everything. The girls were free to worry about other things (the list was endless). Jane welcomed uncle Mike into their home (a home he was very familiar with), and he smiled. He remembered building their home with his brother. A tear gathered on his face. Olivia gave him a warm hug and the tear vanished. Mike was attractive and silly. He was laid back and was constantly rebelling from societal norms. Jane smoked her first joint with Mike. He was occasionally married to his wife, Samantha. They had unresolvable issues. The girls loved Samantha (she had a beautiful, yellow sports car), but uncle Mike insisted that she was trouble. She was a fan of the girls, as well. Mike started his own construction company by the time he was thirty. He built homes for various rock stars, and former celebrities. He was the guy that everyone wanted to know, and be.
Jane wasn’t too fond of animals, but she knew her sister needed her fur baby. Jane pleaded with her landlord (an old, half deaf Italian woman), to allow them to bring Chloe with them to the Big Apple. Olivia had already lost her home and her parents. She didn’t need to lose her little dog, too. Olivia would have to attend school in the city and discover new friends. It was going to be an adjustment. Olivia was leaving her old life behind; waving goodbye to the life in which she lived and breathed.
Alyssa grew up down the street from Olivia. Alyssa was one of Olivia’s best and oldest friends. Olivia’s circle was small. Alyssa was awkward and still very much a little girl. She was the same age as Olivia, but she hadn’t yet experienced the world (no sex, drugs, or rock and roll). She had short brown hair and an innocent face. Alyssa came over dressed in one of her short floral dresses; her dark hair was straightened and she wore no makeup. She walked up to Olivia’s room. Olivia was shoving clothes into a pink snakeskin suitcase (of course). Olivia turned as the door to her sanctuary opened. Olivia was wearing a hounds tooth miniskirt and a low-cut black sweater. She draped her long beach waves over one shoulder and smiled. Her lips were lush with ruby red lipstick. Alyssa sighed; no matter what, Olivia always looked perfect. It was a gift. She wore tragedy well.
Olivia hugged her friend tightly. She looked over at the pile of cards on her bed. The cards began arriving a few days after her parents passed away, and never seemed to stop coming. Reading those cards and the sympathetic, apologetic messages, and illegible handwriting of her relatives, just made her upset. She handed the cards to Alyssa. She told her to put them away, somewhere.
“You’re so lucky you get to escape to New York City. I wish I lived there!”
“It’s amazing there. You should see the men on the Upper East Side…they’re just perfect,” Olivia said with a wink.
“God, I’m really going to miss you,” Alyssa whimpered.
The girls hugged one another for what felt like ten years. Jane yelled upstairs. It was time for Olivia to leave. Olivia dragged her suitcase outside and the cab driver plopped it in the trunk. Olivia picked up Chloe and put her in a purple dog carrier. She said goodbye to her favorite uncle, and he told her to be safe. Alyssa began to cry as she said the final goodbye to her childhood best friend. Everything was about to change, and everyone felt a sense of loss that day. Olivia slid into the cab with her sister, and waved goodbye to her old life, along with her old friend. As they drove out of Olivia’s small suburban town, she couldn’t help but look back. They passed her old school, and the town library (Olivia hooked up with her first boyfriend up against a stack of books in the Fiction section). They passed the park, and the town square. The town square wasn’t much; just a liquor store, a couple of boutiques and a coffee shop (sipping lattes with her best friend), but she was going to miss it; the quaintness of it. She thought about all of the memories that floated through her old house. She thought about her parents, and Alyssa. She thought about her childhood dog; an incredibly loving golden retriever, named Sammy. She thought about the football games and cheering for the stocky six-foot tall football players she had grown to love. She thought about the parties and the cheap beer, and her casual hookup buddy, Michael. She thought about the future and how she was going to adjust to living in the city of blinding lights. She didn’t know what to expect, but she knew as long as she had her sister, she was going to be okay; she was going to make it.
As they drove through the Lincoln tunnel, Chloe whined. On the inside Olivia was whining, too. Jane took Olivia’s hand and smiled. Olivia looked at her older sister, and although she was scared, she smiled back. She knew everything was going to be fine…in time.
Jane’s apartment was a two bedroom on the Upper East Side; very modern. As they got out of the cab, Olivia looked around at her new world. She grabbed her suitcase and her puppy, and headed up to Jane’s apartment. A cute guy walked past Olivia on the street and winked at her; and so it began. Olivia blushed. Jane giggled and nudged her sister. Let the trouble begin, Jane thought to herself. Olivia looked down at the pavement; her smile became weak. Jane knew Olivia was a little overwhelmed, but that was to be expected. She had just left behind the life she knew for a new life in a big city. Jane told Olivia she had a surprise for her. Olivia smiled faintly (hoping the surprise was expensive) and walked into Jane’s apartment. It looked the same; very clean and polished. It smelled of weed and Chanel No. 5. Olivia loved Jane’s apartment. She wheeled her suitcase into the guest room and flicked on the light. Olivia gasped. Olivia let Chloe out of the carrier, as Jane walked in. Jane had completely redone the guest room. It used to be beige and basic. Jane had never really gotten around to decorating it (too busy, and too stoned). Jane had used it as a storage room, for her shoes, books, and bags. The room was now spring green, and girly, and very much Olivia. Jane wanted the remodel to light Olivia’s face up with one of her pretty smiles. Olivia picked up Chloe and plopped her on the bed. She looked over at her sister and began to cry…and then, she smiled.
“You did all of this for me?” Olivia asked.
“Yes, baby sister. Welcome home,” Jane exclaimed giving Olivia a hug.
Jane spent the rest of the night walking around the city with Olivia. She wanted Olivia to get to know her new surroundings. Olivia looked around at all of the buildings, and lights, and all of the people who didn’t know her name. They didn’t know what had happened to her. She wasn’t going to be questioned about it. She liked that. It was too painful for her to talk about her parent’s sudden death. Jane pointed at stores she knew her sister would like, and restaurants that served Olivia’s favorites. It was a new chapter in Olivia’s life. She was going to write a beautiful story.
The next morning, Olivia woke up before the sun did. She couldn’t sleep. She sat by the window and said good morning to New York City. Chloe ran up to her and licked her leg. Olivia walked out into the kitchen with Chloe and grabbed her leash. She quietly snuck out of the apartment, trying not to wake her sister. Waking Jane could’ve been dangerous…depending on what pill she took the night before. Olivia reached the street below and looked around. The sun was just beginning to peak through the gaps between the buildings. She put on her sunglasses and stretched. Olivia walked a few blocks and sat down on a bench outside of a small boutique. She took out her phone and sent a picture of New York City to Alyssa. Alyssa texted back “Lucky bitch, come save me from New Jersey!” and Olivia giggled. Olivia knew she was lucky, to now be living in “the city that never sleeps”, but she was homesick. She missed her quiet little street, and her annoying neighbors. She missed the open space and the farms…she never thought she would miss her old town, once she left it, considering she had been planning her escape since the age of five. Chloe barked as strangers passed by them. Olivia tried reassuring her puppy, that they were home. Chloe didn’t believe her.
Olivia’s phone lit up. Jane was calling her. Poor Jane, the first night as Olivia’s new guardian and she woke up to Olivia’s empty bed. Jane asked Olivia where she was, and Olivia told her she took Chloe for a quick walk. She laughed and reassured Jane that she hadn’t run away. Jane laughed and sighed. She told Jane she’d be home in a few minutes. Olivia began walking back to the apartment. She looked up at the blinding sun. It felt good on her skin. She watched as a couple kissed one another and headed off to work. The man smiled at Olivia. A cab screeched to a halt in front of her. Chloe growled. When she got back to the apartment, Jane was making breakfast. Olivia let Chloe off the leash and sat down on Jane’s bed. Jane smiled.
“So, what do you want to do today? It’s a Sunday. New Yorkers live for Sundays. We could do basically, whatever. We could go out and shop, and of course, that includes a fabulous brunch, or we could stay here, drink, and bullshit,” Jane said to her sister.
“Let’s go out.”
“Does the dog have to come?” Jane questioned, handing Olivia a strong cup of coffee.
“No Jane, Chloe can stay here,” Olivia giggled, sipping her hazelnut coffee (her favorite).
“Animals just, bother me. I don’t understand their exact purpose. OH, and a few days ago I signed you into school; you start on Thursday. Public school in the city is much different than public school in south Jersey. You will do just fine. You’re pretty, and funny, and nice. Just ignore the assholes, and remember you’re a Martin. You’re strong and amazing, naturally. The school is only about, three blocks away. You can walk there,” Jane explained.
Olivia felt the nerves in her body tensing up and her stomach began to ache.
“It’s just weird starting over, and having to make all new friends. I was popular at my old school. I had a ton of friends. What if everything is the opposite here?”
“Olivia, you’re going to make new friends. People are going to like you. You can’t go into this thinking everyone is going to hate you, and that starting over is going to be impossible. You can do it. It’s going to be hard, but you can do it. I’ll help you,” Jane exclaimed, giving her sister a hug.
Olivia smiled and finished up her coffee. They spent the rest of the day roaming around New York City. They went out to lunch at a famous brunching spot on the Upper East Side, and went shopping at Bloomingdales. Olivia bought a few new things for school. She had an entire city to impress. They walked around Central Park and talked about the past, present, and future. They met one of Jane’s friends for dinner, and got really, really drunk. After dinner they wandered around the city, some more. The bright lights greeted the girls that evening and welcomed Olivia to her new home. It was a good day. Olivia couldn’t get enough of New York City and the nights spent with her sister (or the martinis). Jane was the only person in the entire world who truly understood Olivia. Jane could always bring a smile to Olivia’s face, no matter how shattered she was. When they returned home that night, they retired to Jane’s bed and watched old movies until they both fell asleep, exhausted. Jane had work in the AM. She needed to be awake and decent by seven; six would’ve been nice. When Olivia woke up the next morning, it was nine. Jane had already left for work. She didn’t want to wake up Olivia, so she left a note written in purple ink (Olivia’s favorite color). Olivia put her hair up in a bun. She poured herself a cup of coffee and read the note.
“Olivia; I’m sure you have a pounding headache, and you feel as though there’s an elephant standing on your head. Understandable, we drank an awful lot last night. There’s Advil on the kitchen counter. Drink some coffee and relax. I’ll be home around four. BE GOOD. Love you xoxo.”