‘Granny’s here.’ Logan exchanged a look with Brodie; he did not expect their grandmother to be here, not least because it’s her daughter’s birthday and the world knows there is no love lost there. Lady Paula Sterling; the ice queen.

‘Nice of you to join us Logan. You’re very late.’

‘My apologies. Long day at the office.’

‘It’s your mother’s birthday.’

‘I know. That’s why we’re here.’ Logan took his place at the table, they are onto the third course; leave it to his mother to make a formal dinner of her birthday even if it is only for family. Their grandmother’s presence only makes this more fucked up. ‘Happy Birthday mum.’

‘Thank you.’ Leila wanted nothing more than to shut everyone out and pour herself a glass of something smooth. Why does she even bother with this charade? Her children don’t like her, she cannot stand her mother… so why bother.

‘So, how was work Logan?’ Paula asked her grandson.

‘Good.’

‘You still like it there I see.’

‘I do.’

‘You like it there so much you cannot be bothered to come home in time for your mother’s birthday.’

‘Granny he apologised.’ Brodie all but snapped.

‘He can talk for himself.’ Of all her obstinate grandchildren, Brodie is the most stubborn and he doesn’t disguise his feelings about her. All of them forged their own path away from the family business, made names for themselves in their careers.

‘You know what? Leave.’ Leila pushed back her chair and stood from the table. ‘All of you.’ Enough of this bullshit.

‘What?’ Paula Sterling looked at her daughter, positive she’d gone mad.

‘You heard me mother. Leave. All of you. Get the fuck out of my house. You all don’t want to be here so why bother?’

The waiters who were about to place the next course down, aptly leave the dining room with the food on plates.

‘You invited us to dinner mum’ Elliot stated the obvious. From the shocked look on the others faces they were thinking the same thing.

‘Yes. And I shouldn’t have. You children don’t like coming here, you,’ she turned to her mother, ‘most certainly are not welcome here because all you came to do is stir up whatever twisted shit is going on between us. Its my birthday today and I choose not to spend it as I do every other birthday.’

‘How is that mother?’ Bella inquired.

Anais giggled, it was all she could do not to burst out laughing.

‘Doing this with you people-’

‘Us people? We are your children.’ Brodie retorted, he did not want to come for this dinner, Logan all but begged him to because he missed the last two birthday dinners and had only been home for Christmas.

‘Ha! Regular mother of the year I am aren’t I? You, don’t even like coming home Brodie-’

‘You’re right, I don’t and it’s because of this.’

‘Because of what?’

‘This mom, this drama you create every time we come around. Are you surprised I want to absolve myself of it? You invited us to come for this dinner. A seven course formal dinner with your family for your birthday and here comes grandmother.’

‘You will watch your tone.’ Paula warned her youngest grandson

‘Or what? You’ll threaten to cut me off? I don’t give a shit about that granny, none of us do. We don’t need your money, or the Sterling legacy for that matter so save your empty threats.’

Paula Sterling looked slapped in the face at a loss for words. A first.

‘You know what, I was going to leave until Logan arrived and dragged me back in here. Happy birthday mother, I hope it’s everything you hoped it would be.’

One by one, the children leave as their mother asked them too. But not Paula Sterling.

Leila poured herself a glass of single malt whiskey, she did not expect her mother would heed her instructions, she came here not to wish her a happy birthday but to have it out with her. So she’ll go down swinging.

‘What are you still doing here mother? If I don’t want my children here, I most certainly do not want you here.’

‘I think you know why I’m here Leila so let’s cut the nonsense out. We need to talk about this mess your father made.’

‘That’s the last thing I want to talk about. He’s your husband, you married him, indulged him and now you want me to clean up after you two. This has nothing to do with-‘

‘It has everything to do with you Leila. Your father left us in a lurch and you are going to listen to me. We are going to talk about this right now.’

Leila knew fighting this was futile so she took a long sip of her drink, they are going to have this five-year-old conversation. ‘Talk away mother.’

‘You need to save Sterling.’

‘Why?’

‘Because we lose everything. There is no money Leila.’

‘How do you propose I save Sterling Luxury. Dad pissed away the money and you were happy to coast along for that ride so what has that got to do with me?’

‘Everything and you are going to do your part to save this wheel. Your trust and that of your children is tied up in-’

‘Do NOT! Do not threaten me with the trust, the lawyers tied that up tight.’

‘Sure they did and we can let the press know all about our dirty little secret. About how Sterling is going to hell because your father could not control himself.’

Your husband was a lousy business man, fucked half the country whilst you happily looked the other way. You think I don’t know what really happened between you two?’

‘And what do you know about that?’

‘You were a trophy wife mother. You allowed him have mistresses, probably bastards too, happily looked the other way because every new mistress saw a new treat for you, new diamond necklace, like the Harry Winston around your neck right now, that was mistress number seven wasn’t it?’

Paula seethed in silence.

‘Or twenty who knows. Your yacht, the apartment in Paris, the lake house in Bellagio, practically every single pair of diamond earrings you own was a gift from your husband to appease you into shutting up because you saved Sterling with your marriage to him and the clause in your pre-nup stated one false move of infidelity and the house of cards comes crumbling down. And like his mother, whom you so desperately wanted to please, you loved the status being a Sterling afforded you, Lady Paula Sterling. Queen Bee.’ Leila drained her glass. ‘And I believe the chateau in Cotignac was to avoid the divorce.

‘Are you finished?’ Not a word of a lie spoken from her daughter’s mouth but now is not the time to dwell in the failings of her life.

‘Not quite.’

‘I’ll make this short so you can understand. Your father squired away his fortune and the future of Sterling. You are his heir, his only heir so you have to save it.’

‘How do you propose I do that?’

‘Get creative. You have five children-’

‘Leave my children out of this. They have nothing to do with what your husband did.’

‘Mother dearest, aren’t you.’

‘I learn from the best.’

‘Whatever I did was for your own good.’

‘No it was for your own sadism. What you did, is unforgivable.’

‘You have five children. You married whom you eventually wanted to marry and look how that turned out. You were a child. You stood to lose everything and I saved you.’

‘No. You saved yourself from embarrassment and hurt me and now you want me to save you? It’s pathetic.’

‘Pathetic it may be but a necessary evil.’

‘As I said, get the fuck out of my house’

***

‘Did you come with a gift bag?’ Anais asks Logan. The siblings are hanging out by their cars, about to leave.

‘Yes I did. A nice bottle of wine actually and a card.’

‘Shut up. You got your mother a card too.’

‘I take it none of you bothered to.’ Logan decided against telling his siblings about the woman he met at the store but she has been on his mind all night. He looked at his watch, eight pm. With any luck, she will still be there.

‘You are such a good son.’ Isabel teased with a laugh.

‘Why do you think granny came tonight?’ Elliot asked the others.

‘To fuck with mom. What else?’ Brodie answered. ’Nais are you ready?’

‘Sure slugger. Let’s go.’

‘What? She started it.’

‘And you just had to go there.’ Logan laughed a little.

‘Mom already told us to get out so I figured everything was fair game. Even granny.’ Brodie shrugged.

‘Speaking of.’ Elliot motioned towards the door.

Paula Sterling walked out of the house, nose up in the air, still seething. All five children looked at her, her face full of rage.

‘Let’s get out of here.’ Elliot says.

They heeded their brother’s advice getting into their cars. Anais in Brodie’s.

Just as their grandmother’s car approached the curve of the drive, Brodie’s did too.

‘Brodie let your grandmother go before you.’ Anais knows that look on her brother’s face. Stubborn as.

‘I got here first.’

‘Brodie, don’t do what I think you’re about to do.’

‘I have right of way.’

Logan sat in his car watching the battle of wills between his brother and their grandmother. Brodie is so stubborn sometimes. He doesn’t much care for her and he makes no secret about it. He can barely stand his mother.

‘Brodie back up and let her go.’

‘No.’ Brodie inched forward and his grandmother’s chauffeur was forced to back the car up, to give Brodie right of way.

‘Knucklehead.’ Elliot laughed in his car.

The others waited for their grandmother to leave before following suit.

Logan rang Brodie’s phone and Anais conference Elliot and Bella. ‘You are such a dick, you couldn’t let her have the last word.’

‘She doesn’t deserve it.’ Brodie retorts.

‘Brodie she’s still your grandmother.’ Elliot knew none of this would mean a damn thing to his brother, it doesn’t to any of them but he takes it to the next level.

‘Mom’s my mother, so I have to deal with her.’

‘She’s your grandmother.’ Bella said.

‘Yes, once removed. I’m good.’

*

Leila walked away from her bedroom window, that scene gave her a little laugh, it’s what her mother deserves, that and much more. But she is also correct in saying that Sterling needs to be saved and regardless of their relationship, she knows it falls squarely on her to do so.