As midday moves in on the idyllic waterfront town, its residents get prepared for the social event of the season.
For Olivia Leavenworth, F.A.C.T. is just one of many charitable boards she leads. Olivia could be described as a great beauty with red mahogany hair and light green eyes that could pierce right through you, or seduce you, if she wanted. Philanthropy is her game, and she knows how to play; Olivia understands the power of currency and of perceived reputation.
Walking through their Waters End home, Xavier listens in on his mother’s phone call. “Ok, here we go… I’d be very careful; you’re playing a dangerous game of chicken… If The West Lake Foundation does not receive your check by the end of day, I will pull your name from every event list for the season, and I’ll tell all our friends why you’ve been taken off those lists; you know what that means, don’t you? You’ll be blackballed from ever attending any function in this town again,” Olivia says with a polite viciousness. “I should mention, the donation is a great tax write off, and we wouldn’t want the IRS going through Jim’s taxes now… I’m so glad I can count on your donation! Can’t wait to see you at the fundraiser tonight! I’m sure you’ll look lovely in that purple silk number you wore last year,” she says in a sickeningly sweet tone.
Xavier enters his mother’s office; Olivia looks up, always happy to see her son.
“Hello my beautiful boy! What can I do for you?” she asks, getting up to hug him. “I’d hate to be the person on the other end of that phone call. You don’t think you were a little harsh?” Xavier asks. “Linda Rhodes can take it, trust me,” Olivia quips. Xavier chimes in, “They’re having money problems, from what I hear.” As the two of them start walking to the kitchen, Olivia dives into a sermon of her idea of economics among the financially “comfortable.” “You’ve got some things to learn about the ‘comfortable;’ ‘comfortable’ people function differently, particularly in times of financial crisis.” The pair enter the kitchen, and she motions for Xavier to have a seat at the island. “You look hungry.” Olivia starts putting together a board loaded with apricots, figs, and the finest camembert and brie cheeses from France, and places a Pellegrino in front of him. She continues the lesson. “The wealthy are different, baby, don’t make any mistake about that. See, the poor conserve and budget in hard times… that’s why they’re so poor. The wealthy know that that’s precisely the time to spend; this game is called ‘Million Dollar Spit in the Ocean.’” “What are the rules to this so-called ‘game,’ Mom?” Xavier inquires, with a giggle of disbelief. “You may laugh, but the rules are simple: hide your cards close to the vest, and a strong bluff is worth more than a full house or aces high. Look, there are going to be a lot of people at the fundraiser tonight, important people. If the Rhodes’ want any chance of getting through their financial troubles, they’re going to need the support of those people at the event. And those people are going to make judgements based on how the Rhodes’ act, how they look, and how freely they give. From those things, they will know the strength of Jim Rhodes’ resolve.” “Wow. Why all the games?” he asks. Passing the overflowing charcuterie board, she says, “That’s the game of life.”
Olivia isn’t the only resident doling out life lessons.
Angela pulls into the parking lot of Bottom of the Fifth to find that her appointment is already there, waiting. The man exits his car and gets into Angela’s black Mercedes. “Long time, no see. Connie says that you go by ‘Angela’ now… classy,” he says, with a devilish grin. “Martin Kray… it’s been a long time,” Angela replies. Martin, anxious to get to the point, continues, “So what is this meeting for… Angela… and how do I know you two aren’t working together?” Martin starts scoping the parking lot to see if they’re being watched. “Connie is an acquired taste which I no longer find pleasing. I’m here to give you the truth about what happened in your case, but I need you to tell me what Connie is offering you, and I need it for tonight,” Angela declares. Martin responds with a curious glint in his eye, “I don’t know what you did to each other, but it must have been something bad because you two are out for blood. When she told me that she located you five years ago and was waiting for the right time –” Stunned, Angela interrupts Martin. “Wait… Connie has known where I’ve been for past five years?!”