Excerpt: A Southern Belle: Forbidden (Meet Olivia Bettencourt)
Before she knew Lucas (The Professional), Olivia Belle Bettencourt was still the definition of a hot mess. This excerpt, from A Southern Belle: Forbidden, introduces Olivia as a sixteen year-old girl in high school.
Riley pulled up in front of the school just as it was letting out for the day. He scanned the kids pouring out of the big brick building. As on the previous two days, he was amazed that up here in New Jersey, colored kids and white kids went to the same school. Some were even walking together. Then he saw the girl.
As pretty as she was she wasn’t hard to spot, walking with her books in her arms with a couple of colored girls. Riley waited until they were turned off the school walkway onto the main sidewalk, and then rolled his car up the street behind them, slow enough to keep pace with their stroll.
When they were a block away from the school he pulled up beside them at the curb. As he leaned across the seat the girls looked his way.
No matter where they were from, high school girls were always curious about a cat that had a car. Riley was in his late twenties, but he knew he could pass for about twenty. Plus, he had his hair freshly processed. Besides the Temptations, he thought it made him look like a younger version of Sugar Ray Robinson. For extra effect he gave the girls a broad smile, wide enough to show off the gold tooth he’d got last year.
“Hey, hey sugar, how you doing?” he said to the pretty, light-skinned one. They all looked but kept walking. Okay, it was time to take his shot. “Hey, can one a ya’ll tell me if you know Onson and Jenny May James?”
The girls stopped. The two darker girls looked at the light-skinned one. Oh yeah, she’s the one.
The pretty girl took a step toward his car and leaned to get a better look at him. Riley took a long, greedy gaze at her titties stretching out the front of her sweater.
“Who are you?” she asked.
He pulled his eyes back up to her face. Lord Jesus she’s pretty!
“I’m a friend from down home—North Carolina,” he smiled. “I was in town so I was trying to look ‘em up.”
“What’s your name?” the girl asked.
She didn’t seem nervous at all. He liked that. “My name’s Riley, sugar. Riley Parker. What’s your name?”
“My name is Olivia, and I don’t remember them mentioning your name, Mr. Parker.”
“Oh, so you know ‘em?”
“Of course I know them. They’re my parents.”
“So where do ya’ll live? I’ve been driving ‘round this here town all day trying to find ‘em.”
The girl gave him the address, and then directions.
“Well hell sugar, I can give you a ride home if you want, save me from having to find it on my own.”
The girl named Olivia took a step toward his car, but one of the other girls grabbed her by her arm. The three girls put their heads together and whispered furiously for a moment. Then Olivia turned back to him.
“Well actually, I’m going to my friend’s house, so I’m not going straight home,” she said. “But you shouldn’t have any trouble finding my house.”
The girls started to walk on, but Riley called out to the pretty girl again. Something was bothering him; something that didn’t make sense.
“Excuse me again, sugar, but did you say Onson and Jenny May are your mama and daddy?”
“Yes, that’s right,” she said, still walking.
“Do you know a lady named Clarisse…Clarisse Maxwell?” he asked.
The girl named Olivia stopped. “I don’t know her,” she said. “She was a friend of my parents, but she died a long time ago, when I was a baby.”
As the strange, country-talking guy’s car pulled away Doris said, “I can’t believe you were actually gonna ride with him. Your parents would kill you if they found out!”
“He said he knew them,” Olivia said. “Besides, he was kind of cute.”
“Girl, he was old!” Gwen said.
Olivia smiled. “Well, I like older men. They’re so much more sophisticated than school boys. And they have money.”
“What do you know about older men?” Doris asked.
“You’d be surprised what I know.”
“Well I wouldn’t be surprised at your dad whipping your butt if he heard you talking like that,” Gwen said.
“That’s why I can’t wait till I graduate next year,” Olivia said,” so I can do what I want. I’m going to meet a rich older man and move to New York and live the high life, like Leslie Uggams or Barbara McNair. Either that or I’m going be a hippie—go to San Francisco or join a commune, and have free love all day long. And when I get tired of that, then I’ll find that rich man. My life is going to be so groovy.”
Doris shook her head. “Girl, you are crazy. I don’t know anyone who talks as crazy as you.”
The slap of running footsteps coming up behind them caught their attention. They looked back.
“Ohh girl, here comes your fine brother,” Gwen said to Olivia.
Olivia watched and waited as her brother Kevin caught up to them, breathing hard. “Hey, what do you think you’re doing?” he gasped.
Olivia glared back at him. “What?”
“Somebody told me you were talking to some strange cat in a car. Don’t you know better than that?”
“Kevin, you’re my brother, not my father,” Olivia said. “Stop being so square.”
“Hi Kevin,” Gwen cooed, batting her lashes.
Ignoring Gwen, Kevin said, “Well, you ought to know better than to be talking to some grown dude and you’re only sixteen.”
“I’ll talk to whoever I want, whenever I want,” Olivia shot back. “You can’t tell me what to do.”
“She’s going to join a commune and be a hippie,” Doris laughed.
“Well you act like you’re on dope already,” Kevin said. “I gotta go back to football practice. Do not get in any car with strange men, do you hear me? Act like you’ve got some sense!”
As he jogged back to the school Gwen said, “I swear to you Olivia, one day I’m gonna marry your brother.”
A SOUTHERN BELLE: FORBIDDEN