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Eleanor arrives at Mercedes' office at the usual time, and as usual Mercedes isn't there yet. Eleanor steps quietly into her office, listening for any signs of occupancy, as though Mercedes might be lying in ambush. The office is still, Eleanor sits at her chair for a moment, remembers she didn't come here to work & gets up again, and then stands with hands on hips, looking around, wondering what to do. She's here to quit: how that gets done depends in part on Mercedes herself. Maybe she won't even come in, Eleanor muses, it is a bit of an embarrassment. Eleanor sits back down at her desk, and calls Corrine's office, telling the receptionist the call is from Mercedes Arthag. When Corrine answers, Eleanor tells her she needed to quit Mercedes' employment immediately & wants to meet with her about replacing her assistant editor. It took a lot of guts to get it all out, not letting Corrine stop to question her at any turn. When she finishes, Eleanor braces herself to be laughed at, to be scorned for daring to call the important magazine editor, expecting to be employed based on an abysmal job history & an unfinished education...Corrine is quiet for a moment & says she'll be lunching at her desk this afternoon, gives Eleanor a time to be at her office, "Bring your resume," Corrine finishes with a little chuckle before she hangs up. Eleanor takes a deep breath as she lays the phone back down in it's cradle, hoping that last laugh isn't a bad sign.

Mercedes strolls into the office late morning, like it were a regular workday, and Eleanor rises to greet her with an angry frown. "How dare you send me to house-sit for you, just so you can make tapes of me?" she questions Mercedes harshly. Mercedes looks truly stunned, like Eleanor would just meekly accept the deception & intrusion. "I expect you get yourself cleared out from here immediately," Mercedes replies, trying to keep some authority, as though she's still the boss. Eleanor shuts her down, "I had no intention of staying a moment longer. I'm here only to tell you how despicable you are & that I won't let you get away with it." Eleanor's voice is strong, forceful, and Mercedes steps backward, as though pushed. "You can't do anything to me," she replies, her voice wavering a bit, no confidence. "Maybe not now, Mercedes, but I'm not going to forget..." Eleanor doesn't have much more than a vague threat, she hasn't got the kind of pull to do anything to Mercedes. But someday, someday, she'll be on top. Right now, she's got to rush over to the Livin' Large executive offices & meet with Corrine, and bullshit her way into a real job.

Corrine looks over Eleanor's resume while she eats a salad at her desk. "That took a lot of nerve you know," she says, "Calling up here, pretending Mercedes was on the line. The little professional experience you have is riddled with unprofessional behavior: dropping out of school, quitting the one job you've held before you've spent even a year there, and leaving suddenly, too, no notice." Eleanor keeps her voice steady & her head high, not showing any shame at how her actions appear on paper, "I do have a lot of nerve, Corrine. I was born into a very easy position in this society, and I could have simply coasted & been successful by anyone's standards. But I persisted in doing things that upset my parents, until they made me choose between what I felt was right for me & their financial support. I took a big chance, but I believe the freedom is worth it," she says proudly, and then continues with a quieter voice, "I know there's no professional excuse for my suddenly quitting Mercedes' employment, I know how it appears, and that because of my actions I shouldn't expect to enter the workforce on the executive level. But it's the level I belong in, and I do expect it, and so here I am." She's taking a huge risk...but she has nothing to lose, either. Corrine raises & eyebrow and laughs, and for a moment Eleanor thinks she's going to be shown out the door. "Well, of course I was already interested in you, I'm impressed with what you've done with Mercedes' magazine, you must have realized that or you wouldn't have called. Luckily for you, I know Mercedes very well, and can only imagine to what levels of unprofessional behavior the woman stoops, even in her office. So I'm going to assume your sudden departure from her employment was well warranted," Corrine says, finishing with a chuckle. Eleanor breathes, and waits to actually hear she's got the job, until Corrine continues, "I'll want you to start immediately, tomorrow. My current assistant editor is leaving in 3 weeks, and I'll want you fully trained as fast as possible." Eleanor keeps her smile to herself, keeping her demeanor professional as her salary & benefits are laid out for her. It's far more than she had a right to expect, she's just hopes it's enough to afford everything she wants to do with it.

Both houses are completely quiet when she arrives back in Echo Park, so Eleanor goes back to her own & figures out a budget based on her new salary, working out how much she'll be able to afford for rent for a new place, if she can get Justin to quit working & move in with her, dependent on her. He's never refused her anything, and makes a real point of being at her service. But she's not quite sure how much of that is a game with him, where he draws the line within himself, how far he would take it. Eleanor would do a lot for Justin, but she's not sure she could give up her career, not even for him...she's glad she doesn't have to make that kind of decision, and wonders how she's going to put it before him. Work means so much more than income: when Eleanor comes into her inheritance, she won't have to work at all. Eleanor will work, though, not like Mercedes, dabbling around with her gallery & magazine to feel important, but really work, like Corrine, dedicated to it, whatever it is. Not Livin' Large magazine: getting the assistant editor job is a first & most important step forward, and will teach her a lot & provide helpful connections while she ponders her next move in the game. Justin doesn't view his work as a 'career' the way she does, Eleanor knows that, and he does have to work for money, it's never been an option...the question is, is it just for the money? Does he get something out of it he won't get from just her?

Justin comes in while Eleanor is satisfying herself that she'll be able to afford to keep both Justin & herself in an appropriate lifestyle level with just her income: she rises to greet him right away, telling him how she told Mercedes off while she hugs him, telling him about her new job as she gives his ass a possessive squeeze. Then she tells him what she knows he's been waiting to hear: she's ready for them to get out of here, move in together. Justin is ecstatic, kisses her passionately. Now that she's given him that, it's time to tell him her other plans, "Justin, I need you to do something for me," she says, the way she would ask for just any favor, "I want you all to myself." Of course he tells her he's already is all hers, while kissing & biting her neck, Eleanor expected that. "I want you to quit...working...for anyone except me. I can afford that now, for a few years it might be tight, two of us on one income, but I've worked out a budget & I'm sure I can swing it," she explains quickly what she wants. "You want to keep me?" he asks in that flat tone of his, she never knows if he's serious, if he's playing his game. "I love you, Justin," she says, because that always gets him, a beautiful light sparks in his green eyes & he leans in to kiss her: knowing she can do that makes her feel secure. "I wouldn't be keeping you," she says gently as his lips pull away, "I just don't like that you're doing what we do with people like Mercedes. Since I can afford to provide for us both, I'd like you to give it up...I want you for a lot more than 'services', you must know that, I want to get married, and take care of you," she says, petting his hair as she explains her reasoning. He raises a stern eyebrow at her & frowns, "You want me in crinoline & pearls?" Eleanor cringes, sure he isn't playing with her, afraid she's hurt & angered him, "Oh, Justin, I didn't mean to threaten your masculinity," she apologizes in a breathy rush & he reacts quickly, right hand behind her head, tugging her hair, his left hand grabs her two wrists behind her back, holding her pinned, holding her so close her breasts nearly brush against him, just far enough away that the space between them is charged with electric current. "Threaten my masculinity?" he growls at her, "I don't think so Princess, not even if you had a knife." Eleanor looks up at him, trying to read in his inscrutable, beautiful face, if this is real, or if this part of his game. His grip on her hair, her wrists, is firm, unwavering, his stare doesn't flinch or flicker, Eleanor feels her skin flush & heat, she doesn't know if she's more afraid or turned on. It's all part of their game, she's sure, she thinks...but then, he could just snap at any time, too, and really hurt her, she realizes with tremble, for a moment the fear gains the upper hand. At that moment, his grip on her hair relaxes to a caress, he lets go of her wrists & holds her hand, and Eleanor feels the fear drain out of her, like it were an actual liquid flowing out of the soles of her feet. There's no question now, she's no longer afraid, and most intensely turned on. "You know I don't get hung up on that gender crap," he says, his voice soft & gravelly in her ear, as he nuzzles against her neck, biting, "I know exactly what I am, I'm your man, Elle. I'm your bitch, too. It's all good with me. I'll quit the business, I'll keep your house, if that will make you happy." Eleanor moans as she presses up to him, knowing he's carefully played her throughout, evoking her emotions, conducting a symphony of her feelings. That's what he gets out of his work, it amuses him to manipulate & control people, to dominate. "Will you be happy, Justin? Will I be enough for you?" she asks him, unsure, now that she's getting what she wants, if it's actually the right thing. Justin's strong grip comes around her again, lifting her up onto her desk, holding her firmly as he presses tight against her, "Elle, 'happy' is a whole new concept for me, 'happy' is something I learned from you, it wasn't something I went to work for," he says, serious, sincere, "Asking if you're 'enough' is ridiculous. You're everything." Eleanor sighs, rests her head on his shoulder: there are things he says that she takes on absolute faith, there are times when there is no doubt, this is no game.

"So you'll marry me?" Eleanor asks, smiling up at him. Her mother will just have to deal with it...."Elle, I'm honored you would even consider linking yourself to me like that, but have you really thought about what it would mean?" Justin asks, and Eleanor can only stare back up at him, not believing he would turn her down, especially since he's already agreed to give up his independence for her. "Eleanor, you're all kinds of things that I'm not, someday you might want to be president or something, and being married to me could cause you some serious embarrassment. I'm as good as married to you, you know that. I'd live in your closet to protect you, I'd still be all yours," he continues, and Eleanor has to admit to herself the wisdom in his words. 'Who is he? What does he do?' she hears the question they'll ask, if she tries to introduce him into her society as her husband. And she doesn't know how she's going to explain him. But she's putting him in a state of complete dependence on her, and thought the only proper thing to do to compensate him for that sacrifice, would be the security of marriage, giving him legal title to her money, should anything happen to her. "I know my position, I know what I can get away with. The important thing is that you're protected, in case anything happens to me, my mother would cut you off. Unless we're legally married, you'd have no claim to my fortune, you'd have no access..." she explains to him. He presses his finger to her lips and fixes his green eyes on her, "Eleanor, I don't have a life without you, I don't need your 'fortune', I don't even want to hear talk about anything 'happening' to you. You couldn't possible protect me from anything with your money, the only thing that can hurt me is losing you, in any form, understand? If that's your reason for marriage, we don't need it. There's no state or church on this world that could 'sanctify' what we have, Elle. Don't throw yourself away like that, Princess, it won't do anything for us & it could cause you so much trouble, anytime anyone wanted to get you, they could use me as a weapon. I couldn't handle that..." Eleanor is slightly discomfited at the thought of introducing him as her husband at social events, but it's nothing she can't overcome. She's defied her society before, she seems to take to it naturally,...but his concern seems to run a lot deeper, worrying that the association could damage her, "Do you have some kind of criminal record, Justin? I don't understand what you think people could use against me...," she asks, hoping for something less vague. "No criminal record, not since I was a juvenile," he says, clearing up at least that part, "It's no one specific thing, Elle, it's my whole life, a drifter, always outside society. And the work I've done, the things I've been involved in, well, you know how that is, I've performed in clubs, done things people find offensive & frightening, I could be recognized...It just doesn't look good, all around," he explains, no real explanation at all. He's told her so many stories about things he's done, the places he's lived, none of it in any cohesive narrative form...his past is obscure, anything he says about it only adds more to the mystery. Who could recognize him? In what context?


Meet the Characters & Read the Stories. Stories are for Mature readers, and may contain content not suitable to children under 16 or more sensitive readers. Tour Sim L.A.: visit the lot screenshot galleries, get links to objects sites. (Lots available for download at calisims yahoo group) All the Misc. stuff: Out-takes section, Links, Calisims award, Contact info