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She had to enter the working world earlier than she had expected, and under circumstances she'd never anticipated: she sought this job because she needed the money to support herself & Justin. At the time it seemed a godsend, saving Eleanor from having to admit defeat to her mother, and being made the assistant editor of a famous magazine like Livin' Large seemed quite an achievement for one so young & inexperienced. She thought she was on top of the world, and was more than thrilled to find herself in that position. But the actual work day has turned into a huge drag. Eleanor wanted to make her career in arts & letters: Livin' Large magazine deals with what can only be loosely called 'the arts' and 'letters' just don't factor in at all. Every article is about parties, about the extravagant lifestyles of musicians, celebrity gossip and celebrity worship: in other words, useless garbage. If she had been able to stay in school, things would have been different.

Eleanor parks her Volvo in the garage, next to Justin's Mustang, and is reminded that this too would be different if her mother hadn't cut her off & she hadn't been forced to drop out. The job is become a tedious chore, but it buys her her independence to live as she chooses, with whom she chooses. Justin is always in the kitchen when Eleanor comes home: Eleanor opens the door smiling, expecting to see him, her only real friend, her love & the source of all her happiness. But the kitchen is empty & cold, no pots on the stove scenting the air with his cooking, the oven unlit. Justin lives by a very regular schedule, he rarely does anying spontaneous, and Eleanor is immediately worried. Faintly, she hears the sound of mouse clicks coming from the office upstairs, so she heads up the curved stairs to find him in front of the computer, working on his photos. It seems normal enough, except that it is just not normal for Justin to not be in the kitchen at this time of day. "Justin?" she asks in a meek voice, touching his shoulder, almost afraid that he'll turn around & somehow not be Justin. He turn & takes her hands, and tells her that Alison dropped by unexpectedly. "She said she called Belinda, in N.Y., and that Belinda told her I'd gone back to them," he says. Eleanor reels at the thought, nothing could ever replace him if he went away, and the thought that he might actually have somewhere to go scares her. She treated him pretty shabbily once upon a time, so would it be any wonder if a group of people who worshipped him from the start should lure him away from her? "Why would she say you'd gone back to them?" she asks, and Justin only says he has no idea. Eleanor leaves the house in the morning & returns in the early evening: even the fastest jet could not bring him across the country & back in that space of time. Clearly Justin has not physically returned to N.Y. to rejoin his 'cult'....but the fact that they would still accept him back, after being abandoned by him years ago, frightens Eleanor more than any nightmare. "Please don't leave me, ever, please," Eleanor pleads, falling against his chest for reassurance. "Elle, I could no more leave you than I could leave myself," he says softly, caressing her. "They treated you like a god, they still would after all this time, how can I live up to that?" Eleanor asks, calling on all her courage to face her worst fear. "The last thing Jeanette said to me, was that someday I'd meet my Jane, so I better be careful who was stashed in my attic," Justin says, "I thought she was out of her mind, but she's turned out to be right. I lived my whole life minute by minute, I've never had a goal beyond what I felt like at the time or a thought about how what I was doing then might come back on me in the future. Until I met you, Elle: then I started regretting, things I had done that might put me out of your reach. My past is dead to me, and these people are just ghosts. You have to believe me Eleanor, I'm not worthy of anyone's trust, but I need yours. I'd lie to the whole world, but never to you." Eleanor knows the novel Justin's sister was alluding to very well, she wrote a great essay about it in her English Lit class last year...his sister made an apt comparison, she thinks. He speaks of his dead past, and living people as ghosts, a haunted man. Eleanor will not see his past rise up to burn his present into a ruin: whatever this business is with Alison & her friends in N.Y., she will face it with him.

Unless she's having a business lunch, Eleanor usually takes her lunch at her desk, eating whatever Justin packed for her while she works. Today, she decides to make an unexpected visit to her gallery on her lunch hour. Deeply involved in reading some comic book, Xtina doesn't look up as the door closes behind Eleanor. "Xtina," Eleanor says sharply, rapping her knuckles on the reception desk. "Oh, hey," Xtina says, looking up, "What's up?" Eleanor sighs, hoping Xtina doesn't speak that way to visitors to the gallery...but what good is that hope? "Could you tell Rebecca I'm here?" Eleanor asks, and Xtina grimaces fiercely. "She's not in right now, she's having lunch with some artist or something from San Francisco. Eleanor, what does she have that I don't have?" "Well, she has a college degree and experience running a gallery," Eleanor answers hesitantly, having neither of those herself, the only thing that puts her in a position above Xtina is her family wealth & connections. She can simply buy her own gallery, while Xtina must grub for a part time job in one. Xtina pouts, then sighs, "He doesn't care about that kind of stuff, Eleanor. I understood, with the blond chick, she was totally his type. So why her, why not me?" Eleanor is not entirely clear on what Xtina is talking about, but it sounds like Xtina & Rebecca are on opposite points of a love triangle. "Listen, Xtina, this is my gallery and I want it run properly. I gave you a job out of friendship, but I will fire you without hesitation if you cause any trouble over this romantic nonsense. Understand?" Xtina glares & murmurs 'bitch' under her breath. "I'm also your boss, Xtina," Eleanor snarls, "So suck it up."

The gallery door opens behind her, and Eleanor turns to see Rebecca returning from her lunch meeting. "Eleanor, how fortunate you are here right now. I was just meeting with a gallery owner I know in San Francisco, visiting L.A. this week. He's very interested in showing Justin's work in his gallery. And I've got portfolios on my desk from several artists I think you might be interested in showing here," Rebecca tells her. Eleanor's eyes dart around the gallery, Justin's work is still on exhibit, and it's hard for her to imagine anyone else's work gracing the walls. Well, Gavin will have his turn, but not until they've shown enough other artists to satisfy his sense of decency, Eleanor thinks, accepting the reality of the situation. She hadn't considered Justin's work being shown elsewhere, but it's the obvious next step for him. She certainly hired the right person to manage her gallery. "Tell me more about the gallery in San Francisco," Eleanor says, following Rebecca into her office. She spends a couple of hours with her gallery manager, talking about Justin's prospects up north and going over the portfolios submitted for consideration. When she returns to the office in the late afternoon, she is greeted by raised eyebrows & a frown from Corrine, but really, what can they say? Normally Eleanor puts in extra hours, they can't fault her for taking one long lunch.

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