Eleanor has no illusions about her artistic talents; she's no artist and never really desired to be one. Her love of art is purely intellectual, and she's herself becoming a curator, critic or even a gallery after graduation. So she took on an internship at Mercedes Arthag's new gallery, eagerly anticipating valuable experience that would help her in her future career. Mercedes herself turns out to be an insufferably stuck up socialite with no interest in art beyond what it can do to make her look worldly and important to her equally stuck up Beverly Hills friends.
The job at first promised to be no more than a receptionist gig, but Mercedes proved to be so utterly clueless about managing her new pet project of a gallery that much of the responsibility falls on Eleanor's shoulders, and she finds herself writing press releases and dealing directly with the artists. It's more work than an unpaid intern should have to deal with, but it's exactly the kind of experience Eleanor was hoping for.
After the long day's work, Eleanor thinks reluctantly about going home. She hasn't been at ease with being alone since her last online chat. And worse, even as much as he frightened her, she misses him, misses being able to share things with him she'd never dare admit to anyone face to face.
Before she leaves the gallery, she's rescued by a phone call from Stina, insisting she come her apartment to be dressed up so they can go to some club she just discovered together.
Gavin got a surprise phone call that afternoon as well. Tori Suzuki, a girl he'd met in Tokyo when he'd been visiting his mother's family there when he was still an undergrad. Her family has moved to L.A. now, and she's looking to pursue a career in modeling. And she wondered if her old friend could show her around this new city the way she once showed him around Tokyo.
So Gavin takes her to the Cobra Room for a few drinks and dancing.
"So, Gavin, are you seeing anyone?" Tori asks him as they move closer for a slow dance.
"I'm not," he answers with a smile.
The club is called Underworld, and supposed to the hangout for the fetish subculture. For Stina it's like a costume party where she gets to flirt with danger. For Eleanor, uncomfortably dressed in her friend's clothes, it's a trip through the looking glass. She's never done more than fantasize about this kind of thing, she's not even sure she'd want to do some of the things she thought about, written about.
Stina decides to try out the bubble bar while Eleanor goes downstairs for drinks.
Eleanor will never understand Stina's fascination with bubbles.
The decor is over the top, like the set of a cheesy horror movie. If this is representative of the fetish scene, maybe Eleanor doesn't fit in as well as she'd thought.
Not watching where she was going, Eleanor nearly stumbles into the dancer's stage.
Oh, Plumbob, it's Justin, she realized. Gavin once mentioned that he worked as a bouncer at some nightclub. But he's clearly not bouncing here, it's more of a...grinding, she thinks, watching him, hypnotized by the slow gyrations of his hips.
When he notices her, he smiles down at her. Suddenly overheated from the flame effects (What else could it be?) Eleanor rushes quickly to the bar for those drinks.
Whatever this it is, it is clearly not her scene, Eleanor thinks as she notices the other patrons of the club. are they for real, she wonders, or are they all like Stina, playing pretend, here for the thrill?
When Eleanor takes her drink to the couches around the dancer's stages, Justin is no longer there. As soon as she sits, he joins her.
"I never expected to see you here, princess. This place is for tourists and posers," he says as he sits beside her.
She starts to explain that it was Stina who dragged her here, but stops suddenly as she picks up on something he said. "Did you just call me 'princess'?" she asks, looking him hard in the eyes. Only one person ever called her that, the online partner she's been avoiding these past few days.
"Yes. And yes," he says, answering both the spoken and unspoken question.
"You!" she exclaims, angry "All this time, I've been chatting with you, and you never said a word. How could you?"
"I didn't know it was you, princess, not until a few days ago. I use the chat rooms to keep up with and find new clients," he tells her, "The first time I saw you, when you moved into the cottage, I had a feeling, from the way you moved, the way you spoke, you might be...my kind, but obviously inexperienced. I never expected to run into you online. But the more we chatted, the more I heard your voice behind the words you typed. The way you write, it's exactly the way you speak. But I thought that was just wishful thinking on my part, you know? I was projecting my own desires, that I wanted it to be you so much that I was making it be you. But, I had to know, so I got Zach to show me how to trace your IP. And that's when I knew."
"Zach knows?" Eleanor gasps in horror.
"Oh, hell, no," Justin laughs roughly, "I didn't tell him who I wanted to trace or why, I just asked him how."
"But even after you knew, you didn't tell me," Eleanor says.
"I wanted to to. But you do a pretty good job of shutting me down whenever I try to talk to you in person," he says, "And when I tried to tell you in chat...well, I fucked that up. I scared you and you haven't come online since."
"'I know where you live' is pretty standard horror movie lingo for 'I'm coming to kill you', you know," Eleanor answers, "Of course I was frightened. I've been scared to be alone for days." As she speaks the words, all the worry and fear she'd been carrying around lifts away, leaving the blissful feeling of relief.
"I'm sorry for that. I've never seen a horror movie. Or any movie, really," Justin says, "And now you know me, princess. What do you want to do about it?"
"Know you?" she laughs, "I think I've barely scratched the surface." Never seen a movie? How does that even happen in this day and age?
She hasn't slapped him or stormed off, which means Justin has a chance. A chance he isn't going let escape. He moves closer to her, reaching an arm around her shoulder. She leans in to him rather than pulling away. "Everything you've talked about in chat, every fantasy you've every shared with me, I can make that real for you," he says, his voice low.
They move closer, lips almost meeting, but Eleanor stops the kiss before it happens.
"You've given me a lot to think about," she says, "I'm not sure what I want."
Justin lets her go, "I have to get back to work," he says, "You know where I live. Come to me whenever you're ready."
While Eleanor is busy downstairs, Stina is in the restroom, checking her voice mails to see if Gavin has called. But there's not a word from him since she broke up with him. 'Undying love' my ass, she thinks bitterly as she turns off her cell.
"Where the hell have you been?" Stina asks when she finally finds Eleanor
The music is so loud, Eleanor can barely hear anything Stina says. Which is probably just as well. Her friend is so involved in herself, she doesn't even recognize Justin dancing right in front of them.
"You know, this place isn't what I expected," Stina admits sadly, "Let's go home and leave these posers behind."