Friday, June 22, 2012

Chapter 71: Grab the Handle and Not the Blade

"I don't know, Regan," Violet says, "If you hold sleeping with Astrid against every guy that's had her, you'd have to give up on all our of male friends. The straight ones, anyway."

"It's not just that he had sex with her," Regan answers, "It's...he's just not who I thought he was."

"Who did you think he was?"

"A decent person. Real, you know? Not some fake Hollywood asshole."

"So, he turns out to be a dick, and now you don't talk to him. It seems like that should be the end of it, right?"

"It is."

"Except for all this moping," Violet says, nudging her friend meaningfully, "Maybe you've been spending too much time with Hollywood drama queens and you're becoming one of them. Or maybe this guy meant more to you than you're admitting."

"He was just a friend, if that. I was helping him with his scenes."

"If you say so," Violet answers, rolling her eyes.

"Why do you keep this painting of her hanging here?" Astrid demands.

"It's my painting," Gavin answers simply.

"She doesn't even like you, you know. She's a theater snob; she hates both of us on principle."

"I'm not taking it down, Astrid," he says firmly, "There's no reason for you to be in here anyway. No paparazzi around to take our picture." Blackmailed into a relationship with her, Gavin's not about to start opening up to her about his feelings for another woman. He knows Astrid  doesn't love him, and her little fit of jealousy over the other woman's image is nothing more than vanity; she cannot stand to be second place. 

Astrid tosses her hair and flounces out of his studio, leaving Gavin to paint in peace. If Regan does hate him on principle, Gavin can't find it in himself to blame her for that; he's not all that  happy with himself these days. What he would like is a chance to talk to her, to find a way to make right what he wronged. But Regan is rarely on set anymore, with most of her few scenes shot and  done with, and she refuses to take his calls. He'd probably have a better chance at  getting a hold of Tori, who has every reason to despise him. He takes a strange sort of comfort in the extremity of Regan's anger at him, for she would not have felt the sting of his affair with Astrid so deeply if she didn't have some feelings for him, and when this thing with Astrid ends, as it inevitably will, there remains the possibility of forgiveness and reconciliation with the woman he actually wants.

"I think you're ready to join our workshop," Chance, the acting coach the studio hired for him informs him after their latest session. He doesn't seem to remember the one workshop Gavin had attended in this very apartment with Regan, not all that long ago, and Gavin has chosen not to remind him of their previous meeting, mostly because he'd rather not have to explain why Regan is no longer speaking to him.

"I'm not sure I'm ready for that," Gavin says, wondering if Regan will be there, and if surprising her like that will help or hurt his cause.

"You need to do this sometime," Chance says, "And I think this is your time. You just have to put yourself out there."

"Gavin! What are you doing here?" Regan demands when he and Chance show up at her place for their workshop. "Thanks for not telling me you were bringing him along," she says, turning to Chance.

"Maybe I should go," Gavin suggests.

"I don't know what you did to make her so pissed at you," Chance says, "But I'll make it right."

Gavin wishes it were that easy.

"So, what is he to you? Ex-boyfriend?" Chance asks Regan in a hushed tone as Gavin joins the others on the couch.

"No. I worked on a movie with him."

"So you're totally over-reacting. I'm sorry I didn't mention I was bringing a student, but I'm getting paid to coach him, and I'd appreciate you not making such a big deal of it."

Regan bites her lip. Chance is right, of course, she is making a much bigger drama of this than is necessary. She should be able to be in a room with Gavin without freaking out about it. She could be in  the company of her most hated ex-lovers without making a fuss, and given the small theater circles she moves in, she often finds herself in exactly that position. So what is her problem with Gavin? That's not a question she dares give any deep thought to. "Yes, of course," she says, trying to convince herself more than Chance,  "I was just surprised to see him. I'm fine."

Regan and Hunter take the first turn at performing. They've been cast in the roles of Myrrhine and her husband Kinesias in a small theater production of Lysistrata, and rehearse one of their scenes together for the group.

Gavin and Chance take the next turn. They've rehearsed this scene over again until Chance felt Gavin was good enough to perform it in front of even this small audience. And the hard work pays off, as Gavin's acting skills have increased dramatically under Chance's tutelage. Regan finds herself actually moved by his performance, something she never thought possible.

"You're acting has improved," she comments, joining him out on her small balcony.

"Chance has really helped," Gavin answers, "And you had some influence on me."

"I doubt I had anything to do with it," she laughs, "A good teacher instills confidence in a student. I always thought you were hopeless."

Gavin takes her criticism with a smile, "I'm trying to be better at it, but I'd still rather be painting. Listen, I thought I might run into you at one of these things, but I didn't know we were actually coming to your house."

"You never mentioned me to Chance at all?" she asks.

"What would I have said?" he asks in return, "How would you explain why it is that you won't talk to me?" His question gets no answer. "I'd love to hear your reasons, Regan," he persists, "Because I think about you all the time." He pauses again, waiting for a response that doesn't come, "I have my own theory, maybe you could tell me if I'm right or wrong."

"I don't care what you think," she says, her voice meek and small.

"I think you do care," Gavin answers, standing in front of her so she's pinned against the railing, "I think my being with Astrid hurt you because you have feelings for me." He moves closer to her, their faces nearly touching, and, despite herself, her arms instinctively wrap around his waist, holding him there. "I think I broke your heart."

She stands still and silent, encircled in his arms, wanting to deny every word he speaks, but unable to do it, not even to herself.

"If I hadn't been so blind, I would have seen it before," he continues, his hands moving up to caress her shoulders, her face, her hair, "I would have acknowledged my own feeling for you, and everything would have been different." He leans in closer to her, her eyes close and her lips part, waiting for his kiss.

But before he can taste her lips, she shoves him away. "Get off me," she snarls. "The only feeling I have for you is contempt. Honestly, did you think I'd fall for your lies while you're having avery public relationship with Astrid? I know your type, Gavin, and I'm not having it."

"I'm sorry, I got caught up in the moment," Gavin apologizes, undeterred by her rejection, "I don't blame you for hating me." She crosses one arm across her torso defensively, but doesn't remove his hand on her other arm as he speaks.

"You, your friendship, has meant a lot to me," he says, looking her in her emerald green eyes, "I lost your respect and I don't expect to get it back so easily. But I will, Regan. You are worth every effort I can make to set this right between us." He doesn't wait for  response this time; there can be no answer until he acts on his promise. Nothing can be made right with her until he's made peace with himself.

As he's chopping the ingredients for the Dim Sum he's preparing for lunch, Justin tosses the knife into the air.

It spins over his head, rising up, and the coming down. He'll have to be very careful to catch it at just the right moment, to grab the handle and not the blade.

It could end in a bloody mess, but it never does.

Justin's knife-throwing performance goes unnoticed by Eleanor and Gavin, who chat over wine as they wait for lunch.

"The most important thing to me is anonymity," Gavin says, "I'll put up the money, but I want everything in your name. I don't want it to be some movie star's gallery, some celebrity hobby. I want a legitimate space for art that will be taken seriously."

"You're putting a lot of trust in me," Eleanor observes.

"Of course I trust you, you and Justin are some of my oldest friends."

Eleanor thinks about the way Justin once ran off with the rent money and car belonging to people who considered him a friend, but Gavin doesn't need to know about that. The opportunity he's offering her is too good to pass up, partnership in a new gallery, and complete curatorial control, with no money of her own invested in the endeavor. The only say Gavin is asking is to host his own work once a year.

"I can't tell you how much I miss your cooking," Gavin comments to Justin as they sit for lunch, "I've been to the best restaurants in the city, but nothing compares to what you can do."

"I don't want it to be in Beverly Hills," Eleanor says, having made up her mind to enter into a partnership with Gavin.

"Of course not," Gavin agrees, "Silver Lake would be ideal."

"Los Feliz," Eleanor suggests. "Slightly more upscale, but with the right bohemian vibe."

"Find the space, and I'll get the lease," Gavin agrees, happy to have taken the first steps toward taking charge of his own life. He can't just walk away from the acting job he's contracted to, and he's even begun to enjoy it enough to continue pursuing it when this current film is complete. But his art was always his priority, and he's not going to neglect it any more. Owning a gallery where he can show his work without enduring the publicity machine any other gallery would start up while hosting a celebrity's work is a huge step in the right direction. 

"I'll be so happy to be done with Mercedes Arthag and her gallery forever," Eleanor says as she explains Gavin's plan to Justin after he's left them, "And we'll be able to host your work there without  her getting a piece of it." She smiles as she considers the future opening in front of her. She may not even need to go back to school at this point, with the trajectory her career has taken. High on her excitement, she gives voice to an idea that she's been toying with for the last few weeks,  "You know, this might be a good time for us to get married."

"Princess, you know I would do anything for you. But I don't think we can do that."


  1. VIOLET.

    ...I mean, why not, Justin?

    I'm glad Gavin realized his mistake immediately. The scene between him and Astrid was pretty good.

    1. I'm so tempted to move Lyle in for Violet, they were such a pair.
      Justin will get a chance to explain himself.

  2. um why not Justin????? Is he already married and not telling her? Or does he not believe in marriage? What other secrets is he hiding?

    Astrid needs to go away. She is taking this dating thing seriously being jealous over Reagan's painting. I'm glad Gavin sent her away! She's a leech. I hope he's not still sleeping with her. They should be for appearances only. I think he and Reagan could be a cute couple. I hope he does work to prove to her he is the guy she thought he was. This thing he handled WAY wrong but he is learning from his mistake. I just hope Astrid doesn't cost him too much.

    1. I have a feeling I'll be saying in this in every reply, but Justin will explain himself soon. He's got lots of secrets that will eventually be exposed.

      Gavin is not actually sleeping with Astrid. I didn't say that explicitly, but I will be sure to mention that next time I do a chapter for him, when has to deal with Astrid. He has learned a lot from his mistake and is trying to fix it.

  3. I have serious respect for Gavin after this chapter. He's obeying Astrid's request but isn't acting like the little lapdog I thought he'd be, and is making a real effort to win Regan back. I'm starting to really like him again!

    Oh Justin <3. That last line made me literally laugh and clap my hands like a child. SO happy at that twist. Is he married? Is he in trouble with the law? Oooooh I'm so excited to find out!

    1. Gavin certainly didn't deserve respect before, but if he can earn yours, maybe he can earn Regan's too.

      And once again, Justin will explain, next time he has a chapter.

  4. Gavin just needs to step back from Regan until he has life on track. And wow, did Eleanor just propose? SQUEALS. And did Justin just turn her down? *sinks into a depression* I can't wait to hear his reasons for not wanting to get married.

    1. Thanks, Val!
      Justin does have reasons, and he will actually explain them, next time.

      Gavin is planning on stepping back a bit to get his life in order before he pursues Regan, so that he actually has something to offer her when he does.

  5. Very happy to see Gavin trying to overcome and fix his mistakes. I hope Regan can see he is sincere after a short time. Maybe a new pretty boy will walk into Astrid's life and she will dump Gavin like a hot coal. I hope his art gallery works out well. It's too bad that he has to use a false name now. Stupid Tori, wanting an actor boyfriend. But I guess he would not have met Regan if Tori had not pushed.

    Eleanor has certainly grown and changed. I like her confidence but there is a little bit of me worried that she will become a Mercedes. I never imagined her and Justin married, so I wonder where that idea from her came from. They are so right for each other, how they used to be, but I do see a little shift in her personality. I guess growth does that. I bet Justin is already married, or, his name isn't really his name, or, maybe it's just because it would create a legal document that would have his name in public for whomever is hunting for him. Love the mystery of Justin.

    1. I've got some plans for how the Astrid/Gavin thing will pan out, which you will see very soon.

      Eleanor is growing and changing, and it is in large part du to Justin's influence. She does have a reason for proposing marriage now, which she will get to explain in their next chapter. She's more practical than romantic, I'll say that. And of course, Justin will also explain his reticence.

  6. Hopefully Regan will give Gavin the chance he needs to make things right with her. I was a little surprised that he didn't try explaining the situation to her but I guess he figured it wouldn't do any good at this point.

    I'm happy that Eleanor and Gavin have worked out a deal on the art gallery, I think it will be a good partnership for both. I'm curious why Justin wouldn't marry Eleanor, I'm very curious to know...edenz~

    1. Thanks, edenz. Even though Astrid was pretty much blackmailing him into a 'relationship', he put himself in the position to be blackmailed by being so public about sleeping with her in the first place. So even if he explained the current situation, it wouldn't do much good.
      I agree, I think Eleanor and Gavin will be good partners on the art gallery. And of course, Justin will get to explain his reasons eventually. Thanks for reading!

  7. OH WOW! Lysistrata by Aristophanes!!! I LOVE THIS! HAHAHA Women withhold sex from their men to get them to stop warring! AWESOME LOL! Read that in HS and college it's just awesome! I'm gonna treat that like a real theater showing so you'd better not disappoint me (I know you won't) :D

    Ok Gavin wow. I feel bad for him though he caused all of this. I know he is a great guy I just wish he was honest and up front about everything and that way he could have Regan without issue :( I wonder if he'll explain everything to her about Astrid or just wait for the relationship to go away. Eitehr way I just hope Regan has some strength left to forgive him; they make a cute couple.

    Mmm hey there hottie. Why aren't you cooking nekkid? So I'm gonna say Justin doesn't want to get married because it'll expose him to the public? Since Eleanor is a very wealthy, very well-known name he thinks that people will be interested in knowing who married her and dig a little too deep and start opening old wounds he has yet to heal from...perhaps drag all his skeletons out of his closet. In a way it's nice because he is kind of protecting her. But in another it's bad because he can continue avoiding telling her the truth about himself. Either way, he needs to realize Eleanor is there to stay and talk it out.

    I'm as excited as she about the gallery opening (but more so about Lysistrata!) Please say you'll show even the tiniest of pieces!!! :D

    1. Yay, a Lysistrata fan! I saw a great production of that play where they had all the male characters wearing different appendages strapped to their crotches, like plastic bananas or giant inflatable pencils. And the Kinesias character was wearing a nerf gun toy thing which he had to shoot off during the scene with Myrrhine where she leads him on and then refuses him sex. During the scene, the actor had trouble getting his gun to shoot, so the actresses playing Myrrhine, staying character, gets on her knees to help him out, takes his gun in her hand and gets it to work. Both actors did a great job playing that 'wardrobe malfunction' up, making the scene just that more hilarious.
      Well, I can't do anything that good, but I will do my best to put a bit of Lysistrata on stage for this story.

      Gavin and Regan would be a cute couple, he just needs to make it happen.

      LOL, Justin only cooks naked when there's no company around...but you know that. =P
      He does have a few skeletons left in his closet that he'd rather not drag out, but you know it will happen eventually.

    2. HAHAHA that sounds awesome! LOL would love to see that version, malfunction and all O.o the Comm College (er State College as it has since been changed here) did a production a few years back that was so much fun but nothing as comical as that sounds! This is gonna be great! It fits perfectly with Stardust too! A true battle of the sexes! EEK! :D

  8. I'm glad Gavin is smart enough to realize that even though he's "dating" Astrid, he doesn't have to take all of her crap. His personal growth is also nice to see. Hopefully he and Regan can fix their friendship...or whatever 'ship they have going on.

    Heh, Mercedes' gallery may suffer without Eleanor running things.

    Anybody else think Justin should have a catering business on the side?

    1. Mercedes' gallery is totally going to suffer. Eleanor will crush her like a bug! Seriously, I have to do a Bill/Mercedes scene one of these days.

      Justin is a great cook, so he could have a catering business. But I can't see him allowing anyone else to touch the food during preparation, which would limit the scope of what he could do.

    2. Hmm...I wonder if Mercedes will try to save her gallery, or if will she find a new "hobby." Design a clothing line, open a restaurant or somesuch...there are so many possibilities when one has time and money.

      Now that you mention it, Justin definitely is too fussy to do anything that he couldn't run all by himself. Bit of a micromanager, isn't he? I don't blame him; you want something done right, you have to do it yourself...