His body inspires lust in some, fear in others, and Justin has never cowered from using any advantage he has to gain control over a situation, a person. Even Eleanor, when he has to.
She caresses him gently, and kisses him roughly, biting his lip, "I know what you're doing, Tiger," she whispers as she pinches his ear, "And it's not going to work. If you don't want to marry me, that's fine. But you aren't going to get away with not telling me why you say you can't."
So he rests back against her, resigned to the conversation he sought to avoid. "Princess, you know I'm yours. My whole life, I've never let anyone touch me. I never got close to anyone, and that was the way I liked it. And then you happened, you broke me open and got inside; I can't go back to what I was before. I can't live without you. And not in some sappy romantic way, I mean I need you for my own survival. I'm married to you; you don't need a piece of paper to prove or enforce it."
Eleanor smiles as she runs her fingers through his hair. No matter how long they are together, she never loses her sense of wonder at him, his beauty, his strangeness and alienation, and the almost intimidating force that is his devotion to her. "I'm not worried about you leaving me, Tiger," she says, "But I do worry about your situation if something were to happen to me. My trust fund doesn't mature until I turn 25. While I'm unmarried, that money would go to my mother, not you. And I'd want it to be yours."
"This is about your money?" Justin asks, surprised to find himself hurt by this revelation.
She laughs lightly. "My mother would say that marriage is always about money. But, it's not like I'm proposing a marriage of convenience entirely. I do love you Justin, and I want to give you everything I have."
"I have you. The rest..." he waves his hand dismissively at her wealth and worldly concerns, "Honestly, Elle, I don't like talking about anything happening to you. Having your money wouldn't..." he stops because he can't go on with that line of thought. Just imagining her gone, forever, tightens his heart, spreads emptiness and despair through him.
"It's all right, Tiger, I'm not going anywhere," she soothes as she pets him, "I won't press on the marriage issue. But I do want to know you said we can't get married."
Justin sighs, "I don't legally exist," he says, "My whole identity is a lie. I've changed my name at least a dozen times since I went off on my own. I get fake IDs, but I have no birth certificate, no social security number."
"What's your real name?" she asks.
"Names are just labels, Princess. You call me whatever you want, and I'll come."
"Sorry I'm late," Astrid says, in her slightly exasperated, put out tone, leaning on the bar beside him, "The traffic was insane. Are you going to buy me a drink, or what?"
Gavin turns to the bartender and orders Astrid a drink.
"You know, you don't have to treat our relationship like a punishment," Astrid sighs, "Since you're forced to be with me, you might as well get some pleasure out of it." Having an image to maintain has kept Astrid faithful to her supposed partner, but the fact that Gavin won't touch her beyond what's necessary to make a convincing public appearance has left her celibate for longer than she cares to be.
"I can't imagine anything I'd find less pleasing than being with you," Gavin says, "And it's time for us to end this charade."
"What?" she exclaims, purposefully loud enough to be heard throughout the room, "You're leaving me? You're breaking my heart!"
"Cut the drama," Gavin says under his breath, "There's no audience here to appreciate it. I'm tired of living this way, and I'm moving on."
"I don't think so," she hisses, dropping the broken hearted act since there really is no one here to notice it but the bartender, the pianist and one lone barfly, "We had a deal. If you break it, I will go to the media."
"And tell them what?" Gavin asks, "The whole drugging thing is kind of unbelievable at this point, since you've been going out with me, in public, for weeks."
Astrid pouts, "I can still tell them about your sick perversions," she threatens.
"Do your worst," he dares her, "I can live with it, as long as you are out of my life."
His 'date' cut short, Gavin goes home early, and watches night fall over the city. Whatever revenge Astrid has planned, he's free now.
"It used to be a gym," Eleanor explains, "But it's perfect for our gallery. There's even a deck out back to display sculptures," She moved quickly on his plan to open a new gallery, and has scouted out several locations, this one being the best of the lot. "The lease is a little higher than you wanted..."
"That's fine," Gavin says, "This space is perfect. I think we should take it."
"I was thinking we could call it 'Cicatrice'," Eleanor says.
"What does that mean?"
"It's French, it means 'scar'."
"Perfect," Gavin agrees, "Let's move on this."
"I've established relationships with some of the artists who show in Mercedes' gallery; I might be able to convince them to move along with me."
Gavin laughs, "The cut throat world of art. I'm glad I have you to handle the business, Eleanor."
Gavin has left Regan alone these past weeks while he got his own life in order. Now, with Astrid out of his life, more or less, as she continues to spread her lies about him to any media outlet that will listen to her, it's time to see her again. She's playing in a production of Lysistrata in a small North Hollywood theater, and Gavin attends the opening night show with his acting coach and her friend, Chance.
The theater is more than small, it's tiny, intimate, and the actors come out in costume when it's over to greet the audience. Regan heads straight for him.
"So, I've heard a rumor that you're into gerbils," she says with a laugh.
"I hadn't heard that one," he sighs, "My agent has been going nuts with the damage control on this."
"Well, I was sorry to hear you'd broken up with Astrid. You were such a sweet couple," she says with a wicked smile, "I thought you two were forever."
"She's probably the biggest mistake I'd ever made in my life," Gavin admits.
"And now you're expecting me to just jump into your arms?" Regan asks.
"I'm not expecting anything," he says, "But I was hoping you'd agree to spend an afternoon with me."
I've added more pictures to the Breaking Immersion page
Apologies to Daijah for not presenting more of Lysistrata. I just couldn't fit it in and do it justice. In compensation, have this video:
Lysistrata, with phallii