An intruder has breached the sanctity of Justin's backyard.
"What's that?" Eleanor asks, approached by Justin's new friend when she comes home from work.
"A cat," Justin answers, like it wasn't completely obvious, not looking up from the cutting board as he chops the vegetables for dinner.
"Well, yes, I can see that," Eleanor laughs lightly, "What's he doing here?"
"I found him outside, and decided to keep him. I'm calling him Heathcliff."
"After the cartoon cat?" Eleanor asks, a little dubious.
"My sister used to say that someday I'd grow up to be someone's Heathcliff," Justin answers with a shrug, "I had no idea it was a cartoon cat."
"I think she was referring to an entirely different Heathcliff," Eleanor say with a slight smile that Justin doesn't see, his attention focused on dinner preparation.
"Speaking of your sister..." Eleanor starts, taking advantage of his mention of Jeanette to broach the topic she wants to get to.
"We're not speaking of my sister," Justin says flatly.
Eleanor sighs, wishing this were easier. Though she was always an avid reader, she tore through his sister's novel in record time, searching for insight into Justin's past. Although it was a great novel to read, Eleanor found herself disappointed by the lack of information about her lover. After the opening scene, the focus of the book remained on the female protagonist who spent years trying to find her unknown father and her lost brother. And even that doesn't count as any kind of conclusive truth, for the book ends with the protagonist finding her brother on death row and witnessing his execution without his ever knowing she was there. Obviously a fictionalization, despite the very real detail of the opening scene of the prom night fight.
"What if Jeanette looked for you?" Eleanor presses, "Maybe if you could see her, talk to her..."
"What good would that do me now?" Justin asks, not turning to her at all as he speaks.
"She comes up all the time, Justin," Eleanor says, "She was obviously very important to you."
"She was important to me," Justin says, his stiff posture telling her he's about to shut her down. But after a moment, his shoulders drop and his stance becomes more relaxed, and though he still won't face her as he speaks, his voice is gentle, "Look, it took me years to get over losing her. I never trusted anyone after that. Until you. And you've more than replaced her. I don't need a sister, I have a...I have you."
When they sit down for dinner, Eleanor considers telling him about the book. If he knew Jeanette had searched for him, he might feel differently about it.
But she holds this information back, not knowing how much of the book was fictionalized. She can't say for sure that Jeanette did ever search for her brother. it might just have been a plot idea inspired by her past.
While Eleanor clears the dishes, Justin puts away the leftovers. He's had something he's wanted to talk about since she got home, and now's his chance.
"Princess, I don't need a birth certificate if we got married in Nevada," he tells her, "I looked it up online. My ID is faked, but it's good enough to pass."
"You want to get married?" she asks, surprised at the sudden turn in conversation.
"I still think the whole thing is kind of bullshit," he says, "People blow off their marriages all the time. But, you're more to me than a girlfriend, and, well..." There really aren't the words to explain how he feels about it, why this suddenly matters to him. "I just want you, as much as I can have you."
The next day in her office at the gallery, Eleanor makes a phone call to Jeanette's agent.
"My client is very reclusive, Ms. Thorne," the agent says, "I'm afraid she isn't interested in talking to anyone."
Just like her brother, Eleanor thinks with a wry smile, "Tell her I have information about Justin." In the book, Jeanette called her brother Jake and herself Jennifer, so she won't think Eleanor is some crackpot when she gets a message about Justin. "She can contact me if she's interested in that."
Eleanor hangs up, hoping she's doing the right thing. Despite his claims to be past needing his sister, the constant way she turns up in his conversation tells her otherwise. But before she lets this woman near Justin, she's going to make sure the reunion will be in his favor, that Jeanette will welcome him with an open heart, ready to forgive. If she gets even the slightest sense that Jeanette bears any anger or ill will toward her brother, she will pull out of this deal immediately. She won't see him hurt all over again.