"Yuri! Yuri! Yuri!" Yulia cried happily as she skipped down the sidewalk. "Wait up!!"
"I just saw the most wonderful space for an art gallery for you!" she reported breathlessly.
Yuri was excited to hear this, since he was tired of trying to paint in his tiny dorm room.
"Let's go see the space tonight after I get back from class," Yuri suggested.
"How did you hear about this?" Yuri asked his sister as they trudged through the snow to a long, narrow building.
"Now, keep an open mind--it was actually Edgar Velveete's studio/gallery," explained Yulia.
"That hack?!" exclaimed Yuri.
Yulia sighed. "Don't speak ill of the dead, Yuri. Anyway, his estate administrator called up Mother and asked if she was interested in taking the space over. You remember Velveete was very grateful for the renewed interest in his work that we all precipitated by selling so many of his paintings at inflated prices. We actually established a market for his stuff."
"And that will haunt me forever," Yuri said glumly.
They entered the building, and Yuri found himself in a beautifully appointed gallery.
"Wow," marveled Yuri. "Nice paneling, plenty of lights, and a cash register--even a piano?"
"I guess he used to throw parties here. Come on, here's the best part. Follow me." She led him through a wooden door at the end of the room.
"Wow, again!" Yuri said. The small room had white walls, white floors, and huge windows. "I bet the light in here during the day is amazing," Yuri speculated. Yulia went back out into the gallery.
"There's even a toilet and shower," Yuri said to himself. "And a hammock? I'd almost never have to leave."
He went out to find Yulia, who was at the piano. "Needs a bit of tuning," she observed.
"I want this space," Yuri said flatly. "Let's call Dad and Mother."
The next morning at breakfast, the twins talked excitedly about the new gallery. "The 'rents are closing on it today--they're buying it for cash," Yuri said. "I'm going over to paint tonight. Wanna come?"
"I'd love to, but I can't," Yulia answered. "I have to meet my new project partner at the library."
Yuri stopped mid-bite, and asked in a sing-song voice, "What's his name???"
Yulia smiled shyly. "What makes you think it's a 'he'?"
"Because you always say 'I have to meet Angela, my project partner' or 'I have to meet Marcy, my project partner.' This time, all you said was 'project partner'--full stop. And that tells me, little girl, that not only is it a guy, but also that you think he's cute." Yuri made a gagging motion. "And of course I'm sure you're wrong about that."
"His name is Derek," Yulia replied evenly.
"Hmmm, 'Derek', hmmm," teased Yuri. "I don't remember your ever mentioning a 'Derek' last year?"
"He's a freshman," Yulia said, steeling herself against the inevitable taunt.
"A freshman!" Yuri bellowed. "You cradle robber, you!!"
"Meadow, that's fabulous news!" George said as he embraced her.
Meadow had put in a rare appearance at Landgrabb House to tell her childhood friends that she and Orlando were engaged.
"Congratulations, Orlando," Brittany said as she hugged him. "You're getting a great girl."
"That means I'll be moving out," said Meadow, somewhat apologetically. "We're renting a small house just around the corner from Calista's."
"We'd love to have you all come for dinner some time soon, when we get settled in."
Yuri went to his new studio by himself that afternoon, and worked on finishing a painting of Opal that he had started in his Human Form art class.
But he kept getting interrupted by the Green Witch, who repeatedly caused thunderstorms and roach infestations on the lot. He tried to reason with her, to no avail.
The White Witch came by, and Yuri asked for her help with her evil counterpart.
The White Witch came by later to clean up one of the Green Witch's evil spells.
Yuri went out to thank her,
but just then, the Green Witch reappeared, cackling.
"You'll never beat me, pretty!"
Yulia had met Derek Vijayakar in her biology class. Though Derek was a freshman, his superb test scores had qualified him for advanced placement.
Like Yulia, he wanted to be a doctor and was majoring in biology.
They spent several hours working on their research project.
"Would you like to get a cup of coffee with me?" Derek asked as they were gathering up their papers.
"I'd love to," smiled Yulia. They headed to the Campus Coffee House.
Derek got coffee for both of them, and Yulia lit a fire,
and they settled on a small sofa in front of the fireplace.
"Not many girls I know can start a fire," Derek observed, impressed.
Yulia smiled. "My mother grew up poor in Russia, and she made sure to teach my brother and me survival skills. I can catch fish, too. And gut them." Yulia bit her tongue, wondering why all of a sudden she seemed compelled to run on at the mouth.
"I think that's all terrific!" admired Derek. "I like a girl who can take care of herself."
They talked for hours about biology, the medical field, and their classmates and professors. Like Yulia, Derek almost didn't have a bad word to say about anyone.
Near midnight, Derek said, "I'm sure I could talk to you till the sun comes up, but I should probably be getting you back to your dorm."
"Oh, I can walk back to Pinenut Plaza by myself," Yulia assured him.
"I wouldn't dream of it," Derek stated flatly. "Besides, I have to go across the Quad anyway--I live in Sim State Dorm."
"Thanks, then," replied Yulia. "Hey, maybe we could play pool sometime later this week? Though I warn you--I'm pretty good; I actually have a pool scholarship. I wanted to get that out in the open, so you don't find out later and think I was hustling you!" She bit her tongue again, and reddened slightly. It was as if she couldn't keep from yammering. 'What is wrong with me that I keep going on and on like this?' she thought.
"I'd like that," Derek said, simply.
The next morning, Derek whistled as he jogged down the stairs in his dormitory, and ran into his dormmate, Rebecka Louie. "You seem to be in a jolly mood," she observed, curious.
"I met the most interesting girl last night--Yulia Andropova," Derek said. He didn't know Rebecka all that well, but he felt that he had to tell someone about Yulia or he'd burst.
"Really?" inquired Rebecka. "Did you meet her brother, too?" Rebecka was keeping tabs on Yuri, who had told Rebecka he couldn't see her the previous night because he needed to paint.
"No, Yulia mentioned that her brother was off at his new studio, painting. He's apparently a pretty good artist."
Rebecka relaxed. "He's a great artist, and I'm his girlfriend," Rebecka announced proudly. She then swung into strategy mode. "So, you must know Yulia from Biology class."
"Yes," said Derek, happily. He was already feeling more comfortable with Rebecka since, given how much Yulia adored her brother, Derek figured Rebecka must be a pretty good person if Yuri had chosen her for his girlfriend. "We went for coffee last night, and we're going to play pool later this week."
"You know she's wealthy, right?" inquired Rebecka.
"No--you must be wrong about that," Derek insisted, somewhat confused. "She's a scholarship student."
"Well, the family's a bit eccentric," Rebecka laughed. "But I think it's great you're interested in Yulia. She's one of the nicest and best people I've ever met. And Yuri thinks the world of her."
Derek left for class, and Rebecka stood alone in the hall. 'Quick thinking, girl,' she congratulated herself.
Rebecka had suddenly realized, in the middle of her brief conversation with Derek, that he could be tremendously useful to her, and she resolved to be on her best behavior with him from then on--never to gossip, never to badmouth anyone, and especially to praise Yulia at every opportunity.
Rebecka had a feeling--and her instincts in these matters were rarely wrong--that Yulia didn't particularly care for her. Yuri adored his sister, and the twins spent a lot of time together. 'If Yulia's occupied with a boyfriend, perhaps she'll pay less attention to Yuri's and my relationship,' Rebecka schemed. 'And he'll have a lot more time for me.'
Yuri invited Opal over to see his new gallery, and also the painting he'd finished of her.
"I really like it, Yuri," Opal said. "You have an individual way of seeing people."
"You know, I've got to do a lot of paintings to get ready to open the gallery. Can you do some modeling for me here? I'll pay you the same rate you get at school," he offered.
"Sure," replied Opal enthusiastically. "That would really help me out with expenses."
They began work the following day, after Yuri called up Brandon Lilliard to have a small sofa delivered for his model's comfort.
After she had stayed in nearly the same position for an hour, Opal, who was quite uninhibited, began jumping up and down on the sofa.
"I guess someone needs a break," Yuri said, amused.
"I'm getting stiff," Opal explained. "I think I'll take a shower to loosen up my muscles," said Opal.
Being Opal, she left the door open.
After her shower, she resumed her pose.
They worked into the night. As the painting neared completion, Opal was able to rest in the hammock and do her schoolwork, since Yuri needed her to pose only occasionally. Yuri had provided a white terrycloth robe for her, but she seemed to prefer remaining unclothed.
Nearing midnight, Yuri announced, "Okay, I'm finished. Do you want to see?" He never let her look at his work till he was satisfied.
"You know whom you should paint?" Opal suggested, staring idly at the ceiling. "That dancer, George McCarthy. He's got a perfect body, and I bet he'd be a fabulous model."
This annoyed Yuri. "Uhhh, there's no way I'm going to be in a room with some naked guy for hours on end."
"Oh, Yuri, that's a little prudish, don't you think?" Opal asked.
This annoyed Yuri even more. "Come look at the painting," he insisted.
"It's terrific," admitted Opal. "I don't even mind that you've made my hips so large. It looks very womanly."
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Join us next week, as Yuri continues to paint Opal, Yulia and Derek get to know each other better, and Meadow and Orlando set up house together. Oh, and Rebecka continues to scheme.