MERRICK is uneasy, and although Roberto has tried to reassure him, he remains unassured. Tonight is all too planned, too directed, to be either impulsive or coincidental. Roberto’s not quite surprised enough.
And yet, how surprised should Roberto be? It’s perfectly reasonable for Paul to invite Roberto over for the opening of his art show and for Roberto to bring Merrick, since they are in LA together, working on an album. Perfectly normal for Paul to drink to excess; it’s his show, and he’s with his friends. Perfectly normal for Roberto to drink to excess; four glasses of champagne is two glasses too many for the lanky young man, and Roberto is thrilled to be celebrating with Paul. It’s not perfectly normal for Merrick to have too much, though; more like he’s purposely lowering his inhibitions—no, reactions, or maybe responses; yes, responses—around his current lover, who is celebrating with his former slave. Sub. Casual fuck-mate while living in California. Whatever.
Merrick doesn’t play kinky games like that. He and Roberto just fuck. Roberto loves him, of course; it’s their running joke with the press that their former band, Brotherhood of Man, broke up when Roberto fell in love with his “older brother.” It’s not such a brotherly type of love when Roberto has Merrick bent over the sofa, his arms twisted helplessly and somewhat painfully back in a half nelson. Merrick could break out of it, of course; he’s much larger, outweighs Roberto by at least twenty pounds of muscle. But he doesn’t. He likes it. Even the discomfort, the burn of straining muscle, feels good.
Tonight, though, Merrick remains uneasy, despite knowing these things. He knows Roberto loves him. Knows Roberto and Paul “played” when they both lived in LA, but never after that, and that it was purely casual even then. Merrick trusts Roberto, knows that if Roberto wanted to fuck anyone else, he would ask Merrick about it first. Inform. Or ask. Whatever. Roberto is honest, scrupulously so, in his relationships, is growing even more so as the public eye focuses on them, is concealing more of his private life as the interviewers pry, is flirting closer and closer with dishonesty. But if Roberto wanted to fuck Paul, Merrick knows he would hear about it before it happened.
Merrick also trusts Paul. He’s a good guy, no hard feelings at all, no brooding even when he and Roberto went their separate ways when Roberto moved to New York. No “for old time’s sake” come-ons or undue flirting or longing looks from Paul’s mischievous, changeable eyes. No excessive licking of those pouty lips. No, Merrick trusts Paul.
The person Merrick does not trust is himself. He knows he loves and wants Roberto. He also knows he’d like to see Roberto fuck Paul; he gets embarrassingly hard every time he even thinks about it, which has been rather often tonight. Yes, self-assurance is what’s lacking here, and there is nothing Roberto can do or say to make Merrick feel more at ease with his own desires.
Especially not now that they’re all back at Paul’s bungalow in Venice, still drinking, and Merrick knows it’s not going to be long before they’re all naked and fucking, and he isn’t sure he’s ready for it.