THREE’S A CROWD
© Clare London/2010
“Don’t go.” My voice breaks.
Marty stands at the door, his fingers gripping the handle. His back is to me, but I can see the anger in the set of his shoulders; the misery in the way his head hangs forward. One push and he’ll be outside, leaving our flat, leaving me. Leaving our handful of rooms that are overly-heated, devoid of personal ornaments, furnished with heaped cushions and mis-shapen soft fabric toys.
He hasn’t opened the door yet. There’s hope. I catch my breath. “Let’s talk about it.”
“There’s nothing to talk about, is there? I know what I saw.”
I bite my lip. He’s always been a reasonable man before. “It was a shock for you. Of course it was.”
He makes a strange choking noise. “In our bed, Ben.”
I flush at the harsh edge to his voice. “It won’t happen again.”
Silence in reply.
“I mean it, Marty! Things can change.”
He sighs and his shoulders relax a little, but he still doesn’t turn around. “Don’t promise what you can’t deliver.”
“It was only the once –”
“No, it wasn’t.” And this time he turns back to face me. His eyes are narrowed, his expression stern. “Last week, remember? And several times over Christmas.”
I wince. “Look. A New Year’s resolution. My New Year’s resolution, okay? You’ll be my number one. Really. Whatever you want.” He’s wavering. Something flickers in his eyes. Desire? I take a step towards him, I raise a hand. “You’ve always been the one for me, Marty. You know that.”
He sucks in a slow breath and I hesitate, though my body aches to get closer.
“Ben, it’s him or me.”
He nods, knowing I heard him perfectly clearly. “One of us has to go. You can’t love both of us. Not enough.”
I frown. “Of course I can. It’s a completely different thing.”
“It’s greed, god dammit!” Marty doesn’t often raise his voice. He must be really pissed off. “You just want it all. I’m meant to be your partner –”
“But you are!”
He continues as if I never cried out. “But who really rules our life? Not me. You don’t listen to me. You don’t run around the flat after me, caring for me, caressing me, panicking when I’m out late.”
“Marty…” I reach out towards him. “I do. I will!” I remember the hot, drunken night we met, the laughs we had, the sudden spark between us, the dark, sweaty nights we’ve shared since. Our life together, a rollercoaster and a haven, both adventure and destination, exciting and yet perfectly comfortable. That’s how it is with Marty: my friend, my lover.
His smile is a little sad. “Maybe some time apart will be good. You can decide where your priorities lie.”
“Now wait a damned minute.” Isn’t it my turn to get angry? “Don’t you think you’re making just a little too much drama out of this?”
I take a couple more steps towards him, more assertive now. “Just a small hiccup in the daily routine, that’s all, and you make a grand production out of it.”
“A small hiccup?” His voice has raised quite a few notches. “If that’s all you think it is –”
I continue, overriding his protest. “I have absolutely no doubt at all I can give you both the attention you need. The attention you deserve.”
“And I think not.”
“Crap.” I’m a foot away now and I could touch his arm if I wanted. Grab it: pull him to me. “He loves you too, you know.”
“What the fuck?” Marty grimaces. “Exactly what kind of ménage are you crafting in that twisted mind of yours?”
Something alerts me to a change in his mood. His eyes are warmer; his mouth hitches up at the side as if he wants to smile. I press my advantage. “Marty, we can all get along, I know we can.”
He glances over my shoulder at the living room behind me. “His stuff’s everywhere. He is. The mess, the smell of food, the way everything’s set out to accommodate him. Here, and in the kitchen, and now…” His voice falters. “Our bedroom, as well.”
“Marty,” I murmur, running my hand over his wrist, tightening around it to hold him to me. “You ever think what he brings to our house? To our life?”
“I already said. Mess. Smell. Panic.” But Marty’s mutters are half-hearted.
“We’re a team.” I stroke his arm: he loves that. “We love each other in different but complementary ways. The three of us, together. Needing each other, loving each other, a family unit.”
Marty’s eyes are soft now, his gaze on my lips. “You talk a load of crap, you know that?”
“Uh-huh.” I grin, lean forward and snatch a quick kiss. Even as I pull my mouth away I can see his tongue darting out between his lips, reaching for me in return. I tug at him gently, with unmistakable intent, back into the room, back towards our bedroom. “I’ll make it work, Marty. Please. Trust me.”
He glances over to the bedroom door. It’s ajar, as if inviting us to return; to make up in the very best way. He sighs deeply, and I see surrender approaching over the crest of the hill. “You’re a fool, Ben. I was only going to the shops. You know that?”
I nod, still grinning. “I know.”
His body’s leaning into me but his mind is still unsure. “You won’t let him in our bed anymore?”
“Well, maybe on Sundays …”
“Not any day.” Marty’s voice is still sharp. “You said. A New Year’s resolution.”
I shrug. “Okay. Not any day.”
There’s a clatter from the kitchen, like a plastic lid opening then flapping down again. Marty tenses.
“I left food out for him,” I whisper into his ear. “He’s not coming back in here just yet. It’s just you and me.”
“Just you and me?”
I tug again and we stumble, starting to laugh, our feet tangling as we run over to the bedroom, like horny teenagers left alone in the family house with an hour to make the most of. Like we were, once.
The clatter comes from the kitchen again. I pause.
“Do you think we should just check on him? That ginger creature next door was looking mean when he last went out. It’s late and if he’s got in some kind of a fight…”
“He’s a cat.”
I glare back at him. “Family unit, remember?”
Marty rolls his eyes. “Him or me, remember?”
I flush. “Okay, Sorry. Mmmm.” Marty’s kisses start to warm me up. My jeans feel too tight, my dick pleasantly full, my belly spiked with little jolts of anticipated pleasure. “Can you just hold that thought?”
“What the hell?”
I pull away slightly. Half of me wants to push him into the room and on to the bed and get down and disgustingly dirty, but the other half is fretting. “I’ll just get his favourite toy and turn down his blanket. In case we’re asleep when he gets back in.”
“Dear God.” Marty sighs and leans back against the door frame to our bedroom. His jeans look too tight as well, and he’s panting gently. I look at him from under my lashes, afraid to see his anger returning. But he’s smiling.
“I’m your number one, eh?”
I shrug, smiling back. “Well, second’s not so bad, is it?”