We’ll be okay. If Cole told himself that enough times, he would believe it. He loved Merit, and seeing Merit willing to please him at the cost of not enjoying it himself hurt. He didn’t want Merit to ever give anything up for him, not pleasure, not his career. Nothing. He wanted to be part of Merit’s life, not take anything away from him.
No matter how much he wished he could simply get over knowing Merit had fucked someone else, it was proving more difficult than he’d expected. He couldn’t forget it. Then again, he had only found out a little while ago, and it was too much to get past it immediately. But that didn’t mean he didn’t want to. He wanted to get back to him and Merit, and put everyone else out of his mind.
He was glad he knew Merit well enough to have recognized Merit’s tension and reluctance when Cole had tried to penetrate him. Merit wouldn’t have stopped him, and Cole didn’t want to fuck just for the sake of fucking. He wanted to bring Merit to the edge the way Merit had done to him in the living room. They should both enjoy being together, and if one of them didn’t, it wasn’t worth it.
He wished for things to be good between them again, and that meant he had to work for it. Which meant trying to let go of what had happened during their brief stint of seeing other people. It had only been a couple of days. One date apiece. He could live with it.
Merit was looking at him with confusion and some concern, and Cole didn’t like seeing the expression in his lover’s eyes. My lover. That was what Merit was to him. Something he should have known all along.
“Don’t think you have to make anything up to me,” he said. “That isn’t what this is about. I love you and we’re together, and that’s how it should be.”
“That’s how it is.” Merit gave him a faint smile. “Relationships are work, and I don’t know if we’re totally certain how to work on it. I think we need to try harder.”
“Yeah.” Cole wasn’t even sure how to begin doing so, but he was willing to make the effort.
“I’m going to spend less time with the parties and stuff.” Merit paused. “I can’t do anything about rehearsals and performances.”
“You shouldn’t have to change anything solely to make me happy,” Cole said. “I would appreciate more time with you. I feel whiny saying so, which is what started the whole problem in the first place. I wanted more time and wasn’t willing to say it.”
“But now I know, and I’d like it too.” Merit hesitated. “Erin’s moving in with Stefan.”
“You told me.” Cole paused, remembering the conversation. Erin was moving in with her boyfriend, and Merit had essentially asked him about moving in together, though Cole didn’t remember now whether it had actually been put in those words. “I can’t talk about that right now, Merit. I will, okay? I just need to think more first.”
“Yeah. Thinking is good sometimes.” Merit’s smile now appeared more genuine, and Cole relaxed. They really would be okay.
Merit took his hand. “Sometimes too much thinking is bad, though, and I’m pretty sure that’s what we’re doing. Make love to me, Cole. Don’t fuck me, don’t prove I’m yours, don’t try to erase what happened. Just make love to me, and let’s shut off the thinking for a while and be together.”
Love. That was definitely what Cole felt, and he wanted to be as close to Merit as they had been before. Physically, emotionally, every way he knew of. Maybe he was being sappy, but it didn’t matter. “Gladly.”