Title: The Email Order bridegroom, Chapter 18
Rating: PG, this part
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: Arthur has a plan to stay in the United States. That plan is Merlin.
Word Count: 1205 (Sorry, again)
Prompt: Locked out
Author's Notes: This is a continuation of The Email Order Bridegroom which starts here
Also, the short film Gwaine refers to is real. Earano, Part 1 and Earano, Part 2
Merlin has just finished wiping down the kitchen counters when his phone goes off. Seeing Gwaine’s name, he drops the sponge and answers, “Morning.”
“Hey, Merlin. I spoke with Elena’s assistant and the shoot is 110% predator free. Last minute casting’s due to an unfortunate craft services incident that’s wreaked havoc with their usual stable of background beauties. Another caterer has been hired but I’d still steer clear of the deviled eggs,” Gwaine says. “It’s a pretty prestigious project, too,” he continues. “The director won an Academy Award five years ago and, you’ll love this, his first short film was called Earano, a modern day Cyrano. The hero has giant ears instead of an enormous nose.” Gwaine is laughing, “If only he’d met you back then, Merls. You’d probably be a star by now.”
Gwaine thinks he’s hilarious, Merlin knows better. “Very funny. My ears help me stand out in a crowd,” he says with a sniff.
“Yeah, they stand out all right.” Gwaine is still chortling when Merlin thanks him for the information and hangs up. On the one hand it’s great that this is a real job but on the other, Gwaine is an arse. He knows Merlin’s sensitive about his ears.
Merlin thinks about it a second then beams at the empty kitchen “Holy shit, I’ve got my first Hollywood job and it’s with an Academy Award winning director!” He rings Gwaine back to thank him properly.
“That’s fantastic. I can’t wait to tell Morgana my husband is going to be working with an Oscar winner,” Arthur says to the news.
Merlin has been giddy with that thought all morning but he tries to play it cool. “Well, really, I’ll probably just be standing about in a tuxedo for several hours. That doesn’t take much talent.”
“You’re going to be directed to stand about, Merlin,” Arthur corrects. “That means you’ll be working with an Oscar winning director. Bask a bit because I sure am.”
Merlin does stand reveling in his good fortune until he remembers that Arthur must have called for something other than listening to him ramble. “Okay, basking’s over, what’s up?”
“There’s a work dinner tonight and I know this is incredibly late notice but I wanted to see if you’re free,” Arthur answers, sounding sheepish. “It’s an important client and he’s told father he’s looking forward to meeting you.”
Merlin looks at the phone. Arthur’s tone of voice for he’s looking forward to meeting you sounded off. “You’re making me think this client wanting to meet me is a bad thing. Would you like me to say I can’t make it?” Merlin asks, puzzled.
Arthur sighs, “Cenred King is a first class creep. He hits on me nearly every time we’re in the same room and I have a feeling he’d not be adverse to propositioning us both at a business dinner even with father sitting right there. This could get awkward but I don’t see a way out of it without insulting him.”
Merlin can’t help laughing, “I’ll do my best not to be charming.”
“I’ll bet it’s not your personality he’ll be interested in. He’s sure to take one look at you and the unsubtle innuendo will fly,” Arthur says, sounding resigned.
It does sound awful but Merlin agrees to attend anyway.
The day flies by in a flurry of chores: grocery shopping, picking up Arthur’s suits at the dry cleaner, a trip to the hardware store for nails. ”Seriously? Don’t you just have millions of those in a supply closet somewhere, Arthur?” Merlin asked. “I don’t steal, Merlin,” Arthur responded haughtily.
Merlin arrives home with the dry cleaning and a heavy bag loaded with produce and milk only to discover he doesn’t have his keys. After a few minutes panicking, he does a walk around and sees that the bathroom window is slightly open. With a grin he puts his packages on the patio table and proceeds to break in. He hopes Arthur doesn’t notice the big bruise on his thigh where he’d hit the side of the bath.
Merlin has a difficult time deciding what to wear to his first work dinner so he spends twenty minutes sending Morgana shots of outfits before she’s helped him select a blue cashmere V-neck sweater and black slacks. By the time he’s dressed and out the door (house locked up tight and keys firmly placed in his front pocket), Merlin is late and has to run to the bus stop. He arrives several minutes after the reservation so of course Uther and Arthur are already seated, waiting on him and Mr. King. Arthur gives him a reassuring smile and pours Merlin a glass of red wine.
Cenred saunters into the five star restaurant wearing leather pants and a shirt so sheer you can make out his nipples and chest hair. The man is in his mid-forties and the pants and shirt are form fitting over an unfit form. It’s awful and mesmerizing; Merlin has been caught staring more than once. Cenred is preening under the attention even though Merlin is sure he looks horrified. Anybody in their right mind would know it isn’t a come on but Mr. King obviously thinks he’s irresistible so he’s shooting Merlin half lidded looks and sly smiles.
Merlin works determinedly on his ratatouille, trying to keep his mouth full to avoid conversation. It doesn’t work.
“So, Merlin, I hear you’re an actor. Any bites yet?” Cenred asks. Bites is said low and breathy, making the hair on the back of Merlin’s neck stand up. He has to repress a full body shudder.
“Actually, Merlin’s booked his first job for this weekend,” Arthur answers, taking Merlin’s hand. “We’re quite excited.” He’s smiling softly at Merlin, paying no attention to Cenred. Merlin smiles back and squeezes Arthur’s hand, mentally thanking him for the save.
Cenred breaks in, “I’m a patron of the arts, was even an art model all through university. A nude model. I’d love to show you two a few of the pieces gifted to me.” Merlin makes the mistake of looking up just as Cenred brushes a hand over a now pebbled nipple. “You could model, Merlin. Would you consider posing for me?”
Merlin grabs his water glass and takes a deep drink. What the hell is he supposed to say to that? Fortunately, Uther takes the reins, “You paint?”
“Heavens, no, I’m an amateur photographer. I think Arthur and Merlin would find my work quite stimulating,” Cenred purrs.
Merlin can feel the blush creeping up his neck and he can’t meet Arthur’s eyes in fear of bursting into inappropriate (entirely appropriate) hysterical laughter.
“Maybe some day, Mr. King. My husband and I are quite booked up at the moment,” Arthur says smoothly, hand moving to Merlin’s upper thigh, anchoring him with its warm weight over the dull ache of his new bruise.
“Ah, yes, the honeymoon stage. Well, give me a call when that’s over,” Cenred dismisses, finally turning his attention to Uther. “I take it we’re on schedule for the Malibu demolition?”
The rest of the meal is spent in work conversation and Merlin is finally able to relax. Arthur’s hand remains firmly in place until they’re ready to leave.