"What are you working on?" Nico asks. It's a quiet song, but haunting and powerful.
"It's not mine," Jacklyn answers, "It's Pissing in a River, by Patti Smith. I'm thinking of covering it on our next album. There's a nice guitar solo in it for you."
"I'll learn it," Nico promises.
"Why don't you come with us tonight?" Nico asks.
"I've never liked these industry parties," Jacklyn laughs, rubbing her stomach, "So I'm using my excuse to get out of this one."
"It's not fair that my brother has a date and I have to go stag," Nico teases, "I miss you when I have to go out alone."
"And I miss you when Bill takes you away from me. But it won't be long before I'm forced to go out and mix with the other celebrities ands posers again. Go have fun, and keep your brother out of trouble."
Even if he wanted to play babysitter over Andrea, Nico wouldn't get the chance, with Bill monopolizing his time. And then there's Debbie; when Andrea first told him about his new girlfriend, Nico nearly had a heart attack. The one person who he thinks might know about his thing with Marilyn has attached herself to his brother. But even after a week of dates, nothing has come of it, and Nico has started to relax. Maybe she didn't hear anything, or maybe she just doesn't care.
"You're so beautiful, it's almost painful," Andrea says with a deep sigh.
"I could say the same about you," Debbie returns with a smile.
"I was thinking," she continues, "After this party, you could come home with me." Debbie is so nervous, she's almost shaking. Every date with him, she thinks about inviting him to her bed, but he's always so polite about asking to see again before he leaves, that she can't bring herself to ask him to stay the night.
"I'd love to," he answers simply, then kisses her deeply.
The couple is so rapt in each other, they don't notice the stunning redhead watching them.
Until she approaches, speaking to Andrea with a flirtatious familiarity. "You have such a lovely voice," Marilyn purrs, "And your accent! You absolutely must have lunch with me."
"I'm sorry," Andrea says, "I'm with someone."
He turns his attention immediately back to Debbie, "I apologize," he says, "I have no idea who that woman was."
"I know who she is," Debbie says, "She's a predator. I love how you shut her down. Not many men have done that to her."
"She's going after my brother now," Andrea says, looking over her shoulder as they embrace, "She's going to have a bad night, it seems."
Debbie says nothing about Marilyn's chances with Nico, but keeps her eyes on them while she dances with Andrea.
It's never comfortable for Nico to run into Marilyn at these public things, to act like a casual acquaintance, to pay just enough attention to her to not cause suspicion. At least when there's a group of people, he can focus on others.
But inevitable the others drift away to other activities, leaving Nico alone in Marilyn's clutches.
"Well, here we are," she say, kher voice low with desire.
"We can't do this here," Nico says, though he'd like nothing more than to find some dark corner to disappear into with her.
"Second floor, first door on the left, there's a laundry room. No one will go in there at this time of night. You go first, I'll meet you there in a few minutes."
Everyone is occupied, drinking, dancing, going out to the hot tub out back. His brother has eyes for nothing but Debbie. Surely no one will notice if he disappears for a few minutes. Nico nods, "I'll go now," he says, and walks casually toward the stairs.
Marilyn finishes her drink, then follows Nico.
"She's following Nico upstairs now," Andrea observes, still dancing with Debbie, "You don't think he would..."
"He's your brother, you know him best," Debbie says, not wanting to have to spell it out for him. Better he should discover it himself than have it come through gossip, even from her.
Andrea would like to think his brother is above that kind of behavior, but none of his other brothers have been any better than their father. He'd like to think he knew Nico well enough to say with certainty that he's different, but Nico has changed since he left home, and Andrea has his doubts.
"I hate to leave you, but I should go after him," Andrea says, holding her close.
"Go," she says, "I'll be here, waiting for you."
It's dark on the second floor, the only light coming from beneath the first door on the left. And the sounds coming from behind that door are unmistakable.
"Your brother is here," Marilyn says, the words coming out between her gasps and moans, "Maybe he'd like to join us."
Nico doesn't get a chance to respond or even zip himself up before Andrea shoves him hard against the washing machine. Marilyn makes her escape while Nico bears the brunt of his brother's wrath.
"What the hell are you doing?" Andrea bellows.
Nico cringes as his brother's hands ball into fists.
"Andrea, brother, calm down," he says desperately, not wanting to meet those fists head on.
"You want me to calm down?!" Andrea shouts, "I come in here to find you screwing that..that putana. You have a pregnant girlfriend at home, Nico. What are you thinking?"
"Keep it down," Nico hisses, "Do you want everyone to hear? Let's talk about this at home."
"What is there to talk about?" Andrea asks, but he lowers his voice, and drops his arms to his sides.
Nico lets out a relieved sigh, "Let's go," he says, "I'll explain everything at home."
"I'm sorry I can't go home with you tonight after all," Andrea whispers, kissing Debbie goodnight outside the party, "I have to deal with my brother."
"I understand," Debbie says, "That's one of the things I love about you, that family is so important o you."
"You're important, too, Debbie," he says.
"I know," she says, smiling, "And that makes me incredibly happy. Go, help your brother. But remember, he isn't your responsibility, don't let his behavior weigh on you. I hate to see you hurting like this. And call me later, if you need to talk."
"You'll be asleep," Andrea protests.
"I'll be awake, thinking about you."
Nico waits by the car as his brother kisses Debbie goodnight. His thing with Marilyn was a huge mistake, Nico knew that from the moment it started. And now he has to figure out a way to stop that mistake from blowing up in his face.
It's a quiet ride back to the house in Malibu, but as soon as they are inside, Andrea's anger explodes in a torrent of Italian. "What is wrong with you? You have everything here. Why would you spit on your woman and your baby like this?"
"Keep it down! You'll wake Jacklyn," Nico says.
"Andrea, brother, I know what I did was wrong. I should have been stronger. But, you saw her..."
"I saw her, Nico. She's beautiful, but so are a lot of women. She came after me first, and I was able to refuse her easily enough."
Nico frowns at that, he didn't know Marilyn had made a move on Andrea. But his brother's words make it clear that he doesn't know how long this affair has been going on, that he thinks this was Nico's first encounter with Marilyn. And that misperception could be what saves him. "You're a better man than I am, then," he says sadly, "I was weak, and I made a terrible mistake. But I swear to you, It was just this once and I will never let that happen again. Just promise me you won't tell Jacklyn."
"I'm not going to tell her, that's your job."
"Are you crazy? If she knew..."
"And that's why you shouldn't have done it, Nico. But now that you have, you have to come clean with her and beg her forgiveness."
"Andrea, you don't know her like I do, if she finds out I was with another woman, she'll blame herself," Nico would say anything to keep this from Jacklyn, but that happens to be the truth, "She'll think she did something to drive me away, or that she gotten too fat with her pregnancy. She's been so worried about that I have to nearly force her to eat. She'll turn this on herself as much as she turns on me. Please, just let me handle this, and I promise you, I'll be better. I won't do it again."
"All right," Andrea says, turning away, unable to look his brother in the eye, "I'll keep your secret. Just promise me you won't turn into Papa."
"I promise," Nico says, knowing it's a lie. Like the rest of his brothers, he's already walked too far in his father's shoes to ever be any better than he was. He's been lying to Jacklyn for moths, and now he's lying to Andrea, his younger brother, the one who looked up to him, the one he was supposed to set an example for. The weight of his failure is almost too much to bear.
"Is everything all right? I heard shouting," Jacklyn says, pulling herself up as Nico comes to bed.
"It's nothing. Just a little argument between brothers," Nico answers.
Jacklyn curls up to him when he joins her in bed.
"I love you," he whispers, "More than anything." He's not going to waste the second chance he's been given, Nico promises himself, he's going to stop living this lie, give up Marilyn and every other woman who comes after him. He has to, or he'll lose everything.
Pissing in a River, by Patti Smith