everything in my life, you're what I couldn't ever live
without." - from One Valentines Day
Jonathan had taken the decision.
He'd ended his relationship with Maddy, his affair with Adam.
Since then, things had been strained. Since then he'd barely slept, lying alone in his bed in the quiet of his windmill. He knew - he hoped - he'd done the right thing by breaking the strange triangle of he, Maddy and Adam. He just wished it didn't hurt so much.
Maddy had finally taken a trip to Texas with Barry and his boyfriend to promote her book. Jonathan had missed her; her companionship more than anything else, the interesting sidelines she added to his usual pattern of life.
He'd worked with Adam as easily as he had done for years, before it had become something more. The only difference was the unnamed thing that remained between them. Just because Jonathan had ended it, didn't mean the attraction, the need, the desire, had faded at all.
Then along had come Alan Kalanak and his agent Carla Borrego.
Jonathan had tried, really tried, to return Carla's obviously flirtatious feelings. He'd played along with her to try to forget about what he was missing. When Kalanak had offered him the job, he'd seriously contemplated it. Because working with Adam, knowing what they had shared and knowing he'd thrown that away, was starting to turn him inside out.
He'd thrown himself into the investigation into Vivian Brodie's death. And in the process Alan had been murdered, putting an end to Jonathan's idle thoughts of moving on.
Since they'd returned, Jonathan had stayed busy designing a couple more new illusions for the show. He hadn't seen Carla and she'd stopped calling him.
Then, last night, Adam had - out of the blue - invited him, his new assistant Charlene and Carla out for a very expensive meal at his favourite restaurant. The conversation had turned to the events at Doomdorf Castle, and Carla had let slip that Jonathan and Alan had had 'plans'. Jonathan had immediately turned the conversation, and at the time he'd thought Adam hadn't caught on.
He'd been wrong.
* * *
Maddy had been back from the states for two hours while Adam exploded on her doorstep.
"Where do you get off asking him to make this decision? Who made you the owner of his life? We were damned good together!"
She stared at him, unsure what to say. Her vacation had obviously changed nothing. Jonathan had kept to his decision and Adam looked on the brink of desperation. She was still mulling over possible defences when he started up again.
"Don't you ever know when to leave something alone? What good has come from this? Did you think you'd win, is that it? Did you think he'd commit to you? How could he when you can't commit to him?"
Finally, he ran out of steam. She sighed as she looked into his emerald eyes.
"I thought he'd choose you," she told him, not completely truthfully. "I couldn't believe it when he said he'd ended it with you."
Adam's mouth opened and closed. "Why, then...?"
Shaking her head slightly, she stepped back and silently invited him in. With the slight of hesitations, he went.
Closing the door, she watched him stride into the lounge. "I had to know," she admitted. "You couldn't offer him commitment, I couldn't offer him love."
"But you are in love with him."
It sounded strange coming from the brash American, but it was a simple statement.
She nodded. "So are you. I saw the Valentines Day display at the windmill." He looked away, almost embarrassed, and she smiled wryly. "You wouldn't admit it either."
"You're wrong. I never kept anything back from him."
There was a truth in his voice that surprised her. "I'm sorry," she said, defeated. "I miss him too. I'd hoped that I'd feel different once I got back but I don't. He's made his choice. I just couldn't... I couldn't share him, Adam."
"You never thought that what he gave you, and what he gave me, were two different sides of himself? That we were never really sharing?"
Shaking her head, "He gave you everything, Adam."
Her words pushed his anger from cool to boiling point in a second. "That's bullshit." Stepping to her, he pulled his hands from his pockets and leaned on the back of the sofa. "You're a larger part of his life with every passing day. You share a part of him I know nothing about." Straightening, he started to pace again. "Last time I went over to the windmill I found a photo of the Jonathan Creek Fan Club. Even I don't have a fan club."
Maddy chuckled. "They're a very sad bunch."
"But don't you see what I'm getting at? He has a whole life I know nothing about, a life you share with him. That's what he gives you."
Leaning forward, she tipped her head to one side and, for a time, she just studied him.
"When he looks at you... it's obvious he adores you. The affection in his eyes - how you can miss it, Adam, is beyond me."
For a moment, he stared at her. Then he shook his head. "I didn't miss it. But knowing it was there, you still made him choose." Shrugging lightly, he strode to the door and let himself out.
Adam watched the crowds as the Rolls passed through the centre of London heading for the West End and Theatreland.
He'd left Maddy's place defeated, but that had slowly given way to a new fight inside him. Why should he let go of what had been the best thing to happen to him since Jonathan had found him years ago?
He loved Jonathan, loved the man who'd brought out the very best of him, the very essence of him. He'd shown Jonathan a part of himself he'd never shown anyone else, given his lover something he'd never given before.
Why should he accept Jonathan's decision, when he knew it wasn't what Jonathan really wanted? The feelings hadn't faded, they still wanted one another. He could use that. And he had no scruples when it came to getting what his heart most desired.
'I never got a chance to find out.' "I think so." Adam moved his wrists experimentally, stretching his fingers and smiling as they brushed over Jonathan's hand.
Jonathan smiled, let his own fingers caress Adam's just for a moment before catching himself. "I think that should be okay."
Stepping around, picking up the blindfold from the stage, Jonathan held the thick black silk between his fingers and smiled up. Without a word, he lifted the ends and lay the cloth over Adam's eyes. Leaning in, he tied the ends at the back of the magician's head.
Adam took a shameless deep breath, humming softly. He could feel Jonathan all the way up; toe to toe, thighs pressed together, hip to hip, leaning against him.
Making sure the knot was secure, Jonathan paused for a second, turning his head until his lips were half an inch from Adam's throat....
Stepping back, Jonathan mentally shook himself. He may have ended their relationship, but the attraction was still like fire between them.
"You... err - you're ready to go."
Adam smiled. A smile only Jonathan got to see. And then the trick began.
"I'm just not sure about the fish." Jonathan studied the goldfish swimming around in the wineglass full of water.
"It's a classic," Adam argued, pushing the shaped carrot between his gums and the inside of his cheek. "It's just to get things going, that's all."
Jonathan conceded the point. He looked up to see Adam lick the tip of his finger and just managed to suppress a groan of frustration. He missed the glint of mischief in the sparkling green eyes.
"Let's try it, and don't let me try to swallow the wrong one. I hate fish."
Jonathan was crouched down investigating the locks on the trunk when Adam finally emerged back onto the stage.
Adam snorted. "It's still alive, if that makes you feel better." His frown turned to a smile as he watched Jonathan scrutinising the locks. Silently, he stepped up to the other man and crouched down behind him. "Indie misses you." Jonathan almost jumped when he heard the words whispered into his left ear, soft breath against the side of his neck. "So do I."
Jonathan's heart started to pound at the closeness of the other man. "Adam...."
Adam waited a beat before speaking. "Can we get some lunch?"
He hesitated, but his body was singing with the thrill he'd always felt at Adam's seductive invitation. He nodded.
They walked over to the little Italian restaurant across from the theatre.
Sitting opposite one another, half-empty plates between them, Adam took a deep breath. "I want to know two things, and if you don't want to tell me... that's okay. We don't... we're not...." He shook his head.
Jonathan smiled kindly. "Ask."
"All right. First, what's happening between you and Carla? And second, what did she mean about you and Kalanak having plans?"
Jonathan sipped at his coffee. "Nothing's happening between Carla and I. She wants... a boyfriend."
"And that's not what you want?" No answer. "What about the second question?"
"He offered me a job, that day in the theatre." For the moment, Jonathan couldn't meet the stunned eyes of his employer. "I said I'd think about it."
"He said, 'Something tells me you could be a lot happier in your work right now.' And he was right. That psycho Kenny was hanging around because you'd taken him under his wing. And you and I...."
Adam shook his head. "You promised me. The end of the affair but not the end of our partnership."
Jonathan marvelled about how his employer could make him feel like such a shit. "Adam... you know I'd never...."
"But you thought about it."
"I thought about it. I owed myself that much."
"And what about what you owe me?" It was almost a whisper.
"What are you talking about, Adam? What do I owe you?"
"I gave you everything."
"You gave me...." Jonathan sat back, amazed. "I gave it all to you! They're my tricks, my - "
"I'm not talking about the show!" He leaned forward, voice hushed. "I'm talking about me."
Jonathan opened his mouth and closed it again. The sudden anger gone, he nodded. "Sorry. I... I wouldn't leave you. We're too good together for that."
Adam sipped his coffee, looking for all the world like there were a thousand things on his mind. When in reality there was only one.
"Come out with me, tonight."
Jonathan shook his head. "I'm over at Maddy's, she's back from the states."
Adam didn't mention that he already knew. "Later then. Afterwards. I'll have dinner waiting. We can talk, about the show, about your pay, about...."
"Adam! I don't want more money!" He softened his voice. "I won't leave you."
"So we won't talk about money." Adam shrugged. "Maybe we could play some pool." He looked up, and Jonathan caught him smiling. Their eyes met and locked.
Jonathan felt the familiar thrum of excitement, his body reacting to Adam's subtle seduction. "Adam...."
"You want it as much as I do."
Was that ever the truth. Here, now, he wanted everything.
Still, he stammered, "I ended it."
Adam smiled. "I didn't."
Slamming Jonathan back against the dressing room door, Adam captured his mouth in a searing kiss as he reached behind the slim body to throw the lock.
Jonathan's hands were all over him, pulling his blue silk shirt from his trousers, desperate to touch skin.
"Oh, God, I've missed this," Adam muttered into his lover's ear, flicking his tongue out to touch the delicate shell just before Jonathan's fingers pushed up into his hair to bring his mouth back into the kiss.
Tongue stroking over the other man's, Adam pushed his hands up under Jonathan's sweater, brushing his hands up over the man's ribs, teasing his thumbs over the hard nubs of Jonathan's nipples.
A rough sound was pulled from Jonathan's throat, swallowed into the kiss. Reaching between them with one hand, leaving the other toying with his lover's chest, Adam spread his fingers over the hard bulge at the front of Jonathan's jeans.
Another moan, lower, and Jonathan thrust forward into the touch as he broke the kiss.
"Adam... fuck me."
Adam's arousal flared at the words, but he shook his head, bringing his hand to sweep through Jonathan's curly hair. "Not here, not like this."
"I love you, I need you!"
Leaning in to kiss the long neck, Adam cooed softly. "I know. And I will, but not here." He squeezed Jonathan's crotch gently, stroking his thumb firmly along the denim-clad length, and felt the other jerk against his hand.
Smiling against the smooth skin, nibbling carefully, Adam unzipped Jonathan's fly. As rough fingertips touched sensitive flesh, Jonathan had to bite back a strangled cry.
It had been too long. Too long wanting this, too long trying to forget how it felt, how easy it was to give in to Adam's coaxing.
"Adam...." Trying to clear his mind for a moment, Jonathan reached for his lover, fumbling with the zip on the loose, expensive trousers, taking the engorged cock into his palm at last.
At the same time, Adam kissed him, groaning into his mouth, moving his hand in the same rhythm and time as Jonathan's on him.
In no time they were coming, clinging to one another, trying to climb down one another's throats.
Stilling, it was a moment before either spoke. Faces buried in each other's necks, Adam started to laugh softly, breath heating Jonathan's already flushed skin.
"What's that saying? 'Like a couple of school kids'?"
Pouting his lips to kiss the dip between Adam's throat and shoulder, Jonathan nodded once. "I've missed you."
Adam's arm tightened around his lover's waist. "God, Jonathan, you have no idea." He leaned back slightly, meeting the stormy eyes watching him. "Nothing's right without this. I haven't been with anyone since you ended it because without you to go back to, it didn't seem worth it." When Jonathan didn't respond, he went on, "Come to my place tonight?"
"I have to go to Maddy's. I'll come round afterwards."
Adam wanted to ask if he'd tell her, but there was no way he was going to push his luck. Peeling his hand away, he glanced down at the mess they'd made. "Shower?"
Maddy hugged the stuffing out of him. Her flat was a mess, half-unpacked cases on the dining table and couch. But she looked good. She looked great.
Her hair was sun-kissed, her skin tanned.
"Missed me?" she asked him cheerfully, releasing him and turning to dig around in the nearest case.
"Loads," he told her truthfully.
"Brought you back a present." Pulling a brown paper bag from under a pile of dirty clothes, she turned to smile at his grinning, excited face and handed it to him.
She watched his face as he pulled out the book. "Oh, you star !!!"
She'd found one of Ricky Jay's other book, 'Leaned Pigs and Fireproof Women', in a strange little bookstore in Texas.
One of Jonathan's favourite magicians, she'd already bought him 'Cards As Weapons' for his birthday a couple of months ago. About when he and Adam had first got it together.
"Knew you'd prefer it to the usual tourist junk."
Leaving him leafing through the pages, she stepped over another pile of clothes, heading for the kitchen.
"So what have you been up to?" she called to him over the noise of water filling the kettle.
"Not a lot."
"No mystery crime solving without me then?" She plugged the kettle in and peered back around the kitchen door.
"Well...." Clutching the book to him, already a treasured possession, he traced her path through the chaos.
"There was one. You'd have loved it." He explained about Alan Kalanak, leaving in the part about the job offer, but not mentioning Carla's involvement in too much detail.
She listened with fascination while she made them tea and dug out some biscuits she'd brought back with her.
"I am impressed," she told him once he'd finished with a flourish.
"I was slow on a lot of it. Didn't have you there as inspiration." He grinned, and she mirrored it, blushing a little. Gazing at her, he realised he adored her. Carla, however attractive, just wasn't Maddy. At the start, when the Satan's Chimney mystery had all begun, he'd thought that was a good thing. Now, though, he nothing would be the same without her.
Handing him a mug, which he took without putting his new book down, she leaned against one of the kitchen counters.
"Would you have taken the job?"
Jonathan shrugged. "I honestly don't know. Can't say I wasn't tempted. Everything that was going on, Adam back to his old tricks after he and I...." He remembered what Adam had said that afternoon in his dressing room, about not having been with anyone else. He wondered if it was true. "I was tempted. And the more we talked, on the way up to Scotland, after the funeral, it just seemed more and more like I would take him up on his offer. Of course, if I'd known he'd just killed his wife, I might have given it some more serious thought."
Maddy smiled, sipped her tea and shook her head.
"Maddy, there's something..."
"...there's something I need to say..."
"...I need to tell you..."
They look at one another, chuckling.
"You go first," he told her.
"I've been doing a lot of thinking, and.... Look, he loves you. Not that I don't, but I'm not ready to hand that to you on a plate, and he is, even if he won't admit he feels strongly enough about you to commit to you on some level." She took a deep breath. "I made a mistake, asking you to choose. I was jealous of him and I thought... I hoped you'd chose me over him. When you didn't, I realised how much he really meant to you, that he had a part of you I could never have."
Jonathan was staring at her, frankly moved, uncertain what to say.
"He came round here, yesterday." Jonathan's eyes widened. "He reminded me, among other things, that I had a part of you that he didn't even know. Like the fan club thing. I know that even though he and I shared you, we both had different parts of you, gave you two different things, sex-wise and life-style-wise."
"You don't know what to say." She smiled with genuine affection. "I'm sorry I made you choose. And if there's any way that we can go back, that you and Adam can patch things up...."
Jonathan's gaze dipped for a moment into his coffee, and when he looked back at her from under hooded lids, his lips had quirked up at either side.
Her smile opened into an open-mouthed 'O', her eyebrows leaping. "You already have, haven't you?!" But she couldn't be angry. Shaking her head, she chuckled at his guilty expression.
"That's what I was going to tell you. This afternoon we... I cracked. You're right that he gives me something I can't get from you, from anyone else. I made my choice, but I realised that I couldn't stick by it."
Maddy's eyes stare softened. "You do love him."
"Yeah. But... that's not it. It's more than that, but at the same time it's less. Maybe it's just the sex."
"It isn't." Crossing the short distance between them, she carefully wrapped her free arm around his neck, careful not to spill tea over him from either mug. "Don't question it, just go with it." Pulling back, she shrugged one shoulder. "And if you fancy a change at any point, I'm still here too." With a tease in her voice, she added, "And I'll make you feel a thousand times hotter than Adam ever could."
Adam was waiting for him in the luxurious lounge of Maskelyne Manor. He answered the door, and as he closed it behind them, he reached for Jonathan's hand.
Blue eyes looked at him with a mix of pleading and nerves.
"Let me make love to you. Later, we'll talk about taking this further. Okay?"
With Jonathan's consent, Adam led him up the wide, winding staircase to the master bedroom.
Adam lay back against the stacked pillows, Jonathan rested against him, wrapped in an easy embrace. As Jonathan stared out of the large window at the clear night sky, Adam played with his hair, set - it seemed - on straightening out at least one of the thick, dark curls.
"Why did you go over to see Maddy yesterday?" Jonathan asked quietly, teasingly, as he pulled one of the silk sheets up over him.
"I just wanted to ask her why she asked you to make a choice between us when we both had what we wanted already."
"And if I didn't have what I wanted?"
Adam's fingers stilled. "Don't you?"
A moment, then Jonathan nodded. "For now." He felt Adam's deeply drawn breath, felt him release it and relax.
"I do love you, you know that."
Jonathan turned to look back at his lover. "I know." Then he settled his head more comfortably against Adam's chest and closed his eyes.
Adam stayed awake for a long time, vague thoughts playing in his mind. All the influences in their lives and still Jonathan had come back to him. He couldn't help but think about Alan Kalanak. Would Jonathan have gone with him back to the states if circumstances had been different?
Despite saying he didn't want a raise, Adam was going to up Jonathan's pay anyway. The thought of his creative consultant leaving was more than he could bear. However much he desired Jonathan as a lover, he needed him in other ways even more.
He was jealous of Kalanak, he knew that deep down. He wasn't sure he'd be any more jealous if Jonathan had slept with the other brash American.
Tightening his arm around Jonathan's waist, he rested his cheek on the sleeping man's head and tried to still his overactive mind.