PART III: THAT NIGHT

by elfin


“Am I very different?” she’d asked suddenly, after he’d kissed her.
“What?”
“Am I very different?  After kissing Adam?”
Jonathan had known, of course, or at least suspected that she’d seen them that night at the windmill, he and Adam saying a passionate, emotion-driven goodbye.  But in three weeks, Maddy hadn’t mentioned it.  Baring in mind that for those three weeks he’d kept his distance from them both anyway, as he’d tried to sort out what was happening to his usually ordered, predictable love life.

“You saw us.”  She’d nodded her confirmation.  “Why haven’t you said anything before now?”
“Like what?  You don’t seem to be about to run off with him, and despite that kiss I haven’t seen any evidence of a great romance between the two of you.  To be honest, I’m surprised he’s your type.”  The words were gentle enough, but her tone had begun to lean toward that cutting sarcasm she was such an expert in.
“It’s not like that.”  He had watched her walk away from him, turning back when she’d reached the centre of the living room.  Her expression had hardened to something expectant.
“Why don’t you tell me what it is like?”
He wondered now if she’d planned to get angry, or whether hearing him confirm what she thought she knew had struck at the natural jealous streak within her.   “It’s just sex.”  He had heard himself say the words, as if doing so had set them in stone, made them fact.
“You mean he’s not content to have you running around after him at the theatre, not content to send you on errands to woo his other girlfriends, now he’s screwing you as well!”
Jonathan had never known himself to get truly angry.  He wasn’t honestly sure he had the capacity for it.  But he imagined that what he’d felt at that moment was as close as he’d ever come to it.  He had taken his coat from the arm of the chair, and left the flat.  No choice.  It had been either that, or start a row that would have ended their friendship for good.

*

Jonathan sat in the back of the taxi, his thoughts turning over and over on themselves.  By the time he reached Maskelyne Manor, he’d managed to tie himself up in knots, blaming himself for hurting Maddy, for not telling her everything, but especially for ever starting this thing with Adam.  He’d headed over to Maskelyne to end the sporadic, intimate relationship he had with his employer.  Yet as they’d neared the house his treacherous body had betrayed his sensible side, silently reminding him of what he would be missing, hinting that maybe this night should end with the passion it began with.

What made him think Adam would let him end it anyway?  The American could be so persuasive when he wanted to be.  Usually he wouldn’t be bothered, but now and again that quiet cunning won him whatever he wanted.  And he definitely wanted Jonathan.

After paying the taxi driver, he rang the doorbell, and when it wasn’t answered he let himself in with the key Adam had given him when he’d left on his European Tour.  “Adam?”  Closing the door quietly behind him, Jonathan hovered in the entrance hall for a second, listening.  The alarm wasn’t making any sound, which implied Adam was home.  “Adam?”  He stepped through into the front living room, looking across the indoor pool to the patio outside.  All was quiet.  Frowning, he crossed back through the hall and peered into the main lounge that ran the width of the house, front to back.

They were on the sofa, Adam and a woman he didn’t recognise.  He was on top of her, naked, mouth sealed to hers, hands expertly engaged in removing her underwear.

Heart pounding, Jonathan ran, slamming the door in his rush to get as far away from the house as possible.

By the time Adam opened the door again, standing stark naked in the floodlights illuminating the driveway, the intruder was nowhere to be seen.  Of course he wasn’t.  Adam knew without a doubt who it had been.  An expert when it cam to simply vanishing.  The magician’s heart sank.

*

An hour later, Jonathan was staring out of a dirty window at the blurred countryside lit only by the night’s full moon.  He’d missed the last train into Billingshurst, this one would only take him as far as Horsham.  But from there he’d simply catch a taxi.  It wasn’t as if he couldn’t afford it.  All the money Adam had paid him over the years and he only ever spent it on maintaining the windmill and keeping his cupboards stocked.  Adam paid for his rail tickets, a large part of his phone bill and a considerable sum for expenses.  Was he being bought?

All sorts of things had cycled through his mind as he’d stopped running halfway down Adam’s road and phoned for a taxi.  As he’d sat on the cold, lonely platform waiting for his train he couldn’t help but wonder if Maddy had been right.  Adam used him for everything else, was he using him for sex too?

Sitting in the otherwise empty carriage, he let the tears leak from his eyes.  He hadn’t ever expected Adam to make any kind of commitment to him, he didn’t want a commitment.  He hadn’t expected the man to change his habits in any way, and he was still angrier at Maddy than he was at the American.  But just to walk in on them….  It had hurt somehow, hurt when he hadn’t ever thought that it would.

Miserably he stepped down off the train at Horsham and wandered out of the station.  Checking his watch he saw it was five minutes off closing time.  Maybe a drink before getting the taxi home.  The Phoenix and Firkin was just over the road, and he headed for it.
 

“Double brandy please.”
“Ice?”
“No.”  Jonathan reached into his pocket, digging out some change.  As he sorted out a couple of pound coins, he felt a hand on his shoulder.
“Allow me.”  Jonathan’s head snapped up, and he smiled in surprise when a familiar face grinned back at him.
“Chief Inspector Gideon… Pryke, right?”
Gideon nodded, paying the barman and collecting his own drink – a single malt whiskey – before directing Jonathan to an empty table in the corner of the busy pub.  “So what brings you to our delectable town?”
Jonathan shrugged, swallowing half his brandy in one mouthful.  “Bad night.  I missed the last train back to Billingshurst.”
“You need a lift home?”
Jonathan shook his head.  “It’s all right, I’ll get a taxi.”
“Don’t be daft!  It’s not too far out of my way.”  He grinned again, and Jonathan gazed uncertainly at him.  “And this is the only drink I’ve had tonight, don’t worry.  Wouldn’t do for me to get caught, would it?”  There was a mischief in the Inspector’s eye that still worried Jonathan a little.  But it would save him forty or fifty quid, as well as a long wait in a line made up of drunken revellers.  He nodded finally.
“Thanks.  And for the drink.”
“It’s no trouble.”
 

Walking out to the car park, they gladly left the buzz of the pub behind.
“So what was so awful about tonight?”  Gideon enquired as he unlocked the doors of the Calibra.
Jonathan dropped down into the expensive seats.  Idly, he wondered how a policeman afforded a top of the range car.  “Just the usual,” he said noncommittally.
Gideon correctly interpreted the answer as an end of conversation, and without a pause he changed the topic.  “So how’s the crime solving business?”  He started the engine and backed the car out of its spot.
“Quiet, actually.”
Gideon glanced at him before pulling forward out onto the main road, turning left to head south out of the town.  “Rumour has it otherwise.  Something about a maniac ex-chef and a knife?”
Jonathan nodded.  “A couple of weeks ago.”  He explained briefly what had happened.  The newspapers had seemed to spice up the story above what was actually the truth.  “I’m fine now,” he concluded.
“Glad to hear it.”

They left the city behind.  Jonathan started to give directions until Gideon found himself driving out into the middle of nowhere.
“Don’t you get lonely out here?”
“I like it.  I like living alone and I like the quiet.  If I want company I just go into London.”  His voice faded, and Gideon glanced at him again.
“Sure you don’t want to talk about it?”
“Positive, thanks.”  He pointed at a turning a few hundred yards down the road.  “Right here.”
 

“Wow.”  Gideon pulled the car to a slow stop in front of the windmill and looked up out of his window.  “You really live here?”
Jonathan nodded as he unfastened his seat belt.  “It’s been in the family for five generations.”  He reached for the door handle and looked back at his impromptu chauffeur.  “Can I… get you a coffee?”
Gideon smiled, that patented expression he had of constant contentment with the world around him.  “Why not?”

The telephone was ringing when he pushed open the door, but Jonathan ignored it.  He’d been ignoring his mobile too.  He knew it would be one of Maddy or Adam trying to reach him.  He didn’t want to talk to either of them.  Gideon noted Jonathan’s inaction, but said nothing.  He’d already put this down to Maddy Magallen and Jonathan’s obviously volatile relationship with the lady.   He sat down at the wooden kitchen table.
“How long have you worked with Adam Klaus?”
The innocent question, one Gideon believed to be harmless, sent Jonathan’s mind reeling again with images of his employer – his lover – on that sofa with the strange woman.  He closed his eyes briefly, trying to clear his thoughts.  “Twelve years,” he managed finally, with a short hesitation.  “When I left school I started to think about something to do for a living.  I sent around some ideas and he contacted me.  He was playing little back street clubs here and in the states, doing close-up magic to small, usually drunk audiences.  The first show we put on together was at a festival in New Orleans.  He lived there for a few years, calls it his spiritual home.”  The memory brought a smile to Jonathan’s face.  “He said afterwards that it was the first time people had actually paid attention.  We set up on this street corner and went through the same routine about a hundred times.  There were crowds around him throughout the weekend.  We ended up doing the routine in this bar one night, and he received his first standing ovation from these New Orleans residents.”  Jonathan placed the cafetiere on the table with two mugs, milk and sugar.  Sitting down, he tapped the glass of the cafetiere lightly, deep in thought.  “When I think about how it all was back then, and how it is now….  It’s difficult to believe it’s the same world.”

Gideon regarded Jonathan with interest.  Since they’d worked together on the Black Canary case he’d been fascinated with the man.  He’d been to see the Klaus stage show a couple of times, not to watch the magician, but to see Jonathan Creek’s work in action.  They shared a way of thinking, an unusual ability to see things literally and laterally at the same time, to take a problem and view it from all possible angles.  Gideon had never before met anyone as like himself as Jonathan was.
“Why is he living in the mansion and being driven around in the Rolls while you’re still taking trains and taxis and living out here?”
Jonathan smiled at least.  “He chooses to live like that, it’s very him, he loves it.  I choose to live here because I love it, I don’t want a chauffeur and I can’t drive.”  He leaned over and pressed down on the plunger of the cafetiere, driving the coffee through the water.  “It’s not a case of the master taking advantage of his slave.”
Gideon heard the slight bitterness in the tone and wondered where it had come from.  He watched Jonathan pour the coffee.  “I hope that’s true,” Gideon told him quietly as he rested his chin on his hand, elbow on the table.  “I hope he isn’t taking advantage.”

Jonathan stared at his guest, not quite believing what he’d heard.  He didn’t know what to say.  Throughout his life, through his childhood and teenage years girls and women would either be laughing at him or with him, and men would either avoid him or beat him up.  As an adult, his career with Adam had afforded him at least professional recognition, and a safe haven of friends who knew him and respected him.  He’d never seen himself as particularly attractive to either sex.  He never tried at making himself attractive.  But Adam had told him once that women did throw themselves at him, and as for the men....  Was Gideon honestly making a pass at him?

As the thoughts passed through his brain, Gideon watched him, and finally took pity on him.  “Sorry, I didn’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable.”  Jonathan shook his head, but Gideon could read people without trying.  “Tell me about you and Maddy.  Two unlikely partners I thought.”
Safe ground, and Jonathan once again told the tale of the artist, the French model, his wife and her magazine publishing company.  Half way through the story, the telephone rang again, and again Jonathan ignored it.
 

Some time later, Gideon thanked his host for the coffee and started to leave.  As he reached the door, he turned to Jonathan standing behind him.
“Who is it you don’t want to speak to?”
Jonathan shrugged.  “No one in particular.  Everyone in general.”
Gideon nodded, “In that case, thanks for talking to me.”  He smiled his patented smile and bade Jonathan goodnight.

*

Every fifteen minutes for the next two hours, the phone rang out.  Jonathan had left it downstairs when he’d gone to bed, but at a quarter passed two he switched the ring off.  His upstairs phone was an old one, and wouldn’t be switched off.  At two thirty he pulled it out of the socket.  He hoped whoever it was would get the message.  But at a quarter to three his mobile rang.  He switched it off, and sure that there was no other method of contacting him, he buried himself under the duvet and tried to get some sleep.

Just after three thirty his own innate curiosity got the better of him and he rang through to his mobile voice mail service.  There was one message.

“Jonathan, listen, I’m sorry.  I shouldn’t have said what I did, it was out of line.  Please call me.”

He ended the call and switched the phone back off.  Dropping it onto the floor next to the bed, he stared up out of the small window at the clear sky.  His fingers played idly with the chain and pendent around his neck.  He’d had worse nights, hadn’t he, in retrospect?  If he hadn’t have gone off at the deep end with Maddy he would probably be lying in her bed right know, sated and happy.  It was almost farcical, the path his life seemed to take sometimes.

Finally giving up trying to sleep, he pulled on his old grey bathrobe and headed up to the lounge.  Curling into one corner of the sofa he switched on the television and found an old black and white film on Channel 4 – a stage hypnotist who kept his assistant almost permanently in a trance and at times turned her into a large lizard, her primal self.  It all seemed rather apt.
 
 

In a dark blue BMW, pulled up on the side of the country road just north of Briar Hollow, Adam sat with the engine off and the sunroof open.  Leaning back in the driver’s seat he stared up at the same stars Jonathan had studied minutes ago.  One thing at least was for sure, he wouldn’t be seeing Katie again.  Whatever had possessed him to drive out here, he didn’t know.  Jonathan wasn’t answering his calls and by now he had to be home because he wasn’t at Maddy’s.  She hadn’t sounded in a particularly great mood either.  A strange woman in his humble opinion.

He’d come this far, he was only minutes from the windmill.  But he’d stopped.  Because he didn’t know why he was here, why he’d told a beautiful, willing woman that ironically ‘something had come up and he had to go’.  It was the first time, ever, in his whole life that he’d done it.  He didn’t know what it meant, and it scared him.  Certainly he’d had one woman walk in on him and another woman before, many times in fact.  And usually they’d both left hurriedly, tossing back some banal insults that bounced off him without scratching the surface.  On the odd occasion, his charms had been persuasive enough….  He stopped that thought in its tracks.

So he’d left the arms of a naked woman to drive out here into the middle of nowhere.  It had been a final option, after he hadn’t been able to reach Jonathan by any other means.  He’d told himself at first that Jonathan had left the house simply because he had been otherwise engaged.  But why slam the door?  And when he’d found the mobile switched off – something Jonathan never did – and the number at the windmill simply ringing out, he’d known it was more.

They should never have started this – he should never have started it.  It was one thing to sleep with a woman, then to end it and to suffer through verbal abuse or a one-off story in a newspaper telling the uncaring public what a pig he was.  But this was Jonathan, the man upon whom his career depended.  The man who stood by him no matter what he did or what he asked.  This wasn’t one he could just walk away from, but he’d known that at the beginning.  So why?  Why had he started something that he couldn’t finish?  Perhaps… because he never intended to.

The car engine purred gently into life and he pulled away from the curb, continuing his journey to Ripley Mill.
 

Jonathan was surprised to hear a car pulling up outside.  Usually Maddy let them both stew overnight until the morning came and they’d both lost enough sleep to apologise to one another and carry on.  And so he waited, listened to the car door open and close, and wondered what he’d say to her, whether he’d get an apology and whether he needed one.  After all, she’d been right, hadn’t she.

Downstairs, the front door opened with a slight squeak.  “Jonathan?”

Suddenly his heart was beating harder, and the ambient temperature felt to have risen by several degrees.  He managed to compose himself enough to get up and walk calmly down the wooden stairs to the ground floor.  Adam was standing hesitantly in the doorway, watching him with uncertainty.
“Hi.”  Jonathan stopped with one foot in mid-step on to the bottom stair.
“Your telephone’s switched off.”  As if that would somehow explain his presence.
Jonathan nodded.  “Between you and Maddy it was the only way I was going to get any sleep.”
Adam frowned.  “Did I wake you?”
“No.  I couldn’t sleep anyway.”
Adam hesitated a beat, but when it became clear that Jonathan wasn’t going to ask him to leave immediately, he stepped inside and closed the door behind him.  A few moments of looking at one another, and then Jonathan gave in.  “Come up.”
 

Jonathan poured them both generous measures of whiskey and led Adam out on to the balcony.  “You didn’t have to come all the way out here,” he told the American, leaning back against the railings.  “You don’t have to worry about it.  I’m not going to resign over any of this.”
Standing close, but not too close, Adam gazed down into the amber liquid in his glass.  “That’s not why I’m here.”  He looked up, trying to read the expression on Jonathan’s face.  “You think I’m using you, like I use you for everything else.”  He didn’t wait for an answer.  “I’m not.  I use other people.  I try to be sure they know they’re being used, but…  But not you.  You mean too much to me.”
Jonathan shook his head.  “You don’t have to do that, I don’t need it.  We never promised each other anything.  I’m sorry I slammed your door.  I could have left and you’d never have known I’d been there.  I was angry, but with Maddy, not with you.”  He turned, bending slightly to lean his arms on the top bar of the waist-height railing.  “I was over there earlier.  She saw us, that night when we said goodbye out here.  I thought she had but she hadn’t mentioned it.  Then tonight, of course… just like her to pick her moments.  She said some things that… well, she just pissed me off.  I don’t know why I even went over to your place.  I’m sorry.”
Adam shook his head.  “Don’t you apologise.”  He leaned down next to Jonathan, nursing his untouched drink in his hands.  “I don’t want to give you up, but my reasons are entirely selfish.  You said in Reykjavik that it was just something else we were really good at doing together.”  He didn’t see Jonathan’s ironic smile.  “We could just ditch it and concentrate on everything else we do well together.”
Jonathan knocked back his drink in one.  “Is that what you want?”
“No.”
“Me neither.”

Jonathan started to relax.  There was something really good about feeling Adam so close, just their shoulders touching, the two of them alone without the rest of the world watching.  The dark seemed to surround them, hiding everything beyond this place, shielding them from it all just for a while.  Jonathan turned his head, tracing Adam’s familiar profile with his eyes.
“What did you tell her?”
Adam turned, struck by Jonathan’s nearness.  “Who?”  His gaze travelled to his friend’s mouth.
“The girl who was with you.”  He watched Adam’s eyes as they roamed his face.
“I told her… something had come up.”
“I bet that went down well.”
“Didn’t matter.  Doesn’t matter.”  Closing the small gap, Adam touched his lips to Jonathan’s, pausing a moment before transforming the contact into a kiss, one that was slowly returned.  They both stood straight and Adam wrapped one arm around his lover, not breaking the kiss.  He felt Jonathan’s arm come around his waist and for a long time they remained like that.  When they parted, he heard one whispered word, “Stay.”  He didn’t have to say yes.

Jonathan closed the balcony door behind them.  Flicking the lights off, he joined Adam across the room.  He’d plunged them into darkness, but somehow the American still found his hand and took a hold of it.  “This isn’t why I came here.”
Jonathan smiled to himself, amused despite his best efforts to be hurt by the night’s events.  “Change of plan.”  There were no more hesitations as he directed Adam down one floor to the bedroom.

Kicking his shoes off, Adam stood on the wooden boards of the floor and reached for Jonathan, slipping his arms inside the gown that was wrapped around his lover’s body.  Jonathan resisted being embraced long enough to open Adam’s shirt and pull on the end of the tied belt at his own waist.  Skin pressed against skin when Adam kissed him.

Jonathan’s confidence grew with every encounter, and he undressed Adam slowly, managing to get him onto the bed to pull off his socks.  As he moved back up, Adam grabbed him, pushing the robe from his shoulders before pressing him onto his back.  The American straddled his lover where he lay horizontally across the sheets.  He removed Jonathan’s boxers while simultaneously leaning down to lick first the left nipple and then the right.

Jonathan combed his fingers into Adam’s fine hair, moaning dully.  Adam smiled to himself, knowing at least this about his new lover.  He looked up, eyes dark.  “When you want me to stop, just say “windmill”.  Do you understand?”
Jonathan nodded, looking down at Adam partly in desperation, partly in fear.   But the experienced American recognised the expression.  Hurting Jonathan was the last thing he wanted to do.  He just had to be careful.  He lowered his head over the right nipple, sealing his lips over the hard bud and at first simply suckling gently.  Jonathan moaned softly, toes and feet curling upwards as he started to feel the hard press of teeth into his flesh.  Adam bit harder, sucking at the surrounding skin, feeling Jonathan’s fingers twisting almost painfully in his hair.  Lifting his head a little, he caressed the tender nipple with his tongue, lapping at it gently before repeating the assault on the right one.

“Please, Adam....”  There was a begging tone in Jonathan’s taut voice that spoke volumes to the other man.  Adam soothed the pained nipple before he started to lower himself, to lower his body down onto Jonathan’s, pressing his erection into Jonathan’s painfully hard cock.  “God....”  Desperate for completion, Jonathan scraped his nails down Adam’s back, stopping suddenly when he heard his lover’s cry.
“Don’t stop,” Adam’s voice held the same tightly-caught control that Jonathan had heard in his own, and in a moment of knowing, he gripped the broad shoulders and raked his nails over the skin to the small of the back, moving downwards to clutch the buttocks.  The extra pressure sent spikes of arousal through Jonathan, and he wanted more.  Reaching between them, he took hold of Adam’s shaft, rubbing his thumb against the sensitive place just under the tip.  Groaning, Adam thrust into his hand.

Jonathan rolled out from under his lover, pushing him onto his back.
“Jonathan....”  But Adam shut up as he was taken into a warm, moist mouth between lips that tightened as they dropped down his full length.  Pulling back, Jonathan glanced up, pleased with the expression of ecstasy on his lover’s face.  He tongued the end of the weeping cock, savouring the odd taste.  Adam sat up, pushing himself on to his elbows.  “Turn around.”  It was a moment before he understood, but Jonathan swung his legs around, lying comfortably on top, sinking his own erection deep into the other’s throat.

They drove one another mad, Jonathan learning the skills of his lover, mirroring Adams’s actions.  Jonathan came first, cock pulsing, nipples still aching wonderfully from the brief torture.  Adam gripped the man atop of him, still sucking on his softening cock as he too came hard.
 

Spooned up behind his lover, Adam wrapped one possessive arm over Jonathan while he tucked the other under his head.  Nuzzling the damp curly hair, Adam kissed him.
“I’m sorry I hurt you tonight,” he whispered, “I never ever meant to.”
Jonathan sighed gently, finding Adam’s hand where it lay over his chest and linking their fingers.  “Don’t worry about it.”  They were the last words he uttered before sleep finally got the better of him.  Only a couple of hours before sunrise.

*

After leaving the message on Jonathan’s mobile answering service, Maddy had known that all she could do was wait.  She’d considered driving straight down to West Sussex, but things usually worked out best if she left it over night.  She’d finally fallen asleep on the sofa around midnight.

But now the sun had risen, and he hadn’t rung back.  She tried his home telephone and his mobile once more before showering and changing and setting off for Briar Hollow.

*

Adam stirred as the sunlight filtered in through the small bedroom window.  It was a moment before he remembered where he was, but when he did he turned over, smiling to himself.  Jonathan hadn’t moved in the night, was still lying on his side with his back to Adam, his breathing soft and even, snoring gently on and off.  Propping himself up on one elbow, Adam stroked his hand very lightly over Jonathan’s hair, down over the duvet wrapped around him.

Jonathan moved back, pressing himself against Adam, almost purring.  Adam sighed contentedly, moving his arm under the duvet, wrapping his arm around Jonathan’s warm, naked waist.  “Don’t let the day in yet,” he murmured softly.  Jonathan turned his head, smiling with some surprise.  Adam caught the expression.  “See, I can be romantic.”
Rolling onto his back, into Adam’s waiting arms, Jonathan pulled his lover down to him, sealing their lips, initiating their first good morning kiss.
 

The first thing Maddy saw, as she swung the Volvo through the gate, was the dark BMW parked in front of the windmill.  She swore softly, wondering when Mr Wonderful had arrived.  Until now, Adam had simply been someone who’d kept Jonathan busy when she didn’t need him around.  Now though he was competition, and it had to be said it looked as if he was winning.
 

Upstairs, oblivious for the moment of the car drawing up outside, Adam and Jonathan clung to one another, tongues buried deep inside one another’s mouth as if trying to eat each other alive.  Jonathan wrapped his leg over Adam’s, two muscular thighs crushed together, morning erections rubbing one against the other in an ancient dance of arousal.
 

Parking next to the BMW and killing the engine, Maddy was suddenly hesitant about going inside.  What if Adam had been here since last night?  Finally making up her mind, she opened the car door and got out, slamming it shut.
“Hi.”
She looked up, surprised by the voice.  Jonathan was standing on the balcony, grey robe around him.
“Jonathan....  I came to apologise about last night, I was out of line I know.”  She got the whole thing out in one breath, by now she was used to apologising for her behaviour toward Jonathan.
Leaning over the railing, he nodded, accepting her apology.  “Want a coffee?”
She glanced at the other car.  “Adam’s here.”
Jonathan nodded.  “He turned up in the early hours of this morning.  You weren’t the only one I had a slight misunderstanding with last night.”
Maddy frowned, wondering what in hell Adam had done.  Whatever it was, he’d felt it necessary to drive thirty-five miles out of London to apologise in person.  “You’re sure you want me in there?”
Jonathan chose to ignore the hint of sarcasm in her voice.  “I think you and I should have a chat, don’t you?”
 

Placing a mug of coffee in front of her, Jonathan sat down and sipped his own drink.  He gave her a brief history of his and Adam’s relationship from the night Adam had made the first advance at the side of the indoor swimming pool at Maskelyne Manor, through the night they’d first slept together and Reykjavik.  He left out all the details, and omitted mentioning anything concerning their ‘quickie’ in Adam’s dressing room, or the events of this morning.  He guessed she could probably work that out on her own.

“I just never imagined it,” Maddy told him eventually, after listening with stunned yet irrepressible interest.  “I mean, I never thought you’d... be with a man, never mind Adam.”
“It’s because he’s Adam.  I wouldn’t go for men, never have and probably never will.  But there was something starting between us....  We’re both consenting adults.  He didn’t push me into this.  Whatever you think of him, he’s not using me.”
Maddy sighed.  “I know.  Like I said, I am sorry about last night.  I expected competition, just not from him, not from a source I can’t possibly win over.”
Jonathan smiled gently.  “He isn’t competition.  We give each other something we can’t get anywhere else.  It’s not long-term commitment.  I didn’t ever mean to hurt you with this.  We’ve never spoken about committing to one another.”
“I know.  And you haven’t hurt me.  Just... surprised me.  I was pissed because you hadn’t told me.”
“It didn’t slip easily into conversation.”  Jonathan reached over and took her hands into his.  “I don’t know where any of this is going.”  He smiled shyly, hopefully at her.  “I don’t want anyone getting hurt.”
“Except you.”  Maddy squeezed his hand.  “What happened last night between you and he?”
“I went over there after I left you, walked in on him and a ladyfriend.”
“Oops.”
Jonathan nodded.  “’Oops’ is right.”  He sipped his coffee, and finding it had cooled, he drank down a mouthful.  “I tell you who I did manage to speak to last night without incident, Gideon Pryke.”
The name was familiar, but it took her a few seconds to place it.  “The Inspector?  Handled the Carney case?”  Jonathan nodded.  “Where did you run into him?”
“Well, I missed the last train to Billingshurst so I went into Horsham and thought I’d get a taxi.  I popped into a pub for last orders and he was in there, gave me a lift home.”  He paused.  “It’s odd, but I’d swear he made a pass at me.”
 

Fully clothed, Adam wondered upstairs from the bedroom, taking his first good look around Jonathan’s living room.  At first it seemed that there was stuff everywhere, but when you really looked, everything had its place and was neatly ordered.  Only the desk next to the pillar in the centre of the room was a real mess, of drawings and measurements; the details and workings of yet another great trick that would keep Adam Klaus in the ranks of the world’s greatest illusionists.

He knew he was lucky, no one had to tell him that.  He picked up a photo that had been thrown on to the pile of papers with a letter.  It was of a group of men, all sitting around a table, all of whom looked very much like Jonathan – same hair, same dress-sense.  The read the top of the letter, declaring itself to be from the ‘Jonathan Creek Fan Club’.  He dropped the photograph back, bemused.  There was so much of Jonathan’s life that didn’t revolve around him and around the show.  So much he wasn’t aware of and wasn’t a part of.

Yet looking around, it was obvious that the magic at least was the most important part of Jonathan’s life, the part that acquired his energy, his passion.  Just to be a part of that struck him suddenly as being incredibly important.  Because there was no way he would ever be able to have more.

***

By the time Adam got back to Maskelyne, the postman had been and his pet tiger was growling about not having been fed.  A couple of letters stood out amongst the usual stack forwarded to him by his agent.  One caught his eye - a dark red envelope, his name and address hand written in gold in a flowing script.  The letter itself was in the same hand, on paper that matched the envelope.

‘Dear Mr Klaus, we take pleasure in inviting you on stage at the club.  To accept, simply let us know when you wish to perform.  Yours, Francene Kay, Director, Skin.’

Adam smiled to himself, and folded the letter, sliding it back into the envelope.  Picking up the digital phone handset, he dialled a number from memory and waited as it rang through.
“Jenny Page.”
“Hi, Jenny, Adam.  Listen, doll, would you do me a favour?  Pop down to Versace, would you, and pick up a silk shirt, medium size in a deep red?  And buy yourself something devastatingly expensive while you’re there.”

*

The following day, while Jonathan was out at lunch with Maddy and her publisher Barry, a package was delivered to his door and left on the step.  It was a large, thin white box, a black and gold ribbon tied around it into an extravagant bow.  Inside, a delicate silk shirt had been folded neatly around sheets of tissue paper, and on top of that lay a note.

‘Wear it for me sometime?  Love ya, A.’