"I've got this theory
that Jonathan Creek is himself an
when you think you've found him, he drifts through
your fingers like
"At least this time, I was
"Adam?" They must have resembled two school children caught talking in class as they stared up guiltily at Chris, their tour manager. "Christ, look at you two! Have you got a dirty mag under there or something?"
Four Weeks Later
Jonathan couldn't believe how relieved he felt, yet at the same time, how suddenly alone. Twelve thirty-five. Finally, Adam was out of the country for the start of his whistle-stop European tour. Five cities in twelve days. Utter madness, and very Adam.
The last four weeks had been a minefield of emotions Jonathan wasn't used to and could barely cope with. They'd worked together as synchronously as ever, putting together a new show for the short tour that would end back at the Prince of Wales in a fortnight. Adam hadn't ever pretended that one night hadn't happened, but neither had he made another move, and Jonathan found himself swinging continuously between relief and depression.
As he imagined a great many of Adam's former lovers had experienced, he felt used. Sometimes. Without any reason to. Late some nights when he'd lain alone in bed staring out of the window at the clear, cold sky, rerunning that night in his mind, torturing himself.
But he didn't know why. He
didn't want anything from Adam that he
hadn't already got. Their friendship remained in tact,
closer than it
had previously been. But the expert touch on his
starving body was
difficult to dismiss, impossible to forget. Adam had
driven him to an
explosive orgasm that his own hand just couldn't match.
Sitting on the floor of his lounge, leaning back against the sofa, legs out in front of him with ankles crossed, he watched the second hand of one of his clocks as it shaved time off his holiday second by second. Two weeks. All Adam had asked was that he keep his mobile switched on and leave a contact number if he decided to go away abroad. He'd considered it. He'd even considered flying to the states to see his parents, but that idea hadn't been entertained for long.
Last night they'd had a final run through a couple of points that had been bugging him about the new tricks. Adam had dropped him at Victoria station at eleven and thanked him. And that had been it. Sitting on the train, more depressed than he could ever remember being, he'd asked himself what else he'd wanted or expected. It was a question he couldn't answer.
Downstairs on the kitchen table was the envelope Adam had given him, containing the exact details of the tour; the theatres and their respective phone numbers. It remained unopened. He'd had no reason to open it and doubted if he would.
Somehow, by some miracle, he'd managed to keep Maddy unaware of what had occurred that night. She'd been around as usual. The man shot to death in the park had come to nothing, and as far as Jonathan knew she'd had no stories of interest since then.
Speak of the devil....
The phone's ring stirred
him, and he reached for the handset lying
floor a couple of feet away.
Clambering to his feet,
Jonathan mooched down two floors to the
"What?" he turned, frowning.
'Jonathan, the house is
yours whenever. Make yourself at home.
I'll call if the exploding banana fails! See you in 2
weeks. Love ya,
He composed himself quickly
enough to lie and tell her that he'd
Adam wanted him to feed the plants. And then he smiled,
and he kept
so that by the time he handed her a mug of coffee, she
By seven that evening the floor of the second storey of Jonathan's windmill home was carpeted in photocopies and print outs all to do with a spooky old house known as 'Bode Manor', located somewhere on the Hog's Back near Guildford. Recently the place had been bought and converted into a five-star hotel. But a rapidly growing number of guests claiming they'd heard and seen a ghostly apparition on the staircase was threatening business. And a couple of days ago one of the patrons had died of a heart attack following such an event. Desperate, the owners of the hotel had called Maddy's publisher, Barry, and begged him to persuade Maddy and her associate Jonathan Creek to at least glance at the incidents.
"I went through a phase of enjoying ghost stories when I was about ten," Jonathan told her wistfully, smiling his thanks as she handed him a plate with a knife and fork. She'd offered to cook, being as it was her case he was currently looking into. It had taken time, but she'd managed to memorise a couple of vegetarian recipes for him. And without doubt he had the most stocked kitchen she'd ever worked in. "There was a place called Borley Rectory. It was plagued by various ghosts and ghostly noises, screams, sobs, laughter, the old footsteps in the corridor. Scientists went and stayed there, trying to find some explanation of what so many people were claiming was happening. One night, one of them saw a woman floating through the garden one evening. When they looked in to it, it turned out to be a pillar of mosquitoes following the underground stream."
Maddy stared at him from the
sofa. "Another of your 'not everything
you see is actually what it appears to be' examples?"
"Everything all right?"
Maddy watched him disappear
down the stairs, and a couple of seconds
later, she heard the fridge door closing and the
clinking of glasses.
When he returned, he was carrying two bottles of white
glasses and a bottle opener.
Maddy woke first. For a little while she lay still, just watching Jonathan sleep. But finally she had to get up. Nature was calling, and was being quite demanding about it. Taking Jonathan's warm grey dressing gown and wrapping it around herself, she padded upstairs. Their clothes littered the second floor of the windmill.
She'd sat and watched him drink his way through one and a half bottles of wine. He didn't usually drink such excessive amounts unless he was with Adam, so she'd assumed something was up. But he wouldn't talk to her, kept denying that anything was wrong and finally she'd decided just to take his mind off whatever it was obviously on. In his inebriated state he was a pushover. She made all the moves and they'd wound up making love on the leather sofa. Warmer there than the kitchen table, she supposed.
Bit by bit she located and
picked up various items of clothing. As
she rescued Jonathan's shirt from the table lamp, she
by the phone's familiar ring. Dumping the small pile of
the sofa she searched the floor for the telephone
handset, finding it
under her camisole.
A few minutes later,
Jonathan padded downstairs, obviously in search
of his shirt. "Who was that?"
'Bode Manor' was a Tudor house steeped in history. A full black and white beamed exterior and sprawling acres of land, half of which they drove through to reach the place.
Left to his own devices to check the place out, Jonathan found himself standing at the foot of the grand staircase which seemed to be at the heart of the mystery. It went up in front of him for ten wide steps, and then along a balcony landing across the length of the hallway before steps went up again and out of sight.
He climbed the first set of stairs and looked along the landing. A red, intermittently flashing light in the top-left corner of the ceiling caught his attention. Its counterpart flashed in sync at the other end of the landing, where the stairs carried on up. Part of the alarm system, he supposed. But if that was the case, what were the small black boxes partially hidden in each bottom corner? Kneeling down by the nearest one, he saw it all.
All he needed now was a name.
This evening, a whole new set of papers covered the floor of the windmill's lounge. Files on the hotel's owners, details of their other businesses, hotels and restaurants, and all their staff lists for the last two years. There were stacks of papers, but at least Jonathan had a vague clue about what he was looking for.
At eight, Maddy went out to locate the nearest Indian take-away. Jonathan had some idea that there was one in the nearby town of Billingshurst, but when she found the town on the map she declared that there must be a closer one. She'd been gone forty minutes when the phone rang.
As he placed the handset on the carpet, he heard the door open and Maddy call up. "Found one!"
A few minutes later she came
up with three bags from the Indian
take-away and one from the off-licence. Jonathan cleared
a space on the
floor and opened
two of the bottles of Cobra Lager.
Adam didn't meet Jonathan at
the airport, but he did at least sent a
driver - Owen - and a hired limo.
The hotel was beautiful, and
Adam had reserved him a suite for the
night, no expense spared. He supposed he should be
his bag to the floor he left the room again and let Owen
drive him to
Adam wiped the mashed fruit
from his face, looking up with relief as
his beloved consultant sidled in through the side door
The trick worked perfectly.
"Where would I be without
you?" Adam led Jonathan through the
labyrinth of corridors at the back of the theatre to the
rooms. "I'm sorry I wasn't at the airport. We couldn't
stop the damn
banana from going off."
Pouring himself a glass of
bubbly (Adam never drank before a show),
Jonathan sat himself down and lifted Adam's pen from the
pocket of his
jacket, flung over the back of one of the chairs,
calling out, "Do you
want these photographs signing?"
Adam stepped out of the en
suite and saw Jonathan place a complete
pile of photos on the dressing table, picking up another
"You're a star. Thank you."
The show went without a
hitch. The banana exploded on cue. Adam took
three curtain calls and came away with enough underwear
to open a
Adam smirked back as he took
two bottles of chilled champagne from
the fridge and handed one to Jonathan. Eyes sparkling,
they popped the
corks together, showering one another with fizz. The
temperature in the
room seemed to rise a notch as they chinked the bottles
Their first stop was a vodka
bar that Mike had been to last time
the city. The place itself resembled the dining room of
Jonathan, Gayle and Adam sat at the end of one long
table while Mike
to the bar. He returned empty handed, but followed by a
a five-foot long plank of wood onto the wooden table in
front of them.
plank contained a row of small shot glasses, each
containing a double
shot of unidentified flavour.
They each chose a glass and
counted to three. The vodka was downed
and the glasses banged on the table. Adam almost spat
Six vodkas each later, Jonathan was ready for something that he could identify without having to drink it first. They moved on to the next bar.
Unknowingly breaking the tension, Mike strode in between them and put enough money down on the bar for a round of tall, cold lagers.
How Adam did it, Jonathan would never know. But by the time they'd reached the fifth bar - a noisier, brighter place called 'Gallery' - Gayle was all over Mike and her attentions were definitely being appreciated.
They left 'Gallery' at around two thirty am with Adam declaring he was exhausted. He had flown in from Venice that morning after all, and done two rehearsals and a live show. Together they wove their way back to the hotel, Gayle and Mike with their arms around one another, Adam and Jonathan close enough for each to be more than aware each other.
Once back at the hotel they waited for the other two to chose a room for the night, his or hers, before pausing between the door's of their own rooms. Biting his bottom lip, Jonathan looked up into Adam's face and knew that there wasn't going to be a discussion. "Yours," he stated before the other could ask. "That way, I can leave when you're asleep." Raising his eyebrows, he waited for a witty, alcohol-tempered response. But Adam simply smiled, nodded, and unlocked the door to his own room.
The moment the door closed, Jonathan pinned Adam against it, mouth finding his, tongue begging entrance. Adam dropped his room keys to the floor and wrapped his arms around the man who was trying to climb him. He deepened the kiss, outlining the contours of Jonathan's mouth with his tongue. Fingers clawed into his back, not nearly hard enough for him, but with adequate pressure so as to convince Adam that Jonathan was as desperate for him now as he had been for Jonathan the last time.
Adam ended the kiss, tangling his fingers in the soft, curly hair at the back of his lover's head, tonguing his way down over Jonathan's jaw and neck, kissing his throat, basking in the moans of need that vibrated against his lips. Dumping their coats, removing outer layers of warm clothing as they went, they somehow made it to the bed. Adam unbuttoned Jonathan's shirt, kissing the lean body as it was revealed to him. In turn, Jonathan was wrestling his way through Adam's clothing to bare skin.
Clothes were thrown item by
item onto the floor beside the bed. They
kissed one another frantically at first, lips meeting
chilled flesh as
they wrapped around one another, hands exploring areas
of interest. And
then, as the warmth
of the room and the fairly substantial volume of alcohol
began to take effect, the excitement drained from them.
alcohol and exhaustion combining to over-rule his lust
until he simply
asleep, lying on his side, face to face with Jonathan
who smiled to
before settling down on his back and letting his own
body fall into
Only a couple of hours later, Adam woke. The body that had been spooned up behind him moved away and out from under the duvet they'd somehow managed to snuggle under. Sighing silently to himself, he lay still, his eyes remaining shut, while a door opened and closed. His first, defeated thought was the Jonathan had once again abandoned him in the darkness.
But a few minutes later he heard something else; a toilet flush, and that door opening and closing again. And then a warm body snuck back under the duvet and curled up behind him, pressing against him.
Slowly, he turned over,
backing Jonathan up slightly, coming face to
face with his colleague. "We fell asleep," he stated
In contrast to the frenzy of what they'd shared in the early hours of the morning, this kiss was slow and luxurious. Adam took his time, tracing the outline of Jonathan's lips before dipping between them, stroking his tongue over the other's in passing, kissing him deeply. After a time, Adam gently bit Jonathan's bottom lip and began to kiss a path down his neck, taking the gold chain of Jonathan's pendant between his teeth for a moment before letting go and continuing to his shoulders.
Bringing his hands up finally, Adam rolled his lover on to his back. Straddling Jonathan, Adam continued his exploration until he reached the left nipple when he locked his lips around the hardened flesh.
Jonathan arched up into the contact, hands reaching for the back of Adam's head, urging him on. Experimentally, Adam bit down slightly, groaning in delight at Jonathan's small cries of pleasure. Raising his head, he grinned, turning his face to kiss his lover's palm as Jonathan's hands framed his face for a second.
Jonathan gazed up, catching
Adam's hair between his fingers and
holding him for a moment. "That night, at your place, I
was a one-night stand," he stated a little breathlessly.
Relieved, Adam lowered his face to Jonathan's chest again, this time assaulting the right nipple in a similar manner, enjoying every sound he easily coaxed from his lover. He bit again, harder this time, first one nipple then the other, listening carefully until he heard the first tinges of pain in Jonathan's cries, finding the line at which pleasure turned into something darker.
Not wanting to cross that
line quite yet, he relented, sitting up,
moving until he could once again devour his lover's
willing mouth. Such
an incredible kisser, Adam wondered what other skills
those lips could
be taught. Ending the kiss, licking Jonathan's lips, he
tried to gauge
the expression on darkly framed face. Quietly, he
whispered, "Am I your
In one motion, graceful despite the alcoholic fog still clouding his judgement, Adam moved up the bed until his knees rested either side of Jonathan's head and his hard, substantial cock pressed to those full lips. He watched for some sign that Jonathan wasn't willing to do this, but Jonathan closed his eyes and opened his mouth, not quite inviting, but at least submitting. Adam pushed himself inside, at first nudging his lover's tongue, then when he felt the first suction, burying himself into Jonathan's throat. Jonathan's hands came up against his back, and a moment later fingernails scraped hard into his skin, raking down over his shoulder blades and spine. At the same time, Jonathan sucked hard on the cock almost choking him, surprising Adam into a shocking, fierce orgasm.
Before he knew it, Adam was
coming down Jonathan's throat, hard and
desperate as if he hadn't had sex in months. Jonathan's
attached themselves to his nipples, learning by
mimicking, and the
sensation turned Adam's world black for a split second.
When he opened
his eyes, his lover was still sucking gently on his
softening cock, and
he sat up carefully, collapsing to one side.
Turning, Adam coaxed Jonathan down the bed slightly and onto his side. Lightly pushing on the top leg leg, he persuaded Jonathan to bend his knee, placing his foot behind Adam's head as his lover's mouth closed on the base of his cock. Jonathan felt himself pressing at the back of Adam's throat and he groaned something incoherent. Adam had done this before, and his experience had taught him an exquisite use of his throat muscles that brought Jonathan to a swift, prolonged climax. Adam swallowed as enthusiastically as his lover had done, milking the rapidly softening cock for everything it had to give before releasing it, mindful of the now painfully sensitive head.
Jonathan dropped on to his back, breathing heavily. When Adam's arm draped over his chest, he found his lover's hand and linked their fingers, each closing his hand over the other's. Adam rested his head atop of Jonathan's, hooked his leg over Jonathan's thigh, and closed his eyes, breathing in the scent of their activities.
Just before he drifted into sleep, Jonathan felt a kiss placed into his damp hair, a gesture of affection that had nothing at all to do with sex. He thought perhaps he heard some words too, but so quietly spoken that he couldn't make them out.
Jonathan's flight back was at three thirty the following afternoon. They spent the morning at the theatre, arriving late but to no one's surprise; they'd had a very late night getting drunk in the lively city. The rehearsal went perfectly, or at least, what Jonathan saw of it. Saying goodbye was going to be awkward, he knew. Saying good morning certainly had been. And so as Adam sealed Gayle into the 'Queen of Hearts' cabinet, Jonathan left a note in his employer's dressing room and left the theatre, walking back to the hotel to grab his bag and call a taxi.
By the time Adam found the
scrawled note, Jonathan was in the air,
28,000 feet up, his mind set defiantly on the puzzle
that awaited him
back in London.
'Remember, the switches go to the left, not to the right. That way, it won't go off in your hand. See you in a week. Love ya, J'
Standing at the top of Bode Manor's magnificent staircase, Jonathan pointed out the small but powerful speakers set almost invisibly into the corners at the base of the walls. Two of the hotel's owners, and five of its staff watched in relief as he went on to explain how surround sound can be used to give the impression that someone was moving across the landing.
One person watched in anger as his life's work was reduced to simple electronic trickery by some young smart-arse who had nothing to do with anything.
"...it was fairly easy to believe that in a place like this, guests are more susceptible to ghost stories. Most people want to believe that there's more to this existence than just the one life we know. Shadows can be cast be simply swinging a light shade. Late at night, in a house that's already surrounded by stories of hauntings, put some vague shadows together with a very convincing sound effect, and a lot of people will see what their imaginations tell them they're seeing. We want to believe in magic and we want to believe in ghosts. Even if there's no such thing as either." He stood, dusting his hands off on his trousers. "And if it's just sound effects, then someone is doing it on purpose. Someone with a reason to want to cause the hotel to lose customers. Someone with a grudge against the hotel owners perhaps?"
Hugo Bennett took a small side step, reaching into his jacket pocket and wrapping his fingers around the cold hard object he kept there.
"The usual reason for professional grudges is dismissal, when the employee believes he or she was innocent. And a rummage through the company's records came up with only one possible candidate - someone who'd already been sacked from one hotel, who cooked up a new identity and a new CV and managed to get re-employed at this hotel, for the sole reason of getting his own back."
Maddy handed Jonathan two folded pieces of A4, which he opened.
"Two years ago, a cook who'd worked at the Sherston Hotel in Sandy for six years was sacked for allegedly spitting in the soup of a guest he detested. Two months ago, a new valet was taken on here." Jonathan held up two photocopied pictures, taken at different times, and obviously a couple of years apart, but very clearly of the same person.
Within the space of a second, Jonathan was grabbed from behind; a strong arm wrapping around his neck, tightening until he could barely draw a breath. And Hugo Bennett held a knife to his throat.
* * *
One Week Later
"Hi, guys." Adam greeted the
stage crew that was already putting the
equipment they'd taken on tour back into place.
Amsterdam, Madrid and
had all been wonderful, the shows running with technical
no city had been as incredible as Reykjavik. None held
quite the same
"I wish you'd sit down,
you're supposed to be taking it easy." Maddy
crossed her arms, giving Jonathan one of her 'hard
The first afternoon in the hospital had been a nightmare. Jonathan had lost an awful lot of blood. He'd lain in a small cubicle in the A&E department of the Guildford Royal Infirmary, deathly pale, an on-going transfusion of fresh blood being drained into him. The doctor tried to reassure Maddy that her friend was in no danger of losing his life; he was strong and healthy. But she fretted anyway, drinking more coffee in two hours than she usually would in a week.
She'd eventually called
Barry - her publisher - and he'd driven down
from London to be with her. And they'd waited. Twelve
hours after being
rushed into the hospital, Jonathan was eventually found
a bed and was
moved into a ward. The painkillers they'd given him made
him woozy, and
it was several hours after that when he woke, stable
enough that the
doctors finally allowed the police to speak to him.
"Go back to your writing,"
Jonathan told her patiently. "I'll bring
your tea up."
Jonathan was just pouring the tea when there was a fairly desperate knock at the door. He heard Maddy call down from upstairs, but he shouted back that he was okay.
Upon opening the door, Jonathan set his eyes on Adam, standing there, shifting from foot to foot. When Adam saw Jonathan, he breathed a deep sigh of relief before stepping forward to gather his consultant into his arms.
Jonathan winced as the skin
around his healing wound was stretched,
but he went smiling into the embrace, folding his right
them but managing to wrap his left around Adam's waist.
Maddy stopped on the third step from the top, watching the touching reunion for a few moments before silently turning and leaving them alone for a few minutes.
"Tim told me...."
Sitting at the kitchen table
was a huge blue and white cuddly rabbit
with long floppy ears. Jonathan smiled when he saw Adam
the guys at the theatre. Mike brought it over to the
hospital." He shut
up, watching Adam's face as glistening green eyes moved
to stare at the
dressing around the front of his throat.
He picked up a teaspoon, but
didn't get much further. Adam's hand on
his arm made him pause and look up. This time when Adam
him, he put
both his arms around his friend, wrapping them around
Adam's waist as
turn he was held.
What Maddy saw then, when she padded quietly down into the kitchen, could have been two close friends reassuring one another after a scare. She was touched. For a long time she hadn't been sure that Adam cared about Jonathan at all, but recently she'd been witness to a few simple displays of affection that had forced her to change her opinion of the American. Mind you, they had been through their fair share of crisis lately.
Stepping away, smiling
self-consciously, Jonathan spooned some
into a mug and boiled the kettle for the third time. It
took a few
to reheat, and he finally managed to finish making the
tea. As he
the mug of coffee to Adam, he purposely brushed his
fingers over those
the other. "How was the rest of the tour?"
The three of them took the
remaining seats at the kitchen table.
Adam looked sceptically again at the rabbit that
occupied the fourth
chair. "The guys
at the theatre really bought you this?"
"Sorry I almost got your
consultant killed," Maddy volunteered into
the growing silence.
Much later that night, with
Maddy fast asleep in Jonathan's bed,
Jonathan and Adam watched the stars from the balcony of
For a time they just stood
together, Jonathan's hands drifting to
rest on Adam's arms where they circled him. He finally
peaceful silence, "Thank you for Reykjavik."
Adam closed his eyes, resisting the urge to declare his feelings, still so unsure whether he could trust them. How many times had he told Jonathan, 'This one's the real thing, I can feel it, her smile lights up my life.'? How many times had he been wrong? Why hadn't he mentioned the young woman who had been his volunteer for 'Psycho' in Lyon? Or the two girls who had recognized him on the street in Madrid last Wednesday afternoon? Did he expect Jonathan to be jealous? How would he feel if he were to leave now, knowing that Jonathan would go up and climb into bed with Maddy? What did he want out of this?
The resulting long silence
amused Jonathan. "You couldn't really
of us experts at this relationship thing, could you?" He
arms, leaning back against the metal railing, smiling.
good together whatever we've tried. We've just added
something to our
Out in front of the
windmill, they stood beside Adam's little-used
BMW, Jonathan with his hands in his pockets, Adam
playing with his car
As the American's arms wrapped around him, Jonathan pressed himself into the hard body, his own arms going around Adam's neck as his mouth welcomed the probing tongue. He moaned into the kiss, aware of his body reacting to the intimate touch and of Adam's reaction pressing against his own.
Both were too wrapped up in each other to notice their audience on the balcony above. She'd had her suspicions, of course, but having them confirmed in so definite a way.... Her own, involuntary reaction surprised her. It wasn't a sight she was going to forget in a hurry.
With hellish difficulty
Jonathan ended the kiss, breathing hard
against Adam's neck. He stayed there, held tightly,
more at that moment than to spend the night in Adam's
arms. When he did
step back, he steadied himself against the top of the
car door. "Go."
Adam nodded, but still he hesitated. Jonathan read the
look in his eyes
and understood perfectly. "I want you to stay too."
Arms wrapped around himself, Jonathan stood and watched until the rear lights of the car vanished from sight. He sighed, eyes dropping to stare at the ground for a while, buried in his thoughts, until something made him look up and back. There was no one on the balcony, but he felt sure that there had been.
Finally, he stepped back inside the windmill and closed the front door. As he headed for the stairs he saw the white envelope sitting on the kitchen table, and a long stemmed red rose lying horizontally over it. Frowning, he switched on the kitchen light and lifted the flower, holding it carefully, wondering where the hell it had come from. Finally, he picked up the envelope and opened it.'Amazing, isn't it? Maybe you'll make a true conjurer of me yet. By the way, you were wrong, it goes off in my hand every time I think about you. Love ya, A.'