The Thrill of Magic by Kate Pavelle

January 26, 2015

Title: The Thrill of Magic

Author: Kate Pavelle

Pairing: Wyatt and Jack from Zipper Fall

Prompt:   celebration

Jack turned on the dishwasher, rinsed and dried his hands, and glanced toward Wyatt’s bedroom. Wyatt had never formally moved in with Jack, and Wyatt still had his old, cheap apartment, but he’d never made the commitment to living together, for better or worse. Moreover, Wyatt had been spending more time in his bedroom—one that Jack had set up and decorated just for him only half a year ago—almost every day.

The door was closed.

Damn.

Jack poured himself a bourbon on the rocks and crossed into the living room, where he slid behind his computer. The seat hugged him in its perfect, ergonomic way. The screen woke up, the unfinished spreadsheet opened.

Fuck!

He bit his lip and reached for the crystal tumbler. The ice chinked through its thin walls and the coolness of ice felt soothing and familiar as Jack tried to fight down a swell of panic. He sipped, feeling the sweet and woody notes, the smoke and the tannin and the sharp sting of alcohol on his cheek. The scent of adventure.

Adventure!

That was the problem. Adventure. Wyatt, the love of his life, was an incorrigible adrenaline junkie. Just the way they’d met, Wyatt rapelling into Jack’s bedroom, with burglary in mind, showed a lot about the sort of adventure that scratched Wyatt’s itch. It’s been about six months since Wyatt had done something like that, and the need within him must have been immense. Spring was in the air, newly awakened blood must have been coursing in his veins, and all those unattended houses, just waiting to be infiltrated….

Jack took a swig and broke into a bout of cough.

Dammit.

Wyatt’s restlessness had been getting worse and worse until right after Valentine’s Day when he had begun to regain a sense of inner calm. Jack had thought Wyatt had been blown away by their weekend getaway, but even though that might have helped, Jack knew that wasn’t it. His mind drifted to the ways in which Wyatt could get a fix. None of them were safe. All of them threatened the unity and the comfortable home they had both worked so hard to build.

His eyes began to water from having been glued to the screen for so long, and Jack realized he hadn’t done a smidgeon of work. He had been sitting there, staring at his spreadsheet, drinking bourbon.

Unhealthy. No shit, Sherlock.

He was tempted to burst into Wyatt’s room and demand explanations. He wanted Wyatt to account for his time alone. Wyatt’s room had a fire escape. Suppose he’d been sneaking out, going on a prowl, committing a quick home invasion here and an adventurous lock-picking there just to keep sane? He knew such action would have destroyed any trust they had built between them. The soft, comfortable nights with Wyatt’s head on his arm. Wyatt’s unruly hair in his face, making him sneeze. Wyatt’s passion, and the trust in his eyes as Jack took him and loved him and possessed him until the air got thin, the world receded, leaving just the two of them.

For that, Jack would keep controlling his temper. For that, he’d stay his hand and not intrude upon Wyatt’s privacy. He walked to the kitchen and reached for the bourbon.

Unhealthy.

Water. What he needed was water, and water he got.

 

Wyatt’s door opened, and Wyatt stepped out wearing jeans, a dress shirt, and a blazer over it. The look he gave Jack was cagey, as though he was hiding something. A shiver passed through Jack. So Wyatt had been hiding something—something that had scratched that wild, adrenaline itch of his. He considered Wyatt’s flushed face and wide eyes.

Drugs?

He couldn’t imagine Wyatt on drugs. That would be even worse than burglary, or risky rock-climbing stunts on the downtown office buildings.

“Would you like to go out?” Wyatt’s voice had a determined edge to it. “You look stressed. I think we need to get out of here for a little while.”

“I already had a  bourbon.” If Jack disclosed he’d had a drink, his coping mechanism wasn’t a problem. Or was it?

“There’s always ice cream,” Wyatt said. “Although I wanted to hit the South Side. Just walk around, y’know… take in the sights of crowds of rowdy party-goers.”

“Vicarious thrills?” The words were out of Jack’s mouth before he knew it.

“Maybe, maybe not. You comin’?” Wyatt’s eyes softened. He wanted Jack’s company. A sudden curiosity flamed within Jack. Wyatt was up to something.

“Sure. Gimme a minute to change.”

 

East Carson Street was the wild, bar-hopping part of Pittsburgh where bad things happened. One of the crowds of college kids roving the street spilling out of a beer bar and made a right toward Margaritaville. Careless and loose with drink, the guys joshed and elbowed one another while the ladies hustled to keep up in their high heels.

“Check this out,” Wyatt said, leaning in close so only Jack could hear. “Hey, girls, you lost something!”

As they turned around, Wyatt bent to the sidewalk. When he straightened, he had a five-dollar bill in his hand.

The three girls stopped. One called out to the guys, and the guys stopped to wait.

“Here,” Wyatt said and handed the bill out to them. Jack looked on. He didn’t quite know what was going on. Did someone really drop some money? They were right under a streetlamp, and Jack figured he’d have noticed.

“Not mine,” a short blonde said. The second girl shrugged and ran her hand through her hair in what seemed to be a habitual gesture. The third one, though, nodded. “Oh, thank you! How nice of you!”

Jack frowned. Something was off. A glint in her eye, a hint of a smile that tugged on Wyatt’s mouth. Wyatt offered the five dollar bill, and the girl reached for it, not looking down, smiling prettily into Wyatt’s face.

She screamed.

Jack looked down. Now everyone was looking at her hand, a hand with a writhing snake in it. She screamed again and shook her hand, trying to shake it off, but the snake wrapped its body around the warmth of her wrist.

One of her girlfriends took a few steps back while the guys guffawed with laughter, but the blonde stepped forward. “Don’t move,” she said in a level voice.

“Yeah, don’t move,” Wyatt said and moved forward.

He stepped back toward Jack again. Jack stood there dumbfounded. The girl had a five-dollar bill in her hand, all crumpled. The snake was gone.

“How did ya do that?” The blonde girl asked, giving Wyatt an accusing look.

“Do what?” Wyatt shrugged.

“Where’s the snake?” One of the guys was looking Wyatt up and down. “You better not be messing with them.”

“I can’t even return someone’s money anymore,” Wyatt said with a sigh. “Here, check my pockets. No snake!” He spread his arms out. The guy approached him as though on a dare, and Jack felt a pang of sudden sympathy. He knew this couldn’t end well. The guy gave Wyatt a polite, cursory patdown, apparently keeping his distance in case the snake made a reappearance.

“See, no problem,” Wyatt said in a soothing voice Jack knew all too well. He bit the inside of his cheek in an effort not to grin as he saw the guy step away.

“Shit,” the guy swore. “I figured… oh, whatever, man.”

“Yeah,” Wyatt nodded. He turned to Jack as though they were about to go, when he looked back at the group of college kids. “Oh, here. I almost forgot. I believe this is yours.”

Jack was amazed and appalled when Wyatt proferred an expensive-looking watch in the college kid’s direction.

“Shit, man!” The kid felt his wrist—empty—and grabbed the watch out of Wyatt’s hand. He then looked at his friends. Jack saw they were torn between outrage and laughter.

Wyatt cleared his throat. “Oh, before you go… you have something of mine in your pocket.”

The guy dove his hand in, only to pull it out and rip his jacket off. “Snakes! Shit, fuck, snakes!”

The blonde girl picked his jacket up, extracted the snake out of his pocket, and handed it over to Wyatt. “Be nicer to your friend,” she said in an amused voice. “I wouldn’t want to see him get stepped on!”

“Thanks.” Wyatt reached for the snake—and she ended up with that old, crumpled, five-dollar bill in her hand. Then he turned to Jack. Had it not been for the fine flush and slightly widened eyes, Jack would have assumed Wyatt was entirely calm and casual. He wasn’t, though. Wyatt was high as a kite, riding on a wave of adrenaline comparable to the ones he used to get from burgling a house, or free-climbing a rocky face.

Happy and exalted, Wyatt met Jack’s searching gaze with his playful one. “Can I treat you to a drink?”

Did you enjoy Kate Pavelle’s story? If so, check out the rest of her books and take 25% off at checkout with the code KatePavelleFlash2. Coupon code is good for one order per customer through February 22, 2015.

One Response to “The Thrill of Magic by Kate Pavelle”

  1. Shirley Ann Speakman says:

    Great story it was very exciting great magic.

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