Cordelia desperately needs a distraction after her latest audition.
- CONTENTS: C/A in AtS
- RATING: NC-17
- LENGTH: Novella / 20,000 words
- FICPIC CREDIT: Lysa
- STATUS: Completed
- WARNINGS: Explicit Sexual Content
Angel Investigations, Los Angeles, California
The phone was dead silent. Why wasn’t it ringing?
Cordelia stared at the desk phone willing it to respond. She planned to let it ring twice, maybe three times not wanting to sound desperate when the casting director gave her the news she expected to hear. “You’re perfect for the part, Miss Chase.” Obvious, much? Everyone liked her. She was certain of it. What wasn’t to like?
Besides, this part was practically made for her. Executive assistant to a hot billionaire with a dark past repenting for his sins by trying to save the world one troubled soul at a time. That was exactly her life—minus the billions, of course.
The pinch-faced woman with cropped silver hair had initially seemed preoccupied as Cordelia delivered the lines she had been given until suddenly someone stepped up behind her. Tall and decidedly male, his familiar sexy voice rumbled in her ear. “Where is the Dresden file?”
That line wasn’t in the script. Nor was there any expectation of running into the actor/director who was going to be her future co-star. David. Dave? Maybe she should start out with Mister. Even without turning around, Cordelia knew it was him. The fangirl in her squeed. All of that hotness was standing close enough to touch. Staying in character was practically torture.
Heart thumping in her ears, Cordelia felt his hands close over her upper arms pulling her hard against his chest. The aggressive move was both a turn-on and annoying because it made her think about Angel. Not that he would ever touch her that way, so directly, literally man-handling her. Be rude and demanding about wanting something while he focused on a case or whatever tragedy had put him into a broody, self-absorbed mood? That was so him. Worse, he always kept whatever was really bothering him on lockdown as if sharing his innermost thoughts might be too personal.
Just yesterday he had been growly over nothing. Absolutely nothing! Okay, so she had come in later than usual. There was a sale at one of her favorite stores. It was vital to get in early before the good stuff was snapped up. She needed to make a good impression at this audition today by dressing for the part.
Her cheerful smile had been greeted with a hostile glare. “What the hell, Cordelia? You’ve lost the Quartermain file. It was supposed to be on my desk today.”
Since when did Angel make follow-up calls to former clients? This one had been the teary-eyed and vulnerable, yet deviously flirtatious type. “Maybe it’s still on my desk.” Honestly, Cordelia had enjoyed tallying the sizeable bill for the case just because of the way Angel seemed to eat up the praise Miss Clinging Vine cooed so frequently. Worse, he hadn’t let it go. Even after the woman’s departure, he teased Cordelia by reminding her that their attractive client thought he was brave, handsome, and heroic. Normally, so did she. Not when he was being a dick about it. Nope, definitely not, and she had let him know it, too.
“How could I tell?” Angel countered swiftly sweeping his arm out in the direction of her messy desktop.
Normally, her desk was a sort of organized chaos. Now it looked even worse. She usually knew where to find everything. There was a perfectly reasonable excuse this time having to do with needing to focus on her upcoming audition for this awesome TV pilot. Not remotely feeling the need to defend herself, Cordelia simply gave him the courtesy of the truth. “I’m in the middle of stuff. Billing our paying clients, filing, shopping, research. Important stuff.”
Current research focused mainly on her fashion magazines, but that was legit and necessary for her audition. A totally productive use of her time, which was why her shopping trip had only taken a few hours instead of all day. He should be grateful that she showed up at all.
The logic failed to disperse his rotten mood. Confrontationally, Angel stepped closer forcing her to crane her neck up to meet his gaze edging into her personal bubble. The naturally predatory move always frayed her nerves when they were arguing. Having him that close was too much of a distraction. He could sometimes say so much without saying a damn thing, especially if it preceded a tender demonstration of the growing affection between them. This was not one of those moments designed to comfort.
Patience thinning quickly, Angel crowded so close the scent of his cologne teased her into taking a deeper breath. He even smelled fantastic today. Whatever clean manly vampire thing he had going on that made it easy to curl up next to him on the couch on occasion teased her senses. Normally, he stuck to soap avoiding fragrances that might overwhelm his super-powered sense of smell, but today seemed to be an exception.
Sidetracked and suddenly curious, she murmured, “You smell delicious today,” because she had no filter that held back her thoughts. There had to be a reason. “What are you up to?” The question hung between them long enough that it was clear Angel wasn’t going to respond. She wasn’t wrong. His stubborn silence told her that much. Her boss’ personal life would not normally be any of her business—if he actually had a personal life extending beyond his star-crossed feelings for Buffy and a ridiculous affinity for blondes.
Whatever! Angel clearly did not want to share his reasons for the extra personal touch today. Fine. It had just caught her by surprise, anyway. The kind that made her want to snuggle close as he held her in those strong arms. Oh, so wrong just to think about that. Definitely a bad idea. Not that her growly boss was offering himself up for free hugs. Maybe for other blonder, clingier people, but certainly not her.
A dangerous edge sounded in the way he returned her focus to his needs. “The file, Cordelia.”
Maybe all he wanted was a manilla folder, but it didn’t feel that way. He looked hungry and not for anything that might be congealing in the refrigerator. Argumentative, demanding, and only inches away it was all she could do to stop herself from physically pushing back. Not that her strongest shove could move him even if she tried.
No way was she going to search for that missing file! If he wanted that vapid woman’s phone number Angel was going to have to find it on his own. “Try looking for it under ‘B’—for blonde bimbo.”
Calling up yesterday’s emotional trauma, Cordelia had delivered her response to David’s query with a passion that caught the attention of the crew. Reading lines from a page did nothing to spark their interest, but her fiery impromptu left them riveted. Could be that she had unresolved issues with Angel’s bad attitude, or just maybe the way he let that woman flirt with him in front of her. Things she didn’t say because she had stormed out of the office suddenly poured out of her.
It was awesome! If only it had been Angel instead of David who stood gawping at the firebrand that suddenly gave him hell. When she paused to draw a breath, it occurred to her that the two of them had the same gorgeous good looks, height and builds. No wonder she had let loose. Similarities ended starkly at their physical characteristics. Unlike Bossy McBroodsalot, David actually had nice things to say. He smiled in a totally genuine way complimenting her gutsy response to his surprise appearance. Apparently her little rant was a refreshing take on their usual auditions.
Everything he said seemed like a great sign that the phone was going to ring any moment. The casting director had remained tight-lipped about making any promises, but she did inform Cordelia that callbacks might be necessary for any candidate under serious consideration for the role. That had been a hint. Wink, wink, minus the actual winking. Definitely not a negative response.
So why wasn’t her freaking phone ringing yet?
There had to be an explanation. A power outage at the telephone company, maybe. Cordelia snagged the phone off the hook and put the receiver to her ear. The dial tone buzzed loudly. Okay, so it was still working. Scrap that excuse.
Dragging her eyes away from the irritatingly uncooperative phone, Cordelia tried to focus on her work. Technically, this was her day off. She had arranged that with Angel the moment she discovered the time and place for the auditions. He hadn’t even argued about her making up for it. They kept long, odd hours, so it wasn’t unusual for her to leave early if there was nothing going on. Coming in late when he expected her to be there to find a file for him—that sent him into a broody tailspin.
What was he going to do when she got this part? Hire somebody else, of course. Cordelia let out an amused snort. “Try finding anyone to put up with all of the crap I do, not to mention the demons and damsels in distress.”
Muttering to herself, she organized and reorganized the top of her desk. A stack of magazines was already layered neatly on one corner, but she had given up on trying to do more than flip blindly through the pages. Too anxious and fidgety to answer Cosmo’s latest quiz that posed the question, “Is He Obsessive About Your Sexy Lingerie?” She read the title aloud and let her eyes roll. Imagining herself draped across her desk wearing only her lacy undergarments did not result in the sexy distraction she was hoping would take her mind off waiting. Having no boyfriend at the moment there was no one she could picture being obsessed about her choice of a silk thong or cotton granny panties. “Mister Oblivious probably wouldn’t even notice. Wes would at least offer me a blanket so I wouldn’t catch a chill.”
Pathetic! This was not the day to grumble about her serious lack of a love life. That was going to change right along with everything else. When fame and fortune came her way—as soon as that phone started ringing—she could have her pick of drool-worthy men. Not that she would abandon her guys completely once stardom occupied her time. No, she would totally find them an assistant to take over the grunt work that Angel took for granted, while she focused on the important stuff. The visions would still be her part of the mission, but so was Angel who still struggled to believe that he could make a difference.
Jumping out of her chair sent it rolling back as she began to pace around the desk. “It’ll work out. I’ve got this.”
Three feet away the phone jangled loudly. Oh. My. God! This was it. Finally! Everything she ever wanted was on the other end of the line. A callback that would cement her position as David’s sexy, indispensable, but totally appreciated Girl Friday. Assuming the role wasn’t already in the bag.
Frozen in place, Cordelia simply stared at the phone. On the third ring, Angel’s voice sounded behind her. “Answering the phone is definitely in your job description, which you should know since you wrote it.”
Was he still pissed about yesterday? Right back atcha, bucko!
Acknowledging his presence with no more than a gasp, Cordelia launched herself toward the telephone. Reaching across the desk to grab it, she lifted the receiver to her ear. The whole Angel Investigations spiel that usually tripped off her tongue so invitingly suddenly vanished. Grasping for words, she struggled to remember her name, and how she had planned to sound sophisticated and profession when the call finally came.
Instead, “Cordelia Chase,” tumbled out only after a long pause where the caller was treated to some heavy nervous breathing. If she hadn’t said her name it was a good bet the caller would think they had reached a 900 number offering sexy services.
The male voice on the other end of the line was muffled, but carried a distinct British accent. It was Wesley. Normally he would already be at his desk neck deep in the translation of a dusty old scroll. “Dud ah caw you ah hum?”
What was he saying? Translating the question, Cordelia told him he had not called her at home. She realized he was talking to her through a stuffy nose. “You’re sick. You sound terrible and a little delirious.”
After clearing his rattling throat, Wesley explained, “Ah hab da fwew.”
The flu? “Eew!” That could be serious. A little flash of concern hit. “Did you see a doctor? What did he say?”
“Budwest. Dats ub feweds.”
Okay, then. Not an emergency that would require any face-to-face time. All Wes needed was bedrest and lots of fluids. That didn’t sound so bad after all. Nothing she would have to rush over to fix. Thoughts racing, Cordelia realized her conversation with Wesley was already getting dangerously long. What if someone else tried to call? “You’ll be staying at home then?”
Confirming it, Wesley wasn’t finished. “Cor—,” he sniffled and sneezed through a request.
“No way! I am not going to bring your research over. The doctor told you to rest.”
Normally, she would offer to bring him some homemade (at the local deli) soup, but Wesley was going to have to stick to drinking lots of tea instead. The last thing she needed was a sick coworker sharing his icky flu bug. Imagine if she showed up for her new TV role looking gross, drippy-nosed, and disgustingly ill, hacking at her lines as if she might cough up a lung.
“Gotta go, Wes. Feel better. Bye.”
Hurrying off the phone, Cordelia waited a few seconds expecting something to happen. The phone remained stubbornly silent. “Ring, damn you.”
When she didn’t immediately volunteer the information, Angel walked up beside her. “What’s going on with Wesley?”
Cordelia stared up at him blankly having already filed the conversation away as not being her priority concern. “He’s got the flu. Don’t expect him to show up for a day or two.”
“Are you going over to his place?” Angel assumed she would do the usual thing and go take care of their friend.
Geez, Angel was positively chatty today. She didn’t need to be reminded that taking care of her guys was usually more important to her than sticking to the phone like superglue. “Wes is a big boy. All he needs is some rest.”
Impatience rattled her response causing Angel’s brow to raise high at her snippy tone. Subject closed. He got that fast enough, but apparently her vampire boss was not finished pushing her buttons just yet. “Looks like you paid attention yesterday. Your desk is spotless.”
That again? He was so picking a fight she was not going to let him win. If he wanted his ass handed to him on a platter, she would do it. “Do I critique your demon-fighting skills? Just leave the office to me.” He had better not try the whole boss versus employee argument again. They were associates, a team, even if he technically had to sign off on her pay checks.
No longer casually propped on the edge of her desk, he was facing her now. Looming close so that his already broad shoulders seemed a mile wide. Cordelia figured she should be immune to it by now. His gorgeous face and body should have no effect whatsoever. None. Reminders about why it was necessary to ignore the way he sometimes made her catch her breath, set off a flurry of uncontrollable butterflies, or aroused more than just her ire were on frequent replay in her head.
That’s just the way it was between them and Cordelia wasn’t going to let frustration interfere with their friendship, even if he was a jerk sometimes. He had no real interest in her that way, not that he could even if he did. So freaking unfair! Angel had done nothing more than lean in close and she flushed hot, an ache building up between her thighs. True, she enjoyed a good fight, but arguing with Angel wasn’t the only turn-on. Sometimes, it seemed certain that he knew it.
“I’m not oblivious, Cordelia.” Her eyes flashed wide then narrowed quickly as she wondered if he had been keeping mind reading skills under wraps. “You do far more around here than just make coffee.”
What did coffee have to do with anything? Caffeine was the last thing she needed right now. Wait! Make coffee. Had she done that today? Giving the coffee maker a little side-eyed glance she noticed brown liquid in the pot. It didn’t look very sludgy. Phew! Yes. Today’s first batch. Mission accomplished. One of the automatic tasks she had tackled when trying to keep her mind off the impending phone call from the casting director or her assistant. Definitely still fresh.
“Duh! The PTB have me on speed dial.”
Angel shifted his weight from one foot to the other managing to push another inch or two into her personal space. Silence pressed heavily between them as Cordelia waited for him to say more. He had something on his mind. Getting him to spit it out might take more patience than she had at the moment.
Suspicious again, she asked, “Are you trying to suck up to me for some reason?”
The placid poker face vanished. Angel looked taken aback as though she had caught him red-handed. “No! Why would I need to do that?”
Obvious, much? Crossing her arms caused her skin to brush against his shirtfront. “Because you were being a jerk yesterday.”
He looked surprised that it was still an issue, as if he had forgotten about their spat and moved on to something new. The reminder made him press his lips into a firm line. Anything he had to say on her opinion of his behavior stayed close to his chest, although it was easy to see that it bothered him.
When Angel said nothing, she tried to pry it out. “You’re mad because I left.”
Those hurt puppy dog eyes turned intense again. His stare made her feel a little jittery with the need to reach out to touch him. Drawn by the fire blazing there like a moth fluttering around an open flame, the dangers of getting singed were too irresistible. The black shirt felt incredibly soft draped across the hard contours of Angel’s chest as Cordelia’s hand settled over his heart. Maybe it wasn’t such a useless object as she had ranted during her audition. He did care for her in his own manner sometimes being a little overprotective in the way he watched out for her.
Hardly believing it, Cordelia realized Angel had jumped to a crazy conclusion. “Did you think I wasn’t coming back?”
Cordelia waited for an answer, but the quick denial she expected did not spring to his lips. Not that Angel was the quippy type when it came to comebacks, especially when he felt strongly about the subject as if his thoughts and emotions tangled up his tongue. A gruff admission of “Maybe,” came after she was finally forced to break away from that stormy gaze long enough to blink.
Realizing that Angel had probably brooded over the idea all night actually ticked her off. “You thought I would just walk away? I can’t, dumbass. I’m Vision Girl.”
His hand covered hers holding her there when she tried to pull away. “Even without the visions I couldn’t do this without you.”
The sincerity of his words slammed into her. No matter how true that might be when it came to Angel Investigations, the way he spoke made it all too easy to read more into it than was there. Before any further comment could burst the little bubble of warmth filling her up, Cordelia gave him some advice, “Remember that the next time you want something. Ask me nicely. I might give it to you.”
That came out sounding a lot more flirty than friendly. Cordelia blamed it on the way he stood so close. Offering up something personal wasn’t in the cards. Not what she meant. So why did her curiosity suddenly burn hot with the need to know if his thoughts had taken a turn along a similar path? Capturing her bottom lip between her teeth, she nipped sharply trying to avoid lingering on the rush of sexy images forming with Technicolor clarity.
A subtle tilt to the corner of his mouth hinted at something. “I’ll keep that in mind.” It was more of a tease than a promise. Angel traced his fingertips across her jawline gently tilting her chin up just a fraction more while making a study of her face. The heightened color of her cheeks, swell of her lips, and the inappropriate twist he had given her words made his gaze linger a little longer than usual, as if he wanted to ask for something right now. Maybe he would just skip asking nicely and taste the sweet temptation of her mouth before she had a chance to stop him.
Angel dropped his hand to his side, let hers go, and was about to step back when the phone rang right next to them jarring them both. “If that’s for me I’ll take it in my office.” He turned that way and escaped, but not before Cordelia could see desire flare in his eyes.
Cordelia’s hand shook as she reached for the phone. Had Angel actually been thinking about kissing her, or was that just her wild imagination? It wouldn’t be the first time she had thought about it. More like the hundredth, but who was counting? Most of the time hot, sexy dreams were to blame. She couldn’t control those, and he was just the most convenient face to take part in what had to be built up frustration-induced bedtime adventures. It could just as easily have been Wesley or Phantom Dennis, right?
She was definitely not supposed to fantasize about Angel when he was standing right in front of her. Although she knew that he had no mind-reading abilities there were other advantages a 250-year old vampire had on his side. Totally unfair! If only she could figure out what was going on in his head. Unless, of course, she would discover that he didn’t care about the reasons her heart thumped a little faster when he was near. Rejection would be far worse than never finding out if he had ever let his mind wander to a time and place where hot, sweaty go-all-night sex was the norm between them.
This time she managed a partly coherent, “Angel Investigations, Cordelia Chase speaking.” It was only after the automatic introduction that she remembered the important phone call she was expecting. Minutes had gone by without a thought of her shiny new career path. Drooling over Angel apparently served as a mind-bending distraction.
“Miss Chase? Hello? Is anyone there?”
Once again, it was not the call she wanted.
It was the manager of a specialty shop wanting to speak to Wesley about a newly acquired something or other. Excitement caused the man to drone on and on. All Cordelia heard was, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,” as she tried to find an opening. Finally, she managed a quick explanation that Wes was unavailable, but Angel could make an offer on the thingamabob, or whatever. Let him handle the details. She had other issues to think about.
After ten minutes, Angel was still on the phone. What was taking so long? They so needed an updated phone system with multiple phone lines and a voice mail messaging system. Not that they could afford one right now. What if someone from the studio was trying to get through to her right now and couldn’t? She should have told the man that Wesley would call him back in a couple of days.
Unable to sit still at her desk, she got up again, and started pacing around the front office. First one way, pausing to fiddle with a plant turning it around to catch the light filtering through the blinds, and then back the other way again. Straightening the sign hanging on the office door just a little this way, and a little that way, then over to another corner. The clack of her heels was a constant sound on the wood flooring. Pacing, pausing, pacing some more until she turned around to find Angel leaning casually against the doorframe to his office watching her with a quizzical stare.
“How long have you been standing there?” Somehow she had missed him ending the call.
No verbal answer came, just the subtle tilt to the corner of his mouth. His version of laughing his ass off because she amused him.
“That long, huh?”
Angel admitted nothing as his eyes roved across her frame lingering here and there before he said lowly, “You look—,” Cordelia startled at the idea that he was about to compliment her on her carefully chosen wardrobe, “—different today.”
How typical! Was there ever a time Angel knew how to deliver a compliment? Just because it was obvious didn’t mean that flattery was unwelcome. Back in the day he probably never had the need to say anything. Women just swooned into his arms. Pfft! Desperate, much? Angelus definitely had no trouble letting her know that he found her to be a tempting morsel worthy of his attention, not to mention a few depraved and eventually deadly games. That moment had not exactly made her feel special. These days Angel was far too broody to notice the finer things in life—like her to-die-for cherry red blouse.
Hands on her hips, Cordelia parroted back, “Different?” There were so many other descriptions to choose. True, the designer clothes had cost her dearly having pawned the last of the jewelry given to her by her parents, a Swarovski crystal bracelet. Looking like she could step into the role of David’s sexy executive assistant obviously helped, so it was worth it. Besides, she could buy her bracelet back, along with everything she wanted when they offered her the job.
Something about the way Angel stared made Cordelia draw in a shaky breath and hold it for a moment as she gazed back at him. Contemplative, still and silent as a shadow, she recognized what she termed ‘Early Brood Phase’ where he locked down his thoughts and feelings on any given subject before mentally tallying his past sins. Letting out a disgruntled sigh, Cordelia told Angel, “I do not have time to talk you off any ledges today. What’s the deal? It’s not like my outfit is inappropriate for the office.”
Looking a little trapped, Angel defended himself with a casual shrug. Daring to say again, “You just look different today. Is it wrong that I noticed?”
“That’s one step up for you, Mister Oblivious.” She smirked as he scowled at the unflattering moniker.
An almost undetectable growl accompanied his response. “I’m not.” He had already said as much a few minutes ago as if repetition was going to change her mind.
Normally, she would just end their conversation declaring herself the victor anytime she had Angel on the ropes. Getting growly was an obvious sign he was being defensive. Giving him a hint, she asked, “What’s different about today since you’re so on top of things?” Gawd, she loved pushing him out of his comfort zone. Making him talk definitely put him on edge, but that was usually when the truth came out. “It’s called having a conversation, Broody. Talk to me.”
Kudos to him that he tried. “Your hair looks. . .,” Angel started out at the top pausing only when the dreaded word that got him into trouble in the first place nearly popped out, “nice that way. You don’t wear it up very often.”
Nice, he’d said. Marginally better than different. Still, the effort she had put into styling her hair that morning was worth a little more attention. Cordelia brushed her fingertips across a loose strand curling against her throat wondering why he chose to talk about her hair instead of the designer clothes she had hand-picked for the occasion.
“Probably a good thing,” Angel commented more to himself than her in a rumbled complaint. “Your throat is very elegant when it’s on display.”
“Trust you to notice that,” Cordelia rolled her eyes. “Go on. It’s not a trick question. Why don’t I normally dress like this at the office?”
Angel folded his arms across his chest before avoiding her question. “You don’t normally fish for compliments, either.”
Gasping in outrage, she denied it. “I’m making a point. Don’t turn something simple into a state secret. If you see it…say it. Why can’t you just tell me what you’re thinking?”
“Because my thoughts are shadowed by the demon within me. It’s what I am, Cordelia. Maybe you won’t like what you hear.”
“That’s just a crappy excuse. You’re a vampire in need of a good shrink. I think I know that by now. Bottling it all up doesn’t make it go away.”
Angel’s head hung low as he refused to meet her gaze. “Letting that side of me anywhere near you is unacceptable. Sometimes it is better to say nothing.”
“I’m not afraid of you, Angel, or anything you have to say to me.”
Cordelia narrowed her gaze as she tried to work out just how they had gotten around to Angel protecting her from his darker urges when all she had wanted was for him to acknowledge that she looked especially gorgeous today. It wasn’t like she expected him to fess up that he liked the way the soft chiffon clung to her breasts. He was a guy. She’d read that much in his eyes the moment he looked at her.
“Relax before you break something. My appearance has nothing to do with you or your inner demon.” Making a slow twirl, she watched a smile tease at his lips meeting resistance as Angel attempted to remain unmoved. Explaining, “These gorgeous clothes are designed to get me into character. I told you about my plans last week.”
The smile vanished replaced by a firm line. Recalling, the gist of it, “You had that audition this morning,” Angel sounded less than pleased with the idea. He had always been supportive of her efforts to pursue an acting career claiming that he was glad she had normal interests. He said the same thing when she went out clubbing with friends, but always looked a little tortured by the idea of letting her leave without an armed escort.
Just the mention of the word ‘audition’ was enough to spark Cordelia’s excitement. Temporarily setting aside her little tiff with Angel, the story of her morning burst forth with dramatic flair as she described it all. Well, almost all, choosing to leave out the part where Angel’s bad attitude had inspired her impromptu tirade. “It went well. I was sooooo good.”
Explaining that the chances of a callback were promising drew his brow down low enough to shadow his eyes. “You’ve been wanting this to happen,” he said offering congratulations that were sincere, yet lacked a certain enthusiasm.
It was the first time trying out for a part in a TV pilot. Something that would require commitment over a hopefully long period of time. Not just her usual short-term gigs as an extra, or that non-speaking supporting role in a toothpaste commercial where she smiled quite brilliantly, or the local playhouse where she totally rocked her role. This would change everything, and that both scared and thrilled her.
“This waiting is driving me crazy.”
Despite the confidence in her performance, Cordelia was equally anxious. That much was clear to Angel as he pointed out, “You’re nervous, downright jumpy.”
“Truth is that the auditions could go on all day even if they do want me for the role. I might not hear back until later. What am I going to do until then?” she whined.
Angel’s hesitation suggested he didn’t want to bring up the subject. “There’s always work.” He nodded toward her sparklingly clean, well-organized desk.
“No, I tried that. I can’t focus.”
“Reorganizing the files is out of the question?”
Cordelia slapped at his shoulder. “Don’t start that again.” Lucky for him she was in too much of a tizzy to pick up where their argument left off yesterday.
Offering up another strategy, he suggested, “Cleaning?”
“Eew! I can’t go to a callback all hot and sweaty and smelling of cleaning products.”
Cordelia held up a hand to signal a definitive no before pacing away again. Finding it difficult to stay still, she begged him to come up with something to take her mind off the wait.
Silence wasn’t helping as he gathered up his thoughts. Already anxious, she awaited any idea that would make the time go by faster, but his words came out like a confession. “Most of my other ideas also involve getting hot and sweaty.”
Practically tripping over herself, Cordelia grabbed onto the edge of her desk for support. The image of them rolling across a bed skin to skin flashed into her head. Just a few words flipped the switch on her apparently dirty mind. Maybe it was a buzzer because something inside her was definitely buzzing at the notion.
“What kind of ideas?”
“I’ve been thinking,” he spoke softly dragging out the words as if he wasn’t entirely certain that it was a good idea to talk at all, “things are different here than they were in Sunnydale.” Facing him again, Cordelia noticed he looked a little anxious himself. Were these the kinds of thoughts she had encouraged him to share? “I’d like to . . .,” he paused long enough to let his gaze trail head to toe and back again. Starting over, “Los Angeles has its own dangers. Keeping you safe is important to me.”
Confused, Cordelia wondered what that had to do with the completely impossible sexy images playing out like a flip book from hot to hotter. It took a second to realize she was off base by a mile. “Safe is good.” That could apply to a lot of things, including certain curses that shouldn’t be forgotten.
“Training you with some defensive techniques is a good place to start.”
“That’s so not where I thought you were going with the getting hot and sweaty plan,” Cordelia confessed with a wry little laugh that smacked of disappointment.
Angel caught on quickly enough. His shoulders tightened up as he pulled himself away from the door no longer in a casual pose. Eyes darkening as they focused on hers pulling her in as if gravity held her in its grip drawing her inexorably closer. Within arm’s length again she did what she always did, reached out however briefly because the slightest touch steadied her nerves making everything between them real.
Although Angel’s idea was a good one, it was best left for another day. Ready to defend herself against further embarrassment if he teased her about misinterpreting his words, Cordelia was poised to strike back.
“Would you rather do something else?”
Loaded question. Cordelia knew how she wanted to answer it. If he only knew the direction of her thoughts Angel would probably remind her that friends did not do that sort of thing. Those same thoughts echoed in her own head despite the temptation dangling itself in front of her. Pointing out that she wasn’t exactly dressed for a workout, she told him she was desperate for a distraction of any kind. “Anything as long as it takes my mind off this audition.”
“God, yes, just do something!”
Angel was practically obligated to help, and she knew that he would. This was his thing after all, saving damsels in distress, even though the only demon nearby was the one neither of them could forget or escape, which was the reason this was possibly the worst idea ever. Even if she craved the soothing caress of his cool hand against her cheek, and the brief touch of his mouth against her forehead making her feel cherished as his closest friend. That usually made things better.
Maybe she looked like she needed it. A sigh signaled her surrender to Angel’s newest habit as he edged into her space, pulled her close, and leaned in. “Something like this?”
Cordelia’s eyelashes fluttered down, hands sliding around his waist as she awaited the now familiar tender kiss to her forehead. He felt solid, strong, and being close to him always gave her a sense of security, not just because Angel could protect her from the many dangers around them, but because it just felt right even when there were so many reasons it should be wrong. All she needed was for him to make the world stop spinning just for today, now, this moment.
Only that safe and secure feeling vanished the moment his mouth covered hers. The tenderest of kisses touched her lips, soft and cool, clinging gently as he pulled up just enough to let her catch her breath. Her eyes flashed open again, wide with shock, questioning his sanity, or her own for wanting him to do that again. It had happened so fast the kiss was over before she had time to enjoy it, although it left her lips tingling.
Bemused by her expression Angel nuzzled her cheek before placing another soft kiss across its curves. He circled the spot with his thumb, as if to remind her he’d been there while waiting for something other than a silent stare. Oh, there was definitely plenty to say, but Cordelia’s ability to form words momentarily vanished. This was tongue-tangling, spine-tingling stuff, after all. The world had just turned on its axis, all topsy-turvy. Certainly felt that way. All because of a couple barely there little smooches.
“Bad idea?” The question rumbled in her ear just before his lips teased a sensitive spot nearby.
Having spent the past few minutes trying to eke out anything that resembled an opinion on her appearance, Cordelia realized that she might have pushed one button too many.
When he lifted his head again to stare down into her eyes his were dark and hooded, worried more than anything, although something she had never seen from him before jolted her to her senses again. Kissing Angel was probably a very, very bad idea. She could feel the tension in his body as her hands opened up along his back tracing higher and pulling herself even closer despite knowing it was wrong to want more.
“Probably,” Cordelia answered tilting her mouth toward his in supplication.
That little move was enough to draw him impossibly close without actually kissing. He stared at her intensely contemplating his next move knowing that even though it might only be a means of distraction there was nothing simple or meaningless about it. Hovering close to her lips with his own made her ache for contact. More than just a whispery kiss this time, she wanted the pressure of his lips against her mouth, to feel something more than an offer of comfort mixed with curiosity.
Grousing at the delay, she muttered, “Stop thinking so much. Do it again before I change my mind.”
Angel cupped the back of her head, the loosened tendrils of her updo teasing his fingers as he gently drew her higher until she was stretching up for his kiss. Had she ever wanted anything more? The need to feel his lips on hers again made her frantic over the teasing pace. The look in his eyes was anything but casual. “There won’t be any apologies later, Cordelia.”
A little warning gong vibrated inside her. What equated to nothing more than a few silly closet kisses during a Seven Minutes in Heaven party game shouldn’t require forgiveness, or promise anything more than frivolous distraction. Yet there was nothing silly about the intensity of his direct gaze, or the slow burn kindling to life with every passing second. Another protest came to mind, needy and demanding, wanting it now, leaving her startled by the urgency to make it happen.
As crazy, dangerously stupid ideas went this had to be high on the list. Cordelia’s last second doubts ended as Angel claimed her mouth before she could speak of it stealing the words with a kiss that made her lose her train of thought altogether. He plucked at her lips softly, then firmly, capturing them in alternating kisses, making her greedy for more. Clutching at those broad shoulders, she planted one on him eager to discover if it would have the same sizzling effect. He let her take the lead for a few seconds, moaning at the dart of her tongue, and the passion she put into the kiss, before taking control again.
Something about Angel’s kisses tasted oddly intoxicating. Maybe it was just the way his mouth slid over hers creating the addictive need for more, or a previously undiscovered supernatural vampire attribute designed to make her head spin. It might just be him sensing just how she wanted to be kissed and touched. God, it wasn’t just his mouth driving her crazy. The things he did to her with his capable hands made her itch to do the same to him. Barely there caresses made her tingle. The simple sweep of his fingertips across the fabric of her blouse made her arch forward pressing her breasts into his chest.
Pulling away to let her catch a breath Angel looked ready to pounce again as she panted softly. Any opinions about what they were doing remain locked in his head, but Cordelia could tell that he didn’t want to stop any more than she did. He untangled his fingers from hers trailing them up to her face, rubbing his thumb across the soft curves of her mouth as if already missing its warmth. His dark eyes flicked up to hers echoing the desire winding her up into knots.
The gentle touch of his hand came again, this time as he reached up to the tortoise shell clip twisting her hair into a soft bun. The clip rattled carelessly across her desk drawing a sharp complaint from Cordelia as she watched it twirl to a halt. “Hey!”
Now was not the time for arguments. Not letting her get distracted, Angel put a different twist on her little complaint. “Hey,” he said softly making it sound like hello and pulling her attention back to where he wanted it.
Riled up, it took a second to swallow the lecture about being careful with her stuff. Cordelia felt the rhythmic stroke of his fingers through her tousled hair soothing her nerves. Truthfully, there were other, better things to do than argue. Maybe later. So she echoed back invitingly, “Hey.”
She felt his smile against her lips as he kissed her again. Silly, soft, schmoopy kisses followed keeping her mind off anything except how good it felt to be in Angel’s arms. How had she been wrong about him not having a sense of humor? He had a goofy romantic side buried beneath the layers of salty goodness. God, he was making her laugh. Tickling was so not part of the deal, especially when the touching caught her off guard by inflaming senses more than teasing her. Having a vampire nibble at her neck should not inflame her desires causing her to wantonly rub her body against his, enjoying the friction it caused, and his response.
Determined to discover if Angel had any sensitive spots, Cordelia gave just as good as she got. Kissing him was not only hot, it was full of revelations. Angel liked to be nibbled, too. Go figure! He moaned, growled, and laughed at her eager explorations. A kiss here, a little nip there, another kiss to take away the sting. It was exciting, mind-blowing, a wicked distraction, but ultimately just that. Not real, even if it felt that way, stirring up the need for more kisses, more of him, more than just this moment, more of everything. It didn’t feel like a game all of a sudden.
Tip-toeing higher, Cordelia clasped his shoulders tight. Her mouth sought his out desperately as if his lips were her salvation. Kissing him wildly as delirium took hold, she channeled her need to be closer into a sensual plea. Their lips crushed together in a feverish kiss neither one at the helm and carried by a stormy sea across the room bumping into furniture along their wayward route. Crashing to a halt at the filing cabinet, Cordelia banged sharply into the corner letting out a yelp before sliding over toward the smoother side.
Angel gave her just enough space to slide his gaze over her assuring himself that she remained unharmed. Before she could utter the words, “I’m fine,” he pulled her back into his arms sliding his hand possessively along her spine and tangling his fingers in the long waves of her hair. She surrendered to his kiss thrilling at the way he claimed her lips worshipping every curve and line with his own. His tongue demanded entry, sweeping in, a welcome invasion of her senses.
Clutching him closer, Cordelia arched into his touch. Those strong hands seemed to know her needs before she did spreading wildfire wherever they roamed and making her ache and tingle in places that remained untouched. Whispering into her ear, all he said was her name. “Cordy,” yet it left her trembling as it conveyed unspoken truths, raw desire, and possessive need. She wasn’t the only one craving more than just kisses.
Having yanked his shirttail free of his pants snaking her hands underneath needing to feel his skin against hers, Cordelia pressed her palms against him. She shivered, not because of the cool sensation of his skin against hers, but with shock upon realizing just how far she wanted to explore. If only this wasn’t just a game they were playing. That’s all this could be even if they both wanted to succumb to temporary madness.
What if she was wrong about the mutual desire? If Angel was just reliving one of a thousand seductions from back in the day, she would never live it down. There was a smug egomaniac beneath that handsome surface, and he wouldn’t hesitate to remind her how she melted with every kiss. He would probably expect her to forget all about this meaningless little distraction. Just like he would the next time Buffy or some other clingy blonde walked through the door.
The moment Cordelia jerked her hands away, Angel stopped plucking at the tiny buttons on her blouse having already undone two exposing a hint of the curves and lace beneath. Grabbing at the excuse, she demanded an explanation. “You’re undressing me?”
His penetrating gazed fixed hers as she felt the next button pop. “I want to see you.” Truth, raw and simple, and probably the sexiest thing anyone had ever said to her, made Cordelia throb at the thought of revealing her body to Angel layer by layer.
How was that for not hiding what he wanted say? Coming from Angel, who normally denied himself everything good humanity had to offer unless she forced him to enjoy it, the admission was stunning. Almost as mind-boggling the urge to risk everything to make it happen. Angel’s hand was at her waist, thumb strumming across the thin chiffon, driving her crazy with a need to ignore her doubts and thrust herself back into his arms.
Counseling herself to shut up and just kiss him, Cordelia ignored her own inner voice. Self preservation had always been one of her strengths. It took some effort to force the words out of her mouth. “That’s not such a good idea, Angel.”
A little growl of frustration sounded as he pointed out, “Seems like you had the same idea.” He flicked at the evidence of his untucked shirt.
With a shrug far more casual than she felt, “I like touching you,” she confessed to the obvious.
“Do you need me to tell you what it’s like to hold you in my arms?”
Heart pounding, Cordelia nodded. “Yes,” the word emerged almost soundlessly as he stole her breath away. It made everything real when he said it.
“Every day with you is a revelation.” Angel cupped her cheek leaning in to touch his forehead to hers, and then his lips. “Watching you as I do, I know there’s a world of difference between us. I fear that one day I’ll drag you down into darkness, that the pain of your visions will break you despite your resilience, or that I won’t be there to break your fall.”
No surprise that he brooded over her visions. Cordelia tried to say so, but Angel stopped her with a soft, tantalizing kiss that tasted of his fears and a promise of passion. He gathered her close again, and willingly she went into his arms because she needed to feel his strength even though he was the cause of her jitters. The doubts were her own.
“Being close to you is the best kind of torture.”
“You’re a vampire. That probably works for you. Just how is it that I torture you?”
“Oh, where to begin. . .,” Angel tucked his fingers under her chin and teased her with another little mooch that was over far too early. A pout formed as he made a start on his list. “The filing cabinet earns top honors. What is wrong with using the alphabet?”
“Do you store your weapons alphabetically? No, it’s the size, or the most important. I rest my case.”
“It’s confusing, exasperating—and yet so damned endearing. One minute I’m at the end of my rope because you frustrate the hell out of me, and the next wondering how I could ever do this without you.”
Cordelia tried not to laugh because this was really very serious, but the temptation to tease him was too powerful. “Maybe I could be the boss and you could handle the filing.“ She reeled it in by capturing her bottom lip between her teeth and biting down just hard enough to hold back most of the tittering. “Chase Investigations has a good ring to it. Got a better idea?”
Distracted, Angel couldn’t answer as he watched her teeth tug at the plump pink flesh. Then a gruff rasp sounded out in the form of her name. “Your mouth—I want to feel it under mine.” He gave her due warning, but nothing could prepare her for the deeply possessive kiss following.
One large hand cupped the back of her head an instant before the duel began. Cordelia tried to keep up as he crushed her lips to his bringing her to her tiptoes where he had the advantage of height and strength. Not that she wanted to escape him—quite the opposite. For all of a few seconds he swept deeply with his tongue tasting her, claiming her, devouring her in the most erotically indecent way and sending wild tremors along her nerves.
Quivering at the exquisite sensations he created she ached with the need to be touched. Not just with those tantalizing, teasing forays across the curved landscape of her body. As good as that felt, she wanted his hands on her, skin on skin. A little groping wouldn’t be an unwelcome thing coming from him, she mused, sensing that he could easily assuage the tension building up inside her.
Lingering, he rubbed his lips across the swell of hers before giving her a respite. One Cordelia welcomed reminding herself it was necessary to stop this madness. Feeling as if she was going to bliss out just from Angel’s kisses alone, she couldn’t imagine him being so detached that he had no concerns for himself. Did he not see how dangerous this could get, or was this some kind of sensual game to him that had no emotional connection beyond spiraling arousal?
Every little sensation tightened into a delicious throb. “Please, Angel—I want you too much. We should stop.”
The deterrent wasn’t the only thing she had conveyed with her plea. Although Angel let her go allowing her to take one shaky step out of his arms, he also heard the rest of it. Cordelia hadn’t intended to confess to her desires even if that was probably all too clear. She wanted far more than just a distraction, more than was safe, and that was just never going to happen because it couldn’t.
Frustration, a nasty comment about being led on, outright anger would be expected from any of her former boyfriends if Cordelia called a sudden halt to one of their make-out sessions. She was always in control of just how far it went, and calling a halt to the action never bothered her because passion had never driven her beyond reason. This felt different. Out of her control. As if she had no choice but to let this smoldering need for Angel consume her.
A rough admission followed, “I want you, too,” causing heat to bloom in the already tingling space between her thighs. The gaze fixed on hers was far from detached hiding nothing from her. Raw desire gleamed from the sinful stare that left her reeling.
Questions swirled in her head. Are you insane? How is this possible? Since when? What about Buffy? Did you sustain a head injury that I don’t know about? Considering the former crush—or maybe not as former as she thought—her desire to lock lips or fulfill a few fantasies with Angel did not come as much of a shock to her. The reverse left her dumbfounded. Sure, there were times Angel looked at her with raw male appreciation, not that he ever followed it up with a compliment. No, he was all poker-faced in the time it took her to blink often making her think she had imagined his interest in the first place.
Getting it together, Cordelia sucked in a deep breath. She let it out as a harsh sigh. “We can’t.”
Angel placed both hands on the metal filing cabinet on either side of her blocking her in while also giving himself something to hold onto besides her. More than a hint of frustration sounded as he asked, “Am I going too fast for you?” Slamming on the brakes was necessary even if she wanted his kisses to continue. He should get that without any reminders, but his query hinted this was just the start of something that couldn’t be stopped. Just as he had warned her earlier, no apology followed. “I can be very patient, Cordelia, when it’s worth my time.”
Equally sensual and domineering, Angel spoke as if continuing down this dangerous path was a foregone conclusion. She had never wanted anything quite so much as those words seemed to promise. Giving into it was not an option sparking her ire. “Deranged, much? You and me—that’s impossible, Angel, and you know it.”
He disagreed, not that he said so. There was certainly no detailed explanation of his actions, or a reason given for wanting more of something that could result in tragedy. Seemingly unfazed by her outrage, missing the point, focused only on the here and now, Angel redirected her to, “Answer the question. Too fast?”
“Like a runaway race car!”
Nostrils flaring, Angel irritably grunted, “Okay,” then snaked his tongue between his lips as if tasting their last kiss. “Slower, then, even if it kills me.” Keeping his hands to himself the last few months had been a challenge. This had been brewing for a while, he told her, that slow pace already taking a toll. “I won’t push you into anything if you’re not ready, Cordy, behave like a gentleman if that’s what you want.”
How about wanting that and everything else, too? She couldn’t have it, but maybe it was okay to have something. “Being good doesn’t mean you have to be a saint. I like your kisses.” A few stolen kisses now and then might work. Going back to a world of deprivation where there were no Angel kisses seemed completely depressing.
His mouth hovered above hers for a moment making hers ache for contact. “I want more than kisses, Cordelia. I want all of you, everything that is not already mine.”
Frustration got the better of her, stirring up a vindictive streak as he laid claim to her. ”Don’t you dare play that possessive vampire card with me, Angel, when you work so damn hard to hide that side of yourself.”
“Knowing me is dangerous enough. Encouraging me to be open with you is far too tempting. I can’t risk you getting hurt, but I have every intention of finishing what we’ve started.”
Cordelia’s cheeks flushed hot at the raw declaration. “It’s obvious I enjoy a little risky business. Kissing me was your stupid idea, y’know. Guess I lost my marbles by playing along. You could lose everything.”
Focusing on the one thing most important to him, Angel asked, “Our friendship? No matter what happens today, with your audition, between us, I won’t ever let that go. Even if the rest has to wait until you are ready.”
“You shouldn’t even be thinking about the rest,” Cordelia made angry finger quotes around the last two words. “What gets you off the most—torturing me or yourself with something you can never have?”
A confident, wicked little smile crooked at the corner of his mouth. “Never is a very long time. I don’t think we’ll have to endure it forever. Delaying self-gratification isn’t your strong suit.”
Cordelia’s eyes widened into crazed circles. Gasping, “You did not just say that.”
“Didn’t you ask for the truth? Whatever this is we’re going to explore it at whatever pace you need. You’re worth it.”
“I’m Cordelia Chase, of course I’m worth it!”
Now she was angry and the dumbass didn’t seem to have a clue why as he offered up a slow seduction instead of the whirlwind madness. Was Angel experiencing selective amnesia, or did he honestly believe that she was so desperate for attention that she would ignore the very real danger that he would lose his soul? She couldn’t believe that he’d be so casual about the risk.
Suffocated by his closeness, Cordelia pushed at his arm prompting Angel to stop crowding her against the file cabinet. He moved, albeit reluctantly allowing her to dart into his empty office where there was room to breathe. Holding her hands to her cheeks and finding them flaming hot from arousal and anger, Cordelia could not believe they had let this happen. “It was all fine when you were obsessed with someone else, or just my broody eunuch boss.”
Angel prowled forward, but stopped just inside the doorway, his shoulders taking up most of the space there as he crossed his arms over his chest. He remained silent, tight jawed, and physically aroused in a way he did not bother to hide, defying any further comments on the status of his manhood. That had just been her defense mechanism mentally categorizing him in a sexless state because despite wanting him to have something resembling a life, it had to be a monk’s life. Although Cordelia constantly reminded herself of that depressing fact, she would not have ever imagined that he would ever forget.
God, he looked sexy standing there with that predatory glaze darkening his stare. Cordelia had noticed his erection, thrilling at it without really registering that his desire equaled her own. Her gaze flitted in that direction noting the way the right leg of his pants stretched and tented in an obvious way. He must have enjoyed kissing her if that was the result, and she knew all too well that he could tell she was far from unmoved.
The nasty dig about self-gratification might not be wrong, but how could he consider moving forward with whatever insanity had struck today? All she had wanted was a little distraction. Angel chose to kiss her; stupidly, she let him. Harmless fun? Not. Meaningless? No way. Those kisses were possibly a gateway drug, powerful and addictive, causing her to want more of him now. Waiting? Pfft. She needed his touch everywhere, especially the places that still throbbed for the lack of it. The thought of doing the same to him made her breathe hard.
“What has you so distressed? All you need to do is trust me.” That was inherent with anything else between them, but he still seemed to be missing the freaking obvious point. “You want this as much as I do.”
What more did he need— a neon sign? “Get a clue, Angel. Hello, curse!”
Ding, ding! The lightbulb flashed on.
“Christ, Cordy, is that all this is about?” He raked his hand through his hair leaving it in a more of an unruly state than before. Looking oddly relieved, and sounding as if her concerns were way off base, Angel promised thickly, “You’ve got nothing to fear from my curse.”
Cutting her to the quick, his words were painful to hear justifying all of her previous rants both private and to his face about his obsession for blondes. No matter what kind of distractions he offered, or whatever the egomaniac expected would be worth his time, it would apparently not be blissful enough to trigger the curse. “Not that I want to wake up to Angelus, but why the hell not?”
Any reference to his soulless self usually made Angel clam up tight. Talking about anything was a mystifying experience much less opening up to her about his evil alter ego. Swallowing reflexively, as if it was necessary to force down a bitter pill, his Adam’s apple bobbed heavily in his throat. He hadn’t even considered the need for explanations, which only made the hurt it caused to knot up into a hard ball just under her heart.
“The Kalderash cursed me with a soul to make me suffer,” he reminded rancorously. “Torment in exchange for the life I extinguished. Their revenge is justified. The demon I am has wronged so many. Whatever agenda the Powers That Be have in naming me their champion can’t ever erase the things I have done.”
They had been over this more than once. Prompting him, “Part of the promise I made you is to remind you that the here and now is what counts. What you do now is the only thing you can control.”
Getting him back on track again, she tried to lighten it up a little. Thinking about it hurt. “Please tell me that you met a shaman down at that demon bar who superglued your soul. What other reason could you possibly have to believe that it would be safe for us to have sex?”
Oh, that three letter word had actually sprung from her lips. S-E-X. That’s exactly where these inflammatory kisses were leading, but saying it caused them both to pause and stare hotly at one another.
Angel closed his eyes briefly, rubbed at the nape of his neck, looking conflicted. “Are you sure you want to get into this? Buffy isn’t exactly your favorite subject.”
Bringing up the B-word made her stomach churn for so many reasons, but for once Angel was actually talking to her. “Keep going. I’m listening, but feel free to skip over the star-crossed love story.”
“There’s no getting around it, Cordy. I think you already know what happened that night.”
Horrified that he was going to spill on the details, she blurted, “Plenty! Your love for Buffy broke the curse.” There it was, the Cliff Notes version that was enough to remind her that Angel must be trying to tell her that love had everything to do with the curse and that’s why it did not apply to them.
That sucked. Maybe Angel wasn’t in love with her any more than she was in love with him. She loved him, of course, in whatever way a former crush had for a friend who was one of the most important people in her life, or even the most important. Not to mention that they were tangled up with mystical knots as seer and champion. There was also the whole enjoyable kissing thing she wanted to explore, and anything else he thought was worth it. If there really was some kind of loophole to the loophole in that dratted curse, Cordelia wouldn’t hesitate, not for a second.
Angel admitted that his feelings were definitely a factor, but they were not the only thing in play that night. “My soul is tethered to the demon within me. As much as I’d like to be human again someday, I cannot deny that I am a vampire with all the basic instincts and urges of my kind.”
Unsurprised, she shrugged it off. “Angelus is a part of you. I get that.”
“Do you, Cordelia?”
“Hard to forget. Remember our little chat in the graveyard?”
Staring intensely across the space between them, Angel answered gruffly, “Every moment of it. The shame I feel is nothing compared to my desires. Passion is not just for humanity, Cordelia. It holds us all in its grip. Love and obsession are not so different. You have no idea how much Angelus regretted being interrupted that night—and he regrets nothing. I still feel the echoes of his rage.”
Cordelia shuddered. “How comforting to know your soulless side still gets off on threatening my life.”
“Not just your life, although he would have taken it anyway.”
There wasn’t a minute she ever doubted it. “I know. You’re more than what he is, Angel.”
“Still a vampire.”
Quirking her head, she asked, “Is that supposed to scare me?”
“Angelus. . .”
“Get back to the part where the curse doesn’t kick in if you’re with me.”
“I’m not sure you want to hear this,” Angel hesitated over it making her curiosity burn.
Countering that, she quipped, “Pretty sure I do.”
Stepping forward, Angel moved a little too close for comfort. If he touched her, it would be impossible to resist picking up where they left off, especially if the curse wasn’t a problem.
“The night I was with Buffy I had no idea it was possible to lose my soul. I had no thought of anything except her. Normally there is always a conflict between demon and soul, especially in the slayer’s presence, but not that night. That part of me retreated to avoid my feelings wanting nothing to do with her. There were no reminders of the pain and suffering I caused as Angelus. For a time that night I forgot what I am, and that won’t happen again.”
“Nice theory, but you haven’t exactly gone back to Sunnydale to test it out. Have you?”
“Ending it with Buffy was my decision, and it involved far more than concerns about setting Angelus free again. My mission is here now.”
Cordelia had guessed as much, but figured the risk of freeing Angelus weighed heavily on his decision to abandon the Hellmouth. To think she had actually felt bad for both of them despite having her own problems to deal with. “Changing addresses doesn’t change the fact that you were whammied by gypsies. As much as I’d like to think that Willow fixed that stupid loophole when she returned your soul, I know that she wouldn’t risk screwing things up.”
“I’ve studied it, Cordelia. There is nothing within the spell to provide Angelus with an escape clause. Losing my soul was a fluke, a one time occurrence. What happened that night could never happen with you.”
Cordelia edged back half a step trying to avoid him as he moved forward. “Go ahead! Rip off the bandaid. Get it over with.” He was about to tell her something she did not want to hear, but she wasn’t going to avoid the truth no matter how much it hurt.
Palming her face, Angel strummed his finger across her cheekbone as he gauged how much to say even though she claimed to want the unedited version. “It’s complicated. Angelus has no humanity in him. He’s not me. Though I am all that he is and more with this soul.”
Angel seemed so certain, but it was all still a blur in Cordelia’s mind. “What does your evil alter ego have to do with us?”
“My demon’s desires are never so remote that I forget myself entirely when I’m with you. That side of me is always present. What I think, what I want, and the instincts I follow aren’t always easily controlled.”
Even though Angelus became obsessive over Buffy it was with the intent to drive her mad and destroy her taking the world along for the ride. A cold-hearted need to rip out any reminders of the all too human emotions tying the soul to his lover, a natural enemy had led to the vampire’s downfall. Disparate passions forged in the fires of love and hatred had set him free only to bind him again as the rest of them aided her cause.
Putting it simplistically, Cordelia tried to work out what he was trying to say. “So you’re of two minds when it comes to Buffy, but not me?”
“Angelus wanted you despite having his own agenda. I would never allow that kind of darkness to influence anything we share, but I feel its pull. You said I didn’t need to be a saint. I’m not.”
Cordelia gulped. “Your demon wants to have his wicked way with me?” That was terrifying, yet did not diminish the wave of desire that followed the stroke of his fingers along the curve of her face. “I swear if you say that kissing me was Angelus’ idea and not yours…”
“I don’t have a devil whispering in my ear. Every thought, desire, they’re all mine, whether or not they stem from primal urges or my conscious need to keep you with me. When it comes to you, I suppose Angelus and I are definitely of the same mind.”
“Honestly, I’m not sure if I’m creeped out or comforted.”
Doubt scratched his words into sandpaper, raw and raspy. “You wanted to know my thoughts. Don’t be afraid of them, Cordelia, or me.”
“Angel, I’m only afraid of what could happen if you’re wrong.” Not hesitating to admit the truth to him, she spoke in utmost sincerity. “Whatever this is I want it, too.” Desire flared up almost instantly making her head spin dizzily until it became necessary to reach out for the solid wall of his chest. Her hand skirted up to his neck touching him even though it prompted him to do the same.
Encircling her waist, his grasp spread low over her hips pulling her even closer than before letting her feel the hard ridge of his arousal between them. “Trust me,” he urged roughly just before meshing his lips to hers.
Telling him so took too much effort when all her spinning thoughts could manage was to kiss him back letting the awe and wonder of it flower inside her. A dreamy moment in Angel’s arms that made the others fade and wither. No longer just a means of distraction, a favor for a friend, or subversive game, Angel held nothing back as he held her close, his hands strong, but gently possessive. Conveying every desire he had spoken through the slowly intensifying touch of his mouth parting hers, making her cling and tremble at the purely wicked sensations his kisses evoked.
Instinct drove her on more than any designed seduction. Who had time for that? She had to have him. Her limited experimentation with sex had to do with her own personal standards on the kind of guy she was dating. They rarely measured up enough to consider taking things that far. Cordelia categorized her experiences as good, nice, normal. Nothing like this burning need to strip Angel naked, ride him like a stallion, and let him take her however he wanted. A whole different measuring stick applied to him. There always had been, and frankly—what a stick! He felt huge straining between them as she shimmied her hips to rub at the insistent bulge.
Standing on wobbly knees Cordelia grabbed on tight feeling drunk all of a sudden. What did he put into those kisses? Damn, they were dangerous. She had no idea how they had gotten there as Angel picked her up and deposited her on top of his desk giving her a second’s pause as he shared a smug little smile with her. Gawd, that was hot. She loved it when he smiled, and now it made her even more melty inside than usual. “Ohhh! Are we gonna do it right here?” That one was definitely on the fantasy roster. Check. Right there on his precious and perfectly organized mahogany desk. Without waiting for a reply, she reached for the open collar of Angel’s shirt and tugged hard. He lurched forward surprised by her aggressiveness, catching his hands against the edge of the desk on either side of her.
Positioned between her open thighs, his closeness teased her, but Angel let her take the lead for a moment if only to discover what came next. Her question went unanswered. Instead he just stared back at her hungrily as lust pricked at his patience. One by one Cordelia tugged at the buttons of his shirt, fingers shaking, laughing and grumbling at her own fumbling effort to do something she had easily handled on more than one occasion under the guise of patching him up after a fight. Finally, the damn buttons were defeated giving her hands access to the contours of his chest. Angel leaned into her touch letting her explore his torso unhindered as he moaned her name in a way that made her throb. All without moving his hands from the desk he emboldened her to keep going with every little rumble collecting in his throat as he nuzzled her hair, tugged at her earlobe, or nipped a little more than gently at her throat. Feeling the press of his blunt teeth into her flesh only made her hasten her journey down the tight muscles along his abdomen, Angel’s frame taut with arousal and the effort to remain still. Not that Cordelia needed prompting in that direction because—Hello! Obvious, much? Conveniently, his leather belt’s very straight forward buckle offered little resistance to her eager efforts to move things along. She grabbed the loose buckle and gave the belt a tug pulling it completely out of the loops before dropping it to the floor. “Hey!” Angel growled a little protest as if he expected her to take the time to wrap it into a neat circle for storage. Like she had time for that now? Not. Well, probably never.
Turnabout was fair play, so she gave him a soft, “Hey.” A triumphant little smirk followed when Cordelia popped open the button on his pants. No problems with that one! All that was left between her and her prize was a zipper. She could already hear its rasp on the way down.
“Not so fast,” Angel said suddenly taking hold of both of her hands and pressing them palm down on the desk just far enough back that she had to lean away. It also brought him closer so that his hips pushed into hers making her skirt slide even higher on her open thighs pressing his sex closer to hers.
Cordelia felt the stiff length of him creating friction just where she wanted it. Her legs tightened around him instinctively trying to draw him closer. “Please, Angel. I want you so much. Don’t make me wait.”
“Patience. We’re taking it slow, remember?”
No, she did not recall agreeing to any such thing. Her denials fell on deaf ears as Angel held her hands against the desk, and very leisurely began to ply her with kisses. The wide open vee of her blouse already unbuttoned all the way down to where it tucked into her skirt showed more than just a glimpse or two of golden flesh.
Those gentle little kisses electrified her skin everywhere they landed. Seemingly random spots that shouldn’t have much effect made her arch and whimper for more. He flicked his tongue at the lace edging of her black bra licking the swell of her breast. Her nipples tightened into taut little peaks pressing into the silk. He was driving her crazy with want. Cordelia bit back another plea when Angel seemed so determined to torture her with pleasure one little caress and slow grind at a time.
The touch of his hand at her back signaled the release of hers, but Cordelia couldn’t move. Her eyes were shut tight, supple spine arching at the subtle pressure there, the rest of her following so that her head tilted back exposing her throat, as her long hair cascaded onto the mahogany desk beneath her. A short zip sounded at the back of her skirt, followed by the rustle of fabric, and then the contact of his hand on her bare skin. Her eyes opened in a flash staring hotly as a finger from his free hand traced the scalloped lace at her breast following the curve down to the tiny bow that covered the simple clasp.
Angel looked up for a moment desire dilating his eyes into dark pools of lust. A corner of his mouth lifted into masculine smirk. “Convenient,” he said just as his fingers released the clasp. Silk cups clung desperately to her curves as her breasts bounced free.
Cordelia pressed her palms hard onto the desktop trying to hold herself in place as anticipation made breath come in soft pants, her body squirm, thigh shifting on his hips. His fingers glided across her curves, never groping, thumb strumming close to one achy little peak as it skirted the circle of the sensitive areola. She wanted his mouth there working its magic because she couldn’t take much more. His name was a plea that preceded a stormy undertone, “I swear if you don’t stop teasing me you’re gonna get it.”
She felt Angel’s fingers tracing the outer curve of her breast just before he flicked aside the silk and cupped her there filling his palm. His other hand slid around to fondle its twin, and for a second it was Cordelia’s turn to feel smug at his obvious pleasure. Mesmerized, Angel gawped as he plumped one breast and then the other seemingly in awe of being able to touch her that way at last. She almost giggled over the way he reacted like any other guy—worshipping at her boobs. Nobody else could make her senses reel this way.
Grasping his thick nape, Cordelia nudged him enough to gain his attention drawing his eyes to hers. “Kiss me.” She needed his mouth on her starting with hers. It already seemed like forever since the last time, and though she wanted to feel the magic of his lips and tongue and teeth everywhere she needed him there first.
Angel pressed his lips to hers passionately delivering a whirlwind kiss, fast and furiously hot. It sucked her down into a vortex of sensation as his tongue swept in to tangle with hers. Yet his hands were not idle sweeping down to her ribcage and up again to the swell of her breasts, his thumbs cresting close to her nipples, and then finally scraping over the peaks. Panting hard as he broke off the kiss, Cordelia thought she might spontaneously combust if she did not get to feel his mouth there soothing the fiery heat inside her.
The dip of his dark head told her he intended to do exactly that, but Cordelia couldn’t stop the words from pouring out. “Yes, oh, Angel, kiss me there.” His tongue was on her, and his lips, teasing and exploring just as his fingers had done. The blunt nip of his teeth gently tugging on her tender flesh made her tremble almost violently turning her whimpers into raspy commands. “Do that again.”
Creating friction, his rigid sex rocked more intensely on its slow ride across her core. So close to where she wanted him. The smooth material of his tailored pants softly chaffed her inner thighs as her hips circled against his stimulating everything. Her thin thong clung damply to her intimate parts making his thick length more apparent every time he rubbed against her. Every gloriously hard inch was meant for her. So was the rest of him—even better.
Cordelia’s touch roamed across Angel’s body wherever she could reach. His broad shoulders were still covered up by his shirt even though it hung open making her wish she had taken a second to strip him of it before working on his belt. Sidetracked, much? One hand found its way to his chest delighting in its streamlined smoothness and the denser contours pressing into her palm, the sensitive nub of his nipple hardening against her fingers as they swept passed.
Angel’s tongue swept beneath the curve of her left breast just before his tantalizing mouth took a detour south peppering little kisses along her ribs and belly. A finger hooked the waistband of her skirt tugging it down just low enough to expose her navel. He kissed the skin just above it, and then swirled his tongue inside causing Cordelia to suck in a sharp gasp. Standing up, he flashed a predatory look her way just before fisting his hand in her hair and crushing his lips against hers for all of a second leaving her lips swollen and aching for further contact.
Both hands swept down to her hips holding her still for a moment, Difficult considering the powerful urge driving them both. She squirmed against it needing the contact. Thumbs grazed across the crests of her hip bones, long fingers sliding around to grope what he could before moving on from textured skirt to bare thigh. She silently cheered him on because she wanted no barriers left between them. When he reached between them to rip the silk thong away, her surprised squeak gave him pause as he remembered she was picky about her things. “Pretty,” he managed to croak rawly before tossing the decorative black scrap onto the desk.
Snorting softly, Cordelia thought Angel might not be so oblivious after all. Gawd, he was such a doofus, and all hers. She smiled at him right up to the point that his hand moved between them causing a wide-eyed whimper as he rubbed along the sensitive folds. She propped herself up on her elbows, her cherry red blouse and black bra dangling from her shoulders, bare breasts on display their tender peaks reddened from the attention of his mouth, needing to watch what he was doing to her that felt so fantastic. His fingers stroked and twirled around in a dance of pleasure settling off sparklers that made her ooh and ahh at the sensations. It was impossible to stay still. She squirmed against the desktop, her skirt so high on her hips now that her bare bottom hugged the edge.
Then Angel fell to his knees between her open thighs, his tongue lapping at the cream across her folds tasting her as his fingers simultaneously teased. Cordelia instinctively grabbed onto his head, but he shook her off. A rather vampiric growl sounded at the interruption. “Hold on to something,” he rumbled the words. There was a hint of gold rimming his dark eyes as he gave her a better idea. “Touch yourself.” He stared just long enough to watch her catch her breath at the notion.
Cordelia let out a shuddery sigh as her hands left the hard surface of the desk sliding up to her breasts. They were heavy in her hands, sensitive, achy for attention. Touching herself while he touched her felt electric, her whole body humming with sensual energy. Angel saw her tweak a nipple; his erection twitched in his pants throbbing hard. Soon, he promised himself, but not before he tasted her again. His gaze dropped down to her sex riveted by the sight of her and the flagrantly explicit thoughts running through his head.
Not until Cordelia lay strung out like a limp noodle across his desk did Angel feel satisfied she was ready to take him. Not just due to her relative inexperience, as far as he had discerned, or his impressive size because she was eager and responsive. Having her once or twice might be the norm for a human lover, but Angel knew the extent of his raging need. He wasn’t likely to stop making up for the time they had lost. No matter that there were years and other relationships between them, Cordelia had wanted him from the start. Twisted by lust, his logic was warped, but it all came down to the fact that he wasn’t about to let her out of his bed tonight. Once he got her in it.
Still reeling from the intensity of her second orgasm, Cordelia felt too stunned to move. “I just knew you’d be awesome at that.” A throaty laugh emerged. “Might have thought about it a few times.” The little confession slid out on a sigh as she watched Angel rise to his feet again. He gave her that smirk, the tiniest quirk at the corner of his lips letting her know that his ego was in complete accord. Sweeping her off the desk and into his arms, Angel shared a secret of his own. “Lately, I dream up all kinds of scenarios. Everything from the most basic lovemaking to the kind of sex that I’m not sure you can handle. Fantasies of you that blow the top off my head. Making you come for me again and again.”
Cordelia gaped at the honesty of his sexy confession. “Well, that’s definitely two times already. Think we can go for three?”
Angel answered her with a kiss, this one tender and somewhat restrained, promising far more than a heartfelt caress. She cupped the back of his head to hold him there deepening the kiss despite his intentions, and tasting the tang of herself on his tongue. It only fired her up again, the memory of it still sharp in her mind of having his mouth there, the soft suction of his lips, the way his tongue lapped and dipped and thrust inside her. Those fingers, not to forget those magic digits strumming at her slick flesh, tweaking, stroking shallow and deep. Reminding her there were other things she wanted.
Breaking away from the kiss, Cordelia urged him to hurry. “Now works for me. How about the couch?”
Moving in the opposite direction, Angel headed out of his office toward the stairs leading down to his basement apartment. Cordelia pouted a bit. Protesting, “The couch was on my list.”
“Mine, too.” Angel navigated the stairs easily despite having her in his arms. “We’ll try out that fantasy another day. Right now, I want you in my bed.”
Heat shot through her making her flush with it as the idea of the two of them in bed together unfurled in her mind. Their naked bodies pressed skin to skin. Touching him. Being taken by him for the first time. Just the thought of it made her jittery with desire. The couch could wait. Humming her agreement, “M’kay,” she pressed a plump kiss against his cheek.
Both of them had imagined how this might go. Cordelia felt a flash of fear as the bedroom door loomed ahead. How would she ever face Angel again if this didn’t live up to his standards? He had already surpassed expectations in one area. Surely the same applied to everything else. Cordelia would just curl up and die if this didn’t result in the best sex both of them had ever imagined—and she had dreamt up scenarios that could probably make a vampire blush. No doubts about his skills. Only some lingering ones that her meager experience would make this less than perfect for him. Some of those pretzel like positions she had read about in Cosmo might be a challenge the first time or two, but she was totally on board if Angel was up for that kind of thing. He was certainly up for something—and that thought made her titter.
The bedroom looked like it aways did. Masculine. Clutter-free. Tidy. Neat as a pin right down to the precision placement of the comforter and pillows on the iron-wrought bed. It looked kind of intimidating, but it had to be softer than the mahogany desk. Her random thoughts slowed to a halt when he set her down to stand facing him still a few feet away from the bed.
An intensity surrounded him despite the calmness of his demeanor. He moved slowly, tenderly as his fingers combed through her hair and finally settled at her nape. She felt it in his kiss as if he was about to crawl out of his skin any second to pounce, the swift crush of his mouth all too brief against hers. Ending it, he asked, “Any last second reservations?”
Jitters about the curse kicking in? Not until she stopped to think about it. That wasn’t what he was asking, though. This was just about them, intimacy between friends, and the uncrossable line they were about to obliterate. Considering the things that went down on his desk—kinda literally—it seemed a little late for take-backs.
A quick denial followed. “No!” Cordelia gave Angel credit for playing the gentleman card, if that was what he was doing by giving her a chance to change her mind. Maybe he asked because he was the one with qualms. “You?”
Angel growled it out, “Be certain you want this. Things are different between us, Cordy.” A sour twang filled her head as she filled in the blank. Compared to what he had with Buffy. Because even now she had to come between them. “We’re already bound together by the Powers That Be. We’re friends. You drive me crazy sometimes.” He said it like this was one of those times, clinging to his last nerve before letting impulse take over.
“Crazy in a good way?” Cordelia reached between them to trace the bulge tenting his pants. A dark light flared in his eyes, something barely restrained smoldering there as she coasted her fingers over his erection. Excitement shot along her skin raising goosebumps as she daringly explored the stiff length beneath her palm moving higher to cup him firmly in her hand.
Angel’s eyes slammed shut as a low expletive tumbled out. Before she had time to smirk at his reaction, he yanked her into his arms, whirled around, and pinned her against the wall. Clinging to his shoulders, Cordelia was already a little dizzy when Angel took her face in his hand, and stole her breath away. A landslide of gathering intensity followed as he hungrily pressed against her pliant lips. They parted beneath the avid onslaught greedy for the taste of him. It came with the sweep of his tongue sliding into her just long enough to make her want more. There was no chance to respond with anything other than compliance as his lips voraciously claimed hers. A moan passed between them signaling they were both past the point of backing away from this.
Their clothes shifted loosely between them, irritating barriers to the full contact they wanted. Angel swept a hand inside her open blouse to fondle her breast as they kissed, but the chiffon covered the sight of the roundness filling his hand. He pulled back an inch or two, far enough to see the lust hazing her darkened eyes, and the lush swell of her lips as she panted for air during the brief reprieve. It took all of two seconds to strip off her blouse and bra, and that long only because he was careful not to rip anything. The skirt clinging to her narrow hips and the taut curves of her ass barely needed a nudge to fall to the floor at her feet. Cordelia kicked it away, which left her standing gloriously nude except for her strappy black high-heeled sandals.
Openly staring at the beauty he had uncovered, Angel compared the reality before him to the fantasy versions that too often invaded his thoughts. Having a vivid mind and an artist’s skill, he had enjoyed the visual imagery he created, but Cordelia’s body was far more inviting. He’d never seen anyone so beautiful who made him want so much, feel so much, or made him this hard. His body throbbed at the delay he forced upon it. Wanting their first time to be special, as tender an introduction to lovemaking with a vampire as he could manage, Angel’s resolve to go slowly drowned in the wake of his sudden ravenous need to possess her.
Cordelia grabbed at the edges of his open shirt, the material bunching up in her hands as she tugged if off his shoulders, but it caught at his elbows because Angel was already on her. His hands followed a salacious course along the landscape of her curves from breasts to bottom. Lifting her up brought them skin to skin. Raising her legs, she wound them around his waist, barely settling into that new attitude before he walked them over to the bed and tossed her down upon it. Landing with a bounce, her hair flouncing around her, Cordelia giggled thinking Angel’s goofy romantic side was about to make another appearance. One glance told her she had gotten it wrong. Her eyes went round at the intensity darkening his to almost black. Angel’s stare never wavered. Full of desires she had never seen there before. Carnal, urgent, barely restrained, he held himself in check at the edge of the bed, every muscle taut with tension.
She felt it too, her body riddled with escalating need that tightened in her chest, swirled hotly in her belly, and made her squeeze her thighs together to quell the ache that centered there. It actually hurt to be so far away even if it was only inches. The bedcover felt rough against her bare skin as she lay back squirming impatiently for him to come to her. While Angel had the ability to stay silent as he methodically shucked off his shirt, shoes, and socks, Cordelia did not. He could give her a sexy strip show some other time.
“Pants off now, Vampire Guy. Show me that supernatural speed.”
If anything, Angel paused long enough to growl at the interruption. “Trust me, Cordy. Speedy is not what you want right now.”
That might be up for debate if it wouldn’t take too long to argue about it. Cordelia rolled to her knees scooting directly in front of him so focused on getting him out of his clothes she forgot that she was completely nude. Angel certainly didn’t. His hand roved along her spine settling low enough to grab a handful of ass as he pulled her up higher. Her breasts crushed against his chest. She could feel his straining erection between them as he pushed his hips closer. She whimpered as he increased the friction, listened as he grunted a low desperate sound in her ear. Felt his lips on her throat, and the wet slash of his tongue before nipping her with his blunt teeth. He covered her little moan with his mouth claiming hers firmly just long enough to draw a response getting more than anticipated when her hand slipped between them. She cupped him there for only a moment feeling the heaviness in her hand and the thick length straining into her palm.
Already unbuttoned and an inch of zipper unfurled, his pants were loose on his hips giving easy access to her hand as it slipped up to his taut abs and down again to grasp him. “Now is good. Right now. What I want—pretty sure that’s right here.” She stroked firmly up and down the stiff rod of his sex marveling over the feel of him in her hand.
The feral gleam in his eyes held hers fast. “Now is not the time to test my control. Do not tease me, Cordelia.” Another warning hinting at those dark vampiric urges, and the demon inside him always at his core pushing the soul to its limits. Yet Angel did not stop her ministrations letting her hand ride the thick length of him. He simply reached down to unzip his pants fully and pull them out of the way.
Dragging her gaze down the contours of his torso, Cordelia bit back a gasp at the sight of his cock filling her hand. Big, pale in contrast to her golden skin, it throbbed in her tight grasp. The strangled little breath escaped anyway as words tumbled out unbidden, “Now that’s what I call a joy stick.” Angel probably would’ve missed the video game reference even if he was listening, but his attention was exactly where hers had turned focusing on the erotic squeeze and slide of her fingers across his sex.
“Cor—,” he faltered in sounding out her name unable to voice more than a diminutive form as his hand closed over her wrist to stop her.
Reluctantly, Cordelia let him go. “Don’t you want me to touch you?” He had done far more than that for her, and she had all kinds of sexy plans to return the favor.
“Much more of that and I’ll explode.”
“Sounds hot. I want to see that. I want to make it happen.”
Angel let out a low curse before kissing her again almost as if to shut her up. Sweeping her up into his arms he climbed onto the bed and placed her there as gently as he could manage. “I’d like that, too. Later,” he promised as he settled between her thighs, “I’ll let you have a turn. This is for both of us.”
The sentiment was tender, the kiss that followed not, an oral prelude to carnal bliss. Cordelia delighted at the weight of him upon her, the smooth skin riding across sinewy muscle as she stroked and clutched him close. Arching into his touch as he found her all too ready for him. The slow sweep of his fingertips along her cleft made her tremble in anticipation, their shallow penetration turning her wild in his arms.
“Now who’s teasing?” Passionate cries flowed from her lips to Angel’s ears reacting to every kiss, the lash of his tongue across her distended nipples, the nip of his blunt teeth, and the twirl of those talented fingers. Cordelia couldn’t help but grind against his hand. She was so close already as he delved a little deeper making her toes curl as he did something that nearly sent her to the stratosphere.
Still, it was not enough. Cordelia writhed beneath him urgency driving her to plea, “God, Angel! Give it to me now.” Tormented with lust, not caring that she sounded so desperate, she wanted him to feel it, too.
The rigid tension in his shoulders and back told her Angel was a little too much in control of his actions. Maybe that should be a good thing because inciting a vampire to let loose might not be so smart, but right now Cordelia wasn’t even thinking. This was happening. Them. Together. Every gorgeous inch of salty goodness was all hers, and she wanted everything he had to give.
Cordelia knew him understanding that he would want to be gentle, careful. She felt it in the way Angel eased his fingers from the core of her body. A little whimper escaped her throat at their loss, but she did not have to wait long before Angel presented himself there, rubbing a circle around her clitoris before delving into her slick folds with the blunt tip. Squirming impatiently, she forced him to grasp her thighs pressing them open wider as he centered himself. Desire made her throb, anticipation causing eager encouragements to tumble out, “C’mon, c’mon.”
Despite the powerful need spiraling inside her Cordelia felt her body resist that initial entry as his thick sex stretched her open. Unexpected discomfort distracted her, a whimper curdling as he penetrated slowly rocking deeper until fully sheathed, all of him gloriously hard and inside her. Closer again, Angel kissed her deeply as he held himself steady above her giving her a moment to adjust to his girth, and himself time to control the base urge to make her his by every means possible.
Too much, the feelings that welled up made it too difficult to ignore the instinct to move. Angel slid out almost completely before thrusting deep again. He paced himself deliberately careful to build up her pleasure again enjoying the pleading little sounds in his ear that turned into fervent demands for more. “Don’t hold back.” The words unleashed him as if he had been waiting for a sign that Cordelia could handle everything he had for her. He wanted too much.
The tender lovemaking Angel envisioned on more than one occasion for their first time was not going to happen. He had wanted that for her in those forbidden daydreams, a show of feeling and the tender affection he had for her, but he had not considered the depths of his passion or hers. Cordelia was inexperienced, but far from ignorant about sex, and despite his possessive thoughts on the subject, he was glad she was not virginal. Need rose up like a powerful tsunami roaring to shore and there was no more time for sweet seductions.
Cordelia clasped him with both arms and legs squeezing him as if that would hold him where she wanted him most. He was too strong, too determined, hips in constant motion pulling out and thrusting deep setting a rhythm that quickly brought her to a peak. She screamed with it, as vocal as always, unable to hold off the overwhelming surge that made her clench up like an electric current struck. Just a prelude to more, Angel changed both the rhythm and the angle by lifting her hips, and rising to his knees.
Not even Cosmo had prepared her for this. Whatever he was doing—she so approved. “Yes! Yes!” It felt all consuming and wild and more meaningful because her feelings were tangled up with his. Soul and demon were in complete accord as Angel met her gaze staring deep into her eyes holding her transfixed. It was not just raw passion he channeled into her body with every deep thrust. There were other feelings too complicated to name that echoed something inside her setting off a blinding orgasm that triggered his own.
The steady control, that unrelenting rhythm that seemed to thrust into her body as if it sought out her soul suddenly turned frenzied. Hands grasped harder pulling her body forward even as his hips whipped faster. Muscles strained with every thrust maintaining that balance between needing more of her and taking too much. Barely holding it together as his body gave way to instinct, heated groans rumbled up, explicit words and her name poured out in an incoherent jumble as Angel came inside her, ecstasy etched on his face.
Possibly the hottest thing she had ever seen, Cordelia said exactly what was on her mind. “That was so hot. I like watching you lose it—as long as that’s the only thing you lose.”
Giving her a little grunt of acknowledgment was all Angel could manage just then. He was still inside her, and half-hard despite his release. She looked flushed and exhilarated, eyes bright, her smile enough to stir the need within him. He wanted more of her, now, impatience making him smooth his hands across her heated skin palming her breasts. Distracting himself in order to give her a brief respite, and because he couldn’t resist the temptations of her beautiful body, he caressed her with his hands and mouth, making Cordelia writhe and whimper beneath him.
Who needed pillow talk when Angel could do that with his mouth? Cordelia was definitely okay with it. Her breasts had never felt so sensitive as now, the slightest touch making her quiver, and when his mouth closed over a taut nipple, her eyes rolled back at the sensation. It was the best kind of torture assuaging one need while building up another. She was completely aware of the hard column of flesh lodged deep inside, clutching him even now as if releasing him from her body would be wrong. Maybe it was greedy to want more of him so soon.
Angel seemed to sense it too as his hips began a slow grind that rocked into her in deep thrusts. Every move brought them closer, rubbing at her too sensitive flesh, crushing her there each time their hips banged together. Begging him for more of the same as her knees flexed up instinctively giving him access, Cordelia tried to hold it together a little longer, not wanting the delicious feelings to come to an end too soon, but the almost teasing way he moved inside her increased to an almost frantic pace. She pushed her hips up to meet his rhythm, arching into him and the soft suction of his mouth at her throat. The nip of his teeth there was gentle, but the needy rumble vibrating against her skin caused a sudden gasp, a sharp reminder that he might want something more.
Before she could ask, Angel swiped voraciously at her mouth stealing away her ability to speak or do anything except hold him close. Her fingers traced the length of his spine feeling the taut muscles of his back up to his shoulder blades. Opening up to that deeply possessive kiss, she felt just as hungry for it tangling her tongue with his, as he reached down between them to roll his thumb across her sex finding that swollen little joy button she knew so well. God, he knew what he was doing.
An elated little smile streaked across her face, eyes scrunching closed as sweet oblivion took hold and Angel followed her over the edge. He pounded into her, his body wrought with barely restrained passion, hips whipping hard, their impassioned cries an erotic tune accompanied by the desperate rhythm of their connection. Pleasure streamed through every pore, filling her up to the brim until it exploded in an endless wave that held her captive in its wake as Angel came with her, their bodies quaking together.
Collapsing back against the pillows again, Cordelia panted hard from the exertion. She sighed as he slipped out to settle down beside her, his dark eyes rimmed with pure male satisfaction. “That was like a week’s worth of cardio.”
He smirked smugly, but she let him get away with it this time. Angel’s hand was on her hip turning her toward him and lingering there as he made a study of her face. “You’re so beautiful,” he whispered inches away, his fingers slipping over the curve of her him and along the concave course of her waist, “so responsive.”
Cordelia graced him with an almost shy smile as his words curled up inside her. She wasn’t used to hearing anything akin to a compliment from Angel. He looked pleased with himself and everything that had just happened. Maybe a little too pleased. “How are you feeling—blissful?” Her voice dropped to a low whisper.
He chuckled softly allowing her a little latitude. “Still doubting me?”
Hand over his heart, she gave it a different spin. “Let’s call it being cautiously optimistic.”
Pulling her closer into his arms, Angel tested the waters with a medley of soft kisses enticing her to trust him. “I’d never deliberately put you in harm’s way.”
That was something she never questioned. Cordelia softly rubbed the tip of her nose against his before smooching his mouth, a quick gesture of reassurance. Waggling her brows, “That’s why you’re getting to sample all of this.” She laughed and slapped a hand against her rump.
“Just a sample? We’ll see about that.” Angel kissed her until they were a tangle of arms and legs lying haphazardly across the bed, pillows wonky, and the comforter bunched up beneath them.
They wriggled it out from under them tossing it toward the end of the bed. Cordelia was on her knees facing him again as Angel lounged back on his right elbow having watched every angle and curve her body presented. Lewd images sketched themselves out in his mind’s eye just as they had on many recent occasions, only now they did not have to be left to his imagination. He got hard again almost instantly, the thick rod springing up from his groin.
Desire clenched between her thighs as Cordelia envisioned a sexy plan of her own. Still giddy from his kisses, she was caught off guard by his altered expression. Seductive bedroom eyes turned cloudy as Early Brood Mode hit without warning.
“I want so much from you,” Angel’s gravelly confession diverted her from reaching out to grasp him. She wanted to give him everything right now. The teasing had come to an end. Every word tugged at something deep inside making her wake up to take notice. He reached out enclosing her hand in his, a sharp tug propelling her forward into his arms again. “I’m a selfish bastard to take you like this. There’s so much more for you out there, Cordy . . . the life you want, happiness, love, a family.”
The swift change of mood made Cordelia’s head spin. “That sounds a lot like an apology that I don’t need. Angel, you are my family—you and Wes. Yes, I want a lot of things, but you most of all. I need you in my life, and not just because of these new fringe benefits.”
“Good, be—,” Angel could barely get out a word before he felt compelled to show her instead. He kissed her again, this time slowly, deeply, making her feel more than she thought possible. Finally, he dragged his lips away, “Because I need you in mine. My world is a different place with you in it.”
As her heart thudded heavily at those words, Cordelia tried to lighten to mood with a quipped response, “Duh! No longer a eunuch. You’re welcome.”
A shaky breath suddenly followed, one not lost on vampire hearing. Jittery with the notion that Angel might feel more for her than just lust and the deep ties that bound them together as a champion and his seer, and the best of friends, Cordelia realized that she was definitely almost certainly there, too. Hers might be a cautious heart these days, but it was hopeful, and Angel’s kisses tasted of promise, passion, and devotion as he made love to her again, this time slowly, sipping kisses across her skin.
Sometime later, after Cordelia had finally demanded her turn to drive him wild with pleasure, an annoying disturbance interrupted her concentration. With her hand snug around the base of his sex she took him deeper into her mouth trying to get into a rhythm. Angel’s fingers were locked in place behind his head as ordered, something that gave her all kinds of fun ideas, but for now, she just wanted to make him explode. He growled and grunted through every bob of her head, moaned and pleaded as she sucked him harder, reminding her of his earlier warning about teasing with an added expletive or two as he tried to keep his hips pinned to the bed.
Multitasking was practically impossible with that irritating noise. Even though it wasn’t exactly her area of expertise—not that she had one yet—Cordelia had every confidence he would love it. Smugly, she knew that he already did. Thanks, Cosmo, the delighted thought pinged.
Angel groaned at the loss of heat around his cock as Cordelia suddenly asked, “What’s that?” The blood rushing in her ears from the combined excitement and effort made the sound a little fuzzy as if it was coming from far away.
This time Angel was vexed because it wasn’t just an interruption of their lovemaking. “It’s the phone, Cordelia. Probably that call you’ve been waiting for all day.”
The afternoon had gone by in a time warp. The digital clock on the nightstand showed that it was already late. “Wow. All day? You give good distraction.”
“Glad you approve,” he said slowly, almost questioningly, as if surprised they were still talking.
The phone jangled again after a short pause. Whoever it was—the casting directer, her agent, or David himself—was certainly insistent letting the phone ring, and ring, and ring.
“Aren’t you going to answer it?”
Cordelia made a little face as if he should already know. “Nope. It’s my day off. Better things to do right now.”
Angel let out a low moan has Cordelia’s hand tightened up again starting a slow slide to the tip of his staff and back down again. As much as he wanted her to continue, he needed to make certain he wasn’t the cause of missed opportunities that she would later regret.
“Answer the phone, Cordelia. You’ll miss your chance.”
Stardom wasn’t everything. Earlier that morning Cordelia would have said that it was. Not even close. “The only chance I want to take is right here with you.”
EPILOGUE: WOLFRAM AND HART
The offices of Wolfram and Hart were still buzzing with activity toward the end of the normal workday. Some associates actually kept routine business hours, but those with any eye on promotion lived and breathed every moment inside those doors. It was their job to sweat out the long hours for the Senior Partners and find the inspiration to turn their goals into reality. No matter the cost.
Lee Mercer could feel his boss staring him down. His tie felt like it was strangling him. “There’s no answer at the agency’s main line or Miss Chase’s home phone.”
Annoyance was clear in Holland Manner’s voice, “You assured me this ploy would work.”
The firm had missed more than one opportunity to kill or control the vampire, Angel. It was Lee’s idea to get at him through his seer, Cordelia Chase. He had studied her through the efforts of underlings. Spied on her habits. Riffled through her correspondence. Knew her taste in men, makeup, and fashion magazines, although her preferences for the finer things in life exceeded anything she could afford.
Unlike their recent attempt at paying off a rogue slayer, this young woman could not be bought with diamonds or promises of a future free of misfortune. Certainly not directly by an obvious bribe to betray the vampire. She might love wealth and the luxuries that came with it, but it was clear she would never willingly join their cause. Deception was the only means of dividing her loyalties, and it was within Wolfram & Hart’s powers to make that happen. Or, so he had believed.
“Everything is in order. It’s working. She auditioned just as predicted.” Lee rubbed at the tension gathering in his temples. “We arranged for one of our contracted actors to show up. He owes us for a long successful career. There were sparks. She is definitely on board. All we have to do is reel her in.”
Holland nodded thoughtfully as he leaned against the edge of the desk. “How many times have you called?”
Hesitant to admit it, Lee finally spat out the truth. “Three.”
“Are you certain she did not see through your ploy?”
The idea was to distract the seer by giving her what she desired most, a life of stardom and wealth. Soon enough, that life would consume her, leaving the vampire blind to messages from the Powers that Be. He would fail in his duty as their champion, a victory for Wolfram & Hart and the Senior Partners.
One thing was certain. Nothing was left to fate alone. Such plotting required calculations and verification through any means necessary. The firm employed powerful psychics. The vampire’s seer was not the only one to predict dangers and outcomes. “Without her at the vampire’s side, the prognostications are clear. We win.” Holland recounted the argument Lee had made only two months before. He had done his homework, put in the hours, employed every tactic possible to ensure their success.
With a sense of deep dread, Lee knew that something had happened, something he had not counted on, something even the psychics could not predict. A temporary setback? One scenario might explain it. “Perhaps they are on a mission. A vision might have distracted her. Should I make another attempt?”
Lee stalled on the way to the phone. There was no real surprised on Holland Manner’s face. No indecision about what came next. He knew something.
Holland handed him a file he had been carrying. The markings on the cover revealed the origin of the report inside causing Lee’s stomach to churn nervously. This wasn’t good news. Holland informed him what he already suspected. “Here’s the latest from our top psychic. Looks like you’re too late. The chance of putting any kind of wedge between those two just plummeted into negligible numbers.”
The report gave no details, just the odds of success or failure. Lee closed the file and tossed it down on the desk as if it burned his fingers.
Those psychics had to be wrong. There had to be something they could do. His boss had to have some strategy to make this worthwhile, Lee decided. Holland was far too calm about it not to have come up with the next step. Hoping this screw up would not prevent his participation, Lee eagerly asked, “What happens next?”
Holland raised an eyebrow. “That’s quite obvious you incompetent fool. You’re fired.”
Two men dressed head to toe in black appeared at the office door. Lee Mercer’s pleas echoed across the open floor drawing scathing looks from his coworkers. They all knew what it meant if security took you down to Human Resources. No one would miss him, and his body would never be found.