27: A Touch of Leather
Chapter 27: A Touch of Leather
Angel heard her approach from the hall long before Cordelia appeared in the kitchen doorway. The clickety-clack of her high-heeled shoes was a dead giveaway and she seemed to be in a hurry. He hadn’t intended to talk to her again tonight. Not after his breakup with Buffy and realization that his feelings for Cordelia went deeper than anything he had ever felt before.
A little time and distance was what he needed to plan things appropriately. What he wanted had to be handled delicately if it was to be done right. Digging down deep to the part of him that was meticulous and patient, Angel felt certain that he could do what had to be done without making a complete mess of things.
Until she walked in the door.
“What are you doing here?” Cordelia stopped short at the sight of Angel washing out a mug at the sink. He was supposed to be at the Bronze having a good time with Buffy.
Rolling her eyes, Cordy walked toward the refrigerator only to pause half way there as she decided not to let him get away without answering her question. “You didn’t stay long at the club,” she prompted.
“Nope.” Angel set the mug on the counter as he realized she was neither wearing her outfit from the club nor her nightclothes, but something else entirely. Walking slowly around the island to get a better look at what she was wearing, he didn’t bother to hide his burning curiosity.
Cordelia huffed in frustration. These one and two word answers were not getting her very far. Then she noticed Angel’s dark gaze shifting over her body in a purposeful manner. “Staring much?”
Not denying it, Angel found that appearance fascinated him. Her mahogany hair was twisted up into a loose knot at her nape. She wore one of her silk robes, but there was something beneath it other than her usual nightgown. Black stockings which she had not been wearing at the Bronze tonight covered her legs in sheer silk. Her feet were encased in shoes with four-inch heels.
A catch sounded in his voice as Angel asked, “Going somewhere?”
“Duh! The refrigerator.”
“I meant tonight— with Angelus.”
“We just got back,” Cordelia reminded him. She was suddenly wondering if Buffy had conked him over the head with the pool table.
“So you’re not going anywhere else tonight?”
“No,” Cordelia answered impatiently while trying to move around him toward her target destination. “We’re staying in.”
“Wearing that outfit?”
Glancing down at herself, Cordelia suddenly realized what he was getting at. Teasing him came only too naturally as she pointed out, “Robes are usually worn at home.”
“The outfit that’s under the robe, sweetheart,” he clarified. When Cordy wasn’t being bluntly direct, she could dance around a subject better than anyone he knew.
“Vamps don’t have x-ray vision. For all you know I’m wearing granny panties and a Wonder Bra.”
I doubt that.
“Outta my way, Grrr Guy. I need something.” He let her move past him while trying to figure out what she had on beneath the robe. Then Angel saw what she pulled out from the refrigerator and found himself gawking as his imagination kicked in. There were two cans of whipped cream, one in each hand, chocolate flavored and vanilla.
“Nosy much?” Cordelia asked, but flushed at the fact that he was obviously thinking about the potential uses. “It’s for my ice cream sundae.”
Angel saw the lights dancing in her eyes and concluded, “Liar.”
Commenting hastily, Cordelia countered with, “I’m no Pinocchio.”
Wooden boy? That would be me at the moment. Except my nose isn’t the site of the growth spurt.
Angel didn’t know what Cordelia had on beneath that robe, but she wasn’t leaving until he found out. There was something dark and textured that caused the robe to drape over her breasts in such a way that made them seem like an offering for any willing worshipper.
There was amusement in his eyes, but Cordelia detected something more than just curiosity. Something else was hidden in that look which caused her to react to it in ways she shouldn’t even be considering. She didn’t even have the excuse of him barging into her bedroom wearing only a pair of body-hugging boxers. Not that she’d looked— much.
Dressed in his usual black on black ensemble minus his leather duster, Angel looked more dark and mysterious than she’d ever seen him. It really had nothing to do with his clothes; more like an invisible aura surrounding him enhancing qualities that she thought he no longer possessed. Any trace of light-hearted fun faded from that gaze leaving behind something that made her heart pound in her chest.
Something powerful and predatory stared back at her. “A-Angel?”
He made no move toward her, his hard body motionless while effectively blocking her way out of the room. “Liars have to pay a forfeit to get out of the kitchen.”
Confused, Cordelia wasn’t certain if she was supposed to be laughing or complaining. For some strange reason, her whole body was quivering at the thought. “They do? Such as what?”
Angel’s raised brows signaled a challenge. “Come here, Cordy. Find out.”
There was something in his quiet tone, a deep sensual thread that shook Cordelia to the core making her body hum in response. Was he doing that on purpose? Making her react in ways she had no business reacting. He hadn’t really done anything. Just stood there watching her. He hadn’t said anything wrong, just acted curious about what she had on. Determined not to move an inch, Cordelia somehow found herself in front of him anyway.
Geez! How did I get here? Cordy asked herself realizing that she was now only inches away from that broad muscular form. It was a good thing her hands were full because she was hit with the sudden urge to press them against his shirt just to feel the hard wall of his chest and rake her nails over his sculpted torso.
With a dangerous, satisfied gleam in his eyes, Angel told her, “Maybe I don’t get to participate in the games tonight, but I’d say giving me a peek at what you’re wearing will be forfeit enough.”
Participate in what games? Realizing suddenly what he hinted at, Cordelia gave him a shocked stare. He had to be joking in a so-not-funny way. Convincing herself that this was some stupid amusement on his part, Cordelia’s mouth curved into a playful smile. “Perv. You’re such a MANpire. Go ahead and look if you’re so curious.”
Closing in the short distance between them, Angel took hold of the end of her belt, his fingers toying with it as he stared deeply into her eyes watching for her reaction. Enraptured by the gold-green lights in her hazel orbs, Angel tugged slowly on the end of the belt without bothering to look down at his progress. It felt like he was back at the damn boutique in the mall tying her up again, except now things were happening in reverse. He was unwrapping hidden treasures.
Just as the belt started to give way, loosening the flaps of her robe, Cordelia felt a moment of panic. Any pretense that this was a silly game faded, replaced by the realization that she desperately wanted to see his face when he saw what she was wearing. That she needed to see Angel’s reaction knowing that she could make him feel something that had nothing to do with their friendship.
In the seconds of silence that passed between them, Angel soaked up her body’s reactions like a thirsty sponge. The flush high across her cheekbones, the soft swell of her lips parted slightly to suck in a desperate breath of air, the nervous flutter of her pulse and the visible quiver of her lush body hidden beneath her robe. He heard his own rumbled reaction deep in his chest, an automatic response that could not be silenced.
Cordelia suddenly decided this was a bad idea. “Wait! Maybe you shouldn’t.”
Her ineffective protest sounded like a half-hearted suggestion. Angel took it that way and continued his steady pull on the belt loosening the knot. He said nothing, simply continued that slow tug. That rumbling sound seemed to be tugging too, she realized with a start. Tugging at her heart until the warmth spread with molten fire down to her loins liquefying everything in its path.
“Angel,” his name sounded as a wanton whisper, forbidden and unstoppable.
Saying nothing, Angel’s eyes bore into her own surrounding Cordelia in their dark depths sucking her in with the inescapable power of a black hole. Primal. Irresistible. Dark. Sensual. She barely noticed when his strong hands settled on her shoulders. His thumbs tucked under the silk material, bunching it up in his fists to slowly peel it away from her skin.
Cordelia felt the silk float down her upper arms gathering at her bent elbows. Finally, after what seemed like eons of time, Angel’s gaze shifted downward roving over her exposed skin and the tantalizing outfit that hugged her body in ways only his hands could improve upon. She forced herself to voice a reminder that she had dressed this way for Angelus. “Think he’ll like it?”
With his hands still gripping the silk, Angel’s eyes darted back up to hers now ringed by amber lights. The mention of his brother acted as a harsh reminder that Cordelia had no idea that she belonged to him. Every inch of her. Every lush curve now bound by the leather corset. It propped up her breasts in their demi-cups barely covering the darker tint of her areolas with some stretchy material that didn’t seem to belong there. Matching bikini panties left the soft curve of her lower belly exposed while a dark garter belt held tight to the silky stockings covering her long legs.
He had the greatest urge to touch the bare skin of her inner thighs showing between the panties and the stockings. “Stupid question. He’d be a fool not to like what he sees. Tell me, are you in charge of the games tonight?”
More talk of games between her and Angelus. It seemed a strange way to refer to their lovemaking even if it was a lot of fun. Mocking his query, her voice came out as a husky promise, “I don’t play games.”
Cordelia moved her hands closer together, unconsciously putting up a natural barrier between them. The cans of whipped cream clinked together causing her to react with a slight jerk of surprise at the sound they created. At Angel’s silent stare, she asked, “Satisfied?”
That male mouth quirked up at one corner drawing her attention to its firm surface. “Far from it.”
Trying to step back, Cordelia found that Angel still held her robe within his firm grip. “I think you’ve seen enough for one forfeit.”
“Who said I planned to stop with just looking?”
“Y-You did,” Cordelia reminded him, completely startled by that question. “Just a peek, you said.”
He seemed to recall saying something like that. “Too bad I didn’t mean it. Just stand still for a minute, sweetheart. Just for a minute.”
Cordelia dragged her tongue over her suddenly dry lips as she realized that she could not move even if she wanted to. He held her close, but her legs felt like jelly. Angel lifted a hand to her hair, tossing away the comb that held the twist in place. Her hair fell loose tumbling into his hand. Pulling her against him, Angel’s cool skin soothed the fire burning her cheeks as one hand came up to cup her jaw and his face pressed against hers in order to bring her scent closer.
Her hands were trapped between them, keeping them far enough apart that his body wasn’t doing more than brushing across hers. It was enough for her to feel the proof of his arousal hard and huge trapped behind the zipper of his pants. Cordelia wished the damn whipped cream cans would disappear so she could run her hands along that bulge. She shouldn’t be standing here or thinking about any of this or letting Angel touch her this way, but Cordelia felt mesmerized by his will alone.
Then Angel’s cool tongue traced the curve of her earlobe, sucking it into his mouth and eliciting a moan that emanated from her solar plexus. It pulled from her very center sounding in his ear like a carnal plea. His mouth whispered across her cheek an answering growl of pleasure and then hovered just above her sensitive lips teasing them with their closeness.
“Don’t,” Cordelia sounded out the word so softly that it took his vampire hearing to catch it.
“Don’t what?” Angel asked her while moving his hands down to curve over her firm buttocks. “Don’t want you? Don’t touch you? Don’t need you?”
“Yes.” Cordelia’s eyes blazed with lust even as her troubled voice sounded out the word that served as an answer to all of those questions.
“Don’t ask for the impossible,” Angel warned an instant before his mouth closed over hers.
Cordelia moaned into his mouth as his lips captured hers. All she could think of as she hungrily kissed him back was that while he tasted just like Angelus, he had his own way of touching her. Those large hands of his were massaging her ass, cupping the cheeks directly beneath her panties now. He angled himself so that his hard-on rubbed along her aching center.
By the time Angel pulled his mouth away from hers, Cordelia’s head was spinning with arousal. She didn’t know how much time had passed, but she was still conscious of the fact that Angelus was waiting for her upstairs. “Let me go.”
His hands didn’t move. If anything, Angel managed to part her legs with one of his own in order to press his erection closer. “Is that really what you want?”
Denying her arousal was impossible. Cordelia knew there was no hiding it from him. That didn’t make it right. “I belong to Angelus.”
The amber tint to his eyes deepened and she watched as Angel’s features changed from human to vampire. “Not quite. You’re mine. You’ve always been mine and you will be again.”
Cordelia thought about screaming, but figured that would only make things worse. It would bring Angelus down here within seconds and then someone was going to get hurt. She didn’t want that.
“Please don’t do this. I should never have let you see me like this,” Cordelia tried to take the blame for it just to give him a way to back out. “Just forget that you kissed me. Forget that you ever asked for the damn forfeit.”
“You’re not that naive,” came the gruff laugh that left her shuddering in its wake. She knew then that Angel wasn’t about to forget anything. Nor was he going to drop this sudden determination to have her for himself. The excitement generated by that thought was equaled only by her intense abhorrence of her body’s reaction.
With a slight tremor in her voice, she started to voice a demand for her release only to have it come out again as a needy whisper, “Angel.”
“That’s right,” Angel encouraged her wanting Cordelia’s complete awareness that it was him touching her. “Say my name again.”
Gasping softly, Cordelia found herself doing just that as his hands moved across the skin of her bottom. “Angel.”
“The sight and scent of you have me hard as stone,” he told her as his groin thrust against her pantied crotch with a slow rhythm. The friction was bringing her to a hard and fast boil as her hips echoed with counter movements. “All I can think about is having your mouth on me. We could try out the whipped cream.”
Her knees buckled causing Angel to hold her steady, but the shock of his words also caused her hands to clamp down on the release valves of the cans. Whipped cream squirted skyward colliding with bits and parts of their faces and plummeting back to spread over other exposed areas. Cordelia dropped the cans to the floor as if they were deadly weapons that she had accidentally set off.
Stunned, Angel and Cordelia stared at each other for drawn-out seconds looking at the bits of white and brown cream clinging to their skin. At any other time, such an accident might have been funny. Something to giggle over as they wiped away the evidence. Things were already too enflamed for laughter and even Cordelia found it impossible to ignore the feelings that exploded like sunbursts within her.
Grabbing him, Cordelia wrapped her arms around his neck and met his descending mouth with her own. He sucked her lower lip into his mouth tasting the chocolate cream dabbed there while being careful not to pierce her with his fangs. Cordelia let out a tiny moue of pleasure and curled her fingers into his hair. Angel’s cool tongue darted into her mouth massaging hers and running across her sensitive palate before moving back so that his lips could slide across hers.
Cordelia found herself following along, echoing his actions. Only her tongue danced with his and licked carefully along the edges of Angel’s fangs before pulling away to seek out areas dotted with vanilla and chocolate goodness.
“Mmm. Angel. Gotta stop.”
Distracted by a dollop of whipped cream lying invitingly in the valley of Cordelia’s breasts, Angel ignored her plea dipping his dark head low to lap up the sweetness on her succulent flesh. A strangled gurgle sounded from her throat at the sensation of his tongue delving into her cleavage. Then his hands crept up to join his mouth as they curled around her plump breasts. In a matter of seconds, Angel manipulated the stretchy material covering their upper curves tucking it into the leather half-cups beneath and exposing her fully to his heated gaze.
Raising his head, Angel met her gaze for a moment, awaiting the protest that did not come to her lips as his thumbs traced patterns across the delicate flesh and teased at her distended nipples. Cordelia found the words of dissent stuck in her throat. She trembled beneath his touch, wanting more, but at the same time hoping Angel would see reason before this went too far.
If it hasn’t already gone too far. A flash of fear showed in her eyes as Cordelia thought of Angelus and she felt the pain of regret stabbing at her heart.
Whatever interpretation Angel made as he read her expression, it brought forth a stunning confession from the depths of his soul. “I’m in love with you.”
The words brought instantaneous tears to her eyes as she was assailed by a mix of joy and despair. Shaking her head in denial, Cordelia gasped, “You can’t be.”
“You can’t be,” she repeated. “You’re in love with Buffy.”
“No, I’m not.”
He spoke with such surety that Cordelia reeled at the news. “I don’t understand.”
Never mind that she was standing exposed under his gaze and to his skillful touch, Cordelia found that she could not process the information. She stumbled back a few steps connecting with the refrigerator door.
“I think I’ve made what I want perfectly clear,” Angel moved toward her with powerful strides and boxed her in against that door just as he had once before. “My plan was to take this slowly, to make Angelus see that I was simply taking back what was mine from the start. To give you time to adjust to the idea, but then you had to walk in here.”
“You didn’t have to look at my outfit,” Cordelia pointed out angrily.
Angel let out a dark laugh. “I said that all you had to do was walk in the door, Cordy. It didn’t take anything else.”
“Oh.” The breathy sound was all she could manage at the moment. Then his hand was at her throat, his fingers moving along the cords of her neck in soft rhythmic strokes. She wanted to tell him to stop, to demand that he stop, to remind him that she was in love with his brother.
Under Angel’s intense gaze, Cordelia found herself closing her eyes and tilting her neck toward his touch. Exposing her throat at its most vulnerable position. Trusting that he wouldn’t hurt her. Wanting something she had no right to ask for even in silent supplication.
Angel’s fingers stilled as he watched her. If he had a heartbeat, it would have stilled from the shock at her submissive posture, something he never would have expected from Cordelia Chase. He licked across his fangs, teasing at their sharp points as if testing his own readiness.
He found himself breathing reflexively. The motions of his chest moving up and down in some automated response to his own anticipation actually provided Angel with instant clarity. “Does your curiosity burn so much that you would actually let me bite you just to find out if it can make you come?”
Flashing open, Cordelia’s hazel eyes turned on him with startled fury. His accusation was uncomfortably close to the truth. He remembered the question she’d asked him last night. Yes, she was curious, but that wasn’t the only reason she found herself giving in to something they both wanted. The fact that Angel hadn’t bitten her was a huge relief and Cordelia suddenly felt she had a chance to get out of this kitchen without further betraying her love for Angelus.
“Move aside, Angel,” she demanded. “Maybe you think you have some right to lord over me because you like to play master. That doesn’t change the fact that Angelus is my mate. That I love him.”
Dropping his arms to his side, Angel straightened to his full height staring down at Cordelia with cold resolve. “Love him, Cordy. Just understand that someday soon, you will have to acknowledge your feelings for me.”
“Now who’s the egomaniac?” Cordelia scoffed at him. So what if he was right and she did have feelings? She had no right to have them, dammit. “You want to bite me? Go ahead. Do it. Mark me. Just don’t expect it to mean anything to anyone but yourself.”
Angel reacted so swiftly and with such fury that Cordelia barely had time to think before she felt his fangs scraping against her throat. She sucked in a deep breath of air and held it in horrified anticipation awaiting his bite as he bent her over his arm and held her hair aside. Seconds passed. Seconds where his mouth and tongue circled her pulse point tasting the spot grazed by his sharp teeth.
Just as suddenly as he had grabbed her, Cordelia felt herself thrust away. Angel let out a harsh growl, his predatory gaze upon her and his shoulders bunched tightly as if fighting for control.
Cordelia caught herself against the kitchen table, standing with a rocky balance. She hadn’t expected him to release her. Goading him— how stupid was that? Only the fact that she had wanted his bite in spite of everything she said to him made her understand the depths of her own foolishness.
“I-I’m not leaving it like this,” she sounded shaky, but it was the best Cordelia could manage under the circumstances. “I’m s—”
“Don’t tell me you’re sorry, sweetheart,” Angel growled and then morphed back into his human features. “I don’t want to hear it.”
“Are you going to tell Angelus?”
A long sweep of his dark eyes suggested to Cordelia that it wouldn’t require words to explain anything. She watched as Angel moved across the kitchen picking up the two cans of whipped cream and the silk robe that had somehow fallen off without being noticed. Cordelia realized that the leather corset was still exposing her to his view and she hastily pulled out the stretchy material to cover herself as he set the cans down on the table top next to her. Angel’s gaze never left her as she struggled with tucking everything into place.
“Give me that.” She snatched the robe from his hands and put it on only to have him twirl her back to face him.
“No, I’m not going to tell Angelus anything tonight.” Angel finally answered as he proceeded to tie the belt with the same loose knot he had undone to begin with. “I won’t have to.”
“He’ll understand,” Cordelia assured him.
Angel countered with a harsh stare. “I’m confident he won’t.”
“I’ll make him understand,” she huffed.
He raised his brows in a doubtful manner. “If you think he’ll listen.”
Cordelia gritted her teeth and growled in fury. “We’ll just see about that, Angel. You just remember to keep your vamp paws to yourself.”
“You happen to like my vamp paws.“ Just to prove his point, Angel swept his hands down her spine and pressed her close to him. She shuddered with pleasure at his touch and her hips automatically curled forward to crush her aching center along the tumescent ridge of his penis. “Apparently, it’s not only my hands that you like.”
“Bastard!” Cordelia grumbled at his teasing as she held on to his thickly muscled arms trying to push him away.
“For your own sake, stop squirming like that, Cordy,” Angel ordered. “I’m trying to let you go.”
“Yeah. That’s why your arms are around me and your hands are on my ass again.”
“It’s a nice ass,” he smirked giving it a squeeze.
Looking at Angel as if he had gone completely insane, Cordelia told him once again, “Move aside. Angelus is waiting and I have some explaining to do.”
Angel stepped back, letting her go. He watched in silence until she reached the open doorway. “Forgetting something?”
Glancing over her shoulder, Cordelia sent him a questioning look. “What? A goodbye kiss?”
That confident smirk was back on his roguishly handsome face. “If you want to give me one, I’ll take it, but I was referring to the whipped cream.”
Blushing furiously, Cordelia stalked back across the kitchen to snatch the cans off of the table. With a clipped tone, she told him, “Goodnight. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
As Cordelia disappeared out the door and headed up the stairs, Angel slowly headed toward the living room. With a certainty that could only be felt by someone who had lived with a separate personality echoing in his head for a century, Angel voiced with grim confidence knowing exactly how Angelus would respond, “Oh, I think it will be a lot sooner than that.”
Taking in a deep breath, Cordelia tilted her head from side to side trying to loosen up her tense neck and shoulder muscles. Holding the whipped cream cans with one arm, she pushed open the door with the other glancing hesitantly around the bedroom for Angelus. He emerged from the bathroom almost simultaneously, wearing his navy blue robe and toweling his wet hair.
“You’re just getting back?” It was clear that Angelus gauged the length of time he had been in the shower with her absence from their bedroom. He glanced toward the bedside table where Cordelia’s bowl of ice cream sat melted and uneaten.
Cordelia licked at her lips nervously, unaware that the action brought her mate’s attention to their kiss-swollen surface. Devoid of all traces of her lipstick, her mouth looked bruised and bee-stung as only thorough kissing could produce. “A-Angelus—,” she began with a quiver only to falter as the words she had practiced on the way up the stairs vanished from her head.
Her vampire mate dropped the towel to the floor, striding to her side with swift steps that left no doubt in Cordelia’s mind that he already guessed what had happened.
“Look at you,” Angelus growled. “You left this room without a hair out of place. Now you’re wild and rumpled and wearing your dessert.”
His fingers pulled whipped cream out of her hair. She looked at the evidence with guilty surprise. Damn Angel for not warning her that she was still covered in the stuff. Not that there weren’t other obvious signs.
“I can explain.”
“No explanations are necessary. I can already tell what happened. Do you want a play by play rerun?”
Shaking her head, Cordelia had no doubt that Angelus knew what he was talking about. His vampiric senses were picking up scents and signs that gave away all kinds of frighteningly accurate details.
“It started out as a joke. A forfeit for lying.” Except that I was actually telling the truth.
“Do you think I care how it started?” Angelus paced before her and his anger kept escalating until he could no longer control his urge to break something. He grabbed one of the cans of whipped cream and threw it with powerful force against her vanity mirror shattering it and causing the vanilla cream to explode and drip between the broken crevasses.
Cordelia jerked back at the noise it created. Then she told Angelus, “He said he loved me.”
“You think that I don’t know what Angel feels? The fucking idiot just realized what he’s been trying to suppress for so long because now he’s suddenly answered the call of the wild and is following his instincts.”
Angelus pulled at Cordelia’s robe opening it up examining her for marks and bruises, knocking the other can to the ground in the process. He yanked the robe off and dropped it to the floor. Angel’s scent was everywhere intermixed with the sweet whipped cream, but he also smelled a trace of blood. Pushing the long strands of her hair away from her neck, Angelus stared at the superficial scrapes on her neck that indicated just how close his brother had come to claiming precedence.
Cordelia trembled under his burning gaze as Angelus turned back to her. “You’re scaring me,” she complained. “Stop being an ass and listen to me!”
“You’ll get your turn, baby.” Angelus took her by the arm and dragged her over to the bed. Tossing her down on its firm surface, he leaned over her. “Stay put. Angel and I are going to have a nice brother to brother chat. After that, we’ll discuss your punishment.”
Angelus swept out of the room before Cordelia even had time to let out a protest at his mention of punishing her for kissing Angel. Except that it had been far more than just kissing and most of the time she’d been letting him do it. Opening her mouth to let him in, kissing him back with a passion she had only ever given to Angelus. Worst of all was egging him on by exposing her neck to him, encouraging his bite just to satisfy some dark desire. Just to fulfill that one lasting need Angelus could not sate.
Betrayal ate at her insides as Cordelia curled up on the bed. Angelus did nothing to deserve this. He’d changed everything that he was because she asked him to behave and fight the Good Fight. He’d proven himself to the Scooby Gang and to an extent even to Giles who would rather cut off his own right arm than to extend a hand of friendship to the vampire who had killed his lover. He’d accepted a truce with Buffy and fought at her side through thick and thin over the past couple of months.
What’s more…Angelus had given Cordelia everything, including his love and his trust. Only to have it trampled upon. She ignored the tears dripping along her cheeks just letting them fall and watching as they formed tiny circles of moisture on the sheets.
Angel was right, she realized. Her mate had not given her a chance to explain. No chance to tell him that nothing irreparable had happened. Except that Angel loved her. She’d managed to squeeze that in during his rampage. That wasn’t something to be erased with a few choice words.
Sitting up on the bed, Cordelia wiped away her remaining tears. Where was the recognition of her loyalty? She hadn’t given in to her desires. Yes, she had them, but she’d said no. Told Angel to buzz off. Not in so many words maybe, but it had ended without biting or any other form of penetration that might be construed as cheating.
Punishment? The more Cordelia thought about it, she knew that was one thing that wasn’t happening tonight. Pfft! Vampires aren’t the only ones with basic instincts. I deserve a medal for ignoring mine.
A huge crash sounded downstairs followed immediately by a series of smaller ones. Leaping off of the bed and ignoring the order to stay put, Cordelia headed out the bedroom door as fast as she could go. Racing down two sets of stairs and following the audible trail, she found both vampires in the midst of a fight in the middle of the living room.
“Stay out of this,” Angel ordered as he caught sight of her standing in the doorway.
Angelus glanced over his shoulder at her only to be grabbed by his brother. “Fighting dirty now? Can’t say it to my face?”
“How’s this?” Angel sent a hard fist crashing into Angelus’ jaw.
Angelus snarled, “Not bad, Soul Boy. I almost felt that.”
“Stop it, you idiots!” Cordelia demanded stomping her high-heeled shoe against the carpeted surface. It made little noise and her command went completely ignored.
“Let’s see if you feel this,” Angel growled, whirling in the air to send a powerful kick across the same spot sending the other vampire reeling back against the already overturned sofa.
“That’s more like it, brother. Now it’s my turn.” Angelus leapt forward wrestling the souled vampire to the floor, his legs pinning Angel and using his forearm to provide pressure against his throat. Had he been alive, the force would have crushed his windpipe. “How many times do I have to tell you for it to sink in? Stay the fuck away from my mate.”
Angel used a lucky move combining it with his strength to flip them over. Punching him across the nose, he told Angelus, “She may be your mate, but Cordelia belongs to me. I rule this clan whether you like it or not.”
“The hell you do.” They wrestled across the floor knocking into the sturdy leg of the pool table before rolling back the other way.
Cordelia had her hands on her hips, tapping her shoe against the carpet, growing more and more impatient with every passing second.
“Before this is over, you’ll believe it,” Angel assured him.
“Is anyone interested in how I feel about this display of testosterone?” Cordelia had to get her two cents in.
“No,” both vampires sounded out identical denials.
They continued to fight and argue their way from one side of the living room to the other resulting in broken furniture and stereo equipment. The fish tank had a close call as Angel was tossed against the wall narrowly missing it.
“I saw your handiwork on the Slayer’s neck tonight,” Angelus struck a painful chord. “Was this another preliminary for more of the same? You’re in so deep that soon no one will be able to pull you out of it.”
“This has nothing to do with the Fates,” Angel pounded into his gut with alternating blows. “Not. A. Damn. Thing.”
Doubled over, Angelus had to admit that he was probably right. His brother’s feelings for Cordelia existed long before the Moirae got their hooks into him. Angel was close. Too close and leaning over for another attack allowing Angelus to strike with a head butt that lifted the vampire’s jaw with a heavy impact.
Cordelia cried out as she saw Angel crash to the ground and watched in equal horror as her mate looked at her with fury in his dark eyes. His swollen and bruised jaw was set tightly as he faced her, momentarily able to do so without constant pummeling.
“I thought I told you to stay put upstairs,” Angelus growled at her as he moved in her direction.
“You expect me to stay up there when you two are down here trying to kill each other?” Cordelia yelled at him and then streaked past him toward Angel who was still lying on the ground trying to shake off the last blow to his head. Putting herself between them, she whirled back around to face her mate. “I love you, Angelus. If you don’t know that by now you don’t know anything about me.”
“Come over here, Cor,” Angelus ground out the words slowly as he watched his brother rise from the floor directly behind her. The dangerous predatory stare from his souled double suggested that he might do anything.
“No,” Cordelia refused to move, unaware of the closing presence of the vampire right behind her. Crossing her arms across her waist, she stood her ground defiantly. “You two need to go to your separate corners and rethink this whole fight strategy. Ding, ding! The round is over.”
Angelus inched forward keeping his gaze on Angel who appeared to be staring at the curve of Cordelia’s neck. If there was rethinking, it appeared to be going on right now as Angel’s expression darkened into one of pure vampiric desire. “Don’t even go there.”
Glancing up, Angel smirked at his brother while closing his hands over Cordelia’s upper arms. “How fast can you get over here to stop me?”
Cordelia wrested one arm free, elbowing Angel in the stomach. It barely phased the vampire, who promised, “I was only teasing, sweetheart. We can’t kill each other and there is far too much fight in both of us to stop now. Angelus is right. You should go back upstairs until this is over.”
Gaping at him, Cordelia turned around in disbelief. “Angel, I have only one thing to say to you right now.”
Watching her mouth close into a pinched circle, Angel wondered how she could get the words out. Then he let out a yelp of pain as her heel crashed down onto his toe. “Cordy! Dammit, that hurt.”
“Good.” She smirked triumphantly.
Instantly, Cordelia found herself in Angel’s arms where he proceeded to wipe away that smug expression with a mind-numbing kiss. Releasing her just as quickly, he found his own smile dropping away as Angelus caught her flailing arm and pulled her close.
“I think you deserved that,” Angelus held her against his chest. “Teach you not to interfere when you shouldn’t. Now it’s my turn to get the point across.”
Cordelia suddenly thought about using her heel on him too. Except that he wasn’t wearing shoes like Angel and she didn’t really want to hurt him. Just make her point.
She found herself reconsidering as Angelus suddenly hauled her over to the upturned couch and flung her face down over the side. Before she could do more than issue more than a squawking protest, the vampire had pulled her panties down to her knees and proceeded to spank her bare ass.
“Hey!” She cried out his name, but his hand came down again on her bottom leaving it stinging and hot.
He didn’t get more than two whacks in before Angel grabbed him and threw him across the room onto the top of the pool table. “Cordy?”
More embarrassed than hurt, Cordelia straightened up and pulled her panties back into place. “I’m fine,” she grumbled as she stared across at Angelus who was now sitting on the edge of the table.
“That’s enough punishment for you tonight, I think,” Angelus told her as if he was being generous with doling out the painful smacks. “We’re not finished down here just yet. Angel and I still have a few things to straighten out. So move that sweet ass of yours, Cor. I want you back in our bed by the time I come upstairs.”
Cordelia was still breathing hard as she looked back and forth between her mate and his brother. It was impossible to deny that she had feelings for both of them. Right now she certainly had lots of feelings and they wouldn’t like any of them. Her anger was so close to the surface that Cordelia wasn’t certain how she was able to fix the smile on her face, but she managed it.
“My ass is more that either of you can handle,” Cordelia told them. “Proceed with the pummeling if that’s what you want, but I won’t be in anyone’s bed tonight except my own.”
Angelus fumed at his twin, “See what you did? You have no business kissing her that way.”
“At least I kissed her!” Angel pointed out. “You spanked her in front of me.”
Turning sharply on her heel, Cordelia walked straight to the foyer. Grabbing her car keys from the hall table, she headed out to her Corvette. Ignoring her exotic attire, she climbed behind the driver’s seat, turned on the engine and sped off into the night uncertain that she would ever be coming back.