9: Judge That, Mr Kama Sutra

friends n neighbors_v9


Judge That, Mr. Kama Sutra

“You’re sure you can handle this?” Cordelia teased still hiding the book behind her back. “As romances go it’s pretty hot stuff.”

A mischievous sparkle hinted that she had selected something extreme. Just like her to twist the knife in a little deeper when she thought she could get away with it. Considering the Kama Sutra comment, Cordelia obviously had formed some idea about his sexual exploits as Angelus though he doubted that touched the surface.

Reading about sex was not likely to shock his sensibilities. “Let me be the judge of that.” Angel promised not to blush and took the thick paperback she offered.

Touching a finger to his chest she said, “Don’t forget to tell me if everything is accurate.” Ignoring the urge to capture her hand, pull her close and show rather than tell, Angel stuck with clarifying their deal. “Only if you tell me the truth, too. All of it.”

“Since when do I cut corners when it comes to the truth? I think it I say it. That’s my way.”

“Don’t I know it,” he muttered and handed over the first book in the ‘Private Dick’ series.

Even though she had already seen the title, Cordelia giggled again and asked him if he was sure it was just a detective story and not a series written for Penthouse or Playboy. “It sounds so skeezy.”

Having expected that she would go back to her own place to read, Angel was surprised when she plopped down on his couch scooting around to make herself comfortable. At first, he was thrown by the notion that she would be a distraction during the time he needed to focus on the critique of the book, but this was hardly heavy stuff. Fine. With Cordelia here he would get to witness each little reaction firsthand. There were so many things her body could tell him that she would not no matter her penchant for speaking her mind.

Angel headed for his favorite leather chair, which was conveniently positioned perpendicularly to the couch. It afforded him the perfect angle to observe Cordelia. He could not imagine that the romance novel was going to hold his interest, but watching her every breath, listening to the pace of her heartbeat tripping in response to the ongoing storyline seemed far more fascinating.

Suddenly, Cordelia’s brown eyes darted up to his, narrowing as she realized that he had not yet opened the book. “Go on.”

He lifted the paperback so that he could check out the cover. Angel noted the title with aplomb. He did not scare easily and he wasn’t about to let ‘The Prince’s Love Slave’ prevent him from going through with this challenge. He would conquer this like any demon he faced, he decided, decisively, and without mercy.

The cover art was quite well done considering the subject matter, he critiqued with an artist’s eye, noting that the heroine was a beautiful buxom brunette wrapped in the arms of a ruggedly handsome dark-haired hero. He wondered if Cordelia chose this book for a reason or at random. The summary indicated it took place in the late 10th century long before his time.

Opening to the prologue he began to read. Unlike the majority of the books he preferred, this one was told primarily from the heroine’s perspective. Caecilia, the daughter of an Irish Chieftain, lived a pampered life protected from the harsh realities of her time. Her caustic tongue often got her in trouble with her parents who planned an arranged marriage for her with the son of their enemy. She was to be the price of peace between their warring clans. It was a daughter’s duty, one she faced willingly, but before their marriage could take place Caecilia’s entire world fell apart.

The perspective on early Irish clans and the social structures piqued Angel’s interest. Having read the summary on the back cover, he knew what was coming next. Betrayal. Her future husband’s greed exceeded his desire for peace. He would not settle for a dowry that included a portion of her father’s lands when he could have it all. Caecilia was ripped away from her sheltered life, sold into slavery, and taken to the Moorish coast of Northern Africa.

The merchant trader who purchased her believed Caecilia to be worth far more than the price he paid. She was examined carefully and determined to be as virginal as was claimed. The merchant was in awe of her beauty, which he thoroughly inspected. Tresses of dark silk fell to her waist. Flawless skin. Bright eyes. Possessed of the sensuous ripe curves a man could enjoy he counted her amongst the most beautiful women he had ever seen.

Distracted by the heroine’s description, Angel’s gaze drifted away from the book toward the couch. Cordelia had scooted down into a supine position holding the hardback novel up to read it. Both legs were bent up, her feet planted on the couch cushion. It was only natural to follow the smooth course of those golden legs, which led him to the edge of her shorts where her thigh met the curve of her bottom, teasing him with a flash of skin. The loose grey top over her snug cotton tank top hid nothing. He knew the curves of her breasts, but the thought of exposing them to the exploration of his hands and mouth made him lick at the seam of his lips.

Caught somewhere between admiration and leering Angel dragged his attention back to the book in his hands. Suddenly, Caecilia was no longer a faceless beauty in his mind’s eye. Every description seemed to fit Cordelia. The dialogue on the page now came to him minus the feminine Irish brogue sounding more familiar even down to the attitude she frequently reserved for him.

The transition was not a conscious one. It happened as he read the story. Caecilia’s independent nature and her forthrightness rankled everyone around her, but nevertheless she was irresistible. The merchant was patient with her always conscious of keeping his prized possession safe for he intended her to be a gift to the Caliph, an act which might secure him more wealth if he was awarded certain trade contracts. Though Angel doubted any man could easily resist having such a woman under his complete control he did not think such a cold bastard would know what to do with her even if he had more immediate and personal plans for her luscious body.

Quite easily, Angel envisioned crushing the bastard’s windpipe, slowly depriving him of air, and finally hearing his neck snap beneath his fingers.

“What’s wrong?” Cordelia sat up making Angel realize that he must have made some kind of audible reaction. He gave her a blank stare declaring that nothing was wrong. “You growled.” He denied it. “I know a growl when I hear one. That was definitely of the growly variety.”

Angel could not really explain it and chose not to try. His stony silence was enough to amuse Cordelia who tried to guess what part he had been reading. Why would he ever imagine reading would be a quiet experience when she was involved? “Shouldn’t you be reading your own book?”

The soft pfft Cordelia released told him his harsh tone did not scare her. Ignoring him after that she set her book down and reached up to remove the hair clip that kept her ponytail twisted into place. It must’ve been digging into her scalp in that supine position, and so the move was meant to make her more comfortable, not tantalize him with the sight of her shaking out her long lustrous hair until it fell loosely across her shoulders.

When Cordelia’s attention drifted back to ‘Private Dick’, he decided to get through the next chapter of his own.

Almost immediately Caecilia was swathed in local clothing, covered head to toe, and taken from the merchant vessel. Before arriving at the grand hall of the palace where she was to be presented to the Caliph the merchant warned her against speaking her mind so freely to her new master else she find herself parted from her tongue or life. Things worked differently in this part of the world.

Angel understood the warning. Restraint wasn’t an easy thing when it came to Cordelia. The insensitive, often hurtful comments she made were rarely intended to rile him up. Tact was something foreign to her. He struggled to keep his reactions hidden by maintaining a blank expression, curtailing the harsh verbal retorts that sprang to mind, and most of all resisting the urge to make his response physical.

Just today, she had been snippy with him when he came to the office. Standoffish. Buttoned up both in attitude and choice of clothing. Completely businesslike as she went about making her phone calls even if those calls had nothing to do with Angel Investigations.

For whatever reason she had needed some space. He gave it to her even though he was not happy about the fact that she cut him off that way literally blocking him from getting closer with a very effective shield of daylight. It was a harsh reminder that certain barriers would always exist, but it was difficult to look at Cordelia, bathed by a halo of sunshine, and resist the urge to be burned.

Ten minutes in his office was all it took before he slung on his duster and headed down to the tunnels. He was pissed off at Cordelia, but more so himself, for the direction his thoughts had taken him. Blaming the demon in him would be easy, but Angel could not do that when it was the hurt of her remarks clouding his heart that set it off.

A perfectly clear image burst forth in crystal clarity, a large truck pulling up on the street outside blocking the light streaming into the window. Before she could react, Angel used the shade to his advantage pulling Cordelia into his arms and carrying her into his office. Being such a pain in the ass deserved a like punishment; he let his imagination go for it. Papers scattered as he bent her over his desk as she screeched in complaint. Yanking her skirt up and panties down, his bare hand repeatedly connecting with her firm rounded flesh making her skin hot and rosy with a few firm smacks. Just a little pain to make her take notice of the fact that he did not like to be pushed away.

His fantasy of revenge turned him on more than he wanted to admit to himself because he was certain it would not end there. Before the idea could go any further a rush of contrary emotions assaulted Angel. The lust pricking at his skin making his body stir played right along with his little vengeance scenario. He railed against it, but there was a part of him eager to explore the thought of her fighting him tooth and nail to gain the upper hand, until finally she gentled to his touch giving him what he really wanted, her warm, willing kisses.

Angel felt disgusted by this lack of control. Increasingly over the past few weeks, he noted that Cordelia was in his thoughts in ways that had nothing to do with her being a friend or his secretary. Methods of shutting her up were no longer flashes of verbal or physical restraint, but often involved his mouth closing over hers giving her barbed tongue something else to deal with.

The page blurred for a moment until he forced thoughts of kissing Cordelia out of his head. It was wrong. The demon side of him did not care. Far darker fantasies crept in now and then. Needs. Having Cordelia living here made it impossible to suppress them all. Over time, he hoped it might get easier to ignore his inner demon, but it just seemed to be getting worse.

The Prince’s Love Slave’ was not helping the situation. Having superimposed Cordelia over Caecilia as the book’s heroine he began to feel far more invested in the character’s outcome. She was about to be gifted to a man three times her age. Angel did not like the situation at all and wondered what Cordelia saw in this book that she kept it around. Examining the cover art again he noted that the hero holding Caecilia in his arms looked nothing like the description of the fat old caliph.

False advertising? A poor representation of the hero? Maybe Cordelia had a secret penchant for older men with love handles. So far, he had found the novel more annoying than sexy.

As expected, Cordelia seemed to be enjoying ‘Private Dick’ despite her prediction that she would find it boring. Little gasps, sighs and harrumphs sounded every now and then suggesting that she was getting caught up in the mystery. Shifting positions again she lay prone with a throw pillow tucked beneath her unwittingly exposing her throat and propping up her breasts. Light and shadows caressed the curvaceous display. His eyes lingered there as he let his senses drink her in. Light arousal clung to her skin proving that she was not unmoved by the subtle scenes describing the detective’s skill in bed.

He knew that scent from the night she returned from the club more than a little drunk. When she convinced him to dance, he couldn’t keep his hands off her. The friction between their writhing bodies was a poor substitute for the real thing, but Cordelia’s delicious arousal stayed with him after he had left her that night. Although Angel felt grateful that she could not remember what happened between them feeling that he had taken advantage of her inebriated state there was no such impediment now— except the curse.

Desire and anger coiled up inside him making him tense up just as his cock stiffened against the jeans. He wore nothing beneath them so the sensation of skin on denim felt good. Resisting the urge to adjust himself knowing that Cordelia might notice, Angel let his attention return to the paperback hoping his lack of interest would cool things off.

For his part in a recent victory against desert brigands, one of the caliph’s sons, Prince Malik, had earned much respect and deserved to name his own reward. Eyeing the bounty of gifts being presented to the caliph that day, the prince seemed to be drawn to her. Though her handler explained what was happening Caecilia did not like her worth being compared to inanimate objects. She was telling him just that when the prince stepped up to take a look at her.

She went quiet upon his approach, as still as a stone statue. Covered by silks the only visible part of her body he could see was her eyes sparkling with defiance looking straight into his rather than being lowered to the floor. When he spoke to her in his native tongue the tone of his voice was almost soothing as if he was trying to gently tame a wild horse. Oddly, she found this prince of a foreign land quite beautiful in form and features. Different than her clansmen, but pleasing to the eye even if he was strangely garbed.

There was no chance of finding her way home again. That much Caecilia understood. Her world was lost to her. All she could do was follow the advice given. Be submissive. Hold her tongue. Learn quickly.

The prince made a comment that amused the crowd. Raucous laughter filled the grand chamber. Angel had the sudden feeling that Malik was going to regret that barb. Sure enough, just as he walked away to examine the next beautiful object in the treasures presented for his selection, an intricately carved ivory box full of gems, the rage that had been bubbling inside Caecilia finally boiled over. It was not that she actually wanted to belong to the prince, but it was humiliating to be overlooked for a few shiny rocks.

Though she had no idea what he said that made the crowd laugh, it was not complimentary. Nor did she stop to think about it. Screaming like a shrew Caecilia ripped the veil covering her head and tossed it at Prince Malik’s feet. The merchant begged for her silence. The crowd gasped in horror and then fell awestruck as they saw what had been hidden from their view.

One look from the prince and Caecilia stopped screaming. He seemed to be amused, but his gaze held a warning that she took to heart. Remembering her lessons on submissive behavior and the warnings not to look those above her station in the eye, she forced her gaze down to the floor where the caliph’s son now stood upon the silken veil.

Angel considered that the prince might order a flogging under such circumstances, but not for Caecilia. There was no question in his mind that Malik would choose her as his reward. The only question was how many pages would it take to get them into bed together. That was the whole point of the book, and yet still there was no sex. He was starting to think he had the wrong idea about these romances.

It did not take long. When Prince Malik claimed his prize just a few pages later, Angel tried to be critical about it. He would have touched her differently. Been more patient. Lasted longer. Despite wanting to find fault with the scene just to prove his point, Cordelia was right about the intensity. Maybe it was just that way because he kept imagining her in the heroine’s place. How was he supposed to answer when she asked if he thought the book was as hot as advertized? The book made him think of her. It gave him an excuse to assume the role of lover. Not that he needed another excuse.

A sudden cry of frustration sounded from Cordelia. “Again with the no goodnight kiss!” Flinging her book onto the couch, she pushed herself into a seated position and then to her feet striding away to stand with her back to him.

The wise thing to do would be to wait it out. Ignore Cordelia’s outburst and get on with the book in his hand. Shutting her out when she had something to say was next to impossible. Besides, he wanted to know what was going on to get her so riled up. “Detective Broderick not living up to your expectations?”

She tossed him a glare over one shoulder, but didn’t turn around. “For a detective he can’t see a good thing even when she’s standing right in front of him.”

Angel knew that she was talking about the novel, but her words seemed to have an echo that called something else to mind. “Maybe he can.” The relationship between Lance Broderick and his secretary Primrose Carson was more of a subplot weaving throughout the entire series than the main theme of the book. He did not want to give away too many details.

“Obviously not. He broods more than you do, always thinking about the case and about that last one that went so wrong. Can’t he take just a minute to notice that she’s not like that blonde bimbo who comes to visit him at the office?”

“That’s a little harsh, don’t you think?” Angel’s mouth twisted wryly. “You’d be calling him something else if he actually kissed Prim while he still had a girlfriend. Besides, the book is written from Broderick’s perspective. What makes you think she wants that kind of attention?”

Wanting to see her reaction up close and no longer willing to let her keep her back to him Angel silently moved behind her. Cordelia startled at his touch as his fingers swept up from her wrist to gently close over her upper arm. As soon as she turned he let his hand drop to his side and waited for her to answer his question.

For a moment, she looked like a deer caught in the headlights of an approaching car. Wide-eyed. Unable to do anything to escape. Cordelia’s face scrunched into an adorable confused expression that gave way to a look of abject horror. “Please tell me this book isn’t just a big tease. They do get together, right?”

“A little cliché chasing the secretary around the desk.” He tried to joke about it only for his laugh to come out sounding awkward. “What about building up a sense of anticipation?”

“Screw anticipation! One little kiss isn’t too much to ask for. It’s not like I thought they were going to go at it right there in the office.”

Angel suppressed a groan at that particular image having let that fantasy play out in his head just today. First on the desk, then up against the filing cabinet, and the door. “Where in the office?” he asked because he needed to know if they were even on the same wavelength.

“That couch he likes so much.” Cordelia’s quick answer proved that she had been thinking about it after all.

Good choice. Detective Broderick spent more time on that couch than he did behind his desk. He often lay there for hours thinking over the details of his case, or slept there overnight when it was too late to head home. Quite convenient for so many things like screwing his beautiful secretary— or letting Cordelia screw him, but keeping it at maddeningly slow pace, with his hands on her hips controlling their rhythm, sliding her up and down the length of his cock, and watching the ecstasy written across her face.

Damn, he was getting hard again, his cock tightening, stretching. The snug jeans did nothing to hide the outline of his erection. If Cordelia needed evidence of Broderick’s attraction to his secretary, he knew she wasn’t going to find anything as obvious as that. Sticking his hands in his pockets was just going to call attention to the bulging denim, but frankly, Angel was feeling too on edge to care if Cordelia got an eyeful. It would not be the first time.

“What made you think he might kiss her?” Cordelia was not far enough into the book for that kind of thing. As far as he recalled, during the first half of the story, the delectable and efficient Miss Carson seemed as prim as her name implied.

“He’s a man. Isn’t that reason enough?” A deep sigh sounded as she moved over to pick up ‘Private Dick’ off the couch where it had landed haphazardly bending a few pages in the process. Cordelia tried to iron them out with her hand and let out a little mewl of frustration when the thick paper stock would not flatten out.

Angel reached over to take her hand stopping her from the futile attempt to make the creases in the first edition classic detective novel go away. His fingers slid across her palm with the thumb brushing across the back of her hand. He started to press tiny circles into her flesh. Cordelia made no move to stop him when he took her other hand in his for the same treatment. At the same time he pressed both thumbs down on her wrists holding there for few seconds.

Eyes half closed she murmured softly, “What are you doing? I’m pretty sure that vampires don’t need to check for pulses.”

“Acupressure. You’re all wound up.” Truthfully, so was he. The rhythmic movements of his fingers against her skin were supposed to induce relaxation, but she was right about one thing. He could feel her pulse racing, a soft staccato tap against his thumbs, which started circling over the pulse points.

A cautionary sigh escaped in the form of his name as his touch changed from soothing to stimulating. Cordelia stepped closer rather than pulling away, breathing irregularly, and looking simultaneously confused and aroused by his caress. Angel felt just as muddled, his nerves on a knife-edge. Torn between desire and the fear of where it might lead. He only had to let go. Nothing had happened yet that he could not take back. No harm, no foul.

Curiosity kindled a craving he could not resist. Leaning down, he grazed his mouth across the pout of her lips thinking maybe one taste would be enough to stop this hunger. He ate the little sound she made when he went back for seconds. With a quick release of her wrists Angel buried his hands in her hair grabbing onto fistfuls at first holding her there until she yielded to his increasingly intense kisses.

Excitement left her trembling hard and the sensation ramped up his own another notch. Thin layers of cotton fabric separated him from her skin as his hands raked down her ribs to curve around her hips. Cordelia clutched at his shoulders for support, and pressed herself up on the balls of her feet to get even closer. Palming her ass he gave the firm globes a teasing squeeze before pulling her hard against him, moaning into her mouth at the contact.

Her tongue, hot and wet, darted in teasingly. Letting her take the lead for a minute did nothing to slow things down. Ravenous, she used all the weapons at her disposal, instinct and passion guiding her actions more than experience. His were not the only cravings that needed sating.

The waist of her tank top rode up just enough to expose a patch of silken skin. Pushing underneath it he cupped her breast, his fingers curving around it, enjoying the weight of it in his palm. He brushed his thumb up to crest across its velvet peak. A wanton little cry emerged from the back of her throat as Cordelia arched into his touch causing a deeper echo from him.

There were too many layers between them. Touching her like this was not enough. He had to have his mouth on her, every gorgeous inch. Reciprocation would not be wise. No, that could get dangerous, but he did not want to think of what he could not have. It did not matter what started this only that he was going to find a way to make it happen, at least for her.

“These clothes,” he growled at the barrier they caused bunching the cotton material up to pull it away from her shoulder exposing tempting curves he needed to explore. Bending his head down he followed the natural path laid out for him making her arch and wriggle into his touch as his hand continued to fondle her breast.

The button popped open on his jeans as Cordelia’s roving hands moved with purpose. Her fingers brushed over the bulge that for the past few minutes had been pressing insistently against her abdomen. Angel’s head dropped low onto her shoulder as he held steady trying not to thrust against the fingertips sliding over the hard outline of flesh pressed up against the denim.

Reluctantly releasing his claim on her breast Angel dragged her hand away from his zipper. “I need this to be about you. Understand?”

Cordelia mewled a protest, but got it. “Undress me,” she challenged boldly. Lifting her arms up above her head she didn’t have to wait long for Angel to peel off the loose grey pajama top she wore over the white tank top. A long pause followed as he stared at the shape of her breasts beneath the thin cotton, their pointed tips and dusky areolas teasing him. Hooking a finger beneath the stretchy strap, he tugged down to expose her to his view and let out a husky moan just before he followed suit with the other letting her top fall to her waist.

With the back of his fingers he traced along the outer curves of her breasts and teased the taut velvet nipples by circling each with a hard knuckle. Before giving into the urge to take her into his mouth he knew that he needed to say something first. Talking was the last thing he wanted right now, but he had started this and allowing it to continue necessitated some ground rules.

Angel did not get any further than moaning her name when the ringing telephone interrupted them. His head jerked toward the shrill sound knowing that it signaled an end to everything that was about to happen between them. A furious curse went off in his head though outwardly he remained silent.

Backing away slowly, Cordelia did not bother hiding her frustration as she pulled up the straps of her tank top. “Noooooo. Not now! Anyone but her.”

The irony of the timing was not lost on him.

The phone rang again. It was an old rotary model rather than a modern push-button phone and had no answering machine attached.

There were only a handful of people with the number to his private line. All but one of them was in Sunnydale, and it seemed that Cordelia had already calculated the odds of who was on the other end of the line. “Aren’t you going to answer it? Buffy’s usually good for coming up with a timely apocalypse or just a excuse to brood for a few days.”

Cordelia’s prodding made him want to forget all about the damn phone and remind her that she wasn’t the only one feeling frustrated by the untimely call.

“Maybe it’s Doyle.” He would kill him later, but it could be something important like a vision. If he were lucky it would just be news of a bar brawl. The phone rang again. Angel moved toward it, but kept an eye on Cordelia who was not going to take that bet.

She had already picked up her grey pajama top and her copy of ‘Private Dick’ before the fourth ring. “Doyle would’ve hung up and called me by now.”

The phone receiver was already in his hand when Angel charged after her. Stretching the cord to its full length, he managed to grasp her wrist before she could dash past him. “Not so fast.” A gentle tug was all it took to reel her closer. He let go waiting a fraction of a second to see if she would fight this or try to run again. Brushing his fingers across her cheek he leaned in to slowly settle his lips onto hers holding them there until he felt Cordelia start to respond.

Angel pulled back only because he had no choice. His voice was rough with want as he said, “Leave the door open,” having every intention of following just as soon as he verified that the world wasn’t about to end.

Proudly defiant to the last, Cordelia paused in the doorway long enough to tell him, “Keep the book. We’ll just call our little challenge a draw. Detective Broody…ah, Broderick…made me hot. Taking it out on you like that, using somebody as a substitute, fictional or real, is just wrong.”

“Cordelia,” he ground out her name.

Just before disappearing into her apartment, she tagged on, “That goes for you too.”

Frustration mixed with anger as he watched her slide the heavy metal door shut and clicking the bolt into place.

Was that supposed to mean she thought he was just using her because he was worked up about ‘The Prince’s Love Slave’? Kissing her had nothing to do with the damn book. Okay, yes it put ideas into his head. Intensely hot, smolderingly sexy ideas that he had no business dreaming up much less daring to make happen.

God, she infuriated him. He wanted to rip that door off its hinges and—

“Angel . . . Angel . . . are you there?”

Staring down at the source of the voice and recognizing it instantly, Angel realized he had to be the unluckiest person he knew. Doyle had not had a vision to be dealt with, or a bar brawl, which he could easily dismiss for now. Cordelia had jumped to exactly the right conclusion. It could not be put off any longer.

Lifting the receiver to his ear, he spoke slowly, trying to control the emotions raging through him. “Buffy, it’s me.”


CHAPTER LINKS

Chapter 8          F-n-N Home          Chapter 10


 

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