Chapter Six

promise


Chapter 6

“I’ve got to hit the little Slayer’s room,” Buffy pushed her empty iced tea glass away. As it seemed that Willow wasn’t going to tag along, she added, “Back in a flash.”

Willow Rosenberg sat with Angel while the usual Friday-night mayhem and madness at the Bronze surrounded them. She saw that the vampire was staring down into his glass of Irish Whiskey, though she had not seen him take a single sip.

“We have to talk,” Willow tugged on the sleeve of his jacket.

Angel looked up with a faraway stare in his eyes, something she caught him doing quite a lot since his return from hell. The first time she had seen him, the vampire looked like he was a different person. Not his usual hunky, heroic, gentlemanly self at all. He was terse, angry at the world and almost scared of his own shadow. Not to mention badly groomed.

Hell apparently hath no mirrors. Even if it did, the vampire couldn’t see his reflection, so Willow couldn’t fault him for that. Giles had told her that time flowed differently in other dimensions. If it was truly Hell or just a hellish realm on another plane, Willow had no clue. It seemed that Angel had spent far longer than ten months in that place, but even he had not been aware of the full passage of time. It was only the last couple of weeks that he was acting semi-normal. He was certainly not aware of the reason Willow needed to talk to him tonight without Buffy overhearing.

“Anytime, Willow,” the vampire was waiting.

Well, she had his attention. “No time like the present. Speaking of presents— it’s Buffy’s birthday next month. I figured we needed to start to prepare.”

A year, Angel reminded himself. It had only been a year, yet it seemed so long ago. “This isn’t something I can be a part of, Willow.”

“Why not?”

Surely the redhead wasn’t that clueless. Angel swallowed down his drink in one gulp and thought he might need another. “What happened on Buffy seventeenth birthday?”

Ooh! Pop quiz.

Willow’s bright smile suddenly fell as she remembered that was when all of their troubles began. “Spike and Dru sent Buffy an arm in a box, part of the disassembled Judge.”

“And the next night?” Angel prompted darkly.

“Oh. Well— uh. Just— hmm. I-I-I don’t think I need to remind you, Angel. Heh!” She scrambled for a way to get out of this conversation. All Willow wanted was to figure out how to give Buffy a small, but memorable eighteenth birthday celebration.

The vampire leaned close crowding into Willow’s personal space as he told her, “That was the night I fucked up everything. Even her. Not to mention myself. Lost my soul and took out your closest friends with a smile on my face.”

“That wasn’t you, Angel,” Willow frowned. “It was Angelus.”

“You just don’t get it, do you?”

Willow shook her head. Apparently not.

“I am Angelus.” The vampire was staring straight into Willow’s eyes as he repeated with more emphasis, “I *am* Angelus. He isn’t everything I am, but I am all that he is or has ever been. A vampire with all the instincts of a creature of the night.”

Willow gulped silently.

“Everything I did as Angelus, I can remember,” Angel told her. “Now ask me if I regret what I did that night?”

“No.”

“No?” Raising a dark brow in her direction, Angel saw her defiant little face. It was her resolve face, he realized. “Is that defiance or just a good guess?”

“I-I don’t want to know.”

“You started this.”

“Did not!” Willow countered crossing her arms like a shield in front of her. “I wanted to talk about presents.”

Angel laughed a sound that emanated from deep in his chest having little to do with good humor. “What do you suggest I give Buffy for her birthday? Jewelry? Roses? Another soul-rending moment in my bed?”

“How about a little respect?” Willow jumped off of the chair, facing him with fury. “It’s not everyday that a girl sacrifices the man she loves to save the world. Remember that the next time you’re feeling sorry for yourself.”

Pushing past him, she stormed toward the main exit of the Bronze.

Stupid vampire! He didn’t need to get so growly just because he didn’t want to celebrate Buffy’s birthday. Maybe Angel even had good reason to want to stay away. That didn’t give him the right to be a jerk.

So what if he’d spent a hundred years in hell. He was now back in Sunnydale and alive— undead again. That seemed like a good reason to celebrate. Angel should be thanking her for giving him back his soul, but noooooo. He was all dark and broody.

In the two months that he had been back, Angel had come a long way from where he was upon his return. Willow wasn’t certain that he was back to his normal self. She had her doubts. He was still acting strangely. Antsy, like he expected the boogeyman to jump out and surprise him. Especially anytime he started thinking about Cordelia. It didn’t even take someone saying her name. Just something that would remind him of her and he was instantly lost in his thoughts again.

Then Angel would be guilt-driven because he had killed her, seduced her and turned her all on that night after Buffy’s birthday. Okay! So maybe she was an idiot for bringing it up. How could Buffy’s eighteenth birthday possibly be as memorable as what followed the last one?

Mentally ranting, Willow charged directly into the path of someone trying to enter the Bronze. Looking up, she gave an automatic apology before continuing on. “Oops! Sorry, Cordy.”

The vampiress watched Willow walk ten feet before she froze in place. Standing stiffly, she kept facing forward. Cordelia heard her heartbeat quicken and her breathing halt as the redhead realized what had happened.

Hello, Willow. Come to me.

Peeping over her shoulder, Willow blinked several times trying to clear away the image she saw there. It was really Cordelia. Alive! Well, not so alive, but not totally dead like they thought. Gosh! Wow! This was amazing. Buffy hadn’t killed her after all.

Willow!

“Oh, yeah. How rude of me.”

Cordelia pulled her aside over beyond the edge of the building and into the alley that led behind the Bronze. She had fond memories of that alley.

“You’re taller,” Cordelia assessed. “And you aren’t dressed like a clown. Good. That’s good.”

“Thanks— I think.”

“Don’t thank me yet, Willow. I have plans for you.”

Willow frowned. “Plans?”

You’re going to help me.

Staring deeply into Cordelia’s hazel eyes, Willow thought about the words sounding in her head. She wasn’t like that stupid vamp, Angel— unwilling to lend a hand even for a happy occasion. Willow was a friendly-type person. Not like some broody creatures of the night.

“Okay.”

“Go to the Crawford Street mansion,” instructed the vampiress confidently. “Wait for me there.”

“Okay.”

Cordelia paused before heading back toward the entrance of the Bronze. “And Willow?”

“Huh?”

“Don’t let my minions give you a hard time.”

“Okay.”

Willow watched for a moment as Cordelia headed into the club. As soon as the vamp was out of sight, she dutifully headed in the direction of the mansion. Along the way, Willow realized that this was the first time she had actually seen Vamp Cordy. Everything Buffy had told her was true. Cordelia was even more beautiful than before and it was almost disappointing that Willow hadn’t gotten to see her game face.

It occurred to Willow that she probably shouldn’t want to see the vamp’s fangy face, but it was still interesting from a purely demonological sense. Then her thoughts drifted to her destination. The Crawford Street mansion. Angel’s house. Why was Cordy sending her to Angel’s house? Oh, well! Maybe one of those minions knew the reason.

 


“Where’s Willow?” Buffy had detoured to the bar to get another iced tea. Hopping up on her stool, she looked at Angel expectantly. He seemed distracted again. “Angel? Earth to Angel.”

“She left.”

“Huh.” Buffy wasn’t so slow that she didn’t realize something had happened between the two. “What was it this time? The ‘you shouldn’t mess around with my soul’ speech? How about the ‘you’re being too hard on Buffy’ rant?”

“No.”

“So?”

“It was the ‘I’m a vampire— leave me the hell alone’ threat.”

“Ah! One of my personal favorites.” Buffy sipped at her tea and then poked at the lemon slice amongst the ice with her straw. “What brought this joyful moment on?”

During the past two months, Buffy had done her best to drag Angel back from the depths of the hell he seemed to be determined to stay in. She wasn’t certain how he freed himself from his dimensional prison, but he had come back to the world literally naked in form and practically feral. Taking him to the mansion, she had kept him there hidden away from Giles and Willow— afraid of their reaction to his return.

In the beginning, Buffy had almost staked him— twice. Two occasions where Angel’s behavior was so vile that she felt certain his soul had never been restored. Those painful moments were difficult to forget, but she was trying. She kept reminding herself that Angel told her he loved her. She needed to believe that even if it was not her name on his lips the moment Acathla’s vortex sucked him in that Angel still loved her.

“It’s happening again,” Angel told her. “Something I can’t describe. Something I can’t explain. That feeling that— I just don’t know. Whatever it is, my demon wants to come out fighting.”

“You’re not used to going so long without patrolling,” Buffy figured. “You miss a good fight. You’re just anxious to get back in the game.”

 


Almost as soon as Cordelia entered the Bronze, there were people flocked around her. It wasn’t like the night of Valentine’s Day when Angelus brought her dancing. This was Friday and anyone who was anybody was here tonight. The girls still known as former Cordettes caught sight of her immediately and were peppering her with questions and comments before she even made it ten steps into the club.

“Omigod! You are so not dead!”

“Where have you been?”

“Girl, you look hot in that dress! I love the shoes.”

“So what was with the cancelled funeral? I’ll have you know I even brought flowers to your memorial at the school and black is so not my color.”

Within moments, Cordelia spun a tale of complete balderdash that had her former friends gushing at the tragic romance of it all. Her parents had apparently discovered that she was seeing an older guy— a mature, but otherwise hot guy. They were planning to elope, but her parents had swept in from Europe at the last minute taking her with them. Some Jane Doe had stolen her Corvette and was dumb enough to be caught dead in it. The police thought it was her just because the thief had her hairstyle and was wearing some of the clothes she had packed in the trunk for the honeymoon.

“What happened to your tan?”

“My parents took me to Alaska. Daddy was working on a financial deal. It’s night there most of the time.”

“It is?”

Trust me.

“Yeah. I think I read about that.”

“You read, Harmony?” Aura laughed at the idea. Then she asked Cordelia, “So when are you coming back to school?”

“Don’t have too. Without my fiancé, there was nothing else to do except study,” Cordelia let out a long sigh. “I graduated early.”

“Wow.”

“That was fast.” Aura wished she was already finished with school. “Why come back to Sunnydale? I figure you would be in LA or New York.”

Cordelia gave her a patient smile. “There is someone I have to see first.”

“How come we didn’t know this boyfriend?” Beth wondered aloud assuming he was the reason Cordelia had returned. “The last guy I remember you being with was— eew! — Xander Harris. Like he is so dead now.”

“Xander? Pfft! As if he had a clue about anything,” Cordelia laughed having forgotten that little detail. “Actually, he’s someone else you know.”

“Details— now!”

Pausing in thought, Cordelia nibbled on her lower lip as though having a difficult time with the decision to tell her friends. “I don’t want to give too much away just yet. Things still have to be worked out now that I’m back.”

“Cordy!” Harmony whined at her friend.

“Just a hint or two,” Cordelia grinned conspiratorially. “He’s got an adorable smile. A voice that will make your head spin. Knows a lot of things about— stuff. Doesn’t go to Sunnydale High, but works there. Let’s just say that I had good reason to visit the library after classes.”

“…”

All of the Cordettes were standing agape and speechless. Finally, Aura came out of her stupor long enough to venture a guess. “Your boyfriend— no, not a boy— your fiancé is actually Mr. Giles? Stuffy English librarian, Mr. Giles?”

Harmony shrugged, “I like his accent.”

“You should hear some of the things he said to me when we were alone in his office,” she gave them a smile. “I told you that high school boys know nothing. If you want it done right, mature men are the way to go.”

“You did it with Mr. Giles in the library?”

The girls let out a simultaneous, “Eew!”

“My parents claimed it was statutory rape,” Cordelia shrugged while trying not to laugh at the three dingbats who were eating up her lies. “They refused to let us get married and dragged me to Alaska to avoid publicity.”

“It’s amazing that no one heard about it,” Aura commented with a gasp.

Beth noted, “No wonder your parents went along with the funeral thing. They didn’t want anyone to know.”

“And I’m so glad that I can trust you with my secret,” Cordelia gave them all a smile of gratitude knowing that the story would be all over town by morning. “After all, if people found out— Rupert might lose his job at the school.”

With a wave of her hand and an overly brilliant smile, Cordelia sent her human minions on their way. All of Sunnydale would know that Queen C was back. Only this time, she was not only in charge of her own destiny, but theirs as well. Silly humans. They would believe anything just to avoid the truth until it came up and smacked them in the face.

It was about time this town had a major smackdown.

Having breezed into town with her new cherry red corvette, Cordelia had barely taken the time to point out the Crawford Street mansion to the six vampires who had followed her to Sunnydale before heading to the Bronze. This was where she would find the Slayer. It was time to put this plan into action and running into Willow so quickly had been a lucky sign.

There were so many heartbeats around her. The smell of human blood pumped by those beating organs through arteries and veins rushed with the familiar rhythm. Lub dub. Lub dub. Lub dub. It was an undercurrent to the music played by the band. A combination of such instinctive force Cordelia closed her eyes and started dancing. As she moved to the sounds and rhythms, the crowd parted before her as if enchanted by her beauty and awed by the sheer power of her presence.

 


“And so I was telling mom not to bother with the college applications,” Buffy continued her conversation with Angel. “Hello, I’m the Slayer. I can’t leave Sunnydale. I tell you, it was like talking to a brick wall.”

The music suddenly died and the entire club seemed to have fallen into silence. Angel was staring blankly into space again. Yeah. Speaking of brick walls. Without a word, the vampire got up off of his stool and moved toward the dance floor as if in slow motion.

Buffy started to get a wiggins. Her Slayer senses were suddenly bounding as she turned to see what trouble had caught Angel’s attention.

Trouble indeed! And its name was Cordelia Chase.

 


Was it only a week ago? Buffy guessed that it might have been less time than that. Just a few days since Angel told her of his plans to leave Sunnydale— and her— behind. Not that Buffy had taken that comment to heart. She denied his decision with her entire being. She was in denial even now that she was faced with the impossible truth that the vampire Cordelia somehow survived and was back in Sunnydale.

Angel kept harping on the fact that things were different between them even though she was willing to put the past behind them. Her ‘you aren’t Angelus’ speech had not gone over very well. There was too much water under the bridge he told her using her own euphemism to drown her in sorrow. Buffy wasn’t about to give up on their past and so reminded him of the night they shared together— before Angelus appeared.

“I didn’t know about the so-called Happiness Clause to the curse, Buffy,” the vampire claimed. “I would never have touched you. How was I to know? It never happened before.”

“Meaning—?”

He let out a wry laugh at her innocent stare. “Meaning that I haven’t lived the live of a monk for the past hundred years.”

“Oh.” Buffy actually found comfort in that thought, strangely enough. Being with her had actually given him joy, happiness, bliss. Then her sudden smile fell away. They could never have that again. Well, it didn’t matter; she steeled herself against their platonic fate. “I love you.”

Pausing, Angel told her, “Buffy, I can’t love you. There are too many reasons why it isn’t possible.”

“But—,” she began to protest only to be cut off.

“Starting with the fact that I tracked down and murdered your friends.”

Shaking her blond head, she told him, “Not you!”

“Yes it was. Angelus exists as more than a dark memory. He is the instinct that drives me forward. The voice in my head— not of reason, but desire. Telling me what I want, what I need and urging me to take it.”

“…”

“Keep the blinders on if it suits you,” Angel saw that she was not going to believe what he said. Buffy was determined to think of Angelus as a totally separate being. “It changes nothing. I killed Jenny Calendar. Snapped her neck and got off on the sound of it. Xander was more than just a mark in my mind. He was in his own idiotic and insignificant way my rival for you.”

Buffy pointed out that Xander’s death was not all Angelus’ fault. At least that was how she rationalized forgiving him for it. “Cordy killed Xander.”

Then Buffy realized she had mentioned the forbidden name: Cordelia. The one thing that really brought Angel to the edge of reason even after being back almost two months. His face darkened with emotions that she could not fathom.

“I was there,” he reminded her. “I sucked down Xander’s blood just as she did. At the same time she did.”

“Omigod!” Buffy suddenly caught the gruesome image in her head.

Angel didn’t stop there. “Cordelia’s little Valentine’s Day gift to me was luring the boy out into the open.”

“Hah! I knew she was responsible,” Buffy glared now happy that she had a really good reason for Cordelia’s ultimate demise in that abandoned mine shaft.

“I am responsible!” Angel thundered. “She was the first Scooby to die.”

Buffy had to ask even though she was certain not to like the answer. “Why did you turn Cordelia? Why not just kill her like the others?”

The demon inside him demanded he tell the truth. If the Slayer wanted to know, then she deserved to hear it. “Why would any vamp turn Cordelia Chase?”

Shrugging, Buffy guessed, “An urge to have your own personal shopper for eternity?”

“I wanted her.”

“…”

“Simple. Obvious. Satisfied?”

“No.” Buffy had never seen any indication of it. The brunette had practically thrown herself at Angel when they first met, but the vampire had purposefully done his best to avoid her. “When did this happen?”

“I’ve always wanted her.”

The confession caused Buffy to stiffen in reaction. Maybe she didn’t want to hear this after all. Angel seemed determined to make her mad. To push her away. Talking about his interest in Cordelia Chase at a time when he was supposed to be in love with her was not only shocking, but a painful betrayal of everything she thought they had together.

“Just think about it, Buff,” the vampire used the nickname that Angelus seemed to enjoy. “That perfect face with its brilliant smile. Her elegant neck just begging to be bitten. The rack on her— made for a man’s hands and mouth. Tiny waist, luscious ass. Legs designed to wrap you up in their embrace.”

Snapping, Buffy had enough. “Shut up! I get the point.”

“Not really. My inner demon wants a lot of things, Buffy. I want a lot of things, but that doesn’t mean I have a right to act on those desires,” Angel told her softly.

“The second you lost your soul you went straight from me to her.”

“A slight exaggeration, maybe, but it will do.”

“…”

Angel stepped a little closer. “You were the light in my life. My joy— until it became too much. Without my soul there was nothing stopping me from just taking everything I wanted. Trying to fulfill my desires.”

This little spiel was so not comforting. Buffy cut through to the part that disturbed her the most. “So— on some level you’ve always wanted to kill me and my friends?”

“I’m a vampire. On some level, I want to kill everybody,” Angel pointed out.

That thought was so scary that it actually made sense.

“It was all about you in the beginning,” his mouth twisted into a wry smile. “What we had together made me forget who I am. Made me feel happy, loved and human again.”

Buffy started to smile.

“Then my soul was ripped away and all that was left was the desire to make you pay for that. Part of me may be human— this outer shell and my memories. The rest is all demon and without the balancing effect and reason that my soul gives me, you are simply my natural enemy: a Vampire Slayer. Don’t forget it, Buffy.”

“So what happens now?”

Angel had been thinking about this for a while, but his mission to watch over Buffy was still in effect. Though he hadn’t done much lately to protect her. Quite the opposite. “I’m planning to leave town.”

“No!”

“What’s left for us, Buffy? A strained friendship. Sexual tension. We can’t be together. You can’t forget about Xander no matter that you say you forgive me. And I can’t forget that you tried to kill Cordelia.”

He wasn’t anywhere near ready to forgive her for it.

“I-I did kill her,” Buffy had to remind him again. God, she hated this part. How many times did she have to describe the fight? Try to convince him that Cordelia was gone.

“No. I heard her,” Angel stressed. “She called out to me. She’s still out there somewhere.”

Buffy paced in front of him. “It was a hallucination. Even Giles agrees. You’d just got your soul back. You were confused, had a sword through your chest and were in the process of being sucked into hell.”

Truthfully, Angel had doubts. He just didn’t want to admit them aloud to anyone—especially Buffy. It would make it seem too real. She had taken him to the site. He had been back there on a number of occasions. Too much time had passed. The trail was cold. There was no trace of any scent remaining that indicated she was even there. No sign of footprints left behind. There was no body below. Any trace of dust had been washed away.

Angel could not sense Cordelia’s presence. There was nothing. It had been so long for him that he wondered if it was possible to sense her.

The mansion, now his home again, was empty. All of his mate’s belongings remained intact. It looked like Spike and Drusilla had packed up the bare minimum and left town on the run. He couldn’t blame them for it.

If Angelus had succeeded, they would have had a few extra minutes, hours or days before hell caught up with them. His failure meant that the Slayer would probably come after the two of them next. Spike was an ass, but he had always taken care of Dru. It was a fact he would never be able to claim with Cordelia.

Angelus had gone ahead with his insane plan to break Buffy’s spirit by killing her friends one by one. If he had not been so focused on the Slayer, Angelus should have taken his mate away from the Hellmouth. That was all she wanted— to go to LA.

Maybe Buffy was right. He was kidding himself. Cordelia was dust. It was far too late for any regrets in that direction. Somehow, he had to atone for what he’d done. Leaving town was probably not the best way to do that.

“I’ll stay, Buffy,” the vampire let out a long sigh of resolve. “Unless I get a sign that my business here is done, I will stay until your graduation.”

“Is that what I am to you— business?”

“You’re more than that, Buffy,” Angel promised her. “You always will be.”

 


Cordelia opened her eyes as the music stopped only to stare into the eyes of her sire. The sight brought joy, confusion and horror. She had not sensed him standing there, nor even sensed him in the Bronze or in Sunnydale in general. She thought him dead.

It was the reason for her return. The fact that the Slayer had killed him was the reason for Cordelia’s plan to avenge Angelus. Now he was standing at the edge of the dance floor and Buffy Summers was hovering at his side. Then she realized what was different and why she had not been able to sense him.

That pesky soul was back.

Taking a single step toward her, Angel noted that Cordelia appeared suddenly skittish. He felt his chest tighten up at the sight of her vibrant and beautiful as ever. A curl of desire flared in his loins, an automatic response to her presence and the memories of their time together. Angel was suddenly hit by the need to assure himself that she was not in any form or fashion a hallucination, wanting to use all of his senses to prove that she was real.

Moving forward only caused Cordelia to mirror his steps in backward fashion. “Stop.”

Buffy tugged at Angel’s elbow. “Let her go. She knows you’re not Angelus.”

The vampire suddenly turned his gaze on Buffy with a look of irritation. “Stay out of this, Buffy. Soul or not, Cordelia is still my progeny.”

He added silently: Still mine.

“I don’t think she feels that way,” the Slayer pointed out. “Just hope that Cordy isn’t here to cause trouble.”

“Give me time to find out,” Angel knew that Cordelia’s return to Sunnydale would likely come with a purpose. She had wanted out so badly a year ago. Why come back now? “I will call you later.”

Cordelia had taken the opportunity to slip out the back exit of the club, but she hadn’t gone far— just into the alley knowing that Angel would follow. The door flew open with a bang as the vampire looked quickly toward the street before spotting her in the shadows of the building’s fire escape. She warily watched his approach.

Now standing only a few feet away, he looked tall and imposing, but Cordelia could tell the difference in him. It confused her, especially since she remembered what Angel was like with a soul. A wannabe good guy and Buffy’s boy-toy. This was almost worse than thinking he was dead.

Strawberry shampoo, Angel recognized the scent as he breathed her in. Sight, sound and scent all told him that this was no mere vision, no dream of Cordelia— but the vampire was not satisfied with that. He needed his other senses to confirm it.

Impatient, Cordelia started to demand answers to the questions filling her thoughts. How had he survived? What was he doing with the Slayer? And what about the soul— was this another curse?

“Ang—?”

Cordelia barely had time to get out the first syllable as her sire yanked her into his arms and silenced her with his mouth. His tongue quested for entry, being granted only due to the surprised gasp that followed. Brushing against her tongue, running its tip across the roof of her mouth, he tasted her and then retreated. Angel pressed against her lips as if testing their shape and fullness. His mouth ate at hers sucking in her lower lip only to nibble at it gently with his rounded teeth.

Even as Cordelia pushed against his chest, she was moaning in response to his voracious kisses. His strength was too great even against hers and Angel did not budge. If anything, he moved closer with his muscular body pressing his hard response into the slight curve of her belly and down to her groin. Taking her shoulders in hand, Angel tilted her so that his kisses could trail down her throat tasting her skin.

The feel of his lips on that highly erogenous zone had Cordelia writhing against him. She curled her leg around his calf to rub herself against the bulge of his erection. Trailing a sharp nail along the side of her throat that was currently not getting attention, Cordelia opened up a small trail of blood.

Scenting this, Angel’s head darted up to meet her lustful gaze before turning his head to the other side of her throat. Opening his mouth, the vampire lapped at her blood drinking in the teasing trickle. He felt his fangs descend to scrape along her neck at the temptation of sinking into her flesh.

Controlling the urge, Angel retracted his sharp fangs and closed up the superficial wound with his tongue. This immediately brought a protest to Cordelia’s lips. “No! Bite me. I want your fangs. I want you inside me.”

Angel’s hands moved up from her shoulders to her face, cupping gently and tracing his thumbs against the high curve of her cheekbones. Then he was kissing her again, but now softly. Every time Cordelia attempted to deepen the kiss, he lifted away only to bring his mouth down again like a whisper over her lips. Smooching gently. Adding the lightest brush of his tongue along the inside of her lower lip.

This was too much. Too much after the shock of seeing him. After the realization that he was not the Angelus she knew, but Angel again. Mmm. He touched her differently with his soul intact, Cordelia realized somewhere in the back of her mind.

Angelus could be a gentle, playful lover— when he wanted to be. That wasn’t what she needed now. Not what she wanted. It had been too long. Too long without him.

Cordelia curled her fingers into his leather jacket and gave him enough of a push to put a tiny distance between their mouths. His continued to hover over her as his eyes told her that this interruption was not going to last long.

“Stop toying with me,” Cordelia insisted while dropping her hands to his belt. She’d had enough of gentle. Grazing her nails across his clothed erection, the vampiress demanded, “Fuck me with that hard cock until I can’t stand up anymore.”

“I’m not done tasting you,” Angel let out a short growl holding her still. Letting her have her way too soon would give her control that he couldn’t relinquish. Not now that she had been without him for a year. Not until he was certain she truly recognized him as her sire and her mate. “Spread your thighs for me Cordelia.”

Next best thing. Panting in need, Cordelia leaned back against the wall moving to comply with his wishes. The anticipation curled in her belly as she watched him sink down to his knees with his hands following along with her curves until they reached the bare skin of her thighs.

Angel pushed up her skirt to ring around her waist like a belt exposing her lacy purple panties to his view. At first, he simply rubbed his face over her covered crotch scenting her arousal. Then his fingers curled into the edges to slowly tug the panties down over her hips. When they reached the lower curve of her bottom, he paused to press his mouth against the soft mound of curls eliciting a groan from Cordelia as she watched his every move.

The panties now stretched over her parted thighs and Cordelia felt like ripping them away herself, only Angel stopped her. “Keep your hands over your head.”

“I want to touch you,” she grumbled even as she crossed her wrists and rested them atop her head.

“Not an option right now,” Angel wasn’t certain he could take it. So he concentrated on her. Lifting two of his fingers, the vampire delved into the cleft of her sex gathering the moisture there. He removed them to suck them into his mouth, staring up at Cordelia at the same time.

The taste of her essence on his tongue caused his eyes to roll closed for an instant, pure pleasure streaming through his body as he confirmed that it was her taste alone. Nothing in her scent or taste hinted at Cordelia being intimate with anyone— recently. He tried not to think about the rest of the year they had been apart.

Cordelia was breathing in short gasps of unneeded air, her breasts straining and swollen against the clingy material of her dress. Opening his eyes, Angel saw those lusciously large nipples pressing hard up against the covering of her no-doubt matching bra and the outer covering of her dress.

Then Angel closed his hands over her thighs, squeezing gently and moving his strong fingers up and down her flesh. Until they connected with the barrier of her panties that were still stretched tightly between her thighs. With a sharp tug, he ripped them away, tossing the shredded material over his shoulder.

Returning his fingers to her wet center, Angel stimulated her until Cordelia was keening with pleasure. He moved one of her thighs to his shoulder, opening her up to his view and then lowered his mouth to her intimate flesh.

“Mmm. Ohhh! Uh— do that with your tongue.” Cordelia encouraged him as her eyelids half closed.

She leaned her upper body back into the brick wall as she gave herself up to the feelings that Angel was evoking. He was so good at this. Knew just what to do. Knew just where to touch. What gave her the most pleasure. His tongue was flicking across her hard nub as he pressed two of his fingers inside searching out the spot that drove her wild.

“Angel!” She called out his name careless of the noise. It was good. So good. So fucking fantastic. There was only one thing she could think of that would make it better. A random thought popped into her head— Buffy Summers.

The Slayer was near. It didn’t frighten her. The thought of Buffy seeing her precious Angel like this made Cordelia cream even more. Get out here, you blonde bitch. As she looked up she saw Buffy already emerging from the darkened doorway.

Buffy’s eyes were huge in her heart-shaped face while soaking in the shocking sight of the two vampires. Angel was on his knees with his face and fingers buried between Cordelia’s legs, pleasuring her with obvious enthusiasm and with the brunette vampiress submissively positioned along the wall with her arms above her head. Buffy wanted to run, but she couldn’t seem to tear her eyes away.

The anguish on the Slayer’s face was enough to send Cordelia over the edge. She cried out Angel’s name as her orgasm made her forget about the onlooker— everything except the sensations coursing through her body. By the time she opened her eyes, Buffy was gone and Angel was on his feet again.

Cordelia’s mouth curled into a smile of satisfaction. “That was amazing.”

Especially with a little Slayer fun on the side.

Taking her chin between his fingers, Angel kissed her thoroughly letting her taste herself on his tongue. “You’re mine, Cordelia,” he enforced his thoughts, lifting his head to stare down into her eyes.

The smile dropped away. “No, Angel.”

“No?”

“I belong to Angelus,” she told him while tugging her skirt down around her legs. “Don’t get me wrong— I love the way you make me come, but you’re not my mate.”

Was he going to have to give the ‘I am Angelus’ speech again? Angel sighed, trying to ignore the erection pressing hard against the front of his pants. “You’re wrong, baby. It may take me a while to convince you, but it will happen.”

“Pfft! So tell me, Angel— were you just teasing me?” Cordelia asked pointedly. “Did you ever plan to fuck me tonight? Is it even possible with your soul in place?”

“The curse!” Truthfully, Angel hadn’t even thought of it. Gasping at the dangers, he realized that the actions he had taken might have given Cordelia precisely what she wanted: Angelus.

“I’ll take that as a no,” Cordelia glowered. “Still say you’re my mate? An impotent one.”

“I am not impotent!” The vampire growled at her pointing out his obvious erection.

With a shrug, Cordelia commented, “Might as well be.”

“I see what you’re doing,” he told her.

“What?”

“Trying to trick me into having sex with you.”

“Hah! What were we doing, dumbass?”

“You know what I mean,” Angel’s dark glare looked dangerously rife with frustration.

Cordelia stepped away from the wall moving back out into the moonlit area of the alley. “Trick you into sex? Just pretend you have a headache, honey. I’ll leave you alone.”

Angel wasn’t finding that funny. He wanted to wipe the smirk off of her face and had thought of two or three pleasurable ways to do it. Only it would be dangerous to follow through with those plans.

He took another approach, leaving sex out of the conversation. “It doesn’t matter if my soul was restored, I’m still your sire— and your mate.”

“Then why couldn’t I sense you were here at the Bronze?”

Stumped him again, dammit! “I don’t know that yet.”

“Uh huh.”

“It’s probably just the time we’ve spent apart,” Angel rushed to provide an explanation of any kind. “The fact that we haven’t shared our blood. It’s been a year for you. Longer for me.”

Confused, Cordelia still wanted to know what happened to her sire, but she wasn’t certain that she wanted Angel telling her. It would be too much of an acknowledgement of his claim upon her and frankly she didn’t know if she could handle being tied to a cursed vampire. Especially now that she was so close to avenging her sire’s loss. Was it now a moot point? Or was the restoration of his soul enough to merit fruition of her plans?

Cordelia decided to let Angel give her the answer. It was obvious that Buffy Summers had some link with him even after the battle. Even after the Slayer had nearly killed her. Even after Angelus had attempted to destroy the world. Whatever that link, could Angel walk away? Could he leave Buffy and Sunnydale behind to give her what she wanted?

“Take me away, Angel,” Cordelia suggested. “The reasons I came back to Sunnydale may no longer exist. If you are my mate, take me away from here. Take me to LA.”

Angel knew this meant trouble, but he couldn’t go back on his word or his mission. “I-I can’t leave Sunnydale. Not yet. I promised Buffy that I would continue to watch over her until I received a sign telling me that my mission was over.”

She waited silently for the penny to drop, but Angel obviously didn’t get it. Did she have to paint the sign in red letters on her forehead? Sometimes, he really was a dumbass. She had never thought that about Angelus.

“Don’t go to LA,” Angel urged that she stay here in Sunnydale.

Cordelia realized that her plans for this town and the Slayer were still a go. “I’m staying at the mansion in the master bedroom. You’re welcome to sleep on the couch.”

“My mansion, my bedroom— and my couch— which neither one of us will be sleeping on by the way. You’ll be in my bed,” Angel countered determinedly as he followed her out of the alley toward her car. “As will I.”


NEXT CHAPTER:   Chapter 7


 

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