Angel’s hand held fast to the door handle as he heard Willow bellow, “Dumbass! It’s about your soul.”
Her use of Cordyisms, those quaint little phrases, nicknames and friendly insults, kept rolling off her tongue like she was born to them. Just another sign of the thrall Cordelia had placed her under, the major side-effect of which was Willow’s unwavering devotion and sudden attraction to her mistress.
The redhead’s pursuit of Cordelia had prompted negotiations for more personal attention, which Angel had quickly shut down. Cordelia was his mate and not up on the auction block. Pet or no pet, Willow would have to be content with being shopping buddies rather than delve into the more intimate aspects of the role.
Now Willow stood on the other side of his bedroom door claiming knowledge about his soul. If anyone knew anything about it, she would be the one considering that it was her mystic abilities that restored his soul again. Giving in to curiosity, Angel slowly opened the door to readmit her into his room.
“What was that?”
Nervous, Willow realized he could probably sense that. As an ice-breaker, she muttered, “Sorry. You’re not a dumbass.”
The look she got actually made the room feel even icier than before. Apparently, Angel had no sense of humor. Unless he was still mad at her for suggesting that he should let her be with Cordy. That might explain the shadowed eyes and growly expression. The big meanie just doesn’t like to share, she thought huffily. Willow resolved that if the direct approach wasn’t going to work on the vampire, she would put her backup plan into play.
“My soul, Willow?” Angel prompted the girl who made a habit of getting sidetracked.
Willow smirked inwardly. If Plan A fails— just move onto Plan B. She only hoped that she didn’t need a third option because Angel was just too experienced with deception. If he had any inkling of what she was thinking, the vampire would definitely toss her out on the street and bar all contact with his mate.
Dragged out of her thoughts, the witch found Angel staring impatiently. “Huh?”
“You were going to say something about my soul.”
Gathering her courage, Willow pressed on. “I don’t want my feelings for Cordy to get in the way of our friendship, Angel. I want you to be happy. If you’re happy then Cordy will be happy and then I’ll be happy too.”
His head was spinning trying to keep up with her. Happy, happy, happy people. Willow babble was akin to a foreign language as far as the vampire was concerned.
“Uh— happy,” Angel nodded. He’d gotten that much out of it.
Willow shuffled her feet, “There’s something I didn’t tell you when you appeared back in Sunnydale from wherever you were.”
“Yeah. At first, I thought you had enough to worry about. You weren’t— well. Then I realized what would happen if I spilled the beans about your soul,” Willow explained. “Open Angel season. Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.”
“Torpedoes?” Angel was seriously getting confused. He was hoping this conversation would eventually make sense. How did talk of torpedoes lead to concern over his soul?
“Definite bone jumpage would have resulted,” stressed Willow. “You were mourning Cordelia at the time. It wouldn’t have been fair.”
“Are we talking about navy battles and bone yards?”
Willow crinkled her nose. “No— Buffy.”
Ah! The missing link. Boning Buffy. Now he got it. “You were worried about my soul if we resumed our relationship.”
“Yes,” Willow admitted, “I was worried about you two starting up again, but that’s not the point.”
Angel figured he wouldn’t like her point. It was sure to lead back to negotiations for him allowing Willow more intimate access to Cordelia. The teenager was too enthralled to get the fact that wanting any vamp to snack on you was not a healthy long-term relationship, especially a vampiress with a large, brooding, jealous mate.
“What is the point?”
“Duh! Like I haven’t been talking about it for the last five minutes?” Willow looked a bit peeved at him. Taking the direct approach, she blurted, “Your soul is permanent.”
“Wh— permanent?” Angel stumbled as he parroted back the word hardly aware that she watched his every reaction.
Nodding, Willow told him. “I altered the restoration spell. Left out the happiness clause.”
The impact of a permanent soul brought endless possibilities into Angel’s existence. The most important of which was no more Angelus. He felt a heavy weight lift away from his shoulders, the burden of binding his demon by sheer will alone was now gone. Angel was fully aware that this news had an impact on Cordelia as Willow suggested— an impact on their happiness together.
There would be no need to hold back his emotions, no need to keep his demon close so that he would remember the risks. No losing his soul because he allowed himself a single unguarded moment of bliss. The times he had struggled with that and against the feelings that only continued to grow every time he held Cordelia in his arms seemed countless. It had been a danger every time she walked into the room and flashed her smile.
“Why tell me now?” Angel’s cynical side knew there was a catch. “More negotiations? I already told you to forget it.”
“Okay. Forgotten,” Willow assured him. Not! “Talk to Cordelia about what I’ve told you. Let me know if you have a— change of mind.”
Angel looked down at Willow’s guileless expression. She was getting better at hiding her emotions. No blushing. No change of posture. Heartbeat steady. Just a cute little poker face.
“Close the door on your way out,” he told her. “I need time to think.”
As Willow pulled the door shut behind her, a triumphant smirk spread over her features. If she couldn’t have what she wanted, then at least she could ensure that Mistress Cordy was not denied anything. As crazy as it sounded, Willow would give her anything she wanted including Angelus.
Having abandoned her vigil outside Rupert Giles’ house, Cordelia headed home to the Crawford Street mansion. The conversation with Spike had unsettled her. Spying on Giles and his Watcher Council buddies lost its thrill.
Cordelia found the idea disturbing. What was love to a vampire? Spike and Dru seemed dedicated to one another. They had remained together for over a hundred years excepting the recent breakup and reunion. As far as the bounds of vampire relationships went, they had something that kept them coming back for more.
Her sire had claimed her as his mate and Cordelia had delighted in it. Angelus brought her into the night. Gave her this existence. Tied them together by bonds she thought were unbreakable. The soul added a different layer to the bonds, but it was no less strong for it. She had chosen to reclaim their link. Angel— her mate.
Gack! Was she actually brooding about love? That was so not right. Want. Take. Have. That was what it was really all about. That and the normally obsessive possessiveness in her nature. The blood that linked their bodies. Peel away the human past, the appearance, the memories and they were just following their demonic instincts.
The stirring sensations that knotted up in the space between her heart and her stomach every time Angel was near hinted at that possibility. Was it just the need to have her sire near? The pull of their blood? The instinctive call of her mate? What was love if it wasn’t all of those things?
Cordelia’s mouth curled upward at the thought of him picturing his handsome human and demon features. So different with the soul present. So much the same. Yet there were boundaries that she could no longer cross with Angel. Walls he put up between them that she knew were built to protect everyone he else cared about in this accursed town.
Those were walls she wanted to break, to knock down until there was only a cloud of dust left behind. Cordelia knew that she would not attempt it. She knew it after their first night together upon her arrival in Sunnydale. Such an act would not only defy her sire’s wishes regarding his existence, but would no doubt destroy any feelings he had for her. That was a risk Cordelia was unwilling to take.
Loving Angel suddenly sounded so right in her mind. She felt like shouting it out at the top of her lungs. Instead, she pulled out her cell phone. Pressing a couple of buttons, she suddenly heard ringing coming from behind a tree slightly downwind. Cordelia flipped the phone closed, not bothering to wait for an answer.
Reaching behind the tree, she pulled out Willow who was still holding the matching cell phone Cordy had given her. “Now you’re spying on me?”
“Not spying,” Willow pouted. “Following.”
“Pfft! Just as bad.”
“Jude was walking me home when Spike came along. He said you were at Giles’ house,” the redhead explained. “I didn’t see much of you today so I snuck out again after they left.”
“It’s three a.m.,” Cordy pointed out. “You have school this morning.”
The mention of the time only made Willow yawn. “Don’t wanna go to school. I want to be with you. Don’t make me go.”
Cordelia realized, “Geez! I’m not your mother. Besides, I was calling to tell you to that I need your help to seduce Angel.”
Droopy eyes suddenly opened wide as Willow processed Cordelia’s words. “You’d better tell me that again, because I just had all kinds of pictures pop into my head that just do not belong there.”
Rolling her eyes, Cordelia warned her lightly, “Naked Angel is my domain, pet.”
“Since when do you have problems seducing Angel?” asked Willow rather sleepily. Snort! Like she could help Cordy with that. “Just walk into the room and you’ll have instant seduction.”
“So true. Hello, I am Cordelia Chase,” the vampiress responded with a haughty tilt to her head and paused just long enough before letting out a laugh. “It’s not the end result that’s in question, Willow. I just wanna have fun getting there. For that I need your help with a little magic.”
Magic. Obviously no hands-on assistance required. Damn! Willow refused to pout. This was actually going to fit in quite nicely with her own plans. When Angelus returned he would be so grateful that Willow helped him lose the soul that he would let her have just about anything she asked for. What did a vampire without a soul care if his mate paid a little attention to her pet every now and then?
Wide awake now, Willow was eager to start planning this seduction scene. Not that she knew much about it herself, but Cordelia could fill in the details and she would give it a little push to help things along.
“So when are you doing it?” She asked Cordy, then blushed at the way she had phrased the question. “I mean your plan. Soon, I hope.”
“Why are you so eager?”
“Better to go for it now when the idea is firm in your mind.”
“I hope that’s not the only thing that’s firm,” Cordelia waggled her eyebrows.
Willow squirmed. “Cordy!”
“Now I’m having naked Angel thoughts. Mmm! Yummy goodness.” Cordelia licked her lips as if she could still taste his mouth on hers. “I’m not sure that I want to wait, but this can’t happen now. It has to be after the next sunset. That seems so far away.”
“Why wait?” Willow wasn’t certain that Angel would want to delay sharing his news with his mate. Simultaneous news sharing and seduction would involve a high percentage of the bliss factor.
Cordelia found it odd that Willow seemed clueless about the importance of the day to come. “This is the day that changed everything.”
Instantly, Willow realized what she meant. “Today was Buffy’s eighteenth birthday. I forgot about it.”
“Sorry you missed it?”
“No. Buffy’s not speaking to me. Mainly because I stopped listening to her, but I don’t think having me show up with a present would be appropriate.”
Cordelia thought about sending Buffy a gift, but the type of present she would have picked would have made Angel angry. That was not the emotion she wanted to evoke right now.
“Sunset will mark the one-year anniversary of the night Buffy lost her virginity, Angel lost his soul and I lost my life so that I could be reborn as a vampire.”
“Uh— yeah. See your point. Definite reason to celebrate.” Willow hated that night, but then again if those things hadn’t happened she would not be best friends with Cordelia Chase. Now that she thought about it, Willow loved that night. It was definitely a good night.
“Lets go, pet,” Cordy hurried her along. “Last minute shopping.”
“What’s first?” The redhead asked imagining silky, lacy, leathery things along with toys that the vampires seemed to enjoy. Rummaging through Cordelia’s things was rather eye-opening at times and Willow knew that the vampiress allowed her explorations mostly because she was amused by her reaction. “Perfumed bubble baths? Scented candles? Body oil?”
“Something I don’t already have,” Cordelia waved off the ideas. “Though you’ve got a point, Willow. I thought you said you couldn’t help with this seduction.”
Willow was rushing beside her as the vampiress moved with a speed slightly faster than her normal gait. “Imagination is my strength.”
“We’re going to the 24-hour WalMart. I need mirrors.”
“This is late even for you, Slayer,” commented Spike as he found Buffy sitting atop a tombstone. Having gone to the Bronze for a couple of hours after leaving Jude and Willow, he left only when the club closed.
Buffy slowly turned her gaze to his not even bothering to pick up the stake that rested next to her. “Oh look! It’s the peroxided pest. My best birthday present ever.”
“Want to unwrap your present, luv? There are surprises inside.” Spike gave her a leer and hooked a thumb inside the waistband of his jeans.
“What do you want, Spike?” The question came out glumly and not with any of the spark she normally put into their usually brief conversations.
Since the Slayer did not appear to be interested in jumping off of the tombstone to stake him, Spike chose a spot directly opposite her position and stood close. “What does any vamp want with you? I want to bathe in your blood, fuck you, break you and suck your life away. Not sure which one I want first. Suggestions?”
The eyes staring at him were cold. There was no heated quip. No clenched jaw. She did not even bother to threaten him.
“What the bloody hell is wrong with you, Slayer?” It seemed to him like the blond bint was depressed. “If this is your birthday, you should be out partying not moping about in the cemetery like an overripe zombie.”
Buffy managed to get out a half-hearted curse and added, “Shut up, Spike. Go away.”
“Not until you tell me why your head is shoved up your ass,” Spike argued. “Tell Uncle Spike what’s on your mind.”
He actually hopped up onto the large tombstone next to Buffy while also managing to toss her stake on the ground. The look on his face seemed almost genuine and suddenly Buffy found that the feelings that tightened her chest and closed up her throat were pouring forth. She spilled it all.
“There was no party. My mom has been sick. My friends are dead, vamped or ignoring me.”
Seemed like legitimate reasons for depression.
“I’m so tired of this.” Buffy figured that Cordelia told Spike about the evil plot against her. Cordy had taken up where Angelus had left off, but apparently a quick kill was too merciful. She wanted to drag out the pain.
She told Spike about Giles. “The Watcher’s Council came today. Giles is going back to England.”
“No Watcher?” Spike tried to hide his glee.
“They brought a replacement. A know-it-all with a snooty name. Mr. Wesley Wyndam-Price at your service.”
“I hardly see Willow anymore. She— forgot my birthday today. Guess I shouldn’t be surprised considering how much time she spends at the mansion.”
Red had an excuse. She was enthralled. Spike wasn’t going to give that one away without good reason. Not unless he particularly wanted Cordelia to crush his balls under the heel of her shoe.
“Even Angel forgot. You’d think he would remember.”
Spike had to point out, “Peaches has distractions.”
“Queen Slut,” mumbled Buffy.
“Jealous?” Spike figured she had reason to be.
“No.” It came out as little more than a whisper.
Buffy’s head was turned away refusing to look at what she thought would be triumph in his eyes. Then Spike’s cool fingers curved around her jaw bringing her about to face him. There was no censure in his bright blue gaze, just a determination of unknown origin. As the first of her tears gathered on the curve of her cheek, Spike leaned in to brush it away with his lips.
Then his mouth covered hers as Buffy let out a gasp. She was so startled that she did not move. Not at first. Not when his lips came over hers in such a gentle way that it was little more than a soft caress. His mouth moved against hers following the bowed shaped of her lips. Only after Spike’s efforts pulled a moan from her throat did he attempt to deepen his kisses.
Buffy found herself responding to the cool and tender sensations. What she was feeling was far better right now than wallowing in her thoughts. Opening her mouth a bit wider, she touched her tongue to Spike’s tasting the strange mixture of dark flavors that was uniquely him. Buffy ran her tongue along his bottom lip and then alternated kissing lips with him. Lower lip. Upper lip. Touch. Taste. Forward. Retreat. Smooch. Lick. Mindless stirring pleasure kept her coming back for more.
The hand that had cupped her jaw no longer needed to maintain that position. Spike let it move up so the silk of her hair fell through his fingers before fisting it in his hand. Every passing second changed the sounds and scents he sensed. Her quickening heart beat was steady, but noticeably faster. Little moans emanated from the back of her throat as her soft breath panted upon his face. Her scent alone made him hard. That heady Slayer scent mixed with warm vanilla and the spicier enticement that was the first hint of arousal.
It surprised him, causing Spike to part their mouths long enough to stare down into her heavy-lidded eyes. The pupils were larger than usual even here in the moonlit darkness of the night. He saw a flash of something in those eyes that he took as acceptance. Surprised at seeing it, Spike didn’t take the time to ponder the reasons. He simply brought their mouths together again now a little less careful, meshing lips and probing tongues. More voracious kisses that filled him with the taste of her.
Using his strength, the vampire swept her off of the tombstone to straddle his lap never once breaking the kiss. Buffy let out a gasp as she settled on to his hard bulge, but it was a good feeling. Not like the feelings that had filled her so recently. Spike’s arm curved around her back and he yanked her hard into his lap pressing her groin into his.
“Slayer,” he muttered now kissing his way across her jaw to the pulse of her throat.
“Spike.” The name on her lips came out as a groan. Buffy called out to him again as his tongue darted along the sensitive flesh of her throat and his lips nibbled their way from the spot behind her ear down to her collarbone and back again.
Her head lolled back exposing her throat even more when Buffy’s humming body gave her a signal that jerked her out of the pleasurable place Spike’s kisses had taken her. Her Slayer senses kicked in and Buffy felt the difference as his face shifted even while Spike kept his mouth on her skin.
Almost curiously, Buffy waited a couple of seconds to see what Spike was going to do next. He lapped softly, kissing the cords of her neck and his mouth gently sucking at her flesh. Strangely, it felt awesome.
Buffy’s hands, which had been clinging to Spike’s shoulders, now moved up to clasp his head. She hissed in his ear as his sharp fangs scraped superficially across the surface of her throat. Then Spike licked up the tiny trail of blood left behind feeling a rush as it touched his tongue. Slayer blood. Spike breathed it in and moved his tongue around his mouth to get every drop.
Just as Spike leaned in for more, Buffy gave his head a strong pull separating them. His vampiric eyes glittered with dark arousal. There was no mistaking that she was making out with a demon, but this wasn’t like it was with Angel. Here, there was no excuse of the presence of a soul. Just a vampire— a killer.
“Is this the lead-in to draining me?” Buffy queried. “Distract the Slayer with a kiss and let the bloodbath begin.”
So the fun was over, Spike realized and promptly lifted her to the ground. Standing, he adjusted the crotch of his jeans to a more comfortable position. “No, luv. When I kill you, I want a little spring in your step. A challenge. Not this sad excuse for a Slayer.”
Buffy digressed quickly from feeling the rush of his kisses back into the pit of gloom. What kind of Vampire Slayer was she? This wasn’t how vamps and their Slayers were supposed to get physical. Obviously, she hadn’t learned her lesson the first time.
Reminding her of the night he sought out her assistance against Angelus and the threat of Acathla, Spike returned the words Buffy had used on him. The ones that had acted as a slap in the face, “Right now, you’re too pitiful to kill.”
Bastard. As she thought the word a glint returned to the depths of her gaze. Spike latched onto it and stayed focused. Moving in close again, he added, “That doesn’t mean you’re not worth a quick tumble.”
C’mon, Slayer, hit me, he urged silently. Show me that spark.
Spike was leaning back toward Buffy’s bowed mouth determined to get some kind of reaction out of the chit when a large four-legged creature bounded out of the darkness landing on both of them. Letting out a short cry of surprise, Buffy reacted instinctively by thrusting Spike aside in order to deal with the hairy beast.
Then she realized that it was just a dog. A huge furry monstrosity of a dog that was nearly as big as her. A small glob of slobber dripped from its mouth as it gazed down at Buffy with its keen eyes. It wasn’t attacking her, just acting playfully in a friendly doggy kind of way.
From his position on the ground nearby, Spike groaned aloud as he realized Drusilla had sent her hellhound after him. The vampiress had not wanted to come out with him tonight as he had been planning to play pool, but apparently he had stayed away too long. It was the one real trick she’d taught the pooch— fetch Spike.
Her dog’s timing sucked. Muttering, “Bad Puppy.”
Buffy heard Spike censure the dog and remembered the tiny pup from only a year ago. “I don’t believe it. This is Puppy?”
Hearing her speak its name, the dog lowered its head and proceeded to lick at her face. “I- ugh! Stop. Puppy! Gross. Enough with the doggy kisses. Ick! Dog slobber.”
Pushing Puppy aside, Buffy struggled to her feet and wiped at her face. Laughing at her, Spike commented, “Still upset at my kisses, Slayer?”
“Guess whose kisses I preferred more,” smirked Buffy as she patted the dog’s head.
“If you say Puppy’s then you’re one helluva liar, luv.” Spike was about to order the dog to head toward the mansion when he suddenly remembered what happened the last time Puppy returned smelling of Slayer scent. Dru noticed immediately and blamed him for letting the Slayer contaminate her pet.
Now he was gonna need about six bottles of dog shampoo and a blow dryer. When Spike suddenly asked if she could run an extension cord outside her back door and described what he had in mind, Buffy found herself laughing aloud. There was a hint of darkness in her voice, but it held no sign of the misery that had been clouding her. “Spike— Puppy’s not the only one who’s covered in my scent.”
Angel slammed shut the door blocking out the first rays of the dawning sun as he swept inside at the last possible second. Pressing his back into the wooden door, he was struck by déjà vu. Almost a year ago he had done this, searching Sunnydale for his mate without finding a trace. Now as then, the vampire felt deep in his gut that Cordelia remained alive and assured himself that he would know it if she was dead.
Only this time, he had not been alone in his search. Spike and the minions reacted with as much concern when Cordelia did not return during the wee hours of the morning. As with many of her outings since coming to town, she had gone out on her own. The blond had vampire returned from his encounter with the Slayer nearly two hours ago and found his grandsire pacing the floor.
“No sign of her?” Spike asked him now though the answer seemed obvious. Otherwise Angel would have the chit with him. “No indication of trouble at the Watcher’s house. His council buddies finally left and he was all tuckered out. Looked a little pissed when I woke him up to ask if he’d seen Cordelia. He has a surprisingly good vocabulary of expletives.”
Angel had been a bit surprised that Cordelia had been hanging out at Rupert Giles’ house, but he had no reason to doubt that Spike saw her there. “Where did she go from there?”
“I tracked her from the Watcher’s house through the cemetery,” Spike told him, “but it only led to the church parking lot. Cordy had the Corvette.”
Angel had asked Spike to go knowing that Rupert Giles was still wary of him considering that Angelus had tortured him and killed his girlfriend. “I had no better luck at Richard Wilkins’ place. Whatever Cordelia is scheming, she wasn’t there tonight.”
One by one, the minions reported their findings. Jude informed Angel that he awakened Mr. and Mrs. Rosenberg in order to question Willow. “They told me she was staying at the Summers’ house. I didn’t tell them otherwise, but I think we all know that was a lie.”
“Red snuck out of the house?” Spike thought this enthrallment was getting to be a pain. It was getting hard to make the little witch behave.
Nodding, Jude told him, “I followed her scent, but it led to the cemetery where you were tracking Cordelia. They must have met up for some reason.”
Angel was actually relieved at the idea rather than any one of the other scenarios he had envisioned. “So there was no indication of Buffy’s involvement in this?”
“Uh— no.” Spike pointed out. “Slayer was actually otherwise occupied tonight.”
“Oh?” Angel paused to ask just as he caught the expression on the other vampire’s face. “On second thought— don’t tell me.”
Spike wasn’t planning on it.
“The Bronze was shut up tight,” Tom reported. “I checked it out anyway, but no sign of the mistress.”
Keanu had gone to Willie’s demon bar with Mel and Brad. “There was no word on the streets of anything going down tonight.”
“Dammit!” Angel growled as he strode away from the door. “Where is she?”
Dru suddenly appeared at the top of the landing staring down at them. She had refused to take part in their little search and even kept her freshly-scented Puppy with her. “Silly boys. Cordelia and her Willow are just fine, my Angel.”
“How do you know that?” Angel bounded up the stairs two at a time to stand by her side.
“The ringing told me.”
Angel guessed that she had a vision. “The stars sent you a message?”
“The stars twinkle,” Dru corrected. “The telephone rings.”
Crooking a finger under Drusilla’s chin, Angel held her still. “When did this call come?”
With a sigh, Angel figured that Drusilla probably thought their frantic search for Cordelia was an amusing game of hide and seek. “What did Cordy say when she called?”
“Something about being stuck at Wal-Mart.”
“Wal-Mart?” Keanu gasped overhearing them. No wonder they had not found Mistress Cordy before the sunrise.
“Cordelia and Willow went on an all-night shopping spree?” Angel was glad it wasn’t his bank account in such jeopardy. “Is there a reason you didn’t tell me about it?”
“Yes,” Dru answered with a smile.
Angel prompted, “And that reason would be what?”
“It’s a secret.”
The creak of the door caught their attention and the vampires darted out of the light that filtered in through the cracks as it opened wide. Willow stepped into the room instantly darting out of the way to make room for the running figure swathed from head to toe in a steaming burka.
“Close the door,” Cordelia’s muffled voice came from beneath the confining layers. “Get me out of this thing.”
After slamming the door shut, Willow dropped the keys to the Corvette onto a table in the center of the foyer. A quick glance around the room showed the entire membership of the household in various states of irritability. Drusilla was the only one smiling, but that was clearly in anticipation of knowing what was to come.
Her minions were already crowding around her murmuring their relief that their mistress was alive and apparently well. For the moment. They scattered apart as Angel descended the stairs and crossed the foyer with a growl sounding under his breath. He barked out at them a dismissal, “Goodnight!”
Without a word of protest, all five backed away and disappeared into other parts of the mansion.
Pulling the hot cloth away from her head, Cordelia found Angel standing directly in front of her. She knew her mate had been anxious for her return even before meeting his gaze. After removing the rest of the confining garment that completely covered her, Cordelia looked up only to react with a start. Angel’s expression was one of intense control. Any second now, she sensed it was going to break.
Even so, when Angel reached out and yanked her against his hard torso, Cordelia was not prepared for the fury behind his kiss. The hard swipe of his lips came close to bruising as they traced hers. Angel’s mouth pressed open her lips to delve inside tasting her on his tongue as he wound his fingers through her hair to hold her in place. Not that he needed to since her arms moved around his back to clasp his shoulders. After the initial shock, Cordy returned his kiss voraciously eating up the no-holds-barred manner in which he claimed her mouth.
Then his rounded teeth nipped her lip causing her to let out a small cry as it drew blood. Angel sucked away the crimson stain taking the lip into his mouth laving it until the wound closed. It was one thing to be anxious, but this behavior seemed strange. “Angel?”
Breaking away from the embrace, Angel held his mate at arms’ distance still looking at her with barely controlled rage. “Don’t ever put me through that again, Cordelia. This is not some sleepy little village in the middle of Central America where you have your run of the place. This town has a Slayer who is not exactly fond of you.”
“What the hell were you thinking, Cordy?” Angel barked angrily. “Did you even consider the possible consequences or that I— we— might be concerned when you didn’t return at the expected time?”
Cordelia did not like being questioned, even by her sire. Especially when Angel was in a lecturing mode and she did not deserve it, “I called. I talked to Dru.”
“Drusilla has as much sense as a—,” Angel broke off mid-sentence not really meaning to insult his other childe no matter how true the words. “You should have called me.”
Licking at her sore lip, Cordelia narrowed her eyes at him. If she was going to be accused of worrying her sire then Angel better get his facts straight. “Check your cell phone. You will see that I tried to call you not once, but twice.”
“My cell phone,” Angel muttered suddenly remembering that he owned one. “Must be in my car.”
“Hah!” Giving him a scornful grin, Cordelia knew she had won that point. For someone who was as intelligent and well-read as Angel, you would think the vamp could learn the simple use of a cell phone. His determination to avoid aspects of modern technology was a mystery.
Spike dared to cut in with, “The chit has a point.”
“Go to bed, Spike; take Drusilla with you.” The words were accompanied by a growl that indicated he was angry with the vampiress.
“Who do you think you are— Angelus?” Spike didn’t like to hear anyone threatening Dru even if Angel had the right to do so.
“I told you to get out,” warned Angel now turning to Spike. “I want to be alone with my mate, not have a fucking family reunion.”
Drusilla giggled from the top of the stairs. Hearing Angel use bad words was always a treat since he normally avoided them. Only when he was really mad did her souled sire ever say such naughty things. Heading up the stairs, Spike told Dru, “Don’t take it so literally, luv. He wasn’t really suggesting that kind of a reunion.”
Willow turned as red as her hair as she thought about what the vampire had suggested. It was a rather graphic picture that popped into her head and wouldn’t seem to go away. As she needed to go back out to bring in their purchases, she crept back toward the door and stood there with her back pressed against it. If Cordy and Angel remembered that she was there, neither acknowledged her. They were too caught up in each other.
Cordelia found herself simultaneously ticked off and turned on by Angel’s bad attitude. It was not like him to be quite so rough with her. She demanded an explanation, “What the hell do you think you’re doing treating me this way?”
Without waiting for an answer, she stared back to his lips asking, “Can I have more?”
“You’re about to get it all, tigress,” Angel swept her up into his arms and headed for their bedroom.
Willow heard the door slam shut behind them. “Don’t bother saying goodnight to me.”
As she headed out to retrieve their packages, Willow found herself smiling in spite of her tiredness. She had wondered how Cordelia was planning to make Angel wait a whole day before her little seduction scene. Some days the vampires barely got out of bed and Cordy thought she would talk her naturally amorous mate out of taking her to bed?
Cordy’s favorite response seemed to be apropos, “Pfft!”
If things went right, Willow wouldn’t have to wait until tomorrow night to see if her plan worked. She’d find out today. Because it looked like Cordelia and Angel were definitely gonna do it. Sometime between their mutli-orgasmic clinches, Angel would recall that his soul was safe and then happiness would be had by all.
“Yes, Cordy,” she murmured darkly, “you can have more— of Angelus.”
Willow fell off the couch at the frightening sound of Angel’s voice bellowing in apparent agony. Gasping, she rolled onto her knees and used the couch as support to rise to her feet. Omigod! “It worked,” she whispered in awe at her own strategy to foil Angel. “He’s lost his soul.”
Then she realized that the sound he was crying out was a name— her own. That was not a good sign, Willow realized even as she peeked out of the living room in the direction of the stairs. The half-naked vampire was kneeling on the ground surrounded by overturned packages and shopping bags.
“Willow, get up here,” he caught her gaze and ordered her upstairs. “I take it you’re fully responsible for this.”
Not certain if he was talking about his soul or the mess, Willow asked for clarification of his accusation. “Responsible for what?”
“Uh— could you be more specific?” Willow stared closely trying to discern whether the evil Angelus was back or if this was just Angel being his usual compulsive self when it came to keeping things picked up.
A huff of disbelief sounded. “That isn’t obvious?”
“It depends—,” Willow began only to hear a frustrated growl from the vampire’s throat as he got to his feet and turned in her direction. Her reaction was instinctive as she cried out, “Don’t eat me!”
“That punishment might be a bit severe for leaving your shopping bags where people can trip over them,” Angel pointed out as he stepped over them to head down to the kitchen for his breakfast of warmed pig’s blood.
“A-Angel?” Lowering her arms down to her sides, Willow let out a sigh of relief. “For a second I thought that Angelus was going to drain me.”
The vampire paused to remind her, “There is no more Angelus.”
“Oh Yeah!” Willow nodded. “Right. Guess I’m still asleep.”
Watching Angel descend the stairs, Willow was overcome by disappointment. Dammit! The stupid vamp was supposed to lose his soul. What the hell went wrong? Grabbing a couple of the shopping bags, Willow moved them into the bedroom setting them out of the way. Cordelia was lying prone on the bed, her arms curled around Angel’s pillow as if she was already missing him.
Good afternoon, Willow. The voice hummed into her head. Almost in sing-song fashion. Apparently, Cordelia was in a very good mood.
Not bothering to stop at her task, Willow settled for brevity. “Hi.”
“Angel probably woke the entire household,” Cordelia laughed as Willow kept moving back and forth bringing the packages inside the room. “You know he doesn’t like clutter, pet.”
Grumbling at her use of the term, Willow stalked over to sit next to the vampiress noting that she was naked beneath the thin sheet. Oh, my. “I-I thought for a second that Angelus had returned. That your little, uh, experience last night might have been too blissful for him.”
“Hardly blissful,” Cordelia couldn’t use that word to describe it. “Hot, wild and just on the right side of rough. More like amazing. I’m surprised you got any sleep with as much noise as we made.”
“I was comatose on the couch,” Willow explained. “Someone kept me awake all night.”
“Mmm,” Cordelia acknowledged the comment, but was still thinking about her mate. “I can’t wait until tonight.”
Sarcastically, Willow asked, “You mean you aren’t planning another marathon?”
“I haven’t forgotten about my plans,” the vampiress turned over and sat up in bed her long silky hair cascading over her shoulders and her voluptuous curves holding the sheet in place.
If at first you don’t succeed—, thought Willow with a smile letting the thought drift off as she informed Cordelia about the necessary plans for the day. “I’ll get a start on looking up the necessary spell components. This one I may have to make up myself. Can you get Mel or Keanu to hang the mirrors? After that it will be up to me.”
“Consider it done, pet.” Cordelia threw aside the covers and leapt out of bed. Noticing the look on Willow’s face she commented, “Don’t drool. I’m going to hit the shower and get dressed before Angel comes up with that marathon idea. My job will be to keep him out of the bedroom while you do your thing.”
“Uh.” Too busy staring at the expanse of nude flesh, some of it covered in vampire bites, Willow found it difficult to get the words out.
“Right. Do my thing.” Was it Willow’s imagination or was the room really hot? “I’ll stall Angel in the kitchen. Breakfast sounds like a good idea, anyway. I want something cool and juicy in my mouth. Thirsty.”
Cordelia stared after her enthralled pet. She couldn’t say that Angel hadn’t warned her about the potential side-effects. Not that Cordy really minded. It was actually funny to see the way Willow panted after her sometimes. The real amusement was that her sire also reacted with a twinge of unnecessary jealousy every time the two of them went out shopping together.
Failing to arrive home before dawn had drawn out a reaction from Angel bringing his demon so close to the surface that Cordelia barely knew the difference. Last night, the way he touched her had little to do with tenderness or even the imaginative methods that her mate often created to bring her to orgasm. This was all about possession, about being inside what was his and surrounding himself with her scent, taste and touch.
He’d given Cordelia a hard, wild ride. Fast, furious and more intense than anything they had before. Then he had flipped her over and to her utter delight repeated himself. Who needed variety with Angel inside you? He gave it to her anyway. So good! Kissed every inch of her more as a claim than a caress and followed up with bites in his favorite spots. Some deeper than others. Most would heal and vanish before tonight while others would still be a visible mark on her flesh enticing him back for more.
Mmm! More Angel. She could definitely go for that.
As Cordelia stepped under the hot spray from the shower, she arched into its heat. Felt so good— like wet sunlight on her skin. Strangely, Cordy did not miss the sun. Not like she sometimes thought she should. For someone who liked to bathe in sunshine as a human, the night was far too glorious to her to ever miss the daylight. Squeezing the soapy loofah over her skin, she closed her eyes and imagined an eternity of darkness with the vampire who had found a way to fill her empty heart.
Denied entry into his own bedroom, Angel wondered what Cordelia was up to that she had barred his presence. Several of the minions and Willow were holed up for hours working on something that required drilling, hammering and mystical chanting. When the group emerged, Cordelia informed him that she would call him when she was ready.
Wondering, ready for what? Angel lost heavily at the poker table to Spike, Jude, Brad and Willow because his attention kept wandering. At least the other vamps were happy with the results. Dru, who was draped over Spike’s shoulder watching the game, was the only one who looked less than thrilled with Angel’s rapt attention being elsewhere.
“Peaches, remind me to ask Cordelia to stick around the next time we play cards,” Spike laughed at his grandsire. “You’ve been staring at that door for the last thirty minutes.”
“Cordy can be a distraction,” Angel admitted.
Spike snorted, “She’s a bloody goddess and you know it, lucky bastard.”
Angel’s mouth curled upward. His chest ached just thinking about it. Unconsciously rubbing the spot that Buffy Summers had once pierced with her sword, Angel agreed, “I am lucky.”
“Unlucky at cards—,” Willow hinted with a cute grin.
The vampire finished for her, “—lucky in love?”
Angel suddenly threw his cards on the table literally by tossing away his first potentially winning hand of kings over queens. Then figuratively by muttering, “I’ve got to tell her.”
Pushing back from the table, his chair scraped the floor as Angel left the players behind without a backward glance. They called out, trying to stop him. Willow was the only one who appeared content for Angel to leave despite that he was ahead of schedule. Cordelia would cope with the early arrival.
Turning back to the others, she asked calmly, “Is it my deal?”
Cordelia heard the turn of the doorknob and sensed the presence of her sire. “That better not be you, Angel. I told you I would tell you when it was time.”
Opening the door wide, he told her, “I’ve waited long enough.”
There were shopping bags on the bed with items strewn across the coverlet. Cordelia was bending over the bed digging through one of the bags. Realizing that Angel was actually going to come in despite her wishes, she spun around to face him. Tightening the belt of her silk bathrobe, Cordy stomped her foot on the floor. “I’m not ready.”
“Ready for what?” Angel almost backed up when he saw the pout appear on her lips. She was not normally a vampiress given to pouting when she didn’t get her way.
“The surprise, you dumbass!” Cordelia grumped at him. “So much for seduction. Forget it now, I’m not going to waste my time.”
“Seduction?” Asked Angel, intrigued. “All the secrecy and construction noise had to do with you planning to seduce me? I’m easier than that.”
He was laughing softly, his mouth curling sensually bringing a sparkle to his dark eyes.
“I know,” Cordelia crossed her arms under her breasts unintentionally drawing his gaze to her suddenly enhanced cleavage at the vee of her robe. “Too bad you won’t be getting any now, lover.”
Angel’s smile dropped as he caught the serious gleam in her eye. “Not so fast. I can leave and come back.”
“Grmph! Too late!”
“How about if I sit over here and just watch you finish?”
Actually, Cordelia thought that went right along with her little plan for the evening. Dragging a chair over so that it was directly in front of the door, Cordy settled her mate into it and gave a little warning despite the smile that threatened to appear, “Promise me just one thing—no more premature arrivals tonight.”
“That’s all up to you, tigress,” Angel chuckled. “I’ll guarantee to give it my best shot if you tell me what you’ve got on under that robe.”
Glancing over her shoulder at him, Cordelia’s voice dropped to a huskier octave, “Skin.”
Registering the lustful expression on his face, the vampiress turned back to her task of removing candles from one of the shopping bags. She placed them on the various flat surfaces around the room in small bunches before using long-stemmed matches to light the wicks. Reaching up beside him, Angel flipped off the overhead light leaving the room glowing softly with candlelight.
Cordelia continued on by removing the final items from the bags. As she moved the items onto the bed and removed the plastic shopping bag, Angel caught a flicker of movement on the ceiling above the bed. It was only for a moment and then the ceiling fell into shadow as Cordy moved between the table holding the candles and the bed.
“Follow me, Angel. It’s been a while since you’ve rummaged through my panty drawer, but maybe you can help me choose what to wear tonight.”
“What’s the occasion?” Cordelia looked a little hurt as he asked the question, which made him think hard to come up with the answer on his own. Two seconds later, the vampire snapped his mouth closed as he realized precisely what this night represented. “No. We can’t celebrate that. Not the night I killed you.”
Talk about a mood killer. Angel couldn’t believe that Cordelia was trying to recreate the night that Angelus had seduced her, taken her virginity and sucked her life away. That was not how he wanted to remember the human Cordelia Chase, frightened and crying beneath him. Calling out his name in ecstasy even as her life drained away.
“You were meant to die that night, Cordelia,” he reminded her. “Angelus planned to fuck you and drain you dry before leaving you on Buffy’s front porch. You were so beautiful and vibrant, seductive yet innocent. Full of life. Angelus— I took that away from you.”
“Does it look like I care?” Cordelia parried as she wound her arms around his neck. “I have what I wanted from the first time I set eyes on you: my own gorgeous hunk of salty goodness. Angelus gave me this existence, so don’t ask me to regret it.”
Pulling her into the shelter of his arms, Angel rested his cheek against her hair. Brushing his mouth across the silky texture, he admitted softly, “I care, Cordy. Somewhere in the confused depths of my brain, I am truly sorry that I ended your life. Nothing on Earth can make me regret that I made you mine.”
“Glad to hear it, buster,” Cordelia used her strength to squirm out of his arms. “Now get your hot ass back to the chair. I’ve changed my mind about giving you a choice tonight. A little payback is a good thing now and then. It’s my turn.”
Angel thought about calling out a few suggestions, but figured that Cordy would react by selecting something completely different. He chose to keep his mouth shut and enjoy the buzz of anticipation that was strumming through his body. What the hell was taking so long? Okay— he’d come in early. How long did it take to put on a couple scraps of lace when he knew that he could remove them in about three seconds?
“Oh! Angel?” She called out from the closet. “Would you pull that cord by my dressing table?”
There was a tasseled rope hanging from the new drape above her vanity. Obviously, this was the new installation. He had noticed the drape earlier, but thought it was just a new decoration. Giving the thick cord a tug, Angel watched as the drape parted and he found himself staring at his own reflection.
Gazing raptly at the image on the glass, Angel couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Was it really him? Vampires didn’t cast reflections. His hand reached out to touch the surface as if confirming that the image was really there. Back in the day, mirrors did not exist in this quality, so his vague memories of himself were suddenly sharper and it was almost like seeing himself for the first time.
Angel leaned in and blinked looking deep into his own eyes. Moving back, found himself amused by his own reflection. He was about to call out to Cordelia when he saw a swift movement in the mirror as she slipped behind him letting his broad shoulders block her out of the reflecting mirror.
“Mirror, mirror on the wall,” Cordelia began with an amused lilt to her voice, “who’s the hottest vamp of all?”
With a laugh, Angel commented, “Get out here where it can see you and you’ll get your answer, Cordy.”
“Don’t turn around, Angel.” She instructed him as he was about to turn to face her. “Just look at yourself in the mirror. Do you see why we females fumble over ourselves to be near you?”
“I thought it was my scintillating conversation,” Angel joked with a confident leer while looking at his reflection as she wanted, but trying to get a glimpse of her.
“Getting a narcissistic vampire a mirror may not have been my best idea,” Cordelia told him as she leaned into his back pressing her round breasts against him through the barrier of their clothing, “but it’s gonna be fun.”
“How is this possible?” There were mystical aspects to vampires. The lack of a reflection was just one fact that he never thought possible to alter. Answering his own question, he realized what the earlier chanting was about. “Willow did this. The little witch is getting powerful.”
“Do you really want to talk about Willow?”
“No,” Angel started to purr as Cordelia’s hands wound around to massage his chest in a rhythmic fashion that stirred his lifeless blood. “Let’s talk about the things we’re going to be doing in front of this mirror.”
“I’ll show you instead.”
Slowly unbuttoning Angel’s shirt, her fingers paused at each step reveling and feeling his exposed skin. Cordelia was doing this by touch alone since having both arms around his broad chest prevented her from also leaning out to see the mirror image. Angel was rapt by the sight of her feminine hands moving over him as much as the sensations.
When his shirt came off, Cordelia kissed her way across his muscular back. Angel felt her move to the right, shifting her leg so that it came into view sweeping up along the side of his. Winding around, Cordelia stepped to his side meeting Angel’s gaze in the mirror for the first time.
“You’re so beautiful,” Angel murmured as he soaked up the image of her voluptuous shape partially covered by a short ivory shift. Suspended by its spaghetti straps, it clung from her breasts to the tops of her thighs. Once again Cordelia surprised him as he had expected her to come out in red lace or black leather.
“Like it?” Cordy fingered the lacy edge of the shift. The soft white silk revealed just as much of her as it covered.
Angel hooked a finger beneath one of the thin straps and traced the skin underneath with his knuckle as it moved up and down. “You’re the picture of innocence. Tempting and untouched like a bride on her wedding night.”
With a raised brow, Cordelia looked surprised. “Really? Is that how you want to play this?”
“I didn’t realize it was a game,” Angel found himself getting hard thinking about some of the things he wanted to do in front of this mirror. Just seeing their reflections was enough to excite him, but the idea of watching as they brought each other pleasure was too tantalizing to ignore. “You’re right, Cordy. I adore the look, but this isn’t the night I want you to pretend to be virginal.”
“Then tell me what you want, Angel,” she used the words he often said to her. “Because tonight I’m going to give you everything you desire.”
Her sire’s lips curled into a sensual smile as he caressed her face. “You do that every time I’m with you.”
Cordelia leaned up into his kiss. One so different from the violent kisses they shared last night. His mouth moved with tender motions across her parted lips garnering little sighs of pleasure. Angel resisted deepening the kiss and instead pressed butterfly soft kisses against her cheek moving to her ear where his tongue played havoc with her senses as it flicked across the sensitive whorls.
Touching his bare skin, Cordelia roved her hands around to his strong back holding onto him as he kissed his way down to her neck. “Angel,” her voice came out as a plea for him to stop what he was doing. “This is supposed to be for you, silly vamp.”
“For us,” he insisted against her throat.
Who was seducing whom? Cordelia snaked her hand around Angel’s hip down to the hard evidence of his arousal. Cupping him firmly, she moved her hand along his erection until her mate was moaning against her throat. That was more like it, she grinned. Cordy figured that she needed to get back into the driver’s seat of this little seduction plan or Angel would have her writhing in pleasure and she would forget to tell him how she felt.
“I want you naked,” Cordelia voiced as she moved her hand away to unbuckle his belt. Angel brushed her hand away as he removed his belt and kicked off his shoes at the same time. The pants, boxers and sock followed quickly while his beautiful childe laughed in amusement at his eager efforts to unclothe. “Not much tease in that striptease.”
“Too much talking,” Angel made a grab for her only to have Cordelia dance away. “Now who’s teasing?”
“That’s all you’ll get if you don’t behave.” He was facing away from the mirror standing there with his penis hard and ready. Cordelia also had a delightful view of his muscular buttocks reflecting from the mirror behind him. “Turn around, Angel. Face the mirror.”
Angel had forgotten it for a moment with his attention all on her. Considering his nude and aroused state, the vampire admitted to himself a certain curiosity with seeing what he looked like to his mate. Impressive, he had to admit, not caring if it was vanity or just the simple truth. With a hand on his chest, Angel moved it down across the sculpted plane of his abdomen.
The urge to touch himself as he watched in the mirror was strong. Cordelia hovered next to him judging his reaction with a knowing glance. She curled her hand around Angel’s bicep and followed the path of his arm to push his hand downward. “Go ahead. I know you want to.”
Curling his hand around his rigid cock, Angel stared at his reflection in the mirror, the sensation heightened by the view. However, his attention turned quickly to Cordelia who was watching him as he stroked his hand slowly up and down the length of his erection. The excitement in her eyes, the lust apparent on her gorgeous face, and the panting breath that she did not need to sustain her only increased his own arousal.
Cordelia’s eyes flicked up to meet his reflectant gaze just before sinking to her knees on the rug positioning her body at an angle beside him. At first, she seemed content to watch up close as Angel continued the pumping action that brought him to his fully tumescent state. She kept her hands on his body, one clinging to the back of one steely thigh and the other running up and down his hip with the same rhythm that he maintained. Glancing up at the mirror again, Cordelia noted that her minions had done well in positioning it at a slight angle for the vanity table did not block the view at all.
“Angel,” his name came out in a moan of need, “let me touch you now.”
“Use your mouth, Cordy,” he turned to her, his eyelids heavy with lust and half-closed as Angel gazed down at her eager face. “I want to feel your tongue on me.”
One by one, Cordelia curled her fingers around the wide base of his shaft fisting him. Her fingers barely contained him. Angel spread his thighs to give her better access to his balls as her other hand brushed up against their sensitive pouch. He sucked in a sharp breath at the first stroke of his flesh. It was as if she had the magic touch knowing exactly what he wanted and Angel wondered in the one corner of his brain that could still think whether it was somehow connected to her mental abilities.
Oral pleasuring was something they both enjoyed. Cordelia felt stimulated watching his reaction as she took him into her mouth, laving the highly sensitive underbelly of the tip where it met the rigid pole of his shaft. Angel let out a groan of pure lust and his dark eyes clamped shut as he threw his head back trying to control his reaction. The combined sensation of her wet tongue, the suction of mouth and the pumping action of her fingers nearly sent him over the edge within seconds.
Fighting to hold back, Angel forced his eyes open staring down at her with eyes of deep amber. “Keep that up, tigress,” he warned, “and you’ll have to start all over again before you get to have me inside you.”
Cordelia let her mouth slide off the tip with an audible pop, brushing it against her cheek. “We have all night, Angel.”
As she resumed her attention to his swollen tip now stretching out of its foreskin, Angel dropped a hand to her head letting his fingers slide through her silken hair. His eyes kept darting back and forth between the stark reality of seeing her mouth on him to the sensual sight of the two of them in the mirror. Knowing she intended to take this all the way, he started to murmur words of encouragement.
“That feels so good, baby,” Angel’s voice rumbled somewhere between a deep purr and a growl. “I love the way you use your tongue.”
She had let him slip out of her mouth again and was flicking her tongue down to his balls, staying there until they drew up tighter against him. Angel could barely get out her name as Cordy worked her way back up to swallow him taking more of his rigid shaft into her throat.
Angel’s eyes were glued to the mirror watching as his mate held onto his thighs moving her head in bobbing rhythmic fashion as she opened her throat to take him further inside. “Cordy! Nngh! Yeah, baby. Take me deeper.”
Though his hand now fisted her hair, Angel did not try to control her efforts. They both knew it was far more pleasurable to let her set the rhythm and pace. The vampiress took him deep into her throat and held him there for a moment, not needing to breathe around him. Then she focused again on the spot where his tip and foreskin met the shaft of his cock, flicking her tongue and closing her mouth around the crowning ridge.
She knew Angel was close to coming. His entire body tensed up and his balls drew back toward the base of his sex. Laving the tip, Cordelia opened her mouth wide and caught the first spurt of his orgasm on her tongue. Angel watched his manly essence coat her tongue before she closed her mouth around him again to twirl her tongue around the tip while her fisted fingers pumped him below.
Angel stared down not only in amazement at the intensity of his orgasm, but also the look in Cordelia’s eyes as she finished him off. He recognized the lust of her highly aroused state, but there was something else he had not seen before and could not seem to identify.
Gracefully, she rose to her feet standing before him like a triumphant pleasure goddess. It was true, thought Angel, I am a lucky bastard.
Palming her cheeks into his strong, but gentle hands Angel moved close so their bodies brushed up against each other. Her hard nipples peaking against the silk nightshift were now teasing his bare flesh. Cordelia let out a soft moan as he leaned in to kiss her slightly swollen lips. They were tingling from their recent activity and especially sensitive as he nibbled at them with his mouth. The sweep of his tongue across her bottom lip had her opening to him letting him taste himself as she touched his questing tip.
Her arms surrounded his neck as Cordelia pressed herself into his hard frame, tucking her hips into his already stiffening groin. Angel’s hand slipped down her back to the upper curve of her bottom to hold her there. Then his fingers wandered lower down to the lacy edge of her shift to caress her inner thigh. Cordy let out a soft gasp as he stealthily moved back up, this time under her short garment to palm one of her buttocks.
“Thong?” A graveled tone sounded in his voice as he broke away from their kiss long enough to pose the question.
“Look in the mirror and find out,” Cordelia challenged with a glint in her eyes moving her hands to lift up the shift around her waist.
Angel stared at their reflection seeing his hand appear as she lifted the covering away. He gave a gentle squeeze to the firm flesh beneath his hand. Then he noticed that there was no string parting the two globes of her buttocks and realized with a lustful zing, “You’re not wearing any panties.”
“Nope.” Cordelia gave him a naughty grin as she yanked up the front of her nightshift that had been caught between them. Now he felt the proof as his penis brushed against the soft nest of curls at the apex of her thighs.
Angel’s fingers curled into her from behind gathering the liquid proof of her arousal. He let one wet finger circle her puckered rim while moving back to hold her against him. She let out a startled cry of pleasure and lifted her mouth for his kiss. Cordelia wound one leg around his hip trying to arrange it so that his hard shaft pressed against her clit.
Taking hold of her thigh, Angel supported it and brought it just a bit higher until he heard Cordelia suck in a sharp breath of air. He took the opportunity to kiss her deeply, moving his tongue over hers. Sounds of pleasure hummed from their throats while Angel rotated his hips so that each small movement caused his erection to slide along her intimate flesh. Cordelia’s clit was a hard nub brushing against his cock and each time he thrust against it her body jerked toward him.
Easing her leg to the floor, Angel swept her up into his arms and carried her toward the bed. Cordelia looked a bit confused having expected him to take her on top of the vanity table so that he could watch them in the mirror. Asking him about it, Angel replied, “I want to look directly into your eyes when I make you come, Cordelia. We’ll play with the mirror again later.”
For some reason, his words caused warmth to spread across her body. That felt strange to the vampiress as she realized it was not heat, but just her own feelings stretching out from their center point at her solar plexus. “Angel, I want you so much,” Cordy whispered into his ear as he gently placed her onto the bed.
The feeling was definitely mutual.
“You make me feel so—,” Cordelia broke off uncertain how to express what she wanted to say.
Angel stared into her hazel eyes, recognizing her state of confusion and wanting to put her at ease knowing that Cordelia was more used to expressing her wants during sex than her feelings.
“Good?” He laid her down upon the mattress and kissed the spot where her throat met her breastbone.
“Aroused?” Angel guessed again as his fingers tucked under the thin spaghetti straps of her shift to tug them over her shoulders. His mouth trailed soft smooches along the same path before moving to the exposed curve of her breasts.
Now his hands cupped both breasts as his mouth and tongue played havoc with her senses. Cordelia’s already sensitive nipples were red and swollen from his attention. Teasing the outer curves of her breasts and the softer skin of her areolas, Angel left no part of her unattended. Blowing cool air across her damp skin, he caused a little quake as she jiggled in his hands.
“Angel,” she pleaded through the haze of her pleasure. “I need you inside of me.”
Her hands were already on him down below, stroking his erection and maneuvering her hips to get closer. Angel promised, “Soon, baby.”
The vampire was still lavishing kisses across the full globes in his hands. He loved the way they overfilled his grasp. Lush mounds with nipples large enough to curl his tongue around. Made for him. Angel flicked his tongue across one hearing his mate’s responding moan. Then he saw the reddened mark over her skin where he had bitten her last night on the outer curve of her left breast. It had been a deep bite if it still showed now. Realizing that it must have given her as much pain as pleasure, Angel kissed the spot paying gentle homage to her skin and feeling that deep sense of vampiric satisfaction that it was his bite that had left that mark even if it would eventually fade.
Wondering if there were other similar spots, Angel lifted up slightly to let his gaze sweep across her skin from neck to navel. The move gave Cordelia better access to his erection and she quickly took advantage of that. Her flexible body allowed her to fit him directly to her opening. Angel noticed that her eyes were staring upward as her legs curled around him to force him further inside.
Kneeling and grasping her hips so that he entered her to the hilt, Angel gazed toward the ceiling and realized that she had placed a mystically-enhanced mirror there as well. No wonder the minions had taken so long preparing the room. He moved his hips so that only his tip remained within her and watched in the mirror above as she took him back in.
Then he turned his gaze on Cordelia whose attention was no longer on the mirror, but on him. “I want to hold you. Please, Angel. Let me put my arms around you.”
Cordelia had always liked to touch him during sex, but now as she voiced her needs to him there was something else she communicated. It was more than pure need or desire. Angel recognized the feelings within himself and silently thanked Willow Rosenberg for finally revealing the permanency of his soul to him. Though Cordelia might not realize it yet, Angel knew that she felt something more for him than just the sire-childe bond. That while he was her acknowledged mate, she had never lost herself to pure emotion.
Perhaps that was his fault, Angel thought, having always held back some part of his own personal experience for fear of releasing Angelus to the world again. Lowering himself so that his arms tucked under her shoulders without putting his full weight on her, Angel felt her arms come up around him. One around his neck, the other across his shoulders while her legs encircled his lower back effectively hugging him close with her entire body.
Angel was buried deep inside her feeling her inner muscles flexing and accommodating his hard flesh. “Cordelia,” his voice sounded strangled as he struggled to hold back his urge to come. “Baby, I’ve got to move.”
Then he was thrusting within her, slowly at first and then with a fastening rhythm that was answered by Cordelia’s writhing hips. Every now and then, her hazel gaze would dart up to the ceiling watching the muscles dance across Angel’s back as his buttocks flexed each time he entered her. Angel moved them to an angle advantageously placing the ridge of his penis against her g-spot.
“Come with me,” Cordy stared deeply into his eyes pleading for their mutual pleasure. “Angel, now. Come with me.”
More than ready, Angel let out a roar of ecstasy as his mate called out his name at the peak of her climax. Their bodies shuddered together with tiny aftershocks of pleasure. Then Angel felt Cordelia’s hand curve around his face. Opening his eyes, he saw her smile of contentment as she formed the words he never expected to hear fall from her lips.
“I love you, Angel.”
Unguarded, Angel soaked up the sound of those words directly into the inner depths of his being. He knew a moment where he was surrounded by her body, her scent, and her love for him. It burst within him, this instant of ultimate bliss as he stared down into the eyes of his mate.
Angel was about to return the sentiment, wanting Cordelia to know the intensity of his own feelings for her. Only the tightness in his chest that accompanied the idea that he was full of love for her became suddenly painful. There was a sudden pressure within him, a sensation he had felt before. A rending that indicated his soul was being torn away from its mystic connection.
There was only a second of acknowledgement, before Angel jerked painfully out of his mate’s arms. Kneeling on the mattress, the vampire let out a cry of loss and agony as he screamed out Cordelia’s name. There was a burst of pure light the instant before his body collapsed on the bed.
“Omigod!” Cordelia scampered up beside her mate. “Angel? Angel! What happened?”
Her mind raced at the possibilities, but there was only one she could come up with that made any sense. Declaring her love had given Angel perfect happiness. Cordelia had just cost him his soul.
“No,” she gasped wondering if his soul could sense her still. “I-I didn’t want that. I didn’t mean to do it, Angel. That wasn’t what you wanted.”
“Better make up your mind what you do want, tigress,” the vampire rose up on the bed beside her taking her hair into his fist and yanking her close.
“Oh, yes, baby,” Angelus confirmed. “I’m back.”
Cordelia wasn’t prepared for this sudden change in her mate’s entire being. The last time, it was a shock seeing him after she had thought him dead. Then, she had time to get used to the idea that her sire had been cursed with a soul. Now he had lost it. Instantly and all due to her need to tell him how she felt.
Angel always claimed to be Angelus. That Angelus was the darker half controlled by his soul. She knew that he was different as with the soul intact. While Angel might still be Angelus, the reverse was not necessarily true. There were traits possessed by the soul that had never touched Angelus and Cordelia was left to wonder if the feelings that she shared with Angel were among them.
“Your soul,” she gasped as her mouth finally caught up with her thoughts.
“Gone.” Angelus taunted. “You fucked it out of him. Always knew you were a good lay. You just blew him away with your little confession, Cordelia.”
“My confession,” she knew all too well what he meant and tried to gauge his reaction. This could get nasty considering the way Angelus normally treated people who betrayed him.
“Telling the Soul you loved him,” Angelus released his hold on her hair letting it fall over her shoulder in a wave of dark silk. “All the times you’ve fucked each other without consequences and all it took was those three little words. I love you.”
Cordelia looked a bit defiant as she told her sire, “I meant it.”
Climbing out of the bed and running his hands across his naked torso, Angelus let out a dark laugh. “That’s what is going to make this all the more meaningful, my cheating little mate.”
“I did not.”
“Did too,” Angelus pulled her off the bed to stand beside him.
Pointing out, “It was you— just with a soul,” Cordelia was not going to admit to cheating on him. That was just ridiculous.
“He told you that because he wanted you.”
“You know it’s true,” Cordelia countered with a glare. “You just don’t want to believe you could feel the way you do with your soul intact.”
Angelus remembered everything. “Are you his or mine, Cordy? Make up your mind and do it quick.”
“Yours. I’ll always be yours,” she confirmed, but added, “With or without your soul.”
That wasn’t exactly the answer the vampire wanted, but it seemed that his defiant childe had not changed one bit. Cordelia was always obstinate and no amount of punishment had ever changed that. He remembered the fact that her seduction of Angel started out as a celebration of anniversary of the night he, Angelus, claimed her.
“Then come over here and prove it, tigress,” Angelus backed up to the area in front of her vanity. “I want you to watch as I take you from behind. To see your face as I do it. Will it be lust in your beautiful eyes or tears? Whose name will you scream when I make you come, Cordelia? His or mine?”
There was a hint of fear in her gaze, Angelus noted with a flash of anger. She wasn’t sure what name she would call out. Cordelia moved up against him touching his torso with her skillful hands and grazing his aroused male nipples. Winding her arms around his neck, she attempted to soften his mood through kisses, but the vampire only bit at her lip and drew blood.
“This isn’t about making love,” Angelus ground out as he held her head in place with a hand fisted in her hair. “If you want my tender side, you’ll have to earn it. You’re about to be fucked, Cordelia, and you’re going to enjoy it whether you want to or not.”
Harshly, he thrust her down on the top of the vanity bent over so that her curved ass was in the air. Cordelia let out a low growl of complaint, but spread her thighs willingly. This was not the time to defy his wishes. “Go ahead,” she urged him staring back at him over her shoulder.
Angelus spread his large hand across one rounded buttocks and let his fingers wander over the sun tattoo at the small of her back. “Keep your eyes on the mirror,” he ordered.
Once her sharp gaze met his reflecting one, Angelus entered her in one hard stroke filling her to the brim. He gave it to her hard, fast and furiously reminding Cordelia of last night when Angel had been so worried for her safety that he gave himself almost completely to the demon within. The demon who was now making a point by setting a ruthless rhythm. He was right, though. Cordelia was enjoying it despite the fact that she wanted to slap some sense into her sire.
Last night had been the first time since losing Angelus that she had experienced the rough side of sex with her vampire mate. It was something that she had missed. Tenderness and gentility were the opposite sides of the coin to this and the vampires often got off on both. Angelus had always balanced the scale with her. Never always tender nor rough in his demands when he extracted his due from his childe or sharing sex with his mate. Feelings were something new, something Cordelia did not know if Angelus could express. Would he understand her love for him— soul or no soul?
Too much thinking. Sensations were starting to overwhelm her as her mate’s hands came up to caress her back and follow the path of her spine back down to grip her hips. He was in full game face now staring at her with his dark amber eyes watching the rhythmic sway of her pointed breasts answering his thrusts.
The items on top of her vanity were shaking as he pounded inside her. Cordelia’s hips were tucked against the edge of the dressing table and each time Angelus stroked upward, it brought a cry of combined pain and pleasure to her throat. Several crashes were heard as her hairbrush and makeup brushes hit the floor.
Cordelia’s hands pressed hard against the wall as she stared into the mirror. Calling out, she encouraged Angelus to keep it up. He could always make her respond no matter what way he touched her. “That’s it, sire. Right there. Harder!”
Redoubling his efforts, Angelus angled his cock so that he hit her pleasure spot again with each thrust. Though faster, he kept his thrusts smooth and long drawing out the pleasure. Her inner muscles teased at his erection. His balls slapped heavily against her continuously hitting her clitoris and eliciting cries of delight from Cordelia’s throat.
“Angelus!” Cordelia screamed his name at the top of her voice coming hard as he drove himself inside her. Hearing his name spontaneously erupt from her lips, the vampire let out a howl of pleasure and followed her climax with his own. He leaned forward over her back and clamped down with his fangs onto the place where her neck and shoulder met.
He sucked down several gulps of her crimson blood before lapping at the wound to close it. Cordelia was still sounding his name in a series of whispers like a mantra. Then into her ear Angelus told her, “Don’t ever forget that you’re mine, Cordelia. Mine for eternity. No one, not even the corruption that is my soul, will ever come between us.”
When the two vampires finally emerged from their bedroom, the entire household was gathered downstairs awaiting their presence. There was no need to announce that the soul was gone. Everyone including Willow had heard Cordelia screaming Angelus’ name in ecstasy. She stood near the bottom of the steps with an excited look on her face waiting for her mistress to thank her for returning Angelus to her. Although, Willow considered, Cordelia didn’t really know what she had done on her behalf.
Angelus stopped next to Willow staring at her with a contemplative look on his face. He knew what the little redhead had done and moreover he knew why. “Looks like you got your wish, little witch. I’m back.”
Wondering what her mate was talking about, Cordelia glanced at the two of them voicing her query, “What wish?”
“Willow told Angel the soul was permanent,” Angelus revealed and waited expectantly to see how Cordelia would respond.
Instantly, anger flashed in her eyes. Then Willow was screaming and holding her head as Cordelia’s projected her thoughts into the girl’s head along with activating pain sensors. No one betrays me, you little bitch. How dare you act without my permission.
Falling to her knees, Willow begged for forgiveness. “I thought you wanted this. I just wanted to make you happy.”
Angelus placed his hand on the top of her head. “You’ve been a good little pet despite what your mistress says. For that, I’ll forgive you for returning my soul to me in the first place.”
Gulping, Willow had not thought about the fact that Angelus would remember that. “You should thank me. It probably saved you from Buffy. Instead of staking you, she did what she needed to do to save the world.”
At the mention of the Slayer’s name, Angelus stiffened. It reminded him of his promise to Buffy exactly a year ago tonight. To kill her friends and leave each one of their corpses at her doorstep. “You know something, Willow?”
“What’s that?” Questioning green eyes stared up at him from her position.
“I may have forgiven you for the soul, but the way you’ve been sniffing after my mate has been extremely annoying. I’m tired of your whining.”
Before Willow or Cordelia could say anything, Angelus tightened the hand that rested on top of the teenager’s head. With a sharp twist, he snapped her thin neck and pushed her dead body to the floor. Cordelia let out a gasp, but knew better than to protest his actions in front of the others. Later she would tell her sire of her irritation at him for killing what was hers.
“Things are going to be a little different around here from now on,” Angelus announced as he stepped forth to address the group. Looking directly at Spike, he added, “That goes for you, too.”
Once Cordelia became used to the idea that Angelus was back in her life for good, she decided to share with him the full extent of her plans for Sunnydale and its Slayer. The evil nature of her ideas came as a delight to the vampire who immediately agreed to help her complete them. “With one or two alterations,” he informed her.
Taking stock of the situation, Angelus decided what he wanted for the immediate future of his family. First, he had to deal with the competition. Sending Cordelia to the home of Richard Wilkins, he assured that the future mayor’s plans for ascension ended swiftly. The vampiress informed Wilkins that she intended to take him up on his offer of power.
“It’s just that now I want it all,” Cordelia explained with a megawatt smile.
Wilkins looked surprised having not expected the vampiress to turn on him. She had wanted no part of his plans for Sunnydale as long as he left the Slayer alone until after the ascension. Looking to his hired vampire bodyguard, Wilkins ordered Mr. Trick to defend him.
The black vampire gazed at Cordelia considering his options. Then he heard her voice in his head issuing a firm warning.
Touch me and you will be tortured for months before you finally die at my hands. The images that accompanied her thoughts made it all too clear that she spoke truthfully.
Addressing Wilkins, Cordelia appeared calm. “I brought Trick to Sunnydale. Should that tell you something, Richard?”
The demon who appeared human commented dryly, “So you decided that you want the Hellmouth for yourself.”
“I won’t be alone. My sire holds reign over the Order of Aurelius,” Cordelia told him.
“The one with the soul?” Trick put in. That surprised him.
“How many sires do you think I have, dolt?”
“Now, Cordelia. Don’t confuse him,” Angelus announced his presence. “I finally realized that I didn’t need an invitation to get in. That is an interesting question, Trick. The name is Angelus. If you want access to my town, I suggest you get used to it.”
Richard Wilkins took the opportunity to try to sneak out of the room, but Angelus caught him by the throat. “Where do you think you’re going?”
Tossing him at Mr. Trick, Angelus waited for the vampire to establish his obedience to the clan. With enthusiasm, Trick grabbed onto Wilkins’ head with such force that the twist of his neck decapitated him. Blood spurted everywhere splashing the vampires with it.
Cordelia looked down at the spots of blood soaking into her designer dress. Rising from her chair, she growled angrily at Trick. “This is your one and only warning, Trick. Don’t mess up my clothes again or there will be hell to pay.”
As Trick tossed the former mayoral candidate’s head aside, he looked down at his clothes that were equally ruined. “Damn, I liked this suit.”
Angelus figured he would fit right in with Cordelia’s little band of minions. At least they knew who was boss at the mansion. Even though they had followed Angel’s orders, all of them reacted a little faster when the commands came from him. They knew he tolerated their existence for Cordelia’s sake and what the result of defiance would be.
“I’ll see you back at the mansion, baby,” Angelus told his mate after she had dabbed the blood from his face. “There is a certain someone I have to see.”
“Have fun, Angelus,” she told him after accepting his kiss. “Say hello for me.”
“That might give the game away.”
“Angel,” Buffy gasped his name as she opened her door. “I can’t believe you’re here. I’ve missed you so much.”
As the Slayer threw her arms around his waist, Angelus hugged her close delighting in the scent of her. The girl was hot for him already. It wouldn’t take much to have her on her knees or spreading those strong thighs for him. Not that he wanted it. Just the thought of her eagerness was a turn-on.
Besides, she wasn’t alone in the house. Angelus wanted to meet this new Watcher of hers and it appeared that he was going to have the opportunity to do so. The tall British man stepped up behind Buffy Summers eyeing Angelus from behind his glasses. Assessing the vampire and comparing him to the accounts he had read.
“Who is this?” Angelus played ignorant.
Buffy lifted her head away from the vampire’s chest. As if she had forgotten his presence in the room, the blonde turned her head to glance over her shoulder. “Oh. That’s Wesley. My new Watcher.”
“I am Wesley Wyndam-Price,” the young man introduced himself. He looked entirely too clean cut and carried himself like he had a stake up his ass. The thought amused Angelus.
“You have big shoes to fill,” Angelus shook the other man’s hand just a bit too firmly and enjoying him squirm in pain. “Giles meant a lot to Buffy.”
Wesley informed him, “I’m not here to be friends or a father-figure. I am here to see to her training and to ensure that the Hellmouth remains safe.”
“You seem a little young for the job,” Angelus commented and was honestly interested in Wesley’s explanation of how he got involved with the Watcher’s Council at a very young age through his father. As he finished the tale, the vampire admitted it, “Fascinating.”
Buffy was tired of hearing the two males chatter about Wesley’s dull past. Pulling Angel into the living room, she tried to bring him up to date on all of the things that had been happening to her since the last time they spoke. Angelus managed rather well through her tears over Giles, Willow and her mother. It was not until she started ranting over the fact that Cordelia had gutted her stuffed toy pig, Mr. Gordo that the vampire found he could no longer hold back his laughter.
“It isn’t funny,” Buffy insisted.
“If you can’t see how amusing that is in the face of everything else you’ve been through, Buff, you’ve got no sense of humor left.”
Angel’s words brought a pout to her lips. Even Wesley seemed startled at his choice of words. “That is not fair, Angel. Buffy has been through quite a lot.”
“As her Watcher, you have to know that there is more to come,” warned Angelus. “If she can’t handle the death of her toy pig, what will happen when her mother succumbs to the mysterious illness you’ve mentioned?”
Gasping at the pain his words caused, Buffy reminded him that he was supposed to be comforting her not making her feel worse.
“What kind of comfort do you want?” Angelus asked. “Soft lies? My arms around you?”
Buffy’s eyes were large and wide as she admitted that was exactly what she wanted, “Yes Angel.”
“Is that all you want?” He asked despite the presence of her Watcher who sat there agape.
“Or do you want me inside you making you forget, making you feel again?”
A strangled sound emerged from her throat as Buffy peeked over at Wesley. She wished he would just go away. Now. “That’s not possible and you know it.”
Standing up indignantly, Wesley ordered the vampire out of the house. “I say! That is quite enough.”
Rising to his feet, Angelus pulled Buffy up beside him. He addressed the Watcher, “No it’s not. There is a lot more that needs to be said.”
Looking back at the Slayer, he told her, “I came here tonight for a reason. It’s time for this to end. For us to end.”
Shaking her head, Buffy felt a fat tear drop onto her cheek. “No, Angel. I know you love Cordelia, but don’t forget about me.”
Me, me, me. The whiny little bitch was as bad as Willow. Angelus was tempted to just bite her in this vulnerable moment and be done with it, but that wasn’t the way his mate had begged him to let it end. Taking her chin in his hand, Angelus tilted her face up to his. Kissing her briefly, the vampire stared down into her eyes for a long time before he told her, “Goodbye, Buff.”
Gripping the doorframe, Buffy stared after the vampire who quickly vanished into the dark shadows of the night. Now it was a fact. She had lost everything— including Angel.
As she turned to move back inside, Buffy noticed that someone was sitting on her porch. Perched up on one of the railings as if waiting for her turn. “Say what you want, Willow and then get out.”
Then it occurred to her that Angel had used the nickname that Angelus preferred to call her. Buff. It irritated her, but its use combined with Willow’s still form in the shadows of the porch told her one thing with certainty. She had just kissed Angelus. Somehow, this was all Cordelia’s fault. Being with Angel, the vampiress had finally found a way to get rid of Angel’s soul and assured the return of her true demon mate.
Buffy brought the fight to the mansion. She wasn’t going to sit around and wait for Cordy and her cronies to pick off anyone else. Not that she really cared about Wesley, but he was now tied to her through his role as Watcher.
“Cordelia!” She screamed out the vampiress’ name and then added, “Angelus! I know you’re in there.”
Having felt there was no choice but to accompany the Slayer on this suicide mission, Wes continued to encourage her to leave. “It’s not too late. We can still go back.”
“And go where? Angel has an invitation and you haven’t set up residence in Giles’ house yet.” Buffy snapped at him. “Get your weapons ready or go away.”
When the front doors of the Crawford Street mansion opened, Buffy and Wesley faced the sudden appearance of ten vampires and one overly eager dog. Tongue hanging from his mouth and tail wagging, Puppy raced across the rolling grassy hill that was next to the long driveway. He bounded up to the two humans barking a greeting.
Wesley let out a yelp of fear while Buffy rolled her eyes. If he couldn’t handle the dog they were really in trouble.
“Down, Puppy! Be a good boy,” Buffy urged him to go away.
Drusilla let out a whistle and the dog immediately raced to his mistress’ side. “That’s the nasty Slayer,” she pointed out, “not a chew toy.”
The minions and Mr. Trick spread out across the lawn while the four master vampires made a straight path for the Slayer and her Watcher. Buffy figured there was only one way she would survive this. “Angelus,” she called out to him, “this is between Cordelia and me. Keep your vamps out of my way or I’ll stake them.”
Her false bravado sounded convincing, thought Wesley rather impressed. He added his own warning, “Stay back or I’ll use this crossbow on any vampire that moves.”
Everyone seemed to accept his words and stopped in their positions. Buffy gave Wesley a look that suggested she had not expected that to come from his mouth. Screaming in fear perhaps, but not this.
Cordelia stepped up to face the Slayer. She was garbed similarly to the last time they had fought back at the old mine. Leather pants and vest, except this time they were blood red. “This has been a long time in coming, Slayer.”
“I should have staked you that first night, Cordelia,” Buffy told her.
“Not that you could,” the vampiress laughed. “My sire protected me.”
“Yes, Angelus. My mate,” Cordelia reminded her smugly as the vampire in question was standing closely behind her. “I’ll agree to this fight, Buffy, though I never wanted you dead— just suffering as I did.”
“Well your mate is alive,” Buffy pointed out. “That should satisfy you.”
“He does— often,” Cordelia added with a smirk twisting her words. “It doesn’t change the fact that you took him from me.”
“I saved the world from being sucked into hell,” Buffy reminded the vampiress.
“Hell hath no fury compared to mine,” Cordy countered. “I’ve come a long way from being the fledgling you defeated last year.”
Buffy snapped, “Well I’ve got nothing left to lose.”
Stepping back, Wesley found himself a little too close to the action for comfort as Buffy and Cordelia launched themselves at each other like two wild animals. Only he was not certain which one took the role of predator or prey. What he had seen of the Slayer’s techniques so far had been secretly videotaped surveillance. He had been impressed at her ability to use the environment around her against her foes. But those foes did not know Buffy Summers the way Cordelia Chase knew her. The vampiress had a personal history with the Slayer, had witnessed her techniques and been on the receiving end of them.
Cordelia dodged the stake thrust landing a punch across Buffy’s jaw sending the girl to the ground. She stomped on her stomach before the Slayer managed to grab the leg and throw her off.
Several of the minions let out concerned cries as they saw the vampiress fall. Angelus let out a growl warning them to keep quite. He didn’t want any distractions for his mate. The Slayer was going to get her chance, but Angelus didn’t want to give her any easy breaks. Cordelia made him promise to let the Slayer survive the night if she failed to defeat her. Buffy’s arrival after seeing Willow’s dead body was a foregone conclusion. It was only a matter of time and the vampires had prepared their family group with precise instructions of non-interference.
Angelus didn’t really like it. He should have drained the Slayer when he had the chance, not given her the opportunity to stake his mate. If anything happened to Cordelia he was certain that he would rip Buffy Summers apart piece by piece. Vamping out at the idea of it, Angelus tried to temper his anger. He watched the fight with a wary eye. If only he had the opportunity to train Cordelia during the past year, he might not be so worried about it.
Flipping to her feet, Buffy found the stake that had been knocked out of her hand and ran toward Cordelia who was still on the ground. Before the vampiress could react, the other girl was on top of her holding the stake over her head and about to deal a striking blow.
Buffy hesitated long enough for Cordelia to grab her wrist. The blonde was certain that she heard the vamp’s voice in her head. Not only that, but she had obeyed the command to stop. Suddenly, Buffy understood the reason for Willow’s betrayal. The vampiress had enthralled the girl and was now trying it out on her.
“That’ll be the last time you tell me what to do,” Buffy rolled with her foe across the dry grass as Cordelia flipped them over.
“Know it,” Buffy was certain that she could overcome the thrall if she knew it was there.
Cordelia didn’t like the sound of that. Before she had any hope of defeating the Slayer, she needed to disarm her. The stake was just the first of Buffy’s many weapons. The rest were all natural stemming directly from her inborn instincts. After several minutes of acrobatic moves, Cordelia managed to wrest the stake away. She tossed it as far as she could away from the site of their melee. From the corner of her eye, Cordelia noticed that Puppy ran after the stake obviously thinking that they were playing fetch.
Drat! Puppy actually liked the Slayer. She’d have to be careful that the hellhound didn’t bring the stake back as part of his game.
Wesley called out to Buffy asking her if she wanted another stake, but the Slayer knew the rules. “No interference.”
“That’s right, Slayer. No help from your strangely attractive friend over there or else I get to ask my family to play along with our little game,” Cordelia warned her as they circled each other.
Buffy surveyed the landscape around them seeing nothing that immediately came to mind as a weapon she could use against the vampiress. That left just her, which was fine as far as she was concerned. Taking a fighting stance, Buffy awaited Cordelia’s approach. As with all vampires, Cordy possessed instinctive abilities, but they combined with some of the acrobatic techniques she learned as a cheerleader.
Having seen these moves in action the last time they fought, Buffy expected to see them again. Her own experience cheerleading back in LA gave her knowledge that she hoped would allow her to anticipate Cordy’s moves.
The vampiress surprised her. Instead of flipping into one of her trademark moves, Cordy charged in directly. She attacked the Slayer with a series of aggressive punches dodging out of the way of Buffy’s defensive moves. From the sidelines, Angelus realized he had seen the technique before. Glancing over at Spike, he saw his blond grandchilde grinning from ear to ear as Cordelia kept up her assault.
Apparently at least part of the time they had spent together in Mexico had been occupied by something productive, Angelus mused before turning his attention back to his mate. He’d never been a nail biter, but this nervous feeling in his stomach wouldn’t go away. It was terrible and seemed to get worse with each passing second.
The urge to jump into the fray and defend his mate was almost overpowering, but there was also something else. It annoyed him when he thought about it, but the vampire realized that these damn feelings stemmed from something far more than possessiveness. From far more than the fact that Cordelia belonged to him and he was the only one with the right to touch her.
The feelings seemed indescribable to Angelus. What was this? Residual sap left behind by the Soul? Vampires didn’t feel love. It couldn’t be that. If she survived this— when she survived this— Angelus was going to ensure that he discovered exactly what it was he was feeling.
Surprised by Cordelia’s straight-on attack, Buffy had to adjust her defense, but her foe took full advantage of the opportunity. Only when the Slayer was off-balance did she resort to her own acrobatic fighting technique. Cordelia landed on top of her, knocking Buffy onto her back.
Then suddenly, Puppy was standing there before them gazing with his eager brown eyes holding the stake in his mouth. Both Cordelia and Buffy saw it. Both had the strength and speed to wrest it away. Only Cordelia had one advantage.
With the speed of thought, Cordy ordered Puppy to obey her command. The dog bounded around to the other side of the Slayer and released the stake into Cordelia’s waiting hand before Buffy realized what was happening. Using her vampiric speed, Cordy flipped the stake into a firm hold and plunged it into Buffy Summer’s living heart.
A cry sounded in the night. Wesley stumbled forward as he realized his new charge was dying. Angelus, Drusilla and Spike also moved closer to observe this moment. Buffy’s eyes turned toward Angelus and she reached out her hand to him now slightly delirious from loss of blood.
“Angel,” she whispered.
“Stay away from her, you bastard,” Wesley warned holding up the crossbow. Even if he died, taking out Angelus would be worth it.
The vampire stood his ground and continued to look down at the dying girl on the grassy hill. “The Soul is gone, Buff. This time it really is goodbye.”
One of the minions crept up behind Wes and snatched the crossbow away. Jude told the Watcher to be still before the master forgot about the truce between them. Seeing that he had no choice, Wesley kept his mouth shut and watched as the blond vampire whom he assumed to be William the Bloody knelt down beside Buffy.
Taking her hand in his, Spike leaned in close. “Sorry it wasn’t me, Slayer. We would’ve had a merry dance.”
“Spike,” she choked out his name as a bloody cough accompanied its utterance. The red blood staining her lips drew him down and he kissed the Slayer farewell licking his lips as he came back up.
Turning his head to glance at Cordelia, Spike saw that she was sitting atop the slight form of the Slayer with an almost shocked look on her face. “Your first Slayer, luv. Good job.”
Cordelia blinked at the sound of his voice realizing that she had really done it. Buffy was dying beneath her. A rush of near-orgasmic pleasure washed across her body like nothing the vampiress had ever felt knowing that her vengeance was complete. Pride, triumph and strength surged through her while gazing down at her nemesis. Looking toward her mate, Cordelia exulted in the zealous expression of pride upon his face.
The Slayer’s blood was pouring from her body now staining the grass. Its smell was intoxicating and Cordelia found herself running her tongue along her fangs. “Buffy,” she brushed a hand through the blond strands of her hair. “You deserve so much more than this simple death, but that is all I am going to give you.”
Standing, Cordelia realized that she didn’t want anything from Buffy Summers. Not even her blood. Nothing that would stay with her after this moment. “Wait until she’s dead,” Cordelia ordered her minions. “Then let the Watcher have her body. Let him take it and bury it in the ground where it will stay. Buffy deserves that much in death. After all, she saved the world— a lot.”
Suddenly, Angelus yanked her flush against him wrapping his strong arms around her blood-covered form. A serious gleam replaced the delight in her triumphant victory over the slayer. After covering her mouth in an ardent kiss, Angelus commanded, “Don’t ever make me agree to that kind of deal again, Cordelia. It’s my right to defend you.”
Confused, “Did I look like I needed defending?”
“Against the best Slayer I’ve ever seen?” Angelus raised an eyebrow as if hesitant to give her the answer. “You were amazing— my wild tigress in action.”
“What was that?” Cordelia queried guilelessly. “I don’t think I heard you.”
“Amazing,” he repeated louder giving her due respect. Then Angelus was cupping her face and looking serious, “No more schemes unless I’m in on the deal. No more fights unless the family is allowed to back you up.”
“Next time I’m fighting a Slayer feel free to step right in.” Cordelia encircled his neck reaching up to touch her cheek to his. Joking, “We can turn it into a family picnic.”
Setting her at arms length, Angelus intently gazed into her eyes as he demanded her obedience on this matter. “I’ll have your word on it, Cordy. No games.”
Now that her revenge against the Slayer was over, Cordelia honestly had no other major schemes in the works. I would be an easy promise to make, but she hesitated because Angelus seemed overly insistent upon her vowing to behave. He was being his usually overprotective self, but there seemed to be something more to it.
“Swearing on a stack of Bibles might hurt a bit,” she quipped. “Care to tell me why I’ll be torturing myself to make you happy?”
Frustrated with Cordelia’s tendency to turn everything to amusement, Angelus growled out, “I don’t want eternity without you.”
Stunned at her mate’s confession, Cordelia realized that other than pure lust, this was the closest thing to honest emotion Angelus had ever expressed to her. The vampire was not one to wear his feelings on his sleeve, at least not the ones akin to love. Angelus was a master of the darker emotions and could manipulate the sensitive yearnings of those he encountered, but to experience that same sentimental attachment seemed impossible to imagine.
Yet there was truth staring down at her from the depths of Angelus’ eyes. From her own new understanding, Cordelia recognized more than mere possessiveness, more than just obsession. It was the same stirring emotion that bound her heart to her mate— love. He wouldn’t know it. A vampire like himself determined to cast off any shred of similarity between his nature now and when his soul resided within would not willingly admit to such a feeling.
Cordelia knew this for a fact, but did not balk at the thought. A vampire like Angelus had never been offered love in its truest form. He would think it a weakness, an emotion that preyed upon the strong. Not until he experienced it. Not until he could know the give and take of it. Love Angelus? There was no question in Cordelia’s mind.
Touching her fingertips to the vampire’s face, Cordelia reached out with her thoughts and showed him the depths of her feelings. There was neither demand for reciprocation nor any attempt to alter Angelus’ unwillingness or inability to reach an accord with his own emotions. She simply shared her own.
Angelus. My sire. My mate. My love. You are my eternity.
They were entangled in each other’s arms before Cordelia even finished communicating her love for her vampire mate. Angelus broke the kiss with a low rumbling growl, “You and I have an overdue appointment with our bed and a certain mirror.”
Clinging closely to Angelus, the vampiress rested her head on his shoulder as they strolled back to the mansion. The glorious darkness surrounding them was lit by moonlight and the stars and filled with sounds of creatures heard only after sunset. Her vampiric senses stretched out to listen and heard the soft sobs of the human Watcher follow the Slayer’s dying breath.
It was all ahead of them now, Cordelia realized with complete contentment. They owned Sunnydale and the Order of Aurelius would reign supreme over the Hellmouth. Between Angelus and herself there was nothing unattainable. Eternity together might not be long enough.
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