Soulbound – Book 2: Chapter 13
The foretold has come to pass, a first stop on the crossroads of decision. Now weigh in balance the future of the world and pledges of the heart. Can such be intertwined? Is there a mean to their measure? Or must the heart and the hero walk separate paths though they stay side by side? The link between our Champion and his Seer-to-Be grows deeper, but the portents of this variable signal danger to us all as the End of Days draws near.
Angel and Cordelia emerged from their kiss, their eyes glued to each other. Gasping for air, the former vampire had forgotten to breathe. Laughter erupted from Cordy’s throat as she realized it. Cupping his face with both hands, she leaned back up with a soft smooch against his face. “What is it about you and beaches?”
Cordelia flashed him her megawatt grin. Here they were within sight of the ocean, kissing again. The wind blew at the long strands of her chestnut hair as she glanced over her shoulder toward the white sandy shore. Angel brushed at the strands tickling at her cheek, “Wanna get wet?”
A mischievous spark indicated there was more to the suggestion than fun in the sun. She slowly came to realize what he was hinting at. Oh God! Oh, no! He couldn’t have heard something. Obviously, he did hear— and was now calling her on it. Those dreams about him! Those scrubbing with bubbles dreams she’d had every night while at his apartment.
With a intake of breath, Cordy pushed at his shoulders thrusting him away. Embarrassed laughter tumbled from her lips as she whirled back to grip the park railing separating it from the beach. Not looking at him, “Angel! I swear I didn’t know that I talked in my sleep. Besides, you shouldn’t spy on people with your vampire hearing.”
“Won’t do it anymore.” Angel gripped the railing with a hand on each side of her coming up close to put his chin on her shoulder.
“Hello, human now!” It was easy to make promises like that when the vampire hearing in question was no longer an issue. “No spying with your human senses either.”
Cordelia snuggled her head against his shoulder and then noticed the scattered remains of her cherry-flavored drink on the ground. Then it hit her that she bought it when she came to the park with Buffy. They had left the Lone Star after Cordy explained the demon that had attacked them was dead. Passing by, Buffy asked if they could stop for a few minutes before going back to Angel Investigations.
Never one to turn down a challenge— and Cordy sensed that was part of the other girl’s request— she agreed to the idea. They walked in the park along the railing overlooking the beach and the ocean beyond just chatting about high school. Some of their escapades together were rather amusing and both laughed at the memory of their rivalry for Homecoming Queen. It seemed rather silly now, especially considering that they lost.
But Buffy hadn’t asked to stop and look at the ocean just for the view or to talk to Cordy about the Class Protector Award the Slayer received at the prom. This talk was all about Angel. Cordy kept her promise— she never said a word about Angel being human. It was almost a thrill to hold that secret, knowing Buffy probably dreamt about that very thing about a million times.
Well blondes weren’t the only ones with dreams. Ex-cheerleading, wanna-be-an-actress secretaries had them too. And if it was her inner bitch that led Cordelia to smile about it, she thought, then— baby, I’m back.
“So—,” Cordelia decided to skip over the pleasantries and go straight for the jugular. “How’s the boyfriend?”
Buffy had whirled around with a fish-mouth gape. “What? How did you know?”
“I have my sources,” purred Cordelia. Even though she knew that Willow would kill her for it later. The redhead let it slip in one of her emails that Buffy was trying to get her life back to normal again and had been making goo-goo eyes at one of the teacher’s assistants at Sunnydale University.
Actually, Cordelia knew nothing. She was just drawing conclusions about the evidence at hand. “I have friends at Sunny U.”
On the defensive, Buffy demanded the truth, “Does Angel know?”
“Completely clueless,” she told her. “Like I would tell my friend something I know might hurt him. Pfft!”
“Your friend?” Buffy was fishing now, emphasizing the word as if doubting that Cordelia would know its meaning.
Narrowing her gaze, Cordelia sipped on her cherry drink before answering. “Yeah. My friend. My best friend nowadays besides Doyle. Anyway, Angel is my boss— he pays me to keep him happy.”
“Huh? How happy?”
Agape, Cordelia couldn’t believe Buffy actually implied that sex might be a perk of the job. “Not happy that way, you blond twit!”
Though that was one perk of the job Cordelia had been dreaming about on a night-after-night basis. For good measure and just to throw the Slayer off the scent, Cordy added, “Hello, vampire! Comes with a curse. Slightly used.”
“You bitch! That’s a horrid thing to say.”
With a shrug, Cordelia turned her back to the beach as she leaned against the railing. It came to her that now he was human, Angel’s curse would be no more. No soul loss. No Angelus. Just Angel. What would that be like? Would he still be heart-stopping sexy as a human as he was with that dark current that threaded through him as a vampire? Mmm! God, yes! He certainly looked it. And what a lovable moron! Just the look on his face as he ate his way through their entire office mini-fridge was enough to stop her heart.
“Is there something going on between you two?” Buffy wanted to know even though it would hurt her to the core. She had to have the truth.
“Something? I don’t know,” Cordelia had to say. That day on the beach after Marcus nearly killed him had been something. Definitely something, she thought with a secret smile that drew Buffy’s suspicions. Then Cordelia reminded herself of their mutual pact to ignore any feelings of attraction. “It’s— nothing. Just friends, Buffy. That’s what we are. What we’re gonna be now and tomorrow.”
Buffy felt like asking about the day after that. There was just something in the way that Angel had looked at Cordelia before she left for the movies, or wherever, with that foreign-sounding guy— the sidekick with the visions. The look he sent in Cordelia’s direction was more than just the questioning gaze of a friend; it was personal and intimate. But then, he had turned back to her with the same expression he always had in his eyes, except that it turned to guilt knowing she discovered his fly-by-night trip to Sunnydale.
“Yep!” Cordy leaned back, closing her eyes and letting her long hair fly in the breeze. She hoped this conversation was over. “We should be getting back soon.”
The discussion had not really quelled Buffy’s fears nor done anything for Cordelia except prove that the Slayer could still get jealous and possessive about her ex-boyfriend. Buffy was looking out at the ocean staring at the horizon while Cordy now watched the path of fluffy white clouds roll by overhead.
“It’s so beautiful here,” Cordy heard Buffy say.
And then there was Angel.
Cordelia had been so lost in his kiss and the laughter that followed. Gazing down at the red ice spread out on the white sand, she thought of Buffy Summers. The Slayer was no where in sight. Seeing Angel human was shock enough for any ex-girlfriend, but to see him bypass her to sweep Cordelia into his arms— that must have hurt beyond measure. Even Cordy felt a little sorry for the Slayer.
With his lips nuzzling at her neck— no doubt a former-vampire habit— Cordelia leaned into it pressing her back against the hard expanse of his chest. She felt so safe there. Her Dark Avenger might no longer be a vampire, but he had always been her protector and that would never change.
Thoughts of Buffy made Cordy realize something that made the butterflies take flight inside her. “Angel?”
Turning her head so she could see his face, Cordelia smiled at the word before revealing the source of her confusion. “Me, Angel? You came to me? Want me?”
The touch of his hand along her smooth upper arm conveyed his desire, just a light touch that spread shivers along every circuit inside her. “I want you.”
“Not Buffy? Not the Slayer? Not your star-crossed love of all time?” Cordelia turned so that she faced him. With her back against the railing, their bodies were pressed close and she could not help but notice Angel’s arousal. Still, she wanted a verbal response to her question too.
Sometimes Angel felt like he needed to carry around a tape recorder just to avoid answering the same question over and over again— even to himself. His wandering touch moved to her shoulder, where his thumb made brushstrokes along her collarbone. After a beat, he answered.
“Buffy is my first love. She will always have some corner of my heart, I can’t deny that. She showed me what it was like to open up your heart to someone.” Angel thumb made a rhythm against her skin slipping beneath the edge of her halter top. “Don’t be afraid of that, Cordy. Don’t ever worry about the past, because it’s behind us.”
“Yeah, but it knows where we live,” quipped Cordelia who nibbled on her lower lip. “The past catches up to you, Angel. Just like my parents— they couldn’t escape the tax man any more than I can escape the shattered reputation they left behind.”
Angel felt a twinge of guilt again. He could have prevented her destitution after the IRS claimed everything the Chase family owned. Except he wasn’t there, having left Cordelia and Buffy in Sunnydale, their memories altered. Yes, they left the past behind them— a little too far behind, but this was a chance to start over.
“Buffy won’t come after you,” Angel hoped she wasn’t afraid of that. “Reality may have been a little harsh on her today, but she’s a big girl. Told me so herself. Besides, she has a boyfriend back in Sunnydale.”
“Meaning you knew?”
She was quick to deny it. “Just suspicious— until today.”
Letting that sink in, Angel found himself surprised that she had not even hinted at the idea. “Doesn’t matter, Cordy. You’ve been in my heart longer than you know.”
Really? Cordelia felt her skin flush under the impact of his accompanying smile.
Angel continued, “I’ve been crazy with wanting you— needing to touch you. To make you mine again in the worst way.”
“Again?” Cordelia caught that error even through her haze of pleasure at hearing the words.
“I have you every night in my dreams,” he realized what he’d said, covering his slip with another confession. “But I’ve been trying my best to stay away from you, to be the hands-off boss you needed me to be.”
“Pfft! Who wants that? I like your hands on me.”
Angel grinned at the words. “See— we have a lot in common.”
He was still smiling as Cordelia moved in to kiss him, her hands sweeping up his arms to encircle his neck. Her eyes were still open as she nibbled at his lips softly, watching him watching her take this initiative. Tentatively, she brushed her tongue along his bottom lip and reacted with more intensity when it sent a shudder throughout his body. Closing her eyes, she took his kiss and let her hands explore the sculpted angles of his torso through the barrier of his clothes.
Breaking away from his mouth, Cordelia laid her cheek on his jaw with her warm breath panting on his ear. “Touch me, Angel. Use those hands on me. I want to feel them.”
The fact that they were in a public park standing along a railing in full view of anyone who might walk by seemed a distant concern. It never occurred to Angel who took her plea to heart and let his hands take pleasure in giving hers. He started with her face, just letting his fingers take in the beauty of her features, brushing against her cheekbones, jaw and mouth. Where Angel touched, his lips followed with a whispered kiss.
Not one to be idle despite the mind numbing sensations of Angel’s fingers and mouth on her throat, Cordelia unbuttoned his shirt far enough to get her hands inside.
“Mmm!” Cordy’s head tilted to the side as Angel nuzzled a spot along her throat. Though it was the place her scar had been removed, she made no connection. Her body just jerked with a start as his human teeth nibbled at that place. Gasping, “Angel!”
Oh, yeah. Not a vampire, Angel reminded himself before moving on. The soft scrape of Cordelia’s nails along his sensitive nipples had him reaching behind her for the string tie of her top. Angel pulled against the string freeing the bottom part of the triangle-shaped cloth. It clung to her breasts, remaining in place only because of the other string at her throat.
Cordelia felt his hands on her back untying the string. With shiver, her eyelids flashed open. Angel captured her gaze with his, silently expressing his desire with eyes glazed and dark with lust. One large hand pressed against her back just between her shoulder blades, holding her as he leaned her at a slight angle against the railing. Her breathing came hard as Cordelia felt the other one curve up and over her shoulder moving down to palm her left breast still under the barrier of her top.
He stayed that way for only an instant, letting his fingers trail down across her clothed nipple before slipping his hand onto the exposed skin of her stomach. It seemed that her navel was directly connected to her groin because as his finger ringed her concave belly button, Cordy felt moisture dampening her panties.
Then Angel bent low, continuing his pattern of following caresses with kisses and let his tongue delve into the slight indentation there. Rolling her eyes closed, Cordelia felt like she was on the brink of something, but surely it couldn’t be— that. Angel was just letting his hands roam free, letting his mouth touch her skin.
Forcing herself to look down, Cordelia’s body flushed at the sight of his dark head at her waist. Grabbing his shirt at his shoulders, she yanked him back up to the level of her mouth. She was feeling a little frantic now, needing to touch him too, but Angel took her hands away from their tangled spot in his hair to curl her fingers along the railing behind her.
Murmuring a protest against his mouth, Cordy soon forgot as the sunbursts returned to her mind’s eye. Angel lifted his hands from hers, hovering just long enough to ensure that they would stay there. He touched his way up from the curve of her hips and tiny waist to the ticklish spot on her ribs that caused her to giggle even though it was smothered by his kiss.
Angel let out a groan as his hands slipped higher, his thumbs tracing the swell of both full breasts. Then his hands curved around them as his eyes hungrily gazed at the hard nipples poking up beneath thin covering of the patterned cloth. They were begging for his mouth.
“Yo! Lovebirds!” A voice behind them caused Angel to drop his hands to his side and whirl around in a defensive stance protecting Cordelia from the stranger’s view.
It was a bicycle cop, already getting off his two-wheeled vehicle. “Getting a little hot and heavy for a public park.”
Cordelia crouched behind Angel, quickly tying the strings of her top in place. Then she peeked out around Angel’s shoulder and since he couldn’t seem to form a sentence gave the cop a guilty grin. “Sorry about that, officer. We were just kissing.”
“Uh, huh.” It was clear that he had seen a little more than that.
Angel finally found his voice. “We’ll go.”
“Look,” the cop pointed out, “normally I’d have to give you a ticket. Luckily, no saw you. Or, if they did, no one complained. I’ll let you off with a warning.”
Cordy flashed him a charming smile, “Thanks.”
“Just— go cool off.”
As the cop got back on his bike and wheeled off down the sidewalk, they turned to each other and burst into laughter. Cordy twirled away from the railing holding a hand to her chest at the force of it. “That was embarrassing,” she snorted.
Catching her hand, Angel suggested, “We should get back to the office.”
“Oh! Doyle will be wondering where you are.”
“He knows I’m with you.”
That caused her voice to soften. “Doyle knows? You told Doyle about— wanting me?”
“Didn’t have to. He figured it out himself.”
“Huh! Sneaky Irish guy. He kept hinting at me, too,” Cordy realized.
Glancing over his shoulder, Cordelia shook her head. “No. Have to follow the officer’s orders. Gotta cool off first.”
“What do you—,” Angel started to ask only to have Cordy lead him to the path winding down to the beach.
With an impish grin, Cordy told him to take off his shoes and socks. She slipped off her floppy sandals and let her toes curl into the warm sand. Angel followed suit, enjoying the sensation of the sand against his feet. He watched as Cordy knelt down to roll up his pant legs. Then upon rising again, she grabbed his hand and led him down to the water.
They walked and talked with the waves dancing at their feet. They ran like children playing upon the sand, taking joy in the day and their happiness with each other. And watched as the sun set into the horizon, Angel behind Cordelia with his arms surrounding her hugging her to his chest.
Cordelia watched the sunset from the periphery of her vision. Her head was tilted so that her ear pressed against the left side of his chest, listening to the rhythmic beating of his heart. It called to something within her, something uniquely human— or something that should be. Her soul. Thought she did not recognize the cause of this link they shared, she could not deny the words that sprang to her lips in trembling realization of the news.
“Yes, baby?” He kissed her right temple softly.
“I love you.”
SOULBOUND – BOOK TWO – THE NEXT CONNECTION: CHAPTER LINKS