Soulbound – Book 2: Chapter 4
Whew! Made it to work. Gonna kill Doyle. Those creepy guys on the bus kept staring. Doyle is a dead man.
Cordelia Chase stepped into the office and shut the door, leaning back against it as it closed. The black leather duster that she had borrowed from Angel last night was a stroke of brilliance. Okay, so he didn’t know she borrowed it. Oops! Looks like he did now.
Angel was leaning against the doorframe of the inner office while Doyle sat on the couch. Both were obviously awaiting her arrival with great interest. Stupid male grins on their faces. All because she lost a bet with Doyle— he was gonna be dead as a doornail when she was through with him.
Maybe Doyle had a right to be there grinning at her in triumph. He did win the stupid bet, after all. Angel was another story. The vampire better watch out. Lucky he was already a dead man— undead man. “What are you doing up so early?”
“I think that is quite obvious,” he had the nerve to reply.
“Good morning, Cordy,” Doyle chimed in eagerly noting that she was enveloped in their boss’ black leather coat from neck to ankles. All that could be seen was her head with its upswept hair bound by a clip and the four-inch heels on the boots showing at the bottom of the coat. Looked like she hadn’t chickened out after all. “Aren’t you a little warm in that thing?”
“So what if it’s already 80-degrees outside and I’m bathed in leather? Did you honestly want those construction workers on the bus to see me like this—?” Cordelia unknotted the belt revealing the outfit Doyle had selected for her twelve hours of hell.
Holding open the sides of the coat, she flashed what lay beneath before wrapping it close again. “You are such a dead man,” she muttered while watching Doyle’s eyes pop out of his head.
There was a look of fury on Angel’s face as though he had not expected the dominatrix outfit to look quite so— revealing. When he had initially described it to Cordelia, the Irishman simply talked about black boots and leather. That brief look brought back too many memories and Angel’s frown suddenly reversed itself into a soft smirk. Seeing it, Cordelia took it to mean that the vampire was following Doyle’s rotten example.
Walking up to them, Cordy made a decision. If they wanted to have fun with this— so would she! Never give in. Never surrender. By the end of the day, she’d have them begging to paint her apartment.
Opening the coat again, shrugging it off her bare shoulders, Cordelia thrust it into the arms of its owner. Angel grabbed at it, managing to catch it before it fell. His attention was— elsewhere. His dark gaze left her face almost immediately, wandering down the bare expanse of her throat to focus on the luscious curves of her breasts. Propped up by the leather corset she was wearing, Angel certainly had an eyeful. Especially since her four-inch heels raised her closer to his face.
Cordelia’s heartbeat picked up as the vampire continued to take his time looking. Those eyes dropped further to the leather mini that she knew barely covered her ass leaving her thighs exposed to his view. The rest of her legs including her knees were covered in black leather and deadly heels. Angel’s eyes sparkled with lust as he met her gaze again, but he said nothing.
Reaching behind her back, Cordelia pulled her only prop from its hidden place inside her corset— a riding crop. Pointing it directly at the vampire’s chest, she issued a warning in what she hoped was a commanding tone.
“Stay out of this, Angel,” she glared meaningfully. “If you’re a good little vampire, mind your manners— and your own business, I won’t have to punish you for interfering.”
Angel bit back his laughter. Trust Cordy to pull out all the stops in order to turn the tables on Doyle. He almost felt sorry for the man. Trying to remember that this was all in fun— despite knowing that Doyle’s affections for Cordy were very real— Angel decided to be cool about all this. Getting in the middle would only get him into hot water, but that was right where he liked it.
Clasping her wrist, Angel yanked her close causing Cordelia’s eyes to widen in surprise at his show of dominance. Leaning in toward her neck, the vampire seemed to be taking in her scent. “No sniffing!”
With his mouth up close to her, he wanted badly to taste her skin. Instead, he tilted his dark head up to her ear and whispered, “Have fun today. We’ll talk punishment later.”
Doyle watched the exchange from his spot on the couch, feeling like an interloper in a very private moment. Then Angel released Cordy and promptly disappeared into his office. “Well, I always heard vampires got off on bondage and leather. Looks like that is one more myth confirmed.”
“What did he say to you?” Doyle asked as he got up from the couch. Then he noticed that Cordelia now towered over him. His mouth dropped open again as his eyes traveled the length of her legs.
Cordy tapped the riding crop against her thigh. A slow smile curled her lips. “He gave me permission to have my way with you, Doyle.”
The look of sudden fear in the Irishman’s eyes gave Cordelia a little spark as she let the looping edge of the crop brush against his cheek. “The boss is gonna look the other way. If this gets outta line, Doyle, you’re gonna pay and I’m gonna enjoy it.”
Doyle wondered where his sweet ex-cheerleader had gone to. She had been transformed into this dangerously sexy creature. Gulping down the lump in his throat, he prayed that this was all an act. Yeah, he reminded himself. She was an actress. Just an act.
Tugging on his collar, Doyle suggested, “I think we need to review the rules again.”
“First off,” Cordy told him brushing past him to move to her desk. “Hands off. You can leer all you want. I suggest you look your fill because if you ever tell anyone I know about this, I’ll gouge your eyeballs out.”
“Got it,” he tried not to laugh. “Just remember that there are a few rules for you as well. That little riding crop is just a prop— no taking out your frustrations on me. If I go out, so do you and without the cover-up.”
Meeting the challenge in his gaze, Cordelia promised, “I’ll go. If you dare to make me. As soon as we’re out that door, I can tell anyone I want anything I want.”
The thought shriveled his—, “Just don’t use our real names out there. I don’t want word getting back to anyone anymore than you do.”
“Got it, poodle.”
“Poodle? I’m Irish, not French.”
“You’re a poodle if I say so,” countered Cordy sitting down. “Now go sit on the couch and leer at me while I work.”
Slumping down on the couch, Doyle put his feet up on the coffee table. This was going to be a long day. Why was it that if he won this bet, it was Cordelia who seemed to be having all of the fun? He did his best to brood about it, having observed the master of the broody method on many an occasion, but could not focus on it. The sight of Cordy in all that black leather was just too good to be true and so leaning back comfortably, he turned his eyes in her direction and quietly did as she commanded— he leered.
When dinnertime finally rolled around, Doyle indicated that he wanted to grab some deli sandwiches from around the corner. Cordelia had lucked out and they had no clients walk into the office, but he wanted to have a little fun before the end of the day. As promised, the girl made him wish he never set foot out the door. Now he wouldn’t be able to eat at the deli again without the guy behind the counter asking how much meat his girlfriend liked on her sandwich.
“That was an entirely disgusting display,” Doyle told her as they headed back across the street. “I can’t believe you said that to the man. You almost gave him a heart attack!”
Cordelia tugged at his sleeve to get the seer to slow down. Trying to keep up with him in these heels was not easy. “Warned you earlier not to take me out of the building.”
“And so you did,” he conceded reluctantly. “Just promise me one thing, Cordelia Chase.”
“Never, ever make a bet with me again,” Doyle gripped the take-out bag in his fist. “I can’t believe you said that!”
Cordy rolled her eyes. “Get over it, poodle.”
Taking her hand, Doyle led her to a short cut through the underground parking. This way she wouldn’t have to walk around the block in those heels. Going deeper into the garage, the sounds of crashing metal could be heard. “What’s that?”
Rounding a pillar, they saw Angel pinning a blond vampire against one of the cars. Cordy recognized the other vamp instantly. “Omigod! Doyle, it’s Spike.”
The sound of Cordelia’s voice distracted Angel who pulled back allowing Spike to throw another punch. They had been fighting for a while and Spike found himself getting bored. His grandsire refused to give up the whereabouts of the Ring of Amarra, which he learned was now in Angel’s possession. What did he need the bloody ring for anyway? He wasn’t even wearing it.
Seeing the two humans, Spike was inspired. A plan popped into his head. First, he would have a little fun.
“I see you still have the chit with you,” Spike nodded in Cordy’s direction between the punches. “Got her all dolled up like a proper vamp— only she’s not. Still smells human.”
Angel bashed his fist into Spike’s nose. “Don’t talk about her.”
“Yeah. I’ve heard the speech,” the younger vampire reminded. “No dreamin’, thinkin’ or touchin’. You always were stingy with your things. Never sharin’ what’s yours.”
Cordelia and Doyle were much closer now. So close that she overheard every word that came out of Spike’s big mouth. “Just tell me where the damn ring is. I’ll be out of your spiky gelled hair and on my way.”
Angel had put the ring away where he figured no one would find it. The power granted by the gem of Amara was a temptation that Angel felt he did not need at this point in his existence. If he had the ring as the soulless Angelus, the world would have been drowned in a bloodbath with no one to stop him.
It wasn’t the fact that Spike wanted the ring, or that he was fighting Angel to get it that caused him to vamp out. He paused, trying to control the urge to kill his grandchilde. If Spike would leave, then it wouldn’t be necessary, but the blond vamp’s attention was on Cordelia— his mate. One wrong move and Angel would forget the bonds of blood and make certain Spike would never bother her or anyone again.
Daring to speak directly to her, Spike let his blue gaze take in the corset, mini-skirt and boots. The chit certainly had a rack on her. “You look smashing. This new look suits a vampire’s—”
“Secretary,” Angel blurted out as he moved a little closer.
Spike’s head turned toward him while narrowing his gaze. “Secretary?”
“It’s the new trend in office fashion,” Doyle plugged in.
“No one asked you, mick.” Spike ignored him, walking forward a few steps, but staying far enough away not to cause the other vampire to attack him. “This is family business.”
Cordelia watched his approach warily and darted glances at Angel whose gaze remained at pinpoint focus on Spike. The blond vampire kept looking at her as if she was someone else. Family business? What was up with that? Now his head was tilted to the side as a puzzled expression appeared on his face.
“Is she a clone?” Spike asked with interest. “Still smells the same, but her scar is gone.”
What was it with vampires and neck scars? Geez, have a little surgery and suddenly everyone was a critic. “I had it removed, Bleach Brain.”
Suddenly, Spike was doubled over with laughter. “Removed? You had it removed. Oh, Angelus, you gotta love that.”
Angel hated it.
A low growl emanated from his throat as Angel moved forward, pausing only when Spike stood up straight again. He saw that the Irishman looked equally confused as he had been a moment ago. “What scar?” he asked Cordy.
Both Spike and Cordelia answered his query.
Running a hand along her throat, Cordy explained, “Barbeque fork.”
“Vampire bite,” Spike commented simultaneously.
Cordelia gaped, “What?!”
“What?!” Spike figured the chit was in denial. That or she was trying to hide something.
Angel cringed. He needed to get Spike out of here now before he revealed everything to Cordelia. How was it that his grandchilde remained unaffected by Willow’s memory spell? Damn! Spike had already left Sunnydale to go after Drusilla. He was safely out of the range of the spell when Willow cast it.
“Get out of here, Spike,” warned Angel. He was getting very, very close to losing it.
Spike figured it was a good idea. Something strange was happening here between his grandsire and the chit. Getting the ring was obviously a priority, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t have fun with this at the same time. “I’m going.”
“Good,” Angel was now at Cordelia’s side putting himself slightly in front of her as a barrier between his mate and the vampire.
“Just one thing, Peaches,” Spike said having already walked some distance away before turning around. “Make that two. The ring will be mine— and if you let your property run around without a mark on it don’t blame me if some other vamp decides to stake a claim before you do.”
Angel was about to tear after Spike when he felt a hand fisted into his jacket. “Let him go, Angel. I don’t want you hurt. Spike is too dangerous to play games with.”
“Cordelia, you don’t understand what is happening,” Angel growled still in vamp face. Now her little distraction had given Spike the precious seconds needed to escape.
Hands on her hips now and taking a stance, Cordy demanded, “Then start talking, buster. I’m getting this weird vibe that Spike knows something I don’t. Gotta tell you that is not a pleasant feeling.”
This wasn’t the time. Angel needed to think about how he was going to explain things to Cordy without explaining things to Cordy. There had to be a middle ground in all of this mess. “I don’t have the time.”
What?! “Well you better make the time— Peaches!”
“Why is Spike calling Angel a fruit?” Doyle whispered the question.
“Shut up, poodle!” Cordy glared at the man. “I want answers.”
Reverting to his human visage, Angel let out a long sigh. Spike had always been a royal pain in the ass, even in his days as William the Bloody. The trouble-maker in him just looked for ways to defy his grandsire. Angel wondered if this wasn’t part of a vengeance scheme on Spike’s part since he claimed that he and Dru felt abandoned after Angelus left them Europe.
“Cordy,” the vampire began to edge toward his black convertible. “Can’t talk right now. I got a call from Rachel. It’s Lenny again. She needs help.”
Rachel was one of their regulars. A girl in love with a creep who kept beating her. Angel was her dark knight, constantly rescuing her from harm. “Is she okay?”
Cordelia sounded concerned, letting go her need to have immediate answers. Following behind as Angel retrieved his car keys from the garage floor, Cordy and Doyle heard him say, “Yeah. I think so, but Lenny is out of jail. She’s afraid.”
Opening the car door, Angel paused long enough to brush his hand over Cordelia’s soft cheek. It dropped to her neck, his thumb subconsciously rubbing along the pulse there. “I want you out of danger until this thing with Spike is over. He’s out for blood.”
Glancing over at Doyle, he issued orders. “Take her to your place.”
“His place?” Cordy didn’t see the need. “Why can’t I just go home?”
“Because Spike knows you, Cordelia,” stressed Angel. Then silently added, “And now he has it in his head that he wants you— just to spite me.”
Doyle figured, “The vamp could track you down, Cordy.”
“Yeah, but he’s not invited, right. He can’t come into my apartment.”
“No, but he could burn the place to the ground,” Doyle pointed out. “If he doesn’t get what he wants, Spike might do just that.”
With a sigh, Cordelia agreed to the plan. “As long as we stop by my place long enough for me to grab some other clothes. I’m not gonna stay in this getup any longer than I have to. In fact, if Spike wants to burn something, I’ll donate it to the cause.”
Angel was in the car now, turning on the engine. Don’t say it, he cautioned himself. Keep your mouth shut. “That would be a shame, baby. You look good in leather.”
A blush crept over her face also flushing her neck and the half-exposed mounds of her breasts. Cordelia hoped her mouth wasn’t gaping open. Trying to ignore the comment that left her system charged with all kinds of tingly feelings, she asked, “What are you going to do about Spike?
“Find him first.” The convertible pulled out of the parking spot and Angel was gone into the night.
The childe of chaos has planted his seed of doubt in the mind of the Seer-to-Be. The one wildcard that might tip the scales once again away from the forces of Order, unraveling the predestined path.
SOULBOUND – BOOK TWO – THE NEXT CONNECTION: CHAPTER LINKS