Soulbound – Book 2: Chapter 7
What say you, lower beings? Do your fairy stories tell it true— these childhood tales rooted in the depths of dark fantasy and deeper mores? Does the spell break with true love’s kiss? We Oracles can tell you that fantasy and reality are often separated by a thin thread.
The ride back from the pier descended into awkward silence as the trio climbed into Manny the Pig’s rolling love shack and headed for the offices of Angel Investigations.
Doyle was driving. He kept his eyes on the road and his ears closed. Not that there was anything to hear except the sound of a little heavy breathing. And not because Angel and Cordelia decided to take up where they left off at the beach. They had to be aware that he had seen them kissing— for five minutes at that— while he waited on the steps leading to the pier.
Feeling a little like a third person on a bicycle built for two, Doyle figured he would get off this unbearable ride at the next stop. “Look, you two. I need to get the Pig’s van back to the Orbit Room before Spike shows up. I’ll drop you off at the office and bring back your car later.”
Neither one argued the fact that they could have all gone to the Orbit Room to pick up the vampire’s convertible. Doyle wondered if they even heard him. They’d been locked into their kissy-faced mode for so long it looked like Angel and Cordy had trouble finding the energy to talk. Maybe it was just that their tongues were too tired to form words.
Oh God! Oh God! Oh God!
Cordelia’s mantra repeated on a continuous cycle of brain-freezing shock as she stared at the stock-still vampire sitting across from her. Kissing Angel. Mmm! Kissing Angel had been— Mmm!
Oh God! Oh God! Oh God!
She had been so happy to see him. That ring was amazing. Just amazing. Healed him up in seconds. No active bleeding. No wounds in fact. He looked pale, but alive in the sun. Looked so— wet with that shirt stuck to his muscled chest that way. One second she was hugging him. Happy. Just happy. Grateful to that damned ring for saving him, healing him. Then she did it— the dumb thing. That stupid thing. Kissed the ring. Touched her mouth to his skin.
Oh God! Oh God! Oh God!
Was it any wonder the vampire went a little grabby on her? Kissed her until sunbursts exploded in her head— yeah, really kissed her. Mmm!
Oh God! How could she be so dumb? For an instant, just an instant, Cordelia had felt like they were in love. Just two people in love on a beach in the sun. Sand between her naked toes, wind in her hair, warmth on her skin and a wet Angel in her arms. What more could a girl want?
Oh God! Oh God! Oh God!
Angel pressed himself as far back in the seat as was possible, holding his body perfectly erect against the leather backing of the swivel chair. Reminding himself that this was reality and not some stolen moment on a sandy beach with the woman he loved— and still couldn’t have— he gripped the arms of the chair until his nails dug into the leather. Cordelia sat across from him, staring at him like a startled deer faced with a predator.
Was that how she saw it? Could she be thinking of him like a predator stalking his prey? Not for food, though. It was something else he wanted and that was as frankly obvious as the stiff rod of flesh in his pants.
That wasn’t how it started. No. It started with her smile, then her touch, and then the soft press of her lips against his hand. After that, his instincts took over. How long had it been during these eternal months without her that he had been starved for her kisses? Missing the taste of her and the feel of her arms around him?
The vampire scowled as he thought about his weakness for Cordelia Chase. He couldn’t stop— he crossed the barrier he’d set up for himself. Pulling her into his arms. Kissing her breathless. She was still breathing hard. Panting, sucking the air into her lungs like he had taken it away.
Angel supposed he had. Her breath, the sweet taste of her. The special mix that was the essence of her blood, body and soul.
The ache in his groin was slowly subsiding as his anger at himself increased, but the ache in his heart worsened with each passing moment. Over the past few weeks— she hadn’t even been back with him two months yet— Cordelia had started to trust him once again. Without her memories of the year they had spent together, all that she had left was a false impression of his relationship with Buffy Summers and the knowledge that he had always kept her safe. That he watched over her even, if it was only on the periphery of her life in Sunnydale as a quasi-member of the Scooby Gang.
That was the extent of what he knew went into Willow’s spell. Those magicks returned Cordelia’s memory to a time when she had something to fear from vampires, even him, filling it in with falsehood. A time when her memory did not include the fact that their souls were connected, that she kept him grounded— kept his soul intact and his demon bound.
Only his demon had kept crawling to the surface, playing the games that vampires liked to play. Doing so with Cordelia— his own mate. Potentially endangering her human existence with every touch.
This kiss— this moment on the sand, it was too dangerous. It flashed like a neon sign in his head. Warning! Warning! Angel wanted nothing more than to pull Cordelia back into his arms. Here and now. Forgetting that they were in the back of the Pig’s love shack van and that Doyle was driving— but he couldn’t let that happen. Not again. No, he wouldn’t let it happen again.
Cordelia was human. As long as she was human, he would be tempted. The call of his demon remained strong and this kiss proved that nothing had changed. Some part of him deep down past the point where his soul held a higher purpose for their union, Angel was still a demon wanting its demon mate.
“We’re here,” Doyle turned around in the driver’s seat after putting the van into park.
They were still staring at each other, he noted wryly, both looking frightened by the fact that they probably wanted to rip each other’s clothes off and didn’t know if they could make it to the door. Well that was something he did not want to see or be a part of in any way, shape or form. Doyle’s heart ached acutely for Cordelia. While he recognized that Cordy had never shown him anything other than flirtatious affection, he had to wonder what might have been if the vampire hadn’t been around.
Rising out of the seat, Doyle stood up and moved to open the van door. “Out you get.”
They moved, finally. The half-Irish demon seer didn’t wait for them to get inside. With a hard grip, Doyle shifted the van into drive and pulled away from the curb.
Once inside the building, Cordelia followed Angel down the hall to the office. It was then that they got a reprieve from their mutual fears.
“What happened here?” Angel was agape as he took in the sight of the wrecked office.
Cordy had forgotten. “Spike’s handiwork. He was looking for the ring.”
“He had to turn over the file cabinet? There are papers everywhere.” The vampire felt a renewed sense of irritation at his grandchilde.
“Doyle obviously found the ring,” she said. “Where was it?”
Eew! “I wouldn’t have thought to look there. Wonder how he found it.”
Angel figured that he used some of his demon skills, but then Cordy did not know Doyle was part demon. Considering her feelings for vampires, Angel wasn’t going to be the one to tell her. Righting furniture and picking up broken coffee mugs as he went, Angel took in the mess that they were going to have to clean up.
“We should get started on this,” Angel suggested, deciding it was a good distraction from thoughts of kissing her again now that they were alone.
The thought of cleaning had no appeal whatsoever. “Actually, Angel. I’m really tired. It’s been over twenty-four hours since I had any sleep. All of this— excitement has finally hit home. Gotta get some shut-eye.”
“Oh.” Angel had not considered that fact. It was morning, a time when most of his kind were already tucked into their beds, especially after a night of excruciating torture and bloodletting. Strangely, he felt invigorated. Must be the ring.
“I’ll just go home, for now,” Cordelia blinked sleepily. “I’ll catch a cab. Don’t wanna wait for the bus.”
“No!” Angel didn’t want her leaving when Spike was still roaming about town. “You can borrow my bed.”
Cordelia sent him a frown. “Aren’t you planning on sleeping today?”
“Maybe later,” he told her with a dismissive wave. “I can’t sleep with this mess all over the place.”
Pfft! Vampires! Obsessive, possessive— compulsive. That was the one she figured was pure Angel. He’d pick up a speck of dust from the carpet if he crossed its path. “Good luck with that. I’m staying. I’m borrowing your bathroom and stealing your clothes. Got a problem with that?”
Wavering on her feet as she moved toward the stairs, Cordelia paused, turning back to face Angel who was watching her progress. She needed to say something. He found that he could not let her go without telling her that their kiss was a one-time deal. It couldn’t happen ever again.
Time to repaint that imaginary line in front of the desk, he told himself. Boss— secretary. Vampire— human. Got it? Got it.
They spoke simultaneously.
With a sigh, Angel wondered what she planned to say. Was she asking him to come to bed? No— no, don’t ask that, Cordy. Not now. I wouldn’t say no.
Out of politeness, despite his fear of what she would say, Angel prompted, “You should go first. I’ll wait.”
Now nervous that the vampire wanted to tell her something, Cordelia wasn’t certain that she wanted to say anything. “No, you go first.”
“You should go first.” Angel shook his head. He wanted whatever she had to say out in the open. Then he would deal.
Hands on her hips, Cordy countered, “No— you.”
“No.” Angel sounded firm. “You.”
“You!” Stubborn vamp!
Both took a deep breath, although for Angel it was an unnecessary one. To hell with it all, he let out a growl of frustration deciding to say it, “I can’t kiss you again.”
While at the same moment, Cordelia shouted, “Don’t you kiss me again!”
“What?!” They both looked rattled.
After a silent standoff, Angel won the staring contest. “Do you mean that?”
“Y-yes, Angel,” the blush crept up her neck as Cordelia sensed that wasn’t one hundred percent truthful.
“Good,” his voice hardened just a fraction. “What happened was just a natural reaction to the situation. We got carried away.”
Cordy let out a shaky sigh. “Yeah.”
“Yeah,” he parroted the word.
“I-I shouldn’t have—,” Cordelia began only to be cut off as Angel refused to let her feel bad about any part of that kiss.
“I’m your boss, Cordelia,” Angel thought it was as good as any excuse. “I hope that I am also your friend. We just have to put it in the past. Forget the kiss. It happened. It’s over.”
Angel hoped that his little speech convinced her because he certainly wasn’t convincing himself. Put it in the past? Forget it? He hadn’t forgotten a second of time spent with her and doubted he would do it now.
“That sounds like a plan,” Cordy nodded in agreement.
Forget that kiss? Pfft! Who was he kidding?
Having arrived at the threshold to Angel’s room, Cordelia found herself staring at the big wrought-iron bed. It was huge. Had to be— she considered that he was a tall hulking guy. She thought of ‘A Walk in the Clouds” when Mrs. Aragon slyly comments that her daughter Victoria and her new husband, Keanu’s character, need lots of room in their bed— to maneuver. Blushing at the image that created, Cordy tried to put it out of her head.
The bed was untouched, still made up with its perfect creases. Apparently Spike had not thought to check under the pillows for the ring’s hiding place. Walking over to the high-boy dresser standing up against the wall, Cordelia opened the top drawer searching for something to sleep in.
Boxers. Black, Grey and White. Typical!
Taking one, Cordy tucked it into the crook of her arm and opened drawer number two. Just socks. Same boring colors. Looked like someone had been shifting things around in the next drawer. Angel would never leave this stuff untidy, so it had to be Spike looking for the ring. Cotton tops, shorts and sweat pants were now in a garbled heap. Cordy did not want to get blamed for this one, but wasn’t going to refold any of it now.
Taking out a long sleeveless shirt, Cordy slung it over the boxers. After closing the drawer, she padded into the bathroom on bare feet to wash up before crawling into bed. Geez, she felt like sleeping for a week.
An hour passed before Angel crept downstairs. He wasn’t tired, but he still had seawater all over his skin, hair and ruined clothes. Peeking into his bedroom, he saw that Cordelia was fast asleep in the center of his bed. The sight instantly had him mesmerized. She was so beautiful in her sleep, like always, but this gave him an opportunity to watch unseen.
The rise and fall of her chest was slow and deep, her heart rate steady and strong. Angel’s close scrutiny caught the rapid eye movement that indicated she was already dreaming. Something good, he hoped. With a tender smile, he slowly backed away from the bed.
Pleasant dreams, kitten.
Angel stripped off his clothes right there in the bedroom, tossing them into the hamper as he walked naked into the bathroom. Quietly shutting the door, he moved over to the tub deciding to take a long hot, soak.
Water— Cordelia dreamt as the distant sound invaded her subconscious.
Steamy water and mounds of bubbles clouded her dreams. Squeezing a large sponge, she sluiced soapy water over the vampire in the tub. Strangely, Cordy seemed to be wearing what looked like harem, genie or princess attire and she made every effort not to get it wet. Angel was sitting back in the tub, lounging comfortably with his arms on the gilded molding around the edge. His shoulders and chest were exposed to her hungry view, but the bubbles crept up covering what lay beneath the water.
“Join me,” Angel held out a hand. “I want you naked, wet and in my arms.”
How was a girl supposed to respond to that? Well— Duh! Cordy rose to her bare feet and removed the sheer outer covering of her pantalets. Then the fuchsia bikini top followed, leaving her rounded breasts bare to his gaze. The air felt cool against her nipples, but she knew that her inner heat would be matched by the water. Finally, with a tug of her hands, she let her matching panties fall to the floor at her ankles.
“Take your time,” Angel suggested as she started to step into the tub. “Let me look my fill.”
That was fair. After all, she got to look her fill and roam her hands across his smooth skin as she prepared him for the bath by undressing him. Taking up the sponge again, Cordelia bent forward sensing the vampire’s attention sweep to the movement of her breasts. Dipping it into the water, she stirred it gathering up foamy bubbles. Tilting her head, she tossed away the clip from her hair, allowing it to cascade down her back in a river of chestnut silk. Then squeezing the sponge against the flush of her throat, Cordelia released a long sigh of pleasure as the hot water ran down her neck, between her breasts, into her navel and across the soft curve of her abdomen before soaking into the curling forest nestled between her thighs.
“That’s long enough.” Angel’s hand curled around her calf, moving upward to the back of her thigh as he leaned forward. His large hand, wet from the bath moved across her skin never breaking contact as she lowered herself into the water.
Cordy was grateful for the rubbery mat beneath her knees as she leaned forward, sighing into his kiss. Mmm! He really, really knew how to kiss. His roaming hands kept sluicing water over the parts of her not covered in bubbles. One followed the long curve of her back from shoulder blade to the rounded handful of her buttocks. Once there, he softly squeezed the flesh before his fingers teasingly dipped between her thighs.
“Touch me,” she whispered between the kisses. Cordy ached inside, needing his talented fingers there offering her pleasure.
Soon, the sensations were too much. She met her vampire’s lusty gaze, moving off of her hands and knees to shift herself across his thighs. Pressing closer to the hard shaft hidden beneath the bubbles, she knew its breadth and length would fill her to the core. First, she felt his hands against her side brushing the curves of her breasts as he pulled her to his chest pressing their hot naked flesh together.
Cordy’s fingers moved along the bulge of his biceps, over his shoulders and up to his face. He was a beautiful, beautiful man and he was all hers. Kissing his eyes closed, she whispered words of love across his cheeks until reaching his smiling mouth. Then Cordy showed him that he wasn’t the only one who knew how to kiss.
Taking hold of her hips, Angel lifted her up positioning her directly over his erect flesh. Cordelia stroked her hand down his sculpted chest to take hold of his hardened arousal fitting them together like the final pieces of a puzzle. Interconnected, body and soul
As she sunk slowly down, taking all of him, both Angel and Cordelia moaned in mutual pleasure. Their mouths meshed again, first softly and then with increasing passion. He cupped her breasts, teasing the nipples with the barest of touches and letting his thumbs travel over the circular curve of her areolas. With each downward twist of her hips, Angel thrust upward.
Calling out his name, Cordelia started to feel overwhelmed by sensation. Hugging her arms around the wet curve of his shoulders, she held on tight. “Angel. Angel!”
Waves of the warm bathwater were sloshing over the edge of the tub, hitting the floor with a splash of melting bubbles. “That’s it, baby,” he whispered into her ear. “You’re almost there. Almost there.”
The love in his voice combined with the rhythm of his body inside her. Moving just enough to reach his mouth again, Cordelia plundered it with the urgency of her need. Angel reached up to her head, his wet fingers holding her steady as he took over the kiss leading her into the final spiral of sensations that edged her ever closer to orgasm.
Their lips were still clinging as the kiss parted with a sharp sting against her plush bottom lip. Cordelia’s eyes opened followed closely by a hiss of pain. The deep-set eyes gazing back at her were dark amber rimmed by a ridged vampiric brow. His hands gripped her head tighter, turning it to expose her throat to his fangs.
Oh— as her orgasm crashed over her, the vampire bit deeply into her throat sucking the precious red liquid of her blood. There was no end to it; he was going to suck her dry. Clutching at his shoulders and scratching at his face as her dream turned into nightmare, Cordelia realized that she had not been in the hot steamy bath with Angel, but the soulless demon who listed her as his number one candidate to become a vampire.
Cordelia cried out in her sleep sitting up starkly in the bed. Breathing in hard pants, she clutched at her throat feeling around for open wounds. Finding none, it came to her that she had been dreaming of Angel— until the twisted darkness had called up his evil half.
Grabbing for one of the pillows, she hugged it close and rocked herself back and forth trying to erase the memory of the nightmare. She didn’t blame Angel. This was Spike’s fault with his talk about vampire bites and being marked as a sign of ownership. Bleach Brain was gonna get staked the next time she saw him— even if he did help rescue Angel after arranging for his physical and metal torture at Marcus’ hands.
“Cordy? Did you call me?” Angel emerged soaking wet with a towel low slung around his hips. He looked concerned and appeared to have gotten straight out of the tub.
With a hitch in her voice, Cordelia told him, “No, Angel. I just had a bad dream.”
Instantly, he was at her side. Sitting on the bed, Angel leaned his mostly naked body toward Cordelia as he tilted her chin back in his direction. She was avoiding looking in his eyes. “What is it, baby? What’s wrong?”
The tone of his voice echoed the Angel of her dreams. Soft and intimate. There was that word again— baby. It was different than the way Spike used pet names for everyone. He did with irreverence what sounded like endearment on Angel’s lips.
Cordelia’s trembling hand reached out for the solid wall of Angel’s chest. Wet, cool, firm flesh made her fingers tingle in want. Curling them so the nails were pointed at him, she let them trail ever slowly down from his collar bone, across one thick pectoral muscle before dropping her hand closer to the edge of the towel.
“Do you know what you’re doing?” There was a dangerous tone creeping into his voice. “I’m not invulnerable to your touch, Cordelia.”
The towel was tenting under her gaze as it darted to his lap. “I guess not. Know what I’m doing, I mean.”
“Oh.” Angel scooted closer to the edge of the bed.
When she looked at him it was with a combination of longing and fear. “Go away, Angel. Go back to your bath. I’ll be fine here on my own.”
Standing and holding onto his towel with a two-handed grip, Angel let his concern for her slip away. It was only then that he realized Cordelia’s scent was cloaked with arousal. A dark look came into his eyes as he fought against the urge to walk back to the bed to take what he knew they both wanted.
And what say you now of true love’s kiss?
SOULBOUND – BOOK TWO – THE NEXT CONNECTION: CHAPTER LINKS