Soulbound – Book 1: Chapter 3


The Connections Trilogy_Soulbound_1


The First Connection

Chapter 3

Witness a moment of succinct joy, but beware. Utter happiness unlocks that which binds our Warrior’s soul. Such irony is not lost to those of us who know what the future may hold. Call it destiny. A twist of fate. The wrath of man. Our Warrior cannot become a champion without confronting his past. Though his childe and hers wreak havoc on the Hellmouth, they are not qualified to judge him nor to choose his future’s path.

Angel awoke with a start, gasping in pain at the crushing pressure in his chest. A flash of lightning lit the edge of the closed curtain. The sound of thunder still echoed near. Sitting up, he saw that Buffy still slept blissfully beside him, her nude form wrapped snuggly in the blankets. Something was wrong, he realized, as the pain worsened.

Leaping out of the bed, he grabbed for the clothes discarded on the floor. Dressing as fast as he could, Angel knew for certain that he had to get out. Get away from Buffy before it was too late. The only time in his existence as a vampire that he had felt this way was the night the Kalderash cursed him. The soul had filled an empty layer of his being with all the pain of birth and now it was being ripped out.

“Arrrghh!” He grabbed his chest as he stumbled into the alley knocking into several trash cans along the way. Angel fell hard to his knees on the pavement. He screamed out his love’s name as his soul burst forth, released from its connection to its host. “Buffyyyyy!”

The cry brought aid in the form of a lone streetwalker, her appearance leaving no denial as to what she did for a living. Still, she responded to the anguish in the voice of the man on the ground. Bending down from the dangerous height of her four-inch heels, and still precariously holding a cigarette in one hand, she asked, “Are you okay, mister? You want me to call 911?”

Rebounding to his feet with his usual athletic grace the now soulless vampire rubbed one hand across his chest. He realized with an inward thrill what had just happened. “No. The pain is gone.”

The hooker remained concerned. “You sure?”

There was no longer a curse. No soul to dampen his darkest desires. He was finally free after a hundred years of guilt-ridden nights, curtailing his instincts and always denying himself the things he wanted. Pleasure, pain, blood, death. There was no need to mock his own existence by denying his true name. He was Angelus again. An Angel no longer.

Oh, he was definitely sure he was okay. “Yeah.”

Spinning around before the woman could even acknowledge his demonic visage, Angelus grabbed her shoulders and brought his fangs to the center of her throat. Ripping into the vulnerable flesh he bit deep sucking her life away in seconds.

Dropping her dead body he tilted his head up to blow the smoke he’d just inhaled through her pierced trachea. “I feel just fine.”

Angelus glanced up at the curtained window of his apartment. He knew Buffy would still be dreaming of her true love. It would be too easy to kill her now while she was basking in the afterglow. There was plenty of time to play with the Slayer and she wasn’t the only one. A certain cheerleader was also on his list.

The Soul was such a hypocrite. Professing love for the Slayer. Who was he kidding? Oh, she was all the things he didn’t deserve rolled into one tight little package. One night he’d be kissing his little blonde, dreaming of white picket fences and happy ever afters and the next brooding about having lustful thoughts for the luscious brunette. He couldn’t even stay loyal to his own little fantasy.

It was disgusting to feel what he felt, all hearts and flowers for Buffy when he should’ve just sated his lust and moved on to a more exciting ride. At least he wasn’t a blind fool.

No, the Soul might be deluded by a dream, but he couldn’t ignore his instincts. Cordelia wanted him. Vampires didn’t politely refuse when someone so beautiful came onto you. It might be fun to drag it out a little, build up the tension, and make her think she was in charge of the game. Angelus gave the Soul credit for trying. He’d ignored the reasons why it was a bad idea for him to taste her blood, to let her bite him back, tease her, and done it anyway.

Cordelia hated vampires? She’d been eager in his arms. If not for the Soul’s usual attack of morals he could’ve demonstrated exactly why human women went crazy for him. It wasn’t a bad idea. Angelus knew a wildcat when he saw one. Taming her might be a challenge he’d enjoy—if it wasn’t for that mouth. Damn, she didn’t know when to shut up and it was fucking annoying.

The thought of silencing Cordelia sounded more and more tempting. Not a quick kill. A seduction followed by payback for twisting him up in knots these past months. Yes, that had a nice ring to it.

There was Buffy to be dealt with, too. Love? It was a pleasure he did not know. Whatever Angel experienced left him only with a sense of revulsion. Angelus planned to show her how much love could hurt. A moment of pain for every second of bliss. He’d break her heart into pieces, turn her memories bitter, and drive her insane with longing. Only when she was a shell of herself and he’d erased any shred of what she’d felt for Angel would he end it all.

Cordelia and Buffy were in for a surprise or two. He wondered how he’d break the news to them. Maybe with a little something nailed to their front door. Like a poem, a puppy, or a boyfriend. Before the games got underway Angelus had one duty to perform.

He had family in town.

Arriving at the warehouse, Angelus planned to announce his newfound freedom to Spike and Drusilla, but discovered the way barred by a large blue demon. Having known of their plans to reassemble the Judge, he was not surprised to find him standing guard.

“Call off your watchdog, Spike.”

From the wheelchair he’d been forced to use since his back was broken, Spike ordered the Judge to burn him as it would do to anything drenched with the humanity of a soul. Spike had lost all respect for his grandsire over a century ago, when the souled vampire abandoned them to wallow in despair and self pity. Even Darla, his own sire, had kicked him out of her bed, tossing his undead ass onto the streets.

Angelus didn’t even flinch at the threat.

The Judge placed a large hand over the center of the vampire’s chest as Spike awaited the eruption of fireworks. He did not notice that Drusilla cocked her head, peering at her sire as though comparing him to something from one of her visions.

“Hurts, doesn’t it?” Spike smirked.

After glancing down at his chest, Angelus looked back calmly. “Well, you know, it kinda itches a little.”

Angry that the blue demon had not gone ahead with his command, Spike ordered, “Don’t just stand there. Burn him.”

Relaxed in the face of potential destruction, Angelus quipped, “Gee, maybe he’s broken.”

Growling in frustration, Spike caught Drusilla’s dark gaze. “What the hell is going on?”

Dru’s gaunt face transformed from an expression of confusion into one of wonder, the inky pools of her eyes glittering with growing excitement. She looked beyond her waking sight into visions that revealed paths of death and mayhem in the days ahead. Decay ate at the edges of the images in her head. A constant darkness plaguing a once pure gift she possessed in life.

“This one— cannot be burnt.” The Judge’s deep voice boomed as he rendered his verdict. Removing his hand from Angelus’ chest the demon rendered his verdict. “He is clean.”

That was impossible, Spike thought, his blue eyes widening. “Clean? You mean, he’s—”

“There’s no humanity in him.”

Angelus faced Spike again after watching the Judge move away. With a twist of his lips, he had to admit, “I couldn’t have said it better myself.”

Breathless wonder sounded in Drusilla’s voice as she received confirmation of what she already sensed. There was no aura of goodness to be found in her vision. This was really, truly her sire. “Angel.”

He was in too good a mood to punish her for using that name. “Yeah, baby. I’m back.”

Spike was still in shock. “Is it really true?”

Laughing at the tone in the younger vampire’s voice, Angelus walked around the table surveying the territory again. “It’s really true.”

Following his path with her eyes, Drusilla realized that her vision had been true. The stars had told her this would happen. “You’ve come home.”

“No more of this ‘I’ve got a soul’ crap?” Spike demanded as he wheeled after him.

“What can I say, hmm?” Striking a match on the table, he lit a cigarette from the pack he had taken from the hooker he had drained. “I was going through a phase.”

Hell, yeah! Spike wanted to shout it out to all of Sunnydale. Angelus was back. What havoc they would create. After the Judge decimated this quiet little burg, they’d move on to something better.

“This is great! This is so great!” Spike pumped his fisted hands and let out a triumphant shout.

Now on the table, Drusilla waved her arms in the air. “Everything in my head is singing!”

Angelus laughed at her antics. He had missed his loony childe. There was nothing more dark or dangerous than a crazy vampire— as the Slayer and her little undead playgroup were finding out. He reached up when Drusilla held out her long, slender hands, enjoying the familiarity of her touch, and helped her off the table.

Wrapping her arms around his shoulders, Drusilla snuggled against him. Her cold touch lacked the warmth of humans. He had planned a welcome home fuck, but suddenly found the idea unappealing. “We’re family again.” Leaning in close, she bared her teeth to him. “We’ll feed.”

“Grrr,” she growled lusciously as she caught Spike’s gaze. Then leaning contentedly against her sire’s broad chest, she raked her sharp nails over his shirt. Desire dripped from her voice as she added, “And we’ll play.”

“I’ve got to tell you,” Spike turned serious, “it made me sick to my stomach seeing you being the Slayer’s lap dog.”

Angelus growled, grabbing Spike by the shirt. For a moment the blond vamp thought he was about to be bitten. It wasn’t a pleasant thing to piss off his grandsire. Then the fangs vanished. He kissed him on the forehead and dropped him back into his wheelchair. For a moment, Spike was too stunned to respond until Angelus and Drusilla started laughing at the look on his face. It was infectious and he joined in the fun.

Once the laughter faded, Drusilla stared into her sire’s soulless eyes and asked, “How did this happen?”

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.” Angelus knew that was no lie. The other vamp would never understand what the Soul had done to him. Was there truly anything worse to a demon than falling in love with your enemy?

“Oh, who cares?” Spike decided he didn’t need a reason. Angelus was back. That was all that counted. “With Big Blue over there it’s four against one. Those are the odds I like to play.”

Drusilla nipped at Angelus’ ear with blunt teeth before whispering, “Psst. We’re going to destroy the world. Want to come?”

Playing with his cigarette, he thought it over for a few seconds. No, he was already bored with the idea. Angelus had seen enough of the blue demon. There were other things to do before turning his attention away from Sunnydale and none of them involved charring his prey like burned toast. Not unless he was the one to do the charring.

Angelus’ lack of enthusiasm for the plan was apparent as he yawned, “Yeah. Destroying the world. Great.”

What the hell? Spike was confused. Shouldn’t Angelus want to take up the reigns and be the first to screw the humans? They had cursed him with a soul, the bloody bastards.

Honestly, “I’m really more interested in the Slayer,” his grandsire explained.

“Well, she’s in the world, so that should work out.”

Not the way he wanted. “Hold off on your plans.” Angelus figured he wouldn’t need any longer than that to put his plan into motion.

“What do you mean?”

“Lay low for a night,” Angelus told him. “I guarantee you by the time you go public she won’t be anything resembling a threat.”

Spike had killed two Slayers himself, but he had never toyed with them the way Angelus seemed to want to. “You’ve really got a yen to hurt this girl, haven’t you?”

“She made me feel like a human being,” Angelus told Spike with a rumbling growl deep in his chest. “That’s not the kind of thing you just forgive. After tonight, you can do what you want. Breaking the Slayer is my right and I won’t have you burning this town until I do it.”

Back at the Sunnydale High library, Willow was on the phone with her distraught friend, trying to come up with reasons for Angel’s sudden disappearance. Waking up alone gave Buffy the feeling that she’d done something wrong.

“Ok. No, no, he didn’t,” Willow confirmed that Angel hadn’t come to the library, “but I’m sure he’ll—” Breaking off, she listened for a minute and then tried to convince Buffy that there had to be a good reason for walking out without a word. “Angel probably has some plan, and he’s trying to protect you.”

Cordelia paused on her way past the counter. The mention of Angel’s name caught her attention making it impossible not to eavesdrop on the one-sided conversation. She slid her book onto the countertop and slowly flipped through its pages. Buffy had been conspicuously absent during the past couple of hours. Now it seemed that had something to do with Angel.

What would Buffy and Angel be doing on a rainy night? Demon slayage wasn’t the only thing that came to mind. She felt a twinge of jealousy, but didn’t understand it. As far as she was concerned the Slayer and her vampire boyfriend could get groiny any time they wanted. It was no business of hers.

“Well, I-I don’t know what,” Willow was atypically clueless. “I’m not in on the plan. It’s his plan.”

Getting bored, Cordelia sighed deeply. She was about to get back to researching when a loud gasp sounded from the redhead. “No. Don’t even say that! Angel is not dead.”

A wave of dizziness hit and it was all Cordy could do to stand up. Dead? No! Her legs felt wobbly. She grabbed the edge of the counter for support.

“Say ‘hi’ for me.” Xander called out, totally unconcerned at the potential news.

Hearing his careless comment, Cordelia flashed an angry stare in his direction, which he did not see. He was lying on the counter, his attention on Willow as she quickly finished up the conversation, “Yeah, Buffy. Of course we’ll be here. Okay, bye.”

Hanging up, Willow looked a little stunned. She met Cordelia’s eyes across the counter, surprised by the fear and anger showing there. If she didn’t know better, Cordelia looked like she was going to puke or pass out. Xander’s nose was already back in his book.

Cordelia took a couple of steps and reached out to push at Xander’s leg. “Say hi for me?” Cold fury sounded as she questioned him. “Angel could be dead.”

He looked confused. “It’s not like you care if he gets dusted. You’ve said so a million times.” Xander didn’t want to hear about Angel, but sensing that Cordelia was about to go on the warpath, he decided it was better if he pretended to show some concern. Asking Willow, “What’s the word?” he shifted into a sitting position on the countertop.

Willow’s face fell into a pout. “Buffy checked every place she can think of. She even beat up Willy the snitch a couple of times. Angel’s vanished.”

The news affected Cordelia more than she thought it ever would. This was Angel, the liar. The guy who’d let her think he was human when he was really a walking member of the undead. Forgiveness wasn’t really in her vocabulary. She had every right to be mad at him for a long time. Only, she didn’t want him to get any deader than he was already.

Blindly walking away, lost in her thoughts, she barely noticed Giles emerging from his office to stand in his doorway. Angel vanishing wasn’t all that surprising to him. “But he does do that on occasion, no?”

Cordelia reminded herself that was true. It gave a small measure of comfort.

“Oh, yeah,” Willow agreed quickly enough, “but Buffy is extra wigged this time. I guess ’cause of her dreams. God, what if something really happened to him?”

“Is she going to join us here?”

“Yeah. She’s just stopping at home first. Says she needs a hot bath.” Willow thought it was strange to detour now, but suggested it had something to do with the weather and patrol. “Possible slayage.”

Slamming his book closed, Xander jumped down from the counter and headed toward the stacks to get another, indicating that this one had, “Nada.” Rounding the corner, he found Cordelia leaning up against the bookcase looking kind of pale. “You okay?”

Straightening her frame, she let out a long breath of air. “Yeah. I think all the research is getting to me. Moldy, dusty, gross books with moldy dusty demons.”

“Did you find anything?” Xander shelved his book.

Cordelia pointed to the book she had put away. “This book mentions the Judge, but nothing useful. Big, scary, no weapon forged can stop him, took an army to take him down. Blah, blah, blah.”

It was the best they had found so far, but as Cordy suggested, the info seemed less than inspiring. “We need some insight, a weak spot.”

“Well, we’re not gonna find it here.”

Realizing that he had Cordelia alone in the only area of the library cut off from the main room, Xander moved closer. “Sorry I snapped at you before.”

“Well, I’m reeling from that new experience,” Cordy rolled her eyes. Not the first time. More like the millionth.

“I’m crazed. I wasn’t thinking.”

Glaring at him, she said, “I know. You were too busy running off to die for your beloved Buffy.”

She paused long enough to feel a stab of jealousy. It was always Buffy this, Buffy that. “You’d never die for me.”

“No, I might die from you. Does that get me any points?”

Sometimes Xander made her laugh, but mostly he made her want to poke him with sharp objects. “No.” Whatever it was about him it usually made her feel better, even if it was just cathartic.

Xander pleaded with the brunette. “Come on, can’t we just kiss and make up?”

“I don’t wanna make up,” she snapped. Watching him turn away, Cordelia decided a little kissing might take her mind off of Angel, “But I’m okay with the other part.”

Leaning into the kiss she offered, Xander pulled her into his arms. They smooched for untold moments until Cordelia giggled and the fact they were doing this in the library instead of their usual janitorial closet. She’d gotten used to kissing him in the dark.

As they moved apart, both realized they had an audience. Willow was standing behind them, looking completely confused and upset. Cordelia wasn’t exactly pleased with being caught. They’d managed to keep this a secret until now.

Though he figured his best friend would be surprised about his relationship with Cordelia Chase, Xander never expected the look of utter horror frozen on her face. “Willow, uh—” It felt like he’d done something really, really wrong.

Without saying a word, she darted away. Taking off after her Xander called out after her, “We were just— Willow! Willow!”

Cordelia slowly emerged from the stacks, walking down the steps in plodding fashion. It had finally happened. They had been caught in the act. Found kissing. By her childhood nemesis, Willow Rosenberg, the smartest girl in school. Best friend of her boyfriend.

Could this day possibly get any worse?

Dashing out of the library, Xander was right behind Willow. She looked like to be headed all the way home when he called out, “Willow, come on!”

The sound of his voice stopped Willow in her tracks. Whirling around, she shook her finger at him. “I knew it! I knew it! Well, not ‘knew it’ in the sense of having the slightest idea, but I knew there was something I didn’t know. You two were fighting way too much. It’s not natural!”

“I know it’s weird—,” Xander did not really understand it himself.

Gasping in disgust, her nose crinkled in reaction. “You call it weird? It’s against all laws of God and man! It’s Cordelia! Remember? The ‘We Hate Cordelia Club’— of which you are the treasurer.”

“Look, I was gonna tell you,” he pleaded for understanding.

“Gee, what stopped you?” Willow’s voice turned sour. “Could it be shame?”

“All right, let’s overreact, shall we?”

Willow’s face was paler than usual and she looked to be on the verge of tears. Pain and confusion were etched on her expression. “But I’m—”

Sighing, Xander tried to make her see that it was not that big a deal. “Willow, we were just kissing. It doesn’t mean that much.”

“No,” she countered. “It just means that you’d rather be with someone you hate than be with me.”

Running from the hall, Willow left him behind to consider her words. After a minute, he reluctantly turned to go back into the library.

Willow didn’t stop running until she reached home. She passed her mother without a word. Sheila Rosenberg barely noticed; too busy browsing through her issue of Psychology Today. Mother-daughter bonding was not easy in the Rosenberg home, especially now that Willow had taken a keen interest in mysticism and magic. Somehow she had a feeling that her parents would freak.

Slamming the door behind her, Willow flopped down on her bed and stared toward the ceiling. Xander Harris and Cordelia Chase dueling tongues in the library. Her library! Getting secret smooches. Somehow, this was all Cordy’s fault. The tall brunette could have any guy she wanted, yet she had to pick on Xander. Dumb Xander! Falling into the cheerleader’s clutches.

Clearly the skanky ho had worked her way down the alphabet at the Sunnydale High student registry and was now on the letter ‘X’. It wasn’t fair. Why did it have to be Xander? Cordy and Xander had been at odds since kindergarten. She was the snooty princess and he the class clown.

Willow felt the tears trickle down the corners of her eyes to her cheeks. This school year Willow’s feelings for her friend had taken a new turn. She had never felt more than the love of friendship for her lifelong pal. It was Buffy’s fault actually, now that Willow gave it a little thought. Xander was infatuated with the blond Slayer and everyone knew it, but Buffy Summers offered only friendship. He held out hope in his own fruitless fashion. Then Angel came on the scene and no one was left in any doubt that Buffy was his girl.

With Buffy’s feelings fully pinned on the vampire with a soul, Willow hoped that Xander would finally take notice of her. She remembered their almost-a-kiss at the end of the summer, brought on by an ice cream incident. Then school started up again and Xander’s Buffy obsession seemed to be as strong as ever despite Angel’s frequent presence. Then Cordelia Chase came creeping into their lives like an insidious plague. Willow actually thought she was starting to like the girl. How wrong was that?

“She can have anyone she wants,” Willow muttered. “Anyone. Why does it have to be Xander? I’d like to see Cordy really in love without the hope of it being returned. Then she’d know what I feel.”

“Anyone,” Willow grumbled.

There was only one problem. Cordelia apparently had the ability to charm anyone with a Y-chromosome. Even Giles whimpered a bit around Cordy. She seemed to bring out this chivalrous side. He held out her chair in the library. Escorted her to her car. The only guy around Sunnydale she did not have on a leash was Buffy’s Angel who had already proven his supernatural ability to resist her all too obvious charms.

Hmm… Angel. That could work!

All those old feelings magnified. A super crush. Needy angst, and no kisses to make the hurt of it go away. Angel thought of Cordelia as an annoying pain in the ass. That’s what Buffy had told her. He would never give in to Cordelia’s charismatic feminine wiles. Never!

Flying off of the bed, Willow yanked open her closet door and pulled out a cardboard box of magic supplies. She grabbed a book of spells from its hiding place flipping through it until her gaze fell on a certain page. Looking at it, a slow smile crept across her face as she realized precisely what she was going to do.

What better way to get back at Cordelia than by making her want someone she could never have? Buffy’s vampire would never think about another girl that way. You could just tell by the way he looked at the blond Slayer that they were in love, and there was nothing Cordelia Chase could ever do to do to change that.

Let the pining commence. She would die of envy—or want to. The spell would be easy and Willow already had all of the components required for it.

An hour later, she returned to Sunnydale High having cast the spell. She was calmly walking toward the library when Xander emerged from the bathroom. Catching sight of her, he gulped down the thick lump in his throat and jogged over to meet her.

“Will.” He was behind her.

Hugging her arms around her thin frame, Willow turned to face him. “Hey.”

“Where’d you go?”

“Home,” she told him the truth. They had always told each other everything. Until now.

“I’m glad you came back.” Xander reached a hand out to touch her shoulder lightly. She flinched, but did not pull away. He noticed, frowning. “We can’t do this without you.”

Taking a deep breath, Willow shared her anger. “Let’s get this straight. I don’t understand it. I don’t wanna understand it. You have gross emotional problems, and things are not okay between us. But what’s happening right now is more important than that.”

“Okay.” What more could he say?

They stuck to a safe subject— their research on the Judge and potential ways to stop him. It wasn’t until Willow mentioned the need for an army that a thought struck Xander. And then another. Followed by another that seemed to be making sense. Until the lights went out overhead— literally. Sunnydale High was bathed in darkness.

Xander tagged on another thought, “Now I’m having a wiggins.”

“What’s going on?” Willow looked around, but did not see or hear anything out of the ordinary.

Xander suggested, “Let’s get to the library.”

Out of the darkness, a familiar voice called out to them. “Willow. Xander.”

Both recognized Angel’s voice and were not surprised at his ability to suddenly sneak up on people. After all, he did it all of the time. They turned together, noting that he seemed to be uninjured. With all the concern that Buffy displayed regarding his disappearance, it was a relief to see him in one piece—at least on Willow’s part.

With their usual ritual, Xander acknowledged his presence with a nod. “Angel.”

“Thank God you’re okay.” Willow sighed deeply. “Did you see Buffy?”

“Yeah,” Angelus revealed truthfully. He just came from the Summers’ house where he played the part of his soulful self. Poor little Cry Buffy. He left her whimpering with the news that her vampire lover didn’t give a damn about inexperienced little virgins like her. Far from the truth, it was just the first step in his game to tear the Slayer apart from the inside out. “What’s up with the lights?”

Xander told him, “I don’t know. Listen, I think I have an idea.”

Oh, research. Angelus wasn’t interested. “Forget about that now. I— I got something to show you.”

“Show us?” Willow wondered if that was why he left Buffy alone. He had found a way to destroy the Judge.

Angelus nodded, “Yeah. Xander, go get the others.”

“Okay,” Readily agreeing, Xander ran off to get Giles, Jenny and Cordy.

As soon as Xander was out of sight, the vampire motioned to the tiny redhead that stood staring at him. “And Willow. Come here.”

Completely trusting him, Willow walked slowly forward. “What is it, Angel?”

“It’s amazing.”

Down the hall, Xander suddenly stopped in his tracks. A bad feeling crept over him as he glance back over his shoulder in the darkened corridor. He remembered the school lights went out just as Angel arrived. Turning around, he darted back in the direction of Willow and the vampire.

Willow looked up at Angel, curiosity filling her expression, when Jenny Calendar made an appearance across the hall. Holding up a large cross, she urged the girl to step back. “Get away from him, Willow.”

Stopping in her forward approach, the young witch wondered if her computer teacher had lost it. “What?”

“Walk to me,” Jenny’s voice carried a strange urgency.

“What are you talking about?” Completely baffled, Willow wondered if somehow Jenny Calendar did not recognize the leather-garbed vampire. “It’s just Ang—”

The move came swift and sure as Angelus snuck up to grab Willow by the throat. Letting out a frightened yelp, Willow was pulled up against the vampire’s rock hard frame. Eep!

Then Xander burst through the door from the connecting hall. “Don’t do that!”

Angelus smirked in delight. “Oh, I think I’m already doing it.”

“Angel—,” Xander started to issue a warning.

Jenny cut him off. “He’s not Angel anymore. Are you?”

The challenge was met by the vampire tightening his grip on Willow’s slender throat. “Wrong,” he countered. “I am Angel. At last!”

“Oh, my God,” Xander realized his worst nightmares about this vampire were coming to pass.

“I’ve got a message for Buffy.”

Suddenly behind them, “Why don’t you give it to me yourself?” Buffy’s voice was as hard as steel. She still wanted to hear the answer. There was something strange going on here. She was starting to suspect that things were not alright in Angelville.

Spinning around and taking Willow with him, Angelus faced the Slayer. “Well, it’s not really the kind of message you tell. It sort of involves you finding the bodies of all your friends on your doorstep.”

This time Willow let out a yelp of real pain as his grip tightened further. Buffy looked on with confusion, pain and a measure of fear. “This can’t be you,” she denied.

Tilting his dark head, “Gee, we already covered that subject.”

Taking a single step forward, Buffy pleaded with him, “Angel, there must be some part of you inside that still remembers who you are.”

“Dream on, schoolgirl.” Oh, he remembered. He just didn’t care.

Xander yanked the cross from Jenny’s hand, moving rapidly toward Angelus who had not yet noticed his advance. He was too busy toying with Buffy. “Your boyfriend is dead. You’re all gonna join him.”

“Leave Willow alone, and deal with me.”

Pinching her pale cheek, he gave a mock protest, “But she’s so cute and helpless. Really a turn-on.”

Xander arrived immediately behind Angelus, shoving the cross into the vamp’s face from behind. Reeling back, he dropped Willow who cried out as she fell toward Xander as they both collapsed against the wall. Angelus turned to Jenny and warded her off with a hand as he moved back down the hall. Still in shock, Buffy found herself forcefully taken by the shoulders and shoved up against the corridor wall.

Inhaling in fright, Buffy felt her limbs tremble in response to the demonic face of her lover. He promised with a soft whisper, “Things are about to get very interesting.”

Pressing a hard kiss on her mouth, Angelus dropped her to the ground and started to back out the door. Willow and Xander— despite their own trauma— moved over to check on their friend.

“Buffy, you okay?”

The Slayer was still staring at the door.

“Buffy.”

It took some effort to get Buffy to the library. She seemed to be moving in slow motion. Now there, they explained their encounter to Giles whose eyes widened. He started to pace the floor, stopping periodically to clean his glasses.

After hearing it all, Giles still had to ask, “And we’re absolutely certain that— that Angel has reverted to his former self?”

“Yeah, uh, we’re all certain,” Xander thought that was obvious. “Anyone here not feeling certain?”

Willow spluttered, still in a haze of disbelief. “Giles, you wouldn’t have believed him. He was so— he came here to kill us.”

Cordelia sat silently through the whole discussion trying to make sense of what they were saying. Since learning that Angel was a vampire, she had made an effort to find out more about him. Not personally. No, she had avoided him as much as possible. But Giles’ many books and records contained numerous details about the vampire, some of which she had discovered.

There was no way the Watcher’s Council would allow Angelus to live, even if Buffy spared him the stake. Not that Buffy seemed in any condition to take out a fledgling right now, much less a master vampire. Still, the thought of anyone killing Angel or his evil alter ego filled her with dread. There had to be another way to fix this.

Meeting Giles’s gaze, Cordelia asked worriedly, “What are you planning?”

“I’m leaning towards blind panic myself,” he answered honestly.

Jenny censured, “Rupert, don’t talk like that. The kids.”

Realizing that he was not being the strong and supportive Watcher for his Slayer and her friends, Giles apologized. “I’m sorry. It’s just that things are bad enough with the Judge here. Angel crossing over to the other side— I-I-I wasn’t prepared for that.”

“None of us were,” Jenny sighed as she watched Willow place a supportive arm around Buffy’s shoulder.

Willow was asking, “Are you okay?”

The only response was the sad shake of Buffy’s blond head.

“Is there anything I can do?”

Shaking her head again, the broken-hearted girl blurted, “I should’ve known! When I saw him at the house, he was different. The things he sai—”

“What things?” Giles was curious.

“It’s private,” Buffy responded drawing an arched look from her Watcher.

Jenny found it strange that the reason wasn’t obvious. “But you didn’t know he had turned bad?”

Realizing that her teacher recognized the truth of it before anyone else, Willow asked Jenny, “How did you?”

Her eyes widening, Jenny seemed a bit rattled by the question. “What?”

“Well, you knew,” Willow pointed out. “You told me to get away from him.”

Struggling for an answer, the computer teacher found one. “Well, I saw his face.”

“If only we knew how it happened,” Giles wondered as he sat down at the table next to Buffy. She asked, “What do you mean?”

“Well, something set it off,” Giles told her. “Some, some, uh, event must’ve triggered his transformation.”

Cordelia suddenly pushed away from the table, her chair hitting the floor behind her as she realized the person to blame for all of this was standing right in front of her. Something horrible had happened to Angel and now she knew who was the cause. “It was you, Buffy. What did you do to him?”

Still in shock, Buffy stared back at the taller brunette. Her lower lip trembled as she tried to hold back her tears. “N-nothing. I— we just—”

Suddenly, Giles realized that Cordelia was right. As gently as possible he asked Buffy, “Did anything happen tonight t-that might—”

“Giles, please, I can’t.” Buffy darted out of the library.

Calling after her, the librarian tried to stop her. “Buffy, I’m sorry, but we can’t afford to— Buffy!”

It was Cordelia that turned to him, “Giles, shut up.”

Xander jumped at his girlfriend’s stern tone. From her accusation of Buffy to telling Giles to shut up, Cordy seemed to be aware of something he wasn’t. “Don’t you read your own Watcher Diaries? Angelus did not gain his soul because he was a good little vamp. He was cursed with it.”

As his mouth gaped open, Giles realized that Cordelia had been sneaking into his office to read the books that he kept apart from all of the others. Since Angel had become such a large part of the Slayer’s life, he tried to protect her from the details of his most gruesome days. Now he realized it was a mistake.

“Someone uncursed him,” Cordelia pointed out when the Watcher made no immediate reply. “It was Buffy. I know it.”

“Why would Buffy get rid of Angel’s soul?” Willow did not follow the logic. “It’s a little like wanting a puppy, but settling for Cujo instead.”

Rolling her eyes, the cheerleader figured the girl had no clue what she was talking about. Clueless dork. “You said it yourself, Willow. How did Jenny know about Angel being evil? Did he look any different?”

“More leather,” Xander commented with a shrug.

“Really?” Cordelia actually let out a little moan. “Bet he looked hot.”

Startled by Cordelia’s comment, Willow babbled a bit before answering her original question. “I-I didn’t notice. He grabbed me by the neck.”

“Ms. Calendar, how did you know Angel was Evil Vamp again?” Cordelia’s hands were splayed over her hips in a determined stance. “Did you know this was gonna happen?”

Standing, Giles appeared to be livid at the accusation. In defense of Jenny, he wagged a finger at the girl. Thundering, “You can’t go around accusing everybody—,” until he was interrupted by the woman he was defending.

“Rupert, I didn’t know— exactly,” Jenny said carefully while confessing that Cordelia was on-target. “Cordy is right about Buffy, although I am sure she doesn’t understand the reason for it. I was told— Oh, God. I was sent here to watch Angel and Buffy. They told me to keep them apart.”

“Pfft!” Cordelia wondered who had put her up to that impossible task.

“They never told me what would happen,” Jenny Calendar confessed.

Surprised and confused, Giles could only react, “Jenny!”

“I’m sorry, Rupert. Angel was supposed to pay for what he did to my people.”

Her words made sense now to both Giles and Cordelia. While the Watcher was still lost in thought, Cordy had no trouble saying, “You’re one of them. A gypsy. One of the— uh, Balderdash Clan.”

“Kalderash,” Jenny corrected.

“The whosiwhatsis?” Xander was lost.

“The gypsies who cursed Angelus with a soul,” explained Cordelia. She had not forgotten what Angel told her that night at the Bronze when she first learned that he was a vampire.

Giles straightened his eye glasses. This night was hell. The woman who had found a way into his heart was a fake. Jenny had lied to him about her reasons for being in Sunnydale. A spy no less, for a clan of Romany. What other lies had she told?

“So you did it?” Willow was still thinking about Cujo as she asked Ms Calendar, “If the gypsies gave Angel a soul to make him good, why would you take it away now?”

Moistening her dry lips, Jenny realized that this was a complicated subject. Explaining, “My clan did not give Angelus a soul to create a good vampire, but to make him suffer for eternity. He killed a beloved daughter of my people. They used the magic at their command to curse the vampire. It gave him a soul which brought with it the pain, anguish and remorse that comes with humanity.”

“Angel suffers with the memory of every death caused at his whim,” Giles realized. He knew the number was in the thousands. Tens of thousands.

“Precisely,” Jenny nodded. “As long as the soul remained intact, so did the suffering.”

Cordy was getting the full picture. “Enter the blond bimbo.”

Jenny Calendar blinked for a second, and then realized the reference. “Buffy has been the one danger that my people have feared.”

“She loves him.” Coated with emotion, Cordelia’s voice seemed to strangle on the words.

“Yes.” Everyone present was in agreement on that one.

Giles demanded more details. “I still don’t understand. What’s love got to do with it?”

“Got to do with it, got to do with it,” Xander echoed in song unable to resist it. Suppressing a snort, he covered his mouth and sat back to listen hoping one of them would say something that made sense.

“The curse is all about regret and pain and anguish. It’s about hating yourself for what you are, but being forced to live with it because your soul won’t let you forget.” Jenny let out a long, frustrated sigh. “Love has everything to do with it, Rupert. To break the curse Angel needed only an instant of pure contentment and self-acceptance. True happiness. Utter bliss.”

Oh, dear! Giles removed his glasses yet again. They had to be the cleanest glasses in Sunnydale, but he was still seeing spots. “W-w-w-h-h-how do you know Buffy was a danger?”

Xander sat back in his chair with a weird expression on his face, having finally got it, “Aww, no.”

The women all stared at the librarian who seemed to be in a state of denial. “They’re in love, Giles!” Cordelia finally spat out. “Buffy isn’t a total loser when it comes to recognizing what she wants. Hello, hottie! Can’t blame the girl for wanting to crawl all over that hunk-o-vamp.”

As Cordelia got deeper and deeper into her description, Willow came to an understanding of two truths. One was that Buffy and Angel had made with the wild monkey love, causing the vampire to have a soul-defying moment of bliss. The other was that the unrequited love spell cast on Cordelia was in full effect even though Angel was now the original dangerous, evil, soulless version of himself.

“Cordy, don’t say that,” Willow gulped down a cry. “Angel’s not a hottie. No. Unh, uh! He isn’t even Angel. He’s— Angelus, right? Evil vamp. Not a hunk-o-anything good.”

But the cheerleader wasn’t really paying attention anymore. “Gotta tell ya Giles, I know Buffy. She may pretend otherwise, but deep down the girl is a lot like me.”

“Uh, Cordy?” Now Xander was looking green.

“We know what we want and we take it,” Cordelia told them. “Want. Take. Have. Good strategy. Simple really when you think about it. With me, it’s usually about buying shoes. With Buffy, it’s all about vampires— especially that vampire.”

Giles sank back down onto the edge of the table. “Oh.”

They all stared at the floor for countless minutes until Jenny Calendar broke the silence. “If there is anything that—”

“Curse him again.” Cordelia was quick to suggest.

Taken aback, Jenny held her hands up in denial. “No, I-I can’t. I mean, those magics are long lost even to my people. They no longer possess the power to cast such a spell.”

“You did it once. It might not be too late to save him,” Giles suggested.

Jenny nibbled on her bottom lip before answering. “I’ve been working on a translation. It has to do with the curse. Even if it is possible to interpret the text, it would take someone of incredible power to cast it.”

Thinking of his acquaintances in England, Giles wondered if they would know someone. “Keep at it, Jenny. You translate the curse whilst I focus on finding someone to invoke it. If we cannot restore Angel’s soul, I fear that Buffy will be forced to destroy him.”

“Never! She won’t do it,” warned Cordelia almost defiantly.

Minutes later, Jenny Calendar headed home and Giles wandered back into his office. He shut the door behind him. An obvious sign that he wanted to be alone. That left Willow, Xander and Cordelia gathered at the center of the library. They stood staring back and forth until Xander finally broke the silence between them.

This was not a good time to bring up the Cordy kissing incident, so he chose to focus on two of their other immediate problems. “One of us needs to check on the Buffster. Fill her in on Ms Calendar’s little spy game.”

“I’ll go,” Willow knew she had to be the one even if that did leave Xander and Cordelia together. Another flash of jealousy reminded her that her little tiff may have been a very bad thing. This seemed like a bad time to have a mystically-induced uncontrollable attraction to a certain vampire. “Where does that leave you two?”

“Gotta get some stuff,” Xander told her. “I have a plan to beat the Judge.”

“Care to let me in on the plan I’m a part of?” Cordelia queried.

“No.”

“Why not?” Xander having a plan was scary enough. Not telling her about it— was probably a good idea.

“Because if I tell you, then you won’t do it. Just meet me at my house in half an hour.”

“Okay.”

Before walking off Xander raked his eyes over her dress, “And wear something trashy—er.”

Incensed, Cordelia followed behind him telling him that it was so not a trashy dress. It was a one-of-a-kind original, but if he wanted trashy that was what he would get. Curious as to the reason for it, she did not find out until they arrived at the Army Depot an hour later. Xander’s plan to raid the depot actually worked thanks to the residual memories from his Halloween stint as a soldier.

They returned to get an update from Willow who was going to stay overnight with Buffy. The Slayer was not taking the news she had caused him to lose his soul. It wasn’t exactly a thrill for Cordy to confirm that there had been Buffy boinking or that a moment of pure happiness had been the trigger. She didn’t understand why it ate at her the way it did. At least it was comforting to know that Jenny was working on a way to save Angel.

Unknown to all but one powerful magic has weaved its spell upon our Seer to Be taking infatuation and twisting it into irresistible allure. What lies deeper cannot be altered by such methods for the even the Powers have no hold over such things. They can only watch as the pieces fall into place one by one. A girl’s hasty revenge accelerates the path of destiny for two of our favored ones.

Bypassing their usual goodnight kiss, Cordelia made a hasty exit of the Harris house. She noticed that Xander hadn’t whined about missing out on some smooch time and guessed that he was still feeling guilty about being caught by Willow. It would be all over the school by tomorrow afternoon.

The whole thing wigged her out. It was one thing to have a secret thing with Xander, but letting everybody know about it—she wasn’t ready for that. He was sweet in a dork kind of way. Tonight he’d almost impressed her with his take charge soldier act. Any other time she would probably find that really hot, but there was another handsome hottie on her mind.

During their drive to the Army Depot, Cordelia had kept asking Xander whether Buffy had told him anything new about Angel’s whereabouts. “She hasn’t done anything stupid like go after him, has she? Because that would be bad.”

“Cordelia, can we please not talk about Angel anymore?”

She was quiet for thirty seconds before continuing on with a list of horrible things that might happen. “I’m just saying we should give him a chance.”

Snorting, Xander said, “Having a soul was his second chance. He doesn’t deserve another one. You didn’t see the way he threatened Willow.”

“She shouldn’t have put her scrawny neck where he could grab it,” she argued.

“Slow down. We’re almost there.” Following his directions, Cordelia maneuvered the car along a dusty back road where a chain fence marked the outer perimeter. “Focus on the mission. One villain at a time. We get what we need to blow the Judge to smithereens and then we can help Buffy track down Angelus.”

Cordelia hadn’t like the sound of that at all. “We’d only be capturing him so Jenny can put back his soul, right? You don’t plan to let Buffy stake him.”

Silence was his only answer.

The mission had gone down better than Cordy imagined. The soldier guarding the Army stockpile played right into their hands. He was too distracted by the way she looked in her tight red leather mini skirt and bustier to get a good look at Xander’s uniform. They got in and out without any trouble.

Mission accomplished. The bazooka was now in the Harris’ basement hidden under the unmade sofa bed. Xander had the gall to suggest they try out the mattress. “You do look really hot tonight.”

One look at the cheap white sheets bunched up on the top of the bed was enough to have Cordelia headed for the exit. “Forget it, soldier boy. No way am I making out with you with that big thing ready to go off at any second.”

“Uh—”

“Moron, I meant the bazooka,” Cordelia rolled her eyes at him and held out a hand to ward him off when he tried to approach her. “Just stay where you are. I’ll let myself out.”

Making her way down the sidewalk toward her car, she jerked to a halt as a voice called out from the shadows, dark and familiar. “Cor—de—lia.” This was why she’d been so distracted all evening and couldn’t even manage a goodnight kiss. Angel. Just the sound of her name on his lips invoked a deep yearning for his touch, for his lips, for his love.

Even as the feelings hit hard, Cordelia tried to fight them. Deep down she knew there was something wrong. Screaming and running for her life were always the best options when coming face to face with a vampire. Not this vampire, though. For some reason, there wasn’t anywhere else she wanted to be except right there by his side.

This wasn’t Angel, but Angelus, someone she definitely shouldn’t be feeling warm and fuzzy about. Giles’ little speech had been effective in reminding them all just how dangerous the vampire known as the Scourge of Europe could be. Her recent readings left her in no doubt that being here with him meant that she was in mortal danger, but running was the last thing on her mind.

Closer, she needed him much closer: in her life, her arms, and deep inside her. That last little thought left her trembling, both in excitement and fear. Beating a rapid staccato, her heart pounded in her chest. Warmth spread across her body making her flush everywhere, tingling as blood rushed to every erogenous zone.

Breathlessly, “Angelus,” she managed to mouth his name. It wasn’t right to feel this way and she knew it, but the thrill of seeing him overpowered her sense of self-preservation. She turned slowly making the move deliberately provocative, lifting her gaze to his and tossing her hair over her shoulder, exposing the long line of her throat in the process.

What are you doing, Chase? Flashing your neck to a vampire. As ideas go it’s not of the good.

Cordelia’s fingers trailed down the cord of her neck slipping sensually to her collar bone and then across the buttons of her top to press her palm against her belly. Her breasts felt tight against her leather top, the nipples tender peaks that rubbed with every breath.

The memory of his kiss and the way he’d pierced her wrist with his fangs made Cordelia shudder with want. Unconsciously, she moved the wrist in a circle over her belly staving off the hunger, yet stimulating it at the same time. One word from him and she throbbed, her body instantly ready.

God, she’d never felt so horny before. There was no denying it this time. Not like before when she didn’t know Angel was a vampire. Cordelia watched him moving toward her in that calm graceful way that looked so unrushed as if he had all the time in the world. Like he knew he had her cornered.

One last instinctive urge rose up inside her, a silent scream telling her to pay attention. It was too late. Drowned out by the flood of feelings that swept over everything any thought of escaping what was to come was swallowed up in the maelstrom.

“Kitten, you look good enough to eat,” Angelus licked his lips. Poured into red leather and a pair of four inch heels Cordelia looked even hotter than usual, a temptation that no vampire would resist. He certainly wasn’t going to. “But then you always do. I like it,” he added as his gaze left her flushed, heat curling between her thighs, making her wet.

“This old thing?” Cordelia shrugged. First time she’d worn it like this. Looking sexy was one thing, but this was deliberately pure skank. Not her style, but who cared as long as he liked it.

His mouth curled up on one side in a sensual smirk. “Leather and bare skin just do it for me.”

Cordelia noticed that he wore leather, too, dark black pants and a leather duster. His shirt was blood red velvet draped across his muscular chest defining its shape. “Yeah, I get that,” she mumbled unable to resist touching him. Opening up her hand she pressed her palm to his shoulder sliding it from leather to velvet and lingering teasingly. “You look hot, too.”

Capturing her hand, Angelus yanked her against him, Cordelia grabbed his shoulder, her eyes darting from his dark questioning ones down to his mouth. He released her hand to wind her hair around his fist tugging just hard enough to hurt a little. “What game is this? You’re dressed like a whore and acting like you can’t get enough of me. I thought you hated vampires.”

As always, she gave him the truth. “Not you.” Cordelia hastily explained that the outfit was meant to distract the soldier at the military depot. “Please, Angelus. You’re hurting.”

“This is nothing,” he tugged a little harder. Leaning closer, he scented her throat and noticed more than the underlying fear. He let her scent fill him and closed his eyes as desire hit hard. His mouth drifted up to her ear nibbling at her lobe. A moan escaped as she shook against him, her lithe body trembling in anticipation.

Finding Cordelia here was unexpected, but far from unpleasant. The memory of her taste made his mouth water and all he’d allowed himself was a few drops. “I came to kill your boyfriend, but I suppose that can wait.”

It would wait until he’d sated his bloodlust and any other base needs that curled up inside him. He’d planned to split Xander from noggin to nuts and leave his cleaved corpse lying on Buffy’s doorstep. The idea still excited him, but it was Cordelia who had him hard, his cock thick and engorged, waiting for attention.

He expected a scream of denial or for Cordy to drop to her knees to beg for her stalwart boyfriend’s pathetic life. Instead, she denied the relationship. Scoffing, “Oh, he’s not my boyfriend.” Staring hard, Angelus tried to figure out if this was a ploy to distract him or if she was on something.

The effects of Willow’s spell magnified Cordelia’s infatuation with Angel tenfold. The very real threat he posed played a tug-of-war in her head until the magic got the better of her. There was nothing wrong with wanting Angelus, but the possibility of being bitten again was a turn-on. She was practically shaking inside with need. Nothing mattered except that she could no longer deny her feelings.

Angelus tutted as he walked around her in a circle inspecting her from all angles. “Don’t lie to me. The others may be stupid enough to miss the clues, but you forget what I am. I know what you’ve been doing with Harris.”

“Not tonight. It’s over. He just doesn’t know yet.” Cordelia was prepared to say anything to convince him that she was available. Xander and Buffy no longer factored into the equation. They were the soon-to-be exes. “Angel, I-I—”

“It pisses me off, Cordy.” He growled against her throat and stayed there long enough to nip at her skin. Rising up, Angelus angrily claimed her mouth in a harsh kiss that lasted only seconds leaving her lips swollen and anxious for more. “You let that boy put his hands on you.”

Sweeping his thumb across her bottom lip, Angelus waited for an answer half hoping that she would lie so he could punish her for it. “We mostly just kissed.”

“Mostly?” A sneer appeared on his handsome face. Cordelia wanted to slap it off, but it wouldn’t get her what she wanted.

“Yes.”

Angelus toyed with a loose strand of hair that tickled her cheek finally tucking it away behind her ear. “Then maybe I’ll skip torturing him to death—mostly.”

Those beautiful brown eyes started to glisten. He’d wondered when the tears would start to fall, when the begging would begin. Angelus considered letting her offer him something in return for letting Xander Harris live. Not that he’d hold up his end of the bargain. He’d let her plead for the worthless wretch while on her knees, tears streaking her face.

Lustful eyes swept across her curves tightly outlined in red leather. He knew she was no whore even if she was dressed like one. Cordy could carry it off, though. Play the bitch, the whore, the innocent. He wondered which one was the real Cordelia Chase underneath the layers of makeup and clothes. Who would he find when he started peeling those layers away? He planned to find out. This girl was made to be enjoyed to the fullest. Yet all Xander Harris could manage was a quick grope or two in a cleaning supply closet. It really was pathetic. Their attempts at secrecy would’ve been amusing if Angel hadn’t wanted to rip the boy’s head off. Now Angelus was free to do just that.

Practically shaking, Cordelia stepped closer, a plea forming on her lips, “Angelus, I—”

No, Angelus decided he didn’t want another trembling virgin tonight. One was enough to put him off innocence for a day or two. It didn’t matter if Cordelia was or wasn’t virginal. He was going to have her anyway. “Don’t beg,” he ordered harshly. “It doesn’t suit you. Not tonight.”

He reached out to trail a fingertip across her collarbone and noticed the scent of arousal thickening in the air. It surprised him. Fear had faded from her eyes leaving only the sultry haze of desire. Angelus felt confused. By rights, Cordelia should be trying to run, and the begging still hadn’t materialized.

Instead, Cordelia was getting turned on. He could see it in her eyes, dark and open with hunger. Her body writhed almost unconsciously against him. The sweet tang of arousal was getting stronger and he’d bet anything that she’d be slick and hot when he slid inside. Angelus knew another way to have her screaming his name since she wasn’t screaming in terror.

He was going to enjoy watching her get lost in the pleasure of a good fuck. Afterward, he’d make up his mind what to do with her. Torture was so tempting. She’d make a pretty corpse. Death was so final for some, but it wouldn’t be for her. Not Cordelia.

Teasing her with the notion that she had a choice in the matter, he prompted, “Show me how brave you can be. Let me have you.”

Angelus was about to offer to forget about killing Xander for a night or two when Cordy threw her arms around his neck. “Yes, I’m yours. Please, Angelus, I want you. I want you so much.”

Her warm lips crashed into his, slender arms wrapping around his neck as her curvaceous body pressed up against him. Eyes closed, she kissed his mouth twice, silently begging for a response. Angelus pulled his head back as his hands found a place on her hips to hold her steady. She let out a frustrated whine, opening her passion darkened eyes to stare at his mouth.

The confession sounded so real it stunned him. There was no denying the attraction that existed between them. It was the intensity of her desire, especially in light of the fact that she knew he was a true vampire again, that shocked him. If this wasn’t just an act to save Xander’s life—something that would earn his ire when he had time to consider it fully, he wondered if Cordelia wasn’t really just a closet vampophile all along.

Teasing, he leaned in just enough to make her think he was going to kiss her, his mouth so close to hers, lips parted. The more Cordelia tried to close the gap, the closer he let her come to success without actually getting the kiss she craved. She was so warm and too much of a temptation to resist for long.

He would never have guessed that Cordelia would crack so easily. She was usually good at avoiding him and showing nothing but cool disregard for his presence. He’d picked up other things that suggested she wasn’t as aloof as she let on, but the Soul had let her get away with it. Reveling in the moment, Angelus palmed her ass with both hands enjoying the feel of smooth leather riding across her firm curves.

Exerting just a little pressure he rubbed his erection into her taut lower belly. “Feel that?” He growled just above the surface of her mouth as he stared down into her eyes.

“Yes,” she hissed the word while trying to get even closer. Grinding herself against the hard bulge caused them both to moan. Angelus slapped her ass sharply causing Cordelia to let out an angry gasp.

Undeterred, Cordelia curled her fingers into the short strands of his hair. “Kiss me,” she demanded no longer willing to be teased. Yanking hard, she managed to latch onto his mouth. This time, he kissed her back, taking over when she came up for air.

Shifting his hold, Angelus slid one hand up to curl around her wrist. He pulled the hand away from his nape and directed it down between them. When he let go he half expected her to snatch her hand back to safer territory. “Show me what you can do,” he tested her again.

Cordelia showed no sign of hesitation. Eagerly, she opened her hand to cup him. She let out a shuddery sigh, eyes slamming shut again to murmur against his mouth. He grunted in pleasure and issued another challenge, “What if I tell you that you can’t have it? I’ll let you go home, untouched, safe and sound.”

A hypothetical question, of course, but Angelus wanted to hear what she’d say.

“No.” Giving him an angry glare, Cordelia rubbed up and down the length of his erection, showing him that leaving wasn’t an option. He let out another low sound from deep in his chest. She’d done this a few times with her boyfriends, mostly through layers of clothing.

Touching and kissing excited her. It was the rest of it that she’d always held off on doing. Most of the boys turned out to be selfish jerks, or just fumbled around too much. College guys were just as bad. Third base was kind of an early expectation with them—but it usually gave her control over the situation, especially if she wanted to bring it to an end.

This was different. Angel was a man, a vampire, and she had no intention of putting a stop to it. She squeezed his cock one more time and brought her hand up to rest on his chest. “I don’t want to go home, but I won’t beg. You want me, Angel. Kinda obvious, dontcha think? Do something about it.”

Angelus had the strangest feeling he was the one being seduced. He glanced around half expecting Buffy and her cronies to pop out of nowhere and find out that Cordelia was just a diversion. The hour was late. The cul-de-sac was isolated from the main road and quiet. Most neighboring houses were dark indicating that people were probably sleeping.

There was no sign of light from inside the Harris’ ranch-style house. Xander’s room was overlooked the backyard. The ground was still moist from the downpour earlier in the evening. Though the streets were dry again, it wouldn’t do to toss Cordelia down on the damp grass and end up rolling around in mud. He considered taking her to the nearest motel where they could fuck for hours without interruption. Maybe then he could slake his desire for her.

As tempting as that thought was, Angelus didn’t want to wait. She was too beautiful, too eager. “You surprise me, Cordelia. People rarely surprise me.”

She murmured a complaint that the kissing had stopped. Angelus touched his lips to hers as if sipping a fine wine. Her lips parted on a sigh and his tongue gently dipped in and out making her crazy with want. Cordelia couldn’t get close enough. Everywhere he touched she ached for more.

Cupping her breasts in his large palms, Angelus squeezed gently and then reached over to flick open the first two buttons creating a shadowy glimpse of deep cleavage. He growled approval. He bent her back, a hand between her shoulder blades, and kissed the curve of her luscious breasts while brushing aside the material of her top to expose them fully to his view.

Beautiful. His hand moved again, testing the weight of the firm flesh in his palm, his eyes turning gold as he focused on the turgid peaks. Ripe and eager for attention, he brushed his lips over the silky flesh surrounding them making it ripple beneath him. Her nipples darkened, tightening further, making his mouth water at the sight.

“Oh!” Cordelia gasped at the sensation as Angelus flicked his fingernail hard against her nipple and then covered it with his mouth, velvety tongue taking away the sting. It felt so good. He sucked softly, almost teasingly before taking her deeper into his mouth making her feel the tug all the way down to her clit.

Without even being aware that she was doing it, Cordelia’s hand released its hold on his shirt and snaked down between them. This was too much like one of her fantasies and the need to touch herself was impossible to ignore. Her fingers slipped down to the edge of the leather mini skirt pushing it up and out of the way, stealing beneath the edge of her panties finding herself slick and swollen.

A gurgle of pleasure sounded as she circled her clit and rubbed at it as Angelus turned his attention to her other breast. He grunted lustfully realizing she was getting herself off. More surprises from this tempting morsel. Angelus didn’t fight the change when it came over him, cartilage and bone shifting, his fangs descending. It had been a long time since he’d wanted someone this way.

With Buffy it was all hearts and tenderness and shy touches. Something the Soul got lost in and forgot that he was a demon, too. It was an illusion, pretense. Angelus was thrilled that the Soul had been stupid enough to fall for his own fantasy of humanity. Deep down, there were other desires. One of them was right here in his arms.

“Are you wet for me?” Angelus raised his head long enough to let her see his true face. A moment passed when he waited for the scream—the one that never came.

Flushed, Cordy only nodded in answer, her plump lower lip caught between her teeth as she concentrated on the building pleasure between her thighs. Her eyelids felt heavy. She wanted to close them, let herself get lost in the sensations. His mouth on her breasts. Her fingers stroking, sliding, so good.

Cordelia saw him change. The fluidic shift of flesh and bone should have frightened her, but it didn’t. This was Angel. He was too deep in her heart to fear anything that he was or could be, even as a vampire, as Angelus. “Please,” she whimpered getting close to a peak, but feeling like she needed more.

Her back arched pressing her breast fully into his grasp. His fingers tightened instantly and he bent down to flick his tongue across her nipple causing her to utter something incoherent as her eyes slammed shut. Angelus ground his cock into her hip making sure to leave room for her busy fingers. He was so hard he felt like he was going to burst out of his pants.

Fuck, he had to taste her. Now. Angelus’ golden eyes glazed over with lust as he stared at the rounded breast in his hand. He looked to its twin and licked flatly across its firm outer curve before nipping the flesh. Blood beaded to the surface.

Cordelia let out a little shriek, but moaned softly at the sight of Angelus’ tongue lapping at the crimson smear across her breast. Her hand stilled. She pulled it up toward the bite only to have Angelus capture her fingers in his mouth. Straightening her up to a standing position, one hand firmly held her against him; the other captured her wrist as he sucked on her honey coated fingers.

Letting her fingers go, Angelus turned his head to claim her lips again. She kissed him, open mouthed and just as eagerly as she had before he’d shown her his fangs. Her tongue darted into his mouth, tasting herself, a moan resonating in the back of her throat. Angelus scraped his fangs across her tongue, not deeply. Just enough to let the taste of her blood linger between them as they kissed.

Nudging her with his legs and the persistent strength of his grasp, he backed her up to the edge of the sidewalk forcing her down to street level where her calves butted up against something warm and metallic. Cordelia looked behind her and saw her rain-slicked car just as Angelus sent her sprawling onto the hood. It was still warm to the touch and hard beneath her back. The rain had left it clean, but slippery and she scrambled to get back to her feet.

“We’re not doing it here,” Cordelia protested as she propped herself up on her elbows.

The action thrust her unbound breasts into view. Angelus smirked and watched her gaze follow. She didn’t bother to cover up, staring back at him, her nipples tightening up again when she realized looking at her turned him on. There was something sexy about him like this, fangs and all. He’d bitten her, done things that should have her screaming, but Cordy felt nothing but desire.

Angelus took a step forward. “Think again.” He nudged her knees apart, slid his knuckles along the length of her inner thigh stopping just short of the elastic edge of her panties. “I think you know exactly what we’re doing. What’s more—you want it.”

Her thighs trembled as they opened wider allowing him to slide both hands up and down the bare silk of her legs. Cordelia’s head lolled back on her neck, her silky hair cascading across the red metal hood. He gripped her upper thighs and pulled her hips toward the edge of the car. The leather skirt bunched uncomfortably around her waist, but Cordy couldn’t care less as she felt Angelus’ hands roam across her belly.

Rubbing into her flesh, circling up to her navel hidden beneath the folds of her skirt, he moved back down to the edge of her panties. Cordelia’s hips jerked, a little gasp on her lips as he lifted up the elastic and released it to sting her skin, simultaneously teasing her. His thumb curved down across her covered mound delving into the damp space between her thighs.

“Even if you didn’t,” Angelus told her reaching to unbuckle his belt, “I’d still fuck you.”

Cordelia lifted her foot to his chest, her stiletto heel pressing just hard enough to rip the velvet shirt and leave an indentation in his pale flesh. She kicked hard sending him back a step or two. He stared down at his chest suddenly aware that she could’ve dusted him if she’d jabbed any deeper. “You still don’t know me. It’s what I want that counts.”

By rights, he should be furious. Instead, the aggressive move aroused his lust rather than his anger. Angelus growled low and deep, his chest rumbling, cock throbbing. He lunged forward dragging her thighs open and grinding against her swollen center as he kissed the breath out of her. She gasped for air when he muttered a reminder, “You said you wanted me.”

That hadn’t changed. “Yeah. That’s right.” Cordelia dragged his mouth back to hers.

Angelus’ head was spinning from their kisses. The girl instinctively knew what he liked. Every move he made, she countered. The little bitch was a natural tease. Her hot hands were everywhere except where he really wanted them. That was a bad idea anyway, he decided, dragging his lips away from her mouth. This would be over a lot sooner than he wanted.

His demon visage had long faded back to his human mask. Cordelia’s acceptance of him in his vampire form made him focus on pleasing her as a man, not just as a demon. Blunt teeth nipped at her shoulder instead of the sharp fangs he’d used at her breast. His touch soothed and enflamed her senses.

Pressing his palms flat against the hood Angelus pushed away from the welcoming heat of her body. His gaze fell to her breasts again and he nuzzled them with his face before rising to his feet. Cordelia protested, her arms reaching out for him as if she embodied desire itself.

More tempting that anything he’d ever seen, she was so beautiful spread out across the hood of the car. Angelus thought about breaking her neck right then and there. He was a demon, a killer. They’d barely started and he was desperate for her. This was something he couldn’t give up, not until he had it again and again.

Angelus hooked a finger through the elastic band of her panties and tugged downward. A flush flooded Cordelia’s cheeks, but she lifted her hips to let him slide them off. With the first shy move she made, she brought her knees together. “Let me see you.” He licked his lips.

Slowly, she parted her thighs spreading them wider to let Angelus look his fill. She felt so horny and naughty just letting him stand there and look. His hands scraped up his leather clad thighs to reach for the closure of his pants. A zip sounded. Cordelia peeked in that direction, but he just loosened his pants leaving his erection untouched.

Distracted, she didn’t notice him move closer until his fingers touched her sliding across her wet slit. Her mouth fell open, but no words came out. He stroked her expertly. His fingertips slicked along her folds, teased her clit, making her even wetter. She mewled for more, her lusty moans and little pleas finally earning her the shallow penetration of his fingers.

Angelus gathered her arousal, spreading it across her folds, stretching her tight channel to accommodate him. He played with her pussy until she was writhing and thrusting against his fingers, his name a mantra on her lips as bright starbursts lit the back of her eyelids as she came.

Releasing his cock from his pants he grunted at the contact. Cordelia’s eyes opened at the sound, her body still thrumming with pleasure as she watched Angelus’ hand close over his erection. A strangled gasp caught in her throat. He was bigger than anyone she’d ever seen or touched, uncut, and pale like the moonlight above.

It frightened and thrilled her to think how much she wanted it. He had to know. “I want it.”

Angelus positioned the tip at her center, poking at the wet flesh and playfully nudging her clit, deliberately drawing out the anticipation. Unable to wait any longer, Cordy reached between them to nudge his hand, repeating her plea, “I want you.”

Holding her hips steady, Angelus thrust deep until he was fully sheathed. A short scream filled the air causing him to still above her, wait and watch for the lights to go on in the houses around them. Typically, nothing happened. He looked back down at Cordelia who lay beneath him, eyes clenched as she bit back another cry of pain, a tear rolling down her cheek.

He caught it on his tongue then pressed his lips to her cheek and whispered soothing words into her ear as he pulled back. A shaky gasp sounded as Cordelia tried to stave off the pain. Angelus frowned at the reaction, uncertain why it would hurt her so much. He was big, but not freakishly so. She was tighter that he expected. The way she’d come on to him, let him have his way, and touched herself all added up to a lack of innocence.

Or so he’d thought. Modern girls knew a lot more than they did back in the day. Bravado was a trait Cordelia had in excess. Though he still didn’t understand why she’d let him have her without a fight or at least a good chase, Angelus decided that this feisty little kitten was a virgin after all. The scent of fresh blood added all the proof he needed.

Angelus pulled out completely. She whimpered at the sensation and pulled her legs back together. “Don’t cover yourself.” He wasn’t done by far. His rampant cock begged to be back inside her, his balls now aching and tight against his body.

Crouching down, he pulled her lower body off the edge of the car, his hands cupping her bottom. She put her legs over his shoulders holding them open when he demanded she do so. There was a deep ache where he’d thrust inside her filling her up, an empty feeling. She watched him, uncertain as to what he was doing, until he got closer and his head dipped between her thighs.

The first touch of his tongue caused her hips to buck away from the foreign sensation. He held her steady, ignoring the shifting thighs across his shoulders and the heels digging into his sides. The taste of bloodied innocence and sex was too great a temptation for any vampire.

She felt hot, tasted divine with sweet honey, feminine tang and the coppery elixir of life. Spearing deep, he collected her fluidic sex on his tongue and ate her out. Lips and fingers stimulating. She writhed beneath the sensual onslaught, her body arching, now clutching at him to get closer searching for release rather than freedom.

Devouring everything Cordelia could give him, Angelus looked up the length of her body to find her running her hands across her exposed flesh. She cupped her breasts teasing her nipples, the sight causing his brain to short-circuit. A mewl of discontent sounded as he paused to watch and he felt Cordy’s legs squeezing him, pulling him back in to her body.

“Don’t stop, don’t stop, Angel,” she pleaded reaching down between them to run her hand through his hair. Her nails gently scraped his scalp encouraging him to continue.

She was so tactile, enjoying every caress and touching him in ways that set off shards of pain and flicks of pleasure. It was all instinctive and her unskilled responses made him wonder what kind of lover she would be like with a little practice. He was curious enough to promise himself not to get carried away as he turned his head and sank his fangs into her thigh.

This was the kind of woman to bring a man to his knees—if he wasn’t already there. The pavement bit hard despite the leather as he crashed forward, his weight pressing Cordelia into the hood of the car, holding her body stable as he laved at the mark. She cried out, her fingers now gripping at the short strands of his hair rather than caressing. The pain lasted only seconds as pleasure took hold again. Angelus began to draw slowly from the seeping wound, savoring every drop as he sucked softly, the sensation coupling with the steady thrust of his fingers.

Cordelia’s gaze was fixed upon Angelus as he licked at the bite, horrified by it, yet lost in a haze of passion. He turned back to her almost without warning, his mouth closing over her sweet spot and driving her wild until the universe seemed to center itself at that one pinpoint of pleasure and burst into a billion stars.

Angelus caught the hot gush of her release on his tongue, low grunts of satisfaction in his throat as he lapped at her folds. It had been ages since he’d tasted anything so sweet. He wasn’t going to give this up anytime soon.

For a moment Cordelia blanked out. The intensity of her orgasm sent her flying through a fog of pleasure and nothing mattered except holding onto that feeling. She barely noticed as Angelus eased her back down onto the hood. Lost in it, she heard her name as if from a great distance. “Open your eyes.”

With a slow shake of her head, Cordy refused. It was too hard. They were too heavy. Her body still reeling from what he’d done to her. Somewhere in the dark, she heard someone laughing. Glazed eyes flew open when his fingers slipped away. Wickedly, he lifted them to his mouth for one last taste of her before reaching down to stroke the hard length of his cock.

Cordelia gulped at the sight as he took one step closer and positioned himself to enter her. He’d hurt her before and he’d already bitten her twice. The shriek of anger inside her was such a tiny thing that it was easily ignored. She tensed, but said nothing. This was going to happen. Not only because he had no intention of stopping, but because Cordelia was desperate to be with him.

Watching and reveling in her every reaction, he entered her with one smooth thrust. She clenched instinctively as his engorged sex stretched her open. Angelus let out a low grunt at the sensation of being back inside her tight heat. He began to rock his hips, his gaze dropping down to where their bodies joined and the sight of it made him pump harder.

“Wait, oh!” Cordelia pushed at his shoulders suddenly overwhelmed by what she was feeling. It was too much. Hard, tight, burning, wanting, slick, faster, filling her again and again.

Patience was at an end for Angelus. He pulled at her wrists removing her hands from his shoulders and held them down against the hood. Never breaking stride, he continued to fuck her until her whimpers of discomfort turned to incoherent pleasure. The temptation of her mouth was too much and he claimed it with a wet kiss of darting tongues and fast caresses.

Cordelia kissed him just as eagerly and used her teeth when he encouraged it by nipping at his bottom lip, his chin and the tempting bump of his adam’s apple. It was so good. So much more than she imagined. He was so hot. His body hard and beautiful and inside her. She echoed a growl, enjoying the sound, feeling it down to the joining of their bodies as they banged together.

Biting harder than planned, her teeth sliced at his lip. Angelus was only turned on by it. He lingered even longer at her pliant mouth kissing her until his coppery kiss seemed as normal as the salty taste of his skin.

The chassis of the car squeaked beneath them as their grunts and cries filled the air. He released her wrists, one hand reaching up to tangle in the wild waves of her hair and the other sliding down between them. His fingers slipped across her stretched folds where their bodies joined, both of them moaning as he traced the wet path of her inner lips and simultaneously teased his cock.

Angelus rubbed the swollen nub of her clitoris sending sparks of pleasure throughout her body and instantly setting of her orgasm. “Noisy little bitch,” he muttered rawly enjoying every second of it as her pleasure crested to its peak.

Vibrant and beautiful in that moment, Cordelia arched against him, her body humming with life and vitality that Angelus had to make his own. His hold on her hair tightened. He buried his face into her throat and felt his fangs descend straight into her flesh. She jerked beneath him pinned by fangs and cock, still in the throws of her release.

Blood gushed into his mouth and it took almost more control than he had to retract his fangs from her throat instead of rending it. Angelus opened wide and laved languidly in contrast to the quickening pace of his thrusts below. He licked until the seeping wound slowed to a trickle, and then lifted up just enough to gaze down into her exultant eyes.

“You’re mine, Cordelia Chase,” Angelus kissed her hard and then muttered against her mouth, “mine.”

His hips crashed harder into hers, no longer rhythmic, but wild and desperate. He started to come, pistoning his hips faster, growling out her name. Cordelia wrapped her arms and legs around him and held on tight as he gave her everything he had. Collapsing forward, Angelus rubbed his forehead against the pillow of her breasts, his body still gasping for unneeded air and basking in the haze of their passion.

Still joined together they lay the Corvette, his weight bearing down on her. Cordelia traced a fingers across his face as he nuzzled her breasts. Palming his cheek, she nudged him to raise his eyes to hers. “You’re heavy.”

Angelus chuckled and lifted himself off her, sliding out from within as he backed away. They both gasped at the sensation. Cordelia brought her legs together and noticed that her hips ached along with a number of other sore spots where he’d bitten or bruised her skin. A deep ache centered inside her. She was tender, yet feeling too good to care.

“I’m tempted to take you again,” he said as she slid down a slick spot to land on her feet. Scrambling to tug her clothes back into place, Cordelia glanced back at the dented hood and frowned at him. He tucked himself back in his pants and closed the zipper before telling her, “Unfortunately, I’ve got a few scores to settle.”

Seeing that he was about to turn away and leave her there without another word, Cordelia felt a burst of anger. “So that’s it?”

He paused, contemplating his answer, giving her time to recognize the building sensation in her gut as panic. She didn’t want him to go. “No way are you running off to settle any scores with Buffy if that’s your game. You’re mine now.”

With anyone else, Angelus probably would’ve just reached out to snap her neck for the audacity of laying some kind of claim on him. He stepped close, caged her jaw in his hand and leaned down to correct her, “You’ve got it wrong, kitten. It’s the other way around. You definitely belong to me. Consider yourself lucky that I plan to keep you. Most of the girls I fuck end up dead.”

Kicking him in the shin only caused him to tighten his grip on her jaw, but a hint of respect glinted in his eyes. “Be careful about causing me pain, Cordelia. Two can play at that game.”

It should have scared her, but his words intrigued her instead. Again, she felt a twinge of doubt, sensing a something wrong about the urge to know everything about him and to give herself to him in every way possible. A fleeting thought, it flickered out before it truly had time to form in her head.

“I’m going with you,” Cordy insisted, ready to follow him to the gates of Hell itself.

Angelus let her go, but caught her when she stumbled at the quick release. “What is this? I don’t need a clinging vine. Just because we fucked doesn’t mean we’re inseparable. Go home. Take a bath. Sleep. You’ll need all the energy you can get. When I come to you again it will be for more than a quickie.”

A hot bath sounded divine. Mounds of bubbles. Steamy water. The scent of roses and lavender seeping into her pores. It would be perfect if Cordelia didn’t suspect that he was planning to go see Buffy—who was probably still pissed at being dumped.

“Pardon me if I don’t want my boyfriend getting staked.”

“Boyfriend?” Angelus echoed the word. Brow raised sharply, he wondered, What was it with virgins? One good ride and they expected commitment. To be fair, he expected it from her now that he’d put his mark on her. No other vampire would dare to touch her.

Lucky for Cordy that he was in a good mood tonight. He decided not to indoctrinate her in the correct manner of showing respect to one’s master. That could wait until he sired her. Things were too complicated to do it now. With Spike and Dru plotting to end the world, he didn’t have the time to deal properly with a newly created childe, especially a female. They required so much more care and attention than other fledglings.

Besides, he didn’t want to screw this one up the way he had with some of the others. She was going to be very special—assuming that he didn’t rip out her agile tongue and feed it to her long before then. Did she ever shut up long enough to listen?

Putting his hands on her waist, he centered her body and leaned in to kiss the tip of her nose effectively distracting her. “There’s something I want you to do for me.”

Angelus expected questions, lots of them, or an outright refusal. The Soul’s experiences with Cordelia had taught him she wasn’t going to jump at anything without a vein of doubt. She surprised him again with a simple answer.

“Anything,” she said a little too eagerly.

This desire to please him was confusing, but Angelus decided not to question it. Other girls had fallen quite easily for his manly charms, so why should he care if Cordelia could no longer resist him? He wasn’t about to enlighten her that she was taking her clinginess to a new level as long as it worked out for him.

“I have an idea.” Angelus decided to revise his little revenge scheme. Instead of showing Buffy what he thought about love by leaving the corpses of her friends at her doorstep, he would leave her living proof of his desires. “Give me your keys. I’m driving.”

“Where are we going?”

“Don’t ask questions. Get in.”

Cordelia obeyed long enough to climb into the passenger seat and shut the door. “I get the feeling that you’re up to no good.”

Chuckling, “What makes you think that?” he turned the ignition and revved the engine. The tires left rubber streaks on the road as the car sped away.

“Hello, you’re evil now.”

The matter of fact way she said it caused him to shake his head. “That would frighten the hell out of most people.”

“I’m not most people,” she huffed indignantly. “I’m Cordelia Chase.”

Angelus turned his attention back to the driving. He needed to put an end to Spike and Dru’s asinine idea. Finish this thing with the Judge. Once that was out of the way he could focus on his girls. Oh, he’d enjoy putting the big hurt on Buffy Summers. She deserved every heartbreaking moment she would get. The wait for Cordelia would be longer, but the anticipation of making her was already exciting.

Speeding through a red light at the corner of Thousand Oaks and Weatherly Drive, he took a right at the next corner and slowed down considerably finally coming to a rolling stop. “We’re here.”

Surveying the house directly across from their car, Cordelia realized where Angelus had brought her. “This is Buffy’s house,” she said with an accusatory tone creeping into her voice. “I thought I told you to forget about her.”

“This isn’t about the Slayer.” Angelus skipped the lecture about him being able to do anything he wanted because he was in charge. “Don’t be jealous, beautiful. I only want to screw with Buffy’s head, not fuck her. Once was more than enough.”

“Eew! Don’t remind me,” she shuddered and made a wigged out face. “Can’t we just go somewhere quiet where we can be alone? I’d rather be with you.”

Cordy scooted over as far as she could until the gear shift got in her way and then leaned in to kiss him. He let her lead the kiss enjoying the delivery of her soft smooches against his closed lips. A soft lick of her tongue across the seam of his mouth caused a carnal moan to rumble up from his throat. Releasing his subconsciously tight grip on the wheel, Angelus cupped her face and held her still as he plundered her mouth.

Finally releasing her, Angelus revealed, “You’ll be safer here. The Slayer can protect you while I take care of some family business.”

“Angelus, I can’t go in there looking like this,” Cordelia lifted a hand to her tangled hair.

Wryly, Angelus pointed out that her hair was the least of the issues Buffy would focus on when Cordelia showed up. He touched his fingertips to the reddened wound on her throat.

“You know what this means?”

It was one of three, but felt different than the others. She’d read a lot about vampires after that night at the Bronze. Biting could mean many different things. With a shrug, Cordelia guessed, “That you get hungry when you’re horny?”

“Not exactly,” his mouth stretched in amusement. “We’ll talk about it later. For now, I need to get going.”

“You’re really going to leave me here with her?” Cordelia was completely distracted by the turn of conversation. She glanced down at her hands which were resting on her bare thighs, studying the red tips of her polished fingernails. “Won’t Spike and Dru send the Judge here if they want to come after the Slayer? It’s not as if her house isn’t listed in the phone book.”

“Nah!” Angelus knew his grandchilde too well. “It’ll be somewhere public. Somewhere crowded. Gotta make a big scene.”

Thinking about the possibilities, there was only one place she could come up with. “You mean— not the mall!” Cordelia was horrified at the thought of her favorite stores going up in flames.

“Stay out of it,” Angelus warned her not to do anything stupid that would get her hurt. “I want you safe, but I also want you to do something for me while you’re with Buffy.”

Glancing over at the darkened house, Cordelia pleaded with Angelus to change his mind. “Take me with you. Or at least take me back to my place. I-I can’t go in there like this. Mrs. Summers will freak and Buffy— she’s gonna know about us.”

When Angelus did not answer, Cordelia whipped her head up and saw the dark gleam in his eyes. She knew then that the scenario she described was precisely what he wanted. “Oh, God! I was right. This is about getting back at Buffy.”

She was about to abandon her car and flee down the sidewalk when Angelus stopped her from grabbing the door handle. “Wait.”

“Why? You’re just using me to get to them.” She wailed as tears slid down her cheeks.

Angelus tried to soothe her. He needed Cordelia’s cooperation to set his plan into motion. “Baby, you’re right. I need your help here. That’s not what tonight was about. You know I want you. Ask the Watchers about this,” he brushed his fingers over the bite again, “and that will tell you everything you need to know.”

Sniffing away the tears, she considered what he said. Maybe it was the crying, but Cordy suddenly felt drained of energy. “Fine. I’ll do it, but you have to do something for me, too.”

Deals weren’t in the cards for anyone—except maybe her. His willingness to allow her to make demands surprised him. “Whatever you want.”

“I know you’re bent on doing the vampire thing and killing everyone—and don’t even try to look innocent. Earlier tonight you said you were planning to kill Xander.” She paused, silently daring him to say otherwise. No denials or retractions followed, so Cordelia kept going. “You’re the most important person in my life, but they’re still my friends. I’d like them alive and physically unhurt.”

Not liking it, Angelus started to negotiate for a little flexibility, “A few broken bones—”

“No way.”

Weighing his options, he realized that he had none. If this plan was going to work, he needed Cordelia’s full cooperation. Besides, making her this promise now didn’t mean that she wouldn’t let him out of it later. “It’s a deal.”

“Deal,” she made him shake on it. “So what’s the 411 on this big evil plan of yours? I suppose you want me to tell Buffy everything. She already thinks I’m a bitch, so telling her that you’re my boyfriend and we made love will really thrill her—not.”

There was that word again: boyfriend. He pushed it out of his head and focused on the fact that Cordelia was willing to play his little game. Angelus wasn’t surprised that she guessed some of it. “That’s my girl, but don’t make it sound so sappy. I found you. We fucked. I bit you. ”

Wondering if that was really how he saw it, Cordelia’s heart ached along with the rest of her body. This was really going to hurt Buffy’s feelings. Getting dumped was bad enough for any girl—not that she would know personally. It was always better to be the dumper than the dumpee. While she would never normally under any possible circumstances that she could think of wanting Buffy Summer’s cast-offs, Angel wasn’t an ordinary guy.

He was perfect—for an evil bloodsucking vampire who had no house, no money and no car as far as she knew. Well, she was open minded enough to overlook a few minor faults to be with the man she loved. There was nothing she wouldn’t do for him. A deal was a deal.

“Is there anything else?”

“Just one.” Angelus revealed what he wanted her to say directly to Buffy. “She’ll get the message.”

Wide-eyed, Cordelia reminded him, “There’s this old saying about killing the messenger. This is going to push her too far. Buffy will kill me and then come after you.”

“She won’t hurt you.”

Cordelia looked doubtful and suddenly reluctant to move. Angelus turned off the engine and got out, walking over to her side of the car and opening the passenger door. “Come on, Cordy. Get going,” he nodded toward the house.

Standing next to him, her fears were suddenly no longer about confronting Buffy, but about him leaving. “When will I see you again?”

“Soon,” promised Angelus while tracing the curve of her cheek. He followed with a series of little kisses that led to her mouth where he lingered slow and deep.

When it ended, Cordelia grumbled, “Not soon enough, obviously.” She held out her hand for the car keys.

Angelus felt reluctant to let her go. He wanted to blow off the whole thing with the Judge and just focus on his new favorite girl. He could do that once this was settled. “I won’t stay away long. I’ll be back for you. I keep what’s mine.”

“Possessive, much?”

Tilting her chin up for a final quick kiss, he answered, “Get used to it.”


SOULBOUND – BOOK ONE – THE FIRST CONNECTION: CHAPTER LINKS

Book One Chapter 2                     Book One Home                    Book One Chapter 4


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