Mistletoe Mansion. 2-4

Part 2

Angel looked back at his distressed girlfriend, horror-struck. “Of course not,” he said. “How could you think that? I love you.”

“Don’t lie to me, Angel,” Cordelia shot back, her voice rising in volume. “Why else would you want to be here if it wasn’t because of her?”

“I did not wish to be with Buffy,” the vampire insisted as he reached out to take her hands in his. The seer tried to wrench her fingers out of his grasp, but he held on tight, refusing to let go.

“So why are we in Sunnydale then?” she demanded, her voice trembling with pain-filled emotion.

“I don’t know – maybe it wasn’t anything to do with the mistletoe.”

Cordelia shook her head in denial, tears overflowing from her brimming eyes and coursing down her cheeks. “I should have known it was too good to be true.”

Angel sighed. “Cordy, I chose to be with you, okay? You have to trust me. Do you honestly think that I would treat you so badly?”

The seer’s tears dried up as that question hit home. Although insecure about his love for her, she simply couldn’t believe that he would play with her emotions in such a callous way. He knew how fragile they were sometimes, and while his alter ego might be cruel, the man she loved was anything but.

“What did you wish for?” she asked in a quavering voice, choosing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

“That you and I could spend some proper time together without all the constant interruptions.”

“You swear?”

“Cross my heart and hope to die.”

“You’re already dead,” Cordelia pointed out with a small smile.

“Semantics,” Angel replied, tugging her towards him for a hug.

As the vampire’s strong arms closed about her, Cordelia nestled into his embrace with a deep sigh, her arms rising to encircle his broad back. “So we’re on the wrong track with Fred and the mistletoe theory?” she asked, her warm lips moving sensually against the exposed skin of his throat.

Angel sighed and rested his chin on the top of her head, frowning as he recalled his earlier conversation with their friend. “Not necessarily,” he decided. “Fred was holding the mistletoe behind her back when we were talking in the kitchen this morning.”

Cordelia tipped her head back to look up at him. “And?” she prompted.

“I could have inadvertently made another wish,” the vampire confessed, a sheepish look crossing his handsome face.

“Which was what?”

“Something along the lines of wishing that I still lived at the mansion, because I hardly had any visitors there.”

“Whereas the Hyperion’s been like Grand Central Station all week?”

“Exactly.”

“Just when we wouldn’t actually mind if business was slow.”

“Precisely.”

Cordelia was silent for a moment as she digested this. “Oops!” she finally said.

Smiling at her understatement, Angel rested his forehead against hers. “I’m sorry – this is all my fault.”

“Oh, I think Fred might have had a whole lot to do with it too. What the hell was she thinking?”

“I doubt it was intentional, Cordy. She was probably trying to do something nice for us. You know – make our wishes come true.”

“Yeah well, Little Miss I-got-sucked-through-a-portal-into-a-Hell-Dimension-for-five-years should know better than to mess with magic. There are always unforeseen consequences. What if we’re stuck here for – like – ever?”

“It won’t come to that,” Angel said, stepping back and squeezing her shoulders reassuringly.

“You don’t know that.”

“No, but I’m sure that if we can’t work out how to get back ourselves, Giles will be able to help us.”

“Shouldn’t we just ask him straightaway then?”

Angel shook his head. “No – we don’t want to mess too much with the past. It could affect the future in ways neither of us wants.”

Cordelia sighed and ran her fingers agitatedly through her glossy mane of dark hair. “So what do we do?”

“Well, get out of here for starters. And then go to the School Library to do some research, I guess.”

“Won’t Buffy be suspicious if you leave early?”

“I doubt it – I wasn’t exactly Mr Social when I lived in Sunnydale.”

“But it’s Christmas, she’s gonna want to spend time with you.”

“Actually, after tonight, I don’t remember seeing her again until a few days after Christmas.”

Cordelia stared at him incredulously, shocked that the slayer had left him alone over the holidays.

“We weren’t really together at this point in time,” Angel began to explain.

“That’s no excuse,” the seer interrupted, her lips pursing in disapproval. “You’d just gone through all that stuff with the First, right? She shouldn’t have left you all by yourself to brood.”

Angel sighed heavily. “She did call me on Christmas Day,” he said. “It’s just – it wasn’t like it is with you and me, Cordy. Buffy and I – we weren’t exactly friends; we didn’t really talk about stuff like that. We kind of avoided the whole issue to be honest.”

“And here’s me thinking you two had the perfect relationship. You sure always acted like it was.”

“No – it was intense; one hell of a rollercoaster ride, and it meant everything to me at the time. But it was never perfect, far from it. Don’t get me wrong, I loved her and I wouldn’t change what we had for anything, but I don’t think we were meant to last. It was first love, not forever love. It took me a long time to accept that though.”

“Tell me about it,” Cordelia commented with a comical roll of her eyes. “I had to live with you during the long-drawn-out mope-fest, remember?”

“I remember. If it wasn’t for you, I don’t think I would have come out the other end of it. You – and the others – forced me to continue living my life when all I wanted to do was hide away from the world.”

“Yeah well, Mr Dark and Broody is kinda sexy an’ all, but he’s not the most scintillating company, you know.”

“Sexy huh?” Angel asked, a suggestive twinkle sparkling in his chocolate-brown eyes.

Cordelia stepped forward and wound her arms around the vampire’s neck, leaning in close so that her face was centimetres from his. “Oh yeah,” she said, her voice throaty with renewed desire. “The very definition of sexy, believe me.”

In response, Angel bridged the tiny gap between them and assuredly settled his mouth over hers. He kissed her softly and sweetly at first, but then with mounting passion as he pulled her flush against him, one hand pressed firmly into the curve of her spine and the other cupping the back of her head.

As ever, Cordelia responded with enthusiasm, her lush lips pliant under his insistent mouth and ardent tongue. Tightening her arms about his neck, she moulded her soft curves to the rigid contours of his muscular form, seemingly trying to crawl inside his skin. Her open responsiveness drove the vampire mad with desire; he simply couldn’t get enough of her. She was a growing addiction, a delightful habit that he had no intention of breaking any time soon – if ever.

“Angel, are you up here?”

Angel and Cordelia sprang apart as Buffy’s voice jarringly intruded on their passionate embrace.

“Quick hide!” the vampire hissed under his breath.

“Where?”

“Err…,” Angel cast about the room, looking for a suitable place of concealment. “In here, come on,” he said, ushering the seer over towards the closet.

He pulled back the slatted wooden doors and Cordelia clambered inside, secreting herself between the rows of hanging garments. “This is so clichéd,” she giggled as she squatted down on the floor.

Angel grinned; glad that having to play the unwarranted role of the other woman amused, rather than annoyed, her.

“I know, I’m sorry,” he whispered. “But we can’t let her find out.”

“Well duh!”

“Angel? Where are you?”

Alarmed at the nearness of the slayer’s voice, the vampire threw a worried glance over his shoulder and hurriedly tugged the closet doors shut.

“Listen,” he told Cordelia urgently through the wooden panels. “I’m gonna make my excuses and leave as soon as I can. Meet me on the corner of Metcalf Street, okay?”

“Okay.”

“Angel?”

The door handle rattled and ominously began to turn. In a blind panic, Angel rushed across the room to intercept the slayer’s arrival. As he abruptly pulled open the door, he caught Buffy completely off guard and she stumbled over the threshold as a result.

“Sorry,” he apologised, quickly reaching out to steady her.

“What are you doing in here?” the slayer asked curiously, once she’d righted herself.

“Nothing! I just… I needed some space. I’m not really a people person.”

Buffy nodded and then slowly reached out and pushed the door closed, a soft smile tugging at the corner of her lips.

Oh, this is so not good! Angel thought as she moved closer, her gaze filled with undisguised want.

“You know, here we are, all alone,” the slayer murmured, coyly looking up at him through her eyelashes as her fingers played with the buttons on his shirt. “I reckon we should make the most of the opportunity, don’t you?”

“Buffy, I’m not sure this is such a good idea.”

“I know, but we’ve tried to keep away from each other and it’s just not working. I want to be with you, Angel, even if we can’t be properly together because of your curse. I know you want it too, I shared your dreams, remember?”

Confused, the vampire looked at her blankly, trying to recall the events of three years before. “I’m not sure, I follow…”

“You imagined us making love.”

“Oh – that,” Angel replied, finally remembering his fevered hallucinations.

“Yeah – *that*.”

“Buffy please; I don’t think I can do this. It’s too difficult to hold back, you know?” Angel implored frantically, desperately hoping that she’d take the bait and back off.

He was out of luck though – the slayer slumped against him, releasing a put-upon sigh. “Nothing is ever easy for us, is it?” she complained, resting her cheek against his chest and winding her arms tightly about his waist.

Extremely conscious of Cordelia hidden in the closet a few feet away, the uncomfortable vampire stood stiff as a board, his arms by his sides. Eventually though, he reached up to gingerly pat his ex-girlfriend on the back, while awkwardly stroking his other hand over the crown of her head. The slayer didn’t seem to notice his distinctly lacklustre response to her embrace however – a fact that he was immensely grateful for.

After a minute or so, Buffy raised her head and looked up at him, her blue eyes sad and liquid-filled. Reaching up with her left hand, she lightly stroked his face with her fingertips and brushed the pad of her thumb over the curve of his lips.

Stuck between a rock and a hard place, Angel looked down into her upturned face, not really knowing what to do for the best. Yes, he could easily rebuff her advances – and god knows he wanted to – but what effect would that have on the future? Would he have left Sunnydale for LA if the short-lived reunion between him and the slayer had never happened?

He didn’t know, and so made the painful decision not to take the risk. It was crazy and seriously twisted, but in a strange way, the future of his relationship with Cordelia depended on him responding positively to Buffy now. So – even though it went against everything in him – he curled his fingers around the slayer’s and forced himself to gently kiss the palm of her hand.

“I’m sorry, I love you,” he said, hoping against hope that Cordelia would understand that his apology and heartfelt declaration was directed at her, rather than the young girl standing before him.

Buffy smiled at his words, tears of happiness sparking in her sea-blue eyes. Raising herself onto her tiptoes, she pulled his face down to hers, and kissed him with all the passion of a young woman experiencing love for the first time.

In the closet, watching through the slatted wood panels, Cordelia pushed her curled-up fingers into her mouth to stifle the sob that threatened to escape. Although Angel’s reluctance was obvious, it didn’t mean she was immune to the heartbreaking sight of the man she loved in his ex’s arms. Blinking back her tears, she screwed her eyes shut, blocking out the painful scene before her.

Angel allowed the embrace to continue for as long as he could stand it, but when Buffy’s tongue snaked confidently into his mouth, it was a betrayal too far and he abruptly pulled away, unwilling to take the pretence to such an extreme.

“What’s wrong?” the slayer asked, her pretty face marred by a puzzled frown.

“Nothing…” Angel broke off and ran his hands over his face. “I’m sorry, this is… It’s been a rough couple of days, you know?”

“Yeah, I know.”

“I think I just need some space to get my head around all of this. I’m going to go home, okay?”

“Angel…”

“It’s no reflection on you, I promise. We can talk in a couple of days, all right? I just need to be alone for a while, that’s all.”

“All right.” Buffy finally acquiesced to his request, much to the vampire’s relief. “I’ll call you soon, okay?”

Angel nodded. “That would be good. Come on, we should go back downstairs before people start to wonder where we are.”

“Yeah, and before I have to explain to Mom what I was doing upstairs alone with my inappropriately older boyfriend,” Buffy quipped as she turned to open the door.

As they stepped out into the hallway, the vampire shot the grinning slayer an amused look, his face splitting into a genuine smile at her witticism. “And here’s me thinking all I had to worry about was stakes and sunlight,” he replied as they walked down the corridor towards the top of the stairs.

Back in the closet, Cordelia waited until their voices faded into the distance, and then cautiously emerged from her hiding place into silent dark of the bedroom. As she tucked her long hair behind her ears, her fingers brushed against the wet tracks of the tears on her face, and she sucked in a deep breath, trying to regain her composure.

Stepping out onto the deserted first floor landing, she headed towards the bathroom, rather than immediately venturing downstairs. She shut and locked the door behind her, and then turned to study her reflection in the mirror above the sink. Her so-called moisture-resistant mascara had run, streaking her cheeks with black and ringing her eyes with thick circles of ebony.

“Oo, peachy – panda eyes – how attractive,” she murmured with a wry grimace.

Striving to ignore the conflicting emotions churning around inside her, she set about fixing her tear-stained appearance. Logic told the seer that Angel didn’t really have much choice, given the circumstances, but she couldn’t completely quench the flare of anger that burned inside at his apparent betrayal. Or prevent the sudden desire to scratch the blissfully ignorant slayer’s eyes out for daring to touch what belonged to her, for that matter.

“Okay, get it together, Cor,” she coached herself. “You know the guy inside and out. Could he have been more unenthusiastic about the whole thing? I mean, talk about negative body language, he looked like he’d rather be macking on a wet fish. The lip-on-lip action that you and he’d got going on before Cry-Buffy so rudely interrupted, mind you. Now *that* was one hot, hot, hot smooch.”

Feeling much better after her little pep talk, Cordelia reapplied her make-up with practised ease before brushing her long, dark hair until it was gleaming. Then, squaring her shoulders, she slowly made her way back downstairs.

The party was just starting to liven up; someone had put on some music and everyone was dancing – even Giles, who had shed his inhibitions after a few too many glasses of eggnog. The strong ties of friendship that clearly existed between the people in the room tugged at the seer’s heartstrings, prompting her thoughts to turn to her own friends back home in LA.

A few days before, Fred had discovered several boxes of carefully packed Christmas decorations in an abandoned storeroom at the Hotel. Spurred on by the young Texan’s childlike enthusiasm for all things Yuletide – not to mention Cordelia’s considerable powers of persuasion – the male members of the Angel Investigations team had subsequently gone out on treasure hunt, returning a few hours later with a imposing Christmas tree to adorn the Hyperion Lobby.

Today was supposed to be the day that they decorated it, and Cordelia felt a sharp pang of regret at having missed the spectacle. The familial feel of their close-knit group filled a void in her that she hadn’t known was there, giving her a strong sense of belonging. With Angel by her side and her friends around her, she had been looking forward to this Christmas with an anticipation that she hadn’t experienced in years.

She shook off her daydream when it dawned on her that her boyfriend had already left the Summer’s house. Turning on her heel, she hastened to the hall closet to retrieve her coat and boots, intent on joining him as soon as humanly possible.

“Cordelia – are you leaving already? Is everything all right?”

The seer jumped at the sound of Joyce Summer’s voice behind her, but then turned and graced the older woman with a bright smile. “Yes, I’m fine, Mrs Summers. It’s just my Mom and Dad said they’d call from Aspen later, and I want to be home in time for that.”

“Of course, dear,” Buffy’s Mom nodded, obviously satisfied with her totally fabricated excuse. “You’re not going to be alone for Christmas, are you? You must join us if that’s the case.”

“Oh no, I’m – err – spending it with a friend, so I’ll be fine. Thanks for the invite though, and for tonight too – everything was great.”

Pulling on her gloves, Cordelia surreptitiously gravitated towards the door as she spoke, eager to leave. “Anyhow, I should get going. I hope you and Buffy have a good Christmas. Thanks again – bye!”

With that, she escaped out into the chilly night, and hurried down the garden path, the snow crunching under her feet. Climbing into the family Jeep – which she’d borrowed to drive over here – she turned the car’s heaters on full-blast and gunned the engine, then carefully pulled away from the sidewalk.

Nervous in the icy driving conditions, she slowly turned the corner into Metcalf Street, her hands tightly clutching the steering wheel and her attention focused on the road ahead. She quickly spotted Angel’s familiar form, pacing in tight circles under the orange glow of the street-lamp however.

Even from this distance, she could tell the vampire was in full-on brood mode. With his shoulders hunched and his hands stuck in the pockets of his long leather jacket, he was clearly beating himself up about what had happened back at the party. Therefore, as she drew the car to stop across the street, any leftover anger she was still harbouring against him simply evaporated into thin air.

“Hey Mr tall, dark and handsome stranger – can this vision of total hotliness give you a lift anywhere?” she asked, rolling down the window of the Jeep to call cheerily out to him.

With a muttered oath, Angel jerked his head up from his contemplation of his booted feet, startled at the sound of her voice. Briefly meeting her steady gaze before looking guiltily away, he didn’t answer her question, merely crossed the road and climbed dejectedly into the passenger side of the car. Releasing a heavy sigh, he opened his mouth to speak, but Cordelia pressed two fingers against his lips before he could utter a word.

“Don’t, okay? I’m not saying it didn’t hurt, but I get why you felt you had to do it.”

The remorseful vampire shook his head. “I should have tried harder to talk my way out of it. It’s just I was forced into making a split second decision and I…”

“Angel! Just quit with all the stammering, okay? It’s not necessary. We are *not* going to let this come between us, so turn off that brood-face this instant, mister.”

“Yes ma’am,” her boyfriend responded, automatically sitting up straighter at her peremptory tone.

“Just so you know though – if you ever do something like that for real, then you’re gonna be talking like a strangled cat for the rest of your very long life. Got it?”

Angel let out a short laugh, the tension draining from his body at her fierce threat. “I got it.”

“Good – that’s settled then. So – the Library?”

“Yep – the Library,” the vampire concurred. “I’m thinking it’s about time we found a way back to that future of ours.”

“My thoughts exactly.”

***

15 minutes later…

“So, where do we start?” Cordelia said, throwing her arms up in exasperation.

She was standing in the middle of the Library, dismay written all over her lovely face as she took in the endless rows of bookshelves.

“Err – the botany section, maybe? I think Giles tended to catalogue things that way. The books we want should be on the top shelf.”

“Why doesn’t he just keep all the magic stuff in one place?”

“Too obvious, I guess,” Angel replied as they headed into the book-stacks in search of answers. “This is a High School, after all. Someone might start asking questions if there was a whole shelf-full of literature on demons and the occult.”

“Why? It’s not like anybody ever asked questions about the alarmingly high death rate of students in the place, now is it?”

“People choose to see what they want to see, I guess. Sometimes it’s easier to remain ignorant than face up to what lurks in the shadows.”

“Yeah well, I happen to like my particular shadow-lurker.”

“Glad to hear it. Here we are – okay, let’s take a look.”

Standing on a step stool, the vampire ran his finger along the bindings of the various tomes on the top shelf. He eventually selected a thick volume, which emitted a cloud of dust when he pulled it free.

“How about this?” he said, turning the book round so the seer could see the title.

“Encyclopaedia of Flora used for Magical Incantations,” Cordelia read aloud. “Handy.”

“I thought so,” Angel replied as he climbed down to join her.

Sitting cross-legged on the floor, he turned to the ‘M’s’, searching for a section on Mistletoe. Scanning through the several pages of closely spaced type, he quickly found what they were looking for.

“Got it. Mistletoe – often used by genies to aid in the granting of wishes.”

“So, can we un-wish?”

“No, but it says here that the effects of enchanted mistletoe aren’t permanent – the results only last 72 hours.”

“And then we’ll go back to our time?”

“I imagine so.”

“Okaay, so that’s like three days, right? So – what? We just wait it out?”

“No – we make the most of it.”

Cordelia smiled her wide, trademark smile as she considered that – two whole days, just the two of them, the possibilities were endless…

“Maybe Fred’s unexpected little present isn’t such a bad thing, after all,” she decided.


Part 3

Cordelia emerged from the book-stacks ahead of Angel, and moved to stand next to the large wooden table that was strategically positioned in the centre of the room.

“So – where to now?” she asked, reaching out and stroking the palm of her hand over the smooth, shiny surface as she spoke.

Angel paused at the top of the short staircase that descended from the Mezzanine Level to the Library floor, and looked down on her, a wicked idea forming inside of his head. His lips curled up into a crafty smile before he strode across the room to join her, moving with the stealthy grace of a panther hunting its chosen prey.

Cordelia unconsciously took a step backwards, her heart rate increasing as she spied the licentious intent shining in his dark eyes. “What are you doing?” she demanded nervously.

The vampire didn’t answer, simply took a firm hold of her hips, and backed her over towards the desk until her bottom bumped against the squared-off edge. He relinquished his tight grip on her body at that point, but purposely kept her caged against the table as his fingers started to work on unfastening the large, plastic buttons of her heavy winter coat.

The two halves of the garment finally came apart and he pushed it from her shoulders, allowing it to slither to the floor. Kicking the coat out of the way with his booted foot, he stepped forward and wrapped one hand around the nape of her neck. Bending low, his lips grazed the silky skin of her throat as he spoke softly in her ear.

“I think we have some unfinished business,” he said, his rich, deep voice reverberating around her eardrum and sending shivers down her spine.

Cordelia’s breathing immediately quickened, becoming laboured as a wave of involuntary arousal overwhelmed her senses. “Unfinished business?” she asked breathlessly.

“Uh-huh,” Angel murmured, lifting his head and stepping back slightly.

Curling his fingers into the hem of her dress, he slowly pushed up her skirt, deliberately taking his time in order to heighten the erotic sensations that this stirred within both of them. The satiny material made a sensual rasping sound as it slid upwards over the seer’s stocking-clad limbs, and the vampire’s pupils dilated with male appreciation as her long, toned legs and the lacy straps of her suspender belt were revealed to his hungry-eyed gaze.

“I think I said something about returning the favour earlier,” he added. To emphasise his point, he lifted his eyes from their perusal of her shapely thighs to the small triangle of black satin that concealed the centre of her femininity.

Angel’s objective was clear, and Cordelia couldn’t stop the low moan that escaped at the thought of what he intended to do to her. Squeezing her thighs tightly together in an attempt to quell the aching throb at her centre, she struggled to pull her wits into some kind of order.

Unfortunately for her, the determined vampire was having none of that. Ignoring her half-hearted attempts to resist him, he effortlessly lifted her onto the desk and forcibly pulled her legs apart, moving to stand between them. He pushed her down onto the tabletop, the pads of his fingers pressing into the hollows below her collarbones, and then leaned forward and planted his elbows either side of her head.

Lying trapped beneath his heavy torso, the seer let out a soft whimper and clutched frantically at the sides of the desk in a helpless state of spiralling arousal. “What happened to ‘going back to the mansion and doing it properly’?” she enquired, her voice coming out more high-pitched than usual.

Angel didn’t answer, just brushed her hair off her forehead and lowered his head to kiss her. While his cool mouth clung firmly to her parted lips, he teasingly dipped his tongue into her mouth and touched just the tip of it to hers, making her insides clench in wanton anticipation.

“Nothing,” he replied, when their mouths separated with a soft, wet pop. “This is just a prelude to the main event – think of it as an appetizer if you like.”

“So – you want my fingers or my tongue?” he asked after a beat.

“How about a mixture of both?” Cordelia gasped out, arching her lower back as a rush of feminine moisture dampened her panties in response to the loaded question.

Angel chuckled at her reaction and dropped his face into the warm valley of her cleavage, nuzzling his wet lips against the soft skin there and causing goose bumps to break out on her sensitive flesh. “Greedy little minx,” he teased playfully as he kissed a path down over the embroidered bodice of her dress to the slight swell of her lower abdomen.

Cordelia heard the scrape of a chair against the floor, and she pushed herself up into a half-reclining position, watching with wide eyes as Angel sat down directly between her open legs, almost as if he was preparing to take a meal. Unable to stop herself, she eagerly lifted her legs over his shoulders and braced the balls of her feet against the back of the chair, effectively caging him between her thighs.

The vampire grinned at her zealous enthusiasm, but willingly pressed his face between her spread legs nevertheless. With undisguised relish, he took a deep unneeded breath, savouring the heavenly scent of her honeyed arousal through the thin satiny material of her underwear.

“Mmm – you smell delicious,” he murmured, then unexpectedly tore her panties from her body with a quick twist of his fingers.

“I don’t think we’ll be needing those,” he told her as he tossed the ripped scrap of satin aside.

“In fact,” he continued, his voice dropping to a low, seductive purr. “I don’t think you’ll be needing any underwear for the entire duration of our stay in Sunnydale. I want full access to you, when and wherever I want – got that?”

Under normal circumstances, Cordelia would have objected to being ordered around in such an over-bearing manner, but in this instance, his authoritarian attitude just turned her on even more. “I’ve got it,” she readily agreed, throwing caution to the wind. “I’m yours to take advantage of, big guy – any time, any place.”

Angel growled low in the back of his throat at her acquiescence, his baser instincts stirred by her open surrender. His hand unconsciously dropped between his legs, then his fingers stroked up the hard length of his erection as he gave his aching groin a soothing squeeze through the thick material of his pants.

“Hey!” Cordelia objected indignantly. “It’s supposed to be my turn.”

The seer’s full lips settled into a dramatic pout, and the vampire didn’t think he’d seen anything sexier in his entire life. Her long hair was tousled and framed her flushed face in a tumbling mass of dark curls, while her hazel eyes were bright and desire-filled as she waited on tenterhooks for him to continue. Setting aside his own building need, he turned his full attention to bringing her to the very pinnacle of sensual pleasure therefore.

He began his erotic explorations by lightly combing his fingers down through the nest of damp curls that guarded the entrance to her body. Cordelia promptly lifted her hips off the table in a blind attempt to increase the pressure of the contact, utterly at the mercy of her body’s potent desires. Spurred on by her responsiveness, Angel used the pads of his thumbs to hold her open, and then pressed his mouth to the moist flesh of her centre in the most intimate of kisses.

The seer’s head dropped back and she closed her eyes, moaning softly as he lazily ran the flat of his tongue over the petal-like folds of her womanhood. Humming in the back of his throat, he lapped up her creamy secretions until her body was singing with pleasure, and yet still craving further gratification.

“Oh God! I need more!” Cordelia cried out mindlessly, her jelly-like arms suddenly giving out under her.

As she fell back against the polished surface of the table, the vampire obliged by lightly circling the tip of his forefinger around her swollen clitoris. “Oh yes!” she moaned helplessly, her hips strongly bucking up into his face in reaction.

Angel’s lips closed around her sensitive bud and began to suckle in earnest, the intense pulling sensation sending shock waves of bliss through the seer’s body. Beside herself with pleasure, she arched like a cat, her thighs tightening around his bowed head to hold him in place. Running her fingers through her hair, she stretched her arms out above her head, and writhed against the desk’s slippery surface as the vampire continued on and on with his relentless torture of her body.

While her chest heaved and her breath escaped in harsh, pleasure-filled pants, Cordelia opened her eyes and dimly took in her surroundings. She was lying flat on her back on the table, where she had spent many a night researching the latest demon attack with the Scooby Gang.

This glimmer of a memory inexplicably became real in her mind’s eye, and the seer suddenly found herself surrounded by the indistinct forms of her High School classmates – all of whom were watching with avid interest as she moaned and twisted under Angel’s skilful ministrations.

The immediate flood of embarrassed discomfiture, which Cordelia felt at being observed voraciously enjoying such an intimate act, only served to heighten her pleasure. Reaching down with both hands, she clutched at her boyfriend’s hair as her arousal rapidly reached fever pitch.

In the imaginary scene playing in her mind, her eyes met Buffy’s and she felt a surge of triumph – the slayer’s hold over Angel was dead and gone, he belonged to her now and this just proved it beyond a shadow of a doubt. The seer allowed this realisation to carry her over that desperately sought finish line, and finally surrendered to her need for release, loudly crying out her pleasure as her body shuddered and quaked in powerful orgasm.

“Oh Angel! My God! Oh yes, Yes, YES!”

When she eventually came back to herself, she opened her eyes to find Angel gazing down at her with a self-satisfied smirk on his face. “Wow! You really got into that,” he commented, winking at her with a delighted twinkle in his eye.

Cordelia blushed furiously, a rush of embarrassment overwhelming her as she remembered the scenario her over-active imagination had conjured up. Sitting up, she covered her burning face with her hands, suddenly uncomfortable with what she’d fantasised about in the heat of the moment.

The vampire immediately sensed the change in her demeanour and reached out to stroke his hand over the top of her bent head. “Hey – what’s wrong?”

“You don’t want to know,” his girlfriend replied, her voice muffled by her fingers.

Angel gently pulled her hands away from her face and tilted her face up to his. “Yes, I do,” he disagreed.

“I…,” Cordelia paused, unsure whether to confide in him or not. Eventually she decided to confess. “I… umm… kind of imagined we were being watched. You know, by the Scoobies.”

“Is that sick?” she asked worriedly.

Angel laughed and gathered her close, dropping a kiss on the top of her head. “No, of course not. Everybody has sexual fantasies – being watched, or caught in the act, is a pretty common one, I’d imagine.”

“Even if it was a bit like ‘take that, Buffy, he’s mine now?’” Cordelia mumbled into his shirt.

“Even then. I’m guessing that was just your mind exorcising some of its inner demons. I mean, it’s not like you’d consider doing something like that in real life, is it?”

“Umm – I’m thinking not!” the seer said, lifting her scarlet face from its contemplation of his chest. “I mean, I’d definitely tell Buffy to back the hell off if she tried it on with you, but not quite in that way.”

“So quit worrying about it then.”

Reassured, Cordelia wound her arms around Angel’s neck and locked her still shaky legs around his waist, pulling him closer. The action brought her groin in direct contact with his, and she could feel the hard bulge of his erection pressing against the crotch of his pants.

“Somebody’s pleased to see me,” she quipped, circling her hips and eliciting a groan of protest from the painfully aroused vampire.

“Carry on like that and you’re going to end up losing your virginity on the dusty floor of the School Library,” he warned, only half-joking.

“Mmm, sounds kinda fun, but admittedly not all that romantic.”

“You want romance?”

“Yeah, I reckon I do. As you said, my virginity is a precious thing; I want to give it with love not lust.”

“Well, romance it is then.”

With that, Angel untangled himself from the seer’s warm embrace and helped her down from her perch on the tabletop. While she smoothed down her skirt and combed her mussed hair into some kind of order, he turned to retrieve her coat from the floor. He helped her on with it, and then reached out to lace his fingers through hers. Raising their joined hands to his lips, he lightly kissed the back of her knuckles before finally leading her from the room with her hand still tightly clasped within his.

Neither spared a second thought to the discarded black panties on the floor under the desk…

***

An hour later, they sat opposite each other at a small café in the centre of town, drinking hot chocolate and talking idly of small unimportant things – in short, just enjoying each other’s company.

Cordelia had expected Angel to take her straight back to the mansion, but much to her surprise and delight, he had driven her into town instead. Despite the unexpected snow, the main shopping street was bustling with people finishing off their Christmas shopping. The stores were open late and there were groups of carol singers to be found on every corner, their harmonising voices adding to the holiday mood that seemed to pervade the whole of Sunnydale.

The two of them wandered about, hand in hand, intermingling with the crowds of shoppers and simply absorbing the electric atmosphere of the place. After a while, they briefly separated in order to buy each other a gift, meeting at the cosy café a short time later. Their main presents were in 2001 LA, ready to exchange when they got back home, so they agreed that this one would just be a token, something small to unwrap on Christmas Day.

“So, you finished?” Angel asked as the seer drained the last drop of liquid from her cup.

Cordelia smiled. “Impatient to get back to the mansion to have your wicked way with me, are we?” she teased.

“On the contrary,” the vampire replied, getting to his feet and tossing a ten-dollar bill on the table. “We have somewhere else to be first.”

“We do – like where?”

“Ahh well, that’s for me to know, and you to find out in – oh – about ten minutes.”

“Oo, a surprise! I love surprises.”

Ten minutes later, Cordelia looked down on the outdoor ice-rink with a beaming smile on her face.

“So – does this raise the romance quota or what?” Angel asked, immensely pleased with himself.

The seer nodded, her eyes sparkling with delight. “I remember this place – it was a bit of a disaster for the most part. They always struggled to keep the ice frozen – guess the sudden winter weather improved business during 1998 though.”

“Lucky for us,” the vampire said, as they descended the steps to the edge of the rink and joined the small queue of people waiting to pay.

Cordelia hooked her arm through Angel’s and snuggled in close. “You better make sure I stay upright,” she whispered conspiratorially. “I’m not wearing any underwear, remember?”

The vampire laughed. “Now is probably not the time to remind me of that,” he told her ruefully. “I’m trying to be the perfect gentlemen here.”

The seer giggled and slipped her arms around his waist, tipping her head back to look up at him. Angel dipped his head and kissed her soundly, his lips moving with purpose over hers as he wrapped his arms about her shoulders. When they drew apart, they grinned goofily at one another, both riding high on the heady wave of their newly established romantic relationship.

“Get a room, why don’t ya?” a middle-aged man grumbled from behind them, when they failed to notice the forward movement of the queue.

Cordelia turned and smiled sweetly at the complainant. “Oh, we plan to,” she said brightly. “Right after this actually.”

The man stared at her in open-mouth shock, not quite believing her audacity. Biting his lip to hold back his mirth, Angel ushered his unrepentant girlfriend forward with a guiding hand in the small of her back.

“Two please,” he said to the attendant, handing over the money.

A few minutes later, they were stepping out onto the ice, hands firmly clasped together.

“You are so bad,” the vampire reproved, shooting an amused sidelong glance her way.

“Well, Mr Grumpy-pants asked for it,” Cordelia said. “I bet he hasn’t gotten laid in years.”

“You’re not cold, are you?”

“Huh?” the seer said, blindsided by the sudden change in subject. “Oh, you mean the no panty thing.”

“That’s the one.”

“And you’re only just worrying about it now?”

“So sue me.”

“Well if I end up with frostbite in unmentionable places, I might just do that, mister.”

“Cordy!”

Cordelia giggled. “I’m fine; this coat’s keeping me all warm and toasty. If the wind gets up though, I could have a problem.”

Angel grinned. “I promise I’ll take you home if that happens,” he offered magnanimously.

“That’s mighty generous of you,” his girlfriend responded, her tone thick with irony.

Merrily chatting and bantering with each other, the seer and vampire skated around the rink together for almost half an hour, before finally moving to the side to take a well-earned breather. Smiling down into Cordelia’s flushed and happy face, Angel tenderly tucked her hair behind her ear and pressed a soft kiss to her forehead.

“Time to go home?” he enquired.

Cordelia smiled, nodding in agreement. “I thought you’d never ask.”

Half an hour later, the Jeep finally pulled up outside the vampire’s Sunnydale mansion, and the two of them climbed out of the car.

“What’s in there?” Cordelia asked when Angel pulled a large shopping bag from the trunk.

“Supplies,” was the vampire’s cryptic answer.

“What kind of supplies?”

In reply, Angel just tapped the side of his nose and Cordelia glared at him in annoyance. “You’re not going to tell me, are you?” she complained.

“Relax, Little Miss Inquisitive – you’ll find out soon enough. Come on, let’s go inside.”

As the heavy door closed behind them with a bang, Cordelia moved forward into the mansion’s living space, her face alive with curiosity as she took in the unfamiliar surroundings.

“You were going for the minimalist feel, right?” she asked in jest.

“Ha, ha – very funny. I never felt the need for that much clutter, I suppose.”

“So give me the grand tour, big guy.”

“Later maybe,” Angel brushed aside her request. “There is one room I would like to show you now though,” he added as an afterthought.

“The bedroom?” Cordelia guessed, her eyebrows raised skyward.

“No, the bathroom actually.”

“Why the bathroom?” the seer asked as she followed the vampire up the stairs to the first floor.

“I figured you might want to pamper yourself with a long, hot soak in the tub,” Angel replied as he pushed open the door and turned on the light.

The huge bathroom was tiled floor to ceiling with black, blue and white tiles, and a large ornate bathtub stood along one wall. The vampire turned the dimmer switch down until the room was bathed in a warm orange glow, and then went to retrieve a set of soft, fluffy towels from the ottoman that stood in one corner. Finally, he fished out various packages from the bag in his hand and carefully placed them on the counter.

Turning back towards Cordelia, he smiled softly at her, his eyes warm and affectionate. “I’m gonna grab a quick shower, and then get things ready downstairs,” he informed her, crooking his finger under chin and planting a gentle kiss on her upturned lips. “You take your time, and join me when you’re ready, okay?

“Just relax and enjoy,” he added, waving his hand towards the mystery items on the counter before leaving her to her own devices.

Ever the enthusiast, the seer wasted no time in unwrapping her gifts. The packages contained a variety of different toiletries – luxurious bubble bath and scented bath oils, among more mundane items such as deodorant, showergel and toothpaste. The last package contained an oblong box from a well-known lingerie shop, which Cordelia opened a little nervously, not fully knowing what to expect.

She needn’t have worried; inside she found a beautiful silk negligee and matching robe in a deep midnight blue, definitely sexy but not overtly so. It was a significant improvement on the hideous red and black bustier that Xander had once bought her, that was for certain.

The teenager’s not-so-subtle attempt at persuading her to sleep with him had gone down like a lead balloon, she remembered with a giggle. Cordelia could see the funny side of the whole encounter now, but she had been hopping mad at the time. She’d ruthlessly made the poor boy grovel for weeks before she’d eventually deigned to forgive him for his transgression.

As her thoughts turned away from Xander to Angel again, the seer set about running her bath, adding a generous amount of bubble bath, and then a judicious mixture of scented oils until she was satisfied with the aroma rising from the steaming water. Quickly shedding her clothes, she threw them untidily into one corner of the bathroom, and then pinned her hair messily atop her head before immersing herself in the water with a contended sigh.

She wasn’t sure how long she laid there, the hot water relaxing her aching muscles and the heavenly scent chasing away all extraneous thought from her mind – half-an-hour to hour maybe. When she eventually emerged from the water though, she felt calm and refreshed – and definitely ready for a bit of bedroom action!

“I’m such a nympho,” she murmured as she patted her body dry with the large, fluffy bath towel.

Turning towards the counter, Cordelia reached out for the negligee, but stopped when she spied the neat row of bath oils lined up next to the sink. Angel had obviously taken her request for romance to heart, so she fully expected tonight’s lovemaking to reflect that particular mood.

Smiling to herself, she carefully unscrewed all the caps, and then up-ended each bottle one at a time, rubbing small amounts of each contrasting scent into various places on her nude body, effectively creating an aromatic dot-to-dot over her naked skin. The seer knew that Angel’s vampirism heightened his senses, and she hoped that her efforts would add an extra dimension to the voyage of slow, sensual discovery that she guessed he had in mind for the two of them.

When her preparations were complete, she slipped the dark blue nightdress over her head and allowed it to settle naturally over her curves. The sensual glide of the silk over her bare skin added fuel to the fire of her anticipatory arousal, and she decided not to bother with the accompanying robe. Having just this one barrier between Angel and her nude self made her feel naughty and wantonly sexy, and she wanted to hold onto that mood. Therefore, when she left the bathroom a few moments later, she did so feeling like the most desirable woman in the world.

As Cordelia walked slowly down the mansion’s main staircase, the sound of soft, romantic music filtered up to her from down below. Consequently, she descended the rest of the steps with her heart in her throat, eagerly anticipating what she would find at the bottom. The scene that greeted her quite literally took her breath away, and she couldn’t prevent the involuntary gasp that escaped as she took in the dramatically transformed living space.

Gone was the stark minimalism – flickering candles lighted the whole room, while a roaring log fire cracked and spit in the hearth, the dancing flames radiating heat back into the private cocoon that the vampire had built with various armchairs and sofas. A thick rug lay on the floor in front of the fireguard, and it was scattered with cushions to create a makeshift bed. Angel sat cross-legged before the fire, his feet bare and his muscular body dressed in a simple pair of black sweatpants and a white vest-top.

Their gaze locked, and Cordelia was sure that the temperature in the room jumped up a few degrees as a result. Neither had spoken since she’d joined him downstairs, and this continued as the vampire wordlessly held out his hand towards her in silent invitation. The seer padded across the room and slipped her fingers into his proffered hand, then sat down directly opposite, unconsciously mimicking his cross-legged pose.

His eyes never leaving hers, Angel lifted his arm and stroked the fingers of his free hand over her cheek, while his thumb traced the bowed shape of her mouth. Cordelia pursed her lips and kissed the digit’s callused pad, and then sighed in pleasure as his fingers dropped to trail back and forth along the plunging neckline of her nightdress. Finally, the vampire’s exploring hand swept a smooth path over the curvy outline of her body; travelling down from her nipped-in waist, over the flare of her hips, and lastly along the side of her leg to her crooked knee.

“You are so beautiful,” he told her, breaking the thick silence between them.

Bending his head, he kissed the inside of her knee through the silk of her negligee, while the tips of his fingers lightly circled her bare ankle in small concentric rings, causing goose-bumps to break out on her flesh.

Oh boy! Cordelia thought, as even this simple touch raised her arousal up another notch. This sure is going to be a night to remember…

Part 4

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