24/7. 3

Part 3

Wesley had been watching Cordelia stare at the stairs on and off for the last two hours. It seemed Angel was in hiding. Angel had avoided her most of the day. When he finally did make an appearance, she looked like she was about to run at any moment. He hadn’t come back down since.

“Cordelia, what time are you leaving?”

She looked at the clock. “I guess in about an hour. I don’t want to get there too early tonight. The sessions don’t begin until morning. If it wasn’t for Mr-UV-allergic we wouldn’t need to leave until tomorrow. Maybe you should go let Angel know it’s almost time to go.”

“What happened last night?”

“Where are Gunn and Fred?”

“They’re chasing down a lead.”

“For this case?”

“No. It’s about the Sanderson case. Now stop avoiding the question please. I thought you were going to talk to him.”

“I did.” She took a deep breath. “I know you mean well but this thing with Angel..it’s too hard. I’ve already had the type of relationship where I was the only one in love and it almost killed me. Literally. I know Angel cares about me. I even know he…desires me. Which IS nice. There was a time he didn’t even notice I have girl parts. The bond Angel and I share is too important to risk, not even for my heart. If things ended badly, we can’t walk away. We have a mission and a family to think about. Wanting and needing are two very powerful emotions. Believe me, I was tempted to give in now that his soul is safe. I know I’ve teased Angel about his love life, but look at my record. I’ve never been lucky in love. I just..I’m not gonna risk our friendship on want or need.”

“How about love?”

“If Angel was in love with me, I would risk anything to be with him but he’s not. Please let this go Wes. It’s gonna be hard enough pretending he’s my husband. I don’t need any extra pressure.”

“Cordelia, I don’t want to push you but I have to say I’m a little confused. What exactly did Angel say when you told him you love him?”

“I..he…it isn’t..”

“You chickened out.”

“I am NOT a coward! Haven’t you been listening? I can’t risk our friendship.”

“Why exactly are you so sure Angel isn’t in love with you?”

“I..he…I’m sure.” Wesley opened his mouth to argue. “Please Wesley! Just tell Angel to get ready to go. OK?”

Wesley sighed. “I will.”

***

Angel was pacing in his room when he heard Wesley knock. “Come in.”

“Angel. I just wanted to check to see if you were almost ready to go. Cordelia’s downstairs. I’ve already had Gunn put her things in your car.”

“I’m ready.”

“I know it’s none of my business but Cordelia seemed…upset. She had been in a better mood after our talk last night. Did something happen?”

“You’re right Wes. It’s none of your business.”

“Perhaps.” Wesley cleared his throat. “Cordelia is very important to me. I don’t like to see her hurting.”

“And I do? What do you want from me?”

“How about the truth. Did you tell Cordelia how you feel about her?”

“I..she..kinda.”

“What’s kinda? Either you did or you didn’t.”

“I tried to. I did! It all happened so fast. It’s kind of a blur. I know I messed up..again. I don’t even know what I did wrong but it’s a fairly safe assumption that it was my fault.”

“While I’m unaware of the particulars, telling her how you feel about her would probably fix things.”

“I did.”

“You told her I love you?”

“Well not in those exact words but it was implied. She always knows what I’m thinking without my having to say anything. She has to know how I feel. I made it pretty obvious last night. She just doesn’t love me like that. She cares about me. I know she’d do anything for me. You know despite what you guys think, I usually have good luck with women.” At Wesley’s skeptical look he clarified. “Okay horrible things do tend to follow my love life. I just..women usually like me. I’ve never had to try very hard. I usually have to fight them off. Who am I kidding? I’m a vampire. The curse might temporarily be taken care of, but what can I offer her?”

“I don’t know. Unconditional love, support, belief in the woman she’s become, a purpose, but that’s just off the top of my head. If you give me a little more time, I could…”

“Wes, she isn’t in love with me so just stop. I have to pretend she’s my wife for an entire week. I’m going to share a bed with her every night. I get to watch the woman I’m madly in love with PRETEND she loves me. I think that fulfills the Angel needs to be tortured quota for the month. I really don’t need you to add to it, okay?”

Wesley blew out a frustrated breath. “Fine. You should leave soon. Cordelia and Fred prepared your blood supply for the week. You’ll have to drink it cold. They might wonder why you’re putting a bottle of V8 in the microwave.”

“It’ll be fine.”

“I’ll be downstairs if you need me.”

“Thanks.”

Wesley headed back to the lobby. *If they don’t come back happily in love, I’m going to lock them in a room together until they are!*

****

They’d been driving in silence for about 20 minutes. Cordelia watched Angel out of the corner of her eyes. *How am I going to get through this week without confessing everything?* “Did you look through the file Wes had?”

“Yes. All the counselors seem to be legitimate.”

“I know. We couldn’t find anything suspicious on any of them.”

“I’m sure we’ll figure it out once we’re there.”

“It looks like solving this case depends on how convincing we are.”

Angel looked over at her. She seemed nervous. “Given all the mistakes I’ve made, I don’t think it’ll be hard to convince them. The cover story Wesley came up with should do the trick.”

“Yeah. As soon as you mention that wh..Darla, I won’t have any trouble getting into character.”

Angel fidgeted in his seat. “Are we okay?”

Cordelia reached over to grab his right hand off the steering wheel. She twined her fingers with his. “Angel, you are my best friend. We’ve both made mistakes but nothing is going to tear us apart. I won’t allow it.” Not even my feelings for you she silently added. “I told you. We’ll get through this.”

“I know but that was before..”

“Yeah. It doesn’t change anything.”

*Dammit woman! It changes everything.* “Good. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

She wanted to lighten the mood. “You’d have a lot more time to brood without me there to stop you. Plus you’d probably get to actually finish reading the paper with no interruptions.”

“I’m serious. I’ve never known anyone like you. I’d do anything for you.” Even ignore my heart breaking he silently added.

“I know. I feel the same way.”

He gave her hand one last squeeze before releasing it. “Have you given any thought about..how…I mean..the physical..”

“Stop. You might strain yourself. I have thought about it. I spoke to David on the phone today..”

“I see. How is your favorite billionaire?”

“Worried about his friends. We talked about what Jason told him. Given what David said and what the other investigators uncovered, we need to bicker a lot. At least in the beginning, but we will also need to show progress. Umm..We’ll have to gradually become more…affectionate.” She cleared her throat. “There’s some things we won’t be able to…fake.”

“What don’t you want to do?”

“Well. I..um..you know we may solve this case before we have to..I could get a vision so..”

“Cor, don’t strain yourself. We won’t do anything your not comfortable with. I’ll just follow your lead.”

“Okay.” She leaned back in her seat and stared out the window. *If only it was about my comfort level. I don’t know if I have enough self control to stop myself. He’ll follow my lead. I don’t want to fake anything. I want him to make love to me every night for the rest of my life. Follow that lead!*

Angel kept his eyes on the road. *Cordelia, don’t you understand? I’ll take anything you’re willing to give.*

***

“This will be your room while you’re with us..” The young man looked at his clipboard. “Mr & Mrs Murphy. Your first session will be group therapy in the Versailles Room. It begins promptly at 9 o’clock. If you need anything, just dial 0 on your phone. If you..the couch pulls out into a bed if you prefer to sleep separately.”

Angel inwardly cursed. *Nobody said anything about a spare bed!* “Thanks.” He tipped the overly helpful man and ushered him out. “Sooo do you want me to sleep on the couch?”

Cordelia decided it was time to get into character. In a way it made it easier to be Cordelia Chase Murphy. If it wasn’t really her, then all could be forgotten. Just like she forgot every tantalizing moment at the ballet. *Stop!* “Why does it always have to be my decision? If you don’t want to sleep with me then don’t. I’m gonna get ready for bed.” She grabbed her comfy pj’s and her makeup bag then went into the bathroom.

*What did I do wrong now?* Angel stood frozen. He felt like he’d been kicked in the gut. *I used to be one of the most feared vampires in all of Europe. Now look at me.*

He was still standing there when she came out. She started at his expression. He looked like he..wanted to cry. *What the hell?* She decided to take pity on her clueless vampire. “Are you gonna stand there like a statue or are you gonna come to bed?”

*I wanna know what the fuck just happened!* “In a minute.”

Cordelia watched him stomp into the bathroom. She turned off all the lights except for the bedside lamp and climbed into bed.

Angel took an unnecessary breath before opening the door. He looked at Cordelia in bed and then at the couch. *Why can’t she just tell me what she wants?*

She decided being in character could wait. Her vampire needed rescuing. She pulled back the covers. “Come to bed.”

Angel gladly accepted her lifeline. He switched off the lamp. When he was settled, she turned and rested her head on his shoulder. He was surprised by her turnaround but wasn’t about to complain. He pulled her tight against his side.

Cordelia nuzzled his neck so she could whisper in his ear. “We’re supposed to bicker, remember? I can’t stay in character if you give me the kicked puppy look every time I snap at you.”

He did his best to stop the smile he felt coming. Angel copied her nuzzle. “Sorry. I guess I wasn’t ready yet. I’ll do better tomorrow.”

His nuzzle turned into kisses. She felt his hands begin to wander. *God that feels sooo good!* She whispered, “We should start now.” Cordelia pulled away. “Angel! I just wanted to snuggle a bit. Does it always have to be sex with you?”

*Dammit! Can’t we start tomorrow?* He took another deep breath. “Sorry. I didn’t realize wanting to have sex with my wife would be so offensive to you. Maybe I should just sleep on the couch bed.”

“Oh that’s mature. You can’t get your piece of ass when you want it so you storm off. Fine! You do whatever you want. I’ll be fine alone. I’m getting used to it. It must kill you that you can’t hide behind your work tonight!” She rolled over and curled up into the fetal position.

Angel stared at her back for a minute. *So far I really hate pretending. I don’t wanna sleep on the couch. I have one week to have you in my bed. I’m not wasting a single night.* “I’m sorry baby. I love to snuggle with you. Please?” He reached around her waist and drew her back against his chest. “Is this better?”

She stifled her urge to giggle. There was just something funny about the world’s champion asking her permission to snuggle. “Yeah. I’m sorry too. Let’s get some sleep.”

He buried his face in her hair. She smelled so good. *Maybe pretending won’t be so bad.*

***

Angel felt his heart swell when he woke up with Cordelia still in his arms. Unfortunately that wasn’t the only thing swollen. He bit back a moan when her hips shifted bringing them in closer contact with his erection. His mind told him to roll away while his heart and body begged him to stay and enjoy every second.

The first thing Cordelia noticed was that something hard was pressed against her ass. Her mind cleared when Angel’s arm tightened around her waist. “Good morning.”

Angel was relieved when she didn’t push him away. He moved the strap of her tank top and kissed her shoulder. “Morning.” His hand stroked down her arm along her side, down to her knee then back up to grip her hip.

Cordelia’s heart was pounding. Her mind was screaming to get out of bed but her heart refused. As if her heart’s refusal wasn’t bad enough, her body decided to join in the betrayal. Her hips pressed back harder.

This time Angel didn’t bother to hold back his moan. She had to know what she was doing to him. He tightened his grip and began kissing her bare shoulder.

Her heart was racing. Her breathing grew heavier. She laid her hand on his and drew it from her hip to rest on her bare stomach. She slid their joined hands under her top.

Ring!

Angel would swear he heard her growl as she released his hand and answered the phone.

“Hello”

“Good morning Mrs Murphy. This is your 7 am wake up call. Breakfast will be served at 8 o’clock in the main dining room.”

“Thank you.” Cordelia hung up the phone and took a deep breath. *What the hell am I doing?* She rolled over to face Angel. “That was our wake up call. We should..get showered and get dressed. Breakfast is served at 8.”

Angel lowered his eyes. “Do you want some company in the shower?” *Don’t be embarrassed. She supposed to be your wife.*

Cordela bit her bottom lip. *Say yes!* “No. Sharing a shower isn’t gonna solve our problems. We don’t want to be late on our first day here.”

He did his best not to show his disappointment. “Okay. Why don’t you go first.” Don’t bother saving any hot water he silently added.

“I won’t be too long.” She gave him a quick kiss before heading to the bathroom.

Once the door closed, he rolled onto his back. *This week is going to kill me!* Angel forced his dead lungs to take in air in hopes of getting his body under control. It wasn’t helping. The air was drenched in her scent..and her arousal.

***

Cordelia came out 25 minutes later wearing nothing but a bathrobe. “Your turn.”

Angel said nothing as he left. He turned the shower on, dropped his boxers and stepped into the frigid water. His body was just starting to calm down when he heard the door open. “Cor?”

“Who else would it be?”

His body was back at attention. “Did..did you need something?”

“No. I’m just getting dressed.”

“In here?”

“Would you prefer I do it out there?”

*Camera. Almost forgot.* “No. It’s fine.” He needed to cover up his blunder. “I was just hoping you changed your mind and decided to join me.” Angel couldn’t stop himself. He stole a peek. Cordelia stood there in a black bra and panties. Their eyes locked. “Umm..new?”

She blushed. “Yeah. I got them when I went shopping with Fred.”

“They’re nice. What else did you buy?”

She gave him a wicked grin as she slipped on her jeans. “It’s a surprise.”

“I like surprises.” He closed the shower curtain. *She’s not mad I peeked and Wesley doesn’t need to die.* He suddenly felt a blast of cold air. He turned to see a pair of hazel eyes staring at him through the now partially open curtain. “Can I help you?” If she hadn’t been fully dressed, he would have considered pulling her in.

*Turnabout is fair play!* Her eyes drifted down to his still hard cock. “Umm..you should..um…hurry.” She felt her womb tighten at the hungry look in his eyes. She turned and hurried out. *Get a grip, Cor – oh great visual! Stop. This is pretend. You can’t let your hormones ruin your friendship. He’s too important to you to allow yourself to be used for sex. Even great sex. Great sex with the man you love. This week is so going to kill me.* When he exited the bathroom, she went back in to finish her hair and makeup. She looked at her reflection but the image of a wet naked Angel was burned into her brain. *I am so gonna kill whatever demon is behind these disappearances!*

Part 4

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