Cordelia Chase was curled up into the huge bed, the girl snoring beside her. From where she was laying on her back staring up at the ceiling, she could see the kaleidoscope of colors from her little nightlight dance there.
The innocent memories of her own room and the childhood she’d spent in her own silk sheets of raven in her wrought iron bed. It was the pinks and fluffs of Harmony’s room that wouldn’t let her sleep, Cordelia concluded.
It wasn’t just Harmony’s snores.
Then she heard a grunt. Blinking at the still lump in her bed she frowned. That didn’t sound much like her bedmate.
Her spine straightened as she automatically sat up in the bed at the familiar voice.
She nearly went tripping out of bed as she hurried to the sliding window of the balcony beyond. Her hair went tumbling out of the loose bun she’d tied at her nape as she gaped over the white railing and down at the trellis lining the balcony.
For a minute she couldn’t believe what she was seeing. A dark hulking man was slowly making his way up the white trellis trying to avoid the thorns of the rose bushes that grew around it.
When the spiky head tipped back, Cordelia stared down into the dark eyes incredulously. “Angelus!” She hissed softly. “What are you doing!”
“What does it fucking look like Chase?”
“Shhh!” She held a finger over her mouth and glared daggers at him. “Go away! I have nothing to say to you.”
“I have a few words to say to you woman.”
The pitch of his voice didn’t go down a bit and Cordelia darted one glance behind her to make sure Harmony was sleeping.
“Angelus you are,” turning mid sentence she froze, his nose nearly brushing hers, “fast.” She finished breathlessly.
Holding the railing with both hands, Angelus resisted the urge to kiss the living daylights out of her until she succumbed and promised not to go to LA. “Forget me. What the hell are you doing here?”
Eyes widening at the irate growl she grabbed him, one hand curling around his mouth. “Stop!” Her eyes turned pleading for an instant. “If you wake her, she’ll be so more than either of us can handle right now Fang.”
For more than a breath, Cordelia stood there, her gaze locked with his, the railing digging into her stomach and her hand warming on his mouth. When his eyes swept low deliberately, Cordelia’s own followed their path to stare at the very low neck of her silk nightgown. Cursing Harmony for talking her into wearing it, she fixed the full beam of her glare on Angelus mentally willing him to raise his gaze.
She could almost feel the smile behind her hand as an eyebrow quirked before his dancing chocolate eyes lifted up to her face. And then he licked her hand.
A startled yelp preceded her involuntary reaction of shoving him away.
And it was then when she remembered he was about twenty feet up in the air as he lost his balance.
“CHASE!” He hissed.
Before Angelus could reach out to grab anything, he felt a soft pair of arms wrap around his chest tightly and he was yanked back against the railing, the strumming heartbeat of his seer escalating into a mad crescendo as she let out shuttered breath against his neck.
With his hand free to slide through her hair, Angelus let her hold him tightly, his feet instinctively relocating footholds as he returned her embrace.
“Oh my god you almost…”
“Nice catch.” His gratitude was a soft murmur into her hair and it was the misplaced tenderness from the usually crude vampire that shook her out of her frightened haze.
Lifting her head from under his chin, where she realized it fit perfectly, Cordelia looked up at him with a mixture of beseeching and relief. “Why are you here?”
“You want me to answer that while I’m in the position to break my neck in case you don’t like the answer?” He leered. “Doesn’t the Florence Nightingale in you want me out of danger and my feet on solid ground first?”
She winced at his correct deduction. Every instinct in her had been screaming to first catch him and pull him to safety, and that intrinsic need alone had Cordelia shaking with fear. “I have half a mind to drop you where you are.”
“And the other half is rearing to tangle tongues?”
With a groan at his arrogance and his choice was words, she stepped away far enough for him to climb over the railing and land on his feet neatly.
“Okay.” She held up a hand between them to keep him away. “Just stop for a second.” She’d been caught off guard by his arrival and had reacted out of her need to be near him.
When she’d called Giles about the vision so he could relay the information to Angelus, it had taken every ounce of her strength and will to keep from running out and helping him when he got back from kicking demon butt.
And now that she was calmer and she was assured that he was in one piece Cordelia let her anger cloud her raw emotions gladly. “There is nothing you can say that would change my mind. I’m not coming back to Giles’ house and I’m not spending Christmas with the scoobies and I’m certainly not – what are you doing!!?”
“Hold still Chase,” he growled when she tried to push him off. “I’m just going to kiss you dammit.”
“What if I don’t want you to kiss me dumbass?”
“Then say: Get your hands off me Angelus.”
That was as far as she got before he cut her off as his lips hungrily, not nearly as patient as his voice had been, descended on hers. The arms that held her tightened possessively, lips that stole her breath, had her parting her own lips to ask for more.
And her mouth was invaded by his quick and clever tongue.
It was like being swallowed, Cordelia thought hazily. Like being eaten alive with a greed that incited greed. Her heart beating like a wild animal against the cage of her ribs. Racing, wild. Dangerously fast.
And she wondered if they continued to ride this current, at this speed, how soon one or both would fly headlong off a very high cliff and come out with broken arms. Or worse. Broken hearts.
When her foot came down hard on his toe, Angelus let out a muted yelp and jumped away from her with a glare. “Christ Chase what the hell is wrong with you?”
“Air…” she gasped, grasping the edge of the railing as she tried to catch her breath.
“Oh yeah.” Slightly chastised Angelus chuckled, “Sorry, forgot you were human for a minute.”
“Again.” She grunted. “You were gulping me down like two quarts of prime whiskey.”
“You’ve got the tendency to be as potent,” he purred.
“I do?” She blinked at him in surprise.
The stunned female response got his borrowed blood pumping again and he grinned. “Do you really want me to come over there and reassure you? Better yet; let me.”
He reached for her again and she slapped his hands away with mild irritation. “Come on baby, you make it seem like you don’t want my hands on you.”
“I don’t,” she snapped angrily. Angrier with the lie she knew he could see right through. “I just need for you to open your ears and stop playing deaf for a change. Go away!” She hissed, hoping their loud whispers hadn’t woken Harmony to witness this scene.
“Dance with me.”
Cordelia’s eyes widened as his arm wrapped around her waist and she was yanked against him in the pretense of a waltz. “Are you insane!?” She hissed, struggling in his hold, but his arm stayed around her, his hand holding hers as tight as possible without breaking bones.
“Damn, I love your eyes Cheerleader.”
Exasperated at the capricious vampire, Cordelia let out a frustrated sigh, still struggling slightly. “Angelus, stop it, okay? It won’t work. I’m not changing my mind. No mind changing happening here. See?”
“They remind me of him.”
Cordelia stilled in his arms, her curiosity piqued. “Angel?”
Angelus tried his best to keep the triumphant smile at bay. “Yeah baby, they go all glossy like when he broods. And when you’re happy, they glisten like golden emeralds.”
“There’s no such thing. Is there?” she asked, not really noticing that he was slowly moving her in the slow motions of a waltz. The vampire grinned, inwardly charmed by her insatiable curiosity.
It was one of the things that drew him to her. It was her curiosity that had made her venture into the alley. Curiosity and generosity. Something most people didn’t accuse Cordelia Chase of.
“I saw one a long time ago,” he answered with a rakish grin.
“Pfft! As if!” Her hands involuntarily slipped up his arms as her feet fell in rhythm with his.
“You show such little faith in your champion Hazel.” He grinned. “A Baroness. Happier days while we were in France. Darla was hungry for jewels and I was just plain hungry.”
“You mean horny,” she glared at the reference of his sire. Her eyes narrowed. “Are you drunk?”
“Not yet.” Silently swaying to a silent beat, he continued to hold her against him. “But then I was always hungry,” Angelus delighted in the jealous twinkle in her eyes, purposefully ignoring her statement.
“I remember a similar occasion of climbing into a balcony. It took a while but I finally coaxed the damned woman out of her bed.”
“Seduced you mean.” She asked as she suddenly realized where they were still twirling to nonexistent music, his body pressing intimately against hers. “Angelus? What are you doing?”
“I don’t want–”
“Aren’t you the least bit curious where it went?” He winked and tightened his arms around her as she tried to wriggle away.
“No! I don’t care for rocks anymore, get your hands off my –”
“I fed it to her.”
“You what?!?” she squawked; breath caught in indignation, disgust and the fear of discovery. She completely forgot her objection and stared up at him with gruesome wonder.
“Stuck it right down her throat. Safe to say Darla didn’t want it afterwards.”
“She had a similar reaction,” the vampire laughed softly, a deep rumbling in his chest that seemed to calm her nerves, “after she threw me out of the window. Either way, the emerald was buried with the dead woman.”
“You killed her.” Cordelia shook her head. “I’m SO flattered that my eyes remind you of that gory story. Much thanks,” she said dryly.
“Only when you’re glaring,” he reminded her. “The rest of the time, they’re absolutely breathtaking.”
At the tender compliment, she held his gaze. “But you don’t breathe.”
“I do. When you’re around.” He pulled her hand over his chest, the steady rise and fall mirroring her own. “Don’t you get it Chase. You’re my damned Soul, only I can’t get you out of my head.”
When her pupils filled with unshed tears, Angelus pulled her tightly against him, his feet stilling on the balcony floor. “Don’t. I hate it when you women cry. Drives me absolutely crazy Chase.”
“You don’t know what you’re saying.”
“Yeah sweetheart, I do. I’m not much for tragic love stories like the soul. Our story’s going to be a fucking satire. The world doesn’t define what we are.” He ran the pads of his finger down one bronzed cheek.
She seems to radiate the sun even though it is in the middle of the friggin night. “And there’s no way in hell I’m letting you pick up your sexy little butt and take it to LA. So I’m giving you a choice.”
“You spend whatever time you have left, dying. Or you spend it living…. With me.”