Double or Nothing. 30

Chapter 30: Stalker

“Forget it, Willow! Not one stitch of her clothing is leaving her closet. Not one dress, not one pair of shoes, not even one pair of her silky panties,” Angelus just growled at her for daring to suggest that she take Cordelia’s clothes away.

Having to let herself into the mansion as no one came to answer the doorbell, Willow found Angelus brooding in the dark, sitting behind the desk in the study. Until now, she hadn’t realized that vampires could be depressed, but it certainly looked that way to her. He was taking Cordelia’s departure very hard.

It wasn’t until she turned on the light that Willow saw his face. Letting out a gasp of shock, she realized that she’d never really seen a vampire with bruises before. These were already in that greenish stage of healing and she figured they would disappear by morning, but the fact that they were there in the first place indicated that Angel had not gone lightly on his brother.

The fight between them was obviously physical and Willow wondered whether Angel was just as badly beaten.

Now Angelus prowled across the room looking like he wanted to wring someone’s neck with his bare hands. Willow’s fingers found their way to her throat as she started to protest on Cordelia’s behalf. Yep, she diagnosed his problem. Depressed and angry.

“But—.”

“No.” Angelus snapped at her. “Cordelia can run around in that damn leather corset before I’ll let her have them.”

“Did you say—,” Willow swallowed the words. Leather corset? “Won’t Cordelia just buy more clothes?”

Angelus glared at her for pointing out the error in his plan to deny Cordelia what she wanted, preferably forcing her to come get them herself. “How did she look? Okay? I hate the idea of staying in that place by herself.”

“Oh, Cor looked beautiful. She’s got some of her old clothes, because she wasn’t wearing a leather corset when I saw her,” Willow told him and then realized he didn’t want to hear that either. “And she’s not alone.”

“Who’s with her?” Angelus reacted instantly with further interrogation questions. “Not Harris?”

Jealous much? “No. Her parents are home.”

“I thought they weren’t arriving until Monday.”

“That’s what she thought too. Surprise! Anyway, she says she has to stay with them.” Then Willow shared something she had forgotten to ask Cordelia about. “It doesn’t look like they plan to stay long. They were packing stuff. Paintings were off of the walls like they were taking the expensive stuff with them.”

Angelus’ gaze narrowed as he asked Willow, his tone clearly suspicious or at least curious. “What do you know about Cordelia’s parents?”

“Not much,” she admitted. “The Rosenbergs and Chases don’t exactly mix in the same social circles. Mr. Chase is a bigshot business guy. Lots of foreign travel. I think corporate stuff that takes him out of town a lot. Maybe consulting. Not sure why they still live here in Sunnydale. Seems like L.A. would be better, but Cordelia’s family has been here longer than mine and that’s four generations.”

Thinking about it, Angelus made a decision that had everything to do with the fact that he was going to pursue every angle possible to assure that Cordelia came back to him. “Willow, I need you to do something else.”

“Who do you think I am,” Willow suddenly snapped at him, putting her hands on her hips and glaring, “your minion?”

The vampire pointed out, “You sound like Cordelia. That’s something she would say.”

Blushing, Willow admitted, “She did say it. Accused me of it, actually.”

“Wouldn’t make a very good one,” Angelus complained. “I called you at four this morning and now it’s almost five o’clock in the evening. What took you so long?”

“Umm. I fell asleep, woke up late, went to Cordy and then I-I was afraid to come over and tell you that she wasn’t coming back,” Willow admitted.

Although he scowled, Angelus told her, “Never fear, Will. I wouldn’t take it out on you. Especially when I’m asking for another favor. You are my friend, right? How’re the fish?”

Despite knowing he asked just to make a point, Willow answered him with a smile. “Swimmingly good, thank you very much.”

“So…will you help?”

Grumbling to herself again, Willow answered, “Yes. As long as I’m not sworn to secrecy or anything, because I really have a problem with that.”

“So no blood oaths or threatening to punish you if you tell someone what I’m after? Damn! I was looking forward to that,” he made an effort to joke about it.

Willow’s mind had stopped working at the word punishment. She fixated on the image in her head of Angelus spanking Cordelia and it just wouldn’t go away. “Does this favor have something to do with Angel?”

At the mention of his brother’s name, Angelus snarled, “No.”

“Um. Where is Angel? Sleeping?” Willow wasn’t really certain what time the vampires normally woke up. It seemed kinda late. She wasn’t certain that Angelus had been to bed at all.

“I wouldn’t know. When we couldn’t get into the blasted gates at the Chase house, he wandered off somewhere. Never came home.”

Willow’s eyes widened. “You mean Angel is out there right now?”

“He’s not dusted if that’s what you’re worried about,” Angelus scowled at her. The trespassing bastard. Why worry? “Nothing has happened to Angel because I’d know about it if it did. I’d be a pile of dust too. No, he’s holed up somewhere until nightfall.”

A sigh of relief fell from Willow’s lips until Angelus added with a frown, “Unless he’s stalking around town.”

Glancing at her watch just to confirm the time again, Willow asked, “In the daylight?”

“In the shadows, Willow,” he clarified. “Vampires just have to stay out of the direct light to avoid turning into a scorching ball of flame. Angel is experienced enough to stay safe.”

That wasn’t what Willow was worried about. “Tell me what this favor is all about. I’ll do it only if won’t take too long. I’m— uh, supposed to meet Xander about a thing we have to do.”

“Xander’s thing isn’t my problem.”

***

As Cordelia let herself out the front door of Harmony’s house, she heard her friend turn up the stereo in her bedroom so that it blasted through the upstairs window. Her blond friend never bothered to see her to the door.

Visiting Harmony had been completely relaxing. Once Cordy made it clear that she didn’t want to talk about Angelus, Angel or her parents, the afternoon turned into one of their old mindless chats about movies and the latest male hottie currently on-screen. This debate actually lasted for some time with Cordelia claiming triumph when Harm couldn’t name every movie her favorite had made within the last three years.

While Cordelia had been tempted to talk to Harmony about her issues, she decided that she was happy having chosen not to do so. Telling the blonde that she had a fight last night with Angelus would only prompt more questions about Angel and whether either one of them was now on the market for a new girlfriend. Harm would be the first in line to apply for the role.

Neither did she say anything about the possibly leaving the country with her parents. While the idea had some definite appeal, she wasn’t one hundred percent certain she would do it. She needed time and space away from both vampires, but Cordelia wasn’t certain that it required that much space.

Standing under the porch light, Cordelia opened her purse to search for her car keys. The sun had nearly finished its turn in the sky and she didn’t want to hang out any longer knowing her mate and his brother might be camped out at the front gate of her parents’ home if she gave them enough time to get there.

Before Cordy could find the key, she was forcibly grabbed from behind. A large hand clamped over her mouth just as a powerful arm curled around her waist. She was carried under the cover of the evening shadows around the side of the house and released almost as suddenly as she was taken.

“Angel!” Cordelia voiced her complaint as soon as the hand was removed from her mouth. Smoothing out the wrinkles in her silk blouse, she demanded to know, “What do you think you’re doing?”

“Lurking.” Angel readily supplied the information knowing it would garner a rapid response— likely anger. Any reaction would feed his obsession. It was what he wanted, some show of feeling from Cordelia no matter what emotion came pouring forth and if it wasn’t love, so be it.

The sudden flash of anger that caused her heart to race was already diminishing leaving irritation behind. “Stalking is more like it, buster,” she corrected. “Geez! You scared the bejeezers outta me. I might have expected Angelus to do this—”

Angel’s curt growl cut her off. Talking about his brother was not something the vampire wanted to discuss. Their fight provided an outlet for their aggression and a release of tension, but resolved none of their issues. Angelus continued to refuse any acknowledgement of Angel’s rights to the Order of Aurelius and therefore associated rights to Cordelia.

If anything, the brawl only brought Angel to the point where he no longer cared what his brother thought; he was simply going to claim what was his.

Only one thing ran as a repetitive theme in Angel’s mind the remainder of the night and during his long vigil during the day. One idea that made utter sense to him now that Cordelia Chase stood within arms’ reach. One thought so simple that it sprouted from the depths of his soul as well as the primal thread of his demonic existence. It echoed in his head urging action.

Mine.

The vampire never considered the reasons why stalking and seizing Cordelia seemed so right; he’d just done it. Now she stood so close, her soft perfume and natural scents filling his nostrils as he took in a deep breath of air because it seemed vital to hold her essence inside him.

Noticing that Angel didn’t look very apologetic for the snatch and grab routine, Cordy felt a strange vibe pass between them. Something that made her nervous as Angel stared back at her with such intensity that his gaze alone made her feel crowded. A deep shudder passed down her spine and Cordelia found herself glancing elsewhere just to escape the direct contact of his eyes.

The sky became her target and Cordelia instantly noted that the golden glow along the clouds now faded quickly with the last moments of daylight on the horizon. Dusk fell softly deepening the shadows they were standing in. Then Cordelia realized, “The sun just set. How did you find me so fast?”

“I’ve been lurking for a while,” he smirked at her confused expression. So she really thought she was safe out in the sunshine. Figured he couldn’t track her or touch her when he wanted. Angel decided he’d have to prove her wrong on that last thought, too. Before long, he’d have her begging for his touch.

“You’ve been following me,” Cordelia let the idea sink into her head. “During the day. Out in the sun. Are you trying to turn into a big cloud of dust? That’s insane. Why?”

I needed you. Angel skipped the details on how he had followed her. “I needed to see you. Just to know that you were okay and safe.”

“I was better and safer before you grabbed me.” Sheesh! Obsessive much? Cordelia paused for a moment and then asked him, “How is Angelus? Any less bruised than you are?”

She was tempted to reach up and touch the dark area on his left cheekbone knowing that it had to have been much worse last night. Resisting that urge, she wrapped the fingers of both hands around the handle of her purse and held tight.

Angry that she brought up his brother again, Angel growled out his rage at her clear interest in her mate. “I don’t want to talk about him. I want to talk about us.”

Cordelia licked her lips and sighed. This wasn’t going to be pleasant. “Us?”

She saw the distance between them diminish with the ominous approach of Angel’s muscular body. Layered in black, his darkness seemed to surround her, swallowing her whole. There was something in his stance and his eyes that made her nervous. Glancing furtively over her shoulder, Cordelia saw that they were hidden from the road by thick hedges.

Angel trailed a finger along the curve of her face, tilting her chin and caressing it in the same silky movement. “There are so many things I want tonight. So many things I’m going to do to you.”

“W-What?” Cordelia’s voice cracked. Not just what Angel said to her, but the tone in which he said it. She felt the deep timber of his voice thunder through her settling in her belly and stirring emotions of lust— and fear.

Cordelia didn’t realize that she was moving backwards until Angel reached out with one large hand to grab her wrist. Pulling her to him, he let out a rumble of discontent at her subconscious effort to escape. “You heard me, sweetheart. Your choice of location, but I’m not going to let my feelings overrule my rights like I did last night.”

Realizing that Angel was all too serious, Cordelia reacted instinctively. She let out a loud curse and whacked the vampire over the head with her purse before turning to run. Except that her path carried her in the wrong direction sending her toward the sheltered side of the house. Only seconds passed before she found herself tossed to the ground and he was upon her.

“Right here is good for me,” Angel confirmed as he trapped her with his powerful frame, pinning her wrists to the ground on either side of her head.

Gazing down at her with eyes that sparked of mischief and desire, Angel didn’t seem like himself at all. This went beyond love, obsession and sibling rivalry. Cordelia was experiencing a frightening case of déjà vu. It was just like the cemetery. That time during Angelus’ first appearance in Sunnydale after Angel had lost his soul to perfect bliss with Buffy.

The soulless vampire had knocked her to the ground and provided a detailed description of what he had planned for her. That night her life flashed before her eyes and she was certain Angelus was going to kill her.

Avoiding his gaze, Cordelia automatically turned her head to the side only to realize seconds later that it gave the vampire a perfect view of her throat. She whipped her head back to the center and stared Angel in the eyes as fear curled deep in her belly. From his response, just the barest curve of his lips, Cordelia knew that Angel read her response in her eyes.

“Let me up, Angel,” Cordelia demanded in spite of that fear. “You’re acting like a whacko. You’ve got no right to do this.”

The memory combined with his closeness and behavior rattled her to the extent that her heart pounded madly. Angel’s firm mouth twisted into that knowing smirk before smoothly rising to his feet and taking her with him. Except he wasn’t releasing her, only maneuvering her toward the brick wall of the house and Cordelia felt a scream gathering in her throat despite the fact that she wanted to talk him out of this crazy behavior.

“I have every right,” he countered confidently.

“Angel—,” she began onto to have his thumb press down on her lower lip testing its ripe curve and revealing the tender pink flesh inside opening her to his view while effectively stopping her from speaking. All Cordelia could manage was a shaky sigh as she watched Angel close the distance, his mouth slanting over hers.

Mine, he thought with such a rush of possessiveness and desire that there was no way any words of Cordelia’s would forestall this another day. There was nothing here to come between him and what he wanted.

I found her. Tracked her. Cordy is mine, no matter that Angelus denies it. Since he refuses to play nice, I’ve made the decision for him. Cordelia belongs to me.

So many responses from the warm woman in his arms kept tickling his need even higher. Sweeping his tongue into her mouth, Angel tasted coffee with vanilla and cinnamon. Underneath, he found pure Cordelia intoxicating. Angel listened to her heart thudding, her moans of protest overlapping with those pleasurable moues as she fought against her own reaction to his soft, wet kisses. He delivered them so tenderly, so invitingly that Cordelia barely remembered that he was forcing her response.

Breaking the kiss, with her mouth still hovering close, Cordelia quivered at the loss. Realizing what his expert technique was doing to her, Cordelia protested. Snapping at him while trying to wrest herself from his grasp, “Stop that. I thought your brawl with Angelus last night would have settled things.”

Angel let her talk. He was busy shifting his hands over her arms, pulling her purse out of her clutched grasp and tossing it to the ground. Returning his hands to her, Angel pressed one flat palm against her spine holding her in place while the other traveled the course of her body from collar bone to hip and back up to settle just under the curve of her breast. He leaned in again, this time with his face against hers scenting her skin and hair and the heady perfume of her arousal.

His chest rumbled against hers and Cordelia felt her nipples react to the pressure of that wall of muscle vibrating with the sound of the vampire’s purr. Something told her she should be screaming in protest no matter the noise of Harmony’s stereo blasting from her open window above, but she couldn’t seem to fight her way past the distraction of his touch.

“Sweetheart, I don’t know what’s making me harder,” Angel murmured gruffly into her ear, “the fact that you’re already wet for me or that you’re afraid of what’s going to happen.”

That does it! Cordelia’s eyes narrowed accompanied by a flash of anger that caused her to lash out at him. Since pummeling his chest had no effect whatsoever, in her mindless rage she grabbed his head and bit him on the jaw leaving behind an angry red pattern.

Instead of reacting in anger, the hard bite only seemed to turn him on even more. He wound one hand into her loose hair, pulling back just enough to watch her fume. “You want to play rough? I can do that too.”

“Get your hands off me you fucking bastard. This isn’t a game,” she declared. “You know I love Angelus.”

“Changes nothing.” Angel appeared to care less about any feelings of hers. He was far too focused on his own emotions, primarily his raging lust and obsession with her. “I love you. I want you. I own you. That’s all you need to know.”

Still struggling, helpless against his superior strength, Cordelia screamed at his face, “Well, I don’t want you. I’m nobody’s property, especially yours.”

He nibbled at her earlobe. Catching the fact that she’d skipped over it, Angel asked amusedly, “You love me though? Just a little?”

“You’re acting crazy. I do love you, but not like this. You’re my friend. Please don’t do this,” she pleaded. He was alternately rough and tender, driving her senses into a state of confusion so that her body didn’t know how to react.

“I’m so much more than your friend, Cordelia,” he kissed his way back down to her mouth ravishing it.

Cordelia’s hands had been clutched closed at her sides until she’d raised them to pound at his chest. Now, subconsciously, they unfurled to rub over the places she had hit. Then her nails curled into the loose material of his shirt, holding onto him. Despite her own denial, Angel had her whole body humming in response to the extent that it didn’t want to let him go.

She was breathless again by the time he lifted his head, her lips kiss-swollen and cheeks flushed. Angel chuckled at her wanton appearance. “I’d say you do want me.”

The tone in his voice dared her to deny it. Cordelia snapped at the chance as soon as she caught her breath.

“You can make me want you. Kudos for the technique. You’d wring a response from a turnip. Take my kisses if you insist on acting like a raving lunatic, just don’t expect me to give you any.”

Angel let her words wash over him as he nuzzled her throat, pressing his mouth along the cord of her neck and following the stream of pulsing blood that called out to his senses. Cordelia subconsciously turned into his questing lips with a soft huff of air. Damn, that feels good. Realizing angrily that she was doing it again, she slapped at Angel’s head, pulling at his ear. “Stop that! What are you doing?”

“Thinking about tasting you,” Angel replied with brutal honesty.

She watched the amber hue shifting into his eyes, a sure sign that the vampire was doing more than simply thinking about the idea. Though there was still a part of her that burned with curiosity, Cordelia was determined not to let it show. In her mind, only one vampire had the right to taste her blood and that was Angelus.

Cordelia didn’t understand why Angel was so bent on acting on his feelings for her. All she knew was that he seemed to be bordering on losing control, on taking her no matter her opinion on the subject. The fact that he might actually do it wasn’t half as frightening as knowing that he could make her want him.

He’d proved it yesterday and the knowledge had kept her up most of the night. Though she loved Angelus more than she ever would have imagined, there seemed to be something deep inside her that remained attracted to Angel.

The thought itself seemed like a betrayal, but Cordelia cursed herself and him for having acted on it. “I want to go home, Angel.”

“Back to the mansion?” Angel queried in surprise. He’d agree to that. Better to have Cordelia back under his roof than living with the virtual strangers who professed to be her family.

“No. My parent’s house,” Cordelia corrected.

“Forget it.” Instantly squashing that idea, Angel suggested, “Now, what say we pick things up where we left them last night?”

Hadn’t they left off at biting? Cordelia heart felt like it was somewhere lodged in her throat. She wanted one thing made perfectly clear to the vampire. “No biting me, dammit.”

Angel merely smirked at Cordelia’s adamant stipulation amused by her vehemence in light of the fact that every time his mouth neared her throat she tilted toward him. It was a subconscious move on her part, but a telling one. Her furious statement made him wonder what other responses he might get as he asked, “Shall I tell you all the nasty, wicked, wonderful things I’m going to do to you tonight?”

“No,” Cordelia was fighting him again until he latched on to both wrists and pushed her bodily against the house.

“Oh, I think so.” Angel moved his hands back down her body, releasing her wrists. Instantly, she pushed back at his shoulders again, but they were as immovable as the brick wall at her back. Undaunted, Cordelia brought up her knee. Lightning fast, he moved to avoid the blow and then trapped her legs with his body. With a harsh warning, Angel pinned her against the wall. “Try that again and I’ll show you what a real spanking is like.”

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