39.23.59.b

Part 3

Day 39…

The first thing she felt was softness and the next was a warmth only a luxurious bed could give. Shortly after that was a deep, throbbing pain beginning above her left eye, and she swore she heard her finger bones creak as she tried to move. An undisclosed amount of time passed before she attempted to open both eyes and she was so damn sorry she did.

What she saw was a brilliant white light that shot right through her brain, down her arms and into her stomach, making it churn sickeningly. God. She’d only ever felt like this once before and that had been the day she discovered the joys of her mother’s cherry brandy. Thankfully this time she hadn’t gone to sleep on a packet of half eaten chips.

One he’d said. One drink to honour her host. One and no more. One was what she’d agreed to, not…

How many had she drank?

Blurry eyes and a foggy brain vaguely recalled seeing six or seven glasses. Six or seven glasses definitely were not needed to honour her host. Six or seven glasses were only needed at boring occasions, like during a wedding toast or when your great aunt Betty started talking about the days when children were seen and not heard.

Her skin stretched far too tight for the yawn, bringing tears to her eyes, and she carefully eased onto her back. Slowly, the world around her came into some sort focus. The sheet under her was crisp cotton and that was nothing new, but it was the sheet covering her legs. It was silk, yet not the kind of silk she was used too. This silk was smooth and rough with pattern, and she could see out the corner of her painful little eye it was a gorgeous shade of burgundy.

It was safe to say she owned nothing like it. Was just a shame that thought didn’t stick long enough for her to question it.

Cordelia ran her hands up and down, ecstatic to feel the clothes on her body. One thing to be grateful for, she supposed. Her head came up off the softer than soft pillow and the rest of her soon followed.

A quite sound coming from her right startled her into moving her head far too quickly. “Oh God.” It was funny how someone with a hangover always held their head as though it would help. Steam came from a bone China cup and with it came the delicious scent of damn good coffee.

“You are alive. I was starting to wonder.”

Huh? “Spike?” She managed to tear her longing gaze from the magical potion on a nice nightstand. “What are you doing in my room?”

He chuckled. “You’re in the mansion.”

Oh. “What’s the mansion doing in my room?”

Again he chuckled and placed two tiny white pills beside the cup, then he grinned a grin that chilled her to the very core. Talk about a sight for sore eyes. “You went down a bloody storm last night,” he said. Even he’d been impressed with her little show.

She tried to blink away the remnants of her alcohol induced coma. “My life is complete.”

Spike rolled his blue eyes at her croaky, sarcastic tone. “Be a good girl and get those down. You’ve got company waiting.”

Cordelia’s face scrunched up as her location finally sank in, as did whose bed it was she’d slept in. She was in the mansion. In Angel’s bed. With a hangover and bed hair. Worse still, memory flashes were starting to creep on in there. There was the memory of that one drink leading to another and another, then she remembered laughing so hard, she cried. And, God, had she really dried her eyes on Angelus’ shirt?

She did the only thing she could and haphazardly ran a hand over her face. A little click was heard, then a light grey cloud floated past her eyes. A glare shot his way told him more than words ever would. “That’s disgusting.”

“Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.” He inhaled and exhaled through a widening smile. “You didn’t half put that place in a buzz. Life and soul of the bloody party, you were. Even managed to get Karl to crack a smile or two. Quite a feat, that. A miserable old git if ever there was one.”

She was confused. “Karl?”

His cigarette paused an inch from his mouth. “The barkeep whose wine you insulted. You were lucky Angelus was with you. Who knows what might have happened if you’d been by your lonesome. No more booze for you.”

Yeah. She’d be at home right now, in her own bed, drinking her own coffee from her own standard ceramic cup. She’d also be getting ready to get out of bed and go meet the girls for a fun day of mind numbing, wardrobe increasing shopping. It sounded like heaven at this moment in time.

Spike watched the many emotions and thoughts cross her face. It was irresistible. “Could be worse. This bet of mine might not exist. You oughta think on that.” It got the reaction he wanted.

Those pretty eyes turned saucer size as she stared at him. “Excuse me?”

“The bet, love. It’s what kept your dignity intact, and dare I say your virtue. Shame that. You’d make a sweet addition to our family gatherings.”

She really wasn’t hearing this. Before She could reply to his statement, he blew out yet another cloud of smoke. “Sorry to love and leave, outstayed the welcome and all that. You’ll be right as rain after that pill.” Spike went to turn around, but paused. “Word of advice, pet. Know how you call him Angel?”

“Yeah. So?”

“Keep it up. He seems to like it coming from your mouth.” The look he gave said everything. “Not surprising, really. Not with them cock suckers. Hurry on up. Best not to keep Slap Happy waiting.”

Cordelia watched him leave the room, relief coursed through her veins when he didn’t slam the door too loudly. A moment or two passed and the silence went a lot in calming her overworked brain. Unfortunately, it didn’t help the throbbing, but no matter how much her head ached, there was no way was she gonna touch those tablets. Hell only knew what it was.

She stared at the spot where Spike had stood until she felt brave enough to look around the room. Obviously the sunlight was kept out by thick heavy drapes and so the room was actually quite dark. Angelus probably didn’t need light, what with being a vampire and all. Aside from that, it was a normal bedroom with a closet and drawers, a lamp, and one or two things here and there. No chains, torture instruments, or anything to suggest it was the private space of a homicidal maniac.

A sane person would be relieved, but she had to admit to being a tad disappointed. After the portrayal from Buffy, she expected Angelus to live in a medieval dungeon or something, and to find out different? Well, it was like finding out pots of gold didn’t sit at the end of a rainbow.

The one thing in the room which gave away a bit of the owner’s personality was the bed. It was a large four poster, the sheets matched the drapes, and it was oh so comfortable. It was a nice scheme she decided, very Edwardian, which wasn’t surprising given his age. Offhandedly, she wondered what he thought of chrome.

****

Her shoes were in one hand while the other held the wall for balance. She couldn’t hear any noise coming from the bottom of the stairs and so it seemed safe enough to go all the way down. Each step was taken with care and made as quietly as possible. It wasn’t in her best interests to disturb the man of the house, would it?

Sure tiptoes on concrete hurt, but she doubted there was any such thing as being too careful when in House of Vampires. Oh, blessed be the door to safety. Only twenty feet or so and she be good to go.

“Good morning, Cordelia.”

The deep, husky voice was directly behind her and it knocked her off balance. Hazel eyes went wide as she felt her foot slipped, shoes were dropped in favour of preventing serious injury. Hands grappled with the wall, nails scraped painfully down it, and it was only when she didn’t move an inch did she realise there was a strong arm tight around her waist.

“Careful now. These are steep steps. Can’t have you falling.”

Blinking, she glanced over her shoulder until she met a set of amused brown eyes. Her breathing had grown so heavy, so rapid with shock, she’d gone light headed. Or maybe it was just the fact he’d just saved her from an agonising stay in Sunnydale General.

He smiled calmly. “Say thank you.”

“Thank you?”

His chuckle vibrated right through her body. “Say that again without the stunned surprise.”

Cordelia shook sense into her brain, or tried to rather. “Thank you.” Knight in Italian leather he was not.

That chuckle turned into a laugh. “Shall we?” He nudged her forward, his arm never moving until they reached the bottom, and then he stood between her and the precious door. His arms were across his chest, his face held a sugar smile, and his hair was messy. It appeared as though he’d just gotten up.

“Sorry if I woke you,” she said, fully intent on persuading him too go back to bed so she could leave with all her blood. She flashed a quick smile and walked around him, pointing her bare feet towards the door, but a hand on her arm stopped her short.

This was it. This was where she died and it’d all be Spike’s fault. She hoped he was happy.

“Don’t look so scared,” Angelus removed his hand. “I was simply showing you out.”

“That’s alright. I can see myself…”

“You’re my guest. It wouldn’t be polite to do otherwise.”

She couldn’t help snapping, “Aren’t you Mr. Courtesy.”

Angelus grinned. “Wrong side of the wrong bed can be hell on the manners of a man.”

Whatever. Cordelia rolled her eyes as she stepped past him, shrugging his arm off in the process, and made once more for the door. She was almost there when his voice echoed around the room.

“You might wanna try going the other way.”

“What?”

“That door leads to the basement. The way out is behind you.”

She didn’t have time to feel like a fool before he was yet again holding onto her arm and guiding her in the right direction. “You haven’t been here before, so it’s understandable. Pity. You’re good company.”

Was that a compliment or an insult? Not only had he saved her from a broken neck, but now he was helping her out. Literally. Cordelia purposely didn’t think about any of it until the door handle was in her hand and turning.

“There’s a car waiting for you at the end of the drive. Don’t be a stranger, Cordelia. You’re welcome here.” He paused. “More than welcome.”

“I’ll keep that in mind. Thanks for the car, and for not killing me. Let’s not do this again.”

Angelus barely had the time to dodge the yellow streaks as the door was opened and shut quicker than he could blink. He shook his head with an unneeded. It’d been a pleasant surprise to find her in his club last night, and more pleasant had been the consequences.

He was fairly sure she didn’t remember much more than going in and meeting him, but he did. He remembered half his club eating out of her hand while the other half wanted to eat that hand. They hadn’t, of course. Wouldn’t do to anger the owner by harming his personal guest. He also remembered her laughing hysterically at the mentioning of cookies and cream, then proceeded to dry her eyes on his shirt. Then there was the heart crossing, hoping to die promise she would go back soon.

The golden silence was shattered by the knowledge he wasn’t alone. “What do you want, wimple?”

“Tasty bit, that one.”

Angelus turned to face the blonde. “I was a good boy. Kept to the rules.” So good in fact he hadn’t even tickled a toe.

Spike licked his fangs in a manner that stated he didn’t believe a single word his grandsire said. “And what are the rules?”

“No sex for forty days.”

“And the rest.”

A dark eyebrow rose in question. “Rest of what?”

“Rest of the rules. Duh. No sex or anything sexual. No wanking, kissing, touching, sly little gropes in a darkened corner.”

“They weren’t part of the original agreement.”

“Change the rules, but not the goal. Keep em guessing. I learned that from you. Still think you can’t do it. Not with that piece of fluff hanging off your arm.”

Angelus remained unimpressed. “So you pay attention to the joys of life. Whaddya want? A gold star?” He didn’t wait for a reply, merely walked past Spike as though he was nothing. “And she wasn’t hanging off my arm.” Clinging on to save falling in those killer heels maybe, but not hanging off it.

A chortle sounded out. “Come off it, mate. The whole place was yapping about your bit. Most fun they’ve had all year, it was. Watching you play the gent. Amusing to say the least.”

“Amusing maybe, but I still kept to the rules. Didn’t even undress her.” Sure, he’d had a jolly good look at the sleeping beauty, but he hadn’t touched. That was a feat in itself.

He looked so smug, so pleased with his bit self it sickened Spike. “You wanted to.”

“No, I actually didn’t.”

The younger vampire stared at his grandsire like he’d gone insane. “Are you telling me your little winky didn’t get his hat on at all?”

Honestly? Yes, but where Spike was concerned? “Nope.” That one word was a prelude to Angelus leaving the blonde standing there staring after him with a mildly worried look on his face.

****

Cordelia had been having such a good day. First, she’d managed to successfully hide her hangover from her parents, then the shoes she ordered from Milan had arrived, and top it off, her father announced plans to build a Jacuzzi in the pool house. She just hoped he wasn’t going to do the actual building. Her mother would have a fit considering he’d been building a bookcase for the last two years.

The good day gone bad happened when she began to think about last night and how Angelus came across as a good humoured, well mannered, all American guy. He bought her drinks without expectations, made room for her at his table, had escorted her to the bathroom, and arranged a car for her. No matter what she did or which hot male model she forced into her brain, she couldn’t shake Angelus out.

Her day got worse approximately two or three hours after sunset and a knocking was heard coming from her balcony window. She knew who it was, so she made no effort to answer. She lay on her bed, MP3 player plugged in, and Bowie on loud enough to make her ears bleed.

“Not gonna get it. Not gonna get it.” She chanted, then forced her lips into a defiant smile invented by four year old brats.

The knocking became louder and louder, wordlessly stating if she continued to ignore it, the windows would be shattered.

“Alright! Alright!” MP3 player pulled out, feet shoved off the bed and stomped her way to the balcony, where a harsh yank had the curtain wide open and she greeted the little pissant with an annoyed glare. “What?”

Spike gestured for her to open the door, which she was so not doing. “Forget it, Blondie. I did what you wanted, it didn’t work. I’m home free.”

He didn’t agree. Instead of arguing through the barricade, he leaned against the window and lips pulled out a cigarette, his thumb continued to play with the silver petrol lighter long after he’d lit up.

Cordelia’s eyes followed the lid as it went back and forth, open and closed. She swallowed, brain seeing her home going up in flames and living in the dank squalors of Sunnydale motel until a new home could be found. She did what he had no need to ask and opened the door.

“We got a problem.”

“You mean you have a problem. There is no we in this.”

“That’s where you’re wrong, love. If you can’t get a vampire hard, then you got something to worry about.”

She blinked and wondered if she’d heard correctly. “I beg your pardon?” Why in the hell would she want to get a vampire hard? More to the point, why would she want to get Angelus hard? She didn’t want to be around him and she certainly didn’t want him.

Spike exhaled. “You heard me. If he don’t want to get your kit off, then it’s as much your problem as mine. First things first, we need to work on that attitude of yours.”

What the hell was wrong with her attitude? Cordelia raised an eyebrow, she’d had enough.. “So says the homicidal maniac darkening my door. Look, if you aren’t happy with me, then find somebody else. Burn down my house, kill my family and me if you want. I refuse to be your dog’s body.”

“Tell you what,” he stated in a calm manner. “How’s about I go to Angelus, tell him you were there last night doing recon for the slayer? Won’t be me to worry about. It’ll be him. You think you’ve seen him at his best?” He shook his head. “He won’t kill you, pet. He’ll destroy you piece by piece, take everything off you, make you beg for the mercy he don’t have. He’ll leave you alive just so he can watch you suffer.”

She knew what Angelus would do, had saw him do it to Buffy, and she’d been on the first wave of the clean up crew after what he’d done to Miss. Calendar. “I’m not whore Spike. Not yours and certainly not his. You want to win your bet? Do it yourself.”

“Didn’t say you were a whore, love. The likes of you couldn’t be a whore if you tried.”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” She could be a whore if she wanted, and a damn good one at that. Cordelia stopped those thoughts from escalating.

“Takes a Porsche and a platinum credit card to get into your good graces let alone your knickers. Too good for mere men.” His head went to one side, face expressing a million different musings. A vampire is what she needed, and one with balls enough to keep her in place. Something to think on, that was.

“Whatever,” she muttered and decided not waste any more time listening to his senseless babbling. She went to close the door, but the lighter clicking yet again sounded out. She growled.

“Easy tiger,” Spike smirked. “Now, here’s the plan. We’re gonna get them highlights out…”

Not her hair again. “No, we’re really not. I like them. They break up the monotone.”

“I put them in, I can take em out.”

Yeah well, he’d have to catch her first. “That you did and my saying no almost got my throat ripped out. If and when I decide to get rid of them, it’ll be done by a professional hairdresser.”

“You saying I didn’t do a good job? I’ll have you know my Dru never complains.”

That should tell him something. Cordelia didn’t say that of course, Spike had been in Sunnydale long enough for even her to know how protective he was over the brunette. “Great. Go play with her.”

And hand his woman to his grandsire on a platter? No thanks. “You’ve got your thoughts on my Dru, I’m sure. What are they?” The genuine curiosity in his voice was extremely disconcerting.

“Scarily crazy,” she said without a moment’s hesitation.

“You know her maker. Angel. The same vampire who wined and dined your pal. Drove her mad, he did. She has the sight, she knew what he was going to do to her and her sisters. She went to a convent to seek salvation and all that, so he followed her. She went to the Father, telling him she was seeing the devil. Begged to be saved, she did. The Father told her she couldn’t be saved, that the evil she saw was her own reflection. Everyday he said that. Whispered it to her at night.”

Spike paused to let his words sink in, and then continued. “Worked her over good and proper. Poor chit didn’t know if she was coming or going. Now imagine what Angel will do to you, someone he knows. Far more fun to play with someone who trusted you, who had a bit of a crush on you. A word from me and down you go. You think on that pet, let me know what you decide.”

He turned and was seconds from leaving when he heard her voice, as tiny and soft as it was. “What do you want me to do?”
****

“Twice in two days,” Angelus grinned as he approached the cherry red Corvette, his own car parked a few feet away. “Must’ve done something good in a past life to deserve the pleasure.”

The hazard lights had been the first thing to attract his attention, then the make and model of the car. He figured a quick meal and a new car couldn’t be that bad a deal, and so had slowed down to offer his personal assistance. Unfortunately for him, the owner had turned out to be female and as laid down by Spike, nothing sexually pleasurable could happen.

Shame really. He was in the mood for a good fuck and feed. Oh well, there was always next time. It took a second for him to realise just which female owned the sporty number.

Cordelia glared at the vampire. “Good is debateable.” Since Spike had told her all about Dru’s turning, she hadn’t been able to think of Angelus in the same way. She’d known since last Halloween he was a vampire, but never really understood what that meant, even after all the times she’d baited a trap for others of his kind.

Angelus stopped and stared at her in way that had her checking for holes in her soul. “Ah,” he said with a forming smile. “Spike mentioned he bumped into you earlier. I gather he told you a little bedtime story. Need daddy to rock you to sleep tonight?”

She made a disgusted noise which simply amused him. “You’re gross. Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to wait for someone with jumper cables.”

“What makes you think I don’t have jumper cables?”

“Your car has a break down, you’ll probably kill somebody and take theirs.”

He had the gall to look shocked. “And leave my baby alone? Any man worth his salt wouldn’t do a terrible thing like that. What else did Spike say?” He needed a good giggle to take away the urge to have her as a main course. It was all those dark waves floating around a creamy neck. Extremely edible, but she was the type of meal that had to be properly savoured, and that meant he’d lose in spectacular style.

Cordelia didn’t reply, she had no need as he chuckled and shook his head. “Lemme guess. I was going to do the same to you?”

“You know what they say about leopards and spots.”

Brown eyes twinkled with increasing amusement. “A good mind like yours would be a terrible thing to waste. Wimple’s favourite tale of woe is that. I’ve done other things too, you know. Enroled in the army, travelled the world a few times over, learned several languages, some demonic. More importantly, I can fix a car.”

Those confessions left her a little speechless for all of a split second. His achievements didn’t change who he was. “Yeah, you’re a real Superman.”

Women could be so infuriating at times. “Let’s take a look, shall we?” He was walking towards the hood of her car without waiting for her permission. It was popped, and what she saw was Angelus leaning away, swiping at a cloud of steam which threatened to burn his face off. She hoped it hurt some.

He peered round at her, an expression of hopelessness on his face. “I don’t think jumper cables will cut it.”

Cordelia figured she must be some sort of masochist as she just had to go see what Spike had done to her car. Not that she had a clue what she was looking for. She stood next to the vampire and sighed at the sight of steadily rising steam. “How come you know how to fix a car?”

Angelus shot her a sideways glance. “Knowing how to change a tyre can be a lifesaver.” There was another sideways glance, only this one spoke of common sense. “A young lady at the side of a quiet road begging for help is an easy target. You never know who might pull over.”

She pinned him with a pointed look. “Tell me about it.” Then they were seconds into sharing a smile when she realised just who she was sharing a smile with. Bonding with him was definitely not on her list of things to do before she died.

He rolled his eyes. “Human women can be so stubborn. You want help or do you want to stand around here, in the cold dark night, waiting for a white knight and fairy tale romance?”

She had little choice as the case maybe and so gave an answer she’d never give otherwise. Besides, it wasn’t like he could anything to her, right? It’d mean losing to Spike and she kind of guessed losing wasn’t in his repertoire. “Fine. Go ahead and help me.”

Angelus did nothing but smile in her direction. “No manners, Cordelia?”

Her teeth cracked under the pressure of increasing tension. “Please will you help me?” God, how much did that hurt?

“Happy too. You have a phone?”

Uh? “Yeah, why?”

“Can I borrow it? It’s not long distance, so don’t worry.” He caught the phone she threw at him, opened it and dialled. “It’s me. Corvette, red, license plate reads Queen C, belongs to a friend of mine… The works… A mile or so out of town, close to the junction. Great thanks… I owe you one.”

The phone wasn’t handed to her straight away. Angelus turned it this way and that as he admired it. “Must remember to get one of these.”

Cordelia blinked as she took it back. “That’s your help?”

“Calling for a tow truck is generally common sense.”

“Can’t have you straining something by fixing it yourself.”

“Your engine overheated and blew a gasket.”

She was going to kill Spike, and she meant really kill him. He was only supposed to leave her lights on long enough to eat the battery. She was so close to telling Angelus all about the plan to make him fail, but then remembered what she’d been told. If he knew she was in on it, then the chances of him getting angry at her were pretty high. Spike was so getting the bill for this.

“Right,” Cordelia had the decency to look a little sorry. “I knew that.”

Angelus nodded, and began the short walk to his car. “Sure you did. Coming?”

“Excuse me?”

“Your car is dead, either you’re staying here or you need a ride. Unless you plan on walking home.”

Didn’t take long for her choose. Stay where anyone or anything could get her, walk over a mile home, or hitch a ride with a known homicidal maniac who had a taste for blondes. “Ride please.”

She truly hated vampires and having one be her chauffeur was beyond despicable, especially since he already had the passenger door open for her. Click clacking heels accompanied her to his car, where she stood blinking down at the leather interior. It was just like his bedroom in the way it was spotlessly clean and free of junk. All in all, the vehicle was well maintained, almost obsessively so.

“Nice,” Cordelia muttered, jumping when a cool hand touched her upper arm.

Angelus smiled oh so innocently. “Just helping you in, nothing more.”

The will to thank him didn’t really exist, but she said it anyway. “Thanks.”

She entered the car in the proper way. Bend at the waist, sit gently, and then slide both legs in. She could be so damn prissy when she wanted to be. “Comfortable?”

“Yes, thank you.”

Seconds later he was sat to her right, gunning the engine, and offering the use of the stereo. Frankly, music and a rescue would be too much right about now. “I prefer silence when driving,” Cordelia replied, careful to keep her eyes well and truly off of him.

“You’re not driving. I am.”

“I still don’t like music in a car.”

“I do.”

“It’s your car, you can do whatever you want in it.”

“I’m trying to be a gentleman by considering your feelings.” Angelus stated with a perfectly straight face.

“Shame you didn’t consider my feelings when you tried to kill me.” The words were out of her mouth before she had a chance to stop them. A sharp breath stung her lungs as Cordelia prepared to feel whatever punishment he saw fit to give. All she got was a long, drawn out sigh.

“Are you still going on about that? A guy does something wrong and he’s doomed for all eternity.”

“Something wrong? You tried to kill me!” She half screeched, turning to him with a wide eyed stare of disbelief. “How can you be so… Heh about it.”

A large grin covered his face. “How can I be so heh? Tell me what heh means and I’ll do my best to answer.”

“You know,” her hands wafted around, almost hitting him in the process. “It’s like you split milk or let the cows out.”

Angelus laughed more than he’d laughed in a very long time. How many years had it been since he’d engaged in verbal foreplay? Too many it seemed, as riling her up was simply irristable. “Take it as a compliment.”

Her mouth fell open adorably. “A compliment? Actually, don’t answer that. Don’t think I wanna know, if it’s all the same to you.” Only him could say attempted murder was a compliment and laugh about it. “You bruised my ribs.”

“I keep forgetting how fragile you humans are. Guess I need to be more careful in future.”

“Try being nicer.”

“Should’ve come to me. I would have kissed them better.”

Okay, that was it. “Stop the car.” She wanted out and she wanted out right that very second.

“We’re nowhere near yet.”

“I don’t care if we’re on the moon. Stop the car. I’ll walk home.”

“Don’t be stupid, Cordelia…”

“Stupid? I’m stupid? Excuse me if I’m finding being in a car with the great and powerful Angelus just a little bit intimidating. So yeah, maybe I am stupid for getting in here in the first place.” By the time her little rant was done, the car was still moving, and he was quiet but still wore a smile.

“I frighten you?” He asked, his tone just as amused.

“Hell yes you frighten me.”

Brown eyes darted to meet hazel ones momentarily. “I haven’t been around to frighten you.”

It was amazing how one comment could make a woman feel like a total imbecile. “You don’t need to be around me. You’re the reason I keep my windows locked and don’t swim at night.”

Angelus was yet again laughing. “Been thinking about me a lot, huh? Now that is a compliment.” She was priceless, absolutely priceless.

He was impossible. Before Cordelia had time to retort, he spoke. “Tell you what, princess. You can open your windows and go swimming on a night, I won’t harm one hair on your head. Cross my heart and hope to die.”

“Forgive me if I don’t believe you. You might get the urge to stop by one night and pay me another compliment.”

The vampire scratched his head, then rubbed his palm down his face in an attempt to stop grinning. The damn thing was making his cheeks ache. “How about a better deal? I accompany you one night, that way you can keep an eye on me. Make sure I don’t do anything complimentary, to you or anyone else.”

“You frighten me when you’re not there. I’m not about to willingly be around you, go swimming with you, just to make sure you don’t get Valentine’s on me. That makes no sense whatsoever.”

“Makes perfect sense to me. You get to know me, maybe you’ll realise I’m not so bad. Well,” there was that grin again. “Unless you piss me off. You have any plans to piss me off?”

Deceit had never been one of her favourite hobbies and as such, had never practiced it. She turned away to hide her frown as she lied through her teeth. “No,” she said, her voice strangely distant to her ears. “No I don’t.”

“Then you’re free to have open windows and go swimming.”

What could she say? “Thanks.”

Part 4

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