False Claims 2

Chapter Two

“Excuse us.”

With those words Cordelia’s world turned into a blur of colors as she was pulled at superhuman speed out of the living room, across the hall and into what appeared to be a small study. As quickly as it began the wild ride ended and she tried to calm her dizzy senses. Looking around the room with great trepidation her eyes only confirmed what she had already guessed, she was now in the company of a being rightly called a scourge.

Completely dominating the small room, the vampire stood in a deceptively relaxed position, leaning against the door, his leather clad legs crossed at the ankles; his silk covered arms crossed over his chest.

“Unfair!” Cordelia cried. “How did you get in here without an invite?” Disgruntlement clearly written all over her face, she seemed almost like a young child who’d been cheated by a playmate and was about to call for a do-over.

“Funny thing; I only need an invite when the house belongs to humans.” Angelus paused to let that sink in. Upon hearing something that vaguely sounded like “Oh, crap”, he assumed that she had grasped the gravity of the situation in which she now found herself.

Rolling his shoulders, he pushed himself away from the door and took a step closer to the unhappy girl. Breathing deeply, he scented her fear, but to her credit he could honestly say that he’d smelled far more terror on many adversaries who were actually better equipped to face a vampire such as himself. It couldn’t be because she believed in any imminent rescue by the slayer. After the way she tore out of the graveyard she would have to know that the slayer had no idea where she was.

Could it possibly be that she, like Buffy, believed that there was some of Angel still languishing inside of him fighting to escape the demon’s control? Oh, if only that were true. To force Angel to be the one who sits silent while the soul’s instincts are ignored instead of the demon’s. What a delicious torment that would be. But alas, when the soul had departed it had taken off to parts unknown and Angelus could honestly say that he wasn’t sorry about that fact.

Well, whatever delusion she was harboring that was allowing her to contain her fear was certain to shatter when he killed her. With that happy thought in mind Angelus crowded in on the cheerleader.

“Give me my amulet, Cordelia.”

Cordelia shivered as Angelus’ sensually menacing tone seemed to flow over her body like a carnal caress. Endless nights of research had taught her that fear to vampires was like blood to sharks – it would push them into a frenzy, drawing out the predator to the exclusion of all else. So, struggling to maintain some small vestige of her outward composure she adjusted the wispy silk blouse much too nice to die in, and smoothed out the creases in her beige linen slacks and then forced her eyes to meet his.

“I hid it.”

Lips curling up in a smirk, Angelus slowly circled behind her and bent towards her ear. “Well, while I’d love to search you, I’m somewhat pressed for time so why don’t you be a good girl and hand it over.”

Surprisingly, it wasn’t horror that Angelus felt flaring out from the teenager’s body, but irritation.

“Don’t be a dumbass. Why even bother to hide it if I’m just going to do so on my person? Then you could just kill me and take it. What kind of leverage would that be?” God she was tied of people constantly underestimating her.

Angelus had killed people for much less than speaking to him in such an insolent manner. Hell, he thought, he’d killed people for simply speaking, or not speaking, speaking too loudly or to softly. He just really enjoyed killing people.

“If you give it to me now I can make your death quick and…relatively painless. The longer you make me wait, the longer I’ll make you wait. How long to you think you can stay sane when I’m peeling off your skin, Cordelia?”

Suppressing the urge to vomit all over the vampire, although he clearly deserved it, Cordelia jerked her chin up and somehow, even through the waves of fear she was giving off, managed to look disdainfully over her shoulder at him.

“Let’s face it, I’d probably crack pretty quickly. I’m not one for the stiff upper lip and all. That’s probably more Giles’ thing. But I’m willing to bet that I can hold out long enough for those demons out there to come in here to find out what’s going on. Not only will you have to explain why a teenager, and not the almighty Angelus has their necklace, but I’m pretty sure that I can be terribly convincing when I tell all those nasty demons that they’re in trouble ’cause this has all been a setup and now Angel is gonna kick their ass while we wait for the slayer. How do you think they’d take that; thinking you’d tricked them?”

“Well I could kill you, that should prove who I am.”

“But that would leave you without your necklace, so we’d both be dead. Besides, I get the feeling that having my neck snapped in some freakish display of power for those demons would be far preferable to what you’d do to me if you had more time. And if I’m dying anyways, I might as well take you with me.”

Cordelia could hear the words coming out of her mouth. She knew that she was, literally, digging her own grave, but she couldn’t seem to stop. She’d worked so hard telling herself to be brave that she couldn’t seem to quit and she was fast crossing the line into stupid. Taking a deep breath she tried to redirect the exchange of death threats into a more productive, less murdery type of discourse.

Chase Business Rule #2 – Don’t be afraid to make an offer. Every successful negotiation has to start somewhere.

“Look, you want your amulet thingy and I want to get out of here with my pulse in tact. Why don’t we make a deal? You get me home, safe and sound, and I’ll give you back your necklace. You can come right back here and carry out your nefarious jewelry plotting to your heart’s content.”

Angelus stepped around in front of the girl, assessing her with new eyes. He would never have given her this much credit. The slayer had certainly never had anything complimentary to say about the girl. Of course, that was almost a recommendation to his way of thinking. Whatever she had to say was sure to be interesting, and since he seemed to have no choice he decided just to go with it and see where it took him. Of course, if it didn’t take him where he wanted to go he could always rip her beautiful head off of her shoulders.

“Making deals with the devil, Cordelia? Now, now, now, what would the slayer say?”

“Who cares as long as I’m alive to find out?”

A very valid point from her, Angelus followed it up with one of his own. “How do I know you’ll keep you end of the deal?”

Cordelia gave him a look that severely questioned his sanity. “You’re kidding right? ‘Cause yeah, that’s what I want to do – piss off the new homicidal maniac on the block. In case you’re missing it here, I’m not trying to be a hero, I’m trying to get home in an entirely not dead state. To that end I could care less about your evil accessories. You’re welcome to it if it gets me home. Believe me, I’m no Buffy. I’m not dying to save the world. If I’m going to be dead, frankly the rest of the world can go to Hell for all I care.”

If it wouldn’t have given her away, Cordelia would have crossed her fingers in the hopes that Angelus bought her bluff. After all, if she didn’t care then why would she have been there tonight. Still, she really wasn’t a part of the group when Angel was around, so he’d probably just remember her as Buffy’s bitchy nemesis.

Angelus realized that whatever he decided he’d have to act fast. Frustrated, but knowing that the demons wouldn’t wait forever, he realized he had no choice but to work with the young brunette and then kill her once he had the amulet.

“Alright.”

Cordelia blinked at the abrupt turn around. Knowing she shouldn’t question her good fortune she couldn’t help but ask, “Alright what?”

“You – home, safe and sound; the amulet with me.”

Almost dizzy with relief that there might be a light at the end of this tunnel that didn’t have people beckoning her towards the afterlife, she quickly accepted. “Deal. Let’s go.”

At Angelus’ continued pause Cordelia tuned wide, questioning eyes his way. “What now?”

As if explaining to a child, Angelus pointed out, “You do understand that they’re not going to believe that I’m palling around with a human for no reason.”

“Well then you better think of one.”

Cordelia knew that the smirk on his face did not bode well for her, but she was also supremely aware of her lack of options.

“Oh, I already have.”

With those chilling words, Angelus used his preternatural speed to pull her to him, restraining her with his left hand, while winding his right hand through the heavy silken strands of her hair, he snapped her head back and bared her throat. Sliding his left hand up over her generous curves to cover her mouth, he stifled her scream as he sliced his fangs through her velvet skin and into her jugular.

As Cordelia’s essence surged into his mouth in time to the accelerated pounding of her heart, Angelus experienced things about her that only a vampire could ever know.

He tasted the fear crashing through every cell, invading every molecule. He was impressed that she was able to hide so much fear so well. Most people were reduced to hysterical sobbing and incoherent pleadings for their life by now.

Beyond the fear he tasted a myriad of emotions; feelings he wouldn’t have expected from the beautiful and popular cheerleader – pain, solitude, emptiness, so many emotions that run contrary to the persona he had always associated with the girl.

There was also the fiery taste of her anger. She was mad as Hell that he’d dared to bite her, and if he wasn’t a powerful demon he’d be extremely wary of the ire rushing through her entire system.

But as Angelus waded through all of those sensations, each alluring in it’s own way, each giving him access to places she would never willingly allow him, the thing that startled him more than anything was something he had never anticipated – her innocence.

Angelus had long been a connoisseur of virgins. Some might say it was his specialty. Although his fixation had started as a way to mock Darla – always chasing purity, valuing it above all else, knowing that it drove his sire mad to be constantly reminded, no matter how subtly, that she was a whore. But whatever the reason the hobby had grown into a lustful infatuation. There was no denying that the blood of the untouched was different somehow. It was sweeter, thicker, it held hopes and dreams unspoiled by time or experience. It had an almost mystical feel to it, which wasn’t odd if one considered that it was often used in rituals and magick ceremonies.

But whereas most virgins, being untried by life, were timid by nature, Cordelia was an intriguing dichotomy of strength and fragility. She was a swirling mass of loneliness and despair held back by sheer force of will alone. She was confidence and pride, which she used to cover a tender heart and gentle soul. She was a puzzle, the likes of which he’d never seen before, and he wondered, briefly, at the kind of demon she would make.

That thought brought Angelus crashing back to reality as he realized that he had a house full of powerful and influential demons waiting for him. He sadly concluded that this was not the time to be indulging in these particular fantasies. In a way he was somewhat relieved. He’d hate to think that because of a few sips of, admittedly amazing blood he’d be stuck with someone like Cordelia Chase for eternity. One undead bitch in his life had been more than enough, thank you.

With those sobering thoughts in mind Angelus withdrew his fangs from her neck and gently laved his wounds with his tongue, sealing them. As he pulled his head back he admired the twin punctures now adorning her neck. They were red and angry and it was already apparent that they would leave an impressive scar. The sight sent a frisson of possessiveness running through him but he easily tamped it down. After all, he was a master vampire, he could rule his instincts when the need arose. Thankfully though, the need rarely arose.

Tearing his gaze from her throat and meeting her eyes, he smiled slightly to see Cordelia’s fierce look of anger and betrayal. As she slapped her hand over the wound on her throat Angelus bit back a growl as the torn flesh disappeared from his sight.

“What the Hell are you doing? I thought we had a deal!”

He flinched at the high pitched screech that assaulted his ears. “We did, I’m just keeping up my end.”

“By snacking on me?” Disbelief dripped from every syllable.

“By giving you a legitimate reason for being here.” The vampire scowled.

“Dinner?!?”

Slowly the scowl turned into a mischievous grin. “Pet.”

Cordelia’s mouth opened and closed as she struggled to swallow the rage in her throat long enough to speak. Angelus enjoyed what he was sure was a rare moment of silence from her, but as the seconds went by he found himself wishing for her to regain the power of speech just so he could hear whatever surprising thing she was sure to say next.

Cordelia finally managed to pull in a lungful of oxygen, which she promptly spit back out in a flow of acerbic words. “What? No way, buster. I’d rather let the demons kill me.”

Even though Angelus knew that time was short he couldn’t help winding up the livid girl in front of him. “Now baby, what kind of master would I be if I let someone damage my property?”

Cordelia froze at the condecending question. “God, you’re such a bastard!”

Grabbing hold of her chin he pulled her face up so that her gaze locked with his. “It would be wise not to forget that, sweetheart.”

“Geez, you’re such a guy, except instead of your penis all your decisions are made by your fangs. Do you have no impulse control?”

Moving his hand from her face to her arm, his other hand came forward to grasp her shoulders in a punishing grip. “You think I’m happy about this?” The intimidating words growled deep in his throat.

Shaking off the restraining hands, a clear indication that he was ready to let her go, Cordelia spat back, “You bet you are. There’s nothing wrong with my blood, buddy. I taste great…and isn’t this so the wrong thing to be telling a vampire.”

The smirk tilted Angelus’ sensual lips once again as he pretended to consider Cordelia’s rash words. “Actually, I didn’t take that much. To make an informed decision as to the quality of your blood I’d have to have another sample.”

Even as he said the words he knew they were a lie. He’d imbibed more than enough of Cordelia Chase to say that, without a doubt, she was one of the most intoxicating flavors that had ever teased his pallet. But in the remarkably short time he knew her he could deduce, with absolute certainty, that this was information she would find neither reassuring nor complimentary.

In a testament to the strength of her will, Cordelia pulled herself together, straightened he spine and affected a cold and disinterested look. “Pfft, whatever.” She dismissed his ridiculous offer with a wave of her hand. She hesitated for a moment, a look of indecision crossing her face. “Look, this shouldn’t be so hard, right? It’s just acting and I’ve been thinking about taking drama when I get into college and out of this hellhole, so this will be good practice. So,” Cordelia looked up at Angelus in expectation, “what’s my motivation?”

Wondering if he’d ever been in a situation that made less sense than this, Angelus questioned her ludicrous statement in confusion, “What?”

“My motivation. You know, why I’m doing this.”

Well, at least that was fairly obvious to him. “So you’ll live to be killed another day, remember?”

“Duh. We know that’s my motivation, but they” Cordelia wildly gestured to indicate those outside of the room, “don’t know that. What’s my motivation for them?”

“Look,” Angelus bit out, slightly stunned at being duhed. “Outside this room is a clan of A’toreal demons. I need their backing to solidify my hold on this truly Godforsaken town. They’re concerned about rumors of my soul. The amulet is a way to show them that there’s nothing here but 100% demon. You don’t need a motivation for any of that. You just need to keep your mouth shut and let me do the talking. Now let’s go.”

Showing how little he knew of Cordelia Chase, Angelus considered the matter closed and began pulling her back towards the room full of demons eagerly awaiting an explanation of their earlier sudden arrival and departure.

As they entered the living room the demons rose from their seats to greet them. As they addressed Angelus Cordelia took the opportunity to inspect them more closely.

Dressed in casual yet upscale clothing, they gave the impression of nothing more sinister than businessmen gathering after hours to network over some drinks. Humanoid in appearance Cordelia really couldn’t find anything that would betray their demon status until what appeared to be the leader of this little get together turned his gaze to her.

A shiver of fear worked its way up her spine as, underneath a shock of yellow hair, she peered into eyes that were completely black, as if the pupil had expanded to engulf not just the iris but also the whites. It was a stark reminder that this was not one of her father’s business parties and she would do well to be on guard. That warning in mind she forced her attention to what was being said.

“Angelus,” The demon spoke to the vampire but his stare was trained disdainfully on Cordelia. “I’m glad you could make it. But I must say, I’m rather surprised that you brought your pet.”

Shit, Angelus cursed in his head. Gaining the trust of the A’toreal clan was essential to his plans. This task was difficult enough without one of the slayer’s damn do-gooders tagging along. God, he was going to enjoy killing her.

As Angelus went to answer the demon’s unspoken reprimand he was brought up short by the voice already answering the query. It was soft and feminine; a voice he didn’t know intimately, but one with which he was certainly familiar. But no, it couldn’t be. He was sure that they had agreed that she would keep her mouth shut and he would do all of the talking. Through the white hot blaze of his anger came the idle question of whether or not ripping Cordelia’s constantly moving tongue out of her head in front of these demons would do more to help or hurt his cause.

Forcing himself to listen as Cordelia ruined all of his hard work, he heard what he knew must be the most asinine statement to ever cross her lips.

“Not a pet.” Cordelia said in a soothing, introductory tone. “I prefer to think of myself as a business asset.”

Angelus, who was still holding Cordelia’s hand in his began applying an enormous amount of pressure to that particular extremity in the hope that she would shut up and let him rescue what he could of this debacle. Although his grip was not designed to break, it would definitely bruise and it was to her credit that her smile never faltered for an instant.

Once again as Angelus would have interjected he was beaten to the punch, this time by the head of the A’toreal clan.

“Business asset, really?” The flaxen-haired demon questioned skeptically.

This time, Angelus consoled himself, he had actually gotten his mouth open before he was cut off.

“Indeed.” Cordelia agreed as if the demon’s reply had been a reassertion of her statement rather than a questioning of her status. “How do you think your little trinket got away from the slayer tonight?”

His attention completely diverted by mention of that which they so desperately sought, the demon eagerly questioned, “The amulet? You have it?”

Finally, the vampire thought, someone was going to let him speak. Usually he didn’t have this much trouble commanding attention, but he felt that it might be counterproductive to start ripping the limbs off of the very people he was bargaining with just so he could get a word in edgewise.

“It’s safe.” Angelus confirmed. “It’s waiting to be returned to you as soon as we reaffirm that our deal still stands.”

Cordelia wondered exactly what the amulet did as the demons before her began practically salivating at the thought of their prized possession being back in their grasp. She doubted it was actually a fashion accessory, because no one here was wearing anything that wouldn’t completely clash with it.

“Of course, of course.” The disapproving demon of mere minutes ago was gone, replaced by this new obsequious version. “Once the amulet is in our possession you can be assured of both the backing and the gratitude of the A’toreal clan.”

“That’s good to know. Gentlemen.” As far as Angelus was concerned this nightmare was over. He’d managed to smooth things over with this powerful and influential band of demons, he was within minutes of getting his hands on the amulet, and he’d have the pleasure of killing the obnoxious girl next to him before the sunrise. All in all a good way to end things.

These pleasant musings were brought up short as the demon, oblivious to Angelus’ plans to leave, turned his attention from the vampire and back to his “pet”.

“So, you say you got the amulet from the slayer tonight. You don’t seem to be possessed of any supernatural powers, certainly nothing to rival a slayer’s. So how, exactly, did you accomplish this feat?”

Now assured of the return of the amulet, the demon had dropped his almost accusatory tone and adopted one of mere curiosity.

Although Cordelia didn’t lie often she knew that lies were easier to manage the more truth they contained. To that end she carefully formulated her answer using as much reality as she could without giving herself or the vampire next to her away, thus hurling herself towards a grizzly death.

“Simple. The slayer told me where it was and sent me to retrieve it for her. I hid it instead and came here.”

To say that her words were shocking to the room full of demons would have been like saying that Xander liked a little snack now and then – a complete understatement.

As the demons rushed to assume defensive positions, an older demon from the back of the room came forward. “You work with the slayer?” He practically spat the question at her.

Cordelia, deciding that the most expedient way to calm the now tense atmosphere was to ignore it, flashed a truly evil smirk that rivaled that of Angelus himself and clarified. “Well, the slayer thinks I do.”

As if she had let them in on some joke at the slayer’s expense that she found vastly amusing, her warm, sultry laughter flowed over the occupants of the room, soothing the demon’s frayed nerves.

That velvety caress of sound, however, had the opposite effect on the only vampire occupant of the room, heightening his tension and tightening his pants. He was so astounded by this new feeling regarding the girl that he almost missed that she had continued spinning her tale for the demon’s who were now riveted by her engrossing presence.

Turning so that she could better see her audience, Cordelia placed her back lightly against Angelus’ chest in a show of unity that was the ultimate fiction of the evening

“You don’t honestly believe the slayer is still around because Angelus can’t kill her?”

As many of the demons looked away, confirming that very thought, a soft growl echoed from Angelus’ chest to Cordelia’s back in a clear command to drop this dangerous line of inquiry.

Of course, Cordelia was never one to stop when she considered herself to be ahead. Then again, she was never one to stop when she considered herself to be behind, either.

“No” Cordelia corrected what she implied was their misconception. “The slayer’s still around because she can’t kill Angelus. She has all these feelings.” The disgust with which Cordelia apparently viewed the slayer was evident in her voice. Leaning back into Angelus’ as if to erase the slayer’s claim on him and replace it with her own, she was surprised to feel his arms twist around her waist, pulling her in much closer than she, personally thought was necessary for their little show. Suppressing the small fluttering in her stomach as his lips brushed the top of her head, she continued.

“She loved him, and she can’t conceive that he doesn’t love her; that it’s all been a game. And really, why on earth would Angelus kill a slayer who can’t work herself up to kill him just so a new one would be called who could? Not that a slayer would ever be able to kill you baby.”

Acting was turning out to be way harder than Cordelia had originally thought as, forcing down her natural inclination to gag, she turned her head up towards that of the vampire’s and gazed at him in what hopefully appeared to be genuine adoration.

With wicked humor glinting in his rapidly darkening eyes, Angelus moved quickly to capture the lips turned so temptingly towards his own. Thrusting his tongue between startled lips he proceeded to once again submerge himself in the essence of Cordelia Chase, and although the taste was somewhat muted in comparison to her blood, it was still, truly sublime.

With a small cough the demon interrupted the kiss, much to the relief of Cordelia who was finding herself drawn into the moment far too deep and far too quickly. Pulling herself back to reality she tried to concentrate on the demon’s words and ignore the intriguing and lingering taste of the vampire on her lips.

“A game you say?”

Chase Business Rule #3 – People will believe anything if they think that it was their idea. Biting back a supremely self-satisfied grin, Cordelia nodded her head and widened her eyes as if greatly astounded. “You know, Angelus told me that your clan was a very influential force in Hellmouth politics, but I’m truly impressed. Most people don’t get it even now that he’s dropped the soul act.”

The A’toreal representative spoke slowly, trying to find out more without looking like he didn’t already know and thus embarrassing his clan. “Act…”

Angelus was torn between stopping the impetuous girl in his arms before she misspoke and letting her go just to see where her fanciful story would take them. After all, everything she’d said so far had been extremely beneficial and it was certainly more convincing coming from her than from him.

Cordelia gestured sagely towards the demons and spoke as if confirming something that they obviously already knew and silently gave thanks to Giles for droning on endlessly about the Aurelius Order after Angelus had appeared. It was stuff that, much like algebra, you were always surprised to find had real world applications, and she solemnly vowed to never again hope that his tweed spontaneously combusted.

“Yes, and kudos to you for spotting it. As you know, Angelus dumped his simpering sire a century ago. She just didn’t have the long term vision needed for greatness. Then my sly fox set about gathering what he would need to claim the Hellmouth.”

The demons, feeling as if they were now privy to inside information listened with rapt attention as she continued weaving her web of deceit.

“But with the Master getting ready to rise there would have been quite a shake up in the Order of Aurelius. So Angelus shows up as “Angel”, tortured vampire cursed with a soul.” Cordelia added a snort her for good measure. “He goes on and on about how he wants to make up for all of the wrongs he’s done, the lives he’s ruined.”

The leaders of the A’toreal clan, getting into the spirit of these fascinating revelations, chuckled at Cordelia’s melodramatic tone and the arm which she’d thrown over her eyes in mock horror.

“So our poor, remorseful do-gooder is accepted into the slayer’s good graces, her tender heart, and finally into her bed. And really, let me just say, ewww! Talk about taking one for the team.”

Laughter again erupted into the spellbound room, quickly calming down as they waited for her to continue to enlighten them.

“Of course, once her feelings are all involved he “convinces” her” Cordy pauses to make air quotes, “to remove all of the obstacles to his taking control of the Order.”

“First, he uses her to lure Darla to the Bronze, away from the majority of the Master’s minions, so he can stake her.” She takes a moment her so that they can appreciate the deviousness of a vampire willing, not just to murder his sire, but to cold bloodedly plan it out.

“The he has Buffy kill the Master, thereby eliminating any challenges to his claim. Then the “curse” is “broken” and he “loses his soul”, taking away the slayer’s “true love”, the rock in the turbulent ocean of her life.”

Okay, now Cordelia was making herself sick reliving the angst that was the Buffy and Angel debacle. And she was pretty sure that her fingers were going to cramp from all of the air quoting. Still, if this got her in her own bed tonight with the majority of her own blood running through her veins then it was worth it the boost she knew she was giving Angelus in his evil-type endeavors.

“So” she persevered, “not only is he in the perfect position to take the Hellmouth, but he’s also broken the slayer, leaving her weak and ineffectual.”

The demons were beginning to look at Angelus with something akin to awe. And, much to Cordelia’s disgust he was preening under all of the attention.

“But, why the story about losing the soul. Why not just tell the slayer that she’d been duped?” This astute question came from the back of the room where the older members of the A’toreal clan sat.

Cordelia, feeling the high of successful improvisation continued piecing together a plausible story.

“Actually, the story serves two purposes: One, It keeps the slayer off balance. Every time she sees Angelus it hurts all over again because she’s lost her soul mate. But no matter how much it hurts she’ll never kill the big guy because she keeps holding on to the hope that she’ll get her Angel back one day. We laugh about that a lot.”

She looked lovingly once more at Angelus but seeing the twinkle in his eyes and remembering how this gambit had played out last time she jerked her head back around before he had a chance to take advantage of her momentary lapse.

Covering her unease, Cordelia flashed the crowd a blinding smile and launched into the finale that she hoped would push her into the not killing category.

“Now the second reason is a bit more complex, but with your leading role in the power structure here I’m sure you can appreciate how difficult it can be to keep the…lesser demons in line.” Cordelia’s smile, which seemed to indicate that they were all conspiring together, had them all inclining their heads in agreement.

“Not many of the demons around here are as observant and discerning as you. Unlike your clan, they weren’t able to see that it was all a ploy. If they were told what you’ve been able to figure out they would feel stupid and humiliated. Allowing them to keep their pride is much easier than killing them all for being less than cooperative.” That last part was all truth, because Cordelia had no doubt that anyone who wasn’t pro-Angelus was just dead. Honestly, wasn’t she just being pro-Angelus to avoid her own untimely demise?

With that disturbing thought she decided that now would be a good time to wrap things up. So, gracing them with a wink and another brilliant smile she finished. “Besides, what fun is ruling with no subjects. It’s a wise leader who can forgo violence for expediency…” A shark like look transformed her face. “Now matter how fun violence may be.”

Cordelia relaxed back against Angelus to indicate that she was finished. As his arms dropped down to her hips he pulled her in tightly, allowing her to feel, up close and personal, the effect her “help” had on him. If there was one thing that Angelus loved more than virgins it was strong resourceful women. The fact that he’d found all of those things in Cordelia was, as she could attest, more than arousing.

Feeling Angelus’ appreciation pressing into her backside the phrase, “Out of the frying pan, into the fire” ran briefly through her mind. On the other hand, Cordelia figured that she had a better chance of turning him off between here and her house than she would convincing him not to kill her, because she really had no illusions that sometimes spending time with her made people more homicidal rather than less.

The lead representative of the A’toreal clan straightened to his full, rather unassuming height and stepped forward, extending his hand to the vampire. “Well, Angelus, your foresight has certainly come to fruition. It’s well past time that the Hellmouth sees some leadership with long term vision and long range plans. Be assured that you definitely enjoy the support of the A’toreal clan. Maybe with someone like you at the helm here we could be convinced to spend far more time in Sunnydale.”

As Angelus shook his hand, Cordelia thought she might be sick. The demon world was apparently just like the real world – The woman does all the work, the guy gets all the credit. She could barely keep herself from rolling her eyes.

Angelus, however, had no problem at all with receiving the credit for the night’s work. In a voice that was almost purring with satisfaction at this successful endeavor he took his leave. “Well, gentlemen, as fun as it’s been, my…asset” he paused just long enough to run his hands up and then back down the curves of Cordelia’s lush body, sending chills racing through her, “and I have things to do before I send my little wolf back into the slayer’s flock. So, if you’ll excuse us.”

Chapter 3

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