Well, that was a complete waste of yet another afternoon, Cordelia thought as she remembered the last three days since the amulet incident. Endless hours spent combing every part of the house she’d been in, searching records, and reading dusty old books in the hopes of finding where a bunch of amulet wearing demons might hide. But there were no A’toreal demons, no Angelus, and absolutely no reason for them to waste time they could have been spending at The Bronze.
Well, better late than never she thought as she climbed out of her car. Reaching back into the passenger seat she pulled out a silk scarf. It matched the emerald green silk of the blouse she matched up with a pair of black, velvet slacks, and would hopefully, with the help of her hair cascading in gentle waves over her shoulders, hide the still raw vampire bite on her neck.
As she straightened up and closed the car door she let out a chocked scream as she was swept off her feet and spun around. Finding herself in a darkened corner of the parking lot, she was trapped by the arms banded around her, pulling her into a rock hard body as she heard a sadly familiar voice purr into her ear.
“Miss me, baby?”
Dammit all, she’d been so close to The Bronze, so close to people who…well, actually they probably couldn’t help her much. She had a feeling that whatever was going on now Angelus would see them as more of an appetizer than a substitute meal.
“Not as much as I’m going to miss my heartbeat if you keep grabbing me out of nowhere.”
Resting his head against the side of hers, Angelus couldn’t help but take a moment to inhale Cordelia’s new and improved scent. Emanating not just from his mark but from every pore in her body was her unique aroma, a blending of sweetness and spice like cinnamon swirled with sugar, and his own scent – age, danger and an unrestrained power few would be foolhardy enough to defy.
He whisper into the ear so temptingly close to his lips, “Maybe I like grabbing you.”
Cordelia Chase was an awesome flirt, but even she could admit when she was out of her depth. Maybe if it had been Angel standing here. He’d been controllable; the slayer had certainly proved that, tugging on his leash more times than she cared to remember. That, however, was not the case with the vampire who stood before her now. Dark and menacing, Angelus was not in anyway a candidate for either harmless or serious flirting.
Deciding the direct approach was called for, Cordelia pushed down the shivers produced by the soft words blown into her ear. In the mood he was in she immediately discarded the suggestive, “What do you want?” and went for something more likely to keep their libidos on an even keel.
“Why are you here?”
The gentle nuzzling of her hair ceased as Angelus felt the irritation of the other night flood back into his system. Feeling his body begin to harden just at the scent of her, the feel of her lithe body pressed into his, his annoyance grew by leaps and bounds at her continuing cold demeanor. Didn’t she understand what that did to a demon? Like a red cape to a bull it drove him to wild with thoughts of pushing the issue, touching her in ways she couldn’t deny.
But those were games for another day as he pushed down his instincts to possess and reminded himself that tonight he need her cooperation. It would certainly be easier if she gave it even somewhat willingly.
Angelus allowed his arms to drop to his side but entwined the fingers of one his hands with her own. While Cordelia was in no way fooled that this was a tender gesture, knowing that the move was only to ensure she didn’t try to run, she was still grateful for the reprieve. Despite her outward iciness she was unsure how much longer she could have remained in his arms and not melted into a puddle of well dressed goo.
What the Hell was wrong with her? This wasn’t just an evil demon. No, apparently, with her help, he was king of all the evil he surveyed. He was off limits in the worst way and this hormone driven craving that she had to lean back into the body that had just granted her space was insane. Where were her survival instincts? God she hated being a teenager.
“Well, my dear, it seems the A’toreal’s are giving a dinner tonight in my honor, a public return of their amulet and a show of loyalty to me in front of the ruling members of the major demon clans in the area.”
Knowing that he could not be heading in the direction she thought, Cordelia gave him her sunniest smile. “Well, you have fun with that. Parties are always a lovely break from the grind of…uh…evil doing. Now if you’ll excuse me.”
She knew it wouldn’t be that easy, but she was still disappointed when the hand holding hers tightened, refusing to let her flee to the relative safety of the nightclub behind her.
“Actually, we’ve both been invited.” Angelus stressed, a sudden sly smile cutting across his face. “Isn’t that sweet, it’ll be our first date. Apparently the A’toreals were very taken with you.”
Cordelia decided to ignore his asinine allusion to them dating and cut to the real matter at hand.
“And that matters to me because?”
Using their connected fingers to jerk her once again flush with his body, Angelus explained. “That matters to you because you’re my little business asset. And when you cease being my business asset you become my business liability. And when that happens my only option will be to liquidate you.”
It was like being threatened by her economics teacher, if he happened to be a demon. A possibility that Cordelia had often considered. And yet she was chilled to the marrow in her bones. Not by the threat per se, but by how absolutely unconcerned he seemed about killing her.
Cordelia knew that here, cornered in a dark parking lot, she was out of options. The best she could do was to try to find out what his plans for her might be tonight. After all, she didn’t think that the electronic lock trick would work twice.
“This isn’t like the last time. My leverage is fairly limited. How do I know you won’t kill me as soon as dinner’s over? Kind of like a vampy dessert?”
The predator in Angelus suddenly became far more pronounced than it had been even when he was threatening her life. “You don’t. Hopefully that will motivate you to be on your best behavior.”
“Honestly, I could kill you now. The A’toreals are demons, they’d understand. Still, it’s beneficial for me to have you there. Do a good job for me and I’ll cut you the same deal as before – you home, safe and sound.”
Cordelia had the nagging suspicion that she was not just looking her gift horse in the mouth, but counting its teeth, yet she couldn’t seem to leave good luck unquestioned. “Why?”
Angelus had already asked himself that question a number of times. He was slightly uncomfortable with his lack of murderous intent where this girl was concerned. Sure, he’d kill her in a heartbeat if he felt like it. What bothered him was that he didn’t feel like it more.
“Like I said, you’re useful. Besides, I’d like to have the Hellmouth politics out of the way before I start killing off the slayer’s band of merry men. I want to be able to give her my full attention.”
“Why?” Angelus let his demon face come forward. “Are you trying to work your way up my list?”
Cordelia blew out the breath she didn’t even know she’d been holding, resigned to another night in the vampire’s company.
“No. In this area of my life I’m absolutely ecstatic about being last. So what do you need me to do?”
Satisfied, Angelus’ features faded back to his human semblance.
“There’s my good girl.”
Teeth grinding almost painfully Cordelia knew she was taking her life in her hands, but she wouldn’t put up with this condescending crap one more minute. She was a person, not a dog, and more than that she was Cordelia frickin’ Chase. She had pride, she had dignity, she had –
“First we go shopping.”
Immediately distracted from her internal tirade, Cordelia found herself feeling pleased for the first time since the vampire grabbed her. After all, evil and shopping was certainly better than evil and no shopping.