Chapter Sixty Seven
The lights of Los Angeles spread out before her, like a shimmering blanket laid across the landscape. As she took in the glittering picture strong arms slid around her waist pulling her back against a large, hard body.
“What’s going through that beautiful head of yours?”
The deep voice sent a shiver down her spine and she felt a corresponding shudder behind her as her quiver pressed her further against the muscular form.
“It’s so close.”
Cordelia didn’t even try to disguise the longing lacing her reply. Every moment with this vampire kept her separated from the rest of the world, but here, seeing it so clearly made that reality impossible to deny. Freedom was right there, near enough to touch, but she couldn’t reach it and that knowledge, more than anything that had happened so far, threatened to break her spirit.
Angelus couldn’t ignore the yearning in her voice. The whole point of this trip was to help Cordelia adjust to the inevitability of her new life. He wanted to show her the benefits of being his, the pleasures he could offer her besides the physical.
“It’s yours for the taking. I want to give it to you. Why don’t you let me give it to you?”
The soft words flowed like honey through her mind, tempting her with the promise of paradise. She could almost appreciate the irony of finding heaven in the arms of the devil.
“I can’t.” Anguish and despair weighed down her cry, pouring from the depths of her soul.
It wasn’t that her obvious hurt upset him; it didn’t. To see her face eclipsed with despair was a picture worthy of a Renaissance master and he savored her anguish with the same passion with which he relished her joy. As long as he was the cause – of her happiness, her fear, her pain then it was beautiful in his eyes.
But though her mere presence filled him with delight regardless of her wishes, he had other goals to achieve. He wanted her love. He wanted her to need him with her heart as well as her body. He wanted her to come to him, for touching him to be essential to her well being, for his presence to be a necessity. He wanted her to spend their time apart planning his seduction, for her desire for him to be the driving force behind her every thought, every action.
With that aim in mind he set about soothing her fears and misgivings.
“Close your eyes, Moonbeam.” He waited ‘til she realized that he wasn’t going to continue or release her until she had complied with his wishes. “No thinking, just feel; feel where you are.”
“Feel your slow, steady heartbeat, your smooth, even breaths. There’s no fear.”
“Feel your muscles, supple and pliant, your body leaning into mine, burrowing into my embrace. There’s no disgust.”
“So much of you understands where you want to be. So much of you wants what I can give you. It’s just your mind that keeps throwing obstacles at us. I know you think you’re protecting yourself, but do you really think I’ll ever let you go. At the most you might defy all the odds, overcome all the precautions I’ve set in place, but you know I’d follow you to the ends of the earth. I’m a demon, a hunter by nature. Even if you managed to elude me for a time eventually you know that I’d find you. No matter where you hide our bond will lead me to you. No matter how fast you run you’ll have nothing, no one while I have resources and riches beyond your imaginings. You – can’t – succeed.”
“And if you did slip through my fingers again what are the chances that I’d allow you any freedom after that? I’d keep you chained to our bed all day and to my side all night. Is it worth a few days of freedom, a small illusion of autonomy to end up as my slave instead of my lover?”
Angelus turned her to face him, bending to kiss the lone tear slipping down her cheek.
“Give me a chance, Cordelia. Let me have this weekend to show you that our life together doesn’t have to be endless misery. Two days with no preconceived notions of who we are, who we’re supposed to be. Just us, discovering each other without the bias of others coloring our view. If you’re right, if you truly can’t be happy with me than it won’t matter what I do and at least we’ll know where we stand. But if you’re wrong, and we can have everything – you have to be with me anyway, wouldn’t you even like to know if happiness is possible?”
“Two days; that’s all I’m asking for. They’ll be spent with me no matter what you choose, but can you be honest enough with me, with yourself to see what’s really there between us?”
A knock sounded at the door and Angelus released her, knowing that she’d need time to sift through all he’d told her. No matter what happened between them, the claiming, the courtship, the kidnapping, Cordelia was still shocked by every new demand. He knew that she used her denial to protect herself, to keep her faith in recapturing her old life. Hopefully this weekend would be the beginning of her understanding that her new life had more to offer than she thought and her acceptance that being with him would never be her choice; it was her destiny.
Opening the door Angelus relieved the hotel employee of the stack of boxes he was carrying. Setting them down on the bar, he called Cordelia over. Sitting sideways on one of the stools he pulled her to stand between his legs.
“Open the boxes Cordelia. Start with this one.”
Having been traumatized by Angelus’ gifts in the past, it was with hesitant movements that Cordelia untied the ribbon of the box that he had indicated. Pulling off the lid she was relieve to see colored fabric peeking out from the tissue paper wrapping. Peeling back the paper she removed a dress that unfurled to its full, floor length.
Her breath caught at the beauty of the gown in her hands. Red silk was smooth and cool against her palms as she examined the fitted, strapless dress. It was incredibly delicate and despite the circumstances under which it was given she couldn’t wait to try it on.
Looking down at Cordelia’s lovely face he smiled at the sparkle of excitement lighting her eyes and the flush of anticipation coloring her cheeks.
“Now the rest, baby.”
Reluctant to part with the captivating gown she nevertheless place it reverently back in the box. In the next package were sandals obviously dyed to perfectly match the gown he’d chosen. The final box was the smallest of the three, and removing the lid she was greeted an almost blinding array of lustrous jewels.
On a bed of white satin were two perfect tear drop earrings, encircled by a delicate bracelet, surrounded by a breathtaking necklace all of which featured a radiant display of exquisitely cut rubies.
Cordelia’s family had the good fortune to be quite wealthy, and yet she had never had any jewelry as fine as what she now held in her hands. Even the necklace her father had bought for her mother when she’d found him “breaking in” his new secretary wasn’t as incredible as this.
Despite what others might believe, Cordelia wasn’t shallow enough to forget who she was with or why she was there because of a few gifts, no matter their expense. She couldn’t be bought with fancy clothes or shiny baubles. But she was still a teenage girl; she still got excited by dressing up, by going somewhere nice. And she decided that tonight she wasn’t going to feel guilty about that. None of the mess her life had become was her fault. She’d been trying to do the right thing since she first laid eyes on that damn amulet.
Angelus was being honest when he said she didn’t have any choice about – well, about anything anymore. He was going to follow through with whatever plans he’d made for this weekend and he was going to drag her along with him. Was it wrong of her to want to make the best of things? Monday they’d be back in Sunnydale; him plotting to kill her friends and her planning her escape; she wondered how bad it would really be to steal this small amount of time and create a fleeting oasis in the desert of her existence. After all, being with Angelus felt like the most natural thing in the world. Every cell in her body vibrated with a sense of completion when he was near; when she heard his voice, felt his touch. The problem between them was never that she didn’t want him; it was that she didn’t want to want him. She didn’t want to need the animal who was slowly but surely dismantling her life and rebuilding it for his own pleasure.
But this weekend Angelus was here, with her. Which meant that he wasn’t in Sunnydale threatening her family, her friends. For two blissful days she didn’t have to worry about keeping everyone she knew alive to see another day. And that knowledge gave her enough peace of mind to allow her to pretend, for just a few days, a few hours, that she wasn’t a prisoner; that she didn’t have to fight. She was so tired and resting, for just a little while, didn’t seem like to much of a betrayal of her principles, her friends, herself.
Angelus slid gracefully from the stool and gave Cordelia a push towards their room.
“Go get ready, Cordelia.”
And even though he had sensed her acquiescence he was still slightly surprised as she scooped up the boxes and complied with no complaints.
Chapter Sixty Eight
Of all the tortures Angelus had inflicted on her Cordelia thought this might have been be the worst yet. She stifled a groan as the woman on the stage started screeching out yet another torturously long song in a language she wouldn’t even understand where it being spoken instead of bleated across the theater. Trying to be positive she considered that at least the struggle to prevent her ears from bleeding was distracting her from the mind numbing boredom that had previously consumed her.
“I’ve had lynchings that were more fun then this.”
Shocked eyes flew to meet his as she realized that he was just as miserable as she was.
“Thank God. I thought it was just my innate hatred of opera that was making this seem like an ice pick boring into my brain.”
Even though they were in a private box Angelus’ laughter carried to those around them and a chorus of shushing came their way. Dismissing the reprimands as unworthy of his attention he took Cordelia’s hand and brought it to his lips turning it over and placing a chain of tender kisses on the sensitive skin of her inner wrist.
“I could always eat the director.”
This time it was Cordelia’s laughter that rang out. But unlike the vampire she felt properly chastened by the glares aimed her way and promptly covered her mouth with her free hand to stifle the happy sound.
With twinkling eyes Angelus pulled Cordelia to her feet.
“Let’s blow this pop stand.”
Giggling again she let herself be led out of the opulent theater and to the valet who retrieved their car. Sliding through the door that being held for her, Cordelia settled herself wondering what was next on the agenda. If Angelus had plans he was keeping them to himself as he started the engine and pulled out onto the busy road.
The car was filled with a silence that was surprisingly companionable as opposed to the strained atmosphere that usually surrounded them. A half hour of traveling found them driving along the coast; a mesmerizing sight as the full moon’s silvery light was doubled as it’s reflection glinted off of the calm surface of the ocean.
Pulling off to the side of the road, Angelus exited the car and extracted a blanket from the depths of the trunk. Coming around and opening her door he once again grasped Cordelia’s hand leading her down the slight slope to the glistening sand.
A small, sharp cry escaped her lips as she was swung up into strong arms. Making his way closer to the water’s edge Angelus gently set her down as he spread out the blanket. After it was smoothed out to his satisfaction he lowered Cordelia down on it and joined her pulling her close into his side.
The coolness of his flesh through the crisp shirt of his tuxedo was nice against her skin on the unseasonably warm night. Leaning into him she sighed as his hands began to trace intricate patterns up and down her back.
As his lips captured hers, she didn’t even notice as he laid her down onto the soft blanket below. As her breasts were slowly exposed to his questing hands she realized that at some point Angelus had undone the zipper along the back of her dress.
Cordelia sighed into his mouth as his fingers found her nipples, tugging gently at the straining peaks. One hand abandoned its erotic task as it slid down exposing more of her skin as it went.
She groaned in disappointment as the other hand left her breast and slid around her pulling her up against him. She felt the slither of silk against her as her body was freed of its sleek confinement. She was once again pressed down as the hard body of the vampire covered her. Slowly he kissed his way down her writhing body in lazy circles covering ever inch of her exposed skin with reverent caresses.
As he came to the juncture of her thighs he grasped her firm legs easing them open. Making short work of the removal of her lacy panties, he could feel the waves of heat coming from her accompanied by the wonderful fragrance of her arousal and his mouth watered in anticipation. But determined to make these moments last he bypassed temptation and instead began laving the supple skin of her inner thighs. As her cries of passion change slowly to whimpers of frustration Angelus finally relented and moved to the center of her need. Extending his tongue he gently traced the curves and contours laid out before him.
They moaned in concert as his tongue made its way passed her dewy opening and buried itself deep within her grasping, velvet tunnel. His taste buds exploded with the heady flavor of her creamy essence as he pulled her tighter against him. Desperate to draw her into him, to fill himself with the taste, the feel of her, he devoured her, losing himself in her over and over again until her ecstasy reached a crescendo and he tore himself away needing to be deeper inside her.
Angelus wasn’t away from her for more than an instant before he was back plunging into her so deep she could feel him in her very soul. She felt his fingers tangle with hers as he stretched their arms out to the sides allowing their bodies to melt into one another, her softness and his strength merging to become one.
Never in all of their times together had she felt like this. She didn’t know if it was her decision to give him these few days or merely the beauty surrounding them, flowing through them, but something was different. She couldn’t put her finger on it and was really too enraptured by the perfect union of their bodies to try, but it was there and somewhere, deep in the furthest reaches of her mind a part of her had the good sense to be frightened.
As she thrust her hips forward over and over to crash into his, fire swept through her burning a path from their joining outwards until it overwhelmed her, searing every nerve ’til she was quaking with the force of its power.
“I love you, Angelus.”
Still shaking in the aftermath of such a mammoth explosion as the vampire drove into her finding his own release, it never occurred to her that he hadn’t had to ask for the words this time.
Chapter Sixty Nine
Cordelia felt good. In fact, she felt extremely good. Although she was loathe to admit it, and probably never would aloud, Angelus had been right. This weekend with him, she’d been happy. It wasn’t so much that she’d forgotten about the dangers inherent in her situation to both herself and her friends, it was just that everything she’d been told about the bond was proving to be correct. As soon as she’d let her guard down she was swamped with feelings which bordered frighteningly on love.
Being with Angelus been wonderful, as if she’d suddenly found something she hadn’t even known was lost; an integral part of herself without which she would never truly be whole. And that feeling had to be place squarely in the “Things That Are Definitely of the Bad” column, if for no other reason than it was making it nearly impossible to build back the walls she’d allowed so briefly to fall.
And the ride home wasn’t helping. Although the night was warm they were driving with the top down so Angelus had made sure to bundle her tightly in his heavy duster before placing her in the front seat. The gentle hum of the motor and the earthy scent of the vampire wrapped around her had her slipping downwards until Angelus had seen her scooching closer to the floor and pulled her over to rest on the seat with her head pillowed on his thigh.
As he began running a hand through her hair her eyes fluttered shut at the soothing sensations flooding through her. Unable to contain the instinctive reaction to press closer to the gentle caress she began to let her mind wander as she tried to unravel the confusing puzzle that had been her weekend.
If Saturday had been physically overwhelming Sunday was an emotional rollercoaster. It started when she awoke in an unusual situation – alone. Despite all of her normal complaints it was almost disturbing not to have him hovering over her or to be wrapped up in his strong arms. Turning over to locate the errant vampire her eyes instead encountered a beautiful crystal vase full of 12 variously colored tulips. The romantic gesture brought a warm blush to her cheeks as she recalled the last time he’d given her tulips. The memories of that night caused a cascade of conflicting emotions to the surface and deciding to stick with her plan of giving her brain the weekend off she determinedly pushed them down, concentrating on the beautiful flowers she loved so much instead of the mental game of chess in which she and Angelus were engaged.
Pulling out a beautiful blossom that appeared to be a living embodiment of fire with its red and golden hues Cordelia was unaware of the vampire’s silent entrance into the room. Startled by his voice so near she dropped the lovely bud as a tray was placed in front of her.
“Eat, Cordelia.” Angelus commanded as he pressed a soft, swift kiss on her upturned lips. “After you shower dress casually. We’re going out tonight.”
Before she could even begin an inquiry about his plans he was out of the door leaving her alone with her curiosity and an absolutely wonderful breakfast.
And the surprises hadn’t stopped coming. While Saturday had seen them in a theater for the ‘fine arts’, Sunday had seen them in a different type of theater – a movie theater.
She never would have figured the vampire for a film buff and his explanation for the outing stunned her.
“Cordelia, this – you and me, it doesn’t have to be all about sex…although a lot of it will be.” Angelus added with a playful leer. “When I said that I liked you I meant it. You’re more than a body, you’re a companion. You’re delightful in and out of bed. I told you that this weekend was about showing you what we could be, that you could be happy. Wouldn’t you like to do this all the time? To just spend time together enjoying each other? We can if you’d just let go, just give in. If you would only promise that you’d stay I’d believe you, Cordelia; you’d have so much more freedom. We could be so much more.”
And if she was honest with herself, which she always strove to be, she would have to admit that it had been fun. If one could overlook the wanton killing part of his personality he really was a charming escort. He was smart, witty, and his extremely advanced age made all of his stories spell-binding.
And a part of her had hated every minute.
This time together may have been truly enjoyable, but it was leading her down a dangerous path. Halfway through the movie she’d stopped paying attention to what was happening on the screen as a small voice, really a whisper in the back of her mind asked “What if you stayed?”
It wasn’t that one weekend of fun had overruled her common sense, but she’d begun to see just how strong their bond really was and how much more it would grow. And as that reality had slapped her in the face she’d started to wonder if she could at least submit on her own terms.
As much as it galled her to admit it her capitulation was starting to seem inevitable. It occurred to her that while she could still resist she might have some bargaining power. If she gave her word, if she kept it, maybe she could wring a promise from Angelus in return. If he guaranteed that he wouldn’t go after her friends or her family then maybe it would be okay to remain with him. Sure, he’d still be a killer, but he’d be that whether she was there or not; she couldn’t stop that. But if she could keep the people that she loved safe, then maybe, just maybe she could stay.