False Claims 7

Chapter Seven

As Angelus pulled Cordelia along behind him towards the exit, their progress was delayed by a fawning salesman. Eager to please an apparently frequent customer, he bowed immediately to Angelus’ demands that bill for Cordelia’s dress be sent to him.

The exchange between the men made Cordelia aware of just how much leather vampires actually wear. Curious about the phenomena she figured she’d never have a better chance to inquire than this. Well, she hoped to God she never had a better chance.

“So, what’s with all the leather? Is it a whole dead wearing the dead thing?”

Angelus hadn’t spent much time around the cheerleader now at his side, but he had a feeling that an endless supply of lifetimes would never be enough to grasp the workings of her mind.

“No, it’s more that when you’re going to be around for an eternity you want a wardrobe that’s fairly durable.”

“Well, that and leather pants make my ass look hot.”

Whoa boy, could Cordelia attest to that fact. Actually, if it hadn’t been for the coverage of his long, black duster, she’d be tempted to reconfirm that assessment right now.

Angelus didn’t even notice Cordelia’s surreptitious glances at his back side. Coming to a halt so abrupt that Cordelia ran headlong into his back, Angelus began to take note of the men on the street around them, running their filthy gazes over his property.

He may not have wanted to own Cordelia Chase, but that didn’t change the fact that she was his. For others to trespass, even visually, was a challenge he was hard pressed to ignore. In fact, if tonight was not of such great importance to his master plan, he would gladly rip the gawking eyes out of every man there, feasting on them, loudly, allowing them the full horror of their disrespect.

He slowly ran his eyes over each man, committing their faces to memory. Sunnydale was a small town and he was sure to run across these fools again when he had the time to make their deaths fittingly excruciating.

Until then he had to settle for a spine tingling growl that carried outward in all directions and the flash of his demonic face at those in question.

Sunnydale residents were almost purposefully unaware of the goings on in their little slice of Hell. Blissfully burying their heads in the sand they believed that what they didn’t know wouldn’t hurt them; a philosophy proven wrong time and time again.

Yet for all their denials, they still had the basic human instincts handed down from their cave dwelling ancestors. Like a hiker face with a mountain lion the men leering at Cordelia’s nearly nude form had the innate, primal understanding that they were facing a creature who could very well mean their death. And while the view would most likely be fodder for every masturbatory dream they ever had from this moment on, it was certainly not worth the death promised in the amber eyes and inhuman face scowling at them.

Cordelia, still trying to regain her footing on the high heels after such an unexpected stop was surprised by the noise emanating from the vampire in front of her.

Those thoughts were cleared from her mind momentarily and her world was suddenly made dark as heavy leather swirled around her. When the light returned she found herself tightly ensconced in Angelus’ duster.

Slightly confused by both his manner and the seemingly kind gesture, but grateful for the coverage the coat provided, she stared up into his face, still adorned with bony ridges and golden eyes.

“Thank you.” The words of gratitude were soft as Cordelia’s brow wrinkled in question. “What happened?”

As Angelus stared down into Cordelia’s concerned features he didn’t know how to explain to her that demons were not like humans. Humans are tied to civilities and conventions to dictate their behavior. They need some kind of traditional, external sign to know that a person was unavailable. A wedding ring was one of these symbols, clearly marking a person as “off limits” to others. Of course, even that minor protection was often violated.

With demons it was completely different. They were governed by instincts, not societal customs. They didn’t need visual cues to know what was acceptable and where boundaries lay.

Sure, he’d marked Cordelia in a highly visible place because he loved to see his brand on her every time he so much as glanced her way. The placing had been merely his preference and convenience. It certainly wasn’t necessary for the demon community at large. Angelus could have marked Cordelia anywhere – her full, thrusting breasts, her firm, gently curved stomach, the creamy interior of her thighs.

Starting to become aroused at the endless possibilities as he catalogued all of the places he could leave his mark on her delectable body, he dragged his thoughts back to the topic at hand.

The point was that the actual scarring wasn’t what warned off others of his kind. It was the scent. Every being carried their own scent, like DNA or a fingerprint.

When a vampire marked someone, he altered that scent to include his own. When the claim was made, the person became drenched in the new scent which was noticeable, even from a distance. Any demon who came across them would know, without question that they were definitely spoken for.

It wasn’t just a matter of respect that kept other demons from touching what wasn’t theirs; it was also the unpleasantness of being a creature of primal drives and having a pet that reeked of another.

The problem with humans is that they were too cultured and their sense to limited to appreciate a demon’s claim. A deficiency that often resulted in their deaths.

That was why Cordelia could wear such a costume tonight to the dinner they were attending. Because while to the humans it said, “Look at this.” To the demons it would say, “Look at this, it belongs to Angelus.”

Although these were absolutes in the demon world, driving truths about a society which Cordelia was now, albeit unwillingly, a part, he didn’t think that even she was ready for that kind of honesty tonight.

Angelus still needed her assistance, so it was probably better not to wind her up too much about demon culture before once more throwing her into it. Besides, she didn’t need to know.

Whether she was aware of it or not, she was covered in his essence. She’d never be able to walk into a room again without her very presence screaming to every demon there that she belonged to him. For now that was more than enough.

Seeing the concern still lingering on her face, he ran his fingers down the side and tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear. A wolfish smile crossed his face. “Only I get to look at you like this.”

Cordelia’s snort of disbelief at his reasoning was loud and indelicate.

“Yeah, you and every A’toreal demon on the Hellmouth.”

Angelus toyed again with the idea of explaining, but with time at a premium he simply resumed walking, pulling Cordelia reluctantly along.

Chapter 8

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