Season of Solace. 81

81:     The Crawford Street Mansion, Central Sunnydale

Angel stood staring at the closed bathroom door stunned that Cordelia had just beaten him at his own game. In her case, “Later,” sounded more like a promise to drive him crazy with wanting her.

On top of everything he was feeling tonight, it was like lighting a fire inside intended to consume him. He wanted to show her in more than mere words that her desire for him was returned, needed to feel her heart beating against him. All he had to do was go in there.

Listening, he heard her shuffling around behind the door. The cabinet doors opened and closed as she looked for the towels. Rollers on a drawer slid open and then water started to splash in the sink. Knowing the contents of the drawer, he guessed she was after the toothpaste and imagined her standing there thinking about using his toothbrush.

“There’s a new toothbrush in the cabinet behind you,” Angel called out to the door and then decided it was time to give her a little privacy. He heard her gasp, let out a gruff little growl and then move over to the cabinet.

“Are you sure you don’t have x-ray vision?” Cordelia called out letting the cabinet close with a bang.

Letting that one go, Angel figured he had time to change clothes before she returned. He could do with a shower, too, but there were other things that he needed to do if Cordelia was going to stay the night, and every night to come until he was convinced that she was safe from harm. He glanced back at the bed and figured he would have to drag one of the chaise lounges in for himself.

Angel hung his leather coat in the closet and started on the buttons of his shirt. He normally did not wear anything to bed. With Cordelia around, he figured he better opt for boxers or sweats. Not tonight, though. Planning to change into a clean shirt and pants, he knew that he needed to be ready for anything. The demon managed to track Dru for quite some time before finally losing the trail, and Angel still did not know how he had managed to find Cordelia at Bev’s place.

For all they knew, he was aware of Cordelia’s associations and might find his way here. It was a remote possibility, but Angel was not going to take chances. The mansion itself was wide open to attack. Starting tomorrow, he would need help to secure it.

Stripping off his shirt, Angel noticed that the shower had not come on yet. All he heard was muffled cries coming from behind the door accompanied by the soft shifting of the layers of her dress rubbing against each other. Just when he was about to approach the door, it flew open to reveal Cordelia teary-eyed, frustrated and ready to scream. She stalked out of the bathroom heading directly for him while holding up the long skirt of her gown with both hands.

Stopping arms distance away, she dropped her hold letting it flounce back to the floor. “This dress is evil,” she announced and sniffed away the last of her tears.

“Definitely wicked,” Angel muttered in agreement though he had a feeling she meant something different. “Problems?”

It took a moment for his words to sink in. She had not expected to find him half naked and the experience was a little distracting as her flustered gaze traveled down his bare chest. With a slow blink, she realized Angel knew she was staring.

Turnabout was definitely fair play in her book. “Problems? Oh! Yes. Dress. Evil. I need help.” Cordelia pointed toward the overly snug bodice and Angel’s eyes took their time lingering over the curves. “The top is too tight to pull down,” she told him, “I can’t yank it over my head and I can’t reach all of the buttons.”

If she had a pair of scissors, Cordelia would have cut her way out she so wanted to be rid of the dress. It reminded her of Drusilla and that made her think about Bev. She did not want to think about Bev tonight. This had already turned into the worst day of her life. She could not take one more rotten thing even if it was just a dress with a thousand evil buttons.

“Turn around.” The order rubbed at her frayed nerves making her want to defy that simple request even if it got her what she wanted. Though, that was not all she wanted if the antsy, anxious feelings building up inside her had anything to say about it. An hour of crying under a hot shower might take care of it, or spending it being distracted from reality just by being held in Angel’s arms.

Slowly, Cordelia turned around, glancing at Angel over her shoulder. A gasp escaped as she saw the way he looked at her with that sinful stare and crooked smile. Just that was enough to cause hot licks of fire in her belly. He had not made a move to touch her yet, and when he did, it was only to let the tips of his fingers slide through her hair.

Cordelia eyes fluttered closed at the sensation. All he did was smooth her hair over her shoulder, but the simple touch seemed to ignite something inside her. Having his hands on her right now might not be the wisest idea. She waited for his next touch anticipating the buttons coming undone so she could escape this sudden need to press her palms against his skin, her lips against his throat.

Her hands fluttered nervously at her belly then moved up to gather the hair he had tucked over her shoulder, the repetitive motions somehow so soothing. Angel moved closer. He was right behind her now, just inches away. His hand stroked up her spine, fingertips brushing over the open buttons she’d been able to reach and passing over the rest.

Then his hands were at her shoulders massaging the tension he found there to send shockwaves down to the point between her thighs. “Angel.” It came out on a moan and Cordelia was not certain what she was asking for, whether it was for more or less of his tantalizing touch.

The lightest stroke of his fingertips between the open top buttons of the gown moved to the closed vee. He felt cool against the fiery heat of her skin. There was an unmistakable pop as one button opened and the back of her gown was peeled just the tiniest bit more. Repeatedly, she felt the slide of Angel’s fingers on her spine until he reached the few at the bottom that she had managed to undo on her own.

The slightest hint of a tortured moan escaped Angel’s throat as that last button popped open to reveal the smooth curves of her back from her elegant neck all the way down to the shadowy cleft of her bare bottom. He thought of what they had been through tonight and what she had whispered in his ear. Despite his rampant arousal and the fact that he could scent hers, Angel knew it would be better to ignore it.

Now that he had accomplished his task, conquering the evil buttons, Angel knew that he should stop touching her warm, silken skin. Any gentleman would step away without a lustful thought, but even as a human, gentlemanly behavior had never been a priority. The opposite was more his routine. At the moment, his nerves were too frayed to fight the urge to stay close. He could not move away from her, instead leaning in to kiss the curve of her neck.

“You’re so beautiful.”

Angel curved his hands around her waist pulling her back against him. Warm skin, silk and the nubs of those pearl buttons pressed into his bare chest, but the contact also brought her taut bottom up against his arousal. Her gasp turned into a tempting little moan as he rocked forward in response.

“Did you mean what you said earlier?” Angel’s nose nudged her ear, his words a caress across her cheek.

Cordelia turned in his arms, the dress gaping dangerously low until she looped her arms around his neck. She did not pretend to misunderstand him. “Yes. Are you ever gonna shut up and kiss me?”

With that irreverent form of permission, Angel pressed his lips to hers, planting a slow, hungry kiss across her mouth.


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