Season of Solace. 117

117:     The Factory, Westside, Sunnydale

“Tell your sire to back off,” Angel’s growl added to the underlying threat. His fangs were inches away, jagged and gleaming white against his bloodied lip.

Simultaneously terrified and turned on, Isobel focused on the red clot and shuddered at the thought of licking that small wound clean, tasting the power of his blood. Her tongue seductively traced the seam of her lips, but he seemed immune to her beauty and all too obvious interest.

The threat was real and she was no different in his eyes than the minions he had already defeated. Suddenly Isobel was afraid. She should lie to him, she considered. Tell him anything. But the truth might also sway his resolve.

“Angelus,” she tugged hard trying to wrest out of his hold. It served only to bruise her delicate ivory skin. Her voice still sounded husky, “We both know what he will say. Nothing will get in the way of his goals, not even you. I do not want you as our enemy. Forget the girl. Join us.”

Anger poured off him in waves, intense emotion and aggression darkening his eyes. He could break her if he tried. The bruising hold was nothing compared to his full strength. Even now, he was in control of his actions, but one wrong move might prove deadly.

Part of her wanted to see how far he would take this, entice him to further violence. Seduce him. He had already proven he was not easily swayed by her charms. Isobel was not the type to give up easily when it came to getting something she wanted.

It would not be easy, she sensed. He was obviously worked up about his human pet, if that was truly what Cordelia Chase was to him. Isobel was not stupid enough to think this was all about Spike. Not with the reputed history between Angelus and the rest of his clan. For now, there was no choice but to listen to Angel’s demands.

The next words out of his mouth confirmed one theory. “Stay away from Cordelia. If I catch you, your sire or your hired mercenary anywhere near her, Drusilla or anyone else under my protection I will take it very personally. Understand?”

He let her go so suddenly that Isobel stumbled back barely catching her balance. Her hand went to her wrist massaging away the dull pain, but she enjoyed the lingering sensation of Angel’s touch. A glance toward Spike suggested he was waiting for his grandsire to lose his cool. Isobel could feel the tension from there, simmering under the surface.

“It’s you who fails to understand, Angelus,” she refused to call him by the shortened version of his name. It only served to distract Isobel from her plan to convince him to join them.

One thing she would offer truthfully. “The Crosathnam is dead. My sire killed him for his incompetence.”

Angel took a step closer, his voice softening dangerously again, “Will Nico be equally displeased with you?”

“Doesn’t bloody matter,” Spike cut in reminding them of his plans to put a dusty end to Isobel for the torture she had put him through. They both ignored his rants, “Let me loose,” as he struggled against his bonds.

Angel had some reason for allowing her to warn Nicolau. Apparently, the fact that his childe’s uncouth progeny wanted revenge was not high on his list of priorities. The girl was his focus and, as of now, Isobel’s, too, and not just because of the prophecy. Who was to say there could not be a little fun before the final sacrifice? It made her wonder what it was like for Darla back in the days of sharing victims with Angelus.

For Isobel it was exciting to have someone warm and squirming between herself and Nicolau, crying in fear, pleading for freedom, for one last chance at life. “What is she like, your Cordelia Chase? Warm, vivacious, full of life, as beautiful as her photograph?”

His jaw clenched, the muscles working as Angel bit back a reaction, the only outward sign of his anger. All that raw power was just roiling under the surface. She wanted to experience it, but knew her curiosity had gone too far this time.

Hot jealousy stirred inside her as Angel barked, “Get out before I change my mind.”

“Bloody hell. I’ve got a permanent score to settle with Blondie,” Spike’s outrage was evident, but Isobel was more interested with the way Angel reacted to her interest in his pet. There was something more to it than protecting property. She had a notion that Cordelia Chase was everything she described and more.

Isobel was unused to men thinking about anyone else when she was interested in gaining their attention. Nicolau would initially be amused by the news that the great Angelus had turned down her advances. Then he would be angry that she did not persuade him to join them.

The promise of wealth and true power did not sway him to give up the girl as a sacrifice. It had to be more that mere possessiveness. As Isobel scrutinized Angel’s motives, she came to a startling conclusion that left her wide-eyes when the idea hit.

“You have feelings for her.” Having backed away, her footsteps taking her closer to the door, she stopped short realizing that Angel was not merely obsessed with his pet. He was in love with her. That went against everything she knew about Angelus, but she knew the power of love. Warning him, “The outcome will be the same. Cordelia Chase must be sacrificed as prophesized.”

That was a fact as far as Isobel could say. Nicolau might wish to put aside any scores that required settling between their clans and accept Angelus as one of them, but he would never ignore the prophecy. It was the one thing that had driven their kinsmen for hundreds of years. Now that they were on the brink of its fruition, nothing would get in their way. Not Angelus and certainly not his precious pet from Sunnydale.

“Get out, Isobel,” ordered Angel one last time. “You’ve said more than enough. Take the message to your sire and hope he has the sense to leave Sunnydale.”

Defiantly, Isobel raised her chin a notch to vow, “We will prevail with or without you. Nicolau is determined to gain what has been promised when this prophecy is fulfilled.”

“There’s a difference between stupidity and determination. Nico has always confused one for the other.”

Snapping, “Bastard,” she took another step back only to yelp in surprise as a hand wrapped around her ankle.

It was Tomas.

He lay supine on the floor, a mass of bruised and bloodied flesh, broken. Isobel had always had a soft spot for the younger vampire who fulfilled her every whim, often while risking Nicolau’s ire.

“Don’t leave me with them,” he woefully begged to be taken back to the lair failing to understand how completely useless he was to her right now.

Isobel crouched low to take his hand in hers. Whispering a soft promise, “I will take care of you.” She glanced over at Angel who stood cross-armed, legs braced apart, glowering and waiting for her to comply with his demand. Maybe he suspected what she was up to, but he did not make a move to stop her.

Pressing Tomas’ hand across his chest, she firmly gripped his arm. Before he could react Isobel tossed his body onto one of the overturned table legs jutting up from the floor. An explosive burst of dust clouded the air. She had taken care of him as promised.

When it settled Isobel was standing by the door. “Farewell, Angelus. The next time we meet I suggest you give me what I want— or there will be consequences.”

Scene 118

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