The pressure of his fingers tightened just a fraction as they moved against her skin sliding across smooth angles, bone and sinew in ways that trapped her breath in her throat. Cordelia sank lower into the cushions, pressing against the arm of the couch. Squirming only brought her closer.
Escape was not an option. Not from him.
From the moment Angel sat down on the opposite end of the couch, she knew she was in big trouble. He’d turned at an angle, his wide shoulders taking up space, one arm stretched out across the back, a knee bent toward her making dark shadows in his lap where his pants creased so intriguingly.
Not that she’d intended to check that out. It was impossible not to look, impossible to resist the display.
Like warm honey her gaze moved slowly across his torso, lingering along every line where the dark blue shirt draped his chest, and pausing at the vee of skin exposing his throat. The bump of his Adam’s apple distracted her when the memory of running her warm tongue across it came to mind, and nibbling her way up to his ear.
Cordelia licked her lips, the taste of him still fresh in her memory. She could not think of that now, not in the middle of such torture. It only played into his hands.
Oh, God. Now his fingers moved constantly, thumbs sliding into the crease of a joint and increasing the pressure. A shudder hit, uncontrollable. This was not even close to how she’d envisioned their argument coming to an end. She remembered the wicked smile curling one corner of his mouth and the dark glint of unbreakable will.
That should have warned her.
Or hinted that Angel was not backing down.
Too late, she now knew the expected groveling at her feet wasn’t going to happen. Nor would she be hearing: I’m so sorry, Cordy. You were right. Just like you’re always right. I’ve been a stubborn, insensitive, over-protective pain-in-the-ass. Tell me what I can do to make up for being such a jerk.
Nope. Those words? Not in her future anytime soon.
Once their eyes met, Cordelia could not look away. He held her with that intense stare as if daring her to say something defiant to force his hand. He was ready for another fight if she would give him one. Oh, she was ready to wipe that smirk off his handsome face.
Maybe she had already decided that he would not be exiled to the couch tonight, but he had no way of knowing that. “I hope you’re comfortable over there,” she said with a singsong threat. Tossing a couch cushion into his lap, “You’ll be here a while.”
Angel’s brow creased and the confident smirk slid away into a firm line. He flicked a glance toward the book she held before searching her eyes for further meaning. She gave him credit for suspecting the truth, but laughed when he asked, “Research?”
Stretching out one leg, Cordelia nudged his knee with her bare foot. “That’s not what I meant,” she gave him a deadpan stare that told him he should know better than to ask.
Before she could slide her leg back into its tucked position Angel’s hand shot out to hold her foot in place, pulling it into his lap and settling it comfortably onto the cushy pillow she’d tossed his way. She was suspicious for a moment and held her breath as she waited for the tickling to begin, but the hand resting on the top of her foot didn’t budge.
Relaxing, Cordelia stretched out her other leg and wiggled her toes as she propped both feet up. Maybe this situation was not going to be as tense as she imagined. The cloth draped over her lap had shifted. She readjusted it propping the book back in the center as she waited for Angel to speak.
No way was she apologizing for any part of what happened downstairs before he said something first. That continual stare of his was driving her crazy. “Argh! Do you have any idea how unfair it is that you don’t need to blink?”
Just as her eyelids fluttered shut, eyes watering, she caught Angel’s mouth quirk at one corner. The hand on her skin stroked soothingly along her lower leg and back down to the top of her foot. Just that slight touch made her temperature jump up a notch, or maybe it was just the cool press of his skin on hers that made it feel like it was on fire.
There was no way he was going to start something here. Not with Wesley here in the room. Besides, she did not want to talk about it. Now that her plans were set, talking about it might spoil them. There was always the chance that Angel had something up his sleeve to talk her out of it. Though his form of convincing her to do anything was usually physical; one touch from him and she was putty.
Angel’s hand moved across the bridge of her foot, thumb sloping down to stroke the arch. Just as she was starting to enjoy it and her eyes were drifting shut, she heard, “We need to settle this, Cordy.”
Whatever happened to the days where he barely said a word and kept his hands to himself? Oh, yeah. She had cured him of that.
Instead of opening her eyes, Cordelia wriggled her toes, encouraging him to keep on rubbing. He did, but annoyingly enough did not drop the conversation. “You’re used to having the freedom to do anything you want. To go anywhere. I’m not trying to take away that independence.”
So why did she feel like a caged bird these days? “That’s easy for you to say when you can skulk around town all you want.”
“I don’t skulk.”
Cordelia gave him a hard stare, but his eyes dropped away to follow the path of his hands as they moved across her feet. Light strokes deepened to gentle rubs, steady and sure across pressure points she didn’t know existed. Nice. Far better than nice. Damn good. Too good to make him stop.
The book fell from her nerveless fingers into her lap as her body shifted deeper into the couch cushions. A sigh erupted shakily from her throat drawing his gaze back to hers. He looked determined, hungry for something more than just her, and she could feel it in his touch.
It might have been intended to relax her, but it did not. Already on edge, her nerves jittered under her skin. Wanting more. Wanting less. It was not really an option. Not when Angel was using every trick in the book to get her to do what he wanted. Fat chance. Besides, there was a limit to what he could try with Wesley still being in the room.
When Angel’s hands moved above her left ankle to curve around her calf, fingertips pressing deeper and sliding upward toward the curve of her knee, she scooted even further down the couch until her head lay upon on the pillowed armrest. The growing urge to touch herself while he was touching her made her fidget. Her teeth clamped down on her lower lip as she bit back a moan.
“This won’t work.” Cordelia bent her free leg and poked him in the side with her toe.
Angel looked hurt by the accusation. “You don’t like it? I’ll stop.” Yet somehow those big hands kept moving of their own accord.
A loud harrumph sounded nearby. Wesley. For a fraction of a second, Angel’s fingers paused on their slow journey north. Hidden by the position of the couch, Cordelia’s eyes darted in the watcher’s general direction before centering on Angel to silently remind him that they were not alone.
“I’m supposed to be helping Wes. You’re distracting me.” Any other day she would love this kind of distraction. Not today. Not when she was determined to find a little freedom.
“By the way, Wesley,” Angel called out without letting his gaze stray from Cordelia’s face, “I noticed that you’ve got a black ash moustache on your face. Careful or you’ll smear those documents. Originals, aren’t they?”
A horrified gasp filled the air. “My word, how did that get there?” Chair legs scraped the floor. There was a scurry of feet in the direction of the door. Ten seconds was all it took to make Wesley vacate the room.
Cordelia nearly called out to stop him, but she was mesmerized by the dark glint of male satisfaction showing in Angel’s eyes. He’d run off the competition. Gotten the girl. Planned to do wicked things with her.
Oh, crap. Angel didn’t fight fair.
Nervous excitement caused her to shudder. “We’re alone.”
“Looks that way.”
The tone of his voice remained deep and even as he stroked both hands along her leg each time inching higher. Cordelia resisted the temptation to part her thighs to him knowing he would take what she offered. He would touch her just how he knew she liked to be touched. Those knowing fingers sliding deep inside, his thumb rubbing at the right angle to drive her wild.
“You think a little massage is going to make me change my mind?” That would have sounded harsher if she had not closed her eyes and moaned afterward.
“No.” At least he was not completely deluded. “You’re like a little dog with a big bone; too stubborn to give it up.”
Cordelia smirked, “Ignoring the fact that you just compared me to a dog, I do love a good bone.”
Fingers paused along their wayward path as her meaning sunk in. Cordelia watched Angel’s eyes go dark, turn hungry and stare back as if that look alone could devour her whole. His gaze flicked toward the door calculating the time they had before Wes returned.
“We should finish this conversation upstairs,” Angel’s voice thickened, his Adam’s apple bobbing when he swallowed reflexively.
Like that would result in any kind of conversation. Not. Flexing into a sitting position, Cordelia shook her head. She picked up the cloth covering her lap and the book with it and walked on her knees across the length of the couch until she reached Angel. He scooted over a bit to allow her to straddle his thighs.
She sat down, still holding the cloth and the book, trying to look serious when all she really wanted to do was kiss and make up. Angel started to move a hand toward her face, but Cordelia reared back just enough to put him off.
“No, don’t touch me.”
The hand moved back to its place on the curved arm of the couch. Angel tossed her own words back at her. “I thought you were more of a yes person.” They came with a hint of a smoldering smile that tempted her to press her lips to the already faded gash her teeth had left across his mouth.
“If you touch me I won’t be able to think straight,” she confessed. “You won’t be able to think at all. So keep your hands to yourself for a minute.”
Unable to deny it, Angel let her talk.
“You got it wrong down in the basement. I never meant for you to believe that I was planning to walk out on you.” Cordelia kept her hands on the book to steady herself. She wanted to be calm about this, to make Angel see reason.
Angel blinked when he did not have to. For an instant, she thought his eyes glistened, but it might have been a trick of the light. His face closed up again returning to that stony state where his emotions were on lockdown.
“This is all too much, Angel. I have been trying to be strong. So much has happened all at once. You and me. The prophecy. Bev. Living here with our exes watching over us like a pair of rabid…clowns,” she struggled for a description. “It’s important to me to have some time away from all this.”
He opened his mouth to speak, but Cordelia’s hand lifted to cup his cheek effectively asking for silence.
“I need time with you. It doesn’t have to be the Bronze or the mall or anywhere that you think is too dangerous to go. Give me a break from this crazy place.”
The dark veil of his lashes closed down over his eyes as Angel shut them. It closed her off from his reaction, his thoughts, and she failed to stop from trembling at the idea that he might once again deny her a taste of freedom. Short of chaining her to the bed like they had joked, a no would only lead to her defiance. Something Cordy knew might be bad for the two of them, but something she had to do.
Either he was with her or she would do this alone.
At the slight shutter of her fingers against his skin, Angel opened his eyes, looking more uncertain than she had ever seen him. He reached up slowly with both hands tangling in her hair, cupping her head gently in contrast to his tight hold during their frantic clutch in the basement. “Yes.”
“Yes?” Squeeing, she threw her arms around him hugging him tight until the edges of the book poked into their ribs. Angel reached in to drag it out tossing it onto the couch beside them. “I love you so much. Where are we going? When can we leave? Do I have to pack?”
“Not so fast,” Angel tried to caution her not to get too excited. “Let me think about it tonight. We’ll do something tomorrow.”
That sounded fair. He was not trying to put her off, just plan something nice. Cordelia knew this was probably a one-shot deal considering the state of things to come. She planned to enjoy every second.
Cordelia loved the feel of his arms around her, but pulled back just enough to see his face. The sight of her fingerprints darkening Angel’s jaw caused a double take, but she was not going to let a little grunge get in the way of her celebration. “Looks like I left my mark on you more than once today.”
“Um, speaking of—,” her kiss cut him off. Whatever he had to say could wait because she no longer saw any reason to resist the urge to taste him.
Right there where her anger had taken its toll she pressed her lips to his. Soft and full of potential like the first raindrop of a summer storm. An uneven spattering of lightning kisses followed wherever her lips landed next. Electrifying. Charged by the energy of triumph and a hint of forgiveness.
Cordelia paused for a breath, stared hungrily at his mouth again, wanting it. Drawn in as Angel whispered her name, she took him open-mouthed in a slow and steamy caress. Spread across his thighs, her hips hitched up closer writhing anxiously in an unintentional lapdance, she shifted against him branding him with her heat. A grunt caught in his throat, his hands snagging her hips to pull her to his cock. The layers of clothing between them were an irritant.
Losing it completely, shaking with need, she plundered his mouth and rubbed against the fast growing bulge, the friction against her mound driving her delirious. Pleasure streaking through every nerve. Making her want more.
Sliding a hand between their tightly knit bodies Cordy palmed him through his jeans. Angel looked at her through half-slitted eyes, watching desire lighting her face. “We don’t have time for this,” he growled warning her that they had to stop.
She whimpered against his mouth. “No.” Not in agreement, but more of a desperate denial that they had to stop.
Even now she could hear Wesley’s shoes clomping loudly at the far end of the hall. It was not fair. They were never alone anymore.
“When I finally get you to myself, Angel, we’re going to pick up right here,” her hand clutched him firmly. It was much better than making him sleep on the couch. Call it a reward for making the right decision.