Mercenary Hearts 12

Sunnydale Main Street. (Mon Lunchtime)

Since they both had free periods for the rest of the day, Cordy and Tara discussed what to do with their spare time.

They were recurrently sitting outside a quaint little Italian Restaurant having lunch al fresco. Cordy had frequented the place for quite a few years, and doubted any other could top their amazing food. She related her telephone conversation with her father the night before.

It was good news to hear they were getting back soon, but… “Lately, home seems so… empty. Fair enough, Rosa is around until five, but then I’m on my own till eight in the morning.”

“But I thought you were used to being alone – preferred it, even?” Personally, Tara hadn’t known any different in a long time. Even when her father and brother were home, she’d always felt isolated. Among other things. Now being totally independent, she couldn’t imagine anything better.

“Yeah, you’re right.” Leaning her chin on her hand, Cordy told how she’d locked the door of her bedroom the night before. “Maybe it’s all this stuff Giles has been banging on about this past week. For some reason, it’s really got to me this time round.”

Tara swallowed the mouthful of fettuccine then suggested: “I could stay over tonight i-if you like-” grinning happily when Cordy almost squealed with delight at the idea.

“Ohmigod! We could have a girl’s night! Talk about secret little crushes and stuff, ‘cause hey,” she faked a pout, “we don’t have any significant others to trash–talk.”

They both laughed, excited, then talked over plans for the rest of the day.


Sun Cinema, State Street. (Mon Early Evening)

The two young women were laughing and chatting about the movie they’d just watched as they exited the cinema, completely oblivious to the admiring glances they attracted by a couple of youths who walked out behind them.

During lunch, Cordy and Tara had discussed at length their plans for the rest of the day, and agreed on finishing off a due Psyche paper at Cordy’s home before heading off to watch a movie. Then it all would be finished off with an evening of good food and a little gossip.

Deciding earlier not to succumb to the temptation that was takeout, Cordy had begged Rosa to make her divine arroz con pollo and accompanying pan de yuca for dinner before the housekeeper left for the night. 

Since Rosa normally put the dinner menu together in advance, Cordy had promised to wash up and tidy the kitchen when they got back from watching a movie. On hearing that, Rosa was more than happy to oblige.


“I can’t believe I missed it first time round,” Cordy exclaimed. But then, in the past, she’d rarely bother to watch a movie without Keanu Reeves or Jude Law somewhere in it.

Tara had actually squealed a bit on seeing that The Princess Bride was on a replay. She’d begged Cordy to watch it with her. “You’ll love it, trust me,” she promised, almost jumping on the spot in excitement when her friend acquiesced.

“It has to be one of my all-time favorite movies,” Tara admitted with a happy smile as they later strolled along the sidewalk towards the new multi-story car lot at the end of State Street.

Since the new mayor had decided to revamp the street, making it pedestrian-friendly, vehicles weren’t allowed to park on it. At least they’d waited for the new car lot to be built first. Still, it meant walking the length of the street to get to it. They were discussing their favorite scenes and hardly noticed that it had gotten dark quickly since exiting the theater.

“What did you think of Prince Humperdinck?” Tara asked, chuckling, and then faltered when noticing a black-clad figure out of the corner of her eye leaning against a lamp post further along the street. “Cordy,” she indicated with her head, rather than pointing a rude finger. “We’ve got company,” she whispered, suddenly nervous.

Cordy, who’d been laughingly giving her opinion on the ‘evil’ prince, automatically followed Tara’s troubled gaze, and stopped in mid-sentence when recognition hit. It was the vampire who’d surprisingly helped her out the other night. She felt a frisson of unexpected excitement as their eyes met; quickly replaced by growing fear when he straightened up from the lamp post.

Almost on instinct, Cordy moved to stand slightly in front of her friend as he approached with lithe grace. Grabbing the stake that was always in her purse since finding out vampires were real, she brandished it and warned him: “That’s close enough, fangy.” Cordy was glad to find that her voice didn’t hold the fine tremor that afflicted the hand tightly holding the stake. God, when had it got so dark? She wondered fretfully.  Lost in the moment of happy normality, they’d both missed the telltale shadows when they’d left the cinema and started their leisurely stroll.

After the gory history lesson given by Giles about the past exploits of the infamous vampire, Angelus and his cohort Spike, the last thing she wanted was for him to know just how scared she was. He’d probably get a kick out of it, Cordy thought, her wide eyes intent as she watched him get ever closer.

With less than ten feet between them, Angel came to a halt.  Pushing his stylish leather duster aside, he casually slid large pale hands into his pants pockets. “It isn’t wise to be out at night,” he finally spoke. His dark eyes swept over her from the top of her head to her instantly curling bare toes that peeked out of her delicate slim-heeled sandals. “I thought you’d know that better than most.”

Cordy’s hackles instantly rose at his subtle admonishment, even as his low, sexy voice sent tingles down her spine. “It’s not like we’re alone,” she sharply retorted, glancing pointedly around, and then realized that the street was now deserted. Well, crap.

Cordy swallowed hard as he advanced a little more before stopping a mere few feet away.  In the well-lit pedestrian zone, she was now able to see that his dark eyes were, in fact, a yummy Belgian chocolate brown.

A stifled sigh left her as she wondered if there was anything that wasn’t gorgeous about his appearance. Even his pale, flawless complexion suited him; a stunning combination with his dark hair and eyes… that were currently gazing at her with a tinge of humor.

So busy ogling that it took her a moment to realize that her fear levels had ebbed. Thinking on it, she came to the conclusion that as he’d saved her life before, why would he want to kill her now?

Feeling more confident, she lowered the tightly held stake- but kept it in her hand, just in case she’d got it wrong. “What are you doing out of your bat cave anyway?” she asked, a little off-kilter at being caught checking him out.

Angel grinned at her, obviously finding her choice of words amusing. Damn it, the smile only increased the gorgeousness of his face. “Last time I checked, it was a public area,” he replied, and then continued before she could respond. “Watch anything good?” he indicated the movie theater at the end of the street.

Cordy stubbornly refused to answer his question, not that sure that she wanted him to know their business. Then her head snapped round to stare at Tara in surprise when she responded with, “The P-Princess Bride.”

The very fact that her friend had overcome her usual shyness around strangers -especially in circumstances such as this, was truly impressive. Although her timing was a bit off, she thought with a slight grimace.

“Have you seen it?” Tara went on to politely ask him.

Cordy couldn’t stop the short laugh that left her mouth at the thought. “I seriously doubt it, Tara.” A single fine brow arched in mild scorn. “In between hunting and snacking on humans, when would a vampire have the time for a romantic comedy?”

“Actually, I went to see it once.” Both brows lifted at his reply, and Angel shrugged. “I like watching movies.”

“But it’s a chick flick,” she explained, surprised by his admittance.

“It has pirates, monsters, and a man who was only nearly dead,” Angel smirked. “What’s not to love?”     

“But you’re not just an everyday neighborhood vampire.” Cordy couldn’t get her head around it. He seemed so different compared to Giles earlier descriptions of his persona. “We do know who you are,” she declared, feeling especially odd him striking up a casual conversation about movie interests. “You’re Angelus, the Scourge of Europe.”

His brown eyes widened for a split second before he responded. “Angel.”

“Huh?” Her confusion caused a small furrow to form between her brows.

“My name. It’s Angel,” he clarified, his expression now a little guarded.

Cordy’s chin tilted up as she replied with an outwardly uninterested air, even as she thought privately that it suited him better. “Angelus, Angel,” she shrugged carelessly. “Same difference from where I’m standing,” instinctively taking a hurried step back when his hands abruptly left his pockets.

“Oh, I think you’d notice the difference, sweetheart.” Cordy’s pulse raced as Angel’s softly spoken words held the slightest hint of menace. Then, as if sensing her sudden anxiety, his tone lost all traces of it when he spoke again. “But you have nothing to worry about,” he gravely assured.

Cordy became so lost in the strangely regretful cast of his eyes that she hadn’t realized he’d stepped closer – until, out of nowhere, a faint gold shimmer ringed those soft brown irises as his narrowed gaze turned towards her friend. “You’re a witch.” It was said almost casually, but he was close enough for Cordy to pick up the sudden slight tension in his imposing frame.

Although he hadn’t moved, she instinctively pressed her palm against his middle and attempted to push him back a bit. “Haven’t you heard of personal space?” Cordy deliberately kept her voice even. “Because right now, you’re standing in mine!” She wasn’t sure what his issue was, but it was enough to put her on edge. It hadn’t helped that her quick move had caused her to drop the stake. Just great, jeeze!

She was inching sideways in an attempt to plant herself fully in front of Tara when he unexpectedly stepped back. It was only a small gap but enough for her to let out a breath of relief. The gold tinge had completely disappeared when he glanced back down at her. “I can smell her power.” Angel’s voice still held a trace of tension, enough for Cordy to keep her hand firmly where it was.

“Well, your doggy nose must be on the blink ‘cause Tara’s not a witch!” The lie left her mouth with ease, not caring that he obviously knew it, going by the sudden lift of his dark brows.

“I wasn’t going to bite her if that’s what you were thinking,” Angel replied with a faint smirk.

“Says the evil vampire in front of two yummy humans” Cordy retorted hotly, pointing her finger so close it almost touched his nose, causing his smirk to widen into a full-blown smile.

“Yummy?”  A hint of amusement swirled the chocolatey depths of his eyes, and she flushed a little in response. Hoo boy.  He was definitely dangerous- and not just because he was a blood-sucking vampire.

A slight twitch that tickled her palm had her looking down, and she was reminded of the fact that not only was her hand still pressed firmly against his abs, but that her traitorous fingers had been unconsciously flexing like kitten paws on a silk cushion; which had caused those totally ripped muscles to tense. The blush already tinting her cheekbones spread in hot mortification as she hurriedly pulled her evilly groping hand away.

“I haven’t fed on humans for a long time.” His next words had her head lifting sharply in surprise. He moved back a little more, muscular arms folding across his broad chest. “I don’t kill them either; not since…” Angel paused, and his eyes lost focus.

Cordy was so intent on the vampire, busy trying to make sense of his words, that she actually jumped at the sudden sound of Tara’s voice. “Romania!” She’d blurted out. Cordy glanced at her and watched as her eyes locked with Angel’s suddenly alert gaze.

“The gypsies, Cordy,” Tara reminded her. “They used strong magicks. I can sense it in you,” she told him.

Looking back and forth between the two of them, Cordy felt clueless. “What am I not getting here?”

Angel finally shifted his gaze from her friend and gave an almost imperceptive shake of his head before responding. “The Kalderash cursed us with souls.”


Romania. 1898

The acrid stench of fear hung in the air like a pall. Angelus’ mouth watered copiously, impatient to push aside the pleasantries Darla loved so much.

“We decided today was our boys’ treat,” she purred softly into his ear, slim pale arms wrapped around his thick neck, her body plastered against him.

He gave her a cursory glance then looked over her fair head impatiently, attempting to see what had assailed his senses so deliciously from the moment he’d entered the building, but Drusilla blocked his view as she literally danced on the spot; her glittering eyes widening with excitement when the door behind him opened and her loved one entered.

“My Spike is finally here and now the party can begin!” She clapped her hands with glee. “Can we let them open their presents now?” Her delicate face turned towards Darla, feral excitement twisting her pretty features. The blonde shook her head and twining arms tightened, thin fingers threading through Angelus’ hair to tug demandingly.

“All in good time, my sweet, but first I want my boy to greet me in a proper manner.” China blue eyes gazed into his expectantly, and with an inward growl of building impatience, he brought his head down and brutally devoured her scarlet painted mouth.

Spike peered around the brunette and grinned with sheer delight. “Ahh, Dru, you’ve truly outdone yourself tonight. However shall I repay you, for such a precious gift?” Striking dark brows wriggled deliberately, and the answering girlish giggles were stifled as the sound of wet kisses and purring growls filled the room… but then the softest whimper intruded, and avid curiosity had Angelus finally tearing his lips away from the woman in his arms.

Flames danced and spat in the impressive stone fireplace, casting its golden glow across the marble floor. Candles flickered warm yellow light from every available surface, bringing an almost dreamy ambience to the cavernous and sparsely furnished chamber.

But nothing compared to the gold fire that lit the dark vampire’s eyes as they finally sought out and rested on the ‘gifts’ his sire and childe had laid out artistically a few feet from the large hearth. Pulling away from the arms and body still clinging to him like poison ivy, Angelus stepped around the petite blonde, his tongue sliding out to moisten suddenly parched lips.

He circled slowly, a lecherous smile lighting his strong pale face as glittering tigers eyes caught a glimpse of delicate ankles peeking temptingly from under the voluminous material of heavy, pale blue skirts. Wrists were tied together with red silken cords and pulled taut over their heads, the ends wrapped around the thick oak legs of a large damask-covered couch.

Dropping to his haunches, Angelus reached out a large hand and ran it from hip to knee, a deep dark chuckle rumbling through his chest when a bare foot lifted and kicked out.

With the accuracy of a deadly snake, he grabbed the fragile ankle and held it high, grinning in delight that the lower limbs had been left unbound. He brought it to his mouth; dropping light teasing kisses along warm, olive silky flesh, which quivered in his firm grip.

Spike teased Drusilla’s smiling blood-red mouth with biting kisses before releasing her to saunter over. Cool blue eyes ran over both the young girls huddled next to each other, liquid brown gazes frantic with fear above the confining gags. Their clothes although lacking the richness of wealth were still bright and flattering. Long dark hair hung loose around their shaking shoulders, and his eyes glinted with more than the reflection of the roaring fire.

“Gypsies,” he breathed with a pleasured purr.

The female vampires held hands and swayed coquettishly. “Not just ANY gypsies,” Darla responded with a triumphant grin, causing Drusilla to giggle and swing their joined hands.

“Romany,” Angelus murmured softly, his free hand reaching down to slide the covering fabric along the trembling leg he still held fast. “I have no idea how you both managed such a difficult endeavor,” he grinned back briefly, “but be sure I’ll show you just how impressed I am, later.” His promise of reward made, Angelus’ dark head turned back to the banquet laid out before him before opening his mouth and suckling on the soft skin now bared to his hungry eyes.

“And I look forward to it, my love,” Darla replied, licking her too-red lips as avid eyes followed the path of his roving hand and grinned with feral amusement when a muffled cry of pained distress echoed through the chamber following the sound of tearing fabric.

His purr of delight as long, blood-tinged fingers slid between his lips had her impatient for a taste, she tugged on Drusilla’s hand, taking a step forward, but stilled when a low growl warned her they were close enough. Willing to let him have his fun alone for a little while longer, she settled down to watch.

“Twice the pleasure,” Drusilla giggled softly and pulled away from Darla and began to dance around the room. “Two little girls that share the same pretty face, isn’t that just wonderful?”

Spike shifted his avid gaze from the now bare, writhing limbs of the girl chosen by his sire and tugged the other closer. He ran a long finger down the side of her frightened face, enjoying the silky texture, the gentle smile that graced his sculpted mouth, at odds with the savage light in his eyes. “Wonderful, pet, truly wonderful.”

“It hurts, yes? Good. It will hurt more.” The old Romany woman smiled, her wrinkled lips twisting with a hint of glee as she looked down on the two prone vampires with hate in her eyes.

“You don’t remember… everything you’ve both done. In a moment, you will. The faces of everyone you killed… they will haunt you, and you will know what true suffering is….”

Back / Part 13

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