Mercenary Hearts 13

Chase Mansion. (Mon evening)

“I must say, this is the best chicken and rice casserole I’ve ever tasted.” Giles expression reflected his pleasure. “You must offer my complements to your housekeeper,” he continued, reaching for another homemade cheese roll with gusto.

The girls grinned as they watched him. “That’s the reason we decided to ask you here instead of turning up at yours.” Cordy explained.

“Well, thank you again for the kind invitation,” he smiled across the kitchen table before taking an eager bite of the soft roll.

About to settle down with a ‘new’ book earlier, Giles had not been happy when his phone had started to ring. He’d been tempted to ignore it, then realised that in his line of work it just wasn’t an option. Hoping his first free night in the last week wasn’t about to go belly up, he reluctantly answered the phone.

The surprise of Cordelia’s voice quickly faded to be replaced with mild annoyance as she insisted he go over to her house ‘asap’.  Obviously picking up on his reluctance, she turned quietly serious. Both girls had apparently ‘bumped into’ Angelus shortly after leaving the cinema. His irritation bled away as she continued. Things were said: “Real important stuff, Giles.” 

Giles had immediately asked why on earth they hadn’t simply come to him? Cordelia went on to explain that her parent’s housekeeper had acquiesced to preparing a special dinner for herself and Tara. She then suggested that he could join them – if he hadn’t already eaten.

As it was, he hadn’t gotten around to making himself anything, and when she revealed the contents of the menu, Giles was much more amenable.

It was decided by Cordelia that they enjoy their meal and then talk after, explaining that it was her father’s rule that they never talk business at the dinner table. The delay made Giles a bit anxious initially, but felt it would be rude not to stick to his wishes even though he wasn’t there to play host.

The three of them sat around a large wooden table that showed signs of frequent scrubbing, in the large modern kitchen. It turned out to be a surprisingly pleasant half hour, and he’d soon found himself relaxing and surprisingly enjoying their company. 

Once finished, Giles helped the girls rinse and stack the dishwasher and tidy the kitchen. Coffee was poured by Cordelia, who quietly stated that they were going to need it. Feeling a sense of foreboding after noting their grave expressions, he followed them into a large lounge.

Being his first visit to the Chase estate, Giles found himself admiring the décor and furnishings. Cordelia’s parents had impeccable taste. He wasn’t as surprised by that, considering their daughter was always well-turned out. As was the way for most young females, skirts were a little too short in his opinion, although to be fair, Cordelia’s clothing tended to lean more towards classical styles.

The girls opted to share one of two generously wide couches, while he settled for a large and extremely comfortable easy chair. He lifted the large porcelain mug to take a sip of his coffee just as Cordelia opened the conversation with:

“The vamps have souls, Giles.”


Crawford Street Mansion. (Mon night.)

Lying on his back in bed with hands clasped behind his head, Angel stretched his long legs, crossing them at the ankles while ruminating on his earlier encounter with the beautiful brunette.

He’d been on yet another scouting mission, hoping to finally come across the lair of the Shousace. So far, they’d both been unsuccessful. Angel had picked up her unique scent as he cut through the center of town and become instantly distracted. He’d watched as she walked leisurely down the street, accompanied by the tall blonde girl Spike had attempted to rescue the other night, who’d quickly nudged her after spotting him loitering.

She had called her ‘Cordy’. After a little thought, he came to the conclusion that her full name must be Cordelia, which he had read was thought to be from the Celtic name Creiryddlydd, which translated into ‘daughter of the sea’.

Angel called to mind Shakespeare’s King Lear, whose favorite daughter, Cordelia, was the youngest of three daughters. Her elderly father had exiled her as a response to her honesty when he’d asked for professions of love from his daughters -to determine how to divide the lands of his kingdom between them.

Cordelia’s sisters, Goneril and Regan, gave deceitfully lavish speeches professing their love, flattering his vanity.  Seeing right through her sisters’ feigned professions of love, Cordelia had refused to do the same. Lear deemed her answer: “Love, and be silent” as too simple. He’d asked her, “What can you say to draw a third more opulent than your sisters? Speak.”

 Cordelia had replied, “Nothing, my lord. Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave my heart into my mouth. I love your majesty according to my bond; no more nor less.” Unlike her father and sisters, Cordelia had been able to differentiate love from property. Feeling outraged and humiliated that she wouldn’t publicly lavish love on him, King Lear had banished Cordelia from the kingdom.

Angel quickly decided that name suited his own Cordelia. She, too, seemed to say what was on her mind without considering if it was what you wanted to hear. He liked that.

On recalling the withering expression from clear hazel eyes as she stared him down, Katherina Minola, a girl from a different play, also came to mind. She could effortlessly fit that character too, grinning in amusement at the thought.

Angel then mulled over their conversation. The watcher had been busy. He wasn’t sure how he felt about it. A small part of him wanted to rip out his throat when thinking of the fear it had brought to Cordelia’s beautiful eyes, even though she’d hidden it pretty well. But she couldn’t mask the scent of it.

Even with the gypsy curse, Angel still got a heady buzz of excitement whenever he came across it. Having a soul didn’t mean he wasn’t still a demon.

Angel hadn’t missed the shimmer of growing attraction in her beautiful, expressive eyes. If he concentrated hard enough, he could almost feel the hot burn of her small hand pressed against his solar plexus, her slim fingers unconsciously kneading as she talked.

That had felt good.  Almost too good, he thought, his mouth quirking at the corner as he remembered his unbidden physical reaction. Yet another advantage to be found in wearing a heavy and thankfully concealing duster.

Maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing that Cordelia now knew, he decided. At least there was a possibility that now being aware of his soul, she might manage to get past the fact that he was a vampire. But only if it turned out that it was just fear of harm that had stopped her.

He also had to consider how she’d felt about his reaction towards her friend, the witch. Ancient magicks had the same scent and his knee jerk response to it, no matter how mild, had still been unsettling. It made him wonder how he’d have reacted if there had also been any hint of gypsy blood in the mix.

After revealing the curse bestowed on them by the gypsies, Cordelia’s mouth had dropped open in shock. Even the witch –Tara, he recalled, looked surprised, sensing the magicks but not the reason it was there, obviously.

The conversation soon petered out, the atmosphere becoming awkward after a few questions were asked. He’d quickly decided not to reveal his and Spike’s occupation. From past experience, Angel knew that nugget of information probably wouldn’t go down too well.

On the upside, after he’d retrieved the dropped stake and handed over, much to their surprise, they’d agreed to let him accompany them to her car when he offered.

Cordelia had bluntly commented that he most likely wasn’t the only creature of the night roaming Sunnydale looking for a free snack.  Angel couldn’t help the amused smile that stretched his full lips as he thought about it. If they ever did get together, she’d certainly keep him on his toes.

 Angel couldn’t remember the last time he’d smiled so much as he had lately.

Damn, he really liked her sass.

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