Ethan Rayne frowned and pressed his lips together in disapproval at the sight of his granddaughter escorting her boyfriend into the house. He watched them from the window in his study, his hands clasped behind his back until they disappeared behind the long wall approaching the front door. Despite her obvious attempt at entering the house quietly, he could hear the staccato click of Cordy’s high heels on the white marble as they crossed the foyer and climbed the stairs.
He listened as the sound retreated down the hall toward Cordelia’s room then poured himself a healthy draught of Scotch and sat down in the high-backed leather chair at his desk. He glanced at the recent picture of his granddaughter on his desk, next to an older framed family photo.
Cordelia was so like her mother in looks and personality it was a little uncanny. Perhaps that was why he had tolerated her antics for so long. If her mother were alive today, perhaps things would have been different.
Cassandra, Cordelia’s mother, had been killed along with her husband, Stuart, and another couple when Cordelia was only five years old. Their private plane had crashed in South Africa where they had been traveling on their annual safari, Stuart having a fondness for big game hunting. Ethan and Lillian had been devastated by the loss of their only child and as a result, had spoiled their granddaughter recklessly. Lillian had managed to control Cordelia somewhat until she passed away only three short and difficult years ago. Since then the young brunette’s spending had reached epic proportions and the rumors of wild behavior had increased.
Ethan coughed slightly and took another sip of his drink. At seventy-three, he was much too old to deal with his granddaughter’s irresponsible and willful behavior much longer, for all that she was twenty-one now. He was admittedly old fashioned and felt that only a husband would curb Cordelia’s wild ways. He wanted to see her married and settled. Bottom line, he wanted her off his hands.
The only problem was her choice of men. He wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if she chose her boyfriends simply to spite him, knowing that he would never approve of those without an established family name and sufficient wealth to keep her in the manner she was accustomed. He wouldn’t tolerate some deadbeat sponging off the money that he and his father before him had earned – even though many would claim that their business practices were unscrupulous and bordering on illegal. As far as he was concerned, his business in investment banking wasn’t about judging the ethics of his clients. He didn’t care what business they were in as long as the deal was a sound one.
Ethan picked up the manila folder on the desk and flipped it open. Inside were several pictures of Cordelia with her boyfriend of almost six weeks now, Liam Angelus O’Connor. Ethan knew everything about the young man from his birthday in May almost twenty-four years ago in Galway, Ireland to his current 3.9 GPA at UC Sunnydale. He knew that “Angel,” as he had been called since birth, was attending school thanks to an academic scholarship and student exchange program and that he was majoring in Criminal Justice. After an unaccounted for year, he had started classes at the National University of Dublin where he spent the next two years before coming to Sunnydale.
The young man had no family to speak of, other than an Uncle Giles who lived in Dublin. There was no mention of the boy’s parents, which was unusual in and of itself. Regardless, that detail was of little consequence. From everything that Ethan had been able to ascertain through his thorough and well compensated private investigator, the boy was well beneath his granddaughter in terms of status, family name and wealth. Unfortunately, he was also the longest lasting of her beau’s so far.
However, he wouldn’t do at all as a suitor for his granddaughter.
Ethan leaned back in his chair as he perused the documents on his desk once again.
No, this “Angel” would not do at all.
Cordelia handed Angel the glass of water he had asked for with a small pout as she stood in front of him where he reclined shirtless on the baby pink sofa in her room. With the window at her back, she knew that her figure would be provocatively outlined through the thin silk robe which she knew that any man with a pulse had to appreciate.
“Are you listening to me, Angel?”
He had the irritating look that she was seeing more and more often as of late. It was thoughtful and pensive and clearly indicated that he wasn’t listening to a word that she was saying. Unless of course he was deep in thought about her, which she would grudgingly accept as an excuse for such behavior.
“Angel? Hello? It’s not very flattering when you do that, you know.” Cordelia admonished with a slight frown. She sipped her champagne and counted to ten. She would have stomped her foot if she dared, but she had worked much too hard to capture his interest to simply allow him to slip away by revealing her often vile temper.
“Hm? Do what?” Angel questioned, his attention returning to Cordelia.
“Tune out on me,” she retorted sharply then wished she could take back the words and her tone. Her temper was very close to the surface, and it simply wouldn’t do for him to see it this early in their relationship.
Angel was different from the other men that she had dated. He didn’t fawn endlessly over her beauty, and he didn’t seem impressed with her material possessions or her obvious wealth. He didn’t dote on her every word or look… however with his darkly handsome good looks, he was a challenge she had not been able to resist. It had taken her an inordinate amount of time to get him into her bed compared to her earlier conquests, but she had accomplished that just three weeks ago, so she was sure the rest would follow. She was confident though that she would bring him to heel, it was only a matter of time.
He was a fabulous catch except for the fact that he had no money of his own to speak of. It annoyed her when she allowed herself to dwell on how absolutely perfect he was for her in every respect except that one. Life just wasn’t fair sometimes! Regardless, she had no intention of losing her lover.
She dropped to the sofa beside him, pressing her full breasts to his arm and offering an unobstructed view of her cleavage in the loosely tied robe. She batted her eyes at him coquettishly.
“Friday. Shopping. Giselle. You’re meeting me at Patina at 2:00 right? We’ll have a late lunch then head over to the Galleria from there. We have to get you a suit for the ballet.” She shifted a slight bit closer, leaning over him. “Remember, you promised you’d take me.”
Angel’s lips curved upward in a slight smile. He knew what the beautiful brunette was doing and had no doubt that she knew it as well. Cordelia was as predictable and easy to read as anyone that he had ever met. He sat the glass of water on the table next to the sofa.
“I did?” He wrapped one arm around her and pulled her to lie more squarely on top of him.
“You did.” She reminded him as she pursed her lips together for a kiss.
“Well, then, I guess I will.” He said as the whisper of silk slid off her shoulders and dropped to the floor.
He wasn’t looking for a long-term relationship; he was still young and wanted to have fun. He didn’t envision his future with her or with any woman he might meet in, say, the next several years, but she was undeniably beautiful, considerably talented in bed and had yet to bore him with her self-absorbed sarcastic wit, all of which seemed reason enough for the time being to continue their relationship. That and there was no one else that he was currently interested in pursuing.
Women had been a constant in his life since the age of fifteen when Darla, the nineteen-year-old daughter of his father’s partner, had revealed the pleasures of sex to him during one hedonistic summer. The fact of the matter was, no one kept his interest for long. He expected his interest in Cordelia to fade as had all the others; until then however, she was a lovely distraction.
Buffy sighed and tucked the scant three dollars into her apron pocket. She couldn’t believe that the table of six had left such a measly tip for their almost ninety dollar check. At this rate, she’d have to take on a third job just to make ends meet. She was already teaching aerobics and kickboxing at the gym four mornings a week plus a class on the weekend which was bringing in a nice $150 a week but that only just covered her rent. It didn’t make her car payment or pay her tuition, much less the other debts that she had been saddled with following her mother’s death just four months ago, which is why she pleaded with Anya for the waitressing job at Patina.
Patina was a popular California style bistro not far from the UC Sunnydale campus that catered to a young affluent crowd. It was typically loud and crowded, which usually made for good tips. It was only through her friendship with Anya, the restaurant’s hostess, that Buffy managed to land the job here at all, having no prior experience waiting tables.
She scooped up the plates, napkins and other debris from the table with quick efficiency as Anya shot her quick look of warning. Reginald Snyder, the manager, was rounding the corner, making his usual rounds through the restaurant. He was short tempered and impatient as Buffy found out after only three days on the job. Yesterday she had dropped several full plates of food and had to endure a lecture from him in addition to having her wages docked to pay for the wasted food and broken plates.
Determined not to let that happen again, she hustled, careful to stay out of Snyder’s line of sight. She desperately needed to keep this job – it was one of the few with decent pay that was close to both her apartment and the university. It allowed her to work longer shifts and still make it to classes on time.
With a grimace, Buffy brushed the hair that had come loose from her ponytail out of her eyes, wiped down the table and hurried off to the next customer.
Lying nude in the shambles of the bed, Cordelia watched Angel as he dressed. He was easily one of the most gorgeous men she had ever seen: tall, lean, muscled and dark as sin. His wicked dark eyes seduced and promised delights she had only imagined while his sensual lips more than lived up to the promise of his rare teasing smile. He was the definition of classic good looks and physical perfection all wrapped up in one exquisitely delicious and sexually satisfying package.
She briefly considered taking offense at the casual indifference in which he left the bed, but the feeling past quickly given her current contented state. Instead, she rolled to her side, propping her head on her hand as she posed suggestively.
“Are you sure you need to go?”
Pausing to glance at the opulent fullness of her breasts and the curve of her hip so artfully displayed, Angel smiled slightly. “Yes, I have classes. I’ll see you Friday.”
“Don’t forget me.” Cordelia purred from the bed, one hand sliding between her legs in an obvious display of erotic enticement.
Not likely, Angel thought as he closed the door behind him, with the image of her pleasuring herself in his mind.
“Oh, Harmony, you would not believe the man’s stamina.” Cordelia gushed into the phone several hours later as she soaked in the tub. As had been the case since the two girls were in high school, full disclosure after any date or sexual experience was an absolute must. “Salty goodness multiplied times like, twenty.”
She giggled as Harmony replied with a few suggestive remarks before continuing to dish about her afternoon rendezvous.
“I still can’t believe that Grandpapa had the nerve to lecture me about Angel. Honestly.” Looking down at her nails, Cordelia frowned. There was a small chip in the polish. She’d have to return to the salon.
“He knocked on my door almost an hour after Angel left and told me that he didn’t approve. Like he needs to approve. Hello? Over twenty-one.” With an indignant snort, she continued. “He should remember since he was at my twenty-first birthday party unless he’s getting senile, which is entirely possible.”
The brunette frowned more intently as she stared out the leaded glass window into the perfectly manicured grounds. She only half listened to Harmony’s reply, focusing instead on mentally reviewing her wardrobe for what to wear tonight as they were again having guests. Her grandfather called them business dinners, but she knew that they were disguised attempts for her to meet the men that he considered eligible for her.
Of course, it wasn’t all bad. She smiled slightly and shifted the phone to her other ear. The last man she had met ending up staying over. Not with her grandfather’s knowledge of course…
Angel scanned the crowd at the busy bistro in search of the long brunette hair of his date. Familiar by now with Cordelia’s habitual tardiness, he wasn’t surprised when he didn’t see her. Instead, he waited until a table on the patio cleared and then sat down.
Reaching in his pocket with an audible sigh, he unfolded the letter from the BCIS and re-read it for the twelfth time since it had arrived at his apartment around noon. The Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, affectionately known to him as the BCIS, was informing him that “due to irregularities with the required forms, his student visa had been denied” and that he was to return to his home country of Ireland within two weeks. Two weeks! He slapped the paper in frustration. He was a month away from completing his junior year and now they decide to send this! He couldn’t believe the bureaucracy of the system, since he filled out countless forms last summer before he had even arrived in Sunnydale.
In politely worded sentences, he was encouraged to contact them if he believed the letter was in error. If he were to stay in the country past the date on the letter without additional proof of citizenship, then he would be considered to be in the country illegally and would be arrested and deported.
He called the BCIS office immediately, only to have been put on hold for almost an hour. As if waiting hadn’t been bad enough, he had been subjected to bad muzak versions of Mandy and Copacabana so often the songs were still playing through his head. Once he finally reached a live person she had been unable to tell him what the exact problem was or how to correct it. In fact, she seemed genuinely confused. His first stop after getting off the phone had been at the office of Student Affairs, hoping they would help sort out the mess, but they seemed to be as much in the dark as he was. Finally they suggested that he go to the local office of the BCIS and see if he could sort it out in person.
He knew Cordelia would be unhappy about the change in their Friday afternoon plans, but it couldn’t be helped. This was too important.
Behind him several dishes rattled and he heard a soft muffled curse. Reaching under his chair, he retrieved the fork and the bread roll that had skidded to a halt near his foot and handed them to the harried waitress.
Dark brown eyes met wide hazel green ones for a few lingering seconds before the girl dropped her gaze and scurried away. He felt an unusual jolt strike him with the simple look, and he glanced in the direction where she had gone.
“Angel. There you are.” Cordelia waved and smiled brightly, dropping into the chair across from him. She leaned forward for him to kiss her cheek, hiding her annoyance when he instead glanced back over his shoulder again where the girl had disappeared.
“Listen, Cordy, I have to cancel our plans.” He pushed the envelope across the table to her just as their waiter stopped to take their order.
“Diet coke with lots of ice.” The brunette snapped as she picked up the letter. “And a small green salad. It must be fresh, no blemishes on the leaves, no onions and only one small tomato, sliced into dime thin slices, if you can manage that. I want citrus vinaigrette on the side. Oh, and NO croutons. If I even see a spec of crouton dust on the leaves, I will send the whole thing back and expect it to be made fresh. Do you understand?” Immediately her tone changed as she glanced across the table, “Angel? Did you want anything?”
Angel ordered water and a sandwich with a slightly apologetic expression, noting that the waiter, whose name tag read ‘Andrew’, seemed almost frightened by Cordelia’s demeanor.
“This is ridiculous.” Cordelia sputtered and looked up with incredulous eyes after she finished reading the letter. “This is just fucking ridiculous. I mean, what the hell do they mean by ‘irregularities’? Those idiots. You just march down there and tell them where they can put this letter.” She jabbed the white paper in the air, her voice growing louder with each word.
“Sh! Keep it down, please.” Angel requested quietly, taking the letter from her and putting it back in his pocket. “I’m going to take care of it.”
“Well I should hope so. Does that look like a spec of a crouton to you?” The brunette frowned, holding her fork over Angel’s plate for his review.
“No, Delia.” Angel replied with minor irritation. Reaching in his pocket, he dropped a few bills on the table to pay for lunch. “Look, I have to go see about this. I’ll call you later.”
Retrieving her cell phone from her purse, Cordelia watched as Angel left the restaurant.
“Harmony, you will never believe this.” She wailed into the phone immediately after hearing her friend answer. “Angel is going to be deported.”
As she listened to her friend’s response, Cordelia absently watched the blonde waitress scurry across the restaurant and back again, only to be stopped by the manager and berated.
“I can’t marry him, Harm. At least not until Grandpapa dies. You know he would disown me. I’ve already told you that he doesn’t like Angel.”
Across the restaurant the blonde waitress hung her head and nodded. She seemed almost defeated as the little man continued shaking his finger at her.
“What? What did you say?” Suddenly Cordelia’s attention returned to her phone conversation. “That’s a terrific idea, Harmony, absolutely fabulous. You could marry him!”
Twirling her hair around her finger, the former high school cheerleader and Prom Queen leaned forward on the table. Her brows drew together in a frown. “What do you mean, no? You’ve told me that you and Spike are in a seriously off again phase right now. Isn’t he still in Europe skiing? Besides, we’re not talking about sex. You wouldn’t be having sex with him. And it would be temporary, you know until he gets his paper work or green card or whatever they call it these days.”
“Very funny.” Shooting a dirty look in the direction of the woman at the nearby table who was glancing in her direction, Cordelia waited until the nosy gray haired lady had turned completely around before answering Harmony. “Where am I going to find some chick that won’t want Angel for a husband? I told you he’s a hottie, not to mention an absolute dream between the sheets. Any girl would marry him in a heartbeat.”
Her laughter ringing out through the restaurant, Cordelia shook her head and replied, “That’s really funny, Harm. Some ugly chick that he’ll ignore is a great idea. Now tell me where to find one of those, and we’re all set.”
Glancing back across the restaurant, Cordelia once again noticed the haggard blonde, her uniform covered with stains and splatters, her hair a dreadful mess. She seemed to be apologizing to one of her customers, a defeated look on her face.
“I’m sure Angel will get it straightened out, and it will all be just fine. I am not going to miss having that fabulous bod next to me at the beach house this summer, I’ll tell you that already.” Thoughtfully, the brunette stared across the restaurant at the obviously worn-down and completely unstylish young woman. “I have to run, Harm. I’ll talk to you later.”
“Hey you. Yes, you. Come here.” Cordelia called to her waiter as she clicked off her phone. She pointed at the girl she had been watching earlier. “What can you tell me about that girl?”
Buffy slumped against the back wall near the kitchen doorway and muttered a series of curses under her breath. Snyder again threatened to fire her after one of her customers complained that she was slow in delivering the condiments to their table. She rolled her eyes at Anya who passed by and couldn’t help the sarcastic chuckle that escaped her lips. That would be the cap to a really delightful stint as a waitress, to be fired over the lack of ketchup. It wasn’t as if she didn’t have a dozen other tables to take care of, not to mention that the bus boy assigned to help in her section seemed to find it funny to make her do half his work.
Brushing her hair back from her face and adjusting her ponytail, Buffy sighed. How much things had changed in only four short months. She had only herself to rely now that her mother was gone. Her father, the rat bastard, had come back to Sunnydale for the first time in three years, not for the funeral but to sell the house, which, as it turns out, was actually was left to him since her mother never bothered to change either the house title or her will after the divorce.
Thrilled with the unexpected windfall, which would help pay for a good portion of his new expensive LA residence, Hank Summers returned to LA with his wife and Buffy’s two year old half-sister, Dawn, leaving Buffy with nothing more than some unpaid bills and her mother’s jeep. Just before he drove away, he made a vague promise about sending money for college and rent once he had things sorted out, but that had been months ago, and Buffy had yet to see a dime.
The calls she made to him in the first few weeks had been unreturned; the few times she managed to catch him on the phone, he was always distracted or rushed and always had the same glib promises. After that first two months, Buffy gave up and stopped calling.
The various bills had depleted a good bit of her savings, leaving her just enough to rent a tiny apartment. She didn’t regret not living in the dorms this first semester, what with her mother’s illness and all, but it certainly made things that much more difficult in the recent weeks. But she knew that she’d never better her situation without a college education, so she was determined to somehow manage that even if it took her five or more years. Thankfully her tuition for the semester had already been paid, but she needed to get ahead somehow if she were to make next semester.
With a deep inhalation of air, she pushed away from the wall and resolved to make it work. It would get easier, it had to. She needed to keep this job.
It was late, almost one am when Cordy knocked on the door to Angel’s loft apartment. She had come straight there after the ballet, having conned Xander Harris to attend the performance of Giselle with her in Angel’s place since he had been tied up all afternoon at the BCIS offices.
“Well?” She demanded as he opened the door.
“Hello to you too.” Angel stepped back from the door as the brunette pushed past him to enter the apartment. Unable to sleep, he’d stayed up studying and getting a jump on preparing for finals – finals that he probably wasn’t even going to be able to take. He had chuckled at the irony even as he had pulled out the textbooks.
“Sorry.” Cordelia paused and turned, kissing his cheek before brushing by and dropping on the couch. She patted the spot next to her. “But you know I’m upset about all this. I bought two extra pairs of shoes while shopping to help me deal. I was barely able to enjoy the ballet, I kept thinking about that stupid office and their silly rules. The stress even made me buy a chocolate torte during intermission. Now tell me that you’ve resolved this.”
Sighing heavily, Angel sat down in the chair across from her. He wasn’t particularly in the mood to cater to Cordelia’s selfish behavior tonight, but she did provide a welcome distraction from his own frustrated and angry thoughts. “No.”
“What do you mean, no?” She demanded, a frown crossing her features.
“I mean no. It looks like I have to pack up and go home.” He said as he shrugged his shoulders. “I’ve already talked to the landlord about keeping my place here through the summer at least. My uncle Giles said he’d help out with the rent. Hopefully I can straighten this out and come back for next semester. Monday I’ll see if there’s anything I can do about my classes so that I don’t lose all my credits.”
“No. You can’t.” Cordelia stated bluntly. “There’s only like the biggest beach party at Harmony’s summer house in Malibu on the last day of school, and you have to be there as my date. I already told her that we’d go. I can’t just be expected to change all my plans around. And I have plans for us this summer. Who is going to take me to the Black & White charity ball if you have to go back to Ireland?”
“I don’t have a choice Cordy. I could stay, but they’re rather insistent that if I do I’ll end up in jail or deported or both. You know I can’t afford to have even the smallest blemish on my record if I want to get into the FBI. It’s already hard enough that I’m not a U.S. citizen as it is.”
Pressing her lips together, the brunette bit back a reply. She didn’t understand why he wanted to do that anyway. The FBI was a silly choice of a career in her opinion. She would, of course, work on changing his mind about that if they were going to have any type of long-term relationship. It just would not do for someone of her class to be with someone who worked for the government. Maybe she could talk him into law school. A lawyer for a prestigious firm, eventually a senior partner… now that she could see justifying as worthy of marriage. Maybe her grandfather could pull a few strings with Wolfram & Hart, the firm that represented him…
“Well, if you can’t get through the paper work then you should just get married.” She blurted it out without thinking, her earlier conversation with Harmony coming to mind.
“What?” Angel shifted on his chair, his gaze wary as he stared at the beautiful brunette. He didn’t want to think about getting married for another six or eight years, if ever. And certainly he didn’t envision himself married to Cordelia.
“You know, get married. People do it all the time to stay in this country.” She said as she brushed an imaginary speck of lint off her skirt.
“I don’t think that’s such a good idea.” He said skeptically, wondering how he was going to manage to escape from this conversation without offending Cordelia to the point where she was cursing him loudly and waking the neighbors.
“Look, you get married in name only. It’s not like a real marriage.” The idea taking shape in her mind, Cordelia sat forward eagerly. “And once you get your green card or whatever, then you get a divorce.”
Searching for the appropriate tactful response, he glanced out the window and reluctantly replied, “Cordelia… you know I think we have a good thing but-”
Her laughter interrupted his words and he looked up at her in confusion.
“Not me, silly. I mean, not that I wouldn’t want to…” Her eyes roved over him suggestively, her memory recalling the muscular body hidden under black sweat pants and white t-shirt. “But you know I wouldn’t be proposing a marriage in name only if that were the case.”
“You’re saying I should marry someone else?” Angel looked at her, slightly dumbfounded that she would be suggesting the idea.
“Sure, why not?” Cordelia shrugged one shoulder. “It’s not like you’d really be married. You wouldn’t have to live with her or, heaven forbid, have sex with her.”
His brows quirked upward as he stared back at her. “This whole conversation is ridiculous, Delia.”
“I’m totally serious.” She replied adamantly, coming to her feet and crossing the room. She dropped into his lap, her fingers tracing a path up his chest. “We find someone, and you can stay in the country and finish college. It’ll be perfect.”
Stopping her hand abruptly, he lifted her off his lap and strode to the window. “I’m not going to marry someone just to stay in the country.”
Used to getting her way with men, Cordelia rose gracefully to her feet. She unzipped her dress, dropping it to the floor. She walked over to him, wearing only a dark blue bra, matching panties and garter belt with sheer silk stockings.
Taking his hand, he placed it on the rounded curve of her breast. Sliding her hand up his chest, she pursed her lips together in a small moue, “Think about it, okay?”
Just after nine pm, Cordelia parked her cherry red BMW Z8 along the curb just down the block from Patina. She had spent a good bit of the day on the phone with Harmony and was now convinced that a marriage of convenience for Angel was the absolute best idea. Not only would it allow him to stay in the country, it would also get her Grandpapa off her back about the ‘unacceptable’ fit of Angel as a husband and his threats to disown her should she choose to marry him. If he was already married, then well, no need to worry now was there? She didn’t for a minute stop and think that perhaps her grandfather would have an issue with her cavorting around with a married man.
Striding quickly to the busy bistro, she waited along the patio tables until she spotted the waitress from yesterday. It had been an impulse that had led her to ask her waiter about the young woman yesterday, but now she saw it as an omen.
Buffy Summers, as she understood to be the girl’s name, was in dire straits financially and on the verge of losing her job at the restaurant. A job that, according to Andrew the waiter, she desperately needed. That desperate situation combined with Buffy’s plain blonde looks was just what Cordelia was looking for.
Taking a seat in Buffy’s section, Cordelia ordered a diet coke and prepared to wait. Half an hour later, when the traffic was finally thinning out, she flagged down the harried waitress.
“Buffy? Your name is Buffy right? Buffy Summers?”
“Yes.” Buffy replied almost reluctantly, slowing as she neared the brunette woman’s table. “Can I get something for you?”
“No thanks, I just wanted to talk to you. My name is Cordelia. Cordelia Chase.” Cordelia replied with a smile. A smile that grew wider as she once more scanned the girl that she had selected to be Angel’s wife in name only. The mousy blonde was perfect, not so horrible that Angel would be embarrassed or would outright object, but definitely not any competition. Not that there really was any competition, as far as Cordy was concerned, but it never hurt to be absolutely certain.
“Do I know you? Are we in a class together?” Buffy questioned, holding her small notepad in front of her as if prepared to take an order. She had to look busy or else Snyder, who seemed to have eyes in the back of his head, would be in her face again. “I’m sorry, I don’t remember you…”
“No. At least, I don’t think we are.” Cordy laughed, the forced sound trilling out in the restaurant and causing a few heads nearby to turn in their direction. “Listen, Buffy. I have a little business proposition for you. Have a seat.”
“I can’t, I’m sorry. I’ll get fired.” The petite blonde glanced over her shoulder again before returning her attention back to Cordelia. What on earth could a woman wearing shoes that cost more than her entire outfit want with her? Buffy couldn’t imagine.
“Okay, so don’t sit. Look, I know you need money. It’s rather obvious from your clothing, which is so last year and besides, one of your coworkers mentioned that your Mom died and stuff and that you got stuck with a bunch of the bills.” The brunette said flatly, not even attempting to sound sympathetic. “So, I’m willing to offer you $20,000 to do me a little favor.”
Buffy stared at the woman with wide eyes. Twenty thousand dollars?! That would cover her expenses – tuition, books, rent, as well as other essentials – for an entire year. Her eyes narrowed suspiciously. “What little favor?”
“Marry my boyfriend.” Cordelia replied, glancing at Buffy’s face.
“Huh? What? Marry?” The young waitress’s eyes widened suddenly. “Oh, hell no. No way. I am so not into kinky stuff like that.”
She spun on her heel to walk away, but Cordy reached out and grabbed her by the arm.
“Wait. Listen to me.” The brunette whispered, tugging Buffy back a step.
Turning, Buffy glanced down at the brunette’s hand on her arm then back at the woman’s face. Her eyebrows lifted slightly in challenge.
Cordelia dropped her hand. “It’s not what you think. It’s just so he can stay in the country.”
“So what don’t you marry him then? He’s your boyfriend. That’s usually what you do – you know, date and then if you fall in love – or in this case, if one of you needs to stay in the country – you get married.” Buffy replied, crossing her hands over her chest.
“I can’t marry him.” The brunette stated irritably. She couldn’t believe the girl was being this difficult when it was so obvious that she needed the money.
Shifting her stance slight, Buffy looked at the girl suspiciously. “Why not?”
“It’s a long complicated story.”
“Uh-huh.” The diminutive blonde stared back skeptically, noting the absence of a wedding ring on the girl’s finger to excuse the obvious “already married” possibility. “Let me guess, you’ll get disinherited or cut off from your trust fund if you marry this guy, who is probably from the wrong side of town and your rich parents don’t like.”
“Okay, maybe it’s not that complicated.” Cordelia answered with an indignant sigh. “Look, you just have to marry him. It would, of course, be in name only. You’re not even going to have to live with him. And you’re certainly not going to have sex with him.”
“I don’t think so.” Turning, Buffy walked away.
“Just think it over.” Cordelia called after her. Muttering in annoyance, Cordy dropped only enough money on the table to pay for her soda before she walked out of the restaurant. She certainly wasn’t going to tip the ungrateful bitch for not helping her out. Now where was she going to find someone else that would fit her ideal so perfectly on such short notice?