A Convenient Marriage, Part 9

Author’s Notes: This is AU.

Fred and Gunn’s paint colors are from Ralph Lauren Home collection.

Big thanks to LJ and Copper.

See previous parts for other notes.

Rating: Adult; explicit sex

Disclaimer: Own nothing. All belongs to Joss, ME, Fox, et.al.

Pairing: Initially C/A, ultimately B/A.

Feedback: gia@everysixseconds.com

Distribution: My site, EverySixSeconds; sites currently with permission to host my fics; all others please ask.

Originally posted: Feb 8, 2004

When Angel walked through the door, Buffy had every intention of asking him calmly who the woman that had called was and why, but by the time he had finally gotten home her best intentions, with the helpful memory of Cordelia’s words, had slowly evolved into anger and hurt. The minutes had ticked by, and her mood had gone from pleasantly anticipatory to one of confused affront; it had made her question come out harsh and blunt, surprising both of them.

“Kate?” Angel echoed, a perplexed frown on his face as he closed the door behind him.

“Kate Lockley. She said she was returning your call. She implied that it was for…” Buffy paused, uncertain of her next choice of words, “personal reasons. Asking her out on a date, to be specific.”

“I don’t know anyone named Kate, haven’t asked for a phone number from a Kate,” Angel said calmly as he crossed the room to set the bag of food and the video on the coffee table. “And certainly have never called a Kate for personal reasons such as a date.”

“She says otherwise,” Buffy replied irritably, cynically inclined at the moment to believe that Angel’s answer was too practiced, too perfect; he was too adept at soothing women’s tempers with his smooth charm and beguiling smiles.

“Are you saying that you believe her?” He asked, his voice low in deliberate inquiry. Crossing his arms over his chest, Angel watched Buffy’s face.

Confronted by the soft challenge in his voice, Buffy sighed. She glanced away from him, finding the clear blue sky out the window of sudden interest. “She knew your course schedule, about your work for Professor Johannsen, and about your soccer games on Sunday,” she said quietly, returning her gaze to his face, “but apparently not that you were married.”

“Maybe she’s in one of my classes.” He shrugged slightly. “Or maybe she knows Gunn or Doyle.”

“Maybe.” Buffy replied her voice tinged with skepticism. Her eyes traced the perfect symmetry of his face: the dark slant of his brow, the straight line of his nose, the firm set of his lips before coming to rest on the dark beauty of his eyes. Without hesitation she acknowledged that she found him both beautiful and irresistible; it was no surprise that other women did as well. She’d already seen glimpses of it with Cordelia, the waitress at Ginza Shushiko, and now this Kate. Even Anya had been quite clear that if Buffy tired of her husband that she’d willingly take him off her hands. Without a doubt, Cordelia was right; there would always be women besieging him, anxious to please him. He had casually dismissed the women in his past as unimportant; would he be saying the same thing about her in a few months time?  Was she simply the latest, someday to be discarded like all the others?

“Buffy,” Angel said sincerely, uncrossing his arms and holding them open in supplication. “I honestly don’t know anyone named Kate and have no idea how she got this number. I didn’t ask her out. Let’s just forget about it and enjoy our evening.” Picking up the bag of food, he walked toward the kitchen.

Still bristling with unstable, volatile emotions, Buffy stared after him; she was just supposed to forget about it with his casual dismissal? After a few seconds, she followed him to the kitchen.

“Angel,” Buffy began as she forcibly tempered her anger. She took a deep breath, her gaze on his back. Suddenly she was seized with uncertainty. She was unsure if she wanted to have this conversation, unsure if she wanted the truth. To continue to ignore the issue would be foolish; but it wouldn’t hurt anyone other than herself.  Having a relationship with Angel – real or pretend – had been so wonderful that she wasn’t sure she wanted to chance ruining it. Maybe she should simply adhere to the adage ‘ignorance is bliss’ … to have him confirm Cordelia’s words – it would surely break her heart.

Realizing that he had turned and was looking at her, waiting, Buffy glanced up at his face. That’s when it hit her. Her eyes grew wide. Her chaotic emotions of the last few weeks were suddenly crystal clear. She knew – in that instant – that she was in love with him. But then, she reminded herself, every woman in his life loved him. And that was ultimately the crux of the issue here.  But she had her pride; while it was tempting, she couldn’t just leave things as they were. She had to know about the other women. Finally she spoke, her words sounding as if they came from a long distance, “Cordelia… she said that you were going to work out something so that you could still see her. Her and probably others too. That you never intended to be…”

“Be what, Buffy?” He prompted softly, frowning. He should have known that Cordelia would cause trouble; her little act of acceptance of his decision and his marriage had been just that: an act.

“Faithful,” she said almost inaudibly.

“Cordelia is spoiled and selfish; she’ll say anything to get what she wants.” Angel replied gruffly with a touch of exasperation. Did Buffy honestly believe that lying bitch? He’d have to have a talk with Cordelia, but he wasn’t sure he could risk doing so before the BCIS finished their investigation.  At the very least, he’d have to approach her cautiously until Maggie Walsh had talked to her. He wouldn’t put it past the wealthy brunette to confess everything about his arranged marriage just to get even with him, should he piss her off.

“Well, what she wants and what she claims is hers, is you,” Buffy returned hotly. His answer was too vague; she wanted a more direct confirmation. “And from what I understand, she believes those feelings to be returned. She said the two of you had a very nice time in Ireland – let’s see, I think her exact words were something like ‘romantic’ and ‘honeymoon’.  Oh, though, I’m sure you’ll be happy to know that she’s quite willing to accept that you won’t even be faithful to her, that she’ll have to share you.”

“Kate will be thrilled to hear that too, I’m sure.” She added sullenly.

Angel’s nostrils flared and a muscle twitched in his cheek. “I see,” he bit out sarcastically, stung by what he perceived as Buffy’s disbelief and accusations. “And you believed her even though I told you otherwise?  I never invited her there in the first place! None of what she said is true,” he contended, his voice taking on an edge, “she doesn’t know anything about being faithful herself, so she’s the last person that should be telling anyone anything on that particular subject.”

In her current frame of mind, where confusion, anger and doubt predominated, his words sounded like those of a jealous lover. Buffy closed her eyes, willing herself not to break into a thousand tiny pieces. She had known from the beginning about Angel and Cordelia’s relationship; she had simply allowed herself to forget about it in the blissful enchantment of the last few weeks.

“Look,” he said on a deep exhalation of breath, lowering his voice perceptively, “I don’t want to argue. Cordelia isn’t an authority on my love life in any sense of the word. She told you what she did because she’s trying to cause trouble.”

Silence greeted his words for a disconcertingly long moment.

“Have I given you any reason to think that I’m still interested in Cordelia? Or anyone else?” He advanced toward her, his voice flat. “That I didn’t mean it when I said I wanted to see where things go between us?”

Buffy hesitated, and in that hesitation, the tenuous hold on his temper flared.

“Did I?” He bent low so their eyes were level. He didn’t realize that she couldn’t know how different he was with her, how different he treated her from the other women in his past.  How different his feelings were for her – especially when he had yet to fully acknowledge them himself.

“I don’t know what to think,” Buffy said truthfully.

“Fine,” Angel said curtly, the muscle in his cheek twitching again as he fought to control his temper in the face of what he believed to be unfounded accusations. “Believe a stranger, someone that you don’t even know, when she calls and says that I asked her out. Believe Cordelia – a woman that I think you know to be selfish, unscrupulous and a liar. Believe either of them, not me. Believe that, not what you feel, what you know in your heart to be the truth.”  His lips twisted ruefully and he quirked one dark brow, “And I thought we really had something here.”

“I… I thought so too but…”

“You know what? I’m not in the mood for food now or a movie,” he interrupted, brushing past her abruptly as he strode toward the door. He retrieved his keys from the table and opened the door. “I’m going out to get some fresh air. Don’t wait up.”

Without a backward glance he walked out the door.

Buffy shifted her position for the umpteenth time and tried again to concentrate on the steady drone of her chemistry teacher’s lecture but was finding it next to impossible. Instead, her thoughts were entirely focused on her husband and their unresolved argument from last night.

She had fallen into an exhausted sleep on the couch last night long before Angel returned and then, as usual, left early for her kickboxing class this morning. That meant that they hadn’t had a chance to talk and weren’t likely to any time soon given their schedules.

Buffy had spent the evening after Angel left sitting on the deck and staring out at the lights of Sunnydale with unseeing eyes. Her mood had fluctuated wildly between contrition, hurt and anger. When rational thoughts prevailed, she had to admit that she hadn’t given Angel the benefit of the doubt as she had meant to do; she didn’t trust Cordelia so why had she taken the brunette’s words as truth over Angel’s?  If their roles were reversed and he were to take, God forbid, Parker’s word over her own… well, she knew she would be more than a little upset. In fact, she probably would have reacted much as Angel had.

But in moments when the anger and hurt jostled aside rational thought, she convinced herself that his storming out of the apartment was evidence of guilt. For all she knew, he had in fact gone to Cordelia or Kate or any number of other women last night and had spent the evening in their arms without giving her another thought.

Once again she shifted in her seat. Trust. That was what it ultimately boiled down to, wasn’t it? Did she or did she not trust him?  Her parent’s relationship hadn’t been the best example; her father’s infidelities combined with her mother’s bitterness over their split had taught her to be uncertain and distrustful. Her brief experiences with both Tyler and Parker had reinforced those insecurities. But Angel… Angel was different, wasn’t he?  In just their short time together, she had already seen that.  It would be so much easier if only she knew what he was thinking, what he felt. If only she could be certain.

When class ended twenty minutes later, Buffy lingered in her seat and scanned through the text she needed to read for her homework. Her classes were over for the day, and the only thing she had to look forward to was another long shift at Patina. She checked the time on the slim silver watch on her wrist; she had almost two hours. Two hours that she could use to do homework.

Riley Finn, the sandy-haired, broad shouldered UC Sunnydale basketball star, stayed behind as well, finally working up his courage to talk to the pretty blonde sitting next to him. He had only just introduced himself to Buffy and started up a conversation when her attention suddenly became focused on the doorway, her expression one of obvious surprise.

Riley’s glance veered to the man leaning against the door frame. Dressed in all black, he exuded a confidence that was mildly unnerving; when he smiled, the lift of his mouth was almost wolfish, his dark eyes narrowing in a predatory gleam as he returned Riley’s stare. Incongruous to the dangerous image he presented was the bouquet of pale pink roses that he held in one hand.

Angel had been waiting for Buffy outside her class for almost half an hour before the class had ended. When she hadn’t come out, he had entered the class to look for her. He hadn’t expected to find a drooling puppy at her side with a hopeful expression on his face. A powerful, almost unrecognizable, emotion had assailed him at first sight; he controlled the urge to curl his hands into fists and strike out at the man.

At the first, unexpected glance of her husband, Buffy felt a warm rush of pleasure and that now familiar ache in her heart. “Angel.” His name came out as a breathy half-question.

“Buffy.” Angel said simply, turning to look at his wife. Buffy’s way of saying his name never failed to affect him powerfully.  It curbed his temper somewhat that she seemed distracted and uninterested in the guy at her side.  He pushed away from the door and moved toward her. His gaze drifted over her lazily, taking in the sheer white top with the camisole beneath, the faded jeans that he knew from memory to be snug and low on her hips, and finally her dainty feet in the open-toed sandals with pink-painted toenails peeking out from beneath the hem of the long jeans.

Riley looked from one to the other uncertainly, the tension between the pair obvious. He took exception to the possessive look and the proprietary tone in the man’s voice, the thought never occurring to him that the young, beautiful blonde might have a boyfriend – much less a husband. The fact that she wore a wedding band had gone completely unnoticed.  Turning to Buffy, he asked in a low voice, “Do you want me to ask him to leave, Buffy?”

Realizing that she had been staring at Angel since she had spotted him in the doorway, Buffy finally pulled her eyes away from her husband to look at Riley, who had come to his feet next to her. “No, Riley. This is my husband, Angel. Angel, this is Riley Finn.”

“Finn.” Angel replied mildly, a slight challenge in his voice, as he strolled over to where Buffy still sat. Leaning down slightly, he held the flowers out to Buffy. “Peace offering?” he murmured softly, dismissing the sandy haired man that was watching them with interest. “Can we talk?”

Taking the flowers from him, Buffy looked at him with a hopeful expression. Her pulse began to hammer wildly and the urge to smile bubbled inside her. “Yes, of course. Now?”

“Now.” Angel answered, reaching for her hand as she came to her feet. “If that’s okay with you,” he amended politely, taking her book bag from her.

“It is. I mean, I have almost two hours.” Buffy smiled slightly, butterflies in her stomach fluttering wildly. He was here. With flowers! Surely that meant. well, something.

“See ya, Finn.” Angel smirked, draping his arm possessively over Buffy’s shoulder as they walked toward the door.

Ethan Rayne signed the document on his desk with a scrawl before answering the buzz of the intercom with an irritated sigh, “Yes? What is it?”

“You have a Mr. McDonald here to see you, sir.” Eve said crisply, even as her eyes roved suggestively over the good looking man standing in front of her desk. He gave her a wink and a smile as he waited for entry to her boss’s office.

“Send him in.” Ethan muttered, setting the expensive Waterman pen aside.  In front of him, stacks of paper littered his desk; a pile of letters that demanded attention set on one side. There always seemed to be some unfinished business that he had had to handle personally; something he didn’t trust anyone else to handle.

Lindsey strolled nonchalantly into the expansive office suite, unconcerned that his casual attire looked out of place in the formal atmosphere. He opened the antique cherry wood humidor that sat on one corner of the desk and took two of the expensive Cuban cigars. Tucking one of them in his pocket, he took a seat opposite Ethan in one of the leather chairs facing the desk. Leaning back, he propped his feet up on the desk and toyed with the other cigar, rolling it between his fingers.

“Yes, Mr. McDonald?” Ethan inquired, noting with disdain the worn cowboy boots and ragged jeans. Leaning back in his chair, he clasped his hands together in front of him. “Have you something important to tell me, or did you simply wish to partake of my cigars and hospitality?  I’ve told you before that I prefer that you not come to my office unless I call you.”

Reaching in his jacket pocket, Lindsey tossed an envelope on Ethan’s desk. “I think you’ll find everything you wanted on the insurance deal in LA.”

“Well done,” the wealthy banker muttered, already begrudging the money that he had spent on what he perceived to be such an easy task. He should instead have paid his P.I. firm by the hour instead of assignment. “I suppose I could have taken care of the matter myself.”

“But you didn’t,” Lindsey replied cheekily, “and you were in a hurry, if I recall.”

“Yes. You’ll be paid the agreed on sum, Mr. McDonald.” Ethan said bitterly. “Anything else?”

“Lilah’s closing up the paperwork now on those offshore accounts that you wanted, and I’ve tripled checked the background on that hotel buy. By the way, did you know that the owner of the hotel – the one that didn’t want to sell – disappeared mysteriously?  It’s quite a coincidence, should you ask me.”

“Yes, quite.” The wealthy businessman replied drolly, “And the other matter?”

“Ah. The O’Connor marriage?” Swiveling in his chair, Lindsey put his feet on the floor. “I’m still working a few angles on it.”

“I expected you to have it wrapped up by now, Mr. McDonald. You assured me that it would not be a problem.” Ethan leaned forward on his desk, his brows rising inquisitively.

“It’s not a problem, it’s just more complicated than you led me to believe.” Lindsey returned confidently.

“Complicated? How can it be complicated?” Ethan asked, pressing his fingers to the bridge of his nose.

“The situation is not as simple as you think. Let’s just say, I believe more women than just your granddaughter are willing to do favors for Angel O’Connor. Not that I’d mind if Ms. Buffy Summers wanted to do me a favor or two.”

“Just do what you have to do to resolve the situation as I requested,” Ethan interrupted curtly. “Preferably this week. I want Angel O’Connor deported.” He had overheard his granddaughter once again discussing ‘Angel’ O’Connor on the phone just the other day which meant she wasn’t quite out of the young man’s clutches. He’d since taken to monitoring her expenses closely to assure himself that she wasn’t wasting money on the good-for-nothing Irish bastard; what more would he have to do?

Lindsey recognized anger and frustration. In his profession, one became a specialist at discerning body language, tone and manner. Ethan Rayne was too immoral to have a conscience, and too mired in illegal activities to be concerned about something as minor as breaking up a marriage; something else was causing his consternation. Money, he mused, could be one explanation. Ethan was certainly attached to the almighty dollar. Perhaps he thought Angel O’Connor was planning to steal the family fortune. Family, he supposed, could be the other, noting the picture of Cordelia Chase on the credenza behind him. He no doubt thought that his granddaughter was still involved with O’Connor. Lindsey controlled the smirk that threatened to pass at the notion of either of the two suppositions; if only Ethan knew the truth.

However, taking full advantage of the situation was another skill at which Lindsey excelled. Casually, he let out a slow, low whistle, “Expediency will cost you.”

“We agreed on a fee when you took on the task.”

“The rules of the game have changed.” Lindsey replied calmly. His casual lounging position in the chair belied the level of his attentiveness.

“I’ll find someone else then.” Ethan snapped brusquely, tapping his fingers on the desk.

“Be my guest,” the young P.I. countered silkily, his green eyes glittering coldly. He knew Ethan would be hard pressed to find someone else that he trusted at such short notice. He also knew as much about Ethan’s various business interests as Ethan himself; something that made him indispensable and invaluable. And exceptionally dangerous – for both of them.

“You’re extortion knows no bounds, Mr. McDonald.” Ethan murmured with a hint of admiration. “Is your business partner aware of your predilection for changing the rules in the middle of the game?”

“Are you suggesting that I’m pocketing the extra fee that I’m planning to charge?” Lindsey smoothly murmured as he came to his feet, “Because we can trade insults all day long.”

“Just do your job, Mr. McDonald,” Ethan ground out, irritation evident in every syllable. “Now get out of my office. I don’t wish to see you here again unless I call for you.”

The bench was tucked behind the art building, near the campus duck pond and gardens. It was off the main path between buildings, and offered as much privacy as could be expected on a busy college campus. The fresh air and sunshine were welcome, however, after a sleepless night of emotional turmoil.

“How did you find me?” Buffy asked as Angel sat down next to her. Her nerves were on edge, as if she were expecting news that might prove disastrous to her peace of mind.

He smiled. “Do you think I don’t know your schedule?”

“Oh. I guess I never thought about it.” She replied, toying with the petal of one fragrant rose. She knew his schedule by memory, but she never thought he had paid close attention to hers; it was a pleasant surprise. “So… you wanted to talk?”

“I did. I do.” He corrected quickly, glancing away briefly to collect his thoughts. It was the first time he had ever gone out of his way to apologize to a woman; he was way out of his comfort zone. “Buffy… about last night… I’m sorry.” He had only gone as far as Dublin’s pub downstairs, where he had sat in a back corner booth and nursed a couple of glasses of whiskey for the better part of four hours, watching the various sports games in an attempt to distract himself from the anger and frustration that he felt.

She looked at him through half-lowered lashes. “I’m sorry too, Angel. I… well, I should trust you.”

Angel sighed softly, raking his fingers through his hair. “I shouldn’t have left.”

“Well, no, not if we ever want to resolve anything when we argue.” Buffy agreed quietly, her shoulders rising almost imperceptibly and the corners of her lips lifting in a small smile, “And no matter how much we try, we will argue about something again – even if it’s just who left the cap off the toothpaste.”

“You left it off again?”  He mocked, a playful smile on his face. He reached for her hand, his fingers closing around hers and squeezing gently. His expression turned serious, “This is new for both of us, you know. We’ll just have to figure it out as we go.”

“I know.” She murmured softly in agreement.

“So, are we okay then?” he asked, his thumb rubbing the back of her hand gently. Too long inured to the possibility of love, he knew only that he intensely disliked the discord between he and Buffy and had sought to end it in the most expedient way possible.

“Angel?  I… I need to ask you a question,” she said in a hushed, hesitant voice, “and I need you to give me a direct answer.”

“Anything, Buffy. You only need to ask.” He bent slightly to look her in the eye.

“Are you…” She paused, searching for the right words. She pulled her hand from his grasp and sat back on the bench as if distance would make it easier. Twirling the silver band on her finger around nervously, she finally asked, “Are you still seeing – or planning to see – Cordelia?”

“No, I’m not.” Angel answered without hesitation. It surprised him that she would still have the question in her mind.

Buffy felt a significant measure of relief at hearing those words, yet still a corner of her brain demanded more. Her chin came up a fraction.  “What about Kate? Or anyone else?”

“I’m not interested in anyone but you.”

“Really?” She said happily, a warm glow of contentment spreading through her senses.

“Really. If we weren’t in the middle of campus, I’d find a better way to convince you of that.” He smiled, reaching out and recapturing her hand. He brought it to his lips and pressed a warm, soft kiss in her palm. “And you?”

“Me?” Buffy questioned in a sweetly innocent tone even as a shiver raced up her spine at the promise in his dark eyes and the feel of his lips against her skin.

“Yes, you. Is there someone else that you want to see? That guy Finn, maybe?” He asked much too impudently, his lips curving into a smile.

“Um, well, actually I’m glad you brought it up. There is this one guy.” She answered, glancing at him coyly out of the corner of her eye.

One eyebrow lifted in question; the impertinent look vanished from his expression.

“He’s tall. Big, too. And mean. Really mean.” She teased, recalling what Anya had admitted, without a trace of embarrassment, to having said to Angel when he visited Patina. Buffy had been chagrined to think that Angel might believe that was what she was telling people about him rather than something Anya had made up, but the Patina hostess had only smirked in response.

In a sudden economy of motion, Angel yanked Buffy forward and lifted her into his lap. She let out a small startled squeak as he grinned roguishly, “That so?”

Buffy returned his smile, her fingers tracing a small pattern on his shirt along his collarbone. Quietly, her tone serious, she asked, “Are you sure about this?”

“This?” He inquired innocently, bending to brush a light kiss on her lips. “Or us?”

“Either. Both.” She gazed up at his face as her hand crept along his shoulder to toy with the short hairs at the nape of his neck.

“I…” Angel paused, caught off guard by unfamiliar emotions. He didn’t know what, exactly, was prompting him. He only knew that happiness seemed oddly tangible when she was near. After only a few seconds, he finally found an answer, “As sure as I am about anything. What about you?”

“Yes. I’m sure.” She said, her heart beating wildly as her eyes searched his. Without thought, she leaned closer and pressed a kiss to his lips. Her eyes closed as they kissed, gently, sweetly.

“Come home with me,” he whispered several long seconds later, his breath warm on her lips. He brushed her hair back from her face tenderly, “for a little while?”

“I would but I have to be at Patina at six. And if we go home…” She kissed him again, a delicate kiss that changed swiftly to the familiar, impatient passion that she adored. She sighed softly as the kiss ended and his lips traced a path over her cheek to her ear. “If we go home I might not make it to work.”

“So call in sick.” He urged, his palms drifting down her back as he nibbled on the sensitive shell of her ear. “Stay home with me.”

She shivered, goose bumps forming on her arms. She was trying hard to keep from simply sinking in his arms and giving herself up to his kisses. Another few minutes and she wouldn’t care that they were on a bench in the middle of the UC Sunnydale campus. “You’re so bad. Snyder will kill me if I call in only two hours before my shift.”

He pulled back and dropped a kiss on her nose. He knew her strong sense of responsibility and her determination to always meet her obligations. “Okay…” Reluctantly he lifted her from his lap and sat her on her feet, then stood next to her taking her hand in his. “Then I’ll meet you at the restaurant tonight when you get off.”

Buffy smiled up at him as they made their way across campus to the library.

A sweet affinity quite separate from lust pervaded both their senses that afternoon.

Angel was in good humor as he walked through the gated patio and into Patina. He joked with Anya for a few minutes before he made his way to the sparsely crowded bar. He was almost an hour early, so he had plenty of time to kill. Ordering a drink, he leaned against the bar and casually glanced through the shadowed interior of the lounge area. His eyes narrowed as he spotted a familiar figure sitting at a table along the back wall. Picking up his drink, he walked toward the table where the man was seated.

“McDonald,” Angel said brusquely, his tone unwelcoming.

“Ah, wasn’t sure you’d remember me, what with the crowd at the Kendall’s party and all,” Lindsey replied placidly, gesturing to the chair across from him, “Have a seat.”

Angel ignored the offered chair, giving it only a cursory glance before returning his gaze to Lindsey’s face. “I tend to remember the guys that try to pick up my wife,” he declared insolently, a hint of a challenge in his voice. He vaguely remembered that Anya had mentioned that she was dating Lindsey, but it didn’t stop the irrational feelings that coursed through his system upon seeing the guy in relatively close proximity to Buffy – again. “What are you doing here?”

Lindsey shrugged and held up his beer in answer before taking a healthy drink. “Suit yourself. Though I thought you might be interested in shootin’ the breeze for a while. You’ve got what? An hour or so to wait until the missus is off?”

“Not sure I care to know why you know Buffy’s schedule. That could be…” Angel replied, his smile urbane, his voice too soft, deadly provocation in his gaze. He placed one foot on the chair and leaned forward, “unhealthy.”

“Maybe,” He acknowledged his eyebrows quirking upward slightly, the slight flare of his eyes the only perceptible sign of any unease. The vehemence in Angel’s tone surprised him a little, but then Lindsey had been in plenty of difficult spots; it took a hell of a lot more than words and implied threats to truly ruffle his feathers.

Lindsey waved a hand to signal the waiter working the bar, “We could both use another drink,” he returned calmly as he gestured for another round of drinks for both of them. He drank down the last of his beer and sat the bottle on the table with a solid thud before returning his gaze to Angel’s face. “It’s up to you, but since what I have to say concerns your wife.” he nodded in the direction of the restaurant where Buffy could now be seen delivering plates of food to one of her tables, “I’m thinking you might want to reconsider.”

After almost thirty seconds of deliberation, Angel reluctantly sat down.

Buffy was sitting in the center of the bed when Angel walked into the bedroom. One of her textbooks was open in her lap, her bare feet crossed beneath her.

“I didn’t know how long you’d be on the phone,” Buffy said almost apologetically, setting the book aside. The walk home from Patina together had been more than pleasant, as were the kisses that they had shared on the couch after they had arrived home. “Is everything okay?”

Angel had reluctantly answered the phone when his Uncle Giles voice was heard on the machine, concerned that a late call meant problems. Buffy had gone in the bedroom to give him privacy for the call, though she was a little concerned that it now seemed presumptuous.

Closing the door softly behind him, Angel replied, “Fine. Apparently I’m going to have a cousin. Jenny’s about six weeks pregnant.”

“Ah. That’s great!” She smiled and fell back on the pillows in a playful sprawl. Abruptly she rolled over on her side, her eyes searching his. “That is… great, right?”

“Yes. They’re very happy about it,” he answered, glancing over at the clock near the bed. “It’s late. Are you tired?”

“A little…” Buffy replied softly, her nerves tingling in now familiar anticipation as he moved toward her.

He stood at the side of the bed and held out his hand. Their fingers touched then their hands melded together, their fingers interlacing, “You can sleep here… with me.” His tone was soft, cajoling.

“I don’t know.” Buffy swallowed, suddenly nervous. Still, a sweeping rush of warmth swept through her at the thought, at Angel’s warm heated gaze. “I’m not sure. I mean.”

“We don’t have to make love.” He watched her carefully, noting the heightened color in her cheeks. “But I would like to kiss you. To touch you.”

Her direct gaze held his for a moment.  Without releasing his hand, she reached over with her other hand and turned off the light. Deliberately, she moved back on the bed to make room for him.

“Angel,” Buffy ventured softly as she slid into his arms, snuggling into his tall, powerful frame, still tautly muscled despite the lounging pose. His dark eyes were watching her with a now familiar intensity. How would it feel to be surrounded by his potent virility and strength? To feel him deep inside her?  What would it be like to know him in such intimate detail?  An answering spiral of heat melted downward within her and pooled between her legs. “I want to, you know. That is, I want to make love to you. I just… I’ve never.”

“I know. Kiss me,” he murmured encouragingly, running his palm up her back to cup the back of her head. Bending his head low, his lips touched her lightly before his tongue slipped between her lips, adding to the heated trail of fire curling inside her. His arms tightened, pulling her more securely against him.

Buffy responding willingly, exulting in the elusive, steadily building desire. Her mouth opened wider, her tongue twining with his, boldly encouraging him to take more.

Angel’s hands roamed over her body, reacquainting himself with her curves as his mouth devoured hers. He wanted her with a primitive emotion that demanded to be sated; but not tonight. First, he wanted her trust. He had told her that they would not make love tonight, and he would keep his promise. But soon he would have her beneath him in this very bed.

Swiftly, his fingers unbuttoned the white shirt that she wore and slipped it back over her shoulders. He tossed it somewhere off the side of the bed, and his hands returned expeditiously to the zipper on her skirt. Buffy helped him shimmy it down her hips and off to join her shirt on the floor.

“You feel good,” Buffy murmured breathlessly, her hand returning to his shoulder and slipping under his collar to curl around his nape. Her fingers toyed with the short hairs as she lifted her lips to his once again.

Kissing her hungrily, Angel cupped her breast in his hand. Though the thin silk of her bra, he stroked and caressed the firm mound, teasing the taut peak of her nipple with the brushing sweep of his thumb.

Reaching for the top button on his shirt, Buffy undid it slowly. Her hands moved with increasing speed down the next few buttons, stopping when she reached his belt. She murmured softly, the sound trapped between their lips. In response, Angel shifted back slightly, and Buffy tugged his shirt out of his pants. Unfastening the few remaining buttons, she slid the slick material down his arms, brushing her palms over his powerful shoulders in a slow caress.

Breaking their kiss, Angel shrugged out of his shirt, tossing it aside carelessly. Returning to Buffy, he brushed open-mouthed kisses along her cheek, moving down her throat to linger at her shoulder. He eased the strap of her bra down her arm, pulling the soft silk away from her breast to stroke her bare flesh. A few seconds later, Buffy impatiently unclasped her bra and tugged it off to join the rest of her clothing on the floor.

His hands shifted on her body, rolling her on her back as his lips returned to hers in a heated, intrusive kiss. He settled between her thighs, his longer, harder frame pressing her down into the soft mattress.

Beneath him, Buffy twined her arms around Angel’s neck holding him close. Their kisses grew heady; more demanding. When he at last lifted his head, she inhaled deeply, filling her starved lungs.

Angel nipped playfully at her throat as he slowly moved lower; her nerves tightened in anticipation, her nipples tingling as she waited for the addictive pleasure of his mouth. He looked up her briefly, his lips curving into a knowing and sure smile, before he slowly lowered his head to her breasts.

Buffy mewled softly, sinking her fingers into the thick mass of his hair as she gave herself up to the intoxicating play of his lips and tongue, the hot wet suction of his mouth. Her need grew steadily as he caressed then tweaked the tight aching peaks of her nipples, pressing hot kisses to every inch of the soft skin surrounding them as he leisurely worshiped her body. She arched into his mouth, her low breathy gasps filling the room as her fingers clenched tightly, holding him close.

He shifted lower, his lips trailing down her abdomen with warm, wet kisses. One hand still stroked her breasts, massaging, squeezing, caressing. He paused briefly when he reached her navel, stopping to circle it with this tongue. The fingers of one hand drifted along her ribs then down her waist to stop at the lacy elastic of her panties on one hip.

Breathless, Buffy tensed, wondering what he was intending. Her fingers flexed, and she opened her eyes to look down at him.

Angel lifted his head, and their eyes met; hers were lambent and luminous, his were dark and fathomless in the shadowy bedroom. Both pairs were filled with longing and desire.

He moved lower on the bed, parting her legs further to accommodate his wide shoulders. His hand glided along her thigh, over her hip to rest on her stomach, his palm, firm and possessive on her warm, soft skin. Buffy couldn’t take her eyes from his, even as he reached for the elastic on her hips and began to peel the tiny lace panties down her legs.

Her breath strangled in her throat even as she lifted her hips and helped him remove her last article of clothing, leaving her nude before him. Her head dropped back to the bed as his fingers brushed her curls, slowly, artfully. He caressed, stroked, and finally probed, his finger slipping inside just enough to tease, to send her frenzied senses scrambling.

Under his skilled touch, her body came to life. Her hips lifted in anticipation of each caress, her nerves tightening and her muscles tensing. Angel pushed her higher, caressing the sensitive nub of her clit with his thumb as his finger slipped steadily deeper in her now slick and swollen folds. Leaning forward, he brushed her thigh with a soft kiss.

At the first touch of his lips between her legs, Buffy lost all capacity to think. A tidal wave of exquisite sensation surged and swept through her, sending her pulse racing and her heart hammering in her chest. She wanted to protest the intimate act, but instead moaned as the wicked pleasure threatened to engulf her. Her cheeks flushed with embarrassment, but the pleasure he brought her could not be denied.

Seemingly of their own accord, her hips writhed and twisted, but his hands closed over them, holding her still. Buffy squirmed helplessly, mewling and fighting for breath as he lapped at her, stroking her with his tongue and showing her the shared pleasure that could be found in such an intimate act.  Her embarrassment melted away with the sheer ecstasy as he continued the delicious torment.

“Angelll.” His name escaped her lips on a breathy sigh. The implosion of sensation caught her suddenly and a high, keening cry escaped her lips as she fractured; hurled into a sensual, explosive ecstasy where, for that one blinding moment, nothing mattered but the intense, glorious pleasure.

Exultant, Angel savored her release and the powerful contractions that rippled through her body as he continued his erotic licking caresses. He waited for the last tremor to subside before he eased back and lifted his head.

Ignoring the intense ache in his groin, he studied the now still form of his wife. She was gloriously spent, dazed, and without a doubt, sated. His eyes traveled over her naked form with possessive fervor. He dropped a kiss on her stomach as he moved to her side. Stripping off all but his boxers – a small barrier of self-control – he lay next to her, pulling her against his side.

Covering them with the thin sheet and blanket, he closed his eyes and slept.

At the loud knock, Gunn rose to his feet and walked toward the door, his eyes never leaving the pre-game coverage of the basketball game that was on TV. It was one of the few games between the Clippers and the Lakers and was, despite being pre-season, expected to be tense due to the intense local rivalry between the two teams.

Fred was in the back of the rented house, currently painting the bedroom for the third time having decided that neither “Bellflower Blue” nor “Caspian Sea” was exactly the right shade of blue. “Lynx Lake” was, however, looking promising.

“Hey.” Gunn greeted as he opened the door to see Angel, Wes and Doyle. Angel was carrying a brown grocery bag, Doyle held a twelve pack of beer in each hand, and Wes carried a pizza box. The guys had agreed to get together for the Tuesday night game several weeks ago and fortunately, everyone’s schedule cooperated. “‘Bout time, game’s about to start.”

“Is that paint I smell?” Wesley asked with a frown as the guys followed Gunn to the dining table that sat at one end of the combined living room and dining area.

“Yeah, Fred’s painting the bedroom. Again.” Gunn answered with a slight roll of his eyes. “The yellow that was in there when we moved in was bad Feng Shui – or so she says – and the previous two shades of blue were not quite the right color to rebalance the room or some such thing.” His expression mirrored his thoughts, as he obviously didn’t share his girlfriend’s objections to the colors or her unwavering perseverance to correct the matter.

“Shouldn’t you be helping?” Angel questioned as he took the chips and salsa out of the bag and set them on the table. Opening a bag of corn chips, he popped one in his mouth, catching the incredulous stares of his friends.

“Helping? With the Clippers and Lakers starting in ten minutes?” Gunn said with a facetious lift of his brows, “Are you kiddin’ me?”

“You’re asking the wrong guy,” Doyle asserted with a grin, “Angel there missed the Rangers and Portstewart to take the wife out to dinner.”

“No shit?!” Gunn exclaimed laughingly, taking the two beers that Wes handed him and passing one to Doyle and the other to Angel.

“Oh, but it was worth it.” Angel replied with a shrug, his smile sportive.

“You missed that game? Can you still call yourself Irish?” Wes chimed in with a wink, picking up the bottle opener and popping the metal cap off his beer.

“Yo, speaking of that,” Gunn interrupted, slapping his hands together. “Dr. Walsh, your friend from the BCIS, came by yesterday.”

“Yeah?” Angel said curiously, pausing in lifting the bottle in his hand to his mouth.

“That is one uptight woman.” Gunn declared with a shake of his head. “And when did they change their name from the INS? I musta missed that memo.”

“What’d she say?” Angel asked calmly, though his shoulders tensed.

“She asked some questions about how you and Buffy met, why you married, if I thought your behavior was ‘typical’.”

“Sounds similar to what she asked me,” Wes nodded agreeably, glancing back at Angel.

“She gave me the distinct impression that she thinks you got married just to stay in the country.” Gunn said seriously, taking the bottle opener from Wes and opening his own beer.

Angel searched for the right thing to say. He had married Buffy to stay in the country; but that seemed so long ago now, things had changed so much since then. Still, for reasons he couldn’t quite discern, he didn’t want to tell his friends that – at least not yet. “So what’d you tell her?”

“Well, I started to tell her how I could never imagine you married, but instead I told her the truth – that I’ve never seen a man as whipped as you.” Gunn joked, holding up his beer in mock toast, “One look at Buffy and you were done for.”

“Next sound was wedding bells and he’s not been the same since.” Wes added with a laugh, clinking bottles with Gunn before slapping Angel companionably on the shoulder.

“Game’s starting,” Doyle said, glancing at the television as he loaded his plate with a combination of pizza, chips, and salsa. “But I think he’s onto something there,” He added, gesturing toward Gunn with his beer bottle, as he looked directly at Angel, “of course, it’s not hard to figure out, you know. No doubt he’s endured hours of hearing about the wonder that is Buffy when he’s attempting to study criminal law with you that’s led to that conclusion.  And that’s without being drug out of bed at the crack of dawn to watch you run off your sexual frustration.”

“Uh, thanks. I think.” Angel returned with a touch of friendly sarcasm in his voice.

He endured their good-natured teasing about his marriage and his obvious affection for his wife for another twenty minutes before the conversation finally shifted to sports and the game.

Two days later…

Angel walked through the door just after five o’clock, carrying a small bouquet of flowers. As expected, Buffy was sitting on the couch studying – her typical position most often when she was home.

“Oh, Angel, they’re beautiful. You shouldn’t have.” Buffy said with a smile as she took the elaborate paper wrapped arrangement of red and white blooms from him and started toward the kitchen. She inhaled the delicate fragrance of the roses and lilies as she reached for a glass pitcher that was to serve as a makeshift vase.

“It’s a special occasion.” He leaned against the counter behind her, watching her. “And we’re going out.”

“Really?”  She turned from the sink to look at him. “Which occasion would that be?”

“It’s our five month anniversary.” Angel grinned as he crossed one leg over the other at the ankle, “Don’t tell me you forgot.”

“I didn’t forget… exactly.” Buffy murmured in reply, her heart suddenly beating wildly in her chest. She was taken by surprise that he remembered, since they had never done anything to mark the occasion before. She was also suddenly wishing she had some gift to give him in return.

“I thought we’d go down to the beach. There’s a great hotdog stand at the pier, and if you want dessert, there’s cotton candy.” His expression was playful. He knew though, how much she loved the beach, she had mentioned it several times.

“Wow, hotdogs and cotton candy. You’re going all out here, aren’t you?” Buffy teased, setting the flowers on the counter with a proud smile. Stepping over to where Angel stood, she went into his arms easily, naturally.

“Of course. Five month anniversaries don’t come along every day.” He dropped a kiss on her nose, reminded suddenly of his Uncle’s words earlier when he had happened to mention the date and occasion in their brief phone conversation. With a smile in his voice, Giles had said something to the effect of ‘when it hits, you’ll know it’.  Not that Angel was exactly admitting that anything had hit.

“I should change then,” Buffy said, feeling absurdly happy, “if we’re going out.”

“You look great.” Angel murmured huskily, his eyes drifting lazily over the baby blue figure hugging sundress that she wore. The thin straps revealed her tan shoulders in a way that beckoned for him to slide them down; the skirt was decorated with flowers, giving it a very feminine, flirty look. “Just wear that.”

When they arrived at the restaurant Angel selected, they were shown to an intimate table in the corner near the window with a magnificent view of the ocean and sunset.  Dinner was casual but superb, conversation flowed easily, Angel was endearingly sweet, and by the end of the meal, Buffy felt as if she had walked into a fairytale – indulged and pampered by the handsome prince.  Afterwards, they took a walk along the pier and then down the beach, enjoying the late fall warmth of the evening and each others company.

“This is all a little overwhelming,” Buffy said softly, tucked securely in the curve of Angel’s arm as they sat at the edge of the water on a quiet stretch of beach. In the pink-hued, slowly darkening sky, the lapping of the waves was soothing as were the pervasive salt tang of the air and the melodic and repetitive call of the seagulls. They were familiar sights and sounds that Buffy had always found a calming respite, particularly during her mother’s illness; now they took on new meaning sharing them with Angel.

“The ocean?”

“No, you,” she said with a smile, brushing her hair out of her eyes, “I keep thinking I’m dreaming. Pinch me.”

“I’ll be happy to, babe, but let’s wait until we get home,” Angel said with a smile. His arms tightened and he pulled her closer, leaning down to nuzzle her ear, “then I’ll pinch you wherever you want.”

“Mmm… promises.” Buffy murmured softly, her hand sliding up his back as she leaned her head against his arm.

“What do you say about taking the weekend off?” His voice was soft and low, his fingers moving in a subtle caress on her ribs.

“What did you have in mind?” Leaning back slightly, Buffy looked up at him from under her lashes.

His eyes, darker in the fading light, met hers. Her head tilted back even further as a tiny frisson of heat crept up her spine at the mesmerizing look. Raising his hand, his fingertips skimmed her cheek before moving along her jaw, barely touching. Bending, Angel lowered his head and brushed her lips with a butterfly light kiss. “I was thinking about you and me.”

The barest touch of his lips on hers brought forth the now familiar ache of want. He nibbled gently at her lips, lingeringly before his mouth settled on hers. Angling his head, the pressure of his lips increased as he deepened the kiss.

There was magic in the air, surrounding them as desire rose, hot and enthralling and whirled through her. The tip of his tongue traced her lips, caressing. Melting against him, she parted her lips on a soft sigh and willingly delighted in the intimate caress as his tongue slipped into her mouth to twine with hers.

Several heated kisses later, Angel finally drew back.

Her senses reeling, Buffy opened her eyes and studied his face.

“I was thinking about you and me… spending the weekend together… in bed,” he murmured softly, running his palm down her back, stroking soothingly, seductively. His breath was warm against her ear as he added, “Naked. Skin to skin.”

Buffy’s breath hitched slightly, and she closed her eyes.

“I want to spend the entire weekend making love to you,” He whispered the words against her throat as he planted soft, open-mouthed kisses along the smooth column, “kissing you, touching you, exploring every delicious inch of you. I want to be inside you.”

The husky words set her nerves on edge and sent her heart racing; her skin tingled. She shivered.

He turned, his lips returning to hers with a deep, soul-stirring kiss as he eased her down on the soft sand. His mouth moved on hers in a primitive, elemental call to her senses.

Buffy responded eagerly, her tongue slipping in his mouth to tangle with his as mind-whirling anticipation surged with forceful intensity.

The desire that had been building between them for weeks, smoldered, flared then exploded, the flames licking greedily and devouring any last trace of resistance.  Buffy twined her arms around his neck, wanting more of the beckoning pleasure.  She pressed herself against him in unconscious entreaty, her hips rocking unconsciously against the powerful body intimately pressed to hers, seeking to ease her hunger.

Their lips parted for less than a heartbeat before they met again with a steadily mounting, compelling urgency. Tongues twined, sliding sensuously together. Moving one hand to his shoulder, Buffy flexed her fingers in a desperate attempt to get closer. Angel shifted slightly and his muscles flexed beneath her hand, his strength, his body fascinating her.

Their kiss changed from hungry to ravenous; Angel’s hand crept up her waist and closed over her breast. His fingers kneaded and stroked as lightening raced through her veins; his thumb found the tight peak of her nipple, rubbing in delicate caress.

Buffy hauled in a gasping breath as his mouth moved to her throat. Giddy, her senses reeling, she arched her back and pressed more firmly into his caressing hand.

A nearby shout brought them to their senses.

Angel lifted his head, his arms tightening protectively as he looked up in the direction of the noise. Panting softly and still clinging to him, Buffy followed his gaze.  A short distance down the beach a raucous group was setting up an evening party spot.

With a sigh, he returned his gaze to her face, “Ready to go home?”

“Soon,” Buffy murmured softly as she pulled his head back down to hers. She knew only that she wanted more of him; she was unconcerned about the group in sight of them on the beach.

There was a hunger in their kisses, an unleashed passion that lurked just below the surface clamoring for release. Angel’s tongue tangled with hers, intimately enticing, before settling into a slow, repetitive probing rhythm.

How much longer they stayed there, kissing, touching, Buffy couldn’t say; when they finally separated she had lost touch with the world.

The white of Angel’s teeth gleamed in the dark. “I’ll be counting down the hours until the weekend.”  He took her mouth in one last, searching kiss before pushing back and coming to his feet.  Extending his hand, he helped her up and began brushing the sand from her clothing.

She blinked up at him, her eyes luminous in the dim light. Reaching up, she traced the line of his brow with her fingertips. “By my watch the weekend starts in about eighteen hours, give or take a few minutes.”

One eyebrow quirking upward, Angel reached for her hand. “I can’t wait.”

“Mmm… me either.” Buffy murmured softly, returning his smile. “Now what excuse do you think I should give Snyder?”

Walking hand in hand, they made their way back to the car.

“So what’s the important shopping situation?” Willow questioned as she dropped her book bag and purse in the back seat of Buffy’s jeep.

“I need something. For tonight.” Buffy replied, looking in the rear-view mirror, then the side mirror, before pulling away from the curb and into the early afternoon traffic. She had called Willow early that morning and asked if she’d mind missing their afternoon classes in order to hit the mall and a few boutiques.

“Something, huh? Well that narrows it down.” The red-head laughed in response, glancing at her friend out of the corner of her eye.

“Something…” Buffy searched for the appropriate word as she drove through the intersection and turned right, heading toward downtown Sunnydale. Her voice dropped an octave, “sexy.”

“Sexy? Are we talking ‘going out and knocking somebody’s socks off’ dressy sexy here?” Willow asked with an impish gleam in her eye. She flipped down the sun visor and checked her teeth in the small mirror.

“Yes.” The petite blonde answered, but then amended, “Well, but not the going out part. And maybe more than socks.”

“Oh-oh-oh!” Willow squealed animatedly, snapping the visor up and turning toward her best friend. “You mean sexy sexy. So then you and Angel, you’re gonna… you know?”

“I think so. I mean yeah, we are.” Buffy chewed her lower lip thoughtfully as she scanned the row of cars in search of a parking spot. “And I want something special to wear.”

“Tonight? You’re going to-to do it tonight?” The red-haired girl pointed off to the right, “There’s one. That car’s leaving. Are you going someplace special? Details, I want details. Well, not all of them, but some.”

“I took off from Patina this weekend, so we’re spending it together – just me and Angel.” The young blonde answered as she guided the car into the parking spot along the curb. “I don’t think we’re going anywhere. At least if we are, Angel didn’t say.”

“Wow, Buffy, wow! I knew you and Angel had a thing… you know, a good thing. I’m really happy for you.”

“Thanks Will.” Buffy smiled as she opened the door and got out of the car.

“So where are we going first?” Willow asked cheerfully, shielding her eyes from the glare of the afternoon sun.

“I thought we’d try Chloe’s and Bonne Nuit then maybe head over to the mall to Victoria’s Secret and La Petit Coquette,” Buffy said happily, looping her arm through Willow’s as they started down the street.

Laughing, Willow teased, “You know, he’s only going to let you wear whatever it is that you buy for only like ten minutes, right?”

“Well then I want to look really, really good for those ten minutes.” The petite blonde returned with an answering laugh and a faint blush.

The afternoon passed in a whirl as the two women made their way to the various shops. Buffy tried on dozens of lacy, frothy, silky confections before deciding on a sensual ivory silk gown with a decorative lace bodice, a high side slit and low plunging back. In addition, Willow talked her into buying a light pink mesh baby-doll with black lace trim and a black embroidered merry widow style corset and sheer black stockings. She wasn’t entirely sure she’d ever wear the latter, but then the thought of Angel’s jaw dropping – as Willow assured her that it definitely would if she wore it – definitely gave her a wicked urge to give it a try.

Angel glanced up from the book in his lap and looked out the window. Just as Buffy had requested when she had gotten home, he was staying away from the bedroom while she did – whatever it was she was doing – in preparation for their evening. He had picked up a book to read, but instead his mind had been focused on his now-habitual obsession: his wife.

Her image rose in his mind – her smile that flirted across her lips when she looked at him, her beautiful hazel green eyes that watched him with such intensity, her soft, rich golden hair and petite but oh-so-perfect figure. the taut coral nipples that beckoned for his lips, the warm, wet honeyed heat of her delicate core.

Standing, he paced over to the window and attempted to curb his lusty thoughts. His desire for his wife had grown stronger, if that was even possible, in the last few days. He wanted her more than he could ever recall wanting someone – or even something – before – yet even as he wanted to ease the ache in his body, he questioned if there was something more he could do to make this night special for her. Should he have taken her away, to some romantic resort? At the very least, he could still take her out to a nice, elegant dinner… but where?


Her soft voice interrupted his thoughts and he turned from the window. Buffy stood near the sofa, still in the shadows as the sunlight streamed in the windows behind him.

When she came forward, into view, Angel’s breath caught in his throat, his every muscle tensing, rigid with… not shock exactly, but something far greater than surprise. He swallowed hard, his gaze locked on her as he took in what she was – and wasn’t – wearing. The ivory gown clung seductively to her figure, in no way concealed by the diaphanous robe hanging open from her shoulders.

She walked toward him, one tan, slim leg revealed by the high, side slit with each step. He couldn’t move, couldn’t take his eyes off of her; his entire focus was on the woman standing in front of him, her body so beautifully and temptingly displayed.

Buffy didn’t stop until she reached him, the whisper soft silk swirling around her. Meeting his gaze directly, expectantly, she slid one hand up his arm to his shoulder. Her other palm splayed flat on his chest.

Angel’s control was tenuous; taking a deep breath, he managed to choke out, “Are you sure? We could go to dinner… first.”

Swaying closer, her thighs brushing his, her breasts pressing into his chest, she smiled a sweet, understanding, patronizing smile. There was more than a hint of challenge in her eyes. Her gaze dropped to his lips, “I’m not hungry for food.”

Without conscious thought, he lifted his hands to rest on the gentle curve of her hips. He fought back the desire to simply haul her close, toss her on the nearby table and ease the fierce ache in his body. It was a desire infinitely stronger, more compelling than anything he had felt before.

Slipping her arms around his neck, Buffy rose up on her tiptoes and drew his head down to hers. When her lips were almost touching his, she murmured softly, “Stop thinking. Just-”

Angel covered her lips with his, stopping her words. The kiss was hungry, demanding as he gave up trying to control his desire for his wife.  His hands slid over the smooth silk, caressing her hips before his arms closed around her, dragging her closer, molding her small frame into his body.

Buffy clung to him avidly, returning his kisses, flagrantly inviting him to seize, to take, to claim. With her heart pounding rapidly in her chest, she felt as though she had been waiting for this moment her entire life.

Without breaking their kiss, Angel tightened his arms around her and lifted her in his arms. He walked slowly toward the bedroom, stopping every few steps as if taking time to savor each kiss.

Finally reaching the bed, he unhurriedly lowered her so that she was kneeling, facing him. His hands roved over her body beneath the robe, cupping her bottom, pressing her firmly against the rigid length of his erection, while his tongue continued to plunder her mouth.

Senses whirling, Buffy drew back from the kiss. “Your clothes,” she murmured, her voice coming out in breathy gasps, as she reached for the buttons of his shirt.

Suddenly impatient, Angel pulled the shirt out his pants and helped with the buttons. When she slid the shirt back over his shoulders, he shrugged it off and tossed it aside with barely restrained violence.

Cupping her face with his palms, he tilted her face to look up at him. Buffy studied his eyes, seeing clearly the dark, burning passion, the hint of wildness. For her. It was a heady feeling, an aphrodisiac in fact, to know that she could affect him so powerfully.

He bent his head, nuzzling her jaw. “You’re beautiful.”

Turning her head, she enticed his lips back to hers with an eager kiss.  Her hands swept over the smooth skin of his chest, splayed and touched, searched and grasped – delighting in the feel of the hot skin, the tense and rigid muscles. The long muscles of his back flexed as her wandering hands slipped around him, acquainting herself with his body. Impulsively, she broke off their kiss and ran her mouth down his neck. Her lips and tongue followed where her hands had been only seconds before, exploring and tasting, filling her senses with him.

Angel buried his hands in her hair as she moved lower, teasing his flat nipples with small, nipping bites then alternatively soothing them with laving licks of her tongue. Playfully, she traced his collarbone with her tongue, stopping to lave at the pulse beat in his throat for several long seconds before sucking the skin between her teeth. Her hands, never still, danced along his ribs, slipping lower to stop at the waistband of his pants. He froze, breath held, as she unbuckled his belt, then grappled with the button, releasing it with a satisfied sigh. A small groan escaped his lips when she lightly skimmed the line of his erection with her fingers.

Glancing up at his face, Buffy could tell that his attention had shifted. His breathing was shallow, his senses distracted by her subtle movements as she steadily lowered his zipper. After only a pulse beat of hesitation, she reached between the gaping material to find him, hard as she expected, yet the velvety smooth skin was hotter than she had anticipated. She dropped a kiss on his shoulder as her questing fingers circled the solid length of his cock, squeezing gently. Taking her time, she varied her strokes, her rhythm and her grip, trying to discern what he liked best; how to please him. And, she thought wickedly, glancing up at his face through the fringe of her lashes, how to provoke him.

Tugging gently at her hair, Angel pulled her face back to his, and his lips found hers in a deep, searching kiss. She was only vaguely aware of him stripping the robe from her shoulders, pausing in her ministrations and releasing him only long enough to pass the smooth material over her hand and off to pool on the floor at their feet.

Angel’s control grew more uncertain with each passing second; her every touch, if somewhat lacking in subtlety or finesse due to her inexperience, was guided by instinct and enthusiasm – and was, from his perspective, just shy of heaven.  Her body – warm and supple beneath his hands – and, soon, spread beneath him in his bed – would, however, be the ultimate ecstasy. The licking flame of anticipation to take her rode him hard, causing a surge of pure unadulterated lust to race through his body, hardening and lengthening the part of his anatomy that she currently held in her hand.

Buffy felt it, her thumb sweeping over the head of his erection to massage the few drops of liquid evidence of his desire into his skin. After a few seconds, he captured her wrist, dragging her hand away from him. Wrapping his arms around her, he pulled her closer. She sucked eagerly on his probing tongue as he cupped her bottom, lifting her into him as he devoured her mouth in a drugging kiss that sent her senses reeling.  Completely unresisting, Buffy sank into his arms, reveling in the feel of his body against hers, the silken gown offering no real barrier to sensation.

Breaking their kiss, Angel lowered his head at the same time he arched Buffy back over one strong arm. His mouth covered one pebbled nipple through the silky fabric and he suckled fiercely.

Gasping, Buffy dropped her head back even as she buried her fingers in Angel’s hair in an attempt to steady herself. After almost a minute, he tugged the straps of the gown down, baring her to his gaze. His arm tightened on her waist as he returned his lips to her bare skin. He licked and suckled – torturing the taut peaks for several long minutes, his mouth hot on her skin.  His other hand pushed the material of her gown lower, growing impatient when it stalled at her hips – the fitted gown designed to be pulled over her head.

Angel drew back and straightened, his gaze fixed on her swollen nipples. Buffy helped him pull the gown over her head. It was only then that she realized that he had somehow kicked off his shoes and removed his pants.  As naked as she, he was now standing in front of her. She licked her lips and swallowed hard, a momentary shiver of fear passing through her.

Pushing it aside, Buffy reached for him. Angel once more drew her back in his arms, his lips finding hers again as his hands roamed over her curves with explicit intention. She matched him kiss for kiss as their desire rose higher, into a raging, unfettered need.

Buffy sighed softly and clutched him closer, delighting in the feel of his hard body against hers, hot and urgent, his desire for her never more evident than it was tonight. It swept away her last vestige of modesty and any remaining reservations.

Urging her back on the bed, Angel lifted one knee and parted her thighs. Her breath hitched, tangling in her throat as his knee brushed the sensitive apex gently, deliberately pressing against the neatly trimmed curls with a steady, knowing pressure. His clever fingers replaced his knee as she melted back into the bed. He teased, retreated, only to return and tease again until she was helplessly clinging to his shoulders, just on the brink of climax.

Her nerves tight with anticipation, she waited as he shifted away to draw something out of the table near the bed.  She watched with interest as he rolled the latex sheath over his erection before joining her on the bed.

The touch of his thighs, parting hers, reinforced the intimacy of the situation and sent her senses tumbling in disarray. Arms braced, Angel held himself over her. He shifted fractionally, and she felt the touch of the hard, blunt head press against her intimately. He moved again, pressing forward, and she felt the hard strength parting her swollen, slippery folds. Beneath him, Buffy tensed.

Angel stopped, every muscle taut, and glanced at Buffy’s face. He planted soft kisses on her lips, her eyes, her cheeks, as his hips flexed, sliding forward just a little. He withdrew slightly and she whimpered, clutching at him.

“Easy,” He whispered softly, reversing direction and pushing forward again in shallow, tantalizing thrusts.

Buffy sucked in a breath, exhaling softly as he withdrew again. Slowly, she began to relax, growing accustomed to the size and feel of him.

Angel lowered his head; Buffy lifted her lips to meet his. He kissed her lightly, his attention still focused on the steady flexing of his hips, gliding forward ever so slightly before retreating to begin the pattern anew.

Gradually she began to respond, her hips rising to meet him, her body arching into him, wanting more. Bit by bit, the ache threatened to consume her, leaving her wet and open and so hungry with desire, that she whimpered softly and dug her fingernails into his back when he attempted to withdrawal from her again.

Angel kissed her ravenously, his tongue deep in her mouth, plundering. She felt him shift his hips again, his weight settling more heavily on her. After a brief hesitation, he thrust forward powerfully.

Buffy cried out softly, the sound captured his mouth. He drove forward, stretching her, impaling her deeply until he was seated to the hilt.  She struggled for breath, struggled to comprehend the feel of him, hard and hot and strong, embedded deep with in her, filling her more completely than she imagined possible.

Lifting his head, Angel studied her face. He licked away the single tear that leaked from her eye as he murmured soft words against her skin, love words, seductive words that told her how good she felt, how much he wanted her. When he finally drew back and pressed in again, she tensed, expecting the same sharp pain. Instead, she was surprised to feel only a minor twinge of discomfort; he moved again, slow and steady, and by degrees her defensive tension began to unwind.

As she relaxed, the intimacy of the moment captured her. She gradually became aware of her nipples brushing the smooth hot skin of his chest as she writhed beneath him, the delicate brush of his hair against her cheek as he kissed her neck, the hard strength of his legs between hers.  Her earlier hunger began to return as passion stirred within her, reignited.

“Stay with me, babe,” he murmured as he withdrew completely, only to thrust forward more forcefully than before. A streaking rush of sensation shot through her at what she perceived to be more of a growled command, and she twined her arms around his neck, arching up to meet his next downward stroke.

Buffy tugged his head down, nibbling and biting at his lower lips as the relentless, repetitive movements fed the steady, growing whirlwind of desire. Restlessly they moved together as the unrestrained swell surged higher, the force frightening, thrilling and utterly compelling.

She arched wildly, taking him deeper, wanting him more intensely, satisfied only when he thrust harder, faster, even more powerfully than before. She keened softly, sinking her nails into his shoulders as their bodies merged and came together in desperate need. Could one die from such heated pleasure? She wondered briefly. She would have given anything in that moment to reach the elusive peak of desire that beckoned with steadily escalating urgency.

In the next instant she felt it; she let go of her hold on reality as her body imploded with shimmering sensation, the spark flashing through every quivering nerve to melt through her skin. Screaming his name, she reached that soul-shattering, unearthly, divine climax.

Angel dragged a deep breath into his lungs; his eyes closed tight as he felt the shuddering convulsions of her orgasm surround him. Driven by a need he could no longer control, an ache that had gone unfulfilled for what seemed like weeks now, he thrust hard and deep. Release came crashing through him with an unsurpassed intensity, leaving him spent and exhausted – and more deeply sated than he had ever been in his life.

With the machine turned on to answer calls on the first ring and turned down so that they didn’t have to hear the caller’s voice, the two lovers spent the weekend in blissful, isolated companionship. Angel made Buffy breakfast in bed, and in turn she smilingly fed him from her plate. They cuddled together and pretended to watch TV, spending more time kissing and searching out sensitive spots than watching whatever program was on.  They made love often, Angel showing Buffy the pleasurable delights that could be had in the shower, on the sofa and even once, on the kitchen table. Buffy, in turn, exerted a growing assertiveness and growing abandon in her sexuality that Angel found both endearing and incredibly seductive.

When the alarm went off Monday morning, a cruel reminder that their pleasurable weekend interlude was over, Angel reluctantly let Buffy slip out of his grasp.

Tired but smiling, she gave Angel a lingering goodbye kiss at the door before she headed out to teach her kickboxing class.  She had only reached the bottom step, before she turned and raced back up the stairs.

Faith owed her several times over; surely the brunette wouldn’t mind teaching her class this morning.

Twenty minutes later Buffy was happily ensconced back in bed, legs parted and draped over her husband’s shoulders as he showed his appreciation for her return.