It was hard to tell where his limbs ended and hers began. Ethan hated that. For whatever reason, this particular conquest had an incredibly annoying need to drape herself all over him after he’d fucked her, entwining legs and fingers until he had this overwhelming desire to chop all of hers off. He wouldn’t, of course. When she wasn’t turning the pair of them into jigsaw puzzles, she used those delightful nails of hers to score his back, those long, elegant legs to wrap around his hips and tug him closer as he pumped in and out of her lovely quim. In his mind, it made for an even trade in the long run. At least, until he got bored with the predictability of fucking her. That was an unfortunate side effect to most of his so-called relationships.
The breeze that came in through the open balcony doors lifted a strand of her hair to tickle his nose, and Ethan shifted to be rid of the offending touch. Though he knew he should likely get up and send the girl home, the effort to move right then was too much for him. Drying sweat made his bare back stick to the wooden floor, and his muscles were liquid after their vigorous workout. All he wanted was to get a few hours sleep before---.
A door slammed from the front of the condo.
Too late. She was already here.
Briefly, he considered moving rather than getting caught so flagrante delicto. But then, the thought of Buffy seeing him like this---the blush that would stain her cheeks, the heat that would rise from those supple curves---made him dismiss the notion. Though he’d thought himself sated, his cock began to harden again at the pictures dancing through his head. It was her fault anyway, he rationalized. She wasn’t supposed to be back for hours yet.
Feigning sleep, he listened to the steady rhythm of her footsteps as she moved about the outer rooms. The refrigerator opened and closed, and he could practically see her emptying the bottle of water she would’ve taken from the shelf she designated as hers. That long neck, the muscles working in her throat…
The girl above him stirred in her sleep, her thigh brushing against Ethan’s cock. He bit back the groan that threatened to escape.
The footsteps grew nearer, louder, and then paused outside the bedroom door. He knew Buffy was debating entering; it was one of the few barriers he still had to fight with her. She insisted on hanging onto those last vestiges of social propriety which drove him mad half the time. Well. He’d just have to do something about it then.
Taking a deep breath, Ethan concentrated on the link between them that he’d spent the last eight years forging. These days, it mostly lay dormant, waiting for his will to guide it, but now…now, it flowed with an ebony indolence that still made the hairs stand up on the back of his neck, the electrical charge from the contact rippling across his skin. If he hadn’t been hard prior to initiating it, he would most certainly have been after. The power was intoxicating.
He almost smiled when he heard her turn the door knob. Sometimes it was just too easy.
Her tread was slower, more hesitant, as she stepped into his bedroom. Closer, and closer, and then around the wing-backed chair…
“Oh, god, get a room!” Buffy exclaimed.
Ethan opened his eyes to see his Slayer illuminated by the moonlight streaming in from the balcony. “I believe I’m already there,” he said lazily. His mouth curved into a smile when he saw her staring down at him in horrified fascination, and deliberately stretched his leg, exposing just enough of his bare hip to make Buffy squeak and avert her eyes.
“You could at least try and make it to the bed once in a while,” she complained. “I train on this floor, you know.”
“I know. That just makes this all the more enjoyable.” He chuckled at her sound of disgust. “Besides, you weren’t supposed to be back until well after midnight. Don’t tell me things went badly at the club.”
There was a rush of plastic, and the carrier bag he only just noticed dangling from her hand landed on the floor next to him. “And thanks for letting me know it was a guy who had it,” Buffy said, her voice brittle.
“Now, if I’d told you that, you wouldn’t have killed him.”
Ethan frowned, reaching for the bag. “What did you bring me, then?”
“Oh, it’s still the ring you wanted. I just got around that little clause about it not coming off living flesh by taking the whole thumb.”
He immediately recoiled as he caught sight of the bloody appendage. “I suppose I should be grateful he wasn’t wearing it elsewhere on his person, then,” he muttered, pushing the bag delicately away. “Do be a good Slayer and clean it up for me, would you?”
The shake of her head was vehement. “My job is done here,” she said, backing toward the door. “You wanted your little decoder ring, you got it. I’m going out to have some well-deserved fun and frolicking now.”
She was halfway out the door when she paused. Ethan could feel the indecision darkening her senses, and tugged enough at the connection to draw her a few feet back into the room. The moonlight glinted off the obsidian stone in her ring as she twisted it around her finger, but the shadows effectively hid her face from his scrutiny.
“What is it?” he asked.
“There was this guy at the club…” For a moment, she sounded fifteen again. “An English guy. He knew I was the Slayer.”
Though his gut immediately clenched, Ethan maintained an outward appearance of disinterest. “What makes you say that?”
“He talked to me. He…said things.”
“Did he look like a Watcher?”
“Did he prattle on about fulfilling your destiny or some such nonsense like that?”
“Not exactly, but---.”
“So, if it doesn’t look like a duck, or quack like a duck, why on earth do you think this prat’s a duck?”
Silence filled the room. She was considering his question far too seriously.
“He’s probably just someone who’s seen you in action,” Ethan pressed. “And it is a demon club, remember. You’ve been clearing out their riff-raff for a week now in payment for letting you get to our young friend tonight. Someone was bound to see you.”
“Look.” Pulling away from the girl still draped over him, Ethan reached for his robe pooled on the floor nearby and slipped it on as he rose to his feet. “Our business with La Muerte Pequeña is over now. If this man disturbed you so greatly, don’t go back. In fact…” He cinched the robe around his waist. “…I’m putting my foot down. Go out and have some fun. I’m sure you can find some nice demons to rip apart, or a nice young man to---.”
“Enough.” Buffy held up her hand to cut him off. “I get the idea.”
He took a step closer and placed his hands on her shoulders, turning her to face him directly. “Don’t worry,” he said evenly, relishing the surge through his veins touching her created. This was one side effect of the connection he absolutely loved. “History does not always repeat itself. I wouldn’t have brought you back to Los Angeles if I thought there was any danger for you. Well, any more than normal, at least. And besides, I saved you the first time, didn’t I?” His smile was sly. “If something happens, I’ll just save you again. I do so love making a grand entrance.”
His small joke wiped the frown lines from between her eyes, though Ethan knew it was just as much from the power of his will as it was anything else. “Gotta watch out for that armor, though,” Buffy said. Her voice was softening, the effect of the connection lowering her defenses to him even further. “I hear it chafes.”
He couldn’t resist. The assault touching her created in his flesh was too delectable not to prolong.
Slowly, Ethan let his right hand slide from Buffy’s shoulder, gliding across her bare arm until his fingers curled around the back of hers, nestling the tiny hand in his larger one. The possessive hold made her lift her chin, hazel eyes luminous in the silvery light filtering from the balcony, but other than the hastening rise and fall of her chest, she made no movement to pull away.
“But if I am a knight,” he murmured, “that would make you a damsel in distress.” The corner of his mouth lifted as he pulled their hands closer to his body, slipping them between the silken folds of his robe. “And you’re far too strong to ever be considered so weak, aren’t you, my dear?”
“Yes.” A breath. Barely heard. But accompanied by such a powerful squeeze around his hard cock that Ethan hissed between his teeth.
“Yessss,” he repeated. He took his hand away, the pleasure almost excruciating as she began pumping up and down his shaft of her own volition. Well, mostly her own volition. “You know I only want the best for you, don’t you?” he said. He trailed a single finger between her breasts, noticing how her nipples hardened beneath the fabric of her tiny top. “Everything I’ve done, I’ve done just so that you can be happy.”
Her stroking continued. She had the most magnificent technique, just the right amount of pressure at the base and then sliding all the way up, around the head, running the pad of her thumb across the slit before pumping back down again. He had taught her well.
The words of encouragement tumbled from his mouth, pretty little lies that his Slayer was so desperate for, so well practiced over their years together. Sometimes, Ethan almost believed them. Sometimes, the need in her eyes was so haunting that he could almost convince himself that he meant every syllable. She had a vulnerability beneath her smooth Slayer exterior that had proved dangerous on more than one occasion; it often gave the deceit a veneer of sincerity that was frighteningly tantalizing. Tonight was no exception.
Her rhythm never changed. She knew he liked it hard; she knew she could get him to come. But as the pressure started to build inside him, Ethan’s words faded, and he made the mistake of glancing down into her face.
He saw the one thing that could spoil such moments for him.
Complete and utter surrender.
His grip on her shoulder tensed. The delight in power was getting it; once in hand, it had a way of turning sour on Ethan, stealing the joy of what he’d done to achieve it. He wanted Buffy to capitulate; he wanted her to succumb to his lead. But he wanted her to fight it every step of the way. He wanted the ferocious young teenager he’d killed and brought back to life without her precious Council’s knowledge, the one angry at the world, at destiny, at everything that wasn’t him. This, while a victory, was hollow.
And not what he wanted.
Reluctantly, he reached down and pried her hand away from his cock, wincing at the absence of her strength and heat. “Go,” he ordered, pushing Buffy away. He put on his best smile for her. “Have fun. The night’s still young, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t enjoy it.”
For a moment, she looked as if she was going to argue with him, and hope flared again inside Ethan’s gut. “OK,” she finally said, and began to retreat for the door. “I’ll go be happy-go-lucky girl. Heavy on the happy.”
And with that, she was gone.
As soon as the door closed behind her, Ethan’s smile vanished, his mood darkening as he struggled to take command back of his traitorous body. There were other matters to be concerned with, and as much as he loved his cock, it currently wasn’t one of them.
He didn’t believe a word of the tale he’d spun for her, but if she genuinely suspected that the Council was in town, he wasn’t entirely sure how she would react. The last time they’d been threatened by the hint of the Council was in Cleveland, a godforsaken hole that had been an unfortunately necessary stop. She’d disappeared for two days after they’d had the run-in with the unknown Watcher, and it had taken nearly all of Ethan’s resources to find her again.
He’d kept the connection active for six months after that. He couldn’t risk losing her again.
But Los Angeles was a bigger city than Cleveland. There was a possibility that his version of the events was right. Perhaps Buffy wasn’t in any danger after all.
Even as he thought it, though, he knew it wasn’t true. It was genuine anxiety he’d picked up from Buffy. And if Buffy was worried…he must be, too. If he wanted to get out of this town with his skin and Slayer intact. His skin took precedence, of course, but he fervently hoped it wouldn’t come down to a choice between the two.
“Right, then,” he said out loud, and his voice seemed to echo in the room. Turning to look down at the woman who’d somehow slept through the entire exchange, Ethan nudged her shoulder with his bare foot. “Rise and shine---.” He stopped. Bugger. He could never remember this one’s name. Ah, well, best to go with the classics, then. “---lover. All good things must come to an end. Though, I certainly thought that was better than good.”
She groaned, rolling onto her back as her eyes fluttered open. “What’s wrong?” she asked.
“You’re not moving fast enough,” he replied. Crossing to the bed, he picked up the clothes she’d left there and tossed them toward her. “I have business I need to attend to which requires you not being here.”
With a pout, she stood up and slipped her tiny dress over her head. For a moment, Ethan hesitated, captivated by the sight of her long legs gleaming in the moonlight. The urge to sink his aching cock into her pussy, or better yet, lay back while she rode him into oblivion, was seductive. It would certainly take the edge off.
He actually took a step toward her before he stopped himself. Not only didn’t he have time to indulge---as much as he might want to---but there was another factor involved that would tarnish the encounter.
She wasn’t Buffy.
Turning his back to her, Ethan crossed to the balcony doors. He glanced down to the street and saw the small form of his Slayer hurrying down the sidewalk, off to whatever adventure she would seek to distract herself, and his fingers automatically went to the heavy ring on his left hand. At least one of them would have a pleasant night.
“When will I see you again?” she asked.
“That depends on my business. If all goes well, tomorrow night. If not---.”
“I’ll hope for well, then.”
There was a scurry of feet padding across the wooden floor and then the door closing behind her as she left the room. That was one other thing he liked about this girl. She knew better than to try and drag out goodbyes.
It was like a whisper, echoing somewhere in the furthest recesses of her mind, but no matter how much it taunted, how tenaciously it begged her attention, the whole of it eluded Buffy’s grasp. Something wasn’t quite right; she knew that. She knew. But Ethan said not to worry, so she wouldn’t. Ethan said go have fun, so she’d go and do so. Ethan said their business at La Muerte Pequeña was over, but in that…
Ethan was wrong.
She arrived at the club much as she had the first time, hungry eyes on her every step of the way. This time, though, her nonchalance was as phony as the human countenances the vampires wore. She wasn’t blind to their presence; she knew that it was likely more than half of the clientele was demon. But while it kept her on edge being surrounded by so many of them, it was an edge Buffy relished.
Her body hummed. Her skin vibrated in oscillations so swift and so minute as to be invisible to anyone but her. She was ravenous, and bowstring tight, ready to take on and take down any who might cross her path. At the moment, the vampires were safe from her. It was an Englishman for whom she was currently on the prowl.
The look Javier shot her as she circled his bar was a curious one, but he stayed behind the counter, seemingly content to just watch her progress. Buffy felt a pang of disappointment when the Englishman was nowhere to be seen, but the night was still young and she had all the time in the world. She was under orders to have fun. She could satisfy both of her goals on the dance floor.
The fuck wasn’t nearly as satisfying as Spike wanted. In the end, he had to shove the girl face first into the wall and take her from behind, sinking his fangs deep into her neck as he slammed his cock into her pussy one last time. Discarding her drained body with the dead Fyarls, he returned to the main room of the club with a thirst only half-slaked and a body buzzing for something more. Satisfaction was yet to be his.
He saw her almost immediately. The DJ had switched to something with a beat that made the air pulse more strongly than the dozens of hearts between the club walls, and the Slayer had returned to take full advantage of it. Surrounded by a group of salivating young men, she writhed and twisted to the music, oblivious to their avarice, immersed in each swing and undulation of her own flesh.
Lost, lost little girl.
The thought popped from nowhere, and while his gaze was just as keen as any other male in the room, Spike knew there was at least an ounce of truth in it. The details the Watcher had shared were sketchy; the Council had thought this one dead until just recently when reports about the rogue Slayer had trickled back to their stuffy offices. But they’d learned more since, about her current conquests, about her rather haphazard morality in going to work for demons. That was one reason why they wanted her dead.
Spike was just interested in the money he was getting paid to do it for them. That, and adding another Slayer notch to his belt.
The way she danced, though…
There was a wild abandon to her movements, like a flame caught in a powerful wind but too strong to be extinguished. It was as if she was trying to prove something, but whether that was to herself or someone unknown in the room, he didn’t know.
He did know he wasn’t the only one so interested in the Slayer’s presence. Behind the bar, one of the two vampire owners watched her with a guarded calculation that didn’t completely mesh with the information Spike had on their relationship. Supposedly, they’d had a business partnership, culminating in her attack on the young bloke who had Jutta’s Ring. The idiot didn’t even know what he had with the ring; it had taken all of Spike’s willpower not to laugh at what he knew was coming for the kid. Nobody could’ve been more shocked than he when he’d seen the kid stumbling from the back room with his bloody stump tucked close to his chest. The girl was resourceful.
It made the prospect of fighting her all that much more delicious.
Every once in awhile, a reprieve in the music sent the Slayer up to the bar, where she joked and teased with the vampire bartender. She was slamming back drink after drink, but not once did Spike see her stumble or falter. Curious, he moved around to the end of the bar, nicking one of her empty glasses before the bartender could take it back and giving it a surreptitious sniff. Not alcohol. Water. But with something else. He had no idea what the something else actually was, though.
The night crept on. One by one, the Slayer outdanced each of her would-be admirers, smiling and teasing even as she pushed them away. By the time they rang out for last call, there was only a handful left, but they scattered when the bartender came around to place a possessive hand on her elbow. She tittered and laughed as she waved goodbye to the dissipating crowd, but followed him willingly when he led her to the back of the club.
From the shadows of the corner, Spike frowned. Their business was supposed to be over. What was she doing sneaking away?
He left the club with the others, but slunk around the alley to make his way to the nightclub’s rear entrance. Research, he told himself. Studying the Slayer. Wouldn’t do to not be aware of all of her little tricks. Especially if she had allies that might come to her aid at the last minute. If that’s what these vampires were---.
A loud crash made the alley resonate. Spike’s senses went on alert, his head jerking up as he crept the remaining distance to the club’s back, peering around the corner to survey just what was going on.
He immediately stiffened.
A crowd of vampires circled the Slayer, whose arms were being held behind her back by the bartender. Though she was struggling in his hold, she wasn’t breaking free, and the panic was starting to register in the sweat on her skin. The scent was divine, but its full effect was lost on Spike as the awareness of what was going on sank in.
These gits were about to steal his bounty by killing the Slayer first.
To be continued in Chapter 3: Dance into the Midnight Whirlpool…