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Solace

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~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Joyce Summers sighed as Kim and Tracy abandoned her at the bar in favor of dancing with the young- and emphasis on the young- men who had asked them. She had no idea why she was there other than she’d been ganged up on by her daughters and her two best friends. She wasn’t good company right now. There was so much to do. Packing, getting Buffy and Dawn enrolled in their new schools, signing the papers for the house and the gallery, leaving Los Angeles. So many changes. So many possibilities. It was a little overwhelming.

She was startled from her thoughts by a glass of white wine appearing in front of her. She blinked at it a couple of times before looking up and meeting the eyes of the bartender. He just gave her a sympathetic smile before moving on to the next customer. She hadn’t ordered anything yet. Goodness. Did she really look like she needed a drink that badly? Finally, Joyce just shrugged, thought ‘what the hell,’ and took a sip. It was surprisingly good.

Joyce nursed the glass of wine as she studied the crowd. It was early by most clubbing standards she supposed, so it wasn’t too crowded. She was sure in an hour or so one would hardly be able to move for the press of bodies. She hoped Kim and Tracy would be ready to leave by then. She spied her friends out on the dance floor and almost choked on the sip of wine she had just taken. What were they doing?!

“Would you care to dance?”

Joyce tore her eyes away from the spectacle her friends’ were making of themselves and looked into the most striking pair of blue eyes she had ever seen. They were framed by dark lashes and she felt like she could drown in them if given half a chance. She gave herself a mental shake and took in the rest of his face. Her mouth went dry at the chiseled cheekbones and well-defined lips. The shock of platinum blond hair was a little surprising, but didn’t really detract from the overall package. The man was gorgeous. And young. Very young.

She watched as one dark eyebrow rose and his lips curved into a smirk and realized that he had asked her a question. She felt her cheeks heat and cleared her throat before saying, “I beg your pardon?”

He held out his hand and cocked his head slightly to the side. “I asked if you would like to dance.”

Oh, his accent was delicious.

Joyce blinked at him. “Dance? With you?”

Both eyebrows went up and she could see that he was fighting a laugh. “Well, we are in a dance club,” he answered, his voice rich with amusement.

She bit her lip in indecision and watched his eyes soften. He took her hand and stepped a little closer to her. “It’s just a dance, luv.” He took a step back, then another, and Joyce followed him out onto the dance floor.

“Right,” she murmured to herself, “Just a dance.”

~*~

Spike spotted her at the bar the moment her friends hit the dance floor. He had seen them in Persuasion before, but not her. She looked so completely out of place, but he gave her credit for not bolting. Newly divorced, if he had to wager, and her friends were trying to cheer her up. He wondered if her friends really knew her at all. This wasn’t really the place for her.

He made his way downstairs and had a word with his bartender. Bobby gave him a nod and left to fill the order. Spike watched the woman as Bobby set the glass of wine in front of her. Her thoughts were far away, as evidenced by the confusion on her face as she stared at the drink. She finally took it and Spike relaxed a little. He watched her watch the crowd and followed her eye-line when she choked on a sip of wine. Not much surprised him anymore, but even he blinked at what was going on, on his dance floor. Her friends were certainly enthusiastic.

Deciding that now was the time; he made his way over to her. “Would you care to dance?” he asked.

She turned towards him and he watched her eyes widen in surprise. He let her look her fill, but couldn’t help a little smirk as she just stared at him. She flushed a becoming shade of pink and said, “I beg your pardon?”

He held out his hand, cocking his head slightly to the side. “I asked if you would like to dance.”

She blinked at him and he started to wonder if she’d had a bit to drink before coming to the club. It wasn’t a difficult question. “Dance? With you?” she asked and her tone was one of confusion; like she couldn’t understand why he would be asking her. Not tipsy then; just low self-esteem.

Still, he couldn’t help teasing her a little. “Well, we are in a dance club.”

She bit her lip and his heart ached for her. He didn’t know her story, but he could take a pretty good guess. He took her hand and was pleased when she didn’t tense up. He stepped a little closer and said, “It’s just a dance, luv.” Well, it would be more than that if he had his way, but a dance was good enough for now. He took a step back then another and he was pleased when she followed him.

He gave her a ghost of smile when he heard her murmur, “Right, just a dance.”

~*~

One dance turned into many, and Joyce started to remember how it felt to be young and carefree and happy again. Her dance partner was very good. He was also possessive. Several others had tried to cut in, but he had turned them away before she could. Joyce was grateful. They had looked younger than he did and that just made her uncomfortable.

They had paused in their dancing for a few drinks, but it was so noisy that they couldn’t really talk. Joyce didn’t even know his name. Just when she was ready to take a break again, her partner smiled at her as he took her hand and led her through the crowd. She followed him up the stairs to an office that had Manager stenciled on the door. She frowned a little, but followed him inside. The noise was muted considerably when he closed the door. The near-silence was welcome after the cacophony downstairs.

Joyce looked around uneasily. “Are you sure we should be in here?”

He smiled at her as he crossed the office and opened a small refrigerator. He pulled out two bottles of water and handed her one as he said, “Well, it is my office so I would say yeah.”

Her eyes widened. “You’re the manager? But you’re so young!”

He chuckled as he walked over to the window and closed the blinds. “I’m twenty-four. Plenty old enough to know what I’m doing.” His voice had gone husky as he said the last and Joyce swallowed.

Oh my, she thought, he couldn’t possibly…. Her mind derailed a little as she watched him stalk- there really was no other word to describe it- towards her. She just stood there when he reached her and cupped her face in his hands. When his lips met hers, she shivered. Her mouth opened of its own accord even as her eyes slid shut. She vaguely heard him moan, then felt the brush of his tongue against hers. That jolted her out of her stupor and she jerked her head back. He let his hands slide down to her waist, but he didn’t release her. It took a moment for him to open his eyes and Joyce almost forgot why she had stopped the kiss at the look on his face.

“You taste like sin,” he muttered as he leaned back in.

Joyce got one hand up and placed it on his chest to keep him at bay. Her fingers flexed unconsciously and his eyelids fluttered as she kneaded his chest. She barely contained a whimper. This was insanity. “I don’t even know your name,” she finally managed to whisper.

He blinked at her a couple of times then leaned in and nuzzled her neck. “Spike,” he murmured against her skin.

She frowned, even as her knees went weak. “That’s not a name,” she managed.

Spike sighed and pulled back to look her in the eye. “William,” he finally said. “My name is William.”

She offered her own name. “Joyce.”

He smiled at her and to her surprise, lifted her left hand and kissed the back of it. “It’s a pleasure.” His smiled turned wicked and she blushed when he said, “Now that the introductions are out of the way; may I make love to you?”

So bold. He was unlike anyone she had ever known and that was saying something.

“I-I-I,” she stuttered, but didn’t know what to say.

Spike sighed and cupped her face again. He placed a gentle kiss on her lips then said with such sincerity that she felt tears sting her eyes, “I don’t know your story, Joyce, but I do know that you’re unhappy. Let me make you forget your troubles, if only for a little while. No strings. No expectations. Just pleasure.” One of his hands skimmed down, lightly cupping her breast before moving on. “A lot of pleasure,” he murmured.

What could he possibly see in her? She knew she was in good shape, even after two children, but she was so much older than him. She couldn’t mistake the look in his eye or the hardness of his body against her, though. He wanted her and she really wanted to know what that was like again. Joyce took in a shaky breath then threw caution to the wind. “Okay.”

The look he gave her was scorching and Joyce had to wonder what she had gotten herself into. Then he kissed her and she quit thinking at all. What followed was one of the best nights of Joyce’s life. She hadn’t felt that beautiful or sexy or wanted in years. She would have to remember to thank Kim and Tracy for dragging her out on the town. You know, when she could remember how to talk again.

~*~

The more he danced with her, the more Spike wanted her. She moved so gracefully and he knew she didn’t even realize it. There was no way he was letting anyone else get close to her. It made him feel good that she didn’t seem upset that he was the one turning other guys away from her.

He finally couldn’t take it anymore and led her up to his office. It wasn’t ideal, but he knew if the blinds were closed they would remain uninterrupted. He got them some water and tried to set her at ease when she questioned whether they should be there or not.

“Well, it is my office so I’d say yeah.”

“You’re the manager? But you’re so young!”

He couldn’t help his chuckle even as he wondered if she would get so hung up on the age difference that she would turn him down. He figured her for her late thirties, which pleased him. She was old enough to know what she wanted. Age had never been an issue for him and he really hoped she wouldn’t use it as an excuse.

“I’m twenty-four.” As he closed the blinds he looked at her; her face flushed from dancing and, he hoped, arousal. There was a light sheen of perspiration on her skin, making her almost glow in the dim light of his office. She was beautiful. His voice lowered unconsciously. “Plenty old enough to know what I’m doing.”

She licked her lips and he could see her nipples tighten under her blouse, making his control slip a little. He crossed the room to her and cupped her face in his hands, and then he kissed her. She didn’t even hesitate to open her mouth and he moaned in appreciation. His first taste of her was exquisite and ended entirely too soon when she jerked her head back. He let his hands slip to her waist and slowly opened his eyes.

“You taste like sin,” he muttered and leaned back in for another taste.

She put her hand on his chest and he felt her nails dig in a little. God, he couldn’t wait to feel her hands on his bare skin.

“I don’t even know your name,” she whispered.

He leaned in, ignoring her half-hearted attempt to push him back, and nuzzled her neck. “Spike,” he offered.

“That’s not a name,” she said plaintively even as he felt her sag a little against him.

Spike sighed and straightened. He didn’t usually offer his real name, but he didn’t want her to cut and run. “William. My name is William.”

She gave him a tremulous smile. “Joyce.”

He smiled at her and in a fit of whimsy took her left hand and brought it to his lips. “It’s a pleasure.” He decided to just go for it. “Now that the introductions are out of the way; may I make love to you?”

He watched a myriad of expressions chase across her face: shock, confusion, pleasure, fear, hope, uncertainty. “I-I-I.”

He silently cursed whoever had hurt her even as he cupped her face again and kissed her, more gently this time. “I don’t know your story, Joyce, but I do know that you’re unhappy. Let me make you forget your troubles, if only for a little while. No strings. No expectations. Just pleasure.” He skimmed one hand down her body and lightly cupped her breast before moving on. “A lot of pleasure,” he murmured. God, please let her say yes.

He watched her argue with herself before she made her decision. His knees almost buckled at her breathless, “Okay.”

He kissed her and silently vowed to make it a night she would never forget. Later, he vowed to find a way to see her again. One night just wasn’t going to be enough. He would have to find a way to thank her friends for bringing her to his club. Later. A lot later.

-30-