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When the devil comes blowing through your door
You'll know there's trouble, and he's coming back for more
You better keep what is precious hidden under the floor
Or you better treat it so good it will never want for more

***

Hangovers are a dangerous indulgence, especially in an office full of vampires, demons, and lawyers. I lowered my head into my functioning hand and made a mental note not to mix bourbon and adrenaline any more. The sunlight stabbed cheerfully into my office, reminding me that at least I still had a pulse. Considering my prime position in the middle of the Darla, Dru, and Angel family feud, I couldn't really complain.

I thought again about the visit Angel had paid me last night. I still hadn't figured out why he'd come to see me, or what he'd expected me to do. Take a step back, I thought. Think about it like any other case, and break it down into manageable chunks. What facts did I know?

Wolfram and Hart had resurrected Darla in order to turn Angel dark again. She'd eventually broken under the strain and run to him for help. I'd seen that much myself. We'd heard through the supernatural grapevine that he'd undergone some sort of trial, hoping to win Darla's life. His attempt had failed, and by that point, we'd already recruited Drusilla to come to Los Angeles. We'd ambushed and incapacitated Angel, and Drusilla had vamped Darla. And I'd made Angel watch every second of it.

When he'd failed to stop Darla from rising, he'd had some kind of freak-out. I'd been treated to a big taste of it when he'd sentenced me and a dozen of my colleagues to death by vampire. Then he'd completely derailed Darla's plans for gathering up a gang, first by slaughtering all the applicants, and next by setting both Darla and Dru on fire.

Then he'd stopped by my apartment for a friendly chat and a few threats? Didn't make sense. He hadn't pushed me for information. Hadn't even threatened me until I'd been so stupid as to apologize to him. Mostly, he'd blamed me, because it was easier for him to hate a scapegoat than to hate himself.

Why hadn't he killed Darla and Dru? I could only think of two possibilities. Either he hadn't wanted to, or he couldn't bring himself to do it. I didn't know which one worried me more.

Jesus Christ, my head hurt.

Lilah has an unerring instinct for what will irritate me the most, and she chose that moment to wrench open my door. As the noise clamped down on my head like a vise, I winced despite myself. She immediately picked up on my discomfort.

"What's the matter, Lindsey?" she chirped, voice pitched to inflict the maximum amount of pain on my aching head. "Stay out too late last night celebrating our promotion?"

"Something like that," I replied.

Her eyes narrowed. I recognized that look. She was up to something, and she didn't hide it nearly as well as she thought she did.

"I know a conjurer who could clear that headache right up," she said.

"Thanks," I said. "But would my head still be attached to my shoulders by the time he got through with me?"

An oily smile crossed her face. "What can I say? It's not a perfect science."

I was rapidly being reminded that game-playing and hangovers did not mix. "Did you need something, Lilah? Or did you just come by to see if I'd died yet?"

The smile grew larger. With more teeth. "I thought you might like to know that Darla and Drusilla are headed our way."

I tried to play it cool, although my stomach lurched. I couldn't tell if it was from excitement or the smell of someone's breakfast wafting over from the office next door. Grabbing a small remote, I closed the curtains, blocking out the painful sunlight. "Why wasn't I notified?"

"You just were," she said smugly.

No point in pursuing that any further. Let her have her little victory for now. I opened a desk drawer, grabbed four aspirin, and swallowed them dry. They caught in my throat on the way down. Lilah had her mouth open to toss another insult at me, but she was interrupted.

"Move, Lilah." The voice came from behind her, and Lilah scooted out of the doorway immediately, taking refuge along the far wall. Darla had her spooked. I liked that.

Darla sauntered into my office, Drusilla trailing behind her, as usual. The scars weren't that noticeable, but the two of them still bore a few signs of Angel's impromptu barbecue. Darla crossed behind the desk, leaned down, and kissed me on the neck. "Good morning, darling." Her cold lips sent a shiver through me.

"How were the tunnels?" I asked.

"Bearable," she sniffed, straightening up. "It's very inconvenient having to skulk around in those damp sewers. Can't you have some of your lackeys mop them up?"

Right. "I'm afraid that's a little beyond our power, Darla. Besides, all you have to do is call, and I'll be happy to come to you instead."

"Absolutely," chimed in Lilah. "You just tell us what you need--"

Darla whirled around and cut Lilah off with a sharp motion of her hand. "Save the brown-nosing, Lilah. When I want something from you, I'll take it. Isn't that right, Dru?"

Dru smiled lazily. "Yeah. Crack the whip, Grandmum, or the pretty horses will kick off their traces."

"So what can we do for you?" I asked. I didn't have the patience to try and decipher Drusilla's cryptic messages. And my head still hurt.

"Same as always," she purred. "You two have moved up in the world, and Dru and I expect to reap some of the benefits."

I glanced over at Lilah, but her face revealed nothing. Apparently she was willing to let me take the lead until I said something she didn't like. I pushed my chair back from the desk and stood up. I needed water to combat the bourbon-induced dehydration.

"Did you have anything specific in mind? Or were you two just looking for a morning snack? There's a new paralegal in Research."

Darla laughed, the ever-present note of cruelty coloring the sound. "Tempting, but no."

As I awkwardly maneuvered the pitcher into position over the water glass, Drusilla slithered around behind me and sniffed my neck.

"I'm hungry."

"Later, Dru," Darla sighed.

Dru snapped playfully at my throat. "I didn't want him anyway. He's shattered. Spreading pieces of himself all over the ground, like flower petals."

Great. First I was a cow, now I was flower petals. What the hell had Angelus been thinking when he vamped her? Fifty years of this, and I'd have grown a soul just to get away from her. The little patience I had was deteriorating rapidly, and I didn't feel up to this conversation.

Darla's gaze flickered to Drusilla, then returned to regard me curiously before she continued. "Right now, we need contacts. A list of your most powerful clients. I have a feeling we might have some common interests."

Uh-oh. The senior partners were definitely not going to go for that.

"We'll have to clear that with our superiors. Won't we, Lilah?" If she expected me to let her sit on the sidelines through this whole conversation, she was stupider than I thought.

"Of course," Lilah replied, smoothing a nervous hand over her hair. "Some of our clients prize their anonymity." Her expression grew more and more uneasy as Darla stalked toward her.

"I suggest you clear it quickly," Darla whispered. "Or there might be another…unpleasant incident." She turned and headed for the door.

Drusilla looked at me one more time and murmured, "Flower petals, rotting underfoot. Poor baby."

Then they were both gone.

I sighed, finished off the water, and headed back to my desk. Lilah reached for the remote, and as the curtains slid open, she echoed my sigh. "There's no chance the senior partners will authorize our giving Darla a client list."

"Nope."

"Between Darla and our bosses, someone's going to kill us. Soon."

"I know," I agreed. Two death threats in less than twelve hours.

I was starting to feel better already.

***

Devil was your angel, but it's not no more
The devil was your angel when you weren't sure

***

Angel jumped me in the parking garage. No noose this time -- no, he went with brute force, grabbing my arms and half-dragging me into a side aisle. I found myself pinned face-down on the hood of somebody's Lexus, Angel's fangs grazing my neck. He didn't have his hands around my windpipe, and two vampire visits in one day made me feel a little reckless. I started talking over the warning chirp of the car alarm.

"What is your family's obsession with my neck? If you're going to bite me, just get it over with."

He growled, shaking me and slamming me back down against the car. As its alarm went off, nearly deafening me, he hissed in my ear, "You've seen them? Where are they?"

"I don't know."

"Wrong answer." His hands tightened around my arms, individual fingers digging in. I clenched my jaw against the rising pain, then pried it open to answer him.

"Doesn't change the facts, Angel. They know you're trying to find them, and they're not really interested in a repeat of your last meeting."

"So if they know that, and you know that, why haven't you changed your patterns, Lindsey?" He spat out my name like a curse. "I threatened to kill you last night. You could have hired a bodyguard. Varied your hours. It's too easy to get to you. Why?"

What the hell. The truth seemed to be working for me so far. "I like it that way."

He was silent for a moment while he processed that. His grip eased, and the lack of pain felt almost as good as the pain had. I had no idea how he'd react to what I'd said, but I didn't really mind being pinned under him while he decided. I could feel my body heat warming him as he lay along my back. Pretty much the last thing I would have expected to turn me on, but I'd take whatever I could get. Especially where Angel was concerned.

He still hadn't responded, so I pushed him a little further. "You know I can't pass you information. Darla and the firm would trip over each other trying to be the first to kill me."

He heaved me up and flipped me on my back, then pinned me against the car again. The alarm had finally shut off, leaving the garage silent. He leaned down, and the anger rolled off of him, filling the space between us. "And you think I won't kill you?"

"Maybe," I replied, my voice gone soft. "Maybe not. Ask me if I care." I met his gaze unflinchingly, betting that I'd confused the hell out of him. I'd certainly managed to confuse myself. His face was unreadable, but as he leaned into me, I could feel the hard press of his erection against my leg.

Amazing. I definitely had confused him. It made a nice change from straight-up antagonism. I arched up into him, rubbing my erection against his. "What do you want, Angel? Ask nice, and I just might do it."

Some unrecognizable emotion flickered across his face, and then with one last slam, he let go of me and stood upright. "You know what I want. And this isn't it."

"Right," I whispered, still sprawled on the hood of the car. "Then go ahead and kill me. Isn't that what you promised?"

He smiled, deadly in his stillness. "Patience, Lindsey. Soon enough."

As his footsteps echoed through the garage, I laughed, knowing he would hear me. Maybe I'd pushed him too far. But he'd had me on edge since his visit the night before, and I'd gotten a chance to return the favor. I still had no idea what to expect from him, unfortunately. When he'd threatened me last night, I'd been damn sure that he meant it. But now I wasn't so certain.

I stood up, wincing a little as blood seeped back into my legs. The clasp on my briefcase had popped open when it hit the ground, and papers were scattered everywhere, spatters of motor oil soaking into them. I'd have to redo them all in the morning. But it had been worth it to feel him pressed against me, and to see something besides contempt in his eyes. I didn't know who I was dealing with--not Angel the noble hero, and not Angelus the sadistic murderer. Someone in between. And whoever he was, I didn't know what I wanted from him.

But he hadn't killed me, and that was very encouraging.

***

To fight for what is precious, to know what's under the floor
If I could treat it so good, I swear I'd never want for more

***

Demons and scruffy humans filled the club almost to capacity. It reeked of sweat and smoke and stale beer, and a few other scents that turned my stomach. As covert meeting places went, it was just about perfect. I easily spotted Dru and Darla sitting at the bar, surveying the room disdainfully. Despite the crowd, a definite bubble of space surrounded them. Even the nine-foot-tall demon I couldn't identify gave them a wide berth. Maybe their reputation preceded them, although it was more likely that the supernatural grapevine had spread the news of Angel's vendetta. No one likes to be set on fire.

Darla stood as I approached. "Where's Lilah?" she asked, leaning close.

I smiled lazily. "I might have neglected to mention this meeting to her."

A breathy chuckle slipped past her lips. "Naughty boy, Lindsey. That's not very nice."

"And that's why you and I work well together."

She nodded and drew me back to the bar, sandwiching me between her and Drusilla. Probably not the safest position I've ever been in, but the view was sure nice.

"So, my boy, what do you have for me?"

"Two names." I drew the paper from inside my jacket and handed it to Darla. She didn't look pleased.

"Is that the best you can do?" she said, an annoyed frown creasing her face. "I seem to recall making a few threats."

I met her gaze steadily. I'd learned that dealing with Darla was a lot like dealing with a wild animal, and the first rule was to show no fear. "I warned you that it might prove difficult. It's taken me three days of maneuvering just to get these names." I'd pulled in some old favors and made a few threats of my own. "My first loyalty has to be to the firm. They can overlook two names. But if I gave you an entire client list, they'd kill me and Lilah, and then they'd have you two staked. "

Her eyes flickered from me down to the paper in her hand.

"And I can't make any guarantees that either of the people on that list will be interested in what you have to say. So no fair trying to eat me or Lilah if it doesn't work out." I paused for a moment and thought about what I'd said. "Actually, I don't really care what you do to Lilah."

A toss of her blonde hair dismissed my warning. "No matter. Who could resist us? In no time, we'll have our fingers in half the plots in this city."

"Tasty pie," chanted Drusilla. "In goes a thumb, out comes a plum." She licked her index finger, root to tip, and a flash of tongue caught my attention. Then I thought about what might actually be on her fingers and fought back a grimace.

"So," Darla continued, "how is Angel?" She feigned unconcern, but her eyes narrowed just a bit too much.

"How do you know I saw Angel?"

Drusilla leaned closer to me and ran a slender finger--the same one she'd licked--from the center of my forehead to the tip of my nose. "You have his scent all over you. Daddy smells bitter, like dying birds."

Of course. I'd forgotten about their enhanced senses. Stupid of me.

"How is he, Lindsey?" Darla dropped the bored act and stared at me directly.

"Cranky, as usual." And strong. So strong. The suit jacket hid the bruises on my arms, and I didn't think there was any way they could sense those.

"What did you tell him?"

"I didn't tell him anything, Darla. You're my client, and I have an obligation to protect you. Just like you have an obligation to pay up when the bill comes due." I wasn't playing her lapdog for the fun of it, and apparently I needed to remind her that my assistance came at a price.

"All in good time, Lindsey," she said, folding the piece of paper I had given her and tucking it down the front of her blouse. A few weeks ago, the gesture would have caught my attention, piqued my interest and my libido. Now all I could think about was Angel's fingers jabbing into my arms and the press of his weight against me.

"I thought you weren't interested in what Angel was doing these days," I commented.

Her face hardened. "That was before he set us on fire, wasn't it?" Drusilla let out a quiet whimper, apparently disturbed by the memory.

"So your plans have changed?" The firm would want to know what Darla and Dru were planning. Passing that information on would definitely score me some points and put me ahead of Lilah in our battle for vice-president of Special Projects.

She laughed gaily. "Oh, don't you worry about that, darling. Dru and I are just having our fun."

Oh, shit. Fun. Last time these two had gone out for a bit of fun, thirteen lawyers and two shop clerks had ended up dead. Aside from the fact that they'd killed my boss, the massacre had been messy. Conspicuous. The police, out of courtesy to the "survivors", had informed me and Lilah that their investigation was still open. There was always a chance that some cop with too much determination and not enough brains would track Darla and Dru to Wolfram and Hart.

And that would really hack off the senior partners. I had to know Darla's plans.

"You can tell me, you know." Except I wasn't asking for the firm. I wanted to know what they were going to do to Angel. I slid closer to Darla, close enough to smell her hair. I'd never met another vampire that smelled like flowers.

Without warning, she shifted to vamp-face. "Stop pushing, Lindsey. We're going to get him back. That's all you need to know."

I turned to look at Dru, and the smile on her face chilled me.

Darla leaned her chin on my shoulder and whispered in my ear. "Go home, darling. You'll thank us when we're through. And so will Angelus." As she pulled away, a fang caught my earlobe. I was so focused on watching them thread through the crowd that I barely noticed the stinging pain.

They wanted to turn him dark. That fit in perfectly with the firm's plans, as far as I knew. Darla and Dru would get their Angelus back, and the firm would probably be so pleased that they'd promote me again. Everybody would win.

But every effort to turn him had failed so far. Bringing back Darla as human hadn't done it. Darla's illness hadn't done it. They'd have to do something drastic. Something that would break him and make him want to take refuge in being Angelus. I'd seen a hint of that desperation in him the night that he'd come to my apartment and threatened to rip out my throat. I hadn't liked it. At the time, I'd thought it was because I wanted to be the one to beat him. Now, with Darla's threats still ringing in my ears, I wondered if it wasn't more than that.

I still wanted to win. I just didn't want him to lose.

***

The devil was my angel, now I'm just not sure.
To travel as my angel there's always my whore
Gonna take you back down, and I won't feel no shame
'Till my dreams are my own again
Gonna take you right down, and I'll take the blame
'Till my dreams are my own again

***

This time, Angel waited until I got into the deserted lobby of my apartment building. He'd managed to slip past the guard on duty, which didn't surprise me much, since the guard was useless on his best days. As I stood in front of the elevator doors, I heard Angel approaching. Either he was off his game, or he didn't care about stealth. It didn't make much of a difference to me; either possibility indicated that I had him off-balance.

As he drew closer, I turned around to face him.

"Tell me where to find them," he demanded.

I pretended indifference and yawned in his face, probably taking my life in my hands. "Aren't you getting bored with this routine?" I asked. "You show up, you threaten me, you cop a feel, I refuse to tell you anything, and you make a dramatic exit."

The elevator dinged, and I turned my back on him, walking through the doors as soon as they opened. As I pressed the button for my floor, I looked at him.

"I think it's time we changed the pattern," I said.

The doors began to close, but he thrust his hand between them and shoved them open again. We stared at each other for a few seconds, and I thought he would just walk away again, but he stepped inside the elevator. The doors slid shut behind him, and for a moment, the only sound was the hum of the elevator as it slowly ascended.

When he spoke, he sounded weary. "You really don't know where they are, do you?" He didn't move any closer to me. It looked like he was standing guard over the doors in case I tried to make a break for it.

I had no intention of going anywhere. "Look at that. You can be taught. No, I don't know where they are. You gonna kill me now, Angelus?"

He reached out and slammed his hand against the control panel, pressing the emergency stop button. The elevator slid smoothly to a halt. "I'm not Angelus."

"Aren't you?" I set my briefcase on the floor and leaned against the back wall.

"Angelus would have snapped your neck weeks ago," he snapped, hands flexing at his sides.

"Would he have threatened me in full view of a security camera?" I gestured at the camera mounted in the corner to his left. "That tape might prove inconvenient at a later date, should anything happen to me."

His gaze flickered to the camera, then back to me, obviously trying to judge my intentions. I winked at him, and with vampire speed, he turned and jumped, ripping the entire apparatus from the wall.

Sometimes it amazed me how easy it was to manipulate him. But he'd done what I couldn't--made sure we wouldn't be watched. I liked playing with him, but I didn't really want Wolfram and Hart's security office getting archival footage of the entire incident.

"Now what?" I asked. "Now you snap my neck?"

"You're not worth the trouble."

I looked down at his hands, still twitching, and idly wondered if I could get him so mad that he would actually kill me. Not that I really wanted to find out. "Angel, I'm crushed. I thought I meant more to you than that."

"You don't mean anything to me, Lindsey."

"Right," I drawled. "So why don't you kill me now, since I'm no use to you? You can't claim that you don't kill humans any more. I was there when you locked those doors on us, Angel. Left your girls to slaughter us all." I still remembered the weight of the bodies, pressing down on me. The fine Oriental rug pressing on the side of my face. And the sweet smell of blood.

His eyes narrowed, and I glimpsed a hint of anger. He really didn't like being reminded of that wine cellar. "Why do you keep pushing me, Lindsey?"

"Because you make it so much fun. I know you have other sources. So why do you keep coming back to me for information you know I don't have and can't give you?"

He didn't answer. No surprise there.

"C'mon, Angel. You're wasting my time. I've got better things to do than trade insults with you." A lie, of course. Nothing was quite as interesting as getting Angel all worked up. But when his entire body stilled, like he'd suddenly iced over, I realized I'd miscalculated.

"Got a full schedule, Lindsey? Children to kill? Helpless people to exploit? Yeah, I bet you're a busy man." Looking like he wanted to spit in my face and just couldn't be bothered, he reached for the big red button.

Fuck. His contempt burned in my chest, and at that moment, I just wanted to shut him up. I'd needed his help once, and he'd used me, sneered at me, and then sat back looking smug when I'd lived down to his low expectations. Bastard thought he was the only one ever allowed to make a mistake.

Before he could restart the elevator, I lunged at him and slammed him against the wall, reaching to pull his mouth down for a furious kiss. I didn't have vampire strength, but he let me hold him in place for a few seconds. Then he shoved me away so hard that I stumbled to my hands and knees. Before I could recover from the awkward landing, he charged forward and yanked me to my feet. Another quick move, and I was pinned against the rear wall, staring up at the shadowed angles of his face.

I couldn't read him. I admitted to myself that despite everything I'd said, I wasn't sure that he wouldn't kill me. And when he dropped his head down to my neck and sniffed, I started mentally reviewing my will. But then I felt the wet swipe of his tongue along my jugular, and I was suddenly so hard that my knees sagged. I let out a breathy moan, encouraging him to continue, and he shoved his hips forward, pressing his cock against my stomach.

Threading my hands through his hair, I pulled his head up and kissed him again, thrusting my tongue as far into his mouth as I could, running it along the blunt ridges of his teeth. He kissed me back this time, and his hands slipped from my arms down to my waist, his fingers digging in painfully. He was quiet, so quiet, and I wanted to make him gasp and moan. I dropped back down to my knees.

I couldn't get his pants open. Not with just the one hand. I fumbled at it for a few seconds, then cursed. He didn't give me the time to grow disgusted with my handicap or to dwell on the fact that he'd caused it. His hands pushed mine away, unzipping his pants and shoving them down. His cock was heavy and hard, and when I took half of it in my mouth, he inhaled sharply. My knees started to ache, and I was crammed in between him and the wall. I didn't care.

He liked it when I swirled my tongue around the tip. I needed my good hand to steady the shaft, but I wanted to touch him. Pulling back, I reached for his hand and positioned it at the base of his cock.

"Hold it," I muttered, and slid my hand up his chest. He muttered something that sounded like assent, thrusting his hips forward, pushing his cock further into my mouth. I finally got a moan out of him when I pulled my hand back down his chest, scratching hard enough to make him jerk in my mouth.

Drusilla was right. He smelled bitter.

I curved my hand around him, dug my fingers into his ass, kneading the flesh. He'd gone silent, and the breaths I dragged in sounded incredibly loud. I pulled back again, looking up at him. He'd closed his eyes, had them scrunched shut like he was afraid to see what was happening. After a second, it registered that I'd stopped, and he opened them.

Our gazes met and held. The fear shone clearly in his eyes. I didn't want to know what he saw in mine.

"Touch me," I said.

His eyes closed again, but his other hand crept up from his side and rested on the back of my head. I smiled to myself and swiped my tongue across the head before taking his cock back in my mouth. I wasn't going to let him treat this like an anonymous fuck or pretend that I'd somehow taken advantage of him.

With only one hand, I couldn't touch myself, but the ache grew and grew, and the only way to satisfy it was to take more of him in, breathe deep and smell him and push down until my lips brushed his fingers.

The hand in my hair tightened until the grip became painful. Then I realized that he was pulling me up and away.

"You fucking coward…" I started, until he shoved me against the wall and kissed me, wedging a knee between my legs.

Grabbing my good arm, he pinned it behind my back, and with his other hand, he slid my belt free of its buckle. His knuckles deliberately brushed over my erection, and I twisted in his grasp, seeking more contact. I didn't get it.

He slipped his hand down the side of my hip, pushed, sliding fabric down. My shirt tails dangled, brushing against my skin. It wasn't enough, but I was determined not to beg. My body didn't get the message though, and my hips shoved forward, desperate for any contact. Anything.

He still had my left arm twisted up behind my back, but he reached to my right, pulling my other arm up. The arm with the prosthesis. I tried to fight out of his grip, but my struggle didn't make any impression on him. He lifted my arm higher. Higher. Until he held it in front of his face.

I was turned on and furious and scared and helpless. Utterly helpless. If he wanted to rip off my other hand, he could do it. And I thought he was gloating to himself at the sight of the prosthesis. I hated the sight of it there, attached to the end of my arm like a parasite.

Then he kissed it.

A brush of lips that I could see, not feel. And I felt more helpless than before, sick with it, burning through me like a poison.

When I pulled away this time, he let me go, releasing both arms and leaning back. He was looking at me regretfully, and I hated it. I needed to get back in the game. I pulled him back against me, kissed him so hard that I felt the imprint of his teeth on my lips.

"Are you going to fuck me or not?"

"Do you want it?" he whispered. It sounded like he really wanted to know. And I decided to take one last chance on the truth.

"You know I do."

He smiled a little and lifted his hand to my mouth, slipping three fingers inside. I slid my tongue over and around them, mimicking the way I'd sucked him. His eyes flickered closed, and he moaned again, his tone more desperate than before. He pulled his fingers out, skated across my chin, leaving a trail of moisture. Then he reached down and finally, finally grabbed my cock.

He touched me gently, but confidently. He knew exactly when to tighten his hand around me, exactly how much pressure to exert. I wanted it all, especially the parts I shouldn't.

"Good?" he asked, eyes shadowed as he leaned over me.

I nodded, gritting my teeth with the sensation. It was damn good, painting streaks of lightning across my cock. I gasped and started shaking when he scraped his fingernails across the head, the edges of my vision blurring until all I could see was him looking at me.

I closed my eyes.

He slipped his other hand around the nape of my neck. His kiss was too personal, full of tongue and intimate wetness. A lover's kiss. Soft lips, flower petals, just like Drusilla had said, and rough hands, killing hands, gentle hands…

I moaned into his mouth as I came, sharp stabs of pleasure radiating out from my cock. I felt him smile against my lips.

Long before I wanted to move, he pulled on my shoulder, turning me around. I leaned my face against the cool wall and tried not to cry out as he pushed his come-soaked fingers into me. Not because it hurt. Because it didn't hurt enough. I needed the pain. The pain helped me forget Angel's careful hands and tentative looks. Without the pain, I wasn't in control.

I lost the battle to stay silent when I felt him shove the head of his cock inside me. My guttural moan echoed off the walls of the small space, mingling with his shuddering exhalation. Another push, and he filled me completely. I shoved back, bracing my forearms above my head. He responded by pulling out and slamming back in, ripping a shout from both of us.

"More." I barely recognized my voice, needy and hoarse.

He set up a fast rhythm. Fast and hard. Every thrust accompanied by a grunt from him, like he was biting his lip.

When he placed his mouth on my throat, I expected him to bite me. I wanted it. Jesus, I wanted it. I felt the blood rushing through my veins and wondered if it would smell sweet. "Do it," I ground out.

Instead of teeth, I felt lips. He kissed the side of my neck, then trailed his tongue up my jawline.

And the words weren't held back any more. "God" made me tighten around him. He wrapped his fingers around my hipbones and muttered "fuck", prompting me to clench again.

And "beautiful" dragged a stifled sob from my throat.

I don't know if he heard it, but he stiffened after it happened, muscles locking in place, then surged forward to bury himself as deep as possible.

The feel of him coming inside of me almost felt better than my own orgasm had. Like we were connected somehow. Before I let myself understand what that meant, I gasped out the message I didn't know I had.

"Darla and Drusilla. They're planning something. I don't know what, but you have to be careful." His cock slipped from my body as I whispered, "please."

I never got to find out what I was asking for. By the time I felt like I could turn and face him, he'd forced the elevator doors open and pulled himself up to the floor above.

I was alone.

***

Devil was my angel, now I'm just not sure
To travel as my angel there's always my whore
Maybe you're an angel, try to remember you're an angel
Remember you're an angel, if you're not sure

***

Bourbon, my old friend. I had a regular routine going by now. Sitting alone in a dark apartment, getting smashed, wasting far too much time thinking about my enemy.

I was finding it hard to forget the events of the past few days, no matter how much I drank. So we'd had sex. Big deal. I'd known that I wanted him. He'd given off plenty of vibes that he wanted me. But what had happened in the elevator had been more than a power struggle or a quick fuck to relieve some tension. Even now, I could hear his voice, whispering hot words and half-heard endearments. It had gone beyond want, turned into something I couldn't name.

Damn him. I hadn't expected that. Hadn't been prepared for the tenderness.

It would be a hell of a lot simpler if he was Angelus. Bloodier, maybe, but simpler.

I shifted uncomfortably in my chair, and my artificial hand clinked against the glass balanced on my leg. I lifted my arm up and watched the lights from outside play across its plastic surface.

Holland had offered me a real replacement when Angel maimed me. The firm has plenty of contacts in the magical world, people who could easily regrow my hand. But I'd wanted to wait. The prosthetic was supposed to be a reminder.

*Don't underestimate Angel. He's more dangerous than you think.*

But I'd done it again. I'd underestimated him. I'd never lost sight of his capacity for cruelty. I had forgotten how kind he could be.

Even if he'd never demonstrated it to me before.

Fuck. I hated self-pity. Self-pity was a refuge for the weak, the people who didn't have the balls to do something about their situation. So I'd done something. I'd pushed and taunted him until I'd gotten what I wanted. Or what I thought I wanted. I couldn't tell the difference any more.

So what came next? I had no idea.

I tensed when my cell phone rang. Only the firm had that number.

"Lindsey McDonald."

"Hello, Lindsey. This is Nathan Reed."

Oh, shit. Somehow I didn't think Nathan was calling to promote me again.

"Nathan," I said, forcing cheer into my voice. "What can I do for you?"

Nathan's oily but menacing manner came through loud and clear, even through the phone lines. "We've had a report of some trouble at your apartment building."

I quickly ran through some responses in my head. I hadn't expected to have this conversation until the morning. "Angel stopped by to see me again. Cornered me in the elevator and ripped out the security camera."

"Yes," Nathan replied. "That much we saw. Fortunately, once he destroyed the wall unit, the backup system kicked in."

I felt the blood drain from my face, rushing down to join the knot of panic in my stomach. "The backup system?"

"Yes, of course. And the backup system provided us with some very interesting footage. It seems you and Angel are closer than any of us suspected."

Suspected? Looked like Angel wasn't the only one I'd underestimated. "I can explain…"

Nathan cut me off. "Oh, I'm sure it's part of your plan to bring Angel over to our side, isn't it?"

"Of course." What else could I say?

"Very good, Lindsey. We always like it when our associates show some initiative. We'll have someone in to repair the camera first thing tomorrow morning. Which is when I expect your report on the Angel situation."

A click in my ear ended the conversation.

Maybe Angel was the least of my problems.

I leaned forward and set the cell phone on the coffee table. Well. What the fuck had I done to myself? I'd screwed Angel in my elevator, and the entire Security office had probably seen the tape. The tape that they'd immediately passed on to Nathan Reed.

Report. He wanted a report. I heaved myself out of the chair and headed to pick up the laptop from where I'd dropped it, right by the door. As I set it up on the table, waiting for the voice recognition software to load, I tried to come up with an explanation that the partners would believe. Or could pretend to believe.

But all I could remember was the touch of Angel's hand, and the smell of his skin. The fear in his eyes, and the desire in his quiet voice.

Maybe Angel was the best of my problems.