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Wicked Ways
By jodyorjen

PAIRING: Spike/Willow. Spike/Buffy, Spike/Tara implied
RATING: NC-17 overall
SPOILERS: Season 6 through “As You Were”.
DISCLAIMER: All hail Joss Whedon, UPN, the WB, FOX, Mutant Enemy and 20th Century Fox Film Corporation. GO team! Theirs, not mine.
DISTRIBUTION: Please ask my permission first, just so I know where it’s headed.
FEEDBACK: Sure, fire away to jodyorjen@yahoo.com



Chapter 10

The flames from the fire crackled and sparked as we sank down in front of the hearth. I’d lain down my duster on the stone floor. “This isn’t very comfortable, kitten,” I said as I licked her collarbone. “We could put the coat on the bed, get the same effect without the bruising.”

“We have to be in front of the fire,” Willow said. “That’s the fantasy. On the coat, in front of a nice big fire.” She scratched her nails down my spine, and I bit down on her shoulder, making her moan.

“What’s the point of the fire, really?” I asked as I gently kissed her jaw. “If I’m not up to snuff, you throw me in the fire, and burn me to cinders?” She put her lips to mine, shutting me up. I slid inside her, and she closed her eyes and lay back against the duster. She was glorious in the firelight, all shadow and flame. She grabbed my hips in her hands and guided me faster, forcing me to thrust her into the floor with each stroke. I stopped. “We can’t do this here, Red. You’re going to look like I beat you with a stick if keep fucking you into the stones.”

“If I feel like I’m getting banged up too much, I’ll roll over and you can be on the bottom, “ she said, laughing.

“Very considerate to your lover,” I teased. “Doesn’t matter if I batter myself black and blue, as long as I bring you off, is that it?”

“You’re resilient. You can take a little damage,” she said, as she sank her teeth into my nipple. I wrapped my arms around her and held her close, cradling her to my chest as I moved within her. I took all the stress of the movement on my elbows, keeping the brunt off of her. She was starting to come already, I could feel her muscles tightening, see it in her face. She was the most orgasmic partner I’d ever had, popping off nearly as soon as I touched her. It was gratifying, to be wanted so badly.

I licked her neck, running my tongue over the holes that I’d left when I’d bitten her. “Bite,” she cried, and I bit her carefully, barely nipping her. She turned her head towards me as she came, and I gently kissed her, as she held me tightly. She pulled away, gasping, and I kissed her eyelids, her forehead, and her lips. I kept moving inside her, keeping a slow pace, waiting for her to wind down from her orgasm. “So good,” she said, and tears rolled out of the corners of her eyes. I licked one into my mouth, savoring the salty taste.

“I’m going to roll you on top now,” I told her, “but I don’t want you to move. Just let me.” I carefully spun us around, so that she was on top of me, my cock still firmly within her. I held her hips in my hands and lifted her up, moving her up and down my shaft. Her head was thrown back, her eyes still shut, and her breasts thrust forward as she rose and fell. I increased the pace steadily, and soon we were rocking together wildly as she stared down at me, her eyes blazing green as she came again, crying out my name. I broke my control and let loose my orgasm, coming in a series of sharp crests before crashing down, breathless.

Willow had collapsed on my chest, her red hair spilling over my skin. I ran my hands through it, and she looked up and smiled. “You going to tell me that I was okay again? Or do I rate adequate, or satisfactory this time?” I asked.

“Spine tingling,” she said. “Smashing.” She put on a horrible Giles-y accent. “A jolly good time.”

“One day I’m hoping for excellent, or amazing,” I told her.

“Practice makes perfect,” she said with a grin. I leaned down and kissed her, savoring the taste of her mouth, and the feel of her hair in my hands.

“Come to bed with me,” I told her huskily. “We can practice some more.” I kissed down her neck. “You can be my tutor, and help me bone up on my education.” I thrust my pelvis at her and we both laughed.

“I have to go home,” she said as she pulled away. She stood up and pulled on her skirt.

“You can stay with me,” I said. “I don’t snore. I’ll make you breakfast in the morning.”

She fastened her bra and pulled her sweater over her head. “I don’t have pajamas here, or a robe, or a toothbrush,” she said. “I need to go home.”

“You can sleep naked,” I suggested. “More fun anyway.”

She sat down on the ottoman and pulled a sock on. It was rainbow striped and had toes. I sat up and took the other one away from her. “Your socks have toes,” I said in wonderment. “What’s the point?”

“They’re fun,” she said, wriggling her multicolored toes at me.

I slipped the other sock on my hand and wiggled it at her. “Stay the night,” I said in a silly voice.

“I can’t, Mr. Sock,” she said solemnly. “I have to go home.”

“There are evil beasties outside,” said the sock puppet. “You should stay inside where it’s safe and warm.”

“Good thinking, sock. Stay inside with the nice, cuddly vampire.” She took the sock off my hand and put it on her foot.

“I can be cuddly,” I told her. “I may be evil, but I can still fancy a snuggle after a shag, you know?”

“Not tonight,” she said firmly.

“Is this some modern girl rule that I’m not clued in on?” I asked. “I slept in your bed last night, all platonic and friendly and now we’ve had sex, I’m not good enough to sleep with?”

“Maybe another time,” she said. She put on her boots and crossed her legs.

“Is there going to be another time?” I asked her. “Because you seem to be pretty fixated on getting the hell away from me about now.”

She knelt down on the floor and grazed my lips with hers. “Spike, we’ve had sex four times tonight.” She kissed me gently. “You bit me twice.” She kissed me more firmly, her tongue licking inside my mouth. “You outed us to my best friend after my parents caught us sucking face.” She kissed me yet again, thrusting with her tongue. “I think you’re sweet, and wonderful, and you’re absolutely amazing in bed.” We kissed ardently, with her gripping my shoulders and my holding her just as tightly. “But right now I want to relax, and think things through, and sleep. If I stay the night with you, I won’t be able to do that.” She kissed me once more on the lips and stood up.

I gave in to the inevitable and pulled on my clothes and boots. I lifted my duster from the floor and pulled it on. I took her hand and we walked out to the garage. I let her in the car and slid behind the wheel. By the time we reached Buffy’s house, she was asleep. She was totally crashed out, her mouth slightly open, sleeping with the depth of true exhaustion.

I walked around the car and pulled her out, carrying her in my arms up to the house. The door was unlocked so I went on inside. There was a light on in the kitchen but the rest of the house was dark. I made my way up the stairs to Willow’s room. I took off her boots and hat and tucked her into bed, leaning over to kiss her on the forehead.

I closed the door gently behind me and turned around to find Buffy standing behind me. “You’re not staying the night?” she whispered. I shook my head no. “Do you want to have a cup of tea?” I nodded and followed her down the stairs.

We went into the kitchen and she put on a kettle of water and pulled two mugs out of the cabinet. “Do you want Earl Grey, Sleepytime or Lemon Zinger?” she asked.

“Sleepytime,” I told her. She was wearing a long white nightgown, her hair back in a ponytail. She looked very fragile, and innocent, stripped of her usual attitude and armor.

She sat down at the counter and looked at me thoughtfully. “I want to talk to you about Willow.”

“What a surprise. I should have known you couldn’t be around me for more than a minute without busting my balls.” It came out more sharply than I intended, and she looked taken aback. “I’m sorry. That was rude.” I took a deep breath. “I’m trying to remember how to have a civil conversation with you. We were able to do it, once upon a time.”

“It would be nice, if we could get back to that point,” she said. “I used to really enjoy our talks.”

“Let’s try this again, shall we?” She smiled at me, and I smiled back. “Thanks for asking me to tea, Buffy. What did you want to talk about? Can I hazard a guess and say Willow?”

She laughed quietly. “I’m trying very hard to be rational about this,” she said. “And I can understand why she’d want to date you. Willow is a lover. She has a heart as big as the world, and no one to share it with. I think for her it’s like finding a stray dog in the street and loving it because no one else will.”

“That’s a very flattering analogy, Buffy,” I said wryly. “But what we have, it’s not love. It’s barely anything yet. It’s just-“ I waved my hands in the air, searching for the right words.

“Sex?” said Buffy. I looked at her oddly. “We’re adults. We can use the word sex.”

I shook my head. “That’s just a part of it,” I told her. “I was with you, and we had lots of sex, but we didn’t do anything else. No dinner and a movie, no holding hands walking in the park, you know? And Tara and I, we set up house together. That was like getting married, without the sex or arguments. And Willow and I-“ I stopped.

“And you and Willow?” she asked.

“We’re friends, first of all. We can talk to each other, and tell the truth about everything. We had sex and it didn’t change that. We can still talk to each other, still be honest. It didn’t kill the friendship. She wants to spend time with me, and is willing to be seen with me. I can take her out in public, and kiss her, and hold her hand. And I can take her home, and we can sleep together, and it’s not about fear or guilt or pain. It’s about sex and pleasure. That’s dating. The liking and the shagging and the doing things, all together.”

“But why Willow, Spike? Couldn’t you date someone else?”

“I like her, and she likes me. I don’t see what’s so wrong about it.”

“Well, for starters, you’re both still in love with another woman,” Buffy pointed out. “The same woman.”

“So we should both just pine alone, miserable and suffering, instead of being with the one other person in the world that understands?”

“Sex should mean something,” she said. “It’s not a recreational activity, like playing bingo or shuffleboard. It’s about feelings, about being with someone on a deeper level.”

“That’s pretty hypocritical, coming from you.” I was suddenly furious. “I know first hand that you have no problem operating sexually on a very shallow level.”

“That’s just not true,” she said angrily. “What we had meant something to me.”

“That’s the first I’ve heard of it, Buffy, “ I yelled. “That’s the merest glimmer you’ve ever given me that I was more to you than a good fuck.”

She cupped her hand over her face. I went to her, patting her shoulders. “I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m so sorry.” She started to cry, and I picked her up and sat down on the floor, cradling her. She cried for a long time, and I just held her tightly and hoped she would tell me why.

“I loved you,” she said finally.

“You don’t have to say it, love,” I said, stroking her hair. “I don’t need to hear it if it hurts you so.”

“You remember when you told me that every Slayer has a death wish?” she whispered.

“Of course I do, sweetheart,” I answered.

“It was true,” she said. “After my mom died, all I wanted to do was let go. I didn’t want to deal with my life, with any of it. Being a Slayer, caring for Dawn, being strong for all the Scoobies. I just wanted some peace. I just wanted to sleep, sleep forever.” I felt sick, just hearing her say it. “When I jumped off the tower, I didn’t want to save the world. I was thinking of Dawn, of saving her. But mainly, I just wanted to stop the pain.”

“I didn’t know,” I told her, stunned. “None of us knew.”

“I didn’t want you to know,” she said. “I was supposed to be the hero. I’m supposed to be the one everyone else can count on.”

“Buffy, no one expects you to be perfect,” I said firmly.

“I have to be perfect,” she said. “If I’m not, then people die.” She paused. “I hated everyone so much, when they brought me back. I wanted to kill them all. I thought about it, about snapping Willow’s neck, smothering Xander,” she said flatly.

“Stop it, Buffy,” I said to her. “Don’t dwell on this. This will only hurt you.”

She ignored me and continued, ”You, and Giles, and Dawn. You were the only innocents.”

“They brought you back because they love you,” I told her. “None of us would ever have imagined that you wouldn’t want to come back.”

“I loved death,” she said. “It was the happiest I’ve ever been.” She looked into my face. “And when I looked at you, when I made love with you, it was close. I could feel it in you. It was as close as I could get to dying, and the only time I felt happy.” She pressed her hand over my heart. “I don’t have to deal with life when I’m with you. You’re not part of life, you’re something apart from it.”

I shuddered. “You meant it literally,” I said. “When you said I was killing you. I made you turn your back on life.”

“You said I’d crave you, like you craved blood,” she said. “You were right.”

“I didn’t mean it that way,” I told her. “I wanted you in the shadows with me, embracing your own power as a Slayer, acknowledging that there is something primal within you. I never wanted you to hope for death, or to see it in me.”

“I used to love it when you bit me,” she said. “I used to imagine that you’d change, and sink your teeth into my neck, and I would die.”

“I would never kill you, Slayer,” I told her. “I’d sooner stake myself.”

“I know that now,” she said. “I know you’d never hurt me. And I need to stop craving death, if I’m going to live. It’s hurting all of you,” she said. “Especially Dawn. And I really want to feel good again, to be myself again.”

“We all want that for you,” I told her. “We all love you so much.”

She rested her head on my shoulder, and lay there for a minute, letting me pat her back. “After I spoke to Richard yesterday, I called Giles.” She paused. “He gave me the name of a psychiatrist here in Sunnydale who wouldn’t lock me up if I told the truth. Richard waited for me in the waiting room for three hours, while I spoke to Dr. Locklet.”

“Richard’s a very good guy, Buffy,” I told her. “He really cares for you.”

“I’m going to go see Dr. Locklet twice a week, and I’m taking medication now,” she said. “She said that I’m not insane. I’m suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, and I’m going to be alright.”

Thank God. Thank God she’d figured it out, and finally wanted to be herself again. “If there is anything that I can for you,” I told her, “I want to know. I want to help you.”

“I’ll let you know,” she said. “I can’t be the hero anymore, not by myself. I need some help.”

“I’ve got your back, Slayer,” I told her. “Always.” She put her arms around me, and hugged me tightly, for the first time.

****

I woke before dawn, alone in my bed. I felt tired and restless, like I hadn’t slept at all. Since the night that I’d found Tara at the diner, this was the first night that I’d spent alone. I wished I’d been able to convince Willow to stay the night. I thought about Red and smiled. I loved being with her, the way that she made me laugh, her sense of fun. It was good to see her out of her doldrums. And her being with me, wanting me, was something I hadn’t seen coming.

I got out of bed and turned the water on in the bathroom. I went to the linen closet and pulled it open. It was filled with things that reminded me of Tara. I ran my hands along the bottles and towels, imagining I could feel her touch on them. I pulled down a bottle of shampoo and a towel.

I leaned over the tub and wet my hair. I filled my hands with shampoo and rubbed it into my scalp. It smelled like Tara, the chamomile scent of her hair. I rubbed my hair vigorously, feeling it foam up under my hands. I rinsed out my hair, watching the brown dye run down the drain. Posing as a real boy, with a nice blue suit and a corsage in a box. I’d made a mockery of myself. No wonder Tara had left.

I washed my hair over and over until the water ran clear. I put the stopper in the tub and filled it, the tap twisted all the way to hot. I went to the kitchen and got a plastic bag and the dishwashing soap. I went to the linen closet and threw out everything that reminded me of her. In the bathroom, I tossed out the soap in the dish, the soap that had slid over her body. I threw the bag in the hallway, so that I wouldn’t have to smell the scent of Tara.

I got in the tub with the dishwashing soap. I rinsed my hair with it, dunking my head under the water until all I could smell was lemons. I washed my body and slid under the water. Soothing, peaceful, tranquil. Like Tara. Why had she done this to me? Four days with her, and she’d given me a life that had some meaning, and then taken it away. I understood that she was afraid to let out her demon. But we would have been together, and happy. Why would she rather be alone and miserable?

I’d liked having someone to take care of, someone who needed me. I’d taken care of Dawn when Buffy was gone, and then I hadn’t been needed by anyone, unless you counted my stint as Buffy’s personal sexbot. I wanted someone of my own to love. I’d taken care of Drusilla for all those years, and it had been good. Better than anything. If I hadn’t chosen Buffy over her, I could be with her now. I never would have gone through any of this. But then I thought of Angel. I’d always been the runner up there, always known that Dru’s heart really belonged to Daddy, as much as she seemed to love me.

Was it so much to ask for love? Was there something wrong with me, which all these women could sense, that I didn’t know about? Something inside me that made me unworthy, made me undeserving of love? It wasn’t just my demon. My whole human life, the only one who had ever loved me was my mother.

I’d never been enough to make her happy, either. I could never make her happy, no matter what I tried. I understood that she was afraid, lived cowering in fear that I’d die, too, like my father and my brothers had. All her hours of prayer, her devotion to God, and all she had to show for it was one weak, sickly boy. The only time she ever smiled was when she was remembering the good days, before I was born, or when I read her my poetry.

“You’re a good boy, William,” she’d say with a smile. “Someday you’ll be a great poet, like your father.”

She was wrong. I wasn’t a good boy and I’d never become a great poet. And given a century more to exist on this earth, I had done nothing with my life, left no legacy. Save that of William the Bloody, and that name had been made before I’d been dead a year. Lapdog. That’s all I’d been. Willing slave to women, always begging for a crumb, always left starving in the end.

I wanted to be in love, and be loved. Just like any other man. Buffy had only loved the silence she found in me. Dru had loved the hardness in me, and Tara had loved the gentleness. But none of them had stayed. I didn’t know what I could be, how I could change, to be the kind of man that made a woman stay.

****

The Scoobie invasion began just after nine. Anya and Xander were the first to arrive. Anya carried a large binder covered in white fabric and ribbons and Xander held a large umbrella over their heads. “Good morning,” I said. “I’m making omelets.”

Xander looked at me angrily. “I don’t want an omelet, buddy. I want to talk to you.” He shook out the umbrella, scattering water everywhere.

“I’d like one,” Anya said, as she put down her binder on the ottoman and took off her raincoat.

“Ham and cheese alright, or peppers and onions?” I asked, as I hung up her coat.

“Ham and cheese would be nice,” she said. “And don’t even go there, Xander. Just let it lie.”

“This thing with Willow,” he said, ignoring her. “What the hell are you thinking?”

“If you want to bitch me out, you can do it while I’m cooking.” I walked into the kitchen and he followed behind me. I opened the refrigerator and set the eggs on the counter, adding a stick of butter and the ham and cheese. I turned the stove on low flame and put the skillet on the burner. I cracked open the eggs in a bowl and whipped them with a whisk.

“I didn’t know you knew how to cook,” he commented.

“Tara bought me a cookbook,” I explained. “With pictures and everything.”

“That’s a good lead in for what I wanted to talk about,” he said. “Tara left you yesterday morning and last night you’re with Willow? What the hell are you thinking?”

“I already had the Grand Inquisition about this from Buffy,” I told him. “And I’m really tired of discussing my personal life.”

“Well, I’m sorry if you’re all talked out,” he said sarcastically, “but we are going to have a conversation about this because there are some things that are very important that you understand, okay?” I turned and looked at him. He was really trying to keep his temper. “I have loved Willow since she was three years old. I have the right to be worried about this.”

“Fair enough,” I said. “Say what you have to say.”

“First of all, she told me that what you have is nothing serious, that you’re just dating. But I’m not buying that.” He looked at me. “I saw her neck, Spike. She let you bite her. That indicates to me a level of trust that is way more than casual. Secondly, she slept with you. Willow doesn’t just have sex. It’s not something that she would ever do lightly. Whatever she told you about it being a fling or just for fun, I’m betting that’s bullshit. And thirdly, she’s battling an addiction.”

“I don’t buy that,” I said. “What she has is a problem discerning black, white and gray magic. Magic isn’t bad, her judgment is bad.”

“Precisely,” he said. “Her judgments right now totally suck. Her being with you, is just another example of that. She’s starting to get better, get back to her old self again, and you’re not going to screw that up for her, Spike. You can’t do that to her.”

“I don’t think you understand what she’s going through,” I said, as I took out a knife and cutting board and chopped the ham and cheese into small cubes. “She is sad and lonely and the only things she really cares about have been taken from her. She can’t have magic and she can’t have Tara.”

“And you’re going to make up for that?” he said. “You’re going to fill the void?”

“I’m going to help her get back into Wicca and I’m going to be there for her any way she needs,” I said. “That’s something no one else can do.” I put a pat of butter in the pan and moved it around in the skillet, waiting for it to turn golden and bubble, like the picture in the book.

“You need to stop trying to save everyone else and just worry about yourself,” he said. “You tried to fix Tara’s life and now you’re trying to fix Willow’s. You need to get a life of your own.”

“That’s what Tara said to me,” I told him. “Right before I felt her demon for the first time, before things began to change between us.” I poured the eggs in the skillet, tossing in the ham and cheese.

“You’re on the rebound,” he said distinctly. “Twice over. Willow told me about Buffy. That puts an even worse slant on things. You used Tara to get past Buffy and now you’re using Willow to get past Tara. It’s just layer upon layer of distraction so that you’re not feeling what’s really going on.”

“I’m making my peace with Buffy,” I said. “And Willow knows the score. She knows that Tara leaving scraped away whatever finer feelings I might have had to give. I haven’t promised her anything, haven’t given her any reason to think that what we have will become something more than it is.”

“Then stop sleeping with her,” he said vehemently. “Because I know Willow, and I guarantee you that when you tell her that you want her, or you need her, she’s hoping that’s just the start of something more. You’re getting laid. She’s making love.”

Anya walked into the kitchen, followed by Richard and Willow. “I hear you’re making omelets,” Richard said with a smile.

“I have a ham and cheese one ready,” I told him. “I have peppers and onions too if you’d rather have that.”

“Ham and cheese is good,” he said.

I flipped the omelet onto a platter and handed it to him. “You and Anya share that, and if you want more there’s plenty of eggs,” I told him. “There’s clean plates and silverware in the dishwasher.” Anya took Xander’s hand and led him to the table. I grabbed glasses from the cabinet and brought them over to the table with a pitcher of orange juice.

“Do you want an omelet?” I asked Willow.

She shook her head. “I’m not in an eggy mood this morning.”

I walked over to the pantry and poked around inside. “I have Weetabix, and Trix, and Captain Crunch.”

“But Trix are for kids, Spike,” she said with a grin, slipping her hand around my waist.

“They were fresh out of Count Chocula,” I told her seriously. “I had to settle.” She giggled and I leaned over to kiss her. She smelled fresh and clean and tasted strongly of mint.

“People are eating here,” Xander pointed out. We broke off the kiss and Willow took the box of Captain Crunch.

“You’re not eating,” she said. “Do you want some cereal?”

“Yeah, alright,” he said. She got a bowl and a spoon for each of them and the gallon of milk, and sat down at the table.

I pulled out a container of fruit salad from the refrigerator and fixed myself a bowl. I leaned against the counter as I ate sections of grapefruit and orange. “I brought the desk back over for you today,” said Richard. “I don’t need it and it’s no use having that computer sitting on the floor. And I brought a chair for it too.”

“I’m going to return the computer,” I told him. “There’s no point in keeping it now.”

“I can think of a whole lot of things you could do with it,” said Willow. “For starters, there are thousands of web sites about Wicca and Paganism. There’s tons of stuff you could read, so you don’t have to spend lots of money on basic books. And if you really get into it, you could meet pagans all over the world online and chat with them.” She bounced in her seat, obviously keyed up at the prospect.

“You’re still interested in Wicca?” asked Anya. “I thought that was mainly a Tara thing.”

“She sparked my interest in it,” I told her. “But it’s more than that now. I’m going to a Wicca class tomorrow night, and so is Willow.”

Xander looked up sharply. “You’re taking Will to a group with a bunch of witches?”

“It’s really sweet,” Willow said. “He’s helping me get back to Wicca. Not magick and spells, just back to basics.”

“I told her that we could invite you all to come,” I said, looking at Xander. “Make sure she stays on the straight and narrow, so no one would have to worry.” He made eye contact with me and nodded.

“Anya and I will come,” he said decisively. “We’ll be there.”

Richard looked thoughtful. “I don’t know anything about Wicca,” he said. “I’m Catholic. But I’d like to go, learn more about what you believe in. And I bet Dawn would like to, from some of the things she’s said.”

Willow looked delighted. “That would be really great if we could all go together. We don’t do enough stuff together anymore.”

Anya finished off her juice and pushed away her plate. “Okay, we’ve wasted enough time on the chit chat and the eating. We need to fix my wedding, now.”

“It’s just past nine,” Willow said. “We have the whole day to come up with something. You have Spike, Richard and I at your disposal.”

“And Buffy and Dawn will be here after school is out,” Richard pointed out.

Anya left the room and came back with her binder. “These are all the hotels and banquet halls in Sunnydale,” she said, handing me a list.

I grabbed a pen from a drawer and flipped over the paper, taking notes. “How many people are coming to the wedding?”

“People people or demon people?” Anya asked.

“All together,” I said patiently.

“One hundred and twenty five,” she said.

“What time is the minister supposed to come?” I asked.

“Two o’clock, Saturday,” she said.

Next question. “And you have a caterer arranged?”

“I’ve ordered a few platters from the caterer,” she said. “We’re only serving high tea, to save money.”

“And the cake?” I hoped she had ordered it in advance.

“I’m going to make it this week,” she said. “I bought a book.” Scary thought. Order cake, I wrote on the sheet.

“Just out of curiosity, Anya, what place did you really have you heart set on for the wedding?”

“The Pierre,” she said. “But I had to get over it pretty quickly once we got the quote. Way out of our price range.”

“I have a few ideas,” I told her. “I’m going to get going, see what I can drum up.”

“Won’t you go poof, running around outside?” Willow said worriedly.

“Not in the rain,” I said with a smile. I took her hand and pulled her out of her chair. “Walk me out?” She nodded and we went through the house to the garage. I shut the door behind us, and we moved to each other at the same time. I leaned down and kissed her, and she wrapped her arms around my waist, holding me close. She tasted like milk, her mouth sweet and cold. “I missed you,” I said, as I kissed her on the neck.

She smiled. “I had a really fun time last night.”

“I did too,” I said to her. “If you don’t have any plans tonight, would you like to go to dinner with me?” She looked up at me. “I was thinking Indian food,” I told her. “There’s a really good place downtown. We could go there, maybe catch a movie after?”

“I’d like that,” she said.

There was an awkward pause. “I’d like you to come home with me tonight,” I said. “I want to take you to bed. Maybe this time you’ll stay the night?” I said hopefully.

She laughed. “You’re a little rusty, Spike. You don’t usually tell your date up front that you expect to get lucky.”

“Well, I want to have sex with you now, but I’m willing to wait until later,” I told her.

“That’s big of you,” she said with a grin. “You’re a model of restraint.”

“Not really,” I said. “If there wasn’t a house full of people in there, I’d be in you already.”

“You’re pretty confident that I’d be up for it,” she said with a smile.

“Playing it cool would be a little more convincing if you weren’t standing there with nipples hard as gumdrops,” I told her.

“It’s just cold out here,” she parried. “It’s too early in the morning for me to be interested in sex.” I edged in closer to her.

“I could change your mind,” I told her, cupping her breast. I ran my fingers over her nipple.

“I don’t think it’s possible. I’m barely conscious,” she said, not giving an inch. “I haven’t even had my coffee yet.”

“I’m more stimulating than coffee,” I said, running my hands along the waistband of her pants. She shut her eyes and bit her lip. “I’m pretty sure that you’d choose me over a hot cup of java any day.” I had her pants unzipped and two fingers inside her before she could blink her eyes.

“I’d choose you over any beverage,” she said faintly. “Even a Frappucino, and I really like those.” I covered her mouth with mine, and she was frantic, kissing me fervently. I pumped my fingers in and out of her, skimming her clit with my thumb. She came, surging around my fingers as I held her up so she wouldn’t fall. She went limp, resting against me as she panted. I pulled my fingers out of her and zipped up her pants. She looked up at me, her face flooded with color. “Gee whiz,” she said softly.

I sucked on my fingers, savoring the taste of her on my hand. “Gee whiz? Is that higher on the scale than okay? Am I moving up beyond average now?”

“You really, really need to learn when to shut up,” she said. She shoved me, and sprawled me backwards on the hood of my car.

“Hey!” I said. “What are you doing that for?” She pulled open my belt and pulled down my zipper, encasing her mouth around my cock. I moaned and she slapped her hand over my mouth. She sucked hard, and swirled her tongue around the head, just the right pressure, just the right timing. I closed my eyes and saw stars as I came, thrusting forcefully into her mouth.

I lay on the car, totally stunned, as she zipped up my pants and fastened my belt. She bent over my face and kissed me lightly on the lips. “More stimulating than coffee,” she said with a grin, as she turned and walked back into the house.

****

I walked into the lobby of the Pierre Hotel. It must have been really opulent once, but the furnishings were outdated, the carpets and wallpaper beginning to lose their luster. I walked to the front desk, where a thin elderly man waited, dressed in a flawless suit and tie. “Where could I find someone to assist me with planning a wedding?”

“That would be Laura in Special Events,” he said with a smile. “Shall I call her down for you?”

“That would be very kind of you,” I told him.

A few minutes later a young woman wearing a black jacket and pants with a brass nameplate came around the corner, plastic smile on her face. “I’m Laura,” she said chirpily. “How may I help you?” I gave her a smile and she smiled back, genuinely this time.

“I need to plan a wedding,” I told her.

Her face fell. “Oh, a wedding.” She put her plastic smile back on. “Come to my office and I’ll show you what the Pierre can offer you on your special day.” I followed her down the hallway through a set of doors, passing by small windowless offices. “And when were you and your bride thinking of having the wedding?” she asked as she led me into an office and sat behind her desk, a computer to one side.

“I’m not the groom,” I told her, “and they want the wedding to be Saturday.”

“So, you’re single?” she said brightly, and then blushed. “I mean..” She shook her head slightly. “Saturday? This Saturday? That’s not possible.” She crossed her hands and looked straight at me.

“They want the wedding to begin at two,” I said patiently. I pulled my paper out of my pocket. “And they’re having a hundred and twenty five guests.”

“I’m sorry, Mr-” She waited for me to tell her.

“Spike,” I answered.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Spike, but we are holding a luncheon for the Order of the Beloved Bison on Saturday at two. We aren’t available.”

“How many Bisons are you expecting?” I asked.

“One hundred and fifty,” she said. “But-“

“And what will they be eating?” I asked patiently.

“Chicken Diane or Salmon Florentine,” she said. “But-“

“Well, that sounds quite nice. Just tell the Bisons that you’ve double booked them, and book the Emerson/Harris wedding instead.” She looked at me blankly. “Do you want me to spell it for you? The bride’s name is A-N-Y-“

“Sir,” she said, flustered. “I am sorry, but there is no way that I can do that. It wouldn’t be ethical. It would be wrong.”

I leaned forward and looked deeply into her eyes. “You know what I think is wrong, pet?”

She swallowed. “No,” she said, her eyes locked on mine.

“A beautiful woman like you, stuffed away in an airless room, hiding her charms in a fussy little uniform.”

She blinked. “Ah-“ She said, and opened her mouth.

I reached out a fingertip and brushed over her lower lip. “I think,” I said to her. “That you deserve something better than this, something nicer. I think a lovely girl like you should be off lying out on a beach, or walking through Paris, or-“

“Sitting on a terrace in Tuscany, painting a vista,” she said, her eyes far away.

“Exactly,” I said. I reached into my pocket and counted out a stack of bills. “So why don’t you go live your dream, instead of being stuck here?”

She looked down at the money. “I couldn’t possibly,” she said, her hand trembling as she reached out towards the cash.

“What’s more important, love?” I asked her. “Following your heart and giving a pair of sweethearts a wedding they’ll always remember, or making sure some silly old men have a boring lunch?” She held my eyes for a moment, thinking, and then closed her hand around the money.

****

I stood in a phone booth, trying to keep my body out of the rain. The door wouldn’t close all the way and water kept sloshing inside the booth. I dialed the phone. “Hello?” said Anya.

“Hello, sweets,” I said. “I’ve booked your wedding and you can now return to your normal state of hyperactivity.”

“Where did you book us? I’ve called all over and they told me they couldn’t help me,” she said.

“Hotel Pierre had an opening,” I told her. “They had a cancellation and they’re thrilled to have you. I cut them down to the bone on the price, and drove a hard bargain. They’re even throwing in luncheon and a lovely wedding cake.”

“That’s the most amazing thing I ever heard of,” she said, crying now. “I’m so happy. You’ve made me so happy.”

“Glad to hear it, love,” I told her. Glad I could make someone feel that way.


Continued in Chapter 11


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