Against All Odds by Dusty273

ReviewsRating: NC-17

Summary: Buffy Summers is a vibrant, passionate young girl in love for the first time in her life with Angel O’Connor, to whom she’s secretly engaged. When he has to go back to his native Ireland to take care of his business, fate intervenes and she meets the very daring and impulsive Duke of Aurelius, Spike. From the moment he lays eyes upon her, he decides he wants her for himself and sets upon making it happen. Will Spike get what he wants, and if so, at what price? Written for the Spuffy_fantasy (LJ) Art-A-Thon. For the gorgeous banner made by drkdevin (Number 9).

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Chapter 13. Bitter Sweetness

Chapter Notes: AAO won a lovely Runner Up banner for the Whole Lotta History Award at Round 1 in the Cradle of Humanity Awards! And I have all of you who voted for this story to thank that for. *squishes all of you*

I know I promised an update of Into the Night and that it’s been a while since I updated AAO, too, but the last few weeks I’ve been struggling with words and a very reticent muse and boy if it didn’t frustrate the hell out of me. *sighs* So I beg your patience and your understanding for the time being.

As always, many thanks to those of you who read and review, I promise I’ll finish answering to them as soon as I can. Un millón de gracias to IBE and OkDeanna for editing this chapter for me and to Vara for saving me from making atrocious historical mistakes.

This chapter is dedicated to my lovely friends Tina, Deanna, Carrie, Sotia, Vara, Beth, Annie and Lauriel, who in one way or the other were there for me through the ‘week from hell’. Thank you for your kind words, your encouragement and for not letting me quit when my frustration escalated to monstrous proportions. *snuggles*


Love is the flower of life, and blossoms unexpectedly and without law, and must be plucked where it is found, and enjoyed for the brief hour of its duration. ~ D. H. Lawrence

Chapter 13. Bitter Sweetness

Two days later, in the morning room

A couple of days went by without the duke visiting Buffy, and while a part of her was relieved, especially after their last encounter—because how on earth could she behave so inappropriately and ever face him again?—deep within she had to admit she’d grown accustomed to having him around and even if it pained her to think it, she’d sort of missed him.

Not that the fact he hadn’t visited her meant she’d been able to keep him out of her thoughts. How could she when he’d sent her flowers three times a day and not only that, but her favorite books—Dante’s The Divine Comedy, Shakespeare’s works and Calderón de la Barca’s La Vida es Sueño—as well?

Her fingers lightly touched the delicate letters carved on the cover of one of the leather-bound tomes; the thoughtfulness of his gifts warming her heart in ways she didn’t care to analyze for the time being.

Neither did she care to examine the reason why she was having so much trouble remembering Angel’s face. William’s bluer than blue eyes and handsome features haunted her dreams, her every waking thought. The sensations his lips and hands elicited inside her were still deeply imprinted in her mind, on her body.

She sighed, leaning back against the chair in front of her desk where she’d been trying to write a thank you letter for the duke. She closed her eyes as her index finger came up of its own volition to trace her lips, recalling how his mouth had felt as it moved over hers, tasting, savoring, devouring her.

Spike silently entered the morning room through the garden, having found Willow at the front door when he came to call upon his fiancée and she’d let him know Miss Summers was alone in there.

He knew he had no business sneaking into her house this way, but he couldn’t resist the chance to catch Miss Buffy completely unawares. He was conscious of the fact that since they were engaged he was allowed to be alone with her to an extent, but there was a certain appeal to doing things like this. Not to mention he couldn’t wait any longer to see her again and this way would be a lot faster.

Staying away these past two days had been hell on earth for him. However, he’d promised Fred he would give the lovely Miss Summers some time to come to terms with whatever was happening between them and she assured him that absence made the heart grow fonder. Which was exactly what he was hoping for; because he was most certainly aching to see her again.

He observed her from just outside the French doors, waiting for the right moment to make his presence known, watching the way she reverently touched one of the books he’d sent her right before she closed her eyes and reclined her head against the chair.

She looked every inch the goddess he knew she was with the sun casting its soft light over her small frame. She glowed, her dark blond hair tumbling down her back, pinned away of her beautiful face to allow him to bask in her radiance, in her beauty. His eyes were riveted to the movement of her slender finger as it slid across her lips, over and over, back and forth, wishing it was his finger, his tongue caressing her there instead. He was bewitched, completely spellbound, unable to move for a full minute… until he heard her whisper his name.

After hearing that, he couldn’t stay away any longer.

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

Wesley tried to talk to Lady Winifred several times after the night they went to the theatre, but to no avail. She was ignoring him on purpose. As soon as he entered a room she would get up and leave, refused to acknowledge him when he greeted her, barely even looked at him and he simply couldn’t stand it any longer.

He had to explain, make her see he hadn’t meant to offend her by verbalizing his suspicions and then beg her forgiveness for ever doubting her. If she ever gave him the opportunity to do so, that is.

Since Spike had left for the day, he’d taken his chances by waiting for her in the drawing room, had been there most of the morning and would remain all day if necessary until she made an appearance.

His breath caught up in his throat when she finally entered the room just as he was serving himself a whisky to settle his nerves, uncaring it wasn’t quite noon yet. His heart plummeting to the pit of his stomach, however, at the scathing glare she threw his way.

Fred had done her best not to pay any attention to Wesley and so far, it’d worked quite well. William did his part by keeping his new business partner busy and out of her way for the most part, but it seemed lady luck had abandoned her today when she found him sitting in the drawing room, no doubt waiting for her.

She groaned inwardly when she saw him there and just about turned on her heel to leave, but the pleading tone she heard in his voice when he spoke stopped her.

“Lady Winifred, please don’t go,” he rushed to say, relieved when she paused. “I-I wanted to talk to you.”

“Wanted or want, Mr. Wyndham-Pryce? Because, as you well know, I don’t have time for games,” she said icily.

“W-want, o-of course.” He repressed a shiver of fear that he might not be able to convince her to forgive him. She could be extremely intimidating when she wanted, much like her brother.

“So… what do you want to talk to me about then?”

“I-I…” He cleared his throat before continuing, “I need to beg your forgiveness for ever doubting you, Lady Winifred.” He gave her a shy smile, hoping that would be enough to get back on her good graces again.

“I see, and what was it that made you change your mind about that if I may inquire, Mr. Wyndham-Pryce?”

“Wes,” he interjected.

“What?” She raised her eyebrow at him in question.

“Call me Wes or Wesley like you always have, please?” He didn’t care if he sounded like a downright ponce by asking her to call him by his given name. He only wanted, needed Lady Winifred to act the same way with him as she’d always had.

She sighed, torn between the need to forgive him and slap some sense into him. Couldn’t he see how much she cared for him? That knowing he didn’t care enough for her, that his pride was more important to him than loving her freely was slowly killing her inside? “Look, you can’t say what you said to me and then ask for forgiveness and expect it to all go away. I’m sorry, but I…”

“Is this a private party, or can an old friend interrupt?”

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

Spike neared Buffy as silently as he could, trying not to alert her to his presence until it was time, waiting until she lowered her hand from her face to deposit the softest of kisses on her lips.

Startled by the suddenness of the caress, Buffy opened her eyes and instantly blushed when she found the object of her latest daydream right there in front of her. He was staring at her in a way that could only be described as adoring, and which only served to deepen the blush she was certain stained her cheeks.

“Wi-William?” she asked, trying to get up from the chair, but unable when he kneeled by her side, took one of her hands in his and brought it to his lips.

“Good mornin’, my love.”

“I-I… g-good m-morning,” she stuttered, lowering her face shyly to hide it from his piercing gaze for all the good it did her since he placed a finger under her chin to level it with his. He smiled at her then, softly, sweetly and she couldn’t stop the timid grin that tugged at the corner of her lips.

“You don’ need to hide from me, sweetheart. I thought we’d reached an understanding the last time we saw each other, didn’ we?”

Understanding? She thought back to their last encounter, her cheeks suffusing with heat as she recalled the wanton way she’d behaved, trying again to hide from him.

“Ah-ah-ah, none of that. You promised you’d let me win your heart, don’ you remember?”

Like she could forget anything that happened that night? She’d only been replaying it in her mind over and over and over for the last two days. And the worst part was that she was afraid he’d somehow bewitched her. Because whenever he was with her—and even when he wasn’t—all she wanted to do was give in to the feelings he incited in her.

She could have said she didn’t recall promising anything, but she didn’t want to lie to him, not when he was looking at her like he was now. So she nodded, raising a trembling hand up to caress his cheek to tell him, “I-I… remember.”

He beamed at her, and her heart just about stopped beating in her chest for a second before resuming its mad gallop the next when he pounced on her, lifting her from the chair and into his strong arms, twirling with her around the room.

Buffy could only hang onto him and giggle at his boyish antics, feeling lighter, happier than she’d felt in a long time.

Her bubbling laughter was music to his ears, the way she clung to him a balsam to his soul. And for the first time since this all started, he dared to believe she might be starting to feel for him at least a speck of what he already felt for her.

Still laughing, they haphazardly fell onto the sofa with Buffy landing on his lap while he nuzzled her neck contentedly. He pulled back slightly to gaze into her emerald depths. Swirling within them he found trust, acceptance, and was that possibly longing? He hoped so.

“Did you like my gifts, love?” he asked, nodding towards the desk where they lay.

“Oh yes, I was just writing a thank you letter when you came.” She tried to move out of his embrace but he held fast, wouldn’t allow her with a sigh, she settled back in his arms. They were most comfortable anyway. “It was so thoughtful of you.”

“Well, now that ’m here, you can thank me in person,” He winked at her and was delighted at the way her cheeks flushed red once again. She was so adorable and he couldn’t get enough of her. “What do you think?”

She scrunched her nose at him. “I think you enjoy making me blush and that’s not very nice of you, milord,” she said, swatting at his chest with one of her hands and pouting.

He groaned, his indigo gaze zeroing in on that delectable protruding lip. “Oh pet, I can show you just how nice I can be to you given the proper… incentive.”

“Incentive?” She blinked, positively confused now, unsure what he meant by that.

“Oh yes, allow me to demonstrate,” he said, lowering his head to capture her bottom lip with his teeth, making her ‘eep’ before she melted into his arms and gave in to his demands.

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

“Is this a private party or can an old friend interrupt?”

“Alasdair!” Lady Winifred exclaimed happily when she turned towards the man at the door—too happily if you asked him, Wes thought as he gritted his teeth, his knuckles turning white as they tightened around the glass he was still holding. The muscles in his jaw ticked as he tried not to show how furious this interruption made him.

Not that he had much luck with that when the next thing the tall, elegant man by the door did was to swoop his ladylove into his arms in an embrace that lasted too long for his taste. Who did the man think he was anyway? Had he suddenly turned invisible that this rogue, they, would behave like that in front of him?

“When did you arrive? Are you staying for long?” she asked him as soon as he put her down again, daring a sideways glance towards Wesley and seeing he was livid. Oh yes, this will work wonderfully.

“Just got here and I’ll stay for as long as you want me to, dearest.” Alasdair winked at her conspiratorially, almost laughing at the other man’s obvious distress.

When Spike suggested he come to London when they recently met up in Wales, Alasdair Chandler hadn’t expected it would be for this. It had been merely for a much needed holiday. But after his old friend joined him for breakfast at his suite in the Pulteney hotel, the duke insisted he stay with Fred and he in the Aurelius townhouse.

He’d refused at first, not wanting to impose upon them, but when the duke told him all about a his plan to make Wesley Wyndham-Pryce pull his head out of his arse long enough to see what a wonderful woman he might lose if he kept allowing his pride to interfere, he’d accepted the offer immediately. Anything to help a friend in need. And if the icy reception he’d received from the other man was any indication of what was to come, he would have much fun while he was at it.

“Oh, then I hope you came prepared because you’re staying a long, long time.” She batted her eyelashes at him coquettishly, startling when she heard the sound of glass breaking in the background and turned towards it to find Wesley holding his bleeding hand.

Fred almost gave up the charade to go to his aid right then, especially when he directed his pained, pleading blue eyes towards her. Almost, but not quite. She remembered just in time she couldn’t give in yet, not until he forgot his pretense of caring about her only as a family member. If he ever did, that was. He was too stubborn and prideful for his own good and at the rate they were going, she hoped she wouldn’t be an old lady by the time he finally saw reason.

Wes was in shock, looking from his injured hand towards the woman he loved and back again. Good heavens, if he kept breaking glasses like this his hands would never heal, and why wasn’t Lady Winifred rushing to his aide? He wanted to pout like a little boy at the injustice of it when instead of doing just that, she walked straight past him and pulled the bell cord to call the butler, barely sparing a glance his way.

A linen handkerchief was pressed over his hand just then and he raised surprised eyes to find the Earl of Harlich’s amused gaze set upon him.

“It seems you have a certain… proclivity to accidents, Mr. Wyndham-Pryce,” he said, nodding towards Wes’ other hand which was still bandaged after his little incident two days earlier.

“I can assure you that I have no proclivity for that or anything else for that matter,” he gritted between clenched teeth. He hated the condescending tone the man used with him.

“Yes, that’s exactly what I fear,” Alasdair replied enigmatically, knowing he was getting on the brunet man’s nerves and enjoying himself immensely.

And what the hell did he mean by that? Wes asked himself, his eyes flashing with anger, barely able to restrain himself from punching the bloody git. Not that it would do him any good or help him get back on Lady Winifred’s good graces, but good Lord if it wouldn’t be satisfying to wipe the smirk off the other man’s face.

Just when he was contemplating if he could get away with claiming temporary insanity if he killed the man, the object of his affection came into view. And he just about gave into his prior impulse when she latched onto the earl’s arm, smiling sweetly at him while telling him, “Well, Mr. Jenkins will take care of Mr. Wyndham-Pryce, so in the meantime why don’t we get you settled in, Alasdair?”

“Are you sure he’ll be alright with just Mr. Jenkins, sweetness? He doesn’t look all that well.”

And he truly didn’t, Wes’ pallor had gone from deathly white to almost green as he watched Alasdair and Fred flirt with each other.

“Oh, I’m sure he’ll be fine,” she patted Wes’ hand condescendingly, a saccharin smile gracing her features. “Won’t you?”

What could he say to that? Say he wasn’t alright and accept he was a wimp in front of Alasdair Chandler? It was out of the question, yet it wasn’t like Lady Winifred had any intention of tending to his wounds anyway so it was of no use. “Of course, Lady Winifred, I’ll be right as rain.”

“See?” she beamed at her guest, leading him towards the door, telling him of all the plans she had for him now that he was in London.

Wes frowned as he watched her leave with the earl without a backwards glance at him, clenching his hand in a fist and cursing the pain that coursed through his arm when a shard of glass became more firmly embedded in his palm. But it was nothing compared to the pain as his heart shattered inside his chest at the thought he might have lost any chance he had with her.

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

William pulled her closer to him, one of his hands cradling the back of her neck while he nibbled on her lower lip, teasing it lightly with his teeth and tongue over and over, driving her insane as she longed for him to kiss her properly. And he must have known what he doing to her, too—damn him to hellfire—because he chuckled lightly when she moaned but didn’t respond to her obvious invitation to deepen the kiss… if one could even call it that. As it was, if he didn't end her torment soon, she might be forced to take matters into her own hands and wasn’t that an idea worthy of being considered?

With a tremulous sigh, she brought a hand up to caress his jaw, his sharp cheekbone before pulling away to free her bottom lip from his hold only to lean back in to press her lips fully against his, her tongue brazenly peaking out to slide across the seam of his mouth.

He just about swallowed his own tongue at the boldness of her actions, never imagining she’d take the initiative like this. Not that he minded… at all. If anything, it made him want her even more than he already did, and he hadn’t thought that was physically possible.

Any thoughts of teasing her further went out of the proverbial window as soon as her tongue slid between his lips as he parted them and tentatively glided along his. He growled deep in his throat before claiming her mouth, his hand weaving into her tresses as he oh so very slowly lowered her until her back was pressed into the couch, with him hovering over her.

He was beyond elated with her response as she clung to him, kissing him back as if her life depended on it, her hands encircling his neck, her back arching against his chest.

Her lungs were on fire. Good heavens, her entire body was on fire as one of his hands coasted down the front of her dress, shivering when his fingers grazed the top of her breasts before continuing their southward path.

He was steel hard, nestled between her heavenly thighs, hips rocking gently against her as his mouth traveled down her jaw and the slender column of her throat, placing wet kisses across her collarbone, her little mewls of pleasure driving him out of his mind with lust. She felt so good in his arms, like she’d been made to be there, to be his.

“You’re so beautiful, Buffy, my Buffy,” he whispered ardently. “I can’ wait until you’re my wife, until you’re mine in every sense of the word.”

She held on breathlessly to him, unable to answer as she drowned in the sea of sensations he provoked inside her, completely lost to the wondrous feeling of him surrounding her, his masculine scent—sandalwood, tobacco and something that had to be purely him—making her swoon with the almost overpowering need for something she couldn’t quite understand.

His hand skimmed over her breast, down to her waist and back up again, his touch so light she couldn’t be certain it wasn’t a figment of her imagination, but it elicited a shiver and a small moan from her anyway as she hung onto him for dear life.

He was so very close to losing a lot more than just his mind when he heard a light tap on the window, then another a little harder, effectively bringing him back to earth and making him realize what he’d been about to do.

Buffy whimpered in protest when he stopped kissing her, her hands trying to pull him back down and bloody hell if that didn’t make him wish the two weeks still left until the wedding went by as fast as they could.

He finally managed to untangle himself from her arms, helping her sit upright before he stood up and passed a hand over his face as he tried to squash down his frustration, fixing himself as best as he could. With much difficulty, he walked towards the French doors where a very flushed Miss Rosenberg was waiting for him.

“I-I’m sorry to interrupt, milord, but La-lady Joyce a-asked for Miss Elizabeth a-and I figured it was best to l-let you know.”

“Thank you, Miss Rosenberg. Does she know I’m here?”

“N-no, of course not, Sir.”

“Where is she?”

“In the drawing room, your Grace.”

“Good. Could you tell her Miss Summers will join her momentarily then?”

“C-certainly, your Grace.” She curtsied at him and scurried to do his bidding.

He returned to the sofa and had to smile when he found Buffy still looking a little dazed over what transpired between them. Not that he could blame her.

Although this was hardly the place or the time to indulge in certain… ahem, activities, he couldn’t deny he was over the moon with the fact his fiancée responded so passionately to his advances, even instigated them this time.

She never looked more beautiful to him than she did now, the evidence of their passion clear for him to see as he took in her dilated pupils, flushed skin and lips swollen from his kisses.

Spike dropped to his haunches in front of Buffy and caressed her face lovingly, melting when she turned her head slightly and nuzzled his palm with her nose.

His heart swelled with tenderness at her gesture, at the fact that she wasn’t retreating from him like she’d done before, that she seemed so open to share this part of her, this moment with him, with no regrets.

tbc


A/N: I’d love to know what you thought of the chapter, if you are inclined to let me know. *bats eyelashes*

Hope you all have a wonderful week!

Hugs,

Mari

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