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 5. A Walk to Remember

Chapter Notes: Thank you very much for the reviews, it makes me very happy to know you’re enjoying this story.

Mil gracias to the lovely IBE, the best sister a girl could ask for and without whom I’d be truly lost *smooches* love you, cariño; to jamies_lady, for all her help and expertise and OKDeanna, for the read-through and being such a sweet friend. *huggles*

 

 

1) Canto V, The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri
(2) Act V, Macbeth, William Shakespeare
(3) La Vida es Sueño (Life is a Dream), Pedro Calderón De la Barca
(4) Nuestro = Ours

Desire is the starting point of all achievement, not a hope, not a wish, but a keen pulsating desire which transcends everything. ~Napoleon Hill


Chapter 5. A Walk to Remember

It was official. Someone up there hated her.

Even the weather conspired against her tonight. The climate had been mildly cold at night, befitting for April, but today of all days it was warm enough that she didn’t need a wrap. Add to that the way her father had practically thrown her into the Duke’s arms forcing her to join him on a moonlit walk through the garden and, she was more than half-convinced she’d truly died and ended up in Dante’s inferno. But even if she had, she knew there was no possibility of ever getting out of it, of climbing her way up to Paradiso.

Not if her father had anything to do with it.

She should be giving thanks for small mercies that at least they were alone now and there was no one who might either glare at her or pinch her or even beat her if she didn’t behave as was expected of a proper lady. That had to count for something.

Buffy was well aware of what was coming. Of what would happen. And she was torn. Torn between the overwhelming need of getting it over with, the even more daunting prospect of having to say yes when the Duke proposed and the desire to say to hell with everything and escape from a fate worse than death.

Overly dramatic? Yes, perhaps she was, not like she could help herself, though. Why oh why hadn’t Angel said yes when she proposed eloping to Gretna Green? Everything would be so much better if he had. It was his fault she was in this predicament now.

And while she’d come to accept her fate, after all there was nothing she could do against her father’s wishes—at least for the time being—no one said she had to make it easy on the dreaded man who walked by her side. With a little luck, perhaps he’d even change his mind and decide not to marry her? It was worth a shot at the very least.

The garden was truly gorgeous at night, its path illuminated by the moon and several lanterns strategically positioned to create a very romantic ambiance and although Spike was fully aware there was nothing romantic about the way he won this girl’s hand in marriage, it didn’t mean he couldn’t make the most of it. If nothing else, it provided him with the perfect opportunity to get to know the woman who would become his wife a little better without any interruptions.

He threw her a sideways glance and smiled when noticing she seemed to be discussing something with herself. She had yet to acknowledge his presence, but he didn’t mind, enjoying the chance to observe her like this. She enchanted him, she truly did. From the first moment he saw her, from the moment their eyes locked across the street. She had something, a certain je ne sais quoi which drew him to her, drove him to want to possess her… in every way possible.

He was rather impatient to ‘seal the deal’ so to speak, though. They couldn’t remain outside for too long, not even if her father had been exceedingly accommodating about the whole issue. He respected Lady Joyce too much to do that. Not to mention Fred would surely kill him if he did. And while he’d never admit it to her, his sister could be quite scary when she wanted.

He cleared his throat. “Miss Summers?”

She rolled her eyes when she heard him. Everything had been going… well, not too bad until he spoke. She’d been able to tune him out and concentrate on how much she loved walking in the garden, being one with nature. Perhaps if she ignored him he would go away like the pest he was? She could only hope.

“Miss Buffy?” Spike tried again to no avail. She didn’t even look at him, gave him no indication to show that she actually heard him at all while still appearing engrossed by the starry sky above. “The stars shine beautifully tonight, do you not agree, pet?”

She sighed wistfully, her eyes trained on the firmament. “The stars are quite lovely. ‘Tis a pity there's no one here to share the sight of them with me,” she said, sitting on a nearby fountain’s ledge while she played with the water.

“What ever do you mean?” He frowned in confusion. Was the chit insane? “I’m here and you’re sharin’ it with me.”

She smiled inwardly at his words, she was already getting to him and she knew this was too good an opportunity to pass up. “Hmmmm, whatever is that noise?”

“What noise?” He sat by her side and she promptly stood up, continuing down the path.

“Oh, perhaps it’s a cricket…”

Crickets? He blinked as he followed her down the trail. Sure, they could hear some crickets tonight, but as to have it qualify as noise…

“…or maybe it’s a cockroach. The vile things can be quite loud upon occasion.”

Confounded as he’d been, he would’ve missed her meaning entirely if she hadn’t glanced meaningfully towards him when she said the word ‘cockroach’, but fleeting as it was he saw the mischief dancing in her eyes and it amused him to no end that he’d been had by the saucy minx. He had to give it to her, she was good. He started laughing uproariously. Life certainly wouldn’t be dull with her by his side.

Whatever she might have thought his reaction would be it definitely wasn’t the one she got. She wanted to stomp her foot and pout at the injustice of it. She had ignored him, all but insulted him and what did he do? Laugh! What on earth was wrong with him?

Perhaps it was time to change tactics. Ignoring him certainly hadn’t worked, but maybe… Oh yes! Her mother always insisted on her not showing how well-read she was. ‘Men don’t care for smart women, Elizabeth,’ she’d said, over and over and over, always afraid her only daughter would be accused of being a ‘blue stocking’. Not like Buffy would’ve minded being one, not really.

A blue stocking stood for all she wished she could be. They were intellectual, moral and cultural female icons and her own governess while growing up in America had been one. Darling Miss Henderson had noticed Buffy’s love for books, her natural talent for languages and the arts and had provided her with all the tools she needed to excel in those subjects; going so far as to convince her father to allow his daughter to go to the local rectory to receive classes from the vicar. Of course, her father thought he was teaching her music while in reality the man taught her not only that, but Greek, Latin, Spanish, French and Italian as well.

For the sake of her mother, Buffy learned to curb her enthusiasm when it came to defending her point of view on issues she believed in or her choices in reading or even showing how intelligent she truly was, knowing that would only cause them both problems with her father. She’d done it with Angel as well, scared that her mother could be right and men really didn’t care for bright women.

She had no qualms of being herself with the Duke of Aurelius though, au contraire, she hoped it would be enough for him to call the wedding off. A Corinthian like him would never tolerate a Blue Stocking for wife.

“I love poetry,” she began, sitting on a stone bench.

She was talking to him now? It seemed she was. Not quite sure what brought this on; he decided not to interrupt her and instead raised an inquisitive eyebrow.

“Poetry is true art in itself, so expressive and profound at times, like the narrative poem which describes Dante's imaginary journey. Who midway on his journey through life, realizes he has taken the wrong path. But with the help of Virgil and then Beatrice, he begins his religious pilgrimage to find God. Not too easy a task since to reach his goal, he has to go through every circle of Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise first.” So there, that should send him running for the hills or whatever rock he crawled up from.

He immediately recognized ‘The Divine Comedy’ and regarded her in a completely new light, as if his eyes had suddenly opened to 'see' the real woman before him for the first time. Beautiful, spirited, fiery and smart? Be still my heart. He was beyond impressed. He didn’t know many women—if any—nor men who would indulge in that type of work just for the sake of reading them. And not only had she clearly read it, but thoroughly understood and even loved it judging from the serene expression on her lovely face. A mere woman yes, but a woman after his own heart.

“O thou that comest to the woeful inn, beware how thou enterest, and to whom thou trustest thyself; let not the amplitude of the entrance deceive thee,(1)” the Duke recited and it was Buffy’s turn to gape at him in mute surprise. Not that him quoting Dante Alighieri changed in any way how she felt about him and this whole marriage issue, though.

Time to up the ante.

“Out, damn'd spot! Out, I say!” she said, hoping to throw him off.

“All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand,(2)” he replied, delighted at her outraged gasp. He was having so much fun with this game of hers.

Argh! Damned man, she gritted her teeth and the worst of it? He seemed to be enjoying this a little too much. Time to bring out the heavy artillery! “¿Qué es la vida? Un frenesí. -- ¿Qué es la vida? Una ilusión, una sombra, una ficción, y el mayor bien es pequeño; que toda la vida es sueño y los sueños, sueños son.(3)” There was no way he’d know that one. No way in hell!

“What is life? A frenzy. -- What is life? An illusion, a shadow, a fiction, and the greatest good is small; all that life is, is a dream and dreams, dreams are,” he translated, before adding in perfect Spanish, “Algo más, amor? O podemos continuar con lo nuestro?” (Anything else, love? Or can we continue with our business?)

“There’s no ‘nuestro’(4) and stop calling me love,” she all but growled. She was sure he was just doing this to be contrary. Why couldn’t he be like every other man and be put off by her intelligence instead of thoroughly amused?

“Oh, but there is, sweetlin’. There’s the little matter of our marriage. I could propose in any language you want. You just say which.” He knelt in front of her, taking her hand in his, his indigo gaze holding her captive. “And if I don’t call you love, what should I call you then? Goldilocks, sweetheart, cariño, gatita, mon cherie, chaton…”

Thank heavens she was wearing gloves or he would have seen the goose bumps which traveled up her arm at his every touch… at every one of his endearments. It was… unsettling, disgusting, she decided, a shiver running the length of her back at the way his eyes hungrily devoured her.

“How about you don’t call me anything?” She pulled her hand away from his. “Better yet why don’t you leave and forget all about me?”

“Now, now, kitten, where’s the fun in that?”

“If it’s fun you want, let me inform you, you chose the wrong woman.”

“Oh, love, I truly doubt that. And just so you see how serious I am about this… would you do me the honor of becomin’ my wife, Miss Buffy Summers?”

“I want you to know that while I’m being forced to say yes, you will never have my true consent.”

“Fair ‘nough, but let me warn you, sweetheart. ’M a very persistent man and I can assure you, there’ll come a day when you’ll be singin’ a very different tune.”

“I advise you not to hold your breath because that will never happen. Ever!” She leveled him with an icy glare before she stood up from the bench and walked off in a huff.

So kitten wants to play, huh? Spike smirked devilishly as he watched her go further into the garden, a delicious idea crossing his mind. She might run, but she couldn’t hide, not from him. “Let’s see how you like dealin’ with the Big Bad, love,” he muttered to himself before following her.

Buffy sighed in relief when a few minutes went by and the Duke still hadn’t caught up with her. Perhaps he’d seen the light, decided this matrimony was an exercise in futility and left? One could only pray that was true.

Only then did she allow herself to try and calm her frayed nerves as she traveled through her beloved garden, touching the flowers, deeply inhaling their scent all the while trying to forget about the odious man she was being forced to marry. The more she got to know him, the less she liked him. Even if a tiny, very minuscule part of her had to admit, he’d impressed her with his responses. That didn’t matter though, not when everything about him disturbed her, the way he looked at her, how he seemed to be gazing right into her soul, how he talked to her… He made her feel uneasy, on edge, as if she were skating on thin ice. He was just too… intense for her liking.

And entirely too dangerous for her peace of mind.

She hadn’t noticed him yet, not that he expected her to. Spike was an expert hunter and knew time and patience were just as essential as stealth to catch his prey. And she was precisely that right now, his prey. She trailed down the path calmly, not even imagining what, or rather who, stalked her from afar, waiting for the right moment to pounce.

Buffy heard a small noise coming from behind her and turned around to see what it was, frowning when she didn’t notice anything that could have caused it. Hmmm, strange, she shook her head, berating herself for being overly paranoid about something which was obviously nothing at all. She spun on her heel to continue her stroll and crashed into something, or rather someone who most certainly wasn’t there a second ago.

She let out a surprised yelp and immediately jumped backwards, losing her footing when one of her slippers slid over a muddy patch. She would have fallen too, if it hadn’t been for the Duke’s quick reflexes when he grabbed her arms and pulled her towards him.

Buffy panted her relief, her eyes closed and heart beating so hard she thought for a second it might escape from her chest as she leaned into him. Until her mind started working once again and then she couldn’t shove him hard enough to get him away from her.

Spike couldn’t believe how good it felt to have her enfolded in his embrace, albeit not precisely of her own free will, but he decided to take things in stride as they came and not worry over such trivial details. Her petite frame fitted perfectly against his, her soft curves molding against his hard planes as if she were created for him. The three weeks until they were married, until she would truly be his would feel eternal for him. The sublime warmth and feel of her body pressed to his was over all too soon when she suddenly pushed him away, leaving him feeling almost… bereft.

“Leavin’ so soon, pet?” he asked advancing towards her whenever she took a step back until he cornered her against an oak tree, his hand raising to caress her cheek, fingers trailing softly down her throat and collarbone to play with the lacy border of her dress. “And here I thought we could use this chance to become better… acquainted.”

She hated herself for the small shivers that wracked her body at his actions, convinced it had to be fear that elicited them and not something else. Then she saw him lower his face towards her as if in slow motion and could barely move, could barely think as the blue swirling depths held her captive under their spell.

His hands came back up to cradle her face, his lips brushing hers, once, twice, before his tongue came out to lightly tease the seam of her mouth, coaxing her to allow him entrance.

He’d meant to take what he wanted—by force if need be—but on the last moment a wave of tenderness for the girl in his arms swept him, making him treat her like she was made of the finest porcelain instead. Just as softly, just as gently. He bestowed caresses as delicate as rose petals upon her, allowing her to get used to his touch, to his kisses.

Spike could sense this was her first kiss and didn’t want to rush it, rush her; her innocence showing in the way she reacted to him, but at the same time he could also feel the underlying fire that had been ever present in each one of their encounters and wanted nothing more than to fan it, to make it grow into a conflagration that would burn them both to ashes.

His patience was rewarded when she sighed softly and his tongue finally entered the wet recesses of her mouth to savor her sweetness. All thoughts of schooling his ardor in favor of her innocence were promptly forgotten as the first taste of her exploded on his taste buds, though. His tongue engaged hers in a passionate dance, his hands coursing down her luscious curves, molding her body to his, pressing her harder against the tree trunk. She was addicting; her flavor completely intoxicating, inflaming him to the point of madness.

She hesitated for only a second before following his lead, matching him step by step. She felt as if she were drowning, like she couldn’t breathe. She’d dreamt about being kissed, many, many times; but never in a million years did she imagine a kiss would feel like this… a thunderstorm of all-encompassing sensations that kept driving her to previously unknown heights.

She came back to her senses when she felt his hands coasting the underside of her breasts and pushed against his chest until she was finally free of him, panting as she tried to catch her breath while staring at him defiantly, all the while wiping her mouth of his kisses.

“What do you think you’re doing?! You have no right—”

“No right?” he smirked; a decidedly predatory gleam in his eyes as he neared her once again, leaning to purr in her ear, “Tha’s where you’re wrong, love. I have every right, you’re my fiancée and will be my wife in three weeks or have you forgotten about that?”

She wished she could forget about that, just as much as she wished she could forget about the kisses he just forced on her or her unwanted reaction to them. He was Satan incarnated, he had to be to make her feel like that.

“Argh! You’re impossible,” she exclaimed, throwing her hands up in the air and starting to walk back to the house, his laughter following her.

He loved the fire in her eyes, in her. Even if that fire was burning in anger at the moment, it held more than a touch of passion. Passion for him, for his kisses. He felt her response to them, to him. She might deny it all she wanted, but he felt it and he would feel it again… soon, very soon.

As he walked behind her, Spike was determined to find a way to prompt more of these private encounters. He might have to wait until they were married to truly have her like he wanted, but that didn’t mean there weren’t ways to make her more… pliant to his wishes in the meantime.

He would seduce her with words, with actions. He was a master at that. She’d have no chance against him. None at all and when the time came, it would make her surrender all the sweeter.

tbc

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