"Wow, you look great."
"Is that your way of telling me I don't normally?"
"No, I've just never seen you dressed like this."
"Yeah, I haven't been to too many stuffy people parties."
"I'm not stuffy."
"No, but I'll place bets the rest are."
He smiled then and she found she liked his smile. It was one of the first things she'd noticed about him.
"I'll give you that. Help me with these?"
She walked to him, sliding in her earrings as she went and helped him with his cufflinks.
"Tell me what the deal is tonight?"
"Just closing a deal. A big client. My big client."
"Oh. So you need your wife to be brilliant socially?"
"I have no doubt she can do that."
He kissed her then. She was still getting used to kissing someone other than Angel. It had been over a year. When would it stop? The dreams had stopped anyway. Lindsey never asked her about Buffy or who the man was she'd had him call. She had to trust that he respected her enough not to try and find out.
"You're welcome. Oh, you're missing something."
"I can't possible fit anything more into this dress." It clung to her like a second skin. If she gained a pound, it would show. It was a good thing she wasn't pregnant anymore because this dress would have gone to waste. Not that she was happy about the miscarriage, but she didn't want kids. Yet. Hell, she was barely an adult.
"It'll be fun getting you out of it later. But, no, that's not what I meant."
He pulled a jewelry box out of his dresser and handed it to her. She cried out when she saw the diamond pendant necklace.
"Lindsey. It's too much."
"If you want to be successful you have to dress the part. That includes you now."
"All right." She turned her back to him so he could put the necklace on her. She looked in the mirror, running a fingertip over the three huge diamonds on the necklace. "It's beautiful."
"I know it is. And I thought of you when I saw it."
"You're so good to me."
"You deserve it. I just hope one day you'll let me in on those dreams of yours."
"One day. When I'm ready."
He lifted her hair away and kissed the nape of her neck. "I'm here."
"I know and that means more to me than you know."
"Now, let's go before I get stage fright."
"This isn't a play, Anne."
"I know, but I feel like I'm playing a part. A year ago I was working as a waitress in a diner one-step up from a dive." Before that she had killed the love of her life in a fight to the death to save the world.
"We were fated to meet, that's all."
She turned into his arms and kissed him. He always said the sweetest things. There were times she wondered if he really meant them, but she'd found nothing to indicate he didn't.
"Let's go Missus McDonald. Your chariot waits."
"Oh, I get a chariot, too?"
"Anything your heart desires."
"Hmm," she said thoughtfully.
She was nervous, rightfully so. She'd been to his office many times over the course of the year. She brought him lunch, they went out to lunch, or she brought him dinner when he was working late. This was her first gig as his wife, though. Like a real, formal, she could do something to affect a deal gig. If she was living life as Buffy it would be the stepping-stone to something going dreadfully wrong. She just hoped as Anne that all would be okay.
She felt it immediately upon entering the house. Evil. It was here. She clutched Lindsey's arm, wondering if he felt it. If he did, he gave no indication.
"Where are we?"
"His name is Russell. He'd be a really impressive client to get."
"I see," she said taking in the foyer once they were greeted at the door. She didn't really see. Every ounce of sense she possessed told her to get the hell out of there. Being here could ruin everything she'd strived so hard to escape from the past year. There was more than one. She'd never socialized with vamps or demons. Besides Angel anyway. But here they were in this man's house. She sat there while Mister Winters' servant poured drinks.
"Can I just have some water, please?" Buffy asked, when the servant presented her with a drink.
"Of course, madam."
"Thank you." She glanced at Lindsey, hoping she hadn't committed some faux pas already, but she wasn't a drinker. And if she was going to socialize with the things she used to hunt she needed to be sure she kept her wits about her.
He was good, she'd give him that. If it weren't for her uncanny ability to pick up on whatever vibe it was vamps set off she wouldn't know he wasn't human. She wondered if he sensed her, sensed she was different. If he did, he gave no outward sign of it. She relaxed when she felt Lindsey's hand on her knee. It grounded her. She laced her fingers through his and smiled.
"Thank you," she said to the servant when he brought her the requested water.
"So, Missus McDonald, your husband tells me you're newlyweds."
"Well, since January, but yes."
"And you're enjoying married life?"
"You hardly look old enough to be married."
"Looks can be deceiving I guess." Boy could they. She wondered what Lindsey would do or say if she turned to him right now and told him the man he was doing business with was a vampire. It was the first time since she'd accepted her calling that she'd experienced the desire to perform her duties and could not. Maybe he didn't kill people? Leaving Sunnydale and putting slaying and that life behind her had been a good plan. It had worked to this point. Other than a few weird things like the dreams at Christmas time and the feverish nightmare last month it had anyway. She hadn't expected to be having dinner with one.
The small talk continued from there. She almost felt like she was being interviewed for something. Maybe she was. Hopefully, she passed. She didn't want to disappoint Lindsey, she knew he was counting on this deal going through. She did have to wonder if he knew what, rather who, he was dealing with. She couldn't tell him, though, not without revealing things she wasn't ready to. She wasn't sure what exactly the point of the meeting had been. As far as she knew, no business had been discussed. Maybe that was part of it, though, being social.
"Where are we going?" She knew they were headed downtown.
"I thought we could go out for a while."
"Yes, we got all dressed up, let's make a night of it."
"Okay. You know I don't have an ID, right?" It was one disadvantage being under legal age.
"I've got it taken care of, Annie."
"Okay. Will there be dancing?"
"That could be arranged."
"Good, because I haven't been dancing in a long time."
"Well, we'll see if we can't rectify that tonight."
And, boy did he. It was close to four in the morning by the time they got home and fell into bed. They were both too exhausted to do much more than kiss good night. She took his taking her out as a sign that things had gone well at dinner. He would have been in a bad mood if things had gone wrong. Right?
When they woke in the morning, he more than made up for just a kiss good night. She didn't have much to compare him to, but he certainly had enough stamina to keep her happy. He never complained about her being overly needy in that department anyway. She remained in bed while he showered and got ready for the day. Her body still hummed from his attentions.
"So, did everything go well last night? Did I pass the wife test?"
"You did great." He stood in front of his closet, a towel wrapped around his waist with his hair still damp from the shower. She propped herself up on one elbow and looked at him. God, he was nice to look at. His back was to her, she knew he was deciding which suit to wear. He had an eye for fashion. Dress for the part. He wanted to be a successful lawyer. She still was trying to figure out just where she fit into his life's picture.
She was pretty enough that she imagined she could be counted as a trophy wife. But she had no skills. Not wife skills anyway. She was learning. He sent his shirts out, but she felt comfortable in a pinch ironing one if she needed to. She had taught herself to cook. She wasn't going to give Julia Childs competition any time soon, but she could bake chicken and stuff. It even came out edible and tasty without adding barbeque sauce. She wasn't overly smart. Had she been able to talk to Russell about vampires, she could have held an intelligent conversation for hours. Small talk, pretending to know about stuff wasn't her thing.
"What do you see in me?"
"You heard me."
"What kind of question is that?"
"I don't know. I just. You're a successful, good looking guy who started with nothing and built yourself up. So, why settle for me? A barely legal woman who you really don't know anything about."
"Maybe I ran a background check on you."
"No, but I could have and you wouldn't know it. Annie, I know you've got secrets. So do I. I hope that one day we can trust one another enough to confide in one another. I'd like that a lot."
"Really. I didn't ask you to marry me on a whim. I guess you're right, I'm sure I could have a lot of women. I want you, though, Anne. There's something about you. It drew me to you. Russell felt it last night."
"He did? How do you know?"
"He didn't have to. He was fascinated by you."
She swallowed hard, hoping the fascination wasn't because he realized she was a possible threat to him. Having to stake her husband's new client wouldn't exactly endear her to him.
He lost the towel, leaving him bare. God he was beautiful. Had she just thought that a minute ago? She watched as he dressed, systematically. He came to the bed to put his socks and shoes on.
"I don't know what's on your mind. I don't want another wife. I know it happened kind of fast, and I'll admit I was thinking of my career when I asked you. It goes over better if you fit the stereotype. But you're the first person I'd spent time with I actually thought about it. Waking up to someone every day for the rest of my life used to be the stuff nightmares were made of for me."
"I have to go, I'm going to be late."
"I know, I'm sorry."
"It's okay." He leaned over and kissed her. "Have a good morning. I'll call you."
He drew away, his eyes cloudy with desire. She loved that she could do that, make him want her just with a kiss.
She knelt on the bed, purposely letting the covers fall away. She tugged on his tie, drawing him close again. "I could come visit for lunch and take care of that look in your eyes."
"Sounds like a plan. A very good one."
"I'll see you later then," she murmured. She kissed him and let go of the tie. She chuckled softly as he stumbled a little. She'd forgotten herself and her strength for a minute.
She stood to get ready for the day. She wondered if he had run a background check on her. What had come up? He didn't ask many questions, but then neither did she really. Maybe that was one of the reasons he'd gone for her. If he was dealing with shady characters like that Russell, he probably didn't want a wife who would question how he made the money he brought home.
It was times like this she wished she had someone to talk to. She missed Willow a lot, more than a lot. There were days she didn't think about it, couldn't. There were times, though, she wanted her best friend. She was legally an adult now, but she had been thrust into the world of grown ups without an instruction manual. Staking vampires she could do, bolstering her husband's career she needed work on. How hard could it be, though? Lindsey encouraged her to accept invitations from the wives of other lawyers at his firm. Luncheons, baby showers, tennis, and things like that. These were things Buffy knew next to nothing about, but if she was going to make something of this life she had chosen maybe it was time she learned.
She didn't need Willow or Giles, their computer or books, for that. Well, okay, there might be some research involved. She got the feeling luncheons with these women wouldn't be held at McDonald's or Starbuck's. Lindsey had provided her with a more than generous wardrobe and accounts at various posh LA stores to expand it with things of her choosing. To this point, she hadn't taken advantage of his generosity. She'd bought some things here or there, but usually it was something for him and their bedroom.
LA and Wolfram & Hart wouldn't know what hit them when Lindsey and Anne McDonald got done with them. She could get into this part. How difficult could it be? She'd watched her mom do it. Granted, her mom and dad had gotten divorced, but that was because of Buffy's problems. No slayer, no problems, no divorce. Or at least, Buffy liked to think that was how it would have worked.
She'd start by planning a party. It couldn't be that hard to do. She knew how to party. She knew how to have a good time. She just needed to adjust her tastes to a different scale. Like her friends at Hemry. She could be that girl again. She'd mention it to Lindsey at lunch.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com