“I thought I might find you in here. Hiding?” Buffy asked, leaning up against his desk. She’d just come back from a patrol with a group of slayers.
“Would you think less of me if I said yes?”
“No, I’d think better of you.”
“Better of me?”
“Yes, because that means I’m really what you want.”
“What are you talking about?”
“A house full of young women and you’d rather sit alone in your office than watch them.”
He chuckled at that.
“I can’t deny the view has definitely gotten more pleasing over the course of the past couple of weeks.” He scooted his chair back and patted his lap, which she went to automatically. Her arms went around his neck while his supported her waist. “But they’re not you.”
“Mm, just for that, you might get lucky tonight.”
“As opposed to every other night?”
He waggled his eyebrows. “Does it involve a French maid costume?”
“It might. Or it could be something even better.”
He chuckled and kissed her. “Hmm. I think I like your version of lucky then.”
“It could involve some time away, just us, too. If you were so inclined.”
“Yeah, I was thinking a date. You, me, dinner, a club. What do you think?”
“I think I love the sound of it.”
“Me, too.” She lifted one hand to his face, letting a finger glide along his jaw. “Wanna come wash my back?”
“Are the Yankees going to win the pennant?”
She frowned. “Is that a yes?”
He laughed. One of these days she would understand his sports analogies. He was a Yankees fan, though, so she wasn’t sure if they were really good or if it was just wishful thinking on his part.
“That’s a yes, baby. A resounding yes.”
She slid off his lap, taking his hand and leading him to their room. They had contemplated giving Dawn the bedroom Buffy had first used, but decided against it. They both kind of liked the privacy and having to share a bathroom would infringe on that. For just moments like these. Buffy loved doing spur of the moment things.
The house was brimming with slayers. If the staff, some Buffy barely ever saw to know their names, wondered why all of a sudden a hundred plus girls were staying here they never asked. She had no idea what was coming. From what Spike said, no one knew for sure. But they were ready. Patrolling had put her on alert. Matty noticed the difference. Even though she wasn’t working she was constantly busy. Preparing weapons, ensuring everyone had a buddy. When this went down there was no way she could be responsible for all of them, so they each had someone they were supposed to try and keep track of. There was no guarantee they’d be able to, but it was worth a try.
She could tell she surprised Matty when she chose one of her more formal dresses.
“You really want a night out, don’t you?”
“We deserve it.”
“All right, well, I’ll adjust what I was planning to wear then.”
“Cool,” she said, slipping into the dress.
“No word from Spike?”
“No, nothing. Once the slayers started coming, we thought it better he not come around here anymore. Well, you know that, I already told you. I probably won’t until my phone rings telling me where to be and when.”
“Hmm, I’m not going to leave without telling you.”
“I know. Let’s go and not worry about end of world stuff for a little while.”
“I couldn’t agree more.”
One thing Buffy liked about Matty, he had good taste. From simple things like music down to the more important things in life like clothes she’d gotten to trust him on just about anything. So, when he pulled up in front of a swank restaurant, she knew she would not be disappointed.
“Are we going to be able to get in here without a reservation?”
“Okay,” Buffy said, doubtfully. It was one of those restaurants that people had to wait weeks to get a spot on the reservations list. And you could pretty much forget walking in off the street like they were doing. She kept her doubts to herself, though, not wanting to be the one to dash his hopes.
He held the doors open for her, as he always did. The restaurant was packed, but surprisingly pretty quiet. It was definitely of the snooty, stuffy variety. She’d heard good things about it, though, through clients of Topline. She was kind of bummed they wouldn’t get to eat here.
“Ah, Signor Demaret, how nice to see you tonight.”
“Thanks, Angelo, how are you?” Matty shook the man’s hand and then they embraced like long-lost friends.
“I’m doing well, business is doing very well.”
“That’s good to hear.”
“Are you here to dine with us tonight?”
Here it comes. They seemed friendly, so Buffy was sure the man would apologize profusely and everything. What did Matty expect after all?
“We are,” Matty said, placing a hand at the small of Buffy’s back. “This is my wife, Angelo. Buffy.”
“A pleasure to meet you, Signora Demaret.” He took her hand and kissed it. Buffy might have been creeped out if he wasn’t an adorable, harmless looking old man. “You’ve kept her a secret. We did not know you were even married.”
“She has a career of her own, Angelo. I didn’t think anyone would believe me if I told them without bringing her with me.”
“Indeed, Signor, you might be right. You always have been a jokester. I’ll show you to your table in just one moment,” he said, glancing past Buffy and Matty to the party that had come in behind them. People who probably had a reservation and would get seated right away.
“Senator Bruckner, how lovely to see you again.”
“Angelo, you’re so good to remember my name.”
“We like to remember our best customers. You have guests tonight, yes?”
“Just two of us tonight.”
“Angelo, go ahead and seat the senator.”
Angelo came back to Matty and Buffy and Matty glanced behind them.
“Are you sure, Signor?”
“Very well, Signor Demaret.”
“Demaret,” the woman behind them said. “As in Benny Demaret?”
“That would be my father, ma’am,” Matty said.
“So, then this is your restaurant?”
“Yes, it is.”
Buffy turned to stare at Matty. He’d left that bit of information out. No wonder they were going to get seated! He owned a restaurant? And then her eyes fell on the woman and the man standing next to her. Angel. He looked, for lack of a better word, frightening actually.
“I always enjoy coming here. I try to at least once a month, it seems as though I always miss you. I try and tell the owners of the establishments I frequent personally.”
“I’m glad to have run into you tonight then, Senator. May I introduce my wife? Buffy, this is Senator Bruckner.”
Buffy extended her hand, wondering what was going on. “Pleased to meet you, Senator.” There was a third person with them, but Buffy guessed he wasn’t there to eat. Especially when her slayer senses went on full alert. What was Angel doing here with a senator and a vampire? And why did he look so utterly un-Angel-like?
“And you, Mrs. Demaret. That’s a lovely dress. Is it anyone I would know?”
Buffy paused for a moment, wondering about that. “I’m not sure actually, Matty picked it out.”
“Of course he did. Your father always had impeccable taste, I’m glad to see it was in the genes. You will tell him I said hello, won’t you?”
“Of course, Senator. You’ll let me know if anything about tonight’s meal isn’t to your liking.”
“It always is, which is why we came here. Forgive me. This is Angel. He’s with Wolfram & Hart. They’re helping me with some campaign issues for my re-election. Have to keep everything on the up and up.”
Matty took Angel’s extended hand. “A pleasure to meet you, Angel. Please, enjoy your meal.”
“Thank you. Mr. Demaret, is it?”
“It seems like a nice place you have here.”
“I will seat you now, Senator. Right this way,” Angelo interrupted.
“Well, that was weird,” Buffy whispered to Matty once the senator, Angel, and whoever the third person was were out of earshot.
“Yeah, it was.”
She leaned against him to whisper in his ear. Anyone looking would see a wife whispering sweet nothings in her husband’s ear. “He’s a vampire.”
“Well, yeah, I know who he is, Buffy.”
“No, not Angel, the other guy.”
“Oh? You can tell that?”
“Yes,” she whispered.
“And why did you act like you didn’t know him?”
“Because I saw the way he was looking. Like he didn’t know us, so I just assumed,” Matty shrugged. “I see that a lot in my father’s business. People don’t want other people to know they associate with the mob or bookies or whatever.”
“Oh. Huh,” Buffy said. “And when were you going to tell me you owned a restaurant?”
“I didn’t realize you cared.”
“Well, of course I care. It’s not that, though, it just makes me wonder what else I don’t know about you. I mean, we’ve been together for seven months. Shouldn’t we have come here before now?”
“It wasn’t until recently I thought you really wanted to be my wife. It’s one thing for Amanda to know you’re my wife, and to find out later we’re divorced, and the circumstances of our marriage.”
“Oh,” Buffy said, pondering that. “A credibility thing?”
“A little of that, too, yeah.”
“Okay, I forgive you.”
He chuckled. “Thanks.”
“Signor Demaret, I’ll show you to your table now.”
“Thank you, Angelo.”
“Is there a table specifically for you?”
“Yes, for us now,” he whispered.
“Do you come here a lot?” Buffy sat as Angelo, not Matty, held her chair for her.
“Thank you, Angelo,” Matty said and then Angelo disappeared. “Yes, I try to at least three or four times a week. Not to eat obviously, just to check on things. Talk to people.”
“Why haven’t I noticed?”
“Well, lately you’ve been a bit preoccupied and I’ve tried to fit my coming in here around your schedule.”
“That’s so sweet. And before recently?”
“Well, I’ve always gone out a few nights a week.”
“I just assumed those were business dinners or meetings or something.”
“And they were.”
“I guess. So, why do the sports agent thing if you own a restaurant?”
He shrugged. “I’ll be honest, my father had a few businesses here that when I moved here he kind of handed over to me. All legitimate, like this restaurant. I told you, I think he had plans on retiring out here or something.”
“And the house, too? He is a generous man.”
“He can be. I think it’s just his way of saying he cares, or supporting my decision. He wants to be sure I make it, have something to fall back on.”
“What other businesses?”
“Well, there’s a strip club, a couple of them actually. I don’t go to those, that’s my father’s thing. I let the managers deal with running them, I just pay the bills and run interference if something really out of hand goes on.”
“Mm, a car dealership, a nightclub, and a spa or something. One of those get away for the weekend and don’t worry about anything places for women. I’ve never been there.”
“Yes, you interested?”
“Mm, when this is all said and done, I might be. Dawn and I could use a sister’s weekend away.”
“You’ll deserve it, too.”
They both grew quiet after that. They didn’t talk about it much, but Buffy knew he was aware that there might not be an after this. Buffy didn’t think Angel would suggest he needed her help if whatever he imagined going down wasn't of the huge variety.
She couldn’t help but wonder why he was here. What was he doing having dinner with a senator anyway?
“You’re worried about him.”
“Well, yeah,” Buffy said with a shrug.
“Do you trust him?”
“Well, yes, but I trust more that Spike would have let me know if he’d lost his soul. I mean, I told you some of it, what he did. It was pretty bad. And I’m not so sure without the soul he would have just let me go.”
“What do you mean?”
Buffy smiled slightly. “Not like that. I mean, he would have wanted to kill me. It’s the last thing he was trying to do before his soul got restored.”
“Ah. I imagine you’ll find out soon enough.”
“Yes. If she’s got, well, you know, working for her, I’m wondering if she’s not part of whatever it is.”
“Could be. No sense worrying about it tonight, Buffy.”
“You don’t understand. It really goes against everything I know to walk away from here knowing that someone is going to get killed tonight.”
“You don’t know that.”
“You’re right, I don’t, but I’m pretty sure.”
“Well, if you did something you’d probably ruin whatever he was planning.”
“I know.” She twisted the ring on her finger, spinning it around with the pad of her thumb. It was something she did when she was nervous without really thinking about it.
“He’ll be fine, Buffy. It will be fine. I don’t pretend to understand it all, I can’t possibly, but I believe in you. So, if you believe in him I have to, too.”
“You’re welcome. I thought when we’re done here we can pay a visit to that club I mentioned. You said dancing earlier.”
“Yes! That would be just the thing.”
“I thought that might perk you up a bit.”
“You always do that to me.”
“Ditto. Though, I really was serious about that French maid costume.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
“Yeah, yeah, you’re just letting me down easy.”
“Never!” She stood, sliding over to sit next to him. She kissed him, then pressed her cheek against his so she could whisper in his ear. “If you play your cards right you’ll get the costume, some stockings with those seams up the back, a garter, and heels so high you’ll wonder how I walk in them.”
“I’m not sure you’d get much walking done.”
“That’d kind of be the plan.”
He groaned softly and she felt herself get a little aroused just at the thought.
“Need I remind you we’re going to go home to a houseful of women?”
“Mm, they don’t come into our room,” she whispered nibbling on his ear.
“It’s not quite the same.”
“Well, if I whisk you away one evening to a hotel, don’t be surprised then.”
“I’ll try not to be.”
“Will there be anything else, Signor? Signora?”
“We’re good, Angelo, thank you.”
Matty finished his glass of wine and stood from the table.
“I’m going to go say hello in the kitchen.”
“Okay, I’ll use the bathroom then.”
“I’ll meet you out front,” he said giving her a kiss. “And, by the way, we wouldn’t need a hotel room. Anytime, anyplace, babe. I’m not sure I’d even care if someone walked in.”
She grazed his mouth with a fingertip. “Naughty.”
He bit the tip of her finger and then kissed it before releasing it.
“You have no idea what thoughts you plant in my mind sometimes. Keep talking like you just were and I’ll be sure and show you though.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
She was definitely looking forward to dancing now.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com