Take Your Time
Willow paced the floors of her room for over an hour after ensuring that the doors to both the hallway and the balcony were secure. She had even gone so far as to push a chair in front of the French doors that led outside, just in case. The redhead had no misconceptions that it would keep him out if he wanted in, but at least she would hear him coming. The heavy, solid-oak door that led to the hallway was locked tight from the inside, and she felt better knowing that the only way he would be coming through that door was with a battering ram...a very noisy, attention-attracting battering ram.
"How could I be so stupid?" she demanded of herself as she continued pacing. "Traveling all the way out here...nowhere to go...nowhere to hide..."
Willow knew she was being hard on herself. She'd made every effort to ensure her safety before she agreed to this particular poker weekend, just as she had many times before. She knew the host quite well, having played with him on several previous occasions, and she'd even gone so far as to inquire as to the other players. She'd thought she was safe and that she'd thought of everything, but she was wrong. This error was going to be a very costly one, and Willow knew it.
As Willow continued to wear a path in the imported Persian rug, she finally took the time to wonder how this had all come about. Angelus was certainly not surprised to find her at the table, and considering the reinforcements he'd brought with him, as well as the apparent accomplice that had sat in at her table for the first day, it was obvious that it had been planned and planned well. He had gone to a lot of trouble to either get her here or to make sure that she didn't escape him, or both.
Angelus. If the mere idea of Spike confused her, the thought of Angelus was enough to throw her into sheer chaos. Even after all this time and all that had occurred during those long years, Angelus could still effect her. The very knowledge that a man she'd only known for a few short months, and man that would one day be her best friend's lover could have her in such emotional anarchy, made Willow hate her weaknesses where matters of the heart were concerned. How could she let herself fall in love with him, even if she'd never actually admitted it to him? And now that he was this most evil of vampires, a thing to despise and destroy, why was she still confused? <It's Spike's fault,> she told herself. He'd proven to her that soulless vampires were capable of being gentle, caring, and if nothing else, at least friendly.for a short time, anyway. A seed of false hope had been planted, her time with Spike nurturing it along until it established strong roots that couldn't be easily weeded away. Even Spike's treachery had, apparently, not killed it entirely.
<Geesh! Could you be more pathetic, Willow? It was a century ago and that man is dead!> she thought. "Besides, you didn't really love him. It was just a crush," Willow said aloud, trying to convince herself. "A schoolgirl infatuation...just like the one's you had on John Cusack and Mulder from the X-Files!" <Just a childish crush...just a childish crush...> became her new mantra as she paced the floor.
Eventually, the physically and mentally exhausted time traveler collapsed on the bed, still fully clothed. After an hour or so of tossing and turning, she fell into a fitful sleep.
She either had several dreams that night or one very jumbled one--she wasn't quite sure which--all centering on Angelus, of course. She'd remember only tidbits of it upon awakening, although if they were anything like her other ones, Willow would find that if she concentrated hard enough, she could remember them in more detail. However, these were not dreams she'd want to remember. They were nightmares, full of images of angry vampires, blood, and pain.
In the final images before she woke, however, there was little violence, and that made it the most terrifying one of all. She saw herself surrendering to Angelus, in every way possible, and it was the feeling of his entering her, stealing the virginity that she'd guarded for so long, that brought her wide awake with a start.
Willow abruptly sat up in bed, the name 'Angelus' escaping her lips with a strangled cry. She quickly looked down at herself to make sure that she was fully clothed and that it was, in fact, only a dream in which she had been writhing beneath the dark vampire so wantonly, taking pleasure in the feel of his skin against hers, his mouth capturing hers, moving her body in unison with his...
"Ya seem to like sayin' me name, me little flower," a voice came from the direction of the balcony doors. "And from the dream ya seemed to be havin', I'm again flattered."
Even as she reflexively jumped in the opposite direction, Willow's eyes darted toward the sound of the voice. The handsome vampire was lounging comfortably in the large armchair that she'd pushed in front of the apparently still-locked, glass-paneled balcony doors.
"What are you doing here?" the shaken woman asked with an equally trembling voice. "How'd you get in?"
The vampire didn't answer immediately. He seemed busy with a large book that was resting on his lap. Her eyes narrowed, both in anger at his ignoring her questions and in confusion as she tried to figure out what he was doing in the sparsely lit room.
"Get out or I will scream!" she barked, the threat momentarily stopping his intense concentration on the book that balanced upon his legs.
"Scream if ya like, but no one'll hear ya. Yer the only one in this wing, after all." He brought his finger to his mouth in a mocking imitation of deep thought. "As to why I'm here, ya already know the answer to that. As for how.." For an answer he simply held up a large key and smiled smugly. After a brief moment of intense scrutiny that made Willow feel as if she were not only standing before him naked, but also that he had a personal window into her soul, he returned his attention to the book on his lap as if there were nothing odd about him entering a woman's quarters without permission.
Willow fidgeted nervously next to the bed as she tried to figure out what to do. Looking about the room for a weapon, she quickly noted that the fire poker had mysteriously vanished, leaving her only small vases and other decorative ornaments for weapons. At the same time that it dawned on her that she was basically defenseless, Willow finally noticed the soft scratching noise coming from his direction. After a few minutes of this, her curiosity got the better of her. <Curiosity killed the cat!> a tiny voice reminded her. <Well, I'm not a cat!> she quickly reminded herself.
"What are you doing...in my room?" she added demandingly, not wanting it to appear as if he were welcome to stay, yet at the same time craning her neck to try and get a better view.
He ignored her question, but as she finally took a few hesitant steps in his direction, Willow could see his hand quickly gliding over what appeared to be a large sketchbook.
"I wish ya would have stayed asleep fer a while longer. The look on yer face was so beautiful. It was almost as if ya were dead," he said gravely, glancing up at her again for a moment and absorbing her features with hungry eyes before returning to his task.
Willow furrowed her brow even further but still stepped closer.
"Done!" he finally exclaimed triumphantly, causing Willow to step back in alarm as he jumped to his feet. Angelus looked back and forth between the pad and his unwilling subject. "Ya should've been a model in Paris, Rose. Ya could've made a lot of money, bein' an eternally young beauty," he said with only a touch of sarcasm. "Now, do ya want to see it?"
Willow forced her head to shake negatively, even though she did want to see the sketch...very badly in fact. She was finding the vampire's nonchalant and non-threatening demeanor a bit off-putting. As a result, while she was far from relaxed, Willow was not feeling as overwhelmed as she should be.
"No," she added with a squaring of her shoulders as she tried to squash her own curiosity. "All I want is...for you to leave my room...now!"
A small, half-smile settled on his face as he noted the indecision in the tone of her voice and in her every move. "Ya can't lie to me, Rose. Not about this. Even as yer lips say no, yer eyes tell me that ya truly do want to see it."
"No, I don't," she declared more loudly, crossing her arms across her chest and letting her resolve face settle in for the duration. "Now get out!"
Angelus shrugged indifferently. "Tis a shame, as I think it's me best work. But, if ya don't want to see it, I might as well rip it up, then, or throw it in the fire."
As he made a move toward the fireplace, Willow's hand reached out beseechingly as if it had a mind of its own. "Wait!" she cried, trying to pretend as if she didn't notice her face was crimsoning with embarrassment as she spoke. "Don't destroy it. I...I want to see it." Her 'resolve face' was already forgotten.
Angelus turned from the fire with an obviously fake look of bewilderment. "Really? Ya want to see this?" he teased. When his mysterious witch nodded her head, he held out a hand. "Come to me, then," he ordered, the sinister sneer returning to mar his handsome face.
Willow shook her head. "I have perfectly good eyes...well, maybe not as good as yours, but I can see just fine from here!"
Angelus laughed wryly and took slow deliberate paces toward her. "Fine, I will come ta you, then."
As he approached, Willow stood her ground, nervously tucking a piece of hair that had fallen loose behind her ears. Instead of walking straight to her, however, he moved at an angle. Constantly watching her through predacious eyes, he stalked her, even circling once, and Willow found herself unable to look away. Part of her, the part she sometimes wished would just go away, the same part which had flourished during her nights with Spike, couldn't help appreciating the sensually dangerous way he moved. <Damn, Spike!> she cursed silently. <Look at what he did to me. I'm warped for life now!>
Finally, the vampire stopped directly behind the redhead. He eased his arms around either side of Willow, but he didn't pull her back against him. Instead, Angelus just encircled her with his strong arms and held the sketch in front of her.
Willow's breath caught when she looked at the image of her as she slept. The woman the dark demon had drawn was indeed beautiful, hauntingly so, in fact. The artist had skillfully captured her sleepy essence on paper--the tousled halo of her hair, the wisps that fell loose from the pins to rest on her face, even the relaxed musculature of her jaw and cheek that could only come with sleep. Yet, even though the charcoal sketch was of a woman immersed in slumber, Willow could see emotion playing across her face. It was apparent in her slightly opened mouth and the subtle curve at the corners of her lips. Or perhaps it was the way her hand appeared to clutch at the pillow as she slept. All of it came together to form an image of a woman swept up in an unconscious emotional moment. As Willow remembered some of the dreams she'd been having, she realized exactly what Angelus had caught in his rendering, causing her to flush in humiliation.
"Do ya like it?" he murmured against the nape of her neck even as the perfectionist in him smudged one of the charcoal lines of her sketched throat with his thumb, softening it even further.
She did like the drawing but was not going to admit it. Willow could still remember the similar drawings Angelus would one day do of Jenny and Buffy and what those drawings meant...either the beginning of a deadly obsession or the end of a life. Still, she couldn't help being mesmerized by the image before her. Was this how he really saw her? All of her life she'd been waiting for someone to see her like that. Of course, Spike had told her she was beautiful and sexy, but she didn't know what to think of anything he'd said anymore. Oz, too, had told her she was cute and adorable, but this was different. The woman Angelus had drawn was sensual and mysterious. There was nothing 'cute' about her.
"It...it doesn't look a thing like me," Willow retorted before easily leaving the circle of his arms to walk to a nearby bookcase. She needed to focus her attention on something else and found herself staring blankly at the books without noticing the titles.
"I want you to leave...now!" she commanded once she came to her senses.
"It does look like ya, Rose. That's the way I see ya, and from the dream ya were just havin', I'd say that the last thing ya want me to be doin' is leavin', my love," Angelus drawled, setting the picture on a nearby end table.
"Stop calling me that!" Willow huffed as she found her anger again and whirled around to show it to him. "I'm not your love and I never was. As for the dream, I also dreamt that I reduced you to a pile of ashes, so I'm kind of hoping that dreams do come true." She noted with disgust that this only amused him more. "Now leave, before I tell our host that you stole his key...and...and that you are behaving in a most...ungentlemanly-like manner and I have you thrown out!" she commanded, albeit a little halting, while pointing to the door. "With any luck, you'll be thrown out in the middle of the day," she added under her breath without any difficulty whatsoever, but Angelus wasn't going anywhere. He was exactly where he wanted to be--where he'd wanted to be for a long time now.
"You could try, me love," the dark vampire began as he slowly strolled around the room, examining the floral arrangements, vases, and other obvious displays of wealth with distaste. "But unfortunately fer you, as ya probably already have learned, Mr. Simms is a terrible card player. As a result, I long ago won his and his estates services fer just such an occasion. A man who so openly displays his emotions doesn't belong at a card table, let alone breathin', if I'd any say in the matter."
Dismissing his opinion on their host, Willow concentrated on the matter at hand. "What? You mean, you own this manor?" she asked, making sure to stay well away from him as he explored her room.
He didn't bother to look up to answer her questions, choosing instead to focus on an oil still life on the wall next to the bed. "No, although I could, but I much prefer havin' a man of means such as our Mr. Simms indebted ta me. This whole weekend is just a small portion of what he be owin' me," Angelus said, without even trying to hide his displeasure at both Mr. Simms and his taste in art.
Willow's mouth fell open momentarily as she realized the depths of the deception that she was entangled in. "He helped you do this? He helped you lure me out here so I'd be at your mercy?"
The vampire's perfunctory perusal of her suite continued. "I think yer given him a bit more credit than he deserves, Rose. All he knows is that I wanted ta arrange a game, and I picked some of the players, like yerself. He knows not why, nor does he know what I am. He simply knows that I'm not a man to be trifled with. Somethin' ya seem not ta have learned yet," he said darkly, his attention once again fully focused on her.
There was a brief pause as Willow finished assessing the situation. "So, it's to be rape, then?" she spat out suddenly at the vampire that was now closing in on her, deep down wondering if he would even have to take her by force, if her dreams meant anything. <This is not some historical romance novel, Willow!> she rudely reminded herself. <Angelus isn't just some misunderstood pirate that will change his evil ways the moment you sleep with him! He's evil, 100% pure evil, and he's just toying with you...for now...>
Willow's question stopped Angelus in his tracks, and the devilish smile quickly deserted his face to be replaced with a scowl. "I'm not a raper of women. I--"
Willow laughed bitterly at this, interrupting him. "So, I'm supposed to believe that while you have no moral problems with killing or torturing innocent people, that you'd never stoop to taking a woman against her wishes? How noble of you, Angelus. I'm sure your mother would be very proud."
For a moment, the vampire lost his carefully chosen composure as his anger got the best of him. He was not used to a living woman talking so defiantly to him. He closed the distance between them in two lightening-quick strides and pulled her to him.
"If I wanted to rape ya, Rose, I could have done it while ya slept or at any moment since then, and ya wouldn't be able ta stop me!" he growled at her, his face threatening to morph to his true form at any moment.
Willow turned her head away as the vampire yelled at her so that she wouldn't have to see the demon bubbling just below the surface, and so that perhaps he couldn't see just how scared she was at the moment. It brought back too many memories--too many angry faces that lowered to her neck over the years--too many betrayals. It was no longer the physical pain she was afraid of, it was the emotional scars that never seemed to heal completely.
"Any man in this house could take ya against yer wishes, Rose. It doesn't take a demon ta force his will on yer kind nor does it take any kind of thought. A man with the mind of a babe could do that, so why would I?" he asked, a little softer this time as he regained some control.
"Rape isn't challenging enough for you, Angelus? Am I supposed to be grateful that you're a man who enjoys the more intellectual forms of hurting a woman?" Willow challenged, meeting his eyes as she tapped into her calm reserve once more.
Angelus's face slowly broke into a smile. Even though she'd angered him and had dared to defy him, he was thoroughly enjoying himself. Every minute he spent with her proved her to be more of a challenge and worthy of the time and effort he'd put into this whole affair. The demon would've been disappointed if she'd broken down into hysterics at the sight of him.
"Yes," he answered her question with a soft caress of her cheek, "and as you know, I've always loved a challenge, as do you." He finished by turning his finger so that the soft stroke left by its passing became more of a graze with his fingernail. While it was just hard enough to raise the skin, it did not bleed.
Willow slid out of his reach and started away from him, but she was quickly pulled back as he grabbed her hand.
"Tell me what ya are, me little flower," he said firmly as he trapped her in his strong arms. Holding her in such a way that it left no room for doubt that she was the opposite and weaker sex, he peered down at her "That's why I'm here."
"Let me go and I'll tell you," Willow said breathlessly as she struggled to put some distance between their bodies.
"Yer in no position to be demandin' anythin', Rose. Tell me, then I'll let ya go!" he countered coldly.
"No...I...I can't think when..."
"When yer in me arms?" he asked, finishing her sentence.
Instead of continuing the debate, she nodded in agreement.
Slowly and with a very pompous smirk, he released her, and Willow was free from his mind-numbing embrace.
"I don't know where to start," she finally said as she paced in front of the dying fire.
"Are ya a witch?" he asked casually as he strolled over to her bed and made himself comfortable.
"Yes. I--I mean, no! Oh, a long time ago I was learning a few spells but I was never very good, and this whole thing has really put me off spell casting of any sort, believe me!"
He nodded thoughtfully. "And you were able to cast a spell that kept ya young?"
"No," the redhead answered then bit her lip for a moment as she tried to decide how much to tell him. "It was this.vampire. He kidnapped me and then mucked everything up and somehow the result was that as long as the spell is in effect, I don't age."
"What vampire?" he asked, leaning forward a bit as his curiosity about this other vampire that he saw her with in Galway knew no bounds.
Willow shook her head and increased the speed of her pacing. "No, I won't tell you that," she told him adamantly, knowing that he was not going to be pleased. Then a thought struck her, and she quickly added, "He wouldn't like me talking about him. He'd be very unhappy with me." Willow tried to look nervous and frightened as she spoke the words, wanting him to believe that she was truly afraid of the wrath of the other vampire. And to some extent, she was.
Angelus noted the strong emotions that radiated from her when she spoke of the other vampire...fear, anger, confusion.... This other vampire seemed like a demon after his own undead heart.
"Ya will tell me, Rose," he said darkly. "One day...one way or another."
"Well, you'd be disappointed if I willingly told you everything, wouldn't you? Now at least you have a reason to torture me," she said haughtily. Willow was putting up a brave front but her stomach was twisting in knots. She and Spike had spent hours talking about what she'd say if she ever ran into Angelus again, but just being in his presence made her mind jumble. It took all her relaxation techniques and all of her strength not to just curl up in a ball in the corner and cower in fear and confusion. .
Angelus couldn't hide his amusement and had a hearty laugh at her expense. "Trust me, me love, I won't need a reason. Now, go on with yer story."
Willow took a deep breath, hoping that he wouldn't ask specifics until she had more time to reorganize her plan. "Basically I'm stuck here until he ends the spell. I can't be killed, so as a result, I can't be made into a vampire."
"Ya can't die?" he asked skeptically, getting up from the bed and approaching her yet again.
"Apparently not," she said softly, backing away as he came closer.
"Is that how ya escaped me the last time we met, then? Or did this other vampire aid ya?"
"Y--Yes," she stuttered as she came up against the wall behind her. "I mean, I heal faster than normal so I was able to escape on my own."
As he came to stop in front of the woman, effectively trapping her between himself and the wall, he captured her left hand and brought it to his mouth.
"And the wedding ring? Is it just part of the spell?" Angelus asked as he licked at the tender flesh that surrounded the silver band.
Willow nodded her answer wordlessly. <At least he still doesn't realize the ring I'm wearing is his!> Her eyes flickered between their identical silver rings before letting out a small cry as he bit into the skin on the underside of her hand.
Because he was so caught up in the sensations her blood created in him, Angelus didn't even notice as he reverted to his natural demon appearance. The vampire leaned his full weight against her as he suckled at the tiny wounds he'd made, wanting to feel her body tremble with fear in response to the contact with his own. He could feel her heart pounding beneath her soft breasts, and their rapid rise and fall also revealed her emotional havoc.
Willow tried to push him away with her free hand, but it was like trying to move a mountain. All she succeeded in doing was feeling his rippling chest beneath her splayed fingertips. Try as she might, she couldn't keep her eyes from where her hand and the vampire's mouth joined. Spike's words came to her unbidden and suddenly her thoughts turned to chocolate...and she involuntarily licked her lips.
Angelus's opened his eyes, raising them to meet hers at the precise moment her tongue darted out. Her reaction caused him to cease his ministrations momentarily. There was desire there. He definitely saw it this time. What amazed him, though, was not the fact that he could evoke feelings of physical need and lust in her, but that he'd done precisely that while he was in his vampiric visage, feeding from her. Nevertheless, he quickly reverted back to his human form.
Angelus had seduced many women in his long history, but never had he done so in his true form. First he would make them want what they thought he was...just a handsome rogue. Only when it was too late would they wonder in the back of the desired-clouded minds why his skin was so cold or why their love play didn't make him gasp for breath. By then, it was too late. Of course there were women who knew what he was as well, concubines and the like that enjoyed a vampire's kiss, but that was completely different.
"There is so much hunger in ya, me love," he whispered huskily against the wound, his eyes holding hers while he tried to feed the flame that he saw flickering in her eyes. "How is it that a beautiful flower such as yerself has gone so long without being plucked?"
Willow tried to calm herself and extinguish her body's response to the enigmatic vampire. Even as she took the slow deep breaths that refocused her mind and renewed her willpower, the redhead found it hard to make herself pull away from him. Slowly, she found her tongue and spoke the words that would break the spell that seemed to have entranced them both.
"If you're referring to my virginity, it's because of the spell."
Angelus had to force his mind to focus even as his very demon screamed for more of her exotic blood. Needless to say, though, this revelation intrigued him as new routes of exquisite torture came to mind.
"Do ya mean to tell me that besides remainin' a beautiful young lass, ya will also remain a virgin due to the healin' powers of the spell?"
Willow wrinkled her brow as she tried to follow his thought process. Finally it dawned on her. He thought that her virginity kept restoring itself. "Oh...*Oh*! No! It doesn't have anything to do with the healing process. It's a requirement of the spell. If I were to...um....lose my virtue...the spell would be ruined."
Angelus couldn't hide his disappointment as his plans to steal her maidenhood countless times turned to ashes. "So, then, what would happen if ya were to be...deflowered?" he asked a little distractedly. At the same moment, he'd noted that the small wounds he'd made on her finger had already stopped bleeding. He'd never seen such quick healing in the living before and it fascinated him.
Having had enough, Willow utilized his seeming preoccupation with the latest developments to escape his hold. She skittered quickly to the other side of the room where she stopped to stare out the windows into the starlit night. Willow felt a wrenching inside as her thoughts were dragged once again into the past to a conversation she'd had with Spike one day.
She remembered how Spike had woken her that morning, trailing tiny nibbles down the curve at the back of her knee. At that point, they'd only been together for a few days and nights, and each time she had awakened from dreams similar to the lustier one she'd had tonight, except they revolved around Spike instead of Angelus.
She had sighed contentedly, signaling to Spike that she was awake "I think I need to leave," she'd told him suddenly, instantly regretting the way the words sounded. Spike had ceased his sensual pampering of her sensitive flesh to climb back up to the head of the bed and roll her in such a way that she lay on top of him.
"What did you say?" he'd demanded. "Why do you want to leave? Bloody hell, you just got here, Pet. Not to mention the fact that we finally learned to put our mouths to some other use than yelling at each other," he'd added with a devilish grin before pulling her head down to his. He'd plundered her mouth hungrily and Willow had allowed herself to be drawn into the fog of passion that Spike was so easily able to create, not that she'd put up much of a fight.
It had been hours later before Willow was rational enough to concentrate, but she hadn't known how to bring up the subject again.
"Why do you want to leave?" he'd finally asked, raising himself up on one elbow to study her face and caress her still-flushed skin at the same time.
"I don't. I'm just afraid that one of these times we're going to get carried away, and, well..."
That was a good question. They had never really discussed what would happen if she were to completely give into her body's needs. Willow'd propped herself up on an elbow so that they were facing each other, like two naked bookends.
"Spike, what would happen...if...well...you know...what would happen to the spell."
Spike pursed his lips. "Crikey, I don't know, love. I just always assumed we would be stuck here, but that you would become mortal again. I suppose it's possible that we'd suddenly find ourselves back in Sunnyhell as well, like nothing had ever happened."
Willow had nodded her head thoughtfully, then suddenly poked him the chest with an excited finger. "Or...it may be like in that movie ...um, what was it called..." she'd asked herself aloud as she worried her lip with her teeth. "...oh, Lost Horizon I think it was! In the movie, there was this lost civilization and the people who lived there never aged...Then one day, these strangers, adventurers, discovered it. Anyway, to make a long story short--"
"That'd be a first for you, Red...making a story short," Spike had teased, his hand once again moving over the curve of her hip.
Willow had smacked him playfully on his chest before continuing. "...as I was saying, of course, one of the local women and one of the adventurers fall in love. So when the adventurer decides to leave--"
"Why the bloody hell would the poof do a daft thing like that? He was in paradise. He was basically immortal, had a woman to keep him warm at night, and he left? What a wanker!" Spike had scoffed. "Humans can be so stupid sometimes."
"I don't know why he had to leave, he just did. Now, shush and listen! The woman went with him and when she left the confines of their city, she began to age rapidly...very rapidly. In a matter of minutes she was an old woman, and soon he had nothing in his arms but a pile of dust and bones. All the years that she'd avoided aging because of some magical force caught up with her all at once. It was very sad...."
Spike had ceased his smiling and teasing, even his cool fingers had stopped their playful torment. He'd moved away and laid on his back, staring at the ceiling. He'd clenched his jaw over and over again as he considered what she said before turning back to look into her beautiful face. "So, what you're saying is, if you were to shag me, or anyone for that matter, you could suddenly become over a 100 years old?"
Willow had nodded, then it hit had her what it really meant. It was possible that if she were to have sex that it would kill her. The realization had been like a slap of cold water, and she'd quickly clutched the sheet and pulled it up to her chin before rolling over. Spike had slid up behind her and pulled her back against him, cupping a breast with his hand, not in need, but just because it seemed to belong there.
"Willow, don't worry. I can control myself. You have to trust me," he'd murmured against the nape of her neck, swirling his tongue just beneath her hairline before kissing it gently.
Willow had nodded slightly and sighed, then closed her eyes. She'd had no dreams that night as she slept secure and safe in Spike's arms.