****Dedicated to everyone who gave me such encouraging feedback on the last part...you know who you are.

Take Your Time ~ 28 ~

Spike watched her sleep for hours, only getting out of bed to stoke the fire when the flames began to give way to dying embers.  It was a chilly night, and he knew that sleeping next to a vampire could take some getting used to temperature-wise, so he'd started the small blaze soon after Willow had succumbed to sleep.  But that was hours ago, and he was getting impatient.  The vampire shifted a few times in the bed, purposely trying to rouse her, but she didn't budge.  Next he tried clearing his throat at various volume levels, but that also failed to stir the woman that was sleeping soundly next to him.

"Guess I took a little too much blood if I was hoping for seconds," he grumbled to himself.  He wanted her to wake up.  It may have only been a few hours ago that they were wantonly discovering each other's bodies, but it already seemed like an eternity had passed.  Admittedly, part of him was apprehensive of her reaction.  He doubted that sleeping with a demon was on her list of things to do during her school holidays.  Yet she seemed so different now that he figured there wouldn't be a problem.  <Besides,> he reminded himself, <she kissed you, mate!>  A wicked smile curled at his lips as he relived the night in his mind, and he almost didn't notice when Willow finally stirred, shifting in her sleep to face away from him.

"Finally..." he rumbled in anticipation, moving to spoon in behind her.  Spike lazily ran his hand along the curve of her bare hip and was rewarded with a sleepy sigh.  He brushed her hair to the side and drew his tongue along the nape of her neck, trying to pull her out of dreamland.

He knew the moment she awoke because every muscle in her body tensed.  "Morning, Red," he murmured against her shoulder blade.

When she didn't answer, Spike moved his mouth closer to her ear, flicking a tongue out to taste the lobe.  "I think we're all done playing hard to get now, love.  I know you're awake...heart beat increased, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera..."

Then he felt it.  She was shaking, and not from the cool morning air, either.  She was crying.

<Oh bloody hell...I should've known...>  "Willow?"  Spike rose up on his elbow, trying to peer over her shoulder.

Willow's hands moved to cover her face, and she curled into a fetal position.  "Oh God...what have I done?  Oh God...Oh God...Oh God..." she cried into her hands, jerking her body away from the vampire.

Spike pulled back as his touch only seemed to upset her more.  "What the bloody hell are you crying about, Red?" he demanded.

Willow wailed a little louder.  "How could you?" she gasped between sobs.  "I was...I...had too much to drink and you knew that!  How could you?"

Spike bolted upright in bed.  "Hold on a bloody second, Pet!  We may have put back a few drops of wine last night, but you were far from drunk!" he informed her bare back.  "Don't make me remind you who did the kissing?  If anyone should be sobbing their heart out right now it should be me!  Well, if I had one, that is..."

Willow shook her head violently but kept her face hidden between her hands and the pillow.  "No!  You knew I was drunk...Oh God...Oh God...I slept with a demon!  I'll never, ever be able to wear white when I get married now...and what am I going to tell Oz?  I am *so* going to hell for this...Oh God..."

"You're behaving like a bloody child, Willow!"  Spike'd had enough of her immature behavior and was ready to beat some sense into her--or kiss some sense into her--whatever it took.  He grabbed his lover by the back of the shoulders and yanked her to him, shifting so that she was pinned beneath him.

"Now quit your blubbering and look at me!" he demanded, grabbing her hands to try and pry them away from her face.

Willow struggled with all her might, trying to get out from beneath the vampire without removing the hands that hid her face. Unfortunately, Spike was stronger than her and easily pinned her wrists next to her head...revealing her huge grin.

"Gotcha!" she said smugly, lifting her head from the mattress to plant a firm kiss on his bewildered lips.

The blonde vampire tore his mouth away to stare down at Willow's smiling face in disbelief.

"I told you one day I'd get you when you'd least expected it, Spike," Willow gloated, beaming in triumph.  "Okay, so maybe it took a century, but if you could see the look on your face..."  Willow couldn't stop herself from laughing, and she didn't even try.

Spike wanted to be furious with her, but her expression quickly evaporated all of his anger.  Willow was laughing, really laughing--the genuine kind that came from deep inside, perhaps from her soul itself--not a polite chuckle or an embarrassed giggle that was forced from the throat.  He could see it in her eyes as they glimmered brightly with the simple joy of being alive.  He hadn't seen her like this in a very long time.  He wondered if he ever had.

The vampire couldn't stop the smile that crept on to his face.  Her apparent happiness was contagious.

"Now, that wasn't very nice, love, was it?"

Willow offered only a mild struggle against his hold on her, and she lifted her head again for a quick nibble on his jaw.

"I can't believe how gullible you are, Spike," she murmured against his skin.  "Or that you really thought I would fall apart after a night with you."

Spike's eyes half-closed in pleasure as she scraped her teeth over the scar.  "I've never been so bloody relieved to be wrong in my whole life, Red."

Willow lay back down to look at him for a moment.  "To be honest, I actually woke up a little earlier than you realized," she started innocently.  "I was waiting to see what your reaction was going to be.  I, well, I half-expected you to be long gone, but then I heard your bad attempt at a fake cough, and all your mumbling, and, well, I couldn't help myself."

Spike almost looked hurt...almost.  "You thought it was going to be 'wham, bam thank you, ma'am'?"

"Well, I was thinking more along the lines of 'grope, bite, let's do this again sometime next century, Red'."

Spike slowly slid their clasped hands from next to her head to further up the bed.  At the same time, bringing his face closer to hers.

"You're going to have trouble getting rid of me now, Willow."

Willow had to bite her lip to keep from smiling.  "Really?"

"Of course," he teased, taking over the biting of her lower lip.  "This place is a damn sight better than mine," he went on, now focusing his attention on her collarbone.  "You must have a few servants running around to keep it up.  A bloke like me could get used to having a maid around to tidy up after him.  Vampires weren't meant to wash their own clothes, you know.  That's what we have minions for."

Willow's head arched back into the pillows, and she wriggled beneath him, trying unsuccessfully to free herself from his grip so she could touch him.

"Is that the only reason you want to stay?  So you can kiss your pesky ring-around-the collar problems good-bye?" Willow asked coyly, having to satisfy herself with running her bare foot up the back of his calf.

Spike tried to ignore the sensation of her naked flesh teasing his, but it wasn't easy.  "That's not the only reason, Red," Spike replied with a sultry smile before dipping his head to nibble beneath her ear.  "I've never been very good at getting blood stains out of my clothes either."

"Well, if that was the only reason you wanted to stay," she said calmly, playing along, "you might as well go now.  I've no live-in servants.  Of course, if you want to save some money, you're free to move into the room across the hall and have your own bed...if that's what you want.  It hardly gets any sun at all."

At her words, Spike looked up from her neck to stare into her fiery eyes.  "I'll take that room across the hall and my own bed," he told her flatly.  Seeing the disappointment in her eyes that he was hoping for, he continued huskily, "but you'll be in it.  It's where you belong."

Before Willow could form a word, the vampire released her wrists and rolled on to his side, taking her with him.  He grasped her face softly between his hands and kissed her, chastely at first, as if he were afraid she would shatter under his touch, then letting it peak slowly until Willow was sure that her toes were curling.

When she pulled away to refill her lungs, he began playing with her auburn tresses.  He just couldn't seem to stop touching her.

"I can't believe how much time we've wasted when we could've been doing this for the last 100 years," Spike groaned softly, seemingly mesmerized by the feel of her soft hair between his fingers.

"I don't think so, Spike," Willow replied when she'd caught her breath.  She slid a leg intimately between his and smiled at the moan she received in return.  "I think I needed the full century before I could face sleeping with the devil."

"I'm not the devil, love, but flattery will get you everywhere."  Spike's ravenous eyes slowly raked over her body, his hands and mouth following more slowly.

Willow sighed in contentment.  They were in no hurry and happy to battle with words while they languidly discovered each other's bodies, like they had all the time in the world.

"Well, I still feel it's a bloody shame..." he murmured against her breast a little while later.

Willow smirked.  "No, it's much better this way.  Otherwise, you know what would happen..."

Reluctantly, Spike ceased his mouth's ministrations to her sensitive flesh, sensing another one of Willow's 'discussions' coming up.  He moved up to lie next to her on the pillow.

"No, but I have a feeling you're going to tell me whether I want to hear it or not."

"It's inevitable," she teased.  "You'd fall madly in love with me, and then I'd have to share you with Drusilla, and I'm not good at the whole chick-fighting thing, so--"

Spike silenced her with a punishing kiss.  "Let's do each other a little favor, shall we?" he growled as he slid a knee between her legs, parting them.  "If you won't mention Dru, I won't mention Jo-Jo the dog-faced boy, all right?"

"Spike..." she answered in a warning tone, "his name is Oz."  An evil glint appeared in his eyes that caused an aching in her belly.

"Whatever, Red.  Do we have a deal?"

"Yes...deal..." she moaned, and thoughts of making Spike pay for insulting Oz quickly fluttered away at the sensation of his cool hand moving down to her thigh.

Spike's teasing was relentless, both verbally and physically.  "Now, don't you wish we had been doing this instead of arguing all this time?"

"Yesss...." she hissed.  However, one nagging thought wouldn't let her surrender herself to pleasure.  Not yet, anyway.  "Wait... no...I mean 'no', Spike," she stated firmly.

Spike drew his eyebrows together in irritated confusion, unconsciously clenching his jaw and pursing his lips at the same time.  "And why not?"

Seeing her favorite expression on the blonde vampire, Willow almost forgot about what she was going to say, wanting instead to kiss every tightened muscle in his beautiful face.  But this had to be said, and better sooner than later.

Willow took a deep breath and let it out slowly before she spoke.  "Because I couldn't have done this..." she said, indicating them and the bed, "before...not without being in love."

Spike didn't move, waiting for the inevitable Willow-speak to follow where she would try to babble her way out of the words she'd just uttered, usually only embarrassing herself further.  It never came.

As she saw his confusion give way to her least favorite expression--that of complete, unreadable blankness--Willow shook her head.  "Why are you looking at me like that, Spike?  I'm not in love with you."  She paused, looking for a reaction in him, but he didn't even blink.  "And you're not in love with me either," she continued matter of factly.

Spike pulled back a little further to see if she was playing some sort of mind game, but he saw no deceit in her eyes, only desire.  He thought for a moment.  "No.  I'm not."  It was his turn to pause and look for the inevitable hurt in her eyes, but it wasn't there.

"You still love, Drusilla." Thinking that she was about to be scolded for mentioning the vampiress's name, Willow hurried on.  "Now, I know you don't want me to talk about her, and I promise I won't once I finish what I have to say.  I mean, she's why we're here, after all--because your love for Drusilla is so strong that you would break heaven and earth to have her back, and also because my love for my friends is so strong that I agreed, sort of, to this insane plan."

Spike felt a pang of guilt at the mention of his Dark Goddess's name, and he had trouble pushing it away like he had so many times before.  "Willow, I--"

Willow noticed his pain as well.  "Shhh..." she murmured before silencing him with a soft kiss.  "I know you still love her, Spike.  I'd be disappointed in you if you didn't.  It's really very romantic...in a bizarre, hellmouthy sorta way."  Her smile faded as she caressed the scar she'd given him.  "But, I want you to know that I would do anything for you.  You're as important to me now as Buffy or Xander...even Oz," she added softly.  "I'll do whatever it takes to get Drusilla back for you, whether that means sucking more stakes out of your back or hiding in this house for the next hundred years.  Believe it or not, for some stupid reason, more than anything, I want you to be happy."

In a move so fast that it left Willow dizzy, Spike flipped her over, straddling her hips.  "Drusilla's my future, Willow.  You and I have five more years before she even moves to London, let alone is turned.  I don't plan on wasting them the way I have the last century.  Right now, all I bloody well want is you, my wife."

Spike's eyes burned into Willow's, sparking a fire that they both doubted would die out in five years.  They found themselves at a loss for words.

Eventually, Spike broke the spell.  "Well, Red, since we both agree that we won't be giving each other little bloody candies that say 'I heart you' next February 14th, are we done talking?"

"Geez Spike," Willow giggled, "if I didn't know you better, I'd think you were disappointed that I haven't fallen in love with you.  Maybe you were hoping I'd mope over you until the day I die?" she teased.

The sinister smile that enveloped Spike's lips as they hovered above hers, made Willow giddy with desire.  Before she gave herself over to it, she heard him say, "Until the day you die, and then some, Red."


This time, Willow watched Spike sleep for an hour or so before feeling the need to be alone.  She pulled on her nightgown and quickly padded down the stairs.  After starting a small fire in the parlor, she picked up her guitar and softly strummed it.  Willow had a nagging need to lose herself in her music for a while because no matter how strong and mature she wanted Spike to think she was, it was still a little overwhelming to be sharing a bed with him after all of those years.  She had fought her desire for him for so long, that in some ways she was disappointed with herself.  It wasn't that she felt guilty for betraying Oz because one hundred years was a very long time to try and stay faithful to someone that there was no guarantee you'd ever see again.  She missed Oz, as well as her other friends and family, but she couldn't put herself on hold forever.  She only hoped when she saw them again, that they would all understand and things would quickly get back to normal.  Obviously, her sleeping with Spike was only going to make things harder in the long run.  However, when she remembered the feel of his mouth on her body and the sensations his hands had evoked in her that she didn't even know existed, she didn't care how difficult it would get later on down the road.  Willow wanted to feel this way for the next five years and would deal with the aftermath when the time came.  Besides, she'd spoken the truth.  She didn't love him, not in the romantic sense anyway, but she did love being with him.  In spite of everything, he made her happy, and she hoped that in some strange way she made him happy too.

Lost in her thoughts, her fingers had begun a song on their own.  Sometime later, Willow was actually surprised to realize what song she'd been absentmindedly strumming.  She hadn't played it in years, maybe even decades, but she could still remember the first time she'd heard it.

The sky had been so clear that night, the stars that hung above her had twinkled so brightly that she'd felt as if she could reach up and pluck them like apples.  Willow had lain on her back for hours, watching them, when she'd noticed that the music around her had changed.  The rapid rhythms and laughing voices had quieted down as soulful melodies filled the air.  The music had been so powerful and moving that tears had been streaming down her face, even though she didn't understand the words.  That night she'd promised herself that one-day she'd play that song.

Willow smiled softly to herself, quietly humming the folk song, even though she now knew how to speak its language fluently.  Maybe she couldn't play the intricate song as well as her teachers did that night as they sat around the fire, sipping their wine, but Willow knew she wasn't half bad.


When the vampire had awakened to an empty bed, he immediately thought that his Willow was up to another one of her tricks.  His lips curved into a smile.  Spike loved to play games, and Willow just seemed to be full of surprises.  Then he heard the soft strains of music wafting up the stairs from below, and he was even more puzzled.  Spike pulled on his trousers and crept down the stairs to investigate.  His rarely used-breath caught in his throat when he saw her.  His lover's bare feet were up on the sofa, and her hair was strewn about her shoulders in a way that only partially hid his newest marks.  Willow's delicate hands that, only a few hours ago were giving him such pleasure, were now holding a guitar in a similarly intimate manner.  He watched for a while, fascinated by the melancholy sounds she was creating.  Finally he reached a point where his body wouldn't allow him to remain at such a distance from her any longer.

"I take it all back, Red.  You're definitely a woman of mystery."

Willow looked up from her music to see him lounging in the archway, and the sight of him half-dressed and sleep-rumpled made her heart race.

"I hope I didn't wake you," she said honestly.

Shaking his head no, Spike sauntered toward the red-haired musician.  As he went to sit beside her on the deep golden velvet sofa, he took note of the room.  One wall was all bookcases, filled to overflowing with texts of various sizes.  An enormous writing desk that was partially obscured by scattered papers occupied a nearby corner, and much to his surprise, in the opposite corner was a rare commodity for that time--a piano.  The remainder of the space was filled with a couple of reading chairs, lamps, the usual, but all obviously expensive and of magnificent quality.  <How the bloody hell did she come by this place?  That piano alone must be worth a king's ransom...>

After taking a seat, Spike leaned back against the arm of the sofa, opposite from Willow.

"Now, are you finally going to tell me what you've been up to?" he asked, bringing his bare feet up on the luxurious material and sliding them between hers.

Fighting a sudden odd urge to play footsie with the notorious vampire, Willow grinned sheepishly.  "Well, you told me to get a hobby, and this is it.  I've always wanted to learn how to play, but I never had enough time, until now.  Plus, I figure it'll give me something in common with Oz when I get back."

His eyes narrowed at the mention of Oz's name.  "I'd been thinking more along the lines of needlepoint when I suggested it, love," he said a little more coolly than he intended.  "How'd you learn to play so well?"

"Oh, some very talented and patient teachers and a lot of spare time."

Spike considered her words for a moment.  It was obvious that she still wasn't ready to tell him everything, but that was okay.  He'd have five years to find out the truth, and he looked forward to trying various means of extracting it from his newly enigmatic companion.

"Can you at least tell me what that sad song you were playing is about?"

Willow looked at him, biting her lip playfully.  "Well, I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you."

Spike laughed in spite of himself.  "Since I'm already dead, love, there shouldn't be anything stopping you for telling me everything you know."

"Well, the lyrics are in a different language, but basically it's a tale of a boy and girl who are best friends, but are torn away from each other because of feuding families.  Years later, they see each other again, but both are to be wed to others, and they're now sworn enemies."

Spike snickered.  "Sounds like a load of romantic tripe to me, love.  Let me guess," he said, leaning over to take the guitar out of her arms.  "There's a horrible fight of some sort, and their partners-to-be die tragically."  He strummed an awkward chord, causing him to purse his lips in frustration.  "Am I right so far?" he asked without looking up from the strings.

Willow smiled.  She didn't know he even played the guitar.  "Yes, that's about the gist of it so far."

The vampire managed a couple of chords, trying to familiarize himself with the instrument that he hadn't touched since the 1980's.

"And then," he said, producing a few minor chords for drama, "the star-crossed lovers find each other again, solve all the world's problems by showing the families how very terribly wrong killing is, and then they make beautiful love as the sun sets in the west..."

The redhead took her guitar back, and played a few sad strains while she spoke.  "Not exactly.  There *is* a war and their new loves *do* die, but the two old friends hold each other responsible for their lovers' deaths.  They blame each other and never get over it, vowing that they never want to see the other again.  Years later, she dies of a broken heart, and he kills himself."

Spike's eyes widened in surprise.  "Nice story," he snorted.  They were silent for a moment while Willow finished the last few strains, then Spike spoke up again.  "But I bet they meet again in another life, or something equally nauseating, and live happily ever after!" he announced triumphantly.

Willow simply shook her head. "Nope.  They both just die.  End of story."

Spike grunted in surprise and looked around the room again.  "Well, that's pretty bloody depressing, Red, so why don't you cheer me up and tell me how you managed to get this massive roof over our head?"

"I'm just renting it...house-sitting, really.  The owners apparently have several homes all across Europe and won't need this one for a while.  You should've seen the solicitor's face when I asked if I could pay for the whole year up front, and that I'd likely need it for five years all together!"

"Surprised you didn't give him a heart attack.  Even now the lawyers are bloody money-hungry sods, and they call vampires blood suckers!" Spike snickered, causing Willow to roll her eyes once again at his bad pun.  "But, how can you afford it?"

Willow smiled mischievously.  "Let's just say I was very frugal during our years apart.  I even managed to make a little money as well,. Actually, I still have a considerable amount of the money that you *loaned* me left."

"More secrets?"  Spike slid closer, took the guitar out of her arms, and placed it carefully on the floor before lifting her onto his lap.  "What about men, my wife?  Did you fancy any of those Italians?" he whispered against her cheek as his hand caressed her thigh.

Willow shuddered beneath his touch and struggled to concentrate on the right words.  "No.  I--I thought about it a couple of times, but it just wouldn't work.  Some guys tried, but I just couldn't get involved.  I figured I have enough men in my life already...Oz, Xander, even Angelus in a bizarre way...and you."

"But only one that matters right now, love," he reminded her, barely brushing his lips across hers.  Spike found himself strangely relieved to know that she hadn't been with any other men since her last abrupt departure.

Willow touched his cheek with a shaky hand.  "What about you, Spike?"

For a moment he vacillated between telling her the truth or lying, but he decided on the truth.  In the long run, it would be easier.  "I can't say I've been quite as well behaved," he began casually.  "There were a few women, but not many--mostly other vampires that I knew weren't connected to Angelus in anyway.  Sometimes for a night, sometimes for a week.  I staked the stupidest ones and just walked away from the others.  I'd forgotten how incredibly dull and simple the average vampire is...especially the women since they aren't usually chosen for their brains."

While he was talking, Willow moved one finger slowly over his chest.  "Spike, you don't have to explain.  You're a male and you're a demon.  The two hardly add up to a life of chastity, do they?"

Spike shook his head slowly in amazement at the women in his arms.  "So you lived here in this huge house, all alone, having had no male contact until last night?"

"I wouldn't quite say that.  Remember, I haven't been in this house for long, and besides, I'm not all alone..."  She whimpered as Spike began licking at the fading remains of the puncture wounds he'd left on her throat.  "A lady comes in three times a week to help with the...house...food...and--"

Spike cut her off with a searing kiss, letting her know that in his opinion they had talked enough.  He had other things in mind for how they were to wile away the morning hours.  With a low growl, Spike stood with her in his arms, intending take her back upstairs.

"Uh, Willow?" he asked, almost as an afterthought, "when exactly does your help come in?"

She found it difficult to think clearly since all she had on her mind was getting her hands on his naked body.  "Um, three days a week...Mondays, Wednesdays, and..."

Just then, the front door opened, and a large, middle-aged woman came bustling in.

"...Fridays," Willow ended despairingly.

At the sight of her employer in the arms of a half-naked man, the older woman screamed in surprise and dropped her umbrella and bag.  "Oh, beggin' yer pardon, Mum," she said as she began to flush bright red.  "Please, Mum, I'm ever so sorry.  I'd no idea that you were, well...Oh, please, lady, I beg yer pardon," she stammered, forcing her gaze to the floor.

Willow sighed and rolled her eyes in frustration at Spike, who was not only enjoying the older woman's distress and Willow's embarrassment, but had yet to set her down.

"Spike, please, put me down," she whispered in his ear.

He reluctantly placed her on her feet, but not without pinching her bottom as he did so.

Willow shot him a dirty look before turning her attention to their flustered guest.  "Mrs. Andrews, um, it's okay, really.  This is just my, er...brother--"

"Cousin," Spike interjected at the same time, not that he thought the servant would buy it for a second.

The older English woman looked up from the floor to cast a skeptical eye on the couple.  "Of course, Mum.  'Tis no business of mine, anyway."

Willow felt like smacking the smirk off of Spike's face, or licking it off, she couldn't quite decide.  "Mrs. Andrews, this is William.  He's a dear old friend of mine--"

"Very old," Spike added, unable to help himself.

"I've known him almost my whole life," she continued.

"And then some!" he joked, dodging the elbow that Willow thrust in his direction.

Willow hung her head for a second in defeat, then took a deep breath.  "He's my lover, Mrs. Andrews," she stated firmly, surprising the vampire next to her.  Willow looked up at him as she finished.  "And I think he'll probably be staying here, with me, for a while."  It was more of a question than a statement, and Spike's eyes flashed a hungry amber in answer.

"Beggin' yer pardon, Mum," the maid said, trying to hide the blush in her cheeks at the young people's frank display of desire.  "But ya don't need to go explainin' yerself to me.  Yer a young widow, out of yer period of mourning.  You've already known enough loss in yer short life, and I'm not one who believes that a woman necessarily needs to be wearin' a gentleman's wedding ring before he can make her happy."

It was Willow's turn to be shocked.  "Thank you, Mrs. Andrews.  I appreciate your understanding and decorum in this matter."

"No need to be thankin' me, childe," she said brightly.  "Life's short.  We must find our happiness wherever it lies.  Me third husband taught me that," she added with a wink.

Spike scooped the redhead back into his arms, causing Willow to shriek in delight.  "Well, now that we have Mary Poppins' approval, let's get back to where we were..."

Willow giggled in spite of herself as Spike nipped her quickly on the neck.  He swept past the woman on his way to the staircase, but the redhead tapped on his shoulder, asking him to wait.

"Mrs. Poppins...I mean, Mrs. Andrews...why don't you take the day off, with pay, and I'll see you on Monday," she offered over Spike's naked shoulder.  She desperately wanted to have a little taste of his enticing skin but behaved.

The woman smiled knowingly and grabbed her umbrella and carpetbag.  "Thank you, Mum.  You have a good day, too, Mum.  Oh, and Sir?"

Spike turned to look at her in surprise while still cradling Willow close in his arms.

"If ya don't mind me askin', would ya try and get her to eat a little sumthin'.  She looks even paler than usual today, Sir."

Willow held her breath, waiting for some smart-ass comment from the vampire, but he surprised her yet again.

"Thank you for your concern, Mrs. Andrews.  I'll see to it that we are both well fed in your absence," he informed her in all seriousness.  Spike then turned and continued carrying Willow back up the steps.

"Good-bye, Mrs. Andrews," Willow offered unabashedly over Spike's shoulder, unable to keep the smile from her face.

"Good day, Mum," the woman returned with a wistful smile and a small curtsy--even though Willow had told her weeks before that there was no need for such formality.  She left, closing and locking the door behind her.

"Spike," Willow whispered against his lips when she heard the door close behind the woman, "you mentioned something last night about having a few creative ways of giving us what we need?"

"I think I recall something like that," Spike said as he kicked the bedroom door closed behind him.

"Show me all of them, Spike."

In response, the vampire tossed her on to the enormous bed, pausing at the foot of it to watch her with lust-laden eyes.  Finally, just when Willow thought she would have to look away in embarrassment, he began crawling slowly up the length of her bed.

Willow watched him move with a sensual cat-like grace, the muscles in his arms and chest rippling with each deliberate movement.  She held her breath when he reached her legs and paused in his predatorial approach to run an appreciative hand up her silky calf.  She couldn't tear her eyes away from his face.  Willow was fascinated as his jaw clenched in a concerted effort to maintain his control as his gaze traveled along her bare skin.

As his hand moved higher, pushing the nightgown over her knees and sliding it smoothly up her thighs, she saw something in his face. She wasn't sure if she'd seen it before, but it was definitely there--under the desire, under the tough-guy exterior.  Maybe she'd never noticed it because he simply wasn't capable of it earlier, but it was obvious to her now.  Spike was actually happy--not just putting up with her to simply pass time--but genuinely happy, and she'd made him that way.  The realization that she could make a man--and a vampire, no less--that content, multiplied her need to touch and please him.  And while his lean body may have hovered only inches above her, the way Willow was feeling, it might as well have been the Grand Canyon that separated them.

His voice was as dangerous as his eyes when he spoke.  "You want me to show you all of them?" he finally asked.  "Well, that should keep us busy for the first two years, Red, but after that, we might have to start repeating ourselves."  An anticipatory grin slowly formed on his face.

"Only two years?" she sighed as she wrapped her arms and legs about him, pulling him down to her.  "Then obviously you haven't done enough research."

End Chapter 28