Paying for It
Lilah looked up. Lindsey's latest project stood in the open office door. "This is interesting," Darla announced as she wandered in, pushed the door closed with her foot and then walked over to the floor to ceiling windows where she leaned and looked out at the city.
"Darla, right?" Lilah asked, her smile plastic as she pushed her chair back and smiled. Her expression faltered when she caught the look in Darla's eye. For a second, the woman stood and considered Lilah with all the care one might lavish on a well-prepared meal. It was not exactly difficult to imagine her as a vampire, at least it wouldn't be if she hadn't chosen to stand in a spill of sunlight.
"Feigning ignorance is useful, but never overplay your hand." Darla's smirk carried just a touch of malice in the matronly concern. Lilah twitched an eyebrow. Well this truly was interesting. She stood and moved to the front of her desk and leaned back against the edge. "So, you're Lindsey's new grand plan. Interesting."
Darla's smile turned wicked. "I'm all sorts of interesting," she agreed. Lilah shifted, suddenly suspecting that they were playing a game that had nothing to do with Lindsey.
"Are you?" She considered the woman leaning against the glass with the sunlight sliding through her hair, giving her a ghostly halo. The irony of that amused Lilah.
Darla turned around and gave Lilah a smile full of sly confidence. The vampire Darla had once been still shifted inside, ready to burst out through Darla's new-found humanity. It was exciting.
"So, you're Lindsey's new plan to take Angel down." Lilah looked the woman up and down. Darla looked so normal on the surface, cute even. She was exactly the sort of woman Lilah normally didn't notice, but then she moved, and every gesture had a sharpness to it that drew Lilah's attention.
Rather than retreating from Lilah's aggressive gaze, she twitched her body invitingly. "I'm not anyone's plan," Darla corrected her with the amusement of a parent redirecting a child who had made a particularly entertaining mistake. Lilah twitched her eyebrow again. "Men make their little plans and schemes, but we know who must truly take control of any situation. Yes?"
"Do I assume you mean women?"
"I mean certain kinds of women. Women who understand that the one leading the charge is inevitably going to be the first cut down on the battlefield, and power behind the throne is always the real power. Men don't understand that. Nature was unfair to them, she gave them a need to charge into the line of fire so needlessly."
Lilah raised both eyebrows. While she was not surprised at some form of sexism coming out of a creature who was nearly four hundred years old, she hadn't expected Darla to be quite so open about it. "Perhaps you only know men who make bad choices. Liam wasn't, after all, the most educated or worldly man when you chose him as your childe," Lilah pointed out.
Darla's smile transformed her face, erasing all the hard edges and making her look young and so very unexpectedly happy. "That is one reason I chose my dear boy. He never had illusions, at least not before that ridiculous soul. However, can you tell me one man in this building who does not charge into every situation as though his manhood was in jeopardy every single time he's given the opportunity?"
Lilah shrugged. Darla certainly had her on that one. From Holland down to Lindsey all the way to the lowest accountant on the first floor, they were all constantly scrambling for the top. Of course, she was right there with them. Since she took pride in having a clear view of both herself and others, she had to admit that, although she would only be admitting it in the privacy of her own thoughts.
"Is there something you needed?" Lilah asked, suddenly uncomfortable with the entire conversation.
"I miss Drusilla. She was never my first choice. I would have chosen someone with more..." Darla waved a hand to dismiss the whole idea. "Men are useful, but as bed partners, they always leave something to be desired."
"You're propositioning me?" Lilah could hear the disbelief in her own voice.
"I could simply take what I wanted." Darla moved toward Lilah, her body arched and moving closer with predatory steps.
"You are no longer a vampire," Lilah felt a need to point out. A woman six inches shorter, thirty pounds lighter, and blonde was not exactly a threat. When Lilah opened her mouth to point that out, Darla moved in, her thumb catching Lilah in the soft gap between the ear and the neck. Lilah cried out, and tried to yank her head away, but she was already up against her desk, and Darla kicked at one of her feet so that Lilah's ankle turned and her foot fell off her high-heeled shoe. By the time Lilah had gathered up her thoughts, she was standing with her legs spread as far as her skirt allowed, Darla's body pressing into hers and Darla's knee forcing her legs to stay spread.
With one hand, Darla stroked Lilah's cheek. "You missed the point. Strength does not have to show its face until you want to use it." Lilah reached up and pushed Darla off, but she had the uncomfortable feeling Darla allowed herself to be pushed back.
Darla tilted her head and let one hand slide over her own body until she grabbed her crotch. "It's not nearly enough. Does it excite you that I know so many ways to bend a human body to my will, so many little spots that can make a woman cry out in pain or pleasure... or both?"
Lilah retreated behind her desk, her fingers twitching toward the panic button hidden on the underside, but a little part of her was excited, excited and interested in just how far Darla would take this game.
"You work for Lindsey. He's not going to appreciate you being in here."
Her mouth twisting in amusement, Darla looked Lilah up and down. "I can handle Lindsey."
"Oh, I'm sure you can. I understand you have a lot of experience handling men."
Darla just smiled wider. "Come right out and call me a whore. I was one proudly enough. In my time, you were either controlled by men or you charged them money, and I always knew which side of that fence I preferred. Have you been inside these cold walls with these narrow-minded men so long that you can only make such crude attacks? You question my taste in men, my past as a whore, my strength... these are such crude pastimes."
"How should I attack you?" Lilah asked. She backed away as Darla came around the desk toward her. This was ridiculous. Darla was a small woman, harmless. She wasn't the centuries-old vampire who had terrorized Europe, and yet Lilah couldn't prevent her stomach from tingling with fear and excitement, like the power Darla had once held still lingered.
"Find what I love, and turn it back on me," Darla answered without guile. "Find out what I fear and make it come true in the smallest possible quantities so that I live in dread of being overwhelmed. Find out what I hate about myself and make me see it in a mirror. Men can be crude. They have the power, but if you want to be more than their whore, you have to use a little more cunning."
"So, you're giving me advice out of a sense of sisterhood?" Lilah didn't disguise her disbelief.
Darla laughed. "I'm giving you advice because I want to fuck you, and services should always be paid for, in full. There's nothing a whore hates more than a bedpartner who does not know how to pay."
Lilah realized with horror and a small thrill of excitement that Darla had herded her toward the couch. Certainly, this is not where she had intended to retreat. But then she was probably being ridiculous, fleeing from a human Darla.
"I'm calling Lindsey," Lilah announced as she reversed direction and headed for her desk. Darla didn't comment, but Lilah had not gotten more than one step before Darla struck out, catching her at the base of the neck. Lilah fell back, feeling like she was choking and grabbing her throat. Before she could recover, Darla caught her by the arm, put a thumb into her elbow and pulled hard. Lilah cried out and fell.
Gasping, she landed on the couch with Darla on top of her. She'd fallen in an awkward tangle of limbs and Darla's knee was lodged painfully into her inner thigh. With a hiss, Lilah tried to shift away from the pain, and Darla grinned wickedly and twisted so that Lilah cried out again.
"Power is never just about strength," Darla whispered. Lilah looked up, and only then did her brain register the pressure at her elbow. Darla still had a firm hold on her, and her fingers were starting to tingle from the lack of blood. "Power is in the way you can shift the smallest weight and watch the world rearrange itself to your will." Darla moved, and Lilah sucked in a breath. "Excited?"
Lilah opened her mouth to argue that point, but Darla used her free hand to slip up Lilah's skirt. Nimble fingers pushed aside her panties and slipped deep inside. Now pleasure was added to the mixture of excitement and confusion and pain. "Before you answer, consider this: if you tell me to stop, I just might."
Darla pushed her fingers deeper, and Lilah gasped and grabbed Darla's shoulder with the one hand she still had free. Throwing her head back, she squirmed as Darla pressed into her clit, and then Darla's weight was on her, Darla's teeth catching her by the soft of her neck.
"Fuck." Lilah gasped the word out like a prayer, her fingers clutching at Darla's shirt.
Darla chuckled, the vibration traveling through Lilah, jangling her nerves and leaving her body aching for more. "This isn't about you want sweet girl... well, not only what you want." Darla took Lilah's captured arm and moved it down between her legs.
Lilah swallowed. She had only indirectly participated in this up to his point, but if she took this active of a role, she could hardly claim to have clean hands if Lindsey found out. Then again, screw Lindsey. Lilah smiled and pulled down the zipper of Darla's pants, seeking inside for the hot and damp depths she knew she would find.
Her fingers had no more reached into Darla when Darla ground herself down on Lilah's hand. Lilah hissed with pain. "That hurts," she complained.
"And?" Darla smiled down at her and arched her back, grinding down again. Now she started riding Lilah's fingers. The small bones and tendons of Lilah's wrist ached, and Lilah opened her mouth to complain again only to have Darla grab her by her hair and pull her closer for a brutal kiss. The heat of their bodies mingled, and Darla rode her hard, moaning into Lilah's mouth.
A small twist allowed Lilah to move her thumb up where she could press it into Darla's clit, rubbing as hard as she could. Darla arched her back and screamed, her face flush and her body riding Lilah harder than ever. The expression mesmerized Lilah. This was pleasure. This was pure pleasure, and Darla was taking it from her, sharing it with her, paying her for it. It was a twisted sort of exchange, and Lilah's own body demanded her attention.
Lilah reached down between her own legs, and Darla captured her free arm so that Lilah was totally pinned, one hand still caught between Darla's legs and the other now pressed against the back of the couch, Darla's thumb painfully pressing into the wrist. "If you're a good girl, you'll get rewarded later, and if you're a bad one, I'll find something even better," Darla promised, never stopping her undulating. Lilah continued to press her thumb into Darla's clit feeling the pressure on her fingers increase as Darla's body tightened. Darla's face twisted into one of pain and ecstasy and need.
The moment of climax came with another shout of pleasure. Lilah's own body ached to join Darla, but she couldn't. She was trapped. Pinned. Darla rode her for her own pleasure, and Lilah could only wait and count her aches and hope for some sort of reprieve later. For several seconds, Darla continued to ride Lilah's hand. The pain in her wrist was sharp now, stabbing up her arm, but Darla didn't stop until her own waves of pleasure had slowly ebbed. And then she lay on Lilah, still trapping her as she panted.
"There is something about a woman," Darla murmured, stretching lazily and riding Lilah's hand more slowly. The pain wasn't as bad, but in some twisted way, the pain of her arm kept Lilah on the knife's edge of desire.
"I don't suppose you'd like to return the favor," Lilah suggested. Her body was screaming for release.
"I could. I choose not to, but I could. I think I want to just lay here and feel your trapped and writhing body beneath mine. It gives me pleasure, and after all, this is about my pleasure," Darla said with such stunning and unexpected honesty that Lilah could only blink. That was not the answer she'd expected.
"And to answer your question from earlier, yes, Lindsey does think I can bring my sweet Angel back into the fold. I doubt he suspects that I have just as much control over him, but I'll let him figure that out when I want him to." Darla's voice sounded as lazy as her thrusts felt against Lilah's body. The office was suddenly far too warm for comfort.
"So, you're playing Lindsey?" Lilah found that entirely too amusing, and somehow, she didn't doubt that Darla could do exactly that.
"Men are so easily played. They wear their hates and their loves and their fears like badges of honor."
"Lindsey does love to hate Angel," Lilah agreed. Darla shifted so that her knee pressed up into Lilah's clit, and the pressure nearly pushed Lilah over into her own orgasm. Unfortunately, it didn't, and she was trapped by Darla and her own body which now screamed for that last thrust into its own mindless pleasure.
"Men." Darla said the word with fond derision, and then her body stilled so Lilah was denied even that stimulation. She squirmed, testing to see whether Darla would allow her to finish herself off now, but Darla just moved her knee from Lilah's crotch to her inner thigh. The pressure wasn't painful, but it was a clear warning that Lilah did not have permission to move.
"Men," Darla stated, "have no understanding of hot and cold hate. You see, a woman has cold hate for the whores her husband uses. She will coldly calculate ways to keep her husband home and just as coldly fantasize about their deaths. There is no ground for other emotions to take root. But hot hate... oh, a moral man feels hot hatred for whores. He sees them, and in his heart he feels the stirrings—the need. He knows how close he is to lust or love or whatever label his heart gives that heat that moves him. So he turns that fear and that seed of doubt into hatred. But it’s a hot hate that can blossom into so many things." Darla leaned down and tasted the side of Lilah's neck. Lilah turned her head and allowed Darla to run dull teeth over fragile human skin. "He loves to hate Angel, and he hates to love him. And as long as Lindsey has that love in his heart, he is mine to do with what I like. I am his connection to Angel. I am his last hope."
Darla sat up and smiled as she finally released Lilah's arms. "So, I do hope I have paid adequately for your very considerable services," Darla said, the formal tone completely undone by her flushed face and wrinkled clothes and the expression on her face. She looked like she'd been well-fucked, and Lilah found a perverse sort of pride in that. "As I said, a whore learns to hate those who don't properly pay."
Darla stood and turned to straightening her shirt and tucking them back into her pants. Lilah started to do the same, and Darla made an unhappy noise and stepped threateningly close. "No," she said sharply. "I want to see you like this... your composure and grace stripped from you as easily as your power." Lilah froze, watching as Darla finally put herself back together and backed up toward the office door. With one final searching stare, Darla turned and left.
Lilah lay sprawled on the couch, caught between wanting to slip her fingers between her legs and wanting to wallow in the exquisite denial. In the end, she pulled her skirt down, her engorged clit ignored as she mulled over more interesting thoughts. Lindsey desired Angel. Honestly, Lilah should have seen that. He loved to hate him and he hated to love him, and that was a lever that Lilah could manipulate. Oh yes, Darla had certainly paid in full and in more than one currency. Lilah's fingers curled in her lap and she stared out the window, her body tightly strung and singing from Darla's touch.