"Angel....this is Buffy! Call me back NOW!"
She slammed the receiver down onto the phone's
cradle, then threw herself onto her bed and
stared at the ceiling. Fifteen minutes later, she reached
for the phone again and hit redial.
"I want to talk to you about what happened with
Melanie tonight. Call...me...now!"
Once again, she set the phone down noisily, but
instead of laying stretched out on the bed and
stewing in an angry haze, she undressed and took
a quick shower. After drying off and donning her
nightgown, she waited another five minutes for
good measure and picked up the phone.
"I'm warning you, Angel....you call me back now
or I will personally engrave your initials all the way
down to the primer on that shiny new toy of yours!"
She put the phone down. Predictably, it rang twenty
"Very funny, Buffy. Look...before you come all un-
glued and start bitching a blue streak, I'm sorry
that I had to leave, but there WAS a reason for it."
"There's always a reason with you, Angel," she
snapped. "It's always something. Melanie could
never count on you for anything, but tonight?...to-
night was a personal low, even for you."
"Goddamn it, Buffy....I didn't have a choice. It wasn't
something I planned." He stopped and sighed. "Look,
it's about what I was going to tell you tonight. My news?
"Go on." Her voice dripped ice.
"I'm in the running for a job as head of in-house
counsel for Chase International."
She was legitimately surprised. "Chase International?
The finance company?"
It was difficult to exude smugness over the phone, but
Angel managed it. "Damn right. But that's just ONE of the
pies they have their fingers in," he said. "Banking, insurance,
property management, software, even the pharmaceutical
industry. They're the parent corporation of four different
Fortune 500 companies."
Buffy listened to all this with mixed emotions. Although
it mattered nothing to her where her ex-husband parked
his briefcase every morning, this job he was angling for
sounded like the kind of thing that could eat up every
scrap of free time a person had. He barely ever saw
Melanie as it was. If he accepted this new position, the
next time his daughter might see him would most likely
be at her high school graduation.
But following right on the heels of THAT troubling
thought came another one....a tantalizing one.
**Who cares? Let him drift out of our lives. Melanie
doesn't need him. Not anymore. Not now that she
When her heart began pounding in her chest at
a highly accelerated pace, she shook her head,
slightly afraid to let the idea take root and flourish.
William had said nothing of permanence, nothing
that hinted at the possibility of a lifetime commit-
ment. There were too many 'what ifs' at this point,
the biggest one being 'what if it just doesn't work
But he loved Melanie. There was not a bit of doubt
in her mind about that, and should they go their
separate ways for any reason, Buffy knew he would
never push her little girl out of his life.
It was the only certainty she could cling to at the
"You still there?"
Angel's voice brought her out of her contemplation of
the future and back to the here and now.
"Yeah, of course." Her eyes fell upon the silver
picture frame on her bedside table. It was an 8x10
of Melanie's kindergarten picture, and the only
reason she was smiling so brightly was due to the
fact that Buffy had been standing there when it was
taken. "Since when do Fortune 500 companies con-
duct job interviews at this time of night?"
"It was more of a social thing," he told her. "Sort of
thing you can't really get out of, you know?"
She'd heard THAT excuse before. Frequently, in
fact. "It's good to know your priorities stay con-
sistent, Angel. I swear, I would die of shock if you
EVER once put Melanie's welfare before yours, so
save my life and don't ever change!"
"Oh, for Christ's sake, Buffy. Why do you always
have to be so..."
"You know what?" She cut him off before he
could finish the sentence. "I don't care. I really
don't. Work where you want...go where you please.
It doesn't matter to me. But don't you ever pull a
stunt like that again or I will make sure everyone
knows just exactly what kind of man you REALLY
are. Chase International will drop you like a hot
rock before I'm through with you."
She'd had enough. "Angel, if you can't start behaving
like some kind of father to your child then just get the
hell out of our lives....and I'll find someone who will."
He said something in reply, but Buffy was already
hanging up the phone and didn't catch it.
"So, tell me, babe....any fall out after the evil-bitch-
Buffy glanced into the back seat to see if Melanie was
still asleep before she answered. The Lexus ate up
the miles between Sunnydale and Anaheim as smoothly
as glass, and her daughter had dropped off ten minutes
into the ride.
"A little," she said quietly. "I talked to Angel and
basically threatened him with damage of
something VERY important to him."
"His balls?" William asked, smiling at her.
That made him laugh a little. "That's my girl,"
he murmured approvingly. "Christ, that woman
was annoying. I really hate people like that."
"Me, too." She looked at him. "Like what?"
"The know it all type. The ones who have an
opinion about everything under the sun...even
things they've never even heard of...and think
THEIR opinion is the right opinion, simply
BECAUSE it's their opinion." He grinned. "Got
"Got it all," she nodded. They rode in a
companionable silence for a few minutes, then
she asked, "Where are your dogs spending the
He flicked the turn indicator and moved on to
the exit ramp. "I took them to my parent's house
last night. They love them. Their cat?" He shook
his head. "Not so much."
"What kind of cat?"
"Siamese. Big blue eyes and a nasty disposition.
Every time the dogs are there, she heads for the top
shelf of a bookcase and spends all her time glaring
at them as if she wished they'd drop dead."
It had already been dark when he'd picked them
up. Now, as he drove into the bright lights of a city
street teeming with neon signs, making idle
conversation, Buffy discovered something she hadn't
"What's this?" she asked, playfully ruffling his
short, unruly curls.
He knew what she meant. "Filming's over for a
while. Time to go 'natural' and give it a rest."
His hair was a tousled mop of light brown with
blond tips. She absolutely loved it. "Looks good."
"Glad you like it, sweetheart."
God, that sounded good. Another huge check in
her mental 'plus' column was his fondness for
using such terms of endearment...sweetheart, love,
baby...they all gave her a pleasant little shiver every
time he used one of them.
"Well, I like it the other way, too," she said.
He sighed. "You and everyone else. I really didn't
want to have it like that, but I was just coming off
a theater group production when I auditioned for
the show and the 'powers that be' decided they
liked it bleached."
"But surely they can't force you."
"Oh, YES they can. It's in my contract...no major
changes of appearance without the consent of the
producers...it applies to facial hair, visible tattoos,
body piercings and..." He pointed at his head. "this."
"I like it, too," a little voice came from the back
William looked into the rear view and saw
Melanie rubbing her eyes, staring out the window
in fascination at all the people wandering up and
down the streets, going into and out of motel
rooms and coffee shops, most of them loaded
down with brightly colored shopping bags bearing
a distinctive 'D' on the front.
"Look who's awake," he said, turning the car into
the circular drive of the Disneyland Hotel. "And
just in time."
"Are we here?" Melanie asked, her eyes becoming
"We're here, Pixie." William tossed his keys to a
valet and took Melanie out of the car, then carried
her over on to the sidewalk where all three watched
a bellman pile their bags onto a brass cart.
Once inside the doors of the hotel, Melanie squirmed
to be set on her feet. She took Buffy's hand and dragged
her over every inch of the lobby, examining the decor
and correctly naming every one of the different Disney
cartoon characters on display in the wall hangings.
The heels of her red patent leather shoes clacked
on the marble floors, and in one far corner of the vast
lobby there was a brass band playing some vaguely
recognizable ragtime tune.
Melanie bounced around, more excited than Buffy
had seen her since the fateful visit to the Outpost Space
convention that had changed their lives so radically.
She gazed briefly in the windows of several gift shops,
announcing the fact that her personal favorite was the
one named after Cinderella.
As they prowled the lobby, William got them checked
in with smooth efficiency, then led them to an elevator
that carried them up nearly to the very top floor.
Once inside the suite he had reserved, Melanie flew
across the room to stare out the window. "The castle,
Mommy! I see the castle!"
Buffy gazed around the room, noting everything; the
beautiful blond oak furnishings, the immense balcony
and stunning view, the entertainment center with it's
32 inch screen television, cable hook up, and what looked
to her like a video game set up.
The suite consisted of a large living room, with sofas
and armchairs, small tables, and a bar/kitchenette off to
one far side. There were two open doors that led into the
bedrooms, and she could see that both of them included
two double beds.
A light knock sounded at the door, and William admitted
the bellman. After setting out their luggage, he took them on
a quick tour of the suite... pointing out the various amen-
ities...then instructed them to please call if there was anything
at all they required that was not already at their fingertips.
"All right, then," William said, closing the door on the exiting
bellhop, "do we unpack....or go have some dinner first?"
Melanie was back at the balcony window, her little nose
pressed against the glass. "There's a pool!" she informed
them, "a really very big one."
William picked up a small brochure and flipped through
it. "That's the...Neverland Pool. Neverland....where've I
heard that before?"
"Peter Pan lives there," Melanie said.
He snapped his fingers in a show of sudden memory. "That's
it." He grinned at Buffy. "Smart little thing, isn't she?"
Buffy returned his smile, leaning against the wall next to
her daughter. "She knows her Disney backwards and
"I can see that." He picked Melanie up. "So, do we
unpack," he asked her, "or do we eat?"
After another quick debate between ordering room
service or going to one of the restaurants, Buffy took
Melanie into the bathroom to supervise hand washing
and hair combing, then rejoined William, who was
waiting for them at the door.
He'd looked over the map of the hotel and it's grounds,
he explained, and had located a restaurant on the first
floor that catered to young children.
It turned out to be a lively and pleasantly noisy little
place, decorated in splashy neon colors and boasting
two buffets...one specializing in the sorts of foods that
appealed to the younger crowd, such as chicken nuggets
pressed into the shape of the 'Mickey Mouse' logo, hot
dogs, hamburgers, french fries, small individual pizzas,
macaroni and cheese, corn on the cob, and jello.
The other buffet was designed with the adults in
mind and consisted of the more standard fare that most
preferred. At one end was a chef slicing huge portions of
roast beef and ham upon request. There were several
different kinds of pasta, elegantly prepared salads,
herb roasted chicken and poached salmon, among other
But what made the restaurant truly special wasn't
the food or the atmosphere. Much to Melanie's wide
eyed amazement, there were several Disney charac-
ters circulating the room, stopping at tables to speak
to the children or pantomime...whichever their
particular costume allowed for.
Her habitual shyness was practically non-existent. She
had grown up with these characters from the time she
was a toddler, and knew them as well as she knew her
'Pluto' had her giggling when he gave her a good
sniffing and then knelt at her feet, begging for a nice
long scratch behind his ears and thumping one foot
rapidly as she relieved his pretend itching.
A stunningly pretty girl decked out in 'Snow White'
regalia stopped at their table. In a sweetly musical
voice, she asked Melanie if she was enjoying her
dinner and chatted with her a bit. Before she moved
on to another table, she added that she hoped Melanie
and her mommy and daddy would have a wonderful
time in the park.
Not one of them sitting there corrected the girl's
assumption that they were the most nuclear of
families, each with their own reasons....
William, because he enjoyed being thought
of as Melanie's father.
Buffy, because it seemed so wonderfully normal
And Melanie....because she wanted it so badly.
After dinner, they explored the grounds of the
hotel for a while.
When Melanie began showing signs of a need to
rest and recharge, William once again picked her
up and carried her. With her arms wrapped around
his neck, and her head on his shoulder, she promptly
fell asleep and stayed that way until they reached
Buffy helped her sleepy daughter into her pajamas,
then took her into the bathroom for face washing and
teeth brushing. She was tucked into bed and kissed
goodnight, and when Buffy switched off the lamp, her
eyes grew as round as silver dollars.
Golden sparkles and stars twinkled all along the tops
of the walls, spread there by 'Tinkerbell', hovering in
one corner and waving her wand.
"Wow," Buffy said, sounding suitably awe-struck. "That
must be pixie dust, I guess. What do you think?"
"I think so, too."
It was a lovely effect in the darkened room, giving off
just the right amount of a golden glow.
"Pixie dust for the pixie." William leaned over and
stole another kiss goodnight. "For the queen of the
"That's me!" Melanie giggled.
"Is she asleep?"
Buffy sighed and nodded, sitting down on the end
of the couch William was stretched out on. "Like a
hibernating bear. Not surprising, since she barely
slept at all last night and it's an hour past her bed-
"What about you?"
She looked at him, shaking her head slowly. "It's
nowhere near MY bedtime."
"So you're not tired, then?"
"Not really, no."
"Well...," He beckoned to her with one crooked
finger. "Why don't you come here and prove it to
Buffy hesitated, glancing at the closed door behind
which her daughter was sleeping. "I don't know."
"It's....no, we shouldn't."
"Yes, we should."
It was shocking how quickly this man could
dismantle her defenses. "It's not a good idea,"
she persisted...or tried to.
"It's a VERY good idea."
"Melanie's right there....just a few yards...away."
He sat up and began to crawl slowly towards
her. "Melanie...the one who sleeps like a hiber-
This little game they were playing was more fun
than actual sex with Angel had EVER been.
She squeezed herself into the corner of the
couch, pointing a scolding finger. "Back!"
He smiled. "Don't want to."
"Well, do it anyway."
Buffy was having a difficult time maintaining
control of herself. She was just as eager for inti-
macy as he seemed to be.
Contrary to their original plan, they hadn't been able
to enjoy any 'alone time' together all week. Anya had
been out with the flu,doubling the amount of time
Buffy stayed in the shop, while William had been stuck
on the set for 12 to 15 hours a day, leaving them both
too exhausted to do anything other than collapse when
they returned to their respective homes.
"Come on, Buffy," he murmured teasingly. "We
don't have to DO anything big. Let's just...fool around
a little bit."
He was practically on top of her, and she had to
straight arm him to keep him off. "If we do THAT
then you won't want to stop."
"Neither will you," he said softly. "I'll make sure
That was precisely what she was afraid of.
She was close to caving in. He could see it, and he
"Baby, come on," he coaxed her. "Just part your
legs and let me lay between them. We don't even
have to take anything off....I'll still make you come."
"You...wha...really?" She was folding faster than
a house of cards....and it was all his fault. Her arms
trembled and gave out, allowing him to fall forward
on top of her.
"Gotcha!" he whispered, wedging her thighs apart
and sinking down between them.
Yes. Yes, he did. He had her, and there was no going
back at this point.
He reached up and switched the lamp off, casting the
room into pitch darkness, helped by the heavily lined
drapes that kept out the effect of approximately eight
His hand moved down, gliding along her right thigh,
lifting it until it was bent at the knee and pressing
against the back of the couch. Her left foot, she placed
on the floor.
"Ahhh, that's it," he groaned, leaning down to nuzzle
and bite her ear lobe. "That's my good girl."
She could feel the heat coming off of him, right through
the layers of his jeans and her skirt. Her hands, who
seemed to be acting on their own behalf, cupped them-
selves over his rear and squeezed.
His entire body jerked, and he pushed down hard,
expertly finding the right spot to apply pressure. His hips
moved rhythmically down and up, grinding in a little
Propping himself on one hand, he used the other one to
push her blouse and bra out of his way. She ground the
back of her head into the sofa cushion as he covered
her breasts with hard, sucking kisses.
They were both too aroused for it to last very long,
and only the fact that his mouth covered hers at the
last minute kept them quiet when they climaxed
Panting in Buffy's tender embrace, William turned his
head and nuzzled the side of her neck.
"Definitely going to need a change of pants, now," he
She could relate!