The Kitten, the Witches and the Bad Wardrobe - Willow & Tara Forever

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 Post subject: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2017 3:51 pm 
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4. Extra Flamey
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We are calling this: The Food Fight Challenge! (but you can title your story whatever)

Basic rules: Write a story containing the challenge requirements and obeying the board rules. It is super-important to follow board rules. Mods hate having to delete things because they know how much effort writers put into their work. If you think your story might be breaking a rule, but aren’t sure… PLEASE PM a moderator (like Laragh, for instance) and ask. We don’t want any stories cut!
Post your story in this thread by the end of the day (extended date!----->) July 31st (end of the day counts as 11:59pm PT). The story may be any length that fits in a single post. You may submit as many entries as you like!

Challenge Requirements:

1. A Food Fight must break out at some point

2. Something signed (object, picture, book… whatever…; does not have to be a celebrity autograph)

3. Must include: Strawberries

4. Must include: Scientific Measurements (any sort of measurement in a scientific way or purpose)

5. Must use EITHER (or both) of the following quotes:
a. “I still have a picture of your hair.”
b. “Hey Girl!”

These elements were, in part, inspired by a recent Kitten outing to go get books signed by Amber Benson. If you are not friends with any of us on Facebook or in The Kisses and Gay Love Facebook Group, you might not have seen this.

Image

If that doesn't inspire you, I don't know what will. So posting begins June, get with it.

After our poll last month, it turns out that “sweet, sweet, prizes” are not needed as writing incentives… so we’ve ditched them for the foreseeable future. Your sweet prize is having written a kick-ass fic!

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Last edited by dtburanek on Wed Jun 28, 2017 11:21 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: June Challenge Preview!
PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2017 11:18 pm 
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Aww! :heart (I have to remember to look at Facebook more.) Very happy to see another challenge, and as it happens I've got an idea in mind - not, this time, something I was working on anyway, this one came about entirely because of pondering the challenge requirements. Off to write...

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 Post subject: Sunday Sundae
PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2017 12:55 pm 
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Challenge Requirements:
1. A Food Fight must break out at some point
2. Something signed (object, picture, book… whatever…; does not have to be a celebrity autograph)
3. Must include: Strawberries
4. Must include: Scientific Measurements (any sort of measurement in a scientific way or purpose)
5. Must use EITHER (or both) of the following quotes:
a. “I still have a picture of your hair.”
b. “Hey Girl!”

Author: Ashley Riegel (Darkwillow6)
Title: Sunday Sundae
Rating: NC-17 (as usual)
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters.

"Honey? Can you come here?" Tara yelled from the kitchen.

Willow bounded joyfully down the stairs at the sound of her wife's melodic voice. She loved Sunday afternoons with her beautiful goddess. Her wide grin quickly grew into a look of surprise as she noticed the array of seemingly random items littering the granite countertops. After perusing the various items from left to right, she made eye contact with Tara who was waiting patiently for her to meet her gaze.

"Do you want some ice cream?" Tara asked finally.

"I uh... I don't see any ice cream," Willow replied again reviewing what was before her, searching.

"That, my love, is because we are going to make some," replied Tara, full of excitement, bouncing on the balls of her feet.

Willow came around the other side of the counter, picking up a carton of strawberries as she approached Tara.

"Okay. This could be fun," she said hesitantly. "I mean, you know how I am with making anything food related so..."

"Hey, girl. It's okay. We'll do it together. I'll give you the easy stuff," Tara said as she readied some Ziploc bags.

"Hey girl? That's very butch of you," Willow laughed. "What are those for?" she asked, indicating the bags.

"You're going to have to massage the ingredients until they start to feel more like ice cream than liquid."

"Like this?" Willow asked, grabbing hold of Tara's rear end and massaging gently.

Tara let go of the bags and lightly gripped Willow's wrists, effectively removing questing hands.

"Don't get distracted," Tara said, trying to sound serious, but allowing a small smile to show.

"Okay fine. But you better save me one of those for dessert," Willow pouted, indicating a frosty can of Reddi Whip.

"Yes. The whipped cream will go on the ice cream," Tara said laughing.

"That's not what I meant," Willow replied with a smirk.

"Just hold this," Tara replied, shaking her head and handing Willow the pint sized Ziploc bag. "I'm going to start putting the ingredients in there."

She reached for the white sugar and meticulously measured out two tablespoons and dumped it into the bag. Then she carefully poured half and half into a one cup measuring cup up to the very top.

"Don't spill it," Willow teased.

"If I do it will be your fault for putting it out in the universe," Tara said, shuffling toward the open bag and adding it to the mix.

Then, she free poured a little vanilla extract into the mix, and noticed the redhead's eye twitch almost imperceptibly.

"You trust me, don't you?" Tara asked.

"I didn't say anything," Willow replied, her voice a little higher than usual.

"You didn't have to," Tara replied softly, smiling at Willow as she placed the cap back on the vanilla.

Then, she took the bag from Willow and carefully got out as much air as she could before tightly sealing it. For good measure, she turned it upside down over the sink inspecting the seal for any leaks. When she was satisfied, she grabbed the dish towel and walked back to where Willow was standing.

"Okay. Now fill the gallon Ziploc with ice halfway and then put some rock salt in there."

"Yes ma'am," Willow replied, following the instructions.

When she finished, Tara put the pint bag into the gallon bag of ice and sealed it. She then wrapped the dish towel around it and handed the entire package to Willow.

"Now you're going to shake and massage it for 15 minutes. If your arms get tired just give it to me and I'll take over."

"That's it?" Willow asked incredulously. "What about all this other stuff?"

"Toppings, my love," Tara replied.

Willow began shaking the bag somewhat vigorously at first but then slowed down after a few minutes. When her arms were barely moving at all, Tara took the bag from her and resumed the shaking. Willow couldn't help but notice that with the movement Tara's breasts threatened to jiggle right out of the white tank top that barely contained them. She just stared, enjoying the show as an oblivious Tara started to slow her motions. She set the bag down on the counter.

"Okay. Let's see if it's ready," she said, opening the gallon bag and pulling out the smaller one.

She gently squeezed the smaller bag with both hands and felt that it was pretty firm. It seemed to be the perfect thickness to eat. Willow, noting Tara's approving expression, got the spoons and the two black bowls that were sitting on the end of the counter. Tara opened the bag and took a spoon from Willow. She then scooped even amounts of ice cream into each bowl.

"Here you go," she said, handing Willow one of the bowls. "Go nuts."

Willow eagerly took her bowl and headed straight to the caramel and chocolate sauces, layering them on top of her ice cream. Then, she added sprinkles, M&Ms, whipped cream, and three strawberries on top. Tara watched in amusement and then followed with her own combination of toppings. Then, they sat down next to each other and Willow picked up a spoonful, holding it to her nose. Tara observed her curiously.

"What's wrong," she asked.

"It smells funny," Willow replied, taking another sniff.

Then, she shrugged and took a bite. Tara, wondering what could be the source of whatever Willow was smelling, held up her own spoonful up to her nose, gingerly taking a sniff.

"I don't smell any-" Tara began as Willow bumped the spoon to Tara's nose, effectively covering it in ice cream, whipped cream, and a few colorful sprinkles. Tara's eyes narrowed and she turned her head slowly to regard the redhead who was laughing to the point that she had to gasp for air when she finally stopped. Her eyes were tearing and Tara's stern look made her laughter resurge.

"I can't believe you fell for that," she said between gasps.

Her laugher was quickly halted when Tara flung a spoonful of the frozen concoction onto her exposed neck. She then wiped her nose with a napkin and continued eating her ice cream, satisfied that they were now even. Willow, not willing to be outdone, covertly grabbed the can of Reddi Whip. While Tara was busy scooping up a strawberry with her spoon, Willow pushed down the nozzle and covered the blonde's arm with whipped cream.

"Willow!" Tara yelled, and threw a strawberry at her.

Willow put her hands up to deflect the airborne fruit, but was hit on the side. After a quick recovery, she reached into her bowl with her hand and scooped out some of the mostly melted ice cream, and launched it at Tara. It landed on the exposed part of Tara's left breast. With that, sprinkles, ice cream, chocolate sauce and strawberries flew indiscriminately through the air until they were both covered in a sticky mess. Finally, Willow rushed toward Tara and held her arms. Both were standing now, careful not to slip on the various toppings on the floor.

"Okay, okay, okay!" Willow yelled, laughing.

With Tara's hand restrained, Willow was able to effectively clean the whipped cream from Tara's breast with her tongue.

"Do you really think I'm going to have sex with you after you pelted me with various food items and messed up the kitchen?" Tara asked.

"I mean, all you have to do is tell me to stop," Willow nearly whispered, noticing a blob of chocolate sauce oozing down Tara's neck.

She licked it from the bottom up until the Tara's neck was clean except for the small trail of saliva it left behind. Tara shivered. Noting that Tara had now been convinced, Willow slowly released her grip on Tara's arms and then stole a kiss from her stunned lover. Tasting the chocolate on Willow's lips, Tara pulled her close and kissed her more deeply. She wrapped her arms around Willow's waist and felt something sticky. She pulled her hand away and saw a smear of ice cream on it.

"How did you get ice cream on your back?" Tara asked in disbelief.

Willow simply removed her grey t-shirt as a reply and tossed it to the ground. She then did the same with Tara's stained tank top. Suddenly, playtime was over and there was a greater sense of urgency as Willow pushed Tara back against the counter. She started to trail kisses down the blonde's neck. Tara threw her head back and allowed Willow to do whatever she wanted. She then felt Willow's fingers quickly unfastening her bra and quickly removing the obstruction. As their lips rejoined, Willow thrust her right hand into Tara's pants, circumventing the underwear and began to move her fingers in a circular motion causing Tara to gasp and pull her closer.

With her left hand she grabbed one of the mostly melted ice cubes from the bag on the counter and touched it to Tara's collarbone causing another more urgent gasp. As soon as it touched her skin, rivulets of water began dripping down Tara's chest and continued down her stomach. Without removing the cube from Tara, she slid it downward and circled her nipple with it. Tara then let out an audible groan as the skin wrinkled and the point stiffened. Willow then popped the ice cube into her mouth and sucked on it for a few seconds before discarding it on the counter. She then attempted to coax the same reaction from Tara's other nipple with her icy tongue.

Besides hearing Tara's moans of pleasure, she also felt the heightened arousal from where her other hand had been continuing its task. The wetness came flooding from Tara with every new sensation. However, her motions were restricted due to the clothing that still remained so she paused all contact with Tara's body, earning a grunt of frustration.

"Please, don't stop."

Willow kissed her for reassurance and unbuttoned her pants, sliding them off along with the saturated panties. She crouched down to pull them all the way off as Tara stepped out of them. Then, instead of standing back up, she transitioned into a comfortable kneeling position so that her mouth was inches from where the vast majority of Tara's arousal was now stored. Tara could feel the heat of Willow's breath as she approached and her anticipation took the form of a light trickle down her thigh. Before making contact, Willow turned her attention to the glistening droplet. Just as she'd done with the chocolate sauce, she met it at the bottom, which was about halfway down Tara's thigh by now, and licked her way up to its source.

Tara's skin was flushed now, but goose bumps formed quickly in spite of her rising temperature. Both hands were gripping the counter as she felt the pressure of Willow's tongue meet the most sensitive part of her. It was quickly engulfed by Willow's lips and Tara made no effort to conceal her enjoyment. One of her hands came instinctively to rest on the back of Willow's head, urging her to make more contact. Answering Tara's wordless request, she used the length of her tongue to her advantage and fully immersed it between the slick folds to gather some the glistening sustenance. Then she returned her attention to Tara's protuberance with her newfound lubrication.

A familiar rhythm was established and was only interrupted when Tara was already at the precipice. At that point, she took the lead and began thrusting her hips urgently toward Willow's diligent tongue. Seconds later, Willow felt every muscle in Tara's body constrict and the sounds coming from her mouth caused Willow's wetness to show through her jeans. Finally, when Willow felt Tara relax, she stood to face her. She reached for a paper towel on the counter and wiped her face dry before leaning in to kiss Tara's neck. She trailed light kisses up and along Tara's jawbone to her flushed and swollen lips. Tara closed her eyes as her heavy breathing finally steadied.

"What are you doing?" Tara asked when she opened her eyes and saw Willow reaching for the chocolate sauce.

"Nothing," she replied, smirking.

"Don't you think you've made enough of a mess already?" Tara asked, raising an eyebrow.

"You weren't complaining a minute ago," Willow responded.

She poured some of the chocolate sauce onto her fingertip and pressed it to Tara's chest. She moved her chocolate covered finger across Tara's chest writing her own name in sloppy cursive.

"Did you just brand me?" Tara laughed.

"I mean, it's not a tattoo. Just chocolate sauce," Willow said, licking away the dot above the "i".

Tara sighed, enjoying the feeling of Willow's tongue on her still hot skin. But she wanted to feel more of Willow. When their lips met again, Tara slid her hands up Willow's back to the clasp of her bra and released it. Willow put enough space between them so that she could allow the bra to fall to the floor without surrendering the blonde's yearning lips. When she felt Tara's fingers move to insistently undo the button of her jeans, her arousal increased tenfold. Tilting her hips forward, Willow silently urged Tara to remove the distressing articles. Tara grew light-headed as her breathing turned to panting and she pulled Willow so close to her that there was no space between them. Her tongue begged for permission to enter Willow's mouth as she pushed the jeans down as far as they would go. When they were mid-thigh, they were loose enough around Willow's ankles that she was able to step on the extra fabric and pull one leg free. With a swift kick of her other leg, the pants were effectively tossed aside along with her underwear that was inundated with the visible evidence of her excitement.

They slowly moved to the floor and Willow gasped when the cold tile came into contact with her newly naked body. When Tara saw how much wetness was awaiting her, she knew that foreplay was out of the question. Lightly biting Willow's lower lip, she easily slid two fingers inside her. Willow lifted her hips off of the floor desperate for deeper contact and her fingers were arched as she sought something to grab onto, but found nothing but smooth tile. She gripped Tara's hips and wrapped a leg around her, forcing every centimeter of Tara's fingers into herself. Her moans were loud in the empty house and the sounds caused Tara to subconsciously increase the speed of her thrusting. The stickiness of the various ice cream ingredients and the slickness of their combined sweat created an extraordinary tactile experience for both of them.

When Tara felt Willow's fingertips dig into her hips even more firmly, she knew she was seconds from feeling the tightness of Willow's muscles drawing her in even further. The quickness of Willow's breath increased so that she was nearly hyperventilating and she finally felt the involuntary shudder as she coated Tara's busy hand in her glistening nectar. Tara slowly withdrew and practically collapsed next to Willow, both struggling to cool down, aided by the cool tile. Willow turned her head to the left to face Tara. Then, she noticed some melted ice cream dripping down the cabinets behind Tara and groaned.

"I don't think throwing sticky stuff everywhere was a good idea in hindsight."

"Do we clean it first or do we shower first," Tara asked, her voice soft and mellow.

"I vote neither. Let's just lie here."

"Are you sure? I could scrub you down in the shower and get all those hard to reach places," Tara suggested.

"Shower it is," Willow said, promptly sitting up.

She leaned over and kissed Tara, then pushed back a few strands of hair that were stuck to the blonde's face with... she wasn't quite sure what at that moment. She then sighed happily and stood all the way up, reaching both hands down to help Tara. When Tara was finally up, they tried, with some effort, to separate their sticky hands before heading upstairs to get cleaned up. The kitchen would have to wait.

THE END


Last edited by darkwillow6 on Tue Jul 04, 2017 9:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: June Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2017 3:54 pm 
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10. Troll Hammer
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DW6 -

Oh Myyyyyyy. That was... very.... tasty. :eyebrow :glasses :grin

Thanks for this delicious little vignette.

Totally craving ice cream sundaes now....


Cheers
DW

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Challenge Fics!: You Could Be Her ... Glasses ... Graffiti ... Pizza Day

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 Post subject: Re: June Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Mon Jun 26, 2017 1:58 pm 
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11. Fish in the Bowl

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Wow . . . busted the the ol' hot-o-meter all to pieces! I'll never think of strawberries the same way again! I also appreciate Willow getting an eye-full while Tara is shaking the ice cream, classic W/T as per the recent capture of T eyeing W's cleaveage in OMWF. Now that my pulse has slowed down . . . also appreciate the detail, like cooling off against the tiles, not able to find a hand-hold, granite topped counters. For me, these details make the picture more vivid and definitely more enjoyable. Thank you, thank you, thank you! :flirt

Ariel


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 Post subject: Re: June Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2017 6:04 pm 
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So as the deadline looms closer, once again the challenge collaborators debate in extending the challenge. Of course we are going to extend it…..


It is now officially The Summer Challenge and will encompass July. I'll change the title when I get back home because I can't do it from Tapatalk. I want more entries people! Thank you darkwillow6 for the first entry (I'll be providing feedback later)!!


I look forward to seeing more entries especially from not the usual suspects (although I look forward to the usual suspects as well)...


Delayne

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 Post subject: Re: June Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2017 6:52 pm 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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I am proofing my entry as we speak and will abide by the original deadline to get it live!

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 Post subject: Re: June Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Wed Jun 28, 2017 11:18 am 
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Bonus points to you then Laragh, for keeping with the original deadline. I don't know what you can spend those points on.... But BONUS POINTS!

Anyone else gets theirs in before July 1st also gets bonus points. I'll be tossing them out like a mascot at a college game with a t-shirt gun.

And just regular points to everyone else if you can still get me a fic posted by the new deadline. So go on now, get with it.

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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Wed Jun 28, 2017 12:06 pm 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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These challenges are great for newbies or semi-newbies or returning peeps who've been out of the fanfiction game for a while or regular writers who need a break for the universe they inhabit or as a jumpstart to clear writer's block or...

Basically what I'm saying is, writing for a challenge is great for anyone with the urge to write!

If the requirements only throw one little scene into your mind: write it!

There's no lenght minimums! A couple hundred words of W/T is a couple hundred more than there was before, and the world can only benefit from more W/T.

If it's completely ridiculous - go for it!

Everybody loves a good crack!fic every now and then.

If it's set in the most absurd universe you could possibly imagine and you think people won't get it - um, have you read Chris's (Artemis) stuff? It's some of the most beloved fic on the site.

Challenges on this site have a history of bringing out the wacky.

If at any point you read that opening post and thought 'hey, you know it'd be cool/funny/sweet/etc if that...' then try your hand and see what happens. I promise, it's lots of fun.

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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Wed Jun 28, 2017 12:23 pm 
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*cracks knuckles* Ow.

I'm going to try my hand at this... let's see what comes up.

I've been pretty devoted to writing my current fic but, a bit of a break is needed. This is perfect!

First ever challenge... eep.

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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Wed Jun 28, 2017 12:42 pm 
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Yaaay, great work, Darkwillow6! A steamy little treat, thanks so much for posting it! :)


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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Wed Jun 28, 2017 2:41 pm 
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darkwillow6 -

This was hot! I loved it. Just the kind of situation these challenges allow us to create - a snapshot into a life. Plus, you used my favorite food to have them 'fight' with, so much kudos for that!

The only piece of constructive criticism I have isn't related to the story at all, because I thought it was great. But paragraphs are your friend. Some readers can find it intimidating when they see a wall of text to try and read.

But nice flow, nice description, nice sense that we got to glimpse into a happy marriage. Overall a very warm feeling that I'm going to go cool down with some ice-cream!

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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Thu Jun 29, 2017 6:12 pm 
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WRITER: Laragh

RATING: NC-17

SUMMARY: Not your garden variety trip to the florist.

DISCLAIMER: Willow, Tara and any other characters from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer franchise belong to Joss Whedon, FOX, ME (who is not me) and others.

SPOILERS: Minor references to the show and stealage of dialogue, but nothing that would spoil the series.




Love Blossoms



Image

Willow Rosenberg hated Thanksgiving.


Not all of it, of course.


The long weekend — great!


Watching a giant Snoopy fly along the streets of Manhattan — great!


The yams — extra great!


Dealing with both her primary and extended family, all at once — not so great.


Horrible, in fact.


Painful.


Especially when her overbearing mother was still insisting on planning her outfits to match the ‘décor’. Willow thought she’d left that bullshit behind in high school. She was a college-graduated, working woman for god’s sake; she could be trusted to pick out her own clothes for a family dinner!


That argument, of course, had fallen on deaf ears with her mother and when her father gave her the ‘can you please just do it’ look, she knew it was futile to argue.


At least she had somewhere further than her bedroom to escape to these days. Thanksgiving no longer included listening to the drunken arguments into the wee hours and putting on a happy face for breakfast the next morning.


Now she just had to show up in her pre-chosen outfit; field questions about working in a ‘male-dominated field'; force a grin when asked about finding a husband to settle down with and nod enthusiastically about what a great spread her mother had put out.


She would have been sent to the gallows if she ever revealed it was all bought in, ready to reheat, from a local hotel.


Everyone knew, of course. Just like everybody knew she was gay. The Rosenbergs were master filterers and practiced at the art of keeping up appearances.


This had all lead to Willow standing through a ‘fitting’ at her childhood home while her mother Sheila had finalized her decision on wardrobe. When every thread and button had finally been agreed upon, she dropped the whammy — she wanted Willow to wear a floral crown on the day.


Her.


A grown adult.


Wearing a floral crown.


To Thanksgiving dinner.


In November.


Willow had worn one for her Bat Mitzvah and even then it had felt a bit juvenile. She could only deduce that that was the last time she'd made her mother proud and she was trying to reclaim that somehow.


She felt like she was going to be a walking centerpiece, so she planned on having a ‘misunderstanding’ with her Uncle Herman’s dog, Kelev, about what was or wasn’t a chew toy.


She was still deciding whether to sneak some (hard to find in her kosher household) bacon into the crown or just have it fall near him and hope for the best. Maybe some turkey juice would be less obvious, she mused, as she pulled up on the curb near the flower shop.


Her mother had deemed her worthy of getting the crown made up herself, as long as the colors matched the outfit. She'd even made Willow bring a physical photo she'd taken herself to show it in the manner she wanted.


Willow had planned to find a store in the worst part of town, in the hope that it might be bad enough that Sheila would have to renege at the last minute and she’d be reprieved, but it turned out there was only one flower shop in town anyway.


She got out of her car and tapped her credit card against the parking meter, then walked down the street until she was at the store and stepped inside.


A little bell rang as she entered, and her nose was instantly lit up by the sweet aroma on the floor. She looked around and was disappointed to see the place was in good order — all of the flowers were fresh and bright, the pre-made arrangements looked stunning and the whole place was spotless, with different areas neatly sorted and devoted to families of flowers.


She approached the desk, where the young girl behind the counter was dealing with a slightly belligerent and clearly impatient man.


“I’m asking for the most common bouquet a flower shop could have! You’re telling me you can’t just give me a bunch of red roses?!”


Willow watched the girl’s forehead crease and noted how she somehow managed to make a stress line look cute.


The flower girl is pretty.


“Yes, sir, but you’ve demanded the freshest we have and in order to give you that I have to de-thorn and wrap them, which will only take three or four minutes if you’d let me get them from the back.”


“Fine,” the man replied with a dismissive wave and Willow internally seethed.


The girl returned holding a bunch of 12 long-stemmed roses and set them on the counter. She picked up a gadget that Willow didn’t recognize but it became clear what it was for when the girl started plucking the thorns with it in quite quick succession.


The man was tapping his foot with an ever increasing speed before letting out an exaggerated, irritated sigh.


“You’re going slow on purpose! Even I'd do it faster!”


He snatched the rose she was holding from her and immediately some red started running down his thumb.


“Ow! Why did you let me grab this?!”


The girl behind the counter paled and stumbled slightly as she watched the gush of blood come from the man’s digit.


“What, are you going to pass out on me now?!”


An older woman came through the door to the backroom at the sound of the shrieking and cast a look at the man, which Willow recognized. It was the same one she gave to her aunt Ahuva when she would berate waitresses who were doing a perfectly good job. Beloved, she was not.


The older woman had a more intimidating presence and gently pushed the younger girl into the corner to hold onto the counter.


“Tara, I’ll deal with this. Go drink some water.”


Willow watched the girl take a glug of water from a bottle she produced from under the counter, and close her eyes to wait for some color to come back to her cheeks. She was only a minute or so, but still looked deeply apologetic when she spotted Willow and turned to help her.


“I’m so sorry. I-I can take care of you now.”


Willow took the few steps forward and couldn’t help smiling as the girl’s — Tara, she remembered the older woman call her — features came into clearer view. She really was beautiful.


Bright blue eyes; a long, slender neck; and soft-looking pink lips that looked very kissable.


And those cheekbones. Man, those cheekbones. They could cut glass, or probably more aptly, stab her in the heart, knowing her luck. Still, she could stare for hours, though she tried not to.


The color was definitely returning to her cheeks; Willow even thought she seemed a little flushed now.


She put a palm on the counter and cast a sideways glance at the angry man being dealt with at the other end of the store.


“Are you sure? I don’t mind waiting if you need a minute.”


Tara most definitely did flush now, embarrassed that her moment of feebleness had been witnessed.


“I’m not so good with blood.”


“I’m not so good with assholes” Willow retorted, and watched how the pretty girl’s—


Tara


— lips pursed together in the most delightful manner to hide the laugh that threatened to bubble out.


Tara ducked her head momentarily and when she looked back up, was gently biting her bottom lip. She slowly released it into a smile that made Willow feel inappropriately moist.


“How can I help you?” Tara asked, shyly tucking a piece of hair behind her ear.


“I’m not entirely sure if you can…” Willow replied, eyes following Tara's long fingers, “But I’m looking to get a floral crown made. For, uh, me.”


She cringed, but Tara just nodded amiably.


“I can do that.”


Willow did a half-fake grumble.


“Damn, I was kinda hoping you’d say you couldn’t so I could tell my mom I tried but it's a no-go,” she said with a self-deprecating eye roll, “She wants the illusion of an angelic daughter to show off for Thanksgiving even though I’m mega on the disappointment scale for various traditional and non-traditional reasons and I guess I still seek her approval, hence why I’m letting her dress me but that’s a discussion for my therapist and I should stop talking now.”


She stopped to take a breath and clear her throat but Tara didn’t seem fazed.


“Do you have specific flowers or colors in mind?”


Willow slid her hand into her back pocket and brought out the infamous photo, which she handed it over the counter.


“This is what I’m being forced into. I mean, uh, wearing.”


Tara took the photo and looked at it, regarding the outfit. It was certainly seasonal with an orange, brown and white striped dress with brown leggings and brown leather knee-high boots. The boots got her a little excited but she didn't let it show.


She handed it back with a shy smile.


“You look really nice.”


Willow’s face lit up and she had to remind herself to take the photo back again.


“So can you do something for me?”


Tara nodded.


“Definitely.”


She opened a drawer and took out a measuring tape.


“Can I…?”


“Oh yeah, of course,” Willow replied.


Tara took measurements of the circumference of Willow’s head, of the crown and noted it. She left the tape back and took out a spool of wire, which she snipped with the scissors and twisted into a head-sized circular shape.


“This is just to mock up something I can work with.”


“That’s great,” Willow said, a little too eagerly.


Tara wrapped the wire in double-sided tape, and came around to the other side of the counter. She brought Willow to a section called ‘Artificial Bloomers’, a fancy way of saying it was the fake flower area.


“The only bloomers I ever saw before belonged to my Bubbe,” Willow joked.


Tara ducked her head as she smiled again and Willow felt her own smile grow in response.


Finally Tara looked up to meet Willow’s eye again.


“I think we should use the brighter flowers to bring out your eyes.”


“I trust you,” Willow replied, making her cheeks redden, “I mean with the flowers.”


Tara picked out a few different flowers; some orange roses, yellow daisy poms, red hypericum for added decoration and two red lilies either side for framing.


Willow watched her fingers pluck the fake flowers so delicately and place them together, making it look artistic even just with sticky tape.


She surprised herself by thinking it looked great, and put it right on her head when Tara handed it to her to have a look.


“What do you think? Does it look as good on as it does off?”


Tara glanced around for a mirror, but they didn’t get too many people in to wear the flowers.


“Do you want me to take a picture?”


“Please,” Willow agreed, and felt around for her phone, but it wasn't on her, “Oh. I left it in the car.”


Tara went behind the counter and produced her phone.


“Want me to…?”


Give me your number? Yes, I would like you to give me your number.


“Sure,” Willow agreed, and started to pose, a little self-consciously.


Tara fumbled with the phone for a moment, then looked up, blushing.


“I'm so bad with these things.”


“Oh, here,” Willow replied, taking the phone and moving it off video and adjusting the flash, “There you go.”


Tara took time to get the angle right and snapped a picture.


Willow took a look and was a little shocked — she actually thought she looked pretty.


“I love it,” she said softly, “I’ll take it.”


“Really?” Tara asked, surprised, “You don’t want to change anything? It should be just how you want it. It will have more flowers, more intricately weaved and they'll be real, of course, but are you sure the colors and placement are okay?”


Willow nodded.


“It’s perfect. You sure know your flowers,” she said, then cringed a little, “I guess that’s pretty dumb to say to someone working in a flower shop.”


Tara shook her head slightly to try to alleviate Willow’s embarrassment.


“My mother and grandmother were florists. My mother grew up in the upstairs of my grandmother’s store, then it was passed down to her and I was always in it, helping out. This was an easy part time job to get during college. I just graduated but I’m still here. It runs through my veins, I guess.”


She went back behind the counter and took out an order sheet.


“You can collect it the Tuesday or Wednesday before Thanksgiving. That way it will stay fresh for you over the weekend, if you keep it cold,” she said as she scribbled a few notes, “Do you want to give us an email address so we can let you know when it’s ready?”


“I don’t want to give you more work,” Willow replied, coming over to stand where she was originally.


Tara gathered her hair to one side of her as she wrote on the page, giving Willow a delicious view of her smooth neck.


“It’s kind of embarrassing but Evelyn, the owner, does all the electronic correspondence. I-I go online sometimes, but…everyone's spelling is really bad. It's depressing. But she likes me to get people’s emails if they’re willing. We get a lot of big orders and people come on the wrong days all the time. Flowers aren't cut or cut too early and turning already. Most…” she said, cocking her head to the side, “Are less like you and more like…”


When she didn’t get a response, she looked up. Willow snapped out of her daze when she saw hair falling back into place.


“Well I'm glad I'm not like him. But, that would be great, I’d love a reminder email.”


Tara turned the sheet around and Willow wrote down her email down in the little section provided.


“I can get her to send you that picture so you can show your mom if you need to,” Tara offered, “I would do it myself, but it would probably end up going to some grandma in Anaheim.”


Willow smiled, but it was accompanied by a blush.


“You must think I’m the biggest loser in the world, worried about what my Mommy thinks.”


“No, not at all,” Tara said quickly and had to step back to clear her throat, “Sorry, my mom…she’s having tests done at the moment. So I don’t think there’s anything wrong with doing something nice for your mom. I think it’s sweet.”


She shared a nervous smile, which Willow responded to by giving her hand a reassuring pat.


Tara seemed pleased; whether it was because Willow wasn’t mad that she’d overshared with a customer or because she too thought they shared a ‘moment’, Willow wasn’t sure. But she liked seeing her smile.


“So, um, the price will vary slightly because our prices can change a bit week to week depending on our volume, but it’ll be somewhere between $35 and $40,” Tara continued, “Is that okay?”


“That’s great,” Willow agreed, “Oh, I just need one more thing.”


“Sure,” Tara replied, standing up straight again to put herself in professional mode.


“You see, it’s…” Willow said, voice hesitating for a moment, “It’s for a cute girl who needs a little pick-me-up. I thought I’d just give her a single flower she can tuck away and enjoy without embarrassing her with a big display.”


“Okay,” Tara agreed, gaze moving down yet again to hide the odd sense of disappointment she felt, “Does she have a favorite flower?”


“I don’t know, really,” Willow said a bit helplessly, “Could you recommend something?”


Tara nodded.


Well, there's always a rose. The different colors have different meanings, so you can customize the experience. If you want something less mainstream that hasn't traveled far, you could opt for a poppy,” she explained “Or sometimes I like to make up a little mini-bouquet of blossom flowers. It’s the same size as a large flower but much more decorative, and it’s more unique than a single. You can also mix and match colors to really make It stand out.”


Willow's brow creased.


“Isn't it the wrong season for those? I don't know much, but I always see those cherry blossoms flying everywhere in the Spring.”


“It is Spring,” Tara answered with a charming smile, “Just a little bit more south.”


“Well I never would have even thought of that!” Willow replied, grinning, “Can you make me up one of those?”


“Of course,” Tara replied, “We have some white, red and orange-yellow tinged ones in back at the moment.”


Willow thought about it for a moment.


“Could you do like a little circle of white with one red in the middle? Like a flower made out of flowers if you know what I mean.”


Tara’s lips quirked up on one side.


“I love that.”


Willow blushed at the cutest smile she’d even seen and averted her gaze. Tara went into the backroom and came back just a few minutes later with an impeccably presented mini-bouquet, wrapped it its own leaves and tied together in a bow shape with a thin stem.


Willow agreed, it was unusual but with a lot more character than a rose.


“That looks amazing.”


Tara held it in both hands and lifted it to her nose.


“Smells nice too.”


Willow leaned in and smelled the flower of flowers. It was sweet and fruity, and so was Tara judging by the waft of perfume Willow got for being so close to her.


Their faces moved close together when Willow lifted her head again and their eyes lingered for a moment. That was until the bell over the door rang as a new customer came in and made them both look away. The new customer went straight to the owner, Evelyn, to deal with, but the moment had been broken.


Tara gathered Willow’s bouquet and rang it up, along with handing her the order strip for the crown.


Willow paid, put the slip safely in her wallet and took her little bouquet.


She then pushed it right back in Tara’s direction.


“These are for you.”


Tara’s brow creased, in confusion this time, but Willow found it just as cute. She wondered if it was possible for this girl to pull a face that wasn't adorable.


“But you said it was for…”


Willow made sure Tara’s hand was closed around the bouquet before shooting a winning smile.


“It is.”


With that, she casually walked out the door feeling like she was walking on air.


Image


“Willow Rosenberg, you smooth motherfucker.”


Buffy Summers, one of Willow’s best friends, had her chin resting on both fists as she listened to her friend tell the story of the Pretty Florist and the Magical Flower Crown. It was an enchanting tale, even if it had to be shouted over other club-goers.


The live music playing was loud, but they’d come upstairs so they could talk.


She was very interested in this new development in her friend’s life, as this was as charmed by a girl as she’d seen Willow in a long while.


“Please tell me you asked her out and you're about to ask for fashion tips for your date!”


Willow slumped and shook her head.


“No. I…I just left. I thought I was being suave!” she said, pouting at herself, “What am I supposed to say?”


She took a sip of beer and attempted to sit up confidently.


“Hi, um, Tara, how are you? 'Well, I was wondering, if, you, maybe, you would wanna go out sometime? For coffee…food…kisses and gay love?'”


She slumped back down in her seat again.


“I’ve never just asked a stranger out like that! I can't even say it to you without stumbling over my words!”


“You’re going back, right?” Buffy prompted, sipping her cocktail through a straw.


Willow nodded.


“I have to collect my order.”


Buffy held two exasperated hands up in the air.


“Well for the love of god, don’t walk out this time without getting a date!”


Image



Willow nervously walked down the street again, towards the flower shop.


She’d driven by once or twice, even saw Tara through the window once early on, but didn’t want to come across as desperate by going in before her order was ready.


She practically leapt up out of her seat when the email notification popped up on her phone and really had run from work to get in her car and go. She'd been practicing for days about how to ask Tara out with the least amount of stumbling and had five different date ideas planned depending on if she got a yes and if so, how Tara wanted to play it.


She secretly hoped she'd get the opportunity to take her on all five.


She checked herself in the window of the electronics store next door and then tried to walk in as casually as she had walked out last time.


Her heart immediately sank when Tara was nowhere to be seen, but she hoped she was just in the back.


She glanced around as she walked to the counter and noticed the place looked quite different from the last time she’d been there. The flowers weren’t looking as fresh as they had been, nor were they arranged artfully. They just sat there. There was a general lack of flow and even a lack of some basic cleanliness. Petals and pollen littered the floor and the counter space was nowhere near as neat as it had been.


Willow had to think for a moment if she’d even come to the same store, but she knew she hadn't driven to another town, so she had to have.


“Uh, hi. I’m collecting an order,” she said as she approached.


The woman looked frazzled but wasn’t impolite.


“What’s the name?”


“Willow Rosenberg,” Willow answered, though didn’t recall ever actually giving her name, “Oh, I have a…”


She fished out her order slip and the owner looked very grateful.


“Oh, great, thank you,” she said, and started inputting the details in the computer, “I see. Tara’s last order.”


Heart. Sunk.


“…last?”


The owner let out a hearty sigh.


“Poor girl had to up and leave her whole life. Had to move across the country to go home and take care of her sick mother. She made sure your order was complete, though. Here it is.”


She bent down to open the bottom drawer and came back up with a white box. Willow was nowhere near as excited as before and just slid the box under her arm.


“Thanks. How much did it come to?”


The owner read the computer.


“Looks like it’s already paid for.”


“Oh, no,” Willow shook her head, “I paid for some other flowers on the day but not this. She said she couldn’t give a fixed price until it was made.”


The woman sighed again and looked into the details of payment.


“Seems she paid for it herself. She was generous like that,” she concluded finally, “I hope you get good use from it. She has a real artistic touch. I’m quite lost without her. At least every day is another day closer to retirement…”


Willow swallowed and shoved her wallet back into her purse.


“Well…thank you. Bye.”


She went back to the car and slammed the driver’s door once she was inside. She set the box on her lap and angrily tore the lid off.


Her anger dissipated quickly when she saw the crown. Tara had weaved the colors together even more beautifully than Willow ever could have imagined. There was no break, no flaw, just a perfect loop of autumnal beauty. Kelev wouldn't be getting anywhere near it.


She set it back carefully and noticed a little folded piece of paper in the corner. She opened it and her heart sped up this time. She was going to need beta-blockers before this experience ended.


Thank you for the flowers.
It made my week.
Here’s some for you.
I hope you (and your mom) like it
Have a happy Thanksgiving
— Tara (the hemophobic florist)



Willow felt punched in the gut that Tara had taken the time to leave her a note on top of everything else, even when her life had clearly been turned upside down.


She dropped her head into her hands and felt like crying; saddened for the girl that had been so sweet to her, dejected at her high hopes being dashed so assuredly, and angry at herself for missing her chance when she had it.


Image


Nine Months Later


Willow lifted her head to let her face bask in the late morning Spanish sun.


A year ago, she couldn’t have imagined going on vacation to San Francisco on her own, let alone Spain. She’d never even been out of the country before.


Yet here she was, one of thousands of people gathered in a small Spanish town just to throw a bunch of tomatoes at each other.


La Tomatina seemed like one of the wackiest things Willow had ever heard when she first came across it.


She had been reading about adventure vacations, and had skimmed past it at first as it seemed relatively tame compared to other things on the list, but became intrigued when she spotted it had started as a protest.


Throwing tomatoes wasn't too far removed from throwing bricks, and that appealed to the gay history buff inside her; that little flicker that burned inside LGBT people like her that hoped if she'd been there at The Stonewall Inn on that night, that she would have fought back too.


Looking at pictures had made her want in on the fun, and the location made a pretty convincing argument. She just felt it deep inside that she had to go there, for the bragging rights if nothing else. There was a click in her brain that this was the vacation for her.


The energy outside was electric with excited onlookers surrounding her from every possible angle. New comers and town residents mixed together, already enjoying the festival and getting in on the local traditions. The whole town was covered in blue tarp to protect it from the onslaught that was about to begin, and every so often a local would drop some water from above, just to unofficially warm everybody up.


There was some kind of ham resting atop a pole that people were trying and failing to climb. Willow knew she’d know when someone succeeded, because the tomato-slinging would begin. Such was the law of the wacky festival.


Willow tried to pick out faces in the crowd, deciphering nationalities and spotting relationships by the way people were interacting. She liked to analyze and away from her work apparatus, people-watching was the easiest way.


She could only see a fraction of a percent of the twenty thousand participants that had arrived to celebrate, all of whom were wearing similar clothing — the kind you didn't care about getting destroyed by a catapult of tomatoes hitting you.


Willow spotted someone wearing clothes near identical to her — a white t-shirt and mid-thigh jean shorts — but it wasn’t the clothes that stood out to her.


It was the face.


Well the legs, at first.


But then the face.


It was familiar.


“Tara?”


Willow hadn’t forgotten about the flower girl who had gotten away. In fact, she was indirectly responsible for Willow standing in that spot at that very moment.


She thought she must be seeing things, or a doppelganger at best, but still pushed her way over to where maybe-Tara was.


“Tara?”


Tara turned slowly, surprised to hear her name being called. Her eyes widened when she saw who it was.


Willow took a step back, assuming Tara to be freaked out that a relative stranger was approaching her in a foreign country, saying her name.


“I’m sorry, I know you won’t remember me at all. I’m—”


“Blossom,” Tara interrupted, then immediately blushed, “Sorry, I-I know that’s not your name. That’s…just what I’ve been calling you in my head.”


Willow blinked for a moment, processing that she had been thought about, too.


“It's Willow,” she said finally, “I'm Willow.”


Tara ducked her head but raised her eyes to meet Willow’s, in conjunction with a not-even-trying-to-be-charismatic crooked smile.


“Still in the botanical family.”


Willow laughed.


“I guess it is.”


There was a small lull as they both reeled that they were standing in front of the other.


“I still have a picture of your hair,” Tara said eventually, blushing when she thought about how it sounded.


Willow didn't care, she was happy to hear it.


“I loved the crown,” she said with utmost sincerity, “I wasn’t looking forward to wearing it before, but yours was so beautiful. My mom even said it looked nicer than she was expecting. Which, if you knew my mom, is like the biggest compliment ever.”


She registered Tara’s little smile but her mind was working on something else.


“Blossom…” she said softly, thinking it over, “You…you remember the flowers I gave you?”


Tara could only nod.


“It was the s-sweetest thing anyone has ever done for me,” she said, awkwardly turning her hands over each other.


They shared a smile, and Tara broke it first to gesture around.


“What are you doing here?”


“Well, I’ve been feeling kind of bucket list-y recently,” Willow explained, then added quickly when she saw the look on Tara’s face, “I’m not dying or anything, I just…realized I wasn’t living life to the fullest. I…missed an opportunity I really regretted and I decided I wasn’t going to let it happen again.”


She stopped to take a breath.


“Anyway, the world’s biggest food fight seemed list-worthy,” she said jokingly, “It was either this or the World Custard Pie Championships in England, and, well, the weather is much better here.”


Tara smiled again and Willow thought it was dangerous for her to swoon where so many people could stampede all over her.


“What about you?” she asked, trying to keep the crack out of her voice.


Tara looked sad for a moment.


“M-my mother left me a ticket in her will.”


Willow stepped in closer and brought a hand up to rub Tara’s upper arm. It was unlike her to physically touch someone she didn't really know, but the look on Tara's face broke her heart and she'd moved on instinct.


When she’d thought about Tara, which was embarrassingly often considering how fleeting their meeting, she'd wondered how her mom was doing and how Tara was coping with it all.


“I’m so sorry.”


Tara looked appreciative for the concern.


“She came here once before I was born. She told me it was one of the most fun experiences of her life and she wanted me to have some fun. So I'm here to have fun.”


Willow’s hand paused on Tara’s arm, but stayed where it was. Her eyelids glanced down at Tara and then back up through her lashes.


“Are you here with anyone?”


Tara shook her head, so Willow decided to go for it. She could always lose herself into the crowd if she had to slink away in embarrassment.


“Wanna have some fun together?”


Willow knew she was being flirty, and Tara did too. She gave the same look back.


“Yes. I would.”


Willow’s hand ran down Tara’s arm smoothly, where their fingers linked. Both of them got a little giddy but it fit in with the tone of the rest of the crowd. They just stared at each other again, dazed to be in each other's presence.


A horn sounded and suddenly the palpable excitement became anarchy. Trucks rolled in, packed with tomatoes and it became every man for themselves as they were grabbed and thrown.


Willow and Tara stuck together, but were too busy getting pelted to even try to grab a tomato to throw back.


“Duck!” Willow screeched as one came hurtling towards them.


Tara ducked and Willow received it, right bang smack in the face. Tara shot back up, looking worried.


“Are you okay?!”


Willow’s eyes seemed dizzy for a moment but they quickly focused on Tara’s. She leaned in until their noses were almost touching.


Tara felt her breath quicken and her lips parted in anticipation…only to get a gob full of tomato as Willow smushed one into her face.


Tara’s mouth hung open in surprise for a moment, then she replaced it with a grin.


“You asked for it…Willow.”


They were tightly packed at first, but then the crowd began to flow and they ran down the streets; slipping and sliding, throwing tomatoes at strangers and getting plenty back in return. They didn’t hurt anymore; the adrenaline was pumping and everybody was just caught up in the frivolity of the fight.


The whole town was covered and they had no idea where they were, but it didn't matter. They just embraced the joy and chaos and marveled at the sheer volume of so many people packed together, every one of them having fun. They and everyone else were ankle-deep in the freshest ketchup you could find and covered from head to toe in loose skins and tomato fruit.


They hadn't shared more than a couple of words after the many minutes of food-fighting, but Willow was getting a cramp and she noticed Tara trying to catch her breath. She decided to pull them out of the crowd for a moment so they didn’t get shoved over by the people still actively fighting.


She pulled Tara by the hand into a small little cobbled side alley as a sea of red passed by. A projectile came flying and she pushed Tara up against the wall to get her out of the way.


Their noses brushed again, but this time Willow didn’t miss her chance. She moved her lips until they were almost painfully not-quite-touching, to give Tara a chance to move away, but instead Tara pulled Willow’s lips onto her own without a second thought.


Willow moaned quietly; Tara’s lips were even softer than she imagined and tasted as sweet as could be. Throwing tomatoes was the last thing on her mind, all she wanted was to quench her thirst from the hot sun with Tara’s kisses.


She pressed her body more fluidly against Tara’s and got an appreciative moan in response.


Willow wanted to hear that again — louder, softer, in her ear, lost into a pillow, screamed up to the ceiling — she didn’t care, she just wanted to be the cause of that pleasure.


She gently offered her tongue, which Tara took in eagerly. Willow started to get dizzy and she knew it wasn’t jet lag.


Kissing women against walls wasn’t a regular weekday occurrence for her. Especially sweet, beautiful women whom she’d been dreaming of for months. That she'd just happened to run into, six thousand miles from home in the biggest crowd she’d ever been in.


Nope, this definitely wasn’t normal.


This is fate.


It was maybe a bit of an intense thought for what was happening, but Willow couldn't help but feel it. She felt that same pull that had brought her here in the first place. Or maybe she was just losing her mind over just how amazing it was to actually kiss Tara.


They could have, and probably would have, stayed right there with little movement anywhere apart from their mouths and hands, but a loud horn blew and made them pull away. Though they remained pressed against each other, ever so slightly panting.


Their eyes met and they both blushed simultaneously. Willow glanced down at her tomato-soaked clothing and realized the rest of her must look a mess too.


“I, um, guess it’s over,” she said, then glanced at Tara with a soft smile, “I really enjoyed it.”


“Me too,” Tara replied in the same way, “Much better than I could have ever expected.”


Willow reached into Tara's hair and pulled out some tomato.


“Definitely an experience!” she giggled, “Do you want to go find a hose down? Or are you going to the showers?”


“House down sounds good,” Tara replied bashfully, “Then I need to go sit in the sun to dry off before I grab the bus. I didn't bring spare clothes. And I’m staying in Valencia…I couldn’t pass up ‘The City Of Flowers’.”


“Really?” Willow asked, giddy again. “So am I! I tried to stay here, locally, but there was no accommodation left.”


Did I pluck a four-leaved clover I've lost somewhere? Cut off a rabbit's foot I can't remember? Pull the bigger half of a wishbone by accident? Or did my regular consumption of Lucky Charms just finally pay off? Who cares, Tara's staying in the same city as me!


Tara shook her head to herself, apparently also in awe of how they’d seemed to find each other.


“Want to get the bus together maybe?”


“Love to,” Willow answered without hesitation.


“Let’s go get hosed off,” Tara replied with a definite flirty tone.


Willow slipped their hands together again and they walked back onto the street, where industrial hoses were washing the streets, leaving spotless cobbles from the acidity of the tomatoes. They walked, sticky hand in sticky hand, until they passed a local who was kindly hosing down passersby.


They both did a few 360° turns to get as much off as they could, then with heavy clothes walked back to the square where the buses met. Both were wearing white tank tops under their t-shirts to make it less see-through while wet, and both of them wished the other wasn't.


“It’s so beautiful here, isn’t it?” Tara asked, averting her eyes from Willow's chest, “The architecture and roadways. I’ve been walking around in a daze admiring everything. Sensory overload sometimes.”


Willow didn’t reply and Tara ducked her head.


“Sorry, I’m boring you.”


“No, no,” Willow replied quickly. For once she wasn't caught out sneaking a peek, but had been in her own thoughts, “Sorry. I’m just…I can’t believe you’re here. Of all the food fights in all the world…”


Tara cocked her head to the side and regarded Willow sweetly. She could hardly believe it herself, but not believing would eat into time she didn’t want to waste. If the last few months had taught her anything, it was appreciate every moment you have.


“Maybe it’s fate.”


YES!


“Maybe,” Willow replied, somehow able to regain her composure, “Can I get you a coffee or something?”


Tara nodded.


“I’d love a café con leche, actually. It was an early morning catching the bus.”


Willow walked less than a block to get coffee and came back with pastries for them to share.


Tara had secured a spot of wall to sit on in the meantime, as most of the festival go-ers were still in the town changing or getting hosed off.


Willow returned with her hands laden down and placed the contents on the wall, then hoisted herself up, sore but happy.


“This was amazing, wasn’t it?” she gushed and took a moment to take a gulp of coffee from a cheap, paper cup, “When we were running and we kept getting hit, but then we’d throw one and it’d catch someone perfectly…like a snowball fight on crack! I felt so free. Like, look, Willow Rosenberg is making a mess and nobody cares!”


She noticed a slightly arched eyebrow from Tara, so clarified sheepishly.


“I grew up in a very anally retentive household.”


Tara just nodded and smiled.


“For me it was everyone else’s infectious joy. It was like I could feed off it. It made my heart happy.”


Willow scooted closer to Tara.


“You must be getting full near me, then,” she said in a low voice, “Because I’m ecstatic right now.”


Their lips brushed, now tinged with the strong coffee. It was softer than before and made them both warm inside. They broke apart to eat a little, already somehow so comfortable with each other.


“Can I—?” Tara tried to offer money for the coffee, but Willow was having none of it.


“No way. The absolute least I can do considering that beautiful flower crown was paid for when I went to collect it. Besides, I bought it off a local outside their house. It's not exactly haute cuisine.”


Tara shrugged one shoulder softly.


“You gave me some flowers, I gave you some flowers.”


Willow gently brushed some flaked pastry off Tara’s knee.


“Well, we did the flowers thing,” she said, completely and shamelessly lingering, “Traditionally, after a flower exchange, sometimes people get some dinner together.”


Tara pursed her lips together, holding in a smile.


“Are you asking me out on a date?”


Willow was nowhere near as prepared as she had been the first time she planned to ask Tara out.


“If you don’t have plans,” she replied quickly, suddenly nervous, “It doesn’t have to be tonight. I know there’s some serious partying going on later.”


“I don’t have plans,” Tara replied, her tone unmistakably evocative, “And I’d love it to be tonight. We can be a party of two.”


They both leaned in at the same time but were interrupted as a fleet of buses arrived, beeping to announce their arrival.


They parted reluctantly and Willow stood.


“We should get on quickly before it gets crazy.”


Tara nodded.


They both swung their tiny, waterproof backpacks off their backs — Willow’s plastic and mesh, Tara’s nylon; both bought specifically for the event to be thrown out later, because getting tomato seeds out of small pockets was a bitch. Each zipped theirs open to find their bus tickets.


Most people were still lining up to collect their belongings from the locker room, which both Willow and Tara had avoided after reading guide books, or still dancing in the streets and celebrating, hanging out for later buses. Music was playing, so while they lined up, Willow took Tara’s hand and had her do a little twirl.


Tara giggled and Willow leaned against the bus to help support her weak knees.


“So, um, where are you staying?”


“In La Xerea,” Tara answered.


“Oh, I’ve walked through that neighborhood! It’s so quiet and quaint,” Willow replied with a smile, “I must not be that far from you. I’m staying in a place called Casa Cosy. It sounded, well, cosy.”


“Is it?” Tara questioned with a somewhat-flirty arched eyebrow.


Willow managed to nod, despite having flashing images in her mind of Tara spread out on her bed.


“Typical old town Valencia on the outside, super modern on the inside. I mostly picked it for the location. Whereabouts are you?”


“I’m staying in the boutique B&B right at Glorieta Gardens,” Tara replied.


“I think I know that park,” Willow replied, recalling the triangular park and its beautiful trees, “You really love flowers, huh?”


Tara blushed lightly.


“Third generation florist and trained botanist, so…”


She stepped onto the bus and handed off her ticket, while Willow ‘discreetly’ checked out her ass. Never pass up an opportunity; that was her new motto.


“You’re in the sciences,” she said in an attempt to have her mouth be a cover for her eyes, “Me too.”


“Oh, really?” Tara asked, interested and suddenly surprised at herself that she’d been making out with someone whose job she didn’t even know, “Wh—”


She was stopped from finishing the question as the bus driver started gesturing erratically at Willow, who looked lost and slightly scared.


“Do you have any idea what he’s saying? I took French in high school.”


Tara actually did know a little Spanish, but he was speaking very quickly.


“I think he’s saying you have to get on the other bus.”


Willow looked at her ticket and realized hers was for a different route number. She made a pained face.


“But it’s the same bus company and you’re both going to Valencia!”


“Ugh,” she said finally, when the driver continued to rant at her and the line behind got restless, “I’ll meet you at the entrance of the park you're staying at? At, like, seven, for dinner? Does that suit you?”


Tara smiled a winning smile.


“I’ll be there.”


Willow knew she couldn’t grab Tara for a smooch right then, so she lifted Tara’s hand to her mouth and kissed it.


“See you then.”


She backed off the bus and skipped over to the right one.


Tara moved down the aisle, barely paying attention but eventually found an empty seat.


She sat down and finally allowed herself to swoon.


Image


Tara laid out the black dress she planned to wear to dinner out on the bed.


She hadn’t packed anything to wear on a date, as she hadn’t envisioned any kind of romantic excursion on this trip, but she had packed some of her nicer casual clothes to blend in with the beautiful city.


She put a belt against it to see if she’d wear it like that, but decided instead to stick with the dress and some light pantyhose. She didn't want to be uncomfortable later on.


I can’t believe I met Blossom— Willow, it's Willow…it’s even prettier, in fact — in the Spanish equivalent of Podunk, Iowa…with 19,998 other people surrounding us.


Still in her towel after showering, she sat on the chair at the desk in front of the mirror to brush through her hair.


And now we’re going on a date. Did you do this mom?


She reached out to an old, withered plush tomato toy that had been a souvenir from Tara’s mom’s run through the tomato river all those years ago. Its green stalks were turning grey, and one beady eye had been sewn back in a bit wonky, but it still smelled like her mom and that was precious.


Beside the toy was the letter Tara had received when the will was read, along with the tickets.


Tara,

Find your joy.

Start here.

And trust.

Love you always,
Momma



She traced her mom’s neatly scrawled sign-off, written in the exact same style as her real signature was, except just for Tara. She was Tara's Momma, no one else's. That signature only belonged to her.


If it was you…thanks. I really like this one.


Watching her mother waste away to nothing had been the most heart-wrenching experience of Tara’s life. All throughout they would talk about Tara’s happiness, as it was the only positivity her mother had left. In the very last days, she would say it every time Tara walked in the room, croaked through a dying throat.


Be happy, my sweet.


Be happy, my darling.


Be happy, Tara. Please.


At first Tara thought it was a reminder to herself that everything would be okay, a comfort for her final moments. But after she went Tara realized it was a reminder to her too. More than anything Tara's mom wanted her to pursue her happiness and Tara fully intended to do so.


She was left a house and a business she loved. Earlier than she'd planned, but taken on willingly.


Her mother had given her as much as she possibly could to allow her to live a happy, successful life and blessed her with a lifetime of memories of love. Tara had to fill in the rest.


She figured a cute girl that had been on her mind in the rare moments she allowed herself to have a break was as good a start as any. At least she wouldn’t wonder forever about the adorable redhead who was the first person to ever give her flowers.


People thought giving flowers to a florist was pointless, but the opposite was true for Tara. She loved flowers, so having someone give them to her with some thought was as lovely as anything else she could receive.


She tucked the letter back away, safe and continued on with her routine. She blew out her hair, styled it loosely down past her shoulders and let a few layers sit to the front. It was simple but it framed her face nicely and took advantage of not having time to get it done professionally.


Her make-up was light on her face — not much was needed with the color she’d gotten in her cheeks that day. Her eyes were brightened with some blue shadow that matched the blue of the heels she was wearing. She fixed her dress over her body and let herself show off a little bit of cleavage. She'd caught Willow peeking, but only because she'd been peeking back.


While it was still the tail end of summer, the evenings could hold a breeze, so she donned her long red leather jacket over her dress to keep her shoulders warm. She wasn’t sure how far they’d be walking but she hoped not far in her shoes.


She checked her watch and there was a little time yet, so she went downstairs to the wine bar across the street and ordered a cab sav to calm her butterflies.


She enjoyed people-watching, and her own company, so it wasn’t a big deal for her to be alone. At the bar, or on vacation. She'd been happy to experience this trip on her lonesome. But it had been lovely to talk to someone whom she gelled with so easily and she was glad she got to extend that time, however much it was.


With a few minutes to spare, she finished her wine and strolled to the entrance of the gardens. She stood politely out of the way of the thoroughfare with her purse in front of her and kept an eye out for Willow.


The minutes ticked by, beyond their arranged time, but Tara didn’t mind hanging out. She had better things to do in life than hold a grudge against someone running a few minutes late.


A few minutes turned into a lot of minutes and Tara was beginning to get a little worried. How long should she wait, and should she try to find Willow? She knew the name of the hotel she was at, but there was a bunch of reasons why Willow might not have shown up and several of them could cause a lot of embarrassment if Tara showed up and wasn’t wanted.


Her heart had begun a slow descent into sinking when she suddenly heard yelling coming from down the path.


“Tara! Tara! Tara!”


She looked over and saw Willow approaching at considerable speed, practically tripping herself up on the way. Tara held her arms out and Willow came close to crashing into her.


“Whoa, slow down,” Tara said, holding Willow’s arms to keep her steady, “It’s okay. Catch your breath.”


Willow remained hunched over, drawing in lungfuls of breath. She finally straightened again, still out of breath, but able to speak. She pointed frantically from which the direction she came.


“We never…said…which…entrance.”


Tara looked across the park for a moment and realized what the hold-up had been.


“Oh!”


Willow stood on her own, red-faced but in control of her breathing faculties again.


“I was gonna go wait at your B&B. I didn’t want you to think I stood you up,” she said, gesturing with one hand, “Then I saw you standing here in your—


really hot leather


—jacket so I just ran.”


Tara reached out and smoothed a piece of Willow’s hair that had gone a little wild while running. Her smile reached her eyes.


“You’re so sweet.”


Tara pecked her lips, and Willow blushed, but with less embarrassment and more what could only be described as 'squee'.


“Do you have somewhere in particular you’d like to eat?”


Tara shook her head.


“I’ve just been eating whenever I find somewhere.”


“If you don’t mind, I looked up a place a few blocks from here," Willow replied, fixing her shirt discreetly, "It promises authentic Valencian.”


Tara offered her arm as a sign of agreement, which Willow took readily.


“You got back safe and sound,” she said somewhat needlessly as they walked out of the gardens.


“I did,” Tara confirmed, “I had a little nap and checked my body for bruises before I started getting ready.”


“I got one right in the rib cage,” Willow replied, holding her palm gingerly over a spot in her torso, “But I wouldn’t change a thing.”


She glanced at Tara, who glanced back at the same time and they shared a smile.


The restaurant wasn’t far at all and soon they were seated, after a little tussle with the waiter as Willow swooped in to pull Tara’s seat out for her first.


“Are you a wine drinker?” Willow inquired as a way to keep her gaze on Tara without making it seem like she was looking at the cleavage in her dress.


Tara nodded, lips quirked on one side. Both from the question, and the glancing.


Mission accomplished.


“I’ve been known to enjoy a glass.”


Willow accepted the wine menu from the waiter as he returned with it.


“Would you like to share a bottle?”


“I would like that,” Tara answered.


Willow handed over the menu.


“You pick. You seem like you have a good wine head on your shoulders.”


“I’ll take that as the compliment it was intended as,” Tara replied teasingly.


She looked through the list and decided pretty quickly.


“We’ll take a bottle of your house Tempranillo.”


The waiter went off to get the bottle and glasses.


“Isn’t it cool not getting carded?” Willow asked giddily, revealing some of her youthful soul.


Tara liked it. They were still young — she was still young, though she hadn't come to feel it lately.


Not even mid-twenties yet, but the last few months of her life had brought her great responsibilities, and had set her up for more when she went home. A little levity was welcome.


“It’s very cool,” she agreed, “Although since graduating I take it as a compliment when I’m asked for ID.”


“Tell me about it,” Willow replied, shaking her head to herself, “Adulting is hard.”


Tara could only agree.


“Yes it is.”


The waiter returned and left two glasses down, pouring a capful into Tara’s to taste. Tara lifted the glass to her nose, swirled it and took a sip.


She nodded to the waiter that it was fine and he poured them each a glass and handed off the menus.


“I was kinda kidding, but you really do know your wine,” Willow commented, resting her menu in her lap.


“My mom and I shared a lot before she got too sick to enjoy it,” Tara replied with a fond smile.


Willow reached across and took Tara’s hand with a sympathetic look.


“It’s fine. Really,” Tara said in response, “We got to say goodbye. She sent me here.”


She sent me to you.


“I’m okay.”


She was. That was the truth. She squeezed Willow’s hand back in gratitude, then picked up her menu to have a look and move past the conversation piece.


“So what are you looking at?”


Willow understood a pointed segue when she heard one and didn’t feel brushed off. She couldn’t imagine going through what Tara went through.


“The garlic shrimp starter looks good,” she said after a moment.


“I’m allergic to shrimp,” Tara answered, “But you can go ahead. I can be around it, I just can’t eat it.”


Willow looked up over her menu, flashing her eyelashes.


“Would it stop me from kissing you later if I did?”


Tara blushed.


“Yes.”


“Then I’m not getting it,” Willow stage-whispered, her own heart pounding at the confident flirting.


Tara’s cheeks flushed with more color.


“Do you want to get a big pan of paella and share?”


“Oh, yeah, that sounds great,” Willow replied eagerly, “Oh, look there’s a Valencian one.”


She read the description, nodding her head.


“Chicken, vegetables, nice. …rabbit. Okay. That's fine. I'm open to new experiences…” she started to falter, then paled when she saw the final ingredient, “Snails.”


“Are you brave enough?” Tara challenged with a playfully seductive look.


“Yes,” Willow replied, sitting up straight at once as if to appear braver, “I eat snails all the time. I’m a regular escarglut.”


She motioned for the waiter.


“We will have a ‘tradicional Valencian paella’ to share,” she read off the menu, “EXTRA snails.”


She nodded to Tara as if to say ‘beat that’, and Tara just smiled demurely.


“Caracoles adicionales,” the waiter confirmed with a nod.


He took their menus and left. Tara lifted her glass.


“Cheers.”


“¡Salud!” Willow replied, whipping out some of her guidebook Spanish.


They clinked glasses and took a sip, and Tara smiled across the table.


“So, I have to know. How did you get to be standing five feet away from me at one of the weirdest festivals in the Northern Hemisphere?”


Willow suddenly became shy.


“Kinda because of you.”


Tara’s smile grew curious.


“Now you have to tell me.”


Willow drew a small circle on the table with her finger as a distraction while she spoke.


“Well…when I went back to collect my flower crown I had every intention of seeing if you’d like to go on a date with me.”


“You did?” Tara asked tenderly, heart fluttering.


Willow nodded.


“And the woman there, your boss. She told me you’d had to pack up and ship home because, well, you know.”


She looked up to meet Tara’s eyes.


“You’d been so sweet. You’re so cute, I really liked you. I’d never liked anyone that much, that soon. I was so mad at myself for not asking you out when I had the chance, and I was so sad for you having your whole life turned upside down in an instant.”


She paused, just to give the moment some reverence.


“So I brooded for a few days over Thanksgiving with my family. Over my mom telling me what to do every second. And I just had this like ‘screw this’ epiphany. Stop being afraid to live. To look silly, to disappoint your mother, to feel scared. Stop missing opportunities.”


She blew out some air.


“So I made a Fuck It list.”


Tara was taking a sip of wine and had to bring her hand to her mouth to stop from spewing it in laughter. She recovered, though the smile remained.


“What’s on it?”


Willow smiled wider.


“Lots of things, the typical stuff. Big and little. I held a spider, then a snake. I painted a real picture, even though it looks like a 5 year old did it. I hung it in my house because ‘fuck it’, I did and I’m proud.”


Tara made a ‘right on’ motion, which made Willow supremely happy.


“I went sky-diving, I went abseiling. I try to have conversations with strangers if the situation allows it. I sing karaoke, badly, but regularly. I volunteered for Meals on Wheels and made lots of great older, friends. I went to Pride in San Francisco and got to be an extra in a movie while I was there. I did a color run and went scuba diving. And the hardest one of all — I maintained a real conversation with my mother where I actually learned things about her and I hope shared some truths about myself too.”


Tara smiled in awe.


“That’s incredible. Really, that’s a wonderful attitude to life.”


Willow shrugged bashfully.


“It’s not as wild as it sounds. A few hours a week or random Saturday afternoon adventures, the occasional overnight trip. Coming here is as crazy as it’s gotten, but I’ve been planning to come to Europe for a while. 95% of my life is in my boring lab coat or my boring bathrobe. Occasionally my boring Wonder Woman cape if dress-up is necessitated.”


Tara’s eyebrow lifted and Willow’s cheeks flamed.


“You know,” she said, clearing her throat, “Like Comic-Con or something.”


“That doesn’t sound boring in the slightest,” Tara replied teasingly, “You got the whole outfit?”


Willow went as red as Tara’s tomato soft toy, and Tara let her flounder for a moment before giving her a reprieve.


“So what do you do in your lab coat?”


Willow took a moment to compose herself and drink some wine to calm her nerves, and to dampen the new pictures flashing through her mind.


“I’m a research assistant in the physics department of the university. Thrilling, I know.”


“It is if you love it,” Tara replied sweetly, “So, my best friend got me onto this game…what’s your best physicist pick up line?”


Willow adopted her best flirty look.


“Wanna dance? I can really put your inertia in motion.”


Tara giggled and it made Willow want to too. She just wanted them to be a pair of giggling schoolgirls who occasionally, nay often, made out in her bedroom.


“What’s yours? Do botanists have pick-up lines?”


Tara leaned her chin on her fist and looked across the table with suggestively raised eyebrows.


“Come closer and I can put your tulips and my tulips together.”


Willow’s eyes glazed over.


Mmm, yes please.


They made goo eyes across the table for a moment until the waiter shower up with the paella pan and set it in the middle of the table. A waitress came from behind and placed plates and silverware on each of their sides.


“Buen provecho.”


“This looks…good,” Willow said, avoiding looking at the snails, “Smells great!”


Tara let Willow serve herself and then plated some up on hers.


“So you’ve become a solo world adventurer.”


Willow shook her head.


“Not exactly. My friends come with me sometimes. It was Buffy who’s been encouraging me to do all this stuff. She’s fun and wild and I’ve always been boring and bookish.”


“And how long have you known Buffy?” Tara asked, her tone slightly cagey, which she kicked herself for.


“Since high school,” Willow answered, “If you can get each other through the trauma of high school, you’ve got a friend for life!”


Tara felt stupid for reacting the way she had internally. What a reflex for someone she just barely knew.


“So she’s not…a girlfriend?”


Willow looked at Tara seriously.


“I would never have kissed you if I had a girlfriend. I’m not that kinda girl,” she reassured, “And besides, I haven’t been interested in dating lately. I’ve been doing me.”


She grew a fresh shade of pink.


“Uh, not like that,” she said quickly, and shoveled some chicken and/or rabbit into her mouth to stop her saying something else.


“Well if you’re ever in need I have a friend who owns an adult store downtown,” Tara replied, feeling more and more overt with her teasing with every passing mouthful of wine.


Willow swallowed quickly.


“The Magic Box?”


Tara nodded as she chewed, then wiped her mouth with a napkin.


“Oh, you know it huh?”


“Not as a customer!” Willow replied quickly, “—wait!"


Her mouth hung open for a moment.


“…Anya is your friend?!” she asked incredulously, “Okay…trying not to judge you…”


Tara blinked several times.


You know Anya?”


“I’ve known Xander since kindergarten…he’s one of my best friends,” Willow explained.


“Xander is your best friend?” Tara asked in tone that pointedly mimicked Willow's a moment ago, “Okay…trying not to judge you…”


“He’s just a goof,” Willow defended.


“She’s just a loon,” Tara did the same.


Willow opened her mouth and closed it again quickly. She absolutely did not want this date to descend into a fight, and what Tara was said was reasonable, even as Anya-averse as she was.


“You know what? That’s fair,” she agreed apologetically, “Okay, so no judging of the best friends.”


Tara offered her hand across the table and Willow took it with a smile. She squeezed Tara's fingers.


“I can’t believe we never ran into each other.”


“Maybe we did and forgot,” Tara suggested.


Willow shook her head.


“I wouldn't forget you.”


She played with Tara’s fingers for a moment, then looked up quizzically.


“Wait— if you’re Anya’s best friend…why on earth didn’t you talk her out of that local TV spot she did?” she asked in disbelief, then adopted a tone meant to be mocking impersonation of Anya “I’m Anya Jenkins…”


“…and I can put the magic back in your box!” Tara finished alongside Willow in the same tone, and they both dissolved into fits of laughter.


Tara wiped tears from her eyes, chuckles still rising from her throat.


“It was awful,” she commented, “I tried. I really did. But after the time she slapped me in the face with The Intimidator 3000, I learned not to argue.”


Willow’s eyes widened in horror.


“I have not been acquainted with Mr. 3000 and I don’t think I want to be,” she said with a shudder, “Do you keep in touch?”


Tara nodded.


“Yes. She tried to get me on email but I never took to it. I can just about respond to a text message. I feel awkward on the phone, but she likes to call and bend my ear off, so I don’t have to speak much. I can deal with phone calls in work but I get anxious when it’s people I know. I know it sounds stupid.”


Willow nodded sympathetically.


“You’re talking to the former queen of social anxiety and awkwardness here. You don’t have to explain. But I gotta know, what do you and Anya even have in common to talk about in the first place?


Tara shrugged.


“Last time she was excited about tripling an investment and was talking about buying an antelope.”


Willow could only grin.


“Xander once asked me if Klingon Translator was a real job,” she replied, shaking her head, “I kinda wish it was too. Real jobs are a lot less exciting. But I guess even Klingon Translator would get boring after a while.”


“I love mine,” Tara replied with a warmth in her eyes, “It’ll be different, when I go home. I’ll be taking over the family business, running it myself. But I love being a provider of joy and color. Picking someone up when they need it or expressing gratitude or pleasure or love. I get to express so many things to so many people.”


Willow saw the love Tara had, but wondered about her education choices.


“Don’t take this the wrong way, but isn’t a trained botanist kinda overqualified to be a florist?”


Tara shrugged.


“I was always going to take over the store at home, by choice. So I did a degree that would help me make it as successful as possible or to branch out later on,” Tara replied, smiling at herself, “Sorry. Botanist joke. I minored in business.”


“You minored in business but you can't figure out the camera on your phone?” Willow teased.


“It was mostly ethics and management. I chose accounting electives instead, so I can do bookkeeping and office software,” Tara explained, blushing that Willow had remembered that, “They did show us internet communication, like email and stuff but I didn't really get it and everyone else did. Things would send before I was ready, or to the wrong person. I was embarrassed, everyone else our age just knows this stuff. Honestly I took a few lower grades just to avoid it. Not my proudest moments.”


Willow felt guilty for picking on a sensitive subject.


“Well I think it’s really impressive that you have your own business,” she complimented, “What’s it called?”


“The Flower Girl,” Tara replied fondly, “My grandmother was the original Flower Girl and then my Mom. Now it’s me.”


Willow felt the memory of the first time she saw Tara push to the front of her mind.


The flower girl is pretty.


She smiled.


“I love it.”


“Thank you,” Tara replied, then nodded down at the big pot, speared a snail and ate it, “Aren’t you going to have one of your favorites?”


“O-Of course,” Willow replied, feeling some sweat form on her brow.


Her hand holding the fork was shaking as she reached into the pot and took one of them. She brought it to her lips, clenching her teeth to stop the gag, then popped it in her mouth.


Her eyes widened and she immediately brought her napkin up to her mouth. She motioned wiping it while spitting it out, then pretend chewed and swallowed.


“Yum!” she said, avoiding the urge to cough, “But I wouldn’t want to be greedy. You have the rest, really.”


Before Tara could reply, Willow just continued on.


“So how long are you here?”


“Another five days. Enough time to see the city,” Tara replied, picking up another snail to eat. She knew Willow’s was in her napkin, but she figured she’d tortured her enough, “What about you? Do you have plans?”


Willow had lots of plans. Over her next ten days, she was going to get the train to Madrid, then on to Barcelona, hop over to Paris and get the Eurostar to London and then connect home from there.


There was so much to see, so much to do, so much she could pack into a trip she’d traveled so far to get to.


Yet she could not imagine a single thing that was worth missing seeing Tara smile again.


“I got nothing. Just, you know, seeing what should be seen.”


“If you want we could see things together,” Tara suggested with bashful hope.


Yes, Yes, YES.


“Yes,” Willow replied in a far more civilized outward tone, “I would like that very much.”


Their smiles matched in scope and brightness, teeth flashing flirtily at each other.


They spent the whole meal sneaking looks at each other and playing ‘accidental’ footsie, with neither brave enough to actually commit to trying it full-blown.


They chatted more about their jobs and lives, filling each other in on the reality of themselves, neither realizing that the other had wondered about it many times since their first meeting.


They finished their meal, with no more snails going Willow’s way, and spent another hour finishing the wine. Both were very chilled by the time they got up to leave, and some inhibitions had definitely lowered a notch or two. Another few minutes at that table and shoes would have definitely slipped off to find each other.


Their check came and they both reached for it. Willow got it by a hairsbreadth.


“Please. I insist. I did the asking, it's the rule.”


Tara accepted graciously.


“Thank you very much. I had a lovely evening.”


Willow didn’t want their night to end.


“So I’m not the world’s biggest partier,” she said as put her card in with the check, “But it seems a shame to have come all this way and gone through the whole festival to not experience a little bit of the after party.”


“What do you suggest?” Tara asked.


“We go the party block, I read where it is online,” Willow replied easily, “Grab a couple of seats outside, have a cocktail and embrace the atmosphere.”


Tara smiled.


“Let’s go.”


Willow settled the bill, chivalrously helped Tara into her jacket and went one step further than their walk to the restaurant by slipping her hand into Tara’s. She was rewarded when Tara hunched down just a tad to kiss her cheek.


Willow hailed them a cab to get them to the strip where the main after-parties were going on. They heard the music before they saw the streets, and felt the thump of it on the ground as stepped out of the car.


People were flowing out of the buildings and hanging over the upstairs roof terraces, where more music and was coming from.


Willow indicated that they’d go upstairs and they weaved through the crowds. People were more relaxed than the huddled dancers inside, and the soft lantern lighting was much easier on the eyes than the strobe lighting. There was a live DJ outside as well, playing some tranquil house beats.


They found a small table dotted in the opposite corner of the DJ, where they could speak a little more comfortably. It was just tucked away from the dance-floor, behind a plant so no one would accidentally stumble into them.


“Ligustrum ovalifolium,” Tara commented as she slipped her jacket onto the back of her chair.


It took Willow a moment to realize Tara was referencing the plant, and looked relieved.


“Oh, thank god, I thought you were cursing me with something from Harry Potter.”


Tara grinned across the table with her chin resting on her palm.


“That's funny actually, because it's also called a Privet hedge.”


Willow leaned in to whisper, so no one else would hear.


“I hope you know talking Harry Potter is basically talking dirty to me.”


Tara closed the gap and kissed Willow, lingering just enough to get them both tingling.


They parted with some quick pecks and each took a moment to savor it as they settled back in their seats.


“Um, what would you like?” Willow asked eventually, but Tara insisted in taking her wallet out.


“Let me get the drinks, please?”


Willow agreed with a grateful smile.


“Rum and coke, please.”


Tara went to get them drinks and returned with Willow’s drink and a martini for herself.


Tara seemed to be responding to the spirits a bit more than Willow and had scooted almost the whole way across the table over the course of the drink.


She leaned in just a bit closer.


“Try your line on me.”


Willow was confused for a moment, but then remembered. She let her fingertips touch Tara’s.


“Wanna dance?” she asked, brushing her fingers against Tara’s hand, “I can really put your inertia in motion.”


Tara turned and offered her hand, which Willow took and brought her to the dance floor.


The music was not slow, but dancing under the moonlight was too romantic not to take advantage of. Their bodies pressed up close and they did a grinding version of a sway. Their faces hovered close and Willow could smell Tara’s sweet scent lifting to her nose. She was very turned on and brought her lips close to Tara’s ear.


“I never told you my second best pick-up line.”


Tara arched an eyebrow in question and Willow seductively moved her mouth to Tara’s other ear.


“That dress would look even better accelerating towards my bedroom floor at 9.81 m/s2.”


Willow had in fact, never used that line, ever. But damn if it wasn’t true in that moment.


Tara seemed to think so too.


“Wanna get away from this crowd?”


Willow just nodded and they made their way back down to hail a cab. There was much chaste kissing between stretched seatbelts and a very generous tip for the driver as Willow handed him the first bill her hand came across.


They walked into Tara’s B&B and down the hallway to her room, where she struggled for a moment with the key, but eventually got them inside.


Willow watched Tara stumble a little taking her jacket off and knew she wasn’t in any state to do anything more that night.


She was glad, really— well, most of her was. Apart from a little triangular protest, she didn’t want to take Tara to bed like this. It wasn't something to rush into, right now. Not with alcohol. Not with someone as amazing as Tara. Nothing should taint that.


“You’re a little drunk, honey,” she said softly.


“Just a little,” Tara admitted with a drunken smile.


Willow smiled at how cute she was.


“Let’s get breakfast together tomorrow,” she suggested, then thought Tara might want to sleep a bit longer the next morning, “Um, maybe brunch. Is that okay?”


“I’d love to,” Tara agreed.


She was tipsy, but plenty coherent and appreciated that Willow was looking out for her.


Willow went to the desk and scribbled a note with the notepad provided.


“Brunch with Willow — 11 o’clock. I’ll come get you. Okay?”


“I’ll be ready,” Tara promised.


Willow picked up her purse again and kissed Tara gently.


“Bye. I had a great day, today. The best. See you tomorrow.”


She left, Tara watching her leave the whole way.


Tara lay back on the bed with a delightful rush of blood to the head, and then as she felt her lips tingle remembering Willow's kiss, an even more delightful one a little lower.


She fell asleep in that spot, as content as she had been in a long time.


Image


Willow snuck up behind Tara and put her hands over her eyes.


“Guess who?”


Tara pretended to think about it.


“Blossie?”


Willow’s heart did flips. She absolutely adored the little nickname Tara had adopted for her. Knowing its origins and hearing Tara say it with such affection really hit home to Willow that Tara had felt their initial connection as much as she had. The way it had just inadvertently slipped out the first time Tara said it, without her even noticing, and how Tara had just kept saying it without them even needing to discuss it, just made it feel so natural and special between them.


That connection was so palpable.


And in their intervening days together, it had only grown.


“Got it in one,” she confirmed and turned Tara around to offer a sweet kiss.


She just loved kissing Tara.


She’d kissed her good morning every day when they met for breakfast, and goodnight every evening outside her place. She then went back to her hotel to recount everything in her journal. She knew she’d come to appreciate having those memories written down in vivid detail.


Neither of them mentioned how they’d left each other the first night and hadn’t tried to push into each other’s rooms either. They were just enjoying building their bond.


Instead, they’d had the most wonderful days exploring the city together. They’d visited all the parks, central squares and botanical gardens, where Willow had gotten history lessons on all of the different kinds of plants. Then they spent a day at the ‘City of Arts and Sciences’ which was a series of futuristic looking buildings full of science exhibits, a 3D cinema, a mini oceanarium and even an opera house. It was Willow’s turn to show off while they were there, explaining how some of the displays worked and to tell Tara about the kind of work she did.


Neither of them had had any interest in the others’ field before they’d met, but could have listened to one another speak for hours.


They’d visited the markets where they’d shared great food and exchanged opinions on crafts, gone cycling along the river and spent an afternoon at the beach with much sneaked gazes at the other in their bathing suits.


They’d packed a lot into their few days together and Willow hadn’t regretted not following her original plans for a second.


On their second last night, over dinner, Tara had expressed a desire to go strawberry picking and Willow had gone online and surprised her that morning, their last day together, with tour bus tickets.


They’d had a wagon ride around the farm and told about the farming methods by an adorable older Spanish man with broken English. Then they had been given baskets to rove the fields with, and while Willow’s was getting full, Tara seemed to just be checking out the plants and leaving them without disruption.


“Did you know strawberries aren’t technically berries?” Willow said, showing off a fact without thinking it through.


Tara looked up with a smile.


“I did know that.”


Willow blushed.


“Right. Botanist,” she said, clearing her throat, “Well what can you tell me about them, then?”


Tara finally plucked a strawberry, a particularly plump one.


“They’re a member of the rose family.”


Tara lifted the strawberry under her nose.


“Do they smell as sweet?” Willow questioned.


Tara looked up through her eyelashes and her tone dropped seductively.


“Some people say they’re an aphrodisiac.”


She offered the strawberry to Willow, who took a bite and stained her lips with juice.


Tara leaned in and bit the other half, pressing her lips to Willow’s in the process. She licked the juice from Willow’s bottom lip.


“I tend to agree.”


Willow felt a throb between her legs.


“Gonna go…box up my strawberries!”


She ran back down the field to dump her basket of strawberries into a box to carry home in. Tara wasn’t far behind her, so Willow ran into the bathroom to clean up and cool down.


When she came back out, their bus had pulled up and she couldn’t see Tara, so figured she was on board. She walked up the steps and spotted her in a middle row.


Tara smiled when she saw her and lifted the box in her lap.


“Got your strawberries.”


“Thanks,” Willow replied, sitting in beside her, “Want one? I didn’t see you pick any.”


“I just like to see them grow,” Tara answered, but took an offered strawberry from the box.


Willow folded the top back on the box and they both dipped in and out of it.


Tara rested her head against the seat to look out the window for the journey home. She really loved the abundance of beautiful parks in the city.


“I really want to be able to import flowers from here someday,” she said with a soft sigh, “I won't be able to at the beginning, but someday… Just have to get off the ground first.”


“Will you have people to help out?” Willow asked, “You know, in the beginning?”


Tara shrugged one shoulder.


“I have friends I went to school with,” she explained, “But we’re not close like the friends I made in college. I wouldn’t ask them. I wouldn't ask anyone, really, unless I hired them. It's my responsibility.”


“No family?” Willow inquired.


Tara shook her head.


“Grandparents all died before I was a teenager,” she said, turning her head to Willow, “My parents split when I was in high school. My father did not react as well to me coming out as my mom did.”


Willow looked sympathetic and squeezed Tara’s hand.


“He went back to his first wife and their son, who he pretty much abandoned when he married my mom, even though my mom tried to encourage them to have a relationship,” Tara replied dismissively, “He’s a jackass. He didn’t even come to her funeral or acknowledge it in any way.”


Willow linked their fingers.


“I’m so sorry,” she said, resting her chin on Tara’s shoulder, “Kind of the opposite for me. Neither of my parents were happy about it, but my dad went right to ‘I guess there’s nothing I can do about it’ acceptance while my mom is still stuck firmly in denial.”


She sighed too.


“For now.”


“The future always has hope,” Tara advised optimistically.


Willow smiled.


“Yeah. It does.”


She tenderly nuzzled Tara's shoulder.


“And if she wasn't so…her. I never would have met you. I'll always be grateful for that.”


She leaned in and stole a kiss, delighting in Tara's smile. She settled her head back in on Tara's shoulder and closed her eyes.


Next thing she knew there was a light tickling on her cheek. Her eyes blinked a few times and she realized they had been heavy with sleep. She felt Tara’s palm flatten against her and a light tickle on the back of her ear lobe as she was coaxed awake.


“We’re back, Willow.”


Willow sat up slowly and looked around, seeing people disembarking the bus.


“Oh.”


She hadn’t remembered falling asleep. She just remembered feeling happy and warm and sleep had followed.


She stood up and stretched, oblivious to how she was making Tara feel by showing a strip of her stomach as her shirt rode up. She grabbed the now empty box of strawberries, crushed it and tossed it in the trash container by the front of the bus.


Tara followed behind her, trying to control her hormones.


They walked out of the bus terminal and away from the crowds.


“Do you want to get an early dinner or go for a walk or do something beforehand?” Willow asked, hoping to drag out their last day as much as possible.


Just as Tara opened her mouth to speak, the heavens opened as well and they were caught in a sudden torrential downpour of rain.


“Where the hell did that come from?!” Willow shouted, ripping her sweater off so she could put it above Tara’s head, not that it was much use.


Tara pointed in the opposite direction.


“My place is closest!”


They both turned and started to run down the street and then weaved between two side streets they’d gotten to know quite well, to get to Tara’s B&B.


Tara fished her keys out and let them in, where they both immediately sped into the bathroom to spare the carpet the dripping of water from their absolutely drenched clothing.


They were both panting from the run and their clothes were stuck to them. They were twice as wet as they had been even when they were hosed down after the tomato fight.


Willow looked on and her breath caught as the curves and swells of Tara’s body were revealed as familiarly as she'd even seen.


She caught Tara’s eye.


“I’ve never been so wet in my entire life.”


Tara kept Willow’s gaze.


“You should get out of those wet clothes.”


Willow’s heart was pounding but she wasn’t going to let this opportunity go by. She wasn't just going to 'fuck it', she was going to fuck her and she was going to give herself over entirely to it.


“Can you help?”


Tara didn’t waste another second. She grabbed a fistful of Willow’s wet t-shirt and pulled her the distance between them. Their lips crushed together hungrily and neither were shy anymore; they were ripping each other’s clothes off without a care or ounce of timidity between them.


Tara reached into the shower to turn the spray on and pulled Willow in under it with her. She grabbed Willow’s cheeks and kissed her with an intensity that she’d never displayed before.


The warm water flowed down their bodies and made their skin prick with goosebumps from the change in temperature.


The water could have been lava for how molten Willow was feeling inside. Her hands finally found their place on Tara's body, learning how she felt under a delicate touch.


Tara’s mouth dropped into Willow’s neck and tasted her skin. Their breasts pressed against each other and they moaned in the same low, guttural frequency.


Willow’s hand dropped to palm Tara’s breast, feeling the nipple harden under her touch. Her thumb rolled it, then pinched it and she felt Tara’s body tremble.


Her hand reached out, turned the shower knob off and then grabbed Tara’s hand. She pulled her out of the bathroom and over to the bed, pushing her down gently.


She took a moment to drink in Tara’s wet, prone body. Her dark nipples stood prominently against her pink skin and her golden curls looked like honey. Willow was sure she’d taste as sweet.


She climbed on top of Tara and kissed her first, then slowly lowered her body. Section by section, so she could really appreciate each new touch of skin.


Tara’s eyelids fluttered with pleasure as Willow’s thighs slid against hers. Her tongue sought greater contact and pushed into Willow’s mouth. Her hand slid into Willow’s hair and held her there, never wanting to do anything ever again but kiss Willow’s soft, sweet lips.


They spent a long time kissing, not because neither wanted to do more, just because they were enjoying it so damn much. Still, their bodies were rubbing and gliding and there was only so much aching they could take.


Willow began kissing down Tara’s body, taking her time and paying special attention that every single bit of skin got the attention it deserved. When she got to the apex of Tara’s thighs, she nuzzled her nose there first.


She got that intoxicating scent and felt her stomach flip. She let her tongue stroke Tara’s lips before gently parting them to attend to the extra sensitive skin. Her first taste was dizzying and the most erotic thing she’d ever experienced.


Low crying moans escaped from Tara’s mouth as Willow’s head bobbed between her legs. Her toes curled into the sheets alongside Willow's ass, and her hips thrust gently but at regular speed.


Her back arched many times and she could have let Willow finish her off, in probably a minute or less. Instead she sat up a little, pushing Willow back in the process and took her face in her hands again to plant a kiss on her.


They rolled back onto the bed and their legs tangled together, opening each other up. Tara cupped Willow’s butt and enjoyed a little squeezing before moving around to probe her wetness.


“Are you sensitive?” she asked softly as her fingertips gently coaxed through Willow’s lips.


Willow shook her head.


“No, you can…” she trailed off as Tara rolled over her clit with a lighter pressure, that gradually grew more and more firm, “Mmhm. Uh huh. Yeah, like that. Just like that.”


Willow moaned as Tara kissed her neck again in all those wonderfully sensitive spots that she didn’t even know she had and Tara just seemed to be able to find.


Her hand nestled between Tara’s legs and worked her up until she was slick.


“Can I?”


“Yes,” Tara breathed.


Willow entered her and heard a gravely groan and felt teeth indentations on her shoulder blade.


“Can I?” Tara whispered back, voice so low and throaty that Willow almost came on the spot.


“God yes,” Willow groaned and arched her leg some more to make it easier.


Willow felt those wonderfully long fingers she’d spent so much time linked with fill her inside. She bit her bottom lip and held Tara in deeply.


“That feels so good.”


“You feel so good,” Tara echoed.


They resumed kissing and spent a few moments finding a comfortable rhythm. Once they locked that in, they moved in sync with swallowed moans and electricity crackling through the air.


Pure passion passed between them, mussing their hair and replacing the evaporated water droplets with sweat of exertion. Their bodies tingled as they brushed off each other and their mouths just could not get enough.


Neither wanted to be the one to come first, but were also struggling not to give in to the wonderful waves of pleasure.


Willow felt the first shudder and made herself clench to stop it. She heard Tara’s noise of enjoyment when she did that and liked it very much.


“C’mere,” she said, pulling them as close as possible, “You wanna try to come together?”


Tara nodded, eyes glazed.


“Oh yes.”


Willow rested her forehead on Tara’s and resumed what she was doing, adding in some squeezes when she could see it was aiding Tara’s enjoyment.


“Are you close?”


“Yes,” Tara panted, “Yes.”


Willow pressed her lips to Tara’s and she couldn’t stop it anymore, it broke from within her and filled her with that incomparable wave of warmth.


Feeling and seeing Willow’s orgasm was rocket fuel for Tara, who turned her head in to bite the pillow so she didn’t embarrass herself with a loud scream.


It wasn’t perfectly simultaneous but it was pretty close and that was more than satisfying.


Their sticky bodies broke apart but didn’t get too far from each other. Their hands met between them while they regained breath.


Willow eventually just let out a long, satisfied moan.


“Wow.”


“You too?” Tara grinned, quite pleased with herself with her hair stuck to her brow.


Willow nodded while blowing out a puff of air.


“Oh yeah.”


She turned her head towards Tara, then rolled onto her stomach. She left some butterfly kisses on Tara’s collarbone and up into her neck, nuzzling there. She breathed into Tara’s ear and felt the smallest of shudders, only perceptible because they were so close.


“That was amazing.”


She bumped her nose into Tara’s and spent a long time kissing her lips so she’d remember them always.


“You're amazing, Willow,” Tara answered in a whisper between kisses.


After a little while of just relaxing together in silence, Tara’s hand began to run over the comforter beneath them.


“The blanket is wet. I should hang it out on the balcony to dry.”


Willow made a scrunched up face.


“Would that involve getting up?”


Tara’s crooked smile shone through.


“Eventually.”


“Then I'm coming out firmly against it,” Willow replied definitively.


Tara patted the blanket. It wasn’t that wet and would dry out long before they had to vacate it for good. Still, she enjoyed teasing Willow and pulled the same scrunched up face Willow had earlier.


“What about the blanket’s nasty wetness?”


Willow caught Tara’s eye and slid her hand down her stomach, close to her thighs.


“Well, I'm kinda busy working on my own.”


She slid over on top of Tara and looked down seductively.


“And yours.”


They spent the rest of the afternoon and evening within the confines of those four corners of the bed, appreciating each other’s closeness in various ways.


As the sun dipped lower and the sky turned a lovely shade of indigo, Tara was enjoying discovering the bumps and lines of Willow’s fingers up close as she played with them on the pillow.


“We should get some dinner,” she commented, but didn’t sound very committed to the idea.


Willow was quite content to lie there and have her fingers be played with. She didn’t want to move either.


“Do you want to do the most American thing in the world and order a pizza?”


Tara had to admit that that actually sounded pretty good.


“At least find somewhere local and not Dominos or whatever.”


Willow nodded. She tried to reach out for her purse but it was abandoned on the floor too far away.


“You have to lean with me because I’m not letting go.”


Tara obliged and they scooted to the edge together so Willow could get her phone. They lay back together and Willow silently browsed on her phone.


“Don’t you just love all these new apps? 40 different restaurants at my fingertips, delivered in two clicks and 20 minutes, all in a foreign country.”


Tara shook her head.


“Not really. My phone is mostly just decoration. I haven’t even turned it on since I got here.”


“Right,” Willow replied with a grin, “The depressing spelling.”


“You remember that?” Tara asked, touched.


Willow leaned over to kiss Tara’s lips.


“You sure know how to leave an impression.”


They shared another kiss but it was short-lived as Willow had to get up again.


“I have to pee this time so I think we’ll have to let go.”


Tara released Willow’s hand and enjoyed watching her shuffle off.


She looked down at herself and shook her head in disbelief.


She never did things like this, but she never did anything like she had with Willow that vacation.


She’d never embraced something so freely, never lived so much in the moment. Never just allowed herself to feel happy without worrying about the consequences.


Willow came skipping back out and Tara felt that lightness in her heart; the fanciful flutter that caught her off-guard every time.


Willow spotted Tara’s mom's toy tomato and giggled at the anthropomorphic facial features.


She flopped belly-down on the bed, holding it.


“Who’s this?”


“My mom bought her here when she went to La Tomatina in the 80s,” Tara explained, playing with the worn tag at the side of the toy, “She always just sat on a bookshelf with some pictures, but one day when I was five or six I asked about her.”


Tara lay down again so they were closer.


“My mom was teaching me all about the plants we were growing and she told me about running through the sea of tomatoes and all about the tomato plants we had. She told me about lycopene, so we decided to call her Lycopenny,” she said, smiling softly, then with a devilish grin, “Lycopenelope when she’s in trouble.”


Willow laughed.


“That’s so cute,” she intoned, turning it around and seeing the marks of age, “You brought her all the way here. She must be special.”


“My mom would get so happy when she would see her…remembering I guess,” Tara replied.


She took a moment, not wanting to misspeak or misrepresent her mother in any way.


“I think she felt pretty trapped in parts of her life. Her marriage, her illness. And this reminded her of that freedom,” she said eventually, “She slept with her every night from the diagnoses until…”


She paused and inhaled a breath, exhaling it slowly.


“So, yeah. She’s special.”


Willow nuzzled Tara's cheek.


“Just like you.”


They kissed again, never missing an opportunity. Not when their time was so short.


Neither were going to mention it, but they would savor every last second that day and night brought.


Image


Willow awoke in the warmth of Tara’s sheets, but with a distinct lack of actual Tara.


She jolted up and looked around the small room. It had been tidied and removed of any trace of Tara. Her clothes were gone, her bags were gone. Her shoes, her purse and when Willow got up to check, her toothbrush too.


Willow sank back onto the bed, looking around in disbelief.


Finally, on the nightstand opposite to where she’d woken up, she saw a piece of paper, a key to the room, and Lycopenny sitting guarding it all.


Her hands reached out and snapped up the piece of paper.


I’m sorry.

I just couldn’t say goodbye.

I know I’m a coward.

I didn’t want to leave you alone, so I left you Penny.
I know you’ll take care of her.

Please don’t misinterpret it as me not caring.

I’ve never cared more.

This wasn’t a vacation fling.

This has been the best week of my life.

I wish it could have been more.

You’re beautiful, smart, sweet and kind.

I fell for you hard.

And I think once you fall for Willow, you stay fallen.



Willow stared at the words, her mouth agape. They’d stayed up until sun-up, so Tara must have slipped out soon after she’d fallen asleep. Her heart ached imagining the kiss Tara would have pressed on her forehead, the last longing look before leaving.


She felt like her insides were emptying out onto the floor, until she suddenly gasped in a breath of air when she saw pen marks on the other side of the page. Her hands twisted the letter around and immediately the address written on the top jumped out at her as if it was written in highlighter and glitter instead of light blue pen.


Write me?
If you want to.
I’d love to hear from you.
Take care, Blossie.
You’re worth it.

Yours,
Tara ♡ xx



Willow exhaled a shaking breath of relief and emotion.


She wasn't mad. She didn't want to say goodbye either. She would have cried, and it probably would have been snotty, and that was not the last image she wanted to leave Tara with. She didn’t need that exchange to know what passed between them.


If she didn’t, Tara leaving her with Penny told her everything she needed to know. That toy would travel in her lap the entire rest of the trip, just so she’d know she could return it safely.


She immediately took a photo of Tara’s address and sent to her work email, her personal email, the cloud and to her own Facebook messenger account so she would never lose it. She wiped her eyes free of the tears that had sprung and kissed where Tara had signed her name with a heart and two kisses.


Our tulips.


She giggled to herself with her still shiny eyes. She couldn’t help but remember what Tara had said to her the day before.


The future always has hope.


Image


Willow had condensed her ten day trip around Europe into her five remaining days.


It had been jam-packed with sight-seeing and traveling, which gave her ample time to consider everything that had happened with Tara.


It was on the train from Paris to London that she finally been able to put pen to paper and write her first letter.


Tara,

First of all, you’re not a coward. The dictionary says a coward is 'a person who is contemptibly lacking in the courage to do or endure dangerous or unpleasant things'. You’ve endured a lot and come through it still shining the sweetest smile, so you’re clearly wrong. You’re not going to argue with the dictionary, are you? That would be most injudicious! (I may have gotten hooked on a word-of-the-day app).

I hope you got home safely, and had a nice journey. I will return Penny to you safe and sound. Thank you for trusting me with her. She’s been seeing the sights with me. She thought the Eiffel Tower was cool, but did not enjoy the French cheese. She was not swayed by my argument of cheese and tomato being a match made in heaven. She also thought some of the French people were snooty but I told her she was a Spanish tomato and should know better than to be xenophobic to her neighbors.

I’m so happy you left me your address. I don’t think I’ve written a letter since the 90s, but now I'm so excited to. I thought it was kind of pointless, but having your letter, with those words you wrote yourself…that means a lot. Those words mean a lot.

And I feel the same.

I’m on my way to London, then back home to reality. I hope we can stay in touch. I want to tell you all the places I've seen. I want to know how you're doing.

Plus I’ll need a reprieve from the boring lab coat. Somehow skydiving doesn’t seem like it will have the same effect now I know the thrill of your kisses.

My address is on the back, in case you ripped the envelope and if there's some letter mishap, you can always write me at the university. I just really want to hear from you.

Yours,
Willow ♡ xx



Image


Tara could hardly believe it when the envelope rattled through her letterbox less than a week after she’d gotten home, with a postmark from England.


She’d thought, if Willow even wrote to her at all — if she wasn’t furious for the way Tara had up and left — that it’d be a few weeks or even months down the line. She mostly thought she’d probably be forgotten about when she couldn’t even provide a convenient, modern way to keep in contact.


She’d been afraid to open it at first; had turned it over several times and spent an age carefully ripping the top open so as to preserve the address just in case.


She must have read the letter a hundred times without moving from that spot. Her smile only grew with each refresh. She laughed and cried until she was just a sitting ball of happiness.


Then she brought out her legal pad and immediately penned a response.


Image


Their letters became quick and fast between them, turning around a couple a week.


Each grew excited to go home at the end of the day to see if one was sitting on the floor. Tara would doodle designs on the envelopes or draw little flipbooks and include petals or small flowers as decoration. Willow added in some photos she got printed especially with her own captions and, in response to Tara’s art, tried her hand at some small, often silly, poems.


Apart from that, the envelopes were stuffed with pages.


They told each other about their work; Tara about trying to reopen the store and Willow about her latest research projects, the ones she was free to talk about anyway.


They told each other about friends they’d met; about movies they saw; about funny things they witnessed when out and about. Meals, clothes, TV. No matter how mundane, if it raised a chuckle or a smile, they told each other.


Anything of any note was remembered to tell the other later. Every worry shared and reassured, even if it took three days to return.


Though their affection for each other was clear in their ever present need to share their lives, both had shied away from saying anything overtly romantic or sexual. It was just too hard when they longed to even be able to hold hands.


The only thing that lingered was their ‘tulip’ sign-off and unbeknownst to each other, both of them closed their eyes and imagined those kisses each and every time they read them.


Eventually, as all feelings buried deep inside tend to do, it started to creep out again.


The tenderness…


…have you thought about an online presence?
I know it’s not your thing, but you at least need a website these days.
I could help you.
I could even chat with Anya about e-commerce and we could come up with a plan for you…



…I'm looking into classes.
I'm finally getting that there's no way I can run this business without the internet.
Nobody even takes orders over the phone any more, my supply is so limited.
So yes, I would so appreciate that.
But you’d, willingly, not only stay in a room with Anya but hold a whole conversation?…



…yes, I’d do that for you, dummy.
Are you getting it yet?
I’d do anything for you…



…you don't know how much I—
Anything I can ever do for you.
I will do.
All I need is to know you're happy…



And then the attraction…


…it was really warm today.
I had to come home at lunch to take a cold shower.
Of course I’ve kind of gotten used to them lately.
You can't just tell me you went swimming and not tell me what your bathing suit looked like.
My imagination can be dangerous.
Was it the red one you wore in Spain?
That's the one I thought about…



…I thought about you today when I was designing some wreathes.
I drew in some orange roses and yellow daisies like I put in your flower crown.
It reflected your hair so nicely.
You looked beautiful.
You look beautiful.
You just are.
You're the most gorgeous woman I've ever known…



…hey, I have a new one for you, but I thought it up just for you:
If you were a flower, you'd be a damn-delion.
If that wasn't corny enough to send you running, nothing will.
But damn, Tara. You don't even know how stunning you are…



…I feel so empty inside when I feel your absence.
And I don't just mean emotionally.
I hope you know how much your letters mean to me.
I hope you know how you make my heart sing…



Until all that was left was love.


After months of writing and over fifty letters exchanged between them, Willow couldn’t take it anymore.


If Tara’s heart sung for her, Willow wanted to make it a duet.


She sat down with her nicest pen and took time to perfect every stroke, wanting Tara to feel the care she put into it as she read.


…reading your letters is highlight of my whole life.
I read them until my eyes are raw.
Until I’ve memorized the flick of every letter.
Until I can go to sleep imagining you speaking every word to me.

I want to hear you call me Blossie again.
I want to see your smile pull your lips up in one corner and light up your whole face.
I want to know the curves of your body the way I know that the bottom point of your 'S' veers right when you're excited.

I think I love you, Tara.

I know I do.

Can we try this?

I want to make it work, however possible.

I want to be the first thing your mouth touches in the morning
Instead of your coffee cup’s ceramic lip
I want to turn and see your smile without warning
I don’t care if I have to take many a trip

The first time I saw you I knew
I wanted to be stuck to you like glue
So if you love me too
Then let’s make this thing true

Here's my phone number, if you want to speak properly.

You don’t have to feel awkward.

I don't care if you're quiet for a while, or need to take a break, or whatever you have to do.

I just want to hear your voice.

But I can wait for a letter.

You are worth waiting for.

You are worth everything for.

Yours

Your(I am. I so am.) Willow ♡ xx



Image


A few days passed with nothing.


Then a week, no response.


Two weeks with zero contact.


Three weeks of silence.


Willow had begun to worry that something had happened to Tara and had searched for newspaper articles for any accidents. She even went to Anya to ask if she’d been in touch.


Xander answered the door and after some pleasantries, Willow asked if Anya was around.


“Oh she’s talking to that girl you both know,” Xander had said cluelessly, “Will I get her? Do you have to talk shop?”


That was a sucker punch to the gut. Tara was fine. Her phone worked. Her hands clearly worked. She was just ignoring her. Ignoring her declaration. Ignoring her plea, for some reason.


Freaked out, disgusted, annoyed, Willow had no idea. But none of the possibilities were good.


Willow made an excuse to leave and went back down to her car. She slammed the door and dropped her head against the steering wheel.


Once again stuck in that driver's seat; sad, dejected and angry at herself over her feelings for Tara Maclay.


Image


Willow got through another brooding Thanksgiving with her parents and thanked Yahweh Hanukkah wasn’t for another month this year.


She was still stung by Tara’s rejection, and stunned that her Tara — well that was a delusion, wasn't it? — that not-her-Tara, whom she thought she knew so well could be so cruel.


Willow would have understood 'sorry, I can't'.


'Sorry, it's too hard'.


Even 'Not sorry, but I'm just not into it anymore, go away'.


Anything. Just a response.


The Saturday morning after Thanksgiving, Willow was enjoying a pot of coffee and reading on her window seat. The doorbell rang but she was in no mood for entertaining, so she ignored it.


There was only a brief pause before it went again, then a third time. She knew her friends would have just called her by now, so she went to answer it, hoping it might be some girl scouts. Some Tagalongs would complement her misery wonderfully right now.


She opened the door, unprepared for what was on the other side.


Tara was standing there, holding an envelope in one hand and a mini-bouquet in the other, shaped like a heart with a red outline and white in the middle. It was the inversion of colors Willow had chosen for her a little more than a year ago but with a much more expressive shape.


Willow stood there, her mouth agape.


“Tara.”


Tara stepped forward nervously.


“I-I am so sorry I haven’t been in touch.”


Willow blinked several times and finally met Tara’s eye.


“What…?”


“I didn’t want to send you this and then leave you hanging for weeks. Or get your hopes up. Or lie to you until I knew…” Tara explained holding the envelope out prominently, though it didn’t help Willow understand any better, “I wanted to be certain of my plans. I wanted to be able to offer this wholly and without restriction. I wanted to give everything. I want that. I'm giving you that. And you said I was worth waiting for, so I hoped you could forgive me.”


Willow’s brow creased, so Tara handed her the envelope. It was fully addressed and stamped to her. She turned it over and opened it, pulling the sheet of paper inside out.


Right in the middle were the only four words on the whole page.


I love you too.



Willow felt a lump form in her throat and her heart started to pound.


She looked back up at Tara, who she noticed had shaking hands.


“So I decided to hand deliver it.”


She then shyly thrust the bouquet forward.


“Along with the first delivery from The Flower Girl’s new soon-to-be-opened location.”


Willow's letter had been the final push Tara needed to decide she was coming back. She had been lonely before her mother even died, without her close friends. She had a lot of competition and the business had lost customers during the illness. Then Anya had told her the old store she worked at had closed when her old boss had retired, leaving an opportunity in the market.


Tara had trusted in fate in Spain and she'd realized it was time to do it again.


The Flower Girl was not a building. It was her. She earned the title and she could take it wherever she wanted.


And she wanted to be with Willow.


And Willow wanted to be with her, judging by the tears of joy that were springing to her eyes.


“You mean…?” she asked, her voice cracking.


Tara nodded, smiling vulnerably.


“I mean.”


She took another step forward, heart hammering.


“I love you, Blossie.”


She looked at Willow hopefully, who was beaming behind her wet eyes.


“Do you still want—”


Willow grabbed a fistful of Tara’s shirt and pulled them together, the exact same way Tara had done to her in the bathroom in Spain all those months ago. Their kiss reclaimed each other and marked the start of a new beginning.


The bouquet was crushed between their bodies, though neither noticed as the petals floated down to their feet.


They would be picked up and preserved later, as a reminder that love blossoms when you remember to water the soul.

Image

The End

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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Thu Jun 29, 2017 7:43 pm 
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11. Fish in the Bowl

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Laragh . . . this was epic. Tender . . nuanced . . full of rich detail and tiny intimate moments. Love it.


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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Thu Jun 29, 2017 9:58 pm 
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3. Flaming O
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Laragh,

Holy flutters...

Such a beautiful story. The fact that, in both living in the moment, they found each other really brings home the feeling of their meeting being fated.

You made my heart flutter more than a few times, their connection was palpable.

This was absolutely beautiful.

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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Fri Jun 30, 2017 8:29 am 
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10. Troll Hammer
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Laragh -


That was sooooo lovely. What a wonderful slow-burn romance.

I thought it was hilarious how you flipped Sheila's disdain for Thanksgiving (from the series) into an obsession for it. Making Willow play dress-up every year? AND forcing her to wear a flower crown as an ADULT. Hilarious and mortifying.

Tara was so sweet. I mean, isn't she always... but here her gentleness and sweetness was so palpable I wanted to reach through the screen and hug her.

Lemme just say.... I LOVED how Willow recognized that Tara couldn't fully give consent due to her being a bit drunk and chivalrously bid her goodnight. Because CONSENT IS SEXY.

Say it with me ya'll:

CONSENT

IS

SEXY

Yessssssss.

And the letters. Such a lost artform. Hear, hear, for Tara being a bit of a luddite. It made their long-distance romance so much more meaty and romantic.... and EARNED.

(Although, I'm glad that hand-written letters weren't a factor and my and my wife's courtship. She'd never have been able to read my atrocious handwriting!)

But, yes... just so much goodness. So much damn goodness.

You spoil us with your skill.

Now I'm going to my garden to trim a few roses... I'm in the mood for a fresh bouquet... for some reason.


Cheers!
DW

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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Fri Jun 30, 2017 9:26 am 
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Did I make it? I'm slightly over deadline (I know it got extended, but I had most of it written, so I wanted to try to make it anyway - plus, bonus points!) but it's still June in most of the world, so... I'd probably feel a bit more confident if I hadn't just scrolled through Laragh's epic-length entry, with left and right justified text, which seems an odd thing to focus on, but feels engaging even though I haven't read it yet (besides, certain things jump out when you're fast-scrolling). Whereas what I've got could more accurately be described as a slightly kooky idea worked into the form of a story that's a kind of half-way point between meet-cute and porn. But whatever, here we go. I shall return with feedback for the other two (so far) fics, once I've read them - I feel kind of like reading challenge fics while I'm still working on mine risks accidental cross-pollination.

Out Of Order


Author: Chris Cook
Email: alia@netspace.net.au
Rating: NC-17
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters are the property of Joss Whedon/Mutant Enemy.
Note: It’s mixed with other ideas but some of this definitely owes itself to Sally’s Squeeze These Plump Melons.
(And the ‘food fight’ is of the metaphorical variety. But the food is real.)
(And now I shall go start on the Lego sets I promised myself I wouldn't open until I had this finished. I love Willow and Tara more that the Lego Batman Ultimate Batmobile, and that's a really cool Batmobile, folks...)

Image


’Just five minutes.’ Suuure. Mrgh.

Willow’s office was warm, sunny, with a lovely corner view of the river winding its way through the city, and most days she ate lunch at her desk not because she was some joyless workaholic (okay workaholic a bit, but, joyful, definitely) but because she honestly liked it. So even though the plaza in front of the building was, by the standards of these things, quite pleasant - enough other office workers seemed to think so, since there was scarcely a seat free and the one next to her had had a new person sit in it as soon as it had been vacated twice already - she wasn’t glad to be there, and wouldn’t have been if the electrician who had taken apart part of her ceiling to fix a cabling issue hadn’t been at it for two hours longer than the no-time-at-all it had been supposed to take.

Deprived of her preferred habitat, she absorbed herself in reading the news on her phone, and (because I’m not a negative person) rearranging the chocolate chips stuck into the top of her lunch-dessert cupcake into a smiley face. That, she had decided a moment after sitting down, had been The Thing To Do, and now she was deliberately putting off eating it until the last minute before having to go back inside to attend the regular afternoon conference call-chat the higher echelons of management insisted the lower echelons partake in. She liked the smiley cupcake.

A suppressed chuckle from the person sitting next to her distracted her from the world on her phone, and she frowned.

What? Was that at me? She wasn’t sure if she should look, so she ventured a glimpse out of the corner of her eye, and decided that her dining companion of the moment was, indeed, looking at her plate, now bare but for the smiley.

What’s the big deal, it’s a cupcake with a face. Don’t be amused by me, I can make faces in my cupcakes all day and it’s no business of yours, random person.

You’re being silly, ignore him-slash-her. I think it’s a her. Peripheral vision being weird or no that’s a skirt beside me, I mean if you want to wear a skirt, him, hey, go for it, just guessing the most likely scenario, probably her. Your snide opinion of my cupcakery, mystery lady, matters not at all to me.

She rededicated herself to reading another few sentences, before a slight clearing of a throat caught her attention, and the plate in front of the stranger was shifted so as to be a little closer.

Willow glanced automatically, and saw several lengths of rigatoni had been arranged into, yes, a smiley face. Surprised she looked up, and found the woman smiling a completely genuine smile.

Hey, Girl! Hi. You made a smiley face too.

But she remained silent, because something about that smile made the moment special - nothing said, nothing explained, just a moment to be cherished for its own sake.

...and then her phone chimed to tell her it was now or never vis-a-vis the conference call. She hastily silenced it, and when she looked back the woman was giving just the slightest nod that seemed to say It’s okay, you’ve got work to do, even though Willow was for a moment seriously considering blowing it off just to stay in this haven that seemed, for just the three or four seconds it lasted, to be the best thing to happen to her in months.

Then common sense reasserted itself - but still feeling the vestiges of the happy trance that had come over her, as she gave an answering nod, in one smooth motion she deposited her happy cupcake on the stranger’s plate, before gathering up her things and going back inside.

Glancing back just before she passed through the doors into the foyer, she saw the woman’s head turning back to her own phone, as if she had been watching her go. And Willow didn’t even notice the electrician scrabbling around at the top of a ladder beside her desk for the rest of the day.

Image


The next day Willow sat and ate her lunch at the same seat, feeling slightly let down that her newfound cupcake-appreciator wasn’t there.

I mean that’s okay, it’s not like, I gave you a cupcake therefore you must come back and have lunch with me the next day, that’d be... it wasn’t a demanding cupcake. Freely shared with no expectation of reward, a selfless cupcake, which as we all know is the best kind of cupcake. Nothing to apologise for, wherever you are. Still. Would’ve been nice.

Until three minutes before she had to leave, by which time the frequency of her furtive glances around the courtyard had lessened to the point she hadn’t seen the other woman approach, and she gave a startled smile when she realised that the person taking the seat beside her was indeed her.

Before she could untangle the mess of a sentence ‘Did you like the cupcake?’ had rearranged itself into in her mind, the woman opened a small container on the side of her plate and offered its contents to Willow. Their fingers touched as she took the treat, a shortbread cookie, with a slightly erratic ‘Thank You’ sculpted into it, and beneath it ‘- Tara’.

The silent moment was again, somehow, to precious to break, and Tara - Tara, hi Tara, I’m glad to see you today Tara - seemed to sense it too, returning Willow’s smile with one of her own that didn’t expect any words in return.

Image


And again the next day, with three minutes to go, she was there.

Full plate, Willow mused as Tara sat next to her, so she’s just starting lunch at the same time I’m just finishing, can’t we move the stupid conference to later in the afternoon, is that such a difficult thing? Well, if three minutes is what we have, carpe... um, tribus or something... and whatever the Latin for ‘minute’ is? Did the Romans use the same scheme of timekeeping or is that more recent, note to self, look that up, but later, not now. Since Tara had obviously made the cookie herself, Willow had exerted her own rarely-used kitchen muscles the evening before - she had bought the slice of cake (because let’s not be tempting fate here, it’s entirely possible I could accidentally burn water) but, by internet study and a quick trip to the supermarket, had managed to add her own icing without reducing the whole thing to a lump of charred slag.

Tara brushed a wave of silky dark-honey hair behind her ear to give Willow the full benefit of her smile, in reply to ‘You’re welcome - Willow’, and again, nothing needed to be said.

Image


The next day, a Friday, Tara had given her an apple and cinnamon muffin with a homemade-icing willow tree on top, and her fingers seemed to linger on Willow’s for a moment.

Image


Willow had stood before the dessert display for some time that weekend, before idly checking her phone and noticing that rain was forecast, and being inspired. As promised on Monday there had been a constant drizzle from mid-morning onwards, and the plaza was sensibly deserted, except for Willow and her largest umbrella, keeping her dry, and also the seat next to her, which at three minutes to the hour Tara gratefully huddled into, after a quick dash from the office building that left stray drops of water clinging to her shoulders. It was a chilly day, but when Willow proffered the slice of carrot cake, it seemed as if the icing in the shape of a sun was as warm as the real thing.

That’s your smile, Willow wanted to say. See? But she didn’t, because her pulse was racing, and the silence between them wasn’t empty.

Image


On Tuesday Tara’s gift was a rosewater macaron, sporting colourful stripes in icing - a rainbow. Willow met her hopeful gaze, and didn’t look away, as their hands touched. The next day Willow’s heart had taken up residence in her throat as Tara looked at the gingerbread figure to which she had carefully added red icing hair. Her eyes closed briefly, and when they opened again they met Willow’s, vulnerable and hopeful as she lifted the treat and brushed it gently against her lips. The weather had cleared overnight and the plaza had its usual population of office workers on break, but as the tentative smile on those same lips broadened Willow felt like the she and Tara had the whole world to themselves.

Image


The next day Tara brought strawberries, and while there was still the slightest tremble in her lips, of stepping into the unknown, the smile was more confident as she dipped one in the little bowl of chocolate sauce and offered it to Willow, not to take, but to eat from her hand. There was a chill in the air but Tara’s skin felt hot as Willow gently took her wrist in her fingertips, guided it, and closed her eyes as she licked chocolate off the tip of the strawberry. She let out a breath as she looked again at Tara, finding her smiling an amused smile, then matched it with a smile of her own as Tara teasingly tugged her hand free and stole the strawberry back and closed her full lips on the bare nub Willow had exposed, pausing a moment to watch Willow, then biting.

Oh... Oh, it’s going to be like that, is it? Well Miss Tara, two can play at that game. Willow eagerly bit into the next strawberry Tara held out. There shall be a determined counter-attack, just as... just as soon as... The tip of Tara’s tongue peeked out as she slipped the strawberry Willow offered into her mouth, letting her lips touch Willow’s fingertips for a moment. ...as soon as... the ol’ brain starts, with the, coherent thoughts, and stuff, again...

Image


How did this happen? Willow wondered the day after, casting furtive glances back towards the foyer as five minutes to go became four minutes to go and her fingers drummed on the container in her lap. I mean... socialising the oddball way, that’s classic me, but am I, are we, what are we? Are we sort of, dating, in some weird way? Can you be an item with someone you see for three minutes at a time and communicate with exclusively through food?

Four minutes became three minutes, and Tara emerged from the building, smiling as she spotted Willow looking across the plaza at her.

She’s really... she’s really gorgeous, was that less obvious before, or did I just not see it? Wow.

She clasped her hands together to stop them fidgeting, and undid the lid of the container, feeling the cool air tickle her fingertips. To her relief the insulated sides had kept the contents from melting enough that the two bowls of ice cream had kept their shape, each with a cherry perched on top.

She watched keenly, and with an anxious furrow between her brows, as expressions passed across Tara’s face - curiosity, a second’s bewilderment, realisation, then a pronounced blush, followed at last (and Willow gave a quiet little gasp of relief) by a knowing grin.

Gotcha. Made you blush.

Tara glanced at her, eyebrow raised, and Willow affected an air of innocence as she met her gaze, which lasted all of six seconds before Tara reached over and rubbed a fingertip over one of the cherries.

Aaand now I’m blushing too, inevitably. But it was my idea, so can we call it a draw in my favour?

Tara collected a little ice cream on her fingertip and licked it clean, before something passed between them and they both giggled in unison. There was no more overt flirting as Willow handed her one of the spoons and they shared the ice cream in the couple of minutes they had, but there didn’t need to be. As Willow finally forced herself to get up to return to work, Tara pursed her lips in a silent kiss goodbye, which she returned. Goodbye, for now.

Image


And then it was Saturday - no work, no lunch hour, no Tara, and Willow was pacing up and down the crowded aisles of her local supermarket, carrying on a one-sided mental debate and casting brusque glances at various items of the shelves as if daring them to contradict her.

...I mean this has got to stop, really - not in a oh-how-horrible-it-is sense, but, we can’t just keep having a flirty snack once a day and that just be it, forever. I’d like more than that. Maybe she does too? People generally do, relationships and all that, presumably, hopefully, she’s flirting with a view to maybe a relationship, in which case-

She squeezed between two trolleys whose occupants had decided to stare in thought at shelves directly next to each other.

-is it that difficult not to get in everybody’s way really? - in which case, she’d maybe like a girlfriend, not just an increasingly suggestive dessert partner, and a) she’s gorgeous and b) I’m not the only girl in the world, if she’s in the market somebody’s going to go shopping at that market sooner or later, and - this is a really weird metaphor to be thinking in a market - I’d like that somebody to be me. But that somebody only gets to be that somebody by actually, y’know, saying something to her, hi, do you want to go on a date? Asking her out. I’ve got to do that, I have to Ask. Her. On a date.

Seeing nothing inspiring in the chocolates aisle, she turned towards biscuits and pastries instead.

That’s not a difficult thing, I’ve done that before. Successfully, a few times, at least in the immediate sense. Why is it difficult, is it just... this thing we’re doing, with the eating and flirting and her eyes all full of sexy, is it, is this like a magic spell, and it breaks if you speak? That’s preposterous. Buuut she does seem kind of magic. That’s silly. Mental clarification, Tara, you being magic is not silly, I’m totally on board with that, but talking bad, that’s silly. I shall ask you on a date, magic Tara lady. Date. Hangonasec, idea, aren’t there...

She peered at the shelves, trying to remember what she had half-seen earlier, realised she needed to be where other shoppers were crowding past one another, and half-ducked half-wove through into a tiny vacant space within reach of her objective.

Date biscuits! I knew that was a thing that existed! That’s perfect, that’s basically saying, hi let’s go on a date, we’re gonna talk and get to know one another and if you want I will totally be all over you and you’ll love it, I mean probably love it, I’m no slouch and you’re inspiring but it does it without breaking the rules of magic, which are totally a valid thing now I’ve found a way to work with them, come to Willow magic biscuits-

She reached out, and flinched in surprise when one of the other shoppers did the same and their hands bumped together. The indignant mental Mine! and far more polite ‘oh sorry’ died on her thoughts and lips respectively as she found herself staring at Tara, and the hand still touching hers suddenly felt like velvet fire.

Nobody else seemed to need anything from that exact shelf, so they were undisturbed as they stood, frozen, while shoppers pushed their trolleys back and forth along the aisle. Anything Willow could have said - everything she wanted to say - wouldn’t become words, so instead, careful for any sign of reluctance and, despite seeing surprise and uncertainty mirroring her own, finding none, she gently closed her fingers and held Tara’s hand. Tara took the slightest step forward, the bosom beneath her t-shirt rising and falling in a way that didn’t at all settle Willow’s nerves, inhaled quickly as if steeling herself, and jerked her head slightly to one side, towards the end of the aisle - the front of the supermarket, the way out. Willow swallowed and nodded.

She half-wondered if they would end up in the back seat of a car - and the idea didn’t seem at all unwelcome - but the soft hold on her hand led her past the turnoff to the car park and onto the street. The momentum that was overriding everything else flagged when they had to stop and wait for traffic lights, and she couldn’t help but glance at Tara, looking for reassurance, some kind of certainty that what was happening, whatever was happening, was okay. Tara’s head turned at the same moment, and Willow could tell she wasn’t certain - but she was hopeful, and elated, and aroused, and confused but holding onto courage like Willow’s hand, and both their lips turned up in matching grins, and then, there was certainty. The lights had changed for a few seconds before they noticed, and they had to hurry across the street.

The walk wasn’t long - a few blocks, which Willow barely noticed in a smiling daze, and then Tara stopped at the gate of a cosy little one-storey terrace. Willow glanced down at Tara’s jeans-clad bottom as she unlocked the front door, and glanced aside with an intense blush, having a brief glimpse of the small front garden, well tended and clear of fallen leaves, before the sound of the opening door drew her back. Tara’s smile was shy but giddy as their gazes met, and then Willow took the last few steps forward, past her, across the threshold. She barely noticed her surroundings - an impression of soft colours, understated decorations, a slight untidiness that was somehow warm in its unselfconsciousness - because she was overrun with a wave of euphoria, as if somehow every part of herself she didn’t need, the uncertainty and over-analysing and second-guessing, had been left outside, and now she stood here with only desire and delight. She heard Tara behind her, and buoyed by the rush she swung around to pin her against the closing door, pressing her lips to hers, wanting Tara to understand her elation, to take full possession of the gift she made of herself, with no conditions or strings or rules. For an instant Tara was rigid with surprise, then she melted into Willow’s arms, her mouth opened helplessly, and Willow felt triumphant and conquered together.

She kissed Tara, or Tara kissed her, again and again; Tara urged her into a room, and Willow let herself be lowered onto a couch among cushions, hungrily pulling Tara down on top of her. The leggings she had always felt were sensibly thick and non-revealing suddenly felt skin-tight and thin as tissue paper as Tara’s thigh pushed between Willow’s legs, and she pushed her hips up in reply, moaning softly into Tara’s mouth. Her hands found the hem of Tara’s shirt and tugged it up, sliding beneath to explore her back, pressing her fingertips in as Tara abandoned her mouth and began lighting a trail of fiery kisses down her neck and tugging on the collar of her sweat top to expose her collarbone to be kissed and licked. One hand on Tara’s back went high, pulling her shirt up and feeling the strap of her bra, the other hand returned low, gripping her hip where her hot skin vanished beneath the jeans - until Tara’s hand, scrabbling between them, undid the buttons with a needy jerk, giving her all the permission she needed to leave the bra for now and slip both her hands inside the waist to feel the smooth curves of her ass.

Tara pushed back into the touch delightfully, and as her hips rose into Willow’s hands and her stomach pressed down, she lifted her shoulders and for the first time since they had begun Willow saw her eyes, blazing with abandon and desperate arousal. She bent a leg and firmly pulled Tara’s hips down so she straddled it, then - momentarily - let go of her to pull up her top and, slightly awkwardly, managed to get it out from beneath herself and over her head. Tara was on her again as she arched her back and fumbled at her bra, and helped pull it away and toss it to the floor, unheeded as Willow cried out loud while Tara’s lips pressed into her breasts.

With their bodies moving together Willow was barely aware of Tara reaching around the wrists buried in her jeans and pulling the pants down, but when Tara pushed herself back down, just flimsy panties keeping in her warmth and doing a far from complete job at that, she felt it, understood it, and reached for Tara’s hand. Leaning down to lure her from her breasts, she kissed Tara as she urged her hand between her legs, one upright between Tara’s, the other pushing into the couch cushions to spread wider, and Tara gave her what she needed so badly, worming her fingertips beneath Willow’s leggings, stretching the waist away from her body to make room, and diving in to touch her sex with long, confident strokes, her middle finger dipping between her lips and flirting with her opening while her thumb pressed against her clit. Willow gave in completely, letting her body go, feeling Tara’s thrusts against her thigh becoming urgent and uncontrolled, and then at the apex she heard the most beautiful voice she could imagine gasp “Willow!” into the side of her neck, and without intending to answered, her own voice more lovely that she had ever believed it could be, “Tara!”

And then it was afterwards, and slowly Willow’s thoughts crept back in. What, did we just do? Okay no, pretty clear what happened, no ambiguity, but oh my god, what did we just do... Is this okay? I mean we’re consenting adults but, is this, can we go on from this, or- And then Tara, seemingly dozing on her bare breasts, murmured what it turned out was exactly the right thing to banish Willow’s anxieties:

“Wow.”

“Wow,” she agreed, after a sigh of mixed relief and contentment. Tara stirred, then lifted her head to meet Willow’s gaze.

“We uh, kind of,” she began, smiling shyly. “We skipped a few steps?”

“Yeah not part of the plan,” Willow agreed, stumbling over her words slightly in excitement. “Insofar as there was a plan, which there kind of wasn’t, really, beyond continued seeing you and hoping for... But, y’know, as it turned out... no regrets here, no sirree.”

“Me neither,” Tara breathed; Willow had a sense that a nascent worry similar to the one she had briefly felt had lifted now from Tara’s shoulders as well. She glanced down at Willow’s chest, and when she looked up again her smile was no longer the kind unsure what happens next and hoping for the best, but instead the kind that was formulating ideas already.

“Your ice cream sculpting was on the mark,” she noted, with a mischievous grin.

“I used a laser ruler,” Willow said at once. “Got the measurements off, well, me, cut out a couple of cross-section guides on cardboard, really I was just hoping the fridge at work and then the container would keep them from melting and losing shape too much... Uhh, you’re dating a dork, by the way.”

“I think I like that,” Tara smiled. “So you were going for the date biscuits too?”

“Uh-huh. You, you want?”

“I want. A-are you busy tonight?”

“No plans,” Willow shook her head.

“May I ask you on a date?” Tara said, cheekily proper.

“You may, and I accept,” Willow laughed - and like her voice, suddenly the laugh she had always worried sounded a little spazzy was so easy and carefree. Tara laughed too, finishing in a contented sigh, and settling cosily against Willow; their legs were still entwined, and Tara’s hand seemed in no hurry to withdraw from where it had ended up just below Willow’s waist.

“Hi, I’m Tara,” she chuckled.

“I’m Willow, nice to meet you.” Again they laughed together, again without a care.

“We’re doing this all out of order,” Tara mused.

“Pfft, order, who needs it?”

“Not us, turns out.”

Us! Willow beamed, and out loud joked: “Skipping ahead a bunch, marry me?”

“You bet.”

And three years, two months and change later they both suddenly had to stifle giggles, and each knew the other was remembering this moment - but they kept silent, not interrupting the celebrant winding the ribbon around their hands, as they stood in the garden of their still-new house, with family and friends watching.

But now, on the first day, they had no reason to suppress another shared laugh, until it was muffled by their lips meeting again.

Image

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Last edited by Artemis on Sun Jul 16, 2017 6:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Fri Jun 30, 2017 10:47 am 
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CHRIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

:clap :clap :clap

That was just.... SCRUMPTIOUS.

Brilliant interpretation of "Food Fight". OMG, I love this SO MUCH

:bow :bow :bow

I AM NOT WORTHY!!

DW

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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Fri Jun 30, 2017 10:58 am 
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Chris, I'm going to steal a line from my own entry.

You smooth motherfucker.

That was just a razor sharp mix of humor and sexiness and everything was oh-so-them. The prose was witty and you managed to fit so much meaning in so little dialogue.

Perfect Willow internal dialogue. I find lots of people (myself included!) can just use lots of words to express Willow-babble instead of actually making sure it matches her internal musings.

I so loved this. Off to read it again because do I need an excuse to smile?

:heart

PS 'charred slag' is amazing. I'm now going to start using it as an insult for my best friend.

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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Fri Jun 30, 2017 2:55 pm 
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I knew it.

I knew that I'd be totally intimidated by these entries. :o

Chris... You had me grinning the whole time. I think your Willow is my all time favorite - hands down. Her inner monologues are so on point, and funny in a cute/smart way. Argh... amazing.

Flirting through food without saying a word... that was ambitious. Of course you pulled it off like a BOSS. When Tara fingered the cherry? Um... My stomach went all fluttery.

I loved it, absolutely loved it. Fantastic! :-D

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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 9:28 pm 
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darkwillow6,

Sorry, I have to agree with Laragh, but the current formatting gives me a headache so I didn't read your story at all. If you correct that I'd love to give it a read.


*****

Laragh,

What can I say, your story was so sweet. The storyline was spot on and I liked this version of them, I could definitely see this evolving into more, but maybe that's wishful thinking on my part.

:banana :banana :banana :clap


*******
Artemis,

I really liked your story, the office romance was so cute. And there was something about them not speaking that I really liked.

:flower :flower :flower :clap

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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 11:14 pm 
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It was indeed a really cool Batmobile (This one, if anyone was curious; also the movie's out on dvd now, everyone should go watch it). And now, feedback...

Sunday Sundae - Sexy and sweet, loved the mix of adult playfulness and childish playfulness. Also (especially) Willow 'signing' Tara, that was something I had in mind as a possibility while I was working on mine and ended up not using, so I'm glad it came to be written anyway.

Love Blossoms - I was right, the left/right text was effective, I got a real sense of those paragraphs being these distinct little letters, complete in themselves, rather than just part of the story. You really put the month to use, that was a mini-full-length-story, if you know what I mean. The finale was a very delicate balancing act, which I thought you pulled off very well - this scenario that could have seemed hokey, lack of communication leads to Willow assuming the worst, angst etc., followed by the make-up, you got a sense of awareness into Tara's dialogue at the end that conveyed... I'm not sure how to put it. It wasn't just not considering the consequences of how she chose to 'reply' to Willow, she knew it could hurt, that she'd have to ask forgiveness, and she had faith that she was worth forgiving. It felt brave of her, making that choice. By the way though, inquiring minds want to know, does Willow have the whole Wonder Woman costume?

And feedback-replies...

Thanks everyone :grin And just if anyone's curious, since I came up with the background but ended up not stating it, Willow is a junior project manager-type at a solar technology company (she joined as an engineer and wound up being promoted to a desk position), and Tara's with a law firm (probably Morgan McDonald, but they're not evil here, Tara does family law) on a different floor of the same building. I kept running through versions of their conversation at the end to try to get the tone of it right, and in some of those they wound up talking about jobs.

DW: The 'metaphorical food fight' was the idea the challenge originally sparked - which happened entirely because I was thinking about the challenge, so without this, the fic would never have happened. I did have a bunch of mini-chapter titles sketched out to use, starting from 'reconnaissance' and 'first strike' and so on, to 'the nuclear option' (which would have been Willow shopping for some sort of ultimate sexy food - not sure what, I hadn't decided by the time I opted to go for something more relationship-oriented at that stage and make it date biscuits), and finally 'mutually assured victory'.

Laragh: I've been having a lot of fun with Willow's thoughts lately - there's a lot of this one that's following a similar pattern to Drawn By Her, and that's a big part of it. I actually changed a few bits so it wouldn't be retreating the same ground so much, including Willow being more slowly awakened to the gorgeousness that is Tara, rather than being awestruck by her at first sight - and the steamy sex scene back at someone's house was the original ending for DBH - so in a way they're companion pieces. It goes all the way back to Willow's Head really, Willow's thoughts are just fun to write.

CopperAndGold: I know it's not useful to say 'don't be intimidated' - anyway, I got intimidated as soon as I came in to post, and saw Laragh's epic waiting - but, don't be intimidated :blush The no-speaking thing was something I was acutely aware of when I was working out the details of this one - I kind of felt like I'd use oddball narration to distract from any implausibility in the underlying plot, so it was useful to have Willow providing the character thoughts.

Heather: Glad you liked it :grin

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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2017 10:36 am 
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Feedback replies:

Ariel - Thanks, glad you liked it :)

CopperAndGold - To me, W/T are the only thing that could make me believe in fate, so I like to play on that. I'm so glad your heart fluttered! :heart

DarkWiccan - I feel like Sheila's convictions are all show, so it's easier to flip them and destroy her with them instead. It is a shame Willow takes the brunt of it no matter what though...

Tara would be quite accepting of hugs! I could see her with a Free Hugs sign at Pride if Willow takes her next year...

And yes, consent is so sexy! It actually completely baffles and floors me how anyone could want to have sex so badly that they'd be okay with the other person not being 100% capable, informed, willing, and into it. Is an orgasm really worth it? Not to me.

My handwriting is awful too. I have a tremor in my hand and it's just a disaster. But I think Tara's writing would be pretty from writing so many bouquet notes and Willow's functionally legible, at a minimum from taking notes and writing in high school.

I hope your roses brightened up your day :)

vampyregurl73 - I'd love to write more of these guys. I have ideas of what happens when that front door closes and how they start up their new life. Who knows if it'll get written (I'm working on something else right now) but there's definitely thought there!

Artemis - I love your summary and calling Tara brave, I wanted to show she'd grown from having Willow in her life even though they weren't officially 'together'. They both reached that point of not missing opportunities independent of each other, but were able to actually commit to it, and each other, together.

PS Of course Willow has the costume :wink

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 Post subject: Summer Challenge Entry: Worlds Collide
PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2017 9:12 pm 
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Worlds Collide (Challenge Entry)


Author name – CopperAndGold
Rating – I’d say R. NC-17 if you’re faint of heart.
Feedback – I would LOVE feedback. Don’t make me beg…
Summary – A chance encounter changes everything.




She hadn’t been here since she was a child. It was clear to her, even at such a young age, being here meant her family would act differently.

This was where Ira hobnobbed with his peers from the business world, where Sheila met with other women of stature from their community. This is where the Rosenberg reputation lived or died.

The country club’s atmosphere had always felt false and contrived to Willow so she’d avoided it from her adolescent years onward.

Her parents put on airs here and she was expected to put them on as well. Even now, in her mid-twenties, she couldn’t escape the grip from the expectations put upon her by her family name.

Willow had been expected to meet Ira’s business partners today. Being his only child meant she was likely to inherit at least part of the business her father had lovingly built over the years. Which brings us to the reason why she found herself standing next to a sand pit, holding a golf club awkwardly as Ira and Joe (one of the partners) bickered over what was the best way for her to get her ball out.

Stupid game. I’m gonna burn out here. She mentally groused at her lot in life and turned to the caddy, “So, what do you think?” Willow asked him nodding towards her stationary ball. Squinting, she tucked away a strand of red hair that just wouldn’t stay in her ponytail. Her floppy straw hat was doing little to help shield her eyes from the sun being she was facing it at the moment, so she raised her hand and let it hover over her brow for comfort.

The young man looked at her with an amused glint in his eyes, “I think golf isn’t your game.”

The redhead laughed, “That obvious, huh?” She handed him the club she was holding when he motioned for her to trade with the one in his hand, “Will this one let me hit the ball?”

“Excuse us,” Ira interrupted, “Willow, if you’d step aside with me for a moment.” With a wave of his hand, Willow’s father made sure his daughter took a few steps aside before saying curtly, “We’re not here to socialize with the staff.”

The redhead’s jaw clenched for a moment. She took in a sharp breath before pushing out calmly but impudently, “But, he’s a boy. I thought you’d approve.”

“Willow Danielle Rosenberg,” Ira wasn’t amused, “This is not the place, or the time.”

Willow glanced back at the caddy who could obviously overhear the conversation. She felt bad for him standing there, he seemed so uncomfortable staring at the ground. I’m so sorry… I don’t even know his name.

“What am I doing here?” She raised her club for emphasis, “I hate golf. I came here to meet your partners. I did that!” The redhead pointed at the four men huddled around the hole, seemingly oblivious to their spat, “There’s Joe and Murray. The short bald one is Michael and that’s Daniel.”

“Willow,” Ira’s tone changed, exasperated with his daughter’s insouciance, “It’s not golf, it’s networking. Talking about the investment business, learning information about our competition.”

She could feel herself being molded into someone she didn’t want to be. Into having a life she didn’t want to have. It had been happening more and more over the years but, she’d never felt it as strongly as she did in that moment.

Going to university had been freeing in a way she’d never felt before. She’d been able to think about what she really wanted to do, and who she wanted to be. It hadn’t been long before Willow realized that, what she wanted and what her parents did, was not compatible.

The fact she came to grips with her sexuality had been a revelation for Willow as well. But, when she’d brought it up to her parents, they’d been quick to make sure it was kept hush-hush. Going so far as still trying to set up blind dates with available, well-to-do young men in their social circle to keep up appearances.

She felt trapped, her whole body seemed to tense up in resistance to what she felt happening, “Dad, what if I don’t want this?” Willow asked sadly and shook her head. “You never even thought to ask what I want.”

“Now, you listen to me young lady.” Willow’s father leaned closer to his daughter and said in a hushed authoritarian tone, “You have what you have, what you want has nothing to do with it. Your mother and I have worked very hard to get where we are, don’t you dare look down your nose at it.”

The redhead was torn between her guilt and the deep-rooted knowledge that she should be allowed to live her life the way she saw fit. Her inner turmoil pulled at the tears forming behind her eyes, “I’m not. I’ve always been grateful to both of you.” She let the club fall from her gloved hand to the ground, “You always said you worked hard all your life for me to have a chance at being happy.” Her lips trembled with pent up emotion, “I’m sorry, dad. I wish what you want would make me happy… but I know it won’t.”

Her tan and white leather golf cleats gripped in the soil as she twisted to turn away, making her trip over herself before taking a more controlled step, then another. Away from the disappointed look in her father’s eyes.

***

The rope gave a tug and Tara adjusted her footing, “Don’t pull too hard, Emily.” The young girl nodded that she understood and loosened her grip on the reins, “That’s good. Relax your body and follow Jackie’s movements.”

She had to admit, the ten-year-old was doing a great job for her first time on horseback. Doing this exercise always made her slightly dizzy, though. Standing and holding a lead while the horse it was attached to trotted in circles around her. But, this is how her mom had taught her all those years ago and she wasn’t one to change something that still worked.

“You look darling, Em love!” The girl’s mother gushed from the outer fence as she lifted her camera to take yet another picture, “Isn’t she doing great, Laura?”

Tara mentally added a checkmark in the ‘Laura’ column on her imaginary board of ‘Names I’ve been called that aren’t mine.’ Among which ‘Laura’ stood proud as the second most popular. So far, ‘Lara’ still outnumbered the others by a good margin. “Yes, Mrs. Warner. It’s impressive how well she’s doing for her first time.”

Emily beamed atop her steed, “Does Jackie have to stay here, mom?” The mare made one last circuit before Tara led her toward the fence so the girl could dismount easily.

Mrs. Warner looked pained, “I’m afraid so, sprinkles. We don’t have the space for her, yet.”

Tara looked at the girl once she was safely on the ground and gave her a reassuring smile, “Don’t worry. My horse lives here too. We’ll take great care of Jackie, I promise.”

The young girl waved and smiled as she and her mother walked away from the yard. Tara picked up her jacket from the top of the fence and led Jackie toward the stables. “You did great.” She patted the mare on her side lovingly.

When she’d seen this job advertised, Tara had jumped at the opportunity. Timing had been perfect being summer and the fact she’d had to move out of her father’s house… she needed the money. The thought of leaving Chelsea, her beloved mare, with her father and brother had torn at her heart.

The interview had gone really well, the administration took a quick liking to her. When she’d asked about the possibility of boarding Chelsea at the club’s stables, they hadn’t even batted an eyelash. Luck wasn’t something she was used to having so she decided not to contemplate it too much for fear of jinxing it.

Tara put her fitted tweed jacket over a chair and rolled her sleeves up to wash her hands once Jackie was safely in her stall. She then grabbed her jacket and usual blanket and went to the staff dining room behind the stables to retrieve her lunch. As she did whenever she could, she brought her food to her favorite sitting spot, a little outcrop of trees a short distance away from the stables.

Her gaze was fixated on her food containers, popping the lids one at a time to uncover what she’d brought with her that day. The lid to the strawberries came off and, as she was about to put it down, a pair of two-toned leather golf cleat wearing feet came into her field of vision.

Slowly, as if trying to prove to herself she wasn’t imagining things, Tara ran her eyes up delicate ankles. Up more, following the gentle curves of creamy freckled calves. The soft, toned and very feminine legs just went on as her eyes tailed up to where a tan skirt lay across the middle of a pair of thighs that took her breath away.

The lid to the strawberries fell from her now slack fingers when a soft and feminine voice broke her out of her reverie, “I’m sorry, I-I don’t mean to interrupt your lunch,” Tara could hear the undertone of nervousness lacing that angelic voice, “I don’t come here often and I think I’m lost.”

Look up! You’re staring at her thighs! Tara’s head shot up so she could drag her eyes away, a blush gracing her cheeks at the thought of having been so obvious. “Um,” But, her traitorous eyes would only go on to find more beauty to ogle. “Uh,” The forest green of the redhead’s V neck sweater only served to emphasized the dark emeralds of the woman’s eyes, “L-lost?” She couldn’t help but notice the innocent and nervous twist of the woman’s thin but sensual lips, white teeth biting the bottom anxiously.

Willow had been walking without thinking much about where she was going. Until she found herself on a part of the country club’s property she didn’t recognize. Luckily, she’d spotted someone sitting against a tree in the distance so she’d made her way closer.

The closer the redhead had gotten, the more details came into view of whom she was approaching. A dark-blonde woman, wearing a bright sapphire-blue buttoned up shirt with her sleeves rolled up to mid-forearms. Used and slightly warn boot-cut jeans clad legs with brown boots peeking from the bottoms. One leg was bent at the knee, giving the mystery woman an overall relaxed and calm quality. Willow couldn’t quite make out a face although her hair was put up in a hasty ponytail, strands of it fluttering loosely in the wind. Overall, she felt drawn to the woman’s earthy energy. She grew more curious each step she took.

But, now she was sitting right there in front of Willow. Looking up at her questioningly and all the redhead could do was blink. She’s gorgeous… Her eyes trailed the beautiful features before her. The soulful blue eyes that were at once tender and deeply passionate, the chiseled cheekbones, the graceful slant of a perfect nose, lips so full and soft looking Willow subconsciously licked her own, “Yeah,” You’re staring! Stop staring! Her eyes glanced down to catch a glimpse of a generous cleavage through the open buttons of the blonde’s shirt. Her eyes quickly darted back up, she cleared her throat. “I’m lost.” Smooth, so smooth Rosenberg. She mentally berated herself as her cheeks flushed.

Did she just check me out? Tara couldn’t help the hopeful thought. She wasn’t one to get caught up in looking at beautiful women, usually. Of course, she’d seen and met women who she thought were attractive. But, that attraction had always been superficial. Like when looking at a painting – she admired the beauty but it didn’t go much further than that until she actually got to know them.

Until this moment, she didn’t really think she had it in her to get so captivated. But, there was just something about this redheaded pixie that stirred Tara’s emotions and passions in equal measure. “Do they have strawberries where you’re going?” Where the hell did that come from!?

“Um,” Willow was thrown by the non-sequitur, “No?” She pulled at the white leather glove still covering her left hand, “No strawberries in the parking lot, I don’t think.” Her eyes followed the blonde’s hand as long, strong fingers plucked a strawberry from a container and brought it to her parted lips. She took a bite before wrapping her lips around the fruit to keep the juices from dripping. Willow gulped, painfully aware of the lasciviousness of her thoughts. Oh, boy. Down girl.

“Hmm,” The blonde hummed around her fruit, “That’s too bad. How about…” She pointed at another container, “Cherry tomatoes stuffed with goat cheese?” Her eyebrow quirked up in question innocently as she popped the rest of the strawberry into her mouth and grinned.

When the redhead shook her head, Tara steeled herself, “There’s plenty of food here…” She turned towards her lunch bag instead of bringing it to her. Her cheeks felt on fire at how forward she was being and she needed to avert her eyes, “I kinda went overboard last night.” Please stay. Eat with me, tell me your name… “You’re welcome to join me. If-if you’re hungry…”

All Willow heard was ‘hungry’ when those blue eyes turned toward her, bashfully looking up at her from below long lashes, “Yeah. Yes… I’m hungry.” How can eyes be shy and bedroom-y at the same time? She’s a freak of nature. Not a bad kind of freak, the good kind. The best kind. The kind that creates something new and beautiful and exciting, and, and... Her lips, they’re pulling up on one side and oh. Oh, God… that smile. I need to sit down…

“Good,” Tara smiled and motioned next to herself, “Have a seat. I promise to tell you where the parking lot is.” She chuckled awkwardly, “I’m not going to hold the information ransom or anything.” Her heart was beating double-time. As subtly as she could, she took deep calming breaths.

She didn’t understand what was happening. Well, no… she did. But, how this was happening. How she was being so damn brave, Tara had no idea. But, it seemed the redhead standing before her brought it out of her in spades. It was exhilarating. As much as she was usually cautious and well thought-out in her behavior, with this woman near her Tara had the sense she could do anything. She would take the greatest risks without a second thought, if it meant having a chance to get closer.

Willow’s cheeks tinged red at the sheer unlikely twist of events. She gingerly bent her knees and leaned onto her left hip, self-conscious. Finally, her legs were stretched out in front of her, crossed at the ankles. The length of the skirt not allowing her much other choice in the manner of sitting. Her hands came to rest protectively in her lap, fingers twisting together.

The blonde had watched her companion’s nervous movements in silence, understanding quickly why the redhead was uncomfortable. She placed the tapenade and baguette pieces onto the blanket and reached for her jacket, “Here,” Tara offered it easily with a smile, “Make yourself comfortable.”

“Thanks, I don’t usually dress like this.” She waved at her ensemble before draping the opened tweed jacket over her lap. Willow ran her fingers over the material, enjoying the texture, “I like your jacket.”

Tara chuckled and picked up a prosciutto-wrapped cantaloupe ball waving it over the spread, “Help yourself.” She smiled and took the bite-sized piece of food into her mouth.

Willow eagerly reached for the tapenade and bread, “Why did you laugh just then?” She was somewhat shocked to realize the ease with which she felt herself grow comfortable in this stranger’s presence.

The blonde hummed delightedly around another piece of fruit, “I don’t usually dress like this, either.” She said with a glint in her eyes, “I went to so many thrift stores to bulk up my wardrobe when I got this job.” Pointing at the brown tweed jacket over the redhead’s lap, she explained, “That jacket was the first thing I bought. It reminded me of my grandfather.”

Willow ran her fingers over the material again, trying to imagine it wrapped around the blonde’s body. “You work here, then?” All of a sudden, she was hit with an intensity that surprised her. She wanted to know everything about this mysterious woman. Wait, what’s her name? Oh, right. Don’t mind a name Willow. You know, it’s not important or anything. Just keep thinking about how it would feel to kiss her, touch her, and… and stuff. Stuff! You’re thinking stuff and you don’t even know her name!

“Mmhmm,” Oblivious to Willow’s inner turmoil, Tara answered, “I’m a riding instructor and part-time stable-hand.” She smiled again, waving at the redhead’s outfit, “You were here to golf?” It was more an attempt at getting her companion to talk about herself, really. It was obvious with the cleats and leather glove alone.

“Hey, girl!” A high-pitched, excited voice broke the calm between them. Willow twisted around to see who had so rudely interrupted the highlight of her day… week, month, year – you name it, this was definitely a highlight. What she saw sent pangs of hopelessness shooting through her.

She was brunette, tall, athletic and statuesque. Her skin lightly bronzed, shapely and defined curves ran the length of the devil-woman’s body. Even though she wore shorts and a tee, Willow easily cast her as a skank in her mind’s play.

Tara grumbled internally as her acquaintance approached, “Hey, Lilly.” She answered with a passable smile, “Not eating inside today?” Her eyes quickly glanced at her companion and realization shot through her. What’s her name!?

Willow watched in dejected annoyance as Lilly sat down on a corner of the blanket, “I ate while I worked.” She giggled mischievously. Pointing at Tara’s lunch and looking at her intently, she said, “You’re not the only one who likes finger food.” When the blonde blushed, she winked victoriously.

“Um,” Tara cleared her throat and looked at the redhead pleadingly, hopeful she’d read in her discomfiture the ridiculous fact they hadn’t exchanged something as basic as their names.

The redhead in question was clueless though, trapped in her own discomfort. Her eyes were lowered below the brim of her sun-hat, shielding them from more than the sun.

“Who’s this then?” Lilly broke through, she reached out a hand to the redhead amicably. “I’m Lilly. I’m an assistant chef in the kitchen.” She lowered her head, trying to catch averted eyes.

Willow finally looked up and took the offered hand, “Willow,” She pushed out softly, “I’m not here often. The food’s great, though.” She tacked on lamely.

Willow… Tara’s head spun with the need to voice that name. To make the letters tumble off her tongue. Willow… Her lips twitched the phantom word to life subconsciously. I’ve never said that name… but it feels so familiar, she feels…

“The menu could be better,” Lilly said unselfconsciously, “Tara should work in there with us. She makes tasty treats.” The woman grinned suggestively in Tara’s direction.

Tara… At least I know her name, now. Not that it matters anymore… Tara. So pretty. “Yeah,” She attempted a note of levity, “I’ve been munching her lunch, very tasty.” It was well received in her brain, the comment had passed all filters of propriety before leaving her mouth.

And, yet…

Lilly barked out a laugh that jolted Willow to self-conscious attention, “I bet!”

Tara shifted uncomfortably, biting the inside of her lip. What is going on? Sexual innuendos coming from Lilly were nothing new. Sometimes even amusing but, did Willow realize she was playing into it? Judging by the deep blush and nervous countenance of the redheaded beauty sitting next to her… she didn’t think so.

“So,” She cleared her throat awkwardly trying to change the subject, “What brings you out here, Lilly?” Tara tried to be polite, hiding as much as she could the tone of annoyance she knew sat in her throat.

The tall brunette cocked her head, seemingly perplexed the blonde didn’t know, “I knew you’d be here,” She shrugged and glanced at Willow, “I thought you’d be alone, I wanted to ask you something.”

“Maybe,” Willow started to move, feeling all too much like a third wheel, “Maybe I should go.”

Tara’s hand covered her tweed draped thigh, “No,” She said a tad too forcefully before her tone softened again, “No, please stay.” She asked beseechingly.

Their eyes locked for the briefest of moments, the space between them laden with genuine yet baffled emotion. Willow swallowed, her lips quirked imperceptibly and she nodded her consent. The hand on her thigh gave the gentlest of squeezes before letting go.

Lilly seemed surprised at the display, confused even, “Uh, yeah. You don’t have to go.” She cleared her throat, showing vulnerability for the first time since she’d come onto the scene, “I just wanted to ask Tara if she’d make me something to wear.” Pointing at the jacket across Willow’s lap, she added, “She’s great with that kind of stuff.”

The redhead picked up the jacket, heedless of her naked legs, “I thought it came from a thrift store.” She inspected its sides, the stitching in the seams.

“It did,” Tara confirmed, “I just brought it in a bit.” She shrugged a shoulder, “It’s a men’s jacket.”

Lilly scoffed, “You did more than just bring it in a bit.” She gestured for the jacket and Willow handed it over. The brunette closed it to reveal the tailored curves, “You should see her with it on, it fits her like a glove.”

The blonde lowered her head, “It’s not that big a deal.” Reaching for a piece of cheese she added, “I needed clothes.”

Willow watched intently as Tara humbled herself so effortlessly. “I can’t even sew a button on straight.” She gave with a smile, pointing at the jacket, “That’s pretty amazing.” She could imagine the blonde bent over the material, sewing in beautiful concentration.

The soft, feminine image in her mind, contrasted with the one sitting next to her – rugged, earthy, strong and still fiercely feminine – made Willow’s passions flare. The need to touch, to feel Tara against her surged within her.

Willow could feel the intensity in her heavy gaze. She tried to reel it in, to not give away too much for fear of embarrassment. But, when deep, blue eyes searched hers questioningly before answering in kind, her mouth fell open slightly in an ‘oh’ of silent epiphany. She feels it, too?

“Anyway,” Lilly was obviously uncomfortable now, “I need a dress for a semi-classy dinner thing.” She looked down dejectedly as she handed the jacket back to Willow, “I was going to ask if you’d come with me,” The brunette’s eyes quickly glanced at Tara and back, “But, if you don’t want to go that’s totally ok. I really need a dress though.”

Tara broke her eyes away, shaking off the heady atmosphere that had descended around Willow and herself, “I’ll help you with your dress, Lilly. Of course.” She smiled comfortingly, feeling bad. The blonde had already known Lilly liked her and, up until this moment, thought she’d done a good job of letting the brunette know she wasn’t interested. Tara could see she had been wrong and felt guilty, “Bring me a dress, or fabric with a pattern. I’ll need your measurements, too.”

Lilly smiled a short smile, “Thanks. I will,” She stood up and shuffled awkwardly, “How much will I owe you?”

The blonde grinned and tapped her chin with a finger, “Hmm, how about one of your delicious bread and butter puddings?”

Willow watched in rapt attention, the obvious care Tara was taking in making sure her friend wasn’t hurt touched her. Want you… She’s so many things. So many wonderful, beautiful things...

The brunette giggled delightedly, “That’s easy, too easy.” She waved a hand majestically, “I’m adding a mozzarella and rosemary pizza. Then we have a deal.”

Tara smiled, “That sounds delicious, really.” She nodded once, agreeing dramatically, “Deal.”

Lilly smiled sadly and shook her head in resignation, “Well, I better get back. If I’m not there for prep, François yells my face off in French for half an hour.” She waved in Willow’s direction, “It was nice meeting you, Willow.”

Willow looked up, a hand holding the hat onto her head as a gust of wind blew past them, “You too,” She smiled genuinely, incapable of disliking the woman any longer. “I’ll have a face to put to the yummy food now.” So, she has great taste in women. Who can blame her… she’s nice enough.

She absentmindedly reflected on the fact Lilly would’ve easily fit into her fantasies. The brunette was a knockout. That fact was impossible to hide. But, Willow felt nothing of the sort. That was Pre-Tara. The thought curled her lips in a whimsical smirk.

As Lilly walked away, Tara looked at her watch, “I should check in at the stables.” She said with obvious disappointment, “I have another student in twenty minutes.” Her eyes ran over the soft features of Willow’s face, wishing she could stay. She leaned in subconsciously, as if falling into the redhead’s orbit. Slowly circling.

“Oh,” Willow breathed out, “Right, of course.” She broke eye contact and cleared her throat of the lump of disappointment sitting there, “I’ll help you clean up.”

Willow was putting the last of the containers in the cloth bag when she turned around in time to catch Tara shrugging her jacket onto her shoulders. The blonde took the tie out of her hair and shook it out before running her fingers through it, pulling it back again but this time forming a loose bun. I’m drooling. She’s literally making me drool. She gulped convulsively and turned back to her task, making sure to take her time so she could calm herself.

A shadow came across her line of vision, “Willow,” She’d never heard her name sound so… “Willow?” There it was again. “Yes,” The redhead turned and stood up, smoothing her skirt down. Facing Tara, she said bashfully, “Hi.”

Tara smiled, smitten. I’m smitten. I’ve never been smitten. She took a step closer, “Hi.” Don’t think, don’t think, don’t think…

Willow’s eyes glanced down to full lips sensually pulled at a corner, “Hi.” She repeated automatically, looking back into Tara’s eyes and took a step closer.

One more step and they would be crossing an invisible but definite line. “Will I see you again?” Even if it had come out desperate, she couldn’t find it in herself to care.

She watched transfixed as Tara’s intense blue eyes traveled the features of her face until she felt warm fingers clasp her hand. The heat of the blonde’s touch seemed to go straight through the leather of her glove. Without a thought, her feet shuffled forward one small step as her hand was brought up between them.

Tara’s eyes fell to the gloved hand resting in hers. Slowly, gently she parted the Velcro closure and pulled the leather from dainty fingers. Tugging on one at a time, silently she pulled the redhead’s hand free of the glove.

Willow’s knees went weak, the palm of her hand felt electrified. Having been wearing the glove for hours, the sensitivity of her skin was heightened to the point of actual arousal. The fact Tara was gently brushing her thumb across the surface made the redhead self-conscious of her reactions. She was about to shift nervously when she was again captivated by the blonde’s eyes, rooted in place.

Her mouth fell open when full lips were pressed against her palm, an open-mouthed kiss closing slowly with the slightest amount of suction. The smooth, satiny touch felt more intimate than anything Willow had ever experienced before. She heard herself make a small pitiful sound, hoping against hope she wouldn’t collapse right there.

Tara closed her eyes briefly, lips pressed against warm, soft skin. She breathed Willow’s warm scent in, lightly laced with lingering leather. Anxious to commit the intimate fragrance to memory, she breathed her in once more before bringing Willow’s hand down again. Pulling a pen from her pocket, she pointedly clicked it to life, “Yes, I hope.” What am I doing? How… am I doing this?

Willow twitched as the ballpoint pen skimmed along her palm, a mix between an uncomfortable tickle and a sensual glide… Tara’s phone number, address, and full name were written down with care. She looked down at her hand dumbly and whispered a decided, “I’ll see you again.”

This must be what being struck by lightning feels like.

***

M-A-C-L-A-Y T-A-R-A… Her mind drew out the name in cursive letters across the table’s surface. Willow’s thumb absentmindedly drew circles in her left palm.

“Earth to Will,” Buffy, Willow’s best friend, waved an impatient hand across the redhead’s line of sight, “What’s up with you?”

“Huh? Oh,” She pulled at her sleeve, “Something happened, I think.” Willow looked at her hand, “I think something happened.”

Her friend’s patience was already thin, having been ignored for most of her visit, “Come on, spill. You haven’t said a word about having to play golf this morning.” She waved her arms, confused, “Not one word about how your father’s overbearing, or how you don’t want to be a rich kid.”

“Have you ever had your palm kissed?” Willow blurted out, her eyes curious and vulnerable.

Buffy’s face was unreadable, “My palm.” She leaned in, curious, “Who kissed your palm?”

Willow recounted her encounter with a certain Tara Maclay, her eyes sparkling with wonder, “And then she wrote on it, her name, number and address.”

“Whoa,” Her friend breathed, “That’s… hot and romantic and… whoa.”

The redhead nodded dumbly, smirking in bewilderment as her eyes widened, “I know.”

Buffy wiggled in her seat excitedly, “So!? When are you calling her?”

Willow was silent, uncomfortable with her own thoughts before Buffy urged her on, “I don’t want to ruin it.”

“Ruin it, how?” Her friend asked gently.

The redhead scoffed self-deprecatingly, “For one, I’m not experienced. Like, at all, with a woman. Then there’s the fact she’s a woman. Not a girl, a woman – she works for a living, she makes clothes, cooks. She’s wise, you can tell… She has integrity. And-and I’m this spoiled, silver-spoon fed, Jewish rich kid.”

Willow was looking down at her lap so she didn’t see the glob of ice-cream before it hit her on the top of her bowed head. “What the hell!?” She screeched, wiping her face indignantly, “What the hell, Buffy!?”

Buffy was laughing and reaching for the banana in her banana split, “Spoiled? Silver-spooned?” She mushed the fruit in her fist and flung it at her friend, “You’re the hardest working rich kid I know! And, you’re not too good to get down and dirty, Rosenberg.”

Willow dunk her fingers in her chocolate syrup sundae, “It’s not dirty!” She flung her cold handful and hit her target square in the chest, “It’s sexy and intense!” Giggling, she reached for another handful as she watched Buffy react in mock-horror.

“Ok, ok,” Her friend brought her hands up in surrender, “Think about it. What does she know about you?” She reached over the counter for the paper towels, “She knows you were there to golf, and that your name is Willow. You were at a luxurious country club where she works.

The redhead stared blankly, not getting her friend’s point. She tore a generous piece of paper towel for herself, and started wiping away as much of the gooey substance as she could.

Buffy sighed loudly, “She knows you have money, Will. Or, at the very least, that your family has money.” She smiled, “She still kissed your hand.”

Willow blushed, “You made me all sticky,” She uselessly wiped at her shirt, “Skank.”

Her friend’s eyebrows shot up, “Rug muncher.” She retorted quickly.

The redhead gasped, scandalized, “Slut!”

“Dyke!” Buffy blurted before dissolving into laughter. “Sorry, sorry,” She raised her hands when Willow looked shocked, “Call her, you silly Lebanese.” She snorted as the redhead dissolved into fits of laughter.

***

“Stupid,” Tara muttered under her breath while she shoved laundry into the washer, “All pervy with the hand kissing.” She pulled her jeans up to her face for closer inspection. The knee was torn, it would take a pretty big patch to fix them.

She threw them in the garbage next to her dryer and looked at Misty who was sitting calmly on top of the warm, vibrating machine. “Why couldn’t I keep my lips to myself?”

Misty mewed softly, golden eyes wide and expectant. She stretched out her neck, seemingly in hopes of getting pet.

The blonde grinned at her sweet cat, “Well, let’s hope she feels the same.” She scratched under Misty’s chin and then the top of her head, the cat purred loudly in contentment. “Want couch cuddles?”

Tara walked into the kitchen and poured herself a cup of tea. She was comfortable in her nightgown but, was happy when she could drape a soft blanket over herself as she settled onto the couch. Clicking the television to life with the remote, she flipped through the channels mindlessly until falling on a showing of ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’.

Misty jumped onto the back of the couch, walked along it until she dropped down onto Tara’s hip. She curled up contentedly, purring softly as the blonde petted her.

Idgie was showing Ruth how to play baseball after getting her drunk for her birthday when Tara’s phone rang. All of a sudden, her heart was in her throat. She’d been so captivated by the movie that thoughts of her encounter with a beautiful redhead had momentarily slipped her mind.

Tara quickly lowered the volume on the television and picked up, “Hello?” She asked hopefully.

“Tara?” Willow’s hesitant voice said softly through the speaker, “It’s Willow.”

“Hi!” The blonde blurted before wincing, “I mean, hi. I um, I was hoping you’d call.”

“It’s not too late? I’m not bothering you, am I?” Willow asked worriedly, “You worked all day, you must be tired.”

Tara smiled, “Not at all. I’m doing laundry and watching ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ with my cat, Misty.” As if knowing the blonde was talking about her, the cat mewed softly before rolling onto her back looking up at her human lovingly. “Heh, she says hi.”

The redhead giggled, “I heard, hi Misty.” Tara heard the sound of a television being turned on over the line, “What channel is it on? I love that movie.”

“Hmm,” The blonde checked, “Showtime. Ruth just got married,” She raised the volume a bit.

“Hahaha!” Willow busted out laughing over the line, “They’re going to do the mirror-vagina thing!”

Tara laughed as well and they seamlessly started watching the movie together. Interspersing it with witty commentary.

A while later, Willow sipped her drink and cooed excitedly, “Oooh! Sexy food fight scene!”

The blonde giggled, “The book was so much more obvious about those two.”

“I’ve never read it,” Willow said offhandedly, “Wouldn’t surprise me though. T.V. and gay themes don’t mix very well yet.”

“I have it,” Tara offered easily, “You can borrow it if you want.”

There was a brief pause before Willow said softly, “If that means I get to see you again, then yes. I’d love to borrow your book.”

Tara’s heart thumped in her chest, “You don’t need to borrow a book to see me again, Willow.” She played with the fringes of the blanket covering her lap, “I’d love to see you again. I thought I made that pretty obvious.”

The redhead sighed, “Yeah… that was,” Tara heard a deep inhale of air during a brief pause, “Tingle inducing.” She said softly on an exhale of breath.

The blonde blushed, a grin pulling at her lips, “Good tingles? Not, you know, creepy stranger-danger tingles?”

Willow laughed, “No creepy. All good, believe me.” She cleared her throat nervously, “I-I’d never gone weak in the knees from being kissed before. Let alone on the hand.”

The movie was forgotten in an instant, the intimacy of the conversation warming Tara throughout, “I’d never felt so compelled to kiss anyone, before.” She leaned her head back into the couch pillow and closed her eyes breathing out longingly, “You’re beautiful, Willow.”

“Tara,” The redhead’s voice grew husky, “Coming from you, that’s mind-boggling.”

Silence fell across them like a warm blanket, both lost in sensual recollections of their short time together. “I wish you were here.” The thought became spoken words without Tara’s consent, her eyes shot open as she covered her mouth, horrified.

There was a shuffle over the line, “Is-is that an invitation?” Willow asked, nervous, scared and hopeful all at once.

Yes! No! “Um,” Tara shifted anxiously on the couch, “I don’t… do this, usually. Ever…” She said lamely, “I hope you don’t think I’m this womanizing player… chick.”

She could almost hear the smile in Willow’s voice, “Well, you certainly have some moves Ms. Maclay.” She cleared her throat, “I’ve never… done this. I’ve never felt like this.”

“Like what?” Tara suddenly couldn’t find enough air to breathe.

“Like I already know you,” She answered softly, “But, like I need to rediscover you all over again. Like, if I don’t get to be with you. Talk with you, see you and touch you, I might just implode.”

The blonde looked at her front door reflexively, “How long?” She asked breathlessly.

There was shuffling over the line again, “Twenty minutes, tops.”

“I’ll be here.” Tara said, her stomach a flutter with bat-sized butterflies. I’m doing this, I’m doing this…

“Ok,” Willow replied as if to steel herself in her resolve, “Ok, I’ll see you soon.”

“O-ok.” Tara ended the call, nervously pushing at the blanket, feeling overheated. Dazed, she looked at the phone, “Did I really just do that?”

***

There’s the door. Yep, that’s Tara’s door. Just behind that door is Tara. Tara Maclay, beautiful, sexy, strong earthy momma… I just have to knock. Why am I not knocking? Because you’re a fucking virgin, that’s why!!

“What am I doing?” Willow muttered under her breath, “I don’t know what I’m doing.” Her head fell forward dejectedly, thumping lightly against the door.

The doorknob twisted slowly and the door opened. Feeling her perch moving away from her, Willow stood up straight quickly, her fingers twisting together.

“Willow?” Tara peeked through the door cautiously, “Hi,” She smiled at the redhead shyly, “Wanna come in?” She asked as she pulled the door open wider.

“Yeah,” Willow gulped, “I mean, yes. I’d like to come in.” She could feel her face flush with embarrassment. How can she be sexier all rumpled and wearing sweats?

Tara had quickly changed into sweat pants and a tee before the redhead had arrived. Staying in her nightgown and receiving a plain-clothed Willow at the door felt too much like a crude booty-call to her.

She already knew she wanted much more from her time with the redhead than a simple romp in the sack. “Would you like something to drink?” She asked over her shoulder as her guest closed the door behind herself. “I have tea, apple juice, coffee…” Trailing off, she turned left into the kitchen.

“Are you having anything?” Willow asked as she slipped her shoes off at the entrance to the apartment.

“Mmhmm,” Tara intoned from the kitchen, “I’m drinking peach matcha.” Cool, stay cool. No big deal, the only woman who’s ever stirred my insides like cookie dough is standing in my hallway. Oh, God.

“Matcha?” The redhead was busy interacting with the feline of the house who stood at the end of the hall, watching her attentively. “You must be Misty,” She smiled, the cat was a mix of cute and regal – black with brown patches, intense golden eyes. Misty blinked and twitched her tail in acceptance before quickly starting an impromptu bath.

“She’s pretty.” Willow commented as she approached the kitchen archway.

Tara chuckled fondly, “She’s the most loving brat I’ve ever known.” Pulling items out of the overhead cupboard she continued as she saw Willow lean against the archway, “We found each other at the beginning of summer, when I moved in.”

The redhead watched intently as her host gracefully filled a kettle and set it on the counter, “She obviously loves you.” Her own voice sounded so tender, she surprised herself.

Misty was rubbing against Tara’s legs every time the blonde would stand still, eyes wide and lovingly gazing up, she mewed softly, “It was love at first sight,” Tara looked down and smiled, “Wasn’t it, Misty?”

Lots of that going around… “So, what’s matcha?” Willow cleared her throat, the warmth that swept over her at witnessing the loving scene was almost overwhelming, “I assume it’s tea?”

The blonde looked at her guest as if to determine something intangible, “It’s a Japanese green tea.” She motioned Willow closer with her head, “I met Hinata in my first year of college. He’s the sweetest, most soulful guy I’ve ever met.” She placed an odd looking whisk onto the counter, standing up on its end, along with what the redhead assumed was the green tea powder and two cups.

“I wasn’t doing too well back then,” She continued softly as the water continued warming up, “It was hard for me to be in a new place, surrounded by tons of new people. I’m pretty introverted. I was always worried, anxious about what was going to happen next. I had a stutter, it still crops up here and there.”

She looked at Willow from the corner of her eye, a self-deprecating grin twitching her lips, “I’m usually wearing these long skirts, flow-ey granola type stuff.” She shrugged, “That’s just what I’m comfortable in. I guess Hinata saw the obvious flower-child in me.” Chuckling, she explained, “We became fast friends. One day he invited me out. We went to this beautiful Japanese tea house, he’d actually made reservations.”

Tara turned the kettle off before it began to boil, “There was a group of people there. Everyone was… calm, silent. Before going in, Hinata told me there was a ceremony he wanted me to attend inside. It was a matcha tea ritual.”

Willow couldn’t take her eyes away, the story was captivating. Tara was beautiful, almost glowing as she recounted it. Flow-ey skirts, flower-child… I want to see that.

Taking a spoon that looked like a scoop, the blonde carefully and gracefully scooped two measures of the bright green powder into each cup sitting on the counter, “Every movement of the ceremony was like a choreography. The way the host held her sleeve when she poured the water, the way she held the whisk,” Tara added a bit of hot water to both cups, gracefully deposited the kettle back onto the counter and picked up the bamboo whisk. “Every movement was a meditation on the present moment.”

Willow noticed she’d gotten closer to Tara without realizing it, she felt drunk. The air in her lungs sustained her but it was Tara’s words and behavior that inspired her to just be. To be herself, here – in this moment, with Tara. I’m not even babbling…

The whisk was gently beating the powder into the water. With intent infused movements of the blonde’s wrist, a paste formed at the bottom of the cups. “The atmosphere of serenity in that ceremony room…” She tipped the kettle over the cups, adding water and whisking until the tea was the right consistency, “After that day, I just had to think about that ceremony to calm myself down.”

She turned to Willow with a cup in her hand, “Now, I drink it sometimes…” Tara looked into the cup bashfully, handing it over to the redhead, “W-when I’m nervous.”

Taking the cup reverently, the redhead said softly, “Then I definitely need this.”

After a brief pause both felt the need to speak up, “Willow,” “Tara, I-”

They glanced at each other, blushing at their shared nerves, “Go ahead,” Tara said, “I feel like I’ve been talking your ear off and you just got here.” She smiled and sipped her tea. You have no idea yet how unusual that even is…

“This is really good,” Willow nervously commented on the tea, although honestly, “Could we… sit… down?”

Tara nodded once and motioned out of the kitchen. She put her cup down on the coffee table in the front room and sat at one end of the couch, against the armrest and a pillow. Willow copied her actions on the other end. “I know it must’ve sounded…” The redhead shifted uncomfortably in her seat, “I’m not here to, I mean…” She huffed loudly, annoyed at her lack of eloquence, “I don’t have any expectations… from you… from tonight.” Fiddling with the seam of her jeans she softly said, “I just wanted to be with you.”

Courage, what an odd feeling. But, Tara felt it running through her veins again. She smiled, “Well it’s a good thing you don’t have expectations.” Brushing a lock of hair behind her ear, she blushed and added demurely, looking up from beneath her lashes, “I don’t even know what to expect from myself since I met you.”

Warm honey flooded her whole body, Willow felt on fire and frozen at the same time. The look in Tara’s eyes was so complex, layered with meaning heavily expressed in swirls of blues, “I’m worried.” She blurted and mentally slapped herself.

Tara frowned and reached for her cup, “Drink, it’ll get cold.” She said, nodding towards the redhead’s cup, “Worried about what?”

They fell into silence, both sipping their tea and quietly waiting out the awkward moment. Misty took the opportunity and jumped between them, in the vacant spot on the couch. She curled up, heavily blinking eyes slowly focusing on one, then the other before closing with a soft purr.

“You don’t know me,” Willow finally said, “I’m worried that when you do, you won’t like me.”

Tara giggled despite herself, “Sorry… It’s just…” She took a deep breath, “You don’t know me, either. We spent an hour together.” She shrugged, “Don’t think I’m not nervous, too. What happened today… how I was, that’s not…” Scratching the top of Misty’s head, she pushed a leg under herself and added softly, “I’m n-not usually like that. You brought it out of me, I guess.”

The redhead grinned, “And I’m not usually incapable of forming a complete sentence.” She chuckled then, “This is really happening isn’t it?” Bemusement laced her voice, awed by the concept.

Tara smiled brightly and nodded, “I think so.”

“My last name is Rosenberg,” Willow said as she crossed her legs under herself, “It’s been both a blessing and a curse my whole life.”

At the blonde’s stricken look she hastily added, “Oh, not because of the Jewish thing. I mean, I am… Jewish.” She shook her head, “My parents both grew up here but, their parents – my grandparents, immigrated here with very little to their name.”

As Tara nodded she continued, “They worked really hard to make sure their kids, my parents, had opportunities growing up, they made a lot of sacrifices. My parents proved them very proud. My mom’s a lecturer and professor in child psychology and, my father is CEO of Rosenberg Investments.” Willow rattled the story off dispassionately as if she’d told it thousands of times. “And, I’m me… their only child. A gay daughter.”

“I could take what I wanted in college, as long as I minored in business. I can wear what I want, unless I’m at some snobby event or someone ‘special’ is around. I can be gay all I want, as long as I don’t ‘shove it into people’s faces’.” She cleared her throat, a lump having formed in the back of it, “I’ve been uncomfortable my whole life.”

Something resonated with Tara, deep within her – she knew that feeling intimately. It had consumed her with a quiet violence for most of her life as well, albeit for different reasons.

“Tara,” Willow blinked away her negative feelings, uncurling from the end of the couch she scooted closer to the blonde, “I’ve never felt like myself until I met you.”

Their fingers met across the top of the couch, both looking at their contact. Fleeting brushes over fingers and palms. When Willow’s nail scraped gently against Tara’s palm, a shiver ran up the blonde’s arm and down her back. Their eyes had met over the span of their contact and she was sure the redhead had noticed as she reacted pleasurably to the touch. She blushed at the thought.

Tara took a deep breath, reeling in the wave of fierce arousal and tenderness that had swept through her. “Will you let me make you something to wear?” At Willow’s stunned and confused look, she explained, “I want to make you something you’ll want to wear. That you can wear, whenever. Something you choose, everything. The fabric, the style and cut.” She smiled, excited by the prospect she squeezed Willow’s hand, “It’ll be a 100% authentic Willow outfit.”

Willow was blown over, flattered and brimming with tenderness and yes, it was hard for her to ignore her strong desire for Tara. “Are you serious?” She sat up straight, smiling broadly, “That’s a lot of work.”

Tara shrugged a shoulder, a twinkle in her eyes at the redhead’s reaction, “I like doing it and it’s for a good cause.” She squeezed Willow’s hand again, “The best cause.” She stood from the couch, “I’ll be right back.” And walked out of the front room.

After she’d returned with thick binders and deposited them on the coffee table, they sat side by side to peruse them. Different fabrics filled one binder, patterns filled another. They spent a good while looking at fabrics alone until Willow exclaimed excitedly over a particular one. “A dress, with that material! Wouldn’t that be pretty?”

Tara nodded delightedly, quickly jotting down the serial number of the fabric. “I think this style would suit you really well,” She pointed at a form-fitting, long-sleeved dress with a rounded neckline. It was slightly elegant but still could be worn on any old day, “What do you think?”

Willow was caught off guard. Guiltily realizing she wasn’t listening… She’d been lost in the world of Tara’s smooth, long neck. The cute ears that she couldn’t help but want to kiss and nibble. The cheekbones she’d love to run her thumbs across as she held Tara’s face to her… “Sorry, which one?”

She’d caught the quick transition in Willow’s gaze, the blush on her cheeks. Tara was now painfully aware of how closely they were sitting, “This one, here,” She pointed at the dress and turned back. Her eyelids grew heavy as she let herself examine Willow’s profile. Her hands clasped reflexively in her lap, the pooling of want in her lower belly pulsed an inebriating, maddening rhythm.

For a reason she didn’t fully understand, Willow had expected the blonde to choose something more revealing. Maybe as a show of interest… But, this dress was modest. She liked it a lot and, would probably choose it for herself, but it did make her wonder… “Why this one?”

“Your lines are subtle but very feminine,” Tara’s eyes kept travelling the redhead’s face, unable to tear them away, “Your waist, your hips… the material you picked would cling to you nicely.”

When Willow turned her eyes from the page, she caught the blonde appraising her chest. When Tara looked up and their eyes met, their combined want seemed to coalesce in an instant. Their bodies leaned into the other, eye contact flittered from lips and back.

“I want it,” Tara’s lips were slightly parted and, to Willow’s inflamed state, seemed to pulse in time with the stirring between her own legs. Her eyes lifted to see her need reflected in deep, cerulean blue.

The blonde subconsciously licked her lips, “Are you sure?” She asked, leaning closer still. Willow’s scent washed over her, bringing to the fore the memory of kissing her hand, inhaling her. Tara’s head spun.

Was she still asking about the dress? If she was honest with herself, which she tried hard to be, the answer was a resounding ‘no’.

Willow nodded, a tiny movement of her head, eyes still on the blonde’s full lips, “I’ve never been so sure.” Pretense, she’d had enough of it throughout her life. No more, she decided as she pressed her lips against Tara’s. No more.

They exhaled into the contact, small sounds escaped their throats as their lips pressed lightly, caressed and slowly savored. They turned towards each other, reached out for the other with tender and hesitant touches. Willow’s fingers trailed, feather-light, down Tara’s throat pulling a soft moan from her that only served to spur the redhead on.

When Willow’s tongue peeked shyly from her mouth, teasingly tasting her bottom lip, Tara groaned unconsciously. Welcoming and passion-filled with the need to taste, she deepened the kiss eagerly. Her fingers curled up into soft copper, holding and cradling that sweet mouth to hers. Warm velvet held her, surrounded her… Tara’s whole body responded to Willow’s kiss. Every molecule in her seemed to exclaim joyfully, a decisive ‘Yes’ of affirmation in the rightness of it all.

The redhead felt tingles in her fingertips when they found Tara’s skin. Her needy hands had traveled down the blonde’s back, under the hem of her t-shirt to find the peach-soft skin at the base of her spine.

Tara’s body arched from the touch, her hands gripped where they’d held, something… stronger than her, much stronger, pulled the blonde in closer and closer to the center of her orbit. And then there was skin beneath her fingertips, she flattened her hands against it, soaking Willow’s warmth into her palms. Her fingers clutched at a small waist.

Willow’s skin broke into goosebumps, her mind instantly wiped clear of thought. Her body responded of its own volition, she quickly found herself straddling Tara’s lap. The blonde’s hot, wet mouth was at her neck, teeth lightly grazing when her hips pressed in reflexively. “Ohh, God,” She let go of the back of the couch with her right hand to press Tara’s mouth against her neck. “Ohh,” When she felt the flutter of a warm tongue tickling her skin, a sensual shiver ran down her spine.

Oh, God… Slow down. Tara was in a battle of wills. She had Willow’s sweater bunched up under her breasts, her fingers twitched and prickled with the need to touch, mold and stroke. The redhead was so responsive, it enflamed her senses. “Willow,” Slow down…

Tara’s hot breath was against her ear, hearing her name so full of need and yearning released a flood from the base of her spine, out between her legs as they instinctively squeezed around the blonde’s waist. “I never liked my name… Until I heard you say it.” She reached between them and pulled at her sweater for an awkward moment until the blonde’s hands eagerly helped take it off. Willow groaned her pleasure, arching back into Tara’s strong hands as her teasing, warm mouth kissed, licked and nipped a path along the tops of her bra-clad breasts.

So good, she’s… I’ve never… “Ohh, God. Tara… I-I’ve never… You…” The more her brain intruded, the more self-conscious she became. Willow was so scared of disappointing the blonde, she couldn’t help but voice her fear between pleasured sounds.

Tara pulled Willow up, bringing her mouth back to her neck. Kissing below Willow’s ear, “Me either,” She breathed and took the softness of the redhead’s earlobe between her lips. At the surprised sound the redhead made, she explained, “Not this, never this.”

She fought to control her passion and looked into nervous but aroused green eyes, “Nothing like this.” Her fingertip trailed Willow’s bottom lip, following its path with a heavy-lidded gaze, “I’ve never wanted to make love with someone before.”

Her hand was gently clasped away, “Never?” Willow asked, bemused and somewhat shocked.

Sensing Willow’s need for clarification, she leaned back into the couch and rested her hands along the redhead’s thighs. She shrugged a shoulder, “I’ve had urges, teen-aged groping with a friend. It was always just about lust… never really went very far because I didn’t want it to.”

Suddenly, with stark clarity, Willow realized something. “Tara, are you gay?” She blurted out somewhat ungracefully.

Tara blinked. Once, then again, eyebrows high on her forehead. She bit the inside of her lip, her mouth twisting with the effort of keeping her laughter in check. Absolutely enamored, bemused and confounded she had to know, “Why do you ask?”

“Well,” She shifted on the blonde’s lap and covered the hands lightly rubbing her thighs, “I don’t think I’ve ever heard you say… girl or woman, specifically. Just vague ‘someone’s’… like when you said you felt compelled to kiss me.”

Huh… I never noticed. “The only people I’ve ever had a sexual reaction to, were girls… women.” Tara said carefully, “I grew up in a home where that fact wasn’t welcome.” Her brow furrowed, displeased by her deduction, “I guess the way I choose my words reflects that.”

“So,” Willow was oh so curious, questions tickled at her throat, “No… no, guys?” I can’t be the more experienced one here, that would just be… impossible.

Tara grinned, amused and totally smitten, “No guys. Never even wanted to kiss a guy.” She leaned forward and rubbed her nose against Willow’s, “I guess I’m as gay as they come.”

There was a slight shift in the energy between them, Willow had pulled back, “Did I make you uncomfortable?” Tara asked, worried she’d said something wrong.

“No!” The redhead was quick to reassure, “No, it’s just…” She racked her brain, trying to put a finger on why she felt bad, “I’ve had a boyfriend… and-and now I said it, I have no idea why that makes me feel guilty.”

Tara was confused now, “W-were you careful?” What is she saying?

Willow looked shocked and surprised by the question, “Of course! Always,” She shook her head, “But, we did have sex.” She confessed contritely, as if it were a crime.

“Um,” She couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable in her arousal, the tone having turned serious. But, Willow was still sitting in her lap. Her bra-clad breasts were so close, her skin radiating heat, her scent was surrounding her, “Willow… You told me you were gay, I believe you. Whatever experiences you had, they brought you here tonight.” Her eyes, swirls of heady emotion bore into Willow’s, “The way you make me feel, it’s all I can think about.”

“Tara,” Willow shook her head in wonder, “I want…”

She squeezed Willow’s hips and guided her off her lap to stand in front of her, “I still need to take your measurements.” Tara said, looking up from beneath bashful eyelashes.

“Oh,” The redhead shifted, awkwardly bringing her arms into her body, “Right, the dress.”

Tara grinned and reached for the button to Willow’s jeans, she looked up, “You need to be in your underwear.” Twisting her fingers, the button popped free.

“Heh,” Willow breathed nervously, “Is this for real, or are you trying to get me naked?” She held onto Tara’s shoulders with shaky fingers.

The blonde pulled the zipper down and cocked her head in mock-thought, “Yes.” She answered somewhat cryptically.

She blushed, how could she not, “Wasn’t a yes or no question,” Willow’s breath hitched as strong, feminine hands pushed the jeans over her hips, “More a multiple choice type… thing. Ohh,” Her eyes closed as she felt Tara’s lush mouth against her overheated skin, below her navel.

“Hmm,” She kissed around Willow’s belly-button, pushing the jeans to the floor, “Then my answer is ‘all of the above’.” Tara trailed her hands along the backs of Willow’s legs, “I love your legs.” Swallowing reflexively when her eyes caught a glimpse of the darkened material of the redhead’s panties.

The jeans were pushed aside and Tara retrieved a soft measuring tape from the back of one of her binders. "I don’t know what kind of shoes you want to wear with it. Try and stand with your heels as high as the shoes you’ll be wearing. I’ll try to make it quick.”

She took the green, numbered tape and wrapped it around the redhead’s hips, at their widest point. “Hips,” She murmured to herself and jotted down the measurement on her pad before returning to her task, “Waist,” The tape was again wrapped around Willow, “Lean over a bit, onto your hip. Like that,” She placed her finger on the slight crease that formed at the movement, “Ok, back straight now sweetie.” The tape slid into place and she carefully marked the measurement down.

Sweetie… Willow felt lightheaded from the attention and the pet name. She called me sweetie…

Tara stood up and looked into Willow’s eyes, restrained passion evident in her gaze, “Bust,” She kept eye contact, mesmerized by the building intensity in shades of green. She gulped and the tape went around Willow’s torso and shimmied up slowly, caught the underside of her breasts and leisurely released as it continued up to finally cover obviously aroused nipples, over the redhead’s bra. Tara’s hands met between Willow’s breasts, she glanced down for a moment.

The measurement was memorized, she just needed to write it down but, her hands… on Willow’s chest. “You’re so beautiful,” She heard herself say as the tape fell to the floor. Tara’s hands moved, lightly running her fingers over Willow’s breast, where bra met skin.

That’s it, I’m done… The redhead’s self-control evaporated. She slipped a hand behind Tara’s head and brought their lips together. The moan she heard in reply and the eagerness in the blonde’s kiss raised the intensity of her need a few notches. Willow groaned, slipped into Tara’s mouth and pressed the blonde’s warm hand down, over her breast.

Tara broke the kiss and brought her mouth to Willow’s neck, her hand squeezed the small breast. The feel of the redhead’s rock-hard nipple in the middle of her palm sent shivers down her spine, “Will you stay the night?” She was breathless, the redhead’s hands were riding up her sides under her shirt. Tiny flames licking up her skin.

“Yes,” She trailed her tongue up Tara’s long, smooth neck. Willow bit the edge of a cute ear, “Take me to bed, Tara.”

Tara’s knees wobbled, she righted herself and took a breath. Looking intently into Willow’s eyes, she asked, “And, tomorrow?”

Willow blinked, her eyes softened and filled with what the blonde could only hope was love. A smile quirked her lips and brightened her eyes, “Tomorrow’s a new day.”

***

The End.

Well… There was the beginnings of… the next part. Sexy stuff. When it’s done, I’ll post it as a “Continued from…” In pens.

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~M
CopperAndGold


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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 1:46 am 
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11. Fish in the Bowl

Joined: Tue Sep 28, 2010 1:35 pm
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Topics: 2
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Chris,

I will edit in feedback when I'm more awake - I can't read two stories back to back and give good feedback on both! But let me offer this for starters. :flower :love :applause

There are a LOT of splendid examples of Willow-Babble but I think this is my favorite.

Quote:
mean that’s okay, it’s not like, I gave you a cupcake therefore you must come back and have lunch with me the next day, that’d be... it wasn’t a demanding cupcake. Freely shared with no expectation of reward, a selfless cupcake, which as we all know is the best kind of cupcake. Nothing to apologise for, wherever you are. Still. Would’ve been nice.


It has it all, the rushed wording, the racing mind and the unique and wonderful Willow world view.

I love the contrast between Willow's internal babble and the silence between them; this phrase captures all of that:

Quote:
That’s your smile, Willow wanted to say. See? But she didn’t, because her pulse was racing, and the silence between them wasn’t empty.
Effective use of understatement, lovely. :love

This is also the most creative food fight I've ever seen; completely re-imagined not to mention tasty instead of disgusting - thank you for that! :clap

All in all, a marvelous and affecting read. :bow :heart

***

Copper and Gold,

What a touching and beautiful story; you see them freeing each other so that they can be themselves. And it's done in the details, so that it's a clear picture of their experience both physically and emotionally.

Your language is vivid, this phrase stood out for me:

"It had consumed her with a quiet violence for most of her life as well, albeit for different reasons." Quiet violence . . . powerful.

And this rang true as well:

" the pooling of want in her lower belly pulsed an inebriating, maddening rhythm." Any person who has ever been aroused feels this resonate as truth.

Giving Willow the chance to express herself with clothing and Tara, taking her measurements, suddenly dressmaking became something tender and lovely.

Definitely bring this into a fic, please! :clap :bounce :applause

Ariel


Last edited by Ariel on Wed Jul 05, 2017 10:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 2:34 am 
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1. Blessed Wannabe

Joined: Fri Jun 09, 2017 2:42 am
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Location: Budapest, Hungary
Copper and Gold,

I read this entry with my morning coffee today and I must say, you did not disappoint... <3 You managed to put both characters into this alternative universe while keeping the essence of what makes them uniquely Willow and Tara. I loved how the tables turned and babbling Willow became shy around Tara - this is not something we see every day :)

To me, one of the highlights of the story was the description of the tea ceremony. It was truly mesmerizing!

The language is really powerful, too - let me put two quotes here that I especially liked:

"Tara’s lips were slightly parted and, to Willow’s inflamed state, seemed to pulse in time with the stirring between her own legs."

and

"the pooling of want in her lower belly pulsed an inebriating, maddening rhythm."

There is no way to describe synchronicity and arousal more accurately. Wow... Just wow!

All in all, it is another masterpiece written by one of my favorite writers ;) Please continue with it! Please please please!


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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 8:28 am 
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10. Troll Hammer
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CnG -

OMG... where to begin.

Sooooo good!

You are quickly becoming one of my faves.

I really enjoyed how you were able to give us backstories for both characters that were at once deep and insightful without being heavy-handed or maudlin.

The electricity between the ladies was absolutely palpable. The magnetism believable and inescapable. There is that rare and special kind of attraction where you just *have* to touch the other person. You have to *know* them. And you captured that here so perfectly.

Like warrior_barbie, I read this over my morning coffee... and found myself needing the caffiene less and less the farther I got into your narrative.

You have such an exquisite and lyrical quality to your writing. I devour your words like a tasty crepe. At once light and rich.

More of this story when you can. Yes, please!!

Cheers!!
DW

_________________
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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 10:42 am 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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CopperAndGold-

Lovely story! A rich background and a sweet meeting and joining. I love that with each other they can instinctively be themselves. Great setting, well done!

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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 11:49 am 
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3. Flaming O
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Feedback Replies:


Ariel wrote:
Your language is vivid, this phrase stood out for me:

"It had consumed her with a quiet violence for most of her life as well, albeit for different reasons." Quiet violence . . . powerful.

And this rang true as well:

" the pooling of want in her lower belly pulsed an inebriating, maddening rhythm." Any person who has ever been aroused feels this resonate as truth.


I agonized over my choice of words, hours on end. Trying to find a way to fully express those feelings without having to write out a novel. I'm so happy I was able to pull it off. :grin



Ariel wrote:
Giving Willow the chance to express herself with clothing and Tara, taking her measurements, suddenly dressmaking became something tender and lovely.


Willow and Tara : They could read the phone book (I know this reference dates me) and it would turn out tender and lovely. They make me swoon...

Ariel wrote:
Definitely bring this into a fic, please! :clap :bounce :applause


This will most probably happen. Even if it turns out to be a short one, I enjoyed writing it quite a bit. :)

warrior_barbie wrote:
I read this entry with my morning coffee today and I must say, you did not disappoint... <3 You managed to put both characters into this alternative universe while keeping the essence of what makes them uniquely Willow and Tara.


Yay! Alternate universes scare the bejesus out of me. It's as if I need reference points in the setting to accurately visualize the characters. This was in every way, for me, a challenge. Soooo happy I was able to make it work! :grin

warrior_barbie wrote:
To me, one of the highlights of the story was the description of the tea ceremony. It was truly mesmerizing!


I can't recommend strongly enough, for anyone who has a nervous/anxious disposition, attending a matcha tea ceremony. It can truly be a life-changing experience. :love

warrior_barbie wrote:
All in all, it is another masterpiece written by one of my favorite writers ;)


:blush Thank you so very much.

DarkWiccan wrote:
You are quickly becoming one of my faves.


Eep. No pressure! *quickly humbles herself*

DarkWiccan wrote:
The electricity between the ladies was absolutely palpable. The magnetism believable and inescapable. There is that rare and special kind of attraction where you just *have* to touch the other person. You have to *know* them. And you captured that here so perfectly.


Yessss! That's it exactly, what I was trying to describe. :grin

DarkWiccan wrote:
Like warrior_barbie, I read this over my morning coffee... and found myself needing the caffiene less and less the farther I got into your narrative.


Ooh, I've become a caffeine substitute! Now, there's something to be proud of! :grin

DarkWiccan wrote:
You have such an exquisite and lyrical quality to your writing. I devour your words like a tasty crepe. At once light and rich.


Light and rich... tasty crepe. Devouring my words... are you coming onto me, DW? Jebus, woman... *fans herself* :blush

Thank you all for the wonderful feedback. :flower

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CopperAndGold


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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 4:52 pm 
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C&G: Not that I couldn't see how there was potential in the whole taking-measurements routine to start with, but, wow, never going to look at taking measurements the same way again. Great foray into AU W/T, they were genuinely themselves, but also the backgrounds they inherited from their 'new' lives weren't just throwaway detail, they were a proper part of their characters. Really good handling of the instant magnetic attraction as well - they didn't just jump into each other's arms because that's what the story is there for, you wove in thoughts and conversations - like Willow's uncertainty about her dating history - that supported their attraction to one another as more than just 'we're hot, let's do this', but real people with depth to their characters. I'd be delighted to see more of them. (And now to try to get caught up with Erynn and co.)

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Through the Looking-glass - Every world needs a Willow and Tara.


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