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

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 Post subject: The Love… Series
PostPosted: Wed Aug 16, 2017 12:43 pm 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 1:22 pm
Posts: 3932
Topics: 32
Location: Ireland
WRITER: Laragh

RATING: NC-17

SUMMARY: Direct sequel to my entry to The Food Fight Challenge‘Love Blossoms’. You’ll need to read it to know what’s going on; picks up directly after.

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.

NOTE: This is basically PWP (or Smut With Feelings as I like to call it now). It didn't start out that way, but I've learned to accept who I am as a person.

EXTRA NOTE: This has become a one-shot series. I do not know how long this series will be or with what regularity it will be updated. I will keep an ongoing list as they post here:




Love Flourishes



Image


Willow and Tara stood rooted to the spot they'd joined together in, lost to everything but each other.


Seconds, minutes or hours could have passed and neither would have noticed. There was no sound but their mouths crashing together passionately until the front door slammed shut from a gust of wind.


They broke apart with a jolt, lips plump and bruised from the intensity of their kiss.


Tara stared at the door for a brief moment, before turning back. Willow looked up to her at the same time.


Tara slipped her hands into Willow’s and Willow felt that zing of electricity shoot through her. The same one she'd felt when she'd closed her eyes and night and allowed herself to imagine Tara was beside her, except magnified times a thousand.


She felt like there was so much to say, so much to process. Though her mind usually whirred at lightning speed ahead of the rest of her, right now her body was the one screaming. Talking could wait.


Willow moved in as if she was about to kiss Tara, and Tara had even begun to close the gap again, but instead, Willow faked her out. She bit the air in front of Tara's lips and heard the quietest whimper fall from them. Leaning in so the tip of her tongue just barely brushed against Tara's upper lip, she then turned towards the staircase behind them. She reached a hand back wordlessly and began walking up.


As soon as Tara’s hand hit hers, they both sprinted up those stairs like they were running from fire. When Willow entered her bedroom, she immediately spun around and stepped up to Tara, close enough to make her back up and shut the door behind them.


“You don’t know how much…” Willow breathed, “…I have longed for your lips.”


“I think…” Tara replied, moving her hands around to cup Willow’s rear, “…I have an idea.”


Willow felt her stomach drop somewhere decidedly lower. She took Tara’s lips greedily, hungry for every bit of the sweet press of her mouth.


Tara squeezed Willow’s ass through the thin material of her linen pants. It was so easy to feel the line of her panties, boyshorts Tara guessed, and the quarter-inch stretch of buttocks where the lining stopped and the curve of skin was exposed.


She pushed off the door and lifted Willow up all in one fell motion. Willow didn’t hesitate to wrap her legs around Tara’s hips, trusting her completely.


Tara brought Willow over to the bed and leaned over to drop her gently. Willow spread her arms out on the smooth covers.


“Thank god I made my bed this morning.”


Tara’s lips curled on one side, with an undeniable sultry undertone.


“Shame we’re gonna mess it up.”


Willow grabbed Tara’s face again and brought her close.


“You need to get my word-of-the-day app and relearn the definition of ‘shame’.”


“God I’ve missed you,” Tara said emphatically before letting their lips re-join as she climbed over Willow.


She straddled Willow and ground herself down a little against Willow's pelvis.


Willow knew a dark spot would be forming on her underwear and probably her pants if she didn't get them off soon. As an incentive, she brought her hands to Tara's belt and snapped it open. It worked because Tara's hands quickly moved to pop the buttons that held Willow's pants up. There was no shake as they were popped, one, two, three, and then the material was rushing past Willow's legs, forgotten, and Tara set eyes on the damp patch that had indeed flooded Willow's panties.


“I was right,” Tara mused, hooking a finger under the waistband, “Boyshorts.”


Tara snapped the fabric in place, then leaned down and pressed her face into the front of Willow's underwear. More arousal seeped through, and Tara's nose hit her where she was most sensitive.


“Shit!” Willow gasped, not expecting it.


She glanced down and watched as Tara took the decorative buttons on the front of her panties in her mouth and tugged down. The cool air against her wet core made her shiver and was only made worse when it was replaced with Tara's warm breath.


Tara kissed her triangular patch of hair, too close and not close enough all at once. Her head bumped the blouse Willow was wearing upwards as her lips trailed in the same direction. Tara kissed between the swell of Willow's breasts but the bunched blouse and the bothersome bra were just too much coverage to content with.


Willow had the same thought and started fighting with her top to get it over her head. Her back arched in her attempts, giving Tara the perfect opportunity to reach under and unsnap the bra. She pushed it up to join the blouse and just couldn't resist the bared breasts. Her mouth descended on them, despite the fact that Willow was being held captive by her blouse; head and arms jumbled up in a mess of material.


Willow couldn't help moan despite her predicament; Tara's mouth was warm and her tongue was soft and Willow's nipples were just growing tauter and tauter beneath them.


Willow resigned herself to her fabric prison and didn't even care that much, as long as Tara's mouth kept doing what it was doing.


Which it did, for long enough to make Willow moan and writhe uncontrollably, until suddenly it wasn't anymore. Willow whimpered a bit at its loss, but only until Tara suddenly freed her from her blouse and allowed her arms movement again.


“Hiding from me?” Tara teased with playful eyes and a crooked smile and Willow could have melted into a puddle on the spot because, damn, she just loved this woman so much.


She grabbed the back of Tara's neck and gently pulled at the curling hairs there to bring her down to kiss. As their bodies lay flush, it became very, very obvious that Willow was completely nude and Tara was very, very not.


Willow kissed Tara until she couldn't breathe, finally pulling away with a pop.


“Do you believe in equality in a relationship?” she asked breathlessly.


“Of course,” Tara replied, with the barest hint of a stutter and a crease of concern etched across her brow.


Willow pulled Tara's top from her loosened jeans.


“Then strip.”


Tara glanced down at herself, then back up to Willow, a grin slowly spreading across her face.


She sat back on her heels so she was straddling Willow again and began popping open the buttons on her shirt. She watched as Willow's eyes grew more and more excited until she brushed the sides away, only for a groan to be produced when she revealed she had a tank top underneath.


“Layers, my mortal enemy,” Willow muttered.


Tara put her arms above her head, accidentally (on purpose?) thrusting her chest out in the process.


“Maybe we admit defeat.”


Willow took her chance and sat up, stripping Tara of every layer until their bare chests had free reign to heave together unrestricted.


They fell back into a lying position but Willow rolled on top so she could finally rid Tara of those deliciously tight but still entirely too concealing dark jeans. As Tara's thighs came into view, Willow suddenly became drunk with memory and anticipation of just how wonderful they felt clamped around her ears.


“Oh god, Tara,” she moaned, her voice and hands shaking as she desperately ripped Tara's panties from her body.


She bunched them in her hand and lifted them to her nose, gently inhaling that dizzying scent that she'd thought about so often.


She couldn't hold herself back; the panties dropped and her mouth fell right between Tara's legs. She didn't even try to tease Tara's thighs or explore her outer lips; her tongue slid into Tara's slick opening and swallowed the sticky mess she'd help make.


Tara groaned deeply and thrust her hips up for more.


She'd moved across the country just to be with Willow, but right then she would have swum across oceans if it meant Willow never stopped doing exactly what she was doing. A hand tangled in Willow's hair; at first stroking it tenderly, an affectionate and loving moment but as Willow's lips wrapped around her clit, it became desperate and grabby.


Willow loved it.


Tara couldn't push her in far enough; Willow just wanted as much of the throbbing under her tongue and wetness soaking her face as possible. No amount of Tara could ever be enough, but she'd still strive to take all she could.


Just as she'd dreamed, Tara's thigh muscles began to jump against her ears. Willow was overwhelming wet between her legs, but it just made her desire for Tara burn stronger. She continued sucking until all she could hear was her own blood pumping and a muffled, strangled scream version of her name.


She felt a gush against her chin and moved her mouth down to lap Tara's opening, pulling everything from her. She began leaving kisses against the pink, sated flesh until the throb between her legs became more pronounced than the lessening throb of Tara's clit.


She kissed up Tara's stomach, wiping her mouth along the way so that Tara's softly defined ab muscles retained a glow of sweat and transplanted arousal.


When she reached Tara's face, she kissed each corner of her mouth to let her know she was there.


She didn't want to rush Tara into attending to her, but Tara — showing impressive strength considering how boneless she'd been moments before — had Willow on her back, spread and filled with her fingers before Willow even had time to gasp her lover's name.


Willow's eyes rolled back into her head with pleasure, her hips rising to take her wherever Tara wanted them to go.


They'd only done this a few times, and all were contained in one night, but Tara just knew her. Where to touch, how to touch, how long to touch; how to drive her crazy and satisfy her so completely with such apparent ease.


Willow was on another plane; one that only had heat and Tara and intense all-encompassing pleasure. Her head was rolling around blindly until she felt Tara's lips settle on hers and the kiss pulled her back into reality, albeit still a hazy one.


Her eyes flickered open to see Tara staring back at her and instantly the breath left her lungs. Tara's eyes were filled with love and lust and were just so open to her.


Her hands cupped both of Tara's cheeks and she made herself keep her eyes open as she felt herself begin to unravel.


She didn't even know whether Tara was inside or outside of her; she just seemed to be everywhere, pulling pleasure with every throb of her heartbeat between her legs.


She gasped into Tara's mouth as she finally came, hands tangling at the nape of her neck the exact same way Tara's had in hers.


Tara brought her down gently, in direct contrast to their kiss which was burning and needy and took everything they had to give. Finally, they rolled away from each other, though remained close enough that their bodies touched.


They lay, limbs flung in various directions, trying to catch their breath.


After several long moments, Willow sluggishly rolled onto her side and curled into Tara. She rested her cheek on Tara’s breast and idly toyed with her stiff nipple.


Her hand slid down Tara’s stomach where her fingers brushed dangerously close to the hairs of Tara’s mound. She then brought her hand back to cup Tara’s other breast and glanced up to see if Tara was even noticing.


She was.


She smirked.


“Hey, you. Trying to wake me up?”


Willow grinned back and turned herself some more so she was on her stomach and half on top of Tara. She reached up and brushed some hair from Tara's cheek, contemplating her face for a moment. She was so beautiful. She loved her so much. And…


“I have so many questions.”


Tara reached up to twirl some of Willow's hair in her fingers.


“I’ll answer all of them,” she replied sincerely, her breath back but cheeks and chest still red.


Willow opened her mouth, then closed it again and smiled softly.


“Later, maybe? I just want to…feel this.”


Tara leaned in and pecked Willow’s lips.


“I’m not going anywhere.”


Willow kept Tara’s lips on hers for a moment, then pulled back to look her in the eye. She hoped she didn’t look as vulnerable as she felt.


“Promise?”


“I promise,” Tara confirmed and sealed it with another kiss.


Willow trusted.


She dropped her head into the crook of Tara’s neck and inhaled her still slightly sweaty skin. She closed her eyes and let her lips drop kisses along Tara’s collarbone.


She was suddenly exhausted, feeling the weight of the previous weeks’ lack of sleep and general stress as she awaited a response from Tara.


She settled her head above Tara’s breast again, and with her arm loosely draped across Tara’s waist she fell fast asleep.


Image


Less than an hour later, she woke.


Her body immediately curled towards Tara; a reflex established already, which was pretty impressive considering she’d never actually woken up next to her before.


And as the muffle of sleep left her brain, she realized she wasn’t now either.


She shot up in bed and looked all around, completely shocked to find the room empty.


This time, Willow was mad.


She was pissed.


She understood, in Spain.


It would have been too hard to wake and say goodbye. She may have even done the same thing if the roles were reversed.


She understood why Tara had delayed the letter.


Even though those four little words would have gotten her through whatever wait she had to endure, she got it. Tara respected her enough to not offer her half of something and was uprooting her life yet again so they could be together. Leaving her in stasis for a while to achieve that — that was easily forgivable.


But this?


Leaving her alone, in bed, again, when she thought they’d shared an even more bonded experience of love making— that hurt. A flurry of emotions happened in a matter of seconds she’d been awake until a flushing sound suddenly came from the ensuite in her bedroom.


Tara came out a moment later, wearing Willow’s white bathrobe and padded across the cool floor quickly.


“I borrowed your robe for a sec, I hope you don’t mind.”


She slipped it off and laid it down across the end of the bed before sliding back in under the sheet. She shivered as she scooted close.


“You’re gonna have to warm me up.”


She placed her hand on the base of Willow’s spine with a smile, but it faltered when Willow didn’t react.


“Honey?”


There was still no response, so Tara sat back up, angled behind Willow.


“I’m sorry, should I not have used your robe? I can wash it or replace it.”


Willow finally snapped to attention and turned her head to hide her glassy eyes.


“No, sorry. No, of course not. You can borrow anything.”


Tara could feel the shift and her eyes grew concerned. She placed her fingers so they arched over Willow’s shoulder.


“Darling, what happened?”


Willow brought her thumb and index finger up to her eyes, cutting off her tear ducts before they betrayed her.


It only took Tara a moment to assess the situation and come to a likely scenario.


“You thought I’d left,” she said softly.


Willow managed to hold back the tears but her back heaving twice as she sniffled gave her away. Of course, Tara would guess right. Willow would have to learn to accept that this kind of love made her an open book.


“Oh, my love,” Tara replied gently, which helped Willow none.


The tenderness and pet names made Willow all the more emotional. Still, she let Tara gather her into an embrace and sniffled just a couple more times before calming herself. She normally would have felt stupid, but Tara’s arms were big and warm and encompassing her so completely that all she could feel was loved.


“I’m so sorry for everything I put you through,” Tara said, sliding her hand up and down Willow’s back, “I’m going to make it up to you.”


Willow’s heart was slowly calming to a normal rate. She gently moved them so they were lying together instead of sitting together.


“You already have.”


Tara kissed the top of Willow’s head.


“I love you, Willow.”


Willow turned her body and lifted her hand to Tara’s face, trailing one finger down the edge to frame her features. She smiled as she finally got to say those words out loud. She took the time to savor it as they rolled off her tongue.


“I love you, Tara.”


She angled her head and teased Tara’s lips for a moment before finally kissing her.


Tara brought Willow over so their bodies were flush. She bent her knee to hook into Willow’s leg and tangled them together.


“Tara…” Willow said softly between kisses.


“Yes?” Tara replied though it was almost lost through a moan.


Willow veered just slightly off, pressing kisses to the corner of Tara’s mouth.


“We don’t have to date, do we?”


Tara paused for a moment, processing that.


“You mean…No. You don't mean.”


She was certain that after all of this that Willow wasn't saying she didn’t want to be together, so she went to the next logical place and assumed Willow wasn't into dates.


“Oh,” she said eventually, “Well, um, we don’t have to call them that I guess but it’s nice to spend some time—”


Willow cut her off with a kiss.


“You misunderstood,” she said, smiling, “We’re going on dates. We’re going on lots of dates. As many as you’ll let me take you, to as many places as you’ll let me show you off.”


She pecked Tara’s lips again in reassurance.


“I meant, we don’t have to do the ‘dating’ stage…right?”


Her cheeks flushed and her tone turned shy.


“Are we girlfriends?”


Tara grinned and rolled Willow onto her back, pinning her. She winked, but sweetly.


“We’ve been girlfriends for a while.”


Willow smiled and cupped Tara’s face to bring her in for another kiss.


“Yeah. We have.”


They kissed some more and exchanged ‘I love yous’ until Willow couldn’t help but start being grabby and changed tack.


“Do you know how much I love your breasts?” she whispered as she molded Tara’s flesh and rolled her pebbled nipple, “They’re perfect.”


She flipped Tara back onto her back. Her lips trailed down and delicately tasted Tara’s nipple, running her tongue flat along it before suctioning it into her mouth in a tight hold.


“Sometimes when I took a shower, I thought about them…and you…and I would…”


Her teeth grazed and Tara gasped. Willow kissed back up to Tara’s neck and blew some hot breath against her ear.


“Did you?”


Tara had to swallow several times to get some moisture back in her mouth.


“Y-yes,” she eventually replied through a strained voice.


Willow licked Tara’s neck and moved up to kiss her lips.


“That’s hot.”


Tara resumed her position on top and pressed her hips into Willow’s.


“You’re hot.”


She palmed Willow’s hip as she slid her body down until her mouth was positioned between Willow’s thighs.


Willow tried not to jerk as Tara’s tongue warmed her already hot flesh. She bent her leg to open more, but Tara took a hold of her thigh to keep her close, so Willow paused. A quick glance down told her Tara liked the press of thighs against her ears and also made her gush with arousal.


Oh my god…Tara’s giving me head… in my bed…Tara’s giving me head in my bed…


Her mind was hazy with the pleasure Tara was giving, but for some reason, it started to lift.


Willow glanced down again and realized Tara had stopped and was looking up at her, giggling, albeit adorably.


“I didn’t know you became Dr. Suess in the bedroom,” Tara teased, lips shining with Willow’s arousal, “Is this where you practiced your poems to me?”


Willow’s eyes grew wide. She knew she sleep-talked once in a while and even engaged her mouth without thinking sometimes, but she didn’t think she unintentionally verbalized while thinking like that before.


“Uh…” she tried, her brain torturing her, quite ironically, by going blank and sending all her blood to her cheeks, “Uh…”


Tara brought herself back up and lay on her side, elbow bent to let her palm support her head.


“Let’s see if I can finish this one.”


She thought about it a moment, clearly amused.


“Willow’s spread, I’m fed…” she started, seductively, then scrunched up her face, “I’m really glad your name’s not Ted?”


Willow couldn’t hold onto her embarrassment; she burst out laughing. She covered her face with her hands, then turned to Tara and peeked between her fingers. She couldn’t help it, her self-consciousness was just gone. She felt like she’d been lying in bed with Tara for years.


“I’m sorry I’m a dork.”


Tara took Willow’s hands down and gave her a kiss.


“Never be sorry,” she said softly, “I fell in love with that dork.”


They kissed again, slower.


“I am a dork for what I said,” she said, then dramatically cast her arm aside, “Dignity; I’ve been left without a shred.”


Tara lay on top of Willow and held that lazily strewn arm above her head. Her fingertips trailed against the tender skin of the underside of Willow’s arm, making the blood flow hotly in the veins underneath.


“I really like that everywhere you’re,” she started, glancing downwards at Willow through her eyelashes, “Red.”


Willow turned pink again, which only spurned Tara on. She brought Willow’s hand down and placed it palm-down on the sheet. She stroked the back of Willow’s hand teasingly and brought her mouth to her girlfriend’s ear, whispering evocatively.


“You’re going to need to hold on to this thread.”


Willow felt a hot drop below her stomach and struggled not to squirm.


“You’re good,” she said in an echoing tone as Tara moved back down her body, “You’re very…goooood…”


Her eyelids closed softly as Tara got right back to what she was doing before, but was lightly scraping Willow’s thigh instead of just squeezing.


Ooh…that’s…that’s something…mmm…


Willow was so relaxed and so turned on that she was coming in minutes. True to Tara’s prediction, her hand was bunching up the sheet; knuckles white as the fingers tensed through climax.


Finally, she released it and let out a soft sigh of satisfaction, just as Tara came up, bringing the blanket with her. She put it over them and snuggled in, which Willow was all too happy to oblige.


“We never got to snuggle properly,” she said, putting a hand on Tara’s cheek and using her thumb to wipe Tara’s mouth and chin clean, before popping a kiss on her lips, “This must be rectified.”


She slipped a leg between Tara’s and splayed her fingers over her hip, rubbing the bone.


Tara moved her head as close as possible on the pillow. She smiled.


“You just get cuter the closer I get.”


Willow sighed happily.


“I can’t believe you’re here. In my bedroom.”


“Your room is really nice by the way,” Tara said, casting her eye around, “So is your house. You didn’t do it justice when you described it to me.”


“You really only saw my foyer and the staircase,” Willow replied bashfully.


Tara lifted the sheet just a tad and peered down, then grinned at Willow.


“I saw a lot more than that.”


Willow blushed and giggled. Her hand dropped to give Tara’s butt a little squeeze before settling again.


Tara relaxed into the spot, in disbelief herself that she got to stare into Willow’s green eyes, so unobstructed and full of love.


“Question time?” she asked softly.


“Yes,” Willow answered, taking a moment to gather her non-sexual thoughts, “So…Are you here? For…for good?”


“Yes,” Tara answered happily, “I’ll have to go back a couple of times to finalize the sales but I’m staying here in town until I get somewhere rented here. I meant it when I said I was offering you all of me. Not a back-and-forth. All of me.”


“I’ll take all of you and hold on tight,” Willow replied, moving even closer again and doing just as she said, “Where are you staying?”


“My stuff is at Anya’s right now,” Tara explained, “I would have had to pay an extra day to check into the motel early and I didn’t want to delay getting to you so she let me store it there.”


Willow’s nose scrunched. Tara seemed pained.


“I know you don’t like her, Willow, but she has been a friend to me.”


Willow shook her head.


“No, not…her. The motel? That sleaze-fest of a building?”


Tara tried not to look embarrassed.


“It’s Thanksgiving weekend, the hotel is sold out. And it was probably a good thing because the motel is a cheaper base to have if it takes me a couple of weeks to sort out everything. I have some appointments next week for properties. One of them has a store space downstairs and an apartment upstairs. That would be perfect if it's suitable.”


“But…the motel…” Willow said in disgust, before realizing how she sounded and quickly changed tack, “You know you can stay with me.”


“I don’t want to impose,” Tara said bashfully, “I don’t want you to get sick of me already.”


Willow knew that was nonsense but didn’t want to sound dismissive.


“Okay but…” she started to reason, “If you came to visit, you would’ve stayed with me for a couple of days, right?”


“Yeah,” Tara nodded.


“So, just stay for a couple of days,” Willow pleaded hopefully, “Please. Are you really going to go back to a motel tonight and miss out on all this?”


She held the sheet open for Tara to have another peek, who giggled, then kissed her.


“Thank you. Your bedroom is a lot nicer than the motel.”


“A Porta Potty is nicer than that motel,” Willow replied, nose scrunching again but she changed the subject quickly, “So you’re selling the buildings at home, but renting here?”


“Yes,” Tara answered with a short nod, happy to move on too, “The house and the store will give me enough to jumpstart the business here and enough saved to hopefully be a deposit for a home someday. My mom would have been happy about that.”


Willow smiled at Tara’s smile.


“I noticed the flower shop you used to work in is an ice-cream store now.”


Tara nodded.


“Part of the reason I came back…everything just sort of fell into place.”


Willow rested her forehead on Tara’s.


“Fate.”


“Fate,” Tara answered, pecking Willow’s lips sweetly, “Luckily my business plan transfers pretty easily and I’m hoping that offer for help on the internet side of things is still open.”


“Of course,” Willow replied genuinely, “I’ve actually been building a website and a Facebook page and stuff for the store.”


Tara looked surprised, which Willow misinterpreted.


“Don’t worry, nothing is published or anything. If you have the budget you’ll want to get a professional anyway, but I dabbled in software and website design in college so I just, umm…” she trailed off, blushing, “I can show you if you want.”


“Yes, please,” Tara replied, amazed.


Willow rolled over to the other side of the bed and opened her nightstand drawer to retrieve her laptop. Tara sat up, letting the sheet rest on her chest and back against the headboard. Willow sat next to her and booted up her computer.


She pulled up the unpublished web page she’d built and shyly showed it to Tara.


“Those pictures are stunning,” Tara commented.


Willow nodded.


“I found those a couple of days ago. I put them in as a template just to show you until we can get real ones for your own flowers. But I liked the photos so I looked up the photographer and she’s in-state and reasonable so it might be an idea to hire her when you’re ready.”


Tara was touched by a lot of things, not least of which was Willow saying ‘we’ but still deferring completely to her. She just wanted to help, not take over.


“You were still working on it a couple of days ago?” she said eventually, “Even when you hadn’t heard from me?”


Willow looked sheepish.


“Sucker for love, eh?”


“You’re not a sucker,” Tara replied, shaking her head, then grinning, “Pretty good licker though.”


Willow blushed to her toes, so Tara allowed a change in subject.


“I can’t believe you’ve done all this for me. Has it cost you anything?”


“Nah,” Willow only slightly lied and pulled up the Facebook page she’d started, “See Facebook is all free, but they charge you if you want to get more people to see your posts. That's how they suck you in. But a good digital marketing class will teach you all of this.”


“I’m definitely getting in on one of those,” Tara replied, trying not to feel overwhelmed.


“Oh, they do them at the university!” Willow said eagerly, “I can get you the info and make sure you get a nice professor.”


Tara leaned in to kiss Willow’s cheek.


“Thank you. Really. I’m stunned that you…”


“Care this much?” Willow asked softly, “Well get used to it. I love you. I think I’ve loved you since the moment I laid eyes on you.”


Tara kissed Willow’s lips this time.


“To have this to visualize and work with…and know I have someone who won’t laugh at me if I need help…”


“And we’re one step ahead because I’ve already secured ‘The Flower Girl’ username on all the big social media,” Willow said, neglecting to mention a payoff or two she’d given some hipster teenagers for the naming rights, “You’ll probably want some personal profiles too…we could jump the gun and get you started on Facebook if you want. If you start building up your friends, you’ll have more reach when you’re ready to launch the store page.”


“Okay,” Tara agreed easily, “You’ll have to help me.”


“Of course!” Willow replied, opening up a new tab quickly, “You’ll need an email address. You don’t have one, right?”


Tara shook her head.


“I had a college one but not anymore, obviously.”


“I’ll set you up one real quick,” Willow replied, impressing Tara with the speed of her fingers, even knowing already what they were capable of, “Your name is unusual so you might even get it—yup, there we go! I used your middle initial.”


“You remembered?” Tara asked, touched.


Willow smiled and nodded.


“I thought it was sweet you and your grandma shared a middle name. I wish they’d kept calling you TJ though. I think it’s so cute! Tara Jane is cute on its own, but TJ? Get outta here.”


“I grew out of it after five,” Tara reasoned.


Willow pecked Tara’s cheek.


“Well Tara J Maclay has its own rhyming charm.”


She smiled as Tara rested her head on her shoulder.


“Okay, I’ve set up dummy passwords, you can change them later. Hey, your birthday. Why don’t I know your birthday?”


“October 16th,” Tara answered.


Willow’s eyes went wide.


“I missed it!” she exclaimed, disappointed, “Why didn’t you tell me?”


Tara shrugged one shoulder.


“It didn’t seem important.”


“Well, it is,” Willow insisted, “I’ll take you out for dinner tonight to make up for it. Where’s your favorite place in town?”


Tara didn’t even argue; it was a novelty to feel so cared for and she was going to bask in it.


“I like Cielito.”


“Cielito it is!” Willow replied cheerily, “Good choice, actually. Great tacos. Although they’re not first date food, but this isn’t our first date, unless you only count the ones on US soil, even though we went out in Spain but that was vacation and we didn’t know if we’d see each other again so it’s a different dynamic and wow that’s a very specific kind of date we’re having.”


Tara squeezed Willow’s hand to make her take a breath.


“It’s just some food and conversation.”


Willow smiled easy.


“I love both of those things. Especially with you,” she said sweetly, then turned her attention back to the task at hand, “Oh, we have to pick a profile picture.”


“I don’t have any,” Tara replied, her eye line falling on a cute freckle on Willow’s neck.


“I have some from Spain,” Willow said, bringing up a folder, “Oh, hey, I have one I really love.”


She pulled up her favorite photo, a close up of Tara smelling a beautiful purple flower that Willow knew she’d been given the full history of, but hadn’t absorbed much because she’d spent the time just staring. The purple caught Tara’s eyes and Willow had caught the moment before she looked up, so her eyes were shining with the grin that was tugging and almost, but not quite completely, hidden by the flower.


She must have opened it a couple of hundred times since she took it, but it still made her heart skip a beat. She sighed happily.


“There’s my flower girl,” she said, gazing at it for a moment, “Can I use this one?”


“Whatever you want,” Tara answered, moving to nuzzle the freckle. She was getting into her own little daze.


Willow uploaded the picture.


“Hey, that’s a good bio. Just ‘The flower girl’. Accurate and on-brand,” she mused, then added sheepishly, “I’ve been reading up on e-commerce. You like it?”


“Mmhm,” Tara agreed absently.


She was growing distracted.


“I’ll add me as a friend to start with…can add others later,” Willow said, humming along as Tara’s lips caressed the skin on her neck.


Willow spent a few minutes filling in the relevant information until there was only one section left.


“So…” she said casually, “Are you in a relationship?”


Willow tried to make out she was teasing but really she was a little nervous.


She may have had an ulterior motive in helping Tara make the account.


Tara realized Willow was waiting on her.


“Sorry?” she asked, sitting herself up.


“Are you in a relationship?” Willow prompted.


“I hope so,” Tara answered.


Willow grinned.


“Can I link me? So basically it says you’re in a relationship with me and my profile pops up, and vice versa on my page.”


Tara pretended to think about it.


“I don’t know if my other girlfriend will like that.”


Willow’s mouth hung open in shock for a moment, before she grabbed her pillow and hit Tara smack bang in the face. While Tara was recovering, she pressed the button and shoved her laptop away, out of reach.


“It’s done, we’re Facebook official and there’s no coming back from that.”


Tara reached in to twirl the ends of Willow’s hair again. She'd often rubbed her fingers together imagining Willow's silken strands were between them.


“Is that what this was about? You wanted to show off a little online?”


“Guilty,” Willow admitted.


Tara smiled a crooked smile.


“It’s kinda flattering actually,” she said, placing her palm flat on Willow’s thigh, “And I least I know you weren’t ignoring my advances for nothing.”


“You were advancing?” Willow asked with an arched eyebrow.


Tara winked.


“Like a tiger.”


Willow held the sheet away from her and patted her lap.


“We’ll c’mere and make me roar.”


Tara gracefully slid into Willow’s lap.


“That was cheesy.”


Willow’s nose scrunched adorably.


“You love it.”


Tara rested her forehead on Willow’s.


“I love you.”


Willow ran her thumb over Tara’s lips.


“I’ll never get sick of hearing that.”


Tara gently nibbled on the skin of Willow’s thumb. Willow grinned.


“I like it when you bite.”


Tara pressed her lips into Willow’s neck, then scraped her teeth there.


“Wait ‘til you see what I can do around here.”


She suckled Willow’s neck, delicately leaving a light mark in place. Her hand moved down to Willow’s breast and cupped it firmly, loving how it perfectly fit in her hand.


Willow pulled Tara’s hips so her thighs spread over Willow’s lap. She exposed her neck at an even sharper angle so she felt the sweet pull of Tara’s lips on her strained skin.


Her palm moved to the base of Tara’s spine, fingertips caressing there in a light tickle. She felt the shiver go through her girlfriend and shuddered back when Tara’s thighs quaked against hers.


She raked her nails along the trembling thighs and Tara threw her head back, groaning in pleasure.


Willow watched the flush rise on Tara’s chest again and made a skillful knock forward, rolling them so Tara was on her back and upside down, whilst Willow knelt between her legs.


She ran her hands along Tara’s thighs again, then down her calves to feel the strong muscles she remembered being there. As her fingers brushed against the tautness, a flash of color contrasting Tara skin on her left calf caught Willow’s eye.


She gently twisted Tara’s foot and her eyebrows lifted in surprise when she saw the ink etched in there.


Leaves branched out from Tara’s heel and stretched up her shin into a blossoming flower. Willow was taken in by it immediately.


“Why didn’t I notice this before?” she asked, rubbing one finger up and down the design, “I know I made a point to kiss you absolutely everywhere in Spain.”


“I only got it when I came home,” Tara replied, arching her knee a little so her calf was angled towards them.


“You never told me,” Willow replied, hoping she didn’t sound too hurt about it.


Tara sat herself up and gently tucked some hair behind Willow’s ear.


“It was before I got your first letter. I had the idea on the plane and I just went for it before I chickened out.”


Willow smiled at Tara, then back at the tattoo.


“It’s a tulip, right?”


Tara nodded.


“My mom’s favorite flower. Tulips were just…on my mind. I had the image in my head so I sketched it out and brought it down.”


“Wow, you designed it?” Willow asked in awe because it really was quite intricate, “I like the shading. It’s unusual. What made you choose it?”


Tara shrugged one shoulder.


“I dunno…I just liked the blue flower and green leaves mixed together.”


Willow’s gaze returned to Tara and blue met green once again.


“I think it’s very beautiful,” she complimented sincerely, then added on more shyly, “It’s something I’ve thought about doing too.”


“What would you get?” Tara enquired, her hand now playing with the end of Willow’s hair, against the nape of her neck.


Willow’s eyes moved downward.


“I feel like it’s really lame and nerdy.”


Tara lifted Willow’s face by way of a chaste but sweet kiss.


“It doesn’t matter as long as you like it. You don’t have to tell me if it’s too personal.”


Willow immediately shook her head to indicate that wasn’t true.


“Well…I was thinking about a Mobius strip,” she admitted bashfully, “Sort of like a reminder that the only boundary I have is myself.”


She rolled her eyes self-deprecatingly.


“In the geekiest way possible,” she continued, “I was gonna get it in a rainbow gradient…so geeky and gay. Your girlfriend is geeky and gay.”


“And gorgeous,” Tara finished, making Willow's cheeks redden.


“I was hoping to be together a bit longer before my geek-infested roots came out.”


Tara’s eyebrow arched.


“Infested roots, trying to turn me on?”


Willow’s cheeks blushed even more and she couldn’t stop the grin from breaking out on her face.


“Is it working?”


Tara laid back down, moving at a slowly seductive pace.


“Why don’t you check?”


Willow gripped Tara’s thighs and moved so she was lying on top. She teased Tara’s lips by nipping at them lightly. She finally kissed her, gently slipping her tongue in just as Tara’s lips parted. Tara’s moan fell into Willow’s mouth, who greedily palmed the flesh under her hand.


After just a few moments, Willow could feel that Tara was indeed turned on as it slipped out onto her thighs. Her fingers inched forward to dip into Tara’s folds until the kiss was abruptly stopped.


“Willow—”


“Yeah?” Willow asked breathlessly, immediately pausing all movements.


Tara cleared her throat to clear the fog and gently reached for Willow’s hand, holding it close to their faces.


“I love how these feel on my thighs,” she said, running her thumb along Willow’s smooth but jutting nails, “But maybe you could trim them a little before we keep going?”


Willow’s eyes widened in horror as she looked at her hand.


“Oh my god, I’m so sorry!”


She jumped up like she’d been shocked and ran across to her ensuite in three brisk strides. There was some rustling and then Willow stood half in and out of the doorway, back to Tara as she clipped her nails into the trash.


“It’s been…” she started, then looked over her shoulder with a blush and apologetic smile, “Well, you know how long it’s been.”


Tara couldn’t help but smile.


“I wasn’t going to ask, but nice to know.”


There were a few more clicks of the nail clippers, then metal being thrown against metal as Willow scurried back to Tara. She slowed as she climbed on top again, neither of them seeming to care that they were still upside down.


“As if I could even look at another woman after knowing you,” she said softly, “And I don’t just mean since Spain, by the way. I mean since the flower shop.”


Tara reached up and tapped her fingertips against Willow’s jaw.


“Me too.”


Willow turned her cheek in to kiss Tara’s palm, then claimed her lips again, slow and tender.


As it grew heated, she lightly scraped her now-shortened nails against Tara’s inner thigh.


“Better?” she popped the words against Tara’s mouth in an evocative whisper.


Tara’s lips quirked up on one side.


“I dunno, you better test them properly.”


Willow’s palm slid down Tara’s thigh until she could hook her girlfriend’s knee over her hip. Tara’s eyes started to cloud as Willow’s hand cupped her between her legs. She gasped as fingers slid along her and bumped against her clit, only adding to its engorgement.


Willow felt herself clench at how wet Tara was; her fingers immediately coated without her needing to even dip inside. She rolled over Tara’s clit again and again until it was peeking out fully pink and Tara was gasping and grinding into her.


Willow slowed down a little and let her fingers slide down until they were at her opening.


“Okay?” she asked softly.


Tara nodded breathlessly, her back immediately arching as Willow pushed inside.


Willow dropped her mouth into Tara’s neck because she needed to be consuming her everywhere. She’d wanted and longed and ached for Tara for so long, her body craved a totality in taking her.


Tara was displaying the same yearning as she pushed into Willow’s touch, taking it wherever she could get it. Her knee dug into Willow’s butt cheek so hard that it would probably leave a bruise, as their bodies came together again and again.


“Oh god, Willow,” Tara panted, her body already coiling with the pressure of so many months of only partially satiated desire, “Harder.”


Willow pressed herself even closer and really put her hips into it. Tara responded immediately, clawing at Willow’s back while her hips rose to meet each stroke.


The steady rocking made them creep down along the bed, but they were both so engrossed they didn’t notice until they nearly toppled out. Willow grabbed the sheet at the last second and pinned Tara down with her hips, who let out a strained groan as it made the fingers inside her push in even deeper.


“Come with me,” Willow said, then blushed even more in her flushed cheeks, “I mean, um, hold on.”


Tara crossed her arms behind Willow’s neck and moved with her as she brought them back to the top end of the bed. They were right back where they started with Tara sitting in Willow’s lap. Tara spread her knees and brought their faces close enough to touch.


Willow quickly got back to what she was doing and started to curl her fingers now she could see the reaction on Tara’s face so closely. She dropped kisses on Tara’s mouth, their lips smashing together and pulling apart with every rolling thrum of Tara’s body.


Finally, Tara’s breath hitched and her mouth rested, open, against Willow’s.


“I…love…you…”


Willow felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up and a warmth filled her body at the same time as it fell from Tara and down her wrist.


Everything was still for a perfect moment, then Tara crumbled against her, moaning into her mouth.


Slowly, Tara moved away, her forehead still shining with sweat. Her legs stretched out under her, while her upper body stayed slumped against the headboard, just about supporting herself. The sheet was draped over her chest and one knee bent, making the lower half of the sheet ride up and expose her opposite calf and the defined muscle. Her tattoo was bright against the white sheet.


Willow’s gaze was directed there for several moments until it finally rose to meet Tara’s eyes as she caught up with her breath.


She smirked at the utterly spent look on Tara’s face.


“Was that good?”


Tara’s head lightly knocked against the headboard and one eyebrow arched in Willow’s direction.


“You know it was.”


Willow scooted in so they were close enough to share breath.


“I like it when you say it.”


Tara gently sucked Willow’s bottom lip into her mouth.


“You make me come—”


She breathed the rest of the sentence against Willow’s lips as a cell phone began ringing from somewhere on the floor.


Her eyes closed at the interruption and she sat back, while Willow, with a scowl, threw the covers off and went to find wherever her phone had fallen during their swift undressing.


She fumed when she got to it and listened to the voicemail.


“What part of ‘holiday weekend’ does work not understand!”


Tara blew out some air and scooted down a little more in bed.


“I would have thought professors would have been taking all the time off they could. Half of mine barely showed up to class when I was in college.”


Willow fired off a text she would regret later when her samples would continuously be ‘mislaid’ and turned her phone off.


“Professors, yes. Neurotic grad students…not so much. Hello, molecular structures can wait ‘til Monday. We even call it Molecular Monday! Everyone takes turns and brings in something they cooked using—” Willow started to rant, but stopped with a blush when she saw Tara’s eyes slowly closing, “Sorry. I go on sometimes.”


Tara smarted and immediately sat up straight.


“No, no. I like when you ‘go on’,” she said, deeply apologetic, “It’s not you. My flight was early this morning.”


She cupped Willow’s cheek and ran her thumb over the jawline there. Willow leaned into it.


“Well, some sleepiness is allowed. Have a little nap. I did and I slept in this morning,” she replied easily, “You must be starving too. We missed lunch but we can get an early dinner in a bit if you want.”


Tara nodded, her hand gracefully falling from Willow’s face, down her neck, and to the bed. She brought it to her own face and gently slapped her cheek.


“I have to go collect my bag. I don’t want to be taking up their space. I know Anya has stock everywhere from Black Friday sales.”


Willow twirled her finger.


“Lie down. Close your eyes,” she said tenderly, “That is a demand, not a request.”


“Okay,” Tara succumbed, slowly sinking down in the bed until she was lying fully.


Willow brought the blanket up over them and curled into Tara from behind.


“Are you okay being the little spoon?” she whispered.


Tara smiled lazily.


“I am right now,” she murmured.


Willow cuddled in, fingers loosely linked and hanging in front of Tara’s belly. She felt Tara’s breath even out pretty quickly and closed her eyes to enjoy just breathing together for a few minutes.


She’d thought of this moment often; dreamed of it as she cuddled her pillow at night, longing to bury her face into Tara’s neck and smell the last of her perfume sweating off her skin.


She took advantage of the opportunity to make her dreams come true and gently nuzzled her nose under Tara’s ear. Her scent was even sweeter than Willow remembered; like all of the exposure to the fresh flowers had permeated her skin and made her smell like an early spring morning.


Her fingertips brushed over Tara’s stomach, sinking in lightly until she felt muscles, ever-so-slightly tightening on an inward breath before relaxing again.


The last time they’d fallen asleep together, Willow had literally passed out at the break of dawn — she didn’t even remember doing it. One moment she was cresting the wave of the countless number of orgasms she’d had that night, the next she was waking up alone in strained sheets. She hadn’t gotten the chance to enjoy this peaceful moment.


In a way, she was grateful. Getting to experience it now, knowing they weren’t on the verge of parting…it was more than a peaceful moment. It was just peace.


She stayed there until she almost fell asleep herself, at which point she made herself get up. Though she would have been happy to settle there all day and all night, she wanted to get things ready for their date — their first, real not-on-vacation date, technically, which seemed so odd considering how intimately they’d weaved themselves into each other’s lives over the last few months.


She left a kiss on Tara’s temple and snuck out, throwing back on the clothes discarded amongst various points of the room.


With one last lingering look at Tara’s semi-exposed back, she tiptoed down the stairs.


Her heart caught when she saw the squashed bouquet Tara had brought for her abandoned on the floor, missing many of its scattered petals. She lifted each one up and held it in her hands for a moment, wondering what to do. She definitely didn’t just want to toss it but it wasn’t in any condition for display.


She brought it into the living room and got out her special notebook that she used to write Tara’s letters. She pressed it between the sheets and smiled as she tucked it away in it’s drawer again, knowing she had it safe.


She took a quick look around and figured she better straighten up before Tara viewed the rest of her house.


Luckily, she was a tidy sort so only had to spend a couple of minutes fixing a few things neatly while her coffee was brewing. There was a skip in her step as she moved around the living space. She picked up the book she’d been reading when Tara had knocked at the door and just smiled at it.


“You’re not being finished anytime soon,” she said as she tucked it back onto her book shelf, “Your prose was lacking anyway.”


She called the restaurant and made a reservation, asking for a particular table by the window. She lucked out that there was still plenty of availability, with most people home for the holiday.


The scent of coffee alerted her to the fact that hers was ready. She grabbed her travel mug and filled it up, then picked up her keys and walked out of the house through the back door. She locked it again and made her way through her backyard to the side street that her car was parked on.


She took a swig of the coffee and enjoyed as it settled warmly in her stomach. It was a quick drive to where she was going, a route she normally walked unless it was late. She arrived at the door and gave it a knock. It opened promptly.


“Oh,” Willow said, clearing her throat, “Um, hi Anya.”


“Willow,” Anya replied with not-quite-repressed disdain, “Xander’s not here. And I don’t have time to entertain, it’s one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year. I have to get back to The Magic Box.”


“I actually came to get Tara’s bag,” Willow explaining, her cheeks tinging pink, “She’s…taking a nap.”


Anya's lips pursed into a thin line.


“Well I hope you’re giving her adequate orgasms,” she said with her nose upturned.


“I hope they’re more than adequate,” Willow scoffed, then her brow creased, “Did she say something?”


Anya just rolled her eyes and stepped aside.


“Her luggage is over here.”


Willow stepped inside, and the bag was sitting against the wall right inside. Willow lifted the handle and pulled it behind her. She paused before she walked back out.


“I hope that we can…try to get along. You know, now that our significant others and best friends are all intertwined.”


Anya considered it and eventually shrugged one shoulder.


“I guess she could have worse orgasm friends.”


Willow was genuinely touched.


“Thank you, Anya.”


She went in for a hug, but Anya recoiled.


“What are you doing?!”


Willow immediately stepped back.


“Yeah, no, too much, too much,” she replied, clearing her throat, “Thank you for the bag. Um. Bye.”


She pulled the bag out of the apartment and down the pathway until a voice called after her.


“Don’t forget the importance of good oral health.”


Willow spun on her heels, alarmed and brought a hand up to her mouth, blowing into it.


“Does my breath stink?”


“No, but if your cunnilingus game does, Tara shouldn’t have to suffer,” Anya retorted.


Willow’s cheeks flamed and she jerked the suitcase into movement again.


“Yep, going now. Bye!”


She hurried to the car and put the bag in the trunk, then sat back into the driver’s seat and banged her head against the steering wheel.


“Why, Tara, why? Xander, I get, but you’re smart!”


She forced herself to breathe it out and forget about it, determining that she loved Tara a thousand times more than she could ever hate Anya. She made a couple of quick detours on the way home, picking up some good food and wine for the rest of the weekend.


When she arrived back home, two grocery bags in one arm and wheeling the back behind her in the other, Tara was up and in the kitchen, sipping on a cup of coffee in an old t-shirt of Willow’s that reached her mid-thigh.


Willow brightened when she saw her.


“Hey, you’re up.”


Tara stepped forward and took the groceries, leaving them on the counter.


“Oh, you got my bag,” she said when she saw it, and kissed Willow on the cheek, “Honey, thank you.”


“No problem,” Willow replied bashfully, her eyes raking in Tara’s exposed legs, “You found my old college tee.”


“Do you mind?” Tara asked, pulling gently at the hem as if to cover herself a little more.


Willow pushed herself up against Tara, who backed up against the counter.


“I wish I had a slightly-too-big men’s button-down, you would look so great in that...and only that.”


She slipped her hand under the t-shirt and rubbed Tara’s hip, noting she had opted against any underwear.


“But this definitely has its appeal.”


Her hand moved upwards and cupped Tara’s breast. She grinned.


“Yup. Plenty of appeal.”


“Appealing apparel,” Tara replied, not without her own seductive smirk.


Willow’s hand moved back to her hip and Tara held her coffee mug between both hands, whilst looking out the kitchen window to Willow’s back yard. It was small, but well maintained and had a table and chairs set that she could see them enjoying a beer or a cocktail on a long summer evening, or an easy mid-morning brunch.


“You have a nice yard,” she commented, smiling at the thought.


Willow lifted the hem of Tara’s t-shirt and peaked beneath. Tara’s eyebrows lifted.


“And just what do you think you’re doing?”


Willow smiled coyly.


“Well, you’re admiring my bushes…so I figured I should get to admire yours. Nice and neat.”


She let the t-shirt hang loose again.


“I think I’m going to need a closer look.”


Tara’s eyebrows rose again as Willow sank to her knees, followed by her eyes fluttering closed as Willow’s head became a bulge under the t-shirt.


Tara left her half-full mug in the sink just off to the side and bent her elbows so they rested on the counter behind her for support. She giggled as Willow’s hair brushed against her stomach, but it quickly quietened in place of a moan.


She felt fingers curl around either side of her hips and hold her in place while Willow’s lips sunk into her. Tara’s tongue wetted her lips as they went dry and her hips jerked back against the door of the cabinet behind her butt.


Willow’s short but still deliciously scratchy nails dug deeper into her hips and a groan vibrated past Tara’s lips. As Willow’s tongue came into play, Tara’s neck lolled back and she gently pushed herself forward to get it where she wanted it.


Willow didn’t tease too long; her position wasn’t known for its superb comfort, especially on kitchen tiles. Her tongue coaxed Tara’s clit into a throbbing mess.


Tara’s hands curled under the granite, knuckles turning white, as similar nail indents were left in her skin. Willow’s name buzzed on her lips as the orgasm rushed through her body, finally expelling it in a whisper as her toes uncurled beneath.


Willow’s head popped out and she wiped her mouth on the t-shirt. She used the counter for leverage as she stood, stretching her knees out to dull the mild burning sensation. Her hair was mussed and her lips were still shiny and Tara had to pull her forwards to wipe the smug grin off her face with a kiss.


She reached to unsnap Willow’s belt, but hands moved over hers to stop her.


“Hold on, hold on,” Willow said, quite reluctantly, “I made us dinner reservations. We have to get ready.”


She saw the momentary disappointed look on Tara’s face and it thrilled her to know it was in response to her having to remain fully clothed. She leaned in to whisper in Tara’s ear.


“But don’t worry, we have all the time in the world after.”


She moved so their noses bumped.


“I wanna try that ‘together’ thing I seem to remember we were pretty good at.”


“You think I’m going to sleep with you on the first date?” Tara teased softly.


Willow drew her gaze back to meet Tara’s eye.


“I don’t know what to call this date, but ‘first’ it isn’t…I think we’ve established that ” she said, then had to stop to swallow a lump forming in her throat, “I missed you so much. Way more than I had any right to.”


Tara cupped Willow’s cheek gently.


“You had every right,” she whispered against Willow’s lips, “I was always yours, Blossie.”


Willow felt a swell in her heart, and then again down lower. She pushed Tara up against the counter again and all but mauled for a moment before making herself pull away.


“Is dinner that important? We can order in,” she questioned, then physically took a step back, “Yes, yes, Willow, it is important. I’m going to treat you the way you deserve to be treated. Like a queen.”


Tara was touched and ducked her head bashfully. Willow took the opportunity of not being distracted by Tara’s beautiful face to force herself away. She grabbed Tara’s luggage by the handle again and started to bring it upstairs.


Tara followed behind as Willow walked further down the upstairs hallway to the guest room, which she opened and wheeled the bag into.


Tara leaned against the doorframe, arms crossed loosely over her chest and seemingly amused.


“If you’re being a gentlewoman by putting me in the guest room…”


Willow leaned in, unable to resist a peck.


“Just to get ready. You’ll have your own bathroom and I can at least pretend to ‘collect’ you.”


Tara pushed away from the frame.


“I accept the gesture.”


Willow walked towards the door.


“I’ll pick you up at 7 o’clock sharp.”


“I’ll be ready,” Tara vowed, grinning.


Willow closed the door softly, with a parting wave and walked back to her own bedroom. She looked at the messy sheets and her smug and very satisfied grin settled back on her face.


She smoothed everything out, ready to be messed up again when the evening progressed. When the bed was made, she sat on the edge and ran her hand over the spot where Tara had been lying, still lightly indented with her form.


She shook her head, still in shock. Tara was here, in her house, had been in her bed and was staying. Had come for her. To be with her. It was astounding and flabbergasting and surreal and so unbelievably right all at once.


She didn’t underestimate the gesture of faith Tara was making for them, and for herself, and planned to help and be by her side every step of the way. She was so very glad Tara already knew and had lived in the area. It made the transition back so much easier, especially as they navigated their new relationship. Learning how to physically fit in each other’s lives was just as important as the emotional bond they’d spent the last months building.


Willow let herself have a few more moments of awe before she snapped to attention and made her way into the bathroom. She put the shower on and undressed while it warmed, then stepped under the spray. She washed and took care to condition her hair because she remembered Tara liked to play with it and she, in turn, liked it being played with. At least with Tara’s fingers.


She shuddered as she remembered Tara’s fingers and got distracted for a moment until some suds entered her mouth and pulled her back to the task at hand. She finished showering and spent the next little while rooting through her closet while the cord of the blow dryer stretched to allow her multitask.


Finally, after choosing a little black dress as the most appropriate non-first-date-first-date attire she owned and making a little effort with her makeup like Buffy had shown her a couple of times, she slipped on a pair of beaded white sandals and went to stand outside the guest room door.


She looked down at her watch and had three minutes and seventeen seconds until the specified time, so she just stood.


After a minute or so passed, the door opened and Tara’s head peeked out.


“Hey.”


Willow couldn’t help but smile.


“Hey.”


There was a lull before Tara spoke again.


“I heard you come up to the door,” she explained, followed by another lapse of silence, “Are we waiting for something?”


Willow started to blush.


“It’s…it’s not seven.”


Tara offered a wink.


“I like punctuality. I don’t mind if you’re a little early.”


“Oh, okay!” Willow replied, straightening up with a grin.


When she didn’t move from there, Tara closed the door, which Willow promptly rapped on.


Tara opened the door properly this time, revealing herself in a dress similar in style to Willow’s – to the knee with some exposed back and short shoulder sleeves, except hers was red and had a lace finish. She wore matching red heels.


Willow was visibly bowled over.


“You look…” she started, just stunned, “You are a revelation.”


Tara’s cheeks turned pink as she held her clutch to her front.


“Well, I think you look absolutely delectable.”


Willow joined in on the blush.


“You should save those kinds of compliments for the food.”


“I have enough appetite for both,” Tara replied, her eyes falling down Willow’s body momentarily.


Willow’s ankles turned inwards in delight and she offered her arm.


Tara linked in so their elbows locked and they headed downstairs. After Willow grabbed her purse and jacket they walked out the back again to Willow’s car. Tara stopped by the gate that led to the sidewalk to softly, almost tenderly touch the petals of the flowers growing there, before leaning in to inhale the sweet scent.


“Lilium Orientalis,” she recited as if she were saying the name of a fond friend, “Stargazer. Beautiful flower.”


“I picked it for the name,” Willow admitted, then added on sheepishly, “A gardener did the actual work.”


Tara straightened up again.


“You like to stargaze?”


Willow smiled.


“I’ve been known to.”


“Maybe we could bring a blanket out here some time and ponder the skies,” Tara suggested, as she walked through the small gate Willow opened for her.


“Do you follow the constellations?”


Tara nodded.


“I’ve even made up one or two of my own.”


“I look forward to you teaching me,” Willow replied, stealing a cheek kiss that made them both melt.


Willow chivalrously opened the passenger side of her car for Tara before getting in on the driver’s side and pulling away from the curb.


At a stoplight, Tara began gently tracing the outline of Willow’s hand on the ‘two’ position.


“I have thought about these hands so much…”


Willow overlapped her pinky on Tara’s index finger.


“This may sound really dumb, but thanks for telling me about my fingernails earlier,” she said, turning her gaze to Tara for a couple of seconds before the light turned green, “Not just because I never want to hurt you, but because I want to know what you need. In bed and out of it. I really appreciate communication.”


Tara’s eyes fell downward.


“I know I didn’t handle all of this the best—”


“I wasn’t talking about that,” Willow cut her off quickly. “That was an exceptional circumstance and I 100% understand. I’m just saying I hope we can be upfront with each other going forward. I’ve never felt like this. I want to give it everything we’ve got.”


Tara felt her heart, mind, and body stimulated all at once and it became abundantly clear that she was heading into something that could be the making of her life, or utterly destroy her. Even if it had been a 100:1 chance that the latter would come true, Tara would have willingly tumbled in head-first. Willow was worth the chance. But she felt it in her bones that at that moment in time, she was exactly where she was supposed to be.


“I want that too,” she said finally, “I’m in for everything. The good and the not-so-good. I know that we’re dropping ourselves into a relationship without spending much time together…but I also feel like you know better than any other soul has ever known mine.”


“Tara, I…” Willow’s voice cracked and she had to blink a few times to pull herself together.


She paused and very quickly brought Tara’s hand up to kiss before gripping the wheel again.


“You mean more to me than anyone ever has. And I will work my ass off to make sure you know that.”


She nodded once, resolutely, with her eyes still on the road.


“Man, now I really need some tacos.”


Tara laughed and it made Willow giggle too. They arrived at the restaurant which only had a couple of other people in it. They were seated by the window, under the soft lighting of the candle on the middle of the table.


Willow held the seat out for Tara, and the waiter held Willow’s out for her.


“Can I get you, ladies, some drinks?”


“I’m driving, so no sharing a bottle,” Willow said, then grinned, “Of course unless I just have the one glass and you have the rest.”


“I’ll take a pass on intoxication tonight,” Tara replied in a tone that was both innocent and promising, “I’ll take a frozen margarita.”


“And I’ll take a half-strength one. And a pitcher of sweet tea, thank you,” Willow answered, then slid her menu to the side of the table, “I know what I want, do you need to look at the menu, baby?”


Tara was busy sending googly eyes in Willow’s direction over the use of the pet name to register she was being addressed.


“Oh! I’ll get the chicken fajitas and the black bean salad, please.”


The waiter noted it and looked to Willow.


“Can I get the carnitas tacos with pinto beans; two crispy, two soft and the cilantro and lime rice. Thanks.”


He took the menus and disappeared, even faster in their eyes than out of the dining room, because they were just grinning goofily at each other. They didn’t even realize their drinks had been set down, that was until there was a knock on the window that made them both jump. A leggy, blonde was smiling through and waving excitedly.


Tara’s hand came up to slowly wave back and the woman began to make her way towards the door.


“Oh,” Tara said suddenly, “I didn’t tell anyone but Anya I was coming back.”


“Ex?” Willow asked, with a deer-in-the-headlights look.


“No,” Tara shook her head quickly, “I swear.”


The woman came into the restaurant and made a beeline for Tara, who stood to hug her.


“Tara! Oh, it’s so nice to see you.”


They embraced for a few moments, then Tara gestured in her friend’s direction.


“This is my friend Corinne,” she explained, “We were in college together.”


Willow stood to shake her hand politely and introduce herself, but a sense of familiarity hit her first.


“Do you work at the Espresso Pump?”


“I did during college,” Corinne replied, then smiled with a look of recognition, “I think I remember you. You used to come in with the short, blonde quippy one.”


“Buffy,” Willow clarified off Tara’s sidelong glance.


Tara nodded once.


“This is Willow.”


Corinne nodded politely, then gripped Tara’s upper arm.


“I was so sorry to hear about your mom,” she said sincerely, “Are you back for a visit or back for good?”


“Back for good,” Tara clarified, unable to help a smile in Willow’s direction.


“Fantastic,” Corinne replied, pleased, “We’ll have to catch up. I miss our chats in the Bronze. I miss you being my ear when Dwayne is being an idiot, I miss setting you up!”


Tara’s eyes glanced to Willow and Corinne’s widened.


“Oh!” she exclaimed, “Oh, my god I’m so sorry. I'm just so surprised to see you…”


“It’s fine, really. I just haven’t had a chance to get in touch with people yet,” Tara explained, “But you can, um, find me on Facebook.”


Corinne’s eyebrows rose.


“Wow, things have changed,” she said with a smile, “Well, great. I’ll send you a message.”


She smiled at Willow.


“Nice to meet you, Willow.”


Willow lifted her palm in a wave, unsure what to make of that exchange. Tara and Corinne said goodbye and Tara sat back down.


“So…” Willow spoke after a moment, “She seemed surprised that you were on a date with me.”


“Just that I landed someone so beautiful,” Tara answered smoothly.


Truthfully Tara was embarrassed because she’d only come out to her close friends like Anya, and only then because she'd been outright asked. It has just been an area of her life she kept separate to her friendships. Her initial coming out experience had scarred her more than she liked to admit.


Willow seemed to accept the compliment, which had also been truthful.


She was pensive for a moment to gather her own thoughts.


“I was in the Espresso Pump every day…The Bronze every week.”


Her hands fidgeted with the napkin in her lap.


“Our circles have been so intertwined and it took us this this long to find each other.”


Tara reached across to take Willow’s hand.


“But we did.”


Willow looked up and smiled.


“We did,” she answered, then continued softly, “I think we always will.”


Tara returned the tender smile.


“Sorry for the interruption. Don't worry about her. She's just a pal, she doesn't know me that well.”


Willow shrugged one shoulder.


“It’s okay. You’ve been gone for a year, I know you’ll have lots of catching up to do. I can’t hog you.”


Tara threw a sly wink across the table.


“You can hog me a little.”


Willow blushed some, but happily. She played with Tara’s fingers for a few moments, then brushed her thumb against the ring on the right index finger.


It was really beautiful; a cushion-shaped diamond with smaller round garnets set either side and five diamond side stones decorating the front portion of the ring before the white gold clasp hid behind the back. Every bit of it was gleaming.


“I love your ring,” she said, turning it ever so slightly around Tara’s skin, “I was actually admiring it earlier but then…the surrounding fingers became a little bit more interesting.”


Tara straightened her hand out and looked down at it.


“It was my mom’s. She called it her freedom ring.”


“That sounds like it has a story attached,” Willow replied grinning, but it faltered at the ashen look on Tara’s face, “But not one you have to tell me.”


Tara shook her head.


“No, no, it’s…” she paused to collect herself, “It’s nice to talk about her.”


She took her ring off and held it in front of her, the stones glinting against the light of the candle.


“She bought it on the one year anniversary of divorcing my father, with money she’d saved from her own paychecks that weren’t whittled away on my father’s alcohol addiction,” she explained, remembering going to the store to pick it out together, “She knew the wedding ring was a fake so she’d never had a real ring before.”


“No engagement ring?” Willow questioned.


“I was the engagement ring,” Tara replied dryly.


“Ah,” Willow nodded.


“A situation I believe led to his first marriage too,” Tara replied with obvious disdain, “Some people don’t learn from their mistakes.”


Willow was bewildered for a moment.


“No matter what, you’re not a mistake. The world is better for having you in it,” she said to Tara emphatically, who she saw take in and accept the compliment, “So your mom got sick of his philandering ways and finally kicked him to the curb?”


Tara shook her head.


“No. Unfortunately, it took an attack on something she really loved to get her to see sense.”


“What?” Willow asked, though her tone indicated she already knew and was angry about it.


“Me,” Tara answered affirmatively.


“He attacked you?” Willow almost spat, “You said he didn’t respond very well to you coming out but I didn’t know he hurt you.”


Tara nodded with pursed lips. She paused for a moment; this wasn't a story she enjoyed telling. But if she were going to tell it to anyone, it would be Willow.


“He was home one day when I came home from school. Which was odd, because I basically never saw him. He’d go to the bar after work and stumble in after I went to bed. His first words were ‘your mother told me about your perversions’.”


She paused to take a sip of her margarita and it definitely helped sweeten what was an otherwise sour story.


“In his defense, he didn’t start hitting me right away,” she joked, “He waited until I refused to get into the van with the ‘counselors’ from the pray away the gay camp.”


Willow’s eyes nearly bugged out of her head.


“Holy shit.”


Tara nodded.


“Yep. One of the neighbors had called my mom to tell her there was a commotion happening outside…luckily the store was so close to the house because they were literally locking me in when she arrived.”


Willow had to force herself to pick her mouth up from the floor.


“I don't even have words.”


Tara smiled, one that was soft but reached deep behind her eyes.


“My momma rocked though. I had never seen her flip out like that,” she said, brimming with pride, “The camp people fled immediately and she — literally — kicked him out. He must have had a boot print on his ass for days. She went to a lawyer the next morning, they were divorced in six weeks. She got the house because she agreed not to press charges. She let me decide. I spoke to my therapist and just wanted to forget it happened. She became such a happier person. The years we had in between have really been filled with amazing memories.”


Willow let Tara take a few moments to enjoy her memories before speaking.


“Sounds like a family of brave, strong women.”


Tears sprang to Tara’s eyes. Willow felt her heart break.


“Tara…”


Tara’s facial muscles tightened for a moment and she had composed herself again after a quick swipe of her eyes.


“I’m just sad she’ll never meet you,” she croaked out in a broken voice.


Willow was at a loss, but Tara wanted to move on anyway. She fixed the ring back on her hand.


“So tell me about your dysfunctional family,” she said, her joviality not entirely forced, “No flower crowns this Thanksgiving?”


Willow needed a moment herself to process everything, so took a sip from her glass too to allow her the time. A few seconds gazing at Tara’s sweet, expectant face was enough to pull her out of her own head.


“Three words I never want to hear again: turkey-shaped brooch,” she said, her hands lifting in a gesture of frustration, “She is relentless.”


“I guess it’s nice to be obsessed with a family dinner,” Tara replied kindly, “Better than something destructive.”


“That’s the thing, it is destructive,” Willow said sadly, “She’s obsessed with her image, not Thanksgiving. I actually heard her ranting about how much she hates Thanksgiving once. It’s all just a… façade. I hate having to deal with it.”


She immediately looked stricken.


“I’m sorry, I don’t mean to come across like I take my mother for granted. I can’t imagine going through what you’ve gone through,” she said, before adding on with a deep swallow, “I just wish I had a happy family life to surround you with.”


“You do,” Tara replied softly, “You’ve told me all about your friends, and your adventures with them. They’re your family.”


Willow’s lips blossomed into a slow smile.


“Yeah, they are.”


They both silently contemplated each other for a moment until their food arrived. They swapped some of each other’s to taste and after a few minutes of eating, a hiccup lifted from Tara’s throat. After a moment, there was another and Willow giggled.


“Okay, this is embarrassing,” Tara admitted, “I get the hiccups when I eat chills.”


Willow’s face was one of pure delight.


“That is so stunningly cute.”


“Aha, but I also have the cure,” Tara replied, like she held the secret to the origins of life, “Twelve seconds, constantly sipping.”


She poured a glass of the iced tea and held it to her mouth, silently sipping for twelve seconds exactly.


“No way that works,” Willow scoffed, especially when Tara hiccupped mid-drink.


But sure enough five, then ten, then twenty seconds past and no more hiccups arose.


“Whoa!”


“Every time,” Tara replied, only slightly smug, “I usually use water, but anything flat will work.”


“That needs to be studied!” Willow exclaimed, then grinned wryly, “Hey I’ve been looking for a Ph.D. topic.”


Tara’s eyebrows rose suggestively.


“I’ll be your willing subject, Dr. Rosenberg.”


Many, many images pushed to the front of Willow’s mind, so much so that she was only able to return a squeak.


“Thanks.”


Tara knew what she’d done and reveled in it. After a moment their eyes locked and Willow knew Tara knew. It was a feverish kind of intimacy to know your exact thoughts were being read but Willow wasn’t scared. She leaned in, physically and emotionally.


“Save that thought for later.”


Tara raised her glass in a silent toast, which Willow returned. They continued their meal, mostly discussing Tara’s plans and Willow figuring out what ways she could help best. It was very relaxed and very needed; a reconnection of minds and voices after so long of imagining the other speaking as they read their words.


After dinner, they went to the beach for a stroll. Tara held her shoes in one hand, and Willow’s hand in the other. There was no else around but the lapping waves at their feet and the moon full in the sky.


Willow cocked her head to look at Tara and how the moonlight caught the golden hue of her hair.


“Every time I look at you I see a new angle where you’re even more beautiful.”


Tara’s head ducked, watching the footprints there were leaving in the sand. It was a warm and reassuring feeling to see a set in a perfect set with hers, steadily by her side.


They reached the end of the stretch of sand and Willow sat herself down, knees up to her chest.


“Beautiful night, beautiful lady…yep, I’m in heaven.”


Tara sat beside Willow and they gazed at the shimmering horizon for a little while. After some time passed, Tara took Willow’s hand and angled herself towards her.


“I have to admit something to you about what happened with Corinne.”


Willow’s face dropped into a pout.


“She is your ex isn’t she?” she said, making a pained expression. “Oh god and she’s so hot.”


“No, she—” Tara started to reply, then arched an eyebrow, “You think she’s hot?”


Willow’s eyes widened.


“Oh, not me! I, I was just saying…” she pursed her lips and swallowed deeply, “Nothing, I was saying nothing. You were saying something. You should speak now.”


Tara’s eyes narrowed slightly.


“Anyway,” she said pointedly, “What I wanted to tell you, was: she was surprised because you were a girl.”


Tara could see the surprise on Willow’s face and gave her a moment before continuing.


“I’m not in the closet and I’ve been open with any friends that have asked, but it’s not something I lead with and have kept close to myself.”


“Oh,” Willow replied.


“I want you to know I fully intend to be out with you,” Tara said quickly, “I don’t want to hide any part of who you are to me. I want you to be reassured and know what’s going on, and I want you to know I meant it when I agreed to be upfront with each other earlier.”


Willow nodded to herself, then smiled.


“Thank you for communicating that with me,” she said, squeezing Tara’s knee, “But really, thank you for opening up. It’s not a problem. We'll work it out.”


They leaned in and met for a kiss, lingering for a long time. Eventually, Willow thought of an opportunity to return the trust Tara had just offered her.


“Wanna go on a little adventure?”


Tara slowly met Willow’s gaze, as her lips quirked up on one side.


“Ooh, is this a ‘fuck it’ list moment?” she teased gently, “Do I get to join in on the escapades now?”


“Hey you did the biggest ‘fuck it’ of all,” Willow replied, nodding her head once and bumping her nose against Tara’s in the process, “You came back.”


Tara rested her hands on Willow’s shoulders.


“Funnily enough, that’s pretty much what I thought when I read your letter,” she said softly, “Fuck it. I love her. I’m gonna go get my girl.”


Willow crossed her wrists behind Tara’s neck and kissed her soundly.


They kissed for several more minutes under the private and romantic backdrop, until Willow’s hand linked with Tara and pulled her towards the rocks.


“This way,”


Tara followed Willow until she started climbing the rock formation. Tara glanced at her bare feet, then at the shoes swinging off her fingers and stalled.


“Honey, these aren’t rock-climbing shoes.”


Willow looked back at her and jumped back down. She took off her sandals and held them out.


“What about your feet?” Tara asked with a creased brow.


Willow waved a hand dismissively.


“It’s fine, I was a barefoot kinda kid. I’ve stood on more than enough Lego to recreate this rock pile. Really. I’ll carry your shoes.”


She took Tara’s heels and was jumping back onto the rocks a moment later. Tara slipped the sandals over her feet and cautiously followed her. It was surprisingly solid and she found her footing quite easily.


The rock pile backed right up to the overlooking cliff, of which there was an official trail for one to hike if they wanted to get to the top. Willow, however, was going nowhere near the official trail and was just walking further and further out onto the rocks jutting out into the sea.


They were coming to the edge, so Tara figured they were about to loop back, but instead Willow made a jump down to the next ledge.


“Willow,” she said, avoiding glancing down at the crashing waves, “This looks dangerous.”


“That’s why it’s an adventure,” Willow replied cheeringly, then added reassuringly, “Don’t worry, just keep your back to the wall.”


She saw Tara’s skepticism and offered her hand.


“It’s worth it, I promise.”


Tara’s heart was pounding a little, but she took Willow’s hand and carefully lowered herself the step or two onto the ledge that led to the cliff-face. She slowly inched her way around, one hand holding Willow’s tight while the other palm gently scraped along the rock behind them.


Tara had to admit, it was quite exhilarating. They reached the far side of the cliff-face and when Tara looked up, she saw nothing but solid rock wall. However, when Willow had her duck behind a broken column, she suddenly came face to face with a giant hole in the structure, leading down into a cave.


There was a weathered rope ladder nailed inside, which Willow began to climb down.


“Come on!”


Tara followed, slightly wary, but it wasn’t very scary down there. The space was enclosed, like a small contained room, maybe thirty square foot in total. Sand littered the floor, making it soft underfoot, and when you ducked down there was a beautifully angled view of the stars and at that moment, the moon. They were covered overhead, so they would be protected from any condensation that was to fall from the sky. It was a perfectly hidden little cavern of nature and Willow had been right; it was worth it.


“Wow,” she said as she stepped off the ladder.


There was just about enough room for them both. Willow went into the corner and produced a camping lamp to give them some dim light. It was clear she was a regular visitor.


“How did you ever find this place?”


Willow took her jacket off and laid it down on the sand. Tara did the same and they sat down together.


“When we were eight, Xander chased me up here and threw my favorite Barbie as far as he could,” Willow explained with a roll of her eye, “I went searching and she’d landed in here. I tried to tell people about it but they never listened, so I forgot. Then one lonely night when I was a teenager I was brooding over Xander discovering girls and not having time for me and I decided I was glad because all he did was destroy my Barbies anyway. Then the memory came forward and I went exploring. Nearly broke my neck, but I found it.”


Tara shook her head at such a young Willow going on the journey they just went on.


Willow didn’t seem to notice, she was too busy glancing around with a fond smile.


“I love it here,” she said softly, peacefully, “I put the ladder in and brought the light. I started to bring my homework here after school and my books to study in college.”


Tara kept her mouth shut, sensing Willow just needed to talk. Willow continued after a moment.


“My parents worked away a lot when I was growing up…eventually, they just left me in charge of myself,” she said, her voice tinged with sadness, “The house would be so quiet…the silence was deafening.”


Her face was pained.


“But here…” she said, the pain clearing quickly, “The silence was soft and peaceful and tranquil.”


Her gaze flittered towards Tara’s eyes and she leaned in so their cheeks brushed against each other.


“But I wanted to show you… because now I want my silences to have your breath in it,” she whispered.


Tara made herself keep Willow’s gaze, despite the shudder that racked up her spine.


“I don’t even care if that was just a line.”


“It wasn’t,” Willow replied, almost sharply, though her tone softened again, “I’ve never brought anyone here before.”


Tara leaned in so their breath was close enough to mix. She took Willow’s hand and put it on her thigh, sliding it up under her dress.


“If you want me you can have me.”


Willow didn’t have to think about it for too long.


“Fuck it,” she breathed, pulling Tara’s bottom lip between her teeth for a moment, “Or in this case…fuck you.”


She leaned in for a fresh kiss, but suddenly pulled back alarmed.


“I mean I want to, um, have carnal relations with you, I’m not telling you to fuck—”


Tara silenced Willow with a kiss and pushed them down on top of the stretched out jackets. Willow cupped both of Tara’s cheeks and pulled her closer.


“You do have the nicest way of saying ‘shut up Willow’.”


Tara hushed her again and pushed up the hem of Willow’s dress beneath her. She pushed her fingers against Willow’s panties, which easily soaked through. Willow moaned into Tara’s mouth and slipped her hand under Tara’s dress too, palming her buttocks and the backs of her thighs. It didn’t take long for her to feel wetness start to spill out onto Tara’s skin either.


They did an awkward shimmy of panty removal while trying not to roll off the jackets, but finally, two pairs were kicked off the end of their ankles. Impressively, they’d managed not to break their kiss despite the wiggling.


Tara hiked her own dress up around her hips so their thighs would slide together. Her hand dipped between them and her fingers slid over Willow’s clit. Willow groaned and quickly returned the favor.


Tara slipped inside Willow and brought more arousal out, which she slipped back over Willow's clit. She pushed her hips a little bit as a hint and Willow understood, filling Tara too and embracing the muscles that were yearning for her and pulling her in again and again.


There wasn’t much room, but that just made it hotter; wrapping them up in their own heat they were emanating.


Their lips were pretty much just vibrating against each other at this point as they just tried to push each other over that final little bit.


Willow’s other hand was running against the small of Tara’s back, but she needed more grip as she started to break through the haze. She slipped out and yanked the zipper down to its end point above the curve of Tara’s ass. Finally, she felt the full clenching of release inside her and raked her nails down her girlfriend’s smooth back.


Tara let out a keen moan as she threw her head back.


“Willow!” she called as a fast-paced orgasm ripped through her.


She dropped back down onto Willow’s body and took a few moments to catch her breath. They slowly disentangled and ended up pressed up alongside each other, staring out into the abyss above and listening to the silence of each other breathing.


As they stared out of their rock cocoon, Tara began rubbing her thumb over Willow’s upper arm, just keeping them in contact with each other.


“Is this where you come to stargaze?”


“Sometimes,” Willow replied, though her gaze wasn’t entirely focused upwards, “I usually don’t have other beauty to distract me.”


Their lips met again for a sweet nuzzle, then Tara sat herself up to smooth out her hair and rub down her dress. She gathered her hair to one side and turned her back to Willow.


“Do you mind?”


Willow slowly zipped Tara’s dress back up, admiring the red marks she left. She left a kiss on Tara's shoulder.


“Somehow dressing you is almost as fun as undressing you.”


Tara reached for both sets of panties and handed one off to Willow, who looked at the lacy red pair in confusion.


“Um…”


“Oh,” Tara replied, smiling as she switched the pairs, “The smiley faces should have clued me in.”


She pulled her own panties up her legs and lifted her hips to secure them.


“Wow, I think I managed not to get any sand in uncomfortable places.”


“We’ll have to bring a blanket next time,” Willow commented casually.


“Oh, you have me once in your secret cave and you think you can get into my secret cave whenever you want?” Tara teased, then winked.


Willow finished fixing herself up as well, and they took another moment to appreciate that the other one was there. It had been such a long time coming.


“You wanna go home?” Tara asked softly, giving no second thought to her automatic use of the final word.


Willow leaned in and rested her head on Tara’s shoulder.


“I’m already there.”


Image


The next morning, sun filtered in through the hastily-closed curtains of Willow’s bedroom. and cast a glow against the two naked bodies twined together in bed.


They were ensconced with a sheet lazily draped over; barely pulled up before they had collapsed into slumber together. Clothes were dropped in piles and two close-to-empty wine glasses flanked them either side on the respective nightstands, with an entirely-empty bottle sitting alongside one of them.


Birds were chirping on the tree outside, the lack of any other sounds highlighting their song as people took a Sunday sleep-in away from cars or chores.


The only other discernable sounds were two sets of breathing, synced.


Willow’s eyes opened but her body seemed to sense the stillness and didn’t disturb their embrace. Her nose brushed gently against the nape of Tara’s neck and she inhaled the sweet morning scent emanating from her girlfriend.


Their chests continued to rise and fall together, each soft heave filling Willow with an intense feeling of belonging. Willow had been asleep moments ago but it only took those few seconds to know she was where she was always meant to be.


She felt her love flourish deeply in her heart as she, finally was granted what she'd been denied too many times:


Awaking with Tara curled up in her arms.

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 Post subject: Re: Love Flourishes
PostPosted: Wed Aug 16, 2017 6:05 pm 
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10. Troll Hammer
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Laragh!! That was positively wonderful! I'll be back with more comprehensive feedback once I've had a chance to digest every delightful thing about this sequel.

I just had to let you know that I absolutely LOVED this!

Cheers
DW


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 Post subject: Re: Love Flourishes
PostPosted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 10:48 am 
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1. Blessed Wannabe

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HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, Laragh, this was amazing! The intro made me laugh out loud ("It didn't start out that way, but I've learned to accept who I am as a person.") - so sweet :D

Thank you for taking the time to write a sequel to this one - it was a pleasant surprise to see a new post this morning :) And especially such an exquisite piece... I'm speechless! Regardless of this being an AU fic, you managed to keep all of the characters in perfect sync with their original selves.

I don't know if you intended it to be finished at this point but let me hereby encourage you to continue with it in the future! :))))


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 Post subject: Re: Love Flourishes
PostPosted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 2:59 pm 
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8. Vixen
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Laragh,

Wonderful little follow up to your challenge entry. Is this a "one off" or might there be more? Either way, it was much enjoyed!

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 Post subject: Re: Love Flourishes
PostPosted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 5:28 pm 
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Beautiful and heartwarming! :love

A wonderful read, thank you for this beautiful continuation Laragh!

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 Post subject: Re: Love Flourishes
PostPosted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 11:09 pm 
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Wo-o-ow :drool Very very hot, and sweet - and for an alleged-PWP, very diverse in all the facets of their new (or rather newly-confirmed) relationship. I thought it was a very clever balancing act you pulled off in demonstrating that they really do connect on a fundamental level (like Willow was saying to herself, they know each other), while at the same time having so many moments where they're asking questions and explaining and communicating - not just taking that connection for granted, but from both of them actively building on it. Smut With Feelings is very apt :wtkiss

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 Post subject: Re: Love Flourishes
PostPosted: Mon Aug 21, 2017 12:23 pm 
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Dark Wiccan -

Quote:
Laragh!! That was positively wonderful! I'll be back with more comprehensive feedback once I've had a chance to digest every delightful thing about this sequel.

I just had to let you know that I absolutely LOVED this!


Thank you so much! I'm so glad you enjoyed it :D

warrior_barbie -

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HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, Laragh, this was amazing! The intro made me laugh out loud ("It didn't start out that way, but I've learned to accept who I am as a person.") - so sweet :D


What can I say, these ladies are hot! Who could resist?

Quote:
Thank you for taking the time to write a sequel to this one - it was a pleasant surprise to see a new post this morning :) And especially such an exquisite piece... I'm speechless! Regardless of this being an AU fic, you managed to keep all of the characters in perfect sync with their original selves.


That is so great to hear, because sometimes I worry I've made these guys too much of 'my' version that it's veered away from who they really are.

Quote:
I don't know if you intended it to be finished at this point but let me hereby encourage you to continue with it in the future! :))))


I'm considering turning it into a series of one-shots! I definitely have an idea that picks up in the weeks following this one, then some more later down in their timeline...don't know if or when, but I think I'll revistit these guys at some point!

vampyregurl73 -

Quote:
Wonderful little follow up to your challenge entry. Is this a "one off" or might there be more? Either way, it was much enjoyed!


Thank you! I think there might just be more to come someday!

CopperAndGold -

Quote:
Beautiful and heartwarming! :love

A wonderful read, thank you for this beautiful continuation Laragh!


Thank you so much, I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

Artemis -

Quote:
Wo-o-ow :drool Very very hot, and sweet - and for an alleged-PWP, very diverse in all the facets of their new (or rather newly-confirmed) relationship. I thought it was a very clever balancing act you pulled off in demonstrating that they really do connect on a fundamental level (like Willow was saying to herself, they know each other), while at the same time having so many moments where they're asking questions and explaining and communicating - not just taking that connection for granted, but from both of them actively building on it.


Thank you, you don't know how much it means coming from someone who weaves worlds together so (seemingly) effortlessly.

Quote:
Smut With Feelings is very apt :wtkiss


My new favorite fanfiction term. I feel like Oprah; you get a feeling and you get a feeling, everybody gets a feeling!

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 Post subject: Love Heals
PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2017 1:08 pm 
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WRITER: Laragh

RATING: NC-17

SUMMARY: Tara has to go back to move forward.

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.

NOTE: This one is more plot than porn. But there's still a little, 'cause who am I kidding? Picks up a couple of weeks after the last one.



Love Heals



Image


Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.


Fives beeps from her watch meant it was five o’clock and Willow was out of there.


She turned the computer off after a long day and kept her head down as she made her way to the employee parking lot.


She jumped in her car and hooked her phone into the holder as she started the engine.


“Siri, call my girlfriend,” she said in a happy sing-song voice.


“Calling Tara,” Siri confirmed.


“It’s Tare-ah, Siri!” Willow replied indignantly, but her only response was a ringing tone.


Willow had finally secured Tara’s phone number, but it was still hit-and-miss whether she would actually answer.


This time, Willow lucked out.


“Hello?”


“Hey, baby!” Willow greeted enthusiastically.


“Hey you,” Tara’s warm voice greeted her back, “Good day at work?”


“My samples keep getting mislabeled but just grrreat apart from that,” Willow replied with a concealed sigh of frustration, “How about you? How are you getting on?”


“I’m pretty much set up,” Tara said, her tone etched with tiredness, “Wanna swing by?”


“You betcha!” Willow replied enthusiastically, “I can be there in seven or eight minutes. Need anything?”


“Just your pretty face,” Tara’s voice replied, tinged with affection.


Willow bounced in the seat.


“Be there soon.”


“Okay, bye Willow,” Tara signed off, but there continued to be background noise afterward.


“Baby, you have to hang up…baby? Baby!”


There was no response apart from background noise, so Willow waited until she was stopped at a stoplight and terminated the call. She normally abhorred when technophobes encroached on her space, but she’d come to find it quite adorable in her girlfriend.


She drove into the town and parked on the street of Tara’s new abode. It was on the same street as the Espresso Pump, which Willow was pleased about as she could roll out of bed on a weekend morning and get them good coffee with little effort.


Tara had visited a few storefronts and a few apartments in her quest for accommodation for her and her business, but she kept coming back to the very first place she viewed for its convenience and price. It was a large two-story building in the middle of the thoroughfare, nicely placed between a produce market and a bakery. Walking down that street in the future would gift pedestrians with a flurry of fresh, sweet smells.


Willow walked to the soon-to-be flower shop, which was completely barren apart from a ‘coming soon’ poster in the window. She tried to open the door, but it was locked, so she knocked instead.


Tara’s head popped out from the door that led to the back of the store. She came over to unlock the door and let Willow in.


“Hey, I love what you’ve done with the place,” Willow commented jokingly as she stepped in.


Tara frowned.


“I’m not fitting out the store space until I see what I can bring from my mom’s store. I told you that.”


Willow smiled awkwardly.


“Lame joke.”


Tara tucked some hair behind her own ear, embarrassed.


“Sorry,” she said, clearing her throat, “I’ve been pushing furniture around all day, I’m worn out.”


“Anything I can help with?” Willow offered.


“Ordering the take-out and opening the wine?” Tara suggested with a crooked smile.


Willow grinned, arching an eyebrow.


“I’m at Olympic level skill for both of those.”


Tara leaned in and pressed a much-needed and much-appreciated kiss to her girlfriend’s lips. Her tongue, acting of its own accord, of course, slipped in a little before she made herself pull back.


“Come on, we shouldn’t be making out on the public side now my name is on the door.”


“A consummate professional,” Willow commented, her eyes naturally dropping to Tara’s rear, “Ever wear a business suit?”


Tara led Willow through the backroom door to another hallway. To the left was a spacious storeroom and to the right, a staircase.


“Hey you got the landline put in,” Willow commented, seeing the new cabling, “Does that mean there's Wi-Fi now?”


“Yes, but don't ask me how to use it yet,” Tara replied.


There was a large main door out to the street on the other side, for deliveries or use as a private entrance.


“I have a parking permit for you,” Tara continued, “There’s a lot more space in the back alley than the main street and no restrictions.”


“So I won’t have to get up at 7 am to move my car?” Willow asked excitedly, “Awesome!”


They walked up the stairs, Tara’s hand reaching behind to keep hold of Willow’s.


Willow had seen the place empty, but not since Tara had started to move in. The stairs opened into the open plan kitchen and living space. Large windows, almost floor-to-ceiling, adorned the front wall and made the space bright. There was a little dining space tucked around the corner from the stairs, and directly in front were the couches and entertainment center, brightened up with a rug on the dark hardwood floor and multicolored cushions and blankets. There were some personal touches; lamps and artwork that Tara had shipped, and Willow knew more would be coming to flesh out the whole aesthetic a bit.


The kitchen was behind, separated by a breakfast bar but completely in view from any corner of the living room, and vice versa. It backed onto the bedroom, which in turn had the ensuite attached. It was a small space, but for Tara who had only briefly lived in an apartment after college, it was an upgrade from her childhood bedroom or dorm room. It was also the first space that was really hers alone, apart from the months spent living at home after her mother’s death and that had been more than alone. It had been lonely.


“Look at this place, all cute and homey!” Willow said enthusiastically, “You really utilized the space. It looks great! I have to admit when I first saw it, it looked like you couldn’t swing a cat. But there’s a space to eat dinner, a space to relax, a breakfast bar…”


Tara’s eyes glanced to the side, then to Willow seductively.


“A bed.”


Willow’s cheeks reddened but it didn’t dampen her smile.


“Everything a gal and her pal might need.”


Willow left the small backpack she’d brought down on the floor and took the step to close the gap between herself and Tara. She resumed the kiss they’d broken before as her hands roamed Tara’s back for a moment before settling on her hips.


“So what do you want to eat?”


Tara’s eyebrows lifted and Willow had to try very hard not to squirm.


“What do you want to order?” she clarified, pointedly.


Tara enjoyed teasing Willow with a prolonged glance downward, before adopting an innocent act.


“Thai, maybe?”


“What would you like?” Willow asked, willing her voice not to squeak.


Tara had a standard order from her college days, so didn’t need a menu.


“Vegetable phat si-io and some spicy edamame?”


“Wanna share some duck rolls?” Willow offered.


Tara smiled.


“Love to.”


Willow nodded.


“I’m on it.”


She stayed where she was, her thumbs brushing against the small expanse of skin between Tara’s shirt and pants.


“Moving now.”


Her feet remained rooted as she gazed lovingly into Tara’s eyes.


“Right this second.”


Neither moved until a stomach rumble disturbed them. Willow seemed quite pleased about it, however.


“Hey, it’s not mine for once!”


Tara turned away to blush and Willow took the opportunity of her reverie being broken to seek out her phone and call in their order.


“Should I send them to the back door?”


“Yes,” Tara replied, “We’ll hear the knock from up here.”


Willow dialed and Tara began to set the table for two. As she laid the plates, her ear picked up on Willow speaking on the phone.


“Can you make sure there’s no shrimp in any of that? My girlfriend is allergic. Thank you.”


She hung up and smiled across the room.


“30 minutes.”


Tara came over and sat next to Willow on the couch.


“You remembered,” she said, touched.


“Remembered what?” Willow asked in confusion.


“That I’m allergic to shrimp,” Tara clarified.


“‘Things that can kill your love’ does tend to be a memorable list,” Willow joked, but took Tara’s hand and squeezed to show she really meant it.


Tara held it between both of her hands.


“Anything I should know about for your list?”


Willow leaned in and nuzzled their noses together.


“I am deathly allergic to any lips that aren’t yours.”


She kissed Tara to prove the point, who was all too happy to return it.


Willow’s hand slipped under Tara’s shirt, pressing against her stomach muscles. She loved how Tara felt there; toned but soft enough for her fingertips to sink into. She leaned them over so they weren’t fully prostrate, but their hips still pressed together.


What seemed like seconds, or at most a few minutes passed until they heard a knock at the door. They broke apart and Tara worked at smoothing out the hair she knew had gone a bit wild.


“That was quick.”


“That was…” Willow breathed, lips bruised. She licked them lightly and looked at her watch, “40 minutes. Hey, they’re late. And you are very distracting.”


They disentangled and Tara went to her purse hanging on the back of a kitchen chair, but Willow got to the stairs first.


“Let me get it. It’s a housewarming gift.”


Tara smiled gratefully.


“Okay. I’ll open the wine. Thank you.”


Willow threw a wink in Tara’s direction and pounded down the stairs. Tara popped the cork on the wine and poured it into her decanter, which she placed in between the place settings. Willow came back up with a brown paper bag and brought it to the table.


“Smells good,” Tara commented and Willow answered with a smile.


They toasted to Tara’s first night in her new place and to all the success she’d see there.


After dinner, they pretended to curl up on the couch but it was pretty much just a stopgap and place of partial disrobing before they decided they really needed to test out that new bed. For health and safety reasons, of course.


Willow's naked body landed on top of Tara's, pressing each inch of their hot skin together. Tara caught Willow by the back of her neck and pulled her down to meet a smoldering kiss.


Willow had to lift her lips to take in air and Tara continued kissing her girlfriend's neck, tasting her salty skin.


Willow's hand skimmed Tara's breast, over her stomach and cupped her mound. She felt Tara moan against her and wasted no time in sinking her fingers into what waited. She stretched them out inside and had Tara clawing her back in seconds.


When Tara came, she spent less than a minute blissed out before throwing Willow on her back and giving her the same treatment.


When Willow very quickly found herself falling into a post-coital pleasure coma, she made herself wake up for a moment. Her hand found Tara’s under the covers and squeezed their palms together to wake her up too.


“Did you set an alarm for the morning?”


Tara lifted Willow’s hand to her mouth and kissed it, a reflex upon feeling their fingers link.


“You don’t have to take me to the airport. It's so early.”


Willow turned her head towards Tara on the pillow, who did the same.


“I have this crazy fetish where I enjoy making my girlfriend’s life easier where I can. Indulge me?”


Tara leaned over and kissed Willow’s cheek, then turned on her side to bring a small wind-up alarm clock out from her nightstand. As she set it, Willow stared at her wide-eyed.


“You have an alarm clock? A real live alarm clock?”


Tara looked over her shoulder in confusion.


“How else would I set an alarm?”


“On your phone, like every other person alive this century?” Willow suggested, eyes filled with mirth at what she was witnessing.


“I've never done that,” Tara admitted.


Willow made a motion for her to go get it, so with a belabored sigh, Tara threw her legs off the bed and went to find her phone. It normally lived at the bottom of her purse, but she’d been making an effort to keep it semi-regularly charged to keep in contact with Willow.


She found it in the pocket of the sweater she’d been wearing earlier.


“By the way, you gotta hang up your phone when you end a call, especially if you make it. All your minutes will be wasted,” Willow explained as Tara walked back into the bedroom, “Do you even know how many you have? I'm guessing you don't fork out for an unlimited plan.”


Tara shrugged one shoulder. A minimal amount of money came out of her account, just to keep her contactable but beyond that, she’d never cared enough to probe the details. Her mother had set it up going to college and she just maintained it.


“We’ll get you on a better plan,” Willow continued when she saw the vacant look on Tara’s face, but was back to being astounded as she handed the phone over, “And a better phone. Jeez. Was this one of the bricks that fell with the Berlin Wall?”


She turned the phone to find the buttons, then realized she had to flick it open.


“Oh. My. God. It flips! It’s a flip phone! I thought these only still existed in museums!”


Tara rolled her eyes, though it was good-natured.


“You think you’re so funny,” she teased as she slipped back under the sheet.


“You think I’m funny too,” Willow teased back, but was soon looking at Tara with the adoring eyes that couldn’t seem to leave her, “You’re one of the only people who I actually believe is always laughing with me and not at me.”


Tara turned herself on her side and gently cupped Willow’s cheek.


“I love you.”


“I love you too,” Willow replied softly.


Falling asleep was easy when entwined with someone you love, but breaking apart at 4 am was not.


Willow walked around like a zombie, bumping into the doorframe as she tried to walk to the bathroom. Tara frowned, watching her. Being a florist, early mornings were normal for her but they clearly weren't for her girlfriend.


“Honey I can get a cab. I’ll leave you a key and you can just go back to bed and leave whenever.”


“I’m fine,” Willow mumbled, just about coherent, “Just need coffee.”


“The pot is on,” Tara reassured, “Just don’t…fall down the stairs or something.”


Willow’s hands appeared through the bathroom doorway giving two thumbs up, so Tara went to double check her travel documents.


She wasn’t looking forward to spending a week back home dealing with some final legal and real estate issues. She didn't want to go back at all.


It was still raw, emotionally.


'Home' seemed like such a displaced notion.


She knew it was coming, and she had to tie up her loose ends to move on with her new life, but she still dreaded it. It wasn’t easy to be giving up everything that had been left to her, even though she knew it was right. Even though she knew that it was the only way to carry on the legacy of the women who had come before her, and forge her own at the same time.


One of her mother’s favorite sayings, which she was sure in turn came from her grandmother, was ‘there’s never just one doorway, even if you have to tear down a wall’. A big believer in forging your own opportunities, Tara had been taught to never give up by her maternal line and that had made this decision easier.


But it still sucked actually having to do it.


Especially thousands of miles away from her only support network.


She double checked that her phone charger was in her bag, a check she’d never bothered to make before. This time it was important. She hoped she’d be able to talk to Willow daily, even just for a few minutes. It surprised her how easy she talked to Willow on the phone, an area she’d often had trouble with before. Everything was just easy with her. Everything just fit with her. Everything was just…right.


The coffee light switched from red to green and Tara poured two cups. She smiled to herself as she made Willow’s coffee as she liked it; two sugars, a generous dash of cream and, where available, a teaspoon of cocoa stirred in. Tara liked that she knew something like that. She enjoyed the simple domesticity of it.


She called Willow and handed her the mug. Willow sat and nursed the mug over a few minutes, then jumped up like she’d just had a Taser shot up her butt. Her requisite cheery smile was plastered on her face and her feet bounced with each step.


“Almost ready to go? Do you want some breakfast?”


“Um, yes,” Tara replied, a bit surprised by the transformation, “Did you sneak something into your coffee when I wasn’t looking?”


“Like what?” Willow asked, brow creasing for a moment.


“Amphetamines?” Tara suggested.


Willow giggled.


“You’re funny.”


Tara couldn’t help but smile too.


“Remind me to always have coffee on hand when you stay over.”


“The best part of waking up,” Willow hummed as she sat down to get her shoes on.


This was the first morning Tara was seeing her in some kind of routine, with most of their time so far spent taking advantage of being back together and what all of that pent up passion entailed. It was nice to know her girlfriend was a sleepy bunny at worst and an energizer one when she got going. It boded well for when they stayed with each other and Tara would have to get up earlier to take in deliveries. She was always quiet and respectful, but dealing with a grump was a pain she'd hoped not to have to endure.


They got themselves together, had some breakfast and headed to the airport. Willow insisted on parking and walking Tara inside. When they reached the line for security, she handed Tara a little travel purse.


“I printed your boarding pass, packed you a couple of granola bars and threw in some gum in case your ears pop. Oh and there’s fluffy socks so you can take off your shoes. Remember to keep circulating them!”


Tara glanced down to hide her glassy eyes.


“You’re gonna make me cry at the departure gates.”


“Why cry?” Willow asked softly.


Because no one’s ever cared like you, Tara wanted to say, but held back.


“Because I’m going to miss you.”


Willow put her hands on Tara’s shoulders and gave them a gentle squeeze.


“Will you call me later or do you want me to call?”


Tara smiled; happy that there was no question that they would talk.


“I'll call.”


“You'll call,” Willow confirmed happily, then took her hands back, “You better go. I love you, Tara.”


“I love you, Blossie,” Tara returned sweetly, “I’ll see you really soon.”


“Talk sooner,” Willow promised, and pressed a kiss to Tara’s cheek, “Good luck. Everything will be okay.”


Tara squeezed Willow’s hand one last time and headed through security, turning back to wave just before going through. She walked to her gate and took a seat.


It would be a long wait and a longer day, so she closed her eyes and braced herself for it.


Image


Tara arrived at her childhood home and let herself into the dark dwelling.


It was quite barren inside, just basic furniture left after she’d stripped it of any personal items in anticipation of her move.


It was a modest three bedroom house, on its own plot. It had a decent back yard that wasn’t overlooked by any of the surrounding houses, so had some privacy, if you didn't mind the trees listening in.


Tara didn’t allow herself to feel much as she walked back inside. Though the place held a lot of good memories, it held a lot of bad ones too. She’d watched her mother die slowly inside those walls and it was hard to shift that.


She tried not to think about all of that. It would make it easier to get through the next few days. She walked through the house, flicked the lights on, turned on the heating and went to put away the few groceries she’d picked up on the way home.


When she got into the kitchen, she was startled to see glass on the floor. She looked up and spotted a window had been smashed in, and a brick was lying in the sink.


“Shit.”


She left her bag of groceries on the kitchen table and went over to investigate. She swept up the broken glass and checked all of the other windows and doors, but nothing was broken or tampered with.


“Stupid kids,” she muttered to herself.


Tara knew she shouldn’t have just left the house looking abandoned, it was sure to attract mischief. This was the last thing she needed when she was home to try and get the house sold.


I'll have to get a glazier here ASAP.


She glanced at her watch, but it was too late to do anything tonight, and she was exhausted anyway.


She haphazardly tossed her groceries in the fridge, not hungry enough to bother with making anything so she grabbed an apple. She considered popping the tab on a beer, but she was so tired it would have gone straight to her head and she wasn’t sure drinking alone was going to help the weird head-space she was in at all.


She grabbed her bag and went up to her bedroom. It had seen a lot of changes over the years; the walls morphing from pink to embossed with teddy bear wallpaper to a soft lilac, Tara's favorite childhood color, to adorned with posters of girl bands and actresses, to finally just the off-white it was now, blending in to every other room in the house.


A changing table became a flurry of toys half-scattered in the corners, which had become bookshelves and a music center and now was just a chest filled with photos, souvenirs and some of the pieces of her mother’s clothing she hadn’t donated after she died. The ones that still smelled like Tara remembered her smelling like, and not with that pungent scent of death and dying.


Tara dropped her bag and went to the chest, kneeling in front of it. She opened it and took out the blue sweater on top, holding it up to her face to smell and nuzzle.


“I miss you, Momma,” she whispered to nothing, smelling the sweater once more before folding it back carefully.


She changed into pajamas and gave her teeth a good brush to get rid of the grimy feeling one acquires when traveling.


She tried to call Willow, but disappointingly, it rang out. She tried not to let it bug her.


She slid into bed with a book and her phone on her pillow, hoping Willow would return the call.


She was almost asleep when the generic yet shrill tone began bleating through the tinny speakers.


“Willow,” she said, the smile evident in her voice.


“Hey you,” Willow greeted warmly, “Sorry I missed your call. I had to stay late at work but I finally gained the grad students' respect back! Turns out it just takes a couple of pizzas.”


“It’s okay,” Tara replied sleepily, and happily, “Your voice is a tonic.”


Willow’s sweet giggle came down the line, warming Tara’s heart.


“You’ve been down south two minutes and you’re a regular belle again.”


“Hush your mouth,” Tara teased with a purposeful drawl.


Willow giggled again and Tara felt her heart physically feel lighter.


They filled each other in on their days; a verbal retelling of how all of their letters had gone. Tara wondered how she ever resisted doing it through voice. It was wonderful.


She had no idea how much time passed, or even that she was falling asleep until it was too late.


“Tara?” Willow said softly, already suspecting what was true, “Sweet dreams, baby.”


Tara’s screen flashed momentarily as the call disconnected. Then, the only movement in the room was the steady rise and fall of her chest.


Tara would wake the following morning a little embarrassed, but surprisingly well rested.


It was the start she needed to get through this trip.


Image


A few days into her visit ‘home’ and things were going well for Tara.


The sale of the store was progressing as it should, having been snapped up pretty quickly, for above-asking price. It was prime business real estate in the town and many prospective buyers had tried to get it over the years. It was going to become one of those paint and wine places, which Tara was happy about as her mother and grandmother had enjoyed doing both of those things. It has hard not to harbor some guilt still at what she was giving away.


She had been able to salvage quite a bit of equipment to ship to California; she’d gotten the smashed window in the kitchen replacement covered by insurance and she had people lined up to view the house, two of whom were doing it right at that very moment.


She’d introduced herself and left the realtor, Suzanna, to do the showing. While she waited for them to be done, she was talking a walk on her old route to and from school. A path she'd worn over a thousand times, and felt familiar, almost comforting.


She was embracing the fact that it was probably her last walk around this block. To see those trees that had been rooted since before she was born, to politely wave to the neighbors who had lived there for as long as she could remember. Everything stayed the same, no matter how much she changed.


Suzanna had told her the couple doing the viewing was quite eager. They liked the house and the school district and had plans for the big yard. Something about a a pool and a fire pit and maybe a tree-house down the line. Tara would be glad to see the house go to a family. It held some of her worst memories, but some of her best too, and she’d like to see a happy family tip the balance again.


She checked her watch and thought enough time had passed for her to return and give the requisite polite goodbye.


She didn’t notice the car creeping along behind her and following her back to her house.


As she walked in the front entrance, Suzanna was bringing the couple down the stairs. The man was tall and tidily presented but with a little bit of scruff and wavy hair, while the woman had mousey-brown hair and was animated in her movements, but with a slightly pinched face.


“Oh yes, just in time,” Suzanna, a middle-aged and short-statured, slightly plump woman with well-kept (and dyed) red hair and a confident walk, said, “If you have any more questions about the house, now would be a good time to check with Tara here.”


“Yes, I wondered about the fireplace,” the wife asked, veering around and leading Tara back into the living room, “Is it—”


The doorbell rang unexpectedly and Tara looked towards the door, confused. The realtor picked up the confusion and covered.


“Probably a neighbor, this is a very friendly neighborhood,” she said, ever in sale-mode, “Never be short of a cup of sugar around these parts.”


She opened the door, already planning a spiel about how welcoming a community it was, but before a word could come out, she jumped back a foot.


“Heavens to Betsy!”


Tara took a couple of steps forward at the unexpected shriek. Her eyes widened when she saw what was on the front porch: a metal trash was rolling around, flames spitting out and disintegrating pieces of paper flying around.


She jumped to attention and wrenched the hall closet open, taking the fire extinguisher hung on the door and smothering the fire until there was nothing but white foam covering the doorway.


Her mother had always kept one on each level of the house, a quirk Tara had thought was excessive but was grateful for now.


Suzanna was standing with her hand on her heart, mouth open. The husband stood forward protectively, though only once Tara had already contained the fire. The wife’s face turned from bewilderment to anger.


“This is not the kind of friendly we are looking to associate ourselves with,” she said curtly.


She looked like she wanted to stomp off, but didn’t want to put her shoes anywhere near the foam. Suzanna snapped back into professional mode and put a hand on either of the couple's backs to direct their attention away.


“Let me take you out the back way.”


She looked over her shoulder at Tara with a ‘what the hell?’ look, but Tara was just as much at a loss. She left the extinguisher down and stepped out onto the porch to assess the damage. It looked like there might be a scorch mark or two, but it was an old porch with a few stories to tell anyway, so they’d blend in.


The trash can wasn’t like any she had or used. It was old and mechanical and looked like it had been in rough shape even before it was used to smoke out her front porch, like it had been picked up in a scrap yard.


She brought it over to the side of the house until she could figure out what to do with it and finally had a look around. Nothing was out of the ordinary; everything was as it always was.


Except for an old clapped-out station wagon parked outside the neighbor across the street and down one. She didn’t recognize it, but other people or their guest’s cars weren’t high on her priority list. It stood out because almost every other car on the street was gone, it being the middle of the day.


She walked towards it cautiously and as she did, her brain started to flash in recognition.


She did know that car.


She just hadn’t seen it in a very, very long time.


“D-Dad?” she whispered, her chest tightening.


“Not quite.”


Tara spun around at the sound of a gruff voice. She had to force herself not to glance away from the calculating eyes trying to stare her down.


“Donny.”


“Hey little sis,” Donny greeted with an evil smirk, “Long time no see.”


Tara set her jaw for a moment to stop it from trembling.


“What are you doing here? Why are you attacking my house?” she asked angrily, her mind reeling, “You threw the brick in too, didn’t you? What do you want?”


“Well imagine my surprise when I hear on the grapevine that you’re selling this old joint. This house should’ve been my inheritance too,” Donny said menacingly, “You think I’m just going to let you sell up and shaft me like your whore mother shafted the old man?”


“Don’t you dare speak about her,” Tara spat, “This is my house and you’re not getting any of it.”


Donny chuckled.


“We’ll see about that.”


He reached into his pocket and took out his keys. Reaching forward, he slowly ran one down Tara’s cheek, enough to scratch but not draw blood. Tara sickened herself by staying rooted to the spot the whole time.


“You can’t hide from me, little sis,” Donny said, his shit-eating grin both threatening and perverse, “I know where you live.”


He walked back to his car and sat in, purposefully nearly rolling over Tara’s foot as he sped off, making her jump back and fall on her ass.


He rolled the window down just so she’d hear him cackle.


Tara felt wetness on her face and reached up, alarmed that it was blood. She was surprised to find her own tears on her fingertips.


She quickly wiped at her eyes with her sleeve and got herself off the tarmac before someone saw her. Curtains were always twitching and mouths were always gossiping and she really didn’t need the extra stress right now.


As she arrived back on the sidewalk in front of her house, the couple was driving off with a disdainful look in her direction. Suzanna approached Tara, arms crossed.


“Tara, what on earth is going on?”


Tara swallowed deeply, making sure her voice came out neutral.


“Maybe hold off on any more viewings until you hear from me,” she said with an impressive amount of clarity considering how shook up she felt inside, “Family dispute.”


Suzanna seemed lost and her facial muscles tensed, making her high bun tighten even more atop her head.


“You need to contain whatever this is,” she advised, “Word spreads fast in a town like this. You could find this place unsellable and the store buyer pulling out if they think bad juju is following you.”


Tara didn't need to be chastised.


“I will fix this and I will be in touch,” she responded as politely as she could.


“See that you do, Tara,” Suzanna said, but softer, “Your mother and grandmother were very well respected businesswomen in this town. Let’s not do anything to soil their memory.”


She didn’t mean it nastily, but it felt like a stab in the heart all the same.


“I’ll be in touch,” Tara replied evenly, though betrayed herself with a sniffle.


Suzanna patted her arm and Tara stood on the grass, respectfully watching her leave before turning to run back into the house and making sure all the doors were locked.


She sank down onto the couch and started to cry, which quickly became gasping sobs. Her hands groped until she found her phone. She got frustrated with herself as her clouded brain shut down and had to take some breaths before she remembered how to find Willow’s number.


She held her breath while it dialed until finally, Willow’s voice broke through.


“Hey, you! An early call today!”


Tara opened her mouth to reply, but more gasps just seemed to come out. Willow’s voice immediately became soothing.


“It’s okay, baby. Take your time. I won’t hang up. Just speak when you’re ready.”


Tara was able to take some breaths and calm herself down enough to speak. Once she did, it all came out in a panicked rush.


Willow was great. She stayed calm and soothed Tara. She broke Tara’s concerns down one by one, starting with the practical ones. She told her she’d organize a cleaning crew to get the stains out and a locksmith to change the locks. She promised to find the one with the best reviews and ended up reading them out to Tara so she could decide herself and feel happy with it.


Willow offered to book a hotel room but Tara was afraid to leave in case something happened to the house while she was gone. So Willow promised to stay on the phone for as long as she needed, no matter what, even if Tara didn’t say another word.


Tara slowly calmed down but was still in too much shock to deal with the actual threat of Donny. Willow knew that and veered her off course to the workable topics anytime she brought him up and started to panic. Willow had her make tea, then a sandwich and when she knew Tara had some food sustaining her asked her to do other tasks like collect flowers from the garden and make a little bouquet. The familiar movements made Tara's shaking fingers still as they intricately weaved the flowers together. She placed it on the mantle and used it as a focus point.


The cleaning crew came and even managed to get the superficial scorch marks lifted. The locksmith reinforced all of the doors with deadbolts, and being forced to interact with people made Tara pull herself together properly.


“Are you all locked up?” Willow asked when Tara came back to the phone.


“Yes,” Tara replied, as clear as she had been all day, “Willow…I’m so sorry for just breaking down on you like this. God, I didn’t even look at the time, did I disturb your work day?”


“Tara you were just threatened and…firebombed in your own home,” Willow’s voice, contrasting Tara’s as it broke a little, “You’re entitled to react to that. And I’m the person you react to. I’m your person.”


Tara sank back onto the couch and dropped her face into her upturned hand.


“I’m sorry, Blossie, I’m just a mess,” she cracked out.


There was silence for a moment as Willow gathered herself enough to speak.


“Baby, can you lie down? Let’s just close our eyes together. And we can talk, or not talk. I’ll stay on the line either way.”


Tara was too tired to move, so she just dropped and curled up on the couch. She sniffled.


“Yeah.”


She pulled the blanket over her, while Willow encouraged her to regulate her breathing.


“Let’s just breathe, baby.”


Tara inhaled a breath and Willow matched it.


“Let’s just breathe…”


Image


Tara awoke to a persistent knocking at the front door.


It startled her, as she’d been in a deep sleep. She sat up, confused by her surroundings for a moment before realizing she’d fallen asleep on the couch. Yet again, she had no memory of it, just that she’d still been on the phone to Willow.


Jesus she’s going to dump me as soon as I land back. Barely together a wet week and I turn into a basket case on her.


She briefly looked at her phone and was surprised by how late in the morning it was. She never slept that late, even when she could. The encounter yesterday had really shaken her up.


There was another knock and Tara jumped again, making her heart hammer and her brain yell.


Get yourself together, Tara. Momma didn’t let that piece of shit push her around and you’re not going to let his son do it to you.


She stood, though on shaky legs and crept towards the front door. She undid the new deadbolt first but kept the chain on as she opened the door a crack.


Her eyes nearly bugged and she quickly closed the door to detach the chain.


“Willow?” she asked in disbelief as she threw the door open.


Willow looked exhausted but was wearing a smile, one that made her eyes crease with happiness when she saw Tara’s face.


“Now we’re even on the ‘showing up unannounced at the front door’ stakes.”


Tara was just staring, agape and Willow shrugged the strap of the backpack on her shoulder.


“Without coming across controlling or big-headed,” she said softly, “You sounded like you needed me.”


Tears sprang to Tara’s eyes, try as she might to stop them. She couldn’t, she was too overwhelmed, too touched, overcome with Willow’s blatant display of love. Her palm covered her eyes to try and conceal her outpouring of emotion, but she was given away by her hunching back.


Willow took the initiative to step inside and closed the door. Tara had told her about the nosy neighbors and they were probably already having a field day with the events of the day before. Unexpected lesbian lover showing up on the doorstep was a narrative Tara didn’t need to be added right now.


She let her bag fall off her shoulders and gently gathered Tara into her arms.


“It’ll be okay, baby.”


She kissed Tara’s cheek, which was marked with the pattern of the couch cushion, then just nuzzled into her neck.


“I’m not going anywhere. You won’t face this alone. I’m with you until we go home together.”


Tara exhaled shakily.


Home.


Maybe it's not a place.


“What about work?” Tara sniffled.


“Work schmurk,” Willow dismissed, “The grad students will cover my experiments and I'll just have to spend a few days writing it all up. I'm telling you, pepperoni pizza is practically a currency.”


Tara giggled, a beautiful sound to Willow’s ears.


She lowered her hand and met Willow’s gaze. Her eyes were glassy and embarrassed, but oh so full of love.


“Thank you.”


Willow pressed her lips, cold from the outside air to Tara’s warm ones.


“You don’t have to thank me,” she whispered, cupping Tara’s cheek and using her fingertips to brush hair behind her ear, “This is what people do for people they love. They take care of each other. I had the worst possible role models for that and I won’t ever let someone I love feel like that too.”


She kissed Tara again.


“So don’t you worry. We got this. You and me. We can do anything.”


Tara smiled. She actually believed it.


“I love you.”


She rested their foreheads together and like the night before, just breathed.


Willow smelled surprisingly fresh for just having stepped off a cross-country flight. Tara couldn’t help the warm feeling that spread in her stomach.


“I missed you,” she said, huskier than intended.


Her hands dropped ever so slightly from Willow’s shoulders to just above her breasts. Willow was very aware of how close they were, just as she was aware of how close Tara’s lips were, and the rest of her body.


She breathed out slowly for a moment, then fluttered her eyelashes up until she caught Tara’s eye.


She’d barely blinked once before she was being shoved back up against the door and was welcoming Tara’s tongue into her mouth.


Tara’s thigh briefly— much, much too briefly for Willow’s liking — pressed between her legs until there was suddenly a complete lack of any of Tara, anywhere.


“Do you want to—”


“Yes,” Willow replied breathlessly, already pushing herself off the door.


“—come in and have some sweet tea?” Tara finished without a beat.


Willow’s eyes widened like saucers and Tara let her flounder for a moment before grinning.


“Only kidding.”


Willow visibly deflated and finally smiled as well.


“I was hoping really hard that ‘sweet tea’ was a euphemism.”


“You are in the south now,” Tara drawled, gently pressing herself up against Willow.


Willow planted her feet firmly on the floor to try and still the tremble she knew was quaking in her thighs.


“I’d like to be a little bit more…” she said, hooking a finger behind the waistband of Tara’s pants and pulling forward, “South.”


Tara felt herself flood and knew Willow would feel her wetness if she moved that finger any lower.


“Do you have any Southern in you?” she asked, and before Willow could even display her confusion at the kind of topic jump usually only she made, Tara continued, “Do you want some?”


Willow’s head knocked back against the wood of the door and a short, sweet laugh left her lips.


“And you told me you’d used all your pick-up lines on me already.”


Tara placed a palm flat next to Willow’s head.


“If you’d like me to be more direct,” she said, eyeing Willow’s full lips, “My bedroom is upstairs, second door on the left.”


Willow offered her hand, which Tara took and wasted no time in pulling her up the staircase.


Willow admired the house on the way; everything was old timber, warm and charming. The stairs creaked and Willow couldn’t help but think of a tiny Tara’s feet pounding down on Christmas morning to see what Santa had brought, or awkwardly hesitating on her way down to her first date.


She felt like the wood could speak if it could, retelling the years of memories contained within it.


She would have loved to have seen Tara’s room as it had been in the throes of her adolescence but may have been jealous of all of those posters. At present, it was far less concerning than the shimmy of Tara’s hips as Willow trailed behind her.


Tara turned before they hit the bed. It was a single, so they’d have to make an effort to keep closer. It wasn’t much of a sacrifice.


Tara pulled at the string to loosen Willow’s lounge pants but felt hands cover hers to stop after a moment.


“Tara, can I use your bathroom?”


Tara blushed at her own eagerness and took a step back.


“Across the hall, down one. On the right.”


Willow smiled gratefully and scooted off. Tara took a moment to compose herself and ran a brush through her hair. She pulled the waistband of her jeans forward to check what underwear she was wearing and then remembered she’d slept all night in them, so quickly changed.


Fairly happy with what was on down below, she unhooked her bra and pulled it through her sleeve to give Willow a little surprise. She slipped under the sheet in her shirt and panties, then got out again to spritz some perfume over the bed. She had just settled back when Willow appeared again, with a freshly splashed face and free of her sweater so her arms were well shown off in a tank top.


“I love those Beaker Biceps.”


Willow blushed; her muscles weren’t hugely defined but they did do a surprising amount of flexing setting up experiments. More than the stereotypical nerd physique portrayed. Bottles of chemicals, robotics equipment, the constant bending to fix components — it all added up.


She came over and Tara held the sheet up for her. Willow noticed Tara’s bare legs and lost her pants on the way in too.


“Sorry,” she said as she awkwardly clambered in, “Not a…whole lot of room.”


She settled herself on top of Tara, a flush rising her chest and cheeks.


“And that is not a bad thing.”


Tara trailed a finger along either side of Willow’s face, coming together and falling off under her chin.


“That can be a very good thing.”


She slipped her thigh between Willow’s legs, eliciting a moan. Panties were a very thin barrier to bare skin and both of them could feel Willow’s arousal seeping out.


Tara cupped Willow’s cheeks and brought their faces together.


“I missed you,” she repeated quietly.


She kissed Willow tenderly, who felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up, even with the barest hint of a lip brush.


She took Tara’s bottom lip between hers and sucked, making both of them grind their hips thrust together. Willow’s hand slipped under Tara’s shirt and she gasped into the kiss when her palm met the bare flesh of Tara’s breast.


She kissed down into Tara’s neck and tongued that spot under her ear that she knew would equalize their arousal.


Tara cupped the back of Willow’s head to press those hot lips more firmly against her skin. Her hand dropped to Willow’s rear and gave it a firm squeeze. She sighed deeply as she gently maneuvered Willow’s thigh between her legs.


“I wish I could have told 16-year-old me she’d be banging a hot redhead in this bed.”


Willow giggled into Tara’s neck.


“You wouldn’t have looked at me twice in high school. I was an even bigger nerd than I am now.”


Tara turned her nose in until it connected with Willow’s.


“In case you haven’t noticed…” she whispered right into Willow’s mouth, “That’s kinda my type.”


Willow’s abdomen tightened and she was glad her panties were still on because she would have been thoroughly embarrassed by the mess she would have left on Tara’s skin.


“Would you have let me get to second base?” she asked, unable to keep the husk from her voice.


Tara shamelessly rubbed herself on Willow’s thigh.


“I would have let you get a home run.”


Willow pulled back an inch, pretending to be shocked.


“Tara Maclay, were you a floozy in high school?”


“Only in my head,” Tara admitted, “But there’s no way I could ever resist you.”


She spread her legs beneath Willow and thrust up invitingly. Willow grinned salaciously and began to move down Tara’s body.


Her teeth had just caught the bow on the front of Tara’s panties when a crashing sound came from downstairs.


Willow’s head sprung back up.


“What was that?”


Tara looked alarmed and immediately swung her legs off the bed. She speedily pulled her pants back on and ran downstairs, Willow at her heels after doing the same.


Smoke billowed out from the living room, specifically the fireplace and a smell permeated the air that made them both gag.


Embers shot out from some singed tube sitting at the base of the fireplace and Tara's bouquet had its petals scattered everywhere.


Willow ran one way, through the open arch that led to the kitchen, while Tara ran the other to find another fire extinguisher. Willow grabbed the first set of pot holders she saw and ran back into the living room, grabbing the smoking ball and tossing it outside the back door. She poked it with a stick and it fell apart into nothing.


She went back into the house, making sure to lock up and found Tara running back in at the same time.


“It’s just a stink bomb,” Willow called out, using her sleeve to cover her nose and mouth,


She pulled Tara out into the hallway where the smoke was less dense.


“Tara, I work with chemicals every day, I promise it’s just a shitty homemade smoke and stink bomb.”


Tara put the fire extinguisher down and started looking all around, expecting her brother to be hiding behind a door.


Willow understood, but she’d already deduced what happened.


“He threw it down the chimney. The impact made your flowers fall down. He's not in the house. He can't get in, baby.”


Tara’s head fell into her hands and she collapsed onto her knees.


Willow bent down and rubbed her back for a moment, then encouraged her to get up.


“We need to clear out while it dissipates,” she said, grabbing her backpack and the only set of keys hanging by the door, “Come on, baby.”


She pulled Tara out of the house, went back quickly to open some high windows and hurried back out to lock up again. She had to go through several keys since the new and old set were all on the one chain.


Tara was sitting on the porch swing, head down and desolate after making sure the station wagon wasn't still around.


Willow came and sat beside her, just holding her hand for support. Tara was still and silent for several minutes before she finally moved, plugging the corner of each eye with her thumb and index finger.


“He’s trying to ruin my life.”


Her mind felt like the bouquet; broken and all over the place.


“We’re not going to let him,” Willow replied firmly.


Tara stood up swiftly, dodging the emotion threatening to spill out.


“I need to go check on the store. Make sure he hasn’t done anything to it.”


“Okay,” Willow agreed, standing too, “Do you want me to drive?”


It wasn’t really a question because she wasn’t going to let Tara drive so upset anyway. Tara just nodded mutely, and Willow found the car key and pressed the button to open the doors.


Willow got in on the driver’s side, adjusted the seat and the mirrors and turned the engine on.


She left her phone against the center console and pulled out of the driveway, slowly at first as she got the feel of the unfamiliar car.


They drove silently for five minutes, windows down even with the cool air to get any lingering smoke from their clothes.


As Willow indicated at the correct turn, Tara’s brow suddenly creased.


“How do you know where to go?”


“Phones have GPS these days, honey,” Willow said softly, wiggling her pinky finger in the direction of her phone, “That reminds me, I have a gift for you. It’s in the bag.”


She indicated backward with her head. Tara looked back and took the backpack from the backseat.


“It’s in the front pocket.”


Tara unzipped the front and took out a rectangular phone box. She expected to find something underneath, but it was the only thing there. She had assumed Willow just carried her phone in the box for safety but was starting to reconsider. She popped open the top and a brand new, shiny phone sat on top.


“Did you buy me a phone?”


“It’s not to pressure you into using it,” Willow replied quickly, “It’s just so you have it. Once we get you all internet savvy you’ll be able to access your stock and orders and everything on it, get real-time notifications if there’s a problem…”


Tara was just staring at it, stunned.


“I’m sorry I can explain all of this to you later,” Willow finished, “Bad timing.”


The emotion Tara had tried to stave off earlier came tumbling out and she burst into tears. Willow pulled off at the nearest exit and put an arm around her.


“Baby…”


“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Tara replied, wiping at her eyes, “Tell me more about the phone.”


Willow hesitated for a moment but ultimately obeyed.


“Well what’s cool is there’s a lot of voice activation these days,” she said finally, “So we can just teach you how to command it.”


Tara appreciated something to focus on other than her crumbling emotions.


“Like you just say something and it does it?”


“Uh huh, yeah, a whole bunch of stuff,” Willow said, picking up her own phone, “Check it out.”


She held it under her chin.


“Siri, call my girlfriend?”


The screen lit up and the mechanical voice spoke out.


“Which one?”


Tara’s eyes narrowed, in direct contrast to Willow’s, whose widened beyond belief.


“No, no, see…” she said, floundering slightly as her fingers brought up the contact information, “You’re listed twice. Your cell and your new landline.”


She cleared her throat and tried again.


“Call Tara Cell.”


“Calling Tara Cell.”


The call went through, but there was nowhere for it to connect.


“It’s at the house,” Tara said.


“Oh,” Willow replied, and paused, “Well that’s anticlimactic.”


“Sorry,” Tara replied flatly.


Both of them were quiet for a moment until Willow spoke.


“Tara, should we call the police?”


“Did I not tell you my father’s a retired cop?” Tara asked dryly.


“Shit,” Willow cursed, knocking her head against the steering wheel, “Shit, shit, shit.”


She shook her head but made herself straighten up.


“He’s a bully,” she said reaching over to brush her thumb against Tara’s cheek, “And you’re an angel.”


She ran her fingers over Tara’s strong jawline, a trait she didn’t know was a maternal feature in her family, along with some other strengths.


“Actually, you know what you are?” she said finally, “An amazon. And you know what they are?”


Tara lifted her gaze. They'd played that song in the car.


“Strong?”


“Strong like an amazon, right,” Willow confirmed with a smile,


Tara smiled slightly.


“Okay.”


Willow squeezed Tara's knee.


“Let’s go put your mind at ease about the store.”


Tara nodded and Willow pulled back onto the road, following her phone’s map to the store. Tara got her to park in the back and let them in through the storeroom. It remained untouched from where Tara last saw it, her last few boxes piled against the wall with loose furniture.


Tara walked over to touch the original ‘Flower Girl’ metal signage that had survived decades, albeit with multiple touch-ups.


“Courier is coming on Friday,” she remarked with a heavy sigh.


Willow looked around the space, noting it seemed familiar.


“I get why you chose the store you did in Sunnydale,” she said, smiling softly, “Kinda looks like this place. Upstairs, downstairs. What’s…?”


She pointed a finger upwards.


“Now: storage space,” Tara explained, “But once upon a time, a living space. Grandma raised my mom upstairs. She was a single mother too.”


“In the 60s? In the South?” Willow asked in disbelief, “Sounds like a family of amazons.”


Tara nodded and smiled, but it faltered.


“I think that’s why mine stayed with my dad so long. They had a lot of shame inflicted upon them. But in the end, their funerals were some of the biggest the town had ever seen. Everyone came to pay their respects.”


Willow came and stood behind Tara, holding her around the waist. Tara leaned back into her touch.


“My mom said she was relieved I was gay because I’d stop the family tradition of picking awful men.”


Willow giggled, while Tara gently rubbed her thumb over the conjoined hands on her stomach.


“She would’ve been so happy to see me find a smart, kind, capable woman.”


Willow rested her chin on Tara’s shoulder, who took strength from the embrace and exhaled her emotion.


“She would have been so happy.”


Willow kissed Tara’s neck tenderly and just held onto her for a while. When some time had passed she linked her fingers in with Tara’s.


“Let’s go get something to eat and just relax for a little while.”


Tara agreed with a silent nod and they headed out the back door again. Tara gave her the name of a restaurant and Willow keyed it into the map app to bring them there.


There was mostly an older crowd in for an early dinner, but they got a seat in the corner. Even tucked away, Willow noticed an odd stare or two in their direction, but she didn’t burden Tara with it. At that point, they both just needed a little bit of fuel.


They didn’t talk much as they ate and Tara settled the bill while Willow went to the bathroom. Willow didn’t argue and just brought them back to the car. She got in the driver’s seat but didn’t start the car yet.


“Do you want to go for a walk?” she asked, then peered out the windscreen at the indigo sky, “It’ll be dark soon. Those long winter evenings will start to go in the other direction when the holidays are over and we break into the New Year.”


Willow could tell Tara wasn’t much for discussing New Year’s plans right now. She briefly squeezed Tara’s thigh, who raised her head to look at her.


“He’s not going to leave me alone, Willow. I don’t know what to do.”


Willow’s heart broke at how scared her girlfriend sounded.


“Did your mom ever say anything about him or your dad harassing her? Did they just leave her alone after the divorce?”


“He didn’t come up much,” Tara replied helplessly, “The few times he did, she would say that…all the monsters she’s ever known have been ordinary men…and that sometimes you have to keep a monster under your bed until you’re strong enough to fight it.”


Willow’s brow slowly creased.


“Well, what the heck does that mean?”


“I don’t know, she was high at the time,” Tara replied, throwing up a hand helplessly, “I was too. Maybe I’m not remembering it right.”


“You got high with your mom?” Willow asked in disbelief.


Tara nodded.


“It was medical grade too, so it was pretty good.”


“I wouldn’t know,” Willow replied, glancing down at her lap.


Tara looked over with a raised eyebrow.


“Never tried it?”


“Nope,” Willow replied, awkwardly popping the ‘p’.


“Ever want to?” Tara questioned, intrigued.


“Pre 'Fuck It' Willow was a massive control freak,” Willow explained with a sheepish look, “And a goody two-shoes.”


Tara dropped her head back against the headrest and thought about things for a few moments.


“She did keep her stash in a loose floorboard under the bed…she always thought the feds were about to bust in the door even though she had a prescription card,”


“Maybe if she kept things in there, she hid other stuff in there too,” Willow suggested, “Something that could help us.”


Tara nodded but wasn't so sure. Still, something to cling onto would keep her together long enough to get back to the house.


“Maybe.”


Willow started the car.


“Let’s go check.”


She drove them home and tended to the downstairs while Tara went upstairs to her mother’s bedroom. The smoke had dissipated to a mild haze and Willow opened the rest of the windows to flush the last of it out. She washed the floors and gave everywhere a liberally dosing with some Febreze.


There was little evidence left that anything had happened at all when Tara came back downstairs. She'd worried about what effects might be left but all she could smell now was cleanliness.


She hung out in the doorway while Willow looked up at her expectantly.


“Well?”


Tara exhaled through her nose.


“Nothing in there,” she confirmed, more dejected than frustrated.


Then she held up her hand and showed off the joint sitting between her middle and index finger.


“Except this.”


Image


“Are you nervous?”


Willow lay on her back on a blanket in Tara’s vast backyard, staring up into the starry night. It was a cool night but they were covered up and the sky was miraculously clear. Willow had never seen a better night for stargazing.


She turned her head towards Tara and smiled.


“No,” she said, soft and sure, “I'm safe with you.”


She leaned over and kissed Tara’s cheek.


“Just don't let me dance naked under the moon.”


Tara grinned.


“I dunno, it's pretty secluded out here and I'd appreciate the view.”


Willow playfully rolled her eyes and nudged Tara’s shoulder. Tara lit the joint and took the first pull, holding in the smoke for a moment. She passed it off to Willow as she exhaled.


Willow took it and held it in her fingers like Tara did, regarding the burning end.


“I still can’t believe you did this with your mom. She sounds like she was so…not my mom.”


“My grandma was a free love hippie in the 60s, so we have this in our veins,” Tara replied, smiling, “She used to tell me all about flower power. It’s what got her in the game. She would give out flowers at rallies and eventually started selling them when she got pregnant and needed to provide for my mom.”


“She sounds like a badass,” Willow remarked in admiration, “I’m totally blanking on her name. I know you’ve told me.”


She handed the joint back to Tara, who took another drag.


“Magnolia. But everyone called her Maggie.”


“Right. Magnolia. The Flower Girl,” Willow replied, nodding her head, “Magnolia Maclay. No. Wait.”


“No, you’re right,” Tara replied easily, relaxing finally, “My mom changed both our names back after the divorce. We were all Maclays.”


Willow considered this as she took the joint back when it was offered.


“So Magnolia begat Violet…why aren’t you Poppy or Daisy?”


“Tulips Age; Rise Anew,” Tara said, an often unheard natural southern drawl coming through.


Willow’s head flipped towards Tara.


“Huh?”


Tara chuckled.


“T-A-R-A. Tulips Age; Rise Anew,” she repeated, then changed her cadence indicating she was imitating her mother, “‘No part of you dies, Tara. It just becomes part of the soil for the new you to grow. It doesn't matter if you're growing yourself or the earth.’“


Willow looked back up to the sky.


“Your mom sounds deep.”


“As the roots she planted,” Tara replied, exhaling more smoke.


“Where is she?” Willow asked curiously, “Your mom?”


“If I knew that I’d be a lot less anxious and a billionaire,” Tara replied dryly, but relented, “I planted a tulip bush at the place where she died, with her ashes.”


Tara chuckled again and Willow noted how deep it reverberated.


“I didn’t exactly have permission, but it sure is the prettiest vandalism they’ve ever seen.”


Willow smiled; she was starting to see that the ‘badass’ gene ran deep.


“I kinda thought she died at home.”


Tara shook her head and her eyes became glazed.


“She was getting really near the end. I had to carry her to the wheelchair. We were basically getting to the point where she’d be given the morphine pump and wait to die. She was dreading it, I could tell, so I was trying to bring her some joy in her last days,” Tara blew out, but it was just air this time, “So one morning I sneaked her off to the park. She’d done a lot of community work there and was responsible for a lot of the trees and flowers being planted. So she sat by the lake surrounded by all the beauty she’d brought into this world and took her last breath in peace. I still freaked out of course, but I couldn’t have asked for it better.”


Willow reached down to link their hands.


“You were part of that,” she said softly and waited until Tara turned to look at her, “The beauty she brought into this world.”


Tara looked visibly choked up. Willow squeezed their palms together.


“Your tattoo makes a lot of sense now,” she said finally, then had a contemplative moment before speaking again, “Can you get me an appointment with the person who did yours?”


Tara blinked once and cleared her eyes, then smiled.


“Are you taking the plunge?”


Willow nodded.


“Yeah, I am. They did a good job on yours, so I know they’re trustworthy.”


“I’ll give her a call,” Tara answered.


They were both quiet for a moment until the next time Willow passed the joint back.


“I have to admit something to you,” she said, somewhat embarrassed, “I just keep handing this back to you because I have no idea what to do.”


“I knew you weren’t taking any I just didn’t want to pressure you,” Tara replied, “Do you actually want to?”


Willow thought for a moment and finally nodded.


Tara curled a finger and motioned her closer.


Willow scooted as close as she could, not exactly sure what was about to happen.


Tara drew in a large drag and put the joint down. She cupped Willow’s cheek and pressed their lips together intimately, exhaling all of the smoke into Willow’s mouth.


Willow immediately felt dizzy as the hot smoke filled her lungs. Tara’s lips felt like they were kissing the entirety of her all at once.


“Whoa,” she breathed, wisps of smoke billowing out of her mouth.


She coughed lightly and blinked slowly several times before her lips spread into a slow grin.


“Cool.”


Tara grinned back and they shared the next drag in the same way.


Just a few minutes later they were both on their backs again, lying in one straight line with the crowns of their heads touching.


Everything had slowed down for Willow, giving her a very pleasant break from her usual mile-a-minute mind.


“You know what’s weird?” she said, eyes hyper focused on the sky above them.


Tara dragged on the very end of the joint and put it out in the grass.


“Japanese commercials are weird,” she said finally through an exhalation of smoke.


Willow considered this and decided she agreed.


“Yes,” she answered resolutely, “And also, you know some of the stars we're looking at…don't even exist anymore? In the time that it takes for their light to reach us, they've died. Exploded.”


Air vibrated past her lips, making them quiver.


“Poof.”


She reached up as if she might pluck one right out of the sky.


“You know, I used to love to look up at them when I was little. They're supposed to make you feel all insignificant, but…they made me feel like…like I was in space…part of the stars.”


She found her hand tracing familiar patterns in the sky.


“There's…Canis Minor…and…” she paused, having to concentrate quite a bit harder to remember the once-familiar names, “And Cassiopeia.”


“And The Big Pineapple,” Tara pointed out easily.


Willow frowned; she didn’t recall that one from her astronomy textbooks.


“Hmm. You know, I'm not sure I remember that one.”


Tara had to chuckle at how serious Willow sounded.


“Oh, it’s a major one,” she teased, “See those three bright stars right over there?”


Willow threw her eyes backward to try and follow Tara’s arm, but things began swimming much too quickly for her liking. She closed her eyes to stop the daze and rolled until she was alongside Tara, head on her shoulder.


She opened her eyes and things were much clearer again.


“Yeah.”


“And see those stars along there?” Tara pointed out, “That's the bottom of the pineapple.”


Willow’s eyes widened comically as if to take it all in.


“It’s big,” she said finally.


“Hence the name,” Tara replied smoothly, “The real ones never made sense to me, I…sort of have my own.”


Willow felt her heart begin to thump and she would have been worried she was having a bad reaction, if only she weren’t so damn mellow (and didn't know so deep inside was just her heart swelling with love).


“Teach me.”


Tara cocked her head and pointed at a different place in the sky.


“See those stars over there? ‘Short Man Looking Uncomfortable.’”


Willow giggled, the laughter tumbling out uncontrollably like she couldn’t stop the joy once it burst from her. It was infectious and Tara began giggling too.


“Uh, ‘Moose Getting A Sponge Bath’,” she continued, making aimless swipes with her arm, “Umm…’Little Pile O’ Crackers’?”


Willow’s brow furrowed trying to make that one out.


“That one’s a stretch,” Tara admitted.


They both laughed again, this time towards each other.


“You do it,” Tara encouraged, “What would you call…”


She pointed at no particular spot.


“Mmm, that one?”


Willow lifted her chin and regarded the area seriously.


“Hmm, let’s see.”


She blinked several times trying to work out a pattern or shape until her vision was clouded by a sudden burst of gold light. It was frightening and shocking to her unperturbed senses. She shot up straight.


“A huge flaming meteor about to crash into something!”


Tara pulled on the back of Willow’s sweater until she lay back down.


“It’s just a shooting star,” she soothed, “My mom would say it’s someone coming to visit. Someone lighting up the sky to repay how you lit up their world.”


Willow felt herself getting thirsty all of a sudden. She noticed Tara had brought out a water bottle and swiped it for a desperate glug. The water sliding down her throat was one of the most satisfying experiences of her young life.


“Wow…” she said, watching a droplet fall from the cap to the blade of grass as she set the bottle down, “Water really is life.”


Tara was still looking at the sky, lips sloped softly on one side as a second meteor lit up the sky. She hadn't even known there was a shower due that evening; it was a pleasant surprise.


“Hey, mom.”


Willow turned her attention away from the dancing droplet and slowly turned her head towards Tara. She whispered close to her ear.


“Should I stay hello?” she asked, then pursed her lips to hinder the laughter that bubbled up, “I said ‘stay hello’.”


She sat up and pretended to have a dog on a leash.


“Stay, hello! Stay!”


Tara watched her girlfriend’s antics and giggled too. She placed her palm on the small of Willow’s back and tickled the exposed base of her spine where her shirt rode up.


“She did kinda know about you.”


Willow felt the most delightful shiver go through her, somehow starting at her toes even though it was spurred on by Tara touching her back.


She lay back down, stretching out her muscles to elongate that wonderful feeling.


“Me? How?”


“I would stare into space sometimes, thinking about the cute redhead who gave me flowers and lit up my day,” Tara answered, lovingly gazing in Willow’s direction, “She would ask me what world I was in and I would say the prettiest one there is. So she at least knew you were in my world.”


She stroked Willow’s cheek who suddenly felt herself fill with sorrow at the sadness hidden in Tara’s eyes.


“I hate thinking of you so alone…after…”


Tara’s face cracked the barest hint of a smile.


“The neighbors dropped food and Anya, she would call and call and just talk about everything and nothing. I was so annoyed, but then one day I burst into tears and she was there to talk me through it. She’d been waiting it out for me to need her.”


Willow’s eyes darted back and forth as she took that in.


“Woah,” she said finally, “She’s like…really your friend, y’know?”


Tara nodded.


“She is.”


Willow blinked again and Tara tucked some hair behind her ear.


“How are you doing? Feeling okay?”


Willow smiled slowly.


“My mind goes and goes and goes…and now it just…slows and slows and slows.”


She giggled and Tara smiled at her in such a way that made Willow feel like she was on top of the world.


“I love that smile,” she said, cupping Tara’s cheek and running her thumb along her bottom lip, “You’re just so…good. I’m being an idiot but you smile anyway.”


Her face relaxed into a happy memory.


“I remember the first time I saw it…in Spain…we were getting breakfast…and I was trying to impress you… I'd been practicing my Spanish but I was getting it so mixed up and the waiter was getting flustered. I must’ve embarrassed you but you just smiled so kindly.”


Tara chuckled slowly and Willow was amused.


“What’s so funny?”


“I just think it's cute that you don't even realize that that was the moment I fell in love with you,” Tara replied evenly.


Willow looked stunned. Tara brought her face close to Willow’s; noses touching and sharing breath.


“You were bombing so hard but you just kept trying. You never gave up,” she said, her facial muscles so relaxed that each one flickered when she smiled, “There’s never just one doorway, even if you have to tear down a wall’. That's what my Momma always said.”


Willow felt something settle in her stomach. It was like the arousal she often felt around Tara but deeper, mixed with an intense feeling of awe and the security of feeling safe. Those swirling feelings were only further bolted in as that look continued to be sent her way.


It wasn’t a kind smile but an ‘I love you’ smile and Willow’s heart almost couldn’t take the weight of that revelation.


“I love you so fucking much, Tara.”


She pressed her face up to Tara’s and nuzzled her. She touched her lips to Tara’s and gasped at how molten they felt.


She held Tara’s face in both hands and kissed her; messily, sloppily and entirely chaste but as deep as it had ever been as she memorized every ridge of Tara’s lips.


Her limbs felt like jelly but she was content to be connected by mouth. She lazily rolled on top of Tara and tasted her with her tongue, shuddering as the taste of Tara’s tongue fizzed on it.


“Make love to me,” Willow murmured.


“Are you sure you want to?” Tara asked, her own breath caught.


“I don’t want to,” Willow breathed, glazed eyes boring into Tara’s, “I need to.”


She sat back on her knees and lifted her arms over her head in offering. Tara sat herself up and pulled Willow’s shirt from her body. She was braless underneath and her flesh immediately broke out in goosebumps from the cold. Tara watched Willow’s nipples tighten and extended her tongue to soothe the taut flesh.


Willow’s eyes rolled back into her head. She couldn’t believe how good it felt; like she’d never experienced it before. A moan left her lips and dropped into the top of Tara’s head.


Tara popped the button on Willow’s pants and slipped her hands beneath, caressing her hips. Every so often her fingertips would reach back and indent the flesh of Willow’s ass and Willow would hiss and grind into her.


She gently put Willow on her back and pulled the pants passed her ankles. The scratchy feeling and gust of air was sensation overload for Willow, who promptly squeezed her legs together.


Tara ran her palms down Willow’s thighs, who arched her back and moaned like she was mid-orgasm. Tara lifted her own shirt over her head and released her bra. Her nipples stiffened too and she leaned over Willow, bumping theirs off each other.


“Jesus,” Willow gasped.


Nothing felt as electrifying as that brush of nipples. Everything was so intense, it was almost blinding.


Tara reached down and pushed the waistband of her pants so they rolled off her hips and she could shimmy out of them. She rubbed up and down on top of Willow, who panted and groaned and left a very obvious stain on the front of her panties.


Willow almost couldn't stand it; it was like the first layer of her skin had been stripped bare and Tara was touching the tenderness beneath.


When Tara offered her a kiss, she took it quite enthusiastically.


Willow had a stray thought about their conversation earlier about meeting in high school because they were making out like teenagers. Everything was teeth and tongues and grabby hands that teased and tortured with every touch. She felt in touch with every quivering nerve and the pulsating pleasure it was sending through her.


It felt like hours that they rolled around on the blanket, bare but for their panties. They were both sweating and panting even in the cold late night air, and Willow, in particular, was tensing and releasing her muscles constantly as they contracted with continuous pleasure. She should be exhausted but the fire just kept burning.


When their panties were soaked beyond redemption, Tara leaned in to nibble Willow’s ear.


“Are you good with 69ing?” she whispered.


Willow almost came on the spot.


“So good,” she rasped.


Tara sat back and pulled Willow’s panties off, making Willow moan almost painfully. Tara dropped her own underwear and straddled Willow.


Willow’s eyes focused on the glistening center between Tara’s thighs.


“I would so eat a Tara-glazed donut. Dunkin' should get on that.”


Her fingers raked down Tara’s thighs and her tongue touched her lips desperately.


“Come here. I’m gasping. I need you.”


Tara turned herself around and put herself in the right position, ready for Willow whenever she wanted her. It didn’t take long, mere seconds in fact, before Willow’s tongue had extended into her and was lapping lazily at the slick arousal.


Tara really began to feel the combined effect of the weed and sex. More so than the foreplay, where she’d been more focused on the sensory experience Willow seemed to be undergoing, and how she could enhance it.


But she could feel already that her heartbeat was trying to squeeze Willow’s tongue inside her and it was one of the most gratifying and erotic things she’d ever felt.


She tried to bring Willow’s knees up but they just flopped back down, so Tara used her arms for leverage instead and dropped her mouth between her girlfriend’s legs.


She copied Willow’s pace, slow and languid, and it was glorious. Willow smelled like heaven and tasted even better. It was warm and wet and so gut-achingly sexy that Tara thought her abdomen must be churning out every bit of arousal she had.


It certainly felt that way.


Tara’s face rubbed right in, and at a perfect angle to devour her and tease with her nose all at once.


They weren’t trying to coax an orgasm out of each other, one was just building; a piece of it reaching into each far corner of their bodies and filling them up. The final swell came almost sedately with just a shared curling of the toes. It was silent; in contrast to their bodies, which were screaming and arching together.


Tara rolled off, top to toe with Willow. Her mouth was smeared and grinning.


“Well, that was the best munchies I ever had.”


Willow’s laugh rang out into the still night, just reverberating amongst the trees until it softened into an even breath. Tara just about mentally noted that Willow had fallen asleep before she did too.


Some indeterminable amount of time later, Tara was in the same position, but her body was jerking fretfully.


In a dark recess of her mind, she appeared in a small room with the walls closing it. There was a door but every time she ran for it, it would disappear. This tortured her for days, weeks, months — she felt like she’d been there an eternity.


Just as she was on the verge of giving up, the wall opposite her came crumbling down. Tara watched in surprise as her mother, fit and healthy, smiled at her from the other side.


“There’s never just one doorway, even if you have to tear down a wall, my love.”


“Mom?” Tara asked, scrambling to stand.


Tara’s mom floated over to her and held her face in both hands.


“Try, try and try again.”


There was a wisp of a kiss on her forehead and then she was gone.


Tara shot up, hair and eyes wild. She looked around for a moment to figure out her surroundings.


She didn’t know the time, but the sun was just starting to rise and the grass was slightly dewy. It was cold, so she made a grab for her clothes and jumped up. It took her legs a moment of stumbling to settle but she was able to re-robe quickly. Her head felt clear now, honestly clearer than it had in days or weeks even. The last time she remembered such a feeling was the moment she decided she had to leave and be with Willow.


Willow.


Tara glanced down at Willow, sprawled nude and ever-so-softly snoring.


That same smile from earlier broke out on her lips.


She looked towards the house and back at her girlfriend, deciding what to do. Finally, she reached down and tucked the other side of the blanket over Willow and gently scooped her up. Willow’s arms went around her neck but she didn’t stir. Tara silently brought her into the living room and onto the couch. She kissed Willow’s temple and put the second blanket on the back of the couch over her. Willow snuggled into the couch and Tara was content to leave her.


She rushed upstairs in her bare feet.


She went into her mother’s bedroom and bent down under the bed. She crawled under and tapped the loose floorboard so it sprung up. She looked again — nothing; really nothing this time since Tara had taken the last thing rolling around it there and promptly smoked it.


She placed her hand in there and put pressure on the bottom, but to no effect.


Dammit.


She’d been so sure.


In frustration, she dropped a fist down into it and suddenly the side panel fell away, revealing more hidden space.


Tara looked in surprise for a moment, then lifted a fist in the air triumphantly.


“Yes!”


She reached in and pulled out the contents. There was a shoebox, old and withered.


She lifted the lid off delicately because it looked like it could all fall apart and set it down on the floor. Everything was dusty but Tara could worry about taking an allergy pill later.


She took out the papers and photos inside, confused at first, then shocked as she continued going through them. When she’d poured over everything, she spotted the last small thing in the shoebox and pulled it out. She knew what it was, even if she didn't know how to use it.


She closed it in her hand and hurried back downstairs, kneeling beside her girlfriend and shaking her gently.


“Willow. Honey, wake up.”


Willow startled awake with wide eyes.


“Wha’?”


Tara held up the flash drive in her hand.


“I need your help.”


Image


“Are you nervous?”


Tara couldn’t help but smile at the question, thinking back to asking Willow that outside on the blanket. It seemed like an age ago. And had involved a much more fun reason to be nervous.


“Kinda,” she answered, her body language indicating it was a bit more than ‘kinda’.


Willow put the portable DVD player that was in her lap onto the step beside her and walked off the porch to Tara, standing a few feet away on the patch of grass in the front yard. In public. Very much on purpose.


She put her hands on Tara’s shoulders and rubbed her there.


“Don’t let them intimidate you. Our greatest weapon is our confidence.”


“I think our greatest weapon is—” Tara started to counter, but stopped when she saw an old station wagon turn the corner onto the street, “That’s them.”


Willow patted Tara on the back and stepped back, ready to intervene when she was needed.


The station wagon parked outside the house and two looming figures got out.


Tara closed her eyes, imagining her mother’s comforting and empowering presence in her dream. She opened them again to face the two men, one wearing a dour glare and the other a smarmy smile.


“Tara,” her father, Donald Snr ‘greeted’.


“Father,” Tara returned in the same tone, then barely cast her eyes over to the other man, “Donny.”


“Finally come round to my way of thinking, little sis?” Donny asked, then leered at Willow, “Who’s this, your little girlfriend?”


Donald Snr visibly snarled but Willow didn’t flinch.


“Yeah, I am actually. Got a problem with that?”


“I’d like to see a video sometime actually,” Donny replied, his grin both greasy and predatory, “Got one you can load up on that thing?”


Willow gripped the DVD player tighter, and Donald shot him a glare.


“Donnie,” he warned, then looked back to his daughter, “Why did you summon us here, Tara?”


He turned up his nose.


“Have you decided to be more reasonable than your mother ever was?”


Willow reached out and held Tara’s wrist, a reminder not to react and to reaffirm her support. Tara remained silent.


“Ready to sign over the house to me?” Donny goaded, “I decided I’d be generous and leave your little store alone if you hand over what I deserve.”


“Oh, you’re getting what you deserve,” Willow sneered.


Tara rolled her shoulders and stood up straighter.


“Here’s what’s going to happen,” she said, enunciating clearly as she stepped up to Donny, “You’re going to leave me alone and get back in that car empty handed and we’re never going to have to see each other ever again.”


She regarded her father in the same manner.


“And you’re going to make sure he does it.”


Donald fixed her with an intimidating gaze.


“You think you can threaten me, girl?”


Once upon a time, Tara would have and did cower under that gaze but it that moment she would have gladly spat in it.


“Two words,” she said, lifting her chin in the face of his intimidation, “Jeffrey. Mule.”


Donny’s hand reached out to grip Donald’s shoulder.


“Dad.”


“Shut up, boy,” Donald barked.


He jabbed a finger in Tara’s face.


“Now listen here, little girl, you don’t know what you’re talking about so I suggest you shut up, and quick before you find yourself embroiled in matters beyond your capabilities.”


“That’s fine,” Tara replied easily, despite her heart hammering in her chest and her nose recoiling at the alcohol stench of the breath puffing in her direction, “I’ll let this do the talking.”


Willow stepped forward and pressed play on the DVD. CCTV footage played, showing an angled shot of the back of a closed bar in the middle of the night. It was quiet for a few moments, then Donny crept up and threw something through the window that looked remarkably like what had come down Tara’s chimney before.


The very station wagon sitting on the curb a few feet away pulled up and Donald came out. They both argued for just a few seconds before he picked up some trash from the cans sitting outside, lit it with a lighter and threw it in the hole made by Donny’s projectile.


“Like father, like son,” Tara commented wryly.


“I wonder if they could isolate a pyromaniac gene,” Willow added thoughtfully, which made the men react, who had been stunned into silence, “I'd read that paper.”


Donny grabbed the DVD player and began smashing it under his foot.


“Yeah, I thought you might do that,” Willow commented casually, “It’s why I bought that cheap piece of crap. Tell you what, I won’t even bill you for it. The satisfaction of knowing you’re being whipped by two little girlfriends is enough.”


Donny’s face seethed and Willow laughed.


“You think that’s our only copy? We have a whole bunch, hidden in all different kinds of physical and virtual locations.”


“Along with every other piece of evidence you tried to hide. The footage you stole, the documents you made disappear,” Tara replied, feeling the adrenaline really starting to pump through her veins now, “You didn’t even know the file you burned was full of copies. You didn’t even notice Mom making the switch on you.”


She was the one to step up this time, standing to almost her father’s full height.


“All these years you thought you got away with it, but I guess you didn’t learn your lesson the first time,” she spat, eyes unnervingly still, “Never underestimate a Maclay woman.”


Willow stepped up alongside Tara.


“We have copies of all of the evidence in places you’ll never find it.”


“She’s a computer whiz,” Tara pointed out with an adoring smile.


“If ever a whiz there was,” Willow added, smiling right back, only for Tara.


She slipped her hand into Tara’s, knowing it would annoy Donald without titillating Donny.


“And the small, small price to pay for not making it public is never having to see your ugly mugs again. Honestly, this once was enough for my whole lifetime.”


Donald lunged for Willow, but Tara stepped in front of her and Donald grabbed the back of his shirt as he cast a look around to see if anyone could see. He wasn't about to find himself in that situation again.


“If anything happens to me or Tara, a copy will be automatically forwarded to every police station in the state, the DA, the police commissioner, and ten local and national news outlets!” Willow blurted, her tone quickened from the dart of fear she’d felt at Donny’s gross body going for her.


Fear struck over both men’s faces and Tara reined things back in quickly.


“If I never have to hear your name, see your face or be in any way reminded that you exist, then I have no reason to complicate my life.”


There was a stare-down that lasted no more than a couple of seconds but seemed to drag on forever. Donald saw the same look in her eye as the day his second wife kicked him to the curb.


Alcohol, drugs, gambling, women; he didn’t often know when to just walk away.


He opted not to cross a Maclay woman twice.


“Come on Donny,” he said coldly.


“But Dad!” Donny whined like a little, spoiled brat.


“It’s a piece of shit house, Donny! I said come on!” Donald sneered and physically dragged Donny along with him.


“Oh and remember,” Tara called after them, “There’s no statute of limitations on arson. This is a lifetime deal.”


Donald again looked furtively around and shoved Donny towards the car.


Willow stepped up alongside Tara.


“And I bet that mob boss would just love to know the names of the man who burned down his building. And that all the cases you ruined the evidence for aren't quite so ruined. I guess that would reinstate your illegal gambling debts.”


“And his son’s,” Tara added.


“Right of course!” Willow replied jovially, “Hey, maybe he can get a two-hits-for-the-price-of-one deal. Or maybe he has a loyalty card and he’s on his tenth punch?”


Donald shot one last snarl in their direction and Donny just whined again before getting into the car and speeding away.


The both watched the tires squeak around the corner and waited approximately three seconds before jumping towards each other, screaming.


“Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit!” Willow said, hands gesticulating wildly, “We did it, we did it, it worked!”


Tara grabbed Willow’s shirt and closed the distance, kissing her soundly and letting the adrenaline pour out.


Willow could practically hear the curtains twitching.


“The neighbors are definitely looking now,” she said breathlessly.


Tara grinned.


“Let’s give them something to talk about.”


She got her arms under Willow and swooped her up, to a surprised yelp.


“Now there’s the ultimate pick up line!” Willow said excitedly, “Geddit, ‘cause you picked me—”


“Don’t ruin it,” Tara interrupted and Willow promptly shut her still-grinning mouth.


Tara brought Willow back into the house and kicked the door closed behind them. The whole house shook with the bang.


Tara carried Willow into the living room and dropped her on the couch. She climbed over her, pressing their hips together first and then working upwards.


Tara’s body was humming, electric fingertips brushing against Willow’s collarbone.


“How were you able to organize a copy being sent to all those people if something happened to us?”


Willow bit the corner of her mouth.


“I was banking on him being too dumb to ask.”


Tara couldn’t stop a moan falling out of her mouth.


“My brother’s stupidity should not be turning me on.”


“Well neither should blackmailing a dirty cop, but I’m soaked,” Willow returned earnestly.


“Fuck,” Tara breathed, before dropping her mouth into Willow’s neck.


Willow craned her neck and offered it all, while her hand shot up Tara’s top and cupped her breast through the bra.


Tara’s nipple was already straining against the material, and her lips vibrated against Willow’s neck as Willow pinched it.


Their hips ground together and as soon as Tara’s mouth lifted to meet Willow’s lips, their hands jointly shot between them to undo each other’s pants.


“Yes,” Tara groaned when Willow’s fingers slid past her clit and returned over it, wettened.


She tore Willow’s zipper down and pushed her panties to the side. She gently pulled at Willow’s gushing opening until the tips were coated. She rolled her fingers over Willow’s clit a few times, before sliding her index finger inside, to the knuckle.


Willow gasped, her head lolling back over the arm of the couch.


“Tara…”


Tara kissed up Willow’s throat, teeth lightly scraping her larynx and coaxing a guttural sound from her.


Willow’s hips began to thrust up desperately and Tara’s matched, pounding for the release she was craving so deeply.


“Oh god, make me come,” Tara gasped under Willow’s ear.


Willow moaned and increased her pace, in her fingers and her hips.


Tara came leaving an open-mouth kiss, and the start of a hickey, on Willow’s neck, who followed soon after when Tara’s orgasm made her bite down.


After a minute or so, Tara moved off and sat properly, fixing her pants. Her fingers rested on the button and she looked down at her knees contemplatively.


“Did we do the right thing?”


Willow blew out a breath, zipped herself up and swung her legs around.


“It’s just sex, baby,” she replied, then rushed to clarify, “I’m not saying it’s ‘just’—”


“No,” Tara cut her off, wiping her brow with her sleeve, “I just keep wondering if I should’ve just given all the evidence over to the police.”


Willow put a hand on Tara’s knee and rubbed it comfortingly.


“There’s a reason your mother didn’t,” she said after a moment, “And it was to protect you. You chose to protect yourself, and I chose to help you do that. A bad man committed a crime against another bad man. Now I don’t care if they destroy each other, but hell if I was going to let you become collateral damage. Nobody worth anything is hurt by what we had to do.”


Tara remained stoic for a moment, then dropped her head into her hands and started to cry. Willow gathered her in, pulling Tara’s legs over her lap and stroking her hair and down her arm.


“It’s over, now. It’s all over.”


She held Tara until she quietened and the surge of emotion and stress finally dissipated through her tears.


Willow brushed some hair from Tara’s brow and over a creased line.


“You still look kinda troubled.”


Tara sniffed deeply and looked up into Willow’s eye.


“There was one more thing under that floorboard.”


Image


Willow knelt beside Tara at the tulip bush where her mother’s ashes were buried in the soil.


She rested her palms on her thighs and remained reverently silent as Tara played with the object in her hands.


“I don’t mean this disrespectfully…but I don't understand why she went to so much effort to hide that she had a miscarriage?” she asked eventually when Tara didn't move or react in any way.


Tara held the small golden baby bracelet, engraved with a name that wasn’t hers and dates that only spread four months apart.


“Because she was ashamed,” Tara explained. Finding the bracelet had been a surprise, and not, all at once. It made a lot of things make sense, “That’s why she reacted so viscerally when she found my Dad attacking me. She didn’t want to ‘let down’ another child. He could have been the reason she miscarried in the first place; I don’t know how much he pushed her around. She hid it from me. But I do know her and I know she would have blamed herself for letting him.”


She sighed deeply, closing her eyes at the weight of the pain.


“The monster under her bed wasn’t just my father…it was her own sense of failure.”


Willow put an arm around Tara’s shoulders and squeezed gently.


“She had nothing to be ashamed of.”


Tara inhaled deeply and nodded.


“I know that, you know that,” she answered, opening her eyes with a sad, but soft smile, “I hope wherever she is, she knows that too.”


Willow nodded that she agreed. Tara lifted the baby bracelet to her lips and kissed it.


“Be at peace, Momma. Be at peace, Lily.”


She buried the bracelet in a little hole she’d dug amongst the bulbs.


“Little Innocent; Loved. Yearned.”


She covered it and smoothed it out again, leaving the soil looking untouched.


“Be at peace.”


Image


Willow lay, tense, but doing her best to stay relaxed.


In all of her months of living life according to the ‘Fuck It’ philosophy, she’d never had quite an eventful passage of days as the last few had turned out to be.


She’d come so that Tara wouldn’t be alone and to make sure she ate a good meal and had someone to cuddle and feel safe with at night. She didn’t realize she’d be supporting her girlfriend through some of the most intense confrontations and ultimate closure of her whole life.


She was so happy she had, though. She had only fallen even more in love with her wonderfully complex girlfriend and felt their bond had just fused into something even deeper. There seemed to be no end no how deeply she could fall for Tara.


“You’re doing so great,” Tara encouraged, her eyes creased with laughter lines instead of worry ones.


“How does it look?” Willow replied, breathing slightly raspy as she tried to keep herself still.


Tara glanced down at Willow’s left foot, where a head of black hair and a bent full-sleeved arm was hiding a tattoo gun etching ink into Willow’s skin.


“I can’t see properly, but I’m sure it’s great. It’s not too bad, right? The pain?”


“It’s not awful,” Willow agreed, then returned a compliment Tara had given to her before, “Looking at your pretty face sure helps.”


Tara smiled again and reached out to cup Willow’s cheek. She rubbed her thumb over Willow’s jawbone, just being silently affectionate. She’d been doing it a lot in the past couple of days, just appreciating Willow.


And Willow loved it; being needed, wanted and just so clearly loved so deeply. She’d never known a feeling like it, to know palpable adoration in the barest brush of a fingertip.


Willow held Tara’s hand to her cheek and embraced the feeling; far more powerful than the sting of a needle pushing indelible ink into her skin.


The tattoo artist wiped over the taut muscles of Willow’s foot where her new rainbow-gradient Mobius strip sat as a colorful disruption to her otherwise milky skin.


She sat back and rolled her neck a little after being hunched for so long.


“You’re all done,” she said with an easy smile, her bare arms flexed and showing off her own intricate work as she stood up from her stool, “You did good for a first-timer. Not as good as Tara here, she fell asleep.”


“You fell asleep?” Willow asked, feeling weak.


“I found the vibrations soothing,” Tara answered, smiling.


Willow looked down at her foot, bending her knee at an angle for a better view. She stretched her muscles and wiggled her toes, finally grinning wildly.


“I love it!”


They went over aftercare procedures and Tara promised to help, remembering from doing it for herself. Willow slipped her flip flop back on, which wasn’t entirely suitable for the cold winter air but it didn’t rub against the fresh ink and that was more important.


As they approached the counter, Tara sidled up to her girlfriend.


“Willow, I’d like to get this for you,” she said shyly, “You came all the way out here, paid for flights, took time off work. It’s a tiny repayment but I’d like…”


She paused and looked down at Willow’s foot.


“Tell me why you got that design again.”


“To remind me my only boundary is myself,” Willow answered sincerely, then grinned, “And that I’m hella gay.”


“Right,” Tara replied, laughing, “Well I’d like to gift you with this to show you I support both of those things in full. To support you reaching and learning your unlimited potential…and I’m definitely interested in seeing how gay you can be.”


Willow giggled and leaned in to rest their foreheads together.


“Thank you.”


“Thank you,” Tara echoed and shot her a wink.


Tara paid for the tattoo and Willow spent the short walk back to the car staring at her foot and trying to make it out clearly under the wrapping.


“She did such a good job with the gradient. It looks just like I generated.”


“Happy?” Tara asked softly as she turned the engine on.


“Ecstatic,” Willow answered, twisting her foot around and discovering she could manipulate her muscles to make the strip wave, “Hey, check this out.”


Tara waited until she was at a stoplight and glanced over. She guessed Willow was still on a high from it all because she could barely see anything under the covering but there was a muted flash of color.


“Very cool,” she answered, nonetheless, “Hey, the realtor called while you were getting that done. Someone wants to view the house today. I just need to run home to let them in because she doesn’t have a copy of the new key. Then we can go grab some lunch or something. Sound good?”


“Sure, baby,” Willow agreed easily.


Tara drove them back and made sure everywhere was tidy. Willow went to the bathroom and when she was reaching the end of the stairs, there was a knock on the door.


Tara answered it and let Suzanna in, along with a single woman, a tall blonde lady who was clutching the strap of her purse tightly.


Suzanna said hello and introduced the woman.


“This is Charlotte. She’s moving up from Eunice, Louisiana.”


“Hi, I’m Tara,” Tara replied warmly, and put an arm on Willow’s shoulder, “This is my partner Willow.”


Suzanna looked taken aback but attempted to cover.


“Oh,” she said, and visibly stumbled over her words, “Well, wonderful. Um, perhaps we’ll get on with the viewing?”


Charlotte was wide-eyed for a moment and clutched her purse tighter.


“Is there any way we could stall the viewing for 20 minutes? 15 even?”


“Is there a problem?” Suzanna asked, casting a wary eye towards Tara for just a split second.


Charlotte allowed a hopeful smile to grace her face. It really showed off how pretty she was with her guard not so tensely up.


“I’d just love for my… well, my wife to see the place with me,” she admitted, face illuminating at her mention, “We’ve had trouble seeing places together sometimes so I’ve been doing it alone, but…”


Suzanna looked like she might faint.


“Well, how…how lovely. I-I suppose we can wait.”


“Come on in,” Tara offered, “Why don’t I make you some tea while you wait?”


Charlotte moved away to make the brief call, then joined them in the kitchen. As Tara brought a pot of tea to the table and poured it into cups, Suzanna shifted uncomfortably in her seat.


“You know, I record Ellen every single day,” she eventually blurted, “She’s a fine sort.”


Charlotte casually sipped her tea.


“I’ll tell her at the next meeting.”


Willow nearly choked and Tara had to really hold back the laughter.


“Suzanna, if it’s okay with you and Charlotte, I’d be happy to show them around the house. I know you must have a full schedule.”


“That would be wonderful,” Charlotte interjected gratefully.


Suzanna wasted no time in standing up from the table.


“Oh, well, if you’re quite sure, I do have other pressing matters to attend to,” she said, clearing her throat, “We’ll, ah, be in touch.”


She bolted from the house and it only took a few seconds for the other three women to burst out laughing.


“Do you think she got lesbians and scorpions mixed up?” Willow asked, wiping tears from her eyes, “Because she looked like we were about to bite her.”


They all giggled over their tea.


“You can call me Charlie by the way,” Charlie said with a smile, “Vickie won’t be long. We really appreciate this.”


“It’s no problem, really,” Tara said, holding up a hand, “I’m sorry you’ve had such trouble.”


Charlie shrugged a shoulder.


“Comes with the territory. We can handle ourselves.”


The doorbell rang a few minutes later and Charlie got up to answer it herself, after asking Tara's permission.


Tara waited by the staircase as it centered the house and was a good place to start the tour.


“Should I leave?” Willow asked quietly, coming up beside her.


“Hey, you might help seal the deal,” Tara joked.


“I’m not having a foursome,” Willow replied with a grin.


Tara arched an eyebrow.


“What happened to ‘Fuck It’?”


“It comes with an iron clad ‘only-fuck-you’ clause,” Willow whispered back, “Besides, I already got a tattoo today, I'm all out of fucks. I’ll wait in the living room.”


Charlie came back and introduced her wife, a small brunette, who seemed excited but shy.


Willow said hello and excused herself to let Tara do her thing.


Tara brought them around the house, showing off each room; able to personalize it much more than the realtor ever could. She told them who’d lived there, showed them the weathered patterns on the floors, the scuff marks on the skirting boards and tiny holes in the walls. How each imperfection was a result of a happy memory and revealed how it was not just a house, but a home.


Tara hadn't known, but she needed to be reminded of that too. As she walked through the house, she was comforted by a sense of peace. It was a home, just not hers anymore. At least, not for much longer.


From the doorway of the last guest room, she lifted a hand.


“I’ll let you have a look around. Take your time.”


The two women smiled gratefully and Tara walked back downstairs. As she passed by the hallway, she noticed a white envelope sitting on the floor behind the door with her name neatly scrawled in calligraphy.


She picked it up and walked into the living room, where Willow was perching on the end of the couch.


“How’s it going?” Willow asked quietly, then saw the envelope, “What’s that?”


Tara slid the card out of the envelope.


“It’s a bon voyage card,” she said, reading the message on the front artwork, before opening up the inside, “…all of the neighbors signed it.”


She’d had very little contact with any of her neighbors beyond cordial waves and helping out if she was needed. She’d always thought her family was judged by their name and their history. It was never overtly stated, but it was The South.


Nothing ever was.


She had assumed there were silent whispers, but maybe there was just silence. Letting them live their lives.


She thought of the day her father had attacked her and how no one came out to defend her.


But they had called her mother. Going against the instinct to keep their nose clean, and that was something. They just saw a man dealing with his teenage daughter but knew of his reputation or just his manner and reached out how they could.


She’d never considered that perspective before. Allowing herself to let go made for a more harmonious cognizance.


She handed the card to Willow, who read the hand-written message inside.


“‘Keep your saddle oiled and your gun greased’,” Willow read, her eyes widening, “You have a gun?”


She paled and looked even more scared.


“And a horse?”


Tara laughed.


“No,” Tara replied, shaking her head, amused, “Just a…well wish from the community.”


Willow shook her head too.


“People are insane.”


“Quirky,” Tara amended, smiling.


There were sounds of footsteps on the stairs and Willow and Tara went out to meet the other couple.


Vickie was holding onto Charlie’s arm and smiling.


“Charlie’s trying to make me hold my tongue but I really love this place,” she gushed, blushing, “Have you been…accepted here?”


Tara left her card down on the hallway table.


“You don’t seem strangers to this part of the world…but people are kind. I think you’d feel safe here,” she said, placing a hand on the wall and having a lifetime of memories flood through her, “And it’s a great house to raise a family in.”


Vickie’s eyebrows shot up.


“How did you know?” she asked, a hand going to her stomach, “We just found out.”


“I didn’t,” Tara replied, then offered warmly, “Congratulations.”


Willow echoed the sentiment, and gratitude was expressed from the other couple. Then Charlie put a hand on Vickie’s shoulder, stood taller and looked Tara in the eye.


“Can we negotiate this woman to woman?”


Tara nodded and took Charlie into the living room, closing the door behind her.


“Charlie is much better at the talking,” Vickie admitted shyly.


Willow stood awkwardly for a moment, then offered Vickie more tea. She brought her back to the kitchen and noticed a wrist tattoo of a butterfly, so asked about it. She didn’t want to inadvertently say something to wreck the sale for Tara.


After a while, Charlie and Tara came in, both smiling as they went to their significant others. Charlie gave a short nod to Vickie, who lit up.


All four women shook hands and exchanged goodbyes. Tara saw them out and came running back to Willow.


“We’re sold!” she announced, throwing her hands up, then around Willow.


Willow cheered and hugged Tara back.


“That’s so great, baby. What did I tell you? It would all be okay.”


Tara kissed the top of Willow’s head repeatedly.


“I could never have gotten here without your support.”


They embraced silently for a few minutes until Willow pulled back.


“So what’s next?”


Tara took in a deep breath.


“Packing the last few things up. And then…”


She looked all around, with a little sadness, but no regret.


“I say goodbye.”


Image


Willow looked out the window of the plane, watching the clouds pass by.


Her hand held Tara’s on top of the armrest and she looked over at her girlfriend.


“Hey,” she said softly, drawing Tara’s attention, “I was thinking when we're back I could have a holiday get together and you can meet my friends you don't know and I can meet yours.”


Tara turned her head towards Willow, her smile tired but genuine.


“I think that’s a lovely idea,” she said, squeezing their linked fingers, “I thought about a housewarming but my place isn’t really big enough.”


Willow rested her head on the spot right beside Tara.


“Cosy enough for two.”


They shared a brief, chaste kiss and Tara settled her head back and closed her eyes.


Three hours later, as the wheels set down on the tarmac, Willow gently rubbed Tara’s thigh under the blanket she had draped across her lap.


“Baby,” she said softly.


Tara’s eyes flickered open and settled on Willow’s. She smiled, not registering the sounds of belts unbuckling as impatient people were getting ready to jump up, or the dinging sound of the seatbelt sign being turned off. All her focus was for Willow.


Willow smiled back, her lips naturally curling up happily in response to Tara’s smile.


“We’re home.”


Tara blinked a few times as those words settled in her mind and then her heart.


For the first time, she felt it without the anguish of the losses she’d left behind or the gnawing ache that part of her had died with her mother too. She felt the totality of the word in earnest and for what it really meant now: a lifetime with Willow. She didn’t die, she was just finally ready to rise anew.


She held her palm up for Willow to link their fingers and mouthed ‘I love you’.


Watching the joy break out on Willow’s face from the simple actions made her discover a truth her heart would never forget.


She would never quite be the same, because now she knew as intrinsically as how to breathe, that true love, truly heals.

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 Post subject: Re: The Love… Series
PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2017 3:37 pm 
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Dibs-y Goodness! :banana :bounce

Yay for excellent update-y goodness... I'm glad that the Tara's Dad & Donny problem was sorted... Can't wait for the "Scooby" gathering...

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 Post subject: Re: The Love… Series
PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2017 7:50 pm 
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Laragh! That was utterly delightful. So glad that Tara is free of Donny and her father. How wonderful of Willow to come to her rescue - so sweet.

Absolutely LOVED how you repurposed the star gazing scene for them pontificating while high. I laughed so hard - it's perfect!

Finally, Charlie and Vickie gave me WayHaught vibes, but that may just be because I'm obsessed with them. So, ignore me.

Loved it!!

Cheers
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 Post subject: Re: The Love… Series
PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2017 11:03 pm 
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Yay!!! I'm so glad you decided to continue this and am totally looking forward to more.

********

Ok, now that I've read the entry the above still stands.

The whole encounter with Donnie left me nervous and her dad too, so her mom was blackmailing her ex to keep the "loving" father and her POS son away from her and Tara... well, damn, she WAS a bad ass.

It was also kind of sweet to hear how Anya had gone out of her way to make herself available to Tara after her mom passed away too.

More please?

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 Post subject: Re: The Love… Series
PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2017 8:28 pm 
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Yay, more Love... (when I read 'Love...' in the title my brain supplied 'Love and Flowers' on its own, so that's my fan name for the series now). Boo hiss to the Maclay men as always - I liked the tension in that scene, that even though it was Willow and Tara knowing they had the hard evidence they needed to put the matter to rest, it was still this nerve-frazzling mix of elation and panic when they were actually doing it (and it was really spicy when, afterwards, the panic had gone away and the elation led very naturally to arousal, yay).

And in amidst all the usual Smut With Feelings, which was lovely as always, I was really moved by Charlie's introduction, that moment when all of a sudden she's hopeful - that really hit home, how much happiness she suddenly found open to her, in doing something as natural as having her wife with her to look at maybe their new house, all just because Willow and Tara are there and being their completely normal (although, of course, amazing) selves. :pride

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 Post subject: Re: The Love… Series
PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2017 9:33 am 
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zampsa1975 -

Quote:
Yay for excellent update-y goodness... I'm glad that the Tara's Dad & Donny problem was sorted... Can't wait for the "Scooby" gathering...


I'm glad you enjoyed it and I look forward to writing more when I finish up a different fandom fic I'm doing.

DarkWiccan -

Quote:
Laragh! That was utterly delightful. So glad that Tara is free of Donny and her father. How wonderful of Willow to come to her rescue - so sweet.


You know I love a good romantic trope.

Quote:
Absolutely LOVED how you repurposed the star gazing scene for them pontificating while high. I laughed so hard - it's perfect!


It was my favorite thing to 'write' - because I barely had to change a thing and they still sounded high as balls :lol I remember reading a theory once that Tara was stoned all the time and you know what, I could believe it.

Quote:
Finally, Charlie and Vickie gave me WayHaught vibes, but that may just be because I'm obsessed with them. So, ignore me.


Aesthetically not so much, but I did see them as a tol and smol! Also Charlie is a cop (random unincluded backstory. Actually Vickie could be a translator now that I think about it. I'm sure there's a need for one in small town Arkansas... but I don't think she breaks sticks over her knee or has a penchant for flamethrowers. Hair for days though for sure).

Quote:
Loved it!!


:D

vampyregurl73 -

Quote:
Yay!!! I'm so glad you decided to continue this and am totally looking forward to more.


Thanks!

Quote:
The whole encounter with Donnie left me nervous and her dad too, so her mom was blackmailing her ex to keep the "loving" father and her POS son away from her and Tara... well, damn, she WAS a bad ass.


The BAMF gene comes from somewhere.

Quote:
It was also kind of sweet to hear how Anya had gone out of her way to make herself available to Tara after her mom passed away too.


I always loved that friendship and like the thought of them looking out for each other.

Quote:
More please?


Yep, definitely in the nearish future!

Artemis -

Quote:
Yay, more Love... (when I read 'Love...' in the title my brain supplied 'Love and Flowers' on its own, so that's my fan name for the series now).


I like Love and Flowers!!

Quote:
Boo hiss to the Maclay men as always - I liked the tension in that scene, that even though it was Willow and Tara knowing they had the hard evidence they needed to put the matter to rest, it was still this nerve-frazzling mix of elation and panic when they were actually doing it (and it was really spicy when, afterwards, the panic had gone away and the elation led very naturally to arousal, yay).


Any excuse for smut, right?

Quote:
And in amidst all the usual Smut With Feelings, which was lovely as always, I was really moved by Charlie's introduction, that moment when all of a sudden she's hopeful - that really hit home, how much happiness she suddenly found open to her, in doing something as natural as having her wife with her to look at maybe their new house, all just because Willow and Tara are there and being their completely normal (although, of course, amazing) selves. :pride


I really like the idea that this one serendipitous moment that Willow happened to be there led to all of this movement in both couples' lives :)

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 Post subject: Re: The Love… Series
PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 2:03 pm 
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Hey JMT! :bigwave

I am SOOOOOO glad you decided to continue this sweet fic. I loved the first installment and I'm equally loving the continuation.

I do have to admit, I was very worried for Tara, even after Willow arrived, and was wondering how she was going to get around her father and brother. At first, I thought Tara might find a couple hundred thousand dollars under those old floorboards, but what she found was so much better. I think I was just as happy as Tara and Willow to see that chapter closed. Good riddance.

I got a good laugh at the stargazing and I LOL'd at your comment to DarkWiccan, "I barely had to change a thing and they still sounded high as balls." TRUE THAT.

Anyway, I love it and can't wait for more...eventually. If you get a chance, Facebook IM me the link to the "other fandom fic."

Later Gator!
~Shelb

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 Post subject: Re: The Love… Series
PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 4:04 pm 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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Finey_McFine wrote:
Hey JMT! :bigwave


Hi!

Quote:
I am SOOOOOO glad you decided to continue this sweet fic. I loved the first installment and I'm equally loving the continuation.


Thanks, I'm so glad!

Quote:
I do have to admit, I was very worried for Tara, even after Willow arrived, and was wondering how she was going to get around her father and brother. At first, I thought Tara might find a couple hundred thousand dollars under those old floorboards, but what she found was so much better. I think I was just as happy as Tara and Willow to see that chapter closed. Good riddance.


I hope they accidentally set themselves on fire someday.

Quote:
I got a good laugh at the stargazing and I LOL'd at your comment to DarkWiccan, "I barely had to change a thing and they still sounded high as balls." TRUE THAT.


I can never watch that scene the same way now :lol

Quote:
Anyway, I love it and can't wait for more...eventually. If you get a chance, Facebook IM me the link to the "other fandom fic."



I will! I haven't started posting it yet, I'm hoping to finish it up in the next couple of weeks.

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