Willow sat back on her sofa, feeling like some part of her had walked out of her apartment when Tara left. She picked up her phone. "Buffy, you got time for a private training session today?"
"Okay 3 is good for me too, I'll see you there," said Willow after listening to Buffy's reply. She put the phone down and was surprised that the feeling of emptiness remained. She wanted to see more of Tara and she wanted it to be soon. She smiled when she thought of the blonde and she felt a little better.
Tara jumped into her car and placed the brown bag of groceries she had purchased on the passenger's seat. She pulled out of the lot and headed towards the tunnel that would take her to New Jersey. After making good time on a quiet Sunday afternoon she pulled up outside a small neat house with a tidy garden in a quiet suburban neighbourhood. Tara walked around the back and opened the kitchen door.
A tall handsome black woman, with high cheek bones and almond shaped eyes, turned from the stove, where she was cooking dinner and gave Tara a warm smile. "Hey honey, what's kept you away for so long?"
Tara put her bag of groceries down and pulled the woman into a hug and then put her hand on Chrissie's belly, which was starting to bulge "You know, work, life... I know, no excuse. How is my little girl doing and you, have you been looking after yourself?"
"In this house? I haven't a choice they way they fuss around me, and the scan showed her as being very healthy. Alex is going to have a bouncing baby sister," said Chrissie, rolling her eyes. "You didn't have to bring anything, you know."
"I felt it was time you have one of my world famous smoothies, I have to make sure you get all your vitamins," said Tara, getting up and pulling out a couple of mangoes, some bananas and a quart of fresh orange juice. "Now you sit down while I get this ready."
"Tara, I'm pregnant, not ill," said Chrissie, sounding exasperated.
The blonde ignored her. Instead she had already taken out a chopping board and a sharp knife and was starting to peel the mango.
"What's wrong?" asked Chrissie, as Tara put the knife down and got a large jug from a cupboard. Her friend was acting impulsively instead of slowly and methodically as was her usual demeanour.
"N-nothing, what could be wrong," said Tara, turning her attention back to the mango.
"Well for one thing you usually like to get some rest before you go on nights and here you are in my kitchen preparing fruit drinks, while your hands are shaking so bad you can hardly hold the knife. Who is she?" asked Chrissie, her question obviously struck a nerve, and Tara jumped, causing the knife to slip. "Tara, damn..."
"It's okay, just a small cut," said Tara, shaking her hand.
"Run it under the tap, then wrap a kitchen towel around it. I'll get a bandage," said Chrissie rising from the chair.
"Look it's okay..."
Chrissie shot her a look that said she was not going to take any arguments as she came back to Tara with the bandages. She took Tara's hand in hers looking at the cut on her finger. "That's pretty deep, are you sure it won't need a stitch or two?"
"It's just a little cut," snapped Tara, instantly regretting it. She meekly held out the finger to let Chrissie put the bandage on. "Thanks, I'm sorry."
She waved Tara off. "Oh come on, I have a husband and a 4 year old; I have had much worse, but tell me what's wrong."
"I don't know," said Tara before taking a deep breath. "Yeah I do. There is someone I just met...she...I think she's special."
Chrissie looked at her friend's face and it was more troubled than she would ever expect from someone who had just found a special person. "Why do I feel there is a "but" coming on?"
Tara looked around the room, anywhere than at the intense brown eyes that were watching her closely.
"Do I have to use my courtroom technique to drag this out of you Detective," said Chrissie.
"Lieutenant," corrected Tara automatically. "No."
Chrissie waited and still nothing from Tara, who seemed to be finding the bandage on her finger fascinating. "You came here to talk to me, so talk."
"C-chrissie," said Tara, starting to look distressed, sitting down on another of the kitchen chairs.
"Tara, I can't help you if you won't talk to me," said Chrissie, taking Tara's hands and holding them between her own.
Tara started to talk in a low voice. "I met this woman the other night and she is... she is beautiful, smart and sexy and perfect. She is Dawn's sister's friend and we met and it was so good." Tara shuddered, as torrid erotic images flashed across her mind.
"So why do you look so worried?" asked Chrissie.
"It was a little, I don't know...r-rough," said Tara.
"She hurt you?" asked Chrissie, suddenly concerned.
"NO, no," protested Tara and then quieter. "It w-was me."
"You hurt her?" asked Chrissie, her brow creased with disbelief.
"Yes, no, no I didn't. I c-can't explain it. I like her a lot, but I wasn't sure if things hadn't gotten out of hand." Tara was blushing and getting more and more embarrassed with every word.
"Tara, when was the last time you were with someone?" asked Chrissie, seeing that the blonde looked even more mortified, continued anyway. "You have been alone for so long that you are probably not used to the whole passion thing. I mean, did she want to see you again?"
"Yes. At least she seemed to..."
"Then don't worry, honey," said Chrissie.
"Although I kinda blew out of there in a hurry," said Tara. "I didn't even get her number or gave her mine."
"It's okay, I told her to get my number through Dawn. I suppose I could do that too," said Tara.
"So tell me about her?" asked Chrissie.
"She's called Willow..." Tara paused.
"And?" prodded Chrissie.
"We didn't do a hell of a lot of talking," said Tara giving Chrissie her little side-ways smile.
"If you think she is special..."
"Who's special?" asked a male voice coming from the doorway behind them.
"Auntie Tara," said another voice, and a small boy of about 4 or 5 threw himself bodily onto Tara's lap.
"Hey Alex, where have you been?" Tara asked, ruffling her hand through his short curly hair.
"Out riding bikes with my Dad," answered Alex. "Are you having lunch with us? Does that mean he doesn't have to work tonight?"
"Sorry sport, but your Dad still has to work," said Tara, "but I am going to have lunch with you."
Alex's face went from downcast to smiling in no time at all.
"Talking of which," said Chrissie. "Alex go and wash hands and get changed."
The little boy looked at his mother for a second. "Can Tara come up with me?"
"If you get started Dad will be up in a minute to help you," said Chrissie.
Alex kissed Tara on the cheek and headed for the stairs.
"He is so sweet, I feel my hormones going off every time I come here," sighed Tara.
"So who is special?" asked her partner of more than 8 years, making Tara blush. "Maclay has a girl woo, and may I add hoo."
"Xander," said Chrissie. "If you can't behave you can go upstairs with Alex."
Xander gave his wife a hang-dog look but turned and winked at Tara. "I'll behave, I promise."
"Tara has met a woman called Willow, but they were so busy having hot monkey sex that she didn't get to know her or even get her number..."
"Hey," said Tara, looking a little offended.
"You have a point you want to disagree on?"
"I can get her number from Dawn," mumbled Tara.
"Weak defense," answered Chrissie. "But I have an idea, we are having a barbecue next Saturday, so why don't we invite her and Dawn?"
Tara looked ready to argue again but the idea appealed to her. "K."
"Cool," said Xander.