Still 16 days to go.....
With her dancing and singing finally out of her system, Tara fixed herself a plate of food and headed up into the loft area. Setting up her paints, brushes and fetching a larger canvas, she inhaled deeply, the huge grin still playing the edge of her lips and lighting up her eyes.
"At first I was afraid, I was petrified....." she sang, working the brushes through the paints before caressing the canvas. "Kept thinking I could never live without you by my side...."
Miss Kitty skulked in through the cat flap and sat on one of the stairs, still totally bamboozled by the increasingly obscure behaviour shown by her owners since their return.
On the canvas in front of her, the abstract ruins of what Tara saw as a castle began to emerge. "I spent so many nights, thinking how you did me wrong. And I grew strong and I learnt how to get along!" The words dried up in her brain as the picture developed, the castle, its tattered ruins were overshadowed by a huge figure, its menacing eyes contorted in rage.
"Go on now go! Walk out the door! La la la la la." from the opening in the castle, an angelic figure was being created, radiating power and strength in its movement.
"Did you think I'd crumble? Did you think I'd break down and cry? Oh no not I! I will survive, for as long as I know how to love, I know I'll stay alive!" Miss Kitty crept down the stairs; the madness of her pretty blonde mistress obviously hadn't been quelled so she opted for the safest place she knew, under the tree in the back yard.
Large orange and red swirls engulfed the figure in the canvas, a deep purple streak heated it's based, the fuel for the fire.
As the picture before her rapidly grew, Tara's mind flew back to the last picture she had painted this quickly. It had been the first time that she and Willow had spent the night together, Willow left for work and she had rushed for her paints, a full and perfect portrait of the stunning redhead had emerged on the canvas almost without any effort at all.
Now, here she was again, another huge emotional event in her life, and another picture that was created without thought, plan or effort.
Willow stepped out of her office building and glanced at her watch. 7pm. "Great, great, great, great, great!" she mumbled sarcastically as she headed to her car. "Willow!" a mans voice grudgingly made her stop and turn back towards the building. Greg emerged from the stairwell, his trademark grin plastered all over his face. "What is it Greg?" she asked, her voice demonstrated the length of the day and her immense tiredness. Extending his hand, she glanced down and saw it contained her cell phone. "You forgot this." he said as she took the flip top phone from his fingers. "Oh, cheers. See you tomorrow!" Willow said, her own smile tickling her features as she turned and headed back to her car. Slumping into the driver's seat, Willow dug around in her bag for her keys. Before jamming the key into the ignition, Willow found herself grinning madly at a key fob. It was a picture of her and Tara, taken at the funfair the previous year. Vince had begged them to go with him and Blaze and they'd had the greatest time. Riding the bumper cars, waltzer and eating cotton candy, they had been mentally transported back to their childhoods, no worries, no responsibilities, just fun and friendship. With the grin still on her face, she started the car and headed home.
Pulling up outside the house, Willow noticed Miss Kitty sitting on the front step and giggled at her. She had always had quite an expressional face but Willow could never remember seeing the cat look confused. As she stepped out onto the sidewalk, an older man came around the corner and glared at her. At his side, a tall well built man who Willow aged at about 35. They turned to each other and then began striding towards her purposefully. As she locked up the car, Willow paused to allow the men to cross in front of her before she made her way up her path and finally into the arms of her lover.
To her surprise, they stopped in front of her, hands on hips and a threatening glare pinning her to the spot. "Can I help you?" she asked slowly, returning the steely glare of the younger man. "Willow?" the older man said, despite it being an obvious question, Willow was suddenly unwilling to answer, instead pushing between the men and starting up the path. The younger man grabbed hold of her wrist and instinctively her elbow came up hard and fast, connecting with his wide set jaw and rattling his teeth. "Get your fucking hands off of me!" she growled at him as he wiped a trickle of blood from the corner of his mouth. The older man began advancing towards her and she weighed up her options. Should she run into the safety of the house? Scream until Tara came out? Stand and fight her ground? Running seemed like the sensible option, but the outrage at being attacked on her own path had made her mad. Unseen, she slid her hand into her bag, her fingers wrapping around the cord attached to her panic alarm.
In a split second, both men lunged for her, although their attack seemed a little less coordinated than they might have hoped. Willow stepped back and ripped the pin from her alarm, throwing her now screaming bag towards the house, where it thudded against the front door.
Rising to their feet, the men looked full of anger at missing the redhead. "You corrupted my daughter!" the older man snarled, "She belongs with her family!" he continued as he balled a fist towards Willow, who was now backing nearer and nearer to the house. Suddenly the front door burst open to reveal Tara, her overalls covered in paint and a deep purple streak running across her cheek and into her hair. Both men halted in their tracks, suddenly unsure of where to go from here. The pure fury on Tara's face as she stepped onto the porch actually scared Willow and she found herself backing away from everyone.
Turning to Willow, but never allowing her eyes to leave the men in the yard, Tara said; "Willow. Go inside and call the cops." her voice was low and calm, and strangely unnerving.
Willow reached for her bag, unwilling to leave Tara with these men and grabbed her cell phone. The scene before reminded her of a stand off in one of those westerns. Her voice told the controller all the details but she had no control over it, thanking the woman on the phone, she snapped the lid closed and returned to Tara's side.
"Get the hell of my path, out of my garden and out of my life. You are not welcome here!" Tara's words were slow, deliberate and filled with threat. The tone sending shivers up Willow's spine and covering her in millions of goosebumps.
The younger man took a step towards her, his eyes blazing with fury. "You're threatening me?!" he demanded, "You think you and your dyke whore can threaten ME?" To their credit, neither woman moved or flinched, until he finished his sentence.
Tara suddenly leapt from Willow's side, her fists flying at the taller man's head. Completely unprepared for this, Donny Maclay was barrelled backwards, landing heavily on the grass.
Sirens blared from sown the street, but no one heard them. As a squad car pulled up to the front of the house, Donny backhanded Tara across the face and almost as soon as his hand made contact, he found himself in handcuffs.
As the policeman read him his rights, Mr. Maclay began his verbal torrent of abuse and soon found himself sat next to his son in the back of the car.
An officer escorted Willow and Tara into the house and took statements from both, asking them to pop into the station in the morning.
As she pushed the door closed and bolted it firmly, Willow turned to Tara. "What the hell was that about?" she asked, her voice shaking a little, not from the attack but the composed and collected fury that Tara had displayed.
Tara grinned at her, the situation dictated a more sombre tone, but she just couldn't help herself. "That was my brother and father." she told Willow. She had explained about her childhood many years ago and Willow had held her so tightly when she broke down, supported her and loved her despite her past.
"Whoa." Willow breathed, "Nice folk." Tara crossed slowly to her side, wrapping her arms around her waist, her fingers coming to rest on the small of the redheads back. Before Willow could speak, Tara leant in and placed a delicate kiss on the warm lips of her lover. Willow's eyes closed as Tara's tongue flicked gently over her lips and found her own, joining together in an eager dance of sensual passion. For that moment, the world dropped away, nothing else but them. Their heartbeats increasing and melting together, limbs entangled in hair, lips, tongues, souls all coming together to complete them. They couldn't tell where one ended and the other began, everything about them was together. Willow-Tara body, heart, mind and spirit.
As she pulled back, Tara grinned, her breath short and ragged. "They have no power over me anymore." she whispered. "He was here earlier and I didn't get scared, I fought back and stood up to him and I broke his control and he left, and then there was singing and dancing and... ooooohh..." Tara had contracted Willow babble-age in their time together and Willow could see how attractive it could be, on the right person. Tara grabbed her hand and dragged her towards the loft, her grin lighting up the house as she went. As they stepped into the airy loft space, Willow's eyes were drawn to the huge canvas that was drying in its centre.
"Oh my god. Tara!" Willow's grin lit up her face as she studied the image.
"I started it afterwards." Tara said, the joy radiating from her and warming the air. "It's for Mr. Torak." she continued. Willow turned and stared at her, in one day Tara had conquered her past and painted this huge and beautiful picture. She looked lighter somehow, and Willow wondered if she had looked similar when she managed to put things with Oz behind her. "And it's called...." Tara said, cueing Willow for a drum roll which she performed, badly on the paint chest. "Free To Be Me!"
Willow flew across the floor, wrapping Tara in a huge hug and sweeping her off her feet. "You are truly amazing!" she whispered into the giggling blonde's ear. "I love you!"