13 days to go....
Willow had already left for work, leaving Tara with the task of phoning around the caterer, hotel and car rental people to ensure that everything was still running smoothly.
Fixing herself a large mug of tea, Tara returned to Willow's desk in the loft, the paperwork for each company lay in neat piles before her.
Thankfully, everything else was running smoothly and after emailing Thomas a few pictures of the cake they wanted, she returned to the phone. Dialling the number of the florists, she managed to get all the details of their order through and learnt that everything was perfect. With a grin on her face, Tara was hit by a sudden wave of inspiration. Poor Willow had been so stressed out with work and the nightmares of the cake fiasco that she needed cheering up. "Can I also order some roses to be delivered today?" she asked the cheerful assistant on the other end of the line. Down the phone she could hear the woman checking something in a large book before answering. "Yes, we do have one more delivery slot for today. What colour roses would you like?"
Flicking quickly through the file before her, Tara found the rose colour meanings that they had printed off when deciding on flowers for the wedding. Running a finger down the list, Tara found what she was looking for. "Erm, may I have a dozen red and a dozen pink please?" she asked smiling at the words accompanying her choice. Red for love, romance, beauty, courage and respect. The pink to represent gentleness, admiration, joy, friendship, kindness and happiness.
When pink and red roses are combined, the union stands for passion and romance.
As the woman added up her total and took delivery details, Tara found herself reading the last line over and over. The sales assistant's voice burst into Tara's thoughts, making her jump slightly. "How will you be paying for that?" she asked sweetly, her tone telling Tara that this was going to be a pretty hefty bill. "That's $120 including delivery." she said.
"Wow, erm, well can you add a single white rose in the middle of the others please? And I'll be paying by mastercard." Tara told her, knowing that Willow would love the surprise.
With the transaction complete, and flowers winging their way across town, Tara slumped back in the chair, pleased with her mornings work.
Blaze put the down the phone, a huge grin spreading over her face as she turned towards Vince. "You get everything?" he asked her, his own grin forming before he'd heard the answer. Blaze nodded, her pink hair falling into her eyes as she did so.
"Holy shit yeah!!" he exclaimed, dancing in happy little circles around the compact kitchen. "Willow's gonna shit when she sees Analise!" he squealed, picking Blaze up and swinging her around.
Willow was going through her mail and wondering how it was as the head of such a huge and successful company, she still had to deal with all the junk mail. Putting the important things to one side, she skimmed briefly through a full colour catalogue for a hardware company. Hammers, nails, work benches, drills, screws and more types of electrical wire than she thought anyone would ever need adorned the pages. "Why do I need this?" she asked as Greg opened the door to her office and invited himself in.
She tossed the catalogue in his direction and he grinned at the open page. "Well, wire helps the electric get from the mains to the computer terminal and then people can use all of your fabulous products!" he began, his grin dancing in his eyes as he turned the page. "And hammers... well they help the engineers to install all the wiring safely. Without them, wires would either be hanging around or all over the floors where someone could trip and sue you. Either that, or the guys would have to bang pins in with their hand or their heads. Either way, you'd be getting sued!" he explained slowly, the giggle in his voice relaxing Willow and forcing her to smile with him.
Rolling her eyes at him, she sat forward. "I know why the company needs them, but me personally? So not. Why not send this stuff to purchasing or maintenance?" she asked.
Before Greg could answer, there was a loud knock at the door. "Ms. Rosenberg?" Amanda appeared around the sleek mahogany door.
"What is it Amanda?" Willow asked.
"There's a delivery for you at the front desk." she told her, a huge grin indicating it was something a little more exciting than hammers and nails.
As Willow followed Amanda back out into the lobby, her mouth fell open. Adorning the desk was a huge vase, red and pink roses highlighted by the perfect amount of gypsophilia (baby's breath, the rest of us.)
"Oh my god, they're beautiful!" she breathed, "Who are they from?" Greg and Amanda just looked at each other and rolled their eyes. Plucking the card from the bouquet, Willow's shaking fingers slipped the card from its envelope. Aside from a single 'T', the card was blank. Willow's eyes swam in tears, the lack of any message had displayed exactly why Tara had sent her flowers.
Turning back to Amanda, Willow whispered, "If you could just put them in my office please, I need to step out for a moment."
Back at home, Tara was clearing away her lunch things, the gentle tones of Jeff Buckley's 'Hallelujah' filling the house.
Suddenly, the phone burst into life, startling her and causing her to drop the glass she had been about to load into the dishwasher. Looking back from the phone to the shattered glass, Tara opted for possible chat over chores and lifted the handset. "Hello?"
"Hey Tara." the voice on the end of the phone had a smooth drawl that Tara placed instantly as that of where she had grown up, the Alabama accent was unforgettable.
"Cousin Heather?" Tara asked, slightly surprised to hear from her. Heather was the only blood relative Tara had invited to the wedding, everyone else either wouldn't show up, tell her father who would arrive and cause trouble, or bring the trouble on their own.
'Bit late for the whole father catastrophe.' Tara thought.
"Tara, I need to tell you. Beth went through my things, she found the invite to your wedding, I think she may tell your father!" Poor Heather sounded distraught, her voice shaking with tears.
"I only just found out now, or I would have called you sooner." she finished apologetically.
"Hey Heather, calm down." Tara tried frantically to calm her frenzied cousin, "She did tell him, he came down with Donny." On the other end of the line, Tara heard a sharp intake of breath followed rapidly by a half choked sob. "Don't worry, we dealt with him, he's out of my life forever!" Tara couldn't help but grin, standing up to her father had been one of the best things she had ever done - terrifying in its own way - but fabulous all the same.
"Really?" Heather couldn't help but sound amazed. She had been Tara's only support after her mother had died and had been the one to tend to Tara's cuts, bruises and occasional broken bones that she'd received at the hands of a man who was meant to be her protector and love her unconditionally.
"Really!" Tara echoed before she began relaying the entire story to her cousin who whooped with joy.
Sitting in her large board room, Willow suddenly realised why they were called 'board rooms'. She was bored. Since receiving the stunning flowers at lunchtime, all she had wanted to do was call Tara and thank her. 'Ok, maybe not call her, maybe go home and thank her personally.' Willow thought, a sly smile spreading over her face. Suddenly, an idea struck her. The perfect way to thank Tara for everything, not just the flowers, but for being the cool, calm and collected one throughout the planning of the wedding. In her mind she pictured rose petals, soft music, candle light and a present. Scribbling ideas eagerly on the yellow legal pad in front of her, Willow relaxed enough to return her attention to round, balding man who was droning on and on about some fabulous chip he had designed.
Blaze pulled up outside the 'Lion's Den' club. The owner owed her a few favours and she was about to cash them all in. Walking through the awful wood beaded curtain, she grinned at a woman who was sat being a tiny counter. "Hey Jay." She said with a flash of her best smile, "Is Bobby about?" The woman known only as 'Jay' nodded towards the back of the club, "He's around the back somewhere." she replied and allowed Blaze to pass through a turnstile into the main body of the club.
Small, circular tables were scattered around the room, all centred haphazardly around a long, stretched out concourse with a metal pole at its end. To her right, a huge bar stretched the length of the wall, tall stools flipped upside down on its surface.
Bobby spotted Blaze almost as soon as she'd walked in. "Hey sexy, what can I do you for?" he called as he walked towards her. "Y'know, the girls don't make half as much since you stopped coming here!" Bobby was a good natured man, if not slightly on the side of lecherous, Blaze liked him for his upfront manner and no bullshit attitude.
"I'm cashing in my chips!" she said, "Lets talk!" and with that, she grabbed his arm and led him towards his office in the back of the club.
Tara had finally reassured Heather that her father's arrival was in no way her fault and had hung up the phone. With Willow not expected home for at least three hours, Tara decided to make a start on a new painting. After changing into her oversized dungarees and an old t-shirt, she climbed the stairs into the loft.
A medium sized canvas was rested against the far wall and she opted for that, placing it on the large easel before reaching into the paint chest for her favourite oils and a palette.
Miss Kitty appeared at the top of the stairs and watched Tara with fascination, probably just thankful that her 'normal' behaviour had returned. Picking up her brushes, Tara dipped one in the paint and began. She had no idea what she was going to paint and so closed her eyes as she made the first few strokes.
Within an hour, a beautiful sunset had appeared, its reflection sparkling in a lake. Miss Kitty had taken her place on the chair behind Tara and to her left where she was curled up sleeping, a tiny snore emerging from her occasionally.
As the painting was coming to its inevitable conclusion, Miss Kitty awoke, stretching her long body before jumping down to be by Tara's side. Tara herself stretched, placing the palette, still loaded with paint onto the chest beside her. "Gotta pee!" she said into the silent room, "You be good!" she warned the cat as she descended down to the bathroom.
Miss Kitty had a good look around, as if to check she was alone before jumping up onto the paint chest. Her gaze fixed on the palette and the multitude of colours it held. Sniffing each one in turn, she glanced up for the arrival of her blonde headed owner. Seeing that Tara was nowhere in sight, she settled down to a meal of deep sienna paint.