Still 12 days to go....
Willow grabbed her car keys and headed out. She had called the florists and asked them to put some things to one side for her for collection a little later that afternoon.
Driving into town, Willow mentally went through her shopping list. As she parked in the malls parking lot, she grabbed her bag and whistled cheerfully. The mall was bustling with people, kids out shopping with their parents, gangs of teenagers who were skipping school and the usual melee of older folk.
'Candle Heaven' loomed large in front of Willow and she stepped inside, enjoying the various fragrances it had to offer. Picking up two baskets, she loaded them with white, yellow, pink and red candles and asked the sales assistant if she could leave those with her while she continued shopping. Although slightly confused as to why one person would want so many identical candles, the assistant agreed and Willow browsed the scented candles for something suitable. Finding a huge vanilla church candle, she tucked that under her arm and reached for some sky blue ones to accompany it.
Placing the vanilla candle on the floor, she tried her best to arrange the blue ones around the outside, each one a little shorter than the one before so they swirled around the larger centre pillar. Finally happy with her decision, Willow returned to the counter and added her new finds to the overflowing basket.
After bypassing pleasantries with the assistant and paying, Willow carried her unbelievably heavy bags out into the mall and headed down towards Furniture Village.
As she entered she found herself breathing a sign of relief that they supplied carts for their customers. Laying the bags carefully into the cart, she headed out in search of a small dinner table, something for two people and an intimate meal.
After browsing for nearly a full hour, Willow found what she was looking for and struggled to get it onto the cart, a curious child watching her intently.
Wobbling precariously, Willow made her way to the checkout. "You can take the cart up to your car, just make sure you return it to the bay in the lot." the helpful cashier told her. After thanking her profusely, Willow mentally slapped herself. She still had one purchase left and it's the one she should have done in the very beginning. "Screw it." she mumbled as she pressed the elevator button.
After loading the car up, Willow returned to the hustle and bustle of the mall. At the furthest end was a jewellers. Pushing open the door, she headed straight for the counter.
A tall, suited man smiled politely. "How may I help you this afternoon?" he asked her. "I need something as perfect and special as my fiancée." she told him.
The man smiled and offered her a seat at the end of the counter. "I don't think that will be easy." he grinned, obviously used to helping customers choose the perfect gift.
"Something old, new, borrowed and blue." Vince said as he walked alongside Tara, browsing the store windows. He had finally managed to convince her to do some shopping with him and now, he was bored. Shopping was one of the few things he hated doing, even with Tara. "Tell you what," he said, "I'll lend you one of my blue movies and a pair of boxers and you're done." he said, bumping Tara's arm.
"Eugh Vince, that's disgusting!!" Tara said, wrinkling her nose, "I don't want your crusty boxers!"
Vince laughed, he had managed to put the plight of Miss Kitty to the back of Tara's mind, at least for a while and she was obviously enjoying herself. "C'mon, let's look in here." she said, pulling him into yet another store.
With her purchase wrapped and paid for, Willow ran back to her car. More time had passed than she had expected and now she was cutting it close to get everything done before Tara returned home.
As she drove home, she made one brief stop at the florists before pulling up to the front of her house and unloading the over packed car.
With the car unpacked, Willow set up the small table she had purchased in the loft. Spreading a deep red table cloth over the small table, she set two places, before sprinkling a handful of yellow and pink rose petals over the table and setting a single pink rose on top and warm vanilla candles on either side.
Heading back downstairs, she cleared the table in the kitchen, arranging the large vanilla church candle in the centre and the blue ones around the outside. Setting two more places, she smiled as she sprinkled white rose petals over the table and a few around the chairs.
After a quick shower, Willow set about fixing dinner. Italian garlic bread with a salsa dip for starters, chicken salad and corn on the cob as a main course and a plethora of delicious treats for dessert. To Willow's mind, it seemed a little odd as a combination, no pasta or baby potatoes to give it some substance, but she knew that Tara adored the menu she was preparing and therefore, so would she.
Glancing over at the clock, she found she had more time than expected before Vince said he would bring Tara back. With dinner all but ready, Willow went into the bedroom, clearing and dusting the chest of drawers at the foot of the bed and laying a simple white cloth over it, on which she set a large bowl of strawberries, a dish of chocolate sauce that was still a little too firm, grapes, kiwi and various other fruits.
On returning to the kitchen, Willow checked that everything was going to plan. "What did I forget?" she asked herself, her mind ticking over each element of her plan. "That's it, nothing important... just the best bit! Stupid Willow!" she chastised herself as she returned to the bags she brought home with her, from one she pulled the long box she had purchased in the jewellers and rushed back up to the loft, placing the box in the place setting she had set out for Tara. Willow crossed to her office at the far end of the loft and found a sample card from a wedding invitation, roses and hearts around its edge. It was perfect.
Finding an italic pen, she carefully wrote the words 'something new' on the card. On a second card, she wrote; "Remember the Wizard of Oz? Follow the yellow brick road.... kinda."
Returning to the small table, she set the first card on top of the box and headed back downstairs to place the second card on the front door.
Sure that everything was almost ready, Willow used the white rose petals to form a pathway from the door to the kitchen table, using the white candles as a border to her path.
From the second door of the kitchen, she spread a path of yellow petals under the loft and up the right hand side of the stairs to the table, placing a yellow candle along its border and one on each step.
From there, she took the pink petals and candles back down the stairs and through the living room to the bedroom door.
As Willow finished spreading red rose petals through the bedroom, she stood back and admired her handiwork.
With a grin on her face, Willow returned to the kitchen. Dinner was all but done, the salad ready, garlic bread just needed heating and chicken cooling. She crossed to the phone and called Vince's cell phone. "Hello?" he said on the second ring. "Where are you?" Willow asked him.
"Erm, about 15 minutes." he said, not knowing the surprise but guessing there was one. "Excellent. Can you start coming back, just don't rush." Willow said, her voice filling rapidly with excitement. "Yeah, that's cool. See ya then. I love you." Willow giggled as she hung up the phone; obviously Vince had worked it out and was helping her, pretending to Tara that it was Blaze with whom he was speaking. Willow rushed to the bedroom, careful not to disturb the petals as she went.
Dressing in a simple, short black dress with a lower neckline than she usually went for, Willow carefully returned to the start of her trail, lighting the candles along the pathways as she went. Once every candle in the place was lit, she turned to the stereo and found a selection of romantic music which she set on a low volume. As she flicked off the overhead light the house was bathed in a warm glow. Smiling she returned to the kitchen and opened a bottle of wine, before serving the starter. Almost as soon as she had everything perfectly set, she heard Tara's car outside.
Sitting at her place at the table, Willow faced the door, her long, slender legs crossed and a sexy smile on her face.
Tara walked up the path and noticed a card on the front door. Plucking it from the wood, she read out loud; "Remember the Wizard of Oz? Follow the yellow brick road.... kinda." Frowning slightly, Tara wondered what on earth Willow was up to and pushed open the door. The sight before her took her breath away. The house was swimming in the gentle flicker of candle light, soft music playing and path of white petals leading her towards the kitchen. "Oh Willow!" she breathed heavily, her heart fluttered in her chest as tears filled her eyes.
Following the path to the kitchen, Tara found herself speechless. Willow was sat, her perfect legs crossed and her long hair bundled atop her head. At the table, rose petals and a single white rose. Her place was set with what looked like Italian garlic bread and salsa.
As she entered, Willow stood and pulled out her chair. "M'lady." she said as Tara took her seat. "Oh Willow, what did you do?" Tara asked, her voice barely a whisper. Willow just smiled and placed a delicate kiss on her lovers lips before pouring her a glass of wine.
Willow took her seat once again and raised her glass, "cheers." she whispered as the glasses clinked together. "This is amazing!" Tara said after a few bites of her bread, "This is all too much."
"Not for you." Willow replied, her emerald eyes sparkling in the candlelight. "Nothing will ever be too much for you."
As they enjoyed their starter, they talked about the wedding, not the near disaster with the cake, but the day itself. How much they loved each other and how they wanted to spend the rest of their lives.
With the starter done and Tara still slightly surprised, Willow rose to her feet. "If you'd like to follow the yellow petal road, you will arrive at the main course... or the main course will arrive with you shortly." she said with a giggle. Obligingly, Tara followed the perfect trail of yellow petals, pausing only to steal a lingering kiss from Willow as she passed. "I love you, Willow Rosenberg!" she said with a grin, fresh tears filing her eyes once more. "I love you more." Willow responded as Tara reached the doorway. "It's just not possible." Tara shot back as she made her way round the corner and up the stairs.
Willow fixed the salad as quickly as she could, although she wanted to give Tara time to settle upstairs, she wanted to be there to see her open the box.
At the top of the loft stairs, Tara stood in amazement, candles were spotted around the room, their flames dancing softly and bathing the room in a comforting glow. She crossed to a small table that Willow had set up and sat down at the place setting with a box in place of a plate. Willow followed up behind with two plates balanced on one arm and a small tray with fresh corn on the cob, dripping in butter, in the other hand. Placing the corn down quickly, Willow set down her plate and looked at Tara. "You gonna open it?" she asked, gesturing towards the box.
With shaking hands, Tara lifted the box and card to allow Willow to set down the plate. "Something new?" she asked as she read the card. Willow grinned and nodded, "I wanted you to have something as stunning as you to go with your dress." she purred, a hint of nervousness in her voice.
"I already do." Tara replied, "You!"
Blushing deeply, Willow grinned as Tara opened the box, her eyes bulging as she took in the sight before her. "Oh Willow, it's stunning." she said, pulling a simple diamond necklace from the box and holding up in the candlelight. "You like it?" the redhead asked. Tara moved over to kneel at Willow's feet. Taking her hands within her own, Tara gazed loving into her eyes. "I love it. I love this. I love you" she said, her voice choked with tears of happiness. Willow beamed down at her, freeing her hands and holding the face of her angel. As she traced the perfect features of the blonde, Willow pulled her up to her gently, meeting her warm soft lips with her own in a passionate kiss.
As Tara returned to her seat, she found herself too stunned to speak and so they ate in comfortable silence.
With their fill eaten, Willow cleared the table and retrieved another bottle of wine from the kitchen. Tara had moved over the large couch on the back wall of the loft and was laid along it when Willow returned. As she settled into Tara's arms, she could almost feel the love radiating from her fiancée. "Did you enjoy your dinner?" she asked, sipping her wine carefully.
"Willow, I really don't know what to say. This evening has been so perfect." Tara replied, resting her arms over Willow's shoulders and gently stroking her stomach. Willow smiled and leant her head back to rest on Tara's shoulder. "It's not quite over yet." Willow sighed, "There's still dessert, if you're ready."
"Maybe in a little while, I just want to hold you." Tara whispered into her ear, kissing the earlobe affectionately before resting back on the couch.
After about an hour, Tara announced she was ready for dessert. "Let me guess," she said with a giggle, "Follow the yellow brick road?" Willow giggled with her and nodded.
As they stood from the couch, their hands instinctively reached for the others, fingers entwining as they descended the stairs and followed the path of pink petals to the bedroom. In the doorway, Tara stopped, a grin spreading over her face as she took in the sight. Willow had definitely saved the best for last. The entire floor was covered in soft red petals, the bedcovers sprinkled with them and a table set out with all of Tara's favourite fruits next to a bowl of chocolate. On the cabinet next to the bed, she noticed Willow had set out some massage oils.
Willow entered the room first, flipping on the small stereo she held out her hand as the opening chords of Heatwave's 'Always and Forever' filled the room. "May I have this dance?" she asked. Tara crossed the petal coated floor and wrapped her arms around Willow's neck, gazing lovingly into her eyes as they danced slowly.
Each moment with you is just like a dream to me
That somehow came true
And I know tomorrow will still be the same
Cos' we've got a life of love that won't ever change
And every day love me your own special way
There'll always be sunshine when I look at you
And every day love me your own special way
As the song drew to a close, Tara pulled back, placing a lingering kiss on the lips of her redheaded goddess. "Always and forever?" she asked.
"Always and forever!" Willow confirmed. "Massage or dessert first?" Tara giggled as she slipped her top over her head "Massage, I think." she replied, flopping onto the bed.
Once free from their clothing, Willow lifted a bottle of oil and dripped a small puddle in the palm of her hand. Taking her time to explore every last inch of Tara's firm body, she delighted in the heat and firmness under her fingers as she massaged and caressed her way down from Tara's neck to the tips of her toes, drawing gentle moans as she worked her way down.
Wiping her hands on a small towel, Willow collapsed on the bed next to Tara. 'Who knew that a massage could be so tiring?' she thought as she tried to hide a yawn. Glancing at the clock, she understood why. It had been a little after 7 when they had entered the room and it was now almost 10. Snuggling close next to Tara, Willow allowed her yawn to come through. Her ears filled with the sound of Tara's heartbeat as she rested her head gently on her chest, the rhythmic rise and fall of Tara's breathing indicated that sleep was near, if not already here for her lover. "Tara?" she whispered, turning her head up.
"Mm, um?" Tara mumbled, her eyelids heavy with sleep.
"I can't wait to marry you." Willow said, her own eyes refusing to stay open.
"Me too." Tara replied, her eyes drooping closed.
Peacefully, they slept, safe in each other's love.