Willow, Vince, Blaze, Chris and Melissa were all dressed smartly for Tara's big show. They had spent the day trying to calm her down and help her pick an outfit for the evening. Willow had expected her to be nervous but Tara was a wreck, she had changed clothes four different times and, just as they were about to head out, she had decided to change again.
"I'll go and get her." Melissa said as the others sat back on the couches. Willow frowned, she had offered Tara help in deciding on clothes and Tara had almost pushed her away. Something was definitely going on, all day everyone had been grinning and winking at each other for no real reason. Willow had thought maybe they had planned a surprise which she had discovered when her favourite restaurant had called to confirm the booking for later that evening.
Melissa stuck her head around the door of the walk in closet, "You okay Tara?" she asked. Tara had change back into the first outfit she'd had on, a long black dress, that almost reached the ground, the back open and strappy. "Oh god, what if she says 'no'?" Tara said as Melissa approached her. Melissa just shook her head, "She won't." she stated simply, "And if she does, then hell, I'll marry you!" she finished with a grin. "You look stunning!"
Tara returned the grin, she'd never been so nervous in her entire life but the certainty that radiated from Melissa was contagious. "Best w-we go then." She said with a weak smile. Melissa hugged her suddenly surprising the blonde who hugged back.
As they stepped into the living area, Tara received wolf whistles and cheers from the others. "You look absolutely amazing baby!" Willow said breathlessly as she wrapped her arm around Tara's waist and kissed her softly. Tara smiled, interlacing her fingers with Willow's as they headed out of the door and towards the gallery.
The turn out was good, the gallery had provided free advertising and a lot of Willow and Tara's friends had turned out, bringing with them family and their own friends. The wine flowed freely and by the end of the show, Tara had sold 9 of the 20 pictures on display. Willow seemed more overjoyed than Tara, her eyes glistening with tears at every sale. As the last buyers and guests were trailing out into the night, Melissa wandered in through the open door and nodded at Tara. "Willow, we have a surprise for you." She told her, putting her hands up to cover her girlfriends eyes and guiding her towards the door. As they emerged into the warm evening Tara dropped her hands, before the group was a beautiful white stretch limousine, a chauffer in full uniform stood by the door, opening it as Willow took in the sight before her. "Oh baby!!" Willow gasped turning towards Tara, "You can't afford this, you shouldn't, I mean, it's lovely but you can't I don't....." her words left her for the second time in as many days. "Happy Birthday!" Tara said, kissing the stunned red head softly and pushing her towards the waiting car.
As they climbed in the back, Vince popped open a bottle of champagne, pouring a glass for everyone. "Happy birthday Will!" he said raising his glass. The others followed his lead, in unison cheering "Happy Birthday!!"
The journey to the restaurant took less time than they had thought. The chauffer gliding the long vehicle to a stop before opening the back door for the group. As they approached the doors, Melissa caught Tara's arm, "You ready, remembered everything?" she asked. Tara nodded, not wanting to speak in case Willow heard.
A young man opened the door for them, "Welcome to Jasmines!" he said with a smile as they filtered into the comfortable lobby, "Maclay party?" he asked, already knowing the answer. Tara nodded, "If you'd like to follow me to the V.I.P area. My name is Edward, I will be your waiter this evening. If there is anything at all that you need, you only need to ask." He lead the group into a private area, the colours warm and inviting and the whole area cut off from the other patrons, giving them complete privacy. He pulled out the chair for Willow, then Tara, Vince and Chris doing the same for their partners. "V.I.P area, Tara you are amazing! She whispered, kissing her tenderly on the lips. They ordered quickly from both the food and wine menus and the conversation covered everything from the success of the show, to Paris and Chris and Melissa's daughter. As their food arrived, it was met with many approving coos from the diners and they ate in relative silence.
After the dessert cart had been around and everyone had eaten their fill, all eyes turned to Tara, the anticipation clear in each pair. She inhaled deeply and rose to her feet. "I'd like to take a moment to wish my beautiful girlfriend a very happy birthday and to thank her for making the past two years the happiest of my life." Everyone applauded as Edward appeared with a large cart, this one filled with gifts and topped with a beautiful chocolate cake, candles flickering on its peak. Willow blushed deeply, tears filling her eyes as her friends sang a rendition of 'happy birthday'. "Make a wish!" Vince yelled as she leant in to blow out the candles.
Sitting back heavily in her seat, Tara began handing out the presents to her girlfriend, announcing the gifts giver as she did so. With the gifts unwrapped, Chris and Vince demanded a speech. Willow stood, clearly shaking and tears of happiness leaking from her sparkling emerald eyes.
"Erm, well, I, I'm stunned." She said, her voice shaking as much as her hands were. "I don't know what to say. Thank you guys all so much for coming down to spend this day with me and Tara. It means so very much to have you all here." Willow turned to Tara whose eyes were also glistening with tears, "Baby," she began, taking Tara's hands in her own. "I never thought I'd feel this way about anyone, you have made the past two years the most exciting, fun and love filled of my entire life." The tears escaped Tara's eyes and she smiled lovingly at the woman before her. "Thank you so much, this is more than I could ever have expected and much more than I deserve. I love you so very, very much!" As she swept Tara to her feet to kiss her lover, the others cheered and clapped causing both women to blush deeply.
As their celebration calmed a little, Tara excused herself to the bathroom and ducked out of the room, leaving the others to keep Willow talking. Behind her, a small stage had lit up, a band with a few member of the local high school orchestra sat neatly in matching uniforms. A tall woman whose voice Willow had admired while at a local jazz bar stepped onto the raised platform and tapped the microphone, getting the attention of the diners. Willow turned in her seat as the woman did so.
"I'd like to dedicate this song to Willow, on behalf of Tara. She wishes you a very happy birthday. This is from her."
Willow sat in a stunned silence, so surprised was she that she hadn't noticed Tara had failed to reappear for this moment. The woman began singing and instantly the tears fell from Willow's eyes, she had loved this song from the minute she'd first heard it and had mentioned it in passing almost two years ago, she couldn't believe that Tara had remembered.
With no shoes upon my feet
To share with you the last bite
Of bread I had to eat
I would swim out to save you
In your sea of broken dreams
When all your hopes are sinkin'
Let me show you what love means
Love can build a bridge
I would whisper love so loudly
Love can build a bridge
When we stand together
Love can build a bridge
Love and only love