"Can I open my eyes yet? Because when I was little, I never liked the dark, and I had a night light. I mean, not that I'm scared of the dark now, it's just you're beautiful and I like to be able to see and can I open my eyes yet?"
Tara giggled softly, both at her girlfriend's impatience and ability to babble endlessly. That word: girlfriend. Tara's heart grew warm at the thought. She loves me, Tara internalized, amazed to believe that the woman she was walking with actually reciprocated her own feelings. "No, Willow. It's just a little farther, I promise."
"Alright, but if we lose our way, or fall, or get attacked by vampires or something, all because I couldn't open my eyes, then I get to say I told you so," She heard Willow grumble softly.
Tara let a half-smile grace her lips at Willow's ramblings and once again went over her mental checklist. After reassuring herself for at least the fiftieth time that day that everything was prepared, she let herself relax the tiniest bit. The full moon shone brightly in the star dotted sky as she guided Willow through the forest. She was determined that date go well, as their first two had been as close to disasters as they could possibly get without one of them dying. Tara shook her head softly as she thought about their first date.
Willow and Tara had decided to go roller skating. Dinner had gone well, and they were hoping the date would just get better. It had been Tara's idea to go, deciding that it would be fun and different. Things had started out exactly as she had hoped. The women weren't too uncoordinated and they managed to circle the rink several times while holding each other's hand. The sounds of children's laughter filled the air as a birthday party was going on in the sitting area. Willow smiled at Tara, both feeling a bit silly that they were probably the oldest couple on the floor, surrounded by five year olds and groups of teenagers. But they didn't care.
Willow couldn't take her eyes off Tara. The blonde looked so beautiful, her eyes full of laughter, and her pink flushed cheeks, the half-smile that could render Willow speechless. As they began to round another section of the rink, Tara skated the turn but Willow missed it, having been so caught up in gazing at Tara. Before she could stop, she had skated into the low wall that separated the roller area from the sitting area. Unable to stop her forward momentum, she tipped over the wall and slid a few more feet, crashing into a table full of six year olds. The children screamed as Willow crashed into the party and jumped up out of their seats to see what had happened. Finally coming to a stop, she opened her eyes and looked up. There, on the edge of the table, a cake teetered dangerously. Willow only had time to put her hands in front of her face before the dessert toppled onto her, giving Willow a face full of cake and icing. Wiping the mess from her eyes, she once again looked up to see the group of children laughing brightly and Tara looking worried, but at the same time trying to hold in a laugh that threatened to erupt from her lips.
While Willow hadn't been seriously injured, she had left the rink feeling sore, embarrassed, and very sticky. Tara had been hoping that the night would end differently, but after the incident, Willow was eager to get home, shower, and sleep off the after effects of her utter embarrassment. So, with a large amount of understanding on Tara's part, the two women had parted ways after a loving good night kiss, during which Tara had giggled softly after tasting icing. The second date hadn't been any better, and if anything, was inarguably worse. Tara let her thoughts drift to their second try.
After last week's disaster, the two women had decided to avoid skating rinks and stick to the traditional date places. Following a very predictable romantic comedy, they had set off for dinner at a nice Italian restaurant ordering almost as soon as they sat down. They had settled on some light conversation with frequent admissions of love dotting their talk. Their food arrived and they both began to eat. Willow took a huge bite of her lasagna and giggled with a mouth full of food at the look Tara gave her. Tara also started eating, savoring the flavor of her pasta with cream sauce. She could detect a hint of an interesting flavor in the sauce, but she dismissed it as herbs of some sort, until several minutes later when Willow asked Tara if something was wrong.
"What do you mean, Will?"
"Well, it's just, your face looks a bit," she paused for a moment, trying to think of the correct word, "swollen."
Tara looked surprised for a moment and then tentatively moved her hands to her face. Upon feeling the swelling, she went to the bathroom to look in the mirror and gasped at what she saw. Her now swollen face had turned slightly red and her fingers were becoming puffy as well. She ran out of the bathroom and quickly called over their waiter. In as calm a voice as she could muster, Tara asked her waiter what was in the cream sauce. Seeing the flustered woman, the waiter had slowly listed some of the ingredients in the sauce. As he said shrimp, Tara had grimaced and told Willow that she was allergic. Very quickly, Willow ran out of the restaurant and brought the car to the entrance. Minutes later they were at the hospital and Tara was rushed to a room to get a shot of epinephrine.
Once again, the date had ended with a loving good night kiss, and a promise from Tara to get some rest. Now, on the eve of their third date, Tara could only hope that nothing ruinous happened again. Tara breathed a sigh of relief that nothing catastrophic had happened so far as she and Willow arrived at their destination. Slowly, she guided Willow to a space she had cleared earlier that afternoon. She told Willow to sit and keep her eyes closed and then quickly went about making sure everything was set-up. Taking one more deep breath and whispering a silent prayer that Willow like what she had planned, Tara asked her girlfriend to open her eyes.
Willow had been understandably nervous when she had arrived for their third date. Her anxiety had only increased when Tara had requested that she close her eyes so that she could guide her through a dark forest late at night. Of course, one look into Tara's eyes had given her all the reassurance she needed. Without another thought, she had dutifully closed her eyes and allowed herself to be led through the darkness. Now, sitting on the ground, listening to the sounds of Tara preparing something, she felt her butterflies return. Their first two dates had been disastrous, and they had yet to make love, although both women were very eager to express their passion. Circumstances had gotten in the way, and Willow was determined that this date end better, hopefully with waking up in Tara's arms. She sighed softly and strained to hear any sounds that would give away what Tara was preparing.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity of waiting, Tara had asked Willow to open her eyes, and she gasped at what she saw. She was sitting in a cleared area of the forest. Mere yards away a bubbling stream cut into the ground, creating a soothing sound over the clearing. The moon cast a glow over the clearance, washing the area in a beautiful blue radiance. Directly in front of her lay a blanket spread over the ground; atop it sat two glasses filled with what looked like champagne and a small plate of chocolate covered strawberries. Glancing to the side, she noticed a large tent, the flap open and inviting.
Willow slowly turned her head, her eyes finally settling upon Tara. The moonlight shone on her as well, making it seem as though Tara was an angel, or as close to one as Willow had ever seen. She stood up and walked over to Tara, gathered her into her arms, and soundly kissed her on the mouth. After a few blissful moments, the two parted and Willow leaned her forehead against Tara's. "Thank you, so much. I love you, Tara," Willow whispered.
"I love you, Willow. I just wanted everything to be-" She was interrupted by Willow's lips once again pressed against her own. They kissed slowly and softly, but full of passion. "Perfect," Tara finished, very aware of the double meaning.
Not needing any more words to express their feelings, Willow sat down and Tara sat next to her, both as close as they could be without being in each other's laps. They fed each other strawberries and whispered words of devotion of affection, frequently stopping to kiss or hold the other close. The strawberries finally finished, Willow lifted herself from the blanket and held a hand out for Tara. Her soon-to-be lover took the proffered hand and pulled herself off the blanket as well. They quietly made their way to the tent.
Willow stepped inside the tent first, once again releasing a breath at the lengths Tara had gone to. An inflatable mattress was laid on the floor of the tent and covered with blankets and a thick comforter. Looking up for a moment, she noticed a clear covering in the top of the tent that allowed the inhabitants of the shelter to gaze at the sky. She released Tara's hand and gently sat on the mattress. She pulled back the comforter and gazed at Tara, waiting for her to make the next move. Tara turned around for a moment to zip the tent flap shut and then turned back. Her breath caught in her throat as she let her eyes settle on Willow. For the first time, she let herself realize what was about to happen. She was going to make love with the woman she was hopelessly in love with.
Tara walked the few feet to the mattress and knelt on the edge of it. Willow took the initiative and leaned forward, capturing Tara's lips in a soft kiss. The intensity grew as their passion was uncovered. Tongues dueled and hands roamed. Their lips and tongues caressed each other, their fingers caressing even softer skin. Clothes were divested and they lied down side by side on the mattress, covered by the thick blanket. And into the night, Willow and Tara made love for the first time under the stars.