Tara allowed Willow to lead her by the hand into the kitchen. Dawn already had the food on the table for them and Willow sat down at the head of the table with Tara and Dawn on each side.
"I figure that by next month we'll have enough money to start the plantation back up." Willow began diplomatically.
"It'll be a lot of work for us by ourselves." Dawn answered around a mouthful of vegetables.
"Well we'll see about hiring some help. I don't know if we could pay them very much but I figure that with the war on, there's got to be someone around here that needs work. They'd probably work for whatever wages we could give them."
"I-I can help." Tara chimed in. " I know that I-I wouldn't make much of a difference b-but I'll do whatever I can to h-help."
"Of course you'd make a difference. That's not even a question." Willow said as she slid a hand over Tara's.
"Yes and if all three of us can't do it together then it will be like Will said, we'll just find someone to help." Dawn said with a smile. "I wish Alexander were here. He'd help us."
"Alexander has his own farm to take care of. And a fiance as well. I wouldn't dream of imposing on him for help when he gets home." Willow argued. Dawn lowered her head and put her spoon in her bowl. Willow knew what she was thinking.
"He's coming back Dawnie, I promise." Willow said softly, her own head lowered as she pretended to study her food. Tara remained silent but the sympathy in her eyes was apparent as she regarded both young women silently. Willow picked up her spoon again and began to eat, but the conversation stopped throughout the rest of supper. After supper, Tara and Dawn did the dishes while Willow went in search of something for Tara. By the time the girls were done with the dishes, Willow had found what she was looking for. She held the folder out to Tara.
"It was my mother's. She could play the piano but she never got to teach me. I want you to have it."
Tara opened the folder to reveal several sheets of piano music.
"This is wonderful Will. Thank you." Tara overcame her usual shyness and Willow a sweet kiss on the lips. Willow smiled goofily after Tara pulled away and headed for the piano in the sitting room. Dawn put Willow's mandolin in her hands and pushed her after Tara before taking up her fiddle and beginning to tune it. Willow shook her head out of the clouds and began to tune her instrument as well. Tara opened the cover of the dusty piano and found it slightly out of tune, but it would have to do until she could sit down and properly tune it herself. She opened the sheet music on the stand and began to look it over. Willow cleared her throat and began a slow song on her mandolin. Dawn joined in on her fiddle.
"This one is for you Tara." Willow said with a wink before beginning to sing.
'In the twilight glow I see you,
Dawn played a solo on her fiddle as Willow continued to play and stare at Tara. When Dawn's solo was over, Willow resumed singing the last verse.
Someday when we meet up yonder,
Willow finished the song and sat in silence, her eyes never leaving Tara's.
"That was beautiful." Was all Tara could say as she felt tears come to her eyes.Thunder started to rumble outside and Dawn and Tara looked at the windows, but Willow's eyes remained fully focused on Tara. Tara could feel Willow's intense stare and looked back at the redhead, whose hair seemed even more fiery in the light of the evening fire. Tara shyly looked to the floor, suddenly finding a wooden plank on the floor more interesting than anything. Willow smiled slightly to herself and called Dawn away from the window.
"Well what song should we do next Dawnie?" Willow asked the teen. Dawn thought for a moment before standing and going to Tara at the piano. She began shuffling through the sheet music on the stand until she found the on she was looking for.
"Can you play it?" She asked Tara.
"Of course. This is a very pretty song Dawnie. Good choice."
"Thanks."Dawn blushed. It was obvious she was quite taken with Tara. She told Willow the song, then began the lead with her fiddle. They all joined in and the rest of the evening was filled with song after song.
When Willow finally looked at the clock on the mantle, she was surprised to see it read ten-thirty.
"Well look how late it is. We'd better get in bed. I've got to be at the quarry tomorrow. Come on Dawn, off to bed with you."
Dawn let out a perfunctory groan and stood to put her fiddle away. Willow put her mandolin in the corner and turned to Tara.
"There's fresh water from the well in the kitchen. It's in the bucket by the door. You should go wash up before Dawn gets her hands on it. She's a water hog." Willow said with a chuckle.
"I heard that!" Dawn huffed from her position by the fire.
"Thank you for your advice.I'll go wash right away." Tara tried to stifle her laughter at Dawn's look of indignation. She kissed the brunette on the cheek as she passed.
"Goodnight Dawnie. Don't worry, I'll save you some water."
"Goodnight Tara."Dawn said, giving her a good-natured shove as she walked by. Tara laughed and disappeared into the kitchen.
"Goodnight Dawn." Willow said as she walked by Dawn on her way to the kitchen.
"Goodnight Will. Sleep well, if you do any sleeping at all." Dawn snickered.
Willow's gasp and expression as she turned back to face Dawn was priceless.
"Enough young lady, march." Willow said as she pointed in mock anger to the stairs. Dawn saluted her and ran giggling to the stairs. Her laughter faded as she left Willow's earshot. Willow just sighed and turned back toward the kitchen. She met Tara coming out of the kitchen with a water pitcher to her room filled.
"Save me some?" Willow smiled charmingly.
"Of c-course." Tara smiled back.
Dawn watched from the top of the stairs as her sister and the new member of their family interacted. She had no idea that Tara had seen her still sitting there. She watched as Tara leaned into Willow as if to kiss her.
"I think we're being watched." Tara whispered to Willow. The words almost didn't register as the only thing Willow was focused on was Tara's proximity and how warm her breath was across her cheek. It wasn't until Tara gestured with her eyes to the top of the stairs that the words made any sense. Willow rolled her eyes and without turning, called out to her sister.
"Dawn, go to bed."
"Nobody lets me see anything good around here." Dawn grumbled with a sigh as she stalked off to her room. Willow and Tara heard the door slam and both burst into laughter. They stood there in a fit of giggles until they regained enough composure to finally speak.
"We should get to b-bed." Tara stated, wiping a tear from her eye.
"Yes, I guess we should," Willow answered before leaning in to whisper in Tara's ear, "but the question is; whose bed should we go to?"
Tara flushed deeply and diverted her gaze away from Willow's stare as a wave of arousal swept through her body. Willow saw her slight shiver and smiled inwardly. She held her hand out and Tara took it, allowing herself to be lead up the stairs. Willow paused a moment at the top, as if deciding which room to go to. Moments went by before she finally pulled Tara to her room once again.
"My room is further from Dawn's." She reasoned to Tara as she shut the door behind them. Minutes ago, Willow had been the bold one, but now she stood awkwardly in front of the closed door, suddenly finding a loose thread on the front of her shirt very interesting. Tara stood in the middle of the room trying to decide if she was ready for this. She loved Willow yes, but there was a small fear of rejection still tucked away in the back of her mind. She feared Willow would still turn away. Willow sensed Tara's unease and her self-comfort became the least important thing to her at the moment. She crossed the room to Tara and took the water jug from her hands.
"Come on, get washed up and then we can change and go to sleep." She said quietly. Tara nodded and Willow poured water into the basin in the corner. She handed Tara a towel and Tara washed her face and neck. When she was done she poured the water out the window and poured more for Willow to wash with while she went to her room to fetch a clean nightshift. When Tara came back, Willow was already washed and changed and standing at the window, looking out at the rain which had begun shortly after their music night had ended. Tara began to unbutton her dress and untie it but the tie became knotted and try as she might, she couldn't get the knot out.
"Willow, could you untie this please? It's knotted and I can't get it undone." Tara quietly requested. Willow turned and nodded.
"Turn around." She gently instructed the blonde. Her fingers carefully indid the tie and as if on their own, began to unbutton the last buttons near Tara's waist. She caressed Tara's pale skin with her dark rough hands as she unbuttoned the last button on Tara's dress. She pulled open the dress in the back and began to kiss Tara's neck, smelling the sweet rose oil that Tara had put on in her room. Tara's breathing increased steadily with every kiss that Willow planted on her skin. Willow ran her hands up Tara's back to her shoulders, pushing the dress off the shoulders and down the soft arms of the blonde.
Tara wriggled slightly out of the top half of her dress and Willow kissed her way down Tara's back to the indention of her lower back before pulling the dress down and off of Tara's hips. It fell to the floor with a soft swish and Willow rounded to Tara's front, helping her step out of the dress and leading her towards the bed. Tara leaned into Willow and kissed her softly, drawing the kiss out until the back of Willow's legs hit the side of the bed. Tara ran her hands up under Willow's shirt and stopped in surprise when she felt several thick ridges spanning the width of Willow's back. Her look of shock made Willow grimace.
"I knew this would come up eventually." Willow said as she turned her back to Tara and lifted her shirt over her own head. Tara gasped when she saw several large dark scars crisscrossing Willow's back. Whip scars, by the looks of them and with a heavy hand.
"The reason I had my father send my aunt away. When my father was gone for long periods of time, my aunt had a gentleman friend that would visit and stay with us. My aunt would put me and Dawn to work and he would watch over us like we were slaves. He had a braided leather whip that was tipped in steel, and if he didn't like the way we were working or we weren't going fast enough, he would beat us. I always took Dawn's whipping for her, so she doesn't have many scars. The ones that she has were from when I was gone or working in some other part of the plantation." Willow finished. Tara traced the scars gently with her fingertips.
"Will, I'm so sorry. You are such a brave, strong woman to do that for Dawn."
"She's my sister. I couldn't watch her beaten for something like that."
"You love her very much." Tara said in simple understanding.
"No, that's where you're wrong. I adore her with my whole heart. But I love you." Willow said softly as she turned to face Tara. She could see every one of Tara's beautiful curves in the flashes of lightning. She ran her hands around Tara's waist and pulled her close.
"I love you too Will." Tara sighed as she nuzzled her face into Willow's shoulder. Willow felt the softness of Tara's skin on hers and took a deep shuttering breath. Tara raised her head and Willow kissed her passionately, not breaking the kiss as she turned them and gently laid Tara back on the bed, half kneeling and half laying on her. Tara's hair fanned out across the pillow and in the light from the storm, glowed around her face like a halo. Tara could feel Willow's hands still in place on her hips and the soft cotton of Willow's pants against the inside of her thighs. She gasped as Willow trailed her kisses down her neck and to her collarbone while at the same time, brought a hand up to run lightly over left breast. Tara looped her arms under Willow's and curled them up to grasp at Willow's back and shoulders. Willow shifted and pushed her knee up further into Tara's core, stirring a feeling in Tara's being that she had never felt before. She pressed her face into the curve of Willow's neck and inhaled deeply. Willow felt the cool air drag across her skin and into Tara's nose, then a warm change as Tara exhaled and the balmy air sailed over her collarbone. The redhead's right hand tenderly strayed down Tara's velvety skin to the blonde's stomach, were Willow lightly caressed the area aroung her navel before venturing further southward. Her dexterous fingers played over the dark blonde curls and she felt the rising warmth of her lover's most private area. Gently she slipped a finger into the wetness there and Tara cried out.
"Ugh, Will..." A look of pain momentarily passed over Tara's face. Willow stilled and looked down at the object of her affection. She hadn't realized Tara had never done this before.
"I'm sorry. I didn't realize...do you want me to stop?" Willow said softly.
"No, just...be gentle." Tara whispered as she shifted a bit under Willow. Willow nodded and slowly pulled her finger almost out, then just as cautiously pushed it back in. Little by little, Tara acclimated herself to the feeling of Willow inside of her until it began to feel good. She clung tighter to Willow and Willow, mistaking the embrace as one of pain, stopped again.
"Am I hurting you?"
"No it feels...nice." Tara looked at Willow and the lightning flashed as a serene smile gradually spread over her face. Willow simply smiled back and hugged Tara closer, kissing the curve of the blonde's neck. The feather light touch caressed Tara's skin in a way that made her whole body shudder. Willow slowly and carefully inserted another finger and Tara gave a tiny whimper.
"Just tell me if you want me to stop," Willow said but she didn't remove her fingers, instead she kept cautiously pushing them in and out. She felt Tara nod against her shoulder and waited a few more moments before curling her fingers up and finding the soft ridge within her love. At the same time, she moved her thumb up to above where her fingers were thrusting, invoking a new feeling in Tara's stomach. Tara shivered and moaned quietly. She felt something welling up in the pit of her belly.
"Willow, don't stop." Tara whispered, afraid that any more sound might destroy the beauty of the moment. Suddenly a rushing wave of warmth washed through her insides, heading straight towards her lower regions. She felt something trickle out of her and onto Willow's hand. It was the most wonderful thing she had ever felt, next to the feel of Willow's skin and lips on hers. She sighed as she felt Willow shiver as well, then press her warm face into the bend in the blonde's neck. Willow was breathing heavily, Tara noticed and wondered what Willow had felt. Her red hair splayed across the gentle blonde's neck and chest and she interlaced the fingers of her left hand with Tara's as she slowly removed her fingers from Tara's body. She wiped the fingers on the sheet and tenderly ran her hand up and down Tara's side.
"I love you Tara." Came a soft whisper into Tara's ear.
"I love you too Will." Tara whispered back.
Willow rolled onto her back and pulled Tara with her, so the blonde's head rested on her shoulder, and they both drifted off into a contented sleep.