After picking up her rental car at the train station, Willow made her way home in the quiet near-darkness of early evening. Her thoughts kept meandering during the drive, going to places that, in her humble opinion, no self-respecting woman should be going. She couldn't seem to help herself! There were even moments where she could feel a slow flush creeping up her cheeks. "Ok Rosenberg, get a grip here. You want to get to your apartment in one piece so... the paying attention part? That would be a good idea." Pursing her lips in renewed concentration, Willow gripped the steering wheel tightly and pressed down on the accelerator.
Fifteen minutes later, Willow stumbled wearily through the door of her rather spacious studio apartment in the center of the artists' village of New Hope. She fell in love with the place after a rather talkative realtor showed her around two days after she had landed in Philadelphia International airport. The ceilings were low beamed but Willow didn't really mind that so much. What she adored, however, was the quaint fenced courtyard that opened out to the Delaware River if she so chose. There were windows everywhere it seemed and the sunlight that filtered in gave the whole place a rather open and airy quality. The old fashioned cobblestones and the unique blue tiled fountain in the center of the yard were like a dream come true. The realtor was a little shocked when Willow told her that she would take it right then and there.
Willow dropped her briefcase and umbrella by the door and kicked off her shoes on her way to the living room. She threw her keys on it and pushed the blinking PLAY button on the answering machine beside the cordless telephone.
Beep! "Hey Wills! It's just me, Buffy. Just wondering how you're doing and if you're ready to come home yet. Don't make me come out there and cart you off!" Beep!
Beep! "'ello luv!" "Uh oh," Willow groaned inwardly at the strident British accent in the voice message. "Becca here. I've got a smashing idea for something to do Friday night. Got a friend who's in town and she's givin' a lecture at U of P on Women's Literature or some such like that. I knew the intellectual in you might have a bit o' fun with that. However, there is a nice fancy little to do afterwards at the Tin Angel. Just a few people, nice and cozy like. Figured it would be good fer ya... meet new people and all. Anyhoo, see you at work tomorrow. Give us a ring when you get in, eh? Cheers!" Beep!
Willow had to shake her head at Becca's message. Rebecca Sutor was her rather quirky lesbian co-worker who happily left England for a chance to "party it up" in the States. At first, Willow thought she was simply hilarious, speaking her mind in that rather infectious East End accent and dragging her off on some wild outing whenever the mood struck. However, she'd become more insistent on trying to hook Willow up with any good looking woman that crossed their paths. "I am so not in the mood to deal with this right now. I just don't have the energy," she sighed as she plopped herself down in a rather undignified position on the couch by a pair of sliding glass doors. Flipping idly through the mail, Willow's thoughts were less on paying attention to the bills in her hand but more on filling the clawfoot tub in the bathroom with hot water and bubble bath. She dropped the packet of mail onto the end table beside the couch and started stripping off her clothing, one piece at a time, on her way to the bath. She took great pleasure in just depositing each garment on the floor, on the lamp, anywhere that it was not normally supposed to be. "Oh for this to be someone else stripping me instead of having to do it myself," she sighed wistfully. She wondered idly if Tara liked to be the stripper or the strippee. "Ack! Don't go there... you don't even know the woman, for Pete's sake."
Willow turned on the water to full stream and went into the bedroom to select her current favorite CD from the rack on the wall. "Hmmm... I think this one will suit nicely," she murmured and removed the CD from its sleeve. She gathered up a few candles along with her music selection and made her way back to the nearly full tub. After lighting the candles and slipping the CD into the player on the counter, Willow slid into the mix of heat and bubbles with a contented sigh. The smooth voice of Diana Krall and rapid tinkling of piano keys soon filled the bathroom with mood music.
"Well, no truer words were ever spoken," Willow reflected. "I don't know anything and yet, Tara's in my head! Constantly! Over only a few hours time! I really need to do something about this."
Just when I think you're mine
Willow bit her lip thoughtfully and paid closer attention to that last line. "Ain't that the truth. Totally in a spin. I wonder if her number is listed? But there's got to be hundreds of Maclays in the Philadelphia area! Where do I begin?" She contemplated doing a web search and possibly asking the owner of the coffee shop about Tara while slowly rubbing a loofah over her tired skin. Satisfied with the course of action that she came up with, Willow rinsed herself and settled back to enjoy the relaxing odors of the lavender scented aromatherapy bubble bath.
You know I went to school and
A little while later, Willow had toweled off, wrapped herself in a big fluffy bathrobe that was one of many going away presents (actually necessities, according to her mother) and padded down the hall to ring back Becca. She knew that if she didn't get it out of the way, she'd catch hell for it at work in the morning.
"Good evening, Ms. Rosenberg! Glad to see you. Would you like your usual?"
"Hi Mario. Yes, please, my usual table. Is she playing tonight?"
"But of course," the maitre'd replied. "I made sure that your table was moved closer to the piano tonight."
"Thank you, Mario. You are far too good to me." Willow patted Mario's hand and made her way to her waiting table. Willowdreams were usually rather odd, even she would admit to that. However, ever since a certain woman came into her life, albeit accidentally, they had taken a different turn. It had been two weeks since it happened and, while Willow had made it a point to be at the café almost every afternoon for her daily Tara fix, she still had not managed to speak to her again, other than a passing "Hello." Her recent dreams made her look suave by comparison and in them, she always seemed to know what to say. The emcee began introducing the main attraction as soon as a waiter helped Willow into her seat.
"Ladies and gentlemen! It is my pleasure to introduce a Club 521 favourite, Ms. Tara Maclay!"
Willow sat completely mesmerized at her place of honour near the piano, as the singer strode out into the spotlight wearing a very sultry black and diamond studded gown that hugged her every curve; her blonde hair fell in silky waves over her shoulder and ample bosom. She carefully removed a microphone from the stand next to the piano, and stood not more than five feet away from Willow.
"Thank you, everyone. Thank you for the wonderful reception you always give me when I visit Philadelphia. It's good to be back in this part of the city especially. " Tara moved to the other side of the piano and sat next to her female accompanist. "I brought a special guest with me tonight... I'm sure you all have heard her a time or two. Please welcome my good friend, Diana Krall."
The audience responded to the introduction with hoots and loud clapping as the band struck up the first few chords of a song. Tara continued speaking.
"Tonight is actually a special night...I think this is going to be an 'All Request' night. I know of one particular fan who's been requesting a certain song every time she sees me." Willow's heart practically leapt out of her chest as Tara turned those crystal blue eyes on her. "I think we'll oblige her. What do you say, folks?" This last bit was again met with enthusiastic cheering and whistling. "This song is called 'Gentle Rain'."
Diana's fingers rippled across the keys and she started out the song herself.
We both are lost
Tara picked up the second part to the song, still holding the connection between her eyes and Willow's.
I feel your tears as they fall
Willow found herself blushing very deeply at the attention being paid to her. She found herself becoming increasingly turned on and took a long sip of wine from the glass in front of her to try to calm her shaking hands. Somewhere in the background of the din in the club, there was a persistent buzzing that she couldn't place. "What in the hell is that?!" she murmured, frowning slightly at the annoying intrusion. The room suddenly started to fade and shift. "Oh nooooo...not now!" Willow moaned into her pillow. She reached for the offending alarm clock and threw it into the wastebasket by the bed. Rolling onto her back, she tried to cling to the last vestiges of the dream, a slow smile creeping across her face. "At least I have something to make this day start out right."