The dark cabin just beyond a small expanse of forest, stood secluded under the clearing. It wasn't an extremely cold night but Willow pulled her coat tighter around her body, breathing evenly, her breath steamed in the thin air. She sighed happily, surveying the exterior before taking a closer look inside.
Within the cabin, everything was as she remembered. Right down to the slow, whining creak of the front door to the stick-figure sketches she carved into the wooden floor years ago. The peaceful wooden oasis had always been apart of her life since she could remember. And although the cabin didn't technically belong to her and her family, she owned the memories.
After five years of being away, it felt good to be 'home'. It was the only place she'd ever felt safe. Before her parents countless business trips, her own responsibilities, and the numerous and often mundane obstacles in life, there was always 'home'.
In the distance, a small rabbit ran across the clearing, shaking the redhead from her thoughts. Tara would be arriving soon. She smiled at the thought of sharing the special place with the blonde. The cabin owner, who was also her silent accomplice and family friend, was responsible for the placement of each clue, and Willow just hoped that everything was perfect for Tara.
After a final look around and making sure that there was running water and the other necessities needed, Willow began preparing for her lover's arrival.
Tara looked over her shoulder for the third time since Willow left. She wasn't expecting the redhead to come back, but she still couldn't shake the feeling that she was being watched. Realizing that she was disappearing deeper into the woods and had yet to glance at her map, the blonde came to a stop long enough to read and translate her first clue. The good news was that she was heading in the right direction, but had already passed the first X on the map.
The blonde turned to stare through the dark path she had just taken. "To walk with wings," she whispered into the night air. Subconsciously her mind went over every winged animal that could possibly be waiting for her less than thirty feet away. Taking a much needed breath to calm herself, Tara started back down the path.
Think happy thoughts. Think Willow thoughts, Tara told herself as her surroundings took on an eerie calm. She could handle crickets, birds, or even the sound of furry creatures communicating in the distance, but silence? Moving slowly along the path, the blonde came to a stop in front of a large tree.
Juggling her map, the flashlight and pocket-sized book, the blonde stared, stupidly, at the huge tree. Blue eyes skimmed over the map then focused back on the tree. She was standing in the right place but something was definitely missing.
A breeze blew through the trees, leaving small branches groaning and scrapping against each other. Tara cautiously looked over her shoulder before using her foot to spread out the dirt. Finding nothing, she hesitantly glanced around the tree on each side.
Knowing that it was borderline insane to be searching for unusual attachments on a tree, the blonde stepped back and once again read her clue. Biting her lip, Tara checked the tree a second time, stopping when her eyes turned upward.
What began as a frown raised into a smile before dropping into a look of disbelief, mainly at her own stupidity. Hanging from a low branch, a few inches above her normal eyesight, a row of beautifully colored butterfly pendants hung from a yellow thread.
The ornament, which looked handmade, swung gently within the wind as Tara smiled up at it. After unraveling the string, the blonde tied it to her belt loop. She wasn't exactly sure what the significance of the item was, or even if there was one, but she did know that she was one step closer to her lover.
Willow flung another burnt match into the old fireplace where it joined a half-dozen other worn matches. Huffing in frustration, the redhead grabbed another match, rearranged the firewood a second time and tried again.
After two more tries the wood finally caught fire, popping as the flame grew. Willow smiled in triumph, leaning back on her heels as she surveyed her work. Checking her watch, a chill of excitement ran through her body. Moving her attention to the large cooler she had brought with her, her thoughts drifted to chocolate-y places as she unpacked enough items for the night.
Tara smiled down at the small lavender-colored book in her hands. Hoping that her rusty translation was correct, the blonde ran her fingers over the cover and smiled once. Although it was a simple book, she was overjoyed with the idea of adding her and Willow's memories to the blank pages.
The wind picked up, creating a spiral of leafs that blew gently across the ground and removed Tara from her daydream. Cradling the scrapbook in her arm, the blonde grinned to herself as she started back on the path. A squirrel hurried up a nearby tree, its small feet scraping against the bark. All around her, Tara could hear the slight sounds of animals scurrying through bushes, searching for havens they could use to protect themselves from silent pursuers.
Humming lightly, Tara traced a finger over the map, her lips curving when she noticed that the next clue was straight ahead toward the end of the hand-drawn trail. She had a feeling that she was making good time and wordlessly congratulated herself. Quickening her pace, the blonde drew closer to her third and final clue.
Willow paused her gathering of small flowers as her senses reacted to a familiar earthy smell. Frowning and thinking that it couldn't possibly be what she thought it was, the redhead looked upward. What little clouds she could see had gathered over the trees, bunching as a dreaded rumble echoed across the sky. Her surroundings had quieted, signaling that whatever creatures were lurking beyond the wooden porch had taken refuge. It also told Willow that Tara was near.
No sooner than she saw the faint glow of light shining through the trees, had a single raindrop splashed on her eyelash. Quickly yet quietly, the redhead hurried up the steps to add the final preparations.
Tara felt a fat drop of water land on her arm and gazed up as her feet continued moving. When her eyes lowered, she froze and took in the sight before her. Along the path that she had been following, dozens of flowers aligned each side. Unaware, or perhaps uncaring, of the rain falling from above, the blonde picked up one of the blue wild flowers and twirled the stem between her fingers as she edged around the walkway and up the stairs.
Blue eyes sparkled once they landed on the cabin's interior. Untying the string from her jeans and placing it along with the book and other items onto a nearby chair, Tara glanced around the front room. The firewood crackled, illuminating the room and feeling it with warmth. Before she could further examine her surroundings, the sound of running water directed the blonde's attention toward the short hallway to her left.
Willow checked the water's temperature one last time before switching the hot water to off. As she looked up, her eyes found those of Tara's who was leaning against the doorframe clad in her damp clothing and smelling of fresh rain. With the flower still between her fingers, Tara bit her lip to stop the tears that threatened to spill over rapidly blinking eyes. Steam rose from the half full bathtub as red and yellow rose petals floated against fluffy bubbles. Pulling her eyes from the tub, she watched as her girlfriend silently rose to her feet, dropping her thick cotton robe in the process.
The blonde didn't need a dictionary to know what Willow's eyes were clearly saying.