Willow finished off her apple and tossed the core.
<I could definitely get used to this>
She took a glance over towards the barn and momentarily thought of checking it out.
<What's the worst that could happen... they break free and eat me alive...>
She felt herself swallow hard as she squared her shoulders and then took a deep breath. Slowly, she made her way across the drive and to the barn door. She could hear movement inside. She just knew they were planning something.
As quietly as she could she reached for the door.
Willow jumped and screamed as she felt something at her feet. She looked down and felt a wave of relief settle over her.
"Dusty... .you scared me..."
She let out a breath then reached down and scratched his yellow floppy ears as she continued talking to the dog.
"No more scaring okay?"
Dusty just wagged his tail and waited for the door to swing open. And swing open it did. Willow stood just outside the doorway and watched as Dusty fearlessly entered the barn. When she didn't hear him yelp for help, she assumed it was safe to enter.
Willow wrinkled her brow at what she saw. There were three horses stabled in the barn... at least what she thought were horses. They looked more like a rack of bones. The fact that they were all malnourished was unmistakable. And even though the red head was by far no expert in anything to do with horses, she knew that they weren't supposed to look like this.
She felt her heart go out to these horses. She walked closer to one of the stalls that held a small white and black spotted pony. Her fear gave way to the pull from her heartstrings. She wanted to help these sickly horses. She just didn't have any idea where to start.
The pony never moved. It just stood towards the back of the stall, watching with one blue eye and one brown eye, as the unfamiliar red haired human made sounds.
She wondered briefly how the animals had gotten into the shape they were in. Dusty looked well taken care of and she knew that her uncle would never have let an animal he owned get into this badly a condition.
Willow continued her observation of the horses. The other two were just as bad as the spotted pony and one even looked as if part of its ear was missing.
The tan horse with the bad ear snorted and Willow decided to back quietly out of the barn and give them all a little space. <No need in over staying my welcome.>
"Come on Dusty..."
The yellow mutt came bounding though the doors and Willow closed them as softly as she could trying not to scare them.
"Huh... me scare them... who would have thought."
The sound of a car coming up the drive sounded in Willow's ears and she made her way toward the porch. She glanced at her watch again. If it were the movers they were right on time, but it didn't sound like a moving truck.
She watched as a black Jeep Wrangler pulled over to the barn. She was hoping that maybe this would be one of the handler's coming to take care of the horses. The door swung open and Willow couldn't help but grin. All she could see was a cowboy hat and long legs.
She watched as the young man climbed out of the Jeep. He spotted Willow and started walking her way. She couldn't believe this guy could even fit in a Jeep. The closer he got, the taller he got. Not that Willow was short. She was very proud of her five feet and six inches of height. But this guy had to be at least 6'4 maybe even taller. <Where does he put his legs in there?>
The young man stopped at the foot of the steps leading up to the porch.
"Hi I'm Doug. I'm one of the handlers. You must be Jimmy's niece."
"Hi... and yes I am. I'm Willow... Willow Rosenberg.."
The young man pulled off his hat and reached out his hand.
"Nice to meet ya Willow."
"We've all been wondering when you would get here. Kinda like having special out-of-town company."
Willow smiled at the southern accent dancing in her ears.
"Well... this company will be staying for a very long time."
The young man continued smiling at the red head. She was cute. He began to wonder if he would be able to work his southern charm on her. He would definitely give it a try.
"Well... .I'm gonna head on over to the barn. Mac, the other handler should be getting here before to long... so don't be surprised when you hear another truck."
Willow just nodded and watched the young man walk away. He seemed sweet and she fleetingly thought about him being a good date potential for Buffy whenever she came to visit.
<He's cute... adorable accent... tall... yeah. Definitely Buffy material.>
Willow sat down in the porch swing and used her foot to rock back and forth. She heard the roar of an engine and smiled. <This has to be the movers>
The yellow moving truck came into view and Willow felt her insides flip flop. Now she would be able to hook up her computer and contact the main office. The company she worked for, Dream Big Graphics had been very supportive of her move to the east.
They had an office in New York and one in Atlanta and they were hoping that the spit fire red head would make big things happen for them. They had even paid her expenses to move which impressed Willow immensely. She was only 23 and younger than most of her co-workers. She knew that most of them felt it was a gamble to invest in such a young woman. But after three months Willow single handily doubled the clientele from L.A. and had several accounts interested in switching to DBG to handle all of their graphic development and support.
She loved her job and the money was great. Now she had a beautiful home and a wide-open future. Things were looking up.
The movers began unpacking the truck and thanks to Willow's neurotic organizational skills, all the boxes were color coded and labeled as to which room they went to. The unpacking was a breeze and in no time they were done, papers signed and pulling away.
As Willow watched the moving truck leave she noticed another vehicle over at the barn. <Must be Mac.>
She debated on going over to introduce herself, but decided to wait. She didn't want to upset her two handler's by getting in the way, especially on the first day of meeting them.
<Maybe he'll come over and introduce himself before he leaves. If not, I'll catch him tomorrow.>
Willow made her way into the house. She was tired and a little hungry. The apple only served as an appetizer. But all in all, she felt good and was looking forward to whatever the future had in store. She just wished that Buffy and the rest of the gang lived closer. But she didn't want to start thinking about what she left behind.
Willow stuck her head in the fridge and began rummaging for food. She really didn't know where any stores or restaurants were, so going out was not an option. Not to mention she didn't have a vehicle yet. But that was okay, DBG had already arranged for her to go to any lot in the area and pick up a vehicle at their expense.
A loud knock at the door caused Willow to jump and hit her head on the fridge.
She rubbed the sore spot and walked toward the front door and was pleasantly surprised at what she saw.
"Hi... I'm Mac."
Willow just stood staring. There seemed to be too much to process. Was it the long blonde hair, the deep blue eyes, the warm and friendly smile or maybe the soft voice that greeted her? Whatever is was left her speechless and that was rare.
The blonde stood waiting for some kind of hello to come out of the woman in front of her but she appeared to be mute.
"Ummm... the other care taker for the horses..."
Willow smiled and nodded her head before she realized she must look like a total idiot.
"I'm sorry... I wasn't expecting..."
Again, Willow could only nod.
"Most people don't. All the guys around here call me Mac... short for Maclay... my last name... but you can call me Tara if you want."
Willow had forgotten all about bumping her head just moments ago. It seemed to her that all thought had escaped her the moment she opened the door and found this gorgeous blonde standing there: smiling at her.
Somewhere in the back of her mind she heard a tiny voice screaming at her to say something.
"I'm sorry... I'm Willow... I hit my head and then you knocked..."
"Oh my! Are you all right?"
"Much better now... thanks."
Tara smiled and decided right away that she liked this Willow person. <Cute... very cute.>
Willow still felt as if the breath had been knocked out of her and would later scold herself for being such a stammering goofball.
"Well... I better get back to the barn..."
For some reason Tara felt oddly inclined to stay and get to know this woman better. But she didn't want to come across too pushy. She would have plenty of time to get to know her. She decided at that moment, when Willow gave her a full-blown smile that she would make time to get to know her.
"Yeah... okay... well... it was nice to meet you Tara."
<Tara such a beautiful name for a beautiful woman.>
"Same here Willow."
<Willow... suits her. She is so adorable.>
Tara turned and stepped off the porch. Willow closed the door but quickly moved to the window. She had a good view of the retreating blonde and she watched her walk to the barn and disappear behind the large wood door.
Ohio had certainly just became more interesting.