Tara stood outside the stall trying to comfort the latest arrival to the farm. The chestnut horse had been abandoned after the owners found out that she was ready to foal. The horse was dehydrated and severely under weight, but with a little tlc and a thorough check over from the vet Tara knew that the mom to be would be fine.
The blonde looked up and saw Doug carrying in some more fresh straw for the stall and could see the exhaustion written all over his face.
It had been a long day. After Mr. Davenport left with Herbie the call came in concerning the chestnut and just like that Tara and Doug were on the road. They had driven almost two hours before finding the horse but it had been worth the drive.
They had no trouble loading the horse and the trip back had been a quiet ride. Both, Tara and Doug knew that it would take about another hour and a half to get the horse settled in after they got back to the barn. They resigned themselves to the fact that it would be a long night. And now here they were finishing up.
Doug looked at his watch.
"Well Mac... it's only 1:30 in the morning... what do ya say we go ahead and muck out the stalls?"
Tara tried to laugh at Doug's attempt at humor but she was just too tired.
"Doug... why don't you head out. I just need to lock up everything upstairs then I'm outta here."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah... get going... I'll see ya tomorrow... how bout around noonish..."
Doug nodded his head. It would feel good to sleep in.
"You got it Mac... be careful..."
"You too Dougie..."
Tara watched Doug leave then turned her attention back to the expecting horse.
"Well... you are a beauty... what are we gonna call you?"
Tara stepped into the stall and ran her hands down the side of the horse. She could easily feel her ribs and the little one inside moving about.
"Won't be long..."
The horse stepped closer to the blonde and laid its head over Tara's shoulder. It was such an act of trust from the horse and Tara felt as if she was getting a big horsie hug.
"I know baby... but don't you worry... you're gonna be all right... both of you... I promise."
Willow stood in the kitchen making a cup of hot chocolate. The air felt really crisp to the red head and some hot chocolatey goodness sounded like the perfect fix for her chills.
Willow thoughts drifted to Tara who was still in the barn. She couldn't help but wonder if Tara might like some hot chocolate as well.
<Well... she is working... and it's late... I shouldn't bother her... but... it would be a nice thing to do... and it is cold out... she has had a long day...>
Willow continued to talk herself into going out to the barn.
<Maybe I should just step out there and ask her... especially before she leaves...>
Willow grabbed a jacket and stepped out in to the cold night air. She walked toward the barn, with Dusty following close beside her. She noticed that the windows on Tara's truck were covered in a heavy frost and wondered if that meant snow was on the way.
She felt a little excitement at actually seeing a lot of snow. <Maybe it will stay for a while...>
Tara heard the barn door open and turned to see Willow walking in.
"Hi... you're up late..."
Willow smiled as she eyed the blonde teasingly.
"Hi yourself... and you should talk..."
Willow stood with her back against the door. Even with Tara close by, she still felt nervous around the horses. She put her hands in her jacket pockets and watched as Tara stepped out of the stall.
"Well... we had an extra special gal we had to go get... didn't we..."
Tara scratched the chestnut horse on the nose and drifted in to baby talk. Willow just smiled as she took in the scene. She wanted to fill her life with moments just like this. Tara was so graceful... so beautiful... and...
"You look tired."
Tara looked over and nodded her head.
"I'm very tired... I think I could ball up in a pile of hay and go sound to sleep."
Willow ventured a little further into the barn.
"Well... how bout a nice cup of hot chocolate and a warm bed instead?"
Tara's eyes went wide at the invitation and Willow thought of how cheesy she must have sounded.
"I meant... you're welcome to stay here tonight... it's late... it's cold... I'll sleep on the couch..."
<Oh you've done it now you smooth talker you...>
"Actually... that sounds nice... as long as you throw in a hot shower and maybe an extra set of pj's to sleep in."
"One hot shower coming up and I'm sure I've got something for you to sleep in..."
<My arms for example...>
Tara nodded and felt a wave of relief wash over her. She had contemplated sleeping in the business office but Willow's offer was just to good to pass up.
<I'm spending the night with Willow... maybe we can cuddle...>
"Okay then... I'll just go fix up some hot chocolate and get you some clothes..."
Blue met green and Willow stood frozen in place.
Willow swallowed hard. Here... meant over there... where the horses were. Tara could see fear in her eyes.
"It's okay... I promise."
Willow slowly made her way over to the stall where Tara was standing. The chestnut horse walked up to the gate and got a good sniff of the red head. The horse just stood there staring at fearful green eyes.
"You can pet her if you want... she's very gentle natured... and she is expecting..."
Willow looked at the blonde.
"She's expecting me to pet her?"
Tara let out a small giggle.
"No... she's expecting a baby... she's pregnant. Though it's hard to tell since she's so malnourished."
Willow wanted to pet the horse. She wanted to show Tara that she could overcome her fear but her arms wouldn't move. Finally, Tara reached out for Willow.
"Here give me your hand... put it on top of mine..."
Willow placed her hand on top of the blondes and gave a weak smile. Tara reached out and scratched the horses' nose. Willow could feel the soft fur and thought it tickled.
"See... that's not so bad is it?"
The red head smiled as Tara's hand slipped out from beneath hers. <I'm petting a horse... a real horse... and it's not biting me...>
It was a small step but it felt like a major hurdle to the red head.
"Not bad at all..."
Tara smiled as she watched the horse and Willow interact. She felt another piece of her heart get lost to the red head.
"So... I think you were saying something about chocolate... hot showers and warm beds?"
Willow nodded her head and motioned for the door.
The two girls entered the house and instantly felt the warmth of the room envelope them. The fireplace was crackling and the lights were low. And as beautiful and romantic as the moment could have been, Tara felt the exhaustion of the day taking over her body.
She fell down on the couch and closed her eyes. She just needed to rest them for a second. She heard Willow in the kitchen and thought it felt wonderful and strange to not be alone this late at night.
Willow poured the hot chocolate and gathered up the two cups and made her way back into the living room.
"Here ya go... one hot chocolate for the lady..."
Willow sat the cup down and couldn't help but smile at the sight that greeted her. Tara had kicked off her shoes and curled up on the couch under Willow's jacket and was fast asleep.
The red head went upstairs and brought down two extra blankets and pillows. She tucked the blonde in and sat on the floor in front of the couch. The crackling of the fire filled the room as Willow softly ran her fingers through Tara's hair. She caressed her face and committed to memory every dip and curve of the blonde's features.
She leaned forward and planted a soft kiss on Tara's forehead. Everything about the moment was perfect. Willow pulled her shoes off and lay down in front of the fire. She opted to sleep on the floor because that would keep her closer to the blonde and Tara would be the last thing she saw before drifting off to sleep.
Willow pulled her blanket up close around her and watched Tara sleep as long as she could. After she closed her eyes, visions of the blonde danced in her head and Willow happily drifted off to sleep. She couldn't wait to wake up again...