At the moment that I heard those words, my first instinct had been to respond, to tell her that I loved her too. Was I crazy to feel that way after only knowing her for two days? Maybe I was crazy; but it felt so right. Being with Willow was so natural. Luckily, I had been saved by Harris, who Anne had sent looking for us. We had become so engrossed in our time together that we had neglected to notice what time it was.
Harris, Willow and I made our way to the dining hall downstairs for our first meal together. The full servants staff had arrived and were ready for large dinners. Willow and I said almost nothing to Harris on the way down the stairs; both lost in our own thoughts and stealing furtive glances at each other as we followed Harris. I longed to hold Willow's hand as we walked. I wanted to assure her and soothe her worried brow. She was clearly anxious, perhaps about what she had said before Harris had found us.
Our silence didn't stop Harris from rambling on about how much she missed her husband Alexander, who was training in Boston to become a soldier. How wonderful he was, how much he loved her, how many orgasms he gave her. My cheeks were impossibly pink with embarrassment - I'd certainly never heard anyone, much less a woman, talk so frankly of her carnal relations with her husband. I was afraid to look at Willow, terrified that she would know that I was thinking about orgasms with her.
Willow finally spoke up "Harris! I really don't want to hear about what you do in your bedroom with Alex. We've gone over this before. For gosh sakes, he's like a brother to me!"
"Oh calm down Willow. You're just in a tizzy because you aren't having orgasms. But I'm sure Tara will fix that soon enough." With that proclamation, she flounced down the remaining stairs, leaving Willow and I slacked jawed and flushed with embarrassment. I stared straight ahead as I silently descended the stairs. I didn't hear Willow behind me, so I turned to look back for her.
She was standing at the top of the last set of stairs, her hand over her mouth. I couldn't tell if she was laughing or crying, but she was definitely shaking. I rushed back up to her and took her hands in mine. When I uncovered her mouth, there was a large grin across her face.
"I'm sorry Tara, I know Harris is wholly inappropriate and rude, but she just makes me laugh. She just says the oddest things; thoughts that are only supposed to be thoughts."
I smiled back at her, relieved that she was making light of what Harris had said. "I know Willow, I kind of like her too." Willow laughed at my response. "However, I do think I shall have that talk with her very soon."
"Yes, I think that's a sound idea Tara. Maybe after dinner?"
"That soon?" I squeaked.
"Don't worry darling, I'll be with you." Willow squeezed my hand.
"You will?" I sighed.
"Always, Tara. Whenever you need me." Willow smiled at me with such love in her eyes that I almost cried.
"We'll have tea with her after dinner. Is that alright?" Willow asked.
"That's fine" I nodded. I smiled back at her and caressed her hand with mine, our fingers gently entwining.
"Then after dinner, I had plans to take a cart into town for some supplies. There's an apothecary open late. I like to go when there isn't that many people there. Less to explain, you know? Which is odd, because I love explaining things... I guess I just don't like lying about why I'm there. I'm an awful liar. My nose always gets red - oh! I just gave the secret of my lying away! Not that I'd ever lie to you Tara! I just like having some things that nobody knows, you know?"
As Willow drew breath I leaned forward and delicately kissed the tip of her nose. "I get it Willow."
She sighed happily and continued down the stairs towards dinner. "I knew that you would Tara."
I smiled and followed her into the dinner hall, my body tense with anticipation of our visit with Harris after dinner.
Dinner had been fairly uneventful, with the exception of Willow's hand on my thigh while we ate. I had nearly jumped out of my skin when I had felt her tentatively place her hand above my knee. She had begun to remove her hand, when I quickly reached under the table and pulled it back to it's place, squeezing reassuringly as I did so. I turned and smiled at Willow as if to say 'It's alright to do that'. She smiled in relief and more firmly laid her hand on me, rubbing lightly. Throughout dinner, I felt the searing heat of her hand through all the layers of my dress and petticoats. It was fully and deliciously distracting.
We now sat together in Harris' bedroom. Willow and I sat in two small sitting chairs, a table between us holding some tea. Across from us Harris lounged, or rather sprawled, on her bed. Willow and I clearly did not know how to start this conversation.
Harris was rolling her eyes at us and fiddling with a bracelet she wore. "Good lord, you two are so perfect for each other. You're both as boring as watching paint dry. Can we talk about you having sex now?"
"Harris! Focus for a moment." I barked at her.
"Oh, forceful Tara. I like it! She'll be a tiger in bed Willow." Harris was now sitting up with interest and smiling in Willow's direction. Willow just stared at Harris, her anger shooting darts in her direction.
"Harris, we asked to have tea with you to talk to you about, well, us" I said.
"Clearly, Tara. You two are going to be lovers, what more is there to talk about?"
"You can't tell anyone Harris!" Willow hissed as loud as she dared.
"What's in it for me Willow? I protect your dirty little secret. I censor myself around Anne-"
"Around anyone" I cut in.
"Fine, I keep quite about this to anyone. What do I get?"
"I don't understand Harris, are you bribing us?" I exclaimed.
"Let me explain Tara," Willow cut in, "Harris doesn't consider it a bribe. She considers it an exchange of services. Like bartering. She does this all the time. I had to give her my favorite pair of boots to keep her quiet about an expensive vase I broke last year in Anne's office".
I let out a frustrated breath and glared at a nodding Harris. "Lovely. So we have to barter with you. What do you want?"
"I'd love to watch the two of you get hot and sweaty together, I've never seen that in the flesh. But you've both made it clear that's not possible. Any chance of changing your mind on that?"
"No!" Both Willow and I exclaimed at the same time.
"What else Harris?" I asked patiently.
"Hmmm, let me think about this a little while," she sat contemplating our 'barter' for a few minutes before trying again.
"Would you concede a kissing and groping session of at least five minutes?"
I slumped in my chair in defeat and looked over to Willow who was staring at the ceiling.
"Harris. Dearly demented Harris, the answer is still no. Besides, you got a free show in the alcove. That's not very fair to us is it?" Willow reasoned.
"You have a point Willow. That was an unequal exchange." Harris pursed her lips in thought.
I shook my head in disbelief at the oddness of our current situation. Harris continued to contemplate what she most wanted from us. Willow began to tap her boots on the ground in frustration. I simply stared at Harris, practically able to see the gears in her head turn.
Harris paused and leaned forward gleefully, lightly rubbing her hands together.
"Since I can't have hot and sexy naked loving between the two of you - you're both sure on that right?" As we both started to protest, Harris continued again "Alright, alright! I get it, no lesbian frolicking for me."
Harris moved from her bed to stand in front of Willow. She smiled slightly, almost in a friendly manner. Willow seemed immediately uneasy.
"I want a kiss from Willow. That's my payment to keep quiet."
"Wait a second! There is no way no how nuh uh I am not going to kiss you!" Sputtered Willow.
"Why do you want to kiss Willow?" I practically yelled.
"Alex got to kiss her where they were children. Anne told me they practiced kissing once many years ago," Willow was turning beat red by now, shaking her head in denial "and you have practically excavated her mouth Tara. I'm the only one that hasn't kissed Willow! It makes perfect sense. We'll all have kissed Willow, we'll be even, and I will keep your dirty little lesbian secret."
Harris seemed altogether too proud of her conclusion. And even though Willow was clearly mortified by the idea, it seemed an easy way out of the situation. I didn't want Willow kissing Harris, but at the same time I knew it would be innocent, at least on Willow's end.
"No, no, no! I am not kissing you Harris!"
"Fine," Harris pouted "then I get to kiss Tara twice."
"No way missy! There is no way you are kissing Tara!" Then Willow angrily jumped up and grabbed Harris by the arm, pulling her quickly forward and kissing her rather roughly. And just like that, it was over. I stood gawking. Harris seemed equally flummoxed. Willow remained angrily standing, glaring at Harris as if she kicked her puppy.
"Are you satisfied Harris?" Willow continued to stare at her.
"Well, I was hoping for tongue, but I guess that will do."