Return to Love Thy Neighbour Chapter Fourteen

Love Thy Neighbour

Author: Shai
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: All the characters belong to Joss, that lucky man!

Twenty four hours later Willow and Tara were at the farmhouse, walking to the dining room for dinner. The drive down to the farmhouse had been nice, with minimum traffic and clear roads. Willow had sat in the passenger seat upfront, with her bad foot placed on a soft pillow that Tara had put in the leg space. About half an hour into the drive Willow had dozed off, with The Corrs playing on the car's music system. Her last waking thought had been of how she's really begun to like the band...

Almost two hours later she was awoken by Tara, who gently shook her to tell her that they had reached their destination. The owner of the place, a Mr. Klein, had almost done a double take when he'd seen who the Willow Rosenberg was that Tara had brought along! After shaking Willow's hand about a dozen times he personally led Willow and Tara up to the second floor of the house, where he showed them to their rooms, which Willow noted with disappointment were opposite each other, and now even connected by a bathroom or something like that... And now here they were an hour later, standing outside the dining room area.

"Everything to your liking so far?" Tara asked, as she held the door open for Willow to walk... or rather hobble, through.

"Oh yeah... the place is great" Willow said, before looking up to see Mr. Klein standing up as the ladies entered the room. There was also another person in the room... a young man... "A not so unattractive young man" Tara thought.

"Good evening ladies" Mr. Klein said. "I hope everything suits you just fine?" he asked. Willow and Tara murmured polite affirmative responses, before Mr. Klein turned to the fourth person in the room. "Allow me to introduce to you my son, Matthew." Willow and Tara turned their attention to Matthew, and said the polite "How do you do's" and "nice to make your acquaintance's" that protocol called for, before Mr. Klein spoke up again. "Now that we're done with the introductions, what say we eat?" he smiled.

All four seated themselves as a butler walked in pushing a trolley that carried several silver vessels. They began to eat, silent for a while, simply observing each other, before Matthew spoke up. "How is it that you hurt your foot Willow?"

Willow squirmed as she felt all the eyes in the room turn and look at her. "Um... I kind of tripped over someone and fell" she replied, not wanting to share any more with someone whom she barely even knew. She looked up at Tara, hoping that she understood, and knew she did when she saw Tara smile at her.

"Oh what a shame" Matthew continued. "Is it healing fine?"

"Yup, I have the best care looking after me" Willow answered politely, knowing that only she and Tara would get what she meant!

For the rest of the meal Matthew continued to ask Willow question after question, and Tara noticed with growing irritation that he never once took his eyes off the redhead. Finally when dessert was being served he kept quiet long enough for his father and Tara to discuss the schedule of filming for the next two days. It was decided that the crew would film at the stables and the enclosures with the horse in the mornings and through the afternoons.

As dessert was being finished Matthew spoke up again. "Do you like horses Willow?"

"I've never really been near one" Willow responded, polite as ever.

"Hmm... then what do you say I take you on a tour of the estate tomorrow, and get you acquainted with some of pour prized stallions?" Matthew asked.

Willow didn't want to accept Matthew's invitation, she'd much rather watch Tara at work, but she didn't know how to refuse outright. She glanced at Tara for help, but the blonde was staring fixedly at the plate of chocolate cake placed in front of her. Sighing inwardly Willow replied "Ok"

"Alright then, it's a date. We'll leave at 9 a.m." Matthew said, rising.

Both Willow and Tara had the same thought as they too rose... "A date???"

The next morning Willow was standing in the living room of the farmhouse precisely at 9 a.m. she was one of those always on time people, and hated it when others were late. Fifteen minutes later Matthew walked down the stairs, and without even apologizing for or explaining his delay, led her outside to a waiting jeep. They spent the rest of the morning checking out the farmhouse and it's adjoining land. Willow was amazed at how huge the place was, and would have truly appreciated it's beauty had Matthew not droned on and on about how much money he was set to inherit, how he had finished at the top of his class at Harvard and what a brilliant job he'd gotten with a Boston law firm. At one point she felt like plucking all the apples off the trees in the orchard and burying Matthew under them. She limited her responses to monosyllables and nods of her head, hoping that Matthew would take the hint and stop trying to impress her, not to mention hit on her! Every five minutes Willow wondered where Tara was, and hoped to see her every time they turned a bend, but with no luck. At lunch time Matthew stopped the Jeep in one of the fields and they ate lunch from a picnic basket in the shade of a huge oak tree, making polite conversation.

Finally at about three in the afternoon Matthew led Willow into the stables. As soon as she got in Willow stood still, staring at a huge black creature a few feet from her, stomping it's feet. "It's so big" was all she could say, as she watched it toss it's head.

"Oh this is a new one. Father says that it's a wild one, and has to yet be tamed. In fact, I could do it right now. Would you like to watch?" Matthew asked.

Mutely Willow nodded her head and watched as Matthew told one of the men to lead the horse out to the smaller enclosure. Picking up a helmet he beckoned to Willow to follow him out to the back. Once there he told her to stand outside as he walked into the enclosure and tried to mount the horse.

For the next half hour Willow watched as Matthew first struggled to mount the horse, and later tried to get the black beauty to heed his commands. It would have actually been funny had Willow not been afraid Matthew, as big a pain as he was, would get hurt. Finally a physically and emotionally bruised Matthew gave up and came out of the enclosure. Taking his helmet off he told Willow that they would now be heading back to the house, and walked towards the Jeep.

They were driving past another enclosure when Willow saw a rider in it, galloping at full pace on a huge horse. Squinting her eyes Willow recognized the rider... Tara!

"Stop!!!" she yelled. Matthew braked hard and stopped the Jeep. Willow turned and told Matthew that she'd like to get off and watch Tara ride for a while, and then she would walk back to the farmhouse, which wasn't too far away. "Anyway" she added, "My foot could use the exercise!"

His ego still hurting after making a fool of himself trying to tame the horse, Matthew agreed to let her off without any questions.

Willow walked to the fence and leaned against it, watching Tara ride. "Now THAT is what I call riding" she thought, as she marvelled at the grace with which Tara rode. "It's like they have one mind... they're so in sync" she thought, as she followed the way Tara slowed, then trotted, then galloped,... oblivious to the pair of eyes that were following her every move. Willow realized how much she'd missed seeing Tara that day, since Tara had been gone before Willow awoke for her rendezvous with Matthew.

Finally sometime later Tara looked up and saw Willow standing there. She smiled, and slowly walked the horse up to the edge of the fence, near where Willow was standing. Willow instinctively moved back.

"Hey... what are you doing?" Tara asked, as she watched Willow move away.

"Noth- nothing... nothing at all..." Willow stuttered.

"Willow, just tell me will you?" Tara asked in a calm, soothing voice. Willow knew that she didn't have a choice, so she told Tara about the earlier taming attempt gone wrong, and ended with " I have a bad effect on horses, and I think I should stay away from them."

"Nonsense" Tara said, and with one graceful move she had jumped off the horse, puling it by the reins towards Willow. "Come here Willow" she said.

"No" Willow said, staying away.

"Please, trust me Willow... come here" Tara said, and extended her free hand towards Willow.

Without even thinking about it, Willow walked forth and placed her hand in Tara's.

"Good" Tara said, and she lifted both their hands towards the horse, and rubbed between it's eyes. "Willow, meet Prancer." Tara said, as she continued to move their hands together over the horses mane. "Now isn't this nice?" Tara asked?

"Yeah... it's nice... very nice..." Willow replied, staring at Tara's hand covering her own, and closing her eyes to savour the feeling...

Continue to Love Thy Neighbour Chapter Sixteen

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