Return to What's Your Tale, Nightingale? Chapter Twenty-Four

What's Your Tale, Nightingale?

Author: Alcy
Rating: PG-13, possibly R a bit later on.
Disclaimer: The characters of Willow and Tara, Buffy and Giles all belong to TPTB, I'm just playing for a while.

"Your walls are kind of depressing sweetie," Tara said, glancing around at the walls of Willow's bedroom, now completely devoid of any sort of embellishment save a wall calendar. Tara grinned slightly when she saw a huge red circle around the date upon which Willow's first day of classes commenced, "Speaking of classes..." Hang on... I was thinking about them... in my head, and Willow can't read my thoughts... pity... or is that a relief? There were definitely thoughts running though her head that brought about a fiery warmth to her cheeks, thoughts which she still could not share with Willow... not yet anyway. And I'm babbling to myself... a serious case of Willow-itis...

Willow stood at her desk where she had previously been rummaging though a stack of papers before she had turned to hear what Tara had to say. Tara however was now staring off into space, a small smile fixed on her face as though she had just had a delightful though cross her mind.

"What are you thinking about?" Willow asked quietly.

"Oh... oh..." Tara immediately looked guilty and her cheeks took on a hue almost identical to her red sweater.

Willow laughed and crossed the floor, holding a small booklet in her hands. She took a seat on the bed next to Tara, bouncing a few times, "Okay, what were you thinking about?" she asked a little more insistently, "This has got to be good!"

Tara grinned as Willow bounced the bed. When the redhead stopped she found herself staring at the creamy skin of Willow's throat. Her gaze travelled downwards until she reached the neck of Willow's blouse. A few top buttons were undone, affording Tara a glimpse of the lace at the top of Willow's chemise. If she just lent over and trailed her tongue down the path her eyes had just taken...

"Courses!" Tara blurted out, returning her gaze to Willow's face, "We're supposed to be choosing courses."

Willow waved the undergraduate handbook in her hands with another grin. Tara settled back into the pillows so that Willow could fit neatly into the crook of her arm as they perused the courses on offer at NYU.

Tara took the book from Willow's hands and flipped it open as the redhead nestled further into her embrace until it felt as though they were joined. Her stockinged foot moved in little circles up and down Willow's shin.

"One thing I know for sure is that my parents aren't going to miss anything when I move into a dorm next week," Willow said, although there wasn't a trace of bitterness in her voice.

"You never know, I think they will because you light up an entire house whenever you're in residence," Tara said sincerely, "Are you looking forward to it?"

Willow shrugged, "I guess, meeting new people is always nice..." her face suddenly fell, "What if I have a roommate? Do I have a roommate... I think I do... Tara what on earth are we going to do?" there was a note of panic in the redhead's voice.

"The same thing I guess every one else must do... sneak around," Tara said mischievously, surprising herself in saying it.

"That sounds fun," Willow was already plotting late night escapades. One of the first things on her list to check in her new dorm was accessibility to the window. It was with some reluctance that she turned her mind back to her courses, "Okay, a broad curriculum... I don't want to limit myself in freshman year..." Willow began, feeling a swelling of pride in her gut as she looked at the titles of the papers she could possibly take. So many to choose from... new things to learn... opportunities to reach out and grasp, "I'm going to university," she announced, tilting her head back so that she could see Tara from the corner of her eye.

"You are," Tara replied quietly, desperately hoping that there was no hint of envy in her voice.

Ever since Willow had told her the wonderful news, she had been determined to be nothing but overjoyed on behalf of her girlfriend. This was even despite the fact that Willow had the opportunity to live a dream that she had been dreaming ever since she was a small girl. Ever since her mother had tucked her in one night at bedtime and told small Tara she could be whatever she wanted when she grew up.

It would take a decade of saving money from her bookstore job to even afford a state school... it just wasn't going to happen. Tara wasn't jealous, she was honestly happy for Willow and was determined to stand by her every step of the way.

"Is there something wrong," Willow picked up on something in Tara's words, something she couldn't quite put her finger on... she furrowed her brow worriedly.

"Of course not!" Tara said brightly, she waved the booklet, "Courses! Now, how about Introduction to Psychology?"

Willow lost her train of thought and whatever she thought she had heard in Tara's voice was lost as the blonde started reading aloud from the course description in the catalogue.

A few hours later Willow had a fully planned course load laid out in front of her. There had been a lot of changes of mind but now she had courses she was interested in and looking forward to taking. And Home Economics or Family Planning was not among them thanks to Tara's insistence that it was Willow not Sheila Rosenberg who would be the one having to study the courses.

It was a very diverse list of papers. Willow had taken up Tara's suggestion of psychology, along with a healthy dose of chemistry and biology to continue an interest in the sciences she had picked up in high school. She was unperturbed by the fact that most of her classmates for those particular papers would be male.

Enjoying Willow's weight in her arms, it was a very reluctant Tara who glanced at her wristwatch and sighed. She stroked Willow's hair, running her fingers through the delightfully soft strands which smelt of rose and chamomile.

"Sweetie..." she began.

Willow knew what she was going to say before the words even left her lips. The redhead rolled over so that she could stare up at Tara with a determined look on her face.

"I've told you so many times..."

"I know, I know..." Tara placed one finger gently over Willow's lips, "Joe can drive me home... but I like taking the street car..."

"Yes well I don't like the thought of you on there alone, I worry about you!"

"You're cute when you're all indignant," Tara grinned, taking Willow's nose between her thumb and forefinger and wriggling it gently.

"Tara, don't patronize me," Willow replied, sitting back on her haunches, "If I can't take you home myself then I at least want to entrust someone I know with seeing you to your door."

"Well, you could always get your drivers permit," Tara suggested, trying her best to return Willow to her happy face, "Or maybe a motorbike..."

Tara grinned, her cheeks flaming of their own accord and Willow's eyebrows rose. The redhead was now curious if not amused trying to imagine what Tara was thinking. The way the red hue had now spread to cover almost her entire face made Willow think that it definitely was something worth prying into. She scooted upwards so that her face was level with Tara's, green eyes dancing playfully. Tara giggled as Willow's tongue darted out to flick her nose. Her fingers searched out Tara's tummy, determined to put to good use her knowledge that the blonde was incredibly ticklish.

"Willow!" Tara bit back a loud squeal.

"Are you going to tell me what you were thinking about?" Willow paused in her ministrations for a few moments to allow Tara to speak clearly.

"No..." Tara said, and then as Willow began to tickle her again, "No! no, no, no... Willow! Yes... okay, stop... I give up!"

Willow settled back with a satisfied smile on her face, "I'm good," she purred, rubbing Tara's tummy gently.

"I-I was just imagining you coming to pick me up on a motorbike... something black and shiny... wearing a leather jacket and jeans... and I-I'd climb up behind you, scooting forward until my thighs were pressed against yours," Tara let out a breath, running a sweaty palm down her own thigh, "And I'd put my arms around your waist as we rode off together... a-although in my head there was loud music and I was a lot... sexier than I really am."

It wasn't until Willow saw stars appear before her eyes that she realised she had been holding her breath as Tara painted her word picture. When she let it out it came rushing out as a strangled gasp and she started choking. Her eyes were watering when Tara sat up and reached out to stroke her back firmly.

"You have to watch out for that oxygen... it's dangerous stuff," Tara cautioned, Willow's choking fit having taken her mind off her own embarrassment.

Willow took a few great gulps of air as she stared at Tara. It was the same shy blonde who sat in front of her... and yet she seemed...

"Tara you are sexy," Willow whispered throatily, moving across the bed on her knees and drawing Tara to her with both arms around her back.

Willow buried her face in Tara's neck, tongue seeking to bathe all of the beautiful pale and soft skin she found there at once.

"I just thought I'd scare you if I admitted what I keep in my mind," Tara whispered, her eyes closing as Willow's tongue continued to explore her neck.

Willow nuzzled Tara's cheek with her own, her hands reaching up Tara's back, all the while her fingers stroking firmly, "On the contrary," Willow whispered, "I feel a lot of things right now... but scared is definitely not one of them. I feel hot... and... flushed..."

Willow's hands were now finding their way up to caress Tara's neck and up into hair, her fingers running through the long tresses that flowed down the blonde's back. With a gentle pressure she brought her lips down to bear on Tara's, a sigh escaping her lips as her sensitive skin found the soft, moist lips she was longing for. At first it was gentle, reassuring herself that Tara was there in her arms. Gradually, her mouth moved with an increased urgency as she sought to satisfy her hunger. However, with each movement of her lips, each stroke of her tongue, she found herself always wanting more...

Tara felt Willow's urgency first in the firm, massaging fingers on the back of her neck. As Willow claimed her lips in a gentle and luxuriously slow caress, she found herself wondering where on earth the restraint had suddenly come from. However, as Tara lost herself in the slow rhythm... she knew it stemmed from the knowledge that they would always be there for each other.

Still, Tara was not at all surprised when Willow's kisses became increasingly fierce, almost to the point of being rough. Her lips were crushed beneath the redhead's and her mouth had to open wider to accommodate her insistent tongue.

Time... time, time, Tara wondered why that word was jabbing annoyingly at the edge of her consciousness. It was a few more seconds before she had the clarity of mind to remember that she was supposed to be leaving.

"Willow!" she managed to gasp out when Willow's lips left hers for a split second.

"I... know... Tara... baby," Willow whispered, her lips barely leaving Tara's.

It was with a great effort that the two of them drew back from one another, and even then it was only far enough to allow them to rest their foreheads together. They stroked each others cheeks with trembling fingers.

"God... I-I n-need..." Willow's voice shook to match her fingers, "I n-need y-you."

"I wish I could stay," Tara finally managed to extricate herself from Willow's hands and slid from the bed to stand shakily.

"Stay," Willow's voice had a note of pleading in it.

Tara wanted with all her heart to give into her own impulses, "You know I can't," she said softly. There was a decided hint of a promise in her voice but even so Willow didn't want to let her go.

"Why not?" the redhead asked in a small voice.

"Because..." Tara managed a small, tight-lipped smile to cover her nervousness, I shouldn't be scared... it's Willow... she's my girlfriend... and I know she loves me... and god I love her... "Because sweetie... I-I'm n-not ready..."

Willow's reaction was almost comical. Her eyes bulged almost out on their stalks and she rediscovered her trademark goldfish impression with a passion.

"Y-you thought I was asking you to stay to... t-to..." Willow swallowed quickly, "to make love with you? Because I was just thinking more along the lines of more kisses... just kisses, nothing more I swear! Oh, not that I don't want more than kisses because... god I do! I want... well, there are lots of things I want... naked Tara would be nice," Willow's face froze in an expression of abject horror, "D-did... did I just say that out loud? Because it was supposed to be in my head and... oh my giddy aunt I did just say it out loud. Tara I'm sorry... but you know, my babbling..."

Despite her own embarrassment, Tara managed a light laugh, "You have nothing to be sorry about... I think the same thing myself... an awful lot lately actually."

"What? Yourself naked?"

"No, you naked you silly billy."

"Oh... oh!" Willow grinned.

"I really have to go now... b-but we can save this conversation for another time?" Tara asked shyly.

"Conversation saved," Willow nodded, "I guess you should go then..."

"Have fun," Tara said quietly as she crossed the room to the door.

Willow frowned, "Have fun when? You're not going to be here... how can I possibly have any fun? You mean have fun by myself?" Willow just kept on digging her hole and she was now at the point where she couldn't decide whether she wanted to bury herself in it or drag Tara down into it with her.

Tara giggled playfully for a few moments, the musical sound filling the room and Willow's ears. Her face then returned back to normal, serene and yet serious, "On Friday... at the m-movies with H-h... H-h..." Tara bit her lip, feeling like a complete idiot for not being able to say his name. It was just a name.

"Hugh," Willow finished without a trace of emotion in her voice. She left her perch the bed and crossed to Tara's side. In one fluid movement she drew Tara into her arms, holding the blonde close. Willow moved her lips next to Tara's ear and whispered, "You have the one and only key to my heart, always and forever Tara Maclay."

Tara closed her eyes, enjoying the exquisite sensation of Willow's warm, quiet breathing flowing over her ear. She shivered with pleasure when Willow's tongue flicked across her earlobe.

"I know. I trust you completely," Tara murmured before drawing back so she could cup Willow's chin and stare into her eyes, "I was just a little worried that you would be so caught up in how I felt about you going to a movie with him that you would completely forget to have fun."

Willow smiled at her beautiful girlfriend. She had the ability to put her fears at rest in mere seconds... just with a few words, a glance or a kiss.

"I'll try..." Willow began.

"You promise?" Tara lent forward so that their noses were pressed together lightly.

"I promise to have as much fun as humanly possible in the company of someone who isn't you," Willow giggled and nuzzled Tara's nose with her own.

"That'll do. I'll be able to sit at home Friday night knowing that you won't be sitting in the movie theatre pouting and miserable."

"I don't pout!" Willow pouted before she even realised it, making Tara laugh loudly. Willow quickly joined in and lent her head on Tara's shoulder as her shoulders shook, "Okay, okay, I don't pout on purpose!"

"It's adorable Will," Tara managed to gasp out when her own laughter had subsided into her trademark grin.

Willow raised her eyebrows, "Will? That's new."

Tara shrugged, "I'm lazy, I can't be bothered saying Willow," she giggled, "You don't like it?"

"No, I do... it's just... well, Buffy always calls me Will... called me Will..." Willow admitted softly.

"Oh, I didn't know! Your name is absolutely gorgeous Willow, I love Willow," Tara searched the redheads face for a response.

"I always liked Buffy calling me Will... and I love it even more when you say it."

Tara leaned forward and kissed Willow lightly on the nose and then on her lips, "I love you Will."

"I love you so much baby... you'll be over on Saturday to help me pack?" Willow asked anxiously.

"Wild horsies couldn't keep me away," Tara replied, giving her girlfriend's hand one last squeeze before opening the door, "You can tell me how your movie date went."

"It's not a date!" Willow insisted as Tara began walking down the stairs, the blonde just smiled over her shoulder.

Willow flashed one back before Tara turned and skipped the rest of the way down the stairs until she was out of sight. A few moments later Willow heard Tara wish Joe a good evening and then there was the sound of the heavy front door being opened and closed. She closed the door quietly and lent against it, a sappy smile fixed on her face. Placing her hand over her chest Willow breathed in deeply a few times. There was one thing that Tara never failed to do to her no matter what... and that was make her heart beat wildly to a tune that only the two of them shared.

On Friday, Willow was dressed and ready well before six. If Hugh Carrington turned out to be the sort of person she thought he was then he would show up early or right on the dot of six o'clock.

She made sure she had ample time just to stare in the mirror and make absolutely sure that she had chosen the right outfit for the occasion. A pale yellow short-sleeved dress with its hem sitting decently just below her knees. It's plain white collar afforded absolutely no glimpse of anything below her collarbones. It wasn't a dowdy dress by any stretch of the imagination although Willow had seriously considered wearing something that buttoned up under her chin with sleeves down to her wrists. She dismissed that idea as perfectly insensible. Just because this wasn't a date it didn't mean that she, Willow Rosenberg, had to look unstylish and positively matronly in public. Willow twirled in front of the mirror. The wide white belt accentuated her slim waist and the fashionably cut cardigan ensured that she would be quite warm enough for Hugh not to offer her his jacket. Her hair was tucked up in a simple roll, away from her face. She glanced down at her feet, they were clad in good, sensible white buckle-ups with no heel. Willow smiled, satisfied with the image that she had created. She went downstairs to await Hugh's arrival.

True to her prediction, Hugh arrived at one minute to six. Joe opened the door and greeted him politely. Willow nodded her thanks to Joe and walked outside. Hugh was attired much more casually than she had ever seen him before and she had to admit that the look suited him. A pair of casual tan slacks with a white t-shirt, a blue sweater was draped over his shoulders, the sleeves tied in front. He beamed when he saw her and even Willow recognised the admiration that was plainly obvious in his eyes. She ducked her head and regretted that she was so concerned with the way she appeared in public.

I should have worn the grandma dress, she thought as he commented on her yellow frock, his smile not disappearing as quickly as she would have liked.

He lead the way to his car, hurrying so that he could hold the door open for her. Willow's eyes roamed over the handsome red and white convertible, all shiny with chrome in all the right places. She slid on the leather bench seat up front. Well, I may not fall in love with him but I can definitely fall in love with his car!

"Nice ride," she said with genuine appreciation in her voice.

"You know something about cars?" Hugh asked as he slid into the drivers seat and started up the engine.

Willow shook her head firmly, "Nothing at all... save that this one looks very pretty."

He chuckled, "She is a classy dame."

Willow completely missed the innuendo in his words and instead ran her palm over the leather of the seat, I may know nothing about cars... but I definitely know something about classy dames...

As Hugh pulled out into the street Willow found herself imagining Tara and herself in the back seat, the top up... parked in a secluded spot... she blushed and looked away from Hugh. She all too clearly remembered necking with her high school boyfriend in his car. Then it had just been awkward fumblings, Willow had pulled away after mere seconds and demanded that he take her home. They had broken up the next weekend and she had never seen him since. Just imagining being in the back seat of the car with Tara however was enough to give rise to a warm feeling in her gut.

Okay, for one night you can stop thinking about Tara... I can never stop thinking about Tara! It's like forgetting how to breathe or something equally as life threatening... then don't think about her so much and for goodness sake stop thinking about her kissing you senseless! And Willow... yeah?... Stop babbling!

"Willow?" Hugh was talking to her but she had been so rapt up in her internal monologue that she had completely missed whatever it was that he had said to her.

"What? I mean... pardon Hugh?" Willow turned to face the young man.

"Well, we can sit in silence for the whole drive to the movie theatre if you'd prefer?"

"No, no... please, what was it you were saying... I was just a little distracted... I forgot to say goodbye to my parents before we left," Willow bit her lip at her white lie. Her mother and father were attending the opening night of an art exhibit. No doubt her father would find an excuse to open his pocket book and buy yet another piece of art following several glasses of champagne and her mother giving into his whims.

"That's quite alright. I was just asking where do you see yourself in five years time... if that's not too bold a question. You'll be twenty-three?"

Willow nodded and pursed her lips as she thought of an answer. Of course the one that sprung immediately to mind was that in five years time she saw herself curled in Tara's arms in a swing on the porch of their little home watching the sunset on what had been a beautiful day... their hands would be entwined, Tara's thumb stroking the skin on the back of her hand lovingly...

"Well, a university graduate hopefully," that part was an honest answer she could give.

"Oh, your father told me you would be starting at NYU this semester. He sounded very proud indeed. I'm a Harvard man myself," Hugh smiled, "You can't just be a graduate... what about plans for a family? Surely you want a home, children?"

Oh god, not the home and children line of conversation! Willow groaned inwardly and wished Hugh would just drop his current line of questioning. She knew exactly where he was headed and she did not wish to go there.

"Actually, I'm thinking about joining a convent. The life of a nun is very appealing and I've been told I would look quite striking in a wimple," Willow said quite seriously.

"But you're Jewish!" Hugh said, confusion clouding his tone until he saw Willow was no longer able to control her smirk, "Oh ha ha! You know Willow, that's one of the things I like about you... you have such an original sense of humour."

"And I dance very well," Willow added.

"Oh, have you caught the new Jerry Lewis track on the radio? Isn't it swell?"

...and thus the conversation was successfully steered away from the unfriendly topics of hearth and home and towards something a little more generic and easy going... music was always a good one.

"Well, that movie was certainly exciting," Willow said, munching happily on the last of her popcorn as Hugh drove her home.

Willow didn't mind thinking that it had been a passably enjoyable evening. Their conversation, after the earlier narrow miss, had remained on much lighter topics. Hugh was witty and almost interesting in his effort to impress her with his knowledge of movies and every other topic imaginable.

"Yes, although the title gave away the plot completely," Hugh laughed.

"Really? I thought 'Attack of the Crab Monsters' was going to be an all musical extravaganza about a singing group all in one family complete with cute moppets and fantastic locations," Willow said with mock sarcasm.

"A singing group all in one family? What a silly idea for a movie," Hugh wrinkled his nose, "I think I definitely preferred the giant crabs... although I didn't hear you squeak once... or flinch for that matter."

Willow shrugged, not a bit sorry that she had ruined his expectations of her leaping into his arms while the monsters chased the damsel through the city streets.

Hugh pulled the car over into a small park, the childrens swings and slide empty in the moonlight. Willow frowned and wondered why they had stopped. The engine stopped and there was no sound but that of her breathing in the close confines of the car with the top up. When she risked a glance across at Hugh she found him with a rather goofy look on his face. It would have been something to laugh about if it had been directed at anyone besides her. As it was, she felt decidedly uncomfortable in his presence and pulled her cardigan tightly around her shoulders.

He turned to face her, "Willow, you're so beautiful," Hugh said softly, flashing what he knew was his most charming grin... designed purely with melting the hearts of young ladies in mind. How was he to know that Willow was immune to all smiles save one?

"T-thanks..." Willow replied, trying to sense where exactly the door handle was behind her, "Why are we stopped? Is something wrong?"

"I want to give you something... the perfect end to a perfect night..." he whispered.

Hugh lent towards her, one large hand reaching up to cup her cheek. Willow felt his skin against hers, so coarse compared to Tara's. He lent closer, lips parted slightly in anticipation of finding hers willing and waiting for him. Oh god... Willow you silly ninny, he's going to kiss you!

Willow twisted to evade his gentle grip on her cheek and his eyes opened in surprise to find her pressed up against the door behind her. Her hand fumbled for the handle, very ready to make a quick exit.

"Willow, are you quite alright?" he asked in a carefully measured, soft voice.

"N-no..." was all Willow could manage to get out.

"It's just a kiss," Hugh said gently, determined to try his luck again. He reached out to place one hand on her thigh, his thumb making gentle circles on the fabric of her dress, "You have no idea how long I've wanted to kiss you," he breathed, running an awkward hand through her hair, "Ever since the first night when I saw you in your party frock... the belle of the ball with your flaming red hair. I've never met anyone like you Willow..."

Finally, Willow managed to make a sound. It was more of a squeak than a the full-throated scream that she actually wanted to let out. He stopped his movements, one hand resting on her upper arm, the other resting lightly on her hair and his lips ever so uncomfortably close to her own.

"It's alright... you're just scared... probably never been kissed before," he crooned softly, stroking her hair over and over.

At his last sentence, images of Tara came flooding into her mind and Willow finally found the voice she thought she had lost for good. Extracting both her hands from where they had been pinned by his body she put them both on his chest and shoved him backwards. He fell backwards, more from shock than the actual force of her shove. Willow didn't let herself be fooled by the boyishly confused expression on his face, fear flooded her mind when she remembered the lusty urgency in his voice. It wouldn't take much for him to hold her down, she remembered the strength in his arms and shivered.

"I-If you make so much as another move towards me I swear I'll rip your balls off," Willow practically growled in a low voice. It garnered the reaction she was hoping for as Hugh's eyes went wider with shock, "I want to go home," she said each word clearly and forcefully.

The drive home was a deathly silent one. Willow sat with her shoulder pressed against the shoulder. One hand resting on the door handle of the car and the other keeping her cardigan closed tightly around her neck.

It was only when they pulled up outside Willow's home that Hugh finally spoke up.

"Willow... I'm so sorry. I just thought that you wanted..."

"Next time don't assume anything... next time, ask the girl how she feels... but that girl... it definitely won't be me," Willow was in no mood to be placated by an apology. She was scared and just wanted to get inside where she knew it was safe.

"Please, just let me... I don't think there are words that can describe how sorry I am. I embarrassed myself and humiliated you..."

"Hugh, it's alright," Willow said tightly, more to get him to shut up than anything. No it's not alright! I feel...

"Are you going to tell your father?" he asked in a small voice.

Willow couldn't stand being in the same space with him any longer. She wrenched open the door and stepped out.

"Willow..." Hugh's voice sounded a little different, a hint of desperation and something else that she couldn't put her finger on.

Willow turned to face him one last time as she was about to shut the door. Gone was his hurt puppy dog expression, replaced by something Willow couldn't fathom and didn't want to try. He stared her down.

"I wouldn't tell your father if I were you," he cautioned, his voice low and harsh in comparison to how it had been all evening, "You do not even want to try and do that to me."

Willow slammed the door on his sickening face and ran up the stairs to the front door without a glance back. Even when Joe had opened the door and let her in, she still didn't hear Hugh's car pull away from the curb. Without pausing to answer Joe's questions about her evening, she ran up the stairs. Longing desperately for the familiar comfort of her bedroom.

Once inside, Willow couldn't close her door fast enough behind her. It clicked shut and she locked it as well. Only then could she truly think about calming down, wiping the perspiration from her forehead and her sweaty palms on the front of her dress. Her heart thumped in her chest, beating in time with the headache pounding against her skull. She pressed her back to the door and pressed her sweaty palms against the wood for something firm to steady herself against. Slowly, she sank to the floor, her back sliding down until she was crouched with her knees drawn up to her chest. She hugged them even more tightly against herself with her arms. Willow buried her head in her arms and felt her whole body shake uncontrollably. She choked back a sob and pressed her hand against her mouth firmly. One thing she would not allow herself was the luxury of crying.

I will not cry because of that bastard! Willow thought angrily, one fist punching the carpet beneath her, I will not cry... I will not cry...

It had been difficult to realise but in hindsight Willow could look back and see how stupid she had been. Instead of putting a firm halt to the progression of events before anything even started, she had managed to encourage Hugh despite her intentions to the contrary. Willow scrubbed angrily at the spot on her thigh where he had touched her until she was sure her skin was red.

His warning, even though she had no idea what he meant by it, chilled her to the bone.

Continue to What's Your Tale, Nightingale? Chapter Twenty-Six

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