Author: MissKittys Ball O Yarn
Tara folded the sweater in her hand and put the article of clothing into her son's suitcase. This would be the first time that he will have ever been away from home for any length of time. And she was a little sad. Still, Tara didn't let herself think too far ahead, after all there were a few hours left before Spencer was scheduled to be picked up; still plenty of time for Tara's ex to back out.
"Can I bring this one Mommy?"
Tara examined the pair of Summer shorts Spencer was holding up. "Don't you think it's a little too cold outside for shorts sweetie?"
"No." Spencer stated simply.
"Well...they're your legs...if you want to freeze them off I guess that's your decision to make." Tara continued to put the little boys clothing into the suitcase, she'd leave him to decide on his own if he wanted to bring along the pair of shorts.
"I'll bring them...But I'll bring pants too, just in case."
Spencer handed the shorts to Tara. "That's a very smart idea." Tara said, folding the shorts and placing them into the navy-blue suitcase. Just then the shrill ringing of the phone sounded from the kitchen. "I'll be right back sweetie." Tara left her son to the task of packing the rest of the clothes she'd laid out for him.
Tara cursed under her breath as she hung up the phone. She placed it in the cradle a little harshly and the sound of plastic hitting plastic stung her ears. This was just like Logan to cancel at the last minute. Tara's initial irritation to her ex's behavior and lack of a sense of responsibility where Spencer was concerned was muted and replaced with sorrow at the thought of having to tell her son that he wasn't going to go spend the week with Logan.
She knew Spencer's forgiving nature would prevail, but this was the fourth time Logan had called to cancel and she wasn't sure how much more his little heart could take. Tara wasn't sure how much more she, herself could take either. She hated to see her son hurting, but she knew if she stopped the communication between Logan and the six-year old, it would only hurt Spencer. Tara felt like she had to give Logan the benefit of the doubt and a chance to do the right thing where their son was concerned.
Logan had always been somewhat selfish, and on some level Tara had always known that about her. But it all came to a head a little over a year ago when she discovered that Logan had been having an affair with one of Tara's artist friends. After that Tara could no longer live with the woman. And had taken Spencer and left. She hadn't regretted that decision since then and it was only when Logan broke one of her many promises to Spencer that Tara even cast a thought toward the other woman. She didn't wish any harm to come to Logan, but she and Spencer were better off without her.
Tara took her time returning to her son's room. She didn't want to have to tell him that Logan had backed out again. Tara stood against the door frame watching her son try to close his suitcase. Her heat sank at the sight of him sitting on top of his luggage while his small hands worked to clasped the brass latches together. She didn't know how she was going to tell him that he wasn't going. Tara felt her throat clench, but quickly squashed it. "Spencer...come here. I want to talk to you about something..." Tara walked across the room and sat down on the edge of the six-year olds bed. She could see the glint of hope in his blue eyes as he waited for her to speak. Tara felt her mouth go dry.
"What is it Mommy?"
"Well...You know when the phone rang earlier?" He nodded his head and Tara continued. "That was Lee-Lee on the phone. She was real sorry but something came up and--"
"She's not coming to get me is she?"
Tara wanted to cry at the sight of the tears shining in Spencer's eyes. But she wouldn't, not now. The tears over her son's pain wouldn't come until later, after the lights were out and she was all alone. "Not this time...I'm sorry honey."
"It's because she's back with Kelly again. She never wants to see me when she's with Kelly."
"Oh honey, that's not true. Lee-Lee loves you. She's just a little mixed up right now. She'll get better. I promise." Tara smoothed her son's blonde hair from his face. But Spencer wanted nothing of that comforting touch. He pulled away, throwing his face into the dark blue pillow on his bed.
"She doesn't love me anymore when she's with Kelly...."
It broke Tara's heart to see her son so despondent. She wanted to hold him close to her and rock him like she used to do when he was a baby, but she knew that wasn't the way to go just then. Still, her motherly instinct couldn't be put to bed entirely. She bent down kissing the top of his blonde head. "How about you and I get all dressed up and go out to dinner tonight. Would you like that sweetie?" Spencer lifted his head off the pillow and Tara could see an excited spark in his eyes.
"Where would we go Mommy?"
Tara thought for a moment, tilting her head to the side she poked her son teasingly in the tummy. "How about the fanciest eatery this side of Timbuktu?" Tara tried to muster an enthusiasm she really didn't feel.
"McDonald's?" Spencer giggled.
"No, you silly monkey. I was thinking more along the lines of---"
"Do you want to go or not?!" Tara teased.
"Yes." Spencer smiled.
"I was thinking we could go to Le Martinique." Tara watched her son's face carefully gauging his expression. Le Martinique was the most expensive restaurant in Los Angeles. They had never been inside, but they had both thought about what it would be like to eat there plenty of times.
"Do you mean it Mommy?"
"Of course...but only on one condition." Tara lowered her voice and gave her son a sly but serious look.
"What condition Mommy?" Spencer asked solemnly.
"You must give me exactly one kiss." Tara turned her cheek to the side, presenting it to receive the suggested payment.
"Deal!" Spencer leaned over and gave Tara an enthusiastic kiss on the cheek. He hoped from the bed, and with an excitement Tara hadn't been sure she'd be seeing again that evening, began rummaging through his closet for the one and only suit and tie he owned.
"Miss Rosenberg. You have a call on line two."
"Thanks Phyllis." Willow said, she noted the older woman had her coat on and her purse tucked securely in her bent arm. "You goin' home?" Willow asked.
"If there's nothing else I can do for you."
"Nope....everything looks good here. I'm going to head out in a little while myself."
Willow tapped the eraser end of her pencil along the dark mahogany desk, which was fun...for a moment. The pencil left those little pink eraser smudges everywhere it hit. Willow couldn't tolerate that, so she licked the tip of her finger and rubbing it against the smudges, scrubbed the markings away. With her anal tendencies satisfied Willow picked up the receiver and punched the lighted button marked: two.
She hung up the phone a moment later and using that same pencil, marked that night's business meeting into her little, black planner. Willow closed the book and leaned back in her leather chair. Dinner tonight would be fun, and might even prove to be beneficial to her career. Not that she needed another client. She was overbooked as it was, and had actually been thinking about hiring a new artist just to keep up with demand.
Willow's design company had grown exponentially over the years and now she had clients as far away as Japan. But even with being stretched so thin, she just couldn't resist the opportunity to nab a contract with The Kirkland Group. Not to mention the riches that would ensue from such a business deal.
Even though her business life was booming; her love life was not so fortunate. It wasn't that she hadn't been looking for that someone special, but looking and trying to raise a burgeoning graphic design company from the ground up was proving more complicated than it had initially read on paper.
Willow was a powerhouse in the workforce, but somewhat awkward in the field of love...somehow she just couldn't seem to coordinate her work life with her romantic life. And after a few failed attempts to woo the pretty young ladies around town, Willow had decided to stop looking altogether and focus on making her business the best it could be.
That had worked for awhile, but it hadn't been long before Willow began to feel that pang of emptiness every time she went home to her empty apartment. She often felt there was something missing from her life, business couldn't be everything right? There had to be more out there than business meetings and the staggered black line of commerce.
Willow looked down at her watch. It was 7:30 which meant she had an hour to get ready. That wasn't very much time relatively speaking. If she hurried she would have time to pick up her dry-cleaning on the way to the restaurant. And if she was extremely lucky, would be dragging herself home by 11:00pm that night.
Willow passed by the front desk on her way out, leaving a note for Phyllis. The note read: If I'm not here tomorrow morning, cancel my 9:00 o'clock, 12:00 o'clock and see if you can get my 3:15 pushed up to 5:00 o'clock. Willow doodled a happy little smiley-faced stick figure holding up a martini glass underneath her words then tacked the paper to the secretary's computer screen. Willow turned to walk away, but as a last thought she took the paper down: p.s. take Friday off. Satisfied, she taped the paper to the monitor again.
"Right this way."
The waiter walked ahead of them, his black tuxedo and white gloved hands looking rather foreign to both Tara and Spencer. She looked down at the boy and saw that he was looking very serious in his grey suit and blue and grey striped tie. Tara nudged him playfully and was rewarded with a smile.
Tara and Spencer were shown to a small table near the center of the room. And as the waiter took their drink orders Tara surveyed the large dining room. He eyes drifted over rounded glass tabletops, some draped in white cloth and others bare except for the candles that stood in the center of each table regardless of its surface.
"This is very nice isn't it Mommy?"
Tara brought her attention back to the boy seated across the table from her. "Yes, it's very nice." Tara watched as Spencer took his napkin from the table and draped it across his lap. He scooted himself to the edge of his chair and placed his hands folded neatly on top of the napkin in his lap. She was happy to see that he seemed to be back to his old self again. "What are you going to order little man?" Tara asked opening the menu the waiter had given them earlier. Spencer did the same, opening his menu and holding it in front of him so that his face and all but the top of his head disappeared behind the elegant, leather-bound menu.
"I don't know...do you think they have French Fries here?"
"Oh, I'm almost certain..." Tara grinned at her son. He was definitely back to his old self.
"Hi. I'm meeting clients for dinner." Willow said speaking to the host. She wondered if leaving out the word "potential" was being too pretentious. But she figured it really didn't matter.
"Ahh yes, Miss Rosenberg. Right this way."
Le Martinique wasn't very packed that night; only a few tables were occupied, so it was easy to spot The Kirkland Group right away.
The Kirkland group was made up of Kirkland Senior and Kirkland Junior and a few odd suits thrown in for good measure. They ruled the market in children's fashions and were worth their weight in expensive cotton. Willow was sure to hit the million dollar mark with this contract alone, putting her profit margins so far in the black that she'd have to buy a pair of binoculars just to see the top. "Mr. Kirkland....so glad to meet you." Willow smiled and extended her hand to the white haired gentleman. The other men at the table who'd stood when she'd approached were now reseating themselves. "I hope I'm not too late." Willow said taking a seat on the only wooden chair available. It happened to be next to Kirkland Jr. And Willow had to try hard to repress the urge to slide her chair away from the man.
She'd known Kirkland Jr. for the better part of four years and each time she saw him he was leering at her with an odd look on his face. It made Willow very uncomfortable. She had always gotten the suspicion that he wanted more than a professional relationship with her, which was so totally out of the question that it wasn't even a question anymore. It was a Picasso painting.
"No....not at all Miss Rosenberg. The guys and I were just having a drink. Would you care for anything?"
"No thank you."
"Very well then. I suppose you want to get right down to business?"
Willow smiled, but remained a blank canvas. She'd let them think what they would and leave it at that.
As Willow listened to the men talk, she couldn't help but notice the woman and child sitting at the table next to hers. Willow thought the woman was very beautiful and was finding it hard to tear her eyes away. She forced herself to though, otherwise she just knew the woman would feel her gaze, turn around, and catch Willow staring at her. Also, she figured it was important to listen to what Kirkland Sr. was blathering on about.
Tara could feel the redhead's eyes on her again. The heat of the contact made the back of Tara's neck feel warmed. She had noticed the woman the instant she'd entered the dining room. Tara had never seen anyone with hair as red as hers was. She found herself fascinated with the way it hung in layers around her face and down her back.
Throughout dinner Tara found herself unintentionally picking up bits and pieces of the conversation at the table across from she and Spencer. From what she could piece together the woman owned a large company of some kind and the men at the table were potential clients and theirs was a meeting of business.
"Mommy...I have to go to the bathroom."
Spencer whispered this as if it were a dreadful secret. He put down his French fry and looked at Tara. "Do you want me to go with you honey?" Tara asked, bringing her attention back to the little boy.
"No! I can go alone."
"Okay. Go, then come right back." Tara watched her son leave the table. Her eyes didn't leave him until she'd seen that he had made it safely to the bathroom. Tara took another bite of pasta. As she ate, thoughts of Logan resurfaced. She couldn't help but think about all that had happened that day. She was still feeling upset with her former lover for the callous way she'd been treating Spencer since the separation, but she supposed she'd have to let that go for now. There was nothing she could do about it that night.
Willow's mind was on overload though, and she could feel her eyes itching to flicker back to the blonde. Willow was so preoccupied with trying to keep her eyes off the woman that she didn't notice the little boy as he passed until it was too late. She felt the table jolt and before she could catch him he'd already tripped and landed face down on the floor. "Oh! Are you okay little boy?" Willow jumped up, and knelt beside him.
Tara saw Spencer approaching from the corner of her eye, but she was so wrapped up in her own thoughts that her reflexes hadn't reacted in time to catch the boy before he fell. He fell hard, landing on the carpeted floor in between Tara's table and that of the mysterious redhead's table. Tara saw the redhead jump up to see if Spencer was hurt. Tara followed suit. Coming to Spencer's side she inspected him for injuries. "You okay little man?"
"I'm okay. I just tripped...But I spilled my drink."
Tara made eye contact with the redhead. They were on either side of the boy and each had one of Spencer's arms. She wasn't surprised to see that the woman's eyes were the color of the sea, all green and shimmering in the candlelight. Their gaze met and held momentarily before Tara dragged her eyes away.
"Goodness....you did didn't you?" Willow said taking note of the dripping drink as it made its way from tabletop to floor. Willow smiled, she couldn't help but notice how smart he looked in his little suit and tie.
"I'm sorry Mommy."
"For what little man?" Tara said, taking Spencer's chin in her hand.
"For making a mess and ruining our fancy dinner."
"You didn't ruin anything darling." Tara looked into Spencer's eyes.
Willow turned her gaze away from the mother and child. She felt like an intruder on a very private moment. "You're okay then?" Willow asked. The boy nodded. Willow's eyes met the other woman's again.
"Thank you." Tara said. She wanted to say more, but the men at the woman's table were looking irritated by the interruption. "You should probably...." Tara motioned to the woman's table full of stern looking gentlemen.
"Right..." Willow blushed. "I'll just...." she made a sitting motion with her hand and awkwardly turned away to reseat herself.
An hour later, Willow sat alone at the table nursing the diet coke she'd ordered. Everything had went well. More than well, in fact. Everything had gone Grrr-eat! In Willow's mind a vision of Tony the Tiger lifted his animated arm in celebration. As it stood now Willow basically had the contract, all that was left was to find an artist that could come up with some designs for the line of children-sized sheet sets that The Kirkland Group was looking to produce. So far they hadn't seen anything they'd liked from any other designers and if Willow could produce someone who could give them what they wanted then the contract would be hers.
Willow took another sip of her diet soda and a bite of chocolate cake. Her eyes idly scanned the crowd. There were men and women hunched over their plates speaking in low tones with romantic glints in their eyes, and there were older men with younger women, trying to impress them with lobster and caviar. Her eyes came to rest on the place that the woman and child had occupied only thirty minutes before. Willow had watched them leave with disappointment. She hadn't even gotten the woman's name and the odds were not in her favor for seeing the woman again; not in a city as large as Los Angeles was.