Return to You Make Me Smile Chapter Three

You Make Me Smile

Author: MissKittys Ball O Yarn
Rating: NC-17
Feedback: Please let me know what you think... cause I love feedback. I hope you enjoy. Please leave feedback on the You Make Me Smile thread on the Kitten Board.
Disclaimer: Joss owns it all. Except my brain... well, probably that too.

Willow still couldn't believe that they'd gotten an actual table. The small deli was packed with hungry people from the exhibit; many of them tourists. But the blonde seemed to have friends everywhere; first at the art show; people had stopped to shake her hand and kiss her cheek. Then at the deli where an across-the-counter kiss on the cheek had gotten them the best table in the place--not that Willow thought the woman was some kind of kiss-slut or anything, in fact the blonde had seemed conservative with the kissing and not at all flamboyant.

Willow shifted her red and white sneakers under the table--it was true that they didn't really go with the expensive leather jacket she was wearing, but then again, Willow had always been more of a comfort-gal than a cutting-edge, fashion diva. In her youth she had even been considered one of the more "funky" dressers; in high school, all the way up until college, where her creative flare for the mismatched-matched sort of got lost amongst the equally exotic patterned and pressed folks in attendance.

"Do you paint as well?" Willow asked, directing her thoughts into a more forward motion. She couldn't deny that she held a double intention in wanting to know. Aside from being truly interested in this blonde woman, Willow also had to consider the dwindling window of opportunity for employing an artist for the Kirkland Group. And since she couldn't very well hire a six-year old, she was forced to reassert her options.

"Oh, yes. I don't have anything out there today...I was going to, but I just..." Tara's words ended. She didn't want to admit to virtual stranger that she'd been feeling a little "off" the last couple days. But there was something in Willow's eyes that gave Tara a sense of ease and comfort. She didn't know what it was though...maybe just the day playing tricks and instilling a false sense of security. Willow's eyes were green, and held a strength that made Tara want to open up to her. But she remembered Spencer seated between them, which was enough to make her censor her words.

"I would really like to see your work...Will you be showing again?" Willow asked, secretly hoping the inflection in her voice wouldn't reveal her true intention-- which was simply to see this woman again and by that time, had nothing at all to do with art.

Tara nodded offhandedly and tried to recall when the next showing would be. She drew a blank. Tara watched Willow over the rim of her glass as she pretended to drink the iced tea inside. Spencer, seated beside Tara, shuffled in his chair which caused the metal legs to scrape across the concrete floor with a grating sort of sound.

"I'm going to Disney World for my birthday this year."

Spencer announced proudly, taking a sip of his lemonade. The cup, the woman behind the counter had given him was child-sized and plastic. "You are?" Willow asked, turning her partial attention to the child, whom she could tell was waiting for her to respond. The rest of Willow's attention skirted across the table, toward the gorgeous blonde, who, at that moment, was delicately picking a brown spot of lettuce from her sandwich. Willow never knew how deliciously exciting damaged produce could be, until that moment. She was riveted.

"Yep. Isn't that right Mommy?"

Tara smiled but said nothing. She wondered when those plans had been made; Logan had never said anything to her about it. Tara wondered if the other woman even remembered promising Spencer they'd go. Tara worried about what to say. She didn't want to upset her son, but she didn't want him to be disappointed when it didn't happen, either. "We'll see." Tara said, deciding neutrality was best at the moment; she'd talk to Logan later that evening to get the full story. Tara grew quiet...She didn't want to think about Logan.

Willow could sense the change in atmosphere immediately following the little boy‘s declaration. It was a heavy, silent kind of change and Willow felt the need to fix it. So she delved deeper into conversation, trying to keep things light. "I like amusement parks, If I had a back yard I'd probably put a Farris wheel in it...well not a Farris wheel, cause they're scary, but maybe a camel for the kiddies to ride around on. But not a pony...because...well, lets just say there is a traumatic pony moment in my past that I'd rather not relive...ever," Willow said, knowing full well that she had gone beyond filling the silence and had traversed fully into the land of babble. She knew that if she didn't stop herself she might continue on, straight into her scary-pony past. Tara was smiling though, which made Willow feel more confident. However, she couldn't help the fleeting wonder if amusement parks in general were a sensitive subject for Tara, or if her particular aversion was to this one specifically.

Tara smiled at the redhead's babble. "Ponies aren't that bad...sometimes, but not usually," She said, putting Logan from her mind completely. Tara could feel Willow's eyes on her which was making her feel a bit warm. Tara loosened the scarf she wore. Then, extracting it from around her neck and slipping it out from under the collar of her jacket, Tara set the flowing material on the only other empty chair at their table.

"Do you ride?" Willow took a bite of her sandwich, and noticing the way the blonde woman was removing the red and brown scarf from her neck. Willow swallowed with a bit too much enthusiasm and her throat clenched, threatening to lodge the food there, and kill her right on the spot.

"A little...I'm not that good, but I don't fall off either," Tara said. She caught Willow's gaze momentarily, but it was gone before Tara could let her own linger. Spencer sat between them, he'd been silent for a long time and Tara wondered if he had sensed her silence from a moment earlier.

Tara could feel Willow's gaze flicker to her, once more, from across the table. Tara deliberately kept her eyes on her sandwich. For the moment, the brazenness she'd felt when she'd boldly asked Willow to accompany them had fled, leaving her alone with feelings of self-doubt and a strange, unexplained tingling sensation just below her kneecap. It tickled and Tara had to take a bite of her sandwich to keep from laughing.

Willow regarded the beautiful woman curiously and wondered if the funny look on Tara's face was in fact amusement, or if the blonde simply thought Willow was a complete dork.

"These are Antirrhinums."

Spencer spoke suddenly almost as if he could sense Willow's thoughts and meant to diffuse the situation before it had a chance to escalate into Willow saying, or doing something to embarrass herself. As if to further reiterate his statement, Spencer reached out to touch the delicate pink and white petals of the flowers in the center of the table.

"Yes, they are," Willow said, amazed that a boy his age would know the scientific name for Snapdragons. "They're pretty aren't they?" Willow leaned forward to take a closer look at the flowers. Snapdragons had always been amongst her favorite flowers.

"I like them a lot." Spencer smiled.

"Me too," Willow said kindly, and was rewarded with a grin from the boy. "What grade did you say you were in, again?" She had to know. Willow recalled he'd said he was six...but since when did six-year-olds study botany?

For the rest of their lunch hour Spencer monopolized the conversation. He regaled Willow in detail on his daily adventures at the Montessori school he attended.

Tara sat back watching the interaction between her son and this beautiful woman across from her. She was amazed by the ease with which Willow exchanged conversation with Spencer. Tara, deciding Willow was a natural with children, wondered if she had any kids of her own.

Tara casually glanced down at Willow's hand, her eyes gracing the redhead's slim fingers, lingering only slightly longer than necessary to see that she wore no wedding ring--a small victory, but hardly evidence enough to convict. Maybe she was divorced...or dating someone. Tara wondered lightly on how to go about gaining such information without coming right out and asking.

Fortunately she didn't have long to worry about it, because through the large glass window Tara could see Ginny, motioning for Tara to hurry up. Unfortunately that meant lunch would have to be over.

They walked back across the street, causally dodging foot traffic and the street vendors who'd, it seemed, organized themselves into a most effective obstacle course. Tara gripped Spencer's hand tightly, in order to keep him standing next to her, but felt him tug on his hand slightly, and loosened her grip.

Tara stopped once they had reached their stall, and tuned to Willow. "This," She said, rocking back on her heels. She swung Spencer's hand lightheartedly for something to do so she wouldn't have to meet Willow's eyes. She didn't want this to end.

"It," Willow agreed. Her gaze traveled away, of their own accord and down the woman's body with the precision of a surgeon. Then shocked at her own behavior her eyes fluttered back to the safety of Tara's face, so as not to make herself a candidate for the "Pervert files" that were, she was sure, kept on record somewhere at the police station.

Neither woman knew what else to say.

"You're leaving already?" Spencer piped in, his tone a scathe away from a whine.

Willow came to her knees so that she was eyelevel with the young boy.

"Will we see you again?" he asked, tilting his head to the side.

"I um...I--" Willow looked in Tara's direction for some sign that would guide her in her answer, but found none.

"What about your paintings?" Spencer asked.

Spencer put his hands on either side of Willow‘s face

"You could come over for dinner. Mommy, can Willow come over for dinner?"

Willow was surprised and had to be stop herself from pulling away from his small hands. She wasn't used to children and didn't feel prepared for this kind of physical interaction. "Oh...I don't think that---your mom would...I mean..." Willow stammered, trying to answer before Tara could have a chance to object. All the while, Spencer kept his hands locked to Willow's cheeks, forcing her to look at him. He smelled of bubble gum and fabric softener and Willow had to smile in spite of her position.

"--No! I mean, that would be nice." Tara tried not to blush. "Unless you don't want to...." She added, not wanting it to seem like she was forcing Willow into something she didn't want to do.

"No, I do. I really do. Okay?" Willow, put her hands over Spencer's warmer ones. Then lowering them from her face, she clasped them together in front of him as if he were praying. Willow smiled, then stood.

"Tuesday sound alright?" Tara asked. She could feel her teeth sinking into her bottom lip. She wondered if the suggestion of dinner on Tuesday made her seem presumptuous. Tara wondered if she should've let Willow pick the day. "That is, if you're not busy," she added, just to be on the safe side.

"Tuesday sounds great," Willow said. Tara nodded and took a slip of paper from the table. Bending, Tara wrote something on the paper; it was her address and phone number. Willow took the slip of paper from Tara, and held onto it as she didn't trust her pockets to keep it safe.

"Tuesday it is, then," they both said at once, then laughed nervously. They smiled at each other shyly and shook hands awkwardly as if they'd just made a business deal, and then Willow turned to leave.

Willow had gotten a few paces away, then turned back. Spencer was waving with one hand while the other hand shielded his eyes from the sun. The cuffs of his blue sweatshirt had slipped down so that it looked as if he had no hands. Willow waved back, catching one, last glance at Tara before heading in the opposite direction, once more.

Willow knew she was grinning like an idiot, and a pair of older women even gave her funny looks as she passed by them on the way to her car...but it didn't matter. Her thoughts were already turning to Tuesday.

Continue to You Make Me Smile Chapter Five

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