Willow jolted in her seat for the third time since entering the large recreational van. The weekend had come quickly, and the couple as well as several other guests had piled into different vans for a trip into town.
The driver cut a sharp left and sped down the dirt road unaware that his passengers were desperately gripping their seatbelts and whatever else that would stop them from toppling over.
The redhead felt the familiar prickling as eyes grazed over her profile. Unwittingly, she blushed and turned to catch the sight of wiggling eyebrows and the sparkling eyes that accompanied them. Tara sat, strangely composed, and smiled over to her girlfriend. Willow managed a grin that wouldn't reveal her panic, and continued staring ahead.
When the van came to a stop outside a convenient store, the passengers scurried out of the back and hurried as far away from the vehicle as possible.
"Okay," the driver who was also a seminar instructor raised his arms to get everyone's attention, "Please remember that we don't have the vans for much longer, we'll meet back here in say... an hour." He received several nods as the group began to break up and go their separate ways.
"Where to?" Tara's hand snaked its way into Willow's as the girls crossed the almost deserted street.
A large sign caught Willow's attention and she smiled broadly. Her blonde girlfriend followed her eyes and shook her head in amusement. The sign, reading "Western Apparel", flashed red although many of the bulbs were broken.
Country music blared through the speakers of the small clothing store. Various pictures and stuffed animals aligned the walls, staring creepily at the girls.
Running her fingers over a large silver belt buckle, Tara leaned into her partner. "Who would wear something this big?"
"My uncle, Tony," Willow smirked, "he's obsessed with everything western, although he's never been out of Staten Island. You should see his movie collection." She shook her head, remembering the two days she spent watching western reruns. Squeezing Tara's hand, she motioned toward the back wall. "C'mon, let's go look at the hats."
The couple stared in awe at the number of headwear stockpiled in the back of the store. "Look, they even have a list," Tara read the sheet of paper stapled to the wall with the price and name of each hat. "They have straw hats, jean hats, small hats, gallon hats, leather hats, feather hats..." as she continued naming the various headgears, Willow browsed the wall.
The redhead unhooked a vanilla-colored cowboy hat from the wall and ran her fingers along the rim. She tried it on and stepped in front of the mirror to check her appearance.
"...hard hats, fur hats..."
The headwear fit perfectly, complimenting the red strands of her hair. She tipped it as she had seen done in so many movies, and smiled to herself.
"Howdy, ma'am," the softly spoken words flutter against her ear. Tara grinned, looking into the mirror as her girlfriend looked back into the glass. The southern accent she used didn't quite fit the western atmosphere of the store, but Willow found it adorable.
"Here, try this on," the redhead grabbed an identical hat from the wall and positioned it atop Tara's head. "Now you're officially a cowgirl," winking, she tugged on the blonde's belt loop.
"I reckon so," deepening her accent, Tara took her girlfriend's hand, "let's buy these here hats and skedaddle." Willow giggled and leaned in to kiss the blonde, but stopped before her lips grazed Tara's.
"You're so beautiful," she removed her hat to block the view from any onlookers and closed the gap.
"You're quite purty, yourself," Tara beamed as they both pulled back. Paying for their hats, the couple giddily left the store.
"Oh, I love this song," Tara smiled sheepishly as they passed the building next door to the store they'd just left. "You want to go inside?"
"It's a bar, wouldn't we get in trouble?" Willow frowned, although the thought was tempting.
"No, most places usually don't care as long as you're not drinking," the blonde shrugged. She watched her girlfriend consider the idea.
"Well, then," the redhead clicked her tongue and smiled, "let's mosey on down to the hoedown." Tara smiled at the charming girl beside her and led Willow past the heavy wooden door.
Not seeing a bare head in the place, the girls were even happier about their purchases as they moved through the smoke filled crowd. Laughs and the sound of clinking glasses and chairs were just as high in volume as the music playing from the stage.
Pushing through the last people until they reached the long bar table, Willow and Tara quickly settled into the last two empty stools.
"What can I get you ladies?" The bartender smiled kindly at the two young women as he polished a large beer glass with a towel.
"Uh, we're not... we don't," Willow sputtered.
"Two cokes, please." Tara smiled, at ease with the environment. There were perks to growing up in a small town; one being that sometimes the only restaurants open after nine o'clock was those inside of bars.
Embarrassed, the blushing redhead accepted the drink when the bartender returned. "Thanks," she smiled thankfully toward her girlfriend. Tara shrugged as her own face grew ablaze with warmth.
Slowly the couple began to unwind, relaxing into their mellow surroundings. The music changed from older to more modern artists, and the silliest idea popped into Willow's mind.
"Let's line dance," her grin widened as Tara's eyes grew in surprise.
"You're kidding, right?"
"Nope," Willow shook her head, preparing to pull her girlfriend out onto the dance floor.
"Willow, no one does that anymore. And besides, I can't dance, remember." The blonde started forming more reasons why she couldn't get off her barstool.
"Then we'll dance like regular people," another gentle tug on Tara's arm.
"Regular people? I don't think my dancing hardly qualifies as regular," the stubborn young woman barely moved.
"Am I going to have to pout? 'Cause I will," Willow felt her mouth pulling as her bottom lip stuck out a bit. Tara playfully rolled her eyes and gradually slid from the stool.
The music being played was a mixture of rock and blues, and the unlikely combination had brought many people out onto the dance floor.
Placing her hands on Tara's hips, Willow moved along with the music. The two-stepping blonde did the same with her own hands, as the couple got more into the rhythm. Their bodies, although considerably further apart compared to the other dancers, were still intoned. Their hips began to sway and roll with the music and their legs moved faster until they were no longer dancing in the same spot.
"You're doing well for a horrible dancer," the redhead whispered. Their cowgirl hats touched at the rim, but their faces were close enough so that Tara could hear the compliment. The blonde ducked her head and flashed a lopsided grin.
Willow mesmerized the movement of their bodies. Never had she felt so content, so free. Her mind blocked out everything but the girl standing before her, and the world seemed right.
Tara smiled across to Willow and lightly thumped her girlfriend's hat before taking it from her head. As if their thoughts were alike, the redhead removed Tara's hat as well. Broken from their boundaries, their lips met briefly, and again, and again.
A sigh escaped but neither girl was sure who breathed first. Smiling, hats were put back and the girls continued moving to the song.