Willow Rosenberg wandered aimlessly around her living room, pausing now and then to straighten a picture or move a stray object an inch or two to the right or left. Sometimes both. Her nervous energy had made it easy to tidy up the small house, but now that it was done, she didn't know what to do with herself.
So she paced. Several trips around the living room, down the hall, into the kitchen, back down the hall, past the bedrooms. She stuck her head into the spare room for the sixteenth or seventeenth time that morning. Frowning, she walked into the middle of the room and stood with her hands on her hips.
I wonder if she'll like it?... it's not a bad room... it's roomy... it's a roomy-room... heh, that's funny... maybe I should have removed that old desk... what was I thinking?... it looks like a dorm room... and has that wallpaper always been this ugly?... it's so old ladyish... it looks like an old lady dorm room... oh! - what if she's an old lady?... not that that's a bad thing to be... I'd like to be one myself someday... she didn't sound old, but...
Willow's brow furrowed and her internal babble-ogue came to an abrupt halt as she recalled the phone conversation the previous day
She didn't sound old. She sounded about my age, in fact. She had a nice voice. Yep, definitely nice.
Willow smiled as she walked back to the living room. She checked the clock on the mantle - 9:47. The momentary calm that had descended over the redhead disappeared in an instant.
Thirteen minutes!... she's gonna be here in thirteen minutes!... maybe she'll be late... oh no!... what if she's early?!
Willow raced to the front window and pulled back the curtain. Her eyes darted up and down the quiet street, but she saw nothing out of the ordinary.
Okay, that's good... I still have a few minutes to myself before I have to meet this strange woman who wants to move into my house.
Willow flopped down onto her couch and groaned. When her parents had suggested she rent out the spare room it had seemed like a good idea. She didn't need the money, but Ira and Sheila had implied that she could use the company. Since moving from Washington, D.C. to Sunnydale several months before, she had met few people. When her best friend Xander had been stationed nearby, she'd been able to see him, but then he'd shipped out several weeks ago.
Willow had finally decided to do it out of civic duty. With all of the war industry in Southern California, Sunnydale had attracted a huge number of new residents, and builders were struggling to keep up with demand. When her ad for a housemate had been answered so soon, Willow had not been surprised. But it was only now that the reality of the situation was sinking in.
Some total stranger is going to be living in my house... what if she's a slob?... what if she smokes?... what if she's an ax murderer?... oh my God, she's probably an ax murderer!... this was such a rotten idea... okay, calm down Rosenberg... when she gets here, I'll just ... hide!... I can hide!... no, that would cowardly - and rude... hmmm... oh! I know! I'll tell her it's already rented!... no, I can't lie to her... can I?... NO!... wait, I've got it... I'll tell her I changed my mind and that there's no room for anyone who's not me... is that a car?
Willow dashed to the window again and cautiously pulled back the curtain. She saw a dark green sedan pull slowly down the street and come to a stop in front of her house. She watched as the door opened and a dark blonde head emerged.
Oh my God, it's Veronica Lake, flashed through Willow's head as she saw the long wavy hair that fell coquettishly across one side of the woman's face. Willow pushed the curtain aside further in order to get a better view, but just as she did so she saw the blonde's eyes turning towards her.
Willow dropped the curtain and jumped away from the window. She quickly bounced over to the front door and paused, her hand on the knob.
Okay, definitely not an old lady... no siree... and she doesn't look like an ax murderer... what do ax murderers look like anyway... no - bad - don't visualize... too late!
Willow's mental frenzy had her so wound up that at the first soft knock on the door she jerked it open...
...and found herself staring into two extremely startled blue eyes.
Wow, thought the redhead, as she stood in the doorway, eyes widening and a grin forming on her face. Veronica Lake Schmake.
After a moment Willow realized she'd frightened the other woman, who seemed to be frozen in place.
Say something, Rosenberg! Willow's brain shouted at her. Something simple, like 'Hi, I'm Willow Rosenberg. You must be Tara Maclay.' Willow took a deep, steadying breath, smiled, held out her hand, and in a calm, clear voice said:
"Hi! I'm Tara Maclay. You must be Willow Rosenberg."