Mistletoe

DECEMBER 2009

BETWEEN CHAPTER 21 AND 22 IN ARCTIC MELTDOWN

ANDREAS FAGERBEKK

Kristian and I collided in the doorway purely by accident. We grabbed onto each other to keep us both afoot, then stood there awkwardly for a second just blinking and staring.

‘Guys?’ Varg called out from where he sat at the table with a mug of hot chocolate. When we turned to look at him, he motioned at something above us.

Dread curled in my stomach as I looked up. Sure enough, some damn mistletoe had been strung up on the doorframe.

Jonathan started laughing.

Synne, who was mixing some hot chocolate for herself, gave us sympathetic looks. ‘Maybe we should leave the kissing under the mistletoe tradition to those of us who are actually couples?’

That didn’t help any because Kristian and I were a couple. It was only that no one knew—except for Varg and Jonathan, and they were having entirely too much fun with this.

Kristian squeezed past me, hand clamping down on my shoulder and squeezing.

‘Ivan and I can kiss under there when he comes in later,’ Synne continued as she headed over to the table.

We’d finished feeding the dogs and were now having a well-deserved break. I got myself a cup of coffee before I joined them.

‘Everyone should kiss under the mistletoe,’ Varg said. ‘That’s what it’s there for. It’s a tradition.’

I glowered at him. ‘If you try to kiss me under that damn mistletoe, I’ll deck you.’ I was not a fan of these silly Christmas traditions.

My threat only made Varg laugh harder. To the point, he had to put his mug down and bend over. It’s wasn’t that funny. It’s wasn’t funny at all, as a matter of fact.

The door opened, bringing with it a gust of icy air and a flurry of snow. Kristian shook snow off his boots and headed over to fill his cup with new, hot coffee. ‘That’s it for now, guys.’ He sat down next to me. ‘We feed them again later, but otherwise, today is a day for rest. We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled life in two days. First trip of the new year.’

The two of us were scheduled for that. I looked forward to getting out into the wilderness with tourists again. Showing them the wonderful land that was Svalbard. There was no better job in the whole world, and after the disaster of a Christmas we’d had, it felt good to go back to normal again.

Now we just had to get through New Year’s Eve and the first of January, and then we’d be game.

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