Read The Mistletoe Experiment Online

Authors: Serena Yates

Tags: #erotic MM, #Romance MM

The Mistletoe Experiment (10 page)

Only twenty-two to go now!”

“That"s a brilliant idea. I"ve been counting the days in

my head, but seeing them dwindle on paper, like you"ve

done, will be even better.” It would also give him something

to do a little later on.

They chatted for a while. Then Jakob said goodbye so

he could have some time with Lance. The boy was putting on

a brave face, but his eyes looked suspiciously moist when he

turned away and left the study.

“Hey, Magnus.” Lance smiled at him. “How are you

holding out? You look tired.”

“Hi,
älskling
.” Magnus wanted to reach into the screen

to caress Lance, make the recent tightness around his eyes

go away. “I"m okay, just can"t wait to come home. The work

isn"t even as interesting as I seemed to remember. And being

away from you and Jakob is pure torture.”

“I know. We miss you so much.” Lance swallowed. “I"m

sorry the work isn"t even something you want to do, that

must make it worse.”

Magnus nodded.

“All I want is for you to come home.” Lance wiped his

eyes. “I"m sorry. I didn"t want to make you all sad.”

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Serena Yates

75

“It"s okay, Lance. I"m already sad. Being away from my

family does that to me.” Magnus took a deep breath. “In fact,

I can"t take this anymore. I"ve decided that come what may,

this is not going to happen again.”

“It isn"t?” Lance"s eyes widened, hope warring with

doubt. “But what about your job?”


Fuck
the job!” Magnus felt much better having put his

deep feelings into words like that. Foul language had such a

freeing effect sometimes, despite Lance"s shock.

“Do you mean that?” Lance"s expression was so hopeful

that it made Magnus"s heart beat faster.


Yes
, I mean that. There"s always something else I can

do. We don"t need this job financially, and if they"re going to

send me away like this instead of letting me teach at the

university, what"s the point of working for them?” Magnus

shrugged.

“Oh, Magnus.” Lance had tears of joy in his eyes. “I love

you. I can"t wait for you to be back so I can show you.”

“I look forward to it,
älskling
. You don"t know how

much.” Magnus grinned. “Twenty-two days and I"ll be home

to celebrate our reunion. Just focus on that.”

The Mistletoe Experiment |
Serena Yates

76

Chapter Seven

TWO days later Magnus was on his way to Hansbreen glacier

to the east of the station for his weekly measurements. Since

this was a tidewater glacier, ending in the sea instead of on

land, he"d have to be careful not to get too close to the

seaward edge, or he might drop into the freezing water when

the glacier calved.

Trekking across the snow and ice covered ground during

the one hour walk to the glacier itself was pretty strenuous,

but he was glad for the exercise. The polar station, as

comfortable as it was under the circumstances, was feeling

cramped. Ever since his decision to quit his university job as

soon as he returned to Stockholm, he was even more

impatient to leave. Being outside like this was much more to

his liking. In fact, that was the part he"d liked so much

about fieldwork. It was what had initially attracted him to

his previous job as Park Ranger. Being outside was better

even than teaching.

He had a lot of thinking to do about his next job. Just

not right this minute.

He was carrying his ice axe, crampons, enough ice

screws to last two trips, his harness, and several ropes.

Fumio was following behind, and he was an experienced

glacier climber as well. He was in charge of the first aid kit

and the satellite phone, just in case there was an unexpected

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Serena Yates

77

crevasse or shift in the ice flow and they needed to call into

the station for help.

“I don"t like the look of the sky.” Fumio came closer so

they could talk above the strong wind. “That storm is not

going to wait until tomorrow.”

“The weather forecast the other guys do is usually pretty

reliable.” Magnus looked up all the same. There were some

dark clouds on the horizon, but they hadn"t moved much in

the past hour since they"d left the station. They should be

safe.

“Yeah, well, you never know around here. It may be

summer and the weather is supposed to be more stable, but

there are so many factors even meteorologists don"t know

about. Call me a cynic, but weather forecasting is more of an

art than a science. They always leave me with a lot of

skepticism about their reliability.” Fumio was now walking

beside Magnus. “I"d rather trust my instincts.”

“And those instincts are telling you the storm will close

in today?” Magnus shook his head. “That would be a major

problem, with us exposed out here. It might even mess up

our ability to communicate in case of any real problems. Do

you think we should turn back?”

“Nah, what if the storm doesn"t hit? We"ll be the

laughing stock for weeks.” Fumio grinned and slapped

Magnus"s shoulder. “Besides, not getting our weekly

readings will mean an irreplaceable gap in our data. We"ll be

fine.”

Magnus wasn"t so sure. Instincts, like emotions, or so

he had learned, shouldn"t be ignored. He checked the sky

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78

again. Nothing had visibly changed yet, but his hackles were

now up. The last thing he wanted was to run any

unnecessary risks, especially this close to being able to go

home.

They continued on until they reached the landward

edge of the glacier. Putting the crampons onto their heavy

hiking boots, slipping on their harnesses and tying

themselves in were almost automatic activities. But Magnus

had learned early not to switch his brain off while performing

them. His attention needed to be on every single detail,

making sure that not only he was safe, but his climbing

partner as well. Climbing glaciers was no joking matter, and

too many accidents happened because so-called experienced

people became complacent and forgot to watch themselves.

“Okay, are you ready to go?” Fumio tugged their double

ropes one last time.

Magnus nodded and took the lead for the first half hour.

They moved slowly and carefully until they were on the top,

and made a few measurements as they went. Fumio took

over for the second half hour, and they had soon reached the

first marker. Temperature and wind speed were written

down, and a small ice sample was packed into their

insulated bag. As soon as they were done, they went on.

They were both physically fit, and neither felt the need for a

break at this early stage.

Three hours later they had reached the last marker and

quickly completed their tasks for the day. Theoretically this

was the time for a longer break, so they"d be rested for the

long trip back to the station.

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Serena Yates

79

“I think we"d better make it a very short break.” Fumio

pointed upward.

One glance at the darkening sky convinced Magnus that

his colleague was right. Damn, but that storm was moving

toward them a lot faster than he was comfortable with.

“We might want to consider not taking a break at all.”

Magnus was tired from the walking, but not tired enough to

risk exposure to a blizzard.

“I think you"re right. We can always eat the protein bars

while we walk.” Fumio got two out of his backpack before

putting it back on.

Magnus followed his example, and they made good

progress until they"d reached the next marker. The wind had

picked up during the last few minutes. The first few clouds

were now overhead, and not much later, it started snowing.

Fuck!

The snowfall quickly became thick enough for them to

lose visibility. They now had to rely totally on their

compasses. The pace slowed to half their normal speed, and

talking was pretty much impossible, since the howling wind

prevented them from hearing each other. Checking the ropes

regularly to make sure they didn"t lose each other, they

trudged on until they reached the second marker—over an

hour later than they should have.

Magnus briefly debated whether digging themselves in

was a better option than to go on, but the risk of the storm

lasting longer than their ability to keep their body

temperature up was too high. They had to keep going and

hope they could make it.

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80

Fumio"s hand signals confirmed that his colleague

agreed, so they went on.

It was his turn to be in the lead, so he carefully walked

along, checking the thickness of the ice as they approached

the edge of the glacier.

The crevasse came out of nowhere.

One moment Magnus had been walking along, the next

he was crashing into what looked like a very narrow and very

steep hole in the ice. His head hit the wall and, dizzy from

the blow to his brain, he realized the icy cold and sharp pain

in his thigh must mean an icicle or a protruding rock had

penetrated his waterproof snow pants and thermals.

Fuck!

His reflexes, honed by years of training, kicked in, and

he stopped his descent with his ice axe. Fumio pulled on the

ropes at almost the same moment, clearly having found a

hold for his feet so he could counterbalance Magnus"s

weight.

Magnus held onto the axe, trying to recapture his

breath and slow his heartbeat. Panicking now wouldn"t do

him any good at all. He had to stay calm so he could survive

and get out of here, back to Lance and Jakob. That was the

only thought keeping him from escaping the pain by fainting.

LANCE hadn"t heard from Magnus since Monday night when

they"d last exchanged e-mails. It was only Tuesday evening,

but still. Magnus should have been back from his trip to the

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81

glacier by now, and would have normally sent him a message

to let him know that everything was fine.

Lance checked the time again. Ten p.m., when Magnus

usually sent an e-mail around nine. But there could have

been a slight delay during the return trip. He"d been

watching the weather information and there had been talk of

a snowstorm. They wouldn"t have any heavy-duty protection

gear with them for a trip that was supposed to last four or

five hours at most, so any major delay worried him. Still, it

was probably best not to panic—yet.

Lance took a deep breath.

Okay, so the storm had probably delayed their return,

and Magnus had gotten stuck doing cleanup. Or he"d gotten

distracted discussing fascinating weather details with his

colleagues. Maybe the satellite connection was down.

Lance forced himself to lean back on the sofa, switched

on the DVD he wasn"t really interested in watching, and

practiced patience.

At eleven he was done telling himself everything was all

right. There was clearly something wrong. Magnus had never

been quiet for this long after his supposed return time. And

with the freaky weather up there you just never knew. They

would probably laugh at him, but he was going to call the

station. He had to know if Magnus was okay.

His hands were shaking when he dialed the VoIP

number for the polar station. It was the most reliable

communication they had, since a landline was out of the

question at that distance. The pseudo-ring of the phone had

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82

never been louder in his ears. It took a full minute before

someone picked up.

“Polish Polar Station Hornsund here. Wiktor Pokorny

speaking.” The current leader of the expedition sounded

stressed.

At eleven p.m. that was not a good sign.

“Lance Rivera here.” Lance swallowed, not sure how to

continue.

“Ah, Magnus"s partner.” Wiktor sighed.

“Yeah, uhm, could I speak to Magnus, please?” Lance

held his breath.

“Actually, Lance, I was just debating whether to call

you.” Wiktor cleared his throat. “Magnus and his colleague,

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