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A white soggy blanket hit me. I sputtered and cleared snow from my eyes. Mason was already armed with another ice missile. I laughed and ducked as he launched it. The snowball hit a tree behind me with a wet slap. I gathered up more snow, not bothering to pack it, and threw, aiming for his smug face. But my aim was off because he was suddenly right there, close enough to circle me with his arms and trap me against the tree.
Snow dripped in my eyes, but I couldn’t look away from the intensity in his gaze. He licked drops from his lips and gently wiped slush off my cheek. Then leaned in and kissed me. The tip of my cold nose butted against his warm cheek. Ice melted between us, dripping down my chin as his kiss deepened. His tongue lightly brushed mine, making me wish there weren’t so many layers of clothing between us.
My hands roved up his arms to the soft place where his hair curled at his nape, so I felt it when he suddenly stiffened.
He pulled away and cocked his head.
“Do you hear that?”
Still caught up in the heat of his kiss, I heard nothing but the rushing of my own blood.
Mason stood back. Something rumbled in the distance, too steady to be thunder.
“Avalanche?” I said.
Mason shook his head, not in denial, but in perplexity. We weren’t in the mountains, so an avalanche was absurd, but that’s what it sounded like, and this was the Inbetween. Anything was possible.
Then I keened the rush of magic coming our way like a flash flood barreling through a dry culvert. Hundreds, maybe thousands of souls on the run all at once.
I saw the moment realization hit Mason too.
“Stampede.” He was already dragging me up another small ridge. The noise grew until the forest trembled.