Snowed In!

by Peter Conrad

Part 3


Well, that was a surprise, Fabian's father himself had played the riding messenger! And he had really brought a lot, the baskets were full of fine things to eat, even sweets for the kids were not forgotten.

Reiko, could you and Jasmin stow the food and distribute the clothing packages to the kids?"

I looked at Fabian, who was standing around with his cell phone in his hand.

No problem, and what are you doing?"

I'm going to make up the rest of the beds with Jonas."

Ah yes. With Jonas. Alone in the bedroom. Not suspicious at all!

Whatever you say. What about the cell phone? It's going to ring soon, isn't it?"

I'll take care of it."

The budding educator had spoken, hugh! Jasmin took Fabian's cell phone and put it on the counter, and now while the two bed-makers disappeared into the back rooms, we stowed the delivered food in the kitchen cabinets as well as in the storage room. I was surprised, either Fabian had known exactly what to order, or the suppliers had known exactly what we would need out here. I was especially happy about the fresh food, without it we would not have starved, but the menu would have been very limited.

Soon the baskets were empty, only a box of milk cartons still needed to be stowed away.

Reiko, can you get the milk into the storage room by yourself? Then I'll make sure the kids all get the right clothes bags."

That's what you get for being a guy, always having to do the heavy hauling. But well, as a true gentleman I would have done that anyway.

So I carried the milk to the storage room, and when I arrived back in the living room, Jasmin and the kids were already rummaging through the two large plastic bags, which contained smaller bags of clothes. Fortunately, there were name tags everywhere, so the distribution went quickly and smoothly. One thing struck me, though.

Jasmin, where is Patrick?"

At that moment, the engine of the snowmobile started outside, and shortly thereafter the sound moved away from the cabin rather quickly.

He went out with Fabian's dad, I think he tried to persuade him to take him back to the Inn on the snowmobile."

I wondered if he had succeeded, I really didn't think so, though. I went to the window and looked out, and there stood Patrick like a heap of misery in the snow.

Mr. Roecker didn't take him, Jasmin."

I would have been surprised if he did."

Do you want me to bring him in? I don't want him to freeze out there."

No, leave him there, maybe he'll cool down a bit."

Wouldn't that be nice? I rather didn't give myself false hopes, but well, as long as he was out there, he couldn't spread a bad mood in here. That already was worth something.

At that moment, the cell phone rang, which must have been the long-awaited call from our protégé's parents. Jasmin answered it, and I quickly told the kiddies.

Listen, you can all talk to your parents now."

Me first!"


Manuela, the order is based on what they agreed on at the hotel, so please don't fight over who gets to go first. Everyone will have a turn, you've already waited so long, a few more minutes don't really matter now, right ? "

They seemed to get that, at least they all nodded in agreement.

Ricarda? Come on, you're first, it's your mom's turn."


Ricarda jumped up, took the cell phone from Jasmin and ducked into the armchair in the far corner of the room with it. Jasmin came over to me.

I agreed with the officer that no one should talk for more than five minutes, otherwise this is going to be an evening filling event."

Good idea. We could have another collective call like this tomorrow evening, it's certainly better than hours of single phone calls."

While Ricarda talked with her parents, I took care of the dishes with Jasmin. Actually, some of the kids were supposed to do the dishes, but they were a bit too excited at the moment and only thought about being able to talk to their parents. Oh well. Fortunately it wasn't too much work.

Second on the phone was Manuela, who now replaced Ricarda, at the end of her five minutes, Patrick finally reappeared in the cabin, just at the right moment, because when she noticed him, Manuela called him over.

Patrick, it's your turn, your parents are on the phone!"

Shoulders drooping, he trudged over to her and grabbed the cell phone.

Yes? "

That didn't sound very enthusiastic. He listened for a while, then took advantage of his parents' first pause in talking to get a few words in himself.

Yeah, I'm fine. Bye!"

With these words, he pushed the cell phone into my hand, from which the stunned chatter of a woman could be heard. Jasmin stared at him angrily.

Alright, young man, if you don't want to talk to your parents anymore, then you can take off your warm clothes right now!"

Yeah yeah, alright!"

Not alright! Immediately, and make it fast! I've had enough of your behavior!"

Patrick seemed to want to say something, but then stopped himself. Better for him, I guess.

By the way, there in the blue bag are the things your parents sent for you. At least you could have thanked them for that!"

Patrick grabbed the bag and walked off, probably not wanting to irritate Jasmin even more.

I'll go change in the bathroom."

Off he went, and I decided that at least I should have a quick word with his parents.

Hello? Is anyone from Patrick's parents still on the line?"

Yes, I'm Mr. Bolke, Patrick's father."

Great. Reiko Heilmann speaking. I'm sorry, but it looks like your son is not in the mood to talk to you at the moment. Or to talk to anyone at all."

I heard a deep sigh.

Yeah, we picked up on that. What's wrong with that boy, he never used to be like that! He was always sweet and nice, but for the last two months he's been downright rebellious."

Patrick sweet and nice? I really couldn't imagine that at the moment.

We just don't know what to do with him anymore."

That's wonderful. Something went wrong at home, and now we had to pay for it.

We can only hope that he won't cause you too much trouble in the next few days."

That remained to be seen, but I had already decided to have a very serious word with him if things got too much out of hand.

We'll see, he's definitely going to have to pull himself together a bit here."

Again, a deep sigh was heard through the phone.

We know that. We just want to ask that you still take good care of him. I can only say it again: this is not the normal, not the real Patrick you see there right now."

Well, we'll see…"

Okay, let's not keep the other parents waiting any longer. Felix Schoen's parents are next."

Alright, I'll pass the phone on now. Have a good day."

Same to you. Bye."

I heard the phone being passed on, so I guess I should do the same now.

Felix? You're up!"


The little redhead came whizzing up and literally snatched the phone out of my hand. With him, I probably didn't have to worry that he'd only talk to his parents in a single sentence, so I could turn my attention back to other things. Fabian and Jonas had just come out of the back of the cabin, holding their snowsuits in their hands to take them back to the storage room to dry.

What's gotten into Patrick now? He rushed past us without a word and locked himself in the bathroom!"

Faby, he tried to talk your dad into taking him back to the Inn on the snowmobile."

Why do I get the funny feeling that he didn't succeed?"

I had to laugh, even though the whole Patrick story wasn't exactly funny.

Hehe, how did you ever figure that out!"

Well, Tom always was and still is the only one who can wrap our dad around his little finger in such a way that he fulfils his every wish."

Oh yes, I remembered that from the old days! Well, it wasn't that Mr. Roecker totally preferred his younger son, but as the runt of the litter Tom had always had a tiny bit more freedom than his big brother. Fabian always had to take on a little more responsibility, had to play the role model a little more.

Fabian looked around the living room.

I see you guys got quite a bit done."

We really had, by now the dishes were completely washed and put away again, the supplies were also well stocked, the kids had picked up their packages of clothes and were on the parental conference call.

Yes, we've been busy."

Jasmin smiled challengingly at her brother and my best friend.

I just hope you did what you had to do in the bedroom! There are some things that can really distract you from doing your work…"

To say that Fabian and Jonas' heads were now turning the color of ripe tomatoes would have passed as the understatement of the year!


Really, that challenging look from Reiko, when I announced that I was going to prepare the beds together with Jonas! I wondered what he was thinking now.

We went to the master bedroom first, after all, that's where the closet with all the bedding was.

Jonas, I hope you don't mind that Reiko and I put you and your sister to work like this."

The hotel trainee smiled at me.

Nah, that's all right. If we hadn't gotten lost, you would have had comfortable days here and not such a stress as now. It's only fair and logical that we help as much as we can."

That was one way to look at it.

Well then, let's go, first we'll make up the two beds here, then we'll go over to the other bedroom."

Okay, but first we'd better get out of those warm clothes again."

Right. We had already taken off our boots when we entered the cabin, but Jonas was still wearing thickly lined dungarees and a matching jacket, and I was wearing my equally warm one piece snowsuit. We once more freed ourselves from these, and while doing that I noticed again what a well-toned body hid itself under the skin-tight thermal underwear of Jonas.

Say, Jonas…"

Yes? "

Do you do any sports?"

Yes, I play tennis and squash. Why do you ask?"

Because it shows on your body…"

Ohoh, hopefully that hadn't been too direct now.

Does it?"

Jonas surveyed himself in the large mirror attached to one of the closet doors.

Yes, you can clearly see that. You have a great body!"

Could someone please tie a knot in my tongue?

But Jonas seemed pleased with the compliment, turning to me smiling.

Well, Faby, you don't need to hide yourself either!"

I disagreed completely, though.

Oh come on, I'm nothing compared to you, a total wimp."

Bullshit! Come here!"

Jonas pulled me towards him, stood behind me and turned me to face the mirror.

Go on, look at yourself."

I turned my head away instead.

You're supposed to look in the mirror, stupid!"

Jonas turned my head in the direction he wanted.

Well, what do you see?"

Well, what did I see? An absolutely average guy. Rather a bit thinner than average, if you looked closer you could even see my ribs. All in all, really no model material.

I see a great looking guy trying to hide behind a skinny skeleton."

Faby, you're a dumbass. I think you're cute! Okay, you could use a few more pounds on your ribs, but if you come visit me at the Stone Valley Inn once in a while, I'll make sure the chef fattens you up a bit."

I leaned back into him, held by Jonas' strong arms.

You want me to come visit you at work?"

That would be too good to be true.

Yes, Faby, I would love that."

His hands gently stroked my chest, it was just wonderful…

Because I really like you, Faby…"

It was getting better and better!

And now…"

Yes? Now what?

… now I guess we should start preparing the beds!"

With these words he grabbed me, lifted me up and threw me onto the double bed. Which probably proved once and for all that Jonas was strong and I was a lightweight.


Hehe, remember, work first, then the pleasure!"

I was really looking forward to the pleasure now, even if I would probably have to wait a while for it.

How are we supposed to prepare the bed if you throw me on it?"

If necessary, I'll just roll you out of it."

Oh, well I didn't really want to take that risk, so I quickly rose from the bed again and went to the closet with the bedding, where I pulled out four complete sets of sheets, pillowcases and comforter covers.

Well come on then, slave driver, let's get to it."

The two of us working together made sure that we were done quickly, so that after a few minutes we could already move over to the other bedroom, where we also made short work of the double bed there.

What do you think should we do about the sleeping arrangement? Who do you want to put where?"

You here with me in the double bed, everything else wasn't important…

Of course I didn't say that out loud! It's kind of strange, I was usually never particularly reserved towards cute guys, but now that I had one in front of me for the first time from whom I knew that he was also gay and apparently felt at least a little bit for me, suddenly all my flirting skills and all my courage were gone.

I'm not sure yet, some of the kids will definitely have to sleep in sleeping bags. Maybe in the master bedroom or even in the living room. We'll have to figure it out together later."


Silently we did the final touches, then the second bedroom was also prepared, and we went back to the big one to get our snowsuits. When we were over there, however, Jonas closed the door once more.

Fabian? "

Hm, what was he suddenly so serious about?

Yes? "

I hope I wasn't too direct earlier…"

What do you mean?"

Well… It's like this… Right when I first saw you in front of the caravan this morning, I fell for you a little bit. And then, when you told me that you were gay too, I wanted to do a happy dance."

Those sentences could have been mine.

And… Well… Faby, I like you. A lot, actually. I know this is all happening pretty damn fast, but I can't help the way I feel! I'd like to get to know you better, become your friend, and then maybe become a little more than your friend. You know?"

Wow, Jonas was brave enough to say out loud what I so far only dared to dream.

But I just know so little about you, I don't even know if you already have a boyfriend! Then my advances would be completely out of line."

Oh, on that topic I should probably calm him down very quickly! Not that he suddenly stopped with his advances! I had to prevent that.

Jonas? Look at me, please."

He had delivered his whole speech with his eyes lowered to the floor, now he timidly raised his head again and looked me in the eyes.

Jonas, I like you too. I thought you were kind of cute, attractive, sweet from the first moment I saw you, too."

A hopeful smile played on Jonas' lips.

And you don't have to worry, I don't have a boyfriend waiting somewhere for me to come home to him."

Jonas relaxed more and more, and that made his face even cuter.

What I'm saying is, I'd like to get to know you better too, to become your friend, and then maybe a little more than your friend."


Honestly. And one more thing."


Don't you dare!"

Completely puzzled, Jonas looked at me.

Huh? "

Don't you dare stopping to make advances!"

Understanding spread across his face.

Hehe! Good! I just didn't want you to feel pressured by it in any way. If it is okay for you, I can move on."

Jonas grinned mischievously.

It is very much okay for me. Because I think I'm a little too chicken for doing that myself right now."

If Reiko could see me now! Me, the big flirt, he wouldn't be able to stop laughing!

Okay, I promise you, I won't stop!"

That's what I wanted to hear.

But now I guess we should get back to the others, right?"

I had to agree with him on that one, unfortunately.

You're right. Let's go then."

We grabbed our snowsuits and left the bedroom. Still in the doorway, Jonas stopped short, and I walked into him.

What's wrong ? "

I almost forgot something!"

What is it?"


The next moment I felt his lips on my left cheek, but only for a short, fleeting moment, then Jonas went on as if nothing had happened, while I almost jumped for joy! It took me a second to regain my composure, then I followed him out of the bedroom.

On the way to the living room Patrick came rushing towards us, pushed past us without a word and disappeared into the bathroom. Shortly after, we heard the key turn in the lock.

If you ask me, Jonas, this kid has some kind of major problem."

Looks like it. But as long as he's always silent or grumbling, we won't be able to figure it out."

I shrugged my shoulders. Couldn't be helped for the time being, I guess. We went further into the living room, where Felix was on the phone. I asked Reiko what had gotten into Patrick again, and got the explanation. Well, I could have told him before that he would not be successful with begging my dad to take him back to the Inn.

Afterwards, I praised the fact that so much work had been done, and Jasmin confirmed that they had all been diligent. Then, however, she shot off a remark that I was not in the least bit prepared for.

I just hope you did what you had to do in the bedroom! There are some things that can really distract you from doing your work…"

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Jonas' chin drop as well. My God, she couldn't have known what had gone on between us while we were alone! Or could she?


I only had to take one look at the couple with the bright red heads in front of me to know that there was more going on than just setting up beds. I had suspected it, Fabian the old charmer could not resist the temptation to make a pass at Jonas.

The two didn't comment but quickly went into the storage room to hang up their snowsuits. When they came back, the cell phone just changed to Christoph, who was now the last to talk to his parents. Jonas and Fabian sat down at the bar, while I went to the two-seater, in which Jasmin had already settled down.

Is this seat free?"

Go ahead, sit down."

I didn't need to be told twice. Manuela and Ricarda were sitting on the big couch, and Felix had taken one of the armchairs. Everyone looked pretty tired.

The kids are all pretty beat, aren't they, Jasmin?"

Of course they are. I am, too. Even your cute dog seems to be completely wiped out."

I had noticed that too, Arko was curled up in front of the fireplace and hadn't moved for ages. Frolicking in the snow and playing with the kids had apparently driven him to total exhaustion.

Right. That's not so bad, it gives us a break from him."

Arko usually wanted to be kept busy somehow all the time.

Silence returned to the cabin, except for Christoph on the phone, no one spoke, everyone dozed off. I was a bit startled when the boy brought the phone to Fabian.

Here, thank you so much for letting us use the phone."

No problem, Chris. Is the call over or is there anyone else on the line?"

They hung up, but told us to leave it on."

Okay, we'll do that."

I assumed that later in the day my parents would also call again. Christoph came over and sat in the second chair.

Eh, that's my seat, get out of there!"

I didn't really need to look up to see who was doing the honors again. Christoph probably didn't feel like arguing, he got up and joined the girls on the couch, whereupon Patrick threw himself into the vacated armchair.

My God, Patrick, you're really doing everything you can to make a fool of yourself!"

Hm, what did Jasmin mean now? I looked at our problem teenager and immediately realized what Jasmin was getting at. The boy sat there in T-shirt and jeans! He had actually changed completely and was now the only one in the cabin who was in normal outer clothing. But somehow I had no desire at all to deal with it now. Besides, Fabian started talking.

Now that we're all together again and the phone call is over for the time being, we should talk about the sleeping arrangements."

Good idea. I'd love to have the small bedroom with the double bed, for Jasmin and me!

The thing is, there are 9 of us, but we only have 6 beds available. One double bed and two twin beds in the big bedroom, one double bed in the small bedroom."

And how are we all going to fit in there?"

Fabian explained that there were also some sleeping bags available, which was met with enthusiasm especially by Christoph and Felix. But the girls also seemed to like this idea.

I'll take a sleeping bag! You too, Felix?"

The tween agreed.

Great, that already brings us one step further. It's best if you set up the sleeping bags here in the living room, it's not so cold and you have plenty of room."

Come on, Manuela, we'll take sleeping bags too and sleep with the boys in the living room."

I don't know about that…"

Well, Manuela was the youngest, her hesitation was understandable. Maybe I could throw in a little bonus.

That's nice that you sleep here, that way Arko is not so alone at night."

Arko sleeps here too?"

That had piqued Manuela's interest, and my lazy tailwagger raised up his ears, too.


Then I want to sleep here too!"

There you go. While Arko now rose and trudged over to the kids on the couch, I looked at Fabian, who grinned and gave me a thumbs up. If that wasn't teamwork. All that was left was our problem child, who now also spoke up.

I want a room for myself!"

What had we done to deserve that, what had we done to piss off the good Lord like that?

Okay, okay, you can have the small bedroom! Let's us older folks just split into the big one, there are four beds in there."

If you counted the double bed as two beds. I wondered who would end up in it? In any case, Fabian had chosen the easy way out and let Patrick have his way. That certainly saved us some arguing, but I could only hope that the annoying brat didn't believe that it would always work like that.

I talked a bit more with Jasmin, who was less and less able to stifle her yawns as time went on. A quick glance around the room showed me that most of the others felt the same way. Of the kids, only Felix was still leafing through the Harry Potter book I had forgotten to put away, the three on the couch were half on top of each other and had long since fallen asleep, and even Patrick had dozed off in his chair, looking as if he couldn't do anything wrong. What a little devil in disguise he was. I turned to the person sitting next to me.

Would you like to lie down in bed for a while? You're about to fall asleep anyway, and I guarantee a bed will be more comfortable than this."

Jasmin looked at me gratefully.

I think that would be a really good idea. I barely slept last night."

I would have been very surprised if it had been any other way.

Okay, I'll just let Fabian and your brother know, and I'll show you where to lie down."

I rose and walked over to the counter where the two boys were talking quietly.

Jasmin's about to fall asleep, so I suggested she take a nap for a while."

Sounds reasonable. Jonas, would you like that too?"

Nah, thanks, I'll be fine if I can sit down a little more comfortably."

You might as well have the two-seater, I'll find a bed in the back too."

Fabian raised his eyebrows, I wonder what he was imagining now, hehe!

I walked back to Jasmin and could literally feel Fabian's grin at my back.

Come on, let's go."

She rose, and I led her into the large bedroom, where, yes, all the beds were ready for use by now.

Now you have to make a choice."

Are you staying here, too?"

What did she want now, for me to stay or for me to leave her alone? Let's just give it a try.

I was actually planning on lying down for a bit, too."

Jasmin walked over to the single bed in which Fabian had spent last night. Too bad. But oh well. I didn't want to rush into anything, and so far I had no clue if she had any increased interest in me at all.

So what else could I do, I made myself comfortable in my bed from last night.

Have a good rest then, Jasmin."

Thanks. I really need that now. Hopefully the two boys over there can handle the little ones on their own."

Don't worry, they're all asleep anyway, they're at least as tired as you are."

Well, I don't know if it's fair that we're so comfortable here, and they're squatting on that weird double chair."

I had to grin a little at the image of the two rather tall boys on the upholstered furniture. On the other hand…

They'll be comfortable, you can count on it."

Jasmin laughed softly to herself.

True, you're probably right. They make a cute couple, don't you think?"

Do you think they're a couple now?"

Well, from the way they were blushing earlier, I'd bet on it."

Well, that was fast. But with Fabian I wasn't really surprised. Although… I had just learned that his reputation in this respect was anything but deserved. Well, anyway. If the two of them would become a couple, then I would be happy for Faby.

Could be true, Jasmin."

I waited a moment, but got no response, so I looked over at her bed. Lo and behold, she was already fast asleep. In the middle of a conversation with me! I guess that should give me some time for thinking.


My eyes followed Reiko and Jasmin, as they moved in the direction of the bedroom. I wondered if something was brewing between the two of them. I would be happy for Reiko, but there were some problems. Jasmin would go back to Saxony after the holidays, and I had no idea if Reiko would be able to cope with that. I guess one could only wait and hope for the best. Luckily, I didn't have these problems with Jasmin's big brother!

Jonas, go ahead and make yourself comfortable, I'm just going to check on the fire again."

Okay, but hurry up or I'll be asleep before you get to me."

Well, I really couldn't let that happen, so I quickly added two more logs, then went to the two-seater, where Jonas had already spread himself out so much that there was no room left for me. His head was resting on one of the armrests, his back was against the backrest, and his legs were hanging over the other armrest. Questioningly, I looked at him.

And what about me?"

He grinned cheekily at me and raised his left arm invitingly. Ah, yes. Cuddling was what the gentleman wanted. All right, he could have that. Gladly even! Carefully I settled down in front of him, his strong arms moved me into position so that my back came to rest on his chest, his left arm encircled my torso and pulled me even closer to him, then I felt him relax behind me.

Is it okay like that, Faby?"

I wouldn't complain!

Yup. I hope I don't crush you."

No problem, I like it cozy like this. Okay, I'm going to try to get some sleep for a while."

Then sleep tight and have sweet dreams."

I'll dream about you, there's nothing better."

Oh God, I could learn something from his flirtations! When I get a chance, maybe I should ask him about his past experiences in terms of love and relationship.

I was also tired, but quickly took a look around the room, as good as it was possible from my current position. Patrick was sleeping peacefully in his armchair - what a blessing! The girls and Christoph had arranged themselves on the couch and seemed to slumber as well, even Arko had squeezed in. Only Felix sat in the remaining armchair and browsed through a book. As if he had sensed that I was looking at him, he looked up and in my direction. I wondered how the view of Jonas and me affected him. Was it wise to show us off so freely in front of the kids? We should have thought about that before…

But Felix just grinned and turned back to the book, at least he didn't seem to have any problems with it. That was a good start.

In my neck I felt the steady breaths of Jonas, a clear sign that he was already asleep. Knowing that everything was alright in the cabin and that I was in safe hands, I could now close my eyes and drift off into dreamland, too.

When I woke up again, the flames in the fireplace were the only light that illuminated the room. I was still cuddled up close to Jonas, but his left hand had meanwhile landed on my thigh. Unfortunately I had to go to the bathroom, so I had to free myself from this comfortable position. Very carefully, so as not to wake up my still fast asleep friend, I lifted his hand off me and worked my way into an upright position. I looked around in the room and noticed that now all children were asleep, only Arko had noticed my movements and looked at me with his large brown eyes. I realized that he might need a bathroom break, too.

So I got up, and before I went to the bathroom myself, I first went to the door of the cabin and opened it a little. When the dog noticed this, he jumped off the couch in one big leap and dashed outside.

I closed the door again so that not too much heat could escape, and quickly did my own business in the bathroom. Arriving back at the cabin door, Arko was already waiting for me, tail wagging, to be let in, so I took him in with the bath towel at the ready. Fortunately this was done quickly, he hadn't been able to catch much snow in the short time he was outside, although it seemed to be snowing quite heavily again now.

The cabin really offered a beautiful, peaceful view. If only it would stay like this for the next few days, but I could probably forget about that. I briefly considered whether I should lie down again, but then decided against it. I was in the mood for something to drink, so I put on water for a tea.

As I was working at the kitchen counter, I didn't notice anyone joining me, so I was a bit startled when I was suddenly approached from the side.

Are you making tea? Can I have one too?"

Gee, Jasmin, do you have to scare me like that!"

Sorry, it's all so quiet and peaceful here, I didn't want to announce myself by waking everyone up."

I guess she also wanted to preserve this state of peace as long as possible.

Sure you can get some tea. Did you catch some sleep?"

Yes, it was wonderful, just what I needed. But now I'm awake and fit again."

I should hope so, we still have a few hours to get through until the kiddies are all in bed."

Jasmin looked around the room.

I don't think they'll need much more attention today. They'll be ready for the sleeping bags after dinner, despite the nap now."

That would be very nice, but I didn't really dare to hope for it yet.

This is Christmas tea, would you like some lemon or sugar?"

No, thanks, I'll drink it pure."

Whatever you say."

I slid Jasmin her glass across the counter and scooped two spoonfuls of sugar into my own glass, followed by a squeeze of lemon, then walked around the counter and sat on the bar stool next to her. Silently we busied ourselves with our drinks, which were still so hot that we could only drink with mini sips.

Fabian? "

Yes? "

Be honest, please: is there something going on between my brother and you?"

What a loaded question.

I hope so, Jasmin. Right from the first moment I thought: wow! What a guy! And in the last few hours of getting to know him a little, I've noticed that he doesn't just have a hot body. Honestly, I have a crush on him, and it's pretty intense. And I really hope that something will come from it."

She took a deep breath in and out.

That's what I was afraid of."

Afraid? "

I looked at her questioningly.

Well, it's just all happening really fast with you guys, isn't it? I mean, I've been watching Jonas for the last few hours too, and he's at least as smitten with you as you are with him. Even if maybe you haven't told it each other that clearly yet."

Thoughtfully, I eyed the little sister, who didn't seem much like a little sister at all.

We've started telling each other that. Earlier in the bedroom, we decided that we wanted to get to know each other better. Much better, if possible."

So you're together now."

I thought back to how good and right it felt in Jonas's arms, how the touch of his hands had electrified me and his brief kiss on the cheek had nearly catapulted me through the ceiling. I was just setting to answer her question in the affirmative when I was relieved of that task.

Yes, sis, we are. Although I still have to teach my Faby not to just sneak away from my arms."

Jonas bent down between us, and I got the second kiss of my life. Well, except for those of my parents when I was a little kid, but they don't count in this anyway.

Jasmin giggled softly to herself.

Ha, young love… Just be glad Patrick didn't see that, he'd be jumping in a triangle again."

You know what, Jasmin? I couldn't care less about Patrick, if he doesn't like the fact that I love your brother, then he can jump off the edge of the carpet!"

That's the spirit, Fabian! Okay, you two, I wish you good luck together, I'm really happy for you that you found each other."

Even more so under such conditions, fate must have been working overtime to bring us together right here in this wilderness.

Do you have a glass of tea for me too, dear? Otherwise, I'm afraid I'd have to drink yours…"

Ha! I may be skinny and weak, but when it comes to grub, I'll defend it with any means at my disposal."

Jasmin, isn't he cute, my little boy ? "

That's right, bro, he is."

Hmph. So I was his little boy. Well, well, that came purely from him being slightly taller. And even slightly older! Oh dear…

It's okay, I'll make you your own glass of tea. Sit down."

Jonas took a seat on the third bar stool, and I poured him a glass of tea. Fortunately, I had prepared some more of it right away. Once he was served, I sat back down with the two siblings.

Have you thought about what else you want to do today?"

No, Jonas, but at least we have already determined that not much more is going to happen. It's almost six now, we'll make dinner later and feed the wild anima…kids, and then we'll see. It's not going to be a long evening tonight, that's for sure."

That's good. I'm not quite as tired now as I was earlier, but I'd still like to get to bed as early as possible tonight."

Together with me. PLEASE!

Okay, then I suggest that we start with the dinner preparations."

What if the kids wake up from the noise, Jasmin?"

We'll have to wake them up soon anyway."

Agreed again.

Well, let's go…"


I love being kissed awake! Really, there's hardly anything better, is there? That could only be Jasmin, otherwise there was no one else here with us who would do that.

But wait a minute. Something was wrong here! That didn't really feel like a kiss anymore! I tore open my eyes, just in time to see how a long dog's tongue started to lick across my face! Startled, I jerked back.

Arko, off!"


A happy laugh rang out from the direction of the bedroom door, through which the only light fell into the bedroom.


We came to wake you up, dinner will be ready soon."

I looked at the clock, almost six thirty.

You were smiling so blissfully in your sleep when Arko started slobbering all over you. What were you dreaming about then? Me?"

Um… Yes, you… What made you think that?"

Awww how sweet. Now get your butt out of bed, you still have to feed your dog."

I really should do that before he started begging all around the kids. That they could resist his brown eyes, I dared to doubt.

Okay, I'm coming."

Good, but you better really do! If I have to come back again to wake you up, it's not going to be such a wet and happy event."

I wondered if Jasmin had been a drill sergeant in a previous life. In any case, she had the correct command tone. She disappeared out of the doorway, and Arko dashed out as well. Abandoned by my own dog, seriously!

I got up and followed them into the living room, where the table was already set for dinner. The children were in various stages of waking up, accompanied by the soft Christmas music from the radio. In addition to the fire in the fireplace, electric lights now illuminated the room.

Good evening, sir. Back among the living, too?"

I yawned heartily.

Yes, Faby. Someone has to feed Arko."

When the dog heard his name, he immediately stood beside me and looked up at me, tail wagging.

Yeah yeah, you mutt, you're about to get some food! Fabian, where do you have the can opener?"

He handed it to me, and I filled Arko's food bowl. Filling the bowl didn't take long, but I knew it would take Arko not even half the time to get it empty again. In fact, he ravenously pounced on his food after I put it with his water bowl. Ah yes. Being a dog definitely had its advantages. You get your food put in front of you, you get petted and cuddled by everyone, someone else even pays the taxes for you!

Come on, Reiko, we can get started too."

Dinner went peacefully and very quietly, some of the kids were still so tired that they almost fell asleep while eating. They probably wouldn't last long tonight. Which was just fine with me.

Listen up, everyone, please. When we're done eating, we need to split up a bit. A few of you please help clear away and wash up. The first one is getting in the shower, you know we have to heat up some water in between, so it's going to take us all a while to get through it."

I hadn't even thought of that. Nine people showering one after the other? Now that could be fun!

Whoever's finished showering then puts on their nightwear right away, it's not worth slipping into the day's clothes again."

Strangely, there was no grumbling about it at all.

Reiko, could you go with Jasmin to get the sleeping bags from the storage room?"

I looked at Jasmin, who was back at the dining table with the kids. She nodded at me.

No problem."

Good. Are you all fed now? Great, let's do it!"

Just a minute!"

Yes, Jasmin?"

The shower stall is pretty big, so actually two of the kids could shower together. That would certainly be beneficial for water consumption, wouldn't it?"

I thought that was a very good idea, and Fabian was probably also annoyed that he hadn't thought of it himself.

Yes, that would work out nicely! It would certainly save us half an hour to a whole hour, which would otherwise be spent on waiting for warm water in between."

Good, then that's settled, too. Manuela and Ricarda, you go first, please. But really just wash and rinse quickly, don't dawdle, please remember that the next ones are already waiting."

The two girls nodded and disappeared to get their washing and sleeping things. Fabian called after them that there were towels in the bathroom closet.

Okay, Reiko, let's go, the sleeping bags will not come out of the storage room by themselves!"

Like I said, drill sergeant! I followed Jasmin into the storage room, where we pulled out four sleeping bags from a shelf.

We should take a look at them right here to make sure they're okay. Not that we're bringing them into the living room for nothing."

We rolled up the sleeping bags and inspected them. One actually had a broken zipper, but luckily there was another intact one on the shelf.

Oh, by the way, Reiko?"

Yes? "

Jonas and Fabian are together now."

Ha! So Flirting Fabian had struck. Although. When I looked at him, he seemed to be rather tame and shy in the presence of Jonas.

How do you know?"

I asked them, and they admitted it."

So, what do you think of it?"

What am I supposed to think about it? I'm happy for my brother, and I hope it's going to be something real and permanent with the two of them."

I would be happy for Fabian, too. But it wouldn't be easy, after all - if I was to believe him, and I actually did - it was his very first relationship ever. Hashtag first relationship…

Has Jonas had a boyfriend before?"

Yes, there were two boys at home in the last few years, with whom he was together for a while. Not at the same time, one after the other! Why do you ask?"

Because it's Fabian's first time."

Jasmin's head, which had just been bent over one of the sleeping bags, jerked upward. Incredulous, she looked at me.


Yes. I found it hard to believe at first, too, but it's true."

Well, I'm flabbergasted! I wouldn't have expected that, given his looks. Plus, he's so nice and friendly."

Well… You know what I noticed about him?"

No, shoot."

Since meeting Jonas, his behavior has changed quite a bit."

What do you mean?"

Well, usually Fabian flirts with anything that has some facial hair and is between 15 and 25 years old. You know, like little quips and double entendres in conversation and stuff. Towards Jonas, on the other hand: nothing like that is happening."

Thoughtfully, Jasmin looked at me.

And what do you conclude from that?"

Well, that was an interesting question. How should I evaluate this change?

I don't really know. How about a kind of reverse conclusion? Up to now, he's been flirting around all the time, has been very offensive, but it's never really been serious. Towards Jonas all these superficial shenanigans are missing, maybe that's a sign that Fabian is really serious about him? "

Hmm… That would be an explanation, of course. And now that you mention it, I notice a change in Jonas, too. He's usually more the one who waits for the other to make the first move. But when I look at the two of them together, it looks like my dear brother is taking the initiative this time."

Kind of funny. The two meet, and promptly a total transformation happens to them.

What about those relationships your brother had before?"

I guess I should still find out. Not that I would have to protect Fabian from Jonas in the end! Even if it didn't seem like it at the moment, I wanted to make sure my best friend didn't get hurt.

Jasmin pondered.

Good question. I can only go by what I've witnessed myself, but I'd say it wasn't the great love both times. I mean, it wasn't like they were constantly squatting together and couldn't live without the other, sometimes they didn't see each other for days or even weeks."

How did the relationships fall apart?"

Well the one boy, Martin, moved to Hamburg with his parents. Jonas was a little depressed for a while, but not really for long. Well, he was 15 at the time. Then it was quiet on the relationship front for a while, until Jan came along. And then that ended with the big family fight because our parents found out."

Was it very bad?"

Bad… I'm not sure if bad is a big enough word to describe it. It was a really nasty situation, too. Our dad had come home from work early and surprised the two of them in the middle of having sex. There was a huge ruckus that ended with Jonas getting kicked out on his 18th birthday and staying with a school friend for the remaining months until he graduated high school."

And Jan? Is that why things fell apart?"

Yes, our parents were blabbing all over the place about what a pervert their former son was. They didn't know Jan, so they couldn't out him, but the poor guy couldn't handle all the pressure. Everyone now knew that my brother was gay, so of course Jan couldn't be seen with him anymore without giving himself away. So the two of them broke up."

Poor Jonas. First his own parents disown him, and then the relationship falls apart because of it."

Well, the relationship ending didn't hit him that hard. He told me later that the sex had been cool, but otherwise they didn't have much in common."

Ouch, gay sex, I really didn't want to think about that.

And you think it could be different with Fabian?"

Well, it looks like it to me, Jonas has never looked at Martin or Jan in such an amorous and dreamy way. At least not in my presence."

That means you knew your brother was gay before your parents found out ? "

Yes, when the thing with Martin was going on, I saw them making out once, so I asked Jonas about it later. He confessed it to me, and that was it."

Hm, Jonas probably had practice in letting other people catch him exchanging intimacies.

Hey you two, are you coming back soon, or are you going to try out the sleeping bags together right away?"

Great, that was Fabian as I knew him - and how he did NOT behave towards Jonas! With a cheeky grin, he pulled his head back out of the door of the storage room and left us alone again.

He's right, we should get a move on."

So we grabbed the sleeping bags and took them into the living room, where we found an orderly mess.


Well what did you expect me to think, when Reiko and a girl stayed together in one room for such a long time, hehe. I mean, we are talking about Reiko Heilmann here, THE girl crush of the area par excellence! But when I looked into the storage room, although they made kind of a " Shit we got caught!" impression on me, they were fully dressed and also standing two meters apart. Very funny.

When I returned to the living room, Jonas looked at me questioningly.

Well? "

I shrugged my shoulders. Something had probably gone on between the two of them, but what, I couldn't say yet. At that moment, Reiko and Jasmin appeared with the sleeping bags.

Here we are, we already checked whether the sleeping bags are okay to be used."

Jonas grinned challengingly at his sister.

Oh yeah, did you?"

The answer consisted of Jasmin sticking her tongue out at him.

Now, now, Ms. Future Teacher! What kind of exemplary behavior is that!"

Fabian, shut up when I'm dealing with my brother."

Don't be so rude to my sweetheart, sis!"

During this banter, everyone grinned, thus it was clear that it was not meant seriously. However, the good mood was immediately cooled down a bit.

Shit, you're annoying!"

Annoying was actually only one, and that was Patrick himself.

Patrick, you're annoying here! Leave them alone!"

All eyes turned to Felix in surprise. Probably no one had expected a comment from this corner.

Doesn't it bother you at all that these two faggots are fooling around here?"

Why should it bother me? Just leave them alone!"

In the meantime, the two girls had also returned from the shower.

Or are you jealous?"

Patrick turned bright red, then stormed off in a huff.

I'm going to take a shower!"

Well, I definitely wouldn't stop him, although there certainly wasn't enough hot water available at the moment. Maybe a cold shower would do him some good.

What an asshole."

As a responsible adult, I refrained from agreeing with Felix on this point. Meaning that I didn't voice my agreement out loud!

Over the next few minutes, we moved the furniture around a bit so that there was a nice big space in front of the fireplace for the sleeping bags. Ricarda and Manuela tried it out right away.

And, are you lying well? Think you can sleep like that?"

The two snuggled into their sleeping bags.

Yes, great!"

Well then, that settled the issue, one less worry.

Can we watch TV now?"

That's right, I had completely forgotten about that thing! Where had it gone, anyway? I looked around.

If you're looking for the tv, it's here."

Reiko lifted the device from the floor and placed it at the wall end of the bar counter.

Do we have a free outlet around here somewhere, Faby?"

I walked over to Reiko and showed him where to plug in the TV. Now we just had to connect the antenna, and we were ready to go. It was a device with a built-in DVB-T2 tuner, brand new on the market.

I can't wait to see if the little antenna will really be enough out here."

Our small town was in the core area, where a piece of wire was almost enough as an antenna. But how would that look out here in the woods? There was no other way to find out than to just try. Reiko pressed the power button, and we stared intently at the monitor.

Here we go! Looks good!"

Sure enough, we had a perfectly clear, interference-free picture. The news was on, appropriately enough, about the onset of winter, which seemed to have a firm grip on more than just our area. White Christmas seemed to be the order of the day for almost all of Germany this year. Now that was something!

Is there anything left to do now?"

Jasmin's question prompted me to look around the cabin. The dishes were washed, the place to sleep was set up, the last two kids were waiting for their turn to jump in the shower. Right now it looked like everything we had to do was actually done.

No, Jasmin, closing time. Make yourself comfortable."

So she did, together with Reiko she took the two-seater. I, of course, sat down with Jonas, who had already settled on the couch. Together we continued to watch the news, interrupted only by Patrick, who emerged from the bathroom cursing, grumbling something about " ice-cold water" and took off to bed. Well, at least we were spared him for the rest of the evening!

Should Felix and I go take a shower now, Jasmin?"

I don't know, Chris, I think the water needs to heat up again first. Fabian?"

Right. Better wait another twenty minutes. Then the water will still be not quite hot, but just right for a nice shower."


I snuggled up to Jonas and dozed off. Felix had conquered the remote control and was zapping between the channels, Reiko was reading in his book, Jasmin also seemed to be almost asleep again. Christoph had joined the two girls in their sleeping bags, and they were playing a game of Ludo in front of the flickering fireplace. With this peaceful picture, it was almost impossible not to get into the Christmas spirit….

The twenty minutes are over, you can now take your shower, boys."

I startled, indeed, the hands of the clock had moved quite a bit further. Chris and Felix stood up, and Reiko stood up too.

I'm going to take Arko for another little spin."

I wonder if that was such a good idea.

You want to take him for a real walk? Not just let him out the door for a little while?"

Don't worry, I won't go far, I'll stay on the path and within sight of the cabin. With the windows brightly lit, I can always find my way back."

Well hopefully, I wasn't in the mood for a night search!

Can I come?"

Me too!"

Bummer. The two boys apparently still had enough energy for a little trip in the snow.

You guys are supposed to be showering now."

Jasmin, the voice of reason.

We can do that later, someone else can use the warm water now!"

Oh yes, please, Jasmin! Fabian!"

I sighed.

Jonas, what do you think? You're officially in charge of the kids after all."

He probably wasn't really comfortable with that decision either, but still he relented.

Reiko, would you take them with you?"

Reiko looked sternly down at Christoph and Felix.

Alright, but then you have to promise me that you will always stay with me and not run off into the darkness somewhere."

The two promised that, so Jonas resignedly gave his okay too.

Let's go then, put on your snow clothes. Don't forget hats, scarves and gloves!"


With cheers, the boys rushed off towards the storage room, followed by a grinning Reiko, who had to get dressed, too.

And which one of us is going to take a shower now? We should take advantage of the warm water."

Jasmin grinned cheekily and challengingly at us.

It's quite simple, if the one pair of boys isn't available, then the other pair goes!"

You mean Fabian and me? Together?"

Of course! We have to save hot water, don't we?"

Jonas and I together in the shower. Naked. What an idea! But was that really a good idea? Today already? Fortunately, my beloved probably had very similar thoughts.

Nah, sis, let's not overdo it for once. We prefer to shower one after the other. If Fabian has nothing against it, I will now quickly go through the bathroom, I will only use a little water, so he does not need to wait too long."

I fell a stone fall from my heart, because showering together would have been a little too fast for me. Even though I could hardly wait to see Jonas in full, naked beauty.


Oh yeah? Are you going to shower together with Reiko later?"

That seemed to hit on spot, Jasmin cringed a little and then squeezed out a " No comment!" between her lips. Beaten at her own game.

While Jonas retreated, got his wash and sleep stuff and then disappeared into the bathroom, our three dog handlers emerged fully dressed from the storage room.

Well, we'll be on our way. We'll take two flashlights with us, is that okay, Fabian?"

Yeah sure, good idea. When will you be back?"

It won't take us longer than fifteen minutes."

I quickly looked at the clock to get an orientation when we could expect them back.

Okay, but please stick to it, not that we'll start worrying."

Will do. Okay, Arko, let's go!"

The magic word did not miss its effect, the dog dashed with sliding paws across the wooden floor to the cabin door, which Reiko had opened wide for him. Shortly thereafter I was alone with Jasmin and the two little girls. At that moment, the cell phone rang.


Borken here, good evening. Could I speak to my daughter, please?"

Borken? Daughter? Oh. I remembered that was the last name of Jonas and Jasmin.

One moment, please."

I put my thumb on the microphone opening and held the phone out to Jasmin.

Your dad!"

Surprised, she took the phone.

Yes? "

I didn't hear the retort, of course; I didn't want to be rude and eavesdrop anyway.

Fabian? "

I looked up.

I'm going to take the phone into the bedroom for a minute, is that okay?"

I nodded at her. Understandable that she wanted to talk undisturbed in the light of these complicated family conditions.

Now shamefully abandoned by everyone, I grabbed the remote and flipped through the TV channels for a bit. Although I found nothing that really interested me in any way, at least the time passed this way.

A few minutes later, Jonas and the pack of dog walkers reappeared at practically the same time, and gone was my peace.

Faby, you can take a shower now, there should still be warm water for you."

I hoped so. I really didn't want another debacle like the night before. I rose to follow his suggestion.

Where is my sister, anyway?"

Should I tell him? But I didn't want to lie to Jonas.

In the bedroom, on the phone with your parents."

Jonas contorted his face painfully, but said nothing more about it, instead sitting down where I had just gotten up from. I decided not to expand the subject and made off in the direction of the bathroom.

With the heater and all the warm water that had flowed in the last hour, the bathroom was at a very comfortable temperature, so I peeled right out of my clothes. Should I shower right away or brush my teeth first? I decided on the latter, that way the water heater could do its job a little longer.

When I got under the water shortly afterwards, it actually had a quite pleasant temperature. I hurried up with the washing and did without washing my hair again. Well, tomorrow we could shower distributed over the whole day and less rushed.

I got out of the shower stall and noticed only in this moment that I had completely forgotten to take my pajamas with me into the bathroom. Somehow my mind seemed to be busy doing other things than thinking rationally. Since I had no desire to put on my underwear again, I simply wrapped a large shower towel around my waist, which had to be enough for the way to the bedroom. I quickly put on my anti-slip socks again, and I was ready to go.

In the living room, Jonas' jaw dropped when he saw me bare-chested, but I just grinned at him and continued on to the back rooms. Just as I was about to open the bedroom door, Jasmin did the same from the inside. She took a step back and looked me up and down.

Are you trying to get my brother extra hot and bothered with you walking around like that?"

Haha, I just forgot to take my pajamas into the bathroom with me. But it got his eyes open pretty good!"

Well… You are a bit skinny, but that can be changed. Apart from that, you're really cute, I can understand why he has a crush on you."

I really didn't think I was that great, but I certainly wouldn't complain about the compliment.

I'll take the phone back up front, okay?"

Yeah, just put it on the counter. I just have to remember to put it back on the charger overnight."


Jasmin disappeared toward the living room, and I hurried to get into my nice warm pajamas. It wasn't that particularly warm in the bedroom, I was starting to get goosebumps on my torso, and the fine hairs on my arms were standing upright.


While Fabian did his half naked performance, I was busy rubbing Arko dry while Chris and Felix took their snowsuits back to the storage room. I had to grin at the sight of Jonas's derailed facial features. My God, he had really been hit hard! I wanted to tease him a bit about it, but Jasmin's appearance put a stop to that plan.


It seemed as if she had spoken against a wall, her brother not responding and still looking ahead with a transfigured expression.


Uh… What is it?"

Jasmin sat down next to him.

I just got off the phone with mom and dad."

Jonas made no comment at all.

The hotel had informed them that we were missing."

And that should be of interest to me why ? "

Jasmin sighed.

Jonas, they were asking about you, too. If everything was all right with you."

Doubting, Jonas looked at his sister.

About me? You don't believe that yourself."

Yes, I do, mom said they were very worried about both of us."

Her brother's reply sounded bitter.

Allow me to laugh about that. After all, it would be the first time in almost two years that they showed any concern for me!"

They did, though."

Well, that's great, I'm glad. You told them I was okay?"

Yes, I did."

Good, then the topic is closed."

Jasmin seemed to want to say something else, but then refrained.

Shall we go take a shower now?"

Chris and Felix had reappeared. I looked at the clock.

Wait another ten minutes, Fabian is just out of the bathroom. But you can go ahead and get your washing and sleeping things."

While the two of them were doing this, I had also finished with Arko.

Be right back."

Remembering the trouble I had had taking off my snowsuit last time, I preferred not to take it off in front of Jasmin this time either. I went into the bedroom where Fabian was in the process of pulling up his pajama pants. My entrance seemed to have startled him a bit, at least he couldn't get the waistband up fast enough.

Don't worry, I'm not going to peel anything off you."

Oh, it's just you…"

Just. How nice. Who had he been expecting?

It's just me? Who did you think it might be? Jonas? Well, wouldn't be surprising. The way you hyped him up with the presentation of your naked skin…"

Idiot. I just forgot to take my pajamas into the bathroom."

Excuses, nothing but excuses."

Oh, believe what you want!"

Hm, hopefully I hadn't teased him too much.

Sorry, Faby, I didn't mean to tease you."

Fabian sighed and sat down on the double bed.

Reiko? "

Yes? "

I've got a crush. Head over heels. Up to my ears. Skin deep."

I had noticed that, too. I carefully stripped off my overalls, this time managing to keep my long johns where they belonged.

And? Is that bad? That's more of a reason to celebrate, isn't it?"

Yeah, it is… It's just… Well…"

You're nervous because it's the first time, aren't you?"

Fabian lay back on the bed and stared thoughtfully at the ceiling.

Yes. I'm literally beside myself! My God, a thousand times I've imagined what it would be like to fall in love for the first time for real. I've thought about how I would act, what I could say, how I could express my feelings. And now it's happened, and everything is totally different."

Somehow that sounded very familiar, even though those feelings were no strangers to me for two or three years.

Let me guess. You have a tingle in your stomach. You know exactly what you want to say, but you can't get the words out. You want to take Jonas in your arms and not let go, but at the same time you don't dare to touch him."

Fabian raised his head and looked at me, puzzled.

How do you know?"

Because that's how I felt with my first real love, Faby. First girlfriends or boyfriends are always special. No wonder you're so rattled, it's completely new territory for you."

So you think that' s normal? "

Absolutely. These are all just signs that you've really hit it off. You've really fallen in love, you don't just think he's nice or cute, there's a lot more to it than that, isn't it ? "

Yes. I've found some guys nice or cute before, but I've never felt like this."

Well, there you have it. You're in love, and that's great, especially since your love is reciprocated. So enjoy it!"

Relieved, Fabian smiled at me.

You really think so?"

Sure. Now off to your sweetheart, don't leave him alone for too long."

He didn't need to be told twice, and with that I was alone in the bedroom. My old best friend Fabian, freshly in love! And I was allowed to stand by him. Who would have thought that!

When I arrived back in the living room with my snowsuit in my hands, I just saw Chris and Felix disappear in the direction of the bathroom. Fabian and Jonas were sitting close together on the couch and were busy with themselves, Jasmin was standing at the kitchen counter drinking a glass of tea, and the two little girls in their sleeping bags seemed to be asleep already - although there was still some hustle and bustle around them. With them lay Arko, who only indicated by a soft tap with his tail that he had noticed my entry. I quickly took my snowsuit to the storage room to dry, then went to Jasmin at the counter.

Would you like some tea too, Reiko?"

No, thanks, I've had enough for today. I don't feel like having to go out to the bathroom in the middle of the night."

I heard a soft giggle from the direction of the couch.

Yes, Faby? You were going to say something?"

Nothing, nothing…"

Come on, cough it up!"

I just remembered the night after my seventh birthday again."

I felt the blood rush to my head.


Hey, you wanted me to tell why I was giggling. Besides, you're the one who reminded me of that old story yesterday in the first place."

Hopefully Jasmin didn't want to hear that old story!

What are you talking about?"

Crap, probably would have been too much to expect that such a nosy female wouldn't stick her nose into it. And Jonas had also perked up a bit and looked expectantly back and forth between Fabian and me.

Go on, tell your girlfriend!"

Jasmin wasn't my girlfriend at all, at least not yet, but oh well. I had to go through with it, so I told her how Fabian and Tom had tricked me. The following laughter was as expected: big.

Hahaha, great! Maybe we should try it tonight and see if it still works on you!"

Don't you dare, Jasmin! Besides, I finally got revenge on Fabian yesterday after many years, and you certainly don't want to experience such a punishment."

Revenge? Punishment? What have you done to my little boy!"

You should ask him that yourself, Jonas."

Jasmin's brother turned his head to Fabian and looked at him questioningly. His head, however, had now turned a bright red himself, and he made no move to answer his friend.

Go on, Faby, tell him! Or I will!"

Okay, okay! Reiko put me over his knee yesterday and spanked me. There, satisfied?"

Again there was laughter, and I was glad not to be the target this time. Then Jonas looked at me sternly.

Reiko, let's get one thing straight! You will not touch Fabian again, do you understand?"

Oh, someone else in the Borken family must have been blessed with a fair amount of protective instinct.

All right, I get it."

I hope so! If anyone is going to spank Fabian in the future, it's going to be me!"

Fabian gawked at Jonas with wide-open eyes, while the rest of us laughed again.

Haha, yes, Jonas, do that! Teach your little friend some manners!"

That… you're not serious now, are you, Jonas?"

The latter grinned cheekily at Fabian's face.

Who knows? You better not try to find out. No bowls of warm water at my bed, got it?"

Fabian hurried to signal his agreement, then he too joined in the general laughter.

What's going on here, why are you all laughing so much?"

Nothing for little kids, Christoph. Are you ready for the sleeping bags ? "

They were, and shortly thereafter Felix and Christoph were also tucked well and warmly into their sleeping bags.

Fabian looked around with relief.

There, that takes care of all the kids, now we can go to bed soon, too."

An idea came to me.

You two can leave already, Jasmin and I will finish this, then we'll join you."

Fabian thought about it for a moment, then nodded in agreement.

Okay. You don't have to do anything more to the fireplace, you just have to turn off the generator at the very end. By the way, I programmed the timer so that it will turn on by itself tomorrow at seven. Then we'll have hot water first thing in the morning."

Now that was really a good idea! It wouldn't have been so important if it was only the two of us, but now, with the house full, it looked quite different.

Come on, Jonas, let's get out of here."

Shortly thereafter, besides the four kids, only Jasmin and I were left in the living room.

Do you want to go take a shower now, Reiko, or should I go first?"

You go first, I want to make a quick call to my house."

Okay, see you in a minute then."

Jasmin disappeared into the bathroom, and suddenly Fabian was back in the room.

Here, so you don't have to walk around the cabin half naked like me."

With a grin, he pressed my pajamas into my hand.

Hehe, thanks."

No problem, I had to come out again anyway. I still have to hook up the phone to the charger."

Will that work if there's no power overnight?"

Yes, it charges pretty quickly. Now we'll have power for a while, and when the generator comes on in the morning, it will keep charging."

Well, if he thought that would be enough.

I wanted to call my parents again, is that okay?"

Sure, go ahead. Will you plug the phone into the charger when you are done ? "

Will do."

Thanks. So, I'm off again."

With these words, Fabian took off again, and I reached for the cell phone.


Hello, Dad."

Reiko! I'm glad you called! How are you?"

I'm fine, thanks, I'm just pretty tired."

I can imagine, we've heard what's going on with you guys."

That probably was the hottest topic in our area right now.

Yeah, it's pretty exhausting with all those kids at the cabin."

You guys can handle it. Mr. Roecker is very impressed with the way you and Fabian run the place."

Now that's what I liked to hear!

We'll manage, we don't have any other choice anyway."

Good. Reiko… Nicole told us about the thing with Melanie. Your mother and I are really very sorry. We hope that you're not too down about it."

Crap. I hadn't thought about the subject for many hours, now my dad, of all people, had to bring it up again.

Yes, Dad. I'll be fine. It had been cracking for quite a while anyway, even though I would have preferred to break up with her in a different way."

I'm sure you would. Tell me, René ran into me at the dentist today, and he had a really fat cheek. You wouldn't happen to have anything to do with that, would you?"

No comment!"

Good, good, I don't think I want to know anything more."

And I didn't want to tell him anything more about it either.

Okay, dad, we should get to an end. Fabian's cell phone has already been pretty strained today."

I can imagine that. What are you guys still doing today?"

We're all pretty tired, the kids are all already in bed or in their sleeping bags, and we're about to disappear into the bedroom, too."

Good, your mom is in the tub right now, but she told me to give you her best. Will you call again tomorrow?"

Yeah, I guess so."

Fine. Well then, good night, Reiko. And keep your chin up there."

Thanks, good night, Dad. And say hello to mom for me. And Nicole, too."

I will. Bye!"

With that, the conversation ended, I switched off the cell phone and hooked it up to the charger. It would probably take Jasmin a while in the shower, so I sat down in one of the armchairs and read a bit more in my book. The TV had long since been turned off, which was a miracle in itself considering the large number of children and teenagers present.

I was so engrossed in reading that I didn't even notice Jasmin returning from the bathroom.

You can take a shower now, Reiko."

Did you leave some hot water for me?"

If you hurry a little, it should be enough."

Hm, I hoped she was right.

Are you going to the bedroom already?"

No, I'll wait for you here."

I made my way to the bathroom, where I finished showering just in time as the water started to get uncomfortably cold. Quickly I used the ceramic throne, brushed my teeth, put on my pajamas, and I was ready for the night. Leaving the bathroom I joined Jasmin in the living room.

There, all done. Now let's batten down the hatches here, and then we can hit the hay."

Jasmin rose from her chair.

Will you show me the generator?"


I led her into the generator room, where she immediately covered her ears. I quickly pressed the off switch, and the whine died away.

I didn't think that thing was that loud!"

Well, it's got a lot of power to deliver. Okay, shall we go?"

Back in the living room, we took another look at the four kids in the sleeping bags, who were all sound asleep by now. Arko looked at us and started to get up.

Stay down, Arko, you sleep here."

He must have understood my whispered words, he settled back down and curled up between the sleeping kids.

Will you take the flashlight, Jasmin? It's pretty dark in here without electricity."

She reached for the flashlight and flicked it on, and in its cone of light we made our way to the bedroom. Jasmin, however, stopped at the door of the smaller bedroom.

What are you doing t here? "

I want to see if Patrick is asleep."

What do you care about the terror gnome ? "


Quietly, she opened the door to the room. In the light of the kerosine lamp on the nightstand, we saw Patrick lying peacefully in bed, asleep. Jasmin pressed the flashlight into my hand.

Hold this."

She walked into the room, neatly covered Patrick, who had kicked off his comforter a bit, then extinguished the kerosine lamp and left the room again, quietly pulling the door shut behind her.

He didn't deserve that at all, Jasmin."

True enough. But who knows what the reason for his stupid behavior is. And we can't just let him freeze to death because of it, can we?"

You're right. Come on, let's get to bed too."

When we stepped into the master bedroom, it was also lit by a kerosine lamp. Fabian and Jonas were lying in the double bed, cuddled up close to each other, not making a sound.

I would have been very surprised if those two hadn't hogged the double bed."

Let them. I'm happy for my brother that he found someone. And that looks cute, the two of them lying there like that, doesn't it?"

I nodded in affirmation. I had to admit, the idea of two men lying in bed together had always made me shiver before, but what I saw in front of me now looked so normal, so natural, that at that moment my opinion on the subject turned 180 degrees.

Too bad I don't have a camera here."

Hehe, that would really be a picture worth capturing for posterity. But it wasn't to be.

Off to bed, Jasmin. I'll turn off the kerosine lamp, then I'll lie down too."

Okay, I'll hold the flashlight for you."

That was a good idea, because from the nightstand with the kerosine lamp to my bed it was quite a long way, I had to go around the whole double bed with the sleeping lovers. With the help of Jasmin's luminosity I managed it without any accidents, and shortly after that I was in bed.

Good night, Jasmin. Sweet dreams."

You too, Reiko, good night."

Jasmin turned off the flashlight and it got really dark in the room. It had snowed pretty heavily during our dog walk, neither the moon nor the stars had been visible in the sky, and it was correspondingly dark outside.

What a crazy day that had been. And I had thought that yesterday with all its disasters and surprises could not be topped! Well, one thing was clear: the next few days would probably not be boring either. Rather the opposite! Today the kids had been tired, but tomorrow they would be overflowing with zest for action, and we would have our hands full with keeping them reasonably busy. What the hell was there to do with five kids here?

With these profound considerations I fell asleep at some point, without having found a solution…


When I woke up and carefully opened my left eye, I was rewarded with the most beautiful sight I could imagine. Right in front of me lay Jonas, his eyes closed, his face completely relaxed, a smile on his lips. We had changed positions during the night, he was now lying on his back, I on my stomach next to him, my head turned towards him. My left arm lay possessively over him. That's mine, I'll never give him back!

When we had come into the bedroom the night before, there was no question about where we would lie down. The double bed was ours, Jasmin and Reiko would have to live with the leftovers!

When we then lay close to each other, sleep overpowered us very quickly, we didn't even realize how the other two had gotten into the room. With that it should be also clear that - although we lay together in the bed cuddled up closely to each other - except sleep nothing else happened.

It slowly became lighter in the room, and I used this to look at the face of the boy I had found with an outrageous load of luck. Quite smooth skin, a few cheeky beard fluffs, that was all. Apparently Jonas had shaved quickly the night before. A cute snub nose protruded from his face, above it two eyes with long, delicate eyebrows. Simply sweet.

I could not resist, my left hand wandered up Jonas' upper arm. I stroked his cheek, then ran my fingers very gently through the tangled blond hair, at the base of which a millimeter in the brown natural color was already peeking out of the scalp. Tenderly I stroked the head. He didn't seem to notice, at least nothing changed in his steady breaths.

You should wake him up, even if it's hard. It's getting close to eight."

Hmpf, how mean. Reiko could spoil the most beautiful morning.

And Jasmin is already out too, at least her bed is empty."

I sighed.

Okay, if I absolutely have to…"

Yes, you have to. I'll go and shoo Arko out of the door."

Reiko walked out of the bedroom, leaving me with the task of snatching my treasure from Morpheus' arms. Well, it really shouldn't be THAT hard for me.

The first thing I did was blow gently across his face, which didn't show any results except for a little wrinkling of the nose. Okay, now with a little more effort! My head-petting hand now scurried a bit more vigorously through Jonas' hair, but again: my darling did not wake up. What now?

Maybe I should become a little more courageous. I supported myself with my right arm and pushed my head over Jonas'. Very carefully I lowered my lips to his. Hopefully my courage would not fail me at the last moment! There it happened, our lips touched!

And I realized that I had been tricked again. Jonas' eyes popped open, I suddenly felt his hands on my neck, and the gentle touch of our lips became much more from one second to the next. At first I was startled, but then I fully surrendered to the feelings of the moment, and it was even more beautiful than I had ever dreamed. After our lips had been pressed together for a few seconds, Jonas gave me a little space, and our faces separated by a few inches.

Are you okay with this, Faby, or am I moving too fast ? "

Yes, on the one hand, he was a little too stormy for me. On the other hand, though: I liked it. And I wanted more of it! So I refrained from a verbal answer and pressed my lips on his again.

That was probably for Jonas the sign that he did not need to hold back any longer, we fell fast into a wild smooching session. Although this was all completely new territory for me, I dare say that I was a good student! We rolled around each other in bed, hands were everywhere, we just could not keep them of each other, which of course had an effect on our whole body. And so it came, as it probably had to come: little Fabian began to stir, and also in the pants of Jonas it was slowly getting tight. Two souls were fighting in my chest, one wanted to go all the way - the other one was afraid of its own courage and wanted to take its time. The second one won…

Carefully, I pushed Jonas a little away from me.

What wrong , Faby? "

A little worried, he looked down at me.

I… It's just… Jonas, if we go on now, I'll have to wash my pajamas."

Jonas grinned at me.

Hehe… I know what you mean, feels the same to me. Should we stop instead?"

No, screamed the first soul, but by now I had cooled down a bit, and the voice of reason was able to prevail.

It would probably be better. Besides…"

Yes? "

Besides, this is moving a little too fast for me. I mean, we've only known each other since yesterday."

Hopefully he didn't take offense. I realized that unlike me, he wasn't a newbie to sex, so maybe he was disappointed that I wasn't ready to go further.

I love you Jonas, I want to try everything with you too, but please give me a little more time."

Annoyed he didn't seem to be, he kept smiling at me.

Are you very angry with me?"

Astonishment showed on his face.

Angry? Why?"

Well… Because I don't want to go any further yet."

Jonas leaned down and gave me a gentle kiss on the forehead.

Faby, I'm absolutely not angry with you, rather the opposite. You're absolutely right, this is all happening a bit too fast."

Relief flooded my body.

Besides, I would never forgive myself if I pushed you into anything you weren't ready for. So please promise me that if that happens, you'll talk to me, tell me if I go too far or too fast, okay?"

At that moment, I immediately fell much more in love with him.


Great. So, what do you think, should we torture ourselves out of bed now? Not that the others will end up thinking we did exactly what we just decided not to do yet!"

Reiko might think that anyway, he was guaranteed to still have the idea of me as the great seducer and bed acrobat in the back of his mind. Still, Jonas was right, of course, we really should face the rigors of the day.

If we have to…"

We have to, unfortunately we are not alone here."

Not alone was a huge understatement. I sighed.

Alright, go ahead."

Jonas looked at me questioningly.

What do you want me to do?"

Get off me, or how else am I supposed to get out of bed?"

Oh. Right. Too bad. It was so cozy just now."

Nonetheless, Jonas rolled off me, sat up on the edge of the bed, pulled on his slippers, and then stood up. I made no move to follow him, which of course he quickly noticed.

What about you? Don't you want to get up too?"

Want to? Nah, definitely not.

I can't get up, Jonas, I think I'll have to lie down for a while after all."

Pfff, forget it! Don't pretend to be tired."

Such a killjoy. All right, but he should at least do something about it. I stretched out my right arm in his direction.

Help me up, you big, strong man!"

Jonas shook his head with a grin, then grabbed my arm and pulled me out of bed. However, if I thought that the action was over now… Fiddlesticks! With his strong, tennis-trained arms, he just kept pulling, and the next moment I was lying over his right shoulder! Just above my rear end, Jonas' right arm clasped me, his left gripped a little lower around my thighs, and all I could do was kicking my arms and legs.

What are you doing?"

Oh, I figured if you were going to be so lazy, I'd carry you all the way out to the living room right now, otherwise you'd take forever."

Come on, put me down!"

Nope. Stop kicking, it won't do you any good anyway!"

I'd noticed that too, his vise like arms were no match for me.

Make it easier on both of us and lie nice and still! Or else…"

Or else what?"

Or else this!"

Jonas's left hand let go briefly and landed with a hefty smack on my butt.

Ouch! All right, all right!"

Good. I'm glad Reiko pointed out to me how to get you under control."

I would make sure that soon the wet bed of over ten years ago would seem like great fun to Reiko! At the moment, however, I had no more options for resisting the inevitable, so I kept quiet. After all, the way I was hanging over Jonas' shoulder gave me a nice view of his shapely rear end. Not bad at all…

My weight didn't seem to bother Jonas, he didn't seem to feel it at all, briskly he walked to the room door, opened it, and then marched with me into the living room.


I was awakened by the soft sound of a door being carefully pulled shut. Who was that sneaking in or out of our room? Blinking, I opened my eyes and looked around in the dim light of the approaching day. Of the two boys in the double bed, I could only see Fabian; Jonas was hidden from my gaze by him and the feather quilt piled high.

I let my eyes wander and discovered that the second single bed in the room was empty. It must have been Jasmin who had sneaked out and was responsible for my awakening. Was it already time to get up? I glanced at my watch.

Half past seven. Actually much too early to get up, but Arko would have to get out of the cabin for his morning duty, and also the kids would probably not sleep as long as we older ones would like to. Reluctantly, I pushed my comforter aside, sat up, and then rose after tucking my feet into my slippers.

As I stood I noticed that I was not the only one in the room who had stopped sleeping. Fabian was petting his sweetheart's hair and was so engrossed in this activity that he hadn't even noticed me getting up. Accordingly he was startled when I addressed him. He didn't seem to be very enthusiastic about this disturbance and the prospect of having to get up soon, but I couldn't take that into consideration. Besides, why should he be able to lie down comfortably when I had to get up?

I grabbed some fresh clothes and made my way to the living room, where there was already quite a commotion going on. Patrick was sitting in an armchair fully dressed, the other two boys were also already wearing day clothes and were in the process of rolling up their sleeping bags.

Good morning."

I got to hear the same thing, even Patrick managed to get his jaws apart for once.

So where are the girls? And where' s Arko? "

Ricarda and Manuela are in the bathroom with Jasmin, and we already let Arko out."

Well, that sounded good.

Has the dog been out long, Felix?"

You'll have to ask Patrick, we weren't here when he let Arko out."

I looked at our problem case.

Five minutes or so."

That should be enough for now, he would get to spend a lot more time outside later. I went to the door, opened it, and found that there had been quite a bit of fresh snow over night as well. Even now it was snowing away happily.



Come on, get in here!"

In a cloud of swirling powder, the tailwagger came running up, and I just managed to fend off his attempt to jump on me, all wet and cold.

Don't you do that!"

I pulled Arko into the cabin by his collar and reached for his towel, sighing.

Can I dry him off?"

Stunned, I looked at Patrick, I really didn't expect such an offer from him. But if he asked like that…

Sure. Here, give him a good rub down. Pay particular attention to the snow nodules on the paws."


Now that this task was assigned, I could turn my attention to other things.

Chris, Felix, will you help me put the table and the other furniture back in place?"

Together we turned the substitute bedroom back into a living room.

I guess you guys are through the bathroom already?"

Yes, Felix and I woke up when the generator kicked in. We got up soon after that, too, thinking it would be good to be done already when the rush of the others started."

You're two really smart guys."

Pleased, the two boys smiled at me. What simple things were enough to please them.

A few minutes later, the girls also showed up ready for the day. After the greeting Jasmin made a short roll call.

Only Jonas and Fabian are still missing. I wonder if they're awake yet?"

They are, when I got out Fabian already had his eyes open and I told him to wake up your brother and then come out with him."

Good, then hopefully they will show up here soon."

I wasn't that sure about that, but I banished my dirty thoughts to the rearmost corner of my brain real quick.

I think I'll take advantage of the empty bathroom now and get ready quickly."

Before I could put this into action, however, I was distracted by another event.

Now put me down already, you strong muscle man!"

Even as I turned around to see what Fabian probably meant, loud laughter already started around me. Which, however, was completely justified! The sight of my best friend, how he was carried into the room placed over his boyfriends shoulder with the legs first, was extremely funny! Not even Patrick could completely escape the humor of the moment.

Bro… Bro… what are you doing with your sweetheart?"

The little lazybones wouldn't get up, so I just had to help him along a bit."

That should finally make it clear who wore the pants in this relationship.

Put me down, Jonas! Please!"

Fabian kicked his legs, which brought him a slap on the butt as his only success.

I'll put you down in a minute. Girls, could you please get off the couch?"

Ricarda and Manuela jumped up, Jonas approached the seating furniture from behind, then elegantly unloaded his load into the cushions over the backrest.

There, little one, now you may lie down again!"

He didn't lie comfortably, though, because immediately Arko jumped on top of him and started licking him across the face.

Ew! Leave me alone, Arko!"

Resounding laughter filled the room, and after a few seconds Fabian himself now joined in - despite his bright red head.

Jonas, you're nuts!"

True. But that's why you love me so much, isn't it?"

Fabian could only shake his head, laughing. For Patrick this probably was going too far again, the smile disappeared from his face, and he turned away from the two loverboys.

Slowly everyone calmed down again, and I disappeared into the bathroom, where I did the usual morning chores and changed clothes. When I came back out, the breakfast table was already set, the coffee maker was bubbling, and the smell of fresh baked goods was coming from the oven.

Reiko, is there any hot water left?"

Yes, Faby, no one has taken a shower."

Okay, then Jonas and I quickly dash through the bathroom. But please leave us some of the breakfast!"

Whether you get anything depends entirely on you. So you'd better not mess around but hurry up!"

This blunt threat from Jasmin's mouth drove the two of them out of the room, like lightning they disappeared in the direction of the bathroom.

Reiko, don't just stand there, pour the kids some cocoa."

Yes, Mrs. Sergeant Major!"

Be glad I've got my hands full with other things, recruit, otherwise you might be in for a treat right now!"

I hurried to comply with Jasmin's instructions and poured hot cocoa into the kid's pots. When I got to Patrick, he looked at me pleadingly.

Can I get coffee?"

I guess someone suddenly felt VERY grown up, and wanted nothing to do with a kid's drink like cocoa. I looked over at Jasmin questioningly.

Okay, he can have coffee, but with lots of milk."

The teenager agreed to this compromise, so he got a half cup of coffee from me on my next round, which he filled up with milk himself.

A few minutes later, the steaming drinks had been joined by freshly baked baguettes, and just when there was nothing left to do, Fabian and Jonas showed up to sit at the table. Very clever!

In keeping with the age of the participants, the food provided was devoured at lightning speed until there was hardly a crumb to be seen anywhere. Then we came to the question that I had already wracked my brains to answer.

What are we going to do all day long today?"

If we didn't come up with something clever to keep the kids busy, this could really be a DAMN long day!

What does the weather say?"

Same as yesterday morning, Fabian. Lots of fresh snow, and it's still snowing."

This caused great joy among the younger kids, only Patrick and us older folks seemed to get that this also meant we'd be stuck here longer.

We could build snowmen!"

Or an igloo! Or a snow castle!"

Wait, wait, take it easy! It's still nice and early, we don't need to rush!"

Jasmin's pedagogical streak showed up at just the right moment.

I suggest we listen to the weather report on the radio first, and then we'll see. We don't have to go out right now."

The weather report was a good idea, I got up and turned on the radio. It wasn't long before the nine o'clock news began, at the end of which came the weather report, as usual.

Snowfall will ease during the day and stop altogether by late afternoon. The snowfall area moves off to the west. At its rear, cold polar air will flow into the forecast area. Daytime temperatures will range from -6ºC to -4 ºC as winds ease, with severe frost to -10ºC expected at night under clear skies."

The snowfalls were moving off, so that was at least some good news!

And here's the three-day outlook: our area is increasingly coming under the influence of high pressure. Clear winter weather prevails, no further snow is to be expected for the time being. Strong winds will decrease, only in the mountain tops isolated squalls are still to be expected. Temperatures will reach only -10ºC to -8ºC during the day, at night they will drop to -15ºC, in isolated areas -20ºC can be reached."

Fortunately, we were sitting here in the warm and had thick clothes with us!

Finally, a message from the German Weather Service: the storm warning for our area will be lifted today with effect from 6pm."

That sounded pretty good, even though the traffic reports that followed the weather report still painted a disastrous picture of the road conditions.

So, you heard it, it's going to slowly stop snowing today. I would suggest that we keep ourselves busy in here in the morning, and in the afternoon we do something outside in the snow."

The kids grumbled a bit, but then realized that they couldn't spend the whole day outside anyway. So, after the table was cleared and the dishes washed, two rounds of games were formed. While the four youngest fought each other in Ludo, Jasmin, Jonas, Fabian and I played Monopoly. Patrick had decided he'd rather read a book and retired to his bedroom with some mystery novel. Arko had accompanied him, the two had probably made friends. Should I feel sorry for the dog?

Soon we were so engrossed in the game that we didn't even notice how time passed. With the little ones, everyone seemed to win once in a while, with us, on the other hand, we fought long and doggedly, until Jonas got the upper hand in the end. No wonder, since the hotel trainee had strategically placed hotels around the playing field. He took us out like Christmas geese!

Ha, I won! Well, how about it, another round?"

Brother, look at the clock."

Of course, Jonas wasn't the only one to do so, Fabian's and my eyes automatically wandered to the time indicator as well. It was already shortly before eleven!

We should start thinking about what to serve for lunch today."

And especially who would cook it.

How about spaghetti and tomato sauce? Goes fast, is easy, fills you up."

Good idea, Jonas, you cook!"

Puzzled, the newly appointed chef stared at his sister; he probably hadn't expected that. But he agreed, on the condition that Fabian would help him. And for that one, of course, a request from Jonas was tantamount to an order!

Alright, we were the laziest ones this morning, so we'll take over lunch. And what are you doing in the meantime?"

We'll take Arko for a spin, I'd say. Jasmin, you're coming with us, right?"

Yes, and the kids are all coming too."

Enthusiastically the kids jumped up, I guess they really couldn't wait to get out in the snow.

Whatever you say. Let's go then, get your snow gear and get dressed! Departure in ten minutes!"

The children dashed off, and Jasmin made her way to the storage room as well.

Will you bring me my snowsuit, please, Jasmin? I'm going to get Arko and Patrick."

Will do, good luck with Patrick."

I wondered if I would need that. Or if he was in a somewhat responsive phase again? There was only one way to find out, and I was treading that job now. I knocked on his room door and entered.

Patrick was lying backwards in bed, next to him was my dog, his muzzle on Patrick's chest, letting the boy scratch him behind the ears. The two of them seemed to be getting along really well.

What' s up? "

We want to go for a walk with Arko. Are you coming?"

Who's we?"

The little ones, Jasmin and I."

The fags aren't coming?"

I sighed, but refrained from giving him an attitude adjustment, there was no time for that now.

No, Fabian and Jonas aren't coming, they're taking care of lunch."

All right, I'll come along. I just need to grab my jacket and boots real quick."

As he moved to stand up, I saw a lot of bare skin under his jeans.

First you'll put on your long underwear, and then instead of jeans, your snow pants."

I won't freeze!"

Either that or you'll stay here."

For a moment it looked like he was about to make a scene, but then I guess the desire to romp through the snow with his new furry friend won out.

Okay, okay, I'll change! But you'll have to wait for me!"

Then make sure we don't have to wait TOO long. Come on, Arko."

I left Patrick's room, and a few minutes later everyone was ready to leave.


Cooking spaghetti with Jonas, well, it could have been worse. We would manage that. But for now we wanted to wait until the noisy mob disappeared in the snow. I snuggled up to Jonas, and we watched the goings-on together.

First the four little ones appeared, with their snowsuits in their hands, and dressed themselves chattering. Shortly after, Jasmin followed, already dressed, and pressed his snowsuit into the hand of Reiko, who had fetched Arko. At that moment, Patrick also shot up and dashed across the room to the storage room in his underwear. Reiko got into the snowsuit, then looked at me questioningly.

Fabian, can I take the cell phone?"

I guess that was a sensible idea.

Yes, take it with you. Oh, are you familiar with the GPS device ? "

Yes, at the Red Cross we also have one. It's a different model, but I can manage."

Good, then take that along, too. Better safe than sorry."

My father would tear me a new one up to the hairline if someone were to go missing again while under my care.

Do you think that's necessary?"

I'd rather not take any chances."

Okay, whatever you say."

Reiko retrieved the two devices and stowed them in the pockets of his snowsuit. Meanwhile, Patrick reappeared as well, and after everyone was done putting on their boots, one by one they disappeared out of the door, and an almost eerie silence returned to the cabin.

Alone at last."

I casted a challenging glance at my first ever boyfriend.

Oh, do you have something planned for me that the others would have disturbed?"

Yeah sure I do!"

Oh. Now I was getting excited!

And what would that be?"

Jonas grinned at me.

Cooking, what else?"

I sighed.

Too bad…"

I pushed myself a little closer to him and was about to press my lips to his when the door opened again.

We forgot to set a time to be back. Oops… Sorry…"

Reiko once again had the uncanny talent to barge into a room in the most unsuitable situation. Just like with that stupid bitch Melanie. Like two caught sinners, we looked at the door.

Really? You're supposed to be cooking, you don't have time for these games!"

Jonas and I looked at each other briefly, then we both gave Reiko the finger salute. The latter, however, just laughed at that.

Well, whatever. We'll be back in an hour, and I'm sure we'll all be VERY hungry by then. So do something for your money! Bye!"

Do something for our money? We got money for this? Well, we should talk about that again in more detail, that would be really nice. Anyway, Reiko now left us alone for good.

Such a slave driver."

He matches your sister, she's no better."

Hehe, have you noticed that, too? She sometimes has a real army barracks tone."

Poor Reiko.

Okay, how do we do this now?"

There's still plenty of time, we'll get everything together first, then the cooking itself will go quickly."

Well, I'm relying on you, Jonas, I'm not much of a cook."

Don't worry, you've got me for that now. Everyone I've cooked for so far has raved about my culinary delights."

Well, in that case, you'll play the cook in our marriage."

I will if you do the cleaning, little housewife."

Little housewife? Now that was going too far! I pinched him in the upper arm in a way that he actually felt it!

Ouch, what did I do to you!"

Don't ever call me 'little housewife' again, got it, big guy?"

Jonas rubbed the sore spot.

Okay, okay, little one!"

He'll better stick to that. I could live with " little one", that actually sounded quite nice.

Well, let's go, let's get the ingredients together, we wont need much."

And we also had everything we would need available in sufficient quantity. For the next hour we could be seen turning the kitchen into a battlefield, especially since we couldn't keep our hands off each other on top of all the work. Shortly before the expected return of the hungry gang, we had everything prepared, the dishes were on the table, cutlery was ready, the spaghetti were in a huge pan, in a pot the tomato sauce was simmering gently. Jonas was going to pour the latter over the noodles later and put the whole mixture back in the preheated oven for a few minutes with some cheese on top.

I looked at Jonas and had to laugh.

What is it, Faby?"

You have a big blob of tomato sauce on the tip of your nose!"

I had absolutely no idea how that got there.

Jonas rolled his eyes, but he still couldn't really see the dilemma.

Clean it up, please, I'm sure that looks totally stupid."

Yes, it does. Why don't you look in a mirror?"

Nah, I've got a better idea."

A better idea? I had a premonition that this idea would be at my expense again, and that's exactly how it turned out. Jonas grabbed the spoon he had just used to stir the tomato sauce and touched my nose with it. I had a pretty good idea what that looked like now.

You're right, Fabian, that does look stupid!"

Well thank you very much. At that moment, we heard noise outside the cabin, so I guess that meant the others were back from their walk.

Come on, Jonas, to the bathroom, quick. We don't want them to see us like this!"

My beloved was probably of the same opinion, so we dashed into the bathroom together, and when we entered the living room again a minute or two later, we looked presentable again.

In the meantime, the wild horde had invaded the cabin, and during the general removal of boots and snowsuits, they put on a truly hellish spectacle. The question of whether they had enjoyed the walk could probably be spared in view of the laughter and happy faces.

Is there anything to eat soon? We're absolutely famished!"

Jonas, who had meanwhile shoved the giant pan of noodles into the oven, reassured Reiko.

Don't worry, you don't have to starve. Take off your snow clothes, go wash your hands and so on, then you can sit down already, it will only be a few more minutes."

The prospect of food drove the Magnificent Seven to Olympic speed in undressing and washing their hands, and while I was still rubbing Arko dry, they took their places at the table one by one. Fortunately, the food was now actually ready quickly, otherwise they would probably have nibbled at each other from sheer hunger!

The movement in the snow and the cold winter air had provided for an enormous appetite, and the meal including the apple puree dessert was polished off within record time. By the way, it tasted really great, if Jonas always cooked like this, I would probably (if I lived with him) actually get a little more weight on my ribs. Though my mom had tried that for years in vain.

During lunch, the kids talked about the walk, how they had let Arko hunt for snowballs, how they had built a snowman, and much more. Unfortunately, they still seemed to have plenty of energy left and were already asking when they would be allowed out again.

Now we'll rest for an hour or two, then we can go out again and maybe really build a snow castle."

Jasmin's suggestion was generally met with cheers, and so it was a done deal. But how the hell do you actually build a snow castle?

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