“Come on,” he urged, nodding toward the long, rectangular building in the empty, snow-dusted field. “Let’s see what’s inside.”
His excitement was contagious and I reluctantly followed him, my heart racing slightly as I took in the sparse surroundings.
We needed to collect moss samples for testing and I knew that we weren’t going to find what we needed in the city but this wasn’t what I’d pictured. At all.
“Do you expect us to do all the work, princess or are you going to do something too?”
I chewed on the insides of my cheeks and reached for a piece of baggage, careful to avoid Queenie’s gaze.
I couldn’t believe she was starting with me after all that travel. Then again, she was probably extra bitchy because she was hungry and tired too.
Not that it made her sympathetic in any way.
I hurried toward the open door and paused at the threshold, taking in the compact space which we would call home for the next four weeks.
To my chagrin, I realized there were only two bedrooms, each with two beds. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that I was going to be stuck sharing with my dreaded boss.
This keeps getting better and better, I thought grimly, shuffling into the living area to set down my bag. The main room was an open concept with a kitchenette, equipped with a stove and fridge. There were a set of worn corduroy couches and a scarred wooden coffee table but beyond the kitchen was a section for our research. It wasn’t sterile but there were all the makings of a proper lab.
“We’re going to have to do something about that,” I commented. “Quadrant it off so there’s no cross-contamination.”
“You think I didn’t think of that?” Queenie asked sarcastically. “Geez, thank God we have you here, Sasha. We’d be lost otherwise.”
I gritted my teeth and ignored her, making my way to one of the bedrooms to investigate.
“There’s still more stuff to be brought in. Don’t even think about having a nap!”
I whirled and glared at her before I could stop myself, my black tresses fanning around my face in defiance.
“I was just looking around!” I hissed.
“We’re coming, Amanda,” Hunter told her, stepping between us as if he sensed a brawl about to erupt and she scoffed, storming back out into the snow.
“Jesus,” I muttered, shaking my head. “What is her problem?”
“Everyone’s just tired,” Hunter told me and I snorted. That was a good excuse now but what about the other three hundred and sixty-four days a year?
“Why don’t you help Amanda and I’ll see what we can scrounge up to eat,” Hunter suggested, flashing me a warm smile. Instantly, I felt my heart melt and I nodded, my anger dissipating.
“Sounds good,” I agreed, awed that he was offering to cook. I returned outside where Queenie was talking with Magnus, the load apparently forgotten.
“…a week with supplies, as agreed,” Magnus was saying as I neared. “You have radio here, ja? You call if there is problems.”
“We’ll be fine,” Queenie told him sweetly and I marveled at how she could turn it on and off so easily. Listening to her speak with Magnus, you’d have no idea what a witch she was.
“I help with bags and I go. There is storm coming,” Magnus continued. “They be saying for days about it.”
Queenie waved her hands magnanimously.
“No need, Magnus. You can go. Sasha and I have got this.”
It didn’t surprise me that she didn’t ask my thoughts on the matter. Some of the equipment was heavy and with Hunter inside, that meant I’d be doing the brunt of the work.
To his credit, Magnus turned to me and waited for me to agree. What choice did I have but to nod and smile?
“Thank you, Magnus. We’re good.”
He beamed at me and turned toward the vehicle, leaving me alone with the manager of my nightmares.
“I return next week, ja?”
“Wonderful, Magnus, thank you,” Queenie said in a sickeningly sweet tone that made me cringe slightly. He got into the driver’s seat and drove off, a sea of luggage around us.
I turned away, another two bags in my hands but Queenie barked out at me, “You know, this is still a work expedition.”
My eyebrow raised in confusion, I looked back at her.
“I’m aware,” I replied dryly.
“You wouldn’t think so with that hair. You still need to be presentable, even if you’re not in the lab.”
My mouth gaped but no words came out. What the hell was wrong with this woman? We’d been traveling for almost a full day via plane and car. I was wiped and she was going on about my hair?
“What?” she sneered. “You have something to say?”
I spun back around and stomped back into the structure, my breaths escaping in short, furious rasps.
Hunter looked up from the kitchen when I entered, the smile fading from his face when he saw my expression.