Authors: T.T. Kove
Tags: #Gay romance, #contemporary, #Arctic Love
T. T. KOVE
Two months ago Frey moved to Svalbard, and Jørgen hasn't been able to stop thinking about him since. But every time he thinks about asking Frey out, the fear that fills Frey's eyes stops him. If keeping his distance keeps Frey from being afraid, then so be it.
Frey moved to Svalbard because it was supposed to be safe. He wasn't supposed to fall in love, and he definitely wasn't supposed to keep running into poachers.
Arctic Love #3
By T.T. Kove
Published by Less Than Three Press LLC
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner without written permission of the publisher, except for the purpose of reviews.
Edited by Michael Jay
Cover designed by Natasha Snow
This book is a work of fiction and all names, characters, places, and incidents are fictional or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual people, places, or events is coincidental.
First Edition November 2014
Copyright © 2014 by T.T. Kove
Printed in the United States of America
Digital ISBN 9781620044582
March, 2010, Longyearbyen
"Have you asked him out yet?"
Jørgen hit the squash ball with his racket, sending it in full speed towards the wall. He chanced a glance over at Karina, his tall, blond-haired, blue-eyed best friend since school. "No, I haven't," he replied, then hit the squash ball again as it bounced off the wall and came towards him.
"Why not?" She lunged to the side, hitting the ball right on. "You've been mooning over him since he moved here. It doesn't hurt to ask. The worst you can get is a no."
That was true. Jørgen continued to bounce the ball. Frey had been living in Longyearbyen for about two months now and Jørgen hadn't been able to stop thinking about him since he'd got his very first look at him back in January. The attraction had caught Jørgen completely off guard and he had stared. Frey had looked back, his moss-green eyes wide. There had been several emotions flicking across his face just then, but the one that had caught Jørgen's attention was the blatant fear in his expression.
Jørgen had never met Frey before in his life, so he couldn't understand why Frey would be afraid. He still was, even after two months. He never spoke much to Jørgen, and when Frey looked at him there was always that glint of fear in his eyes. Frey did not like to be touched either, he flinched away if Jørgen, or anyone else really, got too close. The only ones Frey seemed comfortable around were Andreas and his twin, Varg.
"Why are you suddenly so timid?" Karina asked. "You've never had any problem going after what you wanted. Is there something special about this one or is it simply a result of it being a very long time since you've been interested in a bloke?"
"It hasn't been
"Fucking around with Jonathan doesn't count." Karina gave him a hard stare, daring him to argue with her, then she hit the ball. Jørgen decided not to get into it with her. An argument with Karina was never a good idea. Ever. "I mean dating. You haven't dated anyone since we moved here."
"Another fuck-buddy. Between Jonathan and the Russian, you haven't lacked sex. But it's been a very long time since you had a relationship, a deeper connection to someone."
"Not everyone finds their special someone as early as you did," Jørgen said, but he knew she was right. He hadn't lacked sex, not at all, but he missed having something more with someone. It had been a very long time since he'd been in a relationship, long before he'd moved to Svalbard. He'd been a little interested in Andreas when he'd first met him, but it had quickly died out. Andreas had been fully devoted to Christian. He and Andreas had turned out to be great friends instead, and that was a friendship Jørgen valued more than anything.
Then there was Frey. Frey who blushed and stuttered and seemed afraid of everything. Jørgen should keep far away from him, but he simply couldn't. Frey drew him in like nothing else ever had. He had white-blond hair that was a little too long, but the length fit him. His eyes were moss-green, Jørgen's new favourite colour. Frey wasn't very tall, he barely reached up to Jørgen's shoulders.
Jørgen was brought out of his thoughts by the squash ball hitting him right in the stomach. He groaned at the impact—the little thing hurt—then threw a glare at Karina.
"Don't give me that. You were the one going off into la-la land." Karina bent down to retrieve the squash ball. "I think you should just ask him. Walk up to him and ask him out. That way you won't have time to talk yourself out of it."
"Easy for you to say. Sara was interested in you. I don't think I'd be Frey's first choice." Jørgen didn't think anyone would be Frey's first choice. Besides, he never really saw much of him. When he did it was usually at work, when Frey came in to hang out with Andreas or Varg. Outside of that, nothing. Perhaps mostly because Jørgen only tended to be in one of only four places; at home, at Karina and Sara's, at work or at the sports centre.
Karina fixed him with another hard stare. "Do it."
Karina was a force to be reckoned with and Jørgen sighed in defeat. "I will. Sometime. Maybe."
"Soon, Jørgen." Karina started for the door. "Do it soon. Who knows, tourist season is coming up and maybe someone will sweep in and steal him from right under your nose."
Jørgen's head snapped up. She had a very good point. How often had he had flings with tourists? He'd had one last summer, and the summer before, with either gay or bisexual men. Out or closeted. It hadn't mattered which, because the fling had only lasted for the short period they'd been on Svalbard.
The thought of someone else hooking up with Frey... Jørgen didn't think it was likely, with how scared Frey always seemed to be of everything, but there was still a possibility. So Jørgen had to man up and do it. It was a simple question. If Frey was straight or not interested, that would be it, but then at least Jørgen would know.
But it was easier said than done.
Instead of showering at the sports centre, Jørgen and Karina opted to jog home. Both had their bags on their backs as they set a steady pace down Street 100 towards the town centre. Longyearbyen was still blanketed in snow, but the roads were ploughed. They both wore pull-on trousers and jackets over their shorts, because it was too cold to be outside without, even when they were jogging.
They didn't talk, just jogged in comfortable silence. They passed Jørgen's house and continued down Street 500. Jogging into the centre of the settlement, they swung to the parallel street and continued further down it before swinging into Street 234, which lay opposite the Spitsbergen travel agency. They were nearing the crossroads where they would have to turn right when Jørgen saw him.
Jørgen stopped in his tracks. He watched as Frey exited a door holding a rubbish bag in each arm. A small white and brown puppy ran after him, circling around his legs. Jørgen started towards him. He didn't know why, it was the opposite way of where he was originally going.
Frey didn't notice him. He was busy holding the two bags, which looked rather heavy, and looking at the dog that half-ran around his feet. It looked precarious and Jørgen quickened his pace.
It happened in a blink of an eye. Jørgen couldn't tell if it was on the dog or the ice, but Frey lost his balance and crashed to the ground.
Jørgen ran the last distance. "Are you ok?"
Frey groaned and pushed himself up on his knees. He grimaced and Jørgen crouched down and took his arm. Frey flinched at the touch, but this time Jørgen suspected it was because of pain. He had fallen on that side, so he must've sprained his wrist.
"Does it hurt when I do this?" Jørgen pressed down slightly with his thumbs over Frey's wrist.
Frey flinched again. "Y-yeah."
A small, black dog-nose was thrust in-between them and Jørgen was startled at the cool feel of it against his hand. Then a pink, hot tongue came out and licked him. Jørgen smiled down at the puppy and the big, heterochromic eyes looking back up at him.
Frey carefully plucked his hand out of Jørgen's grip when Jørgen's attention was centred on the dog. "It's just a little sprain, nothing much. I'll just wrap it and it'll be fine," he mumbled.
"Sure?" Jørgen looked up at him worriedly.
Frey nodded. Then he bent down and scooped the dog up. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to trip on you," he whispered to the dog, petting it lightly. The puppy licked his ear excitedly in return.
Jørgen was aware of Karina standing on the road, arms crossed and a foot tapping impatiently, but he ignored her for now. Instead he retrieved the two bags from the ground and threw them into the rubbish, then turned back to Frey and reached out to pet the puppy. "He's cute. What's his name?"
"Kosmo," Frey replied in a low voice. "His name's Kosmo."
"Cool name." Jørgen patted the pup on the head a moment more, then became aware of the fact that Frey was looking at him. When Jørgen looked up though, Frey hurriedly turned his head away. Jørgen bit his lower lip, feeling his stomach flip over in nervousness. This would've been the perfect opportunity to take Karina's advice, but he just couldn't. "Will I see you tomorrow?" he asked instead.
"Yeah. I wouldn't miss Solfest." Frey didn't look at him when he said it though.
"Great." Jørgen glanced over at an impatient Karina. "I'll see you tomorrow, then." He smiled slightly, and when Frey nodded jerkily, he turned and jogged back to Karina, who by now was staring at him with both eyebrows raised.
"Did you do it?"
Jørgen shook his head meekly.
"You coward!" She set into a full run towards her house.
Jørgen sighed and followed her. He couldn't agree more with her. She was right.
"Frey, meet Jørgen."
Those had been life-altering words. Frey had been lost at the first sight of Jørgen's wide, friendly smile and his brilliant, green eyes. The attraction had been so instant it had knocked the breath out of him and he had not been able to even greet Jørgen properly.
Even after two months, Frey still lost his breath whenever Jørgen was close. He had never been so attracted to anyone in his life, and he had met Jørgen in the place he had least expected to. He had moved to Svalbard because it was desolate and safe. And yet the moment he had arrived, he had been introduced to Jørgen, and Frey suddenly didn't feel so safe anymore.
His stomach erupted into wild butterflies whenever he saw Jørgen, but the fear lurked underneath them, heavy in his gut. Jørgen had tried to shake his hand when they'd first met but Frey had shied away, and Jørgen had never got much closer to him since then. The closest they would get was on each their side of the bar counter.
Until today. Jørgen had been so close to him. He had talked to him and had seemed worried about his sprain. He had asked about Frey's dog. Frey had actually managed to reply, but he had been nervous and afraid. He shouldn't be afraid anymore, not here on Svalbard, but he had been.
Frey liked Svalbard. A lot better than he had thought he would. Most of that was probably because he really did feel safe. No one would hurt him here, he could walk home in the dark without having to worry about being assaulted, like he always did when walking through the streets of Oslo.
Frey shuddered as a cold breeze blew past him. He held Kosmo close and walked back inside. It might have been March, but the arctic was still cold. Snow was still heavy on the ground. Andreas had told him that the snow wouldn't start melting before June, so there would be at least three more months of snow. At least the sun had returned. It shone during the day and gave way to twilight at night. Come the middle of April the sun would be up twenty-four seven. Frey looked forward to that.
The sun was rising outside, further and further up each day that passed. Frey smiled to himself as he let Kosmo down and went into the bathroom to get some gauze. Frey knew he had made the right decision moving to Svalbard. Svalbard was the place for him. Quiet, peaceful Svalbard. Even if he had just tripped and sprained his hand, but that was more his own fault than anything.
Andreas had talked about Svalbard for at least a year before he moved, but Frey had never considered it until he'd seen a documentary on TV. And after, talking to Andreas after he'd moved, hearing how much he loved Svalbard. The thought had been in his head for months, until he'd made the decision. And now here he was. Living in Longyearbyen on Svalbard, a settlement of only about two thousand people. It was such a change from the busy life in Oslo and Frey loved it.
Frey heard claws clicking against the floor a moment before Kosmo came tripping into the bathroom. Frey smiled at him as he set to wrapping up his wrist tightly. He had only owned the little white and brown Siberian Husky for two weeks, but he had already grown to love him.