Mandy stepped out of the clinic, yawning. around her, snow drifted down from the dark sky.

"Come on James" She said tiredly, jangling her keys as she waited for her best friend to shuffle through the door.

"I'm coming" James mumbled, cleaning his glasses on his sweater as he came through the door. Mandy shut it behind him and went through the locking procedure. Around the door, multi-colored Christmas lights twinkled merrily.

It was Christmas eve, Mandy's parents were snowed in the London airport with no way to get out of the building, and the receptionists had gone home early, leaving Mandy and James to do the clean up work. It was past eleven, and both were ready to drop.

Mandy finished with the door, going over to the bike rack and retrieving her beat-up bike and helmet.

"You sure you're going to be okay?" James asked worriedly as he twisted his car keys in his hands. "I could give you a ride..." Mandy shook her head. James had gotten his license earlier in the year, but she had been a little slow on the uptake. she preferred her bike.

"I'll be careful, you get home to Blackie. My cell's on too"

"I'll call you at home in an hour and a half to make sure you got there safe" James said, ruffling his black hair. Mandy smiled at his concern for her safety.

"Sounds good, happy Christmas James" Mandy leaned over her bike to hug her best friend, breathing in his familiar scent.

They had been in a store that summer and she was offered a test card of a new men's cologne. When Mandy had said it was wonderful, James had gone back the next day and gotten it.

"Look out for ice!" James called as Mandy hopped on her bike and began to pedal down the sidewalk, still smiling at the memory. Mandy waved a hand in acknowledgement, then turned the corner onto the road out of town.

It was a three mile ride back to the house, and on a good day Many could do it in a half hour since it was mostly on a decline. Now, it was a different story. The snow was falling faster now, obscuring her view of the road as it blew in her face. The small light she had on her handlebars only gave off a weak beam.

It was slow going, especially since she had too avoid the patches of ice, and the rare car that crawled by.

Mandy slowed and checked her cell phone while she waited for a car to go by. She had just passed the point that marked the first mile, and it was already twelve. One mile in forty minutes

She sped up a little after the car went by, tapping her headlight as it began to dim even more. The road got icier, but Mandy ignored it and pressed on.

The only sound as she pedaled along was her own breathing, leaving lots of time for thought. Her mind drifted tiredly for a while, then landed on James. As of late, Mandy had begun to suspect James' feelings for her were more than just brotherly or friendly affection.

It would be a lie to say that Mandy didn't like James in a romantic way. Truthfully, she had liked him since they first met, though it had taken her a while to realize it. As the years went by, her feelings for him had only strengthened.

Over the summer, he had changed a lot. James had gotten a growth spurt, leaving him quite a bit taller than her. Then he had filled out a little, all the carrying of dog food and such. He had cut his hair in a different way, which she liked. Not to mentioned the cologne...

All in all, James was attractive.

Mandy huffed as she began to pedal up one of the many hills left to go in her ride. Maybe tomorrow she would ride to James' house, give him his present, and hope that they could be caught under the mistletoe.

The thought of James and Mistletoe in the same sentence made her giggle. Not that Mandy didn't want to kiss him... But James wasn't that type of guy.

Mandy stopped at the top of the hill for a breather, looking around at the snow falling all around her. The countryside was beautiful in the winter. While waiting, she pulled out her phone. It was twelve thirty, and she was almost two the two mile marker.

There was no way she could make it home before James called, he would pace around his home, then call her cell and demand where she was. This made Mandy laugh. James was almost overprotective of her, it was sweet.

She kicked off, trying not to have to hit her brakes too often so as to still make good time.

Mandy didn't see the icy patch until it was too late.

The front wheel of her bike veered sharply to the right, throwing Mandy forwards into the pavement. Her helmeted head smashed into the pavement and she rolled down the rest of the hill, the bike bouncing once then landing on her chest.

The snow still fell softly, beginning to cover the unconscious girl.