"What are you doing?" Mandy asked the Clinic's receptionist when she walked in the Clinic to find Jean hanging mistletoe above the front door.
"Hanging Mistletoe" Came the reply.
"I can see that, but why?" Mandy asked, hopping up to sit on the counter.
"It looks festive, and who knows? Someone might end up lucky" Jean said with a wink, climbing down the small ladder then folding it up and storing it behind the counter.
"What do you want for Christmas?" Mandy asked, swinging her legs back and forth as they dangled off the counter. Jean sat in her office chair and swiveled a couple times.
"Well, for one... I would love that new tv actor to catch me under the mistletoe, but that's just wishful thinking" Jean teased. Mandy slid off the desk then leaned up against it, staring intently at the receptionist.
"I think you want a new Christmas scarf, to replace the one that your dog ate last year" Mandy said, holding her fingers to her head in the expression of a mock psychic.
"I think you must be right, how did you know?" Jean feigned surprise.
"Let's just say I have it in with the big man" Mandy aid mischievously, looking up.
"Your father hasn't put on that much weight since Thanksgiving" Jean teased, causing Mandy to laugh.
"I'm supposed to go pick up James at the library, I almost forgot" Mandy remembered, jumping to the door.
"You should bring him here so you can catch him under the mistletoe" Jean joked. Mandy flushed, then opened the door and skipped down the sidewalk.
It wasn't that she didn't want to catch James under the mistletoe... it sounded wonderful to her, but she wasn't sure if James would want to. You weren't supposed to have feelings like that for your best friend...
Mandy had found herself attracted to James as of late. His goofy jokes, his messy hair, even the way he cleaned his glasses almost constantly made her feel like she had butterflies.
She didn't know if James felt that way about her too, but in her heart, Mandy hoped her did.
She ran the last few blocks to the library, red hair flying. Sure enough, James was waiting outside for her. When he caught sight of his best friend, a large grin broke out on his face and he shook the bouquet of poinsettias in his hand.
When Mandy skidded to a halt at his side, he held them out shyly to her.
"Erm, a lady gave them to me as I left the library... Do you want them?" He asked, cheeks tinted with a slight blush. Mandy took them, eyes glowing.
"You know how much I love these" She replied, burying her nose in them, even though they didn't smell like anything.
"That reminds me" Mandy continued. "What do you want for christmas?"
James thought for a moment as they began walking back towards the clinic.
"I dunno Mandy, anything's good I guess" He replied. Mandy thoughtfully studied her flowers.
"What do you want?" James asked after a moment. Mandy flushed at her earlier thoughts abou"t the mistletoe. A iss from James would be a wonderful Christmas gift... She could picture them under the mistletoe at Animal Ark, arms wrapped around each other and lips locked...
"Mandy, look out!" James' voice cut through her fantasy. She looked up in time to smack face-first into a telephone pole, her bouquet falling to the ground. Mandy staggered back, hand on her forehead. James' hands caught her, luckily before she tumbled backwards altogether.
"Oh my gosh! Mandy? Are you okay? I'm sorry, I should have warned you sooner..." James said worriedly. Many began vaguely aware of the close proximity they were suddenly in.
James' right hand was resting at the small of her back and the other on her shoulder. His face was close enough she could have kissed him...
James must have realized how close they were as well, because he cleared his throat and stepped back, adjusting his glasses. Mandy shook herself, bending to pick up her flowers. James must have had the same thought because he reached down as well. They knocked heads, Mandy staggering back again.
"I'm so sorry Mandy!" James sputtered, rubbing his forehead. He handed her the flowers, and Mandy took them, hand still poking at the goose egg that was rising on her head.
Luckily, it wasn't that much farther to Animal Ark, and the two teens stumbled in the front door, both clutching their heads. Both Dr. Hopes were sitting next to Jean.
"STOP!" Jean yelled, pointing at the mistletoe. Mandy face-palmed. She had completely forgotten about the booby trap over the front door. James looked around confusedly before fixing on the leafy sprig above his head. His mouth formed a silent 'O'.
"Looks like the kiddos got caught under the mistletoe" Adam Hope said teasingly.
"Erm..." Mandy said, trying to sidle away from the evil plant hanging above her. James remained frozen.
"Remember the golden rule of mistletoe" Emily Hope said, smiling at her daughter. Mandy grimaced.
"Can I just have some ice?" She asked quietly. Jean shook her head.
"No ice until after the kiss" The adults said in unison. Mandy felt tears welling up in her eyes. This wasn't how it was supposed to happen, they were supposed to kiss romantically, not when they had just whacked heads and had her whole family watching.
"What's all this?" Simon came in, wiping his hands.
James broke out his trace, taking Mandy's arm and planting a rather messy kiss on her lips, then turning away, flushing bright pink. Jean sat back down. Mandy felt tears spilling down her cheeks.
"Mandy, what's wrong?" Emily asked, the smile gone from her face.
Mandy blinked at her family, then burst into tears, running into the back room. James watched her go, looking like he'd been whacked over the head with something rather hard.