I changed into one of the few dresses I had, redid my makeup so it was considerably more neutral, and did a bit of touching up my hair before heading back down to Raphael’s car.
“Back so soon?” he asked, starting up the Ferrari.
“Changing clothes isn’t rocket science.” I replied, getting him to raise an eyebrow in surprise, “Now let’s get a move on before we’re late.”
“Right.” He said quickly, moving onto the road.
When we got to Gus’ place he knocked on the door, not even looking remotely surprised when it swung in immediately afterwards.
Talgus’ eyes moved from him to me, and a knowing smile was on his face.
“Raphael. Katarina. Glad you two made it.”
We headed inside, and I almost died of embarrassment. What a way for him to find out, after he’d seen us squabbling during training, no less.
It turned out that the dinner was quite a small affair, with Gus’ family and a few of his other alumni. Raphael and I enlisted our services to help Nina out with the food, and I was just grabbing some plates when Raphael poked my shoulder, pointing at the ceiling afterwards.
I had barely caught a sight of the mistletoe hanging from the doorway before he stole a kiss from me, nearly making me drop the plates.
“Everything alright?” Nina asked, smiling, when she came in a second later.
“Yeah, of course.” I replied, taking what she was holding to the table too.
I didn’t know who had put up mistletoe in the house, but I was going to have to watch my back.
When the food and everything was laid out we all sat down, and I clapped my hands gleefully as Nina handed out Christmas crackers.
I pulled mine apart, noting with delight that it had chocolates in it. Sutton nudged me with his shoulder and I realized with horror that his had a sprig of mistletoe in it. He slipped it into his pocket with a discreet wink.
Someone was out to ruin me.
The dinner went well, both the company and food were great, but every now and then Raphael would touch my leg with his foot under the table, and I could all but try to keep from choking.
When it got to be too much I kicked him discreetly in the shin, but it did little to stop him.
“So, Katarina, how has the Ballet been treating you?” Gus asked, friendly as ever.
“Well.” I managed, “It’s tough, but I love it.”
“Raphael, I told you she would go far, no?” he smiled, addressing the mischievous devil sitting beside me.
He was on the verge of responding but I decided to exact my revenge, crossing my legs and running the toe of my heel down his calf.
“Yes, um, yes you...did.” he stuttered, making me want to burst out laughing.
“Are you going to get her to audition with other troupes?” Gus asked, taking a sip of his wine.
I put my hand on his thigh and started drawing imaginary designs on it with my finger.
“No!” he said suddenly, before continuing, embarrassed, “I mean, she should settle into the rhythm of things first. See...how things work.”
“That makes sense, Raphael.” Gus replied, cutting at his turkey, “How are your other projects coming along?”
I had just run my hand halfway down his thigh, and his expression looked blank.
“He’s asking whether or not you liked the turkey.” I whispered under my breath, enjoying myself.
“It’s, uh, great. My compliments to the chef.”
The entire table stared at him and it took all of my will not to burst out laughing.
The conversation moved on, and Raphael shot me a glare.
I smiled sweetly at him in reply. The rest of the dinner went well, and we all exchanged gifts before saying our goodbyes.
Naturally, as soon as we were out of everyone’s sight Raphael put his prize mistletoe to good use, and despite how I was somewhat annoyed I couldn’t help but laugh at his efforts.
The holidays really were the most wonderful time of the year.