“Good thing being friends isn’t fraternization then.” I motion to the crowd up ahead. “Lead the way.”
She hesitates for a moment before she begins walking. “Litha is a celebration of the fertility of the gods and is often celebrated with a bonfire.”
I scan the area. “I don’t see a bonfire.”
“Because there isn’t one. You should know how bad bonfires are for the environment.”
I ignore her chastisement. Her opinion on my knowledge of the environment is not news. She made it perfectly clear what she thought of my lack of an environmental engineering degree when I took over the position of CEO at Clean Mountain Environment.
“If there’s no bonfire, how do you celebrate?”
“In addition to the street fair.” She motions to the various vendors lining the sides of the street. “We have a drum circle dance, and we jump over the bonfire.”
“Hold up. You just said there’s no bonfire.”
“Winter Falls doesn’t allow anything – including a ban on bonfires – to stop it from carrying out pagan traditions.”
“This I’ve got to see.”
She checks her watch. “I believe they’re about to begin. Come along.”
I follow her through the crowd until we reach the town square. Two poles are set up in the middle of the square with a pile of hay in between them.
“Is the hay the bonfire?”
“We used candles in the past but after Forest attempted to set a new jumping record and ended up burning his t-shirt in the process, we decided to use strictly non-flammable items.”
“Set a new jumping record? Is jumping over the bonfire a contest?”
“It is and because I was unsuccessful in passing the no gambling legislation, it’s also high stakes.”
“No gambling legislation?”
“Nope,” Ashlyn yells as she joins us. “No lecturing about how we bet too much. It does no one any harm.”
“Except Forest ruined his favorite t-shirt and got second degree burns on his back.”
“Come on. You’re jumping.” Ashlyn shoves her sister, but Lilac plants her feet.
“I do not jump. I’m judging.”
“I agreed with Rowan I wouldn’t jump as long as you act as my proxy.”
“Who’s Rowan?” I ask.
She indicates a man across the street. He has his arms crossed over his massive chest as he glares our way. “My baby daddy. Which is why I can’t jump.” She rolls her eyes. “According to him, I shouldn’t be doing ‘strenuous’ activities while I’m pregnant. Good thing sex isn’t considered strenuous.” She winks. “Although the way we do it is.”
“Why can’t Aspen be your proxy?” Lilac asks before I can manage to figure out a way to respond to Ashlyn.
“Duh. Aspen’s my rival. And it’s up to you to kick her butt.”
“Me? Maybe you should ask Beckett’s sister, Cassandra.”
Ashlyn indicates the line Cassandra is already standing in. “She wants to win on her own.”
“I’ll be your proxy,” I tell Ashlyn, knowing damn well Lilac will see my offer as an attempt to interfere.
“No, you won’t,” Lilac says, and I cough to hide my smile. “I’ll do it.” She hands Ashlyn the clipboard she’s carrying. “But you have to judge, and you won’t play favorites.”