Bjorn was suddenly speechless, and if it hadn't been for the waitress appearing with four beers, he would probably not have been able to hide his disappointment. But with the other men suddenly all busy paying for their beers, Bjorn could let the initial shock sink in in silence.
It was ridiculous to be disappointed, of course, and this in itself was half the embarrassment for Bjorn. It was not like he knew Ane, and she was in many ways way out of his league, successful, young and beautiful as she was. But he had come to think of her as an heroic lone ranger of sorts, and himself as her trusted ally. And now, that illusion was broken.
Bjorn lifted his glass to his lips, and swallowed a mouth full of beer, not for the thirst, but as a way to hide his embarrassing emotions. He looked at Ola, as he paid the waitress, and he was again struck by the sheer physical size of the man. Had he been just a little bit bigger, he could properly be classified as a giant. And to think that this enormous guy was involved with tiny Ane was almost obscene in its erotic implications.
But Ola had asked Bjorn a question, and it deserved an answer. It also gave Bjorn an opportunity to catch his balance again, and rid himself of his silly immature disappointment.
"I inspected Ane's factory on Wednesday, together with a colleague," Bjorn explained.
"Ah! So you are one of the millimetre guys," Ola said with a friendly smile.
"Is that what she called us?"
"Yep!" Ola answered, still smiling. "Are you the nasty obsessed one, or the nice clueless one?"
Bjorn could not help smiling despite the insult. "Who do you think?" he asked.
"I guess you're the nice clueless one."
"I guess you're right," Bjorn answered. "But was it really that obvious?"
"I'm afraid it was, despite your best efforts."
"Well... Maybe we shouldn't talk more about this," Bjorn continued, looking over at Thomas and Espen who were following the conversation with amusement.
"So you are all from the checkpoint?" Per asked, helpfully changing the subject for Bjorn.
"Yeah," Thomas answered.
"That makes sense."
"Well... Five guys, obviously not all from up here, and not working at the mine either... Where else could you be working."
Thomas took a sip of his beer, leaning back in his chair to look at the people out on the dance floor.
"But you're not from around here either, are you?" Espen asked.
"No... We moved down from Svalbard when they opened the iron mine down here," Ola said helpfully.
"You worked in the coal mines up there?" Espen asked full of wonder. "I've heard it's a crazy place."
"It is... But not as wild as Lundby."
"You think this place is weirder?" Espen asked. "But at least we don't have polar bears wandering the streets in Lundby."
"Sure... But they aren't sending thousands of people to the Longyear village, are they."
"But if it wasn't for that, then Longyear would be weirder than Lundby."
Ola took a sip of his beer. Then, after swallowing the brew with a thoughtful look on his face, he continued. "Lundby is like Longyear on steroids, minus the polar bears."
"What do you mean?" Thomas asked.
"Longyear is a tiny project in comparison to this. And it is more isolated," Ola explained. "This has the potential to become something really big."
Then, turning to Per, Ola continued. "You know, if you don't buy that house, I think I will... I'll see if I can find the money to buy it, and I'll sell it in a few years and make a ton of money."