Chapter 22

A/N:

These last few chapters have been hard to write (which is why it`s taking me so long). I prefer writing about people finding each other, not people turning away from each other. But that`s part of life and certainly part of the SVM-world. This is why all your great reviews and PMs have warmed my heart so much.

As you can see, I`m still following the books, but jumping a bit back and forth. Generally speaking, we are now at the end of book 4. And no, I`m not having Debbie Pelt`s brains all over Eric`s curtains.

I really want to thank Rascalthemutant for reading this through and giving it thumbs up. And for reminding me of Debbie Pelts last name. My brain is not made for remembering names. Arrgh!


I just stared at him. Yes, I was pleased with myself. We had just had an article in the most important newspaper in Norway, an article that would most likely get Viking Games back on its feet and now it seemed Eric was well too.

And yet he sounded like I had taken the last chocolate from his candy bag. Angry, disappointed, sad.

“What do you mean, `am I pleased with myself`, Eric?” I asked in a neutral tone of voice.

“Why did you finally decide to sleep with me, Sookie?” Eric got up and came over to me. He looked like a predator, ready to jump his victim.

“Why? Is sleeping with you a bad thing now, Eric?” I hissed. Then I ran out the door and remembered to slam it too. Yay for childish me.

I was fuming my way through the streets of Oslo. If the snow plowing people hired by the city wondered why some streets were suddenly free of snow, it would have been me melting it with my anger.

After a while I cooled down and then some. I had been walking in circles with no destination. My realizing that I had nowhere to go when I was angry with Eric made me sick to my stomach. He was my landlord, my living companion, my boss and, at least for a short period, my lover. His sister and a few colleagues were the only other people I knew in this cold city. Well I also knew Alcide and Debbie, but they were not really on the top of my `people I call when I`m in pain`-list.

I`d never really been a person with a lot of close friends, but on a cold bench in the Vigeland park, I made a decision to try and make friends in the future. Back home I really only had Tara, who was my childhood friend, and she had never been one I could confide in. We could go dancing together, but were never really close.

I swallowed my self-pity, got up and made a few resolutions with myself. I would create a life for myself here in Norway, independent of Eric and Pam, and I would have fun doing it.

With that new found inner strength I decided to go back to Eric`s house and check out some possibilities on my computer. Maybe I could find friends online, maybe I could join a charity or maybe I could do some more evening classes on top of the Norwegian classes I was taking?

When I came to Eric`s house, I decided to tip toe. I didn`t want to see Eric and I certainly didn`t want to talk to him.

I put the key in the lock and gently pushed the door open. I was all the way inside and trying to close the door quietly when I heard voices from the living room. I am usually not one to eavesdrop, but I froze like the statues in the park I had just visited when I heard Chow.

“As I told you on the phone, Eric, you are not going to like what I`m going to tell you now.”

They spoke Norwegian, but it was loud and clear and I got most of it.

“Just get on with it. I keep thinking she can`t hurt me anymore, but I`m pretty sure you are going to prove me wrong, right?”

For a short second I thought Eric was referring to me, but then I shook it off. I hadn`t hurt Eric repeatedly, had I?

“I took a good look at e-mails going in and out of Maryann`s computer, trying to find out who was messing with Viking Games, and it seems that she has had long chats with your mother,” Chow said.

“I don`t really consider her my mother, you know,” Eric growled.

“Ahm yes well. Would you like to know what they discussed? I have transcripts here.”

I could hear paper crinkle.

“As much as a husband wants to know who his wife is cheating on him with.”

“Okay. It seems your mother wanted Maryann to be the next Mrs. Northman. Not that Maryann was unwilling, but they had agreements on how and when your mother was to hook you two up. It seems she even promised Maryann money when she gave birth to your firstborn – an heir.”

I couldn`t see Eric`s reactions, but if they were anywhere near mine, he would be devastated. There was silence for some time. Then Eric spoke again.

“I can see on your face this was not all.”

“No, not really. It seems your mother did the same thing to Marne Stonebrook.”

I heard a heavy sigh.

“My mother was actually in contact with that bitch?”

“Uhm yes. Both before this whole thing and after. Almost promising your hand in marriage. I have the transcripts here.”

Again there was a paper rattle. Apparently Chow was well aware of the problems the Norwegian paper industry was facing because it seemed he had paper worth half a forest.

“I ended up looking thoroughly through your mother`s e-mail correspondence and it seems she has tried to find her future daughter-in-law for years. I won`t go into details, but a lot of the women you have had relationships with, have had some kind of connection to your mother.”

I heard footsteps and it seemed something was smashed. I also learned some new curse words in Norwegian, but it wasn`t hard to imagine what jævla drittkjerring meant when you knew that jævla was damned, dritt was shit and kjerring was bitch. Sophie Anne Northman-Ravenscroft was not a popular woman in this household.

“What about her?” Eric`s voice was tormented.

For a second I wondered who he meant. Then I realized.

“No, I haven`t found anything that linked Sookie to your mother. I even checked Sookie`s mail and her telephone calls. Nothing.”

I cringed standing there in the hallway. Had Eric really suspected me of being someone his mother had planted in his life in her efforts to have grandchildren? I decided even standing there eavesdropping was wrong and I sneaked back into my room.

Instead of firing up my computer, I just laid back and let my thoughts wander.

I jumped when my phone rang. I picked it up and noticed that the number was the same Pam had given me, it was the number of the Aftenposten-reporter that had written such a perfect article in today`s paper.

“Sookie Stackhouse,” I answered wondering what he wanted.

He sounded serious and spent a few minutes beating around the bush. We talked about the article, I praised him for his writing skills and we talked about what would happen to Viking Games and Marne and Mark Stonebrook.

“I can hear you have something else you want to discuss…” I tried to make him get to the point.

“Yes,” he sighed. “And this is not going to be an easy question.” He almost sounded embarrassed.

“Then you better ask it quickly and get it over with,” I tried to joke, but my throat was dry.

“Okay, here goes. Did Eric Northman rape you?” he asked with a sigh.

“WHAT?”

“Well, I know you were raped some time ago and that it happened in Eric Northman`s house. A person has been calling me to tell me you were raped by Eric Northman. She called me directly since my name was on the byline on today`s story about him.”

“She?”

He decided to overhear that one.

“I`ve already called Eric Northman about it, but he gave me the `no comments` run around. I really don`t want to print this story, but I`ll have to unless I get something from you. My editor hates letting a top story go.”

“And you know who this source is?”

“Well, I went to journalism school so I know how to track down a source – and also never to reveal it.”

“Oh, you don`t have to. Her name is Debbie Pelt, right?”

He went quiet.

“I really don`t want my name in the papers in a rape-case, but I want Eric`s name implicated in it even less, because that would be a lie.”

Then I started to tell him about Debbie Rowe, the rape and Eric`s innocence. I felt sick to my stomach, talking about it and I just wanted to go to the shower and scrub my body. The reporter was being very nice and gentle and he promised me he would do his best to keep my name out of the story, even if he couldn`t keep the story out of the paper.

We hung up and I was just about to go to the bathroom to scrub Bill`s rape off me when I heard a knock. I knew who it would be and sure enough, Eric stood outside my door.

He looked down at me with not a very happy face. “I find myself troubled,” he said without preamble.

“Then I’ve got to drop everything so I can help you out,” I said, going instantly on the offensive.

He cocked an eyebrow. “I’ll be polite and ask if I can come in.”

“Yes, you can.” I stepped back.

“Marne and Mark Stonebrook have been taken into questioning by the police.”

“Chow did a good job.”

He nodded. “It was Marne or me,” he said. “I like me better.”

I looked at him. Of course he liked himself better.

“We were together several nights when I lost my memory.” Eric had decided to change the subject.

“Yes,” I said. I tried to look agreeably interested in what he had to say.

“We made love, but did we share anything else?”

I didn’t pretend to misunderstand him. He was talking about the big dangerous word starting with L. And I didn`t mean lust.

“Eric, does that seem likely?” I asked.

He hadn’t sat down, and he moved closer to me, as if looking at me hard would reveal the truth. It would have been easy to take a step, be even closer.

“I just don’t know,” he said. “And it’s making me a little aggravated.”

I smiled. “Are you enjoying going back to work?”

“Yes. But Pam ran everything well during my absence.”

We were quiet for some time. I had a million questions, but I couldn`t ask even one of them. We had been so close and now we were on different planets. He had been through a lot, but so had I. For a short moment I cried inside, then I looked up at him and decided to put an end to this uncomfortable talk.

“I liked you a lot better when you didn’t remember who you were,” I said, cringing a little, but also feeling a little better for having said it.

“Harsh words,” he said, and I almost believed he was really hurt. He looked at me with his ice blue eyes. Then he opened his mouth again. “I`ll have dinner ready in 30 minutes,” and then he left.

Xxxxx

I used up almost all the hot water in my shower, but there was probably more water running down the drain than coming out of the shower head. I cried like I had only cried once before since I left my childhood; when Gran died.

My skin was pink from the hot water and the scrubbing and my eyes were red from crying. I just wanted to go to bed and sleep, but I put my sorrow and pain in little boxes inside me, got dressed and went out to Eric and his dinner.

It was just the two of us around the table, but I might as well have been alone. We didn`t talk or laugh. We just ate.

I missed the carefree time before our trip to the cabin. I couldn`t bring myself to miss the lovemaking because that would be too painful to even bring into my brain. But the fun, the jokes, the smiles – I even missed his silly sexual innuendoes.

When I was finished eating, I took my plate, put it in the dishwasher, brushed my teeth and went to bed. I fell asleep momentarily.

Xxxxx

“What the hell did you do?” a male voice yelled and I woke up instantly.

I sat up in bed. It was dark so I wasn`t sure if I had slept an hour or ten. Then I noticed the faint morning light and figured it was around 8 o`clock. Winter was coming and so were apparently the long winter nights.

I looked up and saw Eric waving what appeared to be today`s Aftenposten.

“Have you gone nuts? You told the reporter about the rape?”

I froze. He had promised to keep my name out of it, hadn`t he?

“Why did you do it, Sookie?” Eric looked almost pained.

“To keep you out of the story, of course. Why else would I talk to a perfect stranger about my rape?”

“Well, at least that article killed Debbie Pelt.” Eric threw the newspaper over on my bed and I started reading it with a heart the beat very fast.

It wasn`t an article as much as a personal commentary from the reporter. Aftenposten always had one or two commentaries like that every day and this time it was about my rape. Or rather about how Eric had been set up twice in a short time. And both times by jealous women.

My name was not brought up, but Debbie Pelt`s was and that as early as in the headline. At least Debbie Pelt would now be socially dead in all of Norway. It couldn`t unrape me and it couldn`t take back her attempt at having Eric named as a rapist, but it was a small band-aid. A band-aid after an open heart surgery, yes, but still a band-aid.

I got up, put on some clothes and went to Eric in the kitchen.

“Why were you so mad about this article?” I tried to keep my voice neutral.

“And why do you have to be so damn strong all the time? It would have been perfectly normal for a woman not to want to talk to a reporter about these things. Yes, it helped me that you set the records straight, but the sacrifice was too big.”

I couldn`t decide if Eric was mad or sad. Or both.

“It wasn`t a sacrifice. It was the right thing to do.”

“And you always do the right things, of course.” Now he was mad. And he pressed that little red button in me that said `Warning – press this button for major anger attack.`

“What the hell is that supposed to mean, Eric? And now you`re at it, explain why you asked me if I was pleased with myself yesterday? Why are you so jævla mad at me?” My temper was apparently at a level where I even spat out Norwegian swear words.

Eric looked at me, his eyes turning dark.

“You need to be in control of things, Sookie, and I`m not so sure I like that. You only slept with me when I was weak and crying like a baby. Not in all the months before when I was my usual strong self. You even admitted that you preferred me when I was weak. I`m much easier to boss around that way, right? Having my mother come in to help us and all.”

I tried to interrupt him, but I just looked like some aquarium fish with my mouth bopping open and closed.

“Yes, I`m fully aware of the fact that we did get out on top and that your little chat with the reporter yesterday helped me immensely and I thank you for that.” He didn`t look very grateful. “But I will not have you run my life. Only one person runs my life and his name is Eric Northman.”

And with that Eric Northman turned around and walked out the door. A few minutes later, approximately the time it takes to put on boots, coat, hat and gloves, I heard the front door opening and closing. Not violently. Just opening and closing.

I felt like I had fallen from the moon.


A/N:
So is the desire to punch Eric`s nose larger or smaller than after the last chapter?

I want to say a special thank you to Blue77. She asked me if she could translate my one-shot Winter Vampire into French and I was very flattered. So now I`m officially a translated fanfic-writer (yay!). I just want to mention that Blue77 has written some great stories in English too. Go read them!

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