Thank you for all your great reviews. It seems Eric is less in danger of being hit by you (being hit on is an entirely different matter :-P).
Before you read this chapter, I want to remind you that I am following the books, but I jump a bit back and forth. In every chapter there is at least one quote from the books, sometimes slightly altered (have you found them all?) and I also try to keep Eric and Sookie “in character”. Sometimes I change them a little bit, though, because there are things a powerful vampire can say and do, which would be just plain silly for a human Eric to copy.
Thank you very much to Rascalthemutant at the Alexander Skarsgård Library Forum for reading this and for having patience with me.
I started cleaning, which was what I usually did when I had a lot on my mind, but then I just fell back in the couch and started reading one of my romance novels. I needed an escape from reality and romance novels did the job perfectly.
Of course the novel also made me miss the romance I had had in my life so very recently. Though I was having a blissful moment of being happy and content reading the book, I had one of those stray ideas you get at odd moments.
I thought, How nice it would be if Eric were here with me on the couch. He’d look so good lying with his head in my lap, my fingers through his hair, and he’d enjoy the moment. Well, yeah, up until he started to worry whether I was another one of his mother`s schemes.
But I realized I’d thought of Eric because it was the kind of day you wanted to share with the person you cared about, the person whose company you enjoyed the most. And that would be Eric as he’d been while he was cursed by a bitchy witch – or was it a witchy bitch? The Eric who hadn’t been hardened by his mother, the Eric who had no contempt for other people, the Eric who was not in charge of a company and responsible for the lives and incomes of quite a few of my colleagues. In other words, Eric as he would never be again.
Ding-dong, the witch was dead, or at least on her way to prison, and Eric was restored to his character as it was now. The restored Eric was wary of me, was fond of me (maybe), and didn’t trust me (or his feelings) an inch.
And speaking of the sun, Eric unlocked the front door, hung up his coat and came into the living room, sporting a frown.
“Is Charles gone? I would have loved to have thrown him out myself,” was the first thing he said.
“It`s taken care of. I told him to leave immediately.”
Eric came over to sit next to me on the couch and he took my hand.
“I`m sorry you had to go through that, Sookie. Charles should never have been in this house with you.”
I patted his hand reassuringly.
“Don`t worry, Eric. I`m a big girl.”
“I know. I still wish you hadn`t been mixed up in my problems.”
He got up and went to the kitchen.
“Have you eaten?” he shouted back to the living room and instead of shouting back, I walked to him.
“No, I haven`t,” I said.
“Great. I bought a few things and I`ll make you an Eric-special.”
He smiled at me and I smiled back. I knew I should have initiated a talk about his mood swings, but then I never was one for big conversations.
“You don`t have to, Eric,” I said.
“But I want to.”
He did cook a perfect meal and while we ate, we had fun. Not quite the same carefree banter we had earlier in the summer, but enough for me to breathe a little easier.
We went to bed and even if it was in different bedrooms, I actually smiled when I fell asleep.
I was alone in the house when I got up the next morning. I was disappointed when Eric wasn`t in the house.
I went to get the paper and realized the mail had come too. I usually didn`t get any mail. The few people I knew, were not really letter-writing people. Tara and my brother Jason would update on Twitter and Facebook and that would be where I would learn anything about what was going on with them.
I was pretty sure if one of them died they would somehow manage to send out a tweet saying `sookie am dead, come 2 funeral, no singing please :-P` or something.
But today there was a letter with my name on it. It was from UDI, the Norwegian Immigration, and when I saw the logo my heart started jumping. I knew I only had a temporary work permit and a letter could either mean that it was now permanent – or that it had been revoked.
I cursed because I hadn`t given my work permit a second thought since the meeting with Andy Bellefleur and that was ages ago. How could I have been so negligent?
I opened the letter and felt a wave of sadness and despair when I read what it said. UDI had apparently found that there weren`t any grounds for letting me have a work permit anymore and it was revoked immediately. Which meant I couldn`t even go to work on Monday.
I just slumped down on the floor in the hallway. So this was the end of my Norwegian adventures? I had been tricked to come over, started to build a life here, and now it was over?
I could have seen this as a sign. Maybe I was supposed to go home and leave the troubled Northman-Ravenscroft family behind me. I could start all over in my own country, maybe even go home to Louisiana. I could meet a nice American guy, buy a house with a white picket fence and have a couple of kids with him. No culture clash and no mean mother-in-laws to worry about. Well, no mean multi-millionaire mother-in-laws, at least.
But I didn`t want to. It hit me like a shovel. I didn`t want to leave.
I wanted to stay. I liked my job. I liked the country. I like Pam. And I liked …
There was no point. If UDI had decided I should go, I might as well pack my bags. My tourist visa would expire soon and with no work permit, I would not be able to extend it.
Just when my brain was going 100 miles an hour on a narrow country road, I heard the front door open and close. And then Eric was in the hallway, looking at me with fright in his eyes.
He bent down on his knees next to me and gently took my hand.
“What happened, Sookie?”
I tried to get up, but my legs weren`t functioning.
“I`m being shipped out of the country,” I said with sadness in my voice. I held up the letter from UDI and Eric grabbed it and started reading.
Suddenly he hissed.
“FAENS JÆVLA PIKKHUE,” he yelled and I winced. Did he just say `Damned, fucking cockhead`?
I was certainly learning new Norwegian words every day.
“Yeah, I know,” I answered. What could I say?
“Fucking Andre. And my fucking mother.” Eric was really pissed.
“Who`s Andre?” I asked, but then I saw the name of the department manager signing the UDI-letter. Andre Paul. I looked at Eric because that name meant absolutely nothing to me.
“He`s one of my mother`s many little helpers.”
“What? Why?” I felt like a kindergarten kid at a university-lecture. I didn`t get anything.
“My mother desperately wants grandkids. She needs grandkids because of some family shit. And I suppose she feels you are standing in her way of getting them.” Eric`s face was hard as rock and it almost scared me.
“What?” I was repeating myself. “And why is she so desperate now? It`s not like you have some kind of expiration date.” I looked at him. “Is it?”
“My mother needs grandkids from both me and Pam to stay ahead in a power struggle in both the Northman and the Ravenscroft families. My mother is trying to keep her position in both families. Of course, Pam`s father is still alive which makes it easier to stay in control without Pam having procreated. My little swimmers, on the other hand, are very important to my mother.” He sighed before he started talking again. “But things have escalated now that my cousin Victor, my father`s sister`s son, had a kid. Apparently that kid tips the balance and my mother wants something on her side of the scales. 10 pounds of baby would suit her just perfectly.” Eric spat out. “As if I would ever be a suitable father.” He said the last words to himself.
Eric got up and went to take of his coat and boots. He was deep in thought and his brows tried hard to meet in the middle over his nose.
Suddenly a wave of empathy and pity for him washed over me. How could he live with a mother who tried to manipulate such an important part of his life? Who tried to make him have kids when he clearly didn`t want any and didn`t have anyone to have them with. Who tried to push girls in and out of his life.
Eric turned around and gave me a long hard stare. I felt silly, sitting on the floor and started to get up.
Before I got anywhere, Eric was down on his knees with me again.
“Marry me, Sookie. That way you can stay in Norway.”
I knew my mouth was hanging open, but I couldn’t help it. `Catching flies,` my grandmother had called that expression, and I felt like I was catching plenty of them.
I couldn`t marry him because I wanted to stay in Norway and I certainly couldn`t marry him to spite his mother. Then why was a little voice inside me cheering?
I`d never been a girl who wanted romantic proposals followed up by huge diamond rings, but being asked to marry a guy, sitting on a hallway floor, because you are being thrown out of a country, was definitely not the way I had imagined the start of any married life.
“I can`t marry you just because I don`t want to leave Norway, Eric,” I finally said. I kept his hand in mine.
“Would it help if I said I didn`t want you to leave?”
“It`s still a practical reason. I would prefer to marry for love.” I whispered the last word.
“And how are you and I ever going to love each other if you leave?” Eric asked matter-of-factly.
“But how can we know that we ever will?”
“You want to stay. I want you to stay. You can stay if we marry. It doesn`t have to be more complicated. If you want, we can make it a small wedding with no guests. That way no one will know if you change your mind and want a divorce. And you only have to be married to me for three years to gain permanent residency. Surely I`m not that bad. ” Now he had the smug smile I knew from before his memory loss.
I couldn`t help smiling back. It was contagious.
“But we still stay the same.” I stated and when he looked at me quizzically, I elaborated with one word. “Friends.”
Eric laughed. “Are you denying me my marital rights?”
“You better believe it, buster.” I poked him in the chest.
Eric got up and pulled me up too.
“Let`s go celebrate our engagement.”
“I haven`t said yes yet, Eric.”
“Oh, you will.”
“What if one of us falls in love with someone else?” I asked.
Eric looked at me.
“I`m asking you to marry me and already you are planning on falling in love with someone else?”
“Come on, Eric. With all your lady friends, it`s more likely to be you than me who wants out of this arranged marriage.”
“Yes, because I fall in love every day. Do you know how many women I`ve asked to marry me?”
I didn`t answer.
“One. And I`m looking at her right now.” And he looked at me. “Sure this won`t be some romantic wedding with a kid on the way, but we are friends and that might just make our marriage a stronger one. I am not planning on falling in love so I suggest that you and I get married for practical reasons and live the way we have lived these last couple of months. I like having you around and unless you have some secret lover stashed away, I suggest we make it permanent.”
“Hmm, there`s always Quinn.” I couldn`t help myself.
“Quinn? The kid manning the phones at Viking Games? What is he … 19 or something?”
Then he saw my teasing smile and launched himself at me and started tickling. I screamed out and tried to get away, but he was stronger than me.
“I`ll give you Quinn.” He laughed.
Do you remember that I let you vote on Quinn entering the story a few chapters back? You were pretty unanimous that you didn`t want him as Sookie`s lover. Your wish is my command (when it fits the story, at least) so Quinn is just an extra. 😀
This is the last chapter in 2009. I`m off for a trip to New York, Puerto Rico and the islands we know as The Danish West Indies. Their official name is US Virgin Islands, but I suppose we Danes just can`t accept the fact that we sold the islands to the USA in 1917…
I wish you all a very merry Christmas (or whichever celebration you have) and a happy New Year! Thank you for being great readers and reviewers in 2009. You have made me smile so many times 😀
God jul og godt nyttår (merry Christmas and a Happy New Year).