Chapter 32

A/N:

Thank you so much for all your great reviews and PMs. They are even better than Freia Milk Chocolate (which is my sin and joy).

And thank you so much to Rascalthemutant for reading this, correcting mistakes and pointing out missing suitcases!


Eric and Pam had their stomach contents pumped when they went to the hospital and after a night on observation, they were both well enough to be released. Sophie Anne was in a poorer state, but was picked up and was halfway back to her British mansion before any of us got to talk to her.

For a brief moment the thought of her having a tube down her throat was amusing, but then I felt sorry for her.

And for Eric and Pam. They looked grey and weak when I picked them up at the hospital and got us all into a taxi for the airport. I had become so used to Eric fixing everything; it was actually nice to be the one in charge for once.

I booked first class tickets and made sure we all got seats on the first row. I didn`t want everyone turning around and staring at us.

And as the PR-professional I was, I had made sure we didn`t have to face the swarm of reporters I imagined would be meeting us at Oslo airport. I had the airport security give us access to the celebrity exit and soon we were in a car back to Oslo. Pam in the front with the driver and Eric and I in the back.

I breathed out. I felt a huge rock falling from my shoulders now that I had Pam and Eric close to Oslo and the safety of their apartments.

“I wonder who did this to you and why?” I asked out in the air. Pam had fallen asleep and Eric looked as if he had bought a ticket for the Slumberland-Express too.

He regained consciousness and looked at me.

“I`m sure we`ll know soon enough. I`m just surprised the Danish police couldn`t get any of the guys they arrested to talk.”

I nodded. “I`ll call them when we get home. Maybe they know something now.”

Eric straightened up in his seat.

“Sookie,” he took my hand. “Thank you for helping Pam and me.”

I looked at Eric and saw an emotionless face.

“Yeah, you know…” I started. “I couldn`t just leave you, could I?”

“Yes, you could, but you didn`t,” Eric stated.

I looked out the window and Eric continued.

“I don`t want to be arguing with you, Sookie.”

I nodded. I didn`t want to argue either, but it seemed inevitable sometimes. “I know,” was all I said.

“I`ve been pursuing you ever since you got here and I`m getting tired of it.”

I stiffened and looked at the driver.

“Can we continue this when we get home?” I asked.

“We can, but I might as well say what I want to say now. I`m not getting tired of you, but I`m getting tired of taking all the initiatives here. You`ve come to a country where gender equality is highly valued and that`s what I want from us now.”

I didn`t get what he was saying.

“You want us to be more equal? How?”

Eric pulled me closer and made sure I couldn`t look away.

“I am not going to pursue you anymore. I will be your friend and I will not endanger your work permit, but I will not take any romantic or sexual initiatives before you do.”

“What are you saying? You want to date other women? I`ve never stood in your way.” I was getting slightly agitated.

I tried pulling my hand away from his, but he sighed and held on.

“No, I don`t want to date anyone else. But I`m not dating you unless you invite me out. Until then, we are just friends.”

The stone that had fallen from my shoulders, had apparently taken up residency in my stomach. I felt bad. I didn`t understand him at all.

“You have to help me out here, Eric. I`m not sure what you mean.”

“I mean that I like you, but I need to know that you like me as well and before I do, you will have to initiate everything and anything between us.”

“So you want me to ask you out?”

“I want to you to ask me out, kiss me, grope me, throw yourself after me. Take your pick. But you have to be the one doing it.”

Eric leaned back again and closed his eyes. I wasn`t sure if he expected me to kiss him or leave him alone. I chose the latter. Taking initiatives was really not something I was used to doing. I was not brought up to it and it took courage I didn`t have.

After some time the silence became awkward even for me.

“I`m not sure I can do that, Eric.”

Eric opened his eyes again and looked at me.

“Well, then you and I are in trouble.”

Xxxx

When we got back from Denmark, Eric went to his room to sleep and I called the Danish police. They still had no clue as to why we had been attacked. They said the only thing they found in common between all of the men was their connection to the group `41`, named after the address Jagtvej 41. Jaktveien 41 had been a place people hung out and had free concerts until the city of Copenhagen had sold it to a religious group. Apparently the group `41` had wanted to start another place like the one that had been sold, but as far as the Danish police knew, this was their only goal.

“Is this why they were 41 people there?” I asked.

“It could be, but it really doesn`t make any sense. This is a not a violent group. Of course they have their political views, often pretty anarchistic, but they have never been dangerous. And they still haven`t said a word about why they drugged a whole party.”

I thanked him and hung up. I went to Eric`s room and knocked quietly on the half-open door. Eric was on his bed, talking to what sounded like his mother.

I went into the living room and waited for him to finish the conversation. When he never came out, I figured a bit of fresh air would do me good. Or maybe I just couldn`t be in the apartment knowing that Eric was possibly waiting for me in his bed.

I walked up Bogstadveien, but hadn`t walked far when I suddenly saw my own face in print. And not just one place. In the newsstand my face was all over the gossip rags. I was sporting a silly smile and Eric was holding me close to him.

Apparently Eric`s and my wedding was hot news and our wedding photos were all over the place. Suddenly the wedding seemed so long ago.

The magazines reported from our wedding whereas the newspapers had the raid in Denmark on the frontpages. Headlines screamed out the news. They all had large pictures of Sophie Anne and smaller of Eric and me.

I bought a couple of the newspapers and magazines and while I was waiting to pay, I noticed Sophie Anne`s picture on two British newspapers as well and decided to pick them up too.

I suddenly felt uncomfortable walking around, feeling as if everyone`s eyes were on me, talking about me, assessing me. I wasn`t a celebrity and I didn`t want to be one. I started to doubt if marrying Eric had been such a grand idea.

Xxxx

Eric and I settled into the apartment and into a normal life again. Eric was his friendly self, but had edited out all sexual innuendos and come-ons from his behavior. It made it very comfortable to be with him, but I soon started to feel something was lacking. I had become so used to Eric wanting me – and showing it – life with him felt empty without it.

It took us a few days to figure out why we had been attacked in Denmark and when we found out, we were so shocked we had problems finding words for it.

We had been discussing if the attack was about theft, blackmail or even rape. Rohypnol is after all nicknamed `rape-drug`. The truth slapped us in the face when a reporter called us for comments on the new website telling the `truth` about Sophie Anne and her companies.

Eric and I went online on each of our laptops and sat next to each other on the couch, staring at each of our screens.

I gaped and Eric groaned. We were both looking at a picture of Sophie Anne, deeply drugged but with open eyes and a silly, drugged grin, half-naked and without the wig I never knew she had been wearing.

She held a huge sign saying: “I use child labor.” That was what the picture I was looking at said. On Eric`s laptop the sign said: “I kill animals to wear them.” There were plenty of different pictures and we looked through them all. Sophie Anne was pictured with more than ten signs all in all, all of them telling people how she used and abused people and animals.

I looked further and it seemed as if a lot of the guests had had their pictures taken with embarrassing signs. I looked through them all, but there were no pictures of Pam or Eric. Luckily I had come early enough to save them from the degradation. Or maybe there never were any signs made for them?

I couldn`t help wondering what kind of messages Eric would have been holding if they had managed to take his picture. As far as I could assess, he kept his business pretty clean. At least that was what I hoped. I was after all his PR-advisor.

That made me remember my job.

“Eric, you have to call your mother and tell her about this so that she can take steps with her PR-people. And then you will have to give some kind of press statement. ”

I hated to think what that statement would sound like. Eric couldn`t very well denounce his own mother, but it would be devastating to be seen as collaborator to someone who used child labor. Even if it was the person who gave birth to you.

When Eric hung up after having talked to his mother, he looked so sad I had to give him a hug. Hugging Eric was very strange because he was brotherly now and never touched me or kissed me. He just leaned in, took my comfort and then pulled back.

xxxx

Eric and I worked together and lived together. We laughed a lot and never quarreled. But something was missing. It wasn`t just the sex because Eric and I hadn`t had sex that often, it was the sexual tension, the knowing that Eric lusted after me.

I never thought I would miss him saying `yield to me`, but I did.

Eric was more quiet than he had been before Denmark and he was on the phone with his mother quite a lot.

“How is she doing?” I asked him one night just after he had talked to her.

“Not good. She won`t go out at all because she thinks everyone will laugh at her. Apparently people seeing a picture with her without her wig was much worse than people knowing she used child labor,” Eric said with a bitter voice.

“So who is running the company?”

“She is trying to make me do it.” Eric had a grim look on his face.

“Are you going to?”

Eric sighed. “Not if I can help it.”

We sat in quiet for some time. Then I took a breath. We needed to talk.

“How are you doing, Eric? I mean, everything with your mother and…” I wanted to say `me`, but I didn`t think I had that much influence on his wellbeing.

Eric tuned his head and his blue eyes scrutinized me.

“To tell you the truth, Sookie. I`ve been better.”

His hand was on his thigh and all I wanted to do was to grab it and hold it. And possibly weave a hand into his hair and caress it. I wanted so much to comfort him and all I managed was to sit at my end of the couch and do absolutely nothing.

“I`m so sorry, Eric. If I can help you… do something…” I trailed off.

Eric smiled a sad smile. “I`ve already told you what I want from you.”

“You want me to ask you out?”

Eric opened his mouth and closed it again. He shook his head. “You should know the answer to that one.”

I huffed and neither of us spoke for a while. I could have asked him out and I probably should have too, but I just couldn`t face the implications of going out with Eric. Which was probably ridiculous since we were married. Doctor Phil would have had a field day with my denying the obvious.

Then Eric squirmed a little.

“Actually I would like you to go out with me tomorrow night,” he said.

“You are asking me out now? What about you wanting me to take the initiative?”

“It`s not a date. Someone else wants to meet you and he contacted me to set it up.”

“You are setting me up with someone else?” I couldn`t believe what I was hearing.

Eric rolled his eyes at me. “Of course I`m not. I`ll let him tell you why he wanted to see you, but if it`s any consolation: The man is on the wrong side of 80. So no, I`m not sending my wife off with someone else.”

The way he said `wife` made my stomach jump a little bit. And I actually think it was from joy. I figured I wanted us back on a good note.

“Now you have me all curious. Who is he and what does he want?”

Eric smirked. “I`m not telling you. That`s my punishment for you thinking I would let you date someone else.”

I gave his upper arm a friendly push. “Come on. You can`t expect me to go out with an old guy without knowing who he is.”

“Yes, I can. Because I know you are curious enough to do it.”

“What if I say no?”

“It will be your loss. This has absolutely nothing to do with me. He just contacted me because I know him vaguely from England.”

“England?”

“Yes, my mother lives in England, remember?” Eric teased. “I have been to visit her. I even lived there for a while.”

“I know that, but what I was asking was, is the guy English?”

“I`m not telling.” Eric giggled like a school girl.

Before I knew what was happening, I threw myself at him and started tickling him. Soon we were play fighting, throwing pillows at each other and using all the dirty tricks in the book. We laughed and screamed and suddenly I was on the floor with Eric on top of me.

We both froze because this was much more than just goofing around. I could feel Eric`s erection against my thigh and my heavy breathing wasn`t just from the fun we had just had.

Eric`s eyes were blazing and I expected him to kiss me. I almost pouted my mouth in anticipation of his warm lips on mine, but nothing happened.

Or something happened and that was Eric getting up and rearranging his clothes.

I sighed when he kissed my forehead and declared he was going to bed.

Alone.

Unless I brought myself to joining him. And I just couldn`t do that. I sat up on the living room floor and let my face rest in my palm.

How had I gotten myself into this mess?

Xxxx

Eric went to work early the next morning and I decided to work out of home. I needed a few hours without looking at Eric`s perfect body and hearing his deep voice. I had to have a break from his charming smile and his seducing eyes.

Eric was getting to me in a way I couldn`t control. And I didn`t know what to do about it.

I had worked for a few hours when the doorbell rang and I went to answer it. Outside was an Asian looking guy; maybe Thai, but when he opened his mouth his Norwegian was without any accent I could detect.

“I am Jonathan. I come from the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration.”

“Hello,” I answered, not sure what he wanted.

“I am here to check up on you.”

“What?” I asked.

“We have had a report that you are only married in order to get you a Work Permit, which is against the law. So I am here to check if you are actually living together as a married couple. May I come in?”

I didn`t like this one bit. What was he going to check and how?

“Could this wait? My husband,” I stressed the word `husband`, “is at work and I would rather that he was present too.”

Jonathan, who apparently didn`t have a last name, didn`t like it one bit, but it seemed he needed my permission to enter, so he nodded. “When will your husband,” he said the word `husband` as if it was a poor joke, “come home?”

“This afternoon, I guess.” I tried to be vague about it.

“I will return at five, then. Make sure he is home then.”

Jonathan turned around and left. As soon as he was gone, I called Eric.

Eric`s reaction was short. “Fuck.”

“Why do they want to check up on us? I mean, we are in all the magazines as a happily married couple. One would think they would have plenty of other people to visit before us.”

Eric sighed. “Yes, one would think that.”

“Are you coming home, then?”

“Of course. And you must move all my clothes and things into your room.”

“Why?”

“Because the first thing they check is whether a couple sleeps together. So we will start sharing bedroom. And bed.”

My heart pounded. I didn`t want to share beds with Eric and yet when I looked myself in the mirror, I had a huge smile on my face.

I wished I could make up my mind.


A/N:

Oh, don`t go after Sookie now. I know we all would have thrown ourselves after the guy, but that would make a boring story, right? Right?

Free beer (you have to pick it up yourself, though :-D) for those who remember who Jonathan is (and yes, he is Asian/Thai in the books, so I made him that here as well – no offence to anyone).

This chapter is actually what made me start writing this whole story. A colleague of mine married a girl from Kenya and told us all about how the UDI came home to him and, among others, checked if they slept in the same bed. That made my SVM-obsessed brain think “hmmmm, what if Eric and Sookie had to sleep in the same bed because of UDI?” It only took me 32 chapters to get to it…

The group “41” is loosely based on the Danish group “De Autonome”. I don`t think they ever drugged a castle full of people, but they do fight imperialism, racism, capitalism and sexism (according to Wikipedia) and they have anarchistic roots. They were thrown out of “Ungdomshuset” (The Youth House) in 2007 because the house was sold to a religious group. Ungdomshuset was situated on Jagtvej 69 and the group fighting for it, was often just referred to as “69”. Ungdomshuset being sold caused demonstrations and riots, but De Autonome also use humor in their attempt to “wake up” people – like when they demanded “more opera houses” because they felt sorry for rich people getting so little culture.


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