Oh no – yet another month went since the last chapter *blushes*. Well, I`ve started writing the next one already so I hope I`m forgiven.
I want to thank Rascalthemutant for reading and correcting this chapter between midterms and papers she has to write. She is amazing!
Eric and I had had a night with very little sleep and it had unfortunately not been because we`d humped like bunnies. We`d held hands and kissed. And then we`d spooned and relaxed in each other`s arms. But we hadn`t been able to sleep. There had been too much we`d wanted to talk about and too much we couldn`t discuss.
The next morning Eric went out for a jog and I stayed at home. Not even ten wild horses could make me run in the streets of Oslo when I was more likely to fall and break my legs on ice-glazed streets, than have a nice work out.
Eric had explained that the streets were always this slippery in the spring because temperatures varied between freezing and non-freezing, making the snow thaw and then freeze again. He`d bought me something he calledbrodder which were little spikes I could put under my shoes to prevent me from falling, but one couldn`t run with them so I`d stopped running.
This was the reason why Eric was out when the phone rang. I`d been deep in thought about Appius visiting us and welcomed the interruption. At least until I heard who was on the other end of the line.
“Hello? Iz thiz Sookie?” a familiar voice said in a Spanish accent.
“Yes, hi Felipe,” I answered. I figured that if you`d seen a guy in a Santa-suit, you could be on first name basis with him. “Eric isn`t in right now.”
“Good, good. I am calling to speak to you,” he said.
“Oh really?” That couldn`t be a good thing, could it?
“Yes. I wanted to know how you were doing. Are you better now?” he asked.
“I`m fine,” I said, though it wasn`t entirely the truth.
“Good. I am so sorry that you had to go through this. I know Victor had nothing to do with the cruel attack on you but I have had words with my son about keeping Eric from you. If Victor had not wanted to ruin your vacation, Eric may have been able to prevent the abduction.” Felipe`s accent got stronger and his voice a little darker.
“Thank you,” I answered, not knowing what else I could say.
“Eric is like a second son to me, you know.” Felipe`s voice was soft and cheerful again.
“I didn`t realize this,” I said. I was pretty sure Eric would not consider himself a son of Felipe. He didn`t even want to be his nephew.
“I have already told Victor that he shouldn`t take it for granted that he is my successor,” Felipe continued.
“You know, you really should talk to Eric about this.” I didn`t want to be mixed up in the family affairs.
“You are quite right, Sookie, but I wanted to make sure I had an ally in you. Eric is a very talented businessman and I would like to see him advance to his full potential. Unfortunately the differences between his mother and me may be holding Eric back.”
I was fairly sure that it wasn`t Sophie-Anne`s and Felipe`s fight for power that held Eric back from working his way to the top of the family operation. Eric was happy where he was. He didn`t want the aggravation of sitting at the end of the board room table.
“Again, I think you should talk to Eric about this,” I said.
“Yes. Yes, of course, Sookie. Please give my regards.” I could almost hear the smile on Felipe`s lips.
We said our goodbyes and I was back to my pondering over Eric`s godfather and how I would receive him. I knew I would never have expected Eric to welcome Uncle Bartlett into our home but then Uncle Bartlett had been dead for several years and I didn`t have to worry about him calling me out of the blue.
When Eric came home from his run I could see that he`d been thinking too. That familiar wrinkle between his eyebrows was very deep and his body seemed tense, not relaxed as it usually was when he`d been working out.
He went into the shower without any eyebrow-waggling questions if I wanted to join him. When he came out, clean and smelling so very Eric, he sat down on one of the chairs opposite the couch I was sitting on.
“I`ve been thinking,” he started and I looked at him. “Maybe you should stay with Pam when Appius is here?”
He formed it as a question but it really wasn`t.
“I can do that,” I said. “When will he be here?”
“He will arrive this evening. So if you go to Pam in the afternoon, you won`t have to see him.”
I nodded. I could tell this had been a hard question for Eric to ask me so I didn`t ask him any questions. I assumed he had a good reason to make me leave.
“Sure. I`ll just pack a few bags. Have you talked to Pam about it already?”
“Do you know what Appius wants? I mean, you haven`t talked to him for ages, have you?” I asked.
“No, I haven`t talked to him since … ” Eric thought it over. “Since I was a teenager.”
“And now he wants to stay in your apartment?” I prompted.
“He does. I`m not sure why but Appius is not the kind of man you say no to.” Eric looked at his hands.
Those words made my stomach turn. I went over to Eric and sat down in his lap. He visibly relaxed with the physical contact and gave me a sad smile.
I let my hand comb its way through his hair and made little braids of his bangs.
“Please take care, Eric.” I whispered into his ear and then I gave him a soft kiss on the throat.
After some kissing we walked silently back to the bedroom and made love. It was very sweet and very quiet, almost as if we wanted to confirm that we were a couple and that the outside world couldn`t hurt us.
Then I got up, took a shower and started packing.
I was almost done when the doorbell rang. I checked my watch and it was only two o`clock so it couldn`t be Eric`s godfather yet. Or so I thought.
I opened the door and saw a man who could be Silvio Berlusconi`s twin. Or at least they had used the same plastic surgeon and hair dye. But whereas the Italian prime minister only wore tailored suits, this man sported black jeans and a Black Sabbath t-shirt under a leather jacket. Obviously a man who wanted to seem younger than he was.
He did not have to introduce himself. This was the infamous Appius.
To my surprise and dislike, he pulled me into a kiss on both cheeks and then he held me by the shoulders.
“So this is Sookie?” he asked, his eyes roaming over my body. “I am Appius Livius Ocella.”
I nodded. I didn`t want to make him feel welcome. I also didn`t invite him in though he was cold enough to have blue lips. What fool walks out in the Norwegian winter in only a t-shirt and a leather jacket?
“You`re early,” I stated.
I heard Eric come up behind me.
“I don`t think your wife likes me,” Appius said to Eric in a light voice and then he took a step forward, forcing me to step aside and let him in.
I closed the door behind him and went into the living room with him and Eric. I had planned on going to Pam before Appius came but now I wanted to make sure Eric was okay.
Eric`s eyes were on his godfahter, much like mine would be on a snake that could jump up and bite me. It was clear that Appius wasn`t a welcome guest in our house and it made me wonder why he was a guest at all.
“What a beautiful home you`ve built for yourself, Eric,” Appius said, looking around with a proud smile on his face as if Eric`s home reflected back on something Appius had done.
“Thank you,” was Eric`s thin-lipped response.
We sat quiet for a while and then I couldn`t stop the question I`d been dying to ask.
“Why are you here?” I said.
Eric gave me a nervous glance. “Be polite, Sookie,” he said.
Appius looked surprised and one could tell it was because he didn`t have many people questioning him.
“To see my dear Eric, of course,” he smiled a smile that had cost him plenty of Euros at expensive dentists.
“Well, I`ll be off then,” I said. I hated to leave Eric with Appius but respected that he needed me gone. “Call me tonight.” Eric had promised me he would call me every night.
“I will, Sookie.” He got up and gave me a quick kiss.
I finished packing my suitcase and carried it outside. To my surprise a kid was standing next to Eric`s car, his back to me.
“Can I help you?” I asked in Norwegian.
The boy said something in what I interpreted as Russian so I repeated my question in English, which made him smile.
“I am traveling with someone but he told me to wait here,” the boy explained in English. He only had a slight accent.
“Out here in the cold?” I asked. “Who are you traveling with?”
The boy shook his head. “I am not allowed to say his name.” He looked at the door I`d just come out of and I knew who he meant.
“You`re traveling with Appius?” I asked him and the boy nodded. He was one of those kids that could be anything between 14 and 17. A shiver ran down my spine when I realized how young he could be. “Why didn`t you come in with him?”
“He wanted to meet his godson alone first.”
“Is he your father?” They didn`t look the same at all. Appius was short and plump whereas this kid was tall and very lean.
The boy shook his head. “No, he`s my godfather too.” He paused for a while. “My father sent me to him to learn how to run a business.” His eyes lit up. “Maybe you know my father? He is a very famous Russian oligarch. Nicolay Alexandrovitch. He owns a football-team in England,” he added with a childish pride.
I smiled and nodded because I`d heard the name. “And what`s your name, then?”
“I`m Alexei,” he said.
“Nice to meet you, Alexei. I`m Sookie, Eric`s wife.” I smiled at the boy. “You know, you look very cold. I`m sure Appius has had more than enough time alone with Eric now. I think you should go up there and ask Eric to make you some hot cocoa.”
Alexei gave me a shy smile and then he walked over to the door. It wasn`t until he was inside I noticed the long scratch he`d made on Eric`s car.
Pam opened her door for me, sporting a huge grin.
“So you finally found out that I was much better company than my brother,” she said.
I smiled and she showed me to the guest room. When I had emptied my suitcase I went to find her in the kitchen.
“I`m just putting the sushi on a plate,” she explained.
Pam wasn`t a cook and since Oslo could only offer pizza and various kinds of Asian food as take-away, Pam ate a lot of sushi.
“Thank you.” I wasn`t very hungry but I figured I could always eat a sushi bite or two.
“Could you open the wine?” Pam pointed at the bottle.
I opened it and poured two glasses. We went to the living room and sat down with wine and sushi.
“Did you see Appius?” Pam asked when we`d eaten a few bites.
“Yes, he came a bit early.”
“What is he like?” Pam asked. “I`ve never been allowed to meet him.”
“Old, creepy, trying to look younger than his age,” I described.
Pam laughed. “Just say it like it is.”
“Well, I don`t like that he is visiting Eric,” I said in a low voice.
“He has helped Eric a lot, you know.” Pam smiled reassuringly.
“I`m sure Eric could have done just as well without that help,” I answered.
We finished our sushi and Pam cleared the plates and went to make some coffee. I followed her and leaned my hips on the kitchen counter.
“How did Appius help Eric?” I asked. I didn`t want to know but I had to ask.
“First of all he helped Eric focus. You should have seen Eric when he was younger. So full of himself. Appius helped him become more humble.” Pam smiled at me but I couldn`t smile back. My intestines had decided to trade places.
Appius may have made Eric more humble and I was pretty sure I knew how he`d achieved that. I would much rather have had an Eric who was full of himself.
“What`s wrong, Sookie?” Pam asked. “You`re looking pale.”
I couldn`t tell Pam what was on my mind so I changed topics.
“I was just thinking of a phone call I got from Felipe. He told me he would consider making Eric his second in command instead of Victor. Does that make any sense to you?”
I wasn`t sure how much she knew about the family business, especially since it was Eric`s family, not hers. But there was no harm in asking.
“Victor is a moron with no talents for business. He can scare people and he can trick them but he is just not a businessman. Maybe Felipe wants to take the company one step further? Eric would be the perfect choice because he has the brains Victor lacks.”
The coffeemaker was finished and Pam grabbed the coffeepot and two cups and brought them back into the living room. I followed her.
“But Eric`s happy where he is, isn`t he?” I asked.
“He is but Victor doesn`t know that. He`ll see Eric as his competition and will try to get rid of him.” Pam poured the coffee and started to sip her cup as if Victor trying to get rid of Eric was everyday business.
“How do you think Victor will try to get rid of Eric?” I asked her.
“He`ll try to discredit Eric. And if he can`t do that, he`ll take out his business, run Eric bankrupt or something. He won`t do it out in the open, though. Victor is not one for open battles. A knife in the back – that`s more his style.”
“He`s scared of Eric?” I wondered.
“Of course he`s scared of Eric. Eric is everything Victor is not. Victor would not be where he is today if it hadn`t been for his father. Eric has started a successful business all on his own, with no help from our mother. Victor resents that.”
Pam and I discussed Felipe and Victor some more and then we watched some TV.
Later that evening Eric called. It was a relief to hear his voice, though he sounded troubled by something. He didn`t tell me what it was and I didn`t ask him.
But it took me a long time to fall asleep that night.
Thank you so much for reading this. I hope you liked it
I also hope I can convince some of you to write a story, using the SVM characters but placing them in your country/home town. I`m co-hosting the Home Sweet Home contest with Suki59 and we are looking forward to your story! www . fanfiction u/2623209/HomeSweetHome
Do you want to talk to me about my story Dead in Denmark (or anything else, really) you`re always welcome to send me a PM or tweet me. But you could also go here Fangreaders (dot) blogspot (dot) com on March 16th because they have invited me in to talk about my very first story. I`m very flattered