Chapter 44

A/N:

Oh, these chapters are so hard to write. The whole situation with Appius is unpleasant, to say the least. I want this story to both include the important parts of the books but also be credible in a human world.

So I read up on abuse and people reporting. It was a sad affair. In the part of Oslo where I live with around 30,000 other people, the Child Welfare Office had 4 – FOUR – reports of abuse last year. And that`s in spite of the fact that you can report anonymously, that teachers etc have to report and that a large majority of the population answer “Yes, I would report child abuse” when they are asked in questionnaires. This is why I didn`t have Sookie report Appius. I`m trying to make these characters human – which includes human shortcomings.

But it is painful to write, I can tell you that.

Thank you for all your great reviews and the encouragements I get in PMs. I love them so much, especially now that I`m writing about subjects I would rather not write about. I`m trying to do them justice all the same.

Thank you so much to Rascalthemutant who corrected this and made sure it was readable for you.

I don`t own the characters or the quotes and storyline taken from the books. Charlaine Harris owns everything and I hope she forgives me when I tell her they followed me home.


A strange sound woke me up in the middle of the night. I reached over and checked my alarm clock. It was 3 am. Something was wrong but I didn`t know what. I sat up and listened but couldn`t hear anything apart from the normal sounds of the building. Then the sound was back. Metal on metal.

I tried to pinpoint where the sound came from. It wasn`t Pam because I could hear her light snores through the wall to her room.

The sound was there again and then the sound of Pam`s front door opening. It wasn`t a loud sound, or Pam would have woken up too, but I heard it.

Then I heard floorboards creaking. Someone had broken into Pam`s apartment and was walking down her corridor. I looked around for a weapon or at least my phone so I could call the police.

But what was the number to the police? This stupid country had three emergency numbers. One for the police, one for medical aid and one if you had a fire. And I couldn`t remember any of them. What was wrong with 911? One easy number that everyone could recall.

I probably wouldn`t have called the police even if I`d known the number. I didn`t trust Norwegian authorities after my experience with the work permit. I still had a nagging feeling that they would throw me out of the country if I coughed at the wrong place.

So I needed a weapon and I needed it fast. It was dark in the room, only the lights from the stars came through the window. But it was enough for me to see the outlines of everything Pam kept in her spare room.

That was when I saw it. Pam played floorball, or indoor bandy as they called it here. And her bag was tugged away in the corner. Pam had showed me the bandy-stick once and now I wished she`d played ice hockey instead. Bandy-sticks were made out of light-weight plastic.

But it would do.

I tiptoed over to her bag and pulled the stick out. And then I waited behind the door. And I waited.

I saw the door handle turn downwards and the door opened slowly. Then a figure walked in. I could see that it was a man, but I couldn`t see who it was. Or if it was someone I knew. But I figured no one would break into Pam`s apartment and sneak into my room if they had good intentions. So I yelled as loudly as I could and hit with all my power.

“Ouch!” the intruder said and then I hit again. And again.

I could hear Pam rumble in her room, which was a good thing because with my fifth hit, the bandy-stick broke.

Apparently the intruder could hear Pam too because he pulled back and then he started running. Before Pam could come to my aid, and she was much better armed than I was – with a baseball bat – the intruder was out the door and down the stairs of Pam`s apartment building.

“We have to follow him. I couldn`t see who he was,” I shouted to Pam and then I started pulling on my boots. I swore at the Norwegian weather. Back home I would just have stuck my feet into a pair of flip flops or maybe some sneakers but here I had to spend valuable minutes pulling my boots on my feet and tying the laces.

Pam was faster and handed me my coat. In our pajamas, boots and coats we ran down the stairs, Pam carrying the baseball bat.

I almost pulled the main door from its hinges, trying to get out into the street before the intruder was gone. I didn`t have much hope, though, of even catching a glimpse of him. Tying the bootlaces had taken too long.

This was why I yelled in surprise when I saw a dark figure in the white snow. Lying flat on his back.

“Is it him?” Pam asked.

“I think so.” He was wearing a black hooded sweater and dark jeans, just like the man in my room.

“I think he fell on the ice,” Pam whispered.

That was when I noticed what he was wearing on his feet. Shoes. He was wearing shoes. You can`t walk the streets of Oslo in March, wearing shoes. It`s suicide. Not just because you`ll freeze to death but because shoes are too slippery.

“He`s not from around here,” I stated.

“Oh, great,” Pam groaned. “I love international thugs. We`ve had so few of them lately.”

I couldn`t help barking out a dry laughter.

Pam pulled the man`s hood away and stared at him. “Shit,” she said. “Do you know who this is?”

I shook my head. I`d never seen the man before.

“It`s Bruno, Victor`s secondincommand.”

“What does he want?” I asked but Pam wasn`t listening. She`d pulled a cell phone from her coat, and I spent a few seconds admiring her for bringing it because I definitely hadn`t thought of it, and dialed a number.

“Bruno attacked Sookie,” she said without any greetings. I could hear Eric`s agitated voice on the other end of the line. “Shut up, Eric, so I can tell you what happened… Yes, Sookie is fine.” Then Pam went through what had happened and finally she hung up. Then she dialed the number I couldn`t remember. The police.

“Get inside, Sookie. I`ll fix this,” she said and I did what she said.

I couldn`t help crying when I got back in bed.

I loved Eric but knowing that he had asked me to leave our home because he needed to accommodate Mr. Creepy in person and then have his cousin`s second-in command try and attack me at night, was too much for me to handle.

I loved Eric or I would not have put up with everything I`d been through since I`d met him, but it seemed my love was being tested more times than what a human being should endure.

I finally fell asleep but I didn`t sleep well. Not well at all.

The first thing I did the next morning was drink a huge cup of coffee. I was tired to the marrow of my bones and that was not just because I`d had too little sleep that night.

Eric was in his office when I arrived. He got up when he saw me, walked over and pulled me into his arms. For some reason everything was fine when I was in Eric`s arms. Gone were Appius and Victor and that stupid shoe-wearing intruder from last night.

Eric kissed my forehead and pulled me even closer into his embrace. We stood like that for a few moments and then I pulled back.

“How are things at home?” I asked.

Eric looked away.

“Why did Appius come to you after all these years?” What I really wanted to know was why Eric had opened his door to him but I didn`t ask that question. Either it was because I had faith in Eric and knew he wouldn`t have done it unless he`d had good reason – or because he`d had to. Or I was afraid of the answer. Or all of the above.

Eric sat down and pulled me down on his lap.

“He wants me to be an example to Alexei,” he answered.

“What? How? Why?” I was especially curious about the “Why?”

“Alexei has some vandalism on his conscience. And a few robberies,” Eric said as if he`d told me Alexei had stolen apples from the neighbor`s yard. “Apparently he`s broken into his school and caused damages for several million rubles.”

“What? How can you help him?”

“I guess Appius felt I would be a good influence. Another kid he straightened out.” Eric shrugged.

A shiver ran down my back. “But he…” I began to say. This was wrong on so many levels.

“I know,” Eric replied and looked down. “He`s promised Alexei`s dad to get the kid back on track so he can take over the family business one day.” Eric paused. “Appius is desperate, I think, or he wouldn`t have come here.”

“Are you going to help?” I asked.

“I have to. Appius can…” He stopped. Then he looked me in the eyes. “And I feel sorry for the kid too. He`s had a tough life.”

“Poor little, rich kid,” I mumbled.

“Yeah,” Eric said, his voice thick. Then I realized that this had been Eric when he was a kid.

“Were you like Alexei?”

Eric nodded. “My mother sent me to Appius for a reason.”

“And Appius…” I couldn`t finish my sentence but Eric nodded again. “Is he doing the same to Alexei?” I whispered.

“He swears he isn`t. That he learned his lesson when he saw the pain he caused me.” Eric`s voice was without emotion which usually meant it was something he felt very strongly about. I couldn`t ask Eric if he believed Appius so I just nodded.

Eric pulled me closer. “They have separate bedrooms,” he whispered. “And I sleep with my door open to be sure Alexei is safe.”

When I came back to my own office, I immediately googled Alexei Alexandrovitch and his father Nikolay. Poor little, rich kid indeed. Alexei`s parents had had a messy divorce a year back and were still fighting over custody of Alexei. Alexei`s mother had won, which surprised me since his father was the one who had sent Alexei to Appius.

There was nothing about vandalism or robbery online but the few minutes I`d spent in the kid`s company had told me he wasn`t exactly a poster boy for mental stability.

And his father had trusted Appius. Just like Eric`s mother had.

Every morning I saw Eric at work and every evening he called me.

I couldn`t be with Eric at night because he didn`t want me in the same apartment as the man he despised. I hated the thought of Eric being there but he said he didn`t have any choice and I accepted that.

Eric didn`t tell me much about Appius and almost nothing about Alexei but he looked like a prisoner on death row every afternoon when he went home from work. And every time I saw him going home with that sullen look, I wanted to shout at him that he should just throw out Appius. It wouldn`t help Alexei, of course, because Appius would bring him with him.

But I hated the situation Eric was in. I wanted to do something but didn`t know what. So I trusted Eric`s judgment instead.

On the third day of their visit Appius and Alexei came to work with Eric, something that made Eric look even more worried.

Appius stopped by my office and gave me a smile that never reached his eyes. Alexei`s smile was a bit more sincere.

“My boy here speaks so well of you,” Appius said. “He enjoyed that you told him to ask Eric for a cup of cocoa.”

Appius` words may have been nice but his eyes told me to butt out. That no one but him was to tell Alexei what to do. Or be kind to him.

“Did he put whipped cream in your cocoa, Alexei?” I asked the boy.

Alexei nodded slowly, but his smile gave away that the cocoa had been a very special treat for him.

Appius pulled Alexei with him to Eric`s office and soon all three of them left the building together. It pained me to see Eric`s body language. But I did notice that Appius was no longer touching Alexei. Eric had his arm around Alexei`s shoulder in a very demonstrative way. “Your big brother is looking out for you,” it said.

This was one messy situation and for the first time since I`d come to Norway I regretted that I hadn`t learned more about my new country. One thing was not knowing the number to the police when someone was breaking into my room (I knew it now, though), but who would I call if I was worried about a teenager? What kind of child services did they have here in Norway?

And what could I tell them? “My husband was abused by that man so many years ago and now I fear for a kid I don`t know.” How could I say that? And how could I not?

Could I trust Eric`s decisions when it came to Appius?

Pam did her best to cheer me up that evening and I fell asleep hoping Appius would leave soon. I knew that was a cheap solution because it wouldn`t help Alexei one bit.

The next morning I was up early and went to work after a quick shower and a cup of coffee. I wanted to see Eric and hoped he was early too. To my disappointment his office was empty.

I started checking the statistics for the website – a boring job, but perfect for my current mood. I found that our new campaign wasn`t giving us the sales we had hoped for so I dug into that problem, thinking only about that for a while.

I`d been working on this for well over three hours when I looked up and realized that Eric wasn`t in yet. I checked my watch and saw that it was past 10. I`d already checked to see if Eric had any meetings today and he didn`t.

I gave him another hour and then I called his cell phone. My heart was heavy when he didn`t answer my call. Eric always answered his phone if he could. I rang the phone at home but there wasn`t any answer there either.

The rest of the day went by in a blur, my thoughts were on Eric and why he wasn`t answering the calls I`d placed to his phone every fifteen minutes. After lunch I decided to go home just to make sure Eric was fine.

I don`t believe in premonitions but I had a terrible feeling. I just hoped my trust in Eric hadn`t been entirely misplaced.


A/N:

I hope you liked this chapter, creepy godfathers, cliffhangers and all.

Is indoor bandy, or a related sport, known in your country? It`s amazing exercise – though I`m more dead than alive after each game. It`s huge in Sweden and is growing fast here in Norway.

We are setting new records here these days in the number of people who`ve broken arms and legs on the ice. It`s very slippery and I myself took a tumble down our stairs and was knocked blue and yellow. I`m sure Norway wasn`t meant to be a place for people to live…

And to the pimping:

I`ve taken SVM home to where I live. Now is your chance to do the same. The Home Sweet Home contestthat the lovely Suki59 and I are running is waiting for your entry:

www . fanfiction u/2623209/HomeSweetHome (remove spaces)

I`m also writing another story. It`s called Dust Bunnies and Christmas Presents. It started out as a one-shot a little over a year ago and is about 39 year old Sookie who comes to Scandinavia to surprise her husband Bill, only to find him between the legs of another woman. 26 year old Eric finds her – and in return she finds him. The one-shot won the Naughty or Nice Contest and got a pretty banner made by Zigster. Please check my profile to see it.

Now I`ve expanded the story and Eric is currently in New York where Sookie lives. Here is the story:

www . fanfiction s/5662018/1/Dust_Bunnies_and_Christmas_Presents (remove spaces)


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