*Looks down in shame* – yes, it`s been months since the last chapter of this story. But it hasn`t been abandoned and I`ve already written a couple of more chapters that I will post as soon as I`ve written them all.
I want to thank all the old readers for being patient and welcome all the new ones. Dead without a Work Permit has had a lot of new subscribers these past weeks – and each and every one of them have made my day!
I also want to thank Rascalthemutant for being such a great beta and I want to wish her good luck with her exams – and her future choices. And give her laptop a good kick for giving her a hard time.
I rang the doorbell to Eric`s house – no, our house. I chastised myself. For some reason I had gone back to thinking about it as his house. And the fact was that it didn`t feel like my house right now. Not when I felt the need to ring the doorbell before I entered.
What was I afraid of? What did I expect to see?
I didn`t like those questions but they popped up in my head. Had I left a kid – Alexei – to his destiny and looked the other way? Had Eric?
When there was no answer, I pushed my key into the keyhole. I heard the lock snap open and pressed down the door handle very slowly. Why was I this nervous?
The answer came quickly. When I opened the door I heard Eric yell, “Run, Sookie! Run!”
Then there was a loud bang that could only be a gun that was being fired, a lot of noises and men cursing and then – before I could run like Eric had shouted at me to – I was staring at a gun held in the hand of a man I didn`t know.
“Get in here and close the door,” the man hissed. He spoke English and sounded British.
He was tall, pale and looked very angry. No, disturbed. He looked like he wasn`t really there, mentally. I swallowed hard and looked at the gun again.
I closed the door and couldn`t help feeling like I was sealing my own grave. I didn`t lock the door, though. I wanted to be able to get out fast if I ever had the opportunity to.
“Come here,” the man said.
He was standing in the doorway to the living room waving his gun back and forth between me and whoever he had there. I knew Eric was in the living room since he had yelled at me when I had opened the door. I also knew the gun had been fired in his direction and feared the worst.
It was like a trip down death row on my way to the electric chair when I walked towards the living room. I thought I heard a voice whispering “Dead man walking,” but then my senses were in overdrive.
I was relieved to see Eric sitting on the couch, but worried when I saw his left shoulder bleeding and his right hand trying to remove pieces of his shirt from the wound. He was in deep pain, judging from his facial expression.
Appius and Alexei were there too, both of them sitting on the other couch. Alexei was smiling, which I found odd. Appius looked at me with big eyes, his face stiff and without emotions. That could be because of all the skin he`d had pulled behind his ears to look youthful, but I suspected it was more because of the man waving the gun. None of them were helping Eric and I figured they were both in some kind of shock. I felt sorry for Alexei for having to go through this on top of whatever else he`d had to endure with his parents and Appius. I did not feel sorry for Appius. Not in the slightest. My only regret was that he wasn`t the one with a hole in his shoulder. Or in his heart.
I sat down next to Eric and gave his wound a quick look. It didn`t seem like a deep wound and even if there was a lot of blood, it didn`t pour the way it would have if the bullet had hit a major artery. I had just started helping Eric with the removal of the little pieces of cloth from the shirt when the man with the gun stomped his feet. I looked at him and realized that I had completely zoned him out in my attempts at helping Eric.
“What`s going on?” I whispered to Eric who shrugged and in the same moment pain rolled over his face when one of the shoulders he`d shrugged with was the hurt one.
“Look at me, bitch,” the man with the gun shouted. “I`m the one who`s going to kill you so you`d bloody well pay me some attention.”
I did what I was told and turned my head in his direction. I had no idea who the man was or why he was going to kill me, but I suspected it had something to do with Niall. Or rather, his enemies. I didn`t know that many British people.
“This is for Claudine,” he shouted and aimed his gun at me.
Out of the corner of my eye I noticed Alexei moving but I couldn`t see what he was doing.
“Claudine?” I croaked and made sure the man`s attention was on me, not on whatever Alexei was doing. How could this be related to Claudine?
The man narrowed his eyes. “You killed Claudine and you killed our child.”
“Claudine is dead?” I asked, feeling a wave of sadness wash over me.
“I should know, shouldn`t I? I`m her husband Colman.” He glared at me. “This is how little you cared about her. You didn`t even know she was dead. She killed herself after she lost our child, protecting you and your grandfather fired her and made sure she would never work again.”
“No,” I whispered, not believing what he`d said. Claudine had been so strong, so capable. She wouldn`t have killed herself, surely.
A weird laughter came from his mouth but he didn`t look amused. His hands went to his eyes, wiping them quickly. Was he crying?
Suddenly Alexei pushed Appius into an upright position and then forward. Colman blinked twice and then he fired at the man he must have thought was attacking him.
I ducked down on the floor, pushing Eric with me. He was surprisingly stiff and I had to pull hard at his wounded arm to make him move. What was wrong with him? It was as if he was paralyzed.
Then I heard a lot of commotion, the front door being kicked open, feet running down the corridor, more shooting and a body dropping to the ground. Or at least that was what it sounded like.
“Get up, hands where we can see them,” a loud voice shouted.
I dared to peak up from the floor and to my surprise the living room was filled with police officers. Colman was on the floor and so was Appius. Alexei had his hands over his head but his face had a grin that looked scary more than happy.
“This is the police. Get up slowly,” the voice shouted again.
I held my hands up and slowly got up on my knees. Eric held up one arm but he had the other one in front of him as to show the police officers that he wasn`t carrying any weapons.
“We`re unarmed,” I said. I didn`t want to be shot in the commotion.
“Sookie Stackhouse?” the voice shouted back at me.
“You`re under arrest,” he said.
The police officer looked around. When his eyes found Appius on the couch, he shouted, “Appius Livius Ocella?”
Appius grunted something the police officer took as a yes.
“You`re under arrest.”
Then he looked at Eric. “Eric Northman?”
“You`re under arrest.”
I looked at Alexei, half expecting him to be arrested too, but he wasn`t. Instead a woman wearing plain clothes came over and put her arm around his shoulders. Alexei was slender and he drowned in the woman`s embrace.
She began to pull him towards the door. Just as he left the room, he turned his head and looked at me. His lips moved but it didn`t look as if he was saying anything. Not with a voice, at least. But his lips made very clear “I`m sorry.”
People in white stormed the room and soon Appius was on a stretcher. He was clutching his stomach and looked like he was in deep pain. I couldn`t help smiling at that. Not a big grin, just my lips curling a little bit. At least Appius was out of our house now.
Unfortunately, so were Eric and I. A paramedic had bandaged Eric`s shoulder and before I could say anything to him, Eric was walking out between the paramedic and a police officer.
“Come with me,” a female officer said and grabbed my upper arm.
It wasn`t until I was down at the police station it occurred to me that I had never been presented with any charges. And no one had read me my rights. Did that mean I didn`t have any?
The female officer put me into a holding cell and closed the door. What was happening here? Why was I being arrested? Could I ask for a lawyer? How was I to know? No one had told me.
I looked around in the cell. It was three walls, a huge door on the fourth wall, a mattress on the floor and a hole in the ground for any urgent needs. It smelled from detergents and fear. Only, the fear may have been my own.
The mattress didn`t look inviting but I sat down on it anyway. I needed to think. To understand what had happened. I`d seen a dead man because I was pretty sure Colman had died. And Appius didn`t look too good. Eric wasn`t too badly wounded but there had been something about him. Shock, perhaps?
I rubbed my face. And now I was in jail? Well, a holding cell, but still. This just wasn`t right. How could I be in jail? I hadn`t done anything apart from almost being killed. Surely this wasn`t a crime in this weird country? I needed to know more. I needed to know why I was here.
I got up and took the two steps over to the door and started knocking on it. I felt vaguely like Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory when he knocks on Penny`s door. I stifled a giggle at the thought. It was obvious that Eric wasn`t the only one in shock.
The door opened and the police officer who had arrested me smiled and nodded for me to follow her.
We went to an interview room that looked bright and didn`t have any one-way mirrors like they always do on television. The furniture was typical Scandinavian. Birch- or beech, I couldn`t tell. And it wasn`t important. I needed to know what I was arrested for, not what trees that had been chopped down to make police furniture.
“Can I get you some coffee or tea?” she asked after I`d sat down at the table.
“No, thank you,” I answered though by brain shouted for coffee.
She walked out the door and came back five minutes later with one cup of coffee (my brain blamed me because she wasn`t carrying two) and a folder. She sat down the cup on the table and opened the folder.
“What are your relations to Alexei Alexandrovitch?” she asked and looked at me.
“What do you mean?” I asked. “Why am I arrested?”
There was a knock on the door and she went to open it. A large man with dark hair walked in. The police officer smiled and looked at me.
“This is your attorney, Mr. Cataliades,” she said and the man walked over to me, his hand extended.
I shook his hand and looked back at the police officer. Why hadn`t she introduced herself?
“I never asked for an attorney,” I said.
“No, Mr. Cataliades is appointed to you. If you want your own attorney, it`s no problem. We can call him or her for you.”
I looked at Mr. Cataliades and figured he would do for now.
“No, that`s fine,” I said. “But why am I arrested?”
The police officer smiled as if this was a talk about a parking ticket.
“You`re arrested for the abduction of Alexei Alexandrovitch.”
My heart stood still for a few moments, then sweat broke out in my neck.
“I`m what?” I asked – my voice not really my own.
“Arrested for the abduction of Alexei Alexandrovitch,” she repeated as if it was the lack of hearing that had made me ask her “I`m what?”.
“But I never …” I started out.
“Oh, we know that … ” she looked at her papers. “That Appius Livius Ocella abducted Alexei Alexandrovitch and brought him to your house but you`re an accomplice if you helped hiding him.”
“But I never knew he was abducted,” I said. “He told me himself that his father had sent him to Appius … to Mr. Ocella.”
“Yes, but his father did not have the right to do so. Alexei Alexandrovitch`s mother had custody over the child and has alerted Interpol through the Russian police. When we were alerted that the child was here in Norway, in your house, we moved quickly.” The police officer kept smiling.
“Who alerted you that this child was in Ms. Stackhouse`s house?” Mr. Cataliades asked.
The police officer checked her papers again. “We were alerted by British police, actually. Two officers followed … Mr. Colman to Norway and when he went to your house, they followed him there. It seems Mr. Colman had your house under watch for some time, giving the British police officers time to find out who your two guests were. When they found that Alexei Alexandrovitch was a missing child, they immediately alerted the Norwegian police.”
“It couldn`t have been that immediately. I understand that Mr. Colman held Mr. Northman and his two guests at gun point all day – waiting for Ms. Stackhouse to come home.” Mr. Cataliades looked relaxed but there was accusation in his voice.
I thought I detected a faint blush in the police officer`s cheeks. She coughed. “They did alert us immediately.”
“Why the delay then?” Mr. Cataliades asked.
I looked from one to the other. I was the one under arrest but the police officer was the one defending herself.
“We thought it was just a child custody case until they alerted us again, telling us there were guns involved.”
“Just a child custody case? And yet you`ve chosen to arrest Ms. Stackhouse for that same child custody case?” Mr. Cataliades was relentless.
“We arrested everyone in that house until we had the testimony from Alexei Alexandrovitch.” The police officer straightened up and squared her shoulders. Even her smile was gone now. “And now I want to know what took place there. A man was shot and two men wounded. I need all the details. Why was Alexei Alexandrovitch in your home in the first place?”
I leaned back in my chair. If I`d only known the answer to that question.
I`d given the Norwegian police a thorough account of what I knew about Alexei, Appius and Colman – or Mr. Colman. I wasn`t sure if Colman was his first or his last name. The Norwegian police seemed to think it was his last name but he`d introduced himself to me as if it was his given name. Maybe he was like Cher or Madonna and only had one name?
“Would you mind talking to the British police too?” the Norwegian police officer asked. “They have no jurisdiction here but you can talk to them as a private person.”
“Is Ms. Stackhouse still under arrest?” Mr. Cataliades asked.
“No, I see no reason to keep her under arrest,” the police office answered.
Mr. Cataliades nodded to me as to give me the go-ahead to talk to the British police. But I was tired. I wanted to go home. And I wanted to know how Eric was and what had happened to him.
“No, I would like to leave now, if I can,” I said.
The police officer looked surprised, as if talking to the British police would be every girl`s dream.
“Very well,” she said. “I`ll have a car drive you home.”
“Don`t worry. I`ll just walk.” The police station wasn`t far from our house and the fresh air would do me good. If Eric was done too, I could walk with him.
“Where is Eric?” I asked the police officer on my way down the long corridor of the police station.
“He`s at the hospital,” the police officer said as if it was the most normal thing in the world. How that woman could smile so much and so often and at entirely inappropriate places.
“But the wound wasn`t that deep?” I said.
“No, you misunderstand. He had some kind of nervous breakdown. They had to sedate him.”
Then she walked away and left me standing there.
“Ms. Stackhouse?” a voice asked in English from behind me.
I turned around and saw two familiar faces. Tom Lattesta and Sara Weiss – the two British police officers who had interrogated me when I was at the hospital in London. The two police officers who had wanted to know everything about Niall. The two police officers I hadn`t wanted to talk to back then.
I walked out the door of the police station.
Thank you for reading this story. I hope you liked the chapter.
Since I posted the last chapter of Dead without a Work Permit, I`ve written two one-shots. A very dystopian and sad one from Eric`s vampire “youth” called Crossing the Ocean and a lighter and rather romantic all human story about Eric the black metal-loving doctor and Sookie the baker who fancies the customer visiting her bakery every day at ten. It`s called The Mammogram since this is how Eric gets to check out Sookie`s breasts. Yes, it`s a silly little tale 🙂
Check my profile to find them!