Again I just want to thank you for all your reviews and comments. And I share your feelings about Victor!
I also want to thank Suki59 for not only betaing this baby but for all the other stories I keep throwing at her these days.
Pam woke us up the next morning. Or rather, it wasn`t morning anymore. Or was it? I got confused now that the sun seemed to shine through the windows half an hour earlier each morning. I had hardly noticed it but now I had a ray of sun in my eyes and wondered how late Eric and I had slept.
Eric stumbled out of bed to open the door – apparently just as tired from the activities last night as I was. We may have fallen asleep pretty quickly, but we woke up a couple of times and re-consumated our marriage. If depression took away a person`s libido then Eric definitely wasn`t depressed. Not anymore, at least.
I went to bathroom to take a shower, figuring Eric would want some time alone with his sister. There was an unspoken quarrel in the air between the two siblings – at least unspoken while I was around. Sometimes you have to get it out in the open and I figured fifteen minutes by themselves would only do them good.
But when I was combing the wet tangles out of my hair after having gotten dressed, a loud noise – glass breaking – made me regret not joining them sooner. I ran to the living room, only to find them in the kitchen and broken plates and cups were all over the floor.
I looked at Eric. Had he gone crazy? Had he come home too early from the hospital?
Pam and Eric turned around and Pam actually managed to look guilty. And apologetic.
“We had a disagreement,” she said.
“With the plates?” I asked, motioning at all the broken china on the floor.
“I tried to get through the thick skull of that husband of yours.” She shrugged.
“With what? What are you arguing over?” I asked and this time I looked at Eric. He looked away as if I hadn`t addressed him at all.
Pam went to retrieve the dustpan and the broom and Eric wasn`t giving me any answers. I huffed in frustration and then I decided to change the subject.
“Sooo, Victor, huh?” I said, hoping just the mentioning of Eric`s cousin would start a conversation.
Eric went to the coffeemaker and put on a pot of coffee but when he opened the cupboard to find cups, he came up empty. They were all on the floor. In little pieces.
“Fuck,” he said to himself. I wanted to go put my arm around his shoulder or comfort him somehow but I needed to know what this was about before I did. I had a bad feeling it had something to do with me. Why else wouldn`t they tell me what was wrong?
Pam came back and started sweeping the floor.
“Is it good to have your husband back?” she asked all of a sudden. It could have been just making conversation or teasing Eric but her tense shoulders told me otherwise.
“Well, yes. Of course,” I replied.
“He is such a good husband, that brother of mine.”
“Enough!” Eric hissed between clenched teeth.
I looked from Eric to Pam and watched Eric pouring coffee into a glass and Pam sweeping the floor. Eric poured another glass and handed it to me.
Coffee shops here in Oslo served their coffee in glasses but it was an impossible way to drink hot liquids. There was no way to hold the glass without burning your fingers. So I put my glass down.
“Will someone please tell me what`s going on?”
Pam had swept up most of the broken china and was emptying the dust pan. She worked as if in slow motion. Or maybe it just seemed so since she wasn`t answering my question. Eric was staring into his glass of coffee. If he were burning his hand, he showed no signs of it.
Then Pam set the dust pan down and put the broom against the kitchen counter.
“You`ll make a great stepmom , Sookie,” she said and then she walked out of the kitchen.
“I helvete heller, Pam!” Eric shouted. He had murder in his eyes as he watched his sister leave, but when he looked at me there was something else there. Remorse? Sadness? Resignation?
Then he walked out of the kitchen too, leaving me to my thoughts. What had Pam meant?
Eric and I worked hard in the days and weeks to come. I kept in contact with Bill and when he told us about Victor`s plans, I started contacting reporters I knew I could trust. I had built up a large network in all the major countries where we sold the game and now was the time to use it.
I didn`t tell anyone exactly what was going to happen. Only that they should buy a ticket to Norway and watch the Children`s Parade on the National Day. Some came up with excuses or wanted to know more before they would come – editors would not send out reporters unless they were sure they would bring back a major story. So I picked people I knew would have a personal interest in this – reporters who wrote about games, reporters who liked news with a twist and reporters who had a personal interest in going to Oslo. One German reporter had a mistress in Oslo and was thrilled to have an excuse to visit her in May.
It was phone call after phone call and in the evenings I was exhausted. Eric was driving everyone hard, pushing for a May release of an addition to the Viking game. Everyone seemed as eager as Eric and me so lights were on at the offices all day and all night.
Eric and I didn`t talk much. We`d never been the kind of couple that would have endless chats every night but now we were just too tired to talk about anything. We usually went to the office together and came home together. We ate our meals together, went to bed together and had sex the nights when we weren`t so beat that we both passed out the moment our heads hit the pillow.
Being exhausted also had its positive side. It meant that I didn`t think about Pam`s comment that often. And when I did, I figured there would be a natural explanation. Or at least I hoped there would.
And then there were those rare moments when I wasn`t exhausted and when I had time to think. Those were the moments where I wondered why Eric couldn`t just tell me what Pam had meant. Obviously there was something. Didn`t he trust me? And more mind-boggling was the question of whether he could trust me. The word stepmom suggested Eric had a child somewhere. A child he hadn`t known about or a child he just hadn`t told me about? How would I react when and if Eric ever decided to tell me what was behind his quarrel with Pam?
And as it always happened when I thought of this, my mind jumped to the child Eric and I weren`t going to have. I couldn`t help myself from imagining how large my belly would have been if I hadn`t lost the baby.
These were a string of thoughts I hated going into so whenever I thought of Eric and Pam quarreling, I made myself busy before my brain jumped over to that other child. And to whether Eric and I were ever going to have children. After all, my pregnancy hadn`t exactly been planned and now I was back on the pill.
Easter came and went. The only difference in my routine was the fact that Oslo was closed and everyone was gone. Apparently Norwegians take almost two weeks off from work at Easter time and they all go to their cabins in the mountains. Shops were closed and even the hard working people at Viking Games had taken time off.
Pam had invited me to join her at her cabin but it had too many memories of Eric and me so I had turned her down. But when the morning of Good Friday arrived, Eric got up, took a deep breath and said that he thought we needed some time off too and that he wanted us to visit Pam.
We packed in silence. I was silent because I didn`t know what to say. What to expect. Eric, because he probably couldn`t speak if he wanted to. His jaws were that tightly clenched.
I wanted to give him a hug. Kiss him and tell him it was going to be fine. But since I didn`t know what to expect at Pam`s cabin – which information Eric was finally letting me in on – I couldn`t do that. So Eric`s jaw stayed clenched and his shoulders stayed tense.
Pam came out to greet us in the deep snow. It was a wet kind of snow and the air was different from when Eric and I had been there the last time. It was warmer and the pine trees smelled … well, from pine. The last time there`d only been the smell of frost and snow.
“Welcome,” Pam said. She was smiling but was as tense as her brother.
“Thank you,” I said since Eric didn`t seem to want to give her a response. He pulled our bags from the car and started carrying them inside. It was getting late but not quite dark yet. The sky was dark blue and painted in orange where the sun had gone down.
“I have dinner ready for you,” Pam said and walked inside behind her brother.
I grabbed the last bag and stepped inside too, dreading whatever this weekend would bring but also overwhelmed by the memories of what Eric and I had had in this cabin. We`d come a long way since we`d been here last. And that had only been six months ago.
Pam had set the table and when Eric and I had taken off boots and jackets, we sat down with her.
“It`s moose.” She nodded at the steak on the table and my mouth watered immediately – a sure sign that I`d been in Norway a long time. I don`t think I would have welcomed a moose steak a year ago.
We`d eaten most of the “King of the forest” as moose was termed here when Pam broke the silence.
“So you`ve decided to tell her?” she asked her brother.
Eric exhaled and then he looked at me.
“I thought I could ….” he started. “But I can`t.”
“What?” Pam asked. “I thought you were going to tell her?”
“I was,” Eric said. “I am. I didn`t mean that I wouldn`t tell her. I meant …. I thought I could make it go away. But I can`t. I got the letter yesterday.”
I looked at Eric and then at Pam.
“What letter?” I asked.
“The letter saying that I have a son.” The look in Eric`s eyes would haunt me forever. “He was born last month and the DNA test shows that I`m the boy`s father.”
I couldn`t help myself and did a quick calculation. If the boy had been born last month, then he was conceived after I`d met Eric but before we`d .…
“Who`s the mother?” I asked.
Eric shook his head and Pam was the one to answer.
“Well, that`s just it. She`s some broad in Estonia that Eric has never met.”
I barked out a laugh. “I may have missed some classes in school but I think you actually have to have sex to become a father.”
The look Eric gave me was so full of pain, I stopped laughing.
“Not if Appius is your godfather,” Eric said in a voice I didn`t recognize.
“What did he do?”
Eric looked away and again it was Pam who answered.
“Appius collected Eric`s sperm, apparently. Years ago. And now he used it. The girl`s parents are very rich and Appius thought she would be a perfect match for lover boy here. This was why Appius came to Norway. To inform Eric that he had to divorce you and marry Freyda.”
“That`s the girl`s name.”
I looked at Eric. “But you`re not the father. Not really. You`re the sperm donor and ….” I stopped talking.
“I can`t let the kid grow up without a father, Sookie. I`m not that kind of a man.”
I smiled because that was one of the things I liked about him.
“But that`s fine, Eric. I don`t mind. I mean, I have no idea about practicalities here, but we`ll work it out.” I wanted to put my hand on his but the look on his face stopped me.
“I want it to be more than just the odd vacation, Sookie. I grew up without a father. I don`t want this kid to.”
I wasn`t sure what he was saying but it made sense. And it made me respect him all the more. “I understand that, Eric. We`ll open our home to the kid. Don`t worry. I mean, it`s not like you`re going to marry … Freyda.” I laughed at first but then I realized that it had been one of the options he`d considered. “Are you?”
Eric looked at me and then huffed as if to shake something off his shoulders. “No, of course not. I`m married to you. You`re the one I love. It`s just … I wanted you to be the mother of my children. All my children.”
“Especially your firstborn and heir, huh?” Pam said.
I looked from one to the other.
“Yeah. Especially my firstborn,” Eric said and for a moment I shared his pain.
I felt bad for Eric – and for myself too, to be honest – but I was glad that I knew the truth now. No more secrets being kept from me.
Or so I hoped.
Eric had an exclamation in Norwegian in this chapter. What he said was not really important as I`m sure you all knew he was swearing. But if you`re interested then I helvete heller is something you say when you`re very frustrated. It means “In Hell also” – which makes absolutely no sense, I`m sure.
I think I`ve talked about swearing in Scandinavia before but I wanted to add something because I`ve just read a new article about how swearing has changed over the years.
As I`ve probably already told you, there`s a major difference in the swearwords we use in Scandinavia and the swearwords used in English. In English it`s generally about what happens in the bathroom (shit) or what happens in the bed (fuck) and words associated with the human groin (dick, cunt).
Traditional Scandinavian swearwords – the swearwords I grew up with – are mainly about heaven or hell and whoever live there. Or they are about health related issues (in Danish there`s a swearword that means “cancer eat me”).
Now this article I just read said that this is changing. Among young people the influence from English is so strong that we now also swear about bathroom or bedroom related issues. At first we just took the English swearwords – you`ll find plenty of Scandinavian kids yelling “motherfucker” without realizing what a harsh word that is – and used them as they were. But these last couple of years we`ve apparently evolved and have started translating the English swearwords. So now we don`t say “shit” anymore but “skit”. Yeah, no big difference there.
So if you`re into swearing then you`ll feel right at home here now!
Thank you for reading this chapter. I hope you liked it.