Wow, I was so impressed with the number of you who took the time to answer my questions in chapter 18. The verdict is pretty easy: Eric will remember everything happening in the cabin (but I`m not saying he will be comfortable with it all – we can`t have flowers and honey and happy ever after already, right?). And Quinn may or may not join the story, but not as Sookie`s love interest. We don`t want her to be “babed” 😛
Thank you so much for all the great reviews you sent. I ate them all instead of chocolate so they are good for my health too 😀
And thank you so much to Rascalthemutant at the Alexander Skarsgård Library forum for reading this and telling me she understood what I was trying to say in this chapter.
Finally I am explaining what happened to Viking Games. I`m sorry if it`s a bit boring, but Norway is a country with very few murders and a high degree of bureaucracy. Since I`m trying to make the story credible in a Norwegian context, and we live pretty boring lives, this is what you`ll get.
If you want more insight to the whole SVM-world, I can recommend the new story Peppermintyrose has started; Consumption.
I wasn`t asleep for long. I was hungry, thirsty, needed to use the bathroom and generally had ants in my pants (if I had been wearing pants, that is) from lying in a bed in the middle of the afternoon.
After having fixed my basic needs, I figured I would call Pam and check in on things. I was a bit embarrassed that I hadn`t called her before. I knew she needed all the PR-help she could get and I had let her set sails all alone without me as a lifeboat.
I sighed deeply. I had been too busy fucking her brother to worry about Pam or their company. Not very professional.
“Ja?” was Pam`s short answer.
“Hi, Pam. This is Sookie. I was just calling to get an update and to ask if you had heard anything else on why the police shook up Eric so badly.”
“Sookie!” You could almost hear Pam smile and I smiled back. “So tell me, is my brother getting his Viking sword polished?”
First I didn`t really get what she was saying. Call me a prude, but for me Viking swords are something stored in museums, not something brothers get polished. Then my smile died and I blushed so hard, I could have been used as a light-house.
“That is really none of your business, Pam,” I said with the sternest voice I could muster.
Pam laughed. “You just answered my question, sweetheart. Good for you, Sookie. You know, Eric has lusted for you since you stepped into his apartment this summer. He was planning on giving you a hard time for being Bill`s girlfriend, but I suppose he just found it impossible to be anything but his usual loving self. Mind you, if you had travelled in different lanes, I would have made a move on you myself. You are honey to a bear, sugar.”
“Pam,” I almost yelled. “I did not call you to hear about… hmm … honeys, bears or Viking swords. This was strictly a professional call.”
“Oh, I`m so offended now, Sookie,” Pam said, but she wasn`t offended one bit. “But sure, we can be professional.”
“Thank you. So what`s up?”
“I have to be honest, Sookie. This is serious. We have been charged with breaking the laws of competition.” Pam made a pause as if she had just said they had been charged with triple ax murder.
“The laws of competition?” I asked. I didn`t get it. “I thought it was about murder or at least the theft of millions of kroners, Pam. Do they really raid a company for breaking the laws of competition?” I shook my head. “And what are the laws of competition, anyway?”
“Sookie, you have come to a small country. Almost no one kills each other here and things are very regulated to ensure that businesses are fair and honest to each other. You can compete, but not unfairly.”
“Okay, but is it really so serious that a police investigation would drive your brother into… whatever he is into?”
“Yes, because if Viking Games is found guilty, we will lose the company. Viking Games is everything to Eric.”
“Lose the company for breaking some rules of competition? What the hell kind of country is this?” My voice was suddenly high-pitched.
“We like to be able to trust one another in this country and to ensure trust, the state has to weed out the cheaters among us. This is why we have the Norwegian Competition Authority to look out for us.”
I stifled a giggle. `The Norwegian Competition Authority` sounded like something out of a cartoon. Or maybe I was just tired.
“I happen to like the regulations,” Pam sounded almost offended and then her voice turned sad. “Even if they are working against us right now.”
“But if you like the rules, then why did you break them, Pam? Why did Eric jeopardize his company like this?”
“You are assuming that we actually did what we are accused of doing?”
I chose to stay quiet. I remembered the whole Bill-affair and how Eric had lured Bill back and probably made him pay for revealing secrets to Lorena, by making Bill spill some Lorena-beans.
“So glad your faith in us is so high, Sookie.”
“What do you expect me to say, Pam? If Lorena is accusing Eric of something, then she might just be right.”
Pam laughed, but it wasn`t exactly a girly laughter.
“It isn`t Lorena who is accusing us, Sookie. It`s a game shop chain called Bloksberg and it`s run by Marnie Stonebrook and her brother Mark. They claim we have offered to pay them to stop selling competitor products.”
“Bloksberg?” I asked. Why would people called Stonebrook name their business Bloksberg?
“Oh, they claim to be witches, which is just silly. Bloksberg is the place witches went when they met with the devil, according to old superstition. You know, back in the witch hunt days.” Pam sighed. “Some people are apparently too bored for their own good. We have people acting to be all kinds of supernatural beings like witches, werewolves and vampires. They are role playing so much they almost believe in it themselves. And the kids are sucking it up. Whatever is wrong with just being a normal, cool person like myself?”
“And now these pretend-witches are accusing Viking Games of trying to get rid of competitors?” I answered. I still didn`t understand how this could create so much trouble. Wasn`t keeping competitors away from the stores standard operational procedure for most companies?
“I can hear that you still don`t see the severity here, Sookie. But let me tell you, this is considered highly illegal in this country. A huge dairy company was fined 40 million kroner just because one sales representative madeone offer to one shop to throw out other competitors` cheeses. We are accused of doing it on a large scale. Trust me. This is very serious.”
“But you didn`t do it.” I tried not to have a question sign at the end of my sentence, but I couldn`t make it an exclamation sign.
“That`s the Sookie I know. Of course we didn`t do it!” Pam started to sound friendly again.
“So what is their proof?”
“Ah, here is the tricky thing. They seem to have an offer in writing signed by Eric. I know Eric would never sign such a thing, but it is strong evidence. Chow is looking into it.”
“And Eric can go to jail?”
“Definitely. If Eric is found guilty, he will go to jail. He might not have been imprisoned if he had broken into Bloksberg, but this crime means jail time.”
“So this is more serious than burglary?”
Pam laughed. “Let me tell you a story, Sookie, and maybe you`ll understand more of the Norwegian judicial system. A friend of mine had his house broken into when he and his wife were just down the street for a coffee. Their 12-year-old girl was home alone, asleep on the second floor. The noise downstairs woke her up and she was scared out of her senses because she thought the burglars were some kind of monsters who would hurt her badly. They never knew she was there and they left the house without checking the second floor. When they were caught, they were very sorry because they had scared her and their sentence was to work in the garden of this house the whole summer. The girl stood in her window and watched them work and saw that they were normal human beings. At the end of the summer, she gave them lemonade and became sort of friends with them. The sentence was wise, I think, because these two guys started thinking consequences of their actions and my friend saved a lot of money on psychologists for their daughter.”
“But Eric is not going to be working in anyone`s garden?” I asked.
“The Justice Department seems to think that burglars can repent, but business people can`t. White collar crimes are punished severely.”
We were both quiet for some time.
“So how is the contact with the media going?” I finally asked.
“Good, good. We are yesterday`s news, literally. Everyone understands that Eric is gone and I am apparently not as interesting so they are leaving us pretty much alone now.”
“Be careful, Pam. The media never just leave a good story alone. The other shoe is going to drop any minute now.”
“Don`t worry, Sookie. It`ll be fine. Just make sure my brother is fine.” There was a pause and I just knew what she was going to say so I rolled my eyes in advance. “Just make sure you have enough sword polish and everything will be perfect,” she laughed and then hung up.
I fired up my computer and went to look at the homepage of The Norwegian Competition Authority. Luckily they had some basic information in English and when I was finished reading it, I tried to work my way through the Norwegian information. My conclusion was that they really took threats to free competition seriously in this weird country.
I leaned back and let my thoughts wander. Then I heard a sound from the bedroom. I walked quietly over and pushed the door open. What I saw just broke my heart. Eric was crying. Not screaming crying, but silent tears running down his cheeks and the look of despair in his eyes.
“Oh, Eric,” I said and crawled up in bed with him. I held him close and he wrapped his arms and legs around me. I felt like a large security blanket. I kissed the top of his head.
“It`s going to be fine, Eric,” I said, but even I could hear how much I sounded like a mother trying to reassure her kid. It was not the way I wanted to sound when I was in bed with Eric. I wriggled myself free of his arms and legs, jumped out of bed and pulled him with me.
“Come on. We`ll make ourselves a nice dinner, watch some television and Pam and Chow will sort this mess out.”
Dinner brought back the Eric I knew so I assumed the tears were partly because he had skipped a meal. After dinner we went for the couch and put on the television and a fire in the fire place. Soon Eric`s smile was back and so were his able hands.
The television showed a Norwegian version of `So You Think You Can Dance?`, but I couldn`t say how the game show host, the actor or the cross country skier danced because Eric had started kissing my neck and his hands were under my shirt, giving my breast the most tender loving care.
Soon we were naked in front of the fire-place, making the sweetest love I had ever made. It was slow, it was good and it was very emotional. Afterwards I was panting and looking Eric deep in the eyes.
“You are beautiful,” he suddenly said.
No one had ever looked me in the eyes and said that. I found I had to lower my head. “You are smart, and you are loyal,” he said relentlessly, though I waved a hand to ask him to quit. “You have a sense of fun and adventure.”
“Cut it out,” I said.
“Make me,” he said. “You have the most beautiful breasts I’ve ever seen. You’re brave.” I put my fingers across his mouth, and his tongue darted out to give them a quick lick. I relaxed against him, feeling the tingle down to my toes. “You’re responsible and hardworking,” he continued. Before he could tell me that I was good about replacing the garbage can liner when I took the garbage out, I replaced my fingers with my lips.
“There,” he said softly, after a long moment. “You’re creative, too.”
For the next half-hour, he showed me that he, too, was creative.
Afterwards, Eric kept paying me compliments and I realized I hadn’t said anything to him that indicated my admiration. That hardly seemed fair. He was holding me, and my head was on his shoulder. I murmured into his neck, “You are so beautiful.”
“What?” He was clearly startled.
“You’ve told me you thought my body was nice.” Of course that wasn’t the adjective he’d used, but I was embarrassed to repeat his actual words. “I just wanted you to know I think the same about you.”
I could feel his chest move as he laughed, just a little. “What part do you like best?” he asked, his voice teasing.
“Oh, your butt,” I said instantly.
“I would have thought of another part.”
“Well, that’s certainly… adequate,” I told him, burying my face in his chest. I knew immediately I’d picked the wrong word.
“Adequate?” He took my hand, placed it on the part in question. It immediately began to stir. He moved my hand on it, and I obligingly circled it with my fingers. “This is adequate?”
“Maybe I should have said it’s a gracious plenty?”
“A gracious plenty. I like that,” he said.
We were going for round three when we suddenly heard the television turning from celebrity dancers to the news and when the words `Viking Games` were mentioned in the headlines, we quickly rearranged ourselves and went back to the couch.
A woman came into the picture and I could hear Eric gasp. I gasped too when I saw her name on the screen: Sophie Anne Northman-Ravenscroft.
“Is that your mother, Eric?” I asked.
He just nodded.
I hope the explanation made sense to you – and that you enjoyed the Gracious Plenty being mentioned. We can`t have a fanfic without the Gracious Plenty, now can we?
Kyss og klem (kiss and hug)