Wow, I am touched by all the reviews, favorites and subscriptions! Thank you so much. I can`t tell you how happy it makes me that you like this story.
I want to thank Rascalthemutant for her strong eyes, her corrections and her encouragement. I also want to thank everyone at the Alexander Skarsgård library forum for the fun and cheering.
Eric and Sookie are not mine, unfortunately. I hope no one minds that I took them home with me to play.
The restaurant was called `Statholdergården`, and was like walking into a 19th century living room. The furniture gave the whole place extraordinary atmosphere and I liked it immediately. I did feel rather uncomfortable in my sundress though. Eric must have read my mind, because he bent down and whispered.
“You look perfect.”
We had a table by the window and looked out in the Oslo night. The sun was still up, but the restaurant was getting empty. People were drinking coffee and paying their bills.
“Let`s just get something light. I don`t want to keep the cooks and chefs here all night.” I whispered to Eric.
“The chef and owner is a friend of mine. I`m sure he wouldn`t mind getting home a little later when he sees that I brought someone as sweet as you to eat his food.”
Just as I was about to tell him I wasn`t especially sweet and that this wasn`t a date, a chubby chef came in with a smile that was even larger than Eric`s.
“Eeeeric”. He started shouting all the way from the door to the kitchen and soon the two men were entangled in a bear hug.
“So how are Dawn and Maudette?” The Chef asked.
“Dawn is just fine, but Maudette was a pathetic creature. But Bent, your poor manners are ruining mine. Bent, this is Sookie.” He made an arm movement in my direction. “Sookie, this is Bent; the best Chef in Oslo. His place even has a star in the Michelin guide book. And everyone knows it should have had two.”
Eric and Bent seemed very friendly. I couldn`t help feeling bad for Maudette, a woman I had never met, for being referred to as `a pathetic creature`.
Bent went back out into the kitchen after having promised us a meal we would never forget. I felt pretty sure I wouldn`t forget this meal no matter what I was served. I couldn`t help liking Eric, but I also felt that it was a dangerous path to enter. I decided to keep my distance. There is, after all, no need to have your heart broken twice in the same week.
I started thinking about Bill and our relationship. It dawned on me that I had always wanted more out of it than he did. Why else would I so happily come running just because he invited me? And now that I knew that it wasn`t him inviting me, I felt like a fool. Deep in my heart I had known that it was very unlike Bill to ask me to quit my job and come live with him, but I had been so willing to believe it, that I had never questioned it.
I was deep in thought when Eric coughed slightly to gain my attention.
“So what did you see in Bill anyway?” Eric certainly didn`t beat around the bush.
I did not want to tell Eric that Bill had been my first real boyfriend or that I had fallen for his cool distance and how I had felt that he knew everything. I would just seem as pathetic as this Maudette apparently had been.
“That`s really none of your business, now is it?”
I knew that it was impolite and probably juvenile too, but Bill was something I wanted to get over with, not something I wanted to discuss over dinner.
Eric looked at me scrutinizingly, then changed subjects and started asking me about my first impressions of Norway. The conversation the rest of the evening was light and humorous and Bill did not enter it even once.
We walked home, laughing and in a good mood. I liked that quality about Eric; he could make me forget that I really just wanted to curl up in a fetal position and cry over lost love.
When we came home, he asked me if I wanted a night cap or a cup of coffee. I laughed because that would usually be something one said to lure the girl into one`s home after the date, but I was already there.
I said `no thank you` and started moving towards my bedroom, when I felt strong arms pulling me back and before I knew it, the strong arms were around me and I felt warm and soft lips against mine.
Judging from the kiss, Eric had had plenty of kissing-experience. He was a great kisser and I couldn`t help kissing back. Luckily clarity hit me and I started pulling back.
“Yield to me, Sookie.” He said in a hoarse voice.
Well, that was pretty direct.
“No,” I said, in the most definitive voice I could summon. “No.”
“I am not Bill.” He said.
“No, you are not Bill, all right.” I said. When I reflected on that sentence, I was not proud of it.
“You think Bill is better than me?”
“I am not having this conversation.” Then I proceeded to have it. “Eric, I appreciate your offering to house me, and I appreciate your willingness to give me a job and taking me out in Oslo.”
“Believe me, Sookie, I do this gladly.”
“I believe you. But two days ago I thought I was going to live with my boyfriend Bill. I can`t just go kissing someone else.” I could feel the waterworks starting to pump.
“I`m not `someone else`. ” Eric smiled.
“Eric. I`m going to go to bed now. Alone. Deal with it.” I started marching off, hoping I would be behind closed doors before tears would roll down my cheeks. I was, but I couldn`t help a loud sob escaping my lips.
“Are you all right, Sookie?” Eric asked from behind the closed door.
“Uh huh.” Was all I could say, but it made him leave.
That night I cried myself to sleep. When I woke up the next morning, I cried some more.
Then I took a deep breath, went to the bathroom, had a long bath in the huge tub and felt much better. Now I was ready to face whatever the world had planned to throw in my face next.
What the world had planned to throw in my face was a tall, blond guy in full soccer gear. He was even carrying a ball. And a huge smile.
“Great that you are up! Come on, you only have time for a quick breakfast since you are to be my cheerleader in half an hour.” He was practically jumping up and down.
“But I`m no cheerleader.”
“I thought all American girls were cheerleaders. I was looking forward to seeing you in a skimpy skirt and pompoms while shouting my name. Darn it.” He teased me. “Never mind. You can cheer for me in jeans if you want. But hurry up.”
Before I knew it, we were in the car. One adult kid full of expectation and one soccer-ignorant being forced to go.
“So have you been to a lot of football games before?” He asked.
“Yes, I`ve been to plenty of football games, but I`ve never seen a soccer game.” I was wondering why he was asking me about football. He was carrying a soccer ball, wasn`t he? “You are playing soccer, right?”
Suddenly he stood on the brakes and I was almost kissing the windshield.
“I play football. It`s a game played with feet and this is why it`s called football. I cannot help the fact that some silly people in your country decided to use the beautiful word `football` to describe a game played mainly with the ball in their hands and arms. Never confuse football and that violent game you guys play. I love football. Football is art.” He would have continued it I hadn`t made a stop-motion with my hand.
“Ok, ok. Relax.” I couldn`t help laughing. This was apparently his Achilles-heel and I made a mental note of it.
“So explain the basics of foooootball.” I said in a teasing voice.
And he did. He explained the rules, which teams he loved and which he hated, how Norway had once beaten Brazil and how he had started a company team `to get the computer engineers to move their bodies a little`.
I am no sports fan and normally I would have been bored into an early death if someone had talked 15 minutes straight about a sport that meant nothing to me, but Eric`s commitment and love of the sport made me listen closely. He even made me laugh.
The same was the case with the game itself. I actually had fun the two times 45 minutes they played. I did not want to admit to myself that I was looking at Eric the whole time the game was played, but I was. He played with a strange mixture of grace and determination. Anything but victory would go down badly. Luckily his team won with a last minute goal.
Afterwards Eric came over to the stands to me and gave me a sweaty hug.
“We won. Did you see that? Huh? This is what football is all about.” His eyes got all dreamy when he was interrupted by one of his team-mates.
“Is that yet another new girlfriend, Eric?” He shouted to Eric making some kissing sounds that made me blush.
“I wish, Charles. I wish.” Eric shouted back making my cheeks even redder. Eric smiled when he saw it.
“Come on, Sookie. I need to have a bath and I know just the place.” He grabbed my hand and pulled me to the car. If I had been embarrassed about my smell when I was picked up at the airport, I could have just saved myself the embarrassment. Eric smelled like a mixture of a wet dog and a horse after a big race. I couldn`t help laughing.
Before I knew it we were in a parking lot at a forest. A huge forest.
“This forest is huge. You can walk for weeks and still see new parts. Actually you can walk all the way to Sweden, only crossing a few roads and railroad lines. In this forest you have all kinds of wildlife like moose and foxes and even the occasional wolf.” He sounded proud, but I couldn`t help looking frightened. Wolves?
“Don`t worry, Sookie. Wolves tend to avoid people so the only thing we ever see is their tracks.”
We walked for quite a bit and it was very lovely. I was looking over my shoulders for wolves and moose when he pulled us into the deep woods instead of going out in the more open landscape. Soon I realized why. The most beautiful forest lake was there, inviting us in for a swim.
Since Eric had failed to mention anything about swimming, I hadn`t brought my swim-suit. I was cursing inside because the lake looked really great.
Suddenly I heard a loud splash and saw Eric in the water.
“You brought your swim trunks and never told me that we were going swimming?” I asked in angry voice.
“No.” He waggled his eyebrows. And when he saw the question mark in my face he continued. “No, I didn`t bring any swim trunks.”
Realization dawned on me and I quickly looked up in the sky, only to hear Eric`s loud laughter from the lake.
Statholdergården is a real restaurant, Bent is the chef there and the food makes angels sing.
Eric is definitely channeling my love of football and skinny dipping! Come to think of it, he probably channels every Scandinavian man, woman and child on this.
I hope you liked this chapter.