I am so amazed. All you sweethearts have given this story more than a thousand reviews! Actually both my ongoing stories, this and Dead with the Vikings, hit the thousand reviews mark the same week, which left me in a silly giggle fit. You guys all deserve to have a tall, blond Viking knocking on your door!
Thank you so much, Rascalthemutant, for reading and correcting this *hugs and kisses*.
Unfortunately I don`t own Eric or Sookie or any quotes I use. I just wish I did.
“Who was that?” Eric asked as we walked on.
I was so giddy from seeing my best friend again after all this time, I didn`t pay attention to Eric`s frown.
“Oh Barry? He was my best friend at university. We studied PR and Communications together and we were very close. Unfortunately Bill couldn`t stand him and I kind of lost contact with Barry over the years. Can you imagine how happy I was to see him here of all places?” I smiled.
Barry and I had been two peas in a pod, always together, always gossiping and having fun. We were both the odd ones at the university. Barry was gay and I was the girl from the backwaters of Louisiana. Barry was skinny and looked like he wanted to apologize to the whole world for his existence and I never got the dress codes or how to behave like the girls at the cool girl`s table in the cafeteria.
We had saved each other from loneliness, but also found that we had a lot in common. We were both very good, almost intuitively, in PR and we were surprised at how little some of our co-students understood.
And we both loved to dance. We had started out dancing around in my room, but after a while we had gone out just to shake our bodies. Barry didn`t drink and neither did I. Well, not much, at least. But we danced for hours. We even won a competition or two.
“Were you two….?” Eric asked.
I looked at Eric. What was he asking? If Barry and I had been lovers? Eric must have missed some very vital information when he saw Barry. To me it was obvious Barry carried a sign that said `men only` on his forehead (and possibly on other body parts), but apparently Eric had been too busy checking out the competition to notice.
I could have been the nice girl and explained this to Eric, but why should I? Eric was probably the worst man-whore in all of Scandinavia and everywhere I looked, I would see his ex-lovers. I didn`t throw a hissy fit over girls he said `hi` to.
The number of men that had ever been between my sheets sexually could be counted on one hand. And that would be on a person without a thumb. Or an index finger.
I hated jealousy, but if Eric couldn`t see he had nothing to fear from Barry, so be it.
“If we were…?” I looked at Eric. “What are you asking? If we were lovers? No, Eric,” I explained in a voice usually used for slow children, “Barry has never been my lover.” I rolled my eyes for good measure.
We were back in the hall when a familiar person walked towards us. Sigebert. He looked at Eric.
“Your mother has arrived and would like to see you, Eric.” He then looked at me. His gaze was neutral. “And you, Sookie.”
I swallowed. I was in no hurry to say hello to my new mother-in-law. Suddenly I felt Eric`s arm around my waist and he pulled me into his body and the tension ran out of me.
Eric could have been sold in little, well large, bottles as medicine against anxiety attacks. Actually Eric could be medicine against a whole lot of things and I was thankful I had him close to me.
Gone was my annoyance with his reaction to Barry and I leaned into him and hugged him.
We walked up the stairs, arm in arm, after Sigebert. Sigebert knocked on a huge wooden door and we entered. The room was large and decorated with silk tapestry, centuries old furniture and dark paintings on the walls.
At one end of the room there was a four-poster bed and at the other, soft chairs and a couch. Sophie Anne rested on a chaise longue, but when we entered she got up and came towards us with her hands outstretched. She said my name for about a minute, lucky that it had so many vowels.
She gave me a large hug and kissed both my cheeks.
“I am so glad my son finally came around and married you,” she exclaimed and I was about to call her out on her lie when I saw Eric`s smile. He may have been annoyed with his mother, but she was still his flesh and blood and I would just have to play nice. I gritted my teeth and smiled back at her.
She took my hand and pulled me over to the couch.
“Come sit here next to me.” Sophie Anne patted the couch. “And tell me all about yourself.”
The next hour or so was spent on Eric`s mother asking me all kinds of questions and me trying to avoid answering them without seeming impolite.
Finally Eric got up.
“We have to get ready for the ball, mother.” He took my hand and after we had said our goodbyes, we left the room and went to our own.
Our suitcases were already there.
“The dinner won`t be until after the dance because some of the guests are arriving rather late,” Eric explained.
I nodded. “Who are the guests?” Eric had just mentioned they were rich, but I really didn`t know anything about them.
“They are shipping tycoons, owners of huge grocery chains, oil magnates, hotel chain playboys, you name it. Old money and new money, money is what they have in common. They meet up discreetly from time to time and my mother is really thrilled to have been invited to the `it`-circle.”
“And why are they gathering like this?” I asked.
“To make deals. To brag. To enjoy the company of other stinking rich people.”
“And why are we here. I mean, I assume Viking Games isn`t making you that much money?”
“I have enough for the salt on my porridge.”
“Sorry, a Norwegian expression. Well, I get by and I`m probably rich compared to most people, but I certainly am a pauper in this company.” Eric paused and started to undress. I raised my eyebrows, but he just smiled. “I get by financially, but I`m really here because my mother wants to introduce me to people who can be useful to me. And I assume she is showing off my beautiful bride as well since I have quite the … hmm … reputation and I guess she wants to have them see me as the new responsible married me.” Eric flashed all 32 teeth. Or 28. I couldn`t tell if he had his wisdom teeth.
I didn`t appreciate being dragged to this place just to be Eric`s alibi as a born-again grown-up and I supposed that was what made me cross my arms over my chest.
Eric came over to me and pulled me into his embrace. He was only wearing his t-shirt and boxers. His trousers and shirt were on the chair.
“I`m not playing games with you, you know. I`m here because from time to time I try to be the good son, even if I know she doesn`t deserve it.” Eric kissed the tip of my nose. “And we are going on a honeymoon afterwards.” He pulled away slightly to look at me. “It was going to be a surprise, but how do the Danish West Indies sound to you?”
Eric laughed. “I suppose you know them under the name US Virgin Islands. They were Danish-Norwegian when Denmark and Norway were one country, and then just Danish up until 1917 when you guys bought them for $25 million.”
“We are going to the US Virgin Islands?” I squeeled.
“If you want to. My mother has a house on St. Croix and it`s perfect for a honeymoon.”
“I`d love to go there. I mean, if you want to?”
“Of course I do, Sookie. We would have so much fun there. We could swim and surf and maybe take little boat trips with my mother`s boat.”
I was just about to give Eric a kiss when a knock on the door stopped me. Eric rolled his eyes.
Pam opened the door without waiting for a signal. That made Eric huff.
“Didn`t you learn to wait for people to say `enter` before you opened the door?”
“Sure,” Pam said with a smile. “But I get to see so much more interesting things when I just jump into a room.” Her smile turned into a smirk. “At least I knocked.”
“Fuck you, Pam.” Eric exclaimed.
“Well, if Sookie were to make the offer, I wouldn`t turn her down,” Pam teased. I couldn`t help laughing, but as most little sisters, she knew exactly how to get her big brother to blow steam out of his ears.
“Piss off, Pam.”
“Calm down before you pop a vein. I was just coming to tell you to get your asses ready.” And with that she was out the door again.
I was wearing a midnight blue gown Pam had bought me. It was an amazing dress that fit me like a glove. Judging from Eric`s look when he saw me, he liked it as well.
We had eaten a few sandwiches that were delivered to our room by waiters dressed in the same 17th century uniforms we had seen when we arrived. It seemed weird to get a ham-and-cheese from guys wearing white wigs, but I suppose it would have been worse if I had asked for peanut-butter and jelly as I really wanted.
I applied a little make up and ran a brush through my hair and I was ready. Eric eyes ran up and down my body.
“Most of the ladies at the ball are going to be wearing jewels so huge they will almost break under the weight. Looking at you proves just how ridiculous that is. You will outshine them all.”
I blushed slightly.
“Of course, if you want to wear the GNP of a smaller country around your neck, you just let me know,” he winked.
I laughed. “I don`t really think that`s me.”
“Which is one of the things I like about you.” Eric kissed my cheek and off we went.
The dance had already started when we entered the ballroom. If I had been worried about the dances only being waltzes, or even older dances, I was relieved to see a DJ spinning records and playing great dance tunes.
Then Eric said, “Let’s dance,” and I found I couldn’t say no. Of course, the DJ put on a very slow tune just then. I couldn`t sing, but by golly, I could dance. And Eric had had a few ballroom lessons along the way. My hand rested on his back, his on mine, our free hands clasped, and off we went.
We took the floor along with Sophie Anne and a few very wealthy looking couples. I wasn’t sure exactly what the dance was, but Eric was a strong leader, so it was easy to follow along. More like the waltz than anything else, I decided.
“That is a pretty dress,” Eric said. “And you are a beautiful woman.”
I was oddly embarrassed. I’d gotten compliments before—you don`t go to university parties with my D-cup and not get compliments—but most of them had consisted of (various degrees of drunk) guys telling me I was really cute—or, in one man’s case, how impressive my “rack” was.
“Eric,” I said, but I couldn’t finish the sentence because I couldn’t think of what to say next. I had to concentrate on the speed with which my feet were moving. We were dancing so fast I felt like I was flying. Suddenly Eric dropped my hand to grip my waist, and as we turned, he swung me out, and then I was twirling, with a little help from a Norwegian Viking. I laughed like a loon, my hair billowing out around my head, and then he let me go and caught me, just inches from his own body, and then he did it again and again, until at last I was standing on the floor and the music was over.
“Thank you,” I said, knowing I must look like I’d been standing in a high gale. “Excuse me while I go to the ladies’ room.”
I scooted off through the crowd, trying not to grin like an idiot. I was with—oh, yeah—my husband. I giggled at the thought.
I had dabbed my reddish face with cold water and taken a few deep breaths and was ready to face the world, and Eric, again.
Unfortunately he was nowhere to be found when I came out. I felt a bit out of place until I saw Barry again. I smiled and went over to him and was greeted by him smiling back and giving me a warm hug. The hug was really a reminder of matchstick-Barry being replaced by a more muscular version of him.
“What happened to you?” was the first thing I asked.
“I guess I decided to find not only my inner, but also my outer strength,” he replied with a proud smile.
“Good for you! You look amazing.”
Barry took a step back and assessed me. “Well, so do you, girlfriend.”
We talked for some time, catching up like only good friends can. I couldn`t help touching his new body, so as to reassure myself it was really him. Barry smiled and laughed and so did I.
Barry was there as the PR-manager of some Texan oil tycoon. I told him I was married to Eric and he gave me a huge hug and congratulated me for finally coming to my senses about Bill.
Suddenly the DJ decided to play Britney Spears `Hit Me Baby` and I squealed. Not because I was a big Britney-fan, but because this was one of the songs Barry and I had rehearsed a dance to. I pulled him out on the dance floor and we did the whole routine with slapping each other`s butts, shaking our stuff and miming to the song.
I was having the time of my life when, in the middle of me miming `Oh, pretty baby, I shouldn`t have let you go`, I heard a voice behind me.
“What are you doing?” Eric asked, and he wasn’t being facetious. He was glacial with disapproval.
“Dancing, why?” I gave a wave to signal Eric to scoot. But Barry had stopped, already, and given me a little good-bye wave.
“I was having a good time,” I protested.
“You were twitching your assets in front of every male in the room,” he said. “Like a…”
“You hold up, buddy! You stop right there!” I held up a finger, warning him.
“Take your finger out of my face,” he said.
I inhaled to say something unforgivable, welcoming the tide of anger with actual delight—I was not tied to him at the waist—when I saw Sophie Anne staring at me. I blushed and walked out of the room with tears burning behind my eyelids.
I met Pam just outside the ballroom.
“Do you have the key to your room?” I asked.
“Yes, of course,” she said and produced it from her purse.
I took her key and gave her mine instead.
“I`m taking over your room,” I said.
Pam smiled, apparently thinking I was joking. “Is the honeymoon over already?”
“You go ask that bullheaded brother of yours,” I hissed and stalked up the stairs.
I unlocked the door to Pam`s room and threw myself on her bed and cried into the pillow. I cried tears of anger and tears of a broken heart. I wished dearly Eric and I had had a conversation about rules and expectations before we got married. But I had been carried away by Eric`s grand wedding and the great sex – and completely forgotten why I had married him.
To get a work permit.
I`ll be hiding in my basement for your reactions to this chapter.