Thank you for all your great reviews and comments. Imagine – this story is just two reviews away from 1500. I never imagined that when I started writing and I`m very grateful for each and every one.
I`m also very grateful to Rascalthemutant who has now read and corrected my stories for over a year. I`m sure she`s taught me more English than any English teacher I`ve ever had 😀
Charlaine Harris owns Sookie, Eric and all the other characters from the SVM universe, but I hope she doesn`t mind my giving them new passports and a life in Oslo.
When the doorbell rang on New Year`s Eve Eric and I looked at each other. We had chosen to have a romantic dinner, just the two of us, instead of going to one of the raving parties the rest of the country was having.
We hadn`t invited anyone and I was pretty sure this could only be bad news, which made me very reluctant about opening the door.
But I hadn`t been brought up ignoring people who either called me or came by so I got up with a sigh and opened the door. Eric was standing right next to me and he was the one who gasped at the person standing there.
I would have too if I had been attracted to women. I felt pretty sure Pam would have gasped too.
The woman outside our door looked like a model, only she wasn`t skinny. She was at least 6 feet, had short hair and perfect features. She had knock out curves in a white one-piece suit that looked like the coveralls they use on crime shows – only a lot tighter.
The only thing disturbing the image was the shoulder holster she was wearing. And the baby bump.
I stared at her and when I turned around I noticed Eric was doing the same thing. Only his staring was borderline drooling.
I coughed slightly and it made Eric snap out of the trance he had apparently wandered into. He pulled me closer and kissed my neck. And then he licked my ear lobe. Not entirely appropriate in front of strangers, but I appreciated the thought.
“Yes?” I asked.
“I`m Claudine,” the stranger said as if that should mean something to me.
“Yes?” I asked again. I knew no Claudines and judging from Eric, he didn`t either. Though he would probably have thrown himself after her if he hadn`t already been attached to me.
Claudine eyed me. “You are Sookie Stackhouse?” she asked.
I gave her my third “Yes”. This time without the question sign at the end.
Claudine smiled a smile any dentist would put in his catalogue to lure other people into thinking he was responsible for it. Claudine`s smile was not the result of anyone in a white coat, unless that was what her parents wore when she was conceived. Claudine was one of those women with perfect genes. Teeth included.
“Niall Brigant sent me,” she said. When she saw that it didn`t ring any bells she continued. “To protect you.”
“Protect me?” My voice was a little higher pitched and it wasn`t just because Eric pulled me even closer.
“Can I come in, please?” I nodded and soon we were in the living room where she continued. “Niall was supposed to have told you about me coming here, but apparently he didn`t. He`s appointed you his heir and he figured that would make you a target for his enemies.”
“What?” Eric yelled. “He deliberately put Sookie in danger?”
Claudine gave him the same kind of smile you give to children before you explain something very basic to them.
“He did give her a fortune too. Danger comes with money. Which is why he sent me. Niall thinks ahead.”
“But I don`t want his money. And definitely not whatever comes with it,” I said.
“I`m sorry, but that`s not an option. He needed an heir he could trust and who better than a complete stranger who is also his granddaughter? You made a great impression on him.”
“And what is your relation to him?” Eric asked.
“I`ve been working as his bodyguard for years. Now that he`s dying, he said I should go look after you.”
“You`re a bodyguard?” I asked. I couldn`t help glancing at her stomach.
“I am and I have been for years. And this…” she pointed to her stomach. “Will not get in the way. I`m a professional.”
I didn`t want to question her ability to work as a bodyguard when pregnant. I admired her dedication to her work but I also doubted she would risk her baby on my account. Which was fine by me because I wasn`t planning on being in any danger. Then I remembered everything I`d been through this last year and had second thoughts.
“Excuse me for asking. I`ve never had a bodyguard before.” `Because I`ve never been in danger before` I wanted to say. “But how does this work? Do I call you if I go on a trip?”
She smiled at me and that smile made me relax. She had a way of making people like her instantly even if she also had an aura of `don`t mess with me`.
“I move in with you and go everywhere you go,” she explained as if it was the most logical thing in the world.
“Excuse me?” Eric and I asked simultaneously.
“I assume you have room for me?” she asked.
“Well yes, but…” Eric started.
“Then that`s settled,” Claudine said and got up. “I`ll go pick up my suitcase from my car and you can go back to whatever you were doing.”
“Celebrating New Year`s Eve,” I explained.
“Oh, it`s New Year`s Eve? Great! I have a few calls to make.” And with that Claudine was out the door.
Eric and I looked at each other with confusion and then we started laughing. I stopped before Eric.
“I`m so sorry,” I said between the laughs. “It seems my family is pretty weird too.”
Eric hugged me. “I`m so glad. It`ll make my family seem slightly more normal in comparison.”
“Oh, I think your family still has a long way to go before they hit anywhere near normal.” I pinched his butt lovingly. Then I looked up into his face. “But I really don`t know what to do with this. I mean, I don`t want that kind of money and I certainly don`t want what comes with it. Claudine seems nice enough, but can you imagine having a person around us all the time?”
Something made me turn my head and I saw Claudine standing in the doorway. She smiled reassuringly.
“I know this must be strange for you, but I`m sure you won`t notice me after a while.”
Claudine was right. I didn`t notice her after a while. Or rather, she became a good friend. The kind of friend you enjoy having around you.
A couple of days into the new year, Eric put on a red shirt and told me to hurry or we would miss it.
“Miss what?” I asked.
“The what?” I tried to translate. “The Christmas tree party? You have party for the Christmas tree in January?”
“Didn`t you get the memo? All employees at Viking Games and their spouses, children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, neighbor`s children and other children they may want to bring, are invited to the Juletresfest tonight. It`s a tradition in all companies in Norway. A couple of days into January we celebrate the last days of the Christmas tree by inviting a magician or a comedian to entertain the kids, serve them sausages and cake and finally Santa Claus comes and gives them all a small present. Usually candy and something with the company`s logo on it. It`s a huge thing for the kids and it makes the transition from Christmas to dark January less harsh.”
“Really? And all the employees bring kids? Even the ones who don`t have any?”
“Most of them do. The companies who arrange the best Juletresfests are very popular among the kids. Childless employees can always be the cool uncle or aunt for a night. Or they just come and have fun with other employee`s kids. I`ve done that for years since Pam has been so reluctant in making me an uncle.”
I smiled while I thought the whole concept over. “It`s sounds like a great idea. So what am I expected to wear?”
“Nothing special, but it should be a bit Christmassy. Something red, for instance.”
And with that I changed into a red woolen dress I hadn`t worn that much since it was usually too cold outside and too hot inside.
Kids were singing and yelling and were in a general state of high sugar intake halfway through the evening. I was impressed with the people entertaining the children because they managed to channel the overexcitement into surprise when a rabbit jumped out of a hat and laughter when the clown was shot with a water-gun.
I had to smile at the toddlers and the teens and all the other kids, all dressed in their finest and with expectation in their eyes. Their parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts sat back with proud grins to the kids they had brought with them and commented on the cuteness of everyone else`s.
Eric seemed happy and he couldn`t have looked prouder if all the children had been his own. I took his hand and then my eyes caught Claudine who caressed her stomach lightly and had a tiny smile on her lips. I couldn`t help wondering if her kid would be yelling to the magician that the rose was in his pocket, in a couple of years. Would I be needing her services that long?
Then I smiled at the thought that I had assumed, without thinking, that I would be attending this party in a couple of years. That I would be here, holding Eric`s hand and looking at my colleagues` children for years to come.
That thought warmed my heart.
Unfortunately I wasn`t allowed to smile for long. Suddenly I felt Eric stiffen and followed his gaze. He was looking at the door where a dark haired guy walked in. He reminded me of someone, but I couldn`t figure out who, before Eric growled.
The dark haired man, who was Eric`s uncle – and the guy who had kicked out Eric`s mother from the company. The one and only Felipe de Castro.
He came over to us with the most charming smile on his lips.
“Eric!” he exclaimed as if they were lifelong friends. Then he looked at me. “And this must be the charming Miss Stackhouse.” He then shook his head. “I do beg your pardon. Ms. Stackhouse.” He looked at Eric. “Or is it Mrs. Northman?”
Eric and I had never talked about last names so I replied. “Sookie is fine.”
He bowed. “Oh, then you must call me Felipe.”
“And to what do we owe the honor? You didn`t bring any children?” Eric`s face was completely unreadable.
“And neither did you, Eric. Neither did you.” Felipe smiled.
“Did you come to discuss business?” Eric asked. “Because then I would say your timing was off.”
“Of course not, my dear nephew. I came to say hello to you and your lovely wife and what better time to do this than at this joyous occasion?” He held out his hand towards all the children. “I`ve always found children such a proof of life. They bring you happiness just by being around them.”
“Really?” Eric said. “But maybe you and I should leave the children for a few minutes so we can talk about whatever you came to talk to me about and then we can come back when Santa Claus hands out the presents.”
“What a grand idea, Eric,” Felipe said. “Lead the way and I will follow.”
“Yeah, that would be a first,” Eric answered which Felipe apparently found hilarious. They went out of the main area of the party and walked up the stairs to the offices.
I stayed behind at the party and tried to enjoy myself, but I couldn`t. I kept thinking about Eric being alone with his uncle and how Eric would feel afterwards. I figured I would spend the night trying to cheer him up and mentally started laying plans.
Then I got up abruptly, making a few kids turn their heads away from the magician and stare at me. I smiled reassuringly at them, but went out of the room and to the stairs. Out the corner of my eye I noticed Claudine getting up too, but I made a sign with my hands to make her relax and sit down again. There was no need to get her involved in this.
I walked up the stairs, but stopped in my tracks when I heard heated voices. Three heated voices. Eric and Felipe were not alone.
Instead of barging in, I started tiptoeing. I wanted to hear what was going on. Who that third person was and what he wanted.
The door into the room they were in wasn`t entirely closed and I could see Eric and Felipe. They both looked tormented. Eric was pale and if I hadn`t seen him smile and have fun just ten minutes ago, I would have thought he was sick. Felipe didn`t look well either. Something had definitely shook them.
I leaned a little closer to get a look at the third guy in the room and almost fell back on my butt when I saw who it was. Santa Claus. Santa Claus was threatening Eric and Felipe.
Because that was what he was doing. I didn`t have to listen to the conversation for many seconds before I understood that Santa Claus was going to go down to the party, scare all the kids and claim that Felipe was a pedophile who had abused Eric when he was a kid.
I had no idea if that was the truth, but I knew it would destroy Eric to have his colleagues` children threatened and scared. Not to mention, to have everyone gossip about him being molested. Eric, of course, had nothing to be ashamed of but I was still pretty sure this would be devastating for Eric.
Then I realized that Santa`s voice was familiar. I ran through everyone I knew in Norway. Everyone I`d ever met. Then it hit me.
Santa was Sigebert in disguise.
I hope to be able to post at least one more chapter before I go to Denmark and Greece on my summer vacation. Now that Denmark has been knocked out of the World Cup in football (yeah, I cried *sob*), I have one distraction less in my life.
Did you read all the stories we wrote to cheer up Alisonbynumbers who is currently sick? If not, please go towww [dot] fanfiction [dot] net/u/2419303/Alison_beads_of_fiction
Seastarr08 is the brain (and heart) behind this and she managed to get 11 writers to write fics from both the SVM and the Night Huntress universe.
I wrote the small fic called Healing Powers about when Alison met Eric. I just wish my story would come true.