Wow, the feedback I got from the last chapter was amazing. Thank you all for the lovely reviews and PMs. They certainly brought a smile to my face (and my colleagues wonder why I`m constantly grinning when I`ve just posted a chapter).
One of you, and now I can`t find who so I can give her the credit she deserves (hugs to you all the same), suggested that I write a recap of the 40 first chapters. This story has been going on for over a year and it isn`t easy to remember it all. I thought it was a great idea so before the chapter, I will give you the first 40 chapters in short. If you remember it all, just scroll down to chapter 41.
I want to thank Rascalthemutant for betaing and for being such a great friend. I also want to thank all the lovely ladies at the Alexander Skarsgård Library Forum for being so sweet and caring when life is dark and troubled. And I had to laugh when Sarge met Alexander Skarsgård in Poland and told him he had his own library. His reply was: “I have a library? Cool! Like a president! Yeah.”
I also want to thank Schafer for helping me out with information about the British police. I hope I didn`t mess up the way they speak too much *cough*
We had a moment of silence until the doctor realized that neither Eric nor I knew I had been pregnant. I was probably gaping in surprise since I couldn`t remember having had sex without the use of contraception. Then I recalled that one time, the time I`d thrown out all condoms in fear I would lose my work permit. I cringed at my own stupidity.
Maybe my own pregnancy had been the reason why babies had occupied my thoughts so much lately? My body had been preparing my mind for what was to come.
But now I wasn`t pregnant anymore. A tear trailed down my cheek and I quickly wiped it away. How could I mourn over something I hadn`t even known was there?
Eric looked heartbroken too and when I grabbed his hand he sort of sagged a little, but then he pulled himself together and gave my hand a squeeze.
“I`m sorry. I assumed you knew,” the doctor said.
After the doctor had left us, Eric sat down next to me, still holding my hand. He looked as if he wanted to ask me something, but then he looked out the window instead.
I wanted to say something too, but I couldn`t. If I said anything about the miscarriage, it would inevitably lead to us talking about having children and that was not a conversation I wanted just now.
I closed my eyes and sighed, but held Eric`s hand to show him I wanted him to stay. He sat down and leaned his head into the crook of my arm and I slipped my other hand into his hair, toying slightly with it.
It brought comfort having him here like that and I sighed again. I opened my eyes and was about to speak, say something, when a slight knock made me look at the door instead of at Eric.
The door opened and two people walked in. A woman who was probably in her early forties and a man who was slightly younger.
A quick glance at Eric told me that he didn`t know any of them. They came over to the bed.
“Sookie Stackhouse?” the man asked.
“I`m Inspector Tom Lattesta and this is Chief Superintendant Sara Weiss. We`re from SOCA,” he explained.
When I didn`t look as if I knew what SOCA was, the woman leaned over me and said in a mixture of American and British. “Serious Organized Crime Agency.” She added a phony Southern twang which I suspected was for my benefit. “Drugs, organized immigration crime, mafia, that`s the kind of things we work with.”
I nodded without understanding why they were here.
“So what was my abduction related to? Drugs, organized immigration crime or the mafia?”
“We suspect the mafia.” Sara Weiss said. “Which of course means both drugs and organized immigration crime.”
“And a long list of other types of crime,” Tom Lattesta followed up.
“I can`t see how this relates to me.” Then I looked at Eric. “Would the mafia black-mail your mother?”
My abductors would certainly lack some vital information if they thought my disappearance would have Sophie-Anne Northman-Ravenscroft run to the bank to get my ransom.
Eric shook his head. “I don`t think they would. She`s kept a pretty low profile here.”
The two police officers looked at each other. Then Sara Weiss leaned over me again. I began to dislike the way she hung over my bed in some ill-fitting attempt at being familiar.
“Do you know Niall Brigant?” she asked, innocently.
That took me entirely by surprise. Yes, I knew Niall Brigant. Just before Christmas he had suddenly approached me from out of nowhere and told me I was his granddaughter. He had also told me he was leaving his entire fortune to me. Oh, and that he was dying.
Claudine had been his employee and she was his way of looking after me. Or checking up on me.
I hadn`t welcomed Niall Brigant claiming that the guy I`d always known as Gramps, wasn`t my grandfather. I didn`t want to know that my grandmother had slept with this stranger or that I was going to be rich. Very rich. Because it was pretty clear to me where the money came from and it wasn`t from any legal business.
I really didn`t want to answer her question. I hadn`t done anything wrong by talking to Niall and I had certainly told him I didn`t want his money, but I still felt uncomfortable with having the police asking me questions about him.
“You sound American?” I asked in an attempt of changing the topic. She didn`t sound American at all. Only phony.
She smiled. “Well, thank you,” she said, laying the accent even thicker. “I worked in Mississippi for a while and I guess I`m just a natural with accents.”
“So Niall Brigant,” Tom Lattesta said. He wasn`t thrown off course by me flattering his colleague.
“Yes, what about him?”
“What`s your relationship to him?” he asked, his voice getting more and more annoyed.
“I`m not really sure,” I answered truthfully. I couldn`t be absolutely positive that he was in fact my grandfather.
Eric took my hand and gave it a squeeze.
“What does this Niall Brigant have to do with Sookie being abducted? Did he do it?” Eric asked. I squeezed his hand back, thankful that he asked a question that might confuse the detectives.
Tom Lattesta looked at Eric. “What? No, we don`t believe so.”
“Then why are you asking Sookie questions about him?”
“He is a known criminal and we want to explore all possibilities. This could be related to his mmm line of business.”
“Really?” I asked, feeling sick all of a sudden. “But I don`t know his line of business. You should ask Mr. Brigant instead of me.”
Sara Weiss and Tom Lattesta exchanged looks.
“Any information you can give us would be very helpful.” Sara Weiss said, patting the hand Eric was not holding.
“I don`t have any information. I`ve seen Niall Brigant only once and he told me very little about himself.”
There was an awkward silence where I felt sure my two visitors would have loved to be able to communicate telepathically. Finally Tom Lattesta broke the silence.
“Why did he contact you, Sookie? We can`t find any reason why he would go to Oslo to visit you.”
“Or why he would give you a body guard,” Sara Weis continued.
Eric straightened up.
“Her name is Ms. Stackhouse to you and I really don`t think she can give you any good answers to your questions. What I do know is that she is tired now and needs her rest. She has been through a terrible ordeal and we fully expect you to catch whoever did this to her.” Eric was getting angry and he let them know it.
“Of course, Mr. Northman,” Sara Weiss said to Tom Lattesta`s obvious annoyance. “We`ll be coming back when Soo…Ms. Stackhouse is feeling better.” Then she turned to me. “We hope we can get your cooperation later on.”
I must have slept for hours after the visit from the police officers. It had worn me out and after a sweet kiss from Eric, I almost passed out.
I was woken up by some very loud voices from the room next door.
“You stupid cow. You were supposed to look after her and now she`s in the hospital, having lost my great-grandchild. ”
A female voice spoke but I couldn`t make out what she was saying. I looked at Eric who was also listening into the conversation. He whispered “Claudine” and I remembered that he had told me Claudine was just next door. And apparently getting chewed out by Niall Brigant. My grandfather, the mobster.
“I wish it had been your child that was lost instead. You`re fired and I`ll make sure you will never work again.”
I sat up.
“Eric. You have to stop him. He can`t treat her like that. It isn`t right.”
Eric nodded and headed for the door when Niall came through it, all smiles. One would never have guessed that he had been yelling at a pregnant woman just a minute before.
Niall stalked over to my bed exclaiming “Darling” all the way. The word got a very long “a”. He moved in to hug me, but I yanked back.
“Why did you fire Claudine? It wasn`t as if it was her fault.”
Niall looked taken aback. “Of course it was. It was her job to keep you safe and you weren`t safe, which means she failed.”
“And why wasn`t I safe in the first place?” I asked.
“What do you mean?” He looked at Eric as if he might clue him in.
“I mean the fact that I get a visit from the SOCO, no SOMO.” I huffed. “The whatever you call your agency for fighting organized crime.”
“The SOCA?” he asked.
“Yes, that`s the one.”
“They were here?”
I rolled my eyes. “That`s what I`m saying. And they were more than implying that I was abducted because of you.”
“I`ll deal with it,” he said very nonchalantly. “And I will make sure your abductors are caught and punished.”
The way he said it made the little hairs in my neck stand up but I didn`t want to ask him what he meant. I just swore to myself that I would never see Niall Brigant again and that I would never accept anything from him – alive or dead.
“Thank you, Niall,” I said insincerely. I faked a yawn. “I really need to sleep a little now. We can talk more later, can`t we?” Like in the week with two Thursdays.
Niall quickly excused himself and after trying to give me another hug, but failing, he was out the door. Eric and I waited a long time before we spoke and after a couple of minutes we both breathed out loudly.
“I need to get out of here, Eric. No way am I going to stick around for Niall`s enemies to find me or for the British police to turn me into their informant. And I`m certainly not waiting for Niall to come back.”
Eric nodded. “You`re not well enough to travel coach, but I`ll make a few calls and get you transported to a private jet. Do you want to go home?”
For a minute I thought he meant Oslo because that was what felt like home to me, but then I remembered we were planning on going to my home state.
“No, I don`t want to go to Louisiana in this condition.”
“Then I know just the place.” Eric smiled his wolf smile and I knew he had something planned already.
“Sure. Take me to Neverland, Peter Pan,” I said. “Just watch out for Captain Hook.”
I was certainly ready to leave London and everything that had happened there.
Eric didn`t take me to Neverland but it was a paradise all the same. An ambulance took me to the airport, though I found it entirely embarrassing. Then the private jet flew us to Puerto Rico where we transferred to a seaplane and landed just outside an island Eric claimed had been Norwegian. And Danish.
“It`s one of the darker chapters of the history of Denmark-Norway,” Eric explained. I knew Denmark and Norway had been one country up until 1814 – I think every Norwegian I had met had told me about it. “And later for Denmark,” he continued. “We owned these three tiny islands known back then as the Danish West Indies and they were the backbone of our economy. Slaves transported under gruesome circumstances to these islands and forced to work in sugar plants, sugar being sent to Denmark and Norway and sold and money being made to abduct even more slaves.”
“And here I thought Norway was all peace and understanding?” I teased.
“Sure. The Vikings just popped in for tea and a chat too?” he teased back. “We`re not as innocent as our blue eyes will have you believe.”
“And what are these islands now?” I wasn`t really sure where I was apart from somewhere in the Caribbean.
“They are yours, my dear,” Eric smiled. “Denmark sold them to the USA in 1917 and I believe you refer to them as the US Virgin Islands. We are now on the beautiful island of St. Croix.”
And it really was a beautiful island. In the little town we had landed by, there was an old yellow fortress with red sentry boxes in front of the entrance. They looked exactly like the sentry boxes in front of the royal castle in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Eric noticed where I was looking and handed me a pair of binoculars. “The monogram of the last Danish king to rule here is still on those sentry boxes,” he said.
The seaplane finally stopped and a small boat took us ashore to a tiny island just outside of St. Croix.
“My mother owns the hotel and the island,” he said, pointing at a building. “And she made sure we had a private house to ourselves.”
“That was very sweet of your mother,” I said, not able to hide the surprise in my voice.
“She likes you more than you think, Sookie,” Eric said. “Or at least as much as she can like anyone. My mother is not very good with the whole concept of liking.”
Eric and I had some lazy days in the sun.
I slept a lot, but often woke up bathed in sweat. And I needed the light on every night, which I hadn`t done since I was five years old. When it was dark, I kept feeling as if I was back in the trunk.
Eric gave me quiet comfort, but he really couldn`t help me much. My anxieties were there whether he held me close or left me alone.
So was my sadness. I`d always had a sunny outlook on life and even everything that had happened with Bill and Eric`s mother (well, his whole family, really) hadn`t changed that. But now… now I was feeling sad. Sad, deep in my bones.
“A Mojito for the lovely lady,” Eric said while handing me a drink with green leaves and lime fruits.
I looked at the drink in surprise. I was so used to my gin and tonic, I wasn`t really expecting anything else.
“I figured you needed a new kind of drink now,” Eric said. “Try it.”
It tasted good and I sent Eric a smile to tell him I liked it. He looked almost relieved so I tugged at his shirt.
“Come here,” I whispered and made him lose his balance so that he landed on top of me. I found his mouth and kissed him. “I figured you wanted to taste the drink too.”
I had missed being close to Eric. Sex was, of course, out of the question while I was still bleeding and honestly, sex as in intercourse, was not what I wanted. But I wanted a closeness that was not related to sadness or comfort. I wanted to feel desirable again.
But Eric`s kiss was hesitant, which was not like him at all. I wanted to ask him why, but I didn`t. I pulled back and had another sip of my Mojito.
The drink was good.
I went to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands (and I still want to call them the Danish West Indies *sigh*) this Christmas. If you`ve never been there, I can really recommend it. It`s incredibly beautiful!
The US Virgin Islands are definitely a dark chapter in the Danish-Norwegian history. In Norway they sort of think it was all Denmark`s fault, since they thought of themselves as a colony too, so they don`t learn much about it in school. We do in Denmark, though.
There is no doubt Denmark and Norway had a boost in the economy in the 18th century – all based on the sweat and blood of the slaves in the West Indies. The stories about how the slaves were treated and punished by the Danes and the Norwegians are gruesome.
Denmark-Norway was the first European slave-trading country to abolish slave-trade between Africa and the West-Indies, though. This was in 1803.
In 1848 the slaves on the three islands revolted and demanded their freedom (slave-trade on the West-Indies was still allowed – only the “import” of new slaves was abolished in 1803). The king in Denmark suggested they could have their freedom over the course of 12 years, but they demanded it now. The governor Peter von Scholten didn`t agree with his king and said: Alle de, der på De Danske Vestindiske Øer ikke er frie, kan fra i dag anse sig for at være frie (Everyone, who on the Danish West Indian Islands are not free, can from today consider themselves free).
In 1917 the islands were sold to USA for 25 million dollars.