Shock of all shocks. This story was not abandoned. As a matter of fact I`ve finished it and will hopefully be posting regularly from now on.
I`m so amazed with all the reviews and PMs I`ve had from you while this story was hibernating. The story hit 2000 reviews – my second story to do so. I`m so very proud and grateful!
But I`m also a bit nervous. I`m trying to follow the books and I know some of you are annoyed with Eric`s behavior in the last book(s). Well, you`ll probably be annoyed here as well. I must admit that I like how Charlaine Harris writes Eric. He is not the perfect romance hero but a man with flaws. That makes him so much more interesting.
I want to thank Suki59 for betaing this story on top of the betaing she`s doing on Dust Bunnies and Christmas Presents. I`m so glad you`re doing this, Suki!
I own nothing. Charlaine Harris wrote this wonderful tales with vampires and telepaths. I only took them home with me and made them human.
A call from Niall`s phone number came when I entered the house. It was almost as if he knew just the moment I walked in my door because that was the moment my phone started ringing.
“Hello?” I said while pulling off my boots and trying to get my coat off.
“Hello,” a man said in a British accent. I stopped my undressing as British accents had been bad news lately. “My name is Claude Crane.”
That made me stop. Claudine`s last name had been Crane.
“You`re …,” I began but couldn`t find a way to ask if he was related to my former bodyguard – the woman who had been forced upon me but whom I`d come to like and now she was dead and the father of her child had been shot in the living room in which I was standing.
“Yes, I`m Claudine`s brother,” he said. His voice wasn`t very emotional but I could detect an undercurrent that spoke of grief.
“I`m so sorry for your loss,” I began.
“Sure,” he said in a tone that told me that he didn`t want to talk about his sister. “I called you on behalf of your grandfather.”
“My grandfather died many years ago,” I said automatically.
“You know that`s not true.”
I wanted to tell him that Niall Brigant was not my grandfather no matter what he claimed but this man was a stranger to me. So I just waited for what he had to say.
“Your grandfather wants to know if you are well,” the man continued.
“A man was shot in my living room,” I said.
“Yes, and Mr. Brigant is very sorry.”
“Did he want anything else? I asked.
The man on the other end of the line was silent for a moment. “No, I think that was all he wanted.”
“So he will leave me alone now?”
“You`ll have to ask him. I was supposed to check up on you and that`s what I`ve done.”
And without another word he hung up on me.
I remembered Claudine as a very sweet person – especially considering her job. She must have used up all the nice-genes in the Crane family because Claude had been anything but nice and sweet. I just hoped he wasn`t planning on coming to Norway carrying a gun.
I had just put on the coffeemaker when the doorbell rang.
Pam was outside, but not sporting her usual smirk. Even her hair had lost its bounce.
“What happened?” I asked. Was something wrong with Eric? I had called Pam on my way home and she`d told me she was visiting him.
Pam looked surprised. “What do you mean?”
“You looked ….” I stopped. How do you tell people they look terrible and that`s why you think something is wrong? “I just thought … ”
Pam shrugged. “Well, it`s all a mess, isn`t it?” she said without elaborating.
“How was Eric?” I asked.
“Eric is Eric.” She took off her coat and boots and put them in the closet.
“Can I get you some coffee?” I walked her into the living room.
“That would be great.” Pam blew on her hands to get them warm again.
“Just sit down and I`ll get you a cup. It should be finished any minute now.”
“Can I put on a fire in the fireplace?” she asked.
“That would be great, Pam,” I said on my way to the kitchen.
When I came back with mugs and the coffee, Pam was on her knees in front of the fireplace and the fire was burning nice bright flames. She got up when she heard me and went to sit on the couch next to me.
I poured her a cup of coffee and handed it to her and then I poured one for myself. I sat back and looked at her. I could see that she had something on her mind so instead of starting some polite conversation, I waited for her to say what she`d come to say.
Finally she looked up and met my eyes.
“We`re friends, right, Sookie?”
I nodded. “Yes, we are.”
“We would be friends even if you weren`t married to my brother, wouldn`t we?”
“I`m not sure we would have met if it hadn`t been for your brother,” I said.
“No,” Pam said. “But now that we`ve met. We would stay friends, wouldn`t we?”
“Pam. What has happened?”
Pam shook her head and then looked at me, waiting for me to answer her question.
“Yes, we would be friends, Pam. I like you.”
That made Pam smile and I could see her relax her shoulders a little. “I like you too. I`m not really used to having friends, you know,” she said. “Most of the women in my social circles are not very … friendly.”
I laughed. Not because it was funny but I couldn`t help myself. “I like you, Pam,” I said. “We`re friends.”
Pam gave me a ghost of a smile and then she was quiet for awhile.
“Imagine that I was jealous of Eric`s going to Appius,” she said.
I nodded. “You couldn`t know.”
“But why didn`t he tell me?” Pam wasn`t really asking me.
“You were just a kid, Pam.”
“He could have told me later on.”
“Pam,” I began, not really sure what words to use. I wanted to tell her to put her own hurt feelings aside when she interrupted me.
“And now he confides in me and I really don`t want to know.”
“He`s told you about his visits to Appius?” I asked. How could Pam be almost offended he hadn`t told her and now she rejects him when he does?
Pam looked up. “What? No, not … ” She shook her head. ” I need to get home. Thanks for the coffee.”
She got up, put on her boots and jacket and left. And I wondered what she had come for.
Eric had been at the hospital for well over a week – a week where I had had to deal with reporters in a frenzy (a man being shot in the apartment of a celebrity and hints of both child abuse AND mafia involvement was apparently the wet dream of several of the proud members of the Norwegian press corps and they all wanted “the exclusive”), Niall Brigant who didn`t realize that he`d done more than enough, thank you very much, and trying to make the police realize that they should focus more on Eric`s godfather than my very sick husband.
Alexei had been shipped back to his mother but before that he`d given testimony that made Eric out as a victim more than a victimizer. Still, the Norwegian police were not entirely convinced a grown man like Eric could accept a child abductor – and the child – into his home without being in on the crime and they kept interrogating me since Eric was incapacitated.
Several times during the police interviews I asked myself the same questions the police asked me. Why hadn`t I done something? Why hadn`t I stopped Eric`s godfather? Why hadn`t I gone to the police? But the most serious question I asked myself was whether the morals I had grown up with were slipping.
I had been taught Christian values and had been to church almost every Sunday when I was a kid. And now? I hadn`t been to church even once since I`d come to Norway. Not that going to church necessarily would have made me a better person but it felt as if I were losing myself even more than I was losing the god I believed in.
I’d changed in order to survive, and I was paying the price of survival.I had to be willing to change myself forever, or everything I’d mademyself do was for nothing.
I`d been to Norway three quarters of a year but it felt like a lifetime with everything that had happened. I`d run from one catastrophe to another and the only sure thing in my life had been the fact that I loved Eric.
I loved him, but he certainly hadn`t made my life easy.
It wasn`t just Alexei and Appius the police questioned me about. The Norwegian police had a dead man on their hands and I knew exactly when Tom Lattesta and Sara Weiss had told them about Niall because that was when they`d had another detective present. A detective from the organized crime unit.
Apart from spending most of my time at the police station I also visited Eric every day and tried to make up for his being away at the office. The days were getting longer and the snow was melting but I never saw the sun. I got up early in the mornings and wasn`t home until late in the evenings.
One week after the events in Eric`s apartment I was finally allowed to clean it enough for me to move back from Pam`s apartment and I was exhausted when I went to bed. Mentally as well as physically.
This was why when the phone rang, I dreamt of alarm clocks, burglar alarms and other things making ringing noises. Finally I woke up and picked up my cell phone from the night stand.
“Hello,” I said while yawning.
“Sookie?” a familiar voice said.
“Bill?” I was suddenly wide awake.
“Did I wake you?” he asked.
I checked my watch. “It`s 2 a.m. here. Of course, you woke me.”
“I have important news for you, Sookie,” he said and I noticed how he never said he was sorry for waking me up.
He was quiet for a moment, apparently waiting for me to talk but when I didn`t say anything he continued.
“It`s Viking Games. Someone is trying to run Eric out of business.”
“I`m listening,” I said and I was. We had been experiencing a decline in sales the last month but I had assumed it was a normal decline a few months after the hype of a new game. And Eric and I had been too busy to really pay attention.
“Someone wants Viking Games gone,” he continued.
“All our competitors want Viking Games to disappear,” I objected.
“Yes, but this is personal. They`re making offers to every decent game programmer in the world and now they`ve come to me.” Bill paused. “Have you lost employees lately?”
“No more than usual,” I said but it wasn`t entirely true. We`d had a few of our best people quit on us lately.
“Well, they came to me and wanted me to work for them and they were very interested in any inside knowledge I might have about Viking Games.”
“I know what the company is called, Sookie, but not who`s behind it. Does Eric have any enemies?”
I laughed. I was tired and someone had been killed in the next room just a week ago. Eric and I had enemies – no doubt about it. But who would want to bring down Viking Games?
“What was the name of that company?” I asked.
“Vampire Games,” Bill said. “They are making a game that has all the cool details of Eric`s game but this is going to be even bloodier, even deadlier.”
“But it won`t be out on the market until ….”
Bill interrupted me. “That`s just the thing. There are huge bonuses if the game is up and running before summer and even bigger bonuses if Viking Games is bankrupt before Christmas.”
“Oh,” was all I could say. I was in PR. I didn`t know the first thing about programming a game. “Is it even possible to make a game that quickly?” I asked.
“If you have all the money in the world and don`t mind copying another game – Eric`s game – anything`s possible.” Bill`s voice was louder now. “I`ll come over.”
“I`m coming over to help you.”
“What? Why?” I asked. “And how do we know we can trust you?”
“A year ago you would have trusted me, Sookie,” Bill said.
“Yes, and we both know what happened.”
The line was quiet for a moment.
“I miss you, Sookie.”
“You want to come over because you miss me?” I couldn`t believe what I was hearing.
“I want to come over for a lot of reasons but I also miss you.”
“Evig eies kun det tapte, Bill,” I said.
“What does that mean?”
“You`ve lived here, Bill. You should know your Henrik Ibsen quotes.” I thought for a moment. “It`s hard to translate directly but it means something like `You only own forever the things you`ve lost.`”
“I don`t get it,” Bill said after awhile.
“I suppose it has several meanings. That you only appreciate things when you lose them, for instance,” I explained.
“So I`ve lost you entirely.” It wasn`t a question. It was a statement.
“I`m married to someone else. I don`t see how you could have lost me any more.”
“And you love him?”
“Bill!” I said in a tone full of warning.
“Sorry,” he said. “But I still want to help you. And maybe you aren`t lost entirely. Maybe we can be friends?”
I thought for a moment. Eric should be making this decision since it was his company but he was not capable of forming any decisions apart from what kind of cereal he wanted for breakfast and after today`s visit I doubted he even decided that on his own.
I sighed. “Come on over, Bill. If you can help us out, I will be very grateful. But don`t disappoint me now.”
“I won`t,” Bill said. “And Sookie … I`m sorry.”
I knew what he was sorry for but I didn`t want to discuss it. Not now. And not ever.
I hope you liked this chapter.