I promised myself I would update every three days and now it`s been four. I`m sorry. If someone would just send over a skinny dipping Eric, I`m sure I would update much faster (or not…).
Thank you again for all your great reviews and PMs (I`m learning a lot about Australia, for instance)and to all of you for subscribing and making this story your favorite. It`s almost as good as having Eric snuggling in my bed.
Thank you so much to Rascalthemutant at the Alexander Skarsgård Library Forum for having the patience to tell me time and time again that people sit in couches and not on them – in English. I would also like to thankAlexana and Miss Swan for checking up what Debbie looks like in the books. Debbie is not in this chapter, but she`ll turn up. Gah. Last, but not least, I want to give Greenfan a hug. She knows why.
Before I forget: I do not own Eric, Sookie or any of the other characters from SVM. They belong to Charlaine Harris. I just brought them home for a play date.
We walked through town in silence and were back at the house in no time. Suddenly I heard Eric swearing loudly and looking down.
“What`s wrong?” I asked. I looked around to see what might have triggered his anger.
“Paparazzi.” He hissed.
Now that I knew what I was looking for, I saw a man half-covered by bushes, pointing a huge camera in our direction. I had no idea why he was taking our picture, but Eric was pushing me so fast towards the door to his house that I figured this was not the time to ask.
When we were inside, I opened my mouth to ask, but was stopped by Eric.
“I`m so sorry.” He gave me a hug.
“But why would paparazzi take your picture?”
“For some strange reason the gossip magazines consider me interesting.” He shook his head and I didn`t push him on the subject.
We had a light lunch. Apparently Norwegians love their open faced sandwiches with seafood on because Eric gave me the choice of bread with salmon, bread with shrimp, bread with caviar that Eric explained wasn`t caviar at all but was called caviar for some strange Norwegian reason, and bread with four different kinds of herring. I soon realized that I would go hungry here if I preferred food that had never swum.
I opted for the caviar since I`d never had caviar before. So what if it wasn`t the real thing? I could pretend.
It turned out I couldn`t really pretend with the Norwegian caviar, seeing that it came out of a tube. I just stared at Eric who couldn`t stop himself from laughing.
“Only little kids eat caviar here. It`s like….” he was looking for a comparison. “It`s like your peanut butter, I guess.”
“Why do you have caviar in your fridge then?”
“I`m a little kid in a big package. I thought you knew that by now, Sookie?” He was still laughing and I couldn`t help laughing with him. It was unavoidable.
After lunch Eric wanted me to go with him to `Viking Games as` as he felt I should get to know the place I soon would be lying so beautifully about. His words. I rolled my eyes at his prejudice against my profession and immediately made a few comments on the `little kids` games` he was producing.
His office was down by the harbor, next to the new Opera. Eric seemed pleased with the Opera and it was apparently the pride of Oslo. It was all white and the roof was open to the public to walk on, take pictures from or simply sunbathe on.
The offices of `Viking Games` were also white. Very white. Walls, furniture – even the floors were painted white. In all the white, were a lot of black clothed people bent over computers and focusing only on the screen. There was not a woman in sight apart from me, but still none of the men looked up when we entered the room.
“Water, water everywhere nor any drop to drink.” I said.
Eric looked at me, then followed my gaze at all the men occupied by something so important to them that a couple of strippers could have jumped in and taken off their clothes, without anyone noticing.
“Yes, I have a very dedicated staff.” Eric smiled and led me to his office.
“Except for Bill, apparently.” I couldn`t help saying.
“Yes, except for Bill.”
Eric seemed almost sad for a second and I felt like I was standing with a salt shaker over his open wounds. Well, they were my wounds too, I reminded myself.
And when I looked back at Eric he was his old, happy self and made a gesture to a chair. I sat down and figured I would start earning my pay, even if I didn`t have a work permit (or pay) yet.
“Could I please have your design manual and communication strategy, Eric? I also need to see your press clippings.” I thought it over a bit because most of the press clippings would probably be in Norwegian, but I figured I could use Google Translate to look them over. “And what is your `gag line`?”
Eric looked dumbfounded.
“Our `gag line`?”
I couldn`t help my very un-businesslike giggling. Eric certainly didn`t enjoy not knowing everything.
“Yes, your `gag line`. It`s the line you feed the press every time you talk to them. You say it so often it makes you gag. That`s a `gag line`.”
Eric nodded and the little wheels in his brains turned at a devastating speed.
“I can`t say that we have a `gag line`. As for design manual and press clippings, I`ll get them for you.”
“And the communication strategy? That is the compass for any PR-person and I really need it to get started.”
“Ok, then I am looking forward to you giving this company a compass. The only communication strategy we have, is the one you are going to make for us.” Eric looked pleased with himself. “You know, Bill never said anything about how capable you were – or how tough. I like it when you take charge. Too few people have the guts to do that around me.”
I couldn`t help laughing. And that was no cute and feminine laughter.
“Eric, I have only known you for a couple of days and you have already started running my life and how I live it. If you do that to everyone, you are making it pretty hard for people to stand up to you.” I couldn`t believe him. How could he be surprised if everyone around him was knocked out by his… by him being him?
Eric looked taken back.
“Just because I know I`m right doesn`t mean that I don`t want to be proven wrong.”
“Are you serious, Eric?” A new wave of laughter came over me. Eric smiled a little, but obviously still didn`t get why I was laughing.
“Pamela doesn`t seem to have any problems being straight with me.”
“Eric. Pam has had a lifetime of practice being close to you.”
“And you have only had three days.”
I didn`t really know what to say so Eric and I just looked at each other for a while. Then Eric got up.
“Ok, I`ll get you your documents. And we`ll find you an office.”
“Maybe I could just work from out of your apartment until I have an official work permit? I don`t want the company to get in any sort of trouble.”
Eric paused and then gave me a huge smile.
“I like the way you are thinking. To be honest, Sookie, me asking you to work for me was just to sweeten the pill for you so you would say yes to helping me get to Bill. But you`ve been in my office for…” he looked at his watch. “45 minutes and already you are my employee of the month.”
That statement made me blush from both pride and anger. In typical Sookie-manner, anger won me over.
“Well, I`m so glad I could actually be of help now that you went to all that trouble and turned my life upside down, tricked me and play a continuing set of games with me.” The nerve of that man.
Eric just smiled.
“What can I say? I should be sorry for having turned your life around and for tricking you into coming here, but I`m not. And I do not play games with people. Least of all you. And if you didn`t notice, I was paying you a compliment.”
How could he be so calm? I was furious and I felt as if flames would come out of my mouth if I didn`t keep it shut. So I zipped it up. I did try to kill him with my eyes – unsuccessfully, of course. I really needed to work on my assassination-skills.
After getting every brochure and pamphlet Viking Games had ever produced, in addition to the stuff I had asked Eric for, I decided to go home to Eric`s house to start working on bettering the PR for Eric`s company. It seemed Eric had focused on making a great game and his company had done some okay marketing, but PR had been handled poorly. I could definitely make a difference there.
Eric had to stay behind because of some meetings and that was honestly a relief. I didn`t really know what to think of him. I liked Eric a little too much for my own good with all the stunts he had pulled. How could he get into my bed this morning, be so high handed at UDI, take me to skinny dipping and act as if it were all normal?
I started working and felt a relief doing it. The best cure to a mind working overtime was to occupy it on professional thoughts. Soon Eric was pushed very far back in my brain and thinking of a `gag-line` seemed like a task as important as curing world hunger.
After a couple of hours, I heard the door being opened and closed. I sighed a little to myself and couldn`t decide if the sigh was good or bad.
I had expected Eric and was surprised (pleasantly or not – I wasn`t sure) to see Pam instead. She looked at the paperwork in my lap.
“So Eric has you slaving for him already?” She rolled her eyes.
She came over to sit next to me on the couch I had made into my comfortable home-office.
“You know what you need right now?”
Since I wasn`t a telepath, I couldn`t read her mind. And even if I could come up with a lot of things I wanted right now, I wasn`t sure I really needed anything.
“No, tell me what it is I need, Pam.” I smiled at her.
“You need a hot sauna. That`s what you need. The sauna will wash off all of your worries and give you a new outlook on life.”
I wasn`t sure I needed a new outlook on anything, but the whole Nordic sauna-culture had always intrigued me so I wasn`t hard to persuade. In Louisiana there is really not much need for saunas as most of us get more than enough heat from just stepping out the door.
I wasn`t really sure where Norwegians kept their saunas. Public bath-houses? Public swimming pools? Apparently I didn`t know Norway – or Eric – well enough because he of course had his own sauna in the basement.
“Most Norwegians do, you know.” Pam stated. I had my doubts, but who was I to question her about Norwegian interior trends?
Soon we were back in our bedrooms changing for the sauna. Which of course was when I realized I didn`t know anything about sauna-code-of-conduct. Or put in another way: What do you wear to a sauna?
I decided on my bikini and wrapped myself in a towel as well. When I entered the sauna, I saw that I was so utterly overdressed. Pam lay as naked as a new born on one of the benches and when she saw me she laughed so hard I blushed as if I had spent two hours in the sauna already. Actually I must admit that I had started blushing just seeing Pam. What was it with Norwegians and nudity? Or was this just a Northman/Ravenscroft-thing?
“You can`t wear a bikini in the sauna. The nylon will burn your skin.” Pam managed to say between her waves of laughter.
I quickly went outside in the shower area and removed my bikini, but wrapped the towel around me. I was not Norwegian and definitely no Northman/Ravenscroft. When I came into the sauna again, Pam still wasn`t satisfied.
“Sookie, you have to be wet when you go to a sauna and you have to be naked.” She spoke to me like to a three-year-old and I figured I had to do as I was told.
Even if Pam apparently preferred women, it was still easier for me to be naked with her than with her brother. Soon we were both occupying a bench – Pam on top where all the heat was and me on the lowest bench. Call me a coward, but I was not about to have a heart attack in a Norwegian sauna.
Lying there enjoying the heat was actually very relaxing. My body had been tense and now my shoulders were finding their normal position – which was not next to my ears. Of course that didn`t last long.
“So when are you going to yield to Eric?” Pam asked innocently.
I sighed and plain out refused to answer.
“You know he likes you, right?” She kept going.
When I still didn`t answer, she continued. “He isn`t as bad as he seems. He has a good heart.”
Pam luckily knew when to stop flogging a dead horse and we went on to gossiping like two old friends. Like her brother, Pam was easy going and fun to be with. Unlike her brother, she never hit on me. At least not after I made it very clear that I only dated men.
“Well, Eric is a lucky guy then.” She couldn`t resist saying. And I of course had to ask her “why?”, which just made her smile and wink. Silly Pam.
So when is Sookie going to yield to Eric? Soon? Never? Any guesses?
I hope you liked this chapter. I`m off to have some salmon…