“I will carry you into your house, like on the movies,” Erik announced, which was funny, since he had no problem with the idea of carrying me, but never helped with my bags. “Since it is our first time here as husband and wife.”
I shook my head and laughed at him. “If you insist, but–”
And just like that, I was scooped up bridal style, and old Mrs. Fortenberry was tisking us from across the street.
I resisted the urge to shout out that I’d gotten married, and she could fuck off. I knew she wanted me to marry Hoyt when we were kids, but it wasn’t going to happen. Not when I was an awkward, single, almost-elderly-virgin, and certainly not now.
We’d spent one more week in Sweden, and then I’d had the honour of taking Erik on his first flight.
And what a flight it was. He ended up taking some drowsy medication to get through it, because even though he wouldn’t admit it, I knew he was freaked out by flying, which left me with a word slurring, touchy, overly-sentimental mess until he passed out.
Probably leaving his family for a strange new world in America with a woman he hardly knew didn’t help matters either. He hadn’t packed much, but he had brought pictures of everyone, and a few intricate woodworking tools that he’d had a very deep conversation with his grandfather about. I felt bad, awful really, taking him away from them. But we were here now, and after an awkward back and forth trying to fit everything in my car, we were at my house.
My house on paper. I was still a little nervous about things. If anything, his flight freakout made me feel a bit better about that. It was okay to be nervous. This, what we were doing, it was certifiable.
Erik’s eyes darted around, as he took everything in with me still in his arms.
“It’s a nice home,” he said, glaring at my Ikea island in the kitchen. “I see much…potential.”
“I like my things,” I said, mostly just to irritate him. “We’ve only been married a week, and already you want to come in and start changing things?”
He dumped me on the couch. “I will make your things better.”
“What things?” I asked happy to finally slip out of my shoes.
“All things,” he said, waggling his eyebrows. “It’s very nice. And being here with you, it’s nice too. Now, show me your bed. We will not be able to claim newlyweddedness as an excuse for our passion for much longer.”
“Then what will it be?” I said, standing and reaching for his hand to show him my room. Our room. “What will our excuse be then?”
“Happiness, perhaps?” He tugged at my pants. “Maybe we won’t need an excuse.”
I laughed. “Well, I’m not exactly like this without you, so I think we’ll go with happiness.”
“I will make you very happy, Sookie,” he said, in almost a growl as he took in my room. “I will build us a new bed.”
“What’s wrong with my bed?” I pouted, hopping up on it.
“I am very large man, and that…is not a large bed. It’s the height. I need something longer, or I’m all…” he hunched over to demonstrate. “A bed is easy to make. I will buy the supplies tomorrow, and we can order a mattress. I don’t want to share your bed in our married life. I want one that’s ours.”
Even though it wasn’t like my mattress was as broken in as he maybe thought it was, I liked that idea, a lot. I liked that he seemed full of ideas, all of them creative. But little did he know he had no reason to fear sleeping in a bed that another man had ‘had’ me in, since that just didn’t exist before him.
After christening my bed, now our bed – however temporary – we managed to take a shower and actually wash ourselves, before we fell into a moaning heap on the bathroom floor. My poor little house didn’t know what hit it, as hurricane Erik came flying through. I didn’t have food in the house, and he wasn’t letting me out of bed long enough to go get any, so we settled for Erik’s first American pizza, which we ate in bed, and then his second. The man could eat, that’s for sure.
He was still asleep when I left for work the next morning, but I wrote him a little note with my phone number and the store number if he needed anything. I didn’t need to go in for the whole day, but I’d been gone for three weeks, so the party couldn’t last forever. Sooner or later, we were going to have to find our own version of normalcy.
Jessica’s eyes lit up when I walked through the door. “Sookie Stackhouse, where have you been?”
I shrugged with a coy smile. “I was just having such a good time it seemed a shame to come back if I could stay a little longer.”
Jess narrowed her eyes at me, as if she was trying to see into my head. “What kind of good time?”
This was where I was going to have to start telling people that I’d gotten married to a man I’d known for two weeks. I mean, I’d known him longer via the phone and internet, but it was really just two weeks in person. I felt the nerves rise in the pit of my stomach, it was now or never.
“I met someone,” I said, unable to contain my smile any longer. “In Sweden. Erik.” I took a deep breath. “And…”
She blinked at me. “And you had to come home? Aw, Sookie, I’m sorry.”
“And we got married, and he’s sleeping at my house right now,” I spewed out. “We got married a couple of days ago.” I held up my hand. “And he’s going to live here with me. Erik.”
The look on Jessica’s face was something I wish I’d thought to photograph. It was the most shocked I’d ever seen a person.
She was probably a good trial run for Gran, Isabel, and Tara. And Jason.
“You got married.” She blinked some more. “To a man from Sweden.”
I nodded. “Erik. He’s a carpenter, and a fisherman, sometimes. You want to see a picture?”
She nodded, still stunned. I pulled my phone out and flashed a couple; one from my afternoon on the boat, and one from our wedding. She swallowed as she looked at them, zooming in on him.
“Are there more like him there?” she asked, sort of curiously. “Men that look like that and want to get married?”
I shrugged. “He’s really one of a kind, I like to think.” I wanted to be at home in bed with him desperately. So this was what it was like being a newlywed.
“Well, I’m happy for ya,” she said, with a nod. “Listen, we got two more weddings, and one’s a rush…”
The day went by super quickly, and I found myself a little sad that I hadn’t heard from Erik by lunch time, but I figured he was sleeping late, and was probably completely thrown off by the time change. He called around one, just to ask if he could use the bike in the garage, which I had forgotten was there to go check out the neighbourhood. It was Jason’s. Of course, I said yes.
A short while later, I got a flustered call from Gran.
“Sookie, I came over to your house to drop off a casserole and do some cleaning since you just got home, and there’s a man here that says he’s your husband, and he’s chopped down the elm tree. I was going to just call the police–”
“Don’t do that!” I said, gasping. “Gran, I’ll be home in twenty minutes, and I’ll explain everything then.”
“You know him?” she asked somewhat curiously.
“Yeah. I do. Twenty minutes.”
I barked some orders at Jessica and told her I’d try to come back before close, but that there was an emergency at home. I had the feeling she didn’t believe me, but she didn’t question it.
When I got home, Gran was sitting in the living room watching Erik hack away at the elm tree in my backyard. I’d been meaning to hire someone to do that since I moved in. I’d been told when I bought the house that if it got any bigger, the root structure would be a threat to the foundation.
He was chopping without his shirt on. Gran’s expression was nothing, if not appreciative.
“He’s very nice, whoever is he,” Gran said, glancing over at me. “And he did a good job taking that tree down.”
I sat down beside her on the couch, and took a deep breath. “He’s not crazy.”
“I thought maybe there was a language barrier issue,” she turned her head towards me. “A friend of yours? A new friend, from your trip?”
I shook my head. “Well, not exactly. Gran,” I swallowed, “We did…he’s my husband, Erik. We got married last week. He’s…he’s going to live here, with me.”
She raised her eyebrows. “You got married.”
“To a man you met on your trip.”
“Well, kind of. We’d talked, before. On the phone, and on the computer.”
He looked a bit like a Norse god, wielding that axe.
“He’s a very handsome man,” she noted. “But Sookie…”
“He’s more than just a handsome man. He’s…he’s very special.” I pulled my legs up. “I dunno, Gran. After a few days, I just sort of knew, and then I didn’t want to lose him, and…it just…it just felt like the right thing to do. It was what I wanted. It’s what I want.” I reaffirmed.
That was it. Plain and simple. He was what I wanted. I found myself a little insulted by Gran’s insinuation.
Gran sighed. “Well, life is short. I hope you were thinking with your head on this one though, Sookie, because I can see how some other parts of him might be appealing.”
“Now would you be having this conversation with Jason?” I raised my eyebrows at her, frustrated with her assumption.
“I would be, yes,” she said, raising hers back. “I guess I’ll just have to get to get know him a bit better.”
We both watched, heads cocked and mesmerized as he continued wailing on my tree.
“He’s a carpenter. A really good carpenter,” I mumbled. “He wants to build us a bed.”
“That’s very sweet, and traditional.”
“My bed is too short for him.”
“So he’s just going to live here? What’s he going to do? I have some work for him–”
“You’ll have to ask. He’d probably help you with some things.”
“Okay,” Gran said with a nod. “I don’t suppose he has a single grandfather?”
I shook my head. “His grandmother is still alive and kicking.”
“Too bad. I made you a chicken casserole. It’s ready for you to heat up.” She turned to face me with a smile, one that faded slightly as she spoke. “Why didn’t you call me?”
“I was afraid you’d try and talk me out of it, and maybe succeed.”
“Oh, dear,” she said, shaking her head. “You know, I probably would have.”
Erik came in at that point, wiping the sweat from his forehead with his t-shirt. “The tree, it would destroy your house.”
“I was supposed to pay someone to do that,” I said, my mouth twitching into a grin. “Thanks. And you met Gran?” I smiled at the two of them. “I thought I’d have the chance to tell her before–”
Erik smiled brightly. “Yes, we have met. I hope you will trust now that I’m not crazy.”
Gran glanced at me. “I do trust that you’re not crazy.
That didn’t say much for me.
Sookie’s grandmother wasn’t sure about me. Wasn’t sure I was a good person who was with her granddaughter for the right reasons.
I would have much time to prove to her that I was.
I watched with a frown as she drove away. I wasn’t used to being unliked.
“Erik, I have to go back to work for a couple of hours too,” Sookie said, also frowning. “We have a couple of weddings to do the arrangements for. I’ll be back for dinner?”
“I will be here waiting.” I said with a grin, as I pulled her in for a kiss. “Or I can come to your shop with you?”
She looked up thoughtfully. “I…yeah, sure. Yeah, you should see the shop.” She nodded at my shirt in my hand. “Maybe you can put a–”
“Oh. Of course,” I replied, leaving my t-shirt on the counter as I went to find another in the drawer Sookie had cleared out for me in her dresser.
I would build her a new dresser too. To match the bed.
Her shop was not so far from her home; maybe only ten minutes. She listened to classic rock on her radio, and drove very well. These were all important things. I did not like American country music, and I didn’t want to worry about her when she was in her tiny car.
“You have dog?” I asked, remembering that I’d meant to when I’d called. I found a dish, and a leash when I was looking for the axe.
“Yes, Sam. He’s a small dog, but he’s very friendly and loveable. You’ll love him.”
I had seen photos also, of this ‘Sam’. He was a small dog, a very small dog. Not so good for hunting or watching, but I assumed very good at yapping.
Her shop was very nice. Very small, but clean, and exactly what I imagined. As much as a store could look like someone, it looked like her.
“Jessica, I’m back,” she called, giving me a little smile. “Come meet Erik.”
A red-haired woman, younger than us came out with wide eyes. “You’re…you’re very tall,” she stammered. “Hi.” She stuck out her hand for me to shake, and I did so with what I hoped was a friendly smile.
“Jess works for me, making flower arrangements.” Sookie grinned, in a way that seemed like she was proud to be here with me. It made my heart grow. “Let me show you the rest.”
I walked through a bunch of rooms with lots of supplies, a cooler for the flowers, and into her little office, which had pretty wallpaper with yellow flowers. If Sookie was a wallpaper, she’d have yellow flowers.
“I like this place. It feels like I’m inside of you.” I shook my head. “In a different way than I am sometimes.”
She sat down in her chair, and snort giggled for a few minutes. “I don’t ever want your English to get better,” she said, breathlessly. “I like it the way it is.”
“Maybe you can learn Swedish, so you can say things that aren’t exactly right, and then I can snort at you.” I sat on the corner of her desk. “So you make flowers, and you do things on the computer, and you tell the girl, Jessica what to do all day?”
“I make flower arrangements. I leave the flower making up to God, I suppose. And some farmers in South America. Most of my flowers come from there.”
“Your flowers at our wedding were very beautiful. And you are busy, so you are good at this.” I nodded at the wall, which had many pictures of flowers on it. “It’s a good life you have here.”
She smiled. “It is. I hope you’ll like it here.”
“I already like it here. Is there anything I can do to help, while you do your work?”
I wasn’t good at sitting around. I was hoping I would be able to find ways to occupy my days. There was only one oak tree to chop down, after all.
She tapped her pen and thought about it. “Can you go through the flower case and pick out anything that looks a little past its prime? I can’t sell them, so I usually bring them home with me.”
I nodded. “I can do that.”
I spent the next hour examining flowers, petal by petal, and decided that I was going to need to find another way to occupy my time if I was going to live in Shreveport. I could build her some things, but eventually I’d run out of things to make her.
I could make things for other people, but I wasn’t allowed to work or earn money in America yet, and I didn’t know how long it would take for all the paperwork to say I could. I would make her house better first, and then I would see what I could do next. I still needed to book a ticket home to settle some things as well, but that could wait a little while. I would call in a couple of days and see how everyone was without me.
I knew they would be fine.
“Ready to go?” Sookie said when she popped in a few minutes later, wearing glasses. Sexy librarian glasses. I liked them. Very much.
“You wear glasses?” I handed her some lilies. “I did not know.”
“I guess there’s a lot you don’t know about a person when you marry them after three weeks,” she said playfully, batting her eyelashes. “I only wear them when I’m doing number stuff.”
“You should wear them sometime…” I grinned at her. “It would be a fun game.”
I enjoyed making her blush very much.
We stopped at the market on the way home, to pick up the things we would need for dinner. It was a small store, much like something I would find in my village. I still had not experienced Wal-Mart.
“Damn it, I forgot the wine.” Sookie said as we pulled up to the house.
“I can start dinner, if you want to go pick it up.”
“You don’t mind?” She seemed surprised.
“No. Not at all. I am hungry, and like to cook, and we liked wine with this meal, yes?”
She nodded with a shy smile.
“This is true. I guess I’m just not used to guys…” She shook her head. “You know what? Never mind. That sounds good. I might get us something for dessert afterward too. Anything you’d prefer?”
With that I looked her straight in the eye.
She blushed, and it was glorious. I loved the flush of her cheeks in moments like this. It reminded me of the moments of when I was inside her and she would lose control of her body and let me have her as I’d like.
“You’re incorrigible.” She giggled.
“I am.” I kissed her, quickly before I got out of the car, and grabbed the small bags in the backseat.
“Okay, see you in a bit!”
With that she took off in her yellow car, and I went inside and had a quick shower before I started cooking.
We were going to eat Adele’s chicken casserole, so all we really had to do was cook the tiny potatoes and the vegetables we picked up at the market. There was ice-cream in the freezer, but Sookie insisted on some other things too. Fruit, juices, eggs… regular things we had sort of forgotten about while we were indulging ourselves in our newlywed status. I had just finished washing the potatoes, and putting them in the oven, and I had just hit the switch to boil the veg when a blood curdling scream came from the living room.
There stood a small black girl, in a vibrant purple dress, with a dog that looked like yapper Sam, under her arm.
“Who the fuck are you?! What the fuck are you doing in Sookie’s house?! Sookie? Sook, you here?”
Her voice was unpleasant and loud. Very loud.
“Hello. I am Erik.”
Her eyes widened. I forgot I was in my towel. I felt all stinking from my tree chopping before we left for her store and so I showered quickly when I came back, I didn’t bother to change because I wasn’t aware we’d have visitors.
“Sookie? Have you broken in? Why are you in here…in a towel? You better start fuckin’ talkin!”
“I am Erik!”
“And just who the fuck are you, Erik? And why are you in Sookie’s house? Cooking naked.”
I was not all naked, there was a towel after all.
The yappy dog looked at me, curiously too.
“I am with Sook-”
“Stay where you are!” She yelled, as she backed away as I tried to come closer to her. “In fact put your hands in the air where I can see them.”
Was she a police officer now too?
I lifted my hands, of course letting go of my towel, and it felt to the floor in a swoosh.
Her eyes widened again.
Then she closed them.
“Okay, no. Pick up the towel… hurry up.”
With that she pulled out her cellphone. I assumed to call Sookie. I was proven right when she yelled down the phone to her.
“Yes, and there is a man! Naked. Cooking, naked, in your kitchen. Where are you? Are you okay? I thought he had done something to you!!”
I liked that her people were so concerned for her, and so protective of her, but this was really getting ridiculous. Was a man in her house, really that rare of an occurrence?
With that she got off the phone, still looking at me with fear mixed with curiosity.
We were at a stand-off. I wasn’t allowed to move, and she wasn’t moving either. Sam was still in her arms. Minutes later, though it seemed like forever, Sookie came through the door.
“Tara. Tara, this is Erik. As I tried to tell you on the phone, he’s living here now, with me.”
Her friend’s head snapped to look at her.
“Girl, are you crazy? You can’t just move in some random ass man with an accent and a hot body, and let him cook naked in your kitchen. What the fuck?!”
“Okay, he’s not just living here.” She said, putting down the bottles of wine. “Erik is my husband.”
With that her friend’s mouth fell open, and the small yappy dog was let down onto the floor. He instantly ran to Sookie, his little tail wagging a million times a second. He was so excited to see her. And judging by Sookie’s reaction, she was just as excited. Her friend was still in a state of shock as Sookie fawned over her pup.
“Sammy. Aw Sam. Look at you. You’re so cute! And you’ve grown! Tara took such good care of you didn’t she! Yes she did!” Sookie cooed.
She put him down, and he slowly walked over to me, looking very suspicious. He sniffed and sniffed at me, backing away and coming back to sniff again. I lifted him up softly.
“He is very small. Like a cat,” I muttered.
I put him back down and he ran back to Sookie.
“Honey, could you give Tara and I a minute?” She asked me, sweet smile in place as she picked Sam up before looking at Tara.
“Sure. Of course.” I said, clutching my towel in case it decided to fall again. In passing Tara I couldn’t help but remark, “See. I am her Honey. Not crazy naked burglar.” With that I stomped around them, and into the back of the house where Sookie’s room, now our room, was. To let her talk with this crazy Tara.
I had just pulled on my jeans, when Sam came tottering around the corner, the same curious look on his face. He walked right up to me and started yapping.
See, I knew he was a yapper.