When my grandparents and my mother arrived it was a flurry of activity in the house for hours. Everyone arrived then to greet them, and Sookie was in a state because she hadn’t been notified and thus had nothing ready. No matter how often we told her not to worry, the hostess with the most-ess really wasn’t okay with being unprepared. So much so that Gran offer my grandparents a room at her place, as well as offering one to my mother. Sookie wasn’t having that though, I knew by her face she felt a slight shame at not being guest ready, but it was silly in my mind since I knew my people didn’t care where they slept or stayed as long as we got to spend some time together. I tried to warm her also about my mother’s ways, without having to spell it out like I knew I would have to. But, there was a reason why I moved in with my grandparents, and it wasn’t just because of my strained relationship with my parents. No, my mother was very much one of nature’s children, and in the sense that she liked to be … well… free.
Sookie assumed I merely meant she walked around shoeless.
What I really meant was she slept naked. And she sleep walked.
The look on her face that first night is something I would never forget.
“Erik!” she whispered to me coming back into our room from the bathroom, her eyes wide and her mouth agape.
“Your mother is wandering around the living room…”
“She does that I explained.” I said not looking up from my book, knowing what was to come next from her mouth. I couldn’t hide my smirk.
“Erik! She’s naked!!” Sookie said again with a harsh whisper, this time hopping into bed beside me.
“Ah, that. Well I did attempt to say before; this is her ways also… I don’t like it, but we can’t help her it’s her way.”
“Really?” she glared. “You couldn’t have said, hey, Sooks, my mother likes to sleep walk naked?!”
“I did try. You assumed much more innocent things and I could not get a word in edge sideways tonight so… leave her be she will eventually go back to bed.”
Sookie was horrified, so much so she went back out and grabbed Sam, breaking her rule of having him in our room. Justifying her move with a huff.
“No one should be subjected to this, not even Sam. Poor baby.” She said smushing him, making me smile. “But really, Erik a little warning would have been nice.”
I just laughed, I laughed because really what else were we going to do with her, I certainly wasn’t going out there. And I knew Sookie wasn’t either, at least not until the morning.
“It has been nice though, right? I mean, everyone here tonight it was just so lovely I wasn’t expecting it at all – clearly. Did you have any idea?”
I didn’t, none at all.
“No, they really kept this to themselves, and given how much they know I do not like the surprise, it was, well, surprising. But I am glad that my grandfather has had some success in letting the business, and renting their house. I just can’t believe they’re travelling. It is most unlike them.”
“Maybe they decided to take a leaf out of their grandson’s book and go against the grain, it worked well for us, don’t you think?” She said with a smile, as I put my book down then and cuddled into bed with her. Sam casting a judgmental look from the foot of the bed.
“It really did work well for us; even I am surprised sometimes by how well.”
She faked a shocked look before smiling.
“You mean you’re as surprised as I am that you or I aren’t really serial killers with daddy issues and weird things in our basement?”
I laughed then, yes, it was the luck of the dice with Sookie and I and thankfully we seemed to be, well, very normal all things considered.
“I have seen some of the people on Pam’s little list; it would have been very different without you.”
She laughed then, “yeah no kidding…” she sighed happily before moving over to ‘her’ side. My wife liked her cuddles but we both knew to get any real sleep we needed our space. I liked that she wasn’t so clingy, it was a relief. What wasn’t a relief was her insistence of ‘no sex with your mother here’. As she’d be there for over a week, maybe two if she decided to change her plans. Which, knowing my mother, with my father at sea, she very well just might.
But I agreed, with heavy heart, I agreed to make her comfortable.
It was to be a long two weeks.
“And then he just run around the garden with ‘is little Willy just hanging out and we tried to catch him but it was just no good, so we just let him go.” Erik’s mother had regaled us all with stories that afternoon, and the one before it and the one after it too. She was full of life now, and most unlike the strange off-putting woman I had first met in Sweden. I wasn’t sure what had changed in her, but something had and for that I was glad. She had a glow to her skin, not just from her Louisiana summer, but with a life, and a smile that mimicked her son’s. Everyone laughed of course, including Erik, in fact, especially Erik. It was nice to see, and from the looks of things it wasn’t something that happened a lot with his mother, and for a second that made my heart heavy, but when I realised it was changing, slowly, and now, well, it made me smile. Maybe things wouldn’t be awkward forever.
“So that’s where it comes from then? Lifelong fascination with running around naked,” I said nudging him in the ribs as we sat around gran’s table for our fourth time in a week. My grandmother and Erik’s were deep in discussion about food and wine, and his grandfather and Jason had hit it off wonderfully. Suddenly fifty years of Christmases and birthdays and occasions flashed before my eyes, and the funny thing was, it was a good feeling.
A great feeling actually and one in that moment made me realise that this was it, this was my family now, and I shouldn’t be scared to add to it. I had added to it with Erik and expanded my family almost overnight. Adding our children to this, maybe it wasn’t such a scary thing after all!
With everyone more or less distracted I sent Erik a text under the table and made myself scarce.
No one would be in the old boathouse by the docks at this time of day, and I was sure that he and I had, after a week and a half of no nookie, earned a little alone time.
I took the truck, not needing it for the five minute walk but needing it for the excuse it gave me and Erik to both be gone without them knowing the obvious reason why. I waited for him in the boathouse, just watching the lake behind through the window. Everything was so still but ever changing, you look at it and you look and seemingly nothing changes – when suddenly you blink and everything, every little detail is now somehow different.
It’s how I felt about my life now. Before, every day was exactly the same – routine love it or loathe it was part of who I was, alone. Always alone.
But now, taking little chances and even massive risks like Erik somehow allowed my seemingly similar life to flip upside down and around on a ride I wasn’t sure of at first. Now though, now I knew. I could handle this. Hell, I was enjoying it. The fear of the unknown a thing of the past now, I trusted him, and more importantly I trusted myself.
I grinned wide when I saw him open the creaky door, “There you are.” He sighed happily striding up to me in only a few wide steps, his hands instantly around my waist, my legs instantly open and wrapped around his waist. A kiss so deep I was sure my head was spinning.
When we broke apart he was still smiling, this time with that glint in his eye that told me everything I needed to know about what was going on in his head. I grabbed him by the shoulders into another kiss before he expertly slid his hands under my dress and lowered my underwear, my ass hitting the cool wood of the work desk I currently sat on.
“Clearly I don’t need to tell you why we’re here?” I said laughing as he kissed and teased my neck, sending shivers through me for a far better reason than the cold wood.
He just nodded.
“It’s been a long time for us now, and I knew you were feeling the …strain of things as I was. I missed touching you, and I know you can’t be silent so… there was no touching.”
“You should take it as a compliment you know, my lack of silence…” I said making short work of his belt and his jeans as the metal of the strap hit the concrete with a loud clanking noise, his jeans merely pooled around his ankles.
“Oh I do.” He said as cocky as I’d ever seen him, complete with quirked brow and sly smile. I did what I could to kiss that look off his face, but as his fingers slipped inside me and I moaned into his mouth I knew I had only served to make it worse.
“Much too long,” he whispered seductively, making me shiver from my spine downward. He took a step back, admiring me for a second before he yanked his jacket off quickly, followed by his t-shirt as I started working on his belt and jeans. He saw me watching him, something I knew he got off on, so he took my hands away, preferring to undo his jeans himself – painfully slowly might I add.
Damn he was good.
“Erik…” I panted as he pushed and rubbed and all but threw me over the edge of a much needed orgasm, quietly kissing my neck, my jaw, my lips, one hand busy, the other palming my breasts in a way that never seemed to hurt me – a skill other men needed to know was appreciated.
He muttered something I didn’t understand, before nibbling lightly on my earlobe before dragging his lips down my neck, clearly relishing in the way I writhed against him.
He twitches in my hand, as I brush my thumb across his slit, not at all revelling in the soft, helpless noise that escapes him, deep in his throat. It sounds incredibly loud in the eerie silence of the shed.
When I slide onto him, easier now but still with some resistance no matter how turned on she was, a push and there it was, the irreplaceable feeling of fulfillment.
Intimate, real and amazing.
Slowly we both start to move, his lips peppering kisses on my neck, my fingers grasping on to his shoulders to keep me upright, as slowly but surely the languid intense pace becomes more and more rapid.
I moved with him, trying not to rush, to make it last, but at the same time needing it to stop building and just rid us both of the tension. I knew he was watching me, he did that, it was his thing from time to time, and at first it bothered me, because ‘why would anyone want to see this…’ but soon I got past that fear, and falling in love with the utter intoxicating feeling I felt when I knew his eyes were on me, watching our bodies move in sync. His teeth nip on my lips, supressing a moan, I don’t even bother to try and supress mine as we both urge the other on, faster and harder before my legs clamp around him and he pushed all his weight against me as we reach our point of no return. Tingling, breathless, and a little dizzy, I cursed myself for going even a week without this feeling.
“We need to never leave it so long again… too long.” He moaned as we both begrudgingly put ourselves to rights. I just laughed, because really, he wasn’t wrong.
“I know, but they are leaving soon so it won’t be so long next time.” I smiled as did he.
“I am glad but also not so glad. I will miss them. I’m happy they had such a good time here.” He nodded, before reaching over to smooth my hair with a grin.
“Were you worried?”
He nodded, buttoning up his jeans.
“ A little… my mother can be sometimes… too much.”
“I like your mother, I mean predilection for nudity aside.” I smirked. “She’s warmed to me though, at least it feels like she has.”
“Oh she has, she no longer refers to you as ‘tiny American who stole her son’ so it’s all very nice.”
I just shook my head. Of course that’s who I was at first.
“And now?” I said, fixing us both up one last time before we walked out hand in hand to our vehicles.
He sighed happily leaning down, giving my hand a squeeze and kissing me sweetly before speaking again.
“Now, I think you know she loves you as I do. Is nice you know? It feels like there is a peace that wasn’t there before. Like the crazy waves have passed for now, that there is a stillness but one that is nice…calm but not before the storm. More like… after a storm that needed to happen to have the calmness. I like it.” He looked like a content man, and I knew it had only some to do with the quickie we had away from the family, he was happy, we were happy.
I refused to fear it, the happiness. I had spent long enough second guessing every emotion, not just alone but with Erik too. We were where we were meant to be. And I’d be damned if I was going to ruin that with silly doubts.
Instead, I did something foreign to me, something my other half taught me unwittingly.
I let go and went where the current was going to take me. Wherever that was, I was going willingly.
“If you could submit your course work by Thursday I would appreciate it, if not, well I won’t appreciate it and you’ll be marked as such.” I said with a laugh, shaking my head – they knew I didn’t meant it, not really.
With that the bell shrilled throughout the halls alerting them of freedom.
“Okay, so Thursday, yes?”
A few of them answered me back with a ‘yes’, others just grunted. As expected. Straightening up my work station, I faced the door to see her standing there, just watching.
Yes, Northman. Apparently my surname was a bit of a twister for most ‘folks around here’ and so, for teaching I switched to the English version of my Nordic name. I liked it.
I smiled at her standing there, looking like the embodiment of summer, a glowing light almost coming from within. I wondered and not for the first time, how I managed to get so lucky.
“Sookie, you been waiting long?” I said striding over to greet her with a quick kiss, conscious of the fact there were a few lingering female students still in the room.
“Not long, I was wondering if you’d be free for lunch, Sir?” she asked with a grin and I just laughed. For some reason this ongoing joke was still lamely funny to us. But then again we were lame and funny, so it shouldn’t have surprised either of us.
“For you, always. I don’t have a class until three now, all my paperwork is done, I say yes please. Your treat right?”
She just rolled her eyes.
“I’m asking aren’t I?” she just walked to my desk, grabbed my jacket for me, before all but yanking me out the door. We got looks, of course we did, just about everyone knew her now, and I was slowly getting used to the stares too.
Turns out in my two years teaching part time, the school saw the average wood shop class expand by twenty percent, majority of those with a sudden interest in the subject since my arrival were female. A statistic that amused Sookie to no end. I personally wanted to view it as expanding the minds of American teenage girls, Sookie quipped that it wasn’t their minds they wanted me to expand. I chose to ignore the fact that … well… she was probably right. And did my best to teach them what I had been hired to teach.
Sometimes it worked, and sometimes like my third month in the girl got distracted and ended up sawing off the tip of her pinky. It was a bad day for everyone that day.
But hey, one accident in over two years, I figured I wasn’t doing so badly.
A short drive, and a stroll later and we were seated at our favourite day time eatery; lunch ordered and drinks in hand. I was glad of the change of scenery.
“Busy today?” she asked and I nodded before going over a small list of the most promising students of the semester again, one kid was unreal and had such an eye for detail that it made me excited for him.
“So-so, we have a few wedding orders up this week and next so it’ll keep things busy in the later part of the week, which means …”
“You can’t do Pam’s party?”
“I wish I could but I figure by the time we drive there, set up and drive back there’s just no way. But you can go right?”
It was my turn then to groan. Alone, with Pam and Pam’s friends with Sookie as my shield. I didn’t have to lie; it was going to be hell.
“Jason will go with you, you never know, she might fix him up.”
Jason, who still after all this time just couldn’t settle on one woman or even one woman at a time.
“I’m sure that would be swimmingly.”
“I’ll try my best, but no promises. I should call her later to let her know. So it’s not rude if neither of us show.”
My Sookie, always with the manners.
“We’d never want to be rude to Pam you know how to heart she would take it.”
Also known as how many fucks Pam just would not give.
As our food arrived our conversation drifted in and out of several topics comfortably. We talked shop; literally, since the expansion to her ‘little’ shop to house mine, our chats often drifted from one topic to the other as they were one in the same these days.
“Your grandfather wants to know if you’re free to go fishing with himself and Jas this weekend too, he was thinking Sunday, but your grandmother insists on dinner at their place so, there may be a conversation needed there.” Sookie said with a point of her fork.
They had moved to the states about a year after their first visit, insisting that the warm weather and newly expanded family was just the tonic their ‘poor old hearts needed to keep ticking’, after making Sookie cry with such displays of old people manipulation, she couldn’t help but want them around for the long haul. My parents stayed on in Sweden, but were more frequent visitors since my grandparents arrived, for obvious reasons. It actually was in many ways a blessing, as he encouraged me to start the business here, to pick up where we had left off in Sweden, and while he promised he would only be involved as a silent partner and book keeper, everyone knew he wouldn’t be able to help but dive right in. if anything, it gave him a new lease on life.
I loved that it did that, not only for him but for my grandmother as well, and to everyone’s surprise, the business took off. We started small of course, making complimentary items for Sookie’s florist, intricate pots, window boxes, that sort of thing. But we soon expanded to more porch jobs, and soon we were one of the most popular names in town when it came to freshening up just about anything that could be nailed down. It wasn’t something any of us were going to complain about, particularly in the economy in which we lived, we were thankful for what we had and what we could build and continue building. All of it involving our family.
What more could I have wanted.
Well, there were one or two things, but those had been put on the back burner in the time that it had taken us both to lay the foundations of a proper functioning life once my status in the states was deemed to please the hard to please American government.
Of course children were talked of, and often. More so of course by the grandparents and friends, all wondering aloud why it was ‘taking so long to give us grandbabies’, but in truth it was a pressure neither Sookie nor I were willing to bend to. She was right, when we first got married, it was something we willingly jumped into, but that happened so fast that she saw no harm in establishing a proper life, one she was sure would suit children if and when we were lucky enough to have them.
Part of me wanted to protest loudly, the part of me that yearned to see her as a mother, to know what it felt like to be a father, to see where that adventure would take it, as I was sure as I was anything else that it was one we would eventually excel at. Just like we did everything else we took on as a couple of idiots in love. But, ultimately, it wasn’t my decision. It was hers, and I was willing to wait as long as she needed to make it, one way or another.
“How is the swimming lessons going?” I asked finishing off my lunch, and she nodded enthusiastically.
“Really well actually, though my instructor still laughs when I tell her how you all but dragged me to a lake for a romantic weekend last year only to trick me into letting you attempt to teach me.”
“Did you tell her we were naked?”
“I did not, funnily enough, that was a detail I left out. Hmm, I wonder why?” she mused with a funny look on her face, throwing the pickle from her plate onto mine, she hated the pickles at this place. “But she thinks it and you are adorable, so either way I’m sure if I told her that she’d just applaud you.”
“It’s not my fault I’m adorable you know.” I joked but she just shook her head.
“Oh, believe me, I saw your class today, I know. You know those girls are just staring at you right, it’s like, boyband level affection in their eyes… it’s hilarious.”
“They like to learn.”
“No, sweetie trust me. They like the tall glass of Swedish water standing up there in his very snug dress pants and shirt with no tie because he’s a rebel.” She smirked and I just poked her making her jerk back.
“They like to learn. I know things.” I dismissed with no seriousness in my tone, I knew as well as she did that most of them there just really didn’t care for the class, their grades reflected that sadly.
She just nodded.
“Mmhmm. Speaking of which did you run your idea by the principal?”
“I did, he seems to think if we can get insurance to cover it or agree to cover it on the school’s policy that taking the kids in for internship credits would work. There are so many in the classes, Sookie, they really excel in making it an art, I think we’d be foolish to ignore that.”
She agreed with me, and it was something we had been discussing for weeks before I took it to my part-time boss. The shop had been turning a great profit and was allowing us to flourish as part of a small business community, helping out the school was the least we could do.
Walking arm in arm back to her little yellow car she stopped, shielding her eyes with her hand to look up at me, as if she wanted to tell me something else, something that had nothing to do with ‘best ice-cream flavours’ as we were currently debating.
No, it seemed like there was something else.
When she got into the driver seat she took several deep breathes.
“Okay, darling if it’s stressing you out this badly… I’ll agree that bubblegum doesn’t taste like –“
“It’s not the ice-cream I just… you know I think we’re in a good place you and I don’t you think so?”
I looked around.
“You mean like the parking lot?”
She rolled her eyes.
“No, Erik… I mean us and our whole… thing. Our marriage is good right?”
Instantly a sweat broke out on my back, if she was asking did that mean it wasn’t?
“I like to think so… don’t you?”
She shook her head.
“I think so.” She smiled. “I mean considering everything… I really think we’re good, better than good most of the time. And, with the business, and just stuff in general, we’re good right?”
I reached for her hand then, giving her a reassuring squeeze.
“Definitely. Are you okay?”
She nodded then, looking ahead and then looking to me.
“I sort of had an ulterior motive for asking you out on our little lunch date today…” she confessed.
A good one, I hoped.
She let out a sharp sob, but caught it in the back of her throat before laughing.
“I’m sorry, I’m a mess but I had a bit of a dramatic morning really. First Sam decided he was going to run next door and swim in their new pool, pissing off the neighbours and then work and then… ugh it’s not important, but basically you know I’ve been feeling off this past week?”
I nodded. She had been off colour a little, her appetite not as strong, nothing of great concern. Now though with the words ‘dramatic’ I was worried.
“Are you ill?”
She wiped the mystery tears from her eyes with a smile, so they were happy tears.
“I went to the store, and I got some tests, and I figured hey, just take one, just to know… “
My heart rate jumped as she smiled at me.
“Are we ready for this Erik?”
“Ready as in… you…you’re pregnant?”
“Six tests tell me yes… holy shit.” She expelled a breath, one that looked like she’d been holding since we got into the car. Her hands were shaking, my eyes felt like they’d popped out of my head.
“For seriously.” She laughed letting me take her into a tight hug before kissing me, relief, that’s what that kiss felt like.
“But we haven’t been ‘trying’ so –“
“Actively having unprotected sex is still trying, whether we acknowledge it or not honey.” She said starting the car. “Are we ready for this? I’m terrified. I sat and cried in the bathroom floor with Sam for about twenty minutes.” She laughed again, as if she knew how silly that sounded. It didn’t sound silly, it sounded normal.
“Happy cries though, yes?”
“I think definite happy cries. I mean… right?”
I was beaming, so much so my jaw hurt.
“If you’re happy I’m happy, but secretly if you’re not happy right this second ….”
“You’re still happy?” she laughed.
I just nodded. She knew that this was what I had wanted for our next step; there would have been no point in lying.
“I’m not unhappy… this isn’t like last time.” She acknowledged our scare a few years before when we were first married, and how upset she had been then. “I want this.” She said, strong and true, “I’m just scared.”
“That’s normal I think?”
“I think so too…” She squeezed my hand once more. “Besides, this time, this time I feel ready. I mean, not ready right this second but ready like hey, we’re kind of awesome and solid and we have a great set of friends and family and we get it now… this is good.”
And it was good, unexpected but good. Which just about summed us up in the end.