The look on his face when I first turned around was one of anger, but it soon softened into something between confusion and deep thought.
“I didn’t know, you have to know that -” I began but was quickly cut off with his reassurance.
“I know that now. I did not before but, you yell loudly and this road is small and empty. So, I heard all the things.” He nodded as we walked, he still didn’t look at me though.
“I can’t believe Pam wasn’t straight with you. It seems so unlike her. She’s usually almost too blunt.” It made me wonder if she was paying him, if he didn’t know the score as it was, maybe she wasn’t being truthful there either. It really was so unlike her, at least according to Isabel!
“Perhaps she thought she was? Perhaps I mistaken her intent, I am not so sure anymore. I am glad to know that you were not like the others in this way too. That you were not so… with the lying.” He gestured out with his hands in the air.
“I’m still sorry.”
With that he stopped and faced me. His own facial expression softening a little more, thankfully.
“I know that. Thank you. When I wrote about marriage in my letter, I thought it would express that I wanted a serious relationship, and that I did like marriage. Many Swedes do not.”
We walked silently for a few minutes, before something happened that I didn’t expect.
The heavens all but opened on us. The beautiful mid-summers day suddenly turned into grey skies and fast falling rain. We were soaked in seconds, it was that extreme, he grabbed my hand and we ran to the nearest tree for some kind of shelter, as pointless as it might have been at that point. Both of us seemed surprised by the sudden change in the weather, until he spoke.
“Always change here. No day is complete without rain.” He smiled. “I will discuss things with Pamela another time. I feel you have her good and scared.”
With that I smiled. She was more than a little shocked to have me reading her the riot act, on the phone from the middle of nowhere, that’s for sure.
“I think so too. I was just livid with anger, even if this is just a simple misunderstanding, it’s embarrassing for all of us.
“I may want simple things, that does not mean I am a simple man, Sookie.” He said softly as he began to fidget nervously.
“I know that.”
He took a few seconds to respond, but when he did, he nodded.
“It is good that you do. The others did not seem… so knowledgeable. The package of things Pam sent, I always viewed them for dating. Always. I think maybe now I did not pay enough attentions to her writings, which is my own fault. I feel foolish for not seeing what was so much in front of my face now.”
“I may not know you well, Erik. But I know you enough to trust that you know what you want in life, even if it’s not what everyone thinks you should want.”
He looked to me then, a look I hadn’t seen from him since we’d met. I wasn’t sure what it meant, but I liked it. It felt like clarity.
“You are the first person… to ever say those things to me.” He squeezed my hand, a small smile escaping his previously very serious looking face. “Before you, it was all talk of things people thought for me that I should want. Girls in town they think I should be for. House in Stockholm they think I need to live in. Better job. Jobs with suits and ties. The big houses, fancy cars, all the things.”
I had the same kind of friends, as he so eloquently put it, they wanted ‘all the things’, it didn’t matter if they needed them or not. I found myself buying into that idea more than once. It was refreshing to find someone who didn’t.
“The other women, they thought me off… odd? For not caring for the things others did so much. Because I wanted to work hard and enjoyed my little bits of life, this was somehow not… ‘desirable’ enough to them for me. ” He honest to God used finger quotes. It was too adorable.
“I will discuss with Pamela the true nature of our arrangement. In truth I was more than a little drunk when I had agreed on things with her, when we met in Stockholm. Again, I feel foolish. The letters I wrote to you, the electronic mails, I expressed my hopes in them, of finding someone to marry… so of course you must have thought I knew. I just feel so stup-”
With that I stopped him getting lost in his mind in the thought of those other women and their judgmental assholeness. Instead I grabbed him and kissed him, hard and fast, so fast infact he fell back against the bark of the tree. Before I really knew what was happening, we were tearing each other’s clothes off, and sliding to the grown, into the overgrown grass to have sex. I really didn’t believe my own actions. I had gone from a virgin to somewhat of an exhibitionist in less than two days. The weird thing was, with Erik, I didn’t worry about someone seeing us, or judging us, or finding us in the very naked positions we’d got ourselves into. I was surprised at the freedom being with him allowed my mind, freedom from my own judgements, I realised.
What I also realised was Erik was a real giver when it came to sex, and weirdly really into giving oral. I had heard horror stories from all my girlfriends on how their men were almost terrified to go there on a regular basis, and it seemed sad. Since they were more than expected to easily go down on their men every damn time. Erik was different, and in his difference I assumed he was talented too, not that I had anything to hold him up against in comparison mind you. But, the reactions and experiences he was giving me? I felt they’d be pretty hard to beat, as I had my second orgasm of the evening in that field.
I felt like a teenager, in all honesty. I felt this is what I was meant to be experiencing when I was a teen. But had deprived myself of it all for what not felt like silly reasons. On the other hand, I was mature enough to know that I was idealising teen-sex, as I had done most of my virgin-filled life. I knew in my heart, and in my head come to that, that any teen sex I would have been having in Bon Temps, wouldn’t have held a candle to what I had been experiencing with Erik in those couple of days since we had first been intimate. He was a man, in so many ways, and especially sexually, and as a grown woman, and now an ex virgin, I was more than okay with that. I was more than okay in the choices I had been making since I had arrived in the quirky, beautiful country that was Sweden. If I tried, I could easily see he and I together, melting our quirkiness together in the hopes of forming something beautiful. A bit like his country, that way. I just wondered if it was something still on the cards for us both, now that everything was out in the open, that Pam’s real role in all of this was revealed, I hoped he still wanted me to be his wife someday, because I certainly wanted him to be my husband.
I wanted that adventure with him.
I woke up early a couple of mornings later to Erik nudging me awake, his blue eyes twinkling.
“Come, Lover. I have an adventure planned for us.”
I blinked the sleep out of my eyes, and let him pull me off the bed. “Erik, the sun’s not even up yet.”
“We’re going to go watch it come up, and start the day like that.” He beamed at me. “It’s the best part of the day, and the part everyone misses.”
About a half hour later, I had a bowl of oatmeal in my stomach and at least three layers of clothes on too, and we were hand in hand, walking towards Erik’s friend’s boat again.
“Boy, you’re bound and determined to convince me I like the water, aren’t you?” I said, squeezing his hand a little tighter as we walked onto the dock. The dawn was just breaking over the horizon. It was a beautiful part of the day.
One I was pretty sure I preferred to save for special occasions, I thought, as I yawned. “So we’re going out on the boat?”
Erik nodded, a smile on his scruffy face. “Yes. And we will be safe, and I will keep you safe.”
This time, I was a little less afraid, and when Erik dropped anchor in a tiny cove about twenty minutes later, I smiled to myself as I thought about how far I’d come in just a week with him. I still kept my life jacket on at all times, and if I stood to walk you better be sure I clinged to anything nailed down until I got where I was going. But, for the most part, it was nice. The views didn’t hurt either.
“Erik, this is stunning. Really.” I admired around me, making sure my camera got the scenery before me. I caught a few of my rugged fisherman, with his toque and wool sweater, two day old beard and lots of dirty rope, on the backdrop was the most beautiful sunrise I could recall. When I laughed, it got his attentions.
“What is funny?”
“I was just thinking. This is just the most surreal thing. If you’d told me six months ago, I’d be sitting in a boat… I’d would have thought you were nuts. If you’d told me I would be sitting in a boat in Sweden, with this guy I’d just met but that I’d went further with him than…” I shook my head, remembering that was for me to know. “It’s just a little crazy how fast things have gone.”
“But a … good kind of crazy, yes?” He asked, putting down the rope that was now perfectly knotted.
“Oh, yes. Very good kind of crazy.” I smiled as he took his seat next to me, and took a moment to enjoy the view too, though I was certain he knew it by heart.
“It is all crazy. How we met, throwing ourselves into this craziness of ideas together, in hopes of coming out with something we could not find on our own. It is so massively huge, but also so not.”
I looked at him then, curiously.
“In the grandest scheme of things, what we are and who we are means little. It is like, that tiny pond, over there by the rocks. It is small, and insignificance when it is compared against this -” He widened his arms to the sea. “But it still is of import. Without it, the sand would not rest, the turtles would not sit, the fish would not get trapped and the birds might not feed.”
I nodded. I made sense, I think.
“But we are necessary. Who we are, who we want to be. We are deep like the ocean, deep and full of secrets and dark places that can be sometimes easy to fall into and never return. But we are also powerful and strong, and can raise to the light and happily stay there too. You must trust the sea to stand on her. You must trust that she will keep you safe if you are meant to be kept. It does not mean that you do not sail careful, no. You must plan your route, and know the ways. Relationships with women are much like the sea.”
“Yes. Women are deep and full of secrets also, but if you know how to navigate her, to sail on her in ways that do not anger her, it can be a beautiful day.” He smiled, big and wide. I found myself smiling just as big, not allowing myself to fall out of the moment.
“Sookie, I feel many things for you and when I am near you. I feel like we can build something with each other, a relationship like a boat, to sail together inside of it. If we give it the chances that are needed.”
With that he produced the tiny velvet box once more. My heart skipped several beats.
“Erik you know that I don’t expect you to do this because of -”
“I do this only for myself, and for you. Whatever was expected of us both before… it is no longer a … what is… issue?”
“So I’d like to do it, and not let a moment and a feeling we both have slip away because we are concerned about things that don’t concern us. It’s not about my family, or Pam, or American television. It’s about you and me, and it’s very simple. I feel for you, a way I’ve never felt for anyone after as long as we’ve known each other, and I’d like us to cultivate it. Like a little pearl, or a flower, and give it the chance to grow and become more and more beautiful and alive. I want to see what our life could be, and,” he smiled. “We don’t have the luxury of so much courting time, since we live so far apart, and I don’t think we need it, because it’s so often just the chance for people to think too much about the things that don’t matter.”
I hadn’t looked at the ring the last time he’d sort of asked, and we’d both freaked out. It was a sapphire, big and blue, nestled in a ring of tiny diamonds. It was stunning, and unique, much like his words to me. He wasn’t wrong, most of my dating life I spent seconding guessing my actions, or non-action as the case may be.
“I decided on blue because I want us to have trust, and all this blue,” he waved to the sea around us. “It’s a good first step to trust, and I feel very lucky that we are here together, and that we have trust. With what you tell me to be true, stepping on the boat was not just a physical step but a large one with the emotionals. I think that is a very good sign.”
We hadn’t said we loved each other yet. We hadn’t even been dating a month. Could we really do this?
I had given more of myself to him though, than men I had dated for six months. More than all the men in my life combined. I did trust him. I wasn’t sure I’d ever trusted anyone before. Not like I did now. It was as if on instinct, something I never paid much attention to before. Well except with get the hell out of dodge where Bill Creepy Compton was concerned.
I knew though that people who had far more time were far less than we were.
“How would this work?” I asked, still overwhelmed.
Erik shrugged. “We would have to make it work, but we will make it work, and we won’t be apart. I am excited every day I get to wake up with you.”
I understood that.
“I am too,” I said, unable to control my grin. “It’s silly, right?”
He shook his head. “I think it’s very beautiful.”
We smiled at each other for a moment, and I thought about the answer to the question he’d sort of asked. Could I marry him, after only a few weeks? Would everything fall into place? We had chemistry, but did you marry someone for chemistry, or did we need some challenges under our belts? Or was this a challenge on its own, meeting and taking a chance on each other?
I had a lot of questions, but they were fairly open-ended; the kind without real answers that you could anticipate, no matter how long you knew someone for. Would this work out? Was it a good idea? Were we making a horrible mistake?
“If I ask you, will you jump into the sea and become a mermaid to get away from me?” He reached for my hand. “Because I won’t, if it will bother you, or make problems between us. We can find another path for a time, although this will be easier with the paperwork in America.”
He was right though, about the second guessing. I did it all the time, and I worried excessively about everything, all the time. And you know what, it never once changed the outcome of a situation or a relationship, not once. So for now, I think I was done second guessing myself. I was going to go with my gut.
“I think you should ask,” I said, confidently. “I think you should do it.”
Just like that, he dropped to one knee in the cockpit, and I was looking down at the man who was moments away from being my fiancee.
Because I knew, as soon as he asked, I’d say yes.
And I did.