I paced the living room with the phone practically glued to my ear. “And how is everything there? Are you eating, you’re being fed well enough yes?”
My grandmother asked over the phone, as she did every time I called. I did not have time for Skype this time, they spent at least a half an hour each time in awe that they could see Sookie, the house and me. This needed to be a quick and painless phone call. I squeezed the bridge of my nose as she continued to talk as we conversed in Swedish.
“Grandmother, listen. I have to go soon but I wanted to let you know of my timetable. I will be home in three days, I need someone to pick me up from the airport but I can’t get in touch with my friends.” Chances are they were experiencing cell reception issues again, I knew from my Grandparents that they had fixed majority of the issues around the phone and internet problems the area had been having, but I also knew the town, and how slack the people in charge could be to us out in the wilderness.
“Oh you want us to come get you?”
The idea of having her third degree all the way from Stockholm while jet-lagged really was not what I was aiming for.
“Actually, I was talking to Granddad and he said there were some deliveries there around that time, so if he could be there when I land it would be great.”
She sighed. Clearly not happy with that part of the conversation.
“Fine, fine I will tell him and it will be fine.”
I was glad it would, I would also call them again before I took off to make sure times and everything suited everyone, if not I could have just rented a car, but since I didn’t know how long I was going to be home for, I had no idea how long I would be holding onto it for. I had my truck back home; a rent-a-car would just be a waste of money.
“Great, I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again.”
“Yes, us too. I will have large dinner ready, everyone will be invited for your homecoming from America you know this?”
I knew that. Granddad had keyed me in a few days before when we’d talked that she and mom had actually been planning together, I was as shocked as he was at that reality.
“We just miss you so much but we know it is not forever that you will be here and that is okay too… we know you have a wife now… even if she will not come with you.”
“What? I know she has her job and that is fine, but in my day a husband supported his wife and a wife supported her husband.”
I was glad we were speaking in Swedish as Sookie was in the kitchen, I just sighed before I continued.
“We explained to you why she couldn’t come, we do not know for how long I will be made stay in Sweden while everything get sorted out and Sookie would lose her business if she left it for a long time. I thought you were proud of her for ‘sticking to her guns’?” I swear her opinion on my life changed dramatically with each conversation. Grandparents. I swear.
“Well, yes that is also good.”
“I’m so confused, look please tell Granddad I called and all that and I’ll talk soon, okay?”
“Okay Erik, we love you and we love Sookie too…” She didn’t sound all that convincing on the last part but I knew if she liked Sookie now, in time she would adore her as much as I did.
After I hung up I walked to the kitchen, Sookie was doing the dishes from dinner and whisper-singing along to the radio, Sam was curled up on the sofa, even though he knew he shouldn’t be there.
She didn’t see me watch her for a minute or so, but I was glad. Just seeing her be herself, bopping her head in that dorky way she did to her favourite songs, wriggle her ass and sing out of tune. Eventually she sensed me, and smiled.
“How are they?”
“Good, for the most parts they are fine. It is snowing heavily, of course, so everything is slowing down.”
“I hope your flight lands okay…”
“Yes. Sweden is well used to our weather, hopefully it just stays as it has… and we manage.”
“I think everything should be ready by six tomorrow, you’re first American Thanksgiving.” Then she rolled her eyes, “Even though it’s half a week early because of my government’s stupid rules when it comes to marrying foreigners.”
I was flying out two days before their Thanksgiving, something that deeply upset Sookie when we looked at the dates. She said it was bad enough we would not be together for our first Christmas, but that Thanksgiving was always special to her, this year she had us to be thankful for, and well, it just didn’t sit right with her that I was missing it. So I got my first Thanksgiving, but everyone else did as well, very early. I kissed her sweetly then, bringing her in for a hug which she took easily.
“I know, but you really do not need to go to all the extremes of the cooking just for me…”
She looked at me then, repeating what she had said every time we brought this up.
“But it’s not just for you, it’s for us. Besides, it’s our first year married and I want it to be a thing now, that we do.”
“Hosting the dinner? Is that stressful with all the cooking, I know my Grandmother says all the cooking is stressful for her at Christmas, even with my mother there – in fact because my mother is there.”
That made her chuckled before she leaned up to kiss my chin.
“It is, but I liked to cook that dinner for Gran, Jason, and I, and this year for you too. I even found this Euro-store that’s a little ways outside of town… it sells Swedish candy.”
My eyes widened with excitement but then I questioned.
“How fars outside of town?”
She looked guilty.
My eyes widened again, this time in shock.
“Okay, I didn’t go there, Pam went and she had told me about it jokingly and well… I made her pick you up a few things. We had coffee yesterday.”
“How is she?” I asked as we broke apart and I went to the fridge, suddenly wondering where the candy was but not wanting to be rude and break the conversations.
“She’s good actually; apparently she and Tara have been hanging out since Halloween too, I mean that’s nice, right? That they’re becoming close friends.” Sookie said sweetly as she pulled out the bread and peanut butter, this was her nightly ritual, after dinner snack. I wanted the candy!
“It is nice…”
“I wonder how close is close for Pam though.” I said jokingly but it made Sookie pause.
“Hm. You know, I never even considered that. Tara does have a history with the ladies.” She said adding a little accent to the end of her sentence with a smile. “Well, whatever floats her boat, if they are.”
Even though she was engaged and unhappy, if being with a woman or more to the point being with Pam was something she wanted, I just hoped her poor chump of a fiancé knew the score of their game before she called time.
Sookie saw me rooting through the fridge and then the cupboards, she just sighed.
“Honey, it’s in the bottom drawer.”
I didn’t fight the urge to grin.
“You’re such a good wife… oh my god…” It was all my favourites. “A REALLY excellence at wifing!”
She just laughed at me as she took her sandwich to the living room where we scooted Sam off the sofa to take our seats. We had decided on a movie, I got to choose, so it was Sherlock Holmes, Sookie didn’t sigh heavily for this one and I think that Robert Downey Jnr and Jude Law helped my case. In fact, I was sure of it.
“You know Sookie…”
“Hmm.” She answered tucked under my arm and cuddled close.
“We’re not really like a couple you and I …and Sam.”
“No, we’re like a… really small gang. I like you’re in my gang.”
She chuckled before kissing me once and laying back down, still smiling.
“I like that you’re in my gang too, Erik.”
I snuggled up with my wife and my candy and even near the end with Sam as he wriggled his way in between us, and enjoyed one of our last peaceful nights together, for a good long while.
Thanksgiving dinner was a mess, at least emotionally for me. Erik and I had spent our days hanging out at the shop, and when I wasn’t working or he wasn’t tinkering in the garage, we were wrapped up in each other – literally. The night with my family just really pushed it home that Erik was leaving and for weeks, possibly months on end and we had no idea when the forms would come through to tell us that his visa and everything had been granted.
It was one big unknown, and I hated the unknown!
But he was a sweetheart about it, even as I was sobbing into my turkey gravy in the kitchen, or wiping my eyes as my Gran told him all kinds of hilariously awkward stories from mine and Jason’s childhood. He lapped it up, all the while holding his unstable wife’s hand.
“I don’t want to go, but once I go, it’ll mean I can look forward to coming back,” he whispered, kissing me. “And staying, and being here, and being your husband for the rest of our lives.”
I found myself scooped up and at face level with him, as he carried us into our room for his last night there. He gently laid me down, and I felt his weight on top of me in the dark. “You’ll call me?” I whispered, feeling ridiculously insecure.
“And I’ll email you, and I’ll think about you, and then I’ll be back.” He buried his face in my hair. “And I will find a job when I get home.”
Home. Here was home. With that simple revelation, I felt much better about him going for a time.
“You don’t have to find a job right away.”
“For my mental health, I will find a job,” he chuckled. “I am not made to be a house-man.” He pulled my leg up and hooked it over his hip. “I am missing the creative stimulation.”
“I think you’re pretty creative,” I giggled, tugging his shirt over his head. “But we’ll figure something out. I’m sure people would buy your stuff.”
“Maybe I’ll make flower boxes for you.” He propped himself up on his elbows on top of me. “I love you.”
It was the first time he’d said it. Two months, a marriage, my virginity, and a move across the ocean, and he’d said it.
I’d known it to be true for a while. We had said it in every roundabout way possible without saying a direct and clear ‘I love you’.
“I’ve loved you for a while,” I whispered back. “I don’t know how long, or when, but it snuck in, and it’s one of my most favourite things. I probably should have said something sooner.”
He smiled at that and pressed his lips to my forehead. “Oh, my Sookie,” he murmured, his eyes fragile. “You are becoming as sentimental as I am.”
“I’m going to miss you,” I whispered, cupping his cheek. “Big time.”
“Well, we should share an evening to remember then, my wife,” he whispered, pulling me on top of him and with one swift movement.
I had the feeling that most men weren’t as giving as Erik was, as he proceeded to go down on me, as had become fairly standard procedure when we got naked. I’d been very uncomfortable about sitting on his face the first few times I’d done it, very concerned and self-conscious about what was going on with my parts, but he initiated it, so after some time I assumed he liked it. Maybe not as much as I did, but some at least.
He shoved my hand to my breast, which also seemed to be something he liked quite a lot, me touching myself in some way. I responded by doing what he did and pinched my nipple, which got a groan from him that in turn got one from me. I held onto the headboard he’d recently made me to keep myself from collapsing on his face as my knees grew weak.
Then, something strange happened. Something that wasn’t the norm for us. I felt his long fingers inside of me, and then one seemed to trail off and find somewhere new.
Somewhere that no fingers had ever wandered before.
I tried to be cool, and go with it. I did. I tried to remember if I’d had an awkward drunken conversation about men doing this with Tara, or Isabel. I couldn’t remember.
What was possibly most or least troubling was that it felt really good, him pressing there. Different good than anything had ever felt before. I tried to keep my wide eyes hidden, and my thoughts away from other things that happened down there.
It was times like this that I felt like I had no business marrying a Swedish sex god. No business at all. I had no idea what was going on. It was all so distracting, and confusing, yet good at the same time.
I did something terrible.
I faked it.
Erik didn’t say much after he came, but he never did, and as usual, he pulled me into his arms after he did his bathroom things, which I assumed thoroughly washing his hands, or at least I hoped it did.
What was wrong with me? Obviously women liked this, or I doubted Erik would have taken it on himself to use me as a weird experiment. I was fairly certain from my conversations with his ex-girlfriends that Erik was incredibly knowledgeable in bed. At relationships, maybe not, but in bed, yes.
And it had felt good. In a very unexpected way.
I didn’t like feeling out of control. Not one bit.
“Sookie, I must go,” Erik whispered, waking me up. “It is almost time for my flight.”
My heart sunk a little at the thought of waking up alone in the morning after he left. “Oh. Do you want me to drive you to the airport? I don’t mind.”
Even though he had talked me out of that idea the night before. He was leaving here at three am, he didn’t want me driving back at that hour alone.
“No, we agreed. I will take the taxi cab. It is fine.”
“Okay, you have the Xanax right? For if you get a little…nervous?”
I could see his smile in our dimly lit bedroom.
“I do, thank you for considering my nerves. And thank you for the snacks.”
It was my turn to smile then, there may have been some sandwiches and cookies in his carry on, to eat before he checked in. Erik was always hungry.
“I will go, and then I’ll be back, and it’ll be like I was never away,” he murmured, kissing me ever so softly. “And you will be here, and as beautiful as you are now, and the next time, we will go together.”
“Say hi to everyone for me,” I rasped. “And don’t forget you have a wife in America and decide to stay.”
He shook his head. “You would not be easily forgotten about.”
“I love you, Erik,” I said, giving him my best morning smile, as Sam jumped up onto the bed and took Erik’s spot.
“I do not like him in the bed, but I love you too, Wife. And I will return not so many weeks with many treats for you.”
He kissed me again and I didn’t want to stop.
“I love you.” He said with a smile and I repeated his words and kissed the life out of him, practically.
I knew my husband was sentimental at heart, just like I was, but I also knew that if I got out of bed and made a huge scene when he left neither of us would really want that, and so I did as he asked and I stayed put. Listening to him pottering around the house, saying goodbye to a curious Sam and telling him to take care of me until he got back. It was sweet, just like he was deep down. Sam came back to me as soon as I heard the front door click shut, with that, he was gone and I shed more than a little tear at the idea of it. In fact, I cried myself back to sleep.
I slept late that morning because I knew Jessica was opening up the shop, and I was busy feeling sorry for myself. However, by eleven, I figured even I was pushing my luck, and tried to pull myself together. Then my thoughts floated back to and were tormented by the ramifications of one little finger in an odd spot.
What did it mean?
Why did I enjoy it?
What did that say about me?
What did it say about me, that I wasn’t aware that that was something regular people did?
That night after missing him all day and contemplating our night in bed, I finally got up the courage to ask the one person I knew wouldn’t judge me about it. Tara. Over wine. Lots of wine. I started slow.
“We told each other we loved each other the night he left, and then–”
“You got married, and you hadn’t said ‘I love you’ yet?” Tara shook her head. “Honestly, I don’t understand you two.”
I rolled my eyes at her. “It seemed soon. We didn’t say it just for the sake of saying it, and we got married really quickly. “Anyway, so we say it, and then he goes and…” I took a deep breath. “And then he…”
I couldn’t say it. I just couldn’t.
It was ridiculous that I couldn’t, but this wasn’t the type of thing that Tara and I talked about, and since I hadn’t really had a sex life period three months earlier, I had no idea how deviant his finger had actually been.
Or how deviant it had been that I really liked it. A lot.
“What, Sook. Spit it out? He effed you into the mattress?”
“Did he ask you to call him something else, or suggest you peg–”
I gulped, as I tried to wrap my head around what that might have meant. “What?”
Tara shook her head. “You seriously need to buy a book or something. Did he ask you to fuck him?”
“Don’t we fuck each other?”
Tara sighed. “If you can’t put the pieces together from that, you’re hopeless. What happened?”
I swallowed, hard. “We…he…he…his finger, it went into my…my ass.” I covered my face with my hands. “And I didn’t know what to say, or if it was a mistake, or if this means he wants to have sex like that, because I don’t think I do, because, well, you’ve seen…Can’t. Don’t think it’s a good idea, and I mean, I guess I knew people did that, but I thought it was just in pornos, or with people who were more adventurous than us.”
Tara looked at me for a long minute before she burst out laughing. “Oh, Sook. I don’t know what I’m going to do with you. It’s like someone gave you a Ferrari after a lifetime of driving cheap Fords.”
“Shouldn’t we have talked about it?”
“You wanted to have that conversation?” She raised her eyebrows. “Like you’re at the gynaecologist? Sookie, I’m going to stick my giant Swedish finger–”
“Enough!” I shrieked. “We don’t have to talk about it like that.”
“Why are you concerned?”
“That’s an exit hole. That’s just…it’s wrong.”
“Every hole can be an exit hole.” She sipped her wine. “There’s very little two people can do together that’s wrong. Unless he hurt you, did he hurt you?”
“No… it was just… you know… shocking.”
She chuckled again, putting her glass on the table.
“Oh, honey. Hence the name.”
I was confused again, and it was probably clear on my face because Tara just shook her head.
“Sookie, I’m going to drop by some…light reading for you while the big, giant Swedish cat is away. The mouse won’t play, but she will…observe the rules of the game.”
“Tara, metaphors and wine don’t mix with me, not when I’m freaking out here!”
“Some sexual tips and tricks that you might wanna look up for your new husband.”
“I mean, he seems like a open-minded liberated kind of mountain man. What did he say when you told him you were a virgin before you let him in?”
I felt the blush flush my cheeks again, my hands went to my face again too.
“Sookie Stackhouse, tell me you’ve told him?”
“I couldn’t, at least not right away!”
“I couldn’t okay?! I didn’t want him to look at me like I was this great, big freak! I mean I told him, eventually, but yeah so we married with half the story untold…as it were.” I cringed.
“Hon, I’ve told you, you ain’t no freak. A unicorn about these here parts, sure, but not -”
“Tara, I know you meant well, but really, you’ve no idea how…hard it was being a virgin. At my age. In this day and age. When everyone everywhere expects, just ‘cause you look a certain way, or are cute, that you’re just running around dicking everyone with…well, a dick. Not doing that? Made me a freak. The guys I’d date, the ones I told.” I grunted. “It was just too humiliating to even consider going there with Erik at first.”
“But you went there with him, all the way. In fact you went so far, you got down an aisle with the dude. You don’t think he deserved to know?”
“I think he suspected, when we were…” I waved my hands around.
“Having. Sex.” She stated.
“You can do it, but you can’t say it? Girl, please.”
“Anyway, yes. I think he suspected, but he didn’t mention it, and it took me a while to work up the courage to tell him.”
“You’re both so weird.” She shook her head. “I mean, maybe he’s just what you need then, weird.”
“I think so.” I smiled.
“How did he take it, I mean, I think he’d be flattered, honestly. Think about it, you’ve only been with one man, who is now your husband. As much as our parents and grandparents instilled that little detail in us, you were the only one that actually did it. It’s sweet, and I think he’d be thrilled to be the Neil Armstrong of men, where you’re concerned.”
I giggled at her wording, and knew that she was on to something. Erik wasn’t like the other guys, after all. I mean sure, we argued about stupid things sometimes, like my driving or his driving or what to buy for dinner, or his over use of all my fancy guest towels. However, on most things we seemed pretty chilled.
And besides as far as in the bedroom was concerned, I was not some frigid, scared virgin girl anymore, I was his wife. His wife that was good at sex, or at least she would be when she practiced some more. I told her of how I told him, leaving his sexual confessions to just him, his previous partners, and me. There were just some things your friends didn’t have the right to know.
I busied myself while he was gone; Tara and I had an accidental sleepover. Mostly because she had had too much wine to drive home, and mostly because now I was used to someone else in the house, I felt lonely his first night away. The next morning we silently ate breakfast, leftover Chinese food and coffee, just what our hang over’s needed, before I dragged myself into work and she forced herself across town to her job. She worked in retail for Bed, Bath and Beyond, allowing me use of that discount whenever I wanted, too.
A little too often in Erik’s opinion.
He would have landed in the afternoon time, American time and I knew he would call so it was just before lunch, and I was alone in the shop having given Jess a much needed day off, when he walked in.
The cringe of my life.
He hadn’t changed a bit since I’d last seen him, still with his smarmy face and his smarmy suit, with his smarmy, unnecessary man-bag. Ugh.
“Sookie Stackhouse, fancy running into you here.”
“Well not really that bit of a surprise, since I own the place and all. Hi, Bill. What can I do for you?”
“Besides brightening up my day?” He said leering at my breasts.
“Besides … that.” I deadpanned.
“Well…” Just as he began, a woman walked into the store, she was smiling happily, so it shocked me when she walked up and took Bill’s hand.
“Sookie, this is my fiancée, Lorena. Lorena, Sookie. One of the best florists in the whole state.”
She grinned, big and real. This girl was happy.
“Hi, it’s so nice to meet you. I wasn’t even sure this place was real, but Bill just insisted we come here and see your displays. I was set on one of the bigger companies in the city, but nope, my Billy here just had his heart set on this little independent place in Shreveport, so here we are!”
There they were. Fuck me, she had agreed to marry Bill? I looked into her eyes, and unlike Bill’s hers were very much alive and sparkling. Hm. Maybe the Scientologists hadn’t got to her yet, I thought.
“You’re getting married, Bill?”
“I sure am. Lorena and I met at a meeting a few months back, we hit it off right away, and we’ve just been like two halves of the same coin ever since.”
That didn’t even make sense, if they were two halves they’d never actually see each other. Did this mean she was ‘one of them’?
“A church meeting.” He clarified with shifty eyes. Damnit, I read her wrong, she was one of them.
“Ah, well. Praise Zenu and all that, right?” I grinned, as did they. I fought the urge to shudder.
“Well, let me show you folks what I can offer y’all and we can go from there? Okay?”
I put on my best fake smile, my best fake happy voice and I sold the shit out of my wedding portfolio. I fought the urge to gag when they’d coo over the flowers, or the urge to tell her to run for her life or offer her some Dawson’s Creek DVDs as a very large hint as to what her future held.
I’d just gone through the pricing, which Bill eagerly agreed to when Erik called. I ignored the call since I was working, even if it was the last thing I wanted to do and Bill noticed.
“Don’t ignore your call on our behalf,” he said, nuzzling Lorena’s neck in a way that made me cringe.
Then I realized. I didn’t give a shit that Bill was getting married. Less than a shit. I never would have married Bill, but it still sucked that everyone was beating me to the altar, especially loser assholes like him.
“It’s my husband,” I said pointedly. “I’ll call him back in a bit. He gets the time change mixed up.”
Bill stopped nuzzling Lorena long enough to look a little surprised.
“Oh, husband,” he nodded. “I didn’t realize.”
“It’s…new. Only a couple of months.” I smiled.
“I’m so glad you were able to work through your issues, Sookie,” he replied in his condescending tone that made me want to castrate him. “I thought the church could have really helped with that, but I guess you didn’t need it after all.”
“I don’t know how ya’ll call yourselves a church,” I muttered. “Anyway, yep, happy as a clam.”
“We should double date!” Lorena said with a huge grin on her face. “We can talk more about the flowers, and I’ll cook my tuna tartar.”
Bill smiled brightly. “I like this idea. What do you think, Sookie?”
I resisted the urge to say that I thought they were both on crack.
“Well, Erik’s away for a few weeks, and I’m just so busy–”
“When he’s back,” Lorena said. “We must set up a date. I have your card with your number–”
“I have Sookie’s number,” Bill interjected. “Okay, so we’ll do it. Dinner when Edward–”
“Erik’s back in town. Our place.”
I was not going to their place for dinner with Erik. There was no way I was subjecting him to them, or risking that his limited English skills would make Scientology sound appealing.
“Okay, well, we’ll try to set something up, I guess,” I said, eager to get them out of my store. “And we’ll be in touch a little closer to the wedding about the flowers.”
It took me another ten minutes to hustle them out of the store, and when they were finally gone, I locked up and called it a day, annoyed that my busy day had caused me to miss his call. Erik had left a very long, rambling voicemail about his flight, and I listened enthusiastically when I got home from work. The flights were smooth, the pill had helped and he had waked himself up with his own snoring. His mother was crazy. He missed me. His grandmother made wonderful pies, and was very interested in Sam if we wanted to ship him over. They were having a welcome back dinner for him, it was all very sweet. But listening to his broken English over my voicemail, all excited and happy to be back there it just made me realise that I was home alone and that he was an ocean and countries away from me.
I was more than ready for him to come home already. I missed him.