Two whirlwind days later, we were back in Stockholm, and I was shopping with three of Erik’s exes for my dress, as their brothers shopped with Erik for his wedding attire.
“My mother is American, you see.” Emile divulged as she puffed on her cigarette, we were taking a break to rest our feet and refuel on coffee at this little hole in the wall near the water. “Erik would question her constantly when we were children, he loved her accent. I think it is why we dated. I think he liked my family more than he liked me.” She shrugged with a smile. Emile was now married herself. They had discussed kids, but decided to wait a little longer. Her husband Andrew was British and currently serving in the army, it seemed smart to wait on kids in their case. Why do it if he was just going to miss it. How I ended up shopping with my Fiance’s exes, one might ask? Well it was all a rush, truth be told. We consummated our engagement on the boat, adding to the lengthening list of things I could tick that I had never even imagined myself doing before. Then we went and told his Grandparents, and Erik called his mother. Soon enough we were in the local pub, as they called it, and everyone was there to witness Erik announce that he intended to marry the ‘American’ – as they called me.
There was much blushing, and even more drinking. And somehow, at one point I was agreeing to the plan to get married in Stockholm, with all his friends in tow.
Once the hangover wore off, I wanted to regret my agreement. But, somehow I couldn’t. They might have been his exes, but they were an epic group of women. I just tried to block the fact that they’d all fucked him, out of my mind.
So far it was working.
“It’s just strange, that’s all. I mean, I never thought I would be getting married, picking out my wedding dress in Sweden of all places, never mind that I would be picking it out with the majority of my fiance’s ex girlfriends.” I chuckled. It was just too absurd.
“I guess it would be. But none of us love Erik. None of us are with him now, we experienced a different Erik than your Erik. Younger, much more stupid.” Emile was so very matter-of-fact about it all.
I laughed. Her logic was true, but I felt a little out of my element still. I always imagined getting married with all my family around, maybe having Jason give me away, my friends there to support and help me. Instead I was in a strange country, with a group of women I hardly knew.
I didn’t really care about the dress, but I did care about the flowers. And that’s what I wanted to spend my time on, finding the most beautiful flowers for my own wedding, as I had imagined so many times as I put together countless bouquets for other brides. White roses, and lavender. The aroma was always amazing, and they looked adorable and so pretty. The girls directed me to a local wholesale flower shop, and I found a tailor on the way, where I found the amount of ribbon that I needed to put together my own wedding flowers.
My dress, I found in the window of a tiny little boutique nestled away in the corner of a winding cobbled street, one we found by accident as we took shelter from the freak, but fast, rain that decided to dampen part of our day. It was perfect for what we had planned on the fly. Small ceremony, and a party at the one large restaurant in Erik’s town afterward. It was fitted with a sweetheart neck, and a flare like a fifties prom dress with a little netting underneath to give it that extra volume. I had the perfect shoes for it too.
It was really happening.
I did not dislike Stockholm, for the most part it was nice, and close to the water, which I loved. Sookie and I were caught up on the air of happiness, we were going with the flow, as she said, and it did feel good. But the fact that I was there with my Sookie, made it much nicer, and it even allowed me to pay less attention to the crowds that I actually did dislike.
I still wanted to clear things up with Pamela, and used my alone time in the hotel room, while Sookie was shopping to do so.
“You said dates.”
“No I said WIFE.” She argued with me, for what seemed like the millionth time.
“I do not recall it being a …” I tried to translate the word, I got there eventually. It reminded me to look out for some of Rosetta Stone before we left the city. “I do not recall you saying it. Nor it being in the package of notes you sent to me to sign. It was matchmaking. You said, in the bar that one time, that time we agreed. You said making matches, with women I would want to marry. Not women I was expected to.”
She was silent.
“Erik, I’m sorry if there was a misunderstanding. It was never my intention.”
“Misunderstands were misunderstood. I felt very stupid.” I sighed.
“I should have been more clear. I see that now. We still have to discuss your payment.”
I stopped her there. “My… payment for what?”
“Well, agreeing to do this in the first place. Most clients contact me for payment even if things aren’t successful with the other choices. I owe you money, is what I’m saying.”
“But nothing happened with those-”
“No, but still. You are owed. The women, they pay a fee, and if they are unsuccessful, a percentage of that still goes to the would-be-husband. That being you.”
When I remained silent she carried on.
“Erik, a large part of my business is finding amazing women the men they deserve, majority of these women are aiming for marriage. So, they come to me. I was sure I explained that to you.”
She very well may have, we had both been drinking at the time, and I had just gotten out of a doomed relationship when we met at that bar when she was vacationing here.
“Am I a mail order bride?!” I accused, as it suddenly dawned on me.
“Well, unless you’re the one wearing the dress down the aisle, no. You’re not. But you are… to an extent an arranged husband.”
“So, Sookie. She came here knowing that?”
“Yes. She did. But, as her very long and angry phone call told me, she wasn’t aware that you didn’t know too. Neither did I, so we were all in the dark here.”
“You pay me to marry these women?” I asked, just to clarify some more.
“You make it sound so seedy.”
“Is it not?”
“How is it any more different than dating? You both spend time together, you both fuck, life is lived, ring or no ring.”
“Is that how you view marriage?”
“No, honestly, it’s not. But in the end, emotions aside – emotions that take time to develop might I add, it’s what it boils down to. You find someone you can tolerate and you try your hardest to keep them tolerating you. Sookie couldn’t find a guy she could tolerate, who wanted the things she wanted, so she … rather reluctantly… came to me. I in turn, thought of you. How similar you both were, and I don’t just mean the blonde, blue-eyed, Hitler’s wet dream of it all. I mean in personality. You want love and adventures in a new place, but you’re still down to earth, almost too down to earth for some. She was meeting assholes and going nowhere with it, looking for love in all the wrong men, in all the wrong places. I figured I’d take a shot, and now look. There is a wedding.”
I sat on the bed that Sookie and I shared in the hotel overlooking the boats – a request she made to make me feel ‘more at home’, a sweet gesture on her part.
“I do not feel comfortable taking money for this. For meeting Sookie. It feels wrong.”
“Fine, then I won’t give you Sookie’s commission then, if it taints it for you. I can just add it to her very generous discount that I’m already giving her. But the other percentages you’re due, by law. I may run a questionable business in your eyes now, Nordmon, but I don’t indulge in any illegal activity.”
That I was still not sold on.
“You will not charge her either.”
Pam sighed. “We’ll have to discuss that later.”
With that I told her that I would talk to her in person about everything, and that it would only be right to solve things in that way. She agreed, reluctantly, but she agreed nonetheless. I tried to push her out of my mind and focus on the present, more importantly on my bride to be, and finding a suit that would please her.
Sookie got back after I did. My friends were in their rooms, drinking and waiting on us to get together for dinner that night. She came through the door with a sly smile, and many, many bags.
“You can’t look in the pink bag. Or these… or the black one. Okay, just don’t look in the bags.” She said, going straight to the wardrobes by the door, and leaving them inside.
“Okay?” I chuckled from the bed, turning off the TV to look at her. She was glowing.
“The girls have gone to get changed. Your grandparents are still coming, right?” She asked, from the bathroom, the door half open.
“Yes. They said they will stay in the B&B they like here. I told them where we are, so I assume they will telephone when they arrive.”
“That’s good.” I heard the toilet flush and then running tap water, before she came back out, drying her hands on the towel. “I’m glad they agreed, even if your Mom was… you know… less enthusiastic.” She slid into bed next to me then, with a happy sigh. “Walking is hard.” She commented as I took her closer into my arms.
“You have all been gone all the day.”
“We have. But, we got dresses and things. Did you get suited?”
“We did. Nothing too formal, it is nice. I think you will approve.”
She smiled, closing her eyes scooting closer to cuddle more.
“I’m sure I will.”
“Jonas and Luca are in the spa, they want us to join them before dinner. The girls too of course.”
“What kind of spa?”
“Jet water thing and the girl said something about stones. I was not really listening when we came back. I wanted to get dried off.”
It had been raining a lot that day. we all prayed for brighter weather to come back.
“Aw, she probably felt bad for you guys. Like giant, lanky, wet kittens, the lot of you.” She grinned. “I like the sound of that. A bikini would be allowed right?”
“I would insist on it.”
She giggled. “I haven’t had much chance to use them, I packed three, and there has been very little sun to soak up. Lots of water though.”
We were staying in the Grand Hotel, and it really lived up to it’s name in every sense. I had passed it often when I would visit the city, but never had been inside. We offered my Grandparents a room but they declined as it was ‘too fancy’ for their tastes. It certainly was fancy, but since we were having such a small frill-free wedding, I wanted Sookie to feel special and I hoped staying in a special, fancy place would help with that. I had some savings, and this seemed like a thing you would save for.
“This hotel is amazing. I was having a look around when we came back, Ina insisted. She’s a curious one, she made us check almost all the stores even though I insisted I had shoes that went with my dress.”
“Curious or just nosy, we can never decide.”
“They’re nice though…”
“You thought they would not be?”
She shrugged. “It’s not that, it’s just I never thought I’d be getting married with the majority of my husband’s exes as my bridal party.”
“It is …weird?”
“Very. But, I’m getting used to weird, and unexpected. I like it. Like I said, they’re nice.”
“So it is good?” I had hoped she was happy, if she was not I would ask them all to leave and marry her with just my Grandparents.
She nodded, before she leaned up to kiss my cheek.
“It is very good. Come on, spa time, then dinner time, then sexy time.”
I groaned as she escaped my embrace, pulling off her black sweater and letting her hair out of the high neat bun she wore it in.
“Can’t we just skip all the times until we get to sexy time?”
I loved sexy time with her. I loved all the times, but sexy time was high on the clock of Erik and Sookie.
I watched her move around our dimly lit grey and white room, a huge hotel room at that. It was filled with luxury furniture and a massive bed that could easily sleep three or four people. A chaise, couch, and a telescope for scoping out the harbor sat in the room also allowing us to see all the boats. A tiny detail that Sookie made sure of, on my behalf. I would not easily forget her sweetness.
“Sookie, do you want children?
Her head poked out of the bathroom again, a curious look on her face before she disappeared again. A second later she came out, in a red bikini that was more than a little distracting against her smooth, tanned, skin.
“Not right now, but at some time.”
With that she sat on the bed again, taking my hand.
“I think I do. For a long time, I wasn’t sure, but as I’ve gotten older… I guess I’m not as scared. You?”
“I think yes. Maybe more than one if we are lucky enough.”
She smiled. “Kinda sucked being an only child, huh?”
“Yes. It was at times… lonely. I would not want our children to feel the loneliness.”
With that she kissed me on the nose.
“We’ll walk down that road when we come to it, for now your… our friends are waiting for us.”
“I like that you want them to be your friends also. They are kind people. Crazy. But kind.”
“I’m learning that, and hey, making new friends is always a plus. Even if they are with you exes.”
“Such a sticky point for you.”
“A sticky point indeed. Let me slip on my dress and we can go, okay?”
I nodded, searching my case for what could pass for swimwear, but continued to be distracted by hers. Red was definitely her colour. It really brought out her breasts.
We spent the afternoon with his friends, who were slowly becoming mine too. They were open, warm and more than willing to tell an embarrassing story on Erik’s behalf, which kept the mood light and jovial between us all. Laughs and drinks were had, and by the time we sat down for dinner with his Grandparents, we were all in an extremely good mood. And that’s when the boom was lowered. Because who walked in with his Grandparents, but his mother. Also known as my future mother in law from Hell. Erik sighed, and I noticed a few of his friends visibly tense up too. Well, so much for a carefree evening, I thought.
She began by apologising, and offering us a wedding gift that was in a long silver envelope, all done rather awkwardly as I nor Erik really knew what to say. He looked to me for help, but I wasn’t sure what to say, so I just pushed my previous embarrassment to the back of my mind, and I got up and hugged her, welcomed her, and offered her some wine. before moving on to do the same with Erik’s grandparents. It was clear neither of us were sure of her motives, but we accepted her gesture and her seemingly pleasant mood at face value. She assured us, as did his grandparents, that she just wanted to see her son on his wedding day, and it wasn’t a request I was likely to deny her, and nor would Erik. And so we spent our last night as two separate single people, wining and dining with his old friends, and my new, and my soon to be mother-in-law and her inlaws. At times things were awkward, but once everyone had a few drinks, and a good meal in them, the air changed again, this time to something a lot like happiness. I liked it alot, and I could tell Erik was as relieved as I was. It was definitely something I could get very used to, this happiness thing.
At the end of the night, Sookie and I said our goodbyes, we had decided to indulge in at least one traditional aspect of getting married. I wouldn’t see my bride before our wedding, at least that’s what my friends convinced us of that night. So, she would take her things, and stay with the girls in another room, leaving me with my friends, in our room. It was fun, and funny all at once, but I knew I would miss her. Having slept next to her every night since she arrived, this really was our first night apart. She reassured me though that it was just this night, and the next, and many nights thereafter, would be all ours for the taking.
I liked that idea very much.
I would not sleep that night, I was too many things – excited, scared, nervous, happy. All kinds of things just swirling around in my head. I knew we hadn’t said the words, the most important words a couple could say to each other. But, I felt there was love there, or at least the very beginnings of love. I was never one to say the words often, not without a great deal of meaning behind them at least. I knew I liked her very much, I respected the person she was and her ideas and thoughts, she was funny and smart as a whip too. I could see nothing there not to love. I just wanted to say it when truly felt we were in the same place. Things were rushed now because they had to be in a sense. But soon, soon there would be just us, us and the love that I was sure would grow between us, the more time we spent together.
I was not a very religious man, but there were moments, particularly on a rough sea, where I found myself praying to whomever would listen. Sookie grew up with God as an invisible part of her family, at least that’s what it sounded like. So, getting married in a church was kind of important to her. I don’t know how she pulled it off, but somehow Sara convinced a priest to give us thirty minutes of his time that day, it would be simple and quick, we both weren’t ones for show and tell, at least not in front of my family and friends. I arrived with my friends, there were bouquets and ribbon on the doors of the church so I at least knew we had found the right one. I grabbed some of the purple from one that hung loose, lavender. I smelled it, and allowed the sweet familiar scent was over me. I would have to regail Sookie with a story my grandfather once told me, of how his father would add the lavender to the fire at night, the smell filled the house in the most delightful way. I had always liked that memory of his. It was strange to enter to an empty church on one’s wedding day, but I only thought of my wife and how beautiful she would be.
I wasn’t disappointed in the least.
I stood in my hotel room, flanked by two of the three ex girlfriends belonging to my soon to be husband, his mother, and his Grandmother. I was nervous, and a little bit tipsy from our champagne breakfast, a treat courtesy of my soon to be Farmor-in-law. My mother-in-law was on surprisingly good behaviour, even if she and Erik’s grandmother were no doubt bickering in Swedish at each other as I slipped into my wedding dress. I ignored his Gran’s comments about my ‘good birthing hips’ as she helped with my shoes, I think she meant well, even if she was probably sizing me up for grandbabies.
Babies. That was a long way off. I hadn’t even told my husband I loved him yet. I really was doing everything backwards.
“Could I have moments with Sookie before we leave?” Erik’s mom asked, the girls looked at me wearily, his grandmother just rolled her eyes.
“You are not to go upsetting things on this day!” His gran announced, and they bickered a little more in Swedish. I leaned into Sara to whisper, “You’ll have to tell me what they’re saying later.”
“You sure you want to know?”
I nodded before his gran announced they’d wait for me in the lobby. I smiled and let her kiss me on the cheek as she seemed to want to do.
Soon I was left alone with Greta.
“Sookie I has to say some things. One being I am sorry for being as rude as I was when we met first time.”
I nodded, accepting that, and finding no need to argue. She was rude, at least she knew.
“I also like to say that I am not…all happy with this…situation.”
Also something I knew.
“But, last night I see that he cares for you. Fast and strange as it all is. It is real. I was not so sure of that until then. I still think it is crazy talk flying into being a wife and a husband after a half handful of weeks!”
Yeah, it’s not like I could actually deny that either.
“I agree with you.”
“You… do?” She stopped her previous pacing to face me. Shocked.
“Of course. Greta, this is craziness. I’m marrying a guy I’ve known in person for three weeks! Not months or years, weeks. This, all of this, is so unlike me. But I took this leap of faith for the first time in my life, and it’s with your son. Your son who is amazing by the way. He’s kind and sweet…”
“He is a kind boy…man.” She corrected herself. “I sometimes forget he is a man now, always so wise to his years was Erik. I just forget that sometimes he isn’t really mine anymore. I did not want you stealing him away. He avoids us enough as it is. To take him away so far… I feared I would never see -”
“I’m not stealing anyone. I promise. He loves you all so much -”
“He does?” I felt sorry for her then, that she looked so surprised by my admission.
“Yes, of course.” I said grabbing her hand to sit her down next to me. “You are his family of course he loves you. It’s just sometimes, with family, we forget how much we love them because they frustrate us or don’t understand us, or we don’t understand them. It’s what family is a big misunderstood but loved mess, at the end of the day.”
God I hoped she knew what I was talking about.
She nodded so I had hope.
“He was a very peculiar…boy.” She smiled. “Always daydreaming.”
“I’d like to hear more stories about peculiar Erik sometime.”
“I would like to tell them.” She nodded with a shy smile. Maybe there was a sweetness underneath her crazy after all. Erik had to have gotten it from somewhere.
“Let’s get me out of here, shall we?”
With a nod, we grabbed our things and shot out of the room.
I had a wedding to get to!
It was kind of a blur, I realised as I sat at the table beside my husband and his family and friends. The rain had held off just long enough for us to take some pictures afterward, the city, the water, all as our stunning back drop. I was a married woman.
I was met at the bottom of the aisle by Erik, a custom he told me was a ‘thing’ there. I liked it, as without my father, or even my brother there, I would have been walking that walk alone. But with Erik there, I didn’t have to. It was like a small metaphor for our life to come. Without him, without these steps, I would spend more of life walking alone. But not anymore.
We said our vows in English, mostly because otherwise I wouldn’t know what the hell I was promising him. I was proud when he got his right, and in the right order on the first try. We promised to love, both of us eyeing the other with a sly smile as we said that, since we were both aware we hadn’t actually ‘said’ it yet. We promised to trust, honor and protect as best we could, we promised to be patient, and to be kind, and to learn from one another every day. And I may have said ‘I do’ a little louder than necessary, throwing a wink to Granddad Nordmon for a peek into that little tradition, just in case. It was beautiful, and surprisingly more emotional than I imagined it to be for me…or for Erik’s Grandma, as she sobbed holding her husband’s hand.
We kissed and we were greeted by a sea of flying rice as we stepped outside the chapel, for the first time, as husband and wife.
Sookie Stackhouse-Nordmon had a weird and wacky but wonderful ring to it, I thought.
A bit like us in general.
We were snuggled up on our massive, Erik approved, bed in a little bed and breakfast in Gotland, having spent my last few days in Sweden exploring the tiny islands around the coast. It was cute and tourist filled, but it felt nice to be surrounded by other happy couples. A thought that turned my stomach merely weeks ago.
“I don’t want to be without you,” I choked. “I know, it’s silly because it hasn’t been very long, but I already feel sick to my stomach at the idea of getting on the plane in a few days.”
“Then don’t,” he said, like it was the obvious answer.
“I have the business, and Sam. I can’t just…”
“Stay.” He urged.
“I want to. This past few days, and weeks… they’ve been like a dream.” And it really had, this wasn’t like my real life, not really. This picturesque wilderness, the spontaneity of it all, the brave things I had accomplished since getting there. It really wasn’t like me at all.
“For me too. I do not want it to end.” He snuggled me closer, the rain battering on the roof above us, and on the glass of the windows.
“But this isn’t the end, if anything it’s -”
“Our beginning.” He smiled.
“Then if we are to begin. We begin together.”
I blinked. Unsure of where it was going.
“I can go with you. I can always come back, and tie all the things. But I want us to start our life of married, together.”
I smiled, sitting up straight with excitement.
“But your Grandparents…”
“Can cope without me for a few weeks, my father will be on land soon enough and I can find someone to fill in the gap of me before we depart. If this is agreeable to you, of course…”
I tackled him for a hug, both of us giggling like idiots.
“Of course it’s agreeable, Silly.”
With that he kissed me, pushing me down against my pillows again to give himself the advantage. I loved his kisses. They were always as intense and meaningful. It never felt like he was thinking of something, or someone else, he was always in the moment. I thought back to the many men I’d made out with in my life, and besides my first kiss, I didn’t remember ever feeling like the guy really cared about just kissing, like to them it wasn’t special.
Kissing Erik, I always felt just that little bit more important. To him. It was a more than promising start to our lives together, that’s for sure!