A/N: A little bit of A+A aftermath first but that wraps up mid chapter and then we get back to investigations into the murder of Eric’s family.
“Fine,” she huffed out. “I may or may not have been entertaining a very excitable dream in my drunken state. Don’t worry I’ll change the sheets and sleep on the sofa from now on if you want me to.”
Eric chuckled at her admission, if only she knew what he had been entertaining about her in his subconscious, never mind when he was conscious. It was all very excitable indeed.
“You’re welcome to continue to make use of the bed,” he said with a leisurely perusal of her body. “Are you still comfortable to have me in it?”
She nodded shyly, her face still flushed, only confirming to him that said dream had involved his presence and not that of the arrogant diplomat’s son that had stolen her lips from him. The thought of that made him happier than he had been in months, perhaps even years.
Sookie would have been more embarrassed at her earlier admission but it had quickly turned around as she had caught Eric taking an extended sniff from the bedroom sheets. A small part of her liked to believe he had intended to be caught just to alleviate her constant state of embarrassment that he had lightly teased out of her during the rest of the night. Much to her consternation as terrible as Eric was at understanding the gist of common day expressions, he seemed to master the double entendre with far too much ease.
Despite sleeping the entire day away Sookie fell asleep instantly as soon as her head touched upon the pillow. She fell in a contented slumber happy to have Eric beside her again even if it did seem she had uncovered a perverted version of him. The currency of her flushing face only encouraging it to greater height. Only Eric knew it was her smile that he was working so hard for to uncover, the blushes were a mere bonus.
“Why’d you do it?” Eric whispered into her hair as she softly breathed in a steady rhythm that only nights seem to foster. It was still dim outside and would remain so for many hours in the long hours of darkness that characterise a Swedish winter.
“Do what?” she returned softly in a semi-conscious state. Her breathing rhythm changed as she exhaled a warmed lungful over his chest.
Eric didn’t know if he would have the bravery at other moment to ask, to offer himself in vulnerability like this. He felt somewhat safe in the anonymity of the shadows and the warmth of her beside him so he chanced it, “Kiss him?”
Sookie shifted slightly seeking out the blindingly blue of his eyes in the dark. His question had roused her to full attention and she didn’t intend to hide. She reached over for the light switch but his hand stalled hers. “Just get it over with,” he begged with a hint of defeat.
“You left me all alone,” she confessed with the same vulnerability that had accompanied his question. “But that’s not why. I wish it was just that simple.”
“I thought…” she trailed off not sure where to look anymore but the palm of his hand directed her face back towards him. She saw the pain that was already there, that she unintentionally caused and refused to add further too. “I thought if I could with someone I didn’t care for then I could do it for you. I want to be able to do it for you, be with you, but…”
“Bill,” he answered knowingly.
“Yeah,” Sookie whispered back shifting her head back into his chest where she felt safe and secure. “He took something from me. I need to get it back, it wouldn’t be fair to you to be without it. It wouldn’t be fair to us.”
“To us?” he repeated softly but she barely heard as her breathing evened out as sleep overcame them both again.
Eric woke later than usual to an empty bed, the smells of breakfast having him quickly on his feet. The promises spoken to the night had him cheerful and expecting to find Sookie of equal mind. Instead he found a sobbing Sookie over the breakfast table clutching at the newspaper, ink staining her damp fingers. With her limited grasp of the language she could only make out every other word but it was enough to get what the headlines and pictures were portraying. Eric skimmed through the article quickly as tears continued to stream down her face with her inability to form words.
“Did you do this?” she finally asked through her cries that had her physically shaking.
“No,” he answered in good conscience. “I never left your side last night. I’ll be honest I’d considered seeking out the privileged prick but I’d never hurt him more than a punch to the face. Nothing like this.”
“Ok,” she returned meekly seeking out his embrace in an attempt to soothe her. “Can you tell me what it says?”
“Katrina Kurkova was found strangled to death by Amelia’s maid. Both Amelia and Alcide are missing and they speculate they have either been kidnapped or killed and the killer didn’t have time to get rid of Katrina before the maid arrived. It appears to be a home invasion gone wrong.”
In a futile effort he tried to dry the tears with a napkin from the table but the waterworks continued despite his best efforts.
“The police are looking for this women who left the scene hours before the events transpired.” Eric pointed to a blurry CCTV image that to their knowing eyes instantly recognised as Sookie.
“What are we going to do? Should I hide somewhere?”
“You used the Susanna alias correct?” She nodded immediately although it was no surprise to him, Sookie followed his lead quite easily in matters of their safety. “Your phone?”
“I pulled out the battery and SIM card like you showed me as soon as I saw the article.”
“Good,” He appraised. “I think we should consider going to the police.”
“What?” Sookie was dumbfounded at the mere suggestion, she had been preparing mentally to pack her bags and hide in a bunker for the next months.
“You did nothing wrong and Amelia and Alcide’s behaviour was peculiar to say the least. Right now you’re the press’ only lead. If you stay missing the speculation will surmount to epic proportions. They will find better photos of you on social media,” Eric explained thoughtfully. “It’s too dangerous; the story might reach the US considering Amelia is the daughter of a prominent American family. I’ll retain a lawyer to protect your identity in the press and he’ll be with you at the police station. As soon as the police rule you out of foul play they will move onto something else.”
“This won’t bring scrutiny on you or our identities?” she asked trying to take it all in.
“No. My alias connected to this home is strong, as is Susanna’s. Only if they suspect us of terrorism will they be able to investigate us thoroughly enough and find some inconsistencies.”
“So no Al Qaeda talk then?” she quipped with a small smile as her tears finally seemed to dry.
“You catch on quickly,” Eric returned with a smile of his own. He kissed the top of her head softly before pulling the phone from his pocket. “I’m calling my lawyer.”
“Can we trust him?” Sookie asked pensively holding onto his forearms with both hands, not ready to stand on her own again.
“Yes, he is the only person besides you that I have entrusted with my true identity,” Eric replied while seeking out the private number on his phone.
“Fine, but I’m unleashing the full force of my ability on him when I meet him.”
“I would expect nothing less,” he smirked at her but soon switched to Swedish when his lawyer, Peder Falk, answered.
They spoke for some time where Eric was intermittently put on hold while he paced relentlessly down the full length of the apartment. When he finally hung up the phone he let out a sigh of relief as Sookie looked up to him with eyes filled with expectation.
“So far none of the news websites have any photos up and he’s taking legal actions to prevent them from publishing any where you would be recognised. Worst case scenario you might have to do some interviews in exchange to retain your anonymity,” he relayed to her.
“Ok, that’s doable. What about the police?”
“We have an appointment with the lead detective in an hour. Peder is sending a car with tinted windows but I still want you to swaddle yourself like a mummy,” Eric instructed in his commanding tone. “Apparently the press is latching on to this story like vultures. I will meet you at the underground parking at the station.”
Sookie did as instructed and shrouded herself as much as possible. She met Peder in the car and found him to be very open and truthful. Eric had been right in trusting him and she was finally able to relax some after the morning’s sudden events. Peder confided in her he was a childhood friend of Eric’s and had accidentally recognised him a few years ago. Ever since he had been helping Eric where possible.
When they approached the underground parking garage Sookie ducked her head between her legs as instructed while the car was bathed in a barrage of flashlights. As promised Eric was waiting for her and she quickly latched on to him as they entered the building. Sookie was boiling up by the time she sat down in the detective’s office and finally got rid of her improvised disguise of woollen shawls.
“I apologise for the press’ scrutiny of your person, Ms. Tilbury,” the detective offered while putting down the glass of water in front of her. “We do not get many sensational crimes like this here in Stockholm.”
“I guess it can’t be helped,” Sookie replied politely. “Please call me Susanna.”
“Then you must call me Björn,” he smiled at her encouragingly. Sookie couldn’t help note how polite and friendly everyone at the police station had been. When she thought of detective Andy Bellefleur back in her hometown of Bon Temps she doubted he would be so courteous to a Swedish girl tied up in a murder investigation.
After the detective had set up the recording equipment Sookie told her version of the evening’s events and Peder had supplied the detectives with time stamped CCTV stills of Sookie arriving back in Eric’s building absolving her of further investigation.
Her interview was nearly done when Björn’s demeanour became more serious. “Now Susanna please know that whatever you answer to the next question that you will not be persecuted for it. This has been prearranged by your lawyer.”
“Ok,” Sookie answered uncertain what to expect next, Peder merely gave her an encouraging look to alleviate any nerves.
“Did you partake in any illegal substances?” Björn asked sternly. It reminded Sookie of her Gran’s tone when she would interrogate Jason of exactly that when they were still teenagers.
“Gosh no. I don’t do drugs,” Sookie replied. “The closest I’ve been is an over the counter sleeping pill and that was a disaster. I fell over instantly.”
The detective smiled at her endearing retelling but he had to be thorough. Carefully he asked, “Are there any blank spots in the evening, periods of time you have a hard time remembering?”
Sookie thought hard at his question before she replied, “Well I drank quite a bit, more than I normally would. My memories are a little hazy, especially around the time we left from the first club to the second but I think I’ve retained all my memories. It’s hard to tell.”
He looked at her sympathetically, which Sookie found a strange reaction from the detective considering her answer. Recognition or scrutiny would be expected but not pity.
She looked towards Eric to see if he made any sense of it but with that Sookie realised she was the only person in the room that noticed the rage that was boiling under Eric’s stoic mask. However, she couldn’t understand what lay at the cause of it. Fearing that her frank retelling of the events of her seemingly innocent evening out that had her kissing another man had him furious with her.
“Would you object to a drug test to ascertain there are no illegal substances in your system?”
Despite the rage that seemed to be fuelling Eric her uncertainty had her seeking out his non-verbal guidance. “I think you should do it,” he spoke softly trying hard not to express his upset. Peder agreed with him without pause.
“I’m sure it’s fine then Björn,” Sookie offered as she started rolling up her sleeve.
“Ah no Susanna, you will have to go to the hospital for this. Perhaps you will need some other tests as well,” he spoke cautiously. Sookie frowned a little at the thought of more tests but she trusted Eric would guide her where necessary.
On their way to the hospital Peder and Eric were conversing in Swedish leaving Sookie to apathetically stare out the window into the grey skies above as she digested her time at the police station. Luckily they had been spared the onslaught of paparazzi with their exit but the driver had taken several diversions to avoid being followed as an extra precaution.
“Did I do something wrong?” Sookie finally asked when Peder and Eric had come to a terse silence.
“No you did very well,” Peder replied warmly. “We are both just worried for you.”
“Don’t,” Eric spoke with warning towards his childhood friend.
“Tell me,” Sookie demanded. Peder didn’t dare say any more so Sookie’s scrutiny travelled towards Eric.
He sighed knowing he owed her the truth even though he desperately wanted to shield her from it until it was no longer possible. He held her hand reassuringly as he spoke, “If certain trace amounts are found in your blood or urine they will insist to administer a rape kit. You have testified to not taking any illegal substances by choice. There are parts of the night you have no memory off.”
The blood drained from her face. Sookie looked more fearful now than the moment Eric had pointed a gun at her.
“No,” she whispered as Eric pulled her into his embrace where she quietly sobbed into his chest.
“We do not know anything for certain Susanna it could be nothing,” Peder offered hopefully. The optimism his personality carried had initially warmed the lawyer to Sookie but now she couldn’t care much for it.
“That’s very sweet of you Peder,” she sniffed as her manners refused to leave her even in face of such demoralising prospects. “But we both know the detective wouldn’t be looking at me with such pity if this isn’t what happened to Katrina.”
Peder didn’t deny her correct assessment, the public prosecutor had hinted exactly at that but he felt it unnecessary to upset his client needlessly.
Sookie was a nervous wreck as they administered the blood and urine test and took a hair sample. It became apparent to them both that someone had indeed slipped something into Sookie’s drink when her results came back accompanied by a female police officer. She informed Sookie it was in her best interest to administer the rape kit. Sookie didn’t hesitate to agree. The different tests took several hours to complete and Eric stayed with her when possible unfortunately protocol hardly allowed for his presence most of the time.
It was well past midnight when her doctor came back with conclusive results. Sookie had been lucky as there was no evidence of assault or sexual trauma. The dosage of GHB that had entered into her system had been high enough to disinhibit her sexually but not enough to cause black outs. The doctor commended her that she was able to resist her physical urges so well in such an involuntary state. Apparently holding on to her virginity for twenty-five years had proven a great preparation for that horrendous night.
After Eric informed Peder of the results Sookie practically skipped out of the hospital happily breathing in the cool night air.
“I don’t think I’ve ever felt so alive,” Sookie smiled up at the night sky, there wasn’t a cloud in sight as the heavens were filled with the sight of stars.
“Any special requests?” Eric asked thinking they should mark the occasion somehow, to bring some levity to the seemingly unending doom that had characterised the endless hours of the day and early evening.
“Well I know we should really down an entire bottle of Champagne in a swanky sky bar but I don’t want to see a drink for a long long time,” she said swinging her arm back and forth taking his arm with her with childish glee. “Just take me home, I want to cuddle up in your arms and sleep the day away.”
“Happy to oblige, min älskling,” he said in the same cheer. The happy expression she had carried had given him cause to move, to mark her as his, to move his lips to hers. However, he ended up meeting the air as she had stopped dead in her tracks standing a meter behind, her face etched with apprehension. Held up by his choice of words.
“I’m sorry,” Eric apologised thinking that the term of endearment was offending her, cursing himself for voicing what he called her in his mind. Thankfully the attempted kiss he had intended to plant on her had gone unnoticed. “I should not have used such a familiar term for you.”
“No, Eric it’s not your fault,” she corrected instantly. “It’s just he used those words, ‘happy to oblige’, when he tried to you know. They belonged to you and he ruined them.” Heavy tears had started falling from her eyes at the mere memory, the intent of the overly privileged couple so much more sinister than initially thought. That Katrina’s fate could have been hers.
He pulled her into his embrace again hoping to offer her some sanctuary. She leaned in without thought finding safety in the rhythmic beating of his chest.
“How did you do it?” Eric asked absent minded as he stroked the long tresses of her hair. “How were able to resist your body’s urges so well?”
Sookie looked up at him her eyes still glistening from her tear ducts’ efforts. She sniffed a little before she spoke, “Well as you undoubtedly know by now I’m very head strong.” He nodded with amusement at the double meaning of it. “Mostly it felt wrong, first because of Amelia and secondly… well secondly because of you.”
“Me?” he asked genuinely surprised.
“Yes, you,” she chided. “I promised you in Toronto another lifetime. I’m not there yet but I wasn’t gonna diminish that with some random hook up despite my body’s wishes.” He couldn’t stop the smile that was encroaching into his eyes.
“I’ll wait for you,” he said remembering her words of the early morning hours. “As long as it takes.” Her heart warmed at the reverence of his statement. Though she longed to kiss him properly she left it at a chaste kiss to his cheek.
“Thank you,” she whispered to his appreciative ear.
“And I’ll happily grant any of your body’s wishes while I wait,” he leered at her playfully distracting her of the severity of the previously spoken words. Sookie could only laugh disapprovingly at his antics.
They went home and as promised Sookie went to rest snuggled in Eric’s arms, per her body’s wishes of course, as they both savoured their unexpected good fortune at another bullet dodged.
Sookie was spared the full onset of the media’s coverage mostly in thanks to Peder’s efforts. The press hadn’t been able to identify her and lost interest with the police’s statement that she had no connections to the crime. Sookie had spent the day after returning from the hospital in the shower repeatedly washing her hair to eliminate the brown hair dye. She wasn’t back to her original colour but it was close enough.
The press had swiftly moved on to grainy stills of what appeared to be Amelia and Alcide fleeing the country on a ferry to Estonia. The speculation in the tabloids ran rampant with stories of satanic worshipping and orgies honouring Bacchus. Amelia being a known Wiccan didn’t help reign in the speculation.
Under Peder’s advisement Sookie stayed indoors as much as possible until the media storm died down. Luckily it would be Christmas in three weeks, which meant the Swedish press would revert back to their annual discussion on the American invasion on their traditional Christmas. In the meantime Eric had a hard time explaining to Sookie that watching Donald Duck cartoons on Christmas day was definitively a Swedish tradition.
It was on that same Christmas day that the story broke that Amelia and Alcide had been arrested while residing on a yacht in the south of France. Eric and Sookie had just exchanged gifts when detective Björn called to inform them before the media re-engaged in speculation again.
It had proven quite difficult for Sookie to shop for Eric’s gift as she had been mostly bound indoors. She had however discovered the pleasures of online shopping. Much to Eric’s delight Sookie had misjudged his size and the atrocious reindeer sweater would be returned. His wardrobe would remain decidedly black, navy and grey. He would, however, forever cherish the other gift she bought him. He had immediately put on the platinum chain with a small dented bullet as the pendant that rested by his heart. It was an edgy piece of jewellery but for them it held great significance that had nothing to do with fashion.
Eric had enlisted the help of Pam for Sookie’s present, which meant she had an abundance of items she didn’t really need. Most were to keep her teeth from chattering outside as the cold refused to settle in her Southern bones. The gift she cherished most was also the most inexpensive of the lot. It was a soft hand puppet of a wolf in sheep’s clothing that he had chanced upon when asking for directions in a touristic shop in the north of town. Inside it held a card with Eric’s distinctive handwriting.
Never a lamb.
Her eyes had spilled over with those three little words. To Sookie it symbolised her escape of Bill and Lorena’s plans but also Eric’s continued faith in her that even without his intervention she would not have fallen to their manipulations. At her attachment to the hand puppet Eric had taken to calling her Freki, after one of Odin’s pet wolves, whenever her thieving hands were sneaking food from his plate again. She was not all that happy with the nickname when he had explained that Geri and Freki were given all the food on the table while Odin just sustained himself on wine. She had taken even more mock offense when he noted that Freki’s name was derived from the Old Norse word for greedy.
It was a few days after New Year’s that Eric’s assumed murder theory was proven correct. He had speculated that Amelia and Alcide had upped the GHB dosage on Katrina after it seemed to prove ineffectual on Sookie. A medical complication would have caused her death to occur during rough sex. Indeed it had turned out that Katrina had an undiagnosed heart condition. Alcide had been choking her at the time and he and Amelia had immediately fled the scene through an unguarded back entrance after staging a break in. Alcide and Amelia were charged with sexual assault, manslaughter and a multitude of other charges.
Sookie’s statement and test results were enough to keep her from testifying in court. Due to the media scrutiny there were several other women who had come forward unaware how they were victimised who happily stepped up into the limelights. Sookie happily left them to it, content in her reclusion with Eric in his apartment.
Olle Lindquist’s death had been ruled an accidental suicide. Eric had initially ruled out foul play, as the only person who would be able to stage his death so accurately in the business would have been Talbot. Pam had confirmed to him that he had not left Russell’s side since she had arrived in Greece. His investigations into his uncle had proven to him that though his death had been a suicide it was not accidental.
The clues Eric found were small but significant. His most decisive evidence was his uncle’s detachment to Halina. While he visited dutifully at the same time each year for thirteen consecutive years he stopped taking her mail and diverted all care decisions to her trust suddenly. To the investigators of Olle’s case this was seen as an expected reaction to a further degenerating parent living far away from a man who was getting on in age himself. The investigators hardly had the time to spare pursuing their case load as it was. The investigation was quickly sealed up when the coroner deemed the death most likely accidentally induced.
Eric picked up the clues to confirm his suspicions with relative ease. His uncle’s internet browser’s history showed research in the specific lethal combination of over the counter medications and alcohol. Olle had cleared his history but had not manually removed the data which Eric had easily retrieved.
His presence in the nation’s capital was also off. The officials had blindly accepted his attendance to a model train convention. Eric had found no evidence of his uncle’s supposed ‘hobby’ in his home in Philadelphia. There wasn’t a single train related item in the house.
Lastly he discovered his uncle’s extensive will, that had instructions for his estate to go to a number of different carefully selected charities, had been replaced three years ago with a testament that left everything to his mother or her heirs if she was deceased before him. Considering he was the only known heir to his mother’s fortune it was a strange choice indeed.
In the past Eric had suspected his uncle as the initiator of the hit on his own family in an attempt to seize all the family’s fortunes. It was an easy theory to make in the early days. Since then he had dismissed the theory, as they would have been the actions of a man desperate for money and waiting out the death of Halina would be a lengthy process and another hit on her life would have incriminated him instantly as the only heir to a vast fortune. His uncle also showed no signs of any addictions or lacking in any funds, the primary motivators for such actions. There had been no strife in family relations even though Eric had seen little of the man in his own youth.
Olle had never married or engaged in any known relationships. He kept to himself, though his neighbours considered him polite and courteous. Eric had suspected his uncle might have been gay but uncomfortable to be defined by it in the conservative field of his profession.
Sookie had theorised that his death in Washington DC was significant; she even hypothesised that it was a message to Eric or Russell. To choose to end his life in Eric’s new hometown. Though Eric found no evidence of it, he assumed his uncle’s suicide was a decision to take control in lieu of his death at the hands of another.
Eric had discovered one of his uncle’s university friends was now teaching international law at the University in Stockholm. It had been one of Sookie’s rare outings during her seclusion period. Sookie had pretended to be one of his students and had probed the man under the guise that Olle Lindquist had been a good friend of her grandfather’s.
Professor Holmström shared Eric’s ambiguity on Olle’s sexuality but had never seen it confirmed one way or the other. He had regaled some stories over some mischief they had gotten themselves into. Sookie regretted that Eric never got to know the man when they seemed to live so close to each other. He seemed such a likeable person from the stories of the professor.
When Sookie probed for specific information relating to any Americans she discovered Olle had spent one summer with his mother and an unknown American sailing the Mediterranean after his second year of university.
Olle Lindquist’s life was expressed through a quiet sense of dignity and unremarkable events. Aside from the summer in the Mediterranean there were no significant leads for further investigation.
Halina had offered little insight in her rare moments of awareness either. Now that Sookie was blonde again Halina had taken a greater liking to her. Whenever Eric was perceived as her son in law, Ulfrick, he received the brunt of her temper but he enjoyed her company nonetheless.
Goderick had proven useful again when he revealed to Sookie that Halina had confided in him once that the family cabin in Gotland was still in her mother’s name. Halina’s mother hadn’t been all that fond of her son in law either. The cabin had been a wedding present but Halina’s mother had refused to put the deeds in her son in law’s name. Halina had equally refused to put the cabin in her name without her husband’s by its side so it had never changed ownership.
When Halina’s mother passed she had snubbed Eric’s grandfather for the last time in her will where she had disallowed her son in law ownership of the cabin through a maze of legal measures. Halina in her anger had put the title deed of the cabin in the name of Pippi Longstockings Ltd.
When she relayed the amusing story back to Eric she hadn’t realised it was of any significance until he had disappeared into his cave only to resurface minutes later. The documents he had unearthed showed that the cabin had never been listed as part of her holdings when Olle and the trust took up her guardianship.
“You never noticed it was missing from the inventory?” Sookie asked surprised, Eric never missed the smallest of details.
“No,” he replied. Though this information was only raising more questions Sookie immediately recognised the excitement it unearthed in Eric’s eyes. “I never knew there was a family cabin in Gotland.”
“Maybe she sold it?”
“Perhaps. I will have to look into my great-grandmother’s will to chart the passing of ownerships.”
“Is there some sort of registry?”
“Not for wills, but there is for property and land rights,” he replied.
“The safe deposit box?” she offered remembering it held a whole set of official looking documents that Eric had taken little interest in beyond a quick scan.
“Yes, it’s time to pull out Pernille again,” he grinned as she was already waving the identification papers of that identity in her hands.
Much to Eric’s relief a copy of the will was residing in the safe deposit box. He took the whole stack of papers with him this time even if most looked to be uninteresting. The property address had been listed and a quick check on the Lantmäteriet website confirmed it was still in the name of Pippi Longstock Ltd.
After investigating through several legal loopholes with the help of Peder Falk, Eric managed to trace the ownership of Pippi Longstock Ltd. to a holding company in Gibraltar. The contact person for the holding company was none other than Desmond Cataliades. There was no paper trail but Eric could only assume that this was tied to his grandmother’s secret secondary trust.
When Eric had met with Desmond Cataliades through the introduction of Sophie Anne Leclerq he had quickly assessed that he was the kind of lawyer you hired when you needed to bury your tracks. His nickname ‘the demon’ had little to do with an affinity for speed. No it was related to his lack of questioning of morals and his own scheming wiles. Despite his profession he never stood in a courthouse, his legal services were more akin to a notary service for the criminal underworld.
The lawyer specialised in setting up frameworks to skirt the legal extents of the law to retain anonymity and limit detectability. His clients were rich, very rich. The wealth may have been accumulated legally or not; Cataliades was indiscriminate to its origins. Money talked. Eric had discovered that first hand when meeting the lawyer. He had to retain his legal services to receive any information on his grandmother’s trust.
The only area that Cataliades was discriminate with was in the manner of contracting clients. One only became a customer of the lawyer through the recommendation of two existing contacts. Sophie Anne’s close relation as his goddaughter had given Eric access through just the one.
Professionally the lawyer would not have been allowed to reveal any information on his clients. Desmond Cataliades however subscribed to his own set of rules. Silence was bought not warranted. Whoever paid the most got what they wanted.
Halina’s trusts had been set up when she had first been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She had set up a different trust in Sweden to manage her day to day affairs, where her two children and a professional trust manager acted as the trustees. With Desmond Cataliades she had set up a secondary trust. Halina had apparently been shrewd when talking to the demon; she gave specific instruction but never motivated her choices. She was well aware the lawyer excelled at what she required of him but that his lips were for sale. Thus she kept hers tightly sealed in his presence, revealing only what was necessary.
The only information that Cataliades had been able to relay to Eric was that the trust’s existence was only to be revealed upon Halina’s death and would then be taken over by the Swedish trust.
As much as Cataliades’s silence could be bought or sold the contents of his files were not. Eric had considered flying Sookie in to probe the lawyer however the presence of Sophie Anne hindered it at the time. He had set up an appointment when Cataliades would be in Monaco in a few weeks’ time where the demon was set to visit a few of his discerning Russian clientele. Eric reasoned he would be able to bring Sookie along at such time, without the risk of exposing her to Sophie Anne.
That was two weeks away from now giving them plenty of time to investigate the cabin in Gotland. Chances were they wouldn’t find anything of interest there but at this point they could leave no stone left unturned. Eric had spared no time in booking two tickets to the large touristic island an hour’s flight away to the south of Stockholm.
Sookie had trailed the Internet in search of accommodation near the cabin finally convincing Eric of a small guesthouse that resembled Villa Villekulla. She only found it fitting, considering that the cabin was in Pippi Longstocking’s name. He preferred the anonymity of a hotel seeing that they would be breaking into the cabin. However, the hotels on the island would be deserted in the midst of winter so it was hardly going to offer more cover than a small inn.
They arrived at the guesthouse in the late evening in their rental car. The proprietor introduced herself as Babette Frisk. She was dressed in all black with a white lace shrug over her shoulders.
“You two are newly married?” she asked with a genteel smile when Eric was filling in the forms required to check in.
“Gosh no. Eric and I aren’t married,” Sookie uttered before Eric could intervene.
“I am sorry I cannot keep your reservation then,” she replied her face kind face instantly clouding over to a judgemental one. Sookie was at a loss what had just happened fearing she had unknowingly offended the woman somehow.
“Perhaps you have a room with separate beds?” Eric tried knowing full well the women’s dress represented her to be a pious Lutheran and the source of her discrimination.
“I can offer you two single rooms which share a bathroom,” she said with a discerning look.
“Fine,” Eric replied his annoyance not reserved in his tone. “We will leave tomorrow don’t bother with breakfast.” He grabbed the keys from the woman’s hand not wanting anything to do with her as Sookie merely trailed behind his swiftly departing form with confusion.
When they settled in to their rooms Eric had explained the reason for their separate sleeping arrangements and their need to seek out new accommodations the next day. The elderly woman could not in good conscious of her religion allow unmarried people to cohabitate together. Sookie had nearly lost it at the incredulousness of it; she had considered her native South as deeply conservative but had not expected to meet it here. Apparently as liberal and atheistic as most Swedes were it seemed that the religious resided on the edge of extremism in contrast.
They brushed their teeth side by side and bid each other an awkward goodnight in the bathroom that separated their sleeping quarters. Neither one content with the prospect of sleeping alone.
In spite of the late hour and tire of the travel Eric found it difficult to succumb to sleep. The prospect of what the cabin could reveal kept his mind overly active. Despite his extensive research over the years, the evidence he had gathered with the help of Sookie in the shortened time period had him more successful at finding a motive than ever before. However, a smoking gun was still sorely lacking. His hope was small, but he kept it alive nonetheless that the cabin would provide a new insight. He was going through the various scenarios again when he heard a creak coming from the bathroom door accompanied with a sharp shaft of light creeping into the room.
“Eric are you asleep?” Sookie whispered into the darkness of his room.
“No. What are you doing here?” he asked as he heard her feet pad over the wooden boards in the darkness.
“I can’t sleep. Can I lie with you for a bit?” He pulled the covers up in response and she quickly slid in beside him as they barely managed to squeeze together on the single bed.
“I can’t believe we ended up under the roof of Sweden’s only religious nut,” Sookie huffed out in annoyance as she curled up into his chest.
“I think we can safely say Mrs Frisk is hardly frisky,” Eric noted dryly. She laughed at his terrible attempt at a joke though she could find little humour in their situation.
“Can I stay here? I mean you don’t have to. I know it’s cramped…”
“Stop rambling. I’ll never say no to you sleeping in my arms, but I can’t be held accountable for your safety. Here put your head on my arm,” he indicated by pulling her waist towards him so they were both moderately comfortable and securely held within the bed.
“Thank you Eric,” she said as she placed a soft kiss on his bicep and exhaled a contented sigh.
“You’re welcome,” he replied as he kissed the top of her head inhaling the ocean breeze that still lingered in her hair.
A/N: We’ll pick up next time exactly where we left off. Hopefully within a week or two at most.
Thanks to whoever made sacrifices to the WiFi gods on my holiday address, it is still holding strong. I hope it was Noomi or Sarah N. (now that she’s cured Eric her number is up as far as I’m concerned, preferably before Bill changes his mind) and no cute little lambs were harmed.
I am still officially on holidays so updates will come when they come. I am sticking to the order in which I usually release them so Bonfire of the Vanities will be the next to receive an update sometime this week… It’s Already Gone will be updated on Sunday as usual.