“Hi, Gran,” I said when she picked up the phone. It was just after dinnertime in Louisiana. Eric and I were on the train to Berlin.
“Oh, hi, sweetie. How’s your trip so far?”
“It’s good. I’m on a train so I hope I don’t lose you,” I said.
“I hope not too. I talked to your brother,” she told me. “He mentioned something about a traveling companion? A young man you found?”
“His name is Eric and yes, he’s traveling with me. We met in Ireland,” I told her.
“I would have liked to hear that from you, young lady,” she gently scolded. “Is he on a similar journey, or is he from Ireland?”
“Well if Jason didn’t have such a big mouth I would have told you,” I said. “Eric’s from Sweden but he lives in Ireland. He owns a pub on the outskirts of Dublin in an old, converted pub.”
“That sounds lovely,” she replied. “I just worry about you; I assume you trust this fella?”
“I do. He’s been very good to me so far, Gran,” I assured her. “He’s a little bit older so he’s not trying to get me to go bar hopping with him.”
“That’s good. I trust your judgement. How was Amsterdam? I hear pot smoking is legal there. Did you try any?”
“It is under certain conditions and yes, I did,” I admitted.
“You know I’m not upset with you, right? You’re young and I know you’re not going to do anything dumb,” Gran chuckled. “I’m glad you get to experience all of this.”
“Me too, Gran. I’m having a good time. You’d like Eric a lot. He’s teachin’ me a little Swedish and I’m teachin’ him redneck,” I laughed.
Gran laughed with me and said, “Heaven help us all. It’s a scary thought to make European rednecks.”
“There are rednecks in Ireland,” I told her. “I talked to a lady who said Irish rednecks live further north instead of south.”
“I see,” she chuckled. “It’s fascinating to learn these things. I wish I could have come with you.”
“Me too. I promise I’ve taken tons of pictures and I’ve got a few videos too. I got one of the changing of the guard in London.”
“Oh, I can’t wait to see that!” she exclaimed. “I expect to see some pictures of this gentleman you’re traveling with too.”
“You will,” I promised. “He’s tall, got blonde hair and the prettiest, most expressive blue eyes I’ve ever seen.”
“I think you should send me an email with a picture,” Gran chuckled. “I can show him to the girls at church and tell them he’s your European lover,” she joked.
“You wouldn’t be lyin’,” I mumbled.
“I heard that,” she said. “I would like to see him, if you have any pictures. He sounds delightful. And who doesn’t like a tall Swedish man?”
“I can email you a picture as soon as we get off the phone,” I offered. “He’s taking a nap or I’d let you talk to him. He’s heard a lot about you.”
“That will be wonderful. I hope its all good things,” she said.
“Of course. I miss you,” I told her.
“I miss you too, sweetie,” she replied.
“I don’t want to wake Eric up, so I’m gonna be going, but I’ll call you once we’re settled in at the hotel,” I said.
“Alright. Enjoy the rest of your train ride. I love you.”
“I love you too. Goodnight.” I hung up and searched for a good picture of Eric. I found one of him on a canal tour in Amsterdam and attached it to an email. So Gran could see the height difference between Eric and me, I also included a picture from a castle in Aberdeen, Scotland.
Eric had his head in my lap and he was stretched out on the cushy bench seat. The train jostled us as it moved quickly through German countryside. It was pitch dark outside and I was ready to go to sleep.
“Eric,” I rubbed his shoulder.
“Mmm?” he hummed.
“Let’s go to bed,” I whispered. I didn’t think we’d fit on one bed but Captain Snugglebutt was going to try to make it happen.
His massive hand shot up to tug my arm. “Get down here,” he whispered, lifting his head some.
“I don’t think we’ll fit here.”
“Why not?” he asked, tugging me again.
“Because we’re too much people for a little bench.”
“Oh.” His eyes finally blinked open. “Top or bottom?”
“I don’t care.” I brushed his hair back.
“I’ll stay here,” he said. Eric grabbed my hand to give me a sweet kiss on my palm.
“Are you sure?”
“Aye.” He didn’t say much when he was sleepy.
“Okay.” I carefully got up and leaned over to kiss him softly. I moved across the car and lay down on the bottom bunk. It wasn’t the most comfortable bed but it would do. I was about halfway asleep when Eric stretched out behind me.
He kissed the back of my head as he held me tight.
“Snuggle thief,” I whispered.
“I’m gettin’ ‘em while I can,” he whispered back.
“You’re cute.” I pulled his hand up between my boobs.
“So are you.” His arm tightened against my chest.
We both went quiet and fell asleep in a few minutes.
“I have a morbid thought.” Eric and I were standing in the middle of a square. People were all over taking pictures or playing with their children.
“Care to share it?”
“You ever wonder if we’re standing where someone died?” I asked him.
“That is pretty morbid. Honestly, most likely.”
“It’s a terribly depressing thought, I know.”
“We all have them from time to time,” he replied as he wrapped his arm around my shoulder.
“I always thought I’d die young,” I confessed as I watched a little boy chase a balloon. “I used to have this dream that I died in childbirth. Gran said it’s just my brain trying to deal with my fear of failure, but what if it’s foreshadowing?”
“Have any of your other dreams come true?” he asked me.
“A few,” I said quietly. “Well, part of them. I’d get this déjà vu feeling and then I remember I saw or did something in a dream once. I got that feeling in Edinburgh when you kissed me in the garden.”
“Do you remember the dream that came from? And if you’re scared, maybe you should adopt?”
I smiled and said, “All I remember is looking at this beautiful garden and all of the gorgeous purple flowers. They looked so vibrant against all the green, you know? Then there were hands on my hips and of course when I turned my head there was no face to focus on, but I remember the way that dream kiss made me feel.”
“Are you sayin’ I’m your dream man?” Eric grinned.
“I guess I am,” I laughed.
“You know, sometimes I think I met you for a reason. I can’t say what that reason is, but I do believe that.”
“I say good sex,” I replied.
“Probably,” he laughed.
“You mark my words; as soon as I go home you’ll meet your lobster and settle down. Someday I’ll just be some crazy girl you got high with in Amsterdam,” I told him.
“No, you’ll always be the pretty American girl that made me take a damn vacation,” he chuckled. “You’re going to be a very fond memory, Sookie.”
I blinked back tears at that. I was doing my best not to get too emotionally invested in him or the fling we had going on, but I did like him. I knew I was going to miss him when I had to go home.
“You too.” I wiped a stray tear off my cheek and cleared my throat.
“Oooh, none of that,” he said, turning me into his arms for a tight hug. “You’re going to forget me before you even step foot on American soil.”
“Shut up,” I said as I hugged him back.
“Nope, it’s the truth. You’re going to look back at your pictures and try to figure out who the blonde giant is hoggin’ up all your pictures.”
“Shut. Up.” I squeezed him tighter. It took a minute for me to figure out why I was so damn emotional all of a sudden. Then I remembered Aunt Flo was on her way to town. That bitch always made me a weepy mess for a good thirty-six hours.
Which reminds me I need chocolate…
“So you can forget me sooner?” he teased.
“Ugh, never mind.” I let go of him and pushed Eric away. “Let’s keep walking.”
“Okay…” He looked confused, but stayed quiet after that to follow me as I started to walk away.
When we got to a grocery store I went straight to the Ritter Sport display. I didn’t care if I blew my entire Berlin allowance on candy as long as some of that chocolate was crammed into my face hole in the next five minutes.
“You want any?” I asked as I dropped three candy bars with hazelnuts in them into my basket.
“No thanks. I’m going to look around,” he told me.
“Okay.” I grabbed some dark chocolate and then some chocolate dipped wafer cookies that looked like they were begging to be eaten. I needed peanut butter cups– Nutella!
I put the biggest jar I could find in my basket. All I needed was a spoon.
When we met at the front of the store Eric gave me a strange look.
“Nothin’,” he shrugged. “I didn’t know you like German chocolate so much.”
“Chocolate is chocolate,” I replied.
“Okay.” Eric smiled at me as he settled his hand on my lower back.
A massage would be nice…
I paid a small fortune for the candy and then we headed back to the hotel. I kicked off my sandals and lay down on the bed. All of a sudden I was exhausted. It was ridiculous how I seemed to be all seven dwarfs at the same time the week before I got my period.
I didn’t know what the heck was going on with Sookie. Her moods were shifting like gears on a car. Part of me wanted to get away and leave her alone, but the other part was scared she would flip out if I suddenly left.
“Do you want me to go pick up dinner?” I asked as a way to get out. I needed some advice. I didn’t like talking on the phone in front of Sookie. I usually talked about things that were confidential anyway.
“I’m not really hungry, but if you are, go ahead.” Sookie rolled over and grabbed a chocolate bar from one of her bags. She had to have bought more than a dozen of them.
“Okay. I’ll probably pick you up something just in case.” I walked over to kiss Sookie’s forehead.
“I’ll be here.”
With my phone in hand I walked out of the hotel room. I didn’t know what I wanted to eat, but I was sure I could find something. As soon as I was out of the hotel I pulled up Pam’s number and hit send.
“Ravenscroft,” she answered.
“I have a very moody girl in the hotel room and I don’t know what to do,” I said. “I’m not used to being around one woman this long.”
Pam snickered. “Get used to jerking off again for a week,” she told me. “Unless you want to surf the crimson wave with her.”
“Uh… no,” I cringed. “Is that all it is? She also bought out a whole section of chocolate.” I didn’t have a problem with no sex. I liked Sookie enough to be around her without it.
“Most likely. Be a good bloke and give her a massage. It’ll get you head in return,” she told me. “Unless the wee miss isn’t terribly brilliant at it and you’re not interested.”
“Oh, she’s fantastic at giving head,” I informed Pam. “Just a massage? For some reason I want to make this trip good for her. And shut up, I like her, a lot.”
“She’s got a code name here you know,” Pam teased.
“What might that be?” I was almost scared to know. I had a feeling Molly snagged a couple pictures of us on the train to Scotland.
“You’re an ass,” I chuckled. “I wish you were more human, it’d be nice to share some of the things I liked about her with you,” I teased.
“I’m plenty human. I can’t be blamed for mocking your ignorance. That’s your own bloody fault.”
“Right,” I sighed. “Any suggestions for food for her?”
“I haven’t the slightest idea what she wants Eric. We’re not all the same, you know,” Pam said like I should know better.
“I don’t know. I don’t get close to women,” I reminded her. “Maybe I should call her Gran,” I laughed. I was sure Adele would get a kick out of the Swirish man callin’ her.
“Yes, it is the dream of every grandmother to be asked for how to deal with premenstruation by her granddaughter’s booty call,” Pam said dryly.
“She seems like she would,” I shrugged. Sookie had some interesting stories about Adele.
“I know,” I sighed too. “I’ll figure something out.”
“While I have you, is there any new information on Madden?”
“His most trusted associate was gunned down in Belfast early this morning. Whispers are Brendean is responsible,” she told me.
“Keep me posted on what you learn. If I need to I can miss a few days and run back to Ireland.” I didn’t want to, but I would.
“Nan’s going into the field–” Pam stopped talking. “I’ll ring you later.” The line went dead.
I tucked my phone into my pocket and started to walk the streets of Berlin. I hadn’t spent much time in Germany, but enough countries spoke the language that I picked up a few words here and there before I decided to learn it. As I walked I ran across a restaurant that boasted American fare. Sookie had eaten a lot of local food. I was sure she could use some good American comfort food. I had gotten a pretty good idea of what she liked. It was also my job to study people. I knew Sookie a lot better than she probably expected.
I walked in and I ordered quite a few things I was sure she’d enjoy. I got a Caesar salad, chicken wings, chili cheese fries, and a club sandwich for myself and a New York cheesecake with a chocolate sauce on the side.
I walked back into the hotel about an hour after I left with food in hand.
“I found a New York style restaurant,” I told her. “I thought maybe some American food would be nice.”
“Okay.” Sookie was curled up on her side, hugging a pillow.
I set the food down and kicked off my shoes. Pam said to give her a massage. I pulled my shirt off as well and lay down on the bed behind her. I stayed quiet as I started to rub her lower back. I made sure to keep it semi-light. I pressed a little harder on her spine, and I was pretty happy she didn’t just push me away.
“Thank you,” she said quietly.
“You don’t have to thank me,” I replied just as quietly. It was what a real man that actually cared about a girl should do… fuckin’ emotions.
I slowly moved my hand up her back, staying close to her spine. Sookie hugged the pillow a little tighter as I moved out to work on her muscles. If nothing else, it was good practice for when I quit the business and found a lady I liked as much as I liked Sookie.
“That feels so good,” she whispered.
“Good,” I whispered back. “I’m sorry I can’t be more help.”
“This is good enough.”
I kissed the back of her head. We stayed quiet there on the bed for a while as I rubbed her back. Eventually my stomach got the better of me. A loud growl rumbled out, I was sure Sookie could hear it.
“I think my stomach is gettin’ mad at me,” I chuckled.
“Go eat. I’m okay here.”
“Okay.” I kissed her head again. I got up to eat and said, “I picked up some chicken wings and chili fries for you if you want them at some point. I got a Caesar salad and cheesecake too… with some chocolate sauce.”
I took a seat at the little table in the room so I could pull my sandwich out. It wasn’t the best I’d ever had, but it was decent. Sookie flipped on the TV while I ate. She couldn’t understand anything, but I think she needed the noise. We hadn’t watched a lot of TV on the trip. Again, I think it was something soothing for her.
After I ate I cleaned up my mess. I put Sookie’s food in the fridge and went to the bathroom to get ready for bed. Once I brushed my teeth and had my sweats on I climbed back onto the bed with Sookie. She turned over and wrapped around me. I continued to gently rub her back, hoping it helped. I wasn’t used to being around a woman, but again, I knew how to read people and with Pam’s help I figured out how to keep her comfortable. I liked taking care of someone. It really was good practice.
“Northman,” I answered. Sookie and I were walking around the Anne Frank Zentrum exhibition the next day. I knew it was Pam, and I probably didn’t want to hear what she wanted to tell me.
“Nan cocked up,” she said with epic amounts of irritation in her voice. “I swear she thinks with her dick too much. Now she’s in a trauma center in Belfast under armed guard with a tracheotomy that may never come out. Oh, and she can’t feel her legs.”
“Shit,” I hissed, making Sookie look back at me. “I’m scared to ask for anymore details.” I knew that meant I had to go back to Ireland. Fuck.
“I’m emailing them to you now along with a flight confirmation. I need you back in Dublin stat so you can link up with the Berts,” she said. If they were bringing in the Berts, shit was about to get ugly.
“When does the flight leave?” I needed to know how quickly to get back to the hotel to get my shit.
“Nine-forty in the evening,” Pam told me. “Sophie-Anne wanted you on the five-fifteen.”
“Short of learning to teleport that wouldn’t have been possible,” I sighed. It was getting later in the afternoon. Sookie was giving me a concerned look. I wasn’t sure how she was going to feel about me leaving, but I had work to do.
“Plus I’m sure you have to say goodbye to Lolita,” Pam teased. “I’ll be waiting for you in Dublin. My rack’s not as nice but you’ll live with it.” That didn’t mean I didn’t want to touch Pam’s rack.
“You’re a dick,” I said, giving Sookie a sympathetic look.
“What’s wrong?” Sookie whispered.
“I’m the best handler you’ll ever have. Ta.” Pam hung up. She loved getting the last word.
I tucked my phone away in my pocket.
“I have to fly back to Dublin tonight,” I sighed.
“Is everything okay? Did something happen to the pub?” She looked disappointed and worried at the same time.
“Aye, there was a fight in the pub and one of the people in the fight was hurt badly. She’s in the hospital,” I told her. It was only a partial lie. “I need to go home and deal with the authorities and her family.”
“That’s awful. I’m sorry. How long will you… I might not see you anymore.” Her pretty eyes welled up.
“None of that,” I whispered as I pulled her in for a hug. “You aren’t leaving Europe without seein’ me again. I have your itinerary. If I don’t get back before you leave Berlin, I’ll meet you in one of your other destinations.”
Sookie nodded but said, “I’d like that but it’s possible this is it. You have a business and a life to live in Ireland. I knew this day would come but I didn’t think it would be today.”
I looked her in her eye and told her, “Today is not goodbye, Sookie. I will re-join you on this trip. If for any reason I can’t, I’ll hunt down your little no horse town and sneak into your bedroom to kiss your pretty face.”
“That’s a lot of work for just a kiss,” she said with a little smile.
“I think you underestimate how much I like kissin’ you,” I replied with a similar smile.
Her small, warm hands cupped my face. Sookie pushed herself up and kissed me. I didn’t care that we were in the middle of a museum. I wrapped my arms around her and didn’t hold back when I kissed her. My tongue slipped into her mouth as I started to dip her back some. Sookie was young, but she really was a natural. She was a fantastic kisser, to me anyway.
“Want to come with me to pack?” I whispered when I pulled back, resting my forehead on hers.
“Yes. How soon do you leave?” She pecked my lips and ignored the people passing by us.
“My flight leaves at nine-forty,” I told her.
She nodded again and whispered, “Meet me in Stockholm.” That was in a little more than a week.
“Deal. I have so many things I want to show you there,” I smiled. My hands were on her hips, gently massaging her.
She sniffled and said, “Urinate. I’m a ten but urinate.”
“Du lyser upp min värld,” I whispered. I knew she had no idea what it meant, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to tell her.
“What does that mean?”
“Do you really want to know?” I asked, brushing her hair back.
“Of course I do. Do you not want me to?”
“It’s hard for me to talk about feelings,” I told her. “I’m not supposed to have any feelings for you, ya know?”
“I just cried because you have to leave. Don’t puss out.”
I chuckled and said, “I told you that you light up my world, Sookie.”
She smiled at me and then wrapped her arms around my neck. When I hugged her back she wrapped her legs around me too.
“Find me in Stockholm. Promise me,” she said.
“I promise. I also promise to call you every day, okay?”
“Come on. I need to pack,” I sighed. I wanted to leave my bags with her to prove that I was coming back. That wouldn’t be fair to her though.
Sookie slid down my body but she laced her fingers with mine as we left the museum. It was going to be a shitty week. I just hoped I would stay busy enough that I didn’t notice the time pass. I was going to miss the hell out of her, but I was also already planning things for us to do in Stockholm.