A/N: Guess what Santa left for you all under my tree? A new chapter of Comfortably Numb—written by the non-angst elves (though I had to go in and add just a touch). The elves and I hope you enjoy!
Chapter 57: Much Needed
To say that Sookie had been nervous when AirBerlin Flight 7289 took off from JFK Airport would have been an understatement. However, when the plane met with substantial turbulence as it made its way over the Atlantic Ocean, her fear quadrupled, and the flight attendant had to warn her more than once not to crawl completely into Eric’s lap.
To help allay her fears, Eric had allowed Sookie to use his body as a security blanket when she needed to hold onto him. In fact, he’d been more than happy to oblige—despite the fact that she’d left several faint bruises on his arm from where she’d gripped him tightly as the plane shuddered through the rough air. Thankfully, their second flight after a short layover in Berlin was much smoother, and the pair had even fallen asleep as they’d leaned into each other during the second—and last—leg of their trip.
Now—as they moved through customs—Eric grinned as Sookie’s face lit up when she received the first stamp in her passport.
“Gothenburg, Sweden,” she read proudly, showing him the little booklet as they moved beyond the security checkpoint. They’d flown into the second largest city in Sweden—instead of Stockholm—since Gothenburg was the closest international airport to Elsa Larsson’s home.
He chuckled a little. “Gothenburg was my first stamp too; I got it when I was six.”
Sookie’s face fell a little. “Did you have to fly alone?” She shuddered a little at the thought.
Eric took a breath. “Yeah, I remember being a little nervous at first, but I got used to it, and the flight attendants looked after me. I read The Hobbit and got all the orange soda I asked for.”
Sookie smiled. “Orange soda—huh?”
His smile returned as well. “Yep. I used to love it, and I only ever got it on airplanes.”
“You didn’t get one today?” she teased.
He chuckled. “Nope. You were all the sweet I needed.”
She rolled her eyes playfully. “You’re cheesy, Mr. Northman.”
He tickled her side a little.
She quickly moved away from his marauding fingers, but he grabbed her hand to bring her back to him before placing a quick kiss onto her forehead.
“Come on,” he said. “Let’s go get our bags.”
Sookie’s smile faded and she immediately tensed up.
“Hey,” Eric said, catching her chin and lifting it gently. “Mormor is going to love you.”
She bit her lip nervously. “You think?”
She rewarded his reassuring words with a kiss to his cheek before her eyebrows furrowed again. “Okay. But aren’t you worried about what our two grandmothers have been up to—especially after their texts last night? And then there was Pam’s text!”
Eric frowned a little. “Yeah. I just hope that Pam didn’t corrupt them too much.”
“They were both drunk texting, Eric,” Sookie said flatly. “I think it’s too late for wishing that.”
“I’m well aware, min älskare,” Eric said with a little chuckle.
Adele Stackhouse had arrived in Gothenburg the day before, and to avoid having to drive back and forth to Lidköping, because they couldn’t be talked out of meeting Sookie and Eric’s plane, the two grandmothers had decided to get to know each other by spending the day—and, apparently, most of the night—together in Gothenburg. Elsa and Adele had “gotten on like a house afire,” according to one of Gran’s “tamer” texts to Sookie.
Pam had encouraged the two elderly women to go to PUSH, a popular nightclub in Gothenburg. Apparently, the grandmothers were something of a “hit” with the much younger crowd, especially the “young gentlemen,” and spurred on by Pam—no doubt—the older women had danced and flirted and drank the night away.
At 6:00 p.m. the previous evening—which had been 11:00 in Gothenburg—Eric had received his first text from Mormor. She’d asked him if it would be seen as impolite if she turned down a young gentleman who had offered to give her a Screaming Orgasm.
About a minute later, Gran had texted Sookie wondering if Sex on the Beach was acceptable nowadays—since it was frowned upon in her day.
Having been in the middle of their own mind-blowing sex—though it hadn’t been on a beach—Sookie and Eric hadn’t immediately picked up their phones. However, after a ‘screaming orgasm’ or two of their own, they had checked their phones as they finished packing. By that point, they’d missed several messages from their grandmothers, in which they’d mentioned progressively naughtier drink names. Pam had also texted them both to say that she now had hope for her own old age because Adele and Elsa were well on their way to seducing men who could have been their great-grandchildren.
After reading that, Sookie and Eric had both immediately called their grandmothers, who had answered their phones giggling like schoolgirls. It had taken them all a little while to realize that Adele had actually answered Elsa’s phone and vice versa. Pam had finally commandeered one of the phones and had assured Eric and Sookie that their grandmothers would get back to the hotel with their virtues intact—even if she had to drag them kicking and screaming.
When Pam had abruptly hung up—on both Eric and Sookie—neither of them had felt very reassured. And, as they walked toward baggage claim hand in hand, they both wondered about the state they’d find their grandmothers in.
Adele Stackhouse and Elsa Larsson were a study in contrasts in some ways, but in others they were exactly alike.
Adele had been raised to be a genteel Southern belle. She was naturally charming, and having manners was second nature to her. She had a smile for everyone she liked—and an even brighter smile for anyone she disliked. She always had tea and lemonade—as well as freshly-made cookies or sweetbread—ready for anyone who came by for a visit. And she was an old pro at making a tasty mint julep, which meant that she was visited often, especially by Sid Matt Lancaster, who came “courting” about once a week.
Like her contemporary, Elsa also had perfect manners, but hers were of a decidedly different ilk. She’d been born in Stockholm, but had moved with her diplomat father and mother to England when she was only two years old. There she had stayed through her early twenties; thus, when she spoke English, it was with a perfect British accent. Though not from a particularly wealthy family, Elsa’s father’s diplomat status had ensured that she attended the best schools—including the best finishing school—that Britain had to offer. If need be, Elsa Larsson could serve tea to the queen of England without breaking a sweat—though she would certainly prefer to spend an afternoon with the handsome Prince William, as opposed to the queen.
However, the two contrasted quite a bit in appearance. While Adele wore looser clothing and had let her gray hair have its way, Elsa was highly tailored, and her short hair was kept blonde. And when Elsa Larsson went to town, she was sure to wear her best. Of course, in that circumstance, Adele Stackhouse was the same, and she had arrived in Gothenburg in her best Sunday outfit and looking “fit as a fiddle,” despite her long flights and her two-hour layover in Istanbul.
Recognizing a kindred spirit, each woman had liked the other from the start. Adele had arrived in the early afternoon, and they’d decided to go check into the hotel so that Adele could rest from her flight; however, the two grandmothers had spent the afternoon talking—while Pam had gone shopping. The elderly matrons could empathize with each other since they’d both outlived a husband that they didn’t want to live without.
They’d also bonded over the fact that their financial circumstances had changed after their husbands’ deaths. Both women’s incomes had become more fixed, though they were doing okay for themselves, partially because of their grandchildren. Elsa shared that Eric had made sure that she would continue to get a small percentage of the profits from the division of Northman Publishing that used to be her husband’s company. And Adele shared that Sookie always sent her several hundred dollars each month—just to make sure that she didn’t have to dip into her savings.
Most of all, however, they’d bonded over their worry for their grandchildren. By the time their conversation was over, Adele had known all about Appius’s forcing Eric into the paternity test, something that Elsa had learned from Peder. And Elsa had learned something of Sookie’s childhood with Michelle.
Both grandmothers agreed that they probably didn’t know even half of the details about the pain and suffering experienced by their grandchildren, and neither of them was really sure she wanted to know. They shared their guilt over not protecting their grandchildren from their abusers.
Both were happy that Eric and Sookie seemed to have found something they desperately needed in the other. And they agreed that their grandchildren had sounded happier since they had gotten together. But there was an edge to that happiness. Both of the grandmothers had been asked not to mention the fact that Sookie and Eric were in a relationship. And their grandchildren’s desire for secrecy worried the matriarchs.
After their long afternoon of talking, Pam’s suggestion that they visit a nightclub would have normally been met with reluctance by both Elsa and Adele; however, the two spirited ladies egged each other on. After all—they’d reasoned—they were still spry enough to keep up with the young ones.
It turned out that they were more than up for the challenge!
In fact, the camaraderie that they’d initially felt wasn’t likely to disappear anytime soon, and the two women already considered themselves “sisters.” They entered the airport arm in arm, laughing about the differences between British and American sayings. Pam dragged herself in behind them, her large, dark sunglasses covering half of her face.
The two grandmothers stopped in their tracks when they saw the blond pair ahead of them, waiting for their luggage. Even in a country full of tall blondes, Eric stood out, dressed in jeans and a light blue shirt.
“Look at them,” Adele whispered.
“I see,” Elsa whispered back.
“Huh?” Pam contributed groggily and inelegantly as she tried to figure out why they’d stopped walking.
Elsa gave her granddaughter a roll of her eyes before looking back at the couple that had caught her and Adele’s attention. Though only their backs could be seen, it was crystal clear that Eric and Sookie were content together—that there was something special between them. Eric’s arm was wrapped securely around Sookie’s shoulder, and her head was resting against his side. Her hand was wrapped around him and shoved into one of his back pockets.
There was a quiet comfort—a gentleness—about the way they stood. However, the air around them seemed to be charged with energy.
“I don’t even need to see Sookie’s face to know it will be happier than I’ve ever seen it,” Adele remarked quietly—and sadly. “I never thought I’d see her so,” she paused, “at ease with herself—so happy.”
“I never thought I would see Eric happy either—when it wasn’t a pretense,” Elsa agreed in a low tone. The two grandmothers looked at each other and nodded in silent accord; if their more than 150 years of experience had anything to say about it, Eric and Sookie would stay happy.
Eric was nervously tapping his fingers on the gearshift when Sookie reached over, took his hand, and squeezed it. Elsa had rented a Volvo XC90 for the three weeks that she was having company because her tiny Fiat could barely hold two people, let alone the four traveling with her now. And—of course—she wouldn’t hear of any of her guests renting a car.
As he’d packed the vehicle, Eric had been happy for every inch of the large vehicle. Pam and his mormor both had overnight bags—which, in Pam’s case was a regular suitcase—and Adele had packed for a week. Sookie and he had both traveled light, but they each still had a medium-sized suitcase and a carry-on bag. And, then, there had been Pam’s shopping bags, which had ensured that the cargo space of the vehicle, as well as half of the rear seat, was filled to capacity.
His mormor had asked that he drive—if he wasn’t too tired, that is—and Eric had agreed since he’d slept during the flight from Berlin to Gothenburg. The grandmothers were in the middle section of the vehicle, gossiping about Hollywood stars that they’d grown up lusting for. Sookie was next to Eric in the front seat, and Pam was sleeping in the back—apparently more hung-over than either of the older women she’d supposedly been “chaperoning” the night before.
Eric certainly didn’t feel comfortable hearing about how his mormor had once met and had a little “dalliance”—just kissing and whatnot—with Christopher Plummer. He cringed and Sookie squeezed his hand a little harder.
He looked over at her, so beautiful in the yoga pants, T-shirt, and hoodie she’d worn in order to be comfortable on their overnight flight. Being a continent away from Appius, Eric already felt like the weight of the world was off of him—at least for two weeks. Of course, his assistant Chow was to contact him if there were any emergencies—or if Appius made any power plays—but, otherwise, Eric would have two blissful weeks with Sookie and his mormor, one of which would also include Pam and Adele.
“Cocktails have certainly changed since my day,” Elsa commented. “Eric, did you know that drinks now have very colorful names?”
Eric cringed as he remembered his mormor’s texts from the day before. “Yes—I’m aware,” he responded cautiously.
“Indeed,” Adele said, agreeing with Elsa, “young people have definitely come up with some very interesting names for drinks. I had heard of a Shirley Temple before. But I had never heard of a Bend Over Shirley until last night.”
“Gran!” Sookie shrieked from the front seat.
“Nor had I, Adele,” Elsa said casually. “However, I preferred the Penile Colarous—so much tastier than the piña coladas of our day!”
“Mormor!” Eric yelled.
The two grandmothers devolved into giggle fits.
“I told you we could rile them,” Adele said gleefully.
Elsa giggled. “Yes. And they were quite easy to rile too,” she added in her proper British accent.
Sookie exhaled loudly.
“We could not help that the young men at the club thought it would be entertaining to buy us a selection of vulgar sounding drinks,” Mormor said with an mischievous grin.
“No—we could not,” Adele concurred. “And the bonus was that we didn’t have to pay for anything at all.”
“Well—at least that hasn’t changed since our day,” Elsa said.
“Quite right,” Adele observed. “A woman ought never to have to buy herself a drink when there are eligible gentlemen there to do it for her.”
“I couldn’t agree more!” Elsa exclaimed. “And even Pamela had free beverages last night—even though she is a lesbian most of the time.”
“She is?” Adele asked. “But she was kissing that nice young man that bought us a round of the Dr. Peckers—I believe it was.”
“Yes—those were quite good. And—yes—I believe that Pamela sometimes entertains young men too.”
“Oh,” Adele said, trying not to sound scandalized. “Well—I suppose that young people these days ought not to limit themselves. I’m sure she is just trying to be practical.”
“Indeed,” Elsa agreed.
“And Pamela was the one who suggested that we text you,” Adele reported to Sookie and Eric.
“Now, Adele, that was your idea,” Elsa corrected.
“No, I believe you had it first, Elsa,” Adele returned. “But we decided to blame Pamela for everything—remember?”
As the two older women squabbled back and forth for a while—trying to determine whose idea it really had been—Eric and Sookie looked at each other and grinned.
Their shared glance spoke volumes. They had known that their grandmothers would get along, but only now were they becoming aware of the true havoc that the two might cause together—and the true closeness that they might share.
Finally, the two older women came to a consensus that it was, indeed, Pam’s fault that they’d participated in “drunk texting,” and since their scapegoat was passed out in the backseat, they faced no opposition to that.
“Yes—it was Pam now that I’ve thought it through,” Elsa said.
“Yes—I’m sure you’re right,” Adele concurred.
“Well—Sookie and I spent most of last night worrying about you two,” Eric indicated, trying to sound stern. Sookie stifled a giggle.
“Oh—you know I generally never order anything except my Gibson, dear,” Elsa said sweetly.
“And I’m usually just a Mint Julep girl,” Adele chimed in innocently. “But it was a lovely evening, and I did enjoy experimenting.”
“Indeed,” agreed Elsa seriously. “However, I did not much appreciate that one young gentleman calling me a GILF all evening.”
Eric coughed and the car swerved a bit before he recovered.
“And he was not even polite enough to tell us what it meant,” Adele added seriously.
“And Pamela just laughed,” Elsa said with frustration. “We have got to remember to look that up on the Internet when we get home.”
“Yes,” Adele agreed. “I have it written down on my list.
Sookie and Eric looked at each other, biting back both their smiles and their horror.
“Do you know what ‘GILF’ means, Sookie?”
“No idea,” she lied even as her face reddened.
“Do you know, Eric?” Elsa asked her grandson.
“Absolutely not,” Eric said with a wink only Sookie could see.
A/N: I didn’t expect for this chapter to be done today, but I hope you like it. This was very fun to write! Have a wonderful day!
Character Banners by Sephrenia