Chapter 58: Carry It
“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”—Ralph Waldo Emerson
Lidköping was more than two hours from Gothenburg Airport, so by the time they’d reached the city, it was just past dinner time, and everyone in the car—save Sookie and Eric—were dead to the world.
Sookie glanced over her shoulder, looking at the sight of their two grandmothers leaning their heads together in sleep. Both of them were snoring slightly, though no one had heard a peep out of Pam since they’d left Gothenburg.
“I’m glad they like each other,” Sookie whispered.
Eric smiled at her and squeezed her hand. “It’s like they’re sisters; we’ll have to watch out for them.”
Sookie grinned and looked around. Since they were so far north, it wouldn’t get dark for several hours.
“A cat?” she asked—seemingly out of the blue.
Eric immediately picked up on her train of thought. Since the end of June, they’d been talking about what she wanted for her birthday, which had occurred the week before—on July 1.
“Yes—but can we even have one at your place? You aren’t allergic—are you?”
“Our place,” Eric corrected gently before responding to her questions. “I don’t see why we couldn’t have a cat at home. There are no building rules against pets. And Bobby’s great-uncle Niall had cats, and I never sneezed around them. And I’ve been around Bobby’s dog and had no problems.”
“We could get a dog.”
“No—a cat would be good. But do you know how to take care of one?” Eric asked.
“Well—I’m not sure. We should ask Gran. She’s had cats before. We’ll have to get a litter box and food and water dishes. And we’ll have to train it not to scratch things.”
“Okay—so I’ll get you a cat,” he smiled.
“It should be our cat.”
Eric looked at her and grinned even wider. Her hair was blowing due to the cracked window, and she looked beautiful, her face showing her excitement about the prospect of getting a pet.
“Okay—our cat. Do you have a color preference?”
Sookie thought for a moment. “No.”
“Boy or girl?”
“Okay,” Eric chuckled. “We’ll get one when we get back.”
“We should go to the humane society or something,” Sookie said.
“Alright,” Eric agreed.
“Wait—Amelia has a friend who runs a kind of cat rescue program. Can we get the kitten from her?”
“Yeah. Sure,” Eric smiled squeezing her hand.
“I think that there might be a waiting time with her though.”
“That’s okay. We’ll just research how to take care of a kitten in the meantime,” Eric said.
Sookie nodded happily. “Thanks.”
She smiled as she looked at the body of water out of the windshield. “That’s Lake Vänern—right?”
“Yep,” he said as he turned the car off the main road and onto a curvy, though paved, narrow road that took them into the woods. Soon, the dense trees prevented Sookie from seeing the lake; however, the beautiful and surprisingly dense forest more than made up for that.
“We’re probably only fifteen minutes away from Mormor’s house now,” Eric commented.
“And the town we just passed through was Lidköping?” Sookie asked carefully, having been practicing her pronunciation of Swedish place names and common phrases with Eric for several days.
He smiled and nodded. “Yep.”
Sookie looked backed at the other women in the car and then lowered her voice even more than it had been. “Will we get to share a room?”
Eric chuckled. “Absolutely.” His eyebrows waggled as he glanced at her meaningfully. Neither of them had forgotten that their Sweden trip was to be the time when they’d decided that it would be safe to go without condoms.
“We’ll have our own little house, actually,” he said. “Morfar liked to design and build things in his spare time, and he built an amazing lake house—practically all by himself. Mormor lets me stay in it during the summers since I always helped Morfar with his projects when I was here during the summers. You’ll like it, even though you’ll have to try out Mormor’s tub at least once.”
Sookie giggled. From Pam, she’d heard all about Mormor’s tub, its large window, and its view of the woods. She’d also heard that Elsa had no compunction whatsoever about nudity, so if she didn’t want an eyeful, she would need to tread carefully if she walked around the house or went into the sauna.
“How long has your mormor lived on the lake?” Sookie asked, keeping her voice low so that she wouldn’t disturb the sleeping women.
“Though they had a little cabin on the lake for much longer, Mormor and Morfar retired here about a year after he retired from work.” He chuckled. “That’s how long it took for Mormor to convince Morfar that he didn’t need to micromanage the person who had stepped in to manage Larsson Publishing in Stockholm.”
“I thought,” Sookie stopped for a moment, hesitant about raising an unpleasant topic.
“Thought what?” Eric asked.
She took a deep breath. “I thought that Appius had control over Larsson Publishing after your morfar retired.”
Eric tensed a little. “Yes—he had ultimate control over the major decisions for the company; however, he didn’t oversee its day-to-day operations. That was done by the person Morfar left in charge in Stockholm.”
Sookie nodded in understanding. From Eric’s past descriptions, it seemed clear that Appius had done nothing to sabotage Larsson Publishing because he wanted it to be lucrative when he manipulated Eric into basically signing away his grandfather’s company.
Eric’s voice lowered even more, “Morfar wouldn’t have left the company in Appius’s hands at all if I would have just said something about the way he was treating me.” He sighed. “But I was only eight when Morfar retired. I guess I didn’t think Appius was doing anything different from other fathers at that time, and I figured that any complaints on my part would just make things worse. Appius had already impressed upon me that my trips to Sweden would be stopped if I talked to anyone about our meetings. And I really liked my summers here.”
Sookie put her hand onto Eric’s arm comfortingly as he went on. “Mormor actually has quite a bit of acreage surrounding a little finger of the lake, so even though Lake Vänern is really popular for recreation, especially in the summers, no one comes into her little cove. I used to get worried about Mormor being up here alone, especially in the winters, but she wouldn’t think of leaving, and her friends from town come to visit her a lot. This place reminds her too much of Morfar for her to ever leave it,” he added, glancing into the rearview mirror to make sure that the others in the car were still sleeping.
“You were fourteen when he died—right?” Sookie questioned, her voice catching a little.
Eric retook her hand and squeezed it a little. He knew that Sookie had been fourteen when her father had died. She smiled a little at his comforting gesture.
“Yeah,” he answered, “but he was healthy almost up to the end. And he and Mormor really did enjoy their years living here. They met in Lidköping at the wedding of a mutual friend, so the place was extra meaningful to them. They always spent at least part of their summers here, even before they officially moved when I was nine or so. The main house was built by then. I remember thinking that it was so cool that the whole lower level of the house was built into the hillside.” Eric chuckled. “When I was visiting, Morfar used to give me Batman comics to read—the little kids’ versions.”
“Do you still have them?” Sookie asked.
Eric nodded. “They’re in a box in my room at Mormor’s.”
“So—you liked Batman—huh?” she smiled.
He chuckled. “Actually, until I was about eleven, I suspected that my morfar was Batman because of how the lower level of the house couldn’t be seen from one side.” He chuckled again. “And then I really thought he was Batman when he showed me his plans for the lake house. It’s actually built over a cave, and there are steps down to a dock inside the cave.”
Sookie grinned. “So—uh—why did he build a lake house when they already had the other house? It’s right next to the lake too—right?”
Eric nodded. “Yep. I think he built it for both himself and me—actually,” he said after a few moments of contemplation. “Morfar had always loved architecture; I think that’s where I got my interest from. I remember him always sitting at the table for hours on end—drinking coffee and sketching. He designed his and mormor’s house too. However, by the time he retired, it was already mostly finished, and he needed a new project.” He chuckled. “I loved his sketches of the lake house, and—once he decided to build it—he and I explored every inch of the land here, trying to find the perfect spot. As soon as we found the cave, we knew that was it!”
“So you helped him to build it?”
Eric nodded. “Just during the summers. It took him several years since he did most of the work himself. Of course, winters get so harsh on the lake that not much could be done then, so Morfar would work on the lake house from April to October, and I was around for about half of that time. It was fun to help him, and he even let me design the deck around it.” His face fell a little. “He died less than a year after it was all done, but I look back on those times when I was helping him as my favorite memories,” he paused, “at least until you came into my life.”
“Do you ever wish that you could just be an architect?” she asked with a mixture of sadness and curiosity.
“Sometimes,” Eric replied honestly. “But—truthfully—if Appius weren’t in the equation, I’d be really happy doing what I’m doing at NP.”
“I did like helping Morfar though,” Eric said with fondness. “I know that is one of the reasons why I like architecture; he was always so excited by it all, and he made it fun. He actually was good friends with John Lautner, who was influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright. Morfar’s grandmother even helped Lautner’s mother when she came to Sweden to study Norse homes, and some of Lautner’s architecture was based on those studies. I think that Morfar would have been an architect if he hadn’t wanted to take over his father’s company. After he retired from publishing, he threw himself into his first love—with his greatest love, my mormor, standing right beside him.”
Eric glanced over at Sookie and smiled before looking back at the road. “I really think that working with him on that lake house may have saved my sanity. The work was cathartic for me at the time, and I think Morfar knew that.” He paused and checked again to make sure that they were the only ones awake in the car. “The years when I was nine to thirteen were the hardest for me. I remember feeling depressed a lot, and Appius was particularly cruel during that time. I hadn’t yet learned to,” he paused, “compartmentalize in order to protect myself. And—of course—puberty was hitting with a vengeance,” he added with a small smile. “So having my morfar as a father figure—even if it was just during summers—was a Godsend.”
“But you didn’t talk to him about Appius,” Sookie commented sadly.
“I almost did,” Eric responded. “I almost did a thousand times, but I didn’t want to risk what I had. And Morfar wasn’t the kind who encouraged talk either.”
“What do you mean?”
He shrugged. “My morfar was what one would call the strong, silent type. Other than his building plans, he didn’t really talk in depth about much. Mormor was the talker in the family.” He smiled. “They complemented each other in that way.”
Sookie smiled as she glanced back at their sleeping grandmothers. “Yeah—I’ve already figured out that Elsa is a talker. She and Gran will have a lot of fun competing for the alpha of the conversation.”
Eric chuckled. “I was thinking the same thing.”
“I’m glad you had that time—with your morfar,” she commented, squeezing his hand.
His eyes became reflective, as if he were looking at himself into the past. “I could really be at peace with myself when I was working on his projects with him—just building with my hands and not thinking about the bad things in my life. It was what I needed most at the time. I think that I would have confided in Morfar about Appius eventually—if . . . ,” he added, his voice trailing off.
“If he hadn’t died,” Sookie finished sadly, wondering if she would have ever found the courage to confide to her own father if he’d not died.
“Yeah,” Eric confirmed. “I had even started to plan how I’d tell him. I’d been rehearsing what I would say in my head. But Mormor called me the winter I turned fourteen to tell me he’d passed away.” Eric seemed ready to say more, but stopped abruptly when Gran’s light snores became uneven and louder, a telltale sign that she was waking up.
“Oh my word!” Adele exclaimed as her eyes popped open. She looked around sleepily, taking in the beauty of the woods.
“What!” Elsa asked, as she too was startled awake. “I mean,” she recovered quickly, “what were you saying, Adele?”
“Oh,” Adele said, “I was just sayin’ how lovely it is here.”
Eric and Sookie both chuckled as a decidedly inhuman-sounding moan was heard from the back seat, followed by Pam’s aggravated voice. “Yes—the lake is nice. Yes—the woods are pretty. Now, can’t you two just be quiet and let me sleep off my hangover!”
“Now, Pamela,” Elsa scolded rather more loudly than she needed to, “you know better than to be rude. It is certainly not Adele’s fault or my fault that you cannot hold your liquor.”
“Or that you can’t outdrink two old grannies,” Adele said ‘under her breath,’ though everyone in the car could hear her very well.
Elsa and Adele shared a laugh.
“Oh—we’re here already!” Elsa exclaimed as Eric turned onto the tiny, but well-kept driveway that led to the main house.
“Oh goody!” Adele said loudly, eliciting another primordial moan from Pam.
Both Stackhouse women craned their necks as glimpses of the beautiful blue water of the lake began to come into view through the trees.
“Oh—I must have missed seeing the town when we passed through,” Adele said. “What’s it called?”
“Lidköping,” Elsa informed. “And don’t worry. We can go into town tomorrow or the next day once you get bored with being around here.”
“I’d love to see the town, but I can’t imagine I’d get bored of this!” Adele exclaimed as she took in the beauty around her. “Remember—though I lived in New Orleans for almost twenty years with my Earl, I’ve always been a country girl at heart.”
Eric parked in front of what looked to be a smallish-sized red house with white trim. Sookie immediately noticed—and appreciated—the deck wrapping around the house and the large windows that dominated the main room of the dwelling. But what really stole her breath was the gorgeous view of the lake in front of her.
“Wow!” Sookie exclaimed. “It’s so beautiful here!”
Eric and Sookie got out of the car and subconsciously walked toward each other, even as their eyes remained fixed on the water. They stopped only once their hands were linked.
Meanwhile, Elsa and Adele each exited the vehicle like the dignified women they were, while Pam just barely managed to get out of the SUV without falling down. Though no piece of her blond hair was askew, her large sunglasses and paleness bespoke of her still-hung-over condition.
Elsa turned to Eric. “Could you be a dear, Eric, and take our bags to our rooms? It will be easier for you to go in through the garage. And—while you do that—I’ll give Adele and Sookie the tour.”
“Sure,” Eric smiled before giving Sookie a quick peck on her cheek and then getting back into the car so that he could drive it down to the garage, which was part of the lower level of the dwelling.
Elsa motioned for Adele and Sookie to follow her to a white door that was so clean that it looked freshly painted.
“Now,” Elsa said as she led them into the upper story of the house, “because of the way the hill is formed, this upper level isn’t that big, but—then again—it was just Johan and me here most of the time, and we didn’t need a lot of space.”
Adele nodded and patted Elsa’s arm. “I know just what you mean. I usually don’t go into but four rooms of the farmhouse.” She chuckled, “And I haven’t been upstairs since I was gettin’ Sookie’s room set up when she came for Thanksgiving last year.”
Elsa smiled as Adele and Sookie looked around the main room of her home; it included a living room and a dining area. A modest-sized kitchen was located off to the side.
“There’s a small water closet—I mean bathroom—up here, so you don’t have to go downstairs every time you need to freshen up,” Elsa said, motioning toward a door.
Both Sookie and Adele nodded.
“The downstairs is quite a bit bigger, but this main room and especially the deck are where I spend most of my time,” Elsa reported. “Eric built an extension onto the deck last summer,” she added, pointing out the window.
“I can’t say I blame you for spendin’ your time where you can enjoy this view!” Adele exclaimed, looking out at the impressive sight.
Meanwhile, Sookie looked at the deck with curiosity. She could see that it extended around the back of the house and some of the wood looked newer than the rest. Several seating areas were set up outside as well. As Sookie studied the new section, Elsa offered her and Adele a drink, and when they declined, she ordered them to help themselves to anything in the kitchen—any time they wanted it. Then she led Adele and Sookie to a set of stairs. Pam was nowhere to be seen.
“When Johan designed this house,” Elsa shared, “he worked around the geography of the area as much as possible; plus, since we are right on the water, the winters can get quite cold, despite the fact that we are surrounded by trees on three sides. So having the downstairs built partially into the hillside has made it much easier to keep the house warm. My Johan was very smart at figuring out such things!” she beamed proudly.
As they reached the bottom of the stairs, Sookie smiled at Elsa, who patted her arm warmly. “Eric is, of course, just like my Johan. Why—you should have seen how fast he put up the addition to the deck last year, and it fit in so beautifully with the rest!”
It was Sookie’s turn to beam proudly.
“My, oh my!” Adele exclaimed as she gestured toward a hearth that seemed to be dug out of the rock itself.
“This is Johan’s most marvelous invention,” Elsa said. “The whole inner wall of this room is the rock of the mountain. Johan used to say that he let the rocks determine the shape of the whole house. In the winter, all I have to do is light a fire in this room, and the whole house is heated—at least enough to live in, though Johan also added central heat for me as well. However, the fireplace is usually enough; he built vents to all the other parts of the house—you see?”
“Wow!” Sookie exclaimed as she took in the unique room around her. It had no windows, and “den” seemed the most appropriate word to describe the space. There were quite a few overflowing bookshelves, including some carved into the rock. There were also two comfortable-looking couches and a television, along with an antique secretary desk sitting in the corner. From the main room, which was a semicircle in shape, three doors led in the direction of the lake.
Following Sookie’s gaze, Elsa explained, “Johan built three bedrooms down here so that Pamela and Eric would each have one.” She led the Stackhouse women toward the door on the left. “This is my room,” she said, opening the door and showing them her nice-sized bedroom. There were large windows on two sides of the space, so Elsa had views of both the woods and the lake.
“You are more than welcome to use the bath my Johan built for me.” She motioned toward a room to the left. The bathroom itself was rather usual-looking; however, the tub was something quite extraordinary. The tub itself was almost in its own little room, jutting out from the rest of the house. And—just as Pam had said there would be—there was a huge window facing the woods and the hills that rolled up from the lake shore.
“There are natural hot springs on this property,” Elsa said, “and Johan found some virtually underneath where we’re standing. My tub is fed by them, and the water makes your skin feel like silk. I swear it’s kept me feeling ten years younger!”
“Then I will definitely be using this tub,” Adele said with a grin. “But I’ll have to make sure no one is walking around on this side of the house when I do! No one wants to get a glimpse of this old bag of bones!”
“Rubbish!” Elsa exclaimed. “I seem to remember several young men who were keen to see more of it last night.”
Adele’s cheeks pinkened cutely. “Well—my motto is now, ‘touch all you want, but don’t you dare look!'” she winked.
Elsa chuckled. “Well that one young man—what was his name?”
“Lucas,” Adele responded immediately.
“Yes,” Elsa said with a knowing grin. “Lucas certainly seemed to be touching quite a bit.”
It was Sookie’s turn to redden as the women continued talking about their club experience.
“Yes—Lucas was certainly handsy,” Adele said somewhat wistfully, causing the two older women to giggle like schoolgirls.
Sookie tried to push the image of her grandmother being groped by a young Swedish man out of her mind by looking more closely at the bathtub. She smiled a little. A love for baths seemed to be a Larsson family trait, which had transferred to Eric and Pam. She looked out the window and took a moment to appreciate the lush trees before running her fingertips along the smooth tiles next to the tub. Indeed, she could certainly see herself using this tub; however, she didn’t imagine herself using it alone.
Elsa and Adele’s new round of giggles brought Sookie’s attention back to the two older women—thankfully before her daydream could cause her to become too flushed. She followed them back out to the den as they joked about Lucas’s wandering hands.
“This is Pam’s room,” Elsa said, gesturing toward the door on the right. “I believe she is indisposed right now,” she added with a smirk, “but I am sure she would be willing to offer you a tour later.”
Adele snickered a little and gave Elsa a knowing look.
“This room is Eric’s,” Elsa said to Adele as she opened the middle door. “However, he stays at the lake house when he visits now, so this will be your room.” Elsa turned to look at Sookie. “Am I correct to assume that you will wish to stay at the lake house with Eric?” she asked with a twinkle in her eye.
“Mormor,” Eric said with a little warning in his tone, as he came into the room from a narrow hallway behind the stairs; obviously it led in from the garage.
“I was only checking, dear,” Elsa said. “As you know, things were different in my day.”
Sookie was blushing deeply as Eric passed them, carrying Adele’s two suitcases.
“Christopher Plummer,” Eric muttered under his breath, though the still sharp ears of his mormor caught what he’d said.
“Merely a dalliance, dear,” Elsa said pleasantly. “Your morfar was always the only man that truly owned my heart. Of course,” she added in Adele’s direction, “I had not yet met Johan when I spent time with Chris.”
Chris,” Adele sighed. “And he’s held up so well too!”
“He has,” Elsa agreed with a wink. “And I might even have his number somewhere around here.”
“Mormor!” Eric said with exasperation.
Adele ignored Eric’s interjection. “You still haven’t told me everything about that encounter.”
“Later,” Elsa mouthed.
Eric rolled his eyes as he entered the door to his old room. Elsa led the Stackhouse women into the bedroom after him. Sookie looked around at the pretty blue and cream-colored space. A queen-sized bed, a dresser, and a chair were the only pieces of furniture, but there was a huge patio door providing a view of the lake, and—although the prospect wasn’t quite as good as it was from upstairs—it was still a lovely scene. The door led to a private sitting area.
Elsa opened a door on the right-hand side of the room and showed Adele the bathroom.
“Pam will be sharing this room with you, and she has no sense of personal boundaries—I’m afraid. So be sure to lock the other side when you need a private moment,” Elsa said daintily.
Adele nodded and looked around the bedroom. “Thank you. Everything is just lovely!” she exclaimed as Eric put her suitcases near the dresser.
Eric opened the closet. “There are a few of my things in here,” he said, looking up at the highest shelf. “Do you think they’ll get in your way?”
Adele walked over to stand next to him and noticed that there was only one small box on the top shelf. “Oh—I won’t need up there! I couldn’t even reach! But thank you anyway, dear,” Adele said, smiling at him.
Seemingly on automatic pilot, Eric bent down to kiss Adele’s cheek, just as he might his own mormor’s. Then he grabbed the extra quilt from the upper closet shelf and laid it on the chair. He smiled down at the much shorter woman. “I used to like to sit out on the patio in the mornings, but it can be a little cool—even in the summers.”
Adele patted his hand in thanks. “Thank you, Eric. I think I’ll enjoy doing just that.”
Eric smiled and looked at his own grandmother. “Mormor, I already brought in your and Pam’s bags. She’s passed out on her bed—by the way.”
“Thank you, dear,” Elsa said. She smiled pleasantly. “Pamela, I’m afraid, was done in by having too many Slippery Nipples.”
“Oooh—those were yummy,” Adele said immediately.
Both Eric and Sookie rolled their eyes and reddened noticeably.
Elsa chuckled at the two. “Come now—it is just the name of a cocktail.”
Eric went to say something, but obviously thought the better of it.
“Why don’t you take Sookie up to the lake house?” Elsa suggested. “It’s getting late, and you two should get some sleep so that you don’t have any jetlag. I put some food in the fridge for you up there so that you can make yourselves a little snack if you get hungry. And be sure to come for breakfast tomorrow.”
Eric smiled. “Do you still eat breakfast at 7:00?”
Elsa nodded. “Of course.”
“We’ll be here,” Sookie said, leaning forward to give Gran a hug. “It’s so nice to see you. Having you here is kind of surreal.” She got a faraway look in her eyes and then quickly wiped a tear from her eye.
“Excuse us for just a minute,” Adele said, looking at her granddaughter with concern. “I have something in my suitcase for Sookie.”
Having not noticed Sookie’s tear, Elsa smiled. “Of course. I need to talk to Eric about some patching I need done on the boat deck anyway.
Unlike his mormor, Eric had noticed Sookie’s tear. He gave her a questioning look, which she answered with a little nod and a smile to indicate that she was okay.
“What is it, dear?” Gran asked in a low tone once she and Sookie were back in Eric’s old room.
Sookie sighed a little. “It’s just that this is my first family vacation—my first vacation period. It’s nice.”
Adele smiled at her granddaughter, though she felt a pang of guilt—as she always did—for allowing Michelle to alienate her and Earl from their son. Because of that, she’d had very little contact with Jason and Sookie until Earl had died and she’d moved back to Bon Temps.
In truth, Adele placed a lot of blame upon herself for Sookie’s situation. Oh—Adele knew exactly who was responsible for Sookie’s pain: Michelle! And Adele hated her daughter-in-law with a fire that she figured would have sent her to hell—except for the fact that God likely hated Michelle just as much as she did. However, Adele knew that if she’d been in her granddaughter’s life, she could have better protected her from her malignant mother.
“Gran?” Sookie asked with concern in her voice now. “Are you okay? You looked a little out of it there. Is it jetlag?”
Adele shook herself out of her guilt-ridden and angry thoughts. “I’m fine, dear. Now—why don’t you go get settled in with that young man of yours?”
Something flashed across Sookie’s face when Adele called Eric her young man, but the look disappeared as soon as Adele saw it, and the older woman chose not to mention it as Sookie turned to go.
“Oh—wait,” Adele said. “I did bring you something.” She reached into the front sleeve of her suitcase and pulled out a manila envelope.
“What’s this?” Sookie asked.
“Well,” Adele started, “you know how most of Earl and my pictures were destroyed in the fire we had in New Orleans.”
“I was cleaning out the attic at the farmhouse this spring, and I found some old family pictures I’d forgotten about completely.” Adele smiled softly. “And I thought you might enjoy these.”
Sookie held her breath as she opened the envelope. There were three pictures inside, and immediately Sookie felt her throat welling up with emotion.
“These are of me?” she asked in disbelief, looking at the pictures which showed her father holding a tiny infant in what looked to be a chair in a hospital room.
“Yes,” Adele said tenderly. “Earl and I visited you in the hospital when you were born, and Earl took these.
Sookie could feel the heat of tears in her eyes as she quickly put herself into her grandmother’s embrace.
“Thank you, Gran,” she whispered. “Thank you so much.”
“You’re welcome, child,” Adele said, her own tears rising.
“Everything okay?” Eric asked as he entered the room tentatively.
Sookie nodded happily as she held out the photos for him to take. Immediately, Eric understood what he was looking at and its meaning to Sookie. The photos in his hand showed Sookie’s father, smiling and proud as he held his newborn daughter. And—given the fact that Michelle had forced Sookie to burn all of the photos of her and her father—the images were even more precious.
Still half-smiling and half-crying, Sookie handed Eric the envelope as well. “Could you?” she asked.
He nodded and carefully put the pictures back into their protective carrier.
“Thank you, Gran,” Sookie said again, giving her grandmother another hug. “Thank you so much.”
“You’re welcome, honey,” Adele smiled, though there was a little sadness in her eyes. The pictures would have been such a small thing to most people, but she’d learned that Sookie treasured the small things the most.
Adele noticed as Eric pulled a handkerchief from his pocket. And—as if following a strong ocean current—Sookie drifted naturally to him as he handed her the small piece of cloth. As if he could do nothing else, Eric placed his arm around her, drawing her into him. Adele smiled up at him, and had one of the strongest feelings she’d ever had in her life; actually, it was more of a premonition. She pictured her granddaughter on her wedding day—smiling, beautiful, and dressed in a pretty white gown. And Eric Northman was standing right beside her, dressed to the nines and gazing at Sookie with the kind of love that Adele saw in his eyes even then.
Adele smiled as she imagined her great-grandchildren; her gut told her that those kids would be beautiful and well-loved.
“Gran? You okay?” Sookie asked, having seen her grandmother “space out” again.
The elderly woman chuckled. “I’m more than okay.” She looked up at Eric. “You’ll do quite nicely for my granddaughter, Eric. Quite nicely—indeed.”
Eric’s answering look was a combination of happiness and gloom that Adele couldn’t quite decipher. However, her feeling told her that the two young people would overcome any gloom that tried to overtake them. Yes, she thought, Eric Northman would do very well for her precious Sookie—just as Sookie obviously suited him too.
She patted his arm as she moved to rejoin Elsa. Eric and Sookie shared a look before following her.
“Just take the rental car for now and bring it back tomorrow,” Elsa said as the three emerged from Eric’s old room. “The boat’s docked here, so you can take it tomorrow morning. And we have my car if we have to seek medical attention for my granddaughter,” Elsa added snarkily.
At Elsa’s joke, the serious mood lifted from Adele, Eric, and Sookie.
“Now you see where Pam gets it,” Eric whispered to Sookie, whom he was still holding close.
“Gets what, dear?” Elsa asked innocently, once again showing off the superiority of her hearing.
“Her shining personality,” Eric grinned as he bent down to kiss his mormor on the cheek before leading Sookie out to the garage.
A/N: Thanks so much for all the love you’ve shown to the last two chapters (and to my new story “Gift Horse”)! Your reviews and continued support are wonderful holiday gifts!
I hope that you liked this chapter. I love writing for Elsa and Adele (and Pam’s always fun too). And—of course—I love this Eric and Sookie too. I was hoping to create this lovely little oasis for this very deserving “family.”