BEHIND THE LIGHTS

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Chapter 21

November 5th, 2016
Oslo, Norway
Life is beautiful - Sixx:A.M.

“Welcome home!” Frida, Ian’s wife, greeted them, beaming as she opened the front door of their house.

“Hey, Princess!” Ian grinned and walked towards her. “How you feeling?” he asked before kissing her, a hand on her huge six-month pregnant belly, his thick Irish accent shining in Norwegian even after so many years.

“We’re fine.” She smiled. “How was the flight?”

“Good.”

“Hey, S!” she said, looking at Søren, who was right behind her husband.

“We’re fine.” She smiled. “How was the meeting?”

“Good, we got a pretty decent offer.”

“That’s good to hear! I’m happy for you, guys,” she said, looking at Søren, who was right behind her husband.

“Hey! Nice to see you’re doing good too.” He hugged her.

“Thank you.” She giggled.

“Are you sure you’re okay to cook like this?” Jørn questioned while they all were taking their shoes off at the foyer.

“You calling me fat, Erlandsson?”

“No, I’m calling you very pregnant.” He chuckled.

“Hm...” She narrowed her eyes at him.

“Well, Princess... These babies are getting bigger by the day, no way you can hide it anymore.”

“Shut up!”

Jørn laughed, kissing her cheek. “Relax, we don’t need you going on labor now.”

“You two are the worst!” Frida exclaimed.

Ian and Jørn had been friends since they were twelve. The Erlandsson family had just moved to Dublin and Jørn barely spoke any English—or any other language, he was pretty shy and his stuttering problem made it even worse—but Ian took the Swedish skinny guy he was back then under his protection—now he was almost a head taller than all of them.

They hung out with the same posse for years and played together in their first band, even their first girlfriends were a couple of twins. They shared lots of things and supported each other through the rougher times, becoming roommates and brothers when the Erlandssons adopted Ian after his parents died in a car accident.

After finishing high-school, the Irish wanted to travel around the world, live a little before settling down wherever the wind took him.

Jørn found himself at a crossroads because he had never been away from his parents, but he didn’t want to leave Ian on his own after everything he had been through. So, after giving it some thought he made up his mind, he had to live his life the way he wanted, search his place in the world. It was time to leave the nest and nothing was really tying him to Ireland.

They traveled a lot for a year, living in different countries as they worked in the shitties places. But when they moved to Oslo and met Frida, they found their home.

The three of them were alone with their small family for a while, distancing themselves a little when the Swedish realized he was in deep shit, feeling things he shouldn’t have.

During a drunken night years before, Jørn had told Søren that it was hard for him to see them together for some time, but he knew it was the right thing to do. Ian and Frida were made for each other, and their throuple would never work, that they didn’t need him like that.

He also said that meeting Alex and himself one year later, creating their band, had helped them to reconnect and go back to their old selves.

They were past that now. It had been more than a decade since all that happened. Frida and Ian had been happily married for seven years and Jørn was crazy about Hilde, but that didn’t change the deep bond that connected them.

“Yo!” Astrid waved her hand from the living room door. She was wearing some kind headband to hold her hair back and a pink apron.

“What the fuck are you wearing?” Alex snorted, talking like a person for the first time since he got up.

“You have a problem?” she countered.

“Pink looks weird on you.”

“You won’t protest so much when you get to eat what we’re cooking.”

“What is it?”

“Not telling you.” She walked back in again.

“C’mon! Tell me!” Alex begged as he followed her.

“Jesus! Are they ever going to grow up?” Jørn chuckled.

“They should fuck and stop all that bullshit,” Ian noted.

“You didn’t just say that!” Frida slapped his arm. “How can you be so... I don’t even have a word to describe you.” She rolled her blue eyes and put her hands in the air, giving up.

“You don’t mind it when I talk dirty at other times,” Ian quipped as he walked close behind her inside the house.

“Oh my God! Shut up!” She cried.

Jørn and Søren laughed, following them inside that always lively house.


After lunch, the kitchen became the most crowded room in the house as everyone was there. Frida was preparing some snacks for the afternoon while Søren and Ian helped her clean the dishes. Astrid, Alex, and Jørn were playing some card games.

Later, when the sky was turning dark, they decided to leave the lovebirds alone and go back home. There had been two long and intense days. Jørn took a cab and the other three in another one as they were going in different directions.

“Hm... Alex?” Astrid started, breaking the silence in the car as they were getting close to Alex’ house. “Can I stay at your place?”

“Huh? Why?” Alex looked at her suspiciously.

“You have an empty room.” She shrugged.

“What happened with your boyfriend? You seemed pretty happy in those pictures you posted on Instagram.” Poison filled his mouth, not even wanting to say his name.

“We had a fight.”

“When are you going to dump that asshole?”

“It’s none of your business,” she retorted. “It’s my life and my fucking relationship, so stop telling me to break-up with him. I just need some time for myself.”

“What? He’s still banging that chick?”

“Guys...” Søren said in a warning tone from the front seat.

“What?” Alex scoffed. “She’s acting like a brat and I’m tired of saving her ass!”

“I’ve never asked you to!”

“You’re asking to stay at my place because you don’t want to hear him screwing some brainless bimbo!”

“Fuck you!”

“Jesus, guys! Stop it!” Søren growled as he turned to look at them.

He hated confrontations and all the drama that came with them, and those two were worse than gremlins that had eaten after midnight when they fought.

“You know what? I don’t give a shit anymore! Do whatever the fuck you want!”

“I don’t need you to give me permission, you’re not my father!” Astrid shouted back.

“Like you have one!” Alex fired back as he got out of the cab.

“Dude!” Søren glared at him. That was a pretty low blow.

“I hate you!”

“Fine!” Alex grunted and strode away.

Søren got out of the car and sat in the back with his friend. As soon as he closed the door, the driver stepped on the accelerator and hit the road, taking them to the second address they had given him before—Søren’s house.

“Hey, As...” He tried to be as soft as he could. Alex was right about her leaving that douchebag, but he had been too harsh. She might look tough and had a big mouth when she was angry, but she was fragile inside. All the abandonment and betrayal she had gone through in her life had broken her. “You can stay at my house if you want.”

“Thank you, S...” She sniffled. “You’re the only one that understands me...”

“No, don’t take this wrong. I just don’t want you being alone, overthinking, and ending up going to his house.”

“But—”

“We’ll talk about it later.”

“Fine... Thank you, anyway.”

“Sure.”

The silence in the car felt uncomfortable but it was better than the yelling. The driver probably thanked them for stopping arguing too.

Astrid and Alex had a lot of tension going on between them—of all kinds—but none of them seemed to want to come around and stop acting like the pair of idiots they were. As much as it made him cringe, he agreed with Ian, if they fucked once and for all, everything would be much easier.

“Want anything to drink?” Søren asked Astrid when they walked through the door of his house ten minutes later.

“I’m fine, thanks,” she said while taking off her boots.

“Wanna talk about it?” Søren asked as he crouched down to pet his cats.

She shook her head. “I just want Alex to be happy for me...”

Søren sighed and walked towards the kitchen to pour himself some water. “You know that’s nearly as impossible as bleeding green blood, right?” She bit her bottom lip, lowering her gaze. She knew about Alex’s feelings. “Anyway, how do you expect us to be alright with that jerk treating you as if you were a piece of shit?”

“He doesn’t treat me like that, he loves me.”

“He has a pretty shitty way to show it.”

“He’s just been stressed lately with the release of their new album...”

“But that doesn’t give him the right to... see other women.”

“You know what? I’m done talking about it, just stay out of my relationship. I’m not a stupid teenager!” She walked off, towards the stairs.

Søren snorted.

“What?” She turned around.

“You should practice what you preach.”

“What are you talking about now?”

“You’ve done it again.” He approached her. “You read my messages.”

“I was trying to protect you,” she declared. Zero shame.

“Whatever you want. But don’t do that ever again. I talk and fuck with whomever I want, it’s none of your business.”

“Fine.” She frowned and ran up the stairs.

Søren followed her, hearing the door of the guest’s room slamming when he reached the last step. He undressed and let himself fall onto the bed.

“Why’s it gotta be so hard?”

Before his mind could keep asking questions he wouldn’t find staring at the ceiling, his phone vibrated on the night table, pulling him out of that gloomy mood when he saw who was texting him.

Leah: Hope you had a nice flight

Søren: Yeah

Leah: So... Sup?

Søren: Miss me already?

Leah: You wished 🙄

Søren: Haha, I just got home

Leah: How so?

Søren: Family day

Leah: That’s nice

Søren: Yeah

Leah: Am I bothering you?

Søren: No. Why?

Leah: Your answers, short and kinda cold

Søren: Just tired

Leah: Right, it’s late! Go to bed then. We can talk tomorrow...
Or whenever you feel like

Søren: Sure

Leah: Night, Søren

Søren: Night, Leah

After rereading their short exchange of words a couple of times, he closed the conversation and looked for the picture Chris had sent to him. Søren bit his bottom lip and shook his head, chuckling. Even though his ego was still kind of hurt, he had to admit he had liked hanging out with her and her bandmates. Leah was so damn gorgeous, and natural. She was fun, shameless, and easy to talk to...

Leaving his phone on the night table, he let out a heavy sigh.

What are you getting yourself into?

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