Nordic Lessons
that one soon enough.
    “All right, then. You saw that pretty boy punk I had pinned on the ground?”
    “Yes, briefly.”
    “Used to be my best friend, since the age of five actually. His father worked at my bestefar’s shipping company. We met one day and nothing on earth could separate us.” I clutch my short glass tightly. “That is, until we were around twenty.”
    “Was it over a girl?”
    My head begins to pound from the recall and my jaw locks tight. I force out an answer, “Partly, yes. You could say that.”
    I look into her eyes and she reaches across to touch my fingers. “What happened?” she whispers.
    “We’d both saved up a good bit of money out of school, working odd jobs. We had major plans to work steadily for a few years before we had enough to put a down payment on a loan for an old warehouse to build custom rides. Dag got impatient, didn’t want to wait any longer. He began flashing a lot of cash, amounts I knew he couldn’t have earned with the job he held. When I called him on it, he admitted that he’d begun selling guns. He was basically the middleman, finding buyers for a Polish distributer that wanted a piece of the Oslo underground scene. He was making so much bank, so fast, that it was unreal.”
    “Is that what caused the split in your friendship?”
    “That was the main factor. If I went in with him, with his illegal cash, there would always be that element in our business. I saw the big picture, knew we’d be taken down one day. Those guys who cut him in would always have a hand in our business. I was young, but smart enough to understand how the world works. I wasn’t about to do time for illegal shit just to have my dream a few years early. He was enraged that I wouldn’t follow his lead dealing arms.”
    Taking a deep breath, I go on, “He also began to have an unhealthy fixation on Lisetta. Still does.”
    Her eyes widen as she asks, “Lisetta?”
    “Yeah. When she was in her teens and shit was really going down between him and me, Dag began watching her, talking to her all the time. She was only sixteen and he was already in his twenties. I could tell that she was intimidated, always backing away and avoiding him whenever possible. He didn’t take the hint, started showing up wherever she was, basically stalking her. I stepped in and spelled it out for him, told him that she was too young and wasn’t fucking interested. He backed off a little after that, but she tells me that they still cross paths in town and the look he gives her creeps her the fuck out.”
    “It seems like he’s borderline obsessed with her.”
    I can only manage a gruff, “Yeah.” The thought of him touching my cousin makes me want to puke.
    “Now I get the animosity, the hatred. Criminal activity and stalking a relative is reprehensible.”
    “Damn straight. She’s upset that she might run into him. Whenever he and I run into each other, which isn’t often, I make it crystal clear how I feel about him. And Lisetta, well, she’s been very patient with me.”
    “How so?”
    “After that shit went down with the guns and him trying to move in to date her, I wouldn’t even let her near my MC to party until the night Vail came out with her. I wanted her safe. I can finally chill a bit now, ’cause she’s in deep with Bern. He’d fucking rip anyone’s throat out who laid a hand on her.”
    “Does Bern know that Dag wants her?”
    “Fuck, no! Shit, Bern would land himself in prison so fast it would make your head spin. If he knew that Dag had a thing for her, that he watches her, let’s just say that Dag would have a big ass moving target painted on his back.”
    “You don’t think she’ll tell him?”
    “No. She won’t talk about Dag. It upsets her. Only once, when I was closing down the bar and was about to take her home, did she bring it up.”
    “What did she say?”
    I try to get my voice to work right but it comes out in a strangled whisper, “She thanked me. She fucking

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