Although Mikka gave a guttural grunt of recognition, she kept the Glock 19 pointed in Erica's general direction. She'd always been a tough bitch, Erica mused -- a fact reflected, perhaps, in her parents' decision to call her Mikka, a name more usually reserved for males.
Mikka had been something of a thorn in Erica's side during her year's exchange in Lappeenranta. She hero-worshipped her brother, and Erica's numerous attempts to coax Flikka into doing something in the sauna other than actually sweating had invariably been sabotaged by Mikka, who seemed to have some kind of sixth sense that let her know whenever her brother was getting an erection. It was just as well that the cold showers were so freely available.
"Flikka!" she would yell, her shrill, nasal voice easily penetrating the solid sides of the Laakksonen family sauna. "Come and fix my snow plow now!" And Flikka would be forced to wrap a towel back around his turgid privates and leave Erica alone with only birch twigs and steam for company.
That was annoying enough, but it was an incident during a tour of the local Nokia factory that convinced Erica that Mikka was actually nuts. Having popped into the ladies room to freshen up, Erica was somewhat surprised when Mikka followed her. She was even more surprised when the young Finn grabbed her roughly and slammed her into the wall.
"Don't think I don't know what you're up to," Mikka whispered hoarsely, her solid hands uncomfortably pressing Erica's souvenir Nokia lolly jar into her leg.
"I'm sorry?" Erica replied with as much dignity as she could muster.
"You Aussie girls are all the same!" Mikka spat with disgust on the spotlessly clean mirror. "You come over here, you seduce my brother, and then you complain about how he has destroyed your innocence and you demand payment! Don't think I'm not wise to you, you slut!"
Erica forebore from pointing out that she'd destroyed her innocence in the back of a ute with Bubba, and made a point of avoiding being alone with Mikka from then on. Remembering the story now, she was struck by a sudden thought. Trudee MacAmore, the bitch editor who'd fired her from Cosmopolitan, had once mentioned that she too had been on an exchange program to Finland. She couldn't have seduced Flikka, could she? Could she?
Erica was distracted from this appalling thought by Mikka.
"It seems you haven't changed then, Erica," Mikka said with undisguised contempt.
"I'm sorry," said Erica, mentally noting that she seemed to say this to Mikka a lot.
In reply, Mikka gestured around the room at the walls. Erica looked up, and blushed red with a mixture of shock and shame.
Patrick's walls were decorated with an assortment of paintings, perhaps ten or fifteen in all. Each of them featured a naked woman in a degrading sexual position. And the face on each woman was Erica's own.