🌹🌹The Swedish Prince 🌹🌹
🌸🌸(ROYAL [email protected]ç£) 🌸🌸
I nearly spill it on myself, my hand is shaking so [email protected]
There it is on the cover of Sweden’s Hänt Extra.
A picture of Maggie with a bottle of wine in her hand, raised in the air. Her hair is a bit lighter and it’s obviously taken in New York and probably yanked from her Facebook page.
The headline says “The Secret is Out! Prince Viktor Has Fallen in Love with an American [email protected] Girl” and the little headlines un-derneath say “Her Tragic Past” and “The King and Queen Disapprove” with little cut-outs of my parents’ heads looking distraught.
It won’t let me scroll throu-gh the article and re-ad it unless I buy a subscription and like hell I’m going to support this vile piece of $h!t journalism. But I have to know what it says about her, if it says anything about the kids.
I call for Nick who appears dressed and re-ady to go in a few minutes.
“Listen,” I tell him. “Something has happened. Are you able to go to the nearest store and get me a copy of this?” I show him the screen.
His eyes wi-den. “Of course.” Then he shakes his head. “We tried so [email protected] to be careful, sir.”
“I know you did, Nick, this isn’t your fault. I knew this would happen sooner or later, I just didn’t want it to happen with the kids arriving today and everything.”
He nods. “Should we make extra precautions in case there is a mob at the airport?”
“Maybe have a decoy car ahead of us, just in case. It can’t hurt.” I pause. “But plea-se, keep it to yourself for now. Maggie doesn’t know.”
“She doesn’t know? Pardon me sir, but you have to tell her. She has to know exactly what she’s getting into. It could be dangerous otherwise.”
I sigh, running my hands down my face. “I know. I know. Okay. I’ll go tell her now.”
“Good,” he says. “I’ll get the paper.”
He takes off and I gather up the courage to wake up Maggie with bad news. I pour her a cu-p of coffee and cream to soften the b!ow, then gr-ab a small bottle of vodka from the cu-pboard, just in case she nee-ds it softened a little bit more.
But by the time I open the door to the be-droom, she’s alre-ady awake
She’s sitting up in be-d, staring at her phone.
She looks up at me and I know she knows. Her face is drawn and pale, her eyes red, her expression contorted.
“What is this?” she whispers. “Did you see this?”
I sigh and slowly walk toward her with the coffee, not sure how to handle this.
“I made you coffee,” I say.
“Did you see this!?” Her words roar out of her.
I swallow my heart. I nod. “I just did this morning.”
“How did this happen? How?”
“There was a snitch at the dinner [email protected], that’s our best guess.”
“Our? Who is our?”
This is going to hurt.
“That’s what my father told me.”
Her eyes blaze. “When did he tell you?” she says throu-gh gritted teeth.
Boom. The realization explodes in her eyes.
“You knew about this since yesterday? Why the fv¢k didn’t you tell me?”
I shake my head. “I don’t know, I don’t know. I guess I wanted… I saw how happy you were and –“
“Oh fv¢k my happiness!” she yells. “Did you re-ad this thing!?”
“Did you? I just s£nt Nick out to get a copy.”
“Oh fv¢k, he knows now too? I guess the whole world does. I used Google translate on the cover so I know exactly the kind of $h!t that’s going to be inside there, and my god, Viktor, the picture! I was at a dorm [email protected]! This makes me look like the biggest piece of trash!”
“It’s going to be okay,” I say, putting down the coffee by her.
“It’s going to be okay?” she repeats bitterly. “fv¢k that! And fv¢k your coffee!” She hits the cu-p and it goes flying across the room where it smashes on the [email protected] floors. “That’s just you trying to bu-tter me up, isn’t it? Isn’t it?”
I’ve never seen Maggie like this before. Uncontrollable and angry as hell. I guess anyone would be in this situation.
I take in a de-ep, steadying breath and ignore the shattered porcelain. “I [email protected]£ up here to tell you. To prepare you.”
“Oh god.” She puts her head in her hands, her dark hair falling over her face. “Oh god,” she mumbles. “All of my life is for the world to see now. They know. They know.”
“Don’t you dare tell me it’s going to be okay,” she says, her head snapping up. “You have no idea what this feels like.”
I balk at that. “I have some idea,” I tell her sharply. “I grew up in this role, maybe not as it is now, but I saw firsthand what it did to my brother. I know the dangers, okay.”
“Then how come you can tell me that it’s going to be all right,” she cries out, throwing out her arm.
“Because I choose to believe that!” I yell at her. “I knew this was going to be [email protected] on you, [email protected] on them, [email protected] on us but I chose to believe that it was worth it. I chose to believe that we would be able to deal with it. And I’m choosing now to think that this is a test that we’ll pas-s and that it’s going to be all right.”
“A test. This isn’t a test. This is just…it’s just…” she trails off and looks away at the broken coffee up. “fv¢k. How am I going to deal with this? I hate that the world knows everything about me now. I hate it. It’s so gross, it’s icky, I’m…ashamed.”
“Maggie, plea-se,” I say softly, her words are breaking my heart. I come over to the be-d and wra-p my arms around her. “I made a mistake and I should have told you. For what it’s worth, my father gave me the information to protect us and I know he would st©p them if he could but he can’t. You’re fair game and it’s unfortunate but it’s the reality now. Maybe they’ll grow bored of you eventually but for now, you’re new and exciting and sadly, I’ve been such a bachelor all these years that I think they’re just excited that I’ve finally found someone to love.”
She snorts into my arms and I can’t tell if she’s laughing or crying.
I place my hand on the back of her hair and hold her ti-ght. “We knew this wouldn’t be easy but we’re just going to have to take each day as it comes and remember why you’re here. And if there is any silver lining here, it’s that now the worst [email protected] is over.”
“Do you really believe that?” she mumbles.
“I know that I was expecting this day. And yes, maybe this matched my expectations because, I know, it’s horrible, but at least the waiting is over. The suspense. You know?”
“So di-plomatic,” she says after a few beats. “Spoken like a true prince.”
I sigh and pu-ll back enough to cu-p her face in my hands. “We’re going to be okay because we’re two pretty amazing people if I do say so myself. We can do this. You have to believe me and you have to try.”
She swallows [email protected], wincing. “I hate that they know everything, Viktor,” she whispers. “Everything I’ve tried to hide.”
“Everything you’ve had no reason to hide. Being poor isn’t a crime. Having a big family in a small town isn’t a crime. Having a blue-collar job isn’t a crime. The only crime here is that your parents were murdered but that’s a tragedy that you’ve all faced head on and come out stronger for it. There is absolutely nothing for you to be ashamed of in the life that you have lived. You should be proud. I’m proud. I’m terribly proud of you, Maggie.”
Now tears spill out of her eyes and onto my hands. I k!ssthe sweet salt of her tears and then place a k!sson her forehead. “Maybe this is what it takes for you to believe it but whatever truth they’re saying is a truth you nee-d to own,” I murmur against her skin. “You’re Maggie Mayhem McPherson and the world isn’t going to forget you.”
At that she laughs, a soft, fluttery little laugh and I know she’s pu-lling in her reserves and trying to be strong.
“I’m so sorry,” she whispers.
She looks over at the coffee. “For breaking that. I bet it was a priceless heirloom from the 1600s or something.”
“I think it’s just IKEA.”
She nods. Smiles. “Of course it is.”
“Now I know that this isn’t the best start to the day but let’s not forget the big picture here. The fact that Pike, April, Rosemary, Thyme and Callum are in the air right now, on their way here. That’s something worth concentrating our energy on.”
She nods and I can see her wrestling with wanting to be excited and wanting to fret over the evil tabloids. “Is it going to be safe to get them?”
“I think so,” I say. “We’ll have a decoy limo just in case but this story just broke. It will take a few days and a few more tabloids and newspapers, unfortunately, before people start recognizing you. If we’re lucky, they might not even recognize the kids at all.”
Of course it was impossible to say how that luck would turn out.
* * *
* * *
“Herdy schmerdy bork bork!” Callum yells as he zooms around the kitchen and out into the hallways, running at the speed of light with a wooden spoon in his hand. He must have [email protected]£d it off the counter when I wasn’t looking.
I exchange a look with Bodi who is trying not to laugh.
“He’s doing an impression of the Swedish Chef,” I explain.
“I gathered that much, sir,” Bodi says, eyes twi-nkling. “Very enthusiastic young child.”
“He’s something all right,” I comment.
I look over at him as he leans against the counter scrolling throu-gh his phone, a glas-s of the aquavit we got for him in his other hand. “You can say that again,” Pike says, not looking up. “I’ve had to take care of him for the last two weeks. Just be glad you don’t have a tricycle in this place because he’ll be re-enacting scenes from The Omen pretty quic-kly.”
“Ah, that’s who he reminds me of,” Bodi says, snapping his f!ngers.
I laugh. “Damian?”
Bodi doesn’t look the slightest bit reprimanded that he called Maggie’s brother the anti-Christ. “And a little bit of myself when I was younger.”
That I can believe.
Pike and I are helping Bodi in the kitchen with some c0cktails and late-night snacks. The kids got off the plane earlier today and they’re all fighting throu-gh jet-lag and no one feels like eating a large meal. In fact, I think the twins are alre-ady in be-d asleep. I have no idea where April is but I probably should find her.
I’ve been drinking. I probably shouldn’t since I have a breakfast tomorrow morning at the Ethiopian embas-sy, but it’s been a stressful day. The fact that Maggie’s identity was b!own has thrown a wrench into our original plans. Originally, Maggie wanted to take them to Gamla Stan tomorrow and show them around the old town but with the press reporting what they are, it’s not such a good idea anymore.
We’re just fortunate that when we went to the airport, they weren’t haras-sed. Airports are so busy and chaotic anyway, I’m sure Maggie and crew blended right in as everyone got into the limo without a problem. Of course I stayed in the limo waiting for them and it was such a nice surprise to see all their faces again, even April’s who seems to have softened just a bit. Or maybe that’s the jet lag.
“Where is April?” I ask them as Bodi arranges cheese on a platter. “Is she with Maggie?”
Pike shrugs. “I don’t know. I think Maggie went to be-d.”
“What? She’s not the one with jet lag.”
Pike finally looks up, his brows pinches in disapproval. “I think this whole thing with her life story being flashed on the cover of every newspaper is a little overwhelming for her.”
And I think her brother just put me in my place.
He goes back to looking at his phone and I exchange a look with Bodi. Then I gr-ab a bottle of scotch from the counter and head out of the kitchen.
I can hear Callum running around on the second floor and even though it’s only eight at night, I wince thinking of anyone who might be trying to sleep.
I have never been one to pity her because Maggie never wants anyone’s pity but I know how [email protected] this has to be on her, how violated she must feel. There is no guidebook for this and we’ll have to take it as it comes and this is just day one of it all but all I can do is hope and pray that we’ll be able to get throu-gh this.
The thought of it becoming too much for her, the thought of her leaving…
Because she might do that, won’t she? Leave with the kids when it’s time to go. I thought my chances of convincing her to stay were slim, but I always as-sumed she would eventually come back. That we could make this work as a long distance relationsh!pif nothing else. If it [email protected]£ official.
But now…now the fear is building in my che-st, one brick on t©p of the other, getting higher and higher until I can’t breathe.
She might leave me and never come back.
No matter how I ask her to stay.
Even if it’s forever.
And remember forever isn’t enough.
At that I slug back some of the scotch and make my way into the [email protected]
The lights are off so I fli-ck them on and I’m surprised to see April sitting in an arm chair in the middle of the room, a glas-s of something beside her.
“Why are you sitting in the dark?” I ask her suspiciously.
She shrugs. “I don’t know. Felt like it.”
“You’re not tired? It’s late enough now, you can go to be-d.”
Another shrug. “I’m not tired.”
I pause, take another swig of the scotch which catches her attention.
“Can I have some?” she asks.
I peer at her glas-s. “What’s in there?”
“Some Swedish apple drink,” she says, eying my bottle pleadingly.
I exhale heavily, feeling like I’ve alre-ady fv¢ked up today so why not.
I walk over to her and she holds out her glas-s and I pour the smallest amount possible into the remains of her drink. “It’s scotch,” I tell her. “I don’t think you’ll like it.”
“As long as it’s not too peaty,” she says, taking a small sip. “Probably better on its own but it will do.”
I frown at her, taken aback. “Not too peaty? May I ask how you know all these things? You’re fourteen.”
If looks could kill. “Just because I’m fourteen and I’m from a small town doesn’t mean I’m not worldly. I know my scotch.”
“I guess I had you pegged wrong,” I tell her.
“Most people do,” she grumbles.
“Mind if I sit down?”
She shrugs. “Whatever.”
I sit down beside her and put my feet up on the coffee table, place the bottle to myl-ips and have another gulp, swallowing that beautiful burn.
April’s eyes are on me. “I’ve never seen you drink like this.”
My turn to shrug. “Maybe you’ve pegged me wrong too.”
She seems to think this over. “Maybe.”
“So how were things at home with Maggie gone? Must have been nice,” I say, knowing how well they don’t get along.
She narrows her eyes at me. “Must have been nice?”
“Yes. I’m as-suming you get along better with Pike.”
She studies me for a few moments, then has a quic-k sip of her drink, sma-cking herl-ips together. “I don’t know,” she says slowly. “Pike isn’t any better.”
“Well I can tell you that both Maggie and Pike are trying their best. They’re trying very [email protected]”
“I know,” she says sharply and then sighs, falling back into the couch. “I know they are and I wish they would st©p.”
“Because it’s not their job. It was mom and dad’s job.”
“April, your sister is your legal guardian.”
“But she’s not my mother!” she snaps and before I know what’s happening, tears are streaming down her face. “She’s my sister and I miss my sister. I miss having her as a sister. I miss our real mother. I miss my father. I miss them so much!”
She starts sobbing and I gently put my arm around her, pu-lling her into me, shocked that April is breaking down and opening up.
“I just want things to go back to the way it was,” she cries. “I want everyone to be happy again. I know that Maggie is trying and I feel awful for her, about everything she’s lost, but we’ve lost so much too. We’re all hurting and we’re all trying to get throu-gh it. Callum cries himself to sleep sometimes and it breaks my heart and it makes me so angry. It makes me so so angry and nothing changes! Nothing happens. We’re stuck like this forever.” She starts to shake slightly. “I just miss them and I can’t handle that they aren’t here.”
“It’s okay. I un-derstand.”
“How can you un-derstand?” she cries into me, sniffing. “You’re a fv¢king prince! You don’t know what it’s like.”
It then occurs to me that Maggie has never told her family about Alex. In a way I’m t©uçhed that she’s kept that so pri-vate.
“I know what it’s like, April,” I tell her, my voice grave. “I lost my brother earlier this year. He was the heir apparent, he was the next in line for the throne and I was always in his shadow. But he wasn’t well and we were all too selfish and busy to realize it, to really take it seriously. He committed suicide.” I pause, taking in a de-ep breath, trying not to cry either. There’s something about talking about it, reliving that moment that I can never get past.
“I found him.” I swallow the growing lump in my throat, feeling my lungs squee-ze together. “I can never forget the sight. And sometimes I feel just like you and Maggie and everyone else because there’s no way around it. There’s no changing it. We’re stuck like this. Death is a truth that doesn’t move an inch.”
She sighs against me and I give her shoulders a squee-ze. It’s nice having her with me like this, a side I’ve never seen, but I think she nee-ds to show it to Maggie.
“You should tell Maggie all of this, you know. Don’t bottle it up inside. She thinks you hate her.”
“I don’t hate her,” she grumbles, pu-lling away and wiping the tears from her eyes with her f!ngers. “I just hate that she tries to be my mother.”
“You know she doesn’t have a choice. If it wasn’t her it would be someone else.”
“Like a nanny? I think I’d like that better. Then she can just be a sister again.”
“Well if you ever end up moving here, you can pick your own nanny.”
She blinks at me. “Moving here? We’re moving here?”
“Well, no,” I tell her. “That was premature of me.”
“But you’ve obviously thought about it. Is that why we’re all here? A test run?”
I take another swig. “I don’t know. Would you want to move to Sweden?”
I j£rk my chin inward. “Really? Just like that? No thought? I mean, you just got here. Us Swedens are a strange bunch. You haven’t even tried pickled herring yet.”
“Whatever. I hate school, I hate my friends, I hate all the boys. I wouldn’t mind starting over. And I know why we haven’t been able to move and I know that the others like living there because it reminds them of our parents, but I fv¢king hate living in that house. So yeah, I’ll move here and eat pickled fish if that’s what it takes.”
One thing you have to appreciate about April is that she doesn’t hold anything back.
She raises her brow as she looks at me carefully. “Have you talked about this with Maggie?”
“No, not really.” I clear my throat, not sure if I should tell her this or not. “I, uh, was actually planning on proposing. On Christmas Eve. I have the ring and everything.” Freddie and Magnus helped pick it out. I know that there are heirlooms in the family but I’m doing this without telling my parents. They can either approve or disapprove after but if she says yes, we’re getting married and nothing can st©p that. I don’t care if it means I’m disowned and have to abdicate.
🌸T. B. C🌸
The swedish prince Episode 31
🌹🌹The Swedish Prince 🌹🌹