🌹🌹The Swedish Prince🌹🌹
🌸🌸(ROYAL ROMANCE) 🌸🌸
“Sell it,” he implores me.
“I know what you’re thinking. Sell it and you’ll make your family very happy. You’ll have money in their savings, money for college, money to get that damn toilet of yours fixed. You deserve it. You all do.”
“Viktor, it’s too much.”
“No,” he says, his voice taking on a harder edge. “It’s not too much. It’s not even enough but it’s the best that I can do without…” he sighs. “Please Maggie.”
I rub my lips together while I try and wrestle with the knot in my stomach. I need my pride to take a hike again, I need to believe what he’s saying. “Are you sure?”
“Always more,” he says. “Never less.”
“You’re unreal,” I whisper. “How did I get so lucky to find you? All the people in that hotel I could have walked in on and I walked in on you.”
“All the maids that could have walked in on me, I’m sure glad it was you and not Juanita.”
I let out a sour laugh.
“I am joking of course,” he says quickly. “Perhaps now isn’t the time for it.”
“There’s always time to laugh,” I tell him but he’s kind of right. I feel all humor drain out of me the closer we get to the airport.
I grip the keys with all my might. I’m starting to think I might have to build a shrine to him. Viktor the moose and this car and the Splash Mountain picture. And lavender. Lots and lots of lavender.
I follow him into the terminal, stand by him anxiously as he gets his ticket and drops off his bag and the whole time I feel the seconds slipping away from us.
Why is time so cruel?
Why can’t we just hold it in our hands and keep it for ourselves and never let it let us go?
The walk over to the security line is brutal. I feel like I’m being led to a sentencing.
It shouldn’t be so hard, I tell myself. You’re just overemotional.
But I can’t rationalize my way out of this one.
We stop in front of the the agent who is scanning boarding passes and I know I can’t go past any further.
“Well,” he says, turning to me, grabbing my hand.
I shake my head because no, no. This isn’t it.
“This is it,” he says. He squeezes my hand and gazes down at me with such tenderness that my knees are moments from buckling. I’m barely keeping upright.
“I hope you have a good flight,” I manage to say, my voice starting to break.
“Maggie,” he whispers, running his thumb over my lip, his eyes searching mine, so beautifully pure
My heart almost explodes.
“You could come with me,” he says, swallowing hard. A look of desperation comes over him. “You could come with me. To Sweden. We could be together. Just for a week. You could do it. We could do this.”
“Please don’t ask me,” I plead, the tears brimming in my eyes, making it hard to see. “Please don’t ask me.”
Because if he asks me, if he tries to convince me anymore, I’m so afraid I might say yes. This man means so much to me that I’d be willing to throw everything I have away, just for the chance to be by his side, even if just for a few more days.
“I don’t want to leave you,” he says, clearing his throat. “I can’t say goodbye. I’m not ready.”
“Viktor, please,” I cry out softly.
I see him break right before my eyes.
Then he’s grabbing me, pulling me into his chest, putting his arms around me so tight and then I’m breaking too, shattering and splintering and it’s only his strength that’s keeping me together.
“I will come back for you.” He kisses the top of my head, pressing his lips hard. “Just you try and stop me.”
He then let’s go and steps back and I nearly fall to my knees.
I can’t breathe.
I can’t feel my heart beat.
I can’t feel anything but the loss of him walking away.
“I will come back for you,” he says again, his jaw tight. His eyes don’t leave mine, even as he hands his ticket to the guard to be scanned.
Then he has to turn and walk away, swallowed by the line.
Then he’s gone.
SIX MONTHS LATER******************
“One more question, your highness,” the journalist asks me and from the way her heavily-shadowed eyes twinkle, the sly twist to her bright pink lips, I know this one is going to be something I won’t like.
They always save those questions for the end, so if the interviewee doesn’t answer it the way they want, they can always cut it out.
I’m used to it though. Since I’ve been back, I’ve been fully immersed into my role as heir to the throne, which means countless interviews as my country and the world starts to accept me. It’s all just a formality, a public relations move to ensure that Alex’s legacy is never forgotten and to assure the public that I’m someone they can trust. Maybe even like, although it’s hard to say if I’m winning them over or not. According to my mother I am, according to my father I’m not, and Freddie, dear Freddie, is as diplomatic as ever.
None of this has been easy but I’ve risen to the challenge. I’ve adapted to the schedule and the new life. I’ve learned, for the most part, how to protect my privacy and deal with the paparazzi’s newfound obsession with me.
The Swedish journalists and photographers, they’re a lot easier to handle and I’m starting to know a few of them by name. Swedens in general are fairly reserved and that extends to the tabloids.
The Brits on the other hand are a fucking nuisance. They practically run over babies and kick kittens in order to get their perfect shots and ask the most moronic questions like
“Is it true your brother was in a Satanic cult and was sacrificed?” and “Is it true he was gay?” and “Is it true that you’re having an affair with your butler?” and “about those sex tape rumors…”
I have no idea what the sex tape rumors entail but I have a feeling it involves a butler.
As much as leaving Maggie behind in California killed me, my parents and Dr. Bonakov were right to suggest that leaving Sweden for a while would get my head on straight. I came back from America different, changed. I can’t say if it was having weeks of freedom on the open road, of being completely anonymous, or if it was all Maggie.
Who am I kidding, though? It was all Maggie.
It will always be Maggie.
“What is the question?” I ask the journalist, who also happens to be British. I’m on camera for a British TV show, which, thankfully, isn’t live.
She shows off her blinding veneers. “The other week when you opened the School Leaders Forum in Malmo, a reporter had asked if you met anyone special and you replied, yes, I did once. Can you elaborate on that? Who is the special someone and what happened?”
I groan inwardly while keeping the smile on my face. I remember saying that. I don’t know why I did. It just came out. I’d been asked that for six months straight and every time I dodged it except this one time. I’m lucky I walked away from that reporter without divulging any more information.
Of course now, here I am, caught in the cross-hairs.
“There isn’t much to elaborate on,” I say and I’m already regretting that because I should have just said something like “it meant nothing” or “my personal life is my private life.”
She nods eagerly. “So what can you elaborate on? Who is she? Or him?”
I have to fight to not roll my eyes. “She’s…someone I met once. That’s all. There’s really nothing else to discuss.”
“Christmas is coming next month. You won’t be spending it with anyone?”
I give her a steady look. “No,” I tell her as politely as possible.
The journalist isn’t having it. “But you have to understand, your highness, that you’re one of the most eligible bachelors in the world. On top of that, you’re very handsome. You do know how good-looking you are, right?”
I cock my brow and give her an awkward smile. “Honestly, I spend so little time thinking about it.”
“About your looks or being single?”
“Both,” I tell her. I glance at the producer off to the side and then to Freddie who has been watching this whole thing. “I think I am done here, right?”
“Of course,” the producer says while Freddie nods.
“Jesus,” I say to Freddie after I leave the building and get in the back of the car, flashbulbs following me right to the window. “Did you know she was going to ask that?”
Freddie shakes his head. “No, sir, I did not.”
The driver pulls away, leaving the shouting reporters behind. I glance at them through the narrow window at the back of the car, shaking my head.
“Though I did mean to ask you, sir,” Freddie says. He’s been calling me sir more and more now. “What special someone were you talking about?”
I glance at him. He stares right back at me through his glasses, not the slightest bit chagrined for asking such a personal question.
“I met someone when I was in America,” I tell him.
I have to admit, it feels good to get that off my chest. I haven’t told anyone about Maggie, not counting Prince Magnus.
“I figured that,” he says matter-of-factly and goes back to scrolling through his iPad.
“Wait, what do you mean?” I ask, twisting in my seat to face him. How could he have known? “Did you read my letters?”
“Letters, sir?” he repeats.
When I first got back to Stockholm, I was so busy being thrust into this new life that I barely had any time to talk to Maggie. When I did end up having time to talk on the phone, the time zones came into play. Sure we had texted each other a lot but I had a sneaking suspicion that my emails weren’t as private as they might seem.
The thought of opening a private one, not tied to the palace, had me wary of hackers. You hear those stories all the time too.
So I started to write her letters. I told her not to write me back because there’s no way someone wouldn’t find it but instead she would text me her thoughts and feelings. Our conversations were always delayed but at least I was able to get out to her what I was feeling.
And I was feeling a lot. More than I imagined I could. It wasn’t just her that I was missing, (needing, craving) either. I talked a lot about my job and Alex and my parents and everything I needed to express because she was the only one I felt who really understands me.
Lately though, I haven’t had the time to send her anything and in response, she hasn’t texted either. I know long distance relationships are hard–hell, I don’t even know if what we had or have can be considered a relationship–but I think it’s something worth fighting for.
I just haven’t figured out how to fight for it.
“What letters?” Freddie repeats.
“There was a girl. I wrote her letters.”
“What was her name?” he sounds genuinely curious.
“Maggie,” I tell him. “Maggie Mayhem McPherson.”
“Pardon me for asking, but was she by any chance a stripper?”
I glare at him.
He gives me a small smile. “The name, you see.”
“She was definitely not a stripper,” I tell him. “She was very real. Got handed a terrible hand in life, so yes, I could also see with a name like that and her background, stripping seems like a viable option. But no. She’s one of the hardest working, strongest people I know.”
“She hasn’t come to visit,” Freddie points out. “Or has she?”
I shake my head. “No. It’s just not possible.” I really don’t want to get into Maggie’s history with him, but I think it’s the only way he’ll understand that she’s not like everyone else.
“She’s twenty-three, from a town you’ve never heard of. Her parents died, were murdered actually, a year or two ago and she’s been the legal guardian of her five siblings ever since. Works as a maid to make ends meet.”
For once, Freddie looks impressed. “Wow.”
“Yeah, that’s what I thought. I mean, that’s how she won me over at first. I was just…fucking impressed.”
“You sure it wasn’t her looks?”
“I never said she was hot.”
“Sir, I am betting she’s hot.”
I can’t help the stupid smile spreading across my face. I look away. “She’s beautiful.”
“But the more I talked to her, the more I got to know her…in many different ways…the more I realized how alike we were.”
“Well I must say it sounds like a shame I can’t meet her.”
“Yes, it is,” I say with a sigh, staring out the window. If Maggie were here, would she even like Stockholm? It’s dark now, as sin, and the forecast tonight calls for snow. Even though it’s the end of November and technically autumn, it’s been cold as fuck and it’s only going to get worse. Sweden is a far cry from California.
By the time the car takes me back to Haga Palace, I’m tired and climb the three floors up to my bedroom to retire early. It’s a far cry from the palatial apartment I had before.
The apartment, though it consisted of the entire top floor of one of Stockholm’s grandest buildings, was very private and rather homey. I had Freddie down the hall in his own apartment, as well as guards and my butler, Bodi, in theirs.
But while I was away in America, my parents decided to have me moved, unbeknownst to me. It’s a fucking shock when you get off a plane, dealing with no sleep, jetlag, and a broken heart, to discover that you no longer live where you thought you lived and all of your belongings have been moved elsewhere.
I know Haga Palace is the place where Swedish nobility live and raise their families, but because neither Alex nor I have families, we were able to live in apartments downtown. I don’t know if moving me here is a hint for me to hurry up and start a family (that seemed to be on the journalist and Freddie’s mind too), or, after Alex, they just want to keep an eye on me, but this is the place to do it.
It’s just too big for me, too formal. Rooms after rooms after rooms. There are chefs and maids and butlers and Freddie and Stig, my PR person, and guards and more.
The estate stretches on and on and I swear the furnishings came with the place when it was built in 1802. It’s vastly impersonal and though it’s still in Stockholm proper, it’s in a park outside all the action.
Which is another thing I’m still having a hard time coming to terms with that comes with the new territory. Before this, I was able to do what I pleased, and no one cared much. Not that I was out a lot, but I liked the freedom. Now, I can’t. I can’t even leave this place without being driven out and the number of guards and secret police around 24/7 has doubled.
Of course it’s selfish of me to lament such a change, the loss of my freedom, when it’s all because the loss of my brother. It’s his loss that always weighs on me more. It’s his loss that always will.
It’s only been eight months or so since he died.
Most days I’m too busy to grieve and then I think that maybe I’ve moved past it and I’m going to be okay. I think to myself “I didn’t think about Alex today” or “I thought about him and I didn’t feel that razor kick to the gut” and then I both feel like I’m finally pulling myself out of this spiral while at the same time feeling guilty for not thinking about him.
But there is no one way out of this.
One day you might feel fine.
Other days you’re reaching for some brandy, reaching for a pill to make you sleep.
Reaching for Maggie.
How could it be that I was only with her for a week when I swear I was with her for a lifetime?
How come having her in my bed for three nights felt like she’d be in my bed forever?
Why is it that I felt more alive with her than I did in all my days before we met?
There’s a weariness that strikes me this time of night, when my thoughts turn to her and all we could have had. If only I had tried harder to convince her to come to Sweden, if only it was a plan from the start and not something I impulsively blurted at the airport.
But I know that’s not how any of this works.
That’s not how love works.
It’s not something you plan.
Love is mercurial and goes where it wants, when it wants.
It’s not something you choose.
Love is something that happens.
Like an accident or a stroke of fate.
It happens to you whether you want it to or not.
It happened to me and I’ve spent a long time grappling with what I was truly feeling for her. I didn’t believe it was possible to feel what I did. I didn’t believe in a lot of things before I met her.
In the end, I didn’t want to debate myself anymore.
I gave in.
I accepted it.
And here I am. Lonely as hell, holed up in a room at the top of a palace, trying to wrestle with so many demons I don’t know which one to tackle first but I know now, after so much time, in the deepest seat of my heart, that I love her.
I still love her.
And there’s just no fucking cure for that.
So I have a glass of brandy, pour myself another, and I sit down at my desk and I pick up my pen and I write.
* * *
Dearest Maggie, Miss America, Margaret Mayhem,
* * *
I was going to start this letter by calling you mitt min lilla persika but I decided that it might be inappropriate since I can’t see your beautiful face in front of me right now, and I’m not sure if those peach-like lips would smile or not.
I’ve been missing you lately. I miss you all the time but as it gets so cold and dark here and winter approaches, I’m dreaming of sunny California and your wonderful laugh. I know I’m not a comedian but when I was with you, it was a game to me to try and make you laugh as often as I could. Maybe game is the wrong word–it was a challenge. When you smiled, when you laughed, it was like the sun was shining straight out of my heart. It’s like I found the angels inside of you, devils too, an interesting mix when you think about it, but all the best people are interesting mixes. It’s like going to a party and seeing people with wings and people with horns and you think to yourself, damn this is going to be a good one.
I’m probably not making much sense so please pardon me. I’m drinking brandy and I’ve had a hell of a day. What was it that you say in California? Hella?
I’ve never felt so alone as I do now.
I just had to write that down.
I want to talk about Alex with people, but I can’t.
I want to talk about you with people, and I can’t.
You were the only one to really understand me.
I don’t really think you have any idea of what you did to me, do you?
I’m not sure you ever will.
Words aren’t enough.
I have to show you.
If only you could come here. You will grow to love pickled herring, I promise you.
Everyone is so boring.
Being a prince is the loneliest job.
Or maybe that’s not true.
Maybe it’s just lonely being Viktor.
Sometimes I imagine you beside me when I go to the balls and galas and dinner parties and other places I’m carted off to each day and night. I pretend you’re there, like a ghost that only I can see. I can almost hear your voice as you comment on what people are wearing and try the appetizers being passed around. I know you look beautiful in your gown, and if people could see you, they’d wonder how I got to be so lucky.
I am so so lucky to have known you.
Been with you.
And I refuse to think that our luck has run out.
I always said I’d come back for you.
I hope you’re not wondering why I haven’t.
I’m not sure why I haven’t.
I’m going to have some more brandy now.
* * *
Alltid mer, aldrig mindre,
(always more, never less)
* * *
(Mr. Johan Andersson)
(Mr. Swedish Driver’s License)
(Mr. Sex God)
I swear you called me that once.
* * * * * *
I fold up the paper, slide it into an envelope that I keep in a stack in my desk drawer, then I drink.
* * *
* * *
A week later and Magnus has come to visit.
I haven’t really had time to prepare.
You see when Crown Prince Magnus of Norway shows up in Stockholm, I usually need a few days to put together an itinerary. This is not a man who is happy sitting in my study with me and talking by the fire with a few snifters or cognac or perhaps aquavit. Believe me, I like to go out but for Magnus it’s a requirement. Royal policy, as he often calls it.
He’s staying with me. The driver drops him off right at my front door.
When I jog down the stairs to greet him, he’s got a bottle of aquavit in one hand and has his arm around my butler, Bodi.
“Viktor!” Magnus exclaims. “You’re here!”
I pause at the bottom of the stairs and raise my brow, trying to figure out if he’s drunk or not.
The flight from Oslo is short and he would have bought that at Duty Free. Booze in Sweden is a lot cheaper than the booze in Norway, not that it matters for Norwegian royalty.
“How much of that have you had?” I ask him.
He shrugs. “Not enough. Man, you have stuffy butlers here in Sweden. I think your old boy here needs to get laid.”
The funny thing is that Bodi is not old by any means. He’s forty-five with a shock of red hair and is extremely good at putting people in their place. And by that, I mean he uses his fist a lot. Not on me, but they do say red hair is indicative of temper.
I swear Bodi’s face goes rage red to match his hair, so I just shake my head and say, “I’ve got it from here, thank you.”
He nods, glares at Magnus, and then walks away.
“What’s he mad about, that we keep kicking your ass at downhill?”
He means skiing and more specifically the Olympics and trials.
“He used to be in the military,” I explain. “Which means he’s used to putting drunk asses like yourself in their place.”
“I’m not drunk,” he says again with a heavy sigh. “And you were in the military too, don’t forget.”
“And I also know how to put drunk asses in their place.”
He grins at me. “I heard what happened.”
“What?” I frown. This is never a good start to a sentence.
“Oh you know. Little birds talk don’t they. You never told me that the reason you were sent to America was because you punched your guard in the face.”
Oh yes. Poor Gustav.
I give him a tepid smile. “We all have our moments.”
“And we shall have some more.” He pats his monogrammed suitcase. “Let me get settled first.”
“Louis Vuitton?” I muse as I look at the suitcase, trying not to laugh. “Since when do you wear designer anything? You’re usually found in, well…”
“Usually nothing, right?” He starts lugging it up the stairs to the second floor. “A girl I was seeing has stock in the company. Or her family does. Long story short, she was pretty hot, but the free suitcase was the better end of the deal.” He pauses.
“Same room as last time? I thought you would have put in an elevator by now, my god you’re a terrible prince, aren’t you? No wild demands or anything.”
I follow him up the stairs and would offer to help him with the suitcase, but Magnus is a big guy and can more than take care of himself. Not as tall as me but about six-foot-two and absolutely shredded as they say in America. He has to be for all the crazy sports shit that he does.
He busts into the guest bedroom and tosses the suitcase on the bed with one hand, still holding onto the bottle with the other. He then pushes his shaggy dark hair off his face and holds out the bottle for me.
“Skal, Viktor,” he says, his wild eyes imploring me to do a shot straight out of the bottle.
So I do.
I haven’t had aquavit in a while and for a moment it reminds me of my date with Maggie.
I can barely get through the days without her haunting me.
“What?” Magnus frowns, taking the bottle back like he’s been personally insulted by whatever look I have on my face.
He shakes his head, has another glug from the bottle. “You are the worst liar, Viktor.”
“This is the second time I’ve seen you since you got back from America and you still have that mopey stupid look on your face.”
I instinctively run my hand over my features and then try to give him a blank look. “Better?”
“No.” He sighs and looks around the bedroom with the ornate poster bed and gold threaded bedding and the cherry wood details. “Christ, it looks like set decoration from a bad play, doesn’t it? Where’s the Scandinavian charm?”
“There is no charm in this place,” I tell him. “And don’t forget, all of Swedish royalty originally came from France.”
“Those fuckers. So what do you have planned? If it doesn’t involve pussy, then I’m going to be very disappointed.”
“So crude. Didn’t your mother ever teach you manners?”
“Yes. She did. These are her manners. Crude as fuck. All hail Queen Crude.” He heads over to his suitcase, opens it and pulls out a dress shirt. “Okay, so let’s go.”
“Where? I can tell you didn’t plan anything, so I say we just go to a club and find some women.”
“You know we can’t just do that.”
“You don’t know the right clubs.”
Apparently I don’t. Even though it’s just past dinner, I get dressed into a black dress shirt and jeans, something more club-friendly I suppose, and we arrange for a limo to take us to some fancy place downtown.
“Are you sure about this?” I ask him.
“Yes,” he says with a sigh. “There’s a back entrance and I’ve used it many times before.”
“I bet you have.”
He just grins at me.
“Besides, you know we’re never alone,” he adds. “We have guards tailing the both of us constantly. They won’t let people within a foot of our blindingly masculine radius. I’m sure in the end they’ll end up closing down our section and we can just pull a few hot girls from the floor and a few bottles of champagne and that’s the end of it.”
He’s right too. He knows Stockholm’s nightlife better than I do. If anyone lives by the philosophy of there’s no cow on the ice, it’s Magnus.
Except once we do get in the dark club with the thumping bass and the smell of drugs, and once our guards have gone around and confiscated every phone from those who wish to stay in the area, the conversation turns serious.
Well as serious as it can get considering Magnus just brought over a tall blonde for himself and a curvy brunette for me.
While the girls chat to each other about who knows what beside us, sipping champagne, giggling and stealing adoring glances, Magnus turns to me and says, “So you have to get over her. Tonight you shall start. I get Betty, you get Veronica.”
“Her?” I repeat, having some champagne and buying time because somehow, I know he’s talking about Maggie.
“Yes, her. The girl. From California. The one you called me about and never mentioned again.”
“Why do you think I’m not over her? Or that I got under her? All I told you was that I felt bad for lying.”
“No,” he laughs. “No, no, no. I told you that you should feel bad for lying to her. Whatever happened to the article anyway?”
“She didn’t write it.”
“She interviewed me…and we…it got serious for a few days. But she never ended up doing it.”
“Lucky for you.”
“I wouldn’t have minded,” I admit. “It would have brought her money. It would have taken care of her for a bit. But she ended up with my car, so…”
“So, you wanted to take care of her. Do you still?”
I glance at him and for once he’s earnest. “I do. But I know she can take of herself.”
“Of course they can take care of themselves,” he says and then he tips his head toward the girls who are giggling very loudly about something. “Maybe they can’t. But most women can. It’s all about wanting to provide, my friend, and when you get that urge to provide then I think that means something.”
“That I’ve entered caveman mode?” I sigh and tap my fingers against the champagne glass, wishing I wasn’t here, where this music—and Magnus—are doing my head in. “Whatever it means, she’s there and I’m here.”
“Then invite her over. Get her ass in your royal palace. Or is it get your royal palace in her ass?”
I roll my eyes. “I tried.”
I give him a steady look because he has no idea. “It’s not that easy. She can’t just up and leave her life all because I want her here.”
“It’s as easy as you make it. Right? So go make it easy.”
“I don’t even know if she wants to talk to me anymore. I haven’t really gotten any responses from the last letters I sent.”
He blinks at me for a moment, his dark, arched brows slowly coming together.
“You’ve been writing her letters?”
“Like you live in the fucking 1500s?”
I pause. “Yes.”
“And you’re wondering why she hasn’t been getting back to you?”
I’m not sure what he’s getting at. “Yes.”
“You are a bigger idiot than I thought, Viktor,” he says. “Fucking moose is right. Big dumb moose.”
🌸T. B. C 🌸