🌹🌹The Swedish Prince 🌹🌹
“Well, Swedish nobility originated in France,” he says. “This palace itself was built in the 16th century. It’s a UNESCO heritage site. Gorgeous, but not very homey, in my opinion.”
“But you grew up here. I can’t imagine what that would have been like.”
He shrugs. “You know what you know.”
It’s truly something and honestly has me so awed that for a minute there I forget to be nervous.
That is until I step in through the front doors.
Gold ceilings, massive chandeliers, and columns made of quartz, busts and statues adorning the walls.
I so don’t belong here.
And in the middle of it all are what seem to be a group of staff. Now here are the butlers and maids and cooks you think about in all those fairy tales and they’re all here, hands behind their backs and waiting to attend to us.
One takes my coat, another hands me a glass of champagne and then a tall thin man in a suit with slicked back blonde hair and an iron jaw is whisking Viktor and I over to another opulent room that puts the ones at our palace to shame. I didn’t even think that you could compare palaces and have one be better than another but it turns out you can.
He eyes my champagne glass. Which is suddenly empty. “Thirsty?”
Nervous as fuck, I mouth to him.
“They’ll be with you shortly,” the blonde guy says to Viktor, seeming to give me a look of disdain before he strides off.
“What’s with Dolf over there?” I joke.
“How did you know his name was Dolf?”
I blink at him and laugh. “Are you serious? His name is Dolf? I was making a joke. You know because he looks like that actor, Dolf Lundgren? You know, The Punisher and He-Man and –”
“Dolf Lundgren is a national hero,” he says, almost defensively.
“Is he Swedish?” I ask.
“Who, the actor or my father’s private secretary?”
I’m going to assume they’re both Swedish. “Never mind.”
“His real name is Hans, by the way,” Viktor says under his breath just as the doors open and two butlers come in, standing to the side of the doors.
One of the butlers announces something in Swedish.
Oh shit. This got real.
The King and Queen of Sweden step inside the room.
Both Viktor and I immediately get to my feet and I realize he hasn’t taught me any of the royal protocol, so I’m trying to do my best impression of a curtsey.
They both walk, no, glide into the room and stop right in front of us.
I glance up and they’re staring down at me with tight smiles.
Shit. Maybe I’m not supposed to curtsey. Or maybe it just looks like I have a bad back.
“Mamma, pappa,” Viktor says before he switches to English.
I straighten up and give them my brightest smile, the one that says, I’m sweet and normal I swear, please don’t hate me.
“How do you do?” I say and then offer my hand.
They both look down at my hand and then over to Viktor, nonplussed.
In the agonizingly awkward seconds that my hand is just out there waiting, I take a good look at them. I’ve seen pictures of course, but in person they’re just that much more intimidating. More good-looking too.
Viktor’s father has thick dark hair peppered with gray and a tall, foreboding stature. His mother has delicate features, high cheekbones, a stylish blonde bob that set off her glacial blue eyes. For some reason I expected both to be in tuxedos and gowns but they’re both in modest suits, hers pink, his a dark green.
Then, for a second, I’m thinking maybe they don’t speak English and they don’t know what he’s saying or how to talk to me.
Finally, after an exchange of looks between the three of them, his mother – the fucking queen – extends her hand to mine and gives it a firm shake. “So nice to meet you,” she says.
“Likewise,” I tell her. “Your Majesty,” I add quickly.
The King shakes my hand after. “Viktor said you were beautiful,” he says. “I see that he is right.”
My smile gets shaky. See, that wasn’t so bad. The king thinks I’m beautiful and the queen says it was nice to meet me. That could have been worse.
“Thank you,” I tell him. “Your Grace.”
He looks at Viktor and back to me. “We don’t really use that term here in Sweden.”
“Oh I’m so sorry!” I exclaim.
“Not a problem,” he says to me though he’s giving Viktor a look like who is this crazy girl and why haven’t you been teaching her anything proper?
I’m about to open my mouth and make a remark about no cow on the ice but I decide from now on I better just shut up. I tend to talk and babble when I’m nervous and this is no exception.
“Shall we have a drink before the guests arrive?” his mother says and Viktor leads me to the end of the ginormous room where a few couches and love seats are gathered around what looks to be a solid gold coffee table.
A butler comes in and stares at me expectantly.
“What will you have, dear?” the Queen asks.
“What are you having?” I ask.
“Just coffee,” she says to the butler.
Shit. I guess that means I’m having coffee.
“Maggie will have a glass of champagne,” Viktor says, coming to my rescue. “I’ll have a scotch.”
“Make that two,” his father says as the butler replies something that must be the equivalent of “very good” in Swedish and goes to the lavish bar cart in the corner which happens to have an espresso machine.
“So,” the Queen says as she’s handed her coffee. “Viktor tells me you’re a journalism student.”
“Was a journalism student,” I tell her. “I studied at NYU.”
“That’s a very good school,” Viktor’s father comments. “Do you see yourself pursuing a job in that field at some point? Viktor tells me you’re currently a…housekeeper?”
I smile stiffly. “Was a housekeeper.” I swear Viktor kicks me on purpose. “I quit my job to come here.”
“Oh,” his mother says then takes a sip of her coffee. “I see.”
This isn’t going well.
The butler hands me my champagne and I immediately busy myself by drinking it.
Viktor puts a hand on my knee and squeezes it. “I’m sure Maggie will be going back to journalism very soon. She’s a natural reporter and a gifted writer. In fact, I think her interview skills are hard to duplicate. Did you know that within five minutes, she was getting all the details of Nick’s personal life?”
“No kidding,” his father says, seeming impressed.
“Yes, he admitted that his favorite musician at the moment is Harry Styles. Anyway, she has a promising career ahead of her.”
I’m glad that Viktor is sticking up for me like this, even though it’s not exactly true. I haven’t really thought much about journalism lately, especially after I didn’t end up writing the article about him. Maybe I’m too preoccupied, maybe I’ve just moved on. They say whatever you end up studying rarely becomes your career.
I am a little annoyed that Viktor is talking for me though. It’s a bad habit of his, along with ordering for me and the like. I know he can be bossy and dominant sometimes and I don’t even think he realizes it. In this case, though, it’s best to let him keep talking. He knows how to work his parents.
After that though, the small talk changes from me to King Aksel, and then some other people I don’t know from other countries and I end up feeling pretty excluded and rather bored. I just keep drinking my champagne and wishing we could go back home.
Then King Aksel arrives and we’re all hustled out into the hall and everything gets very formal.
I stand beside Viktor, waiting to greet him.
King Aksel is tall and handsome with a cutting jaw sprinkled with stubble, his hair a sandy brown. His eyes are hard and squinty and this gem-like dark blue and he seems to be perpetually frowning. He’s almost too perfect except for his nose which is crooked in places and seems to have been broken a few times. I wonder what the story is there.
I’m introduced to King Aksel and I do my best not to fuck it up. I almost do by offering my hand again but before I can move it, Viktor grabs it and holds it to my side with an iron grip. That’s when I realize that perhaps you aren’t supposed to offer your hand first to royalty.
So I wait for King Aksel to offer his hand first and I barely say anything else other than “Your Majesty” followed by a short curtsey.
This seems to satisfy him but I can’t be sure. His eyes flutter with a lot of dark emotions I can’t read into and his grip on my hand is crushing. What is it with these Nordic royals and their strong hands?
I’m then introduced to the entourage that follows him in, his sister Princess Stella and her family, plus head secretaries and a few dignitaries and maybe the entire cast of Hamlet.
The dinner is upstairs in what I’m sure is one of many dining rooms and as I climb the stairs with Viktor, hanging onto his arm while making sure I don’t step on my dress, I’m accosted with the gorgeous sounds of classical music which makes everything seem extra fairy-tale like and royal.
When I get to the second floor I’m shocked to find a man sitting at a grand piano in the hall and playing the music live.
The queen turns to me and says, “Are you a fan of classical music?”
“Yes!” I exclaim. I mean, I like it a lot. I used to listen to it when I studied. “And I adore Chopin’s Waltz,” I add, proud that I remembered the name of the piece.
She flinches and lets out a disbelieving laugh. “Chopping?” she repeats.
I nod. “Yes. Chopin.”
Viktor groans from beside me.
The queen shakes her head, biting back a smile. “It’s not chopping, dear. It’s French. It’s pronounced Chopin.”
Oh. My. God.
My cheeks go bright red.
The queen exchanges a humorous look with Viktor and then walks ahead.
I glance up at him, ready to crawl into a hole and die. How American must I have just sounded? Chopping? Like choppin’ wood? Jesus.
Viktor is trying not to laugh but he fails.
“You jerk,” I whisper. “That was so embarrassing!”
“Was? I think it still is.”
I punch him on the arm, much to the amusement of some of the other guests as we make our way into the dining room. Whatever, at this point I’ve lost all credibility. I’m the uncouth American to everyone, watch me blunder my way through this next portion of the night.
But even though dinner looked to be an intimidating affair with this long fancy table and waiters hovering around and five courses and a million forks and knives, none of which I know how to use either, the whole event isn’t too bad. It helps that no one really pays me any attention so they just talk about everyone and everything else.
By the time the deserts come out though, people start retiring to different sections of the room and both the King and Queen sequester Viktor, leading him out of the room and elsewhere.
Viktor glances at me over his shoulder with a look that tells me not to worry, he’ll be back, and then I’m left alone with all these people I don’t know.
Fuck. This is the worst part of parties and being with royalty who come from completely different lives than I do, let alone, most people, I just want to shrink in the corner.
But I try making small talk with Princess Stella who is probably in her early thirties and when that doesn’t really go anywhere, I start making conversation with her daughter Anya. She might only be six but she’s the best talker out of all of them, and she speaks fluent English as well. We get in a discussion about Katy Perry and once again I’m grateful for pop stars, the universal language.
Finally, once the drinks start getting passed around and Viktor still hasn’t come back yet, I get up to go and find the bathroom and end up wandering down an endless hallway. Shit, I hope I don’t get lost and then end up walking into some forbidden room or something like that. I bet they have a dungeon downstairs that they would gladly stick me in.
“Maggie,” I hear Viktor whisper from behind me.
I turn to see him creeping toward me with his finger to his mouth, telling me to be quiet. The fact that he’s in a suit and doing this along the ornate palace hallways reminds me of a movie I can’t quite place.
“Where are your parents?” I ask him in a hush.
“They’re coming,” he says.
“Where did you go?”
“They wanted to have a talk with me.”
I stare at him. “Yeah, and? What did you talk about?”
“Many things. Nothing to worry about.” He jerks his head back toward the dining room. “How is it in there? Has Aksel softened up at all?”
“A bit,” I tell him. “Everyone is getting into the brandy and aquavit now. I was just going to freshen up my lipstick. Normally I would whip it out and do it right there but it feels so rude in front of the King of Denmark.”
Viktor smirks. “It’s so easy to take that sentence the wrong way. Come on.” He takes my arm and strides down the hallway, shoulders back, taking long, wide steps, like he’s the king of everything. Even though he seems to have hesitations about this place, it certainly suits him.
We walk past several doors and it isn’t until he pokes his head in a library and ushers me inside that I clue in to what’s going on. He looks back and forth down the hall to make sure no one saw us, then shuts the doors gently.
“What are you doing?” I ask.
“Stealing you away from the party,” he says, grabbing me by the silky waist of my green dress and turning me so my back is pressed up against a row of books. “Taking you for myself.”
“Sounds selfish,” I tease.
“Sounds like the truth,” he says. He brushes the loose strands of my hair behind my ears. “I hate having to share you with people. That my parents and other monarchs want a piece, have an opinion. I hate that I can’t keep you for myself. I hate that soon, whatever private and precious thing we have will be gone.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, we can’t stay a secret forever, Maggie. People will find out who you are. And I don’t want the world to cheapen what we have.”
“Cheapen?” I repeat. “Because they’ll find out I’m a commoner, is that right? No wait, I’m worse than a commoner. I clean commoner’s hotel rooms and live in small-town in America, taking care of five kids.”
“Maggie,” he whispers to me, picking up my hand and kissing my knuckles, his eyes sinking deep into mine. “Don’t say such things. You know that it’s not true, that you’re not cheap. None of that matters. What matters is that I’m public property and I don’t want you to be public property too.”
I guess I was a bit defensive. I give him a soft smile. “Sorry. I guess I always think the worst.”
“Don’t think the worst,” he tells me. Winks. “Especially when I’m about to give you my best.”
I let out a laugh that turns into a gasp as he grabs my hips and hoists me up so that I’m balanced on the edge of a book shelf, my hands gripping the sides to keep me steady. He tugs my dress up so it’s gathered around my waist, then crouches down, his head between my legs, my underwear pushed to the side.
I barely have time to compose myself, to prepare, to say “hey, are you sure we should be doing this here?” I don’t get to say any of that because he’s at me like he’s starving, his fingers sliding me apart, his tongue and mouth so soft and warm. I feel every sensation like a bullet, each stroke a hit, radiating outward.
And just like that, any hesitation I had about him screwing me in the palace library melts away. His touch always brings what I feel for him to the forefront. It’s how he soothes me, how he tells me that what we have is good and strong and that we’re meant for each other.
I want so much from him. But among his satisfied groans and his hungry sounds, I know he just wants to devour me. He wants me to have as much pleasure as he can bring me, because he isn’t sure that he’s doing enough, making me feel enough. He doesn’t want to share me with the world.
But he won’t.
I’m all his, always his.
I groan, loudly, and my fingers curl around the edges of the shelf. I’m not sure if this room has cameras and I don’t think it has a lock, so what we’re doing could get us in big trouble. It’s not secret in here that we’re together but even so…
My thoughts melt away again, becoming less and less as he licks me out.
His mouth is ruthless. He’s tireless. His tongue plunges deep inside me before licking up my clit and sucking me into his mouth. I nearly scream, my body at the height of all awareness, on the verge of overload.
He reaches down with one hand, and two long, beautiful fingers thrust deep inside, curling against me. The heat builds deeper, and my nerves are a million champagne bottles about to burst. It’s the slow, twisting anticipation that makes my mouth drop open and my neck arch back until my head meets the books on the shelves.
God, I’m not sure how much longer I can last and Viktor’s just gotten started. My legs clench around his face, driving his lips and tongue and fingers against me, inside me, harder, deeper, and he responds by acting as if I’m all he needs to live his life, like he’d die without me.
With impatient hands, he pulls me toward him, his tongue hard and urgent, and the world begins to move, to swing like a pendulum and we’re both on it for the ride.
I want to feel him, all of him. My hips rock into him hard. He drags his tongue back over my clit, flicking it so fast, back and forth, over and over, and I can’t breathe anymore.
He moans against me, the vibrations shattering my resolve.
And then I let go.
I’m swirling into space, coming into his mouth, nearly falling off the edge of the shelf. His hands grip my waist, holding me up, while he finishes me up with the hard suck of his lips, ripping a cry out of my throat.
I’m loud. I know I am. And at this blissful moment I don’t mind if someone in the hallway knows, overhears my cries, because this man is incredible and the whole world should know it.
When my orgasm subsides against his lips, he straightens up, staring at me with feverish eyes. His eyes that say he knows my body better than anyone, better than myself, and he’ll never stop proving it.
Instinctively, I grab his head and kiss him, long and soft, the taste of me on his tongue reinvigorating me.
He moans into my mouth, and it’s a sound straight from his gut, making my blood run even hotter. “You taste like a peach,” he whispers, his lips moving to my neck. “Now you know just how good.”
I undo his belt and unzip his pants, fumbling for his cock, grasping his stiff length in my palm, so hot and pulsing against my skin. He moves forward and I guide him in, so wet and ready for him that he slides in like silk, our bodies accustomed to each other with a beautiful kind of ease.
I wrap my legs around his waist, the dress flowing around us, my heels digging into his firm ass as he starts rocking into me, each slow, slick glide igniting my nerves once again.
I whimper as we find our rhythm, like we always find our rhythm. My body aches from wanting him so intensely, and without saying anything, his body responds, always giving me more than I need.
Always more, never less.
“Maggie,” he groans against me, breathless, as a bead of sweat falls off his brow and onto my collarbone. He thrusts in harder and deeper, and it feels like the air is being pushed out of my lungs and I’m clinging to his body as his pace quickens.
I press my nails into his back, hanging onto the ride. Our skin slaps together in a violent, thick sound that echoes off the bookshelves. Each push is long and hard, and he grunts with effort until his cock hits me in just the perfect place.
I come hard.
His hips pound against me, brutal, punishing, and he’s gone in a flurry of groans, my name whispered over and over as he claws at my hips, releasing every inch of himself inside me, shooting as far and as deep as he can go.
When we’ve both caught our breath, when our hearts have slowed their schizophrenic pace, he pulls out of me and he grabs my waist, lowering me to the hardwood floor, my ass completely numb.
“Well,” I say after a few moments, reaching up and straightening his tie. I’m a bit unsteady on my feet, my legs feeling heavy, my head full of stars and champagne. “Wasn’t that a royal treat?”
“I think we both needed that tonight. Just so we can get through the rest of this evening.” He grins at me and grabs my hand, squeezing it. “Let’s go join the party.”
“I think they’ll know what we were doing,” I tell him as we open the doors and look out into the hall. Empty.
“Let them think what they want,” he says.
Though I have a feeling he might regret saying that.
“Viktor, we need to talk.”
The four scariest words on the planet.
“So this isn’t really about skiing, is it?” I ask my father.
The two of us are on cross-country skis on his palace property. My father is hell-bent on staying in shape since his father and grand-father both were victims of heart disease so in the winters he skis around the grounds, doing laps for hours.
Today it’s blisteringly bright and sunny and not as cold as it has been, so skiing made a lot of sense when he invited me. I was going to ask if Maggie could come but I also know that if he wanted Maggie to come, he would have invited her. That’s the way my father is. Plus, I have a feeling that Maggie has never been on skis a day in her life.
So while I’m here with my father, she’s helping Bodi set up the palace for her brothers and sisters. They arrive tomorrow and she’s more than excited to finally see them. I’m excited too, it will be nice to have them around bringing a little life into the cold palace.
“It’s good to get fresh air, clear your head,” my father says, taking a deep breath through his nose, his chest swelling. He looks to me. “You know, I want to apologize the other day. At Aksel’s dinner party.”
I wasn’t sure if he would, so to have him do it now, even days later, is a relief. While Maggie stayed talking to the guests after dinner, I was taken aside by my parents and giving a lecture like you wouldn’t believe.
All about Maggie, of course.
About how common she is.
About how unsuited for the role of princess she is.
About how unsuited for me she is.
My mother brought up countless duchesses and countesses and ladies and whatnot that I could date instead. All Swedes or French or even German. European ladies of refinement.
My father said that Maggie was complicating my job as heir apparent since I’d already cancelled so many appearances and meetings because of her.
They went on and on and on.
I argued back.
I did my best to prove my points.
Love being the biggest one.
But even though they are my parents and I’ve spent my life arguing, they are so good at turning things around on you and reminding you of their power. You know, as the King and Queen.
Needless to say it all ended on a sour note. My mother softened a little in her stance toward Maggie but my father was rather rude and pig-headed about it. I ended up leaving the conversation and going back to find Maggie.
Dragged her into my parent’s library and had my way with her, as a way to remind her, remind myself, that she’s mine and no one can take that away.
I don’t say anything, just keep looking at my father. In this harsh light of winter, he looks older than I’ve ever seen him and for the first time I realize how much Alex’s death must have ruined him. It makes my heart heavy for the first time in a while. The first time since Maggie has been here.
“I was a little harsh on Miss McPherson and I realize that she does mean a great deal to you. We still don’t approve, nor do we really understand your desire to be with her, other than her being a pretty face, perhaps a little exotic to us Swedens.” He pauses. “But because she means a lot to you and because we have a monarchy to protect, I got some disturbing information this morning.”
My lungs ice over. “What?”
“As you know we have many friends in the press. Upstanding journalists and the like. And we’ve been using them to crack down on unfair reports and speculations at other publications, especially with what happened with Alex’s death. So many headlines were cruel and just so damn unfair.” His voice breaks at the end there and he trails off, looking away. I’m not the type to hug my father and I’m not sure what to do. Finally he looks back, this time to the palace in the distance, regaining his composure.
“This morning we got word that one of the tabloids has discovered Maggie’s identity.”
“What?” I exclaim. “Who? How?”
He shrugs, frowning. “I don’t know,” he says gruffly. “No doubt someone in King Aksel’s group. I don’t even know who half those people were or why they came but anyway. Must have been one of them. Maybe someone in our own house.” He eyes me. “Maybe someone in yours. Whoever it is got a lot of money in exchange for the information. But the tabloid is going to run it in the morning, with the full story on Maggie.”
I’m having trouble swallowing, there’s so much anger coursing through me. “Do they have pictures?”
“I don’t know. But they know who she is, I’m sure they can pull one from her university if they wish.”
“Fuck,” I say, making a fist, wishing we were closer to the pines so I could start punching them until my knuckles bleed.
“It’s going to be tough for you,” he says. “And for her.”
“And her family,” I tell him. “Her brothers and sisters, they’re arriving tomorrow on an SAS flight from LA. If Maggie’s picture goes in the paper, people will know who she is. They’ll hound her and them. Some fucking welcome. Some fucking trip.”
My father puts his hand on my shoulder and gives it a squeeze. “That’s why you have to call it off, my son. Do it for her. She doesn’t deserve to be put through the media storm that’s to come and her siblings don’t either. To think otherwise is to be selfish Viktor, and I didn’t raise you to be selfish.”
You barely raised me at all, I think bitterly. But he has a point. A horrible point.
“What do I do?” I ask him. “About the paper. About all that.”
“There isn’t much you can do.”
“Can’t you threaten to stop them?”
“We can only do that if they are defaming her, or us of course, and if intrusive photos are taken, photos that breach privacy laws. Until then, though, we have no power.”
“You are the king!” I practically yell.
He gives me a dry smirk. “Yes. I am the king. And we’ve been fighting the free press for a long time. You should be grateful we aren’t in England. We have it good compared to them.”
“When I’m king, I’m changing all the laws.”
He lets out a sharp laugh. “Oh my boy. When you are king, I won’t have to worry about any of this anymore.” He sighs noisily. “Let’s head back now, shall we? The cook has a wonderful mushroom soup on the stove.”
We ski back and I have the soup. My father has to go off to attend to some business as usual so it’s just me in the big kitchen and all the while I’m trying to think how to break the news to Maggie and how we can deal with the inevitable. We very well knew that this would eventually happen, that the secret world we built between us would be exposed to the public. I am a prince which means that I serve the country and the people and that sometimes that comes at the cost of relationships, of peace, of privacy.
Sometimes, as in with Alex, it comes at the cost of lives.
The other night though, when Maggie asked me what my parents had talked to me about, I lied and said it was nothing to worry about. I didn’t tell her their concerns, nor what they said. For all she knows, they like her. In fact, every time she brings up her pronunciation of Chopin (which I thought was adorable) or the fact that she offered her hand to my parents first, I tell her that it only endeared her to them.
That was a lie, of course.
And now I think I have to lie again.
By the time Nick takes me back to the palace I take one look up at the building and see all the lights on, making the place look so warm against the snow, I know what I have to do. It glows because Maggie is happy. She’s my warm glowing candle in the cold dark night.
I decide to keep my father’s information to myself.
“How was skiing?” she says to me as soon as I walk in the door, Bodi trailing behind her. She stands on her tip toes to place a kiss on my cheek, her own cheeks rosy.
“It was nice,” I tell her, handing Bodi my coat. “Cold, but nice. You look all warm. The place looks so inviting and liveable with all the lights on.”
“I’ve had so much fun getting everyone’s room’s ready,” she says, her eyes shining. “I’ve been buying so many souvenirs lately that I finally have a place to put them. Everyone gets a Viktor moose, except for Pike of course. He just gets a bottle of aquavit.”
“I picked out a good one for beginners,” Bodi says, looking rather proud that he’s been a part of this.
Looking at Maggie’s smile, the joy that’s coming out of her, I realize I can’t do anything to dampen it.
“Well, show me what you’ve done,” I tell her, offering her my arm. She leads me upstairs.
* * *
* * *
The next morning I get up an hour before Maggie usually does and slip quietly out of bed. I make my way downstairs to the kitchen and pull out of my phone as I sip a cup of coffee.
🌸T. B. C🌸