🌹🌹The Swedish Prince 🌹🌹
🌸🌸(ROYAL ROMANCE) 🌸🌸
At that moment I knew that Maggie was letting her guard down.
And that’s when it happened.
The laughter turned to screams.
The peace was eradicated by flashbulbs.
Our privacy and space were intruded viciously, without care.
And April got knocked down.
An accident, I’m sure, but I will go to my grave making sure the laws change here, so that stuff like that never happens again.
But what good will changing the laws do if the person, the people, that I’m trying to protect leaves me?
I know that’s what Maggie is thinking.
She won’t even look at me.
All day the distance I tried so hard to fight against last night increased until the line between us became a chasm.
I think I lost them all.
Now it’s after dinner and I’m sitting in the study, waiting for her. We hadn’t said a word to each other until I pulled her aside and told her to meet me in here, that we needed to talk.
She only nodded.
I hope she shows up.
April is okay, only a bump. The rest seem shaken up but hopefully not traumatized. Pike is a lot like me and wants to beat the shit out of everyone that was involved.
I look around the study and
At that moment, everything between us was right.
Everything in the world was right.
I can’t honestly say that things will be right again.
Not for us.
Not for me.
The door opens slowly and I bring my eyes up to see Maggie step in.
She’s hesitant. Looks tired, restless, like she needs endless sleep. Still beautiful though. Always so damn beautiful.
But all that beauty doesn’t hide the truth I see. That there’s something in her eyes that makes my heart disintegrate.
I can tell that no matter what we talk about, she’s already left me.
She’s here, standing in front of me, and she’s already left me.
“Hi,” I say to her.
“Hi,” she says in a small voice.
“Please sit down,” I say and already it sounds like we’re strangers.
How the fuck did this happen?
“I’d rather stand,” she says, stopping in the middle of the room and folding her arms across her chest, hunching slightly over like she’s cold.
I shake my head and get up. The distance between us is now insurmountable.
“How are they?” I ask.
She doesn’t say anything. She presses her lips together and I can tell she’s trying not to cry.
“Maggie,” I say softly, taking a step toward her, wanting to feel her warmth and not this endless cold. “I am
“Not your fault,” she says, words clipped.
“I didn’t expect it. We were at church for crying out loud.”
“It’s not your fault, Viktor.”
But she won’t look at me.
I walk up to her, taking her hand in mine and the warmth and pulse that once flowed from her body to mine, the electricity, the sparks, they’re all gone. I’m holding a stranger’s hand.
“I promise,” I tell her through a shaking voice. “That I will never let that happen to you or to them again.”
“How?” she asks, glancing at me. “By creating a law that will take years to come into effect? You can’t even create laws. You’re no king.”
Ouch. But maybe she didn’t mean it that way.
“I can work with my father –“
She lets out a sour laugh. “Your father hates me.”
“Please, we went over this. He doesn’t.”
She doesn’t believe me. She doesn’t want to.
“Look, it might take a while but it will happen. We just need to deal with it for now. These things take time.”
“But there is no more time left,” she says, blinking back tears. “Viktor. I’m leaving.”
I shake my head trying to ignore the crushing weight on my chest, like my heart and lungs are being poured with concrete. “No. Don’t leave. We have so much time before you need to go.”
“I need to go now,” she says, straightening up like she’s finding her resolve. “They need to go. What happened to April could happen again and to anyone of them and I am not going to do that to them. I’m taking the first plane home tomorrow with the kids. I don’t know if I’ll come back.”
I stare at Maggie for a moment, not sure if my ears are deceiving me or not.
It’s one thing to run.
It’s another thing to say you won’t come back.
“Won’t come back?” I repeat. “You have to come back. For me.”
“No, Viktor,” she cries out. “I can’t. Don’t you see how hard this is?”
She shakes her head, tears spilling down her cheeks in rivulets.
“It’s just too hard,” she says, crying. “It’s just too hard.”
“What’s too hard, loving me?”
God, please don’t say it’s loving me.
“Being with you! They’re two different things.”
“No they aren’t! When you love someone you’ll be with someone, no matter the cost!”
I can’t believe I’m hearing this. After everything she’s gone through and this is the part that’s too hard for her? Being with me?
“After all I did for you,” I mutter and the moment the words fall out of my mouth, I know I made a mistake.
Her face falls.
“So I was charity all along.”
I hurt her. I didn’t mean to.
I grab her, holding her face in my hands. “Maggie, you were never charity. I’m sorry I said that, I’m just…I can’t let you go. I can’t let you leave. You were supposed to stay with me like the princess that you are.”
“No,” she says. “You know I’ll never be that. That’s not who I am. It’s not who I’m supposed to be. I’m supposed to be taking care of those kids and that’s my priority. I never wanted to be in this position, the one in which I pick them over you but I have to choose. I have to. You have a duty to your country, Viktor. I have a duty to my family. I just…I…”
She pulls away from me and puts her face in her hands, shaking her head. “I love you but I…I can’t let my love for you dictate what I do.”
“I guess I should have seen this coming.” I can hardly breathe, hardly speak, yet the words are flowing. “Maybe we really didn’t know each other well enough. All I know is that I love you and that’s always been true and if you leave me, you’ll take every part of me with you. I know loss and I know it well but I don’t think I’ll ever be whole again.”
She starts sobbing and looks up at me, her face ravaged by tears. “Don’t make this harder on me, please! Please! You know what I have to do. Have the grace of a prince and let me go. Let me do the right thing for everyone.”
She’s right. I know why she’s leaving and I understand it. I’m just so scared of the pain, scared of what’s to come, that I’m acting desperate to keep her. I’m making it harder on the both of us.
I’m tired of losing the ones that I love.
I try and swallow. “Okay. I’m sorry. If you want to go, I won’t stand in your way. I won’t hold anything against you. I won’t do anything but love you even though now it will be from afar.” I reach out and grab her hand and tears fall from my eyes as I kiss her palm. “Mitt liv, mitt allt. Always and forever. Please don’t ever forget that, my Maggie. You will always be my Maggie.”
She takes her hand away from mine and, crying, runs out of the room.
That night she sleeps in a separate bedroom.
The next morning, she’s gone.
All the rooms are empty.
The palace is cold and quiet again.
Like someone reached in and removed the heart.
Never to put it back.
Funny how leaving changes your perspective on your home.
When I left Tehachapi, there was a part of me that couldn’t imagine living anywhere else but here. I mean, I wanted to live in New York but I was so not a New Yorker. I was a small-town girl through and through.
Then when I landed in Stockholm, I started to think that maybe that could change. I started looking at the place, the country, not as vacation spot, or a fun romp with Viktor. I started looking at it all through new eyes, trying to see if I could see myself creating a world there. When I went to little cafes and indulged in the fika of cakes and coffee, I tried to imagine making that part of my daily routine.
I tried to imagine what it would be like to walk along the harbor in the summer, with a warm sun behind you, wooden sailboats bobbing in front of you. I tried to imagine shopping in all the cute little boutiques and even making friends with the locals, eventually working my way past their reserved facades and winning them over.
I imagined all of that and I liked it. I didn’t take into account that if I did move to Sweden, it would be because of a prince and there’s a chance I would be a princess and if I were a princess (I mean, how unreal does that still seem), I wouldn’t have all the freedoms I just mentioned.
But I would have had Viktor.
And he had my heart.
And I believed, foolishly perhaps, that you could build a home in someone’s heart.
Now I’ve learned that the heart is not enough to shield you from the world. The walls are soft, the pain is inevitable, and you bleed too easily.
Making the choice to leave Viktor ruined me and I’m still not sure if it was the right one because I haven’t been able to go one minute without feeling the deep stab of loss, one that reaches in so far deep into my soul that I don’t know how I’m still upright, how I’m still living.
It’s a loss that had me crying the entire flight home.
It’s a loss that has rendered me incapable of doing anything but curling up on on the bed or the bathroom floor, much like I did after my parents, like I should have done more of. Perhaps I’m grieving for them too. Lord knows that never goes away.
And now I’m back here.
In this town.
In this house.
And I realize that this isn’t my home anymore.
I don’t have one.
I’m officially Nomadic.
The vacancy inside me has returned but I can’t even move in.
“Maggie,” Pike whispers from the door.
I’m curled up in bed. I haven’t moved all day, not even to go pee. Viktor the moose is tucked up under my arm.
“What?” I ask softly, hoping he doesn’t ask me to do anything because I don’t think I can.
“I’m taking R and T and Callum to see a matinee,” he tells me. He pauses. “I saw an ad in the paper for a job at the movie theatre. I know it’ll probably be obsolete in a year but do you want me to suss it out for you?”
“Sure,” I say, my voice dull. The world dull. Sure I could work in a movie theatre. Sure I could work back at the hotel. Sure I could try and do a lot of things but none of that seems to matter right now except for this pain that I’m carrying inside.
Why did we have that fight?
Why didn’t we just talk it through like rational people?
Why did I push him away like that? Because it got too hard? I’ve been able to stay strong through everything in my life and yet the moment that love got too hard, I bailed.
What the fuck is wrong with me?
The tears start flowing again.
I guess I fall asleep because when I open my eyes, the sun coming in through the window has shifted.
I should probably go and pee.
I shuffle out of my room, wearing the same PJs as I’ve worn the last few days, and look at myself in the bathroom mirror. I don’t even recognize myself and I desperately need a shower.
When I’m done in there, I shuffle out of the bathroom, planning to go straight back to bed when I pass by April’s room. Her door is open.
“Maggie,” she calls out to me.
April and I have gotten a lot closer since our time in Sweden, so at least something good came out of me dragging them all there.
I pause at her door and lean against the doorway. She’s sitting cross-legged on the floor with a bunch of letters displayed in front of her.
The sight of them makes my heart lurch.
“Where did you get those?” I whisper.
A wash of shame comes over her. “I took them from the mailbox.”
“Are they recent?” my heart jolts at the thought that maybe Viktor has written to me. We haven’t said a word to each other after I left, which is another thing that’s killing me. It didn’t end well.
But if he’s written me, if he says he loves me, if he wants me to come back, I’ll…
“They aren’t recent,” she says quickly, perhaps reading the look on my face. “They’re from the fall. I took them and hid them because I didn’t want you to read them.” She pauses. “I didn’t read them either, see, they’re sealed. But I knew they were from him.”
“Why did you do that?” I ask softly, my heart seeming to break all over again.
“Because I was a dick,” she says. “I’m sorry. I wanted you to have them. They smell nice still.” She picks one up and smells it and then holds it out for me.
I walk in and gingerly take it from her. Hold it up to my nose. Breathe it in.
I breathe in Viktor.
The faint smell of lavender.
The tears start falling. I’ve been conditioned.
“Aren’t you going to read it?” April asks, eying me with concern. She doesn’t do well when anyone cries, which is why I’m surprised she’s talking to me right now, showing me all this.
I shake my head. “There’s no point. I know what these letters would say. They’ll just remind me of everything I lost. Everything I had.”
“You know we all would have moved to Sweden,” she says matter-of-factly.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean Viktor asked us and we all said yes…thinking that you would have said yes.”
I blink at her, frowning. “I’m sorry, I don’t understand. He asked you all? He never asked me. I mean, not in an official sense.”
She rubs her lips together, silently debating something.
She sighs. “Okay well I guess he wouldn’t care if I told you now. But…he was going to propose.”
“He told me. The night we got into Sweden and you were asleep, we stayed up drinking together.”
“Focus,” April says gesturing with her hands. “He was kind of drunk but, like, kind of sober at the same time and anyway he asked if I would move to Sweden and I was like, yes please, get me out of the murder house, thank you. Anyway, he then said he planned to ask you to marry him. You know, become a princess and all that. He said we could live in the palace and have nannies and eat pickled fish. I really thought that’s what was going to happen.”
I can’t believe a word of this.
He was going to propose?
“When?” I ask. “When was he going to propose?”
“Christmas Eve,” she says. “But you guys were being weird and the next day no one said anything, I guess because of the whole incident, so I assumed it didn’t happen.”
I put my hand to my head. “Oh my god. He was going to propose and we started fighting and…”
“Yeah so it seems you guys did the opposite. Instead of getting engaged, you broke up.”
“But,” I say, walking into her room and sitting on her bed, my eyes drifting absently over the letters as my mind tries to catch up. “But…you would move there? What about what happened with the paparazzi?”
“Whatever, I’ll deal.”
“What about the others?”
“They were all fine with it. Pike wasn’t loving the idea but I mean who cares. He’s eighteen, he can go and live in LA if he wants to and, like, open a tattoo shop or something while the rest of us live in a friggin’ palace. I mean, hello, who gets the better deal here. Not him.”
I can’t get this new information to settle in my head. All the crying has rendered it useless. “Rosemary and Thyme. Rosemary wouldn’t want to leave here, leave all her sports teams.”
“Rosemary has fallen in love with skiing,” she says. “She was quick to say yes. Thyme has fallen in love with the Swedish death metal music scene.” She laughs. “She says it’s musik spelled with a K. And Callum wants to become a Swedish Chef now, so there you go.”
“Viktor asked all of you? When?”
“The day before Christmas Eve. I don’t know where you were. We had a family meeting without you.”
I can picture him calling them all around and asking them and…oh, my heart. My heart. This man loves them as much as he loved me.
He still loves you, I tell myself. It’s not too late.
“But if you guys moved there…the paparazzi, I mean they are ruthless. You know what happened.”
“I’m sure they’ll get tired of us and honestly, I don’t mind the attention.”
“You were knocked over!”
“I think that scared you more than it did me. I was fine, wasn’t I? And that made them all look really bad, I think they would have backed off after that. Look, I don’t like my photos being taken all the time but I don’t know, it’s kind of fun. Makes me feel like a celebrity. I’ll deal with all of that for a chance at a new life. Don’t you think we all deserve a do-over?”
April is right.
I’ve had days to mourn and stew and grieve and try to sort out my feelings.
And yet now I’m figuring out my feelings in seconds flat.
“I’ve got to go,” I tell her and immediately scamper out of her room into mine.
“Where are you going?” she asks, following me.
I grab a small suitcase and throw it on the bed.
“Where does it look like I’m going?” I ask, glancing at her over my shoulder. “Now help your sister pack.”
This is a mistake, this is a mistake, this is a mistake.
“Would you like some water, miss?”
Mistake, mistake, mistake.
“Thank you,” I tell the flight attendant, picking the cup off the tray and nearly spilling it on the guy that’s squished next to me.
I’m in the back of the plane.
Flying to Stockholm.
Landing in one hour.
I have no idea what awaits me when I land.
There was no time to plan anything.
Okay, well there could have been time but after talking to April, there was a switch in my brain that had always been connected to my heart and suddenly it turned on. It was a lightbulb going off, but it wasn’t just in my head, it was in the deep-seated soul of me. It was a light that glowed through the darkness I had been drowning in, a darkness I wanted to drown in, maybe because I’d spent so much time in the last year acting like a robot and distancing myself from all the loss and grief and reality. Maybe I fell so deep because I never let myself fall before.
But this light went on and it illuminated everything and in a second I knew that I had to go.
I had to be with Viktor.
At any cost.
That the only thing that makes sense in this world is the two of us together.
Without him, I’m just surviving.
So I packed with April’s help and then when Pike got back with the kids, I hastily told them the plan and begged for him to drive me to LA where I could catch a plane. I know Pike wasn’t all that happy that I would be using some of our savings on something that might not pan out but by the time the minivan was pulling up to LAX, everyone was chanting Sweden, Sweden Sweden! and that’s when I really knew that my family has my back as much as I have theirs.
I never had a chance to tell Viktor I was coming.
Actually that’s not true.
I wanted to just show up and surprise him like he did to me but I realized you can’t really do that with royalty. I mean, I can’t go throw rocks at his window. I’m not athletic enough to scale the fence, nor throw rocks at a three-story window. So I sent him a text just before my plane took off.
Hey we need to talk. I’m coming to Sweden today. Will text when I land.
But by the time I put the phone in airplane mode, it hadn’t shown his text as delivered.
And when the plane lands and I frantically switch my phone back on, it’s still not delivered.
I get my carry-on and go into the airport, checking my phone every minute.
Nothing, nothing, nothing.
I go through passport control with no problem.
I get to the arrivals and expect to see Nick there with a sign, thinking maybe Viktor somehow got the text and contacted Pike or something and got the details about my flight.
But there’s no one.
I’m standing here in the airport looking like an utter fool and I swear to god there’s a few people here who already recognize me.
What does Viktor say?
I don’t have much choice. I go into a bathroom stall and call Freddie, whose number I’ve always had for emergencies.
He’s surprised to hear from me, of course.
“I don’t know what to say,” he stammers. “His Highness isn’t here.”
My heart sinks.
“Isn’t here? Where is he?”
“Uh, he’s on a trip.”
“Well when will he back?”
“Uh. Not sure. Look, stay where you are and I’ll have Nick come get you, okay?”
“I haven’t booked a hotel,” I say feebly. “I haven’t…I haven’t thought any of this through.”
“I’m glad you didn’t because then you probably wouldn’t have come,” Freddie says wryly. “And the palace will always be your home. Just sit tight.”
Half an hour later, Nick comes striding through the terminal looking for me. I’ve been hiding in the corner at a coffee shop with a book over my face and giant sunglasses.
“Are you trying to look…what is the word in English? Inconspicuous?” Nick asks as he looks me over.
“Not working, is it?”
“No,” he says, looking around at the people watching us with interest. “But you’re here now. I’m so very glad to see you.”
“You too, Nick,” I tell him.
He was starting to feel like family to me and when I’m in the back of the town car on the way to Haga Palace, I realize that Bodi and Freddie felt like family as well. It was like while I was here, I was gaining more family than the family I had lost. It’s like the palace in the end wasn’t some strange and stuffy and formal royal life that I couldn’t relate to, it was something warm, with so much love and laughter in the walls. I told myself – and Viktor – there was no way I could be a princess and live that life because I couldn’t be farther from one but the truth is…I don’t think a title like that defines you. I think you define the title.
The palace is still covered by layers of snow but the moment I walk in those doors, I feel warm and relieved. Is this my home?
Could this be my home?
Will he take me back?
“Make yourself at home,” Nick says to me just as Bodi appears around the corner.
“Maggie!” he cries out, throwing his arms out to me and enveloping me in a big hug until my feet aren’t even touching the ground. You’d think that I’d been gone for months, not a few weeks.
“Hey Bodi,” I tell him after he puts me down. “What is this, a beard?” I reach out and tug the end of his red scruff.
“Going for the Viking look,” he says, mugging for me. “What brings you back here? We hoped we’d see you again but we weren’t sure. You all left so fast, so soon.”
I wince, wishing I hadn’t been so hasty. “Viktor and I…”
“Yes, I know. You had a fight. I can’t blame you for leaving Maggie, Viktor is not an easy person to be with.”
“It’s not that he’s not easy. It’s just…this lifestyle.”
“It takes some getting used to,” he says with a solemn nod.
“I just didn’t think I was strong enough to get used to it,” I tell him.
“Glad to see you’re coming around then,” he says, patting me on the shoulder. “Because you’re stronger than you think. Come on, I’ll put your suitcase in Viktor’s room.”
“Oh, please don’t,” I tell him as he hauls it up and starts carrying it up the stairs. “I don’t want to assume anything. The guest room that Magnus normally uses is fine.”
Bodi nods. “As you wish. Why don’t you make yourself comfortable in the lounge and I’ll bring you some coffee. You must be exhausted.”
I nod and head to the lounge while he runs the bag upstairs. You think I would be tired since I didn’t sleep on the plane at all but I am so wired that it feels like I couldn’t close my eyes even if I tried. I must look like such a freak.
Bodi brings me a cup of coffee and we sit and chat about everything except Viktor. I want to ask him about where he is since Freddie was so vague but I don’t dare. It’s not their place to tell me and if it turns out he’s visiting a girl or something, then I would just die on the spot.
There’s a knock at the front door and my heart starts to race. Is it Viktor? I look at Bodi and he looks surprised more than anything.
“Pardon me,” he says to me and gets up, leaving the lounge.
I hear the door open and then Bodi exclaim, “Your majesty!”
Holy fuck it’s the king.
Seconds later The King of Sweden appears in the doorway, looking down at me with a look on his face that makes me want to shrink in my seat.
But that would be uncouth, I know that much, so I scramble to get up to my feet, to curtsey. He quickly motions with his hand for me to stay put.
“Please, stay seated,” he says, striding over to the chair across from me. He sits down, folding his hands over his lap, and looks me sternly in the eyes. “The two of us, we need to have a talk.”
“Do you know what they call a turnip in Sweden?” I ask Callum.
He shakes his head, smiling. I swear I can ask this kid anything and he’ll smile. It’s especially disturbing when you’re talking about something horrific.
“They call it a Swede,” I tell him.
“But aren’t you a Swede?”
“Am I going to be a Swede?” he asks.
“That all depends on your sister. If she was here, I would ask her.” I study his face carefully. “Are you sure you don’t know where she is?”
He just grins. That gives me nothing.
It’s my fault, really, for having such flights of fancy and for it to actually lead me on a flight which actually put me back in Tehachapi, looking for Maggie.
After she left, I spent a long time wrestling with what I was going to have to do to win her back. I knew that just because she was scared, just because we had a fight, it didn’t mean that things were over between us. It might have felt like it was over, especially from the way she basically packed up her family and left. They were all gone the next day on the next flight home and I didn’t have any time to even realize what was going on.
That I had lost her.
I had lost them.
I had lost…everything.
With her gone, the media storm didn’t die down either. Rumors started spreading. She had been spotted at the airport, people speculated why she was leaving. People started noticing that we were never seen together, or that she was never seen at all.
I ignored it. That’s all you can do. And I tried to move on.
I did everything that I thought I was supposed to do. I threw myself into my role and tried to become a better public figure. I tried to pretend that my heart wasn’t breaking inside even though it was slowly splintering to pieces until nothing was giving me joy anymore.
Maggie had been my joy, my light, my everything. My persika, my Miss America, my mayhem. Oh, her middle name couldn’t have been more fitting because she brought mayhem to my heart, my life, turned my world upside down and I was a better man in the end because of it, because of her.
But putting on a mask only works for so long. I should have known that.
Eventually the mask crumbled away.
Eventually the feelings came pouring back in.
Eventually I realized that if I didn’t have her, I had nothing.
Without her I wasn’t worthy of the crown on my head.
The next thing I knew I was having Freddie find the next possible moment I had a break and we were booking tickets and that was the end of it. The plan was to surprise Maggie like I did last time, to fall to my knees and propose like I should have done before when I lost my nerve. To go and not come back unless I had her with me.
So with my guard and driver Janne waiting in the car outside, I burst into their house hoping I’d run right into Maggie.
What I found instead was Callum, sitting at the kitchen table with a glass of milk and reading a comic book. Rosemary, Thyme and April were at Rosemary’s soccer game while Pike was upstairs napping. Callum says that Pike is too tired to deal with anything these days.
But when I asked where Maggie was, Callum wouldn’t say. I know he knows, but he’s just not saying anything.
“What the fuck.”
I turn to look at Pike standing all groggy in the kitchen doorway, trying to focus his eyes on me.
“Bad word,” Callum scolds him, shaking his head.
“Viktor?” Pike says, blinking hard. “Viktor! What. The fuck. Are you doing here?”
He sounds far more surprised about me being in his kitchen than I thought. It looks like I’m blowing his mind.
🌸T. B. C🌸