🌹🌹The Swedish Prince 🌹🌹
🌸🌸(ROYAL ROMANCE) 🌸🌸
Annette flips him over so he’s on his side and then brings out the wastebasket from the bathroom, placing it below him while I undo his boots.
“Don’t tell me you’re going to undress all of him,” she asks with her brow raised.
“Shhh,” I say to her in a hush. “Keep your voice down.”
“Not answering my question.”
I ignore her and finish taking off his boots and with a sigh she starts struggling with his leather jacket, trying to remove it. He moans something softly, his eyes still closed, head flopping against the pillow as she finally gets it off him.
She sighs, folding the jacket up in her arms and staring down at him. “He really is handsome, isn’t he?”
I didn’t say anything to that. I also didn’t mention he’s wearing size 15 boots.
I didn’t even know that size existed but it seems to coincide with the size of his dick. 😂😂Don’t get me wrong but that’s the truth.
When the other boot is off, I take the giant pair and place them against the wall as Annette puts the jacket down on the chair across from the bed.
My mother always used that chair as a place to throw her uniform and clothes before crawling into bed. It
Annette gets an impish look in her eyes and suddenly reaches across the guy, her hands going for his pants.
“What are you doing?” I whisper harshly.
She bites her lip as she reaches around underneath his ass and then triumphantly pulls out his wallet.
She flips it open and I come over to her side to peer at it.
There isn’t much to it. A Visa debit card with no name on it, a couple of bucks in cash, and picture ID.
Annette takes it out of the slot and flips it over and back. It looks brand new, the black and white picture recent. It says Korkort Sverige on top, whatever that means, and below that Andersson Johan.
“Is Andersson is first name or last name?” she whispers to me. “Or his address?”
“Maybe his name is Korkort Sverige?”
“I think that’s Russian.”She said.
“No, Russian uses a totally different alphabet.”
“What the fuck is going on here?” Pike’s voice bursts through the room and both of us jump in surprise, the wallet flying out of Annette’s hands and onto the bed, landing right on Korkort Sverige’s broad chest.
I suck in my breath, waiting for him to wake up, but he only stirs slightly.
I turn to look at Pike who is staring at both of us incredulously, his hair mussed from sleep. “Why are you…” he takes a step toward us and his eyes go to
“It’s a long story,” I tell him. “And keep your voice down.”
Pike looks to Annette expectantly. “What’s happening? Why are you both in here and who the hell is this guy on the bed?” He comes over to us and stares down at him. “Shit, is he dead?”
“No,” I tell him, putting my hands on his shoulders and pushing him back. “He’s very drunk and he’s sleeping it off here.”
“But who is he?”
“Korkort Sverige,” I tell him. “He’s foreign, he’s drunk, he was staying at the hotel and we saw him at the bar and it was either he stays here, or the cops put him in the drunk tank.”
He stares at me blankly. “And what was wrong with the drunk tank?”
“Look, I’m sure he’ll just wake up in the morning and be on his way.”
Pike is not convinced. I don’t blame him. I am absolutely crazy for doing this. Funny thing is, I haven’t felt this engaged about something in well, in a long time.
“If you think I’m going to sleep a wink tonight with a stranger in the house, you are sadly mistaken,” he eventually grumbles. “I’m going to be stationed outside his door with a gun.”
I glare at him. I hate that he’s kept my parent’s guns, considering what happened to them. “It’ll be fine.”
“Well since Pike’s got a handle on this, I’m heading home,” Annette says. She puts her hand on my shoulder and squeezes it. “And I’m calling a cab. It’s probably best you stay here in case he wakes up. At least you’ll be a familiar face.”
If I am, it won’t be in a good way. “Are you sure?”
She’s already bringing out her phone and dialing as she walks past us. “I’m sure. Call me tomorrow and let me know how it goes, okay honey?” She gives Korkort one last look over her shoulder. “And good luck. I don’t approve of any of this but I supposed you have to make your own mistakes.”
When she’s left the room, I exchange a glance with Pike.
“What’s gotten into you?” he says to me.
“I honestly don’t know,” I say with a sigh. I reach over and pluck the wallet from his chest, holding it to me. If he tries anything, does anything, then at least I’ll have proof of who he is.
Whoever he is.
🌸THREE WEEKS EARLIER 🌸
* * *
“Your Royal Highness?”
The phrase strikes fear in my heart, prompting a rush of bitterness to flow through me.
I fix my eyes on Dr. Bonakov, a warning look. “Please don’t call me that,” I tell him, my voice hard. “I’ve been seeing you practically my whole entire life and you’ve always called me Viktor.”
He gives me a placating smile, seeming unsure how to deal with me now, and hastily pushes his glasses further up his nose. In some ways Dr. Bonakov has been more of a father figure than my actual father, so to hear him speak to me so formally, it stings.
“You were always addressed as Your Royal Highness before,” he calmly points out.
“But not by you. That’s what you called Alex. I was always Viktor. I wish to remain Viktor to you.”
“All right, Viktor,” he concedes. He clears his throat, a sign of the lecture that’s about to follow. Maybe one reason he feels like a father figure is that he advises as much as he listens.
“You know you’re supposed to contact me when things become too much. I shouldn’t have to hear it from your mother herself.”
I let out a sour laugh, adjusting myself on the couch. “One month ago my brother died. One month ago I became the heir to the throne, something you know I’ve never wanted. Things are permanently too much. Every second of every day. Do you seriously want a phone call every minute of every hour? Do you really want the agonizing play-by-play of how my life is fucking falling apart?”
He watches me carefully for a few moments, tapping his pen against his notepad. He’s seen my outbursts before but not like this. I’m not myself lately. I’m not sure I’ll ever be myself again.
Then he sighs, looks down at his paper. I relax a little now that his gaze is off of me. “I know this is a big transition for you. I know you’re grieving. Not only your brother but the loss of the life you had before. Things will take time.”
I grunt. How he can try and sum everything up so neatly is infuriating. Everyone always doles out words of apparent wisdom, catchphrases they think either encompass your whole experience or they say things that make themselves feel better.
It will take time.
You will come out stronger.
One day at a time.
He is always in our hearts.
Life isn’t a bed of roses.
Time heals all wounds.
It’s all bullshit.
“But,” he continues, “the only way that you’ll be able to get through this is to realize when you’re on the verge of losing control. When you’re drowning, When it overwhelms you, not just your new responsibilities, but the grief. The sorrow. If you don’t learn to manage it now, you’ll never be able to move forward.”
“I don’t fucking want to move forward,” I snap at him, the blood pounding hot in my head. “I want things to go back. I just want everything to go back.”
Silence fills the room. Because there’s nothing Dr. Bonakov can say. Nothing anyone can do. If I drown, I drown.
Tomorrow it will have been exactly one month since my older brother Alex died. He was only thirty-four.
The public has no idea how he died. They have been fed neat little lies, something tidy enough to appease them. But I know the truth and that burden I carry, as we all carry, as loved ones who didn’t do enough to save him.
But none of us have been given enough space and time to grieve. I was never the media darling before.
That was all Alex. Composed, kind, the stature of a king, it was Alex that everyone loved, that everyone wanted a piece of.
I was always left more or less alone. I was a prince but he was the heir apparent, the future king. As long as I behaved myself, the people, the press, the world, took little interest in me.
All of that has changed. Been flipped on its head. My grief, my taking over his role, has caused a firestorm that is constantly trying to burn me down.
Everywhere I go, everywhere I turn, people are there, eyeing me up like some exotic dessert that they want a bite of before anyone else.
They want to see the sorrow in my eyes, they want to know how I will handle being the future king of Sweden. They want to see me rise to the challenge just as much as they want to see me fall.
I don’t think I can rise. I can barely get to my knees.
The doctor sighs and starts scribbling something quickly on his prescription pad. “With what happened to your brother, you know I’m wary about giving out strong medication, but I do think this will help you over the next coming while.”
He leans over and hands me the slip of paper. As usual, I can’t read his writing.
“Here,” he says as he gets up and goes over to his desk. He brings out a pill bottle and shakes two out into his hand. Then comes back over to me and places the two small pills in my palm.
“Take one when you need peace,” he says. “See how it goes at first. You might not even need the prescription. But heed the warnings, please. Don’t take it with alcohol. Take it when you’re alone and needing comfort of the heart.”
He takes a long pause, breathing in and breathing out, studying me as I stick the pills in the pocket of my jeans.
“I know that talking to me is the last thing you want to do Viktor. I know that’s why your mother is calling me, worried. But even though she is a queen, she is still your mother and she is suffering just as much, or more as you. Please, for her sake try not to add to your worries. Talk to her and if you can’t, reach out to friends. I know King Aksel suffered a similar loss when the queen of Denmark died. People like that can help you get through it.”
I swallow, feeling guilt wash over me. The last thing I want is for my mother to worry. I know she’s struggling, I know she’s turning to my father and finding little comfort, I know she worries I might suffer a similar fate.
I get up and thank the doctor, my voice barely audible, and grab my coat before stepping out of his office into the waiting room. My private secretary, Frederick, gets up, his messenger bag slung over his shoulder, his iPad out with all of the day’s schedule on it.
“How did it go?” he asks politely as we walk to the lift. Freddie is a few years younger than me and has been my private secretary, personal assistant, and constant companion since the moment he graduated from university in England.
He’s smart, fluent in several languages besides just Swedish and English, efficient, incredibly well-organized and in some ways, is probably the person closest to me.
He was also close to Alex but unlike me, he’s thrived under the grief and the pressure of his job as I’ve been catapulted in a new direction.
My public appearances and engagements before were very limited. Now, I’m shuffled along on a packed schedule that he meticulously maintains. Without him I would be even more lost.
Without him I would be free.
“It was fine,” I mumble to him, not wanting to get into it.
“Good to hear,” he says simply as the lift doors open
Sometimes I wish there was a bit more warmth from Freddie–he’s polite to a fault, never one to pry into your feelings or private life, never one to open up about his own–but I’m used to it.
“So the rest of the day,” Freddie says, launching into it the moment the doors close.
I also wish Freddie would give me some space, but he’s under orders of the king and queen to keep me going and in line.
These days, that means never giving me a break, just sending me to a therapist instead, as if that will change a thing. “In an hour there’s a press conference just outside the palace, so we’ll need to get you home to change.”
I glance down at myself. I’m in gray jeans, boots, a navy fisherman’s sweater and a long, gray wool coat that I carry folded up in my arms that wasn’t needed on this mild spring day. “This won’t suffice?”
“You have to be in the formal garb.”
I groan. “Not even a suit? Alex did all his interviews in a suit.”
Freddie gives me a furtive glance underneath his sharp glasses. A tight smile follows. “Your parents want to ensure that the public knows you’re the new heir.”
My heart starts to race again. “But everyone fucking knows by now. The fucking funeral was televised.”
The doors to the ground floor open and Freddie gives me another look, this one to remind me once again who I am, where I am.
He grabs me by the arm and leads me away from the front doors. Stationed there are members of the royal patrol, my bodyguards but even so, we go in and out through the back entrances so that no one knows I’ve been here. I can’t imagine how it would look to know the Prince of Sweden was seeing a shrink. Though, fuck, we all have. It’s practically a requirement for royalty.
“Didn’t I just do a press conference?” I add as we step out into the back alley and get in the waiting car.
“Sorry,” Freddie says, buckling himself in with one hand while scrolling through his iPad with the other. “After the press conference you’ll have a meeting with the literacy charity that Alex founded, then you have a radio interview with the national broadcast in Helsinki. Tonight there is a ball held by the Countess at the Alandel Palace. You must go to that one, it’s in honor of your new role and the daughter of the countess would make an ideal girlfriend. Those are your mother’s words, of course.”
I can’t scarcely breathe. The walls of the car seem to close in around me, a black haze that quickly thickens. I’d barely woken up this morning before I was shuttled off to a meeting with my parents and the royal advisers, then was sent straight to Dr. Bonakov. The rest of my day is never ending, just like it was yesterday, just like it will be tomorrow.
Just like it will be for the rest of my life.
“Pull over,” I tell Kris, the driver. “Pull over!”
We’ve only made it a block from the doctor’s office, still in the alley.
Kris pulls the car over.
I open the door and get out, walking, stumbling down the lane.
I don’t know where I’m going.
I don’t know what I’m doing.
I just have to get out of here.
And that’s when I have an idea. I can just keep walking. Walk until this alley turns into the street, walk down the street until it turns into the sea. Keep going until I’m in its icy depths, until I’m with Alex.
“Your highness!” Freddie yells after me.
I don’t stop. Fuck that term. Even in a state of panic, I’m not Viktor to anyone. The formalities remain. The constraints. I keep walking, faster now, the end of the alley shining like a beacon under a burst of sunlight. I fish out that pill that the doctor gave me and force it down my throat.
Two of my guards suddenly appear at the end of the alley, blocking me in.
I would never ever have dreamed of fighting them before.
But I am a great deal taller than them, larger and stronger than at least one. They have been trained to protect me, but training has no match for raw emotion, for pure anger and desperation unscripted.
I could do a lot of damage.
I stop in front of them, feeling cagey, my fists opening and closing. I think one is Tor, the other is Gustav. I look in their eyes. They’re determined to keep me in line though a bit wary of the force they’ll need to use in order to do it.
I just don’t fucking care anymore.
“Let me pass,” I growl at them.
They exchange a worried glance. Good. They should worry about me. I’m worried. Everyone is fucking worried.
“We’re here for your protection, your highness,” Gustav says. I can hear Freddie’s shoes slapping on the ground behind me as he gets closer, echoing against the buildings.
“I’m going for a walk,” I tell them, looking them dead in the eyes and trying to keep my voice steady.
“Your highness,” Freddie says from behind me, breathless. I don’t even glance at him.
“As your royal highness, the crown prince of Sweden, heir to the throne, I command you to let me pass. I don’t want to be at your mercy anymore. I don’t wish to do anything you have planned, Freddie, and that means everything. I just want to be alone, to do what I fucking please.”
“Your highness,” Freddie says again, nearly chiding me. Now I’m looking at him. At six-foot-five I’m just a foot over him though he barely shrinks. Just adjusts his tie and gives me a stern look that could rival my father’s. I wonder if he’s been giving him tips. “I don’t think it wise for you to cancel any of today’s engagements,” he goes on. “Your parents would be very upset, and it would look terrible for the monarchy.”
I frown at him, my fists still balled until they feel tight and numb. “What looks terrible for the monarchy is having me paraded around town acting like everything is fine when it’s not fine. My brother is dead. We should all be allowed to grieve.”
“It’s been a month, your highness,” he says carefully, looking away as if he’s ashamed he said it. Well he should be ashamed. It’s the most awful thing I’ve heard in a long time.
“Have some respect for who would have been your future king,” I sneer.
“Have some respect for yourself,” he says back, boldly. “You have been nothing but a handful and I know that this is grief and I know this is normal, but you are not a normal citizen, your highness. You are the crown prince, you are the heir to the throne, you are all of these and more and if you don’t learn to control yourself, to put on a mask and act out your roles and your duties, then you’ll never rise to be the man that your brother was.”
I don’t even think. All I do is feel.
I feel my arm swing back and my fist come forward.
Right toward Freddie’s cheek.
Somehow Gustav is faster than I am.
Maybe this medication is already kicking in.
I clock Gustav in the jaw instead, my knuckles exploding against him as he falls back, knocking Freddie to the ground as he does so.
I’m instantly filled with both rage and regret.
An arm shoots out, Tor, attempting to hold me back from any future damage.
There’s no point. Whatever fight I had in me is gone.
I can’t even look at Freddie, Freddie who has been with me for so long, a man I’ve never been so violent or rude to before in all my life, a man who is just doing his best to keep me in line. I can’t look at Gustav either, a man hired to protect me and yet here I am hitting him. Accident or not, I had been ready to fight all of them from the start.
They can’t handle me.
And I’m someone that needs to be handled. Not carefully, like some fragile gift, but with brute force.
I hate what I’ve become.
Freddie was right. I’ll never rise to be the person my brother was. And the worst part of all that is, my brother couldn’t rise to the person he was expected to be either.
I can’t stay here.
I must keep moving.
I duck back away from Tor and walk past him to the street, grateful that no one saw the fight that just erupted here, a fight that would be splashed all over the papers, all over the world. They don’t stop me this time.
I shuck on my coat, suddenly cold and hail a cab passing by.”Take me to the dirtiest bar you can think of,” I tell the cab driver as I climb in the backseat, handing him a stack of Kroners(money spent in Sweden). “And don’t take me back until I’m sufficiently drunk
My mother’s voice rings through the fog in my brain, coming in like music in a dream. Something that you know isn’t existing outside your brain and yet has a whole life of its own. So real.
“Viktor, darling, please wake up. You’re safe now.”
I open my eyes and that, in itself, is a struggle. It’s like they want to stay shut forever, like my body is already telling me to give up. Go back into that darkness. She lied. It’s safer there, not here.
“There you are,” my mother says softly.
And there she is, sitting on the edge of my bed in…
Wait, this isn’t my bed. This is my old room in the palace where I grew up, the palace where my parents live. The king and queen.
She gives me a tight smile and I then notice my father hovering by the door. It’s closed. There’s no one else in the room except for…
Oh wait, Dr. Bonakov. He’s sitting in an ornate velvet chair by a desk, sipping a cup of tea.
“What happened?” I ask, my voice sounding groggy, foreign, far away.
I can’t remember a thing.
And what I can remember is horrible. Getting out of the car. Fighting with Freddie. Punching Gustav. Escaping. Getting a cab to a dive bar in the worst neighborhood possible. Sitting alone in the corner, avoiding people’s eyes, having shot after shot of vodka until…
“You had a bit of an… episode,” my mother says. “Luckily, the people who you had the episode around were the types to not remember any of it afterward.”
I glance at the doctor. “I took one of the pills,” I told him.
He nods. “I figured. Thankfully you’re here now and all in one piece.”
“But how did I get here?”
“The taxi driver that drove you to the bar kept coming around every hour to keep an eye on you. Finally, he phoned our press office. Didn’t even take it to the tabloids.”
“Proves that not all Stockholm cabbies do the devil’s work,” the doctor says impishly.
“Viktor,” my mother says, her voice becoming more stern now, ignoring him. “We can’t go on like this. We just can’t.”
I attempt to sit up in bed, my head ringing, pounding like a parade of horses is trampling over my brain. She slides a pillow behind me and through a wince, I get a better look at her. She’s dressed in her nightgown and robe, her blonde hair in curlers, her eyes and nose red from crying. My father is in a suit, his face giving me nothing though I swear he’s got a few more gray hairs than he did yesterday.
“I’m sorry,” I say, clearing my throat. “I’m sorry I lost my temper.”
“Lost your temper?” my father says gruffly. His words ooze with disappointment.
“Losing your temper is snapping at someone because they gave you a hard-boiled egg instead of soft. What you did was act violently toward not only one of your guards that are charged with protecting you, a guard who would lay down his life for you, but with Frederick Vereberg, who is one of the few people left here with any brains. That wasn’t losing your temper, Viktor, that was losing your god damn mind.”
I have no rebuttal to that. He’s right. I have lost my mind.
“I don’t know what to say.”
My mother sighs and looks over at my father, raising her brows. He just scoffs and turns away, hands behind his back, acting like the crown moulding around the door is far more fascinating than what’s to be done with his son.
His only son.
Once again, the sorrow hits me like an ice pick to the chest.
“Dear boy,” my mother says softly, placing a frail hand on mine. I stare down at it, peppered with sunspots, with lines and veins, and I realize that no one else outside this room gets to see my mother this way.
To the nation she is Her Royal Highness, Queen Elin of House Nordin. To me, she is a mother. A mother who just lost her oldest son, who is trying her hardest to hold it together for the good of her country.
“I’ve been discussing you with Dr. Bonakov,” she goes on.
“You’re sending me to a mental institution?” I ask.
She doesn’t smile at that. It was a poor joke.
“I’m sending you somewhere,” she says.
I cock my head at her, wondering what she means, as my father comes over and hands me a large yellow envelope.
“What is this?” I ask, opening it. Onto my lap falls a driver’s license, a credit card, a bank card and a passport.
My picture is on all of them with the name Johan Andersson. My place of birth has changed from Stockholm to the city of Malmo. My birthday remains the same.
I stare at them blankly, my brain too drugged and sluggish to comprehend.
“This is your therapy, Viktor,” my mother says. She looks at Dr. Bonakov who nods ever so slightly. “We know that you haven’t been handling the changes here very well.”
“So you’re giving me a new identity?”
“Temporarily,” the doctor says. “It’s a break. A break that we would all rather see you take than abdicate.”
“Abdicate?” Who said anything about abdicating?
“Look,” my father says, walking over slowly, hands still behind his back. “We’re no fools. We’re not heartless either. You’ve gone your whole life knowing you’d probably never sit on the throne, never having to worry about anything beyond just showing up for photos. The press has left you alone for the most part. You’ve been in the military, you’ve gone to school, you’ve studied, you’ve planned a different future from the one you’ve been handed. Now you’ve had to re-route. Your freedom has been stripped. That’s why you’ve been having a nervous breakdown.”
“Getting drunk isn’t a nervous breakdown,” I protest, though even as the words leave my mouth they’re already sounding like lies.
“Last week you swore during a live interview,” my father says, ticking off his fingers like bombs. “The next day you proceeded to forget the names of our own government officers during your meeting with the Prime Minister. Followed by you getting…ahem…handsy with one of the women at the Estonian embassy’s dinner party.”
I shrug. “She was handsy first.”
“She was the ambassador’s daughter!” he snaps. “You grabbed her ass in front of him!”
“Arvid, calm down,” my mother says, waving him away with her hand.
He lets out a huff of air and starts pacing.
She looks back to me, sympathy creasing her brow. “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. But we think the best way for you to deal with what happened to Alex, to deal with your new future, is to take a break. A real break. A holiday. Pretend to be someone else for a while.”
I blink at her, still having a hard time letting this sink in. “Who will I be? Even under another name, people will recognize me.”
“Here they will. Europe too. Go to America. Canada. Australia. Anywhere away from the continent. I promise you, they don’t know who you are.”
“For how long?”
“However long it takes you to get yourself together,” my father says, pausing near the door.
“I would say three weeks,” the doctor says after my mother looks at him for his opinion. “Maybe four. Any longer than that, and you might not want to come back.”
“Oh, you’ll come back, even if you don’t want to,” my father says, “you’ll come back. Or we’ll force you back here.”
“Arvid,” my mom chastises him. “Have a little kindness right now.” She smiles at me gingerly. “Four weeks. That’s about as long as we can cover for your lack of public appearances.”
“What are you going to tell people?” I have to admit, there is a kernel of hope burning in my stomach, the idea of not having to do any appearances for four weeks. Not having to be the heir apparent. Not having to be a prince.
I’m not sure the last time I felt this much light inside me.
“We’ll think of something,” she says. “You just make sure that you stay out of trouble, wherever you are. If it gets back to us that there is a prince on the loose,” She stops to chuckle at her own words and I can’t help but smile.
“well, we’ll all have a lot to answer for. Above all, my dear boy, I want you safe.”
“Which means I won’t have any guards…” I say slowly. I’ve never not had a bodyguard around me, even when I was at university, even when I was in the military.
“We’re taking a big risk,” my father adds. “What you did yesterday, you won’t get away with over there. You understand?”
I look him in the eye, nod. “I understand.” I glance at the doctor, at my mother, and do my best to hold back my smile. “When do I leave?”
“After you’ve apologized to Frederick and Gustav,” she says. “In person.”
“Of course, of course. I’ll apologize right away. That was…that was beneath me, what I did.”
She pats my hand. “Then if you do that today, perhaps you can leave tomorrow. Just let us know where and we’ll arrange your ticket.”
I pick up the passport, slowly flipping through the pages.
The pages are blank and waiting.
A clean slate.
I was tossing and turning all night long, my mind racing, latching onto Korkort Sverige in my parent’s bedroom and then running wild with loose and erotic thoughts that didn’t make much sense at all.
At one point I got up to pee and spent a good five minutes standing in the dim light of the hallway, staring at my parent’s door, daring myself to open it and see if the stranger was still in there.
Maybe the whole thing had just been a dream, my underused imagination having concocted this mysterious man out of thin air.