Home > The Swedish Prince (Royal Romance #1)(15)

The Swedish Prince (Royal Romance #1)(15)
Author: Karina Halle

All the bridesmaids were clutching white lilies.

The groomsmen had them as corsages.

Their scent filled the air, as intoxicating as poison and within seconds it felt like my chest was closing up and I was close to passing out.

White lilies were everywhere at Alex’s funeral.

I never really noticed until I smelled them again.

The smell of death.

It broke apart the mask I was wearing and once again I was Viktor, a grieving prince, lost under foreign lights.

I got back in that mustang and I drove through the desert, escaping those lilies and the memories and the pain.

Or so I thought.

Just before the desert rose up into the rolling hills that surround this town, the mustang sputtered and came to a crawl. I was lucky I didn’t get smoked by a few semi-trucks while I was at it.

Fortunately, it didn’t take long for me to call a towing company and for them to show up and take the mustang to the nearest hotel, where I told them I would tinker with it in their parking lot.

By then it was late, I was stressed, sad and tired, and I’d passed out without much time to think about anything. The next morning, however, I did my best to keep Viktor buried away. As annoying as it was to have my dream car break down like that, the car that had taken such good care of me on my trip across the states, it was good to have something to do, something to keep my mind occupied, something to fix since I sure as hell couldn’t fix myself.

It was when I was a greasy mess and I realized I needed a new carburetor that I went back into my room to shower and eventually look for parts online. I was walking around naked, an audiobook playing in my wireless earbuds since audiobooks in English were the best way for me to perfect the language, that I realized I wasn’t alone in the room.

The funny thing is, I’d gotten used to wandering around in hotel rooms naked. In Sweden nudity is barely an issue, but even so, back at home, I was constantly bombarded by people. In these hotel rooms I felt safe to do what I pleased.

That was until I turned around and discovered a maid staring at me with wide eyes and open mouth.

One extremely pretty and young maid, the kind you have fantasies about. Dark hair loosely pulled back, a disarmingly sweet face with lush lips and eyes like black holes, eyes that tempted you to get close and tumble in, never to get out again.

She took me by complete surprise.

I definitely took her by surprise.

She yelped, mumbled something and looked like she couldn’t get out of my room fast enough. I can’t blame her. She was rather small and with my height and stature I’m sure my cock was looking positively monstrous in front of her.

I didn’t expect to see her again. After she left, our little incident was the only amusing part of the day.

The day that crept into night.

The night that brought loneliness on a dry desert wind.

I could have sworn I smelled lilies in the air.

Maybe it was the overly-perfumed scent of a guest passing by in the hallway.

Maybe it was just in my head, conjuring up ghosts when I was alone and vulnerable.

Either way it struck me as hard as it had in Vegas, a bomb of sorrow that exploded inside me, shrapnel that made me bleed from the inside out.

I fell to my knees, overwhelmed, taken over.

I could have sunk right through the floor.

But I wouldn’t let the tears fall.

I felt if I did, I’d be taking a step backward into Viktor again. Into the person I was running away from, into the role I knew I’d eventually have to succumb to, a role that would now hurt so much more after this taste of freedom.

In desperation I found the pills that Dr. Bonakov had given me. I took two.

They took too long to kick in.

With no fridge in the room and no bar or restaurant in the hotel, I walked the ten minutes into town and went into the first bar I saw. Sat at the bar. Ordered a vodka on the rocks.

And that was it.

Lights out.

Into the black.

But there were dreams. Wild and dark and confusing. I dreamt about Alex and a crown laced with razor blades, bearing his blood, blood that washed me away into the next morning.

Where I woke up.

In a dim room of gray light.

In a strange bed.

With a strange girl and a young boy staring at me.

My first thoughts were that I’d been in an accident of some sort, that maybe I was in a hospital. Then that thought turned to one of being kidnapped because I noticed the girl was holding a razor blade like she wanted to slice me, like the razor blades in my dreams. Somehow, she figured out who I was and was holding me for ransom.

Then I noticed who she was.

The maid.

Then I learned what she did.

Took care of me when I was unconscious at the bar. Took me home. Made sure I was safe.

Something she didn’t have to do for a complete stranger.

And now I’m here, sitting in her kitchen at the worn wooden table while she’s rifling through a first aid kit she just pulled out from under the sink, about to treat the raw wounds on my knuckles. That guy had a face made of steel, I swear, and it didn’t help that I’d punched Gustav in the face just a few weeks before.

We’re not alone in the kitchen, of course.

On one side of me is a young boy who can’t seem to stop smiling. I can’t tell if he’s just happy or he’s plotting my death.

On the other side of me are a pair of twin girls, one with her hair dyed jet black, black clothes, a hint of eyeliner. The other in no makeup at all, a bright yellow shirt. Both stare at me with identical expressions of dry amusement, like I’m some stray animal their sister Maggie found on the street.

Maggie. Miss America.

Now that I’ve spent the morning with her she’s morphed from being the hot little maid that walked in on me naked to becoming the only person I know in this town, a person who went out of her way for me, a person who seems genuinely interested in me without knowing who I really am. I have to say, I’m enchanted by her.

Which brings me to my dilemma.

That I’ve fed her lies.

That I’ll keep feeding her lies.

And I hate it.

“So what do you do?” the girl with the black hair asks me pointedly. “What is your job?”

Maggie is unscrewing a tube of ointment and quickly glances at me, listening.

“I’m part of a big company in Sweden.”

“Is it IKEA?” the other girl asks.

I smile. If I had a kroner for every IKEA joke I’ve heard these last few weeks.

“No it’s not IKEA.”

“Volvo?” the dark-haired girl asks.

“It’s not Volvo either.”

“ABBA?” the boy says.

I raise my brow at him. “You think I’m part of ABBA?”

He just shrugs gleefully and starts wiggling in his seat. “See that girl,” he starts singing to “Dancing Queen,” the song horribly off-key, “watch that scene, oh no, she smells like pee.”

“Callum,” Maggie admonishes him while I burst out laughing.

“You know,” I tell him, “that song was sung in honor of the queen of Sweden the day before her wedding. You might want to show some respect.”

“Why? Are you the king?”

Not yet.

“Ugh, Callum, please don’t start insulting other people’s countries,” Maggie says again, pulling up a chair beside me and placing her fingers on my wrist. Her touch feels like a warm spark, soothing and electric all at once. She glances at me with a shy smile as she squeezes ointment onto her finger. “I’m sorry, he has this bad habit of changing song lyrics to anything to do with poo or pee.”

“Is that so?” I say to him, and he just giggles in return. From the way he’s bobbing his head, I can tell he’s finishing the song in his head, probably adding another phrase about my mother.

“So,” Maggie says, dabbing the cream on my knuckles. I hold back a wince. “What is the company?”

Curious bunch. Though I supposed I am in their home and they’re trying to get to know me as more than some Swedish stranger.

“It’s a pharmaceutical company,” I tell her.

“Ah,” she says with a nod. “That sounds…very important.”

“It’s okay,” I tell her, wishing I didn’t have to lie. I try and find my truth in it. “My whole family has worked there for generations. We made it everything it is today. I’m poised to take over the company after my father, uh, quits.”

“Oh well that’s exciting,” she says. I watch as she takes her time dressing my wounds, the way her brows come together in concentration. I have to wonder if she’s this attentive with everyone or if it’s just for me.

But if it’s just for me, it’s not for me. It’s for a persona I created, the future head of a big company. Johan Andersson.

If she knew the truth about me, would it matter? She doesn’t seem that impressed by my fake job though I know a lot of people usually are. Pharmaceutical companies pull in a lot of money.

But if she found out who I really was…?

“Am I hurting you?” she asks, her voice sweetly concerned.

I meet her big, brown eyes and realize I was tensing up. “No. I’m fine. Thank you.” I force myself to relax. It doesn’t help that the more she touches me, leans into me, looks at me, the tenser I get. She smells decadent and sweet, like sugar and cinnamon.

She nods, looking almost embarrassed, as if she realized how attentive she’s been, how close we are. She straightens up, putting some space between us, and starts getting out a roll of bandages.

“Do you cook?” the dark-haired girl asks me as Maggie wraps the bandage around my hand.

“Cook?” I actually can cook, only because I find it soothing and it gives me a sense of control. Growing up, we had a whole arsenal of staff to do everything for us. “I do okay for myself.”

The twins exchange a look, a playful smile.

“What? Why?” I ask, suspicious.

Then the dark-haired one launches into a fairly dead-on impression of The Swedish Chef from the Muppets. “Ooo-dee doo-dee bork bork.”

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