There was a party at Leif’s lounge and Ellen was there with her friends. Just a little fun at the bar, nothing special. They had been lying on the beach most of the day and enjoyed the After Beach event.
Ellen didn’t see it coming, but this afternoon was going to change her life.
* * *
Christina drove up Hotel Tylösand’s driveway and parked in the special reserved spot. She wouldn’t be long. She used the lobby to get to Leif’s Lounge and started scanning the area with her eyes. After a few minutes, she was done.
“Oops, sorry!” Ellen said when she bumped into a blonde girl.
“Are you Ellen?” the blonde said. Ellen’s mouth fell open. That was not the thing that she’d expected to come from the blonde’s mouth. She looked pretty and serious and a little annoyed, so she’d expected something else.
“Y-yes…” she stammered, eyes wide with surprise.
“Can you please come with me?”
She didn’t wait for an answer but started walking towards the exit. Ellen looked around her; her friends were sitting outside, it was at least twenty-three degrees out there and cold cider was waiting for her. She almost laughed about it; it didn’t make any sense at all.
“Ellen!” The blonde, obviously Swedish, called her from the doorway to the stairs which let to the front door of Leif’s.
“Excuse me, I don’t understand why I should go with you.” Ellen said to the girl, trying to look serious.
“Please come, I’ll explain later.”
When Ellen walked outside, the blonde was waiting for her in a big, silver-grey Volvo station. She opened the door for Ellen.
“Please get in!” Ellen was hesitant and insecure, but something made her go.
It was silent in the car for a moment,
The girl got picked up by a beautiful, blonde, super-thin, Swedish dream-girl. Her name was Christina. She drove away from Tylösand and when the road got less crowded, Christina spoke again.
“I’m sorry to drag you away like this, I didn’t mean to scare you.” She said and smiled. Ellen nodded slowly.
“Where are we going?” she asked, eyes flying around nervously.
“I can’t tell you that yet. You’ll see. But you have to promise not to tell this to anyone, please!” Christina held one finger in the air as if she was a teacher. Ellen looked at her for a moment. She guessed the girl would be halfway in her twenties, a little older than herself. She was driving carefully but secure, obviously with experience.
“So… how did you know my name?” Ellen tried. Christina looked at her but didn’t answer the question.
They neared Sandhamn and Ellen got a little scared.
“Christina! I really want to know what is going on.” Ellen said with a high voice.
“I’m sorry, but I promised not to tell you until we got there.” Christina answered while driving into a familiar looking lane. One side there were woods, one side was a golf course.
Ellen stopped breathing for a moment when Christina slowed down at Per Gessle’s house. She opened the gate with a remote control and drove inside. She parked the car and turned to Ellen, whose face was white as a sheet.
“Listen. I am an assistant for the Gessle family, ok? I work for them. Per has asked me to pick you up because it was too crowded over there. He is in the garden and he wants to talk to you.”
Per was sitting in the garden with a newspaper. His eyes went over the lines but he wasn’t really reading. He sipped from his cold, white wine and moved his head a little; his neck was sore. All his muscles felt sore. Hangovers got worse when you get older, he thought.
The girl walked into his garden slowly, almost without a sound. Still he noticed the movement and looked up. She looked exactly as he remembered. He realised then and there that this was actually all he had wanted to know. She was wearing long, white pants and a tight orange top. She looked like she just came from the beach, which was probably true. Per saw the strap of a bikini-top in her neck. She didn’t have anything with her; no purse, nothing. Just a wallet, keys and mobile phone in one of her hands.
Ellen’s heart almost pounded out of her chest. She wasn’t that nervous about meeting him, but the atmosphere was… just plain weird. She felt completely out of place in Per’s garden, walking up to meet him while he stood up from his comfortable wooden chair. He was wearing light brown shorts and a khaki t-shirt, looked relaxed and smiled a little.
“Hello Ellen.” He said when she was close enough. He held out his hands and she shook it with a soft ‘Hello’.
“Please sit down. Do you want some wine?” he said while already pouring her a glass. Ellen felt her hands shake when she sat down on the chair opposite from him. She wriggled her cold hands together on her lap and looked at the glass.
He didn’t go into any chit chat; he didn’t make jokes or smile. He got to the point right away, before she even had time to realise his presence.
“I just wanted to meet you and see if you were the person I thought about. I have to tell you that I’ve read all your letters, at least all that have arrived in Stockholm.” Per spoke slowly and thoughtfully, playing with his wineglass on the table. He looked at her from time to time but didn’t hold her gaze.
“They haven’t left me untouched and I have an urge to thank you, although it seems inappropriate at the same time.” He took a sip of his wine and breathed in and out, sighing.
Ellen took a few big gulps of wine; the bitter, cold fluid seemed to get stuck in her throat. She managed to swallow and the after-taste almost made her sick. She wanted to speak but her mind was blank. Per went on.
“But now, I want to ask you to stop writing me. Don’t send any more letters, please.” He stared at her intensely. The silence around them was awful, but Ellen still couldn’t think of anything to say. Years had she thought about this moment, she had been awake for nights in a row thinking about it, eventually falling asleep with the reassuring thought he would never mention it. He didn’t even know who she was. Her letters had always been anonymous.
“Ok.” she said, softly. She stood up and looked down at him for a moment, her eyes filling with tears she didn’t even notice coming up. Per looked at his empty glass, rolling it around between his hands.
She walked away through the garden. Her mind screamed; ‘Run!!’ but her body didn’t seem to respond. Her feet were heavy, the grass was thick and slowing her steps.
“Ellen! Wait!” he called her. She stopped moving instantly. She didn’t turn around, just stood there and wiped away the tear that was sliding down her cheek. Per had followed her and now stood behind her. His hand on her shoulder made her turn around.
“You got too close…” he said softly. He looked as if he wanted to say more, but Ellen had heard enough. She nodded and then walked off.
Per was annoyed. He was late for an interview and when he finally arrived, the journalist had called and cancelled. So now he had an hour of precious, expensive time before the next interview started and there was nothing to do.
He was in Belgium for some interview about Roxette’s new album. Even though Marie wasn’t ready to face the press yet, they agreed it was time to put the news out there. So when some magazines and papers heard the news and asked for interviews, he travelled to Brussels.
Dimberg suggested having an early lunch instead of sitting around, so they left the hotel, got into a cab and entered a quiet, fancy lunch room a few minutes later. They ate, busy talking and paid little attention to anything else but the food and the – business – conversation they were having. For some reason though, Per’s eyes were drawn to the door when two girls came in. They spotted him at the same moment. Their eyes widened, they smiled and exchanged a look. Then they entered the restaurant. They nodded at Per when they passed him and chose a table on the other site of the room. Dimberg stopped talking in mid-sentence and sighed.
“That’s one of your next interviews. The Fanclub.” She stated. Per nodded. He’d recognised both of them from earlier meetings, interviews, concerts or whatever. One of them looked particular familiar. She was with Ellen when he noticed her in the audience some time ago. Not long ago, but before their horrible meeting in his backyard. It had been a while since she’d crossed his mind. At least… ten hours?
* * *
“Hi, it’s me! Am I interrupting?”
“Hehe, no, I was upstairs, sorry!”
“You weren’t in bed yet, were you? Did I wake you?”
“No, I was making the bed.”
“Ah! Ok. Well… I just came home from Brussels.”
“Oh, that’s cool! Did you spend the weekend there?”
“No, just this afternoon. Look, Ellie, I have to tell you something you don’t want to hear, ok? Are you sitting?”
“Hold on…” (muffled sounds) “yes? What’s going on?”
“I was in Brussels today. We were in Brussels, Marian and I. We interviewed Per.”
(a sigh) “Leila, I…”
“Shush! Just hear me out. He was asking after you.”
“You’re not serious.”
“I am. Ask Marian. We did an interview, it was great, I’ve never had such a great conversation with him ever. Then at the end, when we were about to leave, he suddenly asked if I happened to be your friend.”
“If it could be that he saw us together at some concert last summer and if your name was indeed Ellen or Ellie.”
Ellen was silent.
“Ellie, what the hell does that mean?” her friend asked with a worried voice.
“That means everything is a big mess.” Ellen’s voice sounded calm when she said it but she was shaking. She had gotten up from the couch and paced the room.
“What did you say?” she asked the still amazed Leila.
“Uhm, I said that we were indeed together at the concert he mentioned. And he asked how you were doing and I said fine.”
“And that was it.”
“Ellie, please. You sound freaky.”
Ellen laughed. “I am freaky.” She took a deep breath and told Leila what had happened in Halmstad in the summer. She only told the short, dry facts.
“What the fuck! Now that sounds really freaky!” Leila flipped.
“Oh please, don’t dramatize it. I stopped doing that already.”
“So is that why you quit?” Leila asked, meaning the fact that Ellen had abandoned the whole Rox-and-related world right after she came back from Sweden.
“Yep. And that’s how it’s going to stay.”
* * *
In the summer after that long, cold, dark winter that followed that conversation…
Gothenburg. Ellen was in a club with some Swedish friends, some Dutch and some other international people. They agreed to meet up in Gothenburg this summer. There was nothing Rox-like going on, yet no one could avoid Sweden during their vacation. Ellen let her friends talk her into joining them, visiting Gothenburg for two weeks. Now she was happy to be here, happy to see her friends again, happy to be on vacation.
She left the bathroom with Leila and was about to climb the steps when someone said her name.
“Hi! How are you?”
“Uhm, fine, thanks, you?”
“Great. Can I speak with you for a moment?”
They found a private spot together on one of the small tables beside the dance floor.
“I am not running into you, you know.” Christina said while both sipped their drinks.
“Well in that case, I don’t want to talk to you.” Ellen answered and crossed her arms in front of her chest.
“He feels bad about what happened.”
“He’s an asshole. Well probably he’s not but I think he’s an asshole.” Ellen said softly and wanted to get up. Christina placed her hand over his.
“Could you at least hear him out? Just meet him once, talk to him. Maybe you feel better then, less…” she paused.
“Less bitter?” Ellen finished for her, then laughed sarcastically.
“Where is he then? Is he here in Gothenburg?” she asked and Christina shook her head.
“He’s in Halmstad.”
“I can’t meet him, I’m sorry.” Ellen simply said and left the table.
She sat down with her friends again. A few minutes later, Christina approached the table. She gave Ellen a small note with a Swedish mobile number on it.
“Call me if you change your mind ok?” She said. Ellen nodded and put the piece of paper in the back pocket of her jeans.
The week that followed was difficult for Ellen. She was eager to go home, so she wouldn’t be able to change her mind. She was angry with Per, even though she knew the reason was stupid. But there was another part of her that was curious, too. Curious about what he had to say. Besides, she had a question for him; how the hell did he figure out it was her? Had he known all along? She’d started sending him letters during a horrible period in her life, when she was low and depressed. It had become a habit which stayed when things changed and got better. She had gotten addicted to writing him, the excitement she felt when she posted a new letter… and yet, she’d never known if he actually read them.
* * *
Christina got an sms on Friday evening. It was Ellen and all she wrote was; ‘I changed my mind. Tomorrow? Ellen.’ Christina called her back a few hours later, saying that Per was in Gothenburg this weekend. He could meet her at his hotel on Saturday afternoon.
Ellen had spent the day by a lake with her friends. After they came back from the lake, Ellen’s friends wanted to relax a little bit. The plan was to go out tonight and party until they dropped. The Dutchies were going home on Sunday so this was the last evening in Sweden. Leila was still the only one who knew what happened, and together they made up an excuse for Ellen to go out alone. She would meet Per at his hotel around four.
The hotel was big and expensive, in a quiet part of Gothenburg’s centre. Ellen felt out of place like she had done when she was in Per’s garden. She took the elevator up to one of the top floor and searched for his room. She needed a few deep breaths before she dared to knock. She forgot to breathe when he opened the door and a little gasping sound escaped her throat.
“Hi!” she forced herself to say.
“Hey, come in.” Per said and opened the door a little further. Ellen walked in and tried not to stare at him. He was wearing a white, short-sleeved shirt. The top buttons were opened, showing a piece of tanned chest and a little bit of hair. He wore jeans and was barefoot.
The hotel room was a suite, divided in two parts. She had entered the part where there were a couch, table, television and a desk. Two open doors lead to the bedroom where she saw a big, neatly made bed. Per pointed at the couch and asked if she wanted a drink, then he went and closed the doors to the bedroom.
“Water please.” She said. Her voice cracked and she cleared her throat. Per brought two small bottles of water from the mini bar and poured them both a glass. Then he sat down next to her on the couch. She had hoped he would take the chair next to it but he didn’t. The couch was small and she pressed herself as far into the corner as she could.
“Thank you for coming.” Per said. Ellen nodded and drank some water. She looked at his eyes and then quickly away again. Per looked at her for a moment. He wondered what went on in her mind right now. She looked pretty and relaxed but he could imagine she was tense. She was wearing a tight, white, cotton skirt and a black top. Her open shoes were black and high-heeled and a small black purse stood by her feet.
“So how have you been?” he asked.
“Fine, thanks. You?”
“Ok. I thought about you and… and our meeting in Halmstad.” He said. Ellen drank some more water and sighed.
“Me too. And I am here because I want to ask you something.” She looked up at him now, her dark eyes cold and impossible to read. Per turned towards her a little bit and waited.
“I… uhm, I have been wondering. How could you know it was me? And why did you… why was I…” she sighed, swallowed and spoke again.
“Why did you make me come to your house?” She asked with a soft voice.
Per crossed his arms in front of his chest and though for a moment.
“Perhaps that was not the best idea I ever had. But I just wanted to see you. And like I said then, I wanted to ask you to stop sending your letters.” He said. Ellen looked at him without any expression on her face. When she didn’t speak, he continued.
“I guess I… your letters touched me.” He put his glass back on the table and stayed there, leaning towards her. “I guess I got curious.” He said, his voice low and deep. Ellen’s heart jumped, while at the same time anger was building inside her.
“What do you mean, curious? If you knew it was me, there was no point in meeting.” Her eyes seemed to harden even more and her voice was cold and flat. Per felt a little uneasy. She was getting angry.
“I know it was strange, but… I just wanted to meet you. It was an impulsive thing. I’d just read your last letter, Christina brought it from Stockholm. She had forgotten about it, but when she saw you at Leif’s, she came home and gave me the letter and told me that she had seen you.” he spoke slowly. He looked calm but his eyes were restless, flying around the room and unable to keep her gaze. Ellen didn’t say anything.
“Ellen, listen…” Per came a little closer to her on the couch. He fought the urge to put an arm around her. He looked into her eyes and for a moment, forgot what he wanted to say.
“Your letters are…”
“My letters were fan mail. Just ordinary fan mail.” She interrupted him and looked away.
“Well there you have it. They weren’t, not to me.” She shook her head and smiled.
“I have the feeling I know you very well and that I should call you ‘Ellie’. I missed your letters you know.”
Ellen didn’t know what to feel anymore. She was desperate. She felt angry, sad and incredibly triumphant at the same time.
“How did you know it was me?”
“Come on. I have internet too. You are all over it.” He said. She looked surprised.
“What? You know me from the net?” she forgot her anger for a moment. Per smiled.
“Yeah, something like that. I recognized you on pictures. And then, it was a matter of clicking. You are a good writer and your style is easily recognized.” He tried not to chuckle as it seemed impolite.
“What? What did you read?”
“I read a few stories. I was curious! You made me curious…” he said and his eyes turned naughty.
Somewhere in the back of her mind, Ellen had expected that this would be the reason he knew who she was. She was involved in a website where amateur writers got the opportunity to publish their stuff and get feedback from other writers. She’d written some short stories and decided to join the website, which inspired her to write more. And more, and more. It got out of hand a little bit, but she enjoyed it. She had never used Per in her stories but most of her friends knew where her inspiration came from…
“Ok.” She said and got up. Per stood up too.
“Are you leaving now?” he asked surprised.
“Well, I have an answer to my questions. I won’t bother you anymore.” She walked to the door while saying that. Per followed her and grabbed her wrist, softly.
“Ellen… don’t go, please. Sit down.” he said, keeping his voice as firm as he could. Ellen tried to free her wrist but his grip got stronger.
“Because… because I want to talk with you.”
“I don’t see the point. Let me go!” her face was flushed and she was mad as hell now. He didn’t say anything but held on to her wrist and got closer.
“What is this?!” she said with a loud voice.
“You read something that made you hard and now you want to…”
“Excuse me?!” Per interrupted her.
“Fuck you, Per Gessle.” She whispered. He let go of her and stepped back.
“You wish.” He mumbled.
The slap in his face was hard and unexpected. He tumbled on his feet.
“What the…” he gasped and touched his burning cheek. Ellen was furious. Her cheeks were red and her vision blurry. She was crying. Per moved quickly. Before she could walk away from him again, he grabbed both her arms and pulled her to him, against the side of the couch and kissed her mouth. She almost fell back onto the couch but he held her up, squeezing her upper arms. Ellen twisted and pushed him away from her. She moved her hips and stepped aside, trying to escape his soft, wet lips…
“Oh my God.” She whispered when his mouth left hers. She turned her head when he wanted to kiss her again. Instead, he kissed her throat. She placed her trembling hands on his chest.
“Per…” she whispered. His grip on her arms loosened a little. Ellen gave one big pull with her arms and stepped away, stumbling along the couch until she stood on the other side of it.
“Shit, Ellen, I…” Per’s voice was thick.
“You can’t do this. What the hell…”
“I’m sorry.” He said and walked her way. She took a few steps back, very unsteady on her feet as if she was drunk. Damn high heels.
“I thought…” Per started. He still came closer.
“Don’t think! Please!” she said sarcastically. She held out her arms to keep him at some distance, but he was faster. His hands caught both of her wrists now and he pushed her back more. She bumped into the doors that separated the room from the bedroom.
“No, no…” she mumbled when his mouth covered hers again. He kissed her softly, then licked her lips. He heard a snuffle; she was crying.
“Per,…” he cut her of by slipping his tongue inside her mouth. He kissed her hard, swirling his tongue along her teeth, finding her tongue. He felt her arms relax and she stopped fighting him. He still held her wrists up between them and pushed his hips into her. He placed a foot between hers and she felt his hard member on her upper leg. She started pushing again with her arms, still trying to get rid of him. But she was kissing him back now, too. She couldn’t resist his hot, demanding mouth which seemed to want to drink from her. He broke the kiss and looked into her eyes.
“You don’t want me, Ellie?” he asked. His voice caused goose bumps on her skin.
“You can’t do this.” She whispered under her breath.
“No?” He let one of her wrists go and his hand went down, under her skirt.
“Are you sure?” he said and put his hand between her legs. He felt a wet spot in her panties. He mumbled something and Ellen practically jumped when he kicked the doors behind her. They opened and hit the walls with a bang. He pushed her inside roughly. She stumbled and almost fell, hit her legs against the side of the bed and then fell onto it. Per crawled on top of her. She tried to kick him off her but he grabbed her ankles and spread her legs. The skirt made a cracking sound. He pulled it up, ignored her nails in his shoulder and put his weight on her. She felt him push her thong to one side, and then a finger on her…
“You really don’t want me, uh…” Per hissed with his mouth close to hers.
“Fuck you.” she whispered. Her voice was slurred and she was still crying. She bit her lip, hard, when he entered her with one finger. He pushed inside and felt the wetness that she couldn’t hide. She was wet and hot and horny. He pulled his finger out and searched for that swollen little knot that was aching to be touched.
“Godverdomme!” she yelled. She wriggled her hips to get away from his touch but it was impossible. He was too heavy, she couldn’t push him away.
“Oh!!” she cried out when he touched her in the right place. He started to move his finger around and around, closely watching her face. She moaned. Per moved his finger a little faster and with more pressure. He felt her legs tremble under him.
“Mmm… mmmm…” she sighed and twisted. Then he suddenly stopped. His fingers left her, only to open up his jeans. He quickly pulled them down with his underwear and placed himself between her legs. She felt his hardness against her wet opening.
“Ellie. Look at me.” His hoarse voice said. Ellen opened her eyes and looked right into his. She opened her mouth when he entered her. He thrust deep into her and a shiver went through him. A retreated and thrust again. Ellen moaned with every move he made.
“Oh! Oh!” she sighed softly. She wrapped her arms around him and pulled him closer, pushing her hips up to meet his strokes. Per whispered something dirty in Swedish that she understood only half, and stuck his tongue into her mouth again.
“Faster… faster…” she whispered into his mouth.
“God… yes… yes… oh!” she moaned when he sped up. He felt her contracting inside and watched her face. Her eyes were closed, her mouth open and lips wet. She squeezed his arms and gave in to her feelings. He felt the wave of orgasm come over her and couldn’t hold back anymore. He pounded into her and growled loudly when he released deep inside her.
Per lay on top of her with his face buried in her neck. He panted fast and she felt his heart thudding against her chest. Her hand stroked back his damp hair. They lay like that for what seemed minutes, then Per’s head came up and he looked into her eyes.
“Are you ok?” he asked, looking almost scared. Ellen smiled.
“Do you know how dangerous this is?” she said softly, caressing his cheek. Per nodded.
“You are lucky, I am on the pill. I haven’t had sex for… well, a long time. But you are cheating…” she said. Per shook his head.
“What? You are suddenly not married anymore?”
“Separated.” He said, looking away. He rolled off her and got up from the bed. He stepped into the bathroom and came back with a towel. Ellen laughed when he ‘cleaned up’ between her legs. He went back to the bathroom, threw some water in his face and looked at himself in the mirror. ‘Have you lost your mind?!’ he asked his image silently.
Back in the bedroom, Ellen was standing beside the bed with her back to him. She was putting her shoes on and Per stared at her well-formed bare legs for a moment.
“Are you leaving?” he said softly. She looked up at him.
“I think I should.” her voice was soft and unsure and she gave him a questioning look. She almost looked like a cat, wondering if it can jump on your lap or not, looking at you with big eyes and the little head tilted to one side… Per wouldn’t mind taking Ellen on his lap…
“I wouldn’t mind if you’d stay… a little longer…” he said and ran his hands over her arms. He saw red marks where he’d squeezed her before.
“Maybe I can… make up for this…” His fingers softly trailed the red marks and Ellen looked at them.
“No.” she said and pushed his hands away. She took them in her own and kissed his lips, softly, long. Her tears made his cheek wet.
* * *
Ellen sighed deeply when the plain hit Dutch ground. Home, finally. She had a week of vacation ahead but couldn’t wait to start working again. She desperately needed to shake things off.
The night before, she’d just come home in time for the BBQ. They went out afterwards and Ellen had been drinking until she dropped, literally. Leila and he boyfriend almost had to carry her home. Leila had been exchanging looks with her but she hadn’t told her anything. She couldn’t even think of what had happened, afraid to get overwhelmed by it. She had dozed off a couple of times during the short flight from Gothenburg to Amsterdam. She had slept probably only a few hours the previous night, or what was left of it. Every time she closed her eyes, he was there. He looked at her, he spoke to her, he kissed her. But she didn’t hear what he was saying and as soon as his lips were about to touch hers, his face started to vanish in front of her, leaving her to kiss air.
Ellen made good use of her week off. She cleaned the whole house, re-decorated the kitchen and the terrace and visited a lot of family and friends. She thrived on anger. She was angry with Per and angry with herself. What the hell was that asshole thinking when he just plain raped her?! Oh yes, she’d wanted it… yes, she had been incredibly aroused… and that’s why she was angry with herself. She should’ve never let it get that far. She shouldn’t have sent him those stupid letters. His ego was big enough as it was.
* * *
Per was doing what he was best at. He was sitting at a table on the balcony. It was a little cold but he had put on an extra sweater; the fresh air did him good. He was writing. A lyric had woken him up early that morning. He had refused to get up so he dreamed away for a while, the lyric in his head. After a while he’d forced himself to get up, as the complete lyric was now swimming through his mind and very annoying. He’d been sitting outside on the balcony with a cup of coffee and wrote. He wrote different versions, threw some away and went back to the bin to get one out…
A little later, he was in the shower. He was humming tunes, trying to fit them to the lyrics. It would be a slow song, a romantic one. He could leave that to Clarence, with the arrangements and stuff. Marie would have to sing this. He wrote it in the third person, as if Marie was looking at what was happening. Ooooh her voice would match perfectly… he tried to empty is mind while washing the shampoo out of his hair. He rubbed some soap over his chest and legs. He hummed the lyrics again, out loud… then he saw her face in his mind. He dropped the soap and coughed when he swallowed some water. Damned!! Damn this girl! He couldn’t stop thinking about her and that evening in Gothenburg. Or well, he could stop thinking about it but his mind just brought her back every time. Mmm… She was a cute subject for the song… sweet and innocent and nice and pretty… and sexy… Per felt he got hard while thinking of her. He sighed and looked down. He was a man after all, he couldn’t help it. Thinking of her and the way he threw her on the bed made him hard. Thinking back of her flushed, angry face changing to pleasure, made him moan…
* * *
It was a dull, rainy Sunday morning and Ellen was lying in bed. Years ago, and time after time, Ellen had always stated that there were two things she couldn’t do without. She realised that was exactly what she had done in the past year; giving up on her two passions in life. She had quit being active as a Roxette-fan and had almost stopped listening to them altogether. And now she had quit writing too.
She had decided it last night when she was stuck in a story. Her writing had become hysterical, hectic and less frequent lately. She got less positive response and she was fed up with all her characters too. So, time to find another hobby, she thought and turned to her other side to watch the clock. Half past eight. Well sleeping wasn’t likely to be something she’d spend a lot of time with…
After some house-hold tasks, Ellen sat on the couch with a cup of tea. The TV was on but she wasn’t really watching anything. There was nothing to do. No story to worry about, no e-mails to answer and no friends to chat with. She was alone and bored. Just looking around the room, tidy as if someone had too much time on her hands, her eye fell on a small grey book on a shelf across the room. Her diary.
* * *
Summer was at its end. It was still warm outside but the wind had become stronger, announcing October approaching. Per and Marie sat outside in her garden with warm sweaters on and she was listening to something on his mini disk.
“Very good.” she said when she’d finished. She looked at him in silence for a moment.
“You think so?” he asked, wanting to hear it again. Marie nodded.
“It’s great, it really touches me… but do you have an idea how to use this?”
“I thought it could be for our next album.” he said. Marie raised her eyebrows.
“For us? For Roxette you mean?”
“Yes. I want you to sing it.” he said and looked at her with a warm, loving smile. Marie chuckled.
“Ok. I will… Hey you know what!” she suddenly sat up in her chair and patted her hand on his knee. Per looked at her with an amused smile.
“We can use this for the Christmas thing! What’s that again? The thing we’re doing with TV4!”
“Oooh, the Christmas show!”
“Yes!! Then we don’t have to wait for the new album to present this song! AND we have something new to sing there!” She looked at him with a bright smile.
“That’s a good idea… so you like it?” he asked again. Marie nodded but inwardly shook her head at his behaviour. He had become less self-confident over the last few years, when it came to writing.
“Just one thing.” She said softly. Per raised his eyebrows.
“Who is she?” Marie asked. Per sighed and looked away, then smiled and looked at her.
“Oh come on…”
“Well, are you in love?” Marie asked, half scared and half amused.
“Pffff… in love… at this age?” he chuckled. “She is on my mind a lot.”
“Is this the girl that sent you the letters?” Marie wanted to know.
“How can you know everything?”
“I’m a mother remember.”
* * *
The loud clatter of the letterbox almost made Ellen jump. She had been sitting at her computer for a couple of hours, concentrated on her work. A terrible cold kept her home but she could also work from there, to avoid boredom. She got up with a sigh and stretched her aching muscles with some growls. Sniffing, she walked to the door and picked up the mail from the floor. Bills, commercial stuff… a postcard from her colleagues… and a letter. A jolt in her stomach and a dizzy feeling in her head when she recognised the handwriting, his handwriting. She leaned against the wall and stared at it for a moment.
Back at her desk, Ellen shuffled the pile of mail under another pile of paper. She blocked the letter from her mind for the moment and continued working.
Somewhere in the middle of the night, Ellen woke up with a shock. Her eyes opened widely, she was panting and sweating all over. She sat up and took a sip of the water on the night stand. Crawling under the covers again, she tried to remember why she woke up. She was wide awake and her breathing was shallow. When she closed her eyes, she remembered parts of the dream she had. Per. She saw Per. He stood on a green field, wearing a white shirt and held a letter in his hand. Suddenly it all came back and she sat up again, shocked by her own thoughts. Geez. She hadn’t woken up because of some scary dream. The dream had been horny. Hot. Sex. With Per. Wild, thrilling, thigh-trembling, sweaty, mind-blowing sex.
So, Ellen got up in the middle of the night and put on her robe. She went to her study and searched for the letter. She took it to the bedroom and lay down to read it.
Ellen spent most of the next day in bed. Her eyes were teary but it was not all caused by the cold… the words he had written kept flying through her mind. She couldn’t sleep because every time she closed her eyes, vivid images of their encounter in the hotel in Gothenburg came up.
‘I don’t know what to do with myself anymore. I am thinking about you all the time and it’s getting annoying. I wish I knew how you were doing, what you are feeling right now. I wish I could see you again, soon.’
‘How I’m doing?! Well bloody miserable!’ she wanted to scream at him. She wanted to write him and tell him to piss off. Being heart-broken was already hard enough without him, no need to add to the pain by writing such… such things.
Ellen wouldn’t be too pleased if she had known that Per was doing quite well at that moment. He had called Åsa late in the afternoon. They hadn’t spoken to each other for a couple of days and that was long, even though they were separated. The separation was lasting for some weeks now and Per was ready. Ready to either give up the separation or the whole thing, he couldn’t think about it anymore. It was taking too long. They hadn’t spoken a single word about the things they were supposed to work out, since she left. And now he had called her again. They spoke about their son for a while, about family and friends. He told her he missed her, in the middle of the conversation. He just blurted it out. A little hesitantly, she had admitted the same. They giggled over themselves and then he’d asked her to have dinner with him tat evening. He would take her out.
Ellen spent the evening watching TV and writing in her diary furiously, while Per and Åsa had a great time during dinner. They had one of those great talking evenings, discussing all kinds of things and life in general. Both were in a good mood because they had been determined to make this evening work out good. After dinner, they went to Per’s apartment. He kissed her right after she threw her coat over a chair. She answered his kiss and he pulled her with him to the couch.
“I didn’t only miss your sensible talking.” He whispered hoarsely when he lay on top of her on the couch. Åsa smiled and stroked his face. He kissed her again, licking her lips softly. She sighed and pushed her tongue into his mouth, urging him to kiss her deeper. She was wearing a long, black skirt and Per had trouble pulling it up. She laughed under his kisses and his slightly drunken attempts to get the skirt out of the way. Then she stopped his hands and for a moment he thought she wanted to stop. But she whispered in his ear; “Let’s go to the bedroom.”
“Mmmm… no… I want you on the couch. I can’t walk all the way to the bedroom…” he answered and pushed his hips into her, making her feel the evidence of his urgency.
They didn’t waste much time with undressing each other. She sat on his lap and thrust herself on him, her hands squeezing his flesh under his shirt. Per leaned back to watch her move on him, caressing her full breasts. He bit his lip when she pulled his hand between her legs… he knew exactly what she wanted. His thumb on that delicate spot made her shiver and she came quick and short, a loud yelp leaving her mouth. She leaned down with her head on his shoulder and kissed his neck. Her hips moved faster up and down. Her hard nipples brushed his chest.
A jolt when through Per’s belly when he thought of Ellen. His eyes opened with shock and he tried to push the thought away. This was not the right moment, not the right place to think of her. But he saw her legs clearly, a few shades lighter than Åsa’s, kicking when he spread them. He turned his head and made Åsa face him. He looked into her eyes and whispered her name, repeated her name as to remind himself who she was. His hands cupped her breasts again; they were bigger than Ellen’s. What size would Ellen be? Her breasts and nipples were smaller and firmer… Geez, Gessle, concentrate!! His hand went down between Åsa’s legs again, he quickly felt her up.
“Oh yes… yes please… oh…”
Her ass was smaller too, and her skin more elastic. Per tried to push the thought away and got frustrated. Åsa came again, quivering and whispering his name… the opposite happened to Per… his desire faded away and he softened, slipped out of her. Åsa didn’t say anything. She laid her head on his chest and lay still.
“Hey you… what happened?” she asked after a while. Per sighed. He was angry and a little ashamed.
“I’m sorry honey… it must be the alcohol…”
“Is it?” she looked at him seriously. He shrugged.
“Mmm… but you did so good…” she whispered with a horny chuckle. Per grinned.
“Thanks for the compliments, dear. Now, let’s go to bed.”
“No, I can’t stay…” she said as she got off his lap. She started to dress.
“What? You won’t sleep here?”
“The babysitter is waiting. I don’t want Gabriel to wake up without me. And besides, I think it’s better if I just go home. Ok?”
Per called her a taxi and they said goodbye with a kiss and a hug. He went to bed right away but was wide awake.
Ellen wasn’t sleeping either. She sat in bed with a light on, reading a book. Some scary thriller in English and quite difficult. She kept a dictionary with her just in case. She was really into it, maybe even more into the style and way the story was build than the actual story itself. She had started reading early in the evening and hours passed as the mystery unravelled… it was almost half past three when she finished it. She lay down and thought about the story for a while. It made her miss writing, the magic of creating a story, writing down the images that she saw so clearly. The characters and situations that had already become familiar, almost became real when she wrote them down. As if she had lived them herself. Of course that thought led to Per again, as did every thought she had lately. He was probably asleep right now.
But he wasn’t and Ellen found out about that a couple of days later. Another letter arrived. He got up in the middle of the night to write her again. He was not used to writing such long letters. He had to start over and think long about every sentence, and hi hand started to cramp already after a half page. But he continued, managed to put his thoughts to words.
* * *
Ellen had started working again and came home Friday night around six. Leila was waiting for her at the door with bags of groceries and a movie; they had planned a lazy evening in front of the TV. Leila picked up the mail when Ellen let her in. She gave her the letter without any comment, just kept talking about her day at work while walking to the kitchen. There she started to unpack the groceries.
“Shall we start dinner right away?” Ellen asked when she entered the kitchen too.
“Yep! I’ll cut the chicken, if you start with boiling water for the rice?”
They prepared dinner together and both thought of things to say. Leila talked about her other plans for the weekend and Ellen listened. Then it was silent for a moment, until Leila spoke.
“Ellie, I know who sent that letter, you know.”
“Yes, I know…”
“And there is something I have to tell you.” Leila said. Ellen looked up from what she was doing.
“You know, we are planning another trip to Sweden.” Leila continued. She went on chopping vegetables and didn’t look up.
“You and Eric?”
“Yes. And Nadine and Richard, and Kelly…” Leila summed up a few other names.
“We got tickets to TV 4’s Christmas show, so we are celebrating Christmas and New Year in Gothenburg and maybe Stockholm.” She explained. Ellen put the rice in hot water and pretended to be very busy with that.
“I thought you should know.” Leila had finished chopping and started to bake the chicken which had been lying in a sauce of oil and different herbs for a while.
“Yeah. Sounds cool! I’m spending Christmas at my parents place.”
Ellen went to the living room and set the table. So all her friends went to Sweden again, and they were going to see Roxette perform. And they wouldn’t spend New Year together, like they did in the past few years.
“They asked me to invite you.” Leila said when they were sitting at the table, simple but delicious food around them. Ellen stared into her friend’s eyes for a moment.
“Are you asking me to do you and the others a favour?” She said. Leila shook her head.
“I don’t mean the others. Dimberg mentioned your name.”
“How would she know my name?” Ellen said and chewed on some rice and chicken without really tasting it. Leila shrugged.
“I guess she knows you used to do stuff for the Fanclub, I don’t know. But she’s sending tickets and she emailed me to let me know who were invited. We are on the guest list.”
“You’re kidding!” Ellen said and forced herself to smile. “That’s so cool!”
“So I won’t go, of course.”
“Leila! Of course I can’t go. With my luck, I would surely run into him.”
“You should. Maybe you can even talk with him.”
“I don’t think so.” Ellen said and shook her head.
“But what about the letter then? Have you written him again? Are you pen pals now?” Leila said. She was trying to sound harsh but both girls had t laugh. Ellen sighed, put her fork down and sipped some water. She told Leila that she never wrote Per again after that evening she’d been in his garden. And after what happened in Gothenburg, she was sure it was better if she would never see him again… she kind of forgot that she was talking to Leila. It felt more like talking to herself, or her diary. Saying things out loud can sometimes be a little confronting. Leila didn’t know what happened in Gothenburg but she didn’t need a lot of words to understand.
“You slept with him…” she stated with a whisper. Ellen turned red and looked away.
“Well, not exactly… it was more… uhm…”
“Ellie! You had sex with Per! Fuck!”
“Yeah that sounds more like it. So do you understand now that I don’t want to go to TV 4’s stupid Christmas show? And that I don’t give a shit about Dimberg knowing my name?” Ellen sounded angry. Leila’s face was white as a sheet and she pushed her plate away.
“For God’s sake. What the hell were you thinking? The man is married!”
“Oh you think I planned it that way? You think I went to his hotel to get laid?!” Ellen shouted. Leila just looked at her.
“Yeah, Leila, that’s exactly the kind of slut I am. Right?”
Ellen got up and started to clear the table. Dinner was finished. She threw everything away and did the dishes right away, to have something to do. Leila sat in the living room and listened to the clattering of plates and glasses. She quickly smoked a cigarette and then joined Ellen in the kitchen. They finished the dishes in silence, cleaned up the kitchen together.
“I’ll be right back.” Ellen said and went upstairs with Per’s letter. She sat cross legged in the middle of her bed, her back resting against the pillows. Her throat was thick, tears of frustration stinging behind her eyes.
“Why are you doing this to me…” she whispered quietly, stroking his handwriting on the envelope.
Leila made tea and put on the television. Ellen came down less than half an hour later. She had changed into some comfortable track pants and a big sweater and sat down on the couch.
“You want some tea?” Leila asked. Ellen nodded. They watched some silly show and drank tea, silent for a moment. Then Ellen suddenly snuggled up to Leila on the couch.
“I hate men.” She whispered. Leila sighed and wrapped an arm around her.
* * *
Roxette’s new single was launched in the second week of December. Both Per and Marie were a little nervous; this was the first thing they released in quite a while and they had no idea what to expect… They were also nervous in different ways. Marie was hoping for positive response from the fans, and of course the critics. Even though that was a little too much probably. Her nerves were not quite the same as before. Singing this song felt weird, different from other songs Per had written for her. It didn’t feel right, he should have sung it. On the other hand, she knew he couldn’t. She heard on the demo that his voice just didn’t have the range, or the emotion to deliver the lyrics they way they should… the lyrics. They made her blush, the first time she sung them. As if she was interfering in something… something that was none of her business… Per’s nerves were different. He didn’t really expect the critics to be positive; he knew the fans would be. A romantic, dramatic power-ballad sung by Marie… there were pianos and a guitar-solo. It would work out fine, he was sure. He just couldn’t stop thinking; what would she think… what would she think when she heard the song…
It took a while before the newspapers picked up the news about Per and Åsa’s split. Everything was very well hidden and they didn’t tell anyone. Per was too surprised and shocked to speak, Åsa very self-controlled. Of course they started digging when the promo-singles came in, and very soon Aftonbladet’s front page read; “Gessle-marriage to an end – Per writes love-song”.
* * *
A cold, Saturday morning on the airport. Everybody was half-awake but very energetic. Going on vacation can get anyone up and active early in the morning! Ellen and Leila were waiting in line for tea after their bags were checked in. Some of the guys were practising their Swedish from a small book and their friend Nadine tried to take a nap in one of the uncomfortable chairs beside the coffee-corner.
Ellen hopped from one foot to the other. Leila sighed.
“If you have to pee, do it now ok?”
“No, no. I’m ok.”
“What is that dance about then?”
“Haha… oh nothing. I can’t stand still.” She smiled brightly at Leila, who wasn’t too sure what to think.
“I’m not sure if you can meet him, I told you that already.”
“I know, I know. That’s not the point. Sweden, that’s the point.”
Yes, She decided to join her friends on their Christmas trip after all… she couldn’t help herself, she had to go. There was nothing keeping her home, and there was nothing to loose…
Richard joined them in line. He laid an arm around both their shoulders and starting humming a tune, then sang some words. Leila joined him and they quietly sang together. Ellen looked at them, laughing.
“You don’t know the lyrics yet?” Richard asked Ellen. She shook her head.
“The lyrics to what?”
“Oh dear! Where the hell have you been!” Richard cried out, semi-dramatic.
“That’s The New Single, darling.” he told her with a theatrical bow.
“Huh? They have a new single?” she replied, looking from Richard to Leila and back. Leila cleared her throat.
“Uhm… yeah, was released last week… and uhm… I didn’t know if you, ehhh…”
“Of course I want to hear it! Do you have it Richard?” she asked him. She looked happy, smiled and was curious. Leila was worried… oh-oh…
It wasn’t until on the plane, that Richard passed Ellen his MP3-player. She sat back with her eyes closed and listened. It took about half a minute until her eyes opened again and she sat upright in her chair. Her hear was racing and her throat dry. Marie’s voice was incredibly good, touched her very deep… singing the words he had written to her. Singing the things she had wondered in Gothenburg. Singing ‘but honey, he wants to make love to you, go after him, make him yours, or shall I tell him to…’
Ellen drank some water to get rid of the lump in her throat.
* * *
Marie was walking around backstage, meeting some famous friends on the way to her dressing room. She turned around when her name was being called. Per was walking fast through the all to get to her.
“Hi.” he said, almost panting.
“Can I talk to you for a moment?”
“Sure…” she replied and walked with him to her dressing room. They sat down and Per got a bottle of water from the small fridge on the table.
“She’s here.” he stated with a dramatic face. Marie’s face became a question mark.
“The girl!” he said, waving his hands. Marie sighed and shook her head for a moment, then looked back up at him.
“Per. Calm down, don’t stress your self just before this performance ok? What girl are you talking about?” Good, he thought, she was being the sensible one today.
“Ellen. The girl I wrote ‘Maybe’ about. I saw her name on the guest list.” he said softly and looked expectantly, as if Marie would provide the answers to all his questions. Marie suddenly understood and her face softened.
“Oh? Did you invite her?”
“No! No, well, not really… I-I… well I said I could get her in if she wanted to come over, but she never responded to that, so…”
“Wait. Are you in contact with this girl?”
“Not really. I wrote her a letter.”
“No, a letter.”
“And you asked her to…” Marie said breathlessly, but didn’t finish her sentence. She was amazed with Per’s strange behaviour. There was nothing more unlike him than to get in touch with fans…
“It wasn’t exactly like that. I was writing her a letter and I mentioned this day, this thing, here. But that’s not really the point. I know how she got in, she doesn’t need me for that.”
* * *
Ellen and Leila were pushing themselves through the crowd when they came back from the toilets. The rest of their happy little group were sitting down by the fence. They had conquered enough space for all of them to be either front or second row. Ellen’s nerves had calmed down a bit. She had taken an aspirin against the throbbing headache that had annoyed her since she got off the plane.
* * *
Per had a headache too. He drank a glass of champagne in the backstage cafeteria just before entering the stage. It didn’t help for his head ache but he felt less tense, if only the idea of drinking alcohol. Marie sang one line of the new single while walking through the empty, quiet hall in the direction of the stage. The show was already half on it’s way and they saw the first half of it from a special part of the venue, where all celebrities sat.
Their band was already on stage when Per and Marie climbed on. Per went first, guitar over one shoulder, other hand ready to wave. Marie patted his ass shortly and winked when he looked back. He entered the stage with a wide smile and waved his arm to the screaming audience. Clarence started the piano-intro even before Per reached his mic. Everything was timed perfectly. Marie had insisted on playing live, even though Per wasn’t sure about it. So when it was her turn, her amazing voice seemed to shock the whole arena… she started singing loud but not too loud, with feeling but not yet dramatic. She simply told the story.
Leila and Ellen stood in the middle of all the craziness. The audience was wild and hyped and boozed, while they tried to keep steady. It worked quite well, as they were in the middle of the group. Four people stood in the front, four on second row. Ellen was behind Leila because she was taller. She had wrapped her arms around her friend and her cheek was resting on her shoulder.
“I need some support.” Ellen had said when Per was about to enter the stage. Leila nodded and both girls held each other as tight as possible…
Ellen tried not to look at him for too long. She tried not to stare. She was not ashamed of staring at Marie, though. Marie was her radiant, beautiful self tonight. It had been ages since Ellen had seen her and she was very impressed. They both leaned over the fence to follow Marie when she entered the catwalk on the side of the stage. As they were in the middle, Marie was soon out of sight. They didn’t want to turn around in this crowd, so now they were facing the stage with just Per and the band on it. Clarence was busy doing his piano-solo, Per was barely moving. He stood in front of his mic, legs widely spread, and one heel going up and down on the music and from time to time he opened his mouth to back Marie up. He looked down when he wasn’t singing. Some girls beside Ellen and Leila’s group were totally not satisfied. They wanted attention, NOW!!!
“Peeeeeeeeeer!!” one of the girls screamed in between the chaos that was already happening. Ellen and Leila looked at them and laughed, then their eyes went to the stage to watch Per’s reaction. He was looking at Ellen.
He knew she wasn’t the one who had screamed his name, but she was the first thing he saw when he looked at the front rows. His heart jumped. He hadn’t expected her in front row… that was… mighty close. He looked at her, while she looked some other way and then she turned around and their eyes instantly met.
Time seemed to slow down a little bit. Per had to concentrate extra hard on his guitar part, even though he was thoroughly supported by Jonas. Ellen kept his gaze and didn’t let go. She turned her head a little, hugging her friend a little closer when they were being pushed from the back.
Leila whispered something.
“Yes…” Ellen breathed in reply. Oh hell yes, he was looking. Not just looking, he was staring. He kept staring. She wondered how long he would keep that up… Ellen wasn’t nervous at all. She felt energy flowing through her, and a dozen naughty thoughts came into her mind. She kept staring back and bit her lower lip, moving her head slightly down so she had to cast her eyes up to see him.
Per had to wet his lips with his tongue before he started singing. His voice was ok, thank God. He tried to ignore Ellen and looked right in front of him, over the audience, into the darkness. The trick was to see darkness rather than people and it usually worked. But this time, Per’s eyes were drawn back down to the audience in front row… Ellen licked her lips quickly. Her mouth was dry and her body hot. Per saw it and had trouble not to moan out loud. His logical thoughts before the show, telling him to approach her calmly and with apologies on his mind, vanished completely…
Marie came back onto the stage to lean against Per while singing the last sentences of the song. She leaned her back against his arm and felt him almost jump, invisible for the audience. She glanced at him while singing and he looked back, smiling sheepishly in apology.
* * *
Drinks, press, celebrities and more press. Leila and Ellen decided to make good use of their status; with your name on the guest list, you can always try to join the backstage after parties…
They found Dimberg quickly, who shook hands with them, thanked them for coming and introduced them to some interesting people.
“Per and Marie are currently busy with the press, over there.” Dimberg explained. ‘Over there’ was a corner of the room where a group of photographers and journalists were bent over a table to make pictures of Per and Marie in front of a commercial wall (the names of the sponsors were on there). They smiled, changed poses, answered questions. Ellen and Leila watched with some distance, giggling over their poses and clothing and especially the stupid questions that were being asked. It felt like old times for Ellen…
Per’s eyes fell on her totally unexpectedly. Leila and Ellen were leaning against a standing table, both holding a glass of champagne. His eyes wandered over her hips, her perfect fitting jeans and the rounding of her ass just showing a little. Further up, he spotted a small piece of belly… a white t-shirt peeking from under a dark red blouse… the curve of her breasts made him stop, clear his throat and look into another camera…
The girls hung around for a while, not particularly interesting in anything but watching Per and Marie. From a distance, still. Ellen had refused to go and meet them, so Leila decided not to even ask. Dimberg had already told her it would be far too busy for an interview. She could set up a meeting, in between everything, just a casual talk with a drink. But what the hell should they talk about then?! So better safe than sorry, Leila thought. She didn’t press Ellen into anything and had the opportunity to spy on P&M a little…
And Per was spying too. After all the pictures and questions, Per and Marie enjoyed a drink with their band and EMI-people. Per was restless, looking around the room for Ellen’s red blouse all the time. He spotted her in a quiet corner, alone, about twenty meters away from him. She looked bored. The thought crossed his mind… to go to her… to just talk with her… a bulge rose in his pants when his mind took him on another trip.
When he looked again, Ellen had moved. She was now sitting on a couch with Leila and some guy, who looked Swedish and obviously drunk. As if she had been waiting for it, she looked back at him. She smiled shyly. Per smiled back and raised his glass in a toast, she returned the gesture. She kept looking at him though, shifting in her seat. Her cheeks seemed to flush red a little, just like that, and she moved some hair away from her face… Per’s eyes went down to her chest, watching her breasts rise and fall with her breathing.
He didn’t see her alone anymore; she was with Leila the whole time. Per and Marie left about half an hour later. They went to their dressing rooms to get rid of the layers of make up and change their stage-clothes. A car was waiting for them to take them to their hotel, so there was not much time. Per quickly jumped into the shower in his room.
He was grumpy and frustrated, and hard. He touched his hard part, biting his lip and longing… seconds later, there was a knock on the door.
“Per! Five minutes!” yelled Dimberg. Per almost jumped. He cursed and turned his face to the water. He slowly turned the handle, letting the water get colder and colder… until it was almost completely cold. Then he got out, quickly dried him self and got dressed.
* * *
Ellen and her friends left Gothenburg two days later and went to Stockholm, where they would spend the rest of their vacation. Christmas was in two days and Stockholm was hidden under a thick, white, romantic blanket of snow. Their hotel was gorgeous, the weather was cold but beautiful, and all were in a great mood. They went out in the city the same evening. The atmosphere was lovely and Ellen was happy that she’d joined them.
That night at the bar, around half past one, her mobile started ringing inside her purse. Who would call her today, at this hour? Everybody knew she was in Sweden… she quickly picked up.
“Met Ellen!” she had to raise her voice above the loud music in the pub.
“Haaaallo!!” she said again when she didn’t hear anything.
“Eeeeh, Ellen, hi! It’s Per… sorry to call you so late…”
Ellen gasped and needed a moment to catch her breath.
“Oh! Hi… I uhmmm… just a minute, ok? Hold on!”
The loud, pounding music that Per heard in the background became less as Ellen moved away from the dance floor and sat down in a corner of the room.
“Per? Can you hear me?”
“Ok. I am in a pub, sorry about the noise…”
“No problem! I-I… didn’t expect you to pick up… at this hour…”
“Well maybe I shouldn’t have. I’ve had a few drinks you see.”
“Oh, then we are in the same boat. I was planning to leave a message.”
Both were silent for a while, thinking what to say.
“How did you get my number?” Ellen suddenly wondered.
“Eh… does it matter?”
“I guess not… so… is there something you want to talk about?”
“Yeah… well, uhm, I was just thinking and… I thought, ehm, I was wondering if I could see you.” Per stumbled. He cursed himself silently for acting like a fool. Ellen replied but he couldn’t hear her.
“Per? Hang on!”
There was a lot of background noise and cracking when Per heard Ellen probably leave the bar and go outside. She had to get her jacket first and then walked through groups of people, and he heard her talking to them. In Swedish.
“Ok, I’m back. Sorry but I had to get out of there!”
“I didn’t know you speak Swedish.” Per said, in Swedish.
“I don’t… what you heard were about the three words I know, hihi…” Ellen replied in English.
“But you understand what I’m saying now, right?”
“Uhmmm… yes, I do. But you’d better speak English because… well that’s better.” She said with a sigh.
“Why? You don’t like to hear it?” Per replied, continuing to speak Swedish.
“Oh I do… and that’s why you shouldn’t…”
“I miss you.”
“I really do.”
“Can you speak English now? This is confusing.”
“Ok. Why can’t I miss you?”
“Well, because… because I was never with you, so I didn’t leave either… ehm…” she stumbled over the words and Per chuckled. He re-found his self-confidence, hearing she had lost hers a little.
“I want to see you. Can we meet?”
“No… I can’t.” he heard hesitation in her voice when she said that so he kept silent.
“Per… you know this doesn’t make sense.”
“I know what I feel.”
“Don’t start that… I don’t want to-”
“Ellie, tell me then. Tell me that you don’t want me.”
“So?” he asked. Ellen sighed and moaned with frustration, hopping from one foot to the other on the side walk, just outside the bar.
“I have been miserable lately.” She finally said.
“It’s not your fault.” She whispered.
“I want you here, with me. So I can kiss you, and touch you.” his low voice whispered into the phone. Ellen’s knees got weak and she leaned against the wall.
“Please stop. I’m drunk, I can’t handle this.”
“I want you.” He kept on, in Swedish now.
He was silent.
“I get wet when you speak Swedish.” Ellen spoke very softly, her mouth close to the phone and her eyes tightly shut. She bit her lip and her cheeks were bright red.
“Come to my house.”
“I don’t know…”
Ellen saw her friends come outside; the bar was closing.
“I have to go now, can I call you back?” she said hastily.
“No! Just come over. I need you.”
“I can’t. I… I’ll think about it. Bye!” she said and hung up before Leila and the others found her.
Ellen had been walking through town. Leila was upset and worried when she’d told her she was going to take a walk, by herself. It had taken a few minutes to make Leila believe she was going to be alright, nothing would happen. She just needed a moment alone and would see her at the hotel later. So now she was walking through the city. It was late and cold and the streets were full of people on their way home from the pub. Ellen knew where she was walking to, but she hadn’t decided yet. When she came to Per’s street, she walked along the water for a while and watched the lights of the boats. Her body and mind were screaming two different things and she had no idea what to choose. Either way seemed wrong.
Her phone had kept silent all the time, he hadn’t called her back. What was he thinking? Would he be sitting up, waiting? Ellen looked at his building, at the top floor. It looked dark but it wasn’t easy to see anything from the ground.
Per startled when he heard a sound. His eyes flew open and he listened with a pounding heart. Was that the doorbell? He sat up in bed, listening. Silence. He got out of bed and walked to the front door, picked up the receiver of the intercom.
It was her. She came after all. He buzzed her in and leaned against the door for a few minutes, until a soft knock sounded. She leaned against the door frame and looked up at him.
Ellen looked at Per’s robe and pyjama pants.
“Did I wake you?”
“Yes, I had just gone to bed.”
“Sorry. I… I don’t know what I’m doing here, but…”
Per put a finger on his lips and then pulled her into a hug. Ellen shivered when his warm, sleepy body enveloped her, crashing with the cold coming from her. Her head lay against his chest and she heard his heart, beating fast, almost racing. She wasn’t the only one being nervous. He kissed her cool, damp hair and she looked up into his eyes. Then he kissed her mouth, softly, slowly opening her lips with his tongue. His breathing became shallow and Ellen felt the cold leave her quickly.
“I thought of you all the time… I dreamed of you…” Per whispered in Swedish. His voice was low and she tasted a weird combination of wine and toothpaste.
“How…” she stumbled, but Per said “Shush…” and kissed her again. He carefully pushed her coat over her shoulders and grabbed the shawl hanging around her neck. He took it in both hands and like that, he pulled her with him. Through the hall, up some small steps, into the bedroom. Ellen finally wasn’t shaking anymore when he let go of her there. He took off the robe and lay down on his bed, only wearing the pyjama pants. He watched how she stood beside the bed, not moving, just looking at him. Alarm bells sounded in her head but she ignored them. She ignored all warnings and voices in her head and started to undress. Her clothes hit the floor one by one; the shawl, her vest, then her shoes and socks. She wriggled out of her jeans, Per’s hungry eyes following every move. Her sexy, white top went over her head and her bra and panties too. Per swallowed hard and stared at her, how she climbed onto the bed and lay beside him. He stroked her face with his hand.
“You are so beautiful…” he whispered. His hand went from her face to her shoulder, along her side which he tickled softly with the tips of his fingers. Then he grabbed her ass, suddenly with more urgency. He wrapped a leg around her hip and pulled her against him so that her soft breasts touched his chest. Ellen let out an uncontrolled moan when he left her mouth to pop little wet kisses on her throat. One of her hands sneaked around his waist and she moved her body even closer, as if she was to crawl into him. He had one of her breasts cupped in his hand.
“When I saw you at the party, I wanted to talk to you. After a while, I could only think of touching… this…” he hissed, and licked her nipple. Ellen giggled and watched how he licked and sucked and nibbled on her breast.
The little voice inside Ellen’s head seemed to have given up. She only felt her desire burn, her lust, her need to be touched by this man…
Per rolled on top of her and gave her a slow kiss which seemed to last ages. Too long, in her opinion. She started to push away his pants and underwear, as far down his legs as she could reach.
“Are you in a hurry?” Per asked with a smile. Ellen nodded.
“Because… hmm…” she bit her lip and her cheeks got red. Per looked at her, waiting for her to answer, while he kicked his pants off.
“Because I want you to… be inside me.” She whispered. Per settled his hips between her thighs and Ellen took a deep breath… and then he spoke again.
“I can’t believe you are not angry with me.” He said softly, stroking her hair.
“For God’s sake Per…” she sighed and rolled her eyes.
“I thought all men preferred to skip the foreplay and the talking.” Ellen said thoughtfully. Per smiled.
“Some things change when one gets older…” he said, trying to look mysterious. Ellen giggled in reply and shook her head.
“So are we gonna talk or…” she said. Per raised one eyebrow. He moved his hips and Ellen felt his hard manhood push into her a little.
“I think I prefer this instead of talking… for now…” his low, horny voice whispered.
“Good… very good…”
Per thrust into her carefully, his warm body close to hers. Ellen wrapped her legs around him and moved her hips in his rhythm.
“Oh damn…” Per hissed out of breath and thrust a little faster. Ellen moaned and pulled his face down to kiss him.
“Mmmm… is it nice…” she whispered so softly he could barely hear her. He saw her cheeks flushed red and she bit her lip. She was a little held back when it came to dirty talk. Very different from the afternoon in the hotel room, he suddenly thought.
“Oh you feel so good honey… so good… so wet…” he whispered in her ear. Her mouth opened and she panted faster when he increased the rhythm.
“Ellen… Ellen…” He panted her name.
“Go on… mmm”
“So good… your body feels so… good… Ah!”
Per pushed faster and faster into her now, his dark eyes piercing down into hers.
“Mmmm! Wait… Per…” she said, placing a hand on his chest.
“What…?” he asked but Ellen already showed him. She grabbed his waist and pulled him to one side. They rolled over and now Ellen was on top. She sat up on him and her hands caressed his chest.
Per held her hips as Ellen sank down onto his erection, which caused a little yelp from her. She bent forward and lay on him while his hands moved over her back, down to her ass. She gave him a deep, wild and hot kiss and then looked at him for a moment, her breath coming out in short little puffs.
“You know something, Per Gessle…”
“What?” he panted.
“You are the sexiest man I’ve ever met.” She said and kissed him again. Per held her against him and felt a stab in his heart. He saw something in her eyes, something very alive and real, things that he read as love.
Ellen raised and sat up on him. She moved slowly, looking into his eyes the whole time. Per’s hands caressed her body and he let a few fingers wander off between her legs. He saw her gasp when he touched her there. She moved her body onto him more urgently and held on to the bed. Per heard a few soft, low moans and she threw her head back, when her climax shivered through her body.
Ellen caught her breath and looked into Per’s eyes again, stretching her body out over his.
“Oooh…” she sighed with her mouth against his throat. Per was now tensed to the max. Her movements on him and watching her when she came… this was more than he could take. He turned them around again and lay on top of her. His hips moved back and forth smoothly and he held her tight. Ellen looked at him. She bit her lower lip, and one hand clutched his hair. Her hips moved in tune with his. Per’s thrusts became harder, faster and more urgent. Ellen panted with her mouth open and moaned, her eyes opening and closing as she tried to keep the eye contact. He felt her shiver under him, her belly trembled and contractions inside her made him go over the edge… he held onto her strongly, his face buried in her neck, and he growled loudly when he poured into her.
A couple of years later
Per was wandering through Stockholm’s NK with his girlfriend Britt. He had bought some CD’s and then Britt wanted to check out the books. He walked around the book store a little bit, thinking it would in fact be nice if he read a book again. Things were hectic and busy at the moment and would only become worse when his new album was coming out.
As he wandered around thinking, something drew his attention from the corner of his eye… It was a cardboard commercial hanging above one of the tables in the store. There was a table with the latest releases and recommendations. Per stared at the cardboard, which portrayed the front cover of a book. The book was called ‘The Word’ and the Swedish translation has just come out. The cover showed an almost naked, female body. Her head was turned away on the quite artistic, dramatised picture. Per recognised the body in a split second. Ellen. It was Ellen’s body. The curves of her hips, her firm breasts and… it had to be her. He was in shock. He joined Britt who stood at the table, reading the backside of a book. Per looked down at what she was reading and saw the author’s picture on the back cover of the book. Ellen. Sitting on a park bench with her legs crossed, wearing a big green winter jacket, gloves and a huge bright smile. His heart jumped…
At home, while Britt was making tea, Per flipped through the pages without really seeing the letters. The inside of the front cover has another picture of Ellen, a close-up and a little bit bigger. The text under it explains who she is and what she said about the book. Per didn’t recognise her last name but this is definitely her… ‘Ellen Koenraat is one of the youngest authors to have such a successful debut in this difficult literal genre. She lives in Amsterdam with her three-year-old daughter Carrie. The birth of her daughter was the sign for her to start writing. “I will admit that this book holds some autobiographic elements. Fantasy and reality can sometimes meet each other halfway, and then either adapt to one another or collide. When reality killed my fantasy, words and paper were there to soothe me. That’s how this book came to.”’
Per sat in his chair, gasping, breathless, and startled when Britt entered the room with tea.
“And?” Britt said.
“The book! What do you think?”
“Oh… Uuuh yeah sounds ok I guess.”
“Are you all right?” she asked him. Per nodded but his eyes avoided hers. He put the book on the table and took his teacup. Britt picked up the book and read the information about the author.
“Mmm she sounds very interesting, I can’t wait to start reading! First I have to finish that Nicci French, it’s taking me ages… She looks smart, don’t you think?” Britt babbled on and Per nodded a little bit and smiled. His mind was completely off to somewhere else. His mind was with Ellen and the last time they met…
He remembered suddenly waking up from something, not knowing what it was. He looked around the room; it was still dark outside. His alarm clock told him it was only a little after seven. There were noises in the living room and Per stretched out in bed with a smile when he thought of Ellen. He sighed deeply. Then his content rest was interrupted by another sound; the front door closed.
It took him a few seconds to realise that he had woken up when she switched off the light in the bedroom. And now she had left. He lay very still, listening to the silence, fighting the urge to run after her. He got up when it became lighter outside, and then he also discovered the note on the night stand. “You,” she had written in Swedish, “thanks for everything. I will never forget it. Love you, Ellen.”
Between 4 and 5 in the morning… Or is it late at night? That seems to be the most quiet, peaceful moment of the 24 hours a day has. Everybody has gone to bed and the city is asleep. Even Mother Nature seems to have put everything on hold. There wasn’t even a breeze through Stockholm’s silent streets, and the moon was hidden by thick clouds, allowing darkness to swallow everything up.
A lonely taxi slowly drove through the streets of one of the city’s suburbs. It pulled up in front of a big building. All windows were dark and everything was silent; everybody was asleep. A big, dimmed-lighted clock in the hall gave the time: ten past four.
Ellen lay in bed, alone. She had sunk away deep in dreamless sleep as soon as her head hit the pillow. The wine had made her voice slurring, eyes twinkly and her body sleepy. She snored lightly. She didn’t hear the front door of the huge, luxurious apartment open and close. She stirred, mumbled and her legs moved under the thin, silk sheets. He stood in the doorway of her bedroom and his loud, quick heartbeat was deafening.
It took a moment before his eyes adjusted to the dark. He saw her form on the bed, but didn’t see her face. She lay stretched out on her side, her face buried in the pillow that she hugged with both arms. The sheets were twisted around her legs, leaving her back bare. He took a step into the room and his heart skipped several beats when she moved and turned around.
He knelled on the side of the bed the furthest away from her. She had her face turned to the other side. Slowly, carefully, he came closer. The bed cracked in the middle and he froze, looking at her. She didn’t move.
When he lay down, he could smell her scent on the sheets. Her feminine perfume, mixed with her body scent and the smell of freshly washed hair. He saw her hair was still damp from the shower she took before she went to bed.
Ellen coughed. She shouldn’t have started smoking again, her first thought was. Shit, now I’m awake. She sighed and stretched her body, her arms above her head. When her arms came back down, her right arm bumped into something behind her.
She gasped and her heart jumped up so hard it hurt. Oh my god. There was someone in her bed…
He had felt the bump and heard her gasp. He saw how she carefully pulled the thin sheets up over her bare breasts. He was close enough to feel her warmth. She felt his breath in her neck and shivered.
“Jerry?” she whispered.
“Jerry, ben jij dat? Ik heb je godverdomme geen sleutel gegeven om…” her Dutch ramblings stalled. He had put a hand on her belly and came closer. His breath was hot on her shoulder and he bent down to kiss her naked skin. When she was about to turn around, his free hand flew to her face and he covered her eyes.
“Fuck…” she cursed under her breath, more to herself than to him.
“You’re not Jerry, are you?” she said in English. Her voice was thick with sleep and trembling with fear. He felt himself growing harder. He kissed her neck. His lips were soft, warm and wet and another shiver went through Ellen. She was getting more sober by the second.
His lips touched her neck.
“I-I… eehm,” Ellen stumbled. He licked behind her ear.
“Who are you?” she whispered. She started to move her body so he tightened his grip. One hand was placed over her eyes and still closing them very tightly. The other lay on her belly and he pulled her closer to him. He guessed she wasn’t wearing anything beside that silk sheet. The nights were warm enough to sleep naked. He remembered suddenly that she once wrote him that she usually slept naked…
“Please…” she gasped. “I-I… I have m-money…” she was unable to breathe and he felt her heart pound when his hand slid up to her breasts. He pushed his hips into her ass. Ellen bit her lip when she felt how rock hard he was inside his jeans.
A thumb brushed her nipple through the sheets. She had goose bumps everywhere and her nipples were hard and big. She twisted and tried to get away from his touch.
“No… noooo….” she whispered. He cupped her breast with his hand and massaged it. Ellen kicked her legs against his. As a reaction, he wrapped on of his legs around her and lay half on top of her.
“Oh God no…” Ellen mumbled just before his lips touched hers. He kissed her softly, tenderly. His shaking right hand was pulling away the sheets and he felt her naked body twist and turn under him. Her mouth was hot but reluctant. She was fighting to keep her lips together. His hand went to her side. He searched, and squeezed hard…
“Ah!” Ellen gave a scream and with that, he pushed his tongue in her mouth. She tried to fight him, tried to push him away with her knees, but it only made him more determined to touch her everywhere. Somewhere in the back of her mind, a little voice said; ‘he knew where to tickle you…’
A low growl escaped from his throat when their tongues met and he kissed her wildly, passionately, demanding and fast.
Very suddenly he stopped and let go, leaving her with her mouth open. He looked down; her hands had clutched his shirt and she’d pulled him to her.
“Per…” she breathed. He panted and looked at her breasts, going up and down under her fast breath.
“Per… Per it’s you… I know it. Let me look at you.” she pulled at his hand and removed it. Her eyes flew open and she stared at him in the dark. She only saw the glimmering of his eyes but she already knew it was him.
Her hands went to his waist and she fumbled with his jeans until they were open, and pushed them down with his underwear. She spread her legs and pulled him to her. Per gasped when he felt her warm thighs against his.
“Oh darling…” he mumbled in her ear.
“Mmmmm…” she moaned and Per pushed inside her quick and hard. He started moving in and out of her fast, impossible to take it slow. Ellen moaned loudly, wrapping her legs around him.
“Yes… yes…” she breathed into his mouth. He kissed her again, her mouth now already open to receive him. She moved her hips upwards in his rhythm.
“OH! Oh yes… fuck me… aaah…” Ellen hissed. She bit his lip when his mouth came down to hers again.
“Geez… you’re so hot…” Per puffed. Ellen giggled and licked his lips.
“I… ah… I have wanted this… for so… mmmm long…” she stammered.
Per let go and slipped out of her, pushing her on her side. He lay behind her and grabbed her hip, but Ellen had other plans.
“Wait… undress…” she panted and turned to him. She looked at his face and touched his cheek softly with her hand. Her eyes were shining. Then she quickly started to open up his shirt, and then removed the rest of his clothes. She crawled all over him, kissing his chest and licking his throat.
“Oh… Ellen…” he whispered. She took his hard part in her hand and squeezed him.
“Mmm… I want to taste you…” she mumbled. And before Per knew it, she had taken him into her mouth.
“OH!” he gasped when she took him deep into her throat. She enjoyed sucking him, feeling how hard he was, and the shivers going through his upper legs excited her even more. Ellen was sitting beside him and Per pulled her ass closer to him. Ellen got the hint and placed her legs on both sides of his face, then pushed her ass backwards. She was now hanging over his face, her breath quickening.
Per couldn’t see anything, as the room was still completely dark. His fingers slid between her ass cheeks and tickled her while travelling down, down, until he reached her wet, hot opening… he pushed one finger in and moved around. She was dripping and clenched his finger. He pulled her hips closer to his face and started licking her outer lips. He came closer and closer to the swollen little knob in the middle, and he felt her sucking him faster and faster. He had trouble not to moan out loud, but he didn’t want to stop what he was doing.
Ellen stopped moving when his tongue reached her clit. He went round and round it in circles and she felt like exploding. She let go of his hard dick and threw her head back.
“Oooooh…. mmmmm….” she moaned.
“You taste so good.” Per stated.
“Go on, go on, please… ohhhhh!” Ellen hissed to him. She moved her hips round and round, following the movements of his tongue. He felt her thighs tremble and knew she wasn’t far from orgasm. Then she moved away from him.
“Oh my god… oh that was good… ooooh…” she mumbled and kissed his face and mouth, licking his wet lips, pushing her tongue inside. In the meantime, she sat on top of him and guided him inside her with one hand.
“What… why did you…” Per stumbled in between kisses.
“I want you inside me when I come… you feel so good, so… hard… and big… mmmmm” she kissed him again. Per giggled. She sure had gotten more verbal over the years…
He grabbed her hips and steadied her in her movements on him. She moved up and down on him with slow, deep strokes, one of her hands between her legs. Within minutes, she started trembling and he felt her contracting inside. She bit her lip and let out very soft, high-pitched moans. She moved faster and faster on him and gasped when Per moved his hips up to meet her rhythm and touch her even deeper. She exploded on him and fell forward over his chest, panting heavily and mumbling some vague things.
“Now come here you…” Per growled in her neck. His voice was low and hoarse. He rolled them over so that she lay on her back again, still trying to catch her breath. He started to kiss and lick her breasts roughly, moulding her flesh with his hands. Ellen giggled when the stubbles on his jaw tickled her soft skin.
“Mmm… are you in a hurry now…?” she asked lazily.
“Yes.” he mumbled, panting. He grabbed her hips with both his hands and turned her around. His hands squeezed her ass for a moment and parted her legs. One arm slid under her belly and he pulled her up to her knees, and then entered her from behind.
Ellen had just started to come down from her cloud of pleasure when Per pushed hard inside her.
“Aah!” she cried out when he pushed deep inside.
“Ohh… Ohh…” Per panted.
“I’m sorry… sorry… does it hurt?” he managed to get out with a thick voice. Ellen shook her head and pushed her hips backwards into him. She was deep, and tight, and wet around him and a few strokes were enough to send him over the top. He panted loudly and whispered her name when he lay down beside her on the bed.
“Oh Ellen… Ellen… mmmmhhh……”
Lyrics to the song he wrote for her:
Maybe you thought he didn’t know
Maybe you thought he was stupid
Maybe you thought, I’d better go
Maybe you didn’t think at all
It’s time to make a choice
It’s time to think about it
He keeps hearing your voice
Because honey, he wants to make love to you
Go after him, make him yours, or shall I tell him to.
Honey, don’t forget him
(Thanks to Emma for writing these lyrics)