Paper & Glue

Rain poured down in showers, trees were bent in the strong wind. Stockholm’s streets were abandoned. Everybody was hiding from the storm. Per sat at the piano in his apartment and sighed. He was fed up with music for today. He had been writing down everything that came to his mind but nothing pleased him. Years and years had he written songs about lost love, breaking up, hurt and so on. Now that his own love had left him, he couldn’t write anything. He wanted to write a song about her. A beautiful song, to tell her goodbye… maybe to make her feel sorry for leaving him… and in a way to take some distance. But nothing came to him really, and the things he did today were all useless efforts.

He walked across the room, picking up some dishes and brought them to the kitchen. There here looked out the window. The weather was terrible, but it comforted him, it completed his mood. The house was silent and when he sat down on the couch, the crack of the leather almost made him jump. God this was not a good shape to be in, he thought.

Somewhere in the back of his mind, a little voice whispered that it was his own fault. He tried to get away from it by turning on the TV but it didn’t help. The little voice was still there, telling him how stupid he’d been, how ignorant and stubborn… it was true though. He knew when he married her, that Åsa wasn’t the love of his life. Yet she was the only woman on earth with whom he really felt safe, where he could be himself. And he could say that he loved her without any hesitation or feelings of guilt; he really did. He loved her from the moment they met until… well until now. He still loved her. She’d always been good to him; their relationship seemed to get only better with the years. Something had changed in him some time ago though. He started struggling with his feelings for that other special person, that other woman in his life he couldn’t live without. She became far more important to him than anything else and he didn’t even notice it! Åsa did… women seem to have sensors for these things, Per thought to himself.

It had been… six months now, since his wife had told him she wanted to end their marriage. She had sat down with him one evening. A normal evening, no particular special day. He hadn’t seen it coming, he didn’t expect anything. She had already spoken to the lawyer when she confronted him with it. She said she felt she couldn’t make him happy anymore. They had grew apart, perhaps they had fallen out of love… it hurt her, she said, but she wanted to leave him. It would be better if they’d both go their own way, choosing the easiest way out. Per did not agree on that; this was by far not the easiest way. He had told her she was wrong, that he still loved her very much and that there wasn’t anyone else in his life as special as her, and that he wasn’t seeing anyone else. She knew he wasn’t sleeping around or having an affair, she had said she wanted to split up to prevent that from happening. “I know you love someone else as well Per, and I am no longer satisfied with being second best.” Her words had scared him. What had he done or said to make her think this way? Had he been this ignorant of his own feelings?

Per switched off the TV. Nothing to watch, nothing to do and no one to talk to. He might as well go to bed. It was still early, even more because it was Friday night and he had the whole weekend to himself. But he was depressed and felt sorry for himself so much that it annoyed him. So he went to bed, staring at the ceiling, listening to the rain while darkness surrounded him inside and out. He was already worrying how to face another day.

On the other side of the city, about half an hour by car away from him, a party had just begun. Marie had just finished making a new CD and she was celebrating it with the people who had worked on it. Micke poured champagne for everyone, while Clarence started to play a funky tune on the piano. Katarina, who had been on tour with Marie as a backing vocalist and now also sang on the new album, started to sing an old soul song. Marie smiled. She was proud of them; all had worked hard the past months to bring this project to a good end. It had been hard; everyone was so busy all the time that things kept being delayed. Now the work was finally done. The songs were mixed, the pictures for the cover were made and it would hit the shops within two weeks.

Marie sat down on the couch, folded her legs under her and gazed across the room. She couldn’t wait to share her work with the rest of the world! Her new songs were different from what she had done before and she was curiously looking forward to the reactions of the fans, a little bit nervous even.

The song ended and all applauded Clarence and Katarina. Clarence joined Marie on the couch.
“You look very content!” he said with a smile, sipping champagne. She nodded.
“I am! Now I can’t wait to see how it works out, what everyone will say… it means much more this time…” they were silent for a moment.
“Have you heard from Per lately?” She asked him, now looking serious. Clarence shook his head. “No, I think it has been weeks since I last saw him… I am getting a bit worried; I really hope he is coping without Åsa.”
Marie sighed. “It is so sad that it had to end like this. I thought they were the most perfect couple I had ever seen! And I think Per thought so, too. And then, out of the blue, she tells him it’s over. I am still curious to find out what went on inside her.”
“Yes, me too. But I guess we won’t be able to ever ask her, the last time I spoke with her was when Per had moved out and I called the wrong house.” Marie’s eyes widened and she looked at him.
“Yes… that was a stupid situation… I knew Per was about to move to Stockholm and he said he’d call me when he got here. I was not hearing from him so I called his place, but incidentally picked out the wrong number from the phonebook in my mobile. When Åsa answered, it was of course too late.”

Marie bit her lip. She felt so sorry for Per, wanted to know how he was doing and if there was anything she could do for him. She had spoken to him only once since the breaking up. He phoned her to inform her about what had happened. The conversation was short and simple; he had left Åsa because she asked him to. The divorce would be taken care of as soon as possible and he wanted to be left alone for a while. No word from him since. She didn’t have the time to worry about him though; lately the new album had taken all her time. A little voice inside her head made her feel guilty for neglecting her friend… after all she was an expert in breaking up so she could imagine what shape he must be in. For a moment the thought of calling him crosses her mind. But it is past eleven already, a bit late to make a phone call…

The party lasted until late, the last guest left after two at night. Marie was very tired and headed for the bedroom right away. Micke followed a few minutes later, when she was already in bed. Her mind had wandered off; thinking about Per and Åsa made her worry about her own marriage as well… Micke was absolutely the best husband she could wish for. He always made her very happy and their personalities match perfectly. Still there was this unsure little child inside Marie, missing something, searching something that wasn’t there. When was the last time Micke made her heart beat faster? She wondered while he got into bed. He shifted over to her side; she knew what would happen now. Micke had a few drinks and now he got a bit horny… she was right, he wrapped an arm around her and started kissing her neck and shoulders.
“Mmm baby you feel so good…” he whispered in her ear. Marie closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
“Sorry honey I am so tired…” an irritated sigh from him and he turned around and switched off the light. She knew he was angry now. It had been a long time since they made love… actually; it had been a long time since there was passion between them at all.

Marie called Per on Sunday afternoon. She thought about him so much since that talk with Clarence, she just had to know how he was doing. The tone of his voice when he answered the phone made her doubt if this was a good idea… he sounded down and cranky.
“So how are you?” She dared to ask.
“Mmm. Ok I guess.” Silence.
“Shall I come over tonight? Make you some nice dinner… talk a bit.” She heard him sigh.
“I am not really in the mood for small talk and such, I’m sorry.” He replied in a flat, almost toneless voice.
“That’s ok; you don’t have to be fun or anything. I just think you need some nice dinner, company and a bottle of wine perhaps…?” She tried again. He couldn’t help but smile. She was adorable, and the thought of her taking care of him was kind of comforting for him.

A few hours later, Per opened the door for her. She brought a big bag of groceries and greeted him with a wide smile and a warm hug.
“Hello…” he said while taking the bag with one hand and wrapping his other arm around her shortly.
“Hi there! Gosh you look tired. Is it very bad?” she said, looking around the apartment. He tidied it because she came, but it is still clear that some kind of process is going on here. Papers are piled up, his handwriting all over it and a guitar stands beside the couch. She followed him to the kitchen. He looked at her with tired eyes.
“Yes, actually it is…” he said slowly. They unpacked the groceries and Per found two bottles of wine; one red and one white.
“Two?! You got plans?” he said with a funny questioning look on his face. She giggled.
“Red for now, white for during dinner!” she answered. Per took two glasses, opened the wine immediately and poured it for them.
“To the future…” Marie said hesitantly. Per nodded, smiling slightly.

Marie made dinner, Per watched her and helped out here and there. It was a simple yet delicious meal; tortilla wraps filled with chicken, sauce and vegetables. Some light salad on the side and the white wine to complete it. They ate at the small dinner table, talking about how things are at the moment. It was mostly Marie talking, which was just fine for Per. He hadn’t expected it, but seeing her and talking about normal things did him good. He almost started to feel normal again. A little uncomfortable feeling crept up to him a few times, as Marie was actually the last person on earth he wanted to meet. Now again he started to wonder about her, about their friendship… it seemed Åsa’s words had made him a bit paranoid. Ever since she said those things, he was questioning himself after meeting any female friend, if there was maybe something special about that person that made Åsa wonder. Marie has always been special, there is always a warm feeling in his stomach when she smiles at him, a special look in his eyes when their eyes meet… but hasn’t it been like that forever? Wasn’t Marie thinking the same about him?

After dinner he asked about her album, it would be very impolite not to. As Per already expected, she brought some music with her in case he would be interested. When the CD started playing, Per is happily surprised. It sounded fresh, new and still completely Marie, and so he told her. She is clearly very proud of this album and her eyes shine when he compliments her. They discussed the songs while drinking the red wine again. Marie felt a lovely fuzzy warm feeling wash over her; the wine did its work very well. One of the last songs on the album is a dramatic ballad. It’s about how it feels to be alone when you’re not used to it, when everything gets dark around you and you didn’t expect it, you don’t know how it happened that you suddenly lost grip on life. They were silent, Per listening to the song very concentrated. He looked away for a moment, Marie too. Then she heard a soft, concealed sob… oh no, is he crying? Marie got up from her chair and sat next to him on the couch. His head was still turned the other way. She laid her hand on his shoulder and squeezed it.
“Sorry.” He whispered with a thick, hoarse voice. She stroked his back.
“You don’t have to be sorry, it’s ok.” She softly said. He turned around and faced her, eyes read and a tear running down his cheek. Marie got so weak for him now; she had never seen him in such despair. She pulled him to her and he reluctantly let her embrace him. After a moment, he finally gives in, really crying and holding on to her tightly. Her hands rubbed his back and she rocked him lightly, consoling him as if he was her son.

It took a few minutes for Per to calm down a bit. His head still rested on her shoulder, her cheek on his hair. Her hand still stroked his back. The CD stopped playing, outside it has stopped raining and they were still sitting in complete silence. Per’s head came up and he looked at her.
“Thank you.” He said it soft and simple. She just smiled and touches his cheek for a moment with her hand. He took her hand in his, keeping it on his cheek, then kissing the palm. Marie’s smile froze on her face. This was no longer feeling as a friendly embrace, the way Per kissed her hand makes her mind wander off to other things… realizing that confused her and she broke the hug slowly but determined.
“Another glass of wine then?” Per noticed the sudden change in her but decided to let it be for the moment. His heart was still pounding fast; the look in her eyes when he kissed her hand scared him to death.
“You sang exactly what I feel right now.” Per said and took the glass of wine from her.
“Actually I wanted to skip that one but I was too late…” she felt a little guilty for making him cry.
“Do you really feel like that now?” he wanted to know.
“What? Like that song? Ouch… well…” she didn’t look at him and searched for words.
“Well actually I do. I am having a great time with Micke and the kids but something is missing. I don’t know what and I feel stupid for doubting my feelings now after so many years. I mean… oh well I think now is not the right time to talk about this…”

Per’s heart rate had come back to normal somehow. It is was for him to understand what had happened… he’d crossed some kind of hidden line between him and Marie, even with such a small gesture as kissing the palm of her hand. He was nervous now, more than ever eager to know what would happen next.
“I think I’d better go now, it’s late…” Marie said with a glance at the clock. She knew it sounded silly; it wasn’t even half past nine.
“You are confused too, right?” Per heard his self say, surprised. She looked at him, eyes wide in alarm.
“What do you mean? I…” Marie started but she knew there was no way out. He smiled at her, a daring, naughty smile. Blushes appeared on her cheeks when she confirms.
“Yes… I don’t know what else to say…”

This is crazy, Per thought. He wondered what was on her mind. There was tension between them now, a sort of tension which they had never felt before. He reached out and took her hand in his. He stroked her hand, looking at it, then bringing it up to his mouth and kissed her palm again. Marie stared at her hand with her mouth a bit open, eyes still wide. Per kissed her fingers softly with his warm lips. Marie’s body reacted to these simple kisses on her hand and she got afraid of what might happen next…
“I have to go now.” She suddenly said, pulls away her hand and stands up. Per looked at her while she got her purse and coat. He didn’t know what to say. Should he ask her to stay? Actually it is better that she leaves now… he stood up and followed her to the door.
“Marie I…”
“I will call you tomorrow.” They stand in the door looking at each other.
“Ok.” He bowed down and quickly placed a little kiss on her lips. Just like that, a stolen little kiss. One more look into her eyes and then she’s gone.

A few hours later Marie is in bed, staring into the dark. She had a fight with Micke tonight over some silly thing she already forgot. It made no sense and was solely to get the tension out. Now she felt sorry for him, when she heard him crawl into bed next to her, very careful not to wake her. A sigh escaped her mouth.
“Are you awake?” Micke whispered.
“Yes.” He came closer to her.
“Honey… I’m sorry about… well you know.” He spoke softly right beside her ear.
“I know… I should say sorry, it was stupid.” She turned onto her back. “I was just in a bad mood…” he bowed down to kiss her and she let him. When his hands crept under the blankets to touch her, she felt the rejection coming up again. This time she ignored it… it had been so long… Micke’s hand trembled a bit while he stroked her belly, slowly going up to her breasts. He deepened the kiss, searching for her tongue. His fingers brushed her nipples gently, hardening them. He sighed into her mouth. His hand left her breast to go down, over her belly again, reaching her panties and he pulling it down. His mouth moved over her throat, lower and lower to her breasts. His tongue teased her nipples and his fingers started to work between her legs.

Marie stared at the dark ceiling. All she could think of is Per. The thought made her scared, sad and uncomfortably confused at the same time. Why was that little kiss so special? Why did she still feel his lips burn on hers when she sat in the taxi? What was Micke actually doing and why… why was she not getting aroused like she used to…? Those things went on in her head while Micke was doing everything he can to please her. His head came up to kiss her.
“Oh baby… you feel so good…” he whispered, his voice all thick with desire. She smiled at him, and then pulled off her panties entirely. Her hands moved under the blankets to his hips and there she finds his penis hard and ready inside his boxer. She stroked it, squeezed it a little. He rolled on top of her, parting her legs quickly. When he moved inside her, she sighed. Mmm it had indeed been too long, she thought. Micke was so excited; she knew this could never take long. His hands were restless, needing to touch here everywhere. His mouth lost in her neck, her hair, whispering things to her. She replied it; telling him she liked it, saying it felt so good. Still her eyes are cold, staring into the darkness.

Late Monday evening, Per went crazy. Marie hadn’t called and he couldn’t wait to talk to her. His feelings now completely lost their way. He had no idea what to think, feel or do anymore. In a way he thought he should apologize for what happened the other night. On the other hand, she didn’t reject him, she didn’t tell him to stop. But this was crazy! They have been friends for over 20 years now. For Per, she had always been that special person. She is always somewhere in his mind.

When they first met, he fell for her. Right from the start he was crazy about her. He dreamed about her, woke up in the middle of the night all sweaty with a major hard-on… after a few moths, maybe even years, he told himself it was no use. She would never fall for him, always busy with boyfriends that were so different from Per. They had become best friends and Per knew then that he had to stop being in love with her or else their friendship couldn’t go on! Eventually he fell in love with someone else and forgot his feelings for Marie… or so he tried. Everything was so clear to him now. Åsa’s words echoed in his head; ‘…I am no longer satisfied with being second best…’ that was what she said. Åsa had known, he thought. Maybe not that it was Marie, but she had felt that there was someone else nearby that caught his attention.

He looked at the phone again. Then it rang, almost causing him to jump. He walked up to it slowly, waiting for the machine to answer. After the beep, he waited but nobody spoke. Then, there was her voice;
“Per… it’s me…” he picked up instantly and turned the machine off.
“I’m here.”
“Oh! Hi…” she was shy and spoke softly.
“I wanted to talk to you. But actually I don’t know what to say… so I thought I’d call you and see what comes out…” now she had to laugh and so did he.
“Are you home?” Marie confirmed that.
“Yes. Micke is rehearsing and the nanny is here… so I thought… maybe…” Per swallowed and took a deep breath before he spoke.
“Do you want to come over?” Silence.
“Marie?”
“Yes. Sorry. Yes I want to come over, if that’s ok…” a bright smile played around Per’s lips. The little voices inside his head where now at war; one saying ‘yes yes yes she’s coming over, what will happen…’ the other one screaming that he shouldn’t let this happen.

About an hour later, she was at his door again. It was already after eleven o’clock now. Per opened the door, looking at her with a sweet smile. ‘Hey…’ he said, opening the door further. ‘Hello.’ She replied. She was wearing a simple, tight black pants and a white woollen sweater. Per couldn’t help but staring at her ass when she walked past him. Oh God, if he was already in this mood, what else was going to happen?!

Marie felt really good about herself that moment. She had decided to go and meet him again, just to find out what all this meant. They were friends and no more, which was the way Marie had always seen it. But now he was causing her to dream about him… that was not good. ‘Well… wine then?’ he asked her. As he walked to the kitchen her eyes followed him. He wore a tight dark shirt with buttons, tight dark blue jeans and was barefoot. She had seen a light in his eyes when he had opened the door… oh there were so many things going on in her head. She didn’t know where to start, what to say. Maybe it was a stupid idea to go to him, she thought.

Per poured them some red wine and handed her the glass.
“I really love your CD, by the way.” Per said. Marie didn’t really know what he meant but then remembered the CD she took with her yesterday.
“You forgot to take it with you; I listened to it a few times today. You’ve changed your style a bit but it sounds really good!” she thanked him with a smile.
“About that song…” she knew immediately which one he meant; the one that made him cry yesterday night.
“I get a bit worried about you when I hear that.” He said. Marie bit her lip and didn’t look at him. She didn’t know what to say… the song was all too true; she did feel alone, trapped, darkness, lonely, loveless… in spite of everything, her marriage and life had become boring and uninteresting for her.
“You know, you’re not alone. I will always be right here if you need me, just like you were for me last night…” Per’s voice seemed a bit shaky when he said that. He wasn’t used to speak such heavy words. She looked up at him, eyes a bit sad and questioning. He sat on the couch, she on the big chair beside it. His hand reached over both to touch her hand lying on her lap. She smiled at him and held his hand as well.
“Thank you…” she said softly.
“It’s strange, now you are comforting me, while I actually came over to help you with your misery.” She continues with a funny smile.
“So? We are here to help each other aren’t we?” he said and she nodded in agreement.

There Marie excused herself and went to the toilet. She just had to break that moment, it felt so unreal. In the bathroom she looked at herself in the mirror. There were lines under her eyes; she didn’t sleep much the past few nights. She wore very little make up today which made her look old… she didn’t really have to go to the toilet, so she flushed it just like that and then went back to the living room. Per had put on some lovely light background music and filled up her glass when she came in. When she wanted to sit down on the chair again, he patted his hand on the couch beside him. His eyes were soft and sweet and he smiled at her. She felt a warm feeling come over her when she sat down on the couch next to him and he wrapped an arm around her.

Somehow it happened that Marie’s head rested on his chest, his arm wrapped around her, his head on hers. They listed to the music and talked in a soft tone. They talked about the past, their past; ‘do you remember when we…’ Per recalled a silly situation during the last tour they did together and Marie giggled. She moved her head to look at him, to see him. He returned her gaze, the look in his eyes alive and intense. Just like that, his head came down and his lips touched hers slightly, and again. They didn’t say anything, just stared into each other’s eyes for a moment. Marie felt her lips burning… she didn’t realize what was happening; she only knew she wanted more. She moved closer to him, reached for his lips and they kissed again. His lips were so soft and warm, she felt like drowning… his tongue brushed her lips and she opened them. A short sigh escaped his mouth when the kiss deepened, she tasted so good… he ignored the alarming voices in his head that were saying this was ridiculous and strange, come on, they were friends…

Marie’s hands slipped around his neck to pull him closer and he wrapped his arms around her waist. He played games with her mouth; she’d never thought he could be such a sensual kisser… Per ended the kiss suddenly and they took some distance.
“Marie… what’s happening?” he said, unsure look on his face. She giggled.
“We kissed…” she replied and both of them laughed at that. She touched his face, stroking his jaw, her thumb touching his lips. He bowed down and placed a kiss in her neck, right under her ear. His breath on her skin made her shiver; it felt so good to be touched by him. He pushed her down on the couch, covering her body with his. Marie’s body tingled everywhere, feeling his weight on her made her want more of him. While kissing her neck he gently ran one hand over the soft fabric of her sweater, down to her hips. His hand went round to touch her ass and gently squeeze her there. She giggled; apart from very exciting it was also a bit funny to be touched by Per like that. She went through his hair with her hands, enjoying the slow rhythm of his kisses on her skin and impatiently waiting what his hand would do next.

He sighed softly, the warm air from his mouth made her shiver again. His hand moved from her small ass up, to slide under her sweater and the small silk top she wore under it. Her skin was hot, her belly cramped when he touched it. Oh God, her skin was so soft… and she let him go on, his fingertips finding their way up to her bra. His head was still buried in her neck when he placed his hand over one of her breasts. He heard her breathing getting shallow now, her heart was beating fast like his. “I want you Marie.” He whispered into her ear. His voice was hoarse and low, just like hers when she answered.
“Yes…” and then sighed. She couldn’t say anything else, was concentrated on his hand under her sweater. His fingers had moved the bra away and found her hard nipple, massaging it. It turned her on even more, her whole body tense and longing for him. She gave him a hand by pulling her sweater and top over her head, and then took off her bra as well. Per had seen her naked before, but never so close and never with that longing look in her eyes. Her nipples were hard and her skin seemed to stir when he touched her breasts. He lowered his head to kiss her breasts and started to lick her nipples. Marie had her eyes closed and mouth a bit open. She went crazy when he took one nipple into his mouth and played with it with his tongue… this was really one of her most sensitive spots and her body moved under him.

His head came up to her ear.
“Let’s go to the bedroom…” he whispered. They got up from the couch. He wrapped his arms around her from behind, kissing her shoulder. Half kissing, trying to hold each other, they stumbled to the bedroom. Marie laughed when he pushed her onto the bed. He crawled over her, his face above hers. Her hands started to unbutton his shirt; it was time to see more of him. He watched her do that and then took off his shirt. Her hands went over his chest. He was tanned and in good shape, above all that his skin felt hot… she pulled him close, needed to feel him. They got lost in an amazing kiss again. He covered her small body with his and she parted her legs for him… there she felt his hips meet hers… he was hard and she pushed her hips up to feel him better. Per moaned into her mouth when he felt her do that. In answer, he moved his hips down as well, pushing his hard part against her. His mouth left hers and went down to her breasts again. He started all over again with teasing her nipples, licking and sucking them, even biting gently. Her hands went through his hair and over his shoulder, oh he was making her so hot… she sighed when his head went down to her belly, kissing her bellybutton, finally reaching her pants. He opened it and took it off. Now he found a tiny white see-through thong which looked so sexy on her, it was almost a waste to take it off… her hands pulled it down for him. He caressed her upper legs, kissed them and laid his head on them. He looked up and found her eyes looking at him, longing and waiting and she was biting her lip. His hand caressed her inner thigh, going up until he reached her most intimate place. He felt she was hot and wet, ready for him. She pushed her hips upward, encouraging him to go on.

Marie moaned loudly when he entered her with one finger. He added a second one and started to search with his tongue.
“Oh!” that sound from her made him sure he had found the right spot and he continued exploring her. Her body twisted, her belly trembled and she called out his name. Then he stopped and kissed her warm, soft belly. When he kissed her mouth, she was breathing fast. Her hands started to open his jeans quickly. They lay beside each other on the bed for a moment. Marie kissed him and stroked his chest. Her hand went down to his penis and she started massaging and stroking it. He sighed again. He had to keep his eyes open to believe that this was really happening.
“I want you… please…” she whispered in between hot kisses. His hands slid over her body. He grabbed her hip and pulled her to him, moving on top of her. Slowly and carefully he pushed inside her, closely watching her face. She smiled at him and that was all that he could think of.

They made love like they of them had never done before. Their sweet rhythm seemed to last forever, they couldn’t get enough of each other. She whispered sweet words into his ear, sometimes even making him laugh and breaking his concentration for a moment. It felt so good to have her in his arms, Per understood now what he had been missing all this time… he moved slowly inside her, didn’t want it to end ever. He kissed her lips, her face and her throat.
“Oh Per… you make me crazy with this… this rhythm… mmm…” she moaned. He smiled and then suddenly let go of her. She opened her eyes to see what he was doing… he had lowered his head between her legs and his tongue find her there again.
“Oh yes…” Marie panted while he was pleasuring her down there. He was determined and out to reach a goal… which didn’t take very long. He saw her belly and thighs tremble, her face concentrated and her body twisting. Her back arched when she came and she cried out in a high voice.

He waited a moment for her to calm down, and then took her in his arms again. She was catching her breath and pulled him on top of her. He was very proud and it shone all over his face. He entered her again, she was hot and slippery from the sensations his tongue had created. She wrapped her legs around him, allowing him deeper inside her and giving him more space to move. With his head buried in her neck, he felt the rush coming over him. It took only a few more thrusts until he came, whispering her name and releasing deep inside her.

They lay in each other’s arms for a while. Per was kissing her neck slowly, breathing her in, feeling her soft hair on his nose. She pulled his arms around her a little bit tighter.
“I have to go soon.” She said softly. He sighed.
“Mmm. I know. How do you feel?” she turned around to face him.
“I don’t know… good… content.” She answered with a smile.

About half an hour later, Marie was leaving. They hadn’t talked much, both lost in their own thoughts. Marie had taken a quick shower. Per stood in the doorway, Marie in the hall. They stared at each other, both waiting for the other to speak.
“Well…” Marie broke the silence.
“Yeah…” he said rather silly. Now Marie giggled, naughty look on her face.
“I will call you later, ok?” she promised. He nodded, also smiling. This was a silly situation. He felt as if he was saying goodbye to his first girlfriend, with the danger of his mother coming around the corner lingering on the background. He was nervous, butterflies fluttered around in his belly and he felt more alive than ever before. He was in love.

Marie leaned her head towards his and kissed him. The warm feeling of his lips against his made her heart beat faster again. When she wanted to break the kiss, he cupped her face into his hands to keep her there, kissing her deeper and full of passion. Then they let go and he watched Marie walk to the stairs, then stood there in the hall until he heard the door close downstairs.

In the taxi on her way home, Marie leaned back with her eyes closed. A bright smile curled her lips. She couldn’t stop thinking about him… his smile… his mouth… the soft brown eyes that got much darker when he was aroused… she wondered why she never saw all that before. Why did she fall for him now? Within a few hours, he had turned her world completely upside down. Her heart skipped a beat when she recalled their lovemaking… she’d almost forgotten how wonderful it could be.

At the same time, Per sat on his couch. Glass of wine in his hand, he was having the same thoughts. He was curious what had caused this sudden change in their relationship… and how it would continue. Were they a couple now? What about Micke? So many things to think about. He went to bed, tomorrow there was another day with enough time to worry and think and make plans…

It took a while before Marie got back to her senses. When she woke up the next morning, finding Micke sleeping beside her, she got sad. What had she done?! She slept with her best friend. She had betrayed her husband, who’d always been good to her, never lied to her and always took care of her… but then the blissful feeling came back; she was in love. There was no way to deny it. She felt more for Per than she’d ever felt for anyone including Micke. Slowly, careful not to wake Micke up, she got out of bed and tiptoed out of the bedroom. It was still very early and dark outside. She made a cup of tea for herself and sat on the couch in her pyjama. Thoughts ran through her head. Now what? Now what Marie? She kept asking herself.

A week later.
It was Friday night and a very special one; the official release party for Marie’s new album! EMI had organised it at the Café Opera in the centre of Stockholm and Marie would also perform a few songs there on stage. A lot of press, friends and colleagues had been invited. Marie was nervous. She had spoken to Per on the phone two days ago, for the first time after ‘The Night’. They had been acting very silly, giggling and saying sweet things. The serious talk Marie had planned when she dialled his number never happened. And now they would see each other at the party tonight…

Guests were entering the café while Marie sat in her dressing room. She was preparing herself. She wore light, tight jeans and a white top and her make up was simple; she liked what she saw in the mirror! There was a short knock on the door and then Micke entered the room.
“Hello… you almost ready?” he asked when he walked to her. He stood behind her, laid his hands on her shoulders and looked at her in the mirror. She nodded and smiled at him while a surge went through her. She felt very bad about what had happened between her and Per… she didn’t regret that it happened, it had been too good to regret it… but still she felt really bad about it because of Micke. She sincerely hoped her behaviour hadn’t been strange and that he wouldn’t notice anything. ‘Hey, are you ok?’ Micke asked, frowning. Marie sighed.
“Yes, I’m fine, just a bit… nervous I guess.” He wrapped his arms around her and kissed her cheek.
“You will be great, don’t worry!” he whispered and then left the room. When he closed the door, Marie buried her face in her hands and let out a deep sigh. Yes, she was nervous but not about the performance and not about the presentation of the CD… she was nervous about seeing Per again and the guilty feeling towards Micke was killing her.

A few moments later, Marie was there where she felt best; on stage! She sang 5 songs with her band; two old hits and three from the new album. Promo posters of the album and the single hang on the wall behind her and the press was all over the place. She was enjoying herself on stage, had a great time with the band and got a wonderful reception from her audience. The last song she sang was the sad ballad that had made Per cry. It was on the list to be the next single. She sang it with him in his mind, her eyes searching the audience until she found him. He stood in a corner all the way on the other end of the room with some EMI people. He stared at her, eyes piercing into hers. There were twinkling lights in his eyes; she could see that even from a distance. She couldn’t resist… had to look at him… gaze into those eyes…

Clarence was in the audience, a few meters away from Per. He caught their gaze. He saw them staring at each other and instantly knew; this was not the usual look… of course they were a special couple and of course their friendship was different than others… but still, this was totally new for him and it made him very nervous. Something was going on between them, that had to be it! He laughed to himself, giggled over the idea. Nah… that couldn’t be it… not Per and Marie… together… they wouldn’t. Would they?
“Excuse me… Per!” Marie Dimberg waved her hand in front of his face. Now he looked at her, questioning look on his face.
“What?”
“If you want another drink!” she asked, for the third time now.
“Yes… please…” he mumbled absentmindedly and handed her his glass. He realised he had to be careful. He didn’t want anyone to find out about his feelings for Marie, especially not Dimberg… when he looked at the audience, he met Clarence’s eyes. Per smiled and nodded at him. Clarence’s look was rather serious and curious, he made a gesture saying; ‘what’s up?!’ as if something was going on. Per reddened… shit… maybe he wasn’t too good at hiding his joy while looking at Marie…

Later
Marie sat in her dressing room. She had changed the white top for a light blouse and took off her stage make up.

Micke walked around in the backstage area. He was kind of frustrated and wanted to talk to Marie. He had been standing in front of her door for a while but he didn’t know how to start. There was this incredibly nervous feeling that somewhere there was something terribly wrong. She had been acting nervous all week, her mind seemed to be miles away and during the performance, she hadn’t looked at him at all, not even once. He didn’t have any idea what he could’ve done wrong… although lately they were annoying the hell out of each other anyway. He often thought they might be too close… working together, living together and having the same friends leaves very little time for yourself and he knew Marie needed that, he needed it too. With this strange attitude of hers, he got nervous… what was going on in her mind?

Marie was almost ready to go and she was in the mood to party! The performance had made her mood a bit better. Then there was a knock on the door suddenly. She sighed. Would that finally be Micke? She had seen the way he looked at her when they left the stage. He looked confused and hurt… exactly as he should.
“Come in!” she said loud and stood up, ready to go. She bowed down over the table to check herself in the mirror one last time.
“I’m ready. Have you called home yet?” Marie said. Micke had said he’d call the nanny before the party started. Oscar was having a little fever and they were worried about him.

“Ehm…” she heard behind her. That was not Micke’s voice and Marie turned her head instantly. Per stood by the door, looking at her with his hands on his back. His smile got brighter when he saw Marie blush.
“Hello…” she said and walked towards him slowly.
“Hi. You were wonderful.” now that they were alone Per got a bit shy and didn’t really know what to do. All he saw were her eyes, her wonderful hypnotising eyes. They came closer and closer and suddenly she stood right in front of him.
“It’s good to see you.” she said softly and stood on her toes to kiss him, a sweet little kiss on his lips. They both closed their eyes for a moment when their lips touched. Marie sighed and smiled at him. She kissed him again, a bit longer this time.
“I missed you.” He said and carefully wrapped an arm around her back to keep her from walking away. She then put her arms around his neck and hugged him tight. Mmm he smelled good. He felt good, too.

Per got a bit nervous from the look in her eyes.
“Let’s go, they are all waiting for you!” he said and turned towards the door. Marie was at the door before he could open it. She stood in front of it, blocking his way.
“No. I don’t want to go to the party yet.” she said in a slow, low voice. The look in her eyes was naughty and she bit her lower lip for a moment. He came closer to her and took her face into his hands.
“You shouldn’t dare me.” he whispered, then kissed her. Softly first but when he felt her lips open he got hungry for more.
“Oh you…” he groaned in between kisses. He pushed her against the door roughly now, moving his hips toward hers. Marie breathed heavily when she felt something hard press into her stomach…

Knock knock, on the door. Per and Marie almost jumped meters into the air. They got away from the door – and each other – just in time; Clarence walked in just like that, carrying a bunch of flowers.
“Hi there, I… oh… sorry.” the three of them stood there, watching each other with widened eyes and all of them blushed during a moment of silence.
“You were great.” Clarence slowly said to Marie and gave her the flowers. She smiled shyly and mumbled a ‘thank you’.
“Well! Let’s get drunk!” Per said a little too enthusiastic and practically ran from the room.
“Did I interrupt something?” Clarence asked when Per had left. Marie tried to smile and pretend that everything was ok but he knew her too well.
“Care to tell me?” he asked when she didn’t answer him. Marie sighed.
“There is… a problem… between Per and me… and… we have to solve it. Nobody else can… and it’s… very hard.” she stumbled over the words, absolutely not knowing what she was saying.
“Marie, listen.” Clarence put a hand on her shoulder.
“I have been watching you two very carefully during the show. There is something going on. I won’t put my suspicion into words because it sounds too ridiculous. But if I can see it, who else can? Mm? And who else will find out, and will talk about it to other people?” she was silent, stared at the ground. He said exactly what she had been afraid of.
“I hope you solve this ‘problem’ very soon.” he said, softly now.

At the party Marie was welcomed by a whole lot of friends, family and press. Even a few fans managed to slip into the Café Opera. She posed, signed, chatted and meanwhile made her way to the bar as quick as she could. She needed a drink and she needed it badly. Per was not in sight. Actually she hoped he had left, that way she didn’t have to be confronted with ‘the problem’ anymore. On the other hand, she couldn’t wait to see him again… and feel him… and taste him…. and hear him say those horny words…

“I think we have to talk.” Marie nearly choked on the sip of wine she just took. She had lost sight of Micke in between all the people in the bar, but now he was right beside her while she got a drink. More of these surprises tonight would surely give her a heart attack! She slowly nodded in response.
“I guess so… but not here.”
He frowned. “Why not? I want to know why you are acting so strange and I don’t think that can wait,” he demanded. Marie sighed and stared at the floor.
“You are right, something is wrong… but I really don’t know how to tell you this… right now.” Her face got red and she felt as a schoolgirl in front of the teacher, knowing she had done something she shouldn’t have.
“Marie…” Micke took one of her hands in his. She looked into his eyes and saw his insecurity and pain shine through.

They never got to finish the talk that night. They stood there, holding hands and exchanging this painful look, when some colleagues came over to talk to them. Marie was happy to get out of the conversation, for the time being. Micke also decided to let it rest. But her reaction had scared him. So indeed something was wrong. Very wrong, if it was so hard for her to talk about.

The party was almost at its end; the first hours of the new day had already passed them by. Almost all guests had left and some friends had taken Micke with them; he was too drunk to either get home on his own or wait for Marie. She was in the dressing room, packing the last of her things and saying goodbye to some close friends. When they walked out the door, she heard them talking to someone in the hall. Her heart skipped a beat when she recognised his voice; there was Per again. They hadn’t seen each other alone at the party tonight. Played the ‘dynamic duo’ act all night, always surrounded by other people. He closed the door behind him when he came into the room.
“Hey there! Almost ready to go?” he said. Marie was a bit unsteady on her feet when she turned around to face him… the alcohol affected her more than she’d thought. She leaned against the table and said nothing. Her mind was not responding to the little voice in the back of her had that told her the space between her and Per was getting less by the second. He walked towards her, not talking either but thinking even more. After a few glasses of wine, he had switched to water. He didn’t feel secure enough to get drunk, afraid of what he might do or say. Now he stood in front of that beautiful woman that haunted his dreams for the past week, and felt drunk even without alcohol.

Nothing needed to be said. He laid his hand on her cheek and kissed her. She leaned into his touch, needing it more than anything else. They shared slow, warm, deep kisses as if it was all that mattered. No rush, no thinking about other people. No thoughts at all. Just the slow movement of their mouths was all they knew. Until Per got out of breath. He let go of her and breathed deeply in and out for a moment. Marie hopped on the table and pulled him to her, in between her legs. One arm wrapped around him, her other hand stroking back his hair.
“How did all this happen…? I lost track…” Marie said dreamily and with a soft voice. Per smiled.
“I don’t know… but I don’t mind, either…” he took her in his arms and held her tight for a moment. Then he looked at her again.
“Something else. What are we going to do now? Is this… going to last?” his voice was soft and he had an unsure look on his face. Marie sighed.
“Right now, I can only think of what I’ve missed, all those years that have passed us by… Micke and I are not doing too well. It’s time for me to make some decisions.” Per was surprised to hear her talking so serious, making her point so clearly. She surely was a bit drunk and he’d expected her to ignore the subject ‘now what’.

They stood there for a few minutes more, in silence, just holding each other. Then Per let go of her reluctantly and when he spoke, his voice sounded strange and raw.
“We should go home now, people must wonder what is keeping us.” And so they left. In front of the Café Opera, they shared an understanding look when both of then got into another taxi.

Weeks later.
Marie sat on the couch. She wore old jeans, a big woollen sweater and two pairs of socks. It wasn’t cold in the house at all, but Marie felt cold inside. Terrible cold which made her shiver and doubt and scared her. There was only one light on in the living room and the teapot was almost empty. She had been sitting on the couch the whole evening, scrapbook and teapot within her reach. It was almost midnight and now she heard the front door open and close again softly; Micke had returned. He’d left that morning in the rain. Their kiss goodbye was rather cold and impersonal and Marie hadn’t felt warm ever since. Micke had a long drive to a town where he had a rehearsal, performance and party with his band. Now he was back and Marie’s heart skipped a beat when she heard him.

The evening before, they had a fight. Micke said she was asking too many questions and was starting to act like a paranoid housewife. When he said that, Marie exploded. The angry tension between them had been building up since the release party. Hidden under the surface of the happy marriage, something grew and this morning, Marie had come to an outburst like she never had before.

“Hello,” his voice said behind her. He stood in the doorway for a moment. She turned around on the couch and looked into his eyes. He looked tired and worn out. Still, he walked though the room and sat on the couch beside her.
“I thought about you the whole evening.” He spoke without an introduction, without eye contact, he just started talking.
“And I have to tell you something; I am glad we had this fight today.” Marie looked at him as if he was out of his mind. She wanted to listen understandingly and talk about what had happened but didn’t really know where he was getting at.
“Ok…” she said slowly.
“You were right when you said you doubted your reasons to be here. I feel the same you know. Sometimes I also forget why I am actually here, in this house, this city, with you. Then I see the kids… and well, then I know. But…” he stopped suddenly. He still hadn’t looked at her at all and seemed to be talking to himself. When he didn’t go on, Marie broke the silence.
“Micke…? What are you trying to say?” she said and waited. He searched for words and wanted to speak but didn’t. Marie sighed deeply a few times, trying to get rid of the tears that were stinging in her eyes now. It was going down tonight, she felt it. This was the end.

“I think I am trying to break up with you.” There. He’d said it. The knot in his stomach relaxed somewhat and he dared to turn his head and face her. She sat in the corner of the couch, legs pulled up and her arms wrapped around herself. Her chin rested on her knees and she stared at him. She bit her lower lip and had tears in her eyes.
“I miss us.” She whispered. His hand reached out and he placed it on hers. They looked into each others eyes and he nodded slowly.
“Me too. But you know too, that it will never come back… we have fallen out of love, Marie.”

It took a while for Marie to realise what he had said. He confessed that their marriage was over and there was no use trying… she stayed on the couch for a long time and cried until she fell asleep.

It’s not fair. Why do things never happen in the right order? Marie thought to herself when she lay in the bath, some hours later. Micke had left early this morning. He told her he went to a friend and would sleep there for a while. She only nodded, still numb, not really listening. The only thing that kept her busy was the idea of what she had lost. And that wasn’t Micke… no, she had lost Micke some time ago already. But recently, she lost someone else; Per.

Only days after the release party, Micke organised a romantic weekend for him and Marie. They spent three days alone on a tropical island, with nothing to do but lie in the sun and run around in the waves of a bright blue sea. It was fantastic, romantic, and calm. Marie thought a lot and made her decision right after coming home; she would stay with Micke. This weekend proved they just belonged together, the thing with Per was just a fling… she told him this a few days after she had come home.

She had invited him over to her house one afternoon, right after the romantic weekend with Micke. The kids were at school and Micke was out, so she had the house all to herself. Per had brought flowers for her and hugged her in the doorway. She gently pushed him away when he kissed her cheek. They exchanged some small talk while he followed her to the living room.
“Where is the rest of the family?” he inquired curiously. She told him they were all out and she had the house to herself today. He nodded approvingly. Marie brought the flowers to the kitchen and came back with two cups of coffee. She was nervous and totally forgotten what she had planned to say… when she’d put the cups down, he suddenly stood right in front of her.
“I hoped you’d be alone.” He whispered. He leaned his head towards her and kissed her. She answered his kisses… he was impossible to resist… when he pulled her closer to him and deepened the kiss, she tried to push him away.
“Per… Per I…” she tried to say but his tongue entering her mouth killed her words. He pushed her back until they reached the couch. Within minutes, he lay on top of her and his hands were already under her shirt. She panted… shit this was not what she had in mind… but he felt so good, was so hungry for her and that made her want him so much…

She finally spoke when he was busy licking her throat.
“Per, please… stop.” She said softly. He looked up with a baffled expression on his face.
“What?” he said, now in a normal tone instead of a horny whisper.
“We have to talk.” She explained. So they sat up, and after a few sips of coffee, she burst out in a waterfall of words, trying to explain how important it was that she made a choice, she had to choose and it was a hard choice, it had been a hard choice, it was something that would affect many people’s lives, and it had been very hard on her and she had thought about it day and night for the past weeks and now she…
“I understand.” He said, interrupting her.
“You made a choice… and I am not part of the plan…?” she didn’t look at him but nodded slowly.

Marie shivered. The water in the tub had gone cold. With a sigh she got out and grabbed a towel. Good work Marie, really very good, she thought. It took some talent to destroy your life within two weeks. And some other people’s life’s as well…

Sitting on the bed, rubbing body lotion over her legs, a thought came to her mind. Should she…? No. she couldn’t possibly call Per and tell him. No way… that would really make her look like a sad loser…

At the same time, in the more southern part of the country, Per sat in a recording studio with an acoustic guitar in his hand. He’d fled to Halmstad after Marie told him ‘the news’. He needed to get away from it all, away from dark, cold Stockholm and meet some warm and kind people. He played the same tune over and over again while Mats listened.
“And it should go with these lyrics?” Mats said, looking up from the pieces of paper in his hands. Per nodded. Mats shook his head.
“You still manage to surprise me, Per Gessle! This will make the whole front row cry, you know…” Mats wasn’t exaggerating. This song was really one to cry over and he was dying to know the story behind it. Per was not telling him anything. Just gave him the lyrics and played the chords he had in his head…

Making music was good for Per. He spent a lot of time with Mats, writing and recording new material. Finally something was happening again, finally he re-found his creativity. Days were busy and went quickly, night were long and often spent partying. Per tried to loose himself in hard work and having fun with friends. It didn’t work, though. Marie still controlled his mind, the memory of their conversation keeping him awake at night. He wanted to contact her and sat with the phone in his hand more than once, though he never dialled her number. He didn’t really have anything to say, there was no use to bring the conversation back to their feelings for each other. She had been clear about that…

If only he knew what had been going on in Stockholm. If only he knew how Marie was longing for him, spending her nights reading, writing or just staring at the ceiling. Something had to happen but since neither of them was taking any action, a third person had to bring the solution. It seems that in this story, Clarence has been chosen to play a certain role… He became aware of that when he met Per in Halmstad.

Per, Mats, Clarence and some other friends had lunch at their favourite restaurant in town. Per and Mats had invited Clarence to come over for a few days and listen to the new demo’s. After working on them for a little while, they needed some fresh opinion.
“Does this mean the Roxette-demo’s are put on hold? Or aren’t you planning to bring them out soon?” Clarence asked Per. He was curious about this because everything was moving so fast. Per had only been in Halmstad for about two or three weeks and he was already involving many people in the process of writing and recording. Before the release of Marie’s solo album, Per had recorded some demo’s for Roxette, aiming for a new album to be released within less than a year. It was about time, as Roxette’s last project had been some time ago. Per sighed.
“I haven’t really thought about that,” was his simple answer… a simple lie. He had thought about it, even if it was only to use it as a reason to contact Marie.
“But you do want to release an album with these songs, don’t you?” Clarence continued. Per only nodded slowly. Clarence was sure that something was not right. It had to have something to do with Marie, both had been acting so strange at the release party!

It took Clarence a few days to find out what was going on. On the last evening, the day before he was going home, Per finally spoke. They were sitting in his office in Hotel
Tylösand and after more than one bottle of dark red wine, he kind of lost his focus. He stumbled across the room to give Clarence another glass of wine. They were talking about women and Clarence told Per about his new girlfriend. He was really proud to have found such a young, sweet girl and all his friends were jealous. Now the best thing was that he was even really in love with her, he just wasn’t sure if she loved him as well.
“Women… women… you cannot trust them, my friend,” Per slurred.
“Never trust them! You know, I fell in love a little while ago.” Clarence was stunned. First of all, he was not as drunk as Per and second, this confession made him more sober. Per, in love?! It sounded kind of ridiculous. Ever since he divorced Åsa he’d made it clear that no one was to expect any involvement with any woman from him, at all… and during the partying lately, Clarence was sure he didn’t see Per interested in any of the girls they’d met… so maybe…
“You fell in love? And is she in love with you too?” Clarence asked. Per sat down in one of the chairs carefully.
“Ah I don’t know. She said she did but… now she dumped me. I know now, Clarence, that you can’t trust a woman, even if they are your friend.” It was silent in the room for a while. Clarence was a bit struck by what Per had said. Of course, he was drunk but his brain was still functioning. And isn’t it said that drunken people usually speak the truth…?

Nothing much came from Per after that, even though Clarence asked him some questions. It kept him busy though and he was still thinking about it when he arrived at the airport in Stockholm the next morning. When the cabdriver asked where he wanted to go, he didn’t give his home address…

Per woke up late that morning, after Clarence had arrived in Stockholm. He was welcomed by a terrible hangover and a big mess in his room. He moaned loudly while stumbling to the bathroom. No more alcohol for him, never! He turned on the shower and looked in the mirror, waiting for the water to get warm. He looked awful. It had been a strange evening; he only remembered flashes from it. Clarence had been really persistent in his talk about women. Per suddenly got scared; did he say anything about Marie? Shit, he couldn’t remember. Oh he sure hoped he hadn’t mentioned her, or what had happened… he did remember that he was saying that women can’t be trusted. And that he was in love… He let the hot water run over his body. Was he in love? He wasn’t sure. Was it normal to think about someone that much and not be in love? Or was it only lust maybe… mmm. Thinking about Marie and lust made Per’s body respond… indeed he felt a lot for her. A lot more and very different than ever before.

“So now I decided to visit you. I don’t mean to poke around in your personal business, but I just couldn’t stand it, I’m sorry.” Clarence put his coffee cup on the table and looked down on his hands. He felt a little bit guilty for invading Marie’s privacy like that. Coming over to her house without any notice, then bluntly interfere with her love life as well… Marie had been sitting across him on the couch. She was wearing track-pants and a large sweater, had no make up on and didn’t do her hair. Actually she looked like shit… She sat curled up in a corner of the couch, listened to Clarence while she sipped her coffee. Now she also stared at her hands and held on to the silence for a moment. ‘Ok then. I’ll tell you what happened… but please… if Micke ever finds out…’ she said with almost begging eyes. Clarence hurried to state that her secrets were safe with him, of course.

And so, Marie told him the whole story; how it suddenly happened that she and Per ended up in bed… and how she rejected him later… and that Micke now broke up with her. Clarence was stunned; Marie hadn’t told anybody about the upcoming divorce yet. When the paperwork arrived and things were really happening, there was still enough time to tell the rest of the world, Marie thought. Those things always take ages and the longer she could keep it from Per, the better.
“Marie… how on earth… you and Per…?” Clarence sighed.
“There isn’t anything that I less expected, really. Have you told Per that you and Micke are splitting up?’ he then inquired. Marie shook her head.
“I don’t know how. I… I just want to forget everything. It’s painful enough as it is. And Per and me together… come on, do you seriously see that work?” her eyes truly questioned him… he wondered if that really bothered her.
“I don’t know… I don’t feel what you feel.” He simply said.
“But I do believe you have to follow your heart… trust your feelings. Sometimes they are right you know.” Then he got up.
“I’ll go home now, I’m tired. It’s been a busy week… Gessle got into party-mode and he was unstoppable!” Marie nodded and walked him to the door. Clarence wasn’t prepared to give up though, not yet.
“Maybe you should go and see him, down south.” He suggested. She stared into his eyes.
“But if you already think it’s strange… then what will other people think?” she said softly, looking at the ground. There was the horn from the taxi. Clarence wrapped an arm around Marie and kissed her cheek.
“Since when do you care what other people think?!” was his last soft comment in her ear. He walked away, smiling and waving at her.

That night Marie stared at the dark ceiling again. She heard the clock downstairs; it was 3 in the morning. She sighed and turned around again. Clarence’s words kept singing in her head; ‘since when did you start to care about what other people think…’ ‘You have to follow your heart…’ ‘Sometimes your feelings are right you know…’ She wondered if Per thought about her too…

Miles away, Per was in deep sleep. His forehead was covered in sweat and so was his chest. He clung to the covers and twisted and turned restlessly. ‘Yes… that’s it…’ he whispered. In his dream, Marie raised her hips to receive him. He took her slowly and enjoyed the look on her face when he entered her again and again… then suddenly, he saw himself stand at the fence of his house in Södermalm. It was raining but he stood there without a coat on. Marie stood there too and she was screaming. Per couldn’t hear what she said, or he didn’t understand the words. She was angry and she screamed and cried.
“Never! Never!” she yelled. Something stopped him from talking. He tried to speak but he couldn’t make a sound and it drove him crazy. He panicked when she backed away from him, and then started running away.
“No! Marie no!” he finally managed to say. What should have been a scream came out as a whisper and she didn’t hear him… she was running away… Per sat up in his bed and realised instantly that it was just a dream. He panted and it took a while before he got control of his breath. He laid a hand on his chest; his heart was thundering and he was sweating all over. He lay back down and stared into the darkness. The night was halfway but he was wide awake. This has to stop, he thought. He told himself he had to take some distance. He had to forget about her… she’d told him no and he should respect that… still, he wanted to talk to her. Needed to hear her voice. Maybe needed to be rejected again. And again. Maybe then his heart would give up…

Later that week, Monday morning. Just not like every other, thought Marie. She was facing the facts today; a meeting with her lawyer. She got up quite early, together with the children and waved at the car as the nanny brought them to school. A little later, she took a taxi into town. Arriving at the lawyer’s office, she was stunned with surprise and then silently shouted out in horror… the press was there.
“Oh good god…” she sighed.
“Is there another way to enter the building?” the understanding taxi driver tried.
“No… I’m afraid not, but thanks.” She paid him and then got out. Rain fell down from the sky, completing her mood perfectly. She opened her umbrella when she stepped out of the car and walked up to the door of the lawyer’s office. Immediately, the reporters came to her, they even took pictures.
“Marie! Is it true you are here to discuss your divorce?” said one of them.
“Marie! Marie, over here! Are you divorcing Micke?” that last remark came from a journalist from Expressen. She would recognise his high-pitched, annoying voice almost everywhere. The expression on her face was rather painful and she stared to the ground, trying to walk towards the door.
“Excuse me, please… let me through… we have no comment!” that was the voice of Marie’s lawyer. He walked pushed himself through the group of about seven reporters and photographers until he reached her, and then grabbed her arm and pulled her with him to the door. When they were finally inside, he closed the door with a bang and Marie leaned against the wall. She cursed loudly.
“I’m sorry… I hadn’t noticed them before…” lawyer Lennart Gustavsson sighed. He walked up to Marie and they hugged shortly.
“Coffee first?” he asked her. She nodded and suddenly looked very tired.

They sat in his office, drinking coffee for a moment. His assistant came in with some paperwork and said that the reporters still stood at the front door.
“I asked them to leave but they didn’t listen. One of them said they were informed by a very reliable source and they wanted to hear the truth from Marie herself…” she looked rather guilty at Marie when she said this and added
“I’m sorry about this…” Marie shook her head.
“Well maybe we have to say something then… I don’t know really. Can I use your phone?” she asked Lennart. He gave her the phone and she dialled Marie Dimberg’s number. She had told her about what had happened just a few days ago. With Dimberg, Marie discussed what she had to do. She was wise enough to deal with the press but not sure if she should give in already or not.

About an hour and a half later, things were as good as settled and Marie was about to leave the office. Lennart’s assistant had called a cab and as soon as it parked in front of the office, the reporters were back. Marie looked out the window and spotted them.
“Well… here we go. I won’t say anything, even though I am dying to know who that source is.” She spoke softly.
“You know Expressen always talks about ‘a source’…” said Lennart, trying to comfort her. She still looked sad. “Mmm… I don’t think they could’ve made this up…” she mumbled.
“Do you think it’s Micke?” Lennart read her mind. She didn’t answer, just looked away. They were silent for a moment.
“I’d better go now… hope to hear from you soon.” Marie said to Lennart and then hugged him shortly and walked to the door. He walked with her to the waiting taxi, arm tightly wrapped around her shoulder.

Tuesday, Per is in the studio. Mats went out to buy some bread rolls and when he comes back, he throws a newspaper on the mixing board in front of Per.
”Did you know about this?” Mats asks. Per looks down at the paper. It’s Expressen from that morning.
“Marie gets divorced!” screams the fat headline. Right under that, a picture of Marie in the rain, getting out of the cab and looking very annoyed. Per’s heart misses a beat a he turns read. “Mmm?”
“Ehm… what?” Per didn’t look at him.
“Did you know?” Mats asked again.
“No… no I didn’t know… but hey, do you think it’s true?” Per said slowly. Mats shrugged.
“Well they are speaking of a very reliable source ‘who close very close to Marie,’ so I tend to believe it.” He answered. Per didn’t say anything. He was shocked and surprised, eager to know if this was true of not.

Late that night, Per drove his car through Halmstad. He’s skipped the road to his house a few times, he was lost in thoughts. Thoughts about Marie and the newspaper article… thoughts about the last time they spoke. It seemed ages ago. He pressed the buttons of his mobile phone and found her number…. It was past eleven already and a normal Tuesday night… would he…? Nah… better not.

The newspapers didn’t let go of Marie and the news of her divorce. Micke didn’t live with her anymore since a few weeks and the reporters had noticed that too. She didn’t speak to him for ages, until after the divorce was settled in court. Neither of them were there; the case was clear and the lawyers didn’t need to do anything but agree and exchange signatures of Micke and Marie, which they had both written down on the papers earlier. Marie had been hiding in her house mostly and now Marie Dimberg had written a press message which explained the divorce shortly. It was awful to see the papers the next day… and the international press that copied the news that evening and the next day.

Meanwhile, summer had arrived quite unexpectedly. Stockholm was crowded and Marie felt like suffocating at home, the home she had been living in with Micke for so long. She thought about taking the kids and their nanny and for a nice vacation somewhere… as much as she loves the Swedish summer, she didn’t even consider her summerhouse in the south. Far to close to Halmstad… to Per. She knew he was spending the whole summer there. In the end, she left for the south of France in early June. A lovely wooden dream cottage by a lake gave her peace and quiet, and the time to relax. She played around with the kids, had lovely long night talks with Nanny Eva. She even got in the mood to paint again but she hadn’t brought any material. Micke called occasionally to check on the kids. He’d found a nice place of his own in Stockholm, not far from where Marie and the kids lived. The kids were excited about going back to Stockholm and seeing daddy’s new home.

Like Marie had expected, Per was spending the summer in Halmstad. Even though it was a beautiful summer, Per’s mood wasn’t much different from the winter when Åsa had left him. At the same time, a summer festival was being organised in Halmstad. Bands were playing all over town in clubs, bars and open air. Of course Hotel Tylösand was part of it, hosting the big celebrity party on the opening night. Per had met the guys from Gyllene Tider a few weeks before; they were going to invade the party with a surprise performance at the Sun Terrace of the hotel, behind Leif’s lounge. First they would attend the celebrities’ party, and then they would go down to get ready for the gig. The hotel had booked a so-called ‘cover band’ which played a lot of Gyllene Tider songs. Then in the middle of their performance, the real GT would come on stage to take over, stating they would show them how it’s really done…

The invitation to the opening party lay on top of the pile of mail which was waiting for Marie when she got home from France. It was going to be a fancy party, dress code was ‘black tie’ and most hot shots of the Swedish showbiz were going to attend, Dimberg told her later over the phone. They agreed to go together and Marie booked suite in Hotel Tylösand… the easiest way and the best hotel around. Still it gave her mixed feeling. Knowing that she would see Per again made her nervous and uncomfortable. They never spoke to each other since that horrible evening at her house, when she’d rejected him… and she felt kind of guilty that she never called him to say hello, or to tell him about her divorce in person…

Micke and the kids brought Marie to the air port. The air between her and Micke was kind of cleared now; it had been good to be away from each other for a while.

Marie had been doing quite well during the short flight from Stockholm to Halmstad. But when the taxi dropped her off at the hotel, the nervous feeling was back in her belly. She kind of expected to walk right into him but that didn’t happen. She checked in and sat in her room, reading the newspaper until Dimberg called her; she was waiting for her downstairs. Dimberg had been in Halmstad already and they were going to have lunch in town together. When Marie walked into the lobby to meet Dimberg, a shock went through her; Dimberg was talking to Per. He stood beside her and they were busy talking to one of the other celebrity guests of the party. Marie took a moment to catch her breath. God why was this having so much impact on her?! Shit she didn’t want to meet him in front of other people… and then again, what was she fussing about?! He had been her friend for so many years… why couldn’t she act normal around him now…? The three kept talking and Marie told herself to go and meet them. This was probably better anyway because she couldn’t bare the thought of being alone with him either. She walked up to them and tried not to look at Per. She couldn’t ignore his presence either, though… he wore a tight, short sleeved white t-shirt and looking-like ‘old’-jeans which were hung down from his hips rather sexy…

Per noticed Marie before the other two did. He saw her walking up to them and stiffened… shit. There she was. He had known she was coming down but that didn’t make the shock any lighter. He straightened his back as if he wanted to be taller and looked straight into her eyes. She seemed radiant to him, looking fresh and tanned and beautiful… her hair was lovely, messy on purpose and she was also dressed in white. A long, wide skirt which made her look kind of romantic… completed with a light pink tank top, jeans jacket over her arm.
“Hello there…” she said, breaking the conversation between Dimberg and the other famous guy she was talking to. She got warm welcome hugs from both and then it was Per’s turn. The other two continued talking so they didn’t see the strange and unfamiliar hesitation between the two close friends. Per smiled at Marie rather shyly, which gave her more courage. Ok, so there was no enemy-like atmosphere between them, thought Marie.
“Hey, Per, how have you been.” She said softly and with a bright smile.
“Fine, thanks, and you…” he said and took a step in her direction. They hugged and it felt strange… strange but good. Marie’s nose brushed his neck and she breathed him in… mmm. Some light, fresh aftershave… the smell of a fresh shirt… and maybe a hint of sweat, she couldn’t really tell. When they let go of each other and their eyes met again, both blushed.
“It’s… good to see you. Been a while!” Per kind of stumbled over the words, wanted to say two things at the same time. Marie only nodded. Her heart was beating fast and her throat was dry… Dimberg saved her.
“Now darling, shall we go? Otherwise they’ll give the table away, come on. See you later Per!” and off they went…

The rest of the day was busy for Per; talking to the press, keeping track of the preparations of the evening… The Maries went into town for a lovely long lunch. They needed to catch up on some gossip of course, since Marie had been away for a few weeks.

In the evening
Socialising, going around, see and being seen. Those were the biggest issues of the evening. And in the meantime, you were also supposed to have fun and party.

Per was stressing. He wandered around in the backstage area of the Beach Club, too many things on his mind and he had no idea what to do first. He had changed his casual look for a suit now, as did the other Gyllene Tider members. Their surprise gig would take place in about an hour. A shock went through him when he heard a familiar voice somewhere behind him. “Is he here? Oh, never mind, I see him, thanks!” That was Marie. He knew she was coming his way and he waited until the last moment to turn around.

“Hello.” He said, quite short. He looked at her and had difficulty not to gasp. She was absolutely stunning… she wore a short, silver cocktail dress, shining all over the place, yet the simple design made it very subtle. High-heeled, open shoes and simple, silver jewellery completed the picture. She looked at him and she was talking but he forgot to listen… he was staring into her eyes that were shining. Everything about her was shining…
“Are you listening to me?” The annoyed tone in her voice snapped him back to reality.
“Ehm… sorry” he stuttered and blushed.
“Why don’t you come outside with me and have a drink?” she tried again.
“I-I can’t. I have things to do here… I will be out there in a moment, ok?” she looked away.
“If you don’t want to see me anymore, I understand.” She said softly, not looking at him.
“No, no, I mean… I…” he bent down to her and whispered in her ear; “I have to stay here, because we are going to perform. But that’s a secret… so shhh…” then he looked at her again and smiled.

Marie looked into his eyes and smiled back. She honestly felt the tension in her shoulders release a little. Was it because of what he said or more how he said it… he had whispered in her ear. And the feeling of his nearness stayed with her for a long time, even when she was back at the Beach Club already.

The gig was of course a total blast, a huge success as the boys had hoped but not expected. The whole Beach Club sang along to their old hits.

After GT’s short performance, Marie walked around the Beach Club and Leif’s Lounge, hoping to find Per. She talked to many people and had a few drinks, but Per was nowhere to be found. Finally, she decided to give up. She was tired and the party was getting boring.

After saying goodbye to some friends and colleagues, Marie stood in the elevator alone, to the floor where her room was. It stopped on the second floor and Per got in. Marie’s heart skipped a beat when she got sight of him. He had changed his clothes again; now back in jeans and white shirt. His hair was a little bit wet, as if he just came from the shower. The thin, white shirt wasn’t completely buttoned up… a faint smell of shower gel greeted Marie first. Per didn’t see her right away. He pushed a button for the first floor and then turned around to give the other person in the elevator a friendly nod…

“Oh! Hi!” he said and smiled shyly. Marie couldn’t say anything, she was just staring at him… he was looking so good, gorgeous, stunning…
“No more partying?” he asked her while the elevator doors closed slowly and then they went up again.
“No… I was looking for you.”
“Oh, yes, sorry. I went to take a shower and then I got a phone call and… Well that took a while.”

Marie almost couldn’t bare the sight of this man… oh my, he was looking good. She caught him glancing at her legs and moved around a bit against the wall of the small elevator.
“Per, I…” she started, but then hesitated. She had no idea what to say. His dark brown eyes met hers and he looked at her in question.
“Are you alright?” he asked concerned and came closer to her.
“You look a little… feverish…” Marie giggled and looked away from him. He held the back of his hands against her cheek. “Or is it just the wine, maybe…?”

“It’s you.” The tone in her voice startled Per. Her voice was low and a little horse… and she whispered to him.
“Marie… how much wine did you drink…” Per said softly. The elevator stopped now, on the fourth floor where Marie stayed. But she didn’t get out. They stood there, staring at each other until the doors closed again and the elevator started moving again. It went down now, because Per had pushed the button for the first floor.

“I’m not drunk.” Marie replied. She came closer and stood in front of him.
“I’ve missed you…” Per could barely understand his own words. What was he saying?! Why was he saying that! He’d made promises to himself not so long ago and now he was already breaking them… Marie didn’t reply, she just leaned forward and kissed him. Her lips were slippery and her mouth was hot, her tongue probing into his mouth.
“Mmm!” Per didn’t have time to think about the situation, or to turn her down, even if he wanted to. He felt her hands on his chest now, caressing him and flames of excitement shot through him.
“Oh Marie…” he stumbled in between kisses. She pressed her body against him, kissing him like there was nothing else in the world. Per’s hands finally came into action and he laid both of them on Marie’s ass, squeezing gently at first. When she responded with a moan, he squeezed a bit harder.

‘PING!’ the elevator had reached the first floor and the doors opened slowly. In shock, Per and Marie let go of each other and stared into the empty hallway. Nobody there. They stood opposite from each other, both against the reflecting dark glass of the elevator’s walls. The doors stayed opened and Per and Marie stared at each other. Per reached out for the buttons and pressed 5. The top floor, where he had his own private suite. He was with her in a second when the doors closed again. His lips nipped hers very softly. He’d wanted to do that since the moment they met that morning, after being totally swept off his feet from their friendly hug… she hugged him close to her.
“Where are we going?” she whispered. He kissed her again before he answered,
“To my room.” He said with a low voice that sent shivers down Marie’s spine. He leaned in to kiss her again when the same annoying ‘PING!’ sounded again; they had reached the top floor.

Per took her hand and lead her to his suite. The room had a cosy ‘living room’ area with a setting of two large, soft sofas and a small table in between them. In the back was a huge bed on some kind of platform, with glass doors leading to a balcony. One of the doors was open and Marie felt the soft summer wind brush along her legs. After Per let her in and closed the door, he stood behind her and kissed her naked shoulder. His hands caressed her arms and he felt she had goose bumps. He tickled her neck with his lips and Marie leaned her head back on his chest, enjoying his soft caresses. Her heart was beating fast and every muscle in her tensed, when he flicked his tongue and tasted the sweet skin of her throat.
“You smell lovely.” He sighed. One of his hands moved from her arm to her belly, then up to cup one of her breasts. All his touches were gentle, slow and soft. Marie felt hot… she wanted things to move a little faster. She pushed her ass back into him and wrapped his arms tighter around her.

They stayed in that embrace for a moment. Marie could feel the hardness in his pants press against her ass and she pushed back harder. He moaned into her ear for a moment. His hands then went to her back to unzip her dress slowly, and pushed it down until it fell to the floor. His soft hands started the same trip they made before; caressing her shoulders first, almost massaging them. Then down over her arms and back up, moving over her shoulders to her back. He touched her waist only with his fingertips, almost tickling her, going to her belly.

Marie turned around and faced him for the first time since they entered the room.
“Per…” she wanted to say something, something that made sense. But she was lost, no words came to her. He only kissed her, no words were needed. She opened up his shirt, quickly pulled it away and pressed herself against his naked chest. Next was his jeans and soon he was naked, clothes spread out over the floor. Now she was caressing his body, stroking him everywhere and admiring him. He gasped when she touched him between his legs finally.

While she stroked him, he undid her bra and took both her breasts into his hands, massaging them softly. She let go of him and walked through the room to the bed. He followed her slowly, watching her as she lay down. He hadn’t made the bed that morning, it was all messy and she could smell his scent on the sheets. Per crawled over the bed to her and kissed her again. He could kiss her all night long… Marie couldn’t ignore the feeling of his hardness against her upper leg and she moved as close to his as possible. She needed him badly… she wanted him to touch her. She ran her hands over his chest, up to his face. She traced the lines of his chin and cheek and then messed up his hair. He moaned softly when her hands went through his hair fast and pulling it. He was stroking her belly and Marie couldn’t stop herself… she pushed his hand further down, slightly parting her legs and moving her hips. Per got the message and grinned, breaking their kiss. He watched her face as he let his hand trail down painfully slowly. His fingers went through the fluffy hair down there and he caressed and squeezed her thighs. He bit his lip and looked into her eyes when his fingers explored more of her, coming closer and closer.

“Mmm…” Marie gave a low, deep moan when he entered her with one finger. He went deeper, deeper inside, making her body cramp. Marie’s head twisted from side to side on the pillow, when Per rubbed her soft, warm flesh. His face came close to her and he kissed her cheek. Her cheeks were flushed red, her mouth a bit open and she was panting.
“Per…” she breathed his name again. He responded by circling her swollen centre.
“OH! Oh…” her belly trembled and he slowed down a bit.
“Honey… you are so beautiful.” Per whispered in her ear.
“So beautiful… mmm…” his low voice vibrated in her ear. He took her earlobe between his lips and suckled it while his hand didn’t stop moving either. He noticed a change in Marie… he thighs cramped against his hand, pressing him harder to her.
“Yes… yes…” she whispered barely audible. Per concentrated on that special spot that he now discovered and rubbed in the same rhythm. She grabbed his arm, her mouth wide open in silent scream. Her back came off the bed and she held her breath, shuddering…

Per is lying on the bed beside a panting, shuddering Marie. He finally took his hand from between her legs now, softly caressing her and kissing her face. Marie turned to him to kiss his mouth and they exchanged long, slow and deep kisses for a moment. His hand slid across her hip to her ass and she turned to him a little more, now suddenly very aware of him again, his hard member pushing against her… She pulled up one leg and wrapped it around his hip, then turned and sat on top of him, pushing him down on the bed. Per growled a giggle when she teasingly moved her hips over him, leaving wet spots on his belly… She lowered herself a little bit more, and then felt him between her legs.
“Mmm…” she moaned and sat upright, wiggling her hips over him. She took only a small part inside of her, then withdrew until he was almost out and took him back in again. Per started panting, his hands rushing along her legs. He moved his hips upwards in her rhythm, trying to push deeper inside her. Marie giggled and bent forwards over his chest and lay still for a moment, looking into his eyes. Tenderly, she kissed his lips and slid her tongue over his lips.
“Mmm…” he moaned, “you feel so good Marie…” she felt his hips moving under her and his legs were trembled a bit. He wrapped his arms around her and turned them around, so that he was now on top of her. She giggled first, but then he thrust inside her hard and deep, just once. “Oh!” Marie breathed, a shock going through her.
“You ok?” he asked under his breath.
“Yes… go on…” she whispered back.
“Slower?”
“Mmm… no… harder. I like it when you… Oh!!” Marie couldn’t finish what she was saying as Per once again thrust hard. She urged him to go on, faster, harder, with her hands on his ass. She answered all his moves with a sigh or a moan and whispered things in his ear. Per went crazy, this was too much. He sped up, doing as she wished and took her hard.
“Oh god… you make me crazy…” he whispered to her neck. He held still for a moment, just kissing the soft spot where her shoulder became her neck.

They stayed in an embrace, legs tangled and hands softly caressing. Per raised his head and looked up at her.
“I… I want to say something but I don’t know what.”
“Can I sleep here?”
“Of course.”

[Note: I don’t know how to finish this story so it stops here, sorry… it’s just not going anywhere anymore, I lost the feeling somewhere. Actually it’s already finished.”…and they lived happily ever after…”]

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