<I love you so much. More every day. Mxxxx>
MAGNUS. Stockholm, July
He couldn’t seem to keep his leg still for some reason. If he concentrated the bouncing stopped, but as soon as his mind wandered the vibration recommenced. The secretary behind the desk facing him kept glancing up disapprovingly; the drumming of his heel on the oak parquet clearly was irritating her. He looked at his watch one more time. The appointment wasn’t for another five minutes, but he was here, why not just see him now? It occurred to Magnus that the woman he was waiting for might be with someone, or on the phone, or simply very busy. Just because this felt like the most important day in history to him didn’t mean it had the same significance for anyone else; not even for the person who would be deciding his fate.
He tried to calm his racing pulse by thinking about his time in Auckland. The smell of Caroline’s hair always calmed him: her shampoo had chamomile in it; maybe that was why. He closed his eyes and allowed thoughts of her to soothe his fevered mind. Her skin on his, his nose nuzzling against her neck and shoulder as they spooned after making love, their bodies and souls melded. Once more he allowed himself to believe that they could be doing that all the time soon, and that thought brought him back to the room and why he was waiting outside the Överdirktör’s office this afternoon.
It was Kurt’s doing, mainly. Thanks to his contacts in the Ministry, he had discovered that there was a new initiative from Europol to improve communication and cooperation between the forces of member states of the EU, and that they were, in fact, currently looking for volunteers. Interested parties had to be short-listed by their own Länspolismästare; the final obstacle (excluding the normal vetting) was this interview. Following Wallander’s advice, Magnus had been completely open from the start about his motives, because Kurt reasoned – he hoped correctly– that this made him a more committed and determined applicant.
The door to his left suddenly opened and a tall dark-haired woman stepped out.
Magnus leaped to his feet and took her proffered hand.
‘Yes. Pleased to meet you, Överdirktör Svensson.’
‘Come on in and let’s get started, shall we?’
CAROLINE. Auckland, July
‘Magnus? What are you doing in Stockholm?’
She looked at his surroundings, such as she could make out behind him in the small image. It looked like a hotel room.
‘That’s why I’m calling you so early: I wanted to tell you something.’
Caroline felt her heart start to race. Please let this be good news… Please!
‘I’ve come up here for an interview for a temporary transfer. An exchange, a bit like yours.’
‘Oh yes? Where to?’ Please don’t say Australia or China or something
‘If I get it, it will be to Nottingham. For a year. From October.’
Caroline was unable to speak for a minute. Her head swam and she felt woozy. Reaching for her coffee she took a big gulp and tried to form her swirling thoughts into words. Magnus was smiling at her, his own heart full of happiness. The interview had gone very well, and for once he was allowing himself the luxury of hope.
Finally Caroline felt able to attempt to speak. ‘What? How?’
Magnus explained. Ironically, the reasons behind the scheme were very similar to the one she was on: the exchange of information; comparison of working methods to improve professional practice; greater mutual understanding. The papers Kurt had obtained for him had thrown him into a flat spin for a few days: it was so perfect. There were various options, mostly in the UK or Sweden’s near neighbours. Within Britain he had the choice of applying to be with the Metropolitan Police, West Midlands, Strathclyde in Scotland or Nottinghamshire. It wasn’t hard for him to choose the neighbouring county to Leicestershire, and the bonus was that most other applicants would be drawn to the excitement of the bigger cities. He was as certain as he could be that he would get it.
‘When will you know?’ Caroline was near to tears with excitement and happiness.
‘In two weeks; there are quite a few applicants to interview, and then the host force has to approve me. I didn’t want to say anything until I heard, but it went so well today I just couldn’t keep it to myself any longer.’
She thought about what this meant: waking up in his arms every morning - for a year.
‘Oh my darling,’ the tears had broken through finally, ’that would be amazing. Oh Magnus…’
He watched her crying while he made soothing noises, tears falling down his own cheeks. The despair of a few weeks ago was banished.
<Any news? Cxx>
<Not yet, but they said it wouldn’t be until tomorrow. Lisa is acting oddly tho. Mxx’
MAGNUS. Ystad, Late July
‘Kurt? I’ve got those details for you. The father died in 1978, the mother in 1990. No information about the brother, though.’
‘No. The neighbour thinks he emigrated. Thanks.’
Hanging up the phone, Magnus’ attention was caught by Lisa, the Kriminalkommisarie, who was getting up from the desk in her corner office and walking in his direction. She was smiling, but said nothing. Instead of stopping to speak, she walked right up to where he was standing and embraced him. Caught unawares, he wasn’t able to return the hug due to the wodge of papers in his hand, but he managed a one-handed effort. She whispered in his ear and it was all he could do not to burst into tears right there in front of everybody.
<I got it. Mx>
<No words. I love you Cxx>
CAROLINE. Auckland, August.
She looked at her watch: ten minutes until the taxi was due. She did one last check of the rooms to make sure she hadn’t left anything. Not that she had brought many belongings, and she had been careful not to accumulate too much during the year. She had been allowed a small freight container, more of a trunk in fact, which she had mostly filled with books. That left a week ago and was ready for delivery back in Leicester when she said the word.
She looked out of the window. How many hours had she spent with her eyes not seeing the view – not that it was that fabulous, just the back of the hospital – because she was daydreaming about Magnus? This place was full of memories of him, despite being so very far away from Ystad. The past year had been, more than anything about him, about them.They had grown so much closer, despite the separation, and now they would be together – really, physically together – for a whole year. Magnus was going to be living with her and commuting to Nottingham. It wasn’t very far, and she lived on that side of the city anyway.
The day was here at last: in just over 36 hours she would be back home. Magnus wouldn’t be there, not yet, but that was OK, because in just a few weeks he would be.
Her buzzer sounded then, so she picked up her luggage and headed for the door.
MAGNUS. Leicester, August.
‘In 200 metres, turn right.’
The hire-car sat-nav sounded like the BBC Radio announcers: a sexy female voice that reminded him so much of Caroline’s he was getting hard. But then again, that might have just been the anticipation of seeing her again. She was home from New Zealand; she had been for two days. Lisa had given him a week’s leave unexpectedly a few days earlier, and everyone at the station knew that Caroline was back at home in the UK. His colleagues were happy to cover for him. He had not told her he was coming, so he hoped she would be in when he arrived.
Taking the corner he recognised the road from Google Street View. Caroline lived at number 45…
‘You have reached your destination,’ the GPS siren announced. He drew up. A car was in the driveway – a BMW like hers. She had to be there. It was mid-morning, she’d be awake, he hoped, although she had texted him to say she was still quite jet-lagged. He could not wait to see her face when she opened the door.
He never got a chance to knock; she had seen him from the window, and running down the path she jumped into his arms. Kissing him wildly, she was like a woman possessed.
‘Do you make a habit of this? Turning up unannounced, I mean?’
He laughed as he set her back on her feet.
‘No; only for you, my Caro.’
She flung her arms around his neck and spoke quietly into his ear. ‘Never stop. I like it.’ Pressing herself tightly against him, she could tell he liked it too. ‘Get your bags and come in. Now you’re here, I think I know what else I’d like.’
Magnus opened the boot of the car and retrieved his small suitcase then followed Caroline up to the house. It was small, a semi-detached on a quite crowded street, the main feature of which seemed to be the massive number of cars. Every house had a paved frontage with at least one parked on it, sometimes two or three. The street was also quite full of parked vehicles. It seemed very claustrophobic to him, with few trees evident, although he had seen leafier roads on his journey from the airport.
The inside of the house was blandly decorated, a narrow hallway leading to a staircase, with doorways leading to a sitting room and a kitchen-diner at the rear. He reminded himself it was a rental and noted Caroline’s furniture was bright and comfortable-looking, and her pictures and books were everywhere. Magnus felt instantly at home. He left his bags by the stairs and followed her into the kitchen.
‘Can I get you a drink? You must be thirsty after your journey.’
‘No, I’m fine. The flight attendants kept me topped up with coffee.’
I bet they did, gorgeous-looking bloke like you
‘In that case, come here.’
Smiling, Magnus wrapped his arms around her once again, lowering his face to hers and capturing her lips with his own. They both moaned into the kiss and Caroline lifted onto her toes to press her body more firmly against his, Magnus squeezing her bottom to bring her more tightly against him. He gasped as she ground against his erection, chuckling as he felt her lips smile. It had been over four months and Caroline was desperate for him; to feel his touch on her skin; to taste his tongue in her mouth; to have his cock inside her. She moved her hands between them and began to undo his belt. Magnus shifted slightly to allow her room while he lifted her t-shirt over her head.
Free of the cotton layer, her breasts were his to taste, lick and suck and her bra was soon gone as well. Magnus felt her arch her back as he ran his teeth over one nipple, making it stiffen. He paused briefly to remove his own shirt and returned to his work. Lifting Caroline up onto the worktop, he began in earnest, delicately but firmly licking and nibbling, driving her wild as he knew this would.
‘I have had dreams about your tits,’ he remarked in a pause for breath.
‘Good ones?’ she gasped as he sucked hard on one, pinching the other.
‘Oh yes. Waking up next to them, doing this, and… coming over them.’
‘Maybe later. For now I need you to fuck me.’
‘Yes. I kind of need that too.’
There was a small sofa in the corner of the dining part of the room. Magnus hoisted her up with her legs around his waist and carried her over there, putting her on her feet in front of it. They both removed their remaining clothes and Caroline reached for him as he lowered his long frame down between her legs. It had been a long enough wait, and there would be time enough for more leisurely lovemaking. For now, at this moment, they both needed to connect, and so he did not wait to slide gently but steadily into her. As he was fully inside they kissed and stayed still for a few minutes, kissing and relishing the deep contact, the sharing of each other they had craved since Magnus left Auckland in April.
Caroline ran her fingers through his blonde curls, teasing and playing with them, her other hand caressing the nape of his neck. They locked eyes as their foreheads met and their hips began to move together.
‘I love you,’ she mouthed as wave after wave of pleasure rocked her. She was always amazed by how much better it was than she remembered; there was simply nothing that compares with being joined like this with someone you love so deeply you could not imagine life without them.
‘Jag älskar dig öckså,’ he responded, his body expressing the sentiment in a shout. He shifted his position slightly and began to thrust more rapidly, changing the angle, twisting and turning. Caroline gripped him tighter and her moans became louder and more urgent. Magnus could feel his release was near but she was his priority so he slipped his hand between their bodies and pressed his thumb to her clit. Caroline felt her orgasm coming and begged him not to stop.
‘Come with me, my darling,’ he urged and she clamped down hard on him, not allowing him any option but to join her. A few more ragged jerks of his pelvis and Magnus collapsed panting, his head on the arm of the sofa next to hers. He was breathing heavily, his arms shaking with the effort. Caroline shifted to one side and he was able to lie against her, their legs and arms entwined. He nuzzled her temple, feeling the pulse just beneath the skin returning to normal.
She sighed happily. ‘Just think, Mags. In a couple of months you’ll be here all the time.’
‘I can’t wait.’ His long fingers drew patterns on her bare belly, making her squirm with the ticklish sensations.
‘Are you hungry? What time did you leave home?’
‘I stayed in Stockholm last night, because the check-in was at seven-thirty. I knew I wouldn’t sleep, so it was easier to be near the airport.’
She leaned her head back to look at his face. His keen, intelligent eyes were regarding her solemnly, but his mouth was resting in a half-smile of contentment.
‘You really are the most beautiful man I have ever known,’ she said seriously, running her fingertips along his cheekbones and brushing them across his lips on the way to his strong jawline. ‘The fact that you are mine never ceases to astound me.’
Magnus laughed softly as he looked at Caroline with the same reverence. ‘Well,’ he said, ‘I never saw a more beautiful woman. I love you with all my heart and soul.’
She stood then and led him back to his bags then upstairs to show him the bedroom and bathroom. He unpacked and returned downstairs having dressed ‘so as not to frighten the neighbours’ as Caroline had suggested. He sat at the table and watched as she assembled a salad for lunch, busying herself opening cupboards and the fridge. She was singing softly and dancing as she worked and he felt a fresh rush of love and lust, but the overwhelming feeling was of happiness.
Caroline was singing because she was so happy she couldn’t help it. Back from her year away it was lovely to be in her own home again, and having Magnus with her was blissful. She stole glances at him as she moved around the kitchen, as if she could not quite believe he was actually there. The time since he confirmed that he would be coming to England for a year had been pure heaven; after all that time apart they were being rewarded with a whole year together. And she was sure that this was just the beginning. She loved him and she knew he was the one.
A year before they had only just met, but even then they both knew this was something special. It had survived the months of separation and now they were on the verge of being in the same place for an entire year. In truth, they had only just begun to know each other, but it felt to them both as if their relationship was long-established, such was the ease and comfort they had with one another. It would never be easy; their careers and different nationalities would always put up obstacles, but at that moment Magnus felt – no, he knew –that it would be alright. He had always scoffed at people who spoke about their ‘other half’, but now he understood fully what they meant. When he had been without her, in Ystad, he had nearly allowed those difficulties to stop him, but sitting there he knew he was doing the right thing, because now they were together like this he felt complete; a whole man. A better man than he had been before they met.
As he watched her preparing their meal it occurred to Magnus that this was domestic bliss: it didn’t really matter where you were, as long as you were with the person you loved. Caroline put the finishing touched to the salads and brought them over, returning to the kitchen for two beers. She sat and they clinked in a wordless toast; a sip each and then their hands reached out across the table to join. They both watched as their fingers wove into one another’s. This was the real beginning for them; from now on, they would be one.
HEY THAT’S NO WAY TO SAY GOODBYE
I loved you in the morning
Our kisses deep and warm
Your hair upon the pillow
Like a sleepy golden storm
Many loved before us
I know that we are not new
In city and forest
They smile like me and you
Now it’s come to distances
And both of us must try
Your eyes are soft with sorrow
Hey that’s no way to say goodbye
I’m not looking for another
As I wander in my time
Walk me to the corner
Our steps will always rhyme
You know that my love goes with you
As your love stays with me
It’s just the way it changes
Like the shoreline and the sea
Let’s not talk of love or change
Or things we can’t untie
Your eyes are soft with sorrow
Hey that’s no way to say goodbye