Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font  

Cross your heart and hope to die (Emma Frost #4), Page 3

Willow Rose

  He looked at his own reflection in the full-sized mirror at the end of the bedroom.

  "Mr. Lomholdt," he said.

  He liked to call himself that. Just like he always made the women he slept with call him that. It made him feel important. Like he was somebody. Which he actually was. He was a somebody. Not just anybody.

  Anyone can shoot out a couple of kids, marry some idiot, and have a family. What you've done, Mr. Lomholdt, is extraordinary. It's unique and they'll see it right away. You'll make them feel small and insignificant.

  Jacob laughed out loud while looking at his well-muscled body which he had spent many hours shaping at his private gym on his estate north of Copenhagen. In school he had always been a small guy, but many years of bodybuilding had given him a body many envied. He was muscular and the women liked that. They liked him to be the strong one in bed, they liked him to be in charge. The only thing that bothered him right now was a small pain in the lower part of his back. It had arrived last night and had still been there this morning. It had even made it difficult for him to perform properly with the small Asian girl. It annoyed him.

  Jacob turned his body and looked at his back in the mirror. No, there was nothing to see. Maybe he had just strained a muscle during his workout the day before. That was probably it.

  Looking at what he had accomplished with his body filled him with pride.

  Yes, they were all going to look at him with great envy and desire. That was worth the long trip to the other end of the country. It was worth it just to see it in their eyes.

  Jacob found his most expensive suit and packed it for the dinner, then found another Armani suit and put it on for the arrival. He was going to look his best. Make the girls want him and the guys want to be him.

  He called the chauffeur and told him to get ready to leave in a few minutes, then hung up and stared at his own reflection one last time. Jacob fixed a small straw of hair.

  "There you go. Perfection," he told himself. "Now go up there and dazzle them. Make them want what you have."


  July 2005

  ERIK WOKE UP HAPPY. Maria was lying next to him and he could hear his two daughters playing in their room in the small apartment in Copenhagen. Maria was still asleep and he looked at her while relishing the moment.

  This is it. It doesn't get much better than this. At this moment I have everything.

  He turned his head and looked around at the small bedroom that had been theirs for nearly four years now. That was all about to change. Now they would enter a new phase in their lives. It was about time they said goodbye to their old life.

  Today marks a new beginning.

  The apartment had served them well, though. It was in one of the poorer neighborhoods just outside of town with lots of crime. It was small. Tiny even … and way too small for a family of four. But it had been cheap at the time and that was what they needed when he started up the company. To have as few expenses as possible. They hadn't planned to have children already, but Maria had gotten pregnant by accident soon after they met and, as it turned out, it was twins.

  So here he was. At the age of twenty-five, Erik was a husband, a father of two and a millionaire. He sighed and seized the moment. This was what he had dreamt of. This moment of peace and tranquility, when he knew everything was going to be alright, when he had finally made it big.

  No it wasn't going to get much better than this. Now it was time for them to enjoy what they had accomplished. The world was open to them now and they could do anything. Anything!

  They could go to Disneyworld today if they wanted to. They could buy a huge TV or the biggest teddy bear in the toy store down at the mall. Yes, Erik would finally get to spoil his kids and his wife the way they all deserved and he could finally enjoy the many years of hard work he had put into building his company. This was what everybody dreamed of. To have the freedom to do what they pleased. And it was all his to enjoy.

  If only …

  Erik sighed again and looked at his beloved wife. The girls were fighting about something in the room next door. It wouldn't be long until they came in crying and screaming. Erik smiled and stroked his wife gently across her hair.

  Why can't you just let it go, Erik? No one will ever know if you don't tell. No one needs to know.

  He heard feet in the hallway and soon the door to the bedroom opened. Both girls entered with tears in their eyes.

  "Mooom?" Isabella said.

  "Mooom?" Nanna said. "Bella is being mean."

  Maria opened her eyes slowly and looked at the two girls. "I'll be right there, she said with a tired voice. She had been through so much the last few years. While he had built the company, she had taken care of everything at home. Now it was his turn to help her out. She deserved it.

  "Let me take care of it," Erik said and kissed her.

  Then he jumped out of bed and pretended to be a huge monster. "Here comes the tickling monster!" he yelled.

  The girls screamed loudly and ran out the door followed by Erik who was making grumbling and growling sounds, trying to sound like Sully from Monsters Inc.

  The girls hid in their room and Erik ran after them, grabbed them both and tickled them till they screamed for him to stop. When they had enough and they continued their play, Erik jumped back into bed with his wife and kissed her soft neck, smelled her hair, and lay close to her for as long as he could before they were interrupted once again.

  It was Isabella. "Moom?"

  "Yes sweetie?" Erik said and looked at her to let her know he was taking care of things this morning.

  "There is someone at the door."

  "I'll be right there."

  Erik found his pants and a shirt and walked to the front door. Outside stood the neighbor. She looked upset.

  "Yes? Mrs. Rasmussen? What's wrong?" Asked Erik. "Are you alright? Has something happened?"

  "I … I think your car is on fire. Yours is the old black Toyota, right? I just looked out the window and saw a big fire down in the parking lot. I'm pretty sure it is your car. I called the fire department."

  "What is it, Daddy?" asked Isabella behind Erik's back.

  "Stay here with mommy," he said and stormed down the stairs of the apartment complex.

  He ran out into the parking lot where he saw a huge pillar of fire reaching straight into the air from the spot where he had parked the car the day before. Erik stopped and stared at his old car, his old companion through the last four years, as it was devoured by the greedy flames.

  Erik heard a shriek behind him and turned to see Isabella who had followed him down the stairs.

  "Daddy! Is that our car?"

  He grabbed her in his arms and lifted her up. "Yes, sweetie. It's okay."

  In the distance he could hear the wailing sirens from the approaching fire trucks.

  "Daddy! Our car!" Isabella continued. "Buddy is in there."

  Erik stared at his daughter. Buddy was her favorite teddy-bear. "Buddy was in the car?"

  Isabella was crying loudly now. "Yes, I forgot him in there yesterday."

  Erik pulled his daughter closer and held her tight. "I'm afraid Buddy is gone now. But you know what?"

  Isabella sniffled. "No?"

  "Daddy will buy you a new and much better one. I promise, alright? Maybe a Build-A-Bear like you always wanted. What do you say to that?"

  "But … but they're too expensive. You always say that."

  "Not anymore, sweetheart. From now on, we can afford it."

  "We have money now?"

  Erik laughed. "We have lots of money, sweetheart."

  She sniffled again. He wiped her eyes.

  "So we can buy a new car too?" she asked.

  "We can get a brand new car," he said.

  The fire trucks entered the parking lot flanked by a police car. There was a lot of yelling as the firefighters pulled out the hoses and started spurting water on the remains of the car. The police spoke to Erik and neighbors gathered to watch the scene. Mar
ia and Nanna came down as well, but went back up to the apartment after a few minutes since Nanna thought it was too scary.

  "So when will we get the new car, Daddy?" asked Isabella when they had finally put out the fire and there was nothing left but a small black bundle on the asphalt. It felt symbolic, really. In some way, it marked the ending of their lives as poor people.

  Erik turned around and started walking back to the apartment. "Today, Bella. Let's do it today. What color would you like it to be?"


  December 2013

  I TOOK A TAXI FROM the station to the hotel. The driver was the chatty type who never stopped talking as we drove out of the small town. I watched with joy as the old houses passed my window. They were so beautifully painted in the yellow that was so distinctive to Skagen.

  The town was literally situated at the tip of the country and had water on each side of it. It was a peninsula and it marked the end of Denmark. On the other side of the ocean were Sweden and Norway. I had been to Skagen once before as a child, but other than that, the place had always been a mystery to me. It was known to be Denmark's main fishing port and also had a thriving tourist industry, attracting some two million people annually. It was also known to have attracted a lot of artists, the so-called Skagen-painters which was a group of Scandinavian artists who visited the area every summer from the late 1870s until the turn of the century. They were attracted by the scenery, the fishermen and the quality of light which encouraged them to paint en plein air following the example of the French Impressionists. I remember learning about them in school … that they broke away from the rigid traditions of the Danish and Swedish art academies, preferring the modern trends they had experienced in Paris. In recent years, Skagen was also known as a place that attracted the younger part of the royal family who would summer there every now and then along with the jet-set of the country.

  "So Brinkloev Badehotel, huh?" the driver asked curiously and looked at me in his rearview mirror. "That's a nice place to stay."

  "I know," I said, knowing it was usually way out of my league financially, even if my three books were very successful.

  We drove for fifteen minutes while the driver kept talking about how this time of year was very quiet up there and business was bad, since tourists came in the summer to see the light and visit the tip where you could actually stand in the sand and have two oceans, Kattegat and the North Sea, on each side of you. You could even see out into the water where the two oceans met. It was called Grenen, the branch.

  I knew most of what he had told me and knew I had tried to stand there as a child, but I couldn't remember much about it. I nodded my interest and looked out the window as we drove through a huge plantation. Nothing but bushes and trees for a long stretch.

  "It's a long way out," I said.

  And a long way back.

  The trees were large and dark. There was something very sinister about it. I shivered faintly.

  "Brinkloev is located behind the plantation, in the dunes right out by the ocean. Very nice," the driver said.

  I felt a tickling sensation in my stomach as we finally put the plantation behind us and I spotted a huge old building in the distance. I had seen pictures of the hotel on the Internet but none of them did it justice. It was gorgeous. Illuminated by the sun that was so rare at this time of year, I had my first glimpse of the hotel that seemed to stretch along the coast as far as I could see. It was an old building, made entirely from wood, looking very similar to an old farm, but it was beautifully maintained and had a modern touch to it with its hundreds of big windows facing the ocean. As the driver parked on the gravel outside, I looked at the building and hoped I would get one of those rooms under the roof with the windows facing the ocean.

  "Enjoy your stay," the driver said as I paid him and got out of the car.

  Two bell-boys in uniform came out and grabbed my suitcase. I thought it was a bit of overkill to have two of them with only my one small suitcase.

  I went inside and approached the counter. A tall clerk looked at me with a smile. "Name please?"

  I opened my mouth to speak, but someone beat me to it.

  "Emma Frost!" a voice said behind me.

  I turned my head and looked into the eyes of Jacob Lomholdt wearing a very expensive suit. He looked great and as annoying as ever. I had never liked the guy and had kind of hoped he wouldn't show up. But there he was. Standing in front of me with a smirk, looking like he wanted me to comment on his appearance.

  "Jacob," I said and gave him an awkward hug. "You look great."

  "So, how have you been, Emma? You look great too. I haven't had time to read your books, unfortunately, but I hear they're doing well?"

  I smiled. "Yes. They're doing pretty good. I can't complain. And you?"

  "Oh, you don't want to hear about that," he said.

  He had no idea how right he was. I knew he wanted me to ask more, but I didn't. I really didn't want to talk to him.

  "Well it looks like you've done pretty well for yourself as well," I said and received my key from the clerk.

  "To the right up the stairs and to your left," he said.

  "Thanks," I said.

  "I can't complain either," Jacob said with a smirk. He had always been a pompous bastard and growing up had only made it worse as far as I could tell.

  "Well I'll find my room, then catch you later," I said hoping to get away from him.

  "Sure," he said and received his key as well.

  "Lunch is served at 12.30 in The Yellow Room as we call the smaller of our two restaurants," the clerk said.

  "Guess I'll see you then," Jacob said.

  "Guess so," I said, hoping I would be placed as far away from him as possible during lunch.


  December 2013

  FINISHING THE ACUTE PATIENT TOOK longer than expected and Preben Krogh had to drive very fast in order to make it to Skagen before lunch. He didn't mind though. He enjoyed listening to the motor roar on his new BMW that he had bought just a month ago. Business had been good the last several years and he hardly ever spent any money on vacations and other stuff that drained your account. Instead, he liked to buy himself a muscle-car every now and then and see how fast it could go on the narrow Danish roads in the countryside.

  The road in front of him was wide open. Not a car in sight. Nothing but hills and a few turns. Preben accelerated and listened to the sound of the engine. It was like music to his ears. Better than Bach or that stupid opera that his ex-wife loved so much.

  They had been divorced for a year now and nothing pleased him more. He was sick of her and her mood swings. In the end, it had gotten so bad he never knew which version of her he would come home to. Her doctor told her she was depressed and had given her pills for it. Because she couldn't conceive a child. Preben understood why she was sad, but to be honest, he didn't take part in her grief. He was quite relieved when it turned out they couldn't have children. He had seen how those things had destroyed his friends' lives one after another. No, that wasn't for him. He wanted different things. He wanted to be able to play tennis when he wanted or golf instead of spending the weekend at loud birthday parties with annoying kids screaming his ear off.

  But Lisbeth had wanted it differently. She had asked him if they could adopt, but he had refused.

  "I don't want to have to take care of some one else's kid," he had told her. "It's out of the question."

  After that, things had gone terribly wrong between the two of them. Lisbeth had cried herself to sleep every night and refused to have anything to do with him. She started calling him a heartless bastard and sometimes wouldn't even speak to him for days. After a couple of weeks, Preben had stopped caring. He was happy as long as he got to do what he wanted. It wasn't like he had even loved Lisbeth anyway. No, he had loved someone else for most of his life. But since he couldn't get her, he ended up taking Lisbeth who had worked for him at his clinic. She was pretty, beautiful even, so why not? She was the one who
had wanted to move in together and eventually get married. She was the one who had called his mother and introduced herself as his girlfriend without him knowing it.

  "You weren't going to do it, so I had to take care of it myself," she explained to him afterwards.

  She was the one who wanted all this, she was even the one who had proposed to him and he had replied with a "why not?" But now that she couldn't have it all, it was somehow his fault. So, in the end, she was the one who wanted a divorce as well and that, he was more than happy to give her.

  Now he was free again even though Lisbeth did call him constantly and disturb him. Sometimes she would cry and tell him she missed him, other times she would yell at him and tell him he was a prick. He didn't know which he preferred. Maybe the latter. He couldn't stand it when women cried. If they yelled at him, he knew how to react, but crying made him so uncomfortable.

  Preben drove through the plantation and spotted the hotel in the distance as he cleared the trees. He had really looked forward to this small vacation at the most expensive hotel in the country. But it wasn't the prospect of spending time in luxurious surroundings that made him drive faster, no it was the prospect of seeing her again. The one that got away.

  Preben pulled into the driveway and passed a black limousine on its way out. He parked in front of the entrance causing the gravel to fly in the air as the tires screeched and he came to a sudden stop, nearly hitting a bell-boy. The bell-boy screamed and stared at Preben through the window with his eyes wide open and torn by fear.

  Preben laughed loudly. He loved to scare people like that. He opened the door and jumped out.

  "Well don't just stand there," he yelled at the boy. "Grab my suitcases."