Hi guys, we have Ingela Bohm popping in today with her upcoming release The Seventh Flower, we have a brilliant guest post and a great excerpt, so check out the post and enjoy! <3 ~Pixie~
The Seventh Flower
Christer is too old to believe in fairy tales. He’s not the kind of guy to pick the proverbial seven flowers on Midsummer’s Eve so he can dream of who he will marry, and he certainly isn’t the type to fall for someone he’s just met. Especially not a womanizing blogger named Henrik.
Besides, Christer’s previous marriage didn’t end with a happily ever after. Therefore he has no interest in gifting his heart to someone who lives five hundred miles away and probably isn’t even gay. His family is right: it’s time he grew up and stopped dreaming.
But Midsummer’s Eve in Sweden is a magical night, and Henrik won’t stop flirting. As the midnight sun shines down on the misty woods, maybe there’s room for one last dream.
A summer bird in the dead of winter
When I look out of my window today, the entire world is covered in snow. At a time like this, it’s hard to imagine that in just four months, it will be June and the midnight sun will shine throughout the night.
But in this wealth of white, my new novella The Seventh Flower will be released, like a ray of sun in the darkness and a whiff of summer scents on the February breeze. To set the scene, I compiled a small video – a postcard of sorts – that hopefully captures the heart of Swedish summer. In this magical land of beauty and calm, Christer and Henrik meet for the first time. The story takes place in a tiny Swedish village where the only sounds you can hear are the birds, the mosquitoes, and the wind in the trees.
When I look at Henrik again, his eyes are a soft brown. The afternoon sun pierces them like amber—real amber, the fossil resin with tiny bits of leaf and insect that glitter in the light. How the hell does a man like him not have plans for Midsummer’s Eve? It’s the most important holiday of the year. Maybe his whole family is dead? Or maybe he hasn’t got any friends?
But he hasn’t mentioned any of that on his blog.
My gaze drops to the garland in his hand. Birch, buttercups, and beaked parsley. For a moment I allow myself to wonder what he might do with that once he gets back home and transforms his experience into that sensual form he’s such a master at. Maybe he’ll place the garland on the skogsrå or a vittra, those seductive forest fairies that seemingly exist only to lure stupid men away from civilization. Perhaps his narrator follows the white-clad vittra to her hollow under the ground and is lost forever in her bewitching caresses.
Henrik shifts beside me, and I’m brought back to the present. “Um…,” I force out because that’s the most intelligent thing I can think of. My mouth and my mind have combined to impersonate the Sahara.
“Well, this is nice.” Henrik smiles awkwardly. Something in his face has hardened, almost as if he’s smelled something disgusting.
Oh. Oh shit. At once I remember to take a step back. We’ve shaken hands, so I don’t need to stand quite so close. We’re outside, so that’s good; there’s a faint breeze to carry away the worst, but you never know. Maybe he’s got the nose of an Alsatian.
Not that he needs one where I’m concerned.
“Yes, yes, very nice,” I blurt belatedly. “A bit cold, but it always is on Midsummer’s Eve, isn’t it? I mean, perhaps not where you’re from—I mean, where are you from?” I almost slip up and mention his hometown, but I screech to a stop in time.
“Uppsala.” And again, that smile. It seems to be his default setting. It’s not exactly happy, but definitely not sad either. It’s nothing like his professional smile in the photos. It’s… enigmatic. My stomach bottoms out at the thought. I don’t need enigmatic in my life. I need concrete and proof and day-to-day and boredom. Like I had with Rolf.
“But I do love the countryside,” Henrik adds.
“Not a lot of flowers here, though,” I point out, and immediately want to shoot myself. Flowers! What the hell did I bring that up for? Now he’ll know that I know.
But Henrik’s eyebrows rise a little, and then he shrugs. “Guess not.”
I indicate the garland in his hand. “So… not much material for that around here, I’m afraid.”
Henrik laughs. “Not as much as in Uppsala, that’s for sure.”
I smile. Uppsala is a hundred kilometers south of here. When summer arrives down there, the north is still covered with a crumbling layer of snow.
Henrik holds up the garland and purses his lips. “Buttercups and beaked parsley. That’s all I found.”
“It looks nice.”
“Yeah… not nearly enough for putting under your pillow, though, is it? How do you manage?”
I’m momentarily stunned by hearing a forty-something man refer to the tradition of putting seven flowers under your pillow to dream about the person you’re meant to marry. That stuff is for teenagers, the same kind of people who pluck petals off daisies, chanting loves me, loves me not. Middle-aged men don’t waste their time on such frivolities.
Henrik grins at me. “Did you ever do that? As a child, I mean.”
I blush. “I guess I did.” I’m actually sure that I did. I remember Felicia forcing me to accompany her when she was fourteen and I was eleven. It was here, in the woods around our cabin. She was mooning over some boy called Göran and wanted the flowers so she could dream they’d be married one day. In the end she dreamed about our sixty-year-old neighbor, and everyone teased her for weeks.
“And did you find seven distinct species?”
“Hm?” I meet Henrik’s golden brown gaze. “Oh….” I smile at his scientific way of expressing himself. “‘Distinct species’?”
He makes a face. “Jargon, sorry. What would normal people say? Types, kinds?”
“Species is fine,” I assure him. “And the answer is… yes and no. I remember we’d had a really cold spring, so we probably had to settle for a few compromises in the end.”
Henrik waves the garland a little. “So my two measly varieties are a triumph?”
“It’s nothing short of miraculous,” I deadpan.
“Wow….” Henrik frowns at the mostly birch thing in his hand. “I wonder if I’d even have thought of becoming a botanist if I hadn’t lived in the south.”
“Oh, so you’re a botanist?” The question almost sounds natural.
But Henrik’s jaw flexes slightly, as if he’s bracing himself for something. “Go ahead.”
I have no idea what he means.
“A botanist who lives in Uppsala,” he says pointedly.
“Oh…. Oh.” I shrug. “You get that a lot?”
“My friends even call me Linnaeus.”
I can’t help laughing. “You need to invest in a white wig.”
He runs a hand through his chestnut locks. “You mean I don’t look like the Prince of Botanists?”
“You look better.”
Seriously? Flirting? I half look away in case he freaks out, but he doesn’t. “Hotter than a two hundred and fifty-year-old corpse, check.”
I swallow down panic. I need to keep talking, and I need to stop. I’m going to make a fool of myself. The evening is long, oh God, I’m going to get tipsy, and I’m going to tell him I’m his biggest fan, all that crap. And I know he’s straight. Unless he’s bi, but that would be like winning the lottery and finding the cure for cancer on the same day—not possible, if you don’t have karma the size of Lapland.
Which I don’t. After leaving school, my life has been boring, predictable, and quite nice. Nothing to warrant an upheaval like Henrik fucking Fjellner being bi and taking a fancy to me.
Ingela Bohm lives in an old cinema, tucked away in a northern Swedish forest where she can wander around all day long and dictate her books. She used to dream of being an actor until an actual actor asked, “Do you really need to do it?” That’s when she realized that the only thing she really needed to do was to write. She has since pretended to be a dietician, a teacher, a receptionist and a cook, but only to conceal her real identity.
Her first imaginary friend was called Grabolina and lived in her closet. Nowadays she has too many imaginary friends to count, but at least some of them are out of the closet. Her men may not be conventionally handsome, but they can charm your pants off, and that’s all that matters.
Ingela’s more useless talents include reading tarot cards, killing pot plants and drawing scandalous pictures that no one gets to see. She can’t walk in heels and she’s stopped trying, but she has cycled 12 000 miles in the UK and knows which campsites to avoid if you don’t like spiders. If you see her on the train you will wonder what age she is.
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