“I should have been a fucking actress,”
Tove mused bitterly as we sat in this crappy fast food joint at the bus station. She had been faking being drunk that night, she hadn’t even told Daniel yet – she still hasn’t – and couldn’t think of a plausible explanation for not drinking. “It was either pretend or try to convince you all I was on anti-psychotic medication or something,” she said. “Would you have bought it?”
I grinned that I might have, and she laughed, then the smile kind of slipped off her face like it remembered it wasn’t supposed to be there. She hadn’t told Daniel because she didn’t know what she was going to do. She had never wanted to be a mother, though she knew that Daniel wanted kids; she was hoping to have another couple of years to work out how exactly you compromise on that one. Then she backtracked, said she had known what she was going to do, just didn’t know whether it was necessary or cruel to tell Daniel.
“Then Hanna…” her eyes filled with tears and she impatiently blinked them away. “The deadline slipped by and Hanna would find it fucking hilarious that she is the reason my body and my life will be ruined.” I squeezed her hand, pointed out that if it was a girl she could call it Hanna and every time she was naughty over the next 10 or 20 years she would have the satisfaction of yelling at Hanna. Tove smiled again, said she was glad I was there. “Daniel will be a good father,” she added. “It will have a good parent 50 per cent of the time. That’s better than many children get.”
Oh no. “Fifty per cent, as in shared custody?” I asked. “Is there no way back for you guys?” Tove said she didn’t know yet, that she couldn’t imagine a future without Daniel in it, but that cheating was the one thing she always said she could never, ever, forgive. She had deleted Hanna from Facebook in a fit of impotent rage after Daniel broke down and confessed. She knew it was pointless and stupid, but how else do you lash out at your friend who betrayed you when she is lying in the morgue?
“I came to see you at work about von Dursen,” she abruptly changed the subject. Teeny Shorts Thomas had said, “a few weeks ago” – I hadn’t even clicked that it could have been after Hanna’s death.
The von Dursen family are client’s of Tove’s firm. Tove didn’t know that when Hanna was dating him because she didn’t deal with them. She went to work the Monday after it happened, because she thought she would go crazy sitting around the apartment, but once there she couldn’t concentrate and ended up doing filing all day to keep herself mindlessly occupied. She had come across the von Dursen file, and. remembering his connection to Hanna, pulled it out.
A cousin had disgraced the family by going wild on drugs at college in New York in the 90s, and the ‘elder statesman’ had then tied up the eye watering inheritances of the rest of the kids, with a clause that if any of them had a whisper of drug use about then, they could kiss their tens of millions of kronor goodbye.
“Hanna knew about von Dursen’s drug problem.” She’d told Tove some story about sitting in a swanky hotel room filing her nails while he ran around ranting and raving, off his head. Tove could get into major trouble at work for reading the file, but couldn’t stop wondering if there was any possibility he had somehow arranged to silence her, and so had come to confide in me on neutral ground before taking any further action.
“He would have hired someone,” she said. “He is stupid, but he has a nasty streak and may be desperate at the thought of having to earn an actual living.” I pointed out that Ida knew about it too – she told me and Anders – and now everybody at the memorial. Surely von Dursen wasn’t going to go around hiring hitmen for most of Stockholm society. Tove said it would be just like Hanna to have teased him about it, thought it was funny to claim she was going to blackmail him or something.
I hugged her and told her to take care of herself, and as I got back on the bus, made mental notes that I needed to talk to Ida, and to Fritjof again.
Maybe I’m turning out to be not such a bad little Columbo after all.