She laughs at me.

I’ve got it all wrong.

Of course I have. But who cares, doesn’t matter, just keep her talking.

Very soon, Nadja said. The local police car she was sending to the stuga to make sure Anders was okay. How long ago was that? Where are they? Any second. Just keep her talking. Edge closer to Anders. His chest is moving, he’s breathing, but he is unconscious. How will I get him out of here? One step at a time, just get to him. The police will be here by then.

She was Jenny’s friend, from way back, since they were kids. Like Anders and Daniel. Old friends, best friends; they grew up, their lives went in different directions, new friends didn’t mix, but they were always there for each other. Until Jenny met Anders. And fell for him, hard; that too cool for school, take him or leave him act was just that. She felt inadequate, this kind, strong, fireman-to-be who spent his days saving lives while she put on fancy clothes and persuaded people to go to parties. Daniel didn’t approve, his girlfriend at the time treated her as though she was stupid, even Hanna who Jenny brought along to meet them in the hopes of having an ally managed to balance her party life with intellectual conversations with them and Jenny felt small and insecure and isolated.

I’m nearly at the couch. He stirs. Keep still Anders, don’t make a sound, don’t let her see. She’s still talking, holding the poker for the fire. I’m almost between them.

And then she died, and Tove heard the rumors about Anders and realized she knew of him from work and struck up a conversation. But life intervened, she got to know Anders, discovered how grief-stricken he was about Jenny, fell in love with Daniel, got to be friends with Hanna and thought she was wrong. Abandoned her plans of revenge.

Until she read my blog. Hanna told her about it, asked her advice on whether they should talk to me, apologize, explain they didn’t intend to make me feel the way I did. “Like Jenny all over again.” Von Dursen wasn’t quoting Hanna, but Tove. She blamed herself. She was supposed to have brought them to justice, and instead she stood by, took part even as it happened all over again.

She saw my face as I slipped by them on my way to bed that night, remembered Jenny looking like that, and snapped.

I run at her, shove her over, not thinking straight, just wanting to distract her, get to Anders. But she hits her head on the fireplace, knocks over the blazing candles. The stuga is old, everything wooden.

I grab Anders and heave him off the couch.