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  dramathathadbeenplayingoutaroundmillennium

  theyhadlunchtogetherblomkviststoleasidelongglanceatpernillahehadnotseenhisdaughtersincesheturneduptovisithiminhedestadherealisedthathehadfailedtodiscusshermaniaforthatsectinskellefte?withhermotherhecouldnottellthemthatitwashisdaughter’sobviouslyprofoundknowledgeofthebiblethathadsethimontherighttrackregardingharrietvanger’sdisappearancehehadnottalkedtohisdaughtersincethen

  hewasnotagoodfather

  hekissedhisdaughtergoodbyeafterthelunchandmetsalanderatslussentheywentouttosandhamntheyhadnotseenmuchofeachothersincethemillenniumbombexplodedtheyarrivedlateonchristmaseveandstayedfortheholidays

  blomkvistwasentertainingpany,asalways,butsalanderhadanuneasyfeelingthathewaslookingatherwithanespeciallyoddexpressionwhenshepaidbacktheloanwithachequefor120,000kronor

  theytookawalktotrovillandback(whichsalanderconsideredawasteoftime),hadchristmasdinnerattheinn,andwentbacktothecabinwheretheylitafireinthewoodstove,putonanelviscd,anddevotedthemselvestosomeplainoldsexwhensalanderfromtimetotimecameupforair,shetriedtoanalyseherfeelings

  shehadnoproblemwithblomkvistasalovertherewasobviouslyaphysicalattractionandhenevertriedtotutorher

  herproblemwasthatshecouldnotinterpretherownfeelingsforhimnotsincebeforereachingpubertyhadsheloweredherguardtoletanotherpersongetsocloseasshehadwithhimtobequitehonest,hehadatryingabilitytoperateherdefencesandtogethertotalkaboutpersonalmattersandprivatefeelingseventhoughshehadenoughsensetoignoremostofhisquestions,shetalkedaboutherselfinawaythatshewouldnever,evenunderthreatofdeath,haveimagineddoingwithanyotherpersonitfrightenedherandmadeherfeelnakedandvulnerabletohiswill

  atthesametime—whenshelookeddownathisslumberingformandlistenedtohimsnoring—shefeltthatshehadneverbeforeinherlifehadsuchatrustinanotherhumanbeingsheknewwithabsolutecertaintythatmikaelwouldneverusewhatheknewabouthertohurtheritwasnotinhisnature

  theonlythingtheyneverdiscussedwastheirrelationshiptoeachothershedidnotdare,andblomkvistneverbroachedthesubject

  atsomepointonthemorningoftheseconddayshecametoaterrifyingrealisationshehadnoideahowithadhappenedorhowshewassupposedtocopewithitshewasinloveforthefirsttimeinherlife

  thathewasalmosttwiceheragedidnotbotherhernordidthefactthatatthemomenthewasoneofthemostnewsworthypeopleinsweden,andhispicturewasevenonthecoverofnewsweek—thatwasalljustsoapoperabutblomkvistwasnoeroticfantasyordaydreamitwouldhavetoetoanenditcouldnotpossiblyworkoutwhatdidheneedherfor?maybeshewasjustawaytopassthetimewhilehewaitedforsomeonewhoselifewasnotafuckingrathole

  whatshehadrealisedwasthatlovewasthatmomentwhenyourheartwasabouttoburst

  whenblomkvistwokeuplatethatmorning,shehadmadecoffeeandbeenouttobuybreakfastrollshejoinedheratthetableandnoticedatoncethatsomethinginherattitudehadchanged—shewasabitmorereservedwhenheaskedherifanythingwaswrong,shegavehimaneutral,unprehendinglook

  onthefirstdaybetweenchristmasandnewyear’s,blomkvisttookthetrainuptohedestadhewaswearinghiswarmestclothesandhisproperwintershoeswhenfrodemethimatthestationandquietlycongratulatedhimonthemediasuessitwasthefirsttimesinceaugustthathehadvisitedhedestad,anditwasalmostexactlyoneyearagosincehehadvisiteditforthefirsttimetheychattedpolitely,buttherewasalsoagreatdealthathadgoneunsaidbetweenthem,andblomkvistfeltunfortable

  everythinghadbeenprepared,andthebusinesswithfrodetookonlyafewminutesfrodeofferedtodepositthemoneyinaconvenientforeignbankaount,butblomkvistinsistedthatitshouldbepaidlikeanormal,legitimatefeetohispany

  “ican’taffordanyothertypeofpayment,”hesaidcurtlywhenfrodepersisted

  thepurposeofhisvisitwasnotsolelyfinancialblomkvisthadleftclothes,s,andanumberofhisownthingsinthecottagewhenheandsalanderhadabandonedhedebyingreathaste

  vangerwasstillfrailafterhisillness,buthewasathomehewasbeinglookedafterbyaprivatenurse,whorefusedtoallowhimtotakelongwalks,orwalkupstairs,ordiscussanythingthatmightupsethimduringtheholidayshehadalsoedownwithaslightcoldandwasorderedtobed

  “besideswhich,she’sexpensive,”vangerplained

  blomkvistknewthattheoldmancouldaffordanysuchexpense—consideringhowmanykronorhehadwrittenoffhistaxesallhislifevangergavehimasullenlookuntilhestartedlaughing

  “whatthehell,youwerewortheverykronaiknewyouwouldbe”

  “totellyouthetruth,ineverthoughti’dsolveit”

  “ihavenointentionofthankingyou,”vangersaid

  “ididn’texpectyouwouldi’mjustheretotellyouthaticonsiderthejobdone”

  vangercurledhislips“youhaven’tfinishedthejob,”hesaid

  “iknowthat”

  “youhaven’twrittenthevangerfamilychronicle,whichwasagreed”

  “iknowthati’mnotgoingtowriteitinfact,ican’twriteitican’twriteaboutthevangerfamilyandleaveoutthemostcentraleventofthepastdecadeshowcouldiwriteachapteraboutmartin’speriodasceoandpretendthatidon’tknowwhat’sinhisbasement?ialsocan’twritethestorywithoutdestroyingharriet’slifealloveragain”

  “iunderstandyourdilemma,andi’mgratefulforthedecisionthatyou’vemade”

  “congratulationsyou’vemanagedtocorruptmei’mgoingtodestroyallmynotesandthetaperecordingsi’vemadeofourconversations”

  “idon’tthinkthatyou’vebeencorrupted,”vangersaid

  “that’swhatitfeelslikeandithinkthat’swhatitis”

  “youhadtochoosebetweenyourroleasajournalistandyourroleasahumanbeingicouldneverhaveboughtyoursilenceandi’mquitecertainthatyouwouldhaveexposedusifharriethadturnedoutinsomewaytohavebeenimplicated,orifyouthoughtiwasacretin”

  blomkvistdidnotreply

  “we’vetoldceciliathewholestoryfrodeandiwillsoonbegone,andharrietisgoingtoneedsupportfromsomeoneinthefamilyceciliawillplayanactiveroleontheboardsheandharrietwillbeinchargeofthefirmfromnowon”

  “howdidshetakeit?”

  “shewasveryshakenshewentabroadforawhileiwasevenafraidshewouldn’teback”

  “butshedid”

  “martinwasoneofthefewpeopleinourfamilythatceciliaalwaysgotalongwithitwasveryhardforhertofindoutthetruthabouthimshealsoknowsnowwhatyoudidforthefamily”

  blomkvistshrugged

  “sothankyou,mikael,”vangersaid

  “besides,icouldn’twritethestorybecausei’vehadituptoherewiththevangerfamilybuttellme,howdoesitfeeltobeceoagain?”

  “it’sonlytemporary,but…iwishiwereyoungeri’monlyworkingthreehoursadayallthemeetingsareheldinthisr

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