Prologue, 2004

Midsummer's eve, leaving the garden

Most of them stayed in the garden, but she didn't blame them. Even Swedes got badly drunk during this kind of dinner parties, and most of the guests were from Japan.

Garden. Yes, that was an apt description. But she had held these kind of parties in her previous life, so she knew exactly what to look for this time. A place to create a dream of Sweden. An illusion.

Luckily enough one of their shared acquaintances preferred spending summers in France rather than Sweden, and her home was the perfect match for a midsummer's party with a lot of guests. Christina spent a full day preparing the garden so that it looked more like a rustic paradise than the multimillionaire mingle party area that it really was.

Christina remembered the parties of her first life. More people, and more boring. She wondered what Ulf remembered from his first. Did he even think of that upstream world any longer?

Prologue, 2004

The kidnapping attempt was a disaster. No matter who you were, or in what way you were involved, it was an unmitigated horror.

The idea was to extort knowledge rather than money. Because knowledge was money, at least when it came to knowing how to jack right into Chag's transaction system.

William never planned to siphon money that way. Way too dangerous, and probably impossible. What he did plan was to always be the first who saw the shopping patterns for Chag on-line.

For that he had hired thugs to grab Sophia Hansson, star programmer in TAP with a speciality in data-layer manipulation. Thugs usually came with a lot of muscle and a certain deficiency in the brain department. These were no exceptions.

They mistook the barely thirty year old, damned cute, and rather short programmer for TAP's forty year old CEO. He wasn't cute. He wasn't short, and he sure as hell wasn't without bodyguards. Chag's bodyguards. He probably didn't even know he was watched over.

One thug had an unfortunate date with an SUV and one of the trams Gothenburg was so famous for. All forty tons of it. He would make the evening news, but his sudden lack of legs and associated intestinal damage made certain he never made the morning.

The other thug didn't even make the evening news. As in he was made to disappear. Chag was a roaring dragon. A fashion monster, and make no mistake, monster was the key word here. In just a bit over ten years it had grown from nothing to an empire spanning the globe. Its empress gladly let control of her company slip slowly through her fingers as long as Chag grew sufficiently fast as a result.

TAP wasn't important. TAP delivering what could best be called a fuck-up was. And Chag had decided that no one was about to grab their corporate management when they had decided to make good on their mistakes.

But the car only held their CEO, and his three children.

William swore when he thought of his bad luck. What idiot CEO takes the day off just because his brats have taken ill?

William swore once more. How was he to know that the system TAP delivered was so riddled with security holes that he could actually have planted a trojan inside it and diverted money wherever he wanted?

How could he have known that the missing thug had brought a handgun.

The news said that a daughter of the Hammargren family was badly hurt. Life-threatening even. And that the CEO, Ulf Hammargren, was unconscious, but otherwise in no danger.

How could he have known? He couldn't. He could just as well have guessed that vengeance had found him.

“Good morning William.”


“This is the gun your hired muscle used.”

A 9 mm parabellum bullet made morning into night in an instant.

Chapter six
Book two, chapter one

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