Bjorn first turned up as Julian's friend-with-benefits and fellow backing dancer in I Should Be So Lucky.
This is the first scene with Bjorn. It's narrated by Julian, who is one of the point of view characters of I Should Be So Lucky:
And yes, if I’m being one hundred percent honest, I had slept with some of the other male dancers. One of them, Bjorn, was still my go-to at the end of the night if we’d both failed to pick up someone new. ‘It’s only sex’ we had both agreed numerous times. The first time Bjorn came over to my place to talk pensions—I had a private one, and he needed someone to talk him through the basics because he didn’t understand them—we ended up in bed together, and it had continued from there.
Now, I was backstage, watching the warm-up act—some girl group trying to sing live and failing miserably. Meow.
Familiar hands reached around my waist, and a pair of equally familiar lips planted a kiss on my neck. I turned to kiss him back.
Bjorn—blond, Swedish, full of Viking genes, square-jawed and bulging with muscles, with a wide grin—kissed me back. “Nervous?”
“First night of Sallie’s biggest tour in ten years, us on for every costume change and no understudies? Piece of piss.”
The opening of the concert involved Bjorn and I carrying Sallie—sitting on a gold throne and wearing a crown and an ermine cape—on stage. She started by singing one of her cheesy eighties hits. Naturally, the whole audience knew every word and sang along.
Next time Bjorn turned up was in The Regiment of Majestic Gays. This isn't a pure romance, it's more gay fiction with elements of romance. It's an ensemble book, focused on Kieran's birthday. It takes place over a weekend where Kieran's friends from university arrive, with boyfriends, husbands, and single. Bjorn arrives single - because he doesn't do boyfriends. It starts with a prologue and the men at university. Bjorn and Julian had a friends-with-benefits arrangement even in their twenties.
2002—London, the last day of term at university
“Here’s to our futures!” Julian held his glass of wine aloft and looked round the assembled group of his friends.
“Whatever they may hold,” Kieran added. “Now, promise me none of you will change.”
This was met with peals of laughter, particularly from Bjorn—standing by the bar and chatting up the barman, who hadn’t realised Bjorn was doing anything of the sort. Bjorn handed his phone number over and joined his friends at the table.
“No luck?” David asked, brushing his hands through his spiky, highlighted, blond hair.
“With time, I could persuade him. But—” Bjorn shrugged. “Why waste time?”
“When are you two going to just admit it and start going out with each other?” Kieran had always wondered why, when they ended up in each other’s beds six times out of ten, Bjorn and Julian didn’t simply start dating.
“Boring!” Bjorn said. “Why do I want the same man to come home to night after night?” He tensed his chest muscles and tried to make his pecs dance beneath his tight muscle-fit T-shirt.
Most of The Regiment of Majestic Gays is set in 2016, when Kieran turns 36. Bjorn arrives and watches his friends discuss issues with their relationships, or lack thereof. Yet he is very happy being single.
His friends from the gym often asked him if he had a boyfriend, commenting that a good-looking guy like him could have his pick.
“And I do, and very often,” would be Bjorn’s reply.
Although he’d said he had never had a boyfriend when asked earlier, he’d told a little white lie. Not to protect his friends’ feelings, but to protect his own.
Bjorn had had one relationship, albeit briefly, while at uni in the late-nineties.
While writing this I hadn't thought too deeply about Bjorn's back story or his emotional wound. Since, although he's a larger than life character, he'd only ever been a supporting cast character to the other main characters' stories.
However, when I wrote this, suddenly, *out of nowhere* I realised why Bjorn had taken his casual sex, I'm Bjorn Fly Me attitude to not having a boyfriend. And just like that, Fabian (who was absolutely splendid fun to write) arrived on the horizon of my unconscious, fully formed and more than a match for Bjorn.
Bjorn had been early for one of his History of Dance lectures and was staring at his mobile phone when a man appeared next to him.
“Can I sit here?” he asked in a soft, slightly feminine-sounding voice.
“Yes,” Bjorn replied, not even looking up from his phone and already irritated at being interrupted.
“You always sit here. I’ve seen you. You don’t talk to anyone else.”
That was all true, as Bjorn chose to sit right at the back of the large lecture theatre, furthest from the door, in the knowledge that few people would bother coming that far and would therefore leave him alone.
“No,” Bjorn said, still not looking up from his phone and getting more annoyed by the conversation.
“Fabian,” the man said, holding out his hand.
“I need to read. I did not prepare for this. I read now.” Bjorn frantically opened his laptop and loading last week’s lecture notes, still not even looking in the direction of the other man. If he continued to do that, Bjorn felt sure the irritating man would leave. It usually worked with other people, he’d found.
“I’m kind of here as a dare. My girlfriend dared me to talk to you. She said no one else ever talks to you. And that I couldn’t. When I say girlfriend, I mean friend who’s a girl. Because obviously, I’m not into girls that way. As you can see.” After a sigh, he said, “Sorry, you can’t see cos you’ve still not looked at me. I didn’t think you’d really be this rude. But I guess Clare was right. I lose the bet.” And then, without saying anything else, the man closed the lid of Bjorn’s laptop.
Bjorn turned in his seat wearily. “What do you want?”
“I wanted you to look at me. I guessed that would make you. Besides, I’m on a dare, so I dared myself to do it. And hey presto!”
“What is this presto?” Bjorn asked, taking in the young, slim man with short, mousy-brown hair and deep, dark-brown eyes who was sitting next to him.
“Are you always this hard work?” Fabian put his hand over Bjorn’s, and Bjorn noticed how soft Fabian’s skin was and how hairless the arm attached to the hand was.
Bjorn had left the halls of residence of a guy he’d met on an app in the Students’ Union bar last night. He could practically still feel that man’s lips on his cock, and it had been less than a couple of hours since he’d come. But now, sitting here, in the lecture theatre next to Fabian, Bjorn felt himself stiffen.
Reopening his laptop, Bjorn resolutely turned away, removing Fabian’s hand from his own and focusing on the screen. He wasn’t going to be distracted by this rude man.
Rude. Cute. Man.
The lecturer walked in and everyone fell silent. During the lecture, the lights were turned down so everyone could see the slides on the screen, and despite wanting to walk away from Fabian, Bjorn remained put. He found himself listening to the questions Fabian asked and responding to them. Commenting on the slides and sharing a quiet laugh together. Nothing worth telling anyone about afterwards—most of the jokes were strictly in the ‘you had to be there’ category—but by the end of the lecture, when the lights came up and he found himself holding hands with Fabian underneath the shelf where their laptops rested, Bjorn didn’t want to walk away. Bjorn, and one particular part of him, wanted to stay with Fabian and see where it led them.
He knew where it was likely to lead them; as they walked from the lecture theatre to the main university building, Fabian whispered a few suggestions in Bjorn’s ear about wanting to kiss him.
So, when they reached the Students’ Union bar, Bjorn said, “We go to mine. And then I fuck you.”
Fabian laughed. “Will you now? Well, I’ve already won the dare, so anything from now onwards is a bonus. But, honey, I can tell you now, we’re not going to yours, and you ain’t going to fuck me. I’ll be the one telling you if that’s going to happen.”
“This is what you want, no?” Bjorn was very confused. Why else would someone come on to him so strong and then leave the place where they’d met?
“Let’s have lunch and some drinks.” Fabian grabbed Bjorn’s hand and led him into the Students’ Union where he ordered them both a burger and the cheapest bottle of white wine on the menu.
“What if I am vegetarian?” Bjorn said, shocked when Fabian returned to the table he’d found them in the corner and told him what he’d just ordered.
“You’re not a veggie.” Fabian blinked and smiled. “Not with a body like that.”
And just like that, Bjorn knew he was in so damned much trouble because his heart was fluttering.
Bjorn’s heart didn’t flutter. Bjorn didn’t do fluttering hearts. He did fluttering other parts of the body, when he was using his tongue expertly. But not hearts. Definitely not hearts. But Bjorn’s heart fluttered, and his cock stiffened, and his breathing sped up as they drank the wine, as they ate the burgers.
So once Fabian turned up I knew Bjorn needed his own book to his very own happy ever after. I thought long and hard about the sort of man who'd work for Bjorn, and why Bjorn would give up casual sex, which he loves, to be with one man.
And then, I realised I'd not written a second chance romance and decided that the only man who would ever match up to Bjorn, would be Fabian. Obvs.
So Bjorn's story, as told in Say You'll Be Mine, is his reconnecting with Fabian, finding out why Fabian ghosted him all those years ago, and working out their own special way to a forever relationship.
Fabian's mental health wobbles are basically me. It was pretty emotional to read it again during edits. But I reckon no tears in the author, no tears in the reader, right?
Say You'll Be Mine, is also the first time I've written a happy ever after (and it totally is forever) that includes an open relationship. I know this isn't for some people. But given Bjorn wanting to retain his freedom, and given both their jobs in the entertainment industry, travelling around the world for long periods of time, it felt like the most pragmatic and honest relationship for them to create. I have friends who've been together for years and have an open relationship, and without fail, it's always about setting some clear 'rules' and sticking to them, and maintaining open communication.
Bjorn and Fabian were no different.
Below is when they first meet properly in Say You'll Be Mine.
“You disappeared almost twenty years ago. Poof, and you were gone.” Bjorn couldn’t believe he was having to see this man, never mind discussing all this crap with him. So much for Sallie’s suggestion.
Fabian shook his head in obvious confusion. “When?”
“We were at uni. Both of us.”
Fabian said nothing.
“We dated.” Until they didn’t. Until he’d been left wondering what had happened, and Fabian had disappeared off the face of the earth. Bjorn had moved on. Hurt, but stronger, and resolved never to put himself in that situation again.
“Which uni?” Fabian asked carefully.
“Goldsmiths.” What sort of game is this man playing?
“I left there part way through…” Fabian began and then gradually a look of horror covered his face. “You’re Bjorn.”
“I didn’t come back. I…wasn’t well. I. I went to another uni eventually.” Fabian swallowed.
“Where?” Bjorn found his anger subsiding, his frostiness melting a little. Clearly, Fabian had no memory of what had happened.
“Central. School of Speech and Drama.”
It was, arguably, more prestigious than Goldsmiths and probably explained how Fabian was in a band while Bjorn was still only a backing dancer. God, that was a bitter thought. Bjorn didn’t know what was coming over him.
“Good?” Bjorn asked.
“Better than Goldsmiths. I think. Like I said, I don’t remember much of my time there. Including you, it seems.” Fabian blushed, red rising up his cheeks above his dark, bushy beard.
Bjorn thought how different Fabian looked now. Still the same slight build but a softening around the edges. And the beard and tattoos weren’t what Bjorn would have expected back at uni. But twenty years is a long time. Even he had changed since then. A bit.
Fabian went on, stroking his beard, saying, “It sort of all got too much for me then. I was taken home by my parents. I wasn’t well—” He stopped suddenly as if he wished he hadn’t shared.
“I was worried about you.” Bjorn wanted to say more, but he didn’t want to frighten Fabian away.
“Why?” Fabian swallowed and wiped a stray tear from his cheek.
Bjorn handed him a tissue. “Do not cry. It is not worth crying.”
Fabian took a few minutes to compose himself. “I’m not a hundred per cent at the moment. Sorry. I shouldn’t be telling you. We’ve just met.”
Bjorn put his hand on Fabian’s where it rested on the table. “No, we have not just met. I know you.” Or knew him. He also realised he wanted to get to know Fabian once again. Because whatever had happened meant Fabian had completely forgotten being Bjorn’s boyfriend—forgotten he had left Bjorn—and now he was saying he wasn’t well. Bjorn’s cold heart began to thaw. “What happened?”
These books also link with the Kieran and Kev series, but explaining that can wait for another post!
Hope you've enjoyed this,
Love and light,