Her Royal Bodyguard(12)

By: Natasha Moore

Rosa waved away her thanks. “You are family,” she said. Her eyes sparkled. “Now where is the ring?”

“What?” People were always deferential to Angelina. They were polite. Courteous. People didn’t demand things from the princess of Mezzano.

Rosa reached out and grasped Angelina’s left hand. “The ring. Let me see.”

She resisted the urge to snatch her hand away. She had to remember she wasn’t the princess of Mezzano now. She’d known Rico’s aunt would want to see the ring, just not that she would presume it was permissible to grab her like that.

“It’s not what I expected,” Rosa said, pulling her hand closer and bending over, her nose almost touching Angelina’s knuckles. “Not the usual wedding ring.”

“My Lucia is not a usual woman,” Rico said. He came through the doorway with the bags. They bumped against the walls as he tried to avoid the sofas and chairs scattered around the space. And now that he was in the room with them, it suddenly felt smaller. Warmer.

“She was not what I expected either,” Rico added. He flashed Angelina a little smile.

Rosa finally released Angelina’s hand. “Well, the diamond is a nice size, I’ll give you that. But the ring looks too big for her delicate finger.” She frowned at her nephew. “You should have had it sized.”

Rico slapped his hand over his heart. “Tia. We did not want to wait for the time it would have taken.”

His aunt laughed. “My impetuous nephew.” She glanced at Angelina. “You must be careful. It would be terrible to lose your ring. How long are you staying? We have a wonderful jeweler in town. If you drop it off today, they may be able to have it sized for you before you leave.”

Angelina clasped her hand over the ring. “I couldn’t bear to give it up just yet. When we get back,” she added with a small smile. “I’ll be careful.”

Rosa shook her head slowly, indulgently. “When did he tell you he loved you for the first time?”

Angelina’s gaze flew to Rico’s. They hadn’t covered that scenario. This situation was calling for more improvisation than she’d expected. Rico stepped forward, brought her hand to his lips and placed a small, dry kiss to her knuckles.

“I told her I loved her on the day that we met,” he murmured. The sincere way he said it had her almost believing it.

Nervous laughter bubbled up. She couldn’t stop it. “Yes,” she whispered. “Love at first sight.”

Deep laughter interrupted them. Rico dropped her hand and turned around. A rotund man step into the room. His salt and pepper hair was cut close to his scalp and he wore a stained white apron tied around his middle, emphasizing his girth even more. The lines creasing his face told Angelina he laughed often.

“Love at first sight?” he scoffed. “Isn’t my nephew too old for such fairytales?”

“Giuseppe!” Rosa cried. “This is Rico’s bride, Lucia. Are you saying that he should not have fallen in love with her?”

“Bah! Fall in love, yes. But not at first sight.” His eyes lit up as he turned to Angelina and he was betrayed by the small lift of his lips. “Although with such beauty, how could any man resist?” He bowed and took her hand, kissed the tips of her fingers. Then he yanked her forward and wrapped his arms around her. “Welcome to the family.” He kissed both her cheeks.

“Thank you.” Angelina’s face burned. Would she ever get used to such a demonstrative family? Her family loved her. She had no doubt of that, but they didn’t swoop or grab or crush. The royal family was much more reserved.

But she was not really a member of this family. Shame at deceiving them caused her to blush again. She eased out of Giuseppe’s embrace and turned to Rico with a silent plea.

“I fear my bride is tired from our journey,” Rico said. “If you can point us in the right direction…”

“Of course,” Rosa said, but she didn’t move. Her eyes were bright with tears, her grin large in her thin face. “I’m so happy you wanted to come here.”

“Breakfast will be on the table as soon as you are ready,” his uncle added. He shrugged. “I may have been cooking and baking all morning.”

“Lucia has a fondness for biscotti,” Rico said.

“Of course, she does,” Giuseppe replied. “Could there be anyone in Mezzano who does not like biscotti?”

“No one I know of,” Angelina said with a smile.

“Are they here yet?” Footsteps running down the stairs at the back of the lobby preceded a young woman with short, curly hair in faded jeans and a white blouse. “Rico!” She practically leapt in the air to throw her arms around his neck. “I can’t believe you got married.”