Her Royal Bodyguard(14)

By: Natasha Moore

Rico glanced around the courtyard, then stopped Maria before she started up the stairs. “The key?”

Maria frowned, but handed over the key. He scanned the courtyard, the windows and doorways, whatever it was that he looked at when making certain they were safe.

“Wait here,” he said, then climbed the stairs, unlocked the door and slowly pushed it open. Angelina suddenly wondered if he was wearing a gun. She hadn’t felt it while they were pressed up against each other or seen it beneath the light shirt he wore loose, but perhaps it was tucked into the back waistband of his jeans as she’d seen in the movies.

“What is he doing?” Maria asked as they watched him duck inside.

Angelina shrugged, trying to seem nonchalant. She didn’t like the reminders that they were here for her safety, but perhaps it was better to be distracted from the attraction to Rico she could no longer ignore. “He works security. I guess it’s a habit to check everything out to make sure it’s safe.”

“Of course, it’s safe.” Maria rolled her eyes. “Does he do that all the time? All that checking would drive me crazy.”

“It makes me feel protected,” Angelina replied. And she realized it was true. If she had to be in this precarious situation, she was glad she had Rico with her. She knew he would do everything within his power to keep her safe. He could check all the doorways and alleys he wanted to.

“It’s clear.” Rico came back down the stairs and grabbed the bags. He smiled at Angelina. “Come on up. I think you’ll like it.”

Angelina followed Rico up the stairs. To the apartment they were going to share. Just the two of them. His jeans cupped his firm buttocks and when she realized she was staring at his behind, she dragged her eyes away and looked at the pots lining the steps. “These flowers are lovely,” she said.

Maria was coming up behind them. “I’m glad you like them. Papa doesn’t understand, but Mama lets me indulge my love of color and decorating. Someday I’m going to be a famous designer or decorator.”

“Wonderful,” Angelina replied vaguely, surprised by the fervent desire in Maria’s voice. Angelina had never thought of being anything but what she was born to do. Be a proper princess. Get married and have children. Shouldn’t she strive for more than that?

There was a lovely landing at the top of the stairs, large enough to hold a small wrought iron table and two chairs. More flowers sat on the table and in the corners of the landing which was surrounded by an iron railing. She turned to enter the apartment and found Rico standing in the doorway. Blocking it. Taking up all the space. Taking up all the oxygen.

Her legs trembled. Angelina should have known that knees growing weak at the sight of a handsome man was not more than just a tired cliché. It was all she could do not to sink onto one of the chairs in the corner. He silently swept his gaze over her.

“What?” she asked. “Is something wrong?” She glanced over her shoulder, but only saw Maria standing there with a smile on her face, nothing threatening.

“Nothing is wrong, amore.” Then Rico stepped forward and swept her up into his arms. She cried out in surprise and automatically threw her arms around his neck to steady herself.

“Oh, this is too great,” Maria cried. “You’re carrying her over the threshold. Oh, I’m going to cry.”

Again, Angelina felt shame for deceiving Rico’s family, but selfishly, her guilt was surpassed by the thrill of being in Rico’s strong arms. His large hands cupped her intimately and she melted against him. In two long strides, they were inside the bright apartment. She kissed his cheek and whispered, “And you said you weren’t romantic.”

Maria followed them in. “It’s not a big apartment, but I have a feeling you two won’t mind the cozy space. This is the living room, of course, and you can see the dining space is right there. Kitchenette is there and is fully stocked. Papa put staples in the refrigerator but I know they’ll love for you to eat as many meals with us as possible. But don’t feel bad about telling them you want to be alone. They’ll understand.” She crossed the small room to the door at the other end. “The bedroom is through here. Do you want me to bring the bags into the bedroom for you?”

“No,” Rico replied. “Thank you. I’ll take care of them. I appreciate all you’ve done, but I’d like to be alone with my bride now.”

Maria giggled. “Of course. But don’t forget breakfast.” Then she was gone and Angelina was still up in Rico’s arms.