Her Royal Bodyguard(59)

By: Natasha Moore

And now he’d had a call from his Tia that just threw a monkey wrench into all his carefully scheduled time for the rest of the week.

Angelina was at her desk having a great time researching wedding dress designers and scheduling appointments for Mia to talk with them, when she was surprised by a request to see Beatrice Santori. Angelina hadn’t been down to the kitchen in years and as she made her way down through the familiar halls, she wondered what Rico’s mother wanted to talk about.

Signora Bea had gotten a little grayer in the past few years, but otherwise she looked just as Angelina remembered. The head cook poured them each a cup of coffee and Angelina joined her at a table in the corner of the dining room.

“I heard from my sister Rosa today,” Beatrice told her after they had exchanged pleasantries. “She said that Maria and her boyfriend are coming here for a visit. They will be staying with Leo and me for a few days.”

“That’s wonderful,” Angelina said. “I like Maria very much. I’d love to see them while they’re here.”

“I’ll let them know. My sister had many nice things to say about you.”

“I liked Rosa very much too.” So quickly, Rico’s aunt had begun to feel like a second mother to Angelina. “She opened up her home to me and was so very gracious, even after she learned we had not been truthful.”

“She wanted me to tell you again that she understood. They all understood the reason for the deception.”

Angelina swallowed down a thick lump in her throat. “It was very difficult to lie to everyone.”

“Yes. You are a good person.” Beatrice hesitantly placed her hand over Angelina’s. “Your Highness, I think I may have done you a disservice.”

“I don’t understand.”

“My sister thinks you and Rico became close while you were in Tuscora. But I can see you are far apart now.”

Angelina felt her face grow warm. She pulled her hand away and picked up the coffee cup. “No. No. We were just pretending.”

“Rosa thinks there was no pretending in the way my Rico looked at you. And the way you looked back at him.”

Tears prickled Angelina’s eyes. She was so tired of the tears. And the lies. She wasn’t going to pretend anymore. “I will admit I grew to have feelings for Rico, but your son was quick to tell me that he didn’t have any feelings for me. That he never would.” She winced as her voice broke.

Beatrice surprised her by getting out of her chair and drawing her into a hug. “I am sorry, Your Highness. I fear that is my fault.”

Angelina eased away and then realized she missed the warm embrace. “Again, I don’t understand.”

Signora Bea sat back down. “I will explain.” She took a drink of coffee while Angelina took her seat again. “When Rico and your brother were young they ran around the palace like two of a kind. You were not born yet so you didn’t see how they did everything together. Because he was such a good friend to the prince, for a long time my Rico was indulged almost as much as Vittorio was. But unfortunately, as they grew older, there had to come a time when Rico could not go where Vittorio went. He could not be treated as Vittorio was. And it hit my son hard when he realized he was not the same as his best friend. That he was not as important. Not equal.”

Angelina hurt for the little boy Rico had been then. “But Rico and Vittorio are still friends.”

“Yes, but not as they were at the beginning. And I admit in order to shield my son from more hurt, I often urged him to remember those differences. To keep the walls up. And when I saw him looking at you, saw the yearning in his eyes, I warned him to stay away from you as well. To build those walls high.”

Could that really be why Rico had pushed her away? “You think he might actually have feelings for me?” Now she sounded like that needy girl again.

Beatrice swept her hand over Angelina’s hair. “Oh, my dear, I know he does.”

“You know he’s old enough now to make his own mistakes” Angelina said. “To decide for himself whether the risk of hurt is worth the rewards.”

“Yes, Your Highness. But he’s been told so often that he was not equal to the royals he grew up with that I fear he may never accept a relationship with you.”

“Then, Signora Bea, I fear you’ve done your son much more of a disservice than you ever did me.”

Chapter Fourteen

It had been a long time since Angelina had driven a car. The old rattletrap smelled just as badly as she remembered, but it got her past the palace gate without a second glance and she made it into the city with only a couple wrong turns.