Her Royal Bodyguard(7)By: Natasha Moore
“Don’t leave her alone. Don’t let anyone follow you.”
Rico paused in the act of calling his Tio. “You do not need to tell me my job, Vittorio.”
The prince ran a shaky hand over his face. “I do not think I can ever have children. I will die of worry before they are grown.”
Rico didn’t bother to respond to the ridiculous statement. He reached his uncle, apologized for waking him, and discovered there was one small loft apartment empty at the moment. He wove a quick spur-of-the-moment story and promised to see him in a few hours.
“I am concerned that she will be unable to remain incognito anywhere in Mezzano,” Rico told Vittorio as his mind whirled with everything he’d have to do to get ready to leave as soon as possible.
“Yes. Mia and I discussed that briefly. Our people only see Angelina when she is dressed up and made-up to be the glamorous princess. Mia thinks as long as Angie looks plain, people won’t recognize her because they would not expect to see her.”
Rico thought that even without make-up and fancy clothing she looked like a princess. “Does the princess own any plain, inexpensive clothing? Ones that will not announce that she is this country’s princess?”
“Mia knows what it is like to dress simply. She will make certain Angie packs the appropriate things.”
Rico nodded. “I can trade cars with my parents. They’ll like driving a newer model.”
Vittorio extended his hand and Rico took it. “Thank you, my friend.”
“I will keep her safe from whoever it is that wishes her harm.” But Rico couldn’t admit that he wasn’t altogether certain the princess would be safe from him.
It was still dark when Angelina, lying across the back seat of an ancient automobile, left her home on the way to what she told herself would be an adventure.
But it wasn’t an adventure. It was exile. It was leaving her home, her friends, her family, her stuff. It was wearing borrowed clothes and no makeup. It was no chance to meet guys for the foreseeable future.
What was she going to do in Tuscora? She’d never even heard of it. There was only one thing about this whole situation to make her smile.
In fact, the more she thought about being alone with Rico, the more restless she became. The more alive she felt. Perhaps this was an adventure after all.
“Can I get up yet?” She winced at the whine in her voice. The last thing she wanted was to sound like a petulant child when she wanted Rico to see her as the woman she’d become.
“Soon, Your Highness.” Rico’s deep voice rumbled through the darkness.
“I’ve been crouched down here for hours.”
“It’s been twenty minutes, Your Highness.”
“Well, if you had to keep your face down on this old seat that smells like dirty shoes, you’d think it had been hours too. Whose car is this anyway?”
“I had planned to borrow my parents’ car, but it was still too nice. This one belongs to my sister’s boyfriend.”
The clothing packed in an old suitcase in the back belonged to the daughter of one of the housekeepers. She tried to stretch her legs out, but there wasn’t enough room in this tiny vehicle. “I don’t like this car.”
“It is necessary.”
“I know. I know. I can’t arrive in a fancy car. I can’t look like me. I’m not supposed to be me.” She knew she sounded grumpy but she couldn’t help it. She was scared and uncomfortable. What did the next few days have in store for her? And another thing. “Rico? Who am I supposed to be if not who I am?”
A pause. Sudden tension crackled through the air. She wished she could see Rico.
“My bride,” he replied.
Angelina gasped, drawing in more fetid air. She coughed and pushed up. She couldn’t stay down on the seat cushions any longer. She couldn’t remain alone back there in the dark. She couldn’t talk about pretending to be married while she stared at the back of her supposed groom’s head. “Your bride?”
She glanced around and saw there were no headlights either approaching or behind them. “I’m coming up there.” She threw her leg over the seat and rolled over, landing awkwardly in the passenger seat. Her hand found Rico’s broad shoulder as she reached out to catch herself.
His body was so firm, so hot even through the fabric of the soft white button-down shirt he wore. The sleeves rolled up past his elbows but still covered his upper arm. When had he taken off the ever-present jacket? This was the first time she’d ever touched him and she suddenly wished she could feel his bare skin beneath her fingers.