Casada Con Un Prncipe: (A Mistake, a Prince and a Pregnancy) | Chapter 13 of 20

Author: Maisey Yates | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 1583 Views | Add a Review

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CHAPTER SIX

 

ALISON shifted and winced as the boning in the corset top of her gown took another dig at her side. It was hot. Dear heaven was it hot! And humid. Stray wisps of her hair hung down out of her glamorous updo in lank strands. The air seemed thick, and breathing it in only seemed to increase the nausea that was her constant, reviled companion.

The servant that had helped her get dressed had insisted that this was a formal announcement and would require formal dress. So here she was, made-up, sucked in, pushed up and buffed to a highly glossed sheen, waiting behind a heavy red curtain for her time to step out onto the balcony with Maximo so they could make a horribly clichéd announcement to the television cameras and the citizens who had gathered below.

It wasn’t just the people of Turan that were watching, but the world. Maximo was charismatic and popular, both in his home country and abroad, and his wedding would be attended by the rich and famous from every corner of the world. No pressure, though. She almost laughed at that thought.

She took a deep breath and tried to ignore the fact that her breasts seemed to be trying to make an escape from the sweetheart neckline of the gown. She imagined it was supposed to be demure, in its jewel-tone sapphire color, with cute ruffled cap sleeves. And it might have been, if she hadn’t been quite so generously endowed up top.

She could hear Maximo out on the balcony, on the other side of the curtain, addressing his people, speaking in Italian. If there was a sexier sound in the world she’d never heard it. His voice did things to her, and not only her. He was an amazing public speaker; she could tell from behind the curtain. He had charisma. She couldn’t understand a word he was saying but it sounded good.

He was the sort of leader that inspired. The sort of leader his country needed.

She straightened and nearly cursed out loud when the boning dug into her again. She was making the right decision. Maximo was a good man. He would be a wonderful example for their child, and a wonderful father. No matter how overwhelming all of it seemed to her, this was her son’s or daughter’s legacy. The people waiting down there were her child’s people. There was no way she could have denied them this chance.

Luigi, the man who coordinated most big events for the royal family, signaled for her to make her entrance onto the balcony. He swept the curtain aside for her, careful to keep himself out of view, and she took a tentative step out into the blinding Mediterranean sunlight.

The height, the heat and vibrating sea of people below made her head swim. She tried to paste a smile on her face, as she had been instructed to do, and took her place at Maximo’s side.

He put his arm around her waist and drew her close. His father, who was standing with the queen, took the center of the balcony and spoke into the microphone. A cheer erupted from the crowd.

Maximo turned to her and brushed her cheek softly with the back of his hand. The light touch sent a shimmer of something wonderful through her. His eyes were intent on her face, his expression serious, but almost caring.

He leaned in and pressed a light kiss to her lips. She hadn’t been expecting a gesture of affection like that and it had her heart pounding so hard she was afraid the microphones would pick it up, and everyone would be able to hear for themselves just what Maximo did to her. He held her tightly against his body, his strong arms cradling her. She shifted and her breasts brushed his hard, masculine chest. Electricity zinged through her.

She couldn’t stop staring at him, couldn’t tear her eyes away from him. Her future husband. He was so handsome dressed in a traditional mandarin-collared suit with a long dark jacket that accentuated his broad chest, slim waist and spare hips. The plain jacket was adorned with medals pinned to the right breast, over his heart. The Latin words written on the pin spoke of duty to God and country.

An intense feeling swelled in her chest. Pride, she realized. She was proud to stand by his side. Proud that he was the father of her baby. And who wouldn’t be? He was a good man, a man who understood responsibility, a man who valued honor. Maximo wasn’t the kind of man who would walk away from his responsibilities. He was the kind of man who would stand and face challenges when they came. When the results of the test came, the test that would tell them if there was a chance their child might be affected by Cystic Fibrosis, Maximo would face it head-on, of that she had no doubt. He wouldn’t run from a painful situation, wouldn’t walk away if things were hard.

Maximo leaned in again, his hot breath touching her neck, making goose bumps break out over her skin, despite the heat.

“Wave at your people,” he commanded gently. She turned, still in his arms, and put her hand up in a shy wave. She was greeted by another round of enthusiastic cheering. Many of the people waved back or waved flags.

“Bene,” he whispered near her ear and nuzzled her gently with his nose.

Lightning flashed through her from that simple brush of skin on skin, igniting a desire that was hot and insistent, and totally outside of her experience. It was all for show. She knew that. It didn’t mean anything to him. But her body didn’t seem to know, much less care. She felt her knees weaken and she slumped against him, against the solid wall of his body. She realized how easy it would be to just melt into him, to lean against him forever.

The strength of those feelings shocked her, made her knees shake. She wasn’t supposed to feel like this. She moved then, turning her body away from him, trying to keep her lips glued into a smile. And then she was being ushered back behind the curtain, leaving the king and queen to continue speaking to the crowd.

“You did very well,” Maximo said, releasing her from his hold once they were out of view.

“A smile and a wave,” she said breathlessly. “Not too impressive.”

“When a woman looks like you, that’s about all it takes. They loved you.”

She laughed shakily. “It’s the dress.”

“It’s a lovely dress.” His eyes traveled over her, over each of her curves.

For once, such a close inspection didn’t make her think of what might happen if she let a man get too close to her. It lit a fire that smoldered hot in her belly.

It wasn’t virginal nerves that made her draw back from the obvious attraction between them. It was a different kind of fear. Fear of the strength of her response to him, of the almost overwhelming need she felt to melt into him, have him assuage the ache he made settle between her thighs. The intense desire to allow him to make her lose control.

“You are truly beautiful.” His eyes, those hard, dark, commanding eyes, softened. He cupped her cheek and let his thumb trace her upper lip.

The curtain was swept aside again and the rush of heat that came from outside broke the bubble they’d been cocooned in.

“It is done,” Luciano said firmly. “The wedding will take place in eight weeks, after Sunday Mass.” He turned to Maximo and said something in his native language.

A dull red stained Maximo’s cheekbones and his eyes hardened, a muscle in his jaw jumping with tension. “Si. I am certain.”

“It’s good to be sure.” Luciano patted his son on the back before stopping in front of her. “Make him happy.”

Luciano and Elisabetta exited the room, leaving Alison and Maximo alone.

“What did he say?” she asked, knowing it hadn’t been flattering to her.

“It isn’t important.”

She let out an inelegant snort. “For something unimportant it certainly made you angry.”

“He asked if I was certain it was my child.”

That stung a little bit. But then, the king didn’t know her. He had to suspect that she and Maximo hadn’t known each other for very long. Really, she couldn’t blame him for his concern.

She shrugged. “Well, I suppose we don’t know for sure. If they were careless enough to give me your sample they might have been mislabeled. That would let you off the hook.” The color in his face darkened and she felt instantly contrite. “I’m sorry. That was a tasteless thing to say.”

“It was.” He slipped his arm through hers and led her back toward their rooms. “I don’t consider myself on the hook. I want this child.”

“I only meant the marriage,” she mumbled.

“The marriage should hardly be noticeable for either of us. Despite the change in location for you.”

“Glad to know I won’t be too heavy a ball and chain,” she snapped.

“Not at all. And make no mistake, I’ve been married, and I’m not looking for that sort of relationship out of this.” He released her arm and made his way up the stairs without her.

He had mentioned that he hadn’t been planning on getting married again and up until then she had been certain it was love for his wife that kept him from wanting a new wife. Now she wasn’t entirely certain.

And why should she care? He wasn’t going to be her husband in any true sense of the word. He would be her partner. They would raise their baby together during the day and at night he would warm the bed of some lithe, six-foot-tall blonde. And she would go to bed alone and enjoy the solitude of her bed. And cold sheets. So why didn’t that sound fair, or appealing, at all?

 

 

“This is wonderful!” Isabella hadn’t stopped chattering since she and Alison had gotten into the limo. “My mamma never allows me to go shopping.”

“Your mother never lets you go shopping?” Alison couldn’t imagine being controlled to such a degree. The very thought of it made her feel claustrophobic. “And are we supposed to be doing this now?”

Isabella had been very excited about taking a trip to help furnish a new, princess-worthy wardrobe for Alison, but Alison had assumed it had been Max’s idea. And she certainly hadn’t imagined that her future sisterin-law might be forbidden from going.

A slight blush stained Isabella’s high cheekbones. “Not exactly.”

Anger, not directed at Isabella, tightened her stomach. “Why aren’t you allowed to shop?”

A mutinous expression creased Isabella’s forehead. “Shopping is not a skill required of the future wife of a sheikh.”

“You’re engaged?” The other woman seemed very young to her. Naive, but very sweet.

She shrugged one very lovely shoulder. “More or less. I have an arranged marriage.”

“An arranged marriage?”

It felt wrong to Alison, the thought that such a lovely, gentle person was being farmed out to a man she didn’t even love. But then, wasn’t that essentially what was happening with her? Except it was different for her. Isabella was clearly a romantic, and Alison had never imagined that she would marry for love. Anyway, Max was an honorable, handsome, decent man and any woman would be lucky to marry him.

Her own line of thinking shocked her. When had she come to think of him like that? It was ridiculous. She’d only known him for a few days. And she didn’t want to marry him. She was only doing it because it was the right thing to do. That was all.

Isabella’s eyes shone with passion now. “I thought I was entitled to experience a little something before I gave it all up for duty and honor. I just want to live a little bit of life. The life of my choosing.” She took a deep breath as though she was trying to regain some composure. “But arranged marriages are normal in our family. It’s just how things work. Well, except with you and Max, of course.”

“Was Max and Selena’s marriage arranged?” She felt a tiny twinge of guilt for digging into Maximo’s past. It would have been one thing if she were really the woman he loved, if they had the sort of relationship where they shared confidences. But they didn’t.

“Yes. Well, my mother met Selena after one of her shows. She was an opera singer…a very talented one. My parents had been pushing Max to settle down and start having babies. They encouraged him to pursue Selena and he did. I know he loved her, though, after a while. I could tell. So it was an arranged marriage in a way. Not like mine, though.” She sighed. “I’ve never even met my fiancé.”

Alison only half heard the rest of the conversation. She was too busy processing the information she’d just received. No wonder Maximo’s view on marriage was so pragmatic. He’d made it sound as though his mother had introduced them, but she had assumed that he’d married her for love, not duty. Although Isabella was certain he’d grown to love Selena.

She was also starting to suspect that his marriage hadn’t been a perfect one. She could see it in the tension that pulled up around his eyes when he spoke of his late wife. But they had been through so much as a couple, perhaps it was only natural that they would have had some strain put on the relationship.

She couldn’t figure out why it all suddenly seemed so important. It just did. The more she got to know Max as a person, the more she wanted to know about him. She just wanted to…to understand him. And that was normal. He was the father of her baby; of course she wanted to understand him.

The limo pulled up to the curb of what looked like a very upscale row of boutiques. The driver opened the door and Isabella slid out. Alison followed. The ocean was only a hundred yards away from the shops, and the chilly salt air did wonders for the eternal churning in Alison’s stomach. The shops were all set into small, historic stone buildings, but just at the end of the row of boutiques there was a new, massive casino. It wasn’t all lit up like Vegas, rather it was more sedate, in keeping with the theme of the rest of the district. Maximo really was a genius. What he’d done to revamp the economy of his country was brilliant.

Women in expensive clothing milled around on the cobblestone walks sipping coffee that was as designer as their handbags. The men, Alison assumed, were in the casino.

“Princess Isabella!” Both Isabella and Alison turned to the sound of a man shouting. A flash went off, followed by more flashes.

Alison’s eyes widened. There was a pack of people, men and women, holding cameras, They were moving toward the limo quickly, microphones and recorders held out.

“Are you Alison Whitman? Prince Maximo Rossi’s fiancée?” A woman shouted just before snapping a picture with her camera.

“Why are you getting married so quickly?”

“Does it bother you that you aren’t as glamorous as his first wife?”

“Is he good in bed?”

Questions—lots of questions, inappropriate questions—were flying at her from all directions, and the paparazzi was moving in closer, crowding them up against the side of the limo.

“Back up!” Alison yelled, afraid she was about to get crushed against the side of the car. Afraid for her baby. But no one was paying attention because her statement hadn’t included any hint of scandal.

Isabella managed to get the door open, and Alison slid into the car after her, closing the door and locking it behind them. “Drive!” she said, banging on the partition between the front and backseat. The princess drew a shaky hand over her face. “No wonder I’m not allowed to do this.”

“That was…overwhelming,” Alison said, leaning back against the seat. She hadn’t expected that. Hadn’t factored it in when she’d imagined being married to Max. She wanted to cry. Nothing was going like it was supposed to. Living like this was so foreign, and such a complete departure from how she’d imagined her life. It was only just now sinking in, how much she was changing her life to give her baby a father.

Isabella’s expression turned sad. “It was always like that for Max and Selena. The press couldn’t get enough of them.”

Alison couldn’t imagine how hard it must have been for them. Cameras following them all the time, the constant, insistent crush of bodies every time they went out in public. She wasn’t sure she could cope with it.

But it’s your life now.

She put her hand on her stomach and tried to calm the wild, fluttery wings of panic that were making her entire body tremble.

Isabella picked up her cell phone and punched numbers rapidly. “Max,” she all but shouted into the phone. “We just got ambushed by the paparazzi.”

She cast Alison a sideways glance, her expression guilty. “I wanted to go shopping. I didn’t think…”

Alison could hear the muffled tirade that Max was subjecting his sister to. Isabella grimaced, but let him talk until he was through yelling. “She’s fine. The baby, too, I’m sure. We’ll see you in a moment.”

Isabella hung up the phone. “I’ve never heard him sound like that before. He’s worried. He must really love you.”

Alison’s heart squeezed and a restless, burning ache seemed to open up inside of her, one that she was desperate to have filled. But she didn’t know what she needed to fill it.

That was a lie. She was starting to think she knew exactly what would fill it. But that was a something she was too scared to face. Everything seemed to be closing in on her at once; the stark reality of what all the changes becoming a princess would entail, and even more terrifying, the reality of the feelings she was starting to have for her future husband.

 

 

When they got back to the castillo Maximo was pacing in the vast entryway, his expression thunderous. “That was incredibly foolish and immature of you, Isabella,” he ground out. “You could have both been hurt.”

“I didn’t know it would be like that!” Isabella protested. “How would I? I’m never allowed out anywhere!”

The fierceness in his expression diminished slightly and he blew out a hard breath. “Did you see any press badges?” he demanded, the moment they walked into the room. “If you have names I will see that the people responsible for this are thrown in jail.”

Isabella shook her head. “I don’t think any of them had ID on display.”

“They were just doing their jobs, Max,” Alison said. “There’s no need to throw anyone in jail. We’re fine. It was scary but they weren’t trying to hurt us or anything.”

“I don’t tolerate that kind of gutter press in my country,” he bit out. “If a reporter wants to take pictures that’s fine, but there is no excuse for chasing down a couple of innocent women. Whether they intended to hurt you or not isn’t the issue. They could have hurt you.”

Alison put a hand on his arm, the need to touch him, to offer some kind of balm for his rage, was too strong for her to fight against. “We’re fine. The baby is fine.”

“We’re leaving,” he said curtly. “Until the media firestorm is over we’re not staying in Turan.” He pulled his phone out of his pocket and punched in a number, then barked orders in Italian to whoever was unfortunate enough to be on the other end.

He hung up and turned to face Alison. “Go and pack, cara mia. We’re going to start our honeymoon early.”

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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