Page 102 of The Amalfi Bride

“Anyone else’s…? Hey!”

“I didn’t mean that. I didn’t mean what it sounded like.”

Lucy lifted Dino to her shoulder to burp him. “Why won’t you talk about this guy?”

“I just can’t.”

“You seem different somehow. I mean, after Italy. Was it him?”

“I wish people would stop saying that. People change. Maybe I matured.”

Lucy shook her head.

Closing her eyes, Regina told herself she had to quit thinking about Nico all the time. She was home, back in her real world. Someday soon she had to rethink the E-321 issue. Her biological clock hadn’t stopped ticking just because she’d chosen the wrong man.

Why had he called? Had he missed her a little? Was the gorgeous Viola as icy as his mother? Regina bit her lips. She hoped so.

No. If she truly loved him, she should want him to be happy. But she was human, okay? And humans aren’t perfect, right? Nobody expected her to be a saint filled with noble virtues, did they?

Still, when she’d first come home, she’d buried herself in work to avoid her dark, selfish feelings.

Having finished eating every single cookie crumb off the floor, Gina ran to her and patted baby David with her chocolatesmeared fingertips.

“Gently,” Regina cautioned. “And why don’t you lick your fingers?”

When Gina bent over her fingers, her tiara fell off. Leaning down, Regina picked it up.

Gina snatched it and put it on and whirled, clapping and giggling, making Lucy and Regina laugh.

“When I grow up, can I be a real princess?”

“Of course you can, my darling,” Regina whispered, her voice choked. “Come here, darling, so I can straighten your tiara again. All that twirling, it’s hanging on your ear.”

“Are you all right?” Lucy asked as Regina brushed at her eyes.

Like Regina’s sister Susana, Lucy was too intuitive sometimes.

“I’m fine.”

She didn’t feel all that well, actually. The sweet baby smell was getting to her. Regina set David’s bottle on the floor. Holding him close, intending to put him in his swing, she was instantly too dizzy to take a step.

Lucy’s red hair and freckled face whirled amidst flashes of brilliance. Then the room became bright white and suffocatingly hot. Beads of perspiration popped out on her face. A band of iron circled her chest. Clutching David, she sank weakly back into her chair.

“Are you okay?” Lucy whispered, her low tone urgent.

The white flashes were still swirling as Gina ran to Regina and tugged at her arm. “What’s the matter, Aunt Reggie?”

“I—I’m fine.”

“You’re as white as that wall behind you,” Lucy said. “What’s wrong?”

“I just feel a little faint. That’s all. Busy week. I guess I stood up too quickly.”

“Maybe you should see a doctor.”

“I said I’m fine.”

But later that night when Regina was eating warmed-over pizza while she further revised her résumé at her computer, the black font blurred sickeningly. Her head began to feel thick and funny, and her pulse sped up.

She spit out her pizza and pushed her white wine away. The pizza was spicy, the way she usually liked it, but much too spicy tonight. And the chilled wine, Nico’s favorite, was so dry her mouth felt like cotton after one sip.

When bile climbed her throat, she ran to the kitchen and drank ice water.

Still queasy, she fell onto her bed without removing her jeans. Not that she could sleep. The next morning she woke up with raccoon circles under her eyes. Her skin was pale and clammy, and when she even thought about cooking oatmeal, she felt so sick again she had to lie back down.

As she lay on her back, she grabbed one of the celebrity magazines off her nightstand and studied Nico’s picture and then Viola’s. Bold headlines screamed. Prince and His Princess. Fairytale Marriage.

Their gorgeous faces began to spin.

Regina threw the magazine at the wall.

Suddenly overcome with an urge to retch, she got up and raced to the toilet, where she threw up disgusting chunks of undigested pizza. Her head was still over the bowl, when a life-changing thought occurred to her.

She hadn’t had her period.

Not since Italy.

The phone rang. Still feeling weak, she crawled back to her bed, grabbed the receiver and flung herself on her rumpled sheets, belly up.

“Hi. You there? It’s your mother. Say something, Cara, so I’ll know you’re alive!”

“M-Ma! Hi.”

“It’s Sunday. I’m calling about lunch. Joe’s out of town, but Susana and the kids will be there.”

Sunday lunch was a longstanding tradition.

“I’m sorry. I don’t think so. I—I don’t feel well. Nausea.”

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