“Maybe you should see a doctor. You haven’t been yourself. Not since Italy. Maybe you caught something over there.”
A shocked Regina sat in the doctor’s waiting room with her right hand cupped over her mouth. Her left hand was clutching the armrest of her chair as if it were a life preserver. Her stomach tightened, and she looked down at it and was surprised that it was still so flat.
Nico had used a condom every time, but the doctor had confirmed the results of the pregnancy test Regina had taken at home with more tests and a physical exam.
Nico. How would he react when she told him? And she had to tell him. Would he be pleased?
Was she pleased?
Yes. Or, at least, she would be when the shock wore off. For another long moment, unsure about whether or not she could stand, much less walk out to her car and drive, she simply sat there, adjusting to her new reality.
Pregnant. Nico’s baby.
Baby first. Husband second.
Only she’d hadn’t planned this. For one thing, a job had been a given. How could she raise a baby without a job?
And Nico. She thought about the lovely Viola and his plans to marry her as soon as possible. He had to be told immediately.
Biting her lips, Regina stared up at the ceiling. A baby. Nico’s precious baby, but no job and no husband. And no Nico.
“Thank you,” she whispered, even as she began to shake and feel scared at the same time. “Thank you. With your help, I can do this.” Somehow.
When she finally felt strong enough to drive and was behind the wheel, her thoughts strayed back to Nico. She hated upsetting him, hated telling him over the phone. But this problem wasn’t going away.
When she got to her house, she flipped on the television to CNN, muted the volume and then pulled her cell phone out of her purse. At the thought of calling Nico, what little confidence she had leaked out of her.
Sinking onto her couch in a daze, she punched in his number. Her heart began to beat faster with each ring.
“Ciao,” he mumbled in a cranky, groggy voice.
“Oh, my God! The time!” She looked at her watch in horror.
“Nico, I’m sorry. It’s five-thirty in the afternoon in Texas! I totally forgot it’s twelve-thirty your time! I’m sorry! Sorry, sorry!”
She was still babbling when he said, “Viola?” And then louder, “Cara? Cara! Is it really you, tesorina?”
Did she only imagine that his deep voice had softened?
Viola’s picture flashed on her television screen and was followed with a clip of Nico dining with her at a posh restaurant in Rome, holding her hand, smiling. There was a shot of them on his yacht.
Regina closed her eyes. Did he suck her fingertips, too? They did look perfect together.
Her stomach knotted. He didn’t even know her name.
“I mean Cara. Regina’s my real name. I—I shouldn’t have called. I’ll call back at a better time.”
“I’ll call back. Sleep well.” She hung up. She shut her eyes again. “Sleep well, my darling.”
Viola? He’d expected Viola.
How quickly we forget.
Wide-awake now and in a hellish mood because Cara had sounded so lost, Nico rang her back as fast as he could. When he got her voice mail, he cursed vividly.
She’d called him. Then she’d turned off her phone.
But she’d sounded scared. He had to talk to her, so he left a message, demanding that she call him at once.
He held the phone in his palm for an hour. When she didn’t call, he began to feel crazed as the uncertainty in her tone grew in his mind. Something was wrong.
He called her again and again, leaving more messages demanding that she call him. Then he paced his gilded bedroom until two like a caged cat.
Her voice had sounded strange. He had to find out what was wrong, as soon as possible. Despite the late hour, he rang Massimo.
“Can this possibly wait? I’m in a bar. With the most gorgeous signorina.”
“Sorry to disturb you. You have to help me check up on Cara.”
“Cara!” Massimo groaned.
“She called and hung up on me. Now she won’t take my calls. I’m worried about her.”
“She’s fine,” Massimo said, sounding bored and distracted. There was a lot of music and laughter in the background.
“I have to know that for sure.”
“It’s the middle of the night, and the signorina is touching me in places I won’t discuss on a cell phone.”
“It’s not the middle of the night in Texas. Hire detectives. Keep me and the family’s name out of it. No scandal, but do whatever it takes.”
“If she doesn’t want to talk to you—”