It was almost time.
She continued to pace in her stylish bathroom, inside the incredibly elegant Vallerian Royal Palace, in the royal apartment she shared with the man she loved.
How much more time?
She checked her watch again and her heart beat even faster.
Oh God. Oh God. Oh God.
It was time.
Suddenly, she couldn’t do it. She just couldn’t do it.
She needed to do it.
She had to check the results of the five pregnancy tests sitting like ticking bombs by the sink.
It had taken stealth maneuvering to even get those pregnancy tests inside the palace without the press or staff finding out.
Not to mention, there was the potential father himself, who’d noted she was stressed but had chalked it up to work, not a potentially life-changing baby.
Another deep breath.
She lifted her eyes to the mirror, something she’d avoided the entire five minutes she’d been in the bathroom. She didn’t look like a mother—or even a potential mother. What did she know about mothering? She’d never had one herself. If she were pregnant, she’d probably be a terrible mother.
She closed her eyes and took another deep breath. She inhaled the scents of home: the floral scent of her body wash, her love’s cologne, the lingering scent of the morning routine and shampoo. It steadied her, these small comforts of their life together.
Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Wyler blinked open her eyes and looked down at the tests.
She sucked in a breath. “Fuck.”
* * *
Rebecca paced in her and Alex’s bathroom of their royal apartments.
Alex wasn’t there.
No, her husband, heir to Valleria’s throne, had been called to a last-minute meeting. It was just as well. He didn’t know what she was doing anyway.
She felt awful. For a variety of reasons.
One reason for the pain was her period. It was the same every month, in the weeks—yes, weeks—leading up to her period. The near-constant pain and pressure in her abdomen made her weak.
Yet, this month, her pain had lasted much longer than usual.
Her period was late.
A few days late here or there wasn’t unusual.
Two weeks late was unusual.
Two weeks late, followed by spotting that ended far too quickly for her normal period was really unusual.
The other reason she felt awful: she was terrified.
Terrified she was pregnant and all that could mean.
Terrified what all this pain and spotting could mean if she was pregnant.
Terrified this was all a mistake and she wasn’t pregnant at all.
It was nearly impossible to get a home pregnancy test, particularly as she was the future queen and the entire nation had been waiting for her to announce she was pregnant with the future heir of the throne. She had a meeting with her doctor tomorrow, but she couldn’t wait.
She needed to know now.
The timer on her phone went off, a series of gentle bells. She used that tone because it had reminded her of the cathedral bells that had rung on her wedding day, just a much softer version.
Right now, it just reminded her how long she and Alex had been together, without a child to show for it.
Time to look.
She inched forward, the fear making her slow down, while the anticipation tried to push her forward faster.
She glanced down.
* * *
In another bathroom in their own royal apartment, Lady Grace was trying to remain calm while in the arms of her love, Prince Marcello, as they waited for their pregnancy test. It was a long shot.
A really long shot.
They’d been trying for nearly a year now. After a disastrous previous marriage, she never thought she’d get pregnant. Yet, she’d wanted to try.
She dreamed of a little boy with Marcello’s dark blond hair and his dark brown eyes. She dreamed of watching him grow up, straddling both his Vallerian and English roots, and of passing down her family’s estate in England to him one day.
She was beginning to think she’d never conceive naturally. So, unless they tried IVF or surrogacy—both difficult to do in the royal limelight—they would need to consider adoption.
Adoption was also a tricky concept as a part of Valleria’s ruling family. Not that Marcello’s family would oppose it, oh, no. They were incredibly loving, generous people. It was just that politics played a part in everything they did. For some reason, adopting a child had become something political and not to be done.
Shame on everyone who thought so.
Marcello’s low voice penetrated her thoughts. “I have a good feeling about this one.”
She smiled lightly, but it didn’t quite reach her eyes. She replied in her refined English accent. “You say that every time we do this.”
“I mean it every time we do this.”
“I think your instincts are failing.”
“I hope not. That wouldn’t be good in my line of work.” As Valleria’s Minister of Security and Intelligence, Marcello’s instincts had to be sharp. Though he didn’t go out on missions anymore, navigating the political landscape of his authority and of the Royal Council meant he needed to stay on top of things.
The timer on her phone beeped, a series of bright musical tones that may not match the results.
“Do you want me to check this time, my fair Grace?”
She wished she were strong enough to look at it, just as she wished she’d been strong enough the last time this had been a possibility. “Please.”
He gave her a squeeze and stepped from behind her.
The warmth of his arms gone, she felt a sudden chill and wrapped her arms around herself.
He was stock still, the test in his hands.
He glanced up.
His eyes were wet. Was it good news or bad?