"You asked to see me." I say walking into the small lounge. Mum places her book to the side and pats the chair. "Do i need to get a drink for this?"
"I doubt it." She smiles. "So Alessandro tells me you have both agreed Isabella's feelings land with you."
"This morning over breakfast you could barely keep your eyes off one another. Prince Sebastian is not blind nor stupid."
"He is not my concern." I cross my arms over my chest in frustration.
"Matteo I will not deny when I asked for Isabella to come here, not only did I want her to be safe away from her country but I had hoped … You or Alessandro may find a match. I hadn't realised that King Elijah had accepted help from the french king."
"It makes no difference."
"Matteo. We both know it does. Isabella in turn will owe the french and Elijah knew this when he accepted their help."
"It is not her debt." I raise my voice before calming myself. It's not my mother's fault. "I apologise. I just find it all very frustrating."
"As you will. I care for Isabella. We had spoken many times before her arrival. She has become dear to us all. She lights up a room with her soft caring nature. But this conversation is for you. I love you too much to watch you get hurt."
"I will not give up."
"I did not expect you to. I just ask what your next moves are. Tell me you have considered something more than wooing her. She already cares for you, inevitably though she is to be a queen soon. Her priority will not be you and when she leaves here her days will be full. It will be easy to forget for a time."
Ouch. "Blunt much mother."
"It's honesty son. A new queen her days before filled with preparation and after ruling. She will barely have a minute to consider going to the toilet mind you. So what are you going to do?"
"I want father to propose a marriage of me and Isabella to King Elijah."
"Wise but he has already accepted help from another who he wants her engaged too."
"Then we counter that offer with something better. She is not promised to Sebastian." I grind my teeth. Are we so sure she isn't? King Elijah is known to be ruthless. Would he have promised her without her knowledge. Instead knowing who she is she would go through with a marriage he wanted either way? "The offer needs to be so good that he could not turn us down."
"And if he does?"
"Then he has already promised the french. Bella will not take that lightly. She may feel indebted to them but she still believes she has a choice. Though she will make the wrong one. For her. She will not like the choice being removed."
"I'll speak to your father and see what we can offer. Are you so sure she will like you proposing in this manner?"
I doubt it very much. I wouldn't propose to her like this. I would take her away from everything. Nothing fancy. Just us and bend on one knee. Revealing a gentle yet precious ring and asking her whilst looking into her eyes. Whilst watching the pale sea blue eyes light up. I'd kiss her senseless and make love to her right there.
"We are not talking about what she would like. Nor what i would. We are talking business right now. For us to reveal if she is already promised this is the only way."
"I am glad to see you are still able to think straight. Your stubborn streak has always been a thorn in my side. Now I see the side of your father when he wouldn't leave me alone. I came here so sure I wouldn't like him. I even tried not to. We had no walls between us though Matteo. Our families wanted us to marry. You are going to have to break many. You are going to fight though and you'll have all of Italy behind you to do it."
I stand up pulling my mother by her hands and throw my arms around her shoulders. She laughs before wrapping hers around my middle.
"I've never told you how grateful i am to have you. I truly am."
"Love becomes you Matteo." She chuckles as I leave the room.
Am I in love? I would be crazy to be so. I know I want her like I want my next breath. I know being close to her feels like coming home after a night of drinking. Finally falling into the warm comfort of your own bed. I know that I haven't considered another woman since my eyes met hers. By god I love her. She even said it has only been two weeks. She is far too smart to have fallen in love with me yet. I smile to myself as I practically skip through the halls. Tonight is a leaving ball for all the princes and princess' along with their families, who all leave tomorrow. If Sebastian thinks he is going to conduct himself how he did last time he is wrong. He had taken every moment of her time. Him or his family. Not anymore.
"Why exactly are you always so mardy?" I ask brows furrowed at the princess in front of me. Does her porcelain pale face crack if she smiles?
With a roll of her eyes and a chuckle from Bella she stands up. Her sleek shoulder length, thick black hair falls over her pale shoulders. Her green eyes pierce mine with daggers.
"Do you always ask questions that are one rude and two irrelevant?"
"Did i do something to you? Maybe you're upset because you haven't been in my bed yet. Only yours."
"Maybe you are compensating with a big mouth for a tiny dick."
"You've been thinking about my dick often Sofia?"
"Princess Sofia to you, smug face."
"Very." She smirks.
Bella snorts a laugh now standing between me and princess ice cold Sofia. "Come on guys. Not that this isn't funny but why don't you like each other again?"
"He is annoying and thinks that's charming."
"She is a brat." At my words Sofia turns glaring at me. If looks could kill I would have just fallen to the ground dead. Instead I lift my brows at her. She is practically breathing fire now.
"Says the prince known for getting drunk and partying. I'm sorry, do you have any awards? Medals? Anything other than clap." She claps her slim hands together to emphasise the word. Is she insinuating? No she has not just claimed i have chlamydia
"You didn't just …"
"I think that's enough of that. Why don't you two call a truce and be friends. Sofia I promise that usually Alessandro is very welcoming." Bella says smiling up at us both.
"Bella, him being welcoming is exactly his reputation. I have friends and don't need some playboy prince as another. I'll see you at the ball this evening." She bows to Bella. Every prince, princess, king and queen know that Bella is to be crowned in two months. It is respectful and decent to bow. Instead I ran and practically tackled her. I am neither decent nor respectful. "Don't forget to wash. I hear it stops the itch." Sofia says to me before smiling broadly and walking away.
I stand watching her back. Her pale skin, her taller frame then most women I've been interested in at five foot nine. Her slim ballerina body. Delicate hips and small breasts and ass. Nothing about it would usually make me hard. But the smile she gave me. Though smug had been breathtaking. Her green eyes the colour of freshly laid grass.
"Looks like you have made an impression. What did you do?" Bella asks.
"Not something I want to speak about." Not yet anyway. I'd been drunk. Annoyed and plotting with my brother to help him get the woman we both cared for. It had been a hell of a night. "So did the big guy give you some trouble." I tilt my head in the direction of Finn leaning against the far wall.
"Worse. He told me he understood." She sighs. Placing my arm out she slinks hers through it. I lead us to a bench further in the garden. "I had guards searching for me. Even your guards. I have already had bonuses transferred to each of them for the trouble."
"Our guards are paid handsomely. You didn't need to do that Bella."
"But I wanted to." She chews the inside of her lip so I nudge her with my shoulder.
"What is on your mind?"
"Is it strange I have felt more at home here than in Spain? I love my country, I love my people. But here I feel like I've grown. I've had a life. I've experienced … things."
"Matteo giving you some d is not a conversation we are having." I laugh as she turns very red cheeked. "I am messing Bella, I know you haven't. Maybe here you have found yourself because you've had more freedom and less responsibility. Your free time hasn't been spent helping others."
"I enjoy helping others."
"As you should and that's why you will make such a good queen. It isn't a show for you. You actually do enjoy it but even then you need to make time for yourself."
"Maybe you are right." She smiles. "You are a good friend you know."
"I'm wounded." I smile. I do care for her but I see it between her and Matteo. I'll be glad if they are both happy.
"Now you are name calling too." I put a hand over my heart being very dramatic. Bella laughs and then a shadow stands over her. Looking up I see Matteo.
Bella stops laughing and looks up at him. I watch as they look at each other not speaking for a moment. Wow these pair really do need a hand. Here I thought my brother had charm.
"Matteo." I stand slapping his shoulder. "You missed Princess Sofia giving me a royal telling off."
"She said he has a small dick and clap." Bella replies.
"She knows you well brother." Matteo smirks.
"I think i am wrongly judged. I have always been nothing but friendly and welcoming. If the title prince brings women that happen to slip and fall, flat on their backs may i add. I am all too happy to check they are all ok. No better way to know for sure is if they can cry out." I smile at Matteo rolling his eyes. Bella giggling quietly. "Mother wanted to speak with you this morning. Is all well?"
"Very." He turns with a reluctance to stop looking at Bella. His eyes meet mine with a twinkle in them. He is happy. I am glad he is taking steps. "I actually came to ask Bella if i could escort her down to the ball this evening."
"I …" She stutters.
"Of course Matteo. I would love you to. How about you collect me in my room. Say just before 7. It gives you ample opportunity to come inside and admire me." I speak with the most femine voice I can simulate. Bella chuckles with wide eyes. "What you're going to say yes, aren't you?"
"Well yes but i would not have said that."
With a cough I start again. "Matteo please do collect me at seven sharp. Unless you want …"
Matteo slapping me on my back has me stopping and Bella laughing. Matteo smirks but tries to hide it behind a more serious face.
"Bella?" He asks.
I should have gotten popcorn. I wonder if i should ask Sofia. I'd need an umbrella if she had a drink handy. She is a spit fire but hell if that doesn't make me want to push my look even further. Bella is so soft and sweet. In comparison Sofia is a thorn bush. Why am I trying to annoy her?
"Yes. Thank you." She replies finally and I see Matteo's shoulders sag in relief. Even with Sebastian here and the growing tension I see in him. She is going to walk in on Matteo's arm. Brave little princess.
"I'm just going to go ask Sofia. Would she prefer me to ask with a glass of wine or a knife so she can threaten me to leave?"
"Alessandro. The poor girl doesn't want to be near you." Bella says.
"All the more reason to show her some of Italy." I lift my brows insinuating and Matteo mutters.
"Fuck sake that poor girl."
"What are you talking about? She is three years older than Bella. So poor woman because I am not going to ask but just stand waiting for her this evening."
I walk away plotting i know just showing up is going to wind her up, but hell if that isn't what i am going to do. She can act like she hates my touch but we both know differently.