My heart thumps so loudly in my chest I am sure that Alessandro next to me can hear it. He sits holding Sofia's hand and to my other side is my mother. Father next to her who continues to give me a look of reassurance. The church is filled to the brim. Guards stationed to all the sides of the church. Though that isn't necessary. Spain has never been more united. The weeks that have followed Bella leaving I have watched every news cover. Every single day I search for a new photo of her.
People recover from heartbreak but I realised after only a few days. I don't want to recover. I want her and I will do whatever I have to. I of course had to have my father's blessing in case I drag our country into a war. Though I had informed him without his blessing I would be abdicating my title. I would come to Bella as just Matteo. The man she fell in love with.
I know deep into my bones that she loves me. Her eyes have been bloodshot, her cheekbones more defined as though she hasn't been eating as much. Her lips are not as peachy as they once were. I know that her eyes are sunken and dark because mine are the same.
"Are you sure about this?" Alessandro whispers to me. The silent whispers of people throughout the church echo.
Our family has been given the first two rows of the right hand side. To the other side is the French. Sabastian smugly smiling and whispering with his family. I watch him for a moment before responding to Alessandro.
"I have never been more sure of anything."
"Good because I've missed Bella too." He looks at Sofia who smiles.
"Don't worry I like her to. She was a free spirit. Get your prin … queen Matteo. The greek Islands and Italy are behind you." Sofia winks. Her navy ball gown matching Alessandro's suit perfectly.
We are all told to stand and I hear the doors open. I try to see through the gaps of people. So prepared to stand on the bench seat if these idiots don't move their heads. I just need to see her. The weeks without her have made it difficult to breath. Even Bravo hasn't been the same without her. I see Finn walking up first clearing a way before eyeing me and my family. Do I imagine the corners of his lips lifting? A small grateful glint coming into his eyes? Has she been struggling as much as me?
My breath is knocked from my lungs and I nearly push by Alessandro to reach for her.
Her sky blue princess gown must be so heavy. A train that seems to go on forever after her. Her skin has slightly paled. Her eyes focused forwards. Off the shoulder straps show off her smooth silky skin. The skin that I have kissed and tasted every inch of.
"Soon." My mother puts her smaller hand through mine. Giving it a gentle squeeze. "Patience. Allow her this moment. Legally, Finn would have to shoot you."
I smile at my mother and then we are all seated. I sit right on the edge of my seat throughout the ceremony. Nothing about this feels real. Looking around the room. So many royals. Many who look to be staff. Some elderly women who are crying and dabbing at tears. I can tell from their clothing they are not royals or as well off. Bella has no blood family left but she has built a family. It's finally over. Her silver delicate crown is placed on her head. She turns to the crowd as we all stand clapping. Her eyes meet mine and her mouth falls open. Water builds in her eyes and I move to go to her. Alessandro stopped me from in front and my mother took my hand once more.
"Not yet brother. I know. You will go to her soon." Alessandro speaks and I want to scream at them. I want to throw everyone from the room and kiss her. Wipe away the tears that want to spill down her beautiful face.
'I love you.' I mouth the words to her. I know she read them from my lips. I see it in the way her lips tug and a single tear drops from her eye as her hand moves to cover her heart.
She may have gone to speak. She may have mouthed the words back but Finn is moving and she is following. Her eyes on me until she is past the first row. Then she seems stark straight. The perfect queen.
I know she is going to argue love isn't always enough. That we both have responsibilities but I cannot. I will not be selfless as she is. I will be selfish. I am unwilling to live a life any less than perfect and all I need is her.
Everyone is in the large ballroom. The decor is stunning and flowers match Bella's dress perfectly but I do not take it in. I wait patiently. Sipping at my water wanting to keep a clear head for my next move.
"Matteo. She will be coming in any moment. After her short speech she should be free to mingle." Dad says but i don't look at him. My foot bouncing away on the floor impatiently.
"The french have not been giving the better seats." Mum smiles. I can hear it in her voice. The woman is as competitive as me. But this has nothing to do with beating Sebastian. This has everything to do with the fact she is mine. She is my love and I know damn well she loves me.
The doors open and the butlers bow as Bella walks through the large polished white doors. I jump up and dodge Alessandro's hand. Sofia squeals in joy as I jog over towards Bella. I stop as Finn steps before her. Everything and everyone seems to fall into a deadly silence. I look up at the giant man who I was petrified of admittedly before. But right now even he will not stop me. I will not wait or put us both through this torture I can rid us of.
As though he understands that, he steps to the side and there she is. My queen Bella. Bella.
"Matteo, what are you doing?" She whispers her eyes not leaving mine but her cheeks heating. Her eyes obviously wanted to dart around the room. Every person in here is watching us. Completely silent.
"Bella I love you with everything I am and I know you love me too. Being apart has nearly killed me." She goes to interrupt but I raise my hand. Realising we are no longer of the same station and i just told a queen to be quiet. I smile because she bites her lip holding back a sarcastic remark. "I don't only love the Bella I met but I love the queen Isabella that you are. I understand that this may seem like a hard decision for you but it isn't. This is your decision and we both know what the right one is." I bend down on one knee and pull the ring from my pocket. The crowd gasps loudly but I only notice one person. My Bella. "This ring was my grandmothers. She was not royal but my grandfather loved her. They fought for their love. They were brave enough to stand against everything to be together. Because love is enough Bella. I will love you enough for it to be enough. Will you do me the greatest honor by marrying me?"
Her eyes are so wide that they may just full out. Her mouth opened wide revealing her perfectly white teeth. Her hands holding one another over her heart. My fingers are clammy and I feel sweat forming on my back making my white shirt stick. Beads forming on my forehead as I kneel on the hard marble floor.
O my god. How can I deny the man I love as he kneels before me? When he mouthed the words he loved me not even half an hour ago. I felt like the ground was falling away and I was free falling. It felt like a rock had been lifted from my chest but only to allow more pain. I love him so much and yet, my duty, my country.
"No. You can be selfless Bella because i will allow no harm to come to your people. You don't even have to ask them to fight. Italy and a new formed alliance." He smiles looking over towards his table. Sofia waves and smiles at me. Corrina is dabbing her eyes with a handkerchief. Alessandro and Caleb have proud arms around the women they love. "If any country is to try and harm Spain you will have our armies. With or without marrying me. You have a choice. I will not take that from you. If you chose not to marry me or anybody else. You will have our alliance to be free to do as you wish. But if you choose to marry me I will be with you. Every step of the way until death does us part. Because I cannot live without you Bella. My heart cannot beat without pain. I can barely see from trying to pretend to be brave. So marry me, because our love is honest and true."
I nearly sob. My eyes burn as I try to swallow through the lump in my throat. Which is nearly impossible from the size of it. Everything recently has been falling flat. Every day I make someone feel good. I made a life better for so many but nothing actually made me feel better. I still had no choice. The decision has already been made for me. Matteo is not only asking me to marry him but allowing me even if I don't. Him and his family would defend me so i didn't have to marry Sebastian. Who would be foolish to go against three countries and he knows it.
Though these weeks I was looking at alliances already. I was not being forced to marry if I could find a way.
"I don't need any choices Matteo. I wasn't selfless because I could never marry anyone but you. It's been you from the minute I met you. You restored my faith in myself." His eyes sparkle. His mouth open as though he cannot believe my words. "I love you Matteo. The charming playboy prince and all. I'll marry you and only you."
As he slips the ring on my finger with shaking fingers I allow the tears to drop and then he is standing pulling me into his arms. I wrap mine around him and the crowd erupts.
All of my fears of the backlash. Everyone stands clapping and cheering. Sofia and Alessandro, inappropriately the loudest and only egging one another on but i smile. Even the french royals stand. The last to do so but they stand clapping quietly.
I didn't have the strength to reach out to him. He gave me time to be queen and he gave me options. He gave me a choice that I have never had. How could I not fall so deeply in love with this man?
"I'm sorry for how i left you." I whisper against his chest.
He pulls back taking my face in his large still trembling hands.
"Don't be sorry my Bella. I was always coming for you. I just needed to find the right moment. I knew you wouldn't be able to say no." He smiles and then his lips meet mine. He kisses me deeply and I see the flashes of cameras. Some reporters were allowed in for my speech. They got a speech that is for sure. "This dress has far too many layers and I can't get close enough." I laugh at his angered moaning.
"Are you ready to be a king?"
"On one condition."
"I lift my brows at him." I'll give him anything but I'm not voicing that. "This condition is?"
"Actually there are a few. One is Bravo joins us here. The other is that every evening we eat together and I hold you every night and morning. The last is that you'll tell me you love me many times a day." He smiles and gently kisses my lips again.
"I think I can agree to each of your terms."