Jade’s heart raced as she took the pregnancy test from Alvaro. Why did he think that she might be—?
She looked into his amber eyes and saw that implacable certainty and confidence. Her brain spun, dates whizzing in her mind as she recalled her heightened emotionality in the last couple of days. The feelings of need, tenderness and tiredness that weren’t like her.
The possibility made sense, and it was what they wanted. They’d quietly stopped using contraception a while ago, deciding to leave it to chance. She’d tried not to think about it too much, not wanting to get her hopes up each month…and she’d been so busy she’d partially succeeded. In fact, she couldn’t think clearly about dates at all now.
Suddenly she needed to know.
Yet at the same time she was terrified of finding out.
Because she wanted this so, so much.
Grabbing all her courage, she dashed into the bathroom. Two minutes later she dashed back out and put the plastic-capped test on the nearest table.
‘I can’t watch it,’ she choked. ‘You watch it and let me know.’
He laughed and wrapped his arms around her, stopping her from running away. So she waited with him, eyes screwed tightly shut, grateful for his equally tight embrace. If she was in his arms everything would be all right. No matter what the result.
It was only a few moments before she felt him draw a deep breath.
‘Open your eyes, darling,’ he said huskily.
She blinked—was it blurred vision making her see two lines?
She blinked again and focused. Definitely two lines.
She gasped as she realised it was positive.
She was pregnant.
They were having a baby!
Jade trembled and Alvaro’s embrace instantly strengthened, giving her the support she needed. He always did that for her. And then he turned her to face him. The vulnerability and the reflection of raw emotion in his face melted her already gooey heart. He was as delighted, as terrified, as overwhelmed as she. But they were together in this. They’d always be together.
Their kiss was tender, and so loving. And so hot that within seconds she stirred restlessly against him.
He lifted himself away with a growl. ‘Of all the timing!’
‘You’re going to be a dad.’ She half-laughed, half-sobbed.
‘And you’re going to be the loveliest mother in the world.’ Emotion made his eyes mist. ‘We’re going to do this, darling.’
‘Yes.’ She framed his face in her hands and gazed up at him. Never had she loved anyone the way she loved him. ‘What made you suspect?’
A wary but amused look entered his eyes. ‘You just seemed a little more…intense than usual.’
‘Intense…?’ she echoed.
He nodded and his smile quirked.
She lifted her chin and smiled back as she stepped away. She’d show him intense… ‘I need to get dressed.’
A zing of energy made her feet light. She summoned her dresser and together they got her hair neatly twisted up beneath her crown in double time, and she applied a light layer of make-up in mere minutes.
‘You’re sure about this one?’ Her dresser held up the dress Jade had selected.
‘Yes, thanks, Nikki,’ she murmured, smiling to herself. ‘You can go now. I can finish.’
When she emerged from the dressing room into their private lounge Alvaro was standing at the window, gazing towards the mountains where the snow gleamed in the moonlight. She took the chance to admire him. So tall, as muscular as ever, and still with that slightly too long hair, giving him a rebel air despite the gorgeously fitted formal suit. But he was her rebel—headstrong and loyal and filled with the teasing, wicked warmth that brought her to life.
He’d said she’d seemed more intense… Truthfully, every feeling she had for him was. It ought to have been impossible to love him more. Yet as every day passed she did.
‘Will you do my zip for me?’ she asked huskily.
Alvaro turned. He didn’t move towards her…didn’t answer. He just stared.
It wasn’t the usual style of dress that Jade wore to these events. While it covered her, this one had an undeniably sexier edge than her other gowns. The sparkling scarlet and gold hugged her body, and she rather loved the high heels to match.
‘You really don’t want to go to the ball tonight, do you?’ he growled, and flicked that slightly too long hair from his forehead.
She sent him an innocent smile. ‘What do you mean?’
‘I know you’re torturing me on purpose.’ He turned her around and tugged up the zip with slightly jerky movements. ‘So…if we’re going to go to this damn thing, we’d better go now.’ He tightly gripped her hand as they walked through the long corridor and out to the helipad. ‘We’re not staying late,’ he muttered.
‘No,’ she agreed demurely, but with devilish enjoyment.
The flight to Severene didn’t take long, but they were a little late regardless.
Excitement coursed through Jade’s veins. She had the smallest, most special of secrets and she couldn’t wait to see her twin sister.
The liveried courtier announced their arrival. ‘Queen Jade and Prince Alvaro of Monrova.’
Jade placed her hand on Alvaro’s arm and he walked with her down the grand stairs to the ballroom. Juno and Leo stepped forward to meet them, but Jade paused a few steps up before greeting Juno. She saw an effervescent light shining unmistakably in her twin’s eyes. Jade blinked, and registered the ever-so-slight softening of her sister’s curves. She felt a tug inside—of recognition, and of something more than kinship. A feeling that filled her with wonder.
This was going to be the most magical Christmas ever.
Alvaro bent to speak into her ear. ‘What is it?’ he asked, having already mastered the art of hiding his lips from the cameras when saying something he didn’t want lip-readers to try to decipher. ‘Is something wrong?’
‘Actually,’ she murmured, ‘I think something might be very right.’
She stepped down the last two steps as Juno stepped forward.
‘I’m sorry we’re late, Juno.’ Jade smiled. ‘It was my fault—’
‘It doesn’t matter,’ Juno interrupted with a rueful grin. ‘We’re just glad you’re here now.’
Jade narrowed her gaze on her twin, certain that her instinct was right and she wasn’t just projecting her own news.
‘You’ve missed the moment of the night, though.’ Leo drawled.
‘What moment was that?’ Alvaro queried.
‘Juno blurted out some news to me on the dance floor, but the entire ballroom heard.’ Leo sent his wife a laughing look.
‘What news?’ Alvaro asked.
But Jade already knew. Because she was watching her sister’s expressive face. Juno had become more open with her emotions since she’d found happiness with Leo. And now Juno was looking back at Jade with a twinkle in her eye that mirrored her own.
‘You’re pregnant,’ Jade said softly.
Jade felt Alvaro’s hand grip her waist firmly.
‘You’ve heard already?’ Leo asked, and there was excited, proud delight evident on his face.
Jade shook her head. ‘Twinstincts,’ she explained softly. ‘They’re a thing.’
Juno narrowed her eyes speculatively. ‘Oh, they really are, sis.’
Alvaro cleared his throat. ‘Congratulations. Alice will be so excited to be a big sister.’
But Juno was still studying Jade, and now her expression sharpened and she clapped her hand over her mouth to muffle a sudden shriek.
‘Juno…?’ Leo’s eyebrows lifted.
‘I’m not going to say it,’ Juno mumbled. ‘Not going to.’
‘Your restraint astounds me,’ Jade teased.
Her sister leaned close. ‘But I’m right, aren’t I?’
Jade took her sister’s hand and held it tightly. ‘Our twinstincts are on point.’
Leo frowned. ‘What—?’
‘Come and get a drink with me, Leo,’ Alvaro said suddenly. ‘I’ll explain. Trust me—we’ll need doubles.’
Jade chuckled as she watched Alvaro bend his head to his brother-in-law’s as they walked away. She glanced back at Juno, and caught her eyeing Leo’s back as shamelessly as she’d been ogling Alvaro’s.
Happiness bubbled up in an unstoppable fountain of pure joy. She had everything she’d secretly dreamed of for so long. She had a man who was beyond amazing, who loved her for herself, not for her crown. She had her beloved twin with a happy family of her own near. And now she had a baby on the way. Life was impossibly wonderful and its richness was only going to deepen.
‘You know it’s going to be chaos?’ Juno said, with a soft, dreamy smile.
‘Oh, yes…’ Jade abandoned all protocol to grab her sister in a sudden impulsive hug, and laughed with sheer delight at their total fulfilment. ‘But it’s going to be heaven!’
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