My jaw dropped open. “What?”
A dark cloud settled on Luca’s brow as he balled his shaking hands into fists at his side. He clenched his teeth and I couldn’t help but notice, in my waning pain, that they were more like fangs. “God damn them.”
Sfetnic lifted his sorrowful eyes to my face. “What the enemies of His Highness have done is made you unable to perform your most basic duty. That is, to conceive a child and continue on with the bloodline.”
“But we can get this lifted, right?” I wondered as I glanced between the two. “I mean, every curse has a way to be broken, right?”
Luca turned his attention to Sfetnic. “Well?”
Sfetnic folded his arms and sighed. “I must admit this curse is one of which I am unfamiliar, and I would venture to guess that it is a new creation concocted specifically for our queen.”
“But can you lift it?”
Sfetnic shook his head. “Not without knowing more about it. If I attempted to lift the curse I may well kill the child within her.”
I again had to pick my jaw off the bed. “Come again?”
A ghost of a smile appeared on his lips. “Yes, Your Highness. You are with child.” His eyes flickered to Luca. “The babe is admittedly at a very early stage, but I detect something stirring within you that has the essence of you both.”
I set my hand atop my stomach, or tried to. Touching the curse runes was like touching a hot iron. I jerked my hand back and glared at the strange markings. “There has to be a way to lift this.”
Luca stepped forward and grasped my hand. “And we will find that way.”
“Your Highnesses!” Mia shouted as Pennae and she hurried into the room. They stopped at the foot of the bed and swept their eyes over the dour faces. “What happened?”
Luca sighed. “The queen has been cursed with infertility.”
Pennae’s hands flew to her mouth. “How horrible!”
Mia’s eyebrows crashed down. “The museum and its vast volume of books is open to you at all times, Your Highness.”
Luca turned his attention to Sfetnic. “Would you be so kind as to begin the search for this curse, or its origins, should it indeed be a new breed.”
Sfetnic bowed his head. “At once, Your Highness.” He turned and hurried from the room.
Mia stepped back and bowed her head, as well. “I will see that he is well-supplied.” She disappeared after the adviser.
Pennae moved over to the other side of the bed and sat down to wrap her hand around one of mine. “Is there anything else we can do?”
I sheepishly grinned at her. “If you could forgive Luca for ruining your beautiful dress.”
She smiled and shook her head. “There’s nothing to forgive.”
Luca caught Pennae’s gaze. “If you would leave us for a moment.”
Pennae’s face drooped, but she stood and nodded. “Of course. If you need me you have my feather.” She left, closing the door behind herself.
A tense silence fell between us. I scooted up to lean my back against the headboard and looked down at my blackened stomach.
I whipped my head up and blinked at Luca. “What?”
Luca closed his eyes and hung his head. “This is my fault. I should have expected another attack, but I let my hubris interfere with my better judgment and put you in this danger.”
I grasped his hands in mine and gave them a squeeze. “Now you listen to me, Mr. Dragon King. This isn’t your fault.” Luca dared lift his eyes a little to mine and I smiled at him. “You’re not the one who cursed me, and it’s not your fault I have these crazy cloaked people after me. They would’ve attacked anyone you brought over.”
He chuckled. “That hardly sounds better.”
I grinned and shrugged. “It’s all I’ve got, but this still isn’t your fault. Now-” I pushed him away and swung my legs over the side of the bed. “When can the bride get a piece of her wedding cake?”
A wide grin slipped onto his face before he swooped down and pressed our lips together in a passionate kiss. I broke it up just to get some air, and to tamp down the wonderfully delicious amount of blush on my cheeks.
Luca swept me into his arms and carried me toward the door. “Right now.”
A horrible thought struck me. “Not yet!” I stabbed a finger at my ripped dress. “Where’s Pennae?”
“Coming!” came the shout through the door, and Pennae swept into the room with needle and thread in hand.
Luca set me down and Pennae went to work sewing the seams he’d torn open. I looked over her head at my brides groom. His face was downcast. I reached over and gave his hand a squeeze.
“We’ll fix this,” I assured him with more hope than I felt. “And we’ll find who did it, and smack them so hard their ancestors will feel it.”
That garnered a smile from my husband, and my spirits were somewhat lifted. We would find out how to lift this curse because there was a life depending on us to do just that.
We just had to.