Royal Heirs Required(64)

By: Cat Schield

“I wanted to let you know,” he began, returning his attention to his parents, “that in a couple days, I’m going out of town for a week or so.”

“Is this the best time?” his father asked, echoing what Gabriel had been thinking minutes earlier.

“Perhaps not, but I have the future to think about and Sherdana still needs a princess.”

The king frowned. “What about the state dinner for the Spanish ambassador?”

“Christian can take over while I’m gone.” Gabriel forced his shoulders to relax. “I’m not the only prince in this family, you know. It’s about time my brothers remembered that.”

“I’m glad to hear you’re ready to move forward,” his mother said. “Can you give us some hint of your plans?”

“I’d rather wait until everything is finalized before I say anything.”

“Very sensible,” his father said and Gabriel wondered if the king would feel that way if he had any idea where his son was going and why.

* * *

Two days after the twins’ birthday party, Olivia sat in an examination room, awaiting the doctor and fighting sadness. She was flying back to London in the morning. Back to her flat and her friends.

Her return would be far from triumphant. She’d been stripped of the ability to have children and because of that lost the man she loved. Thinking about the future only intensified her grief, so she’d spent the past few days finishing up the tasks she’d left undone such as the finalization of the menu for the hospital’s children’s wing gala taking place the following month and writing to cancel the invitations she’d accepted when she was still Gabriel’s fiancée.

After ten minutes of waiting, Dr. Warner entered the room and interrupted her thoughts. Olivia was glad he accepted her assurances that she was getting along just fine in the wake of her hysterectomy and didn’t voice the concern hovering in his expression. If he’d encouraged her to talk about her emotional health she might have burst into tears.

“Everything looks good,” the doctor announced. “No reason you can’t travel whenever you want.”

“I’m leaving tomorrow,” she said.

“Make sure you check in with your regular doctor within a week or two. He should be able to assist you with any side effects from your procedure and recommend a fertility specialist.”

“Fertility specialist?” she echoed. “I don’t understand. I can’t have children.”

“You can’t bear children,” the doctor agreed. “But your ovaries are intact. It might be possible to harvest your eggs and freeze them in case you decide to pursue motherhood in the future.”

“I could be a mother?” Olivia breathed, overcome by the possibility that something she’d longed for with all her heart could still come to pass.

“You’d need to find a surrogate,” the doctor said, his eyes twinkling. “And of course, you’d need a father, but it’s certainly a possibility.”

“I never imagined...” Her voice trailed off.

“Medical science is making miracles happen every day.”

The doctor left her alone to dress and Olivia went through the motions in a daze. Her first impulse was to call Gabriel and tell him her news. Then she imagined how that call would go.

Gabriel, I have great news, I might be able to be a mother, after all. It’s chancy and it will involve another woman carrying the baby, but it would be my egg.

Could a country as traditional as Sherdana accept a prince conceived in a test tube? And raised by a mother who hadn’t actually carried him inside her for nine months?

Could Gabriel?

When Olivia returned to her suite at the hotel, she couldn’t stop pacing as her mind spun through her options. Possible scenarios crowded her like desperate beggars in need of coin. Staring out the window at the river, she held her phone against her chest and searched for the courage she needed to dial Gabriel’s number and tell him that she loved him and find out if he was willing to take a risk with her.

The sun had set by the time she dialed. With her heart pounding against her ribs, she counted rings, her hope fading as the number grew larger. When his deep voice poured through the receiver, telling her he was unavailable and asking her to leave a message at the tone, she held her breath for five seconds, then disconnected the call. She really didn’t want to share her news with his voice mail.