‘Would you have liked them to be yours?’ she heard herself whisper foolishly.
You must be joking! Star reddened fiercely at that retort. What a stupid question to ask! Instead of asking it, she should just have told him the truth. Whether Luc liked it or not, Venus and Mars, fancifully christened by Juno, were his son and daughter.
Luc strode out past her. Leaving the door carefully ajar, Star followed him back into the kitchen.
‘In fact, I’m extremely grateful that they are not my children,’ Luc drawled in level continuation as he took up a commanding stance by the hearth, his lean, dark, devastating features cool as ice. ‘It would have complicated the divorce and made a clean break impossible. Considering that we have about as much in common as oil and water, joint custody would have been a serious challenge.’
Star was pale as death now. His reaction shook her to her very depths. All right, so he had never thought of her as his wife. Yet when Rory had walked in Luc had been angry, aggressive, powered, it had seemed, by some atavistic all-male territorial instinct. She had never seen that side of him before, but now she had to accept that his reaction to Rory had simply stemmed from his savage pride.
Didn’t he have any normal feelings at all? How could Luc just stand there telling her that he was relieved and grateful that her babies were supposedly nothing to do with him? In pained fascination, she searched his face, absently noting the very faint sheen of moisture on his dark golden skin, the unyielding blank darkness of his hooded gaze.
‘I was leaving…’ Luc studied his diminutive wife, struggling to distance himself, black fury like a thick, suffocating smoke fogging his usually ordered thoughts. Suddenly he understood why so many unfaithful wives had ended up losing their heads to Madame Guillotine during the French Revolution. Feeling the slight tremor in his hands, he dug them rawly into the pockets of his well-cut pants. Nobody will ever love you as much as I do. Such soft words, such empty promises. He was not a violent man. But he wanted to remind her who she belonged to. No, she did not belong to him, he adjusted at grim speed. He did not want her to belong to him. He had meant every word he had said.
Star moved anxious hands. ‘Could we just talk?’
‘Talk?’ Luc growled, not quite levelly, watching the way the flickering candlelight played over her porcelain-fine skin, accentuating the distinctive colour of her eyes and the full, inviting softness of her ripe mouth.
‘About Juno?’ Star moistened her dry lips with the tip of her tongue and watched Luc tense, his stunning dark eyes welding to her with sudden force.
‘No?’ Colour mantled Star’s cheekbones as the raw tension in the atmosphere increased. Her heart skipped a beat and then began to thump against her ribcage. Her mouth running dry, she tensed in dismay as she felt her breasts lift and swell, the rosy peaks tightening into mortifying prominence.
Luc’s brilliant eyes flamed over her. ‘If you spend the night with me, I’ll let you both off the hook…’
‘I b-beg your pardon?’ Star stammered dizzily.
‘I won’t put the police on Juno’s trail.’ He gazed back at her steadily, not a muscle moving in his lean, strong face. ‘One night. Tonight. That’s the price.’
Her soft full mouth fell open. She closed it again, and tried and failed to swallow. She felt as if the ground had suddenly fallen away beneath her feet. ‘You’re not serious…you can’t be!’
The silence shimmered like a heatwave between them.
‘Why shouldn’t I be serious?’ Luc angled his well-shaped dark head back, a hard smile slanting his wide, sensual mouth. ‘One night only. Then tomorrow you travel down to London with me to see Emilie. Together we reassure her that she has nothing further to worry about. After that, we never see each other again in this lifetime.’
Her stomach twisted at that clarified picture. ‘But you don’t want me—’
‘Don’t I?’ Luc moved a slow, fluid step closer, dark eyes mesmerically intense as they scanned her bemused face. ‘Just one more time…’