‘You don’t want me. You never did! I’m not your type,’ Star argued, as if she was repeating a personal mantra, a fevered, disbelieving edge to her voice.
‘Except in bed,’ Luc extended without hesitation.
Star stilled in astonishment. Then she jerked in reaction to that revelation. He was finally acknowledging a fact he had refused to concede eighteen months earlier. Luc could find her desirable. The night the twins had been conceived, Luc had genuinely responded to her, not just to the anonymous invitation of a female body in his bed. The following morning, his cold silence on that point had shattered what little had remained of her pride.
Anger and regret now foamed up inside her in a bewildering surge. ‘Couldn’t you just have admitted that to me eighteen months ago?’
‘No,’ Luc drawled smoothly. ‘It would have encouraged you to believe that our marriage had a future.’
The heat still singing through Star’s blood suddenly slowed and chilled. Such cool calculation stabbed her to the heart and unnerved her.
‘But that was then and this is now,’ Luc stressed with syllabic sibilance.
Now, she repeated to herself in reminder. Now, when Luc had knocked her sideways by suggesting that they spend one last night together. Why not? With his customary cool he had already boxed her in with cruel, unfeeling boundaries to ensure that she didn’t misunderstand the exact tenor of his proposition.
He had told her he wanted a divorce. He had told her that after tomorrow they would never meet again.
Star’s throat constricted. Her wretched body might quicken at one glance from those stunning dark eyes of his, but did he really think she held herself that cheap?
‘You don’t want me enough…’ Even as that impulsive contention escaped her Star tried to bite the words back, for they revealed all too much of her own feelings.
Luc surveyed her steadily, devastating dark eyes fiercely intent. ‘How much is enough?’
She wanted him on his knees. She wanted him desperate, telling her that never in his life had he experienced such hunger for any woman. If she couldn’t get into his mind, it would be the next best thing. Hot colour warmed her cheekbones.
‘How much?’ Luc repeated huskily.
‘M-more…’ The current of excitement he generated in her as he moved closer literally strangled her vocal cords.
More? What did that mean? Familiar frustration raked through Luc. He felt like a man trying to capture a dancing shard of sunlight. He felt out of his depth, which infuriated him. He had expected her to grab that offer with both hands. She never looked before she leapt. She was as hot for him as he was for her. He saw it in her, he could feel it in her, only this time she was holding back. Star, exercising restraint? Why? What more could he offer?
‘Cash inducement?’ Luc enquired with lethal cynicism.
Her eyes widened, and then she couldn’t help it. A nervous laugh bubbled from her dry throat.
His superb bone structure snapped taut, hooded dark eyes glittering. He reached out a lean brown hand, closed it over her narrow wrist and tugged her close, so close she stopped breathing. ‘You think this is funny?’
Belatedly, Star saw that he didn’t. He thought she was laughing at him, but sheer disbelief had made her laugh. She gazed up into the night-dark depths of his eyes. The wickedly familiar scent of him washed over her. The faint tug of some citrus-based lotion overlaying warm, husky male. She wanted to bury her face in his jacket and breathe him in like an intoxicating drug.
‘Not funny…sad.’ Star struggled to retain some element of concentration even as his raw magnetism pulled at her senses on every level. ‘I think you’d prefer it if I asked for money.’
He released his breath in a stark hiss. ‘That’s rubbish—’ ‘You could call me greedy then. You could judge me, stay in control.’
‘I’m not out of control.’
‘You like paying for things…you don’t value anything that comes free,’ Star condemned shakily, fighting not to lean into him.
‘Ciel!’ Luc countered with roughened frustration and impatience. ‘Since you and your mother entered my life, everything has had a price!’