At that charge, which had its basis in actual fact, Star paled. Simultaneously from somewhere in the distance there was the most almighty screeching sound, followed by a loud crash. As she jerked back from him, Star’s eyes flew wide with dismay.

Luc swung away with a frown. ‘What was that?’

Star groaned. ‘It sounded like the scaffolding coming down.’

Loosing an impatient expletive in his own language, Luc headed for the door. Star only then recalled that he had parked his car beneath the scaffolding surrounding the tower. Pausing this time to thrust her feet into the leather toe-post sandals lying on her bedroom floor, she hurried outside after him.

When she reached Luc’s side he was poised in silence, scanning the huge heap of twisted metal framing and rotten splintered wooden panels which had come down on top of his gorgeous sports car. The car was all but buried from view on three sides.

‘Pour l’amour du ciel…’ he ground out in raw disbelief, abruptly springing back into motion to stride towards the still accessible driver’s door.

‘What are you doing?’ Star cried in panic, grabbing his sleeve to hold him back.

‘I need my mobile phone!’ Luc launched down at her.

‘Are you crazy?’ Star pointed to the single tier of scaffolding still hanging at a precarious angle above the destruction below. ‘That could fall at any minute!’

‘Oui…I’m crazy.’ Luc flung her a grim slashing glance. ‘When you last looked into your little crystal pyramid, did you put a curse on me?’

Star stiffened until her muscles were as tight as a drum skin. After that derisive response, she resisted the urge to tell him that many people believed in the value of crystal healing. ‘There’s a phone in the kitchen. You’re welcome to use it.’

She walked away, but before she disappeared from sight she stole an anxious glance back. She could see that Luc was still calculating the chance of that last section of scaffolding falling at the exact moment he retrieved his phone from his car.

‘Don’t you dare, Luc Sarrazin!’ Star screamed back against the wind, infuriated by his obstinacy, that indefinable male streak which could not bear to duck a challenge.

And in that split second, with a wrenching noise of metallic protest, the remainder of the frame leant outward and came tumbling thunderously down, forcing Luc to back off fast.

Well, that took care of that problem, Star reflected gratefully, and hurried back indoors again.

Luc followed her into the kitchen and approached the huge built-in dresser where the phone sat. ‘Who owns this Gothic horror of a dump?’ he demanded in a flat tone of freezing self-restraint. ‘I intend to sue the owner.’

‘Last I heard, Carlton was on a Caribbean island repairing boat engines for the locals. He’s poorer than a church mouse,’ Star proffered ruefully.

At that news, Luc breathed in so deep she marvelled at the capacity of his lungs. ‘That structure was in a very dangerous condition—’

‘Yes. An accident waiting to happen.’

His glorious accent was so thick it growled along her nerve-endings like rough tweed catching on the smoothest silk. He was furious, she recognised, outraged by the owner’s irresponsibility, not to mention any circumstance which could maroon him in a dilapidated dwelling at the back end of nowhere. She watched him shoot a granite-hard glance of displeasure at his homely surroundings and the strangest feelings began blossoming in Star.

At that instant, Luc was just so human in his fury and his exasperation he provoked a huge melting tide of sympathetic warmth within her. His control over his emotions was so engrained he would not allow himself to shout and storm like most other men would have done. Yet he would be feeling so much less tense and angry if he let himself go. Of course, he wouldn’t let himself go, she conceded wryly. But such infuriating events as collapsing scaffolding did not figure much in Luc’s life.

He rarely drove himself anywhere. He was a brilliant banker with immense power and influence. A fabulously wealthy but driven workaholic, who had his routine as slavishly organised for him as a prisoner locked up behind bars. His daily existence was smoothed by servants, efficient bank staff, a fleet of chauffeur-driven limos and helicopters and a private jet. In his world of gilded privilege, disaster was invariably kept at a distance, and the irritating, time-consuming repercussions dealt with by someone else.

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