Juno was still very bitter about that. Roland Sarrazin had applied to a French court to gain full custody of her daughter.
Luc had only been twenty then, but he had had an authority and a maturity far beyond his years. Star had waited outside their shabby one-room apartment while Luc talked to her mother. Within a couple of hours of that meeting Star had found herself accompanying Luc on a flight back to France.
Luc hadn’t had a clue how to talk to a child, but he had made a real effort to be kind and reassuring. He had also appeared to believe that she was coming to live with his family, and he had described Chateau Fontaine, their fabulous seventeenth-century home in the Loire valley.
But on their arrival there his father’s air of frigid disapproval had frightened and confused Star. Apart from commenting that she was a astonishingly plain little girl, Luc’s beautiful mother, Lilliane, had displayed no more interest in her than she might have done in a stray cat.
‘My parents are very busy people.’ Luc had hunkered down to Star’s level to explain when she’d looked up at him with big hurt eyes welling with tears.
‘They don’t w-want me,’ she had sobbed helplessly. ‘Why did you bring me here?’
‘My father is your legal guardian.’
‘What about my mum?’
‘Right now your mother can’t look after you the way you need to be looked after, and she wants you to catch up with your schooling.’
The following day, Luc had flown her over to Emilie in London. She had been greeted with open arms and homemade lemonade and biscuits.
Of course, how could Luc have explained that his father had been outraged at being landed with responsibility for her? A formidably correct man, with immense pride in his own respectability, Roland Sarrazin had had a pronounced horror of scandal. Years earlier, Philippe Roussel had disgraced his own family. The circumstances in which Star and her mother had been living, not to mention the discovery that Star was not Philippe’s child, had convinced Roland Sarrazin that to protect himself from any further embarrassment he should ensure that Star’s mother, Juno, was kept out of her daughter’s life.
Emerging from the memory of that cold-blooded and entirely selfish decision, Star glanced at Luc. He had a desk in his limo: that really said it all. He was using a laptop computer while simultaneously talking on the phone. They had shared not a word of conversation since the journey began. The twins, initially eager to attract Luc’s attention, had finally given up on him and dozed off.
Star found herself watching the way stray shards of dimmed sunlight flickered through the tinted windows, glinting over the springy luxuriance of his black hair, shadowing a hard cheekbone and accentuating the lush length of lashes longer than her own. One lean brown shapely hand rested on the edge of the desk. Dear heaven, even his hands were beautiful, she thought, suddenly stricken to the heart and sucking in a steadying breath so deep it left her dizzy.
A phone buzzed. Luc lifted his arrogant dark head, a slight frown line etched between his winged brows as he recognised that the phone ringing was not, in fact, his. Star dug into her capacious bag to produce the mobile which Rory had given her for her recent birthday, thinking how unfortunate it was that she had never got the chance to give her mother the number of her mobile phone.
‘Star, where are you?’ Rory demanded anxiously. ‘I drove up and saw that car buried under the scaffolding. I was afraid that you’d been hurt!’
‘Oh, no, I’m fine…really I am, Rory.’ Star smiled with determination, grateful for anything capable of distracting her from Luc’s intense visual appeal. Just like the night they had shared, such reactions belonged in the past now, she reminded herself doggedly. It was Rory she should be concentrating on. Rory, who was steady and caring. Rory, who would probably never seek a mistress who resembled a supermodel…
‘Luc’s taking me to visit Emilie. I was sort of rushed out the door and I forgot to call you.’ Star faltered on that last enervating recollection of Gabrielle Joly.
‘When will you be home?’ Rory prompted.
‘Soon…’ Looking up to meet Luc’s eyes, which were as cold and dark as the river Styx, reputed to lead into the underworld, Star swallowed with difficulty. ‘Look, I’ll call you when I get back. I’ll make a meal,’ she proffered on the spur of the moment.