‘Did you really think that I wouldn’t work out that Emilie appears to believe that your children are mine?’ Luc demanded with sardonic bite.

Since Star had been guilty of thinking exactly that, she was taken entirely by surprise. A split second later, she found she could not meet his hard, challenging gaze either. Her own shrinking reluctance to tell him the truth about the twins had created this particular misunderstanding.

‘You never think anything through to its likely conclusion,’ Luc said very drily.

In this particular case he was undeniably correct, and Star was stung. ‘How did you guess?’ she heard herself asking.

‘Emilie would not have welcomed your children had she not believed that I was their father,’ Luc pointed out.

And, once again, he was quite right, Star acknowledged with gritted teeth. Had the twins been the result of an extramarital affair, Emilie Auber would have been very distressed by their birth. Nor, in such circumstances, would she have been so willing to believe the story of their supposed reconciliation.

‘Whatever lies you employed to persuade her into crediting that cosy little fiction are your own responsibility,’ Luc continued. ‘But let me warn you now that while I appreciate the shock which Emilie will suffer when you admit the truth, I won’t allow that lie to stand even temporarily in my own home. No matter what discomfiture it causes you, I have no intention of playing along with that particular pretence.’

Star scanned his lean, strong face with sudden aghast intensity. ‘But everyone will think I’m a real tart!’

‘You said it,’ Luc murmured with lethal cool.

Pulverised by that final comment, and furious at herself for giving him that opening, Star watched him swing out of the car with predatory grace and stride towards the entrance of the London headquarters of the Sarrazin bank. Somewhat belatedly, it occurred to her that she had been foolish to allow Luc to continue believing that their children had been fathered by another man, foolish to place her own pride ahead of what was, after all, an unalterable fact. And the sooner she told Luc the truth now the better.

* * *

When Star boarded the Sarrazin private jet, she was clutching a squirming Venus under one arm and a clinging Mars under the other. Her floaty blue skirt and white cropped top were sticking to her damp skin. After rushing through the airport, she was feeling really harassed.

Luc strode out to greet her. Sheathed in a formal navy pinstripe suit embellished with a silk geometric print tie, he looked shockingly sexy. A guilty little tremor ran down her backbone.

‘Do you realise how long we’ve been waiting for you?’

Her backbone became suddenly less sensitive. ‘I’m sorry.’

She could have bitten her tongue out as soon as she said it. Unfortunately, Emilie had trained her too well, to always apologise for being late. However, Star had had a very difficult afternoon. With no prior preparation, packing for herself and the twins and closing up Highburn Castle had been serious hard work.

She had phoned Rory as soon as she’d got home. He had arrived while she was still struggling to get organised. He had been shattered when she’d told him that she was flying back to France with Luc. While she had still been trying to explain Emilie’s financial situation, he had walked out in a temper. Now she could not imagine how she had ever thought she could hold onto any kind of relationship with Rory when Luc had stolen her life and her freedom for months to come.

‘Who disabled the car phone?’ Luc enquired glacially.

‘I did.’ Star owned up straight off. ‘I told you we were stuck in a traffic jam. I didn’t see the point of five-minute bulletins.’

Luc breathed in very deep. A combination of relief and raw exasperation powered through him. Punctual to a fault himself, he found her laid-back attitude infuriating. Star could leave a room promising to be just five minutes and then forget to come back at all. She was very easily distracted. But when telephone contact with the limousine had abruptly been severed, Luc’s stress level had rocketed. He had wondered if Star had changed her mind about their arrangement and gone for the sort of sudden vanishing act her flighty mother excelled at.

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