‘Do you think you could offer to take one of the twins for me?’ Star prompted as the ache in her arms at the combined weight of the babies reached an unbearable level.

‘Take one of the…?’ Luc just froze.

Star shifted closer and indicated Venus with a downward motion of her chin.

‘Where do I take hold of it?’ Luc demanded.

‘Just grab her before I drop her!’ Star urged.

Luc clasped Venus between two stiff hands and held his daughter in mid-air like an unexploded bomb. Initially delighted by the transfer, Venus then picked up on that adult uncertainty and let out an anxious wail of fright. In response, Luc extended his arms to put an even greater distance between them. Venus squirmed and yelped in panic, clearly thinking she was on the way to being dropped.

‘Hold her close, for goodness’ sake…you’re frightening the life out of her!’ Banding both her arms round Mars, Star sighed with relief at the easing of the strain in her muscles.

Luc grated, ‘I’ve never held a baby before!’

‘Well, it’s about time you learned. Babies are very touchy-feely and like to know they’re secure.’ Out of the corner of her eye, she watched Luc draw Venus closer with such pronounced reluctance she could have kicked him.

‘Why’s she going all slack?’ Luc enquired in a driven undertone.

‘Because she’s in cuddle mode.’ She watched Venus snuggle her curly head down on Luc’s shoulder and just sag, the way very tired babies do.

‘She’s got little bones like a bird,’ Luc drawled flatly. ‘I was afraid I might hurt her.’

In the luxurious working area which made up only about a sixth of the passenger space available on the extensive Sarrazin jet, Star settled Mars into one of the baby seats awaiting occupancy. Luc bent down for her to peel Venus off his shoulder.

‘Cots have been organised for them in the rear cabin,’ Luc advanced.

Star strapped herself in beside the twins. Minutes later, the powerful jet taxied towards the runway. Luc was already perusing a file at the far side of the cabin. Star suppressed a rueful laugh. She had planned to tell Luc during the flight that Venus and Mars were his own flesh and blood. But she was exhausted, and what difference would another few hours make? She would be calmer and better equipped to deal with making that announcement in the morning.

As soon as they were airborne, the stewardess approached her and showed her down to the rear cabin, mentioning that a meal was about to be served, but Star said that she wasn’t hungry. Having settled Venus and Mars into the cots, she decided to take advantage of the bed beside them and get some rest.

About ten minutes later, the door opened with quiet care. ‘You should eat something,’ Luc informed her levelly.

Half asleep, Star flipped over, copper hair tumbling over one exotic cheekbone, aquamarine eyes heavy. Light spilled in from the passage to glimmer over the satin-smooth skin of her slender waist where the crop-top had ridden up. As she stretched unselfconsciously, the extended length of one long shapely leg emerged from the folds of her skirt.

She studied Luc from below her dark lashes, the perceptible tension in the atmosphere tugging at her senses.

‘You look like a gipsy,’ Luc murmured.

The dark, deep pitch of his accented drawl quivered along her nerve-endings, awakening treacherous warmth low in the pit of her stomach.

‘Sauvage…wild,’ he breathed in husky addition.

Suddenly her every muscle was taut. She stared helplessly at him. So tall, so dark, so extravagantly, breathtakingly gorgeous. Hunger surged up inside her with such greedy immediacy she could barely breathe. In a split second she relived the urgent passionate force of his sensual mouth only just over twenty-four hours earlier, the hard, powerful pressure of his expert body moving on and in hers. Sensual weakness cascaded like melting fire through her, her breasts now full and swelling, their pointed peaks tightening into aching prominence. But then, just as suddenly, she remembered how Luc had behaved after he had got out of her bed. Cool, distant, dismissive, all intimacy forgotten.

Star lifted her bright head from the pillow, aquamarine eyes glinting now with angry self-loathing. ‘Wild…but not free…not free to you ever again,’ she told him.

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