Luc surveyed her with glittering intensity. ‘This has the feel of a negotiation—’

‘Ever the banker,’ Star heard herself chide, but she was on a high from the excitement electrifying the atmosphere, a high that increased to the level of a stunning power surge when Luc bent the entire force of his concentration on her.

‘The situation has changed—’

‘Has it?’ Star let her head tip back, soft, full mouth in a slight considering pout. ‘I don’t think so. I just think you always want what you believe you shouldn’t have. But leave me out of it. It’d cost you too much.’

‘How much?’

‘Your problem is that you can’t think of cost except in terms of money,’ Star sighed without surprise, knowing that he would definitely run a mile if he suspected that further intimacy might well persuade her to stick like glue to him and refuse a divorce for as long as she could.

Luc dragged in a roughened breath.

‘And anyway,’ Star purred, like a little cat flexing her claws as she sent him a sidewise languishing glance, ‘I’m not tall or blonde or sophisticated. So we can’t possibly have a problem, can we?’

Without the slightest warning, Luc bent down and hauled her slight figure all the way up into the strong circle of his arms. A startled gasp of disbelief was wrenched from Star. He welded her into every angle of his hard, masculine physique and crushed her soft mouth with savage hunger under his. He stole every scrap of air from her quivering body. Burning fire leapt up at the very heart of her, a sweet, desperate ache stirring to make her slender thighs tremble.

Luc lowered her very gently down onto the bed again. Before he left, he scanned her flushed and bemused face with slumbrous amusement. ‘It’s not a problem for me, mon ange.’

He was right; it was her problem, Star acknowledged in shaken honesty. He had shot her to the height of excitement so fast she was still reeling from the extent of her own weakness. She hadn’t realised that her limited ability to resist Luc might be tested again. Only now did she see that in acceding with such apparent ease to Luc’s request that she spend one last night with him she had given him entirely the wrong impression. About her, about her attitude to sex…

Indeed, the very worst impression that she could have given him now that they were pretending to be reconciled for Emilie’s benefit! Star cringed, embarrassed and angry with herself when it was far too late to change anything. Luc assumed that what she had done with such seeming casualness once she would surely be eager to do again. And evidently Luc was more than willing to take advantage of any such eagerness on her part. Yet that reality left Star in even deeper shock. Luc was finally awarding her adult status, but only in the most basic field a woman could qualify in.

But their marriage was over, and she didn’t believe in casual sex. The night before, she had genuinely been saying goodbye to Luc and her love for him. But a male as unemotional as Luc couldn’t possibly understand such reasoning. He had simply noted that his soon-to-be-ex-wife had demonstrated little reluctance to jump into bed with him again. In fact they might never have got beyond the kitchen had it been left up to her. So why didn’t she just face the ugly truth head-on? Luc now thought she was not much better than a tart…

Didn’t say much for his morals, did it? Naively, she would have believed that Luc would be too fastidious to want a woman who might make herself so freely available to men. Just showed how much she knew about his sex! Just showed how much she knew about the man she had married! Suddenly, Star was in a white-hot rage with Luc, and very, very grateful that they would be getting a divorce…

* * *

As the limousine travelled down the thickly wooded approach road to Chateau Fontaine, Mars finally fell asleep again.

Star could have wept at her son’s sense of timing. Mars had cried from the minute he was rudely removed from his cosy cot on board the Sarrazin jet. He had wailed like a howl alarm all the way through Nantes Atlantique airport. Working himself up into a state of inconsolable misery, he had kept his mother far too busy to worry about anything else.

But now, when she finally had the peace to consider the timing of the trip which she and the twins had been forced to make, her resentment overflowed. ‘Mars will probably be crying half the night.’

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