‘Shut up?’ Luc slotted in rawly.

‘No, if I’d been legitimate, rich and real snobby, you’d have thought I was really special!’

‘Would your mother still have been part of the deal?’

‘You pig…how dare you insult my mother?’ she launched at him in a tempest of renewed fury.

Luc strode forward and just swept her up off her feet into his arms. ‘Now where did you find an insult in such a simple question?’ he probed, angling a razor-edged smile of grim amusement down at her confused face as he strode for the stairs.

‘Put me down, Luc—’

‘So that I can chase you all round one of the largest chateaux in the Loire? You must really think I am stupid, mon ange.’

‘I think you’re very stupid thinking that a caveman display of brute male strength is likely to silence and subdue me back into doormat mould!’

Luc said nothing, but his jawline took on an even more aggressive slant as he carted her up the stairs and across the landing.

‘I hope you put your back out doing this!’ Star goaded, wanting him to react again.

‘In spite of a temper that would grace a fishwife, you don’t weigh any more than a doll.’ Shouldering open the door of his bedroom, Luc kicked it shut again behind them, crossed the room and tumbled her down on the bed in a heap. ‘But if you get me mad enough, I’m not so buttoned down that I can’t match you!’

Righting herself into a sitting position, Star slung back her head and directed a scornful glance at the tall dark male standing over her. ‘What did you bring me up here for? An argument where the staff are less likely to hear us?’

Backing off several steps, Luc wrenched off his tie and pitched his jacket down on the floor.

That very unexpected development grabbed Star’s entire attention. ‘If you think for one moment that I have any intention of letting you—’

‘Letting me?’ Luc queried with an insolent appraisal that was so blisteringly confident it made her teeth grit. ‘You’d let me have you in a thunderstorm, with lightning hitting the ground round us and a full orchestra playing beside us.’

‘Why, you—’

‘And you wouldn’t notice the storm or the music because you would be that lost in what I can make you feel,’ Luc derided, ripping off his shirt with such impatience that several buttons went skimming in all directions. ‘And you call my hormones over-active? Even before I married you, you were eating me alive with the strength of your desire for me.’

‘I never once approached you that way!’ Star raged back at him, her cheeks red as fire.

‘Approach me? What would you need to approach me for when your eyes did your craving for you? Then I thought you didn’t realise what you were doing; now I suspect you knew all along.’

‘I was a virgin!’ Star proclaimed with embarrassed but infuriated reproach.

‘There was nothing remotely virginal about the way you looked at me.’

‘How many virgins have you tripped over?’

‘One was quite enough,’ Luc assured her wrathfully.

‘It gave you a kick being lusted after, though, didn’t it?’ Star hissed like a spitting cat. ‘I mean, you certainly did not avoid me—as you should have done if you didn’t want to encourage me.’

‘Mais c’est insensé…that’s crazy! I assumed that the more you saw of me, the more you would appreciate that I was far too old for you and far too boring to be an object of such excessive adoration!’ Luc slashed back at her.

‘It was not excessive. I loved you! And you were only boring when you started rabbiting on about that stupid bank.’

A line of dark feverish colour rose over his taut cheekbones at that less than tactful confirmation.

He could actually look hurt, Star registered in absolute total shock as she saw the shaken flash in his beautiful dark eyes. ‘I mean, I didn’t understand what you were talking about, so it was bound to be less than totally absorbing…and my mind used to drift away all the time, until I was just listening to the s-sound of your voice.’

The wobble in her own voice developed as he peeled off his trousers.

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