‘Oui, your husband,’ Luc drawled, his husky French accent dramatising every syllable with the most incredibly sexy edge.
A tide of colour washed over Star’s triangular face. She shut her eyes in dismay at that last forbidden thought about his accent and struggled to get a grip on herself.
‘Surely you expected me to track you down sooner or later?’
‘Not really, no…’ Star mumbled, eyes shooting wide again to telegraph a look of naked panic. She was trying to picture herself telling him the most unwelcome news he would probably ever hear. That he was the father of twelve-month-old twins.
Luc’s beautifully modelled wide, sensual mouth compressed into a hard line. ‘Guilt is written all over you!’ he ground out in icy disgust.
He knew. He knew about the twins! What else could he be talking about? He must have leant on poor Emilie and browbeaten her into spilling the beans. And he wasn’t wrong about the guilt. At that moment, Star was just eaten alive by that sensation, and at the same time savagely hurt. It had been one thing to imagine how Luc might react, quite another to be confronted with the brutal reality of that rejection.
‘ALORS!’ Luc slung the noisy scaffolding girding the castle frontage a grim appraisal. ‘Take me inside,’ he instructed in imperious command.
‘The front door doesn’t open…you’ll have to come round the back.’ Alarmingly conscious of Luc powering along beside her, impatiently curtailing his long stride to her smaller steps, Star hurried breathlessly back round to the rear of the castle.
‘I’m so s-sorry, Luc…I really am,’ she stammered truthfully in the dim passageway which led past several doors into the basement kitchen. It was her only reception area, and although daylight was only just beginning to fade she already had candles lit, because it was a dark room, and the place needed rewiring.
One step into the kitchen, Luc surveyed her with dark eyes colder than frostbite. ‘By the time I have finished taking this betrayal out of your useless little hide, you’ll understand the true meaning of what it feels like to be sorry!’
Shaken by such a level of condemnation, Star turned even paler. Did he think that she should have terminated her pregnancy? Was that what he was getting at? Had it been a betrayal of trust to give birth to children he would not have wanted her to have? Her tummy muscles knotted up. ‘Sometimes things just g-go wrong, Luc—’
‘Not in my life they don’t…not once until you came along,’ he completed with icy exactitude.
In the face of an accusation that she was aware had more than a smidgen of truth, Star braced herself with one nerveless hand on the back of the sagging armchair by the range and stared helplessly at him, registering every detail of his appearance. His superb charcoal-grey silk suit sheathed his broad shoulders and the long, powerful length of leg in the kind of fabulous fit only obtainable from extremely expensive tailoring. His luxuriant black hair had been ruffled by the wind, but the excellence of the cut had ensured that the springy dark gleaming strands just fell back into place.
Briefly engaged in sparing his humble domestic surroundings a grim, lip-curling appraisal, Luc turned his attention back to her without warning.
Flash! As Star collided with the long-lashed brilliance of his stunning dark deep-set eyes, it was like finding herself thrust into an electric storm. Heat speared through her slight frame. Feverish pink sprang up over her slanted cheekbones. She trembled, every sense awakened to painful life and sensitivity, an intense awareness of her own body engulfing her to blur every rational thought.
Silence banged thunderously in her ears, her heart thumping a frantic tattoo against her breastbone. A wanting so powerful it left her weak had seized her, dewing her skin with perspiration, stealing her ability to breathe or vocalise. What was it about him? She had asked herself that so many times. The obvious? He was fantastically good-looking. So tall, so dark and beautifully built. His maternal grandmother had been an Italian countess. That heritage was etched in his fabulous bone structure, the blue-black ebony of his hair and the golden hue of his skin.
Was that really the only reason she yearned for him with every fibre of her being and when deprived of him, felt only half alive? It had to be the only reason, she told herself frantically.