‘I know you’re awake,’ Luc remarked lazily.

Her lashes practically hit her eyebrows. ‘How?’

A vibrant smile curved Luc’s mouth. ‘I spoke and you took the bait!’

She laughed, but it was a challenge. At that instant, his dark, vibrant magnetism just took her breath away.

Wearing only a pair of boxer shorts, Luc strolled across to the bed and sank lithely down on the edge, all bronzed skin, rippling muscles and tangible energy. He handed her a gold credit card and a fat wad of francs. ‘You need to do some serious shopping today.’

‘Why?’

‘Surprise…’ His dark eyes gleamed. ‘But shop for somewhere hot.’

She sat up with a jerk. ‘Are we going away?’

‘Late afternoon. You, me, the twins.’

Very slowly Star nodded; she was totally stunned. Luc had once had the same view of holidays as Scrooge had had of Christmas. What was making him so volatile? Why all these inexplicable changes of mood? Last night he had been grim as hell when he’d turned away from her in a very hurtful rejection, and now? Like a guy on a mission, he radiated charisma and smiles.

‘For a couple of weeks,’ Luc added casually.

‘What about the bank?’

‘I’m tearing myself away from it…but I have to go in today to tie up a few loose ends…OK, mon ange?’ Lowering his dark head, Luc crushed her parted lips with hungry brevity beneath his, and then rose with unconcealed reluctance again.

‘OK…’ she said breathlessly.

As he got dressed, Luc listened with the utmost contentment to Star singing off-key in the shower. To think he had actually been apprehensive about the reception he might receive! Storming off last night had been a major misjudgement, he acknowledged. If she had done the same thing to him, he would have been ready to strangle her. Fortunately, Star was happily distracted by the idea of a holiday.

And around dawn Luc had finally seen the error of his ways. Under no circumstances was he prepared to wait until the end of the summer to discover their ultimate fate as a family. And the solution to that problem was so simple that Luc could not credit he had taken so long to see it. He had to make Star fall in love with him again. Then a nuclear bomb wouldn’t shift her from his side…

* * *

Star spent the morning shopping in Nantes.

In a medieval side-street, she found a fabulous baby shop, and kitted Venus and Mars out with substantial new wardrobes. When cost didn’t have to be considered, she discovered to her delight, she could shop at supersonic speed. She bought lingerie by the handful, swimwear and new toe-post sandals in five different colours. In quick succession she went on to purchase T-shirts, two short skirts, five long floaty ones she couldn’t choose between, three new dresses and canvas shoes. Stocking up on suncream, a new straw hat and a pair of leopard print sunglasses completed the trip.

With Bertille’s organisational ability to hand, and the wonderful knowledge that she could pack the kitchen sink if she so desired, Star had closed the last suitcase and had changed into a fashionably short lemon lace-lined skirt, teamed with a sequinned white T-shirt, when the internal phone rang to inform her that she had a visitor waiting to see her, a Mr Martin. Rory…Rory was here in France?

Star flew down the stairs like the wind. Rory was in the hall, looking amazingly elegant in white jeans and a designer T-shirt with a striped cotton sweater casually knotted round his slim shoulders.

As Luc strolled through the imposing front door of his ancestral home, wondering who owned the Porsche with the British registration parked out front, he was just in time to see his wife hurl herself joyously into Rory’s arms.

‘What a brilliant surprise!’ With the ease of long friendship, Star gripped the young blond man’s arms, stretched up to kiss his cheek and then held him back from her to subject him to a long, exaggerated appraisal before sounding a low wolf-whistle of admiration. ‘Wow! Love those sexy white jeans…don’t you look like a really cool dude?’

Rory grinned. ‘I brought the Porsche Cabriolet too—’

‘Poser!’ she mocked, her aquamarine eyes dancing. ‘And to think you made me travel round in an ancient old rust-bucket because you didn’t want your workmates to know that you were a rich kid.’

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