Leaving silence in her wake, Star returned to the twins, happily dozing in their seats like twin angels. Well, their father is no angel, she thought furiously.

CHAPTER NINE

A HELICOPTER took them the last brief leg of the journey.

‘That’s the villa down there!’ Luc shouted above the noise of the rotors.

Star gazed down into a breathtakingly beautiful wooded gorge and saw a villa with a terracotta roof perched just above a stretch of golden sand. A ribbon of road ran down through steep, tortuous bends beneath the trees, but she could see no other houses. A private hideaway…just when she wanted crowds to prevent her lunging for Luc’s jugular vein!

Although Star had a quick temper, she usually cooled down again even quicker. But this time she just found herself getting even angrier with Luc. Luc, whom she had once worshipped rather like a god, whom she had unquestioningly accepted was in every way superior to her humble self. Cleverer, stronger, better than her in every way. But Luc had attacked her once too often with her supposed flaws and mistakes.

Descending from the helicopter, clutching Venus, Star studied the rambling, spacious villa. Backed by a grove of tall cypress and beech trees, the weathered tawny stone gleamed like gold in the glowing light of sunset. Even a sourpuss would have been forced to admit that it was an absolutely out-of-this-world setting. And when Luc showed her through the front door it just got better and better. Marble-tiled floors, stylish, comfortable furniture, ornate lamps and vases, beautiful bedrooms and bathrooms, and cots dressed with broderie anglaise bedding awaiting the twins.

‘How did you get this place at such short notice…a cancellation?’ she heard herself ask, although she had been assiduously ignoring him.

‘It’s been in the family for a while.’

Star’s face took on a jaundiced look. She should have known. Private, exclusive, possessed of every conceivable luxury. ‘Was that a Jacuzzi out front?’

‘Oui…’

‘Well, you needn’t think you’re getting me into that.’

She listened to him audibly exhale, and busied herself with Venus and Mars. She had readied them for bed before they’d left the jet and they were snug in their respective Babygros.

Luc hovered. ‘You’re not going to have to cook or anything—’

‘Oh, I know that. You wouldn’t want to be poisoned, would you?’

Ignoring that comment, Luc mentioned the maid who would be coming in twice a day, and who would also be available to stay over if they wanted to dine out.

Star put the twins in the cots and thought what truly wonderful babies they were, neither of them one bit bothered by all the different places they had had to sleep recently.

‘If you give me the chance, I’ll apologise,’ Luc drawled levelly.

‘Forget it…it would be wasted on me. I’m just sick and tired of you always criticising me—’

‘Star…I very much want this to be a special time for us,’ Luc said. ‘I accept that I spoilt things, but it’s not like you to hold spite.’

‘No, more’s the pity.’ Star surveyed him, aquamarine eyes shimmering. It annoyed her right then that he looked so absolutely gorgeous and so absolutely reasonable, as if he was trying to deal gently with a very sulky child. ‘I mean, you didn’t hang back when it came to censuring my actions, did you? So why did I? And I did hold back!’

‘If you’ve got something to say, say it…’

‘Have you a pen?’

His black brows pleating, he tugged a gold pen from his inside pocket. Star strolled into the main reception room and espied a notepad by the phone. Sitting down on a sofa, she proceeded to write.

‘What are you doing?’

‘You’re clever when you argue. I want to be sure I’m not knocked off track. I want to be sure I get everything out!’

‘I think I’ll go for a walk on the beach, and maybe by the time—’

‘By the time you get back, I’ll have cooled off?’ Star loosed a driven laugh. ‘No chance, Luc. Right, are you ready?’

‘Is this really necessary?’

‘If you want me to stay married to you beyond the next five minutes, it is very necessary,’ Star stated tightly. ‘Point one. I do not like being treated like a child. I’m a woman and a mother. I will not be patronised.’

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