When she finished reading the articles and looking at the pictures, Amy felt sick. She reexamined them, anyway. When she was done, she shot to her feet and began to pace with the newspaper clutched to her heart. If half the accusations were true, she should despise him. Wadding the paper up, she threw the pages at the wall and then flung herself back down on Carol’s sofa.
Bastard. Liar. Jerk.
A memory came back to her. Remy had been eighteen, and she’d been in the garden when the comte had hurled brutal, damning insults at him. Never would she forget the torment in Remy’s eyes when he’d stormed out of the château and straight into her.
“What the hell were you doing?” he’d thundered. “Spying?”
“But I wasn’t.”
“Damn little eavesdropper! Get out of my way!”
“No. I—I wasn’t. I swear.”
“No. I—I’m sorry about what he said. Maybe he didn’t mean it.”
“Spare me your fake kindness. He meant it, all right. I hope I never have the bad fortune to meet you or your aunt again.” He slammed past her and out the gate and she hadn’t seen him for seventeen years. Till today.
And now? Outwardly he was much changed from the tall, awkward, angry boy who’d been so rude to her.
Fool. He’d been deliberately charming because he wanted the vineyard and the painting.
Still, he’d gone out of his way to make her like him. Even now when she should be furious because he’d deceived her so he could use her or so his agents could trick her, she wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt.
He is loathsome. So much worse than Fletcher.
But that woman who’d tried to kill herself had defended him.
Why did the bad boys of the world always appeal to her? Why couldn’t she fall for some nice, paunchy accountant going bald, someone like Carol’s Steve, an upright, type-A achiever? Or even just the normal guy Remy had described: the nice guy with a job who wants to settle down and marry so he can have a houseful of kids to play soccer with on the weekend.
If a hard-partying surfer was the frying pan, Remy, the womanizing, ex–Formula One driver, who’d watched her buy transparent panties and had made her pulse race, was definitely the fire.
She was lying on the couch in a state of utter depression as she tried without success to conjure up a dull ideal mate when the phone rang.
“Hey!” Carol said too brightly, sounding like her overly self-confident self. “I’m at the house. If you took the train from Euston, you’d be here in an hour and I could have dinner ready. The kids and Steve are very keen about seeing you.”
The very last person in London she felt like seeing was her perfect, superior, drop-dead gorgeous, big sister.
“I don’t feel too well,” she heard herself say.
“Something I ate, probably. Or jet lag. I’ll have to catch you on my way home.”
“I’m so sorry you don’t feel well. I worked so hard all day just so we could all be together tonight. Do you need a doctor? Should I come to London?”
Guilt swamped Amy. She felt like dirt. Here she was lying, and Carol sounded so concerned and caring. “I’m sure after a quiet night here, I’ll be just fine.”
“Well, then, if you’re sure…I really am tired after the trip. Maybe I’ll just pop by and check on you first thing in the morning on my way to the firm. Maybe bring you a croissant or something.”
They talked a little while longer, making tentative plans to see each other in the morning before they hung up.
I can’t believe I did that! I’ve let him ruin my visit with Carol! My mood! Everything!
She stared across the room at the wadded-up newspaper.
All those women, women as beautiful and poised and perfect as Carol. They must’ve liked him, too.
He’d said he liked her because she was different.
Quit thinking about him!
Usually, Amelia wasn’t one for hard liquor, but this was an emergency. She went to the kitchen, telling herself she was after a bottle of sparkling water or a soda, but the bottle of scotch lived in the same cabinet with the sodas, and it spoke to her. She grabbed a glass and poured a shot over some chunklets of ice. Swirling the glass, she returned to the living room, where she settled herself on the couch once more. For a long time, she just sat there, glumly sipping Carol’s scotch as she glared at the wadded-up newspaper and the half of Remy’s face she could see.
Then she stood. Crossing the room, she picked up the newspaper again. This time a photograph she’d barely noticed caught her attention. His stony face bleached of arrogance and any conceit, Remy was walking through the pits carrying André’s helmet under his arm. All she saw in his hard features was shock and grief.