The car was nimble, his concentration complete, his expertise profound. He knew the road, the car and his abilities, and soon, instead of fear, she felt exhilaration.
She’d never been in a car with butter-soft leather seats like this, in a car with a driver who could make her feel like she was flying in bed and out of it.
“So what kind of car is this?”
“A ’67 Duetto Spider.”
“Cute.” He snorted. “It was the best damn sports car made that year. Not that it ever caught on—even after starring in a major film. Did you ever see The Graduate?”
She shook her head.
“Someday soon we’ll have to watch it together.”
He slowed when they reached the village, which was crowded because it was market day. He cruised the narrow, winding lanes overflowing with haphazardly positioned stalls that sold all kinds of wares. Young gypsy women in tight bustiers and shiny skirts ran up to the Alfa Romeo, shaking long plaits of garlic and lemons in Amy’s face.
When she reached for them, he said, “No shopping,” and kept driving until he found a parking space near a fountain two blocks from his favorite café. “I’m starving.”
As they got out, the clock tower chimed. He took her hand, and they walked up the hill past galleries and benches that would have been perfect for people-watching. Everywhere there were stalls selling everything from olives and fresh bread to terrines and Disney toys.
He tugged on her hand when she edged toward a yellow-and-white canopy. “No shopping,” he reminded her.
“But he’s selling fresh croissants.”
“We’re nearly at the café.”
Two minutes later they were seated on a rooftop terrace under an arbor dripping bougainvillea. He laid the contract on their table, and then they ignored it and chatted until their omelets laced with pungent truffles arrived. The food was so delicious they ate in silence. No sooner had he finished his and was sipping café au lait when his mobile rang.
He fished the phone out of his pocket only to frown when he saw who it was.
“Sorry. It’s my mother. I had my phone turned off until a few minutes ago. I guess I’d better talk to her.”
“Bonjour.” After this brief greeting, he was soon scowling. “You shouldn’t have done that,” he said in sharp, staccato French. His gaze on Amy, he listened with increasing irritation. “You’re right,” he snapped. “I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
He flipped the phone shut and jammed it back in his pocket.
“Let me guess. She knows we’re together and she’s not pleased?”
“Gossip travels fast. She didn’t fall for the contract on the table, and she’s not happy I didn’t return to the château last night. Apparently she’d made plans—”
“I knew we shouldn’t have eaten in such a public establishment so early in the morning.”
“My personal life is none of her business.”
“She’s your mother.”
“I’m thirty-five. The trouble is she’s always been able to dictate to my sisters. She failed miserably with my father, and her schemes frequently annoy the hell out of me.”
He stared up at the impressive Château de Fournier, which topped the highest hill above the village, and then fell into a gloomy silence.
Amy knew his family had lived there for hundreds of years. Once she’d told her aunt it must be wonderful to belong to a family with such ancient roots and traditions like the de Fourniers.
“They’re ridiculously conservative,” Aunt Tate had replied. “His first wife was so out of touch with the modern world, she drove him into my arms.”
Amy looked at Remy. “Surely if you tell your mother you’re merely seeing me because you’re negotiating the sale of the vineyard, she’ll be more understanding,” she began.
“The last thing I intend to do is discuss our relationship. Not with her. Or anyone else.”
“I know you were trying to improve your relations with your family, and I don’t want to be a problem.”
Remy’s hand closed over hers. “No problem. At least it won’t be after today.” Squeezing her fingers, he lifted them to his lips.
Seeing the tender gesture, the proprietor winked at Amy and made a pleased little bow before darting back inside.
A short while later the man reappeared, beaming. Remy held up his hand for the check. Grinning widely, the owner zoomed over and slapped it on top the contract.
As if still preoccupied by the phone call, Remy did not attempt to make conversation with the man or with her. As soon as he paid, he led her out onto the street to find his car.