She got out slowly and walked hurriedly up the drive. Before she reached her door, he was roaring away.

She would have waved if he’d ever once looked back. Since he didn’t, she watched the Alfa Romeo until it disappeared over the first hill.

Where was he going? Who would he spend the rest of the day with?

She opened her door and walked into her dark, empty house that without him, seemed colder and gloomier than a tomb. She’d been his mistress for only one night and already he felt like a dangerous obsession.

If she were smart, she’d call his agent and agree to sell immediately.

Eight

R emembering it was market day, Remy parked the car in a shady alley beneath the château. He opened the car door and then closed it again. For a long time he sat hunched over the steering wheel, staring at the ancient stone wall.

Mistress for a month? What the hell was he doing? Hadn’t he sworn to quit focusing on what he wanted without thinking of the consequences for others?An affair with him was not in Amelia’s best interests. With women like her, sex was a messy business. She might say no strings in the beginning, but she wouldn’t even remember the bargain once her emotions started complicating matters.

But what if she was right, and he succeeded in making her believe she was a sexy femme fatale? Just the thought of her doing the things that she was doing with him now with her Hawaiian beach bum, made his gut clench.

Fisting his hand, he shoved his door open and angrily flung himself up the lane toward the château. Fifteen minutes of climbing had him standing beneath the famous lion carved above the lintel. Glancing up, he saw his mother and Céline in a high window. Céline’s back was to him, but his mother’s gaze, cold and fixed, was on him. She’d been watching him for some time.

On the phone she’d said she’d invited Céline down for a few days. The problem was she hadn’t seen the need to inform him. Dreading straightening out the mess she’d created, he bolted up the wide stone stairs that angled twice before climbing even higher.

The last thing he wanted to do was offend Céline. But he’d committed to Amelia’s bargain, so the next thirty days were hers.

He would have preferred to confront his mother first, but long before he reached the portal and the ornate doors with their bronze knocker, he heard high heels clicking much too rapidly on stone for the person who approached to be his sedate mother.

When he rounded a curve, Céline ran toward him. Her face alight, she looked gorgeous in a simple white dress and white sandals with laces around her slim ankles. Her golden hair, tied back by a white satin ribbon, bounced about her shoulders.

“Remy!”

Blue eyes locked on his face. How flushed and perfect she was in the lemony light. If only he wasn’t involved with Amelia, he might have been happy to see her.

“I feel so terrible,” she began, gushing concern. “I just realized that maybe your mother hadn’t told you I was coming. You have other plans for the weekend, don’t you?”

“I’m negotiating the purchase of Château Serene.”

“I see.”

“I’ll call you in…say, a month or so.”

“I’ve waited this long. I guess I can wait a little longer.”

“You always were more patient than I.”

“A month from now. I’ll write it on my calendar,” she said gaily, reminding him of Amelia circling the same date with her red pencil on her calendar.

“Since we’re such old friends, I’ll be blunter than I probably should be…Your mother has hinted that…she has certain fond hopes.”

“She’s always liked you, so I can well imagine her hopes. I was not opposed to them until…like I said, this…er…other business obligation developed.”

“Château Serene? For exactly a month?” she murmured. Her eyes were filled with questions before he looked away.

Remy’s interview with his mother the next morning in the grand salon was difficult, especially after he mentioned his need to go to Cannes to oversee the renovation of the family villa and his desire to invite Amelia to go with him.Wearing black silk and diamonds, Alexis de Fournier looked like a countess from another era as she stood under the gigantic crystal-and-gold chandelier, studying her son with cold, calculating eyes.

“You can’t possibly be serious about taking that conniving little witch of a niece to our home in Cannes.”

“I will take her, if she’ll accept my invitation,” Remy stated bluntly.

“How can you be so stupid? Not to mention blind? She’s Tate all over again. Simply everybody is in Cannes right now. People will see you with her.”

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