“She’s trying to catch you in a weak moment.”
“How well you seem to know her. Have you even met her?”
“All your sisters agree with me.”
“Why do you always have to involve them?”
“They are brilliant women. And they want the best for you.”
“Spare me their concern. I never interfere in their lives. Did you ask for my help with Château Serene or not?”
“Yes, but I didn’t mean for you to—”
“Be happy, then. In this I am giving you your way. I promise you that in one month Miss Weatherbee will be gone, and you’ll have your precious Château Serene all to yourself. When and if I feel like it, I will call Céline and invite her down for a long weekend, and we’ll see how it goes. No promises, though. Until then, I belong to Miss Weatherbee.”
“This is absurd. Why should you have to spend so much time with her? Is this just because she doesn’t know anybody else?”
“I enjoy her.”
“What could you possibly have in common with a…a shop girl? Why do you always have to be so difficult?”
“Maybe because I’m your son.”
“You attack me just like your father used to.”
“Which father—Montoya or the comte?”
A flush swept her neck and cheek, but she refused to be distracted. “Remy, I’m sure she has designs on you just like Tate had on your father.”
“How do you know?”
“For one thing she read and believed the terrible tabloid stories about me. For another she is nothing like Tate. She is naive, shy…”
His mother’s eyes narrowed. “Shy? Naive? Remy! Listen to yourself. I haven’t heard you talk about a woman like this…maybe ever. This woman arouses tender, protective feelings in you. I don’t believe she could if she thought you were vicious and treated you accordingly. Quite the contrary. I am more convinced than ever she’s after you.”
“I won’t hear any more.”
“I want to know exactly what is going on between the two of you. Young, ambitious women can be very manipulative when they want a man. Very charming. Oh, Remy, I thought the worst thing you’d ever do was drive those horrible cars that reminded me of…”
Her face went the deep, dead purple of an overripe grape. “Do you have to say his name? I—I regret him. He ruined my life.”
“And me? Do you regret me?”
“Of course not! You’ll never know what I went through during each race you drove,” she continued when she’d regained a small bit of her composure. “But this is worse. I will never speak to you again if you allow a serious attachment to develop between yourself and Tate’s niece. Never. Do I make myself understood?”
“Perfectly. You can be stubborn. So can I. I refuse to discuss my relationship with Miss Weatherbee with you again. Do I make myself understood?”
When she didn’t reply, he said, “I need to check the train schedules to make sure Céline’s train to Paris is on time.”
“What? She won’t be staying? You two won’t be—”
“You heard me.” He turned on his heel.
Without looking back, he kept walking down the great hall.
Amelia was happily enjoying the glorious morning with its bright blue sky. She walked briskly along the road edged on both sides by perfumed clumps of lavender. Lebanese cedars cast long shadows over the road. The air smelled of cedar and pine and lavender and freshly mown grasses. She was thinking that even though she hadn’t heard from Remy in nearly twenty-four hours, he’d promised to see her today. So when she saw his red sports car zooming toward her, her heart leaped with pure joy.Remy! She ran out into the middle of the road waving wildly to flag him down.
He’d hit the brakes long before she saw the beautiful blonde beside him. The woman, with her creamy skin and glamorous silk beige jacket, was even more beautiful than Carol.
Immediately Amy felt like her ugly-duckling self. Why had she worn her oldest and baggiest pair of jeans with the holes in the knees and a faded shirt that wasn’t even all that clean? Why hadn’t she at least put on lipstick?
When he pulled alongside her, he said, “Hi there, neighbor,” as if she were no more than a casual acquaintance.
Sucking in a sharp little breath, Amelia tried to appear casual and uninterested.
“I saw you waving. Did you have a breakdown? Do you need a ride somewhere?” he asked.
The blonde’s icy blue eyes narrowed as they raked Amelia. Her shapely, glossy-pink mouth thinned before she looked away.