When his friends left them alone, they sat quietly for a while, she feeling a bit strained because he felt at ease here in a dining room like this with dazzling people. Carol would fit in to this lifestyle, but Amy was much more at home in the garden of Château Serene with Etienne.

“It was a mistake to come here,” he said.

Thinking he was disappointed with her, she poked at a roasted potato and rolled it around her plate.

“I’m beginning to see I don’t belong with the people I’ve lived with all my life,” he said at length. “It’s as if I’ve lived on the surface with all of them. They know where I live, who my family is. They know I became a celebrity driving for Formula One. But they know nothing of me. You know me better than any of them.”

“Me? How is that possible?”

“Think back to that day in the garden seventeen years ago. Are you aware that no one besides me knows the truth about my birth but you and my mother? Not even my sisters.”

Startled, she met his intense gaze. “I’m sorry I had to be there. I had no right to invade your privacy like that.”

“It wasn’t your fault. I hated you that day because I felt so humiliated. But I never should have gotten so angry with you. Now that I know you better, I’m glad you know. Maybe it’s why you’ve become special. You know the worst. With you I have nothing to hide.”

“But I felt terrible about that day for years.”

His hand reached across the table and closed over hers. “I was horrible—hurt, furious, and I took it out on you.” He pressed her fingers. “Our family has a great deal of false pride.”

“Your family has a long history to be proud of.”

“Along with dark secrets, which we keep, even from each other, so that we can remain proud and feel superior to people like you, who are more open and honest and, therefore, more fun to be with. You’re so real.”

“But your life and your friends are so much more exciting.”

“Do you ever listen to a damn thing I say?”

“I can’t imagine what your life must be like.”

“I was trying to show you a little of my world this weekend. Maybe I wanted to impress you, I don’t know. Maybe I wanted you to know me, the real me or the person I thought was the real me. Maybe I just wanted to show you off. I don’t know why, but suddenly I’m as confused as hell.”

“Show me off? That’s ridiculous. I’m nobody.”

“You’re somebody to me.”

“I run a used-clothing shop! I still live with my mother—in my own room—because housing is so expensive on Oahu, I can’t afford anything better!”

“Listen to me! How is that so different from how my family lives? We’ve had certain properties in the family for hundreds of years. And we all stay in them as need be.”

“Trust me on this,” she said. “It’s different. Your villa is like something out of a fairy tale. We park our cars on the grass in our front yard.”

“Don’t run yourself down to me. I’d rather be with you than any of them.” He paused. “But back to that awful day we first met.”

She swallowed. “I wish you’d let that go.”

“When you found out who my real father was and that the comte hated me, I wasn’t ready to face the truth and even less eager to share it. I’d worked all my life to get him to love me. You saw my pain. You understood, but when I stared into your compassionate eyes, I didn’t want to accept those truths. Your sympathy forced me to face the reality, and I got angrier because all I wanted to do was run away and hide. You were very understanding. Now, you’re even more so. And me, I was a jerk then and an even bigger jerk to deceive you in London. I took you to bed when you were feeling vulnerable because of your aunt’s death and the breakup with your boyfriend. You were alone in a big city. And what did I do? I all but stalked you! Again, you were quick to forgive.”

“Please. You’re much too hard on yourself.”

“Maybe. Or maybe I’ve been so damn anxious to prove I was more than Sando’s unwanted bastard that I couldn’t tolerate mistakes, especially my own. I raced, solely to prove I was something. I killed a man, a lifelong friend, and to prove what? What does any of it matter?”

“Everything matters. Or nothing matters. Take your pick. Just quit torturing yourself.”

“You’re so honest about who you are. Maybe it’s time I started being equally honest. So what if I was born a bastard and ended up a comte? I loved and admired André. I didn’t mean to kill him.”

Ann Major Books | Billionaire Romance Books |
Source: www.StudyNovels.com