“It was raining. The steering jammed.”
“Yes. But back then I was arrogant enough to think I could control everything—life and death. Maybe I still would be if you hadn’t come to Château Serene and made your crazy bargain with me. You’re making me see things in a whole new way. I’ve relaxed. This time with you has been special. Even here in Cannes, I’ve been happier than I’ve ever been.” He lifted her hand and turned it in his. “Why is that, do you think?”
“I can’t imagine. I’m sure you’ve been here with much more famous people and more glamorous people.”
“Yes, and I was taught those were the only people who counted. I was taught to be closed-off and materialistic, to keep secrets. You have made me rethink the values of a lifetime. When I was a boy I wanted my father, or the man I believed to be my father, to notice me.”
“As any little boy would.”
“But he never did. When I learned Sandro Montoya was my real father I read everything I could about him. I went to all the houses where he’d lived, to the wall in Monaco where he smashed himself to pieces, searching for what? I felt nothing. It was just a wall. I went into Formula One to impress both my fathers, neither of whom had given a damn about me. During that time, I made no real friends. I was so blindly focused on winning, on proving myself to a ghost and a man who wasn’t my father that I failed to connect with the people who might have cared about me.”
“Stop blaming yourself.”
“Famous people are just people. Being with you has taught me that what’s in a person’s heart matters much more than fame or status.” His dark gaze was intense.
“You may think that now, but if we were serious about each other, you’d see I’m too different to fit into your world.”
“Maybe it’s not my world anymore. Maybe I want to be me, go to work, come home on the weekends and play soccer with my kids. All I know is that I’ve never enjoyed being with anyone as much as you.”
“Don’t,” she whispered. “Don’t make this more complicated than it already is. For both our sakes, you have to stay that heartless rogue I read about in the newspapers.”
“Is that really who you want—the killer-womanizer in the newspapers?”
“In a week I’ll be home without even a glass slipper to remember you by.”
“I was beginning to hope…that you and I…that maybe you could stay a while longer. People buy old clothes even in Paris.”
Terrified, she sat up stiff and straight. “Don’t! Please!”
“I want to know you and for you to know me. And you want what—a few sex lessons and then to be rid of me? Is that all you want?”
She looked away. Long seconds passed. Finally, he released her hand and signaled for the bill.
She expected him to drive her home. Instead, he took her gambling at the glittering Casino Croisette where he played high-stakes games and lost enough money to make her feel tense and guilty because she was the reason for his recklessness. Then his luck turned, and he won most of it back.“Do you always gamble so wildly?” she asked.
“Isn’t that what your newspaper lover would do?”
Stung by his hard tone and words, she looked away.
He took her for drinks at Jane’s Club, where they danced mechanically or sat at their little table in silence.
“I want to go home,” she said.
“We’re meeting people.”
It was late by the time they walked into Jimmy’z. A large group of his friends sat at a large table near one of the dance floors. Céline was with them. A few minutes later, Willy Hunt, a Grand Prix driver, came over to say hi to Remy and asked if he could join them.
The music was loud and lively, and so was the conversation, which was in rapid French. It was difficult for Amy to catch much of what was said. For a while Remy was completely absorbed with his friends. But finally he turned to her, and seeing that she was watching the dancers more than she was talking, Remy pressed her fingers and asked her to dance.
Even though they were on the dance floor away from Céline, Amy couldn’t relax. He moved stiffly as if he were equally tense.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “Earlier you were trying to be honest, and I was the way you were that day when your father disowned you—trying to hide from my true feelings because they scare me so much. I—I know you’re not the man I read about. I knew who you really were even that first night in London—because I’d read a tabloid. I think I went out with you because unconsciously I knew the papers had it all wrong. André’s death hurt you just like the comte hurt you. I responded to that hurt, furious boy. Only, you aren’t a boy. You’re a man. A very sexy man. And I’m afraid of feeling anything real for you.”