Without looking at Remy again, Amy folded the last newspaper and laid it in her lap on top of the others.
Remy came to a crossroads, touched a blinker and then turned onto a back road, which was fringed on both sides with lavender. She knew from her walks that the rural lane cut a swath through the vineyards that led straight to Château Serene.
“If you don’t go back to Hawaii quickly, there’ll be even worse stories,” he said. “Now that they’ve tasted fresh blood, yours, they won’t let up. In all probability they’ll be waiting to pounce on you at Château Serene.”
“Whatever you do, don’t grant an interview. They’ll twist your words to prove their viewpoint.”
When they rounded the last curve, she gasped when she saw a television truck, three motorcycles and two men with binoculars and cameras standing at the ready by the gate.
“Oh, no,” she murmured as the men rushed toward their car, cameras held high.
“So now you know what it is like to be Remy de Fournier’s mistress. You will be hounded like this until you leave France. Not a fate I would wish on anyone. If we continue to see each other, they will want pictures of our every assignation. We may even find a photographer under your aunt’s bed.”
“You heard the police chief. I have to be back in Cannes tomorrow.”
“I’ll go with you if that would help.”
“No! You should cut your losses.”
“Don’t you understand we’ve lost our chance?”
“Is there no standing up to them? Are you going to let them ruin your life forever?”
“Look, I learned a long time ago that I’m not in control of what is written about me. I’m trying to protect you. You have to go home as soon as possible.”
“But I love you!”
“If you decide to sign the sales contract early, I’ll do everything in my power to expedite the purchase so you can leave without any extra hassles. But I must warn you—buying and selling real estate is not as simple in France as it is in the U.S. We have many bureaucrats in need of salaries. There will be many documents and much red tape. And finding a home for the Matisse won’t be easy, but I do know a reputable art dealer who could help you.”
“Bottom line—you want me gone.”
“It’s for the best.”
“So, it’s over.”
He didn’t deny it.
Her chest felt strange and tight. Her eyes burned, but she could think of nothing to say. He wanted her gone. It didn’t matter that she’d told him she loved him.
Fifty yards later, he turned into the drive that led up to the château.
Without a word, he braked, got out and carried her bags to the door. She let herself out of the car more slowly and walked gingerly toward the house. When she reached him, he didn’t smile. He didn’t touch her or kiss her or even offer to carry her bags inside as he would have in the past. All seemed so frozen and changed between them. It was as if the past few hours had killed every tender feeling he’d ever had for her.
“Do you want to come in?” she asked.
He shook his head. “Don’t you get it? Photographers with high-powered lenses could be hiding anywhere to take our pictures,” he muttered.
“No more making love out by your pool, either.” He opened the door and slid her bags inside. “No telling what technologies these guys have. They’re like spies. They can probably take pictures in the dark.”
“Is this goodbye, then?” she whispered.
“Like I said—tomorrow I have to talk to the police chief. I don’t know what will be involved or how long I’ll be gone. Or if I can satisfy him.”
“You should let me come.”
“If we don’t see each other, the reporters will leave in a few days, and you’ll have your privacy back.”
“What about you?”
“You forget, I’m an old hand at being lynched by the press. I’ll survive.” He stared unseeingly in front of him.
Would he? Was he already a haunted man on the run from his demons again?
“Be sure to call me. At least tell me how the investigation goes.”
He shook his head. “I don’t think that’s smart. There are lots of techies out there who know how to listen in on cell-phone conversations.”
“Then this is really goodbye?”
“It’s for your own good,” he muttered. “I knew better than to let you become involved with me.”
She bit her lip and looked anywhere but at him. Then her head began to pound even more viciously.