Céline, too lovely for words as usual, was knocking on the front door. Amelia felt like running away and hiding. Instead, she called, “Hi, there.”
Tension flowing out of every invisible pore of her creamy face, Céline jerked around. Her eyes were as huge and desolate as Amy’s heart. “Oh, there you are,” she said without the least bit of enthusiasm.
Why wasn’t Céline in Paris? Amy wondered. She said, “I—I was just having breakfast in the garden.”
“I thought maybe you’d already left for America. I promise I won’t keep you long.”
“Would you like some coffee?”
Céline shook her head and then changed her mind when she saw Amy’s cup. After Amy prepared the coffee to Céline’s liking and they’d talked about all the boxes in every room and the dates the movers would come for them and which was the best moving company in the area, Amelia led her out to the garden.
“I could tell you were probably expecting Remy when you heard the car,” Céline said softly. “You looked unhappy to see me.”
“But he’s in Paris.”
“Yes. I do dislike disappointing you, but I had to see you.” As if at a loss for words, she stared at Amy. “I—I have only one question.” A desperate look chased across her pretty face. “Do you love him?”
Amy jerked her chin higher.
Céline’s blue eyes were luminous, and she was twisting her hands. “I have to know because…because you see, I love him. I love him very much. I’ve loved him all my life.”
Each word felt like a blade cutting Amy’s heart. How stylish and beautiful Céline was with her flawless skin and doll-like features. She was much lovelier than Carol. Remy and she would make a beautiful couple. What darling children they would have—dark-headed boys and blond girls. Little weekend soccer players. Amy winced.
“If you don’t love him, Mademoiselle Weatherbee, let him go. Because like I said, I do love him. So very much.”
“Shouldn’t you be telling these things to him? After all, I’m going home—alone. If he’s in Paris and you live there, why are you here?”
“I don’t believe he’s ready to love anyone right now. He isn’t over what happened last year. But in time, he will be.”
“And you’ll be there?”
“If he wants me to be.”
“And does he?”
“We dated when we were young. But something happened to him. I never knew what, and he grew so remote. A year or so later, he went into Formula One. He drove himself with a vengeance, and I never knew why. None of us did. He was so different, so competitive and so ruthlessly ambitious on and off the track. He was not the same sweet, gentle boy I’d loved. But even during those years I would see him from time to time because his sisters were such dear friends of mine.”
“They encouraged me not to give up on him. Racing careers are often brutal and short. We thought that if he survived, he might become his old self again and we would marry. So, I waited. But he won more and more races. He grew famous. Women threw themselves at him, and I saw him so little that I gave up and married another man. And I was happy. But not like I’d been happy with Remy. Still, my husband, Ivan, was good to me, and I was content. Then Ivan’s plane crashed in the Alps the same month Remy had his awful accident.”
“I’m so sorry.”
“Yes. It was terrible. I was numb for months. But something terrible like that teaches you, too. I can understand what Remy is going through. I knew André when he was a boy, you see. I understand suffering and what it is to be damaged, to blame yourself. I had encouraged my husband to fly that day. I believe that I can love Remy and understand him and help him get over André as no one else can. His family adores me. Especially his mother. Family approval is so important when it comes to marriage, don’t you agree? And you would never have that, would you?”
Amy was cold and shivering in the heat long before Céline finished. Whatever hope she’d had of Remy changing his mind in a few months and coming to find her vanished like smoke blown away by the wind. Céline would not let that happen.
Amy must have said goodbye as she walked Céline around to her car, but later she had no memory of even leaving the garden.
As she stared at the lavender and pines, she knew that everything Céline had said made perfect sense. Céline would make Remy a perfect wife. Once Amy was gone, he would forget their brief time and turn to Céline.
The only role Amy would ever play was the one she had chosen—to be his mistress for a month.