Their month was over.
S tanding beside Pierre-Louis at the city hall in the Fourth Arrondisement, Remy ground the wedding rings into his palm even as he forced himself to relax.
He was here. He’d actually made it on time to the wedding. He’d been exonerated—again. More than exonerated. The chief had blamed the paparazzi.The Cannes police chief had grilled him relentlessly for hours before finally releasing him a mere forty-five minutes before his plane for Paris had been due to depart.
Much relieved, Remy knew the police chief’s decision would anger the bloodthirsty media. No doubt, every journalist in France would be howling for his head.
He wanted to call Amy and tell her he was a free man, but she was the one person he could never share his thoughts or feelings with again. With much effort he concentrated on the enraptured faces of Marie-Elise and Pierre-Louis. Only slowly did their happiness make his own tension and dark mood lighten.
The wedding ceremony was as romantic as the city hall was dull and official-looking, with its blue-and-white-trimmed walls, French flag and severe portrait of the French president. But if ever there was proof of the power of love to transform two people, the couple’s shining eyes as they looked at each other were the living evidence of it. Gone was Remy’s plain, efficient secretary hiding fearfully behind her thick glasses and her ill-fitting clothes. Today she was a blushing vision of utter femininity in her ivory-lace gown and clouds of tulle. The froth became the bride. Pierre-Louis was tanned, muscular and robust, even fitter than he’d been before the accident and his tragic divorce.
One minute Remy was staring at Marie-Elise’s glowing face, and the next he was losing himself in the memory of a pair of fine, hazel eyes that had been equally radiant when they’d devoured his on the dance floor at Jimmy’z. Her lips had been so soft when he’d kissed her after she’d told him she loved him. She’d put her heart and soul in that kiss and offered herself to him forever.
Love. It had the power to give fresh hope, new meaning and immense happiness to anyone who dared to risk his or her soul again.
Why the hell was he letting her go?
For her own good, you fool. You don’t deserve her.
But if she loves you…
As he focused on the bride and groom, he couldn’t help visualizing Amy in a white dress and veil.
Slowly the dull, hopeless self-loathing that had afflicted him ever since André’s death lifted. He had to call Amy.
No sooner had he made this decision than he began to chafe for the ceremony to be over and for the wedding documents to be signed, because now, at last, he knew what he had to do.
He had to find Amy and see if she would still have him.
But when the ceremony was over, Pierre-Louis reminded him he’d promised to stay for the reception. As the best man he could not refuse.
Then at the reception, Taylor and several members of his Formula One team showed up, including his two top drivers, and, wouldn’t you know it, they all joined forces with Pierre-Louis.
“You planned this, didn’t you, Pierre-Louis?” Remy accused when he was surrounded.
“You did say if I ever wanted anything, you’d be there. I want you to listen to what Taylor has to say.”
Cornering him, the men pressed him to reconsider joining their team.
Taylor, a tall forceful man with a shock of thick, gray hair, said, “We want you because you weren’t just a brilliant driver, you were intuitive. You found speed that was beyond your intellectual limit and then you notched it even higher, so much higher than anyone else’s. You were incredible. You know the business on a profound level, as well. A man with your talents could do so much for Formula One.”
As Remy stood shaking his head beside Pierre-Louis and the other men while they showered him with praise and told him about their new car and invited him to help with its testing, as they described in detail what he could do for them, he began to feel a flicker of the old excitement and heady self-confidence that had driven him for so long and had made him one hell of a competitive Formula One driver. His head stopped shaking. Formula One had been his life for a lot of years. Maybe this was his second chance to make things right.
Did grief have a life of its own and a death, as well? Suddenly more than anything he wanted Amy. If he felt alive enough to listen to Taylor again, it was solely because of her.
The mistral tore over the mountains and ripped through the pines as Remy stood in the garden staring at the pool and blue chaise longue where they’d made love. A shutter banged. The house was empty of Tate’s things. All the boxes had been moved.Amy was gone.
What had he expected? He had told her it was over, and he’d sent her away.