Star didn’t want to think about it. She was appalled by such a pessimistic outlook. ‘You can’t plan stuff like that, Luc.’
‘Not with you in the vicinity,’ he conceded.
‘But didn’t it even cross your mind that you might fall madly in love?’
‘In lust, yes…in love, no.’
‘But I always feel good when I’m in love…well, most of the time,’ Star adjusted ruefully.
Sudden silence reigned.
Star glanced at Luc’s hard profile and sighed, her eyes veiling. ‘You’re not comfortable with this conversation, are you?’
Luc tightened his grip on her slender fingers as they began to slide inexorably from his. ‘I think the less you think about love the happier we will be,’ he stated with flat conviction.
A faraway look of regret in her eyes, Star realised that she was still wishing for the moon, and that Luc had just forced her dreams into yet another crash landing. Only a week ago she had been telling herself that she had come to terms with the fact that Luc didn’t believe in romantic love. But it was hard to feel optimistic about a potential future with a husband who didn’t love her. Particularly when they were such different kinds of people. How loyal would he be to a wife he didn’t love?
Now rigid with seething tension, Luc removed his gaze abruptly from her preoccupied face. ‘I’ve got some work to do,’ he told her flatly, and released her hand.
Literally exploded out of her anxious thoughts, Star stilled in complete confusion to watch Luc stride away from her and head back down the magnificent staircase again.
She gripped the banister. ‘I could keep you company…?’
At the foot of the stairs, Luc swung round, his lean, hard features icily sardonic.
Shrivelled by that look, Star stepped back, the warmth inside her evaporating beneath that chill. ‘I guess you don’t need company…’
One minute they had been heading for bed, excitement in the air—well, in her air anyway. No longer did she feel qualified to say how Luc had been feeling—but the next minute she had become as undesirable as cold tea. Had she said something which annoyed him? She had started talking about love. She groaned, thoroughly irritated with a tongue which frequently ran ahead of her brain in Luc’s company. Why did he have to be so touchy? Not just touchy, she conceded heavily, Luc had seem derisive…repelled?
Was that her fault? What made a guy go from keen to cold? Too much eagerness? Had Luc been in the act of dragging her off to bed only because she herself had made it so painfully obvious that she could hardly wait for him to make love to her again? Star cringed at that suspicion. No doubt after a couple of sexual encounters she no longer possessed quite the same ‘wild’ appeal. In fact, maybe now that Luc suspected that in all likelihood she was always going to be around, her stock in the desirability stakes had sunk a great deal lower.
After an hour’s wakeful twisting and turning in a bed which seemed far too big and far too empty for her, Star sat up with the sense of having finally penetrated the mystery of Luc’s behaviour with an explanation that was very slightly less humiliating. For goodness’ sake, what an idiot she was! She remembered him admitting that he hadn’t planned to marry until he was at least fifty. Now she knew what was wrong. All of a sudden Luc had felt trapped, twenty years ahead of his time. In presenting him with two children she had deprived him of the freedom and female variety that all young, sexually active males supposedly cherished. An extra twenty years was a long term to serve for not using contraception, she allowed miserably.
Seated at his desk, Luc sank a brandy in one long, unappreciative gulp. And she called him insensitive! He had never been the sensitive type, but Star was getting to him on levels he did not wish to explore. He saw that wistful, yearning expression on her face afresh. His anger got colder and deadlier. Or was it anger? He realised in some surprise that he felt bitter. He felt very, very bitter.
* * *
From below her lashes, while pretending to still be asleep, Star watched Luc emerge from the bathroom the next morning.
Stark naked, he was towelling dry his hair. A sensation akin to a tightening knot tugged low in the pit of her stomach. Feeling like a voyeur, she shut her eyes tight in shame. She recalled telling him that there were a lot more important things than sex and decided it was time she learned to practise what she preached. She didn’t know what time Luc had finally come to bed. By that stage she had given up hope of him ever appearing and she had dozed off.