Having perceptibly relaxed as her anger visibly waned, Luc now took a hasty step closer. ‘What are you trying to say?’
Eyes shuttered, Star stood up, every movement stiff. ‘That I’ve got no plans to forever figure in your mind as that poor deprived child you thought you were rescuing from Mexico. And it’s obvious that’s all I’m ever going to be. Did you honestly think I’d want to stay around after hearing that?’
As she attempted to move past him, Luc shot out a powerful hand to prevent her. ‘You misunderstood me…’ he gritted.
‘No, I asked for the truth and you told me the truth,’ Star recited shakily, tiny tremors of reaction starting to ripple through her slender length. ‘If it wasn’t for the sex, you wouldn’t have any use at all for me. It’s about the only thing I’ve got to offer, isn’t it?’
Luc closed his hand over her rigid shoulder and spun her round. ‘Mais c’est insensé!…That’s crazy!’ he launched down at her roughly. ‘Why are you talking like this?’
Star focused on the top button of his aqua silk open-necked shirt. Inside herself she felt as if she was dying. ‘You really weren’t jealous of Rory,’ she gasped strickenly. ‘My fertile imagination at fault again! But let me tell you one last thing, Luc Sarrazin…you can take your over-developed conscience, your pious outlook and your cruel, unfeeling brain and take a running jump, because I want nothing more to do with you in this lifetime!’
Luc seemed stunned into paralysis by that concluding speech. Star took advantage of his loosened hold to drag herself free and race for the sanctuary of one of the bedrooms.
Crisis. Serious crisis. Those two words stood out in Luc’s head in letters ten feet tall, but he found that for several deeply disturbing minutes, he couldn’t think round them, over them or under them. Then, for a fleeting moment, he recalled the sense of self-satisfaction he had experienced in parrying her questions without even having to think about them. Now he was in shock at the results. He had hurt her, really hurt her.
And you were planning to make her fall in love with you again. A ragged laugh was wrenched from him. The truth was he hadn’t a clue where to start. Total meltdown failure now stared him in the face. But the only face Luc could see was Star’s…ashen, empty, defeated. As if she had given up on him finally and for ever. Luc endured another terrifying few minutes when he couldn’t string two simple thoughts together. He recognised his own instinctive fear for the first time and headed straight for the drinks cabinet, only to freeze. Only a wimpy personality needed alcohol to work out problems…and he hadn’t done so well working them out the last time, had he?
* * *
The muslin drapes at the window fluttered softly in the light breeze coming in off the Mediterranean. From her bed, Star was watching the sun sink down below the horizon in a crimson blaze of splendour and listening to the soft rush of the surf.
There had been no tears; she felt totally hollow. It was the end, the literal end. Luc’s every response eighteen months ago had been prompted by guilt and compassion. She had done all the running; she had always done all the running with Luc. Now she was facing the consequences—just as much as he was, she affixed, with a guilt that made her feel even more wretched. Two innocent children were involved now.
As the bedroom door opened, she was jerked out of her reverie. Moonlight glimmered over the paleness of Luc’s shirt. Highwire tension was etched in his taut stance just one step inside the door.
‘You’re right,’ he drawled with staggering abruptness, his accent thick as molasses. ‘I was jealous of Rory…I was so jealous I felt physically sick. You were ecstatic to see him and you touched him. Pour l’amour du ciel…I wanted to beat him up and throw him in the moat!’
Stunned by that blunt confession coming straight at her without warning, Star mumbled. ‘Oh…’
‘But I did not recognise that I was jealous at the time…’ Luc thrust driven fingers through his tousled black hair. ‘I thought it was your over-familiarity with him that was making me angry, but when I think back, you might not have done anything I liked with him, but then neither did you do anything wrong.’