‘Why should you have done? Phillipe had gambled away the lot by the time I was three years old. Mum only married him because she was pregnant with me, and I expect he was tempted by her inheritance.’
‘I’m starting to see why Emilie believes your mother has had more than her fair share of bad luck.’
Delighted by that new tolerance, Star gave him a glowing smile in reward.
* * *
Two weeks later, Star lay in Luc’s arms at dawn.
She was wide awake. They were flying home in a few hours. Wherever Luc was would be home, she acknowledged with complete contentment. Corsica was where they had grown closer than she had ever dreamt possible. It was a gorgeous island, full of spectacular scenery and forests and picturesque villages. This villa would always be a very special place for them.
Deciding to surprise him with breakfast in bed, she eased out of Luc’s embrace. She watched his hand move across the bed, as if he was seeking her, as if he could feel her absence even when he was asleep. He would sleep late. He deserved to, she conceded with a grin, admiring the long sweep of his golden back in the soft light filtering through the curtains. He was a wonderful lover, a fabulous father, and shaping up really well as a soulmate. And last night he had spoken heresy…he was planning to cut his working hours and reorganise his schedule so that he travelled less.
Over dinner last night she had shared with him the details of the twins’ premature birth and the subsequent months of frantic worry and stress. He had been so shocked. He honestly hadn’t realised how at risk Venus and Mars had once been. He wished very much that he had been there to support them all, but he didn’t blame her for not contacting him. He accepted that what he had said the morning after their son and daughter’s conception had convinced Star that he really wouldn’t want to know that he was a father.
I love him, I love him, I love him, Star reflected as she thought of that generous understanding and acceptance which had so relieved her. Perhaps tonight she would tell him that she loved him again. While she waited for the kettle in the kitchen, she lifted a glossy magazine which the maid must have been skimming through the evening before. On the front page she saw Luc’s distinctive script. A note he had jotted down? Naturally nosy, she turned it upside down to read what he had written. A name and a date. A name that still had the power to drain Star of oxygen and turn her pale.
It had to be an old magazine. Not that that quite wiped out the huge sense of hurt she was experiencing. Naturally it was a smack in the face to appreciate that Gabrielle Joly must also have shared a bed here with Luc at one time. Suddenly all her own memories began feeling soiled. She turned the magazine round, just to check the date of it. Only then did she realise in sick dismay that the spoiling of sentimental memories was the least she had to worry about!
The magazine was only two months old, so when Luc had jotted down ‘Gabrielle arriving’ it had been barely a month before Star had come back into his life. Star hugged herself, suddenly chilled to the marrow. How could she now have faith in anything Luc had told her about Gabrielle Joly?
Luc had allowed her to believe that Gabrielle had been out of his life for a long time. And yet Gabrielle had still been his mistress as recently as two months ago! Star was shattered. Was Luc planning to keep both a wife and a mistress? What else could she believe? If Gabrielle Joly still held his interest after what Star now estimated to be a relationship of several years’ duration, the beautiful blonde had to be very important to him. Far more important than Star had ever been prepared to consider…
STAR was gutted by misery.
She would have to wait until they got back to the chateau to confront Luc with her suspicions; it would be sheer madness to embark on what was likely to be a very distressing scene at the outset of a journey home.
So Luc had to make his own breakfast. He had never had to do that before, and it was not an entirely successful operation. When he tried to kiss Star good morning, he got pushed away and snapped at. By the time they boarded the jet, the atmosphere was explosive. Ignoring Luc’s repeated demands to know what was wrong, Star concentrated her attention on Venus and Mars.