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Authors: Lynne Graham

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BOOK: One Night with His Wife
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‘But ever since you tracked me down all you’ve been talking about is divorcing me. It was like it was a real mission with you…’

‘So
that
is what is worrying you. But naturally my priorities have changed,’ Luc countered without hesitation. ‘We have the twins to consider now. They need their mother just as much as their father. You and I both enjoyed less than idyllic childhoods. By staying together we support each other as parents and we can ensure that our children enjoy a different experience.’

Star’s heart was steadily sinking. She had put him on the spot again when he hadn’t been expecting it, but couldn’t he just have lied and pretended that
she
figured in this reconciliation as something more than the mother of his children? No, she was better off with that honesty, she decided miserably. Even she couldn’t romanticise deeper meanings into words and phrases like ‘priorities’ and ‘supporting each other as parents’.

Luc was determined to hang onto Venus and Mars. First he had softened her up with the threat of a custody battle, then he had tried to talk her back into a marriage he had previously been keen to escape. All for the benefit of the
twins. But children and good intentions were not enough to hold a marriage together. Why on earth was Luc the logical being so
illogical
? Her head whirled. It was as if they had suddenly switched characters.
She
was supposed to be the one who chased idealistic windmills;
he
was supposed to be the one grounded in the solid rock of realistic expectations!

Star dropped her head and murmured heavily, ‘I think we should just take stock of our marriage at the end of the summer…and not make any hard and fast decisions before then.’

Luc threw back the sheet and sprang out of bed.

That got her attention all right. She watched him hauling on his boxer shorts and then snatching up the chinos lying on a nearby chair. His long, smooth brown back expressed hostility in violent waves. In the space of ten seconds the atmosphere had churned up and charged like dynamite ready to explode.

‘Luc?’ Star prompted apprehensively.

Luc swung back, dark eyes grim. ‘Explain exactly what you mean by that suggestion. I want to be sure I haven’t misunderstood.’

‘Well, we just see how we get on over the summer—’

‘You keep your options open until then?’ Raw incredulity edged his dark accented drawl.

Star nodded. That way she wouldn’t get her hopes up too much. That way if he discovered he couldn’t hack being married to her, she would be prepared and she wouldn’t be quite so hurt.

Studying a point slightly to one side of her, Luc breathed in very deep, so deep she could see his impressive chest expanding.
‘Rien à faire…
nothing doing!’

She stiffened. ‘But—’

With a slashing motion of one powerful hand, Luc silenced her. ‘When you went to bed with me again, you
knew
that I believed you had agreed to my terms!’

Star quickly dropped her head again, wincing, wishing he
wasn’t quite so clever. ‘I just wanted you so much…can’t you accept that?’

‘You’re my wife and you’re behaving like a wanton little slut!’

‘You don’t mean that,’ she told him, looking up hopefully but meeting hard, challenging eyes across the depth of the room and shrinking.

‘I heard you telling Rory you loved him last night,’ Luc ground out.

‘Oh…’ Her mind occupied with something which was to her way of thinking much more pressing, Star said, ‘Are you about to apologise for calling me a slut?’

‘Not on my deathbed!’ Luc roared, which seemed fairly comprehensive.

‘Fine…this dialogue is over until you say sorry.’ Beneath his arrested gaze, Star flopped back on the pillows and shut her eyes.

‘Rory was not on your mind that night in England…and he was a very distant memory not ten minutes ago, when you were having a hell of a good time under me!’

Star whispered frigidly, ‘And when you were having a hell of a good time
over
me. So that leaves us about equal.’

‘How can you be so crude?’ Luc had the nerve to sound genuinely shocked.

‘I just learnt it from you. But at least I have never in my life eavesdropped on someone else’s private phone call…’ It was a lie: on their wedding night she had listened to him call Gabrielle and say he was coming over. That recollection just choked her. ‘But I love Rory like a friend…OK?’

‘No, it is not OK!’ Luc thundered back at her. ‘You will have no further contact with him. And if you think for one moment that I intend to be put on trial as a stud for the summer, you are out of your crazy mind!’

Star felt frozen from neck to toe. She looked up at the superb ornate ceiling, exhaustion creeping over her. ‘I wouldn’t worry about that if I were you. I have no plans to
ever sleep with you again, Luc Sarrazin. Are you going to apologise? Because if you’re not, you can leave.’

As the silence lingered, Luc closed his eyes and counted to ten, then to twenty. This terrible rage she evoked. He felt as if he was coming apart at the seams. He felt gutted. He strode into the dressing room and flipped the door shut. She
loved
Rory like a friend? She had to have slept with the guy. Of course she had! All those months when he himself had been…He just could not stand to think about that, rammed that thought train back down into his subconscious. It leapt out again like an evil genie. Who was the smartass who’d told her to experiment?

* * *

Star wakened a couple of hours later, amazed that she had just dropped off to sleep. There was a note on the pillow beside her. She lifted it with a frown, everything that had happened between her and Luc flooding back.

‘Urgent appointment to keep. Sorry, Luc,’ the note ran.

He was gone.
She had chased him back to Paris. Her eyes stung like mad with tears. It had been thirty-six hours of mostly hell, but she couldn’t bear him that far away from her—especially after a violent row. All she had done was fight with him. What had got into her? He couldn’t stand scenes. All right, so it hadn’t been the most tempting invitation to stay married, but she could have been more tactful. He had been shocked when she’d announced that she would prefer to go for the trial reconciliation rather than the for ever and for ever challenge.

She didn’t even have the number of his mobile phone. She didn’t even know when he was coming back. Six lousy words, and one of those his own name. She buried her face in the pillow and sobbed her heart out.

CHAPTER EIGHT

B
Y THREE
that afternoon, Star was dry-eyed. As Luc had promised, all the rest of her possessions had arrived and she was in the midst of organising a workroom for herself.

She had picked a room on the ground floor, where the light was particularly good and the view from the windows inspirational. The shop which had bought her first small embroidered canvases had indicated an interest in seeing more of her pictures. As she didn’t know what was likely to be happening between her and Luc at the end of the summer, she needed to be every bit as disciplined at forging a career as an artist as she had been at home. The ability to be self-supporting, whether it was necessary or not, was important to her self-esteem.

Her body had a slight, definite ache, which was as strong a reminder of Luc’s infuriating absence as it was of her own weak physical self. Of course Luc had been furious with her. Luc always thought he knew best. But he didn’t necessarily know what was best for
her.
Luc could be terrifyingly self-sufficient, and she needed more than she had naively wanted eighteen months earlier. She hadn’t even understood that herself until he had suggested staying together solely for the twins’ benefit.

Granted, Luc wasn’t
ever
going to fall madly in love with her: no longer did she wish for the moon. But if Luc couldn’t love her, he had to respect her, care for her well-being and stop treating her like an overgrown child who couldn’t be trusted to express a sensible opinion of her own.

A maid appeared at the door to tell her that there was a call for her.

Star swept up the phone.

‘It’s Luc.’

Star stiffened, still furious at the unfeeling way he had vanished while she was asleep. ‘I know. Don’t tell me. You’re too busy to come home for dinner?’

‘I’m afraid that I somehow overlooked an emergency meeting on the current stockmarket crisis—’

She didn’t believe him. He never overlooked anything. He just didn’t want to come home. ‘So where’s the meeting?’ she enquired very coolly.

‘Singapore.’

Singapore?
Aghast, she studied her own white-knuckled grip on the phone. How many hours did it take to fly to Singapore? Was he even likely to make it back for dinner tomorrow evening? She didn’t think so. The fight went out of her. She went limp

‘It isn’t possible for someone else to attend in my place,’ Luc imparted with audible tension. ‘I know that this is a case of extremely bad timing as far as
we
are concerned, but I have a duty and responsibility as Chairman to attend this conference. I’ll be home next week—’

‘Next week?’
Her horror escaped her this time in a shrill exclamation. She clamped a frantic hand to her parted lips, furious at her loss of control.

‘I would prefer to be spending time with you and the children. Please understand that sometimes I don’t have a choice,’ Luc breathed stiffly.

‘Oh, don’t worry about us. We’ll be fine, and I’m sure you’re really busy, so I won’t keep you. Have a nice time!’

She sank down on the nearest seat, feeling as if Luc had yanked the very ground from beneath her feet. Next week. All those days to be got through. There were twenty-four hours in every day, sixty minutes in every hour. What was the matter with her? She had managed without Luc for a long time. All right, so she hadn’t been happy, but she had stopped feeling dependent. It made her mad that the passage of barely two days could make such a difference.

* * *

* * *

Luc phoned at odd hours during the following week.

There were awkward silences. Then one or both of them would rush into speech, usually to say, or in his case ask, something about Venus and Mars. The phone was a business aid to Luc. He didn’t chat. He didn’t share the experiences of his day. And Star was too mortified to press him on the latter subject after her pretty much unforgivable crack about how bored she had once been when he mentioned anything relating to the Sarrazin bank.

A little over eighteen months ago she had thought she was so mature for her age too. Now she was looking back and wincing for her younger self, appreciating how much she
had
matured since becoming a mother. Before the twins’ birth she had been as self-absorbed as most teenagers. Luc’s workaholic schedule had just made her resent the Sarrazin bank and she hadn’t ever attempted to understand anything he tried to explain.

The day before Luc was due to return, Star took the twins into the woods for a walk and a picnic. It was a heavenly afternoon. Drowsing early summer heat seeped down through the tree canopy into the grassy glade where Star had spread a rug. With the twins dozing in their pram, Star was in a dreamy daze when she heard a slight sound and lifted her head. Her expressive eyes widened, her throat constricting.

Luc came to a halt several feet away. In an elegant cream suit that accentuated the stunning darkness of his hair and the vibrant gold of his skin, he looked drop-dead gorgeous. Her mouth ran dry and her heart leapt.

‘Luc…how on earth…? I mean…I wasn’t expecting you!’ Scrambling up, the folds of her many-shaded long green skirt fluttering round her slender frame, she surged off the rug in her bare feet, only to jerk to a sudden halt about eighteen inches from him as she recalled her original intent to greet his return with frozen cool.

‘No, don’t spoil that welcome!’ His amusement unconcealed
as he recognised her dismay, Luc reached out and urged her the rest of the way to him.

A lean hand splaying to her slim hips, to pin her in place, he gazed down at her, lush lashes screening all but a dark glimmer of his eye. ‘I think you missed me—’

‘I was just so surprised to see you standing there. I got a fright!’ Star’s cheeks were red as fire.

‘With those eyes, you can’t lie…you really can’t lie to me,
mon ange
,’ Luc chided, his other hand curving to her chin to push up her face, his fingers slowly sliding into her hair. ‘And why should you lie?’

The touch of his hand on her sun-warmed skin sent a wave of undeniable awareness tremoring down her taut spinal cord. She fought the sensation with all her might, only to succumb to the sudden passionate force of Luc’s mouth possessing hers.

After a week of deprivation, he had the same effect on her as a flame on dynamite. Her whole body leapt in sensual shock. She closed her hands over his shoulders to keep herself upright as she leant into him, the heat and strength of his hard, muscular frame a powerful enticement. Wildly excited by the taste of him, she closed her arms around him, quivering as she registered his potent arousal.

Suddenly Luc dragged his mouth from hers, bracing his hands momentarily on her shoulders to steady her, and laughed softly. ‘We have an audience…’

He strode away. Blinking in bemusement, Star spun round. Luc was now hunkered down by the pram, all his attention directed at Venus, who was holding out her arms and making little excitable noises of welcome. Feeling like a third wheel, Star stiffened and bit her lower lip.

‘Star…’ Luc extended his hand.

‘What?’

‘I have time to make up with you, but time to make up with our son and daughter as well,’ he murmured smoothly. Her face burned like a house fire. She had never been so
grateful that he wasn’t looking at her. If she had been sixteen, she’d have stormed off in furious embarrassment. Four years older, she compressed her lips and approached the pram. Tugging her down beside him, Luc curved a strong arm round her.

‘This is what I want them to see. You and I together and relaxed,’ he shared softly. ‘Aside of weddings and funerals, I never saw my parents together. They despised each other. If they had to communicate they used the phone. I thought that was normal. I thought all families lived like that…each of them entirely separate under the same roof.’

BOOK: One Night with His Wife
2.22Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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