Read One Night with His Wife Online

Authors: Lynne Graham

One Night with His Wife (23 page)

BOOK: One Night with His Wife
9.22Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Star felt awful. ‘Luc, I—’

‘Gabrielle and I were companions and occasional lovers for a couple of years. It suited both of us. Neither of us wanted to be tied down and we parted just as casually,’ Luc informed her grimly. ‘I can’t understand why you should
be so obsessed with her.’

Her face was burning. She could feel the heat of her own severe embarrassment. ‘I’m really sorry,’ she whispered.

‘And I’m really angry with you,’ Luc ground out with a newly learned forthrightness which was ironically very unwelcome at that moment.

The thoughts she had thought, the suspicions she had cherished, the very feelings she had gone through over the past hours since reading that stupid note on the magazine now struck Star as rather hysterical.

‘For two weeks I’ve been planning all this behind your back…the church, the dress, the big party…’ Luc vented a bitter laugh, a really bleak look in his eyes now, which ripped her to shreds inside. ‘And all you’ve been thinking about all morning is walking out on our marriage again! Tell me, were you looking for a good excuse to leave me?’

White as death now, Star gazed up at him, her tummy flipping with fear. ‘It wasn’t like that. I got all worked up, and I
scared you might still be involved with Gabrielle, but maybe that’s because I still feel insecure…Luc, I’m sorry.’

He closed his hands over her slim shoulders in a firm grip. His dark eyes were tough enough to strip paint. ‘You are not leaving me again. I don’t care if I have to chain you to a wall some where…you are
leaving me again!’ he vented with raw emphasis.

Trembling with reaction, Star watched him stride away. She was deeply shaken by the amount of emotion he had revealed in that last speech. This time around Luc had been so quick, so ready to offer her a commitment to their marriage. But
had held back, refusing to give him her trust, making him feel as if he was on trial even though she had denied that. And she loved him so much! So why had she hurt him as she just had with accusations that were patently ridiculous in the light of his behaviour in recent weeks?

* * *

Bertille met them at the airport. Enchanted, like Star, when she saw Venus and Mars in the little page boy and bridesmaid outfits Luc had had made up for their children, the young nanny was even more impressed when she saw Star in her wedding gown, wearing a superb Sarrazin diamond tiara in her hair.

‘I really
the dress,’ Star told Luc in the limo on the way to the church, tracing the beautiful beading sewn into the exquisite fabric. ‘How did you pick it?’

‘I didn’t pick it. I just told the designer that you would want to look like a fairytale princess and, since you’re so incredibly talented at embroidery, it had to be of outstanding quality. I only specified that it had to be pure white.’

‘You know more about my dreams than I really ever give you credit for,’ she acknowledged humbly.

‘You’d better read this…’ Producing a cutting from a French newspaper, Luc planted it into her hand. ‘That’s where my information concerning your mother came from. I suppose I should have given it to you yesterday, when I first saw it.’

Still horribly conscious of Luc’s distance with her, but feeling she deserved it, Star stared down at the blurry photo of Juno and her male companion. She only then recalled that strange crack Luc had made about the man having her hair and eyes. Bruno Vence was fifty-three years old, described as a Swiss industrialist and a lifelong bachelor. Her mother
was described only as an ‘old flame’. Obviously the gossip columnist hadn’t known her name. But Bruno’s friends were supposed to be in severe shock at him racing off to get married to a woman they had never heard of and never met.

‘Yesterday…you had this yesterday?’ Star frowned, wondering why he hadn’t shared it with her sooner.

Luc reached for her hand suddenly, and gripped it very tightly in his, his tension palpable. ‘I just have this very strong feeling that Bruno Vence is your father. I met him last year at a business conference. I noticed his eyes were like yours, a very distinctive and unique colour, but I never thought anything of it.
I’m thinking…’

‘Luc, what’s wrong?’

‘Nothing is wrong,’ he stated almost aggressively.

‘Even if he is my father, and I really do think that’s a
far-fetched idea,’ Star told him gently, ‘I won’t be upset. Is that what you’re worrying about? All I care about is that he should be good to Mum. But, most of all, I don’t want anything to spoil this wonderful day.’

‘So far it’s been a shambles!’ Luc groaned.

‘No…no, I was very stupid, but nothing’s been spoilt for me because I still have you here beside me,’ Star swore soothingly, smoothing his tense fingers with her free hand. ‘And you are very, very special to me, and so is our marriage. I know now that I want to be with you for ever, Luc, and I’m sorry it took me so long to admit that.’

Luc was very still, and then he released his breath in a sudden hiss. Snapping his arms round her tiny waist, he took her into his arms and kissed her half senseless with an almost desperate passion that just blew her away. He was pleased. She got that message. Probably because he now had the assurance that she was never, ever going to take the children he adored away from him, she reflected, just a little sad that that was the main concern in his mind.

On the steps of the church, with a photographer snapping merrily away, Luc tried to tidy her mussed hair and Star
wiped the lipstick off his mouth. It would be pretty obvious to their children some day that a major clinch had occurred on the way to the church.

Heartstoppingly cool, dark and handsome in his formal suit, Luc took her hand and walked her into the little Norman church. The simple blessing that followed recalled for Star her feelings on their wedding day, and by the time they turned from the altar she was feeling full of bridal joy. So intent had she been on the proceedings that she hadn’t taken the slightest interest in the fact that the church was packed with guests.

But no sooner did she turn round than her mother appeared in front of her. Comfortably under five feet tall, Juno’s youthfully pretty face was wreathed with excitement beneath her cropped blonde curls. ‘Star…I have someone here who very much wants to meet you.’

It wasn’t the time. It wasn’t the place. But then that was Juno, Star acknowledged, feeling Luc’s arm tighten round her like an iron band while wondering what on earth was still making her husband so very tense. Surely a church blessing didn’t fill a male with the same apprehension as a wedding ceremony?

In her heels, Star was looking eye to eye with the older man who had stepped forward to stand by her mother’s side. It was a sharp shock to meet those eyes so like her own, eyes which were unashamedly wet with tears. Bruno Vence shook his greying copper head in mute acknowledgement of his strong emotion before he reached out gratefully to grasp Star’s instinctively extended hands.

‘I believe you already know who I am…’ Her father breathed unevenly.

Five minutes later, in a whirl of confusion, Star found herself sitting in an unfamiliar stretch limousine with Juno and Bruno, not to mention Venus and Mars strapped into conveniently waiting car seats. However, the gathering mysteriously lacked Luc. Star frowned. ‘Where’s Luc?’

‘We can drive straight to the airport and both you and the children will be whisked onto my yacht and out of French territory before anyone can do anything to stop us,’ Bruno Vence informed her with impassive calm. ‘Your mother believes that your husband must’ve blackmailed you into agreeing to return to him and that he has used custody of your children as a threat over you.’

‘Are you trying to kidnap me?’ Star exclaimed in incredulous horror, quite impervious to the fact that Luc had both threatened and blackmailed her at one stage, as he was now entirely forgiven for those sins. ‘Juno, how could you
this to me? I want Luc…I want my husband!’

‘Are you satisfied now, my love?’ Bruno Vence asked her anxious mother with a wry smile. ‘You see, Star loves Luc. I told you that it looked that way in the church. Our grandchildren are very fortunate to have loving parents.’

‘But I wanted to take her and the children away with us,’ Juno confided tearfully.

‘I’d like to take my daughter away too, so that I could get to know her better,’ Bruno murmured with a rueful glance at Star’s frowning face. ‘But she’s an adult now, with a life of her own, and it would be very much simpler if we just made regular visits.’

Star’s tension evaporated. ‘You gave me quite a fright…’

‘Your mother must accept that you are happy in your marriage,’ he pointed out apologetically. ‘In-laws who are troublemakers are rarely welcome.’

Star leant forward and kissed his cheek without hesitation. ‘I think I’ll be very happy to get to know you as a father.’ She then shifted over beside her disappointed mother and hugged her tight in consolation. ‘Now I’d like to hear about your marriage, and don’t you dare skip a single detail!’ she warned.

Twenty-one years earlier, in Gstaad, Juno had been confronted—
by Bruno’s fiancée, as the woman had claimed, but by a possessive ex-girlfriend.

‘I tried very hard to trace Juno in London,’ Bruno shared heavily, holding her mother’s hand in his. ‘But I failed, because within a couple of months of leaving Gstaad she had impulsively married Phillip Roussel and gone abroad with him.’

‘I’ve always known where Bruno was, but I just assumed he was a married man. Then, the day I had to give up the art gallery, I read a piece in a gossip column that mentioned he was single.’ Juno blushed and lowered her lashes. ‘But I really only flew out to ask him for a loan, because I was so upset and ashamed at getting Emilie into such a pickle.’

Star immediately knew that the only thing on Juno’s mind on that flight to Switzerland had been seeing Bruno again, and she hid a smile.

Bruno was surveying his wife with immense pride and pleasure. ‘When your mother walked into my office, I was transfixed. Juno was and is the love of my life. I want you to know that, Star.’

‘Your father proposed over lunch an hour later,’ Juno proffered. ‘It was so romantic, and, you know, twenty years ago he said he
a romantic man—but he just couldn’t wait to get me to the altar!’

Bruno reddened.

When Star stepped out of the limousine at Chateau Fontaine, Luc was standing on the bridge, seemingly deaf and blind to the greetings of arriving guests.

‘We’ll see to the children…’ Juno called after Star.

For once, the twins were not first in Star’s mind. She threaded her passage through the sea of parked cars and headed like a homing pigeon for Luc. The instant he saw her he strode forward, impervious to all onlookers, and pulled her straight into his arms. ‘Where the
have you been?’ he breathed raggedly. ‘And don’t you dare tell me you’ve only come home to pack!’

‘No, I’m staying until I’m a skeleton in the family vault.’

‘Not funny,’ Luc growled, his dark drawl quivering.

‘I got to know my father a little. Nice guy, but tough—perfect for Mum. Knows her inside out, adores her, can’t believe his luck…they’re like a couple of teenagers,’ she shared breathlessly.

Luc possessed himself of her hand. ‘You won’t believe what I was thinking,’ he muttered tautly. ‘When you and the twins suddenly vanished into that bloody big limo, I suddenly thought I was never going to see you again. I
how your mother feels about me—’

‘Luc…’ A female voice interposed uncertainly.

Luc swung round and then lowered his gaze to focus on his tiny mother-in-law. He froze.

‘If Star says you didn’t carry on with that Gabrielle on your wedding night, that’s good enough for me.’

‘We agreed you weren’t going to say that,’ Bruno groaned from behind Juno.

‘But Luc needs to know that I don’t believe that any more, and that I intend to like him from now on!’ Juno argued.

‘Thank you, Juno,’ Luc murmured hurriedly.

Her mother gave him a big hug and almost squashed Venus in the process. Hovering in the background, Bertille offered her assistance.

Cradling Mars in one arm, Bruno smiled and extended his other hand to Luc. ‘I’m sure you appreciate my daughter.’

since you brought her home,’ Luc completed levelly.

Minutes later, Luc closed an arm back round Star. ‘You look totally ravishing and gorgeous in that dress,
mon ange.

Her heartbeat quickened as she collided with his eyes and she just smiled and smiled.

While drinks were being served, Luc introduced her to loads of people. Star saw Emilie in the crush, but didn’t get the opportunity to do more than exchange a brief hug and the promise of conversation at some later stage. A wonderful buffet meal awaited them, delightfully informal and unfussy, just as Star preferred things. Luc stayed by her side all the
time. In fact he was like superglue, and her mother had to be quite pushy to manage to share a private word with her.

‘I just want to say that I’m sorry that I browbeat Bruno into spiriting you and the twins away from Luc at the church,’ Juno confided then worriedly. ‘When I saw how distraught Luc was when we brought you back, I was really very ashamed. I never thought he had it in him to really love you as he so obviously does.’

Well, he loves the kids certainly, Star conceded inwardly, too used to her mother’s love of exaggeration to credit that viewpoint. As Emilie waved at her, Star passed on from her mother to settle down on a seat beside the older woman.

‘I’m overjoyed to see Luc and you together like this,’ Emilie told her warmly.

‘By the way, that wedding night thingy I thought happened with Gabrielle…’ Star whispered urgently. ‘I misjudged Luc. It never happened.’

‘I’m relieved to hear that, because I always did find it rather difficult to believe,’ the older woman admitted gently. ‘At the same time, I was very much to blame for what happened between you and Luc that winter.’

Star gave Emilie an amazed look. ‘What on earth are you saying?’

BOOK: One Night with His Wife
9.22Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

The Best of Sisters by Dilly Court
Winter Reunion by Roxanne Rustand
The Greek Tycoon's Secret Heir by Katherine Garbera
Woman to Woman by Cathy Kelly
Natural Selection by Lance, Amanda
A Promise for Spring by Kim Vogel Sawyer
The Indigo King by James A. Owen