As a punishment, he made himself focus on the shabby playpen and its tiny occupants. Both babies were watching him with surprisingly intent expressions. The littlest one, with the explosion of copper curls, the colour of which jarred horribly with her pink outfit, gave him a big, gummy winsome smile. That smile was so hopeful and appealing that in spite of the mood he was in he very nearly smiled back. Focusing on the little boy, with his solemn dark brown eyes and slightly anxious air, Luc was astonished to find himself thinking that they were remarkably attractive babies. He looked swiftly away again, but not before he had reminded himself that those children were now his responsibility as well. Who else was there to support them?
Star turned back, determined to stand her ground, no matter how much his attitude upset her. ‘We had a good time in bed last night. It was just sex. I know that,’ she told him fiercely. ‘But it was my way of saying goodbye to you. I will not be treated like some sleazy one-night stand.’
Luc surveyed her with dark, deep eyes and remained maddeningly silent.
Star squared her slight shoulders. ‘Believe it or not, I’m really happy now that we’re getting a divorce. I have someone in my life who cares about me and now I’ll be free to enjoy that relationship. He has a heart, and an imagination…and he talks as well.’
Luc’s narrowed gaze chilled her to the bone. The atmosphere seemed to have dropped in temperature to the level of a polar freeze. ‘Are you finished?’
Star compressed her lips and spun away, wondering why she had bothered to try and get through to him. ‘I’ll get the twins’ car seats—’
Luc frowned. ‘You’re planning to bring them with us?’
Star spun back in bewilderment. ‘What else would I do with them?’
It was clear that it had not occurred to Luc to wonder what else she might do with the twins. But then in his world young children were invariably in the convenient care of a nanny.
‘You just didn’t think, did you?’ she said witheringly. ‘Where I go, Venus and Mars have to go too.’
Luc stilled, his ebony brows drawing together. ‘Venus…and Mars?’
‘Juno christened them in their incubators.’ Star hated the defensive edge she heard in her own voice. ‘I know their names sound a little fanciful, and I may have put Viviene and Max on their birth certificates, but Venus and Mars are names which gave them good luck when they really needed it.’
‘Venus and Mars,’ Luc repeated with a sardonically curled lip.
Cheeks warm with angry colour, Star scooted past him to fetch the car seats from the twins’ bedroom. As she emerged, Luc lifted them from her hands with easy strength. ‘I’ll take these outside.’
* * *
As the limousine drove towards London, Star worked hard at not looking in Luc’s direction. But she remained agonisingly conscious of his all-pervasive presence. Their relationship, it seemed, had turned full circle. Once again, Luc was taking her to Emilie Auber and then planning to walk out of her life again. Her mind roamed back to their first fateful meeting eleven years earlier…
Her stepfather, Philippe Roussel, had died when she was nine. In his will he had named Roland Sarrazin as her guardian. Since Philippe hadn’t had contact with the Sarrazins since his own childhood, he could only have chosen Luc’s father in the hope that the wealthy banker might feel obligated to offer his widow and her child financial help.
By then, Juno and Star had been living on the breadline in Mexico. Philippe had been charming, but hopelessly addicted to gambling. Only after his death had Juno shamefacedly admitted that she had fallen pregnant with Star before she’d met Philippe, and that he had not been Star’s real father.
Roland Sarrazin had sent Luc to Mexico to track them down. At the time, Juno had been feeling a failure as a mother.
‘I had no job, no money, no proper home for you, and you were missing out on your education. I thought that the Sarrazins would take care of you until I got my life sorted out. Then I would bring you back to live with me,’ Juno had shared painfully years later, when mother and daughter had finally been reconciled after their long separation. ‘How could I ever have dreamt that it would be nine years before I saw you again?’