But Luc had always made her feel like that. Everything about him pulled at her senses, awakening the most tormenting hunger. His dark, deep voice, his husky accent, his beautiful eyes, his sexy mouth. She listened, she looked, she went weak at the knees with lust. Lust. She latched onto that word with intense relief. It definitely wasn’t love any more; it was lust. A greedy, mindless, wicked craving which she had to control, stamp on, stamp out!
No longer did she crave that rare smile, that devastating little glimmer of gold in his eyes when he was amused, the sense of achievement she had once enjoyed when he laughed. No, she didn’t, she absolutely didn’t, she told herself with ferocious urgency. Which was just as well, she reminded herself. Luc might not have been exactly delighted to believe that the twins had been fathered by some other man, but he was likely to be even less happy when she told him the truth. It was going to be a very long and miserable summer, and tomorrow, when she informed Luc that he was a father, promised to be the very worst day of her life…
Star emerged from the bathroom and stopped dead, heart hammering so hard against her breastbone she felt faint, like someone in the grip of a severe anxiety attack. And no wonder! Luc had evidently made use of some other bathroom. Black hair still damp and gleaming, he was in the act of shedding a short silk robe. From across the room, Star watched the collar dipping, the light fabric drifting down to expose what had to be the most beautiful male back in the world. Smooth brown skin stretched taut over well-honed muscles. She shut her eyes tight in shame, denying herself any more of a view. Averting her head, she scuttled over to the bed to haul the spread from it.
‘Goodnight,’ she said in a tight little voice.
Luc climbed into bed, tossed back the duvet and threw himself back against the pillows. Star was wearing an oversize T-shirt with a large yellow duck motif back and front. It wasn’t remotely seductive. But his body seemed to think otherwise and reacted with unquenchable enthusiasm. Star bent down to arrange the spread on the sofa, revealing slender legs to the top of her thighs, the cotton jersey of the T-shirt stretching with provocative fidelity over the shapely curve of her bottom…
His breath escaped in a soft hiss of reaction, the ache of frustration becoming so powerful he clenched his long fingers. The anger still pent-up inside him began to smoulder again. She was playing the tease deliberately. Star was no longer the adoring little virgin he had, with commendable adult restraint, contrived not to touch for the first six weeks of their marriage.
‘A little schoolgirl…’ Gabrielle had composed her perfect face into a pained grimace. ‘Men who prey on schoolgirls are sick, aren’t they? But Star does ask for it. Those big soppy puppy eyes of hers follow you about like you’re a god or something. How can you stand it?’
Snatched from that unwelcome recollection by the enervating sight of Star raising her arms high to comb her fingers through her wet hair, Luc went rigid. The T-shirt pulled taut over small breasts as firm and round as apples. Not free to him ever again, Star had said. Smugly. The rage he had been keeping a lid on for two and a half days surged higher still. She was on the market and he would buy. Why not? He would get her skinny, shameless little hide out of his system. Long before the summer was over, he would be sated. No woman had ever held him beyond a couple of months…and one in a duck T-shirt had less hope than most.
Star could feel the silence buzzing around her like an electric storm. Goosebumps came out on her arms as she got into the makeshift bed, wishing Luc would switch out the lights. Then she could lie in the dark, hating herself without an audience. The dulled ache low in her stomach and the painful tightness of her sensitive breasts were a source of utter misery to her. She didn’t trust herself to look back near him again, lest the craving get stoked to a level that he might notice. He noticed most things, did Luc. He missed nothing. He read her like a book when she could least afford to be read.
‘D’accord…OK, now that you’ve given me the benefit of seeing what’s on offer from every conceivable angle, I want the T-shirt off. And forget the sofa. I want you in this bed for the rest of the night,’ Luc spelt out with crystal-clear clarity.