‘D’accord…OK,’ Luc murmured with amusement brightening his eyes.
Star was determined to knock that indulgent look off his darkly handsome face. ‘Point two: that winter I fell in love with you, you encouraged me at every turn by not rejecting me. I think you got a kick out of my loving you.’
She had got her wish. His amusement had gone. ‘Vraiment—’
‘No, I’m doing the talking here, and then I’m going to bed alone and you are going to think about what I’ve said.’
Luc spread his lean hands wide in an exasperated gesture and strode over to the window.
Star breathed in deep again. ‘All that winter, you fed me confusing signals, both before and after we were married. You could have shot me down in flames when I said I loved you. If you held back the first time out of pity, it still gave you no excuse to allow me to dog your footsteps, absolutely out of my head with adoration after that day.’
Luc swung round, brilliant eyes glinting. ‘I didn’t want to hurt you.’
‘Don’t you understand what I’m trying to get you to work out for yourself?’ Star launched at him in frustration. ‘Why did you put up with me? You are not a tolerant, patient guy, and I invaded your space every chance I got. By rights, you should have loathed the sight of me!’
A dark line of colour now demarcated his hard cheekbones. He said nothing.
Star shook her bright head slowly. ‘I mean, just over a week ago I listened to you accuse me of forcing you into situations you didn’t want…like you’re such a wimpy personality, like you were just totally helpless in the designing paws of a little teenager. You, Luc Sarrazin, chairman of the Sarrazin bank, the guy with the cold, ruthless reputation who doesn’t let anyone put one over on him!’
‘I felt guilty about you…’ Luc imparted grimly. ‘Whose fault was it that as a child you ended up living with a woman who was a stranger and attending a boarding school? I assumed that my parents would have enough compassion to allow you to stay with us at Chateau Fontaine. As you have cause to know, that was a very stupid and naive assumption.’
‘What else could you have done with me? That wasn’t your fault.’
‘I could have tried to help you and your mother. I judged her very harshly on the strength of an hour’s meeting.’
‘Luc, you were only twenty, and we weren’t your responsibility. I was your father’s responsibility, and he didn’t want to be bothered with me.’
‘But I was so angry at the way things turned out that I took nothing further to do with you.’
‘You were a little too young to be a father figure…’ Star was troubled and frustrated by the direction the dialogue had gone in. But she now saw that Luc had been much more disturbed by events that had effectively been out of his control than she had ever appreciated.
‘At the very least I should have visited you—’
‘If I made you feel so guilty…I’m glad you stayed away,’ Star said woodenly, realising that he had given her another slant on his past behaviour, and really not a slant she had had any desire to see. Guilt—a powerful reason to have been unusually tolerant that winter she had fallen in love with him.
‘What else is on your list?’
G for Gabrielle. She’d planned to ask him why he hadn’t simply told her that he had a woman in his life. With no clear evidence of Luc having an ongoing relationship with Gabrielle, Star had soon dismissed Emilie’s confidences about the other woman as being out of date. So it had been a much greater shock to discover on their wedding night that Gabrielle had still been very much a current interest in Luc’s life.
‘Star…you are sitting there seething,’ Luc noted drily.
‘I should’ve gagged you before I commenced attack.’ Star emitted a shaken laugh, her triangular face very pale as the point of what he had already told her began to sink in even more deeply and fill her with unbelievable pain. ‘I did intend to ask why you went to the extraordinary length of marrying me when you could have just cornered my mother and cleared up the misunderstanding…but you’ve answered that too. Guilt. Guilt covers everything you ever did, doesn’t it? Past, present and future.’