Star nodded very carefully, as if she was willing him to continue.
Luc moved his hands in an odd jerky motion and then lunged back against the door, to slam it in a clear burst of frustration. He thrust his dark head back, hands coiled into fists. ‘I am very, very possessive of you. I know that’s not right, but that seems to be the way I am…’
He sounded really ashamed of that admission. Suddenly needing to see him better than moonlight allowed, Star sat up to switch on the bedside lamp. She collided with staggeringly defensive dark eyes, and her heart ached for him as if he had squeezed it.
‘I was very relieved to realise that you and Rory had never been lovers. But that wasn’t right either…’
That this was the guy who had told her to go off and experiment with boys her own age was silently acknowledged by the self-derisive twist of his wide, sensual mouth.
‘So you’ve got a dog-in-the-manger side to you,’ Star muttered tautly.
‘I haven’t thought about that…’ A flash of dismay showed distinctly in his serious gaze, and even in that tense atmosphere she almost smiled. He looked slightly panicky, as if she had moved off his authorised script and he wasn’t equipped to handle it.
‘What else have you thought about?’ she asked thickly.
‘That I interpreted certain events in the manner that suited my view of myself best,’ Luc admitted. ‘I think I married you because I knew that sooner or later I would lose control and end up in bed with you.’
‘But, Luc, when you got me, you didn’t want me. I was your wife for six weeks—’
‘And I said at the outset it wasn’t to be a real marriage. I’m stubborn,’ he grated with sudden impatience. ‘If I slept with you, then it was a real marriage, a serious commitment…a commitment I hadn’t even considered making at that stage of my life.’
‘So you thought, If I sleep with her, I’ll be stuck with her…and that was enough to keep me in a bed at the foot of the corridor,’ Star said with flat bitterness. ‘Thanks for clarifying that.’
‘It was for your sake as much my own. And will you for once acknowledge that that entire six weeks was spent waiting for my father to die…and then burying him?’ Luc demanded starkly. ‘I know you think I’m unfeeling and cold, but I had a lot more on my mind than my own physical needs!’
Hot, shamed colour washed up over Star’s startled face. She lowered her head, unable to comprehend how she could possibly have overlooked that harsh background to those weeks for so long. But then she hadn’t loved Roland Sarrazin. He had been a distant stranger to her, a grudging guardian, a man with precious little interest in her. ‘Yes…’
‘I was under a lot of stress, and you were very appealing, but I didn’t want to use you just for…comfort,’ he bit out very, very low.
At that, Star lifted her head, aquamarine eyes swimming with tears. ‘So you used Gabrielle Joly instead…’
Luc studied her in complete shock.
‘Yes…I knew about Gabrielle,’ Star confirmed, recognising that that really was a surprise to him.
Striding over to the bed, Luc sank down beside her. ‘How did you find out about Gabrielle?’ he demanded thickly.
She ignored that question. ‘I thought you were finished with her…until our wedding night, when I heard you on the phone to her,’ she shared chokily.
Luc lifted his hand and pushed her tumbled hair off her cheekbone, stunning dark eyes full of regret but also considerable bemusement. ‘And yet you said nothing…you, who could talk up a storm over a leaf falling, said nothing about something so much more important?’
‘You spent our wedding night with her.’
‘Don’t be stupid…’ Luc groaned. ‘How could you be that stupid?’
‘I heard you say you were coming over—’
‘To return my set of keys to her house…’ Unsurprised, it seemed, by Star’s incredulous frown, Luc expelled his breath in a hiss of annoyance. ‘That’s all the excuse I’ve got. It was crazy…and she was certainly very surprised to see me on that particular night. But that night I just needed to get out and I seized the first flimsy excuse I could come up with and acted on it.’