With one last disgusted sweep of that hard, uncompromising gaze over her tousled appearance, he turned on his heel and left the room, the apartment door slamming behind him with controlled violence only seconds later.
Darci fell weakly back onto the bed to stare up at the ceiling, all arousal, all desire, having dissipated in the face of Luc’s cold fury. Her eyes were burning with unshed tears.
Tears of humiliation as she relived her complete abandon in Luc’s arms just now, as he’d caressed and touched her more intimately than she had ever been touched before.
But she knew now that Luc had deliberately aroused her, taken her to the very edge of release time and time again before denying her, and that the motivation behind that deliberation hadn’t been his own need or arousal but a punishment for Darci’s deliberate actions these last six days.
Because Luc denied ever having met Mellie, let alone being involved with her.
But he couldn’t be telling the truth.
‘OKAY, Darci, what’s going on?’ Mellie demanded down the transatlantic telephone line.
‘Going on?’ Darci came back lightly.
She had tried calling her friend in Los Angeles several times during the last twenty-four hours, with the intention of asking Mellie about her relationship with Luc. But now that she had actually got through to her friend she didn’t quite know what to say.
Not without accusing Mellie of being a liar!
And their friendship had been too long established, was too close, for Darci to feel able to do that….
But neither had she been able to dismiss Luc’s claims that he had never even met Mellie, let alone had an affair with her. He had sounded so absolutely adamant that he was telling the truth, had been so furious at her accusations—icily so!—that in the end Darci didn’t know which one of them to believe. Mellie or Luc.
Hence her phone calls to Mellie…
‘Yes—going on,’ Mellie repeated dryly. ‘Despite being the one to call me, repeatedly and urgently, you’ve spent the last five minutes chatting about everything and nothing. And Kerry was decidedly evasive when I spoke to her on Saturday,’ she added conclusively.
Dear, sweet, loyal, totally ingenuous Kerry, who couldn’t tell a lie even if she tried!
Darci took a deep breath. ‘I need to talk to you about Luc Gambrelli,’ she said bluntly.
There was a stunned silence on the other end of the line for several long seconds. ‘Why…?’ Mellie finally queried guardedly.
Because Darci couldn’t get Luc’s look of total disgust before he’d left her out of her mind!
Because his cold, deliberate anger at her own behaviour had been too genuine to be anything other than the real thing!
Because, incredibly, she now knew she had fallen in love with him herself….
Actually, she had known it the moment Luc had walked out of the apartment door and she’d been overwhelmed with a deep, sinking sense of loss. And the last twenty-four hours, as she’d wrestled with her conscience over her own actions, while at the same time trying to contact Mellie, had only confirmed those feelings.
She had fallen deeply, irrevocably in love with a man who now felt nothing but contempt for her.
With the stunningly handsome, the sexually arousing, the furiously angry with her, Luc Gambrelli!
‘Darci…?’ Mellie pressed uncertainly. ‘Why all this sudden interest in Luc Gambrelli?’
Darci drew in another deep, controlling breath before speaking. ‘He was at the film premiere I attended with Grant last Thursday evening.’
That continued hesitancy in Mellie’s voice unnerved her. Worried her!
‘Did it never occur to you, Mellie, that I might meet him?’ Darci came back, just as guardedly.
‘You met him?’ Mellie gasped, dismay added to her tone of uncertainty. ‘Did you actually speak to him?’ she asked worriedly.
‘Yes, I actually spoke to him,’ Darci confirmed, knowing Mellie too well after all these years of friendship to be in the least fooled by the way her friend kept answering her questions with questions of her own. ‘And I’m sure, knowing me as well as you do, that I thought of what you had told me about your involvement with him! Why did you lie about your affair with him, Mellie? Why?’ she pleaded emotionally, her hand tightly gripping the telephone receiver as she acknowledged that this was exactly what her friend had done.