At six feet two, he was several inches taller and broader than Jack, and, on firstglance, actually looked older, with his dark hair and steel-grey eyes and a slightlyweathered complexion.The brothers were totally unalike. At thirty-five Jack could have passed for twenty-five. Blond, boyish and handsome, he was a slim five feet ten. He had all thecharm of an older man with the outlook of a much younger one. The age-gap betweenHope and Jack— seventeen years—seemed nothing. Nothing until Guy Delacroix pointed it out. He stared at her, long and hard,then spoke to Jacques, excluding her.He said,
'Es-tu fou, Jacques? Elle est une enfant.'
He did not look at Hope. If he had, he might have seen from her face that shewasn't stupid. She could certainly translate basic French: 'Are you mad, Jack? She is achild.'She waited for Jacques to deny, to resent, to explode, but he just laughed.
'Peut-être. Mais une très belle enfant, n'est-ce pas?'
He smiled at his brother.Hope could translate that, too. O level French was one of the few she'dmanaged to acquire at the trendy boarding-school where her father had sent her.'Perhaps,' Jack conceded. 'But a very beautiful child, isn't she?'Guy's eyes slid back to her. From the expression on his face, he didn't agree.Hope didn't care what he thought of her looks. She responded,
'Je ne suis pasune enfante ni stupide.'
'I am not a child or stupid,' she informed Guy Delacroix, blue eyes narrowingin temper.Jack looked surprised, then laughed again. He had not known she could speak French, but was unembarrassed by it.If anything, his brother looked even further down his long French nose, histhin lips twisting. Hope's first impression of a powerfully handsome man was rapidlyforgotten, as she thought him mean-eyed and cold.'Do you wish me to apologise?' he directed at her, not one degree warmer.'Not if it's going to kill you,' she retorted in a careless tone.They exchanged looks again, registering their true feelings. Hate at first sight.Jack seemed amused as he suggested, 'Shall we start again? In English, thistime, I think... Hope Gardener, meet Guy Delacroix. My fiancée. My brother.' Henodded from one to the other.After a moment's hesitation, Guy Delacroix muttered a scrupulously polite,'Pleased to meet you,' as he extended his hand towards her.His personality seemed to change with his language. From Gallic temper toEnglish dispassion in one easy move. At any rate, it was the first and last time he ever spoke French in front of her.Hope wondered which was real as she reluctantly returned his brief handshakeand he sat down. She recalled what Jack had told her about the Delacroix family.Their mother was English, from Cornwall. She had married a Frenchman and theyhad spent their early years in Paris. When their father, Armand Delacroix, had died,Jack had been twelve, Guy seven. A couple of years later they had returned to live inCornwall.On first impression, Guy had seemed the more French, but, as she listened tohis ensuing conversation with Jack, she revised that opinion. He was a lawyer whotalked in dry, lawyer terms. Jack allowed him to handle his business affairs. With Guy based in Cornwall, inconveniently far from London, Hope assumed Jack did this as afavour.