Sins of the Flesh

Sins of the Flesh

by Fern Michaels

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781420120387
Publisher: Kensington
Publication date: 09/01/2010
Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 576
Sales rank: 56,199
File size: 606 KB

About the Author

FERN MICHAELS is the USA Today and New York Times bestselling author of the Sisterhood, Men of the Sisterhood, and Godmothers series, as well as dozens of other novels and novellas. There are over one-hundred ten million copies of her books in print. Fern Michaels has built and funded several large day-care centers in her hometown, and is a passionate animal lover who has outfitted police dogs across the country with special bulletproof vests. She shares her home in South Carolina with her four dogs and a resident ghost named Mary Margaret. Visit her website at www.fernmichaels.com.

Hometown:

Summerville, South Carolina

Place of Birth:

Hastings, Pennsylvania

Education:

High School

Read an Excerpt

SINS OF THE FLESH


By FERN MICHAELS

ZEBRA BOOKS

Copyright © 1990 Fern Michaels, Inc.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4201-1154-5


Chapter One

The night was womblike with a dense, cloudy sky hanging overhead as if suspended. Threatening, low-rolling thunder grumbled from its midst, setting Daniel Bishop's teeth on edge. All day he'd been jittery as he ambled aimlessly around his luxurious Fire Island summer home. He knew the condition of his nerves had nothing to do with the impending summer storm. His less than happy marriage was part of it, but not the only reason for his restlessness. There was something more, something lurking just out of reach, something intangible-his sixth sense issuing a dull warning. For as far back as he could remember, he'd had these feelings of foreboding, the inexplicable conviction that something was going to happen. These were free-floating, anxious feelings, ominous and hungry, as though wanting to be fed. Fed with ... what was it this time?

Daniel opened the sliding doors impatiently. Although he could hear the ocean slapping rhythmically just a few yards away, the heat of the night was oppressive. His shirt clung to him, and everything he touched was damp. Maybe the heat had something to do with his feelings. He watched as if in a trance as lightning skittered across the sky. An appropriate end to a boring Fourth of July, he thought morosely. He was so keyed up right now, he was capable of creating his own fireworks. Rajean had cajoled him into coming to their summer place, insisting they both needed to get away from the bustle of Washington, D.C.

"Everyone leaves the city, darling," she'd repeated at least a hundred times. "It will be good for Cornelia. We can spend time together and not even plan out our holiday. Sort of leave it all open, maybe even picnic."

Daniel laughed to himself with disgust. Picnic was an alluring term-but forage was about as close as he could get to the reality. The only thing left in the kitchen remotely resembling food was a stale, damp bag of pretzels.

He peeled his shirt away from his chest. When he let go, it restuck itself to his skin with perverse tenacity. Maybe he should go for a swim. Out of the corner of his eye he caught sight of another split-second bolt of lightning racing down into the Atlantic. No, swimming is not an option, he told himself. A drink, then. Alcohol was the one thing they always had plenty of. He'd never been more than a social drinker, preferring to keep his wits about him. He supposed it was the lawyer in him. They were so different, he and Rajean. Like night and day, Reuben would say, and Reuben should know. Not only had they been best friends forever, but Reuben was married to someone just like Rajean. Reuben ... Always the voice of authority and experience. Perhaps he should have paid more attention when Reuben had advised against his marrying Rajean-but then, Reuben had ignored him when he'd issued the same advice about Bebe Rosen. A pity neither of them had corrected their mistakes early. A divorce didn't make one a pariah anymore, and he should know; in his day he'd handled plenty of top-drawer divorces, some full of scandal and all full of bullshit.

He'd seen his wife exactly twice during the past four days. Once she'd waltzed through the beach house to change her clothes for an afternoon cocktail party. The next time she'd put in an appearance, it was to replenish someone's dwindling liquor supply. He hadn't seen much of Cornelia, either, but at least his stepdaughter called and breezed through every few hours. A smile tugged at the corners of his mouth at the thought of her ... sweet Nellie with the sunstreaked golden hair and bottle green eyes.

In his thoughts Nellie was always the young innocent, shy and ever so considerate. He loved her as though she were his own, and the moment he'd signed the adoption papers she truly had become his own. She was eighteen now and in September would head for California and UCLA. He was going to miss her terribly. She was as pretty as a picture, he mused, and the one thing he could never understand was why she didn't have more friends. Every so often a horde of young people would descend upon the household for a few weeks, and then they would disappear, to be replaced months later with new faces. Once he'd asked her why she didn't seem to have any one-on-one friendships. She'd responded blithely that she didn't need them; she was her own best friend, she said, and would never disappoint herself the way friends did. She dated, and boys called, but he never saw the same one more than three times. After a while he didn't mention it. If Nellie was happy, that was all that mattered.

Nellie was late getting started in college because of an emergency appendectomy that had kept her out of school the better part of a semester. The nuns at Holy Cross felt it would be better if she stayed back a year, and he'd agreed. Now he frowned, trying to remember something one of the nuns had said about Nellie, something so totally out of character, he'd dismissed it-out of character for Nellie, that is. Nuns didn't always know as much as they pretended to. Whatever it had been, it was so ridiculous that he'd shelved it, and now it wouldn't surface.

Daniel raked unsteady fingers through his sandy hair, his deep brown eyes narrowing behind his horn-rimmed glasses. Jesus, he hated humidity. He'd been thinking about Rajean before Nellie popped into his thoughts, or was it after? Christ, he couldn't get a clear thought in his head these days no matter what he did. When Nellie left for college he was going to have to decide what to do about his empty marriage.

He leaned on the terrace railing and gazed out toward the ocean. He could hear it, but it was shrouded by the night. The slight breeze was hot and stifling. Thunder growled. In the orphanage where he'd spent his youth, the nuns had called it God's wrath. At an age when they were still convinced the world revolved around them, he and his friend Jake would always run and hide, certain they'd done something wrong for God to create such a tempest. He'd been fourteen before he realized, along with Jake, that it was all a trick by the nuns to get them to behave. He smiled, wondering where Jake could be now. Someday he'd run into him, he was sure of it. Hell, he had enough money to hire a detective to track him down if he wanted to. Someday ...

The usual evening sounds silenced suddenly, as though they'd scrambled into hiding. It was an eerie feeling, one Daniel didn't like. The sky, which seemed to be hovering just beyond his reach, grew as dark as his thoughts. Within a few steps he was at the door, sliding it surely on its track and stepping safely inside. From there he watched his own reflection in the glass as the first drops of rain splattered onto the flagstone terrace.

Daniel threw himself onto the sofa and tried to relax. It didn't take him long to realize that the drumming rain wouldn't lull him into the peace of mind he so desperately sought. Instead he felt even more tense, ready to burst. Somewhere, someplace, something was wrong. Reuben ... he should call Reuben and see if all was well with Hollywood's biggest mogul. And he should make the call now, before the telephone lines went down the way they usually did during a storm.

Daniel groped for the telephone and was relieved to hear the dial tone buzz in his ears. He could almost picture a little old lady crawling out of bed and cursing as she shuffled in bare feet to her switchboard. He rattled off Reuben's number when the operator came on, then waited. Would Reuben be home at nine o'clock on the Fourth of July? It didn't matter; he knew Reuben's haunts and habits as well as his own. One way or another he'd find him.

"Reuben, is that you?" Daniel spoke rapidly into the phone as soon as he heard his friend's voice. "I was hoping I'd catch you home. How's it going, old buddy?"

Reuben's voice boomed over the wire. "It's going, but that's about it. How are you?"

"Great," Daniel said lightly.

"I was sort of hoping you'd make it out here in April. I know, I know, law and order and all that shit. Read about you in The Wall Street Journal. Big man in Washington," Reuben teased. Then his voice turned serious. "I heard about the offer to serve on the White House legal staff. Why'd you turn it down?"

"Crooked politicians aren't my cup of tea, Reuben. You know that. And I use the word crooked loosely. It's all a game, anyhow. It's called Cover Your Ass, and by that I mean if I took the position, that's all I would be doing, covering someone else's ass. That's not why I went to law school, and I'll cover my own ass, thank you." Both men laughed. "I'm doing just fine," Daniel continued, "two full partners, three junior partners, and six associates. We're turning business away. But enough of that. How's Bebe?"

"Off on a toot somewhere. She hasn't been home in three weeks."

Daniel digested his friend's statement. Even though it was said with no real emotion, he wasn't going to touch it. "And the boys?"

"Simon's up at Big Sur working for the summer. Dillon's in camp." Daniel couldn't help but hear the pride in Reuben's voice.

"Jesus, I miss you, Dan'l"

"You know, Reuben," Daniel admonished gently, "planes travel both ways. You could come east to see me. If I remember correctly, I made the last trip."

"I know. I've been thinking about it and halfway promised myself I'd make the trip in August. How's Nellie?" he asked fondly.

"All grown up. Starting college in September. She always tells me to send her regards when I speak to you. I'm going to hold you to it, Reuben."

Reuben laughed. Christ, he loved Daniel! He loved him and knew him so well that he was aware something was wrong-something Daniel wasn't telling him. "Why don't you let me know the real reason for your call now, and let's see if we can fix it together." He heard Daniel's sigh of relief. "Is it Rajean?" he asked.

"It's a lot of things, Reuben. Today was ... is ... I have this feeling. This ... I don't know what it is, but something is wrong somewhere ... you know how I get ..."

Instantly Reuben became more attentive. Over the years Daniel's hunches and gut feelings had been beacons of light, highlighting problems before they erupted fully. The Depression had been one of them. Without Daniel's insight, Reuben and his close associates would have been wiped out like countless others during the crash of 1929.

"Jesus. Maybe it's the war ... I can't put my finger on it." Daniel heaved another sigh. "Anyway, I had to call to see if everything was all right with you."

Reuben's voice softened. "I appreciate that, buddy, but I'm okay and so is the family. The war is hanging over all of us...."

Daniel understood what Reuben meant without having to hear the words. Although they had talked about the war and how it was affecting France, they had never mentioned their time there, never spoken her name aloud-she was always synonymous with their worries about the war raging its way through Europe.

"I hear a storm in the background, maybe that's what it is," Reuben offered gently. "You always hated storms." He couldn't think of anything else to say. "Daniel, if there's anything I can do ... if you need me, I can be on the first plane tomorrow."

"I know that, and it's not necessary. I'm sure it's a combination of a lot of things. As long as you're all right, I'll turn in now. It was good talking to you, Reuben. Let's do it more often."

"Daniel," Reuben said simply, "I talk to you every day in my thoughts. Sleep well."

"You, too. Take care, Reuben."

When Daniel replaced the phone, the sound of the rain beating across the roof in windy spurts enclosed him. He made a mental note to get together with Reuben as soon as possible. It had been too long.

As he climbed the stairs to his bedroom, Daniel went over their conversation and acknowledged a certain amount of relief. He peeked into Nellie's room and found her sleeping soundly. It wasn't until he settled himself in bed that it occurred to him to wonder if his wife was all right. For all his nervousness and worry, he'd not once considered her as the possible cause of his uneasiness. Carefully he rearranged the pillow behind his head and turned on his side, toward his wife's side of the bed. The sight of the tidy, unused space didn't elicit any feeling at all in Daniel. Rajean could take care of herself, as she was fond of informing him.

Forty-five minutes later Daniel was still awake, the sheets and pillow damp with his perspiration. He couldn't imagine staring at the shadowy ceiling much longer. Maybe if he got up and took a shower, he'd feel better. The storm was still battering the summer house, which meant Rajean would be out all night. Not that it mattered.

Daniel had one foot in the shower when the phone jangled. Perhaps it was Reuben, he thought, calling back to see if he had settled down. He picked up the phone, a snappy retort ready, then frowned when he heard the operator's sleepy voice tell him there was an overseas call for Daniel Bishop. What the hell? No one knew where he was except his answering service and Reuben. "This is Daniel Bishop speaking...."

"Very good, sir, hold for the French operator...."

"Jesus Christ! Yes, hello ... hello? Speak louder, I can barely hear you. There's a storm here. Who's calling, Operator?" A spurt of crackly French came over the wire. "Mickey! My God, Mickey, is that you?"

"Daniel, please, we may be cut off momentarily ... Daniel, please, you must come ... I need ..." Daniel strained to distinguish Mickey's desperate words from the relentless crackle of overseas static. "Urgent ... please ... I beg you ... we ... we need you ... not for myself ... for ... Daniel ... you have to get him out ... not safe for him ... Daniel ... speak to me ..."

"Mickey, what is it?" Daniel shouted. "I can hardly hear you. Take who? Are you all right?" Jesus Christ, of course she wasn't all right! Germany had invaded France.

The telephone stabilized, and he heard Mickey's remembered voice clearly. "You must get Philippe safely to his father...."

Daniel's eyes grew wild when he realized the line he held in his hand had gone dead. Desperately he jiggled the hook and tried dialing the operator. But it was no use. "Son of a bitch!" he roared. He stomped around the room trying to make sense of the phone call. Mickey, after all these years ... Memories flooded his brain-all the reasons this woman could still hold a special rock-steady place in his heart. She needed him; she wanted him to go to France. "Jesus Christ" he exploded. "How in hell am I going to get to Europe with a war going on?" Why had Mickey called him and not Reuben? The love they had shared had been remarkable. Reuben would move heaven and earth for Mickey, and she had to know that, but she'd called him instead. Why? And who the hell was Philippe? "Take Philippe to his father," she'd said. Great. But who was Philippe's father?

Philippe ... He'd heard the name, and not that long ago. Something to do with Fairmont Studios ... Of course! He owned 51 percent of Fairmont's stock, and Reuben owned the other 49. Bouchet! Philippe Bouchet! That was the name. No one had ever met Bouchet, not even Sol Rosen, Reuben's father-in-law and the former head of Fairmont Studios. Morgan Guaranty Trust in New York handled all Bouchet's business. Philippe Bouchet wasn't safe in France, and Mickey wanted him to get him out. But why not ask Reuben to help? Because ... because ... Daniel's memory strained. Get him to his father.... Mickey had sounded ... as if he, Daniel, should know who Philippe's father was.

Suddenly Daniel stopped in his tracks. Oh, Jesus, Jesus ... of course! Reuben was ... Philippe was ... had to be. All these years ... it would explain so much. Bebe, Reuben, Mickey, himself. That magic time ... France. He must be, how old now? Twenty, twenty-one, Reuben's age when he ...

Reuben didn't know ... had no idea ... That's why she called me, Daniel thought dizzily. Bebe must have given birth, and ... Mickey kept the child. Yes, it made sense. Mickey would keep the child because he was Reuben's son. She wouldn't have allowed Bebe to abort or give away the child for adoption. That's why she never answered.... All these years and we never knew!

Daniel wept then for his friend Reuben who had never known his son, and for the faceless Philippe who had never known his father.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from SINS OF THE FLESH by FERN MICHAELS Copyright © 1990 by Fern Michaels, Inc.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Sins of the Flesh 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 109 reviews.
ReadsalotFL More than 1 year ago
I truly enjoyed this. It's one of her best books - well-written, detailed account of complex interactions between fascinating people on both sides of the Atlantic during WWII. Reminded me of Winds of War by Wouk. Excellent value. Now, where's the sequel?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Highly recommend this book. This is the second book in the series the first being Sins of Omissions,(which was also very good) I can only hope there will a third installment. It was very difficult to put down, I truly hated for the book to end. Can't go wrong with buying.
Brandi Van Gilder More than 1 year ago
Long drawn out saga of Reuben, Mickey, and Bebe. I always enjoy the history that is infused in these books. Many heartwrenching moments in this book and yet I wanted to slap that Nellie silly in this book. She's as rotten as Nellie Olson from Little House on the Prairie.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The second in a GREAT two part saga. Fern Michaels has exceeded her skills in portraying the love of country and the strenght of people including children during WWII. The way she brought real history into her story made you feel that you were actually in Paris and fighting for freedom. This is saga that was very ard to put down. It would make a GREAT TV mini series if the movie follows the books to the letter.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The characters r so real. I was brought to tears more than once. The story covers all emotions. It makes u feel deeply for what these people experience. I pray there is a sequel and that Nellie gets her just desserts. She is one evil sick chick. Thank you Fern Michaels for writing this book. I wish it would b made into a movie.
pegpJP More than 1 year ago
moved right along
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like a story that is sweet with a weak plot and not well-researched, you may enjoy this book.
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This was a great book! Like others have said, I had a hard time putting it down! A lot like the Texas & Vegas series. One of her better ones.
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Marci Weiss More than 1 year ago
Do not miss this read
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