FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF WHEN I’M WITH YOU AND BECAUSE YOU ARE MINE
How much is too much? For a man and woman in love the question could come with a devastating price as New York Times bestselling author Beth Kery’s The Affair continues…
The Affair Week Five
Emma’s increasingly intense affair with Montand is illuminated when she discovers some revealing and unsettling secrets about his past—about his hell-bent youth, about the tragic fate of his first wife, and about how cursed his seemingly blessed life really is. It leads Emma to wonder …what kind of man is she falling so dangerously in love with? He’s dominating her world with luxuries she’s never dreamed of and introducing her to decadent sensual pleasures, but he’ll soon walk away. When does it go beyond an exquisite sexual control of her body, into a manipulation of her fragile emotions?
Emma is an addiction Montand can’t resist, and he’s learning there’s no rest for his dark soul when they’re apart. At all costs, he must convince her to join him for wicked weeks of jeus sauvages on the French Riviera. She’s promised him that she’s his, afterall, and Montand expects nothing short of total possession of her for their rapidly fading time together.
Includes a bonus excerpt of Beth Kery’s Since I Saw You
More to come. Don't miss The Affair: Week 6
Praise for Beth Kery, Recipient of the All About Romance Reader Poll for Best Erotica
“Wicked good storytelling.”—Jaci Burton
“Addictive and delicious.”—USA Today
Beth Kery is the New York Times bestselling author of Because You Are Mine, When I’m with You and Exposed to You.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
The weather was par for the course in southern France when his pilot, Marco, landed. Vanni stared out the window onto a sun-drenched, luminous Mediterranean afternoon. They’d left Chicago in the middle of the night. He’d continued working on the flight, but also slept for almost four hours, which pleased him. Insomnia had become his constant demon as of late. Plus, he’d gotten an unheard-of seven hours of rest the night before, deep, peaceful sleep . . .
. . . with Emma in his arms.
How she could infuse him with energy, make him horny as a teenager, and yet promote a solid night’s sleep at the same time was yet another mystery when it came to Emma.
As they taxied in the private plane at the Nice Côte d’Azur Airport, he fleetly checked the dozens of messages that he’d acquired on the transatlantic flight. When he noticed that Neil Parodas had called recently, he immediately hit redial.
“Neil, I hope I’m not calling too early,” Vanni said when the physician answered on the second ring.
“No, I’m up and about. I was half expecting a call, after seeing you yesterday. We only had a little time to talk in private. That was certainly an unusual visit for you.”
Vanni zipped up his briefcase. Through the window, he saw that Marco was approaching their usual spot for deplaning.
“Well, there’s a first time for everything,” Vanni said, referring to the fact that he’d never brought a woman to his personal physician with a request for blood tests and exams with sexual safety in mind. Of course Meredith and he had gone to him for their premarital blood tests, but this was different. He’d known Neil for almost ten years now. As his private physician, Neil was privy to quite a few personal and intimate details about Vanni. He was one of a handful of people that had earned a place of trust and respect in Vanni’s life.
“I think it’s wonderful,” Neil was saying in his characteristic deep, warm voice that invited trust and confidence. “Ms. Shore is a beautiful young woman. Smart, too. What is it that you wanted to speak with me about?”
“Did Emma happen to mention during her exam yesterday anything about what happened to her when she was a child?” Vanni asked. The plane came to a halt, but he remained unmoving in his seat, staring intently out his window onto the luminous summer day.
“I’m not sure that I know what you mean,” Neil said cautiously. Vanni sensed his unease in talking about another patient.
“Emma and I both signed release forms so that you could discuss our medical conditions to each other.”
“Technically speaking, Van, those forms clear me to talk about the results from the exams and blood draws I did,” Neil said dryly.
“Well this relates to the test results and exam,” Vanni assured. “When Emma was young, she was diagnosed with alpha thalassemia. When she was nine, she had a heart attack because her organs weren’t getting enough oxygen.”
“Emma didn’t mention anything about that,” Neil said, sounding concerned. “Her vitals during the exam were excellent. She’s the picture of health. Are you sure about this?”
“That’s why I’m bringing it all up. Emma is convinced she’s cured of the disorder.”
“That’s impossible,” Neil said unequivocally. “There must be a misunderstanding. Thalassemia is a genetic condition. It’s not a curable disease.”
“I understand that. I looked it up myself. That’s why I’m asking you to check her blood work for indications of the condition, in addition to the other tests we talked about. Like I said, Emma is convinced she doesn’t have the disorder anymore.”
“All right,” Neil said slowly. “I’m confused, though. I spoke to her quite a bit during her exam. Emma seems bright, and she’s very knowledgeable as a nurse. She should know thalassemia is a genetic disorder. It’s not something that can be cured by a pill or something. Why wouldn’t she have mentioned any of this to me?”
“I think she’s learned not to speak of it,” Vanni said, holding his phone to his ear with his shoulder so that he could straighten his tie. “People don’t believe her.”
“That’s not surprising,” Neil said. Vanni paused in jerking his tie when he heard the concern in Neil’s voice.
“Neil? What is it? What’s wrong?”
“I’ll order the test, Vanni, if you think it’s important. It’s just . . .”
“What?” Vanni demanded, his skin prickling with wariness.
“I don’t know that it’s a good sign one way or another, for you to be so anxious about this girl’s health.”
A prolonged silence fell. Vanni dropped his hand and stared blankly out the window.
“You think I’m being paranoid about Emma? Because she’s the first woman I’ve shown any real interest in since Meredith?” Vanni asked, knowing precisely what Neil was hinting at.
“The thought did cross my mind, yes. It’s not every day you bring a lovely young woman like that to my office.”
Vanni closed his eyes and waited for the upsurge of emotion that usually occurred when the topic of his dead wife arose—when the topic of death in general came up. Neil was one of the few people on the planet who knew how death seemed to have singled out Vanni to plague him, always taking and taking those he loved, always leaving him to suffer the barren landscape of life alone.
But no stabbing pain came this time as he thought of the short time he’d shared with Meredith. He inhaled a full breath of air. The only thing he experienced was a genuine wish to find out if Emma was well.
“This situation has nothing to do with Meredith or the reason I brought Meredith to you. This has to do with Emma, and Emma alone. She’ll be the first to admit she’s an eternal optimist. She believes wholeheartedly that she had this disease and was cured of it miraculously. I just want to check on the facts, that’s all. I want to make sure she’s well.”
“And if she’s not?” Neil asked. Vanni heard the worry in his tone.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. I’d rather she know than not know, wouldn’t you?”
“Are you sure it’s not your knowledge of whether or not she has a life-threatening condition that you’re concerned about, Vanni?” Neil asked.
“I just want to know. Period,” Vanni replied flatly.
He heard the physician exhale. “Then you will. I’ll let you know as soon as I get the results.”
After he’d hung up with Neil, he stood from his seat and looked up another number on his phone.
“New Horizon Hospice, how may I help you?” a friendly female asked.
“I’d like to speak with the nurse supervisor, Mrs. Ring?” Vanni said, lifting his briefcase. A moment later, Mrs. Ring came on the line and greeted him warmly.
“I’m calling about one of your nurses, Emma Shore,” he said, nodding at Marco as he passed him on the way out of the plane. “I’ve been very impressed by her work ethic and was wondering if I might be able to borrow her from you for a few weeks in the near future?”
* * *
That Saturday, Emma left the premises of the electronic repair shop situated in the charming downtown of Cedar Bluff. Ever since Vanni had given her that last toe-curling kiss in his car on Tuesday morning before he’d dropped her off and left for France, she’d been obsessed with checking things off her to-do list. She’d told herself it was just time to get her life in order, but privately, she knew her recent obsession with organization was a coping skill. She was filling the days of Vanni’s absence, marking time until she could see him again next week. He’d said he’d call her Monday evening when he arrived in Chicago. That promise was like a huge red exclamation mark on her mental calendar.
Ever since he’d left her, she’d managed to drop off all her dry cleaning, pay all the bills, finish her grocery shopping for two weeks, drop off three large bags of old clothes she’d been planning to take to the Salvation Army, and now take her long-broken stereo in to have it fixed.
All of that, and she still missed him so much it was like a hard knot had been tied off in her chest.
To make matters worse, he clearly didn’t miss her at all. He hadn’t called once since he’d dropped her off after their extremely passionate, emotion-ridden time together. Or at least it’d been emotion-ridden for her.
He hadn’t said he would call until he returned.
Still . . . she’d hoped he would. Stupidly. Now that the week of his absence was drawing to a close, she no longer hoped.
But she still ached.
She could have called him as well, she acknowledged fairly as she walked down the street, fingering the angel at her throat. She had his number. Somehow, however, the idea of speaking to him on the phone while he was so many thousands of miles away only made her ache even more.
“Emma!” a woman called.
Emma spun around, peering down the block. She broke into a grin at the sight of a familiar face. She gave the young woman who rushed toward her an enthusiastic hug.
“Hi! I didn’t realize you were coming this weekend,” Emma greeted her friend, Jamie Forrester. She’d gone to nursing school with Jamie. Jamie had gotten married last year and moved to Green Bay with her new husband, although Jamie and she still stayed in touch.
“Scott has a meeting in the city Monday morning, so we just came down for a few nights,” Jamie explained, tucking an errant brown curl behind her ear. “Besides,” Jamie continued in a more confidential tone, “my dad had a medical scare last week. They took him to the emergency room with chest pains. They thought it was a heart attack, but it turned out it was just indigestion. Still, it scared Mom and me. I just wanted to see for myself that he’s okay.”
“That’s understandable,” Emma said, concern tightening her features. She’d met Jamie’s parents several times and liked the warm, friendly couple very much. “Please give Mort my best and tell your mother hello. Are you sure he’s all right? He works too hard.”
“Once a cop, always a cop,” Jamie said, grinning. “But why don’t you come and say hello yourself. I’m meeting my dad over at Joe’s,” she said, pointing at the coffee shop just yards away. “He’d love to see you. He was just asking about you last night. We’ll catch up over a cup of coffee.”
“I’d love that,” Emma agreed.
* * *
They found Mort Forrester sitting at a booth in the coffee shop, with a laptop and cup of coffee in front of him. Emma couldn’t help but smile at his likeable appearance—a man with the girth of a linebacker and a graying blond crew cut peering through a pair of nerdy-cool tortoiseshell Poindexter-style glasses while he punched away at his keyboard with thick, round fingers.
“You promised Mom you weren’t going to work this weekend,” Jamie scolded her father. “Look who I found out on the street.”
Mort did a double take upon seeing Emma, grinned broadly, and stood to give her a big hug.
The three of them talked for a while, Emma sitting across from Mort and Jamie, three cups of hot coffee on the table between them. Jamie and she eventually veered off on a girlfriend tangent of conversation while Mort distractedly plucked at his keyboard.
“I can’t believe you and Colin broke up,” Jamie said, sagging back in the booth after Emma had broken the news. Mort looked up from his computer, his daughter’s exclamation snagging his attention. “I thought you two would be together forever.”
“Really?” Emma asked doubtfully as she took a sip of coffee.
“You thought so, too. Once,” Jamie said with a pointed glance.
Emma shrugged, aware of Mort’s shrewd observance. Mort may be a small-town cop nowadays, but he’d served in Chicago Police Department for years and he was a sharp observer of character. “It just wasn’t meant to be. I’m fine about the whole thing.”
“Well, that’s good I guess,” Jamie said. Emma understood her friend’s disquietude. Emma and she used to talk a lot about their love lives while they were in nursing school, and she and Colin had been on a number of dates with Jamie and her husband, Scott. It was always uncomfortable when a familiar couple broke up.
“You really do seem fine with it,” Jamie added after a reflective pause. “When I first saw you out there on the sidewalk, I thought wow . . . what vitamins is she taking? You look fantastic.”
Emma blushed. She’d noticed a special glow to her reflection in the mirror all week as well. It was as if Vanni’s uncommon brand of lovemaking had released some miracle chemical in her body. She felt like a blooming flower. It both embarrassed and pleased her to know that other people could see the results of her transformation.
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