Today, HJ is pleased to share with you Beth Kery’s new release: THE AFFAIR
Available for the first time as a complete novel—the serial from the New York Times bestselling author that explores the dynamics of power and sex between two people who set the rules of desire…only to shatter them.
When unconventional hospice nurse Emma Shore secured a new position at the Breakers, the sprawling mansion of enigmatic and dangerously handsome racecar billionaire Michael Montand, she had no idea how soon she’d be drawn into his darker sexual games—or that it would be her own fantasies that would hold her captive.
Michael knew he shouldn’t have engaged such an innocent woman to share in his desires. But strong sexual appetites and selfishness run in his blood.
From Michael’s luxurious lakeside home to the sun-drenched, sensual shores of the French Riviera, Emma submits again and again to his intoxicating power. But she knows there is only one way to protect her heart.
The affair will continue, but under her conditions: Only she can end it, and when it’s over, they will part and never speak again of the things they dared to do behind locked doors.
Read an exclusive excerpt from The Affair
After her shift the next night she exited the Breakers and walked out into a warm July evening. There were no stars or moon- shine, and the air felt close. She inhaled deeply before she climbed into her Ford Focus, smelling rain. Heat lightning flickered on the distant western horizon. How fantastic would it be, to live here and be able to take a midnight swim on a humid night like this before a storm broke, to wash away the residue of the day in the cold, refreshing water?
The thought triggered an uncontrollable vision of slipping into that lovely pool that overlooked the lake and swimming toward the near- naked, sexy form of Michael Montand.
Get a grip.
Her fantasies were getting out of hand lately, she realized with disgust as she dug around in her purse for her keys. Her dreams, which had been dark and disturbingly erotic for the past few nights, were just plain out of control. Nor were they making for a restful night’s sleep. She twisted the key in the ignition.
Nothing happened. She turned the key again.
“Oh no. Not tonight. Start, you bitch,” she hissed heatedly. Her car seemed unimpressed by her cursing, however. Emma imagined it silently flipping her off for not having it serviced for months on end.
Sensing defeat, she placed her forehead on the steering wheel and sighed in intense frustration.
It was almost eleven thirty. Colin had been exhausted all week. He’d said on the phone earlier that he was determined to get to bed early tonight. He still hadn’t gotten used to waking at six a.m. to catch a train into Chicago for his new job as a forensic science tech- nician. Amanda didn’t have a car. She took mass transportation almost everywhere, including to school and to her job as a waitress.
She’d just have to wake up Colin, she realized, feeling guilty not only for that, but the fact that she’d been so irritable and standoffish with him yesterday morning. Well, there was no help for it. She reached for her phone and started to dial.
Her head sprung up when someone tapped on her window. “What’s wrong?” came his muffled voice.
She stared in openmouthed surprise at the dark shadow of a stooping figure outside.
“Are you okay?” he demanded.
“Uh . . . yeah,” she replied. Her already warm cheeks heated when she realized he probably couldn’t hear her. She peered out the window, trying to see him better. The only source of illumination was a few lights in the house that were left on, but those were distant and filtered through tall trees.It was him. Michael Montand.
She opened her car door a crack. The interior lights didn’t turn on.
“My car won’t start,” she explained without getting out. “Get out and I’ll have a look,” he said matter-of-factly.
She squinted, realizing he wore some kind of gray utility cover- alls, like something a mechanic would wear. The garment stood in stark contrast to the tuxedo she’d seen him in last night, confusing her. She set aside her phone, unbuckled her seat belt, and got out of her car. He’d straightened. She realized he was very tall, maybe seven or eight inches past her five foot seven inches. Flustered, she moved aside as he strode past her with a single-minded purpose. He sat in the car, immediately moving the seat back to accommodate long, bent legs, the action practiced and smooth.
“Your battery is dead as a doornail,” he said after only a second. “I have jumper cables somewhere . . .” She faded off when he rose out of the car.
“I’ll set you up,” he said, his deep voice striking her as slightly different than last night. It was still cool and brisk, but tonight his utter confidence reassured her.
“Oh . . . that’s . . . okay, thanks,” she fumbled when she realized he wasn’t even listening to her as he started toward the house. His booted feet scraped against the concrete when he came to an abrupt halt. She squinted, trying to put form to his shadow. It was definitely Montand. She could just make out the outline of his broad shoulders and singular, bold profile against the night sky.
“It’ll only take five or ten minutes,” he said. “This is the garage level, all my stuff is right here. Do you want to go back into Cristina’s suite and wait?”
“Do you need help?” she asked, feeling like an inadequate, ditzy female, a feeling she resisted wholeheartedly.
“No.” There was a short pause. “But you can come with me, I guess. You shouldn’t stand out here in the dark alone.”
Great. She either sounded like a helpless ditz or like she was afraid of the dark. Like it matters. She shut the car door with a brisk bang. “Lead the way.”
Did he hesitate for an instant? More than likely, he thought she’d just get in his way. He was probably right, but she didn’t want to just stand there in the driveway like a useless idiot, anticipating the moment when he returned.
She followed him to a tucked-away, secluded entrance shrouded by trees and shrubs that she’d never before noticed on her arrivals for work. No one would ever find the door if they didn’t realize it was there. He fleetly entered five numbers on a lit keypad and they entered. “Wow,” she breathed, staring around wide-eyed after they’d exited a long mudroom.
He’d led her to a garage that was the size of a warehouse. She counted twenty gleaming cars lined up, ten in two rows—everything from shining antiques to luxury, high-performance sports cars to sophisticated sedans to road hugging, fleet-looking racecars. There was a hydraulic mechanism for lifting the vehicles so they could be serviced. The car pulled to the front, a shiny black one that looked like it came from the 1920s, had its hood up, the engine exposed.
“What?” he asked sharply when she cut herself off, coming to a halt. He took a step toward her, eyes narrowing.
Emma shut her stupid, gaping mouth, but couldn’t stop staring. She’d forgotten the impact of him. The cloak of darkness and the coveralls and his solicitous manner out there in the drive had made her forget. Somehow, the more casual clothing, oil-smudged hands, and a dark scruff on his lean jaw seemed even more devastating than the vision of him in a tux. He seemed more comfortable tonight. More approachable. And that was a dangerous thought to have about a man like Michael Montand.
“Nothing. You just look so . . . natural that way,” she finished lamely, nodding at the coveralls. For a few charged seconds, he just continued to study her with that X ray stare.
“No reason I shouldn’t. I’m more comfortable under the hood of the car or working on engines than I am in a boardroom,” he said before he turned and walked toward the far side of the garage. She followed him across the concrete floor, studying him curi- ously while he wasn’t looking. He seemed younger today. Or maybe he didn’t. It was difficult to categorize him.
His hair was worn more casually tonight, rippling back from his face in finger-combed negligence. In the front, a few long bangs had fallen forward, parenthesizing his striking eyes. The style, in combina- tion with the dark scruff on his jaw, contributed to a sense of effortless sexiness. So did the easy, graceful saunter of his long, male body and the subtle glide of his hips. She hastily admired broad shoulders, a strong-looking back, and a trim waist. The coveralls were somewhat baggy, but even so, his butt looked just as good as everything else—
A metal clanging sound started her from her uncharacteristic lechery. He’d moved aside a tool on a table.
“This garage is huge. It’s cut into the bluff?” she asked, mentally cursing the high-pitched sound of her voice. He had an unprecedented effect on her, one that she needed to try to minimize at all costs. She was way out of Michael Montand’s league. He was megarich, pow- erful, world-weary . . . sexy as hell. He could have any woman he wanted. Emma wasn’t sure she was even interested in being in his league.
He stood before a utility table and a wall hung with various tools, his back to her. “Yeah. A lot of the house is dug into the earth, but the garage most deeply. Keeps it nice and cool in the summers, warm in the winter. Good for working in here.”
“So you like working on cars?” she asked, gazing back at the magnificent collection.
He nodded. “I like taking them apart and putting them back together, designing new parts. I have since I was kid. It’s kind of hard not to know and like the ins and outs of cars in my family,” he mumbled as he unceremoniously shoved aside more implements on the worktable and lifted some coiled jumper cables.
“You own a car company that makes racecars, isn’t that right?” He shook his head. “No. My company makes certain key parts for racecars and sports cars, not the cars themselves.”
“But your father owned a French car company?”
He cast her a sharp sideways glance, and she realized how many questions she was asking him.
“To whom have you been talking about me?”
“Just some of the nursing staff.”
“What else did they say?” he asked, turning toward her, looking mildly interested.
“Nothing much,” she said, striving for an offhand manner. “Some- one just mentioned in passing you and your father both were in the car business. Besides, almost everyone has seen Montand commercials. They’re famous.”
She squirmed a little while he studied her for a moment. Finally he nodded, and she disguised her exhale of relief.
“My father founded Automobiles Montand.” Just the way he said the company name with such an effortless accent made her suspect he probably spoke French.
“Were you born here? In the States?”
“I’ve lived in Kenilworth my whole life, but I’ve spent a lot of time in France with my dad’s family. My dad was born in Antibes and started his company there; my mom’s family was from New York. I have a dual citizenship with the US and France.”
“Are they both gone?” she asked softly.
His eyes flashed. For a few seconds, the aloof prince sitting at the end of that table last night had returned. Then his irritation seemed to fade to slight puzzlement as he stared at her. “Yes,” he replied after a moment.
He blinked. “Really?”
“Well, not in the way you meant,” she admitted. “My mom passed three years ago from breast cancer. When I say my father’s gone, I mean he’s nowhere I know of. He may be dead, for all we know. He left when I was five.”
“He abandoned you?” Montand asked, his forehead crinkling into a scowl
She nodded. “Gone for good. I don’t recall much about him. You don’t miss much what you never had,” she said, following him.
“Lucky you,” she thought she heard him mutter under his breath. What had he meant by that? Had he, too, been abandoned by some- one in his life? “What about the rest of your family?” he asked.
“It’s always been my mom, my sister, and me.”
“Is your sister still around?” he asked, turning his head as he walked.
“Yes, we live together.”
He stopped and turned abruptly. Emma started and pulled to a halt to prevent from running into him.
“So you’re not married?” She inhaled sharply. “No.”
“What were you planning on doing out there?”
“Do? When?” Emma asked. It didn’t help her bewilderment that she was looking him full in the face again, especially since this time she was closer to him. He was good-looking—extremely, the
most effortlessly handsome man she’d seen in her life—but it wasn’t his handsomeness that was setting her off balance. Or at least she didn’t think so. She’d never been that shallow or giddy in the past around a good-looking guy. It was his eyes. She couldn’t stop herself from looking straight into them even though doing it made her feel light- headed, like the air pressure had just changed drastically. The light, iridescent color of them contrasted appealingly with arched, thick eyebrows, eyelashes, and short sideburns.
“Before I showed up,” he explained. “Were you going to call some- one for help with the car?”
She whipped her brain into focusing. “Oh . . . yeah,” she said, real- izing he must have seen her phone in her hand as she sat in the car earlier. “I was.”
She stared, tongue-tied.
“Roadside assistance?” he prompted, leaning his head down slightly. On her anxious inhale, she thought she caught a scent of him—a subtle waft of spicy aftershave and the residue of peppermint chewing gum and . . . motor oil?
“Your sister? Your boyfriend?” he prodded pointedly.
“My boyfriend,” Emma admitted in a croaking voice, stepping away from him.
The word had never felt so hollow for her. She cleared her throat, struggling for her composure. Of course the word boyfriend wasn’t meaningless. It meant Colin, a living, breathing, wonderful guy. “I was feeling guilty about it, actually, because Colin—that’s his name—has been especially tired lately. New job and all. Hasn’t gotten used to the schedule yet.”
He didn’t reply to her rambling. His angular, whiskered jaw worked in a subtle circular motion in the uncomfortable silence that followed. His thin goatee looked very sleek, the way it encircled his mouth distracting her. How could his lips look so hard and firm, and yet so soft and shapely at the same time?
He turned and walked away.
“Get in,” he said gruffly, nodding toward a shiny little dark blue roadster that probably cost ten times as much as Emma made in a year. It was a convertible. A strange feeling fluttered in her stomach as she peered inside the dream car, seeing supple caramel-colored leather seats.
She got in. She glanced sideways as he got in on the driver’s side, holding her breath for some reason. His large body fit into the small confines of the car like a puzzle piece sliding home. Had the space been made specifically for him?
He twisted his wrist, and the car hummed to life. She continued to hold her breath as the engine vibrated into her body, the feeling smooth and restrained, but undeniably powerful. He twisted the wheel hard. A thrill coursed through when they surged forward in the path between the two cars.
Montand must have touched some switch, because two large metal doors eased back, creating an opening in the bluff. They zoomed onto a dark drive. This road ran parallel from the one her car was parked on, Emma realized. They had to travel down it before it met up with the other road.
A minute later he deftly maneuvered the sports car next to her vehicle and applied the brake. He popped the hood and flipped open the car door in preparation to get out, at first not noticing her wide- eyed, stunned state in the passenger seat. His head turned when she didn’t move. He did a double take.
“You really know how to drive,” burst out of her throat. Her laugh rang out into the humid air. She couldn’t help it, even when he gave her a slightly bewildered glance. He seemed to have no hint of how exciting even that short ride had been for her—the plunge into the dark night, the powerful car . . . his effortless handling of it. She hastened to explain her strange behavior. “I’ve never been inside a car like this. It’s amazing. What kind is it?”
“A 750 XG.”
“Is it a Montand car?” He nodded.
“Did you have anything to do with designing it?” she asked, glancing around with admiration at the swift, badass little car.
“Yes.” He leaned forward slightly, hands gripping the wheel, looking at her as if he’d never seen a female in his life. The overhead lights had come on when he’d opened his door, allowing her to see his lips curve slowly into a smile. It wasn’t the grim one she’d seen on him in the past. This grin unsettled her even more than his former mirthless one had.
“Do you know much about cars?” he asked.
“Nothing, really,” she managed to get out despite that deadly smile of his. “But you really don’t have to know much to appreciate it, do you? You can feel it.”
His smile faded. “What do you feel?”
She swallowed thickly, suddenly very aware of his stare on her face.
“It’s like it’s alive. It’s like . . . riding a creature or something.”
“It’s true,” he said soberly after a taut moment. “A car like this can be dangerous. The power of it can go straight to your head. If you don’t watch it, you can find yourself doing something stupid.”
Something flickered in her belly like a dozen moths trying to escape a rising flame.
“You sound like you’re speaking from experience.”
His sensual lips twisted slightly. “I’ve had some experience with fast cars.”
Disappointment went through her when he pushed back his door. She blinked guiltily, hastening to follow him out of the car. What was wrong with her? She was here because her battery was dead, not to flirt in a sexy car with an even sexier, unattainable man.
Although her original intention had been to help him somehow, Emma knew better by that time than to get in the way of his easy mastery. The only thing she was required to do was turn the key in the ignition. It took him about three seconds flat to get her car purring with life again. She got out of the driver’s side door.
“You could be one of those guys in the . . . what are they called? The pits? At car races?” she said with a grin as he disconnected the cables and slammed shut her hood.
She saw his mouth quirk in the headlights of her now-running car. “I have my share of experience in the pits, too.”
His shrug looked a little weary. “I told you I was a gearhead.”
She smiled. “Well I’m thankful for it. This is all my fault, really. The car’s been due to be serviced forever, I just never have the—”
“Do you work tomorrow?” he interrupted.
“Yes,” she said, watching as he recoiled the cables by clutching one end and looping them around his bent elbow. Every movement he made struck her as knowing. Masterful.
“What time?” he asked, dropping his arm, his hand gripping the recoiled cable.
“Three to eleven. That’s my shift.”
“If you leave your car unlocked and the keys under the front seat, I’ll service it for you while you work.”
She stared at him for a few seconds. Aloof billionaire Michael Montand was going to service her car instead of one of a dozen interchangeable mechanics down at the FastOil where she usually went? It seemed highly improbable, like the idea of the president volunteering to clean her bathroom.
“That’s okay. Thank you for the offer, but you’ve already done enough. I’m sure you’re busy with other things.”
“I wouldn’t want you not to show up for work because your car didn’t start. Leave the keys.”
Lightning lit up the night sky and thunder answered. A storm was about to break. She could feel it churning in the sky just behind her, just like her mind spun desperately to think of a way out of accepting his hospitality. She wasn’t sure why, but the prospect intimidated her out of proportion to his offer. It thrilled her, too, which made her all that much more wary.
“Why are you so hesitant? What else have you heard about me besides the family business?” he demanded suddenly.
What had he read on her face? “Nothing,” she insisted.
The small, grim smile returned. “You’re not a very good liar, Emma. What else did you hear?”
Her heart began to thump uncomfortably in her chest at the sound of him saying her name. To hide her discomposure, she rested her forearm on her open car door. His dark brows quirked slightly, his manner the cool, slightly impatient one of a prince being kept waiting.
“Okay. But you’re the one who insisted,” she said. “The rumor is that you’re a cold, selfish bastard.”
His expression remained masklike. A car passed on the country road in the distance, the sound striking her as lonely in the cloaking darkness. A puff of rain-scented wind swirled around them, rustling his thick hair.
“It’s seems to me they’re wrong,” Emma added, her voice shaking a little.
“No. They’re right,” he said.
For some reason, her chin went up defiantly. Neither of them spoke for a stretched few seconds. His face looked like carved alabaster in the harsh white lights, his gaze fierce. Emma cleared her throat and looked away.
“Well, you certainly were kind to me tonight. Thank you again. Good night,” she said, starting to get into her car.
“How far do you live?”
“Evanston. Not that far.”
“That storm is about to break,” he said, nodding to the western sky. “I’ll follow to make sure you get home okay.”
“No, that’s all right.”
He blinked at her adamancy. Did he think she didn’t want him to follow her because she didn’t want him to know where she lived? If anything, the opposite was the truth, and that’s what had made her speak so harshly. An alarm her head blared that she was approaching some seriously dangerous water, while the rational part of her insisted that the idea that Michael Montand was vaguely interested in her was ridiculous, so what was she worried about? He was idiosyncratic, that’s all. Weren’t rich people known to be odd and unpredictable? Didn’t they live by different rules than someone like her? Besides, he’d just been warning her away from him by say- ing all the nasty rumors about him were true.
“I just meant that you’ve already done enough for me tonight. I’ll be fine,” she said.
He nodded, and for a few seconds, she thought he’d actually succumbed to her wishes. But then—
“I’ll follow you,” he repeated in a tone that didn’t brook argument. He started toward the sleek sports car but paused and looked back at her. “And remember to leave your keys in the car tomorrow,” he said pointedly. “You can put them under the front seat. I’ll find them.”
The decision to agree to that seemingly innocuous request felt like too weighty of a choice to make in that moment. She lowered into the driver’s seat and shut her door.
She couldn’t stop glancing at her rearview mirror on the trip home. Every time she saw those steady headlights behind her, some- thing swelled tighter in her chest. He stayed a respectable distance behind her.
He might as well have been inside her head, she was so aware of him.
Posted by arrangement with Berkley Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Beth Kery, 2015.
Giveaway: Print copy of THE AFFAIR
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and post a comment to this Q: What did you think of the excerpt spotlighted here? Leave a comment with your thoughts on the book…
Meet the Author: