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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.
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Beth Kery is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over thirty novels including Behind the Curtain, Make Me, Glow, Glimmer, The Affair, Since I Saw You, Because We Belong, and When I’m With You.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
I walked into work and found myself in another world.
Emma Shore whisked aside curtains on a twelve-foot-tall wall made entirely of glass. The shock of sudden, blinding beauty disoriented her momentarily. The sun reflected brilliantly off an azure, beckoning Lake Michigan and filtered through a grove of white-trunked birches lining the water. Leaves fluttered like green-gold coins, fracturing the light in her dazed eyes. White spray flew into the air when a wave hit the black, jagged breakers in the distance.
The design of the house in which she stood was revolutionary, at least in Emma’s limited experience. The mansion cascaded down the bluff to the sealike great lake, each layer of the house a stepping-stone to the next, one level’s roof the above story’s magnificent terrace filled with picturesque outdoor seating and colorful pots of flowers. On the lowest level near the lake, a clear blue swimming pool tempted someone to pierce its serene surface.
Paradise. Out there it was, anyway.
She turned. Golden-green dappled light transformed the formerly shrouded, luxurious bedroom. Unfortunately, the other occupant of the room, Mrs. Shaw, appeared all the more disapproving in the sunlight. The rest of Emma’s fellow nurses and nursing assistants from New Horizon Hospice were already familiar with this assignment, having been at the Breakers for several weeks. Emma was the new girl on the block and bound to make a few missteps.
Apparently, she’d just made her first.
She studied the elegant, thin older woman with the blond bob, dressed in tailored chic as she crossed the suite. The woman had introduced herself a few minutes ago as Michael Montand’s personal domestic assistant, whatever that meant. Emma’s supervisor had labeled Mrs. Shaw more concisely as the housekeeper. Apparently, even a housekeeper of the Montand caliber could pass as an aging supermodel. Whatever her title, Mrs. Shaw had clearly decided Emma was trouble. Emma’s reassuring smile as she walked to the empty bed was meant to quiet the other woman’s anxiety. Emma was a nurse and a patient advocate, not a rebel. It wasn’t her fault if the family or staff of her patients sometimes couldn’t discern the difference.
“This is a sickroom,” Mrs. Shaw said over the concerto playing softly on the stereo. “The way you’re acting with all this sunlight and music, and having Mrs. Montand showered, you’d think you expected her to go to a party tonight.”
“The sick appreciate beauty as much as the living. Usually more so.”
“She’s not sick. She’s dying.”
“Not yet,” Emma stated unequivocally, ignoring Mrs. Shaw’s shocked, outraged expression at her confident tone. She was a hospice nurse, true, but she’d also had her fair share of experience with death—much more than an average twenty-three-year-old. No. Her patient’s time wasn’t just yet.
“The doctors say—”
“I know what the doctors say,” Emma interrupted, trying to control the edge to her tone. She glanced toward the adjoining bathroom and lowered her voice to just above a whisper, hoping Mrs. Shaw would do the same. Her patient was on the other side of that door. “I just mean that in my professional opinion, the end isn’t imminent. Not today. Not tomorrow.” She resumed making the bed briskly. “Cristina said she loved classical music when I interviewed her earlier, so I turned on the stereo. Who doesn’t appreciate being clean? As for the drapes, has she complained of being bothered by sunlight before?” she asked, ignoring Mrs. Shaw’s glare when she used her patient’s first name. Cristina had given her permission to use it just an hour ago, and that was good enough for Emma.
“You speak boldly for someone so young,” Mrs. Shaw said, her frowning face disappearing for a happy moment as Emma snapped the blanket into the air, blocking her vision of the woman.
“Has Mrs. Montand said she disliked having the curtains open?” Emma repeated quietly, bending to tuck in the blanket.
“I’ve never heard her say one way or another, but she’s never had the opportunity to express her opinion. Mr. Montand has asked us to keep the curtains closed since Mrs. Montand returned to the Breakers to . . .”
Emma filled in the unsaid word in her head when Mrs. Shaw faded off. It never ceased to surprise her how people usually said the word so flippantly in everyday life, but refused to utter it when death hovered in the vicinity. Maybe they thought death would notice, and take them instead.
“We’ll see how Cristina responds to the view when she comes back from her shower. It’s easy enough to pull the curtains again. Cristina might find the sunlight refreshing,” Emma finished the conversation with a friendly but firm tone.
When she heard the squeak of the wheelchair and muffled voices in the distance, she hastened across the room. She knocked and opened the bathroom door, stepping just over the threshold to assist Margie, the nursing assistant. Emma had been impressed by the sheer size of the bathroom, not to mention how it’d been sleekly updated to accommodate all of Cristina’s disabilities. From what she’d understood, Montand had outfitted the suite for Cristina just months ago when he’d learned she’d been terminally diagnosed and was living alone and friendless in the city on a fixed income.
“Ah, a shower did you good, I see,” Emma said when Margie paused the wheelchair. Cristina Montand smiled thinly up at Emma from where she sat.
“It was better than sex. Certainly at this stage in my life, anyway,” Cristina said in a husky, Italian-accented voice.
Emma grinned, glad to hear the wry humor in her patient’s voice. The exotic accent suited her appearance and personality, somehow. Cancer was claiming her too young. Emma knew from the medical chart that Cristina was sixty-two. She had clearly once been a beauty. The wasting of the flesh combined with a slight swelling and discoloration due to an increasingly failing liver and kidneys couldn’t entirely disguise the classic cheekbones and a swanlike neck.
“I’ve made your bed up nice and fresh and opened the curtains, but say the word and I’ll close them again if you’re tired,” Emma said.
“Mr. Montand has given explicit instructions to leave the curtains closed,” Margie said anxiously. Emma was puzzling out the nursing assistant’s tense declaration, when the phone rang shrilly in the bedroom. Emma glanced around and saw Mrs. Shaw hasten to pick it up. The housekeeper looked at Emma, an ugly, triumphant expression spreading on her face as she listened to whoever was on the other end.
“Yes, I told her you wouldn’t want them opened, but she seems to think she knows best. Yes, I’ll see to it immediately,” Mrs. Shaw said. Emma glanced uneasily at one of several surveillance cameras installed in the large suite. Had the enigmatic owner of the Breakers, Michael Montand, been the one to call?
Mrs. Shaw hung up the phone and marched over to the floor-to-ceiling wall of windows. She drew the drapes closed with a sweeping gesture, shrouding the room once again in darkness. Emma had her answer. Surely the nasty woman wouldn’t be so smug if she hadn’t been given permission to behave so dictatorially by her boss.
“What is that cagna doing here?” Cristina asked angrily when she saw Mrs. Shaw pass the door. Emma didn’t speak Italian, but she had a pretty good idea that calling someone a cagna wasn’t a compliment.
“This is his home. I do what he asks me to do.” Mrs. Shaw cast one last glare in Emma and Cristina’s general vicinity and exited the suite.
Emma exhaled the breath she’d been holding. “She’s gone,” she told Cristina quietly as she stepped aside so that Margie could push Cristina into the bedroom. “Do you want the drapes opened?”
Was it fear or anger or wistfulness she saw flicker across her patient’s lined face at the question? Emma couldn’t be sure, but one thing was for certain.
This family had some serious secrets.
“My stepson is the owner of the Breakers, and I’m dependent upon his charity. His father and the courts have made that crystal clear. I’ll live by his rules,” Cristina replied flatly.
“Nevertheless, the choice is yours,” Emma assured.
“I’m very tired after my shower,” Cristina said after a pause.
“Say no more,” Emma said calmly.
Cristina gave a regretful glance at the drawn curtains after she and Margie had transferred her to the bed from her wheelchair.
“I caught a glimpse of the sunlight from there in the bathroom. Was it a very beautiful day?” Cristina asked Emma in a gravelly voice when Margie left the room.
“One of those days where the sunlight hits the water and is absorbed by the air, and you feel like it’s a living thing, it’s so brilliant.”
Cristina smiled. “I remember days like those on the Riviera, days reserved for the young and healthy,” Cristina said as Emma straightened the bedding around her frail form.
“A day like today is as much yours as anyone’s.”
Disease hadn’t entirely erased the slicing quality of Cristina’s smile. “Only someone young and beautiful would be so foolish as to think that.”
Emma arched her eyebrows at the thrust but didn’t respond. Cristina had an edge to her, there was no doubt about it. Emma figured if she was in as much pain as Cristina was as cancer slowly ate away at her flesh and pride, she might be a tad testy, too.
She had recognized Cristina’s forceful character during their initial meeting earlier in the day. “You’re not going to preach to me, are you?” Cristina had queried archly at that meeting.
“Preach to you?” Emma had asked, taken aback.
“About heaven and hell and all the good things I’ve got ahead of me whenever this gives out in a few weeks or days or hours if I repent.” She’d glanced scornfully at her wasted body. “Your predecessor tried to, and that’s why she’s gone.”
“I’ve never liked being preached to,” Emma replied. “I don’t do anything to anyone else that I wouldn’t like being done to me.”
“That sounds like a religious answer,” was Cristina’s reply.
“No. It’s a commonsense one.”
That had earned her a small, appreciative grin, but Emma was aware that she was still on trial. She might be for the remainder of her patient’s life. She’d grown used to the jury being hung on many occasions before.
· · ·
Mrs. Shaw certainly has her opinions, doesn’t she?” Emma said quietly to Margie a while later. They sat in a luxurious living room off the bedroom, Emma doing some paperwork while Margie sipped a Diet Coke. Margie worked a regular eight-to-five shift, while the registered nurses had been hired to provide twenty-four-hour care for Cristina. Emma covered the three-to-eleven shift, Monday through Friday. It would be a change of pace to have a regular weekday schedule. Margie had paused to chat with her for a few minutes before she left for the day.
“Mrs. Shaw is the devil’s minion. How else is she supposed to act?” Margie asked, shrugging.
“Devil’s minion?” Emma choked back laughter. “You mean the stepson’s?” She’d already learned from her briefing with the night nurse, Debbie Vega, that Cristina had no close family to speak of beside the stepson, and that the stepson preferred not to be involved in day-to-day care. What had occurred this afternoon with the phone call and the drapes seemed to go against the idea that Michael Montand was uninvolved, however. Every family and patient was unique, but this entire situation with the Montands was singular for New Horizon Hospice. Hospice nurses typically provided palliative care and comfort to the dying patient as well as support and education to family members. They were only in the home three to fifteen hours per week or so, depending on what the family needed. Cristina’s stepson had insisted upon twenty-four-hour care from fully qualified hospice nurses, however. Emma suspected he must have made a sizable donation to New Horizon Hospice to make up for the highly unusual circumstances.
What’s more, Michael Montand and his family were famous, although not for something familiar to Emma’s world. She vaguely associated the name Montand with fast European sports cars and commercials featuring impossibly gorgeous men and women doing things like sipping champagne at red carpet events and then racing across scenic highways in a high-performance Montand car just in time to catch a departing yacht. Now that she’d seen his house, Emma thought it might fit in to one of the Montand company’s glamorous commercials.
“I haven’t seen Montand in the two weeks I’ve worked here. I hear he’s very busy, but still . . .” Margie’s voice trailed away. She glanced toward the partially open door to the bedroom, but there was no way the patient could hear even if she were awake. The suite took up the entire floor. The rooms were large and draped with luxurious fabrics and several large paintings. Emma could hear her patient, of course, from a one-way monitor perched on the desk. “The maid told me there’s another reason for his absence as far as Cristina. According to all accounts, Montand hates her with a passion.”
“Hates his stepmother? I suppose it wouldn’t be the first time in history,” Emma said with a grin. “He certainly provides top-quality care if he dislikes Cristina so much,” she said, closing the chart and sitting back in the chair.
“The rumor is that he relishes seeing her sick and miserable. I’ve asked the other nurses. He’s never once been here to visit her, either while I’ve been on duty or during any of the other nurses’ shifts,” Margie said significantly.
“That would seem to negate the rumor, wouldn’t it?” Emma asked drolly. Margie was a little prone to gossip and sticking her nose in where she shouldn’t in family dynamics. Working in the mansion of an elusive billionaire sports car magnate was bound to amplify her sense of drama. Emma had learned to keep perspective in every new home where she worked, however. She was there to do a job and ease suffering, not take sides in family feuds.
“I just mean if Montand never comes to see her, he can’t be relishing the sight of her misery too much,” Emma explained when Margie just gave her a blank, non-comprehending look.
Margie’s dark brown eyes went wide. “You saw what happened today with the curtains,” she hissed, glancing significantly at a video monitor on the desk that showed Cristina’s motionless form sleeping in the bed.
“You know families often use surveillance cameras when a loved one is this sick.”
Margie rolled her eyes and took a swig of her soda. “Montand probably has a screen set up in his bedroom and office and private plane. Sick bastard. He’s glorying in every second of his stepmother’s death while he eats chocolates and sips champagne in bed.”
Emma chuckled. “You make him sound like a depressed Dynasty character.”
“It’s creepy, I’m telling you,” Margie said firmly, glancing warily at the television monitor and Cristina’s image again. “It’s not at all like our normal assignments.”
“Every family has different needs,” Emma said in an attempt at rationality. She glanced around the lovely living room. “Besides, there are muc...
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Book Description Berkley Books, United States, 2015. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. 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. Seller Inventory # BTE9780425280751
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