Pam Jenoff A Hidden Affair

ISBN 13: 9781223004648

A Hidden Affair

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9781223004648: A Hidden Affair

New York Times Bestselling Author
Past wars, past lives, past loves...Can we ever really let them go...And should we?


Ten years ago, U.S. State Department intelligence officer Jordan Weiss’s life was turned upside down when she was told her college boyfriend, Jared, drowned in the River Cam. In a shocking discovery, though, she realizes that things weren’t as they seemed and that she had been lied to and betrayed by those closest to her. Reeling from the shock— and the knowledge that Jared is still alive—Jordan resigns her State Department post and sets off in search of answers. Traveling to Jared’s last known whereabouts on the French Riviera, she encounters Nicole, a mysterious woman who flees after refusing to disclose what she knows about Jared.

Following Nicole across Europe, Jordan soon discovers that she is not alone in her pursuit— Aaron, a handsome and enigmatic Israeli, is chasing Nicole for his own cryptic reasons. Though distrustful of each other, Jordan and Aaron join forces on a journey that takes them half a world away, and only steps ahead of grave peril.

As Jordan draws closer to finding the answers that have eluded her for a decade, larger questions remain: Can she reconcile her attraction to Aaron with her unresolved feelings for Jared, the only man she ever loved? Will the truth be too devastating to handle or finally set her free?

Will she have a chance at happiness at last? Thrilling, romantic, and impossible to put down, A Hidden Affair gives us a brave and relentless heroine who never gives up on her search for the truth.

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About the Author:

Pam Jenoff is the author of several novels, including the international bestseller The Kommandant's Girl, which also earned her a Quill Award nomination. Pam lives with her husband and three children near Philadelphia where, in addition to writing, she teaches law school.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

chapter ONE

I GAZE ACROSS THE veranda, beyond the rows of yachts and sailboats bobbing in the Porte de Monaco toward the sparkling Mediterranean waters. To my right, the shoreline curves inward before jutting out to sea again at La Condamine, the cluster of tall gleaming buildings that rise against the steep, rocky hillside. A drop of perspiration runs down the glass carafe of water that sits before me and seeps into the white linen cloth. From the dozen or so other tables around mine comes the quiet murmur of conversation, mingled with spoons clinking against teacups and the gentle rustling of morning newspapers.

Inhaling the mix of salt air and coffee, tinged with a hint of citrus, I tilt my head upward. Above the canvas-and-bamboo umbrella, the sky is an unbroken blue. It is hard to believe that just two days ago I was in England. I took the last evening flight from Heathrow, rushing to the airport only to be predictably delayed by fog. We didn’t land in Milan until almost three in the morning, and I briefly considered getting a hotel room there, catching a few hours of sleep. But eager to reach my destination, I decided against it. Instead, I took a taxi to the train station, loitering over cups of burned cappuccino in the all-night cafÉ until the ticket office opened at four thirty. Half an hour later I boarded the train to Monaco.

We traveled through the gritty outskirts of the city in the darkness, stopping twice at remote stations for passengers before picking up speed and moving through the rugged border region between Italy and France. As we reached the coast, the sun seemed to rise suddenly behind us, a floodlight on a movie set, revealing the jagged peaks above, blue waters below. The terraced hills were broken indiscriminately by grand mansions and simple cottages that seemed to share the breathtaking environs with egalitarian ease.

The train slowed again to a leisurely pace, hugging the mountainside, unfazed by the sports cars and lorries that raced along the thin strip of road beside it. As the sun climbed higher in the sky, a man opened one of the carriage doors facing the sea and hung carelessly by his arms from the top, open shirt blowing in the breeze.

It was not the first time I had taken this journey. I had been here as a student during the summer holiday between my first and second years at Cambridge, on a monthlong backpacking trip across Europe with a few of my British classmates. We spent three nights sleeping on the floor of an apartment owned by a friend of a friend whose mother had remarried a Monaco native. After weeks of tents and public campground bathrooms, the tiny flat, with its washing machine and real shower, felt like paradise. I remember being struck by the dramatic terrain of the CÔte d’Azur, the idyllic tropical beauty that seemed so improbable in my American view of what Europe would be like. I left reluctantly, hoping to return again someday. But I certainly never expected to be here now. Not like this.

I take a sip of coffee, tearing my gaze reluctantly from the sea, and reach into the leather tote that sits by my feet. Feeling instinctively around the familiar contents, I pull out a manila file. My boss, Maureen, gave it to me at the embassy in London, just minutes after she dropped the bombshell that would change my life forever: Jared, my college boyfriend, did not drown in the river a decade ago as I believed, but had faked his death and disappeared from Cambridge.

I thumb through the file, which I took with me when leaving the embassy after I resigned my State Department commission. It contains all of the information Mo had about Jared’s whereabouts these past ten years, or so she claimed. Pictures, reports, and other notes form a tapestry of Jared’s life after he vanished. There are little snippets about the places he had been, how he’d lived, what he had done after he’d left. A few aliases he’d used in the early years. Mo gave me the file in exchange for my silence. I wonder now if it was worth the price. Most of the details are months or years out-of-date. Only one scrap of paper, bearing the address of a Monaco apartment building, is of any possible use. That’s what brought me here.

I close the file and take another sip of coffee, staring out once more across the water. The warm paradise is such a sharp contrast to gray, chilly England. It was just a few weeks ago that I requested the assignment to the London embassy in order to be by the side of my closest friend, Sarah, as she struggled against Lou Gehrig’s disease. Then, it seemed that returning to England for the first time since Jared died, confronting my memories, would be the hardest thing I would ever have to do. But Sarah had summoned me, or so I thought, and so, steeling myself, I asked the Director to reassign me to the embassy in London.

It should have been straightforward: take care of Sarah, do my job, try not to get too buried in my memories. But then, shortly after my arrival, our classmate Chris approached me, stirring up the questions about Jared’s death that I had always been too afraid to ask. What had really happened that night? The answer, we quickly learned once I agreed to help Chris do some digging, was not the one we had been given years earlier. Jared’s death was not an accident. But that only begged more questions, darker ones: Who had wanted him dead, and why?

Jared. My breath catches as his face appears in my mind. I see him, as I always do, standing on the deck of the boathouse the day we met, tall and handsome, silhouetted against the pale, predawn sky. Ours was hardly love at first sight. We clashed horribly, him unable to control his frustration at my relative lack of experience as a coxswain, me at first terrified and later angered by his terse ways. With such intense dislike, I hadn’t seen it coming, the heated kiss on the balcony overlooking the Thames months later. After, there was never any question that we would be together.

Together, at least, for a short while. We knew from the start that we had three months until my scholarship ended and I would be forced to return to America. And then, weeks before my scheduled departure, he was gone, purportedly drowned in the river. It was a story without an ending—until now. I still cannot believe that he is alive, that in hours or days I might see him again.

Might be alive, a voice in my head, not my own, reminds gently. He was last seen some time ago, perhaps, at a flat just minutes away from where I now sit. All I have is an address, no confirmation that he has been there recently or information as to the reliability of the source. But it was all I had to go on, and so I got on the plane. Finding Jared is the one thing that still makes sense, the only thing that matters.

But the revelation that he might be alive raised more questions than it had answered and even as I envision the reunion that for the past ten years had seemed impossible, nagging thoughts intrude: Why did Jared disappear without telling me? Why didn’t he come back, or at least contact me to let me know he was not dead, instead of allowing me to grieve all of these years?

I tuck the file back into my bag. There will be time for questions later; first I have to find Jared. I signal the waiter over to sign for the bill, then walk across the terrace and into the lobby. The hotel, with its fifty-odd rooms, is exactly the kind I like, intimate, yet large enough for me to be inconspicuous.

“Mademoiselle Weiss?” As I pass the front desk, a voice jars me from my thoughts.

Surprised, I turn to face the clerk who helped me check in the previous day. So much for inconspicuous. “Yes?”

He is holding out an envelope in my direction. “For you.”

I stare at his outstretched hand for several seconds, my heart pounding. No one is supposed to know I am here. Reluctantly, I take the envelope with my name typed on the front from him, tear it open. A card falls to the ground and as I scramble to pick it up, Maureen’s familiar handwriting, long and flowery, seems to leap out toward me.

I’m sorry, the note reads. Good luck, be careful, and thank you for understanding.

I relax slightly. Maureen is not coming after me. At least not yet. Her note is another apology for her betrayal. But how did she track me down?

I feel inside the envelope once more. There is a thin stack of traveler’s checks, held together by a paper clip. I thumb through them. There must be at least five thousand dollars. My anger flares. Does Mo think that she can buy my silence? But she did not intend it that way, I realize quickly. The money is a reaffirmation of our agreement: I will not report to the State Department the secret that would surely end her career when she is just a step away from becoming an ambassador. In exchange, she will not tell anyone else where I am, or stop me from doing what I have set out to do.

Of course, her note is wrong in one respect: I do not understand. Mo had been my mentor and friend. Yet she lied to me, and made me a pawn in her political game. My fury rises to full boil. I cannot imagine understanding or forgiving what she did, not now. Not ever.

My shoulders slump with fatigue. I suppose I should be grateful; in the end, she gave me the one piece of information that matters. Without Mo and her elaborate subterfuge, I might never have discovered that Jared is alive.

I approach the clerk at the desk once more. “Checking out,” I say, thinking ruefully of my room with its crisp sheets, the small patio overlooking the harbor. But I cannot stay put any longer, not with Mo knowing where I am. No, I will move to one of the smaller pensions, somewhere nondescript that will take a cash deposit in lieu of a credit card without looking too closely.

I reach for my wallet, then pause, considering the traveler’s checks. In principle I hate to touch them, to imply that my sil...

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Jenoff, Pam
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Jenoff, Pam
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