Jane Green Tempting Fate: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9781427236173

Tempting Fate: A Novel

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9781427236173: Tempting Fate: A Novel
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From Jane Green, the New York Times bestselling author of such beloved novels as Jemima J, The Beach House, Another Piece of My Heart, comes an enthralling and emotional story about how much we really understand the temptations that can threaten even the most idyllic of relationships....

Gabby and Elliott have been happily married for eighteen years. They have two teenaged daughters. They have built a life together. Forty-three year old Gabby is the last person to have an affair. She can't relate to the way her friends desperately try to cling to the beauty and allure of their younger years...And yet, she too knows her youth is quickly slipping away. She could never imagine how good it would feel to have a handsome younger man show interest in her―until the night it happens. Matt makes Gabby feel sparkling, fascinating, alive―something she hasn't felt in years. What begins as a long-distance friendship soon develops into an emotional affair as Gabby discovers her limits and boundaries are not where she expects them to be. Intoxicated, Gabby has no choice but to step ever deeper into the allure of attraction and attention, never foreseeing the life-changing consequences that lie ahead. If she makes one wrong move she could lose everything―and find out what really matters most.

A heartfelt and complex story, Tempting Fate will have readers gripped until they reach the very last page, and thinking about the characters long after they put the book down.

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About the Author:

JANE GREEN is the author of more than a dozen bestselling novels, including Another Piece of My Heart and Family Pictures. Originally from London, she now lives in Westport, Connecticut, with her husband, children, and a menagerie of animals.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

One
 
 
It’s just a night out with girlfriends, not the Academy Awards, thinks Gabby, frowning at her wardrobe as she endlessly pushes hangers back and forth, hoping something compelling, something worthy, will suddenly appear and jump out at her: the perfect shirt, the perfect dress.
It shouldn’t matter, this being a girls’ night out, but of course it matters far more than a night out with Elliott. She is dressing for the other women, not to attract the attention of men, although she has heard that on these girls’ nights out, it is not unusual for men to gather round the girls, not seeing, or ignoring, the wedding rings on all their fingers; ignoring the wedding rings so often on their own.
Gabby doesn’t care about these men, but she wants to fit in, wants to at least look like she has made something of an effort, that she too can scrub up into something of a glamourpuss, that she deserves her place at the bar, just like the rest of this particular group of friends.
She settles on black pants, all the better to hide her thighs with, and knee-high boots, the only pair in her wardrobe that have something of a heel. These boots are almost ten years old, old enough for them to have gone completely out of fashion, then revolve full circle to be not dissimilar to all the boots she passes in the store windows in town.
She bought them when it seemed important to look good, before life, children, pots, and pans got in the way, before it was easier to slip her feet into furry Merrells and be done with it.
In their thirties, all her friends wore the same dull uniforms, but suddenly, in their forties, these same girls are reemerging from their self-imposed cocoons, eschewing the dull blanket of motherhood and grind, emerging in a flurry of bright chiffons and silks as their children no longer needed babysitters, tripping out on girls’ nights out in impossibly high heels and blown-out silky hair they flick flirtatiously, wanting to be seen.
Gabby does not have bright chiffons and silks, would not have bright chiffons and silks for that is not her style, but she does find a black floaty blouse that no one needs to know was $15.95 from Marshalls. As long as you didn’t look too closely, you might think it was silk organza rather than the eminently more practical polyester.
There. A shake of her hair, a brush of mascara, a slick of gloss. She looks good, she thinks, without looking as if she is trying too hard. Unlike some of the others, in their plunging blouses and glittery jewelry, Gabby looks as if she is out to have fun with the girls, men be damned.
*   *   *
Gabby orders a second martini, knowing she won’t be able to leave anytime soon, wishing she had turned down the invitation to go out, was tucked up warmly in bed, watching a movie, her husband by her side.
When Ella invited her to a girls’ dinner, Gabby had looked forward to a large table of fun women in the corner of the Grey Goose, but when she and Claire arrived, the women had already established themselves at the bar, and were lapping up the attentions of a swarm of eager, older lotharios, flicking their hair back as they gave the men flirtatious smiles, punctuating every sentence with loud and, to Gabby’s ears, slightly forced laughter.
The energy these women are giving off, their overt flirting, is making Gabby uncomfortable. Used to seeing them with their husbands, or occasionally during the day by herself for walks around the beach or lunch, she is unused to this transformation. It is discomfiting to see these women, who she had assumed were just like herself, turn into the seductive, provocative creatures who are here tonight. Married to Elliott for eighteen years, Gabby no longer has the desire or inclination to flirt. Even if she did, she’s pretty sure she’s forgotten how to do it.
Although, she thinks, examining herself in the mirror lining the back wall of the bar, it would be nice if someone, anyone, looked at her these days. Lately she has felt more and more invisible. Last week she went into New York, and noticed that as she walked up Park Avenue, during what was clearly lunch hour, all the men passing her flicked their eyes to the two younger women flanking her, in miniskirts and high-heeled boots. She didn’t blame them particularly, but surely one would catch her eye, look her up and down. Even an old one. Someone. Anyone.
Her growing handful of grey hairs was subsequently banished this week with a chestnut brown dye, and she has made an uncharacteristic effort tonight, but it is nothing compared to the effort her friends have made. It is because I am English, she often thinks. I may have lived here for years and years, but I simply can’t pull off high maintenance. It’s just not me. Look at Ella, with her springy curls, her chiffon blouse that displays more than a hint of cleavage, her high-heeled sandals bouncing prettily at the end of a tanned leg.
Look at the tanned older man—attractive if you like a touch of lechery—now whispering in her ear as she laughs, her body tilted toward him, looking up at him through thick lashes.
What are all these women doing? wonders Gabby. Why are they behaving like this? I know these women, know their families; my children go to school with their children. How have I not seen this side of them before, and what does it say about them? About me?
“Is this as much of a scene as I think it is?” murmurs a voice next to her. Gabby turns, finding herself facing a young man. He gestures at her friends with a shake of his head. “I feel like I’m in a cattle market.”
“I know,” Gabby says with a polite smile. “I haven’t been here before. It’s pretty … intense.”
“That it is. And not my scene. I’m Matt.” He offers his hand as Gabby shakes it, noting his rolled-up blue sleeves, his strong arms, remembering for a moment how it felt to have the bloom of youth, for he must be in his late twenties. At forty-three she is almost … almost old enough to be his mother, and it is this that causes her to relax, smile as she introduces herself.
“I’m Gabby.” She settles into her chair, relieved to have someone to talk to, someone who has no ulterior motive, who has not come here to pick up women. Even if he had, he would definitely not be interested in her.
She looks at him curiously. He is, by any definition, gorgeous. Dark hair, blue eyes, a twinkle and a kindness in his eyes that were she twenty years younger and single, she would find utterly disarming.
“So why are you here, Matt? Particularly if it’s not your scene.”
“Good question.” He grins, showing straight white teeth, raising his glass and toasting her. “I’m here on business. One night only. I’m staying across the street, but I thought I’d grab a drink here before I check in.”
“Business?”
“I have a social media website.”
“Like Facebook?”
He laughs. “I wish. Maybe one day.”
“Would I know it?”
“I don’t know,” he says, naming a website that Gabby knows well; that everyone knows well.
“That’s you?” She looks at him again, reassessing, for she has read about this company, knows it was started by two young men, the heirs apparent to the Facebook throne. She was mistaken in thinking he was just some kid. He is an accomplished businessman—she recalls articles about him, how they built the company, and she is impressed. And excited.
“You’re huge!”
He cocks an eyebrow, as Gabby blushes and starts to laugh. “Sorry. I mean, I know exactly who you are. I’ve read about you.”
“It’s such a weird thing, that I have this strange kind of celebrity that isn’t. No one would have any idea who I am, but as soon as I mention the company, everyone knows.”
“At least you’re able to sit anonymously at bars. And I bet you have an amazing house.” She peers at him with a teasing smile.
He snorts with laughter. “It’s true. I do have an amazing house.”
“Is it in LA?”
“Better. Malibu.”
“Oh, God.” She groans. “Do you step outside your living room onto a beach?”
He grins as Gabby prods him for a description of the kind of house she has always dreamed about.
They keep talking, Matt telling her about some of the more glamorous parties he’s been to, including providing her with celebrity gossip that is better than any issue of People magazine. Gabby hangs on to every word, everyone and everything in the room dropping away as she notices nothing other than the fun she is having.
“And it was Lil Wayne,” he says, finishing his story. “Sorry. You probably don’t—”
“Know who Lil Wayne is?” Gabby scowls. “Believe it or not, despite being a middle-aged mom, I know exactly who he is.”
She stops, midsentence, as Matt lays a hand on her arm.
“You’re hardly middle-aged,” he says, frowning. “You’re, what? In your thirties?”
Gabby looks down at his hand on her arm, noting how beautiful his hands are, how smooth and strong. Briefly she wonders why he has not removed it, before looking back up at him with a burst of laughter, enjoying herself.
“Right,” she says. “Ten years ago, perhaps. I’m forty-three, and yes, that definitely classifies me as middle-aged.”
Matt shakes his head in genuine bemusement. “I swear I’m not just saying this, but you really don’t look it. I thought you were around thirty-four.”
“I think I may love you.” Gabby grins. “Although your point of reference probably stops at thirty-five. At your age you can’t imagine there is anyone older.”
“Bullshit.” He grins. “And I’m not that young. There’s hardly anything between us.”
“Let me guess.” Her eyes run over his face, taking in the smoothness of his skin, the lack of lines around his eyes. She thinks of Elliott, his hair now more grey than brown, the deep lines around his eyes when he smiles, his physique, once so toned, now soft and cuddly; comfortable.
Everything about Matt shouts youth. His jeans, his scuffed-up brown boots. His blue shirt tucked into his jeans, with hints of intensive working-out rather than the paunch she is used to seeing in Elliott, in most of the men she knows.
“I think you’re twenty-seven,” she says.
“I knew you thought I was younger. For your information, I’m thirty-three. See, we’re not so far apart.”
“You may think that now, but wait until you’re forty-three and you look back at how much you changed over that ten years.”
He gazes at her over his glass. “How have you changed over ten years?”
“Seriously?”
He nods, calling the bartender over and ordering another martini for her, giving her pause to think.
For the truth is, not much has changed in the last ten years. Ten years ago she was married to Elliott, as she is now, only with smaller children. They lived in a different neighborhood. She drove an old Cherokee. Her life was preschool and playdates, coffees with women she hardly sees anymore. She had less lines, less grey hair, was fifteen pounds lighter.
Ten years ago she cared about dressing up and going out. Ten years ago she made an effort, wanting to be popular, pretty, invited to people’s houses for dinner. She and Elliott would go camping, up in Vermont. They hiked, and skied. Now it is all she can do to take the dog for a walk.
What has happened in the last ten years? she thinks. When did life become so … she won’t use the word “dull,” chooses instead to use “pots and pans.” How did she and Elliott drift so seamlessly into middle age, and where did all that energy go?
She can’t tell all that to this stranger, choosing instead to share the positive.
“I am more comfortable in my skin. Turning forty was a turning point. I stopped needing to prove myself to anyone. I probably ought to make more of an effort”—she gestures to her friends, all of whom now make more of an effort, at the other end of the bar with a new group of men—“but I love that it doesn’t matter to me anymore.”
“I think you look great,” Matt says evenly. There is not a hint of flirtation in his voice, and yet, as he says it, he holds her gaze until she blushes and looks away, feeling something inside her give a slight jolt.
Don’t be ridiculous, she tells herself. There is no way in hell this lovely young boy is flirting with you. I have no idea what just happened, other than that it is in my imagination.
Gabby covers her embarrassment with a forced bark of laughter. “My friends over there?” She gestures toward them. “ They look great.”
He glances over before turning back to Gabby with a dismissive shake of his head. “No. To me they all look overdone. Too much makeup, too much hair, too much flounce. I prefer my women natural. Like you.” There it is. That gaze again.
Grateful for the darkness, Gabby flushes as she says thank you, jumping as the phone in her back pocket starts to vibrate. She pulls it out to see Elliott’s name on the screen.
“I have to get this,” she says, hopping off the stool. “I’ll be right back.”
Threading through the crowd, she breathes a sigh of relief. Even if she was imagining it, she has not led him on. She told him she is married. That should put him off, if, indeed, there is anything to put off. Which there couldn’t possibly be.
“Hi honey!” She sits down on a low stone wall outside, aware suddenly that she is not as sober as she had thought. “Are you having fun?”
“Not as much fun as it sounds like you’re having!” laughs Elliott as Gabby starts. What does he mean? How does he know she’s talking to Matt? But it’s only talking. How does he know?
“What do you mean?” she says slowly, attempting to sound as sober as possible, knowing Elliott will know.
“First of all, it was noisy as hell when you picked up, secondly, I know you’re having a girls’ night out tonight, and third, you’re drunk, and don’t try to deny it because I always know. I can hear it in your voice.”
Gabby laughs. “You’re right. I’m stopping now.”
“What are you drinking?”
“Martinis.”
“Aha! Just remember, martinis are like a woman’s breasts: one is too few, three is too many.”
“I’m on two and done.”
“Who’s driving?”
“Ella. How’s the camping? How are the girls?”
“They’re having the best time. They tried going swimming in the lake with Sasha and Jolie, but it was too cold. They’re dying to get to the s’mores later. This was a great idea, even though we miss you.”
“I miss you, too,” Gabby says, out of habit, although she hasn’t thought about Elliott for a second since he left early this morning.
“And you were right to suggest I do this with Tim. Not that we wouldn’t have had a great time, but I know you feel a bit done with sleeping bags and tents.”
“Damn right,” laughs Gabby. “What time are you home tomorrow?”
“Not until midafternoon, I think. You go and have fun with the girls. I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
*   *   *
Gabby walks back inside, seeing Matt through the crowd, her stool next to him empty, and as she moves back toward the bar he turns and watches her, smiling, and she feels another jolt.
Don’t be pathetic, she thinks. Don’t think this is something other than a nice guy who’s bored and lonely, eager to have a friendly face to talk to. Not that I wouldn’t be enormously flattered if he were flirting, but look at you! Look at him, now look at you. Even if he were flirting, which he isn’t, there would be no point. I’m happily married to the loveliest man in the world. But if he is flirting, even though he’s not, it would be nice to feel attractive again. It would be nice to feel that I still have it, even if it’s only for three more minutes.
“Gabby?” Her arm is gr...

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Book Description MACMILLAN AUDIO, United States, 2014. CD-Audio. Condition: New. Unabridged. Language: English . Brand New. From Jane Green, the New York Times bestselling author of such beloved novels as Jemima J, The Beach House, Another Piece of My Heart, comes an enthralling and emotional story about how much we really understand the temptations that can threaten even the most idyllic of relationships. Gabby and Elliott have been happily married for eighteen years. They have two teenaged daughters. They have built a life together. Forty-three year old Gabby is the last person to have an affair. She can t relate to the way her friends desperately try to cling to the beauty and allure of their younger years.And yet, she too knows her youth is quickly slipping away. She could never imagine how good it would feel to have a handsome younger man show interest in her--until the night it happens. Matt makes Gabby feel sparkling, fascinating, alive--something she hasn t felt in years. What begins as a long-distance friendship soon develops into an emotional affair as Gabby discovers her limits and boundaries are not where she expects them to be. Intoxicated, Gabby has no choice but to step ever deeper into the allure of attraction and attention, never foreseeing the life-changing consequences that lie ahead. If she makes one wrong move she could lose everything--and find out what really matters most. A heartfelt and complex story, Tempting Fate will have readers gripped until they reach the very last page, and thinking about the characters long after they put the book down. Seller Inventory # AAC9781427236173

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Book Description MACMILLAN AUDIO, United States, 2014. CD-Audio. Condition: New. Unabridged. Language: English . Brand New. From Jane Green, the New York Times bestselling author of such beloved novels as Jemima J, The Beach House, Another Piece of My Heart, comes an enthralling and emotional story about how much we really understand the temptations that can threaten even the most idyllic of relationships. Gabby and Elliott have been happily married for eighteen years. They have two teenaged daughters. They have built a life together. Forty-three year old Gabby is the last person to have an affair. She can t relate to the way her friends desperately try to cling to the beauty and allure of their younger years.And yet, she too knows her youth is quickly slipping away. She could never imagine how good it would feel to have a handsome younger man show interest in her--until the night it happens. Matt makes Gabby feel sparkling, fascinating, alive--something she hasn t felt in years. What begins as a long-distance friendship soon develops into an emotional affair as Gabby discovers her limits and boundaries are not where she expects them to be. Intoxicated, Gabby has no choice but to step ever deeper into the allure of attraction and attention, never foreseeing the life-changing consequences that lie ahead. If she makes one wrong move she could lose everything--and find out what really matters most. A heartfelt and complex story, Tempting Fate will have readers gripped until they reach the very last page, and thinking about the characters long after they put the book down. Seller Inventory # AAC9781427236173

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