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Guilty Wives
Guilty Wives
Fiction/General

Hardcover
ISBN: 031609756X
$27.99/U.S.
448 pages
Little, Brown and Company

Paperback
ISBN: 1455506664
$14.99/U.S.
480 pages
Grand Central Publishing

Mass Market
ISBN: 0446571881
$10.00/U.S.
528 pages
Grand Central Publishing

No husbands allowed

Only minutes after Abbie Elliot and her three best friends step off of a private helicopter, they enter the most luxurious, sumptuous, sensually pampering hotel they have ever been to. Their lavish presidential suite overlooks Monte Carlo, and they surrender: to the sun and pool, to the sashimi and sake, to the Bruno Paillard champagne. For four days they're free to live someone else's life. As the weekend moves into pulsating discos, high-stakes casinos, and beyond, Abbie is transported to the greatest pleasure and release she has ever known.

What happened last night?

In the morning's harsh light, Abbie awakens on a yacht, surrounded by police. Something awful has happened—something impossible, unthinkable. Abbie, Winnie, Serena, and Bryah are arrested and accused of the foulest crime imaginable. And now the vacation of a lifetime becomes the fight of a lifetime—for survival. GUILTY WIVES is the ultimate indulgence, the kind of nonstop joy-ride of excess, friendship, betrayal, and danger that only James Patterson can create.

Guilty Wives
Fiction/General

Hardcover
ISBN: 031609756X
$27.99/U.S.
448 pages
Little, Brown and Company

Paperback
ISBN: 1455506664
$14.99/U.S.
480 pages
Grand Central Publishing

Mass Market
ISBN: 0446571881
$10.00/U.S.
528 pages
Grand Central Publishing

Book One | THIRTEEN MONTHS EARLIER: JUNE 2010

Chapter 4

MY HEAD WAS throbbing the next morning and I needed to melt for a while. The best beach and pool are the private ones at the Monte Carlo Beach Hotel, which is actually just over the border in France—something I knew without Bryah telling me. Bryah wasn't her normal encyclopedic self this morning, having probably even less familiarity with a night of drinking than I. We had some thoughts of shopping, seeing the royal palace, Princess Grace's grave—but first we all just wanted to chill.

We were all suffering but enjoying it at the same time. By the time we dragged ourselves to the beach club, it was almost eleven. The sun was high and brutally hot. The air was clear and dry and the sky was cloudless. The Mediterranean was an endless deep blue. The good life.

The pool at the Métropole was great, but this one was the place to be. That's what we were told, anyway, and it turned out to be true. The place was at full capacity, making it hard for us to scramble together four chairs. There were plenty of swimmers in the humongous pool, but the sides were lined with people sitting and getting their legs wet. It was like a singles bar.

"A bit knackered, are we, girls? Then nothing like a dip." Winnie slipped off her cover-up, revealing her black bikini. Two dozen men injured their necks in the process of getting a look at her. Serena, though not Winnie's equal in beauty, was even taller and still had an athlete's lithe body. Her bikini was gold. It seemed like we were under a spotlight.

Bryah kept her cover-up on—"It's not like I need a tan," she joked—consistent with her routine. We'd never talked about it. After the sprained arm, the dislocated shoulder, the broken fingers, the bruises on her forearm or thigh or back—somewhere in there it stopped being a coincidence, ceased being clumsiness. It wasn't a regular thing, which meant that her husband, Colton, wasn't a serial abuser. He was just a small, spiteful brute. And it was never Bryah's face. Always a part of her body she could cover up. Which meant Colton was cautious. That, for some reason, made me despise him all the more.

I'd wanted to say something to Bryah so many times, but the three of us made a decision not to: she knew we loved her, that we'd do anything for her. If she wanted to talk, she would.

"Well?" Winnie looked back at us. She fingered the clasp on her bikini top. "When in Monte Carlo?"

Most of the people at the pool were topless. I would not be one of them; a red bikini underneath my cover-up was as racy as I got.

"When in Monte Carlo," said Serena. She was still intoxicated by her performance at the casino last night. It wasn't about the money per se; it was about her competitive nature. She'd turned her last bet of five thousand euros into a payout of 175,000 euros, putting her up 75,000 for the night. That's over 100,000 U.S. dollars, if you're keeping score.

Serena went first, removing her top. Winnie quickly followed. They covered themselves in suntan lotion, with extra for their headlights, and sauntered over to the pool to dip their toes in.

"I hate them," I told Bryah. A waiter appeared out of nowhere. I ordered bottles of water, Champagne cocktails, and fruit plates for each of us.

Bryah settled in, donning fashionable shades and stretching her limbs in ecstasy. She really seemed to be unwinding. Serena and Winnie were making out okay, too. About a dozen men surrounded them within seconds of their approach to the pool. They were the flirtatious ones in our crew.

Sometimes it was more than flirtation. Serena hadn't been faithful to Simon. The marriage had grown loveless, and sexless, years ago. Simon was good to her, by which I mean he provided for her, but that wasn't really Serena's style. Serena craved excitement, adrenaline, and there were only so many times she could jump out of an airplane or race a Formula One car around a track. She wanted passion in her love life. So, on two different occasions over the last five years, she'd found it with another man. And she'd been remorseful both times. She even suspected that Simon knew. My theory: She wanted Simon to know. She wanted him to fight for her. She wanted him to want her.

Now, it seemed, all she had was Katie Mei, the child she had adopted from China after two near-term miscarriages had ended her appetite for pregnancy. Katie was everything to her.

And Winnie? She was married to James Bond. Christien had been with British intelligence for years before taking a desk job with the British Embassy in Bern. Christien was handsome and mysterious. Just Winnie's type. They were two drop-dead-gorgeous people with two drop-dead-gorgeous children. But something was off with them. It was hard to pinpoint it. And Winnie wasn't one to complain. It was just the way she talked about Christien, the absence of enthusiasm. Winnie doted on her kids and threw herself into her charity work, raising money and advocating on behalf of autistic children, honoring her autistic brother, Winston. (That's right, Winston and Winnie. Her parents had a sense of humor. Having these two kids, they always said, was a Win-Win situation.)

"If you're a woman anywhere at this pool right now, you hate Win and Serena," Bryah said with a chuckle. She was probably right. Almost every head was turned in their direction, and, look, this wasn't exactly a pool full of homely people. Most of the women here were more done-up than the women at the casino, and at least half of them had improved a body part or two with surgery.

Drinks arrived, and I started on the Champagne. Why not? I was on vacation. I didn't miss Jeffrey, I had to admit. I missed my kids, but I would have missed them in Bern, too. Richie and Elena were in boarding school in Connecticut, the same school Jeffrey attended as a child. I'd objected but lost the argument. I usually did, which was hard for me to admit. It was one thing for the kids to be in Connecticut when we were at Georgetown—Lakeville was about six hours by car, ninety minutes by plane—but quite another when we were in Switzerland. But I couldn't ask Jeffrey to turn down this position at the U.S. Embassy, and I couldn't ask my kids to pick up and leave the only school they knew, a school where they were happy.

"Enough," I said to myself. "I'm on vacation." I finished my Champagne and decided to drink Winnie's, too. One of her poolside suitors had already bought her one.

"Let's jump in," said Bryah. "Want to?"

I looked at her and smiled. What was I waiting for? And why? Jeffrey? He was probably with his girlfriend at this moment.

"That sounds perfect," I said.

Copyright © 2012 by James Patterson

Guilty Wives
Fiction/General
Audiobook (Unabridged CD)
ISBN: 1607884682
$34.98/U.S.
Hachette Audio
Read by January LaVoy

January LaVoy is a New York-based voice, stage, and television actress. She has performed on and Off-Broadway, and appeared extensively in regional theaters across the country. She is best known for her role as Noelle Ortiz on the long-running ABC daytime drama, One Life to Live.

Guilty Wives
Fiction/General

Hardcover
ISBN: 031609756X
$27.99/U.S.
448 pages
Little, Brown and Company

Paperback
ISBN: 1455506664
$14.99/U.S.
480 pages
Grand Central Publishing

Mass Market
ISBN: 0446571881
$10.00/U.S.
528 pages
Grand Central Publishing

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