Their eyes met across a crowded room. "You're so hot!" she said. "Why thank you!" he replied. One thing led to another, and a few hours later, the 42-year-old divorcee was waking up with one of America's best-known politicians. "You know what?" he gently whispered. "Falling in love with you could really fuck up my plans for becoming President!"
On that count, John Edwards wasn't wrong. Four years, one love-child, and thousands of column inches after their chance encounter at a New York hotel, the former Senator's mistress, Rielle Hunter, has broken her silence about the affair which ended his marriage and once-stellar political career.
In a lengthy interview with GQ magazine, Ms Hunter has given a blow-by-blow account of their relationship, describing both the "magnetic force field" that initially drew them together, and the various "errors in judgement" that Mr Edwards made after newspapers discovered that he was the father of her two-year-old daughter, Quinn.
"I know he loves me. I have never had any doubt at all about that," she said. "That hasn't changed, and I believe that will be till death do us part."
Ms Hunter hadn't previously shared her version of events. But that silence certainly wasn't prompted by shyness: in one glossy photograph accompanying the GQ piece, she lies in bed holding her daughter and exposing her midriff. In another, she sits cross-legged, wearing a white shirt and a pair of knickers.
Elsewhere in the interview, Ms Hunter reveals that she calls Mr Edwards "Johnny," that she wears size two jeans and Ugg boots, and lives in a house near the ex-Senator in North Carolina rented for $1,500 a month. She feeds their infant daughter sushi, dabbles in astrology, and wants readers to know that "I'm not a gold-digger, I'm not the stalker."
That may come as news to Mr Edwards' wife, Elizabeth, who was suffering from terminal cancer when she discovered her husband's affair.
When Mr Edwards decided to run for President, two years into their fling, Ms Hunter attempted to dissuade him. Looking back on his initial decision to deny both the affair and then paternity of Quinn, Ms Hunter said: "Most of his mistakes or errors in judgement were because of his fear of the wrath of Elizabeth ... he was emasculated."
The nature of Ms Hunter's current relationship with Mr Edwards, who recently announced that he was finally separating from Elizabeth, is left unclear.
Whatever happens, the scandal will continue to make headlines. Mr Edwards may soon face prosecution from investigators examining payments of $100,000 from his political action committee made to Ms Hunter, in a possible breach of campaign finance rules. She denies the payments were "hush money".Reuse content