June 18, 2012— -- Rielle Hunter was John Edwards' last mistress, but not his first or only one, she claims in a revealing tell-all memoir obtained by ABC News.
In the bombshell book, "What Really Happened" set to hit stores on June 26, Hunter reveals that Edwards, a two-time presidential candidate, had affairs with at least two other women dating back 20 years, and did not reveal the truth about his former relationships until 2011, two years after Hunter appeared before a grand jury.
The release of the book, which she wrote in an effort to explain her relationship with Edwards to their daughter, coincides with an exclusive interview with ABC's Chris Cuomo, which will air this Friday, June 22.
"There's never been a more aptly named book," said Cuomo. "It is quite possible that after reading this book people will question prior judgments they had about Rielle Hunter."
Tune in to "20/20" Friday for an Exclusive Interview With Rielle Hunter.
Ironically, when Edwards first met Hunter in 2006 he lied to her about having more mistresses -- not fewer -- and only revealed the truth about his relationships years later, when he was set to be tried for using donations from wealthy political supporters to cover up his illicit affair and the daughter he had with Hunter.
Edwards last month was acquitted on one count of violating campaign finance rules and a federal judge declared a mistrial on five other criminal counts after the jury came back deadlocked. The Justice Department will not retry the case.
In the book, Hunter is vague about the current status of her relationship with Edwards, but suggests that they remain romantically involved and he is a presence in daughter Frances Quinn Hunter's life.
In the upcoming "20/20" interview, Hunter will reveal the current status of her relationship with Edwards.
"I really have no idea what will happen with us. The jury is still out. But I can honestly say that the ending is of no concern to me anymore. The love is here. And as sappy as it may sound, I love living in love," she writes.
Hunter says she was driven to write the book because she wants daughter Frances Quinn to "have one entirely truthful public account of how she came into the world. After all, this is her story too."
The book is a primer on the life of a political mistress -- long waits in hotel bars and furtive dinners over take-out, punctuated by short passionate trysts and the anxiety of being hounded by the paparazzi.
It is additionally both a full throated defense of Edwards' innocence and at times a screed against Edwards' wife Elizabeth, whom Hunter routinely describes as "crazy" and blames for driving Edwards into the arms of other women.
Hunter and Edwards met on Feb. 21, 2006, at the New York Regency Hotel. She approached the former senator with the come-on, "You are so hot," and moments later he called to invite her up to his room.
On that first night, Edwards, then mulling a second run for the White House, told Hunter he was currently sexually involved with three other women simultaneously, and had mistresses in Chicago, Los Angeles and Florida.
Throughout the first weeks of their relationship, Edwards would reference these women, even detailing trips to meet and break up with them.
But all three women, Edwards later confessed to Hunter, were completely fabricated. Made up, he said, so Hunter and other former mistresses, to whom he had told the same story, would not become too attached.
"Johnny went on to tell me that the three women he had told me about the first night I had met him were, in fact, not real and that he had made them up... My mind was racing... He had told me detail upon detail. I remembered the ups and downs of emotion I had felt the night he went to Chicago to break off his relationship there," she writes. "My reality in our relationship had been ripped out from under me."
When Hunter asked about a secondary cell phone Edwards owned in the first months of their relationship, and on which he received calls, he said, from his other mistresses, Edwards admitted the phone was a gift from his "second ex-mistress."
Edwards, she said, confessed to having additional affairs before 2004, but led her to believe she was his last conquest.
Tune in to "20/20" Friday for an Exclusive Interview With Rielle Hunter.
After learning that Edwards had lied to her throughout the entire length of their relationship, she writes that "[I] beat myself up with mean thoughts followed by awful feelings."
Ultimately, however, she shrugs off the deception, concluding "Johnny didn't do anything out of character. He has a long history of lying about one thing only -- women -- and I mistakenly thought I was different."
Hunter may be vague about the status of her current relationship with Edwards in the book, but she makes abundantly clear her sympathy as well as her disdain for the actions of his wife Elizabeth, who died in 2010.
Hunter depicts Elizabeth Edwards as woman routinely angry at Edwards, who constantly "barks" demands at her husband, summarily fires staffers and vigilantly works to maintain a public persona as a "saint," when Hunter implies she is a "witch on wheels."
Following their first encounter, Edwards hired Hunter, then working as a life coach, as a videographer to join his campaign in its first few months. Hunter travelled extensively with Edwards including on a trip to Uganda, where at his request she filmed a video of the couple having sex.
When staffers became suspicious of the affair, Hunter left the campaign and their trysts became increasingly furtive, meeting under assumed names in various hotels.
On Dec. 31. 2006, Elizabeth uncovered the truth, calling Hunter from what she calls Edwards' "other woman" phone, a secondary cell he used to call Hunter and possibly other mistresses.
"Hey, baby," Hunter answered assuming it was Edwards. Elizabeth simply hung up.
Elizabeth, Hunter writes, repeatedly called her "for the next two days at all hours of the day and night from various numbers" in an attempt to intimidate her.
Edwards was also subjected to Elizabeth's wrath as she "physically attack[ed] him during all the screaming."
Hunter has little sympathy for Elizabeth's behavior. She writes that Edwards' wife of three decades, with whom he suffered the death of their oldest son Wade, "was bonkers because she had been in denial" about his cheating.
She describes Elizabeth as "crazy," and a "venomous" "witch on wheels" who is given to fits of "rage."
In July 2007, Hunter learns she is pregnant and reveals her pregnancy one week later to Edwards and his aide Andrew Young.
Young and his wife Cheri had taken on the role of keeping Hunter hidden from his increasingly suspicious wife and the even more suspicious tabloid the National Enquirer.
News of Hunter's pregnancy resulted in a bizarre arrangement in which Hunter lived with the Youngs and their small children, travelling across the country and ultimately settling in to a mansion in Santa Barbara, Calif.
When still in North Carolina, a pregnant Hunter was photographed by the Enquirer in a supermarket parking lot, leading to one of the strangest twists in the story -- Andrew Young claimed paternity of her unborn child.
She claims it was Young's decision, but that Edwards quickly went along with it.
"Of all the things that happened in my relationship with Johnny the thing that I regret the most is going along with this stupid idea and allowing this lie to go public," she writes.
But Hunter didn't just allow it to go public; she was complicit, even giving a statement to the Enquirer explicitly claiming Young was the father.
Strangely, even after Young claimed paternity, Hunter continued to live with him and his wife in a "big beige" house so large, she had her own wing. She was also provided with a BMW.
According to Hunter, she arranged with Young early on to receive $5,000 a month in cash to pay for travel and expenses to visit Edwards around the country.
Over time, Hunter says, Young began receiving money from Edwards' wealthy political backer Fred Baron. Baron, she claims, was giving money to support her and her baby Frances Quinn out of the goodness of his heart and not to further Edwards' political career.
Baron gave Young some $325,000, Hunter writes, more than enough needed to support Hunter and the Youngs.
Meanwhile, Young had also received more than $700,000 from another wealthy Edwards' supporter, the elderly Virginia heiress Bunny Mellon. At trial, Edwards' attorneys claimed the candidate knew nothing of those transactions and they he never ordered Young to solicit money from her.
Hunter backs up Edwards' claim, writing: "Countless press reports year after year said Bunny's money paid for my expenses, yet not one report stated that Andrew double dipped and Fred actually paid for everything. I have stood in the kitchen of my little rental house and screamed in frustration more that once: 'Where is my million dollars? You are going to send Johnny to jail for money that I never even got? That he supposedly solicited for me?'"
Young would later attempt to sell the sex tape Hunter and Edwards made in Africa, and which he discovered while she shared a home with the Youngs. Young also became the government's star witness in the prosecution of Edwards. He was granted immunity from prosecution and kept much of the money he received from Mellon.
For months after Frances Quinn was born, Edwards denied he was her father even claiming publically he was willing to take a paternity test but refusing at every turn to sign any sort of legal document attesting to the same.
In an August 2008 interview with ABC News, he confessed to the affair but still denied Quinn was his daughter.
Hunter has an explanation for his denial: he was "temporarily insane" and in "needed serious mental help."
"He was temporarily insane [during the interview]... Think about it: Sane healthy people do not deny their children, especially on national TV, simply because they are afraid of their abusive spouse's reaction. Only a mentally off person would do that."Tune in to "20/20" Friday for an Exclusive Interview With Rielle Hunter.