March 29, 2004 10:00 AM

Former “Baywatch” actor Michael Bergin is in full media-blitz mode this week with his new book, in which he details a long-term affair with John F. Kennedy Jr.’s wife, Carolyn Bessette.

Starting with an A&E special due to air Monday night, Bergin talks about his relationship with Bessette, which began before JFK Jr. first started pursuing her. Bessette and Bergin’s relationship soon faded, as she eventually married Kennedy in 1996. But in the years between their marriage and the fateful plane crash that claimed the lives of Kennedy, Bessette and her sister, Lauren, on July 16, 1999, it never completely went away, Bergin says in his book, “The Other Man — A Love Story: John F. Kennedy Jr., Carolyn Bessette and Me,” which hits shelves on Tuesday.

In it, Bergin talks about his relationship with Bessette when the two first met at Calvin Klein, where he was an underwear model and she was a publicist. Bergin eventually landed the role of Jack “J.D.” Darius on “Baywatch.”

Bergin says he first heard about Bessette’s relationship with Kennedy on the TV news show “Current Affair.”

“They showed um, pictures of Carolyn and John on his boat in Martha’s Vineyard,” Bergin says. “He was putting her shorts on, it looked like she was in her underwear and he was putting her shorts on. It’s not a pretty sight for me to see.”

Bergin says that he tried to go on with his life after Bessette and Kennedy were married, but their relationship took off again when Bessette visited him for 11 days at his apartment in Los Angeles while Kennedy was away on a kayaking trip.

“It seemed like there was no one else in my life, which there wasn’t,” Bergin says, “and there was no one else in her life. It just seemed like it was old times. Like we were — we were together again.”

Their affair lasted a couple months, during which Bessette said that she suspected Kennedy of cheating on her as well. Later in 1998 the couple got together again, and it would be the last time Bergin saw Bessette alive.

Although he was invited to the memorial service after Kennedy’s plane was found off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, he stayed away because he says he did not know what his role was. “I didn’t know how I would fit in,” he says.

Instead, he followed a Hawaiian tradition in which he paddled as far out into the ocean at sunset as he could, peeled the flower petals off of a lei and prayed.

“That’s what I did,” a choked-up Bergin tells A&E. “I never really got a chance to say goodbye, he adds. “I just blocked so much of it out of me.”

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