Awaken: A Spiral of Bliss Novel (Book Three)
Author:Lane, Nina

I thank him and slowly put the phone down. I reread the letter. Fifty thousand dollars, from the grandmother I never knew. The woman I saw once.

 

My mother was twenty-four when she took me from my father. Tall and slender, she wore long skirts and costume jewelry. She had delicate features, blue eyes, pale skin, and thick, wheat-colored hair that spilled like a waterfall down her back.

 

When we left Indiana behind, she drove a circuitous route west, as if Los Angeles were a magnet pulling her through a maze. She drove fast, without a seatbelt, windows rolled all the way down. The wind pulled at her hair. Her round sunglasses concealed her eyes. Her mouth was pearly pink and shiny.

 

Until a few hours prior, we’d been living in a two-bedroom apartment with my father. He and my mother had had a huge fight—yelling, sounds of things crashing, crying. I’d hidden in my bedroom, underneath the covers.

 

My mother woke me when it was still dark and told me to pack my suitcase, the one with the wheels and pink flowers. She dragged her own big, black suitcase from her room. I’d packed my stuffed animals and two hairbands before she returned.

 

“Not those,” she snapped. “Clothes, Liv. Underwear. Hurry.”

 

Her car was an old Chevrolet with vinyl bench seats. She hefted our suitcases into the trunk, told me to get in the backseat, and tossed a quilt over me. Then she got in the car and started to drive.

 

Hours passed. We ate fast food. Listened to Madonna, Duran Duran, Neneh Cherry. I don’t remember a lot of the places I lived with my mother, but I remember the first place we stopped was a huge, two-story house at the end of tree-lined cul-de-sac.

 

I had no idea where we were. My mother told me to wait in the car, then she walked up the driveway to the front door and rang the bell.

 

The sun was high by then, burning a hole in the sky. I got to my knees and peered out the window. A tall, elegant-looking woman with sleek blond hair answered the door. She stared at my mother, then shook her head.

 

My mother put her hand on the door like she wanted to stop it from closing. They seemed to be arguing. My mother gestured to the car.

 

The woman looked toward me. I don’t know if she saw me. She shook her head again. Closed the door so hard I heard the snap from inside the car.

 

My mother stood there for a second, then spun on her heel and stalked back down the driveway. I could tell by her tight expression, the way she slammed the car door, that she was really mad.

 

“Bitch,” she muttered. The tires squealed.

 

I buried myself under the quilt. Madonna’s voice drifted through the car.

 

Feels like home.

 

Home.

 

I can’t even remember how long it took me to realize the blonde woman was my grandmother.

 

 

 

 

 

Dean calls at our usual time tonight. He listens as I read him the letter, the words sounding dusty and dry. There’s a knot in my chest. My brain can’t stop shuffling through old, unpleasant memories. Part of me thinks I should be ecstatic—who wouldn’t want to receive an inheritance of this magnitude?—but instead I feel numb.

 

“What should I do?” I ask Dean.

 

“Be grateful,” he suggests.

 

“Why do you think she put me in her will?”

 

“Maybe she felt guilty for not being there for you.”

 

“If that was it, then I wish she’d tried to find me. I didn’t even know where she lived, much less that she remembered me. I hardly remembered her.”

 

I stare at the letter again, the evidence that my own grandmother knew I existed and yet never contacted me. Until she left me fifty thousand dollars.

 

“What should I do with the money?” I ask.

 

“Whatever you want. It’s yours.”

 

“It’s ours.”

 

“No, Liv. You do what you want with it.”

 

I wish I knew what that was.

 

After I hang up the phone and Dean’s warm, deep voice is only an echo, an unexpected wave of loneliness hits me. I reach for the phone again, then stop. I don’t want to indulge in hot talk with my husband, not when there are five thousand miles between us.

 

I want him here, with me, right now. My whole body aches with the need to feel his arms around me, to press my face against his chest and remind myself that he is my home now. He’s the only real home I’ve ever had.

 

I press a hand to my chest, picturing him stretched out on his bed in the rustic, old inn where the archeological team is housed. Dean told me his room has whitewashed walls, worn oak floors, a wrought-iron bed, and a window that overlooks a little courtyard.

 

I close my eyes and surrender to the image. I can see him lying there, his T-shirt ridden up to expose a few inches of his flat, hard stomach, his long legs stretched out on the bed. I can see his disheveled hair, his whiskered jaw, his gaze looking out the window at the Tuscan sky streaked with dawn light.