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

“Here, these are your size.” Sophia takes a few hiphuggers off the rack and hands them to me. “They’re sexy, flirty, and comfortable. Go try them on and let me know what you think. Would you like the matching bras too?”

 

I start to decline, but then figure I might as well try them on. Sophia gives me a pair of nylon panties to put on underneath and, with an armful of silky lingerie, I head to the dressing room.

 

After stripping down and putting on the nylon panties, I pull on a pair of lace-trimmed, floral hiphuggers and the matching push-up bra. I turn to look at myself in the mirror.

 

Well, damn.

 

I’ve never been thin and willowy, but… wow. My curves are a good thing. The bra pushes my breasts up into a bountiful cleavage that complements my tapered waist, and the panties look both pretty and sexy stretched around my hips and rear end.

 

After examining myself from all angles, I do a few squats and stretches to make sure the panties don’t ride up.

 

“How do those feel?” Sophia calls from outside the room. “Would you like to try on the boy shorts too?”

 

“Sure.”

 

“We also have baby dolls and cami sets on sale. They’re very comfortable. Shall I bring you a few?”

 

“Why not?”

 

I spend the next two hours trying on more bras, as well as silk slips, teddies, and camisoles with matching shorts or little skirts.

 

By the time I leave the store, I have a bag filled with three hiphuggers and matching bras (on sale, three for the price of two), and three pairs of boy shorts and matching bras (on sale, twenty-five percent off), plus a camisole top and shorts, two halter-style nighties with a matching robe, and three fitted lace slips. Though the splurge cost almost my entire paycheck, New Liv is off to a good start.

 

As I walk home, a rush of excitement goes through me as I think about Dean’s reaction when he sees me in the lacy bra and panties. And I wonder why I’ve never bothered buying pretty lingerie before, even for his sake.

 

The answer comes without any thought. Because he’s always loved me exactly the way I am. Cotton briefs, plain white bras and all. Never once has my husband wanted me to be different from what and who I am.

 

Just the opposite, in fact. He’s never wanted me to change.

 

But I have changed. I’m a different person than I was six months ago. Hell, one month ago. No, I still haven’t figured out what I want to do, or how to put to use all the things I’m good at, and maybe I’m still not all that confident about my abilities—

 

“You’re such a mouse, Liv.”

 

Kelsey’s voice in my head stops my self-defeating train of thought.

 

Before Dean left, I told him that I desperately wanted to find a way to prove myself to myself. To be self-reliant and find my own path.

 

I know I can do it.

 

I’m smart. Dedicated. Loyal. Organized. I always carry an extra pen. I’m hardworking. Reliable. I know how to get stuff done. I’ve made mistakes and learned from them. I’m a good student. I’ve been knocked down and gotten back up.

 

A mouse?

 

Fuck that.

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER TWO

 

 

 

 

 

Dean

 

 

 

 

March 8

 

 

 

 

ean, we have a problem.”

 

“I don’t like problems, Frances. I like solutions.”

 

“Okay, perhaps it’s not a problem yet. More like a wrinkle.”

 

“Don’t like wrinkles either.”

 

I grip the phone with one hand and shield my eyes from the sun with the other. The dig trenches are organized into a grid and sectioned off with string, the fa?ade of the eleventh-century church and perimeter walls rising from the ground like dinosaurs.

 

“If you don’t like wrinkles, then you really won’t like this,” Frances warns me.

 

“What?” Irritation scrapes at my insides.

 

“Edward Hamilton is considering a large donation to King’s to fund a new law school building.”

 

“Oh, for fuck’s sake.” If I weren’t so frustrated, I’d laugh. Maggie Hamilton’s father has carried on his family’s legacy of big alumni donations to King’s, and he’s going to dangle this possibility in front of the board like a damned carrot until they do what he wants.

 

And what he wants is for them to fire me.

 

“Why doesn’t the board of trustees just bend over for him?” I ask Frances.

 

“Dean, he’s considering the donation at this point. He hasn’t committed.”

 

“He’ll commit once he sees me out on my ass.” I inhale and focus on the excavation site again.

 

Archeologists, volunteers, and students are scattered throughout the trenches, digging for artifacts and recording finds. The hills of Tuscany roll around the site like giants sleeping under green blankets.

 

“What do I do?” I ask Frances, both expecting and dreading her answer.

 

“Nothing,” she replies.

 

“I can’t do nothing,” I snap. “I’m sick of doing nothing.”

 

“Nothing with regard to the investigation, Dean,” she clarifies. “Going on that dig was the best thing you could have done. I’ve been reading your reports, your podcasts are brilliant, and the board of trustees has sent out a press release about the IHR grant and your contributions to the dig. Your job is to keep doing exactly what you’re doing.”