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

Still scares me sometimes. How much I love her. All this stuff about her needing me, relying on me, depending on me… when I’m the one who can’t take his next breath without her.

 

I fantasize about her to get off every night, but haven’t told her what I think about during the day. All the things that make Olivia Rose Winter Liv—the way she arranges the cereal boxes in alphabetical order, always stops to pet dogs on the street, hums when she waters her houseplants, and gets emotional over sappy commercials.

 

And I think about the secret parts of her that no one knows about but me. The soft crease at the back of her knees. The curve of her collarbone. The crevice beneath her breasts. The small of her back where my hand fits perfectly. The ridges of her spine. The beauty mark beneath her left shoulder blade.

 

Mine. She’s mine.

 

The possessiveness that grabbed me the instant I saw her is fathoms deep. It’s in my bones, my blood. It will never go away. And I don’t know what to do with my suspicion that it’s part of the problem.

 

I push away from the desk and go back outside. After more work and planning for the next day, I get some dinner and go to bed early. I’m always up before dawn to talk to Liv, and it’s still dark the next morning when I call her.

 

“Hi.” Her voice is slightly breathless against my ear. “I’m excited.”

 

“So am I.” I shift the phone to rub my cock, which is still half-hard from a hot dream. “Let’s talk about our excitement.”

 

“I mean, I’m excited because I got a job,” Liv says in amusement. “You know that French bakery down on Dandelion Street? I applied for a position working at the front counter, and I got a call this afternoon that they want me to start tomorrow.”

 

The pride in her voice makes me downright happy. “That’s great, Liv. I knew you’d find something soon.”

 

“It’s not what I want to do forever, of course, but it’ll be a good temporary job.”

 

“How many hours are you working?”

 

Liv gives me the rundown about her hours and new schedule, then tells me about the upcoming exhibition at the Historical Museum.

 

It’s my favorite time of day—lying on the bed in my rustic hotel room, dawn breaking outside the window, listening to my wife’s voice like music in my ear.

 

“Dean?”

 

“I’m here.”

 

“I also… um, I saw Dr. Gale today.”

 

Tension claws my shoulders at her mention of the counselor who brought up the whole “sex is a problem” bullshit.

 

“Yeah?” I manage to keep my voice even. “What did she have to say?”

 

“Well, I’ve seen her a couple of times, but ultimately she just verified what I already knew.”

 

“Which is?”

 

“That I wanted our baby.”

 

My heart constricts. “I know you did.”

 

“Have you thought about it at all? About trying again someday?”

 

“Some.” I stare out the window, where the sky is still pallid and gray from the night. “Scares the crap out of me.”

 

“Me too, but I was anticipating it, you know?” Liv says. “And I think I want it more than I’m afraid of it.”

 

Silence falls between us. I can’t look at the black possibility of what could happen to Liv if she got pregnant again. Yet the rational, researcher part of my brain knows that I was getting used to the idea of having a baby. That I’d started preparing for fatherhood.

 

And the pieces were falling into place because I was with Liv, the woman who stole my heart and my breath with one look. The woman I didn’t even know I was looking for until I found her.

 

I tighten my grip on the phone. “What if—”

 

“I know, but what if you hadn’t been at the UW registrar’s office that day?” Liv asks. “The very same minute I was? What if you hadn’t decided to speak to me?”

 

The darkness of that thought, of what might not have been, lodges between us.

 

“What if I hadn’t had a job at Jitter Beans?” Liv continues. “What if you hadn’t come in that morning? What if someone else had been working at the counter? We might not be together now.”

 

“Liv…”

 

“Dean, how many things in the universe had to fit together for us to have met, let alone fallen in love?” Liv asks. “And how many of those things changed our lives forever?”

 

“Every one.”

 

“Exactly. For the better. Sometimes what if reminds you of what is.”

 

I don’t know what to say. I can’t tell her I want to try again because I don’t know if I do. I don’t think I could stand the fear and uncertainty again. Not when it involves Liv.

 

“Dean, I’m just saying I want us to think about it more,” she says gently. “Okay?”

 

“Okay. I can do that.”

 

“I know you can, professor.”

 

You can’t control everything, Dean. Her voice echoes in my head again.

 

But I know there are still some things I can control. How I think. How well I make and follow a plan. Every facet of my research. How hard I work to get what I want.

 

And what I want most has everything to do with my wife.

 

“Now tell me something research-y and esoteric,” Liv says. “You know I love it when you use your big, academic… words.”

 

“Careful,” I warn her. “I’m battling all sorts of erotic longing over here.”

 

“Me too.”