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

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

 

 

 

 

This book is for all the readers who love Liv and Dean West as much as I do. This is for those of you who know the courage it takes to trust your instincts and find your way. This is for the women who love being someone’s girl, and for the men who are your heroes. And this is for everyone who believes in the good things—books, a cup of tea, sexy professors, interesting travels that lead you back home, warm quilts, and perfectly imperfect love.

 

 

 

We loved with a love that was more than love.

 

—Edgar Allan Poe

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

 

March 3

 

 

ven from thousands of miles away, I can feel my husband. I feel his thoughts brushing against my skin, the beating of his heart in rhythm with mine. I feel him in the world, a powerful, unyielding presence who will forever be my source of safety and warmth. And because of that, the distance between us doesn’t seem quite so vast, and my aloneness not quite so alone.

 

Mirror Lake is beginning to wake from the hibernation of winter. Colorful, adhesive tulips, butterflies, and robins plaster the windows of the shops lining Avalon Street. The frozen surface of the lake is starting to crack, ice floes melting under the increasingly warm sun. Piles of snow still cap the surrounding mountains and line the streets of town, but the promise of spring clings to the air.

 

I put a coat on over my jeans and T-shirt and pull my long brown hair into a ponytail before heading outside. I stop at a coffeehouse to get two takeout coffees, then walk to Emerald Street and the Happy Booker bookstore. Big signs in the windows read Going Out of Business Sale.

 

I push open the door, deflecting a pang of regret. I’d offered to try and help my friend Allie Lyons save her bookstore by applying for a small business loan, but my loan application was denied, and we couldn’t bring in enough revenue to afford the raised rent on the building.

 

“Welcome to… oh, hi, Liv.” Allie straightens from a pile of books and pushes a tumble of red curls off her forehead. Twenty-seven years old and possessing an undaunted, boundless energy, Allie hasn’t let the loss of her business get her down.

 

“Morning, Allie.” I indicate that one of the coffees is for her and place the tray on the front counter. “What can I do?”

 

“I haven’t gotten to the children’s section yet,” she tells me. “The toys and stuff need to be packed up too, but let’s wait at least another week or so. Brent will be here in about half an hour with his truck to load some boxes.”

 

After taking off my coat, I head to the back of the store where the children’s section is located. The bookstore is closing for good at the end of the month, and we’ve started packing up returnable inventory and organizing sale tables and bins. I pick up an inventory sheet and get to work.

 

“Hey, Liv, there’s a bunch of freebies in the bin by the windows,” Allie calls. “I’m going to leave them outside starting tomorrow, so take what you want now. There’s something in there about medieval history that Professor Hottie might like.”

 

“Thanks.” I put a few picture books into a box and go to the bin filled with paperbacks.

 

I look through the books and set aside the one on medieval literature even though Dean probably already has it. I put a few more paperback novels in the stack.

 

“When’s he coming back?” Allie asks.

 

“Not sure yet. This phase of the job lasts until the end of July.” I try to ignore the clenching of my heart at the reminder that Dean is gone.

 

No, I remind myself. He’s not gone. He’s just away.

 

He had refused to leave, at first. It seemed as if nothing—not the dictate that he had to stay away from King’s University, not the threat to his career, not the sexual harassment accusation of a vindictive student—could force my husband to leave my side.

 

He’d spent the few weeks after the miscarriage hovering around me, desperate to do something to make it better. I soon realized that being there for me was his way of coping with the loss and his own anger, even though I held to the belief that he needed to be away from Mirror Lake. The opportunity to serve as an advisor on an archeological dig in Italy for the next six months was waiting for him, but he wouldn’t accept it, not if it meant being away from me.

 

Then one afternoon in mid-February, Dean went to King’s University to return some books. He saw Maggie Hamilton, the girl making the false harassment claim, at the library. Though they didn’t speak to each other, Frances Hunter, chairperson of the history department, came to our apartment later that day.