One did not simply get pleasured by two men without new lingerie.

I stopped at Ava’s, a decadent lingerie boutique in the hotel.

Soft music played from the store speakers, and the plush carpet seemed to invite me in as I strolled inside. The scent of lavender drifted into my nose, and my eyes devoured the exquisite displays of underthings.

Lace, satin, silk.

Everything called out to me.

I needed something delicious.

Something enticing.

Tonight was the kind of night that lingerie was made for.

“Hi there. Can I help you with something?” a blonde sales associate asked.

Tall with dark glasses, I couldn’t help but wonder what secrets she harbored.

Perhaps, we all tucked our most private fantasies away, putting on our faces for the outside world.

I didn’t need to share mine with a stranger, but tonight, I didn’t need to pretend I was only a straight-laced reporter.

I was a woman with desires.

With fantasies.

And I planned to own them.

“Yes, as a matter of fact you can,” I said, lifting my chin.

“Great. Tell me what you’re looking for,” she said, stepping closer.

I glanced around taking in the bold red lace, the silky blacks, and the fuchsia satins.

I turned back to her. “I need something for a special tryst.”

Her eyebrows rose and she grinned. “Ooh la la.”

“It’s with my fiancé,” I added, since I didn’t want to make it seem like I was having an affair.

“Even better,” she said.

It was my turn to grin. “We’re very much in love and very much in lust.”

“I’m not jealous. Not jealous at all,” she joked.

I smiled. “And I want something that’ll make me feel both wicked and wonderful. Because we have a fantasy we’re acting out,” I said, and holy smokes.

That felt good.

That was felt like freedom.

Like something I hadn’t even known I needed.

But it turned out I had.

I needed to be both sides of myself. To let them exist within me. Even if I didn’t reveal all my thoughts—because there was no need to of course—I didn’t need to feel ashamed of my wants.

I no longer had to war inside myself. To battle in my mind with Lily Whiting, the buttoned-up, sharp, professional reporter. Lily Whiting, the devoted fiancée and soon-to-be wife. And Lily Whiting, the sex kitten.

I was all those women.

And I was me.

And I loved it. I embraced all my sides.

I owned all of them: my brain, my heart, and my body. So I added, “And I can’t wait.”

The woman chuckled conspiratorially. “And I can’t wait for you.” She waved me over to a nearby table. “I have something in mind. I think it’ll be perfect.”

White lace.

“This may be the perfect attire,” she said and it was like she knew me.

As soon as I held it up, I knew too.

This was perfect.

It was innocent, and I was not.

I bought it and thanked her. “You were so much help,” I said as she handed me the bag.

“Thank you, but you seemed like a woman who knew her own mind.”

I smiled. “Yes, but you’ve done more for me than you realize.”

She might not ever realize she’d been the right person at the right time. A stranger. But an open-minded one, it seemed. And a stranger who I could embrace my full identity in front of.

“I hope you have a wonderful time in love and in lust.” She took a beat, lowering her voice. “And you better have a great time tonight.”

“I will,” I said, then I hurried to the bar where I found Josh Summers and Haven Delilah. As I walked in, I could tell they were obviously hot for each other.

I headed to them, picking up their conversation as he held up his hands in surrender. “To moving on.”

Haven offered him a hand to shake. “We will endeavor not to be jerks.”

I seize the conversational opportunity as I reached them, grinning, enjoying every second of tonight. This was my new mantra. No more doubt. No more self-shaming. I was going to love all sides of my life, including the chance to have fun with business associates. “Jerks? Who’s trying not to be jerks?” I asked cheerily.

Josh turned around, saying hello. Haven did the same, leaning in for an air kiss on the cheek, as was her custom.

I waved a hand in front of my face, knowing I needed to apologize for tardiness. “And I promise I won’t be a jerk either. Except I was a big one for being late, and I’m so sorry,” I said, clutching my pink-and-white shopping bag. “I’m just happy you’re still here.”

“Of course. It was only five minutes, so don’t think twice about it,” Haven said. “We were early, so we enjoyed a drink and some good conversation. Right, Josh?” Haven met his gaze.

He raised his glass. “A great conversation. Incredibly revealing.”

“Revealing,” I said, enjoying that word. Then I realized my bag was revealing. And while I was embracing all my sides, I didn’t need these two to see my new bra. “Actually, can you excuse me for just one second? I need to freshen up.”

Tags: Lauren Blakely The Gift Erotic