Even after years of trauma therapy, Peyton still believes she’s broken. She has little desire to date or show off her natural beauty, content simply to hang out with her best friends and run her pie shop in New Orleans. But her world turns upside-down when a handsome architect and self-confessed player shows up in her shop and thinks she’s perfect, much more than the usual hook-up. While Peyton does her best to resist his charms, believing she could never be enough for him, she can’t deny the obvious heat between them.
With Reed determined to have her, Peyton must decide whether to continue to hide behind her apron and baggy clothes or take a chance and share her scars with Reed, a man with a playboy reputation and scars of his own — a dark past he can’t possibly share with Peyton, not after learning the horrors she’s endured. But if they can find a way to trust each other, and themselves, they just might be able to heal, to save each other, to live perfectly broken together.
Dr. Lorraine closed the chart again. “Listen up!” she barked, startling her young patient. “I know the game you play. Reed doesn’t, so he left not realizing this is what you do. Someone gets close to you, or you open up a little bit, and then you get scared, hide, look for a reason to push them away.” Peyton’s eyes began to tear, and Dr. Lorraine handed her another tissue. “The scared girl laying on the dirty ground helpless after losing her innocence.”
“Sometimes it’s better to push people away, so you don’t hurt them,” Peyton said, “and they don’t hurt you.”
Peyton shook her head. “I’m never going to be whole again.”
“That’s bullshit, too. I won’t have talk like that, Miss Peyton. I just won’t have it.” Dr. Lorraine cocked her head to the side. “It’s time for a change in direction -- a serious change of direction. This is what we are going to do. You made a lot of progress with Reed – lots of good oral and other stuff. But now you’ve cut him off, and I see you backsliding. I don’t like to see it. I won’t allow it.” She stroked her chin then cracked her knuckles in preparation for some great declaration. “I’m prescribing a little retail therapy.”
“What?” Peyton cried.
“Yes, that’s what I’m prescribing. You get that friend of yours, Quinn, and hit the shops – Canal Place, Magazine Street, St. Charles Avenue, wherever,” Dr. Lorraine ordered, her whole body bouncing. “I don’t want to see you in those sad, baggy ass clothes anymore. Just looking at them, they mess with my head, and they screw up my whole day. You ever think about how they make me feel?”
“No,” Peyton said with a laugh.
“Makes me sad. I hate them. So I want new shoes, clothes, athletic wear, undergarments! Everything new. Got it?”
“How is this therapy?”
“Honey, you’re hiding again. You’ve flipped your sex switch back to off, and I’m not about to let it hibernate in some frozen tundra again for years. We’ve worked too damn hard. You need to get in touch with your sexuality without a man helping you do it. You have to do it. And clothes are the perfect place to start.”
Peyton shrugged. “I don’t feel like it.”
“You don’t feel like it? Tough shit! I didn’t feel like getting my pap smear last week, but I did.”
Peyton smiled. “It just seems like a waste of time and money.”
“Well, if you don’t want to do it through clothes, I can prescribe something else. Maybe a pole dancing class?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Or daily masturbation?”
Peyton rolled her eyes. “Fine, I’ll get the clothes.”
“Good,” Dr. Lorraine said, writing in Peyton’s chart, as if filling out a prescription to take to the drugstore. “Among other things, I want you to get some power panties.”
“Power panties?” Has she been talking to Bret?
“Sexy underwear,” Dr. Lorraine said, still writing. “They can make a woman feel very powerful.” She put down her pen and looked at Peyton. “When a man wants to be taken seriously, he usually wears a red tie. Ever notice that in presidential debates? Lots of red ties. Red is the color of power.” Dr. Lorraine waved her hand and snapped her fingers. “So get yourself some red panties, girl! Take back your power! Do it for yourself!” She handed Peyton her prescription.
“I didn’t realize my power was in my underwear.”
Prescott Lane is originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, and graduated from Centenary College in 1997 with a degree in sociology. She went on to Tulane University to receive her MSW in 1998, after which she worked with developmentally delayed and disabled children. She currently resides in New Orleans with her husband and two children.