My Saving Grace

Despite losing her mother when she was ten, Sophia Grace Weston has the life most kids dream of. Growing up, she had a loving father and was always surrounded by the most privileged people, but when she enters college, a brief encounter with Chase Lincoln reveals that life isn't easy for everyone like her. In fact, life can go spiraling downwards in just the blink of an eye. And when that happens, sometimes all you can do is pray for a saving grace.

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1. Chapter 1

Why on earth did I choose to go to Minnesota for college? 

 

The question continued to ring in my head as I made the formidable trek from East Bank to West Bank, braving the bitter cold temperature and unforgiving winds. According to my iPhone, it was a bone-chilling -20 degrees today, which didn't include the windchill. 

 

When I woke up earlier this morning, I'd expected classes to be canceled, but to my utter disappointment, they weren't. After all, this was the state of Minnesota. Cold weather was as common as Santa Ana winds back home in California. 

 

Normally, I tried to catch the connector, a bus run by the university which traveled between parts of campus (did I mention how enormous this place was?). But my writing class had gotten out late, and sadly, I missed it. So here I was, left to freeze to death on my way to physics. 

 

By the time I finally made it into the lecture hall, every single part of my body was numb. Spotting my best friend, who was also my roommate, in the fifth row, I headed in her direction then proceeded to take off my jacket...followed by my puffer vest, sweatshirt, and sweater. 

 

It tended to get really warm in here, so today, I wore a thin long-sleeve underneath all my layers. The whole time, everyone looked at me like I was crazy. 

 

"You're not from around here I assume?", a blonde guy behind me asked teasingly. 

 

"Nope. I'm from San Diego," I replied. 

 

"Ah, I see." 

 

The truth was, I could've gone to any of the UC schools back home. In fact, I was accepted to both UCLA and UC Berkeley, but the main reason I applied to the University of Minnesota was because of its renowned chemical engineering program, which was my intended major. My grandma also lived in Minnesota, so I got to see her often on the weekends. 

 

I loved everything about this campus, especially getting to watch Big Ten sports. As a kid, I played soccer and was actually pretty good at it, too, but I wanted to focus on academics in college. 

 

The only downside was not having the opportunity to see my dad as much as I'd liked. We told each other everything, and he even said that if I ever needed relationship advice in college, he'd be more than welcome to help (not like any guys ever noticed me). 

 

Ever since my mom passed away eight years ago, he'd been both a mother and father to my brother and I, and true to his word, my dad hadn't remarried after losing his wife. 

 

Once, I asked him why he never thought about dating again. After all, he was still pretty young. But he told me that his sole focus in life was to raise Nick and me, and that no other woman could ever replace my mom. 

 

We ended up crying during that conversation, missing her more than ever. 

 

My father was my hero, and I loved him so much. Most men went into depression or took up drinking after going through the deaths of their spouses, but not my father. If anything, he grew even stronger and cared for us in a way not many single men could.

 

I only hoped my future husband could be at least half the man my father is. 

 

Nick, my older brother, attended UCLA and was currently studying to become an actuary. Math had always been his strong suit. Since he stayed in California for college, my father still got to see him often. I'd hate if both of us were out of state--he'd feel lonelier than ever. 

 

However, I planned on coming back to California to work after graduation. Nick and I were all my dad had left. 

 

As soon as my physics professor dimmed the lights, the entire room grew silent, and I grabbed my notebook, ready to take notes. Next to me, my best friend Alexa was texting away on her phone. Since her major was business management, she only needed to get a D in any science class of her choice. Clearly, she was on the right track. 

 

We had a midterm at the end of this week, but I still didn't understand the majority of what we were currently learning. Hopefully, my professor could further explain the concept of Gauss's Law to me during his office hour today. 

 

After lecture was over, Alexa and I caught the campus connector back to our residence hall for lunch. Our residence hall was the nicest, most modern one on campus, specifically prioritized for athletes and Greek life. I had no idea how I managed to even get a room here, but hey, I wasn't complaining. 

 

Its location made it easily accessible to all of the sporting venues and frat houses, but the only bad thing about it was its close proximity to Dinkytown--a rather sketchy part of campus, especially at night. I actually had a part-time job there, but my shift was during the day. God knows what types of people hung around Dinkytown during the late night hours. 

 

"So, have you decided if you're gonna attend the Masquerade Ball?", Alexa asked as we were eating our lunch in the dining hall. 

 

I was surprised we actually managed to find seats; students from other residence halls always came in here to eat because the food was slightly better, but let's face it, all dorm food is virtually the same and gets sickening at one point. 

 

"Yeah, I think I will. It sounds fun and ticket sales go to charity, too, right?"

 

She nodded. 

 

"We can go dress shopping Saturday morning at the Mall of America if you'd like," she offered. 

 

"Sounds great. I've never been there before," I said. 

 

"Trust me, you'll love it. It's freaking huge." She stood up to dump her plate. "Oh, and I know someone who'd love to be your date to the ball."

 

"Who?", I asked anxiously. 

 

There was this one guy I knew of in my chemistry lab, Caleb, who shamelessly flirted with me, but it was never going to work out. For one thing, the guy spent the majority of his days drinking instead of going to class, and his roommate once told me that it took him over an hour to get ready before a party. Apparently, Caleb was insecure about his body and often used shoulder pads to make his shoulders appear broader.

 

"You'll just have to wait and see," she said with a wink. "I'll see you this evening."

 

Alexa departed for her next class, and I went to our dorm room to study before my calculus lecture since I had a three hour break. Between schoolwork, club meetings, and my part-time job at Starbucks, there was no room for a relationship. Sure, I liked a couple of guys in my classes, but we were all on the same boat. They wanted to focus on academics as well. 

 

Later that night, Alexa and I hung out with some of the other students on our floor in the lounge. We were watching a hockey game when Drew, a sophomore football player, suggested we grab some calzones in Dinkytown. 

 

Not gonna lie, those calzones were the best I'd ever had in my life. 

 

"Sure, why not?", Alexa said. She turned to me. "You up for it, roomie?"

 

"Definitely." I smiled. 

 

The walk over to D.P. Dough was brutally cold, but thankfully it only took a few minutes. Drew saw me shivering and offered his jacket--such a sweet guy. Unlike ordinary people, football players probably never got cold. 

 

We spent a good hour in the shop binge-eating calzones, and at nine, I decided to head back to my dorm since I had an early shift at Starbucks tomorrow morning. Drew offered to walk me back so Alexa and the others could order more calzones. Her appetite terrified me sometimes, but she still managed to stay so slim. 

 

On the way back, we passed by an abandoned building that probably used to be a restaurant of some sort, and I didn't know if my eyes were playing tricks on me, but I swore I movement in there. 

 

Drew was walking slightly ahead of me, and when I looked into the building a second time, a scream escaped my throat as a face stared back at me through the frosted window. 

 

At the sound of my voice, the person withdrew and Drew quickly spun around, putting his hands on my shoulders. 

 

"What happened, Soph?", he asked worrriedly. 

 

"Th-there's a person hiding in there." I pointed a numb finger at the abandoned building. "He looked right at me."

 

Drew let out a rush of air, his breath visible due to the cold temperature then he steered me back in the direction of our dorm. 

 

"Probably some homeless dude trying to escape the cold," he conjected. 

 

"I wonder how long he's been in there...God, it must be freezing."

 

"Who knows? It's Dinkytown. Homeless people wander here all the time."

 

"True."

 

That night as I lay in bed, I couldn't get the haunting image of the man's face out of my head. Although I'd only seen him for a brief second, the look in his eyes wasn't hard to read...utterly helpless and desperate. 

 

And if I could change that look, I would.

 

 

A/N- Hey guys! I know I said that I'd take a break from writing, but the idea for this story just popped into my head. Sadly, I'm back in class, so I won't have time to write much. This book, like my others, will take a long time to complete. I'm still in the process of deciding whether to proceed with it or not, so let me know what you think so far!

 

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