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.


2. Chapter 2


The sun had barely begun to rise when I left for my shift at Starbucks. Shoving my hands into my coat pockets, I walked briskly down University Avenue, eventually slowing down as the abandoned building came into view. 


I hesitated for a moment before slowly opening the door, which was barely hanging on to its hinges. For all I knew, the guy could've been an ex-convict or druggie, and yet here I was, trying to seek him out. My dad would kill me if he ever knew about this.


Glancing at my phone, I realized that I only had about ten minutes until my shift started. I turned on my heel, about to leave the building when I heard the sound of a cough coming from the back corner. 


Next thing I knew, I was face to face with the same guy from last night, but for some odd reason, I didn't feel frightened at all, even though we were the only two in the room. 


My breathing hitched at the mere sight of him--never in my life had I seen a person so skinny and pale. His clothes barely clung onto him, and he was shivering uncontrollably as he sat on the cold, hardwood floor. 


"Here, put this on," I said, shrugging out of my jacket and handing it to him. He tilted his head to the side, studying me. That's when I noticed how blue his eyes were; they reminded me of the ocean back home. 


"What about you?", he asked, his voice barely audible. 


"I'll be fine. It's not too cold out today."


When he still didn't accept the jacket, I simply tossed it onto his lap. 


"Well, I have to go to work now. I'll come check on you again after my shift is over."


He gave me a slight nod, and the sound of his coughs filled my ears as I made my way out of the building. After seeing the man up close, I deduced that he must've been somewhere in his early twenties at the latest. How he got into his current situation, I had no idea, but I was determined to find out. 


I stepped into Starbucks at exactly eight then got right to work. Like most college students, I was a total coffee addict, so working here definitely had its perks since I got discounts on the food and beverages. Every week, I brought back free bags of coffee beans for me and Alexa. She rarely ever had to buy her own coffee.


Today wasn't as busy as I'd anticipated. A couple of students just came by to grab some coffee and study, but once the cold front passed, it'd definitely get busier. 


Before leaving the shop at eleven, I bought a mocha and sandwich for the homeless man then began the familiar trek back to his building. This time when I entered through the door, everything was silent. Immediately, I started to panic--did he freeze to death?


My eyes scanned over the expanse of the room, and just like earlier, he was in the back corner. Only this time, he was lying down. I quietly walked over to him, and the sight of him fast asleep, wearing my puffer jacket, almost left me in tears. 


Careful not to wake him up, I set down the food I'd bought for him near his feet then left. Tomorrow, I'd go to see him again during one of my breaks between classes. 


Alexa was doing her makeup by the time I got back to our dorm. I always thought that she was naturally gorgeous, with her wavy dark brown hair and hazel eyes. The guys fell head over heels for her. 


I, on the other hand, was your typical blonde girl, only with brown eyes instead of blue. I'd inherited my mom's eyes. To this day, I still remembered how beautiful she was; no wonder my dad was hopelessly in love with her. 


"You didn't wear your jacket today?", Alexa asked as she applied mascara. 


"No. It wasn't too cold out."


I'm pretty sure she wouldn't understand if I told her I'd given it to a homeless guy. 


"Nice, you're finally turning into a true Minnesotan." She smiled. 


After changing into jeans and a Minnesota hoodie, Alexa and I set off for our physics lecture. On our way down the stairs, we bumped into Drew, who was with some of his teammates. 


"Hey Sophia, you got a minute?", he asked, making eye contact with me. 


"Yeah, what's up?", I said. 


"Make it quick, Drew. She literally has one minute," Alexa interjected. Drew and I both laughed. 


"Got it."


He pulled me aside then shoved his hands into his pockets as he rocked back and forth on his heels. I'd never seen a guy look this nervous before. His face was literally growing redder by the second. 


"Alexa told me you're going to the Masquerade Ball," he began. 


"Uh huh..."


"Um, if it's alright with you, I'd like to take you as my date."


A smile began to spread on my lips.


"Just a warning: I might step on your poor feet with my killer heels."


Then I turned around to leave just as Drew yelled out, "So is that a yes?"


I gave him a thumbs up and heard his "Sweet!" as I stepped outside with Alexa. 




Once my physics TA dismissed us after lab, I grabbed my stuff and practically sprinted outside to catch the campus connector. After getting off at the Dinkytown stop, I went into Target to buy a thick blanket and pack of bottled water.


"Hey, where are you going?", a guy asked when he saw me entering the abandoned building. 


"You want the truth? I'm helping somebody out," I said with a straight face. 


"OK then..."


The guy looked at me like I had three heads or something then walked away. 


"I'm back!", I called, setting down the items I'd bought. The man appeared from behind one of the walls and stood in front of me. I had to look up to see him; he was probably around 6'2". 


"May I ask what your name is?", he asked, regarding me with a cool gaze. 


"It's Sophia. Sophia Grace Weston."


"Sophia...sounds like some spoiled princess to me."


"Hey!", I exclaimed, folding my arms across my chest. He began to laugh. 


"I was kidding. I like your name. Can I call you Sophia Grace?"


Sophia Grace...


Immediately, I could feel my eyes clouding with tears, but I forced them back.


"My mom used to call me that," I said quietly. He frowned. 


"You alright there?"


"Yeah, I'm fine. What's your name?"


"Chase. Chase Lincoln."


"Wow, that's a nice name. Sounds like a movie star," I remarked. 


"I'm far from a movie star, princess," he grunted. 


We both took a seat at a table that was left behind when they closed down this restaurant. For a moment, we just sat there staring at each other, and I noticed that Chase was actually quite handsome. He just needed to gain some pounds and get a haircut.


There was so much I wanted to know about him...


The sound of his throat clearing interrupted my thoughts. 


"I suppose you want your jacket back?", he asked. 


"No, you can keep it. I'll buy a new one later this week."


"Your dad make a lot of money, I assume?"


His question completely caught me off guard. 


"Um, excuse me?"


I didn't expect this guy to be so rude!


But suddenly, his eyes grew sad, and he focused on the wall behind me. 


"You can admit it. My dad was rich, too. I loved that man to death, but he passed away a few years ago. Died from lung cancer."


"Oh my gosh...I'm so sorry." 


I only knew Chase for less than a day and already, my heart was aching for him. 


"What about you, Sophia Grace? Something tells me you've also lost someone in your life."


"My mom had a heart attack when I was ten, and it killed her." 


My eyes blurred with tears, but this time, I let them fall. 


Chase was silent, processing my words. In the past, the responses I'd always gotten from people were "I'm sorry" and "That must be awful," but quite frankly, I was tired of the pity and sympathy. Most of those people probably didn't even know what it felt like to lose your own mother. 


Every time I thought of her, I forced myself to remember her youthful, smiling face, but instead, the image of her limp, lifeless body lying in the kitchen forever dominated my memories. 


Remembering that I had company, I hastily brushed away my tears with my thumb then directed my eyes back at Chase. To be honest, I was grateful he hadn't said a single word since I told him I'd lost my mom. If I'd heard another "I'm sorry," I probably would've lost it. Because no amount of pity could ever bring her back. 


But he didn't need to say anything; the understanding look in his eyes spoke volumes. That was enough for me. 


"My mom remarried a year later," Chase spoke, drumming his fingers on the table. 


"That soon?"


He shrugged. 


"Apparently, she never even loved him. She only married him for the money."


"What did your dad do for a living?", I inquired. 


"He worked for a hedge fund as a quantitative analyst."


"Oh, he was a math genius? That's like my brother. He's great at numbers."


Chase chuckled softly. 


"Yeah, he was. Anyway, my mom got remarried to some marketing director, and since he also made a decent amount of money, she was over the moon about him. He was also trying to run for senator."


Already, I was developing a strong dislike for Chase's mom, and I'd never even met the woman. 


"You like your stepfather?", I asked. 


As soon as the question left my mouth, Chase's expression turned cold, vengeful even. And I wasn't going to lie, it sent chills down my spine. 


"My stepfather?" The word 'stepfather' sounded like acid on his lips. "My stepfather didn't give two shits about me or his wife. In the public's eyes, Joseph Callahan was a saint sent from above."


"But..." Already, I could hint at where this was going. 


"Little did they know that the fucker was an alcoholic and gambler who made his family's life hell. One time when I was in high school, I came home to a fucking freezer because he'd lost thousands of dollars at the casino and couldn't pay the heating bill. 


"When he wasn't gambling, he drank. I told myself that as long as he didn't lay a hand on me or my mom, then I didn't give a shit what he did with his life. Besides, I only had a couple years before I could move out of that house for good." 


He paused as my eyes drifted to his hands on the table, and that's when I noticed the cuts and bruises on his knuckles. I was about to ask him where they came from when he continued to speak. 


"On my eighteenth birthday, I went out to celebrate with some buddies of mine from the football team and when I came home that night, Joseph and my mom were arguing. I heard the sound of a vase breaking and rushed into the kitchen...he smashed that vase on her head, Sophia Grace. My mom's head."


"Oh my god...," my hand flew to my mouth, and I thought I was going to be sick. 


"Next thing I knew, I was trying to kill the motherfucker with my own bare hands. But you know what was twisted about the whole thing? My mom was screaming at me to stop, calling me a bunch of names a mother should never utter to her own son. I knew her love for me barely skimmed the surface, but the way she was acting..."


"Oh Chase..."


"By then, Joseph was unconscious, and you know what my mom did? She kicked me out of the house. Said that if I tried to call the police about Joseph, she'd tell them that I had tried to hurt her husband, which was bullshit. One look at her head and anyone could figure out the situation."


"Did you leave?", I managed to ask, feeling rage simmer in my veins.


He nodded his head solemnly. 


"How long ago was this?"


"Three years. I'm twenty-one now."


My eyes widened in shock. He'd been homeless for three whole years? 


"Wait, where did you end up living?", I asked. 


"Nowhere," he chuckled humorlessly. "Turns out my mom gave away all the money that my father had left me to Joseph."


"You're kidding me..."


"I wish, princess." His shoulders sagged, carrying the weight of his past. 


"What happened the past three years?"


He averted my gaze and instead focused on his hands. Before, he'd appeared calm, but his entire demeanor changed with this single question. He was fidgeting, and a look of apprehension dominated his hard features. 


"What do you think happened?", he asked quietly. 


"Did you go to college at all?"


"I barely graduated high school. My grades were shit."


Well, that definitely eliminated college as a possibility...


"You know what, I think I've scared you enough today," he spoke, sliding back from the table in his chair. Then he pointed to the things I'd bought for him at Target. "You didn't have to get me a blanket. I already have one."


"Yours is so thin, though. It barely keeps you warm," I protested. 


"Sophia Grace?"


"Yeah?" My eyes lifted to meet his. 


"How'd you know I liked mochas the best?" His tone had turned light and playful. 


"Who doesn't like mochas?"


He laughed, and for some odd reason, the sound of it caused my stomach to flutter. I'd give anything to hear him laugh all the time, especially after everything he'd been through...


Then he grew somber again. 


"I know you're trying to help me, princess, but you should focus on yourself. All this time you've been talking to me, you could've been studying or with your boyfriend or whomever you usually spend time with."


"First of all, I don't have a boyfriend. And second, I actually like talking to you."


He gave me a sad smile. 


"Your mom ever told you you're something else, Sophia Grace?"


I felt a blush beginning to creep onto my cheeks as I grabbed my backpack off the floor and stood up to leave. 


Chase remained in his chair, and when I was at the door, he spoke. 


"If you'd known what I did the past three years, I doubt you'd ever come near me again."


His words should've scared me; instead, they only heightened my curiosity. 


"Well, since I'm 'something else', you can expect to see me back here again," I said. 


His chuckle was the last thing I heard before I opened the door and stepped out into the cold. 



A/N- So, any ideas what Chase was up to the past three years? Remember to like and comment!

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