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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5. Chapter 5

A ray of sunshine peeked through the crack in the window, signaling the beginning of yet another day. As my eyes adjusted to the brightness, I turned to look at Chase, who was lying perfectly still. I couldn't help the huge grin that was spreading across my face. 

 

Had we really had sex last night?

 

I lifted the blanket, and the sight of my pantyless self proved it wasn't just some dream I'd conjured up. 

 

It was crazy to think that I'd only known Chase for less than a week, but I felt like I'd known him my entire life. He was so attentive and easy to talk to. We definitely needed to go on a proper date this morning, preferably somewhere I could fill up my already growling stomach. 

 

The sound of a loud, wheezing cough interrupted my happy thoughts, and I grabbed Chase's shoulder. 

 

"Chase? Are you ok?", I asked frantically. 

 

"I-I can't breathe," he rasped, his body shaking violently as he was hit by a massive cough attack.

 

"Oh no!", I panicked.

 

"It's so c-cold." 

 

Immediately, I sat up, helping him back into his shirt and jeans and wrapped the blanket tightly around him. 

 

"I have to take you to the hospital, Chase." I felt his forehand with my palm. "God, you're burning up."

 

I quickly put my clothes on, struggling to remain calm as I grabbed my phone, thankful to see that it hadn't died overnight. 

 

With shaking fingers, I dialed an Uber and within three minutes, one showed up. 

 

Chase was too weak to walk on his own, so he had to hold on to me for support as we headed out the door. 

 

"Where to?", the driver asked. A look of worry flashed across his face when he saw Chase's sick state. 

 

"The university medical center," I replied urgently. 

 

"You got it." 

 

"God, please be ok, Chase," I prayed, holding his head in place on my shoulder as he coughed uncontrollably.

 

Five minutes later, we arrived at the hospital, and I thanked the driver before helping Chase inside. One of the attendants saw the panicked look in my eyes before glancing over at Chase then called for a stretcher. 

 

"He woke up just now and said he couldn't breathe," I explained in a rush. 

 

"I see. And who are you?"

 

"I'm Sophia, his friend. I go to school here."

 

"Ok, Sophia, we'll go have a look at him. For now, you can wait in our reception area." 

 

"Thank you."

 

As soon as I was in a chair, my phone began to ring, and a sinking feeling hit my chest when I saw who it was.

 

Alexa. 

 

"Hello?", I answered. 

 

"Where the hell are you?!", she screamed. 

 

"Alexa, I-"

 

"I was so freaking worried! You left the party last night without saying a single word to me, so I thought you'd gone back home. But I just got back from Tristan's, and everyone on our floor said they didn't see you return last night!"

 

"It's a long story, I promise I'll tell you everything when I get back." I began rubbing the back of my neck uneasily.  

 

"Where. Are. You."

 

"The hospital," I sighed. 

 

"Fuck! Are you ok?!"

 

"I'm fine. I'm here because of a friend. He's really sick."

 

"Which friend?", she demanded. 

 

"Like I said, I'll tell you everything later. See ya, Alexa."

 

I hung up before she could question me any further. 

 

A couple minutes later, the attendant came back out and gave me a sad smile. 

 

"Is he alright?", I asked, standing up. 

 

"Chase has a serious case of pneumonia. But he'll be fine. The doctor suggests he be kept here overnight though, if that's alright with you."

 

"Yeah that's fine." I breathed a sigh of relief. 

 

"Good. And also, we tried contacting Chase's health insurance provider, but it appears he has none."

 

And this was where the harsh reality came in. 

 

"Chase is homeless. He's been living in an abandoned building in Dinkytown for the past couple of weeks," I explained. 

 

The attendant blinked in surprise.

 

"Oh, that's unfortunate. No wonder he caught such severe pneumonia."

 

"I know. But concerning his medical bills, tell him that I'll pay for them, along with any medication his doctor prescribes."

 

"Would you like to tell him that in person?", she offered. 

 

"I can see him?"

 

"Of course. It's not like he's undergoing surgery." 

 

I managed to smile at her, and she led me to his room. My heart constricted at the sight of how gaunt and malnourished he looked in his hospital gown. 

 

"Chase!", I called, rushing to his side. 

 

"Hey, princess." He grinned lazily at me. 

 

"How are you feeling?", I asked, holding his hand. 

 

"I've been better."

 

We both laughed quietly. 

 

"I have to go back to my dorm soon, but I just wanted to let you know that I'll pay for all your medical bills."

 

He frowned. 

 

"Why the hell would you do that?"

 

"Because I care about you, Chase. A lot. Your mom and stepfather may not have loved you the way they should've, but I do. Please, just let me help you." 

 

"You're still drunk, aren't you?", he jested.

 

"No, I'm not. Ok, maybe I don't love you yet, but I do have strong feelings for you."

 

For a moment, his eyes brightened, but then they returned to their brooding gaze.

 

"I can't accept your offer, princess."

 

"Don't be stubborn. And you will."

 

I gave him a quick peck on the cheek then got up. 

 

"I'll be back tomorrow before my class to check up on you."

 

I provided my billing information to the nurse and bid her goodbye then left before Chase had the chance to protest any further. 

 

For the first time this week, I had hope for Chase and I. In fact, as soon as he felt better, I was going to help him pick his life back up. We could go job hunting--surely he was qualified enough to do something

 

But most importantly, he needed to stop living in that deserted building. If something even more serious were to have happened to him, I'd be devastated. With the job I had at Starbucks, I might be able to get him an apartment, at least until he had a job of his own. 

 

On the other hand, I could always just ask my dad for money. If he heard Chase's story, he might sympathize and help him out. Besides, I knew my dad; he had a heart as big as the ocean and did a ton of charity work. After my mom passed away, he'd started his own foundation that raised funds for heart disease and named it after her. 

 

Feeling more positive than I had when I'd arrived at the hospital with Chase, I began the long walk back to my residence hall. Thankfully, it had warmed up today, so I didn't have to worry about freezing my butt off. 

 

As soon as I got off the elevator on my floor, a group of students studying in the lounge turned to look at me. 

 

"Sophia! Where have you been?", Kelly asked, a girl in my physics lab. 

 

"I stayed with a friend overnight. Is Alexa in her room?"

 

"Yeah, she is. She was worried sick about you." 

 

My shoulders slumped as I began the walk of shame to my room. The door was open, and the next thing I knew, I was pulled into a massive bear hug. 

 

"Oh my god, Sophia! You're ok!", she cried. 

 

"I'm sorry I scared you." I hugged her back tightly. 

 

We both sat down on my bed, and I took a deep breath before proceeding to tell her everything. 

 

"Remember the night we went to D.P. Dough with the guys?"

 

"Yes. You left early with Drew, right?"

 

Now, the mention of Drew's name made me cringe. 

 

"I did. On our way back here, we passed by that one abandoned building next to the tattoo shop, and a person was in there. He looked at me through the window."

 

"Shit, that's creepy."

 

"I know. I thought that, too, but anyway, I ended up going to see the guy the next day."

 

"You what?!", Alexa exclaimed. 

 

"I don't know how to explain it. Like, something inside of me was saying I needed to help him."

 

At this point, she probably thought I was mental for approaching a total stranger. 

 

"Go on."

 

"I brought him some food and water and a blanket. I even gave him my jacket."

 

"Hah! I knew your jacket was missing. Why else would you have not worn it that day? You suck at being in the cold."

 

I flicked her off, and she smirked with satisfaction. 

 

"For your information, I'm dealing with the cold quite well now. But anyway, he's homeless, Alexa." My tone grew serious again. 

 

And so I told her about the conversations I had with Chase this week, which included the brutal events leading to his current position.

 

Her eyes were brimming with tears at the end, and Alexa wasn't one to cry easily. 

 

"So you were with him last night?", she asked. 

 

"Yeah...and uh, we ended up having sex," I admitted, my cheeks flushed. 

 

"Holy. Shit. Girl, your life is a lot more interesting than I thought."

 

"I can't believe it happened either. Gosh, if my dad ever found out I slept with a guy like Chase, he'd kill me."

 

"Your dad doesn't have to know. And besides, it's not like Chase wanted to be homeless. Life threw shit at him, and he made some bad decisions, but in the end, he was able to right the wrongs he did."

 

"I know. I want you to meet him, Lex, when he's out of the hospital." 

 

"Chase is the one in the hospital? What for?"

 

"We woke up this morning, and he had difficult breathing. The doctor said he caught pneumonia."

 

"Wow, that's sad. You two couldn't even cuddle or have morning sex." She sighed. 

 

I laughed and playfully punched her arm. 

 

"He's a great guy, Alexa. I like him a lot."

 

"I can tell. Is he hot?"

 

"He's got the most beautiful blue eyes. And yes, I can bet that if he gained some weight, he'd be quite a sight."

 

She smiled and pulled me into another hug. It felt so relieving to finally tell someone about Chase, and who other than my best friend? I never had a sister, so Alexa fulfilled that role for me. 

 

I asked her how her night with Tristan went, and when she asked me about Drew, I told her how he practically left me alone at that party. 

 

"Ugh, that's annoying. Don't worry, Soph, you'll find that special someone soon."

 

And I hoped that special someone was Chase Lincoln. 

 

After showering and putting on fresh clothes, we headed downstairs for breakfast. Drew was eating with his football friends, but I pretended to not see them. 

 

I spent the rest of the day studying in my dorm with Alexa, and like always, trying to do my physics homework was like teaching a pig to fly. Looks like I was going to spend yet another Tuesday and Thursday with poor Sam. 

 

That night, I went to bed early so I could get up in the morning to see Chase before my calculus lecture. My brother, Nick, called and we spoke for a few minutes before I fell asleep. 

 

By seven the next morning, I was at the hospital, ready to tell Chase the plans I had to help him. But what the nurse had to say tore my heart in two.

 

"I'm sorry, dear, but Chase left an hour ago."

 

"W-what do you mean?"

 

"He said to give this to you if you came back." 

 

"Of course he knew I was coming. I told him yesterday that I would."

 

She handed me a piece of paper, with words written in black ink. Chase's words:

 

Dear Sophia Grace, 

 

I don't know where to begin. Before I met you, I was in a deep chasm with no way out, but slowly, I'm beginning to find a purpose in life again. Thank you for being there for me when no one else was and accepting all the parts of me--good and bad...well, I don't know if there were any good parts. And about last night...I wanted to just hold on to you forever and never let go. But I have to. You have a great future ahead of you and don't need someone like me to be a part of it. You deserve someone better, a man worthy of you. I won't tell you where I've decided to go, but know that I'll always be grateful for everything you did. 

 

Love,
Chase

 

As soon as I finished reading the last word, I clutched the letter to my chest and cried as all the hope I had for us vanished into thin air. 

 
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