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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8. Chapter 8

"Damn, sis, you've got a nice place," Nick commented, taking a swig of beer as his eyes roamed over my living space. 

 

"Thanks. Dad helped me find it."

 

This was my third day in my apartment, and already, I was in love with it. The town I lived in was called Northridge, located fifteen miles away from my workplace. The majority of apartments here were upscale with beautiful landscaping, but more importantly, it was a very safe neighborhood. 

 

For the first time in my life, I was living alone, and it gave me a sense of true independence. With this also came my dad's immediate decision to install a security system in my apartment, which I'd automatically agreed to. However, I did not agree to him wanting to pay for the first six months of my rent. 

 

"You haven't allowed me to handle any of your finances for you, sweetie, not even your student loans and living expenses in college. Just let me do this for you, at least until you're settled into your new job," he'd said one night during dinner. 

 

"Dad, you bought me a brand new Jeep on my 18th birthday; that's more than enough. Trust me, I wouldn't have chosen this apartment if I couldn't afford it. My job will pay me a lot, you know that."

 

"I know." He sighed before continuing, a nostalgic look on his face. "You're just like your mother, you know that? Strong and independent."

 

Ever since my father told me the complete story of how he and my mom had first gotten married for business purposes, I'd become even more reverent of my mother, and every day, I strived to be half the woman she was. 

 

Nick was making himself comfortable on the leather couch, stretching out his long legs on the coffee table. He'd stopped by on his way home from work to visit me; we lived about half an hour away from each other. 

 

Every time I saw him, he always appeared so weary and exhausted--Orange County traffic did that to you. Some days, it took him nearly an hour and a half just to drive home from his office in downtown LA. 

 

Growing up in San Diego, driving was a breeze. Traffic was never too bad, not even during rush hour. But LA was a completely different story. People drove insanely fast and car accidents were a common sight. 

 

I'd always considered myself a calm driver, but after moving back to California, I began developing road rage, especially on the freeway, and it was sad to think about. My nice personality was officially ruined. 

 

Nick and I ordered a pizza for dinner, and after he left, I drove down to LA to buy a painting for my bedroom wall.  A friend of mine from high school had recommended a store on Sunset Blvd. that sold elegant furniture for reasonable prices. 

 

Thankfully, the traffic had died down since it was nearly eight, so it only took me forty minutes to get there as opposed to sixty. I spent a good hour in the store before deciding on a painting of ocean waves crashing into the cliffs. It reminded me of my mom because when she was alive, she loved going to places like La Jolla and Sunset Cliffs. 

 

"That's one of our best-selling paintings," the sales associate said to me after I'd paid. 

 

"I can see why. It's very beautiful."

 

"It is. Have a wonderful night."

 

"You, too." I smiled. 

 

Outside, the city was buzzing with excitement. People wined and dined on the restaurant patios and bright lights illuminated every shop. There was a slight breeze ruffling the palm trees, and back then, I would've thought it felt chilly, but after spending four years in Minnesota, I was immune to the cold. 

 

I spotted a Ralphs down the street and decided to head there for some late night grocery shopping. My fridge wasn't lacking anything, but some junk food wouldn't hurt. The store was pretty much empty except for a couple of customers. 

 

Wandering through the aisles, I picked out a bag of chips and dip and some candy. It was crazy to think that just a few months ago, Alexa and I had gone late night shopping for junk food at the Target by our apartment. Now we were on opposite sides of the country. 

 

God, I missed her.

 

In that moment, I craved Kraft mac and cheese. We used to always eat that stuff back in college. It was Alexa's favorite. 

 

I headed to aisle 5 and to my surprise, there was only a single box remaining. Just as I was about to grab it off of the top shelf, a tan arm reached above me and took it. 

 

"Hey!", I exclaimed. 

 

"Excuse me?", a deep male voice spoke. 

 

I spun around to face the person guilty of stealing my mac and cheese, and immediately, the frown on my face was replaced with a look of pure astonishment. 

 

"Something wrong, miss?", the stranger asked. 

 

In my twenty-two years on this earth, I'd never had a man knock me off of my feet until now. He was so beautiful and exotic, it made me pity my own looks. For a moment, I just stood there, letting my gaze roam over his chocolate brown eyes and chiseled jawline. The fine lines around his nose and mouth led me to guess that he was probably in his early thirties. 

 

My mom used to say that I could tell a lot about a person by looking at their eyes. After a closer inspection, I noticed the bags underneath his heavy eyes. In fact, his entire face was hardened with an emotion I couldn't quite pinpoint, making him appear even more mature. 

 

Slowly, my eyes drifted down to the box in his hand, and that's when I snapped out of my thoughts, refocusing on my mission. 

 

"That's my mac and cheese," I declared, pointing to the box. 

 

"Then why is it in my hand?" 

 

"I was about to grab it, but you took it from me!" 

 

Whoa, no need to raise your voice, Sophia. 

 

He knitted his brows together, a faint scowl forming on his lips. 

 

"If I remember correctly, I grabbed it off of the shelf, not from you."

 

"You know what, you're right. I'm sorry. It's just that I really wanted the original kind." 

 

He simply stared at me then dropped his mac and cheese into my basket, grabbing the SpongeBob-shaped mac and cheese box from the shelf for himself. For some reason, the simple gesture made me feel all warm inside, as if I'd just received a bundle of roses. Before I had the chance to thank him, he gave me a curt nod then disappeared down the aisle. 

 

As soon as he was gone, I covered my face with my hands, letting out a groan. God, I'd acted so childishly, all for a box of original Kraft mac and cheese. The man probably thought I was a total bitch who liked to pick fights at grocery stores. 

 

No wonder guys didn't want to date me. 

 

With a sigh, I dragged my feet towards the checkout area. The cashier was a pretty brunette, and the judgemental look she gave the items in my basket didn't go unnoticed.

 

Seriously, what was wrong with chips and candy? 

 

"That'll be $17.13," she said. I handed her my credit card then collected my bags. 

 

"What time do you usually close?" 

 

I froze at the sound of the familiar male voice behind me. 

 

"Eleven. You made it just in time," the cashier replied in a bubbly tone. 

 

I dared myself to turn around and just like I expected, the handsome stranger stood there. His eyes met mine for the briefest second then I grabbed my receipt and bolted out the door, feeling too embarrassed to breathe the same air as him. 

 

With a brisk pace, I made it to my Jeep and threw my bags into the trunk. As soon as I sat down in the driver's seat, my feelings of embarrassment evolved into something completely different. 

 

Utter desire. 

 

My head dropped onto the steering wheel, and I fought to control the rapid beating of my heart. I'd never wanted anyone as badly as I wanted the handsome stranger. The guys I'd slept with in college had merely been boys.

 

But he was a man. A real man. 

 

And so out of my league. 

 

Fresh out of college, my sexual drive was higher than ever, but hopefully starting my job on Monday would help me to forget about it. Forget about him. 

 

Dismissing my thoughts, I turned on the ignition and attempted to weave out of my parking spot. Parallel parking had always been my weakness, and it didn't help that the idiot in front of me had parked way too close. One look at my backup camera revealed the same ordeal for the car behind me. 

 

I was literally trapped. 

 

"God, can this day get any worse," I muttered out loud. 

 

All I could do now was wait for either car to leave; I didn't want to risk hitting anything. With an exasperated sigh, I rolled down the windows and turned off the engine, putting my legs up on the dashboard. 

 

The minutes ticked by when I saw a tall figure walking towards my direction, their features illuminated by the streetlight. 

 

"Shit!", I cursed out loud, sinking lower into my seat. But it was too late. I was spotted. 

 

3...2...1...

 

"Are you stalking me?", I heard the handsome stranger ask. He was bent down, looking at me through my window.

 

"No!"

 

A faint smile played on his lips, but then he quickly erased it. 

 

"Are you sure about that?" 

 

"Yes! I'm trying to go home, but I've been stuck here."

 

He raised a brow in confusion. 

 

"Stuck?"

 

Taking a step back, he assessed my situation, his eyes darting between the car in front of me and behind me. Then he was at my window again. 

 

"Give me your car keys and get out of the driver's seat," he ordered. 

 

My eyes widened. 

 

"What makes you think I'll do that?"

 

He rolled his eyes in annoyance. 

 

"Do you want to get home or not?"

 

"I do."

 

"Then give me your keys."

 

With a skeptical look, I handed him my car keys, our fingers lightly touching, and I felt tingles everywhere in my body. 

 

This man was going to be the death of me. 

 

I got out of my car so he could get in, and after turning on the ignition, he began to maneuver out of the parking space, his hands expertly turning the steering wheel. Besides us, there were no other cars driving down the street. 

 

He put the car in park, and I walked over to the driver's side where he was climbing out. 

 

"Wow, you made that look so easy," I remarked. He shrugged, combing his fingers through his dark brown hair. 

 

God, even his hair was perfection-- shorter on the sides and styled with texture at the top. 

 

"You just need more practice."

 

"Yeah, I definitely do. Well, thank you very much. That was very nice of you."

 

"You're welcome." 

 

I got in the driver's seat and was about to shut the door when his hand reached out to stop it. 

 

"Why did you run out of the store earlier?", he asked. 

 

"Huh? Oh..." My cheeks burned with embarrasment. 

 

"Too scared to face the man who stole your precious mac and cheese?" His tone was light, playful even. 

 

"Something like that," I mumbled shyly, avoiding his gaze. 

 

"I see. Well, I hope you enjoy your mac and cheese."

 

He shut my car door then jogged across the street, where a lone black BMW 528i was parked. With a final longing glance at the man who would star in my dreams tonight, I sped down Sunset Blvd, the ocean breeze blowing through my hair.

 

And it wasn't until I got home that I realized I'd never even asked him what his name was. 

 

 

 

A/N- Sorry for the long wait, guys! I went on vacation for the past month, and I didn't have time to update. Hopefully, everyone's enjoying this story so far. Remember to like and comment!

 
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