My Saving Grace

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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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26. Chapter 26

"How many more left?", I asked, clutching my stomach as I let yet another spoonful of frosting and sweetness settle in it. 

 

"Three. You got this, girl," Alexa said encouragingly, rubbing my back. "Ooh, the next one looks beautiful."

 

I groaned as she led me towards the towering white four-tiered wedding cake, which had strawberries lined around the edges and was adorned with red roses on the bottommost layer. It was the best one we'd seen yet. 

 

"Let's hope it tastes as good as it looks," I said, popping a small piece of the precut slice into my mouth. The combined flavors of vanilla, chocolate cream, and strawberries instantly brought my taste buds to life, and I had to stifle a moan I knew would sound way too sexual. 

 

"I'm guessing you like it?", Alexa remarked with a smirk. 

 

I nodded. 

 

"This is the one, Lex. I'm not even gonna bother sampling the last two." 

 

"Sounds good to me. I'll go grab Tony quick."

 

Tony was the creator of all of these masterpieces. An old friend of Antonio's had recommended him to us. In normal circumstances, Antonio would've been the one at my side for the past hour, sampling cakes and debating with me about which one was the best. 

 

Unfortunately, he had to fly up to San Francisco for a family emergency. His mother had suffered a minor heart attack yesterday and was in the hospital. Thankfully, she was going to be fine based on what he told me last time I called. 

 

Since Alexa was already in town for a conference, she offered to come to the cake tasting with me. At my wedding dress fitting a while back, she'd acted both the roles of mother-of-the-bride and maid-of-honor, crying when she saw me with it on then proceeding to joke about how we thought we'd be single forever. Friends like her only came once in a lifetime. 

 

The wedding was set for July 7th, a month and a half away, and I couldn't be more excited. I'd always dreamt of getting married on Coronado Island ever since I was a little girl, and what better place to hold a reception than the Hotel del Coronado, one of San Diego's most prominent landmarks? 

 

Later that day, I dropped Alexa off at the airport then drove to a small coffee shop in Santa Monica to pass the hour until Antonio's flight arrived. After deciding what I wanted, I stood in line to pay, rummaging through my purse for my credit card when I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder. 

 

The moment I turned around, I was met with a pair of piercing blue eyes, but they didn't belong to just any stranger. 

 

They belonged to Chase Lincoln.

 

I felt the ground move beneath my feet as I stood there in a trance, zoning everything and everyone out except for the man in front of me. 

 

"You're up next, Sophia," he spoke at the same time a voice behind me said, "I can help whoever's next."

 

Snapping out of my trance, I whipped around to face the cashier, who was smiling widely. 

 

"What would you like today, Miss?"

 

"A mocha with whipped cream." My words were a jumbled mess as my heart raced in my chest. "Please," I added.

 

"I'll have the same order," Chase said from behind me, pulling out his credit card. 

 

"W-what are you doing?", I asked him. 

 

"Buying you coffee. What does it look like I'm doing?", he responded matter-of-factly, his eyes gleaming with mirth. 

 

And just like that, the dam broke as tears of joy and hope streamed down my face at the mere sight of him in the flesh and not just a remnant of my old memories. 

 

The moment he stepped out of the line after paying, my arms instinctively wrapped themselves around him, and he didn't even hesitate in returning my embrace. 

 

"I can't believe it's you," I spoke into his chest as I held him tight. "I never thought I'd see you again."

 

He pulled away to gaze down at me, his expression playful. 

 

"Well, you thought wrong."

 

I smiled through my tears. 

 

"Should we find a table?"

 

"That's a good idea."

 

We opted for a table in the back corner to allow just the right amount of privacy, and Chase took a seat across from me. He was dressed in a gray V-neck sweater and dark blue jeans which hugged his lean, muscular frame. His skin was tan and glowing, not at all like the pale, sickly tone I remembered the last time I ever saw him. 

 

My eyes darted to his forearms, where I saw glimpses of a tattoo sleeve peeking beneath the fabric of his sweater. 

 

"You can initiate the conversation anytime, princess," he said, and I glanced up to see him smiling warmly at me. 

 

My lips quivered at the endearment he'd designated for me all those years ago. 

 

"I never thought I'd live to hear you call me that again." 

 

"I always knew we'd run into each other at some point in time. It was just a matter of when."

 

"Quite the optimist, are you?"

 

"I didn't used to be. Until I met you. God, you look beautiful, Sophia. College must've treated you well."

 

"You look beautiful, too. I mean handsome. Not beautiful. God, what am I saying." I mentally slapped myself. 

 

Chase laughed, and I clung to the sound of it. Leaning forward in his seat, he rested his elbows on the table and gave me his undivided attention. 

 

"I think I owe you an explanation of my whereabouts after I left the hospital seven years ago." 

 

"I know you're an actor now. And I still have the letter you left behind," I said, wrapping my hands around my coffee mug.

 

His eyes widened slightly. 

 

"You do?"

 

I nodded slowly, giving him a small smile. 

 

"Sophia. I can't even begin to tell you how much that means to me. You never forgot about me?"

 

"Never," I said firmly. 

 

"Well, I sure as hell never forgot about you either."

 

His words tugged at my heartstrings, and I willed myself not to cry in front of him. If only he knew how much I cared about him back then...

 

"You know, it's funny because you were the one who told me I'd make a good actor someday." His expression was wistful. 

 

"It is, isn't it? Now spill, Chase."

 

He chuckled, taking a sip of his coffee before proceeding to fill me in on all the details following his disappearance from my life. 

 

The day he was released from the hospital, he'd received a phone call from one of his dad's cousins, Bethany, who lived in California and was willing to take him in. Why she waited so long, he had no clue, but he was grateful nonetheless.

 

Bethany and her husband owned a burger restaurant in the Los Angeles area, and they hired Chase to work as a server there. One night, a year into his job, a patron by the name of Jimmy Butch came in, and he and Chase bonded over musicals and acting. 

 

Unbeknownst to Chase, Jimmy Butch was a rookie movie director in Hollywood who was desperately in need of a male actor for one of his upcoming films. A month later, he returned to the burger restaurant and asked Chase if he was interested in the role. After all, he had the looks and a history of acting back in high school. 

 

"And you can guess what I said," Chase said, drumming his fingers on the table as he gazed at me. 

 

I just sat there blinking, taking it all in. It was crazy how his life could take a turn like that. But I couldn't imagine anyone else who deserved it more. 

 

"That's amazing, Chase. Truly."

 

He shrugged. 

 

"I got lucky. Was working at the right restaurant at the right time."

 

"It's not luck, Chase. You were meant to be an actor."

 

He downed the rest of his coffee and sat back in his chair, resting his arms on the table. 

 

"Enough about me. Let's talk about you."

 

"Me? Everything I have to tell you pales in comparison to what you just told me."

 

"Bullshit." 

 

I shook my head, smiling to myself.

 

"Fine, I'll make this easy for you. Where do you live now?"

 

"Here. Forty-five minutes away to be exact."

 

His eyes lit up at my answer. 

 

"What do you do?"

 

"I'm an R&D Engineer at Abbott."

 

"Fancy. Always knew you were smart, though. Single?"

 

"Nope."

 

He raised a brow. 

 

"Who's the lucky guy? Don't tell me it's that douchebag, Drew, you went to the masquerade with."

 

"You remember Drew? That was seven whole years ago."

 

"My insanely good memory scares me too, princess," he quipped. I laughed.

 

"His name is Antonio. He's a college professor."

 

"That's awesome." He gave me a sweet smile. 

 

"We're getting married next month."

 

His smile faltered just a tiny bit, and he glanced down at my ring finger, which was wrapped around my coffee mug. 

 

"Damn. Congratulations, princess." 

 

"Thank you. Are you seeing anyone?"

 

He regarded me intently. 

 

"Yeah, I am. We've been together six months now. Not engaged though."

 

"I'm glad to hear that."

 

I stole a quick glance at my watch and gasped when I saw the time. Antonio's flight landed ten minutes ago. How on earth had an hour gone by so fast? 

 

"Everything ok?", Chase asked. 

 

"I have to go pick up my fiancé at the airport." 

 

I quickly stood up and grabbed my purse, pushing my chair in. Chase mirrored my movements.

 

"It was so good to see you, Chase. You have no idea." 

 

I stared into his intense blue eyes, memorizing every line of his face as I brushed my fingers across his cheek. 

 

"Take care, ok?", I said softly. 

 

"You, too."

 

We gave each other a hug, and before I could make it through the door, he called out, "I come here every other Saturday."

 

I paused in my footsteps, turning around to look at him. 

 

"Same time as today?"

 

He nodded his head. 

 

"Well in that case, I'll see you again soon," I said with a smile, which he returned. 

 

"Drive safely, princess." 

 

I waved good-bye then headed out the door, replaying our entire encounter in my head. An hour simply hadn't been enough time to make up for seven years of lost touch. 

 

I was never the one to believe in miracles. 

 

But today proved me wrong. 

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