Once by M.S. Kaye
sensual inspirational romance
novel (approx 60,000 words)
release date: 11/7/2013
Her first and also her Once.
Jonathan is studying to become a priest. He is three days from taking vows. He will not be a priest.
Rebecca’s major is pre-law. She is supposed to take over her father’s law firm. She will not be lawyer.
Their paths cross at exactly the right moment, when each most needs to hear what the other has to say. Jonathan’s structured life is turned sideways, but Rebecca also helps him learn how to forgive himself. It was self-defense, not murder. Rebecca finds the strength to stand up to her father, to be the real her. If Jonathan likes her writing, it must be worth pursuing.
They must each struggle to forge a new path without each other’s comfort and strength, with only memories of the one day that changed everything.
From the outside all was perfect—a peppy cheerleader with straight A’s—but it was all a lie. And I was no closer to understanding how to fix it. All I knew was I couldn’t take another boring political science or government class. If I didn’t figure out what was wrong with me soon, I was going to end up dropping school altogether, and then my family would be sure to disown me.
Maybe I didn’t need any great meaning. Could I find happiness working the counter at a 7-Eleven or maybe as a waitress at a Waffle House on the interstate? At least I’d be sure to meet interesting people—people who wouldn’t expect anything other than a “Have a nice day.” Maybe I could live alone with five cats and not have to fake interest in my girlfriends’ boy troubles. Maybe having zero ambition was the cure. Well, honestly, I didn’t have much of that now—secret and idiotic ambitions, but not realistic ones.
The train to take me back to my life finally pulled up, and I stuffed my notebook back in my bag—the notebook that held all, everything and nothing. I had just the small shoulder bag and a duffle with a few clothes, so it was easy to carry everything myself. I hadn’t bothered with the trendy outfits and make-up on this little excursion to Chicago. It was freeing, but I knew I’d fall back into the same old expected habits once I returned. I was a good girl and I always did as expected—on the outside. Despite my light packing, I still caught my duffle in the doorway of the train.
“Let me help you.”
Someone took the bag from my hand, and I turned to see a man smiling at me, not the usual smile I received from men, but as if he honestly was being a gentleman. And there was something more in his face. Or was it the odd combination of the kindness in his black eyes, and the scar that ran from his eye down the side of his cheek to his ear?
I forced myself to stop looking. “Thank you.”
After climbing the few steps up into the train, I turned to take my bag.
He didn’t give it. “I don’t want you getting stuck in the hall. I may not be there to save you.”
His mouth strained as if he was working to stop from smiling wider. “Which compartment?”
I submitted and led the way, expecting to have to brush him off yet. I opened the door, and then turned, and he relinquished my bag without another word. My hand smoothed across his rough skin, much rougher than I was used to. The guys I knew all claimed to be tough, but most had never truly worked, never manual labor, only football practice. It was funny that football players were supposed to be such tough guys. They always seemed to be the biggest babies.
He walked back the way he had come, and…
Why was I watching him?
I went into the tiny compartment and set my bags on the seat next to me, fully intending to stare out the window at the flat Illinois countryside. Then I pulled my notebook back out. I often wrote sketches of the people I met. I felt like I had to write him down. But what was I supposed to write? I hadn’t really met him, so I decided on capturing his contrasting features.
“He had sleek dark hair that had been grown out, not as a result of wanting to change the style but simply because he’d been too busy and preoccupied to bother with the barber—and he definitely went to a barber, not a salon. Eyes black, startlingly intense but soft somehow as if he’d learned much from a hard life.”
I couldn’t decide on his ethnicity—white but mixed with…Southeast Asian? Maybe Latino? Or perhaps even Middle Eastern.
“His skin was golden from outdoor labor, not dark really, just golden. The labor also shaped his frame, solid but not ripped. He had probably never seen the inside of a gym and would think nautilus equipment ridiculous, lifting for the sake of vanity when the exertion could be used for some good. He was soft-spoken but had obviously gotten into trouble at some point. What could cause a scar like that?”
The train lurched away from the station, and I lay the book on my lap while I wondered if anything I’d written was correct.
I skipped lunch, my eyes glazed from watching the blank farmland, but at least my mind was blank as well for awhile. In the afternoon, I meandered out to the public cars to see if I could coax a snack out of one of the waiters. I found one when I entered a lounge area—a tall gangly boy, an easy target.
Flipping my hair over my shoulder, I smiled pleasantly, maybe a little dull, but it always worked. Intelligence was not a key factor to men.
“Excuse me,” I said.
He turned, and I saw it was working. Actually, I was surprised. I didn’t even have make-up on.
“Um…I fell asleep and missed lunch.” I tilted my head and smiled. “Do you think…”
“Sure,” he said brightly. “What would you like?”
“Water and fruit?”
“No problem.” He left quickly, and I dropped back to my real facial expression.
Laughing from behind me.
I turned. It was the same man from earlier, seated in the corner by the door. I was about to walk away, faking anger but really feeling humiliation and shame.
Then he spoke. “Poor boy didn’t stand a chance.”
I hid the shame with annoyance. “Do you listen to other people’s conversations often?”
“Only if they’re entertaining.”
I thought about leaving, but I really was hungry so I found a seat a few rows away on the opposite side of the aisle, where I could still see him.
The waiter returned shortly, smile hung from his ears, and I dismissed him as politely as possible. His shoulders stooped as he walked away.
My appetite disappeared. I set the plate on the seat and pulled my knees up to my chest as I resumed staring out the window.
“May I join you?”