Authors: K.A. Linde
a novel by
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© 2013 by K.A. Linde
part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means,
electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any
information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the
author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and
incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used
fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or
locales is entirely coincidental.
other titles by K. A. Linde at
DEVON SAWYER SKIPPED to the next
song on her iPod and adjusted the small earbuds to fit more comfortably. She
bobbed her head to the ’90s punk rock blasting through her headphones, her
blonde hair falling around her face. She was thankful that no one else was
clued in to her choice of music. She wanted to listen to something that felt
comfortable to her, and her older brother’s music always did the trick.
The train rattled along on its
course. It had pulled out of the countryside and moved into the suburbs until
it would finally reach the heart of Chicago. During the six-hour train ride
from St. Louis into the city, Devon couldn’t quit biting her nails. They
weren’t particularly long to start out with, but they were quickly turning into
Her feet tapped softly against
the carpeted floor as she stared out the closed window at the passing flatlands
and cornfields prominent in the Midwest. Since stepping onto the first train
with nothing more than her purse and carry-on suitcase, she hadn’t paid much
attention to anything. Although she was still focused on the end of term and
her immediate departure, she couldn’t stop thinking about the one thing she
didn’t want to think about.
But she had made her decision.
For better or for worse, she had left St. Louis.
“Next stop, Chicago Union
Station,” the conductor called over the intercom.
Devon popped up from her
daydream. One of her earbuds fell out as she straightened in her seat. She
looked down at the open notebook sitting in her lap. Words filled the pages,
but she couldn’t remember writing them down. Reading the first few lines only
intensified her despair, and she decided not to continue with the rest at the
A stewardess walked through the
cabin, smiling at the passengers as she stamped their tickets. Devon had the
last seat on the train, and the woman was fast approaching her. She averted
her eyes, hoping the woman would just leave her be. The last thing she wanted
was to talk to a peppy stewardess.
Devon was out of luck.
“Miss,” the stewardess said,
leaning into her chair.
Devon ignored her.
“Miss. Excuse me, miss?”
Devon pulled out the other
earbud, shut her notebook, and turned to face the woman. “Yes?”
“Did you want anything else from
the cart before we enter the station?”
“No, thank you,” Devon answered.
“Here, let me stamp your ticket,”
she said, reaching out her hand.
Devon bent down to retrieve her
bag, and then she began rifling through it to locate the ticket.
“So, why are you traveling to
Chicago?” the woman asked, making polite conversation.
“Just meeting a friend,” Devon
“That sounds fun,” she said.
When Devon glanced up at her, the
woman gave her an even bigger smile.
“How long are you staying?”
“Uh…” Devon murmured, trailing
off as if looking into her bag distracted her. “As long as I want, I guess.
Haven’t really thought that far.”
“Wow! You’re just picking up and
going?” the stewardess asked, surprised.
“It’s my summer break, and I have
some friends in the city,” Devon told her, not sure why she felt like she had
to justify it.
“Neat. Are you at a school in
St. Louis then?”
She finally located her ticket
and handed it to the woman. Devon was ready for the woman to leave. “Yep.
“That’s a great school! My son
always wanted to go there, but we just couldn’t afford a private school, you
know?” She placed a stamp on the ticket and returned it to Devon.
“Sure,” Devon said, not really
Her parents had told her she
could go to whatever school she wanted. They were songwriters in Nashville,
and business was good. Devon had wanted to start over and move far away from
the South into a new city. Her parents would have preferred an Ivy League
education if she were going to leave, but Devon hadn’t gotten into the Big
Wash U was close enough to Ivy
anyway. Plus, as soon as she had stepped onto campus, she had fallen in love
with the school. Everything from the brick castle-like edifices to the large open
grounds to the people she had met on her tour had pulled her in completely.
She had spent the last three years there, and now, she didn’t know if she would
ever go back.
Swallowing down the lump in her
throat, Devon reminded herself that she had made the right decision by
leaving. She had to get away. She just needed to keep telling herself that.
The train began to slow as
high-rises flew past the surrounding windows.
“That’s my cue!” The stewardess
jumped up. “Have a fun trip in Chicago,” she called before bustling about
through the cabin.
Devon stood and collected her
bags. The passengers were cast into darkness as they rolled into Chicago Union
Station. As the train rattled to a stop on the tracks, she pushed her way
through the crowd. She was more than ready to be off the train. A man swung
his bag backward, catching her in the ribs, and she grunted.
“Sorry,” the guy muttered, not
even glancing at her.
Devon knew she was on the shorter
side, but she wished people would be more considerate. She pushed past him and
got off the train, struggling to bring air back into her lungs.
As the crowd headed for the exit,
people jostled her on all sides. Relieved to be out of the fray, Devon lugged
her bag with effort into the train station. It was white marble in every
direction with a high-arch glass ceiling, enormous pillar entranceways, and
benched seating. Standing there to admire it all, Devon thought it was