Courted by Time
In Hyacinth, Book 7
With her courting year over and no men on the horizon, DeLynn Straynar decides to do something different with her life and signs up to attend college in Longdale an hour away. Her first day there, she runs into Zachary Styles, the school’s single chaplain and feels attracted, but quickly tries to convince herself she feels nothing for him. Until they meet again and again. With school taking up so much of her attention, she tries to focus just on it, but ignoring the gorgeous brown-eyed man is difficult and she’s not sure she wants to.
Zachary is twenty-five and working toward his doctorate in divinity. While aware of Hyacinth, he never imagined he would physically discipline anyone, until falling for DeLynn. She thinks getting courted will be the hardest part, but their courting year turns out to be fraught with trouble. From her best friend running away from home, to trying to figure out who she is in an environment so unlike the one she grew up in, the entire year is filled with stress. She keeps hoping that in time, everything will work itself out.
Unfortunately, time can only fix so much and as her anxiety goes through the roof and she finds herself in a manic mode she cannot stop, it doesn’t take long before she realizes that while sometimes she needs to figure things out on her own, there are also times she needs to hand the reins over to someone else.
(with her regular ride not available, DeLynn took the bus the hour trek to school on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. As weather worsened, her daily routine might not be what she expects.)
Glancing up at the board, she felt a little uneasy when she saw the word DELAYED flashing across it. Delayed for how long? Wrapping her arms tightly across her chest for warmth, she jogged in place, her eyes darting up to the arrival sign every few minutes. When DELAYED disappeared she gave a sigh of relief. Until CANCELLED took its place.
“No,” she whispered in horror. Now what was she going to do? There was only one possibility and she hated having to do it. DeLynn would have to call Barrett and ask if he could make the drive to pick her up. With the roads in such bad shape that they cancelled the bus she hated to ask him to make such a trip. Putting her book bag on the small cold bench underneath the dreadful arrivals board, she unzipped a pocket to find her phone. Only to realize it wasn’t there. Confused, as she always put the phone in that compartment, she pulled everything out of each pocket only to come to a horrible conclusion. She had forgotten her phone at home in her rush to get ready this morning. “Drat.”
Managing to fight back the tears that wanted to fall, she put everything back inside and looked toward the school. Hopefully the student center was still open. There had to be a pay phone she could use. Wind tossed snow into her face as she fought her way back to campus, her teeth chattering by the time she arrived. The lights were dimmed and as she yanked on the door finding it locked, it was the last straw and she felt tears trickle out of her eyes. She should have just stayed home today.
“DeLynn? Are you all right?”
Startled at the voice, she turned to find Zach staring at her in concern. “The bus got cancelled,” she managed to chatter out.
“Is your truck not working?”
“Didn’t have it today.”
“Do you know anyone in Longdale?” he asked gently and she shook her head. “Come on. I was just about to head to my parents’ house. The highways are impassible or I’d take you home. Dad and Mum won’t mind you staying over tonight. I’m sure the roads will be dug out for tomorrow.” Not able to think of anything else, she nodded and let him guide her to the employee parking lot where his small truck was the only vehicle in sight. “I’m glad I stayed late today working with a student who lives in the dorms,” he said after they both got into the cab. “Or I would have been gone, too.” After turning on the engine, he flipped the heat on high. “It will take a couple minutes but heat is one thing this truck does well.”
The drive to his parents’ house took nearly an hour as he could only go ten miles an hour. “I hate to ask this,” she whispered about twenty minutes into the drive as she began to thaw, “but do you have a cell phone I could borrow? My parents will be frantic if I don’t show up soon.”
“Of course.” He pulled a small phone from his pocket and handed it to her. “Are you warmer now?”
“Yes, thank you.” She quickly dialed and put the phone up to her ear.
“Williams and Straynars,” her brother said as he answered the phone.
“Lynnie! Where are you? We expected you home twenty minutes ago. Mom’s going mental.”
“The road’s closed. Is Barrett close?” Her new father would be easier to talk to than her mother who tended to overreact.
“DeLynn, are you all right?” Barrett asked.
“Cold, but okay. They cancelled the bus and I found out that the road’s closed.”
“Find a hotel and have them call me. I’ll put it on my card. Do not stay out in the snow.”
Warmth from how parental he sounded settled into her chest and she cast a glance at the man next to her who was leaning forward so he could see the road through the intense snowfall. “Actually, I’m with someone from school. Zachary Styles. Our chaplain. He found me and is taking me to his parents’ house for the night.”
There was a pause. “Could you put him on the phone, DeLynn?”
Grimacing as he sounded so…calm—too calm—she passed it over. “Barrett wants to talk to you.”
He didn’t act like that was strange at all. “Sir?” he said as he took the phone. “Yes…I completely understand. I would have driven her home but the road’s closed…I promise. I’ll guard her with my life…Yes, sir…As soon as the roads are cleared tomorrow, I’ll run her home…Oh, you don’t have to do that…I understand…Until tomorrow then. I look forward to meeting you…” He handed the phone back to her. “Your father would like to speak with you again.”
“Barrett?” she asked, feeling a bit out of her element.
“He sounds like a nice man and everything I’ve found out about him puts him on my good side. I’ll take him at his word. Call me before you leave Longdale. Have a good night, DeLynn.”
“Thanks.” She handed Zach back his phone. “Sorry. Barrett’s very protective.”
He smiled. “That’s all right. I’m glad you have someone watching out for you.”
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