Icy breezes urge Trip Lancaster to tuck his woman, Molly Morrow, under his arm. He gathers her into his side and boosts their gait up a notch. From Summit University, the trek to South Roast is a challenge, a challenge he loves. All he needs in a chunk of spare time is a backpack, boots, and a mountain trail.
A dimpled smile invades half of his face with perfect teeth. He squeezes Molly tighter, making his daily declaration. “Momo, you’re the perfect girl for me!”
“Only because you’re the perfect man for me.” She matches his enthusiasm.
“South Roast is the place to study for midterms. Great atmosphere. Stellar Wi-Fi.”
“And superb coffee.”
Arriving at South Roast, Trip swings a door open for Molly. Patina finishes welcome the couple as they enter the vintage mansion turned hotspot. It is buzzing with classmates. Trip flashes his famous smile and invites others along to his favorite table. They gather their belongings, glad to follow.
Molly marvels as each student accepts Trip’s invitation. She was glad to follow him into their relationship, despite unresolved issues of his former association with Linden Beckworth. Disclosing few details, he had asked Molly, an upper class officer of Christian Collegiate Fellowship, to pray for his relationships. While praying and helping him plug in at CCF, Molly fell into a mothering mode and she fell in love.
Entourage now in tow, Trip cuts a path toward his table. Timeworn floors creak with stories of days gone by as the group bustles to the quiet back room. Aromas of roasted caffeine waft through the air and a high tech sound system hums acoustic tunes.
“Momo, they’re playing our John Jackson tune. This place rocks.”
“Trip, I love it all, and I’m crazy about you, but we better get cracking.” Molly observes how every seat is occupied.
He grins and winks as she settles in beside him. What will I do when she graduates in May?
A waitress skips to their table. “Hey guys! Whatcha’ want?”
Friendly Trip greets their peer, Kristen. “Load two buckets with mocha, all the way.”
“Okie doke,” says Kristen, whirling away to the nostalgic counter flanked with a strand of wooden stools. Behind the counter, old marries new in a masterpiece of mirrors, aged wood, modern mugs, and glass shelving.
Exchanges about football and approaching holiday destinations dart across the tabletop as the students splay books and connect to Wi-Fi. Trip tosses a few paper wads.
Level-headed Molly flings back a crumpled wad with a gentle reminder. “Midterms?”
While perusing her psychology book, the last name “Beckworth” appears, reminding her of Linden and her mother. She frowns. Why does he refuse to talk about Linden, yet he keeps the blanket she made for him? What happened between them to sever their connection? Did Mrs. Beckworth write the book?
“Trip, are you curious about that book Mrs. Beckworth said she’d write about you and Linden?”
“Nope. That was two years ago and I’m over it. God is working my life out for good. I have you, don’t I?”
He bypasses a potential issue with sweet talk.
“I’m curious. I’ll Snoop it.”
She types “Phoebe Beckworth” in the search bar of Snoop. A sample of a book entitled “Honest to Goodness” appears. Surprised, she gasps, clutches Trip’s arm, and hungrily reads aloud. A conversation between two fictional characters, Baron Olin and Roxi Robinson, comprises the excerpt.
Snoop uncovered a rousing kick to Trip’s gut.
Baron Olin. That’s the alias Mrs. Beckworth planned for me. Wow…her writing endeavor is actually a book. How did she create a character just like me? Freaky. It’s like Baron’s thoughts mirror my soul. Roxi is a duplicate of Linden, a challenge tougher than the steepest trail.
For two years, Trip has immersed himself in SU’s engineering program, maintained honors, connected with friends, found Molly, and pressed on in his faith. With every success, he has shoved Linden further back into the past and blazed into the future, but thoughts of her flamed up unexpectedly. There was something other-worldly about the way she remained alive in his head, and always with the attachment of specific Bible verses. Mrs. Beckworth promised to always pray for him, and somehow, he believes her.
“Trip! You okay?”
Molly’s patting on his shoulder summons him back to friends and studies at South Roast. His life is good. With a stiff reset to his resolve, he replaces high maintenance “Roxi Robinson” with a winning smile.
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