DeLynn nibbled on her pizza, wincing when Chrissa kicked her. Obviously her friend had done this for her and expected her to make use of her time. “So did you always want to be a religious leader?”
Chuckling, he shook his head. “Not in the slightest. Neither of my parents is spiritually minded. I love the two of them, but they are completely secular. I grew up that way and it wasn’t until I met Dr. Stren, my predecessor here, that I felt a desire for something else. I had attended LCC for a quarter and was still unsure of where I was headed when I came to the chapel. I had never been down this far and thought I’d take a look and leave.” Pausing, he took another bite, his eyes lost in some memory. “I was looking into the chapel when he came out of this very office. He invited me in for a chat and that evolved to daily chats. By the end of the year I knew where I wanted to be. He helped me study and prepare for my master’s program and when he retired, he put my name forth as a replacement. I hope I can help others find their path the way he helped me find mine.”
“I have no idea what I want to do,” DeLynn admitted. “I’ve been going back and forth between getting a job or going to school.”
“It’s a difficult decision,” he agreed. “And only one you can make for yourself. But college has a lot to offer, DeLynn.” The way his mouth curved around her name sent goose pimples up her flesh. “So much to learn. Your mind will be opened in so many ways. I’m sure as well,” he added slowly as if testing the words out in his head before he let them come out his mouth, “that being from Hyacinth has even more stipulations. Are you both in your courting year?”
Startled that he knew of it, DeLynn stared at him in surprise. His eyes softened even further. “I have made sure to meet and get to know every religious leader within an hour of Longdale, to assure them I will help their members follow their path if they come to LCC. I know of Hyacinth and its traditional views.”
“I still am,” Chrissa admitted. “DeLynn’s nineteen.”
“Well, just so you are aware, things are different in Longdale. People date and considering how attractive you both are, I’m sure you’ll both be asked out often. The attention you’ll be paid by the college boys will probably be your biggest hurdle towards feeling comfortable here.”
Heat flooded into her cheeks at his words. Did he truly think she was attractive? DeLynn finished her pizza and placed her plate on his desk. “We should probably be getting home,” she reminded Chrissa. “Mom didn’t expect us to be gone for too long.”
Zach stood as they did, offering each of them a business card. “If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call. And if your parents are unsure, have them call. I’ll try to put them at ease.” As he walked them out, he added, “I hope to see you both here. Good day, Chrissa, DeLynn.”
She followed Chrissa upstairs and out to her friend’s car, not saying a word. As soon as they were inside with the engine running, Chrissa grinned and in a sing-song voice called out, “Lynnie’s got a crush!”
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.