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Authors: Melody Carlson

Tags: #Christian Fiction

Grace Unplugged: A Novel

BOOK: Grace Unplugged: A Novel
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Grace Unplugged, Digital Edition

Based on Print Edition

Copyright © 2013 by Coram Deo Studios, Inc.

All rights reserved

Printed in the United States of America

978-1-4336-8204-9

Published by B&H Publishing Group

Nashville, Tennessee

Dewey Decimal Classification: F

Subject Heading: SINGERS—FICTION \ CHRISTIAN ETHICS—FICTION \ POPULAR MUSIC—FICTION

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Chapter 1

W
ith guitar case in hand and only one thing on her mind, Grace Trey shoved open the door that led to the church parking lot and, in her hurry, nearly barreled over the boy just coming in.

“Hey, Noah.” Grace steadied the nine-year-old to his feet. “Sorry, bud, I didn’t even see you there. What’s up?”

“Hey, Miss Grace,” he said shyly.

Her frown was replaced with a smile. “Where’s my hug?” she asked as she rested her guitar case against her leg and opened up her arms.

Noah responded with a bear hug that melted away the last fragments of her foul mood. “You practicing?” she asked with the directness of a dedicated instructor.

“Yeah.” He nodded eagerly. “Every day.”

“Good, the recital’s coming fast.”

“You gonna be there?” he asked with hopeful eyes.

“Of course. You’re my star student.” She patted him on the shoulder.

Noah grinned and promised to keep practicing. And Grace picked up her guitar, watching as he dashed off to join his friends. She knew the kids were headed for the playground behind the church. There they would roughhouse and compete and joke around until their parents yelled that it was time to go home.

She remembered when she used to do the same thing with her church friends. And sometimes, especially on days like today, she wished she could turn back the clock and run and play with the kids. Life had been so much simpler back then. Okay, maybe it hadn’t always been simple, but it was a lot less complicated than trying to be an adult. Although
some
people didn’t think of her as an adult.

Despite the fact she was eighteen and, according to the law, old enough to vote or enlist in the armed forces, in her conservative family Grace was still considered a child. Or so it seemed at times. Like today. As she walked through the parking lot, she told herself not to obsess over how Dad had treated her during worship this morning. And yet it was like she couldn’t stop.

Worship had started out typically, with their usual six-piece band playing. Grace knew as well as anyone how the congregation loved it when her dad led on guitar. After all, he was Johnny Trey—the guy who’d had a hit record back in his day. But, unless it was her imagination, the congregation seemed to light up even more when the father and daughter duo led worship together. It was like the energy in the sanctuary changed—almost like the congregation expected something special. And naturally Grace wanted to give it to them. However, Dad saw things differently.

Sometimes it felt like she could never do anything right
in his eyes
. Like today. It had felt so right to speed up the tempo and increase the volume on that particular song—she couldn’t help herself. And she wasn’t blind—she noticed how the crowd reacted. Many of them seemed to appreciate her style. Especially the younger ones. They liked rocking out and worshipping with enthusiasm. What was wrong with that? But just as she was really getting into it, Dad had shot her the look—the look that said,
Knock it off.

Grace sighed as she glanced around the crowded parking lot, trying to remember where Dad had parked their SUV this morning. She shaded her eyes, peering into the sunshine and wishing she’d driven herself today. That way she could’ve made a quiet escape without risking more lectures on the way home.

“Hey, superstar.”

Grace turned to see her friend Rachel on her heels. “Hey, Rach.” She stopped, waiting for her to catch up.

“You really rocked today,” Rachel said as she joined her.

“Glad
you
thought so.”

“Actually, what I meant was . . .” Rachel’s mouth twisted to one side as if she was weighing her words. “I mean, well, it was pretty lively in there for awhile.”

“And lively is good, right?” Grace frowned at her best friend.

Rachel shrugged. “Sometimes. Not always.”

“Isn’t lively better than falling asleep during worship?” Grace frowned.

“I don’t know. I think rocking out might make some of the older folks uncomfortable.”

“Speaking of older folks.” Grace tipped her head to where her parents were strolling their way.

Rachel laughed. “Your parents aren’t old folks.”

“Guess that depends on your perspective.” Now Grace heard the door clicking unlocked, so she opened up the back of the SUV and slid in her guitar case.

“I better get going,” Rachel told her.

“I’ll come by the bookstore tomorrow,” Grace said. “You working?”

“Always.” Rachel waved. “See ya.”

Grace slipped into the backseat and, slumping down, she went into invisible mode as she stared at her iPhone. Her seemingly oblivious parents chatted congenially as they got in. They made the usual small talk about church and friends they’d visited with, and after a bit they started discussing today’s sermon. Occasional comments were tossed her direction, but her one-word answers didn’t exactly encourage conversation. She stared out the window, surveying the sleepy streets of Homewood, Alabama. This place wasn’t exactly bustling during the week, but on Sunday it felt like a ghost town.

“You’re being awfully quiet,” Mom said to her. “Everything okay?”

“Everything’s fine.” Of course, whenever Grace used the
fine
word, it had a completely different meaning.

“You know, Grace, the day will come when you’ll miss us,” her dad said in a teasing tone. “Next year when you’re off at college, you’ll think back to these times and—”

“I don’t plan to go to college,” she said abruptly. Okay, she hadn’t meant to break it to them like this, but maybe it was time.

“What?”
Mom turned to look at her.

“I don’t plan to go to college,” she repeated the dreaded words.

“Of course, you plan to go to college. You’ve already been accepted at—”

“I’m not going,” she declared.

“Why not?” Mom asked.

“Because I want to do music—”

“Here we go again,” Dad said flippantly.

“Don’t make fun of me,” she told him. “I’m eighteen, and I’m old enough to make up my own mind about my own life. I
want
a music career. Going to college is not going to—”

“A music career is fine—
after
college,” he said firmly.

“You know how hard it is for musicians,” Mom tried. “You need something to fall back on, Gracie. Like teaching music. You are a fabulous teach—”

“Yeah, right. Or haven’t you heard—the ones who
teach
music are the ones who can’t
do
music?” Grace snapped.

“Don’t disrespect your mother,” Dad warned.

Fortunately, he was just pulling up into the driveway, and this doomed conversation was about to end.

“Sorry, Mom,” she said quickly. Then, as the garage door slowly opened, Grace jumped out of the SUV. Hurrying around back, where she knew the patio door was unlocked, she let herself into the house and dashed up to her room. Yes, she knew it was childish to play the I-wanna-be-alone game. But besides needing some space, she hoped to get her parents’ attention. She wanted them to see that she was serious. She did not want to go to college, and they could not force her. Could they?

Wasn’t eighteen old enough to do as you pleased? And what about all the other singers who’d launched fabulous careers while still in their teens? Why wouldn’t her parents want that for her? Why would they insist on holding her back? She closed the door to her room, kicked off her shoes, and turned on her laptop. If she couldn’t own her music career now, when could she? And putting off her career until she finished four years of useless college made absolutely no sense. She knew college grads who were working at Starbucks and McDonald’s. Is that the dream her parents had for her?

She took her laptop to the chair by her window. It was still on the same celebrity gossip blog she’d been reading last night. Sally Benson was a popular blogger on WideSpin.com, and as usual, Sally was up on the latest scoops in the music industry. Grace went back to reading about her favorite performer, Renae Taylor. Renae was in her late twenties and had been enjoying a music career of nearly a decade. Right now, according to Sally Benson, Renae was vacationing in Tahiti, where she was writing songs for her next album. And some paparazzi had managed to snag some pretty cool shots of this megastar on the beach as well as enjoying the nightlife there.
What a life,
Grace thought as she pulled on her headphones, clicking onto one of Renae’s most recent songs.

She was just getting into the lyrics when she noticed her door opening. Jerking off her headphones, she glared at the intruder, which she expected was Dad. Didn’t he believe in privacy anymore?

“Sorry,” Mom said as she stepped inside. “I knocked, but I guess you didn’t hear me.”

BOOK: Grace Unplugged: A Novel
9.24Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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