The Call A Journey of Discovery

The Call
A Journey of Discovery
By J.S. Deaton
Chapter One
tight sensation fluttered in Kate’s stomach. She had the sudden urge to get
back in the truck. “Jon, is it too late to go home?”
Jonathan frowned. “Jace and I have no intention of hauling all your stuff back
downstairs.” He put his arm around his sister. “It’s just college. You’ll love it. Trust
Jace sauntered from behind the truck. “He’s right, Katie. It’s a blast…especially
if you avoid getting arrested.” He turned his back on Jonathan’s glare and winked at
“Enough, Jace,” Jonathan warned.
“Never enough.” Jace leaned into Kate and eyed a passing coed. “Katie, did I
mention how great college is?”
“I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself,” she said with a roll of her eyes.
He threw his arm across Kate’s shoulders. “By the way. I put all these college
guys on notice – you’re spoken for.”
“You’re not my type, Jace. And you’re too old.”
“Age is relative.”
“The police don’t think so.”
Jace sneered and stepped away from Kate. “Jon, I think it’s time to go where
people appreciate us.”
“And where would that be?” Kate said, hands on her hips.
© J.S. Deaton 2006

The Call – A Journey of Discovery
Page 2
“Far away from you.”
“Well…I guess it is about time you got started on your prestigious college career,”
Jonathan said softly.
The smile left Kate’s face, and her brown eyes grew wide. Her eyes clouded with
Jonathan gathered Kate in his arms. “Springville is two hours away. If you need
anything, call. We’ll be here.”
“Okay.” She chewed her bottom lip.
Jace pushed Jonathan aside and met Kate’s gaze. “Anything ya need. We’re your
She forced a smile and hugged him. It was a long time before she let go.
“Now—” Jonathan cleared his throat “— you should settle in, get to practice, and
make some friends.”
“We’ll be at every home game,” Jace assured her.
Kate’s face lit up for the first time since she’d arrived. “I can’t wait to get on the
“And don’t forget to find a training partner. To keep up your skills,” Jonathan
“Man, you’re bossy. Let’s go already!” Jace grabbed Jonathan’s shoulder and
pushed him toward the door of the pickup.
Kate backed slowly down the long sidewalk. “Call me when you get home.”
Jace winked and nodded.
Jonathan and Jace stood at the truck until she disappeared into the dorm. They
stared at the five-floor building that was now Kate’s home.
“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Jace said.
Jonathan shrugged. “I promised myself I’d give her a normal life.”
“Nothing about her future will be normal.”
“When The Call comes, we’ll deal with it.”
Jace smiled at his best friend. “You’re the boss.”
They climbed into Jace’s pickup, and Jonathan exhaled loudly. “Two hours is
farther away than I want to be.”
© J.S. Deaton 2006

The Call – A Journey of Discovery
Page 3
Chapter Two
ate pushed through the heavy glass doors of the Andrew P. Hall Gymnasium.
She inhaled deeply. This was a smell she knew and loved. It was slightly pungent and
somewhat stale, but it was familiar, and she was filled with a sense of security. The
entry to the gym was enormous. Simpson College Wildcats was spelled out in large blue
and white letters on the brick wall opposite the entrance. A massive trophy case was
situated beneath. It was filled with awards, pictures, and ribbons dating back eighty
Kate stopped to admire them. The trophy case back home was full of awards she
had helped win. She was planning to add a few to this one, too.
The vaulted ceiling echoed the sound of her footsteps as she made h er way to the
practice gym. Kate wore black shorts and a white tank shirt. Her shoulder-length, dark
brown hair was pulled into a ponytail, and her volleyball equipment was neatly tucked in
the gym bag at her side. This was her turf, and she promised herself she would give it
her all.
She followed the signs to the practice courts – down a flight of stairs, past the
weight room and visitor locker rooms. She heard squeaking shoes and bouncing balls.
When Kate turned into the gym, she saw at least forty young women stretching and
talking. Some were practicing their serve while others passed a ball with a partner.
Coach McWilliams stood in the center, watch ing closely. When he saw Kate he
waved and jogged over. “Hi, Kate! Are you settled in?”
“Not quite, but I’m getting there.” She scanned the room. “Is this everyone?”
“Almost. I’ve got a dozen returning players and over thirty newbies here for
tryouts. Get warmed up. We start in ten minutes.”
She smiled and nodded. Coach McWilliams returned to his observation of the
new recruits. Kate donned her pads and shoes, and started to stretch. The whistle
sounded just as she finished.
Coach McWilliams introduced himself and his assistant, a grad student who had
been one of his top players. He split the young women into two groups. The returning
© J.S. Deaton 2006

The Call – A Journey of Discovery
Page 4
players went with the assistant to the far court for warm ups and drills. Coach
McWilliams stayed on the other court with thirty-two new players, each of whom was
vying for one of eight open spots. Coach instructed them to pair off and do a passing
Kate turned to the girl beside her. The young woman was short by Kate’s
standards, about five and half feet tall, with a head full of curly golden hair. It was
pulled into a loose ponytail. She smiled at Kate, and her pale blue eyes sparkled. “I’m
Samantha O’Neill. Everyone calls me Sam.”
“Hi, Sam. I’m Kate Arnold.”
They moved about twelve feet apart and began to pass the ball. Kate could tell by
her easy grace that Sam was a natural at volleyball. She was betting the girl was a setter.
After several minutes, Coach McWilliams called them to the net and asked for
volunteers to set. Sam was first to offer. Kate grinned. She could always pick out the
setters. They were very quick and often natural leaders on the court.
Kate lined up with the rest of the young women. She felt her stomach muscles
tighten involuntarily. She loved that sensation.
Kate watched Sam set each player. Sam had sweet hands. Every ball was
perfectly placed on the net for the hitter. One by one they smashed it to the other side of
the court; then ducked under the net to act as blocker for the next hit.
When Kate’s turn came she positioned herself just behind the ten-foot line,
tossed the ball to Sam, timed the set, and charged the net. Sam put it at the ideal height.
Kate leapt off the floor and took aim with her guide hand as she brought her right hand
back over the top of her hair, like she was parting it with her thumb. She followed
through and pounded the ball. It struck within the ten-foot line. A smattering of gasps
sounded from the players in line behind Kate. The gym became silent for a moment as
the veterans on the adjoining court stopped their warm-ups to watch the rookies.
Sam flashed a thumbs-up. Kate smiled and mouthed the words “beauty set”
when she bent to slip under the net. She blocked th e next hit, again with an amazing
vertical jump and well-placed, strong hands.
Coach McWilliams grinned and nodded.
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The Call – A Journey of Discovery
Page 5
After several rounds of hitting right, middle, and left, Coach divided them into
teams of six for a scrimmage. Kate followed Sam in their rotation and they worked
together like old pros. They tried a backset play where Kate came around behind Sam
instead of crossing to the net in front of her. This threw off the defense, and they
scrambled to adjust. Kate was too quick; she surveyed their coverage while in the air
and placed a dink just over the double block. It fell in an undefended hole by the
Coach McWilliams applauded, his appreciation of the move obvious. Sam and
Kate congratulated each other and the rest of their teammates with high fives.
Practice ran for over two and half hours. Coach finally called the weary players
together. They collapsed in a scattered heap at center court.
He looked at his clipboard. “Great workout today, ladies. Here’s the schedule for
the rest of the week: morning practice from nine to twelve, and afternoon practice from
two to five. I’ll post the results on my office door on Friday.
“Everyone did a great job. Coach Amy and I have our work cut out for us. As you
know, there are eight spots on the team, and we’ve got over thirty of you. If you’re not
here every day, I’ll assume you’re not interested. If you have an emergency, please let
me know. We’ll try to work it out. Does anyone have questions?” He looked around the
group of players. “Okay. See you tomorrow.”
Sam approached Kate, who was picking up h er bag. “That’s some arm you’ve
“Thanks. And that’s some pair of h ands you’ve got.” Kate paused. “Did that
sound a little strange?”
“Only if we weren’t volleyball players.” Sam laughed.
Kate slid her bag strap onto her shoulder. “Are you headed to dinner?”
“Yes, I’m starved!”
“Do you want to meet up?”
“Sure. Us freshmen h ave to stick together, so we don’t get picked on.”
“I think that only happens in high school.” Kate wrinkled her nose. “I hope.”
© J.S. Deaton 2006

The Call – A Journey of Discovery
Page 6
Kate and Sam left the gym and walked in the fading afternoon light. It was a
beautiful late summer day. This was Kate’s favorite time of year. For August it had been
unseasonably cool, which was fine with her.
“So. How long have you been a player? Volleyball, I mean,” Kate said.
Sam grinned. “Since grade school. Always a setter. I went to a large high school
in the Chicago ‘burbs. Six hundred in my graduating class.”
Kate whistled. “I had less than that in my whole high school. Small town, private
“Were you a starting hitter?”
Kate nodded shyly. “Four years.”
“I figured. Me, too. We went to state three times and won twice. It was
Kate smiled. She felt certain she’d already made her first friend at Simpson.
When Sam and Kate arrived at the dorm, they passed the elevator and headed for
the stairway.
“Stuck on the fifth floor. The downside of the freshman year,” Kate huffed as they
trudged up the steps.
“It stinks. After the glory of being a senior,” Sam agreed.
They walked down the hall and stopped at the same door.
“No way,” Kate said.
Sam unlocked the door and pushed it open. Both twin beds were piled high with
boxes. “Holy cow! I didn’t think anyone had more stuff than me.”
“I haven’t finished unpacking! It looks like more than it is.”
“Yeah, sure.” Sam looked around. “Actually—” she smirked “—I have another
twelve boxes to bring up.”
Kate’s eyes grew large.
“You’re kind of gullible.” Sam chuckled.
“Yeah. That’s what Jon says, too.”
“Jon? Your boyfriend?”
“No. Jon, my brother.”
© J.S. Deaton 2006

The Call – A Journey of Discovery
Page 7
“Is he hot?”
Kate dropped her bag beside her bed. “He’s tall. Lots of muscles. If you like that
sort of thing.”
“Sounds hot to me.”
“He’s my brother.”
“How about hot friends?”
“Well, there’s Jace.” Kate stopped unpacking her bag and smiled. “He and Jon
would make a nice pair of bookends. They’re a matched set.” Kate shrugged. “But
again, he’s like a brother, so I don’t look at him and see cute.”
“Wow. How sad for a girl to be surrounded by hotness and be so oblivious.”
“I’ll tell you what. Play your cards right, and I’ll introduce you. Then you can
decide for yourself,” Kate said.
“Are they college guys?”
“Not anymore. Actually…Jon turns twenty-four in a couple of months.”
“That’s the stuff my dreams are made of.”
Kate threw her empty gym bag by the closet. “What’s wrong with the guys here?”
“Nothing. I just like to keep a long list of potentials, so I can make an informed
and well-rounded choice.” Sam raised her eyebrows several times.
Kate laughed. “Hurry up. I’m so hungry, I’m about to eat my volleyball.”
“I won’t tell Coach you said that. That’s worse than kicking one.” Sam grabbed a
clean towel from a nearby box and chucked it at Kate. “And, I’m not going anywhere
with you until you shower.”
* * *
After an introduction to the strange, universally known college dish called
mystery meat, Kate and Sam went to explore their new surroundings.
Home to fifteen hundred students, the Simpson College campus covered an
entire city block. The stately old buildings stood as guardians on the perimeter, creating
the illusion that time stood still a century ago in this protected community. The only
opening in the fortress was a grassy clearing between the campus security building and
the men’s dorm. This was the spot where many a spontaneous game of football or
Frisbee golf had been played. In the center of campus was a hundred year old fountain
© J.S. Deaton 2006

The Call – A Journey of Discovery
Page 8
surrounded by stone benches. The grounds were plentiful with oak, elm, and maple
trees, some already beginning their change to fall glory. The lush grass was
meticulously groomed, and large pots of red geraniums dotted the sidewalks.
Kate and Sam made a complete lap around the campus and stopped by the
“I’m going to change and head to the gym, how ‘bout you?” Kate said.
“I’m going to check out the student center in the dining hall.”
“The student center, or the students?”
Sam grinned and turned on her heel, without a word.
Kate shook her head and went in the opposite direction, toward the women’s
residence. She needed to keep busy until this ache in her chest let up. She was certain
that Jonathan was right. College would be fun – if only she could get through these first
few days.
As she entered her room, a beam of light from the hallway fell across her desk. A
framed photograph of her with Jace and Jonathan stood amid the mess of a half empty
box. Kate smiled, remembering the early summer day they’d spent at the lake, boating
and water skiing. The guys were bare-chested and buff, and she looked fit in her dark
blue bathing suit. All were suntanned, with smiles that radiated their joy of life. Kate
was in the middle, her arms draped casually around her two best friends in the whole
She missed th em desperately.
Kate walked to her desk and ran her fingertips down the picture frame. This was
her family. Kate’s father had died when she was an infant. Her mom died when she was
only six, and Kate barely remembered her. The sad tragedy of an automobile accident
took her from them. She didn’t know how Jonathan and Jace had managed to raise her
when they were little more than children themselves, but they’d somehow provided
everything she needed and seen to it that she felt loved and safe.
Amid her own grief, Kate also felt sad for Jace. He, too, lost his parents when he
was young, and then he’d lost someone he’d come to think of as a mother.
© J.S. Deaton 2006

The Call – A Journey of Discovery
Page 9
Kate focused on his handsome face. “You’re a good man, Jace. I’d tell you how
wonderful you are, if I knew it wouldn’t go straight to that big, fat head of yours.” She
chuckled softly and turned toward the closet.
After changing into knit pants and a tank shirt, Kate returned to the gymnasium
and went in search of the multipurpose room she’d seen in the diagram at the entrance.
If she’d read the map correctly, it was near the volleyball practice courts.
Kate took one wrong turn, did a little backtracking, and finally located the room.
She rotated the dial on the dimmer switch, and the area was bathed in soft light. The
space was about sixty square feet and completely empty. The floor was cool and spongy
beneath her bare feet.
She padded to the middle of the floor and began her nightly ritual. The
movements resembled the rhythmic form of Tai Chi or yoga, but she had added several
combination kicks taught to her by Jonathan over the years. Kate had started training at
age eight when Jonathan insisted she learn the disciplines of the martial arts for her
own growth, and because he felt it was important for her to know how to defend herself.
He was an excellent and patient teacher. Along with Jace, the three had trained in their
own unique form for many years.
As her breathing slowed, Kate opened her eyes and circled the room, the picture
of grace and strength. She performed several long, slow stretches; then pointed her left
leg behind her, bringing it straight up as she bent to touch her nose to her right knee.
She placed her hands on the floor, palms flat. She gradually rose from this position,
lifting her torso and lowering her left leg back to the floor.
Kate startled and stepped to catch her balance, her concentration broken.
“I’m sorry. I thought you heard me come in.”
In the muted light she could barely make out the man’s form, which almost filled
the doorway. He was dressed in cargo pants, shiny combat boots, and a turtleneck
sweater—all black. He leaned on the doorjamb, his muscular arms folded across a well-
defined chest.
© J.S. Deaton 2006

The Call – A Journey of Discovery
Page 10
He stepped into better light, and Kate saw a patch on his upper right arm. It bore
the insignia of the Simpson Campus Security. She watched him with uncertain eyes.
“Commander Riley Flynn. I lead the campus security team.” His voice was
smooth and his walk self-assured.
“Kate Arnold. Freshman.” She continued to study him. He looked young for a
security officer; he could easily pass for an upperclassman or grad student.
He came closer, and Kate saw that his eyes were green. They were warm and
sincere, and very much reminded her of Jonathan’s. She dropped her gaze. I’m just
“I was making my rounds. Getting ready to lock up. The gym closes at eleven,
and we prefer that female students not be here alone.”
Her gaze returned to his. “Oh, I’m sorry.”
Riley’s green eyes twinkled as he smiled down at her. “No harm done.” Flynn
swung his arm wide in invitation. “I can see that you probably don’t need an escort, but
I’m heading in your direction. I’d be happy to drop you at the ladies’ dorm.”
Kate realized he wasn’t giving her the option to stay, but at least he was trying to
make her think he was. “Okay.” She shrugged. “I’m done here.”
She waited in the chilly night air while Commander Flynn locked the gym doors.
Kate enjoyed the mournful buzzing of the cicadas and listened to a breeze rustle the
leaves. A full moon lighted their way.
As they approached the math and sciences building, Riley broke the silence.
“How was your first day on campus?”
“Not bad. I didn’t get lost. My roommate is great, and I haven’t cried.” Kate
cringed. She hadn’t meant to say that last part.
“A little. Training helps take my mind off things.”
Riley walked casually, his arms at his sides, but Kate saw his eyes constantly
moving, assessing their surroundings.
“Commander, is everything all right?”
“Yes. Sorry. Most people don’t notice my on duty mode. You’re very observant.”
© J.S. Deaton 2006

The Call – A Journey of Discovery
Page 11
Kate looked over her shoulder. “Is this campus dangerous?”
“Not at all. It’s my job to see to it.” He paused. “But it’s always a good idea to be
prepared. My team holds regular self-defense classes for students. The next one is in a
couple of weeks. You should come.”
“Is it required?”
“Well, no.”
Kate caught the hint of a smile at the corner of his mouth.
The smile broadened. “I have a feeling you could show my guys a thing or two.”
Kate shrugged and looked at the ground. The heat she felt in her cheeks betrayed
her pleasure at his compliment. “I’m really looking for a training partner, but I guess it
wouldn’t hurt to check it out.”
“The class is listed on the registration schedule. Come. I’ll see if I can get you a
lead on a partner.”
“Sounds like a plan.” Kate knew Jonathan would be pleased.
They arrived at the dorm, and Riley bid her goodnight. He watched her weave
among the sofas and chairs that filled the main lounge. She disappeared through the
stairway door.
Flynn jogged past the men’s dorm, across the grassy clearing, and to the back
entrance of the campus security building. Once inside, he went to his office and closed
the door. He pulled out his cell phone and dialed. A voice message played. The beep
“It’s Flynn. I made contact with Kate tonight. She has no idea who I am. Call
© J.S. Deaton 2006

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