You might remember that I guest posted a couple of weeks ago on Reflections in Hindsight. Today, one of the founders is here to introduce us to her latest leading man. Join me in welcoming Lisa Lickel!
Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin writer who lives with her husband in a hundred and fifty-year-old house built by a Great Lakes ship captain. Surrounded by books and dragons, she writes inspiring fiction. Her novels include mystery and romance, all with a twist of grace. She has penned dozens of feature newspaper stories, short stories, magazine articles and radio theater. She is the editor in chief of Creative Wisconsin Magazine and loves to encourage new authors. Find her at LisaLickel.com.
Mark Roth is the male protagonist from my last novel, Meander Scar, a romance from Black Lyon.
Hello, thank you for letting me speak today. I’m Attorney Mark E. Roth. Although I’ve lived many places, I’ve always identified the most with Wisconsin, probably due to the memories I had when I lived here during my high school years. I earned a full scholarship to Georgetown and moved to the DC area for a good chunk of my life. After passing the bar in Virginia, I practiced with a very good company before things in my personal life got a bit skewed. I’d been engaged to a woman from the office. I thought we were headed in the right direction…but I guess we left our wedding date on the back burner too long. In reality, I knew I needed to come back to Wisconsin. I needed to help Ann, and so began to plan for my real future with her.
Despite some of the bad things that happened, like losing my kid brother Try in a car accident, Clayton was the place with my also my highest moments, like giving my heart to Christ when I was in high school, basketball, maturing physically in body and faith. I watched Mrs. Ballard go through a couple of years of living in a weird place, not knowing what happened to Mr. Ballard. I figured he just took off on her and the kid, Ritchie. She handled all the questions and Ritchie’s anger a lot better than I would have. What else could she do? And that’s where I wanted to step in. Seven years was plenty long enough. Time to push past the rest of the Ballards and get a finding for death. Ann needed the money, to move on. And I wanted it to be with me.
I’m pretty good at setting up the scene for the jury. I plan things out to the last jot. While I couldn’t be sure Ann would return my feelings, a man can’t gain the world if he won’t take the first step. Have you ever been so sure of something, so blessed by a calling that, no matter what anyone else said, you knew that what you were doing was the right thing? I knew there was something wrong about Gene Ballard’s family. I just didn’t expect Ann to get so shook that she felt like she couldn’t trust me. I used the situation, I know, I know…but it was the only way I could figure getting back into her life. She was the whole reason I came back, and no. No, loving someone isn’t wrong. The difference in our ages isn’t anyone’s business but ours. Love is ageless. That’s the point. That’s our story, Annie and me.
But when Annie…when that happened, I just walked and walked. Didn’t know how I was going to take my next breath. If it hadn’t been for Elle, I’d be fish food. You know, I could have walked right away. Gone anywhere, tried to forget the whole thing or treat it like a dream…a nightmare. A man does some soul-searching, it’s true. I don’t know any better way to say it. You look inside and you either come up empty, or you take what you have in both hands and don’t let go, no matter how bumpy the ride. Life gets so dark when all your dreams vaporize. If you don’t have faith or people to hold you up, like Ann’s dad held onto me and wouldn’t let go, you have nothing at all. I wouldn’t have asked for such a test of anyone’s faith; certainly not mine, nor hers. I love her so much. I know now that we can make it through anything, even time.
“Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its ardor unyielding at the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned.” Song of Songs 8:6-7
You can go home again. But facing the consequences may leave a forever scar.
Ann Ballard’s husband, Gene, has to be dead. After seven years of no word, no clues, she is more than ready to get her stagnant life flowing again in a positive direction. When former neighbor Mark Roth, now a respected attorney, shows up and wants to help with the legal aspects, she wonders if she can accept his attractive offer.
Mark has loved Ann forever. She was the only one who supported him when his own family was unavailable. Through gentle wooing, Mark convinces Ann that his dream of happiness for them can come true. Together they face disapproving family members and the legal maneuverings of Gene’s elite family. In a bizarre twist of fate, Ann learns what happened to her husband. How can she tell the truth when it may ruin more lives–hers included?
Just when Ann and Mark overcome the last hurdle, their lives hit the hardest rock of all. Now it’s Mark’s turn to be truthful to Ann, himself, and the faith he professes.