Karen is reunited with her college sweetheart after thirty years apart only to learn a step-son she’s never met has filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against her for back child support. Her decision to fight the shadows from her past puts her marriage and life in jeopardy.
Karen Williams was fifty-four and divorced for so long she’d given up hope for that special marriage everyone talked about, but few probably had experienced. Then, a year ago, her life changed. Her college sweetheart charged back into her life, acting as if he’d never stopped loving her. He was waiting for her at the altar now as she touched up her makeup in the bride’s room of her church.
She hurried to apply mascara, but her right hand wouldn’t be still. The pencil hit the table with a soft clunk. Tears followed. Tears from nowhere. A glance into the mirror showed mascara running down both cheeks. What was happening?
Was it that feeling of unworthiness that crept in when she least expected it? Couldn’t be. God had forgiven her long ago, but she would never forget what had happened. Second thoughts? Definitely not. She loved Brian and he loved her. He would never do anything to hurt her. Not again.
Brian Donelson looked at his watch again. She was now officially late. The buzz in the congregation meant he wasn’t the only one who sensed something was wrong. All his friends and Karen’s friends were laughing softly, but he knew there was no reason to be concerned. Not yet. Surely she’d walk up the aisle in a few minutes.
Perhaps he should announce a delay. Ardis Twiss stared at him from her perch on the organ bench as if asking what to do. He shrugged and she kept playing.
All the turmoil he’d endured the past thirty years came back to him now. His sin. His self-loathing. His unhappiness with his life. He accepted that God had forgiven him for what he’d done, so why was he thinking about it now? He feared she’d changed her mind about marrying him.
Phil was all decked out in a tux with his gray hair complementing his caramel-colored skin. He took his best man duties seriously. He whispered to the pastor, just loud enough for Brian to hear, “We’re checking on the bride.” He then gave Brian a questioning look.
Pastor Jim Dunlap merely nodded and waited patiently. He didn’t seem flustered at all. Maybe this was nothing new to him.
Brian had a sudden image of Karen driving away from the church with a corner of her long white wedding gown sticking out from under the driver’s side door. He remembered she’d told him she wasn’t wearing a traditional bridal gown. His imagination adjusted to show her in a suit, but still in her car speeding away from the church. He saw himself running after the car holding the bride’s bouquet high in the air, yelling to her that she’d forgotten to get married so she could toss the flowers to all the single women. His legs were like rubber as he moved them faster and faster without going forward.
He took in a deep breath, tested his legs, and shook his head to erase the vision. Could their relationship survive one more difficulty? He hoped so.
Karen was glad she’d picked a dress she could wear again instead of a bridal gown. She’d worn a long white one when she married Steve only to have their marriage end in divorce.
“Well, is there going to be a wedding today, or not?” The question came from a large, some say full-figured, woman standing in the doorway. The floral dress she wore wasn’t much different from her everyday attire at the library, but it appeared to be newer.
“I’m glad you’re here, Liz,” Karen said, standing. “I need your help.”
Karen knew Liz was a hugger. Still, she was caught off guard when Liz put her arms around her and held her tight.
“What can I do, darlin’?” Liz asked as she let go of Karen and moved back to look into her eyes.
Karen’s hands quivered ever so slightly as she gripped them together in front of her chest. “I need to talk to Brian.”
That was all it took. No questions asked. Liz was heading out the door when she called back over her shoulder, “I’ll get him.”
He entered the room soon afterwards.
“Oh, Brian. I’m sorry for holding up the wedding, but I have to tell you something.”
“First, let me say I love you deeply and I hope what I have to say doesn’t change your mind about marrying me.”
“Nothing could do that,” he said.
“Don’t be so quick to answer. Remember all the little and not so little surprises we had for each other during the past year? Well, this is one I wanted to tell you. I just didn’t know how to say it.”
“You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to. It doesn’t make a difference to me. I love you and want to marry you. No matter what.”
She smiled and hugged him. “I’m glad you feel that way. But, after so many years of keeping this secret, I didn’t know what to do.”
“Why are you bringing it up now?”
She gazed at those eyes she loved so much and kissed him. “Because I told you there were no more secrets.”
Brian smiled as he took her in his arms and held her close. “That’s all? No problem. Let’s get married.” He kissed her back. “Of course I want to hear all about it later. Okay?”
They turned and left the room, walking hand in hand down the hall toward the sanctuary.
Sidney W. Frost is a former Stephen Minister, and a member of his church choir at First United Methodist Church in Georgetown, Texas. He has served on the session at a Presbyterian church, and has been on the vestry at several Episcopal churches.
While singing with the Austin Lyric Opera Chorus, he was in 42 productions. He and his wife, Celeste, sing with the San Gabriel Chorale and have been in several Berkshire Festivals.
Until May, 2010, he was an Adjunct Professor at Austin Community College where he taught computer courses. He received the adjunct teaching excellence award in 2005.
While attending the University of Texas in the 1960’s he worked part-time at the Austin Public Library driving a bookmobile after completing service in the U.S. Marines. His first novel idea involved a bookmobile librarian and, although that book was never completed, he has included the librarian and the bookmobile in all his books.
He is an active member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and the San Gabriel Writers’ League.
He has a Master of Science degree from the University of Houston and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California at Long Beach.
Awards for his first novel, Where Love Once Lived, include First Place in the 2007 SouthWest Writers Contest, First Place in the 2007 Writers’ League of Texas Novel Manuscript Contest, Third Place in the Fourteenth Annual Lone Star Writing Competition, Northwest Houston Chapter of the Romance Writers of America, and Finalist in the 2006 Yosemite Writers Contest.
The Vengeance Squad (Kindle edition) has been a bestseller on Amazon.com in the Religious Mystery category.