Author: Lisa J Lickel
Genre: Inspirational Romantic Science Fiction
Parhelion—prisms dogging the sun. it’s a rainbow hope of reaching the stars for a small group of colonists preparing to preserve life.
Maeve Michels hit earth hard, falling in love with a former Air Force test pilot. No longer in the military, Harry Kane’s mysterious work as a consultant for a space engineering company piques Maeve’s interest. Maeve’s sixth sense says there’s more to Harry than he’s telling her, but with the world about to fall apart, she must decide to trust him with her future. Harry is keeping a secret from Maeve—he has to, or his one chance at being a real hero goes up in flames with the rest of the planet. His assignment: get her to join the program, and him. Hopefully willingly.
With war no longer empty threats and posturing, Maeve and Harry are about to take part in the most important experiment in human history. Bigger secrets threaten not only their survival but their fragile co-existence with the cosmos.
If you could choose, what kind of a world do you want to live in?
Al raised his head and flashed into serious mode with narrowed eyes and a less delicate tone. “You’re your father’s daughter, all right. It’s no secret that things are going very badly around the world. It’s not only economic, but philosophical. Four international groups of people have been studying the problem for two generations.” He stood and waved his hand at the door and by inclusion, the whole compound. “The result of the second and third generation living in partially closed, almost self-sustaining, community.”
That made more sense than anything else he’d said.
“Almost,” she said under her breath. Aloud, “You’re saying these people have been living in this compound for…decades?”
“And the kids…you?”
He shook his head.
“Are the product of living inside…”
He seemed to want her to go on.
“They’ve never been outside? Do they understand?”
Al took her arm again. “There’s much more than that.”
Spots swirled in front of Maeve’s eyes. She fumbled for the chair and sat again. No way could this have been a world-wide secret, not the way satellites and uber-nosy reporters could read under every sort of skin. No way… “Why didn’t Harry tell me this directly?” she said faintly.
The doctor stared back into the empty room. This time Maeve waited, trying very, very hard not to let her imagination run beyond the solar system.
“He was on assignment,” Al said.
Maeve heard the reluctance in his voice, disappointment. With Harry? Her? Himself for sharing the big secret? The truth?
Then it sunk in. Maeve was the assignment. Figured. She filed that cozy thought away for later when she could confront Harry first hand.
“Something happened,” he said, a far-away look shadowing his face. “Something we didn’t expect.”
Maeve knew it was bad when the shrink couldn’t face his shrinkee. She probably didn’t want to hear and started to count floor tiles to calm herself.
“Anyway…” Al lightened up and switched back into serenity mode. Maybe they could do yoga for an hour, clear their heads. “Harry began to work on the habitat project, as you know. He met your father, and you…and the rest is history.”
Liar. What was going on here might have been two generations to them, but was only the beginning for her. Maeve folded her arms and twisted on the swivel chair, turning herself counter-clockwise. “Did the ‘something we didn’t expect’ keep you…us…” Might as well throw all in if he invoked Gervas. “Grounded? Or send us out there?” She stopped and stared at him. “To space?”
She cocked her head, assessing him. No blink, no turning away, no facial muscle twitches. Truth. “This isn’t a military operation, yet Fran wishes it was?”
Al leaned against a desk and crossed one ankle over the other, studying the toe of his boot.
“Why am I here?”
At that he laughed. “The same reason we all are. You are loved, Maeve.”
Maeve stopped whirling the chair though the abrupt stop threatened her stomach. “I…I don’t know what…Harry loves me. My parents love me.” She stood abruptly, sending the chair back to the desk. “I still need to get out of here.”
“Let me call Harry.” Al reached for the desk phone.
He stopped mid-button press and looked up, creases between his brows.
“I have to think about things. I…” She bit her lip, willing herself to toughen up. “I’m not a prisoner, am I? After all, you didn’t tell me anything, at least about this place that I didn’t already know. I have no secrets to sell. I don’t even know for sure where I am.”
The doctor continued to hold the phone.
“Could I just go for a walk? Outside for a couple of hours? Are there recreational trails nearby, if we’re close to Boulder?”
At his cautious, curious, speculative expression, Maeve went both flaming and icy wondering if she had made a huge mistake. “Can I…can I come back? I have to know, at least one last time, that this is real. I won’t meet with anyone, try to call anyone. I understand. It’s all right. Maybe I could talk to my dad, though? Since he already…but I don’t need to. It’s just that…since he knows…” She was babbling. Maybe they wouldn’t let her back. They probably shouldn’t. Was she one of those panic-attack people who would try to open the door of a jetliner at 60,000 feet? She couldn’t come back, at least she didn’t think easily, from a space station, if she needed a breather. He’d deem her unsuitable for the project, no matter what Harry’s tests said.
The kids who’d been born and raised here hadn’t even understood they had choices.
Al straightened and set the phone back in the handset. “No one is keeping you here,” he repeated. “I have to make a couple of calls, that’s all. Do you want to leave a message for Harry?”
If money were no object, where would you go for a Spring Break vacation and why?
I always wanted to visit the International Space Station ever since I watched it go up and be built. The excitement of going into space and establishing colonies elsewhere has seemed a natural next step. I’m getting past the age where I’m as excited or in good enough shape, but honestly, if money is no object, I want to get on one of those space tourist rockets and experience the ride and visit the station.
What’s your favorite thing about Spring and why?
I love the change of seasons. I live in the northern Midwest, Wisconsin, and couldn’t imagine living in a place that didn’t drastically change environments every few months. In my part of the world Spring is the bridge between snow, ice, freezing temperatures and the amazement of green grass, buds on trees, and being able to go outside without a heavy coat.
Spring Break Bookapalooza Giveaway:
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Runs April 1 – 30
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Lisa Lickel is an author, editor, and mentor who lives with her husband in the rolling hills of western Wisconsin. Surrounded by books and dragons, she writes inspiring fiction both short and full-length, including mysteries, romance and family drama, feature articles, and radio theater. She belongs to the Wisconsin Writers Association, the Chicago Writers Association and is a writing coach at Novel-in-Progress Bookcamp & Retreat. Lisa loves to encourage new authors through mentoring, speaking, and leading workshops. Lisa also is an avid book reviewer and blogger, and a freelance editor. Find more at www.LisaLickel.com.