Before becoming a Christian, Mark Ryker ran with a bad crowd and broke hearts. Including his father's. Now a successful businessman, Mark has come home to Corinthia, Georgia, to make amends. But no one will forgive him. So when the widowed mother of four renting his dad's run-down house needs help fixing up the place, Mark gets to work. Pretty Hannah Hughes and her sweet kids have him longing to be part of the clan, but Hannah isn't ready to let go of the past. Still, they are working together on a house full of hope--and that's all Mark needs.
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Asking for forgiveness from a man like Redd Ryker was sure to backfire.
But Mark Ryker had returned to Corinthia, Georgia, to apologize to his father anyway. Because God had hit him with conviction far more compelling than any fear of Redd's reaction.
As Mark traveled through the overarching trees along the long, winding driveway, he recalled the peace it used to give him as a boy. But for several years before he moved away, even the calm, light-speckled green tunnel offered no relief from his grief. From his guilt.
He braked and stared at the house that had sheltered Rykers for generations. He couldn't believe the poor condition of his dad's home. Home. Not quite a fitting term for the house during Mark's teenage years, yet he did have some good memories here.
Memories from before his twin brother, Matt, died.
The overgrown front walk led to a house, once a cheery yellow, which now sat sallow and peeling. The roof needed replacing. When he stepped onto the porch, he found a shutter tilted at an angle, and a screen door that didn't sit flush. The pair of old rocking chairs, the one place his parents used to seem happy, were mildewed and caked with bird droppings. Why had the old man let the house go? Finances? Lack of interest after Mark's mother had died?
He blocked the pain that thoughts of his mom dredged up, took a deep, fortifying breath and knocked.
A few seconds later, footsteps approached from the yard. He turned and stood face-to-face with his father. He hadn't seen the man in fifteen years, and every one of those years was now etched in his craggy face.
Stooped and rail-thin, the man who once intimidated Mark looked far older than his sixty-five years. But the hard golden eyes that perfectly matched Mark's hadn't changed a bit. They revealed his anger even while registering shock.
The hope Mark had cautiously nurtured over the past few weeks as he'd prayed and prepared for this moment died a quick death, shoving his stomach to his knees.
His father opened his mouth to say something, but then he closed it into a tightly drawn frown, shutting off the words.
The first move would be Mark's. "Hi, Dad."
A flash of emotion flickered in the man's eyes, but then vanished as if snuffed out. "What are you doing here?"
If Mark said he'd found the Lord and had felt led to come, his dad would probably laugh him out of town, or worse, accuse him of sacrilege. "Can I come in for a minute?"
Redd's eyes flickered to the front door. "I don't see why you'd show up here in your highfalutin clothes and suddenly need to set foot inside a house you abandoned years ago." He turned to walk away.
The man Mark remembered as hard and unfeeling paused, his shoulders hunched. Almost as if turning Mark away was difficult.
Mark knew he had to act fast. "I'd like to apologize. For so many things. To--" The words lodged in his throat. Words that were difficult. How could he explain his fierce independence, that he'd stayed away from everyone he cared about, determined to achieve success, to make them proud before he returned? "I need to ask your forgiveness for all the trouble I caused. And for leaving like I did."
Redd's gaze locked onto Mark's and narrowed. "Why now?" The question oozed suspicion as much as venom.
Okay, Lord. Here's my opportunity. "Because I've changed. God has forgiven me, and I'm trying to live a new life."
For the first time, his dad drew up to his full height and squared his shoulders. "How dare you?...
A House Full of Hope
By: Missy Tippens