"Do you think we'll still get our happily ever after?"
It was Landry asking the question as he sat in the booth across from Mercy in Johnny C's Diner.
"You remember," Mercy smiled, impressed by his sentimental memory.
"I still have a few brain cells left," Landry grinned.
He was referring to the Saturday afternoon when they were twelve and they went to the movies together in Greenville to see a cute little romantic movie between two kids. The movie had a happy ending and when they left the theater, Mercy asked Landry if he thought they'd get their own happily ever after.
"Of course," Landry replied confidently. "We are destined."
The funny thing was, Mercy believed him. She honestly believed that they were going to end up together because they were meant to be together. Everybody said they were perfect together as friends, cute and compatible. It never occurred to Mercy that Landry would make other choices that would ruin their happily ever after – at least until now.
"I had a miscarriage not long after I got married," Mercy told Landry as they ate their meals.
"Oh, Mercy, I'm so sorry," Landry sighed.
"It set the tone for our marriage," she said sadly. "My husband didn't seem to have high hopes about anything after that happened. Something about our relationship felt off. He wasn't as sympathetic or understanding or even tender in his attitude toward me. And my trust and faith had been ruined because of losing the baby. I didn't want to take any risks. I got depressed and he couldn't handle all the changes."
"We never know how tragedies will affect us," Landry said.
"Certain things do something to a person," Mercy agreed. "For me, it became a burden too great to bear. I had no expectations about myself or my marriage. I became anxious because I had planned a life based on what I had expected to be true and real. Hope is hard to find when all your dreams are shattered."
"For me, the future was cast in darkness from the time I was fourteen," Landry said. "I thought booze and drugs would protect me from feeling pain, disappointment and responsibility. Instead, I dashed every dream I ever had."
"Including ours." There. She said it. Finally. She put it in front of him once and for all.
"You had planned a life based on what you had expected to be true and real…with us," Landry realized.
"Yes," she replied.
"My life in recovery has taught me that we always get second chances," Landry said softly. "If others are willing to forgive and show mercy." He stared at her across the table for a long moment. "Are you willing to forgive me? Show me mercy?"
"I was never mad at you," Mercy said. "I was mad because life is unfair."
"Do you believe in redemption?" Landry wanted to know.
"I don't expect to become a perfectly happy person overnight but I want to embrace something very fundamental to being alive," she answered.
"Suffering can bring a bond between souls," Landry said. "We've both suffered greatly in our lives but if we are willing to be vulnerable with each other maybe our destiny can still be realized. I wanted to protect myself from pain but pain can't be avoided so I still have hope that, in spite of suffering, that things will be okay as long as I have Faith and Mercy."
"Mercy me?" she asked.
"If you will show mercy with me," he said.
"Why don't you mercy me?' Mercy asked in a clearly sexual tone and Landry's eyes went wide when he recognized his sexual harassment from years ago.
"Let's give it some time," he said cautiously. "We need to get to know each other again. Date. Go to the movies. Go to church. Spend time together."
"Then will you mercy me?" She asked, her eyebrows raised.
"If you'll be merciful with me, my love," he answered.
"Well, what do you know?" Mercy replied with a happy smile. "We get our happy ending after all!"
A/N – I always try to throw at least one nude or sex scene in most stories just to make it real – or give the reader a moment of intimacy – but this story really doesn't need one.