Home > One Hundred Lessons

One Hundred Lessons
Author: Kelly Collins

Chapter One

 

 

Mercy Meyer wasn't looking for Prince Charming. At thirty-five, she'd kissed one too many toads to know he didn't exist. The idiot she married had warts and all and look where that got her.

Three piles of bills sat on her table. There were those she couldn't pay, those she would pay—eventually, and the companies who could kiss her behind.

The largest stack was from the first pile. She chipped at them little by little, but each one she sent money to, only opened the wound of her husband's betrayal more. It was a good thing he was dead because if she knew then what she did now, she would consider murder a viable alternative to the pain she suffered.

The squeak of the chair, grinding against the hardwood, made her teeth clench.

"How does an insurance salesman have the worst policy ever?" Randy once told her that life with him would always be interesting. She picked up the tallest pile of mail, at least twenty envelopes deep, and tossed them across the kitchen.

Marriage was supposed to be a partnership where two people worked together for common goals. These days, she worked to avoid late charges and hits to her credit score.

"What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong filled the air, and she picked up her phone. Did Mom have a sixth sense and know when she was down in the pits of despair?

"Hey, Mom."

"Good morning, Mimi," her mother said. The nickname came from the first two letters of her full name. Mercy Meyer—me and me, but when you put the two together, you didn't get Mimi but meme, which had a whole different meaning. She tried to explain it to her mom one day, but Milly Meyer lived by her own set of rules.

"How are you, Mama?"

"Can't complain. Daddy got me up early." She giggled, and Mercy knew exactly what her parents were up to that morning.

"You two give me hope."

How long had it been for her? She couldn't remember the last time she enjoyed herself between the sheets. Although Randy had the perfect name for sexual shenanigans, he was far from perfect at giving her lady bits a thrill.

Between his "late nights" and "conferences" and "consultations," he didn't have room in his schedule to make love to his wife because he was doing it with everyone else. Where had she gone wrong?

If she learned one thing during the whole debacle, it was she couldn't trust her judgment when it came to men. For her, it was a game of straws, and she managed to choose the short one each time.

She pulled her bucket list from the kitchen drawer and added earth-shattering O to the next blank line on the page. That came after finding a good man and becoming a mother. Her priorities were definitely askew. Should the big O really come after finding a man and becoming a mother? She drew an arrow to tuck it between the entries.

"Are you still there, Mimi?"

"Yes, sorry. I dropped some mail." She bent over and gathered what she tossed across the floor.

"Well, I want you to know, you deserve a good man too.”

"You know any?" It wasn't that she was opposed to trying her hand at love again. She cast her line into the pond a few times, but men were always looking for something different. She was a salmon egg when they were looking for a worm or power bait.

"What happened to that bookstore owner? I thought you were setting your sights on him." Mama might be getting on in years, but she never forgets a thing.

Being the youngest of five, Mercy was an oops baby but loved as if she were the first. What her parents had was what she wanted—deep connection, passion, and a family to call her own.

"He found the love of his life in the diner. Natalie is a sweet girl and deserves something good too."

"Oh, honey, you deserve a man who appreciates you for who you are and what you offer."

"My prince will come." She wished she truly believed that.

"No, baby, don't wait for him to come. You need to get out there and find him yourself. Just set your standards high."

She turned the page of her notebook. "Okay, Mama, what should be on the top of the list?" She took a seat and readied her pen.

"Single."

Mercy swallowed the lump in her throat because single didn't mean faithful.

"Okay, single and devoted. Who knew an insurance salesman could have groupies?" Randy wasn't a rock star, but there were several women at his funeral that Mercy didn't know, and their tears were too many for a casual acquaintance.

"Did I tell you about the time I was a groupie?"

It was hard to believe her mom was anything other than a housewife and mother of the year. "Is this the Kenny Loggins story or the Dan Fogelberg tale?"

"Both. The point is, maybe you should try being a groupie once. It's very freeing."

Mercy flipped the page back to her bucket list and put groupie on the top.

"There is a band living in town." With Samantha's band in Aspen Cove to record a new album, there were options, but she wasn't looking for temporary. She wanted a forever man.

"That's the spirit."

"Nowadays, there's more to being a groupie than following the band for a summer."

Her mother laughed out loud. It was a sound that brought back memories of game nights and firepits and s'mores.

"Oh, there was back then too. Nothing wrong with having a summer of love before settling down."

Mercy was done settling in her life. She settled for a lot of stuff, including a small wedding, a used car, and an apartment when she wanted a house. However, the last time she settled turned out to be a blessing in disguise because she would have been saddled with a mortgage payment if she hadn't.

"I still remember making love all night long on every surface in the room. I swear that's how I ended up with that slipped disc in my back," her mother said.

"Geez, now I have to wash my eyes out with soap and water to get rid of that vision of you and Kenny I conjured." Now that she thought about it, her older brother, Mike, kind of looked like Kenny Loggins. "Is Michael really Dad's?"

"Oh, honey, you know better than that. I didn't have Michael until Daddy and I were married over two years. Besides, your father wouldn't let me go to a concert alone once he learned of my wild ways, but as soon as your daddy entered my life, there wasn't anyone else I wanted. I mean, Elvis was dead, and Burt Reynolds was taken."

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