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Chapter Two
New Mercies

"Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me."
~ Psalm 27:7 ~

Stunned shock arrested Terry's breath, and for several long moments, he just sat there, the sound of that one wild scream still echoing in his brain. Could it be possible that a human had made that unearthly sound, let alone this slight woman who weighed nothing at all in his arms? Now quiet, and slumped against the seat, she showed no signs of life. Terry put out a hand, touched her shoulder to get a response.

"Hey, wake up." When she didn't move, Terry felt a swallow squeeze its way down his dry throat. Please, God, let her be alive. Don't let this woman die in my jeep. How will I ever explain this to Henry Peterson? Terry pictured the handcuffs circling his wrists, the pained look on Sheriff Peterson's face as Terry tried to explain what happened. "She took one look at me, screamed like a banshee, then keeled over in the seat. Honest."

Pushing back any rational fear for himself, Terry lifted an ice-cold hand, rubbed the unresponsive fingers between his palms. "Ma'am? You need to wake up, and let me know how badly you're hurt."

A small groan eased Terry's apprehension. The hood fell back as she turned her head against the seat, allowing an unobstructed view of her face for the first time. The sight of her made Terry's breath catch. He questioned his eyes, wondering if he had plucked an angel unawares from the mud, and not a mortal like himself. Maybe that explained the unearthly cry. Rubbing his eyes, Terry looked at her again, trying to decide whether he was going crazy, or just in bewildered shock from the scream.

Faint silvery moonlight filtered through the clouds, lending a storybook air of wonderment to Terry's already dazed mind. He saw a slender face, delicate skin, even features that could of come straight from the pages of one of the triplets' much-beloved books of fairytale princesses. Maybe this was no angel at all, but a fairytale princess come to life. With that crown of blonde hair and cute little nose, maybe Terry had found Sleeping Beauty outside her castle walls.

Angel to princess, Terry sighed at his own nonsense. This is what came from reading one too many children's books to the girls.

Without warning, a pair of large, dramatic eyes blinked open. They stared at Terry in such profound horror, it startled him even more. He wondered if she saw something frightening over his shoulder, and turned only to find his own reflection in the window.

With a sharp gasp, Sleeping Beauty twisted in her seat. She tugged at the passenger door, and before Terry could stop her, it swung out into the downpour. She leaned through the opening, but lacking strength, tumbled onto the ground with a splash and a cry of pain. Terry burst from the driver's side, ran around to collect the woman who was behaving as though she'd lost her mind.

Maybe Sleeping Beauty was off her medication.

A frantic arm pushed away his hands when he stooped to lift her from off the ground.

Terry wiped the rain from his eyes, stayed crouched and watched in bewilderment as the woman moved to her knees, struggling to stand but unable to get upright.

"You're going to hurt yourself!" he shouted. "Let me get you back into the jeep, and I'll take you to a hospital."

"No." The word sounded definite, as though her mind was made up and no amount of talking could persuade her otherwise.

By now, Terry was shivering convulsively, having given his coat to the princess who knelt in the rain. She stared at the ground, her frame shaking with cold and something else Terry couldn't quite place.

With a stab of reality, Terry realized it was fear. She was afraid of him.

"Sorry, I forgot to introduce myself," he grinned, hoping it would encourage her to calm down. "My name's Terry Davis. I live nearby with my family, and I work with computers for a living. You can trust me."

The woman turned her head. The sarcasm in that glance was easy to recognize.

"Okay, so that's no reason to trust me, but I'm turning to ice as we speak. I need to get into the jeep, and so do you. How about it?"

She made no answer, just sank forward in a lifeless heap-- face-first, into a large puddle.

Before she drowned in two inches of rainwater, Terry lifted her back into the vehicle. This time, he made no effort to revive her. He snapped on her seat belt, started the engine, then turned up the heater to its highest setting. Maybe doctors frightened her, and that was why she refused to go to a hospital-- Terry didn't know-- he only knew that if he couldn't take her there, it would have to be a homeless shelter in Watertown. If he could find one with empty beds this late at night. A recovering drug addict had once told Terry that those places tended to fill up early, for if you didn't grab a cot before nightfall, you often weren't able to get one at all.

Still numb with disbelief, Terry turned the jeep around to head for his little-used apartment in Chaumont. He thought of taking Madison home to John and Izzy, but the thought of their kind but exasperated disapproval that he was "doing it again," prevented Terry from considering it any further. Besides, Terry had already put his dear friends through enough heartache, to last them a lifetime. No, Terry reasoned, he had gotten himself into this predicament, and he must get himself out.

An occasional moan from the passenger seat assured Terry that the woman still lived. Not that he felt anymore fear over her dying. Freezing and weak, and soaked through to her skin, she had too much fight left in her to be very hurt.

As for him... man, was he ever cold.

The three-mile drive into Chaumont couldn't go by fast enough for Terry. Getting off the main road, he navigated surface streets until coming to a wide, two story brick building. He parked, jumped from the jeep and ran to the shelter of the small porch above his apartment door. After shoving the key into the handle, Terry fumbled with the second lock. What a time to have remembered to put on the deadbolt! He shoved open the door, flipped on the light switch, then forced himself back into the rain to get the woman.

She moaned when he lifted her into his arms. He kicked the jeep door shut, then carried her into the apartment. The heat wasn't turned on, but it came as a welcome change from outside.

Through the small living room, around the half-bath, up the stairs to the second floor and straight ahead to the bathroom. He placed her, fully clothed, into the empty bathtub, turned on the overhead shower, twisting it to the warm position. She had done some thawing in the jeep, but her teeth rattled as liquid heat soaked her shoulder-length hair, his coat, and every stitch of clothing already sopping with rainwater.

Leaving her to the warm shower, Terry went to his bedroom, just down the short hall on the same floor, to change into dry clothes. He would have liked that shower, himself, but knew she needed it more.

He jerked clothes from the closet, dressed as quickly as he could. Grabbing a pair of sweatpants and a matching top from his dresser, he returned to the bathroom. Aside from her closed eyes, she was as he had left her. To his relief, the color had returned to her skin, giving her princess face a rosy glow of health.

"What's your name?" he asked.

She lowered her head, tucking her chin against her shoulder. Then the trembling returned.

Puzzled, Terry felt the spray of water from the shower. Still hot. Not too hot, but certainly comfortable. "Are you still cold? Here, put these on. You'll feel better when you're dry."

No response, not even when Terry placed the clothes near the bathtub and prepared to leave.

"No one is going to take advantage of you," he said, trying to assure her into relaxing a little. "You're safe here-- a whole lot safer than hitchhiking or sleeping out at the Old Mill Campground by yourself. You're welcome to stay the night, to use the phone and call your family, or a friend, to come and get you. If no one can, I'll give you money for bus fare so you won't have to hitchhike or place yourself in needless danger. In return, I ask you not to trash my apartment, or to take anything from it that doesn't belong to you. Except for the clothes by the bathtub. Those, you can keep. Fair enough?"

She remained silent.

"Nod your head, so I know you heard me."

A slight nod made him feel better.

"That's fine, then. Leave the wet clothes in the hall, and I'll put them in the wash." He swung the door shut, making sure he did it with enough noise to let the woman know he had gone.

"If I were in her shoes," Terry muttered as he trotted downstairs, "by myself, and with a stranger I didn't know, I'd probably be just as terrified as she is right now. It's understandable." Moving through to the end of the dining area, he turned right and entered the narrow kitchen. He filled a saucepan with water, placed it on the gas range, then twisted on the fire with a click-click. Even with dry clothes, the cold still clung to him, and he craved something warm in his belly to chase away the last of the chill.

He tore open two packets of sweetened cocoa powder, dumped them into two mugs. The cell phone in his hip pocket started singing the theme song to his favorite fly fishing show, "Bassin' the Weeds with Dennis." Not needing to check the number to know who was calling, Terry pulled out the phone, took a deep breath and answered the call.

"Hi, John."

"Hey, Terry. Is everything all right? When you didn't come home, I got concerned."

"No, I'm fine." Terry squeezed his eyes shut. He should have called John a long time ago; now the calmest person in the family was trying to hide the worry in his voice. "I'm just getting some things taken care of, but I should be home in an hour or two."

As hard as John must have been trying to conceal his concern, he couldn't mask a great sigh of relief. "And your friend from the road?"

"Is thawing out under a hot shower."

A long stretch of silence, then John sighed. Terry had mentioned a shower, and that could only mean one thing. The "friend from the road" was in Terry's apartment.

Sounds from upstairs had Terry looking up from the floor, where he had been staring holes in the brown kitchen linoleum. "Don't worry. I'll only have a houseguest for a day-- two at the most."

"It's your apartment, Terry." John blew out another sigh. "Just be careful, okay?"

A loud clatter sounded above Terry's head, followed by an odd scooting noise of something moving across bathroom tile.


"Huh? Oh, right. I'll be careful. Tell Izzy not to worry. Bye!" After switching off the gas range, Terry hung up on John as he hurried through the dining area, on his way to the stairs. Taking two steps at a time, Terry made a beeline for the bathroom door.

"What's going on in there?" he called.

No answer.

"You'd better speak up, or I'm coming in!" When his warning met with more silence, Terry tried the door handle and found it had been locked from the inside. He ran downstairs, headed back to the kitchen to search through the junk drawer for keys to the inside doors. Locating the key ring beneath a bag of open rubber bands, he cocked an ear to the floor above him, but heard nothing. Frowning, Terry ran upstairs.

It was awfully quiet up there.

He jammed the key into the handle, threw open the door.

At first, his mind didn't accept what he saw. A small shelf with decorative bottles he'd once been given as a housewarming present were scattered over the bathroom floor. The wicker laundry hamper under the shelf had been moved into the bathtub, beneath the single frosted window high above the shower. It was a narrow opening, made even more inaccessible by the need to climb on something to even look out. But the woman had managed it, slid open the window, and popped the screen. All that remained of Terry's houseguest was a sopping wet pile of clothes.

Horror reeled through Terry as he bolted from the bathroom, headed downstairs to the front door.

That window was two stories off the ground.

His heart racing faster than his feet, Terry rounded the apartment building. And there he saw her, two stories up, clinging to the side of the wall, her feet precariously balanced on the narrow decorative ledge that ran the entire length of the building.

Terry nearly dropped in his tracks. He wanted to shout to her to stay still, that he'd get her down but to not move an inch or she might fall. Not wanting to frighten her into doing just that, Terry ran to the apartment complex shed where the gardener kept his tools. Reaching for his keys, Terry realized he didn't have them. He'd given them to Lauren.

"Please, God, don't let her fall!" Terry panted as he ran to Lauren Moore's apartment. He banged on the door, and after several moments, a middle-aged woman in a bathrobe finally appeared.

"Terry? What's wrong?" she asked, cinching the robe shut as her sleepy-eyed husband came to see who had interrupted their sleep.

"I need the keys to the shed!" Terry paused to catch his breath. "I can't explain now, Lauren, but I need those keys I gave you-- the ones to the tool shed."

Bewildered, Lauren went to get the keys while her husband, Ralph, yawned and scratched his head.

"It sure is cold out," Ralph said, first looking at the vapor trails huffing from Terry, and then at Terry. "Is something wrong?"

"Not unless I don't get those keys." Terry forced himself not to shout into the house to hurry Lauren. She scurried to the front door, handed Terry the keys in question.

"When you get a moment, Terry, I need to talk to you about Mr. O'Shaughnessy's kitchen sink--"

"Later," Terry said, already speeding back to the shed. He unlocked the door, lifted out the ladder, kept up the prayers as he carried the heavy object around to the back of the building.

Thank God, she was still on the ledge, and not a large splatter on the ground. Her knees trembled, her body hugged the wall in a fierce spread-eagle against brick and mortar. The blood drained from Terry's head as he propped the ladder against the wall, to her right. When she made no move to reach for the ladder, he began climbing just as footsteps sounded behind him.

"What on earth?" came Lauren's voice, followed by an equally amazed Ralph's, "That woman must be crazy!"

No more than I am, Terry thought with numb disbelief as he neared the woman. He slowed, not wanting to frighten her into letting go before it was safe.

"Ma'am?" He tried to keep his voice calm, not alarmed and panicked as his heart kept telling him he was. "Try to move toward me, but don't look down. Can you do that?"

The woman closed her eyes, but didn't move or answer.

"You can't stay up here much longer. Your legs are cramping, your muscles are tiring, and you're bone cold. Thank God, the rain stopped, or your feet would have slipped off this ledge long before now. You must reach for the ladder."

The woman gasped as her balance shifted on unsteady legs, and when Terry moved behind her to stop her from falling backwards, she nearly let go. Ralph shouted that she was about to fall, but the woman regained her balance without Terry's help. Her steady refusal to accept help, bothered Terry. Why hadn't she accepted his arm, and used it to regain her balance, rather than falling back against the wall? Why risk so much when all that was needed was a steadying shoulder? The question puzzled him, but he remained silent as she at last reached for the ladder.

"Is she all right, Terry?" Lauren came to him as soon as he touched ground, Lauren's eyes wide with alarm. "Who is she, and what was she doing up there?"

Not really knowing how to answer, Terry replied the best he could by not saying much. "She's fine, I think. Just a bit shaken up."

The woman reached the bottom of the ladder, put one bare foot on the ground, then the other, as though she were stepping onto the moon, and not planet Earth. Her shoulders hunched forward, she hugged herself with both arms, all the while edging away from the group.

Ralph pointed his chin in her direction. "What's with her?"

"She's had a hard day," Terry said, as the woman turned her back on them and began to walk away. "Thanks for the keys, Lauren. I'll lock up the ladder and return them later."

"Sure, Terry, but--" Lauren was unable to finish, for Terry had walked off in the same direction as the woman. Before Terry was out of earshot, he heard Lauren tell her husband in a loud whisper, "That's nice, he's finally seeing someone. Whatever their fight's about, I hope they smooth things over before Terry winds up old and alone."

Terry walked faster before he heard one syllable more. A familiar pained sadness welled in his heart, the same pain that visited every time someone made an assumption about his life, his inability to attract anyone, the inevitable scolding over why he hadn't gotten married yet. He would straighten out Lauren's misunderstanding later, make a few remarks about his houseguest to stop further speculation, but the comments still hurt. Why can't people just accept the fact I'm going to be single for the rest of my life? he thought. I wish they'd get over it, and leave me alone.

The woman slowed, and Terry did likewise. Her frame swayed, she sank to her knees and Terry knew she had to be exhausted. He glanced over his shoulder, saw the Moore's had gone back into their apartment. Thank God for small favors.

At a careful walk, he approached the woman wearing his sweatpants and top. She had fallen back and was sitting on her feet, her arms still hugging herself in a death grip. Vapor trailed from her nose, her mouth, and when Terry came around to face her, he saw her cheeks were glowing bright pink from the cold.

"You look tired." Terry controlled his voice, gauged the way she slunk back at his approach and measured his forcefulness to avoid further scaring the woman. "You haven't eaten since dinner. You're freezing cold, you don't have any shoes or socks on, and if you don't find some shelter soon, you're going to come down with something nasty."

"Just leave me alone." The helplessness in those handful of words struck Terry as nearing despair.

To avoid towering above her and seeming more threatening, Terry squatted, got down on her level. He observed the small nose, the downturned eyes fringed with long lashes, the soft brilliance of a peaches and cream complexion. If she didn't get out of the cold soon, that healthy glow would fade right along with her.

"What's your name?" Terry asked in a quiet voice. He waited for an answer, strained to hear when her lips moved.


"Do you have a last name to go with that?"

Her chin tucked against her shoulder, and she remained silent.

Okay, he thought, you don't have to answer that. He tried to determine her age, pegged her for about twenty-five but couldn't be certain. Some people didn't look their age, and maybe she was one of them.

"Are you in any trouble?" Terry asked, cocking his head to one side to see her face better. "Are the police looking for you? Are you a runaway? Maybe escaping an abusive husband? There's shelters for battered women, places you can go to be safe and not have to worry about your husband as much."

No recognition, no flicker of awareness in those downturned eyes and tightly pressed lips.

Terry looked at her, gave her a small smile. "Not even close? Or maybe closer than you want me to know?" He sighed at the continued silence. "Look, Madison, you need to get inside, get yourself warm, and get some sleep. I live three miles from here with my family, so you can have the entire apartment to yourself."

Her mouth moved, the words tumbling out in a barely audible whisper. "I'm hungry."

"You are?" Terry was surprised. "What about that hamburger I left? If you're hungry, why didn't you go back for the food I placed under the tree?"

A futile sigh passed her lips. "The rich dog ate it."

"Pardon?" Terry leaned closer to hear better. "Rich dog?"

She nodded. "The one with the fancy collar. He tore up the bag, ate the food and only left me a slice of tomato." Hurt sounded in her voice. "I'm so tired."

"Come back to the apartment, and I'll fix you something to eat. All you need is a good night's sleep, and then you can face life in the morning. Things always look better in the morning."

"Not my life, mister. Bad is always bad, and morning just means it starts all over again."

"After that bold maneuver on the wall?" Terry grinned, even though he felt like sitting down and crying. "I have a hunch you're a lot braver than you feel. Tired-hungry is speaking right now, not you."

Her mouth stretched into a weary frown. "I keep asking God for help, but it doesn't come. What if I can't hold out until He answers?"

Terry regarded her a moment before answering. "Are you a Christian?"


"If the answer doesn't come," Terry reasoned, "it either means 'no,' or He's going to answer you in some other way than you thought."

Panic touched her face. "I don't think I can hold out much longer."

Even though frustration nibbled at Terry like a starving mouse working through cheese, he refrained from tossing back any kind of a retort. She had prayed for help, and here he was, offering money and a free place to sleep until her family came. What more did she want?

"God promises us that His mercies are new every morning," Terry said, trying to encourage her as best he could. "All we have to do is hold out until morning. Come on, it's not that far away-- just," he paused, glanced at his watch, "two hours till sunup. You can hold out until then, can't you?"

A defeated look faced off into nowhere, avoiding his direct gaze. "I thought it would be easier than this," she whispered, her voice so thick with disappointment, Terry felt her burden settle onto him as well. He didn't know what she spoke of, only her situation in general. Things didn't look good, he had to admit it, but he sure wasn't going to admit it to someone already grasping for hope.

"You can't stop, Madison." Terry's voice firmed as he spoke. "It's not over, until God says it is. If you had wanted to end things, you would have given up before now. Come on. Get up, and start putting one foot in front of the other." He reached to help her up, but she jerked away. "Okay, I won't touch you. But you need to get up. Now."

The forcefulness paid off, for Madison wobbled to her feet, her frame looking small in his oversized clothes.

Hands jammed into his pockets, Terry kept a careful distance as Madison took one slow step after another. For the first time, he noticed a limp to her stride. Maybe she had gotten hurt on the ledge, he thought, then realized that same limp had been there the day before, when he had followed her a short distance at the Old Mill Campground. It wasn't a severe hobble, but a noticeable one, once you were aware of it.

An image of an abandoned puppy dropped into Terry's mind. He wondered if someone had dumped her in Three Mile Bay, then took off without her. Maybe she had no family to call, and no one to come help her.

* * * *

For a brief moment, Madison didn't know which door belonged to the place she had just come from. Then she saw the light splashing onto the tiny front step, the door standing open in the night air.

She shivered, came to a stop without setting a toe inside.

The man who had called himself Terry, stopped as well, a few feet behind her back. She hated the feel of him watching her, as though he were trying to feel her out with just his eyes.

The way she saw it, there were only two options. Either go inside with this man, or stay out here and freeze to death.

What a choice.

With an audible sigh, Terry passed her without saying a word. She lurched to one side to give him plenty of room, then leaned through the doorway to see where he went. Terry moved down the length of the narrow apartment, turned right into a room she couldn't see.

Cold wind battered her body, sending her into enemy territory before she was ready. Once inside, she closed the door without making a sound to give away her presence.

She stood there, shivering on thick, gray, wall-to-wall carpet with no place to go. Tidy furniture and lightly textured white walls gave the apartment a classy atmosphere that made her feel out of place. A black leather couch faced a polished TV cabinet, while a matching chair sat next to a solid wood coffee table. Bookshelves lined the wall, along with silver photo frames crowded with people that were no doubt Terry's family. This guy must have money, she thought. He said he doesn't even live here, and it's this nice.

The thought didn't impress her very much. She didn't even bother to satisfy her curiosity by getting a closer look at the photos on the wall. She needed to get somewhere safe, away from HIM.

Then she saw the stairs. Madison calculated how quickly she could get up them, find a room, and lock the door. Terry was in the back. He couldn't run fast enough to catch her-- not if she was faster.

Her heart pounded as she bolted up the stairs. At the top, she passed the bathroom, fearful that when Terry needed to use the toilet, she would have to face him again. Instead, she rounded the banister, and went to the first door she saw.

It swung open with a small sigh, the hinges moaning like some stupid horror movie she'd once been gullible enough to sit through. It was dark in there, like a yawning chasm, ready to swallow her whole. The sound of a pan rattling downstairs forced her inside. She locked the handle, then collapsed against the door in a fit of weary relief.

Safe. Unless Terry had a key, or could knock down the door like they did on those cop shows. The thought made Madison weak.

God, don't let him get me, she prayed before closing her eyes. Exhausted, she fell asleep before squeezing out an "Amen."

* * * *

Worry nudged itself into Terry's mind as he stood at the kitchen stove, heating the last can of food left in the apartment. He normally didn't stay here, so the cupboards were bare.

A familiar feeling haunted him, as though he had just seen himself in someone else, or even worse, saw something in that person that reminded him of a dear friend he knew. Really, several friends. How many times had he met with any one of those telltale behaviors-- avoidance of eye contact, over-vigilance in maintaining distance from others, distrust to the point of madness, pain that went deeper than mere physical suffering? To Terry's way of thinking, every wounded heart reacted differently to physical or mental abuse, but to a small degree, they all shared at least some of those behaviors. Maybe not everyone, Terry admitted, pouring the pan of hot soup into a bowl, but enough so to make him a fairly decent guesser.

He had heard the door slam above him, off to his back, and Terry guessed that she had decided not to hide in the bathroom. Otherwise, the slam would have been directly over his head.

Maybe I'm thinking too much, he frowned. I've spent too much time with abuse, and now every person I see has to fit my profile.

But she is hiding up there. I may be naive, but I'm not an imbecile. Don't fight that, he warned. So he was a pushover for a person in need. John had said that was a good thing. Of course, Terry recalled, placing a spoon into Madison's bowl, John had also warned to "look before you leap."

I haven't made any leaps, and I don't intend to, Terry reasoned as he climbed the stairs with the bowl of hot chicken soup in one hand, a lukewarm mug of cocoa in the other. This houseguest was only staying for a day-- two at the most-- just as he had told John, and then Madison would be on her way. Out of Terry's life, and no longer Terry's problem.

The bathroom door stood open, confirming Terry's guess. He looked down the short hall, saw his bedroom door was also open. She wouldn't hide in the linen closet, so that left... He tried the door to the storage room, which was actually a second bedroom crammed with bookshelves, filing cabinets, fishing gear, and no bed.

No surprise when he found the door had been locked.

Okay, he thought, I'll just place the bowl and mug outside the door, and when she's ready, she'll eat.

Movement from inside announced she was still alive, and probably now smelling the food. He stepped inside the bathroom, wanting to close that window and get all those soaking wet clothes into a washing machine before mildew ruined his favorite coat.

He heard the storage door creak open, watched from the bathroom as it inched wider until a hand pulled first the mug, then the bowl inside.

"That's chicken soup," he said, as the door quickly slammed shut. "I hope you like it." Maybe it was something I said, Terry thought with a rueful chuckle.

Instead of visiting the community laundry for the apartment complex, Terry stuffed the clothes into a trash bag, to take with him and clean at home. He paused before heading downstairs, stared at the locked room where the woman ate hot soup and drank lukewarm cocoa.

"I'm leaving," he called. "There's no more food in the kitchen, but I'll bring some over later today."

No response-- not that he really expected any. He understood Madison was only there because she had no other choice.

Wishing he could get on the phone at that very moment to contact her family, Terry moved down the stairs with his and Madison's wet clothes. Get her to call home, give her bus fare and enough money to keep her safe during her trip, and then Terry could go back to normal.

Now all he had to do was face his family.

God help him, how he loved those people! Every single blessed one of them! But, oh, could they ever worry. Because they cared, they would pray at all hours, call at inconvenient times to make sure he was all right, and offer to go with him in the middle of a storm-tossed night to help a stranger.

Terry glanced at his watch after locking the front door. A full hour before sunup on a Sunday morning meant John and Izzy would still be asleep-- that is, if John had managed to keep his eyes shut and not think too much.

What had Terry told Madison? God's mercies are new every morning. He thought over those words, the meaning of that promise as he went to his jeep. Quite a promise-- new mercies for a new day. We need them, Lord, he prayed as he climbed into the jeep, tossed the bag onto the passenger seat where Madison had passed out a few short hours before. The memory of her terror drew a dark shadow across Terry's heart. People didn't behave that way unless they were either stark raving lunatics, or their past had taught them what to expect. In Madison's eyes, her fear was valid, and that thought disturbed Terry to his core.

His scars recognized hers, a survivor sensing the presence of another like himself. But she's not me, he cautioned. Compared to her, I'm almost normal.

Turning the key in the ignition, Terry leaned back in the seat to let the engine warm. "Give us new mercies, Lord," he said, letting the words spill from his heart out loud, "give us new mercies, before this world tears itself apart."

"This I [Terry] recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness."
~ Lamentations 3:21-23 ~

end of chapter