Damon and Melissa had now known each other two weeks but Melissa almost felt like it was two months or even two years, after their early hiccup upon meeting things had been going great and she was very hopeful for the future, as they arranged their next date Melissa decided it was time to see where Damon lived, they had met up 3 or 4 times for dates and Damon over to her place the other times. "Sure, you can come over here. Will be good" replied Damon to Melissa's request. Damon gave Melissa the address and a date was set for 7pm. Soon enough that time rolled around and Melissa popped into her car and headed over to Damon's place, she wondered what kind of place he had, she knew it would have to be spacious and wheelchair accessible but was sure it would still have it's charm. As she travelled into his street she made sure she got the address right, 28 Emerald street, Rockbank he told her, as she creeped closer to the house she eventually pulled up outside what was a very majestic house, it was only the one story but looked very classy and the garden was quite large as was the winding driveway leading in, Melissa wasn't sure what to expect but she had to admit she was impressed and was glad Damon wasn't living by every penny like some people have to in his situation. Melissa's little Volkswagen chugged away up the driveway and she started to get nerves again, she didn't know why but the thought of seeing Damon still gave her butterflies which she guessed was a good thing.
After making her way up the driveway Melissa hopped of her car, she saw a big ramp outside and pictured Damon blowing into the straw of his sip 'n' puff and wheelchair gradually making his way up and inside, as Melissa moved towards the door she had a quick look in the mirror of her foundation capsule to make sure everything still looked the way she wanted, this was a usual occurrence and all was fine so she knocked on the door. After waiting a few seconds the door opened and it was Lydia. "Oh hey Lydia, how are you?" smiled Melissa.
"I'm well thanks. Come in" invited Lydia
As Melissa made her way inside she could see the inside was every bit as good as the outside, a glass chandelier coming from the ceiling and some wonderful art adorning the entrance and hallway. As Melissa headed further in she saw her man, he looked so relaxed and was just wearing a black t-shirt with some cargo shorts. "Hello beautiful" he expressed upon the sight of Melissa, thinking she looked delightful in just a pink singlet top and jeans with red flip flops, her toes painted fire engine red to match her footwear. They had a quick embrace which they both enjoyed.
"Wow this place is amazing" remarked Melissa. "You really landed on your feet didn't you" she added not realising the pun, although once again thinking she had never actually heard the story about how her new man had become a quadriplegic.
"Yeah it's ok" replied Damon playing it down.
"OK?? King of the understatement much!!" responded Melissa.
They decided to head into the lounge room where Lydia asked them if they wanted a drink, both of which said no so she then decided just to leave them be and have some alone time. "Great to finally see your house though, and you in it haha" laughed Melissa. Damon always loved that sound, the laugh of his potential new partner.
They continued to talk before Melissa started to sticky nose a little looking at what appeared to be family pictures and the like in the corner of the room. As she poked through the photos she would ask Damon who the people were. "Who's this?"
"That's my niece and nephew"
As Melissa continued to go through the photos she came up to one of Damon pre accident, he had an arm around a blonde woman and she just assumed it was another family member. "Who's this?" she asked pointing the picture at him. Melissa then noticed Damon's expression changing. "Something wrong? Was she your mistress?" joked Melissa.
"No, not my mistress" replied Damon.
"Well who is she then??"
"My wife" informed Damon.
"Your what!!????" objected Melissa thinking she must have misheard.
"It's not what you think" responded Damon.
"How can you having a wife not be what I think!!??" screamed Melissa.
"I'm a widow"
"Oh god" replied Melissa changing her expression completely upon hearing this.
"If things progressed further I would have told you but we have still only known each other the sum of two weeks"
"Very true" acknowledged Melissa. "I'm so sorry to hear about your wife. I guess I'm just realising there is so much more to you than I first thought"
"Well yes. I'm sure there's more to Melissa Ryan too that I don't know about" expressed Damon.
"Not much to tell with little old me" she replied knowing that wasn't true. While she was a quiet woman it was fair to say she hadn't lived a great life. "I don't mean to pry but how long ago did your wife pass?"
"4 years ago. It was the hardest period of my life, particularly given the circumstances"
"Well yes" replied Damon cutting himself short. On one hand he wanted to let Melissa in and tell the story but on the other he probably felt it was too soon, not to mention the fact he wasn't keen to go through it all again.
"I get the feeling there's a bit to this so you don't have to tell me if you don't want to" assured Melissa.
After thinking about for a few seconds Damon decided to go forward with it. "To tell you the whole story I have to go back to a night in June 4 years ago. My wife Emily and I were going to the opening of a new restaurant in town, it was meant to be a glamorous affair and plenty of well known people would be there, we were just simple folk but a friend of mine was a big player around town and he couldn't go so he passed on two invitations to us. We both got dressed to the nines and headed off. The night was going well before we got invited to drinks on the balcony, as we laughed and swilled champagne we started to hear a creaking sound, at first we thought it was just the wind but then it got louder, not long after the balcony started to crack and everyone started rushing off, Emily and I were trapped at the back though and before we could get off the balcony collapsed" explained Damon now getting quite emotional.
Melissa just sat there, almost frozen at the chilling tale Damon was telling and the torture in his face as he told it, she knew this was bad but she had no idea how bad.
"My wife and I plus some others were still on it as it crumbled.. I can still remember the fear in Emily's eyes as we hurtled toward the ground below, I tried to somehow bring her body on top of mine to break her fall but she was just out of reach, we both hit the ground hard and I was knocked out. When I came to I was in a hospital unable to move,talk or breathe and told my wife was dead"
"Oh I'm so sorry" remarked Melissa now almost as ashen faced as Damon.
"Yeah well now you know I became like this" expressed Damon.
"I'm not worried about that, I just can't believe the story you have just told me, I can't imagine the pain you would have been in those first few months. Emotional and physical" empathized Melissa.
"Well it wasn't a picnic I'll tell you that for free. Lying there in that bed, day in, day out was the worst torture I think anyone could ever be put through, at first I was like a zombie, barely changing expression, too traumatised by the events of that night and everything that went with it. Then it just all turned to anger, so many days where I had so much anger, when that wore off though the sadness crept in like an unwanted visitor, some people might say this is weak but I reckon when it all finally caught up to me I cried every night for three months" explained a very solemn Damon.
"Your not weak at all, you are an incredibly brave wonderful human being" assured Melissa now picking up his limp hand and putting it in hers. "I can't imagine what I would be like. To not only lose a partner but to be left completely paralyzed and helpless. It's just too cruel"
"You want to know the worst part? I missed Emily's funeral due to being in hospital. I didn't even get to say a proper goodbye"
This was almost too much for Melissa, sure she had been through her own tough times but this was the purest form of heartbreak she had ever heard. "Did the people that build the balcony ever get prosecuted?"
"Yeah they got a lousy $160,000 fine. According to the report they were under a tight deadline so they put on a couple of unskilled workers to finish the job quick. They forgot to fortify the balcony properly and that's what caused it to buckle"
"A lousy fine and that's it!!?? What bastards! I guess with the legal system though it's not surprising"
"Yeah well my parents actually filed a civil suit against the restaurant and the company that built it while I was in hospital. I wasn't interested as I was just far too depressed and no amount of money would bring Emily back. My parents told me the week before I got out of the hospital the builders and restaurant owners settled for 3 million. That's how I got this house"
"I know in the scheme of things it's not much but better than the hospital I'm guessing" replied Melissa trying to find some sort of positive out of it all.
"Yeah I suppose. When I first moved in I didn't like it, but then again I didn't take pleasure in anything for a long time. To be honest it's only been the last year that I have really moved on with life and tried to put it all behind me"
"I just can't believe what you have been through, it just defies belief" remarked Melissa.
"Well believe me I wish it all had of been some bad dream but it wasn't. I have to actually thank you"
"Thank me?? For what?"
"For giving me my first slice of happiness since that day. Spending time with you makes me feel alive again"
"Feeling is more than mutual" smiled Melissa. She then moved over and wiped the remaining moisture off Damon's face from the tears that had streamed down before giving him a comforting kiss on the cheek.
The two of them talked into the night before the clock struck 11pm and Melissa mentioned she had better go and let Damon get some rest. "Thanks for tonight. I know it must have been awfully hard to relive the events of 4 years ago but I appreciate you letting me in your life, past and present" expressed Melissa.
"Thanks for listening. Drive home safe" replied Damon.
Melissa just smiled and gave him a peck on the lips before heading off, she knew that some of the things that had happened in her life should go left unsaid and she planned to keep it that way, for now at least. Melissa arrived home, she went straight to bed but after tossing and turning a bit she started to wonder if Damon was really over his late wife, sure she had the utmost sympathy for his loss but she didn't want to be living in the shadow of another woman, she was too sensitive for that and her heart far too fragile. As she continued to ponder this she then looked at the other side of the coin, if Damon just forgot about her and didn't at least acknowledge her memory in any way that wouldn't make him much of a man would it? At least she knew that he was loyal and respectful, two very honourable qualities. After mulling it over Melissa decided that she wouldn't want to be judged on her past so she wasn't going to do that with Damon, at this point in time things were going great and she was just being silly entertaining notions about being second fiddle. Damon was the closest thing she'd had to love in a long time and there was no good reason for that to change..