Over the course of the next couple of weeks Melissa and Damon went from strength to strength, Melissa was slowly learning more and more about Damon's care, from how to re-attach his vent if it came loose to his medication, she was learning everyday, a fact not lost on Damon. "What did I do to deserve you?" he mused one day.
"Nothing. You won me over by just being you" smiled Melissa.
As further time passed by the two of them continued to get out and about, Damon's paralysis not stopping them one bit from going to any show they wanted to attend or movie as the case may be, they often went for a walk in the park not far from where Damon lived and even started to go swimming, Damon having a specially made pool with an ultra shallow end that he can be dropped into and lie flat while Melissa holds up his head. The pool was quite useful on a hot day to keep Damon's blood pressure down and he always liked seeing Melissa in her swimmers, albeit a singlet and board shorts with Melissa still shy about her body. Spending so much time over at Damon's place Melissa started to get to know his parents even more too, they were overjoyed that their union now seemed to be as strong as oak, their son deserving happiness after the tragedy that had befallen him in his life.
After another day enjoyed spent together Melissa went in the bathroom to wash up, when she came out though she saw Damon looking at the picture of Emily, seeing this upset Melissa and even though she knew her relationship with Damon was getting stronger she still felt insecure.
"I know I shouldn't ask this but how do I compare? Like to Emily I mean" asked Melissa.
"Why would you ask that? What we have is totally different" replied Damon swinging around in his wheelchair to answer.
"I know, I'm just being silly."
"What happened with Emily and I will be something I will never forget, but your the only woman I love now"
"You love me??"
"Yeah of course"
"Oh wow. I love you too I've just been too scared to say it!!" beamed Melissa with a smile that would have lit up a small nation. She rushed over and stormed Damon's lips with her own, clashing together in a fury of emotion and sheer joy.
"Wow!!" laughed Damon not believing how happy he had just made Melissa, and how unbelievable he felt too.
"I'm sorry. It's just that I haven't experienced love in such a long time. If at all really" Melissa slipped out.
"You've never had love? Of any sort? Not even parents?" questioned Damon.
"Not really" mumbled Melissa going quiet.
"I've never wanted to press but you never talk about your parents"
"Nothing much to say really. They aren't here with us now and I'm fine with that" replied Melissa matter of factly.
"Yeah but you must still feel something towards them"
"I guess so. But I think it's fair to say they would never have won any parenting awards. Dad had wandering hands and Mum never did anything to stop him"
"Wandering hands?" asked Damon worried by what he was hearing.
"Come on Damon, don't make me spell it out for you, I think you know what that means. It's probably the reason I got so big I think. I just kept eating in the hope that I would get so fat he wouldn't want me anymore. Didn't work though of course, all getting fat did was make my life at school complete hell by way of teasing"
Damon couldn't believe what he was hearing, it had all flooded out of Melissa's mouth like a raging torrent and he wasn't sure what to say. "I'm so sorry that happened to you"
"Yeah well so am I. If you don't mind I'd like to change the subject now thanks"
"No worries" replied Damon still a little stunned by what he had heard. They went onto another subject and Melissa continued to talk as if nothing happened. Damon knew that Melissa still hurt over it all though and he would do his best to get her through.
A week passed and soon enough it became time for Damon's 30th birthday. "The big 3-0 hey?" teased Melissa.
"Yes unfortunately. Getting old. Not as old as you though!" laughed Damon in reply knowing Melissa was a couple of months older than him.
"Ok that's enough out of you buddy!!!"
While Damon wasn't big on parties his family were and they were all invited, mum, dad, nieces, nephews, the lot. Naturally this all made Melissa quite anxious. "No need to sweat babe, you know my parents already so you'll be fine!" assured Damon. Melissa wasn't so sure but knew she was probably over stressing like she normally did. Soon enough all the guests arrived, Melissa couldn't believe how much immediate and extended family had turned up to Damon's birthday. "This is unbelievable, there must be 80 people here" she remarked.
"Yeah I know it's like a madhouse" acknowledged Damon in a good mood at the sight of them all. Most of them seeing him at hos worst having visited him in hospital lending their support when he was going through his harrowing ordeal in the hospital and afterwards. "Oh come over here I want you to meet my grandma Mavis. Damon zoomed his chair over to his Nan who smiled straight away at the sight of her grandson "Damon! So great to see you" she sparkled putting her hand on Damon's.
"Hey Grandma, great to see you too, your looking well"
"Oh your too kind! Who is this lovely woman next to you?" asked Mavis.
"This is Melissa, she is my new girlfriend" beamed Damon happily looking at Melissa next to him out the corner of his eye.
"Nice to meet you dear" smiled Mavis.
"Great to meet you too" replied Melissa.
"Just look after him, he's had a tough time of late" encouraged Mavis making mention of past events.
"I will" assured Melissa.
After meeting Mavis for the next hour Damon seemed to be introducing Melissa to someone in his family every 5 minutes. First his uncle, then his niece, nephews. "God so many people to remember" mentioned an overwhelmed Melissa.
"Sorry I'm just so glad to see them all, I haven't seen some of them in a while and I just want to show you off" replied an excited Damon
After meeting some more of Damon's family Melissa told Damon she needed to go 'powder her nose'. She headed off toward the toilet, once she got there she sat on the toilet seat and started to cry, she wasn't sure why but she guessed it was just meeting all of Damon's family, she only had one relative left and she had lost touch with them. She eventually composed herself and came out of the toilet, as she left Damon's mother Grace came along and noticed she had been crying.
"Sweetheart are you ok?"
"Yeah I'm fine" replied Melissa wiping away what tears were left on her face.
"I hope so. You can tell anything you know. I'm here to help" offered Grace with a concerned look on her face.
"I'm just being a sook. I've never really known a tight knit loving family like the one you seem to have"
"Well your a part of that too now. It might be only a couple of months but I think you and my son will be together a long time. The way you look at each other is the way I look at Damon's father Bill"
With this said Grace moved in and gave Melissa a hug, the warmth of the hug made Melissa feel really good and she was now ready to go back out again. Once she got outside Damon wondered what took so long. "Oh I was just talking to your mother" replied Melissa.
"That's a worry" laughed Damon.
Melissa just looked at him and simply said "I love you. So much". They embraced in front of Damon's family and all of Melissa's hangups just disappeared.
Soon enough the party ended, Damon was lowered into bed utterly exhausted. "Had a great day today. Thanks for everything"
"No thank you, your family are great" replied Melissa. She gave him a kiss on the cheek then headed off.
As Melissa pulled up into her driveway she heard her phone go off. "Wonder who that is?" she mumbled to herself. Once inside she checked her phone, the message was from Shelley who she hadn't heard from in weeks.
"Hey Mel, I just wanted to say I'm sorry for what happened last time we saw each other, I freaked out over it all and was just stupid. Friends again?"
Upon reading this Melissa was pleased, not pleased over what happened that night but pleased Shelley wanted to be friends again as she was the only one she really had. She decided to reply "All good. Friends again:)". After a couple more messages the air was cleared and Melissa went to bed a very tired but very happy woman...