Authors: Ron Shillingford
Tags: #love, #friendship, #marriage, #success, #facebook, #miami, #regret
Facebook’s Lost Love
Copyright © 2011 by Ron Shillingford
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“Facebook again Mel? Don’t run away with him,
you’re a married woman remember?”
“Four beautiful kids and stretch marks to
prove it, Connie. How could I ever forget being married to Mr
“All this correspondence with Justin can’t be
good though. What would his wife think?”
“He’s happily divorced, no serious
girlfriend, one adult son who lives with his mum. I’ve told you,
Justin was my first serious boyfriend and when he contacted me
recently, we just clicked again. So much to catch up on.”
Melanie was in denial. Facebook emails,
swapping of photos and messenger conversations had become her daily
afternoon thrill with Justin.
Connie was worried. “It will all end in
tears. You’ve got so much to lose, Mel.”
Twenty-six years after she transferred her
affections from Justin to date Paul who eventually became her Mr
Perfect, Melanie hadn’t given her former boyfriend much thought.
Justin was a skinny, poorly paid nerd working thousands of miles
away in England in the local library in Orpington. Until he
contacted her on Facebook out of the blue, Justin had barely
registered on her radar.
There was no need to. They weren’t a great
match really. Anyway, it was only their mutual love of books that
brought them together in the first place. Science fiction,
paranormal, crime and fantasy were their favourite genres.
James Bond novels were a particular source of
entertainment too. Justin Bilton wished he could live like Ian
Fleming’s character and despite his nerdy persona secretly
identified with the 007 super-agent. The only things Justin really
had in common with his hero were his initials.
As soon as the more extrovert, dynamic Paul
came on the scene at the dentist surgery where she worked as a
hygienist, Paul could extract from Melanie whatever he wanted as
far as she was concerned.
Paul Reardon’s expert dentistry and
impeccable chair-side manners set clients at ease. A keen rugby
player with all the injuries to prove it, apart from a repeatedly
broken nose, Paul’s chiseled face was unblemished. The crooked nose
was often a talking point, which he didn’t mind if it set patients
at ease and generated more business.
The patients’ pristine teeth he sent to
Melanie’s surgery made her working life easier. After Paul’s flings
with a couple of dental assistants, the months of bursting for him
to ask her out were more painful than an untreated abscess.
When it came to a straight choice between
Justin and Paul, it was a no-brainer. Life after Justin more than
lived up to Melanie’s expectations. Sort of.
Now living in the Coral Cables district of
Miami, Paul’s British accent, polished manners and excellent
working standards had elevated him to millionaire status. They
lived on a two-acre estate overlooking Biscayne Bay in a seven-bed,
nine bathroom, two-storey villa. Cinema room, a wine cellar, a
library with fireplace, large patios for entertaining, manicured
lawns and the swimming pool were all testaments to Paul’s success.
Hired help kept everything immaculate. The dream life Melanie
wished for growing up in a tiny terraced house in Orpington had
finally arrived. Sharing a cramped bedroom with two sisters
throughout childhood was horrendous.
From an early age she dreamed of escaping the
claustrophobic atmosphere at 43 Oakhampton Avenue. Outside toilet,
tin bath and no central heating for most of her formative years,
the draftiness of the house still sent shivers down her spine.
Melanie’s fondest memory of 43 Oakhampton Avenue was the day she
moved out to a rented apartment nearby.
“Thank God I’ll never have to live there
again. Holloway prison must be more luxurious.”
A studious type, she clicked with Justin
through researching for long hours in the library. The library was
certainly warmer and less draughty than home.
Melanie made a point of never taking him to
her family house. Ashamed of the scruffiness and smallness of 43
Oakhampton Avenue, it was off limits to all her friends, especially
Justin. In fact, any time she had to see her parents it would be in
a diner, café or a family member’s home. Not wanting him to know of
her shame, Melanie always avoided discussing the issue. Justin
first met her parents in a curry house.
With Paul, life had moved on further than her
wildest expectations and she was enjoying an envious style. So it
All the Reardon kids, aged from 17 to 23,
were still at home but living their own lives. Two girls and two
boys, all students, they treated dad as personal banker and Melanie
was only called on for occasional support.
There was emptiness in her life, which
Justin’s Facebook messages helped fill.
All her friends and family longed for her
idyll. But they didn’t know the whole truth. Paul turned
uncharacteristically nasty when drunk, lashing out on his wife at
the flimsiest excuse. Initially just verbal put downs, then
shoulder punches which evolved into full blown thumps to the
thighs, where permanent damage was less likely detected than on
softer body spots, and bruises were easier to hide. Rarely on the
face. A swollen eye, busted lip or bruised cheekbone could not be
easily explained away.
Dr Reardon had a reputation to uphold in the
community. Paul was inordinately jealous, suspecting her of
infidelity at every opportunity, which couldn’t have been further
from the truth.
If anyone was guilty of playing away it was
him. A frequent visitor to strip clubs, there were overnight
absences that Melanie accepted his flimsy explanations for. Turning
a blind eye was less painful than getting a black one.
Visiting tradesmen at their villa, Golden
Brace, were suspiciously watched by Paul who rearranged work
appointments to monitor them.
He felt he had every reason to be jealous.
Melanie was in great shape at 52. An hour-glass figure kept firm by
regular runs on the beach, Pilates, yoga and a low-carb diet, she
sometimes passed as an older sister to her children. Too scared of
plastic surgery, only her stretch marks gave away her motherhood
status. At least Sheeba Raye cocoa butter helped.
Paul eyed every kiss and embrace with male
friends suspiciously, no matter how innocuous. No conversation was
allowed to last longer than exchanging pleasantries.
If a man danced with his wife, Paul watched
them with the instincts of a pouncing predator.
Melanie stopped going on girls’ nights out
because it meant interrogation and potential thumps after. Despite
the domestic violence, she still worshipped Mr Perfect. In a good
mood the charismatic, wisecracking man she fell in love with still
made her heart flutter.
It was just the violence that hurt,
psychologically as well as physically. Their conversations after an
attack always followed the same pattern.
“Why Paul? What have I done to deserve
“Sorry Mel. I don’t know what comes over me.
It’s as if I morph into a beast. It’s just my irrational sense of
women being unfaithful. Two girlfriends cheated on me at
university, which scarred me for life. My mum cheated on my dad too
for years. She thought I didn’t notice, but the signs were there.
Dad was such a kind, trusting man; I didn’t have the heart to tell
him. If he knew, he hid it well. I didn’t want to see them break up
There would be an uneasy truce before another
attack. Always at night in the privacy of their bedroom. Their
children did not suspect. Melanie’s hobbling was explained away as
a pulled thigh muscle or severe cramp from a gym session.
Only Connie knew about Paul’s violence.
“Divorce his ass and you’ll get half his estate, like Eddie Murphy
says in ‘Raw’,” Connie advised. Twice divorced herself, her
lifestyle reflected the substantial settlements from wealthy
Paul’s jealousy was getting worse. He
regularly checked her mobile and her desktop computer which Melanie
rarely used; but he didn’t know she had created a new email account
and joined Facebook in her maiden name, using a laptop to contact
She felt that the thrill of it all was worth
“Facebook is a great way of finding out what
people from the past are doing, Connie. Like Joan Powell. She
married four times and had six kids before giving up on men and
becoming a social worker. That weirdo Robert Pritchett turned out
to be a paedophile, Fred Solomon won three million on the lottery
and left his family for a bimbo, which only lasted as long as it
took her to fleece him of all of it.”
“I know Facebook can be fun but there is a
downside to it, sweetie. This business with Justin isn’t good.
Considering Paul’s traits I think you’re treading on very dangerous
“He makes me feel like I’m walking on water
in a way Paul doesn’t. Justin still works in the library. He’s
invited me to Orpington and I’m going dear. Told Paul it’s to visit
my sister Gilda who I haven’t seen for years. I really am staying
with her, actually. Paul was funny about it at first but seems fine
Connie was worried. “He would literally kill
you if he found out.”
Melanie laughed. “The only way he could was
if you let me down Connie. You wouldn’t like blood on your hands,
“I don’t know how you could be so blasé. Be
careful, Mel. We all love you.”
“Relax Connie. It’s just a bit of fun,
catching up on old times, not rekindling a past romance.”
“Hope he doesn’t think you’re that Bond
character, Pussy Galore.” They laughed.
Then Connie got serious again. “Librarians
have a reputation for being dull so even with Paul’s aggression
surely it’s not worth losing your marriage over.”
“In this case you only live twice. At times
Paul is Dr No go.”
At Gatwick airport Justin met Melanie with a
bunch of red roses in one hand and the latest John Grisham novel in
the other. Over dressed in tuxedo and bow tie, at a distance he
could pass for James Bond on a very bad day. Or an unemployed
“Wow Justin, you didn’t have to go to so much
“You’re worth it, Miss Moneypenny. I was
shaken and stirred when I saw you on Facebook.”
Justin dropped Melanie off at Gilda’s, who
like her sister had escaped the restrictive walls of 43 Oakhampton
Avenue and was living well as a solicitor with a husband who
managed a florist shop. Life for them was rosy.
The week spent in Orpington went too fast for
Melanie’s liking. She caught up with family and friends and Justin
was a great companion. Still passionate about books, Melanie found
herself being drawn to him again as they enthused over their
favourite authors, critiqued books that had gone into film and the
emerging ebook and Kindle market and how it was changing readers’
habits and the publishing industry.
Justin was great fun. Less nerdy than she
remembered and being so well-read he seemed to be an expert on a
variety of subjects without getting boring.
Paul phoned, texted, Skyped, emailed and sent
BlackBerry messages constantly. He was missing her very much, glad
that she was having a great time but there was always an air of
wanting to know her every interaction with men. For once, Paul had
every right to monitor his wife because the old feelings for Justin
The fact that Justin had a fabulous house
helped pique her interest. A lovely Tudor-style detached property
with state-of-the-art fittings, although not as palatial as her
Florida home, it was still a far cry from the nearby house Melanie
grew up in which still filled her with dread. There was even an
Aston Martin in the garage alongside his runabout, a Nissan Leaf.
She wondered though how he could afford such a grand existence on a
“Royalties from all my books, Mel. Thirty-two
in print and two more to be published next year. Pays better than
the day job. They are all on ebook format too, which keeps revenue
As a published author Justin’s books covered
a wide range, including photography, archeology, modern art and
cinema. His favourite title was ‘Inside James Bond’, a breakdown of
all the actors who have played 007, which sold worldwide in many
Melanie found Justin fascinating and
refreshing. His vast, rounded interests and high quality lifestyle
was mesmerising. She could totally relax for once, not worrying
about getting a thump for speaking too long to a man or even
looking at one for more than a few seconds. Irrational jealousy was
not an issue in Justin’s presence. She resisted sleeping with
Justin on that first visit. But only just.