Melissa Molfetas and Billy Pardue can never look at a beach in the same way again.
Before the currents of love brought the pair to North Shore Towers (NST), it was on sandy shores, in crashing sapphire waves, where the two began to fall in love.
In 2008, Molfetas and Pardue served in the U.S. Army together. They were both shipped away for basic training but met up shortly after when they were stationed together in an Army base inNorfolk,Virginia.
On an off-duty Saturday afternoon, Molfetas — an inexperienced swimmer — decided to take a dip in the ocean offVirginia Beach, only to be pulled in by a riptide.
“I was swimming as hard as I could, but the water pulled me out and I couldn’t get back,” said the 24 year old.
And just like a romantic-comedy, now-boyfriend Pardue — a licensed lifeguard who was on the beach at the time — swam out and saved her.
“I didn’t think twice. I kind of just went,” said Pardue, 23. “She was out of her mind for being out so far. Now it’s funny, but before it wasn’t funny. It was kind of terrifying. People think we make this stuff up, but it’s really true.”
Molfetas went to thank him for saving her life a day later, but the only payment Pardue wanted was a date.
“He said, ‘If you want to pay me back, let’s get together later,’” Molfetas laughed. “But there was nothing to do there. We were stuck on an army base.”
The duo hit it off after a night of cheesy on-base bowling.
“He’s so charming. It was instant. I was so drawn to him,” Molfetas said, adding that the two had to keep things quiet until their term of service was up. “I had to avoid him at all costs because we couldn’t show any affection in the military. We had to pretend like we didn’t know each other. Everything was like a big secret,” she said.
But once they were back inNew York, “that was it.”
“We couldn’t get enough of each other,” Molfetas said.
Now, the two live together inElmontwith Pardue’s family, with hopes to someday soon own an apartment together. They have an ongoing joke that Molfetas is in debt to him with “a lifetime of servitude.”
They also work together at NST, where Molfetas is a sales marketing director and Pardue works for maintenance.
“He’ll walk by my [office] window, and he’ll wave like Peter Brady — like a dork,” Molfetas said. “I always tell him to get back to work.”
Pardue admitted to being “dorky” and said, “I do it to make her laugh.”
The two — both musicians who play in the same rock band — still like to hit the beach, where they enjoy running. Molfetas said although she refuses to get back in the water, she knows she’s in good hands if she does.
“It was a coincidence but lucky at the same time. He’s my personal hero,” she said.