Some fearless acts are as exceptional as the stories that are told and the actions of Nick Monroe would, without a doubt, be the best ever related as one of most heroic. Surely, it would be a story told through the years, but it would eventually be forgotten. Besides, it wasn’t something he wanted to be remembered for after he was long gone. He was too humble to accept any praise and would just say that he was doing his job.
Nick sat there amongst his family members — both sets of grandmothers and grandfathers and two aunts from his mother’s side as they retold Nick’s story. He was the youngest in attendance at the age of forty, and by far considered himself to be the best dressed, decked out in his fireman’s uniform. The brass buttons on his navy blue jacket reflected the light that came from above. His white gloves were impeccably clean and his black patent leather shoes were shiny enough to see his own reflection. His captain stripes proved his hard work and dedication throughout the years. He looked every bit the distinguished gentleman that he was.
While listening, he managed to surreptitiously glance around at those he hadn’t seen in a while, wondering what had brought them all together again. When they would catch his fleeting look, he would bow his head, feeling embarrassed for having been caught. His grandmother Sofia smiled softly, not saying a word, and held his hand as if to comfort him, patting it from time-to-time, like grandmothers always did to soothe and comfort you after you scraped your knees.
Nick was born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina and was the son of a shrimp boat captain. His father wanted him to follow in his footsteps, but when Nick decided to go to fire school, his father still boasted with pride, saying, “It’s an honorable duty to serve the great citizens of Charleston.” The rest of his family, a hoard of aunts, uncles, cousins, were equally proud and often were delighted when he told them stories about his work. If an article was written about him in the Post and Currier, rest assured it was hanging on someone’s refrigerator or placed in an album.
He was well-known in the community and someone everyone wanted as a friend and the same guy boys wanted to be when they grew up. It wasn’t odd to see him walking the streets, as he so often did because of his dislike for anything on four wheels, and was usually stopped by a neighbor to help them with some menial task, like planting flowers in the spring for Mr. Kelso who loved to garden, but was too arthritic to bend his knees; starting the grill during the summer for Mrs. Nesbitt who loved to cook out, but lost her husband to cancer and was too timid to light the fire by herself; holding open the trash bag so leaves could be gathered for Colleen, the local spinster who was determined to do everything by herself, but would relent when Nick offered his services; or hanging Christmas lights for Mrs. Chandler, the self-proclaimed One and Only Southern Belle of Charleston. Even the neighborhood children would ask him to help with their bicycle chains when they got stuck or invite him to pitch a few baseball games at the park and he would never forgo his favorite pastime. Whatever it was or whenever he was needed, he was there.
Nick’s love life was something of a mystery to everyone, including himself. He had never had luck in the love department and began to wonder if he should just resolve himself to being single for the rest of his life, that maybe it wasn’t in his cards. It wasn’t that he hadn’t tried, but he just hadn’t quite found that spark with the one he was supposed to be with. Instead, he focused on elevating himself through the ranks of the fire department. He had been offered the job of Chief Inspector a couple of times, but turned it down, saying he liked getting dirty, that his job was to save lives, not investigate the disasters.
Shortly after his resolution, he met and fell in love with Angelica, a new resident of Charleston who had just been transferred from Dallas. She was everything he had hoped for and more. Their love story could be considered one for the books, one told in romance novels, where the hero and heroine quickly fall in love, but also a story of tragedy, the kind that turns the hero into a legend.
Yes, Nick was used to taking terrifying risks to save lives, but when he and Angelica are involved in a car accident on their wedding day, that risk hit much closer to home. He was forced to make a decision, one that could not be undone — one that would make him a legend and cement his name in the hearts of the residents of Charleston for years to come and regaled as the hero amongst all heroes.