Drunk in a Washington, D.C. hotel bar, Mel literally "falls" over Dorian, and their mutual attraction soon sparks a relationship. Dorian convinces Mel to seek a job at Llanview's newspaper, The Banner, and he moves into a houseboat on the Llantano River. The death of Mel's wife, Muriel, in a plane crash 18 months before had fueled his addiction to alcohol, which in turn has estranged him from their children, Roger, Frank and Dorothy Hayes. Dorothy comes to Llanview in 1997 to rebuild her relationship with Mel, but leaves in 1998 after a failed relationship with Joey Buchanan. Mel and Dorian's family begin to suspect that Dorian is hiding something from her past; after Mel's investigation into the deaths of Dorian's parents reveals conflicting information, he convinces her to face her painful childhood. Dorian returns to Canton in 1998, remembering the psychological abuse she and her sisters had suffered at the hands of their mentally ill mother, Sonya. Dorian is shocked to discover that Sonya had not only killed Dorian's father, but is actually still alive and being cared for by the former Cramer nanny, Charlotte Stonecliffe. Dorian and her daughter Cassie are attacked by a deranged Sonya, who later dies with Charlotte when the house is consumed by fire. Furious that he had dredged up her past, Dorian breaks things off with Mel.