Twice the trouble

Alan stole a lot more than my heart...

Published by: Jai Breitnauer
Published on: 4th October 2010

Heads together, me and my mate poured over the letter, pointing at the odd line and giggling. It was a poem, a love poem, and it was just about the nicest thing anyone had ever sent me.
‘It’s from Alan Peck,’ I smiled. ‘I’ve fancied him for ages!’
‘Why did he send it to my house though?’ frowned my friend.
I knew why. My dad was so strict, he’d never let me date before, and if he found out about this love note he’d go mad.
‘He’s asked me out loads, but I always say no,’ I sighed.
But I couldn’t ignore this letter, or my feelings, any longer. By the end of the day we were an item, and our mates all helped us steal a few hours together out of school.
Whether I was ‘going to someone’s house to help with their homework’ or ‘walking a dog with a friend’, there was always a good reason for my dad to let me out, and Alan would be waiting round the corner.
At weekends he’d help me with my Saturday job, and he carried on posting love notes to my mates for them to give me in school.
But by the time I was 16, I’d had enough.
‘I can’t cope with all the sneaking around,’ I sighed one day. ‘You’re the love of my life, Alan, but this is goodbye.’
‘B-but, I want to spend my life with you. I want us to get married!’ he gasped, eyes wide. The look on his face, I swear I could see his heart breaking - along with mine.
Within months we’d gone our separate ways. Alan moved away, while I went on to marry Paul and have two beautiful children, Abigail, 25, and Rebecca, 23. But you know what they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and when me and Paul split in 1998 my thoughts turned back to Alan.
‘I wonder if he still lives local,’ I’d sigh, scouring the streets of Stourbridge as I wandered around in my lunch break. Then, two years after my divorce came through, I got a surprise phone call at work.
‘Alan!’ I gasped when I heard that familiar soft voice down the line.
‘Belinda! I’d heard you were working here. Lets meet for a coffee.’
My stomach did somersaults as I waited for Alan after work, and when he pulled up in his black Audi, flaunting the same thick brown hair and winning smile, my heart skipped a beat.
I filled him in on my life then…
‘So what’s new with you?’ I asked, smiling.
‘Happily married, good job, everything’s perfect!’ he grinned back.
Happily married. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed. But over the next two years we met up regularly for lunch and a gossip, and he became a firm friend.
So when he called one summer day, I could hear in his voice something was wrong.
‘I just thought I could pop round,’ he whimpered. ‘Well, actually Belinda, I was hoping I could stay. My marriage… it’s over. I’ve got no where else to go.’
When Alan turned up a couple of hours later I was all sweet tea and sympathy, but inside I’d tied myself in knots.
He’d left his wife, come straight to me…
‘I can only offer you the sofa,’ I smiled. ‘But you can stay as long as you need to.’
‘Thanks Belinda,’ Alan beamed, giving me a hug that lasted just a bit too long….
‘It’ll only be a couple of nights.’
But a week, a fortnight, then a month passed, and Alan was still there, making me coffee in the morning, already cooking our tea when I got home. And it was nice having a man around the house, the smell of aftershave coming from the bathroom. Even the girls liked him.
‘Fancy a glass of wine,’ Alan smiled one night when he got in from work.
‘Sounds great,’ I grinned.
Fast forward an hour and we’d finished the bottle were talking about old times.
‘Do you remember that day I walked you home and had to hide behind that bush?’ Alan grinned.
‘No!’ I laughed. ‘But I do remember those love letters you used to write me. They were so sweet.’
‘Good times,’ he smiled sadly. He shuffled a little bit closer on the sofa. I felt a thrill of excitement but…was this wise? Was he just on the rebound?
‘It’s late,’ I sighed. ‘I think I’ll get off to bed.’
‘Already?’ Alan asked. His eyes were wide as they gazed up at me, just like they had all those years ago when I’d finished with him. Suddenly I knew I didn’t want to risk losing him again.
‘You… er, you could come too,’ I stuttered. ‘If you want.’
I don’t know if it was the wine, or his puppy dog eyes that made me so bold, but before I knew it we were kissing, stumbling up the stairs.
Next morning we were like giggling teenagers in our dressing gowns when the girls came down.
‘Alan didn’t sleep on the sofa last night, did he?’ Abigail whispered. I went bright pink!
‘Don’t worry Mum,’ she winked. ‘It’s cool.’
What a relief! Suddenly, I felt like life was perfect. I had my childhood sweetheart back in my life, and even my daughters liked him, he made sure of that….
‘Thought I’d order pizza tonight,’ he grinned when the girls got in from school.
‘On a Tuesday?’ I gasped.
‘Yeah, we won’t be able to on Saturday,’ he explained. ‘Because I’m taking you girls shopping and then to the cinema.’
Great! But could we afford it? Alan had taken over the household finances, and I was still struggling to get used to having two salaries coming in. So I checked with him later when the girls weren’t around.
‘Of course,’ he breezed. ‘There’s always money for treats.’
Soon Alan wanted us to buy a place together. ‘A proper, family home,’ he smiled. ‘I’ve got the money for the deposit from the sale of my other house.’
I was nervous about getting a mortgage, but when Alan showed me the figures it all seemed pretty manageable. And when we finally got married three years after getting together, Alan made sure we didn’t spare any expense.
I was so happy
Before long the girls had moved out and our relationship was even stronger. We went out every weekend, meeting up at the Ten Arches pub for a drink with our mates before having a curry or going for a dance. And Alan was big on hobbies.
‘I thought I’d try game shooting,’ he smiled one day, throwing a copy of Country Life on the coffee table.
‘Just call you Lord Peck!’ I sniggered.
Before I knew it he’d bought all the gear. His interest soon died off, though, and the guns and funny clothes were on ebay.
‘I’m learning guitar,’ he smiled one evening, producing a brand new Gibson.
‘That must have cost a fortune!’ I cried.
‘Don’t worry, we can afford it,’ Alan chuckled, and when he serenaded me with 20th Century Boy by T Rex I thought it was dead romantic. But the guitar ended up on ebay too.
He even had a fleeting passion for motorbikes, until he wrote one off.
But I didn’t mind all these fads, they kept Alan happy. And if he was happy, I was happy.
Then, one Friday in November, he called me at work.
‘Thought I might go off to that fireworks display later, fancy it?’ he said.
I looked out the window, it was hammering with rain.
‘Think I’ll give it a miss,’ I said. ‘The weather’s not great.’
‘Fine, well I’m going,’ Alan snapped, hanging up.
That was strange… In seven years of marriage, he’d never hung up the phone on me like that before.
A couple of hours later my mobile went. ‘Sorry love,’ Alan said. ‘Didn’t mean to be snappy. Want a drink at the Arches after work?’
‘Sure,’ I smiled, heart softening. But when I turned up at the pub later, he was just leaving.
‘I’m meeting people,’ he barked, pushing a large glass of wine toward me. ‘You should have got here earlier.’
‘But… I don’t finish ‘til 6pm, you know that!’ I cried as he stormed out.
Sitting alone in the pub, regulars gawping, I started to stew. What was going on?
Ten minutes later Alan was back, telling me he wasn’t going to the bonfire after all.
‘Well, what was all that about before then?’ I snorted, but he just shrugged.
Back home though, he turned.
‘You’ve been stroppy all night,’ Alan barked. ‘Is it because the lads are coming round for chilli tomorrow night?’
‘No!’ I gasped. ‘You didn’t even tell me they were, so how could I be cross about it?!’
‘That’s just like you, turning things around,’ he spat. Then there was a quick flick of the wrist and something small and hard hit me on the head.
‘Ow! Alan! Did you just throw your wedding ring at me?!’ I cried, mouth open.
But he’d already stormed off.
That night I slept in the spare room, and next morning I went downstairs expecting an apology, or at least a willingness to talk.
It was just a silly row, after all.
‘Our marriage is over Belinda,’ Alan said coldly. ‘You best find somewhere else to live.’
I couldn’t believe my ears! First he says we’re finished, out of the blue, then he wants me to move out!
‘He just needs some time to calm down,’ I told myself.
But when I came in from work on the Monday I overheard Alan on the phone to our building society.
‘My wife’s leaving me, so I need a separate bank account and an Interest Only mortgage…’
Me leaving him?!
Suspicious, I didn’t hesitate to open the letter from the building society next day – my name was on the envelope too, after all. But when I read the mortgage statement, I couldn’t believe my eyes.
As well as our original mortgage, and the renovation loan we’d taken out, was another, third, loan from early 2008 for £48,000.
‘I didn’t know anything about this,’ I snapped to Alan later.
‘Yes you did,’ he spluttered, but I could see I’d caught him out.
‘I didn’t!’ I screamed. ‘And I don’t even know how you got it – surely I needed to sign the paperwork?’
‘Well I forged your signature, didn’t I!’ he yelled back. ‘I needed the money to pay off some debts!’
I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach. My childhood sweetheart, my husband of seven years, had forged my signature to get a loan in my name?
My world collapsed around me as I realised my marriage was a sham – all those gifts, love notes and days out, they were just to keep me sweet while he used me as a cash cow to fund his silly hobbies.
A few days later he moved out. Then I heard from a friend he’d moved in with a woman called Joanne Taylor.
‘What?!’ I cried when she told me. ‘But the Taylor’s are regulars from the Arches! We used to drink with them!’
‘Seems as soon as she knew Alan was free she threw her husband out,’ my mate explained.
The rat, he’d moved on as quickly from me as he had from his first wife.
Sobbing into my chardonnay I knew exactly what I had to do. Next morning I went straight to the police with a copy of the forged mortgage agreement. My so-called signature looked like a child had written it, and when he was questioned Alan admitted everything.
On May 28 2010, at Wolverhampton Crown Court, he was sentenced to a 14-week jail term, suspended for two years, for making a false representation to obtain a mortgage.
But I’m still not off the hook – the bank reckons because I benefited from the money, I have to pay half of it back.
So absence may have made my heart grow fonder the first time round, but as soon as my divorce comes through I’ll be happy to forget Alan Peck!

Belinda Peck, 52, Stourbridge, West Midlands