Two loves, one hate...

A broken marriage and my childhood sweetheart were about to ignite a deadly spark...

Published by: Amy Thompson & Sharon Ward
Published on: 20th January 2011

Some women know exactly what they’re looking for when it comes to dating. They want a bloke with a similar personality to theirs, perhaps, or who has a certain look.
But the two men I’d fallen in love with couldn’t have been more different! Watching my hubby Jim steaming on ahead of me and our kids Dominic, seven, Nadine, five, and Mitchell, three, I sighed.
We were supposed to be on a family day out, strolling through the woods. But Jim wouldn’t even slow down when the kids spotted something. ‘Mummy, look,’ said Nadine, pointing at a bug on a tree.
‘Jim!’ I called.
‘Mmm?’ he mumbled, tapping away on his mobile phone.
Oh what was the point!
‘Nothing,’ I replied, hoisting Mitchell on to my hip and taking Nadine’s hand.
At these times, exasperated by Jim, I always ended up thinking about Ed Schiller – the first boy I’d ever loved.
We’d met at school when I was 15 and he was 17. Kind, outdoorsy and always smiling, he’d been the one I thought I’d spend the rest of my life with. He’d felt the same.
Even when we’d broken up and he’d gone off to college and I’d met someone else, fate had pulled us back together. The second I’d got engaged to Andy, my boyfriend at the time, Ed had come straight back home.
I’d realised I’d made a big mistake accepting Andy’s proposal. As soon as I’d seen my teenage sweetheart again, all the old feelings flooded back.
So, breaking off the engagement, I’d got back together with Ed again. It had been like old times. We’d moved in together, convinced that because we were older and wiser, the relationship would work this time.
Then I’d got broody. But Ed hadn’t been ready. ‘I do want to marry you and have kids,’ he’d say. ‘But we should wait until we’re sorted financially.’
Maybe I’d been pushing for too much, too soon, but I hadn’t been able to help myself. ‘I can’t wait that long,’ I’d said, sadly. ‘What if we’re forever putting it off and, when we do eventually try, it doesn’t happen?’
He’d stared at me helplessly, knowing what was coming.
‘I think we should break up,’ I’d told him. He’d tried talking me round, but I wasn’t having it.
Several months later, I’d met James Brescia at the country club where I worked. He’d stood at the bar chatting to me, asked me out every day.
At first I’d refused, still hung up on Ed. But, eventually, I’d started to look at Jim differently.
Nine years older than me, he was charming and mature. And, with his dark hair and eyes and stocky build, he was the complete opposite to Ed.
Maybe different was good, maybe it was what I needed?
We’d started dating and, two months later, I’d discovered I was pregnant with Dominic. It wasn’t planned and I hadn’t expected Jim to stick around.
‘If you don’t want to be a part of our lives, that’s fine,’ I’d told him. ‘But I’m having this baby.’
‘Stacey, I want to be there for both of you,’ he’d said, excitedly. ‘I can’t wait to be a dad!’
So we’d moved in together. He became a great dad, giving Dominic his nightly bath, tucking him in, and making up bedtime stories.
But as time wore on, we’d started to drift apart. Jim wasn’t the gentleman he’d once been. Instead, he was bossy and belittling towards me.
Then, when Dominic was eight-months-old, my mum Phyllis died. I’d been desolate, as she’d been my rock. I’d never felt so alone. She’d left me a lifeline, though – her house. Me, Jim and Dominic moved into it. I’d hoped it would bring us closer.
The following year, we’d married and I’d found out I was pregnant with Nadine. Then along came Mitchell. I finally had the family I’d wanted.
Yet, seven years on, the gulf between Jim and me had widened.
So now, kicking a pile of rust-coloured leaves, I wondered what Ed was up to. Even as I stared at Jim’s back while he raced ahead of us, I thought of the many enjoyable hikes Ed and me had gone on together.
How we’d often gone up a mountain and gazed down at the views of Boston.
It had always been so easy with him. What was he up to now? Was he married? Did he have kids? Did he spend time teaching them everything he knew about his beloved motorbikes?
I shook the thoughts away, snapping back to reality. It was all well and good fantasising about what my life might have been like if I’d stayed with Ed, but reality never lives up to the fantasy, does it? I’d probably never be as happy as I’d dreamed I might be.
I couldn’t deny how miserable my marriage was making me, though. I’d tried time and again to leave Jim over the years. He always talked me round.
When begging didn’t work, he’d turn nasty… ‘You won’t last two seconds as a single mum,’ he’d scoff. ‘You won’t get a penny from me. You’ll lose the house and I’ll get custody of the kids…’
They might have been empty threats, but I was scared. I’d stopped working when the kids were born. How could I support three children alone?
Watching the kids desperately trotting along behind him though, trying to keep up, I realised the only person he cared about was himself. ‘Daddy, a butterfly!’ pointed Mitchell.
‘Yup.’ Jim didn’t look, didn’t slow for a second.
Something inside me snapped. I was going to leave him, once and for all. I constantly felt like I was walking on eggshells around him. If he lost his keys, it was somehow my fault. If I ironed his shirts, he’d always want the one I hadn’t ironed, and grumbled about having to do it himself.
So that night, when we got home from our walk, I told him straight.
‘I want a divorce,’ I said simply. ‘I want you to move out.’
‘I’m not going anywhere,’ he spat. ‘You’ll have to drag me out.’
Whatever. I contacted my solicitor and filed for a court order to make Jim leave. It took two months but, when I got it, he had no choice but to go.
It wasn’t easy though and, without Mum around, there was only one other person I trusted to keep me strong – Ed.
Picking up the phone, my hands shook as I dialled his number. We hadn’t spoken in eight years. What if he hated me? ‘Ed?’ I breathed, when he answered.
‘Yeah?’ he replied.
‘It-it’s Stacey,’ I stammered. ‘Stacey Rock.’
There was a pause. Then…
‘Hey!’ he said, brightly. ‘How are you?’
I breathed a sigh of relief as we arranged to meet for a drink. Later that week, in a bar, I told him how I was married with three kids. He told me he was still single and working in insurance.
‘So… what’s up?’ he asked.
‘Hmm?’ I frowned.
‘Come on,’ he smiled. ‘I’ve known you long enough to know when you’re happy. Right now, you look miserable.’
I should have known my brave face wouldn’t fool him. I never could hide anything from Ed.
‘I’m getting a divorce,’ I sighed.
I nodded. ‘Thank God!’ he laughed. I stared at him baffled.
‘He sounds like a jerk!’ he explained. ‘I’ve been biting my tongue, but you deserve more.’
Tears streamed down my face as Ed reached for my hand. All this time I thought I’d fallen in love with two totally different people. Truth was, I’d only ever really loved one of them. But I’d let him go twice. How could I have been so stupid?
‘I still love you,’ Ed said, quietly. ‘Always have.’
With everything going on with Jim, I didn’t want to rush anything with my ex. We agreed to take things slowly. After a few weeks, Ed came to meet my kids. Nadine’s face lit up when he offered to sit and draw pictures with her. Dominic was mesmerised by his motorbike stories.
‘When you’re older, if it’s okay with your mum, I’ll take you out on it,’ he promised.
We even went for a walk in the woods nearby. ‘Wanna sit on my shoulders?’ he asked Mitchell. ‘You can see the trees better up there.’
‘Yeah!’ he squealed.
They must have stopped a hundred times to look at a bird, or a leaf. Finally, my reality was better than any fantasy I could’ve ever imagined.
Ed and me spoke every morning on the phone and he visited nearly every evening. ‘Did you have to have three kids?’ he’d chuckle, pretending to be put out when they jumped all over him.
But as happy as we were, things with Jim weren’t over. He called constantly. ‘Getting back with you will be bad for that guy’s health,’ he warned.
I tried to ignore it, but it got to me… and Ed. ‘I can’t understand why he’s making things so hard,’ he sighed, calling me before work.
We’d been back together three months, but Jim wasn’t giving up.
‘I can’t talk now,’ I replied, grabbing my keys. ‘I’ve got to take the kids to school. But come round for dinner.’
‘Okay,’ he said. ‘See you later. Love you.’
‘Love you, too,’ I smiled.
Hanging up, I got the kids off to school, and came home to do some chores. Then, at 10.30am, there was a knock at the door. I froze at the sight of two police officers.  The kids! I panicked.
‘Stacey Rock?’ one asked.
I nodded. ‘I’m afraid we have some bad news,’ he continued. ‘Your boyfriend Ed Schiller… we found him dead in his car this morning.’
My knees buckled beneath me. ‘H-he had an accident?’ I asked, trying to make sense of things. Ed was a great driver…
‘No,’ the officer interrupted my thoughts. ‘He was shot in his car in the car
park outside his work around 7.30am.’
I couldn’t breathe. I felt like my chest was going to explode from the pain. The room blurred as I cried. The only man I’d truly loved was dead. I’d spoken with him just minutes before he was murdered.
How I got through the following months, I couldn’t say. Ed’s funeral was arranged for the end of January. He was only 39.
In the meantime, police discovered more about his death. He’d been shot in the head by a known hitman called Scott Foxworth, 52.
Who’d have such a problem with Ed that they’d hire a hit man? Jim! He and Scott were charged with Ed’s murder.
Jim had told me getting together with me would be bad for Ed’s health. I’d thought it was just an empty threat.
‘A colleague of his put him in touch with Scott,’ explained a police officer. ‘They were watching Ed for weeks, getting to know his routine.’
I felt sick. Jim had been so vindictive, so spiteful that he couldn’t let me move on. He could have killed me, but he’d wanted to torture me instead. He knew the best way of hurting me was by taking away the love of my life.
This time, I’d never get Ed back.
Two years later, Jim, 50, finally went on trial. He was found guilty at Middlesex Superior Court, Massachusetts, USA, of murder and conspiracy to commit murder, and handed a life sentence. The following year, Scott Foxworth was found guilty of the same charges, and sentenced to life in prison as well.
But even in prison, I’m not free of Jim. He writes to my kids and has now requested visits from them. I want them to be able to decide for themselves, but it’s hard. They don’t want to accept what their dad did.
I just wish Ed was still here, I miss him so much. I thought time would heal the pain, but each day is a struggle – if only we hadn’t wasted so much time apart. I feel a constant mixture of emotions – guilt, sadness, anger, despair…
When I met Jim, I knew he was the complete opposite to Ed. My teenage sweetheart was so kind, so easy to love. If only I’d known just how cruel Jim could be…
Stacey Rock, 43, Marlborough, USA