The look of love

It started as a fun fling. But Andy didn't see it that way...

Published by: Amy Thompson & Sharon Ward
Published on: 31sy March 2011

Do you ever get the feeling you’re being watched? Then, when you look up, you realise it’s because you are.
I could feel the heat of my boyfriend Andy’s eyes on my skin, studying my face instead of the film we were watching.
‘You’re beautiful,’ he murmured. ‘I could watch you all day.’
I smiled, snuggling up to his chest.
Although we hadn’t been dating long, Andy, 28, had a knack for making me feel special. He was exactly what I needed.
I’d been in the middle of a messy divorce with my ex when I’d met Andy at a pub.
He’d sidled over and offered to buy me a drink and, before I knew it, I’d been talking to him as if he was my oldest friend.
When he’d asked for my number, I’d been flattered. I was 10 years older than him, and a single mum to my son Travis, 12.
And it wasn’t as though he couldn’t have his pick of women his own age – he was gorgeous!
Even now, a month on, I was still realistic about our relationship. It was a bit of fun, nothing too heavy. We’d go out for dinner, shopping trips, even spent cosy nights in like now. It was lovely – no strings attached, no pressure…
‘Why don’t we get married?’ Andy’s voice interrupted my thoughts.
‘You what?’ I chuckled, surprised. But he wasn’t laughing.
‘Let’s get married,’ he repeated. ‘I love you.’
I shook my head, baffled. ‘My divorce hasn’t even been finalised,’ I said, racking my brains for the right way to let him down gently.
‘Okay,’ he shrugged, turning back to the TV. ‘It was just an idea.’
I stared at his hurt expression, wanting to say more. But it was clear the conversation was over.
A few days passed, and I couldn’t get his proposal out of my head. Did he really see us getting married one day?
Here I was thinking this was just a fling, that he was too young to want to settle down.
Over the next two weeks, I tried to make it clear that we should just concentrate on having fun and not think about the future. But Andy made it clear that he was serious about his feelings for me.
One day, I finished work at a jewellery store to find him waiting outside for me with a huge bunch of flowers.
‘Almost as beautiful as you,’ he smiled, kissing me.
The first time, I thought it was sweet. The second time, I was a bit bemused. The third time, I cringed. He was smothering me with love – and up to 60 phone calls a day!
And if someone called me while I was with him, I’d get the Spanish inquisition. ‘Who was that?’ he’d frown after I’d hung up.
It was exhausting. After six weeks, I couldn’t take any more.
‘It’s over,’ I told him. ‘We want different things.’
‘Please don’t,’ he begged. ‘We’re great together.’
I felt a pang of guilt, but I had to stick to my guns. It wasn’t fair to Andy to carry on the way we were.
He didn’t see it the same way, though, and he called constantly, begging for another chance.
Then, sitting at work one afternoon, my colleague Jan came back from lunch looking confused.
‘Didn’t you break up with Andy?’ she asked.
‘Yes,’ I nodded. ‘Why?’
‘Well… it’s just… he’s sitting outside in his car,’ she whispered.
I hurried to the window in time to see him drive off.
What on earth was he doing?
Later that night, I was tucked up in bed in my bungalow when I heard banging on my bedroom window. Startled, I crept over to peek through a tiny gap in the curtain… Andy! As soon as I switched on the light, he ran off.
An icy shiver ran through me. His behaviour was getting stranger by the second.
Over the next few weeks, I continued to ignore his calls. When he banged on my windows again, I even called the police, but they said there was nothing they could do.
‘Unless we catch him in the act, we can’t help,’ an officer said.
It was impossible to catch him, though.
Even the number of calls I received wasn’t enough to get a restraining order – he never left threatening messages.
For three weeks I was a nervous wreck, constantly looking over my shoulder, waiting for the phone.
‘You okay, Mum?’ Travis asked, worried. ‘Of course,’ I said, forcing a smile.
But I knew he didn’t believe me. I was 5ft 9in and I’d lost a stone in less than a month. I couldn’t eat, and I had trouble sleeping. All I could do was worry about where Andy was.
I felt like his eyes were always on me. Was he hiding in the bushes when I left for work? Following me in his car…?
One night, I pulled up outside my house and my heart sank. Andy was on my doorstep.
‘Why don’t you answer my calls?’ he snapped angrily.
An unfamiliar edge to his voice stopped me short. I’d never seen him angry before.
‘Because there’s nothing more to say,’ I told him firmly.
‘I’m going to see Travis at his dad’s now. You’d better not be here when I get back.’
Nipping inside, I quickly changed and left, sweeping past Andy who was still standing in my front garden. I shuddered as I pulled away from the drive. Why wouldn’t he leave me alone?
Thank goodness there was no sign of him when I got home a few hours later.
Shutting the front door behind me, I took off my jacket and walked through to the kitchen.
‘What the…?’ I gasped.
Andy was sitting at my kitchen table, holding a glass of wine as bold as brass.
‘H-how did you get in?’
‘My key,’ he smirked proudly. ‘I had one cut.’ His eyes were cold and menacing as he stared at me.
How much had he had to drink?
I clenched my fists to stop my hands trembling. He was only feet away. If I turned and ran now, he’d catch me before I got to the door. I had to act calmly.
Taking a deep breath, I pasted on a smile and strode confidently over to the cupboard and picked up a glass.
‘Let’s have a drink and a talk,’ I said smoothly, pouring some wine. I made sure my voice was gentle as I spoke again. ‘It’s not you. I just need to be on my own for a bit.’
‘You don’t understand.’ As he spoke, his jaw clenched angrily. ‘I can’t let you go.’ Something in his tone made my stomach lurch.
He looked up from his empty glass to meet my eyes. ‘If I can’t have you, I’m going to kill you.’
My breath caught in my throat. Somehow, I knew he wasn’t joking. Run! Get out – now!
My chair screeched across the tiled floor as I leaped up and raced to my bedroom. Heavy footsteps thundered after me as I threw the door shut behind me and fumbled with the lock.
But in seconds Andy’s fingers were wrapped around the door, his face right in mine as he burst in.
‘No!’ I screamed as he pinned me to the floor. ‘Please don’t!’
I lashed out with everything I had, but Andy was too strong.
His teeth tore at the flesh on my neck and chest.
Desperately, I reached up for the lamp on my bedside table, and brought it down with a sickening crack over Andy’s head.
His eyes widened in shock and he let out a cry. Then his face was next to mine, his teeth sinking into my left ear, twisting and ripping until finally he broke away.
His face was covered in my blood as he spat something out on to the carpet.
No pain. Where was all the blood coming from? I turned my head – and blinked in disbelief.
It looked like Andy had spat out a lump of flesh….
It was my earlobe!
As the realisation hit me, so did the pain. ‘Argh!’ I shrieked in agony as Andy continued to punch and kick me. He dragged me into the bathroom by my hair, and slammed my face into the mirror,.
He pulled me back and glared at my reflection. ‘Now you’re as ugly on the outside as you are on the inside,’ he sneered.
My face was purple, swollen and pouring with blood.
I’m not going to die like this! I thought fiercely.
Even as Andy pressed a knife to my throat and forced me from the house into my car, I kept that thought burning in my mind.
He won’t win. He won’t kill me. I won’t let him.
‘I might as well chop you up in the woods,’ he growled, turning the key in the ignition.
Without warning, his fist flew into me and pain exploded through my face… then everything went black.
When I came to, we were still in my driveway.
What was wrong?
That’s when I noticed the fuel gauge was almost empty, and I had an idea… ‘I’ve got $400 in my purse at home,’ I winced in pain. ‘You can have it.’
His eyes flickered to the fuel gauge. What choice did he have?
‘Stay here,’ he snapped, running inside. This was it. I had to escape.
With a final burst of strength, I pushed open the car door. Adrenalin pumped through me, and I ran to my neighbour’s house and hammered on her door. ‘Joanie!’ I sobbed. ‘Please! Let me in!’
Relief flooded through me as the door swung open. ‘Oh my God!’ she gasped, helping me inside. ‘What’s happened?’
‘A-Andy’s trying to kill me!’ I pointed a finger towards my house.
Her eyes widened in horror as I sank to the floor. Every ounce of strength I’d had evaporated as Joanie picked up the phone.
‘Police!’ she said. ‘My neighbour’s been attacked.’
Everything passed in a blur after that.
I heard sirens but, by the time police arrived, Andy had fled.
I was in intensive care for seven days.
I’d lost so much blood, I almost died.
When I was stronger, police told me Andy had tried to mop up the blood to cover his tracks.
‘We found your ear in a glass of ice,’ an officer said. ‘We think he wanted it as a trophy.’
I gagged.
Unfortunately, it was too late to reattach the ear, and doctors had to graft on a prosthetic one.
There was still another shock to come, though. Andy wasn’t who he’d said he was. ‘His name is Patrick LeFleur,’ an officer told me. ‘He has a string of convictions, and even served time for stalking his ex-girlfriend.’
He was put on the sheriff’s Most Wanted list for his attack on me.
For two months, I stayed at a women’s shelter with a new identity. When I finally went home, police issued me with a guard dog and a panic button.
Two years passed before Patrick was finally caught.
At Oakland County Court, Michigan, he was sentenced to a minimum of 35 years in prison for kidnapping, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, assault and aggravated stalking.
I was finally free to move on.
But it took a long time for me to trust anyone again. When I met Ken, 51, a year later, through a friend, I was wary.
‘You understand I don’t like men any more,’ I told him.
‘As long as you like me, I don’t care,’ he shrugged, smiling.
Over time, I found Ken was special and we married a year later.
With his help, and counselling, I feel stronger than ever and started an organisation called SELF – Self Empowerment, Life Fulfillment – which raises money to help victims of domestic violence.
I also wrote a book about my experience to help women recognise the warning signs.
I might have broken up with Patrick, but he didn’t succeed in breaking me.
• Stalked! From Victim to Victory, A Journey to Self, by Sandi Musk and Anita Levine, is available to buy at
Sandi Musk, 47, Oakland Township, Michigan, USA