Read the full books here for free. What Happened to Paul Carter? VOL I The very true story of love, passion & a Hitman. Chapter 1

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What Happened To Paul Carter?

The very true story of love, passion and a Hitman.

VOL I

Katherine De Bois

Katherine De Bois LLC

2017

Other Works by Katherine De Bois

What Happened to Paul Carter VOL II Collateral Damage

Copyright © 2017 by Katherine De Bois

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review or scholarly journal.

First Printing: 2017

ISBN 978-0-9992339-1-7

Katherine De Bois LLC
16192 Coastal Highway Lewes, Delaware. USA

www.whathappenedtopaulcarter.com

 

 

Dedication

For all the loves in my life, and

my son, whom I love more than he will ever comprehend.

To the moon and back, and all the stars in the sky.

And for all the women who have loved and been loved,

and for all those that haven’t.

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Paul, for without him loving me, this book would never have been written. I would also like to acknowledge my beautiful son, for he is the motivation that kept me focused to finish it. I am forever grateful to my wonderful friends and clients who have shown extraordinary kindness and empathy as I travelled this journey.

As a reader, please forgive me. I am no professional writer.

I did my best.

 

 

Chapter 1

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength,

while loving someone deeply gives you courage.

Unknown

March 9th 2015

I’m driving in the dark without my glasses, trying to figure out exactly where I am, which is a challenge considering I can hardly see the road, let alone the signs.

‘Where am I?’ This is ridiculous and under the circumstances, I don’t need to be adding anymore stress. I need to look and feel truly calm, not flustered and panicked. My stomach is churning.

It isn’t everyday you arrange to meet a hitman, and my grasp of the unfolding situation is a few feet distanced from reality. I’m terrified that my knowledge of exactly what is happening, may be a few months behind where I should be. I’m petrified that I have done the wrong thing, and that I’m probably walking straight into a trap.

Tonight I need to be in the moment.

‘God I wish I had gone to the loo.’

I’m not lost, just navigating towards another meeting with more strangers in the middle of nowhere, but at least the road is 3 lanes wide and relatively straight. I glance down at my phone’s GPS and scroll the map forward. The blue line goes forever. Another 20 minutes before I need to turn. I put it back between my legs, safely nestled in the voluptuous folds of the tulle skirt that I chose for this auspicious occasion, and lightly laugh at myself. Only I would have stressed over what to wear.

Before leaving home, I had texted George, a trusted friend.

I’m going to 1 Stantham Court. East Morang. If I have called this wrong, all my money is under the bed. Give it to Oliver.’

The response was valid.

Are you kidding? I don’t want you going there. Katherine, that’s crazy. It’s just too dangerous. It’s a trap. I know they say they need your help, but who cares. They are nobody to you. Don’t be stupid.

‘George, it needs to be sorted and if it helps bring that asshole to justice then I have always said I am prepared to be the sacrificial lamb. You want your money don’t you? I want answers. I need information. I want proof. I need it finished and I’m just so over everything. I’ll message you when I leave, but if you don’t hear from me, then call the police, you know what has happened.’

‘Katherine, just keep this call on. I’m not happy. I think it’s a trap. I’ll be around the corner. Did you tell the police yet?’

‘No, I don’t have enough evidence yet, and you don’t have to be involved.’

“Katherine I am so invested in this. I will be around the corner. Any trouble, I will be there before it happens. Don’t hang up on me. I feel sick.”

He feels sick. Know the feeling. My chest is pounding in my ears. Adrenalin is coursing. My head feels empty. Numb. Overloaded to the point of nothing. The veins on my hands are thick welts running towards my fingers. It’s sort of fascinating watching my body react, and objectively, it’s distracting.

The evening shadows of trees and houses blur and my chest is forcing long calm breaths. Chestfuls.

How did this happen? I’m not even meant to be in Australia still. I’m meant to be married and happily living in New York. That was our plan, right?

Man of my dreams, Paul. Paul Carter.

6 ft 2, eyes of blue. All the romance and fantasy, that I didn’t think I had been looking for. There it was on a platter. Paul. Perfection on a plate. Yes, that is exactly what it is.

I was happy because I had it all. We were both so passionately in love with everything about each other. It had been perfect. I want it to stay this way. So much of me wants to sort this all out and have him come and sweep me off my feet.

He always said. “You make me a better man, Katherine. I hope I am worthy of you.”

I used to struggle comprehending that sentiment. I felt that I brought nothing to the table. I was not in his league. He was everything.

He was the life of the party, could handle every situation, always made people feel at ease, while I stumble over my words and freak at meeting strangers. He is fiercely loyal, protective, strong, funny, loving and super intelligent. As if that wasn’t enough, he is good looking, charismatic,  charming and clearly generously wealthy.

A large man, in size and stature. Dark hair, light olive skin, with pale blue eyes framed by thick black lashes and a smile that would light up an entire room. He’s a head turner and boy, do those girls turn. For that matter, so do the men.

Seriously what did he see in me?

Something. Obviously. He adored me. I knew it. Everyone knew it.

What the hell? How can everything have changed so much? Why has he been taken away? What has happened to the perfect man I love? I feel like I’m being punished. Why was I allowed to be with him in the first place? Are the stories true? I cannot reconcile how my world went from paradise to this nightmare of thugs, lies, thieves, cons and betrayals, let alone living  under the shadow of a ‘hit.’ I just don’t understand why I got thrown into it. When am I going to reach the bottom, so I can climb over and out? When will any of this make sense?

Hopefully tonight will provide the answers and I can put it all behind me, but I know my Paul will never be found, no matter how many people try.

I glance down and realize the turn is ahead and start to concentrate on the road. The side streets of East Morang are narrow and windy. I feel uncomfortable by the mere fact that I can see gumtrees on the nature strips. Suburbia. This one, in particular, was the back of beyond breeding ground for sleeve tattoos, mediocrity and thugs, specifically known for it’s bogun population. I do not belong out here.

My heart is pounding in my throat.

The polite voice of my GPS announces. “In 20 meters, turn right. You have arrived at your destination.”

I pass by the house and turn back around at the end of the court, parking on the exit side of the street. If it gets bad and there’s a chance to get to the car, I’d like a clear escape route. This being said, I’m in stilettos, so I’m doomed already. Whatever happens tonight, I’m doing it in style.

I leave the car unlocked and walk across the road, taking a breath of bravery that is so large it moves my shoulder blades, and steel myself for all the  possibilities of the evening. I stop, look down at the tips of my shoes and let my eyelids deliberately close. It’s not even half a second, but long enough to become a more centered and courageous version of myself. My congenial facade is flashed on and a shiver goes down my spine. I raise my head, opening my eyes and stare forward. What have I got to lose? It’s this way or the slow way. The rational part of my brain doesn’t believe any of this is real anyway. My life is too average for this drama level.

I feel nothing. I’m on autopilot. I am ready. 

Another deep breath, then I delicately navigate my heels up the cobbled driveway towards a tall, young man standing at the top of the stairs near the front door.

Dark haired. He is coming down to greet me. “I heard you pull up. Thanks for coming.” He sounds sincere.

“Hi Tony.” I lean in and kiss him on the cheek. Let the bizarreness begin. This face, I have at least seen before, but as he leads me through the foyer, I wonder whose side he’s really on.

Keep your friends close. Your enemies closer. Never a truer word spoken.

Until recently, he used to work for Paul. Yes, the hitman’s son worked for Paul, and I had met him briefly, once at a BBQ 10 months ago. He knew the truth then, and never felt the need to tell me. He has certainly betrayed me before, allowing me to be surrounded by all the lies. At the same time, I also think he may have inadvertently protected me. What were his motives then? Where are his loyalties now?

He smiles and guides me inside. It’s awkward and tense. I’m trying to get my bearings, and feel the vibe of the house.

His mother, Filomina, is standing in the entrance. I have never met her, but she has been a Facebook “friend” for a couple of months. Same height as me. Only 5’4.” Bleached, blonde hair in a sharp cut, and a warm smile. I lean in and give her a gentle hug and a kiss.

Then there is Kara, Tony’s sister, and apparently a client of my beauty salon at some point in time. I only know this fact as her name is in our data base and comes up on my phone. Her mother’s daughter in looks. Striking red lipstick across perfectly shaped, pouting lips. Dark hair. Maltese. They bred well.

I walk towards her. “You must be Kara. It’s lovely to finally meet you.” She and I give each other a genuine tight hug and I whisper in her ear. “Thank you for telling me.”

I feel the threat of an emotional tear try to glaze my right eye.

She gently pulls back and looks me straight in the eyes. “You needed to know. As a woman, I would want to know.”

Behind her, in the kitchen, I see a grey headed man approaching. He is  balding and the hair he has left is pulled back into a thin plait. Tall, big and strong. He is older than me, maybe late 50’s. Eyes of a poker player, giving nothing away. I can’t decide if he looks more like a Vietnam vet, or a biker. Either way, I’m dead if this goes bad.

“You must be Vito.” We walk towards each other, our hands mutually rising for a handshake. His politely. He expected this greeting. It was respect.   Personally, I can’t stretch far enough away from my own hand. I want      distance. There will be no hug here. I’m terrified, and at the same time, proud of my stupidity, or is this courage? Add it to the list of things I don’t know.

I can’t read faces very well but I look him in the eyes as we shake. They are impenetrable. I am scared. I am polite. I call the bluff.

“Thank you for not killing me yet.”

“That’s OK love.”

The lack of denial hits the pit of my stomach. The casual acceptance of what I just said was mind fucking. This is actually happening. He has really been hired to kill me. I am in his house and he may still carry the deed out. This is so ridiculous. Epitome of surreal. I know that these are the facts but I can’t compute them. Clearly, none of this is normal.

I cannot believe the reality of the situation.

Hopefully, I am now worth more to him alive than dead but I suppose it  depends on a fair few things. Firstly, does he really need my help? Or is this just a setup? What about all the stuff I don’t know, and what is it that they hope I do know? Am I going to be able to be of help to them and what if I can’t? The incessant chatter in my head questions whether I’ll be leaving this house tonight. Walking or body bag? Another reason to dislike the ‘burbs.

I’m ushered into the kitchen and we sit down at the grey, marble counter. Filomina offering me a coffee, which I accept, joking that under the circumstances, maybe something stiffer would be more appropriate.

Before I had left home, I had debated about whether to bring Scotch as a peace offering, but wasn’t sure whether you brought gifts to your potential killer’s home. Someone should write an etiquette book on the subject. They’d make a killing. I smirk inwardly at my silent repartee. Nothing feels real.

Vito is sitting on a stool at the far end of the bench, leaning against the wall. There’s a mounted phone beside his head. I realize I have to ask.

“So he really hired you to kill me then?”

His voice is heavily accented, European, and his demeanor genuine.

“Yeah.”

WHAM. It was like being hit in the face, chest and stomach simultaneously. Body blow of destruction. An eyebrow raise and a non comprehending slight shake of my head, as I try to accept the finality of my reality.

Emotional heartbreak stabs through my chest crushing my very being. The desire to be dead, crumples my brow and my eyes drop shut, taking me into the safety of blackness.

I immediately force them open to face these facts. That’s what I’m here for. Knowledge. Knowledge I leave with and use, or I die trying. Literally.

Nearly too exhausted to care. ‘Be brave.’ The self talk is incessant. I have become a Nike ad. ‘Just do it.’

Filomina leans across the counter and hands me the freshly made coffee as she asks. “So how did you find out?”

Fair enough question, I suppose. We all have our concerns. This is all so blase, it’s as if we are discussing grocery prices. “I first knew about the threat, the day after I found out about Paul. It was a lot to take on board in a short time.”

She looked at me.

“You know, the 10th, Filomina. The 10th of September.” Even as I said it, I felt my heart hankering for the simplicity of the nightmare as it was, back then. As horrendous as it was at the time, it was plain and simple. This was now just the universe’s arse’s act.

These people needed to know I was being honest. Or at least think I was. I suck at poker. I glanced towards Vito, aware that tonight required a lot of direct eye contact. Then I stared at him. I was hurt and angry.

“Vito, that man cold heartedly told me that you had called and asked if I was a problem. He informed me, that if I was, then you were going to sort me out. That you were concerned as to whether I was now a threat to your    mutual business projects and that you were happy to solve the issue by    putting me through a tree shredder at a pig farm.”

“You understand this right? The night before I had just lost my partner and I wake to this. The beginning of the end.

All I had was that shattering phone call the night before and everything changed. As you know, Kara, that changed my life.”

She looked at me and gave everyone, (there were now two more teenagers in the kitchen), a surprised innocent, confused look. I took it on board. Oh my God, she just publicly denied that she had made that first anonymous call to me. Yet, didn’t she just admit it in my ear when I arrived. Tread   carefully Katherine, these people are not your friends. They aren’t even loyal to each other.

“Obviously that was a pretty ghastly night all round and this is what I deal with the next day. That now I’m viewed as the problem. I still can’t get my head around this. ME!. …. I’m now the problem?”

Vito didn’t flinch.

But then my focus moved abruptly. I was suddenly aware of the presence of yet another person.

Shivers.

Casual side glance and a toss of my hair so I can subtly look over my  shoulder. A solid, big, cumbersome man, coming up from behind. I took half a breath.

“Gerry.” Vito’s smile was warm and inviting, as they shook hands like mates catching up at a summer’s day BBQ. Honestly what have I walked into?

“Gerry, this is Katherine. Katherine, this is Gerry, works with Paul.”

Another face to another name.

I take a large lungful of air, accompanied by an electric shiver down my spine. The hairs on my arms lift and then immediately subside.

“Nice to meet you, Gerry. I believe you’re not necessarily a fan either?” Over the last few months, I had acquired a bit of background knowledge on a few random people. Every new face implicating and incriminating another person. Tattling on each other. Divulging separate secrets that when put together were slowly making a simple story into an unimaginable suspense filled drama. I was aware my life had become a film. A John le Carre epic. It had begun as a romance.

This didn’t mean that anything I thought I knew was true. The layers continued to unfold.

“No, love. No. That bastard has cost me millions. Sorry ‘bout what’s happened to you though. Better now than later. You’ll be alright in the end and we will find Paul, OK?”

That was a matter of opinion. What would be better, was that none of this had happened. What would be best, was that I had been allowed to happily marry Paul, and be living with the man that loved me. Happily ever after, in New York. That would be the better and best scenarios. Not any of this. This is what is referred to as the beyond worst scenario for one’s life. I just wanted Paul back.

Vito obviously was going to control the conversation and drive the message home. “Yeah, Gerry, we were just talking about how Katherine has become a bit of a problem.”

“I can see that.” Gerry smiled, settling himself in behind my chair, with his hand resting across the back.

I’m back to shitting myself again.

Filomina laid her hands open, palms down on the bench in front of me. “Well, the man IS an ass. He is cold hearted and will do anything to get the job done. You should have seen him, storming around here, when he didn’t get the money.

The kitchen erupted into laughter from everyone. Tony interjected. “Yeah. He was marching up and down the family room right there.” He pointed to the TV area behind me.

Filomina laughed. “He was swearing and cursing. Saying it wasn’t fair. He only needed another week and he would have got it all. All that effort organizing everybody. Bribing. Threatening. It had all gone to plan. A total waste of his time now she knows. Oh my God, he was furious that you had got in the way.”

What money?? What bribing? What plan? Are they talking about things I already know? I’m here to negotiate my life. What are they now talking about? Are they in on something more than I know? Oh god, probably. Clearly. I know nothing. Shit!

They were still all laughing, oblivious to my confusion.

Kara and Filomina looked at each other. There was something between them. A secret. Do I need to know? Is it, that Filomina really knows that Kara is the one that caused this? Is she covering for Kara?

She continued. “He really wanted you dead then, that’s for sure. He’d put all that effort into getting your money and now you had accidentally prevented him. He was crazy angry and switched from his initial plan of conning you, to having you killed, right there. Stood in front of the TV and swung around facing Vito.

‘Kill her Vito. Just kill her. Her and her bloody ungrateful son.’”

They all were all talking at the same time. One over the top of the other, repeating what he had been yelling.

“It was suddenly so much easier. Less effort.”

“Wished he’d done it earlier. Less fucking around.”

“It made no difference to him.”

“He said that he knew you were both there just waiting for the Carter      inheritance.”

A cacophony of wounding words.

“He had a contract with you.” She distracted herself. “Why would you sign anything with that man? Did Paul think that was a good idea? I mean no one in their right mind would go up against him. They are all formidable business men. What? What was the contract? Were you selling him your business? Did you become partners? Did you sign something without reading it?… He never went into that detail but he said ‘it’ would hold for a little longer. So you must have agreed to something. Suddenly, he didn’t care how it was done. Just wanted Vito to fix it.”

My mind flicked to the amount of legal documents I had signed in the last year. ‘Was I paying attention to every single one? There had been so many meetings with so many solicitors and business men. Regardless, and more to the point, I hadn’t accidentally prevented anything. It was Kara who contacted me. I still have the texts. Kara, Ash, Tony and the rest of that millennial group. They caused this landslide, not me. Not me at all!’

She interrupted my thoughts. “But, after everything you had been through, with the rape, and your son and the burns.” She slowed for a second as she saw the look on my face, “Yes, Paul told us about your past. Sorry love. You’ve had a really horrid time, so I told Vito not to do anything. You realise Vito didn’t make that call. It’s the other way around. He was asked to kill you, but I didn’t think it was fair. Enough is enough for one life time don’t you think?”

“I couldn’t agree more.” I replied.

Inwardly, my mind just caved in on itself. I could hear an external buzz weirdly inside my head. Out of body. Of the few things I expected tonight, this hadn’t been one of them. That was my past. My personal, revolting past. Casually thrown in to conversation. Rape! Burns! Skin grafts! My son!  Casual, as if we are best friends with the right of knowledge, full disclosure, trust and shared secrets, but this isn’t the case. I haven’t told them my story and I feel it has been used against me, and yet she is saying it’s what kept me alive.

I feel my brain whirring through all this. Blurring. Refocussing. Fogging.

Yay, that she felt I had had enough shit for one life time, but what the fuck? Yay, she deemed me worthy of living. WOW. There is no holding back here. No editing for my benefit. Well, no, let’s rethink. There is no editing for the benefit of my feelings. I am very clearly still viewed as expendable and they are only telling me things they want me to know. The only editing here will be for their benefit.

My mind drowning in it’s own thoughts. The way I just took hit after emotional hit.

The words were circling, uncaught in my head.

‘Was conning me for my money.’

‘Happy to just kill me if it was easier.’

‘I’m so dispensable?’

‘I’m alive because I was raped?’

‘Who drops this into conversation?

A hitman and his family, that’s who. This is their life. They don’t care that I’m reeling. They want that.

But this isn’t all true. I’m not alive because she took pity on me. It may have been months ago, but not now. Even I know that. I’m alive because they think I can help them recover $500,000 that the asshole who wants me dead, conned them out of.

Ah the irony.

The hitman betrayed by the very person who hires him, and so now the tables have turned.’

Regardless I’m still not safe.

Filomina looks me in the eyes and I try to refocus as she says. “How did Paul allow this to happen? He is normally so in control. This is, um, what does he say?”

“A cluster fuck” Tony helped fill the gap.

“Yeah,” Gerry drawled. “Pretty sure Paul has just done a runner. Safer away from all of this. He hates drama. His life has always been too easy. He’ll return when it’s calmed down. Not that he should have left you with this mess. We can’t make sense of it. Let alone with the threat of danger.”

Filomina interjected. With a caring, sisterly look on her face.

“True though, if you’re viewed as a threat, imagine how some people may now see Paul. Although he has just angered them more by disappearing, leaving us to all pick up the pieces. I bet he surfaces when he thinks it’s safe.”

Is she trying to reassure me everything was going to be ok? I’m not convinced.

Vito gives me another encouraging look and asks me to explain how I knew about him.

“Well, I was coming in from the garage. I had been getting ready to leave and he was suddenly just sitting at the dining table, looking vaguely familiar, but obviously not anyone I knew, and as it turned out, you two were talking on the phone. Clearly I had no idea it was you. I was still shocked and scared that he was sitting there. When he realized I was near, he hung up and said.

“That was the ‘Toe Cutter’ on the phone. You know…, Vito. Vito Falcone. He has that name for a reason Katherine. He solves problems. I’m pretty sure, you have always known that.”

At the time, my scared and panicked brain had tried to filter the news. Deep down, yes, I had known something. I’d heard conversations that were never muted, they were out in public domain between business men. Various things. That ‘the Toe Cutter had been used to sort a problem’ or that someone may have to ‘get the toe cutter to go fix an issue.’ It had never been exactly spoken as to how, but I had got the gist, that the Toe Cutter solved problems by force or coercion. To be honest, I thought it was just a tough nickname, not a lifestyle. I had never asked. I had pretended not to hear. I hadn’t known that this was Vito’s moniker. At the time it was new news.

I looked at Vito. He raised his eye brows in acknowledgement and nodded his chin forward, as a sign to keep talking.

“I asked him if he was threatening me? And he said, ‘No Katherine, just thought you should know. I’m just the messenger.’ I told him that I wasn’t too scared of dying as I had had a fairly shitty life, and he assured me that, ‘I’d end up begging for mercy. They all do.’”

“Go on.” Vito wanted to hear more.

“Well, He told me, ‘that you said I was already an issue that needed to be solved, and would definitely be a bigger problem if I kept asking questions and that I needed to remove all evidence of being in a relationship with Paul and the photos. Best if I no longer existed really.’ He told me that, ‘you and he obviously just felt the need to make sure I understood’ and he reminded me that ‘I was a mother and you weren’t to be trusted as you go off the  handle.’ He made sure I understood that ‘you wanted to remove me by using a tree shredder and that I shouldn’t put my son in danger.’”

The kids were all quiet but smiling. A collection of knowing smirks spread around the kitchen. I was completely outnumbered here. Gerry was silent, breathing behind me.

Vito and Filomina both looked a bit flushed;  A bit put out.

I was sick of this shit. This game that I had no idea how to play. “What? Isn’t that what you two discussed?” I blurted it, clearly annoyed.

Everyone in the kitchen knew this was true, except, maybe, Gerry. Again Filomina answered. “Firstly, no one would ever touch your son, Katherine. He has nothing to do with this. It’s not what’s done. I wouldn’t allow that. God if he had said that to me. OMG. I would have killed him on the spot with my bare hands. No one threatens my family.”

In my head, I thought. ‘Yes, you’re right Filomina. No one threatens my boy either. But, I’ve done, and am doing, everything I can to sort it.’ Why did they think I was there, if not to try and ensure my son’s safety. I certainly wasn’t there altruistically. I looked at Vito questioningly.

“No, love, that’s right. If there’s a problem it would get sorted but not your kid. No, I’m just surprised he was stupid enough to use my name. He shouldn’t have told you my name. That’s just wrong. Disloyal, you know. That’s his problem. No loyalty. I told you on the phone the other day. Wild angry rogues are more of a danger than professionals.”

“Yes, but that wasn’t about him. You were talking about someone else who also wants to kill me.” Who knew I was so important?

“Same blood type, Katherine. Desperate, conniving. Ruthless. That man has done some terrible, terrible things in his time.”

I was trying to stay with the conversation as my mind pieced things together. ‘You aren’t so loyal, or predictable either, are you? Any of you. I’m here at your invitation. You were going to kill me only weeks ago, until you realised I may be of use to you, because now you have been conned like everyone else, and I may have information to help rescue the situation. I have literally been in hiding for months, enduring a campaign of belligerent intimidation, but now you say you have turned on the very man you were working for. You want to use me for what I may know, to help get your own justice and revenge.’ From our previous phone calls, I think the tree shredder is going to get used one way or the other.

Time to clear the air. “So that’s how you would have done it then? In a shredder at a pig farm?”

“Yeah, it’s pretty clean.”

WOW! This reality just doesn’t have any soft landings.

“So you were really going to do it then?” He just looked through me. I felt his lack of conscience spear my body. He would have done it without a care in the world. This is so real, it’s bordering on ignorant that I ever doubted it. I have been in legitimate danger for 6 months probably more, and yet I’ve only told a few close friends, because I don’t want people to think I’m crazy.

“So, um, exactly how much would that cost, you know, to remove me as a problem.” I suppose I want to know how much I was worth dead. Also how much it might cost to counter offer the deal. What has my world become???

“Well, I took the first $5,000 and the other ten went to The Hells Angels. He had to come with me to hand it over.”

Total shock. A million thoughts machine gun across my brain.

‘So cheap. Who knew?’

OMG. Really? He is being so brutally honest. Is this how murderers and hit men talk? Even in the Soprano’s they kept the women out of it. It was hidden.’ My knowledge of the underbelly of society is limited to TV. This is just so casual. The kids are here.

In films they only ever tell their victims the truth before they kill them.

Why? Why would he admit this?

Of course. I’m either not making it out of here, or he doesn’t care as I have no witnesses. Fuck, I hope George can hear this. It’s not as though I can check.

And now The Hells Angels are involved?

What the hell? Literally!

I still had my sense of humour. Sort of. Twisted. Ironic. Disbelieving. Naive.

So payment has already been exchanged!

This isn’t a hypothetical. I’m really wanted dead. I’m hated that much. I’m such a danger. To what???? It was a whine. A pathetic, confused whine. Why on earth am I needed dead?

I’m sitting with a hired killer who has been paid to carry out the job. My stomach is turning. I can hear it. I want it to stay silent. I’m still trying to feign being nonchalant. I have spent six months trying to gain information, dig up evidence and stay alive at the same time. I’m obviously outnumbered, outmaneuvered and out played. I have only a few things    protecting me. Long term, I’m relying on my ability to research and write. The other is my friends. And mostly on fellow victims. Not much protection  under the circumstances.

“Alright then, if we are going to be this open, I need to be honest and say, I’d be stupid to pretend I don’t still think I’m at risk. Huge risk. Apparently there’s more than just one person after me. I’m shocked to think that I’m so important, so hated and I suppose, that I’m considered such a threat, and that you have accepted responsibility to do the task. That you have recently also warned me that I’m better off with you than the ‘angry rogue’ also after me, doesn’t make me feel any better. A bullet is a bullet.”

I remember just feeling sick in my stomach. Exhausted. Part of me egged on the bullet. Bring it on. Finish this pain.

“Because you are on my Facebook, you know I’ve written a book and although it needs to be edited, right now, my solicitor has a copy, and there are several on USB sticks stored with people. I just need to be clear, that if  anything happens to me or my son, that your names have not been changed. So it reads like an enormous police statement. Dates, times and your identities. Just so we are clear. I may still be killed but they will come straight to your door. If we are here tonight to strike a better arrangement for me and you to work together, then that book has a better use for all of us and I’d change your details as you wish. I will do what it takes to finish all of this, once and for all. This all needs to stop. Paul needs to be found. I want to have him come back home to Melbourne, and I personally wouldn’t mind being allowed to live my life quietly and safely.”

Bluff or fact? Even I didn’t know anymore.

Writing? – Yes. 175,000 words worth.

Did my solicitor have it? – Yes.

Were there USB sticks and emailed copies? – Yes

Anywhere near finished? – No. Because more stuff kept surfacing.

Useful? – Perhaps.

Weapon? – Maybe if I were to throw it.

Threatening enough to keep me alive? – I’m about to find out.

Tony was sitting on the counter top beside the sink. He laughed.

“No, Keep our names. I want to be famous and I want him to know, that I helped bring him down., but to do any of this, we probably need to figure out where Paul is. Sorry Katherine, but what a coward. Leaving you like this. With all the questions. He obviously has all the answers.”

In the corner of a quiet part of my mind. ‘Am I going to get through this? If so, when? Am I going to get the answers, that I need to walk out unharmed, satisfied, sane and exonerated? Or have I just walked into the easiest setup?’

I hate that I am having to deal with this. This can’t be how the nightmare ends, with me voluntarily meeting the hitman, hired to kill me and him actually doing it.

That would be anti climactic and I feel in my core, that it’s not how I want this game to be played out. I’m not quite sure of the rules yet, but I am risking my life that this isn’t how it ends. Not tonight at least. Perhaps.

Vito got off his chair and walked towards me. The hackles on the back of my neck again stood up and I saw the hairs on my arm raise on top of goose bumps. Fight or flight in action. I had no physical fight in me. I looked    defeat in the eye. Let it be. So this is how it ends. I felt beaten but strangely calm. I’d been on the run for four months: and scared for a lot longer.

“It’s all good love. Let’s see what can be done to sort this, one way or the other. Come on, we should all go outside and have a glass of wine.

I followed him out to the courtyard. Into the dark, aware of the instability of my ankles, and the twitching of my knees. I am not safe here. The backyard flashed with lights, revealing a gazebo and BBQ table.

Filomina followed out with glasses and a bottle of red wine, as Vito sat across from me. He gave me a compassionate look and suggested I take a seat opposite him. “What a mess. So much money. So many victims. Katherine, you’ll need to tell us what you know about the missing inheritance. That’s where we will find our compensation. No one messes with my family. But, first, tell me, what do you think has happened to Paul? Has anyone found his car yet?”

Vito has to appear like he cares, he wants information from me. I highly doubt it’s genuine concern for my broken heart: My grief: Obviously not for my fear. I had a feeling that Vito actually really knew the answer to his own question, but then again maybe he didn’t. I knew nothing.

“Don’t worry, Katherine, we’ll find him. There’s so many people out there looking. You know, I’m sure he’s doing just fine.”

‘Is Paul fine?’ I wondered to myself. ‘Is he ok? I don’t think so.’ I miss him so much it hurts to be alive. Am I ok? Personally I believe my beautiful Paul is gone forever. My best hope is that they at least find Paul’s body and    allow me to mourn all I have lost. As for the new asshole who wants me dead, well that’s a whole different story. Two different people. Two very different feelings.

I am so heart broken.

 

What Happened to Paul Carter? VOL I. The very true story of love, passion & a Hitman. Chapter 2 & 3

Chapter 2

September 11, 2014

What has just happened?

I’m sitting in my shop, the curtains are drawn and I can barely move. I have some type of flu. Breathing in, I am aware of the effort. I am acutely aware of my body. The tingling in the tips of my fingers, the tightness of my throat, the buzz in my head.

I lost my partner last night.

The fog, I feel it coming through my eye balls, hazing my thoughts. The  furrows on my forehead crushing down as I search through the memories, trying to make sense of it all.

I woke this morning to be told someone wanted to put me through a tree shredder.


I think last night was the worst night of my life, and this morning was just unnecessarily random and cruel. Why, would the universe do this to me? Where is Paul? He is meant to be my protector, my partner. I need to feel the safety of his arms around me. I want to hear him tell me that everything will be all right. I want him to come and fix this quagmire, this disaster, this, oh, so obviously a parallel reality, for it is not mine. He fixes everything. Where are you? What has happened to you? My mind just swirls in panicked     disbelief. I am more shocked than scared. I’m aware, that I obviously know nothing. Nothing except, I don’t deserve this.

If karma is a truth, I must be the most evil person on the planet. I don’t want to believe I am a bad person, let alone deserve this. No one deserves to feel this. Nothing makes sense. Something will make it all right again. I just need to be still. I need to breathe.

I want my bliss back. I know that’s just a state of mind. Temporary at best, and finely reliant on the synchronicity of the universe. The kindness of timings. Once experienced nothing else will do. Paul is my bliss and I am certainly his.

Sitting, staring, unfocussed, I’m suddenly painfully aware of the fragility of too much happiness. Three weeks ago, I was celebrating my engagement with the man who adored me: the man whom I adored. We celebrated our love, our future, our happiness, our fortune at finding each other. We rejoiced with family and friends at our good luck to have found each other. Since the day he met me, he had proudly announced that I made his life complete.

Now. Nothing is the same.

He spoke of electricity, of breathing as one. I was happy. We were happy. We were besotted with each other. Whirl wind love and passion. The stuff of romance novels.

“Oh my god, how lucky are we? To both love like this. To feel the counterpart to your own being in the eyes of another.” He was forever telling me how lucky he was.

The depth of his sincerity, over rode his passionate corniness.

As numb and slow as I currently feel, these flashbacks are comforting, and I want to immerse myself in them, but, just as I shut my eyes and retract into the past, I’m suddenly jolted out of the warmth of my memories as a loud, over revved car flies past the shop, startling me back from the past and  hurtling me into the ugly present of the now.

The “now” that I don’t want.

There’s an irony. Suddenly I want the solidity of the past or perhaps take my chances with the hopes of the future. I definitely don’t want this moment, where the pain and shock are so great I can’t even comprehend them. Speed this up. Get this over with. Get me to the tomorrow where I may feel better.

I have become Paul wanting to rush through the present into a better future.

I smile at the irony.

My body is incapable of anything but sitting. I physically ache. My eyes flicker through the memories like a broken film roll. If I can pull it together, it may make sense. Maybe I can understand, undo, unhurt. Maybe I can fix this.

Stop threatening to feel, Katherine.

Don’t hurt.

Just remember.

The overriding feeling about the past year, is one of awesome love. The big love. The one. My memories are filled with passion, love, laughter. Enormous highs, hugs and reassurance. Safety and security. Of being able to breathe. It was social and fun. Extreme and surprising. Fast paced, but worth it.

And challenging. It was definitely challenging. I had made it harder than it needed to be, just to fall in love and be happy. My bliss. I will always think of this year as the time I loved, and was loved like no other. We were one. Paul’s life had consumed me, and I now needed him to breathe.

How could the universe do this to us? Separate us? Put me, and my son, in so much danger. I don’t understand, but I will.

I open the laptop and go to Facebook. Yes, it happened. I’m engaged. I feel the massive solitaire on my left hand. It doesn’t seem real but there’s the evidence. It wasn’t a dream. The first 11 photos, that the photographer sent through to Paul, who immediately uploaded them on to our shared Facebook page. Our happiness. There for the world to see.

Everyone was thrilled for us. You can see it on their faces. I was so, all    encompassingly, loved. We were clearly both inordinately happy.

The engagement was August 23rd and the wedding was booked for the 29th of November. Everything on speed dial. Paul rushing head long into his  future, and me always a few steps behind trying to catch up. A honey moon in Bora Bora and a permanent move to New York, before Christmas. We would take nothing and start complete afresh. All Paul’s choices. He would tell me all the time, how perfect our lives were going to be.

“You’re going to love it, Princess. You deserve everything, because you ask for nothing.”

I agreed. Being with him was wonderful. The rest a bonus.

He was literally bursting with excitement. Planning our future. Listing goals. Like an impatient, enthusiastic teenager, just wanting to get on with his life, on his terms. He wanted the engagement and wedding to be bigger and better than any of my suggestions. The size of his love. He told me all the time. ‘I want you to have everything you ever dreamed of. I want you to feel how much I love you, and know how important you are to me. I want everyone to know that you’re ‘The One.’’

I struggled with the speed; the intensity. His devotion was overpowering and I couldn’t believe I deserved it. I’d said I would be happy marrying in a  Registry office with just our immediate family. He was horrified, yet I had tried to convince him.

“But your Dad is about to marry Grace in a civil ceremony, and it keeps it pure; Purely about the marriage. Lovely and simple.”

“Katherine, they are old. Marrying there is a sign that they are over everything. Finished with joy, excitement and passion. I think I can do better than that. I want to celebrate and I want everyone to know that finally I have found my true love, my happiness, my bliss.”

He got his way and as a result, our engagement was over the top. Nothing was too good. He was completely involved in the planning. He would only accept the very best. He wanted me and everyone to know that I was what he had waited for. He told me time and time again. He told everyone.

I ran everything past him. The choice of caterers, Dj’s, photographers. Music, furniture hire and the venues. He chose the bigger option, the more decadent, expensive choice each time. If the engagement was lavish, our wedding was going to be an opulent extravaganza.

“Princess, this isn’t just a wedding. It’s a celebration of a marriage forever. I want to be with you till the day you die. I want the world to know, that you will make me happy for the rest of my life and I want you to always know that too. I want you to feel your worth. It is my job to make you happy and that in itself will make me the happiest man in the world. We will be amazing.”

It was excessive and effusive. It was constant devotion.

I loved him back. I hoped I deserved him. Could I really be this lucky?

Chapter 3

The engagement night was elegant and sophisticated. Just as Paul described our future life.

Sitting in the shop, now, I just stare at the photo of us entering the foyer. Mesmerised. There’s other photos of his family: my beautiful son; my precious friends. We all bare witness. I was the luckiest girl alive.

And now my beautiful Paul is missing and I’m wanted dead. I self talk my way back into my memories. Where the answers should be.

I saw everything Paul wanted, but I just wanted him. For us to be together was more than enough.

We celebrated with more than 100 family and friends. Dancing the night away with a DJ in The State Library. Everyone looked amazing. Dressed up. The whole night was a statement of love. Paul was the epitome of James Bond. Just as he liked to think of himself. Extremely handsome, debonaire, and totally the man of the night. His face beaming. I was dressed in a flame red ball gown with a beaded, corseted, bustier. For all intents and purposes, it was a wedding dress, just red. It was epic in size and commanding of attention. Paul had chosen it. I had steered more towards figure hugging black, my traditional dress code. He had insisted I stand out. We had spent days looking for it. Finally we ended up in bridal heaven, Brunswick St, a mere week before the engagement.

“It’s your night Katherine. I want everyone to see how special you are. I want everyone to remember this night. That I did it. That I got you over the line, and then we will both be gone.” He laughed. “You can wear black any day. But, in this; This dress. Only someone as beautiful and elegant as you, can pull it off. You will stand out. It’s stunning, as are you. When we move to New York, you will be able to wear it again at the openings, and charity galas. It’s perfect. When we are on the red carpet, I will be so proud to stand beside you in this dress. You will be a crowd stopper.”

He leaned forward and sang in a whisper the Joe Cocker classic. “You are so beautiful to me.”

“Ok, ok! I don’t know if I can carry it off, but the dress is gorgeous.”

“Of course you can. Anyone who can wear the wedding dress we just designed, can wear this. I can’t wait till we get married. When Aldo finishes that couture dress, it will be in the papers. You in that dress. It embodies everything we want in life. It is the epitome of elegant and sophistication. God Katherine I want to be married to you so much. You deserve this. I   deserve this.”

Paul, always in a rush. Here we were, literally still in the shop, paying for the engagement dress, to be worn in a week, and yet, without stopping for a breath, he was already moving on to the excitement of the wedding. Weeks earlier, he had taken me into Aldo Terrato, so he could design a haute couture dress. It was spectacular. My son, Oliver, had been with us and as Paul signed off on the massive deposit, out of sight, I heard him telling Aldo, that Ollie was his sole hope for the future of his little empire.

“All my dreams now rest with him. He is a great kid. Sadly my two are a bit hopeless, but now I have the chance for someone to groom. Couldn’t be happier. New wife. New life.”

I couldn’t believe how lucky and spoilt, loved, and in love I was. That Paul loved, and accepted my son was crucial.

I could hear Paul in the other room, still chatting away, while I got out of the sample dress. “Aldo, I’m going to change their lives. They have certainly changed mine. I cannot tell you how lucky I am. How much in love I am. Look at them. I’m blessed to have found them both.”

A month later, and now we were choosing this dream piece for our engagement party and he was just so full on, bursting with excitement and dreams, already impatient for the wedding. I was constantly pressing the brakes.

“Paul, I know. I know they are both beautiful, but slow down. Please enjoy the journey. Let me breathe.”

“Princess, once we get to New York, then we can relax. The quicker we get there, the sooner our lives start for real. I know there’s been a lot to do and you have had to do most of it. You need a break. I just can’t wait. That’s all. I want our lives to start. Don’t you?”

To me, I already had all I wanted. More than I needed. My life with Paul had started the day I met him. To Paul, it would begin the day we got married.

“Yes, gorgeous man, I’m excited to move and start our adventures together. I love you.”

The memories flooding in, calm my frayed nerves. Its not all reminiscing, I know the answers must lie hidden in the past. I need to relive every moment. Thankfully they are mostly wonderful, happy memories. With this awareness, I realise, that’s where the pain will be found, because it hopefully ends with me understanding why I’m now wanted in a tree shredder, at a pig farm. There must have been signs. People. Conversations. I light a reassuring cigarette and breathe in smoky courage. I let my mind wander back. Back to the engagement night.

I want Paul.

What Happened to Paul Carter? VOL I. The very true story of love, passion & a Hitman. Chapter 4

Chapter 4

The engagement celebration was epic. Eighty of my dearest friends, clients and of course, my son. Paul’s whole family came. The Carter Clan. Both his parents, in their late 70‘s with their respective new partners. Jan, his mother, and Jim, and John, his father, with his new wife Grace. Uncles and Aunts. His brother and new wife, Anna. His friends.

His two boys, both in the bridal party, were missing. There had been a disaster occur on the football field that morning and both had been hurt. Paul didn’t want to worry me with details and was calm about it. He was very apologetic to me and the rest of the bridal party. Paul’s parents were disappointed and worried about their injured grandchildren, but everyone assured me, they would be fine.

“Nothing we can’t sort tomorrow, Princess. They will be all right. Boys bounce, you know. I don’t want to dwell on it. Shit happens. Tonight is our night.”

It was sad that they were missing out on the party, but at least they would be ok. Worse can happen. There were plenty more nights and obligations for them.

The evening was full of congratulations, kisses and hugs; Meetings and   introductions. I had only met a few of his family previously, so this was a night of first impressions. They were so happy to meet me. Everyone was polite and light.

“Welcome to our family. Another Carter!”

Congratulations everywhere. Air kisses. Chatter. Clinking of champagne flutes. Polite giggles, small talk and large laughs. Excited plans for the    future. Dancing, and escaping outside for cigarettes.

When will you get married? Have you set the date? You must come round for dinner. Everyone was happy. Some were pleasantly shocked that the wedding was so soon, but Paul happily explained how impatient he was to make me his. Small talk: His business. My business. The topic of the impending government acquisition of my shop for the new tunnel, was a huge conversation with his family, as it was all new news to them. I understood. It was a fascinating tale to be one of the very few, impacted by the upcoming development. Everyone wanted to know about our plans: My son, and his plans: My red engagement dress. I hoped his family knew him well enough, to know the dress was all him. Over The Top.

I think they approved of me.

Everyone met my son, Oliver, and his lovely, quiet girlfriend, Sarah. They all said he was beautiful and charming. Naturally I agreed. He is. I’d introduced Paul’s father John, and his new wife Grace to Ollie. We tried to talk about their wedding, the cruise they had just returned from, and Ollie joked about the influx of new Carters. They looked at us blankly. They were hard work, and I realised, I must have confused the parents, and this was infact Jan and Jim. Awkwardly Ollie and I retreated, laughing at my lack of facial recognition.

Ollie thought it was hysterical. “Mum, you’re meant to be making a good impression. Jeez. Fail!”

As I had predicted and catered for, most of Paul’s side, being elderly, sat together for the majority of the night and struggled to stay much longer than the speeches. Anticipating this, we had specifically order oversized, luxurious, wing back chairs and poofs so they would be comfortable when they spent time sitting. I hadn’t quite envisaged them making a bee line for them the moment they arrived and not getting back up all night. All I could do was try to encourage my bridal party to mingle with them, and Paul was by their side for most of the night. He literally seemed to be everywhere. Larger than life, as always, with that enormous loving smile. Whenever I was chatting with his family or meeting his friends, he stayed by my side and made me feel comfortable, then he would be off, host with the most. Between us, I hope we managed time with everyone.

Family, friends and clients celebrated with us. All of them over the moon with happiness for me, for Oliver, for Paul. I was aware that I held the    fragile hearts of every single girl I knew. To them, I represented the idealistic fantasy that fairy tales do come true. The fact that I had been    perused so relentlessly and wooed by the illusive Prince Charming now meant all eyes were on me. We would laugh at work about it. The clients in my beauty salon would tell me, that I had to have the happy ending so I could give them the hope that they could too. Prove that you can have     everything!

The images caught by the photographers were magical and candid. Dancing, laughter, love. Everyone was genuinely thrilled. Love was literally in the air. It was a magical night.

It was just after the guests had finished arriving that he pulled me to the side of the reception area.

He produced a small delicate box and opened it to reveal large, heart shaped diamond earrings. He proceeded to put them gently on for me. I was shocked at their size. They were individually nearly as big as my solitaire engagement ring.

“Katherine when are you going to realise your value to me. You are worth this. In fact the truth is, you are worth so much more. Treat them as preciously as I do you. They will match your wedding ring. I love you. I can’t wait to be married and start our life.”

He escorted me back inside and proudly showed our guests the earrings, which emphasized my sparkling necklace and engagement ring. I was ridiculously spoilt.

“My Princess is worth it.”

Paul spent the evening, as with every other opportunity telling everyone how lucky he was.

“When you know, you know. It took a bit to convince her, you know what’s she’s like. I sometimes feel like I have had to drag her kicking and screaming into this relationship. Then she realized. But I knew from the moment I met her, that we are meant to be. She is so obviously part of my destiny. I have honestly never felt this way before. Knowing she wants me for me, not my money and loves me, and my faults, makes me love her even more. She makes me a better person.”

He made people tear up with his utter devotion and happiness. His love. His gratitude.

“My heart physically hurts when I am not near her. She is like a drug to me. My heroin. I want her that much.”

I glowed in the shadow of his attention and loved how he made me feel. How he made everyone feel.

He had made a speech, thanking our guests for sharing this special night with us: That we would see them all in November for our wedding, which would also be our goodbye as we were moving to New York to start a new adventure. His guests, family and mine stood around the dance floor. They all clapped. So many good wishes. Excitement. Yes, that is how some found out. A circle of well wishers. His dad, John, hugging me and wishing me well. His eyes sparkling like Paul’s. His mum, Jan, holding him by the elbows, leaning back and looking teary.

“You sure you know what you’re doing? That this will work out?”

I obviously wasn’t meant to hear, but it was a fair question from a concerned mother who had only just met her son’s fiance. Both his parents, and their new partners, had been away in Europe on a 2 month cruise together, and this was the first opportunity to meet, me, his girlfriend of only five months, now fiance. It wasn’t as though my friends hadn’t all asked the same thing. I had been standing behind her, with Louise, one of my dearest girlfriends and bridesmaid. She glanced at me questioningly, before we both heard Paul’s reassuring response.

“Of course mum, I have the right one this time.”

“You’ll be back though?”

“No, no mum. This is it. It’s my time to be happy. I want to start afresh. You can come visit my beautiful wife and I, but I won’t be back. I’m sorry. I have to look after number one. I deserve to be happy. I’ve done everything I can to set my life up. I don’t want to wait any longer. This is my final hoorah!”

His father, reaching around and hugging Paul tightly. “He knows what he’s doing, Jan. Have faith.” He turned to Paul. “I love you, son. I’m so proud of everything you have become.”

Dave, his brother grabbing him by the shoulders. “So you’re really doing this then? Going to leave us. Glad you found someone that can give you what you have been looking for. You’ve tried hard enough.” He laughed. “You and your wife better keep a room for us to visit then. You both owe me. You owe me big.”

“Sure, if we are ever home, you can visit.” They both laughed, standing shoulder to shoulder as brothers, lovingly teasing each other.

His family wished me well with the upcoming government acquisition of my shop.

“Hope you get a record price for your business. Paul loves a win.”

“Welcome to our family. Come have dinner next week.”

“You look stunning. It’s a shame more people won’t get to see you in this dress.”

“He has found what he is looking for. We are so happy for him. At last.”

Then, I saw Oliver’s face. My beautiful, angelic looking son. Even though he knew of our plans, perhaps suddenly it seemed real.

“No Ollie, no! It’s not forever. It’s a mere flight away. You and Sarah, are meant to be joining us for Christmas. I’m not leaving you. I’m just moving a bit further away. Both you and Sarah will be fine. If anything, anything at all, goes wrong, you can always just get on a plane. Paul has promised me that you will always be welcome and that he will pay for you. We still have the wedding in 3 months. It’s plenty of time. I’m not disappearing tomorrow.”

Ollie and his beautiful girlfriend Sarah were both in the bridal party and had been on host duty all night. Doing the work of six people. Sarah was one of my bridesmaids and Oliver was not only giving me away, but Paul had also asked him to be his best man. Paul had insisted because he wanted extra time to bond with his future son.

They both did me so proud. They brought their “A” game. A level, that one of my girl friends had literally said at the time, she didn’t know they had to bring. We laughed. I agreed. Those two had done such an amazing effort, I had no idea they were capable of it either. I couldn’t have been more proud of both of them. Felt the love. Oliver had greeted and chatted to absolutely everyone. Introduced himself and Sarah to Paul’s family. Sarah, who hardly says boo to anyone, was seen introducing groups of people to each other. Greeting some of my friends that she recognized, as long lost blessings. I was amazed. They had ensured our side, and Paul’s had mingled. Sarah looked gorgeous. We had brought her a baby blue chiffon Princess line   evening dress. She worked the guests all night with him. Dancing, chatting, eating and drinking.

It was late. Some of the ladies’ shoes were coming off subtly, and so, at this point of the night, Ollie, very politely, said they were tired and asked if they could go home.

“Yes! Totally fair call. You arrived an hour early. You were amazing. I love you both.”

Kiss, kiss. I cherished every second of my son’s long tight hug.

“Thank you. Seriously, thank you, Ollie.”

At the end of the evening, with dancing still going on in the background, a group of us found our way onto the floor. In elegant ball gowns, we were now sitting on the carpet. Glorious happy night. I was exhausted, but happy. Content. In love. Loved.

Paul lent in towards me.

“Perfect. Tonight was perfect. You are perfect. We are perfect, and our lives will be perfect once we get to New York. Get ready, for now we have a wedding.

You make me so happy. I will love you forever, my future Queen.”

“I love you too Paul. You are my everything.”

What Happened to Paul Carter? VOL I. The very true story of love, passion & a Hitman. Chapters 5 & 6

Chapter 5

But that was 19 days ago and life changes in the blink of an eye. A car   driving too fast, wrong place at the wrong time, an overheard comment in a restaurant bathroom, a missed call, a slip and fall, a lie. One action, one  second and everything is different.

I light another cigarette, the shop is filled with a putrid, grey cloud of smoke. The ashtray, a floral Wedgewood saucer, is overflowing with the carcasses of smoked memories. It’s dark outside. I haven’t moved from the chair in 10 hours. It’s nearly midnight. My eyes focus on the cold, marble floor, as my hand strokes firmly along the left side of my nose and across my eyebrow, as if by doing so, it can release the cause of tension knotted there. I blink. I take a breath. I try to make it a deep one, but my chest gets caught on an emotion, ragged and raw. I gasp an involuntary suck, and my body slumps back into numb. My eyelids sting as if I have been crying. I haven’t. They are swollen and heavy. I want to shut them and sink into the black. Forever.

I don’t. It’s not that easy. I just sit and remember.

The night of the engagement was something we planned in a little less than two months. Simultaneously with the wedding. It wasn’t that hard really.

“Why wait Katherine? We could date for years and then…. What? Just live together and grow old? Be boring and plain. Live in the suburbs of mediocrity. Then in ten years finally decide to get married. That’s not us. Why not do it now, while we are passionate. Start our life now. Neither of us will be happy, till I make an honest woman of you, so don’t make us wait. You’re literally procrastinating about being happy. 

Princess, you know I literally breathe in and absorb every cell of your goodness. I’m totally addicted to you. How much do want from someone before you realise they belong together?

You are part of my life’s plan. Everything that’s happened before I met you, means I’ve earned the right to be with you; to deserve you. Princess, you will make everything in my life right. God, you certainly deserve me. I’m offering more than you ever dreamed of, and you’re worthy of that world because you are so pure. I know you will do good with what I bring into your life. I have faith that you will step up. One day you will look back on everything that happens because we met, and I just know, you will be a   different person. I want to help make you an even better person. Help you to help others.

Katherine, at the end of the day, we simply have to announce that we have both finally found our soul mate. That we are going to be happy till we die of old age, together, like the couple in the photo. Curled up around each other dying at the same time. We need to get married, so all our friends and family know this is real. This is it. You are the one to turn my life around.

And I’d like Ollie to think of me as a stable father figure. He needs that in his life. I know I don’t have to marry you for that, but I think he would feel the security. I think he needs to know you are finally safe.

I want to marry you. I can see myself getting old with you, but it needs to start sooner not later.”

He was Chinese water torture. There was no denying it. Paul was determined and fast paced. I was forever telling him to slow down. He was forever telling me to catch up.

Organizing both events, focusing on the end result of a marriage for life, was instantly a full time job. My biggest whinge was that I had managed to mess my email accounts up, and four out of five stopped working, and I needed to cc everything via friends or Paul. I didn’t have time to sort the issue with my provider, so just struggled along, knowing that by the time I was married, the accounts wouldn’t be needed anyway. Utterly first world problems.

If co-ordinating invitations, addresses, seating plans, order of service, suits, bridal parties, hiring companies, wedding planners, venues and all the     minutiae involved wasn’t enough, Paul also decided to pull the pin on all of his Australian business ventures. He wanted to make a new life in America. He would liquidate his Australian interests and focus entirely on the   American side. This translated apparently, as to become entirely a man of leisure. We would make home in New York. He had suggested the West coast for the sun, but if I was moving, then it was to New York. I’m a city girl. I wasn’t prepared to move away from Oliver and then have a life I didn’t want. I’m not really a sun type of girl.

“That’s ok, my business is based in Boston, so it’s only an hour flight away. I can pop over there whenever needed and you won’t even know I’m gone. Not that we need to be involved in that, it’s self sufficient and sustaining. The person I now have in charge, is totally under my control.” He laughed. “And they have my business interests totally under control. Just doing their job making me money. So sure, we can buy a penthouse in Manhattan, if you want, but I’m telling you, Princess, you’ll last one season and hate the cold. I’ll buy you something with a stunning view of the Park, to keep you happy, and then you’ll feel guilty because we will always be traveling. You’ll never stay there. We have the time and the money now to enjoy    ourselves, and you will have the means to do whatever you want.”

In my head and to my friends, I had said, that infact he had no idea how much time we would be spending at home. I like to travel, but I just wanted to be still. I needed the calm and to be able to breathe. This was a whirl wind romance and I felt the ground spinning way underneath. Added to that, was the mounting pressure of my shop. I desperately needed a break. Time out. Too much romance, attention, movement, action and business stress. Too much of everything.

All good, he has his plan, and I’m a woman who has hers. He wanted biggest best, and I was happy with less, less, less. Anything more than I was achieving on my own was a bonus. I was aiming for normal. I was craving it. His dreams would surely slow down. He was such a home body here, now. We went out twice, three times a week, and that was only with my friends, so I figured, it would more likely be the same life, just different  geography, albeit, somewhat grander. The engagement, as Paul created it, was an indication of just that. It was lavish, and clearly over the top. I took on board this was a precursor to a lifestyle that was more than enough. It was, if anything, going to be too much….but it came with Paul.

Chapter 6

September 12. 2014

I can’t eat. I’m grateful that I still have the flu. I’ve had it four days now. Since the day before the call.

Exhaustion gnaws at my very being and I hope that eventually at some point in the later hours of the morning I will finally succumb to sleep again. But for now, I just sit. My bones ache. I’m cold and hot, and I have no idea if I feel this way from what’s happening or because I am sick. I light another cigarette and stare at the laptop. It will have answers. My phone lying beside it, indicates 78 unopened texts. It’s on silent. The constant ringing, voice mail, and Facebook posts and threads are too much to deal with right now.

What has happened to my wonderful Paul? I need him here beside me. Where are you?  My heart is crushing under the pressure, making my chest feel physically heavy.

How much do I need to know? I can’t fully believe anything. I can’t comprehend what has just happened, let alone how. Do I really want to? Isn’t this enough already? I can’t seem to make sense. I am not functioning. I’m fixated on finding an explanation that I can accept.  I think it will save me and find him. Then everything will right itself.

It’s not even logical to even think it could get worse. Because it just can’t. There is nothing left that can happen now.

1 day since I was threatened with a tree shredder and a man named Vito.

2 days since I lost my beautiful Paul.

3 days since my world came crashing down.

3 days since the phone call.

But, before then. February. A different call. The first of two that would change the direction of my life.

What Happened to Paul Carter? VOL I. The very true story of love, passion & a Hitman. Chapter 7

Chapter 7

February 12. 2014

It’s 8pm and I have just given a stranger my number. My phone rang immediately. That threw me a bit. I thought he would wait a bit, even if only to play the game. The ‘I am not desperate game.’ Instead, he dove straight in.

Two of my closest friends had been nagging me to get my act together and start going out with age appropriate men and settle down. I put a profile on a dating site. It read.

Black and white

Looking 4 that initial potential 4 a future wonderful

Need my coffee

No smokers

Genuinely believe its better to b the nicest u can just because!

Live w laughter & love first

I’m scruffy, elegant, compassionate

No one’s fool

Marshmallow encased in concrete

U hav mates 4 huntin fishin campin

Im a girl

Painfully shy w strangers – we all have our thing

Logic & reason not hormonal irrationality

No casual 1nighters

Players-i’ll out wait the game

Dinner not couch

Real gentlemen only

They say put it out to the universe. I think I did. A specific profile for a change. I’m told it culls the extreme inappropriates and undesirables who don’t meet the criteria. That being said, I have met some genuinely beautiful friends through dating.

So with my experience, rules and preference for freedom, I did not see Paul coming. I was definitely not desperate, instead I had been happily single for years. I preferred men who were honest and transparent. Safe. No possibility of hurt. Respectful. “Mature” men like to be players and talk about relationships they have no intention of pursuing beyond getting you into bed, worried about you getting your claws on what’s left of their garnished wages. I have no interest in that game. I prefer carefree.

I had prided myself on my rules; my ethics. I could pretty much say them by rote. They kept me safe. My poor clients. I would tell them. “Stick to the rules.” It kept things easy to handle. They helped sort out players from the men who were genuinely interested. I had found Paul because I refused to settle for less, only for him to be taken away. Why did I wait for the right one? What was the point. All the wise adages. Better to have loved and lost than not at all. Blah, blah. Better to curl up in a ball.

I have so, so many, many rules. Some, once broken, are instant deal breakers, some are accumulative. Three strikes and you’re out.

  • Do not be forward or disrespectful towards me.
  • Do not send cock shots. In fact, I’m not even interested in your chest. If I met you organically in a bar with friends, I wouldn’t know what your chest looked like unless I was about to sleep with you. So no, I just don’t want to see it.
  • Be single. Not married. Not separating, not separated, divorced and after a rebound then you can call me.
  • Be honest, transparent
  • Live a policy of do no harm.
  • I will not accept second best.
  • Do not live in hope. Never, ever live in hope. It either is or it isn’t.
  • Never ever chase. If he wants you, he will come.
  • Do not want someone who does not want you.
  • Never ask a question if you really don’t want to know the answer.
  • NEVER EVER play the “why” game. Why did he do that, why did he leave, why wasn’t I enough. This is a guaranteed slippery slope to pity party land. None of your friends want to play this with you. DON’T EVER USE THE WORD WHY? You can take a fun afternoon and wreck it in seconds playing this game. It is for losers, whiners and tears.
  • Never be involved on any level with another girl’s man. If he wants to cheat on his woman just to be with you then he doesn’t have a moral  compass. If you get with him, you get what you deserve.
  • I will not tolerate abuse, manipulation or power play.

And then there are my beliefs

  • How it starts is how it ends
  • I am a woman. That does not make me stupid.
  • I hold the power. The power is the word “No.”
  • There is no power in the word yes.
  • A man must value add. This is not a monetary thing. This is as, apposed to bringing grief into my life. My life brings enough drama and shit randomly. I do not need to have a man do it.
  • Once penis meets vagina, they generally want to hang out more. True  perception goes out the window so take your time on that one.
  • If I choose to sleep with you early, It’s because I do not see a future with you, and there will never be a future with you because I chose that path. This isn’t up to you.
  • Me NOT sleeping with you, is up to you though. If you are disrespectful, uncouth, sleazy, plain stupid, racist or do not try to flirt with my brain, then you will be finishing that drink on your own and sleeping with Mrs Palmer.
  • I may sleep with you in a casual arrangement if you are honest. If you are not honest, I won’t sleep with you at all.
  • I applaud players. Very few are any good. The two that have put in that much effort just to get me into bed, I have had the privilege of giving a standing ovation to. I’d also like to note that neither were that good in bed.
  • I do whom I want, when I want. This may mean you are in the queue for years. It also means I may not get any for ages as well.
  • Many of the best men I know are my friends. I value them to much to risk losing them. I hope they realise that.
  • I am master of my own destiny within the parameters of the randomness of the universe.
  • “The One” is not the one who just broke your heart. – clearly.
  • You are not spontaneously available. You are a desired plan worthy of  effort.
  • Your first date should be your best foot forward. Let’s face it, I do not want you burping at the table or having road rage on the way to dinner. If you can’t try to put your best face on for a few hours, I do not want to know how bad you can actually be.
  • Respect!
  • First impression / gut reaction will always be true.
  • I am happy on my own. I do not need a man. Period. You are sometimes nice to have around like puppies or grandchildren. Best when you can return them. I believe there are a few exceptions. We call them the keepers. They are like unicorns.
  • Do not waste your time. There are plenty of friends, people you chose not to hang out with, acquaintances etc out there. Why add another one? If they don’t measure up, then…. NEXT!

Needless to say, “NEXT” is my most common expression. I really don’t want to settle for less than what I want. I’d rather be on my own. It’s not an arrogance. I use my rules to keep safe. Safety and security are my cravings.

We all need rules, especially nowadays. The internet has opened up the opportunity to meet people, but it also meant there are just so many frogs to meet before finding your Prince. When I met Paul, everyone was excited with me.

My friends, Dianne and John, had been constantly ear bashing me about settling down with an older man. They wanted to see me happy. I thought I was, but to humor them, I went home and limited the age parameter to 38 – 55 years of age.

I rejected copiously and swiped right on four.

One was a picture of a stunning beach side house. I love property. Nothing to lose. Swipe right. He was a developer. We messaged for a bit and knew mutual friends. For no reason, it didn’t progress further.

Next was a doctor. Cocky and far too flirtatious.

Another was a father to three young ones. In the suburbs. I’ve done this. I love my son and he is enough for me. I’m not prepared to contemplate it. Know your own limitations. Next.

There was a man leaning back in an office chair. He looked familiar. His profile said he was a gentleman looking for his Princess for a fairy tale ending. Well travelled. Self employed. It was his time.

We exchanged a few inane messages over the next few weeks.

‘Hi, how was your long weekend?’

‘Good, caught up with friends

        & hung out in St Kilda. You? 

Yesterday had lunch in Williamstown

with friends and later a dinner at

Vue d’Monde to celebrate the

completion of a 70 property housing

development.

Too many Louis Cristal magnums!

Exhausted.

Going for a jog around the tan

before brunch in Sth Yarra.’

I remember my head registered, “sure, ah huh….. whatever…. Pretentious, name dropper.

Most of what is said online is over exaggerated, enhancements and embellishments of an average life. Not many have the courage to be honest or post ugly selfies, or status updates, which reflect a life that isn’t always perfect. It can be a fake world, so I take what I see and hear with a grain of salt. No one really knows anyone. We only know the version of others as they wish they were.

Then he and I so happened to both be online at the same time. Messaging banter, witty one liners, light flirt, followed by complicated ideas and emotions. We began to regularly catch up online. And then it became a month, and the conversation had morphed into lengthy conversations and personal disclosures. Literally hundreds and hundreds of messages. He still only had my attention if I had nothing else to do.

“Katherine, I’m stuck in a hotel in Bendigo after a big day checking my properties and sorting some contractor issues. I think talking to you, not messaging with your crazy typos and corrections, should be my reward and it will finish off my day beautifully.”

He asked for my number and as I felt his frustration at my incessant text fails and bizarre auto corrects, I couldn’t think of a tactful avoidance so I gave it out and now we finally heard each other talk.

His name was Paul. His voice was deep and commanding, with an Aussie twang.

He was easy to talk to and seemed open. I quickly confessed that I thought we perhaps had met before. His photos seemed familiar. He assured me it wasn’t likely.

“I only just got online the week you and I matched. I’ve been single for a long time now; 8 years and my son, Andrew was sick of me moping around. So he loaded tinder on to my phone. He said it was the best way to meet someone. I was about to delete it, to be honest. It wasn’t working. I told  Andrew it was a waste of time and he gave me that look. You know the one where they roll their eyes at our technological incompetence.”

I laughed. “Yes, as a mother, I do know that look.”

“So, apparently you have to swipe.” He chuckled.

He laughed at himself easily. “I was really hoping you and I would match. I don’t normally go for blondes but your smile; I wanted to meet the woman of that smile.”

I checked my own profile pics. I don’t like my smile at all. It would be the last thing I would be attracted to. “Well, you haven’t met me yet, but you have my number now and to be honest, I have a bit of work to do before I finish tonight, so maybe we can chat again another time?”

He took the hint, but before he said good night, he asked me out.

“Come on Katherine, grab life by the horns. I must meet the charismatic and talented lady behind the smile. How about this Sunday for lunch? I’ll pick you up?”

“Sure.” I’d replied. “I can meet you somewhere local. How about Polly’s on Brunswick St?”

“Done 12.30. I’m not a serial killer Katherine. You will be safe if I picked you up.”

“No, It’s all good. For all you know I could be the psycho axe murderer. See you then.”

Yes, this was the start. In hind sight, I think I owe Diane and John a bottle of something to drink, as a token of my belated gratitude.

I remember how strangely excited I was before our first meeting and how I was aware that it was unusual for me to even remotely care about someone that I hadn’t even met. How had that happened? I never get excited about meeting guys. Ever! It defied my logic. Why would I care, and yet, I had gone shopping with a girlfriend and spent money on a wardrobe. Not just an outfit, but options. Casual. I don’t do casual at all and I was all over the place trying to figure where this guy fits. Why did I even care? Slacks, genie pants, tops, a few dresses. What the hell? I spent $250 in a chemist. How had that happened? Tan, lipsticks, Apparently my brain was aware that each optional dress code required a different shade of lipstick.

It continued…

Brow pencil, mitt, two foundations. Where had I gone? I don’t even wear make up. My skin is flawless, and I hate the feeling of congealed crap on my skin, caking into my pores. The piece de resistance. Hair dye. My roots needed some high lightening. The assistant assured me the color would match.

I was shocked at the total as I handed my card over. I parted with, how much? For a guy I didn’t even know.

Now curled on the mattress, propped with a plethora of cushions from the reception chairs, to keep me warm, I pull back from the realization, that I lost myself in Paul, before I even met him. It shocks me to realise that his charisma, his intellect and desirability had seeped down the phone line and begun morphing me into his dream woman, before our first date. It was a fascinating observation. Was it power and weakness, or souls finding their counterpart, as he said?

I realise it’s getting light, and admitting defeat on finding answers, and still aching from the centre of my bones, I pull the blankets over my head, and shut my eyes, managing only a few hours unpleasant rest before I woke. Disturbing dreams. Half fog thoughts. A million questions.

Sleep is eluding me so I angrily sludge my way slowly to the little cafe table by the window of my shop. Normally the curtains are pulled back, but now they hang heavy and dark. I’m motivated purely for the cigarettes sitting there. That’s what my body wants. Genuinely scared, I’m too sick to leave and I don’t want to tell anyone what’s going on. I’m afraid they will think I’m crazy. I feel alone.

I need to figure out what’s happening so I can protect myself from it. I need to understand so I know how to feel, so I can start reacting and coping with everything. I don’t know whether I have the tools in my skill set for this. I don’t know what I’m dealing with.

What Happened to Paul Carter? VOL I. The very true story of love, passion & a Hitman. Chapter 8

Chapter 8

Wednesday 26th March 2014

We hadn’t managed to meet for that planned first date. An hour beforehand, he had messaged that something had come up and he would explain later. Awesome start. I had wasted money buying clothes for a casual lunch that didn’t even happen with a guy I didn’t even know.

He rang me in the early evening nearly a fortnight later. I was not impressed. I didn’t really care, and it was obvious by his behavior, he didn’t either. We both knew there is no excuse for no communication with mobiles phones and internet. End of story.

“Hi, I’m back. Can I make up for my inexcusable neglect by taking you to dinner? I’m sorry that I let you down, but I had to retrieve my son from the police station for drunk driving.”

Paul went to great lengths explaining how he had to literally bail him out. As a result there had been unprecedented family drama and a fight with his ex. She should be more strict. He had given both the boys brand new BMW ‘s and this is how they repay him. Teenagers could be a handful and John was lucky that his father had enough resources to get him back home and avoid further charges. Unfortunately he then had to fly to the USA to sort some business things out.

I understood and without this explanation, had proceeded to live my life. Regardless of whether it was the truth or not, I didn’t know this man to care enough. My main annoyance was that I had bothered to spend money on getting ready for a date that hadn’t eventuated.

But regardless of my indifference to this man, I’d had a rotten day with   solicitors. I was frustrated that the impending tunnel development was going to plow straight through my new shop. It was heartbreaking, watching what I had worked so hard to create, be systematically destroyed by an entity, just so in the end, they were obligated to pay me less.

I was happy for any distraction. “Sure. When were you thinking?”

“Awesome. I know it’s short notice but how about tonight?”

“That suits me to be honest. Same place as before? Pollys?”

“Perfect. See you at seven?”

I had walked to the bar. I loved it’s cheese and antipasto platters. The    cocktails were delicious as well. Ironically, after wasting so much money on improving myself, I had ditched all the new dress options and thrown on a daggy hot pink, over sized jumper paired with black jeans and plain stilettos. I wasn’t in a particularly good mood and couldn’t motivate myself to dress to impress. Nor did he deserve it. I was no longer interested. I just wanted a drink and distraction.

Remembering back, even feeling the way I do now, dying in the shop; no shower in four days, filthy hair pinned up and wearing the same blue jumper dress the whole time; even as this smelly, half shadow, Gollum version of myself, the memory of how I presented myself that day, still makes me cringe. God it was awful. What an ugly first impression. It wasn’t the exceptionally scruffy clothes, it was my hair.

Trying to dye my hair had been a disaster and had taken my blonde hair to a dull orange auburn. It was like straw in color and feel. But, at the time I didn’t care.

He was already there and stood up to greet me with a congenial kiss on the cheek. He leant forward in his chair all night and his knee brushed mine. His body language was the study of a man interested in getting to know me. A man happy with his choice. By nature, I moved away each time.

He asked leading questions, listened, probed politely and in return gave in depth answers openly and honestly back. We had a lot in common.

There were areas of our life that over lapped. My son, now 18, had Aspergers and Paul had worked in the disability area. He understood the demands. I didn’t mention I was Aspergers too.

“Wow, you did it tough by yourself.” He showed compassion and understanding with a full appreciation of the special needs and challenges of autism in particular. He even knew some of the charities and associations.

He was happy to disclose about his life.

“I understand the challenges, I have two adult boys just a bit older. I shared custody until recently. It’s always been extremely amicable between me and their mum. Now they are old enough they do as they please. They stay sometimes with me, sometimes with their mum. It depends on whether they want to be with their girlfriends. I admit, I let them sleep together but their mum doesn’t, so it sort of encourages them to visit.”

He laughed self depreciatingly again. I frowned and he noticed.

“I suppose it is sort of bad of me, but we have a more adult, mate like relationship now they are older. They have reached an age where they’re more of a hand full now, more than ever. Pushing boundaries, meeting girls, driving. I gave them new BMW’s at the start of the year so I knew that they had safe wheels, not some dangerous beaten up old thing. I wanted something reliable. You know what it’s like. I love my kids. I’d die if something happened to either of them. Hardest part of divorce was not seeing them every day. You know, I’m not actually prepared to rule out having more. I’d love to try for a daughter. I feel I have missed out by not having one. I think with the right partner it would be a blessing. You know, to be with someone you love and raise a little girl. Do it right, together for forever.”

At 47 that’s not in my top 3 desires, let alone top 100, I mused to myself. Although I realise some guys think it’s what we want to hear.

“Perhaps,” I replied, very non committedly.

“Both boys work with me. We are close. I used to hate it when they went to their mums, now they are young men so it’s natural they fly the coup. I try to think of things that will make them spend time with me and then I have to try and not spoil them too much.”

I inwardly groaned at the obvious disparity between our disposable incomes and the effect it had on raising our children. My son was definitely not spoilt. I wish I could have given him treats more often, but I literally didn’t have the money. I think we had a good life within our means. I listened to Paul continue, oblivious to my situation.

“Hopefully they will take over the business one day. Well, the property development side, anyway. That’s what I’m grooming John for. Andrew is a good kid, but he doesn’t have what it takes. Not yet. Maybe he will when he is older. Their mum hasn’t encouraged them academically to be honest. Let them be lazy. Because they are spoilt and know they are going to inherit so much. I think the knowledge has ruined them to be honest. It’s hard for me to watch. I had to work for everything I have, and I put myself through university twice. Education is important. It broadens you. Like travel. Grounds you I think.”

He had liked what I said in my profile about being kind and honest.

“It’s what I’m looking for. A love based on honesty that makes your soul pine when you’re apart. I want to meet someone who makes me want to be a better person.

Honesty. Katherine, it’s my corner stone belief. Without it, the world would be anarchy. There is just no need to lie or cheat. If you want to see other people, if you have lost interest, then just leave. Show integrity. Even in my business, I practice this. You know, you don’t have to be an asshole to be rich. Treat everyone openly and fairly. That’s actually how I have got to where I am now.

I remember, I knew a guy about 18 years ago. He worked as an account manager and then was promoted into sourcing finance for an expanding company. At that point he had been happily married with two kids. Everything going along smoothly and then he changed. Started misappropriating the company funds and buying flash cars. Began an affair with the ditzy hot secretary. Spent more time taking her away on trips and splashing money on her than at work or with his family. I heard they were partying hard; using recreational drugs. She thought he was rich. What an idiot. I warned him it would all unravel and it did. He justified the sudden affluence to an imaginary inheritance. He even got bank loans using that story. Can you imagine the pressure this guy must have been under with all those lies. No vagina is worth it. No wank factor of pretend wealth. All a farce. Oh my God, talk about stress. Obviously, he ended up being caught. But not before he had destroyed everyone he knew, including his family, by convincing them to put money into this company, which because of his thieving, also went under. The guy should be in jail. Begged me to help.

Honestly Katherine, what could I do?

He had shown his true colors. What a selfish idiot. He had to declare bankruptcy. Left his wife, who was actually pregnant with his third child at the time, and married the bimbo. Obvious that wasn’t going to last. But she had a house. Chasing a dream. Total disaster upon disaster. Idiot. Liar. Destroyed so many people. I learnt a lot from him. He still contacts me from time to time. Begs me to help him fix the situation. Hasn’t changed. Still all fake life with no money, no friends and a queue of people wishing him dead. Awful way to be remembered don’t you think? I want to be remembered for doing good. This guy and I are chalk and cheese.

Why lie? It just destroys everything. If you want to leave just leave.”

Music to my ears. Perhaps being autistic myself, I literally can’t lie. Maybe it’s just me, regardless, I have joked for years that I wish I could learn to lie. There should be a “lie” school. Learning to lie is a skill that I have literally craved for. It’s hard to defend yourself against it, if you can’t match it. I can only spot someone lying, when it doesn’t make sense. One of my biggest weaknesses and in relationships, it’s my biggest deal breaker. You need an honest foundation so you have an even playing field. Where everyone gets to make informed decisions based on truth and reality.

He told me all about his marriage, when he was 21. It lasted 12 solid years but they grew apart. They both knew it. His ex wife arranged a weekend away in a hotel, without the boys, and they discussed how, as much as they loved each other, they were no longer ‘in love.’ Better to part now while they were both still young enough to find love again. They had had a good run.

Paul admitted he had changed. “Katherine, I had been working for a Jewish entrepreneur, since I was 21. He was my mentor and I owe a lot of my success to him. He was an old guy and he sent me to Solomon Islands to check his properties out when the civil unrest started. I flew in, and it was suddenly an all out war. I barricaded myself in the hotel room, absolutely terrified for days. I mean people were being shot and gutted in the street in front of me. Never been so scared in my life. I saw things I want to forget. I was unprepared for the brutality. It’s not in my make up, that senseless    violence. There I was only 25, in the middle of a war, defenceless. I threw all my money down at the airport and got one of the last private planes out with some embassy people. Seeing that, changed me, from a carefree spirit to a closed, wary one. Maggie didn’t know how to help. I never got counselling, I was too arrogant and just struggled through. Seems stupid but it drove a wedge between us. She didn’t understand the change in me.

I just wanted the security of money. It became my focus.”

He had managed to build up a successful backpacking business, and then expand into other profitable ventures. The properties he had invested in had been solid performers. They’d done really well. They discussed the terms of separating. He would leave gradually bit by bit, so the kids weren’t shocked and he would set up another house.

They had assets, so it was not going to impact him to give her the house. She got $10,000 per month maintenance. I remember being horrified in a jealous way. I had never got a cent until Oliver was 13. Then it was $5 a month for a year. I used to joke to my friends that it wasn’t even a good loaf of bread. It went up to $13 for three months before it stopped. I couldn’t fathom $10,000.  How lucky were these boys? How lucky was she? She would have assets that would look after the whole family for the rest of her life.

I felt a bit of a loser as I confessed my son’s father walked out when I was 8 and a half months pregnant. He simply changed his mind. One second he seemed happy and we were going to get married. The next he was gently guiding me backwards out our front door, saying. “I’ve changed my mind, Katherine. I don’t want to be responsible for you and a baby. I want to hang out with my mates.”

We were 30. My life changed in the instant I had to turn and walk down the road to the pay phone and call my parents. Crushed. It finished my university degree. I struggled for the first year and then Oliver got sick. Enough! I wasn’t the priority. He was.

I had bought 3 small ex commission houses when he was born. It was a gamble, but ignorance is bliss and I just thought I was doing the right thing. I soldiered on and rode the economic wave of the late 1990’s. I worked hard but it set Oliver and I up so that although we never had a lot, we did have a roof over our heads, an income, and an appreciating asset base.

I was aware that I didn’t need to say much about anything. Paul understood me. He could finish my sentences which was disarming. He laughed when it happened. “Being with you is so comfortable. It’s like I know so much about you already. I think there’s something here Katherine.”

“Yes, too many expresso martinis.” I agreed, but as usual remained rational.

Apparently the opposite of my ex partner, Paul loved being a dad.

“I get that from my family, Katherine. My parents loved us unconditionally and ensured we came first. Ridiculously, they stayed together until my brother and I were in our 30‘s, and then Dad invited us around to calmly explain that they had drifted apart and were getting a divorce. They had stayed together all those years for us. It’s funny now. We were grown men and my parents were worried about how their divorce was going to affect us. Like really?”

He laughed at the silliness of their action. His warmth and love for them displayed in his smiling eyes. “Anyway they were, and still are, the poster faces for amicable divorce. Both of them have new partners. In fact they are all leaving together, on a two month European cruise in a few weeks. Crazy I tell you.

My mother remarried a few years later to a lovely guy named Jim. She is an uppity, conservative woman. I don’t see her very often, maybe once a week. Too much name dropping and silver ware, tweed skirts and pearls. I know I come from a privileged background but I hate the way my mum flaunts it.”

I nodded. “Ah huh.” The closest I got to that sort of wealth was at my senior school and it was extreme, but I wasn’t from that class so I only saw it from a distance.

“My mother belongs in Toorak that’s for sure. Born and bred. She’s of     Italian heritage, and worked hard on her chain of hairdressing salons. It was something she was extremely proud of. Her first salon was down in Toorak village. You know, the Trak.”

I nodded. I knew the area. My school was down the street.

He continued. “But she also loves the life that Dad gave her. He is from old English money and so naturally doesn’t show it. A quiet gentleman. I get most of my characteristics and my blue eyes, from him. He met Grace about 8 years ago and totally changed. Sold his huge house in South Yarra, on  Darling St, and moved in with her. God, that was a gorgeous house, backed on to the river. My brother and I have great memories growing up there. Anyway, his new place is still all dark wood and book cases lined with dusty tomes that no one reads, but he and Grace are easier to be around. He has become less rigid and she is a hoot. She got rid of his suits and now he wears cardigans. Always laughing, but he has become old suddenly. I see him at least a couple of times a week as he likes to banter about the stock exchange, what I’m up to and gossip about mutual business colleagues. He likes to stay abreast of what his old board members are getting up to at  Harvey Norman. I used to look up to him and fight to get his respect. Now I have his utmost respect and he just looks beaten, as if he is shrinking.”

“Um, I think that’s literally what happens as we get older.” I interrupted with a smirk.

“I don’t want to get old, Katherine. I have too many things I want to do still. I haven’t got to 200 yet. There are places to see. Fall in love. Maybe have another child. So many people to meet. Adventures and things to experience. Finish my latest projects. I literally just started actioning one today, and I want to see that completed. The list is endless. I can’t afford to get old. It’s for the weak.” He laughed.

I looked at him quizzically. “200?”

“One day I’ll tell you. Maybe when I achieve it. Meantime, I think, my Dad is now living vicariously through my business ventures, although he has  become risk adverse and we face off all the time over the projects I’m prepared to invest in. Katherine, I’m old school Italian. All my values come from my parents and my Nonna. They will do anything to help me succeed, and they demand I take life by the horns and make the most of everything I can. You know, die screaming, ‘that was a great ride.’ They have my back 100%. Seriously Katherine, they are genuinely loving, caring people and they expect I treat people the same way they do. So you can see why the divorce between Maggie and I was so civilized.”

Yep, that IS how it’s supposed to be. No wonder he was so rational about his own separation with Maggie.

“I could hardly be an ass to her and go home to see my parents. They would have crucified me. ‘That’s not how we raised you.’ My father always said, ‘Treat your woman like a Queen and you will be a King. After 5 pm is    family time. Leave work at work and love your wife whenever you are with her.’ My father is so respectful about all women including my mother. It’s beautiful to watch. I want that.”

So naturally, he and Maggie co-parented. “It was smoother that way, without defined times and weekends.” Paul had told me.

I was aware of how little support I had raising Oliver. I would have loved just one hundredth of what Paul’s ex had got. Quite simply it would have gone a long way to putting a smile on both Ollie’s and my faces.

“Being inflexible just doesn’t work for anyone really. You should just want to be there for the kids as much as possible. We both created them and they are pretty cool. I suppose it’s easier that I have two boys, I get to muck around with them. Not sure what I would have done with a daughter. Spent even more money on make up and dresses.”

He laughed, “I mean, it would be awesome to have a little girl, but time is running out. I’ll see.”

He seemed pretty obsessed with having a daughter one day. I noted it as a future intention that I didn’t share.

He coached Andrew’s football team every Saturday for years. Both boys would come and stay at his house in Malvern and up until recently they would all jet ski together and go out on his boat. Reluctantly, he had just sold both as they never helped look after them and he needed to teach them a lesson.

“Well the boat actually went, because it was 90 feet of luxury house on   water, that hardly ever gets used and the boys just wanted to party on it, now they are at that age. Plus, I’m the only one that can captain it and I need crew each time. A money pit on water those things.”

The conversation bantered back and forth. Mostly forth.

His boys had trust funds. Obviously, it’s a bi-product of dispersing money. He had insisted on sending them to Scotch college because it was a family tradition. He had gone there and so had his brother and his father. It’s good to keep that network of old boys together. They lived local to the school. He didn’t begrudge that neither decided to go to university. A well connected smart man will always be successful over an unpopular educated one. The boys have me, and my friends, so they will land on their feet regardless.”

I understood the old school network theory, but I’m not such a snob as to think “wealth maketh the man.” I’d rather a poorer, average, nice man than a rich arrogant one, any day.

I had gone to St Catherine’s which was sort of a sister school to Scotch. It was extremely privileged and exclusive. I was surprised we didn’t have any mutual acquaintances. I had gone on an academic scholarship. He was so bright he never studied. I used to pull all nighters to ensure my grades were acceptable to my parents.

He would sneak out at night and hang at the Jam Factory in Toorak, with the St Cath’s and MLC girls. I caught the train and got home to Wheelers Hill, an outer suburb, exhausted already, and then studied until I fell asleep. He got A’s in everything without effort and went on to get an engineering degree and then an MBA. He was in a position that he could be well educated, so he took it.

“I love learning, Katherine. I went to Japan and loved it so much, that I leant the language. I’m now fluent in Japanese and Russian. Powerful languages.”

This man was pretty impressive.

Chatting was pleasant. We covered so much personal history and our thoughts on multitudes of topics were exchanged, explored and expanded upon.

He had been single all this time since his divorce at 33, with intermittent dalliances, but nothing of any note.

“Katherine, it’s hard when you know that the person you’re dating has to be suitable for your children as well. It’s a tall order and if you get it wrong, you create a nightmare for everyone, for life.”

So for 15 years he had been looking. He really wanted to find the one. He loved marriage. The routine. The kids. Maybe he had made a mistake in  getting divorced. He thought he had found it once but in a cruel twist of fate it was taken away from him. His last girlfriend had died. They were only together 2 and a half years. He was totally fine about it, now.

“When I first met her, I had thought, that she was the one, and that being with her was going to drastically improve my life. You know what I mean: Love, happiness, health, wealth, leisure, travel and all that, but I realise now, that it wasn’t actually her that did it. It was coincidental circumstances and outside influences that made my life better at the time.

I’m not one to dwell on the sad or negative, it is a waste of energy and time. No, Katherine, trust me, I’ve got no baggage. The only thing I want to take from her death, is a new found appreciation of living. Her death actually opened me up to live a better life.

We cling to this notion that we have to remain miserable after someone’s death, out of respect for their memory. In truth, her ‘leaving’ allowed me to grow. It opened my eyes. I am able to take bigger risks, enjoy life more. You aren’t allowed to say it, but I am going to. My life is better now with her gone. She left all the good things behind for me to grow with, and all the bullshit got buried with her in Boston. In my mind, it’s like her death allowed me to fully embrace life, and I am. I’m not wasting this   opportunity.”

I felt my head physically pull back. A subtle recoil. To me, they were harsh words. Perhaps they are the truth, but no one ever says it out loud. Do they? I’ve never met anyone who has gone through what he has, so maybe this is true.

He continued telling me that it was a long time ago. Eight years and he had gone to counseling for a short time just to ensure he could deal with it. He learnt some things are just not meant to be. For quite a while he didn’t want to put his heart on the line again, but he realized it made living meaningless.

“Katherine, you have to take the positives out of life. I learned that I’m fiercely loyal. I love being in a relationship and I’m a stayer to the end. I think these are good things. Please don’t think I’ve been moping for all those years. Trust me, I’ve been looking. I want to find my Princess. I just haven’t found her yet.”

He stared at me. I could feel him ascertaining my reaction to all this. I tried my blank face.

Perhaps that puzzled him, and he changed topic. “I know I said I don’t smoke, but in truth, I’m giving up and this whole evening is just made for a cigarette out there in the courtyard. I don’t want to offend you and I’m so close to quitting, but if you don’t mind, I would love to sit outside for one puff of nicotine. Would you join me?”

I looked at him out of the side of my eye.

“Sure, I have to be honest myself then. I did put in the profile that I was only interested in a non smoker because I am trying to give up and I know meeting a smoker will not help. So yes, unfortunately I’d love to join you on that bench beside the sweet fountain, It is gorgeous here.” We laughed at the mutual fail.

We wandered out with our drinks and twenty minutes later came back in. It was a leisurely night.

“Katherine, we have been so honest about everything so far and it helps you understand where I come from I suppose. I’m really a stand up guy, just a bit bruised like most of us at this age, I suppose. That all happened years ago though, and it’s time for me to be happy. I’m just getting on with my life. Seeing the kids grow up, catching up with my family, friends and running a few companies. Keeping it real.”

The conversation returned to more general banter.

We bonded over property; my love of buying, renovating and flipping, which I explained, I had done since Ollie was born in ’95, until I was injured on my own work site. Skin grafts and time out, leading to a change in career; To the beauty salon I now owned, and which was being purchased by the government because it was in the way of a future tunnel development. We brushed across the surface of it all.

He had quite a large, property management and development company. I gathered part of which was overseas. It was obvious he was quite successful.

He showed me photos on his phone of two properties he had just bought while he was over there. One in LA which was modern, wall to wall glass and oozed new money. He had included the furniture and the corvette in the deal. The other was a brownstone in Boston. It seemed to be the basement of the building. Odd choice, but clearly he knew his business. Then there was a construction he had recently completed here in Melbourne. It too was   modern. Lots of open plan and good use of glass. It was edgy. He was proud of the work his company did. The last photo was from his website and it was an amazing courtyard with a decked swimming pool. I was impressed. He looked across at me, and pointed out the placement of the deck chairs and the bamboo balls, telling me that it was this attention to detail, that keeps his company a step above the rest.

“Those bamboo balls are what sold that house.” He laughed. “Paying      interior designers to come in and place the right furniture, until a property is sold, is worth its weight in gold. Katherine, I can’t believe more developers don’t do it here.”

In comparison I told him vague details about my little positively geared properties that I had bought for $25,000 and flipped for $60,000. The most I’d ever made on a deal was a quarter of a million. I was proud of the two times I’d managed that incredible achievement, but obviously I wasn’t in his league. I felt like a silly school girl in comparison.

He assured me it was hard work and it had taken him a while to get to the level of turnover he was now at. “Most of the times thing run smoothly, but there have been some purchases which are above the General Manager’s limit of approval for autonomous decision making. That’s why I had to   suddenly fly to America. Ensure we were heading in the right direction. Off loaded some, approved other purchases. I’m thinking of moving over there and partially retiring at the end of the year.

You know I only just flew back in from USA this afternoon. I had to get one of the boys to pick me up in his work ute. Well, it’s one of my fleet. I have a collection of cars.”

I gave him my warning look of please don’t talk about caaaaaaarrrrssszzzzz. Snore.

He took it the wrong way.

“Yes, I have quite a few cars: A Maserati, 2 Porches, a few BMWs, 2 Ferraris and of course, a Lamboguini, oh and the fleet of work cars. They used to be parked in the garage underneath my place in Malvern, but because I just sold it, now I have to store them all over the place in my friends’ warehouses. So like me, they are homeless until the penthouse in Camberwell is finished.”

Since he hadn’t taken my impending boredom look the right way, but had seen it as encouragement to continue name dropping cars. I now had to interject. “Ok, would you like to talk about sports now?”

He was confused. Clearly not the reaction he was expecting.

“Paul, I have below zero interest in cars or sports. I can feel my eyes glazing over. I don’t even currently own a car because mine died, and I don’t really need one at present.”

Again he missed the point. “What? What? Wait. You don’t have a car?  Katherine. Borrow one of mine. Look. I’ll drop the Maserati off tomorrow. I have enough choices and they are all just sitting there doing nothing. A lady like yourself can’t be walking around here. You need to be in a car. That’s ridiculous.”

“Oh my god! Seriously? Firstly. Do you drive that car to Cafe Sienna on Chapel St, and park out the front?”

“No, I park out the back.”

“Same, same.” I tried to soften my derision with a half smile. “And secondly, hell will freeze over before I get in and drive your Maserati. It’s seriously not my thing. I identify cars by the following classifications. Daddy car, station wagon, 4WD, and sporty. Then by color. I.e. Black sporty thing. Green station wagon thing. Don’t be a wanker, seriously. No, just NO. What sort of a crazy man offers a Maserati to a stranger to drive?”

“This sort of stranger. The one in front of you. Katherine, I plan on getting a McLaren this week anyway, so that’s another car just stored, doing nothing. I’m seriously giving you the Maz to drive.”

I must have looked horrified. I certainly wasn’t impressed. As a result of the uncertainty caused by my shop’s impending government acquisition, I wasn’t prepared to commit to move anywhere, nor buy a car, and here he was, reeling a list of them off, to the equivalent of the national debt. I was just aghast. Yay for him.

“I’m seriously thinking you are crazy.”

“Katherine, don’t look at me like that. Cars are a passion. A hobby that I can afford. Without someone sitting beside me though, they are rather empty.

You know, you amuse me. I find you fascinating. You present as this classy woman, yet you fly in the face of pretension. One second, sophisticate, next second, swearing like a sailor telling me about your power tools, then arguing about genetically modified seeds. It’s rare to find someone with the same passion as me, about everything, let alone the drive and mental ability. I can tell by the way you talk, we need to hang out more.

So let’s talk property. It’s your fire. Clearly cars are not. Property, that’s where you should be. I have an interior design co-ordinator position going. Like an office manager that oversees all my projects and ensures the staging and fit outs are stunning. I think you should give it some thought. Maybe just come and work for me. You would be perfect. The pay is amazing. $100,000. I have it advertised, so the timing is perfect. You never know, maybe you could end up replacing the general Manager in Boston, take over the US operation. Property. That’s what makes you tick. Clearly, it would make you happier than what you’re doing now. When you spoke on the phone, you certainly didn’t have the same passion for your beauty salon as you do for property.”

He’d finally managed to navigate out of the boring, pretentious waters and lead us back on to a pleasant and successful path. Property; my passion. I was happy to chat about this. “Yes, well, I can’t disagree. The sound of a nail gun makes me salivate. That, shoes, milo and the right house. As for working for anyone. It’s not my thing to be honest.”

“Seize the day. It would be awesome! Honestly, I’ll give you the job right now. You know your stuff better than my current GM in the US. At least think about the offer. Seriously, have you ever thought of living in America, maybe you could eventually take that job, over there. Come on. The shop is going, and that will give you a sizable payout. Your future is ripe for the picking.”

Had my date just turned into a job interview? “Sure, I’ll think about it.” I didn’t really mean it though. I heard the offer, contemplated it and rejected it in the time it took to answer him. I was just trying to be polite.

“To be honest Paul, my shop is being bought out by the government. It’s in the way of the East West tunnel project. The process of the compulsory   acquisition destroyed my business ages ago and I’m just killing time waiting for the payout. I’m not even allowed to buy until the process is over, so its frustrating. Hence my lack of commitment in purchasing a new car or    signing a new lease. I’m just treading water, biding time, and don’t get me wrong. I love, love my clients. I only have beautiful girls as clients. Beautiful on the inside where it counts.”

I admit that I got into the beauty industry by default, after I was injured at one of my own work sites, and the resulting concrete burns left me with some sexy skin grafts. Life’s battle scars. So no. “I’m not a beautician. I’m not anything. I learnt to do lash extensions while I was recuperating and bizarrely I turned out to be really good. Like really, really, obsessively good. I’ve been doing it for 8 years and only a year ago, consolidated two outlets into one.”

He wanted to know why I had down sized.

I didn’t want to discuss that yet, so I cut the conversation off, saying I was tired and that it was a topic for another time. In truth, the story was just too big to tackle that late in the evening.

He drove me home. The car was a white work ute thing. It was dirty and smelled of cigarettes. He apologized. “It’s not mine. Sorry. I told you, this is Tony’s work ute. It was the only way I could meet you. He had to pick me up from the airport and then I dropped him back at East Morang and circled back here to meet you. Good kid. He’d do anything for me. Bit stupid, but also really loyal.” He laughed. “Apparently an intensive smoker in the car though. Might have to have a word with him about cleaning it up a bit too.”

My place was around the corner and as he pulled up, I leant in to kiss him on the cheek and got out.

“Thank you for a lovely evening.” I was shutting the door.

“Katherine, wait. I want to see more of you. Dinner? A proper dinner. Next Wednesday? It the earliest I’m free I’m afraid, but, I would like to take you somewhere nice to make up for neglecting you. Especially as I now know you’re worth so much more. So be prepared to dress up.”

I hadn’t even answered affirmatively. He just presumed I would.

“Yes, I think that could be nice. Just tell me when and where.”

I was barely inside when my phone pinged. A message. “I would have come in had you asked.”

‘Cocky.’ I thought with a frown. ‘Of course you would, you have a penis.’

I know, but I didn’t ask.” I texted back.

To myself I thought. ‘Yes, but I would never have invited you in. Not quite sure yet, but you maybe a unicorn.’ There was certainly something. An old friend once said, “You know it in your waters.” I don’t know about that, I was certainly feeling it somewhere though. There was something about the man.

That was 6 months ago. So much has happened since then. I’m exhausted. From there to this nightmare. To whatever I am now part of………… I don’t even know. I know I have to relive our life. Our conversations. Who I met. Where. Put it all together, objectively. I know it must all be there. It would have been there all the time, I just didn’t notice, but I will understand, and from there make sense of it all. Then I can defend myself.

When it comes to what I do know. I’ve got nothing of very little.

Nothing except pain. My eye balls hurt. I am completely miserable. Where are the cold and flu tablets? The pain killers are at least stopping my toes from hurting. The drugs required to keep me at this dulled level of misery are at least numbing the shock factor of the other night. I cannot believe what has happened; That I’ve just had someone stare coldly into my eyes and tell me that I’m being hunted by someone who wants to put me through a tree shredder; That my beautiful Paul is gone.

Where are you? Why is this happening? How could you leave me like this? Why, why? Why would you or the universe do this? Oh, god! My friends will realise I’m hiding from reality in the shop soon.

Now back in the uncomfortable reality of the present, I needed to grab the waste bin and again throw up. I couldn’t believe I was so sick and dealing with everything else as well. It seemed extraordinarily cruel.

I used to sit in here for different reasons, with my clients and friends. We liked hanging in the back of the salon. It was like a cozy, mini home. It was warm, decadent and inviting.

I remember waiting for Paul, for the date that took forever to happen.

What Happened to Paul Carter? VOL I The very true story of love, passion & a hitman. Chapter 9

Chapter 9

Thursday, 17th April. 2014.

It was 5 o clock and I was sitting in the back of the shop in the lounge area with one of my favorite clients. We had finished her treatment, and now Jaquie and I were catching up on gossip. One topic. Paul.

“He had better turn up. Do you think he will?” Jaquie was pouring wine which she had brought.

“Well, his track record hasn’t been so good really has it. I mean we were meant to go out to dinner 3 weeks ago and twice since. All I’ve had is intermittent texts and calls. I understand that he is a high powered business man and it’s just all been bad timing. USA twice equals two cancelled dates.” I looked at Jaquie as her eyes requested me to correct my terminology. “Ha, yes. I know he used the words, ‘postponed’ and ‘Rain checked.’ Regardless. If he doesn’t show tonight that’s it. I turned down Phil, to free myself for this man. I’m really over it. You know me, Jaqs. I don’t wait around.”

She looked at me and gave a fresh look. It said, Reaaaaalllyyyy! Really? What do you call this?

Without a word, we both laughed.

“I know, it’s ridiculous. It’s like a spell.” I admitted.

He had definitely captured all the girls interest as well, and Jaquie was firmly on his side most of the time. “Katherine give him a chance. You’re so used to avoiding commitment. You’re so quick to leave.”

“Yes, before it’s begun. I don’t want to hang around for grief and this one has already annoyed me more than I would normally allow.”

“Yes, but he sounds like he is genuinely interested. Maybe he is being     respectful. Isn’t that what he said to you? That he doesn’t want to just show up on your door, after he has let you down. And he has had valid reasons. Sometimes things happen.You told me he sounded so sincere and apologetic about the pressure on him with both his boys being a bit out of control, and his businesses. Perhaps cut him some slack. You have nothing to lose and you have only sacrificed a few weeks. Where’s the harm?

You should be happy he has his shit together. You know. He isn’t living with his mum. He has a job. Property. Respect in his industry. Even his ex wife still sees him. Now that’s a keeper right there. He has shown he can commit by being married before. He is obviously better than most of the guys out there. So at least give him a chance. Come on.” She stared at me. “Didn’t you just tell me that he has already asked if you would be interested in going out this Saturday and meeting some of his friends? That’s wonderful. He is really trying to do the right thing.”

“Yes, yes, I know Jaq. Even my friends are saying that this is what an adult relationship can look like at the start, because age appropriate men have other responsibilities. I get it. That’s why I’m hanging in, but just remember it’s against my better judgement. Do you know how many rules I’ve already broken??”

She gently slapped my knee.

“OH MY GOD. You are so into him. You’ve cleared your roster haven’t you? When was the last time you saw Phil? Have you even been on a date with any on else since you met him.”

“Noooo.” I moaned. “I don’t know what has happened to me. I feel like I have moved out of my own body. It’s like I’m possessed.” We laughed.

I seriously don’t do relationships. I avoid them like the plague. I like my friends. Like my single life. Like being me most of the time. “What the hell is happening?”

“Katherine likes a boy. Katherine likes a boy.” Jaquie laughed and teased.

Everyone was on his side. He sounds wonderful. It was just me, ever the sceptic, that demanded the go slow reality check.

Suddenly a text pinged in, and we both looked at each other. Oh god, how late is it?

“I’m early. Be there in ten.”

We look at each other. Panicked. I was still in work gear. Nice, but not nice enough.

Jaquie grabbed the glasses and bottle and threw them in the kitchen. I switched the hair straightener on and literally stripped my clothes and grabbed an evening dress that does all the work form me. It’s a head turner. Elegant, with literally meters of soft pink, chiffon pleated skirt, I heaved it over my head and it draped immediately into place. Jaquie zipped me as I rolled deodorant on. God, I love girls. No questions asked. Just doing it. She was running out the door, wishing me good luck, as I brushed my hair and simultaneously curled just the front on either side of my face.

“Have a great Easter Jaquie.” I shouted after her as I swiped a touch of pink lipstick. Shoes. Done.

He was there. Opening the door as I sprayed some Crystal Noir to my neck.

I admitted my surprise at him turning up, but beyond that was composed.

“Can’t believe the effort you have gone to. Thank you Katherine.”

He told me I looked stunning and led me to the car. As he opened the car door for me, I noted, it wasn’t the white ute.

I sat myself down and while we gathered my skirt inside the car with me, he leant in, with an enormous smile. “Well, at least I’ve got you in the Maserati without a fuss. Stage one complete.”

He gently closed my door and was still laughing as he got in to the drivers side and started the car.

I glanced at the steering wheel. A devils pitch fork thing as the emblem. I didn’t know if that was the Maserati symbol but since I’d never seen it before, I chose to believe him. ‘Well, that answers whether he is completely full of shit. Apparently not.’

I smiled. “This is just like a silver daddy car. I pictured a Maserati being more flash and ostentatious.”

“Well, it’s not, and it’s actually champagne. Now let’s go drink some.

Katherine, I know my behavior over the last few weeks could be misconstrued as unreliable. Please don’t. I take pride on keeping my word. Everything has been crazy lately. I’m not used to it being like this at all. Be assured, I have sorted everything, and looking at how beautiful you are right now, you have reminded me that I should be focusing on you. This is why I work. So I can find a lady, like you, with the whole package and here you are. I’m truly sorry for making you wait for me. Let’s go have an awesome night and I promise to make it up to you.”

He told me how he had chosen one of Melbourne’s finest restaurants and that he hoped I was going to feel comfortable in that environment. “It’s important you do, Katherine, I live a fairly decadent lifestyle.”

I wondered where we were going that I would feel so insecure?

We parked at the back of Crown Casino and strolled towards the Yarra River. It was a rare mild April night. Perfect, as if he had ordered it. The old fashioned street lights reflected in the ripples of the waters edge. Couples were strolling romantically arm in arm, on their way to dinners and clubs and a stoic busker was strumming in the distance. I could just see my old apartment building across the water. As we strolled, I realized he was taking me to one of Ollie’s and my favorite restaurants; Pure South. Wonderful. As we walked in, I greeted the maitre de by name.

“Hello Michael. Long time.” We gave each other a warm hug and he led us to a spot in front of the fireplace.”

“Our best table for my favorite guest.”

As we sat, I told Paul, that I took my son to some beautiful restaurants so he knew how to behave and would feel comfortable in different surroundings. Hopefully, later in life, he would be able to treat a lady in the manner she deserved. Paul was impressed that I would do that with him.

We had a lovely meal with a ridiculously expensive bottle of wine and    exceptionally attentive service. A perfectly executed night. Some ladies at the next table complimented my dress, and Paul joked that he would have to remember to pay them later. We touched on more intimate details.

He wanted to know about the shop and how the acquisition process was  affecting me. He had an in depth understanding of the painful process, as his father had bought tracts of land along the western corridor of Melbourne before the Western Ring Road project was announced. “For all the pain, Katherine, it is always a profitable process. Like winning the jackpot really, which is how I feel about meeting you, to be honest.” He reached out and gently put his hand on top of mine as he said it. Seeing me flinch slightly at the overt keenness, he removed his hand and shook his head with a smile. “God, Katherine, I can see you are going to be a hard one to catch. You need to trust me and yourself. Let your heart feel. Life is for loving!”

He changed tack, which was a relief as I didn’t want to be dealing with   emotional relationship words or conversations with someone I had just met. It always made me extremely uncomfortable when a man leapt into “love” scenarios before they got to know you. Thank god he backed off and switched the dial.

I was aware of how much of a pain in the arse I was. The negative record was spinning quietly in the background of my head. ‘I’m such high maintenance. What a pain, I am. I don’t let him touch my hand, or to talk about the shop either.’

I don’t wish to dwell on it’s impending acquisition, because, it’s horrible to watch what I had worked so hard to build, now being destroyed. Even though there was supposedly going to be a nice payout at the end. I felt uncomfortable living in perpetual hope that things would work out. It was exhausting, and I hated pretending it was ok. It wasn’t ok. It was gutting. It was as if I was selling my business. I just didn’t want to. Internally I felt the universe had perversely punished me again. I knew it wasn’t a rational thought, to think that there was some omnipresent force that had it in for me, but it was how I felt, and I was sick of my happiness, safety and achievements being derailed. I was sick of having to step up and over disasters and reinvent myself. I didn’t want him to talk about the shop,    because I didn’t want him, or any of my friends, to see how fucked up and disempowered, I truly felt about everything.

I know I’m precious and difficult.

So he tried again, and asked about my son and his recent exploits. “He realized they had affected me.”

Regardless of the change of topic, unfortunately it had the same theme. The universe has a bit of an obsession with my son and I. Random good. Random bad. Both extreme with reassuring calm patches in between. This was another topic that was going to be hard for me to navigate, so I rehashed the familiar story, keeping it vague. This was only our second date. I tried to summaries that a few years earlier, Ollie was complaining that I should take him to singing auditions and I wasn’t sure where to begin. Suddenly, within the week of this latest teen desire, a show, dropped it’s age limit and was advertising for everyone to audition.

Ollie literally had his birthday the week before and I dutifully drove him to the auditions. I went to the wrong place initially, but eventually joined the masses of hopefuls in the queue. Ollie hadn’t even learnt the words to his song properly and at the last second was outside singing under the stands.

He went in, forgot his words, and they gave him an unprecedented, second chance. Basically, we went there for an adventure. Something to do on a weekend, and he got through. What were the chances? I know he can sing. He has a beautiful voice. Anyway, that pretty much took up the rest of the year.

“So would I know him?” He had asked somewhat excitedly.

“I don’t know. It’s a reality TV show. Do you watch that stuff?”

“What did he look like?”

“He is tall with -”

“Here.” He had got out his phone and googled. “Yes, I know him! Awesome. Must have seen the ads or something. Why hadn’t I realized before. This is him right?” He showed me the page on his phone with my son’s pictures.

“Yes, that’s him. He is beautiful. Seriously unbiased. My son is beautiful.”

“Like his mother. Well, well, well. Oliver De Bois’ mum.”

“Enough of that. I was here first. He is actually Katherine De Bois’ son.”

He laughed. “Whatever. You should be so proud.”

I pointed to one of the Utube clips. “This one. If you’re going to listen to any song. I love that song, ‘Paranoid.’”

We listened in silence, watching the small screen. The restaurant staff joined in. He is an angelic looking boy. Charismatic, talented, smart and wise. I love him. He is totally his own person. He is more my world, than he will ever know.

When the song finished, Paul looked up. “He has an amazing voice. So then what happened?”

“Well, obviously he can sing. That’s why he made it so far in the competition. I am immensely proud of him. Not just that he can sing, but more so in the way he handled himself as a generous, good sport on the show. He grew up so much that year. He learnt about the hug. I learnt about Autism. He stood strong and solid during the eviction nights. He was genuinely happy for everyone. He thought he might get to the halfway mark, anything after that was a bonus. He did really well.

I let him go through it, because I had naively thought it would put a smile on his face. It looked like it would be fun, but it’s not so much. It’s hard work, long hours, no control and he needs an inordinate amount of down time away from so much stimulation and other humans. So do I. It was a bit ghastly to be honest.

Would I do it again? Probably not, but then again, I think it was good for Ollie, in the long run, as a man. Honestly he showed such wisdom, and dignity throughout that show. I was then, and still am, in total, constant awe of him. I think it was the right thing to have done for him. Eventually it will work out, but for now it has put a very large wedge between us. I wish everything was back like it was before.”

“And your business? How did it cope without you?”

“Not great. It took me away for the majority of 9 months and when we came back at the end of November, my business was struggling. I had left it with staff. My accountant and I both knew there would be collateral damage. I also had a stunning 3 story house in the middle of Albert Park. As you can imagine, in that location, it wasn’t a cheap house to run.”

“That’s pretty impressive that as a single mum you could afford to own there, Katherine.”

“I’ve worked pretty hard, Paul. Anyway I returned to a lot of pressure and I immediately closed the two outlets and brought them into my house which thankfully was a commercial building. I loved, LOVED that house.

And here’s the kicker.

Ollie’s father’s family suddenly remembered they had a missing relative. I told you how, his dad had changed his mind about being a father, while I was pregnant. His whole family never contacted us again until they saw him on TV.

14 years of silence. Not a word from them and suddenly they had my son under their roof. Promised to bank roll a record for him. He believed them. It had me fighting to get my son back. I spent the majority of 2012 in court. I had an unfillable hole in my heart. I was so lost. Worse, I knew he was too.

He came back at the start of 2013. They threw him out in a maxi taxi with his clothes in black garbage bags. Perhaps they didn’t get what they wanted from him.

“What did they want? To make money?” Paul had been attentive throughout.

“No. They are filthy rich already. I think they pathetically wanted something that their money hadn’t bought them yet. A celebrity from a reality show. A public image pet. Pathetic really. I bet my life, that they would never, ever have contacted him except they saw him on TV. Unfortunately they didn’t realise how fleeting that fame was going to be. Tragic. They have done so much damage based purely on self absorbed, misguided decisions, fueled with money.

Anyway, he promptly moved out with his girlfriend. Trust me that stuff wouldn’t have been happening on my watch. That family’s behaviour has disempowered all of us. He stopped going to school and had a lip piercing. All of the sudden, nothing was ideal again. I’ve been trying to resurrect some sort of relationship with him for the past year but, as you know,    teenage boys can be difficult. Although, I’m the first to admit that mine is one of the good ones. I honestly think he is a truly amazing person, and I have to give credit where it is due. He and Sarah are still together living like a happy, old, married couple.”

“And the shop?”

“Well the business had been going since 2009, and I opened the new outlet on first of March, 2013, so around the same time I was having to sell my house, I was simultaneously opening the new shop for the salon, and Oliver was moving out with his girlfriend.” I laughed at the enormity of the events.

“I told you the universe has a perverse obsession with me though, so with huge humour it hadn’t finished playing. Two weeks after the grand opening, the government sent it’s first notice that the East-West tunnel project was going through my new shop and there would be a compulsory acquisition. Blah. The process is still going on, as you know. Lets face it, everyone in Melbourne knows it. It’s a government thing. I stay out of it. Nothing I can do, that’s for sure.

I’ve certainly had easier times. Life. What can you do? It is what it is, and I’ve learnt that no matter how bad things are, you keep waking up breathing, so you might as well just get on with things.

Sorry you asked?” I had touched on just the hi and lo lights of the story. Like a summary. I was still dealing with all the changes and impacts, on a daily basis. I still felt shell shocked and now the shop issue was a weekly beating. I needed a holiday.

“No, everyone has their story. Their past. It’s a lot Katherine. You seem to have an amazing attitude about it all. God, I wish I had met you sooner. I could have helped you avoid a lot of that angst. I’m really sorry.”

“Well, I don’t want a pity party. It could be a lot worse. I’m saddest about the distance between Oliver and myself to be honest. The house is just a house, although it was seriously stunning and it was my home.”

“You know. What goes down has to come up. Your luck is about to turn. You have met me, so it already has, and the compulsory acquisition is a guaranteed payout, so that’s really a positive. You just have to hang in there. I promise, with me by your side, I know everything is going to work out perfectly for both of us.” He smiled. He was genuine. This is what he really felt.

We spent the rest of the night focused on him which was a lot more pleasant than regaling my miserable past few years.

He identified with the celebrity fans. “I used to be a model when I was younger.”

‘Of course you did,’ I thought to myself. Does not surprise me with those eyes, that smile and strong jawline. Some people are just blessed. I know a few. Their looks seriously makes their life easier.

He continued. “When one particular Calvin Klein campaign came out, so did a million girls and their equivalent in male haters. Except the gay guys, they ‘lurved’ me. It was a tough gig. I couldn’t go outside without being hit on in all directions. It was overwhelming, and I was a lot older than your son, so I’m impressed with how he handled it.

It taught me to seek out the company of genuine people though. All good and well to ogle a pair of double D’s on legs but if there isn’t a brain under the make up, then it’s just a waste of time. Don’t get me wrong. I made the most of what was out in front of me at the time, but it was quantity not  quality. Wild times. Over the years, as my life became more successful, I’ve culled many so called friends. They were just there for the ride. When I was younger, it was fine, as long as I could provide a party and all the accoutrements.” He smiled indicating that it may have been more than just alcohol and music. “Slowly as I got older and wiser, I realized they were mostly hangers on. They were there for what my money could get them. I want to find someone who wants me for me. Nearly having it, thinking I found it, only to have it taken away so cruelly, makes me want it even more.”

He took a heartfelt breath and looked deep into my eyes. “You know, after everything I have done for them. No one from my side even came to her funeral. I understand that none of them particularly liked her. I’ve always acknowledged that she was fairly anti social. She was often abrasive and self absorbed to a fault, but she was my partner, so that’s not really the point is it? They should have been there to support me. That funeral was a huge   turning point in so many ways. I always thought everyone would understand that leaving her in Boston would be life changing for me. Instead, it’s like she never existed. Never died. No one ever asks how I am. It made me     realise no one really cares.”

He had lost himself in his own thoughts and suddenly realized. “Sorry. I usually prefer not to talk about it much, but I’m so comfortable with you. My past relationships are not relevant to moving forward, but some stories in my past include them. You understand don’t you? Like mentioning   Maggie because I have the boys with her.”

I nodded. “I totally understand that. Everyone has a past, and at our age most of us have had one if not more relationships.” Internally, I reminded myself that there’s many topics that I don’t want to talk about. I just have a lot of horrible, horrible memories, and they are best left unacknowledged.

He continued chatting. “I tried to do the right thing again only a few years ago. I went to support Julie, a friend, who was trying for Millionaire Hot Seat. You know that show? Anyway, at the last second she chickened out and I ended up doing the interview process with her, and I got chosen for the show. I was the second one in the chair. I tried to play strategically and passed. When my turn came up next it was because the woman before me had got the second last question wrong. I couldn’t believe it. I took my seat and expected some crazy impossible question and instead, it was about James Bond. I know everything about those movies. I own them all. My dad gave them to me for Christmas years ago.

“I remember, ‘What pistol did James Bond use before the Dr No movie?’

‘Beretta.’ of course!

One million dollars. Thank you. All that publicity. It’s only for a few weeks, but boy, your “homies” suddenly remember you. I got Facebook requests from people I hadn’t seen in 20 years.

A couple of weeks after the show aired, I took 8 of my inner circle and their partners, including Julie, out to Shelly’s Pavilion in Williamstown for lunch. I’ve had some awesome events there. You understand, Katherine, I personally didn’t need that million so I had an envelope on each plate. They sat down and inside was a cheque for $100,000. It was awesome giving it away. Most of my friends are average people struggling to get their kids through school and pay their mortgage. That day made an enormous difference to them. I took a bit as a holiday and gave some money to the boys, which they stupidly blew. Hopefully everyone else used it wisely. Such a great day. We all got hammered. I’d love to take you there for lunch. It was an endorphin rush seeing their happiness. I give pretty generously now to charities as a result. It’s the most wonderful feeling to give back.”

I sat there taking it all in. I was impressed by him. He was polite, kind and generous. Exceptionally generous.

Now as I sit, rocking, curled on the office chair, my chin leaning on my knees, wrapped tightly in a wad of blankets, I wonder where this man has gone. A few days ago, I was marrying the most loving, moral, generous and caring man I knew, and now he was gone. In a millisecond he vanished.  Replaced with thugs and threats.

Do I know something, that I don’t know, that I know? Do they think I know something? What is it about me that is such a threat? I have to think back. Just work through it all slowly. I know to my core, it will begin to unravel. Knowledge and self awareness will protect me. And what’s happened to Paul? I don’t understand how any of this is happening.

I pulled the blankets tighter, and squashed my aching eyes into my knee caps. I took myself back to the date.

Over dessert, he told me about his scuba diving around the world as he showed me some Facebook photos of him swimming with sharks. He went on; comparing the different quality of the reefs and me quietly adding that seaweed terrifies me. His piloting small planes, flying up to the Whitsundays for a weekend. He wanted to try for a helicopters license. Why not? It looked like fun.

“I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie, Katherine. I went sky diving last year. What a rush. Clears your head. You should do it. You literally can’t think of anything else apart from living in the moment when you are zooming towards earth at a hundred miles an hour.”

Again I was a party pooper. I get motion sick on merry go round rides, and I don’t like any flying, zooming, spinning or bumping as a result. My body is over sensitive to any external force moving me, even pontoons make me heave. Many of my friends over the years have led similar lives to his and I exclude myself from their activities. They hold no interest because no one voluntarily does stuff that will make them throw up.

He continued the list. “I’ve always owned sports cars. My brother, David and I used to race them. Well, I suppose we still do, it’s just I have been a bit busy and he has a new wife, so I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.”

“Uh huh, and we both know what I think and know about cars, although I can sit through Top Gear. Those guys are funny and some of the cars are sexy.”

“I really like that about you. You are seriously unimpressed with the   Maserati aren’t you? I’ve had girls suddenly become so interested when they see the signs of my wealth. You are the opposite. The more I try to impress you with it, the less interested you are.”

“What can I say? It gets you around from A to B.”

In all honesty it just looked like a slick daddy car or something. I don’t know. Clearly just not a car girl. I certainly didn’t share my thoughts. No need to be hurtful. I once confused a friend’s jag with a holden. They both have tiger/lions in the emblem. Same same.

He flashed his enormous smile at me and the corners of his eyes crinkled. “Well, it’s not all about cars. What I’m focused on at present is just getting all my ducks in a row so I can retire and travel. Lie on a deck chair on every beautiful beach in the world. Bora Bora. Simply stunning. I’ve stayed a few times in those thatched cabins above the water. It’s exactly like the promo pictures. Stunning. Gee Jam in Jamaica. Last time I was there with my mates, we tore the place up. Bumped into Matthew McConaughey. Now, he is an awesome dude. I have made some sweet friends through travel. In my younger days, I may not remember most of what I got up to, but I’ve been told about it. Apparently I once destroyed the Hamilton Island airstrip with a golf cart. I was maybe 22. There was literally two dozen of us. We caused mayhem.

God Katherine, The Riveria Maya, near Cancun. You would love it. That would be a goal wouldn’t it. You’d join me for that?” He was quick to laugh and his eyes sparkled constantly.

“Sure Paul, who wouldn’t?” I laughed.

He was so enthusiastic about life. He knew about everything, everyone. Had been everywhere. He was the most fascinating man. Like an ever ready bunny: Full of energy and always on. He had been privileged enough to lead the life most of us dream about, leaping at every opportunity to try something new and adventurous. He was fearless. Whereas I am scared of my shadow. Terrified of strangers, new situations, the outside, of change. It’s an enormous challenge to talk to people I don’t know. My hands sweat, and sometimes when it’s bad, my knees shake. My friends would generally meet me outside of a bar so I didn’t have to walk through it alone. I’ve even had taxi drivers escort me in to help find my friends. Often this fear of, I don’t know what I’m scared of, is literally so overwhelming that it is physically impossible for me to go out the front door. I can bunker down for weeks, before necessity forces me out.

For as much as we had in common, there were vast differences. His strengths were my weaknesses. My few strengths were also his strengths. He appeared to lack nothing.

We had a wonderful night and were last to leave. He decided to take a selfie of us together on our first official date. He put it on his Facebook which  surprised me. He looked good. I looked squashed in a choke hold of his  enthusiasm. My hair still destroyed straw.

“Katherine, this is the beginning of something wonderful. You’ll see. I’m never wrong. There is something here.” Regardless that his declaration was premature, we had indeed shared a genuinely lovely night.

The evening finished again with a polite peck on his cheek, which this time slid into a mutually, long, slow sensual kiss. He gently bit my lip as his hand grazed upward from my thigh, up to my waist and swept powerfully around to my back. His fingers were spread and he encompassed as much of my small body as he could. Pulling me in towards himself. It was hot. We both wanted so much more, but he understood. I believe good things come to those that wait. I wanted to know he wanted me as more than a conquest.

What Happened to Paul Carter? Vol I The very true story of love, passion and a Hitman. Chapters 10-11

Chapter 10

I pull myself from my day dreams. The room is cold and my body is stiff and heavy. I drag myself, encompassed in the blanket via the kitchen for tablets and then to the mattress in the small room of the shop. I’m shocked I’m so sick. Sicker than I have ever been. Curling in a ball, I pull the blankets and pillows around my body. I can’t get warm. I shiver constantly. I want to remove myself from the present and think back to when I was falling in love with Paul. I can’t face anything else yet. It’s been two days. But I’m so miserable I can only drag up a pathetic sad memory. It has little to do with Paul.

That’s right.

I remember that beautiful evening, the turning point date with Paul, had been a Thursday. I only know, because the next day was Easter. Good Friday.

I don’t want to think about it, but the memory floods into my clouded head.

I had spent the whole day with my closest friends and all they did was give me grief. It was an awful, ugly day. They picked on me over everything. I apparently needed to date older men. I needed to just make the government pay the shop out immediately. I didn’t understand how they thought that was possible. I certainly couldn’t speed the government system up. I was criticized when I asked why, as Catholics, they ate seafood on that day. I had just wanted someone to give me the significance. I had so regretted asking that question. I was hammered. My defence that Easter is a pagan ritual didn’t help. They criticized my knowledge on property. All in all, one of the most excruciating meals I have ever sat through. It was a horrid day. They even decided that someone as wonderful as Paul couldn’t exist. I was called stupid twice. To my face.

“No one would give you, of all people, their Maserati to drive. Kathy are you stupid?” Di was talking as she plated food in the kitchen.

“I agree. I’m just telling you what he said. I think it’s crazy too.”

John interjected. “It’s probably not even a Maserati. You don’t know anything about cars.”

“I know, you’re right, I don’t care about cars. I was just answering your questions about the new guy I had met. Does it really matter?”

Then Di came in serving some more food.

“So you went on Tinder and pulled up an age appropriate millionaire first shot. Can’t believe you are so gullible and worse, that you are on those sites.”

“OMG chill! Haven’t all of you sitting at this table, been on those sites? John and Vikki, didn’t you meet each other on RSVP? Dee, you are on them obsessively, all the time. Oscar you are literally flitting between Plenty of Fish and Tinder right now, while we are eating. Seriously! What’s with the attitude? You wanted me to meet someone. I did. He seems to have his act together. He seems nice.”

They didn’t let up.

“And he offered you a job on your first date?” The scorn dripped as Di asked. “Seriously Kathy, you are an idiot.”

“I’m just telling you what’s been happening. You’re free to make your own judgements. Yes, he has offered me a job several times now, over the phone, over cocktails, over dinner. So what if he is just trying to impress me. Why aren’t you all being happy? You wanted me to date older. I’ve met someone older.”

I wanted to cry with frustration and hurt, but I never do. This was just an exceptionally blah day.

“So you’re going to stop dating the younger guys. That was just wasting your time. It was embarrassing.” Di, apparently was on a roll.

“I don’t date them. I’m not looking for marriage. I see them because, in   general, they are nicer. I see them because I can. They are not in a position to hurt me. I see them because they are attractive, funny, full of life, educated, articulate, stimulating. I see them because we get along. But, most importantly I try to hang out with people that are nice and if I had ever met someone older that fitted that, then I would have dated him. As you well know John. But most importantly it’s just “seeing” because I haven’t wanted anything more. You know me. I don’t seem to do relationships well.”

I looked at John. We had turned a business relationship into a long friendship and then we tried to date and it hadn’t worked out. He was ten years older than me. What was everyone’s problem today? Seriously!!

I felt so disrespected. It suddenly seemed that I was in the wrong, in their eyes, regardless of whether I had been dating younger, poorer, richer, nicer, meaner or this new guy. Add to that, the criticism of the shop situation. It just went on and on. I left them to it and went home. It hurt deeply that they thought any of that about me.

Paul had phoned that night, and I had told him about my day. He seemed genuinely distressed when I told him about how unpleasant my Easter lunch with my friends had been. I had avoided sharing certain topics, but told him how they questioned my knowledge of building codes and property sales protocol. I even told him how they said a guy like him didn’t exist.

“What do you mean? They think you made me up?”

“Something like that, yes.”

“I don’t understand. What is it that they found so hard to believe?”

“Simply, that I met a successful guy who genuinely wants to find someone, regardless of whether that’s me or not. That’s all.”

“I don’t just want to just find someone, Katherine. I want to love, and be loved like no other and I do exist. I’m already surprisingly quite fond of you. To be honest I think you’re amazing. If I was them, I certainly wouldn’t be questioning your knowledge of the property sector, either. It’s beyond solid, and evidenced by your past properties, which is why I genuinely offered you that job, which you should take, by the way. I’m a bit shocked though, I thought they were your close friends. Maybe you should re think your circle.”

“They are my close friends and maybe that’s why they thought they could say all this to me. You know how family can be mean sometimes. I’m just so hurt if that’s what they really think of me. I am going to talk to them about it.”

“I’d love to meet them and tell them what I see.”

“Ha, Well, Paul, I could have done with that back up, earlier today.”

“Next time it’s a date. If I turned up, then they would feel like idiots wouldn’t they? Age appropriate with my act together. I’d like you to think I have your back, Katherine, and I’d like to hope we are going to get to a place where you know that.”

The next day, I remember phoning those friends, individually, all 7 of them, and at least having the courage to say that the bullying was ridiculous. I was saddened to think they saw so little in me. Di told me to grow up. ‘I was being delusional’ that such a wonderful person could exist. I agreed, except I’d met him.

John apologized and was sorry that I had felt ostracized. To soothe troubled waters, he organised a dinner for all of us on the following Friday. I accepted and said Paul would be coming. I knew they wanted proof he existed……….

Chapter 11

It was the week after Easter and the first time my friends met Paul.

I was nervous as I waited for him to pick me up. After the character         assassination from my supposed closest and dearest, I wanted them to like him. I didn’t want a rehash of all the negativity from the previous week. I still couldn’t understand where all that hostility had come from. I had internalized their solid message. “I’m a loser. I’m ugly. I’m worthless and stupid. And dumb and ridiculous. Worse still I am alone. It was rhetoric added to an already existing record that played continuously in my head.

When Paul arrived, he had laughed at my state. “Katherine, trust me, they won’t be saying anything mean. It’s going to be an awesome night. Come on.”

We were walking out of the shop and I was locking the door. I glanced over my shoulder at him.

“Paul, you know how you said you were going to buy that other car?”

He smirked. “Yes.”

“Can you tell me when you do?”

We were now walking up the road.

“So I can act as if I had noticed and be enthusiastic and happy for you, because you boys like your cars and I don’t want to seem rude. I’d like to share your excitement. Ok?”

We were standing beside his car, and he was opening the door for me.

I got in. He was still smirking at me.

“Ok.”

He was doing his seat belt up, when he looked at me. “Katherine, this is the new car.”

“Really?” I was surprised. “I felt like I had just failed. See. STUPID!

“Yep. New, new new.”

“I’m sorry it looks the same as the other one. Are you teasing me?” I was hoping he was joking.

His face was a bit crestfallen. “Katherine, they aren’t even the same color.”

“Yes they are. Silver.”

“You’re right Katherine. This is silver. The Maserati, however, is still champagne and nothing like this at all. This is the car James Bond drives.”

I looked at him intently, still drawing a blank.

“Oh God, Katherine. This is an Aston.”

Yep, clearly the biggest fail.

He was pulling out into the traffic as he said. “You may not be impressed, but wait till your friends see us pull up in this, then you will understand. The guys will cream themselves.”

Really? It’s still just a silver daddy car. I did not share this thought.

As we drove, he turned to me, reaching for my hand, he gently raised it to his lips and kissed it.

“Katherine, I won’t tolerate any disrespect from your friends towards you. I hope you know this. I already adore you. I think you are my reward. I know you are my future happiness. I think life has served some fairly shitty things your way and mine, but I’d like to think that me randomly finding you, is the universe’s way of changing that.

And, just so you know, I am an exceptionally demonstrative man. I like to touch and hug, so I’m hoping you don’t have any issue with public displays of affection, because I don’t want to have to reign in my natural desire to touch you. Is that all right?

“I’m fine with that Paul, as long as things are respectful, I don’t mind that at all.”

We walked in through John’s back door to find three of my friends already around the kitchen bench, pouring wine.

I had already primed Paul. I have several different groups of friends. They are all very real people. Down to earth.

John; a school principal and maths teacher. Very conservative. Football,  -Tigers fanatic. Runner. A remorseless conquest hunter. Doesn’t realise how OCD he is. Known him for at least nine years.

Dianne, an accountant. More conservative than she thinks. Single mum  raising two boys in their early 20‘s, who had both currently lost their way. Essendon all the way. Known her through John, for perhaps 5 years. We have only been close in the last few years.

Vikki. John’s new girlfriend. New job in pharmacy chain, window dressing or something. Relatively nice. Don’t worry too much about her. He is like a dating revolving door, and generally only introduces us to his girls when he is already onto the next one.

Oscar. Loyal, placid, Oscar. He has his own truck business, working in road construction. Lovely. Genuine. Italian. Traditional. Quiet.

Thus armed, Paul separated from me, and smile flashing, warmly greeted each of them, before walking straight up to Di and saying.

“Hi I’m Paul. You must be Dianne. I hear I don’t exist.”

She looked taken aback at the friendly, confident self introduction. It was immediately clear Paul knew about the Easter lunch, bullying session.

Oh, tonight is going to be a balls up, after all.

But, after a second of hesitation, everyone just laughed, and made jokes that he did sound a bit made up.

“Well, Paul.” Di said, with her hand flirtatiously resting on his arm. “We know her better than you do, and if you had seen who she’s been dating lately you would understand our disbelief as to your actual existence. We have had to meet some doozies. Katherine’s been making some grandiose statements about how wonderful you are. We will see how close to the mark she is.”

I was fuming. OMG it’s started again. Who are they basing this on? I don’t remember the last time I even had a relationship. Let alone brought someone to dinner. Oh, except Oscar, and that was more than a year ago and he had become such a firm friend that he was having dinner with us tonight. Yes, I must have bad taste in the guys I date. Oscar and I didn’t work, but we all like him enough to maintain a friendship. What is this? As for talking Paul up. You can’t. He is bigger than anything I could make up.

Paul allowed the banter at my expense to continue for a few minutes before saying.

“Well, I hope that’s all in the past now and I’d like to think I’ll be lucky enough to hang around and rectify the situation. I think she deserves more. Don’t you?”

Just then Oscar came bounding through the back door.

“Whose is that in the driveway?”

Paul just looked at me, knowingly.

They all went outside and stood there staring at the new car. Apparently Paul was right. They were beyond impressed. I was just bewildered. It’s a car. A silver car.

“Glad you like it Oscar. Now we just have to convince Katherine to drive my old one.”

The whole conversation about cars fascinated me. Why do people even care? Regardless of my lack of interest, the consensus was that it was hysterical to imagine me driving a Maserati. I’d have no appreciation of it. Oscar volunteered to look after it for him.

He spent the rest of the night talking me up. Telling them he was into me, and being very tactile just as he said he would be. He made us laugh. He spoke business. Finance, cars, football. He knew the suburbs they grew up in and some of the same people. It was like he had always been there.

My friends approved. They liked him. They liked him enough to tell him, that they liked him.

It was nice having my friends and my apparently “instant” boyfriend, getting along. There was no pressure or awkwardness. I wasn’t baby-sitting and neither was he. It was comfortable and natural. We worked.

He reciprocated by telling them how much he liked me. He thought this could be something special.

“Sometimes you just know. And when you know, then you shouldn’t let the opportunity slip by. It’s that belief that has got my businesses to where they are now, and my personal life to here, today.”

John, a professional commitment phob, looked puzzled.

“I’ve been through my share of heart ache. When you think you have something and it’s suddenly torn away from you, well you learn to appreciate what you have, while you still have it.”

It was obvious, he was going to have to expand on that and he did.

He touched their hearts as he shared how his last relationship had ended so unexpectedly.

Money doesn’t guarantee happiness. Paul and his last girlfriend had travelled the world together. Stayed in some of the most exotic destinations. Sailed, Scuba dived. Adventurously parachuted in the Bahamas. It had been a wonderful time, just as he was coming into serious wealth and leisure time.

She was a very quiet, anti social sort of girl. She didn’t have friends but that had complimented his outgoing personality. Ying and yang. She was analytical and distant, and he feels with his heart.

She was studying to become a lawyer when they first met. But after a year she started to get sick. They tried everything. From initially thinking it was just the flu, she just got worse, so fast. They had been on his boat in the Whitsundays when he realized it was something more serious and within 4 months it turned out to be leukemia. She was American, so he flew her back to the USA, to be with her family in Boston. He took 6 months off to be by her side, and at the end asked her to marry him while she was in hospital. He even had a ring. She turned him down because she didn’t want to leave him as a widower. He had stayed by her side while she had wasted away, becoming skeletal. The hollow cheek bones and bulging eyes with that deathly, glassy, stare.

“It is just the most horrible death. Her eyes would roll into the back of her head and towards the end she smelled so bad. The smell of death, of rotting flesh from the inside, like decaying steak, and when she tried to speak, her breath: It made you gag. I sat beside her in that hospital bed while she slept. I fed her and wiped away her drool. Listened to her rasping, labored breathing.

I can promise, I never once thought of leaving her, even when both my   family and hers were urging me to leave and get on with my life and be happy. I loved her and when I love, I love like no other. I am completely faithful. I willed her to get better but she died. She died knowing she was loved and that’s important.

He had kissed her as she took her final gasp and said.

“I love you Baby.”

He learnt he was a stayer and loyal.

“I could have walked out and left her in America, but I stayed right to the end, even when it was obvious, the end was inevitably going to be her death. For me to watch her die, was apparently written in my life plan, before I even met her. She literally had to die for me to move forward into a better future. I couldn’t see that at the start, but I can now.


Then I had to speak the eulogy at her funeral. It was the loneliest thing I have ever done. I was outside surrounded by fresh spring greenery, in front of a few hundred people and I remember saying. ‘I have never felt so alone.’ And I meant it.”

I noticed Di, wipe a leaking eye. It was sad. It was very, very sad to hear of the pain he had gone through, and the awful suffering she had endured. But deep inside, I didn’t want to keep hearing this story. I’m a bit cold hearted sometimes.

“With her gone, I was surrounded by strangers in a country where no one knew me. Her parents had told me to just leave.They genuinely wanted me gone. That they would look after her, and encouraged me to move on. I tried to explain that I was better off being with her to the end., but they saw no reason for me to stay. They felt that my presence just made things worse. They wanted me to move on, and get on with my life. Start afresh as if my relationship had never existed. I realised they didn’t want to even look at me.”

I flew home the next day. There was nothing for me in Boston.

Hardest part is thinking you may love like that again, only to lose it. It’s my biggest fear. Going through that pain again. I know it sounds selfish but it’s true. By the time she died, she was better off. Finished in her prime, but I was left with plans for my life, and I just haven’t seemed to have been able to find any one special enough to make me feel that way again.”

He looked at me and put his hand across mine, gently squeezing it. He turned it over and in front of everyone kissed my palm.

“Until, maybe now.”

Huge statement. My friends were sold. When he went to the bathroom, John said,

“Don’t stuff this up Katherine. He seems really nice and clearly adores you. He is a man. This is what you should have been looking for.”

In less than a week from Good Friday, my friends had gone from disbelief that a man like Paul could exist, to becoming the cheer squad. Clearly, Paul not only existed, but was pretty awesome in everyone’s eyes.

Di, Paul and Oscar went outside for a cigarette break before dessert, and I skipped off to the loo. When I went out to join them, the boys were standing on the lawn and Di was sitting on a deck chair under the verandah. She said,

“That would be awesome, honestly. If you could just give them a chance. They are great boys. Ash and Sam would be so grateful to be given a break.”

They exchanged business cards.

I looked at her confused. What did I just miss? Had she just hit Paul up for jobs for her unemployed sons? She was meant to be playing wing woman, not looking out for herself. Seriously? This is technically my second serious date with the guy. Talk about loyalty.

She followed it up with. “I suppose you two will be heading off home soon for some down and out, dirty, hanky panky.”

Good lord. Where did that come from? We haven’t even finished dinner yet. I leant into her and whispered that I hadn’t gone there.

She looked up at Paul. “Wow, she must really like you if she hasn’t slept with you yet.”

What the actual hell?? I remember looking at her, and thinking, you really don’t like me, do you. These were meant to be my friends. I had been playing it cool with Paul, and you go and say that. Why. Seriously Why? What is wrong with people?

One second you are happy that I have found an awesome man, the next you are sabotaging it.

Why, just why?

Once dinner was finished and we had left with much fan fair about the car, I felt that Di had forced the issue and sealed the deal that tonight, most likely now, would be the night. I had planned on dragging it out longer.

As we drove away, Paul took no time in quizzing me about her snide jab and I could only say.

“Yes, I suppose it’s true. I haven’t slept with you yet because I am interested. I’d prefer to get to know you on a deeper level. I think sex messes peoples’ views of each other.”

“So would you have slept with me if you hadn’t been interested in me in a more meaningful, longer term thing?”

Entering murky waters, for anyone in todays dating society. I looked at him as he drove and answered honestly.

“No Paul, I wouldn’t have slept with you casually. You don’t fall into that category.” There’s a truth.

“Because you know it’s not my sort of thing. I don’t sleep around Katherine and if you do, we have a problem. A big problem before we even begin.”

“No, Paul, because there’s more to you, and I had wanted to see some of your layers. If you had been lesser of a man, I wouldn’t be contemplating it at all. I’m pretty fussy.” Another truth.

A huge thank you to Di. Thank you. Thaaaaannnnk yoooou!. For opening such a can of worms. Putting doubt and disrespect into Paul’s head. Well done. Thank you. I was furious and fuming silently in my head.

What I didn’t say, was to fall into the steamy, casual encounter brigade, the guy needed to be an open flame. Paul was a smolder. I wanted to wait.

What Happened to Paul Carter? VOL I THe very true story of love, passion & a Hitman. Chapters 12-15

Chapter 12

But that was before the universe punished me and took him away.

Now I am stuck, lying on the floor wrapped in the shop’s spa blankets,  holding my head under them, desperately keeping my eyes away from the harsh reality that the bright light of day brings; a spearing pain, physically, and an honest reminder that time is still marching forward. I have things to face.

Remembering how wonderful he was, makes me feel painfully better. Thinking back and seeing my friends happy and laughing with him.

I stare blankly into the dark under the blanket and zone out.

I remembered after only a month of being with him, walking into the shop’s kitchen and taking a moment. A small, three second, pause from the merry ground of life. I looked up towards the ceiling and said thank you. Thank you to the power that had allowed Paul into my life. A moment’s grace to genuinely say out loud.

“Thank you for giving me Paul. A real gentleman. Thank you.”

It felt overwhelming to think I could breathe. That I could finally relax. That I could be loved. Protected. That someone so wonderful wanted to be with me. That I was allowed to adore this man.

And then there had been a flash of anger aimed at the very same              omnipresent force that ruled my world. Generous and kind then cruel and vindictive.

“You didn’t have to put me through hell for these past few years just to balance it out with someone so wonderful. I would have been happier with a little less shit before, and a little less perfection from Paul. I’m grateful. I’m just exhausted from coping with the major random crap you keep piling my way, and just at the point of cowering completely to a life of struggle and injustice, you throw Paul at me. Like seriously? Have you finished playing? Can life just be calm now? I’m saying thank you but, please, please let me breathe now.”

Paul had once told me that he was the balancing weight on the scale of justice in my life. For all the horrors I had previously endured, for all the sadness and hurt, he was put in my life to right that. His amazingly blessed life was going to beat my curse of left of centre universal cruelties.

“You may feel like you are cursed Katherine, but I am blessed. Everything I touch turns to gold. We will be perfect. I will look after you. No more harm will come your way. You’ll see. We are meant to be together. You are going to help complete me, and for that I will be the protector you deserve.”

I had desperately wanted to believe him.

I was standing in that tiny room facing the white pantry door, aware that a tear of anger, or gratitude or happiness was trying to escape from the bottom rim of my right eye. It was relief. It was exhaustion. It was the release of all the pent up anxiety from years of struggling, from passing through fear. From thinking that now I could breathe. But, I just couldn’t let it fall. I still couldn’t trust yet. Not completely. I was grateful, but scared it would be taken away.

So much to be grateful for.

Chapter 13

Grateful for the first night he took me to his house.

Even after Dianne’s comment which had set a tone of awkwardness and strangely a silent unified closeness. He had driven past my shop and continued on through to the more conservative suburbs east of Melbourne. Down Toorak Rd. At one point, he indicated towards a fenced block of land with building construction in progress.

“That’s where the penthouse will be, if they ever finish it.”

If it was meant to impress me, it didn’t. I dislike the suburbs. Too much went down for me as a child out there and I want nothing to do with anything further than walking distance from the city centre.

We eventually ended up in Box Hill. He had made the decision for us. He hadn’t asked.

We parked at the front of a house with a tall portico, and walked in through a small foyer. A huge abstract oil painting was leaning against the wall opposite the door. It took up the whole wall. Purples and yellows. Very modern.

As he led me through the house, we went past his office. Another statement piece. This time a mirror, again sitting on the floor, just propped against the wall. It looked temporary.

The desk had organised piles of papers and files and a black Asian inspired bookshelf full of folders. There was an entire red leather lounge suite in there, and a kimono draped across the back of the couch. It had a pole through the sleeves and was clearly waiting to be hung. The floor had several blue prints and architectural draft papers strewn carefully in a line, along the floor.

To the side of us was a living room. It seemed to have mismatching furniture. Brown tables, grey modular lounge, black shelves. I’m very visual. It seemed odd.

He was in front, holding my hand, carefully leading me up a small flight of three stairs. As we reached the landing, as if he could read my thoughts, he said casually.

“Most of this furniture came with the house. My stuff is still in storage waiting for the penthouse in Camberwell to be finished. It’s meant to be complete and I’m sick of being here. This is a short term rental that I took when we rushed back from the Whitsundays, and then with all the illness and going back to Massachusetts, well I just never focused on moving forward. My life has been in a holding pattern for so long.

My stuff is the modern bits. I brought those paintings, with me, thinking that I would hang them, but they are way too big for here. My last place, in  Malvern was somewhat larger. Nothing fits or suits this place. It’s ok. It’s just a transition, like everything unpleasant, it will pass. I’ll return them to the storage unit one day.”

That explained that, then.

I acted as if I hadn’t noticed anything except to say.

“Yes I think those book shelves are Ikea. Oliver had a white one in his room.”

“Maybe? Pretty much everything down to the crockery and cookware came with the house.”

He turned me to face him and slid his hand under my hair, cupping the nape of my neck, pulling me into his body. His other hand purposefully and  forcefully slid across my waist and back, finishing across my bottom, grinding me into him. He stroked my jaw, with his thumb, as his tongue  gently explored my mouth. He caressed my lips with slow sensual licks.

He literally picked me up and carried me up the stairs, across another landing and into the bedroom.

He lowered me carefully on to the bed and with passionate kisses, began to undress me. Literally worshipping my body as each inch was uncovered. He was a big man and as I undid his buttons and slid his shirt off, was surprised to see a full sleeve tattoo on one arm and a half sleeve on the other. His   biceps were huge, nearly as big as my thigh.

With his fingers twisted gently in my hair. We slowly made love. It was  gentle, caring, loving. He was tender, and considerate. At just over 6 feet, he had enough strength and height to lift me where he wanted, and he did. He was powerful and totally in control. He flipped me into positions and as much as he was forceful and demanding, his hands were incredibly gentle yet firm. He knew what he was doing. This wasn’t average sex. It was years of experience. He took his time. My inner calf, the curve of my back, the top of my thigh, the nape of my neck. Kissing, licking, touching everywhere. I was equally curious and reciprocated in kind. He ensured I finished and then he climaxed and rolled onto his back pulling me into towards his chest.

He blissfully groaned as he enveloped me with his muscular arms,           maneuvering me into his body and wrapping my leg across his. I nuzzled my head onto his chest, across his large shoulder, smelling the sweat on his neck.

“You fit perfectly Princess, I knew you would.” He took a deep, satisfied breath and kissed me on my forehead, and fell asleep.

Chapter 14

I woke in the morning to an empty bed and lay there feeling awkward. Do I get up? Where is he? How long should I wait?

I could hear noises downstairs. He was talking. I waited till it was silent again, got up, put my clothes on, and tentatively made my way down to the kitchen. He was in front of the sink, washing a dish. I could smell toast and eggs. He had eaten without me. Strange.

He asked what I wanted for breakfast and I explained that I only drank coffee. He came around the bench and kissed me good morning and then led me into the kitchen. He then showed me where everything was and stopped at the expresso machine. “And this is how this works.” He pressed knobs and showed me where the cups were hidden. “I want you to treat this as your own Katherine. Like this is your home. It will be.”

My head freaked. I need my coffee. Sane people don’t say stuff like that.

He moved me back to the other side of the kitchen bench and pulled out a stool. I drank my coffee and chatted, while he cooked me a breakfast of bacon and eggs.

“Katherine I am successful because I trust my instincts. You and I are going to work. You will realise. It’s not crazy. It’s just how it’s going to be. I meant it. Treat this house as your own. Go on up and have a shower and we can go spend the day in a park.”

He escorted me upstairs, and showed me through the walk in wardrobe into the ensuite.

“If you need anything; deodorant, hair ties, just go through these drawers. Use what you want.”

He opened two drawers and they were full of expensive girl products. Creams, perfumes.

Red flag. Aw crap. I felt the let down. Had to be something wrong.

“I’ve been single a long time Katherine. Sometimes shit gets left behind. Some of it’s from the boy’s girlfriends. It’s nothing. If there’s something you like, then please use it or just take it home. Anything you want.

I didn’t say anything. I was stunned. Then I felt my nose scrunch and in my typical, ‘no filter response,’ I blurted. “Yeah I’m not sure I feel comfortable about that. I think it’s not quite right.” I was aware I needed a shower and would require something to keep my hair dry.

“If it bothers you, I’ll get rid of it. I want you to be happy with me, Katherine. Meantime it’s there and you don’t have anything with you because last night sort of, just happened, unplanned.”

He left me with a fresh towel. I showered, looking like I was practicing yoga. Leaning forward, and then leaning back, to avoid getting my hair wet. I stepped out to to dry myself and casually glanced into the bedroom.

Ooh, that doesn’t feel right.

He had changed the sheets and the doona was folded, airing, at the end of the bed. I could feel the red flags. I could visualize signaling a time out to myself.

I was literally just pulling on my skirt from last night when he walked in, kissed me and picked up my towel. He was talking as he turned towards the door.

“It’s a beautiful day, Princess, which park?”

I followed him down the stairs. “I think Fitzroy Gardens would be nice, but really anywhere with a newspaper and coffee will be perfect.”

We were heading to the back door, but he stopped off as he passed the laundry, threw my towel in the washing machine with his and flicked it on. The kitchen was spotless. Ok, he’s a neat freak.

Not such a bad thing. My old place was immaculate. I understand that. I am a minimalist and everything has it’s place. I started telling myself off, for being so quick to always look for an excuse to be out before anything begins.

Turn off the freak flag. He is more a unicorn by the hour.

We had spent the entire day together, lying in the sun on a picnic rug, just reading and chatting and enjoying a perfect Fitzroy coffee. We went to my place and grabbed some more clothes.

“Princess, bring enough to see you through till Monday.”

Apparently I was staying over. I grabbed hair ties, deodorant toothbrush and clothes. We went out for local Italian. Thank god, I have a beautiful wardrobe. I had something appropriate to wear, scrunched in the corner of the over night bag. That little black dress gives me a cleavage I do not own, with an elegant maxi dress flowing from under the bust line. It’s simple and elegant, and crush proof. I’ve had it 20 years.

The next day the stuff in the bathroom drawer was gone. – Good!

That second night was like we had been together for years. He had kissed me on my forehead, down the side of my face and along my jaw line. We were standing at the foot of the bed and he slowly turned me around, lifting the dress over my head. He gently pushed me on to the bed and lay on top of me, his trousers already undone.

He was focused on his task several times. Wow. It was everything.

Hot, passionate, seductive, powerful, gentle rough, hard, slow, fast pounding, grinding but at all times loving. I was happy and impressed I got to cum while he was on top of me, but I was shocked that over the course of two hours, he had just managed to achieve back to back sex and cum three times. This age appropriate thing may not be so bad. He lay sprawled on the bed beside me, panting. His body glistening with sweat.

“OMG. OMG. I have never done that. Never fucked, cum and stayed hard, fucked again and cum again. What was that? OMG perfect. Even when I was younger I’ve never done that.”

He was out of breath and pulled me closer. He kissed my forehead. In my head I was impressed. That was good sex. We work well together.

“Have you ever experienced anything like that? The world is still moving. Oh, Princess. Ooh my GOD.”

I didn’t answer, it wasn’t in my interest. He fell asleep wrapping me around him.

Chapter 15

We became instantly inseparable. Socializing with friends, cozying on the couch, going out for romantic dinners and making time for steamy sex. His desire was insatiable. Constant and animalistic. The more he got of me, the more he needed. His desire was extreme.

“Katherine, you are like a drug to me. I literally can’t get enough of you. I have never felt this way before. What have you done to me? I have never been able to cum this much before. You are like heroin. You are my heroin. I am so addicted to you. Have you heard the band, Goldfrapp? Their song, ‘Number one.’ He sang. “You’re my favorite moment. That’s how you make me feel.”

Dating Paul brought a passion and zest for life that I don’t think I had ever seen in another man before. It was an instant buzz of activity. Never still. He took to leaving work early, and ensuring he made the most of any free time I had. He wanted to pamper me and in return, be pampered back. He sucked in every nuance of attention. It was a fresh romance and everything was how it should be. Perfect, attentive, happy and loving.

Because he wanted to be with me as much as possible, we spent all our time at his house. His office was there, it was easier for him, and as he was the busier of the two, with so much more responsibility, it seemed sensible and convenient. He drove me to and from work every day and kept offering the use of the Maserati, which I continued to refuse.

“You’ll have to drive it at some point if we keep seeing each other. I have some very busy weeks coming up and you need to be able to get from my place to work. Katherine, it’s just a car. A meaningless piece of metal unless you use it. I was meant to have sold it, but I am keeping it, because I know you will change your mind.”

It hadn’t caused an issue, but it meant that within the first week of seeing him, he had gone off to work and left me in his house alone. He came home and was so excited to find me cooking dinner.

He came around the kitchen bench and hugged me tightly. He had tears in his eyes.

“Thank you Princess. I don’t remember the last time, someone cared enough about me to cook dinner.”

I was shocked at how moved he was over a meal. We had to eat something.

“Baby, why is the house so cold? Didn’t you put the heater on?” He had pulled back from me, taking on board that I was draped in one of his jumpers, which engulfed me.

I had been cold to my bones, earlier in the day, but cooking had started to thaw me.

“I didn’t know where the control was and I didn’t want to go snooping. So I just grabbed this off the airer because I could see it.” I pointed to the end of the kitchen bench near the couch.

“Oh baby, I know you haven’t gone through anything. You’re not that sort of girl. I trust you ,or I wouldn’t leave you in my house. I know the risk I take if you wanted to rifle through my things. There’s a lot of confidential papers I store here, but I know to my core, that you haven’t.

However, the heater is different. You should make yourself at home. Please treat this as yours. The laundry, lounge, kitchen, cars, it all for you to use. I want you to be in this house with me, so you need to be comfortable, ok? As for the heater, the control is here.” He walked over and showed me how to use it and then showed me where the DVDs were and how to use his Foxtel. Finishing his tour with the overstocked chest freezer in the garage. “I cook in bulk and freeze it, for when I’m eating alone, bachelor style, infront of the TV. Feel free to eat what you want from it.”

I noted the neat hand written labels. He is a hard act to follow. A better house wife than most. 

He immediately took to waiting for me in the reception area of the shop, every day, so he could take me back to his house. I was happy to let him go do his own thing, but all he wanted to do, was me. So he dropped me off in the morning and picked me up in the evening. I’d suggest he go catch up with his friends and he would look hurt.

“Katherine, let’s enjoy this now. My friends will be there later. Being with you, is no inconvenience. I want to see you. I want to make you happy.

Seeing you smile makes my day. Let me do this for you. Surely staying at my house is nicer than yours. Don’t you want to be with me?”

I had no come back. Why wouldn’t I want to be with him? He was easy to be around. He made me melt.

He met a fair few of my clients and girlfriends this way by sitting in the foyer.

They love, love, loved him. He was forming his own little fan club.

It was one of these afternoons, that he met Louise, a client, come girlfriend, of 5 years. I was finishing in the back room, and I could hear them introduce each other and start to chat. She was telling him about how she was an accounting business analyst, but she was more interested in the fact Paul had a building company. Louise had sold her home and settlement was imminent. She was looking at purchasing an old house and knocking it down. He was recommending designers.

The next day, she texted me.

“I was pretty impressed with Paul. He seems like a genuine business man. I loved his ideas. Would you recommend him for our building project and would you mind if we used him.”

I texted back.

“I believe he is well respected within the industry and I’d be happy for you to use him.”

She and her lovely husband, Darren, were excited and met with him the following week. She told me later, that the way Paul spoke about me, had them both in tears.

“Katherine, that man loves you so much. He aches for you. He wishes you would hurry up and believe him. I get that it is quick, but he has fallen head over heels with you. Sometimes people just know, and he knows. I mean, to make Darren well up, over Paul waxing lyrical about you. That’s a feat. He went on and on about how much he adores you. It was beautiful.

Oh, and we are going with him for the build. He made us an awfully good deal. I think because he loves you so much. We are getting top of the range options at the base rate, so thank you for facilitating us getting together. We had such a lovely afternoon with him.

Not that we had any reservations, but he even told us about his previous  girlfriend, and how she died of leukemia. It was hard to listen to, but it was good to talk to someone who has gone through what we are dealing with right now with Charlotte. Hearing him be so open and honest with us about how he coped, and the journey, and then finding you, well it cinched the deal.”

My heart bled a little as she spoke about it. The pain of watching your own child slowly die of cancer would be heart breaking. Permanently.

I admired her strength, and her amazing ray of sunshine attitude to life. I was glad Paul had been able to give a bit of comfort. Apparently he had described the painful, slow process of her death, but then focused on the healing.

He’d told them. “You can get through it, by focusing on her whilst she is alive. Celebrate not mourn. Then you have to honor their memory by taking what you can from their life, and use it to help move forward.”

I was grateful that he had met Louise and Darren. He was entrenching himself in my friend circle, and looking after them. Doing this was showing everyone, not just me, what calibre of man he was.

What Happened to Paul Carter? VOL I The very true story of love, passion & a Hitman. Chapters 16-18

Chapter 16

Things were happening so fast. It had taken months to finally get together, and suddenly I was on this speeding train. The universe was determined to embed him in my life. Within a fortnight of dating, he accidentally met Oiver. Something I wasn’t happy about, at all.

There they were in the reception area of my shop and Ollie was openly    talking to this man about the challenges of being so young and trying to live independently out of home. Obviously they had introduced themselves in such a manner, that Oliver decided he was acceptable, and Paul knew he was my son.

They were chatting like friends. I was caught up in the back room of the shop, but from the sounds, I could tell Ollie had taken possession of the  receptionist’s chair and Paul was comfortably ensconced on the couch. I was with a client and try as I did to finish as quickly as possible, by the time I got out there, they had organised a date, to go looking at motor bikes together, with Paul offering to buy him one, if they found a suitable replacement for Ollie’s current bike.
I was horrified.

When I came out to the reception area, Paul excused us and we walked outside. He explained.  “Katherine, do you realise Oliver is currently driving a death trap?” He went on to explain how many things were wrong with  Ollie’s current motorbike and that he couldn’t live with himself if he died on the road.

I would now look like the meanest mother in the whole world if I took this offer off the table, and had to acquiesce. I went back inside, while Paul finished his cigarette.

“Ollie, don’t abuse this man’s generosity ok? I haven’t even started to date him. There’s a lot of water to get under the bridge yet.”

Ollie looked at me wisely. “Mum, as if he is actually going to buy me a bike. I just figure, I’ll get a day out looking at dream machines with someone who used to have a bike shop.”

“Really? I didn’t know that.” So much to this man. He has literally done everything.

But when they returned from the trip a couple of weeks later, my son had a new bike, and Paul had arranged to pay his rent for 6 months. Again, I was aghast.

“Paul, you just can’t go doing that sort of stuff. You have to talk to me first. I’m not in a position to undo what you have offered and now done, because I’m not letting you make me look like a cow. But, no more.”

“Katherine. He needs some help. He needs to be able to breathe and settle into all the pressures of being an adult. Let me give him the chance to save some money and get a step ahead of the game. He has gone through so much. I won’t notice it. It’s all good. Even if it doesn’t work out between you and I, it’s something I’d like to do. He’s a really good kid. He is a great young man, who is trying to be a good adult. Let me help. You should be proud.”

Later Oliver and Sarah popped into the shop discussing the pros and cons of renting a new apartment from Paul when he finished a multi home development in Fawkner, around the corner from where they currently lived. Paul had offered a substantially subsidized rent for the three bedroom apartment at the back. They were not leaping at the offer, but taking their time and seriously weighing it all up. They didn’t want to get involved in a complicated situation, if he and I broke up. I totally understood. My mind was still reeling over the fact Paul had offered a solution to them, again without talking it through with me first.

Paul just wanted everyone happy and if he could fix something he would, with or without my permission or knowledge. As I was learning, this often involved him spending money, which made me extremely uncomfortable.

“Princess, it makes me happy to see you happy. It’s my job to make you happy. When Oliver is happy, you are happy. So let it be. Let me help Oliver. My actions have made all of us happy.”

Chapter 17

Dating this man was exhausting.

There was no ‘stop’ button. He was go, go, go all the time. Up for his early morning run. Then showered, dressed, meetings, dinners, socializing, clubs, drinking, dancing, Sex, sex and more sex. Laughter, friends, business calls, more business calls, jokes, more work. More sex, bed. Four hours sleep and it’s on again. I prefer my ten hours deep comatose rest.

He stopped for no one. He controlled everything around him, except me.

“Commit to me, Katherine. Be mine. Princess, when are you going to realise how good I am for you? I’m falling in love with you, when are you going to catch up?”

In all honesty he could be like a girl. Constantly needing reassurance.

Bloody high maintenance, hard work. I called him a Vagina. I called him that to his face. He was a pussy.

“One of us has to be Katherine. It’s not good to be made of concrete.”

From the moment I met him, he was determined to make me his. He wanted to crack through my walls and see my marshmallow. I awarded him an elephant stamp and an A+ for effort. It was constant. Drip, drip drip. He never let it go.

I tried to explain using an analogy.

“Paul, we are like a book. So far we are in the same novel, but at present, even though we know each other, we are still in different chapters. Just wait. Before the end of the story we should be on the same page. The same paragraph. Let the story unfold. I promise if you can be patient our names will be together, forever, in the last sentence.”

But there was no holding his enthusiasm and optimism at bay. I had been seeing him three weeks and we had been at home around the dining table eating dinner, casually chatting about our day, when he suddenly put his hand on top of mine.

“I would like to get married on a beach.”

My head jerked up. “What? Well, good luck with that.”

Unfazed he continued. “Here.”

He showed me pictures of paradise on his phone. Idyllic huts over crystal, clear water. Several of him scuba diving with sharks. He flicked past some pictures of three hot, topless, young girls on a boat, another thin young busty thing, luxuriously sprawled across the seats at the back and a silhouette of a girl cart wheeling as the sun set on a beach. I felt the irrational ping of unfounded jealousy and as quickly dismissed it. I wasn’t jealous of him   being with them. I was jealous of their perfect bodies. I presumed the honey haired one, was his last girlfriend. Erk! Now I have an image. He stopped to show me another perfect beach shot of pristine sand and coconut trees   swaying down to greet the lapping water.

“Bora Bora, you know I have been there before. It is beautiful. Can’t you imagine marrying on the crystal white sand and then walking off to your honeymoon at the end of that board walk? Just a small group of friends. I could fly them up. We could all stay together, and then they can leave and we would stay. From there we could travel for a while. I’d think it would maybe cost just shy of $500,000.

I looked at him.“Well, no actually. I need to marry in a church and it’s beyond crazy talking about it. It’s way too soon, even for jokes. It’s bordering on offensive and demeaning the importance, and wow, you have given this way too much thought.”

“Yes, but if we were to talk about it? It’s something I want, Katherine. To be married again. It’s important to me. I thought that’s what you were looking for.”

“Yes, I suppose in the grand scheme, I am, but my answer would still be, No. Not a beach. And it’s not an appropriate discussion of now.”

“Ok I can compromise. How about we get married on the beach and then in the church?”

“Again Paul, no. You only get married once.”

I looked at him.

“You know what I mean. You can only be married once, at a time.

So no. I’m not getting married on a beach first. Then it would be just a blessing in the church. Sorry, if I ever get married again, I’d ideally want it to be in my church at St Michael’s. Then you can have a blessing on the beach at Bora Bora with all your friends. However, since you brought it up, if that place holds some significance with another woman, then it would  obviously be out as a wedding destination.”

He looked down and then back at me. There was a hesitation in his eyes.

I looked back down at my food, so he couldn’t read my thought. Who ever she was and whenever it was, that works out for me. I don’t want a beach wedding anyhow. I couldn’t imagine getting married without wearing gorgeous heels. Oh my god, I just got caught up in his crazy fantasies.

“So, we can finish dinner in the real world now?” I laughed at him and told him he lived in his own crazy Paul, alternate, parallel universe.

“Katherine I know things. At some point you will understand what we have here is special. It’s unique, and awesome, and I need you in my life. You are part of my life plan. Our mutual destinies need each other, and if you don’t believe that, then I’m prepared to swear on the lives of my children. The future destiny of my life, depends on you being in it.”

“At some point, you will realise you are just talking crazy. Let’s just settle and take our time. No rush. There is no reason to be on speed dial all the time. Enjoy the journey. Please.”

We had finished dinner and he chose a chick flick. “Runaway bride.” God, he never gives up. Hahaha, yes, yes, very funny.

Chapter 18

My head pounds me back to reality as something heavy smacks into the back window of the shop. It scares me and my heart races. Whatever it was hasn’t broken the glass, but it was big, and it’s unlikely to be accidental. I literally don’t have the strength to investigate further. My mind is trying to be alert and focus, but all I managed was to be sick again. At least I forgot about the window, to sick to care, I curled up inside of my black sanctuary. I reluctantly stretch my arm out, holding the edge of the blanket so I don’t feel the cold as I search the floor for more tablets. I bring them and the glass, which was sitting beside me, in under the safety of the blanket.   Darkness is my home. I do not want to leave it.

He was always so passionate, driven and demanding with everything he did, regardless of whether it was contracts, clients, sex, friends, dinners, reservations, contractors, his opinions. He made decisions decisively and quickly. He wanted more of everything.

“Katherine I got to where I am, by trusting my instincts. They are never wrong.”

He had “known instantly” that I was the one, and my slower more hesitant nature frustrated him.

“I am just aware of more things than you, Katherine. I know you are more than perfect for me. My plans include you and if you would just love me back, you’ll find that I’m more than perfect for you. I know that you can make all my dreams come true.

But, I feel like you are making me hunt you. When the time is right, I want you to be able to look back on this, and know you chose me out of your own volition. That I was your choice. I don’t want to drag you into this. Eventually, you will see, we were destined to meet. It’s as if I knew you, before I even met you. We will have wonderful lives. You just need to feel it. I can’t wait forever though. Souls know each other Katherine. Ours know each other. Why are you not understanding? What has happened in your past that you trust your inner self so little?”

That struck a chord and I felt guilty, for it wasn’t the first time I had been accused of not wanting to commit and I definitely had ghosts haunting the back of my mind. Doesn’t everyone?

It was hard to argue with him. Those pale blue eyes, his endearing smile, the genuine warmth and charismatic manner that ensured everyone acquiesced. He was used to getting his way and I was never sure if it was purely because he had always been so ridiculously good looking or whether it was because he was so powerful in his own world.

Regarding affairs of the heart, I am by nature, reticent and whenever I tried to press the go slow pedals of his control, he would literally burst with frustration. Even though it was clear I hurt him, I couldn’t stop my need to objectify our relationship and rationalize his over the top emotional intensity as crazy infatuation. It was all too much, too soon. It defied my logic. I just didn’t want to feel that exposed and reliant on another person for my own happiness. I was not going to leap in.

“Paul, passion is great, it’s just not reliable. You know that love is technically a chemical inbalance in our brain. It’s why, when we break up it feels like we are withdrawing from an addiction. So just chill. I do not feel like going through that painful process when you suddenly leave me bereft and confused after you lose this intense interest in me. It’s not sustainable.”

“God, you’re so annoying, Katherine.” Feel here, he would say holding his chest, not here. Thumping his head.

“Paul, just slow down. There’s no hurry. It’s a journey. Enjoy our “now.” Please stop rushing towards an imagined tomorrow. Get to know each other’s everything in the present.”

“I am the one living in the present Katherine. You can’t see the forest for the trees. I am waiting here, in front of you, so we can have a future together. The sooner you realise and jump on board, the sooner our life can begin.”

The frustration over such a stupid issue, way too soon. Neither wanted to see the other’s point of view.

“It takes time, Paul. I think love is complicated if it’s to last. The perfect combination of meshing individuals together. It’s the blending of practicalities, habits, histories and chemistry which given time form a balancing act, creating long term happiness and contentment.

To know love, you need to see the full cycle of each other. You need to know each other’s truth. Rose tinted glasses get scratched. Falling in love in an instant, only happens when someone has a deep void they are trying to fill with someone else’s being. Because they feel too little for themselves that they can’t fill the void on their own. It’s irrational hope and emotional desperation poured into a stranger. What burns fast, dies quick.’

He hated it. He just wanted to feel the passion and rush to the finish line, logic out the window.

Regardless, his enthusiasm for life and for me, was hard to fight. I felt like I denied it for ages and it surprises me, looking back now, at how quickly I actually succumbed to his love. So much seemed to happen in such a short space of time. It was dizzying. Even my friends were telling me to get on the Paul wagon, and I would tell them to all slow down. Everyone was on his side.

He was so full on about being in love: that I was the one. He was so vocal to everyone. He’d tell me that he was successful from identifying the right products, the right deals, the right markets and trusting his gut.

“Katherine, your instinct, that first reaction, is the correct one. So stop   stalling. Stop fighting us. It’s wasting our time. I’m awesome, We are awesome. When are you going to realise, so we can get on with things, rather than pondering the long term implications of what will happen if it doesn’t work out.

It’s working now. In the present. Stop living in the past and future. Live for now. Feel for now. It’s all we have. Live in the now so we can have the future we deserve.”

Sometimes being with him was like attending a personal growth seminar.

And he wanted to help me with the situation with the shop. He begged.

“You’re my little Katastrophe sent for me to look after. Talk to me. Sometimes problems are just disguised opportunities, like giving both of Di’s boys jobs. Some things are just easy to address and often it’s mutually beneficial to let someone help.

Princess, you have the government payout coming which will be based on your turnover amongst other things, so ideally you should be ramping the business up, not allowing the slow process to bully and beat your business down. Get some staff back, run a spectacular special and re book those clients.”

I must have looked horrified. It was the last thing I wanted to do. I just wanted to plod along as it was. It had been a long few years and I was tired. Internally exhausted and running on air. If Paul hadn’t been in my life, I would be taking it easy until the shop was closed. I had no more fight. Having Paul in my life didn’t and shouldn’t change that.

“Seriously, Katherine you know you will definitely get $250,000. Surely for another 100, you would do anything. A couple more months of hard work. Aren’t they meant to finalise their offer based on your figures provided in August? So if it’s end of April now, that isn’t a very big commitment is it? You’re being silly and lazy. $350,000 is life changing. That’s how much you could get. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”

God. I remembered, I had literally just sold equipment because many of the staff had left under the pressure of uncertainty which the impending tunnel project had put on the business and their job security. My plan was to just plod along as best I could until the bulldozers arrived with a small bag of money.

He read my mind.

‘I know how you feel and appreciate that you were down sizing, but you aren’t seeing the bigger picture. You let the events of the past exhaust you instead of continuing to soldier through.

Look, here’s what I’ll do, because I want to see this money in the bank. I’ll be disappointed if you don’t get a payout of at least a quarter of a million. Imagine what you can do with it. So, I will buy everything you need to repurchase stock etc. Just give me the list. I’ll even pay for the extra staff member, because at the end of the day, I have to admit to an ulterior motive. If you have staff again, then you can go away with me. As you have seen, I need to travel, and I want to go away for weekends and mini breaks and at present we can’t. So stop being difficult. You’re still trying to road block our relationship and your own success. Ok? The problem is easily solved, and I want to take you on a small holiday soon.”

He always needed to fix things. He couldn’t help it.

“What about my furniture? It’s stored in the back room here. It’s just too much to re-organise. Let it slide. Money isn’t everything.”

“Princess, there is a storage company literally across the road. You can see it through the window from your shop.”

“Yes.” I had replied somewhat sulkily.

“Ok, it’s settled. On the weekend I will get the boys from the Byron St project to come over here and load your stuff and move it all into a storage unit.”

God another expense. No. I didn’t want this.

“Stop fighting logic. I’m trying to make life better. I’m offering to pay your new staff member, and the storage fee, and I’ll purchase everything you need to ensure you get the biggest payout that you can be entitled to. OK? Let me help you. I know you want to do everything your way and on your own and you will. I won’t be in here working with you. I’m paying a little bit out now for the better good. Once you get the payout, you can do what you want. It would be yours to use and that would make you feel in control and not reliant on my money. I won’t ask you to do anything else. But money is money and this is a life changing sum.”

“What can I say? You seem to have thought it all out, but I need a break so badly Paul. Honestly I can’t keep pushing myself. You don’t understand you weren’t here for what I have gone through. I’m bouncing from Ollie being on the show, and the house being sold, me moving twice, the shop opening, the shop being bulldozed, and then dating you. I just don’t have the energy to face it. I need to recharge and breathe for a second.”

“I know, Princess, but I’m here now. I want to take care of you. Why don’t you make an appointment with the solicitors and I’ll come. If I take all that pressure off you, then you don’t need to be worrying about the payout or making ends meet. I have your back and I’ll make sure those lazy lawyers of yours get off their arses and look after you. Alright? What if I take over the negotiation? I can answer all their frustrating questions and keep control of them so they stop upsetting you. Use me as a buffer between you and them. Would that help?”

“Yes, Thank you.” In truth I wanted to burst into tears.

He leant back on the couch, pulling out a slip of paper from his suit pocket. He handed it to me.

Two confirmation E tickets to Fiji. Flying out June 17th. In just over four weeks.

I looked at him. “You were pretty confident this would go your way, weren’t you.”

“Of course, my precious Katastrophe, I alway know the outcome before I begin.”

Bizarrely as Paul had said would happen, the universe provided the solution. A girl walked in, and offered her services early the next week. She had met me a few weeks earlier, when she did my lashes at a competitor’s salon, and now she was asking for a job. Fate.

Paul negotiated a contract with her and the next week, Joy began working as a self employed contractor. I immediately started running new specials and bringing fresh business in the door again. I was suddenly working 10 hour days, six days a week and taking paper work home. Paul was proud. I only needed to buy one massage table. I managed to make do with everything else that I still had.

The boys and Oliver moved my personal belongings into the storage unit, literally across the road. It all worked out smoothly, just as Paul had said.