Thomas is possessive, and I yearn to be possessed. He adores me, treats me like a precious thing…something I never felt before.  He is the doting, protective figure he promised he would be, and nothing like the aloof, absentee father I actually grew up with (without).

He is at times tender in his lovemaking, by candlelight, with Heart’s Dog and Butterfly, Side 2 rotating on the turntable– and set on repeat. Other times he is dominating and rough, because I ask him to be. We are experimental. I need extremes of sensation in the beginning, because my response is numbed by overexposure. But he is patient. We play roles with each other. It’s exciting. All consuming. We are completely wrapped up in our life together, our fantasies, our dreams for our future.

We rent an efficiency garage apartment from a friendly, but glib Lithuanian widow named Gaia, who lives in the main house. It’s a tiny space, but we are happy there is a small kitchen. We both love to cook. Thomas is sociable. He introduces me to people, including his two brothers, who are equally smart and funny. We go to parties. We throw parties.  We learn how to play canasta with  Gaia and her friends. He makes me laugh, but even better–he makes other people laugh, too. I admire his charisma.

He turns me on to Frank Zappa and I learn all the words to Joe’s Garage as we sing together at the top of our lungs while  gliding down the highway in his Pontiac Sunbird Convertible.

He loves kids, he says. He wants to make a family life with me and I want to share this love with them, too. We pick them up for visitation one Saturday and spend the morning at the zoo. Little Jimmy is still small and Thomas wears his carrier on his broad back. We take pictures of the animals and the kids. He is sweet and playful and I can really see the possibilities.

Money is a problem. We both quit the club. I stop dancing and go back to waitressing at a small restaurant while he takes a series of random jobs, none of which pan out for one reason or another. Nevertheless, we have a goal to work and save money for our future.

Over the phone, I tell my husband I am building a new life with Thomas and soon will bring the kids to live with us. A few days later I stop by the apartment to visit and find no one home, and no trace of the kids when I peek through the dusty windows. I discover most of their toys and clothes stored in an unlocked outbuilding around back.

Without warning, he has his parents come and take the children to stay with them up north– three states away. The pain sits like a stone in my gut.

“He knows…it’s the one thing!! The ONE thing, he could do to hurt me!”

I pace back and forth crying in front of the payphone, waiting for a return call from my mother. I call her at work and leave a message.

“That motherfucker! That piece of shit!” He pounds his fist against the hood of his car.

“But what can I do? Look at what I’ve done! No judge will listen to me. I will never get them back!!”

I sink to the curb sobbing. He crouches on the pavement in front of me.

“Listen, we will find an attorney…we will figure this out. Baby, listen to me…”

“But we don’t have any money!!”

Thomas consoles me through my rage and desperation, promising he will do anything…anything to help me fix this.

To be continued…