I spent a long time thinking about the situation that was arising. I thought back to when the glass had shattered for me and how I had realised how dangerous Jodie had been all along. When you’re an outsider, it can be glaringly obvious watching a manipulator at work. Yet you can be powerless to help the victim.
I decided to follow my instincts and raised some of my suspicions with Pete.
Annie: Listen, it’s just you and Mikey in the house, right? She knows about you and Abi, she’s raging about it. She’s got you in a position where you can’t possibly do anything physical, not even in self defence, else the police would be straight round. I’m concerned. What is she planning?
I didn’t voice my true fears, but God, I wish I had. Truth be told, I was worried that she was planning on coming back that night, murdering my brother and then beating herself up and making out it was self-defence. Perhaps it sounds extreme, but this was a narcissistic, sociopathic control freak who had just lost control of the pet she had kept for almost 20 years. Pete was the key to her wealth, to her lazy, luxurious lifestyle. He had worshipped the ground she walked on and now she was losing control. It didn’t matter that she was having an affair – her hypocrisy meant nothing – because to her he was a possession.
I knew that she was the kind of person to think that if she couldn’t have him then no one could, and this concerned me greatly. Yet I knew Pete wasn’t taking it seriously enough, and there was nothing I could do to convince him that this situation had a lot more potential danger than he thought. I sat and stewed on it for a while.
Not long later, I had another message come through from Pete.
Pete: She’s just messaged Abi.
He sent me a screenshot of the message.
Go near my husband again you dirty fucking whore and I’ll make sure EVERYONE knows what a home wrecking slapper you are. Oh and he tried to fuck me yesterday after he had fucked you, you couldn’t even get that right could you?
Was this simply a manipulative text, aimed to make Abi feel that she was the one doing something wrong? To make her fear that people would turn against her? I knew that torturous game of hers well, she’d put me through it to me hundreds of times. Was she attempting to make Ali feel inferior? Or was it something more sinister? I wondered if my imagination was running a little wild, but this felt really dodgy. First the slap and the police report, then her attempts to make the kids think he had attacked her, now messaging his new girlfriend and writing as though they were still in an active marriage and he was simply having an affair. In actual fact, Pete had ended their marriage. The more the evening went on, the more I started to feel convinced she was going to frame him as attacking her then hurt him ‘in self defence’.
Then Pete asked me to speak to Abi, to explain what sort of a liar Jodie was. I replied quite simply:
Because I saw an opportunity.
Pete: Please Annie. She thinks Jodie is telling the truth! I’m going to lose Abi because of her! I hate her!
Annie: Listen. I will speak to Abi. I’ll tell her what Jodie is like. But not until you leave that house with Mikey. I know he won’t cope well with leaving and I’m sorry about that. But if this is important enough to you then you’ll have to go before I speak to Abi.
He didn’t reply for a few moments. It was obvious that he was weighing up his options.
Pete: I think you’re overreacting, right? I know it’s only because you care. But I don’t think I need to leave.
Annie: Then I don’t think I need to speak to Abi.
I felt sadistic. I had the power to make this right for him, but I was withholding it. I was dangling his happy future in front of him, but I had no choice.
Pete: What do you want me to do?
I sighed in relief, but at the same time I wondered if I was causing a big fuss over nothing. Still, I pressed on.
Annie: Get some stuff, get Mikey, leave the doors open like you’re in. Then go back to the hotel you’ve been staying in. Before you go, though, stick your laptop in your room and set up the webcam to stream to me. Stick something in your bed to look like you are sleeping in it. If she does anything then we can record it and we’ve got evidence. Ok? If not, we’ll put it down to my paranoia and move on. But I need you to do this.
He did what I asked and half hour later I had a live feed from his room to my laptop. When he confirmed that he had arrived at the hotel, I rang Abi and chatted to her for a while. I think I eased her mind a little but I found it hard not to tell her to run. Because Jodie was toxic and Abi was now the enemy. I pushed that aside though, telling myself I would deal with it in the future.
I made a full pot of coffee and settled down for the night in front of the live feed. My other half was already in bed so I hadn’t told him my plan, but I knew he would support it. I read my kindle to pass the time, glancing at the screen every few minutes. It was all very uneventful and I started to feel silly.
Pete had left the bedroom light off but the hallway light on, so I was able to make out most of the bedroom. I could see the lump in the bed that he had made from pillows under the quilt in order to resemble his sleeping form. It was realistic enough.
The hours went by and I was yawning and rubbing my eyes. When I glanced up I was sure I saw a shadow near the bed, flitting across the bottom of it. My heart started to hammer in my chest but the room was empty. Maybe I had just imagined it?
Then I saw something long and pale emerging from underneath the bed slowly and methodically. I had something glinting at the end of it as it extended up towards the side where ‘Pete’ lay. At first I couldn’t make out what it was so I stared at the screen, my breath coming out in short rasps, the fear in my chest crushing my lungs. With sudden clarity I realised it was an arm, with a hand grasped around something shiny that could only be a knife.
I leapt out of my seat, spilling coffee everywhere. In my panic I didn’t think to hit record. But I watched with horror as Jodie slowly slid out from under the bed. She must have slipped in when I wasn’t looking, then crept underneath for the element of surprise. I saw the pale skin of her arms and legs, the darkened shape of her curvy hips where her clothes covered her. She had her back to the camera. But it was her, I was sure. Her long, straight, ebony black hair made her look like a demonic creature crawling up from hell. I watched as she raised the knife high above her slowly then hurled it down furiously over and over and over again, stabbing into nothing but pillows and blankets.
It took her maybe 5 seconds to realise it wasn’t Pete but those 5 seconds felt like a lifetime to me. I felt almost as terrified as I would have if I was watching her actually attack him, rather than a mass of bedding. I watched her slow down, her body heaving with the exertion of her attack. Her hands waved about frantically on the bed and she dropped the knife to the floor when she realised it wasn’t actually Pete. Then she turned and squatted to the ground, grabbed the knife and crawled quickly back out of the bedroom door. As the hallway light flashed onto her face I could see that it was contorted with rage. Then she was gone.
My hands were shaking and my chest tightened even more as my pulse raced. Was I having a heart attack? No. It was the beginning of a panic attack, so I closed my eyes for a moment. I was stronger than this now. I would stay calm.
I opened my eyes ready to act and I realised with dismay that I hadn’t recorded her murderous attack. I shook it off though, because with evidence or without itI knew now what she was capable of. I had to keep Pete away from her.
I ran upstairs and woke my other half urgently. I garbled out what had happened and told him I was making the 3 hour drive to the hotel that I knew Pete was staying in. I told him to call the police and tell them what was going on and while he was calling after me that he didn’t understand what was happening, I ran out of our home. Even if he did manage to explain what was going on to the police I knew that they wouldn’t actually do anything. That didn’t matter, though. I could get to Pete and stay by his side until I had convinced him of how dangerous she was. We could figure out what to do together.
I fired off a message to Pete telling him what had happened but I suspected he was asleep. I ended it by saying I would be with him in a few hours, then I started the drive.