Solid match! Getting Spearing on the goals chart is always fun. And a great performance by Beckford.
I had caught a bit of chill on the touchline in the rain, and Kim noticed as we got into my car to head home.
“Poor thing, you’re done in,” she said. “Let’s get you into a hot shower and some hot soup into your belly, you’ll catch your death of cold!”
I thought it was sweet, but we had lots to talk about and getting into my comfies was not high on my list of priorities before the conversation happened.
Yet her wishes won out. We arrived at home and she headed to the bath to start some hot water for me while I prepared to warm up.
“Sexy man,” she said with a giggle as I stepped into the hot shower, letting the water cascade over me with an audible sigh of relief. I really had caught a chill and was glad to be getting some of it steamed out of me despite more pressing relationship concerns waiting for me when I was done.
She leaned against the bathroom sink as I let the heat and steam flow over me, and when I was done she simply handed me a towel over the top of the shower surround.
“So tell me, sweetheart,” I began, and she put a finger to my lips.
“You want to know what happened to me,” she said. “Get comfortable, go sit in the warm sitting room and I’ll tell you while I make dinner.”
And she did.
His name was Peter Beck, and he was from Salford. They had started dating after she finished university and things had gone well for a couple of years, until he had asked Kim to marry. She said yes, and they were preparing for their big day until an old flame tried one last time to win Peter’s heart.
There was enough in it to make Kim upset – showing a facet of her personality I had already seen on more than one occasion – and their relationship deteriorated. After a month or so, Kim told Peter she couldn’t marry him.
That was when things got bad. He moved out of their flat as Kim took her new job with Bolton Wanderers FC, and she did her best not to let her failed relationship affect her job.
Yet, two weeks after she started, there was Peter, coming to the club offices to ask for forgiveness with alcohol on his breath. Leaving aside the stiff penalties for drink driving to get there in the first place, he was acting like a damned fool and she told him in no uncertain terms that he should leave.
He did. But he didn’t stay away.
Like a bad penny, he kept coming back. He would find her leaving work, having been banned from the property after his first transgression. He would find her in restaurants. He would find her online. It was a classic case of stalking, and she went to the police to try to find some relief.
Sadly, though, she didn’t do it quickly enough. On the night of July 9, 2004, Kim was returning from the cinema when he found her outside her apartment. He took her into woods across the street and assaulted her at knifepoint.
There she remained for the whole night, devastated and injured, until a neighbor heard her weeping the next morning and made the shocking discovery.
Charges were of course filed, and were not the slightest bit difficult to prove. It came out at trial that Beck claimed a broken heart as the reason for his complete loss of emotional control. Of course, that didn’t excuse his crime, and off he went to HMP Whitemoor, where he’ll stay for at least the next twenty years after being found guilty of rape and attempted murder.
But that didn’t provide full closure for Kim. Hers became something of a cause célèbre among advocates for stronger anti-stalking laws, and even for Kim herself.
I felt badly – though her case drew regional and even national attention, I hadn’t heard of it and now I was living with the woman. I felt like I had been so insulated in my career as a footballer I hadn’t taken the time to learn about things which were truly important.
But, the conversation wasn’t about me, it was about her. So I listened, and listened, and listened some more. It was nearly six o’clock before I asked a question.
“What is the best thing I can to do help you?” I asked.
“Well, as you may have noticed by now, I’m a bit skittish about a few things,” she said, her cheeks flushing red as she spoke. “All I ask is that you be trustworthy and be patient.”
The sun was setting beyond our apartment’s bay window, and she came to me, snuggling close in my overstuffed and oversized easy chair.
“I know that right now the game is your life and you’re doing the very best you can to fit me in right alongside Blake,” she said. I smoothed a lock of her curly blonde hair away from her cheek as she leaned her head against my shoulder.
“That’s actually all right with me, because I haven’t had a relationship like this in a long while and I need time to adjust. Just don’t ever forget that no matter what happens and no matter what I might say at a given moment, I love you. Okay?”
That seemed like a fairly big ask, but the woman in my arms seemed well worth that kind of sacrifice. She had earned the best treatment I could give her.
“I’ll do the very best I can,” I promised.
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