The proof was in his brekkie boxes
Little squares of sugar-coated cereal bobbed on a sea of semi-skimmed. Hardly the stuff of
Masterchef… But I couldn’t have been any hungrier for the bloke holding the box.
‘Sure you don’t want any?’ Ross Murphy grinned, giving the packet of his beloved Golden Grahams a shake.
I shook my head. A bowl of cereal in his parents’ kitchen wasn’t exactly my idea of a slap-up romantic dinner.
But Ross was obsessed with the stuff, gorging it down for brekkie, lunch and dinner.
It was the only bit of him I didn’t get. The rest of him, I was crazy for.
I’d first spotted Ross back in 2010. I was new at a club called The Exchange in my home town of Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, learning the ropes on the bar. He was the resident DJ, all club classics and Jagger swagger.
Despite being no great shakes in the looks department, you’d never see him without a flock of tanked-up girls, vying for tunes and a bit of his time. So, when he’d turned his attentions to me, I’d practically run a marathon in the other direction.
I was just 18 and only working the bar to help pay my way through studying beauty therapy, anatomy and physiology at college. Then it’d be on to the big wide world. My own salon, maybe.
Some cocky DJ just wasn’t my type.
But Ross was persistent. He flirted, made jokes, turned on the charm…
Then, after six months, he said something that proved he was more than just a broken record.
‘I’ve just signed up to a teachertraining course,’ he casually mentioned as I cleared the empties. ‘Really?’ I asked. Turned out he loved being a DJ, but had bigger dreams than his little booth would allow.
Impressed, I let Ross take me out on a date.
‘He’ll be saving for his course,’ I realised when he whisked me to a gastropub and only shelled out on drinks and a side dish each.
As we chatted, I could just see Ross as a teacher, shaping young minds, imparting wisdom…
Imagine: I’d come home from my salon and we’d talk about our days in a posh semi-detached somewhere…
Ross was a proper gentleman and didn’t even push me for a kiss at the end of the night. Instead, we took it slow.
I’d switch shifts just so me and Ross could shut up the bar together at 3am. Where once Ross had been a ladies’ man, the only thing he was playing now was tunes. I’d watch him turn girls away in their droves.
Convinced he was fully committed, after about three months, I let Ross take me to a boutique hotel. Slipping under the sheets, we set about making our own sweet music… Not that he quite hit the high note.
‘Could have been better… ’ I thought, a bit deflated afterwards. There had been such a build-up!
Still, what Ross lacked in skill, he certainly made up for in eagerness.
He was still living with his elderly parents but it didn’t dampen his passions, we’d romp in his childhood bedroom. Then he’d snarf a big bowl of cereal to give him the energy to go again.
‘Did you hear back from that course?’ I asked him one night.
‘Oh, shouldn’t be long… ’ he muttered.
Something about the way he said it made me worry. Kind of shifty. Vague…
A few days on, I asked Ross again. We’d now been together five months – a long time to be waiting around on course dates.
I watched the colour drain from his cheeks.
‘I never signed up,’ he admitted. ‘I only said that so you wouldn’t think I was a loser.’
His lie stung like a slap in the face.
But this was my first proper relationship.
Maybe it was… sweet? A little white lie just to win me over.
I wrapped my arms round him.
‘It’s OK,’ I said, snuggling up.
After that, with no secrets, we got even closer.
By the time we’d been together a year, I knew we were serious, so I took Ross to meet my parents.
He turned on his famous charm.
After spending the night at mine – in separate rooms at my dad’s insistence – I left Ross making lasagne with my mum while I headed off to work.
Later, on a break, I realised I had a Facebook message from someone I didn’t know.
Your boyfriend has been a dog. Use this username and password
and check out the messages, it read. For a minute or so, I ignored it. Not my Ross!
But I had to know…
I started typing into my phone. Soon, I was staring at a screen full of messages from Ross.
It was all there in his own cruel words…
You can’t message me, I’m with my b**ch of a girlfriend… Yesterday was great in the car… Thanks for dropping me home after that amazing session.
I grabbed my bag and ran home. There, rushing straight past Ross, I grabbed my laptop.
I couldn’t believe I’d let him into my house; into my bed…
Logging into the account, I brought up the messages.
‘What is it, babe?’ Ross asked. ‘This is what,’ I spat, throwing the laptop at him. ‘Want to explain before I throw you out?’ Ross blanched. Like a little lost puppy, his eyes widened, mouth flapped. Without waiting for more lies, I chucked him – and all his stuff – out of my life for good. I’d been so stupid thinking a smarmy DJ would ever change his one-track mind. And even stupider still… Because, a month on, just as I was starting to gather the scraps of my dignity, I was staring at a little plastic stick.
I’d missed a period. We hadn’t been careful enough, and here I was, pregnant to a love rat… What was I supposed to do now? I messaged Ross.
he replied. Scared and alone, I agreed. As I walked into the pub, I spotted a mass of flowers coming towards me.
Behind the blooms, I could hear Ross snivelling.
He dropped to my feet a sheaf of completed job applications, pressies, photos of us and flowers fluttering to the ground.
‘I’ve changed,’ he pleaded. Mortified, I pulled him upright. I was tired of the drama. But I wanted this baby.
Maybe, just maybe, he had changed? Maybe, for our baby, we could make it work?
We got back together. A few weeks on, I was staying over at his.
And I was tossing and turning in my sleep, haunted by hormonal fever dreams. There was Ross in the kitchen…
In his hand was his phone and… another phone…
I saw it clear as day! The shock had me jumping awake, rousing Ross.
‘You’ve got two phones!’ I shrieked.
‘Shut up,’ he groaned. ‘This baby has sent you mad.’
I sat there in my nightie as he rolled over and started snoring again.
Maybe it was irrational but it felt like a premonition. I knew what
I’d seen in my dream!
So, climbing out of bed, I went down to the kitchen and started emptying the cupboards.
‘Just this last one then you’ll know you’re going nuts,’ I thought to myself, opening the cereal cupboard.
Rows of Ross’s beloved brekkies filled the shelves.
I pulled them out one by one. Then, reaching up right to the back of the shelf, I felt nothing but a few dust bunnies…
Until my fingers brushed something cold…
Pulling it out, I gasped. It was a small, cheap phone.
Exactly the same as I’d seen in my dream!
Switching it on, I felt my heart pound in my chest.
The screen went berserk, lighting up with countless messages from random women.
Flirtations, compliments, dirty-talking filth…
Bursting into tears, I was still watching the screen when Ross burst in.
‘It’s an old phone, they’re old messages,’ he gabbled.
But I’d seen enough. ‘Some of the messages are from today,’ I responded through sobs.
Running past him, I sat in the living room for the next four hours until 7am, then called a friend to come to get me.
After that, I put Ross firmly in my past. Instead, I focused on my baby – my future.
But, however hard I tried, I couldn’t stop the stress impacting my pregnancy.
My blood pressure soared and, when I was just seven months pregnant, I had to be induced.
On 18 August 2013, baby Isabella was born as her dad looked on. Despite how I felt about him, I wanted my daughter to know that he’d seen her into the world. But…
‘I’ll take her,’ I firmly told the midwife, scooping my baby into my arms.
Amazingly, despite her early arrival, Isabella weighed
5lb 9oz, and she has thrived. I was never tempted for a moment to take her daddy back.
Ross has Isabella, now four, every other weekend, and we’re civil for her sake. But I’ll never forget his betrayal – or the dream that alerted me to it.
Was it a premonition? Or my instincts? Perhaps a bit of both.
When it came to love, I’d fallen for a cereal offender.
It was time to wake up and smell the coffee… then kick that loser to the kerb!
Sophie Mcaleer, 25, Hemel Hempstead , Herts
Ross, 32, says, ‘ The only thing you’re going to include is Sophie [being like] poor me, and how I cheated on her – once! I am not going into any details because it’s no one’s business.’
I was haunted by hormonal dreams
Ross knew how to turn on the charm My precious bundle was born two months early
Ross thought I was a Crunchy Nut – but I gave him a Frosties reception and said my Cheerios! Me and my girl, Isabella