When my muscle-man proposed, I thought my dreams had come true. But was my husband-to-be hiding a dark secret?
By Katiejayne Brown, 23, from St. Helen’s
When the burly doorman picked my friends and I out of the queue to go into The Imperial nightclub I was relieved to escape the icy January wind.
He marked our wrists with his invisible pen but I thought nothing of it when the UV light revealed a heart instead of the usual ‘I’.
At closing time, I was leaving the premises when the same doorman approached me.
He introduced himself as Christian.
‘Don’t go home yet,’ he said.
‘Stay here and have some after-hours drinks with me.’
I couldn’t help but notice his bulging muscles and cheeky grin.
‘OK,’ I replied. ‘Why not?’
When he sat down beside me I asked him why he had drawn the heart.
‘Because I like you,’ he replied.
We chatted together for the next couple of hours before Christian drove me home.
At 51, he was twice my age but there was something about the twinkle in his eye that I just couldn’t resist, and I gave him my phone number.
I woke up at 5am that same morning by my mobile beeping.
It was a text from Christian. It read: ‘You’re beautiful xxxxxx’.
Yuck. Put off by the sickly message, I dropped my phone and went back to sleep.
But the following night at The Imperial we struck up conversation again.
When he told me he’d had a heart condition and that he’d been fitted with a defibrillator, I couldn’t believe that someone who looked so strong could be so vulnerable.
I let my barriers down and we began seeing each other.
I thought he was perfect.
However my mum Sarah, 43, didn’t agree.
‘There’s something fishy about Christian,’ she told me, after meeting him. ‘He’s keeping something from you.’
I dismissed her opinion. She didn’t understand our connection. This was special.
Then four months later, in April 2011, as I was getting ready to take my son William, now six, to nursery, I felt my stomach churn.
I ran to the bathroom and emptied the contents of my belly down the toilet.
A pregnancy test confirmed my instincts… I was carrying Christian’s child.
I texted him a picture of the little white stick and he phoned me straight away.
‘I’m going to be a dad!’ Christian said excitedly. He sounded euphoric.
A few weeks later I was sitting on the sofa watching my soaps when Christian walked into the room and produced a stunning, sparkling ring.
‘Put this on your finger,’ he said, flashing that gorgeous grin of his.
‘It’s beautiful.’ I replied. I slid the ring on and kissed him passionately. This hunk was going to be my husband!
I excitedly started making plans for our wedding, I couldn’t wait for us to be a proper family.
But Christian’s behaviour began to change.
He refused to appear in any photos beside me and would often disappear for days at a time, after silly arguments he would create out of thin air.
We should have been celebrating the imminent arrival of our little one but instead, Christian didn’t turn up to any of the scans and was nowhere to be seen when our baby daughter, Kitty, was born in early 2012.
Heartbroken, I resigned myself to being a single mum but Christian reappeared on the scene, adamant he’d changed.
‘I’m so sorry,’ he begged. ‘I want to be the husband you deserve – and a proper dad to Kitty.’
As I watched him coo over our perfect little bundle, my heart thawed and I let him back into our lives.
We set a date for the wedding and when the big day arrived in November 2012 I stepped into my beautiful fishtail wedding dress and headed to the registry office with my best friend, Cath and the kids.
Mum disapproved and although she’d made my wedding dress she didn’t come to the intimate ceremony we’d planned.
Not long now, I thought, my heart pounding in my chest as the cab pulled up at the registry office. I couldn’t wait to finally become Christian’s wife… but my groom-to-be was nowhere to be seen.
‘I thought it was traditional for the bride to be late, not the groom!’ I forced a smile, trying to joke about the situation.
But as the minutes ticked by, a lump formed in my throat as I began to think the unthinkable: I’d been jilted at the altar.
None of our guests, including Christian’s best man, knew where he was. And then panic set in as it hit me.
Christian suffered with cardiomyopathy, a heart condition.
What if he’d been trying to get to the wedding but had fallen ill? He could be lying hurt somewhere or worse, dying.
Frantic, I phoned round all the hospitals in the area in a desperate search for him.
Every call turned up no answers and when I rang Christian’s mobile, all I could hear was an international dialling tone.
Where was my groom?
An hour-and-a-half later, I gave up.
In shock and with the kids moaning in the back, we drove back to my empty house – alone.
I carefully removed my dress, took off my tiara and placed them safely back in the cupboard.
Crestfallen, I ran myself a bath, lowered myself into the warm water and let the floodgates open.
I was devastated.
It was a whole five days before Christian finally turned up.
I was sitting at the dining table teaching William how to write when the front door opened.
There was my husband-not-to-be – sporting a suspicious tan.
‘I’m so sorry,’ he pleaded. ‘I took seriously ill.’
I was furious. ‘I know you’re lying!’ I spat, as I told him how I’d rung all the hospitals. And besides, how did he explain the international dialling tone on his phone and his sun-kissed glow?
‘Honestly,’ he insisted. ‘I was ill – look!’
Christian produced photos of himself wired up to hospital machines then and made me feel bad for getting angry when he’d become sick.
But it just didn’t stack up. He’d jilted me at the altar. Whatever had happened, surely Christian could have got a message to me somehow?
But when he promised me that we’d re-arrange a date for our wedding, I eventually backed down. As the father of my child, I desperately wanted to make it work. I’d pushed my mum away away and Christian was my crutch.
Then in July 2013 my friend Cath came over to visit.
‘You look awful!’ She said. ‘You’ve changed – and not in a good way.’
I broke down. ‘I know.’ I had to admit, the stress of the wedding that never was had really got to me.
‘Get your glad rags on,’ she demanded. ‘We’re going to the pub.’
One drink and a good gossip later, I returned home. I loved Christian, but it felt good to offload to my best mate.
My phone rang. It was Christian.
‘Where have you been?’ He growled.
‘I went out for one drink,’ I reasoned.
‘You’re cheating on me you heartless cow!’ he shouted, before hanging up on me.
Around 15 minutes later, Christian appeared at the door. He had a crazed look on his face and began yelling at me, edging closer and closer.
I ran for the back door, locking myself in the garden.
Once I heard the front door slam shut I let myself in again and tip-toed my way upstairs in case Christian was lurking behind a corner.
I peered out of my bedroom window and could see that he was parked up the road, waiting.
When he finally drove off I immediately called my mum.
‘If you don’t come to the police station with me right now I won’t speak to you again,’ she said, firmly.
I knew this time I had to listen to her.
After filing my complaint she took me back to her house, where the CID appeared later.
‘We have some really alarming news for you,’ began the officer. ‘You better sit down.’
I took a deep breath.
‘His name isn’t Christian, it’s James Hughes… and he’s married.’
I winced. Her words hit like heavy punches.
She continued: ‘His wife and kids have just picked him up from the station.’
I felt like such a fool. I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with Christian, we had a child together – but it turned out I didn’t know him at all.
Christian – or James – continued to deny it, insisting he wasn’t married and that he wanted to be with me, but I’d seen and heard enough. It was over – for good.
I’m still reeling from being jilted on my wedding day by a groom with an altar-ego but I’m glad to finally be rid of that rat. I only wish I’d trapped him sooner.
Christian says: “I had an affair with her but I didn’t tell her anything what was going on. One thing led to another and then… I’d rather just forget it all to be honest with you.”
When asked why he went to the trouble of arranging a wedding when he was already married, he said: “One thing led to another.”
When we asked him if he ever intended to marry Katiejayne, he said: “Obviously not but I wanted to make her happy. Can’t really help it. It’s one of those things. You just get led into things and that’s it isn’t it.
When asked how he felt on the day, he said: “Awkward.”
When asked if he was still married, he said: “Yeah, well sort of.”
When asked if his wife was aware of his affair with Katiejayne he said: “Yes”