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They began dating. Except when the Giants were on the road, they spent two or three evenings per week together. Bonds introduced her to friends as "my girl."
When they were apart, Barry took to calling her at work every morning around eight, just to check in. It was a new kind of relationship for him, he told her. He said he usually dated strippers. Bonds also began giving her money: $5,000 to $10,000 in cash in an envelope, on an irregular basis. He said the money came from the sale of autographed memorabilia. Often Bonds would tell her how she should spend the money: a new big-screen TV or a bed for her apartment, for example. In 1996, he decided she should have breast augmentation surgery, and a check arrived from the Beverly Hills Sports Council, Bonds's agent, to pay for it.
Bell went to many of his games. Candlestick was too windy and cold to be fun, but the road trips were exciting. Bonds told her they had the perfect relationship. Bell had her own career, she didn't pressure him about money or getting married, she rarely complained, and she did what she was told. It came as a rude shock when Bonds announced one day in 1997 that Liz Watson, a girl he had met in Montreal, had arrived in the Bay Area and was staying at his condo. Bell didn't like it, but she didn't feel she was in a position to make an issue of it.
Then, in January 1998, Bonds told Bell that he and Liz were getting married. Bell burst into tears, but Bonds told her that nothing would change between them. He simply needed to get married or his ex-wife would get sole custody of his kids. Bell always said she didn't want to get married, he reminded her, while Liz was willing to stay home and raise his children. Besides, Bonds said, Liz was black, and it was important for him to marry a black woman. He said he had gotten "too much s---" from the media for marrying a white woman last time.
Bonds got married on Jan. 10 and dropped by Bell's apartment after he returned from his honeymoon. Against her better judgment, they resumed their affair, but nothing was the same. The way they related to each other, the way Bonds treated her, even the way Bonds looked, underwent radical changes. Bell saw less of the sweet, engaging side of Bonds's personality. He became irritable, controlling and verbally abusive.
Bell blamed steroids for the ugly changes. Although Bonds didn't tell her where he got the drugs, she assumed they were administered by Anderson, whom she called his "paid friend." Bell had gotten to know Anderson during spring training. Every year Bonds rented a big house in a gated community in Scottsdale, and Bell would come down for a week before Bonds's family arrived. Anderson stayed at the house, too. Bonds had become so rude that the only people willing to hang out with him were his employees, Bell says.
On most mornings in Scottsdale, before leaving to work out, Bonds would grab his "man bag,"which was full of what seemed to be medications, and summon Anderson. "I've got to go talk to him for a minute," Bonds would say, and then the two men would go into the master bedroom and close the door.
Bonds's physical changes during this time were consistent with steroid use. His hair fell out, and he began shaving his head. Perhaps it was her imagination, but the head itself seemed to be getting larger, and the plates of his skull bones stood out in bold relief. Bonds's back broke out in acne, and he would stand in front of the bathroom mirror and say, "Oh, my God, I don't know where this is coming from." Bonds also suffered sexual dysfunction, another common side effect of steroid use.
Bonds became more quick-tempered. When his anger at Bell flared now, he would grab her, stand close to her and whisper intimidating, hurtful things. He insisted on knowing where she was at every hour of the day or night. If he couldn't find her, he would become enraged, and he told her he would kill her if he found she was seeing someone else. Her social life evaporated. He called her so many times at work that her boss began to complain. And his rages became increasingly violent.
Bell used a telephone answering machine with a tape cassette; when one tape filled up, she'd toss it in a drawer and put in a new one. She began saving the voice mails after a few bleak occasions on which Bonds threatened to kill her, remarking that if she disappeared, no one would be able to prove he even knew her. The messages showed the trajectory of their nine years together.