Nicole Brown and O.J. Simpson met in June 1977, when she was waitressing at a nightclub called the Daisy.
He was nearing the end of his pro-ball career. He was about to turn thirty. He was about to celebrate his tenth wedding anniversary with a woman who was then carrying their third child. And he apparently decided the future would be brighter with an eighteen-year-old white girl.
Nick, as she was known, was energetic, if lacking in direction.
She had tried modeling without success and had worked as a salesgirl in a boutique for two weeks but quit without making a single sale.
O.J. took as much pride in his ownership of her as he did in his vintage Rolls Silver Cloud.
He chose her clothing, dictated how she should wear her hair, and insisted that she travel with him during his last year with the Bills.
Nicole Brown learned early on that she had to walk on eggshells to avoid offending O.J. Simpson. "I've always told O.J. what he wants to hear," she would later say in her divorce affidavit.
When she failed to anticipate his mood properly, he would snap. He would throw her out, and she would run home to her parents in Orange County.
Days or hours later, he would call and woo her back.
Nicole would show up in public with black eyes masked by heavy make-up. She would sometimes be indisposed for days. O.J. would attribute these episodes to "cramps."
O.J.'s brutality did not enter the public record until the famous New Year's Eve brawl of 1989.
The marriage continued its downward spiral, and drugs hastened its descent. O.J. had reportedly turned Nicole on to cocaine early in their courtship.
One recovering alcoholic plugged into West L.A.'s AA circuit says members worried about the couple's sobriety.
"He was doing alcohol and coke," she says, "and Nicole was doing cocaine and tequila. That makes for one sassy motherfucker-type woman."
The Simpsons would have public screaming matches.
One night at New York's Sign of the Dove, O.J. reportedly followed his wife out of the restaurant while shouting, "Whore!"
That their children could be shielded from this ugliness is hard to imagine.
In press photos, they come across as merry little sprites. The couple's divorce papers show that Nicole had a counselor of some kind come to the house and observe Sydney.
Nicole moved out of the Rockingham estate and filed for divorce in late February 1992.
In March or April, she made her first visit to Dr. Susan Forward, a feminist therapist and author of Men Who Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them.
Forward recalls that when Nicole came in to see her, she was "haggard and trembling."
O.J., she said, had controlled every aspect of her life. He was crazy with suspicion that she had lovers, and he would hide in the bushes outside her new address to spy on her.
Forward says she urged Nicole to cut off all contact with O.J.
Theresa Carpenter Esquire Magazine (November 1994)