That summer, Eric returned from one of his business trips and suggested they “take a break to reflect on the relationship.” He was going to go to Sardinia, in Spain. Unbeknownst to him, she followed, convinced he was on his $35-million sailboat with another woman. Two fruitless weeks of searching later, she left for Berlin, where she knew he was attending a premiere. His testimony confirms that she tracked down his hotel and knocked on his door. “I want to see if you are really alone, reflecting on our relationship,” she said. He wouldn’t let her in, but through the slit, she could see suitcases, not his suitcases. When he let her in, there was a beautiful woman with him, a black model she thought she recognized. She wanted to attack her, but he held her back. As the model left, Lola, in hysterics, stood by the window. “If I jump from here I’ll die and it will be a scandal for you,” she said. “Don’t do that,” she recalls him saying, “It’s stupid. That’s not how life works. Life goes on.”
When he got home, he said he was sick of the drama. He wanted her to go back to Brazil. She refused. “You changed my life, and now you want to send me back home,” Lola told him. Finally, he gave up. “You can stay in my apartment,” he said. “When I’m here I don’t want to sleep in the same room as you.” But things were confusing—they’d fight, then sleep together. Lola testified that she briefly found solace in the arms of an ex-football player who worked at one of the clubs Eric owned, and that they were together long enough for her to get pregnant. She called Eric to tell him. “Maybe it’s you with the infertility problem,” she said.
She considered an abortion but couldn’t go through with it. She made a suicide attempt—not her first, she says. She had the abortion, and told Eric afterwards, when he found her in his bed, recovering. She saw him cry for the first time ever. “I’m sorry about what’s happened,” he said, lying in her arms. “I didn’t want things to happen like this.”
Things didn’t get better, Lola recalls, sitting in the fourth-floor apartment in Old Montreal that’s her home today. It’s within walking distance from the courthouse where she fought to be considered Eric’s ex-wife, a nice place, all wood beams and exposed brick, but temporary. This spring she is meant to move into a $2.5-million house in Outremont—as it happens, a short jaunt from Eric’s Montreal abode. Shortly after that abortion, she returned to Brazil, but met Eric in the Bahamas over New Year’s. She’d decided to move to London to pursue her modelling career. “I was very happy living alone. I was working a lot, certain agents said I could compete against Naomi Campbell,” she says. But he begged her to come to Montreal for Valentine’s Day. He was very good at insisting. Their first child was conceived on Feb. 14, 1996: a beautiful baby girl, born that fall.
Eric was ecstatic but stubbornly refused to marry her. “I wanted to protect [my business] and there were professional reasons why I didn’t want to get married,” he would say later in court. “I respect people who get married, but it’s not my cup of tea.” Instead, he focused his energy on moving into his new house, a palatial spread on the outskirts of Montreal. He was a good father, though he travelled a lot and the relationship was as unstable as ever. “I think it would be better if we separated,” he said to her in the spring of 1998. They went into mediation, where she says the mediator practically forced her to sign a paper declaring their separation. She was even more confused. Separation? She had thought it was mediation to help them stay together. Then, a whirlwind: in the space of a few months, she became pregnant, she miscarried, her father died, and she became pregnant yet again.
He stopped mediation, but wasn’t even on the same continent when their son was born. She says he was partying; he says it was business. At any rate, Lola began to pull away. He saw it, she says, and didn’t see why they should split up. He convinced her to at least stay until the year’s end. That year was 1999. “Why don’t we wait to see if the world ends,” he joked. “If it continues, so should we.”
She joined him for his New Year’s party. “What can I do to make you happy?” he asked when he saw her mood. “You could start by marrying me, and then we’ll see,” she replied. Lola says he relented. “If a piece of paper is so important to you then, okay, we’ll do it.” As Eric explained in his testimony, he wrapped a piece of plastic around her finger as an engagement ring and, just before the stroke of midnight, said he was going to marry Lola. Their marriage would be a huge show on April Fool’s Day. “I’ll believe it when I see it,” Eric’s mother said. Lola maintains the marriage proposal was real; Eric said it was one of his jokes, like the time he mooned the bouncer in Brazil. “I probably should have thought twice about joking about this,” Eric later said in court.
In any case, there was no marriage, only a third child, born in Brazil, where Lola wanted to be. Less than two months later Eric said he wanted to break off the relationship for good. Photos had surfaced online of him with another woman on his sailboat, a dancer from New York City. “I already had . . . other realities in my life,” Eric said in his testimony. Things sputtered on for a few more months until Lola moved out in February 2002. They have been in and out of court ever since.
Lola is tall and skinny, her hair as dark as on the day Eric met her, but without the abundance of curls. With her mouth full of braces, she doesn’t look anywhere near her 34 years. Her lifestyle, she realizes, is somewhat absurd. In the summer of 2006, she was tooling around in her ex-boyfriend Herbert Black’s Porsche GT, a half-million-dollar coupe, when the cops pulled her over, if only to drool over the set of wheels. There are only a handful of these in Quebec, one said. The only one he knew of belonged to a certain billionaire. “He’s my ex,” she replied.