Waking in a daze, I felt warm blood trickle down my forehead.
Had I banged my head on the bed frame? I wondered, staring at the empty space beside me where my partner, Trish, should have been sleeping.
"Trish," I croaked, lurching backwards so hard my head hit the wall and I lost consciousness.
It was the early hours of the morning and we'd spent a romantic night anchored on the waters of Queensland's Moreton Bay because Trish's boat had been experiencing engine troubles.
I'd offered to take the jet ski back to Moreton Island to get help.
"It's Easter, nobody will be working," Trish reasoned, delving into her tool box.
"If I can't fix it, we'll spend the night here and sort it out tomorrow."
Later, we watched the sun go down over a drink before heading to bed.
Only now, Trish was nowhere to be seen.
Staggering upstairs, I found her groaning on the deck.
As I wobbled towards her, I saw what looked like a discarded sawn-off rifle on the floor.
"We've been attacked by pirates," she whispered.
I grabbed the radio and called the coastguard.
I was barely conscious by the time they reached us.
"There's no sign of a gun," I overheard them say, as they rushed us to a doctor.
"That's gunpowder residue," the doctor observed, studying the wound on my forehead.
"You've been shot in the head."
But I remembered nothing of the attack.
I underwent emergency surgery to remove lead bullet fragments from my skull, while Trish repeated her story to police.
Moreton Bay wasn't exactly brimming with pirates and with no sign of the rifle and not a scratch on Trish, they found her story suss.
Within days she was the prime suspect in what police suspected was a bungled murder attempt.
But they needed a motive.
"Is that your signature?" they asked me, producing five separate life insurance policies totalling more than $270,000.
"I've never seen them before," I choked, inspecting the forged signature that would make Trish the sole beneficiary if anything happened to me.
I retreated into denial.
"No way," I said.
"Trish loves me… she'd never do anything to hurt me."
But with an investigation still underway, I was warned not to go home with Trish and reluctantly agreed to stay at my mother's.
When I'd first met Trish, I had a successful insurance brokerage and had found the ambitious insurance agent so charming I'd agreed to be her mentor.
She called me when her partner, Carel Gottgens, 51, dumped her for another woman and moved to Thailand.
"Can I stay with you?" Trish sobbed the night he left.
I'd provided a shoulder to cry on, impressed by her strength when she left for work the following day.
The next week, I'd dropped by to check on her and found workmen pouring a concrete patio in her backyard.
She was obviously moving on, I thought.
We later became lovers and moved in together.
Life was bliss.
Even when police matched wood shavings from Trish's work bench to the barrel of a sawn-off shotgun our neighbour had fished out of the nearby river, I didn't want to believe it.
It was irrefutable evidence that her crime was premeditated and that Trish had shortened the rifle before shooting me in the head while I slept.
"It's a miracle you survived to tell the tale," the police said later.
I still doubted the police and returned to work.
"Thought you'd like this," said Trish, bringing me a cup of coffee.
"That tastes really bitter," I said spitting it out.
A few weeks later she handed me an egg and bacon roll, which she watched me devour.
"I don't feel so good," I said half an hour later, crawling into my car.
I slept for four hours straight.
"You have to see the doctor," a friend urged.
Suspicious, my GP immediately ordered blood tests which confirmed that the police had been right in suspecting Trish all along: the coffee and food had been poisoned.
Trish was finally arrested and charged with attempted murder and multiple counts of fraud and forgery.
At the Queensland Supreme Court she denied everything, bizarrely accusing me of being in on the shooting to defraud the insurance companies out of thousands.
Fortunately, the jury didn't swallow her story and she was jailed for 12 years for trying to murder me.
But the publicity surrounding the trial sparked a new investigation after Carel Gottgens' family contacted police saying they had not heard from their father since he'd left Trish four years earlier.
Carel had bought a plane ticket to Thailand, but he'd failed to board his flight and was last seen when his boss dropped him off at his home a few days before.
What if I wasn't Trish's only victim…
Police discovered Carel's bank account had been activated since his disappearance and that Trish had forged his signature, transferring all his assets into her name.
She was charged with murder after a forensic examination found Carel's blood in the bedroom I'd later shared with her.
Although his body was never found, Patricia Margaret Byers was found guilty of Carel's murder and jailed for life.
If I hadn't survived, Trish could have committed two perfect crimes and got away with it.
But with Trish safely behind bars, I slowly began to rebuild my life.
I even met my soul mate, Irene, whose kindness taught me how to live and love again.
She was a great help to me when I discovered Trish had transferred to a prison in South Australia.
I was convinced her plan was to dodge Queensland's no-body-no-parole law, which prevents the early release of convicted killers who refuse to divulge the whereabouts of their victims.
My hunch was confirmed when the same law came into effect in SA.
Within the year, Trish confessed to Carel's murder.
"She's not sorry – she's as dangerous as ever," I told Irene.
Now 25 years after my lucky escape, I am alone again and grieving the death of Irene, who passed away from sepsis.
But our short years together were the best of my life.
Because of Australia's Black Widow, Carel never had the chance to say goodbye and I still believe his body lies under the patio of his former home.
Now, bracing myself for Trish's fifth bid for freedom, I live in fear.
I've written to the authorities and will keep fighting to make sure she stays behind bars, where she belongs.