It was shortly after 2.43pm on May 6, 2004 that Tanya Levin knew she had no choice but to escape from Parramatta Jail.
She had only been there a few months and was a drug and alcohol counsellor, not an inmate, but she knew it was time to leave.
Her decision followed a brief conversation with an armed robber during which it became clear that they were falling in love.
"I had steered my ship off course," Levin writes in her new book, Crimwife.
"My heart was racing as I sat at my desk, beating out a string of second thoughts: What have I done? What have I done? What have I done? What have I done?"
What she had done was effectively throw away her career in the prison service - she later resigned with no blemish to her record - and started a five-year career as a crimwife.
Levin may be familiar as the woman who blew the lid on Hillsong Church in her first book, People in Glass Houses, published in 2007.
Born in South Africa to a Jewish mother and a father who was a former Anglican altar boy, the family came to Australia when Levin was five and attended Pentecostal church after conversion by American evangelist Billy Graham.
Levin carries with her a mix of nations and of religion but underscores that with the quintessential Jewish quality of wrestling with God, wrestling with ideas, constant questioning and vocal self doubt.
In person, she's never dull but neither is she scripted.
So, when we meet at the kiosk on Thirroul Beach near her home, she often needs reining in and back to the topic as her mind follows one branch line or another.
This quality as a dissenter makes her an ideal witness to the experience of loving a bad man - a man so bad that he's been locked away for more than half of his adult life, a man on the wrong side of the law.
For a while, she stayed in Sydney and visited her lover - whom she calls "Jimmy" - three times a week, for sessions that lasted no more than 90 minutes and where physical contact was more limited than as a teenager in a church disco.
"On visits, you are allowed to hold hands and some embraces but if the visit is determined to be too sexual it will be terminated and you have to leave," Levin said.
"Kissing is a main way that people transport drugs so the guards don't encourage it."
It's not such a bad thing going out with a jailbird, at least you know where he is and what he's doing.
"You are not expected to do a whole lot more," Levin says.
"There are no family barbecues on the weekend or aunties' 60th birthdays to attend. So it is actually, in a lot of ways, very convenient."
On the inside, "Jimmy" was a man in control. He was upbeat, funny, positive, energetic, fit and always dreaming of new schemes, although not many ever came through.
The problems started when he was released on parole and came to live with Levin in January 2007.
She had been told that people were different on the outside, but was not ready for the full catastrophe.
"My biggest fear was that he would get out and be running with gangs," Levin said.
"I thought there would be wild men running through the house and destroying my life, but in fact it was the complete opposite.
"I thought he would be so happy because he was always writing to me about how cold he was, how hungry, how there were no doctors.
"I thought he would be delighted. He could have his tobacco whenever he wanted, but he just wasn't happy.
"He was quiet and became more and more anxious and depressed. He was really struggling."
Some of her middle-class friends became nervous. One or two dropped her, concerned about their reputation or safety if they started hanging around a serious criminal.
After all, this was a man who twice tried to run down police in stolen cars, who described himself as well-connected in the drug world, who carried a shortened firearm, and who feared for his life if sent to jail.
His fears turned out to be well-founded.
For the first year inside, he was bashed, sent to prison hospital, released, bashed again, sent to hospital and so on.
He was either the victim of, or witness to, brutality beyond imagining leaving him with psychological scars that prevented him fitting back into any kind of normal life on the outside.
He was depressed, anxious, friendless and found it so hard to go outside that he never once went to the beach, despite living a few hundred metres away.
Less than a year after he was released, Jimmy was back inside for another 12 months after stealing a car and making himself conspicuous to police.
Then he was out again in September 2008 until the relationship finally imploded with a bang, not a whimper, and he packed his bags. Even then, he would return sporadically to use the phone or the washing machine.
"The things that drove us apart in the end were not that special, not that shocking, not even profitable," wrote Levin.
"I always seem to meet men at the wrong time in their lives, when they've blown their youth, money or trust on someone else.
"There were no high-speed vehicle chases or hostage situations."
In the end, Levin concludes with regret, but perhaps unfairly, she and "Jimmy" were as incompatible as it gets.
"Still, it became obvious that I had made a horrible, horrible mistake," she wrote.
"I had picked the wrong option in the Choose Your Own Adventure story that was my life and it was too late to flick back and pick again.
"When we tell our partners we love them, what do we think it means?"
Levin concludes that doing jail isn't hard, that being on the outside is hard. Turning up to work, paying the bills, looking after your kids, not following whims or passions at the expense of others. That's hard.
"Jimmy" and others like him had a sense of self-destructive entitlement that said the world owed them something and if it wasn't to be given, it was to be taken.
Ultimately, that put him on the other side of a moral chasm to her so that, in the final sentence of her book, she comes to the realisation that: "In life and love, I am not suitable for the jail environment."
Levin fleshes out her experience by discovering the stories of other crimwives, among them Lucy Dudko, who famously broke her man out of jail in 1999 by hijacking a helicopter.
She later served seven years for her act of love, but converted to Christianity in jail and broke off with the man who was her downfall (who is in jail but due out next year).
"The greatest stories in the history of love have always been tragedies," comments Levin.
Stories from the other crimwives carry a certain predictable and depressing theme of love doomed from the start.
There's Jess who ends up fearing for her life; Vicky whose girlfriend leaves her after the third jail sentence; or Emma the dutiful daughter who would secretly have sex with her boyfriend in jail before he threatened to smash her face.
"It's so sad," a prison officer tells Levin when she finds out about "Jimmy".
"You could have been something. You could have gotten to the top. You're smart enough.
"But now all you're going to end up as is just another dirty, scummy, rotten crimwife."
"What's a crimwife?" Levin responded. ■