NEW YORK -- On St. Valentine's Day, the embattled ex-lovers exchanged gifts. In the kitchen of Mia Farrow's Central Park West apartment Woody Allen gave her an embroidered heart and a red satin box of chocolates. She looked at him, friends of Mr. Allen say, with a gentle, almost kindly glance and handed him a slim box, neatly wrapped.
"I got you this," she said.
A month and a day after Ms. Farrow discovered Mr. Allen had been sleeping with her adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn, it seemed as if nothing were wrong, his friends say. Mr. Allen's driver waited downstairs to take him back to his Fifth Avenue duplex and Mr. Allen opened the box on the drive through the park.
Inside lay an ornate Victorian Valentine meticulously adorned with a photograph of Ms. Farrow and her children in the center. The picture included the three children she and Mr. Allen share, as well as Soon-Yi. Ms. Farrow had stuck steel turkey skewers through the hearts of the children and she had carefully slid a steak knife into her own heart, according to Mr. Allen's friends.
"Once my heart was one and it was yours to keep," she had carefully written next to the photograph, they said. "My child you used and pierced my heart a hundred times and deep."
The story of that day and the following account is based on interviews with friends of Mr. Allen, material related to the case obtained by New York Newsday and previously published reports. Both Mr. Allen and Ms. Farrow refused to comment.
The Mia-Woody fight is a battle over the custody of three children. As in many custody fights, it is an emotional and at times nasty conflict with accusations and countercharges involving the most personal details of their lives. The story told by Ms. Farrow's friends and family was already chronicled in Vanity Fair and is now being disputed by Mr. Allen's lawyers and advisers. Except for a press conference several months ago, Mr. Allen has remained silent about the details of his life with Ms. Farrow. For this story, his friends spoke on his behalf.
Ms. Farrow has told friends that she feels betrayed by a man she loved and trusted. Her mother and sister and old friends have portrayed Mr. Allen as an impulsive man obsessed with his 7-year-old adopted daughter, Dylan. They said he would follow her from room to room, whispering in her ear, and that he lured another daughter, Soon-Yi, from Ms. Farrow's control. Ms. Farrow, through her lawyer Eleanor Alter, said she did not want to discuss the case because she did not want to drag the kids through the mud.
"I'm taking the high road, the low road is so congested," Ms. Farrow said, through Ms. Alter.
Mr. Allen's supporters have repeatedly denied the charges from the other side.
After the Valentine incident, he would later tell friends, Ms. Farrow threatened to kill him. She'd call in the middle of the night, screaming that he was "the devil," and should die and "burn in hell."
Mr. Allen now tells friends he is not sure he ever loved Ms. Farrow,explaining they never moved in together, never shared the lives most couples enjoy. On Aug. 6, Ms. Farrow charged Mr. Allen with molesting Dylan. She later petitioned Surrogate Court in Manhattan to have Mr. Allen's adoption of Dylan annulled.
The abuse charges came after Mr. Allen spent two days with the children and Ms. Farrow at her Bridgewater, Conn., estate. Ms. Farrow went to police with allegations that Mr. Allen had joined Dylan in a small crawl space off a closet in Ms. Farrow's bedroom, a mini-attic, and "touched her private part." Although sources said a doctor who examined Dylan found no physical evidence of abuse, the case is pending.
"There were many good things in it. I don't regret them," Ms. Farrow said about her relationship with Mr. Allen in an interview in Britain's Hello magazine. "But, again, if you asked me if I would have gone out with this man had I known what was going to happen at the end -- then, of course, I'd say 'No.' I'd never have brought him into my family because a family is a sacred place."
Tuesday, Mr. Allen met with a team of psychologists who are examining Dylan as part of the criminal case in Connecticut. He has told friends he hopes the case is resolved soon so he can resume visits with her. The friends said he has not talked to or seen Dylan since the day he left Ms. Farrow's Bridgewater home last summer.
Meanwhile, Mr. Allen is filming a movie and trying to live as normally as possible.
"Woody is not speaking to anyone about anything," said Allen spokeswoman Leslee Dart. "He just misses his children. He suffers more pain every day without them."