In a new memoir, Prince’s ex-wife Mayte Garcia shares the story of their four-year marriage and the tragedy that tore them apart. Subscribe now for the exclusive excerpt – only in PEOPLE.
When rock icon Prince‘s frail, lifeless body was discovered in the elevator of his Paisley Park mansion in April 2016, it not only stunned millions of his fans worldwide, it shocked many of those close to the musician, who had no idea he was battling drug addiction — including his ex-wife and one-time muse Mayte Garcia.
In an exclusive interview and excerpt from her upcoming memoir, The Most Beautiful: My Life with Prince, that appears in this week’s issue of PEOPLE, Garcia admits, “I never actually saw Prince doing drugs. He didn’t want me to. I’m sure he knew what my reaction would be.”
Garcia’s book chronicles her life with the genre-defying musician, whom she met when she was a 16-year-old professional dancer in 1990 and divorced in 2000 after four years of marriage, and his death from an accidental overdose of the painkiller fentanyl.
Despite never witnessing Prince using drugs, she references several “disturbing occasions when he told me he was ‘sick’ or had a ‘migraine’ ” that seem to hint at the rock star’s substance abuse issues.
“Looking back now and being much older I can see it was something else,” Garcia, now 43, tells PEOPLE. “I never saw him do anything – not even take an aspirin.”
And yet within weeks of the couple’s wedding on Valentine’s Day 1996, she received a late night phone call from one of her husband’s bodyguards, informing her that an unconscious Prince had been rushed to the hospital to have his stomach pumped. He claimed he’d combined wine and aspirin.[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/312791233" params="visual=true&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false" width="100%" height="450" iframe="true" /]
For much more on Mayte Garcia and the new Prince book, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
FROM COINAGE: Here Are the 7 Most Expensive Music Videos of All Time
On another occasion, a distraught Prince pleaded with Garcia to return to his hotel room and “flush some pills [that he told her he’d left there] down the toilet.” His wife did exactly what was asked of her, admitting, “I didn’t question what it was.”
RELATED VIDEO: People Icons: Gone Too Soon — Prince (Sneak Peek)
“I never told him about my thoughts of suicide or how close I had come to doing it,” Garcia writes in her memoir, due out April 4. “But I started to think he knew, because my Vicodin kept disappearing. I assumed he was hiding them to keep me from hurting myself. In retrospect, I don’t know what to think.”
Now the single mother of an adopted 5-year-old daughter, Garcia, who was recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, admits she’s at a loss to fully understand the “inner complexity” that fueled her ex-husband’s appetite for the narcotics that ultimately killed him.
“It makes me sad,” says Garcia. “He left behind a lot of people who loved him. But it was his time. I know he didn’t fear death.”