Like I’ve said many times, hindsight is a beautiful thing. It allows to you look back and see just how naive and foolish you really were. I guess if I were to do things all over again, and look at the situation objectively, I would probably be surprised if Paul did not suspect that anything was happening between us.

I mean, if all our friends could see this “connection” between Erica and I that had led to all sorts of rumours, even before we did anything, then her own boyfriend, whom is already prone to jealously, would of course sense something was up. For us to think that we would be able to fool him completely was probably just a wee bit silly and naive.

There were many key periods in the lead up to where we are now and this was just but one of them. Over the period that Paul was up visiting, Erica and I did our best to keep our distances from each other. Instead of always walking side by side and conversing closely with each other as we would normally do, innocently mind you, we tried our best to exaggerate the distance between us. When we were out as a group, I would make an effort to talk more so to the other guys, bordering on ignoring Erica, and if she was at the front of the group, I would walk at the back. And vice versa.

There was an incident once, I think it may have been the second or third day just after he arrived. We were all in the car together, and Erica and I were in the back seat whilst Paul was driving. I can’t remember the situation in its entirety, but I ended up giving Erica a foot massage right there in the car. It was an innocent thing, but a careless thing to do in light of our agreement to keep our distance. Naturally I only found out later that Paul got jealous. Big surprise….

When I mention the key turning points in our relationship, I mention this as one of them because it was when I guessed I started to realise my feelings for Erica were more than what I thought they were, or hoped that they were. When we were split apart in a group situation, having to force this chasm of deliberate nonchalance between us, I starting having this strange feeling inside me. I felt this ache within me that I couldn’t identify. We were friends, friends with benefits, but nonetheless still merely friends. But yet I would look at her standing so far away from me and just feel this pull towards her. To want to just have things back to normal. To just want to be by her side, to just talk to her without pretence. To just smile and laugh with her like we used to. And the fact that I couldn’t, started to really make me all squirmy inside… for lack of a better expression.

It still never really occurred to me that I may have feelings for her, but only that I just wished Paul wasn’t there. I guess the thought that Erica was still with her bf, whom was right there with her in front of me, sharing all the closeness that partners share, just helped to blind me to my own feelings. Deep down I just felt that it doesn’t look like they’re going to be breaking up anytime soon and as such, didn’t want to entertain any thought of us being more than friends.

I remember one morning I received a call from Erica telling me that she had finally had sex with Paul. One part of me was happy and proud of her for doing what it seemed like she didn’t want to do, but yet was the right thing to do (in my books). But another part of me went… “Awww crap. I was really hoping you wouldn’t”. I told her that I was really happy that she did it, and told her to keep on doing it. If not for herself then for him (though I’m sure she still enjoyed it!). Cue squirmy feeling….

Erica told me at one point that Paul was starting to get more and more jealous of the two of us. She doesn’t know how, she doesn’t know why, but he was. It puzzled me too as I thought we were both doing quite well in keeping up this whole fascade. One time we went shopping and I was next to Paul. I walked past a clothes shop that I liked and told him so, and that I was going to pop in for a look. He then said to me “Yeah go look at that Yank trash” or something similar to that. It shocked me a little, but I just shrugged and thought something along the lines of “Hmmm… that’s real rich coming from you Mr “I wear Basketball Jerseys 24/7. Nice one cockbreath.”

It was then that I realised that if this was a sign of things to come, things stood a chance of getting pretty messy before he left. Little did I know. At work one day, I received a phone call from Erica. I can’t remember exactly what had happened but she didn’t sound very well. She sounded quite stressed out and I think she had been crying. I told her to see if she could take the rest of the day off, meet me at my workplace, and we’ll go for a drive and talk about it.

So Erica took the rest of the day off and met me at once of my client offices. I cancelled the rest of my day, and took Erica for a drive. I took us to Davidson Park near the Roseville Bridge which is a beautiful place. It’s right alongside the Hawkesbury River which was bordered by green hills and totally secluded.

Now remember what I said in Part 2 about what tends to inadvertently happen if we both ended up alone in the same place at the same time? Well yeah…. this time was no different 😛 It was a stinking hot summer day and we both laid down beneath a tree to talk about what was bothering her. Basically the guilt of all that had happened, and of what she was putting Paul through without his knowledge finally got to her. Just having her bf being so good, caring and loving to her, not knowing that he was going to be on the receiving end of a dumping, and that his love was now unrequited, was too much of a burden for her to bear alone and she crumbled. So I did my best to listen, offer why advice I could, and be as solid a rock as I could for her to lean on. Soon she was back to normal and we just lay there in the shade chatting.

It was so damn hot that I took off my shirt and laid out on it. Not the wisest thing to do when you’re laying on the ground, in a national park, in the middle of summer. Before long our laying side by side turned into the touching of each others hands, which then turned into her laying against me with my arm around her, which then graduated into the inevitable kissing session, resulting in the predictable and usual outcome. Which is clothes getting removed, and us going at it….. in the middle of the park. Thankfully once again, no one was around!

Midway though our exhibitionist shenanigans, we started feeling a bite here. Then a bite there. We’d brush off the occasional ant but then the bites started to come fast, and hurt! Apparently we weren’t just content to be fooling around in nature, but we’ve gone and done it *with* nature! And so we were in the middle of a menage a trois with her, myself, and a bunch of hungry ants!!! They were biting us everywhere, and it bloody hurt! Legs, body, arms… argh!

Eventually they got the better of us, and we retreated back to the safe haven of my car to ummm… finish the job. Once again, after we were done we just sat there wondering what just happened. It all seemed so wrong, but yet so right. Now that we were together after forcing ourselves to be apart, we didn’t want to leave each other. I drove Erica back to Chatswood and we got a bite to eat. Erica called Paul and told him that she had to stay back late at work for a colleagues farewell. The scary thing was the place where we were having dinner was only down the street from her place, where Paul was. We went to Cha for Tea, a chinese cafe/tea place, after dinner because she didn’t want to go back to her bf and because we didn’t want to leave each other. The whole time I kept looking over my shoulder at the doorway because I was paranoid that Paul would walk in. Damn the guilty conscience!

Next to the “me hiding naked in the laundry” incident, the other memorable thing that happened whilst Paul was here was during Christmas. Hairul decided to throw a Christmas dinner party at his place and invited Erica, Paul, Jon, Ming, Chiu, and myself. Now there was gonna be a lot of boozing happening that night, and certain members of the group were issued with strict orders to make sure that no matter what happens, Erica and I were not to get too close throughout the night! We were both basically being chaperoned for the duration of the party.

Erica and I got there early to help prepare for te Christmas Party. I remember vacuuming the place with my shirt off. I was covered in nasty looking bites that took surprisingly a few weeks to heal. I’ve always wondered if Paul ever noticed or wondered that it must have been a strange coincidence that all of a sudden one day, Erica had strange looking bites on her body, and there I was vacuuming the place also covered in strange similar looking bites! The welts those ants left were nasty and huge! They actually looked more like raised scarring than bites!

Now this is where things get interested. We started playing indian poker which is a drinking game. It’s a game that has the ability to make a situation go from Penthouse to Shithouse real fast! Everyone basically ganged up on me, and I got absolutely hammered. That being said, Erica was pretty sloshed too. Just to break things up a bit, here’s a quick video I put together of the situation to give you a rough idea of how ugly it got…. for me.

As you can see, friendship is bloody overrated! 😛 Once Erica and I were both drunk, we both kept somehow finding a way next to each other. She’d end up sitting down on my lap before one of our custodians quickly pulled her off. I’d end up very close to her on the couch or against the wall before someone then yanked me away. Everyone was keeping one eye on us, and the other on Paul to make sure he didn’t notice! I remember Chiu I think got a bit jealous because she pulled me away at one point, all huffy and annoyed, and told me in no uncertain terms to stay away from Erica tonight.

That’s all well and good, but someone should have said those stern words to Erica!!! Little Miss Drunk n’ Giggly over there grabbed me, pulled me over to the bathroom, pushed me inside, shut the door, and proceeded to have her way with me!!! I was drunk and was trying to protest because this isn’t exactly the best time and place for something like this!

We were pashing and making out before hearing Paul start thumping on the door wanting to know what was going on! I basically just dropped on the ground, and tried to act as drunk (not hard as I was already hammered) as I possibly could so it would look like Erica was just trying to take care of me. Apparently it worked because Erica opened the door, and Paul saw me and just laughed. Whew! Ericaaaaa!!!! You’re crazy!!! That was just so damn close!!!

But the pretending to be drunk didn’t last very long, as I soon discovered after passing out on the toilet. Erica that kind soul, did the noble thing that friends do, and videotaped me. Sigh…. And to think I’m married to this woman now! 😛

The next day or the day after, Erica’s lease on her Chatswood apartment expired. She was heading off to Singapore for a couple of weeks over the NYE period, and before that will be going with Paul back to Melbourne for a few days. So the 2 days before they left, they crashed over at Hairul’s place. This was went things between myself and Paul came to a head… kinda.

The last night they stayed over, I was staying over too. Erica and Paul were sleeping on one futon mattress, and I was sleeping on another adjacent to the first. Erica and I woke up quite early, and seeing as P was still asleep, just chatted in soft tones so as not to wake him up. It turns out that Paul was actually awake, and was not appreciating us so called “whispering” to each other as he put it. Basically he pretended to be asleep whilst listening and watching us put our heads together to chat in low tones.

Later on in the day I went upstairs to fix Hairul’s computer. Erica came upstairs for a shower, and then seeing me fixing Hairul’s computer chatted with me for a while. I think when Paul realised that Erica was upstairs chatting to me, he decided he couldn’t take it anymore, and just walked out of the house. When Erica found out she was quite worried and flustered over the whole situation and I just tried my best to calm her down again.

After about an hour, Paul came back with bleeding knuckles. Apparently he was so pissed off with us that he went off on his own to cool off, and started punching random things until his knuckles bled. Soon after, it was time for them to leave to go back to Melbourne, and so they left for the airport.

I didn’t say goodbye to Paul because of the foul mood he was in, and didn’t get more than a quick goodbye from Erica before she left. As far as my world went, Erica would be gone for close to 3 weeks. She would spend a few days in Melbourne with Paul before spending the following 2 weeks in Singapore, then returning back to Sydney after.

I felt a little bit lost after Erica left. Part of me just felt a little empty, like when your best friend that you’ve come to rely on isn’t there for you any more. I just couldn’t stop thinking about Erica, and finally realised then that I think I may be falling for her. And I started thinking about her in Melbourne with P, visualising them having sex as much as I didn’t want to. Both my heart and mind was in turmoil and I didn’t know what to do with them. And so I tried not to think. Bad move.

Because it would only be a few days later that I would confess to someone my feelings for Erica, only to later that same day meet a girl. A girl dressed in nothing but her lingerie. And my world got ripped to shreds. My world got destroyed.

Part 5- Supernova….