I’m of the belief that a person really needs some sort of guidelines or goal to keep them focused. To keep them true. It’s often all too easy to flounder and wallow on the shores of uncertainty when we’re not sure of which direction in life to take. Sometimes you could be standing at a fork in the road, questioning which path to take. Other times you could be in the middle of the desert, where any direction is just as seemingly good as any other direction.

With myself on the dawn of a new found cognitive awareness of my feelings for Erica, I was somewhat at a loss of what to do. Me being always the moral crusader (irregardless of my actions of the past weeks), was still hoping for Erica and Paul to get back together, and live happily ever after. As I’m quite aware of how much time and energy gets invested into a relationship in 5 years, and how much of a shame it would be for that to amount to naught. On the other hand, I had feelings for Erica that I still haven’t fully come to terms with as yet.

I had only broken up with my ex of 5 years a few months prior, and as such had sworn off all relationships for an indeterminate period of time. Flings not withstanding, I didn’t want to get too involved with any woman in the near future as I really enjoyed my found single status. But that being said, I’m not built for flings. There’s something intrinsically unsatisfying about them. I mean, the theory behind “no strings attached” sex is pretty damn awesome. As much as I knew that wasn’t really me, I wanted to live that life. To live the life of a player. I mean, isn’t that every guys dream? But like I said, I’m not built for it as much I would wish for otherwise. Without the emotional connection, realised or not, sex feels…. hollow. I can’t describe it any other way.

And so I come back to the departure of Erica and Paul. It felt like a part of me was missing. But what could I do about it? At this point in time I honestly felt like Erica was not interested in me. She’s with Paul, been in a relationship for 5 years, the last thing she would want is to hop straight into another one. Even if she did, am I ready for another relationship myself? What if I scare her off? What if I lose her as a friend?

There are so many variables that I tried to consider until I gave up. During the next few days, I texted and called Erica many times. So much so that she told me Paul was not happy about it and very very jealous that we’re contacting each other to the extent that we did. We talked, we chatted, we laughed. I asked her about how things were for her, and she said she’s just trying to get through it as painlessly and quickly as possible so she could escape to Singapore, then return to Sydney. I searchingly joked with her about the sex she was having with Paul, and felt the same mixed bitter-sweet response at her answers.

It was the 30th of December when it all happened. It was the 30th of December that possibly, to this day, shaped the course of our entire future.

By this time, Erica was already in Singapore. I was out with Hairul that day. It was NYE weekend, and the plan was for the group to spend it together. Jon was busy that night, so I was going to crash over at Hairul’s place the night of the 30th despite the fact that his roommate Dev probably wouldn’t be too happy with that. When we went out for dinner, by coincidence we ran into Karen and G. 2 of the other girls in the group. We had a quick chat and G suggested why don’t I crash at her place instead of Hairul’s, since she’ll be there all night by herself.
Now G lives in the same block of apartments as Hairul, but in the penthouse upstairs. Her roommate is rarely home, and her bf IG had gone back to Singapore to work. So she’s there most of the time by herself. Now G and her boyfriend IG were part of the group. I’ve met IG on a few occasions but don’t know him very well. G has a reputation as being a somewhat promiscuous girl. Okay, that’s putting it lightly. She cheats on him at every available opportunity like it was a crack addiction…. or so I’ve heard.

I told her yeah I’d be happy to stay over, and save myself the discomfort of putting up with Dev at Hairul’s place. We agreed to meet her at her place later that night and we could have a few drinks and watch some DVDs.

After dinner we left to head back to Hairul’s place. Seeing as Hairul was a close long term friend of Ericas, I decided to confess my feelings for Erica to him in the hope that he may know something of her own feelings for me. I believe I said these exact words to him “I think I’ve started to fall for Erica”. And his reaction? He laughed his guts out and coughed out the “I told you so”‘s and the “I knew it”s. So I asked him if Erica has mentioned anything of her feelings for me. He laughed and told me that I’ll just have to ask her about it. The fucker….. Basically to me, by him saying that, I just translated it to be that she most likely hadn’t said anything to him, and ergo was probably not interested in me at all. He also said that if anything happened between us, he wished me well. But that if I ever hurt her, he’d kill me….. so on and so forth.

So we grabbed our stuff from Hairul’s place, and went up to G’s place. Hairul decided that he would stay over as well. We all started chatting, watching TV, and drinking beer when Hairul pulled out a box of weed that he brought up and asked if anyone wanted some. Naturally I shook my head in disgust, and surprisingly G declined too. So Hairul went outside to smoke it, whilst G and I just chatted. Hairul came back in after a while, and we all just chilled out on the couch to watch TV.

It was getting late and I still couldn’t get Erica out of my head and so I decided to go call her. I went into G’s roommates bedroom and chatted with her for over an hour I believe. Or perhaps even much much longer. I removed my international call bar on my mobile just so I could call her. She was quite surprised to hear from me. And it surprised me that she was surprised by it! I just told her that I was bored, that I missed her a little, and just felt like a chat. I told her that it was almost on the eve of the New Year and I wished she was here to join in the fun with us. I remember trying to fish and salvage any inkling I could of any possible feelings she may have had for me, but was unsuccessful at it. She said she still wishes things could work out with Paul, but doesn’t know if they can. We eventually said our goodbyes and I returned to the others.

It was at this point that G said she needed to go take a shower and that she would be back soon. So Hairul and I just entertained ourselves watching TV until she came back. And came back she certainly did…. in spectacular fashion!

G walked back into the room wearing nothing but a sexy white see-through babydoll, with sexy white lacy brazilian cut panties underneath it! I mean, I could see right through what she was wearing, it was like she wasn’t wearing anything at all!!! Hairul said “Ummm G, I can see your panties you know” but she just laughed and shrugged it off.

As you could guess, my mind was a raging maelstrom of hormones and nasty thoughts! I was like “Whoa!! G!”, but she just acted like it was the most normal thing in the world, so much so that it made me think that maybe I’m just like a total prude! So she settled down in between Hairul and myself, and we just kept on watching TV.

After a while, she asked me if I could do her a favour and scratch her softly. Telling me it feels good and helps to put her to sleep. I had no idea what she was talking about and asked her what she meant. And so she put her hand on my thigh and started scratching me ever so softly with her fingernails. I have to admit, it did feel very very good *gulp*. She told me that was what she wanted me to do.

I figured that this is innocent enough. It’s just like a massage, no different. And so I started ever so gently grazing her skin with my fingers. Alternating between various parts of her body. Her shoulders…. her neck…. her arms…. her legs…. She started to purr like a kitten and slowly murmur in appreciation. Her eyes were closed and at this point I looked over her at Hairul, only to see him smiling back at me with a “knowing” look. I gave him the “What?” shrug with wide open eyes in response as I think I knew what he was insinuating!

To me, or so I thought, it was all innocent so far. It’s just a massage, no big deal right? G then rolled over until she was facing towards and pressed against me. She looked at me, closed her eyes, and seemingly went to sleep. Her had slowly crept onto my thigh, and she started stroking me in turn. Running her fingers over my arms, my body, my legs. Stroking and caressing gently.

So there we were, our hands no strangers to each other, seemingly overcome with wanderlust and exploring every inch of bare skin available. It was at this point where I starting thinking about Erica again. Obviously my body was starting to respond to her touches. Obviously I was starting to wise up to what she wanted. But my mind by then raged with lust and confusion over what I should do. As much as I wanted Erica, she probably didn’t feel the same way for me. As much as I wanted them to break up, I was faced with the prospect that they may never. I didn’t want to commit to anyone yet, but if I did make the leap of blind faith for Erica, all signs seemed to point to my heart getting broken. Anyway here she was giving her body away to another man, regardless of his position in her life, again and again.

I was a single man. I should be enjoying single life. And so I will…. enjoy single life. That was when I gave into the moment and just enjoyed the sensation of having the hands of another caress my skin. I wondered if anything was to become of this as Hairul was still there, but I needed wonder no longer. Hairul all of a sudden made a big show of standing up and announcing that he’s decided to go back to his own place to sleep. He smiled at me, went down the stairs, and we heard the door shut behind him.

And that was the catalyst for the chemical reaction within the realms of our sexual chemisty. Our wondering hands moved into overdrive, exploring every avenue and corner of each others bodies that were previously cordoned off by only the most minimal sense of propriety. Our bodies intertwined, our lips met, and the temperature soared.

We hadn’t yet managed to graduate beyond the oral foreplay when all of a sudden, we heard the door suddenly slam! We stopped in shock. I realised exactly right then and there what had happed. Hairul had done his old trick of pretending to leave, only to hide downstairs, wait for the action to start, and only then leave after catching the guilty parties in the act. Slamming the door to let all involved know that they had been caught. It was how he managed to catch G cheating on her bf in the past.

For me, I didn’t really care. I wasn’t cheating on anyone. And I don’t think she cared either because I believe that if there was something that G was lacking, it was a conscience. And so we resumed our activities. We were still enjoying 3rd base when I heard an sms come through on my phone. Then another…. then another. Right at this point I knew what was happening. Hairul was letting me know exactly what he knew. And he was probably off telling the world.

I was suddenly dazed as it dawned on me that Hairul was probably telling Erica about it. The thought of “What am I doing?” crossed my mind as I thought about what Erica might be thinking about the whole thing. G then pushed me onto my back, and rode me to home base. I was still stunned and confused. Here I was, having sex with another girl whilst thinking about Erica. I kept thinking of her and how she would feel if she found out. But then, the image of Paul being inside her just kept popping into my head again and again.

Maybe it was self-justification, maybe it was just a defence mechanism, but I couldn’t shake that image from my head. Thinking of Erica just stole my mind from the entire situation I was in. All of a sudden I didn’t want to be there any more, but why shouldn’t I be? I couldn’t enjoy it any more, but why should I feel that way? I vividly remember staring up at G naked astride me doing her thing, thinking that I’m not enjoying this any more and I didn’t want to be here. But the logical portion of my brain was yelling at me that I’m just being a foolish boy, and that I’m not doing anything wrong. If anything, it was Erica that was doing the wrong thing.

Never before have I had sex with someone so unenjoyably. Where my mind and my body were just so distant from each other that they may as well have been on totally different planets. Here my body was with another girl but yet my mind was with Erica. I wondered how I could stop this without hurting G’s feelings. But eventually I managed to end it, not the usual point of completion though on my behalf, and called it quits. For a guy to pull the eject lever midway through a session, with no climax nor want to climax, really means that his heart isn’t in it and that he doesn’t want to be there.

I went to the bathroom to wash up and came back to find G asleep on the sofa bed. I lay down next to her and just starting to think about Erica, and about what had just happened. I remembered that I had received SMS messages on my phone and checked them. A few of the messages were from Hairul, threatening me with physical harm over what had just happened. And the other, was from Erica. Telling me how disappointed in me she was.

Just reading that simple message felt like a knife plunging through my heart. I grabbed my phone, retreated to the other room, and called her. She said that she had just spoken to Hairul, and he’s briefed her on all that’s happened. I explained everything to her again from my point of view, and we talked about it. It was only then, that she finally confessed her feelings to me.

She finally admitted that she had fallen for me but previously couldn’t bring herself to tell me because she was too afraid. She told me she had hopes for us, but was afraid to think about them do to our circumstances, and that she didn’t know if I was interested in her at all.

Hearing this, hearing that we could have had something, hearing that she did indeed have feelings for me and that I may have jeopardised any future that we both could have had together was too much for me to handle. I broke down in tears, and apologised, and apologised, and apologised. No excuses, no justifications, nothing. I just told her how sorry I was. I told her if only I knew. I told her if only Hairul had told me. I told her I had no way of knowing. Things may have been different otherwise. But in a way I’m glad that this happened because now I finally know how she truly feels about me, and she how I feel about her. I asked her if she would ever had told me outside of these circumstances, and she said possible not because she was afraid I didn’t feel the same way. So perhaps if this had never happened, we would never have ever known.

It was a conversation that was to last for a few hours. We were both tired and emotionally exhausted. I asked her for a second chance for me to redeem myself. Second chance at what? I didn’t even know. I was just saying things that came to mind. I was just spouting every cliched apology in the book. I was making reparations and apologies for knowledge that I had committed some sort of felony. But yet had no knowledge of what that felony actually was.

I asked her if there was any chance for us still to have something together. She first said she didn’t know, but then said something I would never forget. She told me she may give me a chance, but that “if I ever cheated on her again”, that would be it. Even in my state of despair, that made me blink. Huh? Cheated? I, a single man, cheated on you? You whom have a boyfriend and yet have been willingly having sex with someone else??? But I just let that slide, as this wasn’t about scoring points in a game of verbal swordsmanship, it was about me confessing my feelings and my follies to her.

After the call, I went back to the couch, and tried to get some sleep. When G and I woke up, I briefed her on the situation. She said that everything was going to be okay. I told her that I highly doubted it, but she did her best to reassure me. We hugged each other goodbye, and that would be the last time we would ever see or hear from each other.

I also received messages from Jon telling me that he heard from Hairul about what had happened, and asking me what the hell went on last night. I was still confused and went over to my friend Damians place and just had a chat to him. He’s one of my best friends and has nothing do with that group of people. He laughed with me, praised me for scoring the “trifecta” within the group, and then got serious. Basically he advised that all I could do was to wait it out and see what happens. He told me to join him for NYE tonight, as it was the 31st of December, and try my best to forget about it.

The original plan was for G to hold a NYE party at her place, but after what had happened, that was not going to be. I told Damo that I’d think about it. I called Jon and he asked me to meet him at his workplace at Macquarie Shopping Centre to discuss the situation. I agreed and we met up. Basically halfway through our coffee, Jon got a call from Hairul. Apparently he had just arrived at the shopping centre as well because he needed to talk to Jon about what had just happened. He said that Hairul is so pissed with me that if he saw me, he’d probably try to kill me. And so I had to quickly scarper before Hairul appeared.

Through the course of the day, Hairul contacted anyone and everyone connected with the group to tell them exactly what I did, or should I say, his version of what I did which I found out later to be untrue. I couldn’t understand why he was doing this, and all my SMS’s to him were just met with more threats of bodily harm and a refusal to explain himself.

I went back home after leaving the centre to have a long hard think about what had happened. I decided that I deserved to be miserable. I deserved to be alone. In all honesty, I don’t know exactly what I did wrong but it didn’t matter. What mattered was that I had hurt Erica, and that took pride of place over everything else. I called up Damo and told him I’d be spending NYE at home alone as penance for what I did. He called me silly, but told me to call him if I change my mind. I then called Erica again and told her about my plans. She told me that she didn’t want me to spend NYE alone, and tried to force me to go out with Damo. I told her the same thing I told him, this was my penance. I hate the notion of being alone on NYE, but if that even goes a little bit towards showing Erica how sincere I am at making things up to her, silly or not, I would do it.

At midnight AU time, I sent Erica a sms wishing her a Happy New Year, and hoping that I hadn’t ruined the trip for her. She replied with a brief telling me the same. And so I tried my best to fall asleep and eventually succeeded. An unhappy, guilt ridden slumber. I had set the alarm to go off at midnight SG time as well, so I could wake up and sms Erica Happy New Year again as she was crossing over. She surprisingly called me after she received my message and we chatted for a while. We once again discussed our wishes for things to be different, and just hoped that one day things could go back to normal. She had told her girlfriends about what had happened and naturally, and understandably, they had warned her to be cautious of me. But I didn’t care, I was so happy that she called me, to hear her voice down the line to me, that I didn’t really care what bad news she had to say.

And so with every passing day, Hairul did his best to systematically poison and destroy my reputation with everyone we knew. He would call Erica and try to do his best to get her to sever all ties with me. Erica and I would have conversations that gave me a hint that normality may resume one day, and also shred all hopes of us having any future together.

I had faith that the other members of the group, whom I had done so much for, would rate their own personal experiences with me over the lies that Hairul was spreading. But as Hairul’s poison found it’s way deep into their roots, I discovered I was wrong.

Soon to come a war would wage. A war of wills…. Part 6.