The Back-Up Guy Part III - The Cheat

Early Mornings, the kind that are pre-dawn, pre-sunrise, before bird song and the rat race. When motorways are clear and radio DJs are still somber with the sounds of smooth jazz. 

When I was younger, bundled into Mum's old Ford Fiesta, whizzing down the M25, crack of dawn, novelty sunglasses and flip-flops, a Disney sound track on cassette, heading for the airport, I just assumed that all the cars we passed were off on their summer holidays too. Why else did people get up so early.

Now Stevie Nicks screeches through my speakers 'Stand Back Stand Back' and I come to realise the other category of people who traveling before the sunrise. 

Guilt makes it hard to sleep. It makes it hard to stay in one place, take a shower or even brush your hair. 

Remember that guy, my 'Back up Guy'?

It finally happened.

It should have been good, it should have been right. After all this time I've worked out that we actually just care about each other, enjoy each others company and miss each other when we're not together. what could be wrong with that? Sleeping together should have been a good thing. But instead I laid there this morning sleepless and empty, cold from the wide open window but not able to move closer to him. Not wanting him to stir, just wishing I could disappear for a while.

He has a girlfriend. 

Don't worry I feel suitably terrible, and I think he does also.

He's supposedly in love with this girl.

This lovely girl who's done nothing wrong, looks like a primary school Teacher, puts up cute Facebook statuses and has no idea right now what a snake her boyfriend is or who I am. Let alone what a bitch I've been to her.

He'd invited me over for wine and Woody Allen, two of my biggest weaknesses, and somehow I was actually naive enough to not see how the night would end. 

This is a guy who has made it pretty clear he likes me. For once there have been no games, no uncertain terms, and with the one minor exception of his current relationship status, zero complications.

He has taken me out on numerous date/non-date excursions, tried to kiss me on several awkward occasions, quoted casablanca to me at a train station and actually, he's always been there when I've needed him. 

But until last night I had never let him kiss me. Never allowed myself to be that drunk around him or to hold his hand for that long.

I gave in, and I did because I wanted to, not because I was drunk or because he had worn me down. I finally said yes because I finally realised that yes was my answer.

From the moment that I arrived last night I felt that something was different. Our conversation didn't flow like usual, we were holding back things, news and parts of ourselves. His girlfriend, sex, boys, flirting, all off limits this time. He put his arm around me while the opening credits of Manhattan played and he slipped his hand into mine, recreating the scene of so many teenage hook ups. How could I forget the code of 'Want to watch a DVD?' 

When he led me to his bedroom and not the spare I didn't question it and just popped on my pjs as if I were at a sleepover. A very friendly sleepover where I let the host spoon me. 

In the barely morning he didn't say anything as he got ready for work. Work and then the long journey home, up north, away from London and back to his girlfriend. He packed quickly trying not to wake me while we both pretended I was asleep, until I couldn't pretend anymore. 

If last night's conversation had been quiet then this morning's silence was deafening. Wide empty gaps between words, avoided eye contact and polite smiles.

"I'm sorry about last night" I said. "I should have been a better friend" I finished weakly, trying to justify my apology surfacing through the silence before his. 

"Im really sorry too, I should have been a better boyfriend" he returned, and I silently agreed as he engulfed me in a hug that seemed to block everything out for a moment. 

I was sort of ok, and then as he was packing his bag into his car I noticed his phone. Unlocked and unattended next to the bed. Without thinking I read 6 or 7 texts between him and her.

Wow. Fuck. 'I love you' all over the place. 

But that wasn't what got me. A couple of the messages were almost identical to the ones he sends me. Just replacing the 'I love you' for 'I miss you'. 

I could barely breath, and when he was gone I felt the relief wash over me. No longer tired and able to sleep, I was itching for the road, and so moments later I followed him out of the door. But not before making the bed. I still have no idea why I did that. 

Now I'm still trying to make sense of it. part of me wanting him, part of me wanting to ask him an endless list of 'what if' based questions and all of me feeling guilty as hell. 

The last thing I said to him was that I would step back. I asked him what he needed. To not speak to me for a while, forever? He told me he wanted to stay friends, and I want that too. But in truth I think this is just another sad example of sex ruining a relationship.

I just hope it only ruins one.