If it were in any way possible I hoped that Emma and I would still be able to maintain a friendship after a while. The way I saw it was that her and Lara never truly knew each other that well and they had only spent a brief time together, Emma would move on quickly, she typically seemed to.
I wouldn’t give up on that idea for a long while yet, I had really enjoyed the time we had all spent together as friends and thought it was worth holding on to. Just as I was resolving not to give in, so was Emma. Although her goal wasn’t maintaining the friendship, she thought that she could win Lara back if she continued to make an effort for her.
I wasn’t worried when I realised what she was playing at, I knew how Lara felt. When we’d made our revelations to each other that there had always been feelings there and that we just never acted on them Lara confessed something rather interesting to me.
The whole time we had been meeting up and chatting away throughout many nights she hadn’t really thought of me as unavailable, sure she knew I was with Katy since I was always very clear about that, it’s just in all the time she had known us she never saw us kiss until that New Years Eve. Lara confessed that was the day that it hit her that she was wasting her time waiting for something to happen with me, I was unavailable. So in her words, she settled for Emma.
You can probably understand why I wasn’t particularly worried when I realised Emma wasn’t giving in. It was too easy to be sure of Lara and what we had in those early days. We just couldn’t be separated, except for work. I still had my job working all sorts of shifts in a technical contact centre and Lara would often work late at a local supermarket. It wasn’t unusual for me to do a lot of ‘shopping’ in those days, typically about 5 minutes before they’d be closing.
Since everything was now out in the open we didn’t feel the need to hide. Emma’s reaction was unexpected but welcome, initially I didn’t notice her ulterior motive. Emma seemed to be fine with us, still wanting to socialise all together, even invited us around to hers for an evening to hang out, she wasn’t just attentive to Lara but to me as well. I remember thinking to myself that she was just a really great person, if I were in her position I couldn’t have been as accepting.
We all still went out together in Bath regularly, probably at least once a week. By the time it was getting near to Lara’s birthday at the end of the month it had been a month since we had started dating. I remember being out at a bar with Emma, Katy, Paul and Lara but not our usual Mandalyn’s, instead we were at the Bath Tap. This place would change hands so frequently we never seemed to know if it was open for business, during this time it was.
With the gay community being rather small in the South West in general we still saw all the same familiar faces that we’d usually see out at Mandalyn’s. There was one girl that I barely knew called Charlotte that was friends with Emma who didn’t stop looking daggers at me the whole night. It wasn’t hard for me to figure out why. If Emma had reacted differently I would have said I deserved it too, I thought to myself that if she was cool with everything that had happened she should prompt her friends to be as well. Even Katy had calmed down quickly after the initial shock of the situation.
In small social circles lesbians like to recycle, it gets to a point where it feels like everyone had slept with everyone, forget the whole six degrees of separation, you’re lucky if there’s one. One evening while we were out Emma pulled Hayley, you remember Hayley? The one Katy cheated on me with while I was away on business in Scotland… yep that very same person.
To my immense surprise I actually rather liked Hayley, I didn’t find her attractive in the slightest but she was friendly, fun and clearly had morals that Katy hadn’t. She was deeply embarrassed over everything that had happened and assured me that had she known the truth it never would have happened. I would only ever run into her while out on the scene with friends and she didn’t owe me any apology or explanation, to me she hadn’t done anything wrong, the fact that she offered one meant a lot.
Lara’s birthday was fast approaching and it was a day or two before my pay day. It was really frustrating not being able to buy her the nice present that I had wanted to get her, or take her away for the day just the two of us. Instead we spent a day at a leisure park with Hayley, Emma and two other friends of Emma’s.
Although Hayley had been invited as Emma’s date it was painfully awkward, it was so clear that Emma had engineered this whole day to make herself look better than me. Since as far as she knew I hadn’t gotten Lara a birthday present and I hadn’t bothered to arrange anything for her birthday. Little did she know that I had actually gotten Lara a birthday present, it was something that we would both enjoy and I didn’t really feel comfortable sharing the details with her recent ex girlfriend, so I let her think I what she wanted.
It was a fun day, we went on go-karts, fairground rides, water rides and played arcade games, explored the sea side shops and when we had enough decided to head home for dinner before we’d spend the evening out clubbing. It was Lara’s 20th birthday, I still find it hard to believe that she was just a teenager when we got together, sure I was only 21, but I felt so grown up by then it was crazy.
During the day when we were all out together at the leisure park I had only just began to notice that Emma was subtlety making digs at me when it came to the presents and planning for the day. Since she had Hayley with her as her date she was suitably distracted from paying too much attention to Lara and I. However later that evening was a different story.
We went out to Bristol and started the night at the pub before going on to a nearby gay club OMG (or Vibe as it was called then) her friends from earlier in the day were joining us but Hayley couldn’t make it. I don’t think they ever went on another date after that day, I was a little disappointed that Hayley wasn’t more interested in Emma, I think it would have helped her to move on without getting into anything too serious, Hayley had plans to go travelling in a few months.
While we were in the pub it was clear that Lara and I wouldn’t really be able to keep our hands off each other all night, when I look back at the photographs from that night (the ones I didn’t delete many years later) it’s comical to see just how many of them Emma has managed to tack herself onto, usually creating a Lara sandwich with me.
There’s one photo that’s really funny since it’s of the three of us, but Lara and I are looking at each other like we’re the only two people in the world with silly grins on our faces, then there’s Emma with her arm stretched around us facing the camera. If they wouldn’t all crucify me for posting it on here I would just for comedic effect.
All throughout the night it was clear that Emma was trying to run interference with us, it just wasn’t working. The moment that I truly realised that she wasn’t giving up yet was when she bought Lara a rose, it was so cheesy. You know the lady that wanders aimlessly through the bar attempting to get some sentimental fool to buy a rose for their partner, Emma bought one for Lara as a birthday present, with a blasé ‘Hope you don’t mind’ to me after she’d already paid for it.
The rest of the night was spent on the dance floor by all of us, usually I’m quite the dancer, pulling off spectacular moves like ‘the shopping trolley’ and the infamous ‘sprinkler’ dance, never more beautifully executed than with a skin full of alcohol. However this night I was the sober taxi-service that would be driving everyone home and instead I did the uber-butch thing of standing in the middle of the dance floor with a girl dancing up against me, I wasn’t complaining.
Lara was getting rather tipsy that evening and it wasn’t long before I had to begin to worry about whether or not we’d get thrown out of this establishment as her hands began to wonder. I had to remind her several times to wait until we got home, I just hoped that it went unnoticed by everyone we were with.
After this night I realised that although I had promised myself that I wouldn’t give in and drop Emma as a friend, she wasn’t going to make it easy if she didn’t give in chasing after Lara. I knew she’d never win her back, and I certainly wasn’t worried about any competition, back then Lara and I seemed so right for each other. It just made me a little uncomfortable, it was devious and two-faced behaviour to pretend everything was Ok to my face and then to chase after my girlfriend still, maybe she thought it was payback? Who knows. She’d have to give in eventually when she realised that Lara really didn’t want her.