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'I'm about to be bridesmaid for my friend. But I've been keeping her fiancé’s secret for 10 years.'

I fancied him the moment he opened the door and smiled at me. It wasn’t the ideal situation to meet someone, since I was at a house viewing and he lived at the house. Not even through the door and I already had a crush on my potential housemate.

The sensible thing would have been to walk away, but I didn’t. After a tour of the house, I sat down to chat with the other housemates - a girl named Claire* and a boy named Steve*. Both were in their mid-twenties, like me. As was George*, my new crush. We all hit it off, and I was moving in by the time I left.

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After moving in, my crush on George didn't waiver. If anything, it increased. Then, one night, I was having a few drinks with George on the sofa after work, and I discovered he had a crush, too. Only, it wasn't on me. He wanted Claire, though she didn't seem to feel the same way about him.

A year went by of living together, and though George had never said it to Claire, it became clear to everyone how much he liked her. She became aware of it herself but kept him at arm's length. 

"He's just a friend," she insisted to me. 

Claire and I had become close, and I counted her as one of my best friends. So much so that, one night, I confided in her about my feelings for George. 

"You should go for it," she encouraged. But I said I wouldn't, and I suspected he already knew.

Then, on an evening of drinks with a few more of our friends, I looked across the dance floor and my jaw hit the floor seeing George and Claire kissing. I felt heartbroken. They carried on kissing for the rest of the night, and when we got home, they both went to George's room.

I told myself it was a drunken one-off, but much to my dismay, it started to happen every time we went out. Being around them felt awful and when they started to do things as a pair, rather than the four of us, I felt left out.

Despite sleeping with George regularly, Claire insisted they weren't a couple and would still go on dates with other people. You could tell George wasn’t happy about it, but he never said, probably afraid he'd lose her if he did.

Then, one night, I was at home alone when George returned from a night out. He joined me on the lounge, and we had a few drinks together. 

"Claire’s on another date and I'm getting sick of it," he told me. I told him that he should tell her how he feels. But the words that followed, surprised me. 

"If I was with you, I'd never look at anyone else," I told him. 

George looked at me with surprise, then leaned forward and kissed me.

Before I knew it, our bodies were naked and tangled around each other. We didn't even make it to the bedroom. Steve or Claire could have walked in any time, but they didn't. Afterwards, we went into our own separate bedrooms, and I lay awake for hours with a mix of glee and worry. I was unsure how Claire would react when she found out, but it didn't seem like she wanted George, so I hoped she'd give her blessing and be happy for us.

The next day, Claire came home after staying overnight at her date's house. I heard George ask to speak to her, and I braced myself for the aftermath. I heard shouting, and then the front door slammed. Seconds later, Claire entered my room and jumped into bed with me. Not the reaction I would have expected if he'd told her about us.

It turned out he hadn't told her. Instead, he told her that if she couldn't commit to him, he was going to have to move out. I felt stupid and used.

At first, Claire told George she couldn’t commit and over the coming weeks, things were frosty in the house. George and Claire barely spoke, and George acted like nothing had happened between us, never bringing it up. I didn't say anything to Claire, worried George would hate me if I did.

When George started looking for other places to live, I was devastated, but I knew it was for the best if he was going to get over Claire. Then, one day, Claire came home in tears. 

"I've been made redundant," she told us. 

All the coldness George had displayed towards her melted away. He ran straight over and gave her a hug. After that, George went out of his way to help Claire in any way he could. He cooked her dinner, helped her look for jobs and spruce up her CV, and would take her to the pub for drinks.

Then, I was in my room one day, when Claire came to speak to me. 

"I think I made a mistake letting George go," she told me. My stomach sunk. 

Soon after, Claire and George became an official couple, and that’s when George finally addressed what had happened between us. We were all out getting drinks one night and Claire was out of earshot. 

"Listen, about that night," he said, shifting his feet uncomfortably. 

"We both know it was just a bit of fun and we were both single, so neither of us did anything wrong, but I think it’s best that we don’t tell anyone." His words were casual, but his eyes were pleading. His words stung, but I didn’t let it show. 

I agreed there was no need for anyone to know, and that it was just a bit of fun. He smiled gratefully. 

As he walked back to the table, I rushed off to the bathroom so I could be certain no tears would burst out of me at any moment. 

In time, Claire and George moved in together. Claire and I remained close, and I kept a friendship with George, too, although he made sure we were never on our own together. I’d only see him if he was with Claire and for a while, I was sad that our once close friendship was no longer there. 

I still held a candle for him for a couple of years, but it simmered when I fell in love with someone else, who loved me back this time.

When George popped the question to Claire after nearly a decade together, I was genuinely happy for them. 

But a couple of weeks after, I was out for drinks with Claire when she handed me a pink box wrapped in a ribbon. 

I pulled the ribbon loose and opened the box to reveal a silver friendship necklace and a note saying, "Will you be my bridesmaid?" I felt sick to my stomach. 

"You were there from the beginning, so it’s right you’re standing with us on our big day," Claire said. 

She beamed at me, eager for an answer, and I felt like I couldn’t say no. 

"I’d be honoured," I lied to her. 

Now every time the wedding comes up in conversation, I’m consumed with guilt, and I don’t know how I’m going to stand by her side at the end of the aisle, in a display of friendship and loyalty, knowing that I’d slept with her future husband at the same time she was.

If she ever found out, I doubt she’d speak to us ever again. I wouldn’t if I were her. Not because of what we did, but how we kept it from her from so many years. 

It makes me wonder about the secrets our loved ones have that we will never know. And I need to make a vow to myself to keep this one. 

Feature image: Getty 

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