'Do you think something might happen?’ my friend Tabitha asked.
I’d just told her my mate Paul and I were going to house share and, to be honest, I’d been wondering the same thing. Paul and I had been best friends for two years and when I first saw him I thought he was gorgeous. At the time, my marriage was crumbling, and although Paul and I were purely mates, I felt I could talk to him about anything.
‘I’m not happy any more,’ I confessed one day over coffee.
That’s when Paul clasped my hands and looked me in the eye. ‘You’re wonderful Jardine,’ he told me. ‘Anyone would be lucky to be with you.’ His kind words made me fancy him even more. But, it seemed romance would never be on the cards for us. Paul had told me he was bisexual, and I assumed that meant he wanted a relationship with another man.
But the week we moved in together something changed.
But the week we moved in together something changed. I kept catching Paul looking at me, and when we touched it was like a bolt of electricity. One night our friendship turned to romance and it seemed as if we’d clicked. ‘You’re my soulmate,’ Paul told me. ‘I’m so in love with you,’ I replied.
Blissfully happy, Paul became like a dad to my kids, Jamie, then three, and Charlotte, then two. In time, we married and had four children together, Megan, Brad-lee, Mollie and Lilly.
But shortly after Lilly was born, I noticed a change in Paul. He’d become distant and was secretive with his phone.
One day I decided to have a look at his texts while he was out of the room. I opened the first one with my hands shaking. I can’t wait to be with you, I love you, it said. Paul was having an affair. But then another horrifying realisation dawned on me. The text wasn’t from a woman… it was from a man called Leo!
When Paul came back in,
I was in floods of tears. ‘Who is he?’ I sobbed. ‘I thought you said you loved me.’
‘I do. But I’m also in love with Leo,’ he replied. He explained he’d met Leo on a trip away three months earlier.
‘I knew you were attracted to men but I thought we were happy,’ I said sadly. It seemed things had changed.
Soon after, Paul said he was leaving to go and live with Leo in Devon. I was upset, but accepting too, and after he left, the kids and I tried to carry on as best we could.
‘Who is he’ I sobbed. ‘I thought you said you loved me.’
Gradually I began to date again and it came as a surprise when I fell pregnant. Ringing Paul to tell him the news, I couldn’t stop my true feelings tumbling out. ‘We miss you,’ I told him, and after that, he’d call me from time to time saying he missed us too.
The fact was, I was worried about how I’d cope being a single mum to seven kids, so I had a surprising suggestion. ‘Please come home,’ I begged Paul. ‘You can bring Leo. We just need you here with us.’ Paul agreed, and a year after he’d first moved out, he came home with Leo in tow. My hubby’s new man was tall, dark and handsome. ‘I can see what you like about him!’ I joked to break the ice. Paul and Leo slept in the living room and, while it was weird, I wasn’t jealous. Paul had left me for a man so I couldn’t compare myself to Leo, which made things easier.
Gradually, we even struck up our own friendship. Leo was great with the kids and often said how much he wanted to be a dad. That’s when I came up with another idea...
A few weeks from my due date, I sat Leo down. ‘Would you like to raise this baby with me?’ I asked. ‘I want you to be this baby’s dad.’ Leo was thrilled. ‘I’d love to,’ he said bursting into tears.
‘Would you like to raise this baby with me’ I asked.
The day I went into labour, Paul and Leo were with me too. Then Leo stayed by my side for the four days I was in hospital. When little Erin was born, I could tell he was pleased when the nurses called him ‘Dad’.
It might seem like a strange set-up for some, but it worked. And when I found out I was pregnant again after a brief relationship, we all knew that Leo should take on the role of father as well.
Our boy, Haydon, is now three and although Paul and Leo moved into their own place, we see them every day.
I never imagined I’d end up with two ‘husbands’. But I wouldn’t have things any other way.
I didn’t expect to meet Leo and end up having feelings for him but I did. Emotions took over and I thought, I can’t live this lie anymore. When I was a teenager I fancied boys and girls but then I met Jardine and we went from being really good friends to boyfriend and girlfriend. Looking back, there was a certain amount of pressure on me to be straight when we first got together. I was confused. But then we got together and we got on really well and we ended up being together for a long time.
After I met Paul, I fell in love with him and wanted to be with him. He moved to Devon but we decided to move in with Jardine because Paul wasn’t having a proper relationship with his kids. There was a lot of animosity between me and Jardine to begin with – I think she thought I was stepping on her toes. But after a while she realised I was going to be there for Paul and that she and the kids were part of the package. After that we became friends. Obviously it would have been difficult for me to have my own kids and she’s allowed me to do that. I’m grateful to her because I love being a dad.
This story originally appeared in that's life! Issue 3, 2014.