When I was younger, I had grown up around many people as my parents were very social. There was one man that was quite close to my uncle and my mother and father. My father and uncle had worked with this particular man and so I knew him so well from my childhood. We will call this man Todd. Todd was the usual tall, dark and handsome type who used to sit down with me when my parents were holding a party and play "Crash Bandicoot" on the Playstation. I cannot say that I really remember much about that time in my childhood but what I can say is that it was a hilarious time and that I really felt quite blissfully happy...even though there were still emotional demons I had to deal with.

I don't remember a time that Todd wasn't there when I was playing the game with a beer in hand and me just generally kicking ass!. However, I kind of had a crush on this guy when I was growing up. He was tall, dark, handsome...he was in the armed forces and had a GREAT sense of humor. I always felt special because of the attention he always gave me. He was just a BIG kid.

When I was 16 years old, I was at my uncle's engagement party and ended up coming face to face with my childhood crush and kind of felt strange because I still had a bit of a crush on him, but this time it was different. I knew I didn't stand a chance with this guy because I was just some young teenager, BUT he was still the same person...only this time when I saw him, he was with someone, and they had a baby! I was sure he had been in relationships when I was growing up, but I honestly do not remember any of the women he may have been with. We had quite an intellectually stimulating conversation as, at the time, I was quite mature and knew a lot more than people my age. He still made me feel like a special person and not like a little kid, but not in any way that would be perceived as inappropriate. I was the niece of his best friend. I never expected to be anything more than that. We danced that night and it was a laugh.

Two years later, my parents, my sister and I all went to my uncle's house for New Year's Eve. It had been a little bit of a routine over the last few years. We spent time with the extended family for Christmas and on New Years' we went to my uncle for the celebration, and had drinks and went swimming.

When we arrived, I had my long dark hair down, hanging over my shoulders with a natural wave in it. I was wearing a beautiful black maxi dress that actually looked really good on me. I was already wearing my bikini as I knew I wanted to jump straight in the pool with a bottle of "Lemon Ruski."

I hadn't expected to run into Todd LITERALLY as I walked into the house when we arrived. I was that much shorter than him that I actually hit my head on his chin!

We both laughed and he helped me take my bag inside. When everything was sorted and I was inside, I went straight outside and gave my uncle Barry a hug. He has been a HUGE part of my childhood and because of that, everything that happens next was a VERY important choice for me to make.

I sat down at the table and we started doing shots while the younger kids went inside and played. In front of me was my mother and father and to my right was my uncle while my step-aunt was in the pool. I was sitting next to Todd.

I was having a fantastic time, laughing and just generally enjoying the company I was in. I hadn't really had a conversation with Todd, he was just sort of there and we were all in conversation with each other.

As soon as I went to get up, my leg got caught on the chair and I stumbled until Todd put his hand on my hips to steady innocent movement until I looked up into his eyes to say thank you and saw that the childhood crush I used to have was still sort of there, BUT this time there was a flicker of something in his eyes too.

I turned away from Todd and went inside to get another drink. When I returned, nothing had changed, other than the fact that I could sense that Todd and I had a moment...I was a little confused. I really had forgotten about the childhood crush I had once had on this man and now, because of one simple gesture, it seemed to be back. Ugh, my head was playing tricks on me. He was just being nice.

I returned to my seat, wrapped my dress around my legs as it was starting to get hot and the fabric was clinging to my skin. I began drinking my drink when I almost choked on a mouthful as I felt his fingertips brush my bare skin for a fleeting moment. Luckily no one around me noticed my reaction and I actually swore it was an accident.

I composed myself really quickly and relaxed back into the conversation until it happened again. Only this time, his hand lingered on my knee. I decided I knew what I had to do. I got up and decided to go swimming.

It wasn't long until everyone else decided that it was too hot and jumped in the pool after me. It got really dark quite quickly which is strange during summer. However, Todd was sitting next to me and had been deliberately brushing his hand past my leg at any moment he could. It finally set in that he was interested in me and every time he touched me whilst my body flinched, my mind began easing to it. He was never inappropriate with me, but I also knew that nothing would ever come of it considering I probably wouldn't see him again after that night.

At this point, it was getting closer and closer to midnight and we were all a little drunk in the pool. Todd jumped out of the pool to get another round for everyone and as he went behind me around to my mother and father on the left, he leant down to my mum and whispered something in her ear. I tipped the last of my bottle into my mouth when I caught my mother's gaze burning directly into me as she responded to him.

I didn't know what their exchange was, so I started on my next bottle. The conversation dulled a little before picking back up to its normal pace when Todd got back into the pool.

The harmless oblivious flirting continued with Todd until midnight when we all jumped out of the pool.

I went out the front for a cigarette and as a little test to see if Todd would follow, and sure enough, he did.

I heard him coming up behind me and as I turned around, he pulled me close and placed his hand on my jaw before leaning down and kissing me passionately. I focussed on his kiss for a moment until I finally pulled away. The only thing that I could manage to say was "Happy New Year" before walking away from him and heading back into the house.

Before we left Todd and I exchanged numbers and he asked me to meet with him again. I brushed it off, thinking it wasn't going to actually happen and responded with "Sure" half-heartedly.

We were supposed to have stayed at my uncle's but little did I realize why we didn't end up staying. While we were in the pool, Todd had asked my parents if he could date me!!

Instantly I had an unsettling feeling in my stomach. We had barely said two words to each other that night, had shared one kiss by random accident and all of a sudden, he was asking my parents permission to date me? Things got really weird really quickly and I could find no rational reason for him to ask that question without actually discussing it with me first!

He really was a gentleman and when I messaged him about it earlier, he said that he would discuss it with me when we caught up.

It wasn't until February that I actually ended up catching up with him...I really did keep putting it off. There were many reasons, but the main one was that I wasn't sure I could be alone in a room with him because I was still very uncomfortable when alone in a room with men.

I arrived at his house at 2 pm that afternoon and he introduced me to his housemate who owned the house. We sat outside for a few hours before he went to get a beer.

I sat in a chair with my back facing the house and he was sitting in front of me. As it began getting dark, I sat there, basically chain-smoking. I was so nervous, but all we did was talk. He just kept staring at me the whole time we talked. I asked him why he was interested in me and when he knew he liked me. It was the only time he turned away from me in the entire conversation.

"I never saw you this way when you were younger, so please don't think that. I won't say that I was "interested" in you at Barry's engagement. However, I did notice you then. You seemed to have it all figured out, you were a strong woman who just knew what she wanted and you looked like you were going to achieve all your dreams. You were a long way from the little dark-haired girl I had known all those years ago. You really matured into a beautiful young woman. It knocked me over and to be honest. I really was shocked. I couldn't stop talking about it with my ex, how much you had grown up!" he responded wearily.

I then began to explain that I had hardened since then and the reasons why was because of my abuse etc. We sat in the same spot for hours and just talked. Another thirty or so minutes later, his housemate came outside and asked if I wanted anything. It seemed like a very harmless gesture and we began talking and laughing. He seemed like a very nice guy.

However, Todd began getting very irritated with him and began snapping. I really don't know why he did that as we were just talking and he was involved in the conversation.

His housemate ended up going inside and what seemed like a very peaceful night ended up putting a knot in my stomach that I just couldn't help but notice.

Todd turned towards me. My head was resting on my knees and a small light was coming from inside. There was something in his eyes I really didn't like.

"Can you move your head?" he said

I thought this was really strange and asked why.

He turned his head to the other side and said: "Because I can't see you and I want to look in your eyes."

At this point, I was feeling really uncomfortable. I knew he wasn't going to hurt me. It was more like I knew that this had run its course. He wasn't the man I once knew...he was damaged. I looked at my phone and realized it was 2 am. I actually don't remember telling my parents where I had gone until I realized that I told them I was out with a friend from school. I wasn't sure how my parents would have reacted to me going to Todd's and because at the time, I wasn't sure what it was, I thought it was best to keep it under wraps until I was sure it was something.

I made a subtle note of the time and told Todd that I had better get home. He offered for me to stay. I told him in no uncertain terms that I was not going to sleep with him and he responded by saying that he wasn't expecting me to. I told him that I should really get home and so he offered to drive me.

I accepted reluctantly and during the drive home, I was silent. He sensed something was wrong and kept asking me if I was ok before reaching for my hand and holding it.

About 10 minutes from my house, he began asking me when he could see me again and when we could tell my parents and my uncle that we were seeing each other. That instantly caught me off guard. I had already made up my mind that I would not enter into anything with Todd, yet I didn't know what to say. I told him that I really needed time because I needed to be sure and that my uncle was such a good friend of his that I didn't want anyone getting the wrong idea. What I really meant was that he was so unstable that I really didn't want to enter into a relationship with him but knew I had to let him down gently. I didn't know how to do that as we had known each other for so long and he was such a close friend of the family.

When he dropped me off, no one was awake. I went straight to my room and collapsed on my bed and fell asleep. I felt a little confused but knew I really wasn't interested...there was really only room for one damaged person in a relationship and I was nowhere near fixed yet. I couldn't carry his baggage around with my own and the way he spoke of his ex was just horrible!

For the next few weeks, I kept speaking to Todd but made more excuses as to why I couldn't catch up.

Eventually, things just fizzled out quite nicely. I was happy with how they had ended. We ended as friends as far as I was concerned. How VERY wrong I was! I was sitting out the back having a cigarette at my parents' house about a month after I had seen Todd and my mother joined me. She turned to me and said...

"What happened with you and Todd?"

I really didn't understand where this was headed.

"What do you mean?" I responded.

"He called Uncle Barry and was very drunk and started saying that you are exactly like his ex and played games with him."

I was furious! I told him that I really wanted to just be friends and then he went and said something like that! I was so angry. I couldn't understand why he would say horrible things about me when I had not done anything to hurt him. We weren't in a relationship and yet he was acting like we were. I didn't bother to message him or confront him. He said what he had to say and because of his treatment of me...I was done!