Mayhem at midnight
My plans to propose on New Year's Eve ended in more than just fireworks...
There's nothing I like more than a New Year at home in front of the telly. A glass of wine, Jools Holland... and I was more than happy. But this year was going to be different.
Together with my friends and boyfriend Adrian Boardman, 24, we were going to hit the town.
As if that wasn't enough, when the clock struck midnight, and the fireworks burst open, I was going to ask him to marry me.
We'd only been together eight months, but we'd already talked about marriage. I didn't want to wait for him to get down on one knee.
As far as I was concerned, I'd met 'the one' - he wasn't getting away. Out with my best mate Becky one night, I'd literally bumped into Adrian in a bar. 'Steady,' I'd laughed, as he tripped and fell headfirst into my vodka and tonic.
'I'm so sorry, let me get you another,' he'd stuttered.
What a gentleman.
We started dating shortly after, and I was struck by how thoughtful he always was. He held doors open for me and ran me a bath when I got in from my receptionist's job.
Whenever my mum Joan popped round, Adrian would be the first to make her a cuppa. And, of course, he'd run her home as well.
'It's no trouble,' he'd insist. 'I'd rather you were safe.'
'This lad's a keeper,' Mum had insisted. 'Don't mess it up like you usually do.' Flaming cheek! Still, she had a point.
I usually dated losers. You know the kind - blokes who like a sex slave and skivvy rolled into one.
And if I mentioned having a quiet night in front of the telly, instead of one out on the tiles, there'd be hell to pay. 'You're so flippin' boring,' they'd shout.
Unsurprisingly, we always drifted apart.
Unlike me and Adrian. We had so much in common. As well as the usual films and music, we both had lifelong best pals.
Me and Becky had known each other since we were small. And when Adrian had told me he had a pal called Tom he'd grown up with, I couldn't wait to meet him. 'What's he like?' I'd begged.
'He's funny, and would do anything for anyone,' Adrian said.
'Just like you,' I'd grinned. Sure enough, when I'd first met Tom, I could see why Adrian liked him so much. He was charming, funny, kind and considerate.
He went straight to the bar when I'd arrived, and kept me entertained with funny stories all night.
'You and Adrian are so alike,' I'd told him later.
'Well, there's one difference,' Tom had giggled. 'I'm gay!'
My hand shot to my mouth in surprise. 'I was about to suggest setting you up with my mate Becky,' I'd chuckled. 'Guess I'm barking up the wrong tree.'
My ideas of me and Adrian double-dating Tom and Becky might have gone up in smoke, but I was delighted my man's best pal was so nice. At least they got on well. In fact, over the next few weeks, Tom and the rest of Adrian's pals regularly mixed with me and my mates.
We all got on so well, it was like we'd been friends for years.
'It's a sign we're meant to be,' Adrian had whispered, after we'd all gone out one Saturday night.
The next morning, after he'd stayed at mine, I'd woken to find a cuppa on the side, and Adrian looking lovingly into my eyes. 'I want to spend the rest of my life with you, Helen,' he'd whispered.
I hadn't been able think about anything else all day.
Me and Adrian forever - why not? We were soulmates.
That's when I'd hit upon the idea of asking Adrian to marry me. It would really make New Year's Eve a night to remember. And every New Year, come to that.
Now all I had to do was keep my plan secret - but I couldn't resist confiding in Mum and Becky, who were full of questions.
'Are you going to get down on one knee?' Becky asked.
'What about a ring?' Mum demanded to know.
'I'm not sure,' I laughed.
All I knew was that I couldn't wait to get engaged to Adrian.
We were so close, and we both hated it when we couldn't be together. 'I'll call you at lunchtime,' Adrian would promise as he left for his call centre job.
He would, too - spent his entire break chatting to me, even if he'd been on the phone all day.
And when he came round to mine later, it would be like we hadn't seen each other for weeks, never mind a few hours.
'I missed you so much,' Adrian would smile, as he pulled me into his arms.
We didn't live together, but we might as well have done for the amount of time we spent together.
His stuff was all over my
house, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
'This is what it'll be like when you're married,' Becky smiled.
Finally, New Year's Eve
I was such a bundle of nerves, I couldn't stop fidgeting.
'Are you okay?' Adrian asked. 'You don't seem yourself.'
'I'm fine,' I smiled. 'Just hate all these crowds.'
Adrian pulled me into his arms.
'I'll keep you safe,' he promised.
A warm glow swept through me.
In just a few hours' time, me and Adrian would be engaged.
As the countdown began, I turned around ready for my moment. Only, Adrian was nowhere to be seen.
I scanned the dancefloor and bar of the nightclub, but he'd vanished.
Five, four, three...
As the bells chimed midnight, I ran outside, racing up and down nearby streets frantically looking for my boyfriend.
'Have you seen Adrian?' I asked all my pals.
'No,' they all replied. 'Happy New Year!'
While everyone else hugged and cheered, worry pulsed through me.
What if he'd had an accident?
My mind went into overdrive as I imagined Adrian laying hurt in a gutter somewhere, unable to call out for help.
At the top of the High Street, I saw what looked like the back of his head.
Only, getting closer, I saw it couldn't be him.
This fella was locked in a passionate embrace. 'Whoops, sorry,' I said, creeping away.
Suddenly, the couple broke apart. It was Adrian.
And he hadn't been snogging another woman - he'd been
I felt weak with shock as Adrian pulled Tom closer.
'I'm sorry, Helen,' he said, shakily. 'I didn't want you to find out like this, not tonight, but... me and Tom have been together for a while now, and we're in love!'
I sank to the floor as the full horror of his words hit me like a brick.
Tonight was meant to be the most magical moment of my life. The night I'd look back on and treasure for years to come.
Now, it was a nightmare.
'But you're not gay,' I gasped.
'He's bisexual,' Tom butted in.
'You told me you loved me,' I shrieked, ignoring Tom. 'I just don't understand.'
'It's over,' Adrian said. 'Just accept it, Helen.'
With that, he walked off arm in arm with Tom.
I crumbled into a heap of sobs, unable to take it all in.
After that, everything passed in a blur until Becky came running out the club, found me and hailed a cab.
'Let me come with you,' she begged.
'No,' I replied. 'I just want to be alone.'
That cab ride was the longest and loneliest of my life.
All the way home, I kept replaying happy times me and Adrian had enjoyed together.
'This can't be happening,' I told myself. 'It's a mistake.'
Unlocking the front door, I went straight upstairs and to the wardrobe, where I found one of
Pulling it to my face, I breathed in his scent before collapsing on to the bed.
Smelling the musk that was unmistakably Adrian, I thought my heart would break.
Then, suddenly, heartache gave way to anger.
The man I loved had not only cheated on me - he'd cheated on me and left me for another man!
It wasn't as if I could even fight back with a Wonderbra and flash new haircut to win his heart again.
What a scumbag!
Before I could stop myself, I pulled all his clothes from the wardrobe and ripped them apart.
'This is what you've done to my heart, Adrian,' I yelled, as I pulled at his tattered clothes.
Waking the next morning, for a split-second I forgot the drama of the night before.
I rolled over to Adrian's side of the bed and leaned in for my usual morning hug. Nothing there but a cold pillow. The shock was as raw as it'd been the day before.
It was New Year's Day.
Everyone else in the world was making resolutions and making plans for the future.
Me? I'd thought it was all mapped out in front of me - and now, suddenly, I'd no idea. My future had been stolen from me.
Tears streamed down my face, and I found myself replaying my relationship with Adrian, desperate for clues.
But there was nothing.
No Steps CDs. No love of fashion, or even joining in with me when I lusted after Daniel Craig.
It turned out all those clich?s were just that - not a word of
truth in them.
Mum phoned at the crack of dawn to offer congratulations.
'I'm getting married in the morning...' she started to sing.
'I didn't ask him, Mum,' I cut in before she could put her foot in it any deeper.
'Why?' she exclaimed.
In between sobs, I told her the awful truth.
'I'll be straight round,' she said.
Half an hour later, she was on my doorstep, hugging me.
With her support, I started to come to terms with everything - until Adrian knocked on the door that afternoon.
'I've come to get all my stuff,' he shrugged.
'Here,' I said, bundling the torn clothes into his arms.
'You spiteful little...' he spat.
'Stop right there,' I snarled. 'You're lucky I only cut up your clothes!'
With that, I slammed the door
in his face, and sank back into
From then on, the days passed in a blur. For weeks, I couldn't eat or sleep. Instead, I tortured myself with thoughts of what Tom and Adrian were doing together.
I felt like a laughing stock.
Whenever I walked into my local pub, I could hear the whispers, the sniggers.
'Fancy not knowing your boyfriend's gay,' they'd hiss. But I genuinely hadn't seen the signs.
Slowly, I began to pick up the pieces of my life.
I threw myself into work, and even went on the odd date.
Then, three months ago, I was thrown into turmoil when Adrian phoned. We hadn't spoken since the day I'd chucked his tattered clothes at him.
'I think we should give things another try,' he said. 'Me and Tom have split up, he dumped me.'
Anger and longing washed over me in equal amounts.
Did he really think he could ask me out just like that after what he'd done?
But I still loved him despite everything, and had a massive Adrian-shaped hole in my life.
I knew there was only one answer I could give, though.
'Forget it,' I said, hanging up the phone. There was no way I could ever trust him again, there was no going back.
Now I'm still recovering from everything that happened, but I know I'll get there.
This New Year, I'm putting my feet up with a bottle of wine and watching the box.
There might not be any fireworks, but there won't be any nasty surprises like finding my fella locking lips with another
Call me boring, but as the clock strikes midnight, the only man in my house will be Jools Holland!
? Adrian Boardman, 24, Saddleworth, Manchester, says: 'It didn't work out between Tom and me because I realised I loved Helen and had made a terrible mistake.
'I'm still friends with Tom, but that's all.
'If I could turn back the clock, I'd start again, I wouldn't make the same mistake twice.
'I didn't agree with Helen cutting my clothes up, that was spiteful - but, in the heat of the moment, people do silly things, as I did on New Year's Eve.'
? Tom Chambers, 20, Manchester, says: 'I don't think Helen was right for Adrian. And, in the end, he wasn't right for me either.
'If it was going to work out between them, then Adrian wouldn't have gone out with me for six months.
'We're still good friends. I just hope Adrian and Helen can be, too.'
Helen McDermott, 25, Oldham, Manchester
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