"I got married at a young age and had my first child at 21, two years after tying the knot. A baby usually marks a new chapter in a couple's life, but for me, it marked the start of the end of my marriage.
Strangers in the House
One day in 2004, my husband Zach* told me that his friend, Lena*, would be staying with us for a while. She was going through a bad divorce and needed temporary shelter for herself, her elderly mother and two young children. Zach sympathised with her predicament and wanted to help her.
I don't know why I agreed to take Lena in, especially when Zach used to have a major crush on her in school - she was the one who got away, he once told me. Yet, I felt neither jealousy nor suspicion.
I just wanted to support Zach's every decision.
We lived in a small flat - there was only one bedroom for us and our baby daughter - so Lena and her family slept on mattresses on the living room floor. Although our flat felt cramped, I didn't complain as I believed in good karma - if we helped Lena out, she might return the favour in future.
A Dangerous Game
Lena and I became close friends.
We treated each other like sisters, occasionally going on shopping sprees and indulging in girlie talk. I even helped to look after her kids when she was at work.
About three months after Lena moved in with us, Zach suggested a game of poker after supper, when the rest of the household was asleep.
The game started out harmlessly enough but after a few rounds, he cheekily proposed that the loser carry out a 'dare' thought up by the winner.
It sounded exciting, so Lena and I played along. We played three more rounds, all of which Zach won, while Lena lost.
I'm not sure if they rigged the game to ensure that the 'dare' stayed between the two of them. They might have, but I was naive enough not to suspect anything - I just laughed at Lena's bad luck.
Zach didn't issue the 'dares' immediately. It was quite late and he said he needed time to think up interesting things for Lena to do. 'I'll let you both know once I have something in mind. I will collect the dares in stages,' he teased.