Crystal's StorySite storysite.org

This version 14th October, 1999. Chapter 21 added, some minor revisions to earlier chapters (a couple of descriptions, typos, spelling etc).

Hi, This is only the second story I've ever written. It's still incomplete. I hope you like it.

Feel free to archive or otherwise distribute, provided it (and this preamble) is unedited and no fee is charged for access. This story may not be distributed from any site that charges money, is members-only, or uses that ridiculous "adult check" thing (or any similar system).

All rights reserved by the author, who can be contacted at rebecca7@cotse.com. You can find my other stories at fictionmania, nifty and crystal's site, and at my own pages at www.geocities.com/rebeccas_folly/

Becky

 

Marcia and Me                 by: Rebecca A.

 

Chapter 1. Saturday.

 

"You have great skin," Marcia said to me when the song ended. I looked over at her quizzically. We'd been lying on her living room floor listening to a CD, both a little exhausted from her attempts to teach me to dance earlier in the afternoon, and although I'd been staring at the ceiling while the song was playing she'd obviously been looking me over. I blushed.

"You're so lucky," she continued. I spend all my time cleaning mine and I still can't get it to look like that. And you're a boy."

It wasn't like Marcia Wilson was the ugliest girl in the neighborhood. She'd had about three pimples the whole time I'd known her. That was about three years, since Marcia had moved in next door. I was twelve then, she was fourteen, and at first it seemed like we had nothing in common. I was a kid compared to her worldly adolescence. Her brother Rob was a year older than me, but he was a jock and he regarded me with some disdain. He and I definitely had less in common.

I thought Marcia was smart and beautiful - more so as she got older. Her mother and my mother became friends, and so from time to time one or the other of us would go next door to find our moms and pass on phone messages or tell them we were going out or something while our mothers yakked half the day. That was when Marcia and I discovered we had similar tastes in music, and started swapping CDs and tapes and spending time together sharing whatever either of us had bought recently.

Not that I bought anything; it was all Marcia's contribution. Mom and I weren't doing too well since Dad had left, and even though he still sent some money I got the impression from Mom that it was irregular and really only barely covered the mortgage, and when she got retrenched from her job her savings were pretty much all we had to go on. Marcia's parents were rich, or so it seemed to me. Their house was easily the biggest in the neighborhood. It seemed Mrs. Wilson was always off shopping, sometimes taking Marcia with her and returning with more new clothes than I'd ever seen. Marcia's clothes wouldn't fit into the closet in her room. She had so many they also filled the huge closet in the spare bedroom they had. Even her brother Rob had more clothes than I'd ever seen, which was pretty funny for a guy his age. From what I could tell Mrs. Wilson was worse, Marcia told me the walk-in closet in her parents' room had barely any room for her father's things at all.

"Well," I said, "I'm younger than you, I guess my skin will get worse in a year or so." I decided to change the subject and got up to put on the new Bjork CD, one of Marcia's favorites. I was a bit sensitive about the fact that I hadn't really reached puberty yet. Fine hair had only just begun to show on my legs and around my genitals, but that was about all that had happened. Mom bought me a razor for my fifteenth birthday but I think that was more a symbolic thing or something, I hadn't needed to use it yet. My skin was, as Marcia had said a few moments ago, smooth as a five year old's.

Strangely enough I wasn't really in a hurry to go through all the changes that were in store for me. I had noticed in the locker rooms at school the things that had happened to the other guys in my year, and some of them seemed pretty scary, or at least uncomfortable. I couldn't imagine myself ever looking like that, though I knew I eventually would. I guessed that when it happened the guys would start being a little kinder to me and not tease me about my size and stuff so much. I didn't really get on too well with many of them, or really any of them - in fact Marcia was easily my best friend even if she did come up with some harebrained schemes that sometimes got us both into trouble.

Mom had commented a couple of times over the last year or so that I didn't seem terribly happy. She was pretty perceptive. I hadn't really been able to figure it out myself, but every now and again I wondered why it was that life just didn't feel right. It wasn't just school, it was... well, a lot of stuff. Lack of confidence or something I guessed. I didn't say anything to Mom about these feelings though, and I never told her how much I hated school. I never liked to tell her stuff that would worry her.

 

***

 

Chapter Two. Saturday Morning.

 

The next Saturday Marcia was over at my place where I was taping her latest CD purchases and she did it again. "You know, Chris, you're going to have to get your hair cut soon, it's starting to frizz at the ends and pretty soon it'll be as long as mine"

"Yeah, right," I said dismissively. My mom cut my hair the last time for my cousin Beth's wedding cause she couldn't afford to send me to someone, and she did such a terrible job I had vowed never to let her do it again. Because of the bad cut in the first place it was pretty much a shaggy mess eight months later, and did need a trim, but there wasn't much we could do about it short of me putting myself at her mercy again. I was taking a bit of ribbing at school about looking like Cousin It.

"Why don't you get it cut?" she asked.

"Well, if you must know, it's because I can't afford it." I said.

"Oh, sorry, I didn't realize things were that bad."

"It's okay, forget it."

"Sorry. It's just that you've actually got really beautiful hair, it would look great if you tidied it up a little," Marcia said. Then, with that same look she'd given me the week before, she said "Why don't you let me cut it?"

"Thanks, but no thanks. You'll do a worse job than my mom did" I snorted.

"Well, I wouldn't have to take much off it, you know, not a proper cut or style or anything, just even it up and take off the split ends and stuff." I obviously still looked doubtful, because she continued. "I did my friend Joanie's a few weeks ago, you know it was just a matter of about a half inch off in a straight line at the back, it was easy."

For some insane reason I suddenly thought "what the hell." I mean, I was eventually going to get it cut a lot shorter anyway, so if she just cut it a little I figured I could have any mistakes she made cut out later. And if she really screwed it up my mom would have to send me to a professional rather than risk making it worse herself. Which would be okay, I was kind of ready for short hair again. Life had been kind of boring lately, so taking a small risk like that seemed okay.

"Just even the ends up, right?" I said.

"Yes, I promise."

Pretty soon I was sitting on a stool in her bathroom. Her brother Rob was out with his new girlfriend, Tanya, and Marcia's folks were off shopping for a new car, so we had the place to ourselves. I sat there waiting for her to begin.

"Take off your shirt," Marcia said.

"Why? You're cutting the hair on my head, right, not my chest!" I spluttered.

"You don't have any hair on your chest," she said. I blushed, and she said apologetically "It's to stop the hair getting caught on your shirt and making you itch. I'll get a t-shirt for you if you're worried about getting cold, you can wear that instead and I'll just wash it when we're done."

She left and came back in with a t-shirt. I took off my shirt and pulled the one Marcia gave me over my head. It was one of those scoop-neck things with short capped sleeves, obviously a girl's top instead of a proper t-shirt.

"Very funny," I said. I guess one of Rob's was out of the question?"

It did look pretty silly, and Marcia grinned. "I don't go into Rob's room unless I have too, he's funny about it. It's okay, it's only for a while." She straightened my head so I faced her and said "Anyway, you look kind of cute."

"Don't push your luck," I said.

Marcia combed my hair out and began trimming the ends. At first I couldn't see what she was doing because of the hair hanging over my eyes, but it didn't seem like she was cutting very much. Then she started spending a lot of time on the bits hanging around my face. Finally she finished and stood back. I turned, and saw past her to the mirror. Oh god, she'd given me bangs!

"That looks better," she said, obviously unaware that I could see what it looked like.

"Yeah, if I was aiming to look like Angela McKinnon," I snorted. Angela was a girl at school who was so Laura Ashley it was nauseating. "You'll have to cut the rest of it now." I looked at the mirror again. It was kind of weird, actually. I looked a lot like a younger version of my mom. I'd never noticed that before.

"What do you mean?," said Marcia, in what I assumed was an attempt at innocence.

"It's a girl's cut, Marcia. Cut the sides a bit and it won't look so bad." I started to reach for the scissors but she pulled them away.

"Well, I like it" Marcia smiled, as though assessing my hair for the first time. "Do me a favour, will you?"

"What? I'm not going anywhere or anything, okay. Not until you fix this."

"No, nothing like that. But you should wash it. I'll finish cutting it, but I'd just like to have some fun with it first, okay?" She had her best winning smile coming up, I could see the beginnings of it.

"Fun?" I said suspiciously.

"Oh, come on, it'll be great. Let me see how this can look."

What the hell. I went and took a quick shower and washed my hair as per Marcia's instructions. She handed me a bottle of conditioner with strict instructions that I was to leave it on for at least ten minutes before rinsing and applying a second conditioner. The stuff stank but I left it on as she asked. As I was drying myself off Marcia knocked on the door and handed me a robe to wear, something fluffy and white. The sleeves came down over my hands, but it felt great to wear. I came out and sat at her dressing table while she went to work.

After a bunch of gunk went into my hair she started to dry it, working it with her fingers, then began to use a curling iron to wrap it into really big curls. Halfway through she saw me looking at what she was doing in the mirror, so she grabbed the towel I had used and draped it across the mirror so I couldn't see. Before she got to drying off the hair over my eyes she stopped and pinned it back, and then I saw her coming at me with a pair of tweezers.

"No way," I squeaked.

"It'll look completely natural, I promise. I'm just going to tidy them up a tiny bit. You don't want to look like a monobrow, do you?"

That was carrying things a bit far. My eyebrows hadn't thickened at all yet, in fact I think they were finer than hers. But as she bent over me I got a good view down the front of her shirt, and a whiff of her smell, a clean, sweet smell from whatever soap she used, and I succumbed. I didn't usually think of Marcia in a really sexual way, but all this attention from her was starting to have an effect on me. And it was all a little bit kinky, too, I thought, as I felt her tug at a few eyebrow hairs. I'd worn women's clothes before, when I was younger as a kind of joke when we got into the dress-up bin at school, but I'd never tried to look like a woman. As Marcia surveyed the results of her handiwork and went back to drying off my hair I began to wonder why it was that I wasn't objecting quite so much to what she was doing. Did this mean I was weird, or what?

She finished with my hair and stepped back to admire her work. I started to get up to reach for the towel and pull it from the mirror, but she put her hand on my shoulder and pushed me back down. "Unh Unh" she said. "Not until I've finished."

"Aw, come on Marcia."

"Don't spoil it. It won't kill you to do this once. Besides, I think you like it."

I didn't say anything. She was right, and I couldn't lie to her, but I didn't want to admit it. I was starting to feel really weird. If this didn't mean I was queer, did it mean I was developing a crush on Marcia? I liked her and all that, but... She brushed some pinkish-brown powder over my face, applied a little eyeliner and mascara, then finally got me to purse my lips so she could put some lipstick on me.

"Ta da!" Marcia said, pulling the towel from the mirror.

I was shocked. I had expected to see me in makeup, but that wasn't how things looked at all. I looked like someone else. I looked older, but I looked like a girl. Like a young woman. A lot like my mom in the photo of her and Dad when they started dating that was still on the bookshelf in the living room at home.

"Pretty good, huh?," said Marcia.

I was still reeling. My head was framed in a mass of hair, big curls cascading down to my shoulders. It was a lot lighter than it had been, too. Blond. Blonde. Except for the lipstick I didn't really look like I was wearing makeup at all. In fact, I looked great. In the big fluffy bathrobe I realized with something of a shock that I looked pretty. I looked like the kind of girl I'd like to date.

"Uh, it's..." I really couldn't think of anything to say, and my voice trailed off.

"Yeah, you look good. Better than I look in that robe."

I raised my hand to my hair and patted it, then stopped, self-conscious that what I had just done was what a woman does with her hair.

"I thought it needed a little lightening," said Marcia.

"Will it change back?" I asked, suddenly anxious. What was I going to do at school on Monday? "Will it get darker when I wash it?"

"Not really, but if we cut it again people will just notice the change in length more than the colour, so don't worry about it." I must have looked unconvinced, because she shrugged and said "Time for the rest of it."

She strode over to the closet and began going through racks of clothes. "The subtle casual look," she said, as she pulled out a short black skirt and a pretty blue blouse. "Stand up," she commanded as she walked back to where I was sitting.

I did as she asked. She held the clothes up to me, as if assessing my size.

"You're looking kind of spacey, Chris," she said. "Lighten up"

"I'm okay," I said. " I was just kind of expecting to look a little different."

"Well, might as well go all the way, hey," she said, handing me the clothes. I stood there holding them stupidly as she sorted through a couple of drawers to find something else. Finally she handed me some lingerie and something else made of black nylon. "Put these on underneath."

I hesitated. Finally Marcia realized that I was waiting for her to leave the room before I changed.

"Oh, okay. Guess I wasn't thinking then. You really kinda look like a girl" she said. "Do you need any help with any of that?"

I looked at the clothes in my hands. How complicated could they be? Marcia stepped out of the room, then poked her head round the door to ask if I'd like a soda. I said sure and she went downstairs to get some while I undressed.

I took off the robe and picked up the underwear. It was just a bra and panties. I wondered briefly whether it was necessary to go to that length in this experiment, then looked at the chair on the other side of the room where I'd left my own clothes and realized that my own underwear had disappeared anyway. So I tried the panties on. They felt pretty good, actually. I was kind of surprised. I had thought maybe they'd be really uncomfortable, on account of having to hold a little extra in. They bulged a little at the front, though only a little. To make them more comfortable I adjusted myself, and tucked myself back into them.

I caught another glimpse of myself in the mirror. That was too weird. I still looked like a girl, only one with absolutely no chest, like someone had taken a photo of a normal girl and then airbrushed out her breasts or something. I realized my body was still underdeveloped enough that I just looked immature rather than masculine. It was vaguely disconcerting, but somehow kind of interesting, too.

Then I looked at the bra. There hardly seemed much point, really, considering it wasn't going to be supporting anything, but I put my arms through the straps and did it up. That was surprisingly easy, too, and it didn't really feel that strange. I looked at the mirror again, and noticed that the bra cups protruded just enough to give the illusion - at a casual glance - that I had breasts. I pulled on the skirt, buttoned it at the side, then did up the blouse, with some difficulty until I realized all the buttons were on the wrong side. Well, the right side for a girl's blouse, but ...

Marcia came back into the room just as I was doing up the last of the buttons. "Wow," she said, handing me the soda. "That was a good choice. Blue is definitely your color."

I turned back to the mirror to look. Something was not quite right. Marcia came over holding the bits of black nylon, which I recognized as stockings now, and told me to put them on. They were solid black, and only came up to mid-thigh. I'd seen the style around a lot, so I knew that was how they were supposed to look. Marcia then came back over with a couple of flesh-colored bits of nylon, and I looked at her with some puzzlement. She bent over me and began to unbutton the top of my blouse. I sat rigid, wondering what was going on, but she scrunched the nylon up into two balls and placed them in the cups of the bra. "That's better," she said. "Not great, but it'll do for now." I looked at the mirror again and saw that whatever it was that hadn't been quite right was fixed now.

I should have been more wary of her words "for now," but as I looked at myself in the mirror again I wasn't thinking about too much except that I looked like someone completely different. I was a babe, there was no other way to put it. It was the strangest feeling, to be me, but to be someone I'd never met before.

"Well, what do you think?," Marcia asked. "Not bad for a quick makeover!"

"It's ... well, it's certainly different," I said, breaking into laughter. Marcia began to laugh, too.

"If you were really a girl, I'd be jealous" she said. "As it is I think you're pretty hot!"

I blushed, and looked at my feet.

"Oh yeah, shoes," said Marcia. She picked out a pair of low-heeled chunky shoes and got me to try them on. "How do they fit?"

Actually they fit very well, though they were slightly on the big side for me. "Try walking" said Marcia, and I did. The feeling of the skirt brushing against my legs was interesting, it made me feel very conscious of what I was wearing but it wasn't at all unpleasant. After I'd done two short trips across the room she gathered up the now empty soda cans and led me down the stairs. As we passed through the living space I was conscious that the huge windows to the street gave anyone outside a good look in at me, and I was suddenly acutely self-conscious. What if my mom looked across from our place?

 

***

 

Chapter 3. Saturday. Lunch Time.

 

Marcia fixed us both some lunch, a light salad. Ordinarily she would have offered me more, I realized as I was eating. We began to chat about the dinner Marcia was planning to cook for some friends next Friday evening while her parents were away. Most of the kids at school would have just had a big, raucous party, but Marcia had decided she wanted to do something elegant, so she was holding a dinner party for her three best girlfriends from school and they were each inviting a boy. I had kind of hoped when she mentioned she was doing it that she might have asked me, but of course she was going to ask Mike, the captain of the football team who Marcia was quietly keen on.

As we talked, Marcia kept joking with me about how wonderful I looked, about how I looked much better than I did as a boy. At first it was kind of subtle, but then it started to get under my skin. Dammit, I was a boy, and I mightn't have been some muscle-clad jock like her brother but I wasn't a total failure at it. Things would change in a year or two, I knew they would. My hormones just hadn't got into action properly yet.

"So, come here often?," she asked jokingly.

"No, I'm the shy and retiring type," I said.

"Yeah, right," said Marcia. "The way you look, you'd be a big hit anywhere."

I wondered about that last comment. She wasn't thinking I was going outside like this, was she? That wasn't part of the deal.

"When are your parents due home?," I asked, suddenly conscious of the time.

"Oh, not until at least five," Marcia said. "Unless Dad gets impulsive and buys something sooner." I must have looked perturbed because she immediately added "but you know him, he researches everything to within an inch of its life"

"Well, I should get changed anyway," I said, standing up and taking our plates across to the dishwasher.

"Not so fast," said Marcia. As I turned around she was holding a camera. She opened the cover, aimed it at me, and squeezed the button. The flash dazzled me, then dazzled me again. As she took photo after photo I began striking poses. I did a particularly vampy look by the doorway to the living room, then Marcia had me lie on the rug near the fireplace and try to look sexy. "You do know how to look sexy, don't you?," she said, laughing.

I grabbed the camera from her and took a snap of her as she laughed, and then she grabbed it back from me and we began to wrestle to see who could get control of it. We were laughing and rolling on the floor when I suddenly became aware that someone had just walked through the room. Marcia sensed it, too, because she stopped attacking me and called out "Hello?."

Rob stuck his head back around through the door he'd just left through. "Hey Sis, you looked like you were busy so I didn't interrupt" He was being sarcastic. I always thought Rob acted like a jerk toward Marcia, but I guess she gave as good as she got.

"I thought you were out with Tanya"

"She had a headache. Can you believe it?," said Rob. Marcia exchanged glances with me, like "of course she had a headache, wouldn't you?." I didn't respond, I was rigid with fear as I realized that Rob was going to have this little adventure of Marcia's and mine all over school by lunchtime Monday. Actually, make that tomorrow, he'd make a point of ringing everyone he knew just to tell them.

But Rob was still hanging in the doorway, looking at the two of us. Finally he said to Marcia "Well?"

"Well what," she said.

"Aren't you gonna introduce me to your friend?"

"I thought you were too busy to stop and say hi," Marcia shot back quickly. "But you're right. This is Jenny. Jenny, my adorable brother Rob."

I couldn't believe it. He didn't recognize me? This was too much. Sure, we didn't see a lot of one another, but I lived next door! I looked different, but how different?

"Nice to meet you, Jenny" said Rob. All of a sudden I became aware of the way he was looking at me. I'd never been looked at that way before, and I wasn't sure I liked it.

"Uh, yeah. Hi" I said, in what must have sounded a very flat voice. Rob looked momentarily disappointed, and then disappeared from the doorway again. Marcia and I heard him going up the stairs, and then finally could hold it no longer and burst out laughing. If he heard us he must have assumed we were laughing at something to do with him, because he didn't come back.

"That was great!' said Marcia

"That was weird!" I said. "Really. How dumb is your brother?"

Marcia kept laughing. "Chris, this has made my year."

"Speaking of which," I said, "What's with this name 'Jenny"?"

"It was just the first name that popped into my head. I don't know. I suppose it was a better choice than your real name."

We both laughed again. "He has to figure it out," I said. "Nobody can be that stupid."

"No, it makes sense," said Marcia. "His brain wasn't working. His first response when he saw you properly was to think sex."

I swallowed, not wanting to think about that.

"So he didn't figure that he knew you, he invented a whole new space for you in his head." She paused, then laughed again and added "The one marked 'babes'."

"I'm thinking this is getting a bit too strange," I said, suddenly anxious again. "I need to get changed, Marcia. Now."

"Well, I don't think you can do it here, with Rob in the house" said Marcia. She had a point. But I didn't want to hang around and give Rob a choice to see more of me. I said so to Marcia, and she agreed that he'd probably figure it out eventually if he had a chance to talk to me.

"We could go out," said Marcia.

"No way," I retorted. "Besides, he'll still be here when we come back."

"Well, if we stay here he's going to figure it out for sure, eventually. I mean, you look really different, but you still talk like Chris, and you move like a boy"

"So what do we do?"

"I think we should call Becky and see if you can change at her place."

I wasn't sure about that. Becky was a friend of Marcia's from school. She always seemed nice the few times I'd met her, but I really didn't know her too well and wasn't sure this was a way I wanted to present myself to her. But Marcia was up and at the phone. "It's busy," she said. "Well, at least that means she's home. Come on, let's get out of here"

Marcia went upstairs and returned with my clothes stuffed into a shopping bag, then ushered me out the door. "I told Rob we were headed to Becky's."

"So how are we getting there?"

"It's not so far, I figured we could walk. That's how I usually get there."

Walking. I started to feel strange the minute we stepped out the door. Rob might be dumb, but I was sure everyone else was going to see straight through me and see a guy in a skirt. What if a cop car cruised past as we were walking? I didn't want to spend a night in jail.

As we walked down the path to the street I was feeling like I was going to throw up, I was so nervous. Fortunately we turned left to go to Becky's so we didn't have to walk past the front of my house -- I don't think I could have done that under any circumstances.

I was starting to get kind of mad with Marcia. Whenever I let her talk me into a bit of "fun" things always went slightly wrong. This was just one more example, I guess. Here I was, in broad daylight, wearing a skirt down the street I lived in.

After about ten minutes of walking we turned into the main street. Santa Rosita is mostly an old town, and there's been a community effort to maintain the old buildings. So although there's a mall on the outskirts of town there's still a lot of stores and traffic in the centre of town too. Cars were cruising past us slowly as we walked, but the occasional shopper paid us no attention as we passed. Still, after a few moments Marcia looked across at me and made me stop walking. "You've got to learn to walk differently," she said. She explained that I was still moving like a guy; that women moved differently. I more or less knew what she was saying, I just hadn't thought about it. I was gonna argue with her that I was only gonna be dressed as a girl for a few more minutes, but I felt very self-conscious of myself out there on the street, so I did what she told me and we walked on, me swinging my arms a little more and standing a bit straighter. "That's much better," she said. It did feel better, actually.

Then Marcia stopped at the door to a little antique store. "What's up?," I said. "Let's go." But Marcia was looking at an old pair of earrings in a cabinet just inside the store.

"Quiet" she said, "or people will notice." I was agitated, but I did as she asked. As we walked on, she said "Chris, if you're gonna talk you have to make your voice a little musical, like girls do."

"Musical?"

"Yeah, less of a monotone." She demonstrated a sentence the way she would say it, then tried to imitate me, which cracked me up. "That's better, you're smiling again," Marcia said. "You haven't done that since we left the house." She made me try saying some things more 'musically' as we walked, corrected me when I got too sing-song, and eventually pronounced "that's better - still not exactly right, but much better."

I started to feel a little more confident. We'd walked past lots of Saturday afternoon shoppers, and none of them had stared at us. I'd had a couple of glances from a few guys, like the kind that Rob had given me, but it seemed they actually thought I was a girl. So I stopped panicking about everything, and as Marcia and I walked on and we began talking about the new Aaron Spelling show that had started the week before I began to forget that what I was doing was kind of freaky.

"I think you've got the voice thing down," Marcia said. That's when the car stopped next to us. Driving it was Mike, the guy Marcia was keen on. There was another guy in the passenger seat. I thought I'd seen him at school, but I wasn't sure.

"Hey, Marcia," Mike called.

We stopped walking. Marcia went over to the car, and I followed a few steps behind.

"What's happening?" Mike asked.

Marcia explained that we were just on our way over to Becky's place, and Mike suggested that they could drive us. I was trying to smile and shake my head 'no' at the same time, but Marcia wasn't paying too much attention to me anyway. She agreed, and opened the back door to the car. I hesitated before getting in -- I didn't know these guys, but I guess Marcia knew Mike well enough. I got in, trying to smooth my skirt under me as I sat down, to see Mike twisting around in the driver's seat to say hello. I could see him sizing me up in that same way I'd already experienced with the other men who'd looked at me.

"Uh, Mike, Paul, this is Jenny," said Marcia. She was still going along with it. That made sense, I guess. I knew she trusted Mike, but who knows how this Paul would have reacted to finding a boy in a skirt in the back of the car. I couldn't really see him properly, just the back of his head. He half twisted around and he and Mike said "Hi Jenny" almost in unison.

"Nice to meet you," I said, trying to keep my voice "musical" as Marcia had suggested. I had to admit it sounded better than the time I spoke to Rob. Marcia gave me a smile and a little nod of approval. We drove off, and Mike and Marcia did all the talking, about the two parties that were on tonight and which one was the better to go to. Very soon we were at Becky's, and as we thanked the boys and were climbing out of the car Mike said to Marcia, "so, tonight at 7.30?." Then Paul turned to me and said "How about you, Jenny? There's a few of us going to this party. Want to come along?"

I was about to say no when Marcia said "Cool. Why don't you pick us both up from my place?"

I was stunned. The boys pulled out of the drive and roared away as Marcia and I walked to the front door.

"What was that about?," I demanded.

"It was easier than making excuses. You don't have to come, I can say you had a headache or something. Anyway, it's not like it's a date or anything, it's just a bunch of us going to a party."

Marcia rang the doorbell. "Hey, do me a favor and wing it with Becky, okay? Then you can get changed."

I was still trying to work out why Marcia had included me in the evening's plans. There was no way that I'd be invited, or welcome, as Chris. Everyone at the party would be older than me, and they'd be part of the inner circle that surrounded the football team and the girls that dated them. Anyone who was geeky, like me, would definitely not be invited. I'd never been to one of those kind of parties. Still, there was no way I was going to go as Jenny. That would be just way too strange.

Becky opened the door, and Marcia introduced me and said we were passing and thought we'd see how she was doing, but we couldn't get her on the 'phone. Becky invited us in, apologizing 'cause she'd been on the 'phone to another friend. And she just hated call waiting. She thought it was so rude to interrupt someone just because there was another call.

I was amazed once again. Clearly she didn't get it, either. She chattered on to Marcia for a minute, then turned to me and said "I haven't seen you around town before, Jenny. What brings you to Santa Rosita?"

Marcia, always quicker than me, jumped in. "She's just visiting. Her family's thinking of moving here, and they came to check the place out." Where did she get this stuff from?

"Well, hope you like it," Becky smiled. "We think it's a bit of a snooze, but mostly it's okay."

I looked across at Marcia. We had come here for a purpose, and she'd had her fun with Becky, now was the time to put an end to this. I tried to catch her eye, but she and Becky were babbling on about someone I didn't catch, so I sat back and waited for Marcia to get the hint. In a few minutes I was drawn into the conversation, too. They were, of course, talking about boys, and Becky asked me what I thought of Paul, the guy who'd been in the car with Mike. I replied that I didn't really know him yet, and Becky looked at me kind of strangely and said, "No, I meant the way he looks"

"Oh," I said, trying to recover. I hadn't given that any thought at all. Good, I supposed, if you liked a lot of muscle. "Great. Maybe a little on the heavy side."

"Jenny likes the scrawny ones," said Marcia, laughing. I scowled. We talked on. Apparently Marcia now had no intention of telling Becky. I tried to give her a few signals, but mostly I just enjoyed sitting and talking. I liked Becky, she was funny, kind of in a sarcastic way which made me think of how she could cut someone down with a few words if she wanted to, but I could sense she was a good person inside, she liked to laugh at so many things. She wasn't exactly pretty, at least not in a conventional sense, because she affected something of a goth look, kind of 'goth-lite' as Marcia called it. But she sure was striking with her dark hair and pale skin and full red lips. And she had a great figure.

Finally I could sense that Marcia was going to tell Becky, and all this would be over. It was pretty late now, after 5.30, and I had had enough. Well, actually I really enjoyed the conversation, and the chance to hang out with Becky, and apart from the sheer terror of being out in public I'd had more fun with Marcia than I'd had in ages. I wasn't really having to think about the way I talked and walked and moved and stuff, but a little part of me was exhausted from all the tension and I needed to stop. Eventually Marcia said to Becky "So, have you noticed anything weird today"

"Apart from Denise Convey inviting me to her party tonight, you mean? No."

Marcia was just beginning to speak when we heard the front door open, and Becky's parents entered. Great. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry as I was introduced to both of them. Becky then said "wow, look at the time." It was almost 6.00

Marcia stood up. "Time for us to move ourselves on, Jenny. Mind if I use the bathroom, Becky?"

"Knock yourself out, but hurry. I gotta get ready, Brad's taking me for a bite to eat before the party," Becky said, as Marcia went off to the bathroom.

"Do you girls need a lift home?," Becky's Dad asked me.

"Oh, don't worry Mr. Connor," I started to say, but he maintained it was no trouble and in a few minutes Marcia and I were in his Lexus and headed down Main Street back the way we'd come earlier in the day. When we pulled up outside Marcia's place we thanked him and began to walk up the drive toward her house as he pulled away.

"Jeez, well that was a really productive trip to Becky's," I said sarcastically.

Marcia looked slightly wounded. "Well, after we got there and got to talking, I don't know, I just seemed to forget about it for a while. You make a terrific girl, you know that? I had a great time, and so did Becky. I almost wish you were always a girl, it's fun."

I honestly didn't know what to say to that. Did she mean she didn't like me as a guy? She must have noticed my expression, because she continued. "Not that I don't have a great time with you as Chris. But today's been fun, hasn't it? And you are very good at being a girl, you have to admit that."

I sighed. I had enjoyed it. But now I was still trapped. "Maybe I can jump the fence and climb through a window," I said, looking across at my house, but I knew there was little chance of that. Mom had gone through a security phase after dad left and installed extra locks on the windows.

"Let's just tough it out," I finally said to Marcia. "I know Rob is gonna spread it right through the school when he finds out, but I don't see what else we can do. I mean, I can't just go home like this, my mother would freak completely."

We walked in to Marcia's house through the kitchen door. Her father was getting ice from the refrigerator for some drinks. "Hi Dad," said Marcia.

"Hi Hon," her father said. "How was your day. This must be Jenny"

Both of us looked at him blankly. "Rob mentioned you were together," he said. "It is Jenny, isn't it?"

"Um, yes," I squeaked.

"We have to get ready for the party tonight," said Marcia, leading me by the hand through the kitchen.

"Nice to meet you, Mr. Wilson," I said in what I hoped sounded like a sweet voice as Jenny pulled me into the living room. Mrs. Wilson was sitting with her back to us, reading a magazine.

"Hi Mom," Marcia said as she half-dragged me through the room. "we're just going upstairs to change for the party."

Marcia's Mom twisted in the chair to look at us, but only caught a glimpse as we left through the door to the hallway and the stairs. "That's nice," she called vaguely.

We got to the top of the stairs, to see Rob coming out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel. I had to admit I was impressed by his body, he obviously worked out a lot to keep it in that shape. He looked me up and down again and said "Hi Sis, hi Jenny. How you doin'."

"Fine," said Marcia, trying to lead me past him on the landing.

"You going to the Convey party tonight?" He asked Marcia.

"Yes. Mike's taking me." Marcia said. "You're not, are you?"

"Well, I haven't got an invite, but since Tanya's sick tonight I thought maybe me and the boys might head up there later on"

Yeah, I'm sure all the seniors are just gonna love that," said Marcia sarcastically as we reached her room and went inside. Once again we collapsed with laughter.

"This is great," said Marcia. "Jenny, I can't believe how wild this is."

She'd called me Jenny when we were alone. I let it pass. I was laughing, too. I couldn't figure it out. Were these people really stupid, or what? But then I saw myself in Marcia's mirror again I stopped laughing. It was true. I did look like someone different. I wasn't sure how I'd ever get to look like the old me. Was I going to have to shave my head, or what?

We sat on Marcia's bed, trying to work out what I was going to do that night. Clearly I couldn't change and leave as Chris, because the Wilson's were expecting to see Jenny leave. Then I realized. The clothes! "Where are the clothes?"

"What clothes?"

"My clothes." We'd had them in a shopping bag when we left Marcia's house.

"Uh, did you take them out of the car when we got to Becky's?"

They were still in Mike's car. God only knew what he'd think when he found them there.

I lay down on the bed and looked up at the ceiling, trying to work out how this had gone so totally out of control. I couldn't change back if I wanted to. Now I had to go home like this. For a few minutes neither of us spoke. Then Marcia lay back on the bed beside me, and began stroking my arm. "I'm sorry," she said. "I kind of got you into this."

"There's not too much 'kind of' about it" I said, and then regretted it. It wasn't really Marcia's fault. I'd gone along with everything. I'd even had fun. "I guess if I stay out late I can go home when Mom's already asleep and she won't notice."

"So, what are you going to do until then?"

"I could stay here."

"No, my parents would think that was strange. I think you better come to the party with me."

"Unh unh. No way. I'm not cut out for going to those kind of parties as a guy, I definitely couldn't handle it as a girl "

"Actually, I think you could handle it much better." Marcia's voice had gotten low, and she moved from stroking my arm to touching my neck. It felt very soothing as I lay there. She raised herself on the bed a little and leant over me. "Jenny, don't take this the wrong way, but I think this was really good, what we did today. Don't you?"

"I enjoyed it," I admitted without thinking. Oh God! What was I saying! I tried to roll over away from her, but her hand on my shoulder stopped me. She kissed me lightly on the forehead and laid me back down.

"It's okay, I knew you would," Marcia said.

She was right. She'd known this would feel good for me. Had she planned it? No, that wasn't so important. The bigger question was, why did it feel right? "Oh, God. Marcia, am I weird?"

"No hon, I think everybody needs to do some exploring some time." She was back to stroking my throat. "Think of it that way, it's just a bit of exploring." And then she kissed me on the lips.

I'd never been kissed on the lips before. Ever. I mean, I've never been able to attract girls, so there's never been any opportunity. Marcia's kiss was gentle and sweet, not too long but warm and soft, and it kind of did something to me. I just lay there and let her do it. She lifted her head a little and smiled at me. "I've never kissed a girl before," she said.

"Neither have I," I said without thinking. I was going to have to watch what I said more. "I mean, I'm not a girl"

"You look like one," Marcia said. "But maybe that's why I did it, 'cause you look like one but you're not."

I reached up to her, but she pulled her head back further. She continued stroking my neck. "You're a good friend," she said softly. "Maybe my best friend. Let's not complicate this too much."

I was disappointed. She had started this. But she was right. I didn't want to complicate things with Marcia, of all people. She wasn't just my best friend, she was one of my only friends.

"Okay" I said. Then I got up off the bed. "May as well make the best of the rest of the evening."

"Say what?"

"Well, if I'm stuck in these clothes, and can't go home 'til late, let's do something. I can't very well walk the streets waiting until my Mom goes to sleep, can I? I'll have to stay with you."

"So you'll come to the party?," Marcia said, getting up from the bed and holding my hands.

"I guess so. Nobody will know me there anyway. I may as well take this as far as it can go," I said. A little voice inside me told me I was making an enormous mistake.

Marcia hugged me tight, and tried to jump us both up and down. "Yippee!" she squealed. "This is gonna be *lots* of fun. You won't regret it." She went over to her wardrobe and began to sort through her clothes, looking for something. "I'm gonna make you look great," she said.

"What's wrong with what I'm wearing?," I asked. "It seems to have worked pretty well so far."

"No, this is a party. You want something ... exciting," said Marcia.

 

***

 

Chapter 4. Saturday Evening.

 

I got undressed and wore the fluffy robe to the bathroom. Rob saw me again as I was going in, and I could feel his eyes on me as I entered. Inside, I did as Marcia had instructed. I tied my hair up so as not to get it wet again, then ran the shower. In the shower I did as Marcia had instructed and shaved my legs for the first time. I really didn't need to, because the hairs I had were blonde, but than again no-one would notice when I went back to guy mode anyway. I also shaved the little bit of fuzz under my arms. As I got out of the shower I studied my reflection in the mirror. I certainly didn't need to shave my face. There wasn't even any fuzz there.

Looking at my reflection, I wondered what was wrong with me. Here I was, fifteen, and it was like puberty was only a distant dream of the future for me. My voice hadn't broken yet, I had no adam's apple, I was still mostly hairless, and Marcia was taller than I was - I even had slightly smaller feet! When my mom took me to the doctor six months ago he'd said there was nothing to worry about, that it would all happen in time, but the question was, how much time?

I used some of the powder Marcia had suggested, then wrapped myself in the robe again and headed back to Marcia's bedroom.

"Okay," she said when she saw me. "Say, you look cute with your hair in a ponytail like that. That gives me an idea. But first, come sit over here." I did, and she gave me some moisturizer to apply to my arms and legs. Then she began filing my nails, which were not especially long but were kind of untidy.

Then she bent down and did my feet. "Kneel, slave," I joked, and she made a face. She reached up to the dresser, and retrieved a small bottle of a silvery nail polish, which she began to apply to my toes. "Don't you think that color's a bit over the top?" I asked, but she laughed and told me it was easily the coolest color around at the moment. So much for my powers of observation.

As the polish was drying Marcia went and had a shower herself, giving me strict instructions not to move. She laid out a magazine on the dressing table in front of me, it was a pretty crappy read but I learned a bit about applying makeup from it. When she came back into the room, wrapped only in a towel, I stopped reading. I was pretending not to look at her body. Of course I was pretty terrible at pretending, and as she applied some moisturizer to her own legs she looked up at me and smiled.

"Um," I said, "do you want me to leave the room?"

"I think my family would think that was kind of strange, don't you?" Marcia grinned. "You're just going to have to get used to being one of the girls. Okay? Think of it as training." And with that, she dropped the towel entirely and went over to the bed, where she'd laid out some clothes and lingerie for both of us.

I really couldn't do anything except stare. Marcia had a fantastic body. And I had never seen a real live naked woman before. Perhaps she was aware of how difficult it was for me to pretend not to be looking, because she faced away from me as she put on her bra and panties, but not before I'd had a good look at her wonderful breasts and the downy hair between her legs.

"Uh, Marcia, you probably know this, but you're really very beautiful."

She walked over toward me and smiled. "That's very sweet of you, but most girls my age look like this. Becky looks a lot better, you should see her. But enough of me, more of you. Drop the robe, and give me a look."

I was embarrassed, but I did as she asked. I thought I looked very strange, with my fingers and toes adorned in silver and my hair up and my scrawny little body. My penis stood to attention, and I blushed. I knew it wasn't very big, and I knew she knew that, too, but was too nice to say anything.

"You look sweet," said Marcia, and kissed me on the forehead again. "But we better hurry." She led me to the bed, and pointed to the lingerie she'd laid out for me. "Try that on." she said. I pulled on the panties. They looked very strange with my penis trying to make a tent out of them at the front. Marcia looked puzzled for a moment, then disappeared for a moment and came back from the bathroom with a very cold damp washcloth, which she had me hold against my penis until it subsided.

"How'd you know how to do that?" I asked, but she waved me on to the task at hand. I tucked myself back in my panties so that there was no bulge at the front, then tried on the bra. This one was flimsier than the one I'd worn earlier in the day.

Then Marcia handed me two very strange objects, little flesh-coloured pieces of quivering jelly. "Put these inside the cups." I looked at her quizzically as I did so, and as she adjusted them in the cups of the bra she said "I borrowed these from Becky this afternoon, though she doesn't know it yet -- I snuck into her room when I went to the bathroom. She used to wear these a few years ago, before she blossomed out like she has. Not that she ever admitted it to anyone, but you can tell when you see a lot of someone. They're only meant to enhance breasts, not substitute for them, but you're skinny enough to look good with small breasts, and they'll feel real if anyone gets gross enough to try feeling you up. This old bra is a cup size too small for me, but it's pretty and it'll hold them properly."

Whoaa. There was too much in those last few sentences of hers for me to absorb. She'd planned that I would go out with her tonight all along, or else she wouldn't have thought to 'borrow' those things from Becky. She stole something from her friend. And she was talking about me getting felt up. As if.

"Time to reverse this 'slave' thing you were so into. Sit," Marcia commanded. She was going to start in on my makeup. but I stopped her and started applying it myself. She watched me bemusedly.

"I read that article," I said, pointing to the magazine, "and I saw what you did today."

"Okay, whatever," she said. "Just remember, less is more, especially with skin like yours. You want to accent your eyes more than your lips, I think. Your lips are pretty full. So it's paler lipstick for you." She watched me doing the makeup, correcting me a couple of times, then quickly did her own before turning to work on my hair. Using a curling iron again and a lot of spray, she put my hair up at the crown, then pulled a few curly tendrils down to soften the look. I was amazed at the effect, I thought it was just my long hair making me look like a girl before, but I guess it was the makeup, too, even though I didn't look like I was wearing much. Marcia brushed her own hair out, and let it run loose across her back. Leading me across to the bed, she held out a pair of pantyhose and a bit of black material I could only assume was a dress, then began to pull on a pair of pantyhose herself. I tried to watch what she was doing, and succeeded in getting them on even if they felt a bit twisted. Marcia bent down and straightened them a little for me, then held the dress over my head. It was a light jersey, which clung to me as she lowered it over my newfound curves and flared over my hips. Then she pulled a red dress over her own shoulders, and I helped her do the buttons up at the back. Finally she passed me a pair of black shoes, kind of mary jane style but with an open back and a 2" heel. I put them on, and took a couple of steps. They felt like a pretty good fit.

I looked at us both in the mirror. Once again, it didn't look like me. Maybe I'd been in my 'Cousin It' phase far too long. I looked ... well ... amazing. I looked really pretty. The dress hugged me without being too revealing, though it was very short. I looked across at Marcia and smiled, then blushed.

"Yeah, I know, it's disgusting that a boy can look so much better than a girl, isn't it?," Marcia said, smiling back.

"You don't think it's a bit much for a party like this?" I asked a little timidly.

"Okay, you get the denim," she passed me a cropped and faded denim jacket. "That'll dress it down just a little. I'll take Mike's jacket.," she said as she picked up a leather jacket that was way too big for her. "we probably won't need them, anyway, it's pretty mild."

When did she get that, I wondered. Obviously Marcia and Mike were more serious about one another than I'd known if he was doing things like giving her his jacket to wear.

"They'll be here in a few minutes, we better hurry," Marcia said, handing me a pair of earrings.

"Uh, I ..." I stopped, holding the earrings. Marcia looked at me and realized.

"Oh, right, they're not pierced. Um, I don't have any clip-ons, I've had my ears pierced since I was eleven. Uh, wait here."

She left the room, and I could hear her running down the stairs. I took the time to take stock of my appearance again. I really hoped this was going to be as convincing as the way I looked earlier in the day, or I was going to have a lot of trouble with the jocks at the party. I thought I looked great. Really. But then I had the feeling my judgement was very faulty today. Still, I had fooled everyone earlier in the day. I lifted my hands to my breasts, and squeezed. Marcia was right, they felt very real. And although they looked small, it kind of fitted in with the rest of my skinny body and the clothes she had dressed me in.

Marcia came bounding back into the room with a needle and a potato, and said "this is gonna hurt a bit."

"You're gonna pierce my ears?"

"If you take the earrings out tonight and disinfect the earlobes they'll heal right over. No-one will notice."

She was right, it hurt a lot. I felt like my ears were on fire as she attached some small silver hoops to them. Then she gave me a couple of silver bracelets, a chain for my neck and a thin watch with a tiny black band.

Finally, we were ready. Marcia led me downstairs to wait for the guys. As we came into the living room I stopped dead in my tracks. My mom was sitting talking to the Wilsons. Marcia stopped, too, clearly at a loss for what to do.

Mr. Wilson stood up. "Uh, Kath, this is Jenny, a friend of Marcia's. Jenny, this is Katherine Miller, our neighbor. Wow, you both look terrific. You girls want a seat while you're waiting?"

I wanted to die. I wanted the floor to eat me, I couldn't move, I couldn't speak, I'm sure I looked really strange.

I could see from the expression on my mother's face that she knew instantly who I was, and so could Marcia.

"Nice to meet you ... Jenny," said my Mom kind of stiffly.

There was a kind of embarrassed silence. Finally Marcia came to the rescue again. Sort of. "Mom, Dad, I hate to drag you away, but could I talk to you in the kitchen for a moment? It's important."

"Okay honey," said Mrs. Wilson, a little puzzled, and they all moved into the kitchen. "We'll be right back," she said to my Mom and I as they left.

There was a very strained silence. "Jenny?" my mother said.

"That was Marcia," I said.

"And everything else?" She indicated all that I was wearing. "And what happened to your hair?"

"Um, we sort of bleached it"

My mom looked shocked. She slumped in her seat.

"Uh, I'm sorry, mom," I said.

She looked up at me, as though seeing me for the first time. "Are you enjoying this? How long have you two been doing this? How come the Wilson's don't know? How..."

Her voice trailed off.

"It's only been today, Mom, honest, it's just a bit of fun and it's kind of gotten a bit out of control. It was easier to let it go with the Wilsons than explain, really."

"Is this a sex thing?," she asked me.

"Mom, it's not anything, it's just fun, okay." Outside I could hear a car coming up the drive.

"You're not doing drugs are you?"

"Mom! Gimme a break!"

She sighed.

"Well, I must say, for whatever it's worth, you do it well. I almost didn't recognize you"

"Can you just go along with it for a little while? It'll all be over soon."

"I know you haven't been happy, but I didn't know it had come to this." She shook her head.

There was an awkward silence as she looked me over more carefully.

"I think I need some time to think about this," Mom said.

"Well, I have to go out" I said. "Maybe we can talk about it tomorrow"

"Out," Mom repeated, as though in a trance. She put her head back in her hands. I sat down. Then the Wilsons re-entered the room with Marcia. Mrs. Wilson looked at my mother and said "What's wrong, Kath"

Mom straightened up. "Oh, it's nothing, I was just explaining to ... uh, Jenny ... that I've got a terrible headache all of a sudden"

"You do look a little pale," said Mrs. Wilson.

There was a knock at the door. Marcia ran to answer it. Then she came back into the room. "Jen? Our ride is here."

Mike came into the room behind her, followed by Paul. I could see both of them pause a moment when they saw me, but they were both trying to impress Mr. and Mrs. Wilson.

"Mom, Dad, you know Mike, this is Paul, and this is our neighbor, Mrs. Miller," said Marcia. I could see my Mom's radar had gone up as soon as the boys had entered the room. Now she was clearly gonna blow a gasket. After everything else, Marcia and I were gonna get into a car with a couple of boys. With me dressed like this. She looked across at me, and I could see something in her eyes I'd never noticed before, a kind of fear. But she didn't say anything, and after Mr. Wilson and Mike had exchanged a few pleasantries we left the house. As we were leaving I could hear my mother saying that she thought she'd go home and lie down.

 

***

 

Chapter 5. Saturday Night

 

Paul held open the back door of Mike's car for me, then got into the back seat with me. I smoothed out the back of my dress as I sat down, then tried to get the hem a little further down my legs than it wanted to go. Paul noticed me tugging at it, looked at my legs and grinned. I smiled at him, and he said quietly "You look pretty spectacular tonight."

"Um, thanks," I said, blushing. It felt weird when he said that. I liked it. And although I felt nervous when he looked at me, I kind of liked that, too. It wasn't crude or anything, like when Rob had looked at me. Despite all my nervousness, Paul put me at ease.

We drove off. "We thought we'd go to that Italian place, if you girls are up for it," said Mike. I realized that - contrary to what Marcia had said earlier - this was definitely gonna be a date, not just a bunch of us going to a party. We drove back down Main Street until we came to a little cafe at the end of the shopping strip. Inside it was nice, but casual. I hadn't eaten out for ages, Mom and I couldn't afford to, so I really didn't have a lot to compare it to, but it felt comfortable. As we sat down Marcia whispered to me "How was your Mom?"

"Don't ask," I said, and we looked at one another guiltily.

We ordered some food and a couple of sodas. Mike and Marcia did most of the talking, but I did learn that Paul was a senior like Mike, and that he wasn't only the jock he looked like, he was also editor of the school paper and he was really smart. Mike kidded him from time to time about being a rocket scientist, but Paul just took it all in stride. He seemed pretty quiet most of the time, but I was very conscious of how near he was to me, and that he kept stealing glances at me. I tried to eat in a restrained manner, copying Marcia in the way she moved and the way she took small bites. If I hadn't still been a bit nervous I could have eaten a lot more, but I ordered an appetizer size and, like Marcia, ended up leaving some of that, too.

Paul asked me a couple of questions about myself, so I stuck to the line Marcia had used with Becky earlier in the day, that I was visiting the town with my Mom while we thought about whether we wanted to live there. I tried to keep the rest of my life pretty much as it was, until he asked me where I was going to go to school. "I guess I'll go to the same school as all of you," I said, wanting to change the subject. I was still in junior high, but I already knew a whole lot more about the high school than I wanted to, courtesy of a couple of guys who beat me up one afternoon "for being a fag."

Eventually Marcia said to me "Wanna check out the ladies room?" I knew from the tone of her voice that it wasn't a request so much as a command, so we made our excuses and went together. There were only two stalls, and we were the only ones in there. I hiked up my dress and sat down, then Marcia said from the stall next to me "I'm really sorry about your mom, Jenny"

"I didn't know what to say," I said. "She seemed pretty upset. I think. But maybe surprised more than upset. I think she blames herself for me having gone astray or something." We both giggled.

As we came out of the stalls at about the same time I said "So, did you tell your parents?"

"Huh?" said Marcia.

"Wasn't that what the 'important' discussion in the kitchen was about?" I asked.

"Of course not! I was telling them that I needed them to be flexible about tonight. Usually they make me get home by midnight, but I explained that this was a big party and since there were a few of us going together it would be better if they could allow me to be a bit later. It always takes a while to have that discussion, because my Dad always feels the need to tell me it's for my own good and all that. I wasn't going to ask them that, tonight, but I figured it was a way for you and your Mom to have a talk."

We fixed our lipstick and hair, and headed back out to see the boys. "I think Paul is more than a bit smitten," said Marcia quietly as we approached the table. "I'd watch myself if I was you."

The guys paid the bill and we left the cafe. Mike drove up through the hills to the Convey's house, which was absolutely enormous. There were a lot of cars around, and it took Mike a while to find somewhere to park his enormous old 70's car.

As we went in the noise was deafening. Becky was over by the CD player, I think she was the one responsible for putting on the Nine Inch Nails and the guy next to her wasn't happy about it. Denise, the girl whose house it was, came up to Marcia and gave her a hug, then nodded to me like she'd like to kill me. She turned and gave Mike an enormous smile, though, and actually gave Paul a kiss on the cheek. Uh huh. Well, that explained the look. Marcia introduced her to me, but I don't think Denise caught my name in all the noise.

Mike disappeared into the kitchen as we walked through the living room. I knew who most of the people were, but I'd never spoken to any of them at school. For a start they were almost all seniors, and anyway even the kids in my own year mostly didn't speak to me. But everyone smiled and spoke to Marcia. Eventually Mike came back with some beers for himself and Paul and some wine for Marcia and me. I took a sip. I'd only tasted wine once before, at my cousin Beth's wedding. It seemed okay, kind of sweet.

Mike and Marcia went off in search of some drugs, and Paul introduced me to some of his friends. They mostly seemed very nice, except one guy who undressed me with his eyes instead of really talking to me. One of Paul's friends was a tall, thin guy named Steve, who had a goatee and looked impossibly cool for someone who was still at high school. He and I had a great time trying to have a conversation about music above the noise, and he tried to explain to me how the playlists on radio got compiled. He was sweet, but kind of earnest. I made him laugh a lot, which was fun. Paul told me later I'd made a really big impression on the coolest guy in the school.

I danced a couple of times with Paul, who said he usually felt awkward dancing, and then a couple of times with Marcia and Mike, and then Steve. Paul wandered off to talk to other people from time to time, which was good because I didn't want to feel under pressure like I was his girlfriend or anything, although it seemed that's what everyone else at the party had decided. .

I spent time talking to Becky after she surrendered control of the CD player to someone a little less interesting. She had taken some ecstasy a little while earlier, so our conversation didn't go a long way, but she was extremely friendly and kind of falling all over me. Steve took her off to find her boyfriend Brad, and I had a little quiet time to myself. That was good, I needed to collect my thoughts.

It sure was turning out to be a strange day. Here I was, having a terrific time with a bunch of people who normally wouldn't give me the time of day, but I was popular and they all seemed to want to talk and dance with me.

I went into the den, where people were passing around joints. Paul came up behind me and put his arm around me. "Want some?," he asked, handing me one. "Sure," I said, and took a drag on it as though I'd been smoking all my life. Of course I sent myself into a coughing fit, and everyone laughed, but in a good natured way, and Paul took me into a nearby room to recover.

It was a bedroom, I noticed through my running eyes. I sat on the edge of the bed and Paul sat down next to me. He was still smiling broadly after having laughed a lot. "Well, that was a good idea. Not," he said, rubbing my shoulders. "I guess you're not a smoker, huh?"

"Not really," I said quietly.

"Good for you," he said, and put his arm around me. "I don't do it much any more, except now and again at parties. And I don't smoke tobacco"

"I hate the smell of tobacco," I said. I was conscious of how close he and I suddenly were.

"You smell good," he said quietly. "Not too much perfume, you smell clean. It's good"

I was nervous, and he could feel it. He stroked my neck, where some of my hair had come loose a little from the rest and was hanging in little blonde wisps over my collar. Then he turned my head towards his and kissed me.

It was surprising. I'd had two kisses in one day, but this was very different from the one Marcia had given me. His mouth felt hungry as he moved his lips on mine, and I could feel an urgency in him. I liked it. I felt like he wanted me, and I liked that, too. I stiffened at first, but then I relaxed, and when he finished, and stroked my face lightly with his fingertips, I could see in his eyes a certain kindness, a gentleness, and I knew he'd enjoyed it as well. He kissed me again, and then again. After the third kiss I rested my head on his shoulder. Then he gently moved his hand to my breast, and I jumped a little. I still didn't feel very secure about that, no matter what Marcia said.

I got up from the bed. "We should go back with the others," I said.

He stood in front of me. "It's okay, relax," Paul said softly. "Tell me, how old are you, anyway?"

"I'm sixteen," I lied. I figured it wasn't as big a lie as some other things he didn't know about.

"You're very beautiful, you know that," he said. I looked up into his eyes. He really had nice eyes, I thought. Then I caught myself. What was I thinking? I was making out with a guy, and I was enjoying it! This was utterly insane.

"And you're probably the sweetest thing I've ever met," he said softly. "How come you can be so smart about some things and be so innocent about others?"

He kissed me again. This time, standing up, it was even better. He took me in his arms, and pressed me close to him. I could smell his masculine body, feel how hard he was, how strong. I almost swooned, but he held me.

"It's okay," he said, as he let me go. "This is great, but I want you to be comfortable. You let me know what feels right for you, okay?"

I couldn't believe it. I knew then that I was going to be in big trouble if I let him go any further. This guy wanted all of me, only he didn't know how much of me there was. I gave him a little kiss, just a small one, and was about to say something when there was a knock on the door and Marcia stuck her head around. She smiled an enormous smile when she saw us together.

"Hey, guys, you need a lift back with us? We're going pretty soon."

I looked at my watch. It was 1.00am. The night had flown by.

"We'll just be a moment," said Paul, and as Marcia closed the door he kissed me again. This time I could feel him run his hands up and down my back. He lowered one of his hands to my ass, and cupped it, while the other traced the line of my spine as far up as my neck. Then he bent and kissed the back of my neck. I almost crumpled, and I was shaking. I'd never felt anything as intense as that before. "Whoa," he said, "I think that's enough for now. Wow, you are a passionate little one, aren't you?" He put his arm around me and led me from the room.

The trip home was uneventful. Marcia told them I was going to stay over at her house. Paul had his arm around me, and stroked my arm with his free hand. It felt so wonderful I stopped thinking about how weird it all was. When we got to Marcia's house the boys got out of the car with us. Paul gave me another long and lasting kiss, while he lifted the hem of my dress and ran his hands over my ass.

"Can I call you?," he said finally.

"Of course," I said, and gave him my number without thinking. I separated from him, and he clasped my hand as he promised to call. I followed Marcia into the house and collapsed on one of the kitchen chairs as we came in.

"Well, that was a night to remember, huh?" said Marcia.

 

***

 

Chapter 6. Very Early Sunday morning.

 

I left Marcia's and walked the short distance to my house. The night was crisp, and the sky was very clear, with enough moonlight to see where I was going easily. Even though I felt a little tired from all the dancing, everything seemed amazingly fresh and new. The stars seemed brighter, and the sounds of the night clearer and sweeter. The noise my heels made on the paving sounded like music, and I skipped once or twice, listening to them, then tried to be quieter. As I walked up our drive I heard an owl off in the distance.

There were no lights on, so I opened the front door as quietly as I could and began tiptoeing down the hall. As I passed by the door to the living room I noticed a figure sitting in a chair, silhouetted in the moonlight. It was my Mom, of course. "How was your evening?" she said quietly.

"Uh," was all I could manage. What did she want me to say? "Good, I guess."

"Why didn't you tell me you felt this way?" Mom said. Even though it was dark, I got the impression from the sound of her voice in the dark that she might have been crying earlier. I felt terrible. Mom and I had always been especially close, especially after Dad left. I know, although she could never have said it, that she felt she was partly to blame for him leaving, and she felt guilty about me not having a father around anymore. I didn't blame her at all, I kind of loved my father, but I could tell, even at a young age, that he was a difficult man to live with. Neither of us ever seemed able to please him. He never hit either of us or anything, but I could sense that I was an enormous disappointment to him because I wasn't good at sport and into the manly kinds of things he liked, and I know that the times my mother stuck up for me against his scorn he'd turned on her, instead. After he left she seemed distraught about a lot of things, especially money, but I could tell that she was also a bit relieved. I thought that relief meant that his leaving was definitely for the better. I would have done anything to make her happier -- I just wasn't always sure what that could be.

I definitely hated to think that it was because of me that she'd been crying.

"What way?" I asked.

"Well, the way you feel. That you enjoy dressing up as a girl. Do you like boys? Is that it?"

I had to pause for a minute. I wasn't sure what she meant. How did I feel? I didn't know. A lot of it felt good, but it was weird -- I was a boy, but ... I hadn't stopped to think about it properly, really.

She turned on the lamp next to her chair. It was probably not the best idea she ever had, because she was once again confronted with the way I was dressed. "Your ... lipstick ... is a bit smudged," she said, in a tone that indicated she knew exactly how it had gotten that way. I could see that my guess that she had been crying earlier in the night was right.

"I don't know, Mom. I really don't know." I sat on the floor at her feet and put my chin on my knees.

"Do you often dress like this?"

"This is the first time, Mom. Honest. It was just for fun. But it kind of got out of hand today."

"I'd say that was an understatement. How was the party? How did that boy ask you out? Did he know?"

"Did he know what?"

"That you're not a girl"

"No!" I said. I couldn't bear to think about that.

We sat in silence a little while longer.

"Mom, I honestly don't know why everything happened the way it did today. I'm really sorry I upset you, I didn't want you to find out -- "

" -- I'm glad I did -- "

"Well, I guess I am, too, I don't like having lots of secrets from you. But ... it was all kind of unexpected, really, Marcia was just fooling around with my hair and it all just kind of happened."

She put her hand on top of my head and played with the strands of hair that were falling around my face.

"You look very pretty," she said quietly. "I would never have guessed you'd turn out this way."

It sounded strange, coming from Mom. I wasn't sure I wanted her to think I was pretty.

"I guess ..." I swallowed, not really sure if I should say this "I guess I had a pretty good time. Everyone really likes me as Jenny. Much more than as Chris." She didn't say anything, so I went on. "And although it felt kind of weird at first, it got easier as the day went along. I think it's easier, being a girl."

Mom gave a little laugh of disbelief. She tilted my face up, to look at me. "It's not so easy," she said.

I shrugged. "It was okay."

"What about that boy?"

I blushed. "Paul? He's ... well, he's a nice guy."

"Were you attracted to him"

"No. Yes. No. I mean ..." My voice trailed off. "Yes, I guess so, though not at first. It was ..." I put my head down, blushing again.

"I know how it is," said Mom. She smiled a little. "But you haven't had much experience with girls. Or have you?"

"No," I admitted, "They don't seem to be very interested in me. I like them, I guess." I considered this some more, thinking about Marcia's kiss today. "Mom, does this mean I'm queer or something?"

"I don't know what it means."

"I think I like girls, like I like Marcia, but I like them in a kind of friendly way. I wouldn't want to do anything with Marcia, because then she mightn't be my friend."

"Well ..." She paused. "Maybe we should get you to see someone. Like a therapist or something. Would that help?"

I shook my head. I didn't know what I thought, I didn't think I could explain it to someone else. Besides, I knew we couldn't afford it. "I love you, Mom. You know that." I knelt and hugged her. "I won't do it again, I promise."

"That's not what I'm saying. If you enjoyed it so much, what does it mean?" she said. "I want you to be happy." She held my arms and looked me in the eyes. "I don't care if you're gay, or straight, or everything in between. But I know you haven't been happy at school, and I have been wondering when you'd start to show an interest in girls. I want you to be happy in everything."

"Mom, that's wonderful. You're great. But I don't know what I want."

We hugged for a while longer, and then she decided it was probably best if we both just slept on it and dealt with it in the morning. I kissed her goodnight and climbed the stairs. I went to the bathroom and saw myself in the mirror again. I still couldn't get over the difference in the way I looked. I let down my hair, and was about to wash my face with some soap and water when my Mom appeared at the door. "Use this" she said, handing me some cleansing cream. I tissued it off, and began to brush out my hair. That looked more like the old me, more of a mop. But whatever Marcia had done earlier in the day, my hairstyle was still clearly a feminine one. And she had thinned out my eyebrows much more than she'd claimed. I was going to have to deal with all that tomorrow. I took out the earrings, painfully, and swabbed my earlobes with some antiseptic. Then Mom came back with some small studs, that she pressed into my ears. I looked at her quizzically. "You can decide later if you want them to close up," she said with a sad smile. She tousled my hair, and I walked off to my room. There I carefully undressed, placing the lingerie and the dress carefully over a chair, and the funny fake breasts underneath the dress where they couldn't be seen. I pulled on the oversize t-shirt I always slept in and was asleep almost as soon as I hit the bed. The last thing I can remember thinking about was the way Paul's hands felt on me when we kissed.

 

***

 

Chapter 7. Late Sunday Morning.

 

I woke late, and lay in bed for a while contemplating the events of the previous day. I wondered what Mom was going to say today. I wondered what I was gonna do about my hair. And my eyebrows. When I raised my hands to brush my hair away from my face I remembered I still had painted nails, too. Eventually I got out of bed and went to the bathroom. For some weird reason I sat down to pee. It didn't even occur to me that I was doing it until I'd almost finished. I guess it was because the t-shirt was almost as long as the dress I'd been wearing the previous night.

I went downstairs to the kitchen and poured myself some orange juice. I was standing looking out the window when my Mom came in. "Good morning," she said brightly.

"Hi Mom," I said in a similarly cheerful tone.

She put some coffee on, and came over and gave me a hug. "How are you this morning?"

"Pretty good, I guess"

"Ah, the joys of youth!" she smiled. "I remember when I could stay up all night and be bright the next day, too. Enjoy it while you can!"

I smiled. She wasn't so old, really, but she joked about it a lot. She handed me a croissant and pointed to the butter and jelly on the table. I sat down. She poured us both some coffee and sat down across the table from me.

"I have to go across to Megan's today," she said. "Do you want to come?"

"Okay," I said without thinking. Megan was my mother's sister, about ten years younger and a lot of fun. She lived with Mark, who was a famous photographer. They were both very arty and liberal and lived in a really cool house right on the beach down in LA. "What time are you gonna go?"

"Did you know you're still speaking differently?" my Mom said softly. I stopped buttering my croissant.

"Really?" I said, and realized she was right. I was still speaking the way Marcia had taught me yesterday. Wow. How did I usually speak? I tried to remember. "Um, I don't know ..." I cleared my throat, and spoke in the deepest voice I could. "Is that better?"

My Mom laughed. I laughed too. I sounded like I was a girl imitating a guy.

"I guess it will come back eventually," I said.

"Interesting," my Mom said. She reached across the table and touched my hair. She was about to say something when there was a knock at the kitchen door. It was Marcia.

"Hi Mrs. Miller," she said nervously. "I just came to see, uh, Chris for a few minutes. Is that okay?" She was carrying another shopping bag, which reminded me of my clothes. Whatever had happened to them? They hadn't been in the car when we'd gone to the party last night.

My Mom let her in, and offered her some coffee. Marcia sat down while my Mom poured it. She looked at me for a sign as to how things might be. I didn't know what to say, so I looked at the table for a moment.

"You did a nice job on her hair, Marcia," my Mom said as she handed Marcia the coffee. I looked up. Mom had said "her." Marcia looked at Mom, too.

"It did look pretty good, didn't it," Marcia said hopefully, as though unsure of my Mother's state of mind. She looked across at me and smiled. "All it really needed was a bit of tidying up."

"Well, the color's better, too," said Mom. "You did a much better job than I did when I cut it."

I sat back and pulled my hair up behind me, wanting to hide it from view a little. Mom looked over at me and winked. "I just have a couple of phone calls to make, I'll leave you two alone," she said.

After she'd gone Marcia looked across at me inquisitively. "Well?"

"Mom was pretty good, I guess."

"What did she say? What's with this "her hair" stuff?"

"She was pleased I had a good time"

Marcia looked at me strangely. "Your voice ..."

"Yeah, I know. Maybe it'll gradually go away."

"So she didn't go apeshit about Paul?"

"No. I don't think she was really crazy about that, but she just said she wanted me to be happy."

"Wow." Marcia sat back in her chair. "That's pretty wild."

We discussed the events of the previous day. I admitted to Marcia that I'd enjoyed it a lot, more than I really cared to tell anyone else.

"I meant what I said yesterday," Marcia said quietly, "about you seeming more comfortable as a girl"

I looked down at the table, then back at her. That wasn't exactly what she'd said yesterday, but I knew what she meant.

"Anyway, I just came over to see how you were doing. And to see whether you wanted to come to the dinner I'm having next Friday night."

I was surprised, she'd mentioned it a lot before but never in the context of me being invited. "Um, sure, that would be great," I said.

"I was thinking we could make it ten people instead of eight, and maybe" her voice dropped a little "you could ask Paul if he'd like to come."

"Uh." The penny dropped. "You're inviting Jenny, not Chris."

"Um, reality check, I hate to break it to you, but you still look a lot like a Jenny, and you're still acting that way," she said.

"Bigger reality check -- I'm a boy," I said.

"Well," she said, "Whatever you say. Let me know in a day or so, okay? If you want to come the offer stands. It would be really cool. And Mike told me Paul is really aching to see some more of you."

I bet he is, I thought. I wasn't sure more of me was necessarily a good thing.

"Anyway," Marcia said, "in the meantime I thought you might like to experiment a little more, and I bought you some things you might like to borrow." She handed me the shopping bag, which was full of clothes. I looked at her with some surprise. "Or not, whatever," she said. "I gotta go, my Dad wants to take Rob and me to see the car he bought yesterday, he's like totally overwhelmed by how great it is." She shrugged. "He's okay for a dad, really, and I like to make him feel happy at times like this."

"Thanks," I said, still holding the clothes. "Uh, and thanks for a great day yesterday"

"That's okay," she said as we both stood. She opened the kitchen door, then kissed me on the forehead. "I like having you for a girlfriend, it's like having a little sister," she said as she turned and left.

I went upstairs and put the bag Marcia had given me on my bed. I went back to the bathroom and had a shower, tying my hair up to keep it from getting wet. As I showered I thought about Mom's behavior so far this morning. And Marcia's. They seemed to want me to continue being Jenny. That was a surprise, especially Mom's attitude. I had to admit to myself that life seemed a lot better to Jenny than it did to Chris. And I had enjoyed the attention from Paul. I was embarrassed just thinking about it. Would I have enjoyed it as much from a girl, say Marcia? I supposed I probably was queer. Uh. Great. That was gonna make me a whole lot more popular at school if anyone found out. Not.

But then I thought girls were neat, too. So I couldn't be queer. Could I?

I thought about what my Dad would say if he could see me now. I shuddered. That was not something I wanted to think about any more than I had to.

When I got out of the shower I brushed my hair out thoroughly. It still looked very feminine. I decided to wear it in a ponytail, that seemed appropriately androgynous. But when I tied it back I noticed the bangs Marcia had given me framed my face and made me look very girlish. Maybe it was the eyebrows. I went back to my room to dress.

When I got to my room I noticed my Mom had unpacked the bag Marcia had given me. She'd laid out some of the clothes on the bed. I presumed this was some kind of a hint. What the hell, I thought. If she wants to explore this a little further, why not? I picked up the underwear, a pair of white cotton panties and a white cotton bra. Then I noticed the fake breasts, lying on the t-shirt. I looked around, and noticed Mom had hung the black dress I'd worn last night up in my closet. Mom had definitely decided she liked me better as Jenny, I thought. I wondered how long that was gonna last. I put on the bra, and put in the jelly inserts, then looked at myself in the mirror on my closet door. The bra was a little big for the breast inserts, but there was no doubt about it, I looked like a young girl again. Maybe a little underdeveloped, but I sure didn't look like a boy.

I put on the remaining clothes, a pale blue t-shirt and a short dark blue skirt and ankle socks. In front of my closet on the floor were a pair of white sneakers. I was standing looking in the mirror again when my Mom knocked on the door. She smiled when she saw me. "I always wondered what it would be like, having a daughter," she said. I went over to her and hugged her. Then I burst into tears.

"Hey," she said. "We can't have that. Don't you like it?"

"Yes, Mom, but that's the trouble. I like it a lot," I said. "I only just realized how much."

"Well, then, that settles it for today," she said, drying my eyes. "You look beautiful, so long as you don't cry."

She took me into her room and let me use her mascara, which I applied very sparingly. She told me I didn't need anything else at my age. Then she gave me a casual purse she thought was young enough for me, and a thin gold bracelet with a diamond pattern on it. "This was my mother's" she said quietly. Finally she popped two thin gold rings in my ears, which were still hurting from yesterday. "And these were the first bits of jewelry your father gave me, when I was seventeen," she said. I hugged her again, and thought maybe I was going to cry some more. She hugged me back, and said in a no-nonsense way "Enough. There are things to be done today."

She made me hand wash the bra, panties and pantyhose I'd worn the previous night, then gave me some nail polish remover and helped me get the polish off my fingers and toes. She didn't like the color, which she thought was "cheap," but she said I could wear another sometime. Mom rarely wore it herself, so there wasn't any in the house fresh enough to use.

Pretty soon we were on our way to Megan's. I hadn't asked Mom what she thought was gonna happen when we got there, what she thought Megan and her boyfriend Mark were gonna say when they saw me. I figured she must be pretty confident they'd be cool about it. In the car the sun on my legs felt great, and I put the seat back and stretched them out a bit, taking a little snooze for the hour or so the trip took. I woke up about ten minutes before we got there, which was enough time for me to get really nervous about the way I was dressed. I really liked Megan, she'd always been really good to me, especially since Dad left, and I was a little scared of Mark, although I really didn't know him very well.

Finally we reached their house, which was down right on the beach, built out on poles over the sand with a breathtaking view of the breakers a few yards away. As we stood at the front door my Mom gave my hand a squeeze, then Megan opened the door and smiled warmly at both of us. "How are you both? How was the trip down?" she asked.

We went in. I could tell immediately that one of the calls my Mom had made earlier that morning was to Megan, because she was expecting me as Jenny and didn't miss a beat when she saw me. She just acted like I'd always been Jenny. Which was cool. I really liked that. I didn't want her to make a fuss or anything.

We went and sat out on the balcony, overlooking the beach. Two people were walking along the sand in the distance, but otherwise it was deserted. It was a wonderful place, and I said so to Megan, even though I'd been there several times before. Mom and Megan began chatting about things, about how life was going for each of them. Megan had a new job as an assistant to some guy in the movies, which she was enjoying although she said the guy was a dork. As she was saying this, Mark came out onto the balcony. He nodded to Mom as he said hello, and was about to say hi to me when he just stopped. "Wow," he said, looking me over. "I was prepared, but not for this."

I blushed. Megan said "Oh, Mark, calm down." My mother smiled, and Mark looked a little embarrassed.

"Sorry," he said. "I was just kind of expecting a boy in a dress, if you know what I mean." Mark was always kind of blunt about what he thought. "I guess I better make some lunch before I embarrass myself further, huh?"

He smiled at me and I felt better. He had a great smile. I'd never noticed it quite like that before.

We had lunch, a chicken salad with some great Italian bread. Afterward my Mom asked Megan whether it was okay to have a look at the things they'd discussed, and Megan led me inside to the bedroom. There were two suitcases at the end of the bed, with a lot of clothing folded in them. "I wasn't sure," Megan said " whether you and I would be the same size. I think some of these might need to be taken up a fraction, and one or two might be a little sophisticated for someone your age, but ..."

I looked at the suitcases. My mother frequently called Megan a "clotheshorse" behind her back, she was always dressed in the very latest fashions, and clearly spent almost all her meagre paychecks on clothes -- but then, as she said, she was an L.A. girl. I turned and gave her a hug. I was a bit overcome. My Mom looked on, and smiled at Megan and thanked her for me.

"Well, see what you think," said Megan.

I picked up an item which had been neatly folded. It was a little creased, but not too badly. I held it up to myself, feeling more than a bit self-conscious. It was a blue and yellow silk dress, with short sleeves and a thin tie at the waist, and it felt fantastic. My mother looked more closely at the label, and then shook her head. "We can't take this, Megan. It's very sweet of you, but this is a $400 dress." I looked at the label. Calvin Klein.

"Yes, but it's two years old," Megan said. "And to tell you the truth I'm a little too meaty for it. You know how Kate Moss looks great in that stuff? I'm no Kate Moss. I don't know what I was thinking when I bought it. I've only worn it once. Besides," she added "Mark gets some of these for me for free when he does commercials for them, so they don't all cost us that much."

My mother was unconvinced, and made a remark about being the only one in the family who didn't get to wear designer fashions. We went through the rest of the clothes in the cases, mostly skirts and tops and a few dresses. Almost all of them were outrageously expensive. My mother vetoed one dress as being way too much for a teenager, and I could see that another would be a problem because it had a very low back and I wouldn't be able to wear a bra with it, but everything else was amazing.

"I wish I could fit into this stuff," my Mom said more than once. I started to feel guilty, until Megan told me that we had to have some kind of fashion show. So they went back out to the balcony, and I changed into one outfit after another and promenaded out to show them. I started with the plainer stuff, feeling very self-conscious at first but relaxing as I went along. When I went out in a red shantung minidress my mother immediately vetoed it, but I could see Mark's eyes never left me the whole time I was out there. I realized I liked that. The next outfit was a black miniskirt and pale blue blouse, and I acted a little flirty, immediately sorry for it because Mark became hugely embarrassed and Mom gave me a look of strong disapproval. Megan laughed and laughed.

Most of the clothes got Mom's seal of approval, and so Megan and I went back in the bedroom and folded them up and packed them neatly in the suitcases. Megan looked at me, then hesitated, then put the shantung dress and the Calvin Klein in, too, underneath everything else. I grinned, and she held her finger in front of her lips to indicate that I mustn't say anything. Finally Megan gave me a pair of black pumps and a pair of strappy black sandals. They were a tiny bit tight, but Megan grinned and told me a girl had to suffer for her art. We both laughed.

Before we left Mark and Megan had a quiet conversation in the kitchen while Mom and I enjoyed the sunshine outside on the balcony. He carried the suitcases out to our car for us, and said goodbye as soon as he'd loaded it in the trunk. Mom gave him a brief hug, and he said something quietly to her. He looked at me hesitantly, then I gave him a small hug, too. He went back inside as Megan and Mom were saying their goodbyes. I hugged Megan, thanked her profusely again and then got into the car while they talked quietly on the other side of it. I figured they were probably discussing me, but I was pretty worn out and I just wanted to sit down. I heard my Mom say "as long as it's not weird" and "we'll have to discuss it," but that was about all I got.

 

***

 

Chapter 8. Sunday evening.

 

"So you told Megan about me this morning?" I asked my Mother as we drove back. "What did you say?"

"I told her last night, when I got back from the Wilsons'. You gave me quite a shock last night, you know, and I had to talk to someone. We decided this would be a bit of an experiment," said Mom, keeping her eyes on the road. "That you had a couple of things to work out. You've always been very special to her, you know."

"Megan's pretty cool," I said.

"Anyway, you know I can't afford to buy you clothes, and I'm not sure I'm all that happy about you borrowing Marcia's, so..."

"Marcia's okay, too," I said. "She doesn't mind. I think she's got even more clothes than Megan. She brought these clothes over today, I didn't ask or anything."

"I know," said my Mom, "but it's better if you don't have to borrow things from her. Mind you, we still need to get you some more casual clothes from somewhere, all that stuff of Megan's is a bit dressy."

"So, is that what this is, an experiment?"

She looked across at me quickly, then back to the road. "I suppose so. I did a lot of thinking last night, after you went to bed. I know you said you hadn't done this before, but there have been a lot of times I've wondered whether you were really happy being a boy. When you were younger ..." she cut herself off, and started again. "I thought as you grew up you'd settle down, but ..." She looked back at me quickly. "Anytime you want to stop this, just tell me. If you think you've had enough, just say so."

"Okay," I said. "I still feel kind of odd from time to time. You know, because I'm a boy. But somehow the world seems easier to be in. I feel like I fit into it better." I was wondering what she meant by all that stuff about when I was younger. "Does that make sense to you?"

"I think so," Mom said.

"Uh, good," I said, "because I'm not sure it does to me, really." We both laughed.

When we arrived back home there was a message on the answering machine from Paul. He sounded terribly polite. It just said that he'd had a lovely time last night, and he'd call again soon. As I heard it I thought once again about the way he'd made me feel last night, and I got goosebumps. Mom smiled softly as she watched me listening to the tape.

I took the suitcase upstairs and unpacked it, making sure everything was neat and well-hung in the closet. I couldn't believe that Megan had so many clothes she'd get rid of things like this. Mom came upstairs and gave me a couple of other things, some cleanser for my face, and some body lotion. Then we went downstairs and had a light dinner.

After dinner I helped her with the washing up before I broached the subject that had been nagging at me all day. "Mom, what am I gonna do tomorrow?"

"I've been thinking about that. I don't think you can go to school with your hair like that. If you want me to I can try cutting it shorter. But that will be the end of your experiment, I think."

I wasn't sure I wanted that, but I couldn't think of what else to say.

"Or you could just skip a bit of school for a while, until we work things out," she said. I smiled.

"I didn't think it would upset you too much to do that," she laughed. "It's okay, your grades are good. Maybe just for a short while."

So that was that. Mom had obviously decided that everything was up to me.

At that moment the phone rang. I picked it up, and heard Paul's voice at the other end. "Hello, Jenny?"

I didn't answer straight away. My first though was 'Jenny?', my second was 'Omigod it's him!'. I leaned against the refrigerator, and slumped down until I was sitting on the floor.

"Yes," I said. "Hi Paul."

I looked across the kitchen at Mom, who was putting saucepans away. She tried to suppress a smile.

"How are you."

"Great. How was your day?" I felt extremely self-conscious. My heart seemed to have a life of its own, and I tried to relax. I don't know whether Paul sensed my nervousness, or whether he was just being nice, or (this didn't occur to me until much later) maybe he was nervous himself, but we carried on the conversation in fairly stilted language for a few more minutes, until my Mom left the room and went back to the living room.

Then I relaxed and we talked for a while. Not about anything important, it was just chatter. I asked him what he was doing for the week, and he mentioned that he was going down to LA to interview for an internship at some magazine. I told him Mom and me had been to visit my aunt down in LA, and we'd had a great day. Eventually he asked me how long I was going to be staying in Santa Rosita! I'd forgotten that my 'cover' story had been that I was only visiting! Hurriedly, I told him that I really didn't know, but that we'd probably be here for a week or so while my Mom interviewed.

We talked some more, and he asked me if I'd like to go out on Wednesday night after he'd come back to town. When the phone call had begun I had decided that I'd say no, because I was scared of going out on a date with him again. I liked what had happened at the party, but... it just didn't seem very sensible to risk it again. But as we talked I was thinking of the way he'd looked at me the night before, and how nice he'd been when we first arrived at the party. I liked it that he wanted to be with me, and that he thought I was attractive. I realized as I was talking to him that I was falling for some hopeless romantic ideal that wasn't real, but the part of my brain that deals with rational thought had obviously gone into the living room with my Mom to watch the movie. So I said yes.

He seemed very pleased, and told me it would just be a casual night, maybe dinner and a movie, he'd pick me up at 7.00. As we were saying our goodbyes he sounded nervous again, as he told me he'd really enjoyed seeing me the night before, and was really looking forward to Wednesday.

I looked at the phone when I hung up, trying to work out what I'd just gotten myself into. Then I noticed the clock on the microwave. We'd talked for over an hour! I went back to the living room, and Mom gave me a little smile that said she knew exactly what I'd been feeling. Looking at her I all of a sudden felt very confused about what I'd just done. "Mom, is it okay if I go to the movies with Paul on Wednesday night?" I blurted out.

"Do you want to?"

"Yes." I paused " I think so. I said yes."

Mom looked at me seriously. "Is he a nice boy?"

I wondered about that. He'd been very nice to me so far. But I knew he wanted more from me than just a kiss. "Yeah, I guess so."

"What will happen if he finds out you're ... not really a girl?'

"I don't know, Mom. I don't want to think about that."

She looked at me thoughtfully, and said "Well, I want you to be careful. I'm really not sure this is a good idea. It can't lead to anything good... But I guess Megan's right, I'd worry as much if you were a girl."

"Thanks Mom." I made a mental note to phone Megan and have a talk to her. She seemed to be playing a big part in all this.

We didn't say anything for a while, and watched a pretty awful movie together. Halfway through I started feeling a little cold, so I went upstairs and got a sweater Marcia had given me in her parcel of goodies earlier in the day, a light cotton one with a pretty detail around the neck. When I came down again Mom smiled and said "there's one other thing that happened today."

"Which was?"

"Well, I'm still not sure about this, because I think it might be going a bit fast, and I'm not even sure if you'd want to."

I was curious, and trying to think about all the things that had happened today.

"How do you like Mark?," Mom asked.

"Megan's Mark?" I said. "He was pretty nice today, I thought. Considering the surprise. In fact, he was much nicer to me than he usually is."

"Mark had a little talk with Megan after he saw you today," Mom said, "and he thought you were quite the beautiful young lady. He asked Megan if she'd ask whether you might pose for some photographs for him. Tasteful ones of course, nothing, you know ..."

I didn't say anything. At that moment I knew we'd entered some strange parallel universe, and some dwarf that spoke backward was gonna enter the room and do some David Lynch thing.

"I said I wasn't sure," Mom said. "I wasn't sure how you'd feel about it. But Megan was terribly good to you today."

"Um -- he wants to photograph Jenny, right?"

"Yes," said Mom. "Fully clothed, of course. He is a terribly good photographer, you know. Megan thought you might think it was fun, something to remember this little experiment by."

I thought of the photographs Marcia and I had taken yesterday. I already had a record of all this. And I wasn't sure I was confident enough to have 'serious' photos taken. "Uh, I don't know why he'd want to. He takes photographs of thousands of beautiful girls," I said. "I mean ..."

"I'm sure it will all be okay," Mom said.

"Okay then," I said. I still wasn't sure why Mark wanted to, but Mom was right, Megan had been great today. And Mark had been very nice, too.

As I went upstairs later that night my head was spinning a little bit. I brushed my teeth, put some peroxide on my earlobes where they were pierced, cleaned my face and took off all my clothes. Somehow my body seemed kind of weird and unformed once I took off all the underwear and the fake breasts. I pulled the t-shirt on again and got into bed. Idly I touched my chest, near where Paul had tried to touch it. I wondered what it would feel like, if he could. Then I wondered why I was thinking about him so much. It was just because he was the first person to like me sexually, wasn't it? Shaking my head, I tried to put him out of my mind and eventually went to sleep.

 

***

 

Chapter 9. Monday to Wednesday.

 

Next morning I woke at my usual time, then remembered what Mom had said and rolled over to go back to sleep again. But a few minutes later Mom knocked on the door and came in when I didn't respond. She sat down on the end of the bed and shook my leg under the covers.

"Just because you don't have to go to school doesn't mean you don't have other things to do," she smiled.

I tried to squash the pillow down over my head, as though I wanted to go back to sleep, but she pulled the sheets back and slapped me on the ass. "Up!" she commanded before she left the room. I got up and went to the bathroom to shower. When I came back I saw she'd laid out some more clothes for me on the bed. I looked at the black skirt. Somehow I really felt like wearing a pair of jeans today. Maybe I was getting tired of the experiment? I put on the skirt anyway.

My hair was more difficult to do anything with. It was a bit flat on one side, and looked as though I'd slept on it strangely. I tried to brush it out, but that seemed to take out the curls that had remained from when Marcia had done it. Eventually I gave up, and figured I'd ask Mom to help me with it, so I tied it up behind my head. Strangely, even without make-up, I still looked pretty girlish. I stopped trying to figure that out and went downstairs.

Mom told me she had to go out for a while, but that there were all sorts of things that needed doing around the house while she was gone. Inwardly I groaned, but I knew it was only fair. I usually helped out with most of the cleaning around the house, and I hadn't been doing my fair share over the past few weeks, so after she left I set to work. I had the house looking pretty great by the time Mom came back.

"Time to go shopping," she said, as soon as she'd come through the door. I was puzzled. Wasn't that what she'd been doing? She got me to go upstairs and put on some mascara, then took my hair out and re-brushed it before putting it back in a headband instead of the ponytail I'd been wearing it in. Then we set out.

We went to a nearby Mall. As we entered I saw two guys looking me over, and I smiled to myself and ignored them. I felt good about the way I looked, and I'd stopped being afraid that people were gonna think I was a boy. Well, at least for the time being. It seemed everyone was pretty clueless as far as that went.

Mom took me immediately to a store that I knew Marcia shopped at for a lot of her casual stuff. We browsed through a few racks of clothing until I realized she was actually planning to buy me a few things. I protested that we didn't have the money, and she told me not to worry about that, that she'd been out taking care of that earlier in the day. I protested a little more when she told me to go try some stuff on, but I needn't have worried too much as all the cubicles in the fitting room had little latches on them so no sales assistants could burst in while I was dressing. We left the store with a couple of pretty nice casual blouses and tops, two casual skirts and a sweater. I was worried about where this money was coming from as we sat down to have lunch. I was pretty hungry because I'd skipped breakfast, so I was tempted to have a burger, but Mom saw the look in my eyes and ordered salads for both of us. She laughed when she saw my slight disappointment, but told me that having to watch one's weight was one of the things about being a girl that wasn't so easy.

I noticed the boys I'd seen as we entered again. They were across the mall pretending not to be looking. I mentioned them to Mom and she stole a quick glance. "Kind of dorky," I said dismissively, and she laughed out loud.

"Well, aren't you the choosy one" she smiled. I blushed again, and we began talking about how teenage boys could be so awkward and transparent in the way they related to girls. The conversation was kind of weird, really, because neither of us even considered the whole time that I was a teenage boy. I enjoyed talking to Mom about it, though. She told me about her dates before she met Dad, and how dumb some of the guys had been, and how she probably settled on him because he was the first guy who had been able to look her in the eyes instead of the breasts. I could kind of understand that, because Mom was pretty stacked, but it was funny the way she talked about it.

We lingered over lunch. It was a rare thing that we ever ate out. I didn't know what Mom had done about our money situation, but she obviously wasn't worried about it and I decided not to ask so she could enjoy lunch.

Mom told me she had an interview for a job early next week. I told her that was great, though I was secretly worried that it would be like the others she'd interviewed for and she'd be disappointed when they gave it to someone else. Not that Mom hadn't been great at her old job, but when you've been out of work for a while maybe it's harder to convince people to hire you. That's what Mom had said a few weeks earlier, anyway.

While we were in the middle of talking about the job she was going for she suddenly looked at her watch and said we had to get going. I went off to the ladies room while she took care of the cheque. I felt a little self-conscious about going in there on my own, but only for a second.

After I came out she bustled me off to the other end of the mall. As we walked I realized what was happening. She was gonna take me to the salon to have my hair cut! I looked at her questioningly. "Marcia did a good job," she said, "a very good one considering, but I think you could do with a little more style if you're going to keep doing this."

"But Mom, Marcia only cut my hair in the first place because we couldn't afford to get it cut!"

"Well, now we can," she said firmly as we entered the salon. "Besides, I made appointments for both of us when I called. If I'm going to make an impression at this interview it's time I had mine done as well."

I tried to act as natural as I could as the girl in the salon greeted us. Surely someone would notice I wasn't a girl in this kind of environment if I had my hair all wet? Mom squeezed my arm gently to reassure me.

A short time later I was sitting in a chair, under a wrap, as the stylist ran his hands through my hair. "You girls, you always wreck your hair so with the bleach," he said in what I thought was an unutterably affected French accent. I had to keep from laughing. He misunderstood my smile, and said "It's no laughing matter, we will have to give you a treatment before we can do anything else." His name was Claude, though I didn't believe that for a moment. Well, that was okay, I thought. My name wasn't really Jenny. That made us about even. And obviously Claude was clueless about me pretending anything. I relaxed and enjoyed the fussing.

A long, long time later Mom and I emerged. Mom had to wait a while for me, because Claude decided to be very fussy over the way he restyled my hair, complaining all the time that whoever had cut my hair last had been very sloppy. I decided I'd have to share this with Marcia, but only if I could imitate the way Claude said it exactly.

Mom looked great, and she seemed to feel so much happier. Her smile increased when she saw me. Claude had made my hair shorter, but had styled it so that it flipped a little at the ends and looked more sophisticated than the way Marcia had first done it. It was more Alicia Silverstone than Tori Spelling (thank goodness!). It looked like money had been spent on it, and it shone fabulously.

Before we left the mall Mom took me to the lingerie department of one of the bigger stores. She successfully discouraged the sales assistant from helping us, which I was relieved about, and we bought a couple of bras and a half dozen panties. I was beginning to get more than an inkling that Mom was secretly enjoying my "experiment."

That night I cooked dinner, reasonably well I thought. At least Mom was polite enough to be appreciative. As I was going to bed that night she gave me a hug and told me she'd had a lovely day.

Tuesday passed fairly uneventfully. Marcia came over in the afternoon. She was pretty impressed by my hair, which I'd managed to do in the morning much more successfully. We talked about a lot of things, but eventually of course the conversation came around to the fact that I still hadn't stopped being Jenny. Marcia wondered why my Mom was taking it all so well.

I told her truthfully that I had no idea, but that -- from being in tears originally -- Mom had seemed to come around entirely to liking 'the experiment'.

"You seem to have adapted to it pretty well, too," Marcia remarked, one eyebrow raised.

I was shocked. Was she disapproving? If she didn't like it, how come she'd invited me to dinner later in the week? My fear must have showed, because she hugged me and told me that anything I wanted to do was cool with her. "But we should talk about it when you feel you can," she said.

I started to say something, and she cut me off. "Not now, when you've had some time to absorb all this. Okay?"

I showed Marcia some of the clothes that Megan had given me, and she was knocked out. She tried a couple of the dresses on, too. She looked great in the red shantung, but she was a little big in the chest for the Calvin Klein, which definitely looked better on me. It felt funny, to think that, but it was true. Was I terribly vain?

We sat in my bedroom for a few more hours, talking about the things we always talked about. As she was about to leave to head home for dinner, she brought the conversation around to the subject of Paul. I admitted that we were going to see one another the following night. Marcia hugged me and told me to take it easy with him. I assured her I was going to be very, very careful. As she was leaving, I was already getting nervous about what I'd agreed to with Paul. Part of me wanted to see him again, but another part of me was convinced I was gonna pay for all this eventually.

Wednesday evening rolled on. By mid afternoon I was really nervous. Mom didn't help, I could tell that even though she seemed to like everything else she still wasn't crazy about me going out with a boy, though I did notice a wry smile every now and again as I worried aloud about what he was going to think of me and what I'd wear and an endless supply of trivial matters. Paul had said he'd pick me up at 7.00, and I had chosen what I was going to wear by 3.00. Then I put all that away, and chose something else. Then I put everything away again, and decided I wasn't going. I was on the verge of calling Paul when I realized I didn't have his number. That was stupid of me. I rang Marcia to see whether she had it, and of course she came straight over to talk me into going out. It was 6.00 by the time I agreed, and 6.30 by the time I was out of the shower.

I took off my robe as Marcia chose one of the skirts I'd bought on Monday and a satiny dark blue blouse. She turned around with the blouse and saw me standing clad only in my bra and panties. I could see her look me up and down, and I immediately tried to cover myself with my hands. I guess she'd noticed that there wasn't any bulge in my panties. In a rush of fear about what would happen if Paul found out, I'd taped my penis back after the shower before I put on my underwear. It wasn't exactly comfortable, and I hoped desperately I wouldn't have to go to the bathroom, but I felt safer. Marcia was about to say something after she looked at my crotch, but instead she thought better of it and smiled at the way I was covering myself.

"Don't be embarrassed," she said. "I saw you like this the other day, remember? I'd just forgotten how great you look." She walked over and poked the jellied pad that was substituting for my left breast. "These look kind of real from a distance. Feel pretty real, too. You're gonna do fine, don't worry." Then she kissed me again, lightly, on the lips. "You really are amazing, you know that?" she whispered.

I dressed, and Marcia helped me with some light make-up. "There," she said, combing my hair and pinning it up on one side. "You're gonna kill him."

"I just hope he won't kill me," I said nervously. My confidence seemed to be evaporating.

"Jenny," Marcia said, looking me squarely in the eye, "everything is gonna be just fine. Didn't you have a great time with him the other night?" I admitted that I had. "Well obviously he had a great time with you, too, or else he wouldn't have asked you out. He thinks Jenny is great, and you seem to be very good at being Jenny. So just be Jenny tonight, okay?"

She was right. The doorbell rang, and Marcia led me down the stairs. "I'll slip out the back, okay? Have a great time!"

Mom had answered the door, and was showing Paul into the living room as I entered from the kitchen. They both smiled as soon as they saw me, and I immediately felt better. Paul told my Mom where we were going, and promised to have me home by midnight. He was very polite, and he looked great, and I could see my Mom was even a little impressed. She gave me a light kiss as we were leaving, and whispered softly "be good!"

"I didn't know that was your Mom on Saturday night," Paul said, as he opened the door of the car for me. "I would have been a lot more polite to her if I had known."

"It's okay. She had a headache then anyway, she wasn't really up to chat or anything," I said, trying to slide into the seat gracefully, and being careful not to wrinkle my skirt. I was still a bit nervous, but as Paul got into the driver's seat he smiled at me and I felt much better. Before he started the car he leant across and turned my face toward his, and kissed me. Any thoughts I had about not wanting to be with him evaporated. It was the lightest, most gentle kiss I'd had so far, and a little buzz of electricity went through me. Why did I like this so much?

We went for pizza before the movie. I let Paul do a lot of the talking over dinner, while I picked at my one piece. I could hear Marcia's voice in the back of my head telling me to eat like a lady.

Paul was really interesting. Most of the guys I knew at school seemed pretty dorky to me, although I'm sure they thought I was the all time misfit champion of the world. But Paul was interested in other things besides sports and cars and computer games. I asked him how the internship trip had gone, and he said he liked it a lot and thought they might accept him. The work would be very menial, just gofer stuff, but it was a highbrow magazine, about art and style, and he was very impressed with some of the people they had writing for them. He told me he wanted to write for a magazine like that someday.

I just enjoyed hearing him speak. We went on to the movie, which was a French film about a woman who loses her husband and has to find a new life for herself. I'd never seen a subtitled movie before, but I was surprised how easy it was to read the words and still see what was on the screen. Paul put his arm around me as the movie began, and I snuggled into him as much as I could considering the arm of the seat got in the way. Throughout the movie he stroked my shoulder and neck lightly, which I loved. If I hadn't been engrossed in the movie I probably would have started purring.

Midway through the film I reflected that so far our date hadn't been anything like what I'd expected. From stories I'd heard at school, I knew that most guys thought going to the movies was just an excuse to feel a girl up; the movie didn't matter at all. I wondered momentarily why Paul hadn't tried to touch my breasts yet. I could feel his hand resting on my shoulder, his fingers only inches from my left breast as he caressed me gently, but he made no move to go further. I became involved in the movie again, and eventually found myself crying, which was strange as I never cried a lot in movies before. Paul looked across at me when the credits were rolling and smiled at my teary face illuminated in the glow from the projector. Then he leant across and kissed me again as the house lights were coming up.

After I'd been to the ladies room and repaired the damage to my make-up, the two of us walked the length of Main Street and back, holding hands and talking. The moon was still bright, and it was a quiet night now that it was late. We got back to his car and he kissed me again before I got in. I was getting better at kissing, I thought. Or he was doing something that was relaxing me more. I liked the feeling when he held me. I liked being with him. Everything felt so ... alive, so bright, so good. I'd never felt so good about being with someone.

He drove me back home, and we sat in his car after he stopped the engine. He reached over to me, and I to him, and we kissed some more. I put my hand on his leg, then I felt his hand go to my breast for a moment, and cup it lightly. All of a sudden I wanted my breasts to be real. I wanted him to like them, to like me.

I caught myself, then. What was I thinking? I stiffened and he moved his hand from my breast to my face before pulling away slightly.

"I ... I have to go inside," I said abruptly.

"Just stay a few minutes longer," he said softly. "I'll walk you to the door." He put his hand on my knee, and began stroking my leg, too. "You're beautiful. You know that," he whispered.

I blushed, though he probably couldn't see it. We kissed again, and again, and I felt his hand go to my breast once more. He was about to slide his hand inside my blouse when my hand inadvertently brushed past his crotch as I was moving it from his leg. I felt the hardness of his erection, and I started. He sighed, kissed me again, and then I decided it was time to get out of the car.

He walked me to the door and embraced me. "I have to see some more of you," he smiled. "Before you go."

I smiled back, unsure what to say.

"How long will that be?" he asked, with a strange look in his eyes like he was talking about something else.

"Uh..." I was unsure what to invent, so I tried a diversion. "Marcia's having a dinner on Friday and she's invited me - would you like to take me?"

"Okay. It's just next door, isn't it?"

He remembered from Saturday night.

"Yes," I said, "but it would be..."

"I can walk with you," he smiled. "Again."

And with that he gave me a final kiss and hug, and walked back to his car. I opened the door to the house, and stood in the doorway until he drove off.

The light was on in Mom's bedroom as I walked past. She called to me, softly. I went in, and saw that she had been reading, waiting up for me. I sat on the edge of her bed, and then flung myself at her and burst into tears. I was so confused. I had just had the best time of my life, nerve-wracking though parts of it were. I was deliriously happy, but part of me knew that everything wasn't real, it was just crazy. So I cried and cried.

Mom held me till I stopped crying. Then she made me get undressed down to my underwear and get into her bed. She went to her dresser, came back with some cleanser and removed my make-up, then held me again, still without saying anything, until we both went to sleep.

 

***

 

Chapter 10. Thursday.

 

I woke up alone next morning. I could hear Mom downstairs, and smell coffee. I lay in the unfamiliar bed, looking up at the ceiling, thinking about the evening. Clearly I was losing my marbles completely. I didn't know at all where any of this was leading. Only a week ago I'd been sure of who I was, and what I was. I hadn't been very happy, in fact I'd never felt really great about having to fit in with guys, but I'd always known I was a guy. Now things were crazy. There I was last night, making out with a guy, a guy I thought was cute, cute for chrissakes, and I had started to wish I really was a girl so he could undress me and do more!

I didn't really know why I'd cried, though. I really had enjoyed everything about the evening. I guess I was just overwhelmed.

My bladder was very full, so I got up to go to the bathroom. Once there I realized I was still all taped up, and it took me a few very painful minutes to remove the tape before I was able to sit down and relax. As I stood up I kicked myself mentally because that was another time I'd sat down to pee. My brain was definitely all scrambled, there was no question. I went into my room, removed the bra and my pathetic imitation breasts, put on the oversized t-shirt I usually slept in and went downstairs to have some breakfast.

As I walked in I gave Mom another hug. I just felt like I needed to. She didn't speak, but poured me coffee and put some pancakes on the table in front of me as I sat down.

"Sorry about last night, Mom," I said eventually.

"Sorry for what?" Mom asked.

"For all the crying, I guess."

"You should never have to apologize for that. I like it when you can cry in front of me, I think it's better than hiding your feelings. I don't mean to pry, but what happened last night that brought all of that on?"

I hesitated. "I don't know, Mom. Really mixed up. I had a great time. Maybe too good. I honestly don't know what to think. I don't wanna stop doing this, but I'm ... I think I'm gonna turn out really weird or something."

"But you had a good time?"

"I had a great time."

"So you were crying. Hmmm..." She looked at me and we both laughed. She was right. Crying when I was happy was what was weird.

Mom walked over to me and ran her hand through my hair. "When you've finished breakfast get dressed, and wear something pretty. That'll make you feel better. I want to take you to meet someone later today."

She wouldn't tell me who, so I finished breakfast, had a very long shower and then dressed, in a beautiful silk blouse Megan had given me and the skirt of Marcia's that I'd first worn a few days ago when all this started. I did my hair, and got the hang of using the comb backwards to lift it a little. After I applied a light touch of mascara and some lipstick I thought I looked pretty sophisticated. I went downstairs, and after a half hour or so of waiting while Mom attended to some bills we had we set off for this mysterious meeting.

***

Mom pulled the car into the basement carpark of a small office building which was covered with that blue reflecting glass that always shines the sun into your eyes no matter what time of day it is. We'd driven all the way down to LA again, only this time into the heart of the Valley. We had lunch at a little cafe on the way through, and I was looking out the whole time for the archetypal valley-girl, but I guess we didn't get anywhere near a mall so that was a waste of time. Instead we passed mile after mile of bland small office blocks and factories until we came to a more prosperous looking area with trees along the street. Mom had to refer to a scrap of paper to remember the address, and even when we found it she still wasn't sure it was the right building. She seemed quite nervous when we parked the car and took the elevator to the third floor.

Eventually we found the office she was looking for. I realized right away we were visiting a doctor. Where was Mom getting the money for this? All of a sudden I felt nervous about being there. If this was a doctor, then wouldn't he find out I wasn't a girl? I looked at Mom as she told the receptionist who we were, and she said "Jenny" instead of "Chris" when she gave my name. She squeezed my hand under the receptionist's desk, and we sat down and waited. I remembered to smooth my skirt as I sat down, and flipped through a really dull magazine from some Health Management company while we waited.

Eventually the receptionist called our names and ushered us into the doctor's office. A few minutes later a pretty dark-haired woman in her early thirties came in and introduced herself to us as Doctor Adams. Mom seemed a bit taken aback, I guess because this woman was younger than she was. Anyway, Dr. Adams and Mom talked for a few minutes about how we'd driven down and how much Dr. Adams liked Santa Rosita the one time she'd been there, and then the Doctor turned to me and asked me how I was doing.

I hesitated before I said anything until I figured that of course she knew about me, that was why we were there! And then I told her all about the last few days and how everything had just happened and I must have kind of blurted out a fair bit because Mom told me to slow down. After a while Dr. Adams asked Mom to leave the room, and then we talked some more, mostly about how I felt about girls, and about guys, and when we got to that part I blushed and she just sat there expectantly and so I told her about Paul. Then we talked about how I felt when I was a kid, and how I felt about the last few days, and I answered truthfully that I had no idea really but that I liked some of it and didn't like some of it. And how I was worried about where Mom was getting the money for this visit, and other stuff. And that was that. She asked me to wait outside, and asked to see Mom again. They talked for another ten or fifteen minutes and Mom and I went down to the car.

"What did she say?" I asked Mom.

Mom smiled a little smile. "That's for me to know..." she said.

"Mom!"

"She said she would never have known you weren't a girl, and she treats a lot of people like you."

Like me? "Like what?"

"People who aren't sure what they want to be."

I shuddered. I'd seen transvestites on Geraldo. Ugh. I didn't want her to think I was like that. Apart from the clothes and stuff they all seemed like such jerks. I mean, obviously they were jerks, they were on Geraldo. Was I like that? Did Mom think so?

As we drove on I realized that we weren't heading for home. We drove west through the hills and Mom told me we were gonna stay have to be in LA tomorrow and that I was gonna have to do some tests for the Doctor the next day, so we were going to stay with Megan and Mark. And if Mark's schedule was free in the afternoon next day I would pose for some pictures for him.

Megan was still at work when we arrived, so Mark greeted us at the house and we chatted for a while. After talking to my Mom again he asked me himself whether he could take some photographs, and we set up a time and a place to meet next day. Mark worked at a studio over on the westside, so Mom and I would go there after lunch and then head home before dinner. I was glad. Today was Thursday. Tomorrow night it was Marcia's dinner. She was gonna be pissed if I couldn't make it. Thinking about Paul I realized I was gonna have to hurry to get ready after we got back.

Megan came home and Mark decided the four of us would eat out, so we drove back down the coast to a restaurant he liked. During the dinner he made a couple of references to enjoying the company of so many beautiful women, which made my Mom and Megan roll their eyes a little but made me blush. Megan grinned at me a couple of times and kicked me conspiratorially under the table once when two cute young guys walked by. After dinner we walked along the beach for a while, carrying our shoes in our hands while the sun was going down over the ocean.

I felt great. The sky looked wonderful, the ocean was beautiful, and even though I was walking along the beach in a skirt everything just felt - well, it felt better than I could remember feeling for a long time. By the time we headed back home I was exhausted for some reason and we had an early night. Megan lent Mom and me a nightgown each and the two of us slept solidly in the spare bed. Just before I went to sleep I realized that Mom and I had slept together two nights in a row although we hadn't done it for about twelve years before that.

 

***

 

Chapter 11. Friday.

 

Next morning the first thing I thought about when I woke up was that I had a date with Paul that night. I lay in bed listening to the waves on the beach only a few feet away, and thought of the way I'd felt the last time he touched me. I noticed Mom was already up.

I could hear some birds in the winds and the waves as I lay there. I closed my eyes again and thought of Paul kissing me. I stroked my hip the way he had done a few nights earlier, feeling the satiny nightgown against my skin. Abruptly I realized that a part of my body I hadn't thought about much lately was becoming active. The more I thought about the way Paul made me feel the more aroused I became. I rolled over onto my belly and hugged the pillow tight to me. I thought about the way his arms felt around me, and how he touched my face when he tilted my head to kiss me. As I rocked back and forth on the bed I became aware of a tremendous feeling of pleasure, and then I came.

I was immediately embarrassed. I reached for the box of tissues beside the bed and tried to wipe up the mess, which was congealed on the front of my nightgown. Uh oh. This was gonna be hard to explain away. I got out of bed, still feeling a little buzz, and wrapped a robe I found on the back of the door around me as I walked out of the bedroom into the hall. Mom saw me from the kitchen and called good morning, and I called back a muffled "uh huh" as I went to the bathroom.

I tried to rinse off the nightgown while I showered, and seemed to get most of it. I tried to avoid getting my hair wet, and after showering took only a few minutes to get it into a decent style. Then I hung the nightgown in the shower recess, wrapped myself in the robe, and went out to the kitchen. It was 8.30am and Mom and I were the only ones left in the house.

Mom handed me a coffee and I sipped it before wandering out to the deck to look at the ocean. The robe I was wearing was some sort of Japanese cotton affair which clung to my body in the light breeze. I realized after a moment that it was a good thing no-one was on the beach, because I probably cut a strange figure as a girl with a flat chest. I put the coffee on the railing and folded my arms in front of me, trying to make this fact less obvious even though no-one was there to see.

Eventually Mom came out and led me by the arm to the bedroom, where she'd laid out a few casual clothes of Megan's. I noticed she'd borrowed a blouse from Megan as well. "Time to get moving if we're to be there by ten-thirty," she said.

I dressed in the plain black skirt and striped knit top she'd put on the bed. The top was very clinging and so my small breasts looked more prominent. There was a gap between the skirt and top, leaving my navel visible, and this made me look younger than the outfit I'd worn the previous day.

I went back into the bathroom to put on a little mascara and noticed Mom had moved the nightgown and hung it properly on a hanger so it would dry evenly. As I was applying the mascara I saw her in the doorway behind me. She looked from me to the nightgown and back again, and I blushed, but she just gave me a puzzled look and set off to lock the house up. After a few adjustments I grabbed the strappy sandals I'd worn the previous day and we set off without breakfast.

The tests were uneventful. I couldn't even figure out what they were for. We went to a different office, and Mom waited in the reception area. At first I thought I was gonna have to strip off my clothes, because there was a gown hanging in the room where they sat me. I didn't want to do that, so I just sat there until a nurse came in. She saw me looking at the gown and smiled. "Don't worry about that, honey, we just need to measure you a little." First she measured my height and weight, then she took some blood samples from me and a swab from the inside of my cheek. Then she pinched me with some kind of calliper things to measure how much fat I had on me. "Hmmm," she said as she removed the calipers, "Aren't you a tiny little thing."

I felt embarrassed, I guess because I was still thinking a bit in Chris mode and I responded the way I would at school when someone called me a runt. Then I realized she meant it as a kind of compliment, that she thought I had a great figure, and I relaxed. She finished her measuring and I was shown into a different office where a cute guy in his twenties gave me some forms to fill in.

The forms went on for ever, and the questions they asked seemed really stupid. I had to say whether I liked a whole lot of things on a scale of one to five. Clearly they were trying to measure how much of a guy or girl I was, but the way the questions were phrased they were just so obvious. At first I was tempted to just make up answers to confuse them, which is what Marcia would have insisted I do, but then I remembered that all this was costing Mom money she didn't have, so I answered them all as well as I could. Eventually it was all over, and Mom and I left to go to Mark's.

Mark's studio didn't look like much from the outside. It was a big unpainted concrete block in a seedy area of Venice, and I think Mom was afraid the wheels of the car were gonna get stolen or something. We buzzed on a large black steel door and a guy in his early twenties answered. "Hi, you must be Jenny, and Katherine" He smiled, and led us into the building. "I'm Gary, Mark's assistant." Looking at the way Gary walked ahead of us I figured he had to be gay, which for some reason relaxed me.

Inside the studio things were surprisingly primitive. I had thought considering all the high-fashion work Mark did that there would be more people around, and that the studio itself would be decorated in some kind of avant garde fashion, but the studio was completely bare except for the lights and some black curtains hanging around the edges. The rooms off to the side were furnished only with trestle tables, wooden boxes and folding chairs, as though the whole place might move to another location at a moment's notice. There was a glass-fronted refrigerator stocked with Evian in the corner at the back of the studio but otherwise the place was very spartan.

Mark greeted both of us, and Gary offered Mom a tea. Mark introduced Andrea, the make-up artist who would be working with me, and then Andrea led me off to one of the side rooms to begin transforming me into -- what? I didn't really know what Mark was gonna be doing. I looked back at Mom as Andrea led me away, but she was engrossed in conversation with Mark.

We walked into a dressing room, and Andrea asked me to strip down to my panties. I hesitated for a moment and she said "Don't worry, I've seen everyone, you better believe it." So I went behind a curtain and took off my shoes, skirt and top. As I was folding my top she put her head around the curtain briefly and said "bra too, honey, everything off except your panties." This was gonna be interesting, I thought as I unhooked the bra. I carefully lay the breast inserts under my top on a chair, made sure my penis was tucked behind me in my panties so that I was smooth in front, and stepped out around the curtain.

Andrea was facing away from me sorting through some bottles on the make-up table. She glanced quickly at me and said "Come on over here and sit -"

She stopped and her face went about three different directions. She looked at my face, then at my chest, then at my groin, then back at my face and chest. She looked terribly confused. "Uh..." was all she could manage.

I couldn't think of anything to say, so I walked across to the table and sat down, my face burning with embarrassment.

"Uh..." Andrea tried again hopefully. "Gee, you're not, uh, very big up top, are you"

I couldn't help it, I giggled. Andrea looked at me quizzically and then left the room. A few moments later she returned with Mark. All of a sudden I felt naked, and I folded my arms in front of my chest. For some reason I didn't want him to see me like this.

"Uh, Andrea, you might want to get her a robe," Mark said, handing me one from the wall and turning away slightly as I stood to put it on. Andrea was still staring at me. I was starting to feel very self-conscious.

"We're going to be making Jenny look fairly natural today," Mark said to Andrea as if nothing had happened. "I'm looking for youth and freshness, so I want things kept simple and subtle. Okay?"

Andrea nodded, and Mark left the room. I sat down again, and Andrea began to tie my hair back. She was studying my face intently, and finally she couldn't stand to be silent any more.

"Are you..." her voice trailed off. She took the ponytail she'd made and twisted it and pinned it to the top of my head.

"Yes," I said, wanting suddenly to put her out of her misery. I actually didn't know what she was going to say, but it seemed any certainty was better than the confusion she'd just been through. "But now I'm not going to be any more." I hoped that made things clearer. I really didn't want to get into specifics.

Strangely this seemed to satisfy her. I was surprised. I had thought Mark would have had a word to his staff about me before doing the photos, but clearly he didn't think it was that big a deal.

She stopped playing with my hair. "Well, it's probably best if we shower you first." She showed me where the shower was in an adjacent room and told me to wash my hair. When I came back from the shower there was a sandwich and some water on the table, which was obviously my lunch as Andrea was just finishing hers. After I finished eating she pinned my hair up again and went to work on my face. She used a lot of make-up, more than Marcia had when she'd first applied it. I got a layer of moisturizer all over my face, and then down over my neck and my chest. She obviously felt very strange about putting it on my chest and asked me if I'd like to do that myself. Then she applied some dabs of concealer in a few places, and then foundation all over my face, neck, shoulders and chest. Then came some highlighter, eyeliner, blush, eyeshadow and mascara. She put a little shadow on my chest between where my breasts should have been. It was all in subtle tones so it didn't look garish, but I did think it looked thick. I said as much, timidly, and she told me the camera wouldn't show all of it. Then she went to work with my hair. She sprayed stuff all over it, and by the time she finished it shone like it never had before.

The she took me in to see Mark. Mom smiled reassuringly as I came out with Andrea, and Mark positively beamed.

The first shots we did were just of me sitting on the floor against the side of a chair, with the robe slid down from my shoulders so it looked like I was naked. Mark said he was only shooting from the shoulders up so no-one would know. Strangely the camera didn't worry me, Mark was talking the whole time and I thought more about what he was saying than the fact that he was constantly taking shots. We tried a few variations on the pose and then Andrea took my back into the dressing area and had me sit in the chair again. She and Mark consulted on some clothing and Mark left us alone.

"Uh, honey..." she began. "When you came in you looked, uh, bigger."

Without saying anything I got up and retrieved the fake breasts that Marcia had given me. Andrea smiled as though reassured of something, and had me stand with the robe open. She cleaned the make-up off my chest, then took a small bottle and applied something to the back of one of the breast forms.

This is just a temporary glue," she said. "We can wash it off at the end of the day. Now I got this figured out, Jenny. You should have told me. Lots of girls use these on the street. Everyone wants to be thin, but not everywhere."

I shrugged and smiled. She held me still, and then pressed one of the breast forms to my chest. She rubbed some of the glue up around the upper edge of the form and smoothed it over the join between the form and my skin. Then she applied the other form and did the same. She gave me some water to drink while I was standing there, and then began to apply more make-up over my chest and the breast forms. "I haven't done this since I did some movie work a few years ago," she smiled as she worked. Eventually she pronounced herself satisfied, then handed me a black mesh dress and a pair of lycra briefs. I looked at the briefs a moment. Seeing some surgical tape on the make-up desk I picked it up.

"We use that to smooth out foreheads and do a quick facelift," Andrea said. "You don't need any of that."

I didn't say anything, but took the dress, briefs and tape behind the curtain. I took off the robe and panties, and taped my penis into place carefully. Then I put on the briefs and walked out from behind the curtain. They were a boy-cut kind of thing, which I thought was a trifle ironic. Andrea helped me into the dress. I looked myself over in the full-length mirror at the side of the room. It was remarkable. Through the mesh of the dress I really looked like I had breasts. Small ones, to be sure, but breasts nonetheless.

We took a lot of shots of me dressed like that, then in quick succession I did some 'girl next door' outfits, some stuff with other clothes that looked very slinky (still braless) and then some stuff in some other lingerie, and finally a cute one-piece bathing suit. Mark used a variety of backdrops and props in each shot. Then finally he had Andrea re-do my make-up and my hair and we went outside to his van and drove around for an hour and a half. We used most of the same costumes as he took shots of me in doorways and against signs and on the beach and under the pier. Andrea helped me as I changed in the van. While I was dressing we chatted about what we were going to do over the weekend, and I mentioned that I had a kind of formal dinner that night. I realized she was a wonderful person, and felt guilty for letting her feel so awful earlier. The more we talked the more we laughed, and twice Gary had to come back to the van and tell us in a severe tone that Mark was waiting for me.

Each time I emerged from the van I got a lot of looks from people passing in cars, and I almost caused an accident when I was wearing the mesh dress in public. Mom was frowning at that one, but Mark had saved it for last and she let it pass.

By the time we went back to the studio I was exhausted. Posing for photographs was harder work than I'd imagined. I slumped back in the chair as Andrea removed all the make-up, then had a long, long hot shower to wash away the grit from the street. Andrea was right, the breast forms came off in the hot water.

As I came out into the dressing room I could hear Mom and Mark talking quietly in the studio. "She just eats the camera right up," Mark was saying. At first I assumed he was talking to Mom about some other model he had worked with, but then in the next sentence I heard my name and I realized he was talking about me. Uh. What did that mean?

Andrea showed me how to get my skin really clean and well moisturized after the shower, "because you have such great skin and you're gonna do well if you take care of it."

Then Andrea told me she wanted to do something special for me "because I was so weirded out when you came in, I'm sorry about that." She began to reapply make-up to my face, but carefully and much more sparingly than before. Then she styled my hair again, this time doing it up in much the same way Marcia had when we went to the party. Except that Andrea was a professional, and when she'd finished with me I had to admit I looked -- well, absolutely beautiful. Really. I could see that Andrea was pleased with the results. "That's for your date tonight," she said. "Knock him dead."

She showed me how to do some touch-ups on the make-up later on, then gave me a brief hug and said "Well, hope we see some more of you. I think we will." She helped me get dressed again without getting make-up all over my clothes and then led me back to the studio where Mom and Mark were waiting. They both looked impressed at the way I looked. "Very Gwyneth Paltrow," Mark said quietly to my Mom, but I heard him. Andrea winked at me.

Mark thanked me profusely and told me how wonderful I was, and that he'd have some proofs next day and would send me a set FedEx on Monday. I was pretty impressed at that - FedEx-ed parcels to me! I hugged him carefully to try to avoid getting make-up on him, and gave Andrea a quick kiss. She admonished me for smudging my lipstick and fixed it again, but I think she was pleased.

 

***

 

Chapter 12. Friday evening

Mom drove us home as quickly as she could. I must have talked incessantly about the dinner that night and I think she was worried we'd be late back. Probably not as much as I was worried.

The trip took two hours and we got home with less than an hour to spare. At first I was panicking until I realized all I had to do was get dressed; I already had my hair and make-up done. As I put my underwear on Mom made me a cup of herbal tea to calm me down, then went to her room and came back with a little gift-wrapped parcel. I took it from her questioningly, and unwrapped it. Inside was a black garter belt and two pairs of stockings. It took me a moment to work out what the belt was, so far I'd only tried pantyhose.

"I thought you might like to feel a little sexy," Mom said. I couldn't believe my ears. I was going out with Paul, and that was okay with Mom I realized now. But she wanted me to feel sexy going out with him, and I was a little unprepared for that. Mom showed me how to put the belt and stockings on, and then it was time to put on the dress.

I had decided to wear the Calvin Klein that Megan had given me. When Mom saw it she frowned at me and I remembered that she had told me to leave it behind at Megan's. I smiled at her in what I thought was my best hopeful look and she relented, grinning, and helped me pull it over my head without getting make-up on it. She tidied two strands of my hair that had become wayward and then stepped back to look at me better.

There were little tears in her eyes. "Jenny, you look beautiful," she said. I looked in the mirror, and I realized I had to agree. I looked older, I guess I could have been anywhere between 17 and twenty-five. The dress draped over me perfectly, enhancing my slim figure as well as emphasizing the size of my bustline. If I had been much bigger in the chest I wouldn't have looked good in it. My hair tied up made my neck look long and elegant.

I went to hug Mom, but she told me not to ruin my make-up. I didn't care, and hugged her anyway. I felt very close to her right then. This was something I could only have shared with her as Jenny. We'd had some good times when I was Chris, but we'd never been as close as we had the past few days.

We finished the hug and I went downstairs to wait for Paul. A few minutes later Mom came downstairs with two jewelry boxes. In the first was a thin gold necklace with a small sapphire on it, and in the second a pair of small matching sapphire drop earings. I took out the gold hoops I had in my ears and put the sapphires in, then Mom helped me clasp the necklace.

Paul arrived right on time. He had dressed nicely, wearing tailored pants instead of jeans and a nice white shirt that somehow brought out the blue in his eyes. But he stopped completely when he saw me. I smiled. This was the second time today I'd had that reaction from somebody -- first from Andrea when she saw me almost naked, and now from Paul for different reasons. He was as startled as Andrea had been, though in a nicer way. He looked me up and down, obviously liking what he saw. Then he smiled broadly and handed me a small bunch of flowers. Then he handed Mom a bunch too. "Bribery," said Mom, smiling, "That will get you a long way round here."

I got two vases and put the flowers in some water while Mom and Paul made some small talk, and then it was time to leave. I gave Mom a quick kiss goodbye and Paul and I set off to Marcia's, just next door.

"Jenny, you're the most beautiful girl I've ever seen," he said as soon as we'd closed the door to our house. I looked into his eyes and with something of a shock realized he was sincere. I also realized right then with an equal shock that I wanted him to hold me, to undress me, and to make love to me, the way I'd imagined in the bed just that morning at Megan's. I moved toward him and he took me in his arms and kissed me, oh so gently. I almost swooned again. Eventually he steadied me, and I took his arm and we walked down the drive and along the street to Marcia's.

When she opened the door Marcia did a double-take, too. "Wow," she said as we entered. She made me do a 360 degree turn for her. I couldn't stop smiling. This was great. Marcia looked great, too. She had on a dark red slipdress which showed off the curves in her body amazingly well. And she wasn't wearing a bra underneath it, which I could see Paul noticed instantly. For some reason I didn't mind. I'd never felt better in my life.

Marcia and Paul exchanged greetings, and Marcia led us to the living room and offered us a drink. I accepted, and Paul offered to get them for Marcia. We were the first ones to arrive, except for Becky who had been helping Marcia cook for most of the afternoon. She came into the living room at that moment, fresh from getting dressed for dinner, in a long black dress that went well with her goth look but added a lot of class as well. She too stopped mid-sentence when she saw me, and gave me the most curious look I'd seen all day, stranger even than the one Andrea had given me.

Mike and Brad arrived together. Evidently under instructions from Marcia and Becky to be on time or die, they seemed nervous that they were ten minutes late. Mike, as Marcia's boyfriend, took over the drink-making functions from Paul, and pretty soon I had a glass of champagne in my hand. I decided I liked it a lot, though I wasn't crazy about the way Mike tried to look down the front of my dress as he handed it to me. Then the other guests arrived, Steve and a friend of Marcia's I hadn't seen much of, Lynda, and Denise Convey and a football friend of Mike's, Ed. It was obvious Marcia had been doing some matchmaking.

Everyone was trying hard to be as sophisticated as possible. Marcia had brought out her parents' best crystal and silver, and had got her Dad to set out some wines for the occasion. The girls had all dressed up, and even the guys were well turned out. Mike, for example, had worn an actual shirt, with a collar. I'd only ever seen him in t-shirts before. I realized guys could look pretty good when they tried.

While everyone was discussing plans for the summer I volunteered to help Marcia in the kitchen. She had things pretty much under control, but it was a chance to talk to her without everyone else around. I was conscious as I left the room that all the guys had their eyes on me.

Once in the kitchen Marcia turned to me and said breathlessly "Hey. Did you have plastic surgery, or what?" She smiled.

I blushed, and smiled back. "Paul seems to like it," I said, indicating the dress.

"Jenny, it's not the dress, you look -- glowing."

I smiled again. In fact I hadn't stopped smiling since Paul had come to pick me up from my place, except for that once when he'd kissed me. I told Jenny all about the afternoon with Mark, and how much fun that was and how Andrea had done my hair and make-up and that's how come it looked so good.

"Yeah, well I can see I've created a Frankenstein," Marcia laughed as she handed me a bag of bread rolls to put out in a basket for the table. " I could see the way Mike was looking at you. I'm gonna have to teach you how to be ugly from now on."

Dinner was beautiful. Marcia could really cook, I was amazed. I'd always thought of her as one of the least domesticated girls I'd ever known (not that I'd known a lot). But apart from some slightly overcooked vegetables the food was great. I discovered that I liked wine even more than I had the previous week, and the conversation at the table was interesting. Marcia had made the boys promise not to talk about football (which Paul said suited him fine), and they obliged with a lot of good humor. Mike and Steve were very witty, and even Denise Convey turned out to be much more friendly than I'd have thought based on her welcome the week before at her party. Becky was the odd one out. When we'd visited her house a week earlier she had been great, I felt like we really connected. But ever since she'd walked in tonight she seemed kind of uneasy about something. I gave up trying to engage her in conversation and just enjoyed the meal and everyone else's company.

Soon we retired to the living room. Steve rifled through the music collection and put on a CD to dance to, and after Marcia turned down the lights everyone danced for three or four songs until a slow number came up. Then the couples who had been match-made by Marcia stepped away as if by some silent agreement, and Mike and Marcia and Becky and Brad and Paul and I danced close to one another while the others passed a joint around. Paul put his arms around me and I put my cheek into his shoulder as we danced together. I was swimming in a little cloud of bliss and champagne and wine, and everything was just fine with me.

As the song ended Paul sat down in a large chair and pulled me onto his knee. I gladly complied, and he nuzzled my neck and put his arm around my waist. In a moment or two I could feel his erection beneath me. I looked across at the others and could see that they were all talking and smoking and ignoring us, except for Brad and Becky who were still dancing, Becky stealing the occasional glance our way. I didn't care. I kissed Paul, and felt his hand rest on my thigh. He felt my garter belt at the top of my stockings through the dress, and made a small "mmmm" noise when he realized what it was. I felt great. I wanted to lose myself to him, then and there.

Pretty soon I knew I had to go to the bathroom. The wine was catching up with me. I excused myself, much to Paul's frustration, and took my purse as I went. I had noticed that women always took their purses to the bathroom with them.

I had to undo all the tape before I sat down and relieved myself, then retrieve some new tape from my purse and re-tape myself all over again. Afterward I stood at the mirror and tried to touch up my make-up the way Andrea had shown me. As I finished and opened the door I got a shock, because Becky was just on the other side waiting to use the bathroom.

"Sorry to take so long," I said as I went to get by her.

"Just so you know, I know," Becky said. I looked at her uncomprehendingly. She seemed surprised at my response. "Marcia told me," she continued, and I understood what she was talking about.

Damn! Why did Marcia tell her?

"I dunno why you're doing it," she continued, "but I think it's pretty weird."

I suffered a moment of pure panic. Shit. What if she told Paul. I was gonna die. He didn't need to kill me, I'd just stop living. I felt sick.

"Oh, don't worry," Becky said. "Marcia made me promise not to tell anyone, so I won't." She poked my left breast. "But we both know what's in here, and who it belongs to, don't we."

I wanted the earth to swallow me up. I'd become so used to people accepting me as Jenny that I'd forgotten to worry about whether people knew. How stupid could I have been? And now here I was, she knew. And she'd seen me with Paul a few minutes before.

"I must admit," she said. "You sure are great looking. I'd never have believed it until Marcia told me."

I didn't know what to do. How come she'd been so nice to me only a week earlier and now she was being so horrible? "Uh, please don't say anything -" I said.

"I promised Marcia, and a promise is something I don't break easily. But I think maybe you should be a little more discreet with Paul. It's not very fair to him. And if he ever found out..."

And with that she went into the bathroom and closed the door.

I went back to the living room. As soon as Paul saw me he said "What's wrong?"

I felt like I was gonna cry. "Uh, it's okay," I said. "Sorry. I'm not feeling so great. Maybe it's the wine." That wasn't untrue. I was starting to feel sick, and regretting having had all that wine.

"Maybe I should take you home," Paul said.

"No. Yes. I don't know."

Seeing how I looked, Marcia had come over too. Paul looked at her and said "She's not feeling well. I think I should take her home."

Marcia looked at me, then saw Becky come back into the room and saw her glance at me, too. And I could see Marcia's blood begin to heat up. She figured out Becky must have said something, and she wasn't happy. But I didn't care. I felt sick. I did want to go home. I just wasn't sure I wanted Paul to take me. I felt terrible. Becky was right, I was being unfair to him.

But he would have none of it. He said goodbye for both of us, and took my arm and led me from Marcia's. He put his arm around me to steady me for a moment, and I felt that closeness to him I loved so much. I disengaged and took his arm instead, and we walked back to my place.

"Sorry," I said again as we got to the front door.

"Sorry for what? You can't help it if you feel sick," he said softly. He tilted my chin up slightly so he could kiss me. I wanted to cry again.

"I wanted to make you happy tonight," I said, honestly.

"You did," he said, kissing me again.

"Paul..." I began

"Yes?"

"I need to tell you something." All of a sudden I felt the need to be honest with him. He was a great guy and he deserved better.

"No, you don't." He said gently.

What did that mean? Did he know? How? No, he couldn't.

"I know you don't come from out of town," he said to me softly. "I know this is where you live all the time. I knew it the other night when I came to pick you up. This is a house that's lived in, not one you're just staying in for a few short days. And yesterday at home I saw some of my Dad's work on the hall table and I noticed your Mom has applied for a job with his company. So I know a lot about your Mom. Now I just want to get to know more about you."

So he didn't know everything. But this wasn't getting any easier. "Do you want to come in?" I asked.

"I think you need to rest. From the sound of it you've had a big day"

He had no idea how big.

"Paul, I just wanted to say I think you're great, and I don't want to ever hurt you."

"Uh oh," he said. "What have I done to deserve that speech?"

I didn't know what he was talking about.

"That's the speech girls give guys when they're going to dump them. I'm waiting for the 'But'."

I hugged him fiercely.

"I know you're not sixteen, Marcia told me," he said. "She didn't mean to, and I wasn't prying. I don't think you got your story straight with her. But don't worry about that, either. I'd like you no matter how old you were."

I opened the front door. It was now or never. I gently pulled him inside and, leaving the lights off, led him through the moonlit living room and onto the couch. I sat in his lap again. Then I kissed him, and I started to cry. He held me, gently. "Hey, hey," he said. "That's no way to act."

I sobbed. The week had been too much for me. Here I was crying my eyes out on the shoulder of a guy I'd only known for that one week. Why was it that I always cried when things were not so bad? Paul held me to him and rubbed my back gently until my crying subsided. I looked up at him and he kissed me again, and then we were kissing and his hand stayed on my back while the other one came around to hold me as well. As we kissed and he held me I felt that feeling again, that feeling of excitement. I could feel, sitting on his lap again, that he was becoming erect. I felt his tongue go in my mouth, and his hand go to my breast. I didn't resist him. I wanted him, and I didn't care what that meant.

I shifted off his lap and spread myself out on the couch, and he lay on top of me and kissed me and stroked my thighs. I could feel him reach under my dress and begin to stroke the skin above my stockings, and I could feel the intensity of his erection pressing into my right leg. With his other hand he stroked my face, and he began to whisper sweet things to me. "Jenny, you're the most beautiful girl I know. Jenny. Jenny. You are wonderful, and smart, and sweet. I've never met any girl like you. Jenny. And you feel so good right now." He shifted his weight to the side and then I could feel his hand further up my thigh. I was getting kind of nervous the further his hand moved, and he sensed that. He kissed me ever so softly. "Jenny, have you ever ..." He seemed embarrassed to ask. "Are you a virgin?"

I nodded, and kissed him. I moved his hand from my thigh, and then I made him sit up. I got off the couch, and knelt on the floor. Before I thought too much about it, I was undoing the zipper on his pants. And then I had his cock in my hands. Wow. It was thick. It was much bigger than I'd thought. I looked at his face nervously, and smiled. Then I lowered my lips to the tip of his cock, and kissed it gently. There was a tiny trace of some creamy salty fluid at the tip. I kissed it again, and then I took him in my mouth. He groaned softly, and I sucked him, taking time to lick the head of his penis occasionally before returning to putting the shaft further and further inside my mouth. His breathing got heavier and heavier, and then he tensed. "Jenny!" he cried, a little too loudly, and he came inside my mouth, a great quantity of it. I almost gagged, but I swallowed as much as I could. I kept sucking until he groaned in pain and held my head away. "No more, no more," he said.

I rested my head on his knee. I felt better. I had made him feel good. I wasn't all that terrible. He stroked my neck and shoulders, then pulled me up to sit in his lap again and nuzzled my neck. "Jenny, that was wonderful."

I sat there in his arms for a little while longer, and I knew I was never going to go back to being Chris.

***

 

continued...

 


1999
The above work is copyrighted material. Anyone wishing to copy, archive, or re-post this story must contact the author for permission.