Secrets of the Dead 01
Author's Note: This is an Urban Fantasy story. In later chapters there will be subjects and subplots that some of you might not feel comfortable dealing with, but nothing overly offensive, at least in my mind: consensual D&S, consensual mild bondage, violence (not sexual violence), supernaturals, reversed gender stereotypes, general sexual situations, etc. This is not a whackalong story, it just contains these elements. Thank you ahead of time for any comments, questions, or critiques that you might leave afterward. Pic Credit: Kay Morgan
As I undid the ankle clasp that secured my four inch heels snugly to my feet, Leo made the turn onto Montrose.
“Thanks for tonight.”
I slipped my shoes off and wiggled my poor toes. “No problem. This makes us even, right?”
Leo saved my butt back in high school, the year before, when he set me up with his cousin from out of town on a date. This year, his final year of school, his date dumped him the week before the homecoming dance and I saved his reputation by becoming a girl for him for the night. I hung off his arm and made him out to be some massive sex god the entire evening. In the coming weeks he wouldn’t have any problems finding another girl and my debt was paid.
Granted, convincing him that I could pull the masquerade off took a little time.
“Yeah… I just don’t… I mean, you look really good.”
Grinning over at him I said, “Thanks; it was all my Aunt Celia’s doing. She’s a wiz with makeup.”
Leo’s eyes dropped to my breasts for half a second before resuming their attention on the road. “How did she manage those… um, I mean your boobs. How’d she do that? They’re very realistic.”
More than he knew. I just shrugged. “Magic, I guess. I didn’t pay much attention at the time.”
“Well, they look good.”
“I’ll tell her you were impressed with her work.”
You might be under the impression that my body doesn’t normally look like a girl’s; it doesn’t. I pretty much look like any average guy out there: average height, average build, average everything. So, how did I arrange to look like a busty blonde bimbo for my best buddy? Alliteration aside, makeup had very little to do with the alteration, but I couldn’t really tell Leo the truth; mundanes rarely handle the existence of true magic all that well.
When he brought the car to a stop in front of Redferne's, my family's magic shop, I grabbed my heels by the straps and smiled at him.
“You busy tomorrow?” he asked somewhat nervously.
If I didn’t know any better I would have thought he was attracted to me. We went through most of the evening, at the game and then later at the dance, holding hands like all the other couples. We danced and there were several pre-planned kisses on my cheek while we acted in our roles.
I nodded. “It’s the weekend before Halloween. That’s one of our busiest times of the year. I’ll be working open till close until Tuesday.”
He frowned slightly so I threw him a bone. “I’m free next Saturday though.”
“Oh… okay. They’re showing a sneak preview of the last Twilight movie at midnight on Saturday… I thought…”
My eyebrows rose ever so slightly. Leo hated Twilight; I just thought the series was funny in a Mystery Science Theater 3000 kind of way.
“… I had tickets,” he continued.
Taking my hand away from the door handle, I turned fully to him. “Are you asking me out on a date, Leo? I mean, knowing what you know about me?”
The implications of what I said finally made it through to his rational brain. His voice tightened slightly, like he was under great strain. “Well, you said that you were going to be… um, dressed like that for the weekend… for work. I mean…”
His nervousness was endearing and I was pretty proud of him for looking beyond our birth gender and bravely making his feelings known.
“I’d like that,” I said. “We close and restock at nine. It’ll take me about an hour to get ready. Pick me up at eleven?”
There was a sheen of sweat starting to build up on his forehead, even with the air conditioning on. To show him I approved of his forwardness, I leaned over and grabbed his tie, tugging him toward me for a goodnight kiss. I felt him go stiff for a moment and then turn to jelly right after.
I’ve never made any secret about my sexual preferences which usually leans toward females, but often enough toward males. Leo was fairly open-minded but I’d never seen him even look at a guy with any interest beyond competition. However, at the moment, I looked nothing like a guy, so I could see how he’d be greatly confused.
As I slowly released his tie, I pulled away with a grin. “See you tomorrow night.”
His eyes were all glassy and my smile widened as I watched him lick his lips appreciatively. Then I opened the door and slid out, waving behind me as I unlocked the door to the store and closed it after I entered.
Waving once more, I turned away and sighed happily.
My apartment was underground, and the second I reached the bedroom, I slipped out of my dress and hung it up on the female side of the walk-in closet before running a bath. Everything else was set aside until I was wearing only Great Aunt Lillian’s white gold blue sapphire line bracelet which enabled my shift from male to female.
She was the ancestor I resembled the most and thus why I chose her body to use.
That didn’t sound right.
If a person wants to change into the opposing gender then he or she needs to do so using something once owned by an ancestor. Aunt Celia had an entire room set aside with items going back about four hundred years, through generations of Redferne witches.
Using something personal of Great Aunt Lillian’s, her bracelet for instance, I am able to draw out her essence and temporarily infuse it into myself. In short, I became her until such a time that I took it off, whereupon her essence would return to the bracelet. It was still my body; none of her consciousness remained, so there was no danger of possession. In scientific terms, I borrowed her mystical DNA template to reshape my body. That’s kind of why it had to be a family member. She was already a part of me and using her bracelet brought that part out to the forefront.
Any way you look at it, mystical or mundane, I loved the results.
From a very young age I’d never been comfortable in my own skin. I don’t really think it was a gender thing. I’d just enjoyed being something or someone different all the time.
When I first entered puberty and came to have a relationship with magic, I couldn’t wait to have at the antiquities room. In less than a month I had experimented with twenty generations of Redferne witches. It took me only three years to slow down enough to catalogue the physical traits of each person and take photos of various angles so I could make educated decisions in the future; like tonight for instance.
Great Aunt Lillian bore the closest resemblance to my original body and face. That’s why I choose her whenever I go public, like at the dance with Leo. She grew up during the twenties in New York and died in an gangland shooting while on vacation in Chicago.
The most voluptuous was Great Grandmother Georgina – tack on six greats to the front of her name. She lived in London for most of her life, back in the early 1800’s. I was her for most of my sixteenth year of life, whenever I could manage the time. What could I say; I was hormonal and could play with my own double-D cups whenever I wanted. She had the tiniest waist and full round hips, making her my fantasy girl for the longest time.
Whenever I was looking to lounge around the apartment I’d choose Mary Redferne, the daughter of our progenitor. She was born at the latter part of the sixteenth century. Her body was the smallest of all my ancestors, not quite reaching five feet in height, with the most delicate arms and legs, long gentle fingers, and small pert breasts. Mary was perfect for curling up on the couch with a good book or while watching a movie with Aunt Celia.
I loved each and every one of my line for different reasons and for the gift they had unknowingly given me.
The next morning I awoke and climbed out of bed. Having taken care of my morning absolutions I went to the dresser and picked up my Grandmother Helen’s collar with a smile. Yes, it was my Aunt Celia’s mother, which disturbed her at times, but she was cute and quite athletic in her youth, which made working long days in the store much easier.
That’s one of the things that I never explained, did I? I was eighteen years old and I would take on the appearance of my ancestors when they were that age. When I was sixty, if I was still doing this, then I’d appear as they were at the same age, sixty. It was one of the limitations of magic.
Everyone is allocated with a certain amount of time on this Earth, no more no less. One cannot skirt immortality by jumping from body to body at a young age.
That was the only reason Celia allowed me to use her mother’s things. What I came to find out a little later was that Grandma Helen was more than a little perverted, much like myself. The collar was leather and had a large silver ring on the front. She had other things, of course, but I’d chosen that particular item because it was Halloween weekend and I wanted to be sexy for the customers.
Once my sales reached a certain level, I received a cut of the action. It was incentive to be intensely knowledgeable about our wares to make sure the customer was taken care of and happy. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last few years working for my aunt, it was that sex sold.
When I clicked the tiny padlock in place, I pushed my magic into the collar and felt my body shift delightfully. By the time I opened my eyes, I was smiling at my firm and tight body in the mirror.
Soft, B-cup breasts swayed slightly as I turned and admired my thin muscled thighs and pert butt. With a happy giggle I went to the closet and took out my costume, which was a red PVC catsuit, and then easily slid into it and zipped it up. It wasn’t as tight as some of the latex outfits that I’ve used in this form, but it would breathe better and wouldn’t be overly hot as the day went on.
Next came the black underbust waist cincher which contrasted nicely with the red. It took me a good twenty minutes to get it closed and tied off. The patent leather boots were next. They had chunky heels that only lifted me two inches and the uppers came all the way to my knees with red laces.
All of this was planned perfectly for work: the PVC so I would be cooler, the cincher so I wouldn’t lift things badly and hurt my back – with the added effect of making my waist tiny – and the boots which were incredibly comfortable because I’d be on my feet all day long.
I slipped on a pair of wrist cuffs just for fun and then pulled my long shiny black hair up in a high ponytail.
“I feel so yummy.”
There was a knock on my outer door and I heard Aunt Celia call out. “Kenny, are you up?”
“In here, Aunt Celia.”
She opened the bedroom door as I was sitting down at the makeup table, took one look at me, and then groaned.
“Why do you do this to me? It’s bad enough to see you wearing my mother’s body, but in that outfit?”
I started plucking at my eyebrows. “You know I like to use it when I work. Grandma Helen was always in great shape and I look hot in this.”
She walked up behind me in her sexy witch outfit she wore every year, and started messing with my ponytail, pulling it tighter and smoothing my hair out.
“You should have used Georgina’s necklace. Then you could have really filled it out.”
I laughed as I picked up an eyebrow pencil. “My back would have been killing me by lunch. Her breasts are just too big and she was way too soft. I wouldn’t have lasted more than two hours on my feet.”
“True.” Once my hair was to her liking she looked at me through the mirror. “You ready to make some big money today?”
“Yup! I’ll be up in about twenty minutes.”
Leaning in, she kissed my cheek as I smiled at her. “Are you still going by Ophelia in this body?”
With a nod I grinned. I like Shakespeare, sue me.
Aunt Celia looked at my outfit again and rolled her eyes before turning and making her way to the store.
I did my eyes up very dramatically in black and red, added a Marilyn above my lip to the left and then finished off with bright red lipstick to match the catsuit.
Once I was finished I looked myself over in the mirror once more and then turned off the lights before going to work.
“Excuse me,” a shaky male voice said from behind me as I was restocking the sage.
There would be a lot of smudge sticks sold for Samhain, and by two o’clock we’d already cleaned out two bins. I sat the restock box down and pushed it under the skirting of the table before standing.
A late-twenties man stood before me, heavy-set, with a sharp Vandyke beard gracing his chubby face. I caught his eyes snapping up from my body to meet mine as I smiled with judgment.
“May I help you?”
He swallowed and looked to the side at the display case where we had some more expensive items behind lock and key.
“I wanted to buy an athame.”
Reaching out, I touched his arm. “Just one sec, hon. I need to get the keys.”
Putting a little extra swing in my hips I sauntered over to the counter and retrieved the display keys before making my way back.
“Which one do you want?”
He pointed out an overly ornate blade as I unlocked the case. “Are you sure? Give me your hand.”
His palms were sweaty, but I could feel the tiniest bit of power in him. Closing my eyes I threw out my senses to the case and the various blades therein until I found what I was looking for.
“I think this one would be better for you.” I pulled a smaller blade down and handed it to him. “It’s less flashy, but you’ll have a better connection with it. And on the plus side, it’s less expensive.”
I closed off the case and took his hand again. “You’re just starting off in the craft aren’t you?”
“Good. While you can connect with any athames or wands and so forth, it’s best to be guided by someone with a little more experience at first.”
Leading him around, I stocked him up with clay to make his panticle, applewood to make his wand, a nice chalice, a censer for his incense, a mortar and pestle, a bell, and several different candles. I did all of this while holding his hand and ensuring two things. The first was that everything would be attuned to him in the easiest way possible, and the second was that by the time we’d made it to the applewood, he was deeply in lust with me.
He’d come in wanting to spend sixty dollars on a fancy blade and I’d wound up selling him a hundred and fifty dollars worth of supplies. He’d need them. I didn’t try to rip him off or anything, but I’d more than doubled the sale just by happily being me. Plus, he’d be satisfied with his alter supplies for years to come.
By the time I handed him his bag, he was profusely thanking me. I thought he was going to ask me out for a moment there, but he got a hold of his hormones at that last moment. I’d really hate to remind him that I already saw the wedding band on his left hand. That was usually a little embarrassing, and those customers tended take a while to come back for a return visit.
When the afternoon help came in, Aunt Celia and I had a late lunch and got back to work soon thereafter until it turned into a madhouse up to close. Magic shops are very popular on the recognized holidays and the sabbats. Halloween is big because we carry costumes and Samhain is big because it’s the Wiccan New Year. Having them fall on the same night is the Black Friday of the retail magic industry. So you can imagine how tired I was when Celia locked the door and flicked off the switch on the open sign.
Contrary to what I told Leo, Celia and I let the night staff handle restocking while she counted down the till and I ran off to rid myself of the costume and get ready for my date.
The one really good thing about changing forms is that each time I do, I start anew. Great Aunt Lillian was as fresh as she would be if she were to wake up that morning after a long night’s rest and the next morning, when I put Grandma Helen’s collar back on, I’ll be fresh as a daisy.
The downside to having a fresh form was that some of my ancestors lived au naturel, meaning they didn’t shave their legs or pluck their eyebrows, or even trim their garden, if you get my meaning. The further back in time I reached, the less grooming there seemed to be. So I needed the time to make sure Lillian’s body was up to twenty-first century standards.
Forty-five minutes later, I slipped on a mostly spandex skirt in canary yellow with a matching cami that showed off a nice bit of cleavage. In a semi-formal dress I could have passed as a boy dressing up like a girl. In this outfit there was no mistaking that my body was anything but female. It made me smile at what Leo would think. How would he justify to himself that I was a boy underneath? What rational would he use?
The rest of the time I spent arranging my blonde hair and making sure my makeup was perfect.
It may seem like I was going all out to impress a close friend, but I’d had an on again/off again crush on him for years, so I wanted to take advantage of it while I had the chance.
“Kendra, your date is here,” Aunt Celia called from the top of the stairs.
Celia was in on the game from the beginning. Since Leo was a friend of the family she had even gone so far as to okay him finding out about things that were less publically known about the Redferne’s if I was so inclined. She wanted me to be happy; it was one of the things I loved about her. There was never any question about why I felt the need to be a girl for the majority of my adolescent and adult life. As long as I was happy then it was justified.
Slipping on a pair of strappy sandals, I grabbed my purse and made my way up.
Once we got past Leo’s disbelief at how I looked like a real girl and made it to his car, we were rolling down the street.
“You look great.”
I smiled. “You said that back at the store.”
“Yeah, but still. I just… I mean… everything.”
The date was a date. We found our seats and midway through the movie I got bored and lifted the armrest between us, took Leo’s hand and put it on my thigh as I snuggled up. This added a measure of fun to the evening. By the time the movie was over and we’d made it back to the car he was fully turned on which delighted me to no end.
Twenty minutes later we were sitting in the street, in front of Redferne's, making out like a couple of sixteen year olds that managed to get a hold of dad’s car for the evening.
Leo’s hands were all over me, kneading my butt, sliding alongside my breasts, and occasionally slipping under the hem of my skirt, but that’s as far as he would go.
Once the windows were thoroughly fogged I broke away and breathed heatedly in his face. “Do you want to come inside?”
His shoulders stiffened. “Isn’t your aunt just down the hall from you?”
I nodded and leaned in to gently bite his lip. “Aunt Celia wants me to be happy. Having you in my bed would make me extremely happy.”
That’s when he froze up.
“Uh… we haven’t really talked about that. I mean…”
I paused and pulled back further to take a look at him. “You’re having second thoughts.”
I sighed at him calling me by my boy name and wiggled off of him as I straightened my top. “I thought you were comfortable with me, Leo. When you figure out what it is you want then give me a call.”
Before he had a chance to say anything else, I opened the door and stepped out, swinging my purse over my shoulder.
Yes, I could have told him right then and there that I wasn’t currently sporting a penis and he could pretty much have as much fun as he wanted with any number of girls of all shapes and sizes, but I had my pride. The person I wound up being with would have to accept me – all of me. For a while there, I thought Leo was that person.
We’d known each other for about seven years, ever since he moved into the neighborhood and I befriended him on the first day of school. Granted, he was a year behind me, but we were only seven months apart in age.
I never hid the fact that I was bisexual and I’ve told him on more than a few occasions that I found him attractive. That’s why I thought he finally worked through his sexuality issues and took a chance tonight. I didn’t hold it against him. Some people were just repressed by society and their peers. The best you can do is let them know what they are missing and hope they figure it out on their own.
But I wasn’t going to beg or talk him into a relationship. It had to be his decision and his idea to take the step that he was afraid of, otherwise there was no chance whatsoever that he’d accept the more fantastic portions of my life.
After watching Leo drive off, I inserted the key into the lock of the door and heard the telltale sound of clicking claws on cement approaching from my left. I looked and frowned at the light colored coyote coming to a halt in front of the store. It stared at me for a moment before moving to the wall and shifting right there in front of God and everyone that happened to be out seriously late at night.
Yes, it was odd to see a coyote out in the middle of the Montrose on a Saturday night. Considering the store was just a few miles away from downtown and all its skyscrapers. The closest thing to a woodland area would be Memorial Park, several miles west of there, but it was a park. Pack animals don’t tend to hang out there.
What wasn’t surprising to know was that the coyote was a therianthrope. You might be more familiar with the term shapeshifter or lycanthrope, but neither of those is technically correct. A lycanthrope is a werewolf; named after Lycaon, King of Arcadia, from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Weres are ruled by the lunar cycle and can only change forms three times a month surrounding the full moon; whereas a shapeshifter is someone that can change their shape into someone else. Therianthropes are simply human to animal shifters, much like the supernatural creature that was leaning against the wall of Redferne's leering at me rather wickedly. They could change back and forth into one form.
She was wearing a tight pair of stretch jeans and a black sports bra that held back a seriously large set of breasts that made the ones I had look lemon-sized in comparison. Considering Lillian was a heavy C-cup, that said quite a lot about my late night visitor.
“Shasta,” I said, trying to act unsurprised at her appearance.
“Kenneth Redferne,” her eyes traveled the length of my body. “You’re looking rather pedestrian tonight. I liked the bondage outfit you were wearing earlier much better, but I think I would like to see it on this body.”
I cleared my throat at the thought of her spying on me; not that I thought she wasn’t. Shasta, the princess bitch of the local train of thercoyotes, was looking for a head dog. Those are technical terms by the way.
The thercoyotes are matrilineal, where property and hereditary positions are passed down through the maternal lines. That meant her mother was in charge of the train and Shasta was next in line, but she had to have a powerful mate in order to move up the hierarchal ladder. For some unknown reason, she picked me to fill that position.
If she was another witch, I probably wouldn’t have any problem at all jumping at the chance. Shasta stood just over six feet tall with waist length coal black hair and copper skin indicative of her Native American heritage, but as it stood I had little desire to turn furry or deal with leading a train of other furries.
“It was a costume…,” I nearly stammered, trying my best to keep from being sexually intimidated.
Her grin turned lascivious. “You and I know better, pet. There’s no need to be embarrassed about having a fetish that your lover enjoys as well.”
When Shasta peeled herself away from the wall, her hips rolled seductively as she approached me, and I thanked the Goddess that she was wearing running shoes and not high heels or else I’d be a goner for sure.
“Come on, Carrie’s is still open. I’ll buy you a hot chocolate so you’ll sleep easier tonight.”
I swallowed with some difficulty and glanced down the street to see the twenty-four hour café she was talking about. Her suggestion was the best of only a few choices I had to deal with, so I nodded while I relocked the store and dropped my keys in my purse.
Shasta didn’t give me a chance to sidestep when she took my elbow, rather possessively, letting anyone observing us know that she was dominant. Our height alone should answer that question as she towered over me.
Her muscles tightened under my hand and I had to force my eyes forward so I wouldn’t be distracted by how powerful she was.
“So,” Shasta began our traditional dance, the same one we had whenever she felt the need to tempt me. “What’s this week’s argument?”
I rolled my eyes and tried to think as quickly as I could. Before I could say anything she started listing the previous ones.
“Age isn’t a factor since it’s traditional for the queen to be older than her mate. Your gender hopping isn’t a problem since I’m bisexual and you only need to be a guy long enough for us to have a daughter. Even your predilection for changing bodies several times a day will insure we never grow stale with one another. Your apprenticeship with your aunt is encouraged as it strengthens the train…”
“Shasta,” I said, trying to cut her off before she got on a roll. “That same apprenticeship has to take precedence, even over the train. It would be a conflict of interest.”
She patted my hand. “Nonsense. You would have power over them and make sure that they don’t break any of the Council’s rules. If anything it would insure that they would behave, and I have no problem with you enforcing the laws. If they break them then they have nobody to blame but themselves.”
Shasta smiled and looked down at me. “Your arguments are become weaker, pet.”
We entered the café and after escorting me to a clean table, she went to the counter to place our order.
I nervously picked at my nails occasionally looking at Shasta and imagining what it would be like to share her bed. Then I would shake it off seconds later. My job, present and future, required me to be aggressive and dominant, but the thought of letting my submissive side out in a personal relationship was very tempting. That thought drove me nuts at times. The one thing that brought me back to reality was the thought of changing into an animal.
It sounds weird, I know. I mean I hop around in different bodies like changing clothes, so why would getting furry make me uncertain? Maybe it was the thought of changing into a canine. I never understood the attraction at being a werewolf, thercoyote, weredog, whatever. Maybe if it was a panther, or a tiger, or even a cougar; that would be cool. Maybe I was just a cat person.
My attention was brought back to Shasta when she set the hot chocolate on the table in front of me.
She gracefully sat opposite me and crossed her legs. “Okay, what’s the good excuse this week?”
I looked down at my drink and then back up at her.
“Maybe I just don’t want to be changed.”
Shasta dropped her head down until she was looking at me through her long eyelashes. “You do know that I can do it painlessly, right? The days of claws and biting are in the past.”
With a glare I said, “I’m quite familiar with how it works. I aced supernatural creatures studies when I was thirteen.”
She regarded me for a moment and then her eyes narrowed as if she’d finally figured me out. “After Samhain I want you to spend the weekend with us.”
“Shasta, I really don’t think…”
“Call it a trial run if you want.” She leaned back on her chair and appeared relaxed. “You really can’t properly judge the lifestyle unless you sample it for yourself. If you still refuse then I’ll let you be.”
That got my attention. My vision sharpened on her eyes to see if she was telling the truth.
She nodded. “Friday night through Monday morning. You will experience much of what it means to be my mate. I know you are no coward; no Redferne witch ever is. The only thing I can think of that would hold you back is the unknown, and now I’ve given you sufficient reason to explore.”
I mulled it over for a few moments. “What about the coyote parts?”
She smiled deviously. “You can’t tell me you don’t have the ability to transform yourself if the need arises.”
The truth was I could. I just never felt the desire ever to do so. “It’s limited to eight hours.”
“That should be sufficient.”
After Shasta escorted me back to Redferne's my acceptance of her offer was more than enough to work her up, and by default I was around to satisfy some of her cravings. Never let it be said that I didn’t sacrifice for the community. Just because that took place pressed up against the door being teased by an overly aggressive thercoyote in human form doesn’t meant that it didn’t count.
Being worked up by Leo and Shasta in less than an hour was torture enough all on its own.
As sexually frustrated as I was at that moment, sleep was the furthest thing from my mind. Instead, I unlocked the antiquities room and browsed the various trinkets of my ancestors. Over each item I’d posted a picture and a general biography, so that I could more easily remember who was who.
I slipped off my heels and removed Lillian’s bracelet, setting it in its place on a black velvet cloth. As soon as I pulled my hand away I felt my body revert back to my male self.
Looking down, I smirked at the outfit I was wearing and how it didn’t hang properly anymore. Almost all of it was stretchy so it still conformed to my male body, but the cami sagged on my chest a little and I felt a warm wetness between my legs from my most recent activities with Shasta. It was an odd feeling to have when you had a penis and testicles.
I trailed my fingers along each of the trinkets, occasionally glancing up at a picture. Stopping in front of Georgina’s necklace, I brushed my fingers over the gold and brought to mind her voluptuous body. Passing it by, I stopped at Great Grandmother Mina’s wedding ring– tack on two more greats to that. Looking up at her picture, I studied her rather plain face and petite body.
There was nothing overly attractive about her; she was simply ordinary, and that was the mood I was in at the moment.
I took the ring and slipped it on my left hand, willing a little magic into the item and felt the magic returning and transforming me into her double. On the way out of the room I eyed a sliver torque behind glass.
It was the only item that I’d never tried on because it belonged to the progenitor of the family, Anne Redferne. Out of respect for her sacrifice, no Redferne witch ever used her torque. The decision was a shame too, because from her daughter’s book of shadows, the descriptions of her mother made me very curious about what she would look like. She was from Italian and French decent which supposedly gave her an exotic look. I guess I’d never know.
With my decision already made, I locked up the room and made my way back to my own for the evening.
Despite my earlier desire to sate myself sexually, I wound up just taking out my journal and writing out my frustrations. Maybe it was Mina’s biology damping my hormones down. From previous experience I knew she wasn’t very emotional one way or another.
By five a.m. I was reading a text on gemstones and their various properties, still having no desire to sleep. I’d pay for it eventually.
Even though the women I transformed into were fresh, my male body still needed rest. It’s all very confusing, but as long as I get a decent night’s sleep the following day I’d be okay. Going for much longer than that and I’d be putting my health at risk.
My alarm alerted me at the time I needed to get ready, which I did with eagerness. I wanted to distract myself from relationships altogether for the day.
The catsuit was clean and hanging in the closet thanks to the brownies that held residence in the ceiling space between my room and the floor above. It may sound weird, but this is what they do. They help around the apartment, keeping everything clean, repaired, and organized, and in return I gift them with fresh cream or more often honey. The honey isn’t payment and if I said it was then I’d quickly lose my brownies, word would spread and I’d wind up doing my own laundry for quite a long time. They gift me with a tidy home and I gift them with honey.
Once I was shifted over to Grandma Helen, I dressed, did my hair and makeup, and then filled a saucer I keep on the dresser with honey before going upstairs to make ready for day two of the Halloween rush.
Thirty minutes before we opened, Aunt Celia was setting up the till while I picked at my nails, trying to remove some residual candle wax out from underneath.
“I noticed you used Mina’s ring last night.”
Looking up at her, I frowned. “Leo’s still not ready.”
“Patience child; it’s not every day a young man faces sexuality altering decisions.”
With a nod I said. “I know, and I’m being patient. I didn’t snap at him or anything. We made out in his car for almost thirty minutes before I asked him to my apartment.”
Her brows lifted. “What happened then?”
“He froze up.”
Dividing up the bills for the drawer, she started inserting them into their proper slots. “Perhaps you need to give him a little incentive.”
“I did. I was afraid if I did any more that he’d lose himself in his jeans.”
Celia lightly snorted. “I’ll light a candle of clarity for him tonight.”
“Thanks,” I said with appreciation.
The sound of tiny bells ringing caught both of our attention. We looked to the back of the store and I spotted the familiar flashing red light above a closed and locked door.
My head snapped around. “Can I go with you?”
“Ophelia,” she called me since I was in Grandma Helen’s body. “We open in less than thirty minutes.”
“But, they don’t usually take that long; please?” I begged. “You know I’m ready. I’ve passed all the tests and you haven’t been able to stump me on trivia for six months.”
Aunt Celia sighed and reached underneath the counter for my equipment belt, and held it back from me when she saw my excitement. “You stand behind me to the left. You don’t say a word, no matter what, unless I tell you different.”
“I’m serious, Ophelia. You keep a closed face. We are supposed to be impartial. That’s the only reason the peace is kept.”
I nodded and reached for my belt, making small adjustments until it hung off my hip. My iron athame was to the right on the back of my hip, my silver athame just in front of that, and my wand on the left hip. Considering the outfit I was wearing, I looked wicked badass.
Aunt Celia’s belt was similar, but she had the added badge of authority pinned to the left of center. She was the Arbiter for the Fifth District within the South Central United States. If there were disputes within the supernatural world in her district, she solved them. There wasn’t an appeal process; her word was law and she had the power to enforce it.
The private room in the back of the store was her arbitration room where two people – or whatever – agreed to meet under truce to have her settle their problems. That way the peace was kept. If they took matters into their own hands then Aunt Celia went out and took matters into hers. That usually resulted in something being cast out, destroyed, rendered powerless, or killed.
For example: Houston was home to a fairly large werewolf pack. The leader, or Ufric, decided he wanted to edge in on Pixie territory. Instead of coming in to settle the dispute, they had themselves a little war in the backstreets of Bellaire, a residential/business subdivision of the city. Two human businesses were destroyed in the process. Aunt Celia left one night and returned with the Alpha’s testicles in a jar alongside the Pixie Leader’s wings.
They tended to quiet down soon thereafter. Once reparations were made, Aunt Celia allowed them to choose new leaders.
That was five years ago. Currently, anyone not willing to risk their masculinity voluntarily came to Redferne's and entered through a private passageway that led to the Arbiter’s Room.
When she opened the door, the two parties were already seated at opposing ends of a rather long table. It was easier to control them that way if violence broke out.
One of them I recognized as the leader of a San Antonio-area Wiccan coven, Alice Sauer. The other was in full Tonkawa – south central Texas American Indian – leathers and feathers. It was a really weird looking sight.
They stood when Aunt Celia and I walked in. The Indian guy gave me a disturbing thorough onceover with his eyes, but I kept my face empty of emotion. When Celia sat, so did the others. I took my place behind her, to the left, against the wall. Then they sat as well.
“Plaintiff?” asked Celia.
Alice Sauer made to stand up, but my aunt waved at her to stay seated.
“What’s the problem, Alice?”
Her lips bunched for a moment and she looked at the Indian. “My family has used the same magical sink for five generations. With Samhain only tomorrow, this… person says we can’t use it anymore.”
For those of you not in the know, a magical sink is a place of power where most people that perform magic go for a boost to whatever working they use. It’s also used on sabbats to celebrate.
Celia nodded. “Anything else?”
She sank in on herself a little. “On Mabon, a few of my coven remained behind and became intoxicated. They might have caused a problem with the local authorities, but they paid their fines and spent the weekend in jail. They’ve apologized.”
Aunt Celia turned to the Indian. “Johnson?”
“The five people she spoke of desecrated the land and have not made satisfactory reparations.”
With that, he relaxed back in his chair. Apparently Johnson wasn’t one for lecturing.
Celia turned back to Alice. “You have a choice. It’s his people’s land. Pay the reparations or find another sink. We’re done.”
Johnson nodded with satisfaction and left, but Alice chose to stick around.
“Celia, he only just told us this last night; a single day before Samhain. How could you…”
I nearly jumped when my aunt slammed her palm on the table with a loud smack! “Do not make the mistake of using our friendship as a way to influence my decision, Alice Sauer. If this magic sink was so important to you then you should make damn sure not to endanger its future use. I would highly suggest gathering those five that caused the problem and make sure they kiss Johnson Lightfeather’s wrinkled butt, though even that might not work with only one day left.”
Aunt Celia stood and I saw the muscles along her cheeks harden. “As I said before; we’re done.”
Alice gathered her purse with shaky hands, but with the air of defiance masking her face. “Yes, we are.”
When the door slammed behind her on the way out, Aunt Celia sighed and shook her head. “You’re absolutely sure you want to be an Arbiter, Ophelia?”
I giggled. “Oh yeah.”
Besides the magic store, being an Arbiter was the family business. Only the long-lined families had the power to pull it off and the Redferne’s were one of the longest still in existence. Anne Redferne was hanged for witchcraft in Lancaster, near the upper central west coast of England. She was one of the original Pendle witches whose trial’s reputation rivaled those of Salam in the United States. That was in 1612.
We were and still are a matriarchal family, and I can obviously trace my line directly through to her. Perhaps that was one of the reasons I rarely spent time in my male body. I always felt more comfortable in that of a female, not for any perverse reason – although, to my moderate shame, I did have a couple of those years – but because it felt more natural to me. When I performed magic I only did so when I was female or in transition toward said body. It felt wrong to do so any other way, like I was betraying my ancestors or something. Plus, magic was always stronger through the women of the line.
In any case, Arbiters were brought into being sometime in the mid 1800’s; dates vary depending on who you get the story from. Redferne women were, and still are, at the top of the list for candidates to fill those positions. Seeing as how I was a direct descendant and my aunt was available to train me, I jumped at the opportunity. There was only one catch.
Once my training was over, I had to choose one of my descendants and take on her likeness permanently. I could still change back and forth as I liked, but instead of my base form being Kenny Redferne, male, it would be Kendra… or whatever name I chose to replace it.
Arbiters could only be female.
Go ahead and ask me if I cared. The answer would be no. If I wanted to be male, I could simply take something of my male self and affect a transition much like I’ve been doing for years. The only thing was when I took it off I would always revert to female. Frankly, I thought it would be a relief.
While I could simply choose one of my ancestors and be her for an extended period of time, Aunt Celia always tried to dissuade me from doing so. She said that experimenting was fine; I should always be open to new experiences, but running away from myself wasn’t healthy.
Once the afternoon shift came on, Celia and I had lunch. I returned to the sales floor thereafter and she had to go take care of another dustup. The Greater Sabbats were the worst time of the year for Arbiters, especially Samhain and Beltane when mutable magical energy is at its highest.
Those of us that aren’t altruistic with our powers use these times for subterfuge and control. Then the Arbiter has to step in and smack them down. The majority of her job may be to negotiate the peace between people, but the more important aspect is keeping chaos from taking over.
“Excuse me.” A customer interrupted my musings. “Is this lemongrass fresh?”
I looked down at the jar of dried greens and then crooked an eyebrow at her. “It’s dried lemongrass. If you want fresh lemongrass, then I would suggest your local supermarket or organic farmers market.”
“Well, you can never tell if they use pesticides, can you?”
I smiled, trying to hold back my sarcasm. While there are a few things you could use that particular herb for, the main one was a little self-serving. “This will be more than good enough for your lust potion.”
She made an affronted noise with her throat. “That’s not…”
I held up a hand in an effort to forestall her made-up excuses. “Ma’am, I’m very familiar with the uses for every herb we sell, and unless you have a problem repelling tropical snakes, during autumn, in Houston, then you’re pretty much stuck with the lust potion. Just make sure the recipient is aware what he or she is drinking and the Arbiter won’t have any problems with you.”
Her face was glowing red from embarrassment, but she dipped into her purse to pull out some cash before stopping. “Do you have any,” she sighed in resignation. “… pomegranate.”
I smiled and nodded. “It’s in the green and lavender bottle on the third shelf.”
When I rang her up, I cupped her hand and gave her a warm smile. Considering pomegranate was one of the main ingredients for a fertility potion, I finally figured out what she wanted to do with everything. “Goddess willing, you’ll be home with your new child by Lammas.”
She looked down and back up to me several times. “Thanks. Um… where did you get your costume?”
“Theo’s House of Leather. It’s around the corner off Westheimer. Tell him we sent you.”
Her face reddened even more before she disappeared out the door.
I was nearly out of metaphorical gas when it came time to close up shop. Celia still hadn’t shown up and I was starting to get a little worried. Usually she didn’t take so long to conclude business and almost always called to tell me if she was going to be late.
After counting down the till and locking the deposit in the office safe, I sat down to do the nightly books on the computer. It all came down to just entering numbers off the register receipts and balancing it with the day’s cash and credit card slips. It was a little boring, but it kept our CPA off our backs.
Once I let the night crew out, I locked up the store and went downstairs to make sure Aunt Celia hadn’t snuck in without my knowing. Her apartment was dark and empty, so I went to the antiquities room and grabbed Great Grandmother Georgina’s necklace. If I didn’t distract myself, I’d just sit around and worry about everything, and if Georgina was good for anything, it was for a serious distraction.
I stripped out of my costume and unlocked the collar. When I felt a wash of exhaustion flow across my body, I knew I was pushing myself and really just needed to get a good night’s sleep. However, with Celia out there, it would be restless and therefore useless.
Georgina’s necklace was on me as quickly as I could manage and the fatigue turned to energy. My Great Grandmother’s body was quite exuberant. It was another reason I spent so much time as her when I was fifteen and sixteen – well that and her proportions also.
The one downfall was that she was groomed like a girl from the 1800’s which meant I had to take the time to shave my legs and pits, not to mention pluck her eyebrows like crazy.
Forty-five minutes later, I was powdering my legs and bottom.
The female part of my closet contained a number of outfits for the various women in my life. Georgina had her own section. While I could mix and match with most of the others, her body made wearing their clothes problematic. That's why I usually stayed with stretchable fabrics; they adapted, but not well enough to handle double-D cup breasts and thirty-nine inch hips with a twenty-four inch waist. Like I said before, she was curvy.
With a naughty smile, I chose the latex leggings with the black lacings on the side and the soft black leather over the bust corset with shoulder straps. It was perfect for what I had in mind. Since I’d worn it a number of times before it didn’t take that long to get everything situated. My makeup was heavier than normal so that I might be able to score a drink from overeager guy.
I didn’t normally drink, but every once in a while I had a single wine or a small mixed drink to help me relax. Alcohol inhibited magic, along with a lot of other things, so indulging in something like that was frowned upon, but a single drink wouldn’t do any harm.
Once I slipped on my four inch heeled sandals, I grabbed a clutch and was out the door.
Georgina’s body took getting used to in terms of movement. With those exaggerated curves came a large alteration in my center of gravity. Her hips naturally rolled quite a lot. It originally took me about two months of wearing her hours a day to get used to it. Now it was like putting on a nice set of gloves. Just being her made me think very naughty thoughts.
Before I made it halfway down the hall, the rear doorbell rang. It was almost eleven o’clock on a Saturday night. While it wasn’t unheard of to have visitors at all hours, considering the business we were in, it was still inconvenient, since I was going out and all.
Taking a quick look out the peephole, I sucked in a sharp breath. “Crap!”
Looking down at myself, I knew I didn’t have enough time to go change. Instead, I unlocked the door and raised an eyebrow at Leo, dressed in nice jeans and a red buttondown.
His eyes widened when he took me in. “Uh…”
I pointed at him. “Aren’t you the guy that made my cousin cry last night?”
He was totally caught off guard at the accusation, which was exactly where I wanted him.
“Do you know what she went through to look perfect for you… after working a twelve hour day? Hmm? I suppose you’re here to make out again and feel her tits up, like you did last night, only to leave her hanging at the end.”
His mouth was working but nothing was coming out.
“Or are you too caught up staring at my tits that you’ve totally forgotten about Kendra?”
Leo’s hand slapped against his eyes as he took a step backward. “I’m sorry. Look, is Kenny… um Kendra here?”
I closed the distance and reached up to thump him on his forehead. “When my cousin presents herself as a girl you use feminine pronouns and call her Kendra.” After sighing for dramatic effect I barreled on. “Alright, Kendra said you were pretty gifted, so let’s see it.”
His fingers parted slightly so he could peek out. “W-what?”
“Your penis, your tool, the grand manhood, your summer sausage, you know… your dick. Let’s see it. I’m sure she was just boasting. I don’t buy that a guy as skinny as you could have a penis as large as she said.”
Leo’s hand dropped and he agonizingly looked behind me. “Is Kendra here?”
“Nope. Her aunt had an appointment so Kendra had to run the store for an entire day… again. So, you’re stuck with me.” Reaching out, I grabbed his arm and pulled him inside before closing and locking the door.
The hall light was dim, but there was more than enough to see Leo had gotten somewhat nervous when I turned on him.
“So… what did you want to see Kendra for?”
He took a step back, in the direction of my room. “Um, well, I think that’s between me and… her.”
I smiled slightly and gave him an encouraging nod. “Good, you’re learning. Now that you’ve got the pronouns down, can I assume an apology might be in order?”
Leo looked a little flustered and he took another step back. “Look… who are you again?”
Setting my hands on my hips I smiled wickedly. “Cressida Redferne, but you can call me Miss Redferne or Mistress, whichever.”
“Okay… Miss Redferne. If Kendra isn’t here, can I leave a message for her?”
The thought of teasing him even more was cut off when I heard the lock on the door opening. Celia stepped through and then stopped when she saw us. Her hair looked like it was styled with her fingers and there was evidence of grass and half of a leaf in there as well. I dropped my eyes down her body and noticed it looked as if she’d been rolling around in the forest.
She glanced at Leo and then at me and what I was wearing before appearing somewhat disappointed. “Should I even ask what you’re up to this time?”
I shrugged. “Just setting Kendra’s boyfriend straight.”
“And you needed to wear the fetish outfit, because…?”
I was busted and I knew it. Celia didn’t approve of me going out to clubs and she knew that was exactly what I was prepared to do.
My face dropped in defeat, so I grabbed Leo’s hand and tugged him with me back to my room. He came along willingly, but highly confused. Once I flipped the light on and tossed my clutch on the coffee table, I spun around to see a very nervous Leo standing at the door trying to find something to do with his hands.
“Look, if Kendra’s sleeping maybe I can just leave her a note,” he said as he tried his best not to stare at my ample cleavage.
I pointed to the couch. “Sit. Before you ever get a chance to talk to her again, you and I are going to have a conversation.”
He looked torn about even stepping into the apartment properly. “I don’t think that’s a good idea. I shouldn’t even be in here; if she finds out and gets the wrong idea…”
I couldn’t help it and started laughing. “Trust me, Leo, Kendra and I are close, very close. We share everything, but I think I can hold myself back from your overwhelming manliness for our talk. Now sit… or do I need to get my fur-lined handcuffs and cat-o-nine-tails?”
Turning away, I stopped at the entertainment center and turned on some music, but kept it low enough not to interfere with our conversation. Heading into the kitchen, I opened the refrigerator and moved several bags of frozen vegetables aside until I could retrieve a half empty bottle of Jägermeister. It wasn’t what I really wanted, but since I was stuck at home for the night, I could have more than one drink.
Grabbing a couple of stemmed shot glasses, I returned to the couch and sat down with a smile.
“I don’t really drink,” Leo said as he eyed the green bottle cautiously.
I spun the cap off and filled the glasses. “Don’t worry, it’s just to loosen you up. I was joking earlier about showing me your thick manliness.”
He took the glass, but waited until I tossed mine back before sipping at his. “Ugh… it tastes like Nyquil.”
I shrugged. “I really wanted a strawberry margarita, but with Celia on the prowl I’d never make it out. Just shoot it to the back of your throat and swallow. Don’t swish it around your mouth.”
Leo glanced at me like I was losing it. “How’s that supposed to help?”
“It’s made to light up the taste buds on the back of your tongue, not the ones up front.”
He looked doubtful, but followed directions and grimaced less.
“Okay,” I said as I filled up another shot for both of us. “Now, tell me about your intensions toward Kendra, and don’t bother lying. We tell each other everything, so it’ll catch up to you later if you do.”
After eyeing the second shot I poured for him he set it down and gave me a wary look.
“Shouldn’t she be here for this?”
Leo was trying to wrangle his way out of talking to me; it was easy to see. I just grinned and tossed back my second shot.
“You two made out in the front of your car. You were hard enough to cut diamonds, but when the time came to pony up you chickened out leaving my cousin all hot and bothered. She basically told you when you figure out what it is you want then give her a call.”
As I informed him of what I knew, Leo’s face progressively got redder with embarrassment.
“So you can see, Leo, I know everything already. I know you know all about know her sexual orientation, and that she likes you, so what’s your side of the story?”
He shook his head and got up before heading to the door. I felt I had to say something.
“She’s not going to talk you into a relationship, you know.”
Leo stopped with his hand on the knob.
“If you regret it later on, you won’t have her to blame. It’ll all be on you. So you might want to think about that before you start something you won’t be able to handle.”
I wasn’t too surprised when he left. With my clubbing put on hold by Celia, I stripped off the clothes, took off Georgina’s necklace and promptly passed out in exhaustion.
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