A New Year's Transformation

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"I can't believe we struck out again" Ezra said while keeping his eyes on the road.

"Speak for yourself dude, I wasn't searching" I replied before turning to look out the window.

It was dark out now so I couldn't see very far but there was nothing to see anyway. It would just be more empty fields on either side of the road. It had been empty fields for the past 20 minutes and so it would remain for the next half hour.

"Don't try to back out now. We both made the New Year resolution that we'd get girlfriends this year. We failed." Ezra argued.

While that was true, I'd only agreed to the stupid resolution 12 months ago because it was obviously a big deal to him. I didn't actually take it seriously.

Still, he looked pretty sad about our failure which made me feel bad.

"Well it's not over yet. There's still a day left, we can go out tomorrow, see if we can't get lucky" I offered.

"Even if I believed that, which I don't, I have that New Year's dinner with my parents. It's a long drive, gotta leave early"

I hated seeing him like this. He was usually good fun to be around. The latest rejections at the festival we'd just left must have really gotten to him.

"I'm sure you'll find someone"

"Yeah" he gripped the steering and focused once again on the journey ahead.

I studied him from the passenger seat. For the life of me, I couldn't tell you why he had such hard luck dating. He looked handsome enough, a good build with decent style. I could admit that Ezra looked better than me and even I got some action here and there. Maybe girls could smell the desperation on him.

Unlike him though, I was single by choice. I just hadn't met the right person and until then, I was fine with meaningless flings.

"Yo, check this out" Ezra called out.

I looked ahead to see a young woman standing by the side of the road clutching her purse tightly.

When the car started to slow, I turned back to Ezra sharply.

"What are you doing?" I asked him.

"What do you mean? Let's give her a ride?"

I stared at him in disbelief, "Umm have you seen any movie ever? Keep driving"

"I can't just leave her here, it's late"

"Yeah, it could be a trap. We could get robbed or worse"

"And what if it's not?" he brought the car to a complete stop "Are you okay just leaving her by the side of the road this late?"

She began approaching the car and I could just make out the relieved expression on her face.

"And your kindness has nothing to do with the fact that it's a pretty girl?" I asked as she got closer to the passenger window. My window.

"Of course not"

"Thank you so much for stopping" she said in between uneven breaths "I've been walking for over an hour"

Her voice caught me off guard. It sounded much more mature than what you'd expect out of a woman that was no older than 25.

My gaze was drawn to the weird necklace she wore. A crescent moon intertwined with a trinity knot.

"Of course miss, how can we help?" Ezra leaned in towards my window to say.

"I lost my wallet and now my phone's dead. Can I trouble y'all for a ride? There's a motel about five miles that way." she pointed in our direction "I can maybe get a charge there and call for help"

"You can use my phone" Ezra offered.

"Thanks but I don't know any numbers. I know, very dumb of me."

"Not at all. Hop in, we'll give you a ride"

She squealed happily as she made her way for the rear doors. "Thank you so much"

I eyed her purse for any signs of a weapon. It didn't seem like she had any accomplices hiding out but that didn't mean she was safe yet.

"Y'all are so kind for helpin'. I can't tell you how many people just drove right by me" She said as soon as she was sitting comfortably and we were on our way.

'Can you blame them?' I thought to myself.

"We're happy to help" Ezra said all smiles and I could see why. She was pretty even if her makeup was a bit dark and off-putting.

"You don't talk much, do you?" she commented with a small laugh.

"Just tired" I replied looking through the rear view mirror.

=^..^=

"Thank you so much" she said while opening the rear door as soon as we came to a complete stop outside a run-down motel.

I'd gone from being wary of her to being worried about leaving her outside such a sketchy area.

"Are you sure you're okay here?" I asked "We can take you further"

"Let us atleast stay until you make that call" Ezra added.

"Y'all are too kind" she smiled brightly. "I'm fine, I promise"

"Okay umm, can I get your number?" Ezra followed up.

There it was.

She laughed, "Unfortunately, I can't give you that but here's something much more valuable"

She unhooked her necklace and held it out to me from the passenger window.

"I can't take that" I told her.

"Yeah, we don't need payment or anything" Ezra agreed.

"It's not payment, I want you to have it. Go on, I insist"

I looked over to Ezra who shrugged. I apprehensively reached out and took the necklace which had a surprising weight to it.

"Who knows, it might even be able to grant wishes or make your wildest desires come true" she said with that ever present smile.

"Sure" I responded.

"Can I atleast know your name?" Ezra called out as she turned to leave.

"Ceridwen" she voiced back before skipping over to the motel.

Weird name for a weird girl I guessed. I didn't question it. It had been a long night.

I tossed the necklace over to Ezra. "You keep it. You're the one that insisted we pick her up"

"It's heavy" he commented before putting it in his jacket pocket. "I struck out again"

"Trust me, it's probably for the best. That girl was cuckoo"

=^..^=

I collapsed onto the couch in our shared living room as soon as we got home. I was so tired.

Ezra came in behind me and tossed his keys into the tray on the coffee table.

It felt good to be back home. The festival had been okay but nothing beat the comfort of our two bedroom apartment.

I'd been ecstatic when Ezra had asked me to room with him over a year ago now. We'd been roommates in college and got alone well enough so it made sense.

I yawned audibly. I was suddenly feeling very tired. I'd been fine in the car but now it was all I could do to keep myself from falling asleep.

"Do you want to continue watching that show?" Ezra asked me after taking a seat in the living room.

I yawned again.

"I'm tired..." I cleared my throat. What was wrong with my voice. It sounded off and high pitched. Was I coming down with something?

"I'm tired" I repeated. That was better.

"Guess I'll find something else then"

I stood with my bed as my new destination and immediately felt dizzy.

"Woah" I said under my breath as caught myself from falling.

"Are you okay?" Ezra asked turning from the television.

"Yeah, guess those drinks are finally hitting" I answered.

=^..^=

I moaned and groaned as the morning sun rays pierced my eye lids. Had I forgotten to close the blinds? I never opened them in the first place so that was unlikely.

As I became more and more conscious, I felt an arm around me. I felt my head resting on someone. I moved my arm slightly and felt the thick hair.

What the fuck?

I opened my eyes to see a close-up of Ezra's face that sent me recoiling away.

I screamed and pushed away from him to the other side of the bed. Why were we in bed together?

The sudden motion made my chest bounce, a lot. I looked down at my naked breasts and screamed again, I pushed away again, this time clearing the entire bed and falling to the floor in the loud thud.

"Who's there?" I heard Ezra ask from the bed. I raised my head in a panic and looked around the room.

Why the hell was I in Ezra's bed? Why was I a girl?

Oh no no, this couldn't be happening. I raised my boxers with one hand and stuck my other one in there. What I felt was too much to handle. The room spun, soon I was staring at the ceiling and then nothing.

=^..^=

I opened my eyes slowly. I dared not look at myself.

'Please be a dream, please be a dream' I thought to myself.

Of course I didn't need to look. I could feel that the unfamiliar weight on my chest was still present.

'Dont panic. There has to be an explanation' I thought.

I scanned the room until my eyes landed on Ezra sitting in the corner of the room. I didn't say a word to him, I just hurried to the mirror on the wall to get a good look.

I was wearing a large men's button up shirt. That hadn't been there before. I studied the woman that was looking back at me in the mirror.

She looked like what I would have expected a sister to look like. Or even a twin. We possessed a lot of the same features except of course that she was an entirely different gender. I brought my hand down to the boxers and felt again. Totally flat just like earlier. It wasn't a dream.

"Charlie?" Ezra spoke. He looked and sounded the same.

"What the fuck is going on, Ezra?" I shouted as I turned to him.

"I swear I have no clue" he replied.

"Why am I a woman?"

"I don't know. It's not just that. So much is different"

He walked up to me and handed me his phone which had the gallery open. God, he towered over me. I must have lost atleast half a foot.

I turned my attention to the phone. I scrolled little by little and then faster and faster. Several hundred photos of us holding hands, hugging, even kissing. Well him and this woman.

"My parents called, they wanted to know when we're coming. Me and my girlfriend."

That clicked it in my head. My expression directed at him and his in return told me we were on the same page.

I snapped my fingers at him.

"What did you wish for?"

"Nothing yet. I promise I haven't done anything. You know I don't believe in that stuff"

"Well... well what's your heart desire or whatever" I searched his face and found guilt "Could that be why?"

"I don't know. You know as much as I do. I slept last night in my bed and woke up here with you in it"

"Did we..." I started to ask but realised I had much pressing issues "Where's the necklace?" I asked.

"I already checked, it's not in my jacket where I left it. Charlie, we can fix this. Let's just go back to that motel and hope she's still there"

I took a deep breath and sat back on the bed which caused more bouncing.

"Okay. Let's go"

=^..^=

I'd initially tried to wear his clothes. That idea was quickly shot down by our vastly different proportions. Eventually I resigned to the fact that I'd have to pick something out from her wardrobe.

While she possessed a generous selection of dresses and skirts, there were also good amount of pants options so that turned out not too painful.

The hard part was picking out a bra to combat her fairly large breasts which were eager to make their presence known at every opportunity.

In the end, I was able to make it through by convincing myself that this was temporary. We'd get to the motel, find Ceridwen and ask her to change me back. Easy.

That was the plan, so you can probably understand why I was so distraught when we arrived at the motel and the receptionist insisted he had no idea who we were talking about.

"Black hair, scary makeup, doesn't ring a bell?" I asked trying not to panic.

"No ma'am, I was here throughout last night and no such person came through that door".

I didn't know which hurt more. The ma'am or the fact that my only hope was now a dead end.

"What are we going to do?" I asked Ezra as soon as we were outside the motel. I crossed my arms, became hyper aware of how much cleavage that generated and uncrossed them.

"Maybe it'll wear off?" he was just as unsure as I was.

Could it wear off? No that didn't make any sense.

"What if you stopped wanting a girlfriend?" I asked on the way back to the car. I made sure to walk side by side with him so he couldn't stare at my butt like I'd caught him doing earlier. The jeans weren't as good an idea as I had initially thought.

"What?"

"I don't know, if you don't want a girlfriend anymore, maybe it'll revert?"

"How do I stop wanting a girlfriend exactly?" Ezra held the door open for me.

"I can get my own door, thank you"

He raised his hand in surrender then proceeded to the driver side.

"Just say it" I continued as soon as we were both seated "Say 'I don't want a girlfriend'"

He sighed "I don't want a girlfriend"

I looked down at myself. Nothing.

"Nothing happened" He said stating the obvious.

"Yes cause you don't mean it"

"Of course I don't mean it, Charlotte".

"Shut up" I said crossing my arm. Again, I realised what this motion did and uncrossed them.

"It's already afternoon" Ezra pointed out as soon as we returned home nearly an hour later. "We need to leave soon if we're going to make the New Year's dinner. We'll probably have to stop for gas as well"

"What are you talking about?" I stopped in my tracks.

"The New Year's dinner. It's tonight." he answered.

"Ugh I know that. We're not going" I said matter-of-factly.

"We have to, this means a lot to my parents"

"Ezra, look at me"

"I'm looking"

"Are you? There's no way we're going"

"It's just one evening. I don't want to disappoint them"

"Then go alone" I crossed my arms.

Fuck. I uncrossed them.

"We already said we're coming. If you don't show up, they'll know something's up and then they'll start asking questions"

"When did we...?"

Yeah I did remember promising Ezra's parents that we'll be there today. I remembered that clearly as well as a whole lot about Charlotte's life.

I remembered that Ezra and I had spent Thanksgiving with my parents. I remembered that I was an artist and I had a whole backlog of commissions to get to.

I'd always wanted to be an artist. I'd given up on that dream after I'd been denied that Art school scholarship. I'd always said I didn't get it because the Foundation wanted a girl but nobody believed me.

I remembered a whole lot about Charlotte's life. My life. Similar in a lot of ways to my actual experiences but so different in many others. I remembered what it was like to kiss Ezra. To have sex with him. I remembered why I agreed to date him in the first place.

I remembered what our first date was like and how he'd made me feel since. I remembered how excited his parents had been when we announced that we're coming.

"Fine, we can go" I agreed. "But you're helping me fix this as soon as we're back"

"Char, of course. We'll figure something out"

=^..^=

How the hell did it come to this? Last night I was an ordinary guy consoling his best friend about his lack of action and now, I looked down at the black dress I was wearing, how had it gotten so messed up so quickly?

"Is that what you're wearing?" he'd asked when I'd initially emerged from our bedroom wearing Jeans and a blouse.

"What's wrong with it?" I'd asked.

"Char, it's dinner with my parents"

"Stop calling me that"

"Sorry. Can you just wear something else?"

"Ugh fine".

My brain must have gone into autopilot because not only did I pick something else, I picked this dress which seemed like a good idea in the moment.

I wanted to look good since I was meeting his parents. That single fact also justified the makeup that I'd applied as well as the heels that found their way to my feet. I'd never done any of this stuff before but at the time, it seemed like second nature.

Now that we were in the car though and on our way, I just couldn't look Ezra in the eye. What must he have thought about me? His best friend of several years, the same friend that had joined him in picking up girls was now sitting in his passenger seat wearing a low cut dress and heels. I wanted to sink into the leather seat.

"You look good" he said. His face was red. It was so awkward.

"Thanks" What else could I have said in that moment?

"I'm sorry" he said "This whole thing is my fault. I did this to you"

"You couldn't have known. It's not like you wished for me to become this"

"Yeah" he kept his eyes on the road. "Still, if I wasn't so obsessed with that stupid resolution. If I hadn't stopped to help her"

I didn't respond. What could I say? 'It's okay'? No, it wasn't.

=^..^=

We began the final mile to his parent's house several hours later as it was getting dark. It was tiring enough being in the passenger seat, I could only imagine how tiring driving the whole way must have been.

"How are you feeling?" he asked when he noticed my tired posture.

I should be asking you that, dummy.

"I'm okay" I answered.

"We're almost there, don't worry"

I nodded.

"What if they don't like me?" I asked after a pause.

"How could they not? You're perfect".

I looked over to him. He looked embarrassed. He may have let that one slip unintentionally. I wasn't going to press though. I had to stay focused. Get through tonight, resume the quest for normalcy tomorrow.

=^..^=

Ezra's parents received us out in the driveway with bright smiles.

His mother met me with a big, friendly hug before I could even introduce myself.

"You must be Charlotte, we've heard so much about you" she said with her hand remaining on my cheek after the hug.

'You have?' I thought to myself.

"It's nice to meet you, Mrs. Duran, Mr. Duran" I forced.

"Welcome, my dear" his father responded.

"Please come in, and call me Margaret" his mother told me.

I couldn't help but admire the beautiful home as we made our way inside. I'd always known Ezra's family was comfortable but this remained an eye-opener.

"Honestly bro, I didn't think you had it in you" his brother Aaron wasted no time digging into him as soon as we all made it indoors.

Aaron who was 14 was almost a decade younger than his older brother. 9 years and change to be exact. Actually their parents had only wanted one child. Aaron here was unplanned but not unloved. I wasn't even sure whose memory that was anymore. Did Ezra tell Charlie this? Or was it Charlotte? Both?

"Missed you too, bro" Ezra replied dismissing his comment.

"Make yourself comfortable sweetie" Margaret called out "Dinner's almost ready"

I picked a seat on the sofa hoping Ezra would take the one beside me but he and his dad had different plans and were already on their way into a different room.

This left me alone with his quick trigger brother who again wasted no time closing the distance between us.

"How much is he paying you?" Aaron asked.

"What?"

"Come on, it's just me and you. I won't tell"

"Ezra...isn't paying me. Are you always this rude?" I asked him.

"It's part of my charm. You'll need to get used to it if you're going to be a part of this family"

Oh no no, that wouldn't be happening.

"Why do you think he paid me?"

"Oh you're way out of his league"

To be honest, it felt good to be high on the looks chart for once but still, I didn't think I was out of his league. I'd always thought he was good looking, even before this mess.

"That's not true"

He laughed, "Wow, love really is blind".

We ended up just talking about random stuff. Ezra was taking a while so I was glad for the company. You wouldn't expect Charlotte to have much to say to a teen boy but thankfully Charlie had a lot of shared interests with him.

In the end, it was safe to say I'd won him over.

"I hope you two work out" he told me. I wasn't sure what I expected a conversation with a teen boy to be like but it surely wasn't that.

I smiled. "Me too" I was simply maintaining the ruse.

"If he breaks your heart, I'll kick his ass"

It was my turn to laugh, "Thanks".

Most likely, I'd be the one to break his heart when Charlotte disappeared for good.

=^..^=

I was a little taken aback when Margaret invited me to help out in the kitchen but perhaps that was just something women did. I should have been perfectly fine having a one on one with his mother. Unlike the other girls he might bring home in future, I had no need to gain her approval or impress her so I had nothing to worry about.

So why was I anxious?

"Do you know how to chop lettuce?" she turned to ask as soon as I walked through the door.

I nodded shyly.

"Here you go sweetie" she handed me the knife and moved on to work on something else. "If you're quick, you can move on to the cabbage next"

"Okay".

Looking at and smelling all the food, it dawned on me that Ezra and I hadn't eaten anything all day. Understandably we'd been so focused on finding Ceridwen. I felt a pit in my stomach when I realized she could be anywhere by now.

How were we going to find her? It wasn't like we could just ask around. Atleast it was an uncommon enough name so maybe we'd be able to search for her online.

There was also the concern that even if the necklace caused this, she may have no idea why. I tried not to think about that.

"Everytime my son comes home, those two disappear into the garage for hours"

"It's okay" I focused on the lettuce in front of me.

"At risk of embarrassing Ezra..." She continued "You make him very happy"

I stopped slicing and dicing and listened.

"I hear it in his voice when he talks about you. He's been really lonely so I just wanted to thank you" She let out an awkward laugh after some silence "He'd hate me for telling you this so let's keep this between us, shall we?"

I smiled and nodded. It was so awkward but I appreciated what it must have meant for her to say that.

"He makes me very happy too" I added after some silence

She let out a joyous laugh, "Good, that's good".

=^..^=

Dinner turned out to be really nice. His brother was funny, his parents adored me and Ezra couldn't keep his eyes off me which his mother even commented about.

His parents asked about us, our lives together. I had to be careful not to slip up and say something from Charlie's life. The more I spoke about my life as Charlotte, the more real it became until Charlie's experiences faded into what felt like a distant dream.

I had to take a break when I realised I was having fun, I'd been excitedly answering questions as his girlfriend and the dress didn't even feel all that foreign anymore.

"I'm gonna get some air" I announced while getting up to my feet.

"Is everything okay, dear?" Margaret asked concerned.

I forced a smile, "Yes, just a little dizzy"

Ezra began to stand but I stopped him, "I'm okay babe, I'll be right back"

=^..^=

The fresh air helped. All I had been feeling was starting to suffocate me. As I'd searched Charlotte's memories to answer Ezra's parents' questions about our life together, I'd seen so much good.

The way he treated me and the way he made me feel and even beyond that. My relationship with my parents was better here. I had my dream job. I had friends other than Ezra I actually liked.

I shouldn't have ever sorted through her memories because now I didn't want to leave and it scared me.

I was saved from my thoughts by a jacket being placed on my shoulder. It was Ezra of course. I swear I wanted to tell him to keep his jacket and stop treating me like a girl but it felt nice.

"I'm sorry" Ezra apologized again "I know this must be a lot for you"

"It's okay" I turned to him "You have a wonderful family"

"They really like you"

"Because I'm the first girl you've ever brought home"

He smiled "Yeah maybe".

Ezra was standing dangerously close to me as I stood with my back against the porch railing. From my position, I couldn't help but get lost in those caring eyes. Written on his face were all the wonderful memories he and Charlotte shared together.

I wrestled with the longing to experience more of those moments with him.

I cleared my throat loudly to diffuse the moment.

"This dress offers very little protection. We should go inside before I freeze to death"

"Okay" he said as he stepped aside.

=^..^=

We spent the next couple hours together with his family. Being a woman had grown easier and easier until it became effortless and natural.

I was feeling all Charlotte would be feeling in thoss moments except it no longer felt like I was living someone else's life.

My fingers longed for my paint brush as if I'd painted yesterday and the day before.

My body yearned for his and so much more. As the clock wound down until midnight, I finally gave into the feeling and rested my head on his shoulder. It felt so right as he took my hand.

It felt like I was saying goodbye to Charlie with each passing second.

1 minute until the new year.

"What if..." I turned my head to look at him "What if we gave this a try?"

"Gave what a try?"

"You know, us. Me and you"

"Are you sure?" He asked with a longing look in his eyes.

I brought my other hand and placed it above our locked hands. "It's crazy but I think I want to try it out".

"What about finding a way back?" He asked. I could tell he didn't want to ruin it but he didn't want me make a mistake either. I didn't think I was making a mistake.

"I don't want to go back. This feels too right" I raised my free hand and brought it to his cheek. Damn it, it felt so right.

"10, 9, 8..." his parents and brother started in a chorus.

"I don't want to go back either" he told me.

"6, 5..."

"So are we doing this?" he asked.

I felt so happy I had to stop myself from crying. I smiled and nodded continuously.

"I think so" I answered. I couldn't believe what was happening.

I leaned forward and so did he. I closed my eyes and allowed myself to get lost in the moment.

"2.., 1... Happy new year!" His family shouted happily.

Our lips met and I heard the fireworks erupt both in the night sky and in my heart. It felt more amazing than I could ever describe. Oh my, I didn't want it to end.

We kept going until the shouting stopped and we realized we had an audience. We parted and let out awkward smiles. Thankfully, both parents seemed pleased and even handed us glasses of wine to begin the celebration.

The new year had arrived.

=^..^=

Throughout the celebrations, I would frequently turn to look up at my boyfriend and he'd return my gaze with a smile.

"You completed your resolution" I said to him "I told you it wasn't too late"

"I did, didn't I?" he laughed "You know you failed right? You're such a loser"

"Hey!" I made a playful angry expression "Careful before I change my mind"

"Sorry" he apologized by kissing me again. I decided I could definitely get used to that.

I noticed my phone vibrate on the glass living room table as a message came in. I parted from Ezra only long enough to pick it up.

It was a message from an unknown number. A single line that read:

"Happy New Year! - Ceridwen"

=^..^=

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Comments

A New Year's Transformation

Columbine's picture

I enjoyed the story. The story line was right for the format, so I commend the author for that. Transformations where magic is the only factor is not my favourite scenario, but this was done better than many.

Glad you enjoyed it.

Emma's picture

I'm not one for magic either but immediately I read the contest requirement, this is the story I wanted to tell.

If you're still in the reading mood, The First Mother is complete and isn't magic if you want to check that out.

Pretend Princess isn't done yet but it's more realistic and you might enjoy that as well.

Thanks for reading.

"Happy New Year! - Ceridwen

getting your heart's desire. that's a pretty good wish!

lovely story!

DogSig.png

Thanks

Emma's picture

I for one would love to get my hands on that necklace.

Trouble Is...

...that it seems clear to me that it's not a path Charlie would have wanted to take. It's not quite Identity Death, though with Charlie's memories fading near the end, I'm wondering how much our protagonist will have in common with Aaron the next time they get together. But even with the material advantages Charlotte will have over Charlie as life goes on, including the creative occupation he wanted, and a revised mental outlook that accepts -- OK, welcomes -- Charlotte's new life with Ezra, I'm still a bit uncomfortable. As fulfilling as Charlotte may find it, her only input into it seems to have been handing the necklace over to Ezra, not knowing the consequences. (Even though Ceridwen handing it to Charlie and not Ezra may have taken her off the hook, so to speak.)

And there's not much Charlie can do about it except go along for the ride, comfortable and luxurious as that ride may turn out. Given the choice, Charlotte wouldn't want it any other way. (Would Charlie? Guess we'll never know.)

Eric

Is Benton Close By?

joannebarbarella's picture

Cerridwen was waiting by the roadside. The Good Witch?

A planned surprise

Jamie Lee's picture

Is it possible for a wish to travel through the ether? If so, that may be how Ceridwen learned of Ezra's New Year resolution. Did she also know something about Charles that he kept hidden? If not, it seems kind of cruel to use that necklace to transform him into a girl with memories of her and Ezra. Without giving him the choice.

This is a neat story with a surprise ending. And it is well worth reading.

Others have feelings too.

The way I see it

Emma's picture

Ceridwen simply rewarded them with a wish granting necklace. She isn't the one doing the transforming, the necklace is. It's job is simply to return to her when the work is done.

Also something that wasn't obvious is that the necklace was intended for Charlie. He's the one that handed it to Ezra causing this whole thing. That's why the text came to him. He was supposed to be the wish target.

Glad you enjoyed it.

I know I'm slow to the party

SuziAuchentiber's picture

I know I'm slow to the party but its taken me 3 weeks to get round the other competition stories and I have to say, I loved this, Emma, just as I am loving Pretend Princess !!
Keep up the great work - I WILL read your material, I promise !
Hugs!!

Suzi