Not the Cup Final
By Charlotte Dickles
Synopsis: When most of the male members of the book group decide to go to Wembley to see the Cup Final, the others decide to run a Murder Mystery Game on the same day. The problem is, they don't make games for seven women and one man.
It was Emily who suggested that our Book Group should hold a 'Not the Cup Final' day. For almost six months, the group had been meeting in the library at weekly intervals to discuss a different book each time in a friendly atmosphere. We called ourselves ABC (Alphabet Book Circle): "circle" because each week, the choice of book rotated around each of us in turn; and "alphabet" because of the sheer coincidence that the initial letters of our first names ran from A to K. There were the four couples: Adam and Bethany, Chloe and Dan, Emily and Frank, my wife Gemma and me, Harry, and three women: Isobel (divorced), Jenny (widowed) and Kim (determinedly single).
After each session, we would adjourn to the pub for a sociable drink, and naturally divided into two groups; Adam, Dan and Frank would form the football group, and their conversation ranged over such a diverse range of topics as the performance of the local team the previous Saturday, to its expected performance the following Saturday.
As someone with no interest in football, I joined the women to continue talking about the book we'd just been discussing, as well as all the other things going on in the world, not forgetting - since there were seven women and only one man - fashion. I got on with them all fairly well, except for Kim. She was one of those women who hated men. Now in her late forties, I was never certain whether she was of the right age group to have been a bra-burner, but she certainly embodied their spirit. That week, she raged about how the protagonist of the book had been attracted to his partner by the size of her breasts.
"How can you have any empathy for a guy like that?" she moaned.
"Oh, I have a lot of empathy with Adam," Bethany said, thrusting out her considerable bust, to which the other women laughed and I simply gulped. "If it wasn't for these, he'd never have asked me out in the first place, and we'd never have got married."
"Pathetic!" Kim scorned.
"You may think it pathetic," Isobel said, "but catching men is a bit like catching fish. They are just as predictable, so the bigger the net, the more you catch." She thrust out her breasts which were far larger than Bethany's, and I tried not to let my mouth drop open. "Large nets may be bloody expensive, but hell, they're worth it."
"What do you think, Harry?" Emily asked - afterwards I thought rather ingenuously but at the time I leapt in without thought, or at least, not much.
"All through nature you see evidence of features with no functional purpose, other than to attract a mate," I said. I was rather proud of that sentence. What a shame, I followed it with, "Female peacocks choose their mates according to the size and colouring of the male's plumes; human males do so according to the size of the female's breasts."
"Then why are most fashion models size zero?" Emily innocently asked.
"So you do fancy me?" Isobel said, with a twinkle in her eye, playfully thrusting her breasts in my direction. I was always a bit nervous of Isobel. Fine for a bit of light-hearted banter, but she was quite a bit older than me, and I was never certain how serious she was. She loved ballroom dancing, and she was always trying to get me to go with her, saying there simply weren't enough men to go round.
"And you're not attracted to me?" my wife, Gemma wailed, pretending outrage at my rejection of her A-cup breasts.
"Typical man," Kim said, sitting back with a 'case proven' expression on her face.
"It's not just breasts that make a woman attractive," I defended. "It's all kinds of other things as well. So although I obviously fancy Isobel," I returned her cheeky grin, "I am of course extremely attracted to you, Gemma." I was confident I was on safe ground with Gemma over Isobel because she knew I was terrified of Isobel's man-hungry approach.
"As for fashion models," I added, "they want to be pleasing to other women, not to men, so boobs are irrelevant."
"Then why do they wear short skirts and ridiculous heels?" Kim asked. There had been a fashion show in the news that week with just those admirable features.
"But we women like short skirts and high-heeled shoes, as well," Chloe said, stretching out a long leg and displaying her red shoe with the incredibly sexy high-heel, which I'd been secretly ogling all night. Hell, she made me horny.
"Oh, I think men like short skirts and high heels more than women," Gemma said, with a knowing look at me. I had a sudden panic that my secret ogling had not been so secret after all.
"The shorter and higher they are," I defiantly retorted, "the sexier they look."
"You wouldn't say that if you had to wear them," Kim said.
Wisely, I didn't respond, and the conversation fell into one of those awkward lulls where we probably all realised that we'd been close to having an argument, and searched for some way of changing the subject. And that's when the football discussion at the next table came to our attention, and Emily made her suggestion.
"It's the Cup Final in four weeks' time, and Portsmouth is through to it," she said. "It sounds like the men are planning a day trip to Wembley. We should have a 'Not the Cup Final' day."
We all jumped at that idea, not only as a way of changing the subject, but also because it sounded fun.
"What would we do?" Chloe asked.
"Shopping!" several of them replied.
"But that's not really fair on Harry," Kim said.
Somehow, I managed to avoid falling off my chair. Kim concerned about me! I couldn't believe it.
"What sort of thing are you thinking of?" Chloe queried.
"I don't know really. Something different from what we normally do with ABC," she vaguely said, "but it must be something that we all really want to do."
"How about a Murder Mystery Party?" I suggested.
"What's that?" Kim asked.
"My brother had one a few weeks ago," I said. "I think I probably mentioned it." Actually, I was damn certain I'd talked about it, but it just shows, if it's not about fashion, women forget.
"It's a sort of who-done-it game," I continued, "which he bought off the internet. Each person had to pretend to be one of the characters in the who-done-it, and turn up in costume. The evening started with a briefing which gave details of someone who'd been murdered, and gave some background information about it. Then each character had their individual briefings, with more information and one of them was told they were the murderer. As the evening developed, additional information was fed in, and we all had to ask questions and try to find out who the murderer was. And it was all based around a dinner party."
"That sounds great," Emily said, and there were several others who agreed.
"Who's going to organise it?"Chloe asked. She looked at me and suggested, "Harry? It was your idea."
"But I'm useless on the internet," I said. "I wouldn't know where to look for a game. Couldn't someone else do it?"
"I will," said Emily. "How many are interested?"
We all put up our hands. So it was agreed.
At the end of the next ABC session, Emily said that she'd been doing some digging about the murder mystery, and suggested that Adam, Dan and Frank went on to the pub, whilst she showed the rest of us some games available on the web. She led the way over to the library computers, and got us arranged so we could all more or less see the screen.
"When I first started looking" she said, "there seemed so many games to choose from we were spoiled for choice, and I found some really interesting ones." She brought up a few titles on the screen. "But then I came up against a problem."
"What was that?" Chloe asked.
"Sex," Emily said.
"Well, couldn't you have asked Frank to wait?" Chloe replied, and we all laughed.
"No," Emily said, "It wasn't Frank. The problem was finding a game for seven women and one man. They simply don't make them, and nearly all are made for a 50/50 split of male to female. That would mean that three of us women would have to take the part of men."
"Oh! It's supposed to be fun," Jenny said. "I don't want to dress up as a boring man." Then she looked at me and added, "Sorry Harry. I didn't mean that you were boring."
But as I shrugged forgiveness, Bethany quickly said, "And I think that Isobel and I would have particular problems in trying to look like a man." She again thrust out her tits to make her point. I liked it when she did that.
"I'm not over keen," Emily said, "but I'll be a man if two others will as well. Who else will join me?"
I put up my hand which raised a snigger, but no one else did.
"Does that mean we'll have to drop the Murder Mystery and find some other theme for our party?" Chloe asked, looking around the group. I think we all felt a little deflated at that, as we'd been looking forward to it
"Hang on," Kim said. "Look at that Murder Mystery site you've got up on the computer at the moment. On the menu on the left, it's got a choice of All-Girl games. We could play one of those."
"But we can't leave Harry out," Chloe said. "That wouldn't be fair."
I was pleased that several others muttered agreement.
"Well, I wasn't thinking that," Kim said. "It's just that the first of our options is that three women play the part of men in a 50/50 split game, and we haven't got enough volunteers. The second option is that one man plays the part of a woman in an All-Girl game, for which we'd need only one volunteer." She paused and looked at me, expectantly, as did all the other girls.
"You want me to dress up as a woman?" I asked, feeling myself start to blush.
"Well it's really no different from a woman dressing up as a man," Kim said.
It was to me. "How would you all feel about it?" I asked.
Several of the women looked at each other, and some appeared a bit uncomfortable. Emily summarised the position, "To be honest, the idea doesn't bother me at all, but I don't think Frank would be comfortable with it. So I'll probably 'forget' to mention to him that the Murder Mystery is All-Girl."
There was a general nodding from the other women, and Chloe said, "Me too. But are you alright with the idea, Harry?"
"I'd feel a bit of a prat," I said.
"But you'd be amongst friends," Gemma said, coming into the conversation at last, but not in the way I expected. "It's not as though it would be in public. And no one's going to tell anyone else, especially their less-than-understanding husbands. Are you?" She appealed to the other girls who all concurred.
"But I wouldn't have a clue where to start," I said. "And I'd look stupid. Don't you think so, Gemma?" pleading for support
"Mmm," she said, looking me up and down, and then turning to the others. "It will be difficult, and I'm not as experienced with make up as some of you. I might need a bit of help on this."
"Isobel and I will help," Chloe said. "Actually, it might be quite fun getting him converted. We could make it part of the day and everybody could join in. Turn it into a real challenge. Come on, Harry. What do you say?"
They were all smiling at me, and egging me on.
"OK," I said, my heart leaping into my mouth. "I'll do it."
Over the next three weeks, I thought of little else but what I had committed to doing. Actually, although they'd had to talk me into it, it wasn't because I really objected to pretending to be a woman; it was more because I was concerned about what others would think about me. And the more I thought about becoming a woman, the more I found an excitement racing through me which made my heart pound. I'd lie awake at nights, fantasising about what I might look like.
"Are you worried about becoming a woman?" Gemma asked one night, after I'd spent an hour tossing and turning. "Only Chloe rang up today and I gave her all your measurements."
Obviously, I couldn't tell Gemma my real thoughts, but I did concede I was thinking about my conversion. "Am I going to look a complete prat?" I asked her.
"I did some research on the internet, today," she said. "Do you know, I never realised how many blokes do it. It's as if every other man is into cross-dressing, and it has little to do with homosexuality, did you know that? Most cross-dressers are heterosexuals."
"I didn't realise it was about sexuality," I said, lying through my teeth. "It's really no great thing."
"Of course not," she agreed. "It's simply a little game. You're absolutely right; it really is no great thing. Now, can we get to sleep?"
She turned over and soon went into a deep sleep, whilst I continued to fantasise.
The following week, Emily produced details of the game she was recommending. It was based around a hen party, the day before the wedding of one of the girls, pole-dancer Melons Delight, to the effeminate TV cook, Ivor Slakhaus (pronounced I've a slack-arse). Unfortunately, someone is found murdered just as the party is about to begin, and the girls need to find out who done it, before the police start poking their noses into events which are better kept out of the public domain.
"The reason I'm recommending it," Emily said, "is because it has a couple of character parts which I think are quite appropriate. The Reverend Debra Black," She smiled at me, "otherwise known as the Rev Deb - is wearing a shapeless, black vestment and appears plain and unattractive. But she does have a little secret."
I smiled my thanks back at Emily, although in truth, after the excitement I'd been feeling, I was disappointed that I wasn't in a rather more challenging role, maybe wearing a dress.
Emily was going on to describe a part she obviously thought suitable for Isobel. "Then there's also Melons Delight," and she started to read from her notes, "who is the not-so-beautiful, pole-dancing bride who does everything to excess, from her inch-long fingernails and the highest heels you have ever seen, right through to her over-enhanced breasts. She is wearing a mock bridal dress, which reveals more than it covers, over a tightly-laced, white corset and white, lacy stockings.' How does that sound?"
Everyone said that sounded great, although I thought it rather cruel that people clearly thought that man-hungry, ballroom dancing Isobel would make such a good pole-dancing Melons Delight.
A few days later, we received a letter in the post from Emily with the briefing notes for the game, as well as Gemma's character description. She was to become Iona Ferrari (get it - I own a Ferrari!) - a multi-millionaire friend of the bride, and (unknown to the bride) a lover of Ivor Slakhaus .
"I thought he was gay," I protested, to which Gemma told me to stop picking holes in everything.
There were detailed notes on the kind of clothes that Gemma should be wearing, but there was nothing for me, except a little note: "Harry, I've passed your character notes on to Chloe, who agreed to help you prepare and get the outfit ready. Emily."
I was a bit miffed at that. After all, if I was wearing a vestment, I thought I'd be able to sort that out for myself, although Gemma said that it would obviously need to have a feminine cut. I grumbled a bit, but since I wasn't over keen on spending hours and a lot of money in a clerical outfitter, I shut up.
"Harry, Isobel's on the phone," Gemma shouted to me out in the garden. "She wants to talk to you about your part."
"Hi Isobel," I said, coming in and picking up the phone.
"Don't worry about anything," she said. "Gemma gave me your measurements, and I've got it all sorted."
"Well I didn't think it would be that difficult," I started to say.
"Not too difficult," Isobel said, sounding exasperated. "A woman can't walk out of her house without going through dozens of difficult decisions. What should she wear? Which shoes will match? What about a belt? What bag will go with it? It's an endless task."
"Yes but," I tried to explain, "I thought that my character..."
"...will be a particular challenge," Isobel said. "I've been reading a lot on the net, and it seems you either go about this seriously and look realistic, or you will look a prat. Now, which one of those do you want to do?"
"I don't want to look a prat," I said.
"Good," Isobel said. "That's what I'm working on. Now, I've just given Gemma the timetable for the day, but I'll run through it with you as well. Emily has booked a small function room at the Crown Hotel from eleven am. It will be quite private in there, so you needn't have any worries about being seen as we get you ready. Fortunately, the function room is also used as a normal guest room, so it has its own wardrobes and en suite bathroom, which will come in really handy. I want you and Gemma to come over for eleven, and Chloe and I and a few other girls are going to get you transformed."
A shiver of anticipation ran down my spine at that thought.
"We think that will take a couple of hours to do," Isobel continued, "so the one or two remaining girls are coming over at one o'clock for us all to have lunch together. We thought we shouldn't start the Not The Cup Final Event proper until kick-off time at three, but we can all be in character over lunch and there's some prologue we have to go through, and that should be a whole load of fun.
"We start the Murder Mystery at three o'clock," she continued, "and that will probably run for two to three hours. So we should be complete by about six pm. Then we can either stay behind for drinks or go straight home. How does that sound?"
"That's fine, Isobel," I said, "and, er, thanks for helping me with this. Is there anything I need to do or bring?"
"Only two things," Isobel said. "Don't shave for at least a week beforehand. OK?"
"OK," I agreed. I knew it would be easier to get a close shave with a longer beard. "What else."
"Before you come to the event, put on a pair of tight-fitting swimming trunks. It will make getting you converted and dressed so much easier. OK?"
"Sure," I said, thinking about Chloe and Isobel getting to see me stripped down almost to the buff. I had a hard-on just at the thought!
As agreed, Gemma and I arrived in the function room just before eleven, and Chloe and Isobel were already there, hanging garment bags in the wardrobe. Gemma took the bag containing her outfit and hung it next to a bag which reached almost to the floor.
"Is this the wedding dress you've made," she asked Isobel.
"Yes. I'm really proud of it," Isobel said. "Take a look." She reached forward and unzipped the bag from top to bottom and a white chiffon-like dress bellowed out.
"Wow! That looks good," Gemma said, as Isobel pulled the garment bag from around the dress and held it up for inspection."
It reached right down to the floor, lacy material billowing out from the waist, with puffy, princess-style sleeves, a long train at the rear, and a veil which reached almost to the ground. "I made it from a pair of net curtains we used to have on our patio door," Isobel giggled.
"Fantastic!" Gemma said, and she turned to me. "What do you think, Harry?"
"You're incredibly skilled, Isobel," I said. "I think Melons Delight will be very lucky to wear such a lovely dress. Wow, you can see right through it," I added as Isobel held it in front of her.
"It'll be worn over the white corset," Isobel said, anxious to reassure that we wouldn't be seeing her naked body - not that I'd have minded. "With suspenders and white stockings, and..." she reached down into a carrier bag to pull out a shoe box, "I managed to get these off e-bay for seven pounds, fifty."
She opened the box to reveal a pair of white shoes which made my heart start pounding. The heels must have been at least five inches high! Were they erotic, or what?
"Shit! No one could wear those!" Chloe said.
"I bet Harry thinks they should regardless of the discomfort," Gemma said to me with a knowing look.
Hell! They must all think I was born yesterday. I was being set up. I only had to say "Yes" to that, and they'd be swapping Isobel's shoes for the ones I was due to wear.
"They do go wonderfully with the dress," I said. "See how the bow on the shoe almost matches the pattern on the material."
"Incredible," Gemma said. "Never before have you noticed that any of my clothes match each other."
"Harry's practising being a woman," Chloe said, "which is as it should be." She unfolded a large plastic sheet and spread it across the conference table. She smiled at me. "Shall we get going?"
I shrugged. "What do I do?"
"I've been longing to say this for ages, Harry," Isobel said. "Gerrem off!"
"That's everything except your trunks," Chloe said.
I gave a nervous smile and pulled off my tee shirt. Then I sat down to remove my shoes and socks. Just as I was about to stand up and move onto the next stage, Bethany, Emily and Jenny walked in.
"Hello," Bethany said, laughing at my discomfort. "I see we've just arrived at the interesting stage."
She started to Rah-Rah-Rah to the tune of The Stripper, clapping along, and the others joined in. With a grin, I played along, unzipping my trousers, then zipping them back up, then shrugging my trousers slowly over my arse.
"Come on, we haven't got all day," Chloe chastised. "Get your trousers off, then climb onto the table."
I looked at her, and then at the table. "You're joking!"
"Of course not," she said. "We had a think about the best way that several of us could work on different bits of you at the same time, and we thought this would be the best." She patted the table. "Come on. Lie flat"
I took a deep breath, pulled off my trousers and climbed up onto the table, now covered with a plastic sheet, and then settled onto my back.
"Spread out your arms," Isobel said, so I did so.
In a flash, she had grabbed my right arm and Chloe my left, and they had slipped loops of ribbon over my wrists. With the aid of the other girls, they were pulling them tightly in opposite directions so I was spread-eagled.
"What's this?" I yelled, as Chloe secured her ribbon to the table leg, and then nipped round the other side to do the same there.
"It's alright," Gemma said. "They told me about it beforehand. It's just that they think you'll be a right coward once they get going, and it will delay things too much if you keep leaping off the table."
"Well what are they going to do?" I whined.
"Waxing!" Jenny yelled, waving a pack of Nair at me.
"Trimming your eyebrows," Bethany said, waving a pair of tweezers.
"Cutting off your testicles," Emily said, holding up a pair of scissors, at which all the girls laughed.
That, I gathered, was their idea of a joke!
Actually, it was all quite jolly fun, once I'd got used to being the subject of total indignity. And lying flat on the table really did help all the girls to get on with their respective jobs almost independently of each other. And I had to admit that, had I not been tied across the table, they'd have had difficulty completing the waxing, as I'm sure I'd have leapt off the table; especially when Jenny waxed my face! Bloody hell, it hurt!
After about thirty minutes, Isobel, who was working somewhere around my upper thighs, said, "Gemma, I think we're about ready for you to use a wifely hand to smear the gel over his thighs and his thingy."
"Oh, OK," she said, moving down to join Isobel.
"What?" I asked. "What gel are you talking about?"
"It's OK, Harry," Gemma said. "We need to smear some stuff over your hips and bum and your dangly bits, and the girls think it will be more respectable if I do it."
"What gel is it?" I asked, concern creeping into my voice.
"I use a similar stuff all the time," Isobel said, "except that I use a more permanent type, which takes ages to remove. This stuff will wash away as soon as you take everything off tonight."
"But what's it for?" I persisted.
"It's to stop you getting all sweaty down below," she said. "If it gets really bad, you can get a rash if you don't use this stuff."
I consented, although I didn't understand why I needed special stuff.
So Gemma put on a plastic glove, then dipped her hand in a plastic tub and started smearing the green gel over my upper legs. "I think we're getting to the embarrassing part," she said after a minute. "Have you got a towel there?"
Chloe threw her a towel and Gemma draped it across my trunks, then got me to lift my hips in the air so she could remove my trunks. I'd had an erection for most of the morning, which nobody seemed to notice, and even Gemma made no comment as she used her gloved hand to smooth the gel up and down my prick, and around my balls.
Mmm, I thought, I could get used to that, except that Gemma caught sight of my face.
"Oh God! Look at you," she said. "Did anyone bring in the ice-cubes?"
The mere threat caused my prick to subside to a tiny, shrivelled willy, and Isobel suggested they were now ready to slip on the Hiplet.
"What's a Hiplet?" I asked.
"You'll soon see," Isobel replied, pulling some garment up my legs. "Gemma, can you feed his dangly bits down there, and with your other hand, grab this and pull it right up to his waist?"
The two of them struggled for a bit, and I could feel one of them - presumably Gemma - fumbling with my prick and testicles. But before I got hard again, Isobel was pulling something between my legs, something which...
"Jesus Christ!" They were crushing my genitals to pulp!
"It's alright," Isobel said. "I think it's all done. Let's work on the upper torso, now."
"What are you going to do there?" I gasped, trying not to cry with the pain in my testicles, although in honesty, the pain rapidly dwindled.
"Much the same," Isobel said, "except you don't have any dangly bits to get in the way. Gemma will spread some gel over your upper chest, shoulders and neck, then we'll pull a Bustlet over you."
I knew if I asked what a Bustlet was, they'd give me the same answer, so I kept silent whilst they got on with it. The up-side was that they had to release my arms so I could sit up as they fed this garment over my head and shoulders.
Once they'd smoothed it down, I was able to glance down at it. It was like a skin-coloured crop-top, with protruding rosy-red nipples, which all looked remarkably lifelike, if somewhat flat-chested. I knew I should not have been surprised. After all, I could hardly have big tits if I was wearing a shapeless vestment.
"Come on, you can get off the table now and we'll start getting you dressed," Chloe said.
"OK," I obliged, but as I sat up on the table, I was able to see my lower half. "Oh my God!"
I thought they'd been pulling on some kind of control brief over me. In fact, they'd turned my prick into a vagina!
"What have you done?" I garbled. Surely it would have hurt more than that if Emily really had cut off my testicles. Of course, on close inspection, I could see I was actually wearing a skin-coloured garment - a bit like a control brief, only I appeared to have a vagina between my legs. A very realistic, hairless vagina, I noted.
I swung my legs down onto the ground and walked over to the bathroom so I could stare in the mirror. OK, I may be flat-chested, I thought, but I definitely had a woman's curves.
"My hips are much wider," I said, turning around to inspect my rear, and adding, "and my bum's bigger."
"There's padding in the Hiplet to bring them out," Isobel said. "It's a special garment to turn little boys into little girls. Apparently, the vagina really will take a bloke's prick."
"I bet it wouldn't take Adam's prick," Bethany said. "You should see the size of that."
I nodded and smiled at them all. "No thanks," I said. "I'm doing this simply for a murder mystery, OK? I've no desire to see Adam's prick."
"What about Dan's?" Chloe asked. "That must be much smaller than Adam's."
"Jesus!" I said. "Do you women all discuss the size of your husband's equipment?"
"We don't discuss them at all," Gemma said.
"No but we all leer at them," Bethany said. "Gemma's always staring at Adam's trousers."
"I am not," Gemma said, obviously embarrassed, "I simply feel that he always wears nice trousers."
Not that it worried me. After all, I certainly leered at the women. In fact, as I regarded myself in the mirror, I realised I was actually leering at myself. "I really am quite shapely, now, aren't I?"
"You ain't seen nothing yet," Chloe said. "It's time to put on your corset."
"Corset! No way!"
"I thought it was a garment you thoroughly approved of," Gemma said, glad to change the subject. "You're always trying to get me to wear one."
I deliberately forced myself not to say the phrase I hate so much - That's different - even though it was so appropriate in this case. "But if I'm wearing a shapeless vestment," I reasoned, "you're not even going to notice if I'm wearing a corset."
"A vestment?" Chloe looked confused. "But it's the Rev Deb who wears a vestment. Kim's taking that role."
"Kim!" I was aghast. "That's my part."
"We never actually agreed that," Emily quickly jumped in, "although I did hint that you might have the part of Rev Deb. But I can't tell a lie. Kim made me do it."
"She grabbed hold of me after the meeting," Emily said, "and told me that Rev Deb's part was right for her."
"You mean," Kim's voice took us all by surprise as we hadn't heard her come in. "...that Kim fell right into the trap you laid, hook, line and sinker." She had a wry smile on her face.
"I really don't know what you mean," Emily said, with such an innocent expression she was plainly guilty - but of what I couldn't tell.
Kim turned to me. "It's true I convinced Emily I should play the part of the Reverend Debra Black," she said. "And after we've completed the Murder Mystery, you'll realise why I think Emily trapped me into it. However," she shrugged, "never let it be said that I can't take a joke on myself."
Actually, I'd said exactly that about her to Gemma many times, but thought it not very diplomatic to say it now. Instead, I asked the $64,000 question. "But what part am I going to play?"
When I saw their smiles, my heart sank into my stomach. "Oh, you wouldn't. Would you? You couldn't be so mean?"
Their smiles broadened, and I realised that if Emily had tricked Kim, she had certainly taken me for a complete sucker. I knew I shouldn't have got involved in that stupid discussion about breast size, and high heels and short skirts. On the other hand, there was a sexual excitement suddenly running through me that I knew I had to conceal.
"You bastards!" I grinned at them to show that I, too, could take a joke. Inside, I thought I might explode with excitement, so I covered it by sniggering. "You absolute bastards," I said. "That wedding dress..."
"It's for you," Isobel said. "I think you'll make a wonderful bride."
"Bastards!" My snigger turned into a giggle until another thought struck me. "But what about the shoes? I could never..."
"They're for you," Isobel said. "After all, you agreed they go wonderfully well with the dress."
"Bastards!" By now, my laughter had turned into an infectious guffaw, and the others were all joining in. It was a good job my cock was well-strapped down, somewhere beneath my Hiplet. Otherwise, I'd have probably have ejaculated on the spot!
"Ladies," Chloe said. "I think it's time to open the champagne I brought in." She pulled a chiller box from the wardrobe, and withdrew a couple of bottles. "There are some glasses over there. Let's get pouring."
A minute later, she was raising her glass and making a toast, "To a great Not The Cup Final Day."
We repeated her toast and drank champagne.
"Hang on," Chloe said. "Something sounded wrong with that toast. What did I do with those tablets?" She was fumbling in her handbag, until she found a pill box. "Here," she said, withdrawing a blister pack and passing it to me, "take one of these and hold it on your tongue until it melts - then swallow."
I didn't even question it, and obligingly did as instructed. It felt as though I'd swallowed nitric acid!
"What was that?" I shrieked, my voice unnaturally high.
"Simply a voice-changer pill," Chloe said. "It's got some product in it like helium, and it raises the pitch of your voice. Now let's toast again. To a great Ladies Not The Cup Final Day."
I toasted with them, emphasising the 'Ladies' bit, and then we drank some more champagne, and then they all turned around and applauded me - even Kim!
"I thought you said you weren't really going to tight-lace it," I gasped, barely managing to get enough breath to push out the words.
"No," Isobel said. "We thought with it being the first time in a corset, we'd just do a gentle tighten. Just to give you a nice waistline."
"A gentle tighten! You're crushing my rib cage. I can't breathe," I groaned.
"Of course you can breathe," Chloe said. "You're speaking to us. You'd be dead if you weren't breathing."
With those comforting words, they both paused their heartless tightening of the corset laces, and stepped back for a minute to observe my figure.
"What do you think, Isobel?" Chloe asked.
"I think it could go quite a lot tighter," she said.
"No! No! No!" I squawked. "You can't."
"Of course we can," Chloe said with a grin, then relented. "But we won't. That's more than tight enough. Corsets aren't meant to be punishment. We only did it to see how much you'd complain, and you were really quite good. Let it out, Isobel."
Between them, they allowed the corset to slacken to the point where it almost felt comfortable. After they'd tied off the laces, I looked at myself in the mirror, turning right and left and felt rather proud of my new waistline.
"It will look all the better when we get proper boobs on you," Isobel said.
"Proper boobs?" I said. "But I already have these..." I gesticulated at my prominent nipples. I presumed the corset was Isobel's or Chloe's, as the built-in bra cups were made for much larger breasts, and were flapping uselessly around my miniscule ones.
"Melons's breasts have been enhanced to excess," Isobel said. "Why do you think she's nicknamed Melons, so they have to be far, far bigger than mine." She pushed out her breasts in that wonderful way, to demonstrate what I had to beat. It was an erotic thought.
I pointed down at my relatively flat-chest. "But how?" I asked.
"We inflate them," Isobel said. And as I looked blank, she added, "With water. That gives them a really nice, realistic wobble."
They led me to the bathroom, and Isobel produced a length of clear plastic piping, with a T piece towards the end with two sections coming off the single pipe.
"If you tell anyone about this, I'll kill you," Isobel said, although I couldn't work out why at the time.
She pushed the two ends of pipe over the tips of my nipples, and then connected the far end to the cold tap.
"Fill 'em up," Chloe said, and Isobel turned on the tap, and my nipples started to inflate. They went from being slight mounds to bigger mounds, then to breasts the size of apples - about the same as Gemma, I guessed.
But as they continued to inflate, they became the size of small grapefruits - well, quite large grapefruits, actually. Well, no, more the size of small melons - that is large melons.
As they grew, Chloe did a bit of fiddling with the bra cups, pulling them around my boobs so they properly fitted. Finally, Isobel stopped. "Do you think they're over-enhanced?" she asked.
I ogled them. Every time I moved, they wobbled like jellies on a plate, and I moved quite often because I found it difficult to keep my balance with the extra weight at the front. In spite of the support given by bra cups on the corset, it was like having the weight of a bar bell stuck to your chest. Already, the weight was starting to make my shoulders ache.
"To perfection," Chloe said. "Just like Melons would have them."
"You're teasing me like you did with the corset," I said, a wry smile on my face. "You're going to let them down a bit to a reasonable size, aren't you?"
"I seem to recall," Kim joined in the conversation, "that it was you who suggested that the bigger the breasts the sexier they were. Melons wants to be sexy and she does everything to excess. QED."
The problem was, she was right. Once I'd conceded that I was Melons and not Debra, my case was lost.
Fortunately, Isobel gave me some advice me on the best way to stand whilst sporting a huge pair of tits, which really helped.
"How come you're such an expert on this?" I asked her. "After all, my breasts are a hell of a lot larger than yours."
"Oh, boasting now, are you?" she said with a grin. "Actually, I tried them at this kind of size a few times just to see what they were like, but I quickly realised they were way over the top. You only get the jerks chasing after you with tits like this."
"So you've worn these before?" I asked.
"Sure," she said. "I wore this pair for a few months, but after I'd lost the enthusiasm for having massive jugs, I decided to get a fixed-size pair. It takes all the guesswork out of it, you see." She thrust out her tits again.
"You mean," I goggled, "you're wearing a Bustlet, just like me? Your tits are false?"
"Come on, Harry," she said with a smile. "You've always suspected my tits are false. It's simply that you never realised quite how false they were."
"You can say that again," I said, adding as the practicalities struck me, "But when you meet that perfect guy, and you start to get friendly, isn't it a bit of a let down when he starts, well, er..."
"Fondling my tits?" Isobel suggested.
"Precisely," I said. "When he starts fondling your tits, isn't it a bit of a let down?"
"Not really," she said. "Look, can you really keep a secret, Harry?"
I nodded. "Of course."
"Well," Isobel said, "the skin of our Bustlets and your Hiplet - especially the vagina - are touch-sensitive - a bit like a computer screen, and the signals are then applied to electrodes on your skin. That means you can actually feel someone fondling your tits."
I rubbed my finger across the top of my rounded breast. "Well I can't," I said.
"That's because the sensitivity is adjustable," she said. "Yours is on the lowest setting, because I didn't really want you asking questions, but being as you have, I'll demonstrate." She picked up her handbag from one of the wardrobes and pulled out a small, black remote-control - the kind you have for CD players.
"OK, now you feel nothing," she pointed the remote at me and prepared to push a button, "and now your tits come alive."
As she pressed the button, my tits really did burst into life. They were no longer simply wobbling footballs attached to my chest - they were wobbling breasts which were part of my chest.
"Oh my God!" I shouted, startling Kim, who jumped like a Jack-in-the-box.
"Don't do that, you prats," she said crossly. "You scared the shit out of me."
I'd never before known Kim to be jumpy like that, so we both apologised, and Isobel turned the sensitivity back down to zero.
"I'll probably sneak it up again later on," Isobel whispered to me. "So don't get complacent about your lifeless tits."
Bethany worked in a local beauty parlour, so it was she who applied my make-up and did my nails. I did suggest to her that there was really no need to do the nails to excess, but she disagreed.
"You have to be realistic, Melons," she said. "There's no point in half-doing a performance.
I might have argued with her more, were it not that: a) I knew I wasn't going to win; and b) My attention was distracted by Isobel getting changed into her costume, as she now seemed to regard me as one of the girls. OK, she didn't strip naked in front of me, but she was certainly down to bra and panties, and that was not a sight to be ignored!
Pretty soon, all the other girls apart from Kim, who had come already attired in her vestment, started doing the same. Obviously, I was used to Gemma, but when you have seven women all strip down to their underwear, I can tell you, it's a bloody great turn on. So much so that I didn't monitor exactly what Bethany had been doing to my nails after she'd finished making-up my face.
"Melons, it's time to get you dressed," Chloe said, and added, "Oh, nice nails."
I glanced down at my right hand which Bethany had finished some time ago and gaped. On the end of each finger were crimson red, inch-long talons. I held the hand before my eyes. My God they were erotic, and when I glanced at my other hand, Bethany was just finishing the same fantastic work of art.
"Blimey!" I said. "Out of this world" A sudden thought hit me. "Hang on. Gemma says it's incredibly difficult to use your fingers when she has longish fingernails. And these aren't longish," I experimentally flexed my fingers, "it's like having ten lances stuck to my fingers. Look, I won't be able to do anything with these. You are going to cut them down to size, Bethany, aren't you?"
She and Chloe both shook their heads. "Uh-uh," Chloe said. "It's part of Melons' character - everything to excess, especially the finger nails. Sorry. Obviously, we'll have to help you get dressed. First of all, your clothes. Stockings first." She held up a white, lacy stocking and then pulled over a chair so she could sit in front of me.
"You're really enjoying this, aren't you?" I said to her.
"It's a bit like going back to the days when I had a dolly," she said, as she pulled the stocking over my toes and up my leg, fastening it to the front suspender on my corset. She smiled, "Great fun."
She repeated the operation on my other leg.
"Stand up, then we can fasten the rear suspenders."
Although I'd always admired the female leg, I had never realised my own were so sexy. Without their normal covering of hair, they looked as though they belonged to someone else.
"Wait until we put your shoes on," Isobel said, coming over and looking me up and down. "I think you'll probably get a Narcissus complex, you'll look so good."
Ridiculous thing to say, I told myself, smirking with self-satisfaction. I sat down again so they could put my feet into those outrageously heeled shoes, and then fasten them. But the heels were so high, my feet were contorted downwards in a really painful position.
"My feet are at a stupid angle," I said. "I'm never going to be able to stand in these. You'll have to find some others."
"I thought you said the higher the heel, the better," Kim chipped in.
"Yes but nothing," she said. "You've made your bed. Now's the time when you have to lie on it."
"Try standing up," Isobel said. "It will feel easier when you do that."
Her and Chloe stood before me and offered their hands to help me rise. They virtually had to pull me to my feet, and then I stood tottering before them.
"It's no good," I said. "I'll never succeed with these. Can you take them off, please?"
"I think the dress can go on now," Isobel said to Chloe, as though I hadn't spoken. "Then Melons can practice walking around in her new outfit. I'm hoping I have the length of the dress just right so she won't trip over the hem."
"Er, hello?" I said. "Did you not hear me? I can't walk in these heels."
"Never mind," Kim said. "That's a cross we women have to bear if they want to look really sexy for their men. Fortunately," she grinned as she stamped her clerical flat-heeled, black shoe, "members of the clergy do not have to worry about such stupid ideas."
After they had pulled the dress over my head and belted it in around my waist, they slipped a pink and green wig on my head, followed by the veil.
"There," Chloe said, proudly standing back admiringly, "doesn't she look good?"
There were calls of "Wow!" "Fantastic!" and "Out of this world!" from the rest of the girls, and Kim said, "I think Melons is the epitome of what every man wants."
"If you mean that every man would want to fuck her," Bethany said, "you're absolutely right. I think I might get one of those Bustlets."
Gemma held my hand as I tottered over to the mirror. "But I can't walk," I moaned.
Isobel looked at her watch. "Well you have half an hour before it's time to go to lunch," she said. "Plenty of time to practice walking in those heels."
"What did you say?" I asked.
"I said you had plenty of time..." Isobel began.
"No. No. I meant about going to lunch," I said.
"I told you," Isobel said. "Emily booked lunch at one o'clock. It's now twelve-thirty so you have thirty minutes before we go the restaurant."
"But surely, we're having lunch in here," I said. "We can't go to the restaurant."
"I'm afraid this function room is booked over lunch," Emily said. "We have to go to the restaurant."
"But there'll be... people there," I said. "They'll see me."
"So what?" Isobel said. "With those breasts pushing out of your corset, clearly visible through your dress, no one is going to imagine you're a man. We've fixed your voice as well. OK, you may be tall for a woman, but there are a few tall women around so no one is going to suspect."
"But even if they don't realise I'm a man," I said, "they'll think I'm a sex-crazy bimbo."
"Ah-ah," Kim said. "I think Melons has got the point, at last."
I had, too. I had been well and truly set up by at least a few of the girls, and I was highly suspicious that all of them, including my loyal and faithful Gemma, were all in on it. I should have been furious with them, especially Gemma.
I fact, I was still floating on air. I looked exactly like the character I was playing: my semi-transparent bridal dress over my corset and stockings certainly did reveal more than they covered. Fortunately, the girls had put a minute pair of panties on me, to just about cover my hairless pussy. So when they had told me I had to go in the public restaurant for lunch, obviously I had to protest, but the excitement almost gave me another orgasm! I was in heaven!
I spent the next half-hour walking around and around the conference table. Both Bethany and Isobel were masters with high-heels, and they gave me lots of useful advice. Fortunately, Isobel had got the length of the dress just right so the toes just peeked out the bottom, and the dress swirled around in a most delightful way. And of course, you could see my fantastic high-heels through the dress.
So when lunch time came, I was relatively steady on my heels - a fact which several of the other girls marvelled about. The tallest heels they'd ever had were a measly three inches!
"Melons, it really is time to go to lunch." Chloe and Gemma had waited for me as, with a sudden fit of nerves, I had gone to the toilet - and yes I really had to wee sitting down. But I'd finished my toilet five minutes ago, and still I sat there.
"I'm terrified to go out there," I said.
"They want to come in and set up this room for the other party," Gemma said, poking her head around the toilet door. "I know it's a big step, but we really have to go out to the restaurant. I'm certain no one will realise you're a..."
"Don't say it," I said, "because I'm trying to convince myself about what I am." I took a huge breath, and added, "OK, let's get it over with."
In spite of my practice, I stumbled a bit as I stood up and walked forward, and Chloe and Gemma caught me and got me walking in stride with them. As we reached the entrance to the restaurant, they both stepped to one side and allowed me to enter first.
"Oh, look! It's the bride," a woman at the table next to the door said, pointing at me.
I grinned at her! Can you believe it? I actually grinned.
"Isn't she pretty," a little girl said.
"Phwoar! Look at those knockers," a bloke on my right said, which I determinedly ignored.
But the rest of the diners in the restaurant started applauding me! I let myself be overwhelmed by it all, just like the less-than-innocent bride I was. I gave a silly, little smile and wended my way to the table at the end where I could see the rest of my hen party gathered.
"This is Fernando," Emily said, pointing at a young waiter who obviously fancied himself. "He is going to be our personal waiter today."
"Ah! The beau-ti-ful bride," he cried, pulling out a chair at the head of the table. "Please seet down." As I did so, he pulled the serviette from the side plate and with a flick unfolded it and laid it across my lap. Before I knew what he was doing, he added, "And now, a keess for the bride."
I had barely started to say, "Er, no..." when he gave a sudden sideways tug on my sleeve and I was falling skew-whiff. The problem was, with the sheer weight of my tits, combined with my total inexperience with them, I was basically unstable.
But Fernando was ready, and he expertly caught me in his arms. "Ah," he said, "my be-uuu-ti-ful virgin bride," and his mouth was closing on mine with a speed I could nothing about.
"Ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo!" the girls chanted, whilst his tongue explored halfway down my throat.
I should have smacked him one, but firstly, he was only doing what came naturally; secondly, my arms were flapping uselessly behind his back, and all I could really do with them was to hang on to him tightly; thirdly, Isobel had plainly turned up the sensitivity on my breasts to maximum. I could feel Fernando rubbing his thumb over my left nipple and it was driving me wild. So, overall - and I have trouble saying this - I was enjoying it like crazy!
After what felt like ten minutes - and was probably ten seconds - he brought me back to the upright position. "My be-uuu-ti-ful virgin bride," he said, "I 'ave just 'ad the most wonderful keess in the world. I shall never again clean my teeth..." (I saw Chloe mouth at Gemma, "I bet he would if he knew the truth") "...I am in love, and I will keel your man, before I let him marry you."
"Get on with it," I smirked, wondering whether my lipstick was smeared. It was fun being a woman.
"Melons?" Bethany was the first to speak as we commenced the Prologue of the Murder Mystery, turning to me with her usual air of innocent naivety. (We'd all been given character names for it, but with one or two exceptions, they weren't important, so I'll continue using their real names, otherwise we'll all get confused.)
"Is Ivor Slack-arse really a raging poofta, as they make out on TV?" she asked.
"No, he is not," I rather angrily responded, as my character notes had instructed me. I gave an irate flick of my head, then shuddered as my breasts moved in sympathy. After Fernando's kiss had ended, Isobel had not turned down the sensitivity of the Bustlet, and every wobble of my breasts sent shivers of sexual anticipation through me.
I tried to surpress such thoughts as I continued. "I can tell you he is 100% heterosexual, pure, lunging, thrusting, perpetually-hard-cock male. We meet up most afternoons, after he's returned from his location shooting, and before I go off to whatever club I'm working, and he shags..." I was about to say, 'the arse off me,' but in view of the public image of Ivor, I thought that was a term I had better avoid, "...me for about three hours solid - nonstop."
"Oh," Bethany said. "Does that mean you haven't actually slept with him?"
Since that was a subject the notes had instructed me to discuss, I was glad that she had raised it. But did I notice a certain tension around the table? Had Bethany, as usual, put her foot in it?
"Well I don't normally sleep with Ivor," I said, emphasising the sleep word. Did everybody relax slightly when I said that? "But yesterday, we moved into this wonderful new house." I gesticulated around the restaurant as though we were really there. "So we spent our first night here, together."
There was definitely an air of tension now. I continued, trying hard not to grin at my ham acting. "I hadn't realised until last night that Ivor talked so much in his sleep." I let my voice go flat. "It's amazing what he comes out with."
You could cut the atmosphere with a knife, now. "He said something about one of you," I added.
"One of us?" Emily said, with a tight little smile. "Which one?"
"Actually," I said, "I felt rather betrayed when he said that he and my friend had had sex together. However, I am prepared to forgive them if they come clean with me now, and apologise." I lowered my head so I was staring at the table rather than at any one of them. "So would you like to do that, please?"
"You haven't said who it was," Gemma said.
"No," I said. "I haven't. I'd like the guilty person to confess without me directly challenging them. I'm sure the other girls won't mind."
There was a long silence, eventually broken by Bethany who said, "I'm sorry Melons, it was me. I had sex with Ivor. I thought that asking whether he was gay would establish I didn't know he was built like a stallion." Then she added, "But I wasn't the only one. You're right, Ivor does talk in his sleep, and there are two others here who he also had sex with. So I think they ought to confess as well."
If there was murder to be done, I thought, Bethany was lining herself up for it, but I said, "Thanks for being honest with me, Bethany. Now are the others also going to be honest?"
After a few seconds of dagger-like looks from several of the girls, Gemma said, "Sorry Melons. I shagged him as well. Apart from saying sorry, I can only say you're a very lucky woman to be marrying him. He really is a bull of a man."
"Thank you Gemma," I said, and added, "I'm still waiting."
Chloe and Emily started speaking together, "Sorry Melons..." then they both stopped as they realised only one need have spoken.
"OK," I said. "Let's make this slightly easier. Will you raise your hand if you haven't had sex with Ivor in the last month."
Isobel, Jenny and the Rev Deb all raised their hands. I stared at them, then back down at the table. "The woman who Ivor talked about in his sleep last night has not yet confessed. I've already said, I can put up with disloyalty from my friends, but I'm really getting pissed off at your dishonesty. Now, will you keep your hand raised if, and only if, you haven't had sex with Ivor in the last month."
I waited a second before looking up. Only the Rev Deb had her hand still raised. I looked at her and shook my head. "I'm afraid it was you who Ivor spoke about in his sleep yesterday. He said you'd been a fantastic lay," I said, "and he didn't mean a lay preacher."
"Wowy!" Bethany said. "The so-called poofta Ivor Slackarse even shagged the vicar."
"I'm sorry Melons," the Rev Deb said to me. She wriggled uncomfortably in her seat. "After we'd had the wedding rehearsal, do you remember he said there was something confidential he wanted to discuss with me? We both stayed behind after you left, and he knew me - in the biblical sense - over the alter. I accept it was totally wrong, and it only happened once, but I confess it did happen and I beg your forgiveness."
"I'm only sorry it took you, of all people, so long to be honest," I said.
"You filthy whore!"
We all turned in surprise. The elderly male diner at the next table who'd been ogling me all the way through the meal was now standing up and striding over towards Debra. "I knew it was a mistake to allow females into the clergy. I knew things like this would happen."
The Rev Deb looked completely nonplussed by this. It was strange, I thought, how playing a part affects your character. As Kim, she'd probably have fed this guy through the shredder, but as it was, she was looking extremely ill at ease, crossing and uncrossing her legs. I decided this was a case that Melons would have a view upon.
"Of course," I was surprised as anyone that I could respond so rapidly. "Male clergy never had sex with parishioners or with their choir boys, did they?"
He goggled a bit then came back with, "That's different."
"Only because you're a sexist pig," I said.
The other girls all applauded me! Did I feel chuffed?
We reconvened in the function room and were all waiting as Emily watched the clock tick to three pm.
"OK," she said, "Let the Murder Mystery Proper formally begin. Here are the second round of character notes for you to peruse in a minute, but first I have to tell you that Ivor Slakhaus was found murdered in this house only ten minutes ago. I have checked that the whole house is locked and alarmed, so no one could have got in or out. We have to assume that he was murdered by one of us. The police will arrive in a few minutes, but they advised me over the telephone that we should all stay in this room and keep in sight of one another, and that we shouldn't talk to each other about what has happened.
"Personally," she continued, "I would rather not have everything we talked about over lunch broadcast throughout the gutter press. Therefore, I would like the murderer to confess their guilt, so the rest of us need not be investigated too thoroughly."
She paused and waited for a response - and waited - and waited.
"I don't think anyone's going to confess," I said.
"Oh come on, Melons," Bethany said. "We all know it must be you because Ivor Slackarse was being dreadfully unfaithful to you. Why don't you just confess?"
"I'm not going to confess because I didn't do it," I said.
"In that case," Emily said, "I feel we need to investigate the murder ourselves, and deduce who is guilty. If we can solve this case whilst the police are still getting their Scene of Crime people sorted, they won't need to investigate the rest of us. So Melons, why don't you tell us what you were doing between finishing lunch and being called to see Ivor's body?"
I reached for my character notes to find out what Melons had been doing.
"Firstly, I went to the toilet," I said, reading from the notes, "where I met..."
"I think everyone has ignored the first law of detective fiction," Gemma said, several hours later. "That is: the most obvious suspect is never guilty."
In this final phase, Gemma was the fifth person to give their opinion of who the murderer was. As organiser, Emily had abstained - she said she had an unfair advantage - and so far, everyone else had chosen Melons (ie me).
"Consequently," Gemma continued, "Melons cannot be the murderer." She gave me a smile, which I returned. It was good having a wife who took your side.
"The second law of detective fiction," she continued, "stipulates that the most unlikely person is really the murderer, so using that rule of logic, I pronounce the murderer is the Reverend Debra Black."
Debra gave a little wriggle of appreciation, whilst I considered what Gemma had suggested. It was certainly true that the Rev Deb appeared to be the least unlikely murderer amongst us, but on the other hand, she too, would not have wanted her brief 'knowledge' of Ivor over the alter to become public information. As yet, I had to voice my opinion, and to be honest I hadn't a clue. There were only Chloe and I left to give our verdicts, and as she looked at me prior to speaking, I thought it was probably a good job this was not a real jury, and they no longer executed murderers in Britain.
"I think Gemma has forgotten," Chloe said, the penultimate person to take up the baton, "that in detective fiction the most likely person is allowed to be the murderer, if their guilt is so plainly obvious that people start thinking exactly as Gemma has done - that the most obvious person cannot be guilty - in other words a double bluff." She gave another smile. "Now, let me just review the evidence which brings me to the conclusion I have..." and she started to repeat much of the stuff which others had talked about over the last ten minutes.
As she droned on, for once I appreciated how much she liked the sound of her own voice, for it gave me time to think. I had to find a better solution than what had been given so far. Then, it hit me.
"...and so," Chloe was coming to an end of her monologue as I was collecting together my thoughts, "I pronounce Melons as the murderer."
"Well, Melons," Emily said, "is it worth you trying to pass the buck onto someone else, or do you want to confess straightaway?"
"I'm always in favour of passing the buck," I said with a grin. "In this case, I, of course, have an absolute advantage over you all. I know that I didn't do it."
There was a mutter of disbelief, but I held up the inch-long talons on my right hand to suppress it. "Gemma was right of course," I started my denouement, "that in detective fiction the most innocent person is always supposed to be the murderer, but that set me thinking. If the Rev Deb had committed murder, why would she have done it?"
I glanced around in my best Poirot-like manner. "To hide the fact that she, like everyone else, had been seduced by my fiance?" I asked rhetorically. "She wasn't married and it's hardly likely to be a sackable offence in an organisation which is based upon forgiving our sins. In fact, looking at it absolutely objectively, murdering Ivor will put the shameful way you all behaved onto the front page of every newspaper in the country.
"Consequently," I continued, "the reason for murdering Ivor cannot have been to cover up what we girls know already. It must have been to hide something that only Ivor knew. But what could that be. We are now all well aware that Ivor uttered indiscretions in his sleep, and since most of you have slept with him far more than I, it stands to reason that at least one of you should probably also be aware of what Ivor was keeping secret.
"Except," I said, "that apart from the murderer, no one appears to know any further secrets. But just suppose that it was the Rev Deb who has the additional secret. I was the only person to sleep with Ivor after he had it away with her. Unfortunately, I was so surprised at his initial disclosure that I woke him up and gave him hell. Perhaps, if had let him sleep on, I would have heard him say something else about Debra - the secret for which she murdered."
"You've heard me confess my only secret," the Rev Deb said. "There is nothing else to confess."
"Really?" I said. "But that brings me on to something that Kim said before the hen party started - that she had been trapped into playing your role. What's so bad about this part that she should feel she was trapped into it? That you, like everyone else, had sex with Ivor? I don't think so."
Another pause as I looked around. "There is one other piece of evidence that clearly none of you have noticed. The quality of Kim's acting of the Rev Deb. It's so good, you haven't even realised she is acting."
They all looked a bit dumfounded by that, but Debra shifted uncomfortably again.
"There you are," I said. "What is it that keeps causing Debra to wriggle about? What is it that Kim would hate above all else?"
"I'm waiting to hear," the Rev Deb said. "There is nothing."
"The one thing that Kim would hate, and the Rev Deb simply could not afford to be made public," I said, building to fanfare, "was that the Reverend Debra Black was really..." another pause for effect, "a transvestite!" I declared.
"Oh go on," someone said; another, "Don't be ridiculous."
"When Ivor had Debra over the alter," I continued, "it was because he was having anal intercourse with her, as she doesn't have a vagina."
"That's a fantastic accusation," Emily said, then added, "Debra, would you like to disprove it?"
"I certainly would," Debra said, standing up, reaching to the buttons on the top of her vestment and releasing them, so her vestment dropped towards the floor. "Unfortunately, I'm unable to do so." She spread her arms to reveal a hairy chest over impressive pectorals; further down, a thick penis hung down halfway to the knees, topped by testicles the size of plums.
"'ave you 'eard?" Fernando said, taking us all by surprise as he came through the door with his tray, holding glasses of champagne. "Portsmouth 'as won the Cup Final! Champagne all roun..." As his mouth fell open at the site of the Rev Deb, he dropped the tray onto the floor with a tremendous crash.
"We did ask you to knock before entering," Emily said.
"I just never realised that Kim was really a man," Bethany said, in a voice so loud that several other people in the bar turned around to look at her.
"Well it's the Rev Deb who was a man," Emily said. "Kim was playing the part."
Apart from Kim, who'd gone to the toilet, we had all adjourned to the hotel bar, still in our characters. Can you believe it? There were at least four blokes who were ogling me more than some of the really attractive women surrounding me.
"Yes but," Bethany was not deterred, "we all saw it. The pecs and that huge dongle. Blimey, I wouldn't mind that inside me, but don't tell Adam."
The people who had been looking at her turned back to their own groups in embarrassment. However, I suspected they were all still tuned into our conversation.
"Why don't we move over to that corner unit," Emily said. "It will be more private there."
We did as she suggested, and were just getting seated when a bloke came up and tried to sit down with us.
"Sorry," I said. "This table's taken."
"I thought a sexy bride-chick like you wouldn't mind a bit of male company," he said, slipping a hand onto my upper thigh.
I was just about to put one on him when Gemma said, "Stop it Kim. Melons hasn't realised who you are."
I gulped and stared at the intruder. "Kim?"
"Did I surprise you?" she asked. "Having got this male conversion thing on, I thought I'd stay in it all evening, but since I didn't want to stand out as a vicar, I brought some of my brother's clothes."
We all looked at her.
"How did you do it?" Emily eventually asked the question we'd all been nervous of putting.
"Isobel gave me the name of the company where she gets her tits from, and where she bought the Hiplet," she said. "They also make this Torsolet, for transforming females to males. It's pretty realistic, don't you think?"
"You mean," Bethany said, "that you're not really a man at all?"
Everybody else tried not to giggle, but Kim answered it straight. "Sorry to disappoint you," she said. "The answer is no, I'm really a woman, so I'm truly not interested in having sex with you."
The rest of us laughed good-naturedly, but Bethany looked quite disappointed that she wasn't going to have Kim's huge cock, after all.
"I don't know how the rest of you girls feel," Emily said, "but why don't we order some bar food, and follow it with a few more drinks? We can tell our blokes to meet us here when they get off the coach from Wembley, then we can all share taxis back to our houses."
It all sounded a highly acceptable arrangement, except... My heart gave a sudden lurch. "Hang on! We can't have the guys seeing me dressed like this."
"I don't think the guys will get as far as looking at your face," Emily said. "We can introduce you as Harry's twin sister, say er..."
"Harriet," Gemma suggested. "Harriet, who Harry asked to stand in for him, after he decided he didn't want to play a game with a load of women."
"But what happens if they talk with me?" I asked.
"Of course they'll talk with you," Chloe said. "You've got huge knockers, heels the height of the Eiffel tower, and are wearing a see-through wedding dress. Who do you think they're going to talk to?"
"Perhaps you could talk football with them," Gemma said.
Traitors! The lot of them.
I couldn't believe they didn't recognise me!
Well, I guess if they'd looked at my face without first clocking the huge tits (in itself an impossible feat), they might have wondered. But Emily was exactly right. If they did see any resemblance between Harriet and Harry, it was all explained away by us being twins. Fortunately, none of them appeared to realise that different sex twins cannot be identical!
"I'm surprised Harry hasn't introduced us to you before," Adam was saying.
I gave a downwards glance at him. Surely his cock wasn't as big as Bethany had been making out. Certainly nothing like the size of Kim's false prick. So how could Bethany even consider having Kim's cock inside her? I shook my head.
"It's alright," Adam said. "I won't object to you leering at the front of my trousers if you don't object to my looking down the front of your dress." To my incredible embarrassment, he proceeded to do so.
"Would you like another drink, Harriet?" Dan asked me, reaching across to get my glass and accidentally brushing against my breast. I pretended not to notice, but since that was at least the tenth time one of the guys had nudged against my boobs or my thighs, they must have imagined I didn't mind.
Didn't mind! Every touch virtually gave me a orgasm. All the same, I was glad of the protection of the other women. I'd hate to be on my own with these three guys. I reckoned they'd have my panties off me in thirty seconds, and I certainly didn't want to go down that route. The thought was obnoxious.
"I've ordered taxis for us," Frank came back from outside, "but seeing as Portsmouth won the fucking FA Cup Final, and everybody is out celebrating, it's probably going to take hours to get them over here."
So we continued to drink and be merry. It really was great fun being wined at the expense of the three blokes, who were certainly in a more-than-generous mood, following their Cup Final win, so when a barman came over an hour later to announce the taxis were here, I was not only highly inebriated, I was just a little reluctant to depart. I stayed for a little longer, insisting on finishing my almost-full glass of wine. Fool that I was!
By the time I got outside, the first taxi had departed with Isobel, Jenny and Kim inside, and the second, with Bethany, Chloe, Emily and Gemma was just about to leave. That left Adam, Dan, Frank, and me to share the final taxi. It was a stupid arrangement, because two of the couples, Adam and Bethany, Emily and Frank, lived miles away from us other two.
I was barely in the car for ten seconds before I found hands reaching up to squeeze of my tits, and gliding up the inside of my thighs.
"Hold on a minute, guys," I said.
"That's what we're doing," Dan said, "except we're planning on holding on for rather longer than a minute."
"But that's..." My words were submerged as Adam placed his lips on mine and kissed me. By rights, I should have been horrified, pushed him away, and then socked him one on the nose. But I'd already thoroughly enjoyed kissing with Fernando, and actually, Adam was a much better kisser. Also, as he moved towards me, it gave me a chance to feel what felt like a rolling pin down the front of his trousers!
All the same, I was mighty relieved by the time we arrived at my house, and glad that they had agreed to drop me off first, rather than going to Dan's. They'd had fingers all over my body, tongues right down my throat and my hands had been pushed against trousers covering rock-hard cocks. Sure I was on an incredible sexual high, but I really did not want to let it go any further.
"Let me ring the doorbell for you, Harriet," Dan said, climbing out of the taxi first.
"Thanks, Dan," I said, following him out onto the pavement. "And thanks guys for the journey."
"We're glad you enjoyed it," Frank said with a big grin, then added, nodding towards the house, "Gemma should have got back before us, but there's no sign of a light on in the house."
He was right. Our taxi had not taken the most direct route - I suspected the guys had told the driver to take his time whilst they touched me up - so Gemma should have been here ten minutes ago. She didn't come to the door in response to Dan ringing. He knocked again, very loudly, still with no response.
It doesn't look like she's back, yet," Dan said. "Have you got a key?"
I shook my head. Gemma had my keys along with all my clothes. I had nothing. "I expect she's just got delayed," Dan said, and he bent his head down so he could speak to the taxi driver.
After a minute, he turned round to me and said, "The driver's been on the radio. The other taxi has broken down, and they haven't been able to get anyone else to pick them up. Look, I only live around the corner. Why don't we all go round there, then we can send our taxi back to pick up Gemma and the rest of the girls?"
It sounded a sensible solution, except I knew that, if a girl on her own didn't want to be gang-banged by three rampant blokes, it was about the most senseless thing she could do.
"Come on, Harriet," Frank had taken my hand and was pulling me back inside the taxi. "You can hardly wait out on the street for her to return. It's simply not safe for a girl on her own to be waiting around, when so many blokes are pissed out of their minds and on an Cup Final high."
The problem was, he was right. It wasn't safe on the streets. A car came roaring past, Portsmouth scarves hanging out of the window, and blasting its horn at me.
"Hi, everybody." We turned. It was Kim.
"Hello Kim," I said, never before so pleased to see her. "We were just trying to decide what to do. You see, Gemma's taxi..."
"...has broken down," she continued. "I know. She phoned me on her mobile and asked me to pop round and make certain you were alright."
"We were going to make certain she was alright," Dan said.
"Of course you were, guys," she said. "But now, you don't have to worry about Harriet. I only live round the corner, so we can go there. You can all go off to Dan's, then send the taxi back for the girls. OK? Harriet" She gave me an angelic look.
"OK with me," I said, and added, "Thanks guys for looking after me." I gave them a sweet smile, which they grumpily returned.
"See you guys," I said, linking my arms with Kim and we walked off.
"Thanks Kim," I said. "I was shitting myself back there."
We had reached her flat, only a few minutes' walk away from my house.
"It was our fault really," she said, having the grace to blush. "We girls all thought it would be a complete gas if we manoeuvred it so you were on your own with the guys. But getting fumbled in the back of a car is different from getting semi-raped in Dan's house."
"Well you weren't to know Gemma's car would breakdown," I said magnanimously.
"It's strange that it did though, isn't it?" she said. "Tell me, can you do anything to a car with sugar? Only I saw Frank getting a cup of it from the kitchen."
"The bastards," I said. "It's an old trick. Put sugar into a car fuel tank and the engine will cease up within about half a mile."
"I agree about most men being bastards," Kim said, "except, of course, when I'm being a man. In the meantime, it's likely to take at least half an hour for the taxi to drive back to the breakdown and bring Gemma back to your house. I told her to ring me as soon as she arrived at the house, and I'd walk round there with you. Which means, we have ages to kill. So, what's a guy with a girl's parts, and a girl with a boy's parts to do for all that time?"
My mouth dropped open. "You mean... you and I..."
Kim smiled. "You know that the same firm made my equipment, yours, and Isobel's, which means the same remote works for all. When Isobel twiddled about with her remote control this morning, my false cock went into an instant erection. It's made so that, as it does so, it arouses my most sensitive of spots. That's why I shouted at you and Isobel.
"After she sneaked the sensitivity up when Fernando was kissing you," she continued, "I've been getting incredible hard-ons every few minutes. You said I was a great actor during the Mystery Murder. It wasn't that at all. It was simply that I was trying to wriggle around to make my cock more comfortable. However, I think now is the time for a bit of joint relief, don't you?"
"Well, yes, of course I do," I said, adding as I justified a little infidelity, "After all, it's hardly as though I'm going to be sticking my penis inside you, is it? Quite the reverse."
"That's just what I thought," Kim said. "You've probably guessed that I always like to be the dominant one in any relationship - not S & M, you understand - I simply like to be in control. Most blokes are simply not happy with that. I can see the way you and the other guys at ABC look at me when I start bossing you all around. However, now I'm the man, and you're the little woman..."
"Well, I'm not so certain..." I started, but my words were abruptly cut off by Kim grabbing me and kissing me hard. His tongue (his tongue?) was down my throat in seconds, and I was gasping for air.
The advantage of doing it this way," he said as we parted for breath after half a minute, "is that I know exactly what it takes to pleasure a woman." He had pushed me back so I was lying along the settee, one foot still on the floor, whilst the other had somehow got pushed up onto the backrest.
"For example," he said, running his fingers along my leg beneath my dress, "simply touching you here."
My vagina suddenly exploded in pleasure. "Oh my God!" I screamed.
"Was that really nice?" he asked. "Would you like me to kiss you there?"
"Oh please, please," I gasped.
He had the most exquisite tongue. Within thirty seconds, he'd brought me almost to orgasm, and he kept me there for minute after squirming minute.
"I think it's my turn now," he said. "Is that alright?"
"Oh God! Yes!" I said. "Fuck me, fuck me hard!"
It was only an expression, you understand. I was simply joining in with the spirit of our sexual game. I wasn't quite prepared for how hard he was going to fuck me. He firmly grabbed hold of the ankle that was resting along the back of the settee, and lifted it and forced it back over my head, moving along with it so he was on top of me, his cock already at the entrance to my vagina.
The Hiplet really was a fantastic device. I could feel his huge cock rubbing against my crack, trying to push its way inside. My leg forced backwards over my head may have been bloody uncomfortable, but the feelings my pussy was giving me made it all...
"Shit! Jesus! That hurt."
The bastard had simply lunged inside me, using brute force to push through my pussy lips, and he was shoving it in until...
"Aagh! Oh my God! Kim. Stop it! It won't go any further."
Then he was withdrawing it, the head of his cock stretching my lips to breaking point with excruciating agony, but at least it would be over now...
He lunged in again.
"Yaah! Oh shit! You're too long for me. You've reached the end of my pussy." After all, it wasn't a real pussy he was fucking. My artificial pussy presumably ran between my legs but there was only a finite space for a cock to enter, and his was simply too long.
"Your right," Kim said. "This is no fucking good whatsoever. Hang on..
He pulled it right out, thank God! It was a bit painful again as my lips stretched over his knob, but then it was gone and I could feel everything settling back into its proper place.
"Er, no, Kim. That's the wrong hole... Oh shit! Shit! SHIT!!!"
He was shoving his cock into my rectum. If I thought a cock going into a pussy was painful, this was like a million times worse. And instead of Kim's prick going in a few inches and stopping, this time it went in, and it went in, and still it went in.
"Oh, that's fucking good!" Kim said, starting to withdraw it. "That is really fucking good."
"No, Kim! You've got to stop..."
"Ye-e-e-e-s-s-s!" he roared the top of his voice as he again lunged inside. The pain was so intense, it was as though my insides were being ripped open from rectum to navel.
"Kim! Stop!" I wailed. "Kim! Please!"
"Yeah! Fuck you, you little whore!" he said. "Cock-teasing all us poor guys with your huge melons. You're just a little slag.
Needless to say, between each shout, he withdrew his cock to the point where it was stretching my ring to breaking point, and then as he shouted, he lunged in with all his strength. Actually, now I was starting to get used to it, it wasn't so bad. At least, I thought, I now know what it's like having your arse shagged off.
"Oh God! Yes!" I moaned, and I pushed against him as he lunged.
"You little bitch! You're enjoying this, aren't you? Well take that!
"And that! Oh fuck you! I'm coming! I'm coming! Y-e-e-e-e-e-e-s-s-s! Oh, fucking y-e-e-e-s-s-s!"
I could feel him filling my arse with his semen - actually, he'd already told me it was natural yoghurt, but it was so hot, it was almost burning me inside.
Another massive thrust accompanied by more burning semen, then couple of quite small thrusts and then he was still.
I wanted to say, "Is that it? Don't I get an orgasm?" but wisely I kept quiet.
"Have you enjoyed the day, Harriet?" Kim asked, as he walked me back to my house. At least, the bastard had the manners to do that.
"You bet," I said. "Fantastic! How about you?"
She smiled and her face changed. (It was definitely 'she', now). "The same. I may have lost the bet, but it was well worth it."
"Bet," I said. "What bet?"
"Oh," she said. "Perhaps I shouldn't have mentioned that. It must be my post-coital serenity."
"What bet," I repeated.
She looked at me with a sheepish smile. (Kim? Sheepish? I'd never have believed she could have put on such an expression.) "I guess I'd better come clean. Do you remember that detective book we read at ABC five weeks ago?"
I creased my brow, trying to remember details of that unmemorable story. "It was called 'Murder at Spring Hill'. The one where the woman living upstairs was really a man, and..." I broke off as the comparison struck me. "What's this got to do with your bet?"
"Afterwards," she continued, "you and Gemma didn't come to the pub."
"No," I said. "We had to go and collect something from Gemma's mother."
"So we got to talking, as we always do," Kim continued. "And most of us felt the plot was totally unrealistic - the very idea of a man being able to fool everyone he was a woman was ridiculous. But Bethany said that for a professional beautician like her, it was not that difficult. With the right make-up, lots of men could be made-up to look like women."
"So you decided on me," I stated the obvious.
"For one thing, you weren't there," she said. "It's so much easier to talk about someone when they aren't there, and the other men were all at the next table talking football, as they always do."
"And?" I prompted.
"And we just picked on you as an example of a typical man and Bethany explained what kind of make-up she'd use to make your face appear more feminine. Then Isobel piped in and talked about her Bustlet - I'd never realised hers were that false until that evening - and she said the company made these other things for male cross-dressers. It just kind of continued on from there."
"It didn't just continue," I said. "It went from a hypothetical discussion through to a plan to trick and deceive me."
"OK," she agreed. "Bethany kept on about how easy it would be, so I simply said, 'I bet you couldn't do it?' and she said, 'Done. I accept your bet.' Well, that kind of surprised me, but I couldn't back down. So we agreed on a five pound bet - it wasn't so much the money, more the challenge.
"After that of course," she continued, "we had to work out how to convince you to agree to do it. You'd been talking at the start of the meeting about that Murder Mystery Game at your brother's house, so we thought that would be the ideal opportunity."
"Hang on," I said. "The whole thing only came about because Emily suggested a Not the Cup Final Event, which must have been the following week. If the men hadn't been talking about going to the Cup Final..."
My words died out as Kim shook her head slowly from side to side. "The reason the men were talking about it was because, before she left home that evening, Emily had asked Frank if he had thought about going to the Cup Final. Having had the idea put into his head, he talked about it to the guys. I suppose if they hadn't have jumped at that, we'd have invented something else."
"So everything was set up," I said. "That conversation about the size of breasts," (Kim nodded.) "...actually getting me to suggest the Murder Mystery Game," (Kim nodded.) "...Emily just happening to open the website with the All Girl games on the menu," (Kim nodded.) "...and you taking the part of the Rev Dev, so I was left with Melon Delight."
"I think the term that we males use," Kim said, "is you were well and truly shafted." She smiled. "And after the last thirty minutes, you've been well and truly shafted twice. But, according to men, that's a woman's role in life."
"You believe all men think like that?"
"OK," she reconsidered. "I think you are an excellent honorary woman."
I'm sure that I heard her add beneath her breath, "And a real good fuck!"
But we'd arrived at my house, and Gemma was waiting at the door, so I could hardly challenge Kim over that.
After we'd said our goodbyes to Kim, and closed the door, Gemma said, I've got a little surprise for you." She was holding something behind her back.
"A surprise?" I said, thinking that Gemma obviously felt guilty about being involved in the plot to convert me - as she must have been - and was trying to make it up.
"Yes," she said. "I knew you've been excited in the lead up to today, and we'd have a lot of fun. But the real fun is only just beginning." She brought her arm from behind her back to reveal a huge, double-ended, penis-shaped dildo.
Frank and Emily were a bit late for the next week's ABC meeting and we'd already started. After muttered apologies as they came in, interrupting Chloe pontificating about this week's book, Frank sat down in his usual place next to Adam, giving him a wink as he did so.
As Chloe came to the end of her talk a few minutes later, and a bit of an argument raged about what she'd said amongst Kim and Gemma, Frank leant towards Adam and whispered, "You just won't believe what Emily told me, just now. You could have knocked me over with a..."
"Are you guys in this discussion or not?" Kim turned with a frown, annoyed at trying to talk above the sound of Frank's mutterings.
Meanwhile, my heart was pounding. Surely, Emily wouldn't have told Frank about my role in the Murder Mystery. She promised! If she had, I was totally compromised. I felt myself flushing with embarrassment.
Fortunately, it was Frank who was asked to speak next, and even more fortunately, he said something controversial about the book - I really can't remember what it was since my mind was in a spin, but it got everybody else arguing with him, so he appeared to forget all about it, right until we all went to the pub at the end.
Dan went to the bar with our usual order, whilst Frank pulled Adam to one side. Unusually, instead of immediately joining the girls, I hovered behind them so I could listen in.
"I just couldn't believe what Emily said," Frank was saying. "I was going on - you know how you do - about how enjoyable it was going to Wembley, and she said that they'd enjoyed the day as well. Then she said..."
"Two pints for you guys," Dan said, sarcastically adding, "and don't feel you have to help me carry everything."
"Sorry Dan," they both muttered, moving to help him, and once more I was put into suspense over what Frank was going to say.
A couple of minutes later, all three of them had reconvened. "So Emily said to me," Frank continued yet again, "'You probably think Wembley was really good, but don't you think there are more exciting things for a man to do?' 'Like what?' I asked and she said, 'Like doing something you've never even thought about doing before,' and when I still couldn't see what she was talking about she said, 'Like going to see football at the Olympics.' "
All three of us blokes expired air at the same time, me the loudest of all, and the others turned to notice me standing behind them.
"Fantastic!" "Bloody hell!" "Even Harry's interested," Frank added.
Then, of course, reality bit in. "It would cost a fortune," Alan said, and "Chloe would never stand for it," from Dan.
"It wouldn't cost a fortune," Frank said. "Emily told me the Olympic tickets aren't selling like they thought they would, so there are some good deals around. I'll show you some prices in a minute. As for the women - well Emily said that if we did want to go, she'd manipulate them so they'd agree."
"Manipulate them?" Adam said.
"Well you know what she's like," Frank said. "When Emily suggested us going to Wembley, she said she'd distract the women with that Murder Mystery thing, so they wouldn't complain."
Yeah, right, I thought.
"Blimey, I didn't know that," Dan said.
"Are we all in, then?" Frank asked. "Harry. What about you?"
I shook my head. "Not really. I wouldn't mind seeing China, but not when the Olympics are on."
They shook their heads sadly, then turned their attention to some prices Frank had printed off the internet. I returned to the girls.
Emily was saying, "It rather sounds as though the men are planning a follow up to Wembley."
"What kind of follow up?" Gemma asked me.
"That would be telling," I said, not wanting to get between the husbands and their wives.
Emily smiled. "It's alright, Harry," she said. "Only I noticed that the Seacombe Book Festival is on just the same week as the football finals at the Olympics. It sounds really good this year. They're concentrating on Chic Lit, but they've also got some quite dishy, male authors giving talks. If the men went off to the Olympics, we could have a 'Not the Olympics' week. We could also get the Murder Mystery group to run a few events, if you see what I mean.
"With all that Chic Lit," she continued, "I don't suppose Harry would want to come, but there's no reason why we shouldn't invite his sister, Harriet? What do you say, Harry."
"I think you're probably right, Emily," I said, a grin spreading wildly across my face. "I could spend that week moving the compost heap from one end of the garden to the other, but I'm certain Harriet would be delighted to come in my place."
"I thought so," she said.
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