Wrestling with Discontent

Synopsis: Judy wants to change her husband Pat “just a little” here and there. Her first step is to wake up his masculine ego by challenging him to a wrestling match, but things don’t go as she had planned. This rewrite of a Storysite story by Suejrz was posted first several years ago. I’ve rewritten it.

Wrestling With Discontent

By Angela Rasch


 

Author's Note: “The Wrestling Contest” was posted on Storysite by Suejrz. She did a great job writing it, but I suggested another way it could have been written. She graciously allowed me to tell the story from another point of view.

Pat and I had rented a secluded northern Minnesota cabin for the second week in June -- a vacation I hoped would be a second honeymoon. My aunt had left me a sizable amount of money, so we could afford to take our summers off after a busy year teaching. I had made extensive plans for a week-long physical program to shift Pat toward cardio-vascular fitness. I love my husband, but he’s becoming a real wuss.

“Do we have to, Judy?” His plea came within a whisker of a nasal whine. I had told him that we could put off the unpacking until after we went on an eight-mile hike. The brochure from the rental agency had listed several paths that meandered through rough terrain.

Pat had spotted a bug of some kind in the cabin’s kitchen and vowed immediately to clean the entire cabin.

“We’re going to get our exercise,” I said. “You haven’t touched a weight in years. You’re starting to look puny.” We had met in college and had dated during graduate school. With our degrees, his in English Education and mine in Sports Medicine Education, we had become teachers in a Minneapolis suburb school district.

“Puny? I can still take you,” he bragged. He flexed his bicep, hardly making a bulge on the top of his arm. He beamed his patented Ain’t-I-a-Lovable-Little-Guy grin.

He is.

We both weighed less than 120 pounds and were about the same height. However, seven years of teaching gym combined with lifting four times a week had given my body a decided strength edge.

Heck, even the book he read while I drove the entire way to the cabin had been a piece of chick lit fluff. Sometimes I wonder about him. “You — take me? Are you kidding me?” I can easily wipe the floor with him. There’s no way I want to waste our vacation time cleaning an already spic and span cabin. I don’t want to go off by myself to exercise. Pat and I need time together to try to rekindle the romantic spark we once had. I want to take Pat hiking, running, swimming, and climbing. Unless I push him, Pat can be counted on to have his nose in his book -- or trying a new recipe. He’ll never change without me prodding him.

“Once I’m done making this place livable,” he declared, “we need to get our things in and get situated before it gets dark. Those darn mosquitoes will eat us alive if we’re outside after dark.”

He won’t even think of sleeping in a tent. He’s Mr. Inside while I long to be Mrs. Great Outdoors.

When we had loaded our Jeep Cherokee, Pat had been unable to lift the one large piece of luggage we had shared. I had to put it into the back of the Jeep for him. “I suppose you want me to bring in the suitcase?”

“Would you?” Again his nasally whine.

I hadn’t noticed his neediness before we got married. It wasn’t like he didn’t do his share. Well, actually — that was exactly it. He didn’t do his share -- he did mine. I did his share. I shoveled the walks. I cut the grass. I cleaned the gutters. He washed the dishes, and did most of the cooking.

“I’ll open the windows to air out the stale odor, and do a little more cleaning while you bring in our suitcase.”

He’ll disinfect the cabin to within an inch of its life.

I brought the bag in, and he started to unpack.

“I can help you with that.”

He looked at me and smirked. “You’d just make a mess of things. You have a bad habit of just tossing everything into drawers. If I don’t do it we’ll have wrinkled clothes for our entire vacation. I didn’t bring my iron, you know.”

I'm here to have a good time. Wrinkles are the farthest thing from my mind.

“Honey,” he sang out, “why don’t you go down to the dock and catch us some fish? I’ll get us nice and comfy here in the cabin. I’ll fry whatever you catch, once you’ve cleaned them. I’ll cook some fresh asparagus. Doesn’t that sound yummy?”

Going on a long hike followed by wild sex sounds "yummy”, but that obviously isn't going to happen.

His vocabulary isn’t his fault. Pat had been the youngest child with seven older sisters. His father died when he was four. Without the benefit of a man for a role model when he was young, Pat’s word choices are often more feminine than mine. When we dated, his courteous conversation contrasted with the four-letter mouths on the other boys. After seven years, his dainty words sound like fingernails on a chalkboard.

I’ve thought about divorce, but I honestly still love him. I'm going to use this week to start the process of making a man out of him. Life repeats itself. Nothing my father did pleased Mom. She was always nitpicking and found fault with him. Not wanting to be like her, I had seldom criticized Pat. This week is going to be different. Our marriage depends on it.

“Judy, before you go fishing could you please open this window for me?” He had been straining for about thirty seconds.

When I tried, it slid open with ridiculous ease. “Like I said, Pat, you’re puny.”

“I must have loosened it.” He blushed, which no longer seemed so cute.

This is my first opportunity to wake him up. “Pat, you need to work out, and get some muscle tone. The boys in my seventh grade class could’ve opened that window.”

“I’m okay. I can do anything I really want to do. And, like I said, I can still handle you.” He turned his back and found a dust rag.

Where's he going to find dust in an already immaculate cabin? And -- who cares? “Step outside,” I growled. My fists were clenched trying to fight off my frustration. I was mad at myself for having married him, and mad at the world.

“What?” He was totally absorbed in his fastidious sterilization process.

“Step outside; I’ll show you who the man is in this family.” The tone I had used should have been followed by me biting off a big chaw of tobacco and spitting on the floor.

“Are you nuts? I’m not going to fight you.” He laughed and took the vacuum cleaner from the closet. “Hey look! A Hoover! I can use this attachment to reach those cobwebs in the upper corners.”

“Come on,” I said. “I’m not going to hurt you. We’ll wrestle. The first one to pin the other gets to decide what we’re going to do for the first three days.” I’ll win, but it’ll still be fair. I’ll decide the first three days’ activities and then he can decide what we’ll do the rest of the week. That way I’ll have a few days to incite his masculine side. A little shame will shove him in the right direction. “Maybe I’ll make you be my maid.”

He put down the vacuum and looked at me with fresh interest. Then he shrugged. “Don’t be ridiculous, Judy. Go on down to the lake and catch us some walleye.” He grinned again.

Darn. He's still cute. For a moment I thought about throwing him over my shoulder and wrinkling our sheets. Instead I put my thumbs in my armpits and flapped my elbows up and down. “Bwaaaaack, buck, buck, buck.” I chicken-walked around the cabin’s small living room, which was really nothing but an extension of the kitchen and eating area.

“Do you really want to wrestle?” He asked.

I nodded.

“Okay. Let me get change out of my good clothes.”

“Let’s go right now!” I grabbed him by the hand and pulled him out on the front lawn where he got into sort of a wrestling stance. We circled each other, smiling - but serious. For the first minute or so neither of us could throw the other person to the ground. Finally I reached for a cross-ankle pick that I had taught during the wrestling block of my physical education classes. The next thing he knew I had him on his back with his shoulders pinned to the ground.

I giggled, and then enjoying the physical contact, I ground my pelvis into his groin, aching to make love.

He’s not even looking at me. I followed the line of his eyesight to his elbow. His white Oxford shirt had ripped, and there was a teardrop in the corner of his eye!

“Darn it, Judy. This was one of my best shirts. Why did you have to be so rough?” He whimpered.

My sphincter puckered while I gritted my teeth. I rolled off and stared up at the white clouds dotting an otherwise azure sky. I have to teach him a lesson by making a demand of him that’s so outrageous that he’ll have to stand up to me.

He had removed his shirt and sat in the rocking chair on the porch examining the hole in its sleeve. “It’s okay; I brought along an emergency sewing kit. I think I can mend it so I can at least wear it up here.” He sighed. “Darn it Judy. You really need to learn to control yourself.”

Damn him! He sounds and looks like my grandma, rocking in that chair. Who cares about his stupid shirt? I don’t want to control myself. I want sex; maybe even rough sex. Damn him! If he doesn’t want to be the man, I'll show him. “I won, and I get to decide what we’re going to do for the first three days. You won’t need that stupid shirt.”

Pat looked up at me. “Sure I will. If we’re going to go hiking and rock climbing I’ll need every bit of clothing I brought. We packed light.”

“I’m going rock climbing, but you’re not.” He looked relieved. RELIEVED.

“Thank goodness. I’m not good with heights. Will you be okay by yourself?”

“I can handle it.”

“It’s a good thing I brought a lot of books,” he said.

Uh huh -- and they all have pastel covers. “You won’t have time for them. You’re going to be too busy being my maid.”

“Your maid? Oh, I get it. I’ll have to do all the cooking and cleaning. I can do that. Heck, I do most of it anyhow.” He got out of his chair and started to go into the house.

There’s no doubt he’s going in to find that freaking dust rag. “Being my maid isn’t going to be that easy.”

He stopped and turned toward me.

“You’re going to wear my shorts and blouse.” I don’t have a lot of women’s cabin clothing. I buy my outdoor wear at Cabela’s. The only girly things I have are a pair of shorts and a blouse that Pat helped me find at Macy’s. He had insisted that I get the frilliest things in the store. I hate them, but I packed them for the trip planning to wear them to get his engine revved.

“You’re kidding,” he said.

“No -- I’m not. You made a bet, and now you have to pay.” I’ll push him over the edge and force him to be the person he was born to be.

“What if someone sees me?” He had that deer-caught-in-the-headlights look.

“Don’t worry. We picked this cabin partially for the privacy it offers.”

“Okay, I guess you're right. If that’s what you want, I’ll do it — for you.”

No, that isn’t what I want. What I “want” is for you to get so angry your rage turns you into the Incredible Hulk of Steel-hard Love.

Five minutes later he had put on the pink sleeveless blouse and white shorts. They were actually too tight for me, but fit him quite nicely. He had spent a few minutes in front of a mirror in the bathroom obviously admiring how he looked before coming out to show me. He smiled and pranced across the room. “Is my man ever going to catch us some dinner?”

Yikes! I didn’t mean for him to become a sissy! I can’t wait to get out of the cabin.
I grabbed my pole -- not his, as I had lusted to a short while ago -- and went down to the dock.

Two hours later we had a tasty dinner of pan-fried northern pike cooked with fresh vegetables we had brought with us. Before Pat would let me come into the cabin he made me wash the fish smell off my hands -- twice.

Once we were done eating, he waved me away from the table to the overstuffed chair in the living room. He pulled off my boots and gave me a copy of an ancient National Geographic from the cabin’s dated library. Taking my face lightly between his two hands he brushed my lips with a kiss. He then eased off my socks and massaged my feet! He was trying much too hard to please me within the role I had demanded of him, so that everything he did made me want to up-chuck all that fried northern.

I sat with my lovingly tended-to feet resting on an ottoman, while Pat worked in the kitchen.

He hummed audibly as he worked.

I’m on vacation with Snow White! I can’t handle it. “Best two out of three,” I quickly offered.

“What was that Honey-bunch?”

“Let’s wrestle again. Winner-take-all. If you win, you can forget about spending the next few days as a maid and we’ll do whatever you want for the entire vacation. If I win, you’ll be my maid for the whole week.”

“That’s okay. It’s sweet of you to offer, but I can live with being a loser.”

Sure HE can, but I don’t get rid of Mary-freaking-Poppins, I’ll barf. “Do I have to call you a chicken, again?”

“Okay,” he said, “I can see that you really want to wrestle. At least let me change this time.”

“Yes, please do.” The quicker he’s out of my clothes the better.

Within five minutes we were out on the front lawn. Pat had put on his shirt and slacks. The sun had gone down behind the trees, but it would be another hour before it was totally dark. A light breeze moved the tops of the jack pines.

Pat put up a much better fight. Maybe I’ve misjudged him? Twice he actually threw me to the ground, but I was able to scramble to my feet before he could pin me. The smile on my face while we both huffed from exertion was genuine. I looked for an opportunity to take a dive and let him win. There’s hope for us, and I’m getting really turned on!

“Owww!” Pat sat down and rubbed his right ankle. “I twisted something tripping on a tree root. We’ll have to quit. I can’t go on.” His whiny “damsel-in-distress” voice had come back.

“There’s no ‘quit’ in wrestling,” I said. “If you quit, you forfeit.”

“Then I forfeit. You make such a big deal out of everything. I don’t mind being your maid. I’ll do it for the whole week; you won’t hear me complain.” He got up and walked to the cabin. Walked! -- with just the slightest trace of a limp.

What a wuss! I saw red -- and it wasn’t from the sunset. “It’s not going to be easy, Little Missy.”

“Little Missy?” Pat giggled. “Who are you, John Wayne?”

“Patrick Louis Johns, you lost, and I get to tell you what to do for the entire week.”

He nodded.

“You’re going to be my maid.”

He nodded again.

“You’re going to be my extremely feminine maid.”

He looked at me as if he had expected the worst and was ready to accept his punishment.

I stomped to the bedroom, opened my drawer, and removed a bra and panty that Pat had earlier carefully folded. “Don’t just stand there -- strip. You can put these on under your blouse and shorts.” There has to be a limit to the humble pie he’s willing to munch. At some point he’ll dig down and find his manhood. I’m lost somewhere between wanting to embarrass him and hoping he’ll tell me to go to hell.

“Ahhhhh. A joke’s a joke, but don’t get carried away. You don’t really expect me to wear these, do you?”

“Listen, Missy. You lost fair and square so don’t try to weasel out. If you had won, I’m sure you’d feel differently -- but we don’t have to worry about that now -- do we? Do as you’re told and change into my things. It’s too bad I didn’t pack any dresses.”

Much to my surprise. . .he laughed. “Whatever. If what you want is for me to be your girly maid, I’ll do it. I can take whatever you can dish out.” He removed his clothes, and then picked up the pair of panties and slipped them on.

I approached him holding the bra. Things are out of control. After he placed his arms through the straps, I hooked it in place, and then made slight adjustment to the straps. I “dished out” socks into the empty cups.

He then slipped on the shorts and the blouse. To complete his outfit he tried to slide into a pair of my summer sandals, but found them slightly too small. He went back to humming in the kitchen.

Everything is so not real. I sat in the living room and tried to read about the plight of the caribou -- not the coffee shops -- the reindeer-like animals. All I could really think about was how I was married to a guy who would let me. . . . Arrgh!

While he finished with the dishes, a three-minute job he managed to make last nearly an hour, he whipped up some brownies and brought me one on a plate with a glass of milk.

I sighed and looked at him with wonder.

“Would you rather have pretzels and a beer?”

Neither of us drinks beer; he’s just being silly. I hate silly men.

I had taken the time before dinner to ready a campfire by the lake. It had been my plan to snuggle by the flames with Pat. I wanted to look at the stars until something came up -- in his pants.

When we sat in on the Adirondack swing by the fire I finally lit, he again surprised me by crawling under my arm so that I was holding him. He had purchased an aloe mosquito spray that had a feminine aroma. It’s nice, but what’s so wrong with the smell of good ol’ Deep Woods Off.

The stars apparently had done their sexually stimulating thing, because Pat suggested that we go into bed.

My plan is to lie back and let him ravish me.

“You can wear my pajamas,” Pat said, once we were in the cabin bedroom. He tossed his flannel pajamas to me. “If I’m going to wear your nightie, you’ll need something. He grabbed my lemon baby dolls and went into the bathroom to brush his teeth. When he came out he was actually wearing it.

The eyes of the stuffed moose’s head hanging on the wall first blinked, and than closed in disgust.

I hadn’t moved. Not knowing what else to do, I changed into his pajamas and got under the covers with him. The sight of him in my nightie had thrown ice on my passion. I’m not sure, but he might’ve even put on more of that sweet mosquito spray.

He snuggled close to me, but I begged off with a headache. He didn’t argue and - much to my immense relief -- he didn’t whine.

The next morning he was out of bed before me.

A loon had been calling from the lake for the last thirty minutes. I was fully awake, but had kept my eyes closed. I can’t stand the idea of him wanting to make love dressed as a woman. It’s bad enough he’s making breakfast in my nightie!

He soon had coffee, toast, juice, and eggs on the table and appeared happy as that loon. “Judy, while you’re out on the lake, or wherever you’re going this morning, do you mind if I use some of your things?”

“Go ahead,” I mumbled. I staggered out the cabin door wondering just what I had done. When I came back ninety minutes later from a five-mile walk I found out.

Pat had used my make-up; he’d applied foundation, blush, and lipstick to his face. He wore the same female clothes I had forced him into the night before and hid his hair with my floppy hat, giving the impression he was all girl.

He doesn’t look half bad for a maid, but he looks just awful for a husband.

I had decided during my walk to tell him how repulsed I was seeing him in my nightie. I was going to tell him we would finish our vacation as man and woman. Me - Jane. Him - Tarzan. The vision in front of me ended all that. Why had he used my make-up? What the hell is wrong with him? What the hell is wrong with me? Any idiot could have married more of a man; I’d walk out but you don’t flush a six year marriage without making a full effort to save it. I decided to raise the stakes. “You look marvelous,” I lied. “Thanks for being such a good sport.” I struggled to maintain my composure.

“It’s nothing, really. I’m actually having a lark.”

That’s too obvious, but would it be so much fun if other people saw him? I got out my camera. “Let me take a few pictures, so you can see how good you look. I’ll delete them before we go home.” I took about a dozen pictures of him while he fluttered around the cabin with his detestable dust rag.

He posed in ways I’m sure he thought were sexy. Together, we laughed at the snapshots.

My knuckles were white holding the camera. I have to do something! “I had a lovely walk. Why don’t you take one, and then you can make lunch for us.”

“I can’t go for a walk looking like this.”

There’s hope. He’s aware he’s making a fool out of himself. “If you follow the trail toward Bald Point, no one will see you.” Nothing would have made me happier at that moment than if he would have suddenly decided our little game was sick.

“I suppose that’s right,” he said. “I would like to stretch my legs a little. It’s about a mile round-trip. That won’t be too far for me in your sandals, even though they’re a little small. What won’t we women do to look fashionable?” His teeth, made to look even whiter by my red lipstick, sparkled in a dazzling smile. “I should be back in twenty minutes or so.”

After he left I started thinking hard. Pat’s like that old black and white TV in my parent’s basement. It’s perfect except for one thing. Every once in a while the picture starts to roll. You have to tweak a little knob called the “horizontal hold”. All I have to do with Pat is a little tweaking and everything will be all right.

When he got back I was sitting on the front step with our packed bag.

He came off the trail beaming. “What a marvy day. I saw a cardinal and several blue birds. I wish you’d been with me. It’s so pretty up here. I had such a scrumptious walk.” He stopped short. “What’s with the suitcase?”

“I’ve decided what I really want to do for the rest of the week is to go back home.”

“Home? Why? You love it up here. This vacation was your idea.”

“Yes, and now I want to go home.”

He squinted at my face.

Gawd! He looks disgusting in my lipstick. I can never use it again without thinking of how he looks at this moment. I’ll have to throw it away.

“Fine,” he said, “you’re the boss. Just give me a minute to change my clothes, and I’ll be right with you.” He reached for the suitcase.

“There’s nothing in there for you,” I said.

“I can’t ride home like this. I’ll be your maid back home if you want, but I can’t go all the way from here to the Cities looking like this.” He laughed nervously.

He’s putting his precious little foot down, but not with any real authority.

He reached for the bag again.

“I burned all your male clothing.”

His head turned toward the beach where the fire was blazing; then back at me with his mouth hanging open.

I nodded.

“Are you out of your mind? I’ll wash this make-up off, and we’ll go to the first store we find. You’ll have to go in and get me something suitable to wear.”

“What you have on is ‘suitable’ for how I want you to look, and I forbid you to wash your face.”

“We’ll see about that.” He pushed by me into the cabin, throwing a question over his shoulder. “What’s with you?”

“Would you like to teach this fall?”

He froze and turned toward me.

“Do you remember what they did to that transgendered guy who was the librarian at Coon Rapids High?” Someone had sued the school district when they allowed the transgendered man to use the women’s staff bathroom. Things had gotten ugly.

“Give me that camera!” He moved toward me with fury in his eyes.

“Try and get it.” This is just what I want. He’s finally going to put me in my place. If all goes well I’ll be screaming in sexual delight in a few minutes. Come on, Pat. Make me behave. Spank me for being bad.

“If you show those pictures to the district, I could tell them about our game, and we might both get fired.”

“I don’t care. You know I’m not all that happy teaching. I’ve been thinking about going into business. You’ll wear those clothes until I tell you that you can change -- or face the consequences.” I shook the camera at him.

His hands were up and he looked menacing.

I had all I could do to keep from smiling at the success of my scheme, but he inexplicably stopped five feet away from me.

His face changed from a look of determination to one on the verge of tears. “You’re too smart,” he whined. “I’ll bet you already e-mailed those pictures to your AOL account.”

I smirked.

“Get real! Your threat is the lamest stunt you’ve ever tried to pull. The school board can’t fire me for what I do in private at a lake cabin. This is Minnesota; a man’s cabin is his castle, even if he’s acting like a queen.”

He’s right.

He shook his head. “Listen, if want me to be your effeminate maid, I’m there. You get what you want.”

Never before had he sounded so spineless. I hadn’t e-mailed the pictures anywhere and never would do such a thing, but his mind was made up. His shoulders sagged, and then he started for the Jeep. He got in the passenger side and sulked.

I finished shutting down the cabin, putting water on the fire, and made good on my promise to leave. Nothing was said during the entire drive home. He slumped down so no one could get a good look at him. He didn’t even read his dumb books.

At least he has the decency to be embarrassed, but what am I going to do? I had the entire trip home to think about it.

When we arrived at our house it was mid-afternoon on a weekday. I had decided to push on with my efforts. No one was around, so I had Pat empty the car in his blouse and shorts. Had someone seen him we both would have been mortified.

He glared at me, but meekly unpacked our bag, and then prepared dinner. He didn’t change out of his sissy outfit, and I didn’t offer him the opportunity. His make-up had faded, but he hadn’t tried to remove it.

By the end of our meal, I was exhausted both physically and emotionally — but I won’t give in. I went to the bathroom and poured a bubble bath, and then made a few preparations before going back to the living room. He had just finished in the kitchen, without humming, when I finally broke the silence. “Patti, you did very well for your first day.”

“Patti?” He whispered. He obviously could see what was coming.

“I’m really going to enjoy you being my maid,” I said. “Have eggs and toast ready for my breakfast at nine. I have some errands to run after I read the morning paper. You’ll start on the laundry and the ironing. I should be back by noon and then we can finalize our new arrangement. I think you should sleep in the guestroom tonight since you’ll need to get up early and I don’t want to be disturbed by my maid. I left some lingerie, clothes, and make-up for you in the guest bathroom. I expect you to be dressed properly and carefully made up for breakfast. I want you to take a bubble bath now and use the lotions I set out to soften your skin. You’re to use them daily. I put a nightie on your bed. Good night.”

If he wants to redeem himself, he’ll do something. He seems so pathetic. He’s so hopeless. Why didn’t I see that before?

There has to be a level of humiliation where he’ll stand up to me. Pat becoming what he needs to be is the only way out of this mess. I don’t want to crush his spirit by letting him off the hook. He’s too nice for that. I tossed and turned all night after he quietly finished his bath and went off to a separate bed. I was wishing he would tramp down the hall and forcefully convince me of his rightful place in our marriage. He didn’t. All night long I planned what to do in the morning to push him beyond his boiling point.

When I got up the next day I found him dressed in the clothing I had laid out. He was wearing another bra and panty set and a different blouse. Instead of pants, I had laid out a knee-length skirt which he was dutifully wearing. He had managed to apply some basic make-up to his face and had padded downstairs in his bare feet to prepare the breakfast I had ordered the previous night.

I reminded him to do his household chores and told him that I would be home in the early afternoon. I had a quick bite, and then rushed out the door. I half expected he would get out of those clothes and leave. Even though neither of us had any close family, he could find someplace where he could be a man.

Maybe we need some time apart.

Several hours later I returned. While I was gone, he had done a load of clothes and cleaned the kitchen. He seemed willing to go along with whatever I told him to do.

We’ll see about that.

“Don’t just stand there, Patti. Go out to the car and bring in the shopping bags. Bring them upstairs to your room.” It was broad daylight, but we were the only couple on our street that was home during the day.

He did as I said without question, making several surreptitious trips. When he was done I dumped the contents of the shopping bags on the bed.

His face turned red while he surveyed the feminine items and guessed my intent.

In a few more moments he’ll explode. “This bed is unmade, and I’ll bet mine is too. That will not happen again - will it?”

Still red-faced, he shook his head.

“I expect my maid to make the beds every day along with all her other chores. I expect her to clean the house, cook the meals, wash and iron our clothes, and whatever else needs to be done. And I expect her to look the part as well. As you can see, I bought you some things that will help you look much more professional. Undress and go shower. I want you to shave your body. Even though you’ve never been much of a hairy guy, I can’t stand even a bunch of wispy hair on my girly maid.”

“Don’t you think you’re getting carried away with this little game of yours? I’m still your husband, and I’m not really your maid.”

Finally, he’s frowning. We’re almost there, but I can’t make it too easy for him. “Don’t you dare try to get out of paying off your bet. Do as you’re told and go shower and shave. No maid I know walks around with hairy legs. There’s a pink nylon robe behind the door you can use.”

“Are you absolutely this is what you want me to do?” He asked.

I almost caved, but I had to stick with the plan. . .for the good of our marriage. I pointed toward his bathroom.

Twenty minutes later he returned with his legs and underarms completely hairless. I glanced at him and smiled smugly -- despite my disappointment. He looked femme; which was killing me inside. I have to continue the game until he turns on me.

I took him back into the bathroom and shaved those areas he couldn’t reach or had missed. “That looks so much better. Wait until you see how nice your legs look when you’re wearing your new pantyhose. I hope you really like your new things since you’ll be wearing them all summer.”

“All summer?”

“I spent a great deal of money, and I’m going to get full value for my dollar.”

He shrugged. “That’s okay. Keep on dishing it out.”

Oh, I will! “Here, slip on these panties and then take off your robe.” I had decided to force him to act modestly, which I hoped would make him furious.

Once the panties were in place, I held up a matching, black-lace bra for him to wear. I placed breast forms in its cups. I then handed him a pair of sheer, off-black pantyhose. “Now be careful with those. They’ll run easily. Sit down on the bed and roll up one of the legs. Then gently place your toes in it. That’s right, pull it up a ways. Okay, stop right there, and then do the other leg. Now stand up, and pull up each side over your thigh until they’re up to your waist. Not bad for your first time, Patti. Not bad at all. And I was right. Your legs do look great.”

I handed him a pair of black pumps with two-inch heels. They were one of several pairs of shoes in his size I had purchased.

I seethed. The shopping trip had left me feeling nauseous. Even though the salespeople probably thought I was buying everything for me, I knew I wasn’t. The woman at the store where I purchased the breastforms acted condescending. Every darling little thing on his bed is for my husband!

He stood complacently dressed in women’s underwear.

I can’t dwell on the situation. I quickly had him in a short, black, satin skirt, a white blouse, and a white apron. On my insistence he stepped into the pumps completing his maid’s uniform. I corrected the flaws in his make-up, berating him for his sloppiness, while instructing how he should have done his face. I placed a shoulder-length wig on his head and brushed it out, and then I stood back and looked him over. My heart broke. I’m married to a woman. I have to find his breaking point. “Voila, the maid has arrived. I honestly don’t think anyone would know that you’re not a real woman. Maybe you are? It will be so nice having you take care of everything in the house and all the time looking so sweet and feminine. Who could ask for more?” I could. That’s for sure.

“Why are you doing this to me?”

“Because you were having so much fun at the lake. I’m just helping you have more fun.”

“This is crazy. It’s not right.”

Finally he’s showing signs of rebelling. “Are you denying you were having fun waiting on me at the cabin?”

“I love waiting on you, but not like this.” He bit his lip. “What’s wrong?” He asked softly.

“What’s wrong is - you don’t know how to pay off a bet. Now get to work. I don’t want to hear another word.”

“Yes, Mrs. Johns.”

“What did you say?” I asked incredulously.

“I said ‘Yes, Mrs. Johns’.” He made a clumsy attempt to curtsy. “Is there other way you wish me to address you, Mrs. Johns?”

I shook my head. “Fine, if that’s how it’s going to be. . .fine.”

“Very good, Mrs. John’s.”

Much to my chagrin he started his job as my maid immediately by putting away his new clothes.

The next few weeks went by miserably. I steadfastly pushed him toward life as a woman while he quietly and passively acquiesced. Several times he asked mild questions wondering if I was sure I wanted him to do what I was asking. I kept the pressure on him, waiting patiently for him to be the person I knew he could be.

Patti worked diligently from dawn to dusk. He prepared every meal and brought me breakfast in bed. Lunch was served to me on a tray with a flower on the patio. I wasn’t sure whether or not our neighbors could tell Patti was Pat. There would be shame all around if they did. My dinners were eaten in the dining room, by candlelight.

I suppose he thinks that makes it romantic — it doesn’t. Nothing is romantic when you eat alone.

There was very little conversation between us. I told him what to do and he asked me questions about how things were to be done. I criticized his appearance and he worked conscientiously to look more feminine. He never complained.

Pat was like that. He would retreat into himself when he had a problem to solve. He wasn’t surly; more like a subordinate who was into his role as maid. Patti ate only after he had served me and cleaned away the dishes. In between meal preparation, he was busy with the other housework: dusting, vacuuming, cleaning the bathrooms and kitchen, making the beds, and doing the laundry. After weeks of working in heels and skirts his movements had become so feminine I was beginning to think there might be no turning back.

His attitude sickened me. Instead of being openly repulsed by what I was putting him through, he seemingly thrived on it. Every day his smile grew broader.

Our house has never been so spotless.

He searched for ways to improve on our orderliness, such as repapering every shelf and waxing our floors every week. He cleaned all the windows, inside and out, teetering up and down our ladder in heels. When all of that wasn’t enough, he took up needlework.

By looking at me you would have thought I was enjoying my days to the maximum. I lounged by the pool or went out with my girlfriends. In between all his chores, I tried to enrage him by forcing him to learn feminine posture, make-up techniques, and other tricks of the female trade, including hair care -- his own hair was just long enough to style,.

Whenever my anger at him for not rebelling became too much, I would threaten to have my friends over so they could see how domesticated and feminine he had become. I fervently prayed he would suddenly prove my fears to be wrong. I never lost sight of my goal of making him into a man, but it seemed like I was pushing him in exactly the wrong direction. I didn’t want to believe what I was seeing.

Pat’s actually becoming Patti.

He never seemed too flustered. He constantly hummed a happy tune. Some days he even sang Broadway show tunes in a perfect alto voice while he pushed around his vacuum.

I forced him to grow out his nails, and then taught him to paint them a vivid red. Instead of being upset, he found joy in keeping them perfectly manicured. When I suggested that his shape would be more natural if he wore padding around his hips and glued the breastforms to his chest, he cheerfully complied.

He continued to try new, wonderful recipes. Everything he made was tasty. Some of the dishes were things I knew he hated, like liver. He made them for me and served them with the table set as attractively as possible. Everything he was doing was done for me.

How can I not love him, if only for his positive attitude? It isn’t entirely his fault we’re going down this twisted path.

Late one morning, I asked him to pick out one of my dresses to wear. In addition, he was to choose the appropriate shoes and hosiery to go with the dress. He selected one of my most feminine sundresses to go with his beige pumps. Of course, his make-up was applied perfectly.

After he was fully dressed, I commented on how nice he looked.

He walked over to the full-length mirror and studied himself. “I do look pretty good, Mrs. Johns. I’m so glad you helped me lose a few pounds. And, this dress is so flattering. Thank you so much, Mrs. Johns.”

Okay buster, try this on for size and see if it’s still ‘flattering’. “Patti, you’ll do very well on your first day out in public.”

“Public? What do you mean?” He spun from the mirror to face me.

For once he dropped that accursed ‘Mrs. Johns’. “You’re going shopping with me. It’s about time we got you out of the house so you can handle a few more chores, like grocery shopping and taking things to the cleaners. I would rather you had more of your own things so you don’t have to wear mine. We’re going to the mall.”

“I can’t go there dressed like this, Mrs. Johns,” he said indignantly.

I pretended to be shocked. “For heaven’s sake, why not? You look lovely. And, please for today, let’s address each other by our first names.” He’s going to refuse. I’ll escalate his refusal into a fight, and we’ll be back to sanity in no time.

“Very good, Mrs. . .er. . .Judy. But my present attire is way too formal for the mall,” he explained. “Do you want me to be the only one there in a dress?”

I choked the first time I tried to talk. Finally, I was able to string together a sentence. “I’ve worn that dress to the mall.”

“You have?”

He’s actually criticizing my fashion sense. “I wear that dress to school and have stopped at the mall on my way home. No one has ever acted as if I was over-dressed.”

“I guess I’ve got a lot to learn.”

Omigawd! He didn’t even blink at the idea of going to the mall dressed as a woman. I’ve never seen him so confident. I had expected him to shrink into a ball, and then blow up at me.

“I had been wondering if you were going to make me spend all summer under house arrest.” He grinned.

My mind went numb. I handed him a purse, and then found myself in the car driving toward one of the local malls.

Patti chirped like a little bird who was pleased to be out of her cage.

Fifteen minutes later I parked the car and we strolled toward the entrance. I searched his face for signs of fear.

Rather than cringing and begging me to take him home, he seemed to become more animated with each step.

He has to be playing me. Deep down he must be humiliated. I’ll catch him at his little game. He can’t be ready for everything I’ll throw at him. In the first store I selected three dresses, two skirts, and a several tops for him. “Let’s see how these look on you.”

“And where am I going to try them on?” He asked.

“Where else? In the ladies’ dressing room, of course.”

He touched my arm and giggled. “I know that - you silly, but where is it?”

I waved my hand in the general direction of the changing rooms.

He stared at me for a few seconds. “Judy, are you feeling okay. You look pale.”

I assured him I was fine.

He twirled around and disappeared into the dressing room.

I feel like an idiot. He isn’t trying to make me mad; he’s merely being himself. It’s like blaming the rain for being wet. When he came back I gave him a big smile, “That dress was made for you.” It was. He looked sweet in it.

“Do you think so? It doesn’t make me look too heavy, does it?”

He’s serious. I gave in to Patti’s good mood and laughed. “Honey, if that’s what ‘heavy’ looks like, I’m changing my diet to gain fifteen pounds.”

After agreeing on two dresses we bought them, and then stopped at other stores for additional lingerie, accessories, and a few pairs of high heels. He amazed me with his ability to decide what would look good on him -- and me. I gave in to his taste and bought a top he said looked “. . .divine!”

Finally, we were done. Since it was getting late, I suggested we stop for a salad in one of the trendy places in the mall.

He was more than ready to eat in a restaurant.

I felt a pang of guilt for having made him cook all our meals at home.

After dinner, we paid our bill and were heading towards the ladies’ room when we heard someone calling to me.

I turned toward the voice and immediately recognized the face. “Brandon is that you?” Brandon Rizzo had taken me to our senior prom. We had been selected most likely to have the first baby in our annual. Unfortunately, we had drifted apart after we went to separate colleges.

“I didn’t think you would recognize me, it’s been ten years.”

His voice had been made for radio; so masculine.

“What a surprise seeing you. You look great. You haven’t changed at all.”

“You haven’t changed much either.” His cobalt black hair had gotten curlier, but his eyes were as blue as they were when I had my nearly monthly sexual fantasies about him.

“Judy, this is a friend of mine from work, Mike Harris.”

The gorgeous hunk with the bushy eyebrows and salt and pepper hair standing next to him smiled.

“Mike, this is a high school classmate of mine, Judy Platt.”

I accepted Mike’s hand. “Nice to meet you, but my last name is now Johns,” Oh gosh! Pat! What do I say? Poor Pat. I didn’t want to do this to him. “Uhmmm. This is my cousin, Patti.”

Pat looked at me with mild surprise, and then extended his hand daintily to Mike -- along with a warm smile. He jumped right in with small talk. We paired off and I chatted with Brandon while Pat carried on with Mike.

I hadn’t realized how feminine Patti’s voice sounds. Neither Mike nor Brandon seems to notice anything out of the ordinary.

Brandon asked if we had time to join them for a drink.

I looked to Pat and he shook his head. I had been watching him out of the corner of my eye. He doesn’t seem too uncomfortable. “Sure,” I said, “we would love to. Give us a minute to freshen up.”

As soon as we reached the ladies’ room, Pat asked me if I was crazy. “I can’t go back there and have a drink with those men.”

“Sure you can,” I calmly stated. “You seem to be doing just fine flirting with Mike”

Pat blushed.

Maybe being treated like a woman by men will wake him up. “Tend to your face. We don’t want to keep them waiting.”

Patti pulled his lipstick out of his purse and looked in the mirror. He stopped and closed his eyes. For a second I thought he might faint. When he looked in the mirror his eyes found mine. “I can do this,” he said. His face softened. The lines on his forehead relaxed. He shrugged his shoulders in resignation and puckered his lips.

When will he ever say “no”?

“What do we really know about Mike? I mean, he’s cute and everything, but you at least know Brandon from high school.”

Cute? “Brandon said he’s been best friends with Mike for nearly eight years. Evidently they own some real estate together. Mike said he’d trust him with his life.”

Patti nodded.

A few moments later all four of us were sitting in a booth sipping our drinks. I sat with Brandon. We had so much catching up to do -- recalling the good times we had enjoyed together.

Brandon has always been incredibly handsome. Several times during our conversation I found reasons to touch his arms. I can’t get over how solidly he’s built. We were good together in the backseat of his father’s car. I pressed my knees together. We could be really good as adults in a real bed.

Patti remained cheerful and mimicked my actions, touching Mike from time to time. She stopped short of sputtering when I told Brandon that I was currently separated from my husband.

“Actually,” I explained, “since the separation, Patti and I are rooming together. Patti is such a big help around the house with the cooking and cleaning. She’s just so domestic. We have such fun shopping and hanging out.”

Patti smiled. “It’s almost like shopping for a dress is a new experience when I do it with Judy.”

We actually are having fun as girl friends. “But the best part of it is that we can share our clothes, since we’re the same size. I could never borrow a blouse or a pair of pantyhose from my husband.”

Brandon laughed. “He wouldn’t be much of a husband if he was wearing women’s clothing.”

I didn’t want to laugh, or even look at Pat. I don’t want to embarrass him.

“I couldn’t possibly imagine anyone as manly as you in a dress.” Pat was actually making eyes at Mike. She teasingly poked him in the ribs with her finger, and then touched his hair pushing an errant lock into place.

I didn’t teach her that! Is she having a private laugh at my expense?

She giggled at her own joke about Mike in a dress.

I had no choice but to laugh along with her. “Oh Patti, you’re too much. That would be hilarious -- seeing someone like my Brandon — dressed like you, would be too much. . .especially with those hairy legs of his.”

I hadn’t meant to say “my Brandon.” Or, had I?

Brandon’s interest seemed immediately heightened. We had another round of drinks. Patti and I stayed with wine. Brandon and Mike wouldn’t let us go until we agreed to have dinner with them the next evening.

As soon as Patti and I were walking in the parking lot, she turned to me. “I don’t believe you! You told Mike you’re separated from your husband and then agreed that we’ll have dinner with them tomorrow night. Have you forgotten that you’re my wife?”

Maybe I’ve finally gotten to him. “Shush! Someone will hear you. You’re not my husband anymore. You’re my maid. It wasn’t my intent to embarrass you by introducing you that way, but if you insist we can certainly march right back in there and call the whole thing off.” With that, I turned and started back toward the entrance.

“No. Please no,” she called after me. “We can’t get out of the date without telling them the real reason. I just spent an hour with them being as feminine as I possibly could. In a way it was fun.” She paused for a moment. “I’d like to try. . .to have the experience being on a date as a woman; just for the fun of it.” His feminine voice blended nicely with his natural whine. Surprisingly there was nothing irritating about it.

His suggestion had jarred me, but I wanted to see Brandon one more time. Where’s the harm in that? “They really do think you’re my beautiful cousin.” I’m sure Pat will come to his senses later in the evening. Going out with another man is just too much even for him. There’ll be no problem canceling the dates. I’ll call Brandon and tell him Pat and I have resolved our differences, which will be true once Pat shows some determination. In a way I hoped Pat wouldn’t. I wanted to see more of Brandon. I wanted to feel his arms around me.

“Judy,” Patti sang out to me from my bedroom, once we were home. “Would it be okay if I borrowed some of your perfume?” When I got to my room Patti was looking through my collection of scents -- holding them up to her nose.

“Why would you want to do that?”

“If I’m going to do this,” she said, “I want to do it right. Don’t you always wear perfume when you go out to dinner?”

“Uh huh.” I could barely whisper. Pat was almost gone. I had one last shot at keeping my marriage. He couldn’t possibly actually kiss another man. I would dress Pat to excite, and then put him in a position where Mike would attempt to kiss him. That would put an end to Patti’s masquerade. In three weeks, we had to teach school. Mr. and Mrs. Johns would be going back to their classes — and rightful genders. “You know Patti. You’re right. We’ll do this right. Tomorrow we’ll spend the morning shopping for dresses and the afternoon will be devoted entirely to getting ready.”

“That sounds great,” Patti said, as she trotted off to her bedroom.

I spent another sleepless night thinking about how to set Pat up for a rude awakening.

Whenever Brandon came into my thoughts I couldn’t help but squirm. I almost went down the hall to seek some sexual release, but resisted when I thought of the new nightie Patti had brought home that afternoon.

The next day I was anxious with anticipation. Although I had been with Brandon the previous day, it had been a casual, chance meeting. Tonight will be a lot different. Tonight will be a dinner date with my old lover.

Patti was a fashion maven shopping for our dresses. Both of the choices we eventually made were actually hers. Both dresses were in neutral, summery colors with spaghetti straps. With our new, three-inch pumps, we would each look like the picture of femininity. Patti ironed our new clothes while I took my bath and begin getting ready for our big night.

While she was soaking, I worried about what I was getting into. I had readily agreed to Patti’s choices, but my dress was several inches shorter than what I had ever worn. I wanted to entice Mike to make advances on Patti, but my dress would also be drawing Brandon to me. Will I be able to say “no”? Will I want to?

Several times during the day I had brought up Brandon. Although Patti was willing and eager to talk about him, she never mentioned Mike. It was obvious she didn’t think of Mike as a date. That’s a comforting thought.

“Judy,” Patti called out. I went into the bathroom and sat on the edge of her tub. “My dress is so short and revealing. I really don’t think I can go through with this.” Her forehead was etched in deep thought. “I just can’t go out on a date with Mike wearing that outfit. I’ll never be able to act womanly all night.” Practically in tears she begged me one last time. “Please, just let me stay home tonight. Please! I’ll try even harder to be the best maid you ever saw.”

I’ll let her off the hook, but only if she insists. Begging isn’t good enough. “Patti, you know I can’t do that. You’ll look stunning, and so will I. Both guys will be here and they’re expecting two girls, not one. If you don’t go, it will ruin everything. Some days around the house I even forget that you weren’t born a woman. Mike’s going to think you’re sexy enough to eat.”

Patti’s lips parted in a small gasp. She evidently hadn’t thought of herself in that way.

“You have nothing to worry about. I have to start getting ready and I suggest you do the same. We don’t have any more time to waste on your nonsense.”

She nodded and climbed out of the scented bath. Water ran down her chest over her faux breasts down to her shriveled manhood. “Yes, Judy. You’re right. I’ll quit being silly -- for you.”

I turned so that he wouldn’t see my face. A small tear rolled down my cheek. He’s so darned nice. I have to push him toward the threat of a kiss — that’ll change him back into being my Prince Charming.

Patti sat down at her dressing table and applied make-up. She took extra pains with her hair, making sure every strand was perfectly situated before spraying it lightly to hold it in place. We had purchased naughty, thong panties and matching bras for the occasion. Patti and I had giggled; daring each other to buy them. But. . .that was before Patti realized what she was getting into. We each opened a new pair of sheer tan pantyhose and slipped them up our smooth legs. Standing there in her lingerie, with short but quite feminine hair carefully brushed and make-up done, she looked like any other women dressing for a night out on the town.

She gingerly stepped into her dress, pulled it up, and zipped up the back as if she had been doing that all her life. Slipping on her pumps she stood back to look at her image in the mirror: demure, soft, and womanly. She sprayed a mist of perfume in the air and moved into it.

Where had she learned that? Although the image is feminine she still has to deal with his inner, masculine feelings. He is what he is. His legs might be sheathed in nylons, his feet encased in high heels, and his body wrapped in a pretty summer dress, but inside he’s still a man. He’ll have to keep all those male traits hidden unless he wants his secret exposed.

He gave himself one final glance in the mirror -- checking his hair and make-up. Grabbing his purse, he went downstairs.

I followed, watching her natural grace. “Wow, you look really sexy in that dress. It fits you perfectly. I see you did your nails, too. You even gave yourself a pedicure. You look very nice, very sweet and feminine. Perfect.”

She looked at me. I expected her to say something in a feminine gush. Instead his lip quivered. “You’re beautiful, Judy. You’re as pretty as the day we were married.” His eyes were misting. He reached to hug me but I backed away.

“We’ll wrinkle our dresses.” The truth was I was as overcome as Patti. “Thank you, though,” I whispered and air-kissed her with an arms-length hug.

Our conversation was cut short by the doorbell. I felt a twinge in my stomach as Patti, ever the maid, went to answer the door and greeted our two male companions. “Hi guys. You’re right on time.” She called out to me. “Mike’s here. . .and Brandon.”

She seemed more eager than I felt -- until I saw Brandon. He and Mike looked wonderful in their suits and ties. They both had brought flowers. Mine were daisies. Brandon had remembered. All of a sudden I was as nervous as Patti should have been.

She looked perfectly composed, chattering with Mike as she arranged each of our bouquets in a cut-glass vase. Her polished nails flashed as her delicate hands caressed the flowers. She seemed unable to touch or sniff them enough.

Brandon and I talked in the front seat about our high school days. He had retained his boyish charm and sweetness. His grin lines and dimples had grown deeper and even sexier than I remembered. Mike and Patti seemed lost in a conversation about stamps. What are the odds of two philatelists finding one another? Once we arrived and parked, Mike took Patti’s hand and helped her extract herself from the confines of the backseat.

The demure smile she gave him was absolutely amazing.

When had she been practicing?

Dinner turned out wonderful. Brandon and Mike had a million really funny stories about their work and their softball. They evidently played sports year round. In addition to softball -- Mike had been a baseball player and actually had tried out for the Cincinnati Reds -- they played lacrosse and basketball on organized teams. When they weren’t playing sports they apparently were camping, fishing, and hunting.

Patti managed to keep up her end of the conversation by asking sweet, naive questions.

She really doesn’t know anything about sports and other male activities.

After dinner we went into the lounge. I asked Patti to go to the ladies’ room with me.

She grabbed her purse and joined me without any hesitation. It was time for me to play my ace. As soon as we were in the ladies’ room I glared at Patti. “Are you purposely trying to wreck my evening?”

“No.” Patti looked at me in amazement. “Why are you saying that?”

“Why? I’m so worried about you two that I’m ignoring Brandon. I told you that I wanted to have fun tonight and you’re ruining it. You need to try to be more attractive. You said you wanted to see what a date was like with a man. So far you haven’t given it much of a chance. I want you dancing with him, and just to make sure you feel like a woman — I want you kissing him. That’s the only way you’ll ever really know.”

“Are you sure?” Patti had a quizzical look on her face. She reached to touch my arm, but I pulled it away.

Pat’s going to have to tough this one out on his own. “Of course, I’m sure.” I couldn’t look her in the eyes. Instead I took out my make-up and touched up my face. I hoped against hope that this would be the end of it. I was attracted to Brandon, but I was in love with Pat.

“Fine,” Patti said. She joined me at the mirror and smiled at me as she lined her lips. There was that soft face again. Her dangly earrings sparkled. I had pierced her ears for her weeks ago.

Tonight’s the first time she’s worn anything but drainage studs.

“Brandon likes you a lot.” She smiled at me. “It’s okay. I understand. I’ll do my thing and you do yours.” She winked at me and snapped her purse shut.

“Maybe you should freshen your scent?” I almost started crying as I looked at my husband taking on a part of his life that wouldn’t involve me. Had it been inevitable that we would come to this moment?

“Do you think?” She opened her purse again and gave herself a light spray. “Okay. You can count on me.”

As Patti walked away from me toward Mike, I watched the sway of her dress and heard the clicking of her heels. Mike doesn’t stand a chance. I smiled at Brandon as I slid in next to him at the table. My conversation became more animated than before as I was suddenly in competition with Patti to see who could get the most spellbound attention from her man.

The lounge’s small band played a slow song. Patti told Mike it was one of her favorites.

He took the cue and asked her to dance.

Patti waited until he pulled her chair out before rising.

He held her hand as they made their way to the dance floor.

Patti’s never danced as a woman before.

Her hand met his and he slipped his other hand around her waist. She first placed her other hand on his shoulder, but then worked it around so she could play with the small curls on the back of Mike’s head.

Pat always was a fantastic dancer.

I watched as she closed her eyes and followed his lead. Surprisingly, she looked totally relaxed; so relaxed that she rested her head on his shoulder as they swayed in time to the soft music. When the song ended, Patti whispered something in Mike’s ear. She then gazed into his eyes.

Deep down inside I said “goodbye”.

He gently kissed her. Her foot came off the ground as she leaned forward to return the kiss.

I looked away.

At that moment, Brandon spoke. “They look pretty good together.”

I nodded, somewhat disoriented.

“We were once pretty good together.”

I looked in his eyes. Did he mean pretty good dance partners? Pretty good in a relationship? Or, pretty good lovers?

“Do you want to dance, Judy? I love just having the chance to say your name again -- Judy. I’ve missed you -- Judy.”

I melted.

I found myself floating in his arms on the dance floor. Every so often I caught Patti’s eye, or she caught mine. We gave each other nods of encouragement, while she laughed and hung on Mike with obvious delight. I forgot about Patti and savored the warmth and strength of Brandon’s body. We kissed. All the passion of our teenage romance came back. I could feel that he had grown over the years.

As we made our way back to the table, I wondered if Patti and I had made the right choices during our summer. Each decision had distanced me from Pat. Perhaps it would have been better if I had left things well enough alone. Pat and I had carved out a good life. Looking at Patti, leaning into Mike’s embrace, I held on to a glimmer of a hope that we could have something even better in the future.

On the way home Patti couldn’t stop giggling. Mike was funny telling one joke after another.

Brandon kept looking at me out of the corner of his eyes as he drove. “I hate to take my eyes off you.”

I slid closer to him and caressed his leg. He has grown.

After we parked in front of our house, Mike and Patti got out and walked to the front door.

Brandon put his arm around me. “Let’s stay in the car a moment so they can have some privacy.”

Basked in a full moon, I watched Patti and Mike over Brandon’s shoulder as he hugged me. They were locked in a passionate kiss.

Brandon’s lips found mine, and I closed my eyes.

There was so much for Patti and I to say to each other after or dates left, but we each were lost in our own thoughts. The conversation we needed to have seemed superfluous.

“You don’t have to be the maid anymore,” I said. “If you want to sleep with me -- you can.”

“That would be nice,” she said. “I get lonely sometimes.”

“So do I.”

Patti went to her room and changed into a nightie. I did the same. Sex was out of the question. Patti and I were like two girlfriends having a sleepover, except talking about our dates also was out of the question.

Patti went to sleep first. She looked beautiful even with night crá¨me on her face.

Sleep was difficult for me. I had a lot to mull over: my dating adventure, my kisses, AND Patti’s new experiences. I awoke the next morning to the smell of fresh coffee. Patti's up.

“I thought I told you your days as a maid were over?”

“I know, but I love doing things for you.”

“We need to talk.”

“I know.” She stared into her cup of coffee, circling the rim with her finger.

“Do you want to teach this fall?” I asked.

“Not really.” Her answer came as no surprise. She sighed. Parts of her future were evident and parts were murky.

What have we done? We’ve stayed away from our friends all summer. What will they say when they finally meet Patti?

“I like being a housewife. Too bad there isn’t more money in teaching. You could teach and I could run the house for us.”

She’s serious, but how will the neighborhood treat her, when they find out? “I don’t know how to say this. . . .”

“I know. You’re interested in Brandon.” Her face turned red and she looked away. When she looked back toward me, tears ran from both her eyes.

I was crying too.

Nothing more was said that morning of any importance. We pitched in together to clean the house. Each of us alone with our need to think things through. After a small lunch we went for a long walk in the Loring Park area. Two women walking, holding hands, and loving each other was a common sight in Loring Park.

“I want you to see more of Brandon,” Patti said. She spoke so softly I could barely hear her.

“No,” I said. “I love you.”

“I love you, too. But, I realize now who you are, who I am, and who we are together.”

We hugged as the tears flowed. Tears can be healing.

Patti kissed me on the cheek. “I will always love you,” she said. “I want you to have it all.”

“You too, Patti.” We continued to cry.

The following Monday we both resigned our jobs. We had about one hundred thousand dollars from my inheritance and what we had saved. We were comfortable, but couldn’t wait too long before finding new careers. I searched the want ads for entry level positions in business.

Patti was much less decisive. “It’s not that I don’t want a job. It’s just that I love working around the house so much. I know it has to come to an end soon, but I have no idea what I want to do for employment.”

Brandon called two days after our dinner date. Our romance picked up where we had left off years ago. Mike had been sent to Japan to engineer a project but called Patti several times telling her he couldn’t wait to see her when he got back to town.

The fifth time Brandon and I were together, in just a week, he put me in a tough position. We were at my favorite restaurant; a place where Patti and I had gone on special occasions. Patti had suggested to me that Brandon and I go there.

“Patti and Mike seem to like each other a lot,” I said.

“Mike’s a great guy. Has he told Patti about his first wife?”

“No,” I said with surprise.

“I never met her. They were only married a year when she died suddenly from cancer.”

“Oh,” I said softly. “I suppose it’s better to have loved and lost and all that, but doesn’t it make you want to cry when you hear about something like that.”

“Uh huh. Love is so rare that when it actually happens it’s very sad when it prematurely ends.”

I squeezed his hand and hoped that wouldn’t happen with him and me.

“What are we doing?” Brandon asked.

“We’re having a delightful meal,” I answered, “after which I’ll have to go home and run five miles to pay for my gluttony.”

He didn’t laugh, instead he pushed on the end of his fork lifting the handle off the table.

I silently waited for him to speak.

“I don’t think I can go on like this.”

I knew he would want to bring sex into our relationship and was curious to see how he would broach the subject.

“I want to be with you.”

I knew it. I touched his hand, wishing we were in less public surroundings so I could rip off his clothes. I was also more than ready to move beyond our kisses.

“What does ‘separated’ mean?”

“It means I’m not quite divorced.”

“I’m not the kind of guy who can have sex with another man’s wife.”

Well, that was blunt, I thought.

Brandon peered into my eyes.

I gazed back at him, wishing and praying that he had more answers than I did.

“As long as you’re still in a relationship with another man it won’t work between us.”

“Another man. . .?”

“Pat.”

“Pat’s not another man,” I said. I wrestled with my obligation to protect Patti’s privacy. In my mind I called out to her, asking her what I should do.

Before Brandon had picked me up, Patti had helped me get dressed. She glowed. Mike had sent her more flowers. Our house looked like a florist shop; each card was more loving than the last. Mike would be back from Japan in two weeks. Patti made no effort to hide how she felt about Mike. She encouraged me to explore my relationship with Brandon. She had told me that she would always wear her wedding ring, but no longer considered us a couple.

“Pat’s not at all opposed to a divorce. We just haven’t gotten it done.”

“Why? If you no longer love each other, why haven’t you filed. It’s a simple procedure. Is there some conflict over a property settlement? You don’t have to worry about that. I’m fairly wealthy.”

“No, it’s not about money.” Omigosh, I still love Patti. How can I ever explain that to Brandon? Patti and I aren’t man and wife, but I still love her. Patti wants me to move on. I want to move on. But, I still love Patti. “I still love Pat.”

“I was afraid of that,” Brandon said. “I just can’t be around you, if I can’t love you completely.” His face contorted with pain; he looked ready to leave.

“You can be with me -- you can, Brandon. Pat has told me that I’m free to love you.”

Brandon’s face was covered with doubt. “Is he a Mormon? I can’t be a part of something like that.”

“I love Patti,” I said, feeling guilty.

“Pat . . . and Patti? I never would have guessed that of you. Wow! I could tell there was something between you and Patti; something beyond mere friendship.” There was no disgust in Brandon’s facial expressions.

Given what hippies his mom and dad had been I wouldn’t expect him to be too conservative. He evidently isn’t put off by an alternative lifestyle. “Oh, for heaven’s sake, Brandon -- Pat is Patti. Patti is Pat.”

Brandon had heard me but made no immediate reaction. He drew in a long breath and placed one thumb against another, drumming his fingers together with his eyes closed and his chin on his chest. After what felt like an eternity he opened his eyes and reached across the table for my hand. “Would it be presumptuous of me to think that Pat being Patti is good news for me.”

“Not presumptuous at all.”

He smiled. “Then I only have one more question. You’re not sizing me up for a life in skirts, are you?”

I laughed.

He laughed.

I gave consideration to forgetting about decorum and to proceeding with the clothes ripping — right in the middle of the restaurant.

Brandon suggested it was a nice afternoon for me to see his apartment, saving us from indecent exposure.

After we consummated our love, I told him the whole story of how Patti found herself.

***

Two weeks later I received a call from my sister Anne. She and her husband Harold Connor lived in a very exclusive section of Connecticut. Harold owned a large consulting company and could be annoying and snobbish. After talking to Anne I got off the phone and found Patti tanning in our backyard.

“Anne told me Maria quit. It couldn’t have happened at a worse time. Harold has a big party scheduled at their house for some of his key clients and they really need her.” Maria had been their maid for years. She was more like a sister to Anne. They were about the same age and both were fitness nuts.

“They’ll never find good help in time,” Patti said. “If it wasn’t for Anne, I would be laughing my head off.” Patti didn’t care for Harold. Harold had been an athlete at Yale, playing football and tennis. He did his best to make Pat feel small and insignificant.

“I was thinking it would be nice if we could help them out. You could be Maria’s replacement until she returns. Of course, you would be their butler.”

“I’ve always loved your sister. She’s a wonderful, kind person. I don’t know how she puts up with him.”

“He’s not so bad. Put yourself in his place. He owns that big company. There aren’t even any shareholders to question him. He’s like a god to over four hundred employees.”

“He’s a tin god. I can’t imagine working for him.”

I smiled. “I can. He’s offered me a job.”

“Really, does he want you to work in his house? He’s too much. You have a college degree and he wants you to be his servants.” Patti stretched and reached for more lotion.

You don’t mind being a maid and you have a college degree. I untied the strings of her bikini and did her back. She’s wearing a new perfume. Patti has her own style and flair. She’s softer than me — and more provocative. She loves the scents she buys at Victoria’s Secret.

“Actually it’s my dream job,” I said. “He wants me to establish a workplace gym for his employees. His health insurance costs are going through the roof and so are his workers compensation premiums. He thinks he can make money by helping his people become more fit.”

“Is he serious, or is he just messing with you?”

“Anne would kill him if he treated me badly.” It always amazed me that two such dominant people could get along in a marriage.

“You have to take the job,” Patti said, and then asked softly. “What will Brandon say?”

I hate to talk about Brandon in front of Patti. Mike’s quit calling. There haven’t been any floral deliveries for her for about two weeks. She knows he’s back from his trip and is miserable trying to figure out what’s gone wrong.

Brandon had insisted that we take Patti along to dinner twice. He kept hinting that she should find another man. He never let on that he knew Patti’s secret.

I haven’t told Patti that Brandon knows. Hopefully, he and I will take that secret to our graves. “Brandon told me a few weeks ago that the only thing holding him in Minneapolis is me. He said he wished he could live on the East coast. He says he’ll be nothing in the business world until he conquers New York.”

“Then you should call your sister back and tell her we’ll come right away. We’ll find a realtor and sell our house.”

I want the job, but what about Mike and Patti? What chance will they have if she moves halfway across the country from him? Does Patti really want to be a butler for even the few weeks needed to help Anne? “Are you sure?” Patti nodded several times. “I’ll call Anne and tell her I want the job, but I’ll tell her you’re not going to do the butler thing. She’ll have to find another solution.”

“No. . . please. . .tell her I’ll do it.”

“You would go back to being a man for Anne?”

“No -- but I will be her maid. I’ve never enjoyed anything as much as taking care of our house. Let’s give it a try.”

“Isn’t that a pretty big step?”

“Not half as big as the step I took yesterday. I met with a psychologist and a doctor. They’ve started me on hormones. I’m committed to a program that will culminate with me having sex re-assignment surgery in a year.”

I knew she would do it and it couldn’t seem more right.

I made the call but couldn’t find words to explain Patti to Anne, so I left that for an in-person discussion.

***

When I talked to Anne she insisted there was plenty of room for Pat and me in her house until we could get settled in a place of our own. She seemed to be overjoyed that Pat could help her. I vouched for Pat’s serving abilities, but Anne never had a doubt.

Patti and I packed enough clothes for a few weeks. We arranged to sell all our furniture with the house. Our realtor knew of a couple looking to buy a furnished home, and they had already qualified for a loan for the amount of their generous offer.

Brandon and I had several goodbye trysts; it would only be a few weeks until his request for transfer to their New York office came through.

Patti spent her time trying to get over the hurt of being jilted by Mike. She never cried in front of me, but I often noticed red eyes and knew the cause.

We put all of the rest of our possessions in storage and boarded the plane bound for a new life. I was sick with fright that afternoon as I sat next to Patti heading toward Harold and Anne’s house. Harold had sent his company limousine for us. Frank, the driver, was a bit confused at first having been sent for a young couple. Patti was wearing a summer shift dress, beige hose, and flats. I wore dressy shorts and a summer top.

As we neared the exit for Harold and Anne’s house, Patti looked over at me. “Relax. You’ll do great at your job. Your sister will love me as she always has and Harold will hate my guts. What else is new?”

Patti deserved to feel confident. She had prepared herself by reading everything she could find on the proper etiquette for domestic servants.

When we pulled up to their house, Anne rushed out to greet us. We got out of the car and Anne eyed Patti from head to foot.

My heart ached with embarrassment for Patti.

After a moment Anne gushed. “Pat. . .you look amazing. Come in and tell me all about everything.” We all hugged and giggled, relieved and happy to be together.

“It’s Patti now, and I’m your new maid, Mrs. Connor.”

Anne’s eyes shot wide.

I giggled. “When Patti’s in maid mode she’s absolutely going to call you Mrs. Connor and Harold Mr. Connor. Don’t even try to object, it took me weeks to get her to stop calling me Mrs. Johns.”

Anne eyes Patti and then looked to me. “I see.”

“She’s a very good maid, Anne,” I said. “Will Harold have a cat?”

“Harold can have two cats,” Anne said. “If you can help me out I’ll be forever in your debt. There isn’t an available maid on the entire East Coast. And none nearly as attractive as you — available or not.”

Anne blushed, something she rarely did.

“Where should I tell Frank to put your bags? I had thought you two would be staying together, but. . . .”

“Did Maria have her own quarters, Mrs. Connor?” Patti asked. “Her quarters would be just fine.”

I looked at Patti. We had quit sleeping together once Brandon started spending overnights in our house. I had assumed we would go back to sleeping in one bed to keep up appearances and keep Harold from being such an ass.

“Okay. . . .” Anne answered, “If you want me to, Patti, I’ll have Frank put your things in what was Maria’s suite.”

Patti nodded. “Yes, Ma’am.”

“Maria left in a hurry, but she did send for her personal things.”

“I would like to start working right away, Mrs. Connor.”

“Heavens,” Anne said, “you don’t have to do that. Take a bath and a nap. . .we’ll go out to dinner. You must be exhausted from your travel.”

“Please, Mrs. Connor,” Patti persisted. “This arrangement will only work if we have a professional relationship. I’m your maid. I need to work in your house for a while before your big party in order to have the lay of the land.”

The always sensible Anne relented.

We all will be more at ease if Patti does what the job requires from the very beginning.

“Maria left her clean uniforms in her closet,” Anne said. “I think they’ll fit you nicely. Judy, I figured you would want to stay in the west guest suite by the pool. Is that okay?”

I love that suite and Brandon will love it too, when he comes to visit. I nodded.

“Patti,” Anne said. “If you’re sure. . .? Oh, what’s wrong with me? You know what you want more than I do. When you’re ready there’s a list of duties on your bedroom dresser. I had prepared them for whomever we hired, before I talked to Judy. If you have any questions, let me know. Dinner should be ready at six. Judy and I will stay out of your way. My little sister and I are going to be busy enough; her with her new job and me with Harold’s stupid party. Everybody needs to man their battle stations.”

“Mrs. Johns,” Patti said. “I’ll unpack your things and hang them in your closet.”

I suppose that’s how she’ll address me as long as she’s the maid and there’s someone with us.

She hurried off to change.

“Harold’s going to have a coronary,” I said.

“Patti’s so cute,” Anne declared. “Let’s have a glass of wine and you can tell me all about it.” She took my arm and pulled me to a quiet corner of the house. Within an hour she knew everything, including the intimate details of my revived relationship with Brandon.

Patti checked in with Anne as soon as she had changed. Her uniform was very French. Maria had been proud of her trim legs, and the skirt was much shorter than anything Patti had worn before. Patti said she would have dinner ready at six and went off to work.

We had finished our second glass of what tasted like expensive wine when Harold’s booming voice assaulted me from the hallway. We exchanged pleasantries while Harold poured himself a stiff drink and downed it in one gulp. “So where’s my new butler, Pat?”

“He’s seeing to dinner,” Anne said. “Why don’t Judy and you chit-chat about her new job; I’ll go check on how things are coming in the kitchen. Judy, could I see you for just a second in the hall?”

We left Harold mixing himself another drink. Once we were in the hall Anne whispered, “Patti’s got a charming little body. Let’s play a joke on Harold. Let’s see how long it takes him to catch on.”

“You check it with Patti,” I said. “If she’s game, so am I.”

When Anne came back she stood behind Harold’s chair and gave me a broad wink. “Harold, dear, I’ve got some good news and some bad.”

Harold turned in his chair to look at her.

“I was able to hire a new maid. Her name is Yvonne and she will be serving us tonight. But -- poor Pat has come down with a headache and won’t be able to join us for dinner.”

“And the bad news is?” Harold asked.

“Harold. . . .” Anne scolded.

We went into the dining room. While Patti served the meal, Harold’s eyes were glued to her body. “Mmmmmm,” Harold said when Patti left the room to bring in the main course, “my compliments to the employment agency.”

“You approve?” Anne asked.

“She will do nicely,” Harold said, in an obvious understatement of his ardent interest.

“Patti,” Anne called, “please come out here.”

Patti pushed open the door with her backside and turned toward us carrying a large platter of ham.

“Patti?” Harold asked. “I thought you said her name is ‘Yvonne’.”

“Had we been calling her Patti,” Anne said, “either Judy or I would have faux pas’ed and called her Pat.”

“Pat?” Harold seemed totally confused. For the first time he made eye contact with that part of Patti’s body above her breasts. “Pat! - I’m a victim of male fraud.”

“Mr. Connor, I’m going to be your maid.” Patti curtsied.

“Holy shit, he’s a transvestite. He’ll be serving my clients at our party.” Harold raised his glass in a mock toast to Patti. “We’ll eat, drink, and he’ll be Mary. My God, Pat! What are you doing dressed up like a damn maid?”

“Patti! She prefers to be called ‘Patti’ now,” I stated with force. “If you can’t act civil, Harold, we’ll both leave.”

“Patti?” No longer able to contain himself, Harold broke into a loud guffaw. “This has to be some type of joke. Will someone tell me what the hell is going on?”

“This isn’t a joke,” I said. “About a month ago, Patti and I made a little bet over a wrestling match. The loser would serve the winner as a maid for the summer. Patti never expected that I could actually beat her, but I obviously did. One thing led to another and Patti found her true self.”

“You mean you actually beat Pat in wrestling. That’s too much.” Turning toward Patti, Harold continued talking. “Unbelievable. You’re going to be a maid. Christ, you even shaved your legs, and you’re wearing pantyhose. I’ll bet you’re wearing panties, too. You remind me of a joke. What’s the difference between the Clinton/Lewinsky affair and a transvestite sailor? A transvestite sailor puts a dress on a seaman and Clinton put semen on. . . .”

“Harold,” Anne warned, “that’s enough! There are things about you that Patti and Judy would find very interesting, as well.”

“Well, I. . . .” Harold stammered.

“Maybe they’d like a tour of our bedroom.”

Harold’s mouth shut while he stared at the floor.

“Good,” Anne continued. “Patti, if Harold gives you any trouble whatsoever you let me know. Any trouble at all.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Damn it, Anne,” Harold said. “I was just having a little fun. Pat knows that. Don’t you Pat?”

“Patti.” Patti’s voice was firm. “I would appreciate it, Mr. Connor, if you would see fit to address me as ‘Patti’.”

“ ‘Patti’ it is then,” Harold said.

For the next two weeks Harold kept his mouth shut and Patti settled into her life as their maid. I never saw her when she wasn’t smiling, humming, or singing. She seemed exceptionally happy despite the fact that she didn’t hear from Mike again.

The afternoon of the big dinner party we met with an attorney and signed the final papers for our divorce. We split our property right down the middle. Once we closed on our house, we each would have about $150,000.

Anne and Harold had hired a chef to prepare the meal for their closest friends and business associates. Patti would be responsible for serving the dinner to the fourteen guests. She was busier than normal that day preparing the house. I would have helped her, but I was already up to my elbows with my new job. Harold was a different person at work. He was considerate and understanding -- and the job turned out to be perfect.

By the time the guests started arriving Patti had already been working for almost eight solid hours and still had another five or six hours ahead of her. Brandon had called from the airport; he would be attending as my date. Patti seemed almost as happy to see him as I was.

Patti remained busy for the rest of the night. She had to serve appetizers, salad, the main course, and then coffee and a choice of dessert. I thought her feet were going to fall off before the evening ended and she prepared and served the last drink. However, she managed to serve everything without a mishap and the night went off without a hitch. She smiled as if she was having the time of her life -- and her joy was infectious. All of the dinner guests were nice and seemed pleased with her service.

Anne and I found a way to be with Patti for a minute in the kitchen. We both gave her a great big hug.

“Patti, you were wonderful,” Anne said. “All my guests complimented me on your wonderful service. Thank you so much. Tomorrow I want you to sleep in, and I’ll be your maid.”

Patti giggled, but I could tell Anne was serious.

Later that night Brandon proposed. Our sex was fantastic, as always.

The next morning Patti fawned over my ring like a school girl. She told me that Brandon was perfect for me. I knew Patti too well to think she might be faking her excitement and joy for me.

“Patti, if it wouldn’t be too weird for you, I would like you to be my maid of honor.”

“What about Anne?”

“She’s already agreed to be my personal attendant.”

“Then -- of course. I would love to.”

Brandon and I set a quick date. The next three months passed in a blur. We had to find a reception hall, a band, photographer, florist, centerpieces, gifts and on and on. I had to buy my wedding trousseau, gown, veil, shoes and accessories. Anne and Patti also had to buy gowns -- plus all the accessories. The three of us shopped endlessly.

After my wedding I would be moving to a new home with Brandon; leaving Patti. Harold and Anne wanted her to stay on with them and to continue working there but she wasn’t quite sure what she wanted. As Patti thought over her options, staying with them seemed to make the most sense. She had no place to live and no other job possibilities. Her body wasn’t reacting yet to the hormones, but her doctors said she would soon have breasts, hips, silkier hair, and more translucent skin. Outwardly, she would become even more feminine.

The wedding day and the few days preceding passed in a frantic haze. No one had told Patti that Mike would be Brandon’s best man. When she first saw him at the rehearsal dinner, she obviously realized how much she had missed him. Early in the evening he acted cold to her, but as time went on he loosened up and seemed attentive.

The next morning the three of us girls had our hair and make-up done at a local salon. Anne and Patti helped me get dressed in my wedding gown before they finished dressing themselves. Their dresses were pale yellow chiffon; simple yet very feminine. My gown’s bodice was lace entwined with baby pearls that matched my veil. Right before she left me to take her place at the altar, Patti kissed me on the cheek and told me I looked beautiful.

After the preacher pronounced Brandon and me as “man and wife” we went to Harold’s country club for a reception.

Mike didn’t allow Patti out of his arms for the entire evening.

***

When I got back from my honeymoon, Patti and I went out to brunch.

She was wearing an engagement ring. “Mike is such an angel. The night of your wedding Mike said that Brandon called Japan, last summer. Brandon told him about me. Mike didn’t know what to think.”

“Oh gawd! Then your break up was all my fault. Brandon must’ve told Mike. I’m so sorry. I never should’ve told Brandon.”

She knitted her brow. “Of course you should have. Couples shouldn’t have secrets from one another.”

I pursed my lips, but then decided to forge ahead. “Do you mean like you not telling me for years that you wanted to be a woman?” I gasped. I hadn’t meant it to come out like that.

She frowned, but then smiled. “We need to have this conversation.” She touched my arm. “Honey, I never wanted to be a woman until you pushed me into Mike’s arms.”

“Are you sure?” I don’t know that I can believe her.

“Honest.” She raised her hand in an oath. “There were many times when I was little when my sisters would dress me as a girl in their old clothes. I wanted to be just like them, but I never really yearned for it.”

“I see — then it was all my doing?”

“Not at all.” She giggled. “Once I felt how wonderful it was to be held by someone big and strong I realized I had been born in the wrong body.”

I nodded. “I know how motivating the urge to be made love to by a strong, masculine man can be. . .believe me I know.”

We hugged.

“Mike has apologized a dozen times to me. He told me that he had thought of nothing but me every day since he met me. He’s told me a hundred times that he loves me. He told me the night of the wedding that he wants to marry me, but it was your day so I didn’t tell anyone the good news.”

I looked at her, and she read my face.

“Yes, we have. . . .” Her blush was beautiful, radiant. “It’s different than it was with you and me, but. . . . I’m so happy. I’m almost as happy now as I was when you and I were a couple — and I know Mike has the potential of being as good a spouse as you were.”

We held hands. Our love pulsed between us. We would always love each other.

“I’ve taken another job,” Patti said, returning to the mundane.

“Anne told me she would have to find another maid.”

“One of Harold’s friends tried to hire me the night of his big party. She has four children; all are under eight. I love them to pieces already. Her husband is a psychologist. I told them before they hired me that I’m transitioning. He’s helping me understand more about myself. Nurturing children is what I was born to do. I’m sure of it.”

“Anne said you resigned under some mysterious circumstances.”

“It was more sordid than mysterious. After you and Brandon left on your honeymoon, there was an incident — late that night after the reception.”

“An incident?” I asked. “Anne didn’t mention anything to me. Is that why you quit being a maid for them?”

Patti nodded and bit her lip before continuing. “Harold was sloppy drunk. He came to my room after I had been sleeping for about an hour. He tried to force himself on me.”

“Omigosh!” Patti wouldn’t have stood a chance against Harold. She’s much smaller and not much of a wrestler, as we’d found out. “Did you scream for help?”

“No.” Patti grinned. “I just put him in a submission hold. I never told you that I have a black belt in Karate. It was something Dad forced me to do as a kid. I tried to forget all about it as an adult because I hated all the aggression. I was good at it. It would take another black belt to put me on my back, if I didn’t want to be there.”

The End



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