Tales of the Season: Charlene's Story - Chapter 17

Synopsis:

Another BigCloset TopShelf story. Diana arrives to observe Charlene.

Story:

Tales of the Season : Charlene's Story

By
Lisa Elizabeth

Chapter Seventeen

"A Homecoming"

Tuesday dawned bright and cloudless. Charlene had slept very little last night, running everything over in her mind about the series of events that got her placed at Thompson Academy. When the radio turned on, she got up and headed for the bathroom to get a start on her day. Her own thinking had her believing that if she did exactly as Ms. Thompson wanted, maybe she would relent and send her home by the end of the week. Now that was something to look forward to!

Charlene finished her shower and noticed no lingerie in the bathroom. This was unusual, since Marie had always dropped a set in the bathroom before. After drying off and powdering as she had been taught, Charlene grabbed the robe on the back of the door and secured it before venturing back into her bedroom.

The bedroom was empty! Nothing hung on the closet, nothing laid out, no note from Marie, just empty. "This must be another test! Probably to see if I can dress myself without help." Charlene said to herself. "I can do this and make Ms. Thompson so happy she’ll let me go home soon!"

So Charlene set out to get ready for breakfast. ‘Tuesday’ panties and a soft white bra. Garter belt and tan hose. Stop to do makeup and brush hair, remember to keep it simple! Then a white blouse with ruffles down the front and a simple khaki colored skirt. A pair of low-heeled shoes, re-brush of hair and a little cologne. Charlene checked the mirror one more time and looked at the clock, fifteen minutes before breakfast! "I’ll get there early so I won’t be the last one there this morning. Maybe Marie needs some help…"

Charlene headed down to the kitchen to see if Marie needed any help. "Morning Marie!" Charlene said as cheery as she could.

Marie looked up and surveyed her newest charge. "Good morning Cherie! You look nice this morning." She checked the clock above the sink. "Early also! This is good!"

Charlene smiled, she really did like this lady a lot. "Thanks Marie, I thought I would see if I could help you this morning. I finished dressing a little early today."

"Tres bien, Mon petite. You can take some of the trays out and make certain the table is set correctly, I believe I still have to place napkins for everyone." Marie replied and pointed to the tray of fresh muffins.

Charlene took the tray and went to the dining room. Looking over the table, she noted everything was perfect! The napkins were just fine, so she went back to see if there was anything else to do.

At two minutes to eight, Marie shooed Charlene to her place to be seated. "I will leave the rest here so it stays hot for everyone! Now go before Ms. Thompson arrives!"

Charlene and Joan were standing by their chairs when Jane Thompson entered for breakfast. "Good morning to both of you! A beautiful start to this wonderful day! Shall we dine?" With that statement, Jane sat and breakfast went on as if nothing unusual had happened that morning.

After a few minutes, Charlene wondered why nothing had been said about her outfit or makeup or anything else. She was mulling it over in her head for a few minutes when she heard her name.

"Charlene! You seem pre-occupied this morning, is something bothering you?" Jane asked.

"Umm-m. No ma’am, I was just thinking… I’m sorry, did you ask a question?" Charlene tried to smile and look as pleasant as possible. She had to play this game to the best of her ability if she was to get out of here soon.

Jane went on to talk about how it was impolite to not pay attention when people are discussing things and how it would be considered rude to some of the people she knew. This line of lecture went on for the next few minutes and Charlene tried real hard to not tune her out, as she normally would have before this morning.

‘If I am to get out of here soon, I have to play this to the max. I am going to have to look like I am enjoying all these frills and things. Then when she lets me go home, I can ditch all this feminine crap and get back to being Charlie!’ Charlene thought as Jane droned on about some other topic that used the words ‘genteel’ and ‘deportment’. Words that Charlene was getting very tired of hearing, over and over again!

Eventually the torture of breakfast was over and Charlene followed Jane to her study. She figured it would be a repeat of yesterday, with more clothing and makeup changes, but today the routine was different.

"Let us retire to the conservatory. It will give us more reference material for your lessons this morning." Jane stated, as she grabbed a folder off her desk. "Please freshen up and meet me there, we will be there for a while." Jane stated as she left the office and headed for the conservatory.

‘Okay-y-y-y… This is different. Freshen up… I guess that means go to the bathroom and re-apply lipstick. Better hurry! I have to look like I’m enjoying this’. Charlene thought as she headed for her bedroom to complete the tasks.

After completing her freshening up, Charlene thought to grab a small purse and place lipstick, mascara and tissues into it before heading to the conservatory. "Maybe I can try to look like I’m trying. Carrying a purse couldn’t hurt." Charlene mumbled to herself.

When Charlene entered the room, Jane noted the purse, the fresh lipstick and the plastic smile on Charlene’s face. ‘Trying to convince me she is enjoying this! Well it will make Diana’s arrival and our all day excursion tomorrow a little easier if she continues this charade!’ went through Jane’s mind as Charlene placed her purse on a table.

The next two hours were dedicated to the flora and fauna of the southwestern US. There was a display at one end of the room. It contained potted versions of the plants that Charlene grew up with! (Where did she get those from?) Charlene had to categorize all of them by genus and species, make small tags and attach them to the pots. Jane then took her on a tour of the gardens and demonstrated the plants of New England. She illustrated how different plants served the same function in the local ecosystem as those in the southwest. Jane also emphasized how important it was to not introduce a foreign species into a local ecosystem since it had no controls to limit it’s growth, the examples she used were dandelions and kudzu. Both of which have grown proficiently here in the US.

"It is now ten-forty-five, Charlene. You have done very well today, I believe this may help you with your current report. All this running around outside has made me feel a bit sticky. I believe we both have just enough time to change before tea." Jane stated. She then swept out of the room without waiting for a reply from Charlene.

"Change for tea… Change for this… Change for that… Well, at least I didn’t spend ALL morning doing nothing but changing clothes!" Charlene mumbled to herself as she headed for her room to shower and change.

Charlene found Marie in her bedroom humming a tune and placing clothes in her closet. "Hi Marie, I have been told I have just enough time to change before tea, any idea on what I should wear?" Charlene asked as she unbuttoned her blouse.

"You hop in the shower and I will take care of it!" Marie replied with a smile.

Charlene finished undressing in the bathroom and took a quick shower, when she emerged there was only a pair of rose colored satin bikini panties on the counter. "Uh oh! I wonder what Marie has in mind… I hope it isn’t that d*** corset again!"

Charlene walked out into her bedroom trying hard to keep a smile on her face. When she saw what Marie had in her hands, her face dropped. ‘SH**!’ was the only mental image that came to her.

The corset Marie was holding was even more elaborate than the one Charlene wore yesterday. It was a rose pink with little rose buds embroidered all over and lots of lace insets and panels. It took a moment and then Charlene put a smile on her face and looked at the smiling Marie.

"So we are to make me absolutely beautiful again today?" Charlene asked with a smile.

"But of course, Cherie! A girl as lovely as you should be pampered all the time! Ms Jane saw how lovely you looked yesterday and felt you should be allowed to be just as beautiful today! I thought a little bit fancier lingerie might make you feel a little more special!" Marie replied.

"And I have to wear the corset so the dress will fit?" Charlene queried.

"Mai Oui! It is the only way your lovely dress will fit you. Now let’s get started, so we are not late for tea!" Marie pointed to the lacing bar she had installed in the closet doorway.

‘I wish I weren’t allowed to be absolutely beautiful today!’ Charlene thought as Marie wrapped the corset around her and hooked the front together.

A couple of ‘Oomph’s’ and ten minutes later, Charlene was corseted to Marie’s satisfaction. First makeup, then hair and finally the dress. A more lacey version of what Charlene had worn the day before. This outfit needed three-inch heels to keep the skirt off the floor and Marie made certain the heeled sandals were strapped on properly. The dress was in a creamy-rose color with cream colored lace on every edge. It was a little lower cut than the dress was yesterday, but Marie’s use of the silicone ‘helpers’ in the corset, gave the image of a young woman in full bloom.

Marie handed Charlene a small clutch that contained tissues and lipstick. With that, she pronounced Charlene "Tres Magnifique!"

It was a long slow journey down to the parlor for tea. This skirt did not lend itself to being lifted very high and because of that, Charlene’s shoes were hidden from view half of the time. This caused her to go down the stairs at a much slower pace than she was used to. She also took the time to carefully place each foot on the step so she wouldn’t fall. She arrived in the parlor just ahead of Joan with the tea trolley.

"Ah, Charlene! Marie is correct! You are more lovely today than you were yesterday!" Jane said as Charlene tried to sit. "That dress is much more form fitting and it does a wonderful job of bringing out the true woman in you. You look very nice! Joan, would you please pour." Jane never missed a beat and Joan started to pour tea for everyone.

Charlene found she could only sit on the very front edge of a chair. This newest corset was a little longer than the one she wore yesterday and it limited how far her waist would bend. This meant she couldn’t slide back in the chair and allow herself to sink down into the cushion. It just hurt too much to do that. The corset also kept her back ramrod straight, so as she perched on the edge of the chair she had to maintain perfect posture, with the aid of the corset, of course!

Tea proceeded as usual and when everyone was finished and Joan had cleared the room, Jane decided it was time for Charlene’s first piano lesson. "Charlene, you should ‘freshen up’ before we start, I’ll meet you back here in ten minutes." Jane said as she excused herself from the parlor.

Ten minutes was barely enough time to try to use the powder room and refresh makeup when constrained by a garment such as a corset. After fussing and complaining to Marie about what a pain all this was, Charlene was finally back to being beautiful and made her way back for her first piano lesson.

Flustered from trying to hurry and out of breath from the grip of the corset, Charlene had to sit on the piano stool for a few minutes to catch her breath

"Charlene! Are you ready to begin?" Jane asked a smile on her face.

"Yes ma’am! Just a little winded from trying to hurry back from the bathroom." Charlene said and then tried to get a deep breath.

"Breath shallower and quicker. Taking a deep breath will only tire you more. Now, let us see what you know of music, shall we?" Jane replied going once more into ‘teacher’ mode.

The first hour was spent demonstrating Charlene’s lack of musicality. Jane knew she had a long way to go and by the end of that hour she had Charlene doing scale drills with both hands.

"You will continue these drills for the next thirty minutes! I have set a timer and I have set up the monitor so I can hear your practice from my study." Jane pointed to the ‘baby monitor’ on the table. "I expect to hear a steady stream of musical notes for the next half hour." With that comment, Jane left the room.

Charlene tried to sigh. "This corset MUST be tighter than the one yesterday… I could at least do a little sigh in that one!" She then returned her attention to the drills on the music sheets in front of her.

*****

Jane went about her review of her students progress. A ritual that took up at least a half hour every morning. Today she was looking over Joan’s latest report and checking on notes from herself, Marie and a letter from ‘The Style Shoppe’. All seemed to be going along well for Joan. "The only thing is she hasn’t embraced her femininity completely yet. There has been marked progress since Charlene arrived yet she is not where she needs to be in order to return her to her home. I shall have to think about that…" She placed another note into Joan’s folder and filed it away.

Looking at Charlene’s progress was different. "This one has decided propitiation is the way to go! Give me whatever I want and I will relent and let her return home! I don’t get this with every student, but when I do, I have to tread lightly for a couple of days, otherwise the result has proven explosive! I think making her think Marie and Joan are her only friends, will help to break this charade so I can get to the task of correcting her ingrained behaviors!" Jane mused over the folder for a couple more minutes before making a notation and filing it away.

*****

Charlene was engrossed in getting a minor chord scale drill right with her left hand when the timer rang. This marked the end of her required practice time. In a way, she was disappointed. She had just started to get the hang of the finger movements with her left hand. She decided a few more minutes practice wouldn’t hurt and it might even score a few points with Ms. Thompson.

Jane heard the timer through the monitor and then heard the pause. She was surprised to hear Charlene start the last drill again. After listening for a minute, she headed for the parlor.

Charlene was finally getting the finger movements down smoothly when Jane walked into the room.

"Your required practice time is over. Is there a reason you are still practicing?" Jane asked.

"Umm… well… I was just starting to get the fingering right with my left hand. I figured a few more minutes and I could get it to go a lot smoother. I’m still pretty slow, but the finger motions are better." Charlene replied.

Jane had Charlene demonstrate her scales for her. "Yes! You have made significant progress today. We will set aside some time Thursday to resume your lessons. You may also practice during your free time."

"Yes, Ms. Thompson." Was Charlene’s automatic reply. "What’s next?"

Marie entered the room before Jane could reply. "Lunch will be in fifteen minutes. I came to assist Ms. Charlene in freshening up before we eat."

"Very well. I shall see all of you then." Jane rose and left the room.

Again, the trip to the powder room was a tiring experience! Charlene figured she was getting worn out just dressing and undressing all the time. But eventually all was in order and Marie and Charlene arrived for lunch.

This lunch was similar to Charlene’s first ‘Lunch from hell’. Jane was all over her for every little mistake and every non-ladylike thing she did. Charlene was finally so frustrated she put down her fork and stopped eating what little there was on her plate.

Jane noticed immediately. "Is something wrong with your meal, Charlene?"

"No Ms. Thompson. I’m just not hungry." Charlene replied as her stomach chose that moment to let out an audible groan.

"That I do not believe. I know a corset subdues one’s appetite, but not by that amount. What is the problem?" Jane persisted, knowing full well what the problem was.

"(sigh) Well, if you must know. All through this meal, you have done nothing but correct me! Every bite, every swallow! I can’t even pick up the fork correctly today! I have just lost my appetite from all that." Charlene was shaking, she had been trying so hard to give this …this …woman, what she wanted so he could get done with her program and go home! Now it just seemed he had doomed himself to being here forever by ticking off the warden!

"Just so! I am constantly correcting you! You did not have the advantage of growing up a refined young lady! I have a very dear friend coming to visit and I fully expect you to be the perfect young lady while she is here! Diana is a very close friend. However, she does not know your secret and I am certain you would not want her to know who you really are. Therefore, I am doing all that I know how to do in order to perfect your image of a refined demure young woman before her expected arrival!" Jane paused a moment. "Do you have a problem with that?"

Charlene sat there a moment. Stunned that she had been told she was being corrected on purpose. Then it dawned on her. They were having a guest! Another woman was coming. Someone Jane knew very well and someone who would be able to tell that Charlene wasn’t a real girl if she messed up. She turned pale and started to hyperventilate.

Marie saw it and moved to steady Charlene before she fell out of the chair. "Breathe slower Cherie! It will pass. Joan, go to the kitchen and get a small paper bag please?" Marie asked.

Joan returned with the paper bag and Marie had Charlene breathe slowly in and out of the bag until her shaking stopped and her color returned.

"Diana.. I mean Ms. Di.. I mean this guest will see me? Oh God! She’ll know! There is no way I can fool her. Oh god, Oh god!" Charlene started to turn pale again and Marie stuck the bag back in front of her to breathe in and out of again.

"Charlene!" Jane said rather forcefully. "You did just fine when Commander Hayden was here last Sunday, did you not?" Charlene nodded. "What makes you think it will be any different than that? You are much better at being Charlene now than you were last Sunday, are you not?" Jane waited for some response from Charlene.

"That was only for a few minutes. Are you certain I can pull this off?" Charlene asked pointing to her outfit.

Jane let out a genuine giggle. Such was not heard often during the initial week or so of a new student’s tenure. "Charlene, if I did not know who you were under that outfit, I would not believe it myself! As long as you follow everything you have learned since arriving here, you will do fine! Ms. Phillips knows I have a new student and that she is here to learn how to be a lady. My previous experience as a headmistress for a girl’s finishing school offers you that cover. As long as you truly try to be a lady while Diana is here, I am certain she will take you for what you appear to be."

"Okay." Charlene said at a barely audible level.

Satisfied that her charge was somewhat calmed down, Jane returned to her conversation as if Charlene had never had any problem what-so-ever.

Eventually, Charlene decided to eat a little more and when it didn’t cause any type of reaction, she finished her lunch. When lunch ended, Charlene followed Jane to the conservatory.

Her afternoon was spent studying the plants and animals of the southwestern USA again along with taking notes for the report that she still had to finish. Every couple of hours, Marie would bustle in and make her take a short break and eat something. Just before tea, Marie told Charlene to put things away so she could freshen up for tea.

Another time consuming trip to the powder room and Charlene was on her way to the parlor. As she approached, she heard two people talking. One of the voices was Jane’s but the other she didn’t recognize.

Every step toward the parlor made Charlene a little more nervous. When she reached the door, she had to stop and try to calm herself. It took her a couple of minutes and then she decided there was no choice since Jane would just come find her and make her come into the parlor anyway.

Charlene entered the room and saw Jane talking with another lady. Joan was already there and sitting primly in a chair. There was an empty chair next to it and Charlene headed for it. She was just about to sit, when a stern look from Jane stopped her cold. Not knowing what to do, she just stood there, frozen to the spot.

"Excuse me Diana, let me introduce my newest student. Ms. Diana Phillips, this is Miss Charlene Hawkins. Miss Hawkins, Ms. Diana Phillips." Jane made the introductions.

Diana rose and extended her hand. Charlene not certain what to do went over and shook her hand like a boy would. Jane frowned, but Diana smiled. "Pleased to meet you Charlene. Why don’t you go sit." Diana motioned to the chair. "Jane dear. I see you still have a little bit of work to do with this one!"

Jane took a deep breath and let out a sigh. "Yes. Charlene was quite the tomboy when she arrived here. I believe she has made a lot of progress in the short time she has been here. The rest will come with time, I am certain."

"I am certain if anyone can make her a lady you can. She has the carriage and poise down quite well already. It would be nice to see her in another month or two." Diana replied.

‘Another month or two? I certainly hope I’m not here in another month let alone, two!’ Charlene thought as she sat on the edge of the chair.

Marie entered with the tea trolley and Charlene was relieved that all she had to do was sit there, be quiet and just sip tea. It was the most enjoyable tea she had been to since arriving at Jane’s.

Tea ended and Jane dismissed the girls to go back to their respective studies until six. At that time, they were to change for dinner. It would be a casual affair since Diana did not want to be too formal after her trip.

Marie came for Charlene at five-thirty. When the corset was removed Charlene took a deep breath and almost passed out! Marie caught her and helped her to sit down.

"No, no, Cherie! You must continue to breathe shallow until your body gets used to not having the corset on! Too deep a breath will cause you to swoon. Your breathing will gradually deepen on it’s own!" Now sit for a moment and get your breath back." Marie stayed right next to Charlene to make certain she didn’t faint and fall off the stool. A few minutes later, Charlene was ready for her shower.

"Umm… Thank you Marie. I didn’t know and it… It just felt good to get that corset off!" Charlene said, still blushing from the thought of almost fainting.

"It’s okay, little one. These things you will learn while you are here. Now! Into the shower! Here is your clean lingerie. Take them with you while I lay out an appropriate outfit for you. Remember to be a little heavier on your makeup, it is evening." Marie told Charlene as she headed for the shower.

*****

After tea had ended and the two students were dismissed, Jane took Diana up to her bedroom to get settled. She chatted all the way about her trip and the weather and all sorts of inane little things. This helped keep up the illusion of them being old friends. Neither student knew that Diana was really Jane’s husband, Art.

Jane entered the guestroom where Diana would unpack and change. As soon as Diana closed the door, she spoke in Art’s voice. "You know, Janey, it’s hard to stay in character while following your sexy bum up the stairs."

Jane turned around and gave Art a mock look of shock. "I didn’t think you noticed!" The smile on her face said it all as the two embraced and fell onto the bed in a passionate embrace.

*****

Charlene finished dressing. It was a simple outfit, similar to the one, Joan had worn when Charlene had first met her. A cream colored dress with lace trim that fell to tea length. A full skirt with a matching belt that gave Charlene the look of a feminine figure, tan hose and light beige, heeled sandals. Charlene went a little heavier with her makeup, since Marie had told her to and then headed down the steps to see if Marie needed any help.

Arriving in the dining room, Charlene was surprised to see Jane and Diana laughing. It was a genuine laugh, not one of those contrived laughs Charlene had heard over her past few days here. This was genuine and so was the affection that showed between Diana and Jane. There was a lot of touching as they both talked and then more laughter.

"Ah, Charlene! You look lovely tonight." Diana said, as Charlene came within earshot of the conversation "Why don’t you sit and talk with me. You hardly said a word during tea." Diana motioned toward the chairs around the table. "I believe Joan is helping Marie, we have a few minutes before dinner is ready."

Charlene’s breath caught audibly. A look to Jane for help only received a nod in the direction of her normal seat. Taking a deep breath to calm herself and then trying to remember everything she had learned about walking and sitting like a girl, Charlene made her way to her seat and looked at Diana.

"First, I know you are new here, so I will dispense with all the trivial things like what you have learned and why your parents sent you here. It is obvious, from knowing Jane that you are here to learn to be a lady and that Jane has been working very hard with you so far. You are a very pretty girl and I completely understand why you should want to lose your tomboyish ways. So, tell me, where did you live before coming here?" Diana asked, noting the blush that happened when she mentioned Charlene was pretty.

"Umm… Oh! I lived in the LA area." Was Charlene’s short reply.

And so, the evening meal proceeded, Joan joined the group and Marie served all amid the conversation between Diana and Charlene. Most of Diana’s questions were designed to get long explanations, while Charlene’s answers were always very short and simple. Jane only interjected a couple of times to remind Charlene to finish her mouthful of food before responding and to take smaller bites so that she wouldn’t have to chew so long before answering a question. Needless to say, it was a very nerve wracking and trying experience for Charlene. Finally, Diana asked a question that surprised Charlene.

"All evening I have been trying to engage you in conversation, yet I only get short succinct answers to my queries. Charlene, are you afraid of me for some reason?" Diana asked.

Charlene stropped eating in mid chew. She turned slightly pale and then felt the heat of her blush as she tried to form an answer. Finally, after what seemed like forever she finished chewing and answered. "I don’t think I’m afraid of you, I am just always being corrected at dinner for unladylike behavior. I was trying to be polite and answer your questions and not get yelled at in the process."

"I see. Jane, any ideas?" Diana asked.

"Other than the few times Charlene took too large a bite to effectively respond to your questions in a timely manner, I saw nothing wrong with her behavior tonight." Jane responded.

"So, you can relax, Charlene. Jane doesn’t seem to find any major flaws with your behavior tonight." Diana smiled.

"Umm… Yes ma’am." Was Charlene’s reply. She blushed again from embarrassment.

"Now! I believe you two have studies to do until bedtime. If you will excuse Ms. Phillips and myself, we are going to retire upstairs and catch up on old times." Jane announced when everyone had finished dessert. "I leave both of you in Marie’s capable hands for the evening."

Jane patted her lips, placed the napkin perfectly on the table and left the dining room.

"I guess that means I will not see you girls until tomorrow! I bid you goodnight now instead of later." Diana, mimicked Jane perfectly and left to follow Jane upstairs. She looked back and smiled at the girls just before she left the room.

Joan let out a chuckle after both of the ladies had left the room. Charlene looked at her then began to laugh to herself also. Joan did her own mimic of Jane and Diana and that allowed the dam to burst and Charlene just started laughing very hard. After a couple of minutes they both settled down, gave each other knowing glances and helped Marie clear the table and clean up after dinner.

Charlene spent the rest of the evening working on her report. She seemed to make a million trips between the student study area and the conservatory in order to look at some detail on the plants that Jane had there. All that walking back and forth did two things. First, it allowed her to become much more proficient at walking in heels. Second, it finally made her feet hurt! As if on cue, Marie entered the study and told the girls it was time for bed. Charlene was happy the day was over! It had been fun to start learning the piano, but very nerve wracking to meet Diana Phillips. She was glad the day was complete and that she could head for a bath and sleep. Charlene was still looking forward to getting Jane to let her go home by the end of this week!

*****

The door closed behind Diana as she entered the couple’s private bedroom. This was in a separate section of the upstairs that no one but Jane, Art, Darryl and Marie knew about. It was a small efficiency apartment, sometimes called a ‘Mother-in-law’s apartment’. It was nicely decorated and comfortable. Nothing like the stuffy formality of ‘Thompson Academy’. Jane had soundproofing put into the walls that mated to the rest of the house. This allowed Jane and Art to say and do whatever they felt, even when students were present.

"It is good to be back home with you again! Even if I am here in a semi-professional capacity." Art said to Jane as he removed his wig and placed it on a foam head.

"We have the evening alone! At least that is what I planned." Jane gave Art a mischievous smile. "Provided there are no problems tonight, I expect my husband to spend the evening with me! I’ll just sit over here and wait for him to show up!" Jane sat in a large wing back chair and looked at a copy of Vogue.

Art got the hint. He proceeded to remove all traces of Diana as quickly as he could.

*****

Notes:

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