Seasons of Change - Book 5 - Tales of the Season - Kendra's Story

Aunt Jane faces an uncommonly difficult test - a boy who simply will not break under her tests. Oddly, he is the most well-mannered and polite student she's ever taught, although his records say differently. Will anything break through his wall of control or will Jane be forced to send him back where three years of state confinement await him?

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Seasons of Change
Book 5
Tales of The Season
Kendra's Story

by Tigger

Copyright © 1998,2001,2012 Tigger
All Rights Reserved.

 


 
Author's Note: Archiving and reposting of this story *unchanged* is permitted provided that no fee be charged, either directly or indirectly (this includes so-called "adult checks") *and* provided that this disclaimer and attribution to the original author are maintained.

Based on the characters and situations presented in "Seasons of Change" by Joel Lawrence, Copyright 1989.

With sincere thanks to (in alphabetical order), Brandy DeWinter, Denise Em and Vickie Tern, for slogging through this story several times each, and finding myriad ways to make it better each time. ~Tigger
 


 
 
Part 1:
 
As she had so many times before, Jane Thompson stood on the small, outdoor train platform and watched the blue, red and silver behemoth squeal ponderously to a stop. She looked down at the slender young woman standing patiently at her side and smiled to herself. So much was the same, and yet so much was so very different.

Darla, or Darryl (which was her ward's given name), was turned out in true debutante style in her knee length white dress and coordinating hat. Old fashioned petticoats made the dress stand out prominently from her opaque-white stockinged legs. Modestly heeled patent pumps and a matching shoulder purse completed her costume.

Jane herself was dressed in her most austere black business suit, with her hair swept back ruthlessly into a tight chignon and her cosmetics subtly harsh. She was rather pleased with the look. Such little power game tricks were just the thing to put her new guest immediately on the defensive. Which was just where Headmistress Jane Thompson wanted him.

It had been too long, she thought, far too long since she'd had a student upon whom she could bring to bear the full dimension of her program methods. By all accounts, this one was going to require just that to turn his life around and Jane was anticipating the challenge. As ever, there was also that familiar, tiny, niggling frisson of shame telling her she really shouldn't enjoy the fear and humiliation her training method imposed on her students quite so much.

That did not change the fact that she *did* enjoy watching her boys quiver fearfully with their hair all but standing on end. And since it was always ultimately to their benefit and betterment, she felt her small pleasure was not *too* bad of her.

Of course, her recent experiences with her last few boys had given Jane cause for more caution than she might have exerted with past students. Michelle's suicide attempt and Stephanie's father threatening her with public exposure and humiliation had given pause to reflect, and had made her doubt herself more than she had in the past.

Jane steeled herself against the emotions those memories evoked. She'd always thought she was so fully in command of her boys and their situations, always felt that nothing could go wrong as long as she adhered to her tried and true formula. In truth, she'd become too complacent and had forgotten just how close to their psychological edge she pushed the boys in her keeping. The result of her inattention had been two near tragedies, one falling right upon the last.

Never again, she firmly told herself for what was most likely the millionth time. This time she was better prepared for surprises because she had learned that she needed to expect them. Over the past few months, Jane along with Marie had carefully reviewed and analyzed every detail of their program. As a result, Jane had specifically included more careful attention her charge's mental and emotional states, particularly during the most intensely emotional times immediately before or after any of her more stressful or humiliating exercises. She'd also planned on stretching out the early lessons a little more so that she had more time to get to know her new student's foibles and reactions better before she began in earnest.

Of course, that planned "slowdown" did nothing to change her standard program for her new student's first two days with her. That intentionally and necessarily hard indoctrination was when the boy was stripped (quite literally in some cases) of everything familiar and masculine, and then cast adrift in the alien, feminine world of skirts, makeup and petticoats. Those first forty eight hours were critical to the final success of her curriculum. Jane *had* to establish herself as the "bad cop" to Marie's and Darla's good cop with this student right from the start.

For just a moment she started to reexamine the problem one more time, trying to find some other way, but caught herself. No, Jane Thompson told herself firmly, it had to be done that way. There simply wasn't another kinder, gentler way to impose the necessary mind set on the student. He had to be taken completely off-balance, emotionally and mentally, as quickly as possible. Jane needed him to be reacting, not thinking when faced with her stern, seemingly-arbitrary orders.

Or else nothing good or positive would come of the other torments she was going to inflict on this teenager.

Be honest, she chided herself. The real problem was that she was just a little afraid to do what she knew had to be done and that was something new and unwelcome in her experience. Jane had always needed to deal with her charges' fears and anxieties - hell, she was the one who fostered those emotions - but she'd never had to deal with fears of her own about how to proceed with a student before.

Until now.

Jane had very nearly refused to accept this student for that very reason. In fact, she had eventually consented to take on this project only because *two* of her oldest friends, Judge Ruth and the boy's mother, were involved.

There was absolutely no reason that this all-important phase of her program could not go on as before without any real danger to her student. For one thing, she was better prepared than she had been in the past. If he reacted as all her experience indicated he would then there was no problem. If he did not react as she expected, well, she knew how to recognize and deal with that contingency better than she had in the past.

Particularly in the *recent* past.

And she *would* rediscover the joy of her long time mission in life again with this student. Everything would fall back into place again. There was nothing out of the ordinary about this student. Surely, he'd fall into her traps like so many had before him.

Before Michael, Stephan and Darryl, that is.

So many things had been out of kilter for her of late, thoroughly disrupting her efforts with her young men. Michael had reacted very badly to his first experience of being "out" in skirts and had nearly succeeded in taking his own life. Stephan's father had stormed into Jane's home and had dragged his son out of her control, threatening her and her boys with nationwide media exposure and public humiliation. Worst of all, Darryl had been ready to run off into the night to protect her from his murderous brother. *After* he'd told her she'd been *good* to him.

Jane still wondered at that.

The train's occupants began to disembark from their respective railcars. Jane made another quick check of Darla's appearance and smiled softly. Her mind flew back to the day her old friend had called to ask for her help.

"You're actually dithering, Aunt Jane." Darryl, wearing his Darla masquerade had accused. "Is it because I am here? Am I an impediment to you helping this mother and her son?"

She'd had to think carefully before she'd answered. "Only minimally if at all, dear. Mostly, the problem is me. My little program has not gone all that well of late."

"That's garbage and you know it. You've had some oddballs lately and things haven't gone as you've expected. How many times had that happened before Michelle?"

Jane had smiled at the pugnacious, determined look on the perfectly made up face. "I think we've had this discussion before, dear. I have only lost two boys in some twenty years of this work."

"Okay, of us oddballs, are there any of us you are ashamed of having had as students? Do you believe that you failed with any of us?"

"But . .but . ."

"But nothing, Aunt Jane." Darryl's voice snapped with Darla's mouth.

"Okay." she smiled. "So I got lucky with you guys. Nothing really disastrous came of my failure to deal with you and those other wise guys properly."

"Maybe it was luck, maybe it wasn't. I don't think so, but that is beside the point. What is to the point is that now you are more aware. You won't miss those danger signs and clues again and you will be able to adjust your program in time to prevent the crisis. So, what other problem could there be? You don't want to do it without a big sister and you don't think I can do the job?"

"You've not been through the whole program, dear. You've only seen the barest beginnings of what I put my boys through. Not only that, but you got a very mild taste because" Jane said sourly, "you were just so damned biddable. I couldn't find anything that I could seriously discipline you for. . .not legitimately, anyway."

"And your point?"

"By all accounts, dear," Jane sighed thinking of her friend's son, "this one is going to be a very tough nut. He will either shatter quickly, perhaps within the first few hours of starting his indoctrination, or he will require some of my harsher treatments before he makes the turn."

"And you're afraid of how I will react when the going gets tough?" Jane closed her eyes and nodded. "You *honestly* believe this is what you need to do to help the kid?" Jane nodded again, with more certainty this time. "Then explain to me what needs be done, and we will do it."

"You're sure?" this time it had been Darla's turn to nod her agreement. Jane had started to say something, hesitated, and then, unbelievably, blushed brightly. She'd coughed to clear her suddenly tight throat. "I have been told, Darla, that I might enjoy tormenting my girl-boys a little too much. Will that bother you?"

"Sounds like Michelle." Darla had opined softly. At Jane's abashed, affirmative response, Darla had grinned broadly. "Given her experiences, I might agree, but I don't share those experiences so I don't share her opinions, either. Might as well enjoy your work, Aunt Jane. It's not really malicious on your part, is it?"

Fierce joy had warmed Jane's whole person at that point. "No, it isn't." she had breathed to herself in wonder. "It really never has been. Even Michelle called it 'tough love' once."

"Then what do we need to do to help your new student, Aunt Jane?"

~----------~

Darla's acquiescence had slipped just a little bit when the prissy, fussy petticoated little-girl doll-dresses had reappeared in her wardrobe and her few boy clothes had disappeared into storage. She'd recovered quickly enough, Jane smiled at the memory, once she had understood the danger of the new student finding boy clothes in Darla's room when he needed to feel completely alone as he faced Jane's feminine prison. Darla had to be completely convincing as a female until it was time for the boy to learn the whole story of his new existence under Jane's regime.

A slender boy of average height and fashionably long black hair stepped down from the train carrying a large duffel bag over his shoulder. Jane recognized him immediately as her new latest project from the pictures his mother had express mailed to her. She took the opportunity to watch him for several moments as he scanned the small station for some sign of the woman he'd been told to expect.

Taking a deep breath, Jane schooled her features into her strict Victorian Schoolmistress persona. Looking to Darla, she whispered, "It's show time." and then strode out toward the young man standing quietly in the center of the windblown train- landing.

"Kenneth?" Jane said firmly by way of introduction. "I am your Mother's friend, Jane Thompson. You may call me Jane, Aunt Jane or Ms. Thompson. This is my niece, Darla Smith. Darla, this is the young man I told you about, Kenneth Roberts."

The two young people silently shook hands with Darla making a graceful curtsey while holding the boy's hand. Pleased, Jane decided to get on with the real work. "Is that all the luggage you have with you?"

"No, Ms. Thompson," was the soft, courteous reply. "I have two larger bags in checked baggage."

"Very well, give me the claim checks. I will arrange to have them delivered to my home later on, Kenneth. For now, we have much to accomplish today and your train was late." Jane spun imperiously on her heel and began to stride away towards the rustic New England station house. "Come along, children. I insist on prompt compliance." she shot over her shoulder without a backward look.

Still, she was pleased to hear the rhythmic tapping of Darla's heels against the concrete of the train loading platform, knowing that meant Kenneth was following her instructions.

For now, at least.

~----------~

The drive from the train station back to Jane's home was passed mostly in silence which suited Jane. Silence, in her experience, was a most unnatural state for the type of young male sent to her for help. Normally, a lack of audio stimulation set them on edge which in turn made them even more susceptible to her frontal barrage once she had them safely in her house. For that reason, Darla had been directed to avoid most conversation with the lad. She could answer his questions as quickly and concisely as possible, but she was not to initiate anything with him until it was time for her to "help" the boy with his first experience with petticoats.

But Kenneth hadn't asked any questions nor had he made any attempt at further conversation. Jane had expected him to begin to fidget at some point during the drive and to attempt to fill in the void of silence with his own voice, but he hadn't. Instead, Kenneth had sat quietly the entire trip, keeping his own counsel. Odd, Jane thought, but so far the boy has displayed excellent manners. He obviously knew *how* to behave properly, so his acting up at home and school must be by choice on his part. Still, he had done better than most of her students. Holding doors for her and Darla, asking Darla whether she preferred to ride in the front or back seat and then deferring to her wishes, responding to Jane's own carefully planned and worded probes politely and respectfully. Not at all what she expected. Kenneth's unanticipated behavior since his arrival had effectively defanged several of Jane's favorite and most effective opening gambits against a new student.

Most boys preferred to ride in the front seat of a car or reacted boorishly to her senior student because of her admittedly prissy and fussy outfit. Ordering the new student to ride in the back seat or reproaching them sharply for their lack of basic courtesy typically made the boys feel juvenile which in turn further opened their fragile little egos to her psycho-dramatic games.

Jane decided that she'd have to take another look at the boy's records before their initial confrontation. If he was going to be this mannerly, she'd have her work cut out for her getting him into sufficient "trouble" to justify her taking the already- planned first steps into femininity. Jane had learned long ago that a young man who felt he was being unjustly punished fought her all that much harder. One of her two failures had been one who had never trusted her again after she had used a patently false accusation to start her campaign.

She wouldn't make that mistake again. She'd just have to be patient, that was all.

Stopped at a traffic light, Jane surreptitiously assessed her newest charge in the Lincoln's rearview mirror. A quiet frown of extreme concentration marred his otherwise smooth facial features. He wasn't happy to be here, but that was to be expected when the choice was here or incarceration. Jane could already see that he was intelligent which meant he knew his experiences with her were bound to be unpleasant given the alternative. She might have wished for a little more obvious anxiety, but that would come soon enough, she told herself. That would come.

He had good bones, she mused, pleased with the observation. A clear though dark complexion and a nice slender frame, too. From a purely physical standpoint, he'd be able to carry off the masquerade without any difficulty. That meant she'd be able to put him into some of the more public and therefore more humiliating of her special training situations. Some of her boys could never have "passed" under the closer scrutiny associated with those games and therefore had never been exposed to them. This one would pass easily, although he'd be terrified every daintily shod step of the way. Jane would see to that!

Too bad about that lovely black hair, but it would back out after she had given him his release from her silken prison. With that olive toned complexion inherited from the Italian side of his Mother's family, he'd look a little exotic once they'd bleached him into a blond, but not so much that he'd draw too much notice. Just enough to frighten the poor darling into nearly wetting his, soon to be her, panties. Besides the obvious and humiliating male stereotype of the "dumb blonde", bleaching a dark haired boy had other advantages from Jane's point of view. Not the least of which were black roots, the control of which would require regular trips to that bastion of feminine mystery and male terror, the Marisha Chalet beauty salon.

It was going to work this time, she told herself as she began to accelerate away from the intersection, just like it had all those times before. She was going to help this one and he was going to hate every bloody minute of it until he understood what it had really been all about.

~----------~

Kenneth Roberts looked around the rose pink room. He'd nearly asked the girl who'd shown him up here if there had been some mistake, but he'd managed to restrain himself. Whatever this Thompson woman, his mother and that Judge friend of theirs had planned for him was going to be bad enough. No way was he going to add to his problems by making waves right from the start. There would be much more important battles to fight before this was all over and he'd learned the hard way that it was better to conserve your ammunition and other resources for when it really mattered. He had his mother to thank for that painful little life's lesson, too.

A bitter smile crossed his face as he caught a whiff of the cloying rose fragrance that thickly pervaded the room. It would not be long before he and everything he owned would smell like that, too. Not long at all.

Sighing against the inevitability of whatever was planned, he decided to take a few moments to put away his things. He especially wanted to find a secure place to hide his wallet. He might need it in the days to come.

Kenneth opened the large, ornate armoire and instantly stilled. It was filled with feminine attire and only feminine attire. He stood there, trying to make sense of what he saw when he heard a soft knock at his door.

Moving quickly, Kenneth did his best to hide his wallet and closed the armoire door. "Please come in." he called out politely.

In response to his invitation, the pretty young female who had accompanied the Thompson woman to the train station stuck her head inside the room. "Aunt Jane would like to see you down in her office now. It's the room just off the stairs to the right."

"Thank you." he responded. "I will be right down." Kenneth went over to the chair where he'd hung his suit coat, slipped it on and headed for the door where the girl, Darla was it? Yes, that was it, Darla. Where *Darla* waited for him.

He allowed her to lead the way as they silently descended the ornate stairway. It occurred to Kenneth that the clothes might well belong to this girl. She was certainly turned out to the nines in that obviously expensive, but unusually frilly white ensemble. If all of her things were like that, she'd probably need extra storage. The outfit seemed a little young for a girl of her age, but then, what did he know? He decided that the issue of closet space was another question he could hold off asking, at least until his own baggage arrived.

At the foot of the stairs, she motioned him to a closed door. Kenneth took the hint and stepped up to the door. He almost opened it, but caught himself at the last moment. This wasn't his home and he was a guest. He rapped sharply on one of the hardwood panels of the door. There was a moment's pause before his knock was answered by a very authoritative command to "Enter."

Taking one last deep, calming breath, Kenneth took the antique door handle in hand and turned it to open the door. Maybe now, he thought grimly, he'd find out just what the hell he'd gotten into *this* time.

~----------~

Part 2:
 
Jane watched the carefully groomed young man make his way across her office to stand before her desk. She waited in vain for him to do something she could call him to task for. Other than asking "You wanted to see me, Ms. Thompson." after she'd bid him enter, he'd merely nodded at her sharp affirmative and closed the door behind him. He hadn't even taken the seat so obviously intended for him, but instead had waited to be invited to be seated.

Well, that merely meant that Sheila, his mother, had trained him properly in polite behavior and good manners. Which made his failure to behave properly at home and at school all the more inexcusable in Jane's opinion. It was one thing to be ill trained for society as indeed many of her former students had been; it was quite another thing to know how to interact acceptably with other people and refuse to do so. This one *knew* better and that was all the more to his discredit.

Jane waited a bit longer, hoping the boy would at least fidget, but was again disappointed. Finally, she sighed at the momentary setback, and then gestured toward the painfully uncomfortable "chair of honor" at the front of her desk. "Please be seated, Kenneth. We have much to talk about."

"Thank you, Ms. Thompson." he replied quietly as he unbuttoned his jacket and then seated himself before visibly giving her his full and undivided attention.

Jane began to flip through the detailed dossier that Sheila had express mailed to her the previous day, pausing several times to glare at Kenneth over the top rim of her half-lens reading glasses. The third or fourth time she thought she might have seen a tiny flinch on his part and decided that was as good an opening as she was likely to get from this one. The boy's composure was beginning to alarm her.

She slipped the gold-rimmed spectacles from her nose and stared at Kenneth for several moments. "Do you really want to spend the next three years of your life in an institution for delinquent young males, Kenneth?" she demanded.

Kenneth jumped at the sudden sound, but quickly regained his composure - too quickly for Jane's tastes, and considered his answer. She was about to demand an immediate answer when he finally spoke. "If I wanted to do that, Ms. Thompson, I would not have agreed to come here and put myself under your control."

The voice Jane heard was soft, yet controlled, betraying none of the emotion she would have expected after her aggressively worded question. "Well, everything in this record indicates that you are very likely to end up there if you don't turn yourself around, Mister. Notes from teachers, letters from your principal, even police reports all point to the fact that you are a boorish, out of control and ill behaved lout. And *yet*, you have exhibited superb manners since I first saw you earlier today so it is *not* as if you can't behave properly. No, you must *choose* to behave the way that these," and she waved a hand over the thick folder, "prove that you do."

Jane stopped, waiting for him to try to defend himself against her charges so she could really lay into him, but was again chagrined as he said nothing. "WELL???" she finally snapped. "Have you nothing to say for yourself?"

Kenneth sat there, wondering how he should answer that challenge. He desperately wanted to swallow back against the threat of nausua, to wipe at the sweat he felt beading at his forehead, but he knew from painful experience that showing any sign of weakness to someone like this Thompson woman would lead to disaster. "I am not sure that there is anything I can say, Ms. Thompson, other than that I have done nothing wrong."

Finally, Jane crowed to herself. Now she had caught him in an out and out lie. Now she had the wedge she needed to start splintering that male ego like an old dead tree. An almost feral smile crossed her face as she prepared to unleash her assault.

"Nothing wrong? Oh, really?" Jane scoffed with heavy sarcasm. "Am I to assume that this police report for vandalism is incorrect?" Jane asked holding up stapled sheaf of paper. "Or this suspension record for continued disrespect and abuse of a female teacher? Or this one for what is practically sexual harassment of one of the young ladies at your school? *Those* are 'nothing wrong'? If such things are 'nothing wrong', what in your mind constitutes something wrong, young man?"

The boy's face momentarily clouded in anger, but he quickly controlled it. "I have done nothing wrong." he reiterated firmly.

"This," Jane snapped, holding up the thick file, "Says otherwise, Kenneth. Am I to presume that these incidents are just "boys will be boys"-type acts of mischief in your mind? Your Mother obviously doesn't think so, and neither do I. And this record shows a continuing pattern of increasingly unacceptable behavior on your part. I suspect," she said with a mocking half smile, "that you are likely trying to prove your . . .manhood," and the word dripped cold derision, "in light of your, shall we say, less than manly stature and handsome, almost pretty looks?"

Kenneth stared at the file and then at Jane, not saying a word. He was so bloody tired of fighting, but he couldn't let himself give up; couldn't let himself give in. Why couldn't someone believe him for a change? He knew, however, that this woman, this friend of his mother, would *never* be that someone.

Finally, Jane spoke again. "How do you conclude you have done nothing wrong when faced with the facts in this file, Kenneth?"

She watched in fascination, then admiration and finally concern as her student considered her question and then drew himself upright in the hardbacked wooden chair. Cold grey eyes locked on her own. "Perhaps because nothing you have read to me from that file is true, Ms. Thompson. If that really matters to you."

He's not going to admit that he was and still is in the wrong, even in the face of the overwhelming evidence of this file, Jane thought in wonder. Well, he would eventually confront that lie as well as his other many failures before she was done with him. She'd seen cases like this before. Sometimes they were hard to break, but when they finally did break, they broke quickly and completely. In many ways, such students were the easiest to turn around.

"I see. So I am to believe you and not the records provided by your own Mother, my friend, and a court judge who is also my personal friend?" A challengingly cocked eyebrow showed exactly how likely the former schoolmistress thought of that leap of faith occurring. "Tell me, Kenneth, do you fully understand what your alternatives are? What options you have left if you do not enter into my program?"

She saw him begin to shrug and catch himself. Such control, she thought yet again, for a fifteen year old male. "My mother has arranged with your friend the judge to put me into a home for delinquent boys until I reach my eighteenth birthday."

"And a slightly built," Jane exaggerated for effect, "young boy like yourself would suffer greatly in such an environment, don't you think? You'd be an outsider, the one who didn't fit in and likely the one least able to defend himself." Jane looked down at the record open on her desk. "Given your loutish behavior towards the women and young girls at your school, I would say that might almost be poetic justice, in and of itself."

This time Kenneth did shrug, trying to set aside that especially dark fear that had taken seed when his Mother had first told him of the unholy choice he had to make.

Although Jane could see her new student growing uneasy as the full implication of her words became clear to him. Of course, Jane knew that such goings-on would never be tolerated at any institution used by her friend Judge Ruth, but the boy did not know that. The threat, however, would help ensure his ultimate submission to Jane's will.

"Nothing to say? I am still curious, Kenneth, as to what prompts a young man to do such things as are in this file. You obviously know better as you have amply demonstrated since your arrival." At least she wouldn't have to drill him too hard on basic manners, she mused, and could get down to the hard lessons more quickly.

As Jane had expected, his silence lingered permitting her to press on with her favored opening gambit of this little chess game. Time to start making this pawn/would-be king into a queen.

"Well 'boys will be boys' and proving false manhood at the expense and pain of others are no longer acceptable excuses, Kenneth. Still, the pattern begins to give me an idea. Maybe that's the key. There is a practice in England for curbing defiance such as yours called 'petticoat discipline'. Have you heard of it?"

If she had any doubts that the boy did understand from the look of resigned disgust on his face his next words removed them. "So that's why she did it." He said resignedly.

Jane set aside her reading glasses and stared out the window, trying to look contemplative as she worked to make some sense of what was going on. She was absolutely certain he fully understood that relatively archaic term, but that was absurd. How many young American males could conceive of such a thing, let alone instantly understand the implications? Most of her boys initially concluded that it mean some type of submission to a feminine will and none had ever understood at the first confrontational interview.

She decided to press on. "Yes," she announced with a resolve she was far from feeling, "that will be exactly it. Kenneth, if I am to help you avoid being sent to that delinquent's home, I must have your word of honor that you will unhesitatingly obey every command I give you, no matter how unpleasant or disagreeable you may find that activity to be. Our goal will be, at least at the start, to see if we can instill some self-restraint in you." As if this boy needed to become more self controlled. "If at any time I detect resistance, I will wash my hands of you completely and advise the Judge and your Mother accordingly. Is that agreed?"

"No, it's not." Kenneth said quietly.

"All right then, we will be. . . .*What* did you say?" Jane goggled, so amazed at his response that her voice broke two octaves.

"I said that don't agree to your terms. I have a fairly good idea of what awaits me if I leave here and take my other option. You are the devil I don't know, Ms. Thompson. I won't be bound indefinitely by my word of honor until I understand better what you intend and what those 'unpleasant or disagreeable' orders might entail."

Jane could only stare at him as he watched her intently. *This* was a fifteen year old boy??!? She'd faced down corporate CEO's who had shown less reserve than this . . this child. With some effort, Jane managed to regain some of her own composure. "So, where does that leave us, Kenneth? Your Mother is a long time friend and I told her I would try to help you and her, but I cannot do that if I do not have your cooperation."

The solemn faced young man sat quietly as he considered that. "Very well, I agree to your terms." Elated, Jane started to rise and end this difficult interview before anything else unexpected happened, but Kenneth raised a hand to stop her. "I am not finished. I agree to your terms, up to and until I decide that the boys' home is the lesser of the two evils. At that point, I will stop and you can, as you say, wash your hands of me. Until I reach that conclusion, you have my word." The boy stood and offered her his hand.

Still stunned by this fifteen year old going on fifty, Jane instinctively took his hand. Why did she feel that she could rely on his word completely? The record said he was a skilled liar who folded, spindled and mutilated the truth to suit his own ends, and yet, Jane's every instinct told her his word was as firm and as solid as the handclasp that sealed their bargain.

Jane excused her charge to go back to his room and clean up for the midday meal. One last time, she was struck by his manners as he acknowledged her direction, thanked her and then left with quiet dignity.

"That," she said aloud to the empty room, "has to be the most unusual first interview I have ever conducted, and I am not sure just which of us is on the defensive."

Jane called Darla into the office to go over one last time the plans for her to serve and act as hostess for the very formal meal Marie planned for a student's first day. Normally, such a meal provided Jane with endless opportunities to pick at the new student's table manners, but somehow, Jane figured that she'd have to be extremely vigilant and extremely picky to find fault with this one. So much for enjoying her own meal, she grimaced. She'd just have to ask Marie to fix her a plate for her to eat while Kenneth was sleeping off the sedative-laced after-dinner wine. Desert, too. Jane really felt the need for some sugar after that quietly fierce battle of wills.

~----------~

Kenneth sat on the frilly, overdone canopy bed, staring into the open armoire. He had his hands locked together in his lap to keep them from shaking. He felt so very cold - whether that was from fear or anger - Kenneth wasn't quite sure. He'd known going into this that this was a setup, but the full scope of his Mother's plan was just becoming clear to him.

He had not all that surprised to find that his extra baggage had not been delivered to his room when he returned from his talk with Jane Thompson. After all, his Mother was the one who sent him here, leaving him with only two choices, neither of which was particularly palatable.

*What was that trial in Homer's Odyssey called?* he asked himself. The one where either choice was bad, but one of the two was unacceptably horrible? Scylla and Charybdis? That was it. One was a monster that would catch and eat some sailors if the ship ventured too close, but the other one was a huge whirlpool that would kill everyone onboard if they tried to avoid the man eating monster.

Which one of his two options, Kenneth mused, was the whirlpool and which one was merely a bloodthirsty monster? He didn't know, but he would definitely find out soon enough. Kenneth only hoped he didn't find himself being flushed down the porcelain throne before he could make the other choice.

One way or another, he promised himself grimly, he was walking away from all this when he reached eighteen, and he was walking away still a man.

A knock on his door broke through his somber mood. The younger female opened his door when he called for her to enter. She was still rigged out in that frilly thing that made her look like a satin church bell with the way her skirts flared out from her legs. She dropped him a quick curtsy and said. "The noon meal is ready to be served. Would you please accompany me to the dining room? Aunt Jane is a real stickler for being on time."

Kenneth again slipped on his suit coat, straightened his tie and checked his hair one last time before moving to follow the girl. As he closed the door, he noticed that the "keyed" side of the door lock was on the inside of the door whereas the "knobbed" side of the deadbolt was on the hall side. Doubly odd, Kenneth mused. He'd never seen bedrooms with security throw-length dead bolt locks before, either. Well, so much for privacy he thought with some resignation.

~----------~

The meal had gone precisely as Jane had feared. The extensive, formal table ware setting had not bothered Kenneth a bit. As Darla had served each course, he had unerringly chosen the correct implement each time, without once looking to see which fork or spoon Jane picked up. He'd even skipped the provided shrimp fork when no shrimp cocktail was served.

Worse, he'd politely seated Darla after she had served each course and had waited until she had served herself before he began to eat each new course. Had someone sent this boy to a summer camp run by Emily Post and if so, why hadn't she been apprized of that fact?

As Jane had expected, she had not been able to do more than nibble at her own food before it was time for Darla to clear away and serve the next course. They were on a schedule and they needed Kenneth asleep in very short order if they were to have him arrayed in his first dainties by dinnertime.

Finally, the desert course was finished. Jane made her typical spiel about how deeply in trouble Darla had been before coming to Jane and how she was now the epitome of genteel ladylike behavior thanks to Jane's tuition and to the strict Victorian code of behavior that Jane demanded of all her students.

Darla returned with a tray containing several small glasses and a crystal decanter filled with a dark, richly colored liquid. Kenneth watched with some interest as she filled the three glasses and then offered one to Jane and one to himself before placing the third in front of her own seat. Yet another oddity, Kenneth thought. Why is the stem of one of the glasses blue and the other two red? Whatever else he could say about this Jane Thompson, friend of his Mother, she was extremely well off financially. Why would she permit that Darla to use such an obviously mismatched set? Well, he wasn't going to call Jane's attention to it if she did not see it. No point in embarrassing the girl in front of her Aunt and making an enemy he did not need on his first day.

"I enjoy a nice glass of sherry after lunch, Kenneth." Jane said, recapturing his attention. "I bid you welcome to my house and offer the hope that together we can help you find your true path."

Kenneth picked up his glass, raising it in answer to Jane's and Darla's offer of the toast. Then, he watched as the two women sipped their wine before setting his own glass down untouched.

Oh no, Jane almost groaned. "Is there something wrong, Kenneth? Do you object to my toast?" she demanded aggressively.

"No, Ms. Thompson," he hastily reassured her, "it's just that I am underage - for drinking alcohol, that is."

*He's afraid I am trying to set him up by having him drink.* Jane concluded. Which of course was precisely what she was trying to do though not in the way he had supposed.

"Kenneth," Jane said soothingly. "I will never discipline you for accepting something I freely give you. It is not abnormal for young people to take a small glass of wine at the family table. In fact, many families do that so that their children grow up with an appreciation of fine wines. Go ahead and taste the wine. I am sure you will find it quite nice." And quite fatiguing, she added in her mind.

"Thank you, Ms. Thompson, but I don't drink. Not at home and not here."

*Damn*. "Come now, Kenneth, we both know that is not true." she chided gently. "At least three of the entries in your file document your underage abuse of alcohol. One of the things we may accomplish here is you learning not to abuse such beverages."

"And since it is in that file," Kenneth flared, showing signs of angry emotion for the first time, "then it must be true. Well, I have already told you that I have done nothing wrong which includes *not* having . . . how did you put it? Oh yes. . .not having abused alcohol. I don't like the taste and it tends to make me nauseous."

"I see." Jane said, frustration rippling through her from this yet another unexpected barrier to her goals. She was trying to find an alternative when Marie entered the room and whispered to her that one of her business clients was on the phone and was very upset. *Damn again!* "I have to go to my office, children." Jane said as she stood. "Darla, please clear the table and help Marie with cleanup. Kenneth, you have had a long, stressful trip. Perhaps you would like to go lay down for a while, maybe take a nap" *Please take a nap*

"Yes, Aunt Jane." Darla replied as she too stood.

Kenneth followed suit and then remembered. "Ms. Thompson? Any word about where the rest of my things are? From the train?"

Jane stopped at the door. She knew precisely the disposition of Kenneth's luggage. Marie had put his bags into the locked attic just before lunch had been served. "I will make inquiries, Kenneth, and let you know. In the meantime, I think we can provide you with something suitable. That suit has seen better days." With that, she bustled off to try to calm her client.

Kenneth found himself momentarily alone in the dining room. He looked at his untouched glass of wine and decided there was no point in wasting what was probably a very expense spirit. Carefully, he removed the stopper from the decanter and began slowly pouring his glass back in.

He was just about finished when the woman Jane had called Marie reentered the room and came to complete halt. "What are you doing??" she demanded.

Kenneth gave her a sheepish grin. "I didn't drink any of it and it seemed like a shame for it to go to waste. I figured that since the glass was clean, there was no reason not to put it back."

"I see." the older woman said in a very soft voice.

"Do you need any help before I go up to lay down, Ma'am?" he offered.

"No. . . I mean, no thank you. Darla and I are just fine. You go on up and rest. You have a full day ahead of you."

He smiled, excused himself and then left the room thinking that at least one person in this mausoleum had some innate warmth.

Marie stood there, watching Jane's newest project stroll off, obviously not under the influence of Jane's sedative. Shaking her head, she picked up the decanter and went to pour its drugged contents down the sink. Despite Jane's wealth, it felt obscene dumping one hundred twenty five dollars worth of wine down the drain like so much dirty dishwater.

And Marie had just decanted that bottle yesterday.

Then it hit her. How was she going to raid Kenneth's room to make off with the last of his boy clothes if he wasn't out cold from Jane's little potion??

~----------~

The hall clock was striking three p.m. when the three conspirators gathered in Jane's office for a short breather.

"So, you were able to get the last of his male things even without him having taken the sleeping draft?" Jane asked, relaxing for the first time since she'd gotten out of bed that morning.

Marie sipped her tea and gave her long time friend a devilish smile. "The little darling was just plain tuckered out, Jane. Travel fatigue."

"Yet another benefit of having them take the train instead of more rapid forms of transport. He was on that train for most of eighteen hours by the time he arrived and Sheila wouldn't pay for a first class seat or for a sleeping compartment." Jane smiled over her own cup.

"First boy we've ever had who turned down the chance to try drinking with the grown ups, Jane." Marie observed, still somewhat surprised.

Jane paused to consider that. "Yes," she said pensively, "that was a surprise. What concerns me is his adamant refusal to concede the truth of those files. His supposed "not drinking" is another case in point. I went back and checked - he's been punished several times for underage drinking, one time spending the night in a jail cell. And yet, he steadfastly denied that he drinks, just as he refuses to acknowledge the other charges in that book."

"Is there any chance at all that the records aren't true, Aunt Jane?" Darla asked, entering the conversation for the first time.

"I don't see how." Jane's answer was immediate and unequivocal. "If I were working with anyone other than Judge Ruth, I might have doubts. He is just so . . . so convincing, isn't he, dear?"

Darla nodded emphatically, making the intricate hairpiece adorning her head bounce wildly.

"A little less enthusiasm and a bit more decorum in your gestures, Darla. We need him to think you, like Marie and I, are fully female for the next couple of weeks. Dainty young misses do not nod their heads like a jack in the box." Jane smiled to soften the criticism of this special child, "Still, it does pose problems that he won't admit his crimes. Until he confronts them openly, we are not going to make very much progress with him."

"You going to have Darla work on him tomorrow?" Marie asked.

"Hmmmm. .. Yes, that is the normal plan." Jane said, almost to herself before focusing on the youngest participant. "Tomorrow, after her first skin-out dressing up, you will go in and coach her on the finer points of dealing with the vicious Ms. Thompson."

"Like Stephanie did for me?" Darla asked with a soft smile.

"Just so. Play it straight with her, dear. Help her all you honestly can, but it won't be enough. She'll be too emotionally mixed up and mentally off balance to absorb more than the smallest fraction of what you will impart. There will be more than enough real deportment failures for me to get into her head with. What she will need to remember is that you tried to help her and that everything you told her was true."

"So what does that have to do with him not admitting to having done all that stuff his Mother told you about?"

"Ah, therein lies the challenge for you, Darla. In the mental state we should have her in by then, you should be able to get her to admit things that she wouldn't otherwise. If we can get a recording of her confessing to the contents of those records in her own voice, we will be able to take away that defense mechanism. She will then be forced to deal with her actions and their consequences."

"And the biggest consequence of all is you, right Aunt Jane?" the pretty teen teased.

"Just so." Jane replied smugly. "Marie, if he isn't awake by then, wake him up at four thirty. That will give us a couple of hours before dinner to give him the final ultimatum so that what happens tomorrow can be laid at his door as if he had really had agreed."

~----------~

Part 3:
 
As so many young men had before him, Kenneth awoke to find the remainder of his clothes missing. Only an absurdly feminine confection of a bathrobe in slick pink satin was immediately visible, hanging from the armoire door where he'd carefully hung up his travel suit.

Kenneth took down the robe to see if his own clothes were hanging behind it, but of course they weren't. There was no sign of the suit inside the armoire, either. Only the same girl clothes that he'd originally thought might belong to the Thompson woman's niece. At least his wallet was still in the pocket of that skirt where he'd hidden it before going to bed. Perhaps they'd unpacked his duffel and put his other clothes into the bureau, he thought with little hope of that being so. His fears were confirmed when he opened the various drawers and saw that these were filled with feminine clothing items from lingerie to sweaters to stockings in a veritable rainbow of colors.

"Well," he told himself grimly, "suspicions confirmed. Now what am I going to do?"

Just then, a knock on his door was followed immediately by the sound of the deadbolt rasping open. Jane walked into the room without another sound and reached over to turn on the lights.

Kenneth instinctively hid his nudity behind the only barrier he had to hand. . . the pink robe.

Jane smiled with satisfaction at the sight of her new student cowering behind that satin robe, and moved in to press her advantage. "Stop hiding, Kenneth. Put that on and come out. I wish to talk with you some more."

Kenneth looked at her for a moment, then stepped behind the armoire and donned the garment. The slick feel of the fabric felt strange against his skin - like it might slide off him at any moment. He belted it tightly and then moved back into the center of the room to face the woman he was coming to think of as the warden.

*Remember,* Kenneth told himself, *losing your temper never works in situations like this. You cannot give a woman like this that kind of edge. Control, remember you have to stay in control!*

"You took my clothes." he accused in a quiet, direct tone. "I would like them back. I need them to wear."

"Don't be ridiculous!" Jane snapped, following her time proven script although he did not seem to be nearly as angry as she had expected him to be. "What you have on is perfectly acceptable. Aren't you covered completely? Yes, you are. Is your so-tender male modesty in anyway endangered? Of course not. Why, I can't even tell you are a boy you are covered so completely."

"You want me to wear this girl's robe?" He asked, still without any display of emotion.

"Of course. That's why it was laid out for you, so you could wear it. Now, come with me, please. No, don't bother to look for anything else. Button that up and come with me or go as you are. You won't be the first underdeveloped male body I have had to look at. Suit yourself, but you will come with me."

He stood there, staring at her for several moments and for one frozen moment in time, she feared that he was going to balk before she even had given him the final ultimatum. She had to remember the conditional nature of the promise he'd given her. She needed to get him past that quickly, force him to surrender or it would cause her major problems later. Then, his face seemed to relax and he began buttoning up the top of the robe, only once fumbling because the buttons were on the "wrong side".

"Very nice, Kenneth. You look lovely." she told him when he finished, her voice taking on that too sweet tone often used by a grade school principal when falsely praising an erring child. "Now, come with me."

Moments later, Jane had him inside her upstairs study. As planned, neither Darla nor Marie had been in sight during the boy's first walk across the fiery coals of semi-public sissy dress. Time enough for that once he was well and truly caught in Jane Thompson's satin and silk web.

"As you may or may not know, I have been and still consider myself to be a teacher, Kenneth. I just teach different subjects now and it is time for you to begin to learn the hard lessons I have to teach you. I hope you have thought about our conversation today while you rested. I must tell you that I am *not* at all fooled by your display of gracious manners since your arrival and especially during the noon meal. All you've done is exasperate me because it is patently obvious that you do not have even the unacceptably feeble excuse of not knowing any better for your past activities."

"I will now lay out the program of studies I have planned for you and I will remind you that you gave me your word to obey my directions."

Kenneth held up his hand. Frowning fiercely at him, Jane acknowledged him with a sharp nod of her head. "I gave you my word, Ms. Thompson, to obey you until I decided whether you were Scylla or Charybdis - whether you were the lesser of the two evils my mother and her judge friend have imposed on me. Rest assured, if I think you are the whirlpool, I will feel no guilt whatsoever about ceasing to obey you."

*Scylla or Charybdis?* Jane thought in amazement - a fifteen year old male comparing me to the monsters of a classic Greek epic? Jane visibly shook herself back to the task at hand. "So be it." she growled. "Until such time, you are bound by your honor - *if* you have any, to comply with my wishes."

She had him there, Kenneth realized, as much as he'd wish it otherwise. Other than putting him in this absurd robe, she had not yet done anything to him other than taunt him and make a few threats. Surely, he'd see that an more at that boys' home. Kenneth decided he'd continue to bide his time. Grimfaced, he nodded his concession on that point and it was all Jane could do not to sigh in relief.

"All right, let us begin then. You didn't like putting on that very lovely garment just now, did you?"

"Not really." Kenneth responded in the same, even tone that was beginning to really grate on Jane's nerves. *As if that is any great surprise to you, Ms. Thompson.* "I would like to know where my own clothing is, please."

"Gone until I deem you fit to wear them again." Jane said airily and was pleased to see at least a quick flash of hot anger in the normally icy grey eyes. "What's wrong with that pretty robe? As I said, it looks quite lovely on you."

"It is not mine." was the flat response. "It is a girl's robe."

"Just so," Jane said triumphantly. "Your boorish, disrespectful behavior, particularly towards the female sex, has cost you the right to dress in male clothing. While you are here, under my tuition and supervision, girl clothing is all you will be permitted to wear. By the time you have finished my program, you will as sweet, as adorable, as courteous as my lovely Darla."

Jane waited to see the time proven reaction, but she waited in vain. "I see." was all he said.

*Bloody hell!* Jane fumed. *Where is the outrage, the anger, the accusations, the _threats_. I know I am pushing all the right buttons, but except for short spurts of anger that he's quickly put under control, he hasn't reacted at all.*

"Not only that," she pushed on, trying to undermine his seemingly unnatural composure, "but we start your indoctrination immediately. Darla and Marie are preparing your first steps to girlhood even as I am speaking to you. By dinner, the boorish lout who terrorized that young girl by dragging her into the boys' lavatory will be nowhere to be found in the cute, winsome little doll we will make of you."

"And if I refuse to play along?"

Jane made a slashing motion with her hand, precluding any further protest. "We just reminded ourselves that you have promised to obey me, young man! If you refuse to follow my orders, then leave now if you that is what you think you want...but you leave here dressed as you are. I will not help you. Call someone...your Mother perhaps . . .I am sure she will happily come to your rescue out there on the roads. This punishment is my choice for you and you will bow to this decision or face the consequences."

Jane's heart nearly stopped as the self possessed young man stood and made his way to the door of her study. "And just where do you think you are going, young man? I have not dismissed you yet. Marie will not be ready for your makeover for another few moments."

He stopped at the door and turned to face Jane. "Pardon me, but I believe you just said I could leave so long as I left dressed in this thing. I choose to leave."

This had *never* happened to Jane, not in over fifty students strung out over the past fifteen years, and she *wasn't* prepared this time! In the early days, Jane had always ordered Marie to be ready to stop a boy who took her up on that offer, but she'd never been needed in that capacity. Now, Marie was on the other side of the house getting ready for a boy who just not might show up.

This was *not* supposed to happen! The entire purpose of this gambit was to force his unconditional acquiescence to her program, to gain at least the semblance of consent from her charge, by giving him only one acceptable course of action. It was *not* intended to actually be a *real* choice for him.

Jane *had* to stop him. Whatever it took, whatever she had to do, she had to stop him from trying to leave. After all, she *was* responsible for the boy and first and foremost, she *had* to see to his safety. The court order from his mother appointed Jane as the boy's legal guardian and she had just put him in danger because she hadn't been prepared. She'd gotten complacent and now this boy stood to get badly hurt because of her negligence.

*Oh, God, please let the front door be key locked.* The deadbolt lock required a key to unlock it from both the outside and the inside. Why hadn't she remembered to ask Marie to lock the front door and pocket the key while she conducted this interview?

Unfortunately, the key was still in the lock and the front door was standing open by time Jane had reached the head of the stairs. Terror gave her feet wings and she ran down the stairs, reaching the front door just as the barefooted figure in ankle length pink satin made it to the driveway. *Thank goodness it is June* she thought. *His feet would be frozen if this were December.*

"Kenneth!" she screamed. "Stop right there, young man." To her relief, he did, turning to look up at her standing on the raised porch. "You have no money. Where do you think you will go?"

"The police will eventually pick me up. Dressed as I am, they'll have to. After that, who knows. Child protection services perhaps? Surely telling me to leave without anything more than this on constitutes some type of child abuse or abandonment on your part."

Where did the boy come by his unreal control and composure? How was it that he was thinking rationally about all this? What had she done wrong? *no time to worry about that* she thought. "Well, you might wish to know that the local police are fully aware and supportive of what I do here." It wasn't quite a lie. Caro's husband, one of Jane's former students, was a deputy in the local sheriff's office. Hopefully he'd be on duty if she had to make a panicky call. "And have you considered just how dangerous it is for you to be out dressed like that?" Which was the absolute truth and what Jane truly feared.

Jane moved down the stairs to where her almost-lost student stood. Cautiously, recalling that one of the reasons he'd been sent to her was a propensity for violence, she put her hand on his shoulder and squeezed gently. "Trust me on this, Kenneth. If you do leave, one of three things will happen. You will either be brought back here to me or you will be sent off to your home for delinquent boys, or you will end up hurt or worse. It could happen, Kenneth. We've had several cases of sexual assault locally the past few weeks. You really could get badly hurt. Whatever else happens in my house, I promise you that you will not be physically harmed in any way. If not for yourself, reconsider for the sake of your mother."

The boy went rigid at the mention of his mother. At a loss, Jane continued massaging the tense muscles. Finally, he turned to face her. "So, was your statement that I could just leave a lie?"

Jane shook her head, thinking very quickly. "No, I will allow you to leave, and wearing what you are wearing, but I will have Marie drop you off a good ways from here so that the local attacks we have been experiencing are not a risk to you." *Please, please, don't take me up on that. I don't know if I could really do it and live with myself afterwards. Who are you kidding, Jane? You know you couldn't do it. Please, give me a chance to help you, Kenneth!*

"You're saying the threat of assault is real?"

"Yes, very real." Jane affirmed. "I cannot promise you will not be attacked, even well away from here, but the risk should be less. Of course, it will also mean that there will be no turning back for you; no returning here for the safety of my house. And it will mean that anyone who finally takes you in will be very unlikely to believe any stories you may try to tell about me. I will, of course, deny ever having seen you. Eventually, you might get someone to believe your wild stories. But most will not."

The frill-dressed boy stared at Jane for several moments, considering her words. Finally, he shrugged and turned back towards the house. "Very well. I will stay . . . .for now, under the same conditions as before. However, if I find out you've lied to me about this assault story, I am leaving if I have to walk out of here naked in a hailstorm."

Jane steeled herself to match his hard-eyed look without flinching, but her guilt made it difficult. "I haven't lied to you about that, Kenneth, and I will try to find the articles to prove it to you. There are and will be some things I may choose not to tell you during your stay with me, but I promise you that I will not deliberately lie to you." *And I will pray that I can keep that promise now that I've made it because I've never had to make it to a student before.*

~----------~

An hour later, Jane was busy in her office, digging furiously through the newspapers she'd retrieved from Marie's recycling bin. It had taken a while, but she had finally gotten the boy back into his room for his thirty minute bath from hell as one of her students had described the floral-scented experience. She'd have to be heading back to his room soon as the time she allotted for the bath was nearly over.

A sharp knock was followed by her door swinging wide and a very upset Darla sticking her head into the opening. "Jane, Marie needs you. Now."

Jane was running down the hall before she realized just how frightened she was. Memories of another boy - one who tried to end his life because of his reaction to her treatment - flashed vividly in her mind's eye.

What she saw in the room brought her up short and all she could do for several moments was stare. Kenneth's luxuriant hair was gone, down to bare stubble - almost white stubble. "What happened?" was all she could ask.

"What does it look like?" Marie blurted, her wildly gesticulating hands filled with locks of fine blond hairs; her normally imperceptible French Canadian accent coloring every syllable she spoke. "He shaved his head after the shampoo solution had done its work."

*Now what do I do?* Jane wailed in her mind, but in the end, all she could come up with was to ask, "Why?"

The sardonic look she got in return was of the "you have got to be kidding" variety. "I asked you a question, Kenneth." she tried again, her voice firming as she strove to regain control of the situation.

"Your nasty little trick with the shampoo made me angry, so I decided that whatever you planned to do with that mess, you'd have to find another way."

"You are forcing me to make a decision I'd rather not make, young man." Jane fumed. "Do you *want* to go to that delinquent's hall? You are about five minutes from that."

Acid burned in Kenneth's gut, and he almost regretted the rash act. He'd been so damned angry, he'd nearly pulled it out by the roots instead of merely attacking it with the razor. Should he apologize, he wondered. *No, can't do that. Can't afford to give her any advantage she doesn't already have.*

"That is your decision, Ms. Thompson, and doing this," his hand raised to brush across the peach-fuzzed head, "was my decision. I knew there was that possibility when I did it."

For one of the few times in her adult life, Jane Thompson was speechless. Every time she opened her mouth to say something, words failed her. She couldn't find any word, any phrase that was adequate to express her emotions at that moment.

She'd have to deal with this later, she decided, and continue with the plan as best they could for now. "Marie, do what you can to dress him properly. Have him at my study door in thirty minutes." she ordered in a low, angrily intense voice before striding out of the room.

~----------~

The wig Marie had put on him was a little too sophisticated for the delicately little-girlish, petticoated, taffeta sailor outfit she used as her students' first full dressing, but it was all she had brushed out and ready to wear. Per her standard script, Jane had ordered him to seat himself on the parson's bench while she "finished" her work when he'd knocked at her study door.

Now Jane was sitting quietly at her desk, contemplating the small speaker that was connected to the hidden microphone carefully secreted beneath the bench.

"Hi." Darla's voice came through clearly on the box as the second phase of this recurring drama in many parts began anew. "You missed afternoon tea. Would you like a lady finger? They're very good, even if Jane did make me bake them myself." Jane could easily visualize the sweetly smiling face, the small pastry and the boy in girl's clothing sitting awkwardly on the bench, wrinkling her petti's and skirt.

"Didn't Jane tell you to sit while you waited?"

"She did, but I decided I would stand. If I am any judge of women, Ms. Thompson plans to stand me up and put me through an inspection that would do a Marine general proud." Damn the boy, Jane fumed. She *had* ordered him to sit down for precisely that reason - so she could subject him to just such a humiliatingly intimate and *thorough* inspection. And now she couldn't even take him to task for disobeying her because that would compromise Darla in her role as the "good cop" in this little farce. Worse yet, Darla would have to continue his instruction so that he would learn the lessons anyway, but without the fault finding.

After that, Jane listened with only half an ear as Darla instructed her "little sister" in the fine arts of sitting in a skirt, of mincing delicately and other such feminine mysteries. Then Darla went into her "Oh, Jane's not that bad once you get to know her and learn to follow her rules." speech. One thing Jane did notice, to her increasing frustration, was that the recording device was picking up a near monologue by Darla. Kenneth was adding almost nothing to the conversation other than affirmative noises at key points in Darla's explanations and to ask a few polite if uncomfortably pointed and insightful questions that Darla managed to sidestep for the most part. Fortunately.

Jane decided that she needed to call today's exercises to a quick end. She needed time to regroup, time to figure out just what the hell to do to get past Kenneth's wall of composed control. She had obviously failed to put him on the defensive and he was still thinking rationally instead of emotionally; he was analyzing instead of reacting - a state of affairs that did not bode well for Jane's immediate plans.

"Did you really tell Aunt Jane that you didn't do any of that stuff in that record?"

"Yes, I did." was the Kenneth's curt reply.

"You have to admit that it's kind of hard to believe. . . I mean, Judge Ruth and Jane are very good friends. I mean, what do you have to gain by lying? You're already here and she has that file."

Jane's senses went on alert as she awaited the answer. "I have nothing to gain by lying."

"Well, then why did you? I mean, all Jane has to do is call Judge Ruth to confirm those records. And trust me, you don't want to make Aunt Jane angry."

"A better question is why would your Judge Ruth lie about me. Your Aunt Jane's not the only one who knows her. My mother is friends with her, too." Jane's hand slammed down hard on the polished hardwood desktop. How *dare* he accuse Judge Ruth of lying. Raw fury colored her vision. That damned delinquent's school was looking better and better to her every minute.

No, she told herself, she couldn't make such a far reaching decision after only one day with the boy, and most especially not when she was this furious with him. Deciding that they had learned all they were going to from this episode, Jane strode to the door and opened it. The two girlishly attired boys looked up at her.

"Kenneth, please come in. Darla, go see if Marie needs help with dinner. Tell her I want it served on individual trays tonight. You and Kenneth will dine in your respective rooms."

Jane saw the surprise in Darla's face at the unexplained change of plan, but she hurried off to comply with Jane's direction none the less.

Inside the study, Jane gestured Kenneth back into the wooden seat before sitting down herself to glare at him over her desk. She tried to make all the snide, embarrassing little "compliments" that reduced her feminized young men to near tears, but it quickly became apparent that they were having little or no visible effect on Kenneth and that her mind was not in the game.

"That is enough for today, Kenneth. Go to your room. Marie will serve you dinner there and then assist you in getting ready for bed which will, I am sure, take much longer than you might expect."

"Yes, Ms. Thompson." he responded before standing and mincing out of the room. He did it so well Jane nearly screamed.

~----------~

"He already had his make up mostly cleaned off and his dress hung up when I brought his dinner in, Jane. I don't think we've ever had a boy who came to us who was this. .. fastidious."

Jane removed the glasses she had been wearing as she continued to scan the papers and pinched the bridge of her nose. "Except when he shaves his head." She shook her head, still amazed at that. "How did he react to the dressing and making up?" Jane finally asked.

"That's something else that was really spooky. He was absolutely deadpan throughout, Jane. He did not smile, frown, grimace or anything. He just sat there staring at himself in the vanity mirror as if it wasn't anything out of the ordinary for him. Almost like he was bored with the routine of it all."

Shaking her head, Jane smiled ruefully at her old friend. "Sometimes, especially after these latest students, I think that maybe we have been doing this too long, Marie. Do you think something fundamental has changed in young men that we don't know about or am I just getting too set in my ways, and unable to react when things don't go perfectly according to plan?"

"I don't know, Jane. We have had some strange ones recently, starting with Michelle, but this one? He scares me because I don't know what he is thinking, what he is feeling. Normally I can read them pretty well, but not this one."

"So where does that leave us? I won't call Sheila and Ruth and tell them we don't think we can help this one, but Lord above, Marie, if all he is going to do is follow orders precisely, without feeling any humiliation or any other emotion from the experience, there's not much we can do with him. We need him angry, humiliated, uncertain, and so far, he's not showing any sign of those emotions."

Marie considered the amber liquid in the crystal snifter she held in her hand before looking back up to Jane. "I know. So what do we do with him? Usual plan for tomorrow?" she asked softly.

Jane thought about it a moment and then gave a very unladylike shrug of her shoulders. "Might as well. I don't think it will make things worse, and who knows, maybe the furor of the rapid change drill will trip him off so we can start doing something with him. You did force him to wear cosmetics to bed?"

Marie nodded in reply. "Wasn't much I could do to put the hair rollers on him, though. He really couldn't wear the wig to bed and there just isn't enough left to roll."

"All right, then, we will go ahead with the morning quick change drill, followed by lunch in little girl party clothes and finally Darla introducing him to the staff as Kendra."

Her longtime friend nodded her agreement. "Just one thing, Jane." Jane regarded her dear friend attentively. "Let's make sure that all three of us are close by after Darla does that first outing with him. He seems much too cool about all this, but as I said earlier, I can't read him. I am really afraid he is going to explode and tomorrow is one of those hellish experiences that has turned some of our young men violent. I want to make sure there are enough of us close by to take him down if he really loses it and goes berserk."

"You think that's likely?" Jane asked wearily.

"He's too quiet, Jane, too blase about all this. And that file says he is prone to violence if given what he considers sufficient cause."

Sighing softly, Jane nodded her agreement. "Which, of course, is precisely what we are trying to give him. Lovely. Very well, then. We'll start with him getting the "this is why we don't wear cosmetics to bed" object lesson at breakfast in my study and start the real program by nine thirty. Plan lunch for immediately after the fourth change and we'll go on from there."

"I am going to go up to bed, Jane. You should, too. Tomorrow's going to be another very long day."

"I'll be up in a few minutes, dear." Jane said with real warmth in her voice.

She sat quietly until the door clicked shut behind Marie. Once she was certain she was alone, Jane eyed the phone on her desk, thinking about what had happened that day one more time and about what might go wrong tomorrow. This one felt wrong - very, very wrong. All it would take, she reminded herself, was one phone call to Ruth and she could stop feeling like she was carrying a flaming torch into a room filled with dynamite to take inventory.

None of this made any sense. Kenneth's records described a young male who would attack, perhaps physically, when his male ego was challenged or attacked. Males, especially fifteen year old males, like the one in that file, had no reason to develop the kind of control he'd demonstrated today. Still, those records had come from an absolutely unimpeachable source.

Jane felt drained, and just for a moment, thought about calling it quits. It would be so very easy . . .so very, very easy. Judge Ruth was probably home already. Just one little phone call and the purchase of a plane ticket.

Except she'd never given up on a kid before. She'd failed a couple of times, but that was because one boy gave up on her and another lost trust in her when she'd been caught in a stupid little lie, but she had *never* given up.

Jane finished the last of her drink and stood up, stretching her long, tense body as she rose. No, she hadn't ever given up on a student, and she damned certain wasn't going to start with this one.

Making that decision lightened Jane's mood considerably. With a new spring in her stride, she moved quietly over to her own room and prepared for bed. Marie was right. They would all need rest to get through the next day.

~----------~

Part 4:
 
Kenneth lay awake in that rose scented jail cell. Jail cell was an apt enough description since that woman, Marie, had loudly locked his door from the outside after glopping make up all over his face. The old house was now quiet except for the creaks and other noises that gave such places their character.

Had he made a critical mistake by stopping when the Thompson woman had called to him? He wished he knew. God, but he felt alone. It would be so much easier to handle this if he did not feel so completely alone.

Maybe it would easier just to give in. Give her his word that he'd put up with whatever nasty little lessons she had planned. That would certainly simplify things. He honestly did not want to go to that damned home. The woman had been right about his size and his vulnerability in such an environment. Physical abuse by the larger inmates was a surety - sexual abuse was nearly as likely. What it really came down to was whether he was going to forced to dress as a girl, or was he going to be used physically as a girl?

Scylla or Charybdis? Which of his options would merely take a bite out of his soul, and which one would destroy him utterly?

*That assumes, of course, that at least one of my options _won't_ destroy me.* he thought morosely, and finally lost his day long battle to control the tears. *At least that _woman_ isn't here to see me cry. I won't _let_ her see me cry! She's dangerous and would be even more so if she thought she had reached me this way.*

Kenneth rolled out of the bed and padded over to the vanity table and looked at his reflection in the mirror. His tears had cut wide tracks down his thickly coated cheeks. *Have to take care of that or she'll know.* he thought, and began looking for that stuff his mother used to clean off her makeup. Some kind of cream, came in a little jar shaped like a tub.

After finding none of the special cream, Kenneth had scrubbed his face as well as he could with just soap and water. *Well, it's not all gone, but at least the ravages I just inflicted hide the ravages of my little crying jag. . . .better get some rest. No reason to believe tomorrow's not going to be worse than today. I will need every resource to stay in control.*

It still took many hours for sleep to come to the lonely, depressed young man.

~----------~

Jane regarded her newest protégé as he consumed his light breakfast of dark tea and fresh muffins. He had been up when she'd gone to wake him. So much for her plan to get him up barely in time to start the day so that he would feel harried and rushed in addition to dealing with her little feminine tyrannies. Evidently among his other talents was an internal alarm clock which had gotten him awake in time to shower and remove most of the cosmetics from his face. She hadn't provided him with a decent cold cream or make up remover as yet, so he still had an oddly colored face, but he was clean.

And he was rigged out in the frilly gown and peignoir set that Marie had left out for him. He'd even put the wig back on, without being told or upbraided for not wearing it. She was going to have to do something about his hair. At this rate, it would be months before he would have enough hair to style if she waited for it to grow back out, and caring for attached hair and caring for a wig were entirely different prospects.

Jane waited to begin her script for the day's planned events until Kenneth had finished reading through the articles she'd found, proving her claim that it would have been dangerous for him out on the streets.

"Thank you, Ms. Thompson, for giving me those. I will be more careful in the future."

*I am not going to give you the chance to do that again, young man!* "Well, Kenneth, if you are finished, let us begin today's program of studies. Today we are going to concentrate on clothes and cosmetics. Your face is a disgrace. You have smudges of old make up making a most . . .interesting abstract artwork of your face. You should clean your skin more thoroughly in the future."

She watched as the femininely turned out young male continued chewing the bite of food he'd taken just before she'd spoken to him (intentionally, hoping he'd try to swallow it whole or respond with his mouth full) before swallowing. Only then did he attempt to answer her. "Yes, ma'am, I know. Unfortunately, the soap did not clean it all away and I did not want to keep you waiting. I thought I would ask Marie for something better. I seem to recall my mother buying some special cream by the case for just that purpose."

Despite her years of control, Jane momentarily goggled at the boy. "Umm. ..yes. . .I see. An . . .unfortunate oversight. Now, as to our lessons for today." Jane said quickly to regain control.

"My 'English method' is designed to put recalcitrant boys such as yourself, young man, into new, alien and uncomfortable situations as a means of deterring that recalcitrance. I use petticoat discipline to force them to learn to appreciate their feminine side, and before you say anything, psychologists have shown that every person has both feminine and masculine sides to their nature. I contend that you, and other boys like you, ignore that finer aspect of your personalities. If left on your own, boys such as you grow into men who are totally insensitive to feminine things and who are disdainful of the elevated role of woman. That is unacceptable in our modern world."

"Our first lessons today, and those we shall work through in the coming days, are all about what it takes to be like a young girl of your age."

Jane paused at this point to take stock of her student and of his reaction. Nothing but attentive curiosity. How many times had she given this little speech, or one very much like it? Between her time at Eastmore working with boys whose mothers wanted them petticoated and forced to attend an all-girl school as punishment and her work here in her own home subsequent to Eastmore, easily over a hundred times. Invariably at this point, the boys had horrified looks on their faces, or were fidgeting uncomfortably about in their seats. Some even had the temerity to talk back to her which aided her cause. Such behavior gave her the opportunity to become truly scathing about their lack of deportment and manners.

But never in her experience had a student simply sat there, listening to her as if she was explaining some new and unusual scientific experiment in chemistry class. Jane's bad feelings about this whole project came back with a vengeance and she again found herself staring at the phone on her desk. Finally, she looked back at Kenneth and tried to finish the session.

"So we come to this morning's program. Young girls spend hours practicing with clothes and with makeup. Now while I don't expect you to display that same enthusiasm for the activity, it is a skill that I strongly believe is important to your development. So this morning you are going to practice getting yourself dolled up all darling and precious."

Again, no reaction. *My God*, Jane thought grimly, *what is it going to take to get through to this child and would I even have the nerve or the right to go that far if I do figure it out??*

She had to get him out of her room. She needed to think, to reflect. "Marie is now laying out your first ensemble. She has also obtained several wigs that will be appropriate to the age and style you will be wearing. She will guide you through this first session."

Jane took a sip of her tea. "Today, Marie will be your teacher. However, I am going to be the one who appraises and grades your progress. I think the first phase will take about an hour. Learn well what Marie shows you the first time, for it will be important to you later."

"After she has done with you, I will expect you to come back here for my inspection. Looking like a perfectly lovely little lady. Any questions, Kenneth?"

"No, Ms. Thompson. I understand what you are doing."

*Why do I think that you do, young man? I really do think that you do know. Oh, God* "Very well, then," Jane said briskly. "In my experience, it takes someone about half-an-hour to get dressed and made-up. After I have inspected you, you will return to your room and do it all over again. You will cleanse away all traces of the makeup you have on and redo it from scratch. New colors, new cosmetics...whatever Marie directs. Do you understand?"

"Yes, ma'am," he relied softly. "Your directions are very clear."

She glanced at the clock.

"I want to have lunch at 12:30 today. That will permit you at least four practice sessions. Go back to your room, Kenneth. Marie is waiting for you."

~----------~

Lunch was late that day and Jane was very unhappy about it. First, she was hungry having had only a croissant and a cup of tea since rising from her bed, and hunger always made Jane irritable. The second reason for her displeasure was the reason lunch was late. The only part of the morning that had gone at all well had been the two transformations Marie had done personally.

Nor had the morning's exercises gone as well as Kenneth had wished. Kenneth had been very quick to note that Marie had needed every minute of the hour Jane had allotted to her to achieve a feminine appearance that first time. It was then that Kenneth had understood just how impossible complying with Ms. Thompson's orders truly was. There was simply no way he could replicate in thirty minutes what it had taken a very good, very experienced cosmetic artist almost sixty minutes to achieve. He'd just have to do his best and refuse to let her demands compromise his own self-image.

That resolution was much easier to make than to accomplish. Despite Kenneth's willing compliance with Marie's demands, Jane's sarcastic comments had found fault with every detail of his appearance. It wasn't his fault that his eyebrows were not slim and arched. It wasn't his fault that his fingernails were trimmed closely. It wasn't his fault the dress did not hang on his boyish figure like it would on a real girl. Yet Jane made it seem as though all these, and a host of others infractions as well were deliberate defiance on his part, soon to send him packing to the unimaginably evil reform school Kenneth's mother had selected.

The screaming, adrenaline-fueled demand within his body for action to fight this unfair attack on his dignity had no outlet from behind his rigidly calm exterior. Instead, his stomach began to churn with turmoil that would cause an ulcer if it continued. That sent discharges of excess acid into his bowels, which began to cramp and spasm. No sooner was he out of the Thompson woman's lair after his first inspection than his stomach lurched and he'd barely made it to the safety of his bathroom in time to lose his breakfast, mercifully without too much loss of dignity. Once he'd emptied his stomach, he'd had to drink some water just to hold off the dry heaves. That necessary detour had cost him almost ten minutes while repairing the ravages to his face had taken the other five. An effort which had been to no real purpose since the first thing Marie would make him do was clean off his make up.

By the time he'd left the safety of his bathroom, there was no way he could meet the half hour time limit, so he hadn't bothered to try. It was during that particular dressing that it had occurred to him that the only ones who would see him already knew what was going on. Regardless of what they said or did to him, it really didn't matter. Hadn't the Thompson woman promised that he would not be harmed here? All that left her were her sharp tongue and her "little lessons", and he had been through worse - much worse - in the past.

So he'd just played her game, albeit a little differently than what Ms. Thompson had likely anticipated. Being late instead of being sloppy left her having to ad lib her little tirades which blunted their impact - at least somewhat.

Standing up under Jane Thompson's scathing diatribe about his lack of courtesy in keeping her waiting, his willful disobedience of her orders, and his incredible insensitivity in using that "women are always late" stereotype had stretched his control to the limits. God, but the woman didn't just chew him out, she chewed all around and let it fall out.

Then Jane had gotten really creative. "If you are going to continue to be late primping, young man," her words in the sickly sweet tone Kenneth already recognized as bad news, "then we will see to it that you have something worthy of the effort!"

Jane had accompanied him back to his bedroom that time and had huddled with Marie while he'd hurriedly cleansed his face. When Marie returned to the vanity, she had a small box and a tube of something that looked like and smelled like modeling glue. In very short order, Kenneth was sporting a set of fingernails only a teenage rock singer could love.

Those damned inch long nails had been impossible. He couldn't touch anything without snagging the bloody things on something. He'd destroyed the stiff laced collar of a Victorian blouse when he'd tried to button the thing, and broken off one of the nails in the process. After that had been replaced Marie had finally been forced to help him into his hose after he'd managed to run the first four pairs with those claws.

Upon entering Jane's study for his third inspection of the morning, she'd immediately set him to work doing some filing for her in her relatively simple file system. Simple that is, if a person could get the blasted drawers open. Which Kenneth had been completely unable to do, breaking two more of the seemingly fragile nails in very short order. Jane had really lit into him for that, after making him replace each one under the daunting stare of her basilisk eyes.

The terrible unfairness of that attack, when they both knew he had no chance at all of succeeding, had nearly set off his temper. Restraining himself had cost him another lengthy trip to the bathroom to vent his anger by trying to rend one of the towels with his bare hands as he unsuccessfully fought back against a desperate bout of tears.

Worse, Kenneth had poked himself painfully in the eye with one of the nails as he'd tried to take off the makeup. He'd been nearly blind in that eye for that entire dress-up session The only positive to that was that Marie had concluded that his eyes were tearing so badly because of the eye poke, and not because he'd been reduced to tears by the Thompson woman's vile tongue.

Kenneth was late arriving at Jane's study for his fourth examination, this time struggling not to keel over and break an ankle on the stilts Jane had insisted he wear for that presentation. The damned things had to be almost three inches tall. He just couldn't find his balance in them, and felt like he was always just one slight misstep away from falling. Jane had been at her very best during that session, berating him constantly for his lack of grace and for his inattention to learning any. She'd had him walk about her study for what seemed like hours (although the hall clock indicated he'd been inside her lair for less than fifteen minutes) with a large dictionary balanced on his head.

Well, almost balanced, Kenneth admitted to himself, since the thing fell off his head numerous times, twice falling onto one of his exposed toes and nearly toppling him. Only Jane's quick action on each of those occasions had saved him from serious injury.

Now he was sitting at the formal dining table, feeling incredibly foolish in this refugee-costume from a "Through the Looking Glass" production. Marie had been waiting to rig him out in that particularly frilly outfit after his escape from the high heeled session. At least he hadn't been made to present himself in the study for a fifth inspection while wearing that dress. Jane had wanted her lunch more than she'd wanted to chastise him.

Kenneth was trying to appear interested in his food, but he wasn't. The morning's trials combined with the effort put forth to hide his reactions from Jane and Marie had left him a very uncertain stomach. To compensate, Kenneth had carefully selected the blander offerings while pushing the less digestible morsels around his plate. Jane had noticed, of course, and had taken that opportunity to compliment him on his dainty appetite "So very necessary for keeping your cute girlish figure, dear.", but that had been her only really pointed dart of that meal. Ms. Thompson had been far more interested in her own meal than in sniping at her new student.

Thank God.

Jane recognized that lunch had been an unusually quiet affair for a training meal at the Thompson table, but she'd simply been too hungry to keep up her normal banter and social corrections. By the time she'd taken the edge off her own appetite, the meal had been for all intents and purposes complete and she had to shoo the children back to their rooms to put on their sun dresses for Kendra's introduction to the groundskeeper staff.

*Well, at least he has not exploded like Marie had feared he might, but as she also said, what comes next is the most likely trigger for such an eruption. I will have to make sure Marie knows when they make the turn back towards the house.*

~----------~

"What happened, Marie?" Jane asked as soon as the two girls were out the front door. "Why did you let him change the schedule?"

The other woman snorted and gave her friend a little shrug. "He spent the first ten minutes after each of your sessions in the bathroom. I checked and the odor was unmistakable. Either you were reaching him to the point of nausea or he was fighting some type of stomach ailment."

"Which do you think it was?" Jane asked excitedly, hoping that this was a sign her program had worked better than she had first thought.

"I'm still not sure, Jane. At first, I thought it was his reaction to you, but then he ate so poorly at lunch - like every bite might come right back up. You weren't badgering him at lunch, so wouldn't he have wanted to eat if you had been the cause of his upset?"

*Damn* "Perhaps. Or perhaps he hadn't fully recovered by the time we sat down to table. So, that is why he was late? You gave him the full half hour after he exited the bathroom? Because he was sick and you knew he couldn't make the half hour under any circumstances?"

"Not quite, Jane. I actually tried to press him on time, to get him to hold to the original half hour regardless of his time in the bathroom. I hoped that if he was particularly unacceptable, you might be able to really cut him down, might finally begin to reach him." Marie's shoulders drooped, "It didn't work. He just continued on with his dressing and making up as if I had not said a thing to him. He just stayed focused on what he was doing and left when he thought he was ready. Jane, I have never had a boy do that before. By the time we get to this point, they are so terrified of you and the browbeating you will give them, they just panic when the time limit approaches."

"As you well know, that panic is much of the intent of this exercise. So, even if the boy did have a nervous attack, he did not show any of it to me, and he refused to be panicked into rushing." Jane shook her head. "Lord, Marie. Why in heaven's name does a boy of fifteen need that kind of self control? More to the point, how ever did he develop it in the first place?"

"I don't know, Jane. I just think it is odd that he shows it here with us when there is no indication of any such control in the records from Judge Ruth."

"Good point." Jane wondered what to do next. "Of all the exercises this morning, I think the physical discomfort of the high heeled session bothered him the most. Certainly, it was physically difficult for him. I may do an evening session with him, Marie, to see if I can use that discomfort to weaken his resistance."

"Discomfort? You know very well that those heels rapidly become much more than merely uncomfortable. That is why you always work the boys up to them slowly. Not only that, but that pair is brand new and very stiff."

"I am not going to let him be hurt, Marie. His feet will ache a little in the morning, but I won't press him beyond his threshold of real pain. You know I don't work like that. I just want something to distract him enough that he loses some of that control."

"How long?"

"For as long as he can go without real pain or for as long as it takes, which ever comes first."

"I'm betting this one will drop first." Marie muttered darkly.

"I hope you're wrong, dear." Jane murmured back. "I am not sure I don't agree with you, but I do hope you are wrong."

~----------~

As they'd agreed the night before, both Marie and Jane were waiting when the two students reentered the house. Jane searched Kenneth's face for any sign of the fury that should be there after having been introduced to men as a girl using a girl's name. Once again, however, as had been the case from the moment she'd first laid eyes this boy, Jane found nothing of what she sought to see in him.

"Thank you, Darla, for showing me around. That was a very nice walk. Perhaps we can do it again tomorrow?"

"Of. . .of course." Darla stammered. "At least, as long as Aunt Jane doesn't have other plans for us." She added recovering quickly.

Kenneth, now Kendra, turned to face Jane. "Are there any more lessons scheduled for today, Ms. Thompson?"

Jane swallowed hard and shot a worried glance to Marie. There was no way she was doing anymore with this boy today. She needed some time to think. "Not immediately, my pretty, probably after dinner. You may assist Marie in cooking the evening meal. Knowing how to properly prepare and present food is something every young girl should know."

"Yes, Ma'am." he responded. "Ms. Marie? What can I do to help? I must warn you that I haven't had much time in the kitchen, but I would like to learn how to cook."

"Certainly." Marie rasped out. "Please follow me."

Jane and Darla silently watched the pair go into the kitchen, and then Jane beckoned the girl into her office.

Once the doors were closed, Jane rounded on Darla, "What in the bloody hell happened out there?" Her language was a measure of just how rattled Jane truly was.

"He introduced himself." Darla replied flatly, "Or at least he tried to."

"What do you mean by 'he tried to'?"

"Just what I said. He walked over to old Tom, held out his hand and said, "hi, I'm Ken."

Jane groaned, her eyes closing tight as she fought to stave off the invasive tendrils of an incipient migraine. "Ken?" was all she could manage to say. What was she going to do? If those men put two and two together and came to the conclusion that if *one* of her 'girls' was actually a boy, it would not be all that great a leap of intuition for them to decide that many if not all of her students had been skirted boys. At the very minimum every new student would be under dangerously closer scrutiny during those introductions at the very earliest, most inept moments of their masquerade. It would only be a matter of time before the entire community knew all or part of the truth. Which would be the end of everything.

"I think I saved the day, but it was too darned close." Darla continued in a very tight voice. "I said, loudly enough for both men to hear, something to the effect that "Now, Kendra, you *know* that Jane doesn't like you using that nasty boy's nickname and remember, you *did* promise to go by your given name while you are here." Anyway, I think they believe she is just another of your charm schoolers, but one who doesn't yet have the nose- in-the-air arrogance your students are known for in town. They just figured she was an unusually friendly girl who had always been called "Ken"-short-for-"Kendra" before she came to learn at your feet."

"Hopefully, that will be enough." Jane shook her head. "Good job, Darla. Go up to your room and rest, dear. You look exhausted."

"Thanks, Aunt Jane, I think I could use a nap." and Darla turned towards the door, but then stopped. "Jane?"

"Mmmm. .. Yes, dear?" she answered absently.

"She's not acting at all like that file of yours said she would. He's been nothing but perfectly polite and courteous to Darla. If you'll recall, even I threw a tantrum when Stephanie named me Darla for Old Tom. He just lets it all flow off his back. It just doesn't get to him or matter that much to him."

"And it definitely should be getting and mattering to him." Jane replied emotionally. "Every bit of experience I have in this type of psycho-dramatic event tells me he should be a face- slapped quivering mass of human clay right now, ready for me to start molding and refining him, first into a girl and then into a decent man."

"It would be getting to him, Jane," Darla said in a very soft voice, "If he was what that file says he is. If he's not what the file says he is, then the important question is what is he really?" And then she made her way quietly out of the room.

~----------~

Jane stared out her window watching the setting summer sun in the west as she held the phone to her ear. The buzzing ring sang four times until -{buzzzzzz} You have reached the Roberts residence. I am not available to take your call. Please leave you name, number and a short message at the tone. I will return your call as soon as possible. {ding} --

"Sheila, this is Jane Thompson. Please call me immediately, whenever you get in. It is vitally important. Thank you." and then she hung up.

"*DAMN*!" she snarled before punching in another phone number. The phone on the other end only rang once before it was picked up and a bored female voice answered. "County Courthouse. How may I direct your call, please?"

"Judge Ruth's chambers, please."

Moments later, another woman picked up the phone. "Judge Ruth's chambers, may I help you?"

Jane recognized the voice of Ruth's long time law clerk who had been kidnaped by Darla's criminal older brother during her ward's early days in her keeping. "Hello, this is Jane Thompson. I need to speak with the Judge, please."

"I am sorry, Ms. Thompson, but the Judge is out of town at a retreat. I expect her back on the day after tomorrow.'

"I see. Look, it is very important that I reach her. Could you please give me a number where I can reach her?"

"I am sorry, Ms. Thompson, but this is one of those places that pride themselves on being isolated and unreachable. The only phone is in the main office and they normally refuse to call in guests. She has her cell phone, but it doesn't seem to work up there in the mountains."

"Blast. All right. Please leave her a message to call me. I consider the matter to be quite urgent."

Jane hung up the phone, knowing no more than she had half an hour ago. Should she keep trying for a break through with Kendra and work her tonight as she and Marie had planned earlier? Or should she back off until she could discuss this with Ruth and Sheila? On one hand, she trusted Ruth and her judgement implicitly, and yet, she found herself agreeing with Darla's assessment that everything they had seen of the boy was at odds with what had been written about him. Not only that, but Ruth had never before been far from the phone during the first critical days of one of her referral's tenure with Jane. Just in case she had to sign the papers vacating the suspension of sentence and sending the miscreant to jail.

Perhaps it was nothing, but still . . . that did not feel right. That was not at all like Ruth. Lord, hadn't she delayed one boy's arrival at Jane's until she could be available to Jane? As for Sheila. . . well, she'd probably get back to Jane as soon as she got in for the evening.

"Can he really be that good at putting on his company manners?" Jane asked the empty office. "He must be - there's just no other explanation. If I am to believe his file, he is a superb liar and wouldn't this behavior be just another kind of lie?"

And if that was the case, what could she possibly do that would break through his web of deceit?

~----------~

Part 5:
 
Kenneth, now Kendra after his last interview with the Thompson woman, lay clean-faced on his bed, wearing only the light cotton panties and training bra he'd been directed to wear constantly. It had been an enlightening day. He was now convinced he knew why he'd been sent here. Knowing that, he had to decide whether he wanted to stay here and put up with that ex-schoolmistress and her vile little lessons, or whether it was time to bail and go to that damned delinquent's home.

He'd probably elect to stay on here, despite her so-called "petticoat discipline" program. It was dead certain that the physical amenities at this prison would beat the ones at the home all to hell. The bed was comfortable, the food was great and the bath water was always hot. Heck, even the clothes were always clean, even if they weren't his first choice in attire.

Besides, something in the way Jane Thompson had promised him that no physical harm would come to him while he stayed with her made him want to believe her. There was no doubt in his mind that no one at that boys' home could or would make a similar commitment to him.

Not that her other little games weren't effective. She could probably give him Mother lessons and Kenneth had always thought she had such pointed little torments perfected. Jane had definitely reached him on numerous occasions that day. He'd almost snapped back at her after one too many of her unrelenting and condescending compliments.

Except he'd managed, by the barest of margins, to control his temper each time and that was when he saw the first signs of frustration in the woman. He'd correctly deduced that her intention was to make him angry, to make him stop thinking. Which made him all the more determined to keep a cool head and a rational outlook.

That, however, was far more easily said than done. As much as he knew everything he'd faced that day was all just a setup, as much as he knew there was nothing he could do, one way or another, to ever satisfy the woman, *not being able to do so* still made him feel like a failure. . .made him feel somehow inadequate.

Which was just plain stupid, but that was how he felt.

His instep, toes and ankles still ached a bit from his forced perambulations about the study in those damned heels. That was another sore spot since his ineptitude in the damn things had provided Ms. Thompson with plenty of opportunities to denigrate his performance. That patently unfair attack had nearly made him lose it, but he'd almost fallen on his face when he'd tried to spin around to confront his tormenter. Just as well he'd been in the heels, he mused, catching himself had given him the break he needed to bolster his control. The fact that Jane had been truly concerned for him until she saw he was mostly all right had also helped.

That was something totally unexpected since Kenneth knew this woman was his Mother's friend. Maybe Jane Thompson wasn't quite the bitch he wanted to believe she was. He'd have to think on that one, too.

The trip outside had been another kettle of fish altogether. There were other people outside. That was very scary, but he'd given his word so he'd gone along. Kenneth had come as close to a panic attack as he had in his life with that Darla female had maneuvered them over to where that old gardener and his helper were digging in those flower beds. Only the girl's surprisingly strong grip on Kenneth's elbow had kept him from heading for the hills. It immediately became clear that little detour was intentional, and that for whatever reason, Darla was going to force the issue of introducing him to those men.

At that point, Kenneth concluded that the gardeners where either aware of what was happening to him or that they too were unwitting pawns in Ms. Thompson's little game of chess. He'd introduced himself as Ken deliberately. If the men knew about the masquerade, he expected that they'd be very surprised to hear him use a male name. If they weren't aware of what was going on, their reactions would have been completely different.

In fact, Darla had jumped in with her little diversion, insisting that Kendra stop that tomboy nonsense and start using her 'real' name. That, along with the forced confrontation with the men, while clearly protecting Kendra's male identity, also proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Darla was in on Jane's little conspiracy. She was not an innocent dupe as Kenneth had originally thought. Nope, that stunt of forcing the introductions put dear, sweet little Darla squarely on the side of the gals in the black hats in Jane Thompson's little melodrama.

Which seemed odd now that Kenneth had time to consider that. Why would Jane use a young girl in this escapade? Everything he knew about girls his own and this Darla's age was that they had a very difficult time keeping secrets from other girls their age. Which did not fit the facts as he knew them at all. Kenneth was fairly certain that not many folks knew what was going on here. For one thing, security was just too good. They were miles from the nearest neighbor and there had not been any visitors. That might not matter all that much, given that he'd only been here two days, but he'd watch for that in the future.

The second thing was that he found it hard to believe that a "program" like the Thompson woman ran could last any length of time if the general populace knew about it. Too many macho-guy- crazies and religious right-wingers would go right over the edge if they had even a glimmer of what she did here. She'd be lucky not to be run out of town on a rail after those groups got done with her.

So either Darla was an unusually good secret keeper for a girl her age or Jane Thompson had something on her that guaranteed her silence. Kenneth wondered what that something could be as he scratched the tender skin on his shoulder that had been irritated by that damned bra strap.

A thought occurred to him and Kenneth's hand stopped in mid- scratch. Could that be it?, he asked himself as he craned his head to look directly at the brassiere. Could it really be that simple, that Machiavellian? It would all make sense if Darla wasn't a girl at all, but was just another, further along victim/student of Jane Thompson's charm school for wayward males. Good old Darla had to zealously guard Kenneth's secret because it was her secret, too. Very interesting. That also meant he was not quite as alone as he had initially thought he was in this house.

Kenneth quickly reviewed his few direct interactions with the girl. In the end, he was forced to admit that nothing in her looks or behavior disproved her apparent gender, one way or the other. However, at least now he knew to look, carefully, for any anomaly that pointed to Darla's real sex. At least that would be no particular hardship. Girl or cross-dressed guy, the lovely Darla was eminently watchable.

Even if he was wrong, just concentrating and thinking about what was going on had helped calm him, helped him regain his control. *Now, if I can just hold out a little longer. Maybe she'll run out of dirty tricks*

*Suuurrrre she will," Kenneth sighed *NOT!*

~----------~

"So, you've been unable to contact either woman?" Marie asked.

"No. Only the investigator got back to me. He'll be in Kenneth's home town late tomorrow afternoon and will start making his inquiries as long as the public buildings remain open. I don't know what has happened to Sheila so I've asked the investigator to check on her whereabouts in case something has happened to her. As for Ruth, she won't be back until after tomorrow, which raises the question of what do we do next."

"How so?"

"Normally, our little miss-to-be would be completely cowed by now - willing to accept my program without question in order to avoid being revealed publicly as a sissy-boy, or worse, as a boy masquerading as a girl. Whatever Kenneth is feeling right now, cowed he isn't. His male pride is not broken. . . it's not even showing any cracks. In some particularly tough cases, when the boy was resisting me fiercely, we'd get out the long wearing cosmetics, curl his hair, put him in some very feminine slacks and a blouse and take him off to the mall. Let the young rowdies of the town come down on him for his sissy looks and manner."

"But you don't think that would work on him, either?"

"He's not resisting, Marie. He's not demanding his boy clothes back. He's just going along with whatever we tell him to do and not letting it bother him, somehow, or acting like it doesn't bother him. I've seen this in boys before, but usually only after they've been here long enough to start getting comfortable the masquerade and begin to feel safe here around the house. Then they think they can out-patient me without making any real changes in themselves. Again, we put those boys in a public situation as very feminine, sissy boys."

"What are our options, then? Write him off as a lost cause and send him to that house-thing?"

"I am not yet considering that, not when I have at least two other options. One is that we do nothing until we talk to his Mother and Ruth. The incredible disconnect between the way he behaves and those records is beginning to seriously bother me. Couple that with the fact that Ruth has *never* been unavailable during a student's first week and *that* feels very wrong to me. Waiting until we can talk with those two has the advantage of resolving our uncertainty about his observed behavior versus his recorded behavior. Unfortunately, that solution means we don't do much in the way of effective training tomorrow which means a lost day during that normally critical first week of the program."

"As you just pointed out, it's not as if he's into the swing of things, Jane." Marie scoffed. "The first week is only critical if we are accomplishing anything. We aren't. What is the other alternative?"

"Try another tactic to break him down. Obviously he feels safe and in control here. He willingly introduced himself to old Tom. All I can think of is to take him out of this apparently safe haven and try again. I am thinking of taking him to the Chalet tomorrow and turning Caro and Sandy loose on him. *Really* turning them loose on him. He needs hair anyway. Wigs don't give him any practice with hair care and it will be months before he has any of his own to play with. Let Sandy have her little hand restraints ready to go if she needs them and really attack his male self image."

"That could be very dangerous, Jane, if he really is as prone to violence as those records say he is."

"I know. That's why I said for Sandy could use the restraints on him. If we go, we'll be started before normal working hours and I'll explain everything to Caro and Sandy first so that they can bow out if they feel they can't be involved with something like this. Besides, *nothing* we've seen so far shows anything like that kind of violent behavior."

"Caro and Sandy were both quite devastated over Michael's suicide attempt immediately after they had given him such a hard time that first visit. Besides, if he does lose it, you are going to have to free him eventually. Its not like we can keep him tied in that chair for the next five months." Marie reminded Jane who did not really need the warning. "I am not at all sure Caro will want to help with something like this. Sandy maybe, but I don't think Caro will like it very much."

"Lord, Marie, *I* don't like it very much, but I just can't quit trying - that's not fair to the boy or to me. Waiting a day before doing anything is *certain* to accomplish nothing. At least this has a chance, however minimal that chance may appear given what we have seen of Kenneth, of accomplishing something." Jane wound down and saw Marie's highly skeptical frown. "Look, I am going to call Caro and talk to her. If she says no as I suspect at she very well might once she knows the situation, then I will wait until Ruth gets back before doing anything new with him. We can keep him busy doing the clothes/make up drill again, but we won't press him beyond that. How does that sound?"

"Like you had best take your cannister of pepper spray in your purse if you take him to the Chalet tomorrow."

"Think I might need it, Marie?"

"I don't know and that is what bothers me. Anything is possible with his one, Jane. At least until we can begin to predict what he'll do next with any degree of success we need to be prepared."

Jane sat quietly for several moments, not saying anything more. Finally she stirred and reached for the phone. "Well, we won't know until we ask. As I recall, this is Caro's night to work late at the shop." she said as she began to type in a number."

"Jane, wait." Marie called. "Isn't there anything else we can do? Anyone we can call to at least partially confirm or refute that file?"

"The only people I know in that town are Ruth and Sheila. I have no other official contacts in that town who would be willing to discuss a juvenile's case with me over the phone. Calling the investigator is all of I can think of on that score. Now the question is whether we should go forward with the salon visit or should we wait until we have a definitive answer?"

Marie shrugged. "That's up to you and Caro, Jane. You two will be the ones on the hot seat if everything he's shown us to this point is an act. If it isn't an act and those records aren't true, what would be the danger of doing the salon trip?"

"If the records are false? After what we've already done to him today with those inch long fingernails and those ridiculously high heels? Only that we will have put an innocent young man through our program which a court of law might mistakenly call abusive. Oh well, I can't see that we'd be any more open to legal action than we already are. Being sued is being sued. If it comes to that, I can probably protect Caro and Sandy."

"They need to know the truth, Jane, and the possible dangers before they agree to take him on."

Nodding her agreement, Jane picked the phone back up and pecked out a number.

"Marisha Chalet, Carolyn Beale speaking. How may I help you?"

~----------~

As was her habit, Jane knocked on Kendra's (*have to keep reminding myself to use that name now. Its never been this difficult to remember that before*) room and walked in before being given leave to enter. She'd almost argued herself out of this evening exercise period since she was now planning a salon trip for the next day. Jane still wasn't sure that her planned session was all that good an idea. There was no reason to think it would work tonight any better than it had during their morning session. On the other hand, he, or rather *she* would be all the more susceptible to Sandy's caustic tongue and Caro's devastating complements if he was already tired, edgy and irritable when he walked through the door.

She found her student laying sprawled on top of her bedspread, attired only in bra and panties, staring at the top of her bed's canopy. "Do you think that your attire is appropriate, Kendra?" Jane demanded sharply.

Kendra turned to face Jane as if realizing for the first time that she was no longer alone and slowly rose from the bed. Without a word, she walked over to the vanity and picked up the robe that hung neatly across the back of the elegant little chair and donned it. "I was not expecting visitors, Ms. Thompson, and I thought that I would have time to put on the robe before anyone who knocked would actually enter the room."

Jane had to admire the austerely polite, chilly tone the girl affected to let her obviously unwelcome visitor know she had invaded Kendra's privacy without permission. *Well, Sheila was the Mistress of the cutting set down. It's not too surprising that her child should also have developed the technique. Sad, since it means she has seen and perhaps been on the receiving end of her mother's ire, but not too surprising. I wonder if dealing with Sheila is at the heart of her unusual maturity and control? Still, I can't let her get away with that kind of behavior.*

"Be that as it may, Kendra, you are not some rough boy to lie about in your underwear. Underwear is only to be seen in transition in my home, that is, while taking off one outfit and putting on another. Otherwise, you will be appropriately covered at all other times. Do you understand?"

"I see." Kendra said. "I had thought I was in compliance with your direction to always wear the brassiere."

"Don't get snippy with me, young miss!" Jane snapped. "You *know* that my intentions are for you to live and behave as a proper young lady at *all* times. Lying about in your unmentionables is not proper, regardless of the circumstances. Making such fine distinctions that follow only the absolute letter of a law or direction while ignoring their intent is a large part of why you find yourself here under my tuition."

The unfairness of it all finally began to reach the girlishly dressed boy. "But I have done everything you told me to do." he flared back.

*At last* Jane thought. "NO. . . YOU . . . HAVE . . . NOT!!" she said in a loud, commanding voice. "You have only done those things that you were specifically ordered to do in blunt terms, but you have not done what you know I wanted done."

Shock at her tone flashed across the girl's make up-free face, followed by anger and then the return of that unbelievably mature control. "Then perhaps, Ms. Thompson," she replied in incredibly soft, demanding tones, "You could more clearly layout your wishes and directions, so that my poor male intelligence can grasp them."

Jane glared at her student for several long heartbeats, waiting for her to flinch away. *But you won't, will you?* she mused. *What is the matter with your face, Kendra? What am I seeing or not seeing?*

Shaking off the question, Jane returned to the attack. "I want you to become a sweet, biddable, courteous young woman. You've proven you cannot behave like a gentleman, so your only chance to avoid the delinquents' home is to comply with my wishes, young miss - not just the letter of them, but what you know to be their intent, as well. Your lack of the most basic courtesy, manners and deportment must be remedied or else; and I see the constraint of skirts, petticoats, lingerie and feminine behaviors and rituals to be the only path to that goal."

Jane saw a deep disgust pervade the girl-boy that not even Kenneth could control, and yet, she knew in some way beyond the norm, that it was not self disgust. When he spoke, his voice cracked from the emotion he was trying almost successfully to repress. "You say, Ms. Thompson, that I have to become more courteous. . that my deportment needs improvement. Tell me, please," he asked with heavy sarcasm, "what I have failed to do properly since I have arrived. How have I been in any way impolite? To you, whom I have every reason to detest, or to your housekeeper. . . . . . " Kendra decided to take a chance, "or to your other skirted sissy boy out there?"

Jane's momentary speechlessness gave Kendra the answer she had expected. "What. . .what ever. . .What other skirted sissy boy?"

"Darla." Kendra said in flat conviction. "It is the only thing that makes any sense. You could not do what you are doing to me with a real girl in the house. Too complicated."

Jane's mind raced, trying to figure out some way to convince Kendra otherwise, but she couldn't. No other boy had ever figured out the truth about his big sister before Jane was ready for him to know it. She had no pre-existing plan for this contingency. "Believe what you will, Kendra, it makes no difference to your own situation. As to your behavior since your arrival here, it has been adequate - barely. You will improve in all areas of your new feminine existence - behavior, mannerisms and conversation, deportment, personal presentation in both fashion and in make up."

"You will comply with my standards, Kenneth." Jane added in a much quieter, almost conciliatory but no less commanding voice. "You will become what I make you. You will do it perfectly *and* you will enjoy doing it or you won't leave. Except to go to that home, and let me warn you, Kendra. If I decide you are beyond redemption in my program, when you leave here, you will leave here as you are right now. You will face all those young toughs with shaved legs, red fingernails and fine plucked and shaped brows. Think on that one for awhile."

For several long moments, the two antagonists stood there, staring at each other. Finally, Kendra spoke and in a hard, very male voice. "Then I will be here until I am 18 years old when you and my mother cannot keep me here any longer. Then god help you both *and* that judge friend of yours. Until then, I will do my best to be what you *intend* me to become."

Jane stared at the robed figure in front of her, and came to a decision. She had to keep pressing this one. She simply had to do something to reach the fragile, vulnerable spirit everything she'd learned in the past twenty years told her was hiding beneath the surface.

"Very well, if that is your plan, then we may as well get started. Go to your vanity, young miss. I want to see you reproduce the "afternoon high tea" make up job that Marie showed you today." Jane ordered as she went to the armoire and rummaged about its base. When she stood, Kenneth saw the three inch open- toed heels in her hands, and groaned inwardly. "When you're finished, put these on and report to my study."

Jane stopped to watch her student's surprisingly deft movements with brush, pad and tube. He was starting to make up his eyes when Jane suddenly realized what she has seen wrong in his face earlier. Without making another comment, Jane slipped from his room and went to her study.

Sitting down at her desk, Jane considered the ramifications of what she'd just seen. Kendra's eyes had been red-rimmed, and the only thing that did that to a young person's eyes were tears. Lots of tears. Jane had not noticed that redness before was because this was the first time today that she'd seen the girl in anything less than full make up.

But when had she cried? She certainly hadn't cried in Jane's presence, and Marie would have remarked upon it if she had seen the girl in tears.

That meant that Kendra had been crying when Jane was not there to see it, that she *had* in fact reduced the girl to tears, and not just once or twice by the look of those eyes. One of her girl- boys crying was not unusual, in fact, it was one of the reactions Jane strove to evoke, particularly in these early days of a student's tuition with her. Crying meant that the boy had been forced to find some way, other than violence, to deal with his more negative emotions. That was one reason she tried to provoke her boys to near violence early in the program so that she could brutally put down that response, thus leaving her emotionally charged subjects with virtually no other release except tears.

Kendra had been crying - not in front of witnesses - but she had been crying. That *really* did not fit the profile. Kendra should have needed to be slapped down hard for attempting something physical in retaliation before she should have broken into tears. Perhaps she'd gone after Marie or Darla? No, that didn't make sense - either of them would have told Jane if she had.

That meant Kendra was dealing with her dark side nonviolently, that she had been doing so since the moment she'd stepped off the train, despite everything Jane had done in her attempt to provoke her to violence. Not only that, Jane knew from long experience that once a boy began to cry for her, he almost never responded with physical violence again.

This is, Jane told herself grimly, just one more thing that flies in the face of everything in that damned file. Could someone, somehow have mixed up Kenneth's records with someone else? That made no sense, either, especially since so many of those records had his name on them. Jane shook her head in frustration. She could either believe the evidence of her own eyes and conclude that sending him here had been a dreadful mistake; or she could believe the evidence of the records, and conclude that his behavior here had been an Oscar-winning performance.

*No* one is that good an actor, and how could he have known to cry as part of his "role"? Something was seriously wrong with this whole scenario and *none* of the people who could help her untangle things was available to her.

A rap on the door stopped her circular mind chase. "Enter." she called sternly, and then watched as Kendra minced into the room, still fighting the heels, but much improved since earlier that day. *I am going to press him harder* she decided. *I will keep on him until late and then wake him up early for tomorrow's day at the mall. A little sleep deprivation should help bring the *real* Kenneth Roberts just a little closer to the surface. Whoever that real person really is.*

Jane made a note to warn Caro and Sandy that Kendra would be very tired tomorrow, and to take special care when really pushing hard on her buttons.

"Get your dictionary, Kendra. Your performance this morning was unacceptably graceless. We will spend a few profitable hours helping you learn to move properly in your pretty heels."

*A few hours?!?* Kenneth thought appalled. *It's already after nine p.m., and she wants to practice for a few more hours? Oh, my feet will never recover.*

"Yes, Ms. Thompson." Kenneth replied dully as he made his slow, painful way over to the bookshelf.

~----------~

It was after midnight when Jane had finally called a halt to what Kenneth had titled high heeled extreme powerwalking. He hoped he'd be able to walk - period - in the morning. *God* he prayed, *Please let me make it to my room with the door closed before I collapse. Just not in front of _her_!*

For her part, Jane knew that the boy was in severe discomfort, (*more likely she's in real pain, Jane Thompson, for all your high minded promises to the contrary*) and thoroughly exhausted but not once had he whined or complained. Jane certainly would have complained by this point in time.

Jane walked over to her charge and put a gentle hand on his cheek. He flinched but did not pull away. "I will win in the end, Kenneth. You will make your time with me so much easier on yourself if you just give me my way. Life here can be almost pleasant if you will just let yourself relax and try to enjoy the experience, but it can also be hell on earth. The choice is yours."

She waited for the boy to respond in some way, but he said nothing. He simply stood there, letting her touch him, but refusing to even look at her. Jane sighed wearily. "Very well. As you wish it. Go to your room, clean off your make up and go to bed. I need you to be up at 6:45 tomorrow morning so that Marie can prepare you for the day. We will be going into town to have you fitted with a semi-permanent hair piece to replace what you destroyed. I expect you to be on your best behavior and to give me no cause to think I am the wrong person to help you. Now, go to bed. It will be a very tiring day for you. Good night, Kendra."

For a long moment, Jane wondered if he would refuse to do her the courtesy of returning her good wishes, but finally he stepped back breaking contact with her hand and looked up at her. "Good night, Ms. Thompson. I will see you in the morning then."

Jane watched her turn, and then slowly, deliberately make her way to the study door. For a moment, Jane thought to follow, but at the last minute did not. If the boy wanted to take those heels off in the hall, she would not be out there to stop him. Kenneth/Kendra had performed magnificently for Jane tonight and Jane would not lessen that performance by looking for any more reason to berate the girl.

As she'd thought before she'd embarked on this night's exercises. Those records simply did not describe the young man Jane had in her home.

~----------~

Part 6:
 
Jane normally ran errands or pampered herself with a salon treatment of her own while her girls were safely being terrorized by Carolyn and Sandra. This time, she did neither, instead taking a seat in the waiting room as close as she could manage to where Sandy would be working her evil ways with Kendra. Self consciously, she felt in the pocket of her suit jacket for the pepper spray, praying all the while that she wouldn't need it.

>From the start, Jane had done her best to treat this excursion the same as she had for all of her previous students first trip to the Marisha Chalet. She'd "oo-ed" and "ah-ed" over Kendra's outfit, complementing her profusely on her dainty good looks and had received a quiet, gracious "thank you" in each instance. When she'd warned him that as long as he behaved himself properly no one would see the boy for the lovely young girl his response had been complete unconcern.

The biggest worry, besides the one that had caused her to bring the pepper spray, was that they were making this excursion much earlier in the program than was normally advisable. Kendra had not had the days of repetitious training that would change her gestures, mannerisms, even her gait, from masculine to those expected from and appropriate for a girl of her apparent age. Of course she'd made her usual threat to expose him loudly as a sissy who just loved wearing girl clothes if he failed to act properly while in the salon. Not that she could or would do that to him - it would destroy her whole program of instruction and would endanger everyone who had ever been her student or had helped her.

Not that it mattered in any case since her threat had apparently fallen on deaf ears. She might as well have threatened to take away his broccoli (when he didn't like broccoli) for all the response she elicited.

She'd been on guard for the least sign that Kendra was being "read", but that incredible composure of hers saw her through. True confidence shows, and for whatever reason, Kendra moved confidently, if somewhat gingerly on her sore feet and calves, through the early morning pedestrians as if walking out in public wearing a dress was something she'd done all her life.

WHY WASN'T THE GIRL TERRIFIED OF BEING DISCOVERED??!?

Sandra came over, spoke to Kendra and then led her into the back, closed in cubicle she preferred when dealing with a potentially obstreperous boy-girl. Once she had him in the chair, Sandy removed the wig and gawked. The nearly white stubble was less than a quarter inch long, and still did not show even a hint of his real black hair color. "Jesus, hon, what did you do to yourself?" she breathed.

A very tired grin lit Kendra's face. "I liked it better this way than I liked it after an unfortunate incident with some hair coloring."

Sandy took a few seconds to digest that, but regained her equilibrium quickly. She didn't care how "different" Jane thought this one was. He was just another overblown, adolescent male ego who needed a good puncturing. And Sandy was just the lady to do it.

"Well, Jane wants you to have hair, sweetie, so that you can learn to take care of it. Good little girls just *love* playing with their hair and we wouldn't want you to be deprived." Sandy told her as she rolled a working cart over beside Kendra. "This is similar to what that hair club does, hon, only they use a stronger bonding agent. Once I've woven this in, it'll be like your own hair until I use the solvent to dissolve the adhesive. Why, you'll be able to shampoo it, style it, get permanents - even go swimming in it although such a pretty little girly boy like you should wear a bathing cap. Won't that be fun, sissy?"

Kendra almost smiled at that, too tired for any more reaction. She could have predicted something like this. Naturally the women who ran this place were in on the scheme. They had to be because they were experts on women and their grooming. They'd spot a boy in girl's clothing right away.

Frustrated by the lack of reaction, Sandy got down to ear level. "You better start playing with me, fag-boy, or the whole shop is going to know I have a pretty little wimp-ass boy in my chair, all decked out in pretty skirts. And you'd better start smiling, too, because girls just love being at the beauty salon. Start loving it, femmy boy!"

The boy with the girl's face only looked up into Sandy's smirking eyes. Kendra saw the disdain that Sandy rarely bothered to hide from her young victims.

"I told you to smile, cutie, or else. Don't think I won't tell everybody within earshot that I have a sweet, little femmy boy here getting his hair nice and curled up."

"Kendra!" Jane's voice sounded from just outside the cubicle. "Remember our agreement, Miss. This is part of what you've agreed to do, so do it well if you don't wish to face the alternative."

*She wants a smile?* Kendra thought darkly, *I'll show her a smile*

The smile Sandy got from the boy in her chair might have been seen on a hungry shark just before it took that first bite. Her own smile faltered just a little, but only a little.

"I'm glad you learn quickly, hon, but I think we will have to work on that smile." Sandy chucked Kendra under the chin as if she were a little child. "Now cutie, you just act as sweet as you look, and maybe you and I won't have any problems," she teased.

The weaving of the hair piece was time consuming and just painful enough to keep her awake in the salon chair. Since Kendra had no hair of her own to speak of, Sandy had to glue anchors to her scalp. As the amount of hair in the weave increased, the harder it was to add yet more which meant Sandy had to pull harder. Once, she pulled hard enough to wring a pained squeak out of Kendra.

Jane's senses went on full alert since this was the first time the girl had actually been hurt since coming to Jane's home. Would she try to retaliate, give pain for pain? It would not be an unexpected reaction given what she had been told the boy was capable of doing.

"Could you take it just a little easier, please." Kendra asked softly. "It feels like you almost tore my scalp the last time."

"Stop whining, sweet-thing." Sandy said jovially, "I am almost done with this part." But she did try to be a little gentler as she finished with the last sheaf of hair.

Kendra attempted to relax while Sandy moved that cart away and moved another into it's place. Then Sandra asked Caroline over to Kendra's chair. She joined them shortly with a large magazine, like a catalogue. Caroline leaned over the motionless boy and spread the book out on his lap prepared to follow through with a time proven double team. "Here, Kenneth....", she said in a low voice, which she immediately corrected with a gleam in her eye, "I mean *Kendra*. We need you to tell us which style you'd like for your permanent."

Kenneth stared at the magazine, trying to focus his bleary eyes on the pictures. Was he was really expected to make this choice on his own? Why wasn't the Thompson woman over here making her wishes known? This was her scene, not his. Fixing the hungry shark smile back on his face, Kenneth stared back up at the two women. "I am sure Ms. Thompson has something in mind for me, ma'am." he replied softly to Carolyn. "She was the one who told me I needed my hair done to her standards."

Actually, Jane hadn't said anything specifically about this outing. However, just last night she had said he would be doing things her way for as long as he stayed with her so it wasn't actually a lie, either. Expectantly, he waited for one of the women to leave the cubicle and ask Jane for her desires on the matter.

But they didn't. Instead, Carolyn bent down to eye level with Kendra, grasped her face in both hands and turned her head from side to side as if carefully checking the shape of her head and the lay of her hair. What she was really doing was getting into Kendra's face, whispering, "This is fun for girls, Kendra. Girls always want to choose their own hair style and they never defer to an older woman unless they are forced to do so. You'd better start acting like a girl or I won't even have to announce the fact that we have a boy back here hiding in skirts. They will know it because you *aren't* playing the game."

Sandy chimed in, a little too loudly for Jane's taste although no one else seemed to hear her. "I know you have a girl hiding inside you, Kendra-dear", she added, her voice now full of teasing enthusiasm, "She had better start enjoying her trip to the beauty parlor."

Kenneth shook his face free of Carolyn's grip and considered his options and capitulated. He was too tired to fight them, and besides, nothing they did to him here would really matter in the long run, anyway. With a casual lack of concern that surprised both women, he opened the glossy photo-book to a random page, and without hesitation, positively gushed, "*This* one - definitely. It even leaves most of my hair in place in case we decide later it doesn't work for me. I think it is perfect, don't you?"

Caroline grinned wickedly for effect at the boy in Sandy's chair. She knew his choice was made unwillingly, but no one else, especially those not in on Jane's secret, would ever have taken his response as anything out of the ordinary for a young girl at the beauty shop. At least this one had the wit to hold up his fair share of the masquerade. She also noted that he was correct in his assessment of the permanent. The shoulder length style would soften his strong facial features, while the blonde curls would frame his olive complexion and grey eyes.

"Excellent." Carolyn said as she closed the book, and turned to walk away. Looking over her shoulder at him, she loudly added, "I'm sure everyone here will want to see how it turns out!"

Things seemed to be progressing quite well, Caro mused as she headed out of the cubicle, and yet, Jane had told her to be careful with this one. Moreover, Jane was hovering like a mother hen with a sick chick when she usually had nothing to do with the boys once she'd turned them over to Sandra and her.

More concerned now, Carolyn stopped to take one last look at the boy in the chair before returning to her own client. What she saw made her cringe inwardly. Every boy in her experience had been rigid with dread at this point in the process, once they'd sentenced themselves to one of the overdone, hideously girly styles from that permanent catalogue (there weren't any other kind in that book which was why only Caro's 'Jane customers' would ever be caught dead in any of them). This one looked perfectly relaxed - actually more than relaxed. He looked like he was about to take a nap in Sandy's chair while she worked on him.

Grimly, she gestured to Sandy, her face showing her unease. Sandy's answer was a slight shrug followed by pointing to the hidden velcro restraints secreted on that particular chair. Carolyn nodded and left to find Jane.

Sandra then began her work. In the mirror, Kendra idly followed the process with some interest. Clearly, the woman was highly skilled at her craft. Meticulous, too, if he was any judge, and very efficient. In short order, she had most of his new hair wrapped up into a variety of different sized rollers and then soaked with the foul smelling liquid.

He was sitting in the chair, half dozing, when she softly spoke again. "You're not smiling again, sissyboy. I told you to keep smiling. Piss me off and you really won't like the consequences. Got that, Cutie-Kendra?"

Kendra's smile looked completely unforced, as if she knew a secret that no one else did. Sandy frowned, but still she relentlessly continued. "Its really too bad you messed up your real hair. This stuff is okay, but you'll be amazed at what I can do with hair like that picture of you Jane showed me. I have this great new hair color treatment that can make even the darkest hair in a lovely strawberry blonde. You'll just love it. Best of all, it won't wash out. Only way to get rid of it is to cut off all your hair."

Surprisingly, that earned the startled stylist a giggle from her current subject. "Nothing new, ma'am." Kendra said lightly. "Been there, done that."

Sandra could only shake her head and concentrate on getting the curling done quickly.

Kendra had often sat in a hair stylists chair and listened to the idle banter they made. His mother had always dragged him along when she went for her beauty treatments. This was different. They were doing this to him and trying to force him to go along with the gag.

Sandy finished setting his hair and set a small electronic timer before going to work on his nails. Kendra was just about ready to get the hell out of this place. The sarcastic, nasty little comments were starting to annoy him, as were Sandy's repeated threats to expose him to the other clients as a boy dressed in girl's clothes. More because she kept waking him up than for any other reason.

As the minutes dragged, his mind kept slipping back to those constant threats of Sandra's. There was something wrong about that. . .something that did not quite ring true, but his sleep fogged mind could not quite work it out.

Why did she keep harping on it? Perhaps because the threat was all she had and she needed him to fear it? A quick look over his shoulder revealed a fairly full house now that the shop had opened for regular business. He considered for a moment what would happen to this small town business if what Jane and her friends were doing became generally known. They'd become infamous, that's what.

How would that affect their business? Probably poorly. If this place was in a big city and the story hit of how they did this crap to young guys, why, they'd probably overrun with guys who wanted that type of help. But here? In Smallville USA in the heart of Puritan New England? Kendra would lay down long odds that they'd be out of work in a week's time.

Sandra moved over to work on his other hand when Caro came in with a make up kit and started testing color combinations on him and making small notes in a small green book. The two women made a good effort to keep zinging him, commenting about his swishiness, the impossibility that anyone could ever have seen him as being masculine and so forth.

*When in doubt, smile. The bad guys or girls won't know what you're thinking and it'll confuse the hell out of them* Kendra's smile grew wider and brighter with each barb and slur. About half way through the exercise, Caro's grin left her face and she grew very quiet. Finally, she finished her spot checking and hurried back to finish her own customer's procedures.

Kendra wondered how Darla was doing. He couldn't see her, or as he was now positive, see him because of the wall panels surrounding this station.

The bell sounded on the small clock and Sandy moved back to work at his hair. She washed his fake hair as she removed each roller before hand drying the sodden mass. Finally, with a look of triumph on her face, Sandy spun the chair back around so that Kendra could see the full impact of Sandra's art.

Neither of them spoke for several heartbeats. Sandy, because she wanted Kendra to say something she could twist against him. Kendra, because she was watching Sandy. In very short order, Sandy couldn't stand it any longer and was about to order him to say something. It was then that Kendra struck back.

"Hmmmm, Yasss. Nice. . . not quite a perfect match to the catalogue, but then, I suspect *that* model's hair was done by the best in the business. One should take such things into account when evaluating the performance of . . .other technicians." Kendra was doing his level best to mimic his Mother's "lady of the manor to the serf" voice and by the look of Sandy's face, he wasn't doing badly. "Yasss. .. quite adequate. You may tell Jane that we are pleased and that we have said that you deserve a tip for your efforts. I take it I am now to go to Caro's chair?"

Sandy was so shocked she couldn't speak and instead just nodded her head in dumbfounded amazement. Kendra stood, gave Sandy an imperious nod of her head, and sauntered off in the direction of the main salon.

Kendra saw Caro in deep conversation with Jane and wondered what that was all about. He approached them, still wearing the cape Sandy had put on him when she'd started messing with his 'hair'.

". . . and that's final, Jane. I'll finish the appointment, but I am not doing the rest of it. Not this time. Not with this one."

At that point, Jane saw her protege and her eyes went wide. Caro turned and saw who was standing there and flushed bright red. Then she pointed in the direction of one of the chairs and ordered Kendra over to it.

Jane watched in confused fascination as Caro worked her cosmetic magic on Kendra. The new hairdo was extremely attractive on the boy. . .unusual for a first permanent for one of her girls, but then, most of them did not have enough hair for that kind of style. An almost hysterical giggle nearly slipped past her stern schoolmistress-ly reserve as she realized that the only reason Kendra had enough hair was because she essentially had no hair.

The conversation that Kendra had nearly overheard was yet one more setback in this student's program. Carolyn had flatly refused to use him as the model in her Wednesday afternoon cosmetics class for local teenaged girls.

"I just can't risk it, Jane. You yourself warned me that he has a history of problems with girls, and while we've done this with bad actors in the past, we've already had those guys utterly broken down into submission. This one is not at all broken. I won't have him around the girls until you have him in hand better than he is now."

Jane had not been able to give a counter argument and had finally given in to the inevitable. From her seat in the waiting room, she saw that same dispassionately interested look on Kendra's fine features. As if this were all some research project where she and her friends were the experimental subjects and Kendra was the principal investigator.

As she sat there, Darla joined her after having finished her own ministrations. "How's it going?" she whispered into Jane's ear.

"It's not, dear. Not at all. She's just taken every trick in Caro's and Sandy's repertoire in stride. I wonder if there is any purpose at this point to going over to MiLady's Closet."

"I don't know, Aunt Jane. Miss Franson is pretty frightening in her own right, but in all honesty, Sandy is your big gun. If she hasn't reached him . . ."

Jane nodded, her own fatigue weighing heavily on her shoulders. "Then I guess we will just go home as soon as Caro finishes with her." She shook her head. "I had hopes when I realized that she had not been quite so indifferent to my lessons as I had first believed. Her crying seemed very encouraging, but so far today, I haven't seen any of that surrender in her. So far I have failed with this one, Darla, and lord help me, I just don't know what else we can do to reach her."

Darla reached over to rest a comforting hand on Jane's own tightly clenched fists, and waited for this morning to end.

Caro was rushing to finish her work on Kendra, having at least two reasons to finish making Jane's new student up as quickly as possible. The most pressing reason was that her cosmetics class was due at the Chalet any minute. Caro had planned to use Kendra as demonstration model and so she had scheduled the start of the meeting to overlap the end of Kendra's appointment. Caro did not need a dozen unsupervised teenaged girls bouncing around the shop when she had to keep her full attention on finishing Kendra.

Her other reason was the root cause of the first problem. She did not want Kendra interacting with that group in any way when she wasn't sure how the girl would react to them.

She finished up and gave her work a critical assessment. Not bad, Caro thought. Not her best by any stretch of the imagination, but not bad. Certainly better than when she came in the door. "Okay, Kendra. You're done for this time. Be a good girl for Jane and no one will have to know who you really are under those lovely curls and sweet dress."

Carolyn had made that last crack almost out of habit, but she very quickly realized that the boy-girl was once again not reacting as she expected.

Finally fed up with these stupid games, Kendra decided it was time to turn the tables on the proprietors of Marisha Chalet. She recalled watching one of the young girls at her Mother's salon who'd been particularly pleased with the results of her appointment. Smiling broadly, Kendra went up on tiptoe and planted a very dainty kiss on the older woman's cheek before pulling her into a hug.

"You and I both know you can't unmask me, Carolyn." Kendra whispered into Carolyn's ear as she held the hug. "Your business would never survive in this burg if your little sideline came out to these fine upstanding people. How about we call a truce? I don't unmask *you* and you and Sandy cut out the Don Rickles routine when you have me in your salon chair. Okay?"

Then she went back down off her toes, waved to a frowning Sandra and walked over to where Jane and Darla waited. Five minutes later the trio was back in Jane's car, heading toward the big house.

~----------~

Since Jane had tentatively planned on spending the afternoon at Milady's Closet, there was very little to do once they'd gotten back home. Which was just as well, Jane admitted to herself, because she was mentally and emotionally exhausted. Yet another phone call to Sheila had gotten her damnable answering machine. Jane had told the woman that she had to be available to Jane during these critical first days and she had promised Jane that she would be. Well, that last one had been Jane's fourth call in the last eighteen hours and still no return call.

Marie slipped into Jane's office with a steaming tea pot and a bottle of cordial. "Sorry about lunch, Jane." she offered as she poured the tea and the cordial and set both on her friend's desk.

"I should have called. I knew an hour before we left the Chalet that I wasn't going to go dress shopping. There just wasn't any point in it. Kendra, or rather Kenneth for that is who we are still dealing with, wouldn't have gotten anything out of the shopping trip. He'd just have tried on the clothes as if it were the most natural thing in the world, that damnable composure wrapped around him like armor, not bothered by it at all."

Marie took a healthy sip of her own drink. "At least he didn't lose his temper and try to hurt anyone - even if he did threaten Caro's business."

"He did WHAT??!?" Jane yelled coming out of her chair in dismay.

Frowning, Marie sighed. "Caro called just before you arrived home. Evidently Kendra decided that it would do the Chalet far more harm if they exposed him than it would to him. He told her he'd keep their little secret if they'd lay off their comments and teasing when he was in there in the future."

Jane slowly, almost painfully sank down into her chair. "If there is a future for him here. Sad to say, he's right about Caro and Sandy as you and I have discussed before. Do you know that's his second leap of insight since his arrival? Last night he told me that he figured that Darla was probably also a crossdressed male which severely limits her usefulness in the future. Now, he's effectively declawed Caro, Sandy and Betty Franson."

"What do you mean by "if there is a future"?" Marie asked softly. "It's not as if he is resisting you or defying you."

"I almost wish he was fighting me. I know how to deal with the ones who fight me tooth and nail. I don't know how to deal with what little reaction this one gives me. Marie?" And Jane turned haunted eyes at her best friend, "I am beginning to think that there is nothing I can do for this one."

"So what now?"

"Nothing for now. At least until I can talk with Judge Ruth and decide what the best course of action which probably means that we ship him back home."

"Isn't it a little early for that? I mean, he hasn't done anything bad."

A sad smile flickered in Jane's tired eyes. "He hasn't done anything we expected him to do, either. Not once since he arrived. Oh, I know I told you that I believe he's been crying in what privacy he can manage, but that's based on his eyes being red. For all I know, he may be slightly allergic to something - perhaps eye make up. The fact remains that he has not truly broken down under any of my lessons. Since the very first day, he has consistently blunted most of the impact of each of my thrusts."

"I still don't like giving up on him, Jane. Not this early."

"You know as well as I that the first forty eight hours under feminine control are the most critical hours in the program." Jane continued, "It's somewhat like setting the explosive charges that make one of those old buildings collapse in on itself so that something new and stronger can be built in its place. Well, this morning, I just twisted the plunger on the detonator and instead of a boom, I got a barely audible pop. I am not omnipotent, Marie. I have always known there were boys I could not help. Kenneth appears that he may be one of those boys."

"If that's true, I think it is very sad." Marie said as she refilled their glasses.

Jane could only agree.

~----------~

Part 7:
 
Darla and Kendra were walking outside, both of them having changed into more casual clothes. Darla had suggested the walk, primarily because she wanted to find out what was going on inside her "little sister's" head. She had hopes that if she could get Kendra to talk, the resulting information might help Aunt Jane help this guy.

"You've really surprised Aunt Jane, you know." Darla said as the rounded the house and headed off into the large back lawn.

"Really?" was Kendra's noncommittal answer.

"Really. I mean, nothing seems to get to you. Take today. You just walked from the car to the salon, bold as anything, as if nothing mattered."

"Nothing of that did matter." the other girl-boy answered with an unconcerned shrug.

Amazed, Darla could only gape at her companion. "But, you could have been exposed as a boy. People would have laughed at you, called you a sissy. Doesn't that matter??"

Kendra laughed, but it was not a pleasant sound. "The people here, laughing or otherwise, would not have mattered to me. Listen Darla, regardless of what your aunt does to me, whether she keeps me or sends me off to that bargain basement Boys Town, in less than three years it all ends and I get the money my father left me. Then I tell your aunt, that judge friend of hers and my damned mother to go straight to hell so that I can get on with my life. If I have to, I can stand on my head for that long if that is what it takes to get out from under those damned women."

Darla let the last comment pass. "But how can you just go out there, dressed like a girl and have it not matter to you?" She had to get this guy to tell him something that Jane could use.

A sly look came across the beautifully made up face. "How do *you* do it, Darla?" Kendra asked very softly.

"M. . . m . . .ME?!? What can you possibly mean by that?" Darla sputtered in surprise at the unexpected attack.

"Oh, I bet if I tossed your skirts up and had a close look under your pretty panties, I am sure that I would find you are definitely an "outie" and not an "innie", and I am not talking about navels, either."

As Jane had the night before, Darla tried to come up with some way to protect his disguise, but he lacked Jane's experience and her self possession to carry it off. "How did you guess?" he finally asked, depressed.

"I just figured that if you were a real girl, you'd be in real danger from a guy like those records say I supposedly am. One thing I have figured out about our Ms. Thompson - she is not a lady to take too many unnecessary or dangerous chances. She's a control freak and she makes sure she is well in control of the situation before she puts anyone else into it."

Darla gave a very unladylike snort. "That's Aunt Jane," he said affectionately. "Right down to her always perfectly shined designer shoes."

The pair continued their walk, a companionable silence growing between them. As they made the final turn along the path back towards the house, Darla thought of another question. "Why do you refuse to acknowledge what you did to get sent here? I mean, it's not as we don't have the goods on you in that file."

Anger flashed in grey eyes and Darla instinctively took a step back. "Because everything in that damned file is a dirty rotten lie, made up by my mother because I refused to play along with her damnable schemes."

"But Judge Ruth concurred. . . she set it up so you could come here. . .the records. . .?"

Kendra came to a dead stop in the lush green back lawn. "Listen, blondie, listen *really* good. Everything in that damned file, with the exception of my name, my social security number and my birth date are out and out lies. As for the esteemed Judge Ruth, she is just like my mother, a goddamned no good liar. I believe that your aunt honestly believes that pack of lies because she trusts that Judge. Which makes Judge Ruth *much* worse than your Aunt, even worse than my damned mother, because she abuses her office and the trust of the people she is supposed to protect as an officer of the court."

Darryl, and it was *definitely* Darryl, saw red. "You can't say that about Judge Ruth." He growled. "Not in my presence and get away with it."

"Why not? It's true. Everything in that record, including the so-called court documents are fakes and lies. So, she has falsified government records on top of everything else. Trust me on this one, Blondie. The first thing I do when I get my freedom in three years is to cut my bitch of a mother off from the income off the principal of my inheritance. The second thing I am going to do is take that damn judge down and drag her through the mud. What is in that file is sufficient to get her sorry ass impeached and convicted. And once she is not Judge Ruth, but rather Citizen Ruth? I will sue her until she has to live another lifetime just to pay off the interest on the debt. I will destroy her career, her reputation and her financial security. And God help your Aunt if I find out she was a knowing conspirator in all of this because then I will go after her next. If that means my little sojourn in skirts becomes public knowledge, so be it. I'll be wealthy enough to ride through that storm, but Ms. Jane Thompson's little torture chamber gets shutdown forever."

Fourteen years of living on the streets and running with gangs snapped to the fore as Darryl's temper erupted like an erupting volcano. Without any warning, the enraged teen was on the other boy, trying to beat his brains in. "God damn you, bitch. You're going to leave Jane and Ruth alone!" Every syllable was punctuated by a punch or a kick, or even a couple of bites. "They helped me, *saved* me, you sorry bastard, when no one else would or could. I'd be in the state prison right now if not for them."

Caught unaware by the suddenness and the savagery of Darla's attack, Kendra was momentarily unable to defend herself, but years of training with her father kicked in. She parried several blows and kicks until she got into the position she wanted and then neatly hip-tossed Darla to the ground. Darla landed hard on her chest, knocking the wind out of her. Kendra did not give her a chance to recover and was on her immediately, tying up the other girl-boy's arms and legs with his own.

"Calm down, Darla. I've got leverage on you. You're only going to hurt yourself." Her voice was soft, but Darla continued to struggle and to curse at Kendra until she eventually began to tire. "Now, I will say this once more since I have no reason to lie to you. The records are false. I didn't do any of that stuff."

Darla started to draw breath to respond but never got the chance.

"What is the meaning of this?" a coldly angry voice demanded.

*oh shit* Kendra thought bleakly. The jig was up. Maybe they'd let him have his own things back before they sent him off to Boys Town's Basement.

"I *asked* a question, ladies, I *expect* an answer."

"Just a friendly little debate, Ms. Thompson, that got a little too heated for Darla here. Everything is fine now." Kendra answered.

"Oh, is. . it. . . really? Kendra, I want you in your room, NOW! Marie will lock you in until we decide what to do with you. If you are not in there when I come for you, I will call the police, have them pick you up and put you on the next plane home. AS . . . YOU . . . ARE! Now get out of my sight."

Kendra momentarily thought about arguing with her. After all, all he'd been doing was defending himself. And he hadn't even tried to hurt the guy. But then again, why should he expect to be given a fair shake in this place? Very deliberately, he released his grip on the no longer struggling Darla, stood slowly and headed off into the house with Marie following close behind.

"Are you all right, dear?" Jane asked as she helped her ward to his feet before pulling him into a hard hug. "I am very sorry you got hurt. I should never have relaxed my guard. I *knew* he had a history of violence, but he hasn't shown it here and now you are the one to suffer." Jane's eyes and voice both went hard and dark. "That's it. He's through. He is out of here as soon as I can arrange it with Judge Ruth in the morning."

"No . . .Jane. . ." Darla was still trying to get her breath back as Jane slowly walked her back to the house. "Not his fault. . .at least, not directly. I jumped him first. Lost my temper when he started telling me what he'd do to you and Ruth after he reached eighteen."

"He threatened us with violence?" Jane asked quietly, fear clutching at her guts.

Darla shook her head. "No. No violence. He still claims those records are fakes, forgeries of government documents and he says he is going to come after you by revealing what you do to the world. Judge Ruth he wants impeached for falsifying those legal records and then he will sue her into the poor house."

"I see. Well that explains how the fight got started, but I still will not tolerate him hurting you."

Darla winced and then knew she had to tell the truth. "He didn't try to hurt me, Aunt Jane. He just tossed me to the ground and then held me there until I exhausted myself. He never threw a single punch."

"That's it?" Jane was dumbfounded.

Nodding her head, Darla managed a weak smile. "All he did was try to control me so I did not hurt him. That and say that he was not guilty one more time. That is what he was doing when you came on the scene."

Once inside the house, Jane headed for the peace and isolation of her office with Darla trailing behind her. *None of this makes any sense at all*, Jane thought yet one more time. Darla had attacked first. Kendra had been given a free shot, so to speak, and her new student hadn't taken it.

"Aunt Jane?" Darla's voice broke into Jane's thoughts. She looked at her ward, standing in the doorway to Jane's office, grinning sheepishly. "I . . . ah. . . think I am really starting to believe Kendra, Jane. . . at least part-ways. I know I said this before, but something is definitely wrong here. I don't know what it is, but most everything that's happened since Kenneth arrived just does not jive with the person we were told to expect."

It was just all too much, Jane fumed to herself. "I will agree about nothing making sense, dear. Look, I need to think. Why don't you go see if Marie needs some help with the evening meal. Please close the door on your way out. Thank you, Darla."

~----------~

Much later that evening, Jane sat alone in her front parlor, watching a fire dance and flash in the old Victorian hearth. The night was a little warm for a fire, but Jane found the chaotic movement of the brightly colored flames relaxing. Besides, what was the point of being wealthy if you couldn't crank up the air conditioning at times.

None of this made sense she told herself yet one more time since Darla's revelations of the afternoon. Who *was* Kenneth Roberts? How could he be both the person in that record and the one she'd been living with for the past three days?

An egotist without any apparent ego? A violent young man who fights not to harm his attacker, but rather, only to protect himself and then contain his opponent? An overly macho boy who releases emotion through tears in the privacy of his room? A resentful young man who plots retribution, not revenge, and who thinks not in terms of violent acts, but in terms of justice? A hothead who thinks calmly and rationally enough under stress to deduce some of Jane's most closely guarded secrets in less that three days?

And until the fight this afternoon, Kenneth had not displayed a single one of the dangerously antisocial, ill mannered or boorish behaviors so painstakingly and lavishly documented in those records. Jane could almost believe that the records *were* fakes. Darla said she was certainly beginning to believe that. If you accepted that premise, everything else that had happened in the past three days made sense. . .somewhat anyway.

But that meant that Judge Ruth, one of the few people that Jane Thompson believed without question had betrayed not only Jane's trust, but that of her constituency as well.

None of it made any sense at all. Still, she had the evidence of her own eyes when it came to Kendra. Particularly after the incident with Darla, Jane was ready to believe that Kenneth was *not* aggressively violent and that his courtliness and polite behavior were *not* an act.

Ruth was due back tomorrow, Jane mused. Tomorrow, she'd get to the bottom of this, once and for all.

~----------~

Kendra sat on the bed, leaning against the headboard. There had been no sleep the previous night. Odd how *Kenneth* had begun thinking of himself as Kendra at least part of the time so quickly. A great deal of that was probably the clothes. Kenneth's boy clothes were still not in evidence, so Kendra had slipped on one of the long, granny-gown nighties Jane had provided.

A grim smile crossed the lightly made up lips. She was also wearing the bra, panties and light cosmetics that Jane had ordered her to wear at all times unless given specific directions to the contrary. That was probably pretty pointless since there was no doubt in her mind that her hours at Jane's house were rapidly coming to an end. It was pointless except that Kenneth *had* given Jane his word to be Kendra, and a bra was a big part of how Jane defined Kendra.

*Probably ought to stash some cold cream and nail polish remover in my purse just in case Jane does carry out her little threat, although where I'll get boy clothes I have no idea.*

The turning of the deadbolt drew his attention to the door. *Probably Marie with breakfast.* A very stern, tight-lipped Marie had brought Kendra's dinner the evening before. She'd walked in, set the tray on the vanity and had walked right back out - without so much as a word or a second look. At least the meal had been as good as every other meal here had been. He'd half expected to be put on bread and water - or worse.

Maybe it had been Marie's idea of the condemned man's last meal.

The door swung open to admit a very disheveled Jane Thompson. Kendra couldn't help himself. . .he stared at the older woman carrying a cloth napkin-covered tray into his room. She looked positively unkempt. This was the first time in his admittedly short residence, but he'd never before seen her without some makeup or with her hair uncombed.

Jane settled the tray down and took off the napkin. Kendra was surprised to see two cups, two juice glasses and two covered plates. Jane busied herself setting out the food and then pulled the chair she and Marie used during their "lessons" on grooming and makeup. "Come, Kenneth." she said quietly. "Eat your breakfast before it gets cold."

"Kenneth, Ms. Thompson?" he asked carefully. "I thought I was only to answer to Kendra while I am under your tuition?"

Jane watched the femininely attired figure carefully sit on the vanity's stool and take the napkin she offered. She took a fortifying sip of Marie's dark, rich coffee before turning her attention to her student. "And so I did. However, one way or another, Kenneth, you will most likely cease being my student by noon today."

Kenneth reached behind his back and unfastened the bra that was digging into his back. He slipped the straps over his shoulders through the sleeves of his gown before pulling it out and flipping it towards the hamper. "I guess in that case I no longer need to wear that thing."

"No, I guess you don't." Jane agreed as she buttered a warm croissant.

"You said one way or another, Ms. Thompson. I thought there was only one way out of this for me. You and your friend the Judge, what's-her-name, are going to send me off to that delinquent boys' home?"

"Eat your breakfast, Kenneth, and I will tell you what I have decided to do. I spent the whole night reviewing everything I was told about you and everything I have observed about you."

"And you concluded?"

"You are either the most accomplished actor I have ever met or a very serious mistake was made in sending you to me. If the former is true, then you are even worse than that record says, and there is nothing I can do to help you. You just don't respond to my treatments in a way I can predict or deal with effectively. If that is the case, then yes, I will send you to the boys' home. Today, in fact, on the four o'clock flight out of Providence."

"You said there was another possible answer - that a serious mistake had been made. If that is your final conclusion, what happens then?"

"I won't know that until I know how the mistake was made. Until I do and can decide what is best for you, you will live with me as Kenneth. Marie will be up after breakfast with your bags and other male things."

"How are you going to find out what the truth is?"

"I have two lines of investigation planned. I've called an investigator friend. . . a former student of mine, in fact. He is heading to your home town even as we speak. He will talk to the police and to your teachers directly, while I carry out my own investigations over the phone. If that file is a fake, then someone I trust has lied to me and might very well continue lying to me about this. In that event, then my investigator will surely find contradictory evidence to that effect. He may even be able to identify the person responsible for that "mistake"."

Kenneth sat, quietly eating, waiting for Jane to continue. "Judge Ruth is scheduled to be in her office by nine a.m. her time, ten a.m. our time. We are going to call her and ask her to explain what is happening."

"*We* are?" Kenneth asked in surprise.

"We are." Jane confirmed. "You will be there in my office when I call her. We'll all hear what she has to say in response to my questions over my speaker phone."

"Why would you let me out of here if you don't know if I am that person in those files yet or not? Why not just keep me safely locked away in this bedroom until you do know?"

Jane dabbed her mouth with her napkin and pushed away her still- untouched breakfast. "Because you did not hurt Darryl when you had the chance and the excuse of self defense."

"Darryl? Oh! Is that Darla's real name?"

"Yes it is. He is my ward and former student. You twigged to that disguise quickly enough. Anyway, you obviously have some martial arts training and you could have hurt him badly when he tried to attack you. You didn't do that. Every instinct tells me you don't belong here because you don't *need* the type of therapy I provide. So I am going to let you face your accuser, so to speak."

"Darla, I mean Darryl is all right? I tried not to take him down too hard, but it's hard to judge such things."

"She and he are fine, Kenneth. Now," Jane sat up and became the steely eyed woman of power he'd seen so many times since his arrival. "Do you have any idea why you were sent here in the first place?"

Momentarily nonplussed by the question, Kenneth only stared at Jane for several long moments. "You want to know that? You mean, you are actually willing to listen to me?"

The incredulity in the boy's voice stabbed at Jane. "Yes, Kenneth." she said steadily. "I definitely want to hear what you have to say about what is going on here."

Jane watched as emotions flashed across the boy's face as he considered what to do next, and then, finally, Kenneth slowly nodded and began to speak.

~----------~

"This is Judge Ruth, may I help you?"

"Ruth, it's Jane. . .Jane Thompson." Jane said in the loud tones people tend to use when using a speaker phone.

"Jane!" the tinny voice grew several degrees warmer. "How are you, my dear? And to what do I owe the pleasure of you calling me so early this fine rainy day?"

Jane chuckled. "Well, it is bright and sunny here, Ruth. As to why I called, well, I am having a great deal of difficulty correlating the behavior the young man you sent to me with the records you sent me. If he is really as bad as your file says he is, my experiences with him lead me to believe that he is beyond my help and we will need to vacate his sentence to the boys' home."

The phone line went completely silent for several seconds before, "Jane, I haven't had my second cup of morning coffee yet, and I can't handle strange humor in this condition. Just what the hell are you talking about?"

Jane shot a look to Marie and Darryl before fixing her gaze on the now boyishly attired Kenneth. "Why, I am talking about Kenneth Roberts. You know, Sheila's boy - you remember our sorority sister Sheila Martini, now Sheila Roberts?"

Again, silence answered Jane's question. "Jane." the Judge said with an air of great control. "I have not sent you any boy since Darryl. Yes, I remember Sheila, but I have not talked to her since our last college reunion two years ago."

"Damn." Jane said under her breath. "Ruth? I have a problem and I am going to need your help. I have been had, and the person who did this to me and to Kenneth did it using your bone fides. More than that, she provided me with a file of records to document his problems and bad behavior. Some of the most damning of those records are printed on your letterhead."

"WHAT!?!?" hot anger rolled through the phone lines. "You are telling me someone conspired to put this boy under your program and used *my* office to do it?"

"That's what it looks like, Ruth."

"Fax me the pertinent documents, Jane. Use my private fax line, not the office one. I have got two hearings scheduled for this morning, but I will be free this afternoon. I will look into it myself and get back to you."

"Thank you, Ruth."

"I hope you have that young man out of skirts, Jane. As an officer of the court, I hereby inform you that boy. .. what's his first name again, Jane?"

"Kenneth, Ruth. Kenneth Roberts."

"Yes. All right. I hereby inform you that Kenneth Roberts is not under any court directed program originating in this office and that you have no legal authority originating from this office to discipline him. Do you need that in writing, Jane?"

"Understood, Ruth, but I have already taken him out of the program. He's sitting here right now, Ruth, listening in on my speaker phone while exquisitely turned in a ragged Chicago Bears t-shirt, a pair of threadbare bluejeans and as decrepit a pair of running shoes as I have ever seen in my life. The pinnacle of male teenage haute couture as I'm sure you'll agree. And no, I bloody well *don't* need it in writing, your Honor."

A warm chuckle rippled from the speaker box. "All right, Jane. Obviously, you've had time to figure out something wasn't right and stopped what you were doing." *not nearly soon enough* Jane told herself, *I knew something wasn't right before I took him to Caro and Sandy, but didn't believe the evidence of my own eyes and ears.* "Since you've had time to figure out something wasn't kosher, have you come up with any idea of just what the hell is going on here and more importantly *why*??"

Jane sighed. "Yes, I think we do. Let me give you the quick version of it and you can get the long version after you've finished your hearings."

~----------~

Part 8:
 
Jane and Marie sat in side by side lounge chairs watching the two boys frolic in the swimming pool. It seemed so strange she reflected as she sipped Marie's tart lemonade, to see someone in a boy's swimsuit cavorting in her pool, let alone *two* such someones.

"So, Sheila's behind this?" Marie asked softly.

"She has to be. She is the one who first introduced me to the concept of Victorian petticoat discipline all those years ago when we were sorority sisters."

Jane winced as Kenneth pounced on Darryl and both of them disappeared under the surface wrestling. Boys were just so. . so . so . . . boyish. Except for that mop of hair Kenneth was trying to keep out of his face. She reminded herself to get Sandy to come over and undo the long blond mane she'd given him and then dye his remaining hair black again. She'd been right about the blond hair and his dark coloring, though - striking and very attractive.

Sighing at the thought of not having any of her girls in residence, Jane turned back to Marie. "She had all the Victorian erotica classics on the subject . . ."Gynecocracy", "Miss High Heels", "The Petticoat Dominant" and a few others I can't remember anymore." Jane gave a self deprecating smile. "The first boy I ever petticoated was her boyfriend after she'd talked him into going to a costume party as a girl. I think she kept him in skirts on and off for the rest of their time together."

"Is he the one she married? Did she keep him in skirts after the wedding?"

"No. By all accounts, Sheila went a little wild after she graduated. I heard that she even worked as a professional dominatrix in California for a while. Care to guess what her specialty was?"

"Boys into girls?" Marie asked with a hint of resignation in her soft voice.

"Yes indeed. As I understand what happened, she went too far a couple of times and put a resistant client into the hospital with her "encouragements". The last one almost landed her in jail. That's when her father stepped in and basically ordered her to marry his handpicked successor unless she wanted to cut off from his financial support. One of those patriarchal "do it or else" type marriages of convenience. Evidently, she didn't really give up her little hobby - just didn't charge for it and kept her liaisons very discreet."

Jane sipped at her glass before continuing. "Still, she lucked out. He was a very good man, from what I saw and heard of him. Masculine, yet refined - by all accounts a gentleman who was truly a gentle man. Now that I am no longer prejudiced against Kenneth by that damnable file, I see a lot of the father in the son. Both of them have very clear pictures of themselves as men. Very unusual for a young man Kenneth's age."

Marie smiled. "He does seem to be quite a fellow. I find it hard to believe he wasn't overwhelmed by his treatment here. I don't imagine there are very many young men his age, bad boy or not, who would not have been fully under your power by now."

"I know what you mean." Jane said as she relaxed in the sun. It felt so good to let herself go limp for a change - something she hadn't been able to do that since she'd begun to have reservations about her treatment of Kenneth. "He was determined not to surrender to me because that is how he has learned to deal with his mother. Sheila evidently sees every crack in his composure or control as an opportunity to attack. He's learned that incredible self control as a self defense mechanism. If he didn't give in to her, she couldn't hurt him further, I guess."

"Well, it was certainly effective against us. I still can't believe he wouldn't let what we did or threatened to do to matter to him. Maybe what is really amazing is that he went along with us at all."

"As I said, he understands himself very well. He did not want to go to that home, decided I was the lesser of the two evils he had to choose between and did what was necessary to stay. But it was very obvious we weren't getting the responses we wanted and expected from him. He couldn't have understood that part of the program because that is not why he thought his mother sent him here."

"His mother is really the beginning of the Jane Thompson Home for Wayward Boys Who Become Winsome Girls?" Marie asked, using the joking, private name the pair of them had come up with to describe the school.

"Well, she and her boyfriend certainly fired my curiosity about that type of thing, although I will admit that it was more the intense thrill of dominating and feminizing a male that interested me at first. Then, during my senior year I took a course in behavioral psychology given by this ardent feminist. It may be hard to believe in the times we live in now, but back in the mid to late seventies, this professor's course and her views were considered pretty radical. Anyway, one of her course requirements was to do a study/research project on some type of behavioral modification process. In passing, I mentioned Victorian petticoat discipline to the woman. To my utter surprise, she positively loved the concept and told me I should get right on it."

"I always wondered where you had gotten the basis of your program. It was just too clearly designed to attack the boys' psyches to have been something you stumbled on by chance."

"Believe it or not, there are still organizations in England that train governesses to use that type of discipline with their male charges. It is not something they advertise, but it is not much of a secret in various circles, particularly among the women of the old aristocracy. My professor put me in contact with one such organization. I spent my semester break studying with the Head Training Mistress of that Governess Training School."

"They really do that? Like we do here now?"

"Not entirely like you and I do. I brought back what they taught their governess students, which was mostly technique, but their goals for using petticoating were much more limited than what we try to achieve. In their view, petticoating was a particularly intense, very humiliating punishment for rowdy boys - classic negative reinforcement. If you were bad, you went into skirts until you behaved properly, but I saw potential in using those methods in a different way. I spent the whole semester working on that project, combining the techniques and methods I had learned in England with bits and pieces from other psychological theories, primarily Skinner's operant conditioning theory. The resulting paper was actually the first draft of the blueprint for much of what we do here."

Jane stole another glance at the two boys who, evidently having exhausted one another, were sitting by the pool sipping their own lemonade, talking quietly - completely relaxed. Maybe she'd have to make sure her girls got some type of intense exercise in the future if that utter calm was a result. She had always made them study dance, but that wasn't intended so much as exercise, but rather as feminine reinforcement.

A picture began to take shape in Jane's mind. Some high impact aerobics, perhaps, in skin tight exercise leotards, with other real girls their age and led by a particularly demanding instructor. Even better if she could find an instructor she could trust enough to bring into her little conspiracy. The possibilities of what that woman could do to work the girl-boys over mentally, emotionally and physically were very intriguing.

Jane Thompson smiled at the short movie playing before her mind's eye - it was a smile that more than fifty young men would recognize instantly and probably still shudder slightly on seeing it. Jane Thompson concocting yet another way to terrorize her wayward would-be lasses. The poor dears would feel utterly exposed, completely inept and if she chose her instructor well, thoroughly exhausted by the end of that first session.

It offered tremendous potential for sissy humiliation (*you couldn't keep up with the other girls? How tough does that make you, miss? Better learn to be more graceful or the _real_ girls in the class will figure out you are a boy beneath that lovely tutu.*) while they burned off some of that excess adrenalin and aggression. Multiple birds with one stone. What a delightful concept.

Very happy with that little innovation, Jane returned her attention back to Marie and her story. "I actually got to try out my entire program while I was at Eastmore. The old Head Mistress had died early in the fall term and I was appointed to her position. It was then that I found out that several of my "girl" students had really been petticoated boys, sent to Eastmore for a variety of reasons. The reasons are the same ones we most often deal with here and now - for being too aggressive, too violent, too disrespectful of their primary female care- giver. To make a long story very short, I contacted the parents and guardians of the boys involved and found out what their goals were for the boys. I took over their program personally, seeing it as an opportunity to test my own theories."

"Those poor boys." Marie smiled, her eyes twinkling mischievously.

"Those poor boys, indeed." Jane replied with a soft chuckle. "I wasn't as laid back then as I am now nor did I fully understand just how hard I truly was pushing them. I am afraid their year at Eastmore was emotionally and mentally devastating for them. I kept them on for "summer school" at the end of term, and that's when I put them back together. That's also when I realized that I could not be both the "bad guy" and the "good guy" in the equation. The school nurse stepped in and filled that role, but it was not as successful as what we do right now. She was still an adult and someone who worked for me."

"Just like when we don't have a senior student and I have to step into that role? Those students seem to take longer to figure things out even though I try very hard to help them along."

"Precisely." Jane affirmed. "And besides, I need you to do all the really evil transformation stuff so that I can be the terrible Inquisitor who judges their performance and finds it wanting." Jane's overblown, pompous tones set them both giggling.

Regaining her control, Jane continued. "For a while, I thought about using one or two of the real girls as my little darling's mentors, but discarded that idea. Girls that age don't understand and are often not fully in control of their power as females. There were just too many possible problems and I didn't have as strong a lever to keep the girls in line as I did my sissies. All it would take is choosing the wrong girl for the job, and it would be all over for me and my program."

"So that is the origin of the "big sister" concept?" Marie asked.

Jane nodded. "As it happened, one of my darling young men did not perform well enough to graduate back into his trousers and had to repeat his year in an Eastmore uniform. Since he knew what I was doing, I ordered him into the "good cop" role as a condition of his own ultimate release. Not knowing he was also a be-skirted boy, the same as they were, my poor prissy darlings flocked to him when the awful Mistress Thompson abused them so basely and so sorely."

"It was a great success." Jane continued. "As you just noted, the boys learned the masquerade much faster with his help so they could begin to learn the other lessons that can only commence after they could pass adequately. Most boys finished the program in the allotted one school year and went back to their homes much better for the experience, but there were always those who did not get the message the first time. In my time at Eastmore, I always had at least one big sister in residence."

"If it was working so well, why did you leave?"

"The restrictions placed on me as Head Mistress that had nothing at all to do with school, but that affected the rest of my life very negatively. The school board chairperson was a woman who could have been Edith White's more conservative older sister. She delighted in lecturing me on my responsibility to always be the ultimate paragon of feminine virtue and morality one too many times. I *was* a good role model for the girls, but I wasn't going to live like some saintly, cloistered nun just to suit that sanctimonious old bat. I left the school and started my consulting business. That got boring after a while and I started looking for something else. One of my clients, a woman, was having problems with her son. We got a little drunk together one night and I told her about the skirted boys of Eastmore. Despite the alcoholic haze, she remembered that conversation the next time her son got into trouble."

"And the rest is history."

"I suppose, but things have certainly not been going according to plan of late."

The harsh, electronic tone of the portable phone Jane had set down on her side table ended the conversation. Jane picked it up and greeted her caller.

"Jane? Ruth here. There are no records here that in any way resemble the ones you faxed to me. Not on file anyway. Of course, none of the clerks would admit doing something like that since it is a criminal act to falsify such records and court orders."

"So we don't have anyone we can use to bring Sheila into line?"

"Not right now. We could confront her, but if I recall her well, she's a cool customer. I don't think she'd break unless we really leaned on her hard, and right now, I am not sure we have enough evidence to be able to do even that much."

"I see." Jane said wearily. "Well, where does that leave us?"

"The only paper in that whole damn file that is in any way legitimate is the one she signed giving you custody of her son until such time as you deem him to have satisfactorily completed your program. Regardless for her reason for making that guardianship change, that particular record is a completely legal and binding document."

"So, I could keep him here with me until we can decide what to do about Sheila?"

"Or until his eighteenth birthday, Jane, if that is what it takes. That would put a real crimp in your activities with other students, but it would keep him out of that bitch's hands."

"True. Unlike Darryl, I don't believe Kenneth could or would play the female while I break in a new student."

"Or you can just send him home. I can try putting the fear of God in her."

"No, she is sufficiently well off financially that she would simply move out of your jurisdiction. No, Ruth. I will keep him. It will take some getting used to, having a boy running around the place. Blast!," Jane burst out. "That means I will probably have to redecorate his room, but there is no way I am going to let that bitch have him back. She tried to use me and my program for her own perverse purposes, Judge, potentially endangering my boys' reputations and quality of life at the same time if things had gone badly wrong here. I am not going to let her win or get away with it. Somehow, someway, I am going to fix her."

"So long as it isn't too illegal, dear, I will be right there with you. She soiled my reputation too, remember. I didn't get to be a judge by letting people wipe their feet on me like a doormat. Hey, I have got to run. I will call you if I hear anything or think of anything."

"Same here, Ruth. And thanks."

Jane broke the connection and set down the phone. For several minutes she simply sat there, watching the boys and mulling over what she knew for the thousandth time. Finally, she turned her eyes back to Marie who'd been watching her longtime friend very intently. "Well, Marie-dear." Jane said lightly. "How do you feel about raising a couple of boys for the next few years?"

Marie set down her lemonade and stood. She watched the boys for a few moments and then bent over to kiss Jane on the cheek. "Just fine, cherie. I think we will both like it just fine. Maybe, as you said earlier, we have been in the petticoating business a bit too long. Or maybe for too long without a real break. This will give us a time out of our own."

"*I* don't really think we've been doing it too long, Marie, but I will agree with you on one thing. With those boys over there? We will do just fine."

Marie nodded before standing back up. "I will go start dinner. Tell those two heathens that I don't feed anybody who isn't properly dressed for the evening meal. Just because they are out of skirts doesn't mean they can forsake good manners and behavior."

"I know." Jane laughed. "Or we'll put 'em both back into the Shirley Temple line."

"Right!" Marie asserted with a high five to Jane before heading into the house to start meal preparations.

~----------~

Darryl was laying down in his bed staring up at the frilly canopy, thoroughly pissed off at what Kenneth's Mother had tried to do to her own son. Not an asshole type son who might actually deserve it, but her own very nice, very well behaved, very gentlemanly son. That a mother could do such a thing to her own child infuriated him.

Intuitively, Darryl knew this feeling of rage derived from his own mother trying so hard before she'd died to make things better for her younger son. Moms were supposed to be special! *This* one did not *deserve* to be called Mom. She just happened to be a female someone who got pregnant but who did not bother to get an abortion.

Christ, he fumed before remembering what Jane would do if she heard that epithet slip out in normal conversation. Still, sometimes even the best behaved, most well mannered guy in the world had to curse - it was the only way of expressing the anger and fury he was feeling.

Christ, that bitch is like Stephanie's father. Only worse. Kenneth's mother was doing this because she got her rocks off on seeing males publicly humiliated by wearing women's clothing and maybe getting caught. At least Stephanie's father thought he was doing the right thing by his son, rescuing him from his Mother's and Aunt Jane's program.

Well, at least they'd fixed Stephanie's father's wagon. He'd been so shocked to see that old guy's grandson in full female regalia he'd acquiesced without much of a fight. It had been great.

Too bad they couldn't do the same to Kenneth's mother.

An idea began to flicker in Darryl's mind.

Maybe they could at that.

Quickly, the young man jumped to his feet and headed out to find Aunt Jane. She'd know how to make this work if anyone could. And there was very little doubt in Darryl's mind that Jane would be motivated to find a way to make his idea work.

Although she might prefer to phrase it more delicately, Darryl knew that Jane was thoroughly pissed off, too.

~----------~

As his guardian thought over his idea, Darryl took the rare opportunity to look around Jane's private sitting room. He'd bet that few if any of Jane's young men had ever been admitted to this special place. It was clear to Darryl that this was where Jane went to get away from the prison of her own making, if only for a little while. Even the furniture in this room was markedly different than anywhere else in the Victorian mansion. The furnishings in this haven of Jane's were overstuffed, broken in to the point of being shabby and most of all, comfortable. In Darryl's experience, very little of the furniture in the rest of the house had been selected for comfort and in many cases, the selection criteria seemed to be just the opposite. If it was uncomfortable, overly showy and difficult to sit upon gracefully, Jane had probably used it to decorate the students' quarters and the public rooms.

Lord, he thought amazed, Jane was practically sprawling on that lazyboy recliner, her left leg dangling over one of the arms, her right leg tucked up under her bottom. She wasn't even wearing her trademark blouse and instead sported a faded, hole worn Winnie- the-Pooh t-shirt. And, *omigod* Darryl goggled, *are those really BLUE JEANS she is wearing??? Aunt Jane???*

He knew he'd never seen her in those before. A smile flitted across his face as he made a quick mental list of every little comment Jane would direct at a student who she found in a similar position of inelegant repose.

"What do you think you're smilin' at, mister?" a softly amused voice cut through his ruminations.

She even talks differently in here, Darryl thought amazed. "Umm. . .I was looking at . . .at . " he stumbled for something other than what he was actually looking at, "your chair." he blurted out.

"Uh huh. Sure you were, Darryl, sure you were." Jane's familiar wicked smile coupled with her change to a more dignified position brought bright color to her ward's face. "All I will say, dear, is that for the first time since your arrival here, you are really in my home. Before this, you were merely in my house."

"I think I had already figured that out, Aunt Jane." he said with some pride at the obvious honor she was giving him. "So, what do you think about my idea?"

"It would be very difficult to pull off, dear." Jane said carefully. "First of all, we'd need to have everyone, us, Sheila, Ruth all in the same place at the same time, and it would be best if we could be in Ruth's jurisdiction when we do it."

Her ward nodded his understanding. "But all that means is that we have to go to her. Ruth already lives in the area."

"True, but don't think for a minute that Sheila is going to willingly put herself in the same room with both Ruth and me since she has been using each of us to manipulate the other. I might decide to ask Ruth more about Kenneth's case and that would ruin all of her plans."

"But it could work, couldn't it?"

"It might. We would need some specialized electronics so that we can constantly monitor her interactions with Kenneth, particularly when she is alone with him. Remember, she is still avoiding me. I don't think she wants to talk with me about her son for fear I will figure out her nasty little game."

Jane became silent again, her teeth worrying at her lower lip as she worked through the possible scenarios in her mind. "No, we will need something to smoke her out, and there's only one lure that is certain to work. That would also solve the other big problem, too, but. . ."

"Well, let's go do it." Darryl enthused, his anger about what Sheila had done to her son still burning hot and hard.

"We can't make that decision, dear." Jane said reprovingly, "because we are not the person most affected by it. You and I are both outraged, and I promise you, I will make that bitch pay. Someday, some how, she *will* pay both for what she tried to do to Kenneth and for using me to try to do it. But to make her pay now, using your plan, we'd need Kenneth's active participation which he may not want to give. If he refuses, or is even reluctant, we can't press him on this."

"But I don't get it. I've talked to him, Aunt Jane. He is even more pis. ." Darryl's face flamed bright red again as he caught himself, "I mean, upset about what his mother did than I am. Why wouldn't he want to take part in this."

Jane chuckled at his discomfort and said easily, "I've heard and said 'pissed off' before, Darryl, and although I try not to use such a phrase in polite company, I agree that it fits here. I am indeed, pissed off." She shrugged. "As to why Kenneth might balk at my plan? Think about it, dear. I am sure it will come to you."

He did, for several long moments and then he saw the problem. "Oh shi... I mean, darn. You mean . . .?"

"Quite so." Jane chuckled. "Go to bed, Darryl. Let's think about this over a good night's sleep. Maybe we will think of something else that will work. If not, we will put the idea to Kenneth *and* we will abide by his decision."

Darryl didn't much like that. Why couldn't Aunt Jane be . . well, _Jane_ about this and make it happen. Sighing, he rose and gave Jane a kiss on the cheek before leaving for his own room.

Jane sat unmoving for another half hour working the plan over in her mind. "Well," she finally said aloud. "I think it will work if Kenneth will go along with it. Now, I just have to figure out how to market the concept to him. Good thing I have a lot of experience selling things that people don't think they want or need to buy anything.

Knowing she wouldn't be able to sleep herself with Darryl's concept nagging at her, Jane went down to the kitchen and brewed a pot of tea. Soon, she was settled in her study, furiously scratching notes onto a yellow legal tablet.

Two hours later, the half full pot of tea now cold, Jane reread what she'd just written for the third time. It could work, she thought. All she needed now was Kenneth's complete and willing cooperation, and Ruth's go ahead.

~----------~

**brrrrrrinnnnnnng! brrrrriinnnng!**

A hand emerged from the covers, and blindly fumbled for the source of the penetrating noise. Finding the alarm clock, the hand bashed the snooze button several times to no effect. The noise continued.

Unable to sleep through the unremitting clatter, Judge Ruth finally roused enough to realize it was her phone and not her clock. Moreover it was her "home line" instead of the business line ringing. *If this is some cop who's somehow gotten my private number and wants a warrant approved, it had damned well be for some heinous capital crime like a mass murder or I may just kill him.*

"This is the Judge," she growled into the phone.

"Ruth? It's Jane."

Her eyes really open now, Ruth glanced down at the brightly lighted numerals on her clock. "Jesus, Jane, do you know what time it is?"

"Of course I do, Ruth," was the tart reply, "It's an hour later here and I have not been to sleep myself yet."

"What's the matter? Is something going on with that boy, Kenneth?"

"Yes and no, Ruth. Look, I think I may have a way to do something about Sheila that won't hurt Kenneth, but I am going to need your help and his to pull it off. Before I take it to him, I need to know if you can and will help. It's not quite illegal, but it definitely falls under the category of unethical."

"I promise nothing." was the very lawyerly reply. "But if it does something to and about that bitch, well, lets just say that I am disposed to help you already."

"Okay, this is what we are going to do. . ."

~----------~

Kenneth, Darryl and Marie sat around the small coffee table looking expectantly at Jane. Each of them had a cup of tea and had helped themselves to pastries and snacks from the low tea Marie had prepared at Jane's direction. Finally, Jane cleared her throat and looked directly at Kenneth.

"Kenneth, Ruth and I have been looking into what action can be taken against your mother in retribution for her crimes against you and me. Clearly, we have a solid case of falsifying documents and making a false sworn statement. Unfortunately, if we do take her to court for that, it means everything comes out in the open. What I do here, but more importantly, what happened to you and all my other young men here. In recent months, I have had to face the possibility of public exposure at least twice. I would regret that, because I honestly believe that I can help certain young men turn their lives around."

"We know we've helped the boys who have been here before you, Kenneth." Marie chimed it. "Jane has the files to prove it."

Jane waved that off. "Be that as it may. As I said, I would regret the end of my program, but I have had to prepare myself for that eventuality and I am quite certain that I would be able to get on with new things in my life once the furor died down. The real reason we cannot take her to court is you."

"Me? How so, Aunt Jane?"

The familial name on Kenneth's lips warmed her. He'd begun using that name instead of his extremely formal "Ms. Thompson" once he had been absolutely sure she was on the level - before he'd even gotten his boy-clothes back. Jane's willingness to finally listen to him, and more importantly, to believe him enough to unlock the bedroom door that morning had gone a long way towards bridging any gap that remained between the pair. Trust and affection had quickly followed.

"Because you will become a media _thing_. A thing of pity for some, a thing of revulsion for others, but in all cases a thing and not a person. You won't have a life. Every time you turn around, someone will expect to see you swish, or they'll check you for panties when you go to the gym. I, Ruth. . ._none of us_ want that for you."

"So she just gets away with it? This isn't the first time she's done something like this. Before I learned I could stand up to her, it was girl costumes for every Halloween, or girl parts in plays at the local theater. She once even found this summer camp for boys who want to play at being girls and tried to send me there. Fortunately, the ladies who ran that camp insisted that the boys had to want to be there. As soon as any boy decided he'd had enough of skirts and dolls, he was allowed to go home." Kenneth's face flashed a dark smile at the memory. "I was home thirty minutes after my mother dropped me off for the first day."

"Yes, Kenneth, she gets away with it unless we can do something outside the law. Ruth and I have come up with a plan, but we are going to need your help to pull it off."

Kenneth studied the look on his temporary guardian's face. She was hesitating, he realized, and Jane Thompson never hesitated about *anything*. What on earth, he asked himself, could involve him in such a manner as to make this forthright, self confident woman hesitate?

Then he knew. "You want me to face her as Kendra." he said flatly. "Okay, explain the plan to me, Aunt Jane, and be sure not to leave out the part about why it can't be done as Kenneth."

~----------~

Part 9:
 
An incredibly intense two weeks later, Jane maneuvered her rental car through the tree-lined streets of Kenneth's home town of record. She periodically checked the rear-view mirror to make sure that the van with Darryl and Ruth was still close at hand.

The days leading up to this little drive had been very demanding. Darla, Marie and Jane had spent hours every day drilling Kenneth on the finer points of being Kendra. Every evening either Sandy or Caro or both had come over for two hours of make up and hair care lessons. Even Brenda Franson had gotten involved in the act, spending both Sunday afternoons refining the girl's gestures and movements, and fitting her with specially selected outfits designed to enhance Kendra's boyish figure.

The results were spectacular, Jane smiled, stealing a glance at her ward. She was rigged out in a version of the "senior student meets the train" outfit - a light grey-green dress, complete with three petticoats for fullness, hosiery, two inch pumps, a hat and matching gloves. Marie had thought the second and third petticoat were overkill, but Jane had overruled her on that score. Sheila would be ecstatic at the excessively prim and prissy look of her feminized son.

Jane's former student had kept Sheila's house under surveillance so that they would know when she'd returned. They also knew where she'd been - at the old house in the city where she and Kenneth had lived while her husband had still been alive. During her time there, a young man had been observed entering the house, but not leaving it. Instead, the watcher had reported the departure of a very bedraggled-looking and upset female in a very short skirt and incredibly high heels who limped away from the house just before Sheila herself left for the airport to return here. The house appeared to be empty following the departure of the primary subject.

Ruth and Jane were convinced that the precipitous move to this town was part of Sheila's overall plan. It made the threat posed by Ruth seem all the more real. That she hadn't sold her old house probably meant she would return there to her old life once her aims for Kenneth had been achieved. A life that evidently still involved forced feminization of young men and then driving them out into the public to face humiliation or worse.

*That unspeakable . . . unspeakable. . .* For all her classical training, Jane Thompson, Schoolmistress, could not come up with a sufficiently vile epithet to describe what she thought of that female.

"Easy does it, Aunt Jane." Kendra's soft voice chided as she touched a gloved finger to Jane's white knuckled hand gripping the steering wheel. "It will be fine." she smiled under the incredibly long lashes Sandy had spent an hour applying, one lash at a time, the last night before the trio had left home. They'd been in town now for three days, staying with Judge Ruth, waiting and getting ready for the final act in this horror drama.

On the bright side, Ruth and Kenneth/Kendra had hit it off famously. At first, Ruth had been concerned that the boy would blame her for all that she'd also been an unwitting pawn in his mother's plan. Kenneth was too smart for that, and besides, he'd seen just how badly that particular "pawn" wanted Sheila's blood. Well, this pawn was about to become a queen and wreak havoc on Sheila's little war game of strategy.

A soft smile crossed Jane's tense features as the memories of those first few hours at Ruth's home. Poor Ruth had never had children of her own and was quite at a loss as to what to say to the teen, so she'd started talking about her career both as a lawyer and as a judge. To Jane's utter bemusement, her ward had been fascinated. Soon, the pair of them had become all but inseparable as the young man constantly pumped the older woman for every bit of information about her career.

"This is the street, Aunt Jane. Third house down on the left."

Jane parked the car at the curb and turned to face the beautifully made up young man. "We don't have to do this, you know. You are welcome to stay with me as Kenneth. No one will think the less of you for not going in there like this."

Kendra smiled grimly. "I would, Aunt Jane. I know this is going to be difficult, but not because of all this." she said running her gloved hand down her dress. "This is just a game, that's all. Playing it doesn't really change anything essential in me and it definitely doesn't threaten me. With her," and she inclined her head toward the house occupied by his mother, "It would not have been a game. She truly wanted to change me - mentally, physically and permanently. What makes this so tough is that she's my mother, and I can't find it in myself to love her. In fact, I really believe that I hate her." Kendra's voice hitched and Jane fished for a tissue.

"Calm down. We don't have time to fix your makeup. If you need a good cry, do it after we leave, okay? Damned overemotional males." Jane muttered, just loud enough so she knew she'd be heard.

It worked. A chuckle bubbled up from Kendra, who then nodded. "Thanks. I am under control now."

"Is it show time, young lady?" Jane asked one last time.

"Lets do it, Aunt Jane."

~----------~

Sheila Roberts was already thinking about taking another sanity- trip back to the city. There just wasn't anything worth doing in this backwards burg. Certainly none of her more . . .esoteric pleasures were to be had around here.

She thought about Horace, the male slave she was currently training back home to be the slut maid she had named Whorish.

And about what she wanted to do to him the next time he attended her in her private little dungeon.

Sheila had just read about this person who performed voluntary surgeries neutering male humans. Sheila shuddered in barely suppressed sexual arousal at the thought of watching the scalpel slide oh-so-very-delicately into that ugly sack of skin. Yes, Whorish was going to "volunteer" for that little operation when she got back home just so Sheila could watch and see it done. Maybe she could even get the man to do it to her slave without using any anaesthetic. After all, didn't she have the goods on him? What was a couple of useless balls of male flesh compared to going to prison and losing everything?

Sheila was getting god awful tired of this place. She'd only moved here because good old Ruth presided over the local court that seemed to be a regular first stop for so many of Jane Thompson's bad little boys. Bad little boys who, by everything she had been able to learn, found themselves sent to Jane to be changed into girls. Another ripple of arousal lanced into Sheila. Just how far did Jane go in turning bad boys into good little girls? Maybe Jane would like to know the address of that man who provided the neutering service. Better yet, she'd just keep that bit of information as a surprise for her old sorority sister. It would be Sheila's little contribution to the program when she ultimately took her rightful place as Jane's partner.

Sharing a drink with Barbara Nash at that reunion two years ago had been the best piece of luck she'd ever had. That was when she'd found out about what Jane was doing with herself these days. Some discreet inquiries by a very expensive investigation service had turned up the connection to Ruth. From there, it had been child's play to buy a house here in this town, find and bribe that clerk who liked the ponies too much for his paycheck and build that apparently damning file on her "crime-hardened" son.

*How would that clerk look in skirts and petticoats?* Sheila wondered. She certainly had enough on him to win his "willing" compliance to a little playtime. She'd even worry about all that safe and sane crap when she played with him. At least at first, anyway.

*Losing your focus, Sheila* she chided herself. As to her son, well, the only thing hardened about that boy was his resolve not to let her turn him into the girl she really wanted him to be. Just like his father in that regard. Oh, they'd both played along with her at times - Halloween, costume parties, special evenings from her husband, but neither of those damned males had ever taken her and the transformation seriously. She'd tried very hard with Kenneth after his father died, but he was just too certain of himself for her to make any headway in her goal.

Until she'd learned of Jane and her little alternative to jail for the bad boys. Who'd have thought Jane would be the one to create something like that. Oh, she'd helped Sheila that time at school, when they'd first dressed old what-his-name up as a streetwalker for the sorority costume party, but for her to come up with something like that operation?

Amazing. Well, Jane had selfishly kept the fun all to herself long enough. Kenneth was by way of a test to see just how good dear little Jane was at her craft. If she was good enough, then she'd be getting a new partner in Sheila or else. Sheila shuddered in almost orgasmic delight at the thought of the file the investigator put together, along with the names of the boys who'd been in her keeping, appearing on the desks of eight major gossip columnists, and into the hands of five tabloids and three talk show hosts in forty eight hours.

And if Jane didn't succeed with Kenneth, then she'd have to pay for her failure. She wondered how Jane would look on Hard Copy, or how her boys would feel about being hounded by the Springer Show?

Sheila cursed as the annoying buzz of her doorbell intruded on her lovely dream of skirted little boys scurrying around in fear, doing her bidding.

She could not believe her eyes when she opened the door. "Jane? Jane Thompson?" *What the hell was she doing here? And who was the young blond in the 1940's church dress? I didn't know anyone even made hats like that thing anymore.*

"Hello, Sheila. May we come in?" Jane asked. Sheila couldn't think of any reason why not and stood aside to let the two women enter.

She guided them into her ornate living room and bid them to make themselves comfortable. "Would you like some tea? Some coffee?"

"Some tea would be wonderful." Jane answered sweetly. "Why don't we have this little darling prepare it for us while we talk? She won't have any difficulty finding the makings?"

"N.. no. . I keep everything except the milk on the counter beside the stove." Sheila answered, still wondering what the hell was going on. She had to be careful. She couldn't afford to anger Jane. She might decide to drop Kenneth from her program and that would mean she'd have to call Ruth. Sheila had to prevent that from happening for as long as she possibly could.

"Dear?" Jane turned to her protege. "Please prepare a light tea for three? I would also like you to serve."

"Yes, Ms. Thompson." The girl actually curtseyed, Sheila thought in wonder, before moving gracefully into the kitchen. For just a moment, she wondered if Jane's companion was one of her boys, but immediately discarded the thought. Too feminine entirely. Sheila herself had never managed to get a male to pass that well, so surely little Jane Thompson couldn't. *Too bad those heels aren't higher. The girl has great legs and a cute butt.*

"What brings you out here, Jane? Aren't you a long way from your school?"

"Not so you'd notice, Sheila. As you know, my program involves forcing my pupils to face and come to grips with their gentler sides by making them live that way until they do."

The smile that lit Sheila's face was one part hunger, one part triumph and one part something else much darker and evil. "Yes, I know. You were our last hope, you know."

"I could tell." Jane replied equably. "As to our purpose here, Some," and Jane put steel into her voice, "of our students resist and require much stronger measures to break their silly macho self image. Sometimes, we have to make them face their worst nightmares before they see the wisdom of compliance and submission. For some young men, that is being made to appear in public as a male, but seriously feminized - a true sissy. Others have to face the constant threat of exposure by putting them in tenuous circumstances where their slightest miscue would give them away, knowing that I will abandon them to their fate if they fail to carry off the masquerade."

Jane was lying, but Sheila wouldn't know that her boys were *never* truly in danger of being truly exposed. This was, as Jane well knew, the other woman's greatest fantasy since she'd first read of Victorian petticoat discipline almost twenty years ago. "I see." she breathed, her breathing becoming noticeably shallow and quick.

"Yes, and some very rare, hard core, testosterone challenged male animals require even harsher treatment."

"How are you coming with Kenneth, Jane? Is he giving you a hard time?"

The smile Jane gave the other woman was just a bit triumphant. "Oh, he's become quite the she, darling, a true sweetheart. He was very difficult the first few days, but we've got that turned around." Jane's voice became low and confidential. "You should have seen the look on his face when he realized that first shampoo was heavily laced with a bleaching agent. For some reason, being made into a blond just destroys the little dears. Must be some silly male stereotype."

Sheila closed her eyes against the rush that image induced in her. "You know, Jane, I am quite jealous of what you are doing. In many ways, it has long been the type of work I wanted to do with my life."

*I am sure of that, you amoral strumpet.* Jane growled deep in her mind. "Well, I have been very lucky, Sheila. I mean, my work is deeply . . ." Jane let her lips curl into an intentionally sensual smile, "satisfying." she purred throatily.

The other woman literally squirmed in her seat, and Jane could see a fine sheen of perspiration forming on her upper lip and forehead. "Oh, I can believe that." Sheila breathed.

"Yes, verrrry satisfying. Of course, a great deal of that satisfaction comes from overcoming each challenge posed by one of my girlie-boys, from finally crushing their pathetically overblown adolescent male egos so that I can then rebuild them according to my own _personal_ requirements and standards." Jane moistened her lips with the tip of her tongue and winked salaciously at Sheila.

A sharp, visible shudder shook Sheila's body, her eyes and mouth closed tight. *My God*, Jane thought in disbelief, *Did she just have an orgasm?*

"I would just _love_ to dedicate my life to that kind of plea. . uummm. . . work. Have you ever thought of taking a partner?"

Jane was saved from having to answer by the timely return of Kendra carrying the tea service on a silver tray. Deftly, she set the tray down on the small coffee table and sat down. "Shall I pour, Ms. Thompson?" She asked in her soft, deceptive voice.

"Please do, dear." Jane said as she turned back to Sheila. "Do you still take yours with sugar and a squeeze of lemon?"

"Yes, I do." was the curt reply. *Not happy at having your little opening ignored, are you, Sheila? Tough!*

"Your tea, Ms. Roberts." Kendra offered the saucer and cup, filled with the steaming brew.

"Thank you, . . .Jane?" Sheila's voice had a hard edge to it.

"Yes, Sheila?" Jane smiled as she accepted her own cup of tea.

"I cannot properly thank your young lady since you have not introduced us." Sheila's tones were chidingly reproving.

Her eyes all wide with feigned surprise, Jane set her cup down. "Oh, _do_ forgive me, please, Sheila. I just never thought you would need introductions."

"And why not?!?" was the sharp return. "She is a guest in my house and I have never met her before in my life. Of course I need an introduction."

"Well, if you insist." Jane said before turning to Kendra and ordered sternly. "Kendra, make your curtsey to your Mother."

Kendra stood and made the classic movement with her petticoated skirt - very well, too, Jane noted with pride - then remained standing, head slightly bowed, hands clasped in front of her, her legs straight and together. Jane almost laughed at how well Kenneth was presenting Kendra to his Mother. The picture of classically demure, slightly embarrassed girlhood.

"That's really you, Kendra?" Sheila whispered, a fierce, not altogether clean light burning her translucent eyes.

"Yes, Mother." the girl-boy answered in a soft, sweet voice.

"Didn't I tell you, Sheila, that some of my boys require particularly harsh rites of passage when they refuse to submit to the inevitability of the feminization? In this case, Kendra finds herself forced to function as a female in the outside world, instead of the relative safety of my home, knowing that the least misstep will have disastrous consequences." Jane's voice dropped back into the "two-girls-sharing-a-confidence tones. "But the harshest lesson of all is having to present herself to her own Mother. Quite devastating to the dear girl. Isn't it, Kendra??

The girl's eyes dropped even lower as she avoided looking at either of the two older women. "It is really awful," she responded, letting just a hint of a sob crack her voice, "You didn't have to do this. I was learning." she accused.

Jane had been paying more attention to her old sorority sister than she had to Kendra when she made that little revelation. Sheila was unable to conceal her delight at her son's transformation and complete humiliation. It was time to dangle the bait a little closer.

"Not nearly quickly enough," Jane retorted with all the hauteur of a Regency Dame, "At least you weren't before you found yourself out and about in your lovely skirts. I will admit that things began improving as soon as you knew that we would not return to my house until you made _significant_ progress towards your inevitable girlhood. In fact, Kendra-darling, let's demonstrate for your mother just how well you have or have not learned your lessons."

For the next fifteen minutes, Jane put Kendra through a carefully choreographed display of feminine movements, gestures and behaviors. She made her sit, stand, glide about the room, simulate entering and leaving a car in a short, very tight skirt, powder her nose and refresh her lipstick and a myriad of other, more subtle examples of the "total girl".

"Excellent. My, Kendra, but aren't you quite the sweet, polite little girl, now?" Sheila cooed and was delighted at seeing a red flush color her feminized son's face.

Jane saw Kendra color rise, too, but she knew that it was rage coloring her ward's face and not humiliation as Sheila was assuming. *Don't blow it darling. Time for phase two.* Jane thought.

"I have been trying, Ma'am." Kendra offered submissively. Jane wondered if the poor dear was choking on her obsequious persona.

"And very well, too. I must say, Jane, that this is definitely an improvement over the rowdy young brute I sent to you. And what else have you planned to help my poor boy over his unacceptably male natures?"

"Oh, I have some plans for _her_," Jane said, emphasizing the feminine pronoun and bringing a broad smile to Sheila's face, "Some she knows about, some she doesn't. For example, she will be appearing at a cotillion that will be held near my home dressed as one of the old time debutantes. Of course, she will be expected to dance with anyone who asks her."

"Oh, how delightful. Dancing with boys? In a lovely white formal?"

"Just so." Jane said equably. "Dancing the waltz, tightly pressed against a strong male body is an excellent way to suppress those male natures you're so concerned about, Sheila. And more importantly, our little Kendra knows that failure to be perfectly sweet and biddable means more such experiences in her life until she does."

"More boys? Maybe having to go steady with one?" Sheila asked, her eyes alight with pleasure.

"Dates are likely. Going steady is only a last resort if she truly displeases me." Jane turned a hard glare at her protege. "Young boys do expect certain . . .. favors from their steadies these days, don't they, Kendra? Isn't that why that poor girl was dragged into the boys' lavatory at school?"

The ruddy flush of fury on Kendra's face deepened, and for just one second, Jane was afraid she might have gone just one step too far with that last remark. *Please, don't lose that control of yours, now - not when we're so very close.* she begged silently.

"As you say, Aunt Jane." Kendra finally got out, her voice harsh with the effort to control his fury.
 
 
Part 10:
 
*Time for phase three,* Jane decided, *but do I dare leave him alone with her as furious as just being in the same room with this woman has made him?* She contemplated that for a few moments, pretending to glare at the still red-faced girl standing between Sheila and herself. *There's no other choice. Only Kendra can take the woman to the next step. We need her too excited to remain cautious.*

"Sheila, we will have to be going if we are to catch our plane and be home in time to pretty up little Kendra for her night out with the boys. May I use your powder room? It is a long drive to the airport."

"Of course. It's just down the hall over there."

Jane rose and then looked down at Kendra. "Be a good girl for your Mother, Kendra. I will be right back."

Moving quickly to the small bathroom, Jane closed the door and pulled the earphone to her miniature receiver to her ear. Fortunately, the tiny transmitter hidden on Kendra's person was working perfectly.

"So, I have won at last, Kenneth." Jane heard Sheila's self satisfied tones in her ear, remembering at the last minute to check the other device hidden in her suit jacket. Her receiver was also attached to a small tape recorder in case the equipment in the van failed.

"I guess you have, Mother." was the patently male response.

"I told you I would, miss, and don't use that crude male voice around me ever again."

"You wouldn't have won without that pack of lies and false records you put into that cursed file, or with that Judge of yours lying for you." Kendra accused.

"No one else needs to know that those records are all forgeries. As a Juvenile, your records are sealed. No one will know they weren't true for your stay at Jane's, and then they will be returned to me and destroyed without a trace. Only Jane, Judge Ruth and I will ever know they were fakes."

"So that means that Jane was in on your little conspiracy, too?"

"Of course she was." Sheila said heartily as Jane's fury flared at yet one more malicious lie, "You are really becoming quite the stereotypical dumb blond, Kendra. I gave her those files in case you did something stupid like try to escape. Jane would have been able to use those records to get the cops to bring you back. Only the order sending you to Jane's lovely little delinquents' home was real. And I *thought* I told you to stop speaking to me in that disgusting masculine voice. You are NOT a man or even a boy now, nor will you ever be again!"

"Yes, Ma'am." was the more softly inflected response.

"You have forced me to tell Jane how you just misbehaved," Sheila said in exaggeratedly disappointed tones. "But, I am sure she will find a suitable punishment for your insolence. Perhaps she will make you ride home with one of the boys after the cotillion."

"She wouldn't do that!" Was the horrified reply.

"Oh, but I am sure she would." Jane could hear the smirk in Sheila's voice. "In fact, I am going to insist that she do just that. Hopefully, she knows a real Don Juan-type for you. Oh *HO*, but you don't like that idea, do you, Miss??!?"

"He'll find out." was the soft, tear-choked reply. "He'll find out that I am not really a girl. . . .at least down there."

The laugh that came through the earphone made Jane's blood freeze. "Why, that won't be a problem for long, darling, because as soon as you are finished with Jane's little charm school, we will say good bye to good old Kenneth for good. I will have you back in skirts within an hour of Jane releasing you. Then, as punishment for resisting me for so long, I am taking you to a doctor I know of down in Mexico. You will be a girl *every* where within the year and you will never have to worry about being found out as a boy 'down there', again."

"That can't be legal. I am still a minor. They can only do that to boys who get badly hurt . . . down there." Jane could hear the hard swallow.

"So what? There is nothing that cannot be accomplished if you have enough money. Until then, however, I suspect you will have to learn what most girls do when faced with an amorous male trying to get into their panties. Better learn to like using your mouth on a man, little girl, otherwise, they might be tempted to seek . . .other pleasures."

There was a pause in the exchange until Jane heard Sheila speak again. "It will be a suitable posthumous revenge against your father, don't you think, for having resisted my intention to feminize him all those years. Having his family line die out, - because his son is no longer able to father children. Do you know what the best part of all this is, Kendra-darling?"

"No, tell me, please."

"Why, I am going to be doing this all the time from now on. Jane will have no choice but to take me into her little group. Only, I will want to make those nasty little boys into delicious little girls - permanently. Just like I will you."

"You are a sick woman, Mother."

"Sick? Don't be silly, Kendra, I am not sick. I am just a woman who knows what she wants and who knows precisely how to get it. You, however, are a very naughty little girl. I think you had better find something to practice sucking on between now and that cotillion, darling. I can practically guarantee you will need to know how."

Jane had heard enough. She walked back into the sitting room to see Sheila looming over a cowering Kendra. Jane wondered if that emotion was entirely an act on Kendra's part. Jane suspected that there was a good deal of real fear and revulsion coursing through her student. True evil does that to good people.

Sheila heard her coming and spun around to face Jane. "You have avoided me long enough, Jane. What you've done with this _girl_ is truly remarkable. I want to join you in your work . . .maybe eventually open a second house under my supervision, say in Chicago or perhaps California."

*The woman is has absolutely no conscience. She has just spent five minutes threatening and terrorizing her own child and she is almost giddy about it.* Jane thought disgustedly. *How could I ever have thought of that miserable piece of human excrement as a friend?*

"You really think so? Well, I will have to give that a good deal of thought before I make such a major change of direction."

Something dark and perhaps evil, flashed in the other woman's eyes. "I really must insist, Jane dear." Her voice all cool, confident persuasion. "I just know I could add so much to their eventual development into fine young women. So much better than being disgusting men."

Jane gave every indication of considering the proposal, but was in fact watching the tense anticipation grow steadily on Sheila's face. "Well, Sheila, I confess I never thought to take on a partner. Besides, my methods and purposes are probably different from yours, and I am not certain we would be compatible either way. But for the sake of argument, whatever do you have in mind for my "girls" - what are you so certain you could _add_ that I would want in my program?"

Sheila might have been giving a sales pitch to the board of directors at a major corporation. "Why, I have _vision_, Jane. I can see what we could make of this thing of yours, with just a little drive on our part. We could practically franchise your process, have houses like yours all over the country, turning disgusting males into perfectly lovely young women. . .or almost women."

"Do you really think there is all that big a market for such services, Sheila? After all, we are not talking about a mainstream program here. I cannot imagine that most American fathers would see the value of putting their son in skirts."

"Oh, I am sure that we will be very busy. If not, we can go out and get students if that is required. So many boys living on the street today. Who'd miss one or two along the way? We'll consider them research and development, or product demonstrations."

"We're just going to go out and pluck young men off the streets and spirit them away to our little Victorian houses of transformation?" Jane was absolutely enthralled by this woman. How could she just *say* such things and seem so matter of fact; how could she sound so eminently reasonable about this abominable concept? "And you think that street hardened young toughs will simply fall in line the way my boys have in the past? My students have always had some type of motivation to comply with my demands - be that jail or expulsion from school or forced enrollment in some type of military school. We wouldn't have that to hold over such young men."

"Oh pooh." Sheila said airily. "Of course we will have something on them. They'll need food, won't they? They'll hate pain, won't they? They comply or they don't eat. They submit, or they will be hurt. I have become quite skilled with the single tailed whip in recent years, Jane." A thoroughly frightening smile darkened Sheila's features as she chuckled softly. "My, I almost hope that they *don't* comply and submit - at least not at the beginning."

Jane struggled not to let her revulsion show in her face or her voice. "I see. Sheila, I have always promised that my young men would not be permanently harmed or marked while in my keeping."

"Have to change with the times, Jane dear. Trust me, hearing the little darlings scream will make your juices flow. A wonderful rush. Not only that, but I was just reading about this man who fixes things for people like your young ladies, very effectively, too. I think a merger between him and us would be highly beneficial to both parties. And especially beneficial to all the young hooligans we can get our hands on as we remove the root cause of their problems once and for all, at their masculine root. Maybe I will start collecting their testicles as mementos of their time with us." The last came out on a dreamy sigh of anticipatory pleasure.

*I don't believe this!!* Jane's mind screamed. *She _has_ to be talking about that bastard who was brought up on charges for performing male castrations without a medical degree or medical supervision. I just read about him this morning over breakfast. And she really _is_ drooling! God, I don't believe anyone could be that mad or that evil.*

"But Sheila, there will be older students. One reason they assist me with the newer students because it is in their best interests, although late in the program they begin to see the benefits. I don't think any of them would willingly support us if they knew about *that* idea."

"Don't be naive, Jane, of *course* they will still help us because we will leave them no other choice. Otherwise they will be made to regret their obstinance very, very much."

"Naturally," Sheila continued, completely oblivious to the horror on the faces of her two guests, "we'd have to put a stop to taking referrals from Ruth. The legal system isn't ready to accept the rightness of taking that step." Sheila concluded with every sign of rationality that made her all the more frightening to Jane. "But just like the parents we will have to convince using our little R&D projects, once we have evidence of our successes, perhaps even the politicians will see the value of such changes."

*She isn't mad.* Jane realized, *I almost wish she was out of her mind because that would be easier to accept than this cold blooded, carefully thought out plan to physically emasculate the young men who are sent to me.*

Holding on to her fury by the barest of margins, Jane tried to answer the other woman. "Well, I will give it every due consideration, but I am disinclined to do anything like that, Sheila. After all, how would I ensure that all my girl-boys get the treatment they truly deserve if someone other than me is overseeing their rehabilitation. Not only that, but the wider the circle of people who know about what I do, the more likely public exposure or a failure becomes."

Sheila's eyes became cold. "Oh, but you really need me as a partner, Ms. Jane Thompson, Victorian Schoolmistress." She said with a strangely frightening calm, almost reasonable voice. "You need me to keep the files I currently have on you and your former students out of the national press.

"Do I *really*, Sheila." Jane's control finally slipped and the full measure of her fury bubbled through, "Do I really?"

Jane moved to the house door and opened it wide. "Jane, come back here, damn you! I am not through with you yet. You do not want to make me angry with you, not while I can put you out of busi . . . . ?" Sheila stopped as she noticed what Jane was doing. "What are . . ?"

Sheila's question was lost as she saw who was entering through the open door. "Ruth??!?"

"Hello, Sheila. Fancy meeting you here. Hello again, Jane, Kendra."

"Hi, Aunt Ruth." Kendra responded, a smile on her lovely face for the first time since she walked into her Mother's house. "Did we get it all?"

"Every self incriminating word, darling. The wire worked perfectly." Ruth affirmed. "Darryl is in the van right now making duplicates. Good job."

"What is the meaning of this?" Sheila hissed. "What are you doing here?!?"

"Putting a stop to your abuse of this young man who, in the eyes of the law, is still a child." Ruth said in a low, dangerous tone, "And to end your lying manipulation of Jane and me for your own perverse purposes."

"You cannot prove anything." Sheila blustered.

"Oh, but we can. First of all, I have in my possession that file you gave to Jane along with all of your correspondence with her. You know the file, Sheila. It's the one that could get you charged with about fifteen counts of forgery and twice that many counts of falsifying legal records since you admitted to forgery when you gloated at Ken here, confessing that you made them up. Oh, and before you start claiming your word against ours that the tape is real? Jane is a witness since she watched you from the powder room."

The other woman seemed to shrink momentarily before something brought her back. "You can't charge me." she retorted confidently, "Charging me would bring Jane's little enterprise out into the public light. It would destroy her silly little charm school. Besides, I will guarantee that result by releasing my records on her mini-reform school to the press and the tabloids. You can't threaten me. You don't *dare* charge me let alone bring me to trial."

Kendra stood and stared at the woman who was his/her mother. Jane, doing her level best to keep her own fury under control, saw the deadly rage and intent flashover in those grey eyes. "Kendra, no! Don't do that." Jane barked as she reached over to grab her student's arm and pull him back, out of reach of his mother.

The moment's respite helped, letting Kendra regain her composure. Nodding his thanks for the timely respite, Kendra turned back to his mother. "Trust me, mother, if you don't do exactly what Judge Ruth tells you to do, I will go to the police right now, dressed as I am, and press charges against you. Are you so stupid as to think I would let you get away with what you just proposed to do to me and countless other guys? In your dreams, you sick fool."

"No, it would be your word against mine. None of them would dare corroborate your claims. Jane has too much to lose."

Jane stepped up and stood beside Kendra. "Perhaps I do have a great deal to lose, Sheila, but I will be right there beside Ken every step of the way. At the police station, at the arraignment and at court on the witness stand. In fact, Ruth already has my signed, sealed deposition detailing my entire operation and in particular, my dealings with you to use against you should you ever pull any more of your nasty little tricks with your son or with me."

"You can't do this to me. We could have had so much together, Jane, playing with those boys together."

"You really don't understand, do you? You are blinded by your own evil desires and fantasies. What I do to my students, Sheila, I do in order to help my boys grow into fine young *men*. My goal is *always* for them to leave my keeping improved, enhanced, and *never*, in *any* way, diminished by their time with me. Do you think I would continue my school if there was the slightest, most minute chance that a vicious, amoral monster like you might become involved in my work?"

Sheila was becoming agitated now, tears wear forming in her eyes. "Its not fair!" she shouted. "I just wanted to be in on the fun, too. After all, I showed you all about this game first. You should have to share with me in return."

For a few moments, Jane could only stare at the other woman. "Fun?," she whispered hoarsely, "Did you really say 'fun'??" she said, her volume growing with each syllable until her final words were a screech of raw fury.

Before anyone in the room could react, Jane was in an all- consuming rage the like of which she would have sworn was beyond her. She was on the smaller woman in an instant, her hands closing around her antagonist's throat before letting go and bucking Sheila's knees with a vicious backhand slap to the face. Not satisfied with that, Jane pulled her foe to her feet by the hair and slapped her again, this time with a forehand blow that sent Sheila reeling backwards to the floor.

Jane strode over to drag the defeated woman to her feet so she could knock her down again, but was intercepted by Kendra and Ruth, each taking one of her arms and pulling her back.

"Enough, champ." Kendra teased.

"Enough? ENOUGH? Hell no, it's not enough." Jane yelled, still struggling to get free so she could destroy the other woman's evil once and for all, her feet kicking out, trying to reach the face her restrained arms could not. "I haven't even *begun* to share the *fun* with that piece of garbage."

"Calm down, Jane. We've won." Ruth said soothingly even as she pulled with all her strength to pull her friend away from her intended victim. "She can't hurt you or Kenneth anymore without going to jail for a long, long time."

That finally broke through the red hot fury fogging Jane's mind. She relaxed and felt the grips on her arms relax also. Relax, but not release. Just as well, she thought.

"So you want to *play*, do you, Sheila. You STUPID bitch. . .do you want to know what I really do with my young men? Of course you don't. You *want* to think that I *play* with them. Well, let me tell you that *play* doesn't begin to describe what I do to those boys. I have to *break* them, damn your unfeeling, black soul, really shatter them psychologically before I can begin to help them. When you start out with a warped piece of wood, sometimes you have to break it before you can begin to straighten it out again. But you, you damned fool, you sent me your son, who is not warped at all, but rather is as strong, straight and true as a young oak tree."

Jane's voice broke and she felt a comforting squeeze on one of her arms. *Kenneth*, she realized through the haze of her rage, *trying to support me.* "Do you know what happens when you break things, Sheila? They *never* go back together perfectly. That's okay when you start out with something that isn't straight and true to begin with, if in that breaking, you have a chance to make it better, but that wasn't how it was with your son. You tried to make me break a fine, gentle human being for nothing other than your fantasies and pleasures. Only his incredible strength and good nature let him survive what I tried to do to him and come out of it still whole and not warped. And you DARED to USE *ME* to perpetuate that evil."

The grips on her arms immediately tightened, but Jane only shook her head. "I am done, Ruth. Beating her bloody, though satisfying, won't accomplish much and I can't find it in me to kill even a worthless slug like her. I just wish someone would hurt her as badly as she wanted to hurt my boys, but I won't be the one to do it. Someone should do it to her, though, someone really should, but it won't be me." She nodded her head sharply. "No, it won't be me."

The hands holding Jane finally slipped away. "The Hell it won't!" Jane bellowed as she moved too quickly to be stopped and drove a hard right hand directly under Sheila's sternum. The blow had every bit of power Jane could muster behind it and literally drove the other woman careening into the wall where she ignominiously crumpled to the floor, wretching and fighting desperately to get air into her lungs.

Her self defense teacher would be appalled, Jane mused. No skill, no finesse, no art, but, goodness, it had certainly felt good doing it.

Jane smiled down at the wide-eyed, thoroughly frightened woman with a great deal of satisfaction, even if her knuckles felt like she'd just punched out a brick wall. It was worth it! "Pronounce sentence, Ruth." the calm, controlled Jane had returned from the momentary madness of her fury. "Tell her what happens if she violates her parole, and then lets get out of here."

"Very well. Sheila Roberts. This is what you have to do to avoid being charged with child abuse and multiple counts of forgery and falsification of government records. . ."

~----------~

Part 11:
 
Several days later, Jane and her two wards were sitting on Jane's patio, sipping iced tea.

"She'll hate living in that town permanently, you know." Kenneth mused. He still had the long, blond hair, but he had changed in male slacks and a pullover as soon as they'd returned to Ruth's house, and had been out of skirts ever since. "She told me we'd move back once I'd been "reformed"."

"All the better." Jane said with grim satisfaction. "And having her report to that women's shelter for three hours a day and for ten hours every weekend ought to keep her out of too much mischief."

"I knew she was bad, especially when she sent me here with that pack of lies, but I never understood just how truly evil she had become until I had to sit there listening to her plans for me and the other boys who fell into her power." Kenneth mused. "Do you think the threat you and Aunt Ruth hold over her will be enough to keep her off your backs?"

"On one hand, it is almost sad that your Mother is not mad, Kenneth, because there is a chance that someone might be able to help her. However, in regard to your question, I think it is to our advantage that she is sane. Her entire motivation is her own self interest. The case against her is iron clad so long as you and I are both willing to drop our masquerade and testify against her. She doesn't want to go to prison any more than you wanted to go to that nonexistent boys' home. She'll keep her mouth shut. After all, there are no men to abuse in a women's prison."

Judge Ruth had sentenced Sheila, albeit quite illegally, to twenty five hours of week of public service until Kenneth reached his twenty fifth birthday. The threat of the depositions, records and tapes were her parole against taking retaliatory action against Jane or Kenneth.

"I know all that, Aunt Jane, but there still is a chance that she will release those records. She may be sane and self interested, just as you say, but I am not sure she is completely rational on the subject of you and me. For me, I don't care, but I worry about all the boys you might not be able to help."

"Don't worry, dear. I'll find a way to help them, whether I can continue in my current fashion or not. But I won't stand by and let her get off without seeing justice done - for you and for me. If need be, I will face her in court."

"As will I."

Darryl gave both Jane and Kenneth a very dirty look. "Aunt Jane, if you were going to punch her lights out, couldn't you have given me a little warning? How am I ever going live it down when I have to tell my grandkids that I missed out on seeing their great step-grandmama play John Wayne?"

"John Wayne? Me??" Jane burbled, highly amused.

"Sure." Darryl replied. "I *heard* everything through Ken's wire, mainly a really loud *thunk* followed by the sound of Sheila tossing her cookies. That "I won't do it - the hell I won't" line is right out of one of his Maureen O'Hara movies. McClintock, I think. And YOU had to do it when I couldn't see it, darn you Aunt Jane!"

"Smile when you say that, pilgrim." Jane retorted in a horrible John Wayne imitation.

"Ummm, Aunt Ruth? Wrong cowboy." Darryl observed with a sly grin, "I think it was Gary Cooper who said "Smile when you say that." Although maybe the Duke did say "pilgrim" . . . sometime."

They were still enjoying the tension release of laughter when the patio door opened and Marie hurried. "Jane? Judge Ruth is on the phone. She says it is important."

Jane picked up the portable phone beside her deck chair and answered it. "Jane? I've got a live one for you. He reminds me so much of David before Beth that it makes my heart ache. Tell me you'll be able to take him on now that Kenneth isn't in the program. Please?"

Jane looked over at Kenneth, smiled just a little sadly and shook her head. "It won't work, Ruth. I have made a commitment to Kenneth that includes retiring Kendra for good. Having a male around would just encourage the new student to believe that he wasn't completely alone in that frightening new world of feminine behaviors and fripperies. That early feeling of isolation is critical to what comes later."

"I have an idea on that score." Ruth plunged on, "Kenneth could stay with me. You know he's been talking about being a lawyer like his Aunt Ruth." Jane smiled at the pride in her dear friend's voice. "I could get him a part time job interning here at the courthouse so he can see how things happen in the real world. An internship like that would go a long way toward getting him into one of the better law programs, too."

"Ruth? I have to speak with Kenneth, first, and I also need to think about it. I have been thinking I might need a vacation from all this after the last few. I haven't been exactly successful of late."

"Jane, this boy *needs* you!"

"He may need something I can no longer give him, Ruth. I need to think about this. I will get back to you in the next day or so, all right?"

Reluctantly, Ruth finally agreed and hung up. Jane returned her gaze to the young men seated next to her. They were both staring at her intently.

"I am sorry, Aunt Jane, if you feel that you failed with me."

"Kenneth. . I . ."

"But you *didn't* fail with Kendra, Aunt Jane!" Darryl said intensely. "In fact, you succeeded far beyond what I thought was possible."

Jane turned her schoolmistress glare on her ward. "And just *how* did you come to that conclusion?"

Darryl grinned, not at all bothered by her look. "In about two weeks, you took him from being Kenneth to being Kendra, and Kendra was so perfect, so . . .let's see, what did you threaten me with? Oh yeah. . .so adorable, winsome and sweet, that his own mother did not recognize him. That's about as good as it gets, and you pulled it off in less than three weeks."

"But it wasn't the same." Jane protested.

"No, it wasn't." Kenneth said quietly. "It was better. Remember I told you it was a game, Aunt Jane? That it did not threaten or change the real, essential me?" Jane nodded. "That was the truth. Another truth is that now that I am no longer being threatened with lifelong dressing, I have found that I can actually enjoy the game . . . in moderation of course."

"Oh, of course in moderation." Jane retorted, laughing softly.

The gamine grin on Kenneth's face was pure Kendra. "Of course. Not only that, but the looks on Sheila's face when you told her who I was, and when you knocked her on her butt were priceless, memories I will cherish forever. I would never have had them if not for you and Kendra."

Jane did not want to discuss it further. "Ruth wants to send me another boy. I told her we'd have to think about it. She said you could go live with her, Kenneth, since if I do take him on, the only way you could stay with me would be as Kendra. Darryl?" she asked the other boy.

"Same answer, Aunt Jane. Count me in. I believe in you one hundred percent."

Tiredly, Jane rose to her feet. "I need to go for a walk and think a bit, boys." Both boys rose and kissed her on her cheek.

~----------~

It was a very introspective Jane Thompson who strolled aimlessly around her home. The simple truth was that she was afraid to take on this student. Just as she had been before Kenneth had arrived on the scene, only more so.

That time she was simply afraid of failure. This time she was afraid she might lose her own soul.

Jane had always known that there were people who played dominance and submission games or sexual games using the props and tools she used with her young men. Having thought about that a great deal since leaving Ruth's house, Jane could understand how it such games could become an obsession, and how an obsession could go beyond the pale and become an evil, twisted thing.

A thing that could consume a person's soul, leaving nothing but the evil behind. As it evidently had with Sheila. Seeing that evil, up close, had given Jane pause. Could *she* fall into that abyss, too? Could Jane end up as evil as Sheila?

Great God above, but she did not want to *ever* become like Sheila. Yes, she enjoyed her games with the boys, enjoyed watching their fearful looks and embarrassed poses, and if she was being completely honest, some of those games even excited her. Is that what finally ate away Sheila's soul? That excitement that fed upon the harsh emotions her program was designed to spark in her young men?

How could Jane continue to put her young men through her program of terror and humiliation now that she knew what was possible?

Jane couldn't seem to find the answer, so she kept on walking, kept on trying to find a solution she could live with.

Jane made her way around the grounds, and found herself thinking of all the be-skirted young men who'd made a similar trek on their way to being given their femme names. She walked into her little English garden and saw Old Tom lovingly pruning one of her climbing rose plants. He saw her and instantly, his old lined face broke into a smile.

"Missus Jane! How are you doing, Ma'am?" he asked in his usual pleasantly gruff tone.

"Hello, Tom. I am fine," she answered pasting a smile on her face. "And you?"

"Doin' fine, Ma'am. . just fine." Then he looked at her more closely. "But, maybe you don't look so very fine. You look like you're carrying a lot of weight on your shoulders."

"I'll be fine. I just have to decide if I am going to take on a new student or not."

Tom returned to his pruning. "I surely do respect what you do here, Ms. Jane, helping those young folks like you do. Must be hard, too, deciding what boys to take in and what boys not to take in."

Jane felt as if someone had just upended a swimming pool filled with ice water over her head. "Tom, I teach girls." she said carefully.

"So it seems. But I have been here since the very first, Ms. Jane, and I have eyes. Every time the young one brings her new friend out to meet me and my boy, well, that new friend almost always has a fit. One of them slipped up once. Not too badly, but badly enough. I started looking more closely then and I think I've figured out what goes on here. By the time one of your lads is far enough along to make the introductions, well, if I didn't know already, I would swear he was a girl, but the new ones. . . well, they do try, but they don't have it all down yet."

Stunned, Jane could not even find the wit to try to dissuade him from his unfortunately correct conclusions. "Why haven't you said anything? Does any one else know?"

"Because it really wasn't any of my business. Still, I figured out pretty quickly that those boys were here to learn manners. I suspect they must need a whole lot of learning if you have to get them into girl clothes before they'd learn anything. They do seem much nicer, more mannerly, when it's their turn to make the next set of introductions. And no, I haven't told anybody - Like I said, it isn't anybody's business but yours."

"Does. . .does your son know, too?"

"That one?!?" Tom snorted. "He's too young to notice anything other than the young missus having pretty legs, or that she smells really good or that she looks very nice in her pretty dresses and make up."

"You've known all this time?" Tom nodded. "And you don't think it is an evil thing to do to those boys?"

The old man gave a bark of laughter. "You aren't an evil woman, Ms. Jane. I've seen you watching over those boys when you think they don't see you for a lot of years now. You're right careful with them and you seem to keep getting new ones so somebody must figure what you do is important. I remember that time the little red haired one fell down and broke his leg. God, he was pitiful, laying there in the driveway just screaming his lungs out. An evil woman would have thought of herself first. You had that little fella in the hospital before you even took the time to wash the makeup off him."

Still amazed, Jane could only shake her head in wonder. She remembered that boy, too. It had taken some mighty fast talking. Fortunately, she'd already enrolled that boy in Deirdre's children's theater so she'd been able to explain the cosmetics that way. Her nurse friend had cut the girlish undies off the boy before anyone else had seen them, but that was as close as she'd ever come to having a boy publicly revealed. "I see." she said softly.

"You worry about being evil, too. The really evil folks I've seen, well, they just don't worry about being evil. They just are and you aren't. I figure it would be a real shame if you thought you could help that young fellow, but didn't try because you worried too much about being evil. Awful lot of bad things out there for boys these days. Too darn few good ones. You're one of the good ones, Missus Jane." he said with a sharp, emphatic nod of his head.

Jane's heart warmed and tears prickled against her eyelids at the words of this old man who had evidently been more a friend to her and her boys than Jane had ever realized.

"Tom?" The old gardener looked up from his pruning at Jane. "What happened to your homey, down east New England accent all of a sudden?"

A wide grin split Tom's face. "Oh, it's still there, Missus, when I need it. When you first came here, I decided to give you a bit of show during the interview. Then, the young'uns started coming along and I just kept using the accent. They just kept coming, each one expecting me to sound like I had when he'd first been introduced to me. I was sort of stuck."

"You are a very sweet man, Tom. I really do appreciate your support and loyalty all these years, even though I never knew until now just how supportive and loyal you truly were." Carefully, so as to avoid the sharp thorns of the trellised rose bush, Jane bent over and pressed a kiss to Old Tom's grizzled, whiskered cheek. "Thank you, Tom. For your silence, your help and your kind words." And then she briskly left the garden in search of Marie and the boys. Her family had some big decisions to make.

~----------~

"Boys, I've decided I want to try to help Ruth's new candidate. Kenneth?" Jane asked. "I made a promise to you, so the final decision is really yours. Stay with me as Kenneth, stay with me as Kendra and help me work the new boy, or stay with Ruth."

"I'd like to stay with Ruth, Aunt Jane. So long as I can come visit you periodically."

"You know you are always welcome, dear. Just make sure any new students are fully indoctrinated first." Jane said warmly before turning to Darryl. "Marie?"

"Bring him on, Jane. I think I am ready for anything after this pair of clowns."

Jane smiled at her friend's joke before turning to the final player in her little play. "And you, Darryl, are you willing to be Darla again for a new "little sister".

Darryl fidgeted in his seat. "Out with it, Darryl. I won't mind if you say no." Jane prompted, even as she held her breath against the disappointment she knew she'd feel if he did say no.

"Oh, it's not that, Aunt Jane. Of course I will help with the new girl, it's just that . ."

"Darla." Jane ordered.

"Could you ask Judge Ruth to *please* make sure we get a *real* one this time? I don't think any of us could handle another one like the last few. Just a nice, average, normally obnoxious-bad boy delinquent you can turn into a good girl, okay?"

"Darryl, my friend." Kenneth put in with an air of great indignation. "Are you perhaps implying that I am not normal?"

"If the high heel fits, sweetie. . ." Darryl replied in Darla's dulcet tones.

"Why you . . ." Kenneth theatrically lunged towards the other boy, but Darryl was prepared for such a maneuver and kept just a step ahead of him.

Jane and Marie watched in tired amusement as the two boys went tearing off, laughing like loons.

"Darryl did say a "normally obnoxious bad boy", didn't he?" Jane asked Marie with a soft chuckle.

"It would be nice." Marie agreed, taking a sip of her drink. "It definitely would be nice. What say we go ask Ruth if she's got one?"

The old, familiar Jane-smile flashed. "Let's go find out, partner."

The End and a New Beginning

 
 
End of Tales of The Season - Kendra's Story



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