Academic Fraud

Caught between a rock and an accusation of academic fraud Josh makes a Faustian bargain.

Academic Fraud
by Angela Rasch

Chapter One
I Did What?

The almost-always, extremely friendly Miss Klein glared at me from behind her desk. “Do you remember signing the academic honor code when you entered Faber University?”

I can remember a few XXXL parties during orientation and the names, bodies, and faces of two girls I met, but not much else. “Sorry. I suppose I did sign it. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything academically dishonest, or even non-academically dishonest.” I’ve got a 3.65 overall and will graduate with honors, so why would I cheat? “Orientation was three and a half years ago . . . almost a lifetime.”

I looked out at the quad in front of the Social Studies complex and watched about a dozen students having a friendly snowball fight at 8:00 A.M. on a Tuesday. In less than four months I would go out into the working world. Although I would miss college life, I was eager to turn the page to start earning enough to pay off my considerable student loan debt.

“Josh . . . I like you.”

How do you respond properly when a professor says she likes you? “I . . . ahhh . . . I enjoyed being in your classes.”

She got out of her chair, and then took a small paperback book from her shelf. “The Faber student handbook is quite specific about these matters.” She paged through the book for a long, awful moment. “Here it is under a list of violations regarding plagiarism.”

Plagiarism? What does that have to do with me?

She tugged on the single gold chain that supported her cameo brooch. It always sweetly complimented the cashmere Black Label Ralph Lauren turtlenecks she favored. “It says plagiarism is, in part, ‘claiming the words, sentences, arguments, rhetorical structures, or ideas of another as your own.’ ”

“I know what plagiarism is, but what does that have to do with me.” Plagiarism is stupid. Everybody knows that.

“This is a printed copy of the last paper you turned in for Psych 408.”

Psych 408 is the Psychology of Emotions course, or “Emo” as we call it. Miss Klein has made it into one of the most popular psychology courses for Faber University upper-classmen. She is famous on campus for telling students not to pursue happiness with so much haste that we hurry right past it.

I studied the small packet she handed to me.

She stood over me as I sat in her side chair waiting for instructions. “Would you read the part I’ve underlined on page two?”

I turned to the second page and read, “ ‘The advantage of emotions is that they lead us astray.’ That’s a quote from Oscar Wilde. I thought it was both funny and straight to the point I was trying to make -- about emotions being a way for our body to allow us to take chances that the analytical part of our egos will not accept.”

“Yes . . . it’s a quite well-known quote from Oscar Wilde . . . that you failed to attribute. And that’s the problem. You claimed Oscar Wilde’s thought as your own.” Once again she glared at me in a way that I’d never before seen. “I run all the papers I review through Grammarly software to check for plagiarism. However, I hardly would have needed a software program to notice that quote.”

I’d been to her home dozens of times when I was dating her niece, Chelsea, who lived with her, but that had been during my junior year. Miss Klein had made dinner for Chelsea and me a number of times. They ate simple food that came from their heritage of well-bred, common sense people. My face burned in shame. “I’m sure I meant to put that in quotation marks,” I stammered. I can’t believe I would make that mistake!

“Faber University has zero tolerance for academic fraud. As much as I like you, I’m going to have to refer this to Dean Wormer for handling. She will have no choice but to expel you immediately.”

EXPELLED! I’m already taking job interviews and very close to landing a position with Westward Industries. That’s my dream job. If I’m expelled, I’ll never get that job or any other job -- above flipping burgers. “You can’t be serious!” The confidence she exuded that made everyone love her told me I had little chance to change her mind. She had achieved her doctorate at 24 and wouldn’t easily be convinced she could be wrong.

She pursed her sensual lips. “I’m afraid I’m duty-bound to be quite serious. You’re the third student who’s been caught this quarter; and the other two were both sent packing.”

I had no idea people were actually tossed out for such a minor violation.
“It was an honest mistake,” I whined. I always use quotation marks and identify who said what.

“Yes . . . you’ve always struck me as an ethical person, which is why I didn’t send this paper over to the dean’s office immediately when I uncovered your cheating.”

Cheating? Can she really be talking about me? It was a simple mistake . . . not cheating! Wait . . . maybe there’s some hope? “You know me Miss Klein. I’ve completed all those personality tests for you. Do you really think I could be a cheat?”

“I do know you, probably better than you know yourself at this point in your life; and no. . .. It’s not in your nature to cheat. Nonetheless. . ..”

“Isn’t there anything I can do to change your mind?”

“I believe in second chances,” she said kindly. “Are you willing to prove to me through your actions that your omission of the proper citation was an error?”

“Of course. Thank you, Miss Klein.”

She sniffed. “Don’t thank me yet. I haven’t told you about what you’ll have to do.” She went behind her desk and sat down. Her hands rifled through a stack of folders until she found one that was marked “Psych 514 Conditioning and Learning”. “I have two graduate students working on a project involving schema. They need a volunteer for their practical application.”

“With all the unemployment you’d think they’d have no problem finding people, if they can pay minimum wage.” At least we’re no longer talking about “cheating” or sending me home.

“It’s the subject matter that’s scaring people off,” she remarked. “They want to tackle the nature versus nurture conundrum that surrounds homosexual activity.”

“What conundrum? Homosexuality isn’t a learned behavior.”

“Intellectually it might not be, but a large portion of this country thinks otherwise; and my students are keeping an open mind. So far they’ve had a very hard time finding real world case studies. Their thesis statement is that even the most avowed heterosexual, given enough homosexual stimulus, will eventually embrace that lifestyle.”

“I can’t believe anyone stupid enough to waste their time on that premise could get into Faber.” I asked. “Who are those morons?”

“Morons?” She smiled a bit crookedly. “I suppose I should take offense when you call my niece a ‘moron’.”

Chapter Two
Reunited

Chelsea had moved in with Professor Klein permanently after her parents were massacred. They had been in the wrong place — Africa treating AIDs patients — at the wrong time, when a civil riot resulted in them being cut down by machetes.

Chelsea broke off our one-year relationship over something really stupid that I did.

I had spent an afternoon in Ferdie’s Pub watching a game on TV with my friends. Ferdie’s was located about four blocks off Faber campus and survived by showing ballgames on their big screen TVs and booking local garage bands on the weekends. It was the most popular hangout for most of the college kids.

We’d already had too much beer, so when the bartender offered a free pitcher, if we played his game, I drunkenly agreed.

The game was easy. I was to write the full first name and last name initial of every girl I had slept with who attended Faber on a napkin, sign it, and then give it to the bartender. The other three guys at our table were to compile their own list of girls they thought I had slept with . . . without any help from me. If at least four of the names on the two lists matched, the bartender would give us the free beer.

It sounded simple and easy. I compiled a list of the six girls I’d slept with during college, and then waited to see if my friends knew as much about me as they thought.

They came up with five of the six, and then the bartender gave us our free round. He even took a picture of me to “put behind the bar to commemorate” our win.

I didn’t think anything more about it until two weeks later when Ferdie’s unveiled their “trophy” case. The bartender had sucked several other idiots like me into playing the same game and had kept all the napkins. The damning napkins had been mounted on walnut plaques, with our pictures. Needless to say, “Chelsea K.” wasn’t amused.

And now I have to do everything she says, or I’ll get expelled from college.

I walked up the front walk to her home mentally reviewing her aunt’s demand.

“You will,” Miss Klein had said, “do whatever Chelsea tells you to do . . . without question. If she reports to me that you so much as frowned, Dean Wormer will have you paper in her hands within minutes; and you can kiss your diploma goodbye.”

“I made a stupid mistake that now I have to pay for,” I said to myself as a neared Professor Klein’s home. “I’m a stand up guy who admits his errors and pays the piper. What can Chelsea possibly make me do that would be more embarrassing and life-changing than getting bounced out of school?” I snorted. “Let Chelsea do her worst. I can take it. I’m certainly not going to become a homosexual.”

Chelsea answered the door within seconds of my ringing the bell. “My aunt called to tell me you were on your way over.”

Chelsea was looking hotter than I remembered. She had always been one of the most beautiful girls on campus -- right down to that cute little mole on her left cheek. I tried unsuccessfully to apologize one more time for the Ferdie’s incident, but her pointed finger and a stern face directed me to an upstairs bathroom.

“The first thing is for you to take a bath.” She had prepared a tub filled with hot water and fragrant bubbles.

“As I recall, you don’t have a lot of body hair,” she smirked. “When we’re done, you will be perfectly hairless.”

Huh! I waited a moment for her to leave the room, but she didn’t budge, so I disrobed, and then climbed in the tub. There wasn’t anything she hadn’t seen before, under much better circumstances.

She gathered my clothes. “I see you’re still wearing your steel-toed boots.”

I had purchased them for a job I thought I was going to get fighting forest fires in Colorado. The job fell through and the shoes never wore out, so I’d been wearing them for school for three years. Most of my clothing had been assembled just as randomly.

She put my clothing in a small banker’s box, and then wrote on the side with a red-felt pen. “Josh’s Clothes Prior to Case Study”. She carried them away.

“I hear you think I’m a moron,” she admonished after she came back from wherever she had gone with my things.

“I . . . I didn’t mean that. I meant anyone who thinks homosexuality is something you learn is badly mistaken.”

She frowned, something I wasn’t at liberty to do. “And . . . you have proof for that statement? . . . No. Of course you don’t. It’s going to be fun having you help me prove how very wrong you are.”

The doorbell chimed. Chelsea left and came back in a couple of minutes with a girl with short red hair I’d seen a few times before, but had not met. They both walked into the bathroom and looked down at me like they owned me.

Which I suppose they do — in a way. She’s almost as good-looking as Chelsea.

She didn’t smile. Her small, lawyerish eyes sank even further back into her head like the sight of me was causing her vision to shut down. “Are you bi-sexual?”

My head snapped back. First of all I had been ordered into a scented bathtub my ex-girlfriend and was being eyed by a stranger; and secondly, “what’s your sexuality” wasn’t usually the first question a person asked you. “No,” I sputtered. “Hell no. I’m straight. Just ask Chelsea. Who are you?”

“I’m Megan. I know you have had sex with women . . . everyone who has been to Ferdie’s knows that. But, for our work, we need to know if you have homosexual tendencies.”

“None.” I stared straight ahead, realizing that I had made a deal with the devil; and these two were appraising my soul.

Megan spoke with clinical bluntness. “We intend to put you into situations that would be common to a homosexual lifestyle. It is our belief that you will become attracted to members of your own gender and will soon become what society calls a ‘homosexual’, or, at least, bi-sexual.”

“Nonsense,” I said quietly.

“My aunt asked me to call her immediately if you show any signs of non-cooperation,” Chelsea warned. “Are you willing to promise me right now that you will set aside your pre-conceived notions in the name of scientific study.”

“Sure, but. . ..”

She cut me off. “Good. Now let’s shave all the hair off your body. We’ll need to keep what’s on top your head. In fact, it’s a good thing that you’ve kept your hair so long.”

My hair had been shoulder-length since junior high. The only sport I had participated in had been snowboarding; and Shaun White was my idol. Some of the girls who watched me snowboarding said I looked a lot like Shaun, but at 5’8” he’s four inches taller than me. And, at 154 pounds he’s more than thirty pounds bigger.

Megan and Chelsea approached the tub brandishing pink razors and “Skintimate” shaving cream.

“Why do you want to shave off my body hair?”

“You don’t need to know,” Chelsea stated.

“And . . . we do not need to explain,” Megan added.

“But . . . so that you’re not totally confused . . . I’m going to tell you the basics,” Chelsea allowed.

“Thank you.” Chelsea was always fair and open-minded. . .until I screwed-up.

As she spoke, Chelsea carefully worked on my left underarm with her razor. “People are usually attracted to the people who are attracted to them. Would you agree?”

“Uh-huh,” I agreed.

“We’re going to make you look attractive to men. When men let you know that they find you appealing as a sexual partner, you will start to feel differently about them.”

I shook my head defiantly.

Chelsea narrowed her eyes. “You promised.”

What can it hurt to play along? The alternative is disaster. “We’ll see.”

She smiled. “Yes . . . we will see. If you work hard with us, my aunt has promised to give you full college credit . . . enough to graduate . . . for your time. She’s as eager as we are to prove our thesis. You won’t have to take any other classes for your last quarter and a half, to fulfill your scholastic requirements. If you really try to work with us, you will get an “A” -- and you’ll surely make Phi Beta Kappa.”

Phi Beta Kappa! That’s a lot better than getting tossed.
“Okay . . . I get it. You’re going to make me look and act like a sissy. You think I’m going to faint in a dead swoon from all the attention men give me and subsequently fall in love.”

“Not quite,” Megan said. “We intend to make you ‘look and act like’ one of the hottest girls on campus.”

Chapter Three

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

At the very moment when I realized what Chelsea and Megan had in mind, Megan was shaving the hair off my privates; otherwise I probably would have jumped up and ran from the house. . .stark naked in the freezing cold.

“My aunt said you might have some anxiety issues,” Chelsea said. She handed me two pills and a glass of water. “These will help you with your fears.”

Why not? Megan just shaved my balls. What’s a couple of pills? I swallowed them. “Your aunt,” I said to Chelsea, “said you were having trouble finding someone for your case study. Now I know why. What if you’re right — who would want to change their sexuality?”

Megan set her face in a pout. “Geez. . .I really do not ‘get’ why Chelsea would leave me to start dating someone as dense as you.”

“What?”

“It is not like were going to feed you rat poison to test what kind of boils grow on your body,” Megan said. “All we are going to do is help you see what life is like as a female.”

Megan? Now I remember. She’s the one who drives the bright yellow hummer. Apparently not afraid to be a little different. “But . . . ,” I protested. “I’m 100% male; and no one is ever going to believe I’m a girl.” This seems like déjá  vu.

“Maybe . . . maybe not,” Chelsea said. “One summer I transformed my Cousin Donna from a hulking tomboy to a graceful beauty queen. She won the Northern Ohio River Festival and rode on a float in the Tournament of Roses Parade. She looked a lot more manly than you do now … before I started working with her.”

I started to register disbelief, and then remembered my promise to be positive. “Are you sure your aunt said I would be inducted into Phi Beta Kappa?” I could have my pick of jobs!

“You do your part; and she’ll come through,” Chelsea promised, “whether I’m right. . .or wrong. My aunt has never failed me . . . or anyone else.”

Her reputation with the student body is solid, but this study doesn’t smell right.

“The first thing you have to do is start thinking of the two of us as your sorority sisters.” Megan shook a finger at me, as she looked down at my raging hard-on poking through the bubbles.

“Megan and I are going to think of you as a homosexual, which will help you toward the goal we’ve set,” Chelsea explained.

She’s out for revenge. How messed-up is that? She thinks she can punish me by making me into something other than what I am? I have a lot of homosexual friends who are great human beings. This whole thing is wrong on so many levels.

“You are done in the tub,” Megan said. “Towel yourself off and use that bath powder on the sink to cover your body.”

The round, pink box she pointed toward had the words “Juicy Couture” on it.

“When you’re finished, come out to the bedroom,” Chelsea ordered.

I obediently powdered my body, noting a scent that I would call sort of romantic and maybe even a little playful.

When I was younger my mother would sometimes use a powder that smelled a lot like that to dry me, when I was feeling down and needed to have a good night’s sleep. I would like to have a girlfriend who smelled like that powder. Thank goodness I currently don’t have a girlfriend, or I would have some explaining to do. As it is, I don’t know what I’m going to do about my sister’s wedding in a few weeks, if this experiment lasts that long.

I walked from the bathroom with a towel circling my waist.

“Not like that,” Megan shrieked. She pulled the towel off me, and then reset it under my armpits . . . hanging like a . . . shoulderless shift dress.

“Please don’t yell at me,” I pleaded quietly. “I’ll do my best, but you’re going to have to have a some patience.”

Megan caught me in her gaze. “Do you think you are the only one who has to worry about graduating?” She asked in anger. “I am a doctoral candidate. What do you think the pressure is like for me to get this whole project moving?”

“Take it easy, Megan.” Chelsea touched Megan’s arm . . . apparently to calm her.

“Easy? First I lose you to him, and now you want to go soft when we need to be firm for the sake of our study.” Megan had set her jaw.

Chelsea’s eyes suggested she felt Megan’s pain. She spoke softly, but with purpose. “What happened between us was three years ago, and our break up had nothing to do with Josh.”

I looked from Megan to Chelsea, suddenly seeing things quite differently.

“Megan’s right,” Chelsea stated suddenly. “We don’t have time for you to give a half-hearted effort. I think we need you to become a bit more docile. From now on I want you to look at the floor a lot more than you look me in the eyes. You’re to speak softly and in short sentences. Please talk only when you must, to help us re-create you.”

I can be Phi Beta Kappa, or I can be branded as a cheater for the rest of my life.
I stared at the floor and whispered. “Yes, Chelsea.”

“Good girl,” Megan said. “Now pick out a pair of panties from those we have laid out on the bed. They are all your size; and we intend for you to wear a beige skirt with a white blouse and black heels.”

I mentally rejected over a third of what they offered; they just weren’t right. Finally, I picked what I thought was suitable.

“Those are cotton, full-cut briefs,” Megan explained. “Were you attracted to the ivory color or the frilly waistband?”

I have no idea how to respond without being negative or assertive . . . or telling them too much.
I kept my eyes glued to the floor and bit my lip.

“This is the matching bra,” Chelsea said. “And, these are the inserts to help you have a figure. We will require you wear padding on your hips as well, but not today.”

They helped me get dressed -- explaining how to take care with each item so that I wouldn’t ruin them. Much of what they said was a good reminder.

“Everything fits so well because Chelsea had all your male sizes, from a year ago when she attempted to help you upgrade your wardrobe,” Megan explained.

“Actually I know that you and I are just about the same size,” Chelsea explained.

How absolutely embarrassing! My size hasn’t been a huge problem for me, but I hate to think of myself as some sort of shrimp. Chelsea is small, even for a girl. I have to buy my 26x26 jeans in the boys’ department, and even then I have to shorten the legs a little.

“Let me do your hair and make-up,” Chelsea asked. “You need to watch everything I do and ask questions if you don’t understand. You’re going to be doing this for quite awhile.”

Chapter Four
Kayla, Kayla, Kayla

For the next three hours they plucked, brushed, painted, and sprayed. All along they spoke to me about how they wanted me to act, walk, talk, and live. Several times Chelsea left the room; when she came back her eyes were puffy and red. I assumed she had been laughing uncontrollably at my plight, so much so that she shed actual tears.

The plan was for me to move into the back bedroom of Miss Klein’s house. I didn’t realize it at the time, but she was going to be an active participant in the project.

“Kayla,” Chelsea said suddenly. “It just struck me that you look like a Kayla.”

“I couldn’t say,” I remarked truthfully in a soft voice. “I haven’t seen myself since I shaved in the mirror this morning.”

“You must be dying of curiosity,” Chelsea stated.

I nodded. Actually the longer I can go without seeing how ridiculous they’ve made me look . . . the better.

The led me by the hand down the hall to a room with a full-length mirror. My heels clicked on the hardwood floor -- the echoing sound mocked me.

As the three of us came into view I was struck by how similar we looked, like the cast of Pretty Little Liars . . . three indistinguishable babes. Then it hit me. They’ve made me look quite pretty. I didn’t expect that. As I continued to look all of the smaller details added up. The painted nails, the studs in my newly pierced ears, the curl in my hair (which Chelsea said she wanted to have tinted), my dimple, which looked much more natural on my feminized face . . . it all screamed one word . . . girl.

I was flooded by distant dark memories.

“You can use this purse,” Megan said. She handed me a Louis Vuitton clutch

She’s been talking to me. I hope I didn’t miss too much.

“We have to hurry,” Chelsea urged. “Our reservations are for 5:30.”

“Reservations?”

They both giggled.

“You have been in la-la-land staring at yourself,” Chelsea accused. “My aunt mustn’t be left waiting for us for dinner at the restaurant.”

“Dinner? What time is it?” I asked. Had you asked me, I would have said 2:00.

“It is 5:15,” Megan chirped.

“We missed lunch,” I observed. “I got here at about 9:30 and we haven’t had a break all day.”

“We were busy,” Chelsea explained. “Missing a few lunches won’t hurt you. You need to drop about ten pounds. Let’s get a move on. Here’s your coat.”

“You’re not serious?” I asked, hopping she was kidding.

“Sometimes the best way to learn how to swim is to jump into the deep end of the pool,” Megan said.

“I’ll drown,” I wailed.

“Take these,” Chelsea said handing me another two pills and a glass of water.

I need some help relaxing. I obediently swallowed them.

Chelsea directed my arms into the sleeves of the softest leather coat I’d ever worn.

I withered under Chelsea’s glare. She wants me to be brave. Those eyes. They were what attracted me to Chelsea in the first place; and they are what I still see late at night when I stare at the ceiling and kick myself for having lost her.

Megan caught me with a spray of Juicy Couture perfume and proclaimed me ready.

My legs turned into lumps of lead. “I’m not sure. . ..” I know I can do this. What’s wrong with me.

They each grabbed an arm and pulled me out the door. We took Megan’s car and drove to a restaurant about twenty minutes from campus. Because it was so far from school, and because it was an upscale restaurant, I felt safe that we wouldn’t run into any of my friends.

My nylon stockings provided almost no protection from the brisk 15-degree weather. “How do you girls stand the cold in skirts.”

“You are one of us now,” Megan reminded me. “We are acclimated a little more to the cold than you are.”

Chelsea laughed as we entered the restaurant. “When I was a freshman the school newspaper ran a fake article about how woman develop another layer of fat to deal with the cold. All of us girls fell for it, vowing we were going to move to somewhere warm.”

“Can I help you ladies?” the headwaiter asked.

At least he said “ladies”.

“We’re joining Professor Klein,” Chelsea answered. “Her usual table is in the Algonquin Alcove.”

“Of course. Right this way.” His manner suggested a great deal of respect for Professor Klein.

Other than a slight stumble when my heel caught a rough spot in the carpeting I think I presented a perfect picture of a young female professional out for an evening on the town with her friends. Those pills are amazing!

Professor looked up from her perusal of the menu and smiled graciously. “My, the three of you look simply fantastic.”

Do I curtsy? I lowered my eyes and watched for clues from Chelsea and Megan.

“We’re starved,” Chelsea bubbled. “It’s been quite a day; and we missed lunch.”

“Can I get you ladies something from the bar?” the waiter asked while delivering our menus. “I’ll have to see your IDs.”

My ID. Showing my ID would be . . . interesting.
“I’ll have a Seven-Up.” I’d kill for a beer!

Megan and Chelsea both produced their driver’s licenses and ordered white wine, which was what Professor Klein was drinking.

After the waiter left Professor Klein turned toward me. “Are you having any second thoughts?” Her face had become the caring person I was accustomed to knowing. There was a persistent rumor around campus that her husband had a gambling addiction and refused her attempts to help him. She had been divorced at least five years before I came to Faber.

Chelsea broke in. “Would you mind terribly if we dispense with titles and simply address you as Amy? Kayla’s going to be living in our home; and it’s going to feel awkward. . .otherwise.”

Professor Klein smiled broadly. “Kayla has always been one of my favorite students. I trust her. If we can keep proper decorum while we’re on campus, all three of you can address me as Amy in most other situations. Use discretion,” she cautioned. “Chelsea called this afternoon after she picked your name to see if I thought it was consistent with how were approaching this study.”

Once again I felt the need to bite my lip and cast my eyes downward.

“We have set some boundaries,” Megan explained. “In order to properly conduct this study we feel compelled to stimulate you with girly-girl experiences. That is why you will wear skirts and dresses, but no slacks. Your perfume will tend to be romantic and flowery. Your make-up will be a bit more dramatic than average.”

“But you do look like a Kayla,” Chelsea confirmed. “Girls named Kayla tend to be a bit goofy, but always lovable.”

“You blush prettily,” Amy observed.

I could feel my blush intensify.

“Oh look!” Megan said. “That is Tamera Stallings from Channel 5. She is wearing Versace.”

“Are we underdressed?” Chelsea whined.

“Tamera always is bit overstated,” Amy said as she waved back to the news anchor’s acknowledgement of her presence. “She’s either coming from, or going to, an affair.”

The way she said “affair” carried at least two meanings -- causing Megan and Chelsea to giggle.

The waiter brought water for all of us.

I realized I was extremely thirsty and took a drink. When I set the glass on the table I saw lipstick on the rim. Incredible! For the last several minutes I had completely forgotten that I’m dressed as a woman. In fact, for some reason I’m strangely calm about the whole thing, almost as if it feels right.

Remembering what Chelsea had said about needing to lose weight I ordered a Cobb salad instead of the steak I really wanted.

The others ordered some form of pasta.

After the waiter left Chelsea said she was going to freshen up before our meal arrived. She stood and asked if I wanted to go with her.

“Oh,” I said, understanding that she was inviting me to go with her to the ladies’ room. I shrugged. “I suppose I’m going to have to get used to that sometime.” I rose and followed Chelsea, being careful to take my purse . . . a habit Megan and Chelsea had drummed into me all afternoon.

Chelsea and I were the only two in the bathroom. We did what we had to, freshened our make-up, and then returned to the table.

“This is my favorite table,” Amy said after we sat.

“That’s what Chelsea said,” I remarked.

Amy nodded. “I always try to sit here. I like it because I can see who comes and goes from the restaurant and yet have a private conversation. Sometimes it’s important to be able to say things without fear of being overheard.” She turned toward me. “You seem rather calm for someone who’s being forced to do something many people would find disconcerting.”

I smiled. “I was just thinking the same thing. For some reason this day hasn’t been as bad as I would have ever imagined . . . other than being accused of cheating.”

“About that,” Amy said sadly. “I’m so sorry, and profusely apologize. You didn’t cheat. That was all a ruse to get you to go along with everything that happened today.”

Chapter Five
Tell Me Why

I had just loaded my fork with salad. It was suspended halfway between my plate and my mouth, while I digested what Amy had just said. I didn’t cheat!

“Do you remember what I asked you to do before you came to my office this morning?” Amy asked.

I placed my salad fork back on my plate. “You told me to leave my laptop and all other personal devices in my dorm room,” I answered. “You said it was important that we would not be disturbed during our discussion by someone texting or sending an e-mail.”

Amy covered my left hand with hers. The polish on her nails was the same shade of deep red as Megan had used on mine. The nail extensions glued to my fingers actually had the effect of making my hands look more feminine than Amy’s . . . or maybe it was the rings. I didn’t cheat!

“When you left my office, did you go directly to my house, as I asked?”

I nodded.

“I was sure you would do what I asked,” Amy said, “and you didn’t disappoint.”

“How is everything?” the waiter asked while refilling our glasses. If he noticed the lipstick smudge on the rim of my glass, he didn’t act as if anything was out of the ordinary. To him we were apparently just four females enjoying dinner.

When he left Professor Klein continued. “You sent your paper to me electronically. It was a simple thing for me to change it by removing the quotation marks and your reference to Oscar Wilde. I couldn’t take the chance that you would check your copy and discover my deception, so I restricted your access to your computer, phones and tablet.”

I picked up my glass of water and took a drink. The fragrance from the perfume Chelsea had rolled onto my wrist wafted into my nose creating a pleasant recognition of how I presented myself to the world. “I don’t get it. Why would you accuse me of plagiarism and. . ..” My hand swept elegantly, indicating all the changes that had been made. At that moment a slight pang reminded me of the studs in my lobes, another titillating reminder of my current state.

“Your male ego forced us,” Amy explained. “Everyone should eat. This food will go to waste if we let it get cold.”

Megan and Chelsea obediently dove into their pasta. I picked up my salad fork but remained much more curious than hungry. “ ‘My male ago’?”

“Absolutely,” Amy went on. “You do look quite nice tonight, by the way. When you were in the ladies’ room did Chelsea have to help you repair your make-up?”

“No, I did it myself,” I answered with some pride.

“You did an excellent job.” She smiled broadly as her eyes travelled over me. “I’m not at all surprised at how graceful you move. Did the girls have to work with you long on how to walk in heels?”

“About ten minutes,” I said, not comprehending where the conversation was going,

“More like five minutes,” Megan said, correcting me. “Kayla is already better in heels than I am. It’s second nature to her.”

“First nature,” Chelsea argued. “That’s what this is all about.”

“What is?” I asked. I could use some wine.

“I’ve had a special interest in you for quite some time,” Professor Klein said. “Your personality profiles indicated several issues that created concerns. Our conversations have led me to believe that you have a gender disorder. Left unaddressed it could result in severe guilt and resulting psychosis, or loss of connection to reality.”

My mind reeled. For a moment, anger swelled inside of me. “Now I get it. I stupidly embarrassed Chelsea by publicly listing her as someone I had sex with. So . . . you three decide to get revenge by tricking me into all of this. What next? Are you going to post pictures of me dressed this way in the trophy case at Ferdie’s?”

A protracted moment of silence passed as the three of them exchanged glances.

Perhaps that’s exactly what they have planned.

Chelsea nodded toward her aunt.

“No one is trying to embarrass you,” Amy said softly. “Consider this. If we posted your picture like you’ve suggested -- wouldn’t the entire story come out? If the university discovered that I tricked you using the trappings of my position as your professor, I would be fired.”

Dean Wormer wouldn’t put up with Professor Klein using her position to seek revenge for what I did to Chelsea. “Are you telling me I don’t have to go along with all this, if I don’t want to?”

“Forcing you to take part was all nonsense,” Amy said. “Megan and Chelsea’s study would only be valid if you’re a willing participant. If you decide you don’t want to take part, you’ll still receive full credit for the rest of this quarter and will be given an “A”. Of course, in that case you’ll have to take a full load of courses next quarter to graduate.”

I nodded.

“We intend to explain everything to your satisfaction. But, would you mind answering a few questions,” Amy asked.

I bit my lip. Funny. Before today I can’t remember biting my lip much. Now it’s becoming a frequent response. “Okay.”

“How do you feel about your hair being arranged into a mass of curls?” Amy asked kindly.

My hand flew to touch the springiness that surrounded my head. “It’s not that much different. My hair has always been naturally curly, especially after a day out on the slopes in a light snowfall.”

“I don’t imagine it has ever looked as pretty as it looks tonight,” Megan said. “I wish my hair was as thick and curly as yours.”

I could feel a blush creeping over me.

“It would really look nice with some red highlights,” Chelsea said. She had mentioned that three or four times while she was curling it.

“If I was really a girl,” I admitted, “I would say I look a lot better with my hair like this than how it was . . . yesterday.”

“Thank you for being honest,” Amy said. She covered my hand with hers again. “Chelsea and I spent hours selecting your skirt and blouse. We wanted them to be exactly right. Are you comfortable wearing them?”

My blush deepened. “Yes.” I spoke softly, not because of Chelsea’s orders, which I now realized had also been a ruse, but because speaking boisterously seemed unnatural.

“Is there anything about how you’re dressed right now that is uncomfortable?” Amy asked.

“I don’t care much for the false eyelashes,” I complained honestly.

“I don’t know any woman who does like them. Look . . . I really do apologize for the angst we caused,” Amy said. “But . . . honestly. Had I not accused you of plagiarism, and had I asked you this morning to spend today getting dressed in that skirt and blouse for dinner in this restaurant, how would you have reacted?”

“I probably would have gotten up and walked out of your office.”

“Exactly,” Amy said. “Your male ego would have demanded that you vehemently assert your masculinity.”

I closed my eyes and searched for my masculinity beneath my feminine appearance. My minds eye centered on my penis, which I suddenly realized had not been stiff since early that morning. After some initial confusion it had been un-aroused. Those pills!

I turned toward Chelsea. “There were times today that you and Megan were pretty bossy.”

She laughed strangely. “That was all planned. I got over being mad at you long ago when Amy explained that your mistake at Ferdie’s was classic over-compensation. I still. . ..” Her voice trailed off; and she suddenly excused herself and went to the ladies’ room.

“It’s been a long day for all of us,” Amy explained. “Chelsea called me in tears twice today. She didn’t at all like the domination part of our trickery.”

“I thought . . . oh -- I was so stupid!”

“Not at all,” Megan said. “As the day went on I developed a great deal of respect for your intelligence. You’re like a sponge absorbing everything we were telling you. I’m absolutely amazed at how easily you’ve adapted to a female persona.”

“That’s the work of those pills,” I said. “Chelsea said they’re anti-anxiety pills, but I’ll bet they’re some super fast acting hormones. Am I going to grow breasts?”

“If you want breasts, I can prescribe the necessary drugs. As a psychiatrist I do have that right. But the pills you ingested today were placebos. Your feminine gestures tonight are all your doing.”

Really? “Was there any part of what I was told today that was true?” I drummed the table with my lengthy nails while I waited for a response.

“Chelsea’s on her way back,” Amy said. “Let’s wait until she joins us.”

At that moment the waiter came back to see if anyone wanted dessert.

“I’d love a Brandy Alexander,” I whined, “but I didn’t bring my ID.”

“I can vouch for Kayla,” Amy said to the waiter.

“That won’t be necessary,” the young man said. “I have a personal rule. I never deny the prettiest girl in the restaurant anything she wants.”

I smiled, pleased with his compliment.

The others ordered after-dinner drinks, and then the waiter left.

“Kayla asked if anything today was real,” Amy explained to Chelsea. “I had told her about the pills being fakes.”

Chelsea looked toward me. “Everything else was pretty much true. Megan and I are doing the project.”

“Will you really nominate me for Phi Beta Kappa if I take part in this project?” I asked Professor Klein.

She smiled. “Actually, I nominated you over a month ago. You’re not supposed to find out for another six weeks, but you’ve already been approved.”

“Will that be rescinded if I refuse to continue to take part in this study?” I asked.

She shook her head. “Of course not; you’ve earned the honor of being inducted into Phi Beta Kappa Society.”

The waiter delivered our drinks. “And, for the most beautiful girl I’ve seen in this restaurant . . . ever -- a Brandy Alexander.”

For the umpteenth time that day I blushed.

“I could get fired for asking for your phone number,” he said, “but here’s mine. If you feel like it, please text me. My name is Dave.”

I simply stammered, “Thank you.”

After he left Chelsea was the first to talk. “He’s cute. Your first male admirer.”

“Not really,” I admitted. I turned toward Professor Klein. “How much about my childhood have you discussed with Megan and Chelsea?”

Chapter Six
The Real Deal

“What you disclosed to me on your surveys and in the follow-up discussions is privileged information,” Professor Klein said before slipping into the more familiar “Amy” mode. “However, circumstances did demand that I share with them an overview of my conclusions and fears for your well-being.”

“So they don’t know about Anne?” I asked.

“I’ve told no one.”

“Who’s Anne? You never mentioned Anne to me when we were dating.” Chelsea narrowed her eyes.

I took a sip of my ice cream drink and then dabbed my lips with my napkin so as not to mess my make-up. “There’s a reason I can walk so well in heels.”

The three of them signaled with their silence that I should continue. Professor Amy urged me on with a nod. So . . . I told them about my life while growing up.

***

My father passed away when I was four leaving my mother, my sister, Brittany, and me alone in the world. Our house was out in the country far enough away from our neighbors so that I grew up spending most of my time playing with my sister.

Brittany had suffered through two years of hospitalization before I was born. Mom never got over the habit of giving her everything she wanted . . . and more.

My sister would write one-act plays; and she and I would star in them. For some reason I was always a female named Anne. Brittany would sometimes play the role of my sister, or my mother or my brother. In one play she was my long lost boyfriend, Danny. He found his way home from WWI after convalescing in a hospital in France for three years remembering nothing. His memory came back in one huge surge when he saw a rose blooming in a garden and recalled it was my favorite flower.

Our costumes for the plays were always quite elaborate. Mom would help us by sewing what we needed. Brittany demanded that every rehearsal had to be a dress rehearsal. Most days it was simpler just to stay in my acting clothes all day long. My character always wore frilly dresses and had long ribbons in her hair. Since Mom kept my hair quite long I made a convincing girl, or lady. My age in the play depended on Brittany’s writing.

I went along with wearing panties, girl’s underthings, and high heels, but drew the line at French-kissing Danny, which was supposed to be the passionate final scene of that particular play. “Anne” could only be pushed so far. I would kiss Brittany, but no tongue. Brittany made up for what she missed in tonsil hockey by roaming my body liberally with her hands. She claimed to be a “method” actor who needed to identify emotionally with the part.

One summer when I was fourteen I decided it was time for me to start making some money mowing lawns. I told Mom and Brittany of my plans and that I wouldn’t have time to act in any more plays. The next day they told me that they had decided we should take a family vacation in the Rockies.

Within a week we took the Amtrak Empire Builder to Whitefish, Montana, and then we were bused to a small resort on a crystal clear mountain lake. Prior to leaving home Mom had bought us all new “travelling” clothes. Mine seemed defective in that the fabric was so flimsy and the shirts buttoned on the wrong side. Even the underwear was much more lightweight than what I usually wore. The new shoes she got for me were penny loafers that didn’t seem extremely durable. She said “travelling” clothes were especially designed to be comfortable on a long train ride. During our trip I was constantly mistaken for a girl. I was used to that because of my long hair, which Mom told me made me look like a rock star.

When we got to the resort we discovered the railroad had made a mistake with my luggage. They had somehow switched my trunk with someone else’s. The clothes in the trunk were for a girl Brittany’s age, although the sizes were too small for Brittany . . . and just right for me. Even the shoes appeared to be my size. Evidently the owner of the trunk was flat-chested, because her bras came with “cheaters”.

Mom left me in our dude ranch cabin and used the phone in the lodge to call the railroad. She came back in fifteen minutes and reported her frustration. The railroad had told her they would try to find my things, but warned that in most instances once an error like that was made it had been impossible to trace.

It was two hours by bus from the ranch to the nearest clothing store; and the bus only made the trip once a week to take guests in and out. Besides, Mom said she had spent a lot of money for our vacation and really didn’t have any extra left to buy me a set of clothes for a month. Her reasoning seemed hollow in that she churned out romance novels under the name Shirley Truelove, and made what Brittany often said was a boatload of money.

Nonetheless, I would just have to be “Anne” for our entire vacation. Luckily the trunk had a one-piece swimsuit. Unluckily, whoever owned the trunk didn’t care much for jeans since it only contained skirts and fancy sundresses. The owner also seemingly loved ultra-feminine nightwear, so I spent the entire vacation sleeping in negligees.

When we went on horseback rides I had to ride sidesaddle and keep my skirt from billowing in the wind and exposing my frilly underwear.

Mom said it would add to my cover to wear make-up. I used the skills I had developed as an “actress” to keep my face properly painted. Brittany suggested that I needed to keep the fuzz off my face, arms, and legs, so that also became a daily regimen, even though I wasn’t really ready for actual shaving.

I had been “Anne” in so many productions that I easily fell into the role and had no problem other than trying to negotiate the gravel parking lot to the dining room in my high heels. I even came to enjoy the “fun” sundresses. The other guests commented on how nice it was to see a girl who actually knew how a young lady should look and act.

I went to dinner on our last night dressed in a dark sapphire, flare holiday dress that showed off my deep tan. Mom said its fluttering sleeves and glamorous beading made me look extremely enchanting. I had taken Brittany’s advice and had stepped up my make-up to take on the role of a young woman “on the prowl” for our final evening at the resort. To me it was just the final act of my role in “Anne on Vacation”.

Unfortunately, Andy took the bait. He was a cowhand who worked with the trail horses. Brittany had a crush on him the first week we were there, but he’d shown no interest, so she had struck up a romance with Billy, another tourist. Andy definitely was the cuter of the two. He stood several inches over six feet and had stacked muscle on muscle tossing around bales of alfalfa.

Mom was sitting next to me at the dining room table when Andy asked if I wanted to go out on the dock to “look at the lake.”

“Go on,” Mom had said. “You came on this vacation to create a few memories.”

I didn’t know what to say, so the next moment I found myself on the dock stepping into a rowboat. Andy must have planned things, because normally the rowboat would have been stored in the boathouse. More importantly, that was the first and only time I saw Andy that his brown Great Dane Bullet wasn’t right at his heels.

It was cold out on the lake in the glacier-fed water. When Andy offered to sit next to me to keep me warm I readily agreed. It also felt nice when he put his arm around me and pulled me into his body’s heat. Knowing how strong he was I decided it would have been foolish to struggle. When he kissed me I knew the only rational thing would be to try to enjoy it.

Chapter Seven
Creating Some Memories

Dave came back and flirted a bit more while collecting Amy’ s credit card and settling the bill.

As we were leaving the restaurant, Megan suggested we all meet at Professor Klein’s house. I rode with Amy who made small talk about the weather and Faber University’s famous marching band, who would be in the annual parade the next day.

Once we were all together at Professor Amy’s house she served white wine; and we sat in her living room.

“Did you enjoy the kiss . . . Andy’s kiss?” Chelsea asked, bringing us back to where we all seemed to want to be.

I closed my eyes and felt the lake breeze . . . and his eager lips. “Uh huh. Actually he kissed me more than once.”

“And. . ..” Megan demanded.

“You don’t have to tell them,” Amy reminded me. “It’s entirely up to you.”

“I think they should know,” I said. “I’ve decided to go on with the study.”

“That’s wonderful,” they all enthused.

Professor Klein’s smile seemed the most radiant.

“Since the study. . .. Well, I think you should know what happened on the lake.” I took a moment with my eyes closed to gather my distant thoughts. “Kissing is kissing. Since Andy was my first I didn’t realize how much different a male kiss was from a kiss with a girl. He seemed to like me, so it was . . . nice. It’s nice being liked.”

“Uh huh,” Professor Klein said. “No one’s judging you. Life isn’t as easy as some people make it seem. We are whom we are. Please continue with your bio.”

“Andy had come up from our kisses and started to compliment me on how I was the prettiest thing who’d ever come to their resort. He acted like that Dave acted tonight at the restaurant. . .sort of goofy. He said I was as pretty as a newborn colt, which seemed nice, but now when I just said it, it sounds sort of dumb. I guess you had to be there.”

They nodded.

“It was one of those Montana nights. They call it Big Sky Country. You can see more stars there because there’s so little unnatural lighting, I suppose. We could hear music from the lodge. Of course, it was a love song. . .She Will Be Loved by Maroon Five.”

“Wow!” Chelsea whistled. “And . . . you were only fourteen. How old was Andy?”

“I’m guessing he was nineteen or twenty. His beard stubble that had looked so sexy when he was feeding the horses hay, was a little annoying when we kissed. He said he wanted to be a veterinarian, but I don’t know if he’d actual gone to college yet. His hands and nose were full-grown, that much I know for sure. I’ve never seen any larger.”

“Was he gentle with you?” Chelsea asked.

“Very. He used his gigantic fingers to trace by cheekbones, as if he was trying desperately to memorize my face. He caressed my leg, but never tried to push his hand higher than my lower thigh . . . although I had foolishly parted my knees, as if to invite him.”

“Oh,” Chelsea gasped. “I don’t suppose you had any idea what to do . . . and not to do . . . in that situation.”

“I wasn’t completely naíve,” I admitted. “Brittany had taught me plenty. When she and I would practice for our play, and she was pretending to be Danny, I spent a lot of time in her embrace. I wouldn’t let her French kiss me, but, like I said, her hands were quite active. I had developed my defenses.”

“What happened on the lake?” Megan asked impatiently.

“I’m sure you’ve all experienced it,” I said, feeling my face change colors. “Boys are . . . boys. Andy unzipped his Levis and asked me to pull out his . . . penis. At first I just shook my head, but he was insistent and so big and strong, so I did what he asked.”

“Did he force himself upon you?” Megan asked. Her eyes suggested she had been mistreated at some point in her life.

“No,” I said softly. “When I brought his penis out I was amazed it its size. His was easily twice as big as mine.”

“Really?” Chelsea said with surprise. “You’re not small . . . in that department.”

“Not at all,” Megan agreed.

“I’m not kidding,” I said. “His thing was as almost as big as my arm.”

The three sat in silence, seemingly appreciative of my thoughts in that boat.

“He . . . he asked me if I wanted to kiss it. I didn’t know what to say; and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I just sort of lightly grabbed his penis to stall for time.” I closed my eyes again remembering how my hand had felt so incredibly tiny and girlish when I couldn’t touch my thumb to my forefinger while grasping him. It will be easier to tell them this next part with my eyelids shut. “I could feel him pulsating. I also felt the warmth of his blood coursing through the veins on his penis. For a long moment I wondered . . . I wondered if it was even possible to take such a huge thing into my mouth. Brittany had told me once that boys in dresses could sexually satisfy men by taking their penis . . . ah . . . anally. I wondered that night if Brittany had been pulling my leg. It didn’t seem possible. But yet. . ..”

I opened my eyes. “And then he just sort of exploded all over the place.”

The three of them nodded knowingly -- apparently having had similar experiences with teenage boys.

“We used lake water to clean up, however my dress was ruined. Mom didn’t seem to care about the dress. She had become worried about me when she saw Andy paddle us out onto the lake. She had thought he would just walk me to our cabin and give me a little goodnight kiss at the door. I fell asleep that night crying in her arms. She admitted to me that her plan to help me toward self-discovery had horribly backfired. I made her promise that I would never have to be “Anne” again after that trip was over.”

“Have you ever regretted not having the opportunity to express your feminine side?” Amy asked.

“Every day in every way imaginable.”

“Is that why you’re agreeing to take part in our study?” Chelsea asked quietly.

“When our living patterns are broken we can see new worlds emerge. The time is ripe for change; and I should let it come.”

Megan hooded her eyes. “But . . . why this change . . .now?”

“First of all, I like girls.”

“I know you do,” Chelsea said.

“I might also like boys,” I added. “I want to know . . . for sure. I need to know what would have happened on that lake, if Andy hadn’t prematurely ejaculated.”

“Do you mind if I ask you a very personal question?” Chelsea implored. “You don’t have to answer, if you don’t want to.”

“It’s okay, I know your curiosity is all in the name of science.”

For some reason she blushed. “Well . . . okay. Did you become sexually aroused that night with Andy?”

“Definitely,” I admitted. “I don’t now if my male organs were ever aroused, but I had several female orgasms.”

“Can you describe it?” Megan asked, somewhat skeptically.

Sometimes she speaks so fast and quickly it’s a wonder her words have any form at all. “My body tingled all over. It became almost overwhelming; and I was lightheaded to the point I thought I would pass out. Suddenly I felt like my body was weightless; and I became a spot where my clitoris should be.”

They nodded silently.

“When I have a male orgasm my body seems to go into almost a cramp resulting in intense pleasure right before my fluids erupt. The female orgasm is more sustained and involves more of my body. It seems to be more cerebral.” I stopped and was whisked back to that night on the lake. “I love it.”

Chelsea touched my arm lightly. “Would it be okay if we called you Kayla Anne Klein?”

I readily agreed. “There’s one more thing. That summer vacation I spent as Anne was the happiest time of my life. It wasn’t the clothes so much as it was just feeling . . . right. Like tonight . . . I just feel right.

Professor Amy Klein nodded knowingly.

Chapter Eight
Everyone Should Date a Jock . . . Once

Chelsea spent a few hours cleaning out my dorm room so that I wouldn’t have to go there myself and answer any embarrassing questions. My clothes were stuck in storage and everything else I really cared about fit into a 2’ x 2’ x 2’ box. Since I no longer had to go to class I felt like someone walking up a flight of stairs and thinking there’s one more step than there really is.

For the next few days I took long walks by myself in the public park and shopped to fill out my female wardrobe. Chelsea and Megan came along to give advice only when I asked for it. We soon discovered that I had fairly good fashion sense. Amazingly, I just naturally wanted to buy the kind of girly-girl outfits that Megan and Chelsea thought would be best for the study.

Chelsea, who loved clothes to the extent that she couldn’t stand to discard anything and wore her expensive, designer clothes into the ground, taught me valuable lessons about well-made outfits.

Megan’s wardrobe ran the entire spectrum from brown, all the way to tan, and on to beige.

That night was Friday and the weather cooperated with a warm spell that allowed me to wear a Donna Morgan, peach, chiffon dress to go to a party with Megan and Chelsea. It could be worn strapless, but I elected to use the spaghetti straps that were optional.

I had spent the afternoon at a salon having my hair shaped. Giving in to Chelsea, I had the auburn highlights added and was pleased with the results. I had a professional do my make-up and learned a few things I thought I would use.

Megan suggested that I start mentally gauging every male I met as a potential sexual partner. Based on my reaction to the men I ran into early on, I was beginning to think I was wasting all of our time. None of them seemed terribly appealing. I was relieved when Chelsea told me that was normal for her as well.

That’s when “he” came on to me.

“Can I get you a drink?” he asked. His smile gleamed like a spotlight . . . with impossibly white teeth.

He’s the tallest person I’ve ever stood next to . . . and easily the most muscular.

He held his beer bottle with two fingers, because his full hand would have crushed it into fine dust. “They have a wine box. I think it’s a chardonnay . . . at least it’s white.”

My eyes came up from studying my recent pedicure through the open toes of my beige sandals. “That would be. . ..” For a second I sank deeply into the most incredibly blue eyes I’d ever seen. “White wine is nice.”

When he came back he introduced himself as Brandon Trump.

Of course, he’s a linebacker for the football team. “I’m Kayla Anne Klein. I’m staying with my aunt. I just graduated from State; and I’m taking a few months off before looking for a job.” All of that is my cover story, very plausible.

“Might as well enjoy life for a while,” he stated. “From what I hear, unless you’re a Phi Beta Kappa no one has a job for you.”

I smiled for a number of reasons. . .one being that Brandon had passed the potential partner test. If ever there was going to be a man for me, he would be it.

“I knew that you weren’t from here,” he said. “I would have noticed you before. But, there is something familiar about you.”

“Maybe it’s my name,” I posed. “Have you taken any psychology courses from Professor Klein? She’s my aunt.”

“I’ve heard of her. Most of the guys think she’s great. I stay away from the psych department. I’m afraid someone will throw a net over me and lock me up in a rubber room.” He chuckled. “I guess all football players are a bit psychotic, or we wouldn’t take the chance of getting a concussion, or a spine injury.”

We talked for several minutes about the dangers of football; and he admitted real fear at times, but still loved the game.

For the next two hours there might as well have been no one else at the party. He never took his eyes off me. There were plenty of scantily clad girls trying to catch his eye, but he never wavered in his rapt attention to my every word.

Despite his Lebron James jersey and long sideburns, he was surprisingly well-read and finally admitted to being an English Lit major with an ambition to write the Great American Novel.

Based on his ability to turn a phrase I judged that he stood a decent chance to become published if he could stop misusing words like using “anxious” for “eager” . . . which in itself was lovable.

Megan and Chelsea caught my eye a number of times to check on me, but I assured them with a grin that I was doing just fine.

After turning down his friends’ invitations to play a party game several times, he finally relented. We joined about a dozen people in a circle to play Truth or Dare.

The person whose apartment the party was being held in asked Brandon a question. “What is ‘the’ one thing you’re most afraid that people will find out about you?”

“My time in the forty yard dash,” Brandon joked after initially turning a very bright red. “I. . .ah. . .think I’m going to have to ask for a dare.”

Brandon’s friend stuck a whistle in his mouth and blew loudly. “Penalty box,” he barked. “Brandon and his new friend get fifteen minutes in the penalty box for failure to answer ‘the’ question.”

The “penalty box” turned out to be a small room without windows that featured a wall-to-wall mattress on the floor. The room apparently wasn’t heated because the temperature was barely above freezing.

“I wish I had a coat for you,” he said kindly.

“Just hold me,” I offered. The three glasses of wine I had consumed were making him look all the more appealing. If I’m going to find out about my sexuality it might as well be with someone who looks like Brandon. He seems to find me appealing as a woman. This is a perfect test.

“Do you like me?” Brandon asked. He sounded almost as vulnerable as a little boy.

“Very much,” I admitted.

“Wonderful,” he said, and then softly kissed me. Unlike Brittany’s insistent “Danny”, he kept his hands to himself.

After a few very nice minutes, during which I explored his tongue with mine, I unzipped his pants and pulled them down to reveal two surprisingly skinny legs. I looked him in the eyes and found him to be extremely agreeable, although he could have cut back on the cologne.

His penis felt larger than mine, but not gigantic. I stroked it to feel it react and was rewarded with its heartbeat.

“It’s the wrong time of the month for me,” I breathed, “but if you’d like to take me anally, I’d love to do it that way.”

“Ohhhhhhhhhhh,” he moaned and shot his cum across the room.

At least he didn’t ruin my dress.

“I love you, Josh,” he said through a mouth clenched in ecstasy as his orgasm finished.

“Josh?” I asked, hoping I had misheard.

“I’ve had a crush on you since we were both freshmen, Josh,” he said fervently. “I’ve had to be so careful. The NFL is worried about homosexuality becoming too prevalent. You’re perfect. I can have a ‘wife’ and still be with a man.” He quickly reached under my dress and grabbed my penis. “It’s not hard, but you’re definitely right for me.”

“I’m sorry,” I said truthfully, removing his hand from my privates. “I’m looking for a man who wants me as a woman.”

“I don’t have anything against anal sex,” he stated. “Let’s get a hotel room; and in about fifteen minutes I’ll show you. I always go fast the first time, but I’m sure I can light your fire.”

“That’s sweet,” I said, “but what I really need from you is to know that you won’t tell anyone my secret.”

He smiled. “That’s also exactly what I need from you. Two ships that passed in the night?”

“Two ships,” I agreed. “We came very close.”

“Well,” he laughed, “at least one of us came.”

His laugh and great smile made me kiss him once again . . . and wish he had truly wanted a woman.

Chapter Nine
Mawage Is Wot Brings Us Together

The call to Brittany about her wedding went well . . . extremely well. She practically leaped through the phone when I told her I would be coming as Anne and not Josh.

“You can be my maid of honor,” she screamed. “Julie told me two days ago that she is being sent to Australia by her boss on assignment; and I was ski--rued.”

Brittany is so romantic in how she puts things.

“Remember . . . your first duty is to make sure you are NOT outshining the bride. None of that Pippa shit. It is my day. You can fuck the best man, that is very okay, but in the pictures I want all eyes on me.”

Incurable romantic. “Is he hetero?”

“The best man? Was Secretariat a good horse? I can personally attest to his “hetero-ship.” She giggled.

100% romantic.

“Mom’s going to be delighted,” Brits shouted. “She always wanted two girls.”

Big surprise. That must be why she painted my bedroom pink when I was ten.

“Seriously,” she shrieked, “I’ve found the greatest “fuck-me” bridesmaids’ dresses. You are going to love them.”

It’s a wonder I turned out so normal!

“Really, Kayla, you should see my freaking engagement ring. I should name it Rhode Island it is so freaking big!”

Three weeks later I managed to turn Hurricane Brittany into a serene bride, just long enough to take the necessary pictures and hold a proper ceremony.

Although I toned it down for the wedding day I threw out all the stops for the rehearsal dinner. It was my time to shine, so I wore a raspberry, draped mid-thigh dress with nude five-inch pumps.

It worked. The best man turned out to be eye-candy. . .an orthodontist who was five years out of school . . . and into a red Audi r8. He came onto me like a moth to a flame, but I held him at bay until the wedding dance. His low pony-tail held in place by a leather-band allowed the best use of his jet-black hair.

He proposed during the progression dance. The glare of the overhead spotlight off his Rolex nearly blinded me.

I laughed. “We don’t even know if we’re good together in bed.”

His tongue hit the floor at the mention of “bed”, “we”, and “together”. Saliva dripped unto his Gucci loafers.

I hadn’t gotten physical with anyone since Brandon. Frankly, I hadn’t seen any man who interested me. Perhaps this man who is wildly successful fixing teeth, but who would rather be a plumber so he wouldn’t have patients, could be the one.

For some strange reason my dreams were still dominated by . . . Chelsea. I couldn’t get that little birthmark on her left buttocks out of my sub-conscious. It had always reminded me of the horn of a unicorn. The unicorn’s horn is the identifying mark of something unique and precious. . .like her.

“Tonight’s the night,” I promised myself as I drained my first and last champagne glass. One is my limit. I want tonight to be memorable . . . in all the right ways.

We were clinched on the dance floor in a vertical screw when I decided to clear the deck. “Brittany had a brother.” This man was born to wear a tuxedo.

“I thought I heard something about that.”

“What did you hear?

He grinned at me. “Supposedly her brother was a nice kid. . .quiet, intelligent, but very shy. I heard he went away to college, got a job somewhere and decided Brittany was too hard to take and never came back.”

“Who the heck told you that?”

“My mother. She got it straight from Brittany’s mother.”

His broken nose is perfect. I wonder if that perfection was created by a plastic surgeon to add character to his face. It’s now or never. “Can we get a little air, Jacob.”

He stopped by the bar and got two ginger ales. “I’m on board with staying sober, my sweet.”

“Maybe you’ll need something a bit stronger in a minute,” I warned.

“Oh?”

“Now that we’re almost engaged and all. . ..”

“We ARE engaged,” he asserted. “Your only reservation is that I come through in bed . . . and that’s a given.” He smiled confidently.

“What if I told you that I’m Brittany’s brother?”

“You’re a transsexual?” he asked evenly.

I nodded. “Are you okay with that?”

“Why not? This isn’t the Dark Ages. I read and watch documentaries. To deny the natural spectrum of sexuality and gender takes a special kind of ignorance and stupidity that I can’t muster.”

“Are you sure you don’t think I’m flawed and despicable.”

He laughed. “I think you’re perfect. The universe worked a billion years to create the two of us . . . just the way we are. Who are we to argue with that? My roommate in college had a brother who had the surgeries. She’s beautiful . . . inside and out. Not a problem.”

“I haven’t had any surgery,” I said. “I don’t know if I ever will.”

“Not a problem,” he avowed again. He swept me into his arms and kissed me in a way that affirmed the truth of his statement. His cologne was nearly as intoxicating as my perfume. His excitement was evident in the stiffness of his penis straining to be freed of his trousers.

Two hours later we were recovering from what I would describe as “very athletic” sex.

His eyes caught mine. “That . . . was good.”

I smiled in agreement of his damning faint praise. We had both tried mightily. “You’re sweet. That was fun, but we both know it wasn’t the stuff marriages are made from.”

He nodded.

This is stupid. Love isn’t about great sex. Love is about finding the person I want to spend my life with. I’ve been doing the same things over and over, expecting different results. It saves on thinking, but doesn’t create meaningful change.

Chapter Ten
Love Will Keep Us Together

Everything about my life was satisfying.

Well -- almost everything. I had finally realized that I was chasing pleasure, when I should have been looking for happiness. Since carnal love and real love are two different breeds of dogs, they shouldn’t be confused.

The recruiter from Westward Industries had been surprised when I showed up in a white business suit over a pink ruffled blouse. The skirt stopped two inches above my knees. His only comments were: “You’ve lost weight. When can you start?”

I was to be a project manager for a small staff creating portable water treatment plants for third world villages. I set my employment date for July 1st, which was six weeks out, to allow me to help Chelsea and Megan finish their papers.

Chelsea and I were conducting a final interview.

“Are you okay with how things went?” Chelsea asked.

“I believe a person has to be ready to change, or her mind will change her in ways she might not want.”

“Have you decided anything final about your sex?” she asked.

“I’ve decided to make the physiological changes need to be classified a biological woman.”

“I thought you would,” she said with a hint of sadness.

“Are you okay,” I asked.

“I guess so. . ..” She smiled wryly. “I suppose you know I had some ulterior motives for this project.”

I shook my head. “I wasn’t aware.”

“You weren’t aware that I still have intense feelings for you? The whole point of this was to prove to you that you don’t love men.”

“I guess we accomplished that,” I said.

“When my aunt told me of your gender situation, I wanted to help you decide that what you really wanted was to be with me. You needed to know that all the rest of that really didn’t matter to me.”

“Huh?”

“There were moments during the last few months, in between all the craziness with the men, when I thought I felt something between us.”

“So did I,” I admitted.

“I admire how you’ve embraced the opportunity to find your self. Aunt Amy was right, as usual. I’ve always loved you, but as a woman you’ve become even more lovable. You’re just so . . . centered.”

Love? “Do you mean it? Do you really love me?”

“Of course, you pinhead. I don’t think I could love you any more than I do now.”

“Chels, I’ve always loved you. There has never been a moment since I met you that I didn’t love you.”

“But,” she wailed, “you just said you’re having the operation.”

“I have to do that,” I explained, “but I still love you and would love nothing more than to be your spouse.”

“Enough to be with me the rest of your life?” She smiled broadly.

We kissed passionately.

“To have and to hold,” I grinned.

We kissed passionately, again.

“From this day forward,” she asked.

We kissed passionately, again.

“For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health,” I answered.

We kissed passionately, again.

“Until death do us part,” we vowed together.

We kissed passionately, again. . .and then made love as we promised each other we would for the next many decades.

“I had to learn to love myself,” I said, “before I could really love you.”

“You might say I got everything I wanted.” We held each other in the after glow of great sex. Chelsea’s smile indicated complete satisfaction. “I’m set for life with the perfect mate, and I proved my thesis.

“How’s that?”

“You’re now a woman. Right?”

“Absolutely.”

“And, I’m a woman.”

“Also . . . absolutely.”

“You started out an avowed heterosexual and ended up married to me . . . a person of your own sex . . . thus proving my thesis that homosexuality CAN BE LEARNED.”

The End



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