Chaos Theory

*** Introduction ***

Cade Maxwell and Tatiana Pierce were partners in the CIA for over thirty years. Their current mission is to capture their target and return to the CIA with a new piece of technology, a chaos machine. Although warned of unforeseen circumstances, Cade and Tatiana are exposed to the machine and thrust headlong into an alternative reality; a reality where Cade is a seventeen year old girl and Tatiana is an eighteen year old boy. Their final year of high school might just be their toughest mission yet.

*** Story ***

Chaos Theory

The crosshairs of my scope held steady on the red painted double-hung doors of the hotel across the street. Years of training kept my breath in check minimizing the slight up and down movements. The doors swung open and two large men stepped outside checking the perimeter. Their solid balanced stances and dark sunglasses told me everything I needed to know; they were skilled fighters and well paid security.

Through the glass of the door I could see a tall, gray-haired man wearing a mohair jacket with a red ascot. I tapped my right ear opening my communications channel. “Target on the move.” Swinging my rifle to the right I was just in time to see a woman moving quickly from behind a black Audi sedan. Her brunette ponytail bounced slightly as she ducked into the cover of a dark alleyway.

A smoky and somewhat sultry woman’s voice sounded in my ear. “All set here.”

Turning back to the hotel I absentmindedly disassembled my sniper rifle. The Audi pulled up in front of the hotel and the gray-haired man stepped outside flanked by his two bodyguards. By the time he was sitting in the back of the polished Audi I was already heading down the back stairs and into the slightly littered and narrow cobblestone street.

With an orange flash of indicators my silver Maserati unlocked and the trunk lid popped open. Tossing my sniper bag into the trunk I jumped into the driver’s seat and drove quickly around the corner, stopping only seconds for the passenger side door to open and a beautiful woman with a ponytail slipped in.

“Target is heading north.” Her voice always thrilled me.

Turning north we passed by the red doors of the hotel and began closing the gap.

“Do you remember the last time we were in Vienna, Cade? Turn right.”

“That was a great mission. I especially enjoyed breaking into Saint Stephen’s Cathedral and using the tall southeast tower as our vantage point.”

“It was cozy; just the two of us, a bottle of wine, caviar, and a baguette. I remember how warm the summer night was and the smell of Wiener schnitzel in the air. Turn left.”

“There’s our target. You think the CIA will ever let us go back to Monte Carlo, Tatiana?”

“After last time? You destroyed over a million dollars in luxury cars.”

“It’s wasn’t my fault our target had a missile launcher aboard his yacht. I thought I did a good job at avoiding being hit. The fact that I was driving in front of an auto museum at the time shouldn’t have factored into our leadership getting upset.”

“You were brilliant as always, Cade. Monte Carlo was my favorite mission. I enjoyed being Tatiana Maxwell for the week. I loved the gowns and the dinners and pretending to be your wife. He’s turning left.”

“We picked up a tail.”

Tatiana glanced back between our seats. “Two black SUVs. We need to lose them. Turn right.”

The Maserati skidded around a corner and into a narrow alleyway. I could see paper and dust being kicked up behind me in the rearview mirror. “Hang on.” Pulling the emergency brake the rear tires locked sending a plume of blue tinged smoke into the air as we careened down another alley. “I’d say that was my favorite mission as well.”

The bricks near my mirror shattered sending rust colored debris across the windshield. Skidding right, I turned the car towards a set of stairs. For a moment the ride became ultra-smooth and the only sound was the roar of the engine as the car left the ground. This was followed by a crunch of metal and heavy vibration as the tires bounced heavily against the stone stairs.

“Have you ever thought of retiring, Cade? Settling down?”

“We’ve been partners for how many years now? Thirty?”

With a sickening screech the car’s front end snapped up at the bottom of the stairs. Taking a sharp right I floored it, heading towards the shopping district.

“Thirty-two years. I think we lost them. We’ve had great careers, but wouldn’t it be nice to just relax on the beach somewhere and leave this behind?”

A black SUV flew towards us from the left. Veering right I avoided being t-boned but the SUV smashed through the left front quarter panel sending us straight through large plate glass windows of a shopping mall. The Maserati spun one hundred and eighty degrees on the smooth black and white marble floors. We opened our doors simultaneously drawing our handguns. Tatiana and I met at the back of the car, hunkered down and out of sight. Glass shattered as machine gun fire ripped into the front of the Maserati.

“Look at that dress and those shoes! We have to come back later for that.”

“You love your clothes, Tatiana.” Glancing right over my shoulder and back towards the street I could see the two SUVs had their doors open and four men held their guns at the ready. Using my gun I motioned to Tatiana to look deeper into the mall. “Ready for a swim?”

“You always know how to show a woman a good time, Cade. Ready.”

We took off running as glass shattered all around us. We both vaulted a railing and plunged thirty feet into a pool of water below. Pulling Tatiana to the edge of the pool we ran to the valet parking entrance just as a motorcycle pulled up. Jumping on Tatiana pulled herself on behind me. I opened the throttle and popped the clutch letting the rear tire skid around in a three-sixty to get my bearings before speeding down a road towards the north.

Ten minutes later I stopped at the edge of the warehouse district. “According to the tracker, our target appears to be in the warehouse two blocks down.”

We began moving stealthily towards the building keeping close to the walls of the other buildings in the area. “Don’t you think our lives would be rather boring if we gave up hunting bad guys, Tatiana?”

“Cade, we make a great team. I just think we need to consider the future and an exit strategy. There are only so many times a bullet can miss us. Eventually we won’t be so lucky and I’d like to, just for once, feel like I can be me and not worry I have to look over my shoulder.”

“There’s the warehouse. One guard near the side entrance. You want to do the Moscow on him?”

“Moscow it is.” She smiled mischievously.

Doubling back I circled around and got into position. I loved doing the Moscow for one reason only; Tatiana was beautiful. I smiled as Tatiana walked towards the guard, she had unbuttoned the front of her blouse and just a hint of red lace bra could be seen. Her hair was unbound and slightly disheveled.

“Excuse me sir? I’m a little lost. Can you direct me to Grazier’s restaurant?”

Sneaking up behind the man I knocked him on the back of the head with a resounding thunk and then dragged him around the corner returning in time to see Tatiana pulling her hair back again. Her hands were both up which pushed her chest out all the more. How long have I been in love with Tatiana? I’m not sure. Years. At least five years.

“The Moscow always works. What beach were you thinking of?”

Tatiana moved to warehouse door and hiked up her skirt a little to pull a lock picking toolkit from a thigh strap. “You want to do the honors?”

“I’m good. You need the practice more than I do.”

Tatiana smiled and squatted down in front of the door, deftly sliding the tools into the lock. Moments later she stood and turned the handle. “As if I’m the one that needs practice. I was thinking Fiji.”

Cracking the door open I glanced inside. “All clear.” Moving inside we closed the door silently behind us. “Fiji is nice. You think we could really make a fresh start?”

Hiding behind a large wooden crate Tatiana peered around it. “Not alone, together. I’ve been thinking a lot since Monte Carlo.” She raised two fingers and we crept around either side of the crate. I took one man out with my arm around his throat and Tatiana found a short two by four nearby for the second man. We dragged them both behind the crate.

“You want us to leave the CIA together?”

“We make a great team, Cade. We’re unbeatable. I could easily see us together. Just like Monte Carlo.”

We moved further into the warehouse until we overheard people speaking. Our target and two more guards were standing near the object.

Tatiana’s voice was a mere whisper. I felt her warm breath against my neck. “In case you haven’t figured it out, Mr. Maxwell, I love you.”

I turned my head so our lips brushed. “Let’s do it.”

“Take out the guards or elope to a Fiji beach?”

“Both. Guards first, Miss Pierce. Then we can think about having a fresh start.”

She smiled, kissed me passionately, pulled her gun, and we slid from behind the crates as silently as the night. We had our guns to the backs of the guard’s necks and had them disarmed in seconds.

“Move over to stand with your boss.”

“Cade Maxwell and Tatiana Pierce of the CIA. I should have known they would send you two.”

“Malcom Quintiles. We’ve been tracking you for days. Our orders are to take you back to the States. That and your device here.”

“Do you even know what it is? I’m guessing the CIA didn’t tell you about it. It’s a chaos machine, capable of creating alternative realities. By touching it to objects, I can choose a different reality for what it touches. It’s ingenious. I could touch it to a locked vault and in another reality, the vault is open. No more messing around trying to unlock things. Of course, it requires special handling and care. I suspect the CIA wants it for a number of reasons, including getting knowledge from spies.”

Glancing at the basketball-sized silver sphere it looked innocuous enough. “Grab the bag over there, Tatiana.”

“I wouldn’t touch it if I were you.”

“We have our orders, Malcom.”

Keeping my eye and gun trained on Malcom I reached over with my free hand as Tatiana reached for the object as well. We touched it at the same time and the world vanished before my eyes.

***

The smell of grass and a slight moan brought me back to consciousness. Somehow Malcom captured me. I didn’t dare open my eyes yet as I could feign unconsciousness a little longer as I reached out to all parts of my body. There’s no pain. That’s a good start. When was the last time I felt no pain? Then I heard the moan again. It was low and sounded like a man. I opened my eyes to see the strangest sight. The sky was blue, there was green grass, and there was a young man lying next to me.

Sitting up I immediately felt something was wrong. Not wrong, different. A gentle breeze blew long strands of brunette hair in front of my face. Almost absentmindedly I pulled the hair back behind my ear and glanced down. That’s when I screamed and woke the young man beside me who opened his blue eyes with a suddenness that frightened me. I rolled back and away coming to my feet as I stared at him and then back down at myself several times.

The young man stirred more. “Where am I? What’s wrong with my voice? Where’s Cade?”

Cade? That’s me. How does this guy know my name? “What do you mean, where are you? Where am I?” My voice was soft and sweet. I glanced down to see the tops of two breasts heaving with each breath.

The young man sat up and looked down at himself. “I’m a man?”

“How do you know my name? Who are you?”

“I don’t know who you are, but I’m Tatiana.”

“Wait. What? You’re not Tatiana.”

“Yes, I am. You’re Cade?”

Nodding slowly I picked at the short pastel yellow dress I was wearing. “What do you last remember?”

“I was in Italy on a mission. In a warehouse. I touched a device and woke up here.”

“You really are Tatiana. What did Malcom say about the object?”

“That it was a chaos machine and something about alternative realities. You’re a really pretty girl, Cade, and you’re wearing a dress. It’s lovely.”

“In case you haven’t noticed, you’re a guy.” Looking around I could now see we were standing on a grassy knoll overlooking a football field. “The device must have done this to us. Look, there’s a purse.”

Tatiana looked at it and then back at me. “It must be yours.”

“What do you mean it must be mine?”

“Do you think a pink trimmed white purse would belong to a guy wearing a football jersey?”

Grabbing the purse off the grass I looked inside. I found a cell phone, student ID card, lipstick, mascara, and menstrual pads. Pulling out the student ID I looked at the girl’s face and name. Turning on the phone I brought up the front facing camera to look at myself. “This ID says I’m Piper Isabella Stone. I’m seventeen years old! I’m seeing glimpses of memories that aren’t mine. They are, but they’re not.”

“It looks like I’ve got a phone and wallet in my jacket pocket. Brant Daniels. Eighteen. Look at your phone. It’s Sunday, September 10. That’s the same day we were in Italy.” His face frowned.

“What are you thinking about?”

“You said you were getting memories?” I nodded. “So am I. I just moved into a house a few blocks from school. I’m in my final year of high school and I start tomorrow, several weeks into the school year. I’ve been playing football for years.”

“And I just moved here as well. I have a new set of parents and a younger brother. I was a cheerleader in my last school. This is crazy!”

“It had to be the chaos device.”

“We have to find that device again. What if there’s no going back?”

“We’ll handle it. Think of it as a chance to start over; a fresh start. Haven’t you ever wanted to take a mulligan on your life?”

For the briefest moment when I looked at Brant I saw Tatiana and the years we worked so closely together. “I was quite happy working with you. Sure, there were things I would have changed, but this?” I grabbed my breasts. “This isn’t anything I would have had in mind.”

“Don’t do that out in public. You’re not a guy anymore. Do you remember what we were talking about before we touched the device?”

“Of course.”

“I think we should continue that conversation. You’re still Cade. You’re still the person I fell in love with. If this can’t be undone, I’m okay with it.”

“Of course you would be. You’re a big strong guy now.”

My phone rang. The screen showed the name ‘Dad.’ “Hello? Okay, I’ll be right home.”

“This is so surreal. My new dad just called saying I needed to get home to help my new mom unpack the kitchen in my new house. He reminded me that I start school tomorrow. High school. My final year of high school.”

“It’s only high school. How bad can it be? Do you know where your house is?”

“I think so.”

“Let me walk you there.”

***

Standing in front of a two-story colonial house, on a pleasant tree-lined street, I surveyed the boxes on the front grass. Brant, as he insisted on being called now, lived only a couple of blocks down and closer to the school. High school. How am I going to pull this off?

“Piper, sweetheart? Who was that young man?”

Glancing towards the front door I saw my new mother. She was pretty and had a genuine look about her. I could sense she was down to earth and caring. More and more snippets of a life I never had fell into place. “His name is Brant Daniels. Apparently he’s new to the area and starting school tomorrow as well.”

“He’s very handsome. Come inside and give me a hand in the kitchen.”

“Okay, mom.”

Stepping inside the house and seeing all the boxes everywhere made me realize that was exactly how I felt inside; disorganized and confused.

“Bang!”

Jumping backwards I tripped over a box and landed on my now slightly more padded rump.

“You’ll never make a good spy, sis! I had you. It was so easy!” The ten year old boy ran off sporting a red cape and yellow swim goggles. That was my new younger brother.

“It’s so nice you still play with Jonathan like that. Maybe in a couple of days after I get settled at work I can start teaching you how to drive.”

Picking myself up off the floor I looked my new dad over. He looked a little nerdy as if he came straight from engineering school. The glasses and pocket protector were a nice accompaniment to the button-down checkered shirt ensemble he was wearing. “Sure, dad. That would be great.”

I don’t even have a driver’s license yet? I had to play along for now, but with the exception of being a girl, I had to admit there was something warm and comfortable about these people. I wonder how Brant’s doing.

Mom stopped unpacking to give me a hug and brush my hair from my eyes. “You’re so beautiful, sweetheart. Don’t worry about starting a new school partway into the year. The boys will be drooling over you and you’ll have your pick. I hope you get the chance to try out for cheerleading.”

After helping my mom out for a few hours I headed upstairs to my room. There were a few boxes lying around, but everything had mostly been put away. My brass framed single bed was made up with a fluffy white comforter and frill-edged pillows. There was a small desk with a laptop computer and a dresser with a confusing array of cosmetics. I stared at myself in the antique mirror in the corner of the room. I’m pretty and very feminine. My long brunette hair was gently curled at the edges and that framed my bright blue eyes and full lips. I was shapely with C-cup sized breasts, trim waist, perfectly flat stomach, and long athletic legs. I guessed I was about five foot seven.

Moving to the door I locked it and turned back to the mirror. Pulling off my dress I stared at myself standing there in a lacey bra and panties. The staring was as far as I could bring myself to so I put my dress back on and rummaged through the room. My closet was filled with dresses and skirts. My drawers were stuffed with sexy, feminine undergarments and nightgowns. I only found one pair of jeans and no other pants. “I’m a girlie-girl.” There must be a way out of this.

Opening my computer I began searching the Internet. I could find no evidence Cade Maxwell ever existed. Tatiana Pierce didn’t exist. Malcom Quintiles didn’t exist. Grabbing my cell phone I called CIA headquarters. “I’d like to speak with Cade Maxwell please.”

“I’m sorry miss, there’s no Cade Maxwell that works here.”

“Can you check your database for other locations?”

“Miss, there is no Cade Maxwell on record.”

I hung up and called Brant. “Hey Piper. What’s up?”

“We don’t exist! Cade Maxwell and Tatiana Pierce don’t exist. There’s no record of us ever existing. No Malcom Quintiles. The CIA hasn’t heard of us.”

“Breathe Piper. Take a breath. How are you doing?”

“Put me in the middle of a gun fight or a car chase and I’d be doing better. I don’t own any pants! Stop laughing, this isn’t funny!”

“If it makes you feel any better I only have pants in my dresser. Have you begun to feel more like Piper yet?”

“What do you mean?”

“I’ve met my parents and everything feels kind of good. It’s as if history is being re-written. I still remember everything about my life as Tatiana, but more and more I’m feeling comfortable with my new past.”

“I’ve met my family here and comfortable is the right word for it. Everything feels fine except that I’m a seventeen year old girl that doesn’t even have her driver’s license. You’re laughing again.”

“I’ve got my license. Maybe I can take you to watch the submarine races?”

“You’re obviously not used to all that testosterone.”

“Can I at least walk you to school tomorrow?”

“Fine.”

“It’s not the end of the world, Piper. We’ll survive.”

***

It was several hours later that I’d finished researching and rummaging through my room. I was feeling more and more like Piper as memories continued to fill in the gaps. Even the vast scariness of the cosmetics littered across the dresser felt more and more like I might know what they were and how to use them. Still, I held all my memories of my other life. I even picked the front lock with a pair of hairpins. I seemed to still have my skills from before.

“Piper? Can you help set the table for dinner?”

“Sure, mom.”

Dinner was ordered out pizza and the four of us sat at the table talking about plans for the upcoming week and what else needed to get done around the house. The last time I participated in a family meal was over forty-five years ago. My parents separated shortly after that and within a few years they had both died. I’d felt like I missed something and I was slightly overwhelmed by feelings of being in a family again.

“School starts at seven fifteen tomorrow morning. What time will you set your alarm?” Mom wanted me to make sure I was ready.

“The school is about ten minutes away. If I grab some breakfast before I go, I guess 6:45 would work.”

“I know you’re joking, Piper. Five-thirty?”

I had to pause and think about this for a second. I seemed to have memories of getting ready for school as Piper. I need to shower, possibly shave my legs and underarms, dry and style my hair, put on makeup, and pick my clothes. I groaned inwardly. “I’ll set my alarm for five-thirty.”

After dinner I texted Brant. ‘What time are you getting up tomorrow?’

‘6:30. I’ll be at your place by seven. Make sure you look all pretty for your first day.’

My hand moved to my forehead. ‘You’re enjoying this too much.’

‘I am. I’ve never felt so alive before.’

‘I feel pretty alive myself, but I’m a girl.’

‘I know. That’s so cool.’

‘I can’t believe I’m going to high school tomorrow.’

‘I’m sort of looking forward to it. Just think how easy the classes will be.’

I groaned. ‘See you tomorrow.’

‘TTYL’

Going through my mental checklist Piper would wash her face, put on a night cream, wear a frilly nightgown, and then go to bed. Getting ready for bed was a bit of an ordeal. Every move made me take notice of how my breasts shifted and how my hips swayed a little more than before. My long hair got in the way of everything. Stepping out of my clothes I stood once more in front of the mirror, this time completely naked. I was really pretty. My hands weighed and gently massaged my breasts. These would take a lot of getting used to and now without the bra they were moving a lot more than before. They were very sensitive. Looking down I let my hands slip between my legs. This was so different not feeling something down there. While my breasts were something new equipment to get used to, strangely having nothing between my legs actually felt better than before. If nothing else this experience will give me a new perspective on what it’s like to be female.

Pulling a white nightgown from a drawer I ran my fingers over the feminine garment and put it back. At least in bed I don’t have to wear something so frilly. Climbing into bed and sliding under the sheets I found I couldn’t quite get comfortable. Every time I rolled my breasts would shift and my nipples would brush the sheets. This was both invigorating and annoying. They were so sensitive that the sheets felt rough against them. Sighing, I got back up and slipped into the nightgown and then crawled back into bed.

My mind was moving so fast thinking about things that I struggled to get to sleep. My hands began exploring my body a little more than before and I tried imagining my pretty body. As a man, I would have been quite turned on by it, but, try as I might, I couldn’t get excited. I attributed this to just not knowing how this body reacted to stimulus. Finally, I gave up and managed to drift off to sleep.

***

The alarm woke me up at 5:30am and I was still tired. When was the last time I had a solid eight hours of sleep? I can’t remember. I recalled that I slept more as a teenager than I did when I got older. It seemed as I got older my mind was harder to shut down and the aches and pains of my body made falling to sleep harder, and returning to sleep even more challenging if I woke up.

I had to admit, even though I was still tired, that I felt amazing and when I looked at myself in the mirror I was caught off guard by my dazzling smile, pretty face, sexy body, and disheveled long hair. Can I live like this for the rest of my life? Shouldn’t I be more antagonistic to the idea? For some reason I wasn’t as bothered as I was yesterday. Perhaps it was due to the good sleep or maybe overnight my brain was addled by estrogen.

Glancing at the closet I knew I had to make a choice about clothes for school. Suddenly getting dressed was a lot more complicated. As a guy I would throw on some pants and a shirt and be done with it. No mental gymnastics there. Do I dress pretty and conservative or a little more edgy? No matter what I wear, it would be feminine as that was the only type of clothing I own. Think, Piper. Did I just call myself Piper? Shaking my head to clear my thoughts I opted for pretty and conservative. I need to rely on my CIA training. A girl that looks pretty in a conservative way will garner more sympathy and support.

Rushing over to the shower I stripped and began the slightly arduous task of shaving my legs and washing my hair. I would have thought this would be harder but I was far more limber and my smaller size made it easier to move about in the shower. My time in the shower was slightly erotic as soap and water helped my fingers glide everywhere over my silky skin and the feelings that generated were nothing but pleasurable.

It took thirty minutes to dry and brush out my hair and I even curled it a little on the edges. Next I decided to go light on the makeup and used my secret memories of a life that had never existed before. Lipstick, eyeshadow, and eye liner was all I put on.

By the time I got downstairs for breakfast, I was already running a little late. Mom was there and commented how pretty I looked. I had a quick bite to eat, ran upstairs to brush my teeth, and then the doorbell rang. Rushing back downstairs I got there just in time to see my mom giving Brant the once over. She’d even started into a full-blown interrogation by the time I grabbed Brant’s arm and dragged him away.

“Bye, mom!”

“Bye, sweetheart.”

We walked half a block before Brant paused and looked me over carefully. “Is that really you in there, Cade?”

“Don’t give me that sly grin that says Cade’s gone all feminine on me.”

“I was going to say that I’d never know you weren’t a girl yesterday. Your makeup is flawless and you did a great job on your hair and outfit. Well done.”

“Thank you. How are you coping?”

“Really well. I even got to shave for the first time. I tried out my new equipment last night. It was so incredible.”

I did something I didn’t think I knew how to do, but I blushed. “That’s almost too much information. I gather you’re all right with the state of things?”

“Why wouldn’t I be? Sure this isn’t what I’d ever thought of, but I’m a healthy, good-looking guy and a lot younger now. Did you try out your equipment?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“I dabbled, but I’m not sure how this body works yet.”

“I bet I know why.”

“Do I dare ask for your scientific opinion?”

“I told you yesterday that I’m okay with how things turned out. I still love you and I thought about the new you… It was so easy and amazing… and slightly messy.”

I rolled my eyes. “You’re saying I was only able to dabble because you think I’m now only attracted to guys?”

“It sort of makes some sense. Let me give you a little female advice. Women respond differently than men do. Last night was pure testosterone fueled lust. I’ve never been able to do anything like that before yesterday. I could only fully enjoy myself when I had an emotional tie to what I was fantasizing about.”

“Maybe we should change the subject. Did you find anything out about our situation?”

“Well, my mom is a thriller novel writer and my dad works as a consultant to struggling sports teams.”

“That’s good to know if I were at all vaguely interested in your parents. I was asking about our, yours and mine, situations. How do we get back to the way things were?”

“There’s nothing I could find. Cade Maxwell and Tatiana Pierce never existed. I checked for birth certificates, hospital records, everything. I tried to find anything related to the chaos machine technology and I also found nothing. The only thing I stumbled onto is the concept of alternative realities and how we may still exist as ourselves in another parallel universe, but in this one this is it. I hate to say it, Piper, but we’re stuck.”

Stopping in my tracks I looked up into Brant’s eyes. My bottom lip began to quiver. “You really think we’re stuck? I thought maybe we’d be like this for a few days until we could find the chaos machine and reverse it.”

“I looked everywhere and didn’t find any way. Are things so bad that you can’t accept your new life?”

“Yes… No… I mean, look at me. I don’t know anything about being a girl in high school.”

“Sure you do. Does everything feel foreign to me? Absolutely. But I have memories that guide me. Did you know how to apply makeup or do your hair? Not as Cade. But your memories are there guiding you even though for you it feels new. There must be something that you can accept. Isn’t there?”

“My family feels wonderful. You know I lost my parents at a young age. I feel secure with them. I don’t have aches and pains when I wake up. I’m pretty, which is better than the alternative.”

“That’s a great start but I think you need to look deeper. Yes, you’re pretty. Very pretty. But more than that, you’re alive and you have me. We have each other to walk through this together.”

“I guess you’re right.” We started walking again and we turned the corner to see the school. “Oh my God! I’m not sure I’m ready for this.” Moms in mini vans were dropping off their kids. There were hundreds of high schoolers all over the place. Some boys were having their books knocked from their arms. Girls were in cliquish groups gossiping. There were the preppies and the Goths, the jocks and the nerds. The bros were the party kids, the stoners were the drug abusers. Some girls wore Anime-like clothes. Some students were holding up signs to save the local turtles from extinction. There were the dark, brooding, artsy kids. Hip Hop kids were playing loud music and jerking their heads back and forth in time to the music. There were cultural groups of foreign exchange students and then there were the queens of the school.

“I’m trying to look on the bright side, Piper, but clearly it has been a long time since I was in school. The chaos machine has nothing on this place.”

“There’s a reason the CIA never places students in high school. They can’t train you for this kind of mission.”

We walked towards the main doors, my eyes getting wider by the minute. The queens, who were sitting on a low wall, all stopped talking as we approached. “Hey newbies!” Looking around I made sure they were talking to us. They had stood in the meantime and the head queen was circling us. I’m a wounded seal in Cape Town with a great white shark circling me. The head queen stopped in front of Brant and looked him over like a piece of perfectly cooked prime rib. I was immediately irritated and didn’t like her. “I’m Mandy Simpson, head cheerleader, future prom queen, and future class president. And you are?”

I waited for a quick intelligent retort from Brant, but clearly the testosterone was messing with his brain. I could see Mandy was as shallow as they come, but his eyes seemed glassed over by the pretty blonde with D-cup breasts.

“He’s Brant Daniels. His mother dropped him on his head when he was a baby and he can barely speak.”

“As long as everything else works fine, he might be the perfect man then.”

I really want to feed this girl a pompom.

“I can speak just fine, thank you, Piper.”

Mandy strolled over to me. “Piper, is it? How did your parents come up with that name? At least you weren’t named Cessna or Boeing. Perhaps you were named after Peter Piper or the Pied Piper. Let me tell you how things work around here, Pippy. You don’t exist. Got that? I own this school.” Turning back to Brant she slid her finger across his chest. “Come on, girls. See you later, handsome.”

“Earth to Brant! What happened to you back there?”

“She seems nice.”

“Honey badger nice maybe. Tasmanian Devil nice perhaps. Long blonde hair and perky boobs doesn’t make a girl nice.”

“You’re right. What was I thinking?”

“You’re a guy now. Think of that thing between your legs as a light switch. When it’s on, your brain’s off.”

“Got it. You’re prettier than her anyways.”

“Don’t try to schmooze it over. Wipe the drool from your lip.”

***

“The principal will see you both now.”

We had to wait about thirty minutes for the principal to arrive before we were granted an assembly. Martin Harrelson was an uppity man that appeared to think the world revolved around him.

“Lois, hold my calls and get me a cup of coffee. Take a seat you two. Let’s see…” He pulled out two files. “We have Piper Isabella Stone and Brant Daniels. Welcome to Carver High School.” I was about to say thank you when he continued. “Your success here is my success. I’m successful because I’m an achiever. I could talk all day long and motivate young people, but it’s important they motivate themselves. You see that red sports car out there?” We looked out his window and saw a gaudy red Hyundai Tiburon. “That’s success! With effort and hard work and keeping your noses clean, you too might achieve the level of success I have. I run this school like a ship and I’m the general. What I say goes and I’ll not tolerate any insubordination. Tight rules make a ship function well. Got it? Both the football team and cheerleading squad have openings and tryouts are after school tomorrow. Any questions?” He didn’t wait for an answer but stood and showed us out. “Lois, where’s my coffee? Get these kids their schedules and locker assignments.”

We headed towards our first class that had already started. “That was interesting. Aye aye general Harrelson!”

“Are you going to try out for cheerleading?”

“I’ve got dozens of awards in my room saying I’m pretty good at it. It’s a tad cliché though. I’d hate to be stereotyped. I’m not just any ordinary girl you know. What about you? Football?”

“I know what you mean about stereotyping, but I really want to see what this body can do. Football would be a fun way of getting to know people and testing myself out. I know you’re not any ordinary girl, Piper. You saved my life a dozen times and rescued me in the Ukraine. No matter what you do, I admire you for who you are.”

“That’s nice of you to say. I’ve got history now. What do you have?”

“Chemistry.”

“Don’t make any explosives.”

***

Standing at the door to my history class I knocked and pried it open a few inches.

“Come in, come in. You must be Piper Stone our new student. Go ahead and find a seat.”

The guys all seemed interested in me with the same glassy-eyed stares Brant had earlier. I had to smile slightly as I took my seat near the back of the class. I never drew attention before as Cade.

“Piper, to catch you up, we’re discussing modern history. Can anyone tell me who the President of Turkey is and how he came into power? Anyone? Anyone?” Am I in a remake of Ferris Beuller’s Day Off? “Piper, would you like to try to answer this?”

“Sure. The current President of Turkey is Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Although Turkey is a republic, Recep actually came to power through voter oppression and assassinations.”

The teacher frowned at me and all the students turned and looked at me like I was some kind of freak. “You have the name of the President correct, but your facts about how he came into power are incorrect.”

“I was in Turkey at the time and was actively involved in assuring a peaceful transition of power.”

“Miss Stone. The creative writing class is next door. This is history and in here we deal with facts. Please refrain from ad-libbing in the future.”

***

Finding Brant at lunch was pretty easy. Just past the canned mystery meat, turn right and look for the groupies. Three girls were actively engaged in talking with him. When he saw me coming he waved me to sit with him. I’d never admit it publicly, but that made my entire day so far. “Girls, this is Piper. We both started today.” One of the girls said hello, but the other two stormed off.

“How was your morning, Brant?”

“Did you know that they teach some strange stuff these days?”

“Have you had history yet?”

“No.”

“A word of advice. If you think you know something because we were there, Piper and Brant weren’t and it’s a good idea to keep your mouth shut. My history teacher thinks I would make a good fiction writer.”

“You’re right; it will be hard to keep our real life history separate. If I look at my new past, I’ve never left the country. I’m sorry about earlier. I’ve been trying to focus my thoughts and not be ruled by my… I’m working on it and I’m getting better.”

Mandy Simpson sashayed over to our table. “I’ve been checking into you Brant. I hear you’re a football player. Hope you make the team.”

Brant was polite. “Thanks.” He then made my day for the second time by turning away from Mandy and looking at me. Mandy’s eyes shot poison-tipped daggers at me before she stormed off.

“Can I walk you home after school?”

“I’d like that.”

After lunch I headed to my locker to find a note taped to it. ‘Dear Pipper. Just a gentle reminder that I can make your life a living hell here. Welcome to Carver. M.’

***

Brant was waiting for me when I left the school. There’s no question his attentions were making me feel special. In the back of my mind I was worried that he might choose to stray and leave me on my own. Is this the new me? Am I succumbing to my inner frail girlness?

“Did you have a better afternoon, Piper?”

“Yes. This is still all so strange to think my world is no longer fifteen-hour days seven days a week. School felt rather short compared to our regular work.”

“I know how you feel. Assuming there’s no going back then we need to start thinking about our future. Would you consider going into the CIA again?”

“No. No way. It was all consuming. You were right back in Italy. We gave our lives for the country but we missed out on so much. You?”

“I agree with you. I wish we’d simply walked away together from the CIA in Monte Carlo. It would have been such a fitting mission to close things off on. I was so taken by being Mrs. Maxwell. If you had asked me to marry you I would have said yes in a heartbeat.”

“Had I known that’s what you were thinking, I would have asked. It’s so hard to think about the future and choosing a new career.”

“This is my new house. You want to come in?”

“Sure.”

Brant opened the door and walked right in. I followed behind cautiously.

“Is that you, Brant?”

“Yeah, mom.”

“I’m in the kitchen. How did your first day of school go?”

Brant led me into the kitchen and hugged his mom. She looked at me and smiled. She seemed very outgoing and friendly.

“School went well. Mom, this is Piper. We met yesterday. She’s new in town as well. We both started today.”

“Aren’t you a pretty thing? I love your brunette hair with such bright blue eyes.”

“Thank you.”

Brant turned to head upstairs. “I’m just going to change. I’ll be right back.”

“He’s a nice, kind boy.”

I was about to say I know. “That’s good to know. He tells me you’re a thriller writer.”

“Did he now? Do you like reading thrillers?”

“You could say I’m a bit of a hobby spy. I have to be with a ten year old brother.”

“I’m writing a new novel now about a woman born in the United States to Russian parents who became radicalized. She’s about your age and looks like you. She uncovers a plot where her parents are attempting to assassinate the President with diclofenac.”

“Why use diclofenac when you could grow castor beans and create ricin? It would be untraceable to obtain and a couple grains in a salt shaker would do just as well.”

“That’s an excellent idea. You’re not a high school terrorist are you?” She said it with a smile.

“As I said, I’m sort of a fan of spy stuff. I think pragmatism is most often better and some thrillers and spy novels make it hard to believe their reality by focusing too much on being clever.”

Brant came back downstairs as his mom was looking at me curiously. “What an absolutely adorable girl, Brant. Perhaps we could invite her over for supper this weekend?”

“That would be wonderful. I think I’ve got my room clean enough. Would you like to come see it, Piper?”

“If it’s all right with your mother.” She nodded and smiled knowingly. “It was a pleasure meeting you Mrs. Daniels.”

“The pleasure was all mine, Piper.”

Brant led me upstairs and he closed his door once we got into his room. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you made quite the impression.”

“If your mom only knew…”

“This is it. My new home away from home.”

The walls were covered in posters of football players and cheerleaders. There were trophies everywhere. Clothes were haphazardly strewn across the floor and there was even a jock strap which I started giggling over. “Can’t say I miss those or the guys change rooms. Your room is very masculine.”

“That’s the new me. Mr. Masculine. You want to feel my bicep?”

Little by little Brant had been wearing me down and I was feeling more and more at home in my new body. Sure, everything felt new on the outside, but inwardly I was amazed at how quickly I was becoming Piper. Sitting down on his bed I became a little pensive. I found the cheerleader posters offensive even though I was one. “Thank you for being there for me all day today.”

“I still love you, Piper. I can’t imagine my life without you.”

His hand brushed my hair from my face and for the moment I leaned into his strong hand. When he tried to kiss me I pulled back and immediately felt ashamed. “I’m sorry, Brant. I adored Tatiana. I was in love with her for maybe five or six years. Don’t get me wrong as I’m not saying no to you, just that I need more time. This is all such a shock for me still. I’m still getting used to the idea I’m smaller and weaker and in a way, this frightens me.” I reached for his hand and held it wanting to give him something.

He lifted his chin like he recognized something. “I love you, Piper. I’m willing to wait and I wasn’t thinking about how this might feel for you. I can understand you wanting to feel safe and secure. You did that for me as Cade. You never treated me badly and were always there to protect me. If I’m going to be a man, I’m going to be a good man and I’ll start right now by taking down these posters of other women.”

“Would you hold me for a moment?” When his arms wrapped around me there was no place else in the world I wanted to be. Something stirred inside of me and something stirred next to me. Extracting myself from Brant’s arms I lifted up onto my tiptoes and kissed his cheek. “I should go. I need to find out what I’m capable of if I’m going to try out for cheerleading tomorrow.”

“I’ll walk you if you like.”

Glancing at his bulging jeans his eyes followed mine. It was nice to see him blush. “You might want to take care of that before going too far. I’ll be fine, but thank you.”

“This thing really has a mind of its own.”

“Just wait until you get one of those while sitting in a classroom.” Smiling, I added, “I’m not sure I’ll miss those days. Have fun, handsome.”

He chased me to the top of the stairs and by the time I was back on the street heading for home I was feeling pretty good about things. Turning up the walkway to my house I heard the bushes rattle and a slight giggle. I deliberately continued to go up the front steps and onto the porch, only to quickly vault over the rail and sneak up behind Jonathan. “Gotcha!”

“Hey! That’s not fair!”

“There is no ‘fair’ in being a spy. You have to be the best. That means no laughing when you’re hiding in the bushes.”

“I’ll get you next time!” Jonathan scampered off leaving me grinning.

Upon entering the house I found my mom watching video recordings of me cheerleading. “How was school today, sweetheart? Did you see Brant much?”

“School was all right. I made a few friends and a few enemies so I guess that about balances out. Brant was helpful and sweet.”

“I know it’s just been a few days, but I think he really likes you. A mother has a sense of these things.”

Sitting down next to my mom I wrapped my arms around her. “You’re watching my old cheerleading videos.”

“I was putting things away when I found them. You’re very talented. I can’t believe a year from now you might be off at college somewhere.” There was moisture in her eyes that made me choke up a little. I’ve a lifetime of memories I didn’t live through, but this mom and this family felt so important to me already.

We watched me a little longer and I was pretty amazed at my own abilities. “Would you like help making dinner?”

“That would be wonderful, Piper.”

“Could you pick a few things up for me?”

“What do you need?”

“Some stuff for Jonathan.”

“Just make a list and I’ll see.”

***

After dinner I helped clean up and played a board game with Jonathan. I was feeling so intimately connected with my new family that my mom’s comment about leaving in a year mad me sad. I really want to be a good big sister and a good daughter. All evening my mind strayed to Brant. Where my family gave me a sense of belonging and being a part of something bigger, Brant made me feel all warm inside.

I spent some time in the backyard working on my cheerleading moves and was quite surprised that my new body had muscle memory for the actions I had watched on the television with my mom. As I got ready for bed I stretched a little finding out I could do the splits. More and more I was impressed by the level of fitness and strength this smaller body possessed. This gave me a little more confidence in myself.

I woke sexually frustrated and before my alarm went off. I dreamt about Brant taking me in his arms and him laying me in my bed. In my dream everything was very passionate and Brant ever so slowly increased my desire for him. I even touched and did things with Brant I still struggled in my mind doing leaving me somewhat conflicted upon waking.

How can I be so turned on and turned off at the same time? After showering and getting myself dressed in a cute blue dress I placed my gym and cheerleading clothes in a small backpack and headed downstairs. I was bound and determined to be ready for Brant as I was assuming he would come by to walk me to school. Luckily I wasn’t disappointed and Brant showed up right on time.

“You look beautiful this morning, Piper. Are you all ready for cheerleading tryouts?”

“Thank you. Yes, I think so. I can do the splits. What about you? Are you ready for football?”

“I think so. I went to a field last night with some footballs and threw them. I appear to be able to do football moves and my martial arts from Tatiana’s life.”

“I noticed the same.”

“Did you try out your equipment yet?”

“You’re sure interested in my equipment.”

“Only in a professional sense. I want to make sure you’re adapting well.”

“Liar.” I slugged him on his arm. “You want details. I had a dream about you last night.”

“I’ve been having dreams about you at night and during the day. So you figured out how your body works then?”

“No… I do get turned on thinking about you and how nice you’ve been to me but my brain is still thinking that’s gay. So I’m sexually frustrated right now.”

“That’s not unexpected. Try taking a bath tonight and get fully relaxed before going to bed. Fantasize about something that won’t freak you out.”

“I can’t believe we’re talking about this. When you do your thing you don’t feel awkward sometimes thinking about me?”

“Not in the least. I think about the man I love in a smoking hot teenage girl’s body.” Brant shifted his bag to hide the front of his pants.

Giggling I pushed him up against a tree. “You want me, don’t you?”

“Stop that!”

Giggling some more I realized I sort of wanted him too. As we neared school I could see Mandy and her queens. “Do you want to get lunch together?”

“Of course. Maybe after tryouts I can walk you home again.”

“I’d love that.”

Mandy came bouncing up to Brant. “Hi Brant. I did some checking and it looks like we’re in the same history class together. You can sit next to me. If you like, we could get together after school today and I can help you catch up on what you missed.”

“That’s very kind of you, but after tryouts today I’m walking Piper home.”

“That will be late though and I’m sure Pipper doesn’t want to wait for the football tryouts to be over.”

“It’s so kind of you to think about me, Mandy, but I’ll be here late as well trying out for the cheerleading squad.”

“Really? It’s a shame we only have one slot to fill. Maybe if there were six openings you might just squeeze in under the wire.” Mandy reached over to squeeze Brant’s bicep. “You’re strong, Brant. I can’t wait to see your moves.” With a glare at me she bounced off.

“I really dislike that girl.”

“You don’t think she’s just being nice?”

“Is Tatiana still in there somewhere? She would see through that trampy blonde right away.”

Brant grinned. “Of course I see her for what she is, but it’s kind of nice to see you get a little riled up. It means I have some hope you’ll come around.”

“Please don’t even joke about being with her. This is hard enough knowing we’re going through this together. If I lost you, I’m not sure how I would cope.”

Brant’s hand found mine. “It’s all right. Do you really think some teenage girl is going to catch my eye over you? You are prettier than she is and you have redeeming qualities.”

“Redeeming qualities?”

“You’re smart, caring, and one hell of a good shot with a gun.”

“You’re pretty great yourself. You know just what to say to make me feel good about myself.”

“Don’t worry about Mandy. She thinks she’s a big fish in a small pond. You’ve taken out international criminals.”

“What classes do you have this morning?”

“Math, physics, and English, and then history and art after lunch.”

“I’ve got chemistry, physics, and math, then English and music. How did I get music and you get art?”

“Luck of the draw, I guess.”

Squeezing Brant’s hand I realized he hadn’t let go yet. “See you at lunch.”

***

The only seat left in chemistry was with a really nerdy kid named Nathan. All the girls giggled that’s who I got stuck with, but I didn’t mind. Chemistry labs were notoriously boring and having someone that actually knew something might be helpful. What wasn’t helpful was that Mandy was in my class.

“Hi, Nathan. Did you get introduced to Pippy yet?” Mandy was up to something.

“Uhm. You’re talking to me?”

“Yes, Nathan. As a fellow student, you’re very important to me. Remember that when it comes time to vote for class president. I just wanted you to know that I overheard Pippy talking about you. She’s single and is looking for a hot new boyfriend.” Nathan was squirming in his seat and staring between Mandy’s breasts and mine. The poor guy was struggling keeping his composure and other things well hidden. “You should go get your supplies for the lab now.”

“Nathan, look at me.” It took a moment, but Nathan did finally look me in the eyes. “I’ll go get the supplies.” He nodded dumbly and squirmed all the more. Grabbing Mandy’s arm I pulled her to the side. “Stop being such a total skank, Mandy. Grow up, get a life, and maybe try to learn something while you’re at school because when you’re older and have popped out a few kids and your boobs are dragging on the floor, you might just need something to fall back on besides your back.”

“Is that the best you got, wench? Just wait until Brant picks me over you and he will. You’re just not in his league.” She turned away and I went into the back to grab our lab items.

We were well into the lab with our Bunsen burners on when Mandy walked by and dropped something into Nathan and my beaker. She smirked as black smoke began pouring out of the beaker setting off the fire alarm. We were standing around outside when Mandy walked up to the principal and pointed in my direction. Moments later he strode over, grabbed my arm and hauled me into his office.

“There are witnesses that say you set off the alarms on purpose. That you were the one that picked out the lab chemicals and you picked one you knew we cause the smoke and set off the alarms.”

“That’s not true, it wasn’t me.”

“I’m not asking for your opinion, Miss Stone. This is your first warning. I’ll not tolerate mischief like this in my school. Now get back to class.” His finger pointed me to the door. Round one goes to Mandy.

***

Sitting with Brant at lunch made me feel somewhat better. I caught myself staring into his eyes and daydreaming. Ever since my dream last night I’ve been seeing him differently.

“Are you going to eat your pudding?”

“Hmmm?”

“Your pudding. Are you going to eat that?”

“No. I’m not too hungry.”

“What’s going on?”

“You know the fire alarm this morning? Mandy dropped something into my beaker in chemistry and set it off. Who do you think got the blame?”

“You’re kidding.”

“She doesn’t like me much.”

“That’s because you’re better than her in every way.”

“Growing up as a guy, I had my problems. There were always alpha males that wanted to show their dominance. I guess I was naïve to think it was different being a girl.”

“Guys tend to be louder and more physical but girls lean towards psychological warfare.”

“Hi Brant.” Oh God, not Mandy again. “I’m not so sure you want to be sitting with her. She’s a bit of a troublemaker. You wouldn’t want Principal Harrelson to think you’re like her.”

“I hadn’t thought about that. I’d hate to think the principal would consider me both good looking and smart like Piper. Who do you think I should sit with? The tech nerds or the good looking ones but not so smart group?”

Mandy left in a huff. “You are my hero! For that you get a kiss on the cheek.” Leaning over I brushed my lips against his cheek. He smelled really nice.

Brant just sat there grinning.

***

Mandy was an absolute tyrant. She ran the ten girls trying out ragged. Sweat was pouring off of me but I was very proud at what I had accomplished. My moves were flawless and more than one of the regular squad suggested I was better even than Mandy. Mandy told everyone that she needed to confer with the squad before choosing the newest recruit. That was fine by me as I was enthralled watching Brant on the football field. I sat in the bleachers with the other girls and was truly mesmerized by his handsome, athletic body. I started getting warm all over thinking about him.

Mandy and her team came out fifteen minutes later. “I want to thank you all for trying out. Unfortunately we only have one position on the squad. That position goes to Melanie. All the rest of you, grab your things, you’re done for the season. All but Piper.” Everyone paused to hear what Mandy was about to say. My eyes narrowed. “You showed some promise out there, Piper. With a couple of years of hard work, you could possibly make a cheerleading squad. We do have one more position we think you’d be perfect for. We need someone to be our team mascot. It would be a true honor. What do you say, Piper?”

Not wanting to give her immediate satisfaction I merely stated, “I’ll think about it.”

With my head hung low I headed to the change rooms and then waited for Brant on the bleachers. He came out with a huge smile on his face. “I made the team! The coach said I was good enough for a backup quarterback, but for regular play I could be a running back. I saw you trying out. You’re hard to tear my eyes off of.”

“I didn’t make the squad.”

“You’re joking. You were far and above better than everyone else out there. I know because I was watching.”

“As head cheerleader it was Mandy’s decision. She said I could be mascot if I wanted.”

“I’m sorry, Piper. Come on. Let me walk you home.”

***

My family and dinner were waiting when I got home. I was feeling pretty down on myself. My new life’s memories showed me that I’d always made the cheerleading squad. Somehow, deep down, I really wanted it. It’s so strange that one day I was a man in my fifties with a thirty-plus year career as a CIA agent and the next I was a teenage girl pining for being on something that really didn’t matter.

“How did your day go, Piper?”

“Not so good. I didn’t make the squad.”

Dad, who rarely says anything decided now was a good time to start talking. “That might be for the best anyways. I got a call from principal Harrelson today. Apparently you caused the smoke alarms to go off?”

“That’s not true. Mandy Simpson did it. She’s the head cheerleader that’s after Brant and is trying to get me out of the way. She caused the alarm and I got blamed, then she told me the only position I qualified for was the mascot.”

“I don’t know this Brant fellow, Piper, but I do know you need to focus. Maybe not being on the squad or having a boyfriend is a good idea right now. You have your future to think about. The principal said he had evidence to prove you caused the alarm. I’m telling you now that you’re going to have to buckle down and smarten up; especially if I’m going to help you get your driver’s license.”

“That’s unfair, dad. You know I wouldn’t do such a thing.” At least I hoped he knew. “May I be excused, please?”

Mom looked at dad like he better agree. He nodded and I headed for the door.

Mom came to the front door just as I was about to leave. “Where are you going?”

“For a walk.”

“I know this is hard, Piper. Starting a new school partway into the year, your hormones are in full swing, and there are a lot of distractions. If you ever want to talk, I’m here.”

“Thanks, mom.”

Stepping out into the cool evening air I took a deep breath and started walking finding myself on the grassy knoll that overlooked the football field. Lying back in the grass I pondered my new life. How can high school be so hard? Hearing a car pull up I looked down upon the school parking lot. Headlights flashed twice and then principal Harrelson walked out to meet two strange people. He handed them a small package and they handed him an envelope. They got back into their car and took off and the principal headed back into the school. Something shady is going on but I’m not a CIA agent any more. I stood and headed home.

Back in my bedroom I got ready for bed and pulled the sheets up over me. I was bound and determined to release some stress. Letting my hands roam over my body I could feel my nipples harden and become erect. The slightest touch sent small shivers down my back. Sliding one hand up under my nightgown I found easy access between my moist vaginal lips. The feeling of moving the flat of my finger lightly back and forth over my clitoris was electric. I fantasized about many things and seemed to get close a few times but it wasn’t until I pictured Brant that my passions took me to the next level. Moments later I shook and stifled a scream as I experienced my first female orgasm. The feeling was so intense and so wonderful I continued my slow ministrations until five minutes later I came again.

Now that I knew my body and brain were working properly I resolved to myself that I wasn’t missing a thing. Actually, if anything, I felt more alive than ever before and had desires, strong desires to be close to Brant. For the first time since my change I really thought I could handle this.

***

The next morning I was a new girl. My exposure to the glories of all things female made my heart light and my smile impossible to remove. I chose a conservative, yet sexy sundress and changed up my hairstyle slightly providing the exact impact I wanted it to have on Brant. He sucked in his breath and held it when he saw me. Grabbing his arm in mine I made sure I touched him as much as I could as we walked to school.

“Something is different about you today.”

“I found out my new equipment works great.”

“Was there anything in particular that helped?”

Pausing I pulled Brant to the edge of the sidewalk and close to a bush. Flirting a little I leaned close and whispered into his ear. “I just pictured you moving your hands over my body.”

Brant moved over to sit down on a small cement wall. “I can’t walk to school like this. I need a minute.”

Sitting next to him I got a little more serious. “I want this to work out between us. I’d be happy if the school knows we’re together.”

“You sure you’re not jealous and just want to take me off the market to keep Mandy away?”

“We’ve always made a good team. Putting Mandy in her place is a side benefit.”

“You need to stop worrying about Mandy.”

“Do you know what my biggest fear is?”

“That you’ll never get back to who you were?”

“Surprisingly, no. My biggest fear is that you’ll grow tired of me, or tired of waiting for me, and find someone else.”

“And here I was worried you’d find some other guy.”

“There’s not a guy in school that’s remotely interested in me.”

“You must be blind and deaf because you’re the talk of the school. I’m sure Mandy is seething about that.”

“Not a single guy has approached me.”

“I think perhaps they’re intimidated by your beauty.”

“Either that or they’re intimidated by you. Either way, I’m fine with it.”

“What are you going to do about the mascot thing?”

“I’m going to do it. I’m not letting Mandy’s spiteful actions get me down. I can rise above it.”

“I’m impressed.”

“Besides, it gets me front row seats to watching you play. You’re quite the handsome hunk out there.”

“We should get going since I think I can walk again. We don’t want to be late.”

***

This morning was my first real chance to enter the Holy of Holies; the high school girl’s change room for gym class. If ever a test existed of my new sexuality, this would be it. Unfortunately, I remained as unmoved as a chicken trying to pull a tank. Clearly, my brain was no longer functioning as it should. I’m now one hundred percent heterosexual female.

This was yet another class I had with Mandy and she made it clear she was out for blood. We played field hockey and she stuck to me like glue eventually finding the opportunity to sweep my leg from behind causing me to crash hard on the turf.

After gym class Mandy made a big show of walking around the change room topless and bragging. “I’m dating Brant.”

The other girls all clustered around her. “But what about Hank, the quarterback?”

“He’s so passé. Brant’s smart and sensitive. He knows what a woman needs and wants. He’s my partner for a history report and…” She looked directly at me. “…we’ll be working late into the night. I’m going to invite him to my room and I’ll show him these. After that, he’ll be mine until I have no more use of him.”

“As if.”

“You think you have something to say about the matter, Piper?”

“Brant’s too smart to fall for a tramp like you.”

“And you, the girl only fit for playing the mascot, think you can win his heart?”

“I already have his heart and I didn’t have to sell my body to get it. I’ve decided to take the mascot job, by the way. I figure what an awesome opportunity to watch you fall on your fat ass.”

“Why you little…”

I smiled as the teacher walked in and told us all to clear out.

***

“When were you going to tell me about you being paired up with the wicked witch of the west?”

“It happened in history class yesterday. It was a random assignment. Since you had such a bad day yesterday I thought I’d wait. It’s not like anything will happen.”

“She made it clear in gym class today that she was going to invite you to her house so she could show you her breasts. She also said the two of you were dating.”

“What did you do?”

“I told everyone you were already mine.” I barely said this above a whisper.

“Am I?”

“I want you to be.”

“Then I’m yours and I’ll prove it to everyone Friday night.”

“You don’t mind that I’m not all over you like Mandy would be?”

“I want you to be ready, fully ready. I also don’t want to cheapen what we have by making a scene just for high school politics.”

“A girl could easily fall in love with you, Brant Daniels.”

“There’s only one girl I have the remotest interest in falling in love with me. That’s Piper Isabella Stone.”

Taking his hand in mine I refused to let it go until after the lunch break was finished.

***

At home that evening dad took me driving for the first time.

“Before we even start the car, you need to understand the basics. Do you know the difference between a standard and an automatic?”

“I watch television, dad.” Popping the hood I examined the engine and began pointing out things. “This is the air filter, here’s the oil filter, washer fluid, starter, radiator, fan belt, brake fluid. This 2013 Jetta has a five-speed manual transmission, a four cylinder inline engine generating one hundred and fifteen horsepower.”

“Where did you learn all of that?”

“Google.”

“Okay, why don’t you start the car? You’ll need to…”

“Push the clutch in with my left foot before starting the engine. I’m good, dad. I can do this.”

“Show me.”

After starting the car I pulled out of the driveway and began driving around the neighborhood. I didn’t make a single mistake and even parallel parked the first time. I drove towards the school and spotted the principal once again in the parking lot handing another package to someone before I turned around and headed back home.

“You’re a natural, Piper.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell him the last car I drove was a five hundred horsepower Maserati.

“When can I go schedule my driver’s test?”

“Let’s do a few more drives first but if you continue to do so well, hopefully within a few weeks. How are things going at school?”

“Starting a new high school is a challenge, but nothing I can’t handle.”

***

Friday came and so did the first football game of the year. I donned the ugly gray mighty opossum mascot outfit and cringed at the smell of someone else’s body odor. I was grateful that the suit was fairly close fitting allowing me to move around quite well. The head flopped a bit but that added to the appeal of the character.

As the sun began to set and the field lights came up, we took to the field. Mandy made sure she was front and center but I was chosen by tradition to lead the team out onto the field. As I ran I turned, twisted, and moved into a series of end over end flips. The crowd cheered wildly. Apparently their mighty opossum had never flipped before.

In a way, I was rather enjoying the suit. I’d never been a very extroverted person. The CIA kind of frowns upon that, but in the suit, I could dance and be free to do things I wouldn’t normally have done. In the third quarter the other team’s eagle mascot started pestering me during a time out. He made crude arm gestures at me and I just waved my tail at him. He didn’t like that very much and started chasing me. The crowd was cheering until I slipped and fell and the eagle mascot dove to tackle me. Using my martial arts training I raised my legs just in time for the eagle to land on my feet and I pushed him upward and hard letting his momentum carry him up and over me, crashing into a table with Gatorade. The cooler poured all over the eagle and the crowd went wild as I stood up and danced away.

The game turned out to be very close and Brant scored the winning touchdown on the final push. The game was over and the mighty opossums had won. I pulled off my opossum head and watched for Brant. I spotted him just as Mandy ran up to him hugging him. I was very angry but as I watched he lifted her off of him, set her to the side and ran forward sweeping me up into his arms and kissing me.

My heart faltered in my chest and my lips were on fire as I clung to him kissing him over and over. “You were incredible, Brant!”

“So were you! The eagle was nothing but a sopping wet pile of feathers by the time you finished with him. Let’s get changed and I’ll walk you home. Let’s plan on getting together early tomorrow.”

“Nine o’clock. I want to sleep in a little.”

“I’ll meet you at the bleachers in thirty minutes so I can walk you home.”

He kissed me again and I almost passed out from relief and joy. The past few days had been wonderful.

***

Saturday morning came and I woke with an excitement that was far greater than any day I could ever remember. Ever since Brant kissed me in front of the entire school I was walking on air. Now I know what being as giddy as a school girl is all about.

It had been almost a week since the chaos machine had radically changed our lives. Brant had made the transition easily but I had struggled more. We both attributed this to an innate sense of security and the fact that there are a lot more unknowns about being a woman. Being a guy is pretty straight forward but women have all sorts of unique hygiene concerns, periods, and fluctuating hormones on top of being smaller and generally weaker.

Slowly I had become less and less concerned and more hope filled me each day. It certainly helped me a lot figuring out how my emotions tied into my sexual response and how I’m not so weak and frail as I once pictured myself. I’m sure at some point the newness would wear off, but I was far more aware of my body and how I moved, what I wore, and how I acted would draw attention to me. There’s just so much more to think about as a woman. I don’t want to appear slutty, or like a librarian, I want that fine balance of being alluring, yet conservative. I want people to know me for who I am more than the way I look.

Ever since I had my first female orgasm I truly had begun to embrace my new body. I loved the weight of my breasts and how they shifted as I walked or when I rolled over in bed. The feel of my hairless skin still made me smile as I touched it. It’s hard for me to explain, but when I was a man, I thought a lot about sex. As a woman, I feel more sexual.

I noticed that my brain and emotions weren’t functioning the same as before. As a man I wouldn’t allow emotions to control my actions. I guess that could happen if I let it, but I chose not to. As a woman, I had no choice. My thoughts and decisions were being driven by my emotions. I felt things more deeply than ever before. The one thing that I had a hard time giving up was my self-reliance. I was always in control of my own destiny before and now my destiny was far more entwined with relationships and other people. Little by little I dropped the macho, I have to be in control of myself, mentality and now I’m okay with relaxing a little. The relief of not having to be a source of strength to those around me was palpable. I felt much freer to just be me.

Looking out the window it was a beautiful day and knowing I would spend a lot of time with Brant I chose my outfit carefully. I wore a red dress where the hem fell just below my knees. It was delicate and pretty, maybe a little too pretty for school but perfect for a day like today. Things that bothered me before, like my long hair and nothing but dresses, I now loved. If men only knew how wonderful a dress feels to wear, they’d be wearing them all the time.

I texted Brant to see if he was up yet and if he would like to come over to meet my family. He replied that he could be over in an hour so I got to work with some of the supplies my mom had bought. It wasn’t long, however, when mom called me down for breakfast.

“You look different, Piper. You didn’t… you know… with a boy?”

“No, mom. But Brant is officially my boyfriend. He kissed me last night after the game.”

“You need to be careful with your heart, Piper. You don’t want to get hurt and boys can be rather aggressive with what they want.”

“I’m not interested in anything short term, mom. Brant is different. He truly understands and won’t take advantage of me. I know you and dad will want to get to know him so he’s coming over this morning.”

Mom’s arms wrapped around me. “You’re growing up so fast.”

“I’m in no hurry to grow up and leave here. Sometimes I wish time could just freeze us in place.”

It wasn’t too much later that the doorbell rang. I ran to the door and let Brant in. Checking to see if my parents weren’t watching, I kissed Brant. “I can’t believe I waited so long to kiss you.”

“You’re worth the wait.”

Taking his hand in mine I pulled him into the living room. “Mom, dad, this is Brant Daniels.”

Brant walked confidently, yet politely over to them shook their hands and greeted them. “It’s a real pleasure to meet you both.”

There was the standard set of questions my parents asked. Where are you from? How do you like it here? What do your parents do? Now the questions became a little more protective in nature.

“What are your plans after high school?

“I realize a career in sports is rather high-risk. My grades are good enough to get me scholarships and I was planning on focusing my career on international trade.”

That’s an interesting answer.

“Piper told us that you kissed her and you’re now her boyfriend.” I buried my head in my hands. “We’d like to know your intentions towards our daughter.”

“I want you both to know that I’ve never had a relationship with another girl and that I find Piper to be an extraordinary young woman. She’s intelligent, creative, and I’m very attracted to her. My intentions are honorable towards Piper and I wouldn’t have tried to establish a relationship with her unless I felt we had a long-term future together. I’ll never put her in harm’s way, and I believe in waiting until marriage in case you’re wondering.”

Am I willing to wait until marriage? Brant pulled it off. He managed to sway my parents into believing he is a good choice for me. I managed to extract him from my parents and take him to my room. My first order of business was to kiss him.

“I meant what I said about waiting for marriage. We have a chance to do things right and I want that for both of us. I don’t want anything to interfere with our relationship.”

“On one hand, that’s a relief, but on the other, I want to be with you. I guess we can give it a go for a while and see how desperate we both get. International trade?”

“I love travel. The CIA really put the travel bug in me. I don’t want to go into the spy game and trade, while boring, is pretty safe. Not having people shoot at me all the time would be a nice feeling. What are you making? Camo pom poms?”

“I’m making a ghillie suit for Jonathan.”

“He wants to be a sniper?”

“He’s all into spy stuff. I thought I’d help him out a little.”

“You’ve really gone all in with the family stuff.”

“I love it, Brant. I know it’s early, but I always wanted children. I just never thought I’d be the one having them.”

“I don’t want you to ever worry about me, Piper. I intend to marry you one day. My parents want you over for supper tonight. Can you make it?”

“I don’t think that would be much of a problem. What do I need to do to impress them?”

“Honestly? You’ve already impressed mom. Dad will love you.”

***

Brant and I had a great day together and I was now nervous as I got ready for dinner with his parents. After showering and shaving and working on my hair for forty minutes, I was still concerned it wasn’t good enough. Choosing a black dress bordering on a formal design I hoped I wouldn’t be seen as to over the top. I made my way to Brant’s house and knocked on the door. Brant opened it and whistled low and kissed me on my cheek with a soft whisper. “Waiting until marriage will be really hard. You look stunning.”

Brant’s mom was in a dress as well so I didn’t feel too bad. “Piper, it’s so nice to see you again. This is Frank, my husband.”

“It’s very nice to meet you, Mr. Daniels.”

“Please, have a seat. Brant’s told us a lot about you already.”

“And yet you still invited me to dinner?”

That made them laugh, but I was still very nervous.

“We’re absolutely thrilled that Brant found someone to be good friends with so quickly.” I wonder if Brant hasn’t told them I was his girlfriend yet. I looked over at Brant imploringly.

He smiled back at me. “Yes, Piper. In case you’re wondering I did tell them we are an item.”

His dad looked very serious for a moment. “We’re going to need blood tests, DNA analysis, proof of ancestral breeding, and affidavits from ten people about your character.”

“Oh my! I better leave now. If you all find out I was raised by wolves in Siberia you won’t let me date your son.”

“She even has a wonderful sense of humor, Brant. Piper, perhaps you can tell us what your plans are after high school?”

Brant looked at me curiously, probably wanting to know what I would say. After he received his questions I started thinking about an answer should I be asked something similar. “I’m hoping to go into photo journalism. I want a career that I could continue in the event I had children and I love photography.”

“You didn’t want to become a professional cheerleader?”

“I’m not good enough to be a professional. Besides, once you become a professional you’re forced into wearing things I wouldn’t want to wear. I’m a touch conservative and don’t like the idea of people seeing too much of me. It diminishes the mystique.”

“Brant tell us you’re far better than the other girls on the squad and you could easily be professional.”

“That’s nice of him to say, but I had fun last night as the mascot.”

“Dinner is ready, why don’t you all come to the table?”

***

The weekend had really been spectacular and going to school Monday morning was a bit of a letdown. Actually it was a huge letdown.

“Piper Stone to the office…”

I had no idea why I was being called to the office. I cringed when Lois told me to go straight in that Mr. Harrelson was waiting. Make sure I closed the door behind me.

“What were you thinking?”

“Excuse me?”

“We run a respectable school here and your antics on Friday night made us look bad. More importantly, it made me look bad.”

“I still don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Look at my car!” My giggling turned into full outright laughter. His car had “Your Opossum Sucks” written all over it in some kind of spray foam. “This is not a laughing matter, Miss Stone! First, you beat up the opposing team’s mascot, and then you laugh at the horrible denigration of my car.”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Harrelson. You said I beat up the other team’s mascot? He attacked me.”

“You think this is funny? Maybe it’s not so funny when you see this.” He turned his computer screen around and I was shocked to see a Facebook page in my name showing video clips of the eagle mascot getting thrown, his black eye, and all sorts of comments where I was maligning the school, the principal, and the other school.”

“That’s not my Facebook page! I don’t have a Facebook page.”

“That’s your name and picture on the top. You’re to write a letter of apology to the other school and you now have detention. You’ll clean my car from top to bottom after school.”

“Someone is framing me. Look at the age of the account. This was created yesterday. I was with someone all day yesterday.”

“It’s either detention or suspension. The choice is yours. Get rid of that Facebook page. Now get out.”

The kids in my classes were split. Half of them said I was incredible the other half said I was scum. I just wanted to go crawl under a rock. Lunch took far too long to come but when it did I was somewhat relieved that Brant made every effort to cheer me up.

“You heard?”

“Yes. I’m sorry, Piper. I’m betting Mandy has her fingerprints all over that Facebook page.”

“We could prove it. We could show the page was created using her IP address. That’s what we used to do.”

“We shouldn’t let these things get to us. We’re not young teenagers. We are, but we’re really not. We can choose whether this trivial stuff will get the better of us.”

“True, or we can get even.”

“To what end? Mandy doesn’t seem to be the kind of person that will back down. Sooner or later it will escalate out of control.”

“Maybe you’re right. Besides, I’ve already won. I have you.”

***

Cleaning Mr. Harrelson’s car was horrible. I never liked washing cars to begin with but washing someone else’s for punishment when I didn’t do anything wrong was unjust. I had finished the outside and started on the inside when under the floor mat I found a little plastic bag. Inside was a piece of crystal meth. Is that what this scumbag principal is up to? He’s dealing meth? I slipped it back under the floor mat not wanting any chance that it would come back against me but the CIA agent in me wanted to address it somehow.

Arriving home late for dinner I was then grilled about my detention and the Facebook page. The principal had obviously called my mom and dad. I tried so hard to explain to them it wasn’t my doing but they didn’t believe me. My new female hormones and the unbearable weight of feeling like I let down my parents caused me to run to my room in a flood of tears.

***

The next day was the official start to the class presidential campaign. By noon Mandy already had her posters everywhere and no one was opposing her. Brant surprised me by taking me out to the grassy knoll overlooking the football field and had a lovely picnic lunch already prepared.

“You’ve been pretty quiet today.”

“I’m trying so hard to fit in and accept this is my new life, but more than that, I want it all to work. I want to be a daughter my parents can be proud of and they think I’m some kind of delinquent.”

“It will all blow over.”

“During my detention yesterday I had to clean principal Harrelson’s car. I found a packet of crystal meth. I’m sure he’s dealing. I’ve seen him twice exchanging packets with shady people in the parking lot after normal school hours. We should expose him. I know the unsavory types that surround drug dealing and our fellow students are at risk.”

“We’re not spies anymore, Piper. I trust your judgement but this is a matter for the police. After school we can go and tell them what you’ve seen.”

I needed to try to lighten the mood. “How are things for you? Are you enjoying the sights in the boy’s change room?”

“I thought ladies’ change rooms were bad, but they are so much better than the boy’s. Everyone is walking around nude, the place smells of Axe, bigger boys are picking on smaller ones, towels are being flicked at everyone, and the conversations are at a Neanderthal level and usually focused on sex and girls. It’s just totally disgusting.”

“You’re not getting turned on by all the boy parts waving in the wind?”

“Not in the least which bothered me initially. I’m all heterosexual guy now and I only have eyes for you.”

Smiling I leaned over and kissed him. “Women don’t do anything for me either, but I can safely say that I’ve not been even slightly interested in other guys.”

“I’ve been thinking about your image in school. You should run for class president against Mandy.”

“You’re joking.”

“Not at all. There are probably few guys that would choose to vote for Mandy over you and from what I hear, you’re gaining in popularity. Even though you’re disparaged and people think you might have done the Facebook page, it’s backfiring on Mandy. They think you’re cool to stand up to Mandy and the principal. You could easily win this and you’d put Mandy in her place when you win. I think it would be good for you to find out you have others that support you.”

“I’m skeptical, but I’ll do it.”

“We don’t have much time left before classes start again. Why don’t you go sign up and I’ll meet you after school to go to the police?”

“Sounds good. See you soon.”

***

The police department was a shabby little cement brick building in the middle of town. It reminded me of Mayberry. It took a few minutes to get in front of a police officer and I began to explain my concerns when the police chief overheard and stepped in, sending the lower ranking officer away.

“Who are you?”

“I’m Piper Stone. I just started at Carver High School a week ago.”

Leaving Brant in the hallway he pulled me into his office and closed the door.

“Why don’t you tell me what you think is going on.”

“Two times I’ve seen principal Harrelson exchanging envelopes in the school parking lot. This was at times when the students were not at school. Yesterday I was given the task of cleaning the principal’s car and I found a small plastic bag under one of the floor mats. I believe it was crystal meth.”

“So you think the principal is dealing meth?”

“That’s my suspicion.”

“Why were you cleaning his car?”

“It was my punishment for an incident with Hadley High School’s mascot on Friday night.”

“I heard about that. You gave their mascot a black eye.”

“That’s not what happened. What are you going to do about the principal?”

“Listen, Piper. Principal Harrelson is an upstanding citizen of this community. You probably just found a mint. I’ll speak to the principal and get this cleared up, but I’m not going to launch a full investigation based upon the hearsay of a seventeen year old girl that gets into fights.”

“Fine. Are we done?”

“Yes. I’ll encourage you to find new hobbies. This is a small town and word quickly spreads about mischief makers.”

I was summarily dismissed and escorted out of the building with Brant.

“How did that go?”

“We’re living in Mayberry. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think they don’t even know what meth is. He thought a mischief maker like me might be just causing trouble for the principal.”

“You did the right thing.”

“Maybe I’m still getting used to these female hormones, but my new female intuition is kicking in and I don’t think I’ve seen the last of this.”

***

I started my campaign and Brant helped me out at lunch the next day. We made posters and put those up and I met people in the lunch room. Brant was right. Mandy wasn’t nearly as popular as I thought she was and I had a much broader appeal. Had I been on the cheerleading squad I would have been just like her.

When I was walking between classes I spotted the police chief with the principal. They were talking casually and the police chief patted the principal on the arm in a friendly manner. Clearly the two knew each other well. Seeing the two of them together gave me a bad feeling but nothing happened. I was so grateful to get through the day without trouble that when I got home I finished the ghillie suit for Jonathan and played with him all night. Needless to say he was thrilled.

***

My real problems began the next day. I was in chemistry class when my name was called to the office. This was just before lunch and I quickly lost my appetite. Arriving at the office the police chief and the principal were there.

The principal started in on me. “Piper, you need to open your locker for us.”

“On what grounds?”

“We have reason to believe you’re dealing drugs.”

I’m being framed. “What evidence do you have to provide probable suspicion?”

The chief spoke up then. “You came to me to cast suspicion on the honorable principal of this school. There has been an increase in meth use in the community in the past few weeks and since you stated to me that you knew what meth looked like when you saw it that provides all the suspicion we need.”

“That and the fact you’ve proven to be untrustworthy and I’ve had to speak with you several times already. Now, please don’t keep us waiting.”

We walked down to my locker and I opened it and stepped aside.

The chief rummaged through my locker and pulled out a small bag with several smaller bags inside. Mandy just happened to show up with a camera and flashed a couple of pictures as I was led outside. “You are hereby suspended indefinitely. I’ll leave it to the police if they wish to seek further punishment. You’re to go home immediately. You’re parents have already been notified.”

“You both know I’m being framed!”

The principal pushed me up against the cold brick wall. “I’ll not let a snotty seventeen year old girl take me down. No one will take a second look at me. You’ll be lucky if you even find a job after all of this gets on your juvenile record.”

My phone beeped as I was walking home. ‘Rumor has it you were caught dealing drugs. I assume that’s why you’re not here to meet me for lunch?’

‘The police chief and the principal are in on it together. I’m indefinitely suspended.’

‘I’m coming over right now.’

‘Come over after school. I don’t want you linked to all of this.’

‘All right. Keep your chin up.’

Sitting on the front steps it wasn’t long until mom and dad arrived.

“What’s got into you, young lady? We didn’t raise a drug dealer!”

“Are you both going to stand there and accuse me without even hearing my side of the story?”

“I’m in no mood to listen to you right now. Forget taking your driver’s test. You’re grounded!”

“When have I ever done something like this?”

“This is the third call we’ve got from the school in less than two weeks. You’ve changed. Now go inside and we don’t want to see or hear from you until dinner!”

“Don’t bother setting a place for me. I’m leaving! I’ll not stay in a home that doesn’t want to listen to me. I’m a good person and I was framed for telling the police about the principal’s side business selling meth.”

Storming away I stopped only briefly to look back over my shoulder to see my mom in tears. I walked for some time in a bit of an angry haze finding myself on the doorstep of Brant’s home. He wouldn’t be home for a while so I just sat down and cried.

It wasn’t long before I heard the door open behind me and Mrs. Daniels found me.

“Piper? Why are you here? What’s wrong?”

I unloaded. “Ever since I came to this stinking town only one good thing has come out of it. Brant. I was framed for causing the smoke alarm to go off, framed for a Facebook page I never created, and now framed for selling drugs. My parents don’t believe me. I’ve been grounded, suspended, and now I’m likely to have a record.”

“Come in, Piper. I want to hear all about it. Can I call your mom and at least let her know you’re safe?”

Nodding I had another round of tears as I thought about my mom worrying about me. Giving Mrs. Daniels my mom’s number she called.

“Mrs. Stone? This is Mrs. Daniels. Brant’s mother. I want you to know that Piper is here with me. She’s safe. No, don’t come over just yet. Let me talk to her a bit. You’re welcome.”

Mrs. Daniels hung up the phone and turned to me. “Thank you for letting me call her. She was frantic and rightfully so. I want to hear the entire story but first I think you need to understand something. Sometimes as parents we want so badly to see only good in our children. When things like this happen, it’s a shock at first. I’ve not known you long, Piper, but this doesn’t sound like something you would do. You’re too smart to get involved in something like this. I suspect your parents need time to reflect on the good person you are and they’ll calm down and listen to you. Please don’t judge them. They love you more than you’ll ever know. Now, start from the beginning. I want to hear all the details.”

About thirty minutes later I completed telling Mrs. Daniels everything.

“Piper, you said you’re a hobby spy reader. What do you think you’re next steps are? How does the heroine of the story reverse the wrongs done to her?”

“In a fiction story she would be Nancy Drew and get hard evidence against the principal and the police chief and present it to the FBI.”

“There’s no way I’d ever want you to do anything like that in real life. It’s far too dangerous. I wonder if something could be leaked to the press.”

“That’s a possibility. I’ve got a few ideas. I could get an old phone and use it as a video recorder. Perhaps put it in a tree overlooking the parking lot. There are some cameras in the school, but they might be compromised. Thank you for hearing me out. I’ll head home now.”

“Piper? For what it’s worth, I believe you.”

Heading home I was pretty nervous as to what the situation would be but by the time I was a block away my mom was running towards me and swept me into her arms. She apologized over and over and pledged her support.

“Please, don’t run away like that again. We’re sorry. We still don’t understand, but dad and I spoke about it and we decided we need to take your word. That doesn’t mean we’re happy about things, but we’ll do what we can to support you. Until the past few weeks, we’ve never had a single complaint about you and it simply doesn’t make sense you can be a perfect daughter and sister while dealing drugs and getting into fights.”

“You don’t know how much that means to me to hear you say this. It’s been a terribly hard couple of weeks and I just seem to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. I’m not lying when I say I was framed. When I went to the police I started speaking with one officer, but when the chief overheard he quickly sent that officer away and took me alone into his office to hear my story. When I was cleaning the principal’s car I found a packet of meth and I’ve seen him twice making deals in the school parking lot. He then stated that the principal was an upstanding man and I should do better to fit in. The next day I saw him and the principal talking at school, and then today I was framed. If I had a finger printing kit I’m sure I would find the police chief’s or the principal’s prints in my locker.”

“Your dad and I talked and decided it’s best to let you ride out your suspension. We’ll only fight charges if they come against you and would impact your record. It’s best to just lie low.”

Brant arrived a short time later and then my dad came home a little early from work. We all sat in the living room together.

“Mandy already has pictures posted of you.”

“I’m not surprised. This is my entire fault. I should have just been quiet and avoided people like Mandy.”

My dad’s temper had greatly reduced. I know he was struggling believing me. “When you were cleaning the principal’s car, how did you know the packet you found contained meth?”

“I’m in high school, dad. The stoner groups always have something they are trying to pawn off on people. I’ve seen it before but I’ve never done any drugs, alcohol, or smoked. You have to believe me.”

Brant stood up for me. “Mr. and Mrs. Stone, I know Piper was framed. Mandy has had it out for Piper ever since our first day of school. I spoke with Piper’s chemistry partner today and he confirmed it was Mandy that dropped some chemical into their beaker setting off the alarms. I was there when the eagle mascot attacked Piper. She did everything possible to avoid hurting him while protecting herself. It wasn’t a fight. Piper’s Facebook page was created on Sunday at the same time we were here playing with Jonathan.”

Piper’s dad shook his head sadly. “We should have believed you, Piper. I’m calling the DMV and making sure you’re still scheduled for your test on Saturday.”

***

Brant sat on my bed next to me and I held his hand. “Thanks for defending me today. You really spoke with Nathan, my chemistry partner?”

“I did. Boy does he have a crush on you. I wanted to make sure we had witnesses lined up if we need to fight this.”

“Thank you. I have an idea though.”

“You’re not going to break into the school are you?”

“Of course I am.”

“I’ll go with you.”

“I don’t want you to get into trouble.”

“I appreciate your concern, but I’m doing this with you. Why don’t we meet at the grassy knoll at ten?”

***

“Is that what you’re wearing?”

I was wearing the most spy-like outfit I could put together; a black blouse, black skirt, and black tights. “You’re talking to a girl with only one pair of pants.”

“It’s sort of sexy. You got out of the house without being seen?”

“It was easy.”

“He’s here.” The red Tiburon was plainly visible in the school parking lot.

“I’m thinking Harrelson has a lab somewhere in the school basement. I managed to get the floorplans and the south entrance should be the best door to enter and get downstairs from. My camera is set for no flash in case we find anything.”

“All right, let’s go.”

Keeping to the shadows and avoiding the school security cameras, we stealthily made our way to the south door.

“I think you need more practice, Brant.”

“I did the last one in Italy.”

“Sit back and watch a pro.” I fumbled for a few minutes with the lock until it finally released and we snuck inside.

“That took a long time.”

“I’m working with hair pins not a lock picking set. We need to go down the stairs.” We stayed close to each other. So close that Brant had his hand on my butt and it was starting to turn me on. We heard some noises up ahead and I spun around and kissed Brant to keep Brant from talking. My lips lightly brushed his neck as I whispered into his ear. “Movement up ahead.” He nodded slightly and pulled me closer to him and smiled knowing what he was doing to me.

Peering around the corner a door separated us from a larger room. There was a small glass pane in the door and we could see light and movement coming from the other room. Opting for my phone video I began recording as we crept up to the window. My screen was dimmed significantly to not attract attention but we could still see what was going on with the phone camera lens just above the edge of the window. The police chief and principal Harrelson were together. Clearly they had some kind of meth lab built and various bottles of chemicals were on the table behind them. The principal gave a small bag of meth to the chief.

“There’s a volleyball tournament here on Saturday. I’ll meet you in the parking lot with the rest of the shipment. The extra cars will make the handoff less conspicuous.”

Dropping back down and out of sight we retreated quietly out of the school and back to the grassy knoll.

“We couldn’t have timed it better. I’ll send this to the FBI tonight.”

“Are you going to show it to your parents?”

“I’d like to, but no. They would have a heart attack thinking I slipped out at night and broke into the school.”

“Probably for the best. I’ll see you tomorrow after school.” Turning to go I felt his hand on my arm. “Just one more thing…” He kissed me passionately and I all but melted into his embrace.

“Can we get married tomorrow?”

“I think we need to wait at least until after high school.”

“This is going to be a long year. You know we’re both adults, right?”

“Suddenly you’re all ready to jump into bed?”

“Are you going to lie to me and tell me you’re not?”

“I’m pleading the fifth.”

“You would. See you tomorrow, handsome.”

***

The next day was a little hard for me. The FBI responded that they had already had an open case against the principal but the video I took was the hard evidence they needed to push forward. I was greatly pleased about that but I was sad I couldn’t be at the football game to watch Brant play. I did manage to convince mom and dad that I would go no closer than the grassy knoll as my suspension was to keep me away from the school grounds.

So I sat with my brother’s cheap binoculars watching the game from a distance. My only solace was that being young and fit, I had a teenager’s metabolism and I had a nice bag of chips with me to munch on.

Carver lost the game this time but Brant played well. I saw Mandy making another play for Brant but he ignored her completely. Now that I was out of the way the little tramp was trying to take him away from me. Brant waved at me and pointed to his wrist. That was a sign that he would join me shortly.

When Brant arrived he swept me into his arms. “How’s my sexy spy doing?”

“Not bad. I hate it that I’m not down there on the field with you. The FBI is on the case. I hope they’re watching tomorrow.”

“You take your driver’s test tomorrow?”

“You think I’ll pass?”

“You might need a little more practice. You did a lot of damage to our Maserati last time.”

Ignoring that last statement I changed the topic. “Who was playing our mascot?”

“He’s not very good. They put Nathan from your chemistry class in the suit.”

“I’m easily replaced.”

“Not by me. Mandy is pushing to have your name expunged from the ballot. I suspect the only way she would win is if she’s the only one running. Surprisingly, you’re still neck and neck with her in the polls. The stoners love you.”

“Wonderful. I had a lot of time to think today.”

“What about?”

“I wondered what I’d do if we found the chaos machine.”

“I know what I’d do, but tell me what you would do.”

“There’s no guarantee we would ever get back to who we were. We could wind up as chimpanzees in a zoo. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m happy with my new life. Not the being framed every other day part, but I’m very happy being Piper and I’m very glad you’re with me.”

“I came to the same conclusion a week ago. I have something for you.”

Brant got down on one knee and I immediately flushed with warmth. “This isn’t a proposal, Piper. I bought you a promise ring. It’s my promise to you that I’ll keep myself for you and that as soon as possible we’ll begin our lives together.”

Pulling Brant’s arms I got him to stand so I could kiss him. The day hadn’t turned out so bad after all.

***

It was a warm day as I sat in my parent’s Jetta. The driving examiner was sitting in the passenger seat and appeared to be a real nervous type. It made me wonder why he would choose this type of career or perhaps it was this career that made him nervous.

“Don’t be anxious, Piper. I’ll be keeping notes on my clipboard. It’s your job to focus on the road and everything around you. We will leave the parking lot, drive downtown, and then we’ll head towards the school for parallel parking before heading back here. Any questions?”

“Nope.”

“Go ahead then, start out slowly.”

I was very cautious and meticulous in my driving, keeping both hands on the wheel as much as possible. So far the test was a breeze but as we got closer to the school I became a little distracted. This was when the principal was going to hand drugs off to the police chief.

The school parking lot was very full as were the spots for parking on the street. “Go ahead and parallel park in that spot up ahead.”

“Okay.”

I pulled ahead and backed in without and difficulty whatsoever. “Why don’t you pull back out and we’ll start heading back to the motor vehicle office.”

Just as I started pulling out sirens went off everywhere. I stopped the car in case police cars were coming. Glancing into the parking lot I could see FBI had taken down the police chief. I couldn’t suppress my grin. The next thing I knew a red Hyundai Tiburon flew out of the parking lot cutting off a car that careened into the entrance and crashed. There was a frantic pounding on my window. An FBI agent held up his badge.

“I’m commandeering this vehicle. Follow that red car!” The man jumped into the back seat. “Step on it!”

Looking over at the examiner he looked like he was about to vomit. I smiled and floored it.

“He’s turning left!” It was a real tight corner so I pulled the emergency brake and floored it letting the front wheel drive pull me around the corner with the back end swinging around. “You’re closing in on him!” The Tiburon bounced heavily as it crossed some train tracks. I kept the car floored and soon we were airborne. When the car landed I pulled the emergency brake and turned hard right to get close to the back end of the Tiburon. “I’m radioing ahead.”

“I’ve got this!”

The roadway ahead was all clear and there was a corn field to my right and grass to my left. I pulled up alongside slightly and performed a perfect take out maneuver, clipping the back left of the Tiburon causing him to spin out of control and go off the side of the road. Pulling up behind him the FBI agent jumped out and took principal Harrelson into custody.

It wasn’t long before police, FBI, and news media were all over the place. Principal Harrelson just glared at me as he was put into the back of a cruiser. I smiled and waved. The FBI agent came back and formally introduced himself. “I’m agent Smith with the FBI. That was some mighty fine driving back there. What’s your name?”

“Piper Stone.”

He raised his eyebrows. “You’re the Piper Stone that sent in the video surveillance of Mr. Harrelson and the police chief?”

“That’s me.”

“Let me introduce you to someone. This is Channel Five news reporter Nelly Chambers. Nelly, this is Piper Stone. She’s a hero…”

After being interviewed Agent Smith walked me back to the Jetta. “We’ll help out with the damage done to your car.” He leaned in towards the examiner. “I think it would be a good idea to pass this young lady.” He just nodded, anxious to get out of there. I drove back to the DMV where mom and dad were waiting. They were watching the local news that had just finished playing my interview.

“We were wondering where you had got to! Dad’s already on the phone to the school board. Your name is being cleared. Did you pass?”

The tester handed me my provisional license. “Congratulations, Piper.” He turned and took a sip from a bottle that looked like ulcer medicine.

***

By the time Monday morning came around I was the talk of the school. News that I had been framed by the principal and the police chief and how I took down Mr. Harrelson had spread like wildfire and suddenly I became a household name. Mandy was seething at my newfound popularity and promptly announced the annual paintball tournament. At lunch I was eating with Brant when several students came to sit with us, one was Nathan from chemistry class.

“That’s so awesome to hear about principal Harrelson. You must be real proud.”

“I’m just glad my name has been cleared and it was fun chasing him down in my car. It felt like old times.”

“You’ve done that before?”

“Sorry, I meant to say old movies.”

“Did you hear about Mandy’s paintball tournament?”

“We did.”

“Mandy’s team has won the regional championships three years in a row. Her winning really boosts her popularity with the guys. I guess they like pretty girls that can shoot. This is a small town after all. Do you think you’ll sign up for it?”

“We would need a team of five. What do you think, Brant?”

“I’m in. What about you Nathan?”

“Me? I’ve never fired a paintball gun in my life.”

“It’s all about physics. The event is on Saturday. I’m sure Piper and I can take you one day this week to get you familiar with the gun.”

I tried encouraging Nathan a little as well. “You’ve got moves. I saw you last week as our new mascot. You can do this.”

“I’ll do it. The nerds of the school need to have representation.”

“I’m in.” We looked up to see the head stoner. “I know what you’re all thinking, but I’m not like that. Most of the stoner group doesn’t do any drugs whatsoever, but they like the group because everyone else leaves us alone. I, for one, really appreciate you going up against principal Harrelson, Piper. It would be an honor to be on your team. My name is Stephen Jackson.”

Looking at Brant, he shrugged and nodded. “Okay, Stephen, you’re in. We need one more.”

“You need two girls on the team. I’m in if you’ll have me.” A tall pretty girl was looking anxiously over her shoulder. I recognized her as one of the queens and is on the cheerleading team.

“You’re Jessica, right? You’re on the cheerleading squad.”

“That’s right. Listen, I don’t have much time, but I wanted to say I’m sorry for the way you’ve been treated. I’m not like Mandy and really want to see her lose for once.”

Brant asked the obvious question. “Do you know how to shoot?”

“My father owns a gun store. So, yeah.”

“Mandy didn’t want you on her team?”

“I’m not in her inner circle so she knows almost nothing about me. Please let me be on your team.”

“You’re in. Let’s meet tomorrow after school to practice.”

Everyone dispersed leaving Brant and me alone at the table. Reaching over I took his hand in mine and I glanced at the thin copper ring on my finger and smiled. “You know we’re going to kick her ass, right?”

Brant smiled back. “You’re going to need to find something other than a skirt, which is a real shame because you’ve got great legs.”

“Maybe I could pull in a favor?”

***

Tuesday afternoon came and our teammates all met at the paintball field. I was wearing my only pair of jeans and a sweatshirt. Brant couldn’t keep his eyes off my backside. That made me smile.

“I’ve made a few calls and I think we’re going to have matching outfits on Saturday. Just in case my contact isn’t able to come through for us I guess what we’re wearing now should be fine. Let’s go over some hand signals. We want to be strategic.”

We spent thirty minutes covering tactics and Nathan and Jessica were teamed up to practice shooting. Nathan turned out to be a decent shot but because he was smaller and wiry, he was pretty quick moving from cover to cover. He reminded me a little of a rabbit. Stephen had absolutely no fear and didn’t mind the pain when he got shot. Jessica was a crack shot. We played a few rounds against some other teams for practice and we were feeling pretty confident by the time we left the field.

Saturday was the big day. The football field had been turned into a paintball arena and half the school turned out to watch. There were twelve teams in all and the tournament was a single elimination event. Meaning, if you lost a match, you were out. Mandy’s team was team number one and we were team number twelve. The way the brackets were set up, we would only go up against Mandy’s team if we made it through our three matches and made it into the final.

We sat up in the bleachers watching the first matches. All the teams had uniforms except for us. “Miss Stone?”

Turning I saw FBI Agent Smith standing behind us. “You made it!”

“I’ve got some things for your team. Mind if I stick around to watch?”

“Not at all. Thank you!”

“It’s the least we could do. Of course, if you’re wearing our uniforms, you have to win. You need to make the FBI proud.”

“We’ll do our best.”

“I’m sure you will.”

Agent Smith handed out the uniforms. These were actual FBI tactical suits, complete with the FBI arm bands. I always wanted to wear one of these, just once. When we took to the field the first time we looked really professional. Unfortunately, our team had a bit of nerves and forgot everything we tried to teach them. Nathan was shot down right away when he tripped running between cover. Stephen did an all-out assault, singe-handedly. He was mowed down by five hits before he had taken a few steps. Jessica proved to be level headed and between Brant, Jessica, and I we made a decent showing of ourselves and made it to the second round.

After our third round, our team had settled into a good rhythm and we found ourselves facing Mandy’s team in the final. The announcer called both teams up to the stage. “In our final round we have the three-time reigning regional champions, Mandy’s Minions, going up against the newly formed Carver Cliques.”

We’d chosen the name Carver Cliques as we represented various cliques within the school. Mandy, always trying to garner attention grabbed the mike in a fashion akin to WWE Smackdown. “You’re going down! Mandy’s Minions are undefeated in forty consecutive matches.” Handing the mike back to the MC she strutted over towards our team. She faced off against Jessica first. “Traitor. I’m taking you out. You’re going to be my first kill.” She then walked over to Brant. “I’m so glad I never got together with you. Look at the lowlifes you hang around with.” She then came face to face with me. “And you, you little tramp. I’ve given orders to make sure you’re the last one standing. I can’t wait to see you begging for mercy.”

We came together as a group before we took to the field. “I’m not going to give us a win or lose we’re all awesome speech. We’ve done well so far, but if this was a real life gun fight if you’re shot, you’d likely be dead. So let’s not get shot. Mandy gave us a hint as to her strategy. She wants to go after Jessica first and me last. Let’s use that to our advantage. Nathan, you’re really quick. I want you to be our rogue agent. Jump from cover to cover in a zig-zag direction. Don’t hesitate for long behind any barrier. We want them distracted. I’ll team up with Brant, and Stephen, you and Jessica pair up to cover each other.”

The team got up and started to head towards the field. “One more thing. Win or lose, you’re all awesome.” That made them laugh.

“Teams, take your positions. Ready…” The sound of an air horn filled the field.

“You know, Piper, you’ve really changed.”

“Every day I’m feeling better and better. I don’t want to go back to the way things were, Brant.” Sounds of paintball guns firing and paintballs whistled through the air close to us. Glancing over at Stephen and Jessica I signaled with two fingers and waved them to the right. Rolling around a barrier I laid out some cover fire as Nathan sprinted. Three of the Minions exposed themselves to Jessica and Stephen who took one of the opposing team out.

Brant and I rolled left and ducked behind another barrier. “I want to go back to Monte Carlo for our honeymoon.” Brant signaled one finger to the left. Lying flat I rolled around the barrier just as Brant stood up exposing himself. One of Mandy’s minions stood and took aim and I already had him in my sights. He was down before he could even squeeze the trigger. We ducked back behind the barrier just as a dozen paintballs splattered near us.

“Monte Carlo? We’d need to save up some serious cash for that. We’re not on the CIA’s dime anymore. Fiji would be cheaper for a honeymoon.” We watched Nathan sprint and dive for cover, firing as he dove. One random shot caught one of Mandy’s teammates in the shoulder. It was now five on two. I waved over to Stephen and signaled him and Jessica and Brant and I would move right and left simultaneously. A second signal to Nathan told him to move straight up the field. With my fingers I counted down three, two, one, and we all moved at the same time. We were now very close to Mandy and her last teammate’s position.

“Did you ever think we’d get a chance to start fresh like this?” Brant signaled one of Mandy’s team was on the move to the left. Jessica signaling one was moving right.

I signaled to move up and Nathan to take the Minion starting base. I counted down again and we moved as one drawing fire from Mandy and her Minion. I dove, rolled, and came to my feet firing two shots into Mandy’s last Minion. We had Mandy surrounded now. Brant and I held up a moment behind a barrier. “We both wanted a fresh start. I wonder if somehow the chaos machine read our minds. I would have never pictured I would be a woman, but now I wouldn’t want anything else. The only thing I want is you, Brant. I love you.” I signaled the team to get ready to close in.

“Be careful what you wish for. Isn’t that what they always say? I’m happy with the way things turned out. I love you too, Piper. Let’s finish this.”

I signaled once again and we all stood holding our guns fixed on Mandy’s position. “It’s over Mandy. You can surrender now if you want.”

With a roar Mandy leapt up and started shooting wildly. We each took three quick shots all hitting their mark. Mandy was covered in paint. I leaned over her and pulled off her mask, she was breathing hard. “Sorry, Mandy. That’s going to leave a mark.” I extended my hand but she slapped it out of the way, got up, and stomped off the field.

The crowd in the stands was cheering as we took to the stage. “This year’s winning team, the Carver Cliques!”

It was a great feeling as we left the stage. Agent Smith greeted us. “You all did the FBI proud. After watching you take out the principal’s car the other day and seeing your strategy on the field today, I’d say you have some tactical training but at seventeen I guess that’s not realistic. You’d all be assets if you were to join the FBI.”

“I can’t speak for anyone but myself, Agent Smith, but for me, I’m looking forward to a career that’s more family oriented.”

“Can’t blame you there. You all did great. Congratulations.”

My parents ran up and hugged me tight and congratulated the team. Even Jonathan hugged me saying I’d make a great spy. We finished the day with a BBQ for the team and family members at our house.

***

The polls were in and Mandy’s paintball loss had greatly affected her popularity. It was clear that she had little hope of winning and yet secretly I didn’t want the recognition. As it was everyone knew me by name now and walking down the hall was a challenge as everyone wanted to stop and chat.

Several boys tried to ask me out on a date, but I made it very clear I had a boyfriend. Jessica, oddly enough began seeing Stephen and Nathan had become instantly popular with some of the girls. Things were going well until Jessica caught Brant and me at the lunch table.

“I’m no longer in Mandy’s circle of friends, but I was getting changed for cheerleading practice and I overheard some of her plans. She’s going to rig the election. She said something about making up fake votes.”

Nathan then sat down. “I’m a little worried. The rumor mill has it that Mandy is talking to Hadley High School’s football team. The election is in two days and I think she’s planning something with the other school.”

Looking from Jessica to Nathan and to Brant I realized Mandy would make a great clandestine mastermind. “It’s clear Mandy isn’t one to take defeat lightly. What bothers me about all of this is that it’s not like Mandy to be careless. I believe she knew you were there Jessica and the rumors are ones I think she’s starting herself.”

Nathan looked confused. “But why?”

“Maybe she intends a trap, but that’s all right. We can outsmart her. What would Hadley High School want to do with the election?”

Brant was catching on. “I can’t see the tie at the moment but I wouldn’t put it past Mandy to have multiple plans in play.”

“Thanks for the information. Jessica and Nathan we know Mandy is out for me and Brant so perhaps its best if you two stay clear of us for a couple of days. I would hate to see you caught up in something that gets you into trouble.”

***

That evening I took one of Jonathan’s spy toys and met with Brant. We kept to the shadows and found a tree with good visibility into Mandy’s house. Pulling out Jonathan’s cheap plastic parabolic bird microphone we pointed it to Mandy’s bedroom window. Using my iPhone ear pods we both listened in. Mandy was on the phone to someone.

“…got the fake votes. Tomorrow I’ll put them into the voting box and tell … I’ve heard rumors someone might try to tamper with the votes and to suggest he put … very secure place. Yes, that’s my backup plan. If the skank wins … keep her away long enough…”

The microphone stopped working but we had what we needed. As we walked home we discussed our options.

“We have confirmation of Mandy’s plans just not the details. She has two plans in motion so Hadley High must be involved somehow. I’m just not sure how or why yet.”

“I still can’t see the connection either, Piper, unless they plan on kidnapping you. They’re still pissed about the whole mascot thing so this might play well into a motive for them to help Mandy.”

“We lay low through tomorrow. You up for some spy work tomorrow night?”

Brant grinned. “Always.”

***

The next night I met Brant on the grassy knoll.

“You’re wearing your black skirt and tights again. That’s kind of sexy.”

“The longer I stay in high school the more I miss all my spy gear. Who would have thought that we’d be on just as many missions here as we did for the CIA?”

“Where do you think we need to look?”

“I overheard Mandy talking to the vice principal today. It sounds like the school has some kind of vault. Harrelson supposedly improved the security while he was here so I have no idea how bad it will be. We head to the main office and there should be a side room in Harrelson’s old office that would be used.”

“Okay. Let’s do this.”

As before we made our way into the school from the southern entrance. There were only a few cameras in the entire school and nothing near the office. Most were located in the lunch room.

Brant’s hand was on my butt again and his closeness was turning me on. “What’s that sound?” I pulled us both down with Brant on top of me.

“I didn’t hear anything.” I grinned up at him and kissed him. “Why you little minx.”

“I kind of like this position.” I nibbled his ear as he kissed me back passionately.

“Great. Now I can barely walk again.”

“You started it.”

“How did I start it?”

Taking his hand I moved it to my butt. “This is what you were doing.”

“I was just letting you know where I was.”

“That’s what they all say.”

Kissing him once again we reluctantly extracted ourselves and made our way to the main office. The principal’s door was locked but that was easy to get through. The second door had two locks but they were pretty easy to open as well. Brant pulled the door open and was about to step inside.

“Wait!”

Moving back into the main office area I grabbed a can of hair spray that Lois the secretary must use. Spraying into the room with the voting box I slumped back against the wall. “You’ve got to be kidding me.” Red lines danced back and forth across the small room.

“What school has laser alarms?”

“A school where the principal is dealing meth.”

“The lines are spaced out. You’re smaller than me. I think you can make it. It’s just like the drug lord’s place in Belize.”

“I’ve got a flappy skirt on and boobs.”

“And because of you I’ve got a flag pole attached to my body.”

“Fine. I’ll take off my skirt.” Standing I unzipped my skirt and let it fall to the ground. My black nylons covered me anyways but I still caught Brant with the glassy-eyed look. “Hey, you. Eyes up here. You need to spray so I can see the lasers.”

“Mmhmmm.”

The smell of the hair spray was obnoxious as I stepped over the first laser, ducked and slid under the next. This is kind of fun especially with this flexible body I have. It took about a minute to reach the box, unlock it, pull the few hundred votes Mandy had stuck inside out, and put them into a bag which I slid under the lasers back to Brant. Relocking the box I moved cautiously back through the lasers.

Brant was there to pull me into his arms. “You look so hot in those tights.”

I rubbed myself up against him and then turned and slipped my skirt back on. I knew I’d have to relieve myself later, but it was fun watching the turmoil on Brant’s face. “Did you know you made me feel the same way? The Moscow. God I loved watching you do the Moscow.”

“I knew what it did to you. That’s why I always liked doing it. Let’s get out of here.”

***

Voting day had arrived and Mandy and I had to give final speeches before the school. Mandy’s was all about one promise or another and more funding for the cheerleading squad. When it was my turn I was a little nervous.

“Go for it, Piper!” Some people yelled from the crowd. Brant gave me a thumbs-up.

“I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since I first arrived here. Coming to a new high school is never an easy thing. I never knew if I’d fit in anywhere. I’m not a hip hopper or a nerd. I’m not on the cheerleading squad. I’m not an Anime groupie or a foreign exchange student. I’m not even the school mascot anymore. I’ve struggled finding a place and yet I feel more connected to all of you than I ever would have thought possible. I’ll only make one promise, and that is to represent all of you. I care about Stephen Jackson, Nathan Elliot, Jessica Whalen, and Brant Daniels not because they belong to cliques, but because they’re my friends. Together we can choose to make this school great. It takes all of us working together. My vote is with you all.”

It was a rousing round of applause that accompanied me off the stage. The vice principal announced voting had begun.

***

I had few expectations coming into school with Brant the next day. The vote was by now counted and the vice principal would announce the results first thing today. Nathan was out front of the school in the mascot outfit dancing around. I smiled watching him. That was until a gray van pulled up and two large guys jumped out, each grabbing an end of me and threw me into the van. They squealed off as I heard Brant running, screaming, and pounding on the side of the van.

Looking around the van I knew immediately what was going on. I’d finally put it all together. One of the rules of the election was that if the winner was not available at the time of the announcement the election was forfeit to the person with the second most votes. This was Mandy’s backup plan. The vice principal was to announce the results at nine. It was seven twenty now. Hadley High School was only on the other side of town so it wasn’t a long trip. I glared at the Hadley football players in the van with me.

“She’s much prettier in person. Maybe we’ll let you go if you give us what we want.”

“You do realize this is kidnapping?”

“Everyone in town knows there is a school rivalry. No one would hold us accountable for it.”

“I’m warning you now, that if you touch me, you’ll wind up with a black eye.”

“She’s feisty. I like that.”

He went to reach for me and I batted his hand away. I’d been in bad situations before, but never as a smaller female. These guys were large. I was getting a little frightened, but I kept my composure. Brant will come. I know it. “Last warning. Next time you’ll get a black eye.”

The van pulled to a stop and both the guys pounced on me, dragging me from the van. They put a replica of the mighty opossum mascot head on me and tied me to a seat in the middle of their schools furnace room. They left for about forty or fifty minutes. I tried to get free but the snap ties they used were not loose enough for me to twist out of.

“We’re recording.”

Looking around I saw the eagle mascot dancing around me in a taunting way.

“Is the Gatorade ready?”

“Yes.”

“Get ready to pour it over her.”

The door to the room burst open and I heard what sounded like three air rifles and a lot of yelling. My opossum head was removed and I saw Brant with Jessica, Nathan, and Stephen all with paintball guns.

“My heroes!”

Nathan stood proudly as he held the paintball gun pointed at one of the Hadley football players. My hands were cut free and I turned and kissed Brant not caring who else was in the room.

“May I?”

Taking Brant’s paintball gun I pointed it at the guy that had tried to grab me earlier. I pressed the muzzle into his groin. “By all rights, I should shoot you.” His eyes went wide but I gave the gun back to Brant.

Brant put his hand on the small of my back and led me out of the room. “We’re not done yet. They posted a football player guard on the only remaining exit. They saw us enter and locked the other door.”

“The Moscow?”

Brant grinned. “The Moscow.”

Nathan looked bewildered. “What’s the Moscow?”

I unbuttoned the top button on my dress exposing my cleavage. Nathan and Stephen were staring but Brant coughed and they looked away. Brant had the others hide as I went and knocked on the door. The large football player opened it. “Hey, I’m a little lost. Can you show me to the cafeteria?” His eyes were riveted on me as four paintballs exploded across the chest.

He was so stunned and startled that we all exited the building before he could recover.

“That was awesome!” Nathan was a ball of excitement.

“What time is it?”

“Eight forty.”

“Can we make it back to school by nine?”

Nathan smiled. “Let me introduce you to the Nathanwagon.”

His vehicle looked like something someone would use during a zombie apocalypse. We all piled in and Nathan drove rapidly back across town.

“You guys are the best.”

Brant looked concerned. “Did they hurt you?”

“No, but it was a little frightening. This was Mandy’s backup plan all along. By having me kidnapped I wouldn’t be able to accept the nomination if I won.”

We pulled up at five minutes to nine. Running down the hallways we slid around the corners trying to get to the auditorium. We could hear the vice principal talking to the school. There was only one catch; Mandy had a few football players stationed in front of the doors. Jessica pulled us aside.

“There’s another way in. Follow me.” We raced after Jessica who went up the stairs and opened a small door. “This is the access to the stage lights.”

“…the winner is, Piper Stone!” There were cheers everywhere. “Piper? Are you here to accept the nomination?”

“There’s no way down to the stage!”

Looking around I spotted something. “Yes there is…”

Mandy took to the stage. “Mr. vice president, if Piper is not here to accept, then I’m afraid the rules are quite clear.” The vice president nodded. Mandy had a speech all prepared.

“Ready…”

I swung along the rope entering from stage right. My dress fluttered in the wind. I let go as my feet grazed the floor center stage, I slid, rolled, and landed on my feet. Mandy scowled. The crowd cheered wildly.

“Mr. vice president and the students of Carver High School, I accept your nomination for class president.”

Mandy stormed off stage as I gave my acceptance speech.

***

I’ve never been the center of attention before, but I could barely get a word in with all the people coming up to congratulate me. Brant and I squeezed in a few minutes together before classes started again.

“I have something for you, Piper.”

We had been walking down the crowded halls when Brant stopped me. Mandy was not too far away yanking on her locker. With a final heaving pull her locker flew open and hundreds of Mandy votes spilled out onto the floor. People nearby picked them up. “You were cheating!” They started to cry out.

Over the next few days the Hadley football team was questioned and Mandy’s involvement in my abduction came to light. She confessed to everything. The vice principal removed her from the cheerleading squad but because I didn’t want to press any charges, that was the limit of her punishment. The cheerleading squad came to me and invited me to be head cheerleader, which I accepted on one condition.

“Hello, Mandy.”

“Did you come to gloat over your victory?”

“No. I admit I went through some pretty rough days that were a direct result of your being spiteful towards me, but I want you to know I don’t hold any ill will towards you.”

“I’ve lost everything since you came here.” Mandy started tearing up.

“Mandy, you’re a beautiful, intelligent, and very talented young woman. You have your whole life ahead of you.”

“For what it’s worth, I’m sorry.”

“I’m glad to hear you say that. We have an opening on the cheerleading squad. I want you to have it.”

“But I heard you took the head cheerleader spot.”

“I did, on one condition. That you stay on the squad. You’re the best we’ve got. The entire squad wanted you to know that you’d be welcome.”

Mandy looked down. “You were so much better than the other girls, but I chose to try and humiliate you and yet you come here and invite me back. I don’t deserve it.”

“Mandy, we may never be the best of friends, but I’d rather have you as a friend than an enemy. What do you say?” I extended my hand and she took it.

“Thank you.”

“I’ve got one more thing to ask you. The paintball regionals are coming up and we’re up against Hadley. Nathan can’t make it. Would you join our team and help us kick their asses?”

Mandy smiled. It felt good to get this all behind me.

***

Brant unfurled the blanket and laid down on it. He patted his hand on a spot next to him. The weather had cooled significantly but having a picnic on a beautiful Saturday with Brant, even if I had to wear a heavy coat, was still enjoyable. I laid myself down and snuggled into his arms.

“You know, Piper, my life as Tatiana is feeling more and more like a distant memory.”

“Mine as Cade is as well, but I’m not sad about that at all. We truly do have our fresh start. I have a family that loves me, a future career full of fun and excitement, and a wedding to plan. That is after you get around to proposing to me.”

“I’ve already promised. You know my parents can’t say enough good things about you. They love you like a daughter already. Let’s get through the school year and then we’ll make it official.”

“You honestly think you can wait that long?”

“I’ll wait forever for you, Piper Isabella Stone.”

Smiling I entwined my fingers with Brant’s. “I like the sound of Piper Daniels. Kiss me, my love.”

***

***

I enjoy writing stories like these and hope that you also enjoy reading them. Please take a moment and leave a comment. Thank you. Case Brooke/Want2BaGirl



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