Blessings Part 3

July 15th, 2025

Anthony drove to Winnisimmet and introduced Mary and her son Tommy to Rose and Sydney. The two girls looked at Mary then at Anthony and were about to say something, but thought better of it and led the scared Tommy inside so the duo could get to work. Tommy was afraid, but some soothing words from Sydney got him to relax and sit down on the floor to play with the few toys that he had while they cleaned the house.

In Anthony's car, Mary smiled at the sight of Rose growing up to be so beautiful, completely different from the rambunctious and annoying tomboy that she had known years before. She was the spitting image of her mother, while Anthony was his father's son. Rose being pregnant only made her look all the more beautiful as she had that subtle motherly glow that Mary couldn't help but notice on her as she looked at Tommy getting out of the car.

Anthony wisely told her "she's mom's daughter. She's even bigger in the chest than mom, but that's more likely dad's side of the family leeching in. You know I know this thanks to you making me dress as a girl a few times for making sexist jokes about you and bras. I remembered her bra size and from washing Rose's bras for her and I know she's a full cup larger than mom. I think that she will be almost as big as grandma when she's ready to give birth, I hope she enjoys the downside of swollen breasts."

Mary grinned as he caught a quick glimpse at her chest, it was her own growth that was behind that big reminder of their past. She did offer a calming "she's beautiful now, but she's going to be voluptuous and sexy after. I wish I had her figure, but with my mother's side of the family we never got big."

Sydney wasn't mentioned, but Anthony did tell her "yes, she is transgender. She's going to take good care of Tommy and will probably have visitors to ensure they aren't in over their heads. That's if their friends don't get forced to join the girls, although only two are able to get pregnant from their fiances."

He cut her off and explained "there's one lesbian couple, two transgender couples one of which is a post-op female/male couple, and the last two are 'normal' couples. All but one have siblings so won't do anything even if they are able to. I expect there to be at least two couples there just to ensure they have company and give them a break. They are all experienced with kids Tommy's age."

He was prophetic as Sydney received a phone call from her aunt telling her that her cousins were on the way to help her. She didn't know how they knew, but she couldn't refuse the help. Ashley Byrne-Toro was the only one who had a younger brother among them and he never went anywhere without his beloved Rosalind Porter. Rosalind had a way with little kids that got them to listen to her and do what she asked of them even if they didn't want to do it.

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Over in Boston, Mary was dropped off and was immediately told by the assistant manager that she was fired. When she asked why, she was told "you aren't what we want. I don't care if you are the boss's friend's girlfriend, you cut out early and left us short-staffed. It's your own fault for getting knocked up. Don't bother suing, you don't have any way of getting a lawyer. It's your word against mine."

She was in tears and turned to leave but was stopped by someone behind her who then led back inside. The man stood tall and had an angry look on his face, which very few got to see and those who saw it knew they were in extreme danger. It was the angry face of the infamous John Finn.

In a booming voice, John asked "let me get this straight. You, the assistant manager and not the newly hired manager of this restaurant who called you not 15 minutes ago, have chosen to fire this young lady due to being given the night off after working an unscheduled double shift by none other than your own boss- the owner? And you have the balls to blame her four-year-old son for it?"

The man growled "who the hell do you think you are waltzing in here!" John smirked, then let loose an angry "I'm the co-owner of this restaurant and after talking with my nephew, Mr. Patrick Peterson, am taking temporary control until further notice. I'd like to know just who you think you are in your firing someone that you have no right to fire. And I'd like to know just what you are doing in this office as you have no right to be here at all- you work tonight!"

John nodded to someone outside who walked in and explained to the assistant manager "Carl Leonard is the only non-owner allowed in here. You have no reason to be in here and have no right to even have access to that desk. John, I think we might have found out why this restaurant is hemorrhaging money. The duo have been keeping two sets of books and lying to the owners about profits. I do believe that we will need to talk with the police about this matter."

John grinned and told the man "don't leave town. Expect visits from the state and IRS. You can't fool us and we will tear apart your entire life trying to find where you hid the money that you stole. Patrick and I were on to you two from the moment we bought this place, you stole from the wrong people."

Valerie Finn, John's wife and the legal counsel for Patrick, gave him a fear-inducing smile and added "if you try to hire muscle, it won't work. Our name is one that nobody will touch. Same goes with the local and state police, neither will investigate unless it's an actual confirmed crime and not a fishing expedition as we have deep roots in both. Save your money, you'll need it."

She led the man out and told the staff that he was fired and not allowed inside under any circumstances and if he return they were to call the police. Turning to Mary, Valerie sat her down and explained to her "we can't use you as a waitress anymore. I am sorry, but with a young son and no home we feel that you need a different job. My sister will be arranging for a job at her company for you. I know you and Anthony had a thing in the past, but this is something that we are doing as single-mothers. Believe it or not, we see too much of us in you and want to help you."

John didn't dare say anything, while Mary had to fight tears. Valerie led her away while John talked to the new manager to find a replacement who could handle the job and wasn't connected to the former management team It was going to take a while to find an assistant who could be trusted, but they could cope at the restaurant as it was slow and he himself would act when needed.

At Peterson Manufacturing, Mary was led up to the executive suite where Valerie introduced her to the assembled ladies. Lilly Peterson, Patrick's dutiful mother and the chairwoman of the company, was at the center with her longtime friend Beverly Bollinger by her side. Off to the right was Peterson COO Lindsay Reagan, with Valerie taking her place beside Lindsay. It was essentially the core of the "single mothers club" who could be there on short notice, with each having a reason to see Mary.

Valerie asked about her life since graduating, knowing that Mary's story needed to be told as she had a lot to say and needed to get it off of her chest soon. She wasn't sure if she should tell them, so Valerie insisted "it's nothing we haven't heard before and experienced ourselves. All of us were in your shoes and know the struggles. We were single parents, though only Lilly has remained so."

Sighing, she explained "during senior year, I was told by my parents that I was being groomed to marry dad's boss's son. He was a total creep who slept with any woman he could get his hands on and was the suspect in multiple rapes around Pittsfield. I refused to marry him, I wanted to marry Anthony instead. Dad told me to dump Anthony or he'd ensure that Anthony's family had an 'accident'. I dumped him so he could be safe, but dad still tried to have his parents killed just to show who was boss. I guess he's the reason they died later on, they were influential enough to get the right people to look the other way."

She didn't see the others writing notes, she continued "I stayed with him until I caught him in bed with a 14-year-old girl two years later. I called the police and he was arrested, but i was cut off by his family and forced to live off of my settlement. They claimed I set him up, I had to agree to it or they'd show I was a liar. I was forced to go east to get away from the shame and lived in Brockton for a long time, working at a department store while living with roommates. I met and married a nice guy, who then ran off with his girlfriend when I caught them in bed together. I was pregnant with Tommy then, he said that he'd support me until his girlfriend cut him off. That lasted a year. I moved on to Boston to live there but struggled to find work who would let me work around Tommy's needs. The restaurant was good to me until Carl took over. He has made my life miserable ever since, and when Mr. Peterson bought it things got worse. Patrick doesn't know how much Carl skimmed, but all of us know that he stole about half of what the restaurant earned each night."

Lilly told her that it was alright to tell the truth, she wasn't going to get in trouble. Mary added "Tommy was babysat by our neighbor but she started to get sick. She tried to hide it but it's terminal. I know she claims she is alright but last night she got news that she was going to die in two months. I begged Carl to let me go early but he refused. He was trying to get rid of me, it's why I got in trouble today. He knows that I know all about his fraud and doesn't want to be caught. All of us knew they are doing that, it's why the former owner sold the restaurant- Carl stole all of the profits."

Lilly asked about her family. Mary shook her head and confessed "dad disowned me and gave all of the money I would have inherited to my younger brother. His family is rich, but struggle to make money on their own. They spread out, one of my uncles went east and opened a chain of gyms until he was forced to sell them after he divorced his wife. He ended up in prison but nobody knows why."

All eyes turned to Beverley who asked "William Riley, Sr.?" Mary blush, shooting back "he's my uncle." The whole room laughed while Beverley grinned and explained "well I'll be damned. I'm your aunt...or rather your former aunt. Your uncle was sent to prison for assaulting our son and then fraud as I found that he had hid money from his gyms before we divorced. He lied to the state and IRS and got nailed with both tax evasion and fraud sentences. He even lost everything as he tried to sell everything he had to me to avoid losing his shirt to them, he made our son a multimillionaire in the process."

Mary was too stunned to speak. Beverley shook her head and told her affectionately "my husband and I will be happy to house you until you get back on your feet. I may not be your aunt anymore, but I am the closest that you have to family. Plus as much as he would feel obligated to help you, your cousin Will is too overwhelmed by my grandchildren. He just had to have two before they graduated college, but we love Simon and Little Lilly anyway."

Mary looked down in shame and declined, explaining "Anthony offered to let us stay and is moving us to Winnisimmet this weekend. I don't think it's a good idea to disrespect his offer by accepting another." All of the ladies shared a smile, it was more than just feeling obligated to stay with Anthony but she was too afraid to admit it to herself that there was more to their relationship.

Valerie asked "have you had any contact with your ex-husband?" Mary shook her head, telling her "he sent me divorce papers and gave me full custody of Tommy. His girlfriend doesn't want him to have anything to do with Tommy and she is strict regarding his contact with others. She wants him and him alone, any other girl's kids are to be forgotten about. She's a dominatrix by trade, I guess I wasn't kinky enough for him but I am just glad that Tommy doesn't need to know about that side of him."

The ladies laughed at that, while Valerie was pleased that there were no issues for her in that area. The little boy would have a father-figure and if the winds of fate blew true- Anthony was that father. It was too fitting that he'd fall into Anthony's life when his feelings about family and children were strongest.

Finally, Lilly explained to Mary "we have an opening for a secretary in our HR department. Our former secretary was grossly overqualified for her position and is being moved to a position that she is best at. She is now the VP of HR and is overhauling the division and is looking for people that she can trust. I feel that you are able to perform the job as you have shown the ability just from my son's observations. He would have asked you to be hired as you are too good to work as a waitress. I'm heading him off before he begs me, he's too old to do that anymore. Patrick has observed your ability to work phones, juggle orders, and get things moving in a way that fits this job perfectly. It's a salaried position, and comes with a few perks. We have a strong relationship with my sister's preschool and are able to work around issues that arise regarding kids. As you are going to live in Winnisimmet and Tommy is able to go to pre-kindergarten, things will be even easier on you thanks to Lindsay's husband, Carmen Carter, or Katie Eliza- all of whom live in the neighborhood and whose kids are attending the same school."

Valerie further added "this isn't a handout, this is a step up. We understand you better than you believe. We are all former single parents. We know how hard it is to juggle childcare and work. Lord knows, if I didn't have my parents to help I'd have lost my own son to the state immediately after birth. We want to help you, you are special to Anthony and as a friend of Patrick's you are thus special to us."

The ladies went over her job and what she'd be required to do. Mary blushed as Valerie told her "it's not much different than your job at the front desk at the gym your uncle made you work at. You answer the phone, direct calls to the proper people, and log all complaints. Your work is the most important, it's the best way of showing that someone actually lodged a complaint and nothing was done. HR has to follow the rules and investigate, we won't accept any sweeping under the rug of incidents."

Lindsay led her to the HR department and had he shadow her colleagues. Right away Mary noticed that certain complaints were ignored while others were altered. It was troubling and she asked about it.

She received a look of contempt while her colleague stated "we have a bunch of whiners who complain about people saying things to them. This is a workplace, if they can't hack it they need to leave. We are supposed to only forward complaints against certain people and only to our supervisor, he will decide to do something or not. Don't go running to anyone about this, the boss will ensure you never work at any office again. That's if he doesn't fire you outright."

Lindsay cleared her voice and loudly stated "thank you for that, I believe you are relieved of duty. I am sure legal will want to know why you have refused to follow proper procedure that I personally set up to deal with issues. Save your excuses, nobody except myself can alter those orders."

Security led the woman out while Lindsay entered the supervisor's office. Shouting could be heard, the two were going at it loud and with a lot of vitriol. Finally, Lindsay exited and told Mary "you are our temporary HR department. I am sorry for dumping so much responsibility on you, but things were a lot worse than we believed and the entire department is in a state of flux. You are the only one that I can trust to do the job while we hire replacements."

Mary took calls and made reports throughout the day, with Lindsay having a trusted secretary from one of the other departments takeover for Mary while she dealt with the incidents. She had a knack for her job and was doing well in conflict resolution, showing that she was grossly overqualified for her job as a secretary. Lindsay smiled, Mary was going to end up being the supervisor who oversaw incidents and was the middleman between the secretary and the HR director.

During lunch, Anthony sought Mary out and ate with her and Patrick at the restaurant. They were with Lilly and Valerie, with the two mothers doing their best to not say anything about Mary and Anthony or the couple's endless dancing around their feelings. It was cute, with Patrick getting looks that said to him "this is what you looked like just before you married your wife."

After lunch, Lilly asked Mary about her feelings for Anthony. She blushed deeply and tried to escape the question, but finally admitted "he's the same man I knew in school. I'm shocked that he didn't find a woman to marry but he was busy being the big brother Rose needed. I don't know if he is a fool for not finding love or the kindest soul for sacrificing his life for hers."

Nothing more was said about her obvious crush, it was a precarious situation and there was Tommy to deal with as he would be first and foremost for Mary. Mary did steal some glances at Anthony as he and Patrick walked away, showing she loved him despite her timidity. Mary would come around to the couple getting together, it would only take a matter of time to do so.

The rest of the day was spent talking with people in her office while Lindsay sent a memo that Mary is the acting HR director. She was unknown so people didn't know how to react to her, which was what was needed. She couldn't be extorted or exploited, nor could her orders be ignored by anyone without it being detrimental to the welfare of their careers.

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Over at Rose and Sydney's house, Tommy spent the morning playing with his toys with Ashley and Rosalind before he explored the neighborhood with the four. He was quiet and didn't say much all day, only holding Rose's hand as they walked and barely touched his lunch when they returned home. After lunch, the girls brought him to visit Sydney's grandmother and cousins at the Byrne-Torro home.

Tommy napped in Cynthia Byrne's lap while the girls ate their own lunch and relaxed, not getting the chance to speak much but neither really wanting to say anything as the elderly woman gave them a knowing look that spoke volumes about the girls and how they were doing so far. They were about to make her a great-grandmother years before she had thought would happen, but it was forgivable given Sydney's fragile emotional state. She was proud that they weren't running from their responsibilities and made their marriage mean more.

Tommy stirred after an hour and walked with the girls as they visited friends' houses nearby. Tommy got to play in the backyard as the girls talked with their friends Diego Vincent and Polly Taylor, with the two teens holding off several others who came by to see what was going on and who the new boy was. Quick texting led to nods from all of them, with only the youngest kids upset at not being able to go out and meet the new boy.

He mostly just sat with the four on the back porch, but that changed when Polly found out that she was being co-opted to babysit her nephew Antonio and niece Dorothy Peterson while their mother went to a doctor's appointment. The two ran outside and immediately hugged Tommy, pulling him to play and calling out to another boy next door. Tommy was caught in their wake as he was pulled along to play with the three as Rose and Sydney encouraged him to play so he had something to do.

After a bit, Dorothy came out with Tommy as the boys opted to play with cars and trucks while Tommy wasn't interested. She had her dolls with her so took him up to a playroom so they'd play with her dolls and do something instead of sitting with the older people. The two played quietly, with Tommy having fun with the energetic and happy Dorothy.

When that got boring, Dorothy grabbed her dresses and started to give Tommy some to put on so they could play pretend. He didn't flinch at the bright pink dress, even grabbing the tiara that came with it and pretending to be a princess to Dorothy's fairy. He loved every minute of it, Dorothy never gave him a second thought as he did what he wanted as a girl and made their time fun.

Tommy saw what he looked like in the dress and loved it. He preened in front of the mirror and looked at the image of a girl in front of him. Dorothy giggled and brushed out his long hair so that it looked a bit like her hair but with less length yet still feminine.

Tommy was mesmerized by the image. He couldn't stop seeing a girl in front of him, as if something in his mind finally burst open and the real him was appearing. He wanted to cry at seeing who he really was, but he didn't want to show that he was less than a male to Dorothy.

Dorothy hugged him, sensing that he needed one and knowing how much dressing as a girl can make a boy feel bad. She was smart for only four-years-old, she took after her mother in so many ways despite not being biologically related to her. She loved to play dress-up with her cousins and second-cousins and knew that not all boys liked to dress but the way he played with her gave her the impression that he may like dressing-up with her.

The two kept playing and enjoyed their time together and spent two hours enjoying the various dresses as they switched between roles, with Tommy always taking on a princess role. Eventually they wore out and fell asleep on the floor, huddled together as they hugged one of Dorothy's dolls. They were not noticed until Anthony and Mary appeared, with Rose and Polly rushing upstairs to get Tommy and see if they were alright. What they saw shocked them and caused the two to go back downstairs and ensure that Mary wasn't upset at Tommy wearing one of Dorothy's dresses.

Sensing something was the matter Mary asked what was going on with Tommy, getting a timid "he's on the floor asleep with Dorothy. I don't want you to be upset, but he's wearing one of her princess dresses and hugging her doll tightly. It's not unusual for Dorothy to get the boys to dress with her, but the way he is dressed, his hair styled, and hugging the doll it's something more."

All looked at Sydney who shrugged, explaining "it could be anything. He's bored and she has a way of making you do what she wants without knowing it. All of the boys have done that, Antonio does it all of the time at home. He isn't used to her ways and could be acting nice to her since he's new to her."

Mary went upstairs to awaken Tommy. Polly had to calm Dorothy, who knew she would have to tell her why she made Tommy dress in the outfits after he left. Tommy barely moved, he grabbed onto Mary and had to be carried down to the car still in the dress with Anthony unable to say anything as it was as if he was seeing a ghost from the past in the way he looked in the dress.

Inside the car, he confessed to Mary "he looks like you when we were in preschool. Same hair, same eyes, same nose, even same sleep hug." She looked at him and smiled, it brought back forgotten bits of their past that she had enjoyed and gave her hope that Tommy could do better than she had done in life.

Up in Lawrence, Tommy awoke in his bed and immediately grew scared. He took off his dress and tiara and tried to hide them, only to be called by Mary to come out for dinner. He reluctantly walked over, he knew he couldn't get away without explaining why he was dressed like a girl now.

The two didn't make light of his dress, letting him eat his dinner then watch TV while the two packed boxes for the move that weekend. His choice of shows was a surprise to Anthony, with him telling the oblivious Mary "most boys his age don't watch 'Angelina Mouse'. Patrick complains about Dorothy and his niece Lilly being hooked on that show while his son and nephew Simon watch 'Top Paw'."

Mary watched Tommy and didn't see anything odd, Anthony shook his head and offered a consoling "it is probable that he just isn't used to other kids and he did what Dorothy wanted to do because he didn't know most boys don't do that willingly. The boys do it, but they also force her to do what they want to do afterward. You know how Rose was with her friends, and how I was with you."

Mary blushed at that, with Anthony nodded and adding "high heels, your mom's dress, and lipstick. It was one of the few times we had all four of our parents freaking out. Mom and dad were upset that you were in trouble with your parents, dad forced them to back down from hurting you and making us stay away from one another. They conveniently ignored that you had on dad's best suit and cologne."

She started to see what he was getting at, it was actually a funny time and she did goad him into doing it as she wanted to have some fun acting like a boy. He did it willingly and enjoyed the fun of doing it, he had no intention of being a woman and was only trying to kill time. It was likely something that she should have expected, kids did that kind of thing all of the time growing up especially at their age.

Anthony looked over at the boy who was laying on the carpet, quietly watching the TV. He softly asked her "would it be so bad if this wasn't a one-time thing and it was something more? Sydney once told me that she started feeling that she was in the wrong body at the same age."

Mary had to think about that. The way Tommy was laying made his hair frame his face just right, it was almost like she was looking at a little girl instead of her son. She struggled with the image, her son was there but it could easily be her daughter with the only way of knowing being in Tommy's underwear.

Sighing, she confessed "I love him no matter what he is inside. I never want him to be hurt but I don't want him to endure pain and suffering because I made the choice to stop him from being himself. Looking at him laying that, I just can't stop seeing a little girl laying there. It's as if he's my daughter instead of my son. If he is a girl inside I'll love her with all of my heart. I just don't know what to do, I can't hurt Tommy. He's been through so much already."

She was in tears, causing Anthony to hug her deeply while she wept into his shoulder. He whispered to her a calming "you are a great mother and I am happy to be there for you for as long as you need me. I have been your friend since we were his age and I won't let the two of you suffer alone."

Mary thanked him then deeply kissed him on the lips. Anthony let her settle down then kissed her back. It was a romantically charged moment, but he didn't feel that it was the right time to go further with her as Tommy was close by and wide awake.

When Tommy fell asleep the couple put him to bed, with Anthony carrying him and Tommy saying a tired "thanks, daddy" to him. Anthony didn't know what to say, looking over at Mary who had tears in her eyes at the boy's sleepy proclamation. Anthony saw the love in Mary's eyes and led her to her room, but simply parted with a goodnight kiss rather than press things further.

In bed, he fought a tear as Tommy's words struck him hard. Mary entered as he was looking away from the door and slid into bed with him, hugging him tightly and kissing his shoulder. He didn't say a word to her, letting her hug him while she drifted off to sleep while he fought the urge to do more with her.

In the morning, Mary woke him up with an amazing bit of sexual foreplay that they had enjoyed back in their high school days. They didn't do much, she needed to give him pleasure as a "thank you" for the caring assurances the night before. Anthony kissed her deeply when she finished, showering with her as the two cooled their libidos so they could start their day.

Tommy needed prompting to awaken and got scared as he realized he was still wearing the dress from the day before. Mary sat him down and asked "did you have fun yesterday?" He nodded so she told him "you aren't in trouble. Anthony and I did the same thing when we were your age. All kids do it, it's part of being a little kid. You didn't do anything wrong, Dorothy was happy that you played with her."

Tommy still looked down in shame, so she asked "did you like being a girl?" He nodded and added "I am a girl. I am not a boy. I don't want to be a boy."

She let it go, they didn't have enough time to talk about it as they needed to drive to Winnisimmet to drop Tommy off with Rose and Sydney. Anthony asked what was the matter, Mary was nearly in tears as she told him "he said he was a girl and not a boy. I don't think he's playing, I think he believes it. My son is starting to feel that he is my daughter."

Anthony just nodded and added "I'll talk with Sydney, she will know what to do. Don't make an issue of it yet. It might be a phase, it was his first time so he may be confused over playing and being a girl."

In Winnisimmet, Sydney directed them towards the Stoner home where Savannah was going to help the couple for the day. Savannah noticed something was going on and asked about it, Anthony waited for Tommy to be out of earshot and told her "he played dress-up yesterday with Dorothy Peterson and is now confused about being a girl. We don't know if it's due to playing with a girl for the first time or if it's more. Please don't press him, he's feeling bad already."

Mary looked away in shame but Savannah assured her "it's going to be a while before you know if it's a phase or not. Don't look too much into it yet, each person is different. I didn't admit until I was 11 that I was a girl inside, Sydney knew when she was just three. If he continues, we can get him help."

Mary gasped, Savannah nodded and explained further "since she already knows thanks to Polly and the girls, Deborah Peterson is as well. There's a bunch of us who are transgender who are part of the family so we have extensive personal experience. I'll see if Dr. Allen can meet with him, she is treating Hunter Eliza who is a year older than Tommy and recently admitted that she can't live as a boy anymore."

Anthony asked who they were, Sydney explained "Hunter is Aunts Alison and Katie's daughter. She is close with Dorothy so Dr. Allen knows of Dorothy and the kids. Aunt Alison normally handles young kids but Hunter being her daughter she can't treat Hunter. Dr. Allen isn't as good as Dr. Bell but nobody can replace Dr. Bell. And before you ask, Dr. Bell isn't dead she had to retire due to health reasons."

Anthony led Mary away while Rose asked what was going on. Sydney whispered to her "Tommy may be thinking he is a girl so mom is going to get him an appointment to see a specialist. He was acting a little different yesterday afternoon once he started to play with Dorothy, it might be his awakening. I did the same thing with my birth mom when I was three, it's possible this was the spark he needed to see that he wasn't Tommy but Tammy or Tori or Teri."

Tommy was just as expected with the girls, playing with them, drawing, watching TV, and not fighting them when it was lunchtime. Savannah had a loving glint in her eyes that made her think that she might actually be a good mother when the triplets were born. Seeing Sydney and Rose doing so well with Tommy also gave her a feeling that the two were going to be amazing parents when their bundle of joy was born in March.

Tommy slept with one of Sydney's old stuffed animals, with Sydney realizing that he wasn't going to be leaving the house without it. It was a pretty pink bear that Rose had given her after their first date. It had a special significance to Sydney, but seeing Tommy hugging it tight made her realize that it was not going to leave his arms and if she tried to take it away he might have a meltdown.

When he awoke, Savannah had the girls go out for a walk while she talked with Tommy. Savannah was in the zone and asked him warmly "you mommy told me about yesterday and what you might be feel. You look so pretty with your bear, I was the same way when I was your age and so were the girls. Are you a girl inside? It's alright to tell me, I won't get upset at you for being honest with me."

Tommy looked away in shame but said "yes." Savannah hugged him and kissed his cheek, then asked "what is your girl name? You can choose one and it'll be special to you, nobody will make fun of you."

Tommy had to think about that, it was a great question and one that he needed to ponder for a while. She was doing the only thing she could think of, heading him off at the pass and giving him a way of showing that this wasn't a phase. He couldn't hide his true feelings if people showed support of him.

Tommy smiled and finally blurted out "a woman once called me Tara. I am Tara. I like being Tara."

She smiled back and proclaimed "well, Tara. I think you could make due with some toys and dolls. I am going to see if my friends can spare some from their daughters. Would you like to play with some little girls your age? They would be happy to play with you, it gets boring at home for them."

Tara agreed, to which Savannah called a friend who was more than happy to help Savannah and the girls out as well as set an appointment with a specialist. Tara listened and realized that Savannah had not gotten angry at her choosing a name and called her by it. She felt strange, like she was being loved by her and the girls and she was safe to be herself and not what others want her to be.

Katie Eliza drove her twin girls over to meet Tara and give her some toys that the twins were happy to part with. The twins were rambunctious, with Hunter leading the two inside while her sister Bailey kept a stoic expression as she didn't want her sister to embarrass her again. Hunter smiled at Tara and told her mom "is she like me? Is she different?"

Tara looked at Savannah for an explanation, so Katie explained to her "Hunter is a girl who was born with boy parts. She's just starting to be a girl but is still like you. She doesn't know how to clam herself and let adults talk, I'm sorry that she made you uncomfortable but she is a nice girl."

Hunter led Tara away while Bailey realized she'd have to be their watchdog as the adults talked. She, the levelheaded one among the twins, was alright with that. She was a lot like her mother Alison while she knew that Hunter was like her mom Katie. She felt bad for Hunter, but she was still Hunter's sister and being the older of the two she was also the one who assumed leadership and protection for Hunter.

Katie and Savannah watched as the girls played together with Tara's new toys. The girls were happy to let their oldest toys go, especially after being told that Tara didn't have much while they had every kind of toy that they wanted. They knew kids who were too poor to afford good toys so were proud to be the mature kids that their mothers wanted them to be in giving Tara the stuff they never played with.

Tara happily played with the girls and went over to their house to play more when Savannah called an end to their play so the girls could stretch and play at the Eliza home. The girls were happy to go, with the twins ending up dressing Tara in some old clothes that were too small for Bailey but were just fine for Tara. Seeing how comfortable Hunter was and how cute she looked in her own outfits, Tara was lost in a girlish world of pink, unicorns, rainbows, and fairies that Bailey's clothes tended to have.

Observing but not intervening, Savannah and Katie both watched as the three were in-sync and Tara never questioned any of what the girls were telling her about the clothes and how to dress. It was as if the girls were expected to help Tara, so much so that they told her about some of the little things that the two mothers could barely contain laughter over: leggings, undershirts, panties, and skirts.

The three girls enjoyed several hours of fun, but stopped with the twins' sister entered after a day out with her cousins. Trinity Eliza just looked at Tara, looked at her mother, then walked on, telling her "I already did my big sister thing once, you didn't listen to me then. She's pretty in that outfit, but you can tell her that she needs to let her hair grow if she wants to really set herself apart from boys."

Katie countered "she's just playing at this point." Looking at the girls again, Trinity boldly back "yeah, right. I know the difference between playing and starting to be her true self and that's beyond playing. She's so far out that it'd hurt her to make her give it up. I may not a psychiatrist like mom, but even I can see that she's a girl inside."

Katie didn't want to argue with Trinity, she was right. Tara was bursting out and wasn't going away. The little girl inside of her was blooming and with the right support she would blossom for real.

Two hours and a nap later, Anthony and Mary arrived to pick-up Tommy. Seeing her mother, Tara burst into tears and ran to the bedroom to quickly change out of her skirt and t-shirt. Mary went after her but Katie wisely told her "it's starting. Tommy needs some time to gather his wits. Tara is taking a toll on him and is becoming stronger. She's becoming a real person, the old Tommy is fading away. I'm sorry to say it, but your son is really your daughter."

Tommy came out with his shirt disheveled and shoes untied. Mary picked him up and kissed his cheek, while Anthony gathered Tara's things. He didn't say anything about how he was dressed, Tara was cute and the way she looked for the brief second that he saw Tara she was just like her mother at age 4.

Inside the car, Anthony asked Tommy "are you Tommy or are you another name?" Mary gave him an odd look but realized what he was getting at. Tommy tried to look away, but Mary's hug and kiss made him give in and tell him "I'm Tara. I'm a girl. I'm not a boy."

The duo didn't say anything after that, Tommy didn't want to talk and neither wanted to make him any more upset than he already was. At home, Anthony set out Tara's pajamas and told Tommy "you can be Tara at home. I don't mind you being a girl, I want you to be safe and happy. I love your mom too much to let any harm come to you because you feel that you need to be a boy for me."

Tommy removed his boy clothes and a few minutes later Tara exited her bedroom and tearfully hugged Anthony telling him "thanks, daddy." Anthony smiled at her and shot back a happy "thanks, my cute little daughter." Mary was overcome with emotion as it was a touching scene and tugged at her heartstrings, the man she had loved for years was being the father to her son/daughter when s/he was at his/her most vulnerable. He accepted Tara fully, giving her the paternal love that she needed.

When Tara went to bed for the night, Mary kissed Anthony deeply and told him affectionately "I love you, Anthony Russo. You have done so much in one night for Tara that I can't stop seeing you as the boy that I fell in love with back in high school."

She led Anthony into his bedroom and gave him a night of sex that he had craved for years but had not been able to have due to his commitments to raising Rose. She was just as he remembered, only she had learned a few tricks that caused him to cry out in pure ecstasy. Mary proved to him that she was the one that got away, and if he had his way Mary and Tara Riley would become Mary and Tara Russo.



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