All in the Family

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Errol is a high school senior, who while finishing his secondary education, is experiencing his first great love. His girlfriend decides to take the sexual reins. Little does Errol know that his personal dominos are starting to fall.

When the door closes on you, it's because life knows you deserve better. And, if we really knew our worth, we would close the door ourselves.” S. C. Lourie

All in the Family
By Angela Rasch

Chapter One
All You Need Is Love – The Beatles

Paula’s been my girlfriend for a year and a half and this is the first time I’ve ever been in her room. I thought.

“Mom took Cindy and Linda to West Acres Mall in Fargo. They’re shopping for summer clothes. I faked a temperature -- so I didn’t have to go,” Paula said. “They won’t be back for another three or four hours. Mike is golfing with Dad and they’ve probably just teed off. We have the house all to ourselves. I asked you to come upstairs to my bedroom. Because there’s something I want you to see.”

“Cindy will try to talk your mom into buying her a new jigsaw puzzle at Legacy Toys.” Cindy and I had spent a lot of cold winter days putting together puzzles. It was something I enjoyed doing with Paula’s younger sister.

“Cindy’s already spoiled badly. Mom will do anything for us kids -- that she thinks will help us get ahead in life. She drives herself mad worrying about Mike, Cindy, Linda, and me. However. . .calling puzzle-solving a secret sauce, in the recipe for a great life, might be a stretch.”

Because Paula was the oldest daughter, even though she was two years younger than Mike, she’d positioned herself as their generational leader.

“Those who love puzzles, seek solutions,” I quipped. Before the stimulating feminine aroma of her room overwhelmed me. “Ohhhh.” Her room oozes womanhood. Everywhere I look I see a side of a life that’s taboo for me.

She has a 9X12 picture of her and me, from the Snow Ball -- four months ago. It’s sitting where she can gaze at it while she goes to sleep. I don’t have any pictures of her, in my bedroom.

Paula had written me a long letter that she handed to me after school, yesterday. It had started out as a card but had grown to three pages of the handwritten testament of her love, for me. Seeing as how the longest text I’d gotten from her was five words and an emoji, a letter seemed significant in itself.

Given that we were having “a fight” and hadn’t spoken in four days, her letter -- and the startling words in it -- came at me, without warning.

“Read this,” she’d said. “If, after you’ve read it, you want to talk -- come to my house at 11:00 tomorrow morning.”

Her letter had stated that she was deeply in love with me and that she daydreamed about what it would be like when we eventually got married. The word “love” had never been spoken between us.

I had been launched onto foreign soil.

I’d showed up exactly on time, ready to do what I had to, to make up with her.

Her eyes never left mine while she did that female contortionist thing and unzipped her dress. AND. . .then she let it fall to the floor exposing her totally nude body.

“Ahhh! What!?” What is she doing? Shouldn’t she be wearing a bra and panties? Or something?

“Take off your clothes and get into bed with me,” she said as if offering me a freshly-baked cookie.

“Huh.” Her whatzit is furry. Should I be gawking at it? Where should I be looking, if anywhere?

She caught me by my belt, which she quickly unbuckled. She then unsnapped and zipped down my Levi’s. “I’ve been curious.” Her hand danced into my underwear and encircled my fully engorged penis. “Nice. I’ve seen Mike’s, after he’d stepped out of the shower. But I’ve never actually felt one . . . skin-on-skin.”

She shouldn’t be. . .. “Paula. . .should we. . .uhhhhh?”

“Mike calls his the one-eyed trouser mouse.” She squeezed me harder. “I want you in bed with me,” she said, with a beguiling look. Her right hand continued to fondle my cock, while her left hand unbuttoned my shirt.

She grabbed my head and moved my lips toward hers. Then she kissed me like she had a thousand times before, only with more urgency. Her tongue fought relentlessly with mine.

I gently pulled away. “We both have vowed abstinence until we’re married.” Abstinence? That’s a twenty-dollar word with a ten-cent meaning when someone has a grip on you.

“Don’t you love me?” She pouted.

“I do,” I pleaded. “When I read your letter, my knees buckled.”

At the mention of the letter, her eyes misted. “You really hurt me, on prom night.”

“I asked you if you would mind if I went to prom with someone else,” I equivocated. “You could have said ‘no,’” I reminded her. I don’t want to go all over this again and make her mad.

“I understand that you only get one chance to go to your senior prom. But. . .. You didn’t tell me right away that you were going to be with Traci. Traci is the captain of the soccer team. She was homecoming queen. She’s co-valedictorian with you.”

Maybe I wasn’t totally forthright. It wouldn’t have been right for Traci to miss prom. “If I hadn’t asked her, no one else would have. She’s been seeing Rusty. By rights, he should have taken her. Even though he’s away at college, everyone is afraid about what he would do to them, if they asked her out.”

“And, you weren’t afraid? Rusty’s the toughest guy, ever. The paper said he might someday have a shot at the NFL.”

Afraid? A lot of people think I’m playing with fire -- being with “Big Arnie’s” daughter. “Traci and I have been friends for a long time.”

“Friends? Traci isn’t the kind of girl a boy has as a ‘friend.’ Traci is the most attractive girl in our high school. It’s hard enough not being able to go to prom with you because I’m ineligible as a sophomore. But then you take the biggest bombshell imaginable. There’s real talk of Traci becoming an influencer online with a Youtube show about fashion and make-up.”

This is surreal. Paula’s naked and we’re having a conversation. “You’re the most attractive girl in school -- and she’s not a bimbo.”

“Let’s not talk about her. I told you in my letter how I feel about you. Get into bed,” she ordered again. Her freehand felt my chest. “You’re so good at football. Basketball, track, and tennis. But you’re not muscle-bound like some of your classmates.”

I was standing in my BVDs with nothing else on -- looking at her naked body for the very first time. Her assessment of my body gave me a license to speak up about hers. “Your breasts are. . .big!”

“That’s all fat,” she dismissed. “Would you like to touch them?” She pitched quietly.

Feeling her breast had been out-of-bounds. We had both surreptitiously explored each other’s body – but only through our clothing.

I caressed her tentatively. “You’re so soft. And. . .your nipples are so erect.”

She giggled. “That’s because it’s cold. Lose your underwear and get under the covers.”

I jumped in with her, happy I’d showered no more than an hour before.

She reached into a drawer in her bedstand and pulled out a small foil-wrapped square. “It’s a rubber,” she explained.

A condom! A prophylactic! A safe! A contraceptive! “Where did you get that. . .thing?”

She grinned. “Kate. Sometimes it pays to have a Mom who thinks of everything. She gave it to me shortly after I had my first period and made me swear never to have sex, without using one.”

Kate would kill me, if she walked in on us. “Are you sure you want to do this? Is this how you want to lose your virginity?”

“Is there any other way?” She laughed. “Actually, I lost my virginity to gymnastics years ago.”


“My hymen. I broke my hymen doing floor routines.”


Her right hand persistently stroked me.

“Maybe you should use some lotion,” I suggested.

“Oh,” she said quickly, “I’ve read about that.” She had a bottle of body lotion next to her bed and let loose of me just long enough to pump a few squirts into her hand. “You’ll smell girly. But that’s okay because this will help both of us. The scent will match your gorgeous, long, curly hair, and pretty face,” she mocked. Then she rubbed the lotion into me where it would do the most good.

“It’s cold! I don’t mind the fragrance. It smells like you did the first time I danced with you when you were a brand-new freshman.”

“You remember!” Her face lit up. “I love how romantic you are. That was our first night together. The night of our first kiss.”

“How could I ever forget?”

“I was so scared of you. A big junior asking me to dance. Everyone was so jealous of me. You were the upperclassman everyone wanted.”

“Getting to know you that night was like unwrapping a present.” I pulled her into a hug, which felt much different without clothes. “You were. . .are. . .the most beautiful girl in our high school. The smartest. The most fun.” This is really happening! “Are you sure you really want to do this?”

Her answer was to take a tissue and wipe the lotion off my penis. “There’s something I’ve been dreaming about.” She slid down and kissed the tip of my penis. Before licking it like a popsicle. Then she took it into her mouth.

She’s leaving lip gloss on my. . .. This is like a wet dream, only I’m awake. Pressure began to mount in my crotch. “Paula, I’m going to burst.”

She popped up. “Not yet!”

After she switched positions we were face-to-face -- touching. . .everywhere.

She’s three inches shorter than me. We’re perfect for each other. We fit together like two LEGOs.

“Don’t you want to. . .?” She asked shyly.

Do I? “I. . .ahh.”

She frowned. “After your prom, you and Traci-kins went parking. I know you did. I followed you. I didn’t stick around. But I know you and Traci went to a spot north of town and. . ..”

Mike told me Paula got her car stuck looking for me. “Big Arnie” had to use one of his construction company’s biggest trucks to get it out. “Nothing happened. I swear nothing happened.”

“Do you expect me to believe that? Traci looked like Daenerys Targaryen and you looked like Justin Bieber. It seemed like upright sex, when you two were slow dancing.”

Traci had looked totally fabulous. She did have a mother-of-dragons vibe going.

“Try to tell me you didn’t want to have sex with her.”

“I. . .ahh.” Oh, oh. Her eyes just told me she knows I wanted to. When I originally asked Traci it had been entirely innocent. Then Paula got pissy about things and I thought maybe Traci was forbidden fruit I should be sampling. It’s a stupid defense. But I’m in my last weeks of high school and rules that seemed to important just months ago are being tossed aside. “All the other guys were going somewhere after prom to. . ..”

“So -- you thought you’d lose your virginity to Traci?” Her scrunched face clearly indicated the strife she had gone through.

I closed my eyes and bit my lip. My penis went to half-mast.

“How do you think that makes me feel?” She sobbed quietly.

Oh geez. I’ve made girls cry before but they were stupid tears -- not tears of anguish. “I’m sorry,” I said, holding her to me. “I’m a jerk. I’ll make it up to you. Just tell me what you need me to do, to make things right.”

“You’re not a jerk. However. . .I can’t stand the idea of someone else being your first. You want to be my first, don’t you?”

I nodded. “For sure.” Her open closet door allowed me to see a rack of dresses she’d worn when we’d gone to school dances and parties. Each one held special memories for me.

She pumped me until I was fully inflated, again. Then she worked her rubber onto me. “Mom must have bought the extra-large size,” she commented. “It’s a little too big for you. No matter, as long as it catches all your little baby-makers.” Her arms encircled my neck.

Her underarms smell like baby powder.

She nibbled on my ear. “We’re going to do this a million times. We’re not going to be like old couples who quit having sex after they get married.”

Married! I love it when she talks about us getting married.

She coated me with a bit more of the lavender-scented lotion.

That rubber blocks some of the. . .. I stared at the picture of her and me and thought of the many years we would have together.

“If you love me. . .you’ll do me,” she stated unequivocally.

We shouldn’t do this. I stopped short and stared into her eyes. Oh my! I love her eyes. The thing is -- her eyes tell me that she loves me unconditionally. Her eyes scream that she loves being with me.

After some initial fumbling, we fit together, and I started to burn in my penis. Seconds later, I exploded.

She smiled strangely. “That was sooo nice. They say it will only get better and better -- the more practice we have.” She kissed me softly.

Chapter Two
When a Man Loves a Woman – Percy Sledge

“You couldn’t ask for a nicer day,” Kate said, while munching her fast-food salad from Wendy’s.

Two weeks had passed since Paula and I had made love. School had ended and I had graduated and then played in the state tennis tournament. Neither of us had spoken about what we did, nor had we allowed our petting since then, to get beyond second base. But we had moved our relationship to another plane.

Her mother had called me and asked me to have lunch with her. At first, I thought she meant at her house. Then she said that it was such a nice day that I should meet her at the small Civil War Memorial Park off Ashland Avenue and 23rd Street. Kate said she’d bring the food.

It wasn’t unusual for Kate and me to talk, without Paula around. For a mom, she was highly approachable.

We sat at a wooden picnic table covered with initials in hearts. I would have rather she had gotten me a Biggie Burger. But their Caesar chicken salad isn’t bad. Kate must know I really like Caesar salads.

Other than Kate’s hair color there isn’t much Kate in Paula. Paula has a vertical leap that’s nearly twice the other girls’ on her basketball team. She’s built strong – like her dad, “Big Arnie” – while Kate is willowy. They’re both beauties. But in their own ways. Mike gets his refined features from Kate. He’s probably the most handsome boy, in our class.

She pointed her spork at me. “You and Mike are going to college, in a few months.”

I nodded. She’s right. The temperature is just perfect. There’s a gentle breeze and the clouds are fluffy-white and sparse, in a blue sky that is as intense as Paula’s eyes.

“You’re both going into pre-med at Michigan. Ann Arbor’s a long ways from here. You won’t know anyone there -- but each other. Mike’s lucky to have you as a roommate.”

“Mike’s a great guy.” He and I have been classmates since the fifth grade. We’ve never been close. He’s a car guy and his parents bought him a new Dodge Challenger. I couldn’t care less about cars. My parents don’t have the money to buy me a used bike, let alone a car. He hangs with Tom, a doctor’s son, and Bill, the son of the guy who owns the town’s only big tech company. Mike quit playing sports in the seventh grade. I’m a four-sport letterman. My friends, at any given time, depended on what sport was in season.

I had been surprised, when after I picked Michigan and pre-med, he made the same choices.

She was dressed the way you’d expect one of the city’s toughest prosecuting attorneys to dress. I’d gone with Paula one day to watch her in court and came away totally impressed. “I’m going to be honest with you, Errol,” Kate said. “Mike isn’t quite as smart as you.”

“He’s plenty smart,” I argued.

She shook her head. “He’s not in your league. You’re the first kid from this town who’s ever scored perfect on their SAT.”

“I got lucky.” I guessed on at least five of the questions.

“Mike scored in the low-ninetieth percentile. After his father and I went to bat for him with some influential Michigan alum, we were able to get him in, on a provisional status. He has to maintain a 3.25 or better his first two years, or he’s out.”

I just know he got accepted. All the rest of that is news to me. “He’ll do that,” I assured her.

I recognized a set of initials from a couple who were a year older than me. She dumped him.

“If you help Mike, he’ll excel,” she said sweetly, ‘He’ll become the doctor he wants to be.”

“I intend to,” I said. “I always learn better when part of my study process is teaching someone else. We’ll take the same courses and sections. We’ll push each other to study -- ten to twelve hours a day.”

“I know that’s what Mike and you have planned.” Her smile faded. “And it just pains me to think about all that going up in smoke.”

Up in smoke? “Why?” The clouds above suddenly looked ominous. “Why would you say that?”

She stirred her salad in its plastic bowl – shoving her croutons to one side. “Do you know what a Google Nest Cam is?”

I nodded. “It’s an internet surveillance unit often used in a nursery. . .so it’s sometimes called a ‘nanny cam.’” We use them at the daycare to check on the babies, without actually going into the room and waking them.

“They’re also used by mothers, to keep an eye on their daughters. Like the one I have attached to the light fixture above Paula’s bed.”

Oh shit! Is it legal for her to use a camera like that?

“Did you happen to notice that camera two weeks ago, when you were raping my daughter?”

I coughed on a piece of lettuce and had to take a drink of water from my Dasani bottle. “I didn’t rape anyone.”

“Oh?” she said slowly, while she viciously stabbed a small piece of chicken. “How old are you, Errol?”

“I turned eighteen in January.”

“Uh-huh. I remember helping Paula find a lovely periwinkle sweater for your birthday gift. Do you know how old Paula is?”

She had her sweet sixteen party three months ago. “Yes.”

“Errol – in this state, when a person -- who is eighteen or older -- has sex with a minor, who is sixteen, that’s called ‘statutory rape.’”

I shook my head rapidly. “She wanted to. . .she brought it up. Maybe she even wanted to -- more than me,” I pleaded.

“Consent -- is that what you’re trying to say? Are you saying Paula gave her informed consent?”

I nodded. “That’s it. She wanted to.”

She cornered me, in her stern gaze. “Statutory rape laws are premised on the basic assumption that minors are totally incapable of giving informed consent to sexual activities. Their incapacity of choice is written into the state’s statutes—hence the term ‘statutory’ rape.”

I’m a no-good low-life for letting Kate down. But I’m not Bill Cosby. I need to get up and leave. “No. . ..”

“Yes. You’re a rapist,” she said evenly, “and I have the video that most certainly proves it.”

I spoke through the fingers of my hands, which suddenly held my throbbing head. “I thought you liked me.”

“I do,” she said soothingly, “and I want to help you. I think that after Arnie presses charges, I can speak to the judge and get the recommended guideline one-year sentence suspended. That much I probably can do. However – the law is quite specific that you will have to register as a sex offender.”

I gasped. “Big Arnie” is the size of a small truck and twice as strong. People say he won the money to start his business, in a poker game. He’s not going to stand for a “sex offender” being with his daughter.

“And, you see, Errol, that’s where the most vexing problem for my family arises. Michigan is going to notice when your name comes up on the sex offender list. Because they screen all of their new students. You will become ineligible to be in pre-med, or any other professional field of study.”

This is a nightmare! “That’s not fair. I love to learn, even more than playing sports. I’ve been dreaming about becoming a physician since . . . ever.”

“And, you should be a doctor.” She touched my hand. “I’ve got this quandary. Arnie wants you punished severely. He seemingly doesn’t understand that in the process he would foul our son’s chances, along with yours. Paula is in love with you. . .. I read her letter to you, a few weeks ago, while she was sleeping. Nothing happens in my family that I don’t know about. As I see it . . . and I’ve already got Arnie to agree to this . . . there are two possible routes. So -- now do you see why we had to meet, for lunch?”

“Two routes?”

“Arnie is pliable – for me,” she sighed. “I guess that’s why I love the big lunk. Most people look at him and think he builds those highways his construction company makes, with his bare hands. He’s big enough and strong enough to push a diesel caterpillar tractor around. But he has a soft side. He wants you to have a trial by ordeal.”

“Ordeal?” I squeaked.

“Oh, don’t worry. I know you’re too sweet and sensitive, for any rough stuff. I’ve talked him into a contest between you and Cindy assembling a 1,000-piece puzzle.”

Sweet? Sensitive? Does she really mean a jigsaw puzzle? A meadowlark called to its mate. For someone who is thirteen years old, Cindy has a great deal of persistence and a keen eye. But I’m better at matching colors and pieces’ shapes. “She can’t beat me.”

“That’s what I thought. But Arnie is very proud of Cindy, so he readily agreed to my terms, which I think heavily favors you.”

“And, what are those terms?”

“If you put together an identical puzzle to the one Cindy is simultaneously working on, in a shorter time than her, Arnie and I will give Paula our parental consent. You two will then be married immediately, in a secret civil ceremony. That way you can go off to college. Mike will keep an eye on you. Paula will stay here. I will keep her in line. Once you and Mike both graduate and enter residency, you and Paula will be able to move right in together, as husband and wife.”

Marriage sounds a lot better than “sex offender.”
“I see. No harm -- no foul.”

“Something like that.”

“What happens, if Cindy somehow beats me?”

“First – Paula and you don’t get married – at least not right away. Paula and you can correspond and do that texting thing you do all the time. But you’ll leave town next week, to get things ready for college next fall.”

Why would it take the rest of the summer to “get ready?” I need my summer job, to pay for expenses at college.

Kate continued. “We will start with two identical, 1,000-piece, Ravensburger puzzles, the kind you and Cindy both like. You’ll work on tables side-by-side. If Cindy puts her last piece in before you do, you’ll agree to do whatever is necessary to make Mike comfortable -- as your roommate.”

“I’m already going to do that,” I argued.

She shook her head. “You don’t understand the extent of what I’m saying. You and Mike will live off-campus. You’ll cook all the meals and do all the shopping. You’ll launder and iron all the clothes. You’ll clean your apartment. Mike will have every opportunity to study as much as humanly possible -- and you’ll actively encourage him.”

“Okay . . . but we’ll have to talk about the kind of housing and food I can pay for. I can’t afford to live off-campus. Dorm and cafeteria are included in my scholarship. Off-campus living would not be covered.”

“Don’t worry about that. Arnie and I will pick up all of your living expenses.”

“You don’t understand. I’ll be broke -- and won’t have money for incidentals. If I have to quit my summer job at the daycare, I’ll have to find a part-time job at Ann Arbor – I probably will need a part-time job, either way.”

She shook her head. “No. . .your job during the school year, is studying and tutoring. We’ll make sure you have enough money.”

“That’s generous. I suppose you want me to promise that I won’t run off with Paula and get married, without your consent.”

“We’ll sign a binding legal agreement. If you lose, Arnie and I agree that we will give our consent for Paula to marry you, in one year, as long as you agree not to cohabitate until you’re in your residency.”

“Either way, I’ll get to marry Paula within a year.” I smiled. “Let’s do it. When’s the contest with Cindy?”

“Not so fast. There’s one more thing,” Kate said, “and listen carefully. If you lose, in addition to everything else, you will immediately notify the university that you will be entering college this fall as a transgender student.”

Chapter Three
This Guy’s in Love with You – Herb Alpert

Transgender? For as long as I could remember, I’ve wished I’d been born a girl but I’ve never – ever – told anyone. “You’re crazy.”

She got up and then tossed the half of her salad -- that she’d decided wasn’t good enough for her -- into the trash basket. “Errol, you made a very serious mistake when you raped my daughter. Don’t compound that error by throwing away the life preserver that’s being offered to you.”

“What kind of ‘life preserver’ is it, to tell me to lie to the university?”

She sat again, pulled out her lipstick and then fixed her face before answering. “First of all, do you really think Cindy’s going to beat you? Cindy’s barely a ‘B’ student and you’re a genius.”

“This is nuts. I didn’t rape Paula, and I’m not a girl.” There’s a transwoman who works behind the counter at the bakery. Everyone knows she wasn’t always female. No one is mean to her.

“I got my knowledge of the law, through a lot of hard work,” Kate said. “I fought for every opportunity that came my way. Believe me . . . under the law, you’re in deep trouble. Don’t be a fool.”

“But, you’re mistaken,” I quibbled. My life is going to be ruined, if I can’t become a doctor -- and I didn’t do anything wrong.

“Errol, one hundred percent of the people I’ve prosecuted for horrible crimes have told me, at some point, that they’re innocent.”

“I get it now. You’re going to make it seem like I’m trans, so that Paula loses interest in me.”

“No. We don’t intend to tell her. The university needs to be told. I’ll tell Mike that you’re not really sure -- but you want to give this trans thing a chance. I’ll know -- and my sister, who is a doctor, will provide the medical certification for the college. Arnie will know. And, you’ll have to tell your parents. That’s all the people who need to know.”

“My parents?” What does she want me to tell them?

She took a small vial from her purse, and then dabbed her wrists with perfume. “The university won’t want you and Mike rooming together in a dorm, with you being trans. So -- you’ll have to live off-campus. Your parents will want to know why and will want my assurances that we’ll pick up the additional cost. Your parents are fine people. But they’re in no financial position to help you with college expenses.”

Her perfume is really nice. “Why trans?” That doesn’t make any sense, unless she can read minds.

“Three reasons. First – you’ve tasted sex and will want more, frequently. You’re good-looking. A good-looking, pre-med student will be a target, for those girls on campus looking for a husband, with a future.”

“I wouldn’t be roaming the campus stalking girls for sex.”

“Sex will find you, and you will participate again. I can’t have you hurting Paula. As a transwoman, you’ll be less attractive to those girls. The second reason is that if you’re in feminine mode twenty-four hours a day / seven days a week, you’ll be much less likely to hop on a bus or an airplane -- to come home to see Paula. Arnie and I want you two to have a year cooling-off period, if you aren’t married.”

“A year without seeing Paula?” I don’t know. . ..

“That’s only if you lose. The third reason – Mike will also be a target for girls. He needs to keep his mind, in his books. We’re not even going to allow him to take his car to school, for the first year. If the girls see a ‘female’ roommate, they will consider him off-limits.”

“Is that part of the bet -- that I’ll be looking like a girl?”

She sighed. “Of course, you’ll look like a girl -- in every aspect. You will be a full-on transgender -- doing everything possible to assume your rightful female gender.”

I shook my head to clear my thoughts. “Let’s say I lose. Mike is hetero as heck. You probably had a nanny cam in the back seat of his Challenger and saw him and Beth going at it.”

“Beth was a tramp and totally wrong for Mike. It cost me $25,000 to get her to back off him. But it was worth every penny.”

My stomach lurched with the stark realization of what Kate was willing to do. “But Mike broke up with her.”

“That’s what I paid her to make him think. But what’s your point?”

“Mike isn’t going to want to live with a transgender. If I look like a joke, it will just make him miserable. If I fully cooperate and somehow look pretty, he’s going to be freaked out by a guy/girl living with him.”

In my many dreams, I’ve always been a pretty girl.

“Mike will deal with it. He knows that without your help he has very little chance of making it academically. He’s told me many times that he has his eye on the prize and won’t blow this wonderful opportunity.”

“Have you talked to him about this?”

“No – but I’m his mother. I know his mind.”

I got up and chucked my garbage in the basket and then started to pace. “You could be wrong about Mike. Even so – I’m not transgender and I’m going to win this contest. Who will know what the bet is?” I looked down at her.

“No one except Arnie, you, and me. Arnie will never tell anyone. Cindy and everyone else will be told there’s a $100 bet between you and Arnie. . .and if Cindy wins, she gets the money.”

“And – after I win and Paula and I are immediately married, will Arnie and you try to get it annulled, or poison her mind toward me?”

“No. I swear we would never do that. Not as long as you carry out your plans to tutor Mike.”

“If I somehow lose, how long will I have to continue the transgender ruse?”

“You’ll contractually agree to one full year of schooling to get Mike on his feet. That will suffice. By then, he’ll have learned how to learn. We’ll make excuses as to why you can’t come home and see Paula -- and why she can’t travel to Ann Arbor. After a year, I’ll destroy the videotape evidence. You and Paula can let things happen as they might. We will give our legal consent for marriage, if that is what you two want.”

I sat and thought. “I can’t see where it would ever do any good to tell anyone I’m pretending to be a girl, so secrecy seems okay with me. Just you, me, and Arnie – and those others, if I lose.”

“I’ve drafted something, so we all remember what we agreed.”

The contract stated the terms exactly as she had verbally outlined them.

Kate and I both signed and dated it. She said she’d make a copy for me.

Lightning flashed, and almost immediately, thunder rolled. We barely made it to her car, before the heavy rain poured down.

Chapter Four
Crazy Little Thing Called Love - Queen

The contest was set for that Saturday. I estimated that it would take me about nine to eleven hours to finish my puzzle, with a thirty-minute break for a meal about halfway through. Cindy will take about an hour more.

Arnie was on a job site. But the rest of the Wexlers stood around, to cheer us on.

Two identical new puzzles were brought into the room and we were told to break their plastic wrappings and start, at the same time. The picture involved Disney movie scenes. Both of us were allowed to prop up the box lid, with the picture we were trying to form, as a guide. Kate explained that she’d found the three-year-old puzzles, at Legacy Toys.

An hour later, I had flipped all the pieces to right-side-up, found all the edge pieces, and separated all the rest of the pieces into color piles. I completed this set-up phase about fifteen minutes faster than Cindy. I kept up a rapid pace until I had about half my puzzle filled in -- and was confident I would win.

After we came back from our lunch break, I lost my speed. It seemed like I just couldn’t find certain pieces, like Dumbo’s feather or Minnie’s ears. Those pieces should have been easy to locate. The harder I pushed, the more it seemed like I wasn’t my normal self, while Cindy rolled on and eventually was ahead of me.

I felt deeply embarrassed and overwhelmed by the fear of failure. Anxiety is not your friend when you’re solving a puzzle.

At ten hours and twenty-six minutes, Cindy raised her hands in triumph.

I still had over fifty pieces to go.

She had been faster than usual -- while I’d been much slower than normal.

Cindy tried to console me. “I’m sorry. I’m happy I won. But I know you were going to use the one hundred dollars to take Paula out, to a special dinner.”

Paula laughed, and then hugged me. “We don’t need a special dinner. As long as I have you with me -- hot dogs and beans will taste like steak and mushrooms.”

I had all I could do not to cry.

I agreed in that contract -- that if I lost, I would meet with my parents and Kate the next morning. I also agreed that I would tell my parents the lie about me being transgender. I will have to disclose to them my “plans” to live as a girl, at college.

What a mess! I’ll be wrapping my darkest secret in an elaborate hoax. The meeting tomorrow with Mom and Dad will be hell!


“I suppose I always knew it,” Dad said. “It’s your fault, Martha. You’re the one who was always buying him dolls and tin tea services.”

“He wanted them,” Mom explained. “It would have been mean not to have Santa bring what was on Errol’s Christmas list. There didn’t seem to be any harm in it.”

The four of us sat around our dining room table and listened to the clock tick between their stilted comments.

“He was the boy who always wanted to be a witch for Halloween. We should have known,” Dad said ruefully.

“Now that I think about it, that after-shave he wears is more like perfume,” Mom accused. “He gets good grades and he played all those sports. . ..” Her voice trailed off.

I closed my eyes -- so that I didn’t have to see Kate’s reaction to my parents’ dissatisfaction in me. My face burned.

“Will they kick him . . . her . . . out of med school?” Dad asked Kate.

“Oh no,” Kate assured them. “But they won’t allow trans girls to live in the boys’ dorms. That’s why I’m here.”

“Why wouldn’t. . .? Oh, never mind. Mrs. Wexler. . .?” Mom asked. “Why does this concern you?”

“You both do realize that your son is brilliant?” Kate asked.

“In school he is. But don’t ask him to work on your car. His mechanical aptitude is extremely low,” Dad complained.

Kate nodded. “My husband and I were delighted when Errol and Mike decided to enter med school together. We know how much Errol will help Mike stay on task. When Errol came to me for legal advice a few days ago – asking me what documents needed to be filed to claim legal transgender status – it came as disturbing news. Because Errol’s new gender status will prohibit them from rooming together, on campus, in a dorm. Then – it occurred to me, if you have no objections – we would be happy to pick up their off-campus expenses. That way Mike can keep Errol as a study buddy.” Her smile was meant to encourage them.

“Uhmmm,” Dad said, clearly thinking -- to form his words and sentences. “This is quite a lot to digest. But – we don’t have to decide anything this morning. . .do we?”

“Actually,” Kate said, “we do. If Errol is going to transition, there’s prep work to be done. I would drive to Michigan with him. . .er. . .her tomorrow. She needs to be comfortable as a female. If they’re going to hit the ground running with their academics, she needs to be on her feet. . .in heels. . .and ready to go the first day of class.”

“She? Heels?” Dad choked.

I closed my eyes and stuck to my bargain. Kate can do the talking. If I don’t stay quiet, the whole kettle of rotten fish is going to be tossed on the table, including the video of Paula and me. Mom and Dad don’t need to think of me as a rapist!

“Errol needs to get started right now,” Kate said. “I’ll stop on the way to Michigan tomorrow and have my sister check over Errol. She’s a doctor in Minneapolis and knows about these things. Oh . . . we can’t keep calling her ‘Errol.’”

Mom looked bewildered and then smiled. “Had we had a girl, which I guess we did, we were going to name her Rachel. Her great-grandmother’s name was Rachel Anne Ludwig.”

Kate looked toward me.

I shrugged. Rachel? “Rachel” is me. Despite everything I smiled.

“Okay,” Kate enthused. “’Rachel’ it is. Mr. Wexler and I will pick up all extraneous expenses for Rachel, in exchange for her promise to be Mike’s tutor, as much as possible. Is that acceptable?”

“Okay. . ..” Dad whispered. “I wish there was another way.” He turned to me. “Are you sure. . .about all of this?”

I wanted to cry but held back my tears and simply nodded. In a way I’m getting everything I want. . .but do I want what I’m getting?

“Good! Then I’ll be by tomorrow at 8:00 to pick you up. You won’t need to pack a lot. We can buy everything for your new life, when we get to Michigan. Just bring enough clothes for a few days and your toiletries. And, a small box of personal items.” She looked beyond me to my parents. “Rachel and Mike have been asked to switch to an accelerated program. I don’t know if she’s told you. But she won’t be able to come home the entire first year . . . and the university frowns on her having visitors.”

Mom’s eyes misted. “We’ll say our goodbyes to Rachel today. . .for a year.”

Dad leaned back, stuffed his hands in his pockets, and examined the ceiling.


The next day we drove the six hours to Minneapolis in mostly silence. The day after that, at 7:00 the next morning, we were in Kate’s sister’s office.

“Kathleen,” the doctor gushed, while she entered the examination room, “How are Arnie and the kids?”

“Everyone is doing fine,” Kate said. “Rachel, this is my sister, Dr. Shirley Lamb.”

I nodded. Does Kate expect me to curtsy? Dr. Lamb looks like Cindy.

The doctor studied the information her P.A. had taken from me and the packet Kate had my family physician email to them. “I see a number of trans patients. It seems all GPs have a few in their practice, nowadays. You’re fortunate in that you’re experiencing late puberty. We can arrest your secondary sex characteristics’ development where it is and achieve some very satisfactory results.”

Arrested development?

“You’re nice and trim, with a tiny, twenty-seven-inch waist,” she noted. “You don’t have much of an Adam’s apple. And – you’re shorter than Kathleen or me. You’re already a very lovely young lady. We’ll just make sure your body matures the way you want it to.”

“Rachel wants to be comfortable attending college as a female,” Kate stated.

“Oh,” the doctor asked, “where are you going?”

“Mike and Rachel are entering pre-med together at Michigan,” Kate said proudly.

“My, my,” she smiled, while she took my pulse, “you’re that wunderkind who’s going to help our Mike make it through.”

“Mike’s plenty smart,” I said.

“Being smart is only table stakes,” the doctor said. “Med school demands that you use every advantage you can get. Mike is lucky to have you. You’re lucky to have someone to help.”

I nodded.

She grinned. “The drugs I’ll prescribe for you, during your real-life test, will be a mixture of estrogens, antiandrogens, progestogens, and gonadotropin-releasing hormone modulators. We’ll start with a shot of estrogen today. It will suppress testosterone levels.”

I don’t know what she’s talking about – and I don’t care. Once this shot wears off, I’ll get back on my puberty schedule and finally start growing chest hairs.

“I have an associate in Ann Arbor, whose office is close to the campus. You can check in with her, for once-a-week, for the near future. She will monitor your blood panels.”

A shot a week?

“Your shoulders are still nice and thin and you don’t have a lot of body hair or muscular development, so we’re in time to use antiandrogens to stop that maleness. Before it starts. We’ll monitor for excess fatigue. The drugs will also keep your voice as nice and feminine as it is today.”

Feminine voice? I had no idea.

“I’m not going to recommend progestogens today and will make a note for my associate to follow your development. We will, of course, start you on GnRH modulators. They will reduce your testosterone levels by as much as 95%.”

I won’t be picking any fights for a year.

“You can expect some mild mood swings, maybe a little weight gain, a hot flash or two, maybe some anxiety, or migraines. Most people only have mild side effects. Mainly you’ll notice a movement in body fat. Breast development, and loss of male sex drive. Do you shave?”

“About once a week. I can normally count the hairs.” Does Kate have to hear all of this? How much will she tell Paula? Paula’s tears and frantic hug when we said goodbye yesterday made me love her all the more.

“Your shaving should come to a full stop. I’m going to give you these three small bottles of pills to last you until you see the doctor in Ann Arbor. Follow the directions on the labels. We’re going to be taking blood every other week. If you’re not good at taking your pills it will be reflected in your test results. If there’s an issue, we’ll go to a slow-release injection.”

I took the pamphlet she offered. I’ll read it in the car.

I should stop her right now. But what would happen then? If I didn’t have this creepy feeling about being forced, I’d be right on board with living as a girl, for a year.

“You just do your tutoring thing to help my nephew.” She smiled warmly, and then took out a bottle and a syringe. “You’re a smart girl, Rachel. By law, you’re old enough to make up your own mind. I’m sure you know what you’re getting into, or you wouldn’t be here today. Pull down your pants and show me your hip.”

Seconds crawled by after I exposed my hip. She’s just looking at me. What is she waiting for? I looked toward Kate, who turned away.

“Okay,” the doctor said and then deliberately swabbed my skin. Before finally injecting me.

“Ouch,” I hadn’t expected the sharp sting.

The doctor smirked. “I grew up on a farm. Cows and pigs used to complain a lot more than that, when they were fixed. Of course, we did that with a big knife.”

I silently began to weep. Maybe I’m making a mistake. This is Kate’s fault.


I read the material thoroughly after we got into the car.

We drove east for three hours. Before I had chewed my angry words enough to speak. “I thought your sister was just going to provide certification for the university.”

“You can’t expect my sister to lie, can you?”

“No. But. . ..” I can feel the chemicals in my body destroying my manhood.

“What’s eating you? You lost the bet. You agreed to enroll as trans -- and to live as a trans student -- and to make Mike comfortable, so he can study.”

“Uh-huh. . .but I didn’t agree to grow breasts.”

“Oh that.” She teased. “I noticed that your mother is well-endowed. It’s my understanding that your genes are a main determining factor, in how large your breasts will grow.”

I glared.

“Relax. Paula took forever to start growing hers. They don’t arrive overnight. We’ll get you some proper clothes tomorrow and some breast forms for you to wear. So that when you do develop, you’ll be used to it.”

“She said I won’t have a sex drive.”

“She said you would lose ‘some’ male sex drive. You’re not going to see Paula for a year, what would you do with it, if you had it?”

Another ten miles shot by, without a word between us. “What kind of clothes are you thinking I’m going to need?”

“What do you think?”

“You talked to my parents about me wearing high heels. That seems excessive. Girls pretty much wear the same things boys do. Sweatshirts, jeans, athletic shoes. . ..”

“Not if you want to make it, in pre-med. You’re not in high school anymore. University is based on image. If you look professional, your professors will take you seriously and grade you accordingly. Mike will be wearing a shirt and tie every day. I’m going to have to insist that under the terms of our agreement that you wear skirts and dresses to class every day, as well.”

“Dresses. . .that wasn’t part of the bet.” I thought of Paula’s closet and all the fun things she wore.

“It certainly is part of the deal. You agreed to tell the university you’re trans and to start living as if you are trans. A transwoman attending pre-med at Michigan would wear skirts and dresses.”

“What else haven’t you told me?” I whined.

“What do you mean?”

“You didn’t make it clear about dresses, what else do you have up your sleeve? Why is it going to take you eight weeks, to help me get ready?”

“Okay -- let’s set a schedule. We get into Ann Arbor at about midnight. We get up at 7:00. At 8:00, I have an appointment for you at a beauty salon. You’ll get hair extensions and acrylic fingernails attached. Your body will be waxed and your eyebrows shaped. They will pierce your ears and give you a pedicure.”

Am I moving too fast? “I’m not eager to have my ears pierced. Maybe we can negotiate.”

“What has to be done. . .has to be done.” She continued. “Your hair will be styled and you will have make-up professionally applied. Some will be semi-permanent. While they’re working on you, I’ll be doing some basic shopping for an outfit for you to hit the stores in, to assemble your new wardrobe. I intend for you to be the best dressed young lady, in every one of your classes.”

I realized I’d been holding my breath while she spoke and finally exhaled. “And, if I refuse.”

She looked miserable and didn’t answer, for at least five minutes. “If at any time during the next year you break with the intent of our agreement, I will deliver the videotape to the city attorney and demand that they prosecute. I also guarantee you that I will push for actual incarceration, for the full year.”

Why does she have to be so mean? “You’re a bitch!” I hurled at her.

“I suppose you think I deserved that.” She drummed the steering wheel with her fingers. “Rachel, do you know what they do to pretty-boy rapists in jail? They’re especially fond of girls with pouty lips like yours. With the drugs already coursing through your body, you’ll be quite the catch for the right cellmate.”

She’s right. But we both know that’s not going to happen. I fumed in silence for the next two hundred miles, until we pulled into a gas station, filled the tank, and then stopped for a meal. I thought about running away and starting a new life. But quickly realized how futile and stupid that would be.

She ordered salads, for both of us.

“I don’t have much choice,” I sulked.

“You have the absolute choice to enter into a new life that will be what you want it to be. Rachel – it’s really for the best. I’d be willing to make a bet with you that within six months you’re going to thank me.”

“Not a chance. I’d be willing to bet that once Paula and I are married and I’m a doctor, you’ll wish you hadn’t put me through all this nonsense. When we have kids, you’re never going to see them. We won’t want them around a psycho.”

She winced.

Good! “You were going to tell me about a schedule. What comes after shopping?” I asked.

“There are two sides to our wager’s payoff. One is to become a transwoman to the best of your ability. The other is to keep Mike happy and content.”

“I imagine you’re going to teach me all about what it means to be a woman. I can do that.”

“I’ve arranged a personal leave. Paula is grounded for the summer and will take care of the house. For the next two months, I’m going to give you lessons in make-up, haircare, speech patterns, word choices, walking, sitting, standing, gesturing. . .. Did you ever see My Fair Lady? When I’m done with you, you will be a refined young lady.”

She trained Paula. I bit my lip and closed my eyes. Some of me loves the idea. Mostly I’m upset and frightened. I nodded.

“Then there’s the part about keeping Mike happy.” She looked over at me. “I work very hard at making Arnie happy. My career never is allowed to infringe on my primary role as a nurturing spouse. I cook, run a good household, keep things clean and nice for him, and I tend to his clothes.”

“You do know that my parents both work? My mother has lived out-of-town during the week – teaching -- for the last eight years. I already cook, do some sewing, and know how to clean a house. I wash my own clothes – and I do most of our ironing.”

“Wonderful! But do you know how to keep a man feeling good about himself? What do you know about making Mike feel like he’s the King of the World?”

“Paula knows how to do that. When I’m down, she cuddles with me and. . .. Wait! You don’t expect me to kiss Mike? Do you?” I’m not gay!

“I don’t really know what Mike’s expectations and needs will be -- and neither do you. I do know this -- if Mike gives up on college because you didn’t keep his dauber up, I’ll see to it that you’re prosecuted as a rapist. But all that is secondary and highly unlikely. Be as pretty as you can be. Arnie loves it when I’m all dolled up. I love it, when he loves it. Don’t dwell on things that may never happen. Think about the wonderful things that are happening. Yesterday you were in deep, deep trouble . . . today you’re on the road, to a great new adventure.”

I shoved myself against the car door and stared out her Cadillac’s windshield, at the interstate highway, which looked exactly like the road to perdition. . .or the stairway to heaven.

Chapter Five
Only Love Can Break Your Heart – Neil Young

I’d not really paid a lot of attention to Paula’s family’s wealth. But I started to see what real money could buy.

The apartment they rented for Mike and me had to be the best available within two miles of the campus and far beyond anything I would have imagined as my college home. The kitchen was straight out of the latest edition of the Williams Sonoma catalog.

It was calming to note two bedrooms. Kate helped me decorate mine in a style fit for a coed. Mike’s, of course, had a much more masculine décor. While my room had a single bed, his had been equipped with a queen-sized mattress.

Kate gave me a deck of credit cards, with instructions to use them to make myself look amazing – including weekly spa and salon visits. She helped me select a small variety of scents and purchased perfume, lotions, deodorants, and powders in each. No expense was scrutinized.

“You are to charge all your food and household expenses to the cards.” Kate beamed. “Arnie and I make a ton of money. We want the best for Mike, and you can help him succeed. To us, every dollar you spend is an investment in our son.”

The trip to the salon and the following days of shopping floated by in a pink, blurry haze. I swung wildly between the sublime and terror. Kate proved to be an exacting taskmaster, sculpting me to be as feminine as my girlfriend. I quickly classified what was happening as a learning exercise and soaked in every word.

The hardest part might have been masking my intense pleasure in what was happening to me. I’ll live my dream for a year. Then I’ll go back to being Errol and eventually marry Paula. Everyone wins!

One day, during our training, while Kate and I were shopping for jewelry for me, we discovered that our hands were very similar in size. She immediately took off one of her rings and gave it to me.

It fit perfectly and felt like a slice of heaven. I loved how it made my hand look.

“Don’t let my other girls know that I gave this ring to you. They’ll tear your eyes out.”

She said “my other girls” as if she thinks of me as. . .. A big chunk of anger and resentment dissolved.

Any reason to resist faded away. I enjoy how I look. I love the process every day of living as a young lady. There isn’t anything that I dislike, except not being around Paula.

I miss her horribly!

On the other hand, I’ve got a great apartment and I don’t have to even think about a part-time job.

One week before classes were to start Mike came to Ann Arbor.

I had spent hours selecting the mustard-colored loose-fitting tunic, swing shift dress that cane to mid-thigh with three-inch hoop earrings and my hair hanging in loose curls.

His initial reaction to me, as a female, seem to be one of wonder. Kate had prepared him. He remained cool, calm, and receptive.

“This is going to be great,” he’d said when he first arrived. “Now you’re not only the smartest person I ever met. But you’re also the prettiest.”

I ducked my head and blushed. That’s due to my doctor’s work. She’s great, gentle, and concerned about my health. She’s more worried about me as a person than she is about trying to make my boobs sprout.

It had been tense, for me, for the first few weeks of school. I didn’t know what to expect -- but Mike acted just like I thought he would have as my roommate -- had all this other stuff not happened.

When Kate left I gratefully kissed her cheek. She had poured a lot of herself into me.

Paula’s letters came every third day – at first. Then weekly, and then about every tenth day. Her fall sport and election to the student council kept her busy. I wrote back to her within hours every time -- telling her as much as I could without telling her anything.

Mom and Dad were curious and polite. They seemed resolved about having a daughter and did what they could to support me. Mom begged until I sent her selfies, which she said she loved. They were happy, once I reported that things were going good with my studies.

Each morning I got up, showered, fixed my hair, made breakfast, applied a pleasant scent, and then gently woke Mike. We had all our classes together as planned and drove ourselves relentlessly to attack the library for cross-reference books and other supplements. Arnie and Kate’s money got us all the learning materials and other support we could possibly use.

We were seeing great results.

Our classmates all seemed sharp. Since grading was said to be on a curve, it would come down to who was the most committed. It became a huge source of personal pride for me to do everything that Kate had taught me, about keeping Mike’s head in the game.

At mid-term we were both at the top of our class.

Mike loved my cooking and was very sweet about trying to help around the house. I had to be stern with him to get him to leave my work to me, so he could do extra studying.

When we studied I would assimilate about 95% of the material the first time I went through an assignment. Mike would absorb about 90%. It was simply a process of applying time for me to take in the other 5% and him the other 10%. And, when I helped him I was overlearning -- and so was he -- making it easier for us to recall what was needed, on tests.

Kate’s lessons did make me appear to be a lady. I got hit on in our classes and around campus. Luckily, Mike went with me wherever I went. I simply pointed toward him and deflected all the unwanted attention.

Actually, after going through Kate’s eight-week boot camp, which was simply amazing at getting me ready for the task at hand, changing gender wasn’t that big of a deal.

Kate made it clear that Skype and Zoom, or anything like them, were out, if I didn’t want Paula to know what I was doing. Kate, Mike, and Arnie evidently had held up their end of the bargain and hadn’t told Paula a thing. By agreement with Kate, Paula and I talked on our phones less than an hour a week in total and did no texting. It had been mutually decided that any more contact than that would cut into our valuable study time.

Because the legal drinking age in Michigan is twenty-one and bars are very strict on checking, if Mike and I went out, it was to a movie or a restaurant. At first, it had been awkward because we were constantly stating to each other that it wasn’t a date. Once we started to simply act like a couple, things became very comfortable and fun.

The other pre-med students called us “geeks” or “gunners.” But we both loved to study and neither of us wanted to be away from our books, too much. Mike’s delightful sense of humor and keen sense of when things had become too much of a grind, kept us grounded.

There were one or two times when I thought I noticed someone talking about me in a negative way. But Mike convinced me I was suffering from false anxiety. He said that they were probably making jealous comments like, “Who does that hot bitch think she is?” or “I wish I could afford to look as good as she does.”

I remembered the doctor stating that anxiety could be a possible side-effect of the drugs and let it go.

I never went out by myself because the university warned all the females about not doing that. My brush with “rape” had scarred me for life. I’m always going to be very careful. I did my shopping online as much as possible. Since our apartment had a doorman, we even had our groceries delivered, after I submitted an order through my device.

It was the third week of November when a letter arrived from Paula. For some reason I just let it sit for about seven hours before opening it. I waited until bedtime and then opened it after I took off my make-up, tied my air in a top-knot, got into my babydoll set, moisturized, rubbed a floral-scented lotion into my hands, and curled up in bed in my room.

Dear Errol,

All my friends told me this day would come. . .and I always told them they were wrong. But they were right.

I’m so sorry. Because you mean so much to me.

I’ve met someone else.

I was at a Friday night football game -- after our afternoon soccer match. We were playing East High and they had a running back who was really, really fast. I said something about wanting to meet him -- and I guess someone who knew him heard me.

The next day he called -- and we went out for a coffee. I was just curious. However, one thing led to another. Before I knew it, he was kissing me.

Then he touched me and electricity shot through my body.

That didn’t ever happen with you, even when you and I did it. We were great. But I always have had this nagging feeling our relationship was missing something. I’m sure you felt the same way and just didn’t say it.

You’re killing it with your grades and will no doubt be a great doctor someday. Neal (that’s his name) will probably drive a garbage truck, after high school.

I’m embarrassed by my base desires. But I also know what I want.

You will have no trouble finding the right person for you.

Your FFL (Friend for Life),


With every word, pain seared my heart.

“It can’t be. It can’t be,” I tried in vain to say, while I sobbed.

My jaws just won’t form words.

Why? Why did Paula do it?

I vaguely remember Mike coming into my room, sitting next to me on my bed, and taking me into his arms. He did everything he could to console me. Thankfully it was a Friday night and we didn’t have classes the next morning.

Time stood still, while I poured my heart out into his shoulder.

His t-shirt was soon soaked with my tears.

“If only I hadn’t taken Traci to prom,” I said when I finally got myself under some control and could actually talk.

“You looked pretty good with Traci,” Mike said. “Who knew that you were actually prettier than her, and a lot nicer.”

“Do you really think I’m nice?” I asked. And pretty?

“Nice. . .?” He laughed. “The last three months, I’ve pinched myself a thousand times. I can’t believe how lucky I am to have you for a roommate. This has been the best time of my life.”


He nodded.

“Same here.” He was still holding me and I snuggled into him.

Mike and I had gym memberships and he hit the weights every day. It was making a difference in his body, which obviously produced a heavy dosage of manly testosterone. His body contrasted with mine, which seemed to get softer every day. He’s also forty pounds heavier than me.

My doctor had told me that my chest was in the “Tanner” second stage, which accounted for shooting pains between my nipples and my shoulders. I was eager to develop more. Because my breast forms seemed incongruent – with me.

Maybe it’s best that Paula dumped me. When I look in the mirror, I see something I don’t think I could ever explain to her – something I’m proud to be. “I love being a girl,” I said.

Mike chuckled lightly.

We never really talk about my transitioning.

“It’s good you love it,” he said, “cuz from everything I’ve seen -- you’re making all the right decisions. You were sometimes moody, in high school. I knew something was wrong. And now, you’ve fixed it. You’re a much happier person.”

“I am.” There will always be a dull ache in my heart for the loss of my first true love. But I can’t let it throw me. Mike and I can’t be distracted from our studies. I know of three boys and one girl who dropped out because of their high school sweetheart.

I looked up at Mike. He’s a perfect three inches taller than me. Then, for the first time, I noticed his beautiful eyes -- and the love that was clearly evident, in them.

Chapter Six
The Look of Love – Dusty Springfield

By the end of the school year, Mike and I were deeply in love. We converted the other bedroom into a workout room and canceled our gym memberships.

We decided to get married ASAP and then we jointly called Kate and told her.

She couldn’t have been nicer and promised to take me to Chicago the first day of our summer vacation, to buy a wedding gown for me.

“Big Arnie” called and teased Mike, in a loving way, that he’d stolen me from Paula. He followed up his phone call, with the delivery of a huge fruit basket with hot-pink kalanchoes.

He’s a big lunk!


We’d been shopping all morning, in a world of sparkling-white satin and lace, and were taking a luncheon break. Kate kept calling me her daughter, which sounded wonderful. Who wouldn’t want a lioness for a mom? The two of us had long ago buried any conflict between us. But I had some questions and she seemed ready to answer them.

“How did you know that I was transgender when no one else, including me, had any idea?”

She smiled. “You had two main girlfriends in high school: Paula and Christine.” She bit into her braised short ribs, displaying a hearty appetite that mocked her tiny frame.

I stuck with my customary salad. “How did you know about Christine?”

“I know everything about my kids -- and about their friends. Christine was a year older than you.”


“I heard a rumor that she broke up with you after she gave you a test she’d read in Cosmopolitan.”

“That’s. . .. No one is supposed to know that.” I shook an accusing finger at her.

“Christine told her mother. She said the main thing was that you waited for her to kiss her good night -- rather than you taking the initiative.”

That was a very bad night for me. I walked home from her house in a daze. “I was just being polite.”

“How much did you like Christine?”

“Almost as much as Paula. She’s not quite as pretty. But they both are a great deal of fun to be with and incredibly smart.”

“Christine is a classic beauty, judging from the pictures her mother showed me.”

“You talked to Mrs. Bjornson?”

“I investigate every case thoroughly.”

“What if Christine kissed me first . . . is that against some law?”

“Just the law of nature. Boys are more aggressive than girls in certain matters. I watched the tape of you and Paula in bed, several times. You were scared to death.”

“I didn’t rape her! I was terrified -- but I didn’t rape her. I could never rape her.” Tears escaped both my eyes. I’ll never put that totally in my past.

“Don’t you think I know that?” She used a tissue to dab my tears. “By the way, Arnie never saw the tape. I never told him a thing about it, or what you and Paula did in her bedroom.”

I’d figured that out for myself. “Big Arnie” would have killed me.

“I also talked to Traci’s mother. There were some issues with Traci’s father that you couldn’t have possibly known about. He died two years ago of cancer. But managed to do some unspeakable things that left Traci in bad psychological shape. Let’s just say I’d love to exhume that creep and prosecute the hell out of him.”

“I had no idea.” That son-of-a-bitch! That explains why she got so frantic when we were kissing the night of our prom. One minute she was sweet and sexy – the next moment she had a look in her eyes like someone had poured ants down her dress. I’d backed off immediately -- but by that time her tears had started running.

Where would I be today if we had gone all the way and she’d become pregnant?

“And you still don’t really know what Traci’s dad did,” she warned, “because I didn’t press for details and have colored in some of the lines, for you.”

“Why --- why did you talk to Traci and Christine’s moms?”

“I had a theory. I like you. I liked you as a boyfriend for Paula because I thought you’d be safe?”

“Why ‘safe?’”

“Because you have a feminine nature and would never be aggressive with her.”

“That’s just your opinion.” I’ve been in and out of a dozen exquisite gowns all morning, and I’m still defending some silly, imagined masculinity.

“No – that’s also the opinion of the other two mothers. We all agreed that you appeared to be a boy who would be more comfortable, in a female role, in most relationships.”

“That seems like thin evidence that I’m transgender.”

“Maybe. . .? Let me ask you some questions. Were there boys in high school, who seemed to hate you for no apparent reason? And, even though you were a popular boy, good-looking, smart, with good prospects, were there girls who wouldn’t give you the time of day?”

I bit my lip. “Are you insinuating that people saw me as feminine?”

“Not everyone. You weren’t overtly feminine. But at your core, at your very base – you appeared to me to be as sweet and feminine -- as you turned out to be.”

“When did you talk to Christine’s mom? And, when did you talk to Traci’s mom?”

“The week you asked Traci to prom, I found Paula in her room bawling her eyes out. I needed answers. Because things didn’t add up. Traci’s mom and I were friends in high school. I started with her. She led me to Christine’s mother. I had spoken to both of them. Before your prom.”

“If they thought I was a feminine person, did that mean they didn’t want me around their daughters?”

She smiled. “On the contrary. Being feminine, in the way you are, is a blessing. We all meant it as a compliment. Both of them wished you had worked out, with their daughters. They think you’re a terrific person. Especially Traci’s mom.”

I always thought she liked me more than Traci did. “Did you set me up to have sex with Paula?”

“No – she came up with that stupid idea on her own, to secure you as a life-long boyfriend. Had I known what she was thinking about -- I’m not sure what I would have done. Do they still sell chastity belts?”

I giggled. “I have no idea.”

“Amazon probably sells them online,” she speculated. “But after you and Paula -- happened, I saw an opportunity to increase the odds that three of my children could find happiness.”

“What do you mean?”

“You were a bad match for Paula. She loved you only as long as she thought you were someone who could give her new experiences every day. When her sexual needs were awakened, you simply were not cut out to fulfill her base wants.”

“How can you be so sure of that?”

“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. People wonder out loud sometimes about Arnie and me being a mismatch. Arnie is truly marvelous in bed, and I have never doubted my decision to marry him.”

Mike evidently hasn’t fallen far from Arnie’s tree, either. Paula wasn’t wrong about sex getting better with practice. I mentally orgasm just thinking about the marvelous, mind-blowing things Mike does to me in bed.

Kate threw her arms around me and spoke fervently. “The worst part of last summer was when you thought that I’d had you chemically castrated. Several times during our road trip to college I wanted to stop my car and give you a hug. I had all I could do not to ruin everything, by telling you the truth.”

I was very angry during that trip.

She continued to embrace me. “My sister and I were ready for you to put up a fight, when she came at you, with that first shot. We were both shocked when you meekly pulled down your pants. Had you argued at all -- we would have backed down. Having you take drugs wasn’t an integral part, of the overall goal.”

“I was confused and scared. I needed you to motivate me, to be myself.”

She nodded. “The trouble is there’s so little difference between motivation and manipulation. Everything would have imploded had we become the drivers – instead of you. You had to control your trip toward self-awareness.”

She’s right.

“We gave you a very low dosage, a level that could have been easily reversed. It wasn’t until nearly Christmas, when I came to see you and Mike, that it was clear you had fully adapted. That next week your shot and pills were maximized and things were done that couldn’t easily, if at all. Be undone.”

“You did exactly the right things,” I allowed and squeezed her back. “Thanks to your financial support I’m going to have the necessary surgeries this summer to become Mike’s true and lasting partner.”

“I had many, many sleepless nights worrying about you.” She smiled, while she released me. “I’m so glad everything worked out right.”

We separated -- but continued to hold hands.

For the first time, I can see unconditional love, for me, in her eyes. “But you said ‘three’ of your children?’ Paula was one. . .I suppose you mean Mike as the other. . .and. . ..”

“Yes, I knew if Mike couldn’t find a way to love you, he would go through life not knowing his soulmate. He’s not gay -- but he’s always loved you.”

“How did you know?”

“He hid it well. But ever since you guys were in the fifth-grade and you won that county spelling contest -- he’s hero-worshipped you.”

“That’s a big step removed from love.”

She shook her head. “I told you -- I know everything that goes on, in my house. Mike has a huge scrapbook he’s kept about you. It has over a hundred pages of accomplishments. I’ll bet even you don’t remember doing many of them. You can do no wrong in his eyes and never could. I think Mike picked the perfect person, to go through life with.”

I blushed deeply. “Thank you.”

Kate laughed. “I knew you’d eventually get around to saying that.”

A tear of joy ran down my cheek. “But. . .who was your third child that found happiness?”

She embraced me and whispered, in my ear. “Why. . .you, of course.”

Of course. “You’re the master at knowing what’s best for people. But how could have you known that Cindy would beat me putting that puzzle together?”

She laughed. “That was the easiest part. Two things. The first was using a classic jigsaw puzzle. Although the two puzzles we used for the contest were new, there was a third one, just like them, in our game closet. Cindy had put that same puzzle together four times when she was twelve. Before you even met Paula.”

“That would be an advantage,” I granted.

“I told Cindy we were playing a fun trick on you and she went along with it.”

I thought back to what a stinker Cindy could be and readily accepted her collusion.

Kate grinned. “It was even more critical that I slipped a dozen pieces of your puzzle into my pocket. I snuck them from several of the colored piles you had on your table. You were eating the lunch I’d made for you, in the other room. You wasted a lot of time looking, in vain, for puzzle pieces that I had hidden.”

“Losing that contest was sort of like the frustration I felt trying to complete a male ‘life’ puzzle, with missing pieces.”

Mike and I were meant for each other.

There’s great satisfaction when your life puzzle comes together.

The End

If you’ve enjoyed this story, please leave a kudos and a comment. They mean a lot to me.

Thanks to Gabi for the review and help.

I have donated a group of stories to BC to help generate revenue for this site. Erin has said that these stories have raised tens of thousands of dollars in revenue for BC. I don’t receive any of that revenue.

If you buy a book from this list, you’re supporting this site.

Stories available through Doppler Press on Amazon:
Shannon’s Course
The Novitiate
Ma Cherie Amour
Texas Two-Step
All Those Things You Always Pined For
Swifter, Higher, Stronger
Basketball Is Life
Baseball Annie
The Girl Who Saved Aunt T’s
She Like Me
How You Play the Game
Hair Soup
Imperfect Futures
Voices Carry
Andy and Dawn
The Handshake That Hides the Snake

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A nice twist at the end

Dee Sylvan's picture

This was very enjoyable Angela. I nearly stopped at the puzzle bet, it didn't seem plausible. But as it turned out, Errol was in a win-win situation with the bet and it was Kate's way to allow him to let his secret out. I was glad to hear that Kate had only hidden a few puzzle pieces. When I first read that part, I wondered if Errol had been drugged at lunch. It did seem like an obvious love mismatch between Paula and Errol if we are going to judge by their first encounter. It was certainly easier for Rachel to receive a letter from Paula than to delay the inevitable.

I have read all of your books on Amazon and like them all. If it is was me ranking your Amazon Books, I would probably swap Shannon's Course for Uncivil in your ranking. Please keep writing. Dee



Shannon's Course and Uncivil both took a great deal of research. It's easier for me to write about things I know little about than those I think I know a lot about and really don't.

This story is largely autobiographical but it required a great deal of thought. Through writing it I was able to answer a lot of questions about my life.

Thank you for commenting.


Angela Rasch (Jill M I)

Yet again ...

... Angela has found a new angle and, as usual, executed it to perfection. I suppose Kate's devious (and very unethical) plans just go to show us never to trust a lawyer completely even though her motives were to some extent laudable.

Lovely story and it helped to distract me from the social isolation we're experiencing here in the UK. It's our 53rd wedding anniversary tomorrow but there'll be few celebrations this year just the deep comfort of enjoying each other's company.



PS of all your stories I think Peaches is the best. I must read it again. But you don't have a bad one so making a choice is difficult.

The Mother-In-Law From Hell

joannebarbarella's picture

I wouldn't want to be married into a family with a woman like that pulling the strings.

Rachel was toast from the beginning.

Other than that it was a good story!

Not sure the term "forced fem" applies here

laika's picture

Seems like the feminizing part of Kate's plans for Rachel was the only thing that wasn't forced. Not really. More like femme-forced-out-of-denial, which maybe should be a category tag for tales like this. Rachel had to be taught to stop compartmentalizing her thoughts about her true gender by thinking them in italics and then promptly tucking them away out of sight of her conscious identity. It's something I did a lot of when I was 18 (and 28, and 38...) because feeling like I'm female felt so forbidden, and so impractical. If not for the lawyer lady's machinations Rachel probably would have done like I did and continued plodding through life being the person her parents and friends assumed she was. Kate's scheme was a blessing for Rachel, and yet I still don't like the woman. Nobody has the right to make those kinds of decisions for someone else.

Another excellent story Jill. I need feel-good endings like this these days. In terms of my own subjective enjoyment I'd rate this as a B (for comparison, UNCIVIL felt like an A+; tho' I'm not sure what made the difference...). And while numbered chapters might not have been necessary for a story this short I found them handy for keeping my place while I did my laundry this morning.
~hugs, Veronica

(This was much better than my story of the same title, which features Archie Bunker in drag. I'm such a Meathead sometimes i'm gonna go stifle now...)

I could see that coming

But then I've read all of Angela's stories and books and had faith that Errol/Rachel would win out in the end. As usual those that seem to be friends aren't and those that dont turn out to help. I really suspect Errol would have found a way to lose the challenge even if all the pieces were there.
I do find it strange that so few have given kudos. I will assume that the length of the story and the forced fem opening put some folks off and some may just not have finished it yet. So break out those kudos readers.

Visit my Caption Blog: Dawn's Girly Site

Visit my Amazon Page: D R Jehs

Mean Rotten Characters

It's been a while since I pushed so many horrible people into one story. Maybe as long ago as Shannon's Course. I've written several stories like this where nasty people do nasty things. Maybe there's something in the Twin Cities water that I, and the Coen brothers, drink.

If the definition of a good story is one where everyone is in a race for sainthood, the gentle readers should beware that is NOT always going to be the case.

I like to take strong characters and put them under pressure to see what they will do.

All you really need to do is ask yourself this -- if Rachel had NOT been trans and had snapped under the pressure and had committed suicide -- and the facts had come forward, would Kate have been charged with manslaughter? I would truly hope so.

But then - how about the doctors, Rachel's parents, and Mike. Who was tending to Rachel? I've raised four children. Eighteen is NOT the time to take off the training wheels. If Mike truly loved Rachel wouldn't he have smelled a rat?

Rachel also had her flaws. For being so smart how could have she been so stupid as to be forced into anything over statutory rape. Had Rachel gone to an attorney the attorney's advice would have been to get a copy of the agreement and then proceed against the Wexler's for wrongful coercion. In many states, there are Romeo and Juliet laws, which exempts an eighteen-year old, who has sex with a sixteen-year old, that they've had a long relationship with. Rachel also shouldn't have allowed Paula to push her into sex, when she clearly wasn't ready for it. (That much was utter fiction. I was a virgin until the Vietnam War made sex a free-for-all.)

And, Rachel should have been more forthright with Paula before asking Christine to the prom.

That part of the story was ripped right out of my life. I didn't find out until forty-five years later that Christine's dad was sexually abusing her. She was adopted, which I guess made the father think what he was doing was okay.

Paula and I weren't a match. We would have made each other miserable. It took decades for my broken heart to accept that truth.

The purpose of this story was to place everything in a more modern era to see what would have happened.

I'm glad I was a child of the sixties.

I know this is a good story worthy of kudos, from all but a few weak-stomached readers. After writing over a hundred stories I also know there as zero correlation between a good story and the number of kudos.

Kudos has more to do with genre than style or quality of writing.

I once wrote a story under another name -- pushing all the kudos buttons and proved my thesis.

Well-written stories can receive kudos and do, sometimes.

I also think that if you want to max out on kudos you will write your story, post it as a completed serial, keep the chapters to under 1,500 words and post a chapter a day. That way people won't download your story -- and never come back to leave a kudos or comment.


Angela Rasch (Jill M I)

Backed away at the beginning

BarbieLee's picture

Jill, you're better than an excellent writer. I had no idea where you was taking this one. Forced fem is an off switch for me. Which makes me a hypocrite. From around age five to fourteen I dreamed of being kidnapped and turned into a real girl. I made deals with God if I could be a real girl for a year He could have the rest of my life. Neither option panned out but that's life.

I kept coming back reading a few paragraphs at a time hating the direction of the story, loving the author. Life sucks, that's a given, the Cinderella parts of life some of us get are too short, certainly not life long. You posted hints all the way through this is what Errol secretly wanted. I can live with that. The writing skills are one hundred percent Jill. Double gotchu. as your stories come to life. I wasn't reading the story, I was in there with your actors and actresses. Did the end justify the means? Jury is still out on that one.
Hugs hon, you're one heck of a story writer. The true worth of a story isn't did the reader like or dislike it. It's how emotional the reader got involved with the tale. Trust me, I was emotionally involved.

Oklahoma born and raised cowgirl

An Excellent Reader

Readers have a right to have their contract th the author fulfilled. I agreed to provide a logical story that develops the characters to a conclusion that matches the exposed facts. A beginning, a middle, and a fitting end must be stitched together. Since I didn't end the story with "and they lived happily ever after" the reader is left to draw their own conclusions.

Thank you for being a discerning reader.

Angela Rasch (Jill M I)

Like you, I found the first roughly half hard to read...

But, knowing Angie, and trusting her, I persevered.

I think Rachel had the right idea about her children never meeting her mother in law, though: good intentions or not, manipulative tactics to that degree go well beyond the scope of what is okay, and a matriarch that domineering is NOT a good role model for anyone involved.

One of Angie's talents as an author is to write stories that I can love even when they make me uncomfortable. Almost every story she's written has had that bittersweet quality to it, with no flawless characters and a lot of questionable decision-making from all parties. It's what makes so many of her stories more interesting . . . and more memorable.

Melanie E.

At first I didn’t care for

At first I didn’t care for this story but as I got into it I really enjoyed it.
Thank you.

Same Here

At first. . .when I lived much of it, I really hated this story. Thanks for commenting.


Angela Rasch (Jill M I)

Forced to face himself, unknowingly

Jamie Lee's picture

Kate is right, Paula needs caged. She's a danger to any boy who can't think with the brain between his ears.

Somewhere Paula got the idea that only if she "put out" could she find a boyfriend. Wonder if it ever occurred to her to just be herself? That sex would come later if that's what they wanted.

At first, Kate came across as one cold bitch. Spying on Paula with a mini-cam in Paula's room. Her idea of a chastity belt for Paula may be more than a good idea.

Errol never had any evidence that Kate had a video of him and Paula, and Kate never let on that she didn't. But she used that idea as a means to get Errol to face what others saw in him, Rachel.

While Errol had always wanted to be a girl, according to him, facing that want had never occurred to him. When Kate "forced" him to face his inner desire, though by cheating at one point, he was naturally angry.

But as Kate predicted, Rachel eventually thanked her for making Errol face his desires. And become happier than she'd ever been.

Others have feelings too.

I disagree on him being a rapist

KateElizabethSuhr13's picture

Not sure all the state laws about this but this is how it should go. If a person is 18 but the other is at least 15 or 16 and knew each other and or dated each other before one turned 18, legally it should not be considered statutory rape. I think some states call it the Romeo and Juliet law. I mean it's not fair to say one is a sex offender for having sex with someone who just not too long ago they both were minors but now one is just slightly legal. Now if the one person was say like 21 or something and the other 16 then that definitely is statutory rape because they definitely did not date before either turned 18.

You Can Disagree

But I checked the statute in the fictional state before I published and that is their law.

When I was eighteen I dated a sixteen-year-old and had no idea about the law.

I do know of one boy who was prosecuted under the law. He didn't serve time but went through he'll for a few years.

Wikipedia has an age of consent map.


Angela Rasch (Jill M I)