Plus-One With A Vengeance : 9 / 29

Plus-One With A Vengeance : 9 / 29

[ An Altered Fates Story ]
by Iolanthe Portmanteaux


“Look! There’s the very bear I’ve always wanted.”
— Don Freeman, Corduroy


In spite of the strange and awkward moments, I enjoyed the day. Spending time with Vivianne was such a new experience, even apart from my being in the guise of a ten-year-old. Being treated like a child, being treated as a girl, was all new — it gave me much food for thought. At times I felt embarrassed or a little confused. I found myself repeatedly wishing I could re-do some of my conversations; the ones where I forgot myself and spoke as an adult -- making me seem like a foolish child. It was comical in a way -- it would have been more comical if it happened to someone else, but even so, all in all, it was a good day.

It was a good day, that is, until my conversation with Max. Previous to the call, I wasn't exactly flying, but Max's reactions and comments brought me crashing to earth.

"Does it make you want to quit?" Vivianne asked me. "Forget entirely about Max's need for a plus-one?"

"Uh..." I consulted my thoughts and feelings for a moment — a very brief moment — and told her, "No, I still want to continue."

She nodded. "I have to confess, I'm having a difficult time understanding my nephew," Viv confided. "This is all for him, and yet he acts as if it's a tremendous intrusion. Why isn't he simply grateful?" She turned to me as spoke, her brow contracted with concern and incomprehension, her lips tight in a frown of frustration.

I couldn't help but chuckle. "Seriously?" I asked her. "You have to be kidding!" Viv stiffened in surprise at my reaction.

"First of all," I told her, "You come out of left field with a magic necklace that turns grown men into little girls. Already we're off to the races! Then you use the thing on him, much to his surprise and horror. To round it all off, after he feels he's narrowly escaped, he finds out that you've done the same thing to me! All in the space of twenty-hour hours! This is not your normal weekend!"

Viv was quiet for a moment. I couldn't tell whether she was processing what I'd said or ignoring it and waiting to see if I had more.

At last she said, "Yes, I've already admitted that I miscalculated his reaction. I've apologized to him. I changed him back. That said, there is no way that I can turn back the clock and make it un-happen. It *did* happen, and he'll have to get over it."

It was my turn to reflect in silence for a few moments.

Then she added, "While we're sharing blame, I'd like you keep in mind that it was *you* who spilled the beans here, by calling your friend Kitty into the situation."

A few objections came to mind, principally the fact that Max would have found out in any case: I would have told him. And yet, in that case, he wouldn't have seen the photo, and probably wouldn't have been so strongly triggered. As I considered these points, I saw that I didn't have a very strong line of defense.

She paused for a moment, then added, "There's one final point I'd like to make: I believe that *you* will come to feel grateful for the fact that Max had this experience — and even for the fact that he disliked it so intensely — because it will help him understand the sacrifice that you are making for him."

Viv reached out and put her hand over mine. I didn't resist. In spite of her stiff resistance to what I said, and in spite of her strict apportioning of blame (some to her, some to me), I felt a odd feeling of silent communion, a moment of we're all in this together. Then Viv gave my hand a squeeze. She smiled, and asked me whether I'd found a woman's body to emulate. I told her I'd forgotten.

"Unfortunately, so have I," she confessed, and she led me to a display window featuring a selection of expensive-looking clothes. "Let's just go by styles and sizes," she said. "But first I have to make a phone call. Can you stay right here and window-shop? I'm going to take a few steps that way, over by that plant. I'll only be a minute. I'll have my eyes on you the entire time, so don't worry."

"I'm not worried," I told her. She didn't like that response: she gave a mild disapproving shake of her head, but didn't say anything. I'm not a stupid child, I objected silently.

She moved away a few yards to make her call. I studied the window display for a few minutes. Nothing jumped out at me. The clothes were attractive, but how on earth was I supposed to make an informed decision? Sighing, I turned my back to the fashion and leaned against a bit of wall. I could see Viv talking on her phone, her eyes glued on me. I scanned the shoppers as they passed. It seemed the demographic was different in this part of the mall; more along the lines of what we were looking for. Earlier, all the women I saw were good looking, but older than I needed to be. Now, all the women looked in their late twenties or early thirties; all of them lovely. Any of them would be perfect. I was hard-pressed to chose one above the others. Was I supposed to pick a woman who was attractive to me? Or one who'd be attractive to Max? Was there such a thing as objectively attractive? Maybe I should aim for a body like Kitty's. She seemed to be universally desired. At least, she was when we were in high school.

... or... another possibility occurred to me; one that seemed almost blasphemous. Should I look for a body like Amber's? After all, Max did say that what first attracted him was her body. I tried to picture her physique, her build, her curves, but the thoughts and pictures were so disagreeable that I shook my head until all the Amber was gone from my inner screen.

Viv returned to me and said, "I had a little talk with Max's mother, Melissa. She's going to stop in and visit Max and make sure he's all right. She'll give me a call when she can."

I was glad of that, but it brought up an obvious question. "Does Melissa — Max's mother — does she know about the whole little-girl thing?"

For the first time, Viv looked uncomfortable. "Now she does. She didn't before. She's known about the Medallion of Zulo for some time, but she's never seen it work. Consequently, she doesn't quite believe it." She took a breath and looked me in the eyes. "I told her exactly what happened, but I got the impression that she thinks I hypnotized Max — the same thought you had, initially." She thought for a moment. "In the end, it may not make any difference. If they're both angry at me, it will make it easier for Max to get over his trauma."

"How do you figure that?"

She seemed surprised at my question. "Feeling angry is a step in the right direction. It focuses your energies."

I filed her answer away. I'd have to think about it later. Right now I told her, "Whatever he's feeling now, I hope he can get over his aversion to me as a girl. I get the feeling that *my* being female freaks him out. Not as much as *his* being female, but still..." I looked her in the face, and somewhat apologetically confided, "I can see why you saw this as a solution, but if he's uncomfortable with me in a woman's body, it's not going to solve his problem. It could even give us a new one."

"A new problem? What would that be?"

"It might ruin our friendship," I said. "He might not be able to see me in the same way, ever again."

Viv was silent, pondering.

"You didn't think of that, did you?" I asked.

Clearly irritated, she snapped, "Frankly, honestly, no, I didn't. You two seemed so perfectly matched as friends, I couldn't imagine a few transformations getting in your way." She looked past the items in the shop window, turning her head this way and that so she could see the merchandise inside. Then she continued speaking.

"I have to say, in my experience, that people don't, as a rule, react negatively to the medallion's changes. Most of them are surprised, many are shocked, but after the initial reaction, they give it a go. A small number never want to change back — and I ought to tell you for your own sake, that sometimes it's not even possible."

"Not possible?" I repeated with some alarm. "Not possible to change back? Why wouldn't it be possible?"

"There was one young man who — voluntarily, I might add — was changed into a young woman, and pretty quickly got herself pregnant."

"So... if a transformed person gets pregnant, they can't change back?"

"No — pregnant women can't change at all. Neither can a woman on her period, although that's a condition that passes."

"So does pregnancy. It passes after nine months."

"That's true. But do you really think a mother could abandon her child that easily? She'd have to go through nine months of pregnancy, and then some additional time beyond that, until her hormones return more or less to normal." She gave a half-nod, half-shrug. "I'm sure it could happen. I mean, certainly the mother of an infant can transform. It's happened. It's probably happened that someone transformed for the purpose of abandoning their family, but it hasn't happened on my watch. And, to be honest, I am aware of anecdotes in which the medallion was used vindictively or cruelly — I'm talking specifically about conflicts between husbands and wives or children and parents — but I've never used it that way."

She looked at me. I guess she was waiting for a reaction, but I just stood there big-eyed, listening. So she smiled and said, "Let's go in here and get this done. We'll go for slim build — slender body, nice curves, good breasts and butt, but nothing extreme."

"Okay," I said. "Sounds good."

"You're an easy sell," she laughed.

We bought what was to me a jaw-droppingly expensive black sleeveless mesh bodycon minidress. I know; it's a mouthful. Viv explained that we needed clothes that really define the shape we wanted.

"We can also tweak the look, once the changes are set," she told me. "You'll see what I mean."

The dress was a size four, like one of the salesgirls. Viv also picked up a pair of size eight shoes ("Small feet are attractive"). She then took some time choosing the right underwear and bra. After that, her last purchase was a very sexy one-piece bathing suit. "This will define you like nothing else," she remarked.

"Are we done buying clothes?" I asked.

"For now, yes. If you're going to be Max's date, you'll need a more extensive wardrobe, but that's for another day, *if* you decide to go through with the whole scheme."

"I can pay you back," I told her. "For all this. I've got a fair amount of money in the bank."

"It's good of you to offer," she said, "but it isn't necessary. I'm doing this to help my nephew."

"So am I," I said, and she gave me a smile.



We wandered the mall aimlessly after that. My energy was fading.

"We need a little snack, a little pick-me-up," Viv said. "But first, there's a gift I need to buy you. Follow me."

She walked into a toy store, a long, narrow store that reminded me of a railroad car. The aisles were constricted, high, and packed with merchandise. Viv kept going, deeper into the store, until she arrived at a section full of teddy bears. "We need to get you a teddy bear."

"Oh, come on!" I scoffed.

"You're a little girl, you need a teddy bear," she insisted, with a little smile.

"Honestly, I don't—"

"Humor me," Viv said. "We're not leaving until you choose a teddy bear."

At that, I reached out and grabbed the nearest bear. "Done!"

"No," she said. "You need to choose one. You need to find a bear that's special to you."

Sighing, I put the first bear back. I pretended to look for a few moments, then grabbed another. "Found it!" I declared, smiling.

"Nice try," she observed, in a dry tone. "Now do it for real. Show some sincerity."

I looked through the bears, scanning slowly along the rows, looking into their faces, when suddenly... it seemed as though one of the bears looked back at me. I know it didn't really, but the face of the bear was so vivid and lively that it stood out from all the others. Its face wasn't funny or goofy. It was like a puppy's — open, expectant, looking to you to define the mood. It was small, smaller than the others, and incredibly soft. I picked it up, felt its softness, and pressed it against my cheek.

"This is the one," I told Viv. She didn't say anything. She just nodded and led me to the cashier.

From there we went to the food court. "You pick," she told me. I pointed to the Chinese place, which is my usual choice. You can get a lot of food for very little money. I had them load my plate with fried rice, beef with oyster sauce, and chicken with black bean sauce. "That's a lot of food for a little girl!" the cashier exclaimed. "If you really eat it all, you and your mother eat for free!"

"It's a deal!" I laughed.

Of course, I couldn't even get halfway through before I was thoroughly full.

"I just meant to get a snack," Viv said. "But if you want, we could get you one of those fourteen-inch pizzas you were talking about earlier."

I groaned. "I actually feel the lump of food in my tummy."

Viv cocked her head. "Interesting," she observed. "You said tummy — that's a little-girl word."

"I guess," I sighed, "Anyway, I'm full to the brim." An inelegant burp! escaped my lips.



Viv's driver came to pick us up. On the way back to her house, she called Melissa, to find out how Max was doing.

"He's fine," she told me after. "Both his parents went to visit him. Melissa's making him dinner. Some favorite of his."

"That's good."

"He'll go over to their house tomorrow morning for breakfast, and then they'll take a drive together."

"That sounds really nice. I'm glad he won't be alone."



I thought Vivianne was going to change me into a grown-up woman as soon as we got home, but no. "As it happens, I have one more young-girl experience planned for you tomorrow, and once you're finished, we can change you to a grown-up girl, somewhere around dinner time."

The evening wasn't remarkable, aside from the fact that I was inhabiting a different body. One of the experiences Viv wanted me to have was that of falling asleep and waking up as someone else. She was right: waking up in an unfamiliar body is as strange and momentarily bewildering as you can imagine. There's this disorientation — the disconnect between who I'm used to being (Elliot) and who I temporarily am (Darcy).

When I woke, I was clutching the teddy bear, which shocked me at first, but it did serve to show me that my memories of yesterday were real. I considered for a moment naming the bear Objective Correlative, but it was far too heady and un-cute.

The night before, Viv had laid out my clothes for today: a pair of khaki-colored cuffed shorts, a light blue t-shirt, and a pair of red sneakers. Again, everything fit me perfectly.

She'd arranged for me to spend the day with the daughter of a friend, a girl my age named Isabella, and the two of us were dropped off at the amusement park just beyond the Outlerland Mall. The story she told her friend and Isabella was that my father was being transferred to China for his job in the diplomatic service, and that today was one of my last days in the States. The story seemed an over-elaborate, obvious lie, but I understood that the intention was to explain to Isabella why we'd never see each other again.

(This activity was actually planned for Max; it didn't happen for him because he'd short-circuited Vivianne's plans by rejecting the transformation at the very outset.)

Isabella and I really hit it off. She was active, funny, and full of ideas. As we approached the first of the rollercoasters, she asked me whether I knew how to scream.

"I guess so," I said.

"Hmm," she replied. "Guess so isn't good enough. I think we need to practice." She led me around behind one of the rides to a spot where there were no people, and said, "Listen." She took a deep breath, then emptied her lungs with a high-pitched, ear-splitting shriek that would have done a banshee proud.

"Now you," she said, grinning broadly.

Not to be outdone, I too took a deep breath and hit the highest, loudest, longest note I could manage. I shocked myself with the quality and force of that howl, and Isabella was pleased.

"Now together! Ready?"

The two of us nodded one, two, three, pulled deep deep breaths, and screamed our lungs out. After which we burst into laughter, laughing until our stomachs hurt.

An older man, a park employee, came cautiously peeking around the corner at us, his eyes large as saucers. "What in tarnation's going on back here?" he asked. "I thought somebody was getting murdered, with the sound you girls were making! I was ready to call the cops!"

"We're just practicing for the rollercoaster," Isabella explained.

"I don't think you need any more practice! Now, spare my heart and save all of that for the rides! Please!"

We apologized, laughing. He winked at us and went away. We took our screams to the rollercoasters, of which there were five. Isabella sorted them by level of fright. She chose well: on the last two, screaming wasn't an effort — the rides were truly I-think-I-might-die terrifying. We sat in front so we wouldn't blow out anyone's eardrums.

After lunch, we went on the water slides, screaming there as well, though it wasn't as satisfying — the slides were covered, so the sound didn't carry anywhere.

Isabella also introduced me to churros, which I'd never heard of before, but went mad for. She had to stop me from going back for thirds.

Viv came to pick us up, all too soon, and I was genuinely disappointed. To tell the truth, it's not as though I got to know Isabella at all, but we had a lot of fun, and I knew that I'd miss her — at the same time knowing that I'd never turn back into Darcy ever again. She gave me her email address and asked me to write and send pictures of China. I told her I would, knowing it was a lie.

We hugged and laughed as Viv dropped her home.

Viv drove. I sat in the back seat in a funk.

"What's wrong?" Vivianne asked. "Didn't you have a good time? I thought that you'd like to have another childhood memory for when you're a grown woman. Also, you've had more experience living in another body, this time apart from me."

"That's all well and good," I admitted, "and I appreciate your having gone to the trouble, but—"

"But what?"

I struggled to put it into words.

"That little girl, Isabella — I just lied to her face. it was wrong to deceive her."

Viv looked at me in the rear-view mirror. "What alternative did we have?"

"I didn't have to go with her at all. That would have been better. Now she'll always wonder why Darcy never wrote, after the fun they had together."

Viv didn't look at me and didn't respond.

"Where did you get that thing, anyway?"

"What thing? The medallion?"

"Yes. Where does it come from?"

"I don't think anyone knows where it comes from, or how it really works."

"But how did *you* get it?"

"Hmm," she said. "I'll tell you the story, even though there are some elements that put me in a bad light. For now, let's just say that someone I knew used it to escape the consequences of a crime, and left the medallion with me."

"Sounds intriguing."

"It is. I think it's an interesting story," she admitted.

"Aren't you going to tell it to me?"

"Not at your present age, no. Apart from the criminal element, there are some parts of the story that are very... strong, sexually, and none of it is appropriate for a girl your age to hear."

"But I'm NOT a girl my age!" I protested. "I'm grown man! You know this!"

Vivianne, incensed, pulled over to the side of the road and killed the engine. She turned to look at me. "You are NOT a grown man, regardless of your memories and experience! You are a ten-year-old girl! If you get out of this car, would you be able to convince anyone to give you a job as a software developer? Would you be able to drive your own car? I don't think your feet would even reach the pedals!"

"What are you talking about?" I shouted back. "This is not who I am! This is only temporary!"

Vivianne calmed herself, holding up her outstretched palms in a gesture of let's slow this down.

"Listen, Elliot-slash-Darcy: I'm sorry that I got upset a moment ago, but I find it highly frustrating that you continue to not understand. You take this—" she gestured at my current physical makeup "—as temporary, as if you're only wearing a costume, playing a part. What you're doing is a form of denial. You're using this idea of temporary to pretend that this isn't real."

"I think you're making a big deal out of nothing," I told her.

"Max understood," she told me. "He understood viscerally."

"And he hated it," I pointed out.

"That's because he understood," she repeated slowly. In a normal tone, she went on. "What I would like you to think about is this: if I don't change you back, you will be Darcy forever. Do you realize that?"

My brow darkened. "Is that a threat?"

"No, of course it's not a threat. I want you to think about that AFTER I change you back, when you're Elliot once again." She looked me in the face, looking for some kind of recognition of what she'd said. Not seeing it, she added, "I'm trying to make you see that you are trading fates, so to speak; you actually become someone else."

She waited a moment, and when I didn't reply, she turned to face front, started the engine, and continued to her home.

"So, did you and Isabella have a good time?" she asked.

"Yes, we really hit it off. That's what makes it so sad."

"Still, you both had fun, didn't you?"

"Yes, but under false pretenses."

Viv didn't answer. I found myself saying this: "It bothers me the way you play with other people's lives."

"I don't play," she contested. "I don't change people on a whim. They've either asked for it, or I've made a considered determination on their behalf."

"What gives you the right?"

"I don't think of it that way. It's not a right. I have the medallion. I can use it — and hopefully I *do* use it — to make people's lives better."

I didn't answer.

"You're thinking about Max, aren't you. I've told you: I regret that deeply," Viv confessed. "I tried to tell him what would happen, but you know yourself that it's hard to explain."

"You could have turned him into a little boy — THAT might have been less shocking."

Startled by the idea, she admitted, "It never occurred to me!" She smiled and told me, "You should tell Max that you told me that."

I looked out the window, watching the houses go by. After a pause, Vivianne spoke again. "Right now, I possess the medallion. I don't know whether it's the only one in the world. I don't know where it comes from, how it was made, or how it actually works. I DO know that it's extremely powerful, and because of that, I often wish I could pass it on to someone else. It's more responsibility than I sometimes care to carry."

"Who would you give it to?"

"That's the million-dollar question! Who, indeed? I honestly believe that Max is the first and only person that I've harmed with the medallion, and I will try to somehow make it up to him, or at least help him get over it. If I possibly can.

"There's another thing I'm sure of: in the hands of someone else, someone less careful, someone with bad intentions, the medallion could easily do untold harm. Preventing that is part of my responsibility."

"Have you considered destroying it?"


"I don't know."

"It might break into pieces that are more dangerous than the whole. And wherever I could hide it, someone could find it."

I was silent, but I did have the thought, What about the bottom of the ocean? I pictured Viv on an ocean liner, in the middle of the Atlantic, dropping the medallion over the side.

Then she said, "I have one last consideration that I'll share with you. It's possible that someone, somewhere, is trapped in a bad transformation, and the medallion is their only hope of returning to normal life. I wouldn't want to be the one who destroyed a person's last, most desperate hope."



When we arrived at her house and parked in her garage, Viv told me, "Wait a moment before you get out of the car. Do you still want to be transformed into a grown woman? We can do that now, but only if you want it. If you'd rather return right away to being Elliot, I'll understand."

"I'll admit I'm in a strange mood at the moment," I observed.

"Yes," she admitted, "and before you decide, there's something else you need to know — I invited Max's mother here."

"Melissa?" I exclaimed.

"She doesn't know why I've asked her at this point, and she's not here yet. My reason for inviting her was that if you are going to be Max's plus-one at the wedding, I reasoned that you'll need someone like Melissa to help you learn to play the part. Now, if any of that is going to be a problem—"

I didn't hesitate. "No, that's fine. It's... thoughtful of you. Thanks. I would like her here."

"Also, she's never seen a transformation, so she doesn't really believe it."

I laughed.

"So, to be perfectly clear, I'm asking for your informed consent: Are you ready to be transformed into a grown woman in the presence of Max's mother Melissa, and for her to know that you are really Elliot Beekman?"

"Yes," I said. "Yes, to all that."

"Good!" she exclaimed, and opened her door. Then turning to me, she smiled and said, "You are the most serious little girl I've ever met." I laughed.



When Melissa saw me, her eyes nearly popped out of her head. Then she squealed like a teenager and hugged me like her favorite ragdoll, lifting my feet off the ground and rocking me back and forth. I tried to go along with it; I wanted her to enjoy whatever it was she imagined this to be, but she was squeezing the life out of me! At last Vivianne gently told her, "Let the girl take a breath, Melissa."

At that, Melissa backed off from the hug, and took me by the shoulders, staring me in the face. "Oh my God!" she cried. "Look at that little face! Look at that adorable face!" She scrunched up my cheeks in her hand and very nearly grabbed me in another death hug. Vivianne waved her off.

"There's plenty more to see, Mel," she reminded her.

"Wait! Wait!" Melissa exclaimed excitedly. "I need a selfie with me and— with— with Darcy!"

"I'll send you a photo," I told her, and showed her the one with Kitty.

"Oh, Kitty," she said in a disappointed voice. "I never liked that girl. Will I be able to crop her out? Can you?"

"You don't like Kitty?" I asked, surprised.

"Oh, I know you boys love her," she scoffed, "but there was always something about her that never convinced me." Still, she said she'd accept the photo and let it go at that.

The three of us gathered in Vivianne's fitting room. Viv gave me a silk kimono-style robe to wear so that I'd have "room to grow."

"This process is going to have two steps," Viv explained. "First the transformation, which will take a half an hour. Then the tweaks, which take less."

She put the medallion around my neck, then touched it with the dress we'd bought. In a few moments, the changes began. This time I wanted to watch Melissa's face instead of my own changes in the mirror. Melissa's face is very expressive, and sometimes I had a hard time not laughing at the succession of her expressions of astonishment, awe, and glee. I checked on my own progress in the mirror as well. I grew taller inch by inch until I was five-eight or five-nine. My mouth fell open when my breasts and hips appeared... and swelled to their full sizes.

"Oh, dear God!" Melissa exclaimed. "You're gorgeous!"

In all honesty, I have to say that gorgeous is a bit of a stretch. My body was amazing; I'll admit that. My face and hair were nice enough; I was attractive... enough. I could see Max wanting to take me to the wedding. I was attractive, but I was no movie star.

"This was my dream," Melissa sighed. I smiled. Then something occurred to me.

"Melissa," I asked, "When you said that Vivianne could help Max with his problem, is this what you had in mind?"

"No," she laughed. "Of course not! I figured that Viv has so many young people in her orbit, that she'd probably know someone suitable."

"Oh!" Vivianne exclaimed. "Is that what you wanted? You should have said so!"

"What else could I possibly mean?" Melissa asked.

"All this!" Viv exclaimed, gesturing at me. "The way you described Max and Elliot, I felt that you were asking exactly for THIS, but you didn't want to say the words. If all you wanted was a date for Max, you didn't need to mention Elliot at all!"

The two looked at each other, and laughed.

"If only you'd said what you wanted," Viv chided, "We could have avoided a lot of trouble."

"No, actually, this is better!" Melissa enthused. "Much, much better! This is the dream!"

Viv's thirty-minute timer chimed. The transformation was complete.

"Now for the tweaks," Viv said. "Try one of the shoes. We may have to do some Cinderella work here." The shoe was too small, so Viv held one shoe against the medallion until my feet shrank enough to make the shoes fit exactly. Then she had me hold the bathing suit against the medallion until my body stopped changing: my breasts and butt became firmer, perkier, higher. In a word, I had a killer body.

I ran behind the privacy screen and squeezed into the bathing suit. It was bright blue with slashes of red. When I put it on, I felt like a superhero. Melissa's jaw dropped. She had no words.

She wanted to snap some pictures, so I made sure she only used MY phone. After my experience with Kitty, I didn't want Max receiving any more photos of me as a girl.

Then I changed into the black dress. Naturally, it fit like a glove. After I'd modeled it for Viv and Melissa, posing this way and that, Melissa clapped her hands and said, "More! More!"

"That's all there is," I told her.

"Really? You don't have any other clothes?"

"No, we just needed some for the transformation."

"Well, then! Let's go out and get some! Clothes! More clothes! I mean, that's a beautiful dress, but you're not going to wear it around the house, or when you're cooking dinner! Is that what you're planning on wearing when you go home?" She thought for a moment, then said, "It might be a good idea."

"Home? Back to Max's house?"

"Yes. Where else would you go?" she asked, puzzled.

"Oh, I'm not going home like this. Viv is going to change me back to Elliot tomorrow morning."

Melissa's face fell. Clearly disappointed, she asked, "Why?"

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