The Big 4 - 0

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Synopsis: Adam's wife, Jane, is approaching the big birthday, and simply doesn't want to go there. What is needed, Adam suggests, is an away from it all holiday to put back the fun in life. But he doesn't quite realise exactly what type of fun they are going to embroiled in.

The Big 4 - 0
by Charlotte Dickles

"I'm forty next year."

I grimaced, sympathetically. "I know what it's like, Jane. I was forty last year."

"But, Adam, it's different for a man. You don't have to worry about wrinkles, and varicose veins, and your tits stretching down to your knees. I shall be bloody middle-aged!"

"Those things don't happen until you're old, and you have a long way to go yet."

She shook her head, hopelessly. "It's not just our age. We used to have so much fun together when we were young. Now all we do are boring things: get up, take the kids to school, go to work, pick the kids up from school and come home to a night in front of the telly."

"Look," I said, trying to think constructively. "The kids are off to Guide camp in a week's time. Why don't we go somewhere abroad for the week? Just the two of us and have some of that fun you talked about."

"Fun! What sort of fun?" She saw my face and snorted. "Sex! I might have guessed. That's your complete idea of fun. Great!"

"We used to go through the sex manuals from cover to cover when we were young. It was plenty of fun then."

"Grow up."

That was rich, considering it was she who so very much did not want to do so.

"In any case," she continued, "something may go wrong at camp, or one of them may get ill. We have to be on call in emergencies. We couldn't go abroad."

"Then let's just go away somewhere local. A nice hotel. Explore the countryside. Maybe do a bit of walking. Go to the beach."

She shrugged. "I suppose it would be better than staying here. Why don't you book somewhere?"

"Oh no." I wasn't getting caught like that. "If I book anywhere, it will be wrong. You decide."

"I can't think of anywhere."

Give me fucking strength! "What about that place we stayed overnight on Seacombe Moor when we were on our way to Cornwall. We said we'd love to go back, sometime. It was called the..." What on earth was it called?

"Seacombe Manor House," Jane said, always the one with a brilliant memory. She sniffed a bit and said, "I suppose it wouldn't hurt to go there for a few days."

***

So it was agreed, and a week later, after dropping the kids off at Guide camp, we continued on to Seacombe Moor, where I'd booked us into one of the bungalows they had on the site, set amongst the trees next to a little stream.

"It is pretty," Jane reluctantly admitted. She turned and gave me a kiss on the cheek. "Thanks for booking it, and sorry I was so miserable."

"The kiss makes up for everything," I said, and turned and kissed her on the lips.

"That's great," she said, breaking off the kiss, "because you can register and unpack the car whilst I go and check out those sundresses I can see in the hotel shop."

Jane was back into clothes buying mood. A lot of husbands would be moaning, but I was delighted that her earlier melancholy had lifted. I went to the desk and registered and then went and looked over our bungalow in the woods. It really was delightful, about a five minute walk up the valley beside the little stream which cascaded over waterfall after waterfall.

Of course, after dragging Jane's suitcase all the way up there, I realised its disadvantage, and on my next trip from the car, I carried the boxes of beers and wine we'd brought with us. It was heavy work, so I felt fully justified in opening one of the beers when I got to our bungalow for the third time. I sat down at the small table on the terrace watching the stream tumble by, in between reading the Seacombe Gazette, a freebie newspaper I'd picked up from reception, mainly comprising adverts and advertorials from local businesses.

"What do you think of this?"

Jane had spoken from behind me, and I turned and gasped. She had on a pretty, navy blue sundress with white polka dots all over, with a scooped neckline and a hem just covering the cheeks of her arse.

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"You look absolutely fantastic," I said, and meant it. I almost added that she didn't look almost forty, but discretely decided to keep quiet. "Do you want a glass of wine? It's not properly chilled yet."

She plonked herself down in the chair next to mine. "It's so hot; I'll have a beer please."

So I went to the fridge, took out and opened another couple of beers, and returned to the terrace.

Jane would normally have demanded a glass, but she raised the bottle to her lips, put her head back and thirstily drank.

"Your panties don't match," I said, pointing out what was fairly obvious as she sat there with her legs sprawled out.

She hurriedly pulled her legs together and said, "I know, but I bought it to match my blue bikini." In a show of bravado, she reached underneath the dress, pulled her beige panties down and over her ankles, and threw them into my face. I guessed I'd asked for that. Before she could ask for them back, I tossed them through the open door into the bungalow. Let her go chasing after them.

But instead, she picked up her bottle, stood up and casually walked over to the stream. Then she turned and smiled at me and said, "Coming for a walk?"

Two weeks ago, she wouldn't have dreamed of walking about without panties, regardless of the length of her skirt. To do so in a skirt which barely covered her bum, would have been shockingly unthinkable. But this was Jane demonstrating that she was still young, regardless of what the calendar said.

I grinned at her, picked up my beer and stood up, and said, "You bet."

The valley had a magical quality, even without being with a girl whose buttocks were regularly exposed as she made a play of skipping along in front of me like a little fairy. A few times, she would suddenly stop skipping and walk normally as she noticed people approaching from the opposite direction. From the way they stopped talking to each other, and refused to even smile at us, it was clear they'd had an even better view from the front than I'd had from behind.

But Jane was all the more excited by these encounters, and laughed like a little girl when they'd gone.

After we'd walked for about fifteen minutes, we came to a branch in the footpath, with the main route following the stream and a finger-post stating "Travellers' Rest," pointing along the path to the right.

"Which way?" Jane asked.

"Sounds like a pub," I said. "Let's get another drink." We had long finished our beers and left them in a litter bin along the route and the walk had certainly given me a thirst.

"I can't go in dressed like this." But her voice told a different message; it said, "I want to go in but am scared to."

I grinned. "It will be alright as long as you don't skip."

She grinned back. "Let's go and look at it."

As we walked along the path, I could sense her hesitation growing. When we got there, although it looked a sleepy little pub with virtually no customers, Jane said, "Perhaps this is rather silly. Let's go back."

"No one's going to know," I said, and then following up her girlish behaviour of a few minutes ago, I added, "I dare you."

It did the trick. "OK," she said, "but the rule is you have to do a dare of mine."

"What is it?"

"I'll tell you tomorrow, depending upon how this visit goes."

She nervously followed me into the pub, but relaxed when she saw there were only a couple of old guys sitting in the corner. I ordered some drinks and we stood at the bar chatting. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the two old guys sitting up and staring at the pretty girl standing with me. I think I might have smirked a little.

"They'd be staring a lot harder," Jane said, noticing my look, "if they knew what was not beneath the skirt."

So she'd clocked them as well, and wasn't disturbed by their stares. Good.

The kitchen staff started bringing in trays of food and putting it on a hot food counter. It smelt and looked great. What a shame, I thought, that we'd booked on a hotel rate which included the evening meal. On the other hand, the prices here weren't expensive.

"I know we've got our evening meal booked at the hotel," I said, "but that Shepherd's Pie looks delicious. Why don't we eat here instead?"

"Because," Jane quietly said, "as you know only too well, it would mean sitting down and giving the whole pub a view."

"We could sit in that corner," I nodded in the opposite direction to the two guys. "It's quite secluded over there." As she hesitated some more, I added, "Double-dare you."

Once more, it did the trick. We ordered two Shepherd's Pies and I picked up our drinks and led the way to the corner table, except that since I got there first, I sat down facing the wall with my back to the room.

"Damn you! I wanted that seat."

"It goes with the double-dare," I said. "Come on, pull your skirt down as you sit down and no one will notice."

Maybe you think I was being hard or even cruel to Jane, but I knew that facing up to the realisation that she was a bloody sexy woman was imperative to her future happiness as she went through the next year.

The waitress brought our food over and we ordered some more drinks. The food tasted as good as it looked, Jane started to relax, and we planned out our itinerary for the next week.

I guess neither of us really noticed the pub beginning to fill with customers, but then it was perfectly natural that the good beer, tasty food and reasonable prices would bring them in. But what really brought it to my attention is that the buzz of lots of people chatting - which I hadn't noticed until then - seemed to mute. My ears pricked up, and although I couldn't distinguish any words, it was clear that the subject of the quiet conversation had become Jane's panties - or lack of them.

What to do?

"I'm just ignoring them," Jane softly said.

"What?"

"It's taken you long enough to realise," she added. Having finished her meal, she placed her elbows on the table and rested her chin on them in a way that had the effect of deepening the cleavage on display.

There was a collective gasp from behind me.

"You don't mind?" I tentatively said.

"It's making me so horny," she said, "I want you to finish your meal, and then let's go and make love in the woods."

"Bloody hell!" I couldn't remember the last time Jane had suggested anything like that. I jumped to my feet and left money on the table which would include a large tip for the waitress, but nothing like the size of one I had suddenly developed.

We left the pub and then Jane ran off, in front of me, back along the path through the woods. I desperately ran after her. I didn't want to be shagged out before I caught her so I hoped she wasn't going to run too far and too fast.

She didn't. I managed to catch her thirty yards into the woods, and I bent her over a large, fallen tree trunk. I let my trousers drop to the ground, whilst she lifted one leg and rested it along the tree trunk, all the better so I could fuck her deep inside.

It was a frenzied fucking - she hit an orgasm as soon as I shoved my monster inside her, and no wonder, I'd never seen it so bloody engorged. There was absolutely no finesse as I shagged her in a way I'd never shagged her before and she revelled in it.

Of course, you can't keep that up for long, and it was only a minute later that I had an incredible orgasm that went on for second after precious second, as I squirted gallons of semen inside her and she howled with pleasure like a well-fucked cat.

Afterwards, she asked, "Not bad for a forty-year-old?"

"Thanks," I said, turning her question around by adding, "and you were pretty good as well."

We both laughed, and she added, "Now I have to think up a dare for you to match that."

***

The next morning, I lay idly in bed, enjoying that well-fucked feeling. We'd returned the previous evening and gone straight to bed and had some pretty good sex, although in fairness, nothing like those few minutes in the woods.

Jane had obviously got up earlier and left me sleeping. From the silence in the bungalow, she'd probably gone out to get some breakfast for us, and I felt too lazy to get up before she returned. The promise of her "dare" hung over me, and I rather hoped she would dare me to do a bungee jump. It would be quite suitable because, although I really wanted to do it, the very idea absolutely terrified me. There was a poster advertising it in Reception, and I rather hoped Jane might have seen it and gone out to buy me a jump.

"You're not still in bed?"

I hadn't heard her enter the bungalow and she took me by surprise. "What time is it?"

"Gone nine-thirty. I've been in town to buy something for your dare."

I grinned at her. "Have you decided what it is, yet?"

She nodded. "Obviously, it had to be something you'd find absolutely terrifying."

I nodded.

"So that you'd have to be very, very brave."

I nodded.

"On the other hand, it must be quite safe. I don't want you injured on some silly prank."

I nodded again.

"And following last night's dare, I thought it should be something rather erotic."

"Erotic?" What was she talking about - naked bungee jumping?

"So my dare is that you wear my clothes all day - and you have to go out in public, like I did."

"WEAR YOUR CLOTHES! You're kidding!"

"What's the problem?"

"Well it's... I mean, it's... It's not something that needs courage."

"Doesn't it. Are you telling me that the idea doesn't terrify you, like walking into that pub without panties terrified me?"

"Well, terrify isn't really the right word for it."

"Well you find the right word for it, and then you can overcome it, because that's my dare to you."

I gulped a few times and thought about how I could get out of it. "Look, Jane, I know I took you into that pub, but people didn't despise you when they saw you without panties, as they would me, if they saw me dressed in women's clothes."

"That's why you must look absolutely convincing as a woman."

"Obviously, if I did look convincing, I'd have no problem with the dare."

"That's good, because I've just bought you these in town."

She pulled something out of one of the carrier bags she'd brought in, and let it drop onto the bed. I gulped at it - a huge pair of tits.

"Christ! Did you cut those off someone, and isn't she complaining?"

"You agree they're very realistic?"

I tentatively reached out for them. "You mean, they're not real?" I felt the weight as I picked them up and realised the breasts were built into a skin-coloured crop top.

"I got a few other things, as well. A wig..." She pulled it out of another bag, "...and this thing which is called a Hiplet." It was like the top of a pair of legs, with a pussy and buttocks. "Finally," she pulled out a small cardboard box, "some voice-changer tablets. They increase the pitch of your voice so you'll sound like a woman."

I looked at her and said, "I suppose you won't take no for an answer?"

***

OK, so I may have put a brave face on it, but secretly I was in turmoil. I mean why should I get excited because I had just acquired a huge pair of tits and a pussy? In fact, after Jane had waxed my legs, they were almost as sexy as hers and you should have seen what she did with making up my face. With the wig completing the image, I stood in front of the mirror and I would never have realised that I wasn't looking at an extremely shapely, naked woman.

"Oh Adam! You look fantastic," Jane said.

"I have to admit you've transformed me beyond belief," I shrilled. My voice was unrecognisable - not a particular good female voice, but no way could it belong to a male.

"I hadn't quite expected the Bustlet and Hiplet to make you quite so shapely," Jane said, "and I think none of my clothes are going to fit you."

"I guess that means I have to stay indoors, then," I said, outwardly breathing a sigh of relief. But inside, Jane's dare was having exactly the right affect; I was both terrified about going out in public, and, I have to admit, exhilarated and sexually excited by the very idea.

"You don't get out of it that easily," she said with a smile. "I saw just the dress for you in the hotel shop, yesterday. The straps tied at the rear, which means we can expose plenty of boob. That should ensure there's no doubt about your gender. I'll pop over now and buy it."

She was back in a few minutes with a light blue sundress, a matching bikini and a pair of flip-flops. "I think you're doing a big enough dare as it is without going without panties," she said, "but you won't need the top. Far better for them to glimpse a nipple bulging through your dress."

"Thanks," I said, trying not to let my excitement show through.

I stepped into the dress and Jane fiddled about at the rear to obtain maximum exposure of my boobs whilst still retaining some decency. Then I was allowed to pop on the bikini bottoms and flip-flops and we were ready to go out.

"I don't mind walking up the valley," I said, "but I think it would be a mistake to go back to the same pub as last night. They'll remember you and when they see me, they'll probably put two and two together."

"That would be silly," Jane agreed. "In any case, we need to go into town and buy you a dress for dinner, this evening."

***

"This is crazy," I said for the umpteenth time as Jane led the way to the car.

"That was the dare," Jane said. "You'd dress as a woman all day and appear in public. We need to eat somewhere for lunch and dinner, and it's probably better not to use our own hotel, so we'll go to a nice restaurant in town - which means we get you a pretty dress." She smiled. "I really don't see the problem."

The problem was, I couldn't fault her logic, even though I knew I was courting disaster. One thing to wonder through the woodland and occasionally meet people you'll probably never see again; but to go into town to buy a dress for dinner in a smart restaurant - it was crazy - as well as incredibly stimulating.

Jane did the driving - "Just in case we're stopped by the police" - and I sat beside her, my boobs quivering wonderfully with every slight lurch of the car, and doing my best to stop smirking. When we got towards the town centre and pedestrians stared into the car, it was even more exciting.

"OK, you can get out here. I'll go and park the car and meet you by the pier."

She had stopped at the top end of the High Street, full of holiday makers milling around the shops.

"Here! But why can't I come with you?"

"You need to gain confidence on your own. Go on, jump out quickly. There's a traffic warden bearing down on us. Unless you fancy chatting him up."

The sight of the warden walking our way prompted me to hurriedly leap out of the car and slam the door shut. Then something extraordinary happened; my breasts suddenly came to life, as though they had suddenly been joined onto my body, and I could feel my nipples go rock hard.

"What the..."

My hands instinctively reached up to cup them and I could actually feel my hands squeezing my breasts. I gasped: I didn't believe in magic, but this was positively weird. Then I glanced at Jane in the car. She was grinning at me and waving one of those small remote controls they have for radios. I didn't understand what had happened but clearly she was at the root of it.

"Damn you..."

"I'm sorry, you can't stop the car here, miss," the traffic warden said, although he was staring transfixed at my breasts clasped in my hands. I hurriedly dropped my hands to my sides, as Jane drove the car off with a lurch. "Is everything all right?" he asked.

"Yes, fine," I said. "It's just that my... friend has played a silly trick on me."

"I wish I had friends like that," he said with a grin. "But I'm always willing to play a few tricks."

"Thanks, but no thanks," I said and hurried off as fast as my legs would take me.

The problem was that as I walked, my breasts bounced up and down, the nipples sliding against the inside of my dress as they did so. It was incredibly erotic.

"Wow! Look at those huge bouncing tits," I heard a teenage kid say to his mate, bringing a flush to my cheeks.

I had to slow down, I realised. After all, it wasn't as though any of the other holidaymakers were in any kind of hurry. So I slowed my pace to a crawl and moved down the road amongst all the people. Many of them gave furtive looks at my boobs, but then I'd done that to women plenty of times so I could hardly blame them for that. In fact, actually, I started to admire the glances.

***

I'd been waiting on the start of the pier for ten minutes, and had continued to receive plenty of lecherous glances from passers-by. A girl could get used to this, I'd been thinking.

Then I heard Jane say, "Smile."

I couldn't help it, in spite of the trick she'd played on me - in fact, probably because of it, I turned and smiled at her. The artificial click of a camera shutter went as I did so. Jane stood there with her phone, catching the evidence. "Why you..."

"Would you like Jack to take a photograph of the two of you?" an elderly woman standing behind Jane asked in a broad Lancashire accent, interrupting my intended curse.

I'd have told the woman to piss off, but Jane turned and said, "Oh, that would be really nice of you. Thank you." She handed her phone across to the woman's husband who took a few shots of us. I tried to smile, rather than grimace.

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"We've just come to get our tickets for tomorrow's performance," the woman continued, nodding towards the pier theatre behind us. "We've been coming to Seacombe for fifty years, and we always go to the theatre on the Monday evening. Oil-ante. It's supposed to be very good."

"What?" Jane asked.

"Iolanthe," I said, nodding towards the placard on the front of the pier theatre. "Gilbert and Sullivan."

"That's what she said, wannit?" Jack rather grumpily replied, handing back Jane's phone.

"Oh, of course," Jane said. "I'd rather like to see that myself."

"Better get your tickets quickly," the woman said. "One year we couldn't get any tickets for love nor money."

"That was 1965," Jack said. "And the Beatles were live on stage."

***

"Shall we go?" Jane asked.

"Never mind that," I said. "What did you do to my bloody tits when I got out of the car?"

She grinned again, defusing my anger. "I actually forgot all about the remote they gave me with the Bustlet and Hiplet, until we came to leave the bungalow. Then you were in such a tizzy, I didn't like to tell you they were supposed to be touch sensitive, and you could alter the sensitivity with the remote. I just thought I'd give it a try when you got out the car. I didn't expect it to have quite that effect."

"It wasn't just that they became sensitive," I said. "The nipples poked out as well."

"Well they did tell me that but I didn't believe it. They're not poking out now."

"They seemed to go back in after a few minutes, but it was bloody embarrassing," I grumbled.

"Never mind," she dismissed. "So how about Iolanthe?"

"I suppose we could."

"Then why don't we go and buy some tickets."

So we went into the booking office and asked a woman bearing a badge "Tracy" for two tickets for the following evening. As Tracy typed into her terminal, the interval bell went off.

"What's caused that?" she wondered, looking around.

"You've won the prize." A man's voice came from behind us.

We turned to see a middle-aged man in a suit. "I'm Tim Jenkins, the manager. I'm delighted to say that you've won our daily prize. You get free tickets for tomorrow's performance in our most luxurious box, a meal for two with wine at the Grand Hotel, and free loan of costumes for the performance."

"It's a trick," I said, well used to internet scams promising the earth.

"Absolutely not," Tim Jenkins said. "Tracy, can you print out two tickets for the Queen's Box, and then we'll go to my office and I'll get your voucher for your meal at the Grand. After that, we'll go to Wardrobe and they can sort you out suitable costumes. We have some wonderful Victorian ball gowns which I'm certain will suit you ladies down to the ground, and be just right for Iolanthe."

"Er..." I started, wondering how to phrase it.

"That sounds absolutely fantastic," Jane said. "I've always wanted an excuse to wear one, and nothing is going to get in my way now." She gave me a ferocious look. "But will it be just us wearing costume, or are the whole audience going to dress up?"

"Hopefully the latter, dear lady..."

"Call me Jane," she said, "Jane Turner, and this is my sister-in-law, Abigail Turner." (I almost choked - Abigail? Where did that come from?)

"Excellent," he continued. "Now if you'll come to my office, I'll get your meal voucher."

We meekly followed him into his office, with me trying to make faces at Jane and she steadfastly ignoring me.

"Perhaps you could fill in the details and sign the receipt for the tickets and vouchers," he requested, bringing a form out of his top drawer. "You can give your local hotel as your address. We're obviously using this competition to publicise the show for the rest of the week, so you give permission for us to do that."

We both had to sign, although me a little reluctantly. Fortunately, I only ever used the initial of my first name in my signature, so I didn't have to give a false signature.

"I see you're staying at the Seacombe Manor Hotel," he said. "How do you like it?"

"It's really good," Jane said.

"Mmm," I agreed.

"Great," he said. "I'll take you ladies through to Sue in Wardrobe now, and she can get you fitted with some gorgeous ball gowns."

"Great!" Jane said, with a gloating smile at me.

He took us through the auditorium and then up steps to the stage and into the back stage area, where a middle-aged woman was feverishly sewing a gown.

"Sue," he said, "this is Abigail and Jane Turner. They've won a couple of box tickets in our daily competition, so we need to get them fitted out with gowns. Right, I'll leave them in your capable hands."

"Oh," she said, staring at us both, and at Tim's departing back. Then, she looked at me again and added, "Oh! Right. I'd forgotten the, er... competition was starting today. Well I think I have just the thing for you."

"What about me?" Jane asked.

"Oh, sorry," Sue said. "I'm sure I'll have plenty of dresses that will fit you, er, Jane. It's just that your friend is quite tall and we accidentally got the wrong sized dress for Sarah - she's playing the part of Phyllis in Iolanthe. I got a bit mixed up with the metric measurements. Anyway, we've had to dress Sarah in one of our standard dresses, which means we have this lovely one being wasted, until now.

"It's strange," she continued. "I saw you waiting at the end of the pier when I came in just now and I pointed you out to Tim and said that you'd be the ideal size for our surplus Phyllis dress, so it was, really lucky that you won this competition."

"Lucky?" I queried.

"Obviously very lucky," Jane interrupted, giving me the eye, "since they happen to have a dress which will fit you. Now perhaps we can look at the costumes."

I'd better get you some corsets, first," Sue said. "I think we're going to have to tight lace you both."

"Tight Lace!" we both chorused. "You're joking!"

***

She wasn't. Mind, they were gorgeous costumes and deserved to be worn properly. Jane obviously looked much more attractive than I did, wearing a simpler green dress with a blue insert, but there was no doubt my dress had far more style, and must have taken forever to make. It was a red overdress with a ruched edge worn over a blue underskirt. Clearly, neither of us were going to get into our costumes without some significant corseting. It was strange, but I really, really wanted to try to do justice to that lovely dress. I gritted my teeth.

Sue spent ages with us and I think we both felt a bit guilty at wasting her time, but eventually she was satisfied, and told us to go back on the stage so she could show us off to Tim, who apparently was sitting in the auditorium.

"Wow!" he shouted. "Girls, you look superb. Hold it there so I can see you properly."

It was strange but I thought I'd feel embarrassed about been seen that way, but instead I felt on top of the world. He was only one middle-aged bloke, but it counted that he thought we both looked great. He took some photos on his mobile phone, and then made us come down into the auditorium and pose there.

"That's fantastic. We'll use these to show punters what they might win if they only book tickets for the performance. Now if you want to go back and change into your normal clothes, you can change into them again before you go for your meal tomorrow."

"Er, well..." I started to say.

"That's great," Jane said. "We're really looking forward to it. Aren't we Abigail?"

"Well..."

"She is really," Jane said to Tim. "She's just awfully shy."

"With a figure like hers," Tim said, "she should be used to being the centre of attraction."

***

"Look, I realise your dare was only supposed to last for today and that we're now committed to tomorrow evening," Jane said when we were back into our sundresses and had left the theatre. "What I suggest is that we have lunch here in Seacombe, have a little look around, but forget about booking a restaurant for dinner. Then we'll go back to our bungalow, you can change back into being a man, and then we have dinner at the hotel as normal. How does that sound?"

I grudgingly admitted it was all right. In fact, I was so excited about wearing that dress again that wild horses wouldn't have stopped me coming the next evening, and weird as it may sound, I was positively looking forward to having lunch in some nice wine bar and being ogled by all the blokes.

***

Lunch was every bit as enjoyable as I'd hoped. We both got ogled by several blokes in the wine bar we discovered near the harbour - fortunately, they were all with families or girl friends so it was all just a giggle, and no risk of anyone trying to chat us up. We ended up spending ages there, staying for a leisurely coffee afterwards.

"You're really enjoying this, aren't you?"

I shrugged and reluctantly nodded. "It's really weird. Obviously, part of it is the sheer terror that I might get found out, but the other..."

"It turns you on being admired by men?"

"No, of course not... Well actually, I suppose it does, really. I don't understand why."

"I enjoy being a woman as well, and that's all part of it. You should be flattered."

"It's just crazy," I said.

Jane reached forward and touched my arm. "I'm so glad you've done this. Perhaps we can do it again."

"We are," I pointed out. "Tomorrow evening."

"I mean apart from tomorrow."

My instinct said I should vehemently reject the idea, whilst my inner self revelled in the idea. I kept quiet, and Jenny gave a little smile to herself.

Afterwards, we meandered back along the High St towards the car park where Jane had left the car.

"Hello. It's Jane isn't it? And you must be Abigail?"

The words came from behind us and, with my heart dropping into my shoes, we both turned. A man was smiling at both of us, and although I felt I vaguely recognised him, I couldn't place him.

"Sorry," he added. "You haven't actually met me before. I'm Ed Johnson, manager of the Seacombe Manor. I met your husband, Jane, when he checked in yesterday. And Abigail, you're so similar to your brother, I couldn't possibly mistake you."

"But how do you know our first names?" Jane asked. She was as baffled as I was.

"Why, from the Seacombe Gazette, of course." When he realised we still didn't know what he was talking about, he pulled a copy of the freebie newspaper from the bundle he was holding under his arm, and held it up so we could see the front page.

AUDIENCE STARS!
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It was sisters-in-law Abigail and Jane Turner's lucky day when they went to buy tickets for the Seacombe Players' Iolanthe, for they not only won free seats in the best box in the theatre and a pre-theatre meal in the Grand Hotel, but they also get to wear some of the theatre's finest dresses to attend Monday evening's performance. Abigail and Jane invite all the other members of the audience to dress for the occasion and make it truly a night to remember.

Abigail and Jane are staying at the Seacombe Manor Hotel, and say they are absolutely delighted with its wonderful accommodation, delicious food, excellent staff and beautiful grounds.

Iolanthe runs from Monday to Saturday at the Pier Theatre...

"But how did it come out so quickly?" Jane asked. "Tim only took the photograph this morning."

Ed smiled. "It's all put together by volunteers to promote local business, and the council prints it at cost. Tim edits it and he's always moaning we don't put in enough copy to him. Oh, and thanks for the plug for the hotel."

"But we didn't quite say that..." I started.

Ed fluttered a hand in a don't bother gesture. "It's all right, he always pads out your words a bit. Wouldn't be a newspaper if he didn't. But anyway, to repay you for that, you'll get a free bottle of good champagne with your meal tonight."

"Yes but..."

"Thank you," Jane said with a delightful smile. "I really love champagne."

***

"Of course," Jane said, as soon as Ed was out of earshot, "you know what this means?"

"What?" I asked, trying not to expose the exhilaration running through me, because I knew exactly what it meant.

"It will have to be Abigail who goes into dinner tonight, so we'll need to get you a nice dress, and with you being in the newspaper, you'll be noticed. Of course, nobody noticed Adam very much when he arrived on Saturday, but if he was to return, people would be carefully comparing him with Abigail. Someone would twig that Adam and Abigail were one and the same, and once the cat was out of the bag..."

"You mean you think I should remain as Abigail all week?"

"Yes," she said, and added with a smile, "That's what you wanted me to say, wasn't it?"

"Of course not," I lied.

"Liar," she said, with another grin. "I think we'd better go and buy several more dresses."

She took my arm as we turned and went back towards the shops.

"You know," she said, "I think I'm going to enjoy being forty, as I now have such a lovely friend to go around with. She'll need help buying lots of clothes, as well as plenty of advice about girly things. Life is going to be fun, isn't it?"

With a big grin on my face, I had to admit that it was.


THE END


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