No Way to Turn

When Mrs. Hejak thinks her daughter Kera is being mistreated by her boyfriend, she turns him into a girl and gives him an ultimatum - break up with Kera when she gets back in town, or be stuck as a woman forever.

By Ellie Dauber
Copyright 2001

Nate Quinn looked at his watch. It was 8:43. Just enough time to nuke some nachos and get a beer before Monday night football started. There was a good game scheduled, and, much to Nate's surprise, Dennis Miller hadn't sucked nearly as much as a commentator as Nate had expected.

Nate had just hit the start button on the microwave when the doorbell rang. "Who is it," he yelled, running in from the kitchenette of his apartment. He wasn't expecting anyone, and Kera Hejak, his girlfriend, was out of town on some kind of business trip for the next few days. They'd been getting very serious about one another, and he had been thinking about proposing marriage when she got back. He smiled. 'Maybe she came back early.'

"Kera." The voice was vibrant and feminine.

Nate ran to the door and flung it open. Kera Hejak was 24, a willowy brunette, about five foot nine of feminine curves. She was dressed in a simple gray business suit, with a skirt that came to just above the knee. Her long brown hair was done up in a french twist, and her make-up was understated.

Nate reached out to take her hand as she walked into the apartment. She pulled away, a look of revulsion on her face. "Please, no. Is bad enough that I had to come here at all."

Nate closed the door behind her. "Kera, what's the matter? Why are you so mad at me?"

"Because of what you do to my daughter."

"Daughter? I don't understand?"

"Then I show you." Kera made a strange gesture with her hands. As Nate watched, she began to change. She shrank by three or four inches while gaining about twenty pounds. Her face wrinkled, and her hair darkened, then turned a solid gray as it rearranged itself into a simple bun. The business suit became a housedress and sweater. Her three-inch heels changed into a pair of comfortable flats. Kera had somehow become her mother.

"Mrs. Hejak?" Nate looked at the transformed woman in amazement. "What? How did you do that? Where's Kera? Is she all right?"

"She still in Chicago, Mr. Quinn. I spoke to her last night. She is fine."

Nate tried to be diplomatic. "I'll admit that you and I haven't hit it off very well, but maybe we can do something about that; now that you're here tonight. Why did you come, by the way? And why -- and how -- did you come here looking like Kera?""

"I use Kera' s form to show that I powerful enough to be taken seriously. Why I come is to make you go away."

"What! Look, Mrs. Hejak, Kara and I are very fond of each other, and nothing you say can make me 'go away'."

"You won't just leave because I ask you. I know that, but I have good bit of money. How much it take to get you to leave her?"

"There isn't enough. I truly love Kera too much to put my feelings up for sale."

"So, you have some sense of honor. At least you not total stinker."

"Thanks...I think. If we're finished talking about my character, may I get you something to drink? Then you can tell me how you managed that trick."

"Discussion is finished, Mr. Quinn, but not the way that you think. I offer money first just to see how stubborn you are. " She paused for a moment. "You see what my magic do to me. I use on you if you not leave my Kera alone."

"Look, Mrs. Hejak, I don't know how you pulled that trick, but I already told you. I love Kera, and I don't want to give her up."

"You think it only a trick." She made an odd gesture with her right hand. "Now I do it to you." The air seemed to shimmer around her hand. The shimmering became a sort of mass of silvered sparkles that flowed through the air and towards Nate. He tried to dodge, but the flow followed him and suddenly passed without effort into his body.

Nate looked down at his chest. There was a faint sort of afterglow where the sparkles had entered, but he felt no pain. Then, as he watched, he felt a strange cold tingling in his chest. The tingling grew in strength, then it seemed to flow outward to every part of him. He closed his eyes as the sensation reached his head. Instead of darkness with vague patterns of light, he saw the same sparkles he had seen with his eyes opened. It was as if they were actually flowing through, filling up every part of his body.

Nate felt muscles all over his body clenching and unclenching. He couldn't seem to move, except for his neck and head. His clothes seemed to be moving -- no, they were somehow getting looser on him. The room seemed to be growing, too. It was hard to believe, but he was shrinking. He looked down and saw the sleeves of his flannel shirt slide down over his hands, hands that seemed slimmer than he remembered.

His chest felt odd, tender against the rough fabric of his shirt. Then, as he looked down at it, the shirt swelled, pushed outward by what Nate instinctively knew was a pair of woman's breasts. They continued growing, popping a couple of buttons off his shirt. Nate could see them now that his shirt hung open. They were round and pink with dark nipples the size of quarters.

His pants began to get tight at the hips. His butt seemed to be growing. The pants were loose, much looser, at the waist, and he felt them slide down onto his now wider hips.

He felt the tingling as the sparkles seemed to flow down into his penis and balls. He grew erect at the odd sensation. Then the feeling kind of faded -- no, it was more like it was sinking back into his body. He guessed that his genitals were sinking in as well, converting into their female equivalents.

He felt a tickling on his neck and ears and realized that his hair was growing longer. He felt it slide past his shoulders and guessed that it stopped just after that, since he couldn't feel it on his back.

His vision blurred for a moment, and he felt his face twitching. He tasted something sweet and a bit sticky on his lips. He had to be wearing make-up now.

Then he saw his shirt begin to change. The arms faded while the rest of the shirt seemed to become some sort of sheerer fabric. The colors changed from a dark green plaid to a lighter, solid green color. The shirt shrank down, hugging his new figure.

He felt his pants sliding up his leg, not stopping till they almost reached his crotch. Then he felt the cool air of his apartment against his bare skin. His shorts seemed to move under the pants. The material felt a lot softer now. He felt something silky against his now flat crotch.

Suddenly, the feeling was gone. He could move again.

Mrs. Hejak let out a laugh. "I must say, you turn out prettier than I expect."

Nate panicked and ran into the small bathroom just off the kitchenette. He looked into the mirror in amazement. The image in the mirror looked a lot like him, same color hair and eyes, similar shape to the eyes and the nose. But the hair was longer, and his lips were a bit fuller. He -- no, she -- was the sister Nate had never had.

There was certainly nothing masculine about the body, though. She was a good six inches shorter, a slender girl with wide hips, a narrow waist, and what looked like 36-C breasts. Since she was only about 5 foot 5 inches, now, they looked even bigger.

Her flannel shirt and jeans were gone, too. The girl in the mirror wore a pale green camisole and matching denim cut-offs. Nate looked down at herself. Her socks were gone, replaced by a pair of fuzzy mules with a two-inch heel. Nate had never worn heels before, had never even thought about wearing heels. Yet, just now, she'd run across the room in them as if she'd been wearing them all her life.

She came storming out of the bathroom. Mrs. Hejak was standing in the center of the room, arms crossed over her chest and looking very satisfied with herself.

"I don't know what you did, lady," Nate growled, raising her hand in a fist, "but you're UN-doing it and right now!"

Mrs. Hejak didn't move. "Such a bad temper. Tsk, tsk, it so unladylike."

"I'm not a lady. I'm a guy!"

"Really? Then why -- and how -- _this_ happening to you." She made another gesture before Nate could stop her.

Something, something Nate couldn't see, was rubbing her breasts, caressing them. The nipples began to tingle and stiffen. Tiny sparks of pleasure flowed out of them through her body, especially down to her groin. The sensations on her breasts didn't stop, but Nate felt something -- an invisible finger -- slowly slide its way down to her crotch.

"No, p...please. Stop!" She was frozen, unable to move. The hand -- if it _was_ a hand -- reached her crotch. A finger played along the lips of her new vagina. Nate felt herself growing warm down there -- and wet. The finger moved in and began to rub against her clit. Her hips responded, moving in time with the finger.

She cried again, "Sto...stop, plea...uh, oh...please do..uhh...don't!" Then she felt something, something that she didn't want to think about, something larger than a finger, slide into her moist vagina. It moved in and out, and her entire body matched the movements. A feeling of immense energy, immense pleasure, grew within her groin, then exploded out through her entire body.

She screamed in ecstasy as the world grew dark.

Sometime later, Nate found herself lying on the floor. There was a sort of afterglow warming her, and she couldn't stop herself from smiling. That is, not until she looked up and saw Mrs. Hejak still standing there.

"Ready to admit that you a girl, now?"

Nate ran her fingers through her hair. "I guess I have to, but why -- why did you do this to me?"

"Because you want to betray my daughter, to lead her on, use her body, and desert her."

"No, no, I don't. I love Kera. I would never want to hurt her."

"Well, now you not have choice."

"You -- you're not going to leave me like this, are you?"

"You be Nate-ely...Natalie Quinn for the next two days. You live the life you would have lived if you been born a woman, and none but you or I will remember that you not. You see, you even gonna act like you was a girl. When Kera come back from Chicago, you change back -- for a while."

"For a while? Why? What do you mean?"

"So you can break up with her. You change back when she land because she want to call you when her plane come in. Tell her whatever you want when you see her that evening, but try not to hurt her."

"But I don't want to hurt her -- or to break up with her."

"You have no choice. When she leaves you that night, the spell ends -- _if_ you two are no longer together."

"And if we are still together -- at the end of the evening, I mean."

"Then, you not be together at one minute longer. You be Natalie again. Forever this time, and Kera will never have heard of you."

"Never?"

"Oh, she may know a girl named Natalie Quinn, but Kera not be in love with her." She laughed. "Is perfect. Either way, my little one is protected." She turned and quickly waked out of the apartment.

Natalie Quinn looked down at her new, feminine body. It was still tingling from the -- from whatever she'd experienced a few moments before. "Oh, Kera, what have you gotten me into? And how the Hell am I going to get out of it?"

* * * * *

The radio turned on at 6:45 AM, some thirty minutes earlier than it was usually set for. "I don't remember re-setting it," Nate thought, "or changing the station." Nate normally listened to a morning sports show, not NPR.

A hand reached out to hit the snooze button, a slender hand with long, feminine fingers, fingers manicured and the nails covered with a pale pink polish. Natalie Quinn brought the hand close to her face. She was suddenly wide awake. She looked down at herself under the covers. The body looked smaller, and there were two very prominent bulges at chest level. "Mrs. Hejak," she said in amazement. "It -- it wasn't a dream."

Natalie threw back the covers and looked down and her body. When had she changed into a woman's pink babydoll nightgown? But then, when had she re-set her radio alarm or changed the station? She sat up and looked around the room. Mrs. Hejak hadn't stopped with changing her or her clothes. The curtains were a frilly yellow, now, instead of the solid brown ones that had hung there the day before. There was a small vanity table against one wall, its top covered with various cosmetics. There were some brushes that Natalie had never seen before, and her mother's old jewelry box sat on top of her dresser. Even her bed linen had changed. The dark brown bedspread was now a pale yellow that matched her curtains -- and covered with tiny flowers.

There were clothes on the floor and tossed over her chair. She smiled. Some habits are just too hard for even magic to change. But then she took a closer look. The clothes on the floor were a high cut panty, cut-offs, and a camisole. A woman's blouse and a skirt were on the chair. She sighed and tossed the dirty under-things into the hamper near the dresser. She tossed the cut-offs on the bed, to be put on after work, and hung up the still clean blouse and skirt for possible wear. She suddenly heard a voice in her head. 'They should go into the hamper, not the closet.'

"What the?" Natalie nearly dropped the hanger with the blouse.

'A woman doesn't wear her clothes a second time,' the voice said.

"Now I'm hearing voices telling me how to act -- oh, I get it. This must be what Mrs. Hejak meant when she said I'd act like a girl. She put a voice in my head to tell me how to do it." She smiled. "Okay, voice. I'll listen, but I may not always go along." She put the hanger in the closet, determined to keep a little bit of Nate's sloppy, masculine self in her.

She took off the nightgown and tossed it onto the bed. She was naked underneath. She walked over towards the mirror on the closet door. 'Not bad,' she thought, striking a pose. 'Not bad at all.' She'd seen her body last night. It looked even better without clothes. There was still a strong resemblance to Nate in the face. She might have been his twin sister; same round face, same color hair and eyes, just as she'd noticed last night. Only her nose was smaller and her cheekbones a bit higher. Her lips were fuller, too, even without lipstick. It was definitely a woman's face.

The body was even more definitely female. Her breasts were full and firm. That same voice in her head told her that she'd guessed right about the breasts, they were a 36-C and with no trace of sag. The aureoles were about the size of half dollars and the nipples big and sensitive. She tingled a little when she touched them.

She had a narrow waist and nice round hips. She turned then strained her neck looking back at the mirror. Nice ass, just the right amount of roundness; firm, too. She gentle rubbed it with her palm and felt another tingling in her skin.

Now she got down to basics. Her muff was neatly trimmed to just a patch around the genitals. She could wear a narrow thong panty without showing any hair. She smiled at the thought until she realized that this could mean that her new self was sexually active. Natalie shivered again. She was _not_ ready for something like that. She closed her eyes and tried to ask that voice -- whatever it was -- about sexual activity. It was silent, and she wasn't sure if that was good -- or bad -- news.

She was about to go exploring her new sexual equipment when that damned voice did speak up, beginning to nag at her again. She didn't get up early to have time to play with herself. It took longer for a woman to get ready in the morning, and she didn't want to be late for work. She hurried into the bathroom and washed. There was a can of Secret where she'd kept the Right Guard. She used it, then dusted herself with a floral-smelling body talc that she'd never seen before.

Now -- now, it was time to get dressed. Natalie went automatically to one of the dresser drawers. She took out a pair of pink panties and matching bra. There were several balls, rolled up pantyhose and a couple of those egg-shaped pantyhose containers in a corner of the drawer, and she pulled one of those out as well. She stepped into the panty and pulled it up past her hips. The material felt soft and cool against her skin, so different from Nate's boxers. She wasn't sure that she would be able to handle the bra, but her arms and fingers seemed to know what to do. She put her arms through the straps and leaned forward into it. When she reached behind to fasten it, her fingers found and hooked the clasps as if it were something they did every morning.

She sat down on the bed and popped open the pantyhose container. 'How the heck did you put these on, she thought. 'They barely looked big enough for a six-year old. Still, her body seemed to know because a few moments later, she was straightening the sheer material on her legs. The material was so sheer that she didn't feel it when she was standing still, but when she moved, she felt the tension of it against her skin.

She opened the closet door. The nice rack of slacks and suits was gone. In its place was a double rack of skirts, jackets, and blouses. She picked out a pale gray satin blouse and put it on. The buttons were on the "wrong" side, but Natalie's fingers seemed used to them. The blouse was looser than a man's shirt,, and she felt the material slide along her body as she reached in for a matching burgundy skirt and a woman's tailored jacket. She stepped into the skirt and wriggled it up to her waist, zipping it at the side. She tossed the jacket onto her bed. There were things she had to do before she put it on.

She sat down at the make-up table and clicked on the mirror light. 'Okay, now what do I do,' Natalie thought. She found herself brushing some powder onto her cheeks. It was like someone else was moving her hands. She picked up and opened one of several tubes of lipstick from a tray. Pursing her lips, ship applied it, then carefully blotted the excess with a tissue. Her hands moved just as naturally as she applied mascara and shadow to her eyes. She didn't even flinch, much to her surprise. The image in the mirror looked like any other career girl Nate might have met in the course of a day. Only, this was Nate -- Natalie, she corrected herself.

She stood and walked over to the dresser, to her mother's jewelry case. She opened it and took out a pair of silvered earrings. Again, her hands moved naturally as she found the holes -- Good heavens, she had pierced ears! She picked up a wide silver and ruby bracelet and placed it on her wrist. Her watch was where she always left it, but it was a lady's watch now. She strapped it on, and grabbed the jacket. She was putting it on as she walked towards the bedroom door.

'Wait,' the voice in her mind said. Natalie looked down and realized that she was just in her hose. There was an entire rack of women's shoes on the back of one closet door. She reached for a pair at random, and something guided her hand to a pair of low, burgundy pumps. She stepped into one, then the other.

'This should be fun,' she thought, bracing herself for a fall with the first step. But no, as she had the night before, she moved as easily in them as if she'd been wearing heels for years. She smiled at the small success and headed out the door.

She drank some milk -- from the container, it was another of Nate's habits that hadn't changed -- and grabbed a sweet roll from the breadbox and an apple from the fridge. Her wallet and keys were on the small table near the door, along with a gray purse. Natalie tossed them in the purse, grabbed her mercifully unchanged briefcase, and headed out the door and towards the elevator. Five minutes later, she stepped out into the garage beneath her apartment building.

Her car, that sweet gray '83 Chevy Nate had spent a month of weekends tuning just right, was gone. Instead, there was a cute little blue Hunday in her parking spot. 'A chick's car,' Natalie thought. She got in, instinctively sitting down and moving her feet in, like a girl, rather than stepping in and sitting down like a man.

'If so much else has changed,' she thought, 'I'd better see where I work." There were business cards in her wallet; the same ones that had always been there, except for the new name. With a sign of relief, she started the car and headed to Miller, Hersh, and Greene, the consulting firm she still worked for.

* * * * *

Or did she? When Natalie pulled into the underground lot, Mark Franz's car was in her spot. Or should she say, "his spot", since the sign said, "Reserved for M. Franz, Director of Operations Research." Natalie groaned. "What the Hell?" She checked her business card again. Instead of listing her as 'Director', it had her old 'Operations Analyst' title. "Damn, somehow Mark got the job instead of me when old man Davies retired." She put her purse back on the seat and circled through the lot until she found a vacant spot two rows back.

Natalie felt self-conscious walking into the office from the parking lot. 'Anybody asks why a guy like me is wearing a dress,' she thought, 'and I'm out of here.' But no one did.

Lynn Corman, one of the women from her office, was already waiting by the elevator. "Hi, Natalie," Lynn said cheerily. I just love that dress you're wearing." Nate had known Lynn, although not very well. She was a trim-looking brunette, about Nate's age, wearing a long green skirt with a matching blouse with a pretty yellow and green scarf wrapped loosely around her neck. Nate and Lynn had worked together on several projects and become casual friends. He'd even dated her once or twice before he'd gotten serious about Kera. Now, it seemed they were good friends.

"Umm, thanks, Lynn," she said almost automatically as they walked in, and Lynn pushed the button for their floor. "I like scarf. Is it new? It goes so well with that outfit of yours, too."

"Don't you remember, Natalie? You and the other girls gave me this scarf for my birthday last week. Today's the first time I've had a chance to wear it in to the office."

Suddenly, Natalie had an image of about a dozen women sitting around the table at Sorrell's, a small bar about a block from the office. Lynn had a mass of boxes in front of her, and she was just picking that same scarf out of a small box on the table. Natalie shook her head. First, the voice, now, new memories. This was getting too weird. "I must still be half asleep," she said. "We picked pretty good. That scarf looks great on you."

"Well, I wanted everybody to see it." The elevator stopped and the doors opened. Lynn was a demographer in Joe Halpern's shop, off to the right. "See you at lunch." She headed down the corridor.

"Bye," Natalie said. She was guessing about where her office was. If she had lost out on the promotion, and still had her old job, then her office -- Nate's old office -- was to the left. She took that direction and quickly found her old office. Sure enough, the sign on the door read 'Natalie Quinn, Grants Analysis.'

'Yep,' she thought, 'same old office, same old job.' She sighed and walked in. The office was pretty much as she remembered it, though there were a couple of feminine touches, a couple of flowering plants -- azaleas, came the voice in her mind -- one on the window ledge and a second on the coffee table by her office couch. The Neimann football lithograph on the wall had been replaced by a framed poster from the New York City Ballet.

Natalie walked behind the desk and sat down. Another old habit was still there; she'd left herself a detailed "To-Do" list from the night before. She and Mark Franz were working on the same projects that Nate had been working on with Mark, only he was the boss, now, and she was the subordinate. 'Well,' she thought, 'better get moving. That project conference call is still set for 11 AM.' She turned on her PC, logged into the project directory, and began working.

Natalie spent the morning getting up to speed for the conference call, catching up on the details that she would now be expected to know as the grants specialist, with the half dozen grant proposals the firm was currently consulting on under her direction during the development process.

At 10:30, the phone buzzed. It was Mark Franz. "Nat, can you come over here before the meeting to brief me on what's where?"

"Sure, I'll be over in five minutes." She got the files together and walked over to his office.

It was a little aggravating seeing Mark sit in the chair that was really hers. 'Just for two days,' she told herself. She briefed him, and they had a quick cup of coffee before the meeting started.

The conference call went fine, except that Natalie caught herself early in the meeting wanting to jump in and answer a question or make a comment as the Division Director. That was Mark's job now. By the end of the conference call she was automatically deferring to Mark and to the clients on-line. It was as if Mark had always been her boss.

She was thinking about that after the meeting. This new life was getting more and more natural to her, and she didn't like it. She'd been less aggressive even than was warranted at the meeting. Was she starting to act like the demure woman she appeared to be? Natalie shuddered at the thought. 'Just two days,' she thought. 'Yeah, two very hard days,' she answered herself, 'but what can you do about it?'

"Nothing," she said aloud, making a face.

There was a knock on the door. "Something wrong?"

"Oh, hi, Lynn. No, just not exactly myself today."

"How about we grab some lunch and do a little window shopping? That always perks me up."

"Why not?" Natalie shrugged. "It's better than ordering in at my desk." She pulled her purse out of the drawer and followed Lynn to the elevators. "Any place special you want to go?"

"How about the Galleria? It's close, and we both like their food court."

"I guess." Nate did like the food. It seemed that Natalie did as well. Some things never change.

* * * * *

The Galleria was an upscale mall that took up the first three floors of an office building about a block away from where they worked. They headed straight for the Food Court. Lynn got in line at the "House of Chan", while Natalie went to the "Pizza Palace." When Natalie had her food, she turned and saw Lynn waving at her from a table near the escalators.

"What's with all that junk food," Lynn asked as Natalie sat down.

"What do you mean?" Natalie looked down at her tray. It was the sort of lunch Nate normal would have had, two slices of pepperoni pizza and a large coke.

"There must be a couple thousand calories in that pizza, two slices, and with pepperoni, no less -- I've never seen you eat more than one slice and that with just cheese." Lynn had vegetable lo mein and a small coke -- or diet coke, more likely.

"I -- umm -- didn't really have any breakfast this morning. I was hungry, and it smelt so good. I guess I just got carried away and ordered too much."

"Well, you'll never keep your figure if you keep eating like that."

Natalie smiled. "Probably not." She didn't want to keep her figure. Hell, she didn't even want to _have_ a woman's figure. She took a bite of pizza and shivered involuntarily at the greasiness of it. She tried to wash it down with her soda, but that was far too sweet. 'Damn,' she thought. 'Now my body won't let me enjoy this stuff.' She took a breath. 'Okay, body,' she said to herself, 'How about a compromise. I'll switch to drinking a diet coke, if you let me enjoy the pizza.'

Not expecting an answer, she stood up.

"What's the matter," Lynn asked.

"They gave me regular coke instead of diet." She walked back over to the "Pizza Palace." The guy on duty was unusually apologetic, she thought, until she realized that he was looking at her chest instead of her face. 'Well,' she thought, 'I guess I'll take a little leering this once if I can eat the pizza.'

Natalie returned to the table. For whatever reason, the pizza didn't seem quite as greasy. She finished the first piece, then ran into another problem. She sat and stared at her plate.

"I knew you were hungry," Lynn said, "but I didn't think you really had room for two slices of pizza and that big drink."

"I guess not," Natalie said. She hated to admit it, but she _was_ stuffed. They went back to the "Pizza Palace" and got a single slice box to carry the pizza in. Natalie put it in her purse. There was a mini-fridge in the office that would keep it reasonably fresh until she could eat it the next day.

Lynn looked at her watch. "We've still got about a half hour. Let's see what they've got over at Hanson's." Hanson's was a chain store-boutique on the second level of the mall. The window had a spring display, dresses and mix and match outfits in shades of blue, pink, and yellow.

Natalie caught herself looking at a long blue skirt with a matching sweater top. She was thinking about how it would look on her. 'With those new shoes....' Wait a minute! How did she know that she had a pair of shoes at home that were almost an exact match to that outfit? Even worse, why was she picturing herself in it, and, worst of all, why was she happy about what she was picturing? This was definitely getting out of hand. She shook her head to try to clear away such thoughts. "Hadn't we better be getting back?"

"Since when would you rather go back to work than window shop?"

"I don't know. Like I said, I guess I'm not quite myself today."

"Well, snap out of it, girl." Lynn paused. "Hey, how long ago did you and Ray split up?"

"Ray," Natalie said. "What do you mean, 'Ray'?"

"Duh! Ray Weston, your boyfriend -- your ex-boyfriend; you two split up -- what was it -- about a month ago."

Ray was an old friend of Nate's. He'd worked as a financial analyst for MH&G before he left to start his own company with a couple of other analysts. Ray and Nate still got together weekly to play handball at the Y. In this new reality, it seemed that they'd gotten together for more than that.

"Ray...but he...." Memories popped into Natalie's head. She and Ray had had some kind of fight and decided not to see each other -- at least, not for a while. Something seemed to tell her, though, that they weren't going to get back together as a couple, and she felt a pang of regret at the loss.

"Have you been seeing anybody else since then? Or even just been dating at all?"

"No. No, I...haven't." Had she? Natalie didn't remember. 'No,' the voice said suddenly and without emotion.

"Now, you're moping about here, acting depressed because you haven't gone out in so long. Nat, you need to get out and have yourself some fun."

"No, I -- I couldn't. I don't...." Natalie blushed. Looking at clothes was one thing; she could almost get used to that, but the thought of being with a man was something else entirely. The part of her that was Nate panicked at the idea, but the part -- the small part -- that was Natalie began to think of the possibilities. Worst of all, her body seemed to tingle in anticipation of those possibilities.

"Sure you do, Nat, but not right now, and you're feeling down about it. Well, nothing helps a girl when she's feeling down like shopping, maybe even buying something a little naughty." Lynn giggled. "Something you can wear to show the guys that you're back on the market and available again." She grabbed Natalie's arm and dragged her into the store. "Or some fancy lingerie to show yourself off to just one lucky guy."

Natalie closed her eyes and groaned inwardly, not knowing what to do. A very attractive redhead in the store's trademarked rose blazer came over to them. "May I help you," she said with a polite smile."

"We're just looking," Natalie said quickly.

"I'm just looking," Lynn said. "My friend here has been having a romantic cold spell, since she and her boyfriend split up. We're here to get her mind off it with a little 'shop' therapy, if you know what I mean."

"Certainly, my dear," the clerk said. "What would you prefer?"

"To leave, thank you."

"Oh, come on, Nat," Lynn said. "Don't tell me that the idea of buying something pretty to wear doesn't appeal to you. Tell you what. You close your eyes and think about it for a minute. If you don't like the idea -- not even a little bit -- we'll leave."

"Oh, oh all right," Natalie said. She was really a man, so she couldn't possibly want to wear something "special" for another man.

Or could she? She closed her eyes and visualized herself standing in a room wearing an outfit like the one she'd been looking at outside the store, a long blue skirt with a matching sweater top. A man, Ray Weston -- maybe -- his face, his features were blurred somehow, was standing nearby. He was in a shirt and slacks, a tie hanging loosely under the shirt's collar. He looked at Natalie and smiled. Natalie noticed what a nice smile he had -- how muscular he was. The room looked sort of familiar, but she couldn't recognize it. Was she imagining this or remembering it?

She saw herself turning slowly, posing for the man, even as she wondered why she was going on with this stupid idea of Lynn's. Her nipples began to tingle just a little. Her poses got a bit more suggestive -- what the hell was she thinking? The man's smile got bigger. The tingling got stronger. It began to spread down to her groin. Suddenly, he stepped forward and took her in his arms and kissed her. She could feel the tingling grow into a gentle heat that flowed out through her entire body. She heard herself sigh and opened her eyes.

Lynn and the salesclerk were smiling at her. "I think you lost," Lynn said, breaking into a giggle.

"I -- I guess I did," Natalie said. She was willing to admit defeat, but she was damned if she'd admit how tight her nipples still felt or the pleasant warm feeling in her groin. She sighed. "Okay," she said to the clerk, "but none of that 'naughty" lingerie you mentioned, Lynn. Miss, could you show me what you've got in a blouse?"

Twenty minutes later, Natalie left the store carrying an innocent looking pink shopping bag with two very sheer lycra blouses inside. "I don't believe I let you talk me into buying this stuff," she said to Lynn as they walked back to their office.

"Oh, come on, girl. You can always use another blouse. Tell you what; after work, you go home and put it on. We'll go out to that club you like, what is it? -- Nickleberry's -- and listen to some good music." She yanked at Natalie's arm. "Now c'mon. We'll be late getting back to work if we don't hurry."

* * * * *

The afternoon went smoothly enough. There were a couple of things that she'd been assigned to do during the conference call. She made a couple of necessary phone calls and began work on a meeting report with the additional information. Mark was the same sort of boss that she had been as Nate. He wanted the report on his desk by close of work the next day. Since she expected to be Natalie until the day after next, she was working to finish it in time. She wondered, though, what the report would look like and whose name would be on it when she was Nate again.

She did finish the report, though.

When she got home, she brought the shopping bag with her into the bedroom, tossing it onto the dresser without emptying it. Then she stripped to take a quick shower before she got ready for her evening with Lynn.

She showered, trying very hard not to notice how nice the streaming water felt on her breasts. It wasn't easy. Especially when she closed her eyes and had an image of a man -- she wasn't sure if it was Ray -- there in the shower with her. She felt his hands on her breasts. No, they were her hands, and she quickly dropped them to her sides. She reached out and shifted the water to cold. 'Just in time,' she thought, even as she squealed when the icy stream hit her. She forced herself to stay in for a few seconds, then jumped out and grabbed for a towel.

She patted herself dry, then dusted herself with a floral body powder. Wrapping a towel around herself, she headed back to the bedroom.

She opened her lingerie drawer, trying to decide what to wear; a garter belt and stockings? No, that would be surrendering to the sexy, the female feelings she was having. The feelings, the thoughts, were coming to her often enough as it was. She was not going to...encourage them by wearing anything so obviously sexy. She put the stockings on top of the dresser and took out pantyhose and a matching panty and bra in pale green.

She stepped into the panties, then drew them up, past her hips, to her waist. Then she put her arms through the straps of the bra and reached behind her back to fasten it. When that was done, she adjusted her breasts in the cups. She looked down and her body and shook her head. That was probably the strangest part of the whole thing, that she knew exactly what to do, how to act like a woman, and -- worst of all -- that she felt comfortable doing it. Just as it felt comfortable for her to be sitting there on the bed and carefully putting on the pantyhose, drawing them up one leg at a time as if she'd been wearing pantyhose for years.

She stood and walked to the closet, watching herself in the mirrored door. She looked good in the feminine underwear, and she had a nice, sexy strut to her walk. 'More of Mrs. Hejak's magic,' she thought. She opened the door and pulled out a dark green silk blouse with a high, ruffled collar. There was a matching pleated skirt on the hanger next to it. The skirt looked long enough to hang below her knees. She pulled on the blouse, carefully buttoning the small, gold-colored buttons. It wasn't easy the way the bra pushed out her breasts, but she managed. She stepped into the dress, pulling it up around her waist and tucking in the blouse.

She looked in the mirror again. She still looked very pretty, but not _overtly_ sexy. The blouse was a little tight against her breasts, and the way the skirt hung called some attention to her narrow waist and wide hips. It stopped just about _at_ her knees, showing the pleasant female curve down to her ankle. But she was an attractive female, and just about any outfit would have shown that fact. She could live with it.

Make-up was next. She put on a dark red lipstick, blotting it with a tissue almost without realizing it. A bit of blush and a little eye shadow, and she was done. No, she used some sort of medieval torture device to apply mascara to her lashes, making them look thick and sultry. She found a polish that was almost an exact match for her lipstick and applied it to her nails, blowing on them afterward. The polish was some new product that dried almost immediately. She touched a nail gently with a tissue and found no stickiness.

Natalie took a pair of thin gold bracelets from the top of her dresser and put them on her right wrist. A thin gold wristwatch went on the left wrist. She found a pair of gold earrings that she liked -- they looked like a pair Kera owned -- and put them on. Her hair was okay; she just fluffed it up some and let it hang down around her neck and shoulders. She was just dabbing a bit of perfume on her neck when she heard the doorbell.

"Just a minute," she yelled; hoping whoever it was had heard. There was a rack of shoes hanging on the wall of the closet. She grabbed a dark green pair and hurried to the door without bothering to put them on.

Lynn was smiling at her when she opened the door. "I was half afraid you were going to chicken out," she said as she came into the apartment. Lynn wore an electric blue tube dress that hugged her every curve. She had the top pulled low on her breasts. The bottom stopped well up on her thighs. She had on matching shoes, with a heel at least three inches high, and pale gray panty hose -- no, when she stepped forward, Natalie could see the top of one stocking held in place by a narrow band of elastic at the top.

"No, I'm still, well, kind of out of it, but I'm not going to let it ruin my evening" She stepped back, leaning against the doorframe. "I just need to get my shoes." She balanced on one foot, while she put on a shoe, then switched her stance to put on the other. "Okay, I'm ready." She grabbed for her purse, and the two of them headed out of the apartment.

'Damn,' Natalie thought as they walked down the hall to the elevator. She hadn't taken a good look at the shoes that she'd picked to wear. The things had a three-, no, a four-inch heel. She took a step expecting to fall over, but found that she could walk in them. The problem was the way the shoes made her walk. The heel accentuated the curve of her leg. She also had to take smaller steps, swaying her hips in a very feminine gait.

Lynn stopped for a moment to fix her own heel. She watched Natalie walk on for a few feet then hurried to catch up with her. "Well, I guess you are -- ready, I mean," she said.

"Why do you say that."

"The way you're walking, Nat. You're putting an awful lot of 'oomph' into the way your hips and butt are moving. That sexy walk with that oh-so demure little dress, it's gonna be like shaking a red flag at a bull when we get to Nickleberry's. I just hope a few of the guys stop looking at you long enough to notice me."

"I'm not trying to 'oomph.' It's these stupid high heels."

"Yeah, and you're the one who picked them. You're a billboard, Nat, and the message is 'Here I am, boys. Come and get me."

"Listen, Lynn. The heels were an accident. The last thing I want -- believe me -- is to get picked up by some guy." Natalie spoke slowly and firmly, hoping that Lynn would believe her." A large part of her meant it. But the way her body began to tingle whenever she thought about men, she was hoping that she believed it herself.

* * * * *

Nickleberry's was a rock club at the edge of a large mall about twenty-five minutes from Natalie's apartment. Lynn parked her Chevy near the entrance, and they headed in. The place was packed. The bouncer was starting to turn away people. Natalie thought he might not let in the two of them, and she would be off the hook. They waited in line, slowly inching their way forward. Natalie tried to smile when they got to the front of the line, hoping that they would be turned away.

The bouncer, a tall bearded man in a muscle shirt, looked at the pair of them closely. He smiled and opened the chain across the doorway. "For two ladies as lovely as you, we always have room." He bowed slightly at the waist and motioned for them to go in.

"Say 'Thank You' to the nice man," Lynn said.

Natalie looked up at him. He was just over six feet tall, but so perfectly proportioned, so that he seemed even taller. Natalie looked up at him, feeling smaller than ever. "Th-thanks," she said, feeling her body respond to the attention he was giving her. 'Am I going to get the tingles from every cute guy in here,' she thought. 'Wait a minute! I did _not_ call that guy "cute", did I?' She shook her head once to try to get the thought out of her head. A line from an old Bette Davis movie came to her, 'Brace yourself. It's going to be a bumpy night.'

The house band, a "70s revival" group with the original name of "The Generic House Band" was in the middle of a number as Lynn and Natalie walked down the long ramp into the club. Colored laser beams were tracing patterns above them, sometimes triggering holographic images like an indoor fireworks show. "Should we try and find a table?" Lynn shouted over the noise from the bandstand

"No, let's get drinks first," Natalie said. They walked through the crowd toward the nearest of the three small bars in the room. Lynn began to get into the music as they walked. She was doing a little dance step and moving her body more to the music. Natalie felt the music, too, but walked stiffly, her shoulders scrunched together, her head bowed slightly. She was avoiding attention as much as Lynn was seeking it.

They reached the bar just as the music ended. The bartender looked to be in his late 40s, a slender man with a close crop of sandy brown hair. He smiled at Lynn, then at Natalie. "And what will you two pretty ladies be having?"

"White wine," Lynn said.

Natalie wanted -- needed -- something stronger. "Scotch, straight up."

"Nat, are you okay," Lynn asked. "That's awfully strong stuff. Can you handle it?"

'Damn,' Nate thought. 'She's right. I need a drink, but I sure as hell don't need to get plastered.' She signaled to the bartender, who was pouring Lynn's drink. "I -- I'm sorry. I guess I'm not myself tonight. Please make it a white wine instead of that scotch."

The bartender nodded. A minute later, he was putting the two wineglasses on the bar. Lynn had reached into her purse, but suddenly, a large hand reached out and put a $10 bill on the bar next to the two glasses. "I'd be honored if you lovely ladies would allow me to buy your drinks."

Lynn and Natalie both looked around. The hand belonged to a tall, ruggedly built man about 6 foot tall in a dark gray suit. He was smiling, almost grinning at the two women. Lynn smiled back and threw her arms around him.

"John," she said. "I thought you were out of town." She kissed him, then turned to Natalie. "Nat, this is John Rutledge, an old -- umm -- friend of mine. John, this is Natalie Quinn. She and I work together."

John smiled and gently shook Natalie's hand. "Very pleased to meet you, Natalie. Are you two here with anybody?"

"Not until just now," Lynn said, hugging his arm.

"Great," John said. "Look, I'm also here with a friend from work. Why don't you two join us over at our table?"

"Actually, we just came to listen to the music," Natalie said, hoping Lynn would take the hint and tell this Rutledge guy to go away.

"Sounds good to me," Lynn said, missing the hint. Was she doing it on purpose? "How about you, Natalie?"

Natalie's first impulse was to say "NO." She'd let them walk away, then sneak out of the place. Only then what? She'd come in Lynn's car. It was much to far to walk, and finding a cab wasn't going to be easy. She was trapped.
"I guess," she said with no real emotion.

John signaled for the bartender. He paid for a bottle of the white wine, then lead the two women away from the bar and towards a group of tables near a wall painted to look like an exaggerated city skyline. As they got close, a second man sitting alone at one table stood up. He was tall, taller than John, and slender, but muscled like a basketball player beneath his brown suit.

John led Lynn and Natalie to the table. "I thought you were just going for drink," the other man said.

"I was, Bill -- Lynn and Natalie, this is Bill Ecklar. Bill, these two fine ladies are Lynn Corman and -- umm -- Natalie, Natalie Quinn. Lynn and I are old, ah, friends. When I saw Natalie and her at the bar, I went over to say 'Hello.' Then I found out that they were alone and decided to ask them to join our celebration." He set the bottle on the table and helped Lynn into a chair. Bill held a second chair for Natalie and helped her sit.

"What are you celebrating," Natalie asked.

"Meeting the two of you," Bill said with a wry smile. "Besides that, we're salesmen for Intext, the software company. We just signed a very large contract with the city to upgrade their human resources and computer based training systems. It means a couple of very large commissions with a bonus as well."

"Congratulations," Lynn said, raising her glass as if making a toast. "Natalie and I work for Miller, Hersh, and Greene, it's a consulting firm here in town. "She does operations research and grant writing. I'm a demographer."

"A real people person," John said, grinning at the pun. Lynn giggled at it, too, though she'd heard the joke before.

"Do you enjoy your work, Natalie," Bill said.

"I guess." Natalie was still trying to find a way out. The problem was that a part of her found Bill -- well, interesting. He had a nice voice, and he seemed kind of cute. Damn, where had that thought come from?

"Natalie's a little bit out of it tonight," Lynn said. "I thought if we came here, it might cheer her up."

"Well," Bill said. "At least it isn't the present company. Anyway, I hope it isn't."

"No," Natalie said truthfully, "I'm just not quite myself today. I'm sorry." She found that she was actually beginning to feel a little attracted to Bill. It was crazy. She was a guy -- wasn't she?

"Hey, that's okay," Bill said. "Everybody gets out of sorts every once in a while. You just sit. We'll talk, have a little wine, and listen to some nice music. Best way I know to get yourself straight is a relaxing evening with friends, okay?"

"I guess," Natalie said. Despite herself, she began to smile slightly. Bill was cute -- stop thinking that! -- but he wasn't really coming on to her, except as somebody just looking for a friendly face to talk to.

They just sat and talked. Between the wine and Bill's easy-going manner, Natalie found herself getting drawn into the conversation. Lynn helped as well, often asking Natalie a question or deferring to her about some point.

Natalie was explaining about a survey technique that the firm used when she glanced over and noticed that Lynn and John were gone. "Now where did they..."

Bill laughed. "You were so deep into that business about polling that you didn't hear John ask Lynn to dance, not that I minded. It was interesting, and my outfit uses surveys like that before they send us out." He pointed towards the dance floor. "Anyway, there they are."

Natalie looked in the direction Bill was pointing. Lynn and John were dancing to the fast melody that the band was playing. Lynn must have seen Natalie looking because she waved in Natalie's direction.

"Would you like to join them," Bill said.

Natalie hesitated, uncertain how to possibly answer. She was really a man, regardless of how she looked. How could she want to dance with another man? But Nate loved to dance, and the part that was still male inside Natalie was curious about what it would be like to dance as a girl. Natalie loved dancing, too, and she was attracted to Bill in spite of herself. He was strong and good-looking and, well, relaxed. He was just trying to enjoy himself, not coming on to her. She found herself smiling. "I'd love to."

Bill stood and pulled out her chair. As she stood up, he took Natalie's hand. She discovered that she liked him holding her hand and let him lead her onto the dance floor.

The band was playing a fast number, so they just stood a few feet apart and began moving to the music. Bill was a good dancer, moving sensuously to the beat. Natalie found herself matching his moves, getting caught up in the music. She danced around him, not really noticing the seductive way she was moving as one fast number followed another.

Finally, the band switched to a slow, romantic number. Bill took Natalie in his arms and pulled her towards him. She felt herself moving with him to the music. It was nice, surprisingly nice. She felt safe and protected without really understanding why. It felt so good that even Nate, buried deep in her mind, was enjoying it just a little. She leaned forward and rested her head on his chest. She could feel his heart beating; feel hers beating as well; her skin, her entire body tingled pleasantly, and she smiled to herself.

The band announced that it was taking a break. Natalie and Bill walked back to the table. As they walked, Bill reached down and took Natalie's hand in his. She looked up at him and nodded her approval. Her whole body seemed to be tingling.

Lynn and John were waiting for them. "Well, you certainly seem to have come out of your funk," Lynn said. "We came back here a good ten minutes ago."

"Oh, Lynn," Natalie said. "I -- I'm sorry."

"Oh, don't be, hon. John and I put the time to good use." Lynn was holding John's hand. About half the bottle of wine was gone. There was lipstick on John's face.

"I see," Bill said. "I'm glad you remembered to save some of that wine for us."

"Plenty left," John said. "But if it bothers you, we can order another bottle. Besides, we've got more back at the apartment, too, remember."

"Mmm," Lynn said. "Maybe you and I should head back there later."

"Why wait," John said. Then he turned to face Bill and Natalie. "That is, if you two don't mind."

"John and I share a condo downtown. I guess I can get a cab back later," Bill said. "I'd be glad to spend whatever time with Natalie that she's willing to spend with me."

"Yeah," Natalie said. "I guess I can grab a cab, too."

"We -- umm -- both came out in my car," Lynn said. "Maybe I can drop you off now, Natalie." She fumbled for her keys. "Where's your apartment, John?"

"About a block and a half from the City Government Center."

"Hmm, that's a bit out of my way," Lynn said. "Unless, of course, Natalie came with us."

"What?" Natalie panicked. Go back with a man to his apartment? She shivered at the idea, but only partly in fear. The part of her that was Natalie was just a bit tempted by the possibilities of going back to Bill's place.

"Hey," Bill said. "Don't rush her into anything." Then he took Natalie's hand gently in his. "Unless, of course, you'd like to go."

"Thank you, Bill." She smiled with relief, hoping he wouldn't read anything more into it. "You're a very nice man, and I'm very flattered. Only, I'm...well, I...we just met. I'm afraid that's a bit too fast for me." She actually felt a little sad at turning him down.

"I understand," Bill said. "And I, well, I respect you for it, even if I am a bit disappointed. Would it be okay if we just stay here and listen to the music for a while, maybe dance again? I promise, I'll pay for your cab home."

Natalie felt her hand tingle, a feeling that spread to her nipples. "That's very sweet, Bill. Yes, I would like to stay for a while. You're a good dancer, and I've enjoyed myself more than I expected to this evening. We'll, well, we'll see who pays for the cab."

"If that's settled." Lynn said, "I'll see you in the morning, Nat. Enjoy the rest of the evening." She winked as if to suggest that Natalie might change her mind.

"Thanks, Lynn. It was nice meeting you, John." She rose and offered him her hand.

"Likewise, Natalie. Don't keep this guy up too late. We've got calls to make early tomorrow morning." He shook her hand briefly. Then he put his arm around Lynn's waist and guided her towards the door.

They sat and made small talk for a while. Bill told a few stories about life on the road, including one very off-color joke about a farmer's daughter that got Natalie giggling in spite of herself. She also tried to remember it, so she could tell it when she was Nate again. ('It was a little too naughty for a girl to tell,' she thought.)

When the band started one set of slow tunes, they danced for a while. Natalie enjoyed being in Bill's arms. She snuggled in closer, resting her head on his chest. He was humming to the music, and she thought that she could feel the vibrations. 'Maybe it wouldn't be _that_ bad to go back to his place,' she thought. 'There's still time....' Time for what? To have sex with this man she'd just met? To have sex with any man? She panicked and pulled away.

"What...what's the matter, Natalie?" He stopped dancing and looked straight at her.

"I -- umm -- it's the...what time is it?" She needed some sort of excuse.

He looked at his watch. "About 10:40. I don't think the club's going to close for a while yet."

Natalie -- Nate -- had been to Nickleberry's enough times to know that it was open until midnight during the week. "No, but...I'm sorry, Bill, but I'm kind of -- kind of tired. I think the wine's getting to me a little, too. Would you mind if I left?"

"Terribly, but if you have to, you have to." He took her hand and led her back towards the table. "Let me pay the bill, and then we'll see about getting you a cab."

"You don't have to do that." He was so sweet, Natalie was sorry to be leaving him.

"I want to. Besides, I _did_ sort of promise Lynn that I'd make sure you got home okay." He put a $10 on the table. With what they'd paid during the course of the evening, it would more than cover what was left of the bill. "Can I share a cab with you?"

'No!' Natalie thought. 'If you do, you'll ask to come in for a drink or something, and I'll -- I'll wind up in...in bed with you.' She almost shivered at the thought, partly in fear but partly -- Lord help her -- in anticipation.

'And what would be so bad about going to bed with this guy,' the voice in her head asked.

'I'm a man,' she answered herself.

'Oh, _are_ you' the voice asked sarcastically.

Natalie remembered an old saying of her dad's. The first step of going crazy is when you talk to yourself, but everybody does that. The second step is when you argue with yourself. When you start losing the arguments, _then_ you're crazy. She decided to drop it before she lost the argument.

She smiled up at him. "It would be nice, but John said you live downtown. I live so far out that it would take you twice as long to get back to your hotel from my place as from here."

"Well, could you at least give me your phone number? I'd like to call you sometime. No strings, and you can say 'No' when I do and tell me to tear up the number. I will if you ask. I promise." He held up his hand, three fingers raised like a Boy Scout.

'Why not,' Natalie thought. 'When things get back to normal the day after tomorrow, and I'm Nate again, he'll have never met me. In the meantime, he'll be happy.' She took a breath. "All right. Do you have a pen?"

Bill took a pen from a jacket pocket and handed it to her. "Always. Even today, with palm pilots and such, it's still a major tool of the trade.

Natalie took a business card from her purse and wrote her home number on it. She handed the card and the pen back to him. He smiled -- that same cute smile that she was really getting to like -- and put them back in his pocket. "Okay, then. Let's see about those cabs."

There were a number of cabs in line outside waiting. Bill led Natalie to the first one and held the door while she got in. "Take the lady to...." Natalie told the cabby her address. Bill handed the man a $20 "Will this cover it?"

"With some to spare, sir," the cabby said. "Thank you."

Bill leaned in. He put his hand gently on the side of her head and pulled it towards him. He kissed Natalie, holding her there for what seemed to her like an hour. Her body began to tingle, and she fought the impulse to pull him into the cab. She sighed and broke the kiss. "Thank you for a lovely evening, Bill...and for the cab ride."

"It was more than worth it." He shut the door and waved as the cab pulled out of the parking lot.

* * * * *

Natalie sat quietly in the back of the cab listening to the driver cursing at the traffic. 'What am I doing,' she kept asking herself. Her mind kept going over the evening. Part of her, the part that was still Nate was repulsed at how she'd acted with Bill. 'Like some horny little twit,' he thought. Another part, the part that was Natalie, was also feeling regret, but it was the regret that she had turned down Bill's offer. He was cute and so considerate. I bet he'd be great in bed. Damn! She was doing it again. She whimpered and scrunched down further in the seat shivering. How could she think of betraying her male self so easily?

The cabby let her out in front of her apartment. She ran up the steps and into the building before he had pulled away. It was late, and the lobby was all but deserted. She ran into a waiting elevator and pushed the button. As it rose to her floor, Natalie studied her reflection in the mirrored doors. A beautiful woman stared back at her. Natalie's face was flushed; she could feel the heat in her cheeks -- and in her nipples. 'Oh, Lord,' she thought, 'don't let me be sexually aroused.'

"Why is this happening to me?" Natalie said aloud. She felt tears filling her eyes. Her legs were weak. "Why did Mrs. Hejak ever think I would cheat on Kera?" The elevator doors opened on her floor, and she rushed to her apartment. She was so nervous that she kept fumbling with the keys, but eventually, she managed to get in and closed the door -- almost slammed it -- behind her.

She quickly stripped off her dress and took off her pantyhose. It was a little too cool to just sleep in her underwear. She looked at the pink nightgown from the night before. 'Much too...feminine,' she thought. Too sexy was what she meant. She dug through a dresser drawer and found a long yellow flannel nightgown. She put it on and climbed into bed.

Her body was still tingling, and she absentmindedly reached down to touch her breast. Even through the fabric, the sudden sensation of her hand against her nipple made her realize what she was about to do. No! She pulled her hand away. She closed her eyes, but she kept seeing Bill's smiling face. She got out of bed and walked into the bathroom.

The sleeping pill had her snoring in five minutes. She slept soundly till morning. The trouble was that she kept having dreams, erotic dreams, about men -- about Bill.

* * * * *

The radio woke Natalie far too early. She stretched. "Man, oh, man, what a crazy...." Natalie stopped in mid stretch and looked down at her breasts pushing out the front of her nightgown. "Damn! It wasn't a dream. I really am a girl."

She threw back the blankets and climbed out of bed. The room -- everything -- had the same feminine look as she remembered it now from the day before. She glanced around, then reached over and pulled the covers back, making the bed. She took off her nightgown and tossed it on the bed. As before, she was naked beneath it.

Natalie looked down at her body. It didn't seem strange to her any more. It was, well, it was her body, and it felt natural to her now. In fact, she was proud of it, how good, how sexy she looked. She posed in the mirror, knee bent, hips cocked, and one arm raised, as if beckoning someone to come to here. She smiled at what she saw. "Boy, if Bill could see me like this," she said aloud.

Then she realized what she was saying, what she was thinking. The small part of her that was still Nate took over. Her face flushed with embarrassment. Damn, she was tingling all over. Her nipples felt stiff, and her pussy -- no, don't even think that. She ran for the bathroom and splashed cold water on her face, then on her breasts, her body.

She felt better, and much more under control. She took a towel and gently patted herself dry. She could hear the radio; it was after 7. "Enough of this," Natalie said stubbornly. "I've got to get to work." She hurried through a strangely familiar feminine morning routine and went back into the bedroom.

As she stepped into a pair of yellow bikini panties, Natalie realized what the problem was. Mrs. Hejak wanted her to be willing to become a girl. The spell had created a real life that she was actually comfortable living. In a way, it was the simpler solution. If Nate broke up with Kera, the girl would be hurt, no matter how gently he did it. This way, as soon as the spell kicked back in, Kera would probably forget ever knowing -- let alone being in love with -- Nate Reilly. She wouldn't be hurt that way. She _would_ be hurt if Nate broke up with her

It was an easy solution, too easy. Nate was a stubborn man, and the trait had carried over to Natalie. She was damned if she was going to let that -- might as well use the word -- witch win. She just had to figure out _how_ to fight the woman.

But first, she had to get to the office.

She finished dressing, slipping a knee-length copper colored dress over her head. She brushed her hair and quickly, expertly applied make-up. Satisfied with the package, she walked into the kitchenette and tossed a bagel into the microwave. She poured herself a glass of orange juice while it toasted. She caught her breath over breakfast. "I can make it through this," she said. "I'll be Nate tomorrow, and, if I can figure out how, I'll keep Kera _and_ still be Nate. I know I can do it. I just don't know how -- not yet, anyway."

* * * * *

Natalie stared at the draft report she was re-reading for the third time. She wasn't sure that she needed to work on it. She'd be Nate again tomorrow, and it would be Mark's job to write the thing. Only, it had been nagging at her since she'd gotten in about a half-hour earlier. Right now, it was _her_ job to do the report, and it was due _today_. She felt herself compelled to do it and to do it well. Mark was depending on her.

The voice didn't help any, either. It kept telling her that she wasn't the boss. Mark was. She should accept her place and do the job she was supposed to be doing. It wasn't right for her to act as if she were in charge. The scary part was that part of her believed it.

"So what did you think of Bill." It was Lynn, bright-eyed and, mercifully, carrying a Starbucks bag.

Natalie looked up, grateful to be rescued. "What do you mean? He was okay, I guess."

"Okay! Girl, when John and I left, you two were getting close, _real_ close. I want all the juicy details."

"There aren't any. We stayed at Nickleberry's and talked for a while. We even danced some more."

"He's a good dancer, isn't he."

"Oh, my, yes -- I, um, I mean, yes, Bill is a good dancer." Natalie flushed. She certainly hadn't meant to say it like that. But she was remembering how nice it felt in her arms.

"Then what? You two go back to your place for a little...."

"No!" She blushed. She'd said that too fast, as if she were trying to hide something. "He put me in a cab and sent me home. He was a perfect gentleman." That was a good answer, but then the voice added, 'darn it!'

"Too bad," Lynn said, taking a plastic cup of coffee and a large muffin out of the bag. She broke the muffin apart and offered half, plus the other cup, to Natalie. "Are you going to see him again?"

"I don't know." She paused. "Yes, I did give him my number, and stop smirking. He said that he was going out of town for a few days, so I don't know when -- or if -- he's going to call." She stopped, not knowing if she felt relieved or -- damn it -- a little sad.

"Oh, I'm sure he'll call. He was quite taken with you."

"He was -- I, um, mean, how do you know?"

"Well.... He -- umm -- kept asking me about you at breakfast. I -- umm -- sort of spent the night with John. That's why I'm just getting in. I -- umm -- had to go home to change."

"Oh, and how was that?"

"Look, girl, let's try and get _you_ a love life before we start talking about mine." Lynn put her hands on her hips as if she were mad. Her smile ruined it. "Let's just say that it was a _very_ good night."

"No, details, eh. I guess a lady never tells, either."

"I sure don't, at least not _all_ the details." She sat on the edge of Natalie's desk and took a sip of coffee. "But let's get back to you and Bill. He said he's gonna call sometime today. Do you have anything planned for tonight?"

Natalie closed her eyes as if thinking. 'Nothing,' said the voice in her mind. "No, I don't think so; why?"

"Well, get yourself ready for a real nice dinner because that's what he was talking about. He asked me about what sort of restaurant you liked?"

"What did you tell him?"

"Sorry, I'm sworn to secrecy." She giggled. "He knew I was gonna tell you, so he made me promise not to reveal any of the little details."

"Gee, thanks." Natalie felt that she should be mad, and the part of her that was still Nate wanted to be nervous at being pursued by another man, but all she could feel was the pleasure that Bill was investing so much effort in her."

"You don't sound like you're sure about going out with him. Look, he's going to call. Think about it. At the worst, you get a free meal tonight in the company of a great guy."

"I'll think about it -- _if_ he calls." Natalie found part of herself hoping that Bill would call, while another hoped, just as strongly, that he wouldn't. She took a sip of coffee, silently cursing Mrs. Hejak and not for the first time.

* * * * *

Natalie eventually decided to give in and do the report. She'd been working at it for a while when her phone beeped. "Yes," she said, flipping the intercom switch.

"Ms. Quinn, there's a Bill Ecklar on line 4. He wouldn't say what it was about." The receptionist's voice was noncommittal; equally ready to put through an important call or to disconnect one Natalie didn't want.

"Thanks, I'll take it." Natalie's hand actually trembled as she pressed a button on the phone. "Hello, Bill. I didn't expect you to call me here at work."

"You did give me your business card, Natalie." He paused. "It is...okay, isn't it? I mean, I can call back if I caught you at a bad time." He hesitated. "That is, if you...if you want me to call you back."

"No, it's okay. I'm, uh, glad you called."

She could almost hear him smile over the phone. "You are? That's great. I wanted to tell you what a good time I had with you last night, and to -- umm -- ask if you'd care to have -- umm -- dinner with me?"

"I enjoyed myself, too, Bill. It was nice spending the evening with you...and Lynn and John, of course. I'd...I'd be happy to go out with you tonight. What did you have in mind -- for the evening, I mean?" She smiled at the sexual implication in her question. She knew what he had in mind. Part of her -- a small part, but it _was_ there -- wanted it, too, but he'd have to buy her dinner first.

"I was thinking about dinner, maybe; then we could go listen to some music, maybe -- unless there's something else you'd like to do?"

"No, that -- that sounds fine."

"Okay, then. Do you like Italian food?"

'As if you don't know,' she thought. "Yes, very much."

"Great. There's a place, Dante's, that combines the two -- Italian food and music, I mean. It's a very nice restaurant, and they've got a place upstairs -- the Lounge -- that has a dance band. Ballroom dancing, I mean, waltzes and like that, not rock like last night."

"Sounds okay." Natalie knew Dante's. As Nate, he'd taken Kera there several times. It was one of the best restaurants in town, the sort of place to take a woman you were really trying to impress. "You can pick me up at 6:30 at my place. I live at 6134 Oak, apartment 308, just off exit 22 of the beltway north of town. Do you know it?"

"I remember it from when you told the cabbie last night, and, yes, I know the area. We've got some clients out that way, including a couple not that far from your place, I think. I'll see you at 6:30."

"Fine. That will give me time to get fix myself up after a day at work."

"You mean you'll make yourself look even prettier. Is that possible?"

She caught herself smiling at the compliment. "Very possible, but thank you for saying so. See you this evening."

"I'm looking forward to it." Natalie heard a voice in the background. "Oops! I've got a staff meeting to get to. See you tonight. Bye." There was a click, and the phone went quiet.

Natalie tried to get her mind back on the report. It wasn't easy. She kept thinking of Bill. He had such a nice smile, and he was so sexy -- damn it, what was she thinking? 'I'll be a man again tomorrow, and this will be all a _very_ bad memory.' She repeated the thought to herself over and over. After a while, she began to believe it, and she could work on the report again.

* * * * *

Natalie handed in the report about 4. Mark seemed happy enough with it that he said she could leave early. She headed home as quickly as she could to get ready for her date with Bill

She took a quick shower. Her nipples seemed unusually sensitive as she had dried herself. When she touched them, she felt a warm tingling that she immediately recognized. 'Wow, I never thought of a shower as a sexual experience. Talk about seeing how the other half lives.' She hurriedly patted herself dry, dusting herself afterwards with a floral scented talc.

She reached into her underwear drawer. Instead of a panty, she inadvertently pulled out a lilac-colored teddy. She considered it for a moment . The top looked like it had some sort of built in bra. 'What the hell,' Natalie thought. 'It'll be quicker just to wear this.' She bent over and stepped into it pulling it up to her waist. Then she put her arms through the straps and pulled it up and over her breasts. It had a sensual feel to it that she liked. She adjusted her breasts inside the satiny cups. The silky fabric seemed to caress her body. There was more than enough support for her breasts. The feeling of cool material against her nipples was...distracting, it felt so good.

Natalie sat on the bed and pulled on a pair of pantyhose, moving slowly to avoid snagging. Somehow, it felt wrong. When she was done, she looked in the mirror. The pantyhose definitely did _not_ look right with the teddy. She carefully took them off and balled them up; maybe for work in the morning. She searched in the drawer until she found a pair of thigh-highs, smoky gray with elasticized tops. When she put them on and checked herself in the mirror, they looked right.

And felt great. Her body tingled all over. 'What the hell,' she thought. 'I'll be a man again tomorrow. I might as well see what it's like to wear this sexy stuff. Then she shivered. 'It's not like I'm going to let Bill see me in it.' She posed for a bit in the mirror, turning to see herself from various angles.

She reached into the closet for a dress. She made several choices, only to hear a sharp 'No!' in her mind. Finally, she pulled out a black dress that the voice seemed to approve of. It was sleeveless and cut low enough to show more than a little breast. Natalie stepped into it and pulled it up. She had to wriggle a bit to get it past her hips. She rested the straps on her shoulders and reached behind her back, pulling the zipper closed. The dress hugged her waist and showed her bosom off without being slutty. It was the basic elegant black dress of every woman's wardrobe, even if it did stop well above her knees.

Natalie placed a silvered bracelet on her left wrist. She'd discovered that morning that her ears were double pierced, and she put on a pair of silver and pearl earrings. She touched up her lipstick and applied lilac eye shadow, surprising herself at how easily she was able to do it. A dab or two of perfume on her neck and she was ready. No, without really understanding why, she ran the perfume applicator down the cleft between her breasts. She was about to ask the voice why, when she glanced at the clock radio; it was 6:25.

Natalie still had Nate's dislike of women who weren't ready on time, even though she understood now that it took a woman so much longer. She opened the closet door and looked at the shoe rack on the inner side. She pulled a pair of black shoes with a -- good grief -- they had to have at least four inch heels. But there was no other black pair anywhere on the rack. She sighed and put them on her feet.

She took a step, ready to catch herself when she fell. Only it never happened. She instinctively knew how to walk in them, taking careful steps and swaying her hips a bit. She walked slowly, and in a most feminine manner, over to the dresser. There were several purses in one drawer. She picked a black one with a silvered metal strap and transferred her keys and wallet from the brown purse she'd used that day.

The doorbell rang just as Natalie walked back into the living room. She looked at her wristwatch. It was exactly 6:30. Bill was right on time.

He smiled when she opened her door. "Ready on time and more beautiful than I remembered. Natalie, you are a woman in a million."

Natalie smiled and watched him walk into the apartment. 'Sexy,' she heard the voice say. Bill wore a navy suit cut to flatter his broad shoulders and muscular build. His tie was dark blue with small fleur-de-lis. "Nice tie," she said. Nate had owned one just like it, one of his favorites, she realized.

"Thanks." He held up a small bouquet of roses and a bottle of wine. "These are for you."

"Thank you, Bill. Please come in." She took the roses and the wine and went into the kitchenette. She took a cut glass vase from a cupboard, added some water, and put the roses in. The wine was already cold, and it went into the refrigerator. She brought the vase back with her into the living room and set it on a table near the TV. "The flowers are lovely," she said, "Thank you." She leaned up to give Bill a kiss on the cheek.

Bill took her head in his hands. He leaned forward and kissed her on the lips instead, a long kiss that made Natalie's entire body began to tingle. She sighed as he ended the kiss. "Much as I enjoyed that," he said, "we do have reservations for dinner."

"Do we have to leave right now?" Natalie found herself wanting to continue the kissing. At the same time, the part of her that was Nate hoped that they would have to leave.

He looked at his watch. "Well, I made them for 7:30. We have time for a drink first, if you'd like."

"No, no, that's okay. I understand that there's some construction on Packer. We may need the extra time to get there." Nate wanted to hurry them along before Bill kissed Natalie again. Those kisses were much too enjoyable.

"I heard about that at the office. I figure that I can get around it by going down Hudson."

"Hudson! But then you'll run into the jam up near --"

"Boy," Bill laughed. "I've never heard of a woman so hopped up about directions. You sound like a guy almost." Then he smiled again and looked her up and down. "But you sure don't look like one. Are you sure you don't want that drink or something?"

"Maybe at Dante's," Natalie said, feinting left and grabbing for her purse. "I -- I'm starved."

"Well, okay, I guess." Bill scratched his head and closed the door behind Natalie. He watched the show for a moment, looking at her swaying hips and butt as she walked down the hallway, then hurried to catch up with her.

* * * * *

"Is something the matter, Natalie?" Bill looked over at her quickly as he pulled into the lot at Dante's. "You haven't said a word the whole drive over here." She had just sat there, as far away from him on the front seat as her seatbelt allowed. Her arms crossed in front of her.

"No, I'm -- I'm sorry, Bill. I guess I'm just not myself tonight." Her concern was genuine, but it was mostly -- entirely, she told herself, though she knew she was lying -- about upsetting her...date.

He forced a grin as he parked the car and turned off the engine. "Well, fear not, pretty lady. Between my good company and Dante's food, you'll be fine in no time." He came around and opened her door, offering a hand to her.

"We'll see," she said standing up. She'd automatically taken his hand, and she found that she both liked and disliked the way it made her feel to have him help her out of the car.

Dante's was a bit crowded for a weeknight. The maitre'd recognized Bill and was apologetic about a short delay. He suggested that they have a drink at the bar. Their table would be ready in just a few moments. They took his advice. Natalie would have killed for a scotch but decided to stay in character with a glass of red wine. Bill ordered a bottle, saying that they could take it to their table.

"How was your day," Natalie tried to start the conversation as the waiter left.

"Not bad. I've been getting ready for a trip. I have to fly back to Seattle on Sunday for a follow-up to my last sales trip out there."

"Is that a problem?"

"No, I enjoy Seattle. It's still something of a boomtown out there, Silicon North. I spent my last trip explaining my company's fiscal analysis and projection packages to different people; everybody from new venture start-ups to, well, to a couple of Microsoft execs. I think we've got some nibbles, too. My office said there had been six calls from out there, and I get to fly back to talk to them."

He stopped for a minute and reached over, taking her hand in his. "Maybe this is too much to ask on a first date, but why don't you take some leave time and come out with me?" You can go sightseeing during the day, it's a great town for that, and we can be together in the evenings.

'And at night,' Natalie thought. Part of her -- no, a lot of her liked the idea. Nate loved to travel, as did Natalie, and Seattle was supposed to be a beautiful city. But Bill wasn't asking a guy named Nate to go bar hopping with him in the Pacific Northwest; he was inviting a woman, Natalie, to join him there for a romantic weeklong tryst. The problem was that Natalie knew it, and part of her wanted to accept. 'Thank heaven, this will be over soon," she thought.

The waiter came back with the bottle, and to tell them that their table was ready. They followed him to a quiet table in a back corner of the restaurant. He helped Natalie into her chair. After Bill had sat down, he opened the wine bottle and offered Bill the cork. Bill sniffed it, sampled the wine, and had their glasses filled. The waiter gave them menus and said that he would be back shortly to take their dinner order.

"So," Bill asked, "what do you think about coming with me to Seattle?"

"I -- I don't know." Natalie smiled. She didn't have to make a decision. She'd be Nate again by this time tomorrow night. "Let me think about it a little while, okay?"

Bill faked a smile. "Well, at least you didn't say 'No', so I have some hope."

Natalie reached over and touched his hand for a moment. "That's right. I didn't say 'No', and thank you for giving me time to think about it." Bill looked so sad; like Shade, the black Labrador Nate had owned when he was in college. He looked so happy, so eager that a part of her wanted to say "Yes."

They spent the next few minutes just looking at the menu. Dante's was considered one of the best restaurants in town, a little expensive, but worth it. Natalie was still trying to decide when the waiter returned.

"We're ready to order," Bill said. "We'll have a double order of garlic bread, the antipasto appetizer for two. I'll have the spaghetti carbonara, and the lady will have the pasta verde." He turned to Natalie. "Is that all right with you, Nat?"

Natalie just stared for a moment. He -- he'd ordered for her, just like she was his date. 'You _are_ his date,' came the voice in her head. 'Nod.' Without thinking, she did as the voice said.

"Fine," Bill said. He handed the waiter his menu, then reached for Natalie's. "Bring these back later, and we'll see about coffee and desert." The waiter nodded and left.

Bill didn't want to push the Seattle issue, so he let the conversation drift into small talk. They stopped when the dinners came. The food was really too good to allow more than a limited conversation.

Bill tried, though. He even invited Natalie on another date. There was a traveling exhibit of French Impressionist paintings opening that weekend, and Bill offered to take her on Friday. Nate had taken a couple of art classes in college, and he had been surprised at how much he'd enjoyed them. They'd talked about modern art the night before at Nickleberry's. Now, Natalie surprised herself with the pleasure she felt in the invitation. It was nice when your man remembered your interests. "Your man" -- oh, hell, she was doing it again.

She'd be Nate again tomorrow, and she could go to the exhibit with Kera. Still, for some reason, she accepted Bill's invitation. He all but grinned when she said, "Yes," and she felt a warmth run through her.

Natalie took another sip of wine -- just to get her mind on something else. Nate had always enjoyed good wine. Natalie did, too, it seemed, but she didn't have Nate's capacity. By the time they had ordered their coffee and dessert, she was feeling a bit of a glow. Bill noticed that she giggled a bit more at his jokes. She also seemed more relaxed. He was glad that the alcohol seemed to be making her forget whatever had been bothering her.

"How about if we have the waiter bring the coffee and desert to the Lounge," Bill asked. The Lounge was on the second floor, a small intimate club with a good dance band.

"Sounds like a nice way to end the meal," Natalie said.

"Fine." Bill turned to the waiter and told him to do as he had suggested. The waiter nodded and headed off. Bill stood and offered Natalie his hand. She smiled and rose slowly. She was a little unsteady on her feet and held on to Bill 's hand after she stood. Bill didn't mind. Natalie felt oddly reassured knowing that he was there.

"Let's take the elevator up," Bill said. "It's a lot closer than the stairs are." The stairs weren't that much farther away. Bill just wasn't certain that Natalie could handle them.

Their waiter met them near the elevator and led them to a table. He seated them and headed off. He was back a moment later with their coffee and tortelini. It was so good that Natalie forgot about the rum in the tortelini.

The band struck up a slow tune. "Would you like to dance," Bill asked.

Natalie found herself smiling shyly. "Yes."

Bill stood and offered his hand. She took it, and they walked out onto the dance floor. Bill took her in his arms, holding her close. Natalie smiled and looked up into his eyes. He smiled down at her, and they began to move to the music.

The band played several slow numbers in a row. Natalie felt relaxed and comfortable in Bill's arms. More than that, she felt safe and protected. She lay her head on Bill's chest. He was humming along with the music, and she felt the slight vibration. She smiled.

"Well," Bill said, looking down. "You certainly seem to have gotten over whatever it was that was bothering you before." He smiled. "I'm glad."

Natalie looked up at him. He had such a nice smile. She felt warm and safe and happy being with him. "So am I. I'm really enjoying myself." She said it as if she was just realizing it herself.

"I hate to push, but have you given any more thought to coming out to Seattle with me?"

"Yes." She had, and it bothered her how much a part of her wanted to go. "But I haven't decided...yet."

"Okay. Maybe that was an unfair question. I'll tell you what, unless you say otherwise, I won't ask again until we go to the gallery on Friday."

"Thank you. And thanks for the gallery invitation, too. It was nice of you to remember that I'm interested in Impressionist art."

"I did it for purely selfish reasons, ma'am. It gave me a chance to spend some more time with you."

"Well, it was sweet, and you deserve a reward." Without thinking about it, Natalie stood on tiptoe and kissed Bill. She meant to kiss him on the cheek but accidentally -- or was it an accident? -- kissed him on the lips. He pulled her close to him and kissed back. Natalie's entire body began to tingle. 'This is a lot more fun than dancing, isn't it?' the voice asked. In spite of what the part of her that was still Nate felt, Natalie couldn't help but agree.

They began to dance again. Bill was still holding her very close. She could feel the muscled hardness of his body. She felt something else, just there a bit below his waist. 'Mmm,' the voice said. 'He wants you.' Natalie felt her face flush. Part of her was embarrassed at the way her body was reacting; part of her was thrilled by it.

The music stopped, and the bandleader said that the band was taking a short break. Natalie and Bill walked back to their table hand in hand. She was still blushing a little, and she held her head down as she let him lead her to her chair. "Thank you, kind sir." She kissed his hand as she sat.

He pushed her in and took his own chair. "And thank you, sweet lady. Would you care for something to drink. Some more wine, maybe?"

"I -- I think I've had enough wine, thanks. I would like a little coffee, though. I want to keep my head clear," she smiled slightly, "for later." What the heck was she saying?

Bill signaled, and a waiter came over. "Coffee for two, please."

"Would you like anything with that, sir? Miss?" the waiter asked.

Bill looked at Natalie. She shook her head. "Just coffee, thank you." The waiter nodded and hurried off.

"This is a great place," Natalie said. "Thank you for bringing me."

"You're welcome. I'm enjoying myself, too, but I think it's more the company than the location." He reached over and took her hand.

Natalie felt her face flush again at his touch. She smiled. "I -- I think so, too. You're a real nice guy, Bill."

"I was hoping for a better compliment than that, but I'll settle. Tell me a little more about yourself, Natalie."

"What would you like to know?" This was trouble. Natalie's past was Nate's past. How could she pretend to have been a girl all her life?

"I don't know. Where did you go to school? What kind of music do you like? Anything you'd like to talk about."

"Well, I'm 25, and you know where I work. I was born and raised in the Poconos...in Pennsylvania; a little town nobody every heard of, Wassahannock. I went to junior college there. That's where I took those arts courses. Then I transferred to Penn State for my business degree."

"Did you enjoy college?"

"A lot. I had to work hard, but I had fun, too. Especially after I got to Penn State. It was the first time I was ever on my own."

"And you were 'Little Miss Party Animal,' I suppose."

"Well, maybe a little. I was on the girls' basketball team and joined a sorority and..." _Girl's_ basketball? Sorority? Where had that come from? 'From me,' the voice said. 'That's the past that _I_ had.'

She suddenly realized that Bill was staring at her. "Are you okay, Natalie? You just stopped in mid sentence and stared into space for a moment."

"I -- I'm okay. I guess I was just...umm...woolgathering, I guess. A couple of memories I wasn't expecting."

"Do you want to talk about it? Whatever it is, please let me help." He took her hand again.

She put her other hand atop his. "No -- no, I'm okay. Or I will be in a minute."

"Maybe this will help." He pointed to the waiter who was coming over with a large pot of coffee.

There were cups on the table, and the waiter filled them both. "Will that be all, folks?"

"No, we're fine, I think. Did you want anything, Natalie?"

"Uh...no."

"Very good." He bowed slightly and left. They slowly sipped the coffee.

"Did it help," Bill asked, putting down his cup.

"No, but you did." She smiled and took his hand again. "Thanks."

Bill lifted her hand to his lips and kissed it gently. "You're welcome. I...I know we've only known each other for a day, Natalie, but I think you're a very special woman."

'You don't know the half of it,' Natalie thought. "Thank you," she said. "I -- I think you're a special guy, too."

He smiled at that. As if on cue, the band ended its breaking and began to play "Unforgetable."

"Would you like to dance?" Bill asked.

Natalie nodded and put down her coffee. Bill took her hand as she stood and guided her out onto the floor.

They danced a couple more dances, hardly moving, just enjoying holding each other. As the band finished a number, Bill looked at his watch. "I hate to ask," he said, "but it's after 11. Do you want to head home? I know you have work tomorrow."

Natalie sighed. In spite of the faint nagging she was still hearing from the part of her that was Nate, she'd really been enjoying herself. Still, he was right. She did have to be in the office early the next morning. "I suppose."

They walked slowly back to the table, still holding hands. The waiter had left the bill. Natalie instinctively picked it up, but Bill took it from her. "I know all about you liberated women. I invited you, so I get to pay. You can pay next time, okay?"

"I -- oh, okay." It was the Nate part of her that had picked up the check, and she was glad that Bill had just made a joke out of it. She was even gladder that he wanted there to be a next time. 'Who says _this_ time is over?" the voice whispered in her head.

* * * * *

Bill parked near Natalie's apartment and came around to open the door. "Would you come up to my door," she said as she got out of the car. "I'm afraid that I'm still a little dizzy from that wine."

"Okay." He took her hand and walked into the building with her.

Natalie felt a bit confused -- no, concerned -- as she walked. She knew she could still feel the wine, but it was a gentle buzz, and she didn't really need help. 'Just giving you a chance to spend a couple of extra minutes with him,' the voice said, 'and to let you thank him properly for such a nice evening.'

Natalie wasn't sure that she accepted that, but she was enjoying the feeling of the wine, of leaning up against Bill as she walked, and of his hand holding hers; enjoying all that too much to really want to think about it. When they got to her apartment, she handed him the key. He put it in the lock and turned it, opening the door an inch. "There you are, Madam, safely delivered to your door. And the charge for that will be one good night kiss."

Natalie put her arms around his neck and looked up into his eyes. Her entire body was tingling. She felt a warmth in her groin and a tightness as her erect nipples pushed against the material of her teddy. Something, the voice, took control. "How about a good morning kiss instead," she asked and pulled him into the apartment.

Bill closed the door behind them and took Natalie in his arms. They kissed, a long, slow kiss. Natalie ran her tongue across Bill's teeth, then opened her mouth to invite his own tongue in. When it followed, she rubbed her breasts against his chest and ground her groin against his. Her entire body was tingling, that maddening -- that wonderful -- tingling.

When they did finally break the kiss, she reached up and loosened his tie, then pushed his jacket off his shoulders. Bill smiled and took off the jacket, tossing it onto a chair. Natalie stepped back and looked at him -- how muscular he was. Still smiling, he loosened his tie and began to unbutton his shirt.

She smiled back and reached behind her to unzip her dress, moving her hand slowly down towards her waist. The dress slid off her shoulders, then down past her waist to form an inky pool around her feet. She stepped out of it and turned slowly, posing for Bill. Her nipples began to tingle just a little. Her poses got a bit more suggestive -- what the hell was she thinking? -- but it seemed right to be doing it.

Bill's smile got bigger. Without taking his eyes off of her, he removed his shirt and tossed it away. The tingling in her body got stronger as she saw the muscles rippling in his chest. The feeling began to spread down to her groin.

Suddenly, Bill stepped forward and took her in his arms and kissed her again. She could feel the tingling grow into a gentle heat that flowed out through her entire body. She heard herself sigh and closed her eyes. She felt herself being lifted off the ground. She opened her eyes. Bill held her in his arms as if she was weightless. She leaned back against his chest and put her arms around his neck. He lifted his arm, bringing her head near to his own and kissed her. The heat was a furnace now. Her nipples felt hard as rocks, and her groin -- down there it felt hot and wet, oh so wet, and...empty. "The...the bedroom's through...through there." She nodded her head towards the door.

Bill smiled and kissed her again. He walked to the door and pushed it open with his shoulder. A moment later, he gently laid Natalie down on the bed. He climbed onto the bed next to her and took her in his arms.

* * * * *

A sudden movement of the bed half-woke Natalie. 'Someone's in the bed with me.' She panicked for a moment; then the memory of the night before came to her. She still felt some of the afterglow of sex in her nipples and her groin. She smiled, stretched, and opened her eyes, ready for more of the same. It was still dark, but she could see by the lights of the city coming through her window. Bill was sitting on the edge of the bed. He was...he was getting dressed.

"Is something wrong?" She rolled over and turned on the lamp on the bed table. The clock radio dial said it was just after 3 AM.

Bill finished tying his shoe. "I'm sorry I woke you, Natalie. I've got to be at my office at 8:20. I was going head home now so I could get a little sleep and still have time to shower and shave."

Natalie sat up. She was still a bit sleepy, but now her body wanted something else -- wanted him. She realized that she was naked. She could feel the cool air on her bare breasts. Her nipples were still erect, and now they were getting even harder. "Isn't there _anything_ I can do to get you to stay for a while?" Her voice was low and sultry.

Bill turned towards her and took her in his arms. "You are the craziest -- and the sexiest -- woman I ever met, and I would like nothing more than to stay here and make love to you until morning -- or afternoon -- or evening. He reached up and took her head in his hands and pulled her even nearer to him. Then he kissed her.

On the forehead.

"Unfortunately, I can't. The meeting this morning is my briefing for the trip. You know, the trip I promised not to talk to you about until Friday. I _have_ to be there."

"Pooh!" She tried to pout, but it just felt silly, and she giggled.

"Well, if it's any consolation. I expect to have a very hard time concentrating at that meeting. I'll keep thinking of you, how great you were last night, and the way you look right now. And what an idiot I am for leaving. There's no way I'll be able to pay attention to what my boss is saying."

"Good! I want you to have a hard...time." Her hand ran across his chest -- he was only wearing his undershirt -- then snaked down quickly to his crotch. She could feel his erection straining the fabric of his slacks, and she began to gently rub it.

"Stop that!" Bill said, swatting at her hand. "I have to get going."

Natalie leaned over, leaned against him. He was in just his undershirt; his shirt still in the living room with his jacket and tie. She pressed her breasts against his back and put her arms around him. "Are you sure?" She began to gently kiss the back of his neck.

Bill pulled away and stood up. "Natalie," he laughed. "You are insatiable."

"And this is a bad thing?" She reached out suddenly and grabbed him by his belt. She pulled him a bit closer as her other hand began to unzip his pants.

Bill sighed. He had to be crazy. Here he was in the bedroom of a beautiful, naked woman who was practically begging him to fuck her, and he, idiot that he was, was trying to leave. But he _had_ to be awake and alert for that meeting. Otherwise, they were just as likely to send somebody else. Well, he sighed again, if she was this eager, she'd be with him there in Seattle, and he could give her the attention and time that she deserved.

Of course, that didn't mean that he couldn't do anything for her now. He pulled her to him and kissed her -- hard. She moaned and parted her lips slightly. As his tongue moved into her mouth, his hand reached down to message her breast. The nipple stiffened as he rubbed a finger across it.

Bill let the kiss continue for a while, his tongue wrestling with hers. Then he broke the kiss and moved his head down slowly, kissing her chin, her neck, on down to the other breast. He took the nipple in his mouth, flicking his tongue over it. All the time, his hand continued to work at her other breast.

Natalie's breath grew uneven. She pushed her chest forward as if trying to stuff more of her breast into his mouth. He gently lapped at her nipple for a while, then closed his mouth slightly and ran his teeth over the nipple. Natalie gasped, but she didn't pull away.

Bill continued for a moment or two. The he switched, now sucking the other nipple, while his hand now massaged the one he had been sucking.

At the same time, his other hand began to spiderwalk down her stomach. He could feel her muscles twitching under her skin as his fingers moved over it. He found her navel -- she was an "innie" -- and his fingernail traced circles around it before the hand moved further down.

Eventually, his fingers reached her soft nether curls. A nail traced a gentle figure-8 over her vaginal lips, and he felt them twitching at the sensation. Two fingers began a gentle in-and-out motion while a third found her clitoris and began to flick it like a guitar pick.

Natalie gasped. Bill was still sucking her breast. Her arms went around his head, holding it there. He matched the rhythm of his tongue to the finger on her clit.

To Natalie, it felt as if there was a direct electric connection between the two. She twisted her head form side to side, moaning. She felt herself getting ever so wet. A warmth, a wave of pure pleasure was building inside her. She moved her hips to match his rhythm, and clutched even tighter at his head, almost smothering him with her flesh.

Then something _wonderful_ broke free inside of her. Every nerve in her body "pinged" and she screamed and screamed, "Yes!" over and over again until it became a hiss and sizzle in her throat. It was first a yell, then a growl, then a low, sated purr. Her arms, her entire body went limp, and she collapsed onto the bed.

Bill leaned over and kissed her gently on the cheek. "Later," he said. "_Definitely_ later." She looked at him through half-closed eyes and smiled. She felt too weak to talk. She closed her eyes and fell asleep, the smile still on her face.

Bill waited until he heard her snoring, a soft purring noise. He tiptoed into the living room and closed the door behind him. Only then did he reach down into his pants to adjust his erect penis to a slightly more comfortable position. "If _you_ had any sense at all," he thought, "you'd go back in there." He'd never met a girl so passionate -- or so quick to respond to any sort of sexual touch. "She's worth being a _month_ late for that meeting." He sighed as he buttoned his shirt. "Yeah, and you can show her how you feel about her when you're in Seattle together." He slipped on his shoes and left, still carrying his jacket and tie.

* * * * *

The radio alarm woke Natalie at the usual time. Her body was still tingling, and she rolled over, hoping to find Bill in bed with her. He wasn't. 'Damn,' she thought. Then she smiled. 'But he sure had a great way of saying goodbye. A girl could certainly....' Suddenly all of his -- of Nate's -- memories came flooding back into her mind. If was as if somehow the Nate had been sleeping since the evening before. Sleeping, or would "in a trance" be a better description? "Mrs. Hejak." She all but spit the words.

"You even gonna act like you was a girl." The old lady's words came back to Natalie. She certainly had last night, both times. She stretched catlike on the bed. It _had_ been fun, but she wanted her old life back. Or did she? This was getting confusing. Mrs. Hejak wanted to scare him into breaking up with Kera. Why was she making Natalie's life seem so damnably attractive? Unless....Suddenly, she knew. She knew exactly what was going on.

Mrs. Hejak's whole point with this spell -- of his being a woman -- was that Kera not be hurt. If he _broke up_ with Kera, there was no way she wouldn't be hurt. She loved him -- Nate -- him. At least, he hoped she did. _But_ if they just had a pleasant evening together, he'd change back into Natalie at the end of it, and he and Kera would never have been engaged. She'd have no memory of him, so she couldn't possibly be hurt.

For that to happen, Nate had to want -- actually want -- to be Natalie. Well, after last night -- and early this morning, it was certainly an attractive option. If -- no, no, _when_ -- she got back to being Nate, she was going to see how Kera liked some of the things Bill had done to her. Natalie's nipples began to tingle at the memory, and her vagina felt warm, and just a little wet. Damn!

She cursed under her breath and got out of bed. She had to get ready for work, though she might take a little longer than absolutely necessary in the shower.

* * * * *

"Call for you from Mr. Ecklar." The intercom interrupted Natalie in mid thought.

"I'll take it," she said almost too fast.

"I thought you would," came Cindy, the receptionist's, voice. "He sounds like a very nice guy."

"Snoop." Natalie clicked the blinking button on her phone. "Hello, Bill. I was just thinking about you."

"Good thoughts, I hope."

"Mmmm, the best." Damn, her female self seemed to be taking over again. Be careful, Nate.

"I just wanted to thank you for last night and ask if I could see you again this evening."

"I -- I'd love to." Wait a minute, what about Kera and the spell? "But I can't. A friend's coming into town today, and we made arrangements weeks ago to have dinner tonight and catch up on things." Man, that was _almost_ the truth. Nate never thought he could be such an accomplished liar.

"I understand. Girl talk and all that."

He sounded disappointed, but he was trying to hide it. 'He's so sweet,' Natalie thought.

"But we are still on for that art exhibition on Friday, right?"

"Unless the universe changes." Now why had she said that? "I'm sorry, private joke."

There was a knock on her office door. Cindy came in carrying a vase filled with roses. "These just came." She carefully put it on the file cabinet and handed Natalie the card. "He is nice," she said with a wink and left.

Natalie realized that she was still on the phone. "I'm sorry, Bill. The oddest thing just happened."

"Do you like the roses?"

"How did you..."

"I tipped the delivery man five bucks to call me from the lobby of your building. When he called me, I called you. Do you like them?"

"They're...they're lovely."

"Now read the card."

Natalie pulled the card out of its envelope. "To Natalie: Last night was the wonderful start of what I hope will be a long and loving time together. I can't wait until I see you again. With All My Love, Bill."

Natalie felt her eyes begin to fill with tears. He loved her. "Bill, the card. It's...it's beautiful."

"No, the flowers are very nice, and the words on the card are the truth. _You_ are beautiful."

"I don't know what to say, Bill. I -- I'm overwhelmed."

"That makes two of us." He paused a moment, and she could hear a second voice at his end. "I'm sorry, Natalie. That was my boss yelling at me to -- quote -- 'get my ass in gear for the meeting.' Unquote. I have to go. I'll call you later, okay?"

"You'd better." Ooops. Or did she really mean that? "Goodbye, Bill. She actually made a kissing sound.

"Count on it." There was the sound of a kiss; then the line went dead.

Natalie leaned back in her chair and smiled. Maybe it wouldn't be too bad to be a woman. Bill loved her as much as Nate loved Natalie, and she did have feelings about him. "No," she said, sitting up. "_I_ have feelings about Bill, strong ones, too, but I'm not sure whether I love him or just love what he does to me. Nate _loves_ Kera, loves her very much."

'Yes," said the voice inside her. "But wouldn't Bill be a pretty good trade for Kera. Would it be so bad to give in? Would it hurt so much to be a woman -- to be Bill's woman?"

'But if I do that,' she said to herself, 'Mrs. Hejak wins. What she did to me that first night, the way I acted, spending the night with Bill. It was her making me do that, making me think and act that way. If I decide to be with Bill, she'll have won. She'll be rid of me for good; and Kera won't even know that she lost our love. I just can't let that happen to her.'

"Yeah," she said aloud, "but the only way to avoid it is to stay male and to break up with Kera, to hurt her myself." There had to be a better solution, and she was going to do her damnedest to think of it. In the meantime, she might as well get back to work.

* * * * *

"Hey, Natalie, can I interest you in lunch?" Lynn was her usually cheery self. "You can tell me all about your -- umm -- date with Bill."

Natalie looked at the wall clock. It was 12:15. Kera's plane was due in some time before 1. "I -- I think I better skip it today, Lynn. I'm expecting a call, and I don't want to miss it."

"Phooey to that. You just don't want to give me all the juicy details. I heard Bill come in around a quarter of 4."

"Then you should have asked him."

"I did, at breakfast. All he did was smile, one of those 'took the undertaker three days to wipe it off' smiles. Girl, you must be damn good."

"A lady never tells."

"Yeah, but since when are you a lady? Well, if you can't come to lunch, I'll go with Cindy. You can fill me in later. Okay?"

"We'll -- we'll see. Okay?"

"Not in the least, but I'll talk to you about it later." She waved and closed the door behind her.

Natalie worked for about ten more minutes, as much to make sure that Lynn had left as to get anything done. The last thing she wanted was to be around people when she changed back into Nate. There was no way she would be able to explain it to Lynn -- or anybody else.

She bought a chicken sandwich, bag of pretzels, and a diet coke from the vending machines, went back to her room, and locked the door. Nobody would think anything of that; lots of people did it when they wanted to take their lunch break in privacy.

She finished lunch and tried to relax with a magazine, but she gave up after she'd read the same page three times. 'As long as I'm going to sit here,' she thought, 'I may as well to figure out what to do tonight.'

'Not breaking up, giving in to being Natalie is _out_; if for no other reason then because I won't give Mrs. Hejak the satisfaction. That means _I_ have to break up with Kera. Is there any way that could be a positive thing? Yes, if I could use it to be beat Mrs. Hejak; use it to get her off my back, maybe even make her help us get back together. Which we could, couldn't we? Maybe...maybe I can talk to Mrs. Hejak. She's got to feel upset when she sees how Kera takes it. Maybe she'll -- hah -- even feel guilty about it.'

'Yeah, I can try to talk to her -- plead with her to let Kera and me get back together. Then, if -- no, when, it's got to be when -- I have to try to get Kera to take me back. Oh, Lord, she's got to take me back. I -- I love her. We've got to be together. The only reason I'm not giving in and staying Natalie is because I'd rather be with her than with Bill.'

She was about to break down and cry, when she felt a tingle run through her body. She looked at her hand. It seemed to be getting bigger, growing more coarse. There was -- there was hair on her knuckles, and the polish was gone from her nails. She looked down at her chest, watched her breasts shrinking even as her chest and shoulders expanded.

Then the room suddenly went black.

Nate opened his eyes and looked down at himself; at his flat, muscular chest inside his white shirt and Windsor-knotted tie. A hand shot down into his slacks. _It_ were back! The whole male package was damn well back. He looked up and realized that he was in his own office, the Division Director's office. The report Natalie had written was on his desk, but now Mark -- his subordinate, Mark -- was the one who'd written it.

Nate jumped out of his chair and almost ran out of the office. He was...himself again, and he was going to stay that way. He looked around for somebody to talk to, somebody to call him Nate or, even better, _Mr._ Quinn.

It was lunch hour, though, and nobody seemed to be around.

"Miller, Hersh, and Greene." Cindy! Of course, the receptionists and secretaries took lunch in shifts to make sure the phones were covered. Nate walked quickly towards her desk. Then he stopped, all but froze in his tracks. There, on a corner of Cindy's desk, he saw....

"N-Nice flowers, Cindy." They were the ones Bill had sent him -- to Natalie.

"Thank you, Mr. Quinn. My...umm...boyfriend sent them."

Nate swallowed, closed his eyes for a second. "That wouldn't be Bill Ecklar, would it?" He _had_ to ask.

She looked surprised. "Yes, but how did...do you know Bill?"

"Umm...sort of, I was...umm...talking to him recently. He -- umm -- said he'd met somebody who worked at my office."

"It must have been very recently. We just met the other night at Nickleberry's, but we really -- umm -- hit it off."

Somehow, Nate felt relieved. Bill and Cindy made a good match. He turned and started back towards his office. At the last second, he turned and said, "Have a good time in Seattle." He was halfway back to his office before Cindy recovered enough to answer.

He'd only been back in his office a few minutes when the intercom buzzed. "Hello, Cindy. Bill told me he was going to ask. When I saw the flowers, I guessed that you had said you'd go with him."

"I'm not. Bill did mention that he was going to Seattle, but he didn't ask me. I like him; he's a great guy," Cindy said, "but I think it's a little early in our relationship to go away for a week with him, don't you? " She paused for a moment. "But that isn't why I buzzed. Kera Hejak is on line 2."

"Thanks, Cindy." He found himself agreeing with her, as he clicked the line. "Kera! Welcome back. How was your trip?"

"Exhausting, but profitable. I'll tell you all about it tonight -- that is, if you haven't anything else to do."

"A million things, but I'd much rather be with you." Damn, he felt like he was leading her on. "I'll pick you up at your place at 7, okay."

"Wonderful. That gives me time to get home and take a nice, looong, soak in the tub before you show up. Unless you'd like to show up early and, maybe, scrub my back or something."

Nate sighed. He knew that bathtub. It was more than big enough for the both of them -- he'd proven that on more than one occasion, and the mental image of Kera stretched out in it was one he definitely didn't need right now. "I'd love too, Kera, but I'm stuck here with meetings all afternoon."

"Until tonight then. I love you, Nate."

"I love you, too." Damn! Even if he meant, he shouldn't have said it, not with what he was going to do -- what he _had_ to do tonight. He sighed and listened to the dial tone for a while.

'Seattle must have been more of Mrs. Hejak's magic,' he thought. 'I should have realized it from how quickly I jumped into bed with Bill. She not only had me "act like a girl," she got me hornier than a hoot owl. I'm damned lucky it was somebody as nice as Bill that I -- um -- fell for.'

* * * * *

Nate looked over at Kera, as he opened the bottle of wine he'd brought with him. She was sitting on her couch, smiling at him, while he worked at the small bar in a corner of her living room. "Penny for your thought," she said.

'Might as well get it over with,' Nate thought. He poured Kera some wine, then filled a second glass for himself. He walked over and put his own glass down on a coaster, then handed the other to her on the couch. He took a deep breath and sat down opposite her. "Kera, I -- I've got something to tell you."

"Yes, Nate." She smiled. Damn, she had a beautiful smile. He had to be crazy to give her up, but if he didn't....

"I -- I'm afraid that I -- we -- I don't want to see you any more. It -- it's hard to explain, but I -- umm -- need to end our relationship. I'm sorry. Believe me, I -- I'm really sorry."

She almost dropped her glass. "Why, Nate, why? I -- I thought we had -- that you loved me."

"I -- Kera, I can't explain it. It's just -- I don't want to, but I have -- I have to."

"Have to? What do you mean, 'have to?' Is there -- is this because of -- of another woman."

"I -- uh -- I really can't explain." How could he tell Kera about what her mother had done to him?

She had been about to cry, but now she stopped and looked at him very strangely. "Yes, you do." She made an odd gesture with her hand. Her voice sounded _different_. "You have to answer my questions and answer truthfully." She took a quick sip of the wine. "Are you doing this because of another woman?"

He didn't want to -- didn't dare -- answer. "Yes, there is another woman involved." What was he saying? He couldn't stop himself. 'Oh, Lord,' he thought. 'Kera has the same sort of magic powers as her mother.'

"Who -- no, don't tell me. You said you loved me, but now, because of this other woman, you want to dump me. Am I right?"

"I -- I don't want to. She's making me do it." He wanted to explain that it was her mother, but Kera's own words were keeping him from saying so.

"Making you! Well, that tears it. You lead me on all these months, get me to sleep with you, make me think we're going to get married. Then you dump me when some new piece of ass comes along. Well, I have something to say about that." She stood up and gestured at him. The same gesture her mother had made! No, it couldn't be; could it?

Yes, it could. The air shimmered around her hand. The shimmering formed a mass of silvered sparkles that flowed through the air and towards Nate. He tried to dodge, again, but as before, the flow followed him and suddenly passed without effort into his body.

Nate felt that strange cold tingling in his chest. The tingling grew in strength, then it seemed to flow outward to every part of him. He couldn't move. He closed his eyes as the sensation reached his head. Instead of darkness with vague patterns of light, he saw the same sparkles he had seen with his eyes opened. It was as if they were actually flowing through, filling up every part of his body.

Nate felt the same cold tingle as his body began to change. He tried to speak, but he couldn't. He was paralyzed, barely able to move his head to look down at his body.

He looked down and saw breasts growing, pushing out the front of his shirt. He could feel the rough cotton of his undershirt against his erect and newly sensitive nipples. His clothes became looser as his body shrank. He watched his hands grow smaller, his fingers get slimmer until his shirt cuff slid down to cover everything but his fingertips. His pants grew tight again as his hips flared out. He felt the material of his pants move against his leg, and he realized that he had probably shrunk several inches in height.

He felt his hair growing down over his ears, tickling the back of his neck. His face seemed to twitch as his features softened and became feminine. The tingling moved down his body and finally seemed to concentrate in his groin. He felt his penis grow hard and begin to throb. Then the feeling slowly faded away, and he knew his penis was being absorbed back into his body along with his testicles to become female organs. He could feel a shifting below his stomach, as if something was moving up inside his groin as that change took place.

The tingling stopped. His body was finished changing. He was a girl. "Not again," he -- no, she was Natalie again -- she groaned.

"What did you mean 'Not again,' Natalie?" Kera's anger gave way to curiosity.

"I...your mother...while you were out of...she turned me into...Natalie." Nate -- Natalie -- wasn't sure how much to tell, but she still felt the compulsion to answer any question Kera asked.

"She turned you into -- why?"

"She...she said I was betraying you -- I wasn't, honest, I wasn't -- but she thought I was. She said the only way to get turned back was to dump you. I --"

"So you were so afraid of losing your manhood that you went along. Is that the story?"

"No, I...yes, I didn't want to be a girl. I -- I enjoyed it too much. It scared me, but I...I thought that if I -- we split up, then maybe I could have a second chance; maybe get your mother to let me...marry you."

Kera scratched her head. "The spell I put on you won't let you lie. Do you love me, Natalie -- Nate, I mean."

"Yes, I...whatever happens, I love you. I always will."

Kera ran over to Natalie and kissed her with a passion that surprised the transformed male. "I'm not a lesbian, dear, but I couldn't wait. I'll change you back and show you how I _really_ feel."

"But your mother? She said her spell was still on me. I changed back to...dump you. If we're still together at the end of the evening, her spell will --"

"Is her spell still there?" Kera frowned. "Well, I think it'll end when I turn you back." She made a gesture, the same sort that she'd used to transform Nate just moments before. Another silvered glow formed about her hand. She pointed at Natalie, and the glow moved towards the transformed man. Natalie flinched a little as the glow hit her and sank into her body. She felt the tingling again and sighed in relief. In a few moments, she'd be Nate again.

The tingling spread through her body, but, instead of a vague warmth, it grew into a searing pain. Every nerve, every muscle in Natalie's body seemed to be in agony.

She was unconscious before she hit the floor.

* * * * *

"Are you all right? Please be all right." Nate heard Kera's voice from far, far away.

Gradually, he returned to consciousness. He was lying in his bed, tucked under several blankets. There was a cool cloth on his forehead. His eyes opened. "Ummmm." His voice was little more than a croak.

Kera was there, smiling that wonderful smile of hers. "You gave me quite a scare for a while."

"See. I tell you this one not dead." Nate shivered at that voice. Mrs. Hejak! What was she doing here?

Nate tried to pull the covers up over his head to hide. He saw his fingers yanking at the blanket, his long, slender fingers with the polished nails. He lifted the blankets and saw his breasts, still there inside a lacy blue bra.

He -- she was still Natalie.

Kera gently took his -- her -- hand. "I'm so sorry, Natalie. My spell and Mama's merged somehow inside your body. The pain that you felt was the magic locking you into a female form."

"No...not a girl." Natalie looked from Kera to Mrs. Hejak and back. They both shook their heads.

"This what happen when young one meddles." Mrs. Hejak scowled.

"When I -- Mama -- if you hadn't put that spell on him, none of this would have happened."

"I say I sorry. How I know that only reason my little one so upset was because she had to leave her lover, not because he betray her?"

"You could have just asked me, Mama. But no, you have to --"

"Please," Natalie said, her voice growing stronger. "You mean I'm stuck like this. I can never be a man again. There's no way the two of you can undo this?"

"Is not possible," Mrs. Hejak said. "Two spells join together. Then they get in every cell of you body. We break, you...die."

"I might as well be dead," Natalie said. "I -- I don't really mind being Natalie so much -- even though I'd much rather be myself -- my _male_ self, that is." She squeezed Kera's hand. "It's that you -- you and I can never be together. I love you, Kera."

There were tears in Kera's eyes. "And I love you...Nate, but you don't have to be 'Natalie.' Mama's a very powerful, well, witch, I guess, is the easiest way to say it. She can make you into any female you might want to be. She can -- can even f-fix it so you -- you don't re-remember me."

"I -- I don't want to forget you, Kera. I love..." Natalie suddenly had an idea. "Any female? If that's the case, and if you're willing, Kera, then I may have a way out of this mess."

* * * * *

Kera came out of the bathroom, his hair still wet from the shower. He smiled as he looked at the woman lying there on the bed. She had hung up the light blue summer dress that she had worn on their honeymoon trip. Now, she was lying there on the bed properly dressed for her wedding night, in an electric blue push-up bra, high cut panties, and high-top stockings. A matching blue garter clung to one thigh.

Smiling, Kera walked over to the bed. The sight of his wife, Nate, displaying herself was exciting him, tenting the towel that was the only thing he wore. "Are you sure about this, Nate?" he asked. "Just because I look exactly like you now, doesn't mean I know how to use your body the way you used to."

"No, but you should certainly knew what to do to your old body -- that is to say -- my body, now." Nate smiled and ran her tongue across her lip just the way Kera used to. Why not? She was Kera's double -- no, she _was_ Kera now. She reached out for the now male Kera, now and forever Nate, as he lay down on the bed beside her. "After all, that's what marriage is about. Getting to know each other a whole lot better."

And they lived happily ever after.

The End



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