“Jamie?” The young man asks with confusion as he answers his front door. “What are you doing here this early?”
“I’m here,” I tell the expectant young man, “Because I love you… Stuart.” Stuart closes his eyes and takes a deep breath.
“You love me… But?” Stuart asks, making me smile and roll my eyes at the handsome transman’s paranoia.
“No buts,” I say. “Plenty of ANDs, though. I love you AND I want to be with you. I love you AND I’m IN love with you. I love you… AND I love you more than anyone else.”
“’Anyone’ else?” Stuart asks, making me giggle and roll my eyes again.
“EVERYONE else,” I say, leaning in and kissing Stuart- the last man I’ll ever kiss. My whole body feels as though it’s about to melt as Stuart places his hands on my slim waist, gently pulling me closer into him.
“I love you too, Jamie,” Stuart whispers, clearly fighting back tears.
“Can- can you trust me again?” I ask. “I promise, I’ll never even LOOK at Keith, or any other man, I-“
“Yes, I can trust you,” Stuart laughs. “I’m sorry I’m so paranoid all the time. I LOVE you. If you say you love me more than everyone else… I believe you.”
“I still don’t like being interrupted,” I say, making Stuart giggle with embarrassment.
“Sorry, sorry,” Stuart laughs.
“I was going to say, before I was so rudely interrupted,” I continue, “I want you to be the LAST man I ever kiss, or make love with.”
“Jamie...” Stuart asks. “Are you proposing? Because we’re kinda only just getting back on our feet…”
“Nothing like that,” I say. “Not YET, anyway!” Stuart laughs and gives me a big hug.
“It’s kinda cold,” Stuart laughs. “Come on in…” I smile a wide, contented grin as I follow Stuart into his house and up to his bedroom, where we sit together on his bed, intimately cuddling each other.
“Your nail polish is kinda chipped,” Stuart jokes, making me laugh as I inspect the ‘damage’. “Nine years ago I’d have offered to help you repair them…”
“Nine years ago I wouldn’t have been here,” I sigh. “Nine years ago I was a fourteen year old boy who’d have run a mile if you put nail polish anywhere near him.”
“Denial,” Stuart sighs. “Yeah, I remember that stage…” I take a deep breath, remembering that Stuart doesn’t know the ‘real’ circumstances that started my change- nor will he ever do so.
“Besides,” I giggle, “I’m glad you don’t have any nail polish to hand. I only like REAL men!” Stuart laughs happily as he gives me another long, happy kiss.
“What’s in the bag?” Stuart asks, spotting my carrier bag. I blush slightly as I open it, showing him the watch, necklace and DVD.
“Ah, yes,” Stuart says. “Let me guess- the other gifts were from Keith?”
“The watch was from Keith, the DVD was from Paul,” I explain. “And no, the DVD isn’t a ‘sex tape’.”
“I never said it was,” Stuart says with mock-innocence as he scoops ‘his’ necklace out of the bag and gently fastens it around my neck. “Did you like the song?”
“I LOVED the song,” I say, playing with the memory stick pendant. “Kinda wish you could play it for me in person…” Stuart smiles, quickly hopping off his bed and picking up his guitar. Within seconds, he’s tuned up and has launched into a quiet, intimate rendition of his song, reducing me to near-tears by the end of it.
“Right now,” Stuart says, giving me a soft hug, “my heart is shining brighter than a billion suns.”
“I love you so much,” I whisper.
“I love you forever,” Stuart whispers, giving me a long, lingering kiss that seems to last forever, and yet I don’t want to ever end.
We spend the next couple of hours in Stuart’s bedroom, kissing, laughing, talking and singing (Stuart even tries to give me a basic guitar lesson). We’d have stayed there all day, but we’re interrupted just before lunchtime by a knock on Stuart’s bedroom door.
“Stu?” Becca’s familiar voice calls. “Stu, remember we’re going out for lunch today, dad’s going to throw a fit if you’re not ready…” Becca opens the door, only for her eyes to go wide as she sees me sat next to her brother on his bed.
“Jamie!?” Becca asks confusedly. “Um, what are you doing here?”
“What,” Stuart laughs, “I’m not allowed to have my girlfriend in my bedroom anymore?” Becca’s eyes go wide as she realises precisely what Stuart said.
“Your gir- Jamie?” Becca stammers.
“Hi Becca!” I say to the grinning teenager, before standing up and giving the girl a long hug.
“Thank GOD!” Becca laughs, returning my hug. “Though you still need to get ready for lunch. You too, ‘sis’!” I giggle as Becca teases me- I know how close she is to Stuart, so her approval of our relationship restarting means a lot.
“Umm, do you have any nail polish?” I ask, showing the giggling girl my ugly nails. Becca simply giggles harder and nods, grabbing my hand and dragging me back to her room, where her own boyfriend is laid back on her bed.
“Riley, out,” she orders the nineteen year old boy, who meekly complies. “Sorry about the mess…”
“No, I like it,” I say, looking around. “Your room’s cool!” I’m not just being nice to Becca- I do like her room, even if there are a LOT of photographs of herself on the wall.
“Aww, thanks!” Becca giggles, reaching into her dresser and sorting through dozens of bottles of nail polish. “High praise coming from an Angel!”
“Oh please, YOU’RE an Angel in all but name anyway,” I say as I sit down opposite Becca, holding out my fingers and letting her get to work.
“Hehe,” Becca giggles. “Well, maybe when I get this damned band together that Joshua’s been promising me and Addie for months… Kinda galling that Nikki and Sarah got their ‘Angel group’ before I did, heh.”
“They’re not really an ‘Angel Group’,” I say, “not yet anyway, and besides, you’ve been signed to Joshua much longer than they have!”
“Yeah, I guess,” Becca giggles. “Jamie… Why did you pick Stuart? I mean, I know, he’s my brother, I should root for him, and I could do WITHOUT hearing the more ‘gory details’ of your love life-“
“No one understands me like him,” I say with a happy, contented voice. “And no one understands him like me…”
“Now hang on, I HAVE known him for twenty years…” Becca mock-complains, making us both giggle.
“You know what I mean,” I chuckle as Becca begins drying my fingernails. “What we share… It’s intimate- I’m not going to use the word ‘unique’ but it’s special, something I can’t find anywhere else. And despite his constant claims that he IS a macho idiot… He’s so sensitive. He’s not like any other man I know- he’s so much BETTER.”
“If you say so,” Becca says. “To me, he’ll always be a big idiot, albeit a big idiot with a big heart.”
“And I for one wouldn’t have him any other way,” I giggle, examining my perfectly-repaired nails.
“He was really broken up when he found out about you and Keith,” Becca says coldly, trying (but failing) not to sound too accusatory. “I’d never seen him so devastated, even when you DON’T include the bust lip Keith gave him.”
“I’ll never hurt him again, I promise,” I say as we head back to Stuart’s bedroom, where the sexy man has changed into a smart shirt and tie. I greet my boyfriend with a long kiss and link fingers with him as we walk downstairs, but Becca’s words linger in the back of my mind- I DID hurt Stuart, and that’s something I can’t undo… Nor are the feelings I still have for the man I cheated on Stuart with. As much as I wish I didn’t, I do still love Keith… I just now know for certain that I love Stuart most of all.
I try to put all thoughts of Keith out of mind as I approach Stuart’s parents, who are clearly surprised to see me walking hand-in-hand with their son.
“Mum, dad, I believe you know Jamie, my girlfriend?” Stuart says smugly, making me blush with embarrassment.
“If you’re sure,” Stuart’s dad says to his son whilst giving me a cautious handshake. “Guess I’ll have to call the restaurant and ask to change our reservation to a table for eight…”
“Oh, please don’t go to any bother on my behalf,” I say, feeling slightly embarrassed (not to mention overly casually dressed) by the attention I’m drawing from the rest of the room.
“Nonsense,” Mr Milton says. “You’re my son’s girlfriend, that means you’re coming with us to lunch!”
“It’s kinda-of a Milton family tradition, every Boxing Day we always go to the same restaurant for lunch,” Stuart explains.
“And as you may have gathered from the last time you went out with Stuart,” Emma- Stuart’s older sister- says smugly, “this family is nothing if not fond of tradition!”
“Except we’ll have to replace our ‘traditional’ bottle of wine for something non-alcoholic this year!” Stuart’s mother teases Emma, patting her belly.
“Oh- come on,” Emma pleads, “one glass of wine isn’t going to kill the baby…”
“You are not doing a single thing that might risk my first grandchild!” Mrs Milton says firmly in a voice that not only makes Emma wince, but makes Stuart grip my hand harder too.
“Here I was thinking your dad was the stern one,” I whisper to Stuart, making the sexy transman laugh before a glare from his mother shuts him up. I breathe a small sigh of relief at no longer being the centre of attention- the last thing I need over lunch is accusatory stares being fired at me from all corners.
After Mrs Milton teases Emma some more, we head out to the driveway, where Stuart, Becca, Riley and I get in Stuart’s car.
“Seriously, DO get a room,” Becca laughs as Stuart gives me a quick kiss before we depart. “It really is so cool that you two are back together. First Viks reconciles with her parents, now you two are back together, all we need now is Charlotte and Keith getting back together and we’ll have had the most perfect, magical Christmas!” I bristle slightly at the mention of my BFF and the man who I very nearly chose ahead of Becca’s brother.
“I think they’re going to need a bit more time,” I say sadly.
“How did you find out about Viks, anyway?” Stuart asks.
“Addie told me on Facebook last night,” Becca says. “Jon and Viks went to Joshua’s for Christmas morning, then he drove them to her parents in the evening and insisted on sorting everything out… You know how he is, always insisting on fixing things for his ‘extended family’, even on Christmas night!”
“Yeah,” I laugh.
“I’ll remind you that you said that next time you complain about not having a girl band yet,” Stuart jokes, making Becca groan with frustration as the rest of the car laughs.
Much to my relief, the lunch goes smoothly. I’m well-acquainted enough with the Milton family that I can avoid all the traditional ‘new girlfriend’ questions. I’m not even that underdressed in my sweater dress and boots, despite the rest of the family wearing smart clothing- it turns out the restaurant isn’t THAT highbrow, it’s just that Stuart’s family all like dressing smartly for dinner. After an afternoon of hearty food, talking and laughter (I even manage to make Stuart’s dad chuckle at one point), Stuart drives us home, stopping off first at Riley’s house to drop him off along with Becca. As we prepare to pull away, however, we spot a familiar tall figure stepping out of Riley’s house- that of his older sister Krystie, hand-in-hand with her new boyfriend Mikey.
“Hi you two!” Stuart says happily, drawing the couple’s attention.
“Oh, hi Stu!” Krystie says, before her eyes widen as she sees me sat in Stuart’s passenger seat. “…Jamie? What are YOU doing in Stuart’s car? Unless…” I giggle happily as I pull Stuart back into his car and give him a long, deep kiss.
“Oh, yay!” Krystie cheers. “This is so cool, you two are so perfect together!
“We are,” Stuart says, making me giggle happily. “You two off out on a date, what with no girls' night tonight?”
“If by ‘date’ you mean ‘pizza, Netflix and sex’, then yes,” Mikey says, making his girlfriend give him a playful whack in the arm.
“…So obviously we’re not going to offer a double date,” Krystie laughs. “Though we are going to HAVE to in the future!”
“Too right!” I say excitedly.
“How many people have you told?” Krystie asks.
“…Actually, you’re the first person to find out who isn’t a member of the Milton family,” I say embarrassedly. “Haven’t even told my parents yet. Or Charlotte…”
“Well get on it!” Krystie urges. “Besides, we need to get going. Our ‘pizza’s getting cold.”
“So’s our Netflix,” Mikey quips, making everyone laugh.
“And the ‘other thing’?” I ask.
“I’ll leave that to your imagination,” Krystie giggles as Stuart and I drive off into the cold December night.
We arrive home at Charlotte’s house shortly afterwards, where I make a big show of opening the front door. Thankfully, Charlotte’s ‘condition’ means she’s not as nimble on her feet as she used to be, meaning I’m able to hide Stuart in the cloakroom before she strides out of the living room, her arms crossed and a frown on her face.
“And where the HELL have you been all day?” Charlotte asks, tapping her stockinged foot on the marble-like floor of the entrance hall.
“Oh, just out with my BOYFRIEND all day,” I say smugly, wincing a little as Charlotte’s face falls- for all she knows, it might have been Keith I was hanging out with…
“…That’s your cue, idiot…” I sigh, smiling as Charlotte’s face turns into an expression of pure joy as she sees Stuart step out of the cloakroom.
“Yes, yes, yes!” Charlotte cheers, giving my boyfriend a quick hug. “I knew it! I knew you two were meant to be together! You’re so perfect and awesome!”
“Thanks,” Stuart says, awkwardly returning Charlotte’s hug. “Jamie’s pretty perfect and awesome too…” I give Stuart a soft, playful punch before wrapping my arms around his firm, sexy torso. “By which I of course mean she’s pretty, she’s perfect and she’s most definitely awesome!”
“Better,” I giggle. “You awesome, perfect, macho, sexy studmuffin!” Stuart giggles as Charlotte continues excitedly bouncing up and down.
“This is so cool,” Charlotte gushes. “Have you told the other boys yet?”
“’Other boys’?” Stuart asks, clearly trying to restrain his paranoia. “Paul and Keith, right?”
“The ‘runners-up’, yes,” I say. “And no I haven’t, not yet… I wanted to get ’reacquainted’ with you first.” Stuart smiles a sad-looking smile and gives me a soft kiss on my forehead.
“Thank you,” Stuart says.
“For what?” I ask.
“For picking me,” Stuart says. “I- I know it must have been a hard choice…”
“I made the RIGHT choice,” I say. “That’s all that matters.”
After a quick late dinner, Stuart and I head straight to my room, where we waste no time in freeing each other of our clothes. The second our bodies are both naked, we collapse onto my bed, locked in a passionate embrace. Stu's fingers soon find their way to my erect nipples, teasing them with their warmth, before heading down to my crotch and gently stroking my clitoris, just enough to send sharp bolts of ecstasy through my body. As the orgasm builds inside me, I take hold of Stuart's clitoris between two fingers and gently 'twiddle' it, smirking as I feel his entire body shiver and squirm. Mere seconds later, we simultaneously orgasm, Stuart panting heavily in my ear as I unashamedly yell his name- and only his name- at the top of my voice.
“Oh god,” Stuart pants heavily as he rolls off of me. “I love you so much…”
“I love you too,” I whisper, snuggling close to Stuart’s flat, masculine chest and idly playing with the wispy hair covering it. My mind, however, is still on the two boys I rejected, and how they’ll take the fact that they’ll need to move on…
I wake up the following morning still clung to Stuart’s warm, firm body, and I smile as I listen to his gentle, rhythmic snoring.
“Stop snoring!” I whisper into his ear, gently rousing him from his slumber.
“I don’t snore,” Stuart mumbles as he slowly opens his eyes. “Mmm… It wasn’t a dream, then?”
“Nope,” I say with a wide grin on my face. “Me and you, this is reality now.”
“Good,” Stuart says, giving me a long, slow kiss. “What do you want to do today?”
“Ugh,” I sigh. “What I WANT to do and what I NEED to do are very different things…” Stuart sighs as he immediately figures out what I’m referring to.
“You need to see Paul and Keith,” Stuart says, and I sadly nod in response. “It’s okay, I honestly do get it…”
“Keith bought me a really expensive watch for Christmas,” I explain. “I’d just feel wrong keeping it…”
“I know, I saw,” Stuart says nervously. “…And Paul?”
“He got me memories,” I say, chuckling slightly. “Kinda like your memory stick, only without an amazing song. AND the memories weren’t nearly as good as yours!”
“I get giving the watch back,” Stuart says. “Seems a bit harsh to throw Paul’s memories back at him.”
“Says the man who gave Paul a black eyes!” I joke, making Stuart chuckle embarrassedly. “Besides… I should tell him to his face that he isn’t ‘the one’. You know, kinda symbolically…”
“I get it, I get it,” Stuart says quietly, giving me a soft kiss on my temple. “I might get that as a tattoo, ‘I Am The One’, heh. You know Krystie and Mikey are already talking about getting matching tattoos even though they’ve only been dating a couple of months?”
“Well you’re not putting that tattoo gun anywhere near MY body!” I giggle as I wriggle free of Stuart’s grip, only to giggle and shriek as he grabs me again. When he starts waggling his fingers in front of my face, however, I begin to panic.
“No,” I say firmly. “No, no tickling, no, no…”
“Oh relax,” Stuart laughs. “As if I would… Last time I even TRIED you nearly gave ME a black eye!” I giggle and breathe a sigh of relief as I lay on my back on my side of the bed.
“Ah yes, I know what’s coming now,” Stuart says with a smile, reaching into my drawer and handing me my thick orange dilator and my lubricant gel. “Would I get in a lot of trouble if I held this in front of my crotch?”
“YES,” I say, before descending into a fit of giggles as Stuart watches me dilate. “Are- are you still booked in for October?”
“Booked in, also on the cancellations list so I might even get in earlier,” Stuart says with a smile. “This time eighteen months from now… We’ll both be post-op, we’ll both still be in our mid-twenties, got our whole lives ahead of us…”
“Are YOU proposing now?” I tease.
“Would you say yes if I was?” Stuart says, before grimacing at his question. “Umm, never mind, technically this IS a new relationship, a bit early to be thinking about things like that!”
“I just want to enjoy being boyfriend and girlfriend,” I say as I relax with the dilator inside me.
“I can handle enjoying being the rich, sexy and famous Jamie-Lee Burke’s boyfriend,” Stuart laughs, giving me a kiss before hopping off the bed and jumping in the shower. Once I’ve finished dilating, I strip naked and head into the bathroom, intercepting Stuart as he leaves the cubicle and pushing him back under the hot, running water. Smiling wickedly, I sink to my knees and suckle Stuart's clitoris between my lips, feeling him shiver and thrust his small length into my mouth as I increase my 'suction'. After Stuart orgasms, much to my surprise, HE then sinks to his knees and sticks out his tongue, lapping at my labia and quickly finding my clitoris, which he stimulates to my second orgasm in under twelve hours.
As we dry ourselves off, however, Stuart looks unhappy, despite the orgasm we just shared.
“What’s up?” I ask, wrapping my arms around Stuart’s naked torso and kissing the back of his neck.
“Oh it- it’s stupid…” Stuart sighs.
“No, tell me, please,” I say. “Whatever it is, I won’t get mad.”
“It’s just-“ Stuart says hesitantly. “Ugh, it’s two things. The first is- when I am post-op- you know I won’t be, um, ‘functional’, right? You’ll have no way of telling when I’m ‘done’…”
“Yes, I’ve read all about it,” I say warmly. “I’ve also read about the ‘aids’ we can use and how they really aren’t that much more intrusive than a normal contraceptive…”
“And- oh god, this is silly…” Stuart moans.
“TELL ME,” I chuckle.
“Sex in the shower…” Stuart says VERY cautiously. “…You told me that used to be a ‘you and Paul’ thing.” I sigh sadly and cuddle Stuart tighter as he attempts to pull his shorts and his trousers on over his hairy legs.
“Well there’s nothing stopping it from being OUR thing,” I giggle. “And you can’t tell me you didn’t enjoy it…”
“I know, I know, it’s my brain that needs adjusting,” Stuart sighs. “And yes, I DID enjoy it. A LOT.” I giggle happily as I let the sexy man button up his shirt whilst I apply a light layer of make-up and dress in a comfortable bra and thong set, a pair of opaque black tights, a loose knee-length skirt and a tight grey jumper. I grab my hairbrush and start to brush out my long hair when I grin as Stuart takes his turn to embrace me from behind.
“Mmm,” Stuart happily moans in my ear, making me smile uncontrollably. “Do you HAVE to go out today?”
“Got to get it over with at some point,” I sigh. “Obviously I’m not going to ask you to come along if you don’t want to.”
“I kinda do but I kinda don’t,” Stuart sighs. “Yes, I want to spend time with you- especially as you’ve got your girls night tonight- but… I kinda want to tell Keith myself, you know? And me and Paul being in the same room…”
“Yeah, not a good idea,” I giggle, grabbing my handbag and slipping my feet into a pair of flats. “I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?”
“I’ll be here,” Stuart says, giving me a long, slow kiss. “Though obviously NOT during tonight’s oestrogen festival!”
“Girl rays…” I tease, grabbing a handful of Stuart’s left buttock as we leave the house, kissing one more time before we get into our separate cars. I stare down at my handbag, which contains Keith’s watch and Paul’s DVD- neither boy will take the rejection well, but I DO need to reject them, if only so I’m not ‘keeping them hanging’ any more. Keith’s house is closest to Charlotte’s, so I start with him, though as I ring his doorbell, my whole body is shaking with nerves.
“Oh, hi Jamie,” Keith’s dad says as he opens the front door. “Keith’s upstairs in his room, I’ll call him down.”
“No, it’s okay,” I say. “I’ll go up to him.” The older man nods and lets me cautiously climb the stairs. I gently knock on Keith’s bedroom door and let myself in.
“Hi Jamie!” Keith says, delight and surprise etched on his face. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m here to thank you for my present,” I say, wincing as Keith’s smile grows wider. “…And to say that I can’t keep it. I’m sorry, Keith- I- I’ve got back together with Stuart.” As Keith’s face falls, my heart wrenches as my feelings for the tall man threaten to take control of my body.
“Jamie,” Keith whispers, placing his hands on my slender shoulders.
“No,” I say quietly, but firmly, as I push Keith’s hands away from me.
“I love you, Jamie,” Keith says. “You can’t tell me that you’d be happier with Stuart?”
“Believe me, I’ve thought about it long and hard,” I say.
“’Long and hard’ is precisely what Stuart ISN’T,” Keith argues, making me frown. “He can’t give you what I can…”
“Some things are more important than sex,” I say. “What’s in his heart is more important than what’s in his pants. Stuart and I… we’re soul mates. I’m sorry, Keith.”
“Do you really, truly believe that?” Keith asks me, and for a brief second, I pause. When Keith and I had sex… It was a feeling completely unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. But I HAVE experienced it since- with Paul- and whilst it was no less enjoyable with him, all it proved was that there was a very definite difference between ‘having sex’ and ‘making love’, and if I had to choose between sex and Stuart… It’s no choice at all.
“Yes, I really, truly believe it,” I say confidently. Much to my relief, Keith simply smiles a sad smile and nods his head.
“Then I hope you two will be very happy together,” Keith says stoically.
“You WILL find someone, Keith,” I say softly as I leave the clearly upset man alone with his thoughts. “You take care, okay?”
“You too, Jamie,” Keith says. “And if Stu ever does ANYTHING to hurt you…”
“I’ll send him round for a fat lip,” I giggle. “Goodbye, Keith.”
“Goodbye, Jamie,” Keith says as I shut his bedroom door and take a deep breath to clear my thoughts. Ever since I first met Keith, all those years ago, even before I’d ‘officially become Jamie-Lee’ I’d loved him in a way I’d never loved anyone before. Being with him had been my dream, my fantasy, and yet… When it became reality for those brief minutes, all I felt was empty. Whether it’s because I knew that all Keith saw when he fucked me was Charlotte, or because even back then, I knew I loved Stuart more, I can’t say. All I know is that the old saying is true: be careful what you wish for- you may get it.
I take a deep breath as I get back in my car and drive the short distance to Paul’s house- though as it’s a Saturday and the first day of the sales, it still takes long enough that I have plenty of time to compose my thoughts before I knock on his front door.
“Jamie!” Paul says with a wide grin as he opens the door to his flat. “I’d kinda hoped you’d drop round, please come in!”
“I’d better not,” I say quietly. “I just- I just came to say…” I roll my eyes as my carefully-prepared speech abandons me and I find myself tongue-tied.
“It’s okay,” Paul says. “Did you like my DVD?”
“I did,” I say, holding out the disc. “But I can’t accept it.” Paul’s smile falls as he takes the disc.
“Did you get together with Keith, then?” Paul sighs as he puts his disc in his pocket.
“No,” I say stoically. “I got back together with Stuart.”
“Stuart!?” Paul laughs. “What, after sleeping with me, you suddenly decided that you were a lesbian?”
“No, I’m straight,” I angrily spit. “I LOVE Stuart. I want to be with HIM.”
“He’s not a REAL man,” Paul snorts, making me bite my lip through sheer anger.
“Are you also saying that I’m not a REAL woman?” I growl.
“Well, no, you have a vagina,” Paul says. “The point is: so does quote-unquote he.”
“I didn’t have a vagina for the sixteen months that we were dating,” I say. “Does that make you suddenly gay?”
“Well, um, no,” Paul says, visibly backpedalling. “But you had breasts, you were taking hormones…”
“Stuart’s taking hormones,” I say angrily. “He DOESN’T have breasts, or any internal lady parts.”
“He’s small,” Paul argues feebly.
“He still smacked you down, didn’t he?” I chuckle. “Seems to me that he’s much more of a ‘real man’ than you’ll ever be. Enjoy the rest of your life, Paul.” Without saying another word, I spin on my heel and walk away from the frustrated young man who, for a very brief time, I DID love, but who successfully disproved the old saying that ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’.
As I drive home to Charlotte’s, I feel refreshed, renewed like for the first time in a very long while, my mind is clear and the road ahead of me is straight and free of any uncertainties. As I step through the front door, the familiar, wonderful sound of baby laughter tells me immediately that my goddaughter is present along with one or both of her parents.
“Hi Mary, Hi Dan!” I happily greet the husband and wife, before kneeling down in front of the giggling infant on Mary’s knee. “Hey, cutie!” I can’t help but let out a goofy giggle as Kristina-Leigh laughs louder at me.
“God, our entire house is filled with baby toys now!” Mary laughs as I sit down next to Charlotte. “Still, six months from now the same can be said of this place!”
“Twelve years from now, your entire house is going to be filled with cosmetics and posters of boys!” I tease, making Dan groan and shake his head.
“No it isn’t,” the proud father chuckles. “This little one’s staying little forever.”
“You wish,” I laugh. “Have you heard anything from Jon and Viks?”
“Think they’re still at her parents,” Mary says.
“I’m going out with Jon and the guys tonight,” Dan says. “Kind of a preliminary stag night, so I reckon you’ll see Viks. Speaking of ‘the guys’…” I smile and roll my eyes as Dan looks in my direction. “I had an interesting Facebook message from Keith a little while back, telling me that you, Miss Burke, have a new boyfriend- or should I say an ‘old’ boyfriend?”
“Oh my god, Jamie!” Mary squeaks. “Are- are you and Stuart back together?”
“I am…” I tease. “…Going to kill Keith for blabbing, though in fairness, I guess I DIDN’T ask him to keep it to himself…” Mary cheers happily, handing Kristina-Leigh to Dan before giving me a huge hug.
“This is so cool!” Mary enthuses. “You two are SO great together!”
“Everyone keeps saying that!” I laugh, returning Mary’s hug.
“Well it’s true!” Charlotte giggles.
“Who else have you told?” Mary asks.
“Just the people in this room,” I say. “Stuart’s family knows, Krystie and Mikey found out last night…”
“Oh, that girl is in SO much trouble for not telling me!” Mary laughs, sitting back down and taking her daughter back from her husband- who is clearly reluctant to give her up. “As are you!” Dan simply laughs and rolls his eyes as his wife chastises him.
“I’ll make it public after I tell my parents tomorrow, I promise!” I giggle.
“You’d better,” Mary says, making the whole room- even Dan and Kristina-Leigh- giggle.
Within an hour, Dan has departed for his boys’ night, leaving his daughter alone with myself, Mary and Charlotte- though we’re not alone for long, as Krystie arrives less than forty-five minutes later and immediately starts fussing over her goddaughter (after accepting her ‘telling off’ from Mary), followed by Hannah, Adeola, Becca, Nikki, Sarah and finally Viks, who receives hugs from every other girl (including Kristina-Leigh) and demands to see her engagement ring- demand that Viks is all too happy to acquiesce to!
“I still can’t believe it,” Hannah sighs as she leans against her BFF. “Little VIks, engaged to be married to the man of her dreams…”
“YOU can’t believe it?” Viks giggles. “I expected you to have been married at LEAST three times before I even got engaged once!” The whole room laughs as Hannah gives Viks a playful whack with a cushion, before giggling and cuddling her again.
“And talking of relationship upgrades…” Becca teases, looking in my direction. “Might I have a new sister-in-law in a few years’ time? And No, I don’t mean either of Riley’s sisters, cool as they are!” Krystie acknowledges Becca’s compliment, before looking expectantly in my direction.
“Yes, Miss Burke, do tell…” Krystie giggles. I sigh happily and a wide grin creeps onto my face, much to the delight of the assembled women.
“Yes, Stuart and I are back together,” I say, prompting cheers and hugs from everyone present. “Gonna be a while before I get one of those, though!” I point at Viks’s beautiful engagement ring, making the curvy bride-to-be blush with embarrassment.
“Growing up,” Nikki muses, “you must have thought at times that there was no chance you’d EVER get one of them… God knows I had those thoughts…”
“Yeah,” I sigh happily as my protégé receives a tender cuddle from her girlfriend. In truth, even before I became Jamie-Lee, I’d never had ANY thoughts of ever getting married, let alone as a bride. Even when I was with Paul, marriage never crossed my mind once- and yet with Stuart, it’s different. Whether it’s because one of my best friends is married and another one newly engaged, I can’t say for sure, but if Stuart WERE to propose to me tomorrow… I wouldn’t immediately say no.
“Before you get married though,” Becca giggles, “first you’ve got to have an engagement party, right?”
“RIGHT, Miss Milton,” Hannah says. “And as maid of honour, I declare EVERY girls’ night from now until the wedding to be Viks’s engagement party!” All of us- including Kristina-Leigh- laugh happily as Viks (and her ring) is showered with yet more attention.
“God, this is too much,” Viks squeaks.
“It’s not every day you get engaged,” I laugh.
“…And I believe someone has prepared something special for the occasion, isn’t that right, Miss Phillips?” Becca asks Sarah, who giggles and pulls a beautiful long purple dress out of her tote bag, a dress that Viks coos over as she holds against her curvaceous body.
“This… isn’t the only one Becca commissioned,” Sarah says with mild embarrassment, producing two more dresses, one a strapless chiffon gown in bright red and the other a slinky black dress with a very high slit down one side.
“Have you been doing work on the side or something?” Adeola teases her BFF, who simply giggles embarrassedly.
“What can I say? My daddy loves me,” Becca says as she holds the red dress up against her body.
“I’ll make sure your brother knows you said that,” I mock-threaten, making Becca blush even harder.
“Ahh, I want to try these on now…” Becca moans.
“Everybody in the room does!” Charlotte laughs. “Tell you what: we’ll let you off being a daddy’s girl if you let us all take a turn trying on those dresses, deal?”
“Deal!” Becca giggles, taking the black dress into the kitchen to change into, whilst Viks does the same with her purple dress. We spend the rest of the evening taking turns trying on the dresses (and trying to persuade Sarah to make some for the rest of us!) and gossiping about our relationships, before girls’ night ends with everyone going back to their respective homes. Unusually, Nikki & Sarah are the last to leave, just after 10pm.
“Ah, the cutest couple of them all,” Charlotte giggles as the two teenagers get into Sarah’s car. “Hope all the talk of engagement rings didn’t put any pressure on you, how long have you been going out now, 3 years?”
“Just a bit over 3 years, yeah,” Nikki says, looking longingly into her girlfriend’s eyes.
“I’ve never been to a wedding which had two brides before,” Charlotte coos. “No nasty, stinky BOY bits messing up the beauty of the whole thing!”
“I would take that personally,” Nikki giggles, “but I’m counting on my ‘boy parts’ being long gone by the time I get married!”
“Girl love forever!” Sarah giggles, holding her hand up to Nikki’s in an unusual and obviously personal way. I can’t help but smile happily as I wave goodbye to my protégé and her girlfriend. Even though they’re the youngest of all of us, their relationship is the oldest (with the exception of Mary & Dan’s), and the love between them is clearly absolute- a love I envy, and I doubt I’m the only one.
As I climb into bed, I send my boyfriend a text message filled with hearts and kisses, before a wicked smile creeps over my face and I climb out of bed, stripping completely naked (despite the cold) and standing in front of my full-length mirror. I take a photo of the reflection of my slim, nude form and attach it to the text message, laughing evilly as I send it. I laugh even harder when I receive a reply less than ten minutes later containing a photo of Stuart, who is himself completely naked save for a sock covering his genitals.
‘Not at the boys’ night?’ I text him with a smiley face.
‘Left early,’ the near-immediate response reads. ‘Kinda awkward with both me and Keith there. See you tomorrow. Love you xxx’
‘Love you too xxx’ I reply, before leaving my phone on my nightstand and quickly falling asleep.
My alarm wakes me on Sunday morning at 7:30am, and whilst I should be tired and grumpy for waking up that early at the weekend, I feel re-energised, almost exhilarated as I shower and dilate. Even though I’m only going to my parents’ house today, I still apply a full face of make-up, before dressing in a comfortable thong bodysuit, sheer black tights and a knee-length, long sleeved stripy dress. After breakfast- and numerous teasing comments from Charlotte about my overly-fancy look- I feel my heart beat faster as the doorbell rings. After slipping my feet into a pair of ankle booties with a 3” heel, I answer the door and immediately launch myself mouth first at my boyfriend, kissing him deeply and nearly melting into his mouth as he wraps his arms around my slender body.
“You two have fun at your parents’,” Charlotte says happily as she watches us leave.
“Are you sure you’ll be okay on your own here?” I ask.
“I’ll be fine,” Charlotte says with a knowing smile. “Besides, I won’t be ‘alone’, will I?” Charlotte rubs her growing belly, making Stuart and I both giggle as we head out to his car.
“I missed you yesterday,” I say, giving my boyfriend another kiss as I get into the passenger seat of his car.
“We saw each other less than 24 hours ago,” Stuart laughs. “But you’re right, that IS more than 10 minutes apart… I really missed you yesterday.” I sigh and smile contentedly as we drive off into the cold Sunday morning. When we arrive at my parents’ house, I instruct Stuart to hide outside the living room door as I let myself in.
“Mum! Dad! It’s me,” I say as I’m greeted with big hugs from both parents. “I hope you don’t mind, but I invited my boyfriend along today as well…” Mum and dad both gasp with surprise as I make my announcement in the most blasé way possible, before HUGE grins creep across their face as Stuart makes his presence known and is greeted with a big hug of his own from mum and a hearty handshake from dad.
“It’s nice to meet you again, Mr and Mrs Travis!” Stuart says happily as we’re both guided to the sofa and parked next to each other, hand-in-hand.
“How many times do I have to tell you,” dad laughs. “’Mark and Susan’, not ‘Mr and Mrs Travis’!”
“I’ve only been dating your daughter for a couple of days!” Stuart laughs, wrapping an arm around my waist.
“Not as far as we’re concerned!” Mum laughs. “Your dad and I were really hoping you two would get back together, you have this ‘glow’ of happiness about you when you’re with each other. BOTH of you do.”
“I honestly haven’t been this happy in a very long time,” Stuart says. “Kinda feel bad that I didn’t get either of you anything for Christmas now…”
“There’ll be another one in 362 days’ time,” dad jokes. “Assuming you’re still going out by then…”
“Don’t jinx it!” I chastise, cuddling myself closer to Stuart, who tightens his grip on my waist.
“In 362 YEARS I still intend to be going out with Jamie,” Stuart says, making dad laugh heartily. Stuart and I spend the entire day at my parents’ house, only leaving after a large Sunday dinner despite mum and dad insisting that we stay the night- which amuses Stuart no end. After bidding farewell with big hugs- including a semi-awkward ‘man hug’ between Stuart and my dad- we head home to Charlotte’s house with full bellies and warm, contented hearts- and updated Facebook relationship statuses, which gain several hundred likes within an hour!
“Charlie? We’re home,” I call as I open the front door of Charlotte’s mansion, but my ‘BFF senses’ immediately kick into overdrive when I hear the sound of crying coming from the living room. “Charlotte? Are you okay?” Despite the heels on my booties, I run into the living room, where I find Charlotte curled up on her sofa, silently weeping.
“Charlotte,” I whisper, giving the distraught girl a long, loving hug. Without even having to be told, Stuart immediately goes into the kitchen and returns seconds later with three spoons and a big tub of ice cream that the three of us immediately tuck into.
“What happened?” I ask, allowing Charlotte the time to compose herself before answering.
“I- I went to see Keith,” Charlotte blubs. “I- I thought- I don’t know why-“
“Take your time,” I whisper, gently squeezing Charlotte’s hand.
“I thought,” Charlotte sighs, “that as you two had got back together, maybe, me and Keith…”
“What did he say?” I ask.
“He called me a slut,” Charlotte sobs. “And told me to get out of his house. Called me stupid for ever thinking that we could get back together…” I look back at Stuart, expecting him to interject an inappropriate comment about Charlotte being foolish- which, in fairness, she was- but much to my surprise, he remains quiet.
“I mean, I don’t know WHY,” Charlotte continues. “I don’t know why I thought he’d just take me back like nothing happened, but Stuart took you back…”
“Keith’s an arsehole,” Stuart says, making my brow furl with confusion.
“Umm, isn’t he your best friend?” I ask.
“No, YOU’RE my best friend,” Stuart says with a warm smile. “You always have been… Yes, Keith was my best male friend, but you wouldn’t know that the way he was staring at me last night… And NO man should speak to the mother of his child the way he did to you.”
“I picked the right godfather,” Charlotte says happily, getting off the sofa and giving my boyfriend a quick hug.
“I picked the right boyfriend!” I giggle, joining in the hug that Stuart is CLEARLY enjoying.
“Glad I’ve got such a great godfather for him, god knows he's never going to have a stepfather…” Charlotte moans.
“You. Will. Find. Someone,” I insist, but Charlotte simply snorts.
“Who’s going to want a 23 year old single mother?” My BFF moans.
“Who’s also a millionaire supermodel with her own TV show?” Stuart quips. “Most of the UK, I’d imagine.”
“I’m not a millionaire,” Charlotte says in a very small voice that makes me gasp with shock.
“But- but your dad’s wealth…” I whisper.
“Almost all gone,” Charlotte sobs. “The- the parties, the clothes, the jewellery… I’ve barely got 15 grand left…”
“Oh my god,” I whisper, cuddling Charlotte close to myself.
“I don’t even know how I’m going to afford to pay for nappies,” Charlotte blubs.
“WE’LL pay for them,” Stuart offers without any hesitation.
“Right,” I say firmly. “And you know ALL the other Angels will happily chip in to help.”
“I’m still going to have to sell this house,” Charlotte sighs. “Insurance is due in a few months, I can’t even cover that…”
“Well I CAN,” I say. “This is YOUR home, it always has been, and it always will be.”
“No- no, it’s too much!” Charlotte wails. “I can’t ask you to do that…”
“My dad’s been helping me with my investments,” I explain. “That initial quarter of a million you gave me has grown a LOT, even in the current economy!”
“Quarter of a million?” Stuart asks with confusion. Inwardly, I cringe- so much for keeping Stuart in the dark about how Charlotte and I first met…
“We’ll talk later,” I say. “Charlie… You’re not alone. You’ll NEVER be alone. I promise you that.”
“Thank you,” Charlotte whispers. For the rest of the evening, Stuart and I reassure Charlotte that no matter her financial worries, we’ll always be able to help her out. Confessing her financial troubles actually seems to have a positive effect on Charlotte, like a weight has been lifted from her shoulders, and there’s a smile on her face that I haven’t seen since she separated from Keith.
As I strip naked and climb into bed with Stuart, however, I can tell that he's still uneasy, and it's not hard to guess what he's uneasy about.
"What's the significance of £250 000?" Stuart asks as we snuggle next to each other.
"Ugh," I sigh. "You- you know Charlotte's backstory, right? About her dad?"
"Him being a murderer? Yes," Stuart says.
"He was also EXTREMELY controlling when it came to Charlotte," I explain. "She knew where she could find the evidence for her mum's murder- the doctors who sold her dad the drugs he used- but she couldn't get away from him long enough to acquire it. And, because we look so much alike-"
"You know, I've NEVER seen that," Stuart jokes.
"-Because we look so much alike," I continue, "I agreed to 'step in' for her for 5 days whilst she went up to the North-East to so what she needed to do."
"Hang on," Stuart laughs. "And you got away with this?"
"Oh, the miracle of make-up," I giggle. "I think they talked about it on QI once, if you can match something closely enough, the human brain can kinda 'fill in the blanks'."
"And the quarter of a million?" Stuart asks.
"My 'reward' for a job well done," I say.
"Seems a bit steep for a week's work," Stuart says. "AND it's a bit funny that someone with male genetics could look so much like 'the supermodel'... Hang on, were you transitioning at the time?"
"...No," I say in a small voice, not wanting to lie to my boyfriend.
"So, what," Stuart asks, "you lived life as a girl full-time for one week and decided you liked it so much you'd stay this way?"
"In fairness, my life as a boy REALLY sucked," I explain. "My best day as James doesn't compare to my worst day as Jamie-Lee. The important thing is that I AM Jamie-Lee... And I'm in a position to help the woman who gave me a better life than I could ever have imagined."
"WE'RE in a position to do that," Stuart says, cuddling me and giving me a kiss. "If what you say is true... I guess I owe Charlotte a lot too!" I giggle as I relax into Stuart's cuddle, smiling happily as we both quickly fall asleep.
We wake up the following morning just after 8:30, grateful for the lie-in after the hectic pace of the last few days. Despite it being Monday, there's no ballet today (Krystie always closes the studio between Christmas and the New Year) so Stuart and I take our time getting up, showering (separately) and, in my case, dilating.
Despite ballet being cancelled, the 'extended Angels family' is still having a get-together today, albeit at a coffee shop instead of a dance studio, and there will be a small camera crew present to gather footage for series 2 of 'The Angels', so I make sure my make-up and nails are perfect before dressing in a sexy lace bra and thong set, a lightly-laced waist cincher, sheer black stockings, a tight red sweater and a tight black miniskirt. 4" heeled stilettos complete my look, much to Stuart's dismay as he exits the shower to discover that I've suddenly become 2 inches taller than him. After he dresses in a smart shirt and trousers (and his poshest-looking walking boots), we head downstairs to find Charlotte already awake, lazily playing with a cold cup of coffee.
"Are you allowed to drink coffee whilst you're pregnant?" Stuart asks as I give my BFF a quick hug.
"I'm allowed one cup a day," Charlotte says. "Not that I've drank much of it, then again, I can't even afford to throw away a cup of coffee any more..."
"Charlie," I say softly. "Groceries from now on are coming out of MY pocket. All of them." To prove my point, I take Charlotte's cold, gross cup and pour it all away, quickly brewing the girl a hot replacement.
"Make sure you talk to Joshua today," Stuart advises Charlotte, who nods. "If anyone can give you help or advice with money, it's him. And you know he'll happily bankroll ALL Angel parties from now on, what with the free publicity it gets you all!"
"Hehe," Charlotte giggles. "God, I really don't want to go in front of the cameras today..."
"We can always call the producers and see if they can rearrange?" I offer.
"No," Charlotte sighs. "Best get it over and done with... Besides, I don't need your sister making any more attempts to replace me in the Angels!" Stuart chuckles at the mention of the increasingly fame-hungry Becca.
"You know, she is still SUPPOSEDLY a student," Stuart laughs. "Don't think she's actually done any studying since the start of filming for your show, though..."
"Speaking of, I'd better get on with mine when I get home," I sigh. "See if I can drag my grade back up to a 2:2..."
"We head to the small, intimate coffee shop not long afterward. Joshua had arranged for the shop to be closed to the public today so that we have it all to ourselves- something the owner was happy to agree to in exchange for free publicity and a LOT of money- but with all six Angels, Becca, Adeola, Nikki's gang and (where appropriate) boyfriends, it's still plenty packed. Notable by his absence, however, is Keith, which is something Charlotte can't help but notice as she sits with Hannah, Stuart and myself.
"You'd have thought he'd have come even if just to hang out with the guys," Charlotte moans as she drinks her decaffeinated drink. "I mean, Paul Kennedy's here and he's not going out with any of the girls..."
"Like he'd have the guts to ask any of us," Hannah giggles. "And besides, you know you're not the only single lady here..."
"Yes, but unlike you, I don't have men literally flinging themselves at me," Charlotte quips, making Hannah giggle happily.
"I think we should make this the official 'single lady' table!" Hannah announces. "No stupid TESTOSTERONE spoiling the air!"
"Fair enough," Stuart says, chuckling as the two of us stand up and Hannah calls Adeola and Dannii to their table.
"Oh great," Charlotte moans as we walk away, "I'm going to be at a table with 3 girls who are all at least 4 inches taller than me..." I chuckle as I walk hand-in-hand with Stuart to a large table around which Krystie, Mikey, Riley and Becca are sat enjoying their drinks.
"Ah, the sort-of newest couple!" Krystie teases as we sit down with our drinks. "I hope you're treated the godmother of my unborn child well, Stu..." My jaw drops as Krystie rubs her flat belly, before bursting out into fits of giggles.
"I'm kidding, I'm kidding!" Krystie laughs, making me roll my eyes. "But seriously, you're what, three days into the new relationship? How are things?"
"Like we've been going out forever," Stuart says, earning quizzical looks from all three women at the table. "But I, um mean that in a good way, of course..."
"Moron," Becca giggles.
"I mean," Stuart says, looking happily into my eyes, "that I can't imagine being with anyone other than Jamie." I giggle and give Stuart a quick kiss, much to the delight of the table- not to mention the assembled TV cameras!
Mindful of my incomplete university assignments, I manage to sneak out early, unseen my cameramen who would undoubtedly have collared myself and Stuart for a few words about our new relationship, something I was NOT in a mood for.
Time passes quickly at home as Stuart helps me with my assignments- so much so that when Charlotte returns, I'm surprised to find that it's almost 3pm.
"You were gone a while," Stuart says to the pregnant woman, who dramatically crashes onto the sofa.
"Did- did you go to see Keith again?" I ask hesitantly.
"No," Charlotte replies. "Learned my lesson there! I actually took your advice, talked to Joshua- about the money, amongst other things."
"...And?" I ask.
"He's set me up with an expert accountant that he's paying for," Charlotte says. "And he's agreed to buy my house. He's going to rent it to me so I- and, of course, my son- can live here as long as I want."
"How much is the rent?" I ask nervously.
"...6 grand a month," Charlotte sighs. "But he'll take care of everything, the maintenance, the council tax, and I can easily afford 6 grand a month... It just won't leave much for anything else, especially after baby stuff..."
"THREE grand a month," I say with a confident smile.
"No, no, I can't ask you to do that," Charlotte says.
"TWO grand a month," Stuart says.
"Um," I say quietly. "Stu, you don't even MAKE two grand a month..."
"Well then I'll contribute what I can," my boyfriend says with a warm smile. "I can't have my godson going hungry now, can I?"
"Thank you, thank you both," Charlotte sniffles, giving us both a huge hug. "But this is my mess, I should get myself out of it..."
"NO," I say firmly. "We're your friends. That means when you're in trouble, we help in any way we can. Right, Stu?"
"Right!" Stuart says.
"I don't deserve friends like you..." Charlotte sobs as I put my university work away and we begin to discuss how we'll save her finances.
As Stuart and I climb into bed at the end of a long day poring over facts and figures- but not the usual kind you'd associate with a fashion model- my boyfriend makes an observation that surprises me.
"Jamie..." Stuart says nervously. "About Charlotte..."
"Yes?" I ask.
"I mean this in the nicest possible way," Stuart continues. "I'm not TRYING to be nasty but- she- she is bipolar, isn't she?" I bristle slightly at the perceived insult to my BFF, but the more I think about it, what with Charlotte's mood swings, her frequently erratic behaviour and her (thankfully very) occasional talk of suicide and self-harm... Stuart may have a point.
"She's never been diagnosed with it," I say stoically. "...Though she's never even seen a counsellor before... I think she figures that if she's never diagnosed, she'll never have it..."
"My parents were the same way with me when I entered puberty," Stuart sighs. "I had my first period at the age of 13, and from then until I started transitioning were the worst three years of my life. Some nights I'd just hole up in my room and scream, hoping that- I dunno, I'd somehow 'transcend' or something... Puberty nearly killed me, and I'm not being metaphorical." I cuddle Stuart close to my body as he confesses his feelings in a very unmasculine way.
"Don't let 'the guys' hear you talking like this!" I joke.
"This is going to sound odd," Stuart says, "but I'm really not that bothered about being 'one of the guys'. I wasn't joking earlier when I said that you were my best friend. I love you in every way imaginable, and if I had to choose between hanging out with 'the guys' or The Angels for the rest of my life... I'd honestly choose The Angels. As the token boy, of course."
"BOY!" I giggle sighing as Stuart wraps a muscular arm around my waist.
"I prefer 'man'," Stuart says. "'Real' men aren't afraid to talk about feelings, emotions, especially not with the woman they love."
"MAN, then," I laugh, sighing happily as Stuart and I once again cuddle each other to sleep.
My alarm clock wakes me the following morning at 7:45am, much to Stuart's dismay. After giving him a kiss and letting him get back to sleep, I dilate, before showering, applying my make-up and dressing for the day in a fresh bra and thong set, black tights, high-heeled knee-high boots and a short, long-sleeved black dress.
"Every square inch of you is perfection," Stuart says, giving me a long hug and an even longer kiss as I grab my handbag and prepare to leave. "Sure you don't want me to drive you? I don't have to be at the theatre until 11..."
"Nah, I'm picking up all of Nikki's gang," I explain. "The Angelmobile's the only car big enough for that..."
"I can always drive that, if you want," Stuart offers.
"And leave me stuck in the back with five 17 year old girls? No thanks!" I giggle, making Stuart laugh and give me another kiss.
"Well then you and I are going on a date tonight," Stuart announces in a grand voice. "I'll pick a restaurant, I'll wear my sexy shirt, you wear- well, anything really, you always look beautiful in anything you wear."
"SO DO YOU," I say, giving Stuart another final kiss as I leave. "I'll see you tonight. It's a date!"
"Damn right it is!" Stuart laughs as I head downstairs to find Charlotte waiting in the entrance hall for me.
"Hi Charlie," I say, greeting my BFF with a hug. "I'm just off out, Nikki and her gang have got a shoot today, Joshua wants them to be chaperoned..."
"Jamie..." Charlotte says, approaching me and giving me a tender hug. "Promise- promise me that you won't leave..."
"Of COURSE I won't," I say, returning Charlotte's hug. "Why on Earth would you ever think that I would?"
"Because you have Stuart now," Charlotte sniffles.
"I do," I say. "And I love him, and he's my best friend... But you're my best friend FOREVER. And you always will be. If I was forced to choose between you and him... I wouldn't choose. Simple as that."
"Thank you," Charlotte sniffs.
"What have you got planned for today, anyway?" I ask my BFF, who smiles and wipes the tears from her eyes.
"Getting set up for tomorrow's NYE party," Charlotte says. "And before you say anything... Joshua's already agreed to foot the bill for it- provided we have a camera crew present, of course!"
"Sounds fair," I giggle, giving my BFF one more hug before getting in the Angelmobile (which was dropped off here yesterday after the 'coffee morning') and driving away.
45 minutes later, I arrive at the pre-booked studio with the five teenagers in tow, feeling every bit like a teacher on a field trip- even though three of the girls are taller than I am! I certainly gain a new appreciation for all the work Nikki does for the Angels as I- for one day only- adopt the 'PA' role and escort the girls to their dressing room, ensuring that all their requirements are met and that the photoshoot runs on schedule. The shoot itself is very basic- just a few group and solo shots in plain outfits (mostly casual skirts and tops) that Joshua can use for publicity purposes- but as none of the girls besides Nikki or Dannii have any professional modelling experience (and Nikki's is severely limited), the shoot takes a LOT longer than expected, to the point where even I'm tired when the photographer announces that the shoot is complete and we can all go home.
"Not bad," Nikki teases as she accompanies me to the coffee machine. "Think you might need a few pointers if you're to make a go of being a PA as a career..."
"Oh hilarious," I say sarcastically before giggling along with my protégé. "Though you don't need ANY pointers, you're all so confident up there. Well... Lauren looked a little nervous at times."
"Yeah, she's not 'really' a model," Nikki muses. "Though that's not to say that she isn't beautiful, it's just next to Dannii..."
"A short, curvy dark-haired girl feeling inferior to her tall, skinny blonde friend?" I muse. "Heard that story before, and I dimly recall it ending with the dark-haired girl getting swept off her feet by the man of her dreams..."
"Hehe," Nikki giggles. "I'll have to tell her you said that... Jamie, can I- can I tell you something?"
"Of course," I say.
"In private, I mean," Nikki says. I quickly nod and follow Nikki into the ladies' toilets, inwardly giggling at the thought of two genetically male people having a very feminine discussion in the little girls' room.
"What's up?" I ask. "Is it about your SRS?"
"No," Nikki sighs. "Still not got a date for that..."
"The more you put it off..." I say, making Nikki close her eyes with frustration.
"I know, I know... It's Sarah... She's got an engagement ring," Nikki explains, making me gasp. "She hasn't proposed- I'm only seventeen, she'd need my parents' permission... Though as they made her godmother to my baby sister, I doubt they'd say 'no'..."
"...And what would you say?" I ask. "If Sarah proposed, that is."
"Yes," Nikki says without hesitation. "I... I love her. It's just- it's just-"
"Seventeen is a bit young to be thinking about marriage?" I tease.
"Except I DO think about it, all the time," Nikki sighs. "I even DREAM about it... Ever since I was fourteen, when Sarah and I started going out, I've had this recurring dream where the two of us are both brides, we're both getting married, living out the rest of our lives together..."
"You're so lucky," I say, earning a quizzical stare from Nikki. "You've known all along who you loved, who you were going to spend the rest of your life with... That's a rare privilege, Nikki."
"I... I kinda need some advice here," Nikki sighs.
"Isn't it obvious what you should do?" I tease. Nikki sadly shakes her head, her long brown hair fluttering in front of her immaculately made-up face.
"Buy HER a ring," I say with a smile. "Trust me when I say it couldn't be more obvious how much Sarah loves you. And Charlotte was right- a wedding with two brides would be the cutest thing ever! Just don't leave it too long before sending me an invite, okay?"
"Okay!" Nikki says with a wide grin on her fuchsia lips. "Thanks as always, Jamie... This has been a real help."
"You know I'll always be here for you if you need me," I say, giving the taller girl a quick hug. "Now you'll have to excuse me, as I have a hot date!"
"Make sure the BOY treats you like the centre of the universe!" Nikki giggles.
"I'm not interested in 'boys' anymore," I giggle. "'Men', on the other hand, 'real' men are DAMNED good!" Nikki and I both exit the toilet in fits of laughter, much to the confusion of Sarah, who greets Nikki with a kiss before we all head out to the Angelmobile. After dropping the five girls back at their homes, I head home and change out of my dress, tights and boots into a pair of black, seamed stockings and a slinky, knee-length dress in deep crimson that exposes a LOT of cleavage. After touching up my make-up and repainting my nails to match my dress, I put on my favourite sapphire earrings, and fasten Stuart's memory stick necklace around my neck, before spritzing myself with my favourite perfume and pulling on a pair of low heels, conscious of the short stature of the man I'll be seeing. After giving my hair a final brush to maximise its volume, I head downstairs to wait for my date- and immediately earn an approving grin from my BFF.
"Sexy sexy lady!" Charlotte giggles. "But those heels- a bit low, maybe?"
"Stuart's only 5' 7"," I explain. "Don't want him to feel short stood next to me."
"Best. Girlfriend. Ever!" Charlotte cheers.
"Will- will you be okay tonight?" I ask, conscious of my earlier chat with Charlotte. "Because if you're feeling lonely, I can always call Stu-"
"Best. BFF. Ever!" Charlotte says, giving me a hug but taking care not to wrinkle my dress. "And don't you DARE call Stu! You go out and you have fun! Besides, Hannah and Addie are coming over for a 'single ladies' night. No TAKEN women allowed!" I giggle as Charlotte 'throws me out'- though as happy as I am that she's back to her usual, bubbly self, I can't help but remember Stuart's 'diagnosis' from the last night.
All negative thoughts leave my mind, however, when Stuart picks me up in his car- and as promised, he is indeed wearing his 'sexy shirt'- a very cute fitted shirt in black cotton with a light grey pattern down one side. I greet my boyfriend with a long, deep kiss, the romantic moment only slightly spoiled by Charlotte's enthusiastic cheering from her front door!
"I missed you," Stuart says as we get in his car. "And before you say 'it's been less than twelve hours', I don't care, you're my girlfriend, I love you, whenever we're apart, I miss you. So there." I laugh heartily, leaning over and giving Stuart a kiss on his stubbly face.
"I missed you too," I sigh happily. "What restaurant have you chosen?"
"New Japanese place that opened near Leicester Square," Stuart says. "NOT sushi, I know you don't like that. You're not allergic to shellfish, are you?"
"Nope," I say. "And I LOVE Japanese food!" Stuart and I both grin widely as we drive into the cold London night, our stomachs growling in anticipation of the oriental treats that await us.
Two hours later, we returned home with our bellies filled with ramen and tuna and our mouths filled with laughter- thanks in no small part to my inept attempts to learn how to use chopsticks after a generous helping of sake! The second we step through my bedroom door, I grab Stuart's sexy shirt and pull the handsome man close to me, kissing him deeply and quivering with excitement as his tongue enters my mouth.
Stuart's sexy shirt very quickly finds its way to the floor, closely followed by our shoes, his trousers and my dress. I sit Stuart down on the edge of my bed and straddle him, kissing him deeply once again and wrapping my stocking-clad legs around his tight, bare torso. Stuart slowly unclips my stockings and slides them down my smooth legs, teasing my soft flesh with his fingertips every inch of the way until my legs are bare, tingling under his touch. He then skilfully unhooks my bra and sends that tumbling to the floor, before gently kissing my nipples, which harden in an instant. As I lower Stuart's boxer shorts, he slowly slides my thong out of my backside, leaving us both totally naked in the cold air of my bedroom. We kiss each other deeply one more time, before collapsing back onto the bed entwined in each other's arms.
Stuart then suddenly spins round on his backside, presenting his crotch to my face. As I feel his tongue start to coat my clitoris with a layer of saliva, I suckle his engorged clitoris, and soon we're orgasming together, thrusting into each other's mouths over and over again until we're both completely spent. Our tired bodies then flop across each other on the bed, panting heavily and coated in a thin sheen of sweat.
"I LOVE you," Stuart says as he gently pulls the covers over the two of us.
"I ADORE you," I reply, cuddling up to Stuart and letting his body heat warm me to sleep.
As I slumber, I find myself walking through an unfamiliar place. It's late twilight and I'm alone, wearing a simple pink dress. Suddenly, I become aware of cheering coming from behind me, and as I turn around, I find myself stood in a registry office, with all the seats filled with my friends. Suddenly, my dress changes into a flowing white bridal gown, and when I turn back around, Stuart is stood in front of me in his groom's tuxedo, smiling at me with a look of pure love in his eyes.
"I now pronounce you husband and wife," the minister says, causing my heart to beat twice as fast as normal. "You may kiss the bride..."
I slowly blink my eyes back into awakeness, and grab my phone to check the time- 3:20am.
"Dammit, Nikki..." I whisper as I put my phone away and snuggle back into my still-sleeping boyfriend's chest.
When I wake up on the morning of New Year's Eve, I'm still clung to Stuart's torso, and if it wasn't for a knock at my door, I don't think I'd ever have let him go.
"Jamie!" Charlotte shouts from the other side of my bedroom door. "Stuart! It's 9am, what the hell did you two do last night? We've got a party to prepare, chop chop!" I giggle and sigh, before waking Stuart up with a kiss in the centre of his chest.
"I say again:" I say to my half-awake boyfriend. "I ADORE you."
"I'll always love you," Stuart mutters in his half-asleep state as he slowly opens his eyes.
"We'll be there in a bit!" I yell to Charlotte, giggling as Stuart is startled back to full awakeness.
"Um, yeah, just give us a minute Charlie," Stuart says, unwrapping my arms from his body and jumping in the shower whilst I dilate. As I lay naked on my bed, checking the phone with my vagina filled with my thick orange tube, I can't help but muse on last night's dream. I'm definitely going to have to give Nikki a telling off for putting the idea in my head, but as dreams go... It's definitely one I'd be happy to have again.
After switching places with Stuart in the shower, I apply a light layer of make-up and dress in a very plain long-sleeved playsuit and a pair of black tights- though this doesn't stop Stuart from embracing me from behind when I get ready to leave my bedroom!
When I head downstairs, I'm unsurprised to find Charlotte hard at work directing people ahead of tonight's party.
"At LAST!" Charlotte teases, greeting both myself and Stuart with big hugs. "Lots of bottles of wine there, the bar there, you know what to do."
"Yes ma'am," Stuart says resignedly as he starts shifting the heavy bottles two at a time.
"You're looking happier," I say to my BFF, who smiles warmly in response.
"I'm feeling a lot better," Charlotte sighs. "Got a lot of my problems solved since Christmas... Okay, my MAN problems aren't fixed, but that's all that men are- problems!"
"Thanks," Stuart says, returning for two more wine bottles.
"BOY," Charlotte and I simultaneously giggle.
"Sorry, I mean MAN," I shout after Stuart, who nods in appreciation before returning for yet more wine.
"You know, I was really dreading tonight," Charlotte sighs. "I was single, broke and 5 months pregnant and had to suck up- on camera- to a load of celebrities, many of whom I don't even like..."
"And now?" I ask.
"...I'm not broke any more," Charlotte giggles. "But really, I'm fine. I can live without Keith... I think." I give my BFF another hug, which she gratefully reciprocates.
"Group hug," Stuart says, hugging both myself and Charlotte with his wider arms.
"I CAN'T live without you two," Charlotte says. "Fortunately, I know I don't have to."
"Too right," I giggle as I help Stuart put away his wine.
Just over twelve hours later, the party is in full swing. Charlotte- in a tasteful but still stylish maternity dress- is entertaining everyone as only she can, and Stuart and I- having also changed into chic party wear (trousers and another 'sexy shirt' for Stuart, a knee-length designer dress for me)- are mingling with the partygoers, Angels and non-Angels alike. As the clock counts down to the new year, I grab Stuart and stand in full view of a TV camera, and as Big Ben strikes to signal the start of the new year- and confetti and streamers are thrown everywhere- I kiss him long and deep, not letting go until long after the twelfth 'bong'.
"Happy new year," I say with a wide smile.
"Happy new year, beautiful," Stuart says, giving me another kiss. As I look around at all the happy couples celebrating the start of 2015, I can't help but feel sorry for Charlotte, stood on her own at the side of the party- HER party- and in a way, I can't help but feel sorry for Keith and Paul as well. It could have been either of them with their arms wrapped around my waist, but instead, they'll be spending their New Year alone, just as I had last year.
As I look into my boyfriend's eyes, though, I'm more convinced than ever that I made the right choice. A new year is a time for a fresh start, a time to put the mistakes of the past behind us and look toward the opportunities of the future, and that's precisely what I intend to do. And who knows? When the time comes to welcome the start of 2016, it might be me with a ring on my finger, just as Viks does, just as Mary did last year. By the end of the year, I'll be 24 years old, which was the same age my mum was when she got engaged...
Whether or not I get engaged, or whether or not I'm even still with Stuart, I know that 2015 will be mine for the taking. 2014 was a year of upheaval for me- moving back in with Charlotte, getting together with, breaking up from and getting BACK together with Stuart, and the small matter of my SRS- and whilst 2015 will undoubtedly have its challenges, they're ones I'm eager to face head-on, hand-in-hand with the people I love.
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