Proxy Pregnancy

When five month pregnant cousin Jessica needs a stand in, Joshua is both shocked and exhilarated she should ask him. No self respecting man would take on such a thing, but a cousin in need...

Author's Note: All people, places and events in this story are entirely fictitious (apart from Croydon, which is a real town). Any connection you may make with any person, living or dead, is between you and your conscience. This story is a light-hearted crossdressing romp, and contains items such as humour and non-explicit sex between consenting adults. If any of those offend you or are illegal to read, then please do not do so. Otherwise, sit back and enjoy.

Proxy Pregnancy
by Charlotte Dickles

I'm going to have Ronald Fluck's baby.

Well, not really, of course, for two very good reasons: the first is that I've never had sex with him; the second… well, the second reason is that I'm the wrong sex to carry any baby. You see, it all started when my mother rang me up one evening.

"Hello love. Any success on the job front, yet?"

I was a computer support engineer, made redundant from one of the big UK banks, and had been seeking a job for so long it seemed I was never going to work again.

"Fraid not, Mum. How are things?"

"I had a letter from Jessica, today. She's pregnant."

Jessica Jones was my cousin, a few years older than my twenty-six.

Oh, that's good news," I replied. "But to be honest, I didn't know she was in a relationship with anyone."

"Neither did I," Mum pointedly said. "She wants to meet up with us on Friday. Are you free to come down for the weekend?" Mum – Harriett Jones, to give her proper name – lived in one of those south-coast retirement towns where the average age is eighty-seven; I still lived in Croydon, where I'd worked.

I knew there was no need to check my social diary. "No problem, Mum. But did you say Jessica wrote you a letter. Why didn't she telephone?"

"I'm worried about her," Mum said. "You're right; why not ring me up rather than write a letter. In fact, she's specifically asked us not to ring her before we meet. It sounds strange, almost ominous."

Neither us mentioned it but Jessica's mother had committed suicide ten years ago and Jessica had followed it with a nervous breakdown.

"So is she coming to stay at your house? Is that OK?" Mum had enough bedrooms but she only kept one functioning as a spare room, which I stayed in on my occasional visits to her.

"I can make up one of the other rooms. It's not a problem as long as she doesn't bring her partner. She hasn't said anything about that."

"All very strange," I said. "See you Friday, then, Mum."

***

With money being tight, I'd taken a bus from the station and walked the half-mile or so from the bus stop to Mum's house. Jessica arrived by taxi half an hour later; time enough for us to get settled into a cup of tea and start exchanging gossip. As requested, Mum hadn't telephoned Jessica, but that hadn't stopped her from ringing around the family to discover the latest news.

"She went to America on holiday five months ago," Mum told me before Jessica arrived. "Her brother reckons that's when it must have happened. But there's no man around, or even talk of one, so it sounds as though it was a brief liaison. I hope she's all right about it."

So did I. She showed me Jessica's letter and I stared at it. It was very brief; not so much a letter, more a note, as it didn't even have her home address and was signed simply with a J.

'Dear Aunt Harriet

'At last, I'm in the club but I really need your help. Could I come and stay with you and Joshua this weekend? I could be there about four on Friday. Things are all a bit tricky so please don't phone me beforehand.

'Lots of love. J.'

"Surely," I said, "when a woman announces she's pregnant, she gives all kinds of details. When it's due, what sex it is, how many weeks she has to go and so on. She couldn't have made this note any briefer. Are you sure she simply hasn't joined a tennis club?"

"When she told us she was in that long term relationship with her boss and was trying to conceive, she kept saying she hadn't yet joined the club. I'm sure that's what she's telling me here."

"But Mum. She wasn't in a relationship with her boss. She was stalking him. She got fired for sexual harassment and eventually was in court for it."

The doorbell rang then and I went to answer it. Jessica was definitely pregnant. She seemed fine although a little nervous, glancing anxiously around as though wondering if the neighbours were going to stone her for having a baby out of wedlock.

Mum made her immediately feel at home. "Hello, love. Take the weight off your feet. Would you like a cup of tea?

"Joshua," she turned to me, "can you take her suitcase upstairs to her room whilst I make some more tea? Doesn't she look absolutely blooming?"

I had to admit she did, although to be honest, she always looked fantastic. She'd had her boobs massively enhanced when she was trying to pull her boss and her bulge was noticeable rather than huge. She'd let her once short dark brown hair grow longer, and it hung down to her shoulders. Her face, as always, was well made up. To be honest, I'd usually been terrified rather than attracted by her. I much preferred a mousy, normal looking woman rather than this sex bomb. I took her huge suitcase up to her room. It weighed a ton; no wonder she'd come in a taxi.

"So why did you want to meet up with us?" Mum raised the subject as soon as we were comfortably seated. "Was it just to tell us your news?"

"I wanted to ask a favour," she said. "A real big favour, but I need to give you the background first. Can you keep a secret? A huge secret?"

"Of course," Mum said, looking at me, and I nodded compliance.

"Of course, the one thing it's impossible to keep secret is that I'm pregnant. The big question is, who's the father?" She stared at us as though she'd said something original and we both stared back. "It's a Very Important Person," she said, emphasising the capital letters. "Ordinarily I wouldn't have told anyone, but I'm frightened for my baby."

"Do you think the baby's got some genetic defect?" Mum asked.

"Oh no, nothing like that," Jessica said. "Quite the opposite really."

"Then why are you worried about the baby?" At last, I asked a question.

"Because people are trying to protect the father. He's married you see and they think it would harm his position if people found out he'd had a child out of wedlock."

"But since you have decided to have the child, what can they do? It's too late to get an abortion. They can't stop you having the baby."

She grimaced and said, "I need to fill you in on how we met. You probably know I went on a long holiday to the US with Alice, an old school friend. After a couple of weeks, we had a blazing row in Florida and split up. I decided I would visit California as planned and was in the airport, waiting for my flight. Then suddenly the airport was filled with police; some kind of security alert and a plane was making an unscheduled landing. Personally, I couldn't care less; I was far more upset about the row with my best friend, so I toddled off to the toilet along one of those service corridors. I was just emerging after a good cry when the doors at the end burst open and a load of suits came through, charging along. I had to duck back inside the toilet to avoid getting trampled to death.

"When they were level with me, a man in their midst suddenly stared me in the eye, and I realised it was Ronald Fluck – you know, that weird US politician – and my heart was beating like crazy. He stopped walking just to stare at me, and then he said, 'I think I need to take a leak.' He stepped towards me and pushed me back into the toilet, and within seconds, we're humping over the washbasins. Five minutes later, he's zipping up his flies and I'm pulling up my shorts and off he goes with a, 'Thank you, ma'am.'

"Sorry," she added, standing up. "I need to go to the toilet. One of the inconveniences of pregnancy." And she had departed towards the downstairs cloakroom.

"What do you think, Joshua?" Mum asked me.

I shrugged. "It's all plausible, I suppose, but…" I hesitated. "…highly unlikely."

"You think she's making it all up?"

"Some of it must be true. You know, the sex in the toilets probably is, but… I don't know."

"You probably think I'm making it all up," Jessica said, re-entering the room and taking us both by surprise. "But when I realised I was pregnant, I sent a message to Ronnie explaining that I was having his child. A week later, I got a visit from an American lawyer who absolutely denied Ronnie was involved but offered me a wodge of money as long as I promised not to make trouble for him. I took it."

"So what's the problem?" I was, of course, dying to ask how much but hadn't the gall.

"It was only ten thousand dollars. I mean, it's fine for buying the baby milk and push chairs and all that, but it's not going to go far when it comes to buying an education, or even a car, is it? So I sent him another letter asking for more. That's when things started happening."

"Things?"

"People following me and giving me funny looks; I was sick the other day after a meal in a café. I think they slipped something in my food to try to make me miscarry."

I looked at Mum again and she looked back at me. Real or imaginary, that was the question.

"So the reason you sent a letter to Mum rather than phoning…" I said.

"They tap my phone calls but I knew they couldn't easily intercept a letter," she said. "I posted the letter a few minutes before it was due to be collected so it would be difficult for them to arrange a false collection. Even if they did manage to open the postbox, they wouldn't know who the letter was addressed to so they'd have to open and read every letter to try to find mine and I made it all fairly vague, so even if they read it, they wouldn't know what it was about."

Mum and I looked at each other again. It all sounded complete paranoia.

"Look. You must believe me," she said. "You're my only hope. They're going to kill my unborn baby unless you help me."

"What do you want us to do?" Mum asked.

Jessica's answer showed she was well into crazy illusions. "I want Joshua to pretend to be me," she said.

"You're crazy," I said. "It would take more than a cushion up my jumper for people to believe that."

"Hang on, Joshua," Mum said before Jessica could respond. "Let's hear what Jessica is thinking of before we judge." I realised she was trying to ensure we didn't drive Jessica over the edge.

"We're about the same height and weight," Jessica said. "Everything else can be changed."

"But we look totally different. Your hair for a start and as for those…" I nodded down towards her scoop neckline exposing her wonderful cleavage. "I don't have those."

"Your face is a dead ringer; it's because I'm so plain that I have to use so much makeup. This hair is a wig. As for my cleavage, there are ways I'll show you shortly. The question is, will you help to protect my unborn baby?"

"We'll do whatever we can, won't we Joshua." My mum broke in before I could rubbish it. "I have to say, Jessica, that I don't think Joshua would make a very good stand in for you, but he'll give it his best try."

"Joshua?" Jessica looked directly at me.

I shrugged. "It's not going to work but at least I'm prepared to give it a try."

"That's brilliant, Joshua." She was suddenly on her feet and bending over me to give me a kiss. Hell, it was like looking down the Grand Canyon.

She took us upstairs and got me to put her suitcase on the bed. When she threw back the lid, it appeared to be full of frilly underwear and pretty dresses, but she removed those from the top, shockingly exposing two large breasts lurking there. "This thing is so big, I had to pack everything else around it and inside it," she said.

More clothes were removed to expose a huge belly to go with the breasts. "It's called a Pregnancy Torsolet," she said. "It's designed for men to wear to simulate pregnancy."

"Bloody hell!" I said.

***

Imagine the torso of a pregnant woman without arms, legs or head, and with all the organs and stuff inside removed. So that's what a Pregnancy Torsolet is like. I was both horrified and fascinated by it. Could I really put it on and appear like a naked pregnant woman? Obviously, I had to appear reluctant, but I knew there was no way I could not try on this thing.

First, I had to go to the bathroom and shave off every hair from my body. I hadn't realised how sexy my legs were without hair; they could have belonged to any sexy woman. I put on the swimming trunks I'd taken in with me before slipping the catch and letting Jessica in, carrying the Torsolet.

"I see the idea turns you on," she said, nodding down towards my trunks, where a huge bulge was showing itself. She grinned at me. "Don't worry, I can sort that out later, but first, let's put this gel all over you to prevent you sweating." She had a pot of a red gel in her hand, and she put on a rubber glove and proceeded to rub it all over my torso. My erection got decidedly harder.

"Help me lift this thing and slip it over your head."

It was remarkably heavy – no wonder her suitcase had weighed a ton, but once we had it held between us, I slipped my arms and head into it like putting on a heavy jumper. It was quite claustrophobic until I could push my head through the narrow neck, but once I could stand upright, it was all right. Jessica pulled it right down my body, until it was down to my bulging swimming trunks.

"Is your mother still downstairs?" she asked.

I went to the door and listened. She had the TV on. "Yes, I said. She's watching Pointless."

"In that case…" She went down on her knees before me, pulled down my trunks and proceeded to get rid of my erection in the nicest possible way. Minutes later, she was spreading the gel over my now limp member, tucking it inside a pocket on the underside of the gusset and then pulling the gusset between my legs and clicking it into a catch at the rear.

"My God!" I stared into the mirror. My body had disappeared and there stood a sexy, pregnant woman with huge boobs and a bush of hair between her legs. "It looks so realistic."

"I'm told you can have sex as a woman, but I'll leave that for you to establish. Let me turn on the Sensotouch, so you can feel your skin."

Before I could ask what Sensotouch was, she picked up a little remote control and pressed one of the number buttons. Zing! Suddenly everything seemed to come alive. Jessica ran a hand lightly down my body and I could feel it as she moved her hand.

"The skin's touch sensitive," she said, "like a computer screen. I'm told it's very realistic."

Fantastic," I said, running my own hands up and down my body, and giving my breasts an experimental squeeze. It felt great.

"Let's go back to the bedroom and I'll put some makeup on you, and show you how to do it. Then you can get dressed and we can show you off to Aunt Harriet."

***

"There's no denying," Mum said, "that Joshua does look incredibly like you, Jessica. But the question now is how does he act as a decoy for you? What are you suggesting? That he goes and lives in your flat for a while?"

"Mum. I can't do that." To be honest, I hadn't thought about that aspect of events. I'd simply been fascinated by the idea of becoming a pregnant woman.

"Let's just see how it goes, first," Jessica said responding to Mum's questions. "I'm presuming I've been followed here and that they're watching the house now. Tomorrow, you and Joshua can go into town and he can practice being me. At the same time, you can keep an eye out for your tail. They don't seem particularly worried about concealing themselves. I think they're partly trying to terrorise me into miscarriage."

Mum didn't look convinced, but said, "It's certainly worth giving it a try."

"Ooh!" I gasped. I felt as though someone had kicked me in the stomach.

"It does that from time to time," Jessica said. "It simulates the baby moving inside you. It's quite uncomfortable, isn't it?"

"Yes, it bloody is," I said. I turned to Mum. "I can't step outside this house dressed up like this. People will realise I'm a man and laugh at me."

Mum shook her head. "They won't realise by looking at you. Your voice is a bit of a giveaway, though."

"Oh, I've just remembered," Jessica said. "I haven't given Joshua his voice change pills.

"They seem to work in the same way as helium," she added. "They make your voice much higher. You probably still won't sound like me, but you certainly won't sound like a man. I'll go and get them."

When she had left the room, I said, "Mum. I can't go out like this. It's crazy."

"We have to keep an open mind with Jessica," she said. "But I have to say I rather like the idea of a pregnant daughter. We can go out and choose some more clothes for you. And we may also find it establishes the truth about Jessica."

"Mum. We're not going to see anyone following us, so it'll prove nothing. What do we do then?"

"Let's just give it a try and see." To be honest, I think she was so captivated by the idea of a pregnant daughter that she didn't worry whether or not Jessica was bonkers or not.

***

"Don't worry about night clothes. You can borrow one of my nightdresses to sleep in."

I smiled at Jessica. "Thanks Jessica, but I think I'll give that a miss. I was going to remove the Torsolet overnight."

"It won't come off," she said. "That gel to stop you sweating is an adhesive. It works by sealing the skin firmly to the Torsolet."

"But it must come off," I said. "Otherwise I'd be stuck in it forever." My heart was suddenly pumping like crazy.

"No. Not forever. The skin is shed after about two weeks and you can remove it then."

"Two weeks? Two weeks! But I've got to go to sign on the dole on Monday. I can't go like this."

"But you've said you'll help me out. You'd have to take the time off anyway. In any case, how are you going to get in the mood of being pregnant if you can pop it on and off whenever you feel like it? That's not how pregnancy works."

"But I don't want to get in the mood of being pregnant. I'll go out with Mum tomorrow but that's it."

"Well, in that case, you'll either have to stay with your mother for two weeks or go back home. Now stop behaving like a horrible man and become a wonderful pregnant woman, and enjoy your pregnancy. I'll get you pretty nightdress."

***

So there it was. I had a wonderful but scary two weeks ahead of me. I reckon I'd played my shock and horror just right to conceal my delight, for after all, what kind of weird male would actually want to spend time as a female, and a pregnant one at that? It certainly made no sense to me.

I think Jessica deliberately gave me her most sexy nightdress to wear that evening, I pretended horror, which made her grin, and I spent the night in continual ecstasy. If I'd been my normal self with such feelings, I'd simply have masturbated and quickly gone to sleep. But such relief was not achieved, in spite of the way my fingers explored my new body. Added to that problem were the frequent painful kicks from my baby to be.

I think I finally fell asleep as dawn was approaching and in next to no time Mum and Jessica were shaking me awake and planning my wardrobe for the day.

It was only when I was showered, dressed and breakfasted that the enormity fully hit me of going out into a world which, unlike my mother and cousin, had not encouraged me into this situation.

"I can't go out there," I said. "Everyone will know."

"I've told you over and over to keep practicing with your new voice," Mum said. "That voice changer pill may have raised your pitch, but you really need to get used to it. Now, give us your nursery rhymes again."

Last night, she'd made me go through Mary had a little lamb, and all the others, a hundred times, but I obediently went through them again. As I listened to my new voice, I felt much calmer, and as Mum and I stepped through the front door and into the real world, I really felt like the pretty, pregnant woman I was impersonating.

At the bus stop, shock, horror, my mum met a couple of her friends and introduced them to me as Brenda and Pat. Immediately, they pounced on me, wanting to know everything about my pregnancy. Fortunately, Jessica had coached me on all the salient facts the previous evening, and I managed to sate their curiosity. As we got on the bus together, I felt more confident in myself than ever. I was going clothes shopping with my mum and we were going to have fun.

It was fun when all the men leered at my low cut top, which Mum and Jessica had insisted I wore – even the old blokes went goggle-eyed over me. There was one incredibly ugly old guy with a horrible mole on his face, who gave me a leer, which sent a thrill of excitement though my body at the idea of being shagged by him. You can have sex as a female, Jessica had said, and the idea had both revolted and thrilled me.

It was also fun looking at all the pretty dresses in the shop windows, and then going in and trying them on. We went from shop to shop with Mum finding all kinds of pretty clothes. I wanted them all, but Mum was rarely satisfied.

"It'll make you look tarty," or "It makes you look fat rather than pregnant."

Then suddenly it wasn't fun. Mum said, "Have you noticed that old bloke standing across the road before?"

She gesticulated with the slightest inclination of her head and I looked at a man peering into a shop window. He was probably in his fifties, with a bald head and as I watched him, he turned his head to glance casually across the road directly at me. He had a large dark mole on his right cheek and I instantly remembered him looking at me as I got off the bus.

"I saw him at the bus station," I said.

"He was also waiting across the road when we came out of that last dress shop," Mum said.

"You mean he really is following us?" I said.

Mum was tight-lipped as she said, "Yes. It looks like it."

I shivered. "I'm scared," I said.

"No reason why you should be," Mum said. "It's not as though you really can lose your baby."

"No, but…"

"But it certainly means we have to take what Jessica was saying very seriously; very seriously indeed."

"Yes Mum."

***

"Did he have a large mole on his right cheek?" Jessica asked as soon as we told her about the elderly man.

"Yes," I said. "Yes, he did."

"He's the most noticeable. Did you notice anyone else following?"

"No," Mum said.

"If he's on my tail, then they've followed me all the way from my flat, so there are almost certainly one or two others," Jessica said. "It's just a matter of looking for them. The others are far less noticeable than him. In time, I expect you'll recognise several."

"What are we going to do now?" I asked. "I'm not certain I want to go ahead with this."

"You must," Mum said. "There's no choice. Jessica's baby is at risk. You must protect them both." She turned to Jessica. "What were you planning, love? For Joshua to live at your flat for a few weeks until it looks like it's dying over? You're welcome to stay here."

"I don't think it would work, Joshua staying at the flat. There are too many people who know me well who'd see through the disguise," she said. "Ronnie's spooks clearly know I'm down here so I think it's probably better if Joshua stays with you. They'll probably think it's so you can guard me from them, as well as caring for me in the latter stages of pregnancy. I'll find somewhere else to live."

"Have you got anywhere else?" I asked.

"I can stay with a friend," Jessica said, "but I don't think I'd better tell you where she is. That way if they do torture you to reveal my whereabouts, you won't be able to tell."

"Torture!" I gasped, "but…"

"Jessica's teasing you," Mum said. "Firstly, they won't suss you if you act the part well. Even if they do, they're not going to harm you. All right?"

She put on such a fierce look I had no alternative but to say, "Yes, Mum."

***

Over lunch, we agreed that Mum would hire a car and return with Jessica to her flat, pack several suitcases and bring them back here. Tomorrow, Mum and I would go out somewhere, hopefully drawing attention of the spooks away from the house, whilst Jessica departed to stay with her friend. That meant, when Mum and I returned to the house later on, the real Jessica would have gone and only her stand in, ie, me, would be left, so the spooks would then be permanently on my tail.

I was a quite freaked out after they'd departed to the car hire company and then on to Jessica's flat in London. Taking the part of a pregnant woman was partly to blame, although I had been really enjoying that. But the very idea that Jessica's supposed paranoia had now turned into real life was quite scary. It's one thing to see it on TV, quite another to actually experience it for yourself.

And what was Ronald Fluck's motive? Everyone knew he was a nutter, but would he really employ people to make a woman miscarry, when he was so vehemently against abortion. But then, what politicians said was one thing; what they did quite another. There again, Jessica had indicated it was friends of Fluck who were carrying out the actions, rather than his employees working on his orders. But how did she know? These spooks had hardly introduced themselves, and wasn't her thought motivated by her reluctance to see Fluck as the hateful man he really was, rather than as the father of her child.

It was clear I was going to have to keep a very sharp eye out for anything suspicious, and avoid dark unlit streets. But then, I supposed, women generally had to do that all the time and they came to terms with it. Perhaps I should just concentrate upon taking Jessica's place and let the rest sort itself out. Otherwise, I'd go as bonkers as she was.

***

The following morning, Jessica came into my room first thing to show her appreciation for my services. Doing that in the same way as she'd done on Friday evening was clearly not possible, but she gave me the female equivalent and it was very, very nice. I could, I thought, get used to being a woman. Then the sprog kicked me in the stomach again and I realised that pain, quite a lot of pain, goes with the pleasures of womanhood.

Mum and Jessica helped me chose my clothes and Jessica gave me final instructions on makeup. I had got reasonably adept at it since Friday, but still had problems around my eyelashes. Mum said she'd continue to help me for a few days until I got the hang of it.

Then we left the house to continue the shopping we'd finished early the previous day. Being Sunday, the buses were only hourly, so there was a big queue when we got to the bus stop. Brenda was there again, but not Pat, and I managed to have a reasonable chat with her.

Of course, by the time we got on the bus, there were no seats available. But two teenage boys immediately stood up for me and Mum, and we both had seats. I gave them a nice smile, which seemed to embarrass them.

There was no sign of mole face during that day's shopping, but I noticed a couple of women seemed to follow us from shop to shop. Jessica hadn't mentioned whether her followers were all men or a mixture. I guess that since we were going into dress shops, it would be easier for women to keep a close eye on us. I wondered whether the women knew the objective of their project; hopefully not. Even in these times of equality, I still like to think that few women are evil in the way that men frequently are.

So having women following us didn't seem so threatening and Mum and I enjoyed our shopping trip in a way we never had done before in our lives. I could see why Mum was pleased at having a pregnant daughter. We chatted about clothes and my new baby in a way that really made me think I was going to have one. When niggling thoughts came into my head that this was all make believe, I firmly rejected them. I was going to BE Jessica Roberts until...

We stopped at a pub for lunch; I was feeling quite thirsty but I knew that beer would be a no-no, so it would have to be a glass of wine.

"I'll have a large glass of Sauvignon," Mum said. "Have you settled on any particular drink now you can no longer drink alcohol?"

No longer drink alcohol! No one had said that was one of the conditions of pregnancy. If they had done, I'd certainly have refused. And I certainly wouldn't have suggested a pub lunch if I'd known I'd have to sit around like a lemon watching everyone else get drunk

"Why not try a lemonade and lime?" Mum suggested, grinning at the look on my face.

So I did, and actually it was quite nice. And although I've always found that drinking alcohol makes me much more sociable, Mum and I seemed to have no difficulty chatting about all kinds of things over lunch, including stupid things like how we would decorate the nursery. But eventually, my mind came around to that disquieting 'until' I'd thought about earlier.

"Aunt, do we have any way of contacting Joshua?" (We'd agreed that when speaking to each other, whether in public or private, we would refer to her as Joshua, and Mum as Aunt Harriet.)

"No," she said, "I thought he'd given you his friend's address." We both grinned at calling Jessica 'he'.

"No, I don't have any details," I said. "Josh loaned me his mobile phone again this morning, as he did yesterday, so the spooks could triangulate, or whatever they do to find its location and it would point to me. But he suggested that once he'd left the area, I kept it turned off so I wouldn't have friends and relatives ringing up and wanting to talk to him. He bought me a new mobile phone yesterday and I assumed he'd also bought one for himself and given you the number."

"But that would be no good," Mum said. "Presumably the spooks were following us yesterday afternoon and they'd be able to find out Joshua's new number, so they could then triangulate that. He can only buy a new phone now he's incognito."

"Let's hope he calls with the number quite soon. I do think we need to contact each other in case of emergencies."

"Duh!" Mum gave me a 'don't be stupid look'. "Presumably, our own phone is now being monitored by the spooks. He can hardly announce his new number to them as well as us. In any case, I think this conversation really shouldn't be conducted in a public place. We don't know which of these other customers are spooks."

It was true. We'd chosen a quiet corner seat but since then, the pub had filled up and one or two others were sitting quite close to us. I stared at them, trying to memorise their faces, until a male sitting at an adjacent table gave me a wink and a questioning look, as though to say, "Want to come back to my place?" I hurriedly turned away. As a man, the idea of being able to have sex with virtually any member of the opposite sex seemed idyllic; as a woman, it's horrifying how easily any glance can be taken as an offer.

We arrived back at the house with several carrier bags containing underwear and some very pretty dresses. As we'd expected, the house was empty and it brought home to me how isolated I was. I was stuck in this Pregnancy Torsolet thing for at least two weeks and would be the target for an unknown number of spooks attempting to make me lose my baby, or worse. I had no way of contacting Jessica, even in emergency, and my fifty year old mum was bouncing around as though I really was expecting a baby.

"We're going to have such fun," she said, seeing the look of apprehension on my face. "Maybe we should think about setting you up with a boyfriend. He'd be able to take care of you much better…"

"Mum!" I burst out. "I don't want a boyfriend. I'm your…"

She slapped my face.

"Sorry darling, but you were getting a little hysterical." She leaned right forward to whisper in my ear, "Remember, we must assume they've planted listening bugs in here by now. It's vital we don't reveal any secrets, so never call me Mum again or reveal your relationship. It's probably better if you think of me as Aunt, as I'm thinking of you as Jessica."

"Right," I said, still rather in shock over her slap. "But I really don't want a boyfriend."

Mum slowly nodded. "It's a shame but I suppose you’re right. But that doesn't stop us dressing you as though you were looking for a boyfriend. Remember, a few more weeks and you'll be gestating like an elephant."

"I don't think so," I whispered, aware of the potential bugs.

Mum simply smirked and nodded her head. When I looked puzzled, she beckoned me to lean forward so she could whisper into my ear. "We have to add half a litre of water to your Torsolet every week, so it mimics normal growth in pregnancy. Jessica's told me how to do it."

"Seems hardly worth it for a fortnight," I whispered back. "It won't make any noticeable difference."

"Why are you talking about a fortnight?" Mum asked. "You know we have to continue this until your full term, and we hear that Jessica's baby has been safely delivered."

"No! That wasn't what we agreed." I shouted rather than whispered that but it was hardly controversial.

"Yes it was," Mum replied. "After we realised that Fluck's spooks were following you yesterday, we agreed it would be best if you stayed here until you've had the baby, rather than just for the first two weeks, which we'd been discussing earlier. So you'll just have to get used to living here for the next four months.

"And," she added, "Jessica has agreed to pay you a wage for doing this, out of the money she got from that Ronald Fluck, equivalent to what you would have got on the dole. So you can shut up moaning and get on with your pregnancy.

Wow! Did I have some weird feeling surging through me? On the one hand, I'd clearly been tricked into this situation; on the other, the idea of carrying my baby until I was able to give birth, was thrilling and strangely satisfying. The regular kicks should have been simply uncomfortable; instead, they made everything seem totally real.

***

So, I've settled into my pregnancy. It was incredibly exhilarating at first, with lots of blokes giving me the eye as I went out with Mum. But gradually, as I looked more and more like that gestating elephant, so those lecherous looks reduced. Instead was this wonderful sense of satisfaction with my own womanhood (I know that sounds strange) as well as the comradeship with other women, in particular my mum. I think both of us had almost forgotten that I wasn't really pregnant, there was no real baby inside me; indeed, I wasn't really a woman. Deep inside our minds, of course, we realised it, but the thought was pushed to one side and we roller-coasted on the excitement it brought to both our lives.

Over the weeks, we both got to recognise the people who seemed to be following us. We could never be absolutely sure, of course, but when you're looking out for it, it's easy to identify a few faces who you see time and time again. I had bought a bug detector, one of those things which allows you to detect any secret listening devices, and the good news was that our house was bug free, so our earlier inhibitions had been unjustified and we no longer had to whisper inside our own home.

As the months went by and the final weeks of my pregnancy approached, I became so heavy I could barely walk. I kept begging my mum not to add the half kilo of water per week towards the end, but she said that was what every pregnant woman had to go through and I was no different. I guess I should have been hoping that Jessica herself would soon give birth and that my ordeal would be over. But I also knew that would be the end of my pregnancy, and I'd be losing my child. So somehow, I think we both hoped her pregnancy would go on forever.

Then, a letter arrived in the post saying I was being admitted the following day to St Margaret's Maternity Hospital in Seacombe, which is a seaside town further along the south coast, well over a hundred miles away. Mum suggested it was a mistake: that Jessica had arranged the admission for herself, giving my address as her own. It seemed reasonable so at last we knew where Jessica was going to be. As long as I could first shake off my followers, I would be able to meet up with her.

It was an opportunity too good to miss. Mum and I made plans for our escape with the help of Brenda and Pat, our friends we frequently met at the bus stop. We didn't tell them the whole story, of course, simply that my non-British ex-partner was having me followed and I wanted to shake him off before I gave birth. There have been so many publicised incidents where fathers have taken their children from the mother, I didn't have to elucidate.

Brenda agreed to give us a lift in her Ford Fiesta, whilst Pat, driving behind us in her Morris Minor, would block any attempts to follow us. Quite the James Bond.

We set out six am the following morning. Mum and I were waiting when Brenda's Fiesta stopped outside the house. We were out of the front door and Mum was climbing into the back seat within seconds. It took rather longer for me to squeeze my enormous bulk inside the tiny passenger seat, and Brenda insisted on my fastening the seat belt before we set off, but even so it seemed quick enough to take our watchers by surprise.

We turned onto the main road, still quiet at that hour, overtook Pat's Morris Minor which was idling along and then drove in convoy, with Pat ready to block the road at the sight of any car following us.

Initially, we headed towards London, but after we felt reasonably safe that we weren't being followed, we veered across to the coast road using isolated B roads. Although it was a misty morning, Mum even kept an eye out for helicopters tailing us.

After we'd travelled for twenty minutes, or so, Mum telephoned Pat on her mobile and suggested she go back home and we cracked on towards Seacombe.

***

St Margaret's Maternity Hospital was one of those large houses with several brass plates next to the door, clearly a private hospital no doubt paid for from Ronald Fluck's money. There were no parking spaces left on the forecourt, so Mum and I got out whilst Brenda went off to find somewhere to park. Inside, a sign indicated that St Margaret's Maternity Hospital was on the second floor. As we squeezed inside the tiny lift, I couldn't help feeling grateful that I wasn't on a stretcher in the throes of childbirth.

We found a door bearing the St Margaret's name and stepped inside, where there was a woman in scrubs with a badge bearing the word 'Midwife'.

"Jessica Jones?" I enquired of her.

She rapidly took in my condition and said, "Come in," with a sympathetic smile. "We were expecting you." Before I could explain that we were here to visit Jessica, she added, "Presumably, you are really Joshua Jones?"

I think my mouth sagged wide open.

"Er, yes," I said.

She smiled at my surprise. "The real Jessica will be here later on to visit you and your new-born baby, but in the meantime, we have to get on with your delivery."

"My… delivery? What do you mean? If you know I'm really Joshua then you'll realise that I'm a man. I can't give birth."

"You're wrong," she said. "Let me explain. I'm not really a midwife, but I work for the company called Big Busts here in Seacombe, the company who make your Pregnancy Torsolet. We pride ourselves that our Torsolet is capable not just of simulating pregnancy, but of a realistic childbirth, as well. Miss Jones tells us that a video is required of you giving birth to prove some kind of legal case. We'll take the video, of course, but we in Big Busts don't involve ourselves in the legal side of things. However, we're all set up, so if we can get you into the delivery ward, we can make a start."

"Stop! Stop! Stop!" I said. "I'm sorry, this is totally unexpected. I can't do that. It'll be painful, won't it?"

"I think you'll find it's quite realistic," she said.

"You mean it will hurt like crazy?"

She smiled. "I'm afraid it may hurt a little."

"Or it may hurt a lot," Mum helpfully added. "It's what pregnant women have to put up with in order to have their children."

"But Mum, Jessica never mentioned this."

Mum gave a little grimace. "Well, I didn't like to worry you but she told me about it when we hired the car to pick up her things."

"So you knew all along. You tricked me into coming here."

"Well, obviously you couldn't go into our local maternity hospital to have your baby delivered. Jessica told me the company had this place they can set up to do the job. So I had to get you here. Apparently, your delivery date was already arranged and programmed into your Torsolet."

"No!" I said. "I'm sorry, but I'm not going ahead with this. I'm walking out of here now… Oooh!" There was a strange wetness running down my legs.

"I think your waters have broken," the midwife said.

***

They told me afterwards that it was a quick and relatively easy first birth. I can fortunately remember few things from those few hours, which mainly involved an incredible amount of pain and screaming on my part, the sweat running down my forehead as I followed the commands to, "Push! Push!" when I didn't really know what I was pushing.

Finally, there was the sound of a baby yelling and a little bundle wrapped in a blanket was thrust into my arms.

"He looks just like his father," my mum said. To me, he looked absolutely beautiful.

***

Jessica came to visit me later, and she dutifully admired the baby sucking my breast. (OK, I have to admit that this was a very realistic doll which they had produced, and which could yell like a real baby, suck milk like a real baby and shit like a real baby. I mean, what else do babies do at that age?)

"He's beautiful," she said, I think more because it was expected of her than because she believed it.

"He is, isn't he?" I said. I knew he wasn't a real baby, but I was attached to him like any other mother who's carried her baby for months, and then gone through hell and back in order to give birth.

I looked at her properly for the first time. Clearly, Jessica was no longer pregnant; indeed, she looked far slimmer than me, even now I'd given birth. "But where's your baby?" I asked.

She gave a kind of apologetic smile and shrugged.

"Actually, I never was pregnant," she said.

"What?" I couldn't believe what she'd said. "But… we saw you. You were five months gone."

She shook her head. "No, I was simply wearing another Pregnancy Torsolet."

"You weren't pregnant? Then why did you say you were?"

"Isn't it obvious? I was putting the screws on Ronald. I was quite happy for him to screw me in that toilet, but he can't just cast me aside like that. He has to be made to pay."

"But you told me you'd got ten thousand dollars out of him."

"I've got a bit more now. As soon as I emailed the video they took this morning and they saw the baby, there was no doubt about the father. They paid up straightaway."

I looked down at my baby, still heavily sucking my breasts. "They never tried to make the baby miscarry. So why did they go to the expense of having you, and then me, continually followed."

"Ah." She looked even more apologetic now.

"Ah, what?"

"They weren't actually following either of us around."

"But Mum and I have seen them, continually; ever since I took over your role. First, there was that old bloke with the mole, who you identified, and then there have been several women who we notice virtually every time we go out."

"I'm afraid that old bloke was me," she said. "Wearing a mask. As soon as you left the house that morning, I pulled off my Pregnancy Torsolet, slipped on the mask and a few clothes. I got a taxi into town, and could watch you getting off the bus. I then followed you until I was certain you'd noticed me. After that, I got a taxi back here, put on the Pregnancy Torsolet and was waiting for you when you got back."

"That's rubbish," I said. "Once it's on, you can't pull the Torsolet off again for two weeks."

She gave me a wicked grin. "It depends which gel you use. There's a temporary gel I was using. You can pop the thing on and off as convenient."

"But the other people following us…"

"Once I'd convinced you there really were people watching you, your imagination did the rest. In a small town like that, you're bound to frequently see the same people over and over again."

"But if you weren't being watched," I said, trying to work everything out, "why on earth did you want me to pretend to be you?"

"In order to pursue my claim against Fluck," she said. "I had to show I was continually pregnant right up to the moment of childbirth. I was going to do it all myself, but I realised after a few months that it was incredibly uncomfortable and painful, not to say it restricted my social life. So I spun the yarn to you and your mum about the spooks following me in order to get you to stand in for me. You and I really are alike, you know. I simply told the solicitors I was dealing with that I'd changed address. I think they probably sent an investigator to come and look at you once or twice, and make certain you really were pregnant. It all worked perfectly."

"You mean I've been taking the part of a pregnant woman for four months in order to help you extort money from someone, because you were too lazy to do the difficult bit yourself. You did really have sex with him in that toilet, didn't you? I mean, he wasn't just taking a leak?"

"I'll cut you in on the deal," Jessica said, ignoring my question. "Say ten percent."

"How much was it?" I asked.

"One hundred thousand dollars. That makes it ten thousand dollars for you."

"Stuff that," I said. "I did all the hard work. I want half, and if you don't want to pay up, I only have to mention to Fluck's solicitor what you did and you go to jail."

She opened her mouth, about to argue, and then closed it again. "Done," she said.

Actually, the money didn't seem that important. What was important was that I keep my baby.

Thank you enjoy.jpg Enjoyed this story? Then you may also enjoy The Pudding Club or my other stories.



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