If The Shoe Fits Ch. 1

“Alex. It’s just one night. No one will ever know but us. Please, I’m begging you, do this for me?”

I didn’t say yes. I didn’t say no. I didn’t nod or shake my head. I just let Lara slip my athletic socks off my feet and, one after the other, slide the high-heeled shoes into place.

They fit like they were made for me.

IF THE SHOE FITS...

Chapter 1 - Friends in Need

Earlier that day.

I awoke in the center of the sun. The light of a million stars screaming in my head. I was a nocturnal creature whose nest had been suddenly and violently exposed to ancient searing light. That or, more likely, I was hungover and my roommate Lara had pulled the curtains open on me. I dove under my sheets in a vain attempt to keep what little darkness remained.

“Dude, I’m not saying you have to go to class, but you have to get up. Now,” she said flatly as she pulled away my security.

“Gimme just, like, ten more minutes.” Or ten more lifetimes.

“Alex... it’s 2 O’Clock. We had a deal.” Her voice was like a jackhammer on cement.

“Deal? What deal?” Lara came charging at me, so frustrated by her lack of bludgeoning implement that she made do with a rolled up catalog. I got several whacks for my lapse in memory.

“What deal? I swear to god you’ve killed your last brain cell. You promised me that you would let me have the apartment tonight for my photoshoot!”

“Oh yeah... “ I vaguely recalled something like that. “For your little online catalog thingy.”

“No, for my business.”

“Same difference.” My atttiude was met with several more licks from the catalog and an exasperated scream.

“Just get the fuck out of here. The photographer is coming at 8 and the UPS guy is late and... ” Lara pushed on me with everything she could muster until I was at the edge of the bed. “Just get your ass up and put on some goddamn clothes!” Lara threw the sheets over my naked lower half. My naked erect lower half.

“Hey! It’s my room. You’re the one busting up in here at...” I saw the clock and my heart sank. “The fuck!? It’s 2:15! Why didn’t you tell me it’s 2:15? I’m fucking late.”

Lara stormed away slamming the door as she went. I swooped down like a bird of prey snatching various pieces of clothing off the floor. Shirt? Check. Shoes? Check? Pants... in progress... check. Underwear was a luxury I couldn’t afford. Today I’d be going to meet my financial counselor commando style. I’d already missed two classes, and I was late for my meeting but it was imperative that I not miss it altogether. I gathered the rest of my things and ran for the door.

Lara blocked me.

“Forgetting something?”

She directed my gaze to the couch where a blonde girl I didn’t recognize, stripped down to her panties, was soundly sleeping.

“Oh hey, um... girl? Time to wake up.” The girl was definitely cute. She was tall with an athletic build, had long dirty blonde hair, a fine set of titties, and an immaculately sculpted ass. Almost the opposite of Lara who had the proportions of a teenage boy and dark raven black hair with severe bangs that straddled that delicate line between Betty Page and goth girl. Our friendship had nothing to do with her looks and everything to do with her living next door to me since I was 8 years old.

The girl stirred awake. “Oh hey...” It wasn’t a sexy ‘Oh hey you were great last night’, it was a ‘did I sleep with you’ type greeting.

“I’m sorry. You need to get dressed. My roomate needs the apartment.”

“Oh... OK. Um...” The girl scanned her immediate vicinity for her clothes. Lara handed me a pile of her stuff which I passed over. She put on what was there but then stopped when she got to the pants.

“Um...”

“We don’t have time for this. Just get dressed. I’m in a hurry.”

“Yeah, but like, you’re wearing my jeans.” The girl was smirking. Probably because I’d been an asshole to her.

In my rush to get to my meeting I had apparently put on her skinny jeans. I thought they fit a little snug. I wiggled my way out of the girl’s pants (carefully cupping my bits from view) and took my own from her hands. Heh. Never thought I’d be trying to get out of a girl’s pants.

“They looked good on you.” Lara said laughing.

“Glad I could cheer you up.” I said as I burst out the door into the hall and raced across campus.

....

I arrived at the financial services building just as my advisor was walking out. She did not look happy to see me and in fact, pretended not to see me as she strolled past. Her pace quickened as I gave chase.

“I’m so sorry I’m late Mrs. Clarke. You wouldn’t believe what happened.”
“I’m sure I wouldn’t.” said the stout black lady in her no nonsense business suit. “And if it’s just more lame excuses that you intend to subject me to, I don’t even care to hear.”

“I... Please just come back inside and meet with me.“ Mrs. Clarke stopped walking and took me aside to scold me as if I was her own.

“How many chances do you think a person gets in this life? How long do you think you can make with the pretty face and get people to roll over for you?”

“Just give me one more chance. I promise...”

“Don’t. Don’t you say that to me. Not that word. Not again. You say anything about promises and I will wash my hands of your punk ass.” This was the sharpest Mrs. Clarke had ever been with me. I can’t say I didn’t deserve it. “Come on. You got ten minutes.”

I followed Mrs. Clarke back inside. I couldn’t help feeling like a villain as we passed by her co-workers and I was bathed in stink eyes from all corners. They whispered about me. I imagine the words “failed potential” and “lost cause” were on their lips but all I could hear was the rustling leaves on the gossip tree.

Once in Mrs. Clarke’s office, I took a seat as directed and prepared what I was going to say. Mrs. Clarke would have none of that.

“Academic probation.” I squirmed in my chair. “I put my faith in you, I take you at your word and what do I get for my faith. Academic Probation, Again.”

“I can explain...”

“I told you I don’t want to hear an explanation. That time has passed.”

“Well, then what can I do?”

“Nothing. Your financial aid is done. That boat is sailed. That pooch is screwed.”

I could feel tears welling up in my eyes. Honestly, it had been so long since I required real human reaction that I couldn’t tell if I was sincere in my despair or not. Mrs. Clarke studied my face for a bit before looking down at her notes.

“Can I appeal?”

“You a damn fool.”

“There must be something I can do.” Mrs. Clarke was letting me suffer. She wanted me to feel the weight of all my hard partying ways and the foolish choices I’d made since starting here at the University. She didn’t realize how committed I was to my own destruction. Even now, as I fret over how I was going to cover the cost of my tuition, I was already planning more ways to cheat the system.

“This is your last chance.” I let a smile break across my face as relief flooded me. “Don’t you go all smiley on me. This ain’t gonna be easy. Your free ride is over.”

“Of course.” I hid my smile behind a furrowed brow and leaned in eager to learn
how we were going to dig me out of this.

“There are three conditions to my helping you and these are not up for negotiation. First of all, you’re gonna get a job” I tried to mask my annoyance. “Second, you’re gonna get yourself off academic probation. And finally, you’re gonna declare your major this year and show the upper ups that you’ve got some direction and there’s some reason to keep your stupid ass around.”

“But...” Mrs. Clarke shushed me with one raised hand. “IF, you do these three things I will support your reapplication for full financial aid starting from next Spring.”

“Next year! That’s, like, thirty grand.”

“More like thirty-five including books.” She corrected. Finally satisfied by the sheer panic her words wrought.

How am I supposed to come up with that much money? How am I supposed to get my grades up if I’m working all the time?”

“You show me some progress, Alex, and I’ll get you some of your financial aid back to help cover costs, but if I don’t see effort on your part... you may as well just quit and move back home.”

Her words sunk in slowly as I left the building. I decided to go for a run to clear my head as I thought back on the last two years. I had started Chesapeake University as a rising star; top of my graduating class in high school and winner of a prestigious math scholarship. That first semester I made good on my pedigree but then something changed. I’d never had much of a social life in high school. Being thin and lanky, people would get excited assuming I’d be a basketball player but when I never showed interest in sports I only disappointed them. By the time everybody else caught up to my height and stopped assuming some greater purpose of me, I had isolated myself from everyone. I only ever grew to 5’9” of skin and bones, nature’s cruel gag, I suppose.

So, I went a little nuts when I got to college and found out that girls liked my emo demeanor and book smarts. The first sign that things had changed came at a party that Lara threw for me when I moved in with her and our fellow Hambletonian, Caleb. Lara practically begged me to put my studying aside and loosen up. She was always my only connection to whatever social scene existed around me. When I finally gave in and crawled out of my cave, her friends mock cheered but rather than feel repelled I felt a sense of belonging. This sense grew only stronger the more alcohol fueled my ego became. Flash forward a couple months, and suddenly there was a very different picture of Alex Hoth. This was no longer the introverted socially awkward nerd who studied all day and night. The new Alex Hoth was a party freak and something of a manwhore. Girls bought into my tortured genius schtick and I, let them. I was with so many I actually lost count, or maybe I just fried the part of my brain that counted. The more time I spent with the ladies and my new friends the less I spent in class and soon enough I could no longer fake my way through. I was legitimately failing.

That’s when I met Mrs. Clarke. She had seen cases like mine before. College was overwhelming for some people. She gently reminded me to prioritize my life and before long my grades were on the rise again and I was out of trouble. That didn’t last long.

Which as you now know, lead me here; drenched in sweat, fiddling with the keys to my apartment on the verge of complete and total despair.

....

I stepped across the floor mat of our apartment, carefully removing my shoes so as not to scuff the wooden flooring which had been polished to a healthy shine. There was an extra pair of ladies’ running shoes next to mine which meant that the models had started arriving.

I was certain I was not supposed to be here, but the thought of being anywhere else right now, out there with temptation, filled me with dread. Where had the time gone? Five hours ago, when I had been so rudely awakened, the apartment had been mostly empty and obsessively clean but now there were boxes strewn everywhere some opened, some not.

I carefully navigated the cardboard jungle, picking up a loose skirt or belt along the way as I went and placing them up where they could not be stepped on. I heard sounds of muffled shuffling coming from Lara’s room.

I quietly poked my head in. Lara’s room was a ridiculous place. Her walls were covered in postcards of foreign movie’s she’d never seen and black and white photos of exotic locales she’d never heard of. She was something of a fashion freak (thus her new business venture) so everything down to her polkadot bedside lamp had a girlish retro feel. As I peaked in I saw her curly red-haired friend Caitlyn in the final moments of a zip-up. I chose not to look away.

“Alex!” Lara screeched. Caitlyn gave a modest nod and shied away as I stepped inside.

“Sorry, I know I’m not supposed to be here but...”

“Thank god you’re here. I’ve been texting you for half an hour.” I check my phone. 12 new messages.

“What’s wrong?” As if it could possibly be any worse than my current situation.

“Lara’s freaking out.” Caitlyn said as Lara made alterations to the sleek little black dress she was wearing.

“Do you know any girls who wear a size ten?” Lara looked up in a very matter of fact way and left the question hanging.

“Shoes.” Caitlyn filled in.

“Um... How would I know? Maybe? What this about?”

Lara stopped what she was doing and stuck her sewing needle into one of those tomato things that seamstresses use. She looked panicked like I had rarely seen her. Tears were dropping down her face.

“The stupid motherf...” She did some kind of zen breathing thing and continued, “the... company whose shoes I am going to be selling sent over the samples in a size that’s too big for any of my models. The clothes that were supposed to fit Caitlyn are too big. The photographer, who I only just managed to get because of a last minute cancellation, just told me that she’s coming in half an hour and would like to start early and I am so in over my head right now. It would be really awesome if you could find me a girl with pretty feet who wears a size 10.”

My problems would have to wait. If I was going to turn over a new leaf I may as well start by helping out a friend in need.

“I dunno. I’ll call around.”

“Hey, how’d the meeting go?”

“Great”

“Really?”

“Nope, I’m boned. They’re revoking my financial aid. I gotta find a way to pay my tuition.”

“Alex, I’m so sorry. If you need to take care of that, don’t worry about me. We’ll figure something out.”

“No, I want to get my mind off it. I’ll call around.”

“Thanks and I’m sorry if I’ve been a bitch lately. I really want this to work.”

Lara came and gave me a quick hug that lasted a little longer than normal. It was always weird hugging each other because we were both so thin that we’d get jabbed by each other’s bones.

“When you call tell them I’m paying $350 for the night.”

I called a bunch of people I sort of knew from various social settings but either they weren’t a size 10 (and were offended that I might even think so) or they didn’t like the idea of someone photographing their feet. People were weird about feet.They probably thought it was some fetish thing or something. I told everyone to spread the word but I doubt they would put half the energy into canvassing their friends as I just had. I even called some of my guy friends and asked them if they knew anyone but they didn’t even know their own girlfriend’s shoe size.

I went in to Lara’s room to deliver the bad news expecting to see her still crying dejectedly on the floor but instead was greeted by the sight of Caitlyn and her giggling conspiratorially together on the bed.

“Did you find anyone?” Lara asked.

“No... nobody who fit the bill was willing to do it. There’s not that many girls who wear a size 10.”

“No, not many girls... but...” Lara was looking at me. Her eyes becoming more doe-like with each passing second.

Caitlyn had slid off the bed now, having since changed into her street clothes. She stepped up right aside of me demonstrating something to Lara that I was slow to process.
Lara nodded mischievously as she ran her gaze from my face down to my feet.

“Lara? What is it? Did I step in something?”

....

“No way. Absolutely, no way.”

“You said you wanted to help. This would be helping.”

“I am not going to dress up like a girl and let you take photos of me! That’s insane.”

“I’m not asking you to dress up like a girl. You just have to wear the shoes and maybe some stockings.”

“Are you listening to yourself? What self respecting guy would possibly consider this.”

“Weren’t you just saying that you needed to make a lot of money?” interjected Caitlyn while she twirled a coil of curly hair innocently around the tip of her finger.

“You stay out of this!” I was being rude but this was my masculinity at stake here!

“Alex.” Lara had since picked up a black patent leather pump, which she held like a baretta pointed at my chest and was now stepping closer to me. I let my knees buckle behind me as I flopped onto the bed. Caitlyn, put a hand on my shoulder, not to physically hold me down which was impossible, but to place a mental stop sign on further struggles while Lara convinced me of her plan. Lara leaned in close. The smell of arthouse coffee reminded me of the brief time we had hooked up back in 12th grade and my tongue had tasted the back of her teeth. “Alex. It’s just one night. No one will ever know but us. Please, I’m begging you, do this for me?”

I didn’t say yes. I didn’t say no. I didn’t nod or shake my head. I just let Lara slip my athletic socks off my feet and, one after the other, slide the high-heeled shoes into place.

They fit like they were made for me.

“If the shoe fits...” Lara was suddenly overjoyed. Caitlyn gave me a golf clap. “Caitlyn guessed, but I would have never thought... stand up for a sec.”

I stood and immediately lost my balance. My legs trembled beneath me. There must have been a good 4 inches between my heel and the floor. My foot was contorted into brand new and very foreign angles which it at once stood in awe and rejection of. I steadied myself on Lara’s shoulder and we hobbled together towards the mirror.

“I feel like a cripple.”

“Well, I’m not asking you to run a marathon in them.” Lara had me turn this way and that before declaring my feet ‘beautiful’. Caitlyn was stifling her laughter with a pillow. I wanted to die.

It was decided by the girls while I was in the shower cleaning off the sweat from my earlier run, that in order to sell the look of these spring/summer shoes I would need to go bare.

I knew it was coming but it didn’t hurt any less. As I readied to step out of the shower, Lara handed me her razor and a canister of ladies’ shaving gel which promised to make my legs “touchably smooth,” a sentiment I had never aspired to. I suppose most women don’t start out as Chewbacca because it took me several passes to clear off most of the hair and only after Caitlyn came in and talked me through the whole sordid affair. Working around the knobby part of my ankle lead to several nicks and cuts that became a major shouting point when I unveiled them to the girls.

When I showed off the finished product, I was met with boos. Apparently, half my leg wasn’t good enough. Lara wanted the option of doing full leg shots with me. So back in again I went to chip away further at my dwindling manhood. I rinsed away the evidence as I waved goodbye to the last of my valiant leg hairs. You served your captain well, soldiers.

I stepped out with the towel yanked up around my balls to show off my poor barren legs.
Lara and Caitlyn gasped and began to whisper amongst themselves in that appraising way girls often do.

“OK. I’m a freak. I get it. This was a bad idea.” I really, really wanted out of this. It wasn’t too late to scour the drain for hair and glue it back on.

“You’re not a freak. They look great.” Lara didn’t laugh when she handed me a bottle of lotion and a container of baby powder. Her face was dead serious. “Spread some of this on your legs and join us out here we don’t have much time.”

I did as I was told. And the burning, itching bleeding sensations slowly abated into a smooth silky feeling that betrayed every neuron in my head. This is not my leg. I am not touching my leg. How could my usually manly leg feel so much like warm butter?

When I rejoined the ladies wearing only my boxers, I saw that other models had since arrived and a strange older man in a knit cap was setting up a camera on a tripod. I suddenly became very aware of my situation and instinctively pulled the towel up to cover my chest. That was not a normal reaction.

“Don’t be shy, sweetie. I’ve been doing this for 25 years. I’ve seen everything.” The models who had been absorbed in getting their clothing and makeup right were all of a sudden aware of me and the reaction was far less generous than the older dude's. There was pointing and laughing and fucking-a I was back in high school again. They brushed past me and into the bathroom. I guess I’d been in there a while.

“This was a bad idea. I should go put on some pants.”

“You’ll do no such thing. Don’t be such a pussy. Come here and let me get a look at those beautiful things.”

This dude was seriously starting to creep me out but again, I was hardly in the position to argue with anyone. I had already been seen by everyone who would see me. Maybe the worst of it was over.

"What's your name, doll?" Was this dude hitting on me? Did he not see my adam's apple?

"This is Alex." Lara popped back in to reply for me. "Alex this is Emmanuel Corbin."

"Nice to meet you." It wasn't.

“Well, Ally, you have lovely feet. Slender, shapely, virginal. I'm being honest when I say, if I only saw your feet and legs I would think you were a girl. I was a little worried when Lara told me your story but this is going to work out just fine.” The way Emmanuel looked at me made me intensely uncomfortable. Luckily his assistant a plucky Southern girl who looked like she was just out of high school pulled him away to consult on the lighting.

“I’m so relieved to hear that. Aren't you?” Lara said slipping an arm around my shoulders.

"Ecstatic."

"Oh don't be such a sourpuss. I know what'll cheer you up! Caitlyn here is going to make you even prettier."

"Oh yeah, cause that's what my shattered ego needs right now."

“Don't be snarky.” said Lara.

“I'm thinking we start off with a nice bold red? You game?” Caitlyn was a year behind us and as annoyingly perky as a cocker spaniel.

Lara, sensing my growing impatience softened her business-like demeanor when she spoke to me. “Listen, I know we didn’t discuss this but Caitlyn’s going to be giving you a pedicure. You’re the only foot model we have tonight so we’ll be changing shades a few times to match the different styles. Just sit back and go with the flow.”

"I hate you."

"You're getting paid. Man up."

I nodded my ascent and waited for Caitlyn as I wondered whether, once I let her sculpt and paint me, I could ever claim my foot as my own again. Caitlyn arrived shortly and began by soaking my toes in a warm bath.

“I think it’s really awesome what you’re doing for Lara. I don’t think I know of any other guy who would.”

“Well, I need the money. She's paying me you know?”

“Yeah I guess... Still, I think most guys would run the other way if a girl asked them to wear high heels. But then again, most guys wouldn’t look so good in them.”

“Thanks... I think?”

Caitlyn, was pushing away cuticles now and rubbing cream into the nail beds. Before long the file was sawing up and down revealing a hidden gleam underneath with each buff of the nail.

“You know, you have kind of a round face. I wonder what you’d look like with...” Caitlyn trailed off and then shook her head as if banishing the thought. I knew what she was hinting at and I wasn’t pleased. I wasn’t going to pry the rest of that sentence out of her. I suddenly wanted to shave off all the scraggly brown hair that hung to just below my shoulders to dispel any further fantasies Caitlyn might be having.

My nails no longer looked like my own, they were clean and neat and faintly shimmering. The sound of Caitlyn shaking up the tiny bottle of nail color heralded a new era in Alexdom. I could have gone my whole life without ever having brightly colored toenails but now I would have them. With each even brushstroke, my natural nail color disappeared under the vibrant red of the polish. As I sat there, under strict orders not to move until they were completely dry, I tried to justify them. They looked like the color of a sports car. Plenty of men had colored nails. Rockers these days wore black fingernail polish. This wasn’t that out of the ordinary. However, the evidence before my eyes made me think not of rockers or sports cars but of Hollywood starlets and how somewhere out there my own mother might be getting the same shade applied to her nails. If only she knew, at least from the hips down, I could be the daughter she never had.

I got a chill up my spine.

After Caitlyn declared me all dry and removed my toes from the styrofoam mold that had held them prisoner, I was brought over to a seat where a whole array of sandals, pumps and ballet shoes were eagerly anticipating my feet to make them beautiful.

....

Emmanuel continued to call me Ally and talk about me as if I were a girl. Because he did so and he was the King of the Roost, his assistant and even Caitlyn started doing it too.

“Ally,” he’d say, “Let’s have you try on the purple peekaboos with the lime green tights”

To which I would reply, “Peekaboos?”

To which his assistant would say, “Those are the pumps with the toe open in the front just peeking out. They’re called peekaboo style. You really should know this stuff if you're going to make a career of this.”

And then I’d say nothing. I’d don the tights (which I learned quickly had to be rolled onto the tips of my toes and unfurled up my legs,) find the shoe she was referring to, slip it on my foot and assume a number of poses as I was instructed. Eventually we got to the silk stockings which I was warned were designer label and cost upward of a hundred and fifty dollars each. I took extra time and care smoothing them up my leg. The slowdown of the process made the act almost erotic, and I inwardly shuddered when the indulgent sensation cause twitching in my nether regions. The stockings made slipping on the heels even easier than usual and I couldn't help wiggling my toes a bit to feel the material stretch against me.

I thought things were going well (as in, almost finished) until Emmanuel told me to take five and went off to have a private pow-wow with Lara. Caitlyn was also on break and we had a chance to bond over bottled water and wine.

“You’re really taking to this.” She said in her friendly, high-pitched voice. A far cry from Lara’s husky purr.

“I’m just trying not to screw it up. I have no idea what I’m doing.”

“I don’t know. I saw you really getting into it over there.”

“At first I felt so ridiculous but by the fifth shoe I was like, it’s just a job, you know?”

“That’s true. But it’s also an art. Kind of. I mean I don’t want to sound pretentious but it is. You’re telling a story with your body.”

“Well mine is a tall tale then.”

“Hah. That’s funny.” Caitlyn snorted. “But seriously, who knew you had such gorgeous legs under all that bushy hair?”

There was a mirror across from me which had been left at an angle so I could only see my legs and for the first time I let myself see what everyone had been saying about me since the start of the evening. My lower half was indistinguishable from Caitlyn’s or any of the other girls. In fact if there were a contest to pick who had the longest, most attractive legs and feet, I had a good chance of winning it. I looked so... supple and delicate. This was a 180 from the usual feeling I got looking at my slender weenie of a body. When looked at as a specimen of the male species I was basically a failure. I was too thin, too soft, and my angles were too yielding. Something about taking all those negatives and twisting them into positives was empowering. Although my foot was starting to scream in agony as I had crammed it into increasingly outrageous footwear, I allowed myself, for a moment, to admire how the strappy stiletto heels I was currently wearing made my leg look taut and svelte. The way my toes (by this time a shimmery peach pearl color) poked out was kind of turning me on.

“Don’t fall in love, now. It’s almost 12 O’Clock and you’re about to turn back into a pumpkin.” Lara with a wakeup call. I quickly looked away from myself, the shame splashed all over my face.

“I wasn’t.” Wasn’t what? Realizing that I was better looking than most normal girls including, Lara?

“Whatever you say.” Lara bent down and pulled the shoe off my foot. “Here, we’re going to use these clear bandaids to cheat a little. I see you’re getting raw in some places. These should help you. Trade secret.”

Lara put a bandaid on just under where most of the heels touched the middle part of my toes and on my ankle where the straps were digging in. The style of the day seemed to be a very shallow foot. Sometimes it was a struggle just to keep my toes from slipping out and the delicate ankle straps and backs usually did nothing. The only pair that had really kept everything in place comfortably was this weird shoe that looked like a boot that had been cut up; its toe wide open, back missing, with a thick belt-like wrap around ankle sleeve. I was told this look was very now, but really what did that mean? I was just grateful to be able to relax when wearing it.

“Thanks.”

“Hey listen. Sweetie, you’ve been awesome tonight.” Something about the way Lara was babying me built a growing sense of dread in my gut. “I know we just talked about tights and shoes, but Emmanuel is insisting that we get some fuller shots for the Lookbook and...”

“Lookbook?”

“Yeah, it’s a more editorial look at the clothes so girls can see other girls, or um, guys wearing them practically -in life situations. The thing is... these shots have to be more full bodied-ish.” Lara cringed at the last word.

“Fuck off.” I stood. Something I’d gotten good at doing in even the most unrealistic shoes. Walking however... not happening. I stumbled and nearly took out one of the prettier models, Deana, with my flailing arms.

“Please!”

”Now you want to put me in a dress?”

“Not a dress. A skirt and a sweater. We won’t show your face. We’ll just get some shots of you sitting at the table there looking demure; legs crossed, or folded under your chair. It’s so easy and it’ll really sell the look.” Lara had a way of playing me and a history of getting what she wanted out of me. She looked so pathetic with her puppy dog eyes and quivering lip. When she saw that I was wobbling she went in for the kill. “We only see from the bottom of your breasts down. Elbow, Chest, heels. That’s it I promise.”

“Be a man and go put on that outfit there, already. Stop being a pansy.” Called out Emmanuel as he put out a cigarette in Lara’s candy dish.

“Fuck all of you.”

Instead of turning on my, um, heels, storming into my bedroom, putting on a pair of pants and blasting out of there, I shuffled over to the rack of clothes and picked up the grey pencil skirt and the deep purple cashmere sweater. When I did, a lacy black bra and panty set fell out from the bundle onto the floor.

“It’s part of the look.” Lara stated with a weak smile.

“FML”

I’d taken quite a few bras off since coming to college but I can honestly say this was the first one I’d ever put on. The design did not lend itself to easy wearing. Lara saw me grappling with the straps and trying to reach around my back and rushed into assist. Apparently I’d been doing it all wrong. I could have just done it in the front and then slipped it around backwards. This is what Lara showed me and then had me repeat until I had the hang of it. Why I would need to know this, I had no idea, since tonight would be Ally’s last performance. Or so I prayed. Lara cupped my “breasts” in her hands and dropped them in the bra. They’d chosen a padded B-cup for me which I couldn’t quite fill out but, to even Lara’s surprise, my outsides were doughy enough to supplement nicely. The panties were more problematic. I protested, of course, but Emmanuel's assistant assured me in her southern drawl that the skirt would look funny if I didn't commit to the look. As for my bits, well, I kind of just promised to wedge them up under me so the camera wouldn't see them. For now, they were just sort of rebelling against the silky material. My bits weren't very big, but they weren't minuscule either. It looked ridiculous.

“Curiouser and curiouser.” Caitlyn said as she poked her head around my bedroom door just in time to see my transformation.

I called Lara back inside and she pulled the skirt up to my waist and fastened it tightly. Something about the way it sat on my hips made this evenings goings on shockingly real. It was like Caitlyn said, this wasn’t just a job. I was stepping into the shoes of a real woman now. Slipping into her skirt and her sweater and her life. This wasn’t just playing dress up, I was becoming her. Then I looked in the mirror and saw my face speckled by five o’clock shadow and instead I saw a circus freak.

I tried to put the circus freak image out of my head while I posed for Emmanuel. I tried to imagine myself looking more like a young brunette Nicole Kidman, on break from her job at an art gallery, enjoying some “me time,” a coffee and a good book at a nearby cafe. I tried but I don’t think it worked. That tranny in the mirror kept creeping back into my mind. Why did I care so much?

I felt bad for spoiling the shoot with my anxieties, but Lara and Emmanuel seemed happy with the results and they never mentioned anything about it. Before long, the shoot was done and I was given the OK to return to my plain old self. I lingered in front of the mirror one last time and then began the process of putting Ally away and putting Alex back in place. I packed Ally’s bra and panty set, along with the other clothes into a bag and put it in the corner.

Lara saw off Emmanuel and met me back on the couch where I was peeling blistered skin from my foot.

“Yikes!” Lara saw the skin piling up. “Gross”

“Heels suck.”

“Welcome to womanhood.” Says the girl who wore flats all night.

“They hurt and they’re cramped, and check out my poor foot! It’s all deformed now.” I pointed to my toes that in heels had looked so pretty but out of them were chewed up, squished together and thoroughly broken.

“Ally seemed to think they were worth the pain.” I ignored that.

“I am never doing this again.” Lara pulled out her checkbook and wrote me a check for $350.00.

“Never say never...” She said with a devillish grin as she sipped at her wine.

I gave her the finger. Alex's finger -chewed short grubby nails, and all. Then I looked down at the still sparkling toes attached to my buttery smooth feet and wondered.

.... to be continued



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