First and Nine

Terry and Holly met in college and have been married for over five years. They’re both huge Vikings’ fans, who love to bet with each other. Sometimes the loser wins.

First and Nine
by Angela Rasch

There are only two things I don’t like about Viking’s football. The season’s too short -- and. . . . I guess there’s only one thing. In fact, I adore football; just don’t ask me to play it. At my size I would get killed, but in the upper deck of the Metrodome, just short of the nosebleed section, I risked only spilled beers and lethal bratwurst breath from those packed in around me.

“You look great, Honey,” I said, leering at my wife’s purple “skort,” which measured less than nine inches from the white leather belt that sat on her hips, to the hem that barely covered -- well — it just covered everything it had to, to satisfy NFL standards.

Holly bravely wore an exact replica of a Minnesota Vikings’ Cheerleader’s outfit while enjoying the game with me in our season ticket seats. Three weeks earlier she had entered into a foolish bet with me that she had lost; and wearing the cheerleading uniform satisfied our wager.

She stood and shook her gold pom-pons in the general direction of the field, which caused her to also jiggle her booty in the face of the man who always sat right behind us. We knew him only as “Butch” — he with the spiked, purple hair. At that moment he sported a look of pure bliss upon his lecherous face.

“You’re being a great sport about this,” I said to Holly, acknowledging all the effort she had made to not only meet our stakes, but to embrace the spirit. “The whole nine yards. . .you went the whole nine yards.”

She sat down as the Vikings left for their locker-room having completed their warm-ups. The Vikings’ front office could have sold her seat twice, as she rarely occupied it, if anything happened on the field.

“What do you mean by ‘whole nine yards’?” she asked. She was the only person alive who concentrated that hard on me after she asked a question. Even waitresses treated me like a loathsome bother after they requested my order.

The top of Holly’s uniform left her midriff bare, so much more stomach showed than there was material covering her buns. Holly toned her body to the maximum it could be without developing “man muscles” -- as she called them.

Although I didn’t share her aversion for “man muscles,” I had the kind of body that never bulked up. I played racquetball three times a week and had four percent body fat, but no one would ever confuse me with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Where he had sculptured layers of might, I had a soft and sleek body; I even needed help opening pickle jars.

“ ‘The whole nine yards,’ ” I explained to the love of my life, “is a term that supposedly started back during the Vietnam War. Nine yards was the length of a machine gun ammunition belt. When someone goes the whole nine yards it means they let it all loose, like you did to fulfill the terms of our bet.”

“Is there any other way?” She stared at me as if striving with less than full effort couldn’t be possible -- Holly’s philosophy of life in a nutshell.

Ever since I had met her at a small liberal arts college called St. Olaf, she achieved every goal she set for herself. Her current salary as a VP at Bruner Marketing allowed us to live comfortably and save my entire paycheck. The full amount that is, except for the nearly $5,000 a year we dedicated to being avid Vikings fans. The cost of season tickets, memorabilia, once-a-year road trip to an out-of-town game, and game day jerseys that went out of style as quickly as greedy owners could either change the design or trade that player. At least the Vikings hadn’t changed their team colors to increase jersey sales, like some sports teams.

Somewhere along the line Holly must have set a goal to marry an average-looking guy with a much smaller than average body — because that was exactly what she got. She told me almost daily that she found me incredibly good-looking and sexy, but the world had its share of mirrors and dickhead salesmen in men’s clothing stores who loved to tell me I’m just too small to find a suit that would fit. Where other men had a firm square jaw, mine looked like an apple. While my male friends sported rugged mustaches and stylish facial-hair growth, I barely had to shave the fuzz that would show from time to time.

“Besides,” she continued, “dressing this way is no big deal, because I always wanted to be a MVC.”

Three weeks back I wouldn’t have known that “MVC” stood for Minnesota Vikings’ Cheerleader. After the Vikings’ coach had taken off his headset more than five times in four minutes, causing Holly to lose our bet three weeks back, Holly had actually hired a real MVC to show her the ropes.

Our bets usually covered spur-of-the-moment things; nothing you could spend any time analyzing. Would the kicker send the ball on the kickoff to the right or left side of the field? Would the next run from scrimmage gain more than four yards? Would the next offensive set have more than two players whose jersey number ended in zero?

Payoff as a rule meant the winner would put the loser through some mild torment; nothing too bad -- and always something the loser could possibly enjoy if they took it in the right spirit. We never set the stakes prior to the bet. We trusted each other enough to bet without really knowing what could await us. I had stepped over the line a little with making her dress in that skimpy outfit in public, but I knew she really, really didn’t mind.

Holly had spent six late nights working on actual cheers. I had seen pictures of her as a high school cheerleader. In one she was dressed in the green and white of the Edina Hornets. She looked better in purple -- everyone did.

She had borrowed an actual uniform from Allicia, her MVC squad member/coach, and then paid a seamstress to make a copy. Allicia had to obtain special permission to allow her uniform to be copied, which was granted once the MVC supervisor met Holly and took an instant liking to her.

You couldn’t help but love Holly. She looked better than any of the actual MVCs, but when I told her that she hit me lightly on the shoulder and told me not to be so silly. Sometimes I thought men liked her too much, but she assured me I had absolutely nothing to worry about. She said there was something about me that made her feel special . . . just to be with me.

We rarely argued about anything . . . except James Bradley Johnson. You couldn’t find a bigger Brad Johnson fan than me. He was one of the best quarterbacks in Vikings’ franchise history. A two-time pro-bowl player, he rated better in my book than Kramer, Culpepper, Tarkenton, Moon . . . any of them. When the Vikings traded him to the Redskins, I went in the dumper for months. The day we got him back had to go down as one of the happiest in my twenty-eight-year life.

Like all quarterbacks, he received too much blame when things went wrong. After one bitter loss, Holly bought an authentic Brad Johnson jersey, just so she could soak it in lighter fluid and burn it in our Weber grill.

“Could I have your autograph?” A boy wearing a Wayzata Middle School sweatshirt thrust a pen and a program at Holly. He obviously thought she was a real MVC.

“Sure,” Holly said. “What’s your name?” She then signed, “To Carl — the best-looking boy at the game - Holly.”

After he saw what she had written, he grinned and asked if she would pose for a picture with him, which she did as his father clicked his cell phone in our direction.

The Vikings came back out and Holly bounced up and down, waving her pom-pons, just like her “teammates” on the sidelines. The big screen showed her cheering efforts to everyone in the dome, which I’m sure made her day.

We won the toss and elected to receive. Our return guys had been turkeys all pre-season and this being only the fourth ‘real’ game of the year I sat on pins and needles until the whistle had blown the play dead. They had done okay, running the ball out to the thirty-one and not fumbling. Some years, “not-fumbling” is a good play.

Holly peered at me from behind her luscious eyes. She had done something with her make-up that made her eyes say, “Forget football — let’s go home and screw.”

“I’ll bet Johnson doesn’t complete his first pass,” she shouted to me, over the roar of an excited crowd.

A sucker’s bet. The Vikings’ brain trust would have used the entire week to map out the first several plays. If they didn’t score on any other possession, they were nearly a cinch to score the first time they had the ball. Before she could rethink her craziness I pounced.

“You’ve got a bet. He definitely will complete his first pass - definitely.” I had sounded a bit more like Rainman than I wanted to, but we had agreed on a bet.

She stuck out her hand and I uncrossed my fingers just long enough so we could shake on it. Along with everyone else in the stadium we showered encouragement on the Purple. Holly would never cheer against the Vikings; even if it meant losing a bet.

The first play was a draw. The back plowed through the line for three yards -- setting up a passing down. I would have liked for the Vikings to gain a few more yards so the defense wouldn’t be thinking pass, but it really didn’t matter. Brad would dink the ball to one of the running backs; and they would try to pick up five to seven yards -- maybe even a first down.

That’s exactly what they did . . . except Kleinsasser dropped it. Jimmy had looked so promising as a rookie out of the University of North Dakota, but injuries had gotten to him over the years. What once had been sure hands were now the cause of . . . a lost bet.

My stomach sunk, as Holly smirked. “Payback time,” she giggled.

An awful thought crossed my mind. “You wouldn’t make me wear your cheerleading outfit, would you?” My voice had a pitiful whine to it.

“No-o-o-o. Allicia would kill me if I betrayed her trust like that. No, I know exactly what I’m going to have you do. You’ll love it; you’ll just have to be yourself — Brad Johnson’s biggest fan. In fact, Honey, I have your costume already picked out for you and in a drawer at home.” She laughed in that special way that made me want to listen to what her made-up eyes had said to me earlier about going home and. . . .

I tried to smile, but couldn’t really do it. There had to be a catch -- and it would be something more than showing the world where my loyalty stood.

Brad completed the next seven passes in a row, almost as if to taunt me, before throwing a sixteen-yard completion for a touchdown. In my delirium over the team’s success I almost forgot the specter of “payback” that awaited me. . . . Almost.

***

“I suppose you want me to shave my arms and legs,” I said, glumly surveying the clothes she had spread out on our bed.” We had gone directly home after the game, and she immediately showed me my “costume.”

“Terry,” Holly replied, looking dismayed, “I won’t ask you to do anything you don’t want to do. If I’m asking too much, you just say so; and I’ll think of something else as payment for the bet.” Her mouth twisted into a delightful smirk. “You should have known better than betting on Brad-the-stiff.”

That hurt and at the same time ignited my competitive spirit,

I picked up the purple bra and matching panties with my fingertips. “Where did you ever find these?” My strained laughter sounded as bad as I felt. Holly’s drawer must have been perfumed, as they smelled of the jasmine and musk that she wore.

“I found everything online,” Holly said, “I’ve been planning this bet for weeks. Say, what does a Vikings’ fan and a sexy Victoria Secret bra have in common?”

I could come up with nothing.

She giggled. “They both support the team even though it's not always comfortable.”

I shook my head wondering about her sense of humor.

She laughed and gave me a quick hug. “Don’t worry so much. I would never force you to do anything.”

I nodded and felt determined to find a way to delight her.

All in all it could’ve been much worse. At the next home game, in three weeks, I was to wear women’s clothing: purple panties, white slacks, a white blouse, purple bra with some kind of inserts, and purple shoes with long heels. There were also silk stockings and some other under-things dripping with satin and lace and padded in strategic places.

I would also have to wear a Helga hat; a wig made of bright yellow yarn that formed two long braids -- tied off with purple bows and topped off by a Vikings’ warrior helmet. I had seen hundreds of women and a few men wear that same helmet and “hair” to games.

Holly’s smile faded for a moment as she watched my less-than-animated response to what she wanted me to do. Her disappointment with my lack of enthusiasm was plainly visible, although she didn’t voice it.

I didn’t want to be “that guy,” the one who let her down. “Holly, I want your help.”

She perked up, which told me I had found the right track.

“If I’m going to do this,” I said, “I want to do it right. I don’t want to be stumbling around in those heels like a drunk.” Although Holly and I loved to tailgate, we both kept close tabs on how much we drank, so as not to go overboard. “I want to look authentic.”

Her face exploded into a grin. “If you put on some lipstick, like you did for Halloween three years ago, when I went as Raggedy Andy and you were Raggedy Ann, that’ll work.”

That Halloween night had been fun. When I first saw the costumes in the store I thought they might win us a prize for originality if we reversed our roles, but I had been unprepared for how much fun it had been to wear a dress. Lots of people at the party hadn’t really known me; and it had been oddly exciting when they seemed to take me for a real girl; I suppose because of my diminutive size.

“No . . . I’m going to do ‘the whole nine yards.’ ” I raised my hand in a scout’s oath. “I promise I will do my best, to do my duty, to righteously pay off my bet.”

She screeched that wonderful screech she did when happiness overwhelmed her. “I knew you would be a good sport. I’ve got all the phone numbers and websites to help. This is going to work. You’ll have to take time off from work starting Monday. . . .”

She rattled on and on about things I could do and changes I would undergo over the next three weeks.

“Three weeks? I can’t take off three weeks.” I didn’t want to lose my job even though I hated writing copy for the anchor at Channel Eight. I had a goal of becoming an on-camera newsperson. I had sent tapes to dozens of stations and had been called in for interviews, but invariably they lost interest when they saw my small stature. In a way, it was a blessing I didn’t get those jobs. The effort it took to lower my voice to news anchor range would have torn my throat apart in weeks — peanut-sized and pipe-weak.

“You’ve got two weeks of vacation coming. We’ll do the things that won’t be so obvious the first week, so you can go to your job, but you really need to work at this fulltime the last two weeks before your day at the Dome as Brad’s biggest fan.”

I nodded. If I had to get down on my knees, I would persuade the station to allow me to schedule my vacation — to make Holly happy.

***

Three weeks later I was on the Metrodome plaza zigzagging my way through a rush of purple-clad fans. The Dome has eight gates, four on the top level and four on the bottom, they were spread around the building so that you entered the one that corresponded to your ticket. The teeming crowd seemed eager to get inside for a ‘braut’ and a beer before kickoff. They moved in all directions at once.

“I can’t believe how elegantly you’re walking in those heels,” Holly gushed, as we made our way around the WCCO-TV outdoor booth where two of their on-air personalities were doing a live remote. I would have loved to stop and talk. Even though they were our station’s competitors, everyone in the industry knew each other. I didn’t pause or even wave a hello, because I couldn’t be sure how they would react to the way I looked.

I had spent long hours practicing walking in heels in our basement. I had laughed at first when my “movement trainer” suggested I balance a book on my head, but I quickly learned how wonderfully it worked to help me keep my head up and my shoulders locked back in what she called the “neutral” position. Holly said my posture had become elegant.

Not that I looked all that “elegant.” In the sunlight my purple panties showed through the white nylon slacks. You could even make out the gold and white of the tiny Vikings’ emblems that decorated them. Of course, my purple bra likewise showed clearly through my blouse. People gawked and pointed at me, but the remarks I heard seemed supportive and sweet.

I stopped on a dime when a man who easily weighed three hundred pounds turned around right in front of me to yell to his friend. The XXXL man looked like a freak with his head painted half purple and half gold. He had shaved his dome and written “Go Vikes” across both sides. In the excitement of head shaving and painting, he had evidently forgotten to shower . . . for about a month. I daintily raised a hand to cover my mouth and nose; my elongated, purple nails glistened in the sun. The scent on my fingers from my Cashmere Mist body lotion masked his stench.

All my hard work seemed to have paid off. The first week after our bet, I had slaved away with a woman on Lake Street. Every evening between 5:30 and 7:00 she had schooled me on what she called “feminine movement” and the “how-to’s” of female walking, sitting, and standing. She drilled me continually on holding my hands correctly.

She made everything I had to do, to look like a woman, much easier and had done it in a very complimentary and positive way. By our fourth session she deemed me a natural; I no longer had to think about things, as I did them automatically. Fortunately I had been able to arrange for vacation; I would’ve looked foolish gliding around the office, after she schooled me.

“Nice bra,” the painted-head man said.

I smiled at him and arched my back slightly, which pointed my chest toward his chin. He responded with nervous laughter that showed I had dominated him with my femininity. When my instructors and Holly had first told me about controlling men strictly through my appearance I hadn’t believed them, but three hundred pounds of living purple and gold-stained buffoonery proved their point.

Not that my face hadn’t been painted. Each night from 8:00 to 10:00 I had endured private lessons in make-up application, in the backroom of a salon in Uptown. Actually, after the first week I wore make-up or crá¨me on my face all the time — night or day.

Although this was my first time out in public, I had been absolutely convinced from hours looking in the mirror and the still pictures and videos they had taken of me, that I looked every inch a woman -- that would be sixty-seven inches of woman -- three inches of heels and my own 5’4” frame.

We carried two large signs that Holly wanted me to proudly hold up during the game. One said “I love Brad Johnson” and the other said “Marry Me, Brad.” Holly had created the signs as something Brad’s biggest female fan would bring to a game; and I couldn’t argue with her as to their authenticity.

In the open air my Cashmere Mist perfume reeked of sophistication. Holly pronounced it a mixture of jasmine, musk, and sandalwood. I had worn it for two solid weeks and wondered anxiously how I would feel tomorrow at work without it.

I probably wouldn’t be able to get rid of all the scent from my body and would have some explaining to do. Add that to the long list of things I would have to defend, starting with my pierced ears. Holly found these “great” Vikings’ earrings that “would look darling with my outfit.” Then she “realized” that the hair on my body would show through both my slacks and my blouse, so that had to go. Of course, my eyebrows looked “just too shaggy” so she “fixed them” by plucking a thousand or so hairs from both sides.

In the end, she had decided to take two weeks off from her job so we could spend all my prep time together. We had done camping trips, ocean liner cruises, European tours, and other couple things, but two weeks of changing me to a FFF (female football fanatic) had been the most fun thing we had ever experienced together. Every night we made passionate love based in the knowledge that we appreciated how we went the whole nine yards for each other, and fired by the sexual tension from the day.

The woman at the Dome gate checked our purses for “terrorist stuff” and our sign for propriety.

“You do know Brad’s married?” She frowned at me after her rhetorical question.

I placed my hand on my hip, and than summoned all the attitude I could -- to speak in a sultry voice. “Honey, if that’s a problem, Brad’s not human.”

A voice coach had spent four full mornings convincing me that raising it half an octave was almost all the change needed. Surprisingly, she told me my vocabulary was already passive and perfect for a “sweet, sexy” female.

Once by the gate, we made our way through the rotating airlock doors and into the bowels of the Dome, through the inside doors, down the corridor, and then up twenty-seven rows to our seats in the upper deck.

At first the people around us didn’t recognize me. Two or three asked Holly how she had ever talked Terry into giving up his tickets to one of her girlfriends. Several of the guys offered to help me understand the game.

Finally the whacko sitting four seats over, who had a Vikings’ horn that he blew way too often, leaned over and whispered in my ear. “Terry, you should’ve been born a woman. Lost another bet, huh?”

I nodded and gave him a dazzling smile. He wilted under my feminine dominance and never said another word.

Somehow, even though we sat so far above the field, the big screen camera found me -- and my sign asking Brad to marry me. Holly had me hold it up about every five minutes and wiggle myself. Actually much of what I wiggled was padding, but the crowd didn’t seem to mind at all. I smiled at the girl on the big screen and she smiled back, which made me smile even broader, which she also did -- and so forth, until I looked positively delirious with joy. I wanted the girl on the screen; and she lusted for me.

Shortly after the kickoff I held up my other sign, the one that said, “I Love Brad Johnson.” The jumbo TV showed my again, so everyone in the dome could see me showing my sign to the people in back of us. When I turned around toward the camera my sign became clearly readable.

Unbeknownst to me, Holly had doctored the sign with a magic marker, after we had gotten into the building. She had added an apostrophe and an “s” to “Brad” -- so the sign read, “I love Brad’s Johnson.”

Of course, I had no idea what a spectacle I had become. I wriggled like I had been taught and shook my yellow-yarn wig so that my long braids danced around my large breasts. Holly picked that moment to complete her revenge for having to wear the cheerleader uniform. She had printed, “She’s My Husband” on the back of my other sign and held it up just after she pulled of my Helga wig. Then she grabbed me and gave me a deep and totally breath-taking kiss.

The crowd roared their surprise, and than laughed, although quite strangely.

A few minutes later two security guards made their way to our seats.

“We’re going to get tossed,” I whispered to Holly.

She grinned. “It was worth it.” She collected her things and told me to grab my purse and wig.

The people in our section booed the guards as they climbed the last few rows. When they got to us we had mentally prepared ourselves to be ejected.

“We have to confiscate that sign about Brad’s johnson,” one of the guards squeaked. He couldn’t have been much over eighteen, although his guns demonstrated he had spent a lot of time hitting the weights and probably had a close relationship with steroids. “Are you really a guy?”

I nodded. “Lost a bet.”

“Happens,” he commiserated.

“Look,” I said. “We won’t cause anymore trouble. Why don’t you just let us stay? You can have both signs, if you want.” I thought about dominating him, but had temporarily forgotten the secret code.

“Toss you out?” the other guard asked. “We didn’t come up here for that. Heck, some big shot down in one of the suites has invited you two to spend the rest of the game with him.”

“Let’s do it,” Holly chirped, and started down the aisle in almost a sprint. We had always wondered what those suites were like.

“Holly,” I called after her, “are you sure?”

She gave a shout from eight rows away -- loud enough to be heard by every guy within fifty feet. “Don’t get your panties in a bunch. It’ll be fun.”

As we walked down the stairs we could hear the kind of embarrassed whispering that occurs at the zoo when the animals are mating. Once I was out in the hall and moving toward the elevator behind Section 217 Holly helped me fix my wig back on my head, so that I “didn’t look so ridiculous.”

As the elevator dropped down from one level to the next, I checked my make-up and made some minor repairs. I decided the best way to maintain what little dignity I had left was to proceed as if nothing had happened.

I expected we would walk into a suite filled with inebriated corporate officers, looking to use me to add to their fun. If abuse started, Holly certainly wouldn’t object to us leaving.

Much to our surprise two men in pin-stripped suits were the only people in the suite.

“How are youse?” the man who answered the door asked. His head was the size of a basketball and his shoulders reached from one side of the doorway to the other.

“Cham - pahg - knee?” the second man offered; his gigantic hand wrapped around a chilled bottle with a Moet and Chandon label. A buffet had been laid out with a variety of deli meats, cheeses, and tiny croissants. “Don had to leave, but when he saw youse on the big screen, he knew right then he’d be most pleased to make your acquaintances.”

I glanced out at the field. I had never been that close to the action before, except for during a Twins’ game. I could actually see the faces of the players, almost. Our season tickets were much higher up and in the corner of the end zone. The suite’s window looked straight down at the fifty-yard line.

“When will ‘Don’ be back?” Holly asked. She had already grabbed a plate and was helping herself to smoked salmon.

“Probably not for the rest of the game,” Bighead explained. He held a welcoming hand out to me. “I’m Sal and that guy’s Tony.”

I placed my hand in his paw. He shook it gently, without the bone crushing I would have expected. My make-up and perfume had soothed another savage beast. He knew, but he didn’t “seem” to know, which was okay by me -- and apparently him.

“Let’s us enjoy the rest of this here game,” Tony said, pouring me a flute of bubbly and showing me to the most comfortable seats imaginable in a football stadium. “If’n Don doesn’t come back, we’ll just have to convince you twos to come back with us to meets him. He would be very unpleased if Sal and I didn’t make it so. Before he left he made that perfectly -- for certain.”

Holly whispered in my ear as soon as she had a chance, “These ‘twos’ aren’t the kind of people we should say ‘no’ to -- too much.”

I nodded.

***

The Vikings lost, putting the crowd in a foul mode. Nearly half of the sixty-four thousand fans had left the Dome before the middle of the fourth quarter shouting obscenities on the way out -- at “my” Brad.

When we finally left, we took the elevator to something like a basement where there was a limousine waiting. Sal opened the door for us, and then crawled in front with the driver. Tony sat with us and opened a bottle of chilled Dom Perignon.

“You’re really going to like Don,” he said, as he poured a glass for both Holly and me, “and he’s going to love one of you.”

“What do you mean by ‘one of us’?” Holly asked with some concern.

The limousine headed west out of Minneapolis. We had already gone by Highway 100. In another hour the sun would set.

Tony glanced around him, as if he expected to see someone running next to the limo recording what he said. “I can’t say too much as the boss doesn’t like it when I talk to youse about such tings, but unless I’m very mistaken one of youse two will be in the boss’s bed by the end of the evening.”

“What if we say ‘no’?” I asked.

“People don’t say ‘no’ to Don. I betters not say more. But, the deal is he never sleeps with more than one, so -- one of youse. . . . Would you like some of dis caviar? It’s especially good dis year -- doesn’t you think?”

I put my mouth next to Holly’s ear. “I think we were just warned and proxy-propositioned at the same time . . . an offer we can’t refuse.”

Holly dolefully nodded her head.

The next twenty minutes shot by; and we soon pulled into an eight-car garage tucked under a mansion on Lake Minnetonka. The grounds and the house probably would sell for somewhere in the area of fifteen million. During the trip I had nervously passed the time by fixing my make-up and fussing with my “hair.” Holly had mostly stared at the noise abatement fences that flanked the highway.

The driver jumped out of the limo and raced around to help us out of the back.

“Good evening,” a woman in a white nurse’s uniform and cap greeted us. “Would you please follow me?”

She led us into a room that appeared to be some sort of a private clinic or lab. Visions of an old horror movie rushed through my head.

“It’s the custom of the house to take a small sample of your blood,” she explained. “I know it’s an imposition, but would you two please be dears and make my job a bit less of purgatory on Earth?”

Neither Holly nor I had a needle phobia, so we looked at each other, shrugged, and rolled up our sleeves.

“Have a wonderful evening,” the nurse said, after she extracted a vial of blood from each of us and placed cotton balls and small band-aids over our tiny wounds.

Sal and Tony appeared out of nowhere, and then escorted us into a living room that was as big as the entire ground floor of our house. They didn’t do anything overtly rough, relying on their mammoth bodies to keep us from thinking about possible escape.

When “Don” walked into the room, Tony and Sal quickly said “goodbye” and then left. Don had spent considerable time in the sun perfecting his tan, and although a large man, seemed at ease with his surroundings — almost graceful. His goons had revealed Don was only about five years older than Holly and me, which surprised us, but then, we didn’t know a lot about age qualifications for his line of work.

“I’m pleased you two agreed to come to my house.”

Agreed?

“Have you eaten? I was about to ask the chef to make a sandwich. Could I have him make something special for you?” As he spoke, he went through the ritual of opening champagne, something he obviously had done many times before.

I spoke first. “I’m not really all that hungry, and since I have to work early tomorrow Holly and I should probably leave.” It seemed more comfortable to talk in my girlish voice, considering my appearance.

“I’ll have Thomas make a cheese and meat tray so there’ll be something to eat, if you change your mind.” He pressed a button on the bar and spoke into an intercom.

Obviously he really didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. Why would he want to force people to have sex with him? A man as incredibly handsome as him should have his pick of women.

“Where do you work, Terry?” Apparently his hired guns had called ahead with our names. He moved toward us with three glasses and indicated that we should sit on a large couch. Holly and I plopped down like dogs looking to earn a treat.

“Channel Eight’s newsroom,” I answered.

“Oh — don’t worry. I’ll call Harry in the morning; and he’ll make sure no one gets bent out of shape if you come in a little late — or if you don’t come in at all tomorrow.”

Harry was my supervisor’s boss. He answered only to the chairmen of the board.

Don smiled a mouthful of the whitest teeth I had ever seen. Aside from being a gangster he was one sexy man.

I squirmed and pursed my lips.

“And you, Holly?” He asked as he poured a glass of champagne and handed it to her with simple style that I found almost shockingly adroit.

“I’m an account exec at Bruner Marketing.”

“I’ll also call Gayle -- she owes me a favor. There, that’s all settled.”

Gayle Sloan was the owner/manager of Bruner Marketing. Who did Don kill for Gayle, so that she owes him a favor? Does Don know everyone in the Twin Cities?

He pulled a phone from his pocket and cautiously punched a number. They needed to make phones larger for men like him. “Antoine, please cancel all of my appointments for tomorrow morning. . . . The governor . . . ? You tell Tim I’ll meet him on Thursday for our regular luncheon. If it’s so important that he can’t wait until then, I’ll work him in tomorrow evening.”

“Work in” the governor? I felt naíve. Who would have thought our charming young governor had hooked-up with the mob?

“Now that we’ve cleared our calendars,” Don said, “let’s have some fun.” He poured a glass for me -- and one for himself, and then sat next to me on the couch. Unlike most men he understood the subtle nature of cologne. An appealing scent came off him.

“Do you mind if I touch your chin?” he asked.

I shook my head, and he then gently placed the tip of his right index finger under my chin -- turning my face from side to side. “Exquisite. You have excellent bone structure. You could be a top runway model.”

I scoffed. “Didn’t your two employees tell you I’m a man?”

“I was at the game when your wife pulled off your wig. I mean it — you could be quite beautiful, if you wanted to be. You’re already as pretty as most of the local models.”

“I tried to tell him that,” Holly said with some pride, “but he won’t believe me.”

The nurse appeared; Don rose and took three pieces of paper from her. She smiled at us, but didn’t say a word, and then quickly departed.

“I’m sorry to have put you through a blood test,” Don said. “I apologize, but I long ago prioritized safety over good manners on that issue. I also had my blood checked tonight.” He studied the papers. “I have good news for both of you. All three tests indicate we are free of sexually transmitted diseases. Unfortunately, Holly -- it appears you could use more iron in your diet. Otherwise, we are all pictures of health. Salut!” He raised his champagne glass to us while offering the test results for our review. Holly took the papers and glanced through them.

Omigosh! The blood tests screened us as sexual partners! Tony said Don would pick one of us. I can’t allow him to select Holly.

When Don sat down I slid in tight next to him, determined to be as seductive as needed. Can I possibly compete with Holly? Even though the odds are stacked against me, I have to try. What I will do when we get to his bedroom is anyone’s guess. I have no idea how to have sex with another man!

Holly looked at me with some surprise, but I begged her with a raised eyebrow and hooded eyes to go along with whatever I did. I didn’t want the two of us sleeping with the largemouth bass at the bottom of Lake Minnetonka.

For the next thirty minutes Don entertained us with conversation about the history of his home. It had belonged to a family who had owned one of the large St. Paul breweries. Built in 1890, it was one of the oldest dwellings in the area. Most of the house had been imported from Europe -- actually everything but the wood, which had been logged in northern Minnesota. Even the stones in the massive fireplace at the far side of the living room had come from Germany.

As Don spoke I used my free hand to lightly caress his arm, leg, and shoulders. Everything felt like steel -- something I didn’t want Holly to have to touch. Not once did I pass on his invitation for more champagne. I wanted to be uninhibited when the time came to. . . . I even went so far as lean toward him and kiss him tenderly on the cheek to thank him for a cracker covered with brie he had prepared for me.

Don responded by smiling broadly, and then reached into his jacket pocket for his phone. “Ceila, would you please come into the living room.”

Moments later a beautiful, brown-haired woman arrived dressed in a maid’s grey dress. Her demeanor was friendly and Don treated her with deep respect as he had all of the people who worked for him that we had seen.

“Ceila — please take Terry into the master suite and show her where everything is.”

Holly looked at me with wide eyes, but I again cautioned her with an upraised eyebrow.

“When you’re through helping Terry,” he continued, “please bring a pillow and blanket for Holly. She’ll probably want to nap in front of the fire.”

Don had just told Ceila to prepare me for his bed and to make my wife as comfortable as possible while she waited in another room, but he had done it with such old world charm that neither Holly nor I knew what to say. I suppose his behavior passed for manners in some obscure part of the universe.

Ceila guided me through a maze of halls to a massive bedroom equipped with another wall-to-ceiling fireplace. Of course, a fire had been lit and its warmth and glow already made the room quite inviting.

“We’ll have to start in the bathroom,” Ceila said. “The master is very strict about such things.” She led me to a bathroom, which was as large as a normal living room. “Please take off all your clothes, ma’am.”

“I’m a man, Ceila,” I said, almost not believing myself.

“Very good, sir,” Ceila said, registering no shock. “Please take off all your clothes so I can help you with your toilet.”

I hadn’t been help with “my toilet” for over twenty-five years, but then I also hadn’t been asked during those years to undergo a water enema. Ceila put something in the water that smelled floral which helped me relax. She worked in such a professional way as to save me more humiliation than absolutely necessary.

After finishing, Ceila turned on the shower for me and gave me a body-wash to use. When I was scrubbed sufficiently, she dried me with a large fluffy towel. She then powdered my body with a perfume I couldn’t identify and helped me into a pink silk gown and something that matched, which she called a peignoir. She sprayed me with a similar scented perfume she identified as “Marie Antoinette,” which she said had been designed to recreate what the real Marie Antoinette had worn.

She helped me restore my face; chatted about the weather, and mentioned how the Vikings had lost another game, which seemed like something that had happened long ago and far away, in another land. I did my very best to detach myself from the here and now in order to abide the inevitable. Once or twice I allowed myself to speculate how brutal the rape would be, but shoved my mind to visions of much happier days with Holly. I thought about our last trip to the shores of Lake Superior until Celia’s voice grabbed me out of my trance.

“He will be in, in a moment.” Celia turned back the cover on the bed, and then led me to a small loveseat not too far from the fireplace and gave me a small mint. “He’s in a guest bedroom now, taking a shower. The man loves cleanliness.”

“Ahem!”

I turned and saw Don standing not to far from us in a white terry cloth robe. His hair was damp and his skin pink from what must have been a warm to hot shower in another room.

“I love beautiful women much more than I love cleanliness,” he said, “and you two lovely ladies are a wondrous sight.”

Ceila blushed and backed out of the room leaving me with a warm face. Despite my situation his compliment had hit home. Ohhhh! How on Earth will I tolerate the next thirty or so minutes? He’s not going to take “no” for an answer and is really going to do it to me.

“You look much prettier without that silly wig,” he remarked.

Ceila had done what she could with my hair to make it look stylish. As it was only three to four inches long, at the most, she hadn’t had much to work with. Damn her. I should’ve had her blacken my teeth and give me bedhead. No. Better me than Holly. I smiled at Don as lovingly as I could.

He came to where I sat and lightly stroked the back of my neck with his hand. “You’re very tense.” He took me by my fingertips and drew me toward the bed. “Let’s see if we can’t do something to help you relax.”

I doubt there’s anything he wants to do that will “relax” me.

He pulled back the covers, and then gently lifted me onto the bed. He used so little exertion that I felt almost weightless in his arms. Although his display of strength confirmed I had no defense against his attack, it also made me feel vulnerable in a sexy way.

He popped open a drawer in his nightstand and took out a bottle of what proved to be body lotion. After warming it in his hands, he proceeded for the next half hour to massage my entire body. Initially I felt repulsed by his sensual touching, but as he went on I allowed the pleasure from his comforting touch and soft conversation to flow through me. Despite myself, I moaned with ecstasy several times. He spoke of tropical islands he had visited, nights around the campfire as a boy at his grandfather’s cabin, and learning to map the stars with his mother.

The lights had somehow been turned down so that we were illuminated only by the glow from the fire. His face looked even more handsome in tones of orange and red. His touch felt more like a lilac hue, or maybe a pink, or plum.

The massage ended with me facing him as he loosened the muscles at the base of my neck. When he finally took me into his arms and kissed me, it seemed perfectly acceptable — and quite nice. He tasted a bit like caramel and the velvet of his mouth contrasted sweetly with the rock hard muscles on his back. My mind told me that I was only going along with him to prevent him doing much the same to Holly, but my body knew otherwise.

I responded to his kisses with passion and desire. My body cried out for him, with curiosity and faith that he would find a way to fulfill a lust I had just acknowledged.

I felt his hardness against my thigh as I rolled into him. It throbbed; and I jumped a bit knowing exactly what his body had just “said.” I giggled with delight at the thought of being able to arouse him to such a rigid state.

Yet. . . .The thought of kissing his penis seemed too foreign to consider. Other than stroking his body and urging him on with moans and kisses, I vowed to be a passive partner to our lovemaking.

He entered me with a tenderness that left me breathless. After a few initial anxious moments I marveled at the degree of pure delight to be had through anal sex. My passiveness vanished as I met his thrusts with a need that seemingly could not be stifled.

We each came several times. Between each love chapter he led me into his shower where we cleansed one another and nibbled on each other’s chests. My eyes could barely move from his, as I spun round and round unable to fully grasp all the wonderment he represented.

Each time we emerged from the shower, the bed had magically been freshened with another set of immaculate linen, and we were greeted by clean nightwear. Mine was always wonderfully designed to heighten my femininity. At that moment my femininity registered off any known scale. Upon entering the bed with him for the fourth time, thoughts of satisfying him with oral sex had changed from taboo to become instinctive and part of our loving relationship.

“You’re fantastic,” he whispered, twenty minutes later as we showered once again.

“And you,” I gushed reaching for the sixth large, fluffy towel I had used that evening.

The bed had been made again, but this time it had not been turned down. A complete set of women’s clothing had been set out upon it. The first signs of dawn crept into the bedroom as I picked up my new clothes and headed for the bathroom.

The dress wrapped around me in gray paisley with a self-tie in front. It’s three-quarter length sleeves and hemline that dropped to just below my knee spoke of a young professional on her way to an office in one of the downtown towers. The only thing I didn’t find absolutely scrumptious were the pantyhose . . . I preferred stockings.

He, or one of his employees, had thoughtfully supplied an ivory, canvas hobo bag to accessorize the dress and matching Charlize strappy-shoes with heels that looked longer than three inches.

Someone had placed a jeweler’s box on the bathroom counter, with diamond earrings in it that had to go at least three carats. The card said, “Please enjoy. Don.”

Everything fit fantastically, including the earrings. After I ran a brush through my hair and applied a new face, a woman who might be a young attorney looked back at me. I smiled at her, pleased with what I saw. I wanted to look my absolute best when he last saw me, so I would see him again.

I emerged from the bathroom thinking nothing but huge positive thoughts about everything.

“Come sit with me a minute,” Don said, and then padded the cushion of the loveseat where he had been staring into the fire. He had added several logs and dressed in a denim shirt, tan corduroy sports jacket, and jeans. His shoes were the kind I loved to see on my men, I decided.

“Are you happy with your job?” Don asked, as I eagerly found a spot under his arm where I could snuggle.

I shook my head, as I enjoyed the warmth from his marvelous body.

“Why don’t you quit and come to work for me?” he asked.

“I don’t know anything about your kind of business,” I said, although the idea of being his kept woman held appeal. “I don’t even own a gun.”

“A gun,” he laughed. “What in the world does owning a gun have to do with making frozen dinners?”

Frozen dinners? Of course. . . . He’s that “Don.” The owner of “Don’s” Instant Gourmet Meals, the fastest growing frozen food manufacturer in the U.S.

He laughed. “Were Ted and Simon playing ‘Sal and Tony’ again? I should have known when they came to the Dome in pin-stripes that they were up to their old games. I’m sorry if they led you to think we’re part of the mob. The truth is, those two would probably faint if they had to fire a weapon. They’re both in-house attorneys for my companies. Those guys can really be funny with their phony ‘wise-guy’ accents.”

I laughed, feeling even better about Don.

“Terry, would you mind very much if I used a different name in addressing you. Ever since I first saw you I’ve thought you should be called Melissa.”

Melissa? “Mmmmmm,” I purred. “If I allow you to call me ‘Melissa,’ a name I love, will I see you again?”

“That’s entirely up to you. You fascinate me, but I need to be honest. For the last ten years I’ve pursued what some people might think is a strange hobby. It started on my twenty-fifth birthday. I had just taken my business public and had acquired more money than what I could ever spend. A business friend of mine noticed my boredom and took me to an exotic nightclub in Atlanta. Ever since then I’ve been attracted to girls like you.”

“I noticed your . . . attraction.” I squirmed and felt a pleasant soreness that reminded me of our sex.

“If you’re interested, Melissa, I will help you perfect your presentation through training and surgery. The extent of that surgery would be entirely up to you. All I ask is that you keep an open mind toward a long relationship with me and submit to frequent blood tests so that I run no risk of STDs. In return, I will give you copies of my blood test results. Every time you’re tested -- I will be tested as well.”

I pushed into him, longing to return to our bed. My breathing had stopped when he first called me Melissa. I had to think straight to reply to him. His eyes wanted my attention and my honest answers. “I’m afraid I’ll have a hard time keeping my job. I’m not sure I could pretend to be masculine, ever again.”

“And you shouldn’t have to try. I can find a place for you within one of my companies. I’ll pay you $10,000 a month for as long as you want to work for me. In addition, you will receive a platinum credit card to buy and maintain everything you will need to dress appropriately.”

“You don’t know me. Why would you offer me a job?”

“I. . .ah. Celia is quite good with computers. She hacked into Channel Eight’s personnel records last night. They think very highly of you. I’m always looking for people with communication skills.”

Channel Eight had given me good job performance reviews, but I would always be in a backroom someplace with them and not actually doing the news on the air. “Would I have access to your Vikings’ suite?”

“Absolutely. In fact, one of my companies manages investment funds for professional athletes. Brad Johnson is one of our clients. I regularly throw parties for the team that you could help host.”

Actually meet the Vikings? Brad Johnson! I surreptitiously pinched myself. “What kind of surgery would I have to have?” I crossed my legs at the ankle and pressed my knees tightly together, to protect those organs I wasn’t sure I wanted to lose.

Don kissed my forehead, and then brushed both of my eyelids with his lips. “Everything will be your call. I find you wonderfully attractive as you are, so anything you decide will be of your volition. Part of my fun will be watching you blossom. Several of your predecessors have become raving beauties.”

“Are they call-girls? Or, are they dedicated to you?”

“Mmmmm — call-girls? I don’t think a U.S. Senator would like it if you called her a call girl.”

I stammered. “S-s-senator? Do you mean to say Senator Willmar is . . . was. . . ?”

“I didn’t say which Senator, and I won’t. Your identity will be protected -- allowing you to lead whatever life you select.”

“I’ve always wanted to be an anchorperson,” I wistfully announced, “but the station managers all think I’m too small.”

“You’re perfect. I’ve never developed an anchor before, but I can assure you that one of the local on-air meteorologists is one of my girls.”

My mind raced. My favorite weather person had been through extensive plastic surgery, even after she started on air. “How can I say ‘no’?”

“You think about it. I’ll have a limo take you home and will send over an outfit for dinner tonight at Manny’s. If you decide to accept, I’ll meet you at the bar in the restaurant at seven. If you’re not there, I’ll have a double porterhouse and a bottle of wine to drown my sorrows.”

I smiled. I would have to talk it over with Holly, but. . . . Omigosh, Holly???? How could’ve I forgotten her so easily. I had violated our wedding vows and was considering an ongoing relationship that would certainly put an end to our marriage. My heart ached. “I need to see Holly . . . now,” I said awkwardly, as I stood.

Holly was sleeping when we entered the living room. Ceila came in through another door, pushing a cart loaded with breakfast, which I wanted to attack. How can I think of eating when I had. . . ?

As Holly woke, her eyes took in the scene in front of her. Her face seemed to run from anger to fear -- to a look of complete puzzlement. “New dress?” she asked with a hint of judgment in her voice.

“Uh, we need to talk.”

She gathered her things, barely looking toward Don. He smiled, staying several yards back from Holly. I admired him for allowing me to take the lead with her.

Admired? Hell -- I was head over heels in love. In love with my newfound femininity, in love with the idea of finally becoming an anchorperson, and in love with everything I knew about Don, including his ability to make me delirious in bed.

But . . . I was more in love with Holly.

“Let’s talk when we get home,” Holly suggested.

At the door he helped me into a white moleskin coat, which was another gift, and then stuck a small box in my purse. Don wisely shook my hand as we left, although my desire to kiss him was probably all over my face for Holly to see.

With just the two of us in the back of the limo Holly turned to me. “What’s in the box? Nice earrings by the way.”

My heart sunk. It was what she wasn’t saying that hurt the most.

I opened the box and found a bottle of Marie Antoinette perfume. A small card was attached:

Melissa - According to legend, when the French royal family tried to flee France disguised as commoners at the height of the French Revolution (in 1791), they were betrayed by Marie Antoinette's perfume. As she emerged from their carriage at Varennes, her heavenly Houbigant fragrance revealed her to be no ordinary citoyenne. Much love to my sweet Melissa. — Don

He had added his phone number at the bottom.

I dabbed a little of the perfume on my wrist and held it for her to sniff.

“Wow.” She shook her head. “That little bottle cost Don about $500.”

“No!”

“Absolutely. They found an ancient formula for the perfume Marie Antoinette wore and have gone through extensive research to duplicate the exact fragrance. They sell a larger bottle for over $3,000 dollars.” Holly fell silent again. Her words had sounded choked; and a tear had escaped from the corner of her eye and slid slowly across her face toward the floor.

When we were safely inside our home, the fatigue and stress caught up to me. I saw myself in the mirror by the door. I loved how I looked. I loved how I had felt in Don’s arms, but moreover I loved Holly and wanted to be with her for the rest of my life. Why does life have to be so terribly unfair?

Before I knew it I had dissolved into a puddle on our couch. Holly joined me in a similar state. For more than five minutes . . . maybe an hour . . . we held each other and rocked while tears poured out. I couldn’t talk and assumed Holly felt the same way.

“I’m not a man anymore!” I finally wailed. For some reason Holly’s hold on me tightened -- she was making every effort to console me.

She spoke softly but firmly in my ear. “It wasn’t your fault. I know you were trying to protect me.”

“But. . . .”

“Really, it wasn’t your fault. I’m proud of you doing what you did.”

I shook my head. For a second, a path of dishonesty seemed the most expedient way out of my troubles. I pulled back an arm’s-length from her and fixed my eyes on hers.

“But . . . I made love to him.”

“It’s not lovemaking when you feel you have no choice in the matter, Terry. That’s rape.”

I sniffed one last time and collected myself to face the music. “It wasn’t rape.”

Holly’s eyes closed, as she bit her lip.

I continued. “At first I thought it would be, but he was so. . . . In the end I wanted him as much as he wanted me.”

“I’m disappointed,” Holly stated. “I wanted to be the one to introduce you to your true sexuality.”

“No -- I love you.” My emotions rose again; and I fought back a new wave of tears. I told her of Don’s offer and how I could have everything. I told her how everything would be nothing, without her. “I’ll call him and let him know he shouldn’t send over any clothing. If you will have me back, I promise you I’ll never ever stray again.”

She spoke softly and without rancor. “Are you really and truly Melissa?”

There was no doubt about how I felt. I nodded.

“Melissa,” Holly said, “you and I have never exchanged vows. I’m married to Terry and I’m quite sure you can never be Terry again.”

“But. . . .”

She placed a finger over my mouth. “I knew that Terry would fade away before I made the bet with you. I saw how you’d acted that Halloween a few years ago. You’re as feminine as I am, maybe more so. I’ve always loved that about you. I didn’t know your name before today, but I love you, Melissa . . . maybe even more than I had loved Terry.”

“I love you. . . .”

Her finger came to my lips again, silencing me. She took my hand and pulled me to our bedroom. On the bed was a negligee that I had never before seen.

“If you love me, Melissa, change into that negligee and be ready for me in bed.” She turned away and walked to the bathroom that was off our bedroom.

In a split second I had removed every stitch of clothing, donned the nightie, and gotten into our bed under the covers. I closed my eyes and wished with all my heart that Holly could forgive me. I would find a new job outside the news industry and forget about my unachievable dream. Maybe I would go into sales.

My eyes were still closed when Holly crawled in next to me. She put an arm around my shoulder and nestled me into her chest. Something hard pressed against my thigh as I turned into her.

“It’s a penis,” Holly explained, referring to what had to be a dildo. “You have your fantasies; and I have mine. I’ve always wanted to make love to you this way and have never known quite how to tell you.”

I forgot all about my fatigue, as Holly proved to be Don’s equal in bringing me to new heights.

“You’re going to be a lovely anchor,” Holly said as we spooned later, finally satiated. She had screeched several times during the past two hours.

“Huh?”

“You would be a fool to turn down Don’s offer, and I would be a bigger fool to stand in your way. Don will just have to share you.”

“But. . . ?”

“And, if you decide to go all the way with the surgery, I’ll just have to learn other ways to show you how much I love you.”

“Why. . .? Why have you forgiven me?”

Holly dragged a manicured finger across my chest. “The first thing we’ll have Don pay for is breast augmentation. I’ve often dreamed of you with lovely breast. You see Melissa -- I’d seen you on campus at college at least a half dozen times before we first spoke. Then I found out you weren’t a girl. By then it was too late, I was already in love.”

“But I am. . . .”

“Of course you are, darling. If it hadn’t been Don, something else would have come along to force the issue. When you went into the bedroom with him, I knew you would come out as the girl I loved. I was just scared I might lose you entirely in the process.”

“Never.”

“Never.”

***

“An Alberta clipper will travel across the state on Friday leaving behind three to four inches of snow and below-zero temperatures. Back to you, Melissa.”

“Thank you, Betty.” We signed off with our standard patter, and then I joined Betty on her set.

My final surgery had been more successful than I could have hoped. Holly took great delight in helping me explore the wonders of my new bodily features.

In a few hours, I would be celebrating five years as a close personal friend of Don’s -- and he had flown in all of his other “friends” for a private party at his lake home.

Although Don and I hadn’t had sex for nearly three years, I often dined with him either at his home, or at one of the downtown restaurants.

Holly and Don had become good friends, not “friend” friends, but close. The two of them had hit it off almost immediately when they had worked with a realtor to find Holly and me a new neighborhood, so I wouldn’t have to explain my change.

“I’ll see you at Don’s at seven,” I said to Betty.

She smiled. “I suppose I’d better be there. Don isn’t someone you should ever say ‘no’ to.”

The End

Thank you to Jenny Walker who helped me with the pace.

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