A Summer Afternoon

A Summer Afternoon

by Melanie Brown

Copyright  © 2014 Melanie Brown

Rob just expected a day of playing dress-up.

“I’m almost finished,” said Toni as she swished her make-up brush across my face.

“Thanks for doing this for me,” I said sincerely. “There’s no way I could keep these jars of make-up and brushes at my house. Dad would eventually find them for sure.”

Toni set her brush down, leaned back in her chair and created a frame with her hands by putting her thumbs together to form a box. She looked at me through that and grinned. “You look picture perfect, Rob as usual. Just gorgeous!”

I grinned and said, “Thanks. I love coming over here and dressing up. I wish I could do this at home.”

“I don’t,” said Toni with a pout.

“Why not?” I asked.

“Then you wouldn’t come over here anymore,” she said seriously.

I laughed and said, “Of course I’d come here! But you could also come to my house.”

“Well, it’s just too bad you can’t dress like a girl all the time. It really suits you,” said Toni.

“Thanks,” I said. “It does feel normal to me. My dad would literally kill me if he saw me right now.”

Toni smirked and said, “Really? He’d “literally” kill you?”

With a worried expression I said, “Yes! I do mean literally. Mom really wants a daughter, but she got stuck with two sons. And that’s all since she almost died giving birth to me. But I’ve heard Dad actually say to Mom how disappointed in me he is since I don’t go out for sports and crap like my big brother.”

Toni said, “Well, you should talk to her when your parents get back from their trip. It’d be a shame if you let yourself develop into a man.” It was July and my parents and my brother took a trip to Florida to visit some relatives. I asked if I could just stay home. Since Dad doesn’t really like me much, it was a pretty easy yes from him.

I looked at the floor and said, “Maybe I will. Anyway, thanks for letting me borrow your clothes. I love this skirt.”

Toni dismissed my comment with a small wave of her hand. She said, “It’s just a denim skirt. Nothing really special about it. Tell you what. It’s yours. You can keep it.”

Grinning, I said, “Serious? Oh wow. Thank you so much!”

Toni said, “You should come with me sometime when I go to the mall to do some shopping. You’d enjoy it. We could…” Her voice trailed away and she suddenly looked embarrassed. She said, “I forgot! I asked Cameron to take me to the mall today this morning before lunch. He’ll be here any minute!”

I jumped up and shouted, “You did what? Oh my God! He can’t see me like this! I need to go home.”

Toni looked indignant as she said, “Well, it’s not like I did it on purpose! Besides, I bet he won’t mind. Don’t you have a crush on him?”

My eyes flashed as I said, “Yes! I do. But now he’s going to hate me!”

Frowning, Toni said, “He’s not going to hate you. But if you never talk to him, if he never sees the real you how are you ever going to go out with him?”

I gathered up my clothes in my arms to take them back home. I said, “He’s not going to date me anyway. He’s very straight. I gotta go.” Holding my boy clothes in my arms, I ran out of Toni’s room and headed for the door.

I flung open the door and ran through it and ran right into Cameron as he was about to ring the doorbell, knocking him backwards to the ground. I dropped my clothes and almost fell myself. I didn’t know whether to pick up my clothes and keep running, help Cameron back up, or just run and hide.

I picked up my pants and held it in front of me as if to hide and looked at Cameron as he started to stand up. I said, “I am so sorry! I didn’t see you there. Are you okay?”

Using both hands, Cameron patted off some dirt from the back of his pants. He just grinned at me and said, “I’m okay. Girls throw themselves at me all the time, just not quite so hard.”

Toni stood in the doorway laughing.

I don’t know how many shades of red my face turned as I stood there mortified. I have a huge crush on Cameron, and here I’ve knocked him down and now he’s seen me dressed as a girl. I said, “I’m really sorry, Cameron. I didn’t mean to knock you down.”

He smiled at me and said, “It’s no problem, really. Nothing broken.” He looked at me for a moment and said, “Don’t I know you?”

“We’ve never met!” I said quickly. “This is the first time I’ve seen you.”

He grinned and said, “You just said my name.”

I just stood there, trying desperately to make myself tiny and it wasn’t working. Cameron stared at me for a few moments. He looked surprised when he apparently recognized me.

“I do know you!” exclaimed Cameron. “You’re that chick at school who dresses as a boy all the time. You’re always hanging out with Toni.”

Still laughing, Toni said, “She dresses as a boy because she is one.”

Horrified, I said, “Toni, no!”

Looking confused, Cameron said, “You’re not a girl? You mean I’ve held doors and helped you pick up your books that time you were bumped and dropped them and you’re not a girl? I’ve always thought you were a girl. And you sure look like a girl now!”

Now Toni looked puzzled. She said, “You’ve thought Rob was a girl all this time?”

Looking annoyed at apparently being fooled, even though I never presented myself as a girl at school, Cameron said, “Well yeah. I mean, I’ve never really talked to her and even when I picked up her books, she gave me such a sweet smile and the way she said ‘thank you’, she just came across as a girl. I mean ‘he’, not ‘she’.” He backed a step or two from me.

Folding her arms, Toni said, “Now Cameron, we’ve been friends for a very long time. I’m going to trust that you’re not going to tell anyone about Rob. She’s my BFF. I mean really. And if word got out, it’d ruin her life.”

Shaking his head, Cameron said, “Naw, I won’t say anything.” Looking at me, he laughed and said, “You’re the prettiest boy I’ve ever seen.”

Embarrassed that the boy I think is just the cutest just told me I’m pretty, I said, “Thank you!”

Cameron gave me an odd look, but turned to Toni and said, “Do you still want me to take you up to the mall?”

“Sure! Let me get my purse,” said Toni. As she started to turn to go back into the house, she stopped and turned back to me and said, “Why don’t you come with us?”

Horrified again at the idea of riding to the mall in public, I said, “I’d love to, but I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

Toni looked frustrated as she said, “Oh, come on! It’ll be fun. Who’s going to know?”

Cameron said, “Honestly? Nobody’s going to be able to tell you’re not a chick. You fooled me and I consider myself an expert on chicks.” True enough. All the girls love Cameron. He’s not the football team captain, or a track star. In fact, he’s in the choir. But he’s just so gorgeous!

I said, “Okay. It’s against my better judgment though.” I had to admit, going to the mall as a girl was both extremely embarrassing and extremely exciting. I’ve wanted to go out in public, but just never had the guts.

Toni smiled and said, “Great! You ride shotgun, Rob. I’ll hop in the back.” By letting me sit next to Cameron, it’s obvious that Toni is trying to bring us together. But what’s the point? It’s not like I can date him.

As we climbed into Cameron’s car, Toni said, “Rob. We can’t keep calling you ‘Rob’ if you’re going to be a girl. Did you ever decide on a girl’s name? I know there were several you were considering.”

I said, “Zoe. For some reason that just seems to click with me.”

“Cool,” said Toni as she settled into the back seat. “From now on, I’ll refer to you as Zoe whether you’re dressed as a girl or not.”

Cameron hit the gas and we were on our way to the mall. Depending on traffic, it would be a less than ten minute ride. On the way there, I kept stealing glances over at Cameron. This was the longest I’ve been in close proximity to him. He looked over at me one of the times I was staring at him. I gave him an embarrassed smile and looked away, but not before I noticed that he grinned at me. I’d give anything to know what he was thinking at that moment!

Instead of parking, Cameron brought his car along the curb at the mall entrance. He said, “Okay, ladies. Here’s the mall. I’m guessing you’ll be here all day, so I’m going to head over to the arcade.”

From the back seat, Toni said, “Wait just a second. My mom is texting me. Oh well. It looks like the plans have changed. My mom just took the afternoon off from work. She’s meeting me here at the food court for lunch in about ten minutes. Sorry Zoe. It looks like you’re on your own this afternoon.”

Toni got out of the car and closed the door. She turned back to the car and indicated I should roll down my window. She said, “You know, it’s lunch time. You guys should try that new burger place over on Ranch Road. We went there last night and it was great.” Before she turned to head to the mall, she winked at me.

That’s when it hit me that Toni’s mom didn’t just text her about taking the afternoon off. She lied so Cameron and I could be alone together! I couldn’t believe it! One part of me loved the idea; the sane part of me thought it was crazy. I mean, Cameron was much more likely to take me home.

Cameron was looking at his phone. He said, “Speaking of texts. Some friends are meeting at Gordo’s Taco Emporium for lunch. Do you want to come along? It’s just across the street. Or I can just take you home.”

Feeling faint that he just asked if I wanted to come with him, I said, “I…I’d love to, Cameron. But I didn’t bring any money.”

Cameron looked at me funny and said, “You came to the mall to go shopping with Toni and you didn’t bring any money?”

Feeling defensive, I said, “I wasn’t expecting to go to the mall today. I thought Toni and I were just going to spend the afternoon looking at cute celebrities in the new magazines she got in the mail.”

Cameron just grinned and shook his head. He said, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll get it, if you want to come along.”

Oh my God! It’d be like going on a date. With Cameron! I think I’m going to just die!

I said, “Thanks. That’s very nice of you to offer. But is it okay? I don’t know how your friends will react to me. You’re not embarrassed to be seen with me?”

Cameron laughed. He said, “I’m never embarrassed to be seen with a pretty girl. And that’s what you look like. You even sound like a chick. It’s not like I’m taking you out on a date or anything.”

I knew it was a crazy thing to do. Going to lunch with Cameron and his friends was insane. The audacity of spending at least another hour with Cameron while dressed as a girl! I’d kick myself for the rest of my life if I passed this up. I never do anything more daring than going to Toni’s house so she can dress me up.

I smiled and said, “If you don’t mind me being with you, I’d love to go.”

Grinning at me, Cameron said, “Why would I mind? You’re not a perv are you? You’re not going to announce you’re really a guy are you?”

I felt my face turned red and I said, “Oh! I’d never do that! For your sake as well as mine. And no, I’m not a perv.” My dad would disagree.

“Let’s go then,” said Cameron as he pulled away from the mall entrance.

Gordo’s was quite literally just across the street. In less than two minutes after leaving the mall, Cameron was navigating his car into a parking space.

Glancing over at me as he turned the ignition off, Cameron said, “You look nervous. Don’t worry. My friends are cool.”

Looking at the car’s floorboard I said, “This is just suddenly so very public. I feel like I have ‘I’m a boy’ tattooed on my forehead.”

Cameron leaned over and took a long look at my face. He said, “Nope. I can’t see that tattoo anywhere. Relax Zoe. Just keep being that sweet girl and you’ll be fine. But I can take you home if you want.”

I shook my head and said, “No, no. I’ll be okay.” I took a few deep breaths. And then we got out his car.

As we entered Gordo’s we saw a group of kids sitting at the far end. Several waved at us and one of the boys called out, “Cameron! Over here.”

I wasn’t expecting so many of his friends. There were two girls, and three boys. It was obvious the girls were paired with two of the boys. I had a sudden desire to turn around and run. I might be able to fake being a girl in front of some hormone overloaded teen boys who weren’t going to look beyond the surface, but could I also pass muster with real girls? In the back of my mind, I could hear Toni’s voice saying, “You are a real girl!”

We went to the counter and ordered our food. I felt embarrassed that Cameron had to pay for mine. Then I thought how if it this was a date, he’d be paying for it anyway.

As we approached his friends, one of the girls pointed at me and said, “Who’s your friend?”

Holding my hand, Cameron smiled and said, “Everyone, this is Zoe.” Cameron then pointed at each of his friends and said, “Zoe, this Claire and Sam, Brandy and Stan and that guy on the end we have no idea who he is. We try to avoid him, but he keeps finding us.”

The guy frowned and said, “Thanks for that. I’m Jonah. I’ve actually known Cameron since kindergarten. I don’t remember seeing you at school.”

Before I could say anything, mainly because I had no idea what to say, Cameron said, “She goes to Woodson.” Woodson was the school across town. The two schools were always major rivals during football season.

Brandy said, “You’ve already gone through all the girls at school so you had to start with girls at Woodson? You know that there’ll be a new batch of girls starting in the fall.”

As we sat down at the crowded table, Cameron frowned and said, “Ha ha. That’s very funny, Brandy. Actually Toni introduced us.”

Claire grinned and said, “Ah, so Toni is back to match making! She was always actually pretty good at matching people up. You two look good together. Maybe you should keep this one.”

I smiled weakly at Claire’s comment. For the zillionth time today I felt embarrassed.

To my utter shock, Cameron slid his arm behind me and rested it on my shoulder. He grinned and said, “I just might.” In my ear, Cameron whispered really low, “Sorry. Gotta sell it.”

Pointing at me, Jonah said, “Let me guess. You’re a cheerleader, right? You certainly look the cheerleader type.”

I smiled and shook my head. I said, “No. I wish! But no, I’m not.”

Brandy said, “Don’t pay any attention to Jonah. He thinks every pretty girl should be a cheerleader.”

With a laugh, Stan said, “I think it’s a fetish or something with him.”

Looking indignant, Jonah said, “Is it my fault I think girls look really cute in those short little uniforms?”

Claire shook her head and said, “Why yes. Yes it is!”

Cameron said to me, “As you can see, my friends are a group of deep thinking intellectuals.”

Sam said, “Hey, we do talk about other things besides Cheerleaders. It’s not our fault Jonah thinks your girlfriend should be a cheerleader.”

Oh wow. Sam just referred to me as Cameron’s girlfriend. His girlfriend! And Cameron didn’t correct him. I know Sam doesn’t really know anything about me, but I smiled and squeezed Cameron’s hand. And he squeezed back.

Jonah said, “Well, before we jump into other, more intellectual subjects, like will there ever be a Half-Life Three, I’d like to say to Zoe, that she should consider transferring to the superior school in town and become a cheerleader. I mean, we only have twenty-four. I think the number should be twenty-five at least, don’t the rest of you?”

Claire rolled her eyes and ignored Jonah. To me she said, “I just love your hair. It’s so long and full.”

I smiled and said, “Thank you! Toni actually styled it for me just this morning.”

Claire said, “Maybe I should talk to her about mine. I regret cutting it so short.

Cameron leaned in close and whispered where I could barely hear, “Not a wig?”

I frowned at him and whispered back, “Of course not!”

For the next half hour, the conversation drifted from favorite TV shows to movies and mostly about gaming. I was surprised that both girls also played online. Of course I always play using a name that is some variant of Zoe since sometimes the name is already taken. We all decided that one day this week we’d all get online and play on a server together. Which meant sharing our phone numbers.

At first I was hesitant about giving out my phone number to these kids. Not that they were weirdoes or anything, but they all considered me a girl. As much as I’d like to, I can’t be a girl all the time. It seemed pretty daring to me do it and a huge risk. But dammit, here was a group of kids that accepted me as a girl.

For a long time now, Toni has accepted me as a girl. She’s actually been helping with it after all. But it was thrilling to me to be accepted by these other girls as well. They showed no suspicion at all. It made me think though, would they be so accepting if I hadn’t showed up with Cameron? And holding his hand.

Sam checked the time on his phone and said, “Cameron, we were planning on going to see that new Technoid Megabots movie. You and your girlfriend are welcome to come with us.”

While I got a kick out of being referred to as Cameron’s girlfriend, I did have a name. Was I being overly sensitive? In movies, they always say “Let the girl go!” even though everyone knows her name.

Brandy said, “Yeah. Another movie with no story and so much eye candy, you get a headache trying to follow the action.”

Jonah said, “It’s fun. And there are a few cute girls in it.”

Cameron said, “Zoe, do you want to go?”

Looking into his eyes, I said, “Sure! I’d love to go. If you don’t mind.”

Cameron laughed and said, “Of course I don’t mind!”

Claire said, “Make him take you to a romantic comedy next. That new one, ‘Fifty Pairs of Shoes’ is really good.”

Cameron frowned and said, “I don’t know about that…”

I grinned and said, “That’d be great. It’s gotten good reviews.”

Cameron just looked at me funny and said, “We’ll see.”

Sam said, “Well, we need to go if we’re going to make it to the one thirty showing.”

Cameron and I rode in silence as we headed to the theater, following his friend’s cars. Finally he said, “Nothing personal, Zoe, but you’re not really my girlfriend. I know my friends don’t know and I’m not telling them, but I was a bit annoyed that you tried to set up another date. To be honest, I wish you were a real girl. You’re pretty, you’re funny, you’re smart and I like you.”

“Thanks, I think,” I said, feeling hurt. “I don’t see a problem if that’s how you feel about me.”

“Bottom line you’re a boy. And I’m not gay,” Cameron said with a stern expression. “Dressing as a girl doesn’t make you a girl.”

“I don’t dress as a girl, I dress as myself!” I shot back. “I don’t consider myself as gay either.”

Cameron laughed and said, “Don’t you like boys?”

“I love boys!” Oh my God. I’ve never said that out loud, in front of anyone before. “But I think of them as the opposite sex. I really truly feel I’m female.”

Cameron said, “You certainly look the part. Like I said. If your parts were different, I’d love to date you for all the reasons I’ve already mentioned. You’re a sweet girl, Zoe. And oddly very close to what I look for in a girl. But you have a penis. There! I said it. I just can’t get past that.”

I could feel tears welling up in my eyes. I said, “I’m sorry. Trust me, I wish I didn’t have that. I really like you. I’m sorry I can’t be what you want.”

Looking actually concerned, Cameron said, “Hey, hey. Don’t cry! You have to know that it couldn’t work out between us. Forget everything else. I just met you. I don’t fall in love with every girl I meet. I do like you. You’re one of the sweetest girls I’ve gone out with. I’ve dated lots of girls and I haven’t settled in with any of them.”

Looking at the floorboards, I said, “I know. I let myself get carried away. But you didn’t have to say those things. You could have just said whatever you say to girls that you aren’t really interested in. What you said hurt. A lot.”

Cameron brought his car to a stop in a parking space at the theater. His friends were already walking towards the box-office. He sighed and said, “You’re right. I’m sorry Zoe. You didn’t deserve that. I really am sorry.”

I smiled weakly at him and said, “You don’t have to take me to a movie if you don’t want. It was a fun idea for me, to have a boy take me out on a date. But you can just take me home.”

Cameron stared at the steering wheel for a few moments. Finally he turned toward me and said, “Hey, we’re here. I want to take you.” He lightly touched my cheek and slid his fingers briefly though my hair before pulling hand back.

I smiled weakly again and said, “Sure. I’d like that.” I should have told him to take me home, but I’ve been dreaming of going on a date with Cameron for way too long.

Giving me an embarrassed smile, Cameron said, “Great. It should be a fun movie.”

We caught up with the rest of the group at the box-office. There wasn’t much of a line so in a matter of minutes we were in the lobby. That’s when I realized I needed to go use the restroom. Do I dare use the women’s? I wasn’t exactly dressed for the men’s room. Merely thinking that I had to go suddenly made the need imperative. Since I always sit to pee anyway, it wasn’t likely I’d forget and do it standing up.

Cameron said, “Do you want any popcorn? I know we just had lunch, but a movie just isn’t a movie without popcorn.”

Squeezing my legs together, I said, “Sure. Get a large so we can share. I really need to go.”

Cameron nodded and said, “Do you want a Coke?”

I started to walk away, the need was overwhelming. I said, “Sure. Is a large okay?”

As I started to hurry to the women’s restroom, Cameron said, “What kind of Coke?”

I was about to pee down my legs. I turned and said, “Dr. Pepper.” I then turned and ran to the restroom.

Inside the women’s restroom, Brandy and Claire were checking their make-up in the large mirror. I rushed past them in my mad dash to a stall. I thought just one second longer and I would have had a disaster.

From outside the stall, Brandy said, “So, Zoe. Is that right that Toni introduced you and Cameron?”

I wasn’t used to being talked to in the restroom. I said, “Yeah. In a way. I mean, I already knew who he was. It was mostly by accident.” Or was it? That got me thinking. Why would Toni’s mom text her to meet her at the mall? She wasn’t likely to leave work early. And how could Toni forget that she’d asked Cameron to take her to the mall on a day she knew I was coming over for some dress up? Oh my God! She planned for Cameron to take me out, if only for lunch. Since Cameron was likely to avoid me in the future now, I couldn’t decide to thank her or hate her.

Brandy continued her questioning, “That’s cool. She’s such a match-maker. She has a high success rate too. So how do you know Toni, if you don’t mind my asking?”

As I pulled my panties back up, feeling much relieved, I said, “We’ve been friends a long time.” I made sure everything was in place and tucked.

Brandy said, “Really? She’s never mentioned you before.”

I opened the stall door and said, “Does she mention all her friends?”

Claire and Brandy looked at each other and laughed. Brandy said, “Yeah! She’s a horrible gossip! She’s always talking about her friends. Don’t get me wrong. Claire and I love her to death, but she’s very chatty.”

I checked my make-up in the mirror, not that I could fix it anyway as I didn’t have a purse with me. My lipstick was long gone at this point, but everything else seemed okay. To Brandy I said, “Well, it’s not like we hang out all the time together.”

Claire said, “A word of warning about Cameron. He never goes steady with anyone. He’s dated both me and Brandy and half the girls at school. I’m only saying that because you seem like such a sweet girl that I’d hate to see you get hurt when he dumps you after a date or two. I mean, Cameron is really nice…”

Brandy chimed in and said, “He really is.”

“…but he just won’t stick with any girl for very long,” continued Claire. “Just don’t take it personally. It’s not you.”

I nodded and said, “Yeah, I’ve heard about his reputation. But I…”

Claire laughed and interrupted me and said, “But you weren’t going to turn down a date with him!”

Brandy giggled and said, “Welcome to the club! Sadly, membership isn’t very exclusive!”

Claire stepped towards a stall and said, “Hey, wait for me. Now I have to go!”

A few minutes later, all three of us exited the restroom. It’s funny how going to the restroom is a much more social experience as a girl.

Cameron was standing there trying to balance a tub of popcorn and two drinks. When I approached him, he said, “Here, take your drink. My hand is freezing. Sheesh, what do you girls do in the restroom anyway?”

I just smiled and said, “Wouldn’t you like to know.” I really didn’t think I needed to pump his ego by telling him we were discussing him.

We found our seats in the already darkened theater. We managed to get there just before the movie started. The theater was mostly empty on this weekday afternoon. We took up a whole row, especially since there was a blank seat between each “couple”. Well except for Jonah. He sat right next to me with Cameron on the other side. I snuggled up against Cameron, and he didn’t seem to mind.

During the movie, I’d occasionally glance down the row at Claire and Brandy. They were mostly doing the same as me, snuggling close to the guys. But every once in a while, I’d see them kiss their boyfriends on the neck, cheek or lips. I looked over at Cameron and wondered if I dared. Would he get upset at a kiss on the neck? Kissing him on the lips just seemed way to wild and crazy for me. I didn’t want him to storm off or something. Worrying about kissing him caused me to miss most of the movie.

Suddenly, Jonah placed his hand on my leg and started rubbing it. I picked up his hand by the wrist and put it back in his own lap. He grinned and a few minutes later his hand was back on my leg.

Before I could move his hand again, Cameron leaned across me and whispered, “Dude, keep your hands off my girl, okay?” I really didn’t think Cameron was seeing anything but the dazzling eye candy playing on the screen.

But I saw my chance and I took it when I heard Cameron refer to me as “his girl.” I wasn’t brave enough to kiss him on the lips, but I took a quick kiss on his cheek. I saw him smile instead of flinching. He slid his arm around my shoulder and pulled me closer to him. I honestly don’t remember much of the movie as I laid my head dreamily on Cameron’s shoulder. After whispering to Jonah, Cameron held my hand.

When the movie ended, and we all stood up, Jonah stretched with an exaggerated gesture and he managed to place his hand momentarily on my butt. He just grinned at me and quickly pulled his hand away. Cameron didn’t see it.

Jonah said, “That wasn’t a bad flick. I noticed a few continuity errors, especially the hero’s hat being on and off his head through the big fight.”

Sam said, “Yeah. I noticed a few plot holes too.”

Brandy said, “Don’t you guys ever just enjoy a movie? You always analyze it.”

Jonah grinned and said, “This way I won’t make these same mistakes when I’m directing block buster movies.”

Stan laughed and said, “The only movies you’ll ever make are cheap porn flicks using your phone.”

Jonah just laughed and said, “You’ll be jealous when I’m a big movie mogul. Just you wait.”

Cameron tugged on my hand and said, “Hey, catch you guys later. Maybe we can do something Saturday.”

Claire said, “Saturday? You’ll have a new girlfriend by then.”

I frowned and Cameron said, “You’re so funny. Ha. Ha. It is to laugh.”

Brandy said, “Well, it’s true.” Then to me she said, “Just kidding, Zoe.” Well, that confused the heck out of me.

Cameron waved to the group and led me out of the theater, through the lobby and then out to the mall hallway. We walked in silence as we headed into the interior of the mall.

“How did you like movie?” asked Cameron, still holding my hand.

I smiled at him and said, “I liked it. Lots of action, that’s for sure.”

Cameron nodded and said, “I liked it too. Of course, it’s obvious there’s going to be a sequel.” He was quiet for a moment and then he said, “I want to apologize for Jonah. He shouldn’t have touched you. I’ll beat him up later.”

I laughed and then suddenly looked serious and said, “I hope you were joking. But thanks for telling him to stop.”

Cameron grunted and said, “And he wonders why he never has dates. He’s actually a pretty sharp guy. Good at math and computers and great at gaming. He’s just socially retarded or something.”

I smiled and said, “Maybe that’s because he’s good at computers and gaming?”

Feigning being indignant, Cameron said, “Hey, I’m good at those things too!”

We continued to walk through the hallway, our hands swinging a bit as he kept holding my hand. It’s funny that a gesture so small could mean so much to me. I wanted to hang on to that little bit of contact for as long as possible.

I stopped to look at a dress display. I was surprised he didn’t try to pull me away. It was a bridal store and the dress in the window a beautiful prom/cocktail dress. I’ve passed this display before but dressed as Rob, so I didn’t feel comfortable in staring at it. But now, I could look at it all I wanted. I’m sure no one would care either way, but it just seemed more normal to ogle a dress while looking like a girl.

Cameron said, “You like that dress?”

I grinned up at him and said, “Oh yes. It’s gorgeous, don’t you think?”

Shrugging, Cameron said, “It’s pretty I guess. I don’t look at dresses that often.”

I said, “Would you buy it for me?” Of course I was joking.

Grunting a short laugh, Cameron said, “I can’t afford a picture of that dress. But to be honest, I’d love to see you in it, Zoe. I bet you’d be beautiful in it.”

“Thank you!” I said, beaming. “That’s so sweet of you to say. I’d love to wear it.” I sighed. “But I’m not likely to get invited to the prom next year and Dad’s certainly ain’t gonna buy it for me.”

There was a pause in the conversation as I just stood there and admired the dress. Finally, Cameron broke the silence and said, “You really want to be a girl?”

I looked down at my hands for a moment. I said, “As far as I’m concerned, I am a girl. Inside at least. I’m hoping I can get brave enough to talk my parents into putting me into a gender program or something.”

“How likely is that?” asked Cameron, taking my hand again.

Frowning I said, “Well, my dad would probably kill me first. Mom might kill me less.”

Cameron said, “Now don’t attach anything more to this than what I’m saying, but you’ve convinced me that you’re a girl. I look at you and I can’t see anything that looks like a guy to me. But I don’t understand it. I really can’t see why a guy would want to be a girl. I just don’t get it.”

Looking thoughtful, I said, “In all honesty, I don’t get it either. It’s just who I am. It’s how I feel. It’s how I think. I really wish I’d been born one way or the other. You can’t imagine how hard this is.”

Cameron smiled wryly and said, “Oh I can guess! I hope you get it worked out. You deserve to be happy. I can’t imagine you being anyone other than Zoe.”

“Thanks! I really appreciate that. I have to say I’m surprised though,” I said looking up into his eyes.

Cameron laughed and said, “I’m a renaissance man. What can I say?” He pulled his phone out of his pocket and checked the time. He said, “Oh, crap. I need to get home or my mom will kill me.”

I nodded. “I didn’t realize how late it was getting. Can you take me to my house?”

Cameron said, “Sure. Let me text Mom to let her know that I’ll be delayed a bit.”

Fifteen minutes later, Cameron pulled up in front of my house.

“Nice house,” he said.

I tossed my hair back and tried to sound sophisticated and said, “Why thank you! It’s our summer home.” I laughed and continued, “And our fall home, and winter and even spring.”

Cameron chuckled and said, “I’ll walk you to your door.”

I smiled as Cameron held my hand as we walked up to my door. The bright, hot late afternoon summer sun shone onto my porch, casting our shadows along the wall.

Smiling, I said, “Thank you for lunch and a movie, Cameron. I really enjoyed it.”

Cameron glanced back at his car for a moment, and then down to his feet. Finally he looked back up at me and said, “Sure. I enjoyed it too. I…um…I enjoyed being with you. Maybe we can do something again some time?”

Oh my God! Did he just say he’d like to go out with me again? There’s no way. Grinning, I said, “I’d love to, Cameron. I think that’d be great.” As if he’d actually call me again.

“Cool,” said Cameron. He paused a moment, and then he said, “Are you busy Friday?”

I had to keep my jaw from dropping. I know I couldn’t stop my ear-to-ear grin. I said, “I’d have to check my calendar to be sure, but I think I’m free on Friday.”

Flashing a smile, Cameron said, “Great. Would you like to see Fifty Pairs of Shoes?” Wow. He’s even willing to take me to a chick flick.

Nodding, I said with a smile, “I’d like that.”

Cameron said, “It’s a date then. Saturday though, we usually play Team Fortress.”

I grinned and said, “Just tell me what time I need to get on the server.”

Cameron suddenly bent down and kissed me softly on the lips. It could have lasted an hour and it still wouldn’t have been long enough. But it was just a few moments. I totally melted inside.

“You looked like you could use that,” grinned Cameron. Before I could say anything, he turned and walked briskly back to his car. I waved as he pulled away from the curb and drove down the street.

*          *          *

“Rob, are you wearing make-up?”

I nodded and said, “Mom, I think we need to talk. Can you call me Zoe?”

*          *          *

The End

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