A Friend in Need is a Friend in Deed -- Chp. 23 Fleet of Foot

Chapter 23 – Fleet of Foot

“You are underhanded, two timing, and a complete bald face liar. That is what you are. You have cheated us by not telling the truth when you know what we expect of you. Your deception borders on criminality and I intend to make an example of you! You owed us your best, and you didn’t give it to us!” Dad didn’t mince words when he was righteously angry.

“Well, Samantha. What do you have to say? Does any of this speak to you?” Mom asked.

I thought about it and could only say one thing. “That used car salesman is going to own you, isn’t he, Dad?”

Dad slumped back in his chair resigned to the fact I was right. Everyone at the dinning room table erupted in laughter. The time had come for the annual fleet purchase for the city vehicles and this year it was Dad’s turn to get the best deal for the community. It didn’t help that there was only one person who could sell fleet vehicles in the town and city regulations forced us to use him. So, Dad wasn’t looking forward to visiting the dealership and dealing with the infamous fleet manager. It also didn’t help that the fleet manager was also the head of the used car lot too at the local Chevy dealership.

To help out with my dad, I dressed up in my finest dress and dolled myself up to be as pretty as could be. I accompanied him to the dealership because it was ‘Daughter Go to Work with Dad Day’ in the city. I tagged along to see him in action. When the two of us entered Mr. Haney’s office at Hooterville Chevrolet, he was talking to a customer. He was thin, tall, and had nice fine ginger hair. In his thirties, he had the commanding air of a sixty year old statesman like Churchill. He was in a business suit with no tie and an open collar dress shirt revealing he wore an undershirt. He turned to go, coolly cocked his head back towards Mr. Haney, and said, as he carefully put on his dark glasses and then put his hands on his hips pushing back his jacket flaps, in a slow whisper and gravelly voice, “I want a Hummer at a good price, or there will be hell of a price to pay.”

“Right you are, Mr. Caine. I will get you the Horatio Hornblower special of Hummers!”

As he exited, Mr. Caine said, “I really don’t appreciate making fun of my name.” I could tell he was someone I wouldn’t want to mess with. He was not the type to buy swamp land in Florida.

I heard him mumble as he waved goodbye, “The other Caine was so much easier to work with. All he wanted was a sedan so he could throw spears at it.”

After a second, he realized we were there. “Mr. Miller, I am so glad to see you. Come in and sit down. Is this your lovely daughter? Why, I can see where she gets her good looks. Not you, my good man, but you must have a gorgeous wife. My, my! What a pretty young thing you are! Have a seat little darling.” I almost drowned in his saccharin hyperbole. “You have a seat too, Sir. The best in the house.” Mr. Haney sat down at his desk after we sat down.

The phone rang, “Yes, she is on the car lot. Blonde, blue eyed. Looking for a Malibu. Huh, what’s her name. Hang on. Here it is. Barbi. ” He hung up and turned to us and apologized, “Sorry, it has been a hectic day.”

The phone rang again, “No, the gentleman’s name is Michael. Yes. Umm, he is looking for a black Pontiac Trans Am. He is tall. About six two, black curly hair. Sure, he looks like that actor on Baywatch. David something. No, tell him that Bo Danville is looking to buy that Trans Am tomorrow. If he balks, tell him that I guarantee that Bo will make out like a bandit when we give him a case of Coor’s to go with his purchase. No, Really? You sure we can’t do that? Darn! Well, then offer him one of our special emergency night kit to go with the Trans Am. Either way, on the bright side, one of the two will get justice.” He hung up the phone and apologized again.

“Here, let me stop these interruptions.” He picked up the phone and spoke to the secretary. “No more calls please, Mrs. Douglas. I am in an important business meeting. I understand. Just transfer them to Mr. Drucker. I am sure he can handle them. Oh, and tell Uncle Joe he is fired. I am tired of his laziness.”

A silly thought hit me briefly that maybe when I grow up that I should own a Trans Am, because, well, I trans am.

Dad felt better that we had Mr. Haney’s full attention now so we could discuss the needs of our growing city. But, I could tell he was nervous because he had heard that Mr. Haney was notorious for screwing the city in transactions. They were the only local dealership that could handle our business, and city regs said unless there was a cause to believe they were being fraudulent, we had to do business with them even if there were better options elsewhere.

“Mr. Haney, can I go to the lady’s room please. I will be right back, Dad.” I got up and went out the door. While Mr. Haney was busy pulling the wool over my Dad’s eyes, I went the other way down the hall way. I suspected something. Sure enough, I was right. In a darkened room adjacent to Mr. Haney’s office were two people watching through a one way mirror what was going on in Mr. Haney’s office looking at a computer screen. They spoke to him through a mike, so he must have some sort of ear piece. What they didn’t know is that I had a micro-recorder in my purse. I was going to use it to record open lectures at the university mini courses during the summer. Most of the material was over my head. So, Debbie gave it to me saying that it helped her at university, it might help me. I stealthily placed it in the room to record what was being said and headed back to Mr. Haney’s office.

“All right, this is the list of what the city needs. Vans, cars, and other sundry vehicles.” Mr. Haney picked it up and started to read off what was on the list. Dad handed me a copy so I could keep up with it.

Then, item by item, he said what price they could sell him the vehicle. Dad, I could tell, was impressed with his immediate knowledge of each vehicle. He wrote down the prices of each. Before he got to the last vehicle, I said, “Oh, I left my lipstick in the powder room. I will be right back, Daddy.” I expected Dad to start negotiating with him shortly and I had to get the recorder before they found it.

I ducked back down the hallway, reached in and grabbed it. I then went to the lady’s bathroom, found a stall, set the recorder to play back at double speed, put in earphones, and played what was said in the dark room by the men standing there. I noted down the prices they really could get the vehicles at and then wrote it out in French next to the vehicle on the sheet Dad handed me. After about ten minutes, I left the bathroom and headed back to Mr. Haney’s office. I passed the men who had been in the dark room in the hallway walking back to their offices. The room they were in was now empty.

I went back in and listened to Dad dicker and bemoan the prices as he went through each vehicle. “Dad,” I said, “can I have another copy of the list?” He handed me another and I put it on an empty clipboard that Mr. Haney had on the table. I carefully wrote out a price by each vehicle that had a three percent markup for each vehicle unit’s price.

“Mr. Haney?”

“Yes, sweetie? I hope this isn’t too much for a little girl such as yourself. Must seem boring to you to hear men talk business.”

“You know, my Mom is quite a good shopper and so is my sister Jane. I have really learned a lot from them. So, here is what I think you should sell us the vehicles for.” I handed him the clipboard with the sheet of paper and the prices.

“Now, you precious sweet thang, I am sure you think you are helping your Daddy, but I would be losing money on all these vehicles if I were to sell them to you for these amounts. You just don’t know the car business, honey child.”

“Really?! I learned the car business hearing what was coming out of the room next door when I went to the lady’s room. So, I recorded it!” I held up the micro-recorder. “Dad, did you know that mirror there is a one way mirror and Mr. Haney is wearing an ear piece? They looked up prices while he read off the list and gave a him huge markup to each of around ten to twenty per cent. There is a three percent markup on all the vehicles on the list I handed you. That is a good commission for you, Mr. Haney. Take it or leave it. See, I am a quick study. I learned it from my Daddy.” I sat back and gave him a coy smile. My Dad’s jaw dropped. But, he was quick to react and realize the huge advantage I had just given him.

Dad leaned forward in his chair after reaching into his briefcase. “Here is the purchase order. You write up the vehicles on it at the price Samantha put there and I will sign it on behalf of the city. And maybe we will forget your indiscretion.”

Mr. Haney hesitated. Dad pounced and said, “Or, I can take what Samantha recorded back to the accounting manager who handed this off to me and tell her how you fraudulently do business which will let her give me an official waiver so I can head out of town to find a real dealer who won’t cheat us. Which is it?” I could see that Daddy was real happy as Mr. Haney agreed to the prices.

I held my Daddy’s hand as we walked out of Mr. Haney’s office. “Nicely done, Princess! We make a good team. I love you.”

“I enjoy being on your team. I love you too, Daddy!” We walked out of the dealership with the best deal for the city they had in years. As Daddy opened the car door for me, I noticed Mr. Caine was looking at a Mercedes. I hoped that if he bought it, the car deal wouldn’t blow up in his face.

At my home, in an unusual house call for doctors, Erin introduced me to John, Tommy’s counselor. John introduced Tommy to Erin. We were having a joint session to discuss our partnership, to go over concerns, and make sure that we were clear on the nature of our craft had on the success of the enterprise of catching pedophiles.

John spoke with exuberance, “I have seen the videos of you both and I can only say that you both have exceptional presence. I know they won’t show them to you yet because of they have edited them to be, for lack of a better terms, seductive, salacious, and sexy. Plus, they did it to show that you were filmed without your knowing, so the angles are, how shall I say, not normal. I guess what I am saying is that you make a good team.”

“Thank you, John. Are you the one that encouraged us to act more like a team after hearing what Tommy’s coach said?” I asked. “Because I think it has really helped our partnership.”

“Yes. Tommy told me about it and I said that it wouldn’t hurt your performance for you two to date and learn to be more comfortable playing your roles. I think he was reluctant at first.”

Tommy smiled and patted me on the arm. I took his hand and looked at him. “I am grateful you said yes and are a fast learner. Thank you.”

John asked me, “What are you doing this summer other than helping out with weddings and stings?”

“I am learning J. S. Bach’s fugues in his Well Tempered Caviler Books One and Two.”

“Can you show me, Pips?” he asked. I got up and went to our piano.

“It is about a three or four minute piece and one of my favorite pieces of Bach. I had trouble with the fingering in the beginning because of the prelude’s toccata, but I finally got it down.” I played his Prelude and Fugue Number 2 from Book One in C Minor. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0nZjkh-U7I] They applauded as I finished. I turned around and bowed in my seat.

Erin asked Tommy, “What about you Tommy, other than the Michael Jackson dances, your dates with Pips, and the stings, what are you doing this summer?”

“Well, I have been learning to cook at home. I am starting a class in French that Pips told me about called ‘French in Action.’ My Mom is thrilled because I have been cleaning my room per Pips suggestion. I have never gotten along better with my sister Connie and my Mom since I became Pips partner. I am doing strength training and conditioning that Robert, Pips’ brother recommended for the football field, and I am reading all the books on my 8th grade English classes list so I can maintain a high GPA in the fall during football.” He winked at me, “But most of all, Pips has really improved my life by showing how to grow with grace and integrity.”

“Were you not getting along with your mom and sibling before?” Erin asked.

“Oh, I was. But, I think it was like I was taking them for granted. Not that exactly, I didn’t have the vocabulary to talk to them like I wanted. I felt like we were growing apart and I had resigned myself to it. Once I saw how Pips interacted with her sister and mother, I began to realize that she had something I lacked.”

“So, you feel Pips has made you a better boy?”

“Yeah, I guess you could put it that way. By Pips not being afraid of showing her softer side, she showed me how to be much stronger and more tender at the same time as a man. If that makes any sense?”

“It makes perfect sense.” I looked down the hallway at that moment. I could see the shadow of my mother against the floor. I knew she was listening in to what we were talking about. I thought to myself, that she shouldn’t be doing this, but I am glad she overheard what Tommy said.

I took the opportunity to expand on it knowing she was there, “I know that is one of the things I am getting out of this experience that is really opening my eyes. I am learning why my parents’ marriage is so strong. I never knew the hard work they put into making it work and the character my Mom and Dad have to make it work. They have become my heroes. Being Samantha is a worthwhile reward, not a punishment.” I spoke the truth and from the heart. But, I also knew that in expressing it, they would relax more about me being Pips until I went to Canada.

Once our session was over, Tommy and I went to work on part of the dance routine.

Later that night, Mom was brushing out my hair. “I love this new hair style on you.”

“Thanks Mom. It was so much fun to go out with Jane and get it with her. I am glad I had a chance to be closer to her before she gets married. Because, once she does, I won’t see her much. I mean, look at you and Uncle Robert.”

“You know, I hadn’t thought of that. But, it is true. If you hadn’t been Samantha, you two might still be warring and would never have grown as close. And, come to think of it, the same is true of your brother. I have never see you two so close.”

She finished up. I began to brush her hair too. “Samantha is teaching me so much. I know it will end soon, but, I don’t want to miss a minute of what she has to teach me.”

“I heard you playing the piano today while I was working in the kitchen. It was beautiful. You really are an unusual girl. Most girls your age would be wanting to hear the latest band. But you like classical music, so why do you still hang on to it even though you have been making friends now and they listen to their favorite rock and roll bands?”

I stopped, thought about it, and began to brush her hair again. “Because it is so profound and beautiful. In that day, they didn’t have a record player or MTV. They only had that brief moment on an instrument that was in front of them while music was coming out of it to enjoy it. They didn’t waste the moment they had been given. They revealed in it with a passion and respect that an FM radio or record player doesn’t give us.”

“Like the moments you have been given to be a girl named Samantha?”

“Yeah, like the moments I have been given to be her. They are precious and I will forever be grateful for them.”

“I am glad to hear that. I want to make sure you haven’t been robbed of something you were supposed to have experienced as a boy.”

I let out of sigh, “Ahh, Mom, here, let me play something you might recognize that expresses why this time matters for me. This was one of the songs Debbie was considering, but realized it didn’t go with their wedding. Still, it really touched me.” I reached over and picked up my guitar and began to play the Joni Mitchell song, “Both Sides Now.” Mom knew the song and, to my wonderful surprise, began to sing with me. We enjoyed a nice duet. As we finished, Dad was standing in the door. He clapped and said, “You two sing nicely together.”

Jane came up next to him and said, “Dad’s right, you two do sing nicely together. Maybe you could sing that at my wedding.”

Mom relaxed and considered what was said. “Maybe we should. I like singing with you too. Also, I see what you mean. You are looking at love from both sides now.”

We hugged and called it a night. But, as I went to sleep, it hit me that my relationships were changing. Unlike Mitchell’s song, where relationships fell apart, mine were growing closer and richer.

Tommy turned on his skates, threw me, and I landed a triple axel perfectly. He was handsome in the outfit I had made for him and I was simply gorgeous in mine. I was impressed with my cleavage having real breasts and felt nothing between my legs for the first time. Catching up to me, we did twizzles and then proceeded to do lifts, flips, and sit spins. We looked perfectly matched as skaters. We finished with a death spiral. I could hear the crowd erupt in thunderous applause. I reached up to kiss him. In the process, our mouths found each other and I was about to explore his mouth when I woke up.

Realizing it was dream, I looked over at my clock to check the time. Darn, I thought, why did I have to wake up at the best part. I sat up. It was six in the morning, my usual time for getting up, even in summer. I went over to my keyboard, put on my headphones, and began to do warm ups. I finished the morning by practicing a new fugue. After I finished, I took a shower, cleaned my room, cleaned the bathroom, and started doing laundry. I was making breakfast when the doorbell rang. I went to answer and got the most wonderful surprise. It was Mr. Murphy and Miranda.

“Please, come in. Have you had breakfast yet?”

“No, we were headed down to Shiloh when the check engine light came on. Can we use you phone? And yes, we would love to have breakfast if that isn’t too much trouble.”

I directed Mr. Murphy to the phone in the kitchen and had Miranda come and help me. I decided to cook them Denver omelettes, hash browns, toast, coffee, and milk. I went to work quickly and had breakfast made for them and the family that was just getting up. Dad had gotten the day off for blitzing Mr. Haney.

I was plating and serving as fast as I could. In truth, it was fun and I was loving it. When I was done, I came to the table and they were all having a great gab fest. Mom and Mr. Murphy were discussing things they could do during the summer and what he could do about her schooling. Pre-K or no Pre-K for a five year old. Should she go instead into kindergarten or not. Grandpa and Grandma arrived and joined in on the discussion.

I could tell Miranda was feeling left out. “You want to play with my dolls?”

“I didn’t think you had dolls.”

“I got some because of Alice and Carol. Let’s go play in the living room.”

She hugged me and was ready to run off with me, when she looked at me. “Don’t you want breakfast?”

“I can get it later. I want to play with my little sister.” She looked up at me and smiled a great big grin.

I don’t know how long it would before they finished. They were having a grand time in the kitchen getting the car situation fixed and getting caught up. Miranda and I were having a great time too. I had a P. J. Sparkles doll and let Miranda have a Magic Nursery doll to play with. We were having to take care of them, feed them, change them, and put them to bed. We were having such a good time. I liked it because it gave me a chance to be the little girl I never was.

A knock came at the door. Mrs. Smith asked if I could watch the triplets for a couple of hours while she had a plumber replace their hot water heater. I said yes.

Mom wandered in to check on us and smiled at seeing her. She invited her in. At first she said she needed to get back, but then she realized that she told the plumber she would be next door if he needed her.

Then the doorbell rang and it was Chris from internal affairs. He commented that if he knew about all this, he would have brought Sarah. He was there to talk to Dad about our experience with the dealership. Apparently, the dealer may have broken a few laws. Dad was turning into quite the hero back at City Hall.

Bill stopped by with Arlene who had asked if she could see me today. Arlene joined the triplets, Miranda, and me in the living room while Bill went into the kitchen to join the adults. The house was a zoo.

Arlene enjoyed playing with the dolls too. I had more than enough from my sister’s collection and some Mom bought a few weeks ago. We were all having a grand time, except for Brian. He was off in a corner playing with his truck. Carol was with me and Arlene took care of Alice. Miranda was enjoying all the girls being together. “I don’t get to play with other children much.”

“I am sorry to hear that. Are there no children around you to play with?” Arlene asked.

I explained that because they are here temporarily, Miranda’s can’t see her normal friends for a while.

“I understand Miranda, I haven’t been able to see my friends for months. That is why I wanted to see Samantha. I just wanted to talk to someone my own age or close to it. This is a lot of fun.”

“Maybe we can arrange this to happen more often, would you mind Samantha?” I turned around there was Grandma smiling at me.

“Yeah, Grandma.” I nuzzled Carol who giggled. “I think they need girl time. And I really don’t mind. In fact, I think I like it.”

“Okay, Samantha. I think it is very nice of you to do this. Let me talk to your Mom and the others about it.”

Later, Mom came into the living room, “All right Miranda and Arlene, I just wanted you to know that I just arranged for you to have play dates here on a regular basis. I hope you don’t mind.” They both came up and hugged her.

“Oh, thank you Samantha’s Mom! She is the best girlfriend in the whole world.” Arlene said hugging her again.

“Yeah, and a cool big sister too!” said Miranda.

“And not a bad little sister either!” I turned around and Jane was beaming at me. She came in and joined us.

So, between the weddings, the dances, the dating, the stings, and the play dates, our house was going to be a little chaotic for the foreseeable future.

Agent Carlson came to the rescue and got their rental car changed. Soon, the morning was down to just the triplets. I was being helped by Jane, but eventually she wandered off with Grandma. The triplets were napping and I was holding Carol, my favorite toy. I ambled on quiet feet into the kitchen to get something to eat so as not to wake her. The door to the backyard was slightly ajar and I overheard something magical.

“How many eggs have you harvested, Honey?”

“One hundred and fourteen. The doctor says that one more visit, I should have ample eggs set aside for me and Pips.”

“Good. I don’t know what the future will bring, but if she really is a girl, she shall have her own family. I am determined of that. Now remember, you aren’t to tell your Mom, your Dad, or Grandpa. They won’t understand. And especially Pips who may not even know herself yet that she is a girl. While they may not understand, it is just intuition on my part about Pips. Just say that I wanted an insurance policy for you if anyone asks about where the money came from and whom it is for.”

I quietly scurried out of the kitchen and back into the living room. My stomach wasn’t so important anymore. I sat in a chair and let Carol sleep on my shoulder. I felt warm and fuzzy. I wanted to cry , but couldn’t. I knew that my future was guaranteed. And now by whom.

Grandma came in the room on her way out. “Oh, Honey, you look like you are enjoying this.”

“I am Grandma. I never knew how much joy children could bring. Now I know why adults have them.”

She put hand on my free shoulder, “You will make a wonderful parent one day, I just know it.” I noticed the gender neutral way she put it.

“Thanks Grandma. I love you and thank you so much for moving here. I never knew how much I needed you in my life. I appreciate you so very much.”

She sighed and gave me the sweetest smile. “Thank you for saying that. But, Honey, I wouldn’t have missed being in your life for the world.”

Tommy and I gathered with the others at Canterbury before the Shakespeare class. Mrs. Duncan came in and gave us our play book. She walked us through the dance moves until the end. She commented, “The only thing you can’t do is the lean. In the original video, he used wires, but now, he has a special shoe that hooks into a nail and they can do the same lean. I wish I could get it for you.”

After the session was over, Tommy grabbed the video camera and we went over the basics with me on how to use it. I enjoyed being instructed by him. There were two video cameras and Mrs. Duncan told us, “Think in your minds eye that you are telling a story as you shoot each shot. The biggest mistake you will make is not to stay on the subject. So, be on them for at least ten to twenty seconds. I was told when I was learning that if I narrate the shot and use lots of words in my mind, I will get a good shot for editing.”

I inquired, “Mrs. Duncan, can we use this afterwords to make a video of our Michael Jackson dance?”

“I don’t see why not, Jackie. I think that would be an excellent idea. That way you all can see where you want to improve.” Tommy listened to that with raptured attention. As we began to film the days events, he said to me, “Video has been used to improve football too. Video is really changing sports. Do you think you can video the games for me and send the tapes to your brother. I would like his input on my game.”

“Maybe. Talk to me after we finish this project. I will have a better idea of how I would like it. But, I would love to do it for you.”

Tommy and I were introduced to the new class as alumni who would be making a video. Connie was introduced as a high school student who was helping them out by taking notes of what was filmed. And, finally, I was also pointed out as the one who made their costumes and altered them for them. They were going to a summer day camp we hadn’t been to last year. I was grateful because I didn’t want to be recognized. No one was playing the boy/girl this year. Instead, one of the boys turned out to be a girl which was used for effect. There were a few students from Danvers in the group who recognized me. One in particular was in Mrs. Duncan’s acting class with me. Jim Allen was his name. He came up to me. “Hi Jackie! I wondered why you got an A in the class and never had to act.”

“Yes, I volunteered last summer to work with the troop and since she couldn’t give me a grade for it, she gave me a pass in acting class. I still had to do the homework and everything else though.”

“Yeah, I have done a lot of acting in her summer class without credit. So, she gave me a pass on it this last year.”

Tommy could see what was about to happen, so he chimed in, “Look Pips, we have to video everyone. We are burning daylight.” I picked up my video camera and began filming everything we could for the next several hours. Having done the scenes before ourselves, Tommy and I knew the best angles to shoot the scenes. I observed Carla dressed as a boy in a scene. Carla was in my math class and a pretty decent girl, but a little on the tomboy side.

Carla came up to me at the end of the day, “It is nice to see you again, Jackie.”

I nodded and smiled. “It is good to see you too, Carla. You did a great job out there. You make a convincing boy. And your reveal was handled nicely too.”

“Thank you. I thought you would understand. Even though you are a girly girl, I know you tried to be more boy like for a while there and then went back to what you do best, being a girl at the end of the school year.” I couldn’t help by smile. If she only knew.

Tommy had been listening to us and came up behind me and put his arms around me. “Yeah, I love my girly girl!” I kissed my finger and leaned back to put it on his lips. He blushed.

“So, you two are a couple? And you go to Canterbury. I smell turncoat.” Carla giggled and waved her finger at me. “But, he is cute, so I think I can forgive you.” She gave me that girl to girl look that let me know that she understood. Tommy chuckled and clearly enjoyed the complement.

“Yeah,” I sighed, “I am expected to be at all his games and support him. I will, but I know nothing about football, poor guy. I think all I will be watching that cute butt of his in his uniform run around the field more than the game.”

“Girls!” Tommy shook his head. I gave him an evil stare and scrunched my nose. Tommy threw up his hands in surrender. “I’m sorry, I meant to say Ladies!”

Carla and I laughed. “Much better. You’re forgiven!” I said and gave him a peck on the cheek.

Connie intervened, “Come on you two lovebirds, we have some work to do.”

Back at home, Connie and I worked on altering the flapper costumes we ordered. She marveled at my sewing skills. “Carla is right, you are a girly girl. Why?”

“My sister and mother think that after all this is over, it will be hard for people to recognize me if they don’t see the boy in me.”

“Oh, yes, you have told me that before. But, I have to admit, I don’t see any boy in you. And, your body is still too girly to even be considered a boy. You have smooth skin, no muscles, you dress well, your make up is impeccable, and your hair is elegant and pretty.”

“Thank you. That is very sweet of you to say. I suppose a boy will one day emerge. But, at least no one is calling me a sissy or worse like they had been. And, to be frank, avoiding that misery is a heavenly reward for being Samantha instead.”

“Do you get any kinky kicks from wearing the clothes? I heard that some guys get off on it.”

“No, I enjoy wearing them. But, there is no sexual pleasure I get in wearing a dress. It may sound strange, what I enjoy is feeling pretty and dressing nicely. It makes me feel good.”

“Just like any girl does, I suppose.” Connie said thoughtfully.

“Yeah, I guess so. Why should you all have the fun.”

Connie giggled. “Yeah, I see your point.”

We finished up and she went in to put on her red flapper outfit. I then went in to put on my green flapper outfit. The neck line of both was purposely high, yet both showed a lot of shoulder with the sleeveless look. The alterations I made were perfect. Each one had lots of tassels which moved with the dresses and gave them a flirty look. The high neck line had two purposes. One, it hid my breast forms. Two, it would pass muster with the school. They didn’t want us to have cleavage when we performed in front of the school.

Jane came in and we tried out several different looks for the makeup and the hair bands. We finally settled on a head band with a peacock feather and make up that was loud, but not sexy. Our next task was to find high heels that went with them, so Jane took us to the mall and we went shoe shopping in our flapper outfits. The video showed from Munich showed the women with what looked like six inch heels to make them look sexy. We went for four inch spiked heels because we needed to be shorter than the guys and needed to be less sexy. While they were tall at five-nine and five-ten, it looked better if we were two or more inches shorter than them. We knew they were going to be wearing inch and a half shoes. Connie was five-five making her five-foot-nine and I was five-two, making me five-six in the shoes. The shoes could withstand dance, so they were a basic beige with a not so narrow closed toe.

Dancing in these shoes would take practice, but I had arranged to use my ballroom dance instructor for helping us do the routines with the boys. My favorite part was going to be the brief dance with Tommy where where we did a tango style dance. In that respect, the dance instructor had decided to teach us a full tango so he would have the benefit of being able to do it with me later during the reception and not just the few steps in the Smooth Criminal dance routine.

Having accomplished our tasks, we sat in the food court. Sure enough, Beavis and Butthead, I mean Brent and Olson came walking by. I was surprised when Connie spoke up, “Hey Guys, how are the nine-year-olds? Feeling lucky today?” They hissed as they walked by. Tommy must have told her about them and what I said.

“What was that all about?” asked Jane, who obviously would be clueless.

“Pest control.” I answered. Connie lost it. I went on to explain who they were to Jane and how I was introduced to them.

“Damn, that is a good one, Pips. You have a cute little mean streak in you. Trolling for nine-year-olds indeed.” I blushed.

We dropped off Connie. She and I hugged like good friends. I could tell that she was warming to me and genuinely liked me. Tommy came out briefly and I hugged and kissed him. Connie told him what I said at the mall. Tommy loved it too. “See you tomorrow, Pips. Love ya.”

“Love ya too.” I looked back at him and smiled. We both blushed. I skipped off with Jane to go back home.

Doug and I had a little conversation about everything that was going on later that night while sitting on his porch. “So, your grandmother suspects. Enough so that she paid for the eggs to be frozen. Amazing. I wondered how Jane could afford it. It costs about nine thousand dollars to do what she is doing. Say nothing to them. Let them believe you are clueless. I just know that when you leave, they will start working on your parents. But, most of all, this is working to a successful conclusion. Just relax, enjoy it, hang in there, and trust. Don’t ever push, or it could fall down on you.”

“Thanks, Bro! Night.” I gave him a hug and sisterly kiss good night.

I thought about it walking back across the street. I had become so comfortable acting like and being a girl, I didn’t even think about what I was doing anymore. I didn’t even question it when I gave a hug or kiss to someone. It just came automatically now. I looked in the mirror as brushed my teeth that night. I didn’t see Samuel anymore. All I saw was a happy girl.

Debbie flew in to see Carlson and spend time with me too. She brought her Mom’s wedding dress. Mom, Jane, Grandma, and I got her in front of the mirror and spent time deciding where to take it in and where to change it. Soon, I had it all pinned up. While they went into the kitchen, I went to work on sewing. Mary came in with Doug and they watched me work. Mary leaned into me and whispered in my ear, “Can’t wait to see you work on your own wedding dress!”

I looked back and said in a hushed tone, “You really think it will happen?”

“Oh yeah! You’re too beautiful to not get caught.” I grinned.

About twenty minutes later, I called Debbie in and she went in to change. The dress looked perfect and everyone was happy. We then broke out the patterns for the bridesmaid’s outfits. As we talked, that is when the rest of the story came out. Debbie’s Dad didn’t have a whole lot of money and she was doing everything she could to keep the cost down for him.

“You know, I am a pretty good cook too. We hadn’t gone over your menu, but, I know that I could do some really good food that is perfect for the time of day of your wedding. How many guests are coming?”

“We think it will be about two hundred.”

At that moment, Tommy and Connie arrived with their Mom. They were there to practice with me. “Tommy, do you think we can do some cooking for the wedding too?”

Grandpa came around the corner. “The church there has cooking facilities. And they have a walk in freezer. We could do some prep here, take it down there and just heat and serve.”

“Great idea Mr. Miller. Pips, you remember that Shepherd's pie you made for Agent Iris?”

“That is a really good idea, Tommy! How about that Debbie?”

For the next half an hour, Debbie, Tommy’s Mom, Connie, Tommy, and I sat down to talk turkey, beef, and chicken. Turns out that Tommy’s Mom once worked for a catering company as a receptionist during her college years. She knew some tricks for transporting the food and where to get supplies to package them. By the end of the evening, we had a plan. Even one for the wedding cake.

Grandma and Mom came in at the end and heard all that was happening. Mom looked at me and smiled. “Just so you know, you have three cooks now. I can handle the wedding cake too as well as supervise the cooking. I can call in a few favors from friends too.”

“Make that four. I want to help too. I enjoy working with Pips.” Grandma hugged me.

Debbie stopped for a moment and got a little teary eyed, “I really don’t want to be a burden guys. What you are doing is really nice. I want you to know that you don’t have to do it. This isn’t your wedding.”

I went up and hugged her, “Debbie, this is my heart talking. I want to do it. You have been as much of a sister to me as Jane. If you say no, my heart will break. Seeing you have a happy wedding day is the most beautiful painting I will ever see.” I began to cry. Mom, Grandma, and Connie joined me in the hug and cried too.

“Oh, hell Mom, they made me do it too!” Tommy joined the hug. Finally, so did Mrs. Hinks. Poor Debbie, took her two hours to stop smiling and crying. I stopped about half an hour later.

Grandma talked to me afterwards. “I love that you are helping her. It really is very kind of you.”

“Yeah, but in a weird sort of way, it is like I am having my own wedding without having to be in it.”

She smiled and hugged me. “I know what you mean.”

A knock came at the door shortly before we all were going to call it a day. Cat stood there with a couple of cardboard tubes and a big grin on his face. “Cheer up guys. You all look like you have been crying.”

Tommy patted him on the back, “Women, I will never understand them.”

“Tell the truth, Tommy, you were crying too.” Cat teased back.

“Yeah, I guess I was. Whatcha got there?”

“I hope, an amazing poster you all will like.”

“Now, before I show you them, the goal was to do a poster as though it were for a real event or business. I had a sample poster my instructor gave me for the Concours D’Elegance held in Pebble Beach. I used it for inspiration. They have trade marked the name, so I changed it to the ‘Tour De Vallée De Printemps, 1998.’”

Cat rolled out the poster. It showed Tommy holding a Tommy gun up with one hand and the other on my shoulder. He had his foot on the running board of the Runabout and looked fantastic in his zoot suit. I was adorable in my flapper dress. The Packard was in a driveway to an elegant mansion with a butler waiting at the door to open it for us.

Cat discussed costs and we ordered about five of them. Tommy ordered four. We all praised Cat on his skill. Tommy and I even agreed to do future modeling for him.

In the end, all agreed, Cat had outdone himself again. He took a much deserved bow and we applauded him.

Cat and I took Tommy over to show him the painting of me in the French impressionistic style. I could tell he was smitten by its beauty. “That is beautiful Cat! You are so talented.” But, what I noticed most is how Tommy was looking at the girl in the painting. It was dreamy. He had a smile on his face as he studied her and the scene. The painting touched his heart, I could tell.

Cat said, as we looked at the painting, “It helps when I have great models. I have to thank you both for being so patient and letting me sketch you. I know it must have been boring.”

Tommy laughed. “Are you kidding. I enjoyed the whole time. And getting to appear in a poster with a beautiful girl, well, that is the icing on the cake.” I blushed.

I dressed up extra nice and spent two hours getting ready for my next date with Tommy. He deserved my best. I went with a dress Mrs. Smith helped me buy online. It had a rich burgundy sweater top with a simple pleated plaid skirt. I also put on stockings. It was a sophisticated outfit. It went with my silver bracelets and black pumps. I brushed out my hair and began to notice the color changes near my roots. I was going to have to go in and have my highlights updated. But, I still looked good. I put on a rich red lipstick to go with my more mature look. I tweezed my eyebrows and worked on them. I did my nails and toenails. Then, at the last moment, I applied mascara to give my eyes a boost. On our date, we were going to see Parent Trap. When I got downstairs, Mom’s eyes bugged out at me. “Wow! You really are putting on the nines. Don’t you think that is a little much?”

Grandma piped up, “Let her. She has to make Tommy look good, Pamela. It isn’t fair to him if she does a mediocre job, is it? What is he going to learn if she shows up looking like a wet dish rag.”

“Thanks Grandma, that is why I did it. I think I should look my best for him. I feel he warrants my best.” Mom reluctantly nodded. I was grateful Grandma was there. I had the feeling Mom was about to send me back upstairs to dress down.

“You have to, Honey. Your Mom would have done the same just like any other girl.” She came up and hugged me giving Mom a look as if to say she was right. “If he is going to build a reputation, he needs you to be all girl too today.” Grandma said sympathetically. “And, frankly, I think you are learning how hard we women work to make men happy. But, I warn you, he may not even notice. Men are like that. Pity he won’t know how really sweet you look. And, I like that you didn’t dress sexy. That would have sent the wrong message.”

“I really can’t Grandma, since I technically don’t have real boobs.”

Mom relented. “That’s right, you aren’t dressing sexy, just sophisticated. Which really isn’t so bad. And Tommy is taking quite a risk dating you, isn’t he?”

Tommy’s jaw dropped when he and his Mom picked me up. “Wow! Pips, you really didn’t have to go all out, you know. It is just a movie. You could have gone in jeans. Now I feel grungy.”

I demurely responded, “That’s okay. I like looking pretty when I am with you. You don’t have to dress up for me. But you deserve my best too because you are doing your best for me in protecting me. And, I am not talking about how you dress.”

As he opened the door for me, I gave him a peck on the cheek. I then pretended to realize I left a little lipstick. I took out a kleenex out of my purse and cleaned his cheek. I giggled and said, “Guess, I am going to have to watch that.” I pretended to be embarrassed that I made the mistake, but secretly, I knew all along it was going to happen and wanted it to happen. He was blushing as I smoothed my skirt and sat in the car. He closed my car door and came around to the other side to join me.

We went to the food court. Tommy pulled my chair out and I smoothed my skirt and sat down. He politely took my order and went to get our meals. After about ten minutes, he returned with our meals. I had a small chef’s salad and iced tea. Tommy had a nice hamburger and fries with a coke.

“How do you think our dancing is coming?” Tommy inquired.

“It is beginning to look real good. Connie and I need to do our part, but you guys are really good. You have the routine down and watching you practice is a real joy. Oh, before I forget, Debbie told me that she may have access to the special shoes so you guys can do the lean. But, don’t count on it. It is being worked on.”

“Thank you, they are good team players. I think we will do well this football season. And, I must say, the training your brother gave me is really improving my game. I can’t thank him enough.”

“Robert is a good teacher. I am really glad you two met. I will be sure to let him know. And yes, I can video tape you during the game and send it to him.”

After the meal, we headed off to the movie. As is normal, I cried. I loved the ending. It was so romantic. And, there was one scene where I translated the French for Tommy. Even though he had been studying it with the French in Action tapes, he was just at the beginning stages. We set a schedule for him and me to study French together. I told him that with my help and my grandfather’s help, he could be so far along by the end of summer, he would have an easy A for eighth grade. I was so amazed with his tenacity to keep his GPA up even though he was going to be active in football.

Upon exiting the movie, he asked if I would like some ice cream. I agreed. And we found ourselves in the food court again. I asked him to get me a small strawberry yogurt. I was mindlessly watching people when I heard the chair next to me move. I turned expecting to see Tommy. Instead, to my great surprise, it was Grace. She sat down and looked me in the eye. My mind raced. The fact that she had been sitting with Dean when I last saw her was still on my mind. I was also worried if Dean or her saw us in the movie theater. I was petrified and frozen. Do I say hello and greet her.

As I was processing what I ought to do, with a heavy sigh, she said, “We need to talk, Jackie.”

Copyright © 2017 by AuP reviner

[Author's Note: Feel free to comment on the TV and Movie references I made. Lots of Easter Eggs there. ;-) -- AuP]

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