“Did you see the way they were looking at you in there?” Chris whispered surreptitiously as we stepped into the sunshine.
I was a little confused by her observation. I hadn’t noticed anything. Then again, I was fairly preoccupied with adjusting to the weight on my chest. “What d’you mean? Is there something wrong?” I replied, wondering whether mum had put one or both of my new breasts on upside down or something.
“Nothing at all,” said Megan, tightly hanging on to my arm and grinning up at me, her impish gaze, darting from my eyes to my breasts and back again.
“Then why were they looking at me?” I asked of no-one in particular.
Chris had unwittingly planted the seed of doubt in my head by telling me that people were looking at me. To me, even the slightest glance in my direction was a stare and whilst I should have realised it was just normal behaviour, plus I would probably have been recognisable from my pictures both in the papers and on the television - especially round here, I didn’t. From then on, in my head, it was a case of everybody was staring at me.
I tried to be invisible - to just fade into the scenery - but thanks to what Mum had welded to my chest, that was impossible. My new boobs wobbled most of the time and when they weren’t wobbling, they jiggled. It was most disconcerting, but that wasn’t the worst of it. They were quite a good deal larger than Chris’s, Jess’s or Megan’s and I could tell by Jess’s almost constant scowling, that my suddenly having bigger boobs than her, grated somewhat.
Despite my attempts to disappear into the background, I still felt hundreds - even thousands - of eyes on me, boring into the back of my head, sometimes staring openly, sometimes smiling and even waving, but always there.
“You alright?” Mum asked.
“Not really,” I told her. “People keep staring at me.”
“They’re not staring,” she scoffed.
“Yes they are,” I insisted with controlled patience, stopping and looking her straight in the eye as the others continued on down the road.
“Listen, Jamie. I think you’re over dramatising things a bit. People look at people. I don’t think they’re ’staring’, I just think you’re unused to your new breasts. I can understand that, but you’re a pretty girl, you’re going to get looked at. It’s one of those things you’ve got to get used to.”
I’ve got to get used to, eh?
How long was she expecting me to stay like this?
She had just referred to me as a girl - and a pretty girl at that. What was she playing at? I thought she was just supposed to be helping me to convince the others of the idea that I wasn’t a boy. If that was her idea of helping, I think it had taken a sharp left turn at ’enough’, and was heading straight for ‘way, way over the top’.
God alone knew what Dad was going to say about it, never mind the others who were going to see a girl who had suddenly ‘blossomed’ - or should that be ‘bosomed’ - in the space of a few short hours.
“Probably would have been better if I didn’t have these,” I muttered angrily, pointing at my chest.
“All girls have them,” Mum replied, casually. “You’re no different.”
“Not like these,” I growled. “Look. They’re huge.”
“They’re not huge. They were the smallest ones they make.”
“What was wrong with what I had before?”
“Those? You are joking aren’t you?”
“No,” I assured her - and I wasn’t. What I had before seemed much more the size of Megan’s, Chris’s or Jess’s, so I didn’t feel any different - at least visually. I felt they fitted me and I fitted with them - the girls that was.
“It was obvious they weren’t real,” she stated, folding her arms, tilting her head to one side and looking at me very critically indeed. “Those look much better.”
“And no-one’s going to notice that I went out with mole-hills and came back with mountains?”
She raised an eyebrow threateningly.
“It’s not like I don’t appreciate them, Mum,” I said, backpedalling rapidly. “But don’t you think these are a bit much?”
The threat-value of Mum’s expression increased ten-fold.
“Comparatively speaking, I mean,” I added quickly.
“I think they look much better than screwed up socks that didn’t even seem that convincing in the first place. If you’re going to do something, do it properly. That’s what your dad’s always saying.”
There was no reasoning with her and to make matters worse, she was quoting Dad - as if he had any say in any of this. I scowled and got on with trying to be invisible, crossing my arms over my now ample bosom to try and hide what felt like two family-sized igloos protruding from my ribs. We continued down the road to catch up with Jess and the others.
As we walked, I became increasingly aware of the stares - especially from the boys, who were unashamedly looking at my breasts, no matter how I tried to disguise them. Those horny bastards were staring at them. There was no denying that my boobs were attracting a lot of attention.
“What’s the matter?” asked Megan, linking arms with me.
“Oh, nothing,” I responded.
“Really?” she queried, evidently unconvinced.
“Well, it’s these tits. They’re so huge and everyone keeps looking at me.”
“Oh,” she said off-handedly. “You’ll get used to it. We get it all the time - with or without tits.”
“Yeah, but it’s making me feel so self conscious. I mean, I never thought it would come to this. I thought it would all be over by now.”
“Were you?” she asked. There was a note of disappointment in her voice.
“Well, yeah. I thought since our holiday was ruined, we’d head somewhere else and I could be James again.”
“Don’t you like being Jamie?”
“It’s not whether I like it or not. It’s just not right.”
“Are you saying that it’s not right because you don’t like it or because it’s what you think other people think?”
I had to stop and think there.
I did like being Jamie, because aside from Jess, no-one told me off, but was that all? It didn’t seem enough to go around pretending to be my sister’s sister instead of her brother.
“I see,” she said.
“You see what? I haven’t answered yet.”
“No, which means you had to think about it and if you have to think about it, there must be things you like. Don’t be embarrassed. I can understand how not getting shouted at or picked on can be appealing, but I think it’s more than that.”
“Are you suggesting I actually like being a girl?” I asked, my eyes going wide; partly by the thought of her seeing that I enjoyed being Jamie and partly because I’d raised my voice and I was afraid someone heard.
“I think so. It comes naturally to you and I think you find it easier than being a boy. You don’t seem to be trying so hard.”
“You’re serious aren’t you?”
“Well, after what we discussed in the bedroom, I mean you, me, Chris and Jess, I think so. Look, you really are very pretty and I’m not just saying that. You’re a bit awkward at the moment, but that’s because you’re not used to the new boobs, but don’t give up yet. It’s only wrong if someone finds out and it’s up to you to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
I tried to ignore the ’pretty’ comment and suspected that Megan was just being nice. I didn’t suppose she really meant what she said, but it had a curious effect on me.
It made me feel good.
In fact it made me feel very good.
We stopped at a café further down the road. Apparently Mum needed a coffee injection. She confessed that she hadn’t expected a shopping trip with four girls to have been such an experience. I wanted to tell her there were only three girls, but after the conversation followed by her ’pretty’ comment earlier, I didn’t think it wise.
With soft drinks - or coffee in Mum’s case - and sandwiches all round, we sat at a table and discussed the day’s purchases.
The girl’s first pulled out bikinis, holding each of them up for all to see. Mine was a one-piece, quite nice. It was one of those racing-type swimsuits; all shiny and black with the cutaway back.
“How come mine had to be a one piece?” I asked.
“Because,” Mum said quietly. “You have to have those things covered up.” She paused, looking at me as my mouth began moving, but before the sound could exit, she added; “And before you start, you had to have those things so that a) they would look like breasts and not screwed up socks and b) they wouldn’t disappear down round your waist like the socks would have done as soon as you went swimming and got wet.”
I blushed to the roots of my hair and quickly pulled out the small makeup kits we all got, to try and change the subject, but it was too late. The girls were all giggling - even mum.
Shortly afterwards, Mum went to pay and go to the ladies - though not necessarily in that order. While she was gone, Jess and Chris noticed some boys who were sitting at a table near us. They were comparing notes and Jess had claimed one with short blonde hair.
“You can have him,” said Chris. “I think his mate’s much better.”
“Go on. The old woman’s gone now,” whispered one of the boys, probably unaware that we could hear them.
“Er, I dunno,” another whispered, evidently unsure or unwilling.
“You’re never gonna know if you don’t, are you?”
The next thing I knew, the very one Jess had ’laid claim’ to, came right up to the table. She immediately went all doe-eyed.
“Hi,” she squeaked.
He smiled briefly and said “hi” back then immediately turned his attention to me. “Er, hi,” he said nervously. “Aren’t you, um, that is, I, er, saw you on the telly, didn’t I?”
I was surprised at my reaction; calm and not in the least self-conscious. “Did you?” I asked, looking directly at him.
“Er,” he said, shuffling even more nervously from one foot to the other and nodding. “Yeah.”
“And, like, did you really save all those people?”
“Not really,” I told him, wondering how many ’all’ might have been. “My sister, Jess, Chris and Megan really got the people to safety. I just went in and got the cat.”
“There was a cat too?”
“Ye - es,” I said, wondering whether he actually paid any attention to the reports in either the paper or on the television. Then I realised, he was a typical ’lad’ and to have expected him to have actually paid attention was asking rather a lot. “A cat named Joey. A right little so-and-so.”
“Right,” he said, nodding again.
I could see right there that he wasn’t really that interested in why I’d been on the television, just that I had. I also noticed that his mates had sidled up to him and were starting to gawp at me over his shoulder, nudging him in the ribs.
“Oy, gerroff!” he exclaimed and his mate mouthed something to him. “Oh, er, yeah.”
“Um, like, er…” The sentence sort of drifted into nothing as he shuffled about beside me.
“He wants to know if you’ll go out with him,” his mate supplied, ending with a snort, while the others - except for the guy concerned - laughed into their hands.
I don’t know why, but I felt a serious kick in the shin accompanied by a scowl from Jess and an elbow in the ribs from Megan, who didn’t scowl, but pouted, which in my experience - short as it was - seemed eminently more dangerous.
“Ow! Er - ” I began, but it was all cut short.
“I don’t think so,” Mum informed him gently. “I’m afraid we’re only here on holiday and are staying quite a way outside of town - which reminds me, time to go, girls. Grab your things.”
We left the boys and headed back to where we’d parked the car with Jess’s scowls burning a hole in the back of my head and Megan’s pout big enough to sit on.
What had I done?
* * *
Back at Cliffside, I went to my room and flopped on the bed, letting the bags scatter around me.
“I hope you’re pleased,” Jess growled from the doorway.
“Pleased? Why would I be pleased? What’s going on? Neither you nor Megan said anything to me after we left the café. What did I do?”
“What did you do?” she asked, her voice going up at least half an octave. “You flirted with that boy in the café even though you knew I’d called dibs on him and what’s worse, you did it in front of Megan. How d’you think she felt?”
“Flirted? What do you mean, flirted?”
“You know exactly what I mean. The way you looked at him, the way you spoke to him, everything.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Like hell you don’t.”
“I don’t,” I called as Jess stormed off.
I really didn’t understand what I’d done.
I left everything exactly where it was and sloped off outside, heading for the stables and a friendly - if long - face.
The grey mare came straight to me and nuzzled her lips into my neck, which tickled slightly and would have made me giggle if it hadn’t been for the fact that I was feeling so low. I reached round and cuddled back and she snickered very quietly and gently.
“What is it with everyone?” I asked, knowing I wasn’t going to get a response. “I can’t seem to do anything without them thinking I’m going out of my way to hurt them.”
“Perhaps it’s that they feel threatened by you?”
I let go of Valentina’s head and spun round so fast I nearly fell over. I wound up staring into Chris’s eyes. “Threatened?”
“Well, you got the boy Jess was after and I’m not sure what Megan’s up to, but I think she’s pretty hung up on you - has been since the first time she met you. I think that’s because you look like Jess.” She shrugged. “Of course, I’m just guessing.”
“You mean - ” I didn’t want to say it, but it made perfect sense. “Megan might be - ”
“Gay?” Chris cut in, patting Valentina’s face. She turned back to me and nodded solemnly.
“That wasn’t what I was going to say, but I suppose. Why would she be into me then?”
“Have you looked at yourself?”
“Well, yes of course, but I’m a boy.”
“Not right now you’re not.”
“Look, I may be dressed like this, but underneath I’m still James.”
“Hmm,” she said, looking very sceptical.
“I am!” I exclaimed.
Chris turned away and concentrated on Valentina again. “Whatever, but you could have fooled me. In fact, I think you’ve fooled just about everyone.”
“Just about?” I asked. That seemed to mean that not everyone believed I was a girl and could even mean that some might have known that I wasn’t.
“Well, alright. Everyone - including you.”
“Me? Don’t be silly. I know what I am. This is only a holiday thing.”
“Okay; whatever. Look, I just wanted to tell you that your mum wants to see you before you have a shower and put something nice on. I think we’re all going out to dinner somewhere nice.”
“Oh cool,” I said giving Valentina a quick pat and a kiss. “Looks like I’m going to wear that dress after all.”
Chris looked at me, her brow furrowed.
“Nothing,” she replied rolling her eyes and shaking her head.
* * *
“Ah there you are,” Mum said.
I was pretty certain what this little chat was going to bring: “Behave yourself,” “don’t argue with Jess and her friends” etc, etc. I got ready for it.
“How are you now?” she asked very gently and with noticeable concern. “Are you getting used to your new er, ’attributes’?”
I wasn’t ready for that at all. It was like the ’chat’ we had in the paddock, I wasn’t prepared for that either.
“They’re alright I suppose. They’re a lot to get used to, but as Megan pointed out, I’ll just have to get used to being looked at.”
“How are the girls taking your change?”
“Megan’s not speaking to me after what happened in the café,” I told her. “And Jess is absolutely livid that I should have flirted with the boy she’d laid claim to, but it wasn’t like that, honest, Mum. I wasn’t flirting. I mean, per - lease. I’m a boy for God’s sake.”
Mum looked at me a bit strangely then, but shook it off.
“That kind of rivalry is always happening between friends and especially siblings when potential boy or girlfriends come into view. It would happen even if the boy had been a girl and you’d all been boys.”
“So…” I began, trying to get my head round that last bit. “It would have happened no matter what?”
“Probably,” she replied. “Now, in light of the friction between you, Jess and Megan, I’d like you to come and get your hair and makeup done here,” she told me, without the least trace of anything resembling a stern talking to.
“Why? Do I have to wear makeup?” I whinged.
“Of course you do. You might be able to get away without it during the day, but you’re not going out in your nice new dress without it and I want to do it because I don’t want your sister or the others turning you into something I’m not happy with.”
“She, I mean ’they’ wouldn’t,” I assured her.
“Oh no?” That famous rise of the eyebrow told me she didn’t believe me. “Look what happened last time.”
I couldn’t argue with that.
“So I need you to go and shower and change. Come back quickly so I can do your hair and makeup.”
“Okay,” I said and gave Mum a hug and a kiss. “Thanks, Mum.”
“I really am very proud of you, you know.” She smiled at me and then turned me to face the door, patted me a couple of times on the bum and said, “Now, hurry along there and make sure you wear clean underwear.”
“Yes, Mum,” I called as I left. I felt a warm fuzzy feeling all the way down to the pit of my stomach and couldn’t help grinning - probably quite stupidly.
When I got to the caravan, I saw that the door to the shower was open and jumped in, locking it behind me.
“Who’s in the bathroom?” Jess shouted. “I bagsed it first.”
“Tough titties, sis. I wasn’t here when you did that, was I?”
“Ooooh! I HATE you!”
“Can’t hear you!” I called over the top of the sound of the shower as the hot water ran over my body; cascading over my boobs and dripping off the very slightly raised nipples. I could have watched it for hours, but the banging on the door was enough to bring me out of my reverie.
“Come on, we’ve all got to use it you know.”
“Pass me a towel and you can have it,” I called back.
There was the sound of scampering feet disappearing then as quickly as they disappeared, they got louder as they approached and were followed by a polite knocking on the door.
I opened up and poked my head round to see Chris’s face beaming at me.
“Quickly, before Jess comes back,” she whispered conspirationally.
I wrapped the towel round me - just like I’d seen Mum do thousands of times before and was out before you could say Jack Robinson.
“Wow! They really do look real,” Chris said as she closed the door. I looked down. The towel had covered everything and cleavage was clearly visible. I hoiked the towel up a bit further to cover them properly and blushed.
“Oops!” I said, but thought Chris was right. You could hardly see the join between me and the boobs. They must have been expensive.
Moments later when I was drying myself off and admiring my new and very realistic tits in the mirror, I heard Jess go past.
“Isn’t he finished yet?” she grumbled. “There’ll be no hot water left. Jamie!!”
“Wassup?” I asked, poking my head out of my room.
“Looks that way.”
“Then who’s in the shower?”
“That’s just brrrr-illiant!” she muttered as she stormed off back to her room, slamming the door behind her and continuing to mutter and grumble.
I chuckled to myself as it’s usually her who’s hogging the bathroom at home and can spend untold amounts of time there. This was a bit of payback.
I took the dress out of the bag and off the hanger, laying it neatly on the bed. The material was kind of satin-like, smooth and soft to the touch. A strange shiver ran up my spine as I prepared to put it on. I’d already tried it on briefly in the shop, but this was for real. In the shop, it felt surreal.
Did I really want to go through with this?
Could I really go through with this?
After the conversations earlier with Mum and Megan, I felt about as able as I was ever going to be. I actually felt kind of excited to be going out dressed up. I hardly ever got to do that at home, for the simple reason that all I had were a couple of pairs of trousers which I wore for school and a pair which were for best - “Weddings and funerals”, as Dad said.
To go with those, I basically had school shirts, sweatshirts, jumpers or t-shirts - provided they were clean and not torn or had any kind of slogan emblazoned across either the front or rear. There didn’t seem much point in anything else as Mum and Dad reckoned I’d grow out of nice things too quickly.
Apparently, that wasn’t the case with me.
So, my wardrobe consisted of casuals: the aforementioned tops and a pair of trousers to make them ’smart’ casuals. I can remember Jess having a new dress pretty much for each special occasion - not that there were that many of them - while I made do with what I had. Mind you, Dad’s stuff wasn’t so different, though he did own a couple of suits, but I didn’t feel left out in any way.
When you come to think about it though, this clothes thing is a real downer for a lot of blokes. Shoes come basically in two colours - brown or black, unless they’re sports shoes, in which case, they can be pretty much any colour. Trousers aren’t that much better, although you could add blue, beige and grey to those; when you think of the variety women have to choose from, I think men’s clothes suck.
Anyway, after my conversation with Megan, I knew I was in a very privileged position; one where I could sample the entire lifestyle - well, okay, maybe not entire lifestyle exactly, but I could certainly live life as a female for a short while, which is something many crave, yet for one reason or another cannot have. There were still things I was afraid of, but they were all well up the road and for the time being, I had made my mind up to go with the flow; to let what is, be and meet what was to come when it arrived.
I think what made me change my mind was the addition of the boobs. Up until then, I could take the falsies off and have some ’James’ time, but after they’d been fixed to my chest, Jamie had to be there all the time, James was gone and it was just a case of getting used to it. However, I don’t suppose I’d have arrived at that conclusion without Megan’s help.
Sitting there on the bed, absently stroking the soft cotton fabric of the dress, eyes unfocussed as I considered everything, I reached down for one of the bags of things that Mum had bought me at the shops and took out the pack of knickers. I read the label.
5 pack Panty – multicolour
The clear cellophane wrapper clearly showed five pairs of knickers, each neatly rolled to display a tiny bow in the centre of the waistband. Each pair was a different colour, which made me laugh; an ironic kind of laugh, because prior to then, if I’d been caught messing with either Mum’s or Jess’s underwear, I’d have got myself into more trouble than I’d have known what to do with and if I’d have asked for some of my own, God only knows what would have happened.
This time I was being positively encouraged in fact, told to wear them. I was being encouraged to wear things that before I wouldn’t have been allowed to be seen dead in. The colours were lemon yellow, pale pink, mint green, baby blue and lavender, and that meant that at least three of the five colours alone would have been a complete no-no. I opened the pack and drew out the baby blue ones, since it occurred to me that those would go with the dress and laughed again.
Was I actually giving thought to matching underwear to outerwear?
I unrolled the small garment and nearly died on the spot, my face becoming flushed as sweat beaded on my forehead.
“Megan!” I called and waited, but there was no answer.
I continued to look at the undergarment, feeling the colour drain from my face.
After a few moments, no doubt debating whether she was talking to me or not, she arrived. “What d’you want?”
She walked up to the bed, silent, looking.
“You know, those breasts aren’t bad looking at all,” she said. “And with a little makeup round the edges - maybe a little rouge on the nips, they’d look totally real.”
“It’s not the tits,” I said quietly. I held up the underwear and I’m sure my face was white.
“Very nice, now what’s the problem?”
“Which way round do these go?” I asked in a very small voice.
“Well, duh!” she admonished and snatched them from my hands.
There was a short pause - which I expected.
“Are you going to wear them - er it?”
“I have to. I don’t have anything else and Mum was fairly positive about me wearing clean underwear.”
She looked at me, holding the pale blue thong before her and moving it around. Then her mouth widened into a very big grin. “You are going to wear them aren’t you?”
“What’s the matter?” asked Chris, coming in, her hair bedraggled and a brush stuck in it, which she was feverishly trying to pull back out. She looked me up and down. “They really do look good you know.”
I ignored her remark, my issue with the thong my current problem. The idea of modesty, having my false tits on display to my friends didn’t seem to be a particularly high priority.
“Nothing,” said Megan, her face turning instantly innocent as she quickly hid the blue ’thing’ behind her.
“Don’t give me that,” Chris admonished. “I know you too well. What’s going on?”
“Alright…” Megan said, dramatically producing the blue thong thing, dangling it before her friend.
Chris’s eyes went wide. “Wow. Does your mum know you bought these?”
I shook my head. “It just said panties on the label and anyway,” I said with a shrug. “She paid for them.”
“But you are going to wear it aren’t you?”
“Wow!” she said with some awe. “I’d be hard pressed to get what I’ve got covered by that. I don’t know how you’re going to cover that!”
“What?!!” I spluttered, having neglected to realise I wasn’t just topless, I was completely naked and on display to both Megan and Chris, both of whom were looking on inquisitively. “Oh,” I said, blushing furiously and doing my best to close my legs whilst surreptitiously tucking the offending appendage between them, out of sight and, I hoped, out of mind.
“Hey,” said Megan poking around at the thong. “The gusset here is like a little pocket. D’you think you can get your um, wassname in there?”
I looked and blushed more, snatching the thong from Megan and telling them to bugger off.
“I was only trying to help,” Megan said with massive a pout.
“Some people are never grateful,” said Chris sagely, turning before she left the room and flashing me a wink.
“Oh shit!” I sighed, idly toying with underpants that seemed no bigger than a postage stamp. I stood up, holding them up against me and Chris was right, it did seem a little optimistic that I would fit all of me inside and looking at what appeared to be a tiny little pocket to fit my bits in seemed idiotically hopeful.
But I gave it a go.
Trouble was, the thought of putting something on that I’d only seen busty page three models in the tabloids wearing, gave me hot flushes and an unseemly amount of interest from the very item I was hoping would stay small - if you know what I mean.
It took some time, but I managed to get myself under control - although ’how’ is not the important part. The sensation of the material sliding between my bum cheeks and right up to my - well, you get the picture - was a little weird, but I kept going. I figured that if so many wear them, how bad can they be?
Eventually I managed not only to keep ’wossname’ under control, but also got it tucked - barely, but tucked - neatly away and I stood before the mirror.
“Holy crap!” I wheezed.
“Figured them out - ” Megan asked as she breezed into my room and froze, her jaw hovering just a fraction of an inch above the floor. “Fuck me!”
I couldn’t help giggling. My immediate thought was “yes please”, but I kept that to myself. However, more amusing was the fact that it was the first time I had heard her swear and with the look on her face, her eyes out on stalks as she looked at me in nothing but a baby blue thong, I got the most amazing rush. “You like?” I asked, batting my eyelashes, turning and looking slightly over one shoulder and making a half-hearted attempt to cover my breasts.
“Like? Like?” She didn’t answer but ran, leapt and virtually wrapped herself around me, gluing her mouth to mine and never mind tonsil hockey, I wondered whether she could tell what I had for breakfast. I can tell you that that thong was not the most comfortable of things to wear during that little exchange.
“I’ll take that as a yes.”
“We-ell, I don’t know,” she said. “You were flirting with that boy in the café, weren’t you?”
“I wasn’t, honest. I wouldn’t even know how to flirt, you should know that.”
“Maybe, but don’t do it again.”
With that, she glued herself to my lips again.
“Um,” I struggled, breathlessly. “Can you help me with my dress, please?”
Within minutes, my breasts were encased in their brassiere and I was gently pulling my new dress up my legs, over my hips and then slipping my arms through the narrow straps, turning to allow Megan to pull up the zip.
The dress fairly clung to all the right places and made me look as though I had a much more feminine figure than I actually did. It was close fitting to the hips whereupon it flaired slightly to the hem, which ended about four inches above the knee.
“What d’you think?” I asked, twirling to the left and right before the mirror.
The dress was shorter than I had remembered, but it wasn’t so short that I was in danger of displaying my undercarriage to all and sundry. I felt a little giddy actually; not from the twirling, but because I could feel the way the soft material brushed whisper-like across my thighs as I moved and when I spun, the skirt flaired out and it felt amazing. Yes, amazing or better still, electrifying.
“I’m speechless, Megan said huskily.
“I take it that’s good?”
“Oh, it’s good alright,” she said shaking her head. “How are you feeling?”
“Wicked,” I replied, grinning from ear to ear. “I’m really looking forward to this.”
“Do you want help with makeup and stuff?”
“Thanks, but Mum wants to do it.”
“She does?” She seemed surprised.
“Yeah, well, she says she can’t trust Jess and we didn’t think you were talking to me, so she offered. Anyway, look upon it as a surprise.”
She clapped her hands together gleefully. “I like surprises!” she said and reached up and grabbed me for one last knee-trembling kiss.
On the way back to Mum, I couldn’t help wondering what Dad would think of all this. I was fairly certain he’d go white when he saw me in that dress. It wasn’t as if it was revealing or anything, but it was after all, a dress.
* * *
Mum was very business-like when I got back to their room.
“I thought I told you to be quick,” she said.
“I’m sorry. I had a bit of trouble.”
Oh, fine.” I replied, resisting the urge to pick at the thong and deciding that to tell her about it would probably not be wise. She wouldn’t even let Jess wear thongs and heaven alone knows what she’d have thought about me wearing them.
“I wish we’d got you a haircut,” she said, pulling my hair this way and that.
“Ow, easy,” I whined.
“Well, I have to try and make a silk purse out of this sow’s ear.”
“Don’t sugar-coat it eh, Mum. Just go right ahead and say what you mean.”
“You know what I mean. Anyway, it’s no good. There’s no way I’m going to be able to do anything with this. Go change back into your casuals, we’re going out.”
“But Mum,” I whined. “We can’t cut it. I’m trying to grow it.”
“Not today you’re not. Now scram.”
That’s my Mum all over. Once she gets an idea in her head, that’s it. Not Dad, me, Jess - anyone can stop her and I was yanked up by the wrist and almost dragged outside and shoved towards the caravan.
“What are you doing back here and what’s happened to your hair?” Megan asked, immediately smoothing it this way and that to try and bring some semblance of order to the mop on my head.
“Mum’s got this idea that we’re going to the hairdressers.”
“Ooh,” she enthused. “Can I come?”
“I don’t know. You’d best ask Mum.”
Moments later with me in my jeggings and a t-shirt, all four of us headed out towards the car.
“What are you all doing here?” Mum asked.
“If Jamie’s going to have her hair done, we should be there,” Jess announced pointedly.
“But - ”
“Alright. Get in.”
The five of us clambered into the car and Mum drove like our lives depended upon it. There wasn’t a sound from any of us as we sat there, Jess, who’d bagged shotgun in the front and the rest of us, huddled together holding each other’s hands as we sped towards town.
“Does she always drive like that?” Chris asked as we got out in the car park.
We walked into the salon; a place called ’Simon’ and we were told to sit down while Mum spoke to the receptionist. Both of them were quietly talking and every now and then, one, other or both of them would look over at me. I felt like I was being sized up for an auction or something.
Mum came and sat next to me, took out her mobile and called Dad.
“We might be a little later than I’d hoped… No, we’re at Simon’s, the hairdressers… No it’s perfectly alright… Jamie will not come back looking like a dog’s dinner. I’ll see you shortly.”
The five of us waited until eventually, the woman that Simon was attending left.
“Would you like to come over,” lisped the short, dark-haired man who was the salon’s namesake. “Don’t I know you?” he asked, his fingertips resting gently on his chin. “No, don’t tell me; I never forget a face.”
I looked at him as he fussed round me with the gown.
“I know I know you from somewhere,” he said, actually looking somewhat exasperated.
“It might have been from the television.”
“No, I’d have remembered that.”
“Possibly. Oh well,” he said as he picked up a comb and his scissors. “I’m sure it will come to me. Now, then young lady, what can we do for you today?”
“Well, I really wish I could have hair like my sister. I’m trying to grow it,” I told him looking at him in the mirror.
He turned. “Which one’s - ah yes.” He turned and looked back at me, his face straight. “I’m afraid I don’t cut hair any longer.”
I stared at his reflection and his face showed not the tiniest amount of mirth, yet on mine, numerous emotions and thought patterns flickered across until finally I got it.
“Oh ha, ha, ha,” I congratulated him and his mouth turned upwards in a huge grin.
“The old ones are the best,” he said. “Now, I think your short-haired friend has the best cut, but yours should be slightly different. Maybe we could give you a heavier fringe?”
“Sounds okay to me. I’ll leave it to you.”
“Well, I’d like to put in some colour,” he said, looking round at Mum.
“Much as I’d love to see that, maybe another time. We have to get back to Cliffside.”
“That’s it!” Simon said with a huge grin. “You’re that girl aren’t you? You know, the one they’ve called the Cliffside Heroine.”
“Well, well, well. Someone really famous in my salon at last.”
Within forty minutes, I had been shampooed, cut, styled and blown dry. Like Megan’s cut, mine was a bit of a pixie cut, where the fringe swept across my left eye. “What d’you think?” I asked, feeling like a million quid.
“Blimey,” said Jess. “You look just like that girl off Bourne - er, what’s her name?”
“Styles,” said Chris. “Julia Styles.”
“Wow, yeah.” agreed Megan. “The hair’s not the same, but I never noticed it before. You do look like her.”
Mum beamed at me. “See? Much better.”
“Make sure you bring her back, won’t you, Mrs. Powers. The colouring’s on me.”
“Thank you Simon,” I said and gave him a hug. Boy could he blush too - even more than me.
Back in the car and we were all pretty animated with the coming events planned for the evening. None of us girls knew what was happening and if they did, none of them were letting on. Even Jess was turned round for most of the trip back so that we could all four of us chat.
“Er, excuse me, ladies,” Mum said, as she made a left turn. “But we don’t have that much time now, so I’m going to have to ask for your assistance in helping to get Jamie ready. Can I count on it?”
“No problems, Mum,” said Jess. “Chris is about the best with nails, so maybe she can do that while Megan or I can do her toes?”
“Sounds like a plan,” Mum agreed and within minutes, we were pulling up into the car park of Cliffside.
We piled into the caravan and the whole place was a complete buzz of excitement and I was the centre of attention. It was odd, but odd in a really nice way. I’d never had so much attention that wasn’t something to do with having done something wrong, or having been dropped in the brown, smelly stuff by someone else - or being picked on. Jess was in a strange mood too. She seemed to be taking all of what was going on in surprisingly good part and I was just waiting for the real Jess to show through.
I’d just got back into my dress and sprayed under my arms with some antiperspirant when Mum turned up.
“Come on then girls, let’s get to it.”
Mum concentrated on my eyebrows - which I wished she hadn’t. Each one of those innocuous little hairs brought tears to my eyes as she began yanking them out.
“Stop being such a girl,” she said.
Despite my pain, I couldn’t help but laugh.
Mum, Jess, Chris and Megan whistled round me like a collective tornado with brushes, powders, liquids, creams and Christ knows what else being applied here, there and everywhere.
Soon we were all finished and ready to trundle back to the main house. I was just about to leave and Megan was getting impatient, but Jess was hanging back. I wondered if this was the time that I found out what was really on her mind.
She spoke briefly to Megan who gave me a kiss on the cheek and meekly disappeared, leaving Jess and I alone.
“This is where you start the threats I suppose,” I said.
“No,” she replied.
“Then what’s going on, Jess. A leopard doesn’t change her spots you know.”
“It’s just that I’ve been getting really jealous of you.”
“Jealous? Me? Why?” I was gobsmacked.
“Because my friends weren’t happy about the idea of you being here and now they talk to you more than they do to me.”
I could see that being a bone of contention. “You want me to push them away?”
“No,” she said quickly. “Of course not. It’s just that when I looked at what you were doing, I realised how brave you were being. Mum seems to have taken this very seriously and I thought that any moment you were going to back out.”
The thought had crossed my mind on several occasions.
“But you didn’t. Here you are looking every inch a girl and you’re not are you?”
I didn’t answer, not that I had to. It was a rhetorical question apparently.
“You could have caused heaps of trouble and yet you’ve kept going no matter what’s been thrown at you and I have to admit, I really like Jamie. I can see what the others see in you and I know why they like you.”
I was starting to get a lump in my throat.
“The truth is I wish you really were my sister, not my brother. I think he has issues and even though you must have so many more than him right now, you’re still really jolly.”
The tears were brimming.
“Some of the things I’ve said and done make me feel a complete bitch. I mean, I’ve had fourteen years to get used to being me and in the same length of time, I think you’re only just getting used to it and that’s only because of this. God knows what Mum’s doing, but I don’t think it’s wrong. If you do go back to being James, don’t think I won’t still feel like this either. I’ve seen a side of you I think more should see.”
She paused and the lump in my throat was about fit to burst.
“Jamie, I love you and I’m really sorry for everything that I’ve done. Can you forgive me?”
I just broke at that point. In fourteen years, Jess has never once apologised to me like that. In fact, I’d be hard-pressed to think of a time that she’s said sorry and meant it. Right there in that room in the caravan, the tears flowed and all I wanted to do was hug my little sister and cry on her shoulder.
“Yes. Yes of course I can.”