SoulMates Part Ten: Failure of a Scene

Next Part Eleven: Rebirth
Previous Part Nine: The Bostonian Scenario

Chapter 24: The Final Test

And I was transformed twice more that day. By the time we sat down for dinner, I was rigged out in a navy blue silk power suit with a moderate length brunette wig, modest two inch heels that I could navigate in fairly well and low key makeup and jewelry. I was the quintessential business woman and would not have been out of place in the offices of my own corporate headquarters. In fact, I was becoming somewhat desensitized to the whole thing. The ladies had teased me, but it had been in fun for the most part. Only once had I taken offence, and that had elicited an immediate apology for going too far. I had grown to like each of the ladies over the day. Even their little disciplines (I had gotten my mouth washed out for unladylike language and been hand spanked on my pantied bottom a couple of times) had not been bad. Parts of it had even been fun, and all of it had been new and interesting, but I was ready to get home, and asked Maria about those arrangements.

On a signal from Maria, the other ladies stood en masse and quietly left us alone. Maria also stood, and then beckoned me back to the sitting room where the day had started. I thought I would be going into the changing room again, but she asked me to be seated, instead. I sat, maintaining my ladylike pose for a while longer, but becoming more concerned about getting to the airport in time for my flight every minute.

"You are not flying home, Natalia."

"What??" In my amazement, I did not use the female voice I had been taught that day. "Like hell!" I stood and headed to the changing room. It was empty. I turned back to Maria in confusion.

"Natalia!!" Her voice had steel in it, again, and the merry grin had disappeared. "Sit down. now!" I sat. "Your Mistress has instructed me to tell you that you are about to embark on a go-no go test. You will please explain that so I know that you understand what she meant." In utter shock, I stared at Maria. I could not believe this. "Natalia, I asked you a question. Please answer it."

Swallowing the words I wanted to say to express my shock and anger, I did as she requested, explaining Monique's special tests from which not even my safeword would protect me.

"Just so, Natalia. Now. All of your clothes have been express mailed to Monique, along with your wallet, keys and other personal effects. You will leave here tonight wearing what you have on, and you will report to your Mistress, again, dressed as you are, upon your arrival home tomorrow. Your airline reservation has been canceled. You will go home by way of the red eye AmTrak train that leaves from Boston in an hour. You will have private roomette, but no toilette facilities so you will need to use the public room.

"Natalia, I told you that your Mistress enjoys taking cross dressed males out into public places. Your Mistress wants you to get the hurdle your first foray into public in woman's clothing out of the way so that she may pursue more advanced training with you."

I gave up all pretence of being a woman. I stood and paced the room, almost shaking with emotion. I turned on Maria who sat calmly and without apparent concern for her safety. "I cannot believe you are a party to this travesty, Maria. I trusted you." I was speaking slowly, breathing deeply, trying to control the anger I was feeling at this betrayal.

"Oh, come now, Natalia. You will pass easily. I would not have accepted the test for you unless I was sure of you. I told Monique that if you could not pass, I would send you home as a male. You will be fine, dear. Just remember to modulate your voice." She handed me a purse. "There is fifty dollars for cab fare to Monique's house, your driver's license, which I hope you won't need, your ticket for the train, some touch up cosmetics and a razor. Oh yes, and two very feminine romance novels that you will be quizzed on tomorrow by your Mistress."

The anger had flared to near total rage. "And what about my clothes, my credit cards, the five hundred dollars in traveler's cheques that I had when I arrived here?" My voice was in that lowest, most quiet register that sends even my best friends looking for safe cover.

"All gone to Monique, I am afraid." she said. "They will be there waiting for you when you arrive at her house." Her total lack of concern tripped me over the edge.

"That is robbery and felony grand theft. I could have you sent to jail. I could have this whole place shut down around your ears."

She was not in the least fazed by my furious stance. "First, you would have to do it in women's clothes, and identify yourself as a man. Cops do have a problem about other men in drag, don't they? Secondly, who would believe that we did such a thing? You have no proof, only your word against ours. And Monique would be so upset when I called her about how naughty you were being."

She thought she had me. I looked at the modern digital phone, sitting beside the antique settee, looking so very out of place. I stood and walked over to the settee, sat down and picked up the phone. "I have played games with subs for many years, dear. I don't fall for bluffs, Natalia." Maria said with calm authority.

I pressed the button that activated the speaker phone. "Who's bluffing? Did you know that your new District Attorney is gay? That he won election in Catholic Boston despite his orientation? Made national news. He is also a known workaholic." I dialed a number I had memorized before leaving for Boston. Maria was watching me with avid curiosity in her eyes, but no other emotion evident. She was in absolute control and knew it.

Or so she thought.

"District Attorney's Office" came the tinny voice in the phone speaker.

"Yes," I answered aloud in my normal voice. This is Commander Nathan Evans, is District Attorney Murphy there, please?"

"Just a minute, please. He is here with me working on a case. I will see if he can come to the phone." Quiet ensued, filling the small darkening, tension filled room. "Nathan!!" a new voice boomed from the phone. "You son of a sea snipe, how the hell are you, man??!? Where the hell are you, roomie? I have not seen you since, well hell, since I got booted out of the Navy."

"I am in Boston, Pat, but I have been tied up on business and I am about to head home. I just wanted to see how you were."

"Not bad, Nate. How are you? You still working for the beltway bandit?"

"No, not anymore. Changed jobs. They had a problem with my definition of integrity. I had a problem with their intrinsic honesty."

A bark of laughter erupted from the phone speaker. "Fools. Hell, man, if you told me the sky had turned the sky had gone green and orange stripe, I would go get my camera to record that for posterity. Your word has always been gold. They should have known better." The voice went quiet momentarily. "You don't need a hand with a new job do you, Nate? I still owe you, Nate. Not one of our so called friends stood by me when I came out of the closet and got canned from the Navy. Anything I can do to help?"

I started to answer when Maria stood to leave the room. "Well, not on the job front, Pat, but I may need a ride later, if I can't catch the next flight home. Will you be there for a while?"

"All night, Nate. Just call."

Maria came back into the room carrying a cardboard box as I thanked Pat, told him I would call back if I needed him and hung up. She sank back into her chair and looked at me with now guarded eyes. She was soberly solemn, no longer triumphant and maybe, just a bit frightened. "You do know the DA."

"Yes, and he would protect me and he could hurt you." She nodded absently, her attention seemingly fixed on the contents of the box she held.

She sighed and began emptying the box. In it were male clothes, two video cassettes, four rolls of film, a key and an envelope. "Your stuff is gone. We shipped it out while you were in with John Q. since it was then that we were sure we could get you to pass successfully. I do not want any trouble with your DA friend, Mr. Evans. I have a nice business doing something that I enjoy and that harms no one. I do not care to be the second coming of the Mayflower Madame."

She pushed the clothes over to me. "You can go change and I will call Monique and tell her the stuff got shipped out by mistake. The key unlocks the waist harness. All my restraints and locks use exactly the same key for safety reasons, so the one that I shipped to Monique won't be necessary." She looked utterly defeated, and strangely, that bothered me almost as much as the deception she and Monique had played out on me did.

"You may still be punished at Monique's, you know. She was sure you would be able to pass easily as a female and will probably think you did not apply yourself adequately to your assigned tasks, but you won't have to face the train trip home dressed as a woman. Monique only imposed the go-no go if I decided you would pass easily."

I held the key in my hand, studying it intently. "And you think I could have? Passed that is."

Maria gave a decidedly unladylike snort of disgust. "I said you would, dammit. I do not send men out to be really hurt, Mr Evans, either personally or professionally, sir. Regardless of what you may think of me at this time, I am a caring person. I like the men I train." She tossed her ash blonde hair in a defiant move, her brown eyes flashing in anger. "Hell, I even like you. If I agreed to perpetuate this farce, it was damn well because you would have passed and passed easily. You are unusually graceful for a male, probably from all the running you do, and you surprised all of my ladies with how well you assimilated the instruction. If we had more time, we might even have been able to make you quite pretty, instead of merely handsome."

"Now, would you please go change? Vicki is getting you an airline reservation, but you have to leave in fifteen minutes or you won't make it."

Go-no go. I thought for a few moments. What was it Maria had asked me earlier? "Do you care enough for Monique the woman to answer this special, private need of Monique the Mistress?" Did I? Integrity again reared its head. It was a go-no go test, and I had agreed to such testing. Maria knew her business, she knew me and what I could do. I decided I knew Maria well enough to know she meant what she said about caring. I also decided, that I could not decline the test with my personal honor intact. I had promised.

I picked up the extra envelope, counted out two hundred dollars, and set the money aside. I might need that. "What are those?" I asked, pointing to the cassettes and film.

Maria gave a sardonic grin. "Graduation pictures. Everything you did today was videotaped and photographed by hidden cameras located throughout the school. We had not sent them off to Monique yet because we were waiting to capture your grand, triumphant departure for posterity before packaging them up. I figured you might get upset about them when Monique used them to tease you. I do not want you to decide to set your friend on me as payback."

I gathered my strength. Damn Monique and her games. "You don't have to worry, Maria. You and your ladies are in no danger from me. I won't sic Pat on you for this."

Her head jerked up and hope flared in her brown eyes. "You mean that? If we get you home by plane in those things" she pointed to the sweatshirt and jeans on the table. "You won't get him involved with this?"

I shook my head and her face fell again. Quickly I moved to try and comfort her. "No, no, you did not understand. Look, I did not handle that well, but in my defense, I am still off balance. You have my word that I will take no action against you or your school. What I meant was that I am going to complete the test. I can't pretend that my word means anything if I fail to keep my promises to Monique. And I did promise to accept her go-no go tests." With great deliberation, I resumed a feminine position on the settee, and slipped the key and the extra money into the purse. With my voice back in the low register I had been taught to use that day I asked. "Well, when do I leave for the train?"

The same car with the same chauffeur, was waiting for me when the ladies escorted me from the Newbury St. house to the curb. 'She' was dressed the same as she had been that morning, and I still had a hard time believing this was really a male. This time, 'she' initiated some conversation. "Good day at the School, dearie?" I laughed quietly and responded that there had been some good and some bad. The driver nodded. "That's how it goes. It's hard, learning so many different things and keeping it all straight." 'Her' eyes locked with mine in the rear view mirror. "I must say that you look great, and you move really well, too. Have you been dressing long?"

All I could do was smile, and shake my head.

Chapter 25: A Long Way Home

As promised, the train ticket was for a single person roomette in the main sleeper car. Intensely grateful for the promise of privacy, I hurried up the steps into the sleeper car after the conductor checked my ticket and gave me directions to my berth. So close to safety but growing more anxious by the minute, I became careless and did not look where I was going.

Disaster struck. The two inch heel of one shoe caught in the thin crack that formed where the two train car platforms came together. I was again thrown off balance, this time without anyone or anything to catch myself on, and came down, hard, with all my weight on the side of my other foot. Fortunately, no one was there to hear the decidedly unfeminine shout of pain as I twisted my ankle violently in the unaccustomed high heeled shoe.

Pulling off both shoes, I limped as best I could to my room and fell onto the seat. The ankle was already starting to swell visibly, and to hurt badly. I needed help, might need to see a doctor. It was then that the true magnitude of this misadventure struck me: I was completely, utterly alone and I could not, dared not ask anyone for help.

The night crawled by in that cramped little compartment, with my leg and ankle elevated and ice packed on the injured ankle. I had replaced the shoe for fear my foot would swell out of it otherwise.

I was worried about the porter recognizing me as a cross dressed male, but I had needed the ice to numb the pain and to keep the swelling down if I was to have any prayer at all of getting to the taxi stand under my own power in the morning. I could not tell railroad officials of my problem. They would want to whisk me off to a doctor and then the whole jig would be up.

It was nearly noon on Sunday when the train pulled into Union Station, Washington DC, but I thought I was ready. After mixing ice with excruciatingly painful massages for almost fourteen hours, I thought I could bear the pain of the long walk to the cab stand. I also had another advantage going for me then, too - anger, providing a healthy adrenalin surge to get me past the pain.

I was furious with Monique for putting me in this situation. I was furious with myself for not taking the opportunity that Maria had offered me the night before to avoid this mess entirely. The meeting with Monique when I stopped to get my things loomed before me. I was too angry. I knew that I could not stay. Besides, I had to see a doctor and make sure the ankle was only sprained.

Gritting my teeth every step of the way, I forced myself to walk slowly but normally when I left the train. If only I had my keys, I would not have to face Monique in this rage. Standing at the taxi stand, my mind was racing as I tried to come up with another solution, anything was preferable to going to Monique's house. How to get into my house without a key was the question I could not answer.

I would have to face Monique and try to keep my temper in check for the very short period of time necessary to get my things and get out.

A hand tapped me on the shoulder and I jumped, wincing as my weight fell back on the injured ankle. "Natalia?" a light, smiling feminine voice whispered. It was Roselie. Well, I did not much want to see her either. I tried to move away, but that last, ill considered, sudden movement brought the pain back with a vengeance and I could barely limp. She tried to stop me, but I shrugged her off and kept trying to limp away. Finally, she gave up subtlety and moved her body under my shoulder to prop me up.

As much as I wanted to leave, to escape her, the relief of not having to put weight on that foot was nearly orgasmic. "What the hell happened to you?" She hissed up at me. Haltingly, the pain back in full force now, I told her the basics of what had happened. About how I had tripped boarding the train, and about the night spent on board the train with no one to turn to for help.

I still did not want to go to Monique, but Roselie did not have my things. She had been dispatched to take me to Monique's home and, with the last of my reserves depleted by the walk to her car, I was in no condition to resist. She bustled me into her car and drove to the house in Great Falls. "I am not going to talk to her, Roselie. I can't talk to her. I am too upset." Roselie tried to reason with me, but I was adamant, and finally, she reluctantly agreed to let me stay in the care while she went inside the big house.

She returned in short order with my suitcase, wallet and keys. Evidently, the express mail package had only just arrived. Monique followed her out and stood at the door to her house with her arms tightly crossed beneath her breasts. She simply stood there, watching as Roselie packed my bag into her trunk. The sun glinted off the highly polished leather of her spiked heels. A bathrobe had evidently been pulled hastily over whatever costume she had put on for the continuation of this scenario. Smoke colored stockings hugged her legs beneath the knee length robe, her hair was up in a severe bun at the back of her head and her lips were a vividly red slash across her face. Yes, Monique had obviously made meticulous plans for the remainder of this weekend. Too damned bad, I thought.

Roselie slid into the driver's seat and faced me with sober eyes. "Monique wants to see you, Nate. She is really upset and wants to make sure you are all right."

"Then she should not have left me alone like that." I sounded like a petulant child, but I did not much care. Still in a rage, I opened the window and threw the bag containing the film and videos onto the driveway. I yelled out the still open window that she could watch the movies of me if she wanted but that was all she'd see of me that day. I turned back to Roselie, fighting to control the pain, anger and emotional hurt. "Get me the hell out of here. Please!" She did.

Roselie took me to her place to change. Fortunately, she had an attached garage and her roommates were away for the weekend, so I could enter unseen as a female, and then depart, again unseen, as a male. I was at a loss what to do with the clothes, but Roselie said she would take care of them. I was not so limited when came to the penis restraint. I left that in the waste basket of Roselie's bathroom as so much frayed and shredded nylon scrap. Destroying it had felt very good.

She took me to the emergency room, where the diagnosis was only a severe sprain. The attending physician sent me home with orders to stay off the ankle for the next few days and to keep it elevated. Roselie did not think I should be alone once we got home, but I was determined; I wanted to be left alone. In the end, I won, for what ever that was worth.

I called in sick on Monday and Tuesday. By Tuesday night, I was still furious with Monique, and decided I would try to go to work on Wednesday. The malicious pleasure of safewording her the first time she tried pull a Wednesday mini session spurred me on.

I was laying on my couch, indulging in darkly pleasant fantasies of how that would all play out when a key turned in my door lock. It was Monique.

She looked like death warmed over.

"You can tell me to get the hell out all you want to, Evans, but I am not leaving until I am sure you are all right, and from the looks of it, you are in no shape to make me leave."

A bag landed hard on my stomach. It was the film and the videotapes. I looked up at Monique, now standing to one side of my television, glaring at me defiantly.

"I don't want them, Evans, not the way I got them and not for what they've cost. I haven't so much as looked at them. You are free to destroy them, if that pleases you. Besides, if the thought gives you any satisfaction, I seem to have lost my taste for those games."

"Cost??" I was incredulous. I was the one who had paid, not her! I had paid in pain, in fear and in disillusionment. "What did they cost you? You got what you wanted. I went through your damned training! I took your blasted go-no go test. What did they cost you? Money, that's all. It's only by the grace of God that they did not cost me more than a couple of days of sick leave."

It was Monique's turn to be furious. "Money?? Is that what you think?? That this is about money? Well, let me tell you, Mr Evans, I have paid dearly. It has very likely cost me Roselie. She is so upset she hasn't spoken to me outside of work related items all week. It has probably cost me Maria's friendship. She won't even return my phone calls since I told her what happened to you. I have definitely lost her professional services. It will, no doubt, vastly entertain you to know that she won't accept anymore of my submissives for training unless I am personally there. If then. And..." Her voice dropped off.

She turned her back to me. "And, I guess it has cost me you, too." She turned to me. When she spoke, her voice seemed devoid of animation or feeling. "I never considered the possibility of injury, Nathan. It seemed like such a simple test. You could stay holed up in the sleeper car all night, and the plan was that you'd be driven to and from the train stations, although you did not know I was sending Roselie to pick you up. I am sorry you were hurt, and I am sorry that I was not there for you as I should have been. My go-no go tests have not been so harmless as I would like to think with you, Nathan." I said nothing. She seemed to crumple, and turned to leave.

"Monique?" She stopped, but did not turn back to me. "I wish you had been there for me, too." She did not stop this time, and I heard the door slam behind her.

The room seemed darker and lonelier after she had left. Seeing her here had been a shock. But, that was not the worst of it. Those few brief moments with her had forced me to face facts, as painful and as humiliating as those facts were just then.

Fact one was that I still wanted her. Even after I had nearly broken my ankle, had nearly been exposed publicly in women's clothing with all the humiliation attendant with that exposure, I still wanted her.

Fact two was even harder to accept, but just as irrefutable.

I still loved her, and I was still in love with her. I did not much like her just then, but I could no longer hide from the fact that I did love her completely. Nothing about her and my feelings for her followed any norm from my past. Both overwhelmed me.

Once I had gotten over that obstacle, acceptance that my injury could not have been anticipated followed. Of course it was not intentional, and I knew, deep in my soul, that her suffering was worse than mine. And I had added to her suffering. Sighing, I got down to business. I had a lot to do before I went to work.

Chapter 26: First Steps

I was incredulous. I did not know her number. Hell, I did not even know her full name. Her address would be indelibly printed in my memories for the rest of my life, but, unbelievably, I had no way to contact her. Finally, I called Roselie at home to find if she might know, or know how to find out, Maria's phone number. Fortunately, she knew how to reach Maria, and although she was very surprised at my request, she gave me Maria's number without too much questioning.

"Yes?" The clear toned, cultured and young feminine voice answered on the second ring. It was not Maria.

I did know that voice, though. "Is this Vicki?" I guessed.

"Yes, this is Victoria. Who is this?"

"Vicki, this is Nathan Evans, and I would like to speak to Maria, please."

"Nathan Evans?" Her voice seemed honestly confused, but at this point, I was not inclined to think she was doing anything other than jerking my chain again.

"All right, Vicki, I will play your game one last time!" I all but snarled in frustration. I would need to work on my temper. The angry edge of these past few days was seeping through my control. "You called me Natalia, and now may I please speak to Maria?"

"Natalia??!? Omigod...Stay there!" Her voice was excited, almost panicked. "Don't Hang up! Maria!!! Oh damn.. she is in the other house. Just a minute, don't hang up!" The phone fell and went thunk. Well, at least Vicki seemed to think Maria wanted to talk to me. The phone clicked as someone picked up on another line.

"Nathan! How are you? Where are you? Monique said you were hurt."

"I am fine, Maria. I almost broke my ankle, but all I have is a very bad ankle sprain. I am home."

An audible swallowing sound preceded words broken by intense emotion. "Nathan, I know this is inadequate, but I am sorry. I also know that this means very little to you, but I will never do that to anyone again. I never considered the possibility that you might be injured and become isolated from needed assistance in dress like that. From now on, our clients will always have male clothes available to them or someone watching over them, secretly if need be, when we send them out into public to pass on their own."

"Yes, well, I am glad of that, Maria. It was a very lonely and frightening experience. But that is not why I called."

"Yes, Nathan?"

"Monique told me that you weren't speaking to her. It is hurting her, Maria, and if I or any of my threats are responsible, I want you to know that you have nothing to fear from me. I told you that when I left you that night. My word still holds. You are safe from any reprisals you think I might be planning to take against you."

Silence answered me. "Maria?" I asked into the seeming void.

"I am here, Nathan, but I am not sure I understand. You called because you were concerned that I was cutting off Monique and you wanted to reassure me that you will not take any action against me?"

"Yes, that is about the size of it, Maria. She values, make that needs, your friendship, and I wanted to remove any impediment I might have caused from you resuming that friendship."

"I... I am... amazed, Nathan. That is surprisingly forgiving of you. I am not sure either of us deserve to be let off quite that easily."

"I love her, Maria. It is as complicated and as simple as that. I was upset. I still am, for that matter, but I still love her. I want her to be happy. Dammit, I want to add to her life, not subtract from it. Losing you would be a subtraction. Please, Maria, try and find your way clear to put this behind you."

She was quiet for a moment or two, and then sighed. "I did not like it, either, Nathan. I may have been punishing myself, too."

"Well, I don't love you, but I sorta like you, so you should let it go, too."

That earned me a high pitched, nervous giggle. "All right, Nathan, I will call her tomorrow, if you're sure that is not letting us off too lightly."

"Tomorrow's fine, Maria. I think there is enough hurt already doled out. And Maria? Thanks. I have to run, err hobble. Maybe we can have lunch without props or games next time I am in Boston. Hug Vicki and Andrea for me. Oh... and keep one for yourself, too."

"I would enjoy that, Nathan. I find you quite fascinate me. Take care, Nathan. Thank you, for calling and for caring enough to call. Good Bye. I hope your ankle heals quickly." I signed off, too and put the phone back on the hook. Afterwards, I sat there staring at the phone for a very long time.

Chapter 27: Compromising Situations

I had to use crutches to hobble into the office the next day. I had a cane strapped to my briefcase with a bungee cord, but I could not move very far or very quickly with the cane yet, so I made do with the crutches. The office was deserted when I arrived. Roselie was not due in for another half hour, and Monique's office was open and dark. I started coffee and set about clearing almost two weeks of paper from my desk, dating back to my unexpected week in Boston, standing in for Monique.

I was halfway through my second cup of coffee, and most of the way through round-filing all the junk paper on my desk, when Monique breezed past my office on the way to hers. She nearly gave herself whiplash doing a double take on my lighted office. She stood, in the middle of the office alcove, staring at my office. Obviously coming to a decision, she put her bags down on Roselie's desk and strode purposefully into my office.

"Just what do you think you are doing, Nathan? You should not even be here. Roselie said that you were told to take it easy for an entire week." I nearly laughed at her pugnacious stance, chin out, hands on hips, bending at the waist to put herself aggressively into my 'space'. God, but she was tough. If it was not for the furtive eye movements that tried to look me in the eye, but never quite made it, I would never have known how nervous she was just then.

I smiled. "And so I am, Monique, taking it easy, that is. I will stay off my foot as much here as I would at home. Maybe more so because I won't be bored out of my skull here. I have my crutches and cane. I will be a good boy, Monique, and not do anything to make it worse than it already is."

She seemed to relax a bit, and gave me a thorough, calculating examination. "All right, then, but make sure you use Roselie and the new clerk to do your running about. If I see you moving from that chair, other than to go to the bathroom..." She let the implied threat hang in the air.

I shook my head. "I will do my job, Monique, and I will take care not to hurt my ankle any more than it has been."

She was obviously not happy about that, but for once, seemed at a loss as to what to do next. "Go to work, Monique. It will be fine." She hesitated a moment longer, before retreating to her office, shutting the door behind her.

Roselie was equally surprised and dismayed to see me at work. She hovered over me like a broody hen, and was rather indignant when I told her that, but she backed off and gave me some space after that. Although, she did make sure my coffee cup was always full.

I worked through the morning and through lunch to clear up what had accrued in my absence. By three pm, I was at the point I normally was by nine am. Notebook wedged tightly between my arm and my ribs, I took up my cane and made my way into Monique's office. She had been staring out her window when I entered and spun in her chair to look at me in surprise. Without a word passing between us, I moved to the chair in front of her desk and settled into it.

"Well, I wasn't sure you were going to come in today." She made a conspicuous show of moving her hands to her lap and away from the controls that would lock the door. "It being Wednesday, I did not think you would enter this place where our agreement could be invoked. I was starting to think that I would have to go to you."

I shook my head. "You aren't insensitive or unfeeling, Monique. You are passionate, exuberant and creative. You are sometimes careless and you sometimes don't think things all the way through, but you are a caring person, and I know that you would not put me in that type of situation today."

She grimaced at my less flattering remarks on her personality, but then, her eyes cleared a little, and the worry lines on her forehead started to smooth. "Thank you for that, Nathan. You are correct in one regard, at least - I am not going to lock the doors today. You need not worry about that. All right then, what is on your mind, today?"

The anger that had prompted my fantasies of rubbing the safe word in her face had evaporated during the night, but I still had planned to use the safe word if she had locked the doors for a session. I, no we, were not ready for resumption of those games, and I was relieved that she sensed that, too.

I fell into the familiar routine of the office. Whatever other tensions might be, we were still a superb team. We quickly cleared up the remaining work items that had been hanging during my absence and laid out the plans for the remainder of the week.

I started to push myself back to my one good foot, when Monique motioned for me to remain seated. "No, Nathan, please stay for a moment." I reseated myself, and looked at her inquisitively. She fumbled with something on her desk, and cleared her throat before speaking. Her eyes never left her desk. "Umm, I got a rather surprising phone call during lunch, Nathan." I waited, not sure what this was about. "Maria called. It is the first time she has spoken to me since I told her you were hurt. She said you called her." She looked at me for verification. I shrugged. "Yes, well, we resolved a lot of problems between us, Nathan. She is my friend, and almost losing her friendship was one of the worst parts of this whole...." She groped for a word. "Fuckup!"

She kept playing furiously with what ever was on her desk, but her eyes raised to meet mine. "Why, Nathan? Why, if you are so angry, so hurt, that you can't even bear the sight of me; that you won't even let me help you; why did you try and patch up things between Maria and me? I don't understand. I know you are upset over the scene, and the trickery. Why?"

"I think you know why. While I was angry, I forgot for a while, but your visit last night reminded me." I said simply, my voice very soft. "Because I love you, and I don't want you hurting because of me. Maria was making assumptions about how I might retaliate for her part in all this, and was trying to protect herself, her friends and her clients. I would not do that to them, and I did it partly for her peace of mind. Mostly for you, but partly for her."

"But... but you hated it! Hated what we did to you. How can you be that forgiving?"

"I hated being hurt, and having no options, Monique. I hated being in a position where I had to deal with a lot of pain, alone, in order to save myself from being publicly, personally and professionally humiliated. As for the games you and Maria played on me, they weren't too bad. Parts of it, I did not care for, parts were neutral and some parts were fun. That is not the problem."

"Then tell me what is the problem, Nathan. Please. I can't help if I don't know what it is that is bothering you."

A grim smile came across my face. "I don't know if you can, Monique. That is the problem. I don't think you can fix it." I laughed ruefully. "Hell, Monique. I don't even know if you would want to fix it."

"Dammit!!" She was shouting now. Her hands stopped playing and pounded her desk. "Tell me the damned problem, Nate!"

"It was go-no go test, Monique." I said simply.

She looked at me blankly. "So? You passed it. And it was infinitely more difficult than I would ever have envisioned it being."

"It was a very bad experience for me, Monique, and it now has very negative connotations for me. Go-no go's, by your own definition, are built from games that you really enjoy. You told me that these were sort of "compatibility tests". Maria asked me a question when I first arrived. 'Do you care enough for Monique the woman to satisfy this special need of Monique the Mistress?'. I don't know the answer to that question right now, Monique. I did when I got on that train. You know that Maria was going to call the whole thing off? When she found out that I could escape your plot with the help of my DA friend?"

She nodded, her head moving jerkily. "She was very impressed with your commitment in that moment, Nathan. She called me so I would know how much you cared."

"Yes, well, one of the things that got me over that barrier was that question she asked me."

Now I looked down at my hands. They were shaking, and I gripped them together to hold them still. "I don't know if I could go out in public, dressed like a female, and face those memories again. Even for you, Monique. And, because of that, and because I know what the go-no go means, I am afraid I have lost what chance I had with you."

"You still want me, after all of this? Even knowing what you have learned about the dark dangerous truth of S&M and D&S? That poor planning or carelessness can mean injury or worse? It is no secret to me, Nathan, that you are not enjoying most, if any of my games, that you are submitting to them solely as a gift to me."

I thought a moment before answering. "I won't lie and say that I could not leave the corporal stuff forever without a backward thought. I could, easily. I have already told you that the public dressing games are almost intolerable to think about right now, let alone to try to do. However, as I said, I still love you. I want you and I want to be with you. If periodically submitting to you is the price, I would still pay it. I just don't know if I can make myself do the public passing thing, now. I just don't know."

The room became quiet; neither of us speaking. Finally, Monique spoke. "Nathan, I have learned some hard lessons and dark truths from this experience, too. I went much too far much too fast with this test. Yes, I enjoy feminizing men; I enjoy dominating and teasing them while they are cross dressed. It is a big dominant high for me. It is also a huge sexual turn on for me. Lingerie is sexy. It is sexy on women; it is sexy on men; it is just sexy, plain and simple. I like to wear it and feel sexy; I like my men to wear it and be sexy for me.

"On the other hand, watching a man who is cross dressed in public because I have asked it of him, or demanded it of him; watching him trying to put up a brave front when I know that he is scared to death of discovery, is another incredibly powerful high for me. And I pressed too hard, too soon with you in trying to get you to a point where you could give me that high." She went silent again. "You said, Nathan, that it is the going out in public that has the negative aspect for you. Does that mean that privately, with just the two of us, you could play cross dressing games with me? That we could continue what Maria started?"

I considered that. "One on one, just you and me, Monique, there is not much I can think of that I would not try and give you. I can certainly give you that."

A tentative, shy smile started to curl her lips. "Okay! Here is the deal. You know that I want to take you out in public dressed as a woman. Maria told me that you are a natural." That brought heat rushing to my cheeks, and Monique seeing that, grinned. "Yes, a real natural lady, Nathan. Roselie saw you rigged out, and she said she had to do a double take to even decide who to approach. She thought you might have missed the train or got off somewhere else." She waved her hand to stop that line of thought. "Anyway, if and when your Natalia persona ever goes out in public again is your decision and your decision alone. She and I will play, strictly in private. I will work with you to hone her looks, her mannerisms and anything else that needs to be worked on for you to be comfortable with her and with passing." Her grin became wicked. "I will work your buns off, Nathan, and probably embarrass the hell out of you, but it will just be you and me until you give the go ahead. I promise that I will never force the issue or complain if you say no." She smirked. "I don't promise not to ask periodically, though."

"And if I never do agree to go out in public dressed like that? What then?"

"Then you never do, and you don't go public. As I just said, you have my word on it that I will never press, or force the issue. Your cross dressing will be between you and I. I will never involve anyone else again without your expressed permission. If you never go out in public as Natalia, then I am well served for having put you at such risk."

"What about the "compatibility issue"? Can you live with me, knowing that I am 'depriving' you of that particular pleasure, that 'incredible high' as you called it?"

"Yes, I can." Her tone was emphatic and sure. "Besides," and the grin was back, "Eventually, you will agree. I just figured that out. You do love me, and eventually, you will trust me enough, want to please me enough, to give me that gift. And I promise, I will be with you every high heeled step of the way, Nathan. You will still be scared out of your panties. If I let you wear any panties, that is," she chuckled softly, "but it will be the anxiety type fear of discovery, not the real fear of being hurt or the real fear of being professionally humiliated. I will see that you are not put in that type of situation."

She was probably right at that. Denying her anything was rapidly becoming foreign to my nature. Still, I was not going to make it that easy for her. "All right, Monique. I will accept that deal. I still don't know what will come of it, whether I will be able to go public, but Natalia will play with you in private."

Her smile was devastating. She had compromised today, and on something she had once said she would not, could not compromise on. It was another first, and a very important first. I, too, could compromise. "Monique? About Natalia in private?"

"Yes, Nate?" Her look was quizzical, uncertain.

"I think we can include Maria, her ladies and Roselie in our games, so long as they understand and agree to the other rules. I trust them now, and maybe, if you had some others involved, any waiting for me to decide to go public might be less difficult for you." I pushed to my feet, and started to move towards the door. "I am sure with so many devious female minds, you can make life as interesting, or as difficult for this poor lovesick male, as you want. Just as long as you are with me."

I never made it to the door. Monique was up from behind her desk and on me before I could get out the door. She hugged me fiercely, and kissed me soundly. "Never again, Nate. I will always be with you... I promise." Her whisper was hoarse with her emotion, but that was better than I could have managed at that moment. I was lost in her and filled with her.

We stood there, straddling the door between our offices, offering comfort, and I think, stronger commitment. A giggle broke the quiet. "Hey, Evans." Now her whisper was husky and teasing. "It is Wednesday, darling. Got your panties on for me, lover?"

As adroitly as I could, given my ankle, I shifted position so both of my feet were on my office's side of the door. I bent down and kissed her lightly on her upturned nose. Then put my mouth to her ear. "You will just have to wonder, lover." I kissed her behind the ear. "I have to go home and get off this foot." Her snort of laughter was infectious and unforced.

"Okay, Nathan. You can surprise me next week. Do you need a ride home?" That question ultimately led to another first. Her first night in my bed. And in honor of it being Wednesday, as much in deference to my ankle, we did use the female superior positions exclusively.

I also managed to get my underwear into the laundry hamper before she came out of the bathroom, so she never would know if I had or had not worn my Wednesday dainties.

Part Eleven: Rebirth
Previous Part Nine: The Bostonian Scenario