Wes Boyd's
Spearfish Lake Tales
Contemporary Mainstream Books and Serials Online

The Girl in the Mirror
Book 3 of the Bradford Exiles
Wes Boyd
©2005, ©2011

Chapter 13

Two and a half hours later, Shae looked remarkably nice, as well. She’d raced home, checked the mail – not surprisingly, there was nothing – then had a shower of her own and had dressed up nicely, to include a skirt and hose, before driving back over to the Riley house. Eve was starting to get to her in this regard – slowly, over the course of the summer and fall, Shae had come to realize that her friend was regularly showing her up in terms of being nicely and tastefully dressed. Although she had an idea of what was going on, with the competitiveness in her subconscious, along with her natural exhibitionism, Shae couldn’t let Eve get away with that. As they sat down around the Riley dinner table, while Eve was serving, she and Eve were likely the two best-dressed kids in town at that moment.

They had been aware, literally from the beginning, that neither Shae nor Arlene was the best possible person to teach Eve to be a teenage girl. Arlene, who was also dressing better these days for much the same reason as Shae, could teach her new daughter much about being a woman but was thirty years out of date on being a teenager. Shae, being big, a serious athlete, and not very social in the conventional sense of dating and cheerleading and giggling about boys, wasn’t exactly the ideal candidate, either. But, they had about forty unexpected and unknown allies; Denis had always looked at girls with a little more depth of understanding than the average guy. Now he not only watched girls to see what they looked like, but to see what they did – little things, nuances, mostly. In the early months Eve had been pretty awkward as a girl, but was getting considerably better, if a little more serious and sober than the typical teenager.

Dinner was, as expected, well done, if a touch on the formal side; Eve liked it that way, and Arlene was trying to pass along some of the more formal touches. With dessert – a pumpkin pie, which Eve had also made – she served coffee, and they sat around talking.

"Kids, I have an announcement to make," Bill said. "Shae, in a sense this doesn’t concern you, but in a practical way it does, so you might as well be part of it, and I’ve already told Arlene. I’ll cut to the point: Today I was told I’ll be taking over as vice president for national distribution in Denver. The target date is the first of March."

Arlene smiled. "It’ll be good to be back in Denver." They’d lived there before coming to Bradford, and she still had friends there.

"That’s great, Mr. Riley," Shae said. "That’s what you were hoping for, isn’t it?"

"From a job viewpoint, it couldn’t be better," he replied. "The odds are that it’ll be my last major promotion with the company, considering my age. Senior vice presidents and the president usually seem to come out of marketing or financial, but you never know." He let out a sigh. "On the other hand, early retirement also becomes a possibility in a few years."

Eve was smiling, too, as she asked, "Daddy, is this going to cause any problems?"

"Considering what’s happening here, the timing could be a little better, but I wasn’t about to turn it down. Yes, it causes problems, and I’d be happier if it could be delayed six months. March is about as long as it can be put off. But, one thing I’ve always appreciated about General is that they’re not one to drop an announcement like this on an employee and expect him to be at work on the new job the following Monday. They understand that people have families and commitments once they’ve been in a place for a while. While I’d like to be here up through graduation, it’s not an impossible problem to deal with. My first thought was that it’s probably pointless to take Denis out of school and have him finish up school for one semester out there, especially for Eve to do it. It would be a major documentation hassle on short notice, and mostly unnecessary."

"Worse," Eve pointed out, "We’ve already got things well along in Chicago. We’d just about have to start over in Denver, and we don’t know who to talk to there to get started again. And, if I’m going to college with Shae, it’s probably going to be in this part of the country, so there we are, coming back to Chicago again. We just lose six months."

"To no benefit," Bill agreed. "I realize that you’ve been counting the days until you get out of high school here, but I think staying is the best course. Now, I thought for about two seconds about having you live with Shae’s family, but you’d have to stay as Denis, and I know you wouldn’t think much of that."

"Right, I’d lose a lot of ground," she agreed. "Worse, unless we brought everything to a stop, security would be just about impossible. I couldn’t even keep up the estrogen therapy; I can get away with it in school, but living with Shae’s folks, sooner or later someone would notice how I’m developing. And stopping the estrogen and restarting it later would cause problems, too."

"That’s why I rejected it after thinking about it for all of two seconds," Bill agreed. "Right now, my thinking is for me to go out there toward the end of February, find a small apartment to camp out in for a few months, and leave you and your mother here through the end of the school year. While I’m out there, I can work out something about a house, but we can hold the formal move off until after graduation. Any objections so far?"

"Only that I’ve got the date for the plastic surgery at the end of June in San Francisco," Eve pointed out. "I’m guessing that you probably wouldn’t be able to be there, so I’d expect Mommy to be with me."

"That’s right," he agreed. "And that will take the both of you out of the process for a couple weeks. The best timing is for the move to be made right after graduation, that gives us two or three weeks to settle in out there before you and your mother have to head on out to San Francisco. If we have any difficulty with finding a house out there, which I’m told shouldn’t be a problem, we may have to delay the formal move for a while. At this point, we just don’t know. Ideally, I’d like to have the two of you fly out over spring break so that your mother can be part of the house-selection process, but that’ll have to depend on how things work out. Eve, I realize that in the long run you probably won’t be living there much, but something like that would limit the amount of exposure you’d risk by staying with Shae’s family here."

"I could fake it for a few days if I had to," she said. "A period of months would be considerably more difficult."

"We might as well not run the risk if we don’t have to," Bill agreed. "The thought also crossed my mind that even though we don’t know where you and Shae will be going to school, there’s no point in moving the things you’ll want for school out to Colorado and then back to this region. I’d suggest that you get as much together as you can at this point, and we’ll find a place to store it for the summer. You and Shae can pick it up in the fall."

"That’s assuming we actually wind up going to school together," Shae said. "I mean, we want to, and it’s obviously the best option for Eve, but we may not be able to work it out. It depends on where I get offers."

"True, but we’ll know for sure by the time we actually have to move your things for school," Bill said. "In any case, you’re going to lose a part of the summer anyway because of the facial surgery, so you might as well get done what you have to. I mean, I’m telling a teenage girl to go shopping on my money, I didn’t think there’d be much objection."

"Well, no," Eve grinned. "I think I can manage that."

"There’s one more thing," Bill said. "Shae, you have done a lot for us the last few months. There’s no way any of this could have happened without your help. Arlene and I have talked it over, and we want to do something to thank you. We’d considered taking you and Eve on some sort of trip for graduation; we’d thought perhaps Disney World, or something like that." He let out a sigh and continued, "Obviously, that’s not in the cards now. I haven’t talked to your father about it, but what would you think of doing it over Christmas break, instead? We can probably work it out so you’d actually be here for Christmas."

"Sure, I don’t see any reason why not. I’d miss a couple of tournaments that don’t mean anything, and it’s not like I’m expecting to get a scholarship for volleyball, anyway."

"There’s one more angle to that," Bill noted. "Eve, I know the switching identities back and forth has been difficult for you. But, it strikes me that a trip over Christmas would give you a little break from that. Call it sort of a mini-RLT; it could be eight or ten days, depending on the schedule, a good test of real life as a girl."

"That would be a great relief," she agreed. "The test would be welcome, even though I might be a little slow switching back in the end."

"That’s a concern," Bill agreed. "In fact, the biggest concern. You’re going to have to do it, no matter how much you may not want to. Alternately, we can put it off until late summer, when you’d already be in your real RLT, but the timing isn’t as good. It will be a very busy time in my new job, and the two of you will be focusing on college."

"I think I can do it," Eve said. "I’m pretty well going to have to."

"We don’t have to know tonight, but we do need to be sure. The other alternative is to keep you switching while we’re in Florida, and that could get weird."

"Mr. Riley," Shae asked. "Out of curiosity, what happens with my dad out of this?"

"We don’t know yet, but you don’t need to tell him that I told you that, or what I’m about to tell you. Ideally, he’ll take over the warehouse here. That’s not a done deal though, even though it’s what I’m recommending. Shae, the way these things work is every time a position opens up there are several candidates to fill it, and then when someone is selected, their old position is open and the dance starts over again one step down. All that takes time to shake out. If he gets the warehouse here, he’ll probably be here several more years. However, he’s been here as long as I have and is getting due for a move. If he does not get the warehouse here, I’d expect a transfer in the foreseeable future. Denver is one possibility, and one of the other regional distribution centers would also be a possibility."

"So you’re saying that if Eve and I are in school here, there’s a good chance that both our families could be transferred out of the region before we’re done?"

"I’d say it’s maybe two chances out of three," Bill agreed. "One of the things about being a parent is that you come to realize that your kids are going to do things you really don’t expect, and I could give extremely detailed lectures on that after the last few months. But, you also come to realize that there’s a good chance you’re going to wind up with your kids far away. Both Tom and Susie have managed that, and we rarely see them. It’s likely to happen with Eve, too. Kids grow up, Shae. I’ve been blessed to discover a daughter I’ve come to love a lot in the past few months. On top of that, you’ve become almost like a third daughter to us. I’m going to miss the both of you, and I hope you’ll come and visit us from time to time."

November 21, 1987

"I almost wish we weren’t going to Florida over the holidays," Eve said the following Saturday, while sitting in the right seat of the Monza on the way back from Chicago, still groggy from Darvocet. "We could just about wrap up these sessions and be done with them."

"Ten or twelve more sessions, Phyllis was saying," Shae agreed. "I’ll bet you’re going to be glad to be done with them."

"You have no idea," Eve sighed. "I’ve told myself time and again that it’s worth it, and it is. Even if I decide not to go through with it all the way, which is pretty unlikely, I’ll never have to worry about shaving again. Even though men have it easier than women about getting ready in the morning, that’s one thing I won’t mind leaving behind either way."

Shae glanced over at her friend, with her shoulder-length blonde hair. On Denis, it just looked scruffy and unkempt; but on Eve, with just a little combing and styling and a touch of hair spray, it actually looked cute. She’d seen much of both Denis and Eve, and it was amazing how much the two could look alike and still look so different. "Do you have any idea what you’d like to do the rest of the afternoon?" she asked.

"I wouldn’t mind stopping at a mall some place," Eve replied. "I’d like to try and see if I can find the right bra, something padded a little that would fit, and not have to use the breast forms."

"Might be an idea," Shae said. "You’re talking about that for Florida?"

"Yes," Eve nodded. "It just strikes me as being more natural. The breast forms are fake, no matter how good they look, and now that I’m growing the real things I’d like to take advantage of them."

"I think you’re being a little optimistic," Shae shrugged. "But on the other hand, if you are, you’re not going to be too far ahead of the curve." She had seen the development of her friend’s breasts over the last few months. It had only gotten under way about the time school started, growth was slow at first under the pressure of the estrogen therapy, but they were starting to develop more quickly, now. Considering that she was going to be facing at least another year and a half of high doses of estrogen, Shae would not have been surprised to have Eve come out looking a little more curvy than her own stretched figure. She wasn’t sure whether to be jealous or not. Eve was near, if not past, the point where some of the changes from the estrogen would be permanent, but things had been going so well that there had been no thought of turning back.

"It’s not going to be too long before they’re noticeable under Denis’ sweat shirts," Eve nodded. "I think he can get away with it up until Christmas break, but I suspect after that there’s going to have to be some binding going on. That should cover them up for a while, and hopefully long enough to get us through graduation."

"Heck of a note," Shae smirked. "To have to be either bound or tucked."

"Half fish and half fowl," Eve laughed. "Only a few more months and things should get a little simpler."

"I can’t wait," Shae agreed. "I got another nibble when I got home last night, University of Dayton. It looks like it might be a keeper."

"I don’t know anything about that school," Eve nodded. "But I would think it wouldn’t be likely any Bradford kids would be going there."

"Not yet, anyway," Shae nodded. On a bulletin board in the counselor’s office, there were lists of where Bradford kids had announced that they’d been accepted to a college, and they went back a couple of years. College acceptances had been getting posted thick and fast for the past few weeks, and Shae made a point of checking the bulletin board every few days. So far, several colleges, some with good prospects, had been checked off the list as unacceptable because of other kids from the class going there. Places like MSU, Eastern, and Western had fallen early; even Northern Michigan University and Michigan Tech, lost in the vast wastelands of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, had Bradford kids planning to go there. Going out of state, Ohio or Indiana or Illinois, seemed to be more likely for the two as most kids would want to take advantage of the lower tuition for in-state students. Since Shae was planning on going where the athletic scholarship was the best, and Denis’ trust fund and parent’s contribution meant that money was no real object, it seemed unlikely that they’d be going to school in Michigan at all. What made it tricky was that Michigan played girls’ high school basketball in the fall, while the other states around had it as a winter sport. That wasn’t all bad; Michigan girls usually got a better look from out-of-state scouts since they were outside the busy season. "There’s just no way of telling," she added. "I think we want to put off a decision as long as we can, just to let other people work out where they’re going. I mean, unless I get a good offer from some place a ways off, Dayton really is about the best we’ve seen so far."

"I might as well get an application ordered," Eve nodded. "I can get that much done. It would be nice to have some options."

"I suppose," Shae sighed. "But that’s nothing we have to do today, and it’s something we still have to think about. I did have one idea for this afternoon. Dayna is supposed to be playing up at Briarwood Mall again."

Two Saturdays earlier, their classmate Dayna Berkshire had been hanging around the Briarwood Mall in Hawthorne with her guitar, waiting for some friends to pick her up so their garage band could practice. It wound up that she’d had a couple hours to kill, so she got out her guitar with her gig bag at her feet, sat down near the fountain in the mall and began to practice. After a while, she’d gathered a little crowd and got some applause. She’d wisecracked something to the effect of don’t cheer, just throw money – and people did. She did quite well in fact, and the mall manager had agreed to let her play from one to four on Saturday afternoons. She’d commented the following Monday that it beat working any way you looked at it.

"It would be neat to hear her. I understand she’s quite good. But I’d have to go as Denis, and I’m not really up for it today. Besides," she smirked, "It would be hard for Denis to explain why he was looking for a bra."

"Yeah, that would be a problem," Shae laughed. "It’s probably not that great of an idea today, since we’d be getting there just as Dayna would be wrapping up."

"We need to do it at least once," Eve agreed. In spite of her desire to mostly be Eve in public, they’d agreed long ago that they needed to be spotted in public some place besides school as Shae and Denis, if for no more reason than to keep up a thin veil of illusion that they were really carrying on something of a romance. There would most likely be some Bradford kids hanging around one of Dayna’s mall performances, so that would make it a good spot. "Next Saturday would probably work just fine. We could get there earlier."

"No electrolysis appointment?"

"Friday," Eve grimaced. "I’ve also got an endocrinology appointment, just a regular quarterly check, plus a counselor’s appointment. That should be routine, too. I don’t think I’m having any problems."

"Triple dipping," Shae nodded. "Oh, well, if we’re going to do a mall crawl, we’ve got several around South Bend, and we probably don’t want to be too much closer to Bradford. We haven’t been to the one in Mishawaka for a while."

"Sounds all right to me," Eve conceded. "I think I want to keep my eyes open for a swimsuit, too, something a little less conservative. It’s not likely that I’ll find one that I want around here this time of year but we might as well look."

"No breast forms, right?" Shae snickered. "You’re getting some cleavage and want to show it off, I’ll bet?"

"Well," Eve blushed. "I guess I do. And it would be simpler, too."

Shae shook her head. "I can just see it now. When they get you fixed, you are going to be Miss String Bikini."

"No, you already hold the title," Eve teased back. "The bikinis you were wearing last summer were barely there on someone as big as you. Since we are going to Florida with my folks, you might like to find something that would tone it down a little."

"I suppose you’re right," Shae agreed. "But I can’t wear one-piece suits, they don’t make them long enough to fit my torso, so I’m stuck with two-piece suits, and that usually means pretty hot."

"And you like to look pretty hot on the beach," Eve grinned. "I know, I’ve been there and watched you." She let out a sigh. "I am going to be so happy to be out of here and not have to cover up and switch off for a few days. I mean, wherever we wind up going to college we’re going to have to maintain a cover-up, but it shouldn’t be as bad."

"That’s true," Shae smiled. "Oh, well, only a few more months. Mishawaka Mall then, right?"

*   *   *

Eve had already built up a fair wardrobe, and was trying to shop at least a little with her eye on going to college, where she’d be out in the open more, but wanted to dress a little differently, too. Going out shopping gave them both a good chance to be out in public, for her to react with people as Eve. There, she was easy-going, relaxed, and charming.

One of the facts of life with Shae was that her height meant she was both memorable and easily picked out of a crowd. Everywhere they went there always seemed to be someone who remembered her, and she didn’t always remember who or why, which could be embarrassing at times. They were just coming out of a clothing store empty handed – they’d just been looking – when they heard the familiar words: "Shae! Eve! How have you been?"

At least if someone remembered Eve as Eve, it probably wouldn’t be a break in the cover. They turned toward the sound of the voices. Eve identified them immediately: "John! Paul! It’s good to see you!" It took Shae a few seconds to flash on the two guys, but then she remembered – it was the two guys they’d hung around with on the county fair midway back last summer. They’d have been especially memorable for Eve, since they were the first two guys she’d kissed, albeit innocently.

"It’s good to see you again, too," John smiled. "What brings you over this way?"

"Oh, just a little shopping," Shae smiled. "What are you two up to?"

"Just checking out the bookstore," John nodded. "Wanted to see if the new Larry Niven was out yet."

"Oh, you do science fiction?" Eve smiled. "I read it some, too."

"I like it," Paul said. "Actually, I’m more into fantasy than the hard SF. There’s a neat new writer out, Mercedes Lackey."

"Oh, you’ve seen the Arrows series, then?" Eve smiled. "That’s cool!"

John and Shae just looked on for a minute or two as the shorter couple descended quickly into the politics of Valdemar, the fictional ancient country where the series was located. Shae had read just enough in the field to understand that she didn’t care much for it – but was amused just a little, too: if she had to categorize it, Larry Niven was hard science fiction, guy stuff, lots of machines and guns and violence. Mercedes Lackey she thought of as girl stuff, magic horses, ESP, and sorcery. One more point on the girl side of Eve’s gender scoreboard.

Finally, John tried to engage Shae in conversation: "Do you read much, Shae?"

"Oh, some," she shrugged. "Not much sci-fi. Sometimes my mom will leave a trashy novel lying around and I’ll pick it up. That, and biographies, and sports stuff pretty well covers it."

"Shae is something of a barbarian in that regard," Eve threw in. "The jockette shows through, doesn’t it?"

"The bookworm shows through in you," she teased back.

John shook his head. "You two really are the odd couple, aren’t you?"

Shae and Eve glanced at each other, their eyes passing the only communication necessary: If only you knew! "Oh, we get along," Eve smiled. "So, what are you up to today?"

"Oh, we’re heading down to the Multiplex," John replied. "Thought we’d see what’s on. I thought we might check out The Untouchables."

"Yeah, that or maybe Dirty Dancing," Paul added. "Maybe you’d like to come along."

"Could be," Eve grinned. "I’ve wanted to see Dirty Dancing."

"Shae, are you up for it?" John asked, just about conceding the chick flick.

"I wouldn’t mind, either," she said. "The only thing is we have to sit in the back row, unless the theatre is pretty empty, and we may have to sit in the front row."


"If the place is packed, whoever sits behind me gets pissed real quick," she laughed. "So I try to sit in the back, unless the seats are real close together, and then I about have to sit in the front row. I hate that, I get a headache."

"I’m not sure which theatre Dirty Dancing is in, but some of them have seating on an angle," he said. If we can get an end seat, you can stretch out your legs."

"Then I’m ready," she smiled. "Being tall has its moments, but enjoying movies usually isn’t one of them."

They strolled down through the mall to the Multiplex, and John bought the tickets. It was a while before the show started – in one of the theatres with the good seats, he noted – so they stood around outside, just talking. The guys were from Indiana, so hadn’t been clued into the Michigan girls’ basketball playoffs, but they were mildly interested to note that they were talking to a state champion and offered their congratulations. Obviously they weren’t sports fans, but Shae had pretty well guessed that. It had been worked out that they were probably going to Valparaiso University; Eve told them that it was still up in the air for her, and Shae said that the athletic scholarships had to iron themselves out. Mostly, Shae and John let Eve and Paul dominate with a discussion of various fantasy novels.

Eventually they got in to see the movie. It was not crowded, and they managed to get good seats, if well off to one side. Shae thought the movie was OK, maybe a little better than that, and suspected that John had about the same reaction. It had its goofy spots, its weepy and sentimental spots, and Shae was more than a little amused to glance over a couple seats and see Eve and Paul holding hands, snuggled up with each other. Now just who were the romantics here? But then, what’s wrong with that, she thought as she found John’s hand.

As the movie hit its finale, things went just a little beyond handholding – she saw Eve and Paul lean even closer together and kiss; thusly inspired, she leaned to one side and performed the same service to John. It was a fun lip lock, nothing special, except for the fact that it rarely happened and wasn’t the first time with the two guys. That made it fun, almost like a date, and it was hard to break and get up when the house lights went up.

Afterward, they wandered down to the food court, just talking about one thing and another, nothing serious. They bought subs and drinks, and sat and talked for a while longer, again nothing serious. By now, it was dark outside, and eventually they caught onto the time. "I hate to do this to you," Eve told them, "But we really have to be getting back."

"It’s been wonderful seeing you again," John said. "This has been a really fun afternoon. What’s the chance we can get together again some time?"

"Things really haven’t changed," Eve sighed. "My folks still don’t want me dating. Shae can occasionally sneak me out for an afternoon, but we’re never sure when." She knew it wasn’t a particularly good answer, although it was the stock one they’d worked out. They couldn’t risk regular dates, especially if there was the chance they might show up around Bradford. "But it would be nice to see you again sometime."

"Do you think there’s any chance you can get free over Christmas?" Paul asked. "Maybe we could get together."

"Not a chance," Eve sighed. "I’ll be in Florida with my parents."

"Eve, I’ve got an idea," Shae said. "How about if I get these guys’ number? Sometime, if we can get you out, we could head over this way. Maybe another Saturday sometime. Sorry, guys, it wouldn’t be a lot of notice, but we could catch another movie or something."

"It might work," John conceded, obviously willing to accept something less than the optimum because it was better than the nothing that the two had been getting. "We’re usually home, we could meet here."

"That might work," Eve agreed. "It might not be often, and probably won’t be before I get back from Florida."

"That’d be fine," Paul nodded. "We’ll be looking forward to hearing from you."

*   *   *

They were out in the Monza, heading off into the gathering sunset, before they got to talking about it. "It was fun," Eve almost giggled, "But I’ll bet that was as close to a date as they’ve ever gotten."

"It’s about as close for you, too," Shae snickered, "Unless you count what we’ve been doing for months, which I don’t think you’d want to do."

"No," Eve sighed. "But, still. They are pretty innocuous and introverted, but they’re both sweet and caring; you can feel it. I mean, it wouldn’t go anywhere, but I can’t have it going anywhere for now, anyway. They’re pretty safe, and we can keep them at arm’s length and still sort of date a little."

"And you can get into another lip lock with Paul," Shae snickered.

"Well, that too," Eve laughed. "He seemed so tentative and surprised when I kissed him. It was as if nothing like that had happened to him before, and he wasn’t sure what to do about it."

"Like Denis would have been this time last year," Shae smiled.

"Well, yes," Eve conceded. "Denis would have wet his pants if a good looking blonde had leaned over in a movie theatre and kissed him. Objectively, I’m a little surprised to say that I enjoyed taking the lead on that."

"You know," Shae shook her head and laughed, "They get through fixing you and there’s not going to be any holding you back. I can just see it now: string bikinis, guys all over the place."

"Yes," she laughed with her. "It’ll be nice to not have to put up with some of those limitations."

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