Back in Time – Part 4







Friday 18th November

10 pm

The Manhattan Penthouse


“Let Carina intervene,” Heather spoke in a barely audible whisper. “I know both of you want nothing more than to run across there and comfort Holly, but for now let someone else talk to her.”

“I guess so,” Sandy tried to imagine what was being said between the two women.

“Leave them alone darling,” Heather warned her young charge.

“Alright,” the young woman paused to collect her thoughts. “How are you enjoying yourself Krystle?” she asked in a barely audible whisper.

“I'm confused as hell if you really want to know.”

“I guessed by this time you might be,” Sands giggled. “It's not easy being a woman is it?”

“No, I have so many thoughts running through my head.”

“Well before you say more about that,” Heather intervened, “Incoming.”

“Oh?” Krys looked round to see Carina leading Holly in their direction.


“Hey Heather, Sands – and this must be your friend Krys.  I’m Carina Huntingdown.”


“It’s a real pleasure,” Krys said as she looked at the two diminutive blondes.  “Are you friends of Heather?”


“Yeah, we are – look, can I borrow you for a few minutes Heather?  Krys, Holly and Sands really need to talk.  Do you mind acting as referee?”


“Referee?  What for,” Krys said as she looked at the other two.


“Holly – I’m glad you could come here tonight,” Sands said as she looked at her girlfriend.  “But you don’t look happy.”


“I’m not – not really,” Holly said quietly.  “Sands, it is good to see you, but…”


“So are you two?”


“In a way,” Sands said, it’s complicated.”


“Does it say that on your Facebook page?”


“I don’t have one,” Holly laughed – a bitter laugh.


“Let me guess – relationship problems?”


“What makes you say that?”


“My boyfriend and I are going through a rough period,” Tommy was amazed to hear those words come out of Krys' mouth.  “I recognise the signs.”

“You too?” Holly looked carefully at the beautiful woman. “My sympathies.”

“Are you having problems?”

“Krys you don't what to know what problems I'm having, and I'm not sure you'd even believe me if I told you.”


“Try me – Heather says one of the good things about me is I’m a good listener.”


Shaking her head, Holly said “why not – it might do me some good to vent, but Sands…”


“It’s okay – I’ll go and see what the rest of the Super Six are up to,” Sands said as she walked off.


“The Super Six?”


“Her friends from school,” Holly said with a hollow laugh as she sat down, Krys sitting next to her.  She saw the way Holly’s eyes followed her, before she said “so you love her?”


“Yeah, I do,” Holly said quietly as she sat with her head down, “the problem is, I also love my boyfriend.”


“Ah – and he found out?”


“You could say that,” Holly said quietly, “it came out by accident at a party, and – well, he did not take the news well.”


Krys was silent for a moment, before she said “he lost it?”


“And then some.  Not that I can really blame him,” Holly said quietly, “I kinda knew how he felt.  I struggled for ages when I realised how I felt about Sands, especially when I found out it had started in order to deceive someone else.”


Krys looked at her as Holly turned her head and smiled.  “I told you it was complicated.  Oh I forgave her in the end, after other things happened, and I realised I really did love her – but I also love Tommy.  So when he stormed out that night, I was so scared…”


“How old is Sands?”




“She looks older.”


“She does – and she is a really wonderful young woman, but I was so scared he would tell the authorities, have me arrested…”


“He didn’t, did he?”


Holly shook her head as she said “no, but we didn’t talk for an age – and even now he still seems a little off.”


Throwing her head back, Holly sighed as she said “listen, I think I can talk to you – maybe you are the good listener Heather says you are?”


“Do you mind if I ask a question?”  As Holly shook her head, Krys said “Holly, where are you on the LGBTQ scale?”


“B – I love a man and a woman, and I know one does love me, and the other I think still loves me, but he’s hurting so much he doesn’t know what to do.”


“That sounds natural,” Krys said quietly, “but it could be he does not know how to react, or what to say that would hurt you more.”


Holly turned her head and said “so there is a chance he still loves me?”


“Yes – there is a chance, but maybe…  Maybe he can’t find the words, and is still trying to work things out.”


As Holly nodded, Sands came back over.  “Want to come round tomorrow night, Holly?  Krys is coming to dinner, but we could talk afterwards?”


“Yeah – why not,” Holly said with a smile as three boys from St Augustines came over.


“Hello ladies,” one of them said in a slightly slurred voice, “would you like to dance?”


“With you?”  Sands looked at them and said “oh go on then – I’ll dance with you” as she dragged the redhead off.”


“And what about you,” the blonde haired boy said as he looked at Krys, “a pretty lady like you should dance with a real man.”


“Point me towards one?”



“Lowell who are those two young men starting to make fools of themselves slightly?” Nessa whispered to her dance partner.

“Two of mine I'm afraid,” the teacher looked closely, “They are both normally nice lads, but I think they may have both had a little much to drink.”

“You might need to have a quiet word.”

“I can see.”

“I don't know the taller woman, but Holly is in a rather delicate state emotionally and the last thing she needs is to be fighting off unwelcome advances.”


“Allow me,” Lowell said as he walked over…




“Okay who invited Buffy McGeorge?” Nell asked as her sister’s former archenemy appeared in the entrance, dressed in a fabulously over-the-top sequined evening dress with a  luxurious mink stole around her shoulders.

“As far as I know then nobody did,” Doc looked troubled, “I think she's crashing.”

“SHIT!” Nell cursed noiselessly, “I thought she was keeping safely out of the way.”

“So did I.”


“Nell,” Buffy said as she sashayed over, “I heard there was a party here tonight – who is the lucky birthday girl?”


“Buffy,” Nell whispered “what the hell are you doing here?”


“Looking for fun, don’t worry, I’ll try and avoid trouble,” she said as she looked round, “but who is that talking to Holly?”


“A friend of mine,” Heather said quietly, “so steer clear of her and Sands, Buffy – only warning…”




“Others might disagree,” Tom Callaghan smiled as he poured more champagne, “but personally I think Adam and I are accompanying the two most beautiful women in the room.”

“How many of these have you had?” Janice giggled.

“Oh don't try and stop him, I get few enough compliments from my husband.” Gale took a sip.

“Personally, I have to say that I agree with Tom.” Adam looked very happy, “those dresses are incredible.”

“They are actually rejects would you believe?”

“Rejects Jan?” Tom looked puzzled.

“Dresses that Nolan Miller made for Dynasty, but which Joan Collins and Linda Evans didn't like and thus were never used.”

“On the other hand Jan and I both said 'yes' when we saw them.”

“They look perfect on both of you,” Adam looked round when he heard a couple of raised female voices behind him.


“What’s going on,” Jan said as she turned round, to see Sands looking at Buffy.


“This is Erica’s party, Buff DARLING,” Sands said quietly, “do not embarrass her or me,” before she walked off.






“Thank you for singing at my party,” Erica gushed at Emma, “you were all brilliant.”

“No,” Andi Morecambe said with a smile, “thank you for not booing us off stage.”

“Why would we do that?”

“Yes why would they do that?” Shirley asked as she joined the conversation.

“Because I think in a way we looked a trifle ridiculous dressed as we did back then. I think we are all too old for these,” Emma looked down at what she was wearing.

“Ah but could you perform like you did in evening dresses like this?”

“That I'm not sure.”

“The music was brilliant though.  Took me back to the time before...”  Shirley for a few seconds looked sad and wistful.

“The time before?” Erica looked concerned.

“Oh it's nothing,” Shirley shook her head, “just old memories and thoughts of what might have been.”





“So how are you doing Jeans?” Becca asked as she plunked down beside her friend.

“Bluddy well,” for a second Jeannie let the Essex Girl in herself out and giggled. “I have never in my life danced this much, and the guys have all been so gentle and respectful.”

“We told the guys recruiting boys that we needed several big enough and strong enough to carry that overweight body of yours around,” Becca laughed aloud at the expression on Jeans' face.

“FAT am I? Oh you'll pay for that one Rebecca Morse,” Jeannie giggled more. “But it was nice of you all to find me some partners with no Winston here.”

“Having fun girls?” Brooke Hutton asked the younger women.

“Immense fun Judge.”

“Girls I truly think both of you are old enough to call me Brooke.”

“Okay,” Becca smiled. “Are you here on your own Brooke?”

“Sadly,” the older woman sighed, “my date let me down.”

“With you looking that incredible in that silver dress?” Jeannie shook her head.


“Well, I can still enjoy myself,” she said quietly as she watched Krys walk to the restroom.




“This is not as easy as I thought it was going to be,” Krys told herself as she tried to straighten up in the lavatory stall. Those beautiful and elegant long red talons on the end of her fingers made pulling things out and then putting them back in place almost hellishly difficult. The problem was gripping on and holding things. It was as simple as that.

“Well what do you make of that friend of Heather's?” She heard Liz Lodge talking to someone and stiffened.

“Absolutely gorgeous looking woman,” she heard Kelly Rochermann reply, “and brains as well. A first degree from Yale, a Masters from Boston University, and she can look that hot?”

“I know it's unfair,” Liz laughed lightly, “For those of us who barely made it through college its depressing when you meet someone with both those smarts, and those looks.”

“Well at least I hear she has a steady boyfriend so we don't have to worry about her casting her lures for any of 'our' men.”

“Be thankful for small mercies,” Liz laughed again.

“Okay this is good as I can look,” Krys heard Kelly sigh, and a faucet start to run.

“You still look hot Kel. Krystle Ernst be damned, let's get back in there and strut our stuff.”

“Wow they really think I'm that hot?” Krys looked at her reflection after touching up her makeup as Heather had taught her. “I guess I don't look that bad.”

Laughing lightly she draped her fur back over her shoulder, and with a wiggle in her walk headed back to the party.  As she walked out, she passed Buffy McGeorge heading in…




“Why does my Mom keep looking so sad Aunt Madeline?”

“Is she Maisha?”  Maddie stood and looked at the teenager, her head cocked to one side.

“Yes, and please don't tell me I'm imagining things. I saw you looking concerned as well.”

“Listen darling,” Maddie said as she sat down, “if I tell you a few things can you promise me you'll never tell your Mum that I told you?”

“I suppose so.”

“No Maisha you must promise on your oath.”

“Alright  I promise, now please what is going on?”

“What has Shirley told you of the time before she became Madame?”

“Only really that she was a typical eighties teenager.”

“That she was, full of dreams and hopes for the future,” Maddie sighed. “I suspect some of this is bringing back old memories.”

“What old memories?'“

“She hasn't told you about her being kidnapped has she?”


“Mum was kidnapped?  No, she never said that.  I know Aunt Catriona has said something about her not appearing in public for years.”


“Well, the two are linked.  When she was eighteen, someone kidnapped her and made it appear she had been killed in a car crash, to hurt her father.  That’s how your Aunt Sandra and I first met her, and we became friends.  It was some years before we all managed to escape, and she was reunited with her father – but those years changed her, they were the start of the journey to becoming Madame X.”


“So she was like me, taken from her family and home?”


“And taken to another country to be a slave, yes.  That’s why she was so determined to end the trade that brought you and Ama here – it was a red flag to her.”


“I never knew that – but it does explain why she is such a wonderful mother.  It makes me even more determined to make sure she and Dad are happy together.”




As Buffy came out of the stall, she was surprised to see Holly standing in front of the mirror, looking at herself.  She walked over, taking a lipstick from her purse as she said “Well, I should have realised you would be here, Holly.  Is Tommy here as well?”


Looking over, Holly’s brow darkened as she said “Buffy – what stone did you crawl out of under, and what the hell are you doing here anyway?”


“I came to have some fun – so is he here?”


“No – he had a trip out of town.”


“I heard a rumour he had dumped you – any truth in that?”


“What business is it of yours, Buffy – didn’t you cause me and others enough problems in the past,” Holly whispered, “I still haven’t forgiven you for that weekend, and what I had to do to protect those I loved.”


“I did see young Sands – she has become a beautiful young woman,” Buffy said as she turned and smiled.  “You two belong together – a pair of real bitches who don’t know how lucky they are.”


Holly gripped the edge of the bureau, before she turned and flew at Buffy, knocking her to the floor as she clawed at her face.




“This might not be anything Heather, but I think Holly and Buffy are alone in the powder room,”  Krys whispered quietly as she accepted a glass of champagne from a waiter.

“Oh crap.”

“I didn't hear, or even want to know, the details, but I heard there was bad blood between them back in the summer.”

“Yes there was...” Heather's voice trailed off for a second. “Can I ask why you didn't want to know?”

“Because I was in love with Holly and I didn't want to even hear any gossip about her.”

“Hence how you never heard about her and Sands?”

Shrugging her shoulders, Krys said quietly “I guess so.  Plus you were away for half the summer…”

“Do you still not want to know?”

“No...Yes...I'm not sure. Does that make sense?”

“Yes,” Heather smiled kindly. “Leave it to me and Sandy then to sort this out. You stay well out of the way.”


“Excuse me – may I have this dance?”


“Of course,” Krys said as she went on the dance floor with David, while Heather took Sandy by the arm.


“What is so urgent lover?” Sandy whispered.

“Holly and Buffy alone together in the powder room.”

“You think it might turn ugly?”

“Do you want to take the chance?”

“Not really.”

“I think we had better get in there and head off any trouble at the pass.” Heather started to head towards the lavatory.



As they got closer, they heard the screaming, and quickly walked in.


Holly was letting nothing hold her back – all the anger, the fear, the frustration was coming out as she clawed at Buffy, screaming “You have no bloody idea how much I have hurt, and still am hurting.  You think you’re so much better than me, but you’re not – you just don’t ooofff…”


The last phrase escaped as Buffy drove her knee into Holly’s stomach, making her fall back as she stood up.


“I know exactly what I am,” Buffy said quietly, slowly, as she wiped her cheek.  “And I still am a million times more alive than you, Holly – I’d never let any man, or any woman, drive me to the pathetic levels you are at now.  You need to get over yourself Berryman.”


“How dare you…”


The slap took Holly by surprise as Sandy and Heather came in.  “You stupid cow,” Buffy whispered, “make your bloody mind up and spare us all your moaning and moping around.   Because if you don’t, I may just take Tommy for myself.”


“Why you…”


“And that is enough,” Sandy said as she grabbed Holly from behind, and took her out of the restroom, Buffy looking at Heather.


“And what do you want?”


“You to leave – I’ll say nothing to Erica or her mother, but you leave.







“Did we ever meet at Yale?” Pussy asked as she sat with Krys.

“Not really,” Tommy went into the background story that Heather had created for him. “I was a lowly freshman and you were a grad student working on your Masters. I think I sat next to you a couple of times to eat, but I was pretty anonymous back then.”

“That might explain it,” Pussy smiled.

“I didn't really get to know Heather till our junior year when I changed floors in Brantford and I ended up on the same corridor as her.”

“And by then I was doing my doctorate in Germany.”

“So I later learned.”

“By the way have you met my wife?”


“Well this is my lovely Frieda,” Pussy smiled proudly.

“It's nice to meet you,” Krys extended a hand.

“And this is Krys Ernst, a fellow Yalie, and Brantfordian,” Pussy completed the introduction.

“It's lovely to meet you as well. Didn't I hear you a biologist?”

“I'm a microbiologist.”


“Oh?  Your particular interest?”


“The applications to forensic science – one of my interviews this week is with the PD,” Krys said as he saw Buffy McGeorge walk out, and Heather come out with Holly.  “Has there been a fight?”


“As I understand it, there is no love lost between those two…”





“You look worried about something, Maisha,” Shirley said as she sat next to her daughter.


“Not worried – well, not about me,” Maisha said with a smile.  “I was worried about you, you seemed a bit distant…  Mum, I once overheard you and Aunt Catriona talking about when you disappeared.  Were you kidnapped?”


Shirley let out a sigh and set “yes I was – and I should remember about teenage girls hearing things.  But I should not have any secrets from you, so yes - like you, I was taken against my will by someone, and lost far too many of my best years in servitude.”


“And that is why you fight for those like us?”


“It’s a big part of it,” Shirley said with a smile.


“Well, I for one thank you always for that – but how did you make your way home?”


“Ah – a combination of having had enough and your Uncle John recognising me in Paris one day.  I was able to be reunited with my father, but sadly my mother had died while I was away.”


“Would they have liked me?”


Shirley smiled as she said “I think they would – but I see Erica and others celebrating, and sometimes…”


“So what were you going to read at Cambridge Mum?” Maisha asked. “You've never said.”

“I was going to read architecture,” Shirley said with a sigh.

“You wanted to be an architect?” her daughter asked in surprise.

“Yes, I did.”

“WOW!” Maisha shook her head, “I never dreamt.”

“I've never told anybody, even Madeline doesn't know that.  I got A-levels in Art and Graphic Design as well as History and Economics.”

“It makes sense of a few things though,” Maisha smiled, “all your insistence on getting the Aldwych offices fitted out properly. Your huge interest in the work Nessa Richmond had done at Curragh Park, etc.”

Shirley looked at Maisha and smiled.  “Point, as you girls say.  I guess I still have an interest.”

“So why didn't you go to university when you returned?”

“Because by then, with everything that happened to me, all the things I had experienced, I'd decided to become Madame. The girl who wanted to design buildings no longer existed.”

“Not even deep inside Mum?”

“Oh a little,” Shirley sighed again. “Your Aunt Cat tried to get me to think about going back, but I was set on another path.”



“Holly, are you all right,” Sands as she sat with her girlfriend.  “Did someone hurt you?”


“It’s nothing,” Holly said quietly, “I vented, that’s all?”


“That’s all?  I can see the scratches – who did this?”


“It’s not important, Sands,” Holly said as she tried to smile.


“Holly, are you all right?”


“I am, thank you Denice,” Holly said as she stood up, “and I’m sorry if I’ve caused any problems.”


“Of course you haven’t,” Denice said with a smile as Jack came over.  “May I have this dance,” he asked as Simon le Bon started to sing.


“Yeah – why not,” she said with a smile as Krys came over.


“When Tommy sees Ms McGeorge…”


“He’d have to explain how he knows,” Sands said quietly.  “So what have you learned?”


“Apart from been a complete idiot at times?”


“I wasn’t going to say that…”


“You don’t have to,” Krys said quietly, “but I may slip away soon.”


“Mind if I come round and see you tomorrow?  I’ll call in advance so that you are decent.”





“Do I regret my life?” Shirley asked herself as she watched Maisha and Ama dancing with the other girls, “If I could really go back to the eighties, not just for a night like this, but for real, would I change anything?”

Almost without realizing she was doing it she reached into her handbag and pulled out a piece of paper, smiling as she looked at the fading pencil sketch of a house on it. It was what she'd drawn that fatal morning, an idea that had come to her over the last breakfast she'd ever eaten with her family, she'd intended to work it up when she got to Cambridge and it had been in her pocket when she was snatched. She had guarded that precious scrap of paper throughout her captivity, it had been her only link with her past life, her real life.

“No I'm not going to cry,” she told herself as she returned the drawing to her bag, “I've done far too much of that in my life.”

But she felt the tear on her cheek, and wiped it away as she shook her head.


“Oh what would people say if they knew that Madame X actually cried?” Shirley smiled slightly at the thought. What would they think if they knew that beneath the super-villainess was still that 18 year old girl so full of ambition, so looking forward to her life?



“What is upsetting Shirley John?” Mary Thomas asked as she caught the photographer standing at the bar chatting to Missy.

“Is she upset?” he glanced across the room to where his wife-to-be was standing up against a wall alone.

“Somethings bothering her,” Mary looked concerned, “at times she's looked as though she's a million miles away.”

“You think I need have a word?”

“It might be an idea.”

As he walked off, Mary smiled and shook her head, before someone else approached her.

“While John talks to Shirley, you and I need to have a word Merlin,” Missy said as she gave her old friend another glass of champagne.

“Oh – about what?”

“Krystle Ernst, young Heather's friend.”  Missy smiled as she sipped her champagne.   “Tell me about her.”

“I've never even met her,” Mary laughed.

“Bullshit,” Missy sipped her own drink, “I know a graduate of the Mary Thomas School of walking when I see one. Was she once a model?  And if she was why does she want to keep that secret?”


Mary shook her head as she said “no – maybe she’s another Love Bandit?  I genuinely do not know the woman…”




Shirley looked round to see who had joined her.


“A penny for them darling,” John asked softly as he passed Shirley a glass of champagne. “You looked so deep in thought.”

“Oh how do I answer that?” the inner voice in Shirley's head asked. “What can I possibly tell the man I love of what is going on in my head without revealing secrets about myself that would repulse him, and probably send him running to the police to reveal my secret identity?”

“Sorry, I'm just wallowing a bit in my memories,” it seemed a safe answer she told herself as she said the words.

“Some good...” John said quietly, “and an awful lot that aren't?”

“I suppose so,” Shirley tried to become her 'normal' self, “what gave me away?”

“Some looks of genuine pain I saw on your face as I was walking over here.” John smiled, “sometimes that face of yours betrays you my love.”

“It does?”

“Yes, so talk to me please, what is upsetting you?”



“Shirley, I've known since that night we met at your New Year’s Eve party that you keep a lot of things locked up within you. I've never pressed it and asked you because I love you, but one day will you please tell me at least some of those deep, dark, things that lurk inside you?”

As she smiled, Shirley said “what makes you think there is anything there?”

“Shirley I was a military officer - that requires you to be able to read and understand the men you command. I'm also a photographer who is fascinated by how I can reveal the true nature of people with my camera,” John smiled, “and also I once asked Cat, and she said that as and when you are ready that you'd tell me about some of the inner demons that haunt you.”

“Cat said that?”

“She wouldn't tell me what, like Maddie, Penny, and all your other friends she keeps your secrets darling, but yes she confirmed what I'd already guessed, that you've been hurt in your life, and hurt badly. I just pray one day you'll trust me enough to at least tell me a little about what happened to you?”


“Why don’t we dance,” Shirley said as she led John onto the floor while Simon le Bon started to sing a Tracy Chapman song.


Is all that you can't say
Years gone by and still
Words don't come easily
Like sorry like sorry

“John,” Shirley said quietly as they held each other, “You’re right, there is something I need to tell you – might go some way to explaining why I feel the way I do tonight.  When I was eighteen, I left home to drive to Cambridge and…”


“Shirley?”  John looked into her eyes and saw the tear as she looked up and said “I was kidnapped by a gang of men, taken to work as a slave, and it was years before I was rescued, and returned home.”


“My god,” John whispered, “who else knows?”


“Cat, a couple of others – but when I returned, I was changed in so many ways…  that’s why when I heard about Maisha, I felt I could provide a home for her.”


“Because you had been there?”


“Because I had been there…”


Forgive me
Is all that you can't say
Years gone by and still
Words don't come easily
Like forgive me forgive me

But you can say baby
Baby can I hold you tonight?
Maybe if I told you the right words
At the right time you'd be mine

John held her close as the tears came, saying nothing, knowing she had told her something so personal, so precious to her…

I love you
Is all that you can't say
Years gone by and still
Words don't come easily
Like I love you I love you

“I can hardly imagine what you went through,” he eventually said, “but it has made you a wonderful and caring woman.  A woman I am proud to stand beside in a few weeks.”


“You don’t think worse of me.”


“No – I think I just fell even more in love with you,” John said quietly as he kissed her.


But you can say baby
Baby can I hold you tonight?
Maybe if I told you the right words
Ooh, at the right time you'd be mine

Baby can I hold you tonight?
Maybe if I told you the right words
At the right time you'd be mine

You'd be mine

You'd be mine



“Excuse me?”


As Krys turned round, she was surprised to see Missy Auerbach standing beside her.


“I’m sorry, do I know you,” she said quietly.


“No – my name’s Missy Auerbach, I’m the head of NorStar.  I take it you have heard of us?”


“It’s a modelling agency, right?  I know my friend Heather knows some of the models you represent.”


“That’s right,” Missy said as she handed Krys a glass of champagne.  “Tell me, have you ever modelled?”




“Have you ever considered modelling?”


Under the disguise, Tommy had no idea how to react to this.  “I can honestly say I haven’t,” she finally said, “nor can I say I am interested at this moment in time.”


“Well, if you ever change your mind, call me,” Missy said as she handed Krys a card, and walked off, thinking she would call her…


“Okay what just happened?” Krys asked herself as she slowly sipped her champagne, “did I, or didn't I just get approached by Miss Auerbach about considering modelling... as a woman?

“Do I really look that convincing? Do I really look that good?”

For a few seconds Tommy tried to look at Krys from outside this body. yes Krys was tall, she was blonde, she had lovely eyes, and thanks to the skills of experts she was beautifully made-up, but Tommy had known Carina and her mother long enough to know that superficial looks were only part of what made a model. Insiders like Missy Auerbach were trained to look underneath the externals, and to look at the woman underneath...What was she seeing in Krys?

Part of Tommy was immensely flattered that he'd been approached like that, but part was also saying, “you are a man, not a woman,” why was he even thinking about what it might be like to be a female model?

“Does this mean I'm gay?” Tommy asked himself, “I've had sex with lots of women, was that all a lie?”

For a few minutes he thought carefully and tried to work out some answers. No he wasn't gay, but he did have to admit that since he'd stepped into Krys's high heels several confusing and conflicting emotions had washed over him. Why had he even fleetingly dreamed of what making love as a woman felt like? Why had he wondered what lesbian lovemaking was like? Why was he so confused?


He had met the likes of Courtney Love, is this how they felt when doing their act?  This sense of empowerment under an assumed disguise?  He went and sat down to think it over…




“Now it's traditional on occasions like this for the father to dance a solo dance with his daughter,” Denice said as she stood at the microphone. “Now as most of you know Erica's father deserted me when he heard I was pregnant, he cannot therefore be here to do this. Nor sadly can my own Dad who would have been bursting with pride I know if he could see his granddaughter tonight.” Erica took a deep breath, “I put a lot of thought into this and in the end I found myself asking young Simon as Erica's boyfriend for help.”

Denice let the murmuring die down.

“Simon suggested a name, and I'm so glad he did. Ladies and gentlemen can you please clear a space and let Sam Lodge dance this dance with Erica.”

There was applause as Sam led Erica onto the floor and put his arm round her waist as a waltz started to be played.


“You know in so many ways Simon truly is perfect,” Poppy watched as he led Denice onto the floor to join Erica and his father in the slow dance.

“I know,” Lynn smiled, “Just hopefully one day I'll meet a boy that caring and loving.”

“I think we all want that,” Jess sipped a coke.

“In the meantime though, has Missy Auerbach talked to you yet Bugs?” Poppy asked the tall blonde.

“No, why should she?” Mel looked puzzled.

“Do you never look in the mirror?” Aileen Gaunt asked as she and Vicky Clarke brought more food for the group.

“What do you mean?”

“What she means Bugs is that you are tall, blonde, gorgeous, and the scuttlebutt is that Missy sees you as a Norstar girl of the future,” Poppy grinned at the reaction on her friend’s face.

“Me model? You can't be serious?”


“I heard that before,” Suzie said with a smile, “both with Mary and then out of my own lips – although in my case, it was in Sydney.  So my question is – why not?”




“You too eh?” Krys heard a voice to her side, and turned to see Holly had sat next to her.

“Sorry, what? I was miles away,”

“Regretting that 'your' man isn't here to dance with to this?” Holly said quietly as she finished yet another glass of champagne.

“What makes you think that?”

“I recognize the look on your face,” Holly half-smiled, “I just saw it on my own face in the mirror.”

“Are you missing your boyfriend that much?”

“At moments like this? Then yeah. Tommy can be an idiot, but when he holds me close as we dance he sorta makes me melt.”

“And yet I heard whispers you have a girlfriend?”

“Yes,” Holly's face changed, “I'm in love with both a man and a woman.”

“That must be hard?”

“You have no idea,” Holly sighed, “my life's a bitch.”


“You can’t be the only person who has been in that position though – perhaps you need to talk to someone who has.”


“Like who?”



The partygoers applauded as Emma came back to the stage, and said “I’d like to do an old Lionel Ritchie classic.”  She nodded as the band stated to play, and began to sing.



I've been alone with you
Inside my mind
And in my dreams I've kissed your lips
A thousand times
I sometimes see you
Pass outside my door

Is it me you're looking for?
I can see it in your eyes
I can see it in your smile
You're all I've ever wanted
And my arms are open wide
'Cause you know just what to say
And you know just what to do
And I want to tell you so much
I love you

“Alright now she's pushing things,” Alex stood and watched as Nessa danced with her arms round Lowell's neck, and then started to kiss him with obvious passion.

“I hope she knows what she's doing?” Gus van Roon whispered in his old friend’s ear.  “Paulie tried to warn her to be less obvious earlier, but it doesn't seem to have worked.”

“I noticed,” the priest sighed, “I'm all for my sister enjoying her life finally, but a little discretion would go a long way.”


“Can I beg a ride home from you tonight Gus, I think Nessa will be taking someone else.”

“It looks that way, and of course you are more than welcome to come with us.”




“Care to dance?”


Krys looked up at the young man, and smiled as she said “why not?”  She walked onto the dance floor with him as they started to dance a slow dance.


“You’re a very beautiful woman – where have you been hiding,” he said as his hand moved down her back.


“In plain sight,” Krys said quietly, “but please, keep your hand there.”  Tommy was even more confused – he found Krys attractive?  A furtive glance down told him more than he wanted to know…


I long to see the sunlight in your hair
And tell you time and time again
How much I care
Sometimes I feel my heart will overflow

I've just got to let you know
'Cause I wonder where you are
And I wonder what you do
Are you somewhere feeling lonely?
Or is someone loving you?
Tell me how to win your heart
For I haven't got a clue
But let me start by saying I love you


“So how do you think 'she' is doing Merlin?” Heather whispered.

“I think young Tommy is being forced to confront a lot of what he thought he knew about, gender, sexuality, and identity...And it's confusing the hell out of him.”

“That was sort of how I was seeing this.”

“I know this started out as some form of nasty revenge from Sands, but I think it might have a positive outcome,” Mary smiled.

“Only time will tell on that, but I think that at least tonight it will all pass off okay.”

“Only if that young man dancing with Krys doesn't do something stupid,” Mary noticed Krys move the guys hands back to waist after he tried to squeeze her ass.

“Do I need intervene?” Heather now looked concerned.

“Only if it becomes obvious Krys can't handle Mister Obnoxious.”


Krys looked at him as she felt his hand move down again, and said quietly “don’t do that – I don’t like been touched there?”


“OH,” he said with a sneer as he pulled her towards him, and she felt the bump as well as smelt his breath, “where do you like to be touched?”


The pain in his eye as a well-placed stiletto went into the young man’s foot gave Tommy some joy, as Krys said “you’re never going to find out” and walked away, even more confused.


Is it me you're looking for?
'Cause I wonder where you are
And I wonder what you do
Are you somewhere feeling lonely?
Or is someone loving you?
Tell me how to win your heart
For I haven't got a clue
But let me start by saying I love you



“Why the unhappy looks old friend?” Juliette asked as the dancers applauded and cheered.

“Two amazing prospects here,” Missy shook her head. “One says she isn't interested, and the other I've been warned off even approaching.”

“Let me Guess, Heather's friend Krys, and young Melinda...Right?”

“You are Ju. Look at them both, tall, blonde, gorgeous to look at, and most importantly smart  and erudite with plenty of that indefinable quality all top girls have.”

“I had noticed darling.'“

“Well I refuse to let either go without a fight. They can both make a good sum modelling...”

“They can also make us a Norstar plenty,” Juliette laughed gently as she interrupted.


“Such cynicism – but yes you would be right in that.”




She smiled as she put her camera away, and finally left the party.  She was so glad she had decided to sneak back in – yes, Holly had spent most of the time moping or talking to Heather’s friend, but the picture of Nessa dancing and kissing with the teacher was going to make her a pretty sum.


Buffy smiled as she quietly slipped out, and made her way home…




“I think I'm going to call it an evening Heather,” Krys said as she kissed her on the cheek, “can you come over in the morning? By then I think I'll have a lot of things I need to talk about.”

“You aren't leaving because of that idiot trying to feel you up are you?”

“No,” Krys laughed, “I just need some peace and quiet to think a few things out.”

“Well you have my cell number, call if you need a sympathetic ear.”

“I will,” Krys smiled, “Now how does a girl get a cab at this time of night in New York?” she asked as she positioned her fur back over her shoulder.

“A girl asks this gentleman,” Heather laughed as she grabbed the man pushing Jeannie Brewster.  “John, Krys wants to go back to the apartment she's borrowed for the weekend. Can you call her a cab?”

“You are a cab...”

“Granddad that one is as old as the hills,” Jeannie groaned.

“I know, but it still works,” John laughed as he typed a few words into his phone. “Okay there will be a cab downstairs for you in five minutes.”

“Thank you,” Krys smiled gratefully.  “Just let me say goodbye to the birthday girl…”


“Nice girl,” Jeannie said as Krys talked to Erica, “I hope we see her again some time…”


“Thank you for coming,” Erica said with a smile as she saw the young woman leaving.


“People are starting to head home darling,” Denice hugged her daughter.

“I know,” Erica smiled, “It's been a wonderful party, but even I'm starting to yawn.”

“You've enjoyed yourself?”

“I have Mom, so many wonderful friends here, and such amazing gifts, I really have been so lucky.”

“It's not luck Erica,” Mary Thomas put her arm around the young black girl, “it's because people know and love you.”

“That's for certain,” Poppy put her arm round her friend.

“I'm taking Poppy home,” Pippa stifled a yawn, “but thank you for inviting us.”

“You were more than welcome,” Denice hugged her friend.  “We’ll see the others leave, then head home – a lie in tomorrow I think.”



“Well at least Sir gets lucky tonight,” one of the St Augustine's boys grumbled as they saw their teacher help Nessa into her fur coat and head towards the exit.

“I know,” another young man looked unhappy, “all these so-called 'easy' girls, yet we are all going home alone.”

“It isn't fair, even Richmond is getting some tonight...”

“And from Katy Carter,” another boy complained, “how does a zero like him get to have sex with a supermodel?”

“By being a gentleman, and behaving himself,” Brooke Hutton interrupted the conversation. “Now I trust all you boys are going to behave and there won't be any unpleasantness?”

“Yes Judge,” a couple of the boys mumbled.


“Good – say good night to Erica, and then head home…”





Saturday 20th November

12.30 AM

Sands and Holly’s Apartment


“Well that was some day,” Krys locked the apartment door behind herself and sighed.  She had started the day as Tommy, and now…

Quickly she walked to a chair, sat down, and let out a huge sigh of relief as she kicked off her shoes.

“Oh that feels so much BETTER!” she laughed at her own reaction. “How 'they' put up with wearing those I'll never know?” for a second Tommy was startled to hear a male voice and then realized that unconsciously he must have turned off the voice modification thing in the necklace.

“I better get all this off,” he told himself and draped the mink over the back of the chair, “perhaps I'll think more straight when I'm back to being myself?”

Slowly he undid the zipper and started to ease the glamorous dress off before realizing that despite his wishes, tonight he could not fully be Tommy. For a second he looked at the breasts held securely in the bra he had on. They weren't coming off, and at least tonight as much as he wanted to be himself again, they were going to ensure he was Tommy with a woman's breasts.

With a groan he pulled the straps down, then twisted the bra round his body and unhooked it. As he pulled the bra away his - or were they her breasts - bounced free.  He looked at them, and then made his way to the bathroom.


Fifteen minutes later, Tommy sat down on the couch dressed solely in an extremely long tee shirt. In the intervening time he'd untucked his male parts, stripped off his makeup, and for some reason changed wigs to the one that Mary and the others had told him was for everyday use.

He'd looked in the mirror and that had just confused him more. With the wig on his head, those long red nails on his hands, and with his breasts tenting the tee shirt, he had still looked like a woman. He'd had to look hard to see Tommy at all. What he had seem was Krys, his alter ego – his other self, and he had admired that person.


What the hell was happening?

After a few seconds he was distracted by his phone going off and he read the message.

“Not so easy is it?” the message read, and it was signed Alexandra.

“Stop gloating Sands,” he mumbled to himself as he turned it off.

No it hadn't been easy, he told himself, but at the same time he had to say it had also been fun in places, and it had given him some insights into what it was like to be female.

There were just so many questions racing round his brain, and so very few answers.


Had Missy Auerbach truly been serious about going to see her about modelling? Or had someone let her in on who it truly was under the fabulous dress, and it was some kind of huge joke? Had he really had to fight off the advances of a randy teenager like that? Gently he laughed he remember the satisfaction of putting his heel into the boys foot like that.


“I guess I need to sleep on this,” he said as he looked over to the bar.  Walking over, he opened the fridge and took out a bottle of Budweiser, then opened it.  He was about to drink from the bottle when he stopped, and poured it into a glass before sitting down.


“What did I just do….”




1 AM

Nessa’s Apartment


“Now am I doing this right?” Nessa ran her tongue over her own gorgeous red lips before she knelt in front of the naked man sitting in one of her beautiful Louis Quinze armchairs.

“So far,” Lowell smiled down at the still gorgeous older woman as she knelt naked between his open legs and gently started to lick the head of his cock

“Mmmmm that's not bad at all,” she ran her long red nails up and down the base of his shaft, “I think me and him are going to have a good time tonight darling,” Nessa looked up and winked at the man before taking the head of his penis and slowly easing it into her own mouth.

“Oh my God,” she could feel him tense as the sensation of having her simultaneously lick and suck on his cock began to hit him.

Gently she squeezed his ball sack as she started to try and take him deep into her mouth, consciously relaxing as she let the bulbous head make its way into her throat. Her lips locked tight as she maintained suction.


As her mobile phone pinged, Nessa glanced over.  A message with a photo?  She would look at it later…




3 am

Park Avenue


Shirley turned over and saw John sleeping on his side, before she slipped out of the bed and put on her silk dressing gown.  Quietly, she made her way into the kitchen and started to heat some water, the words Maisha had shared going through her mind.


Her daughter was right, in a way – the fact she had been snatched, her life taken from her, was a motivator to the support she was giving now, but the road less travelled was going through her mind.  What would have happened had she not been forced into servitude with Master?


She might have qualified, and been head of her own architecture consultancy now – advising on new projects, been happy...



But then… Then she would not have bene there for Ama and Maisa when the time came, or for any of the others for that matter.  Her organization had done so much good there – as if the burning of her old life had allowed such lush, green shoots to come out with their freedom.


And the chances were she would never have met John, or so many of her friends…


No – whatever regrets she may have at what she did not have, she was Madame X and she had to be what life had made her, and what had been allowed to come out.


The sound of her cell phone buzzing made her look, and smile as she answered it.  “Cat – do you know what time it is here?”


“And yet, you are still up,” she heard Catriona Crawford say, “can’t sleep?”


“A lot of things to think about – I told John about my kidnapping tonight.”


“All of it?”


“No – just that I was finally returned home a few years later.  I don’t think he needs to hear the full tale – or that I should tell him.


“Not yet, anyway.”


“Which is why my ears were burning – not long now, you know?”


“I know – I look forward to seeing you all here for the day…”







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