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A series of stories with TG themes, dedicated to women, and to men who like to be women (which includes me!)
F is for Fiona - The First Day of the Rest of my Life
by Bethany Jacques
I drove into the store car park. Stopped in my usual place, the one which said 'MAN' in bold letters on the tarmac, short for manager of course. Just for a moment I shivered despite the warm spring weather, this was honestly the first time the incongruity of that label struck me.
I pulled on the handbrake, looking down at my hand as I pulled. The three rather fancy rings, the long nails, brought home to me the true realisation of just what I was about to do. I did wonder at that moment if I'd taken leave of my senses, OK, I'd done my homework, given Human Resources a full period of notice of what I planned to do, as required by law. Not criminal law, that is, there was no way what I'd planned could be described as actually 'breaking the law' as in committing a crime. But civil law or employment law, I'd needed to be sure they couldn't take any action against me, sack me or suspend me or anything like that.
When I told them they'd been surprised. Hell, of course they were. But I'd quoted the precedent, the case which had gone through the courts. Jenny Tucker, her name was, or rather is now. She'd done the same thing as me, the first case like that in the UK, she worked for a rival chain store, in Gateshead. But I'd carefully read the judgement, I knew damn well my situation was similar, nearly identical even, different store, same area, similar employment level, she was a section head in their store, OK I was the manager but the same rules had to apply.
I reached across for my bag, still thinking, still wondering if I could back out. Save face in some way, there were going to be problems ahead, I knew. Not everyone on my staff would agree, I'd get the whispers and so on. But I so wanted this, I'd taken the plunge. Head Office had sent three different people down that previous fortnight. The first two were all for persuading me not to go ahead, they were threatening me almost. But I'd just thrown the case details and my own doctor's comments back at them. By the end of the second guy's visit they knew, if there were problems they could be liable, they had an obligation to look after my 'Health and Safety at Work'.
Great stuff, this Euro-legislation. And when the lawyers start to get out of implementing it in the UK they nearly always lose.
The third visitor from on high had been a woman. An attractive woman. I know she saw me looking at her but I'm damn sure she didn't realise why.
"Mr Fletcher. Or can I call you Fred?"
"Sure, Ms Harrison, for the moment, anyway" I grinned.
She appreciated the humour in the situation and smiled slightly. "Thanks, and I'm Emma. Now, Fred, I need to be sure about this. And you need to be totally sure. The company can support you, and indeed will do so, just as SafeSave supported Ms Tucker in her situation. But I'm sure you appreciate, we have responsibilities, to our other employees, the directors and shareholders, the customers too, all twelve million of them. If there were to be any adverse publicity, our client base could suffer, the share price...."
"Er - excuse me. Emma, look, you've been very understanding and I do appreciate fully your comments. But you manage the publicity stuff and so on at Head Office, we do very little of that sort of thing here at the local level, even with a big store like mine. Now, what I'm going to be doing, and I do assure you I am determined about this, from Wednesday week, is totally legal in every respect. I certainly don't want bad publicity, you must realise that. I just want to get on with my own job, and to do it as well as I have up to now. I'd appreciate your help, not just yours personally, Emma, but Head Office too. I don't want any publicity at all, in fact though I realise it is inevitable, as it was with Jenny. Ms Tucker, that is."
After which Emma was much more agreeable. I really had done all the checking. There was at that stage absolutely nothing the company could do to prevent me, I was well within my rights. For the rest of the meeting, another hour or so after that, she was much more supportive.
"So, apart from your doctor, have you told anyone else? Any of your colleagues maybe?"
"Well, Emma, one best friend, a mate of mine since way back, and my parents obviously, and one other doctor and one therapist I was referred to. And Kate. My secretary, she's the only member of my staff I've told."
"Your secretary!? She knows? What's her reaction, what did she say when you first told her?"
"Kate is a very loyal secretary, Emma. She's worked for me, actually I'd prefer to say with me, almost four years now, she came just after I was promoted to this position. She's very efficient, and very pragmatic."
"Pragmatic? That surprises me, I'd have thought she would have been against it, then. As impracticable, maybe."
"I didn't tell her here, Emma, I invited her back for dinner one evening. And before you begin thinking the wrong thing, we have never been in any way romantically involved, not at all. I know she's had a couple of boyfriends in these past four years, I only ever met one of them. But to get back to the point, I told her after dinner one evening. As you suggest, she was very surprised. But then I explained, and got changed, to show her. You can ask her yourself if you like, maybe on your way out. I don't want to sound dismissive, Emma, but I have a supplier coming in at three, we've gone over time as it is. Look, how about coming down here again next week, say on Thursday, for lunch. We can discuss how things have gone then?"
Emma did discuss things with Kate, but as I expected my secretary was very supportive. I like to think I'm a good boss, and that all my staff were going to be equally positive. But I wasn't sure. However many were on my side some were bound to be wary, or even opposed, even in these enlightened times.
However, Saturday had been D-day. Or F-day rather, or G-day maybe. W-day more probably. I'd broken the news to my department heads in our lunchtime meeting, and then gone off-site, I'd booked a long period off which must have surprised them. I'd always been a bit of a workaholic, rarely going through a weekend without popping in to the store to see how things were going. So I'd left them to tell their own people during the afternoon before we'd closed that evening, and I'd taken ten days off. The whole of the following week, and the Monday and the Tuesday.
Now was Wednesday week. Ten very busy days, preparing and sorting. Kate had come round the previous afternoon to see how I'd gone on. She'd probably have come earlier and helped out more but I hadn't wanted her to. This I had to do on my own.
I looked round. I should have guessed. Kate was there, at the store entrance, chatting to one of the security guys. He was probably glad to have someone to talk to, he'd been there about two hours, since seven. My deputy had opened up, I'd said I'd be later that morning, in at nine. I looked round again, the car park was full-ish, quite good for a Wednesday morning. Lots of shoppers, Mums with kids in trolleys, older customers, men and women, trying to eke out their pensions. Some families too, not many, most of the kids would be at school.
But this wouldn't do. There really was no going back. Now or never, and never wasn't an option, not after my amazing announcement the previous week. So, it was now. I opened my car door and reached across for my handbag. I lowered one stiletto-heeled foot to the floor and, as daintily as I could, got out of the car. I blipped the alarm and set off towards the store.
Kate was obviously expecting me, but she didn't see me at first. She was giggling with the security guy, Phil, I remembered his name. Nice man, not married I think. I wondered if Kate ... maybe, they looked 'good' together, similar ages. And he was into progressive rock, I think, he'd mentioned something about that to me one day while we were inspecting the CD storage, trying to work out how to minimise pilfering. Kate and he definitely shared that taste.
As I got closer to the store front I glimpsed my reflection in the large, dark, almost mirror-like plate glass panel by the cash machine. That reflection, seen in that location for the very first time. I looked as I walked. Always the legs first, I'd always been a 'leg man'. Had been that is.
The black stilettos were standard business-wear or course, all my female senior staff wore them or something similar. Black stockings, not too outré. Dark grey business suit, rather tight-ish skirt. Kate had said it looked too tight when she'd seen me in it, but when I had insisted she'd just said 'OK then, too tight, I still think so. But definitely sexy!' The white blouse had been her choice and I had gone with her on that, just a little frilly, mock silk texture, I'd liked that. One gold chain round my neck as well as the three rings on my fingers. I knew they looked good, and the neck chain colour and pattern picked up the style of the gold earrings. They had been an extravagance but I'd treated myself when I'd had my ears pierced, that was where I'd shot off to the previous Saturday afternoon. Time enough for the holes to heal enough, anyway as far as I was concerned they were an essential part of how I wanted to be seen.
And the hair. A wig at this stage, I had my doubts as to whether I'd ever be able to grow my own hair long enough, not when I thought of my father's bald head, and when I remembered my grand-father, similar hair problems. So a wig was essential. I'd already chosen the colour, Kate had no say in that. I was to be a redhead. My own colouring leant a little towards the red, from my mother of course. I'd actually borrowed four different styles and lengths from the hairdressing salon I'd been to, once I told them why they had been incredibly accommodating. Kate had agreed with me that the half-way-down-my-back wig was going too far, but we had agreed on a long, fairly full wig, not 'big hair' but heading that way. Shoulder length, maybe just a little more.
I couldn't see my make-up reflected in the mirror, but I'd done that oh-so carefully that morning. I knew I'd have to speed up, I couldn't take over an hour every day, but on that Wednesday it had to be good. And it was. I'd studied the magazines, the videos, I'd done that for years like most trannies. I'd come up with a look which suited me, not too much eye-shadow or mascara. The lipstick was a colour Kate had chosen for me when I'd explained what I was aiming for. And the nail varnish of course, both a deep cherry red, I'd been in a state of excitement applying the colouring to my lips that morning. Funny, in some way the two things that identify 'female-ness' - deep-coloured lipstick, and seamed black stockings. Not that I was wearing the latter of course, not for a work day anyway.
As I got nearer to the store I was distracted. Well, we're all vain aren't we. Not 'ggs' that is, genuine girls, some are and some aren't. But girls or women like me, we really are vain, always pay such an awful lot of attention to our appearance. I was still looking in the mirror, not properly paying attention to where I was going. Which is why, it wasn't his fault at all, a young man in a hurry almost rammed his trolley into me.
"Shit! Sorry, darling" he muttered, quite loudly.
"That's all right" I replied, a little embarrassed. 'Darling' indeed. He grinned at me, and carried on past me.
Kate had noticed our near collision, she looked a little alarmed, probably disappointed at not having spotted me earlier.
"Good morning, Ms Fletcher"
Nothing special, just an ordinary matter-of-fact greeting to one's boss. Polite, respectful really, absolutely nothing in her tone of voice to indicate anything out of the ordinary. Not that this was going to be in any way an ordinary day.
"Good morning Kate" I replied, giving her 'that look'. I didn't know if I could still do it, give the look through the hair and the make-up, but she got the point. I had always encouraged nearly all my staff to call me Fred. That would have to change.
"Sorry, I mean Fiona". Matter of fact again, she really is a damn good PA, not just a secretary.
Philip had noticed, he seemed puzzled at first despite the fact he certainly knew the sort of thing to expect. But I like to think he was taken aback - not so much by the sheer beauty of his new boss, rather by the fact that I didn't look like a man in drag. He recovered quickly.
"G' morning Fiona." He was quick, he realised what his reaction should be.
I smiled a greeting towards him, I didn't have time to speak, Kate was by my side. She reached across and clipped my ID badge on the lapel of my jacket.
"Ms Fletcher, you look sensational. I mean, I was surprised when I saw you yesterday but - well - you really do look gorgeous today. Exceptionally good if I may say so. The red hair is right, suits you wonderfully, and that IS the right style. Welcome Fiona, to the first day of the rest of your life." And she reached across and, very quickly and very quietly, kissed me on the cheek.
Philip was watching, I'm rather glad he didn't consider kissing me too! I could just see the badge - Kate had used a small image pasted from one of my photos, stuck it onto the badge and probably done the typing herself. I looked. 'Ms Fiona Fletcher. Store Manager"
I glowed. "I thought of putting manageress, Fiona, but that's not done these days is it? 'manager' is generic now, I think."
As the manager I'd been the only member of staff allowed not to wear my badge. Basically, as the boss, nobody could tell me off for not wearing it! Sometimes I had, specially when dealing with visitors or with customers, but when I'd taken my jacket off in the summer, working in shirt-sleeves and so on, I'd never bothered to move my badge. But this one, this was different. Not just a badge, this was a statement. This time I actually wanted to wear it.
Philip was still looking at me, a little open-mouthed. Fiona noticed him and reached across to push his lower jaw up a little. And all the while, as we were chatting, customers came and went. And - nobody noticed!
"Right, Fiona. Do you want to sneak in the side door this morning?"
"No, Kate. I don't see why I should. But I'd like you to go up to the office first, please. I need to do this on my own."
She walked in ahead of me, I could almost sense, stood there just for a minute or so next to Philip, everyone looking towards her, wondering where I was. Luckily Philip had to deal with a customer, he was distracted for a while. He was probably glad, I could see he was somewhat embarrassed. I expected quite a bit of that during the day. However. Enough of this. It was time. Time to go in, to do my job, to show myself to my staff.
I turned and walked in through the big open double-doors, not consciously looking round but aware. The eyes I had sensed a short while ago would certainly be on me now. I steered myself, my usual routine, towards the Customer Services desk, my first port of call always. Jackie was there. She at least had spotted me. I smiled.
That was all I usually said. She looked at me, not really unsure, she knew me all right despite the long red hair, the make-up and the outfit. She was just unsure how to react. Understandable really. I mean, it's not every day your boss 'suddenly' becomes a trans-sexual, and walks into work in black stockings and high heels, together with all the other accessories. She really couldn't speak. Luckily there were no customers waiting, Jim at the other end of the counter was dealing with a young woman, he really hadn't noticed. I smiled at Jackie.
"It's all right, Jackie. It's still me, you know."
Which really was a rather pathetic way of 'introducing' the new me. I regretted my choice of words as soon as I'd said them. But Jackie thought quickly, she was good at that, that was why I'd appointed her.
"Good morning, Fiona. Nice to see you. Had a good holiday?"
Which was exactly what she would have said to Fred, just the name change.
"Busy, and a bit different from usual"
Jackie reached out and handed me - my mints. I always, every morning, took a small pack of mints from stock, manager's perk, I didn't have many vices but that was one. She knew this was in one sense the old 'Fred', albeit in radically different packaging, if you like. And the mints was one thing she knew wasn't going to change. I reached out a hand and watched as, red nails glistening a little in the store's artificial lighting just inside the door there, my hand took them. I almost automatically moved my hand down to my suit pocket, then realised. I smiled, Jackie giggled, she had realised. I opened the gold clasp on my handbag and dropped them in.
Jackie, quietly, in nearly a whisper, said "Fiona. You look great. Well done." And turned to deal with a customer, exactly as she knew I would want her to do. Social chit-chat is OK in the workplace, but customers have to come first.
I turned towards the staff lifts, I could see Gavin, my Assistant Manager, looking towards me and talking with Mary Hodge. She is the Catering manager, runs the In-Store café, I knew - of course, they were discussing - me. I walked up to them.
"Morning Mary, Gavin. Are we OK for the 11 o'clock meeting, the promotions for next month? OK?"
Very matter-of fact. I just had to be. In some way or other this day had to go well, but it still had to be an ordinary working day. Or at least the ordinary things, like meeting staff to discuss projects, these things had to be done.
"I'll see you later, Fiona. Coffee at 10.15, first. Must go."
Mary did seem embarrassed, as Philip had done. Though I'm sure she did have things to sort out with her staff. Gavin turned, much as he had always done, we walked together towards the staff lift. He pushed the button, we waited.
I'd left clear instructions the previous week, that was to be my name. Absolutely no-one was to use the name 'Fred'. Gavin knew enough about me to realise that in a situation such as this, unusual though it was, the 'name' thing was crucial.
"Yes?" I replied, looking across to him as we waited, and only then realising that in high heels I was three inches nearer to his height, he's about 6-4.
"Fiona. I just thought you'd like to know. You look fucking gorgeous!"
We walked into the lift and I turned towards Gavin.
"Thanks for the compliment but - watch it. Comments like that and I'll have you up for sexual harassment."
It took a moment for Gavin to realise that my comment was intended to be humorous. Only once had I had to do that, to discipline and eventually to sack, an employee for use of inappropriate language in the company of female staff. Pity in one way, he'd been a good worker, good prospects. But he just couldn't calm down his extravagant vocabulary, about the third time he used the c-word in the presence of a woman I had to let him go.
Yet my comment to Gavin had a serious side to it, I wanted to make the point early on in our renewed relationship, manager and assistant that is. OK, so I had been Fred. But now I was Fiona. And I wanted, indeed I demanded the respect accorded to my status, even though I was 'manageress' instead on manager.
We left the lift, Gavin waiting as he should to allow a woman to go first, and walked up to Kate's desk in the foyer to the office suite. She looked up and raised an eyebrow as if to say 'OK? How did it go?'
I smiled positively, I didn't need to say more. She followed me into my office, Gavin waited outside while I got the basics sorted.
"The walk round. Ten o'clock? Which departments, Fiona?"
I always went down onto the shop floor mid-morning, showing my face and checking up. With six big sectors in the store I couldn't usually do them all in one go, so I usually picked two, almost at random, and went round checking over the displays and the stock and the staff and so on, I could cover two sectors well in 45 minutes.
"I'll do the lot today, Kate. Skip through quickly this time. I need to show my face, let people at least begin to get used to my new situation."
"Good idea. You've a bank meeting at 11.30, Jeff Green rang to confirm. To do new signatures and so on. And Ms Harrison called, she's had to reschedule, says she's very sorry but her husband has some sort of commitment tomorrow so she's hoping to do lunch here today. She want a quick response, shall I get her mobile? She's in the Redditch branch now but can get here for 1 if that's OK?"
I thought quickly, I didn't really want to make a decision on meeting someone from head office again so quickly but I just said yes - think about any problems later. I didn't think Emma would be a problem, eventually after talking things through on her previous visit she had seemed rather positive. I could just give her lunch in the café, of course. Probably the best idea. When I mentioned this to Kate she agreed and said she'd sort the details a little later, after she'd called to confirm the visit. I could just do the other five departments on the tour, fit in the café at lunch.
I opened my office door to go in, start on the post and so on - and I had to stop. I looked over towards me desk, in surprise. Once, on Valentine's Day a few years back the Bakery people had sent me a bunch of flowers. But this time - there were loads, five or six large bouquets on the desk and on the chair beside it. I looked across at Kate.
"Six bouquets, Fiona, every department. After you left on that Friday there was obviously a lot of discussion. We all decided this would be a good idea. To welcome you, Fiona, as the 'new woman in the store. And this one is from me."
She took a small box from its hiding place behind her desk, a single red rose. Then she moved towards me and clipped it onto my lapel, again kissing me lightly on the cheek as she did so.
"And this..." She reached down again to pick up an enormous flower arrangement, red and white roses mainly ... "arrived this morning. So tell me, Fiona, have you a secret admirer - already?"
I opened the card, I should have known. "Welcome, Fiona. XXX from Jeff."
From my bank manager, my 'best mate' Jeff. We'd know each other since just after our college days, it was something of a coincidence we'd both ended up north of Birmingham, him being the manager of the branch the company dealt with there, two good reasons why I'd moved my account there. Apart from Kate and family he was the only person I'd confided in about my earlier TV behaviour, and my decision to properly 'go TS'. I hadn't even told his wife, I imagined he wouldn't have yet.
I smiled. Even Jeff hadn't actually seen 'Fiona', he was going to get a bit of a surprise later that morning. I remembered our conversation of a couple of weeks earlier.
"OK Fred, you said you had something to talk about. It sounded important so go ahead, I'm all ears."
"Right Jeff. Straight out with it. Do you know what a 'transsexual' is?"
He'd not replied. Maybe he expected to ask something about my account, or the store's, or maybe about having a loan for a new car or something. I went on.
"Well, Jeff. I'm a transsexual. Which is to say, I'm a woman."
He'd still not replied. I tried to imagine what I, in a similar situation and without the sort of insights I had, would reply to that sort of comment. I'd probably be too surprised to say anything.
"OK Jeff, you're surprised. Shocked even. But apart from family and some doctors you're the first person I've ever said this to."
I didn't know what he meant. Why was I a transsexual, or why was I telling him? In either case he obviously deserved a lot more details, and I began to explain, about my tranny leanings as a youngster, suppressing my real thoughts in my early working life, and finally the realisation a couple of years ago that I really should face up to it, and do something about it. As I spoke - I went on for nearly half an hour, Jeff butted in with questions about some aspects of what I was telling him. I was relieved - he HAD been the person to consult, or rather to tell, he was taking it seriously. Eventually I paused.
"So, Fred. I'm going to have to get used to calling you 'Fiona' am I?"
"Is that the only problem you can see?" I asked him rather incredulously.
"Fred, I've known you for years. Not as well as I'd thought in some ways, I really have never ever thought anything like this was going on in your life. But I know you stick to your guns. Doggedly. And I also know you wouldn't be telling me all this if you didn't trust me to reply honestly. I suppose I'm flattered you think that of me. But if you're going ahead you will have my full support, in whatever way I can help. So just let me know what you want."
I stood up, actually to fetch us a couple more drinks. I thought we needed them.
"But if you're going to kiss me, forget it!" he said. And then grinned widely.
I did get the drinks and we sat down again.
"So, Fred. You've never married. Are you gay, or bisexual? Is that a factor here?"
Only Jeff would have asked me a question like that in such a way. I paused a moment.
"Either 'not really' or 'I don't know'. Take your pick, the jury is still out on that, despite all the questions from Doctors and therapists I really am not sure. I am certainly a woman. I've got my gender totally clear in my own mind, though I'm not at all convinced about my sexuality. And that is very odd."
And I told him about my experiments in that area. My two sort-of sexual encounters when I'd been out dressed as a woman, two very different experiences. The only two occasions in my whole life when I'd actually felt a desperate need to try to discover just what I'd feel in such a situation. OK I'd thought about it, even fantasised, lots of times. But I'd only actually felt the urge to do something about it two times. And Jeff was the one person, like I said doctors and family apart, I could tell.
"I mean, Jeff, at that time I really hadn't got myself sorted, this was quite a while back. Really I still regarded myself as male, I just thought I was a trannie."
"A transvestite you mean?"
"Sure. I was very into the whole clothes and make-up thing. Went to extremes really, big high heels and very large false boobs, that sort of thing."
"So, what's wrong with that, Fred? I'm sure some guys love doing that."
"Yeah, sure, I did. I went to a special tranny club, you know, actually maybe you don't! Just a social club, this one was upstairs at a pub in Dudley. Just the chance for trannies to dress up, sometimes dancing and meeting other trannies and guys too. Anyway, to cut a long story short, this guy picked me up there, got me a couple of drinks and so on, we ended up in his car in the car park making out."
"Making out?" Jeff didn't actually ask me what I meant.
"OK, we ended up having sex."
"Well, I was flattered, Jeff. He was very complimentary, like I said I was into clothes and so on at the time in a big way. I'd gone all out that night, tight miniskirt, high heels, big breast-forms, the lot really. And I really did turn him on, when I got into his pants he was massively erect already. And I got excited myself with him stroking my thighs and sliding his hand in my knickers. I think the right thing to say is that I seduced him. I don't think I raped him, he was too willing for that. I mean, when his cock was sliding into me, he was obviously enjoying himself. No, it wasn't rape, just plain dirty sex."
Jeff had been quiet for a time. "It just shows, Fred, I mean, at that time I just had no idea..."
"No reason you should have, Jeff. Though the second time it was because of your party, remember your fortieth?"
"Course I do. What do you mean 'because of my party'. How?"
"Remember that tall woman, Gemma I think it was?"
"I do remember, friend of Tracy's I think."
"Well, it was because she was so tall and still wore high heels, I remember thinking, not at all seriously, that I'd seen trannies on the net who looked very similar to her. And that got me pondering again. By then I think I had realised that I am really female. That's why I got dressed up and went shopping a couple of days later. I'd never seriously done that, only quiet outings in the evenings. I got a middle-of-the-road outfit together, not very high heels, not too short a skirt, and so on. And went into Marks and BHS and a couple of other places."
"In the daytime? Wow, very brave of you."
"Not really, I'd moderated my 'look' a lot. I mean, I still like to look sexy when I dress, tarty even at times. Most TV and TS women do. But just to go shopping I calmed it down a lot. And I still got chatted up on my way home."
"Yes. Outside the café at BHS would you believe. Some older guy, he saw me on my own and assumed I wanted some company. I went along with him to a pub near there, he bought me a couple of drinks and started to get fresh."
"Yes, touching my knee it the pub, whispering dirty suggestions into my ear."
"Dirty old man!"
"Yes, I suppose he was, though in the 'dirty' scheme of things I think I gave as good as I got. He was certainly aroused, probably didn't expect to find a woman so up for it in the BHS café!"
"You mean he didn't realise?"
"He had no idea. We ended up in the car park snogging furiously, heavy petting I suppose, it was my one and only time properly as a woman with a man, not as a TV I mean. "
"And nothing. I didn't call him. OK he was a bit of a nutter but it was what I was after at the time. I just wanted to see if I could 'pass' with a man. But that meeting did give me the confidence to dress as a woman and go out even more. Never been picked up like that since though, mind you, I stay away from the BHS café!"
Jeff and I had chatted on for a while. Eventually he'd asked me if he could see what I looked like dressed up. I said no, really I was going to have to take some time to get over that conversation. I'd been stressed thinking about it, I needed to wind down after that. Anyway my therapist I was seeing at the time had advised against it when I'd mentioned it to her.
And so on that Wednesday morning I'd driven across town to the bank, ostensibly to re-sign in front of a witness so that cheques signed 'Fiona Fletcher' from the store's account would still be honoured. But also, for the first time, to confront my best mate Jeff in my new persona. His regular secretary must have been on holiday, he had a temp in that day. She smiled when I went in, and announced me as we went in to see him
"Miss Fletcher" was all she said, then turned and closed the door. I faced Jeff, This was an important moment for me. Jeff just stood there for a moment, looking me up and down.
"Welcome, Fiona" he said, holding out his hand. I shook it gently. He didn't let go.
"And this time, Fiona, I AM going to kiss you."
And he did. Just on the cheek, just briefly. "Lets do the formal stuff first, shall we?"
He called in one of his staff, someone I didn't know, but he took his boss's word that I was who I said I was in witnessing my 'new' signature on the documentation. Then Jeff called for two coffees, we sat down together, alone again after the interruptions.
"OK so I call you Fiona. You look like a Fiona. But somehow I have to remember the person behind the clothes is my old friend Fred."
"Something like that."
"OK. This isn't going to be easy, Fiona. Really, you do look great. Even though I know, Fiona, I'd take you for 100% woman. Or is just saying that unkind in some way? I want to be honest with you but I'm still not sure how to speak to you."
"To be honest Jeff, I don't know either, I've never changed sex before!"
We discussed things for a few minutes, one item of store / bank business, more discussion about my change of status, where I saw myself being in the coming months and years. And on the way out, not exactly in public but as he was showing me out, and in full view of any of his staff who happened to be watching, I got another kiss. Short again but definitely sweet.
Back at the store I arrived just in time to greet Emma just as she arrived. She didn't recognise me immediately either and was again complimentary on how well I 'passed' as female. But we never did have lunch, she had been called across town yet again to sort out an assistant manager who hadn't been as meticulous as the company liked in doing his job. So we only got ten minutes together in the café.
While we were in there, I tried not to notice but I did get a few strange and not very polite looks from some of the staff in there. Mainly men, boys rather, it wasn't really surprising to me that almost all the female staff I met that day were coping well with the new situation of their manager. It was the males who were having problems.
After Emma had gone I hid for a little while, I admit, in my office. Doing some paperwork. Really, in my ten-day absence Gavin had stood in extremely well, I knew I was bound to lose him soon. He'd make a good manager somewhere and I'd have to give him a good reference if he wanted to move upwards somewhere.
And then a situation in the café came to my rescue. I got a call that there was a problem, one of the customers was asking loudly to see the manager. I went down into the store to investigate. A rather stout woman had complained about the service she had received and was demanding to see me. The bakery manager was trying to placate her.
"Hell. Mrs Chivers? I'm Fiona Fletcher, the manager, would you like to come up to my office and we can try to sort out the problem."
She was obviously wrong. No, it's not true the customer is always right. Eventually I had to call up one of the café staff, in fact one of the young men who I think had been sniggering at lunchtime when I'd been in there with Emma. But this time instead of being with one or two of his friends, he was alone. And worried. After all he was being called up by senior staff after a customer complaint. I spoke to him outside my office first, out of Mrs Chivers' earshot.
"Look, Harry. This woman is in the wrong, don't worry. I just have to get us both out of it. OK?"
"Er - yes." he didn't say 'Sir', and he didn't say 'Miss Fletcher' or anything like that. Just left it blank, as it were. He was on his own now and though I'd tried to reassure him, embarrassment had replaced concern about his job.
I realised to an extent why. Over the years I'd begun to realise that, however many men are themselves trannies or TS or TG or whatever, a very large fraction of males have an interest or fascination, however well hidden, with men dressed as woman. The number of drag artistes around bore witness to that. And here I was, previously his apparently male boss, sitting in front of him in a tight-ish blouse, quite probably he could see my bra through my top, and with nylon-clad legs crossed in front of him. Simply he didn't know where to look. I decided to get this little episode over with quickly.
"Right Harry. We'll go back in and see Mrs Chivers. I'll give you a telling off in front of her and a store voucher as some small sort of apology. You have to say you're sorry, and sound as it you mean it. OK? And don't worry, after that it's back to work."
So we did, and she seemed satisfied when I admonished him. And he was very grateful, again not too sure how to thank me. I sent him back down to the café, told him his job was safe and all that. And hoped he'd get the message to his colleagues that the 'new boss' was really an OK person. Rather than a good guy, that is. I relaxed a bit after that. And then Emma rang. She'd been tracked down at our other store and had some surprising, and rather disturbing, news.
"I've just had a call, Fiona. From Sam Merriman himself. He's coming to Brum this afternoon. Wants to meet this 'Fiona Fletcher' for himself. I suggested my hotel, the Coventry Parkway. How about it - dinner at eight?"
Dinner! Shit! And with old man Merriman himself. I really didn't want that, not yet. I mean, dinner! In a posh hotel. On my very first day as a woman.
"Really, Fiona, you can do it. In fact you have to. If you were still - how can I put this - well, as Fred you just wouldn't even think of saying 'no' to an invite like this from the MD. So if you do refuse he will assume in some way you're failing, and therefore it could be argued you might fail as Store Manager. It would weaken your case. You really have to say 'Yes'. Am I right?"
I had to agree.
"And if you do - no - when you do acquit yourself well, it cuts down his room for manoeuvre. I think he's still getting some pressure to do something, not just let you carry on. I know the lawyers at Head Office are worried about setting this precedent. Anyway, see you there. And look, how about getting your lovely Assistant Manager to escort you? That would look good?"
"He's married, Emma. It might not look so good after all. Anyway, I'm not so sure about Gavin, not for that job, not yet anyway."
"Oh well. I think you should ask him, you might be surprised. "
This still needed some thought. I'd never actually met Sam Merriman myself though I obviously knew quite a lot about him. He still ran the stores in much the same was as his father Jim had done when he'd started the first store, and opened several others, forty years ago. But he'd added modern methods and technology very carefully and effectively, that was one of the reasons there had been all that take-over talk not so long ago.
But he was my boss, at least my boss's boss and deserved my respect. And he got it, I liked very much the way he ran things. If he didn't approve of what I was doing, after meeting me that is, I really might have to reconsider. Not re-think my gender of course, just whether I could or should carry on in the job.
So the meeting was vital. And I got Emma's point, I could tell she was on my side by then. Having Gavin there would be a good idea. I called Kate in and told her about it, and about Emma's suggestion.
"Good idea, he'd back you, I'm sure."
But that fell through. Gavin was very apologetic and was very reluctant to turn down the offer of a free meal at the Parkway but he had to. Having done my job for nearly two weeks he hadn't had enough time at home, and that night his little daughter was in a concert at her school. He'd promised to attend, he hoped I would understand.
When he'd left Kate surprised me. "How about Jeff ?"
She obviously knew him, quite well, he often called in or she went to see him at the bank sometimes. "Do you think he would?"
"Well Fiona, he did send those flowers, he's clearly very supportive, I mean he's been your best mate for years hasn't he? And from what you said yesterday he coped very well when you told him everything, and this morning too. I think he might. And if you can't take your Assistant Manager, I'm sure your bank manager would more than do."
She was, of course, right. I didn't ask her to ring Jeff, I rang him myself. H made some joke about having to ask his wife about going to dinner with another woman but he did say yes. After all, Sam Merriman is a big client of his bank, it was in his and their interests to stay on good terms. I told Kate, and had to ask her a favour.
"Kate. I have two decent dresses. Decent I mean, suitable for a dinner with the MD. Would you do something for me - call round at my house at about seven tonight, please? I'd really welcome your advice."
I got through the rest of the afternoon OK, no other upsets, and drove straight home just before six. OK, many days I'd stay over and see how the evening staff settled in, but on that day Gavin basically sent me home.
"Fiona, I don't want to sound patronising but you've done remarkably well today, you really have. Now get on home, relax for half an hour, I know you've a difficult evening ahead. I can stay a short while myself tonight, don't worry. The night staff are great, you know that. Now scoot!"
He was, of course, right. He really WOULD make a good manager soon. I didn't get any respite though, I knew I had to make a good impression. When Kate arrived I was ready to get ready, showered, made up, already wearing my tight waist cincher and lingerie.
"OK Kate, these two dresses. Which one?"
I held up the two hangers. Her eyebrows rose. "The black, it's got to be."
I was surprised at the speed of her reaction.
"Look, Fiona, that midnight blue dress is sensational. But you cannot, you just CANNOT, turn up for dinner with Sam Merriman with a neckline that plunges SO MUCH!! It looks - well - something close to indecent. Actually no, Fiona, but it is VERY daring. But please promise me, one thing."
She was right about the dress but I was intrigued by her last comment.
"I'm sorry you haven't time to put it on now, Fiona, you'll need to be shoe-horned into it or something. But when you do wear it I want to see. It looks dynamite. Oh - and - don't let Philip see you in it. I hardly know him yet but almost any man would fancy you in that."
I giggled slightly at the thought. Yes, giggled. However, the black dress it was to be. Kate stayed while I put it on and helped me to adjust the straps.
"And, Fiona, if you dare, the very high heels? I think they would be justified. On this sort of occasion, showing off your ankles and legs might be a good idea."
"Are you sure?"
"Trust me, Fiona." Indeed I did trust her.
Jeff approved too, I could tell when he arrived a short while after Kate had gone. I'd had one small glass of white wine, to calm my nerves a little. He was full of compliments too as we drove but I managed to steer the conversation round to business matters, and to how I hoped Sam Merriman might react.
"He'll like your legs" quipped Jeff. "After all, he'll be seeing most of them. And in those shoes too, wow!"
And that was part of the problem, at least at first. When we went into the bar at the hotel Sam did initially stare at my legs, then held out a hand to Jeff.
"Hello there. Sam Merriman."
There was an awkward moment. Then I realised. Sam had been expecting some sort of drag queen maybe, certainly he hadn't anticipated someone who was very confident in totally passing him/herself off as a woman. So faced by Jeff and me, he'd totally got the wrong end of the stick. He'd assumed Jeff was his store manager, for some reason here in his male persona, and I was the wife or girlfriend or something. Just before he was going to speak again, Emma realised what I'd spotted.
"Sam, let me introduce you. Mr Merriman, meet Fiona Fletcher, your store manager."
She looked straight at me. I held out my hand. Mr Merriman did some sort of double-take, then reacted quickly and held out his hand to me. After that I introduced Jeff and explained that my assistant manager had a prior commitment, and who Jeff was, and the evening went OK after that.
After Mr Merriman had settled down. I think he realised how serious I was. And I like to think he began to appreciate just how much of a woman I had already become. Not just visually though of course all that stuff mattered. The make-up and so on, the lingerie, the jewellery, the short tight dress, all those things were important. But other things matter too. And again, not just the older historical aspects of femininity, always serving the male, always being a second-class citizen, no, none of those was the really important thing. But the compromise position I think the Women's Lib people have always been after, having the freedom to dress attractively both to please yourself and to give pleasure to the men around you, yet to do it for your own satisfaction.
Jeff knew that, I think. He knew I'd dressed to make him feel good as well as myself. The tight lowish-cut dress and high heels were for both our benefits. I liked wearing them and being looked at, and he liked being with someone who was looked at in an admiring sort of way.
I really hadn't imagined I'd be putting myself on show in such a way so soon, heck this was my first day as a woman. But I was rather pleased at the result. I DID get some looks, from the waiters and some of the other customers in the restaurant. And I was totally thrilled, as Jeff helped me into my coat at the end of the evening, that none of the 'looks' had been the wrong kind. The hours of practice, in deportment, in make-up, in styling, in presenting myself as a woman, they had all been worth it.
As he led me towards my front door, Jeff paused. He took my hand. I let him.
"Well, Fiona. You've had one hell of a day. You OK?"
I looked at him. I couldn't help a small smile.
"Jeff, you're right. What a day. But in all honesty, this has been the happiest day of my life. It's a corny phrase, I know, but today I've been able to say 'I am what I am' and mean it. And no small thanks to you, Jeff. I'm so grateful, not just for understanding but for coming to my rescue this evening. And please thank Gwen for me too. Not many women would let their husband take another woman out to dinner."
"She's OK with that, Fiona, she knows it's business-related too. But she wants to meet you, Fiona that is. Maybe tomorrow night? How about coming over for drinks?"
I thought for a moment. "Thanks for the invite, Jeff, but I'll take a rain-check. Not yet. Maybe at the weekend? I think tomorrow I'll need to take stock really. I never had the chance to wind down and reflect tonight. OK?"
"OK" he said. He squeezed my hand. I leaned forward and gently kissed him on the corner of the mouth.
My heart skipped a beat as he responded by squeezing me harder.
"You really do make a gorgeous woman, Fiona. If I wasn't a married man ...."
I turned and opened my door, watching him head off to his own bed and to his wife. It would never do, of course. Not with Jeff, I couldn't.
As I prepared for bed, standing in front of my mirror in my comfortable panties and functional (though sheer) night-dress, I did have a moment to think. For over a week I'd been both dreading and looking forward to this Wednesday in a way. But it had passed so quickly and so delightfully. Then I thought about Thursday. And Friday. And the rest of my life.
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