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Rated: 18+ · Serial · Other · #2235362
A young man gets more than he bargained for after a prank makes him spend summer as a girl
A Bummer Summer?

It was the dream of every seventeen year old, during the summer before his senior year of high school to spend it miles away from all his friends and all his stuff. In case you couldn’t tell, that was sarcasm, because for Taylor Hughes, that was the last thing that he wanted. Unfortunately, he had no control over the matter. His parents were going out of the country on business for the entire summer, and trying as he might, Taylor was unable to convince them to let him stay at the family home.

“Give me one good reason why I can’t take care of myself? I’m practically an adult!” Taylor insisted.

“Someone who’s almost an adult wouldn’t have thrown the type of party you did last time we left you alone for the weekend. Besides,” Taylor’s father put his hand on Taylor’s shoulder. “Someone has to keep an eye on Great Aunt Agnes. We check up on her every few months, but we want someone there until we get back.”

“Sure… Isn’t she like a hundred? I don’t wanna be the only one around if she croaks...” Taylor muttered.

“Taylor!” Taylor’s mother exclaimed in a huff. “Don’t talk like that!”

“She doesn’t even like me!” Taylor said.

“That is simply not true. She’s just a little set in her reclusive ways. And with your cousins living halfway across the country, we’re all she has.” Taylor’s mother said. “Anyway, that’s our decision, and that’s final!”

As Taylor’s parents packed up the car with everything Taylor planned to need during the two months he’d be spending at his Great Aunt’s mansion, Taylor said goodbye to his best friend, Owen.

“We can still game together, right? You’re bringing you consoles, and your aunt has WiFi, doesn’t she?” Owen asked.

“Maybe! I dunno, she’s this weird old recluse. I don’t even know if she has running water!” Taylor said.

“I can assure you that she does.” Taylor’s father interjected. “Come on, Tay.”

“See you in September, buddy.” Taylor said.

“If you can set up your console, gimme a call. We can always video chat, too! It’ll be like you never left!” Owen smiled.

“I wish I wasn’t…” Taylor sighed.

Arriving at Great Aunt Agnes’ mansion was as much a trip as the trip up from Taylor’s house had been. She was part of the wealthy side of the family, so she could afford to live in a mansion surrounded by other mansions. Taylor and his folks had visited once or twice a year every year, and it was always the same experience. Taylor would wander around the house as Aunt Agnes and his parents talked, and Taylor spent the entire time bored out of his skull. The surrounding mansions were, much like Aunt Agnes’ mansion, lived in by rich elderly people, leaving no opportunities for a young boy to have any fun. Except her pool, but the last few visits, it had been emptied, since Agnes didn’t swim.

After parking the car, Taylor and his parents began unloading it as Aunt Agnes came walking out the front door wearing a rather fashionable housecoat and heeled slippers. Aunt Agnes was classically beautiful, looking much like an old Hollywood starlet, she’d started out as a model before meeting her late husband, who inherited his father’s oil business. Wise investments had allowed Agnes to continue living the lavish lifestyle that she’d become accustomed to.

“There you are!” Aunt Agnes exclaimed as she quickly embraced Taylor’s parents in a hug. “Wonderful to see you two again! And Taylor, I am delighted to have you spend the summer with me.”

Aunt Agnes embraced Taylor in a hug, much to his annoyance.

“Glad to see you too, Great Aunt Agnes.” Taylor forced a smile.

“And I’ve told you enough times, drop the Great. I’m just Aunt Agnes, I’m not that spectacular.” Aunt Agnes giggled.

After unloading the car, and moving Taylor’s luggage into the foyer of the mansion, Taylor’s parents returned to the car. Taylor and Aunt Agnes watched them depart from the steps.

“I’m sure you two will have a great summer together. Don’t party too hard, okay?” Taylor’s mother joked.

“No worries, dear!” Aunt Agnes waved as Taylor’s parents started to pull away.

Aunt Agnes walked Taylor into the house and started to give him a short tour.

“I know this isn’t your first time here, but I figured I should let you know of the amenities. You can have your pick of any bedroom you’d like, but the first on the left upstairs has a TV in it, and enough space for all your video games.” as she pointed up a large staircase. “If there’s anything you want specifically to eat, let me know and I’ll put it on the list. My personal shopper comes by once a week, same with my hair stylist and my manicurist. Maybe one of these days we can do something with this unruly mane of yours!”

Aunt Agnes giggled as she ruffled Taylor’s shoulder-length hair.

“No way, Aunt Agnes. This is how I like it.” Taylor said.

“Suit yourself…” Aunt Agnes sighed. “Oh, and I had the pool filled last week, so feel free to use that as much as you’d like.”

For the first few weeks, Taylor had the time of his life. Aunt Agnes wasn’t concerned with any discipline, and trusted Taylor far more than his parents did, allowing him to choose when he went to bed, when he ate, apart from having dinner with Aunt Agnes every night, and had even gotten high speed internet just for his visit. Taylor was beginning to think the summer was going to be better than he thought. He’d been able to game and video chat with Owen, hang out by the pool, and do everything he’d wanted to do at home. Sure, he missed real human contact, but being able to sleep in every day was a blessing. Not that he slept every night of course.

One afternoon, after a long non-stop night of gaming, Taylor came downstairs in his pajamas to find Aunt Agnes in the living room getting her nails done. Taylor had quickly learned to not question Aunt Agnes’ desire to have all her amenities delivered. Taylor yawned as he walked over to greet his aunt.

“Morning.” Taylor said.

“More like afternoon.” Aunt Agnes said. “Did you even sleep last night?”

“Depends? Is it still Thursday?” Taylor smiled.

“You know very well it isn’t.” Aunt Agnes said. “This is my Taylor, who I was telling you about. Taylor, this is my manicurist, Deb.”

Taylor half-waved as Deb did the same in return.

“You should really let Deb work her magic on you.” Aunt Agnes said, glancing at Taylor’s hands.

“I think I’ll pass.” Taylor said. “That’s totally gay.”

“Taylor! I won’t tolerate that kind of language in my house!” Aunt Agnes exclaimed. “I have very few rules, but I expect you to follow them. And using that type of language is off-limits!”

“Sorry, I didn’t mean it, I just meant that no self-respecting guy would do that!” Taylor said. “Only women get their nails done.”

“Having well-groomed nails is nothing to be ashamed of. Back in my day, lots of high-society men did it, since handshakes were a big part of social interactions.” Aunt Agnes said. “Plus, it’s so relaxing. Pull up a chair.”

Taylor considered the idea for a moment. He’d known a few internet gamers who had gotten their nails done in order to make them presentable on-camera. Besides, he wanted to stay on Aunt Agnes’ good side, and it’s not like anyone would ever find out.

“Okay, why not?” Taylor shrugged and pulled a chair with armrests next to Aunt Agnes’s. “Just don’t paint them pink or anything…”

Taylor sat down as Deb finished up Aunt Agnes’ nails. Then she started work on Taylor’s as Agnes blew on her nails to dry them. Against all odds, Taylor found that having his hands worked on felt really good.

“What did I tell you?” Aunt Agnes asked. “Was I right? Or was I right?”

“It’s pretty relaxing.” Taylor admitted. “I guess you were right.”

Taylor yawned as his eyes started to flutter. Aunt Agnes rolled her eyes and sighed.

“That’s what happens when you spend all night playing video games…” Aunt Agnes said. “Anyway, I was thinking for dinner we could do meatloaf.”

Taylor’s eyes stayed closed and he didn’t respond.

“Taylor?” Aunt Agnes asked. “Taylor!”

“I think he’s out cold.” Deb remarked as she finished with Taylor’s nails. “I’ll just leave them as is.”

Deb started to pack her things back into her bag.

“Not so fast, Deb… What was it he said before he sat down? Something about what color he wanted?” Aunt Agnes smiled.

“I think I know what he meant…” Deb chuckled as she reached into her bag.

Some time later, Taylor woke up, and realized he was still in the chair. His hands felt weird, and he looked down at them, seeing that his fingernails had been lengthened and been painted a bright pink color.

“What the hell?” Taylor screamed. “Aunt Agnes!”

“Why are you screaming, Taylor?” Aunt Agnes asked as she walked into the room.

Taylor held out his hands to Aunt Agnes.

“This! Look what she did to me!”

“Your nails look very nice, dear.”

“Why did she do this?”

“Well, I do recall you mentioning painting them pink… Deb has always been a bit literal, and her hearing isn’t what it used to be…” Aunt Agnes said.

“But I’m not a girl!”

“With that haircut, maybe she thought you were… I don’t remember if I mentioned that you were my nephew now that I think about it…” Aunt Agnes started to laugh. “I’m sorry, I can’t keep it up.”

“You knew about this?”

“I told her to do it… I thought it would be funny.” Aunt Agnes said.

“Maybe to you…” Taylor said.

“Let me go get the nail polish remover and you’ll be right as rain.” Aunt Agnes headed to the bathroom and started digging through the medicine cabinet.

“Is it in there?” Taylor tried futilely to pull the acrylic nail off his finger, to no avail.

“I could have sworn I had some…” Aunt Agnes muttered. “Maybe it’s in the other one…”

“Tell me you have nail polish remover.” Taylor pleaded.

“I must have run out… Oh well, I’ll add it to the list, my personal shopper will be coming by in a few days, anyway.” Aunt Agnes said.

“I have to spend a few days with these?” Taylor asked.

“Consider it punishment for your dreadful language before. Just be happy that Deb had another client and didn’t get to do your toenails like I’d suggested.” Aunt Agnes replied.

Taylor just rolled his eyes as he tried yet again to pull the nails off by force.

By the end of the day, Taylor had managed to adapt fairly well to the nails. They weren’t overly long, and even gaming wasn’t that hard to handle, though he still noticed the color whenever he looked down at his hands. Thankfully he did most of his gaming with Owen on audio calls, so no one had to find out about it. When Taylor went to sleep, all he was looking forward to was for the day of the grocery delivery and to just relax by the pool.

Things Are Going Swimmingly

The next morning, Taylor finished up his breakfast and was heading back to get changed when he noticed that something was missing from his room.

“Aunt Agnes!” Taylor shouted. “Have you seen my bathing suit?”

“I don’t think so,” Aunt Agnes shouted back as she climbed the stairs. “Where did you leave it?”

“It was on the chair in my room.” Taylor said as Aunt Agnes walked in.

“Was it underneath that pile of dirty clothes you had sitting on it?” Aunt Agnes asked.

“Maybe, why?”

“While you were asleep I sent it away to be cleaned. If you didn’t wake up late and stay up till all hours of the night...”

“Dammit! Now I can’t swim until the laundry comes back?” Taylor asked. “This stinks…”

“Not necessarily… Give me a few minutes.” Aunt Agnes said.

While Aunt Agnes did whatever it was she was planning to do, Taylor returned to his video games. As he was playing, Taylor heard footsteps as Aunt Agnes came back up the stairs.

“Taylor, I just found this, and I thought you might want an extra bathing suit.” Aunt Agnes came into the room carrying a blue speedo.

“A speedo?” Taylor asked.

“I used to do some consulting for fashion designers, so I’d get some pieces for free. Usually I gave them away if they weren’t my style, but this one’s been in the back of my closet for years. I’ve been cleaning out, and I think it looks about your size.” Aunt Agnes replied, handing it to Taylor.

“It looks like half a bikini.” Taylor held it in one finger, away from him.

“It’s blue, which I’m pretty sure is the fashion code for boys.” Aunt Agnes laughed. “Besides, it’s popular in Europe.”

“Sure it is…” Taylor sighed. “And have you seen my sunglasses?”

Taylor stepped back and stopped when he heard a cracking sound.

“I haven’t seen them, but I think I just heard them.” Aunt Agnes said.

Taylor’s face fell as he quickly lifted his foot and saw the broken plastic underneath his feet. He picked it up, hoping that some part of it could be salvaged, but the hinge had snapped completely.

“As if this week couldn’t get any worse…”

“Oh relax, I’ve got tons of sunglasses lying around. Just pick a pair of those and I’ll get you a new pair delivered next week.”

“But those are women’s sunglasses!”

“I didn’t realize sunglasses had a gender. Besides, no one is going to see you anyway!”

“Fine…” Taylor sighed and headed downstairs.

Aunt Agnes followed and spent a few minutes digging in a hall closet, before retrieving a bucket filled with sunglasses of every shape and size. She handed it to Taylor, who quickly started rifling through it.

“This one’s missing a lens… these are too wide…” Taylor tested a pair on his face. “Maybe these…”

After a few minutes, Taylor wasn’t satisfied with any of the pairs he’d found. He sighed and handed the bucket back to Aunt Agnes.

“What about this pair?” Aunt Agnes pulled out a pair of pink transparent plastic sunglasses. “Won’t this one fit?”

“Haven’t you noticed the color?” Taylor asked.

“I have. It matches your nails.” Aunt Agnes smirked. “Now, go! Enjoy the pool!”

“I’m going, I’m going!” Taylor said, taking the sunglasses from Aunt Agnes. “Thanks.”

Taylor headed out to the pool with the sunglasses and a fluffy white towel in tow. After swimming for a bit, Taylor was ready to lounge on one of the chairs when he heard a loud motor from over the fence. He got up and rushed over to the fence to investigate, taking a chair with him so he could see over the tall fence, people in this compound enjoyed their privacy. Not wanting to deal with having his towel draped like a cape over his shoulders, he quickly wrapped it around his chest, before hopping onto the chair.

Peeking over, he could see a moving van across the way… a bunch of movers… and two teenagers? A boy and a girl stood near an older man and woman, presumably their parents, as they supervised the movers. Taylor pulled his sunglasses over his eyes and squinted to make sure he wasn’t seeing things. They looked to be about Taylor’s own age, which was great, especially because the girl was cute. Of course he couldn’t introduce himself until he got those stupid nails off, but Taylor was stoked! Unfortunately, he watched for too long, because the boy started to look around and spotted him. As Taylor quickly ducked back behind the fence, the boy got his sister’s attention and the two of them approached the fence, eventually finding the door. They knocked on it.

“Hey!” the boy shouted.

“Sorry if we spooked you, we’re moving in next door. We didn’t realize there were other kids our age around here!” the girl shouted.

Taylor was frozen in fear. They’d spotted him, the damage was already done. So why didn’t he open the fence and introduce himself? Taylor steeled himself up for the humiliation, and hoped that at least they might still want to hang out, since swimming alone was starting to get boring. He walked over to the fence and opened it, quickly stuffing his hands behind his back.

“Hi.” Taylor said, opening the door.

In front of him was a young man and a young woman, clearly a brother and sister. They were dressed affluently, but not overly so, the boy wearing board shorts and a casual short-sleeved button down, left open to reveal the gaming t-shirt underneath. The girl was wearing a simple sundress and strappy sandals.

“Hi! I’m Emily.” the young woman said, sticking her hand out. “And this is my younger brother, Logan.”

“Twin brother.” the young man, Logan, said. “I’m only two minutes younger.”

Taylor instinctively outstretched his own hand and silently cursed as Emily grabbed it to shake it.

“Cute nails!” Emily exclaimed as she released his hand. “I love the color.”

“Yeah…” Taylor put it back into his pocket. “They’re not usually like that, my aunt’s idea of a joke…”

“Oh, your aunt? So you’re just visiting?” Logan seemed crestfallen.

“For the summer, yeah.” Taylor said. “Say, that’s a Doom Gods t-shirt, right?”

Logan looked down at his shirt and nodded excitedly.

“Yeah, do you play?” Logan asked.

“Every day! We should totally do co-op!” Taylor replied.

This was great! Not only were they ignoring the nails, but they didn’t seem to care! And they seemed really nice.

After a short conversation about gaming, respective high school experiences and their plans for the summer, Emily and Logan’s parents called them back to help with unpacking. But not before Taylor exchanged phone numbers with the siblings.

“We’ll talk later, though.” Emily said.

“And game.” Logan said.

“Definitely.” Taylor smiled.

“I’m so happy that there’s at least one other teenager besides us around.” Logan said.

“I know how you feel, it was starting to get really boring swimming alone.” Taylor said.

“Emily! Logan! Get your butts in here and pick your bedrooms so we can tell the movers where to put your stuff! If you’re not up here in one minute, you’ll be carrying them up the stairs!” Emily and Logan’s mother shouted.

“Seeya!” Emily waved as her and Logan rushed back to their house.

Taylor happily returned to the house, passing by Aunt Agnes as she sat in a chair in the living room, reading.

“What was all that noise I heard outside?” Aunt Agnes asked.

“New neighbors. And they’re kids are my age!” Taylor replied.

“Isn’t that fortunate for you? I take it your hands weren’t as much of a detriment as you thought they’d be?” Aunt Agnes said.

“They didn’t say anything, so I guess not. I still don’t think it was that funny of a prank.” Taylor said.

“Either way, I’m glad that you have someone your own age around, maybe it’ll inspire you to get up before noon…” Aunt Agnes chuckled.

After dinner, Taylor, who had changed out of his bathing suit and into a t-shirt and shorts, got a text from Emily asking him to come over to their house. Taylor slipped on a pair of flip-flops, told Aunt Agnes where he was going and quickly headed out, knocking on the door, and trying to keep his hands as hidden as he could. Just because Emily and Logan were cool about it, didn’t mean anyone else would be. After a few moments, the door opened, revealing an imposing looking man, who Taylor recognized as Emily and Logan’s father.

“Yes?” Emily and Logan’s father asked.

With his broad shoulders, close-cropped salt & pepper hair, and intense stare, Taylor was slightly terrified of the man, especially given that this was the first time he was seeing him up close.

“Uh, I live next door, my Aunt is your neighbor. I’m here to see Emily and Logan.” Taylor stammered a reply.

“Daddy, stop looking so intimidating. This is Taylor, the one I was telling you about.” Emily, who was now wearing a camisole and capris, pushed past her father. “Taylor! I wanna show you my room!”

Emily quickly grabbed Taylor’s arm and pulled him into the house.

“We’ll be up in my room.” Emily said to her father as she led Taylor up the stairs. “Sorry about him, he was in the military, so he kinda always looks like that.”

“Right… Where’s Logan?” Taylor asked.

“He’s helping my mom set up her computer in the basement, he’ll be up soon.” Emily replied.

Eventually, at the end of the hallway, Emily opened a door and led Taylor into the room.

“What do you think?” Emily asked.

Taylor looked around, there were still a few unpacked boxes lying around, but the room had mostly been unpacked. Emily had a vanity in one corner, her four-post canopy bed in another, various posters on the wall of boy bands, and an overstuffed closet. Emily was definitely a girly girl, despite growing up with a brother.

“Pretty nice.” Taylor replied, though he didn’t have much experience critiquing teenage girls’ bedrooms.

“You can take a seat on the bed and… oh, shoot.” Emily sighed as she looked at her shirt. “There’s a stain on this. Hold on one second.”

Emily quickly pulled her shirt off, much to Taylor’s surprise, who immediately turned around as soon as he saw the bottom of the cups of her bra.

“Do you want me to wait outside?” Taylor asked, facing the door.

“Why would I?” Emily asked, pulling a t-shirt over her body. “It’s just us girls in here.”

Taylor froze. What had Emily just said?

“Huh?” Taylor asked.

Did she just say that it was just them girls? Did she think that he was...? Did Logan think that too? Was it because of the nails? Or was it the hair? Sure, puberty hadn’t been overly gracious, and Taylor was incapable of growing anything more than peach fuzz on his face, but how could they think he was a girl? Before he could stammer a response,

“I’m so happy that there’s another girl around here, with Logan as the only person to hang out with, I thought my summer was going to be like living in testosterone city.” Emily said. “Plus, he’s no fun on shopping trips.”

“Right… shopping trips…” Taylor’s brain was still working through the previous part of the conversation.

“Are you okay, Taylor?” Emily asked, snapping Taylor out of his reverie.

“Uh, yeah… I…” Taylor reached into his pocket for his cell phone and looked at the clock. “Oh, my aunt needs me back at the house. I’ve got to go!”

Taylor didn’t wait for a response before rushing out of the room, nearly running into Logan, who was approaching, carrying a box of games.

“Oh hey, Taylor! I wanted to show you my collection!” Logan said.

“Maybe another time!” Taylor shouted as he made a break for the stairs, and didn’t stop running until he was back in Aunt Agnes’ mansion with the door slammed.

Aunt Agnes heard the slam of the door and came into the foyer to investigate. Taylor was quickly catching his breath and panting as he leaned on the door.

“Taylor! What’s the rush? I thought you were over at the neighbors’, how are they anyway? Nice?” Aunt Agnes asked.

“I’ve got a big problem.” Taylor wheezed.

En Femme

“What am I going to do?” Taylor asked, after explaining his current situation to Aunt Agnes. She sat with a pensive look on her face.

“I suppose you could always just… explain the mix-up and tell them that you’re a boy.” Aunt Agnes remarked. “At least that’s what I would do.”

“But if I do that, they’ll make fun of me! Between the nails, the sunglasses, even if I tell them that the nails were a prank, they’d just think I’m some freak. And Emily changed her shirt in front of me! Her dad’s like a marine or something, he’d pummel me if he found out!” Taylor said. “Maybe I can just never leave the house again… And you could tell them I went home.”

“If that’s what you want…” Aunt Agnes said.

“But then I couldn’t go out by the pool, and what if they saw me through a window…”

“There is one more solution, but I don’t think you’d like it.”

“What is it?”

“If you’re so vehemently against telling them that you’re a boy, you’ll just have to keep up the charade. At least until we can fix the nails and cut your hair. Then I can tell them that my ‘niece’ Taylor went home suddenly, and my nephew, who is also named Taylor, came to stay instead, and you can be the real you.”

“But would they really believe that? Identical cousins?”

“I don’t see why not, family resemblances are fairly common, aren’t they? Of course, you could always spend the whole summer as a girl and then you won’t have to worry about them recognizing you ever again.”

“Let’s not be hasty… I guess you’re right. That might work… A week pretending to be a girl isn’t so bad. I can still wear guy’s clothes, lots of girls do that nowadays.”

Suddenly, the doorbell rang throughout the house. Aunt Agnes made her way to the door and opened it, revealing Emily and Logan standing behind it.

“Hello, you must be Emily and Logan. I’m Taylor’s aunt, Agnes.” Aunt Agnes said. “Come in.”

“Thank you.” Emily said. “Is Taylor finished with what you needed her for?”

“I think that she is. Taylor! You’ve got guests!” Aunt Agnes shouted.

Taylor walked in from the other room, suddenly self conscious in front of Emily and Logan, despite knowing that the only feminine thing he really had were the nails.

“What’s up?” Taylor asked.

“We wanted to see if you wanted to come back over and hang.” Logan replied.

Taylor looked to Aunt Agnes, who just shrugged in response.

“Uh, yeah, sure.” Taylor said.

“Great!” Emily exclaimed. “Let’s go!”

Taylor followed the siblings out the door as Aunt Agnes shut it behind them, chuckling as she walked away. Thankfully, Taylor didn’t have any more awkward moments after heading back to Emily and Logan’s. All that happened was a bit more conversation and a few rounds of video games between the three teens.

The next morning, Taylor was woken up bright and early to Aunt Agnes walking into the room and pulling the curtains wide open.

“Jeez! What are you doing? It’s only…” Taylor glanced at his phone. “8 a.m.”

“Which is a perfectly normal time to wake up. But more importantly, your new friend is waiting for you downstairs.”

“New friend?”

“Emily came by after her morning jog and wanted to know if you were awake yet.”

“Why didn’t you tell her I was asleep?”

“I did… when she came by before her jog.” Aunt Agnes sighed. “If she’s going to be that insistent, I’m not going to keep turning her away.”

“Ugh…” Taylor groaned. “All right. Tell her I’ll be down in a few minutes.”

After Aunt Agnes left, Taylor quickly brushed his hair out of his face and brushed his teeth, before heading down to the foyer, where Emily was sitting on the small bench near the door.

“Good morning!” Taylor said, coming down the stairs.

“Taylor! Your aunt didn’t just wake you up, did she?” Emily asked, as chipper as ever.

Taylor wondered how someone could be that happy at that time of the morning.

“Sorta.” Taylor yawned.

“Someone’s a night owl, sounds like Logan.” Emily giggled. “He stayed up way too late trying to beat your high score.”

Taylor chuckled in response. He bet Logan wasn’t used to a “girl” beating his high-score. Even if the situation sucked, Taylor could see some humor in it.

“Got any plans for today?” Emily asked.

“Not yet… why?” Taylor replied.

“Are you planning on going swimming again?”

“Let me guess… you don’t have a pool?”

“It’s not filled yet.” Emily said. “And you did say it was getting boring swimming alone…”

Taylor weighed his options, it wasn’t like, especially during the summer, he was gonna get out of swimming. And if he refused, it meant he wouldn’t be able to swim without Emily edging her way in. It was probably better to figure this out early.

“Let me check with my aunt to see if it’s okay.” Taylor said.

“I’ll go grab my suit! Text me what she says!” Emily rushed out the door, back towards her house.

Taylor went into the den and found Aunt Agnes reading a book.

“We’ve got another problem.” Taylor said.

“That certainly seems the trend this week…” Aunt Agnes sighed. “What is it this time?”

“Emily wants to go swimming.” Taylor said.


“And if I go swimming without a shirt, she’ll see that I’m a guy!”

“Oh, right. I think I have something that might help. It came with the bathing suit.” Aunt Agnes quickly stood up and went back to the closet, pulling out a long sleeved blue rash guard. “How’s this?”

“Perfect.” Taylor said, taking it.

Taylor quickly texted Emily and changed into his suit, using his computer to look up how to hide his male bits temporarily with some tape. After some doing, he managed to securely hide them. Thankfully, the rash guard wasn’t quite his size, so it managed to hang in a way that would obscure his lack of breasts. Taylor really hoped that he wouldn’t have to figure out how to fake that.

Once he was finished, he grabbed his sunglasses, towel and went out back to the pool, letting Emily in through the back gate when she arrived. She was wearing a striped bikini and Taylor lowered his sunglasses to get a better look at it while she set up her towel on one of the lounge chairs.

“That’s your suit?” Emily asked as she walked over to the side of the pool and sat down, dipping her legs into the water.

“Yeah, my aunt accidentally sent my regular one out with the laundry, so I have to use this one.” Taylor replied.

“That stinks. You should’ve told me, I’d have let you borrow one of mine.” Emily remarked. “I’ve got this great one-piece that you’d look great in!”

“That’s okay,” Taylor said. “I’ll stick to this one for now.”

“Suit yourself,” Emily giggled as she hopped into the pool.

Taylor followed and everything went fairly well as they swam. No embarrassing situations for Taylor, and he got to covertly check out a pretty girl in a bikini without her realizing it. Emily just assumed that Taylor was comparing. Which conveniently also served as a test for how good his tucking job had been.

Eventually, they were done swimming and were splayed out on the lounge chairs, catching some sun. Taylor dried himself off and stood up.

“I think I’m done for the day. I’m gonna go change.” Taylor said.

“I’ll come with!” Emily exclaimed, sitting up.

“Nah, you stay down here, I’ll be quick.” Taylor insisted.

“I don’t feel comfortable just being left alone out here… besides, I wanna see your room!” Emily said.

“...Fine.” Taylor said, grabbing his towel.

Taylor and Emily began to walk through the house, as Emily remarked on the aesthetics of the mansion.

“Your aunt has great taste. Everything is so nice!” Emily remarked.

“Yeah,” Taylor said. “I guess.”

As they approached the room, Taylor hoped he hadn’t left any obvious masculine items strewn about the floor as they walked inside.

“Nice room!” Emily remarked. “Kinda sparse, though.”

“Well, it’s cause I’m only visiting. So this is still technically Aunt Agnes’s room.” Taylor explained. “The game systems are mine, though.”

Taylor started rummaging through a drawer to grab his clothes, while Emily looked around.

“You might want to head home… I’m probably going to take ages to pick something out.” Taylor hoped that Emily would take the offer.

“Ooh! Let me help!” Emily said. “I’ve been told I have an eye for fashion.”

“That’s okay, I pretty much know what I like to wear.” Taylor said, reaching into the drawer where his t-shirts were.

Taylor started rummaging through the shirts as Emily pulled open the closet door and smiled.

“Here we go!” Emily exclaimed.

Taylor looked up, surprised to see that inside the closet that he’d never opened, was a bunch of clothing suited for a teenage girl. Dresses, skirts, and all manner of shoes were arranged very nicely within the closet. Taylor’s face dropped.

“I think these will look great on you!” Emily finished making her selections and handed a bundle of clothes to Taylor.

“Uh…” Taylor started.

“These are your clothes, right?” Emily asked.

Taylor’s brain began to short circuit. He desperately wanted to respond that they weren’t, but he could think of a good reason why those clothes would be in his closet, especially if he was trying to keep up the charade for the whole week.

“Yeah.” Taylor said. “I just prefer to wear a t-shirt and shorts is all.”

“So I’ve noticed. You’ve gotta branch out, show off your femininity, or else people are gonna think you’re a guy.” Emily said. “These clothes will help with that.”

Nevermind that Taylor wanted people to think he was a guy, because he really was one, Taylor silently took the bundle and rushed into the bathroom. He unrolled the pile, and within it was a pair of white panties, a white padded camisole, a pair of denim shorts that went down to about to the knee, and a pink polo shirt. As Taylor inspected the clothes, he was startled by a knock on the door.

“Come on out! I wanna see how it looks!” Emily said as she rocked on her heels on the other side of the door.

“Uh, I’m not too sure about this outfit. It’s not really my style.” Taylor responded through the door.

“Come on, just try it!” Emily insisted.

Taylor desperately wanted to just tell her that he was a boy, but the fear was too strong. Besides, what are the odds that the outfit would even fit? Taylor sighed and stripped out of his bathing suit, putting on the new outfit. Pulling on the panties, he quickly adjusted himself similarly to how he’d done for the bathing suit.

While he’d hoped that it wouldn’t fit, it seemed that the clothes were nearly perfect for his size, except of course, for his obvious lack of feminine assets, though the camisole was doing a pretty good job of creating the illusion of endowment.

“Taylor!” Emily sang from outside the door.

“Coming!” Taylor replied, before wincing as he looked in the mirror.

Before, there was a bit of ambiguity. The nails and long hair were feminine, but the clothes weren’t. Now, that ambiguity was gone. Apart from Taylor’s hairy legs and lack of breasts, he didn’t look all that dissimilar to a teenage girl, the shirt resting in such a way that his chest wasn’t obviously flat.

Taylor exited the bathroom, with his shoulders slumped and walked out. Emily squealed with delight.

“You look great! What’d I tell you? You’re still wearing pretty casual stuff, but now you look like the cute girl you are!” Emily exclaimed.

“Great…” Taylor winced.

Emily looked Taylor up and down, then frowned. Taylor worried that she might have noticed something and his heart began to beat faster.

“Hmm…” Emily started.

“What’s wrong?” Taylor asked.

“Don’t take this the wrong way but… why don’t you shave?” Emily replied, motioning to his legs and arms.

Taylor had to think on his feet. Why might a teenage girl have stopped shaving? Taylor didn’t think the personal preference excuse would work for this one.

“Oh… I uh… I ran out of razors. My aunt gets all her stuff delivered and doesn’t have a car, so I haven’t been able to. She’s supposed to get some next week.” Taylor said.

“Okay.” Emily said, before her eyes twinkled with an idea. “If that’s all it is, I’ve got something that can help with that at my house. Come with me!”

Emily grabbed Taylor’s arm once again and the two teens rushed out of the bedroom and down the stairs. As they approached the door, Aunt Agnes walked into the foyer. Her eyes widened slightly at Taylor’s appearance, but if Emily noticed, she didn’t say anything.

“Hold on one sec, wait for me outside, I have to talk with Aunt Agnes about something.” Taylor practically pushed Emily out the door and rushed over to Aunt Agnes.

“This is a new look…” Aunt Agnes said, deadpan.

“Emily took a look inside my closet. Why do you even have clothes for a teenage girl?” Taylor asked.

“I told you, I get it as comp for the consulting I do with fashion designers, and I used to send some of it to your cousins as birthday and Christmas presents, but I’ve been busy so I just put them in a closet for storage.” Aunt Agnes asked. “Despite everything, she definitely has good taste. “That color certainly suits you.”

Taylor’s phone began buzzing in his hand. He checked it and saw a message from Emily urging him to hurry up.

“I really don’t want to go outside like this.” Taylor said.

“This is the choice you made. A week pretending to be a girl, you made your bed, now you’ve got to lie in it.” Aunt Agnes said.

Taylor sighed in acknowledgement, slipped on his flip-flops, and headed towards the door.

“I’ll be back for dinner.” Taylor said.

“That’s all I ask, dear.” Aunt Agnes said. “Have fun!”

Taylor headed out the door and Emily cheerfully led him across the street to her house and straight up to the bathroom adjoined to her room. It was pretty small, just a bathtub with a shower, a sink and a toilet.

“This stuff is a lifesaver. Here, take the shorts off.” Emily said, as she pumped a healthy amount of depilatory into her hand.

Taylor hesitated, because smooth legs would make it hard for him to shed this appearance at week’s end, but Emily took it as fear of the cream.

“Don’t worry, it only burns a little.” Emily said, patting her other hand on the side of the bathtub.

“I’m really okay waiting until my aunt gets new razors.” Taylor insisted.

“Come on!” Emily said. “You’ll love how smooth it gets you, I promise!”

Taylor could have just made a break for it right there. Refuse and put his foot down, but he started thinking about how Emily might scrutinize that. Why might an otherwise normal, if tomboyish teenage girl not want to shave her legs? The fear of her discovering the secret was too much. He pulled down his shorts and sat down on the side of the tub.

“Put your leg on my lap.” Emily said, as Taylor complied. “Oh, you could totally use a pedicure, too.”

She started rubbing the cream over his legs and arms while making idle conversation, mainly about the area.

“Have you checked out any of the malls?” Emily asked.

“I haven’t left my Aunt’s house since I got here. She doesn’t have a car, and it’s a good half hour walk into the main part of town.” Taylor replied.

After she finished, Taylor sat with his legs in the tub.

“Awesome! I’ve got my car, so we can check out the malls together! It’ll be so much fun!” Emily said.

Before Taylor could respond, he felt the tingling from the cream start to go even further.

“Ooh!” Taylor exclaimed.

“Okay, that means it’s working.” Emily grabbed the showerhead and started to spray Taylor’s legs down.

Taylor moved his arms under the faucet and wiped the excess off with a towel. Emily ran her fingers across Taylor’s thigh as she admired her work.

“Smooth as a baby’s bottom!” Emily exclaimed as Taylor involuntarily giggled. “See? I told you that you’d like it!”

“I guess… Why don’t we go see what Logan’s doing?” Taylor asked as he pulled on his shorts, hoping to free himself from Emily’s room and any more femininity than he already had.

“Interested in my brother, eh? Don’t worry, I’ve seen his girlfriends, I know exactly what his type is.”

“No, I don’t mean like that.” Taylor tried to backtrack.

“And your hair is a mess too… maybe I should just give you a little makeover while you’re here.” Emily sat Taylor down into a chair and quickly started attacking his hair with a brush.

After a few minutes, and a lot of wincing from Taylor, she had brushed Taylor’s hair out and tied his long hair into a simple messy bun.

“There... we... go!” Emily grinned as she made some final adjustments, leaving a strand of hair hanging over Taylor’s face.

“Thanks, Emily but…” Taylor started to get up.

“Hold on! One more thing!” Emily pulled Taylor back down.

Emily attacked Taylor’s face with a pair of tweezers, and after she plucked some stray hairs around his eyebrows, she put some blush onto Taylor’s cheeks, along with giving his lips a generous coating of pink lipgloss.

“It’s not just about looking good, you know, you’ve got to keep your lips moist or they get chapped. Especially if you sunbathe as much as I do.” Emily continued.

She’d have probably done even more damage, but she was called to help her mother with something, and so left Taylor to sit in her room for a few minutes. What’s funny, is that having been alone in a girl’s bedroom with her would have been his dream. But not when Taylor is just another one of the girls.

As Taylor scrutinized his new look in the mirror, trying to mess his hair back to its former messy state, but unable to untie the bun, he muttered to himself.

“Taylor, what have we gotten ourselves into…” he sighed.

“Taylor! You look… different.” Logan’s voice surprised Taylor and he jumped, before turning around to see Logan popping his head into the room.

“Yeah, I had a little help from your fashion-forward sister.” Taylor sighed.

“Yeah… Emily can be a little… much. But she means well.” Logan said. “For what it’s worth, I think you look nice.”

“Thanks.” Taylor blushed, since being complimented by another boy was a strange feeling, especially dressed as he was.

“Say, I’m having a hard time with a stage in Doom Gods. Mind helping me out?” Logan asked.

“And avoid any further makeovers from Emily? Yes, please!” Taylor followed Logan out of the room and into Logan’s.

Despite his appearance, Taylor found it much easier to deal with Logan, since he didn’t have to put up any facades. He could simply play games, talk about the latest in geeky news, and if it wasn’t for the clothes, nails, makeup, and the fact that Taylor could feel his hair sitting in the bun, this would feel like any other gaming session.

“I think they’re announcing the DLC expansion pack at the next convention.” Taylor said.

“Really? I’ve been hoping we’d get that for this game.” Logan said, admiring Taylor’s skill as he slew demons onscreen. “I’ve ran out of stuff to do in the main campaign.”

Eventually, Emily made her way back upstairs and poked her head into the room.

“Hey you guys…” Emily sang, seemingly knowingly. “Whatcha doing?”

“Doom Gods.” Logan said. “Taylor is amazing.”

“I spend a lot of time playing with my friend Owen.” Taylor said.

“Boyfriend?” Emily asked excitedly.

“God no!” Taylor exclaimed. “He’s just my friend.”

“So no boyfriend, eh?” Emily giggled.

“I’d rather not talk about that, if that’s okay with you.” Taylor said.

“No problem, Tay.” Emily said, before winking at Logan, who rolled his eyes.

After some more gaming, Taylor got a text from Aunt Agnes reminding him about dinner, so he excused himself and thanked both Emily and Logan. For Emily, a reluctant but polite thank you got the makeover, and for Logan, a thank you for getting him out of Emily’s clutches just in time. After Taylor left, the siblings were left to talk amongst themselves.

“Wasn’t Taylor pretty today?” Emily asked.

“I know you gave her a makeover, so I’m not gonna say no.” Logan replied. “But yeah.”

“I think she likes you.” Emily said.

“You think so?” Logan asked. “That would be really cool,”

“Yeah, she asked about you today. I think she just needs help coming out of her shell. I’m gonna help her blossom into a woman.” Emily said.

“Just don’t overdo it and scare her off. She’s the only other person our age that we’ve got to hang out with ‘til school starts.” Logan said.

“Wouldn’t dream of it. I bet she’s just shy because she’s a late bloomer. I saw her comparing herself to me in the pool. Kept staring at my chest.” Emily said. “She just needs a guiding feminine hand. Which I just so happen to have.”

A Helping Hand?

Over the next few days, Taylor’s attempts to keep Emily’s girlier side at bay were met with… mixed results. Taylor was unable to spend the day with Emily without her not so subtly suggesting that Taylor could use a touch of blush on his cheeks or mascara on his eyelashes. Which she was naturally more than happy to do for him. Taylor had to be extra careful when he gamed with Owen to ensure that if he was on video, he’d cleaned his face well. And he’d gotten far more acquainted with the clothes in the closet, since Emily seemed to take it upon herself to ensure that Taylor was wearing the girliest thing possible.

“Oh, no, no, no. No friend of mine is going to be running around in those when she has such cute clothes stashed away in her closet.” Emily said, as Taylor opened the door in a pair of his own shorts and a t-shirt, grabbing Taylor’s arm and practically dragging him back upstairs.

Taylor wanted to refuse her efforts, but given that the day he’d be able to get the nails off was just a few days away, he decided to go with the flow and lay low, hoping that this would all be over soon. Eventually, Emily decided on a midriff-baring floral top with a matching skirt, plus a pair of low-heeled sandals for Taylor.

“I don’t see why I have to get all dressed up if I’m just going over to your house.” Taylor said after he emerged from the bathroom dressed. “And what’s the deal with the purse?”

Taylor inspected the small bag with a shoulder strap sitting on his bed, finding his phone already inside.

“Oh! I forgot to tell you, Daddy let me borrow the car! We’re going to the mall!” Emily exclaimed.

Taylor suddenly felt as if he was completely naked. He had been fine with Aunt Agnes, Emily, and Logan seeing him like that because it was a necessity. He was also fine with being seen by Emily and Logan’s parents because they didn’t know him as anything other than a teenage girl. But to go out in public? Where everyone would see him? Sure, it’s not like he knew anyone in this place, but still. Although, with only one day left until the delivery of the nail polish remover, what was the harm?

“Great!” Taylor tried to respond with the same energy as Emily, despite his trepidations, as he threw his wallet into the purse.

“I’ve done some research about the stores, there’s some cute boutiques…” Emily started, though Taylor tuned out as he mentally planned out how he was going to handle his ‘departure’ and re-introduction to the twins.

By the time they arrived at the mall, Taylor’s fear returned, but they didn’t spend much time wandering. Emily had an agenda and she stuck to it. After checking out a few specialty stores, where Emily very overtly hinted at what types of makeup and skin-care items she thought that Taylor should use, though he didn’t have to buy them today, they hit the clothing stores. Taylor was thankful for being in a women’s clothing store, since he wouldn’t have to worry about potential stares from guys. He got enough of that from Logan. And it didn’t help that Emily kept making comments about them.

“You know, Logan’s never really had a girlfriend before.” Emily said as she started going through the racks. “You’d have to teach him how to do it right?”

“Me?” Taylor’s heart stopped.

“Sorry, I meant whoever ends up dating him.” Emily casually replied. “Though you two seem to be getting along pretty well…”

“I think I want to stop talking about this now.” Taylor said, halting the conversation.

Taylor worried that he’d have to try on even more clothes than he already had at home, but Emily seemed more focused on herself, and once she was satisfied, she dragged Taylor off in a hurry.

“What’s the rush? I thought we were just looking around.” Taylor said.

“Well… I may have made an appointment at the salon here. I’ve heard great things!” Emily excitedly said as they approached a chic salon.

“I wasn’t exactly planning on a haircut this week.” Taylor said.

“It’s my treat, and don’t worry, it’s not going to be dramatic, just something to freshen you up. I didn’t want to say anything, but your hair needs major TLC.” Emily said.

Taylor was concerned, given Emily’s personality and lack of restraint, but he also knew that by the next day, he’d probably be shaving it off anyway once he got the nails removed, so what was the harm of a little styling? He’d been told many times that his hair would be nicer if he actually went to a place that catered to people with hair of that length. And if Emily was footing the bill, there really was no reason not to.

“Fine.” Taylor said. “But nothing dramatic.”

“Don’t worry!” Emily practically started to push Taylor into the salon.

Emily approached the reception area with Taylor trailing behind and checked them in, teaching Taylor that Emily and Logan’s last name was Jackson. Once they were sat into a couple of chairs, the stylists came over to them.

“What’ll we be doing today, miss?” the stylist asked Taylor, and he blushed slightly at being called “Miss”.

“Just a wash and rinse, please.” Taylor said as the stylist draped a pink cape over his body.

“Got it.” the stylist smiled and lowered Taylor’s head into the basin and started washing.

As she did that, Taylor noticed that getting his head massaged and washed felt really good. Maybe he’d ask Aunt Agnes if her hairstylist could do this to him once he was back to normal. In a far more masculine manner, of course.

Taylor got lost in the combination of relaxing massage and relaxing music and just enjoyed the ride, despite it being slightly painful as they ran a comb through his tangled hair.

“Ouch…” Taylor winced.

“I know just the shampoo to stop that, you know.” Emily informed from her chair.

“You’ve got some split ends, do you mind if I fix them?” the stylist asked Taylor.

Taylor just nodded, again figuring that it didn’t matter what they did to his hair. A few snips here and there couldn’t change his hair that much, right? Though he wasn’t entirely prepared for how his hair would look at the end.

“Voilà!” the stylist pronounced, holding a mirror up so Taylor could see the back of his head.

“Woah…” Taylor gasped.

He had figured it would just look cleaner and maybe straighter, but he was wholly unprepared for the fact that his hair was far shinier than it had been before, with the split ends gone and a few snips in front leaving Taylor with very pronounced and feminine bangs, and the blow dry giving his hair far more volume.

“You look gorgeous, Tay!” Emily exclaimed. “And like I promised, nothing dramatic.”

Of course, Emily wouldn’t think that this was dramatic, it was probably her standard type of haircut, given how her hair was similarly blown out.

“Right… this isn’t dramatic at all.” Taylor muttered, then turned to the stylist. “Thank you.”

“Don’t mention it.” the stylist replied. “You girls have a good day.”

“We definitely will now!” Emily smiled as they left the salon.

Taylor was shocked at how easy it was to make even him believe that he looked like a girl. And he wasn’t even wearing any makeup today! Thankfully, that was the end of the mall trip, but of course, upon their return back to Emily’s, Logan was inside the garage with their father, helping him organize the room.

“The mall here is great! I think I’m going to like it here.” Emily remarked as she handed her father the car keys.

“I’m sure glad that we define the quality of an area by the quality of the shopping.” Mr. Jackson glanced down at the bags in Emily’s arms.

“Logan, notice anything different about us?” Emily asked, striking a pose.

“Should I?” Logan asked.

“Of course you should! We got our hair done!” Emily huffed, before turning to Taylor. “Honestly, boys will never understand.”

“Yeah…” Taylor said.

“Then you look very nice.” Logan said. “Especially you, Taylor.”

Taylor blushed at the compliment. It was definitely the first time he’d gotten complimented on his hair by another guy.

“Th-thanks.” Taylor muttered, staring at his feet.

Emily just grinned knowingly as she pawned a few bags off to Taylor and the two headed up to Emily’s room.

“You know, if there’s ever anything you wanna borrow, feel free to ask. I know I’ve got a few tops that you’d look great in.” Emily said as she hung up her new dress in her closet.

“Thanks, but no thanks.” Taylor said, handing Emily another one of the bags. “I’ll stick with my own clothes.”

“Well, if you ever change your mind, just know the offer stands. And it works both ways.” Emily giggled.

Taylor weakly smiled in response.

Later, Taylor frowned in the mirror as he tried several ways of styling his hair. As is, Owen would definitely notice how girly it looked on videochat. Even tying it back didn’t help, all Taylor could see in the mirror was the girl that Emily and Logan believed him to be. Maybe it was his own insecurities, but maybe not… After all, no one had seen through his disguise at the mall.

Taylor went to his computer, and he got an incoming call from Owen. Taylor hesitated, but eventually hit “Audio Only”.

“Hey, man! What’s going on?” Owen asked.

“Not much.” Taylor replied. “Ready to game?”

“No camera tonight?”

“Uh, yeah, it’s glitching out. I don’t know what’s wrong with it.”

“All right, let’s do this!”

As Taylor and Owen started to play, Taylor’s phone began to buzz. Taylor ignored it, but the buzzing got more and more insistent until Taylor’s resolve broke.

“BRB.” Taylor said, putting his controller down and picking up his phone.

Emily had sent him a makeup tutorial. As Taylor tried to close his phone, he accidentally started the video, which Taylor fumbled at shutting off thanks in part to the nails.

“Hello girls! And welcome back to another makeup tutorial!” the heavily made up girl in the video exclaimed.

But not before Owen heard at least a snippet of the video.

“What the hell are you watching?” Owen asked.

“Nothing!” Taylor replied. “I hit the trending tab on YouTube by mistake.”

“I was about to say, I didn’t think you were that desperate to see a girl our age.” Owen laughed.

“Actually, my aunt just got new neighbors. Twins around our age, a guy and a girl.” Taylor said.

“Is the girl cute?” Owen asked.

“Yeah, but she’s a little much.” Taylor replied. “Very strong personality.”

“Well don’t go spending all your time with them and forget about me.” Owen said.

“Wouldn’t dream of it.” Taylor smiled, though he frowned as he caught his reflection in the black screen as the next stage loaded.

Down The Rabbithole

The following day, Taylor was excited, since Aunt Agnes had assured him that it would be the day that her personal shopper was picking up her groceries, and with it, the nail polish remover that would solve all his problems. Of course, that still meant he had to spend a few hours with Emily before it arrived.

“Taylor check it out! This is perfect for you!” Emily continued her search to find Taylor an outfit from the closet.

“Emily, I really don’t think… Absolutely not!” Taylor remarked when he saw what Emily was holding.

She was holding a two-piece bikini, in pink of course, that was a far cry from Taylor’s speedo and rash guard that he’d grown to tolerate.

“Come on! It’s not like I’m asking you to wear it to the mall! It’s just out in the backyard!” Emily said. “Logan’s busy with dad, so you don’t need to worry about anyone but me and your aunt seeing you in it!”

That did provide Taylor with as much comfort as was possible, but he was still unhappy with the entire arrangement. If only Aunt Agnes could have moved up her delivery schedule, but because she had a specific delivery driver that she liked, it was impossible. Just a few hours left, though! And it would all be over!

Taylor changed in the bathroom, having a bit of trouble with the halter-like straps of the bikini, but he’d gotten decent at putting on his increasingly feminine wardrobe. Skills that he’d no longer need soon. At least it was padded, so he didn’t have to figure out something waterproof he could use to stuff the cups.

“Just let me put your hair up, no sense in ruining what we had done yesterday.” Emily remarked as she put Taylor’s hair into a simple updo.

“Thanks.” Taylor replied, eager to just get it over with.

Taylor and Emily did some swimming, but Emily seemed far more interested in sunbathing, and left Taylor alone in the water to dry off and find a nice place in the sun. Taylor eventually got bored and climbed out of the pool.

Taylor yawned,

“Swimming first thing in the morning after a late night game binge is tiring work…” Taylor dried himself off and settled down onto one of the lounge chairs, positioned in the shade. “I’m gonna take a nap.”

“Okay! I’ll wake you when I’m done!” Emily smiled.

As Emily caught some rays and idly checked her phone, Taylor put on his borrowed sunglasses and dozed off. The funny thing about the sun, is that over the course of a day, it moves. And where once was shade, sometimes becomes a path for direct sunlight. So when Taylor awoke a few hours later…

“Tay… Tay, wake up!” Emily shook her sleeping friend.

“Huh? I’m up, what’s going on?” Taylor asked.

“I finished sunbathing… and I think you might want to get out of the sun.” Emily replied.

“Why?” Taylor looked down at his legs, which were now slightly darker than he remembered them being. “Oh my god!”

Taylor’s stomach felt like it was doing aerobics inside his body.

“Yeah, I’m surprised you tanned so well. You even rolled yourself over onto your back in your sleep. You’re an expert at this.” Emily complimented.

“I didn’t… I was in the shade… why didn’t you wake me up when the sun moved?” Taylor demanded angrily.

“Sorry! I didn’t notice, I was already on my stomach facing away from you, and when I looked… the damage was already done. If you didn’t want color, you really should have reapplied after swimming…” Emily put her hands up in mock surrender.

“You’re… right, it’s not your fault. I think I’m just gonna go inside, I don’t feel like hanging out anymore.” Taylor sighed, grabbing his towel.

“You’re that concerned about skin cancer?” Emily asked.

“Uh… yeah, that’s what I’m afraid of.” Taylor replied.

Of course, he couldn’t tell Emily the real reason he was now sick to his stomach.

“Well, if you feel better, drop in, I know Logan will probably want to play more of his video games.” Emily said, putting her hand on Taylor’s shoulder. “It’s not that big a deal, really, plus you look cute with a tan! I know Logan will think so.”

Knowing that he looked cute with a tan did little to make Taylor feel better as he was staring at his shirtless form in the mirror a few minutes later, with a quite conspicuous imprint of a bikini across his chest and waist, though he didn’t dare take off the bottom because he didn’t want to see it.

“Taylor! You’ll never guess what just arrived… oh dear.” Aunt Agnes said as she walked into the room carrying a bottle and saw Taylor’s chest as he turned around. “That’s going to make what I was going to say far less exciting…”

“I don’t know what I’m going to do! Maybe it might have been better to just let them think I was a freak…” Taylor sighed.

“It’s not the end of the world, you have shirts that will cover it up, right?”

“That’s not the point! It won’t go away for at least another week!” Taylor exclaimed. “They’ll know who I am if I show up in my regular clothes with the same tan! That means another week stuck as a girl.”

“Well, I hate to say it, but you’ve adapted pretty well despite everything.” Aunt Agnes said. “It doesn’t seem all that hard for you, so what's another week?”

“For one thing, I can’t stand these stupid nails and Emily’s driving me up the wall with all the makeup and skin-care stuff.” Taylor said. “I don’t know if I can last any longer.”

“Well, it’s up to you… though I guess after this long it would do more harm than good to just fess up, right?”

“You’ve got that right…” Taylor sighed.

All Taylor could do now was wait and hope that this would all be over soon.

A few hours later, Taylor was sulking in bed, staring at the bottle of nail polish remover sitting on the nightstand. It was the thing that he’d been anticipating for so long, but now the idea of removing them felt pointless, since he’d still be stuck dressing like a girl until the tan faded. As Taylor reached out for it, his phone started buzzing.

Taylor quickly grabbed his phone, seeing that he was receiving a call from Emily. His finger hovered over the decline button, but the sight of the pink fingernail reminded him that if he didn’t pick up, with all likelihood, Emily would show up at the front door, which he wanted even less, so he tapped the accept button.

“Hello?” Taylor asked.

“Tay! Are you feeling better?” Emily got straight to the point.

“Sort of.” Taylor said. “What’s up?”

“I was worried about you!” Emily exclaimed. “I’m really sorry I didn’t wake you up.”

Despite Emily’s overbearing personality, Taylor was touched.

“I’m fine.” Taylor said. “And it wasn’t your fault, I was just mad at myself for forgetting to reapply sunscreen.”

“Great! I just had an idea, you’ve been cooped up in your aunt’s house for how long?” Emily asked, but didn’t wait for an answer. “We should have a sleepover tonight!”

“I don’t know…” Taylor started.

He knew it would just be him and Emily, but even still, he counted on having privacy to keep his secret from getting out. Nighttime was the only time he could forget about the feminine web he was trapped in.

“Come on! I’ll even let Logan in on it if you want.” Emily said.

“Emily…” Taylor started.

“Or we could do it at your aunt’s place if it’s okay with her.” Emily quickly added.

“No! That’s… your place is fine.” Taylor said, knowing Emily wouldn’t take no for an answer.

“Awesome! I’ll see you later tonight! And bring cute PJs.” Emily quickly hung up the phone.

Taylor lay back in bed once more wondering what he’d gotten himself into.

To Sleepover, Perchance to Dream

After telling Aunt Agnes of what he’d agreed to, and her customary shaking of her head at Taylor’s predicament, Taylor was soon standing in front of Emily’s house carrying a small overnight bag, which he’d filled with a few gaming accessories and a pair of pink pajama bottoms and an oversized t-shirt. Taylor balled his hand into a fist and knocked on the door. After a few moments, Logan answered it.

“Hey, Taylor!” Logan said, before turning towards the staircase. “Emily! Taylor’s here!”

They stood in silence for a few moments.

“Can I come in?” Taylor asked.

“Oh yeah, sure.” Logan stepped back and allowed Taylor to enter. “Nice tan.”

“Thanks…” Taylor replied. “Wasn’t exactly my idea.”

“Emily told me. At least you didn’t burn, right?” Logan asked.

“Yeah, I guess so.” Taylor replied.

Emily came rushing down the stairs and quickly embraced Taylor in a bear hug.

“Whoa! You just saw me a few hours ago, calm down!” Taylor exclaimed, trying to break free.

“Yeah, but I told you I was worried.” Emily said. “Anyway, let’s go up to my room, and get you set up. We’ve got a cot up there already set up.”

After setting up his things in Emily’s room, her mother popped her head into the room. Taylor had met her in passing a few days earlier, and she seemed nice enough. At least she wasn’t as scary as Mr. Jackson.

“You girls all right? Need any snacks?” Mrs. Jackson asked.

“No, thank you.” Taylor replied.

“Not yet, mom!” Emily replied.

“Well, let me know when you do.” Mrs. Jackson went back into the hallway.

“So, I was thinking that we could just chill for a bit, maybe game a little with Logan if you want, then do makeovers.” Emily said. “Sound good to you?”

“I guess…” Taylor said.

“Say, did you try that tutorial I sent you?” Emily asked.

“Oh… uh, no.” Taylor replied. “I don’t wear makeup.”

“Why not?”

“Because… I don’t have any...”

“That explains it! I was wondering why you didn’t, but if that’s all it is, I have the perfect thing!” Emily started digging in one of her drawers. “I got two of these from two different relatives and I didn’t return one. Figured I might need it!”

Emily pulled out a small zippered bag. She quickly unzipped it and started showing Taylor the contents.

“This has everything, lipsticks, eyeshadows, eyeliners, it’s great.” Emily said. “Now you don’t have an excuse.”

“Great…” Taylor said. “Thanks…”

“Don’t mention it. It’ll come in handy later.”

As it got later, Emily changed into her pajamas, a blue ruffled sleepshirt, and Taylor prepared to change into his. He opened his overnight bag and pulled out his bottoms and t-shirt.

“Absolutely not!” Emily exclaimed as she blocked Taylor’s entry to the bathroom.

“Come on, Em, just let me change.” Taylor whined.

“I told you to bring cute PJs and those are boring. You’re lucky I’m generous.” Emily said, heading over to her dresser and digging through her dresser, before she found an identical sleepshirt to the one she was wearing but in pink.

Emily walked over and tried to hand the sleepshirt to Taylor.

“I’m fine with the ones I brought.” Taylor tried to push past Emily, but she stood firm.

“Do it for me?” Emily asked. “I just think it’d be fun to match.”

Taylor hated himself for not defending his masculinity, but he also didn’t want to hurt Emily’s feelings.

A few minutes later, Taylor emerged from the bathroom in the pink sleepshirt, which sat far higher on his legs than it did on Emily’s.

“It’s a little short, isn’t it?” Taylor futilely tried to tug the hem lower.

“It’s not too short, it’s your legs that are too long. But I think it looks good.” Emily said. “Plus, we match!”

Emily struck a goofy pose, causing Taylor to giggle in response.

“Now we’re having fun!” Emily smiled.

The first sleepover activity that Emily chose to do were makeovers. After mixing together a noxious goop in a bowl and using headbands to pull their hair back, Emily spread it on Taylor’s face, before having Taylor do the same to her. As they waited for the masks to dry, they sat on Emily’s bed making idle conversation.

“This feels so gross.” Taylor whined.

“You’ll thank me later, this is supposed to be great for your skin.” Emily said.

“Yeah, if I wanted my face to smell like nachos...” Taylor wiped the goop out of his nostrils.

“It’s part of the experience, though. But I bet you’ll like the next part.” Emily said, rushing over to her vanity and grabbing a few things.

Returning to her bed, Emily dumped what she’d brought onto the bed. Cotton balls, nail polish remover, nail clippers, a nail file, and a bottle of pink nail polish that closely resembled the shade that Taylor’s fingers sported.

“Next up, pedicures!” Emily said. “Now we’ll match!”

“Great…” Taylor said. “But I think I’m good with just my fingernails. Like I said, it was my aunt’s idea.”

“And your aunt has great taste.” Emily retorted.

“Yeah, but…” Taylor started.

“Come on, you do me, I do you!” Emily said, handing Taylor the nail polish bottle.

Emily extended her foot and rested it in Taylor’s lap. Taylor picked up Emily’s foot and looked down at her bare feet. Taylor unscrewed the cap on the bottle, and the chemical smell hit his face. Taylor pulled out the brush, moving it towards Emily’s big toe. He held the brush hesitantly as he hovered over Emily’s toenail.

“You don’t know how to do it, do you?” Emily asked.

“I… uh…” Taylor’s heart began racing.

“It’s nothing to be ashamed of, really.” Emily put a reassuring hand on Taylor’s shoulder. “Hand it to me.”

Taylor handed back the bottle of nail polish and Emily twisted the cap back onto it.

“I guess you were more of a tomboy than I thought.” Emily chuckled. “Put your foot in my lap.”

Taylor complied, extending his left foot into Emily’s lap. Emily picked up the nail file and started to file and trim each of Taylor’s toenails. As she worked, Taylor let out a voluntary giggle.

“Tickles…” Taylor said.

Before too long, he was the owner of ten expertly groomed toenails.

"And now, pay attention." Emily picked up the bottle of pink polish.

Emily began to slowly paint Taylor’s toenails with the pink polish as Taylor watched, knowing that he’d be forced to perform the same act shortly.

Soon, Taylor had cotton balls between all his toes as Emily put the finishing touches on Taylor’s right pinky toe.

“Done.” Emily said.

Taylor pulled his foot back and let his legs rest, hanging off the bed. It was amazing what a little grooming and some color could do. He could scarcely believe they were his toes, they looked so… dainty and feminine. And pink.

“Your turn!” Emily handed Taylor the bottle of nail polish.

Taylor took the bottle and got to work. It was much quicker, even if Emily also had Taylor do her fingernails as well. They were already groomed, so Taylor was just painting, and he found that it wasn’t as complicated as it had seemed to be before he watched the process.

Once Taylor finished, Emily started blowing on her fingernails and fanning her hands. Taylor in turn started to check his toes.

“Yours are probably about dry.” Emily said.

As Taylor flexed his toes, there was a knock on the door as it opened, revealing Logan behind it, carrying a controller. After his eyes widened upon seeing Emily and Taylor’s mud masks, he smiled at Taylor.

“Anyone interested in a little gaming? I’m gonna play some Legendary Dragon Havoc. I’m looking for a player two…” Logan wiggled the controller.

A grinning Taylor shifted, about to stand up, when he looked at Emily, he didn’t know what else she had planned, but he’d wanted to try Legendary Dragon Havoc. for months. Emily rolled her eyes and sighed.

“My nails are still wet, so I can’t hold a controller, but if you wanna play, go ahead. We can’t really do anything else until I’m dry.” Emily said, before blowing on her fingers.

“Awesome!” Logan said.

“Have fun, Tay…” Emily giggled.

Taylor quickly made his way out of Emily’s room, walking awkwardly on his heels as he’d seen Emily do when she’d had to use the bathroom halfway through her pedicure. After making his way to Logan’s room, Logan motioned to a gaming chair already set up with a controller.

Taylor sat down, crossing his legs as he realized how short the sleep shirt was, and picked up the controller.

“Ready to go?” Logan asked.

“I was born ready.” Taylor replied with a smile.

The game was amazing, great graphics, interesting puzzles and intuitive gameplay. And Taylor was even happier to play it with Logan, since they had the same priorities.

“Did we get all the secrets in the last room?” Logan asked.

“Of course we did!” Taylor replied. “Look out!”

A dragon monster popped out of a secret door and started attacking their characters, but they made quick work of it and collected their winnings.

“Yes!” Logan and Taylor shouted in unison and high-fived.

“I take it the game is going well?” Emily asked from the doorway.

“It went great! We won!” Logan exclaimed. “Taylor might just be the best player I’ve ever met.”

“I wouldn’t go that far, you’re not too bad yourself.” Taylor blushed.

“If you’re not too busy, I think it’s about time to wipe the masks off.” Emily said.

“Oh yeah,” Taylor stood up and handed the controller back to Logan, their hands slightly brushing during the action. Taylor looked away, blushing even more profusely. “Thanks for letting me play.”

“Anytime.” Logan smiled as he watched Taylor exit the room.

Taylor quickly made his way back to Emily’s room where he removed all the cotton balls from his toes and he and Emily took turns peeling their mud masks off. Taylor scrutinized his face in the mirror as he checked for any remaining bits of mask.

“Look at that! We’re glowing!” Emily smiled as she put her arm around Taylor.

Taylor didn’t know enough about skincare to dispute her claim. Once they were done, Emily put on some pop music and pulled out her laptop. Motioning for Taylor to join her sitting on the bed, Emily started scrolling through social media, pointing out photos to Taylor.

“This was the time that my squad went to the cheer finals, we didn’t win, but just getting to the state finals was amazing. Ooh! And this was the Winter Formal, that’s my date, he was a good kisser but we didn’t have a lot in common, oh and this is Logan’s date.” Emily said.

The picture in question had Logan wearing a suit next to a fairly attractive girl in a dress, and Taylor’s gaze lingered on it as Emily scrolled down the page, which didn’t escape Emily’s notice.

“And this is just what I posted on social media… Oh! Speaking of, what’s your Insta?” Emily asked.

“Uh…” Taylor froze. He did have social media accounts, except for him as he normally was, and not the girl Emily had gotten to know.

“No Insta? How about Snapchat? Twitter? Facebook?” Emily asked. “Nothing?”

“I don’t… My… parents are really strict. They don’t really let me do social media.” Taylor said. “You know how parents are.”

“Duh, if you want to see overprotective just look at my dad.” Emily giggled. “Remember my date to the winter formal? My dad had a chat with him when I went back inside for my purse. He nearly crapped his pants in the limo!”

“I can see why.” Taylor replied. “So you understand why I follow their rules, then.”

“Of course. But what if you made a secret account? One just for us, your parents never have to find out.” Emily suggested.

“I don’t know…” Taylor started.

“Come on! You’re practically an adult anyway, if you don’t make one now, you won’t be able to properly document your senior year!” Emily said. “I’ll get you started.”

Emily got to quick work constructing a social media presence for Taylor, thankfully Taylor had a burner email that used his name that was unconnected to any of his real accounts.

“And a nice profile picture… Smile!” Emily snapped a quick photo of Taylor on her phone and uploaded it to the computer. “Perfect!”

Taylor’s new social media account listed his gender as female, and Emily had gone through a list of interests to tick off a list, so his recommendations for accounts to follow/interact with were equal parts video game related as well as beauty related.

“I’ll just friend me… Oh, and Logan of course, and…” Emily turned her laptop to Taylor. “Voila!”

The page was threadbare, but Emily had done a decent job of creating a presence for a person who up until a few weeks ago, hadn’t existed.

“It’s… it’s great, Emily. Thanks.” Taylor mustered up as much sincerity as he could. Though he was actually rather thankful, since it would prevent his adventures in femininity from being broadcast to his friends back home.

“Wanna add any of your friends from back home? Maybe a crush or two?” Emily asked.

Taylor could tell that Emily was fishing. He wasn’t about to give her any ammunition.

“No, I’d better not, word might get back to my parents that way.” Taylor replied.

“Smart.” Emily agreed. “And now that you have one, I’ve definitely gotta post a pic of me and my new bestie.”

Before Taylor could react, Emily had her arm around Taylor’s shoulder and her phone in her other hand to take a photo with the selfie camera.

“Say cheese!” Emily grinned.

Taylor gave a weak smile to the camera as Emily tapped the button, before quickly jotting out a caption. Taylor’s profile refreshed itself and Taylor saw that Emily had tagged his new account with her post.

“Matching with my bestie, Taylor Hughes. Best sleepover ever!”

“And I totes expect you to use it.” Emily said. “Especially when we hang out.”

Taylor weakly smiled in response.

Once the excitement of building the profile wore off, both Emily and Taylor started to feel tired. Soon, the lights were out and they laid in their beds in the darkened room. Taylor was curled up under the blanket as he tried to stay warm, given the lack of covering on his legs.

“Taylor? You awake?” Emily whispered.

“Yeah.” Taylor replied.

“I’m really glad you decided to sleep over tonight.” Emily said.

“...So am I.” Taylor replied, though more because he got to play a new video game.

Soon after that, both Taylor and Emily had drifted off to sleep.

Taylor found himself staring at a woman’s chest. His vision was distorted, but he was quickly able to discern that the woman was wearing the same dress as he’d seen in that picture of Logan earlier.

“The winter formal…” Taylor muttered, before realizing that he was looking down at the chest. He quickly moved his gaze upwards. “Sorry.”

As he looked up and saw the woman’s face, he realized that he wasn’t staring at a woman at all, he was staring at his own, if heavily made up, face in a mirror! He recognized the style of makeup and the updo as having matched Logan’s date from the photo.

Taylor felt faint and reached out to the mirror for stability, seeing that his hand, now daintier and tipped with far more ornate nails, was touching the glass.

“This can’t be happening…” Taylor said, for the first time noticing that he was wearing strappy heeled sandals that showed off similarly ornately pedicured toenails.

He stepped back from the mirror and tripped on the carpet, being saved in the nick of time from falling onto the ground by a pair of strong arms.

“Woah! You okay?”

The voice was unmistakable, before he even looked, Taylor knew that it was Logan’s.

“I tripped.” Taylor said.

“Well, I can see that.” Logan quickly helped Taylor back to his feet. “You look gorgeous.”

“Thanks.” Taylor said, blushing.

This wasn’t right, and Taylor knew that, but he didn’t seem to have any control over his actions. All he could do was take Logan’s hand as Logan led Taylor out of the room. A bright light engulfed Taylor’s vision and he was suddenly standing on the lawn of Emily and Logan’s house. In front of them were Mr. and Mrs. Jackson, the latter of which was holding a camera.

“Okay, one more you two.” Mrs. Jackson smiled as she snapped another photo.

Taylor glanced to his left where he saw Emily standing with her date, giving Taylor a thumbs up as another flash went off.

“Okay, now for one of all of you.” Mrs. Jackson said.

The bright light returned and suddenly dimmed. Taylor felt a hand on his shoulder and an arm around his waist. As his vision returned, he realized he was in a ballroom on the dance floor, while a slow song played in the background, surrounded by dancing couples. As the song swelled, Logan leaned into Taylor’s face and started kissing him on the lips.

“Mhhm!” Taylor was unable to push him away, it was like his body had rebelled! Taylor began to mentally scream until

Taylor awoke in a cold sweat, panting heavily as he wiped the sleep from his eyes and sat up. It was right then that he realized a sensation under the covers. Kicking them off, Taylor saw that his tuck had become undone, and he was now tenting the sleep shirt. Taylor glanced over at Emily’s bed, seeing even through the darkness that she was still asleep.

Taylor stood up and quietly tiptoed across the carpet into the bathroom, intent on taking care of the incident and restoring the tuck.

Hours later, after Taylor had finished in the bathroom and went back to sleep, sunshine streamed through the curtains and woke Taylor up. Well, that and the sounds of Emily rummaging through her drawers. Taylor sat up, brushing the hair out of his face to see Emily lacing up her sneakers.

“Mornin, Tay!” Emily smiled.

Taylor could tell from her sports bra and tight shorts that she was about to go for her morning jog.

“Morning…” Taylor said.

“I’ve got a spare set of exercise clothes, wanna join?” Emily asked.

“Uh, I would, but I…” Taylor searched for an excuse. “I’m not feeling well.”

“Oh no! It wasn’t dinner, was it? Or all the snacks?” Emily went into investigation mode. “You don’t have any allergies, do you?”

“It’s not like that it’s…” Taylor had to come up with an explanation that would be easy to fake. His eyes glanced around the room, before he spotted a particular cardboard box sitting on top of the counter in the bathroom. “Cramps! That time… you know, of the month?”

“Ohhhhhh.” Emily knowingly nodded. “Yeah, I don’t feel like jogging when that happens either.”

“So I think I’ll probably just head back to my aunt’s.” Taylor started repacking his bag as he grabbed his change of clothes out of it.

“Good idea, do you need a pad?” Emily asked.

“I’m good, nothing has happened yet, just the pain, but I’d rather be at my aunt’s if that’s gonna happen.” Taylor said, rushing into the bathroom to change into a casual outfit of girl’s shorts and a simple blouse.

After Emily left Taylor at the door to go on her job, Taylor headed into the house, where Aunt Agnes strolled into the foyer upon hearing the door open.

“How was the sleepover?” Aunt Agnes asked.

“Almost a disaster.” Taylor said.

“What happened this time?” Aunt Agnes rolled her eyes.

Taylor explained his night time incident, though leaving out the ending of the dream and only giving the bare amount of details.

“I’m no dream analyzer, but it definitely sounds like a stress dream. As for the other thing… I might have an idea on how to fix that.” Aunt Agnes said.

“You do?” Taylor asked.

“In the fashion world, there’s a lot of gender fluidity, and I knew a few transgender models back in the day and I know how they kept their unbecoming bits hidden. They had this special piece of fabric that kept everything tucked up.” Aunt Agnes replied. “Only problem is that I don’t remember what it was called or where on Earth to shop for them.”

“Let’s check online, I bet you can find them there.” Taylor said.

“Will the wonders of technology never cease?” Aunt Agnes asked.

After finding a suitable retailer on Taylor’s computer, Aunt Agnes found the item she was looking for.

“Ah, it’s called a gaff!” Aunt Agnes said. “And so long as you don’t pull down your underwear, no one will ever know.”

“I can’t believe I’m doing this.” Taylor sighed.

“And ordered!” Aunt Agnes clapped her hands. “I’ve got to admit, computers are a lot more useful than I’d thought. This might change my whole outlook on personal shoppers. Why wait a week when I can get anything within two days?”

“I’m glad someone’s happy about all this.” Taylor mused.

“Don’t worry, I’m not taking delight in your suffering, although I admit that had I been more receptive earlier, we might have avoided this whole crisis.” Aunt Agnes said. “I really am sorry.”

“I know.” Taylor said. “At least I’ve only got a month or so left, and then this will all be over.”

The next day, thanks to rush delivery, the package arrived and Taylor rushed inside as Aunt Agnes signed for the package. Taylor tore open the box, finding two things wrapped in plastic. The first was the gaff, but the second item, which Taylor recognized, confused him nonetheless.

“Aunt Agnes… why are there fake boobs in here?” Taylor asked as Aunt Agnes shut the door.

“I did some thinking, given the incident at the sleepover, it’s only a matter of time before you’d need to do something about your chest, and I figured if I could help you get ahead of a potential embarrassment, I should.” Aunt Agnes said.

“Thanks, Aunt Agnes.” Taylor smiled. “How do they work?”

“Well, as far as I can tell they’re reusable and self-adhesive.” Aunt Agnes looked over the two globular items. “Just peel the backs off, stick them to your chest, and there you go.”

“All right.” Taylor stared at the fake breasts as Aunt Agnes handed them to him.

“Why don’t you go try them on?” Aunt Agnes suggested.

“Good idea.” Taylor nodded and rushed upstairs to his room.

After following all the instructions and a very helpful internet tutorial, Taylor pulled a pair of shorts over the panties and adjusted the bra under his shirt. While Taylor doubted the necessity of the fake breasts, it was at least helpful to know that he wouldn’t accidentally get outed if his shirt got pulled up.

“I’m seeing less and less of myself in the mirror…” Taylor lamented as he looked at his reflection.

Staring back at Taylor was a teenage girl, between the shaved body, his new accessories and his long hair, even without makeup, he was having a hard time finding the teenage boy that he’d been just a few short weeks ago. Would he ever see himself again?

Three Cheers for Taylor!

One of most annoying things about Emily, Taylor had decided, was her sleep schedule. So far, he’d been able to avoid her morning jogs, but she was always at the door right after, far earlier than Taylor would have liked. And unlike Logan, who unfortunately (or fortunately, given Emily’s repeated hinting that Taylor had a crush on him, despite his objections) had other obligations most of the time, she was free to drag Taylor wherever she wanted to go, usually the mall. Taylor’s happiness about not having to try on clothes the first time rapidly evaporated in each successive visit as he was forced into a fashion show nearly every time. Though of course, things were far easier than they’d be if he didn’t have his masculinity obscuring accessories, which he was thankful for after Emily walked in on him while getting dressed in his room. Today though, would prove to be different than the usual trip.

“Wait a minute, Emily. This isn’t the way to the mall.” Taylor said, looking out the passenger side window.

After as many trips as she’d taken him on, he’d committed the route to memory.

“Oh yeah, I just have to make a stop first.” Emily said as she pulled into a parking lot of a large brick building.

“What is this place?” Taylor asked.

“Summit Academy. It’s the private school that Logan and I will be attending this fall.” Emily replied. “It’s supposedly really good. But they have uniforms, blech.”

“That stinks, being told what to wear.” Taylor said, sarcastically, though Emily didn’t seem to notice. “Why are we here now, though? School’s not for another month.”

“I was a cheerleader at my old school, remember? And if I want to keep doing it, they have a summer program that I have to attend to make it onto the team. It’s dumb, but at least it’s something to do.” Emily said. “And they insist on students signing up in person. Come in with me?”

Taylor didn’t want to, but he didn’t really want to stay in the car, since he didn’t know how long the wait would be, so he got out with Emily and entered the school. It was a stereotypical private school, big corridors, a giant staircase in the front, and somewhat atypically, a folding table set up with two young women wearing blazers and tartan skirts behind it. Emily walked up to it and started scanning the papers on the table.

“Is this where I sign up for the cheer program?” Emily asked.

“Sure is! Just fill out this application.” one of the young women handed Emily a stapled packet. “Standard stuff, and we’ll send out the schedule next week.”

“And one for you.” the other young woman handed Taylor a packet, but he tried to refuse it.

“Oh, no… I’m not from around here, I’m just visiting family for the summer.” Taylor said.

“Yeah, she’s not a student.” Emily said.

“Actually, the program is open to anyone who’s interested, the coach just requires any student who wants to be a cheerleader to attend.” the first young woman said.

“Really?” Emily squealed. “What do you say, Tay? It’ll be so much fun!”

“I don’t know…” Taylor said. “I wouldn’t want to take a spot away from a student.”

“Don’t worry, students are part of a separate list, they all get spots. Besides, it’s no commitment, if you don’t like it, you’re allowed to quit.” the second young woman said, before turning to Emily. “That doesn’t apply for you, of course.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it.” Emily said. “Please?”

Taylor weighed his options, and the prospect of spending a few weeks as a cheerleader was less than exciting, he could always quit after the first practice and tell Emily he didn’t like it. Which was far easier than dealing with a barrage of begging in the current moment, the faster he said yes, the faster they got out of here. Taylor couldn’t believe that he was actually more excited to go to the mall with Emily than to be at a school.

“Fine.” Taylor said. “But I won’t guarantee that I won’t quit after the first day.”

“You’re the best, Tay!” Emily squeezed Taylor in a bear hug as the two young women looked on with smiles on their faces.

“Just fill these out and you’ll be on your way.” the first young woman said. “You both look like perfect fits for the squad.”

The form was truly standard, just name, address (Taylor put Aunt Agnes’) the only sticky part was the social security number, but that was probably just to verify that Taylor existed, which he did, regardless of gender, so he entered it anyway. Once they were finished, the forms were given back and the two teens made their way to the mall.

While they shopped, the applications were forwarded to the main office, who processed them, finding Emily in their system and assigning her to the summer program, therefore allowing her to sign up for the team in the Fall.

In addition, Summit Academy’s computer systems noted a strange dissonance between the Social Security Number and the records they had on file. Locating schooling records for “Taylor Hughes” was easy, but the system in Taylor’s hometown was under the clearly mistaken impression that Taylor Hughes was a boy. Which was at odds with the information that Taylor herself gave in her application.

Given that it was the summertime, the request was entirely digital, and the records were requested for review, where Summit Academy changed the information to match what they’d been given on their application. Even if they weren’t enrolled, they liked to check to see if their program had a comparable match in the school that the girl was enrolled in so they could get credit for the program. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a comparable match, but at least the system was able to rectify the major informational errors that it found. What a silly mistake, with the systems off by only one letter!

Over dinner, Taylor told Aunt Agnes about his most recent fall back down the rabbithole.

“You signed up for cheerleading?” Aunt Agnes asked incredulously. “Voluntarily?”

“You know Emily, it was voluntary in the sense that she didn’t take the pen and do it herself. Besides, I used your address and they said I can quit after the first day. I just wanted to get out of there.” Taylor replied.

“Every decision you’ve made so far baffles me. Your tan faded a week ago, you could have enacted the plan to fabricate girl Taylor’s trip home and gone back to normal by now.” Aunt Agnes said. “And yet you’re sitting here in front of me wearing a skirt and, may I say, very tasteful makeup. Emily did that?”

Taylor uncrossed his legs, realizing that he’d been subconsciously doing it as he sat in the chair, a residual of his time with Emily.

“Actually, ever since she gave me that makeup bag she expects me to do it myself.” Taylor groaned.

“Is that so?” Aunt Agnes took a sip of her drink. “Glad to see you’ve picked it up so quickly, but back to my question?”

Taylor blushed before responding.

“I thought about it, and I think I’m in too deep. What if Emily wants to video chat or talk with girl Taylor while I’m with them as myself? What if I accidentally say something that Emily only said to me when I looked like a girl? If I just wait it out, I can go home at the end of the summer and never have to think about any of this again.” Taylor said.

“Fair enough, although if I didn’t know any better…” Aunt Agnes started.

“Don’t you dare finish that sentence!” Taylor snapped.

“Only joking, dear.” Aunt Agnes raised her arms in mock surrender.

One week later, as Taylor ate breakfast, the doorbell rang. Taylor immediately stood up, but Aunt Agnes motioned for Taylor to sit back down.

“I’ll get the door.” Aunt Agnes said. “I can be sure it’s not Emily, her jog doesn’t usually end for another fifteen minutes.”

Taylor nodded and returned to his breakfast. A few moments later, Aunt Agnes returned to the table carrying a cardboard box.

“I see you’ve really gotten on-board with online shopping… I may have created a monster.” Taylor joked.

“Don’t worry, dear, it’s not shopping, it’s a new piece for consultation from one of the clothing companies I’ve worked with. When they told me about their new line a few months ago, I didn’t think it’d have anything for me to work with, but when they approached me last week, I realized I now had a way.” Aunt Agnes sliced open the tape and pulled out the packing material.

“Oh?” Taylor asked as he took another bite.

“Yes, it seems they’re branching into athleisure wear, and I thought you might need something to wear to your first practice.” Aunt Agnes pulled out a pink lycra tennis skirt.

“Absolutely not!” Taylor exclaimed.

“Please? I know it’s an imposition, but if you’re already going to be going to the practice, you’ll need to wear something like this, and you’ll be doing your dear great aunt, who has put up with so much trouble since this summer started, a huge favor.” Aunt Agnes wiggled the skirt.

“Fine…” Taylor sighed. “But only as a favor to you.”

“Perfect, and we can’t forget the matching top.” Aunt Agnes giggled as she pulled out a pink tank top while Taylor grimaced.

As Taylor and Emily walked across the field towards the bleachers, Taylor pulled at the pink tank top he was wearing.

“Everything okay?” Emily asked.

“It’s too tight.” Taylor groaned.

“It’s supposed to be, you can’t have loose clothing when you’re doing flips or jumps, if someone’s foot gets caught, that could cause major injuries.” Emily advised.

Emily, on the other hand, was wearing her own cheerleading uniform, a red and white top and skirt that she’d used back at her old high school. Taylor supposed he should be happy, at least he was required to wear sneakers for this.

“I’m not too happy about the uniform, blue is fine and all but I think I look better in red.” Emily sighed as she motioned towards the other cheerleaders, all of whom appeared to be current students, since they were all wearing identical uniforms.

Taylor and Emily approached the small gathering of teenage girls, most chattering to each other about a variety of subjects that Taylor could care less about. Emily scanned around, scoping out her new teammates. Taylor continued to shift uncomfortably in his outfit until he was broken from his reverie.

“Oh-Em-Gee, I love your top!” a voice cried.

Taylor turned around to see a girl in a blue and white cheerleading uniform approaching them. If Taylor thought Emily had been cute, then this girl was a knockout. She was tall, with long legs, long brunette hair pulled back into a ponytail, just as Taylor’s and Emily’s hair was, and a big smile on her pretty face.

“Th-thanks…” Taylor muttered, staring at his shoes.

While he was a gamer, he wouldn’t call himself a nerd, and while unattached, he’d had a few girlfriends over his high school career, though that didn’t mean that he wasn’t nervous, especially dressed as he was.

“Hi! I’m Emily, I just moved here.” Emily stuck her hand out to the girl to introduce herself. “And this is my bestie, Taylor.”

Emily elbowed Taylor, causing him to stick his manicured hand out to shake the pretty cheerleader’s hand, who likewise reciprocated.

“I’m Dayna. You’re both new students?” Dayna asked.

“Oh, no, I’m not.” Taylor said. “I’m just in town visiting my aunt and Emily convinced me to sign up.”

“That’s too bad.” Dayna pouted. “But don’t think you’ll get that much downtime to talk with each other, Coach Roberts is pretty strict.”

“Sounds like my old school…” Emily joked. “I’m really looking forward to trying out for the team.”

“You’re almost all the way there, tryouts are more of a formality. If you’re good, Coach Roberts basically decides who gets on the team by the end of the boot camp.” Dayna said.

“Good to know, thanks.” Emily said.

“Let me introduce you to some of the girls.” Dayna said.

Dayna led Taylor and Emily over to where two other cheerleaders, also in-uniform, were talking to each other. One was a short Asian girl and the other was a redhead about as tall as Emily.

“Taylor, Emily, these are Zoey and Mari.” Dayna said.

“Nice to meet you.” Emily said.

“Likewise.” Zoey, the Asian girl, said. “We can definitely use more girls on the team. I bet this year our pyramid will be twice as big as last year’s.”

After exchanging pleasantries, and learning that Dayna, Zoey and Mari were seniors as well, meaning that they’d probably share some classes with Emily, they were all snapped out of their individual conversations by a loud whistle.

“All right, ladies! Let’s line up and get to work!” an older, fit woman, presumably Coach Roberts, strolled up to the gathering of prospective cheerleaders.

Everyone quickly got into a line formation, clearly there weren’t many new students as Emily and Taylor were the only stragglers who took their time getting into line.

Taylor felt out of his depth as he stood in a line amongst the other prospective cheerleaders. The coach, an older, fit woman walked down the line inspecting everyone, followed by a blonde girl the same age as Emily and Taylor.

“All right, ladies, welcome to our first practice. I’m Coach Roberts, and this is the head cheerleader, Brandi Thompson. I’m happy to see a lot of familiar faces, but also some new ones.” Coach Roberts said. “Really, this is just to make sure that you have all the routines down so we can start off running once the school year starts.”

“So let’s make it a great three weeks!” Brandi exclaimed.

The cheerleaders, plus Emily, began to cheer in agreement, with Taylor hesitantly joining in.

“We’re going to start with some stretches while I check off attendance, and Brandi will help any newcomers who have trouble.” Coach Roberts said.

The cheerleaders nodded and everyone began to go into their stretches. Even Emily knew exactly what to do. Taylor tried his best to follow along, but found that the girls were far more flexible than he was. Some of the girls, including Emily, had their feet near their shoulders! Taylor was extremely thankful for the accessories that Aunt Agnes had provided, so that his secret remained as such.

“I knew this was a bad idea…” Taylor muttered.

After falling over for a third time, Taylor felt a reassuring hand on his shoulder. He looked up to see Brandi looking down at him.

“Don’t worry, nobody gets all this down their first practice. Trust me, when I started I was just as hopeless as you.” Brandi smiled.

“Somehow, I doubt that.” Taylor remarked.

“I’ve never met a girl who can do the splits on her very first day. Start with something a bit more basic.” Brandi said as she demonstrated a few far easier stretches. “Just try to limber up. Do some squats to start off, Coach always has us do a lot more legwork on the first day.”

“Thanks.” Taylor said, doing his best to follow along with Brandi’s instruction.

“Keep it up.” Brandi went off to observe the other cheerleaders, leaving Taylor to continue his stretches.

Taylor was so focused that it took a few times of Coach Roberts calling his name before he responded to it.

“Taylor Hughes!” Coach Roberts shouted.

Emily pointed towards Taylor, who finally snapped out of his reverie and realized that his name was called.

“Oh! Here!” Taylor squeaked, feeling extremely self-conscious as all eyes were on him.

“Thank you… Normally I like it when my girls are in the zone, but you need to be aware of your surroundings.” Coach Roberts remarked. “Even if you’re just here for fun.”

Taylor wished he could sink into the ground. Once the actual practice started, Taylor found himself at a disadvantage, which was good, because he could use his poor performance to ditch the program after the first practice. After an intense and tiring practice, in which both Emily and Taylor had to catch up on techniques the other cheerleaders already had down pat, it was finally over, and Taylor took a seat on one of the bleachers.

“Not bad for your first time.” Emily remarked.

“Thanks… but I don’t know if I have the knack for this.” Taylor said. “I think I’m calling it here.”

“Come on! You can’t call it after one practice! Give it a week!” Emily said. “Please?”

“Em…” Taylor started.

“It’s just a few more days.” Emily replied.

“Good job today, especially you, Taylor, being a first-timer and all.” Dayna remarked as she walked past the bleachers. “Just wait until we get to tossing, I bet you’ll be a natural.”

“See?” Emily said. “That’s two skilled cheerleaders telling you that you’re good. Unless the only reason you don’t want to be here is so you can spend more time with Logan...”

“What?” Taylor exclaimed. “I… I’ll give it a week.”

“That’s what I thought.” Emily grinned. “Now come on, I want to get home and into a shower.”

“For the first time, I think we’re in agreement…” Taylor sighed, getting up from the bleachers.

Taylor and Emily exited the field and into the parking lot. Taylor felt his phone vibrate in his bag, not wanting Emily’s usual nosiness, Taylor simply sat down at the curb.

“I need to rest…” Taylor said.

“Really?” Emily asked. “Can’t make it all the way over to the car?”

“Just give me a minute, I’ll catch up.” Taylor waved Emily off.

“All right…” Emily continued onwards as Taylor quickly took out his phone to check it.

What he saw on the screen were several missed calls from Owen, the last having only rang a minute earlier. Taylor considered calling him back, but given that Emily would get suspicious if he took too long, Taylor just dropped his phone back into his bag.

Taylor stood up and started to walk, when a car pulled into the closest spot to the front steps of the school building, just a short walk from where Taylor was standing. A well-dressed older woman stepped out, clad in a navy skirt suit and high heels, with her gray hair in a bun resting atop her head. The sign at the spot proclaimed that it was “Reserved for Principal”.

As she exited the car, Taylor watched as she gracefully moved to the passenger side to retrieve a stack of paperwork. She started to walk towards the steps, but fumbled the papers, which scattered across the ground, and against his better judgment, Taylor found himself rushing towards the dropped papers.

“I’ve got them!” Taylor shouted as he started picking up papers that had blown in his direction.

The principal turned around and smiled upon seeing that the papers were being picked up. Once Taylor finished, he brought them over to the principal and presented them to her.

“Here are your papers, I think I put them back in the right order, but you might want to check.” Taylor said as he handed the papers to the principal.

“Thank you very much, young lady.” the principal said. “I take it that cheerleading boot camp is off to a rousing start today?”

“Uh, yeah…” Taylor said. “Anyway, I’ve got to get back to my friend.”

Taylor started to turn on his heel.

“Of course, thank you again for the help…” the principal started. “What’s your name, dear?”

“I’m Taylor.” Taylor said, tapping his foot.

“I’m sure glad you were there to help, Taylor, bending like that is better left to the young and agile.” the principal said. “I’m Principal Fletcher. Are you one of the new students joining us this fall?”

“No, I’m just here for the cheerleading camp… supporting a friend.” Taylor replied.

“Say, you look familiar.” Principal Fletcher said, intently staring at Taylor. “Do you have a sibling that attended here?”

“No, ma’am. I’m an only child, and I don’t even live around here. I’m just staying with my Aunt Agnes for the summer.” Taylor replied, continuing to tap his foot as he glanced across the lot at Emily’s car, which had the engine running.

“Agnes… Wait!” Principal Fletcher gasped. “Your aunt wouldn’t happen to be Agnes Collins, would she?”

“Yeah, actually she would!” Taylor exclaimed. “Do you know her?”

“I believe I do, we were both sisters of the Gamma Alpha Lambda sorority. Tell her Vicky Fletcher said hello! I haven’t seen her in ages, but I bet she’d remember me!” Principal Fletcher instructed.

“Will do.” Taylor said as Emily pulled up in the car. “Gotta go. It was nice meeting you.”

“Likewise.” Principal Fletcher said as Taylor hopped in the car.

That night, Taylor’s manicured fingernail was positioned over Owen’s contact as Taylor stared at his phone. He’d managed to secure a night away from Emily, thankfully Emily’s mom had some event that required the entire family to attend. Taylor felt happy and secure having eschewed the feminine attire to wear the clothes he’d brought with him from home, a men’s t-shirt and shorts, in addition to removing his prosthetics, being the first time in a few weeks that Emily wasn’t around, he was able to escape her feminine web. Sure, his body was still shaved and his hair was being held in the only hair tie he’d been able to find, a teal scrunchie, but other than that and his nails, he felt like himself once again. And feeling like himself meant it was time to return Owen’s call.

Taylor was nervous about calling, since he’d missed a lot of calls from Owen, having always been around Emily when he called, and afraid to pick up for fear that Emily might say something that would tip Owen off about what he’d been up to during the summer. He’d sent a few apologetic texts, but Owen hadn’t responded to any of them. Taylor sighed and tapped the contact, bringing the phone up to his ear.

The phone rang for what felt like an agonizingly long time before Taylor heard,

“Looks like you finally found the time to return my calls…” Owen muttered.

“Owen! Listen, it’s not my fault, I’ve just… found a lot to do since those kids moved in.” Taylor said. “They’re a lot more active than I thought and they’ve had me over a lot.”

“You could’ve at least told me why you were busy, I’m your friend, I understand being lonely without your best friend around, you know.” Owen said.

“I know,” Taylor laughed. “Listen, I’ve got some free time tonight, do you wanna game a bit? I know it’s been a while, but...”

Taylor was looking forward to some normalcy, and he smiled as he imagined being able to slay some demons and not having to worry about Emily popping up or any sneaky comments, like the not so subtle hints that Emily had been dropping regarding Logan any time Taylor spent any time with him.

“Normally, I’d love to, but my older sister’s back in town visiting and my parents want to do a family thing tonight. Rain check?” Owen asked.

Taylor’s face fell. He had been sure that tonight would be a return to normalcy, but hadn’t considered that Owen would be the one too busy to talk.

“Oh… yeah, sure. Rain check.” Taylor sighed, sadly. “Talk to you later.”

Taylor laid back on his bed as he hung up the phone, idly swiping through his newly acquired social media accounts, which Emily insisted that he update when he was with her, so they had a healthy stream of content going into them, and plenty of notifications of likes and comments, mostly from the cheerleading squad. Taylor spotted a selfie that Emily had posted within the last few hours, and strangely, Taylor felt envious.

“I’ve finally got what I wanted… My own clothes, the freedom to do whatever I want... so why does part of me wish Emily was home so I’d have something to do?” Taylor asked himself as he continued laying in bed, bored out of his skull.

Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted the bottle of nail polish remover, which was once what he’d coveted, but once he found himself ensnared in the feminine web where Emily was choosing his outfits/activities, removing the nails didn’t feel like the victory it should have been, so he hadn’t gotten around to it.

“Guess there’s no time like the present,” Taylor muttered, grabbing the bottle and heading downstairs, finding Aunt Agnes watching TV in the den.

“So how do I do this?” Taylor asked, holding up the bottle of acetone.

“I was wondering when you’d ask me for help.” Aunt Agnes paused her show and patted down at the spot next to her. “Take a seat.”

Taylor complied and sat down, handing the bottle to Aunt Agnes.

“It’s not that complicated, but if you don’t know how, it can take a while.” Aunt Agnes said. “Let me just grab a file and some clippers.”

Aunt Agnes grabbed Taylor’s left hand and started to cut the acrylics down.

“Huh, that’s interesting.” Aunt Agnes said as she put down the clippers.

“What is?” Taylor asked.

“I didn’t have to clip them down as far as I thought… Guess your nails have grown a bit.” Aunt Agnes started to use the file on the acrylics. “What made you decide to finally get rid of them?”

“Well, I didn’t have anything better to do and Emily isn’t around to stop me.” Taylor chuckled.

“I see you took back control of your wardrobe…” Aunt Agnes said as she continued filing.

“Yeah,” Taylor said. “Feels nice to wear my own clothes.”

“I want to apologize again, if I’d known the effects that my little prank would have…” Aunt Agnes trailed off.

“Don’t worry, I forgive you, I mean, it’s not like you could have predicted all this.” Taylor said.

“That’s for sure. I guess I’d misheard the old saying, I guess it was actually for want of ten nails…” Aunt Agnes finished on Taylor’s left hand and switched over to his right. “Have you decided when you plan to ‘go home’?”

“Emily wants me to at least give this cheerleading thing the entire week… and I don’t think she’ll take no for an answer. But I’ll definitely do it before my parents get back.” Taylor replied.

“That’s still a few weeks off, you know.” Aunt Agnes reminded.

“Trust me, I know…” Taylor sighed. “I can’t even imagine what they’d think if they saw me like this.”

“They’d certainly be surprised, I’m sure.” Aunt Agnes finished on Taylor’s right hand. “Now put your fingers in this bowl.”

Aunt Agnes poured the nail polish remover into the bowl and Taylor lowered his fingertips into the bowl.

“Now just let them sit for a bit and then we’ll scrub off the remaining acrylic and your nails will be back to normal.”

“This feels even girlier than having them.” Taylor remarked.

“At least you won’t have them for much longer. Let me put on a movie or something while we wait.” Aunt Agnes turned the TV on, flipping the channel to an old TV sitcom that Taylor only vaguely recognized.

Despite that, Taylor found himself laughing along with the jokes and listened to Aunt Agnes as she explained the characters and premise to him. After twenty minutes or so, Taylor removed his fingers from the acetone bath, with Aunt Agnes scrubbing them down until only Taylor’s original fingernails remained underneath.

“There we go! Just like new, though your skin might be dry for a few days… I might have a lotion that will help with that. I was going to suggest doing your toenails next, but I think we both need a break from breathing in those fumes.” Aunt Agnes wrinkled her nose.

“Agreed, and at least those aren’t noticeable if I’m wearing socks.” Taylor said.

“I suppose you’re going to go back up to your room to play video games?” Aunt Agnes asked.

Taylor glanced towards the door, then back to Aunt Agnes. He’d spent all this time at her house, but this was the most time they’d spent together that wasn’t a meal, and while part of that had been anger over the prank, Taylor realized he didn’t have much time left here, and he should make an effort. Especially given how much she’d put up with helping Taylor keep the charade going.

“Actually, I was thinking I’d stay here, you know, if you’re going to keep watching the show.”

Aunt Agnes smiled.

“This next episode is one of my favorites…” Aunt Agnes said as the theme song started to play.

As they sat watching, Taylor wiggled his fingers and observed his nails. Sure, they were longer than he usually kept them, but not nearly as long as they’d been with the acrylics. Was it just Taylor’s imagination playing tricks on him? Perhaps, but he couldn’t deny that even without the acrylics and nail polish, his hands still looked vaguely feminine, though he quickly shook away the thought.

On Saturday morning, after a very long week of cheerleading practices, Taylor followed Emily down the stairs of her porch, both dressed in the same outfit they’d worn at the previous days’ practices.

“Emily, do we really have to do this in your front yard? Where everyone can see us?” Taylor asked, feeling vulnerable in his uniform, tugging at the skirt.

“Shy today, are we? Is that because Logan is helping my dad with the car?” Emily asked, glancing towards the garage. “It’s okay if you have a crush, I promise I won’t tell.”

“What? Of course not!” Taylor blushed at the idea. He wasn’t gay! He just didn’t exactly like the idea of prancing around in a revealing outfit in front of another guy. “I just don’t see why we can’t do this in the backyard.”

“Because there’s no grass in the backyard. I know you’re new to cheerleading but there’s not many football fields that are paved with cement, so you’ve gotta practice on the right turf.” Emily said. “You’re not going to want to fall over onto hard cement, trust me.”

“It’s still embarrassing…” Taylor muttered.

As they walked out onto the lawn, Emily started to set up her phone on the porch, resting it and pointing it towards where they’d be standing.

“Are you taking photos of this?” Taylor asked.

“No.” Emily replied.

“Phew.” Taylor sighed.

“Video, actually, it’s how my old coach used to help us improve. Record what we did and watch it back later.” Emily said. “Plus, it makes for good stuff to put up on social media.”

“Great…” Taylor grimaced.

“Here, take these.” Emily handed Taylor a pair of red and white pom poms. “I figured we could work on our rhythm and chanting first.”

“We haven’t used these at practice yet…” Taylor held the pom pom as if it was hazardous waste, with two fingers away from his body.

“I know, but I really want to make a good impression on Coach Roberts.” Emily pleaded. “So I want to be totally awesome by the next practice!”

“All right… so how does this work?” Taylor asked.

“Once you’re holding them right,” Emily quickly adjusted the pom poms in Taylor’s hands. “Then you start like this…”

Emily started into a complicated routine, waving them around in near-perfect sync as she chanted.

“2-4-6-8, our team will dominate! Go team, yeah, yeah, go team!” Emily chanted.

Taylor’s eyes widened as he saw how complicated it was, how Emily’s arms were practically blurs.

“Now you try!” Emily beamed.

“I don’t think I can.” Taylor said.

“Come on! Of course you can!” Emily said. “Just start small. Work on the first few moves and just repeat them a whole bunch, eventually it becomes muscle memory.”

Taylor sighed, took a deep breath, and started to mimic Emily’s movements.

“You have to say the chant!” Emily insisted.

“2-4-6-8, our team will dominate…” Taylor muttered.

“With more energy!” Emily added.

“2-4-6-8, our team will dominate! Go team, yeah, yeah, go team!” Taylor shouted in the most enthusiastic way he could muster at the moment.

“Perfect!” Emily grinned. “It’s a shame that you aren’t gonna be a student at Summit Academy, cause you’d be a shoe-in for the team for sure!”

“Yeah… A shame…” Taylor smiled as he imagined a school year free of the issues that this summer had contained.

After a few more routines, Emily seemed to have done enough and went to shut off the camera. As she did, Logan walked out of the garage, wiping his hands on a rag. He spotted Taylor and Emily sitting on the porch steps and walked over to them.

“So…” Logan started, his eyes refusing to meet Taylor’s for some reason.

“So.” Emily replied, grinning for some reason.

“So?” Taylor asked.

“Are either of you doing anything next Friday?” Logan asked. “Cause the new Captain Wonder movie is coming out that night, are you interested in going to see it with me?”

Emily made a big show of sighing.

“I’d love to! Unfortunately, I have an appointment at the hair salon and then I was going over to Dayna’s so she could give me the scoop on all my new teachers.” Emily said. “But you’re free, right Taylor?”

“Oh yeah,” Taylor replied, knowing that his only obligations were related to things Emily wanted to do. And remembering what had happened the last time Emily was busy... “I’d love to go see it! Usually I go with my friend Owen, but since I’ve been stuck here…”

“Awesome! I’ll let you know the time once I buy the tickets.” Logan said.

“Logan! Get back here! I need your help with this!” Mr. Jackson shouted from the garage.

“See ya!” Logan quickly rushed back into the garage.

“How exciting for you.” Emily said. “What are you gonna wear?”

“A t-shirt? I’m just seeing a movie.” Taylor replied.

“Right…” Emily giggled.

Taylor rolled his eyes and sighed, he’d spent all this time with Emily and yet sometimes he couldn’t understand what was going on in her head.

Aunt Agnes looked out her front window, spotting Taylor standing on the lawn across the street with Emily and Logan. As she watched, the phone began to ring and Aunt Agnes rushed to pick it up.

“Hello?” Aunt Agnes answered the phone.

“Agnes? Hello! It’s Vicky Fletcher!” Principal Fletcher exclaimed on the other end.

“Vicky! How unexpected! Taylor told me that... she’d... met you, but I’d forgotten to ask for your number!” Aunt Agnes said.

“While I definitely want to catch up, maybe get coffee or lunch at some point, it’s funny that you bring up Taylor, because that’s exactly who I wanted to talk about.”

“Oh? Did… she do something wrong?”

“Nothing of the sort! She’s a lovely girl, and definitely got her beauty from your side of the family, no, I was actually interested in extending a full scholarship to the Summit Academy, partly because I know she’s your niece, but also because the cheerleading coach really wants her on the squad. She’s a novice, but the coach thinks she has a lot of promise. What do you think?”

“Oh… my! That’s a wonderful offer, but I’m afraid I’ll have to decline. I’m not her legal guardian, she’s just living with me for the summer, and either way, I think she’d rather go back to school with her friends from back home.”

“Of course, of course, I suppose I’d have to ask her parents, then.”

“That’s right. Although I don’t have their contact info on hand.”

“No worries, Agnes. And you have a very lovely niece, I think she’s really coming out of her shell thanks to the girls on the squad.” Principal Fletcher said.

“I’m sure she is…” Aunt Agnes said.

“Anyway… Oh! Look at the time, I’ve got to go, but we’ll catch up soon, right?” Principal Fletcher asked.

“Of course, Vicky.” Aunt Agnes said. “It was nice hearing from you.”

Aunt Agnes hung up the phone and let out a loud, deep sigh. “Taylor, what am I going to do with you?”

That night at dinner, Taylor told Aunt Agnes of his plans for the upcoming Friday.

“I didn’t realize Emily liked movies like that.” Aunt Agnes remarked.

“Oh, Emily isn’t going.” Taylor said.

“So it’s just going to be you and Logan?” Aunt Agnes asked.

“Yeah, I don’t think he’s made any friends since school isn’t in session yet and unlike Emily and the cheerleading squad, he hasn’t had an opportunity yet.” Taylor said. “So it’s just me.”

Aunt Agnes seemed conflicted, and hesitantly put a hand on her nephew’s shoulder.

“Taylor, you realize what you agreed to, right?” Aunt Agnes asked.

“Agreed to? I’m just going to see a movie with a friend.” Taylor replied.

“But Logan knows you as a girl, and while I know that it’s possible to be platonic friends, given what you’ve said about Emily’s comments…”

“Oh no…” Taylor’s face dropped. “I agreed to go on a date with Logan… I have to cancel!”

“That’s probably wise.” Aunt Agnes said.

“But I really want to see the movie… and I’d feel bad if Logan already bought the tickets…” Taylor said.

“I suppose it’s up to you,” Aunt Agnes said.

“Why do I keep making things so complicated?” Taylor asked himself as he put his head into his hands.

Summer's End

Over the course of the summer, Taylor’s life had changed in numerous ways, but the most noticeable change was in his morning routine. After agreeing to join the cheerleading program, Taylor was then quickly roped into Emily’s morning jogs, so that meant being up early and in a tight running outfit. Once the run was over, Taylor would return to Aunt Agnes’ to take a shower, which was a whole production, since he had an entirely new hair and skin-care regimen courtesy of Emily’s cajoling. Special shampoo, special conditioner, a special face wash, a special body wash, not to mention having to shave his entire body, lest he be forced to let Emily nair him down again, a process that Taylor was not eager to repeat.

Then, Taylor had to pick out a suitably “cute” outfit, and coordinate his makeup. At least he had to in order to ensure that Emily wouldn’t take it upon herself to give him a makeover once he arrived at her house. Somewhat positively, on days that they had cheerleading practice, which Taylor had attempted to quit no less than six times so far, only to be forced to back down by Emily and the girls, who promised to help him get better, Taylor didn’t have to pick out an outfit, and just had to be dressed in his practice uniform, a lycra tank top over a sports bra, lycra skirt, and athletic socks and sneakers. While it was undeniably feminine, Taylor could at least take solace in the fact that it was comfortable. Which can’t be said of a lot of the outfits Emily had forced him to wear.

Today, however, Taylor would be tested the most, since apart from cheerleading practice, it was the day that the new “Captain Wonder” movie premiered, and Taylor would be seeing it with Logan. On the one hand, Taylor enjoyed spending time with Logan, because he wasn’t constantly trying to force Taylor to do girly things, but on the other hand, if Logan thought this was a date…

Taylor shook his head and tried to banish the thought, for the moment anyway. As he took one final look in the mirror, he adjusted his skirt, examining his fingernails, which now sported elegant french tips, as did his toes, courtesy of a trip to the nail salon with Emily.

“At least it isn’t pink…” Taylor muttered as he grabbed his duffel bag and headed out of the room.

Descending the stairs, Taylor saw that Aunt Agnes was in the midst of another nail appointment with Deb, and Taylor waved as he headed towards the door.

“I’m off to practice, I’ll be back later!” Taylor shouted.

“Have fun, Taylor!” Aunt Agnes replied as Taylor walked out the front door, shutting the door behind him.

Deb did a double take at the door, before turning to Aunt Agnes and opening her mouth slightly as she tried to process what she’d just seen.

“It’s a long story,” Aunt Agnes said, shaking her head.

As cheerleading practice ended, Taylor was packing up his bag as Emily, Dayna, Zoey and Mari discussed the upcoming school year.

“I really hope I don’t end up getting Mrs. Wojowski again, she’s such a hardass!” Mari whined.

“Is it too much to hope that she retired over the summer?” Dayna asked.

The girls chuckled and continued talking, but were distracted by a loud whistle. The girls, and Taylor, all turned around to see Coach Roberts standing near one of the football goal posts.

“Taylor! Can I speak with you a moment?” Coach Roberts shouted.

“Oooooooooooh.” Zoey giggled. “Someone’s in trouble!”

“Taylor? Trouble? No way!” Emily interjected.

“I’ll be right back.” Taylor quickly finished packing his bag and slung it over his shoulder, rushing over to Coach Roberts. “What’s wrong, Coach?”

“Nothing is wrong, I just wanted to let you know how impressed I am with you. I mean, coming from being a complete beginner, and the improvement you’ve shown in only a few weeks, it’s incredible, I’ve only ever had a few girls who picked it up this quickly. I think you’ve got a future in cheerleading. I don’t suppose there’s any chance of you joining our team, is there?” Coach Roberts asked.

“Sorry, coach, but once summer is over I’m headed back home.” Taylor replied. “And I’m not really looking for a future in this, I’m just here for my friend.”

“Still, I’d consider joining the team back home if I was you. It looks good on college applications. Might even get you a scholarship.” Coach Roberts said.

“I’ll think about it…” Taylor said. “See you next week, Coach.”

Taylor headed back over to Emily and the girls and told them the reason that she’d called him over.

“It’s not a bad idea to consider, truthfully, it’s the only reason I’m doing it.” Mari said.

“And you really are good,” Dayna said. “You’re one of the most graceful cheerleaders I’ve ever seen. Most newbies are still tripping over their own feet at this point.”

Taylor blushed at the comment, distressed at how good he was an activity that he shouldn’t be good at.

After packing up their things, Emily and Taylor said goodbye to the girls and headed back to the car. During the drive home, Emily mostly made conversation by asking about the movie, in particular what Taylor intended to wear.

“I dunno, probably a t-shirt and shorts. It’s a superhero movie, not a French restaurant.” Taylor said.

“That’s no excuse not to look your best, especially if you want Logan to notice…” Emily said.

“I don’t.” Taylor said.

“Sure you don’t…” Emily giggled.

Taylor just rolled his eyes, like he usually did. There was no bringing Emily down from her fantasies about her brother’s girlfriend being her bestie. Once they got back, Emily headed home to shower, but once she finished, she headed right over to see Taylor.

“I’ve gotta leave for my hair appointment soon, but I want to help you pick an outfit out… Let’s see…” Emily started digging through the closet.

“I think I can handle dressing myself, you’ve seen what I’ve picked over the past week, right?” Taylor said.

“Yeah, but this is special. Besides, I’ve seen every girl my brother dated, I know exactly how to impress him. Ooh, if you guys do a long distance thing, you’ll probably visit more…”

“Emily, this isn’t a date. We’re just friends.” Taylor insisted.

“Sure, just friends now…” Emily giggled.

Taylor shook his head, he clearly wasn’t getting through to her. A few hours later, Emily had gone to her hair appointment, and Taylor was putting the finishing touches on his outfit. He’d accepted Emily’s choice of a skirt, since the embarrassment of wearing one had worn off weeks earlier, and he knew that she’d surely ask Logan if he saw him in it, but wouldn’t budge on wearing his Captain Wonder t-shirt. Of course, it fit slightly differently with a bra underneath. As he adjusted it a few times, Taylor grimaced as he realized he looked like the cute nerdy girl that he always wished he could date.

“It’s just a movie…” Taylor whispered to himself.

After grabbing a purse, since the skirt didn’t have pockets, and heading downstairs, Taylor said goodbye to Aunt Agnes, and walked outside, where Logan was waiting with the car.

Taylor breathed a sigh of relief as he saw that Logan was wearing just a hoodie, and not something that implied that this movie was anything more than just two friends watching a movie. Taylor hopped inside, being careful not to accidentally flash his underwear, and Logan began driving.

“I’m so excited for the movie! It looks like it’s gonna be awesome!” Logan exclaimed.

“I know, right?” Taylor said. “When they released the teaser back at Comic Con, I was so pumped!”

“I’m just glad we’re seeing it before all the spoilers are all over the internet.” Logan said.

“Absolutely, I had the last Justice Sentinels movie spoiled for me and it sucked!” Taylor whined.

The conversation continued all the way to the theater. Arriving at the multiplex, Logan parked the car and he and Taylor made their way towards their theater. After saving their seats, Logan headed out to the concession stand, returning a short while later with snacks and drinks, which was a soda each and a large popcorn to share, since it was cheaper than two mediums. After getting settled in and watching the previews, the film started.

“Sometimes, life throws you curveballs, and you’ve just got to field ‘em.” the main character narrated as the tail-end of an epic superhero fight played on the screen.

For the first time since this entire mess started, Taylor was able to forget about how he was dressed, and who he was here with, to just enjoy the experience as the film played. As highly anticipated as the film was, Taylor was glad to see it in theaters instead of waiting for it to come out on streaming, which is what he’d probably have done if Emily and Logan hadn’t moved in across the street. However, twenty minutes in, Taylor began to shiver. Taylor admitted to himself that a skirt and a t-shirt were probably not the wisest outfit choice, despite Emily’s insistence, because a lot of him was exposed and the air conditioning was cranked really high. Logan must have taken notice because he quickly handed the large popcorn tub to Taylor.

"Hold this." he whispered. “I figured it might be chilly.”

Logan, unbeholden to the requirements of wearing a “cute” outfit, nor needed to keep the entire outfit together for the sake of coordination, unzipped his hoodie and draped it over Taylor’s shoulders, before taking the popcorn tub back. Taylor pulled the hoodie over his arms and zipped it up, happy to be warm and to be wearing men's clothing again.

"Thanks." Taylor whispered.

"No problem." Logan smiled as he whispered back.

While watching the movie, there were a few embarrassing instances where Taylor accidentally brushed his hand against Logan's, which were all punctuated by a small nervous giggle and furious blushing on Taylor's part, and a smile on Logan's part. But Taylor was enjoying the movie, that is until Logan reached his arm and put it around Taylor's shoulder.

Taylor immediately froze, he knew that he should pull away, but he didn't want to cause a scene in the middle of the theater. More importantly, it was a really climactic scene, and he didn't want to miss any of it.

He wasn't sure if it was the warmth of the hoodie, combined with the... honestly reassuring feeling that came from Logan's arm, but Taylor soon forgot that Logan's arm was even there as the hero on screen took down the villain in a spectacular action scene.

"Yes!" Taylor pumped his fist as the hero landed a good punch.

Logan turned to him and started to chuckle, with Taylor joining in with a giggle.

Taylor felt Logan adjust his arm and watched as Logan started to move his face closer to Taylor's.

Taylor thought that Logan was about to ask him a question, and turned his head but was taken entirely by surprise when Logan went in for a kiss. He was so surprised that he froze, while his brain tried to make sense of what was happening. There were a lot of feelings and emotions running through his mind.

“Does this mean that Emily and Aunt Agnes were right and this is a date? Did Taylor accidentally give him the impression that he wanted a kiss?” Taylor frantically thought as the kiss continued, too surprised to pull away.

It was an explosion on the movie screen that finally snapped him out of his reverie. Logan pulled away and smiled as Taylor blushed furiously, sinking into his seat and hoping that he'd be swallowed into it.

...No such luck.

After the movie ended, both Taylor and Logan headed for the bathroom, with Taylor using the women’s restroom for the first time, and debating rinsing his mouth out in the sink, before deciding against it, because however gross he felt after kissing another boy, a public sink was far grosser. He also realized that it was far more crowded, since it took three times as long as usual to get into a stall, do his business and get out. After washing his hands, Taylor exited the bathroom, finding Logan waiting to the side by some posters for upcoming films.

“Hey, sorry I took so long, it was super crowded in there.” Taylor said.

“No worries… Listen, I’m sorry if the kiss made things weird… it just seemed like the thing to do at the time…” Logan wrung his hands as he spoke.

“Oh… uh…” Taylor felt a pang of guilt. Sure, he didn’t want the kiss, but he didn’t want Logan to feel bad about it. It wasn’t Logan’s fault that Taylor wasn’t actually a girl. “It’s not that… it’s just that… well, I’m going to be going home soon and…”

“I get it. We’ll probably never see each other again.” Logan frowned.

“Yeah…” Taylor said with a hint of sadness in his voice. Although whether the sadness was for Emily, Logan or Aunt Agnes he couldn’t figure out.

After putting a reassuring hand on Taylor’s shoulder, Logan started walking towards the exit of the theater.

After arriving home, Taylor greeted Aunt Agnes before quickly heading up to the bedroom, ignoring the probing texts that Emily had begun sending shortly after they’d left the theater. All Taylor wanted to do was sleep, and he quickly pulled off the skirt and bra, laying in bed in just a pair of panties and the Captain Wonder t-shirt. Much like the first night after Aunt Agnes’ prank, Taylor fell asleep eager for the day when he could go home and put the entire summer to a permanent rest.

The next morning, a Saturday, Taylor was awoken by a gentle knock on his door. He sat up to see Aunt Agnes waiting by the door.

“Is something wrong?” Taylor asked, yawning.

“I was about to ask you the same thing, Emily hasn’t come by yet and I got worried.” Aunt Agnes stepped into the room.

“Worried? Why?” Taylor reached for his phone and realized that it was nearly noon. “Wow… She let me sleep in?”

“Did you two have a fight?” Aunt Agnes asked.

“No.” Taylor replied. “I haven’t spoken to her since she went to get her hair done yesterday.”

“Did something happen with Logan at the movies? I noticed you weren’t too eager to chat when you got home.”

“Sort of… Logan… he kissed me.”

“Oh my…” Aunt Agnes sat down onto the bed next to Taylor.

“Yeah, I’m still not entirely sure how I felt about it.”

“Did you like it?”


“So there you go!”

“But I still kissed a boy!”

Aunt Agnes put her hand on Taylor’s shoulder and smiled.

“Trust me, Taylor. When you’ve been around for as long as I have… boy or girl, you’re going to have some kisses you regret.”

“Doesn’t it make me… gay?”

“If you didn’t enjoy it, it means that, at the very least, you’re not attracted to Logan. So, I’d say no.” Aunt Agnes said. “But even if you are gay, that’s not a bad thing.”

“I guess it’s not…” Taylor said, sitting up. “This summer has been a disaster.”

“I know, and I take a good chunk of the responsibility for that, although it’s not like you made it any easier on yourself. You had a few outs that you didn’t use, and you really let Emily walk all over you. You’ve got to learn to put your foot down with people like her. How did you get along at home?”

“At home it was different, when I’m me, I know what I like and what I don’t, I didn’t have to be constantly worried that someone would figure out who I really was. I guess I was just taking the path of least resistance and hoping that if I just skated through, the summer would end and I could return to normal.”

“It’s going to be tough, I mean, Emily’s not just going to stop texting or tweetmailing you, or whatever it is you kids do, are you going to keep an outfit and makeup to keep her at bay when you leave? Or are you going to just drop all contact? Because if you think I’ll put up with her hounding me for the rest of my life, I’m just going to tell her where you live and let you figure it out.” Aunt Agnes chuckled.

“I didn’t really think that far ahead…” Taylor muttered.

“The anthem of this summer, for both of us.” Aunt Agnes stood up. “So, what’s next?”

“I think I’m going to go over and talk to Emily, I’ve got some things to get off my chest.” Taylor replied.

After his shower, Taylor put on one of his “cute outfits” that Emily had picked out for him during one of their trips to the mall, consisting of a pair of capris and a scoop neck tee. He was going to just wear one of his, as Emily referred to them, “tomboy outfits”, but he figured if he was going to clear some of the air with Emily, it’d be best to not rock the boat too much. Taylor headed across the street, his flip flops slapping against the ground.

“Hey, bestie!” Emily said, looking up from where she was sitting on the porch. “How was the movie? I was gonna come by this morning, but Logan said you seemed a little weird last night so I wanted to give you some space.”

“The movie was awesome!” Taylor said. “How was your hair appointment?”

“Fine, but come on, spill!” Emily said. “Logan said you started acting weird after the movie…”

“Did he tell you what happened?” Taylor asked.

“Not really, he just said that you came home and that was it.” Emily replied. “Why? Did something happen?”

“During the movie… he kissed me,” Taylor said.

“That’s great!” Emily exclaimed, then noticed Taylor’s serious face. “Isn’t it?”

“No! I’ve been trying to tell you, I like Logan as a friend. I don’t want to date him!” Taylor said.

“But I thought…” Emily started.

“That’s exactly it, you never really gave me a chance to explain that, you were practically planning our wedding! I’d still really like to be friends, with both of you… I just don’t want to lead Logan on, you know?” Taylor finished. “It’s not right.”

“I get it.” Emily said. “But that’s something you’ve gotta tell him yourself.”

“I know.” Taylor took a deep breath as Emily opened her door.

Taylor knocked lightly on Logan’s door, when he didn’t hear a response, he peeked in, and saw that Logan was wearing a headset as he played a video game. Taylor knocked slightly louder, then cleared his throat, which finally got Logan’s attention. He quickly paused the game.

“Oh hey, what’s up Taylor?” Logan asked. “Feeling better?”

“Yeah, Listen, I think I need to clear some things up.” Taylor started. “I…”

“Only want to be friends? I figured as much after the kiss, I probably should’ve figured way earlier, Emily has a way of only saying what she wants you to hear.”

“Emily told you things about me?”

“Nothing major, just hinting, I’m sure she did the same to you, needling about looks or something I said in passing that she pounced on. I do like you, but I’m happy to just be friends”

“I’m so glad, I really didn’t want to be leading you on.” Taylor sighed in relief.

“No worries. Besides, I don’t think long distance would have worked out. When would we have ever talked? Cause if you had to divide video-calling time between me and Emily, I’d never get my turn.” Logan chuckled.

“You’re probably right…” Taylor said.

“I’m about to go up against the Lich Queen, wanna be Player 2?” Logan held up a controller.

“Nothing would make me happier.” Taylor gladly took the controller and sat down next to Logan.

A few days later, after the emotionally charged conversations were over, including one that Taylor had with Emily about boundaries, which she seemed to be receptive to, it was just another summer day. Taylor was eating breakfast, he had his hair up in a messy bun and was wearing a pink tank top and shorts, since he was waiting for Emily’s morning run, which he’d intended to drop, but actually found the run to be enjoyable and beneficial, despite the athletic gear he had to wear for it. Aunt Agnes had just sat down with her breakfast when the phone rang.

“I’ll get it! Hello?” Aunt Agnes asked as she picked up the phone. “Oh, hello, do you want me to put Taylor on? Oh, I see. He’s right here, give me a moment.”

“Who is it?” Taylor asked.

Aunt Agnes put the phone on speaker and placed it onto the kitchen table.

“Taylor? Are you there?” the voice of Taylor’s mother came out of the phone.

Taylor’s parents hadn’t been keeping in regular contact during their trip because the area of the country they were in had less than reliable cell phone service and spotty at best internet. This arrangement suited Taylor fine, since it meant his parents were unaware of his activities. The less explaining them the better. A call meant either an emergency, or it meant they were back in the country and were going to come get him soon.

“Mom! How’s the trip?” Taylor asked. “When are you getting back?”

“The trip is nice, your father’s been working a lot, but it’s a beautiful country.” Taylor’s mother replied, deliberately ignoring the second question. “How have you been? Keeping busy with Aunt Agnes?”

“We’re doing fine… There were a few hiccups at the beginning, but as much as I like it, I can’t wait to get home.” Taylor said.

“About that…” Taylor’s mother started. “Maybe I should let your father explain.”

“What’s going on?” Taylor asked, hearing the phone being fumbled to another person.

“Taylor? Is that you?” Taylor’s father asked. “Have you had fun staying with Aunt Agnes?”

“Yeah, it’s me and sure, I’ve had fun. Mom was saying something about when you were coming to get me.” Taylor replied.

“Right, so for all the work I’ve done this summer, I got a promotion.”

“That’s great!”

“It is, but the position requires me to set up a new office over here, and they want me to oversee it for the first few months of operation, it’s only temporary, four months at the most, but it doesn’t make sense to move you and all of our things to a new country if we’ll be back by Christmas. We got an email from Principal Fletcher from a school over by Aunt Agnes’s house offering you a scholarship.” Taylor’s father continued.

Taylor looked over at Aunt Agnes who only shrugged in response.

“It was a bit hard to understand at first, but since it would make things easier, we accepted it. You’ll stay with Aunt Agnes for the Fall, start at this Summit Academy place, which based on what we’ve read seems like a great school, and your mother and I will handle my work, come back at Christmas and you’ll start the spring semester back at your old school and graduate with your friends. Doesn’t that sound great?” Taylor’s father finished.

“What? But why can’t I go home?” Taylor asked.

“Because we won’t be there, and you need a guardian staying with you if you’re a minor.” Taylor’s father said.

“What if I stayed at Owen’s and lived with him?” Taylor asked.

“Trust me, it’ll be for your own good.” Taylor’s father replied. “Oh and Taylor? Your mother and I want you to know, we accept you no matter what.”

“Huh?” Taylor was confused. What the hell was his father talking about?

“And even if there’s something you don’t want to tell us yet, we understand.” Taylor’s mother interjected.

Suddenly it clicked. If they’d gotten an email from Principal Fletcher… she must’ve said something about the cheerleading or the fact that Taylor, as far as Principal Fletcher knew, was a girl.

“You don’t understand! Whatever that email said, it’s all a big misunderstanding!” Taylor shouted.

“We’re so glad that you came out of your shell with the cheerleaders and we’ve got a lot to talk about, but I’d rather discuss it in-person, and failing that, at least when we have reliable internet to do a video call.” Taylor’s father said.

“Wait, just let me explain!” Taylor insisted.

“Sorry, Taylor, but the phone connection is breaking up. We’ll talk soon, okay?” Taylor’s mother finished just as the call cut off, replaced by a dial tone.

Taylor was utterly stunned. Aunt Agnes hung up the phone and put her hand on Taylor’s shoulder.

“What do I do now?” Taylor looked up at Aunt Agnes, tears beginning to well up in his eyes.

“It is a co-ed school, I think if I explain all this to Vicky, she’ll understand.” Aunt Agnes said.

“But all those people who already know me… The girls on the team, the coach… I thought I’d just be able to forget about this whole summer once it ended…” Taylor sighed. “This isn’t how this summer was supposed to go…”

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry… Aunt Agnes observed.

Taylor sat with his head in his manicured hands as he realized that his time as a gamer girl, Emily’s bestie and a cheerleader wasn’t coming to an end as he’d hoped, but only just beginning. It was going to be a long semester...

To Be Continued...
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