Double Take

bythrillerauthor©

Sandy's heart was pounding as he reached for the phone. It rang before he could pick it up. It was Ashley.

"Sandy, please don't hang up on me."

"Okay."

"Where have you been?"

"I just needed to get out. What happened to your big date?"

"Oh Sandy, it was such a disaster." She started to ramble on and on about how her old boyfriend had called her out of the blue, and about how much he used to mean to her, but that he had changed somehow, or maybe she was the one who had changed. Sandy just stood there and let her talk, reveling in the sound of her voice. So what if she was talking to him like another girlfriend? At that moment, he would have settled for that forever.

When she asked him about his day, he replayed his showdown with Buster Cruz. Ashley was in hysterics by the time he finished the story. "You're going to give Ashley Vaughn a bad reputation!" she laughed.

"The gang at Moondoggies will never forget you, that's for sure." He told her about his nose job comment, and she laughed some more.

"Well, at least you were properly dressed. Which dress did you wear?"

"The blue sundress."

"I used to love that dress. It has a little bow in the back. Untie it."

"Huh?"

"You heard me. Put the phone down for a second, and untie the bow."

Sandy did as he was told, wondering where this was going.

"Now, slip the straps off your shoulders, and let it fall to the floor."

Once again Sandy complied, and his dress fell into a puddle around his feet.

"Yes, Mistress," Sandy said, breathing heavier now.

"Next, take off your panties. What color are they, by the way?"

"Blue."

"Just like your dress. How darling! Are we getting aroused?"

Sandy's cock was raging. "Yes," he managed to say.

"I thought so. I'm closing my eyes, and imagining that you are right here with me. I am teasing your cock with my long fingernails. How does it feel?"

Sandy began to stroke himself as he listened to her incredibly sexy voice. "It feels so good."

"Excellent. Now pick up your dress and wrap it around your penis. That's right, you heard me. It's nice and silky, isn't it?"

"Yes. Oh God," Sandy groaned as he lost control of himself. He fell to his knees, milking himself lustily with Ashley's pretty sundress.

"Hello?"

"I'm still here."

"Are we all finished?"

"That was incredible."

"Good girl. Now for your next assignment, put on my pink nightie, snuggle up under the covers, and call me back for further instructions."

* * *

Sandy and Ashley became lovers that summer. As Ashley's leg grew strong again, they became almost inseparable as their feelings for each other blossomed. Ashley soon dismissed her personal trainer, spending hours in the water with Sandy as her surfing became more and more proficient. All the while, she was becoming increasingly fascinated with Sandy's bold exploration of his feminine side.

For Sandy, that summer was a dream of sex, surf and silk. His pent-up longing for Ashley exploded into marathons of lovemaking that left them both exhilarated, exhausted, and yearning for more. When Sandy wasn't teaching Ashley how to surf, he spent the days cruising up and down the coast with Toby, who became the perfect beard as Sandy's presumed boyfriend. The first time Toby saw Sandy in his powder blue wetsuit, he had laughed himself silly, but soon they were hanging out together like nothing had changed.

When Sandy and Ashley took a rare night off, Sandy and Toby hung out together at surf bars. Toby kept the guys from hitting on his friend while Sandy worked on his surfer girl persona, becoming more and more comfortable with his role as Pepper Reef. After months of practice, he was starting to sound more and more like Ashley, and soon he fell into using her voice full time. His hair was getting longer, and bikini lines crisscrossed his tanned body, which was soft and smooth from steady doses of licorice root and wild yam cream.

For Toby, the most fun was when the three of them hung out together. Accompanied by two identical knockouts, Toby was the envy of every guy they came across, even though Sandy and Ashley were constantly trying to fool Toby as to which one was really the girl. He was a great sport about it, and Ashley was soon angling to get him a bit part on Wet Girls.

As for Ashley, the truly magical days were the ones she spent out on the town with Sandy, shopping for identical outfits and recounting their adventures over long lunches at sidewalk cafes on Melrose Street. Ashley delighted in Sandy's acceptance of his new-found femininity, and she amused herself by decorating his condo with the unmistakable stamp of a woman. During their outings, they disguised themselves with sunglasses and baseball caps, turning heads everywhere they went. Sandy was the sister she never had, and the boyfriend she always wanted.

The highlight of the summer came about when Ashley was invited to take a screen test for a movie to be made by Woody Allen in New York. It was a sensational part, and she would be perfect for it. The timing was good, because shooting on the picture was not set to begin until after the completion of the second season of Wet Girls. But under the terms of Ashley's studio contract, she was obligated to take part in an awards ceremony in Beverly Hills the day of her screen test.

After a night of exquisite sex, she went to work on Sandy. He pretended to put up a fight, but in the end he agreed to get gussied up and take her place. They spent days shopping for the perfect outfit, and she even gave him a pedicure before she pronounced that his feet were too gnarly for the open-toed shoes she had intended to wear. Heels and stockings it would have to be.

Sandy would need an escort for the big event, so Toby was dragooned into the conspiracy. He agreed to go on the condition that he would not have to wear a tie.

* * *

The day of the ceremony, Sandy had his hair and nails done at a salon selected by Ashley, who was already on her way to New York. He luxuriated with a long bubble bath in Ashley's tub, shaving his legs while he tried to get in the mood for Ashley's Hollywood gala.

He pampered himself with Ashley's lilac-scented moisturizing crème before dressing up. First he put on a one-piece body briefer that Ashley had selected for him. It held his manhood snugly back between his legs, gave him a waist like a wasp, and pushed up his pecs to create a hint of cleavage. Ultra-sheer control-top pantyhose were next, and when he tugged them on, his trapped penis was too bent out of shape to enjoy it.

Then to Ashley's vanity, where he sat down on a little bench and began to apply his makeup. After watching experts make him over every day on the set of Wet Girls, he knew what he was doing, and soon his pretty face had blushing cheeks, smoky eyes, and rosebud lips. He put diamond studs in his earlobes, fussed with his hair to get it just so, dabbed some of Ashley's expensive perfume behind his ears and knees, and headed for her closet.

The dress Ashley had finally settled on was a soft white creation that kissed the tops of his knees with clouds of rustling taffeta. He lowered it carefully over his perfect hairdo before zipping and clasping it behind him. He fastened a diamond pendant around his neck, and added a diamond-studded Rolex watch which Ashley had left for him. Then he stepped into his white stilettos and minced his way over to the full length mirror on the back of her closet door.

What Sandy saw took his breath away. The young woman in the mirror slowly turned this way and that, sizing herself up from head to toe with a critical eye. There was no doubt about it. The blonde bombshell looking back at him was Ashley Vaughn. He was in a daze as he dropped a lipstick, hairbrush and Altoids into Ashley's little white clutch purse, almost forgetting her housekey.

If Sandy was surprised by his transformation, it was nothing compared to Toby's reaction when he first laid eyes on his old friend. The studio sent a limo to pick them up, Ashley first and then her date. Sandy chatted with the driver as they drove down Sunset Boulevard towards Malibu, honing Ashley's voice to build up self-confidence. When they arrived at Toby's shack, the driver got out and knocked on the door. When he returned with Toby a few minutes later, it was obvious that they had been arguing.

Toby was dressed in flip flops and a billabong shirt. It was his best shirt, it was even clean, and he was wearing long pants, but evidently the driver had told him his attire was unacceptable, because Toby was muttering to himself when he stuck his head into the limo.

"Whoa, get a load of this thing. Holy shit, look at you. Dude!" Toby was open-mouthed as he took in the luxury of his surroundings, and the appearance of his best friend. Perched on a black leather settee in his white dress, his diamonds sparkling and his silky legs shimmering, Sandy Lane was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen.

Sandy raised the glass barrier separating them from the driver before he responded to Toby's outburst. "In the first place, Mister, my name is Ashley, not Dude," he said in Ashley's sweet voice. "You got that?"

Toby nodded his head. He couldn't take his eyes off Sandy's legs.

"Next, you look like a bum. What kind of girl do you think I am? Go back inside and put on a sport coat, at least."

"Uh, I don't have one."

Sandy knew he was telling the truth. He lowered the partition and said to the driver, "Could you please take a left up ahead and pull into that strip mall?" The driver complied, and he drove slowly until Sandy told him to stop in front of a Salvation Army thrift store that he and Toby used to frequent.

"Get in there and find yourself a jacket. Some shoes would be nice, too."

"Don't you want to help pick them out?"

"Ashley Vaughn wouldn't be caught dead in there."

Toby returned ten minutes later, carrying a shoe box and wearing an electric blue blazer that appeared to be a distant member of the polyester family. Sandy was doing a slow burn as Toby opened the old shoebox and stuffed his feet into a pair of maroon alligator wingtips. "What's eating you?" Toby finally asked.

"I was a fool to ask you to do this," Sandy fumed. "You look like a beach bum."

"I am a beach bum. And so were you, before you found your inner woman. Who's shitting who?"

They rode in silence through Westwood towards the Beverly Hilton, where the awards dinner was to take place. When Sandy spoke again, he had a pleading look in his eyes. "I'm sorry, Toby. I know I'm freaking out. Do you have any idea what I had to go through to look like this?"

"I can't imagine."

"I spent two hours in a beauty salon this morning, and another two hours putting myself together at Ashley's place. My dick is numb, my feet are killing me, and in less than an hour I've got to get up in front of a national television audience and pretend that I'm a girl."

"You won't have any trouble, Dude."

"All it takes is one little slip-up, and Ashley will be kicked off the series, and take me with her."

"What can I do to help?"

"Try treating me like a lady."

And so he did, holding Sandy's hand as he helped him out of the limo, leading the way into the International Ballroom with Sandy on his arm, pulling back Sandy's chair when they sat down at their dinner table, and making sure that none of the unattached guys got close enough to Sandy to do any damage. With Toby running interference, Sandy was able to pull off Ashley's assignment without a hitch, reading the names of the nominees for some obscure award before retreating back to their table.

And it turned out that Toby, with his bleached blonde hair and golden tan, was a bit of a sensation himself, in stark contrast to the dandies and wannabies who accompanied most of the single women. While Sandy was up at the podium reading Ashley's lines, three women slipped him notes with their names and phone numbers.

* * *

It was all too perfect to last, of course. Come August, they were back to the daily grind of scripts, makeup, costumes, and more scripts. Toby had a few walk-on appearances on Wet Girls, but he got bored hanging around the set, and finally took off for the north shore of Oahu for the big wave season. Sandy was devastated to see him leave. Ashley consoled him as best she could, but she could sense that he was beginning to miss the freedom he had taken for granted when he was a guy. Their nights together in Hollywood Hills and Redondo Beach became fewer and farther in between, as they coped as best they could with the pressures of a network series, the conflict between their work and their relationship, and the added strain of living in a twilight zone between lovers and sisters.

One day, Sandy returned to his condo after an exhausting day of shooting and reshooting a surfing scene in Malibu. The waves were too small, and when they finally gave up and called it a day, Sandy was blue and shivering. He stood under a hot shower for ten minutes before he wrapped a fleece-lined robe around himself and went into the kitchen to heat up a can of soup. He dried his hair while it was warming up, and sat down in front of his computer after he wolfed it down.

Sandy subscribed to a web site for surfers. Through it he vicariously enjoyed his vanished freedom, and kept in touch with old friends and familiar places. He hadn't checked it out in several days, so he scrolled through the new items until he came across this:

SERVICES TOMORROW FOR TOBY GOODFIN: A waterman's memorial ceremony will be held at Swami's tomorrow for Cardiff legend Toby Goodfin, who was killed in a traffic accident on the Pala Highway last week.

Sandy was sick to his stomach as he scoured the web for more information. All he learned was that Toby Goodfin, age 25, died instantly after his Jeep Cherokee went over a cliff and plummeted two hundred feet into a ravine on Oahu. The services were scheduled for five o'clock the following day in the surfing community of Cardiff-by-the-Sea, a few hours south of Los Angeles.

Sandy was a zombie as he called Darla Palmer at home to tell her he would not be coming in tomorrow. She remembered Toby, told Sandy how sorry she was, and assured him that they would rework the schedule to shoot around him. Then he called Ashley, who burst into tears when he broke the news.

* * *

A beautiful girl in a black dress stood alone on Swami's beach while over thirty surfers sat on their boards and joined hands beyond the shore break, forming a circle fifty yards offshore. She watched as they spread flowers on the water, and said prayers for Toby Goodfin. She wanted to be with them, but somehow she could not bring herself to put on her powder blue wetsuit and hold hands with her old friends while Toby's ashes were committed to the waves. So she stood alone, her bare feet caked with wet sand as she cried over her lost friend.

She was standing beside her Audi convertible in the parking lot when the participants climbed up the steep steps and started heading for their cars. Two of them started to strap their surfboards onto the roof of the Toyota parked next to her Audi, and she lowered her head to avoid making eye contact with them. "Are you sure about this?" one of them was saying.

"Damn sure. That was no accident." It was Brad Jeffries, a surfer from Encinitas who had once traveled to Costa Rica with Toby Goodfin and Sandy Lane.

The girl put on her sunglasses before she approached them. "I'm sorry, but I couldn't help overhear what you were saying. How do you know it wasn't an accident?"

Brad looked her over as he fastened a bungie cord to his surfboard. "Did you know Toby?"

"Yes. We were very close."

"Look, all I know is what I hear."

"What do you hear?"

"Everybody knew that Buster Cruz vowed to waste Toby and some girl who trashed him this summer at Moondoggies in Malibu. This guy I know was sitting next to Buster at a bar on the north shore the night Toby went over the side on the Pala Highway. When somebody came in and said that Toby Goodfin just got killed, Buster had this shit-eating grin on his face. You tell me."

* * *

That night, Sandy stopped at the Mission San Juan Capistrano to pray for his lost friend, and to seek forgiveness for what he had to do. In his black dress, he looked like a sad young widow, in mourning for her lost soulmate. In truth, he was mourning much more than a missing friend. He was mourning his foresaken manhood.

How could he have let Toby get caught up in his kinky life? Toby Goodfin was the sweetest, kindest person he had ever met. He couldn't even bring himself to eat meat or fish. And now he was dead at age twenty-five, all because Sandy had to mouth off to Buster Cruz.

He looked down at himself in despair. What the hell am I doing here, in a house of God, wearing a dress and pretending to be a woman? How did I ever get so fucked up?

At that moment, all he wanted to do was drive to the nearest beach, tear off his dress, and swim west until he drowned. But he knew he couldn't do that. According to the surfers he spoke to at Toby's funeral, Buster Cruz had vowed to kill both Toby and Ashley. Sandy would never forgive himself if anything happened to her. So he hung his head in prayer, asking forgiveness once again for what he had to do.

* * *

When Sandy told Ashley what he intended to do, she tried desperately to talk him out of it. She begged him to go to the police and tell them what he had learned. But the more she tried, the more stubborn he became. Although he was acting more and more like a woman, at the core he was still a man, and he was determined to protect his woman and redeem himself. She knew if she fought him on it, she was likely to lose him forever.

Ashley got passed over for the part in New York, which only added to the deep funk which hung over them as the television season ground on. The long Thanksgiving weekend was approaching, and Ashley was called on once again to make a command performance for the network. This time she had no excuse, and Sandy had his opportunity.

After shooting wrapped on Tuesday night, Sandy caught a late flight to Honolulu. For the first time in his life, he traveled to Hawaii without a quiver of surfboards. Instead, he brought with him two suitcases. One was full of skirts, dresses, lingerie and female incidentals. The other was filled with contents from his storage locker in the Valley.

He checked into the Royal Hawaiian early Wednesday morning, and spent part of that day in the back alleys of Honolulu, dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt, with a floppy hat pulled down over his ears and a pair of over-sized sunglasses covering most of his face. He was carrying a lot of cash, but he looked like a man, and nobody hassled him. After he managed to purchase what he was looking for, he returned to the Royal Hawaiian and transformed himself back into a woman.

* * *

Buster Cruz was sitting alone at his customary table at Rosie's Café on the North Shore, eating a plate of enchiladas, when she walked into the restaurant. She had long dark hair, deep brown eyes, and if her miniskirt were any shorter, she could have been arrested. Every guy in the place was drooling as she walked over to Buster's table and pulled back a chair. Without waiting for an invitation, she sat down beside him and crossed her elegant legs.

"Are you Buster Cruz?" the stranger asked. She was all business

"The one and only," he said. Buster was used to chicas coming on to him, but this woman was in a whole different league.

She produced a business card. "I represent a major Hollywood studio. We're putting together a series to run head-to-head against Wet Girls."

"That show sucks." Buster had come to learn that Ashley Vaughn, the woman who humiliated him at Moondoggies, was in the cast, and he had unfinished business with her.

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