Jan started to lose control. After months of suppressing every thought, desire and instinct that might give him away, he yearned for his missing manhood, and when Becca suddenly kissed him, his old self came rushing back. He stroked her hot buttons, bringing her right up to edge until neither one of them could hold out any longer. Slowly, gently, he entered her beautiful body, up to the hilt, again and again, until finally they came together in a shattering climax.
They lay side by side without speaking, lost in time, their hearts beating in unison as they slowly came back down to earth. "Wow," Becca finally said.
"You should see me when I'm not full of estrogen," Jan replied.
She rolled over and rested her chin on his chest. "You mean you're taking hormones?"
"Just until the show's over. The doctor told me there would be no lasting effects as long as I gave them up soon."
"And if you don't?"
"Then I guess I'll turn into a girl. At least, I'd be too far gone to be a guy again."
"Doesn't that scare you?"
"Not as long as I pull the ripcord in time. I mean, actors gain and lose tons of weight for roles all the time." For some reason, Jan found himself opening up to her. "And I've got to admit, I'm going to miss this. Don't get me wrong, I like being a guy, and I don't want to spend the rest of my life as a chick."
"Then what do you mean, you'll miss it?"
"I don't know, it's just been fun, that's all. Like being the only person in the world who knows this incredible secret. Well, except for my agent and the network."
"How about your family? Do they know you're doing this?"
"Hell, no! My mom and dad are back in Omaha, and they're having enough trouble with their son being a starving actor."
"No girlfriend. How could I? Ever since we were in rehearsals for 'Sugar', I've had to shave my legs and dress up as a girl half the time, and once my agent convinced me to try out for 'The Bachelor', it's been full time."
"I still don't understand why you're doing all this."
"My career was going nowhere. I'm just an average-looking guy, fighting for bit parts. With the exposure I'll get from 'The Bachelor', I may be able to break out of the pack."
"Won't this sort of type-cast you as, well, you know, a fairy?"
"Did you ever hear of a show called 'Bosom Buddies'?
"It was on TV back in the eighties. A weekly sitcom. Guess who played a guy who has to dress up as a girl and live in a woman's boarding house?"
"Tom Hanks. And it sure as hell didn't hurt his career."
Becca patted his hairless legs. "That still doesn't explain one thing."
"How did you get so good at this? Honest to God, until your little slip-up today, I never would have guessed you were a guy. And none of the other girls has a clue. They all think poor Charlene was the one."
"I guess I'm really a good actor."
"I'll say." She stroked his penis back to life, and they went at it once again. If anything, the hormones made him a better lover, slowing him down so that their bodies were in perfect synch. When they finally came, it was simultaneous once again, and this time Jan had to hush Becca as she cried out in ecstasy.
* * *
Taping for the rose ceremony was scheduled for nine o'clock, and the girls were up early preparing themselves for the big moment. For half of them, the morning would end with a long ride back to the Girls' House to clear out their belongings and return to oblivion. For the lucky survivors, there would be a romantic dinner with Jason, beginning that evening and spread out over the next six days.
Jan tried to put his incredible night with Becca out of his head as he finished dressing. He had selected the outfit he had first worn the day he surprised Andrea Messenger at the Polo Lounge: a white mock turtleneck sweater and a short black pleated skirt, accessorized by a wide black Gucci belt and a colorful Hermes scarf. As he tugged on a pair of sheer black stockings, he wondered what Becca must be thinking as she went through the identical motions back in her room. Getting all dressed up, so full of hope, knowing full well that there was a fifty-fifty chance she would be crying her eyes out before the morning was over. For Jan, the show had started out as little more than an audacious prank, but something about this experience was drawing him closer and closer to the way women thought, felt and acted.
"Snap out of it, girl!" he said to his reflection as he appraised the finished product in the full-length mirror. Once again, Jan Peterson was devastating. Jan stepped into a pair of black pumps with gold trim, dropped a lipstick and compact into his black leather purse, and headed off to join the other girls in the dining room. Most of them had already finished breakfast, and Jan had a quick cup of coffee as they started to file out to the waiting caravan of limousines. Becca was nowhere to be seen, and Jan assumed that she had already gone outside.
He was right. When he got into the last car with Gloria and a beautiful Eurasian girl named Cat, who had the other bedroom in Becca's townhouse, the atmosphere was so thick you could cut it with a knife. There was none of the banter from yesterday's ride to the ballpark. Today was deadly serious, and each of the girls was focused on her own chances as they rode in silence to a seaside mansion in Palos Verdes which had been commandeered as Jason's bachelor pad for the duration of the show.
They were assembled in a semi-circle at the foot of a wide spiral staircase, and when Jason descended to greet them, some of the girls were visibly trembling. Becca was the first girl to get a rose. Gloria shrieked when she was selected. Finally it came down to the last rose, and when Jason handed it to Jan, one of the also-rans actually fainted.
They were ushered back into the limos as soon as taping wrapped, and each of the remaining contestants was given a schedule of the activities for the remainder of the show. Jan studied it carefully during the ride back to the Girls' House, while Gloria ran on like a chatterbox and Cat stared morosely out the window.
There was a lot of down time coming up. Jan's dinner with Jason was scheduled for the following evening, which was good: a day to get ready, but then it would be over with. Each girl was entitled to a shopping spree on Rodeo Drive and a makeover at a Beverly Hills salon before her big date with Jason, and Jan's was scheduled for the following morning. After the last dinner date, another rose ceremony, narrowing the field to three girls. Then an overnight getaway with Jason for each of the three, to someplace close to Los Angeles that they would get to select. Another rose ceremony, and the two girls left standing would be expected to bring Jason home to meet Mom and Dad. When Jan read this, he nearly gagged.
The surviving girls kept to themselves for the rest of that day. Alone in his townhouse, Jan put on shorts and a tee shirt and began to plot out his moves for the remainder of the contest. He had two major problems, assuming he survived a romantic dinner with another man: where to go on his getaway with Jason, and how to manufacture a family to meet with his prospective fiancé.
At four o'clock, no closer to an answer to either problem, Jan changed into a sports bra and jogging shorts and laced up his sneakers for a long run. A combination of reduced calorie intake and an aggressive exercise program had enabled him to get down to his ideal weight for a woman, and he was determined to take off another pound before his big dinner with Jason so he could enjoy the meal. There you go again, thinking just like a girl, he said to himself as he went outside and bumped smack into Becca. "Hey," he said.
Becca was just returning from a swim, and her long brown hair was slicked straight back. Without makeup, her chiseled nose and high cheekbones gave her face a purity that Jan regarded with a twinge of envy. She asked him to walk along with her, and when they got to her townhouse, she pulled him inside and closed the door. Neither spoke as they tore off each other's clothes and tumbled into bed, making sweet love again and again until it was almost time for dinner.
"So much for my jog," Jan sighed as he strapped on his bra.
"You got a good workout," Becca giggled. "When's your big date?"
"Do you think you can pull it off?"
"I don't see how I can."
"Let me give you a little tip. From a girl who's been on a few more dates with guys than you have. Take the initiative by asking him questions that make him do most of the talking."
"So he can't ask me any questions about myself? Good idea."
"Well, that's part of it, although you're a good little liar and you can probably get away with whatever you dream up. But there's another reason. By making him talk about himself, you'll make him feel important and wanted. Guys like that. And they like girls who make them feel that way."
"Becca, I'm not trying to get Jason to fall for me."
"Sweetheart, that is exactly what you are trying to do! In fact, that's the only reason you've gotten this far. Look at the way you dressed up this morning, making the rest of us look like hags. Don't tell me you're not in this thing to win."
"Sure, I want to win, but I don't want him to fall in love with me. I'm a guy, remember?"
"Oh, I remember. But you remember this: the only way you get to win this thing is to make him fall in love with you."
"I don't want to hurt him."
"Then don't let him fall in love with you."
"You know what? I think you're jealous."
"You're damn right I'm jealous. Every woman in America is going to be jealous of you when they find out that you're really a guy. God help you if you win this thing. They'll probably castrate you on television. Now that would be a good reality show!"
"Just don't tell my agent. If he thought it would get ratings, he'd try to talk me into it."
"All you have to do is take a dive, Sis. Hit the wine as hard as you can and throw up on Jason at dinner tomorrow night."
"You just want to knock me out of the competition."
"You're damn right I do! You scare me more than the real girls."
"Because they're all gonna be nervous as hell, and probably make idiots of themselves. Put them up against a professional actor who looks like you do in a cocktail dress, and they haven't got a chance."
"So what? Each girl I knock out of the competition is one less girl for you to compete with."
"That's what I'm worried about."
"I don't get it."
"What could be more humiliating than to lose this thing to a guy?"
* * *
Jan was up early the following morning for his makeover and shopping excursion. Dressed in a simple shirtdress and flats, he joined the remaining girls for breakfast. Gloria was regaling them about her dinner date with Jason the night before.
"He was so wonderful! We had champagne and caviar, and then some kind of fish soup before the main course. It was delicious! He is so sophisticated," she rambled on, as the other girls hung on every word. All except Becca, who rolled her eyes and sat down next to Jan at an adjoining table.
"One down, five to go," Becca said. "No way Jason's going to want to spend another minute with that airhead."
"You're wicked," Jan said as he munched on his English muffin. "Still think I should blow it tonight?"
"As I matter of fact, I've reconsidered my entire strategy. I'm not afraid of you now, in fact I want you to make it into the final three. Let Jason get the shock of his life when he tries to hit on you during your overnight getaway."
"Where are you going to take him? If you make it into the final three, I mean," Jan asked her.
"Vegas, baby! How about you?"
"It's a big problem."
"Hey, I know, how about San Francisco? You could have a nice dinner on Castro Street, take in a drag show, then lure him back to your hotel after you've softened him up."
"That's real nice, Becca, but you know what? You've just given me an idea on how to solve my other problem."
"What other problem?"
"Taking him home to Mom and Dad."
"Don't worry, sweetheart, you're not gonna get that far."
Jan caught a wave from Andrea Messenger, who was pointing at her watch to signal that it was time to leave for his escapade in Beverly Hills. "I'm off to get beautiful," he told Becca as he picked up his purse. "Don't count me out just yet."
* * *
Three hours later, Jan emerged from a chic salon on Canon Drive, turning heads as he returned to his waiting stretch limousine. His hair was now ash blonde, a few shades lighter than his natural color, his skin was radiant, and his makeup and nails were perfect. Even his pedicured feet looked feminine. He had gently but firmly refused a massage, claiming doctor's orders because of chronic back soreness, and if the salon staff guessed his true identity, they kept it to themselves.
He was almost embarrassed to walk into Rodeo Drive's trendiest boutique in his drab shirtdress, but the manager greeted him at the door, and the ubiquitous camera crew from the network was there to capture his search for the dress that might win Jason's heart. Jan gushed over each of the manager's suggestions, finally settling on a slinky blue number with spaghetti straps and a long slit up one side. He had never worn a long dress before, and he wasn't even sure he'd know how to walk or sit down in it, but it was so beautiful, he had to try it on. Unbuttoning his shirtdress in the dressing room, he stepped into his selection and pulled it up, marveling at how the expensive fabric clung to his body like a second skin. As soon as he saw himself in it, he knew that he had just taken the competition up to a whole new level.
The rest of the afternoon was consumed with finding the perfect pair of strappy heels and a matching clutch purse, a strapless push-up bra, and complementary lingerie to complete his outfit. After a visit to a famous jewelry store which had made arrangements with the network to loan each of the girls an assortment of diamond jewelry, his final acquisition was an expensive French perfume. When he returned to the Girls' House late in the afternoon, he went straight to his room and tried to take a nap, tossing and turning in anticipation of the night to come. After he finally drifted off, he dreamed that he was a girl getting ready for her first date, fussing over what to wear and how to fix her hair.
* * *
Bootlegged videos of the episode of "The Bachelor" featuring Jan's dinner date with Jason have become the hottest links on YouTube, continuing to rise in popularity with each attempt by the network to squelch them for copyright infringement. From the standpoint of sheer acting ability, nothing seen on television over the last decade can come close to Jan's performance that night.
The tape begins with the valet of an exclusive Beverly Hills restaurant opening the door to Jan's stretch limousine, and a lovely leg emerging through the slit in his dress as he gracefully alights from the vehicle. A kiss on the cheek from the waiting Jason, who squires him into the restaurant, Jan's arm through his as the couple is escorted to a quiet booth. The surrounding tables were cleared out to make room for the film crews, allowing for three different camera angles as Jason and Jan got to know each other for the first time.
Following Becca's suggestion, Jan tried to steer the conversation to Jason: his boyhood, his interests, his past loves, his career. Jan deftly deflected all questions about his girlhood and past boyfriends, always coming back to Jason and his hopes and aspirations. The more Jason talked about himself, the more he seemed to be fascinated by his date.
At one point, he asked Jan point blank about his family. "My dad died in a car crash when I was a little girl, and I was raised by my mom," Jan replied sadly, and Jason quickly turned the conversation towards happier things. All he was able to pry out of his date about her mythical life was that she was a part-time actress and model in Los Angeles, who lived alone and had remained close to her mother. The television audience was falling in love with her along with Jason.
Jan limited himself to two glasses of wine, keeping his wits about him as the evening drew to a close. While they lingered over cappuccinos, he felt Jason's hand slide against his thigh, safely encased in his long dress. Out of sight of the cameras, he moved his hand under the booth and held it over Jason's, sliding it up a few inches before he squeezed it. The hidden gesture was enough for Jason, who raised Jan's hand and kissed it as America swooned.
When it was finally time to go, Jason escorted Jan to his waiting limousine, and awkwardly kissed him on the cheek. Suddenly Jan stood on his tiptoes and gave Jason a soft kiss, smack on the lips. He brushed Jason's nose with a manicured finger and said, "Thanks for a great time. Whoever you select is one lucky girl." Jason stood and stared as Jan got back into his limousine and was driven away.
As soon as he was alone in the limousine, Jan began to shake uncontrollably. It was a catharsis after almost three hours of unrelenting pressure, and he rummaged through the liquor cabinet and poured himself a straight bourbon. Ignoring the stares from the driver in the rear-view mirror, he sipped it gratefully on the way back to the Girls' House, although he took the precaution of opening the window and tossing his empty glass out into some bushes before they pulled up the driveway. Several of the girls were waiting up for him when he walked into the clubhouse, but he ignored them and went straight to his room.
He was kicking off his heels when he heard someone behind him. Startled, he turned around to find Becca lounging on his bed, naked under the covers. "Have fun tonight, Missy?"
"Now that it's over, yes, I think I did."
"Hmmm...I think you're starting to like this."
"I guess I thrive on competition."
"Not that, I mean the girl stuff. Look at yourself. Don't you think it's a little scary?"
"It's only a game, remember?"
"And you honestly think you're gonna be able to give all this up when it's over?"
"Sure. I told you already, I never wanted to become a woman."
"Maybe not, but will you be able to give up being a girl?"
He looked at her cross-eyed as he peeled off his dress. "What do you mean?"
"Jan, you've been given a glimpse of something that half the population never sees. In fact, more than half, because most girls don't look anywhere near as good as you do."
"What are you talking about?"
"What I'm talking about is this: there is nothing in this world more fun than being a pretty girl. And you love it. Every little thing you do screams 'I love being a girl'. If you can't see that, you're not only fooling Jason and a national television audience, you're fooling yourself as well."
He sat down next to her on the bed and stroked her long brown hair. "Okay, I'll admit it. I'm digging this, way more than I should. But this is like a total fantasy existence. When it's over, I don't want to spend the rest of my life like this."
"I know that. Who'd want all the baggage that comes along with being a woman? Right now, you've got the best of both worlds."
"And you're the best part of it."
They kissed, and she teased him about his breath. "Was Jason trying to get you drunk? You taste like whisky."
"I poured myself a long one in the car on the way back."
"How very unladylike."
"I'll show you unladylike." He wrestled her down, and she pulled off his bra and panties. When she removed his gaffe, his penis sprang to attention, and she rolled over on top of him and straddled him, humping him like he was the girl. Once again, they came together, over and over, only this time they stayed in bed and talked all night.