I made myself at home in Jean-Michel’s condo. I walked around and looked at the pictures that were hung on the wall, randomly looked in the other rooms, and glanced in the fridge to see what kind of foods Ashlyn ate. It was more than being nosey—I was just making sure the mental picture I had of Ashlyn fit the reality. I didn’t find anything shocking; so I took a long hot bath and then put on the red dress that I had brought. It highlighted all my curves. I was just finishing up hair and makeup when I hear Ashlyn returning. I glanced at the mirror, I looked good.
I step out of the bathroom. Ashlyn see me and shakes her head in disbelief. “That’s my favorite dress; you look really good in it.”
“Thanks. Ready for dinner? I’m starved.” I ask.
Let me shave and put on something more dinner appropriate. It will take me fifteen minutes tops.”
Wow, fifteen minutes to get ready—I remember those days.
We leave the condo and on the way to the elevator Ashlyn keeps looking over at me and shaking her head.
“What?” I ask in the elevator.
“This is so unreal. No offense, but for someone who was a guy not too long ago, you sure got the sexy girl thing down.”
“No offense taken. I’ve been trying to make the most out of this experience. It’s kind of fun to vamp it up a little, be the center of attention.”
Ashlyn was quiet for a moment. “Be careful, after a while all that attention can really wear you down.” She sounded a little bitter.
“How did you know I brought the red dress?” I asked.
“Because I would have brought it. It looks really good on me…you.”
In the car we went back into character. “So handsome, where are you taking me to dinner?” I ask.
“We have a reservation at Les Halles.” Ashlyn spoke in a French accent.
“A fancy French restaurant?” I ask.
“Oh yes, it is the most pretentious restaurant in town—but the food is amazing.”
We gave the car to a valet, checked our coats and we were immediately taken to our table.
“So are able to talk freely here?” I ask.
“Yes. Just be careful what you say in the car, in the condo or on the phone. Email is dangerous as well.” He says seriously.
“So, who is watching you so close? “ I ask.
Ashlyn sighs. “Who isn’t? There is a lot of mistrust in line of work. The problem is even worse because Marie—Liz—is the mistress of André Trudeau who is my boss. He thinks Liz and I might be cheating on him. The man was already paranoid because the Canadian government has been heavily pursuing organized crime the last few months. I have been under surveillance from the people I work with, and other organized crime families, as well as the Canadian government, local police and reporters.”
“Wow, that’s rough. How do you handle it?” I ask.
“How do you handle being a woman? I’m guessing the answer is the same: because you don’t have a choice.”
“Yes, but at least being a woman isn’t dangerous.” I say.
“Really? I guess you haven’t walked home from the Lechmere station by yourself late at night. Or has the thought that you could be raped not crossed your mind yet?” She asked bluntly.
The conversation was making me uncomfortable, and I squirmed in my seat.
“Sorry. I don’t mean to upset you.” She sighs. “You seem like a good person Jake. A trusting person. From what little time I have spent with you I get the impression that you’re treating being a woman as some sort of adventure—you need to be careful. I lived the life your living for 23 years, there are people out there who will hurt you.”
“You are right; I hadn’t thought much about rape. I should be more careful.” I admit.
“Women, especially attractive women, grow up with that fear always in the back off their minds.” She says.
“Let’s not talk about rape.” Ashlyn pauses as the waiter brings us our wine. As soon as the waiter walks away she pipes up again. “So how is being me?”
“It’s been interesting and very educational so far. I was just an average looking guy before, so it’s kind of fun to be so attractive.” I say.
“You don’t get tired of the constant attention? Some guy giving you a line and asking for your number every five minutes?”
“Not yet, but I could see where that could get old after a while. I don’t think I go out clubbing as much as you did—I’ve been working a lot, so I probably don’t get hit on as much as you did.” I tell her about my job at the lounge.
“You are going to ruin my lazy reputation.” She jokes.
“Yeah, what’s with that? I know you are an intelligent person--when I took over your life there wasn’t much going on.”
The question came out much harsher than I intended—I could tell I hit some kind of nerve.
“Tell me ASHLYN,” she stressed the name, “It’s your life now. What do you plan to do with it? Being a sexy red head with big boobs opens a lot of doors, and closes a lot of others. You want to know what happened to me? I got tired of fighting everyone’s perception of who I should be. People expected me to be lazy, vain and to live off of other people—so that’s what I did.”
She glared at me though Jean-Michel’s dark eyes.
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to be judgmental. I didn’t exactly have the perfect life before turning into you either. I was a work-a-holic. No family, and I hardly spent anytime with friends. I always had a secret fear that the only thing they would put on my tombstone was: HE WAS A HARD WORKER.”
“We were kind of opposites.” She comments. “I was all about having a good time, you were all about work.” She seemed much less upset.
“Yeah. I guess so.”
“So how do you like sex from the other side?” Her question caught me off guard. I think I blushed. I had basically asked Art the same question a few weeks ago—but Art and I are friends and I can get away with that kind of stuff with him.
“Um, I really wouldn’t know.” I said quietly.
“You’re shitting me. You haven’t tried out sex yet? Aren’t you curious? I couldn’t wait to try it. You men are so uptight about sex.” She grinned.
“Well…I did find your vibrator.” I admitted.
“Oh?” She leaned forward, interested. “What did you think?”
“I bought a big box of batteries the next day.” We both laughed.
Dinner came and the food was as advertised. We talked and shared a bottle of wine. It was nice to be able to talk to someone about what I had been through other than Art. Art is a good friend, but it’s nice to get a different perspective.
I waited until dessert before I broke the news that there might be a way to get everyone back into their old bodies.
Ashlyn didn’t take the news quite like I expected. She kind of turned away from me and looked like she was staring at something in the distance.
“That’s fantastic news for Liz. We’ve got to get her away from that sick bastard André. “
Her reaction struck me funny. “What about you? You’ve got to be anxious to get back to this body. This is an excellent body.” I jokingly pointed to myself.
“Do we have to go back if we don’t want to? Would it screw up the magic?” She asked.
“No…I don’t think so.” I answered surprised.
“Then I’m staying as Jean-Michel. The body, the life is yours Jake. I like you, I hope you keep it. It would be nice that someone I liked got it.” She was serious.
I intend to get my old life back, but I didn’t say so. It would be like refusing a precious gift, and I didn’t want to insult Ashlyn.
We didn’t say much after that. I could tell Ashlyn—no, I guess that is Jean-Michel now—needed to be alone with his thoughts.
He paid the bill and we headed out.
As we waited for the Valet he turned to me. “About our sleeping arrangements, in case someone is listening we need to start in the same bed, I’ll quietly sneak off to the couch a few minutes later.”
When we got back to his place he put on a Nora Jones cd and it played through the entire condo. Jean-Michel gets up close to me and whispers. “The music should give us some privacy if we talk softly. Let’s go to the bedroom, make a little noise, and get into bed.”
Since Jean-Michel only thought people were listening and not watching, I didn’t bother to put anything sexy on. I washed off my makeup, put my hair in a pony tail, and slipped on my pink t-shirt with “Pornstar” written across the front. I guess the t-shirt was a little sexy.
I step into the bedroom speaking loudly enough to be heard over the music. “Hey baby, you like this? It’s just a little something I picked up from Victoria Secret.”
He grinned. “I like it very much. But I think I’ll enjoy taking it off of you even more.”
We crawl into bed.
We lied there awkwardly, space between us.
“Oh baby, that feels soooo good.” I announce for the benefit of anyone listing in.
Jean-Michel starts to laugh, and covers his face with a pillow so as to not be heard.
Ten minutes later Jean-Michel rolls over and kisses me. This kiss was nice. Real nice.
“Good night.” He whispers to me and he slips quietly out of the bed.
NEW YEARS EVE
The next morning I woke up alone with the smell of coffee wafting through the condo. Like a moth to a flame, I made my way to the kitchen, in search of what smelled so good.
Jean-Michel hands me a coffee.
“I know just the way you like it.” He says to me.
He was right. The coffee was amazing.
He made us a breakfast of scrambled eggs and croissants; it was simple but tasty.
“I have to step out again on a business matter.” He says to me. “It might take a while. Will you be okay until this evening?”
I stuck out my lower lip and pretended to pout. “But what will I do all day without you?”
He rolls his eyes.
Jean-Michel must be a morning person. I was moving at warp one while he was moving at warp 10. He was dressed and nearly out the door before I was halfway through my coffee.
“Bye!” He was charging for the door.
“Wait!” He stops and turns, I march up to him, and standing on tippy-toes, I reach up and kiss him goodbye.
“Goodbye. Have a good day at work.” I think I surprised him. I surprised myself too.
I swear I'll finish this recap in the next post. Sorry I've been hogging the blog Art.