Chapter 15

Despite her good spirits, Natalie fretted about the quality of her photography at the Beaux Artes Ball. A new spot meter helped remove some of the uncertainty about exposures. Still, she kept rechecking the settings on her camera, concerned she might be using the wrong shutter speeds or f-stops. Also, the flash seemed to take forever to charge — why hadn’t she remembered to take extra batteries?

Natalie suddenly remembered she’d promised to take table shots of Society members for the club newsletter. This wasn’t a job she looked forward to — there were too many TVs and their friends and it would be difficult to attract their attention. Still, she diligently set out to do just that.

When she started by photographing her own table she was happy to see that Jeanette, while retaining a certain reserve, was talking to nearby TVs. At the next table, Natalie didn’t particularly notice a person in a black tux who smiled obligingly along with the others when the black-velveted photographer’s flash went off.



Natalie, her clothes in temporary disarray, sat in a cubicle in the women’s restroom. She had finally given in to nature’s call, put off for an hour.

When coming in, she’d passed some curvaceous young women in the powder room dressed in tight cat costumes. Seeming to like the idea of men dressed as woman, one had flirtatiously suggested she might accompany Natalie into a cubicle. Her fiends had giggled and Natalie had smiled her best “I’m flattered” smile.

After getting herself rigged up again, and feeling pain from having her chest taped up so long, Natalie admired herself in the mirror next to the cat-women before sailing out again into the swirl. She dodged the glare of television lights and a reporter interviewing Mayor Moscone.

As Natalie walked back to her table, tipsily talking to herself, she rounded a large mirrored column and almost bumped into a tall person in a black tuxedo who said “Hi” in a decidedly female voice. Screeching to a halt, expecting to see someone she knew, Natalie saw a woman with brown eyes and hair pulled back masculinely into a bun. A large black bow tie, red carnation, white gloves and silver cuff links completed the effect.

“We haven’t been introduced,” said the woman pleasantly. “I think you photographed our table?”

Natalie was preoccupied with the woman’s face. There was a certain comeliness and reserved humor there. It was the face of a woman who’d been in the outdoors, a face touched by the wind and sun, yet one that didn’t tan easily. An English face.

Natalie suspected that the person wanted a print of her group photo. “Yes, that would’ve been me. I’m playing society photographer tonight.”

“You look like a person I’d like to know. I haven’t seen you at any Diana Society parties before.” The woman’s directness was disconcerting.

“I’m a recent, ah, member, should I say? But then I’ve been to meetings lately and haven’t seen you.” Something made Natalie want to reach out and touch the woman’s earlobe and its tiny jeweled earring.

“I just go to the splashy things a few times a year with my friends from Palo Alto. But you, what is your name? … Natalie. Perfect. You’ve made yourself into quite a beautiful woman. Do you know how sexy you look?”

“No. I mean, thank you. I do feel nice tonight. A little wine, liberated people, neat things to take pictures of.” Natalie began telling the story of how she’d found her dress, then remembered she didn’t know the first thing about this woman.

“Patricia. Call me Pat.”

“A nice unisexual name.”

“Thank you.”

“I’m admiring your outfit. Very spiffy. Very polished. Believe it or not, I’ve never worn a tux.”

“Well, you should sometime.”

Natalie was embarrassingly out of words. This sort of thing hadn’t been in the script. Besides, maybe this woman was just toying with her — what if she found out how dull the David part of her was?

“Do you dance?” asked Pat.

Natalie allowed Pat to take her arm as they walked out to the dance floor. They lucked into a slow tune and the two held each other closely. Natalie inhaled the beguiling scent of Pat’s perfume. She half expected to feel the hardness of a man’s body but instead felt the muted softness of breasts. Her hands detected the swelling of hips. She knew that if they danced this closely all evening and didn’t go further, she would be a very frustrated girl-boy.

They danced the better part of an hour. Natalie mentioned that she thought she was a real-life Cinderella and that everyone must be looking at them. Then, her lips touching a soft wisp of Pat’s hair, she dared whisper that “A certain part of me wishes it could get free.”

“Could it be that you are interested in me?” Pat asked softly in Natalie’s ear.

“That’s an understatement.”

“We-l-l-l-l, we could go upstairs — before you turn back into a pumpkin.” Patricia let it be known that she and several of her Diana Society friends had rented a suite in the hotel for the evening.

“That’s lovely. But what do you propose to do if we go there? I mean, we’ve just met. Surely you don’t expect — ”

“Oh, hell, just come on up for a few drinks. Hey, you can trust me! I wouldn’t do anything you wouldn’t.” Pat deepened her voice.

“OK, then. But we can’t get my dress mussed,” Natalie insisted as they left the dance floor.

Natalie walked quickly over to Jeanette, realizing with a start that she’d completely forgotten about her photo gear. That rarely if ever happened. Jeanette was sitting alone at the table looking sleepy.

“Jeanette! I’m sorry I’ve left you alone for so long. I really am. What’s happened is that I’ve met someone and I suspect that we’ll spend the night here in the hotel.”

Jeanette smiled sweetly. “I saw you dancing. You looked really nice together.”

Natalie had hoped that Jeanette would be jealous. “Jeanette Butterfly,” Natalie said, bending over so as to brush her roommate’s shoulder with her hair, “can you drive home by yourself and take the camera stuff too?”

“Of course. Have a good time,” winked Jeanette.

Just then Pat joined them and was properly introduced. Next to Jeanette, Pat seemed so much more grown-up and mature. As they left, Natalie glanced back and saw Jeanette casting a confused look at them.

Gleaming escalators carried the hand-holding couple up into the hotel’s main lobby. After the revelry in the ballroom, the mostly straight world above was like moving from Jamaica to Billings. Natalie felt tourists’ glances, though the confidence emanating from Patricia helped. The two entered a glassed-in elevator along with an inebriated, over-the-hill straight couple who seemed to know what was happening.

“We must look OK,” Natalie said after they stepped out on the proper floor. They paused to look down into the spacious courtyard with its massive globe floating on a pool of water. Trees held cages of doves whose faint coos melted into the air. Nearby, bored hotel guests lounged, waiting for unforeseen events to occur in their lives.

For the first time since leaving the protective atmosphere of the ball, Natalie relaxed. Part of her enjoyed the tightness of her garments and the security of being confined. She liked the perfume in her hair. Another part of her felt just a little silly, as though she was a little boy again in a grade school play. What I’d like most now is some sex, just some nice warm cozy sex.

Patricia’s suite consisted of two rooms. After mixing drinks in the first, they proceeded into the softly-lit second room and locked the door. Pat opened a window and let some cool night air in while David-as-Natalie came over and peered out at the lights of the city. The sounds he heard and the complexity of buildings and traffic made him think the entire city was pulsing with energy from the ball.

Pat lay on one of the beds quietly looking at David. She called for him in a soft way, the way a mother night call for a child at bedtime.

David turned from his reverie, realizing guiltily that he’d lost some steam. At first, Pat’s newness and exoticness had overwhelmed him — their first touches seemed nearly as potent as orgasms. Now David felt more like burying his head in the breasts she had exposed. He lay down next to her and gave in to her desire to play.

They held each other tightly. In David’s stomach was a sugar-water and vinegar mixture of dread and excitement. Pat’s kiss seemed too soft, too mushy.

Pat pulled up David’s dress and ran her hand up his thighs to the center of his tight padded girdle. David stood up, self-consciously pulled off the girdle and exposed his cock, which had been buried for too long. Then David looked at Pat’s breasts under her suspenders and his prick came to life, a snake-puppy in folds of velvet.

Pat’s female shape emerging from her male clothing disappointed David somewhat. He preferred a slender, more male-like body with smaller breasts. Her hips were too wide. But Pat seemed experienced and responsive. Her hands knew where to touch. When poised over her, he looked down at his own breasts and nyloned legs and felt his long hair falling past his face and onto hers. He was glowing.