One Last First
I mentioned having my last first date. That life was full of firsts and just as many lasts. The day Linda had released nuclear Armageddon on my life was the last day I ever saw her. Following our divorce, the day we’d both stood in front of a judge with our lawyers by our side should have been the last day I had laid eyes upon her, but life has a way of intermingling surprises between its firsts and lasts. She had come marching into my office with vicious animosity and had set my life on fire, before marching out the door just as fast never to be seen again.
Arriving home that night I waited for Peyton, texting her brief snippets of my day. At that point, feeling defeated, ashamed, angry, scared, frustrated and who knows what else had left me longing for something positive, something that I could grasp onto for support and comfort and that something was a someone. Peyton. Since the day I’d met her she had been there for me. She pushed me into going to work dressed as a woman, but I wasn’t just any woman, I was her woman and that possessiveness made it something far grander.
She came rushing into my house and raced into my arms. I hugged her, clutching her like a drowning man grasps a life raft. My hands dug into her sides and I felt the tears on my cheek moisten the shoulder of her scrubs. “It’ll be okay, Sweetness,” she cooed and just hearing her say her pet name in that kind tone she had seemed to overpower the angry way that Linda had said it hours earlier. How could one word, spoken by two different women, have such differing meaning? “Tell me what happened.” Her voice was soft and sweet and full of warmth, compassion, tenderness and concern all at once.
I replayed the day, leaving nothing out. Why should I? At that point I had no secrets from Peyton. None at all. I paused long enough to ponder that. Linda had known about my panties but not that there were times that I thought of wearing more. I had kept secrets from Linda and never once had I thought of hiding anything from Peyton. There was something to that. Something powerful, like I knew before I really knew that Peyton and I were destined for the long term. That I’d grow old with her and she with me.
I told her about Jack and the disgusted look on his face as he stormed out shouting, “I quit!” I told her about Linda coming in and assaulting me with her phone, taking damning picture after damning picture and sending them to my parents, my sisters, my clients. I told her about Linda posting the pictures on her Facebook page and linking the photos to my LinkedIn account. “Before I left today not a single person who knows me was kept out of Linda’s damned loop.”
Peyton held me, cooing into my wig.
I let her hold me taking the comfort she was offering. I felt the stress of the day diminish; it would take months before it faded fully, but before we stopped for dinner, I was feeling better and the looks Peyton gave me told me that I had not weakened her at all. That old saying came to mind, something about a problem shared was a problem halved, but seeing how Peyton helped me without showing so much as a nick in her armor told me that maybe the math was a little more lopsided. A problem shared was a problem resolved seemed more accurate.
I told her about the customers I lost, first to Jack and then to prejudice. She took it all in, comforting me with a word or a touch or a smile or a kiss. “It’ll be okay,” she said as we washed the dinner dishes. “You’ll bounce back from this, easy-peasy.”
“How do you know?”
“Because I know you, Sweetness. I know the man you are no matter what you’re wearing. I know the compassion you share for your staff; I know the resolve you possess. I know you and you’ll get through this and come out even better.”
I wanted to doubt her but there was a conviction in her tone that gave me pause. I had built my business from nothing and it had made me wealthy. I enjoyed what I did, and I was good at it. Maybe Peyton was right. So what if I had to build anew. The staff that remained were loyal and good and my reputation was solid. The customers that left were closed-minded and maybe it would be good to branch out in a new, forward-thinking way. It’s not like I had a choice. You can’t change the past, but you could look to the future.
Over the next nine weeks my business solidified. The idea I had had after the mass exodus had been simple. I advertised myself. I poured a bit of money back into the company and ran a few print ads coming out as Louise. It seemed to work. I gained two new clients and hired a new salesman. Her name was Meredith and she had just left one of the big companies in New York. You know the kind, the ones who make commercials for the Super Bowl. She had just transferred to the area and needed a job and my outfit was the only one she wanted. She chose me because of the way I dressed. “My wife is going to love you, Louise,” she said following her interview. I couldn’t want to meet her.
After hiring Meredith my business grew again. Six weeks after hiring Meredith I was back to needing to expand my staff again. Meredith helped with that, too, brining in clients from her old big-city business. It turned out Peyton had been right. Rebounding had been easy-peasy. Mostly. At the onset I had lost a bit of sleep but that had now passed, and the future looked bright.
I had thought going to work as a woman would be the biggest of firsts. It wasn’t. It was the second biggest.
With my business back to a new, better normal and my staff no longer phased by how I dressed, and my personal life damned near perfect, I had a revelation. I was sitting in my office, working on a new proposal for a new print ad for deodorant when it hit me. My mind had wandered to where it always did when I was working on autopilot: Peyton. What had started out with a deliciously wicked introduction had blossomed into the best relationship of my life. Peyton, more than anything else, was the most important thing in my life. If my business hadn’t recovered, I know I would have been okay because Peyton was with me.
Casting aside thoughts of deodorant I picked up the phone.
After work I drove to Peyton’s house. She was still in her scrubs. I was wearing a cream-colored blouse with a dark maroon skirt. Two strands of pearls encircled my neck and matching earrings adorned my lobes. I no longer wore a wig. My own hair had grown out long enough that I now had bimonthly appointments to get it coiffed and styled. Next week I was going to add some auburn highlights because Peyton had seen the color in a magazine and decided it would look good on me. And since she was still in charge, and always would be, my hair would be changed to suit her mood. I was her Barbie doll and I was okay with that. “Go change,” I said, “we’re going out.”
Peyton went to change. She came out of the bedroom in a simple floral dress that ended just above the knee. She was wearing two-inch heels. It was another one of the rules she had put in place. Not only was my cock still trapped in its prison, but now it was mandated that whenever we went out my heels had to be higher than hers. She got a thrill out of that and to tell the truth, so did I. In fact, my lowest heel was still taller than Peyton’s highest.
I drove to the restaurant where I’d called ahead for a reservation. It wasn’t exactly a five-star restaurant, but it was clean with good food. It was same restaurant where Peyton and I had had our first date. She sat opposite me, the little candle on the table sending soft shadows across her lovely face. Brian didn’t wait on us this time; we had a waitress named Kathryn. She was every bit as attentive as Brian had been so many months ago, but I didn’t really notice. Peyton smiled at me, “what’s on your mind, Sweetness. You’re acting strange.”
She nodded but kept smiling, “yep!”
I licked my lips, tasting my lipstick. I smiled back at her. I reached out and took her hands. “I was thinking about you today.”
She let out a little laugh. I felt her foot slide up my leg. I knew what she was thinking, “I bet you were. I wonder if our panties match?” Her fingers tickled my wrist
I let her foot toy with my leg. “I was. I think about you a lot to be honest.”
She beamed but said nothing.
One last first came spilling from my painted lips. “I love you.” It had finally dawned on me at work, working on a new advertisement for a woman’s deodorant, that my feelings for Peyton weren’t imagined, but real and they surpassed anything I’d ever felt for Linda. I know that wasn’t fair to my ex-wife, but it was honest and sitting in that booth, I was feeling true, honest emotions. I had been for a while. Except for our daughters, it was the last time I told someone I loved them for the first time.
Peyton didn’t hesitate. She smiled and said, “I love you, too.”