Joseph Hart had just arrived at the luggage pickup area of the Port Orion airport. It wasn't that late, but he always got tired when he traveled by plane. He was anxious to get a rental car, check into his hotel room, and lie down to rest for awhile. He was planning a leisurely dinner and possibly some lounging outside the hotel restaurant that supposedly had an excellent view of the ocean.
He was in Port Orion on business. Tomorrow, he would be meeting the matriarch of the Gillihan Family, Loretta Gillihan. After talking to one of his college professors, Mrs. Gillihan contacted him about the opportunity for him to write the history of the Hope House. The Hope House is a home for girls that have been abandoned or orphaned. It had a long and distinguished history and the Gillihans have always had a big part in its development.
As he was reaching for his bag, he heard a voice behind him, "Mr. Hart?" Even before he turned to acknowledge the salutation, he guessed from the lyrical quality of the sound, the voice would fit a pretty lady. When he turned to greet her, he realized how right he was. Standing in front of him was a gorgeous young woman with a bright smile on her face. He was stunned by her beauty and her smile. In his mind, he was looking at the perfect woman. He kept staring with a goofy smile until he had finally recovered enough to answer when the woman repeated her question.
"Yes ma'am, that's me, Joseph Hart," he stuttered with the tone of a star struck schoolboy.
She giggled at his nervousness and reached out her hand. "Mr. Hart, I'm Laura Gillihan, and I'll be your guide during your visit here if that's okay."
Joseph regrouped as he set down his newly recovered luggage. He was usually not affected by attractive women like that, but she had caught him by surprise. He knew from his quick research of the Gillihans, Laura was the youngest of 5 daughters. After composing himself, he extended his hand and said, "Nice to meet you Ms. Gillihan, my friends call me Joey."
"It's nice to meet you too Joey, please call me Laura. If you have all of your luggage, I'll show you to your car, and we'll get you checked into the hotel."
Joey was a bit confused but smiled when he said, "I didn't think I would be met by anyone until tomorrow at the house, but I'm glad you're here. So what exactly is the guide's responsibility in this adventure?"
As they walked towards the airport exit, she smiled and said, "My duties are to get you settled in and comfortable so that tomorrow you can be alert and ready when you talk to my mother. If everything goes well while you are here, I will be your guide around the area and answer any questions you may have. We hadn't planned to greet you at the airport, but I take my duties quite seriously."
While driving to the hotel, Joey thought about how lucky he was to be offered this opportunity. A twenty-two year old recent college graduate who was confident but shy, he had still never "been" with a girl other than a polite kiss or some hand holding during an evening date. He also felt quite fortunate that he had been assigned such a beautiful guide. He knew that his writing professor at college had taken a liking to him and mentored him throughout his creative writing degree. When Loretta Gillihan had contacted her friend and his professor, Dr. Elizabeth Knight, she was told that she was looking for a fresh face that knew nothing about the girl's home. She wanted to avoid any bias and wanted a fair perspective of the Hope House. Joey suspected that his parentless upbringing had something to do with it too. Dr. Knight had called Mrs. Gillihan and recommended Joey and tomorrow's appointment was set.
With Joey driving towards the hotel, Laura sat in the passenger side of the nice rental car and pointed out some of the area's landscape. "I love the view of the ocean that Port Orion offers. Our sunsets are spectacular, and I have a favorite spot I just might share with you."
"That does sound nice. I think I'd like that... professionally of course as a writer with his beautiful guide."
Laura smiled as she looked over at him and gave his arm a quick rub. Her touch was only about a second long, but he felt a tingle spreading through his arm all the way down to his toes. She then reached up and stroked his long hair in its ponytail. "I love your hair," she said. "It's a nice long length and so soft."
"I suppose that's my attempt to look like a writer," he answered. "Am I overdoing it?"
"Not at all," she said. "I like it just the way it is. And yes it does give you a writer's look."
When they arrived at the hotel, Joey checked in at the reception desk with Laura at his side. The pretty hotel clerk smiled as she handed Joey a paper to sign and said, "How many nights will you be staying with us Mr. Hart?"
Before he could answer, Laura spoke up and answered for him, "Two nights please." She looked over at Joey's confused face and said, "If all goes well with your meeting tomorrow, you will stay here for the first two nights and then we'll move you into the visitor's villa on the family property. It will be closer to all the research you will need to do for your writing."
After checking out his room and throwing his bag on the bed, Joey looked at Laura with a smirk and asked, "What's next Ms. Gillihan?"
She returned his smirk with a smile, "Enjoy a nice dinner at the hotel restaurant and get a good night's sleep. In the morning grab some breakfast, and I'll pick you up out front at nine. Then we'll go and meet with mother. Dress casually and try not to be too nervous. She is actually quite enthused about your presence here."
"Thanks for all your help Laura. I'm honored to have you as a guide. I'll see you tomorrow at nine."
"Good night Joey, sweet dreams."
After Laura had left, Joey unpacked his bag and went downstairs for an early dinner. When he returned to his room, it was still rather early, and he was no longer very tired. He turned on the in-room television, but his mind was wandering. He found himself nervous but very excited about the upcoming meeting with Mrs. Gillihan and especially excited about being around Laura. Eventually he fell asleep and slept very soundly.
The next morning, Joey was up early and ate a quick breakfast. He sat in the lobby reading the local paper and realized he was half an hour early. He was full of nervous energy and anticipation. A couple minutes before nine, Laura drove up to the lobby entrance, smiled, and waved at Joey through the glass window. She was wearing a light summer dress with her hair gathered up in a ponytail. If anything, Joey thought she looked even more beautiful than last night, and that said a lot.
Laura smiled as Joey slipped into the passenger seat of her small but stylish car. "Good morning Joey, ready for your busy day?"
"I'm kind of nervous, but your presence seems to have a calming effect on me. You look great this morning." He flushed a bit and looked down at his hands because he didn't want her to think of him as a teenage boy with a crush. She had noticed and smiled as she started the drive to the family home. She too was a bit smitten by the attention and personality of her new friend.
As they drove through the gate and through the property, Laura pointed out her four sisters' houses and the land that was reserved for her. The main house was back near the ocean front. They pulled up into a huge parking area in front of a huge house. He knew that the Gillihans were quite wealthy, but he was still star struck by the size and design of the mansion.
"Wow," he said as he got out of the car and looked up at the height of the top floors.
Laura came alongside and put her arm through his to guide him to the front door. "It is quite big, but most of it is quite cozy. I'm sure I'll be able to show you around this afternoon." She smiled at him as they reached the front door and he walked along with his mouth open and his eyes wide with amazement. She said, "Okay, close your mouth and put your eyeballs back in. You'll get used to everything when you're here long enough."
Joey realized what a picture he was and blushed again. "Sorry," he said as he bashfully looked at her smiling face.
"It's okay Joey. It is quite big for anyone who hasn't been here before. Besides, you're cute when you drool in wonder."
Joey quickly put his hand up to his mouth to wipe off his spit and he heard Laura laugh. "I was just kidding, except for the cute part that is." He blushed again.
Once inside, they were met by a young lady who had Laura's features. She walked right up and gave Laura a big hug. "It's been a little while sis. I haven't had much chance to visit for a few days." Stepping back, she looked at Joey and said, "So, who's your boyfriend?"
Laura smiled and replied, "Joey, this is my sister Lenora, she's the oldest of the 5 Gillihan sisters." Grabbing Joey's arm she introduced him to her, "Lenora, this is Joseph Hart. He's here to talk to mother about writing the history of the Hope House. I'm his guide and his girlfriend while he's here."
She smiled and nudged Joey's side as Joey blushed and wondered how much he should take from those comments. He certainly wouldn't mind being her boyfriend, but knew that she was probably just kidding around with her sister.
Lenora offered Joey her hand and said, "Nice to meet you Joseph. I've heard mother talk about that project. She said you come highly recommended."
He took her hand and bowed politely, "It's my pleasure ma'am, please call me Joey."
Lenora glanced at her sister and smiled, "Oooh, polite too. He might be a keeper."
Laura lightly punched Lenora's arm and said with a smile, "You leave him alone girl, he's mine. Do you know where mother is?"
"She's in her office. She told me to tell you to come there if I saw you." As Lenora walked away, she glanced back at Joey and said, "Good luck Joey. Hope to see you around soon."
Laura started to lead Joey to Mrs. Gillihan's office. "Just be yourself and talk to her honestly. You're going to do fine."
He replied nervously and said, "Will you be in the interview with us Laura?"
"I think so, but you never know with mother. She may want to talk to you alone or she may want to talk to both of us since I will be showing you around."
They walked down the hallway and passed by several doors until they reached an elegant wooden double door. Laura immediately knocked, and they were greeted by a strong female voice. "Come in Laura!" When they entered her office, she had already started to cross the room towards them. She walked straight over to Laura and gave her a hug and then backed up a couple of steps and offered Joey her hand. "It's very nice to finally meet you Joseph. Elizabeth thinks the world of you and said you were her best student ever. I hope your trip here went well."
"Thank you ma'am, it's very nice to meet you too. Dr. Knight tells me that you are her best friend, and she couldn't stop praising you when we were talking about the project."
"Elizabeth is a sweetie. She's been a great friend for a very long time. How much did she tell you about the project?"
Joey was getting more and more comfortable in Mrs. Gillihan's company. She was very pleasant to talk to and Laura's presence was reassuring. "Actually, not much at all ma'am. I know that you want to document the history of the "Hope House for Girls". She did say that it has been a special institution with your family for a very long time."
"I tell you what Joseph, let's go and take a look at the Home and we can talk about the project while we are out. I have a car and driver ready out front. What do you think Laura, is that a good idea?"
Laura knew that her mother wasn't really asking her opinion, but she was pleased that she was included in the conversation. "I think that would be a perfect idea mother. Joey can get an idea of how the Home is setup, and I can show him the best view of the sunset in the area."
The drive to the Hope House was quick, but they were able to talk a little bit about its history. When Laura pointed out the building and grounds to Joey, he was a bit confused when the driver made a left turn and seemed to go around and behind the Home. When they got out of the car, they were faced with a slope that had steps running up to the top.
As they were climbing to the top, Laura said, "We're not able to get into the grounds or the building right now. At least you aren't. No males are allowed."
Ms. Gillihan added, "That is a long standing rule. Tradition is very important to our family. Over the years, the Board of Directors has agreed that this policy would remain a rule of the Home."
Joey was disappointed that he wouldn't be able to see the Home from the inside and interact with the girls there, but he was distracted back to reality when they reached the top of the hill. The top of the hill was a large flat surface that allowed plenty of room for its benches. He was able to look down and see the beautiful building and grounds that included a large play area with numerous well kept play sets and swings. Joey couldn't help but smile when he saw the energy and happiness of the girls in the area. There were girls of all ages running around and their smiles and laughter made it apparent they were happy to be there. Several adults were supervising and working in the area and were smiling and laughing right along with the girls.
The other sides of the building were surrounded by a well kept tree line which opened up in front to allow an entranceway to the Home. No vehicles were allowed to park inside the area. Parking was designated out front beyond the trees. The one strange thing that Joey noticed was that the benches on the hill were facing away from the Hope House.
Laura noticed his confusion, took him by the arm, and turned him completely around. From this viewpoint and from this angle, a wide view of the ocean was spread out in front of them. "This is my most favorite place. I come here a lot just before the sun goes down. This is where I told you that the sunsets are incredible. I feel so at peace here with the beautiful sunset on one side and the positive energy of the girls on the other."
Joey understood her meaning. "Even though I am not allowed down there with the girls, is it okay if I come up here at times to watch the sunset too? I can see and feel why this is your special place."
Mrs. Gillihan spoke up, "Of course you are welcome up here Joseph. This is a private spot and not everyone is allowed, but I'll have security put you on the approved list. And we might even have a way for you to visit the Home and the girls."
Joey perked up with excitement and said, "That would be great Mrs. Gillihan, but I'm not a woman, and you said only women are allowed down there."
Laura smiled at Joey and put her arm through his. Mrs. Gillihan turned to face the Home and continued talking to Joey, "See the lady in the light blue dress pushing the girls on the merry-go-round? And see the lady in the yellow dress and apron passing out drinks to the girls?" She looked around at Joey staring down on the Home as he nodded his head. "The lady in blue is Robert. He is my daughter Lucy's husband. The lady in the apron is Steven. He is married to Lenora who I think you've already met. My family has always been a big supporter of the Home and my daughters and their husbands really enjoy their time here with the girls. As you can see, the husbands are dressed as women in order to participate. They act as handy-women and they love to play and be with all the girls. My guess is that their wives are inside reading books to the girls or maybe preparing snacks and drinks. I doubt you'll see a day where you won't see one of my girls and their husbands visiting the Home."
"They look great from here Mrs. Gillihan. If you hadn't told me who they were, I would have never known they were men. But I don't think I would make a very good woman. I've never done that kind of thing before."
Laura turned him to face her and said, "Those guys never did it before they came here either, but they look real enough now, just like you said. You won't have to do it on your own. I'll help with the look. When we're done, if you look in the mirror and aren't convinced you will pass as a woman, you can say no and we'll stop and no one will be mad or disappointed. I think you are quite handsome anyway and with the right touches, you'll be very passable as a female. Think of it as a costume party."
Mrs. Gillihan said, "Let's shoot for tomorrow night then. That will give you and Laura all day tomorrow to get your "costume" ready. If it doesn't work out, that's okay too. Since today is almost gone and tomorrow I'll be out of town anyway, let's plan on getting together on Friday to hash out the details of our project. That will give you time to possibly meet the girls and think about if you still want to write their story."
On the way back to the Gillihan house, Laura asked Joey if he wanted to come back this evening to enjoy the sunset and Joey quickly agreed. When they arrived at the house and he was alone with Laura, he nervously asked her if she wanted to have dinner together after the sunset. She told him, "Absolutely! You're not getting rid of me that easily. In fact, let's go get lunch, and I can show you downtown Port Orion."
Downtown was small, but quaint. There was a public parking lot from which you could walk through the downtown and its many shops, boutiques, and eateries. Laura led Joey to a deli that was several blocks from the parking area. When they had finished with lunch, they leisurely strolled down the cobblestone area between the shops. Laura took his hand and gave Joey a smile. He smiled back and thought again how lucky he was. He had a great opportunity to write and was holding hands with the most beautiful woman he had ever met. He realized that even though he had known Laura for only a couple of days, he had fallen in love for the first time in his life.
They walked and window shopped and Laura pointed out the local attractions. Eventually, Laura stopped and went into a small women's clothing boutique. She explained how this was her favorite shop for dresses and skirts and blouses. Joey listened intently as she oohed and ahhed over the clothing and he made a mental note of her preferences for possible gifts he could get for her.
They continued their leisurely stroll until Laura guided them into a shoe store. "The villa has a lot of clothes for visiting men and women and we should have plenty to choose from when I get to dress you up. Your hair is long enough and we may or may not fluff out the ponytail. You do need a comfortable pair of shoes in your size and maybe a little makeup that matches your skin color and covers your manly features."
Joey was apprehensive when he glanced over at Laura when they were in the shoe store alcove. "Let's not spend too much money Laura. I really don't think I'll make for a passable woman, no matter how hard you try."
"I disagree sweetie. I think you're underestimating my fashion talent and how handsome you really are." She reached up to his face with both hands, and he was mesmerized by her beautiful eyes. "Remember, when I am done with you, if you don't think you'll pass, you just say so and we'll stop. You have to believe me when I tell you that I would never do anything to embarrass or hurt my new boyfriend." She leaned up and gently pulled his face towards her. They're kiss was soft and loving, not a quick peck and not a tongue twister, but the intent was apparent.
At that moment, Joey would have done anything for Laura. Joey followed her into the store, still holding her hand. "We won't worry about higher heels right now. These sandals with two inch heels should be fine and will allow you to walk around the grounds in comfort." He didn't even notice the reference to the heels and he quickly agreed to the shoes she had held up. He was sized properly, and he carried the bag when they walked out with their purchase.
"One more stop and I think we'll be ready for tomorrow." She led them into a jewelry and perfume boutique that also had makeup. "You won't need much, but if we want you to blend in so you aren't seen as a man in women's clothes, we'll need a little help to get by." She had him hold out his arm as she applied different samples and different colors to match his skin tone. When they had finished with their purchases, they walked through the downtown a little more and slowly wandered back to the parking area and their car.
As Joey got in the car he said, "I must say, that was fun, probably more due to the company I am with rather than the shopping, but that was fun too."
"I have fun coming down here with my sisters, but today with you was special. I hope we'll get to do it a lot more. Why don't we go over to the villa you'll be staying at while you're here. I'll give you the grand tour."
Joey drove onto the Gillihan property and Laura directed him to a road left of the normal route to the main house. Through the trees, he saw a modest size house that was positioned in the woods. It wasn't nearly as big as the main Gillihan home, but it was still larger than he pictured for a visitor's temporary quarters. Laura walked him through the house showing him the 4 bedroom house and the private bathrooms attached to each one. The kitchen was spacious and already well stocked for his visit. When they stopped at the master bedroom, Laura opened the closets to show all the suits and casual clothing for visiting men and the dresses, skirts, and comfort clothing and accessories for visiting women.
Laura said, "If it's okay with you, I'll sleep here tonight. You can too if you want to move your things. We can get started early in the morning."
Joey answered, "That sounds great to me, but will your family approve of us being here together?"
Laura took both of his hands and looked up into his eyes. "Sweetie, you have a lot to learn about my family and our traditions. We take them very seriously and my family knows they can trust me to follow them too. I'm a virgin and I will be until my wedding night." She smiled and continued, "Of course that doesn't stop me from doing this." Their kiss was soft to begin, but turned into a very passionate embrace that lasted for several minutes. When they released, Joey said nothing, but had a big smile which told Laura that he liked what she had done. She smiled demurely and said, "I hope I'm not coming on too strong. I don't mean to be too pushy."
Joey kept smiling while staring into her beautiful eyes, "Laura, I've dreamed about you my entire life. You're the most beautiful woman I have ever met. Sex will be nice when the time is right, but I can love you just fine when I can feel you near me. Just being close to you and holding your hand is paradise for me. Since you're so honest with me I must confess that I'm a virgin too. Until now, I just never met anyone special enough to be that intimate." After a long hug, they went into the living room to talk and cuddle on the sofa. Eventually they became so relaxed that they fell asleep in each other's arms.
They woke up from their nap and drove to the back of Hope Hill and settled in on the benches at the top. Joey enjoyed watching the happiness of the girls that were out playing. He noticed a large woman who was tightening the bolts and adjusting the swings. Laura confirmed that "she" was Nathan, her sister Luann's husband. When he looked up and saw Laura and Joey, he stood up, smiled, and waved before getting back to his job.
The sunset was spectacular and the dinner was wonderful. After dinner they drove over to the hotel to pick up Joey's belongings and move into the villa. Laura spent the night and even though Joey was excited about tomorrow, he fell asleep quickly with Laura in his arms.
In the morning, Joey woke up first and snuck out of the bedroom so he wouldn't wake Laura. After his morning bathroom duties, he found the coffeemaker and started a fresh pot. Looking throughout the cabinets and refrigerator, he started fixing a traditional breakfast. As he was busy over the stove, Laura came up from behind and hugged him tight. "Something smells good. You're cute and you're a good cook. Maybe you ARE a keeper."
He turned in her arms to face her and saw her beautiful smile. "I can cook a little bit, especially breakfast, but today, I just think I'm inspired." Joey leaned down and initiated a soft, but lasting kiss.
Laura said, "I'm really excited about today. You're going to fall in love with the girls, and I'm sure they will fall in with you. You just remember who you belong to," she said with a stern look that broke into a joking smile.
Joey was still tentative about dressing up today, but the part about personally meeting the girls was exciting. Because of how he grew up, he really felt like he shared something with them.
After breakfast, Laura led Joey up to the bedroom and opened all the huge closet doors that contained the women's outerwear. "Okay sweetie, just relax and trust me. This might turn out to be as much fun for you as it will be for me."
"Let's see, we're not trying to make you look like a supermodel. That would just get you attention that you don't want. But we still want you to make a subtle and complete change so that when passerby's see you, they will smile and say hello, and then keep walking without thinking of you as anything except a cute young woman. We should start with the lingerie." She started looking through one of the chest drawers, picking up bras and comparing them with some panties.
Joey noticed her actions and spoke nervously. "Do I really need to wear woman's underwear Laura? I could just wear mine under a dress couldn't I?" He was thinking about Laura's impression of him. After all, he didn't want to seem too feminine in her eyes.
"Silly boy," she said without looking up at him. "A dress will not look right without the right underwear. Remember, we're trying to give you a look that will be genuine but not overdone. That way no one will even give you a second look. Only I will know that you're really a masculine, handsome man under your disguise." She turned around with a matching white pair of a fairly plain looking bra and panties. "We'll keep everything plain and subtle."
He tried to lighten up and relax. He smiled smugly and said, "Hmm, beautiful and smart too. YOU might be a keeper."
She smiled and leaned up for a quick kiss. "Try these on while I'm in the closet looking for some outerwear, and don't forget to tuck in areas that might show. Call me when you're ready, and I'll inspect you."
Joey noticed her sly smile when she glanced back at him as she walked into the huge walk-in closet. He walked over to the bed and decided to just get it over with. When they were done, he could just say no, but he would sure miss not being able to interact with the girls at the Home. It took him a bit to attach the bra properly but tried to remember how they did it in the movies and finally got it on. The panties were easy and very soft. He tucked very easily since he was rather nervous about what he was doing.
"I guess I'm ready," he said without emotion. When she walked out of the closet, he quickly added, "I feel kind of silly dressed like this Laura. I must look like a sissy."
"Don't be silly boyfriend. You're a very manly man who is dressing up in disguise to make his girlfriend happy and to meet a bunch of young girls that will adore you."
"I've got to admit that it's hard to argue with your logic, and I sure am anxious to meet the girls. Maybe I can even pick up some new girlfriends," he said as he tried to keep a straight face.
She looked back at him with a playful frown and poked him in the chest, "You better not if you know what's good for you buster."
"Okay, okay, you got me. What do you want me to do next?" he said as he smiled at her and gave her a big hug.
She smiled back and held out some stay up stockings. "You'll need these so the sandals fit and look right. They're practically invisible, but will make your feet look better. Later on we might try some nail polish on your hands and toes. They would look great in any open toed shoes."
Laura showed him how to put on the stockings so he wouldn't ruin them and then went back into the closet while Joey put them on. When he had finished, he couldn't help but run his hands up and down his legs to feel the softness of the hose. Laura was watching from the closet door and smiled. She squatted down in front of him and ran her hands along his legs. "Mmmm, feels nice doesn't it sweetie? You have great legs. I think we'll need to do something about your hair so it doesn't show up under the stockings like this."
Joey was embarrassed and his face turned red. "It does feel kinda nice, but very different, that's for sure." He looked down at his legs and did notice the hair on his legs and agreed that something had to be done to keep them from making him look too manly.
When she came into the room, Laura had laid a pretty green dress next to him on the bed. She opened it up and held it out so he could step into it. As it slid up his body, he felt the soft fabric rubbing against the stockings and his lingerie. Laura zipped up the back and slowly moved her hands up and down to smooth out any wrinkles. He found this very pleasurable and they both noticed the goose bumps on his arms. She walked around him and picked at him here and there to straighten and smooth all of his attire. Once settled, the dress draped just at his knees.
"Very nice," she said as her hands settled on his chest, "but I think we need just a little bit of filling up here to hide your manly chest and make the dress fit right. I think I have just the thing." She ran into the closet and he could hear her opening a box from the shelf. She was back in no time with a set of silicone, life-like breast forms. "I guess these are here for guests who want to leave an impression. There are quite a few sizes in there too if you want bigger." Before he could answer she put them in his bra and said, "These smaller ones will give you some shape, but they won't be so big that they will call attention to you."
Joey was still thinking about bowing out before he went outside looking like a woman, but he couldn't help but be a little excited as his transition progressed. "I'm still skeptical Laura, I don't think I was cut out for this, and I don't want to look like a fool."
I've got news for you sweetie. You're looking great already and we haven't even started on the details that will finish your final look. Now sit here at the vanity table. I want to play with your hair."
Joey sat down and let Laura release his ponytail. He was glad he kept his hair clean, but he rarely did anything with it other than gather it into his starving artist's style. He certainly enjoyed Laura's touch as she stroked and brushed him out.
"You have great hair Joey, it's so soft. It needs a bit of trimming though, not to shorten it, but to straighten out the ends. I like it so much that you might get tired of me brushing it for you each night."
"I would never get tired of that Laura, but then you might have to let me brush yours every night too. Yours is always beautiful, just like everything else about you."
Laura turned him around and sat in his lap. With their arms around each other, they kissed until they finally decided to fix a light lunch in the kitchen. They made plans to relax a bit and then get cleaned up so they could finish his transition. Laura was giggly and talkative and Joey was quiet and reserved, but he loved being with her. He fed on her excitement and she calmed his nerves.
After lunch, they relaxed together on the sofa talking and cuddling. Laura got them going by grabbing his hand and leading him to the bathroom. "Let's get you in the shower first. We'll need to get the hair off your legs and arms. In fact, why don't you use the hair removal cream while you're in the shower and get rid of all the hair on your body except your head. That's what all the guys in our family do. It makes things easier and more comfortable."
Joey didn't have too much body hair anyway, and he knew that if he got rid of it all, he wouldn't feel out of place in this family. He thought about how his hairy legs looked under the stockings and knew it would be easier. At least he would give Laura a fair chance to get him ready before he officially said no.
He read the instructions on the hair remover, put it on, and waited the listed time before he stepped in and washed it off. He felt very little difference until he put on the bra and panties that Laura had set on the bathroom vanity. The lingerie felt silky and soft on his hairless skin.
When finished, Laura had him sit on the vanity and put a towel over the mirror. She smiled and said, "No peeking until we're done sweetie. Laura took down his hair from the ponytail and starting brushing it out." She smiled as she brushed, "I like you with long hair, please don't shorten it. But you could use a trim to make it less shaggy, especially when it's out of the ponytail. We have a family day every week over at mother's house. We all help by cutting each other's hair. Maybe you could come and get a trim the next time we have one. The guys come and get their trims there too, so you won't feel out of place."
Joey smiled and stayed rather quiet while Laura worked on him. She seemed very happy having him as a dress-up companion. He wanted to give her full cooperation so that when he was done and he backed out, she would know that he had cooperated fully.
When his nails were dry, she had him put on the stockings. They actually felt amazing when he slid them over his smooth legs. Laura noticed he spent extra time running his hands up his legs and joined his with hers. "They feel so smooth and they look so much better with no hair. I bet they feel better too. Put on your sandals so you can continue to get used to them."
Joey walked around a bit until he was more comfortable with his balance. He admitted to himself that walking with the stockings felt very good with his newly hairless legs, and he admired the painted nails that looked very good in the stockings and sandals. After a few minutes, Laura directed him back to the vanity and sat him down.
"Okay, now for the makeup," she said as she sat on his lap. She had already laid out what she needed. She held his chin in her hand and turned it one way and then the other. Joey smiled at her semi serious expression and because their faces were so close, he leaned over and gave her a kiss. Laura smiled and then reached around to get her first tool. When she turned back to him, he again took advantage of her face being so close and gave her another kiss, this one a bit longer.
When she had recovered from the second kiss, she leaned back and with a pseudo angry expression said, "Stop that right now Joseph, you're distracting me!" Joey kept smiling as she worked and she couldn't help but smile back at his playful grin. After a few more minutes and a few more kisses, Laura declared she was finished. "You've turned out much better than I expected sweetie, probably because of the makeup and your hair down. I've left the lipstick until last so I can still do this." She put her hands around his neck and gave him a long, romantic kiss. Joey was now like putty in Laura's hands and would do anything she wanted.
Next came the dress and she held it out for him to step into. Again the feeling was very exciting as the soft fabric caressed his skin and Laura's hands roamed his body to smooth the wrinkles and tease him some more. She helped him put the breast forms into his bra and took a little extra time feeling and shaping his new chest. "Okay, we're almost done. A few accessories and a quick touchup of your makeup and you can see yourself in the mirror." She grabbed a box on the vanity and pulled out some jewelry. She first put on some pearl, clip-on earrings, and a matching necklace. She also gave him a nice ladies watch and an ankle bracelet that she said was just for fun. She suggested to him that maybe later, he might consider getting his ears pierced.
As she guided him over to the large mirror in the corner, Laura told him to close his eyes until she told him to open them. Joey admitted that the clothing felt unusually nice as he walked towards the mirror, but still doubted how he would look. She added lipstick that matched his nails and took a couple of steps backward with a big smile. "You really look wonderful sweetie. When you look at yourself in the mirror, remember to give yourself a fair assessment. Okay, open your eyes."
Joey slowly opened his eyes and adjusted his line of sight to look straight into the mirror. He was amazed by what he saw looking back at him. The young woman that looked back was attractive, but not overdone. She was the kind of lady he would pass in the street and maybe say hi as he continued to walk. Her clothing was plain, but attractive. What really caught his eye was her facial appearance. Her makeup was subtle, her hair framed her face just right, and the earrings added just the right touch. He doubted he would recognize himself if he didn't know it was him in the mirror and he had to admit, he should easily pass as a woman.
After turning his body to see several angles of himself, he held up his subtly painted fingernails and glanced down to see his stockings and sandals. When he settled in and continued to stare at his image, he finally noticed Laura, standing at his side with a huge smile on her face. "Okay Josie, what do you think? Will you admit that you will pass as a woman, but won't draw too much attention to yourself?"
All Joey said in response was "Josie?"
Laura took hold of his arm and turned him to face her. "I can't call you Joey when you're dressed like that, can I? Is Josie okay for your feminine name?" As he looked into her eyes, he just shook his head in agreement without making a sound and he knew that with that affirmation, he was agreeing to visit the Girl's Home as a woman. He was nervous about everything that was happening.
Laura could sense his apprehension and tried to calm him by focusing away from his apparel. "Just think, those girls are going to love having you around. From what mother has told us, you have a lot of things in common with them. I'll bet you will love being around them too."
She gathered her keys and purse and led him by the arm. "You won't need a purse this time and I'll drive until you're more used to the heels. I asked my sisters if they would drop by the Home with their husbands to make you a little more at ease. If we visit the girls now, we'll have plenty of time with them and then we can go out to dinner. I'm sure we'll have lots to talk about."
Joey walked with Laura in total silence. When they closed the door and walked to her car, he could feel the slight breeze on his legs and arms and was fascinated with how he felt now that he was outside. As they drove, Laura put her hand on Joey's stocking covered knee and gave him a reassuring squeeze and a smile. "Trust me Josie, I wouldn't hurt you or embarrass you in any way." That made "Josie" feel better, but he was still very nervous.
After parking in the Girl's House parking lot, Laura turned to Josie and smiled. "Are you ready sweetie? I'll be right here with you the whole time. If you feel like you need to leave for any reason, you tell me and we're outta here."
Joey walked arm in arm with Laura and when they got to the entrance gate, there was no one on the outside. Joey relaxed and quickly said, "Well, looks like we missed them. We better get on back."
Laura laughed and kept them walking through the gate towards the main building. "Don't be silly Josie. They are probably inside getting a snack or something."
Laura led the way to the building entrance and they walked in. Josie was very nervous and walked very stiffly while holding tightly to Laura's hand. There were sounds coming from down the hallway. Girls laughing and talking were loud through the open door. Laura walked to the door and before Josie could complain she led them both inside and stood at the entranceway.
As the girls noticed their presence, a chorus of greetings was called out, "Ms. Laura," "Hello Ms. Laura," "Who's your friend Ms. Laura?"
Laura laughed and waved at the girls and shouted, "Hello ladies." When the voices quieted down a bit, Laura announced, "Okay everyone, I want you to meet my very best friend, Josie. She'll be visiting you here too."
"Hello Ms. Josie," They replied, almost in unison.
Josie stiffly waved her hand and gave them a slight smile. He was still quite nervous, but at the same time fascinated by the giggling and energy of all the girls. Deep down, he was still looking forward to meeting and talking to them, but for now, everything was a bit overwhelming.
Laura pushed Josie outside into the hallway and called back to the girls, "Go ahead and finish up your snacks. We'll see you outside in the play yard."
Laura took him by the hand and slowly led Josie down the hallway. "See, I told you it would be fine. I know this is a lot thrown at you at one time and it's okay to be nervous. You're going to be just fine and it will all be worth it. Now let's see if Mrs. Brady is in her office."
Josie knew from talking with Mrs. Gillihan that Mrs. Brady was the Home's Director. She had been the Director for 40 years and all the girls, past and present, adored her. She had announced last month that she was finally going to retire by the end of the year, or as soon as the board of trustees found a suitable replacement.
They walked to the end of the hallway until finally reaching the door with Mrs. Brady's name and title on it. Laura gave it a quick and firm knock. They were invited inside and Laura introduced Josie to the longtime Director.
"So this is your new friend Josie," Mrs. Brady said with a sly smile. She took Josie's hand and reassuredly said, "Nice to meet you Josie, you look great. I'm told you'll be writing a history of the Hope House. I have plenty of journals and clippings in the library and you're welcome here anytime for your research."
Josie could tell that she knew she was a he and that made sense he thought. After all, The Gillihan men have been in a similar disguise for a long time. He felt very comfortable around her and knew she would be a great asset to his research for the book.
Even with the office door closed, they could hear the noises of footsteps and laughter as the girls made their way out to the play yard. Mrs. Brady explained, "It looks like snack time is over Laura. Two of your sisters and their 'friends' helped out with that today. I think the other 2 sisters and their 'friends' are out in the play yard waiting for the girls. Looks like all the Gillihan sisters are here today. I'm not sure what we would do without you ladies and the girls love you too. I think you'll fit right in Josie."
Laura and Josie thanked Mrs. Brady and they all said their goodbyes as Laura took Josie's hand and led him down the hallway. "You've done great so far and there's only one more step to go. Let's go mingle with the girls. I know you're still a little nervous, but remember, I'll be right there for you. We don't have to stay too long for your first visit. Just let me know when you're ready to go."
Josie was still very apprehensive about his appearance. He hadn't been around a lot of children in his life, but he did feel like this group of girls was different. After all, they did share a common past. It was almost like they were in the same sorority. He held Laura's hand very tightly and still walked stiffly as they strolled out into the busy courtyard. Josie marveled at all the activity and energy as he watched the girls running around, playing games, and enjoying the well equipped playground. He was so fascinated, he didn't even notice when Laura gently let go of his hand and took a step back to watch her girlfriend.
"Hello Ms. Josie," a young voice called him from behind. Josie turned and faced a young girl with a huge smile. She was wearing jeans and a t-shirt that seemed a bit large for her body. With her tennis shoes, she certainly looked ready for outside playtime.
"I'm Brenda and I'm 6 and a half years old. I know I'm small for my age, but I think I can handle myself okay. I'm really glad you're here visiting with us today."
Josie looked down at her and bent down slightly with a growing smile. He still seemed stiff and nervous, but Laura could see his fascination. She instinctively held her hands over her mouth so she could hide her smile and not call attention to her presence.
"Hello Brenda," Josie answered in a nervous voice. "Thank you for letting me visit you today."
They both stood there looking at each other, Josie with his small smile and Brenda with her huge grin. Laura was getting a little nervous. There were quite a few moments of silence as they stood and stared at each other. She was almost ready to join their conversation when Brenda held up both her arms to Josie.
Josie had very little interaction with children, but he recognized Brenda's gesture. He reached down and picked her up. They were eye to eye now.
"Will you be my friend Ms. Josie, I don't have any real friends, I mean the girls don't treat me bad, but there isn't anyone I can sit down and talk to or count on playing with them outside. They call me a smarty pants, I think because I read a lot and get good grades in school."
A slow smile was spreading on Josie's face. He couldn't believe that anyone could talk so much and seemingly not even take a breath. She seemed to ramble on like someone who hadn't talked in a long time. Laura noticed too, but her hands disguised the smile and silent laugh at Josie's situation. And then Brenda stopped talking.
She had put her hands around Josie's neck and was now quiet while she looked into his eyes. He was very comfortable with the very light little girl in his arms and he maintained the smile while he returned the gaze, eye to eye. They were both quiet for a bit, but they still held their stare. Even Laura remained quiet.
Brenda leaned forward a bit and spoke just above a whisper so no one else could hear. "You're one of us aren't you Ms. Josie?"
Josie's smile disappeared and his face turned to shock. Instinctively, he knew what she meant, but he could not answer. Laura did not hear what Brenda had said, but she had noticed the expression on Josie's face. She was a little worried, but held back any action.
"You didn't have any real parents either when you were growing up did you? You're an orphan just like us. I can see it in your eyes."
Josie's facial expression slowly turned from shock to a bit of sadness as he slowing nodded his head at Brenda. How could she know that by just looking into his eyes. There was another pause of silence as they both continued staring at each other. Then Brenda smiled and put her head on his shoulder and gave him a big hug which she held as she said into his ear, "I can see that you need a hug too. Anytime you need one, you know where to find me." She continued to hold on tight as she nestled into him.
Something broke inside Joey. He leaned his head back slightly and closed his eyes. He felt as if he was absorbing the energies that the Hope House, the girls, and especially Brenda were providing. The nervousness was fading away. He knew he was right where he needed to be and he knew that this was where he wanted to be. His eyes watered as he breathed in her aura while a small contented smile formed on his face.
Even though she hadn't heard what Brenda had said, Laura was staring in amazement at the interactions of Josie and Brenda. She saw the contentment and smile on her boyfriend's face, and then she saw the tears slowly crawl down his cheek. She could tell that these were tears of relief and happiness and it caused her to tear up too. Joey finally opened up his eyes, but held tightly to his new friend. He glanced over at Laura and saw her tears, but couldn't tell what expression she had because of the hands across her face. He smiled at her to let her know that everything was okay. Before Laura could react, Brenda leaned back and started talking again."Would you like to see our new swing set? We could even try it out if you want to."
The rest of the time they were there, Josie took charge of pushing Brenda and all the girls on the swing set. Laura helped on the nearby merry go round while keeping one eye on her beau. She could see that he was having a wonderful time. Quite a bit later, Laura came over and grabbed Joey by his shoulder. "Time to go Josie. It's time for everyone's dinner." She could tell he was disappointed, but he cheered up as every girl in sight waved at him and called out as they went inside for dinner, "Goodnight Josie, please come back and play with us again." He smiled and waved back to them.
On the way back to the parking lot, Laura giggled at the bouncy steps and big smile on Joey's face. "It looks like someone had fun today. We're going to meet my sisters and their guys for dinner."
He barely heard her speak, but when they were in the car, he started rambling with excitement. "I can't believe how much fun that was. You told me it would be fun, but I was nervous about dressing up, but after awhile, I didn't even think about being in a dress. All the girls were great and Brenda is a real treat don't you think?"
Laura giggled at him and patted his knee with a big smile. "You were great sweetie. The girls really love you. I was watching you the whole time, and I could see it was more than just fun, especially with Brenda."
"I can't explain it, but it was like she was looking inside me, searching my soul. When she hugged me, it felt like something inside me was released, and I felt like I was home with all my family. In all my life, I've never had that feeling."
As they pulled into a popular seafood restaurant, he was still talking about his adventure and how he was looking forward to going back and visiting again soon. Laura just smiled and nodded her head as he continued.
When they had parked, she got out of the car and started towards the restaurant with Joey hand in hand. Suddenly, Joey stopped and lowered his voice. "Laura, I can't go in dressed like this. Can't we go back and change first?"
Laura took him by the hand and started to guide him to the restaurant door. "Don't be silly Josie, you look great. No one will even notice you and besides, all my brothers-in-law will be here and they are all still dressed from their visit with the girls."
He held on to her hand tightly and nervously crept into the restaurant towards the back. A reserved table was located off of the main floor. It was an ideal place for some privacy. Three of her sisters and their husbands were already seated and the other pair was right behind them. Laura and he sat together and held hands under the table. He was still quite a bit nervous about his attire, but as time passed, he seemed to relax a little more. He noticed how comfortable all the other men were in their dresses and he didn't notice any unusual recognitions by the other patrons.
The wives all ordered for themselves and their husbands. Laura asked if it would be okay for her to order theirs also. Since he had never been there before, he appreciated her offer and she ordered from experience. After their drinks were served, Joey started to get really comfortable as both the wives and husbands were very friendly and included him in most of the conversations. When they heard that he was meeting Mrs. Gillihan at her house tomorrow, they suggested having dinner together in the early evening and then chill and socialize so they could get to know each other better. They were sure that their mother would love to be the hostess.
Joey was now much more comfortable with all the Gillihans so when he looked at Laura and she nodded in agreement, he happily accepted their invitation. On their way out of the restaurant, Joey felt a lot less nervous walking out between the customers than he did going in.
When they returned to the villa, they both decided to relax together for the rest of the night, while watching TV and maybe a movie. Laura smiled and nodded once in awhile as Joey continued his rambling about his day and the opportunities that may come his way. Laura left later so that she would have some time to talk with her mother about the events of the day.
The next morning, after Joey had finished breakfast, he drove to the Gillihan house to have his meeting with the matriarch. She was quite pleased with the reports about him from the whole family. They had reported how comfortable he had become when he was interacting with the girls. They all had agreed that Josie made a very passable woman. She also mentioned that Laura was quite taken by him and wanted to help him as much as possible during his stay. Laura blushed with a smile and took hold of Joey's hand.
When Joey responded, he told her how much he had enjoyed his visit to the Hope House. He said that writing their history would be an honor for him and he would love to have the opportunity. He smiled brightly and turned to Laura as he admitted to her mother that he was quite taken by her daughter too.
Mrs. Gillihan confirmed that she would like to officially hire Joseph to work on the writing project and he could get started next week. She confirmed the invite for an evening dinner tonight as an opportunity to get to know the Gillihan family and for them to get to know him. She looked at Laura and said, "We've decided tonight will be a Family Game Night, so dress accordingly."
Joey was curious what that meant, but decided he would wait until he and Laura were alone to ask her what was in store for the evening. Joey felt very fortunate when he was told that the villa would be his while he was here. He and Laura drove there in a very good mood. Back at the villa, Joey asked Laura about Family Game Night.
"My family gets together a lot. We have barbeques and picnics with everyone enjoying each other's company. The children and adults have a great time together. Family Game Night is a night for the adults only. The children have their own sleepover and are well taken care of. The adults have dinner, then may play some cards or just sit around, watching sports or a movie. Later on, mother and the married couples go into the Playroom and have some adult fun."
Joey's eyes opened wide in curiosity. "Adult fun?"
She giggled and answered, "You and I are not invited for those games, married couples only, but maybe you'll get to see it one day."
Before he could think, he replied with a smile, "Be careful what you say Ms. Gillihan, you might give me some ideas. And what about your mother's comment, dress accordingly?"
"It's not uncommon for us to spend time at the Hope House before we meet, so it's just easier for the guys to remain in disguise. The ladies might wear a costume too, and that makes the night more fun and interesting. You'll go in costume like the rest of the guys, but there will only be our family there so you shouldn't feel uncomfortable. Maybe we can stop by and say hi to the girls on our way there?"
The last comment made Joey smile and he almost forgot about the restlessness caused by the rest of Laura's explanation. Joey and Laura did indeed stop to visit the girls on the way to Family Night and just like the last visit, Joey had a great time and Laura had to drag him away.
When they arrived at Mrs. Gillihan's house, everyone was already there. Joey was relieved to see all the guys in disguise too. He felt very welcome when Mrs. Gillihan, her daughters, and their husbands all came over and gave him a hug or a handshake. The ladies went into the large family room where the TV was on. They talked and laughed as they glanced at the movie that was showing. The men all gathered around the grill outside while laughing and joking around with each other. The brothers-in-law made Joey feel very welcome. He helped set the table and serve the food as the ladies made their way into the dining area.
Dinner was great and everyone was having a great time talking, laughing, and being loud. After dinner, the ladies gathered on the patio to enjoy the drinks that their husbands had provided, while the guys went in to relax in front of a game on the TV. Again, Joey was very comfortable talking with the guys about anything that came up.
He asked them about their relationship with the Hope House and they all agreed that it was an important and special part of their life. "How about the dressing up part?" he added. "Are you comfortable with that too?"
Lisa's husband Steven answered, "It was a bit strange at first, but I think we all agree that we're used to it now and certainly don't mind getting into disguise for the chance to mingle with the girls."
LuAnn's husband Michael continued the thought. "After awhile, we barely even noticed our costumes." He put his hands under his chest and pushed up his breasts with a big smile. "Eventually we all had some small implants put in so it would be more convincing and easier to maintain. They're big enough to help us pass when the inspectors come around and small enough that we can wrap them up when we dress regularly as guys."
Joey was surprised when Michael mentioned the implants, but he understood the importance of the need for the disguise so that they could mingle freely with the girls.
Later on, Joseph was sitting next to Mrs. Gillihan on the sofa as the family goofed around with each other and talked a little bit about the Hope House. Mrs. Gillihan spoke to Joseph as she put her hand on his forearm. "Joseph, I'll be expecting you to ask me for an interview once you get going on the book. Elizabeth and I were residents of the Hope House for a time. That is where we became best friends. I was very fortunate that my adopted parents, the Gillihans, took a liking to me, and I became part of their family at a very young age. Elizabeth stayed at the Hope House until she graduated from high school, but we were still almost inseparable. She would be a good person for you to interview too. She also suggested that she could be your editor if you are comfortable with that arrangement."
Joey perked up and smiled, "I would be honored to have her as an advisor on this project. Be assured that Dr. Knight and you will be at the top of my list for interviews."
For the next few months, Joey and Laura spent most of their time together and a lot of time at the Hope House. They researched the journals and massive amount of information that Ms. Brady had saved and stored. Their personal time together included some downtown shopping trips, mostly with Joey dressed in disguise. He got comfortable walking with Laura as two girlfriends enjoying a day out. Laura had bought Joey a present that he could wear on their first ladies only shopping trip. He loved the blue flower dress she had bought for him, but especially loved the smile on Laura's face as she said, "Blue is your color sweetie. I love you so much."
It wasn't too much later that the thoughts of marriage were being hinted at and the whole family had caught on to the connection between Laura and Joey. When Laura was gone for a couple of days to a college recruiter's conference, Mrs. Gillihan invited Joey over for dinner and conversation. After their wonderful dinner, they went into her office to relax and talk.
"Joseph, I guess it's no secret that you and Laura have become quite close, so I thought I would tell you more about what joining our family would mean."
Joey fidgeted nervously in his seat and smiled at his host.
She opened her desk drawer and pulled out some paperwork and she scooted a piece of paper over towards him. "This is our marriage contract which every suitor must sign before marrying one of my daughters. My four son-in-laws have all signed it, and I expect Laura's future husband to sign it also. I want you to understand that I am not pressuring you or assuming anything, but I only think it's fair that you aren't caught by surprise should you ever be interested in that decision."
Joey held the contract and glanced over it quickly. "I do appreciate that ma'am."
"Item number one is to protect our assets against anyone who would take advantage of our family and try to steal our considerable resources. It also contains a generous monetary package if it turns out that the marriage just doesn't work out." Joey nodded with an understanding that this was indeed appropriate.
Mrs. Gillihan continued, "Item number two is an agreement that all Gillihan marriages will be wife-led. All decisions will be made by the wife and the husband is to be submissive to her. I will show you a little of how that works when we observe tonight's adult family time." Joey just sat there looking at the contract in a daze, trying to absorb as much as he could.
"Item number three is an agreement that the new groom will take the Gillihan name and their children will also carry the name of Gillihan."
Item number four was an agreement to spend at least one day a week at the Hope House in support of the building and its residents. Joey, of course, had no problem with that clause.
"Okay Joseph, let me show you what happens during our adult family time. "Mrs. Gillihan led Joseph up a stairway and through a door that obviously led to an area above the "Play Room." When they entered, he noticed that they were in a fairly wide encirclement above the play room. There were groups of chairs scattered along the walkway. This was obviously an observation area that surrounded the whole room.
As she led him around to a specific spot, Joseph noticed that her daughters and their husbands were already in the room.
"Normally, I would be down there with them, but I wanted to take this time to show you our more intimate family relationships. As you can tell, my daughters take the lead and their husbands follow their commands."
Joey looked down with amazement at what he saw. One daughter directed a husband to service her orally. Another daughter had one husband servicing another husband orally while she used a strap on to simulate intercourse. The last two daughters had their attention on the last husband who was now tied down onto his stomach so that he was restrained over a large leather covered bench. They had just started alternating a beating on his bottom and his legs with enough strength that welts appeared almost immediately. All the wives were dressed in menacing black leather and the husbands wore very frilly women's lingerie. None of the daughters were paired with their own husbands.
"From an outsider's point of view, this might seem cruel and nasty, but the scenes my family play are with love in mind. The husbands enjoy their submissive side while the ladies are reminded of their dominant position in the family. Even the whipping bench is an area of pleasure as the men reach a sexual high. Laura and her husband will join us when she is married."
Joey couldn't associate the actions he was seeing with love. He was becoming angry as he observed the actions around the whipping bench and saw the interactions between those that were not married to each other. He began to walk around towards the exit door as he talked to Mrs. Gillihan politely. "Thank you for sharing your family intimacies with me Mrs. Gillihan. I think I have a good sense of the process." She was amused that he was out the door and heading for his car before she could say anything. She knew that this experience was a lot to take in for the first time and was confident that he would understand after he gave it some thought.
Joey was disturbed by what he had just seen. He drove to Hope Hill and sat on the observation bench. He stared at the sunset and thought about his current situation. He loved Laura dearly and he loved the entire Gillihan family, but he was certainly uneasy about some of their rituals. After sitting on the bench in deep thought for an extended amount of time, he made the trip back to the villa.
The next day, Laura arrived home early from her trip. She quickly went to see Joey to surprise him. Joey was not there and all of his possessions were also gone. He had left a note on the bed with her name on it.
I love you so much that I can't find words to describe my feelings. However, I will not be able to marry you or stay with you or your family due to the marriage contract that I would be required to sign. I know you will think that I am a fool for giving up everything in Port Orion, but there are clauses in there that for personal reasons, I just cannot accept.
With this in mind, I am flying out of town to return to my former home. It would hurt me too much and would be unfair to you if I stayed with no hope of marriage with you. You deserve someone who will fit better into your family's traditions.
I will always love you,
When Laura arrived home, she ran straight to her bedroom. Noticing her demeanor, her mother soon followed her in and found her crying and distraught. She found Joey's note on the floor next to the bed. After she read the note, she joined Laura on her bed and held her close. No words were spoken.
"It's a little early for drinking isn't it Joseph?" Joey hadn't noticed the arrival of the person attached to the voice. He was sitting at a corner table in the airport lounge staring at his drink in deep thought. Over and over again, he almost convinced himself that he had made the wrong choice by leaving Port Orion and his love behind. But then his brain would take him to the memories of his youth and thoughts that led him to leave Laura and book an outgoing flight this evening.
"Orange Juice," he answered with a chuckle. He then turned to look at the voice and saw Mrs. Gillihan standing there by his table with a soft smile. He quickly jumped up and promptly knocked over his glass of juice. "I'm sorry ma'am, I didn't realize it was you. I guess I was preoccupied. Would you like to sit down? I'll clean up my mess."
As he dabbed at his spill with a wad of napkins, the waitress came over and cleaned up the mess. He thanked her and ordered another juice and asked Mrs. Gillihan if she would like a drink too.
"I'll have the same please," she said to the waitress. "Thank you Joseph. I'm glad I found you before your flight." She actually knew his exact flight plans from the calls she had previously made to her contacts in the area.
"It's not scheduled until this evening. I've been sitting here thinking and waiting." They both took a sip from their newly delivered drinks. Joey looked up at Mrs. Gillihan and said "I'm sorry if I disappointed you ma'am."
"I was disappointed when I heard you were leaving, but I'm not disappointed in you. I spent the entire night with Laura, and her despair broke my heart more than anything I've ever experienced. My family and I have become very attached to you since the first day you came to Port Orion. I love you like a son Joseph."
Joey didn't know any way to answer her statement so he said "Thank you ma'am" and then was silent as he stared into his drink glass.
"Joseph, do you love Laura?"
He felt a small smile come over his face as he thought of Laura and how to answer that question. "When I was in college, I felt very fortunate to have had the opportunity to talk to Dr. Knight quite a bit. We talked about literature, writing and life. She once told me that the most important thing in a lasting relationship is Love of course, but it isn't everything. She said that there has to be good communication, empathy, and something else that I can't remember right now."
He looked over to Mrs. Gillihan and saw her nodding slightly with a small but noticeable smile on her face. He continued. "She probably told you that I spent my youth in and out of foster care homes until I left for college at 18. I lived with 4 different families during that time. I never told her about those times."
"I stayed with my first family until I was 6 years old. They were kind to me but said they didn't want to be responsible for the care of an older child. I stayed with my second family until they had to move away from the area when I was 12. I stayed with my third family for 2 years and then I ran away. The mother in the family would beat me with a whip she said she had purchased just for me. I wasn't a bad kid, but she felt great joy as she shouted how I was hers and there was nothing I could do about it. The father didn't beat me, but he was the one that tied me down for her, and he would taunt me as she got her jollies."
Mrs. Gillihan took that moment to reach across the table and softly put her hand on top of his.
"I was terrified and angry, but I had nowhere to go and no one to go to. I finally got enough nerve to get out of there. I spent the last few years in a group home where I was just another body to feed, clothe and babysit. I'll never let that happen to me again, even if it is intended as loving and playful." He looked into Mrs. Gillihan's tear-filled eyes and said, "To answer your question ma'am, I love Laura more than I could ever imagine was possible. I love the Gillihan family too. As mixed up as it may sound, I love you as a friend and a mother. The Joseph Hart legacy is nothing compared to the powerful Gillihan family, but it's all I've got, and I'm keeping it. I decided long ago that I will not give up my integrity or my name for anything, even the paradise that the Gillihan family offers. I will probably regret this decision all my life, but I would also regret giving up my identity. I'm sorry."
Joey looked down at his glass and stared, fighting back his tears. Mrs. Gillihan patted his hand and leaned back in her chair and finished her drink. They sat silently for several moments until she straightened up and said, "Where will you go Joseph, what will you do?
He never looked up, but responded, "I guess I'll just go home and try to work on a novel."
"Where is home Joseph?"
He looked up, but didn't know how to answer. He dropped his head back down and stared at his juice.
"Would you please do me a favor Joseph?" Joey didn't reply, but he did look up at her with sorrow filled eyes. "Please do not leave Port Orion tonight. I would like you to stay for a couple more days so we can talk. I don't know what we can do or work out, but I don't want to lose you without a fight."
Joey perked up just a bit and then slumped back down. "I don't think I can postpone my flight this late and I've already checked out of the hotel room I stayed in last night."
She could see he was making excuses, but she read his response as a possible agreement. "You let me take care of your flight and your hotel room Joseph. I have a little influence in the area, and I'll arrange it so that you can still leave in a few days if that is what you decide. If that sounds okay, why don't we have dinner together tonight? We can eat and talk like a couple of old friends and be done early enough that you can catch the sunset at Hope Hill."
She stood up and gathered her things. Joey rose too. "I'd like that ma'am. I think I'll try and get some rest. I didn't sleep very well last night either, but now I'm looking forward to dinner tonight."
They decided that she would pick him up in front of the hotel at 5:30 and they could decide where to go from there. She gave him a kiss on the cheek and went out towards her car where her driver was waiting. When Joey reached the hotel, he wondered how he would get his room reactivated, but when he talked to the clerk, she said it had been taken care of already. When he got to his room, he went to sleep very quickly. He was still troubled, but a little bit more at ease.
Joey woke up a couple of hours before dinner and laid in bed for awhile, thinking about what had happened and what might happen in the future. He soon got up to prepare for dinner. After his shower, he went for his clothes and saw the blue flower dress that Laura had given him before the first day they went out shopping as girlfriends. He would take it with him even though he may never wear it again. He admitted to himself that he had fun dressing up as a woman for the girls and for the Gillihan family, especially Laura. She seemed to enjoy having him as a girlfriend every once in awhile and had to admit, it was fun for him too.
He walked down to the hotel lobby, grabbed a cup of coffee, and started reading the paper provided by the hotel. He was a half hour early, but his nervous energy wouldn't allow him to stay in his room and wait. He was looking forward to the suggestion by Mrs. Gillihan that he visit Hope Hill after dinner and their talk. He needed to recharge his soul, even if for the last time.
At exactly 5:30, Joey saw Mrs. Gillihan's car drive up and walked out to meet them. The driver opened the back door for him and he sat beside his date. She reached over and gave him a kiss on the cheek and smiled at him. "I'm so glad we are getting together tonight Joseph. Thank you for coming along. How about we go to a seafood restaurant? After all, that's what Port Orion is known for."
"I'm glad we were able to get together too Ma'am. I'm really going to miss you a lot." He quickly glanced up in her face as he realized that he had basically confessed to her that he had little hope of staying in Port Orion much longer. She politely smiled back. "Seafood would be great ma'am."
The driver knew where to go and the back seat passengers talked about Port Orion's eateries and sites as they passed them by. They talked about The Book of Hope that he had been working on and how he hoped someone would be able to pick up where he had left off. When they arrived at the restaurant, Joey realized that this was the same restaurant that the other Gillihans had taken him after his first visit to the Hope House. They were even given the same private table that they had occupied during that visit. He smiled at those memories.
During dinner, they enjoyed their food and small talked away any embarrassing silence. When they had finished, the table was cleared except for the pitcher of iced tea that was left on the table for them to share. Mrs. Gillihan reached into her document bag and got out some paperwork and a couple of pens. When she put one of the papers and a pen in front of him, Joey noticed that it was a copy of the Gillihan marriage contract, and he tensed up.
She looked up at him and smiled. "I am not expecting you to sign it Joseph, but I would like to talk about it if you're okay with that. I want to be very clear on your position for each item on this list. I brought out the pens if we want to make notes. Feel free to write any notes you want on the paper, it is only a copy like mine."
He slid and turned the contract in front of him so he could read it. It was the exact document that he was offered 2 days ago. "I understand ma'am."
"Please give me honest answers to my questions Joseph. If you don't want to answer, that's fine, but if you do answer, please be totally honest with me."
Joey looked up at her and nodded in agreement.
"Item 1 is standard in most prenuptial agreements when one side or the other has a lot more money than the other. It's for protection of our assets. I think it's fair to say that this is the case?" She looked up and looked at Joseph as he smiled at her and nodded.
"I have no problem with item number one Mrs. Gillihan. I have no desire to become filthy rich from your family's estate. Most writers don't write because they will make a lot of money anyway. The out clause is certainly generous. I'm not even sure what I would do with a million dollars and the items listed if I were ever to leave. If I were to be fortunate enough to marry Laura, I would never leave her anyway. I hope you believe me when I say that."
"I do believe you Joseph. That clause is more of a formality, but I can tell you understand," She said as she scribbled a few notes.
Joey glanced down at the contract and looked up at Mrs. Gillihan. "Item number two is a problem for me ma'am. I'm glad you explained everything you meant by a wife-lead marriage and allowed me to observe your family's interactions. It made everything perfectly clear."
"Joseph, the Gillihan family has a tradition of being led by females. I think it's clear that I am the current head of our family and my girls are the leaders of their individual families. I think you've observed that everyone in the Gillihan family not only approves, they also like the way things are setup."
"Yes ma'am, I've talked to them and they agree that your arrangement is very satisfactory for them. I have no problem with that, and I have no problem with them. I consider them all friends, but I am not them. The guys tell me that the scenes involving spanking and whipping are symbolic and are reminders of their place in the family. If it were me bound over the whipping bench, I would not feel the love they say they share. I would feel anger and hatred as I remember what it felt like growing up. And I could not participate in any intimate relations with anyone other than Laura, and I could not allow her to have intimate relations with anyone else but me... including her family."
Mrs. Gillihan replied, "Everything we do is for the love of our family, including the scenes. The husbands even discover a sub-space during the scenes which is a positive and powerful experience. We keep our intimate relations within our family and love each other very much. We enjoy each other's company whether we are intimate or not. Like everything else, the wives make those decisions and the husbands follow. These are very positive experiences for everyone in our adult family."
Joey looked her right in her eyes and spoke in a slightly forceful, but respectable tone. "With all due respect Mrs. Gillihan, I will not consent to be beaten, or whipped, or even spanked, and I will not be submissive to anyone, male or female. I promised myself that when I was young. These would not be positive experiences for me at all."
He continued by addressing item number three. "And I will not change my name to Gillihan. My children's names will be Hart, not Gillihan. I know it sounds silly for me to want to protect my family name, especially against such a respected family name as Gillihan." He looked down at his hands and lowered his tone. "I was told my parents died soon after I was born. I was also told that my family was poor and they could leave nothing for me. All I have left is my name, and I'm not giving it up. And if I have children, they will be the beginning of my Hart family tradition. I'm sorry Mrs. Gillihan, but I want to be totally honest with you. I admit, your family offers me a lot, and I offer you nothing, but if I consented to those conditions, it would feel like I was selling my soul." He then sat in silence as he stared down at his drinking glass.
Mrs. Gillihan took a deep breath and slid back into her chair. She looked at Joey with a slight smile and sipped her drink before speaking in a calm and loving voice. "You're definitely wrong about one thing Joseph. You offer a lot to Laura, to me, and to our entire family. And I know that the girls at the Hope House are terribly fond of you."
Joey looked up at her and smiled, "Thank you ma'am. I will miss everyone too."
"It was good for us to talk Joseph. I'm a little clearer now on where we are at. I would like to go back and talk to my family and see what they have to say. I'll be honest though, with four husbands and wives already following the same contract, it might be difficult to come up with an answer that would satisfy us all." She perked up a bit and said, "But like I said before, you're too important to us not to at least try. Let's meet again for dinner tomorrow at the same time. That will give both of us time to think things over and see if we can work something out."
She gathered her belongings and stood to leave. Joey stood to join her. "Let's get you back to the hotel so you can get your car to take a trip to Hope Hill. Everyone needs to recharge their soul every once in awhile."
Joey felt a sense of relief as he drove to the Hill. He was pleased that he had enough courage to tell his full and honest position on the important parts of the contract. But he still felt sure that he would soon be leaving Port Orion for good.
When he sat on the bench on Hope Hill, the sun was still up a bit and the girls behind him were all inside. He became mesmerized through the quiet and calm of the moment. He soon leaned forward and closed his eyes to try and keep back the tears that were forming. He would miss the Gillihan family, but he didn't know how he would survive without Laura.
Just before the sunset started, he heard a noise to his side and could tell that someone else was coming to enjoy the sunset. This was a popular place for those that were allowed access to the Hill.
"Hello Sweetie," came the voice from the visitor. He snapped his head around and stood up with a bounce.
"Laura!" he said as he stared at his love. He just stood in amazement while he stared at her with an open mouth. Laura was quiet too and finally looked down at her shoes with a shy smile. Finally, Joey woke up and was embarrassed at his demeanor. "Would you like to join me to enjoy the sunset?" They sat together on the bench, but they weren't sure how to act towards each other. After all, he had basically left Port Orion and Laura several days ago. Finally he bent forward to look at Laura's face. "I'm sorry the way things have turned out. I know you could never understand why I'm leaving, but I want you to know that I still love you with all my heart. Are you sure it would be okay with your mother for us to be together like this?"
Laura leaned towards him and put her hands on each side of his face. "She told me you would be here and encouraged me to come too. I was looking out the Hope House window, waiting for you to get here. After talking to mother, I understand your reservations, but I also understand that mother is trying her best to work something out. She and my whole family love you, and I love you with all MY heart."
Joey leaned down and kissed Laura. They enjoyed the sunset with Joey's arm around Laura as she snuggled up against his body. "What will you say to your mother when you go home tonight?"
Laura sat up to look at Joey. "I won't say anything. I plan to stay with you until we meet her for dinner tomorrow evening, if that's okay with you." He didn't answer, but he smiled and wrapped her back into his arms. She knew he had approved.
Soon after the sun had set, they heard another set of feet shuffling towards the bench. They both looked over and saw Brenda walking towards them with a big smile. When she got to the bench she carefully got up into Joey's lap. She put her hands on both sides of his face and looked at Joey's smile. "When I saw Ms. Laura staring out the window and she walked out the door, I went over to look out and see what she was watching. When I saw it was you, I asked Ms. Stephanie if I could come here too. She said I could visit for a few minutes and she would watch out for me. She's sitting down there on the swing."
Joey and Laura looked back and saw Steven slowly swinging on the play set. He saw them look and waved with a big smile. They waved back and turned back to Brenda.
"I heard someone say you might be leaving us Ms. Josie."
Up until that moment, Joey hadn't even thought about the differences between Joey and Josie, but now he realized that the girls knew what was going on.
Laura saw his confused expression and said, "The girls know about you and Stephanie and the others. They are very smart and they do get very close to you. I can also tell you that they know why you dress and appreciate that you do it so that you can be with them."
Joey blushed, but smiled at Brenda as she wrapped her arms around his neck. "You can't leave us Ms. Josie. Who will give me hugs when I need them?" Before he could answer, they heard Stephanie trying to get their attention from down below.
"He wants me to go back now," Brenda explained as she slid to the ground. "We're having ice cream tonight!" She smiled and turned to leave to go back to the house. After a few steps, she quickly turned around, ran to Josie, and jumped into his arms and gave him a big hug. "I don't want you to go Ms. Josie. I love you."
He smiled and returned the big hug. "I love you too Ms. Brenda."
As they watched Brenda skip down the path back to the Hope House, Laura turned to Joey with a tearful smile and said, "Well that settles that I guess. You certainly can't leave now."
Joey smiled and wrapped her back into his arms. His emotions were mixed at that moment as he thought about Brenda and Laura, but he also knew that his chance of staying wasn't very good.
When they arrived back at his hotel room, they spent the evening cuddling and talking like nothing would soon change for them, but the situation stayed in the back of their minds.
Joey and Mrs. Gillihan had agreed to meet for dinner at the same restaurant they ate at last night. There was plenty of variety on the menu and that special table in the back where they could eat and then talk in private.
Joey and Laura arrived and were sat at their reserved table. Mrs. Gillihan came in and was escorted to the table soon after. There were hugs all around and the initial talk involved the menu and recommended orders. Joey ordered for both he and Laura. Once they had received their drinks, Mrs. Gillihan started the conversation. "When I got home from dinner last night, I went in my office and made a few phone calls. I called all my daughters and told them I wanted to have a family meeting this morning. Obviously, Laura wasn't invited. She is a bit biased." She smiled at her youngest daughter and Laura smiled back.
"The last call I made was to my best friend, Elizabeth. I wasn't looking for any advice in particular although she is aware of our standard family marriage contract. She did say that she was concerned about how you would react to the contract. We talked for about an hour, just two old friends talking about you, and family, and the good old days. Before we hung up, I remembered you telling me what she said to you about the secrets of a good loving relationship. She laughed when I told her that you had forgotten what the third rule was. She said that number one rule is Empathy. You must be able to understand the differences between people, not necessarily to agree with everything, but to understand that each person is unique. We should respect those differences."
Mrs. Gillihan was smiling as she talked about her friend. She looked at both Joseph and Laura as she continued her story. "She said number two was Communication. Almost every disagreement can be worked out if the two lovers will talk it out. Many fights are actually misunderstandings that end up seeming silly if you both can talk and clear the air."
Joey said with a smile, "I feel so stupid because I still can't remember the third thing."
She smiled back and continued. "She laughed when she said that number three is Compromise. There should be room for both people to accept and follow the other person's lead, even if they don't agree with them 100 percent of the time. She said choose your battles well. Some things are not important enough to stand pat and fight it out, but some things are." Joey shook his head in agreement when he was reminded what the third rule was.
The food was served and they enjoyed their meal and talked normal chit chat. Laura seemed bubbly and talkative, but with obvious nervous energy and uncertainty. Joey was mostly quiet except when he talked about how good the food was in this place. He was trying to hide his apprehension and was wondering what the next part of their conversation would be like. When they had finished with their dinner, they had their drinks refilled, and they all sat back to wait for Mrs. Gillihan to continue.
"My girls and their husbands met with me this morning, and we talked about the contract. I went over your concerns, and I encouraged everyone to be open and give their opinions and suggestions. We talked about our family traditions and our current lifestyles as individuals and as the collective Gillihan family. We talked about Laura and her happiness and her mindset. And then we looked at the marriage contract and talked about each issue that Joseph had concerns about."
She sighed and starting looking through her valise until she brought out several sheets of paper. Both Joey and Laura were concerned when they heard the sigh and noticed her serious expression.
"As a family, we came up with a revised set of rules for your marriage contract. We all agree that we want you in Laura's life and the Gillihan's family life. So here is what we came up with. I know you approved of Item number one, the pre-nuptial agreement. Item number 2 has been changed. Laura and you will not be required to follow a wife-led marriage. You will be equals in all areas of your relationship including the raising of your children. Furthermore, you and Laura will not be forcibly involved in intimate relations with anyone outside of your marriage, including family."
She paused and looked at both Joseph and Laura. Laura looked over at Joey, but he gave no indication of what he was thinking. "Item number 3 has been changed also. After your marriage, you may maintain the Hart name and Laura would have the choice of keeping her name or changing it to Laura Hart. Your children will be named Hart also." For the first time during her talk, she smiled. "And I do want grandbabies from my youngest daughter and her husband.
Joey stayed stoic and knew not to comment until she had totally finished. Laura smiled and looked down with a red blush on her face.
Mrs. Gillihan took a sip of her drink and glanced at Laura and then addressed Joseph, "We have also added a couple more items to this contract." She paused for dramatic effect. "Item number four..."
Joey remembered that item number four on the original contract was an agreement to visit the Hope House at least once a week. He thought about the joy he experienced when being there with the girls and was saddened when he thought he might not be able to visit them anymore. He fidgeted nervously in his seat.
"For at least a 2 year period after your marriage, Laura and you will be appointed as co-directors of the Hope House. You will replace Mrs. Brady when she retires and you will both have the responsibility to maintain the high standards she has maintained for the last 40 years. You should have plenty of time to continue the "Book of Hope" and still have time to work on your novel."
It took all of Joey's strength not to jump up and hug Mrs. Gillihan. He dropped his head in an attempt to hide his smile. Laura didn't try to hide her pleasure. She smiled big and squeezed Joey's hand under the table. Joey's careful demeanor returned when Mrs. Gillihan continued.
"However, if you agree to the contract and everything I've outlined so far, you will also be required to follow item number five. As you know, the Hope House is very dear to me and to the whole Gillihan family. We will take no chances to compromise its integrity and reputation. Both scheduled and unscheduled inspections are made by representatives of the state board, and we will not jeopardize anything having to do with the Hope House. You two will be responsible for keeping up all requirements and personal appearances. As you know, there has never been a male director at the Hope House."
She looked at Joey and continued "Item number five requires that you always look the gender that is required of you when you represent the Hope Home. You will be required to get breast enhancements just like all of my sons-in-law. They had those performed at their wife's direction and because it was much easier to prepare themselves on the days they visited the Hope Home and other family get-togethers as required. I think you will find that they all like the enhancement and you have seen that they can be hidden when they are dressed as men."
Joey sat and was a little dumfounded. Inside, he rejoiced at the thought of being co-director of the Hope House, but was it worth getting the changes that were required for him to become a passable woman? Would Laura think less of him as a man? He glanced at Laura who was looking at him with a smile and still held his hand.
"You will also need to get your Adam's apple shaved and your face and body hair professionally removed. I want you to think about the changes. None of them will make you look feminine when you are dressed as a man. The breasts will be small enough to hide easily and yet they will be realistic for the inspectors. All the other changes won't even be noticed when you are out of disguise."
Mrs. Gillihan paused to let her words sink in. She slid one copy of the revised contract to Joseph and one to Laura. "I am not asking for your answer right now. I would recommend that you sleep on it. As promised, I have set up your plane reservations for tomorrow evening if you choose to go home and not agree to this contract. If you want to marry Laura under these conditions, come and meet with me at my house at noon tomorrow. I'll answer any questions you may have, and we'll see if you need more time to think things out or sign the contract. Laura will be leaving with me now, but will be allowed with us tomorrow during our meeting if you decide to come over. Laura, we'll talk more about the contract tonight."
Both Laura and Joey had expressions of deep thought, but they looked up at Mrs. Gillihan and nodded their understanding. They all stood up and Laura leaned over and kissed Joey. "I love you Joey."
Joey held her close and returned her soft, loving kiss. "I will always love you Laura."
Mrs. Gillihan gently grabbed her daughter's shoulder and guided her towards the door. She smiled at Joseph as they walked away. Joey decided to sit back down and finish his drink. He stared down at his hands for another 30 minutes before he left for his room.
The next day, Laura was nervous all morning while thinking about Joey and his decision. Knowing what was going on, all of her sisters came over and spent time with her to get her mind off of the situation. At a little before noon, Laura walked outside and down the driveway a bit in hopes of seeing Joey driving up. Her sisters walked halfway to her in case she needed support. They all stared quietly for any sign of Joey.
Noon came and past with no sign of Joey. Laura still held hope that he would soon be here. At 12:15 he still hadn't arrived and Laura dropped her head and started back to the house. Her sisters met her and put their arms around her to try and console her. After a few steps and more words of encouragement, Laura stopped and listened.
She heard a weak call of "Laura! Laura!" She smiled sadly at her sisters and said, "I even hear his voice calling to me in my mind." A couple more steps and she heard it again. This time her sisters heard it too. They all stopped and turned towards the road trying to figure out what was going on. Again they heard the sound, but this time a bit louder, "Laura! Laura!" Lenora, the oldest sister spoke up, "What is that sound and where is it coming from?"
With squinting eyes, they stared at the curve that opened up the road to the house. There was no telltale dust or the sound of an engine that would signify that a vehicle was coming. All of a sudden they saw the shape of a person running around the corner and straight to the house. He was waving his arms and yelling "Laura! Laura!" The figure came closer, but all the girls could see he was starting to falter like he was coming to the end of a marathon. Even from quite far away, Laura was the first to identify the person as Joey. "Joey!!" she shouted and quickly broke away from her sisters. She smiled as bright as she could as she started running towards him. Her sisters clasped their hands together and shared their sister's joy.
When she finally reached him, he had worn down to a slow, bent-over walk, and he was huffing and puffing from the run. Still with a big smile, she grabbed him by the waist and tried to support his body with hers. "Are you okay sweetie?" Laura asked with as much concern as she could under her elation.
"I'm fine I guess," he spit out between his huge breaths. "I was so worried I wouldn't get here in time, and I couldn't stand the thought of losing you again." The sisters had walked towards them and when they saw his exhausted condition, they each grabbed a body part to help stabilize his walk. It was a slow walk, but no doubt a happy walk for them all. Had they looked at the house front window at that time, they would have noticed Mrs. Gillihan looking out the window with a smile of understanding on her face. She walked back to her office in anticipation of some visitors.
Lenora asked, "What happened Joey? Why were you running?"
Between breaths, Joey replied, "My car...broke down...down the road. It wouldn't start back up. I couldn't get anyone... to help me right away. I was worried I would be too late... and you would think... I wasn't coming... So I started to run." The sisters and Laura were all smiling, because of Joey's story and because they were happy for Laura. His shirt was halfway tucked in and was stained with sweat. His hair was a mess and his pants and shoes were covered in dust and dirt. He looked awful, but considering the situation, it was funny.
Joey had recovered his breath enough to stand up straighter and ask Laura, "Am I too late Laura? Is your mother mad at me? Will she send me home because I didn't make it on time?"
Laura chuckled, "My mother can be quite strict some of the time, but I think she'll understand what happened. Let's go see her now." The sisters followed behind curiously as Laura still held onto support Joey with his arm around her shoulder. They reached her mother's office door and knocked.
As they entered the room, Mrs. Gillihan was sitting facing away from the door. She was trying very hard not to smile. "You're a little late Joseph, I'm not sure if we should talk..." She swiveled her chair around and looked at them. She immediately got up and quickly walked over to her visitors. "My goodness, you're a mess Joseph, what happened? Are you okay?"
Joey hadn't really noticed his physical condition, but he straightened up and took a deep breath. "I'm so sorry ma'am, my car broke down, and I was worried I would be too late and you would think I wasn't coming, but I really wanted to come so I started running as quickly as I could, but I haven't run much lately, so my lungs started burning and I wanted to stop and rest, but I knew I couldn't even though I had these shoes on... and my feet are killing me." He stopped rambling when he looked down and looked at the condition of his shoes and then looked at himself and finally saw how bad he looked. "I'm sorry ma'am..." He looked up to see Mrs. Gillihan's smile turn into a loud laugh. He also looked over at Laura who was laughing just as loudly as her mother. He then realized how he looked and sounded and began to laugh himself. "I guess I do look a mess don't I?"
Laura led him over to one of the chairs in front of her mother's desk. She tried to straighten his shirt and brush off the dust, but when she saw the mess it was making, she gave up and sat down in the chair next to him. Her smile had never left her face as she stared at her love and held his hand. One of the sisters brought in a cold bottle of water, handed it to Joey, and quietly left with a smile. He drained it quickly and was allowed to recover his breath.
"Should I go back to shower and change ma'am? You probably don't want to talk with me in this condition."
"You're fine Joseph. I'm sorry your car broke down, but I'm very glad you came to meet us. What should we talk about?" she said with a smirk.
As he pulled out a wrinkled, dusty paper from his back pocket he said, "I've looked over the marriage agreement, and I think you've been very fair. I do have one question though." He paused, glanced over at Laura and then back to the matriarch. "What if our babies are boys? How would they be treated by the Gillihan family?"
Mrs. Gillihan smiled and leaned forward in her chair. "As a family, we've talked about that even though, so far, only females have been born into our clan. I can assure you and Laura one thing Joseph. If baby boys are born into this family, I will adore them as much as my other grandbabies. So will the rest of the family. They will be raised by their parents and loved by their grandmother very much. Just as the girls are not raised to dominate, the boys will not be raised to be submissive. They will eventually make their own decisions during their adult lives."
Both Laura and Joey smiled and squeezed each other's held hand. They looked at each other and Joey kept smiling as he nodded his head to her. He stood up with just a slight groan and straightened himself out as best as he could. Mrs. Gillihan straightened in her chair enough to sit back and look up at Joseph.
"Ma'am, I am deeply in love with your daughter, Laura. She has been the woman in my dreams since the day I was born. I love all of your family and would be proud to become a member of the Gillihan clan. I promise you that even though we are an equal partnership in marriage, Laura will always be my queen, and I will treat her that way. Mrs. Gillihan, I ask for your blessing to propose to your daughter Laura for her hand in marriage."
Laura still sat in her chair and had her hands over her mouth and tears running down her cheeks. Mrs. Gillihan was having a hard time keeping a serious face as she cleared her throat and stood up and walked around her desk to be face to face with Joseph. "Joseph Hart, you are everything I've ever dreamed of in a husband for my daughter, and I know she feels the same about you too. The entire Gillihan family has fallen in love with you and we are excited that you will join us. I give you my blessing to marry my most prized possession."
She put her hands around Joseph's neck and nuzzled up close to the side of his head so that Laura couldn't see. She whispered, "I love you Joseph. Please take care of my daughter." She stepped back out of Joseph's hug and smiled at him brightly, "and don't forget the grandbabies!"
They all laughed and even though muzzled by her hands, Laura giggled as she took turns looking at her mother and her future husband. Her eyes filled with tears of joy and her hands finally came down as Joey stepped over towards her. He reached into his pocket and got down on one knee in front of her.
"Laura Gillihan, I fell in love with you the first moment I heard your voice, and I was totally under your spell when I looked at your face for the very first time. A few days ago, I thought my life had ended, but today I know that my life has only just begun." He lifted his hand and opened his fist revealing a small box that had a beautiful ring inside. He guided the box towards Laura's crying figure. "Laura Gillihan, I will love you always and beyond. Will you marry me?"
Laura continued to cry but her smile was brighter than her mother had ever seen. While she nodded her head, she silently let Joey softly grab her hand and allowed him to put the ring on her finger. She took a moment to look at it on her hand and then shouted "Yes" as she jumped into Joey's arms. She whispered into his ear, "I love you so much Joseph Hart. I would be honored to be your wife."
Joey had just enough time to look her in the eyes and give her a loving kiss before her sisters and her brother-in-laws rushed into the room to congratulate the two young lovers. When things had calmed down, Joey asked if it was okay to go home and get cleaned up. Laura volunteered to drive, but Joey escorted her to the passenger side, opened the door for her, and drove back to his room as Laura admired her new ring and cuddled close to her fiancé.
The wedding was scheduled for six months from that engagement day. During that time, Joey spent a lot of time at the Hope House, learning the ins and outs of what a director's responsibilities entailed. Laura spent a lot of time there as well, but also spent a lot of time with her mother and sisters as they planned the wedding. There was one unannounced inspection during that time, but Mrs. Brady handled that with no problem. Joey did see why it would be important to keep up the female image when he was a co-director. Plans were made for him to have his implants, his Adams Apple, and his hair removal taken care of soon after the honeymoon. Once he had recovered from his procedures, he and Laura would officially become co-directors of the Hope House.
The wedding day had great weather and was attended by family and close friends. It was held in Mrs. Gillihan's huge back lawn overlooking the ocean. There was plenty of room in the house for the reception. As the time for the ceremony approached, Laura was surrounded and helped by her sisters as her matrons of honor. Brenda looked radiant in her role as their flower girl.
Joey was waiting in a second floor guestroom that overlooked the wedding area. His future brothers-in-law were his best men and were with him joking around and making him feel more at ease. As the guests started to arrive, Joey looked out and saw the many Gillihan family and friends and no one from his side. He brightened and pointed when he saw Dr. Knight walk down and sit up front on his side. He chuckled and said to the guys, "At least I have one person on my side although she doesn't really count because she's here for both of us." Still smiling, he said, "But that's okay, I'm used to being on my own."
Robert came over and put his hand on Joey's shoulder. "I wouldn't be so sure of that my man." Joey looked over with confusion and saw Robert staring out with a mischievous smile. Joey followed his gaze and saw a huge line of girls from the Hope House marching down the aisle in the most beautiful white formal dresses that Mrs. Gillihan had purchased for them. When they reached the front rows of chairs, they started piling into and sitting on Joey's side of the aisle. Joey's smile was huge. Robert pointed outward and said, "I'm thinking you have a huge following of your own Joey."
The wedding went quickly and the vows were traditional, emphasizing love and equality. Laura had decided that she liked how "Laura Hart" sounded as they were first announced as husband and wife. At the greeting line, each of the Hope House girls passed by and hugged both the bride and groom. Each one managed to whisper in Joey's ear so no one except Laura heard them say, "Congratulations Ms. Josie. We love you both."
The reception was grand as the energy from all the girls rubbed off on all the guests.
Soon after the honeymoon, Joey had his procedures. He was nervous about how the implants would look, but received comfort from Laura and her brother's-in-law comments. When he had recovered, Laura played with them all the time when they were together in bed and Joey had to admit that it felt very nice. He also found out that he could easily bind them so they were hidden when he dressed like a man, and it was much easier for him to pass as a woman. Also, no more breast forms for him to worry about. He knew that this was part of the agreement to become the co-director of the Hope House, and he really valued his position there.
When Joey and Laura became the official co-directors of the Hope Home, the girls rejoiced. They would certainly miss Mrs. Brady, but they were already enamored by Laura and her "friend" Josie. Joey was able to complete what he could with the Book of Hope and Mrs. Gillihan was pleased. There would always be updates as more alumni checked in and more residents came to live there.
On their one year anniversary, the Harts officially adopted Brenda and to her delight, became a Hart too. Several years later, Laura and Joey became the proud parents of twin boys. Mrs. Gillihan was correct when she said that her entire family would love the newest male members of their family. Grandmother was especially pleased. She spoiled her grandsons every chance she got.
On their 10th wedding anniversary, Joey and Laura gave up their positions as co-directors of the Hope House. They became the co-directors of the Gillihan Foundation which included the Hope House for Girls and the newly opened Hart House for Boys.
When Joey looked back over the years since he had met the Gillihans, he knew he was extremely fortunate. This was heaven to him and it only seemed to get better every day. He thought about the day that he turned down the original marriage contract and then the several days later when he agreed to the new contract. It reminded him how important compromise was in everyone's life.
May 2, 2018 in romance