On the way downstairs Frank turned to Mrs. Livanos, "What are you planning to call me in public?"
"Your name is Francine," she replied. "That was the last remaining hypnotic trigger, by the way. From now on, it will be impossible for you to respond to any other name."
Francine nodded her agreement, "Thanks, and, by the way, you were right, I feel much better this way. How could you possibly have known I would? I had no idea."
"Oh, I can't really explain it, I guess it was woman's intuition," she said.
They left the house, deciding to walk to the shopping area in the mid-fifties where her favorite stores were located. She had to force herself not to shake with nerves. She was terrified that she'd give herself away, and she clung to the older woman for moral support. As they passed a construction site, one of the workmen gave a whistle, joined in by the others. Francine froze in terror, but Mrs. Livanos gave her a reassuring smile, "They were whistling at you, Francine! Smile!" She forced a little smile in their direction, and the men responded with more whistles.
"Hi, ya, Babe!" one called out. "What's your phone number?" cried another. Francine felt a surge of excitement as she realized that the men were really thrilled by her. She had done it! They actually thought she was a beautiful woman! She felt like singing as they continued on down the street.
They spent the afternoon shopping. Mrs. Livanos had decided that it was time for Francine to acquire a wardrobe of her own. "Of course, my dear, I mean only the more intimate items, You must have your own underthings and stockings, and also some simple everyday things to wear about the house. And shoes, too. You must have your own shoes. Of course, as a gesture of my good will, I intend to pay for them. You may have access to any of my formal gowns and dresses -- and to my furs and jewels, for that matter."
"Why, thank you. You are most generous," Francine replied as they approached a lingerie shop, one of the best and most luxurious in New York. Francine thrilled at the sight of all the beautiful silken and lace garments. She loved the delicate frothy pink and silky underthings that Mrs. Livanos helped her select. They also bought a supply of black, lacy, seductive things and a quantity of fine silk stockings. Padded brassieres, pantyhose, and some really elegant nightdresses were added to her haul.
They next visited several shoe stores to stock up on patent-leather high heels, custom-made boots and shoes of genuine leather. Most of these were to be sent on to Mrs. Livanos' house. In most of the stores they visited that day, she gave Francine legal access to her charge accounts in case she would ever want to shop on her own.
Mrs. Livanos and Francine went on to several department stores, where they purchased tweed skirts and sweaters for daily wear. They even stopped off to buy a riding habit "for visits to England." Francine delighted in trying on all the wonderful new clothes, and she loved the solicitous attention she received from salespeople.
"Now, my dear," Mrs. Livanos said at last. "A special treat for you."
With that, she hailed a taxicab and directed the driver to take them to Tiffany's.
Once inside that august establishment, she demanded a private showing room and gave whispered instructions to the salesman who had dashed to her side when she entered the store.
The salesman returned moments later carrying a long slender box. He opened it to show a row of perfectly matched pearls!
Francine's eyes went wide with amazement and pleasure, and Mrs. Livanos merely nodded to the man. Shutting the box, he disappeared as quickly as he had arrived.
Tense with curiosity Francine followed Mrs. Livanos out of the store.
"I have ordered those pearls made into a necklace," she said at last. "It is to be a special bonus to you, for being so cooperative."
Francine could only stammer an awkward thanks.
"Furthermore," Mrs. Livanos continued, "every year on this date that you are still with me, one more strand identical to this one will be added. If you remain for a long enough time, you will be a very rich man -- er, woman, I mean."
Francine was stupefied. Never in her wildest dreams did she ever think of owning such fabulous treasures.
"Cocktail time," Mrs. Livanos said brightly.
Francine quickly hailed a taxicab and they were on their way to meet Tonette and Jo.
In the back of the cab, Mrs. Livanos slipped a hundred dollar bill into Francine's handbag.
"For pocket money," she whispered. She leaned back against the cushions.
Francine was almost hysterical with delight when they arrived at the cocktail lounge. Her face literally radiated pleasure. They spotted the other two girls at once and hurried over to their table.
Tonette and Jo both gasped in astonishment on seeing Mrs. Livanos' new secretary in person.
"You did it," Jo said as Francine was introduced.
"Is this actually Frank from last week?" Tonette asked. "I knew that you were up to something with that young man, but I never guessed for a moment that it would turn out like this!"
Francine was a little annoyed that they had recognized him but was reassured that it was possible only because the other two had been partly aware of what Mrs. Livanos had been up to.
They all settled down and had a drink. Francine became aware of the many admiring glances they were getting from the others in the room. Then she noted something unusual. All the patrons were women. "Is this...?" she asked.
"...a lesbian roundezvous point?" Mrs. Livanos completed the question. "Of course. Though I was once married, as you know, I have always preferred the feminine side of love--with occasional differences," she added, patting Francine's hand.
With that, Francine smiled in appreciation, enjoying every second of the little party, basking in the glow of public approval.
"That woman is flirting with me," said Francine, smiling.
"Well, you should be pleased."
"Oh, I am, I am. I just think it's very funny that of all the beautiful women at this table, she should pick the only boy."
That set Tonette and Jo into gales of laughter, and Mrs. Livanos smiled.
"I think we should tell her," she said.
"I think so too," Tonette said.
"Francine," Jo said, "Tonette and I are just as male as you are!" Francine stared at her in amazement. "Really," she said. "She is Anthony and I am Joseph. We went through the same treatment as you did."
"That's correct," Mrs. Livanos said.
"We too were her secretaries and worked for her for quite some time." said Tonette.
"Why did you leave?" Francine asked.
"Rich lesbian lovers," they answered in unison.
Francine was stunned. Mrs. Livanos ordered another round of drinks as the tall blonde moved toward their table. The woman was stunningly beautiful, Francine decided. She began to wonder just how many strands of perfectly matched pearls from Tiffany's he'd manage to get by staying with Mrs. Livanos.
Don't forget to pick the woman you'd prefer to be (details here)!