He glanced over his right shoulder, and at first he couldn't believe what he saw. The surf had been small all morning, but looming behind him was the largest swell he had ever seen. Sandy started paddling for all he was worth, turning to his right to get into position before the wave broke. He timed it perfectly, dropping in as the enormous wave crested and broke around him. He was in free fall as he stood up and plunged down the thirty foot face, and he disappeared into a canopy of water as the raging surf engulfed him.
The judges and spectators thought he had wiped out until he was blown out of the tube, still standing, his arms raised in triumph. Awarded a perfect ten score on the wave of the day, Sandy Lane was catapulted into the finals of the Masters World Surfing Championship
He rode the shore break back in, still stoked over his amazing performance, and he didn't see Buster Cruz approaching him as he got out of the water. The reigning champion, Cruz towered over the diminutive Lane, and his face was livid with rage. He grabbed Sandy's shoulder and spun him around. 'Here's what happens to assholes who drop in on me and snake my wave,' Cruz said as he sucker punched Sandy in the nose, knocking him clean off his feet. Sandy was unconscious before his face went into the water.
* * *
Three days later, Sandy regained consciousness. He was aware of a tube running out of his nose, and white gauze interfered with his field of vision. When he tried to turn his head, it felt like a cherry bomb went off inside his skull. He fell back onto his pillows and lost consciousness again.
When he finally came around for good, he was surrounded by doctors, nurses, and a police sergeant. The doctors explained to him that he was suffering from a severely broken nose and a grade three concussion, and the sergeant told him that Buster Cruz had been arrested and charged with aggravated assault. When Sandy tried to speak, his voice was so weak that the sergeant was unable to take a statement from him. The doctors prescribed more rest, and Sandy returned to his nightmares.
As the days passed, his strength gradually returned. The first time his bandages were removed, the nurses recoiled in obvious horror at the sight of his smashed nose. Sandy Lane had been blessed with classic California good looks, and with his shoulder-length blonde hair and slight physique, he had sometimes been mistaken for a girl. Now his perfect nose was plastered all over his face, and his cheekbones and eye sockets were still badly swollen from the impact of Buster's fist.
The doctors assured him that surgery to repair his face would be scheduled as soon as the swelling went down enough for them to operate. Sandy spent endless days lolling in his hospital bed, bored out of his mind and overwhelmed with despair over the end of his surfing season. At twenty-four, he did not have that many good years left in him, and whatever money he had managed to save was going to be eaten up by his hospital bills. One thing was for sure, the meager income which he used to make from modeling wetsuits and board shorts would dry up when his sponsors got a good look at his face.
Even his return to pro surfing was in doubt, since Buster Cruz had made veiled threats that if he ever ran into Sandy Lane again, he would finish the job. Cruz had lost most of his sponsors, and was facing a possible jail term, all on account of Sandy Lane. If Sandy did make it back on the tour, he knew that Cruz would be laying for him.
A few days before his facial surgery was scheduled, Sandy had a visitor. She was tall, thin, high-strung, and well-dressed. She surveyed his broken face with professional interest as he studied her card. Her name was Darla Palmer, and she was an Assistant Executive Producer for a Holly**** studio. Sandy was surprised when she took a digital camera out of her purse and snapped a picture of him.
'Casting for a new horror film?' he asked her. 'I can play the monster without any makeup.'
'Not quite. When are you supposed to get your nose fixed?'
'Day after tomorrow.'
'I'll be back before then.'
* * *
'Amazing. Just uncanny,' Darla Palmer said as she studied the photographs in front of her. A techie from the computer lab hovered over her shoulder as she glanced back and forth between three separate photos, lined up side by side on her polished rose**** desk. On the far left was the picture she had taken of Sandy Lane in his hospital room. On the far right was a studio portrait of Ashley Vaughn, a rising starlet who had just been signed for the lead role in Wet Girls, an upcoming television series about a female surfing professional. And in the center was a digitally recreated photograph of Sandy Lane, with a new nose. It was indistinguishable from the photograph of Ashley Vaughn.
'All I did was morph Ashley's nose onto the picture you gave me, and presto!' the techie was saying. Darla reached into a file drawer beside her desk and pulled out a buff manila folder. She took out a sheet of paper with Ashley's vital statistics, and compared it with a profile on Sandy Lane from Surfer magazine. 'Age: Ashley 23, Sandy 24. Eyes: Ashley blue, Sandy blue. Hair: Ashley blonde, Sandy blonde. Height: Ashley 5' 7', Sandy 5' 7'. Weight: Ashley 125 pounds, Sandy 135 pounds…nothing that a little diet couldn't take care of.'
'Sex?' asked the techie.
'You are sworn to secrecy about this, or I'll have your job. Got it?'
'Sure, Miss Palmer. I won't breathe a word. What are you up to?'
'Ashley Vaughn is a lovely girl, but she has zero athletic ability. We've been pulling our hair out trying to find a stunt double for her surfing scenes in Wet Girls. I think we just found him…or rather, her.'
* * *
Sandy's operation was canceled, and a few days later he was flown in a private jet to a clinic in Palm Springs, where his plastic surgery was to be performed. During the flight, he tried to get through the thick contract which Darla Palmer had given him to read on the plane. He was so stoked about the prospect of making some serious money as a stunt double that he only glanced through it. The print was very small, and a lot of the words he could not understand.
Sandy knew that they wanted him to do surfing scenes for Ashley Vaughn in a television series about a girl surfer, and he thought that was kind of cool. One of his buddies was still bragging about the bread he scored by putting on a bikini and surfing the big wave scenes in Blue Crush, and Sandy was looking forward to being surfer rich for a change. He was used to eking out an existence from tournament to tournament, and the idea of getting paid serious money to be in the water, surrounded by pretty actresses, was too good to pass up. He signed the contract in duplicate after struggling through the first few pages.
His surgery took place the next morning. Once again, he woke up with gauze wrapped around his face and a tube running out of his nose, only this time he was in a private room, with nonstop service and plenty of surfing magazines and videos to amuse him. The days passed quickly, until Darla Palmer showed up one morning with a nurse and a doctor in tow. 'Ready to see the new you?' Darla asked.
'Sure, anything would be an improvement over the way I looked after Buster flattened me. Will I recognize myself?'
'I told you, Sandy, that we were going to make some changes to help you with your acting. Don't worry, if you don't like it, we can always change it again after we finish with the series. Right, doctor?'
'Of course. Let's see how we've done.' The doctor and Darla watched as the nurse snipped the gauze with a pair of long scissors and gently began to unravel the bandage. When she pulled off the last of it, both Darla and the nurse gasped as the doctor nodded his approval.
'What is it?' Sandy asked in alarm.
'Oh my God, he's a dead ringer for that girl who's waiting outside,' the nurse blurted out.
'What are you talking about?' Sandy asked.
The doctor produced a mirror. 'See for yourself, Mr. Lane.'
Sandy took the mirror and stared at his reflection in shock. He now had the cute, upturned nose of Ashley Vaughn. With his long blonde hair, he looked just like her.
'Of course, you'll look a lot better after we do something with your hair,' Darla said. 'Would you care to meet your twin?'
Sandy lay speechless in bed as Darla left, returning a moment later with Ashley Vaughn. 'Ashley, meet Sandy,' Darla said in triumph.
Ashley's jaw dropped when she saw Sandy's face. 'Wow, he's perfect.' She stuck out her hand and Sandy awkwardly took it. 'This is going to be so cool.'
'Stand up, Sandy, and let's get a good look at you,' Darla said after the doctor left the room. Sandy was in a daze as he got up, feeling slightly self-conscious in his hospital gown.
Ashley walked around him slowly with her chin in her hands. 'He's gotta go on a diet,' she said matter-of-factly. 'His legs are nice. Once he shaves them, he'll be just fine from a distance, don't you think?'
'Shave my legs?' Sandy asked. 'Nobody said anything about that.'
'Didn't you read your contract? If I'm not mistaken, it specifies full body waxing for the duration of the series.' Darla knew she was not mistaken, since she had written the contract herself.
What else was in that contract, Sandy wondered, as the enormity of his predicament began to sink in. These people were expecting him to pass as a girl. At least it wasn't full time, he said to himself, as he watched them study him like a department store mannequin.
'Let me see you walk across the room,' Ashley said. Without protest, Sandy walked a few steps and turned around to face her.
'He's gonna need some coaching,' Ashley said.
'I know, don't worry. Starting next week, we have him scheduled for three hours a day with Max Perscheid. He used to be one of the top choreographers on Broadway before he semi-retired to Malibu. We're going to use his beach house as our base of operations for the next few weeks.'
'Base of operations? For what?'
' While you're learning how to surf, Sandy will be learning how to be a girl.'
* * *
Two weeks later, Ashley Vaughn caught her first wave, and Sandy Lane wore his first dress. He had subjected himself to hours of ballet and deportment lessons, tolerated the agonizing removal of all of his body hair, watched as his mop of blonde hair was styled into a layered shag, suffered through manicures and pedicures, and endured the piercing of his ears. The crash diet Darla Palmer put him on resulted in the loss of almost ten pounds from his already skinny frame, and when he put on a girl's swim suit for the first time, he passed inspection with flying colors. Some strategic padding, a lot of makeup, and he was ready for his action scenes as Pepper Reef, the lead character in Wet Girls.
Meanwhile, Ashley was working diligently at her surfing. The studio had paid a full-time instructor to work with her, but she was getting nowhere until Sandy took her aside one day and asked her to describe her problems. After he listened for a few minutes, he told her to meet him down on the beach right after lunch. When she got there, he was waiting for her, dressed in his powder blue woman's wetsuit, with a longer surfboard than she was used to. In their wetsuits, they looked like identical twins, and Sandy swam beside her as she paddled out beyond the shore break.
Ashley was exhausted from the effort, and Sandy made her wait and rest for a few minutes before he pointed her board towards the shore. 'Just hang there until I say 'Go,'' Sandy told her, and Ashley did as she was told. When Sandy saw a perfect swell approaching, he gave her board a mighty shove and shouted, 'Go, go!'' Ashley paddled like crazy, and as Sandy had instructed her, she waited until her board became rock steady as it caught the wave. When she tried to get up, it was as simple as standing on a sidewalk. She was laughing and shouting in pure, unadulterated joy as she rode the wave almost to shore.
The entire crew was applauding them from the beach. It was not necessary for Ashley to become a proficient surfer, but the network desperately wanted a few shots of her standing on a board to weave into the scenes that Sandy would perform. Sandy was rewarded with a hug and a kiss from Ashley when he caught up with her. Although the kiss was purely platonic, a seed had been planted, and it began to grow from that moment.
As for Sandy's dress, a scene in the opening episode of Wet Girls called for Pepper Reef to run into the surf in her street clothes to rescue a drowning child. Sandy spent hours in makeup and wardrobe, getting fitted with a short sundress and high heeled sandals. Ashley was decked out in an identical outfit, and Sandy milled around awkwardly in his dress and heels as Ashley filmed her scenes. When the time came for Pepper Reef to dash into the surf, Sandy took over for Ashley, kicking off his sandals and running through the waves as the cameras rolled. When he carried the child out of the water, Ashley took over again, and Sandy had fun getting her good and wet before the cameras started filming again.
The shooting schedule was incredibly hectic, and Sandy barely had time to think about the crazy way his life was going. Up at four o'clock every morning to put on a woman's swimsuit or wetsuit, hours getting his hair and makeup done, more hours standing around doing nothing as Ashley and the other actors filmed their scenes, long breaks spent sitting around in women's clothing with Ashley and the other actors, and finally to bed with his reading assignment for the next day's shooting.
Sandy and Ashley were too exhausted to spend any quality time together, but they did come up with an amusing game to help pass the time. Periodically, Sandy and Ashley would swap trailers, and wait to see how long it would take the other members of the cast and crew to figure out who was who. They were getting very good at passing for one another when disaster struck.
It was the last day of filming for the season, and Sandy was scheduled to perform a particularly hairy stunt that had him diving off Santa Monica Pier to disable a runaway Jet Ski. Ashley insisted on taking his place on the pier, thinking it would be fun to dive off it into Santa Monica Bay before Sandy finished the scene. But when she hit the water, a sudden swell tossed her against a piling, and something snapped.
It took a few seconds before the crew realized that something was wrong, and it wasn't until Sandy dove off the pier that they knew what was happening. By then, it was almost too late. Sandy grabbed Ashley and towed her towards shore until a small boat was found to rescue her. It didn't take the paramedics long to diagnose her condition. The impact with the pier had broken her left leg in two places.
Darla Palmer was beside herself. They had one more scene to film with Ashley, involving her in a close-up with another actor. Sandy was sitting around his trailer with a hangdog expression when she came in without knocking.
'How could you have let her do that?' Darla shouted.
'She's a big girl, she does what she wants to.'
'Well, you should have stopped her.'
'She's the star. I'm just a stunt double, remember?'
'Not any more?'
'What are you talking about? Am I fired?'
'No, you're not fired, although I'd love to do it. You've just been promoted.'
'That's right. Get off your ass and get into wardrobe. You're going to shoot Ashley's scene for her.'
Sandy froze. He knew what was in the script. 'I can't do that. I mean, she's got that big love scene….'
'She doesn't have that big love scene. You've got that big love scene. Now get going, Missy. It's going to cost the studio a fortune if we can't wrap this week.'
'You can't make me do this.'
'Read your contract.'
* * *
Sandy was in a trance as the minions went to work on him. The final episode of the season ended with Pepper Reef going to an exclusive Beverly Hills restaurant with her dream guy, played by a journeyman actor named Randy Romaine. Randy was the consummate professional, and Darla had no worries about him. The question was whether Sandy could pull off the switch.
For the first time, he was going to have to really pass as a woman. He had gotten by for months wearing wetsuits and swimsuits, never spending more than a few minutes before the camera, and never opening his mouth. They would be able to dub Ashley's voice over his during final editing, but the acting would be all his. Sandy had proven that he could fool the cast and crew, but would he be able to fool the camera?
It began with a complete body waxing. Sandy was used to these by now, but this time they went to special lengths, including his face and neck, followed by a meticulous tweezing of his eyebrows. His hair was washed, shampooed and styled into Ashley Vaughn's trademark shag, his nails were polished and buffed, and his makeup session was far more intense than anything he had previously experienced.
Other than the one dress Sandy had put on during the first day of filming, he had never worn anything but beach clothes. At Darla's request, his new wardrobe was laid out for him in his trailer, and it was with trepidation that he closed the door behind him while the crew waited impatiently outside.
For the first time, he was introduced to women's lingerie. His panties were specially padded to give him a rounded ass and to flatten his front, much like his custom-made swimsuits and wetsuits, and his padded bra gave him the same illusion of cleavage. But his slip and stockings were like nothing he'd ever experienced. He could feel his penis struggling in confusion as he slid the delicate nylons up his smooth legs, and he almost had an orgasm when he stepped into his lacy slip and pulled the delicious fabric against his sensitive skin.
Pepper Reef's little black dress had a zipper in the back and a clasp at the top. Sandy managed to get the dress over his head without mussing his hair, and he tugged it into place before reaching back to zip and fasten it. He wondered how women who were not professional athletes ever managed to dress themselves. Then he sat down to put on his black 3' pumps. His stockinged feet slid into them nicely, and he took a few practice steps to make sure he would be able to handle them. For some reason, he felt completely comfortable in his new clothing, and a strange inner peace came over him as he stood before the full length mirror and surveyed the finished product. The girl looking back at him was a TV star.
When Sandy opened the door to his trailer and stepped confidently outside, he was greeted by cheers from the crew. A wardrobe person fussed with him briefly, adding some jewelry and switching his earrings to match, and then he was taken to the sound stage and shown his place on the set. The scene had been hastily rewritten to eliminate most of Pepper's lines. All she had to do was look beautiful while Randy Romaine told her how much he loved her, and let him kiss her as the camera faded to black. They pulled it off in one take.
* * *
After filming wrapped, Sandy hung around for the cast and crew party in his dress, enjoying the compliments while he reveled in the sensations of being a pretty girl. But there was someplace else he needed to be, so he said his goodbyes and hopped into a studio limousine for the short ride to the hospital where Ashley was recovering.
He was mobbed by total strangers when he got out of the limousine, and it took him a few seconds before he realized that they thought he was Ashley Vaughn. He signed some autographs with a girlish scribble before he excused himself as politely as he could, limiting himself to a few short phrases in Ashley's soft voice. He knew her room number, and he stole quietly down the hallway to her door.
Ashley was lying in bed, where she had cried herself to sleep. Her leg was in a cast, held up by two cables a few inches above her bed. Sandy closed the door behind him and stole quietly to her bedside. 'Hey,' he said in his own voice.
She looked up, and at first she didn't realize it was him. Then the biggest smile came over her face, and she started to giggle uncontrollably as he did a curtsy for her. 'Look at you!' she said.
'Are you mad at me?'
'Why should I be mad at you? You saved my life.'
'I stole your big love scene today.'
'So I heard. I couldn't believe it when Darla told me you were going to go through with it. You saved her life, too.'
'All in a day's work for a fearless stunt double.'
'Did you have fun?'
'He's a good kisser.'
'Oh yeah? Come here, Missy. I'll show you what a good kiss is.' Sandy leaned over her, and she kissed him tenderly. He kissed her back the same way, feeling a sweet spike of arousal as his penis ached for the woman he had become. When they finally broke it off, she said, 'I've mussed your lipstick. Here, let me fix it.' She took a corner of her sheet and wiped the smudges off his beautiful face.
Sandy pulled a chair up next to the bed and sat down, carefully crossing his legs after he smoothed his dress beneath himself. 'Are you as weirded out by this as I am?' he asked her.
'Yeah, but I'm loving it! I was so bummed before you came in.'
'How long are you in here?'
'At least a week, and then it's another five weeks before I get the cast off. I'm going to need some physical therapy, but I should be ready to go for the next season.'
'What makes you think the network's going to renew us?'
'Darla swore me to secrecy. She wanted to cheer me up, I guess. It's going to be announced next week You know what that means, don't you?'
'You're gong to have to be a girl for another whole year.'
'I'm sure it's in your contract. You know, that contract you never read.'
Sandy was secretly thrilled at the prospect. 'Aren't you worried that I'll steal some more of your scenes?'
'Try it, and I'll tell Buster Cruz where he can find you. You might just wind up a girl permanently.'
They bantered through the night like sisters, nourishing the seed that was planted the day Ashley caught her first wave, and Sandy wore his first dress.
* * *
With his final paycheck from the first season of Wet Girls, Sandy Lane finally had enough money to make the down payment on an oceanfront condo. It had only one bedroom, but it was right on the Esplanade in Redondo Beach, with a sweeping white water view. Best of all, he could jump out of bed and be in the surf in a matter of seconds. With most of the summer free before they resumed shooting for the second season, he had nothing to look forward to but sun, sand and surf.
Except for one thing. His studio contract required him to be available on short notice for publicity shots and marketing sessions. There was talk about a photo shoot on Waikiki Beach, with Pepper Reef riding the waves against the background of Diamond Head. Sandy was stoked about that, until he realized the ramifications. He was going to have to keep his girlish figure, and his layered shag hairdo, straight through the summer.
Sandy Lane had dropped out of sight after his violent run-in with Buster Cruz during the semi-finals of the Masters World Surfing Championship, and the surfing community had written him off. His role as a stunt double for Ashley Vaughn on the hit TV series Wet Girls was a deep Holly**** secret, and Sandy intended to keep it that way until he reemerged after the series ran its course.
Which presented Sandy with a big dilemma when he moved into his condo. In order to maintain his cover with his new neighbors, he resigned himself to living full time as a woman. With a heavy heart, he packed up all of his guy stuff and locked it away at a mini-storage facility in the San Fernando Valley. His meager wardrobe now consisted of a powder blue wetsuit, a few women's swim suits, and a pair of shorts and a tee shirt that he was able to bum off of Ashley Vaughn. At least his flip-flops were unisex.
Ashley was finally out of the hospital, recovering from her broken leg at her house in the Holly**** Hills. As soon as her leg was out of its cast, she was going to be working day and night with a personal trainer to get back in shape for the fall season. She took pity on Sandy when he confided in her, and agreed to help him put together a trousseau before he moved into his bachelor pad as a bachelorette. When Sandy pulled into her driveway in his new Audi convertible, Ashley was waiting for him at an upstairs window.
She watched him slide his waxed legs out of the car and perch his sunglasses on top of his blonde head as he waved hello. It was still hard to believe that her exact twin was really a guy. After months of lessons, his gestures and movements were becoming more and more feminine, to the point where Ashley and Sandy had been mistaken for each other on the set of Wet Girls before her accident. It was a good thing Sandy had taken to wearing wraparound sunglasses whenever he went out, or he would have been mobbed by her adoring public.
Ashley hobbled downstairs in her walking cast to greet him with a peck on the cheek. 'Hey, sister, how's the move going?'
'Got a fridge and a phone. How's the leg?'
'It itches like crazy.'
Even with her leg in a cast, Ashley Vaughn was drop-dead gorgeous, and Sandy felt himself stirring as they stood awkwardly in her smartly decorated foyer. He was tantalizingly close to one of the hottest actresses in Holly****, in a relationship that was beyond strange. 'You look nice.'
'Yeah, right.' Sometimes she seemed to like him as guy, but today he was just a girlfriend. 'You ready to try on some of my clothes?' Her master bedroom was on the ground floor, and he followed her past a small kitchen to a bright and airy room decorated in pink and yellow. Piles of skirts, tops and dresses were strewn across the queen size bed. 'All this stuff was ready for the Goodwill anyway.'
Sandy gulped while he took them in. 'Do you really think I need all that?'
'Well, it all depends. Knowing you, you're probably planning to spend the entire summer on the beach. But what if you need to go out? Like to buy food, for instance?'
'Can't I just get by with shorts or jeans?'
'Most of the time, sure. But what if the studio needs you to go somewhere? We have my image to think about.'
'Sandy, you're a dead ringer for me. Without those sunglasses, people are going to think you're Ashley Vaughn. Unless you're planning to stay home every night.'
Sandy hadn't thought about that. He'd go stir crazy cooped up in his condo all summer. 'I guess you're right.'
'Good girl. Now take off your shirt and shorts.' With a shrug of resignation, Sandy pulled off his tee shirt, and he blushed as he stepped out of his shorts. Ashley was shocked to discover that he wasn't wearing any underwear, and his penis was already at half mast.
'My God, look at you!' He wilted under her scorn, and she rummaged through one of her lingerie drawers for an old pair of cotton panties. 'Put these on at once!' she commanded, and he meekly complied. She eyed the tell-tale bulge with a glint of amusement in her eyes. 'Are you turned on by wearing my panties, or are you just happy to see me?' she said, doing a perfect Mae West impression.
'Both,' Sandy answered honestly.
Ashley was shaking her head as she returned to her drawer and pulled out a wonder bra. 'They padded you up pretty good on the set, didn't they?' she asked rhetorically as she waited for him to put his arms through the straps. After she snapped him up from behind, she made sure the cookies were inserted in each of the cups as she tugged them into place. 'There. You have your figure back.' Sandy's hard-on had vanished, and he looked almost natural in his bra and panties.
Ashley pointed to her bed with a wave of her hand. 'What shall we try on first? Have you ever worn a skirt?'
'Uh, no,' Sandy admitted.
'Okay, first things first. Let's try on a pair of my shoes.' Ashley looked under her bed and found a battered pair of white skimmer flats. 'Oh good, I thought I'd thrown these away.' Sandy tried them on, but his feet were too wide for them. 'No problem, we'll just go to Plan B,' Ashley said, reaching into her lingerie drawer once again for a pair of pantyhose. 'Do you know how to put these on?'
'I can do it,' Sandy said, trying to disguise his enthusiasm. He sat down on the foot of her bed, and began to ease Ashley's nylons up his sleek legs. Once again, the sensation of sheer delight took him by surprise. His poor brain was in a cauldron, sending mixed signals to his bewildered penis: This feels so great! Whoa, down boy! What will Ashley think?'
Ashley didn't know what to think as she watched his raging member trying to break through her old panties. 'Are we having fun down there?' she finally asked.
Sandy was mortified. 'A girl wants to dress me up in her clothes. Does that make me a fag?' he stammered.
'I don't know, but it's making the girl hot,' she said in a sultry voice as she pulled Sandy's panties down to his knees. His tortured penis sprang to attention, and she teased it with her soft fingers as Sandy hung his head in embarrassment. 'We can't have you walking around like this,' she said matter-of-factly. 'I've been wondering how to thank you for saving my life. Here goes.' With that, she lowered her beautiful head, and took him into her mouth.
Sandy hadn't gotten laid since the night before Buster Cruz put him in the hospital, and he exploded instantly, moaning in ecstasy as the waves of pure, sweet pleasure went on and on. Ashley rubbed his stockinged calves while she coaxed the last drop out of him, and then she tucked him between his legs and gently pulled his panties and hose up to his waist.
Blown away, Sandy lay back on her bed, surrounded by a sea of skirts and dresses as she sat down beside him. 'Wouldn't that have been ironic,' she said. 'I might have drowned giving a blow job to the guy who pulled me out of the water.'
* * *
Two hours later, the trunk and back seat of Sandy's car were crammed with Ashley's hand-me-downs, including shoes, purses, and fashion jewelry. They were sitting at her kitchen table having a light lunch as Ashley went over the list she had made for him. 'I've put enough makeup in this bag to get you through the next few days, but you're going to need to stock up on some essentials. Oh, and don't forget to buy some undies and nylons. Here, I'll write down your sizes. You can pick them up at any drugstore.'
Sandy studied her list as she rambled on. 'You shouldn't need another haircut for at least a month,' she was saying. Neither one of them had said another word about what went on between them in Ashley's bedroom, although each knew that it had added a volatile ingredient to the strange bond that was developing between them. 'Let me see your driver's license,' Ashley said.
Sandy fished it out of the pocket of his shorts. 'Hmm, not bad,' she said. 'With your long hair, you look sort of like a girl. Here, I have an idea.' She reached into the cosmetics bag on the kitchen table and took out some nail polish. She shook the bottle, opened it, and applied a strategic dab over the M. 'There,' she said as she blew on the polish. 'Sandy Lane. Sex: unknown.'
* * *
One month later, Sandy had a long hot shower after surfing for two hours off the Redondo jetty. It was mild at the beach, as usual, but the forecast was for temperatures in the high nineties in the Holly**** Hills. Sandy selected the coolest clothes he could think of: panties, bra, a short sundress and sandals.
Ashley was getting her cast off today, and Sandy intended to surprise her with flowers and ask her out to dinner. After he got dressed and put on his makeup, he decided he'd better make sure she was back from the doctor's office. But when he called her number, a guy answered the phone.
'Is Ashley there?'
'Sure, hang on. It's for you, Babe.'
Sandy felt a knot in his stomach as he waited for her to pick up. 'Hello?'
'Sandy! How are you?'
'Okay. How's the leg?'
'Great! I can't believe it's finally out of that stupid cast! It looks gross, and it's so stiff I need a cane. You should see me hobbling around.'
'I thought I'd stop by and maybe we could go out someplace for dinner.'
'Oh Sandy, I'd love to, but I've got other plans.'
'Who's the guy?'
'Just an old friend.' Sandy could hear him laughing while Ashley whispered for him to hush. 'Well actually, more than an old friend. A guy I went to USC with.'
'I'm sorry. I hope you didn't go to any trouble.'
'Oh no. I just shaved my legs and put on a dress.'
'You're wearing a dress?' There was more laughter in the background.
'Yes.' Sandy felt like the biggest fool in the world.
'That's so sweet.'
'Yeah. Well, I'd better let you go.'
'Call me again, okay?'
'Bye.' Sandy hung up. Suddenly he needed to get out, to get away from his absurd existence. He grabbed his purse and ran out the door, all dressed up with no place to go.
* * *
Sandy drove for miles up the Pacific Coast Highway, past the Santa Monica Pier where he had saved Ashley's life, and up the coast into Malibu. Pretty girls in convertibles are not a rare sight in Southern California, but Sandy was attracting more than his share of attention from the guys passing by, which only added to his feelings of shame and frustration. He was sick of being a girl. He needed to be a guy again.
Finally Sandy picked up his cell phone and punched in the number of his best friend, Toby Goodfin. Sandy and Toby had traveled the world together, surfing in Australia, Indonesia, Mexico, and Costa Rica, and they had lived together for six months on the north shore of Oahu. Sandy hadn't spoken to Toby, or any of his surfer buddies, since the day he agreed to become a stunt double for Ashley Vaughn.
He was relieved when Toby answered the phone, thinking that he might have moved out of the beach pad he shared with two other guys in Malibu. 'Toby, it's me. Sandy.'
'Dude! Where are you?'
'In the 'Bu.'
'No way! Where have you been, man?'
'It's a long story. You doing anything?'
'I was gonna surf up at Zuma later, can you make it?'
'No. Toby, can we meet someplace?'
'Come on over.'
Sandy knew he could trust Toby, but he wasn't sure about his roommates. Sandy glanced at his Swatch. 'How about Moondoggies?'
'And Toby, get ready for a surprise.'
* * *
Sandy found a parking space a half a block from Moondoggies, a Malibu dive known for its burgers and beers. He left his sunglasses on as he walked inside. Toby was standing at the bar, drinking a beer and watching a surf video on closed circuit television. Sandy walked up next to him and waited for Toby to say something.
Toby looked at the gorgeous blonde, smiled, and asked if he could buy her a beer. 'Sure,' Sandy said in a shy voice. The bartender asked to see some identification, and Sandy produced his driver's license. Fortunately, the bartender was new, and he had never heard of Sandy Lane. After he glanced at the license, he handed it back to Sandy, and Sandy handed it to Toby.
Toby stared at it for a few seconds, then looked up at Sandy, who had removed his sunglasses. His jaw dropped as he stared at his friend, dumbstruck. Sandy took back his license and walked over to a quiet table, Toby two steps behind him.
'Dude, is it really you?' Toby asked after they sat down.
'Shhhh. Yes, it's me. You gotta promise to keep this a secret,' Sandy whispered.
'I never even knew you wanted to be a chick. Did you like leave the country for an operation?'
'I'm not a chick, and I didn't have any operation, except for a nose job. This is all a disguise.'
'A disguise? Whoa. Are you like hiding out from Buster Cruz?'
'No! I got a job as a stunt double on Wet Girls.'
'No way!' Toby studied him closely. 'Holy ****! You're Pepper Reef!'
'Just in the water. The rest of the time she's played by a real actress.'
'She's hot, man. Hell, you're hot. This is unfuckingbelievable.'
'Tell me about it.' A waitress came to their table to take their orders. Sandy asked for the biggest, greasiest cheeseburger on the menu, and another beer. To hell with Ashley Vaughn and her fucking diet. It was great being a guy again.
'Can I have your autograph?' the waitress asked out of the blue. 'You're Ashley Vaughn, right?'
'The bartender said your driver's license was in a different name, and that your picture was a little different. I told him I was sure it was you.'
'Ashley Vaughn is my stage name, and I had a nose job. Any more questions?'
The waitress retreated without her autograph while Toby looked on in amusement. 'You really do look like her. But do you have to dress up like that all the time?'
How to explain it to him? 'It's in my contract. That's why you have to keep this a secret. They don't want it to get out that Pepper Reef's surfing is being done by a guy.'
'But there are plenty of great girl surfers out there. Why you?'
'You said it. We're like identical twins.'
'Are you sure you didn't have that operation?'
'Trust me. They can do amazing things with makeup and padding.'
'How long are you stuck like this?'
'At least another year.'
'No ****. That sucks.'
'Yeah, but the money's great.'
'Really? Like how much?'
'Two hundred grand a season.'
Toby spit up his beer. 'Hell, for two hundred grand, I'd grow a pair of tits.'
* * *
Sandy was able to finish about a third of his burger, sadly realizing how much his stomach had shrunken from his constant dieting. It was so great shooting the **** with Toby again, he lost track of time. When they finally got up to leave, he noticed that a large crowd had gathered around the bar. Holding court before his adoring minions was none other than Buster Cruz.
Sandy and Toby were walking towards the door when Buster shouted out to them. 'Goodfin, aren't you going to introduce me to your lady friend?'
Toby was about to tell him to get fucked when Sandy grabbed his arm. 'Let me handle this,' he whispered. The crowd parted to admit them into Buster's presence.
'What's your name, honey?'
'You're hot, Ashley. What are you doing with a wimp like Goodfin?' The crowd snickered as Toby turned bright red. 'Let me know if you want to go out with a real man sometime.'
'Sorry, I only date my own species.' This was lost on Buster. 'Then again, I've never dated a baboon. Maybe I should try it.'
Nervous laughter swept through the crowded bar.
'You've got a nasty mouth.'
'You've got a nasty face.'
'If you were a guy, I'd kick your ass.'
'Yeah? Well if I were I guy, you'd be taking it up the ass.'
Buster got up off his barstool and loomed over Sandy. 'Don't let me see you in here again, bitch.'
Sandy and Toby headed towards the door. The noisy bar was suddenly dead quiet. 'That would be impossible.'
'What do you mean?'
'For you to see me. How could you, with your head up your ass?'
Peals of laughter rocked the bar as Toby and Sandy beat a hasty retreat. They got to Sandy's car first, and he hopped inside after blowing Toby a kiss. 'It's been weird,' Toby shouted as Sandy peeled off.
* * *
When Sandy got back to his condo, there were three messages on his answering machine. He pushed the play button as he kicked off his sandals.
'Hi, it's Ashley. Just checking in to see how your day went. Give me a call when you can.'
'It's me again. Please give me a call. Thanks.'
'Sandy, please call me. I'm sorry about today. Please pick up if you're listening. Dammit!'
Sandy's heart was pounding as he reached for the phone. It rang before he could pick it up. It was Ashley.
'Sandy, please don't hang up on me.'
'Where have you been?'
'I just needed to get out. What happened to your big date?'
'Oh Sandy, it was such a disaster.' She started to ramble on and on about how her old boyfriend had called her out of the blue, and about how much he used to mean to her, but that he had changed somehow, or maybe she was the one who had changed. Sandy just stood there and let her talk, reveling in the sound of her voice. So what if she was talking to him like another girlfriend? At that moment, he would have settled for that forever.
When she asked him about his day, he replayed his showdown with Buster Cruz. Ashley was in hysterics by the time he finished the story. 'You're going to give Ashley Vaughn a bad reputation!' she laughed.
'The gang at Moondoggies will never forget you, that's for sure.' He told her about his nose job comment, and she laughed some more.
'Well, at least you were properly dressed. Which dress did you wear?'
'The blue sundress.'
'I used to love that dress. It has a little bow in the back. Untie it.'
'You heard me. Put the phone down for a second, and untie the bow.'
Sandy did as he was told, wondering where this was going.
'Now, slip the straps off your shoulders, and let it fall to the floor.'
Once again Sandy complied, and his dress fell into a puddle around his feet.
'Yes, Mistress,' Sandy said, breathing heavier now.
'Next, take off your panties. What color are they, by the way?'
'Just like your dress. How darling! Are we getting aroused?'
Sandy's cock was raging. 'Yes,' he managed to say.
'I thought so. I'm closing my eyes, and imagining that you are right here with me. I am teasing your cock with my long fingernails. How does it feel?'
Sandy began to stroke himself as he listened to her incredibly sexy voice. 'It feels so good.'
'Excellent. Now pick up your dress and wrap it around your penis. That's right, you heard me. It's nice and silky, isn't it?'
'Yes. Oh God,' Sandy groaned as he lost control of himself. He fell to his knees, milking himself lustily with Ashley's pretty sundress.
'I'm still here.'
'Are we all finished?'
'That was incredible.'
'Good girl. Now for your next assignment, put on my pink nightie, snuggle up under the covers, and call me back for further instructions.'
* * *
Sandy and Ashley became lovers that summer. As Ashley's leg grew strong again, they became almost inseparable as their feelings for each other blossomed. Ashley soon dismissed her personal trainer, spending hours in the water with Sandy as her surfing became more and more proficient. All the while, she was becoming increasingly fascinated with Sandy's bold exploration of his feminine side.
For Sandy, that summer was a dream of sex, surf and silk. His pent-up longing for Ashley exploded into marathons of lovemaking that left them both exhilarated, exhausted, and yearning for more. When Sandy wasn't teaching Ashley how to surf, he spent the days cruising up and down the coast with Toby, who became the perfect beard as Sandy's presumed boyfriend. The first time Toby saw Sandy in his powder blue wetsuit, he had laughed himself silly, but soon they were hanging out together like nothing had changed.
When Sandy and Ashley took a rare night off, Sandy and Toby hung out together at surf bars. Toby kept the guys from hitting on his friend while Sandy worked on his surfer girl persona, becoming more and more comfortable with his role as Pepper Reef. After months of practice, he was starting to sound more and more like Ashley, and soon he fell into using her voice full time. His hair was getting longer, and bikini lines crisscrossed his tanned body, which was soft and smooth from steady doses of licorice root and wild yam cream.
For Toby, the most fun was when the three of them hung out together. Accompanied by two identical knockouts, Toby was the envy of every guy they came across, even though Sandy and Ashley were constantly trying to fool Toby as to which one was really the girl. He was a great sport about it, and Ashley was soon angling to get him a bit part on Wet Girls.
As for Ashley, the truly magical days were the ones she spent out on the town with Sandy, shopping for identical outfits and recounting their adventures over long lunches at sidewalk cafes on Melrose Street. Ashley delighted in Sandy's acceptance of his new-found femininity, and she amused herself by decorating his condo with the unmistakable stamp of a woman. During their outings, they disguised themselves with sunglasses and baseball caps, turning heads everywhere they went. Sandy was the sister she never had, and the boyfriend she always wanted.
The highlight of the summer came about when Ashley was invited to take a screen test for a movie to be made by ****y Allen in New York. It was a sensational part, and she would be perfect for it. The timing was good, because shooting on the picture was not set to begin until after the completion of the second season of Wet Girls. But under the terms of Ashley's studio contract, she was obligated to take part in an awards ceremony in Beverly Hills the day of her screen test.
After a night of exquisite sex, she went to work on Sandy. He pretended to put up a fight, but in the end he agreed to get gussied up and take her place. They spent days shopping for the perfect outfit, and she even gave him a pedicure before she pronounced that his feet were too gnarly for the open-toed shoes she had intended to wear. Heels and stockings it would have to be.
Sandy would need an escort for the big event, so Toby was dragooned into the conspiracy. He agreed to go on the condition that he would not have to wear a tie.
* * *
The day of the ceremony, Sandy had his hair and nails done at a salon selected by Ashley, who was already on her way to New York. He luxuriated with a long bubble bath in Ashley's tub, shaving his legs while he tried to get in the mood for Ashley's Holly**** gala.
He pampered himself with Ashley's lilac-scented moisturizing crème before dressing up. First he put on a one-piece body briefer that Ashley had selected for him. It held his manhood snugly back between his legs, gave him a waist like a wasp, and pushed up his pecs to create a hint of cleavage. Ultra-sheer control-top pantyhose were next, and when he tugged them on, his trapped penis was too bent out of shape to enjoy it.
Then to Ashley's vanity, where he sat down on a little bench and began to apply his makeup. After watching experts make him over every day on the set of Wet Girls, he knew what he was doing, and soon his pretty face had blushing cheeks, smoky eyes, and rosebud lips. He put diamond studs in his earlobes, fussed with his hair to get it just so, dabbed some of Ashley's expensive perfume behind his ears and knees, and headed for her closet.
The dress Ashley had finally settled on was a soft white creation that kissed the tops of his knees with clouds of rustling taffeta. He lowered it carefully over his perfect hairdo before zipping and clasping it behind him. He fastened a diamond pendant around his neck, and added a diamond-studded Rolex watch which Ashley had left for him. Then he stepped into his white stilettos and minced his way over to the full length mirror on the back of her closet door.
What Sandy saw took his breath away. The young woman in the mirror slowly turned this way and that, sizing herself up from head to toe with a critical eye. There was no doubt about it. The blonde bombshell looking back at him was Ashley Vaughn. He was in a daze as he dropped a lipstick, hairbrush and Altoids into Ashley's little white clutch purse, almost forgetting her house key.
If Sandy was surprised by his transformation, it was nothing compared to Toby's reaction when he first laid eyes on his old friend. The studio sent a limo to pick them up, Ashley first and then her date. Sandy chatted with the driver as they drove down Sunset Boulevard towards Malibu, honing Ashley's voice to build up self-confidence. When they arrived at Toby's shack, the driver got out and knocked on the door. When he returned with Toby a few minutes later, it was obvious that they had been arguing.
Toby was dressed in flip flops and a billabong shirt. It was his best shirt, it was even clean, and he was wearing long pants, but evidently the driver had told him his attire was unacceptable, because Toby was muttering to himself when he stuck his head into the limo.
'Whoa, get a load of this thing. Holy ****, look at you. Dude!' Toby was open-mouthed as he took in the luxury of his surroundings, and the appearance of his best friend. Perched on a black leather settee in his white dress, his diamonds sparkling and his silky legs shimmering, Sandy Lane was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen.
Sandy raised the glass barrier separating them from the driver before he responded to Toby's outburst. 'In the first place, Mister, my name is Ashley, not Dude,' he said in Ashley's sweet voice. 'You got that?'
Toby nodded his head. He couldn't take his eyes off Sandy's legs.
'Next, you look like a bum. What kind of girl do you think I am? Go back inside and put on a sport coat, at least.'
'Uh, I don't have one.'
Sandy knew he was telling the truth. He lowered the partition and said to the driver, 'Could you please take a left up ahead and pull into that strip mall?' The driver complied, and he drove slowly until Sandy told him to stop in front of a Salvation Army thrift store that he and Toby used to frequent.
'Get in there and find yourself a jacket. Some shoes would be nice, too.'
'Don't you want to help pick them out?'
'Ashley Vaughn wouldn't be caught dead in there.'
Toby returned ten minutes later, carrying a shoe box and wearing an electric blue blazer that appeared to be a distant member of the polyester family. Sandy was doing a slow burn as Toby opened the old shoebox and stuffed his feet into a pair of maroon alligator wingtips. 'What's eating you?' Toby finally asked.
'I was a fool to ask you to do this,' Sandy fumed. 'You look like a beach bum.'
'I am a beach bum. And so were you, before you found your inner woman. Who's shitting who?'
They rode in silence through West**** towards the Beverly Hilton, where the awards dinner was to take place. When Sandy spoke again, he had a pleading look in his eyes. 'I'm sorry, Toby. I know I'm freaking out. Do you have any idea what I had to go through to look like this?'
'I can't imagine.'
'I spent two hours in a beauty salon this morning, and another two hours putting myself together at Ashley's place. My dick is numb, my feet are killing me, and in less than an hour I've got to get up in front of a national television audience and pretend that I'm a girl.'
'You won't have any trouble, Dude.'
'All it takes is one little slip-up, and Ashley will be kicked off the series, and take me with her.'
'What can I do to help?'
'Try treating me like a lady.'
And so he did, holding Sandy's hand as he helped him out of the limo, leading the way into the International Ballroom with Sandy on his arm, pulling back Sandy's chair when they sat down at their dinner table, and making sure that none of the unattached guys got close enough to Sandy to do any damage. With Toby running interference, Sandy was able to pull off Ashley's assignment without a hitch, reading the names of the nominees for some obscure award before retreating back to their table.
And it turned out that Toby, with his bleached blonde hair and golden tan, was a bit of a sensation himself, in stark contrast to the dandies and wannabies who accompanied most of the single women. While Sandy was up at the podium reading Ashley's lines, three women slipped him notes with their names and phone numbers.
* * *
It was all too perfect to last, of course. Come August, they were back to the daily grind of scripts, makeup, costumes, and more scripts. Toby had a few walk-on appearances on Wet Girls, but he got bored hanging around the set, and finally took off for the north shore of Oahu for the big wave season. Sandy was devastated to see him leave. Ashley consoled him as best she could, but she could sense that he was beginning to miss the freedom he had taken for granted when he was a guy. Their nights together in Holly**** Hills and Redondo Beach became fewer and farther in between, as they coped as best they could with the pressures of a network series, the conflict between their work and their relationship, and the added strain of living in a twilight zone between lovers and sisters.
One day, Sandy returned to his condo after an exhausting day of shooting and reshooting a surfing scene in Malibu. The waves were too small, and when they finally gave up and called it a day, Sandy was blue and shivering. He stood under a hot shower for ten minutes before he wrapped a fleece-lined robe around himself and went into the kitchen to heat up a can of soup. He dried his hair while it was warming up, and sat down in front of his computer after he wolfed it down.
Sandy subscribed to a web site for surfers. Through it he vicariously enjoyed his vanished freedom, and kept in touch with old friends and familiar places. He hadn't checked it out in several days, so he scrolled through the new items until he came across this:
SERVICES TOMORROW FOR TOBY GOODFIN: A waterman's memorial ceremony will be held at Swami's tomorrow for Cardiff legend Toby Goodfin, who was killed in a traffic accident on the Pala Highway last week.
Sandy was sick to his stomach as he scoured the web for more information. All he learned was that Toby Goodfin, age 25, died instantly after his Jeep Cherokee went over a cliff and plummeted two hundred feet into a ravine on Oahu. The services were scheduled for five o'clock the following day in the surfing community of Cardiff-by-the-Sea, a few hours south of Los Angeles.
Sandy was a zombie as he called Darla Palmer at home to tell her he would not be coming in tomorrow. She remembered Toby, told Sandy how sorry she was, and assured him that they would rework the schedule to shoot around him. Then he called Ashley, who burst into tears when he broke the news.
* * *
A beautiful girl in a black dress stood alone on Swami's beach while over thirty surfers sat on their boards and joined hands beyond the shore break, forming a circle fifty yards offshore. She watched as they spread flowers on the water, and said prayers for Toby Goodfin. She wanted to be with them, but somehow she could not bring herself to put on her powder blue wetsuit and hold hands with her old friends while Toby's ashes were committed to the waves. So she stood alone, her bare feet caked with wet sand as she cried over her lost friend.
She was standing beside her Audi convertible in the parking lot when the participants climbed up the steep steps and started heading for their cars. Two of them started to strap their surfboards onto the roof of the Toyota parked next to her Audi, and she lowered her head to avoid making eye contact with them. 'Are you sure about this?' one of them was saying.
'Damn sure. That was no accident.' It was Brad Jeffries, a surfer from Encinitas who had once traveled to Costa Rica with Toby Goodfin and Sandy Lane.
The girl put on her sunglasses before she approached them. 'I'm sorry, but I couldn't help overhear what you were saying. How do you know it wasn't an accident?'
Brad looked her over as he fastened a bungie cord to his surfboard. 'Did you know Toby?'
'Yes. We were very close.'
'Look, all I know is what I hear.'
'What do you hear?'
'Everybody knew that Buster Cruz vowed to waste Toby and some girl who trashed him this summer at Moondoggies in Malibu. This guy I know was sitting next to Buster at a bar on the north shore the night Toby went over the side on the Pala Highway. When somebody came in and said that Toby Goodfin just got killed, Buster had this ****-eating grin on his face. You tell me.'
* * *
That night, Sandy stopped at the Mission San Juan Capistrano to pray for his lost friend, and to seek forgiveness for what he had to do. In his black dress, he looked like a sad young widow, in mourning for her lost soul mate. In truth, he was mourning much more than a missing friend. He was mourning his forsaken manhood.
How could he have let Toby get caught up in his kinky life? Toby Goodfin was the sweetest, kindest person he had ever met. He couldn't even bring himself to eat meat or fish. And now he was dead at age twenty-five, all because Sandy had to mouth off to Buster Cruz.
He looked down at himself in despair. What the hell am I doing here, in a house of God, wearing a dress and pretending to be a woman? How did I ever get so fucked up?
At that moment, all he wanted to do was drive to the nearest beach, tear off his dress, and swim west until he drowned. But he knew he couldn't do that. According to the surfers he spoke to at Toby's funeral, Buster Cruz had vowed to kill both Toby and Ashley. Sandy would never forgive himself if anything happened to her. So he hung his head in prayer, asking forgiveness once again for what he had to do.
* * *
When Sandy told Ashley what he intended to do, she tried desperately to talk him out of it. She begged him to go to the police and tell them what he had learned. But the more she tried, the more stubborn he became. Although he was acting more and more like a woman, at the core he was still a man, and he was determined to protect his woman and redeem himself. She knew if she fought him on it, she was likely to lose him forever.
Ashley got passed over for the part in New York, which only added to the deep funk which hung over them as the television season ground on. The long Thanksgiving weekend was approaching, and Ashley was called on once again to make a command performance for the network. This time she had no excuse, and Sandy had his opportunity.
After shooting wrapped on Tuesday night, Sandy caught a late flight to Honolulu. For the first time in his life, he traveled to Hawaii without a quiver of surfboards. Instead, he brought with him two suitcases. One was full of skirts, dresses, lingerie and female incidentals. The other was filled with contents from his storage locker in the Valley.
He checked into the Royal Hawaiian early Wednesday morning, and spent part of that day in the back alleys of Honolulu, dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt, with a floppy hat pulled down over his ears and a pair of over-sized sunglasses covering most of his face. He was carrying a lot of cash, but he looked like a man, and nobody hassled him. After he managed to purchase what he was looking for, he returned to the Royal Hawaiian and transformed himself back into a woman.
* * *
Buster Cruz was sitting alone at his customary table at Rosie's Café on the North Shore, eating a plate of enchiladas, when she walked into the restaurant. She had long dark hair, deep brown eyes, and if her miniskirt were any shorter, she could have been arrested. Every guy in the place was drooling as she walked over to Buster's table and pulled back a chair. Without waiting for an invitation, she sat down beside him and crossed her elegant legs.
'Are you Buster Cruz?' the stranger asked. She was all business
'The one and only,' he said. Buster was used to chicas coming on to him, but this woman was in a whole different league.
She produced a business card. 'I represent a major Holly**** studio. We're putting together a series to run head-to-head against Wet Girls.'
'That show sucks.' Buster had come to learn that Ashley Vaughn, the woman who humiliated him at Moondoggies, was in the cast, and he had unfinished business with her.
'I know, but their ratings are obscene. We're looking for some authentic surfers to put in our program.'
'Yes. We've followed your career, and I've seen some amazing footage of you surfing the Banzai Pipeline and Maverick's. That's why I flew all the way out here. We want you to star in our series.' She pulled a contract out of her shoulder bag and put it in front of him. 'Shooting starts in three weeks on the north shore. We're offering you $500,000 for the first season, with participation.'
Buster had enough experience with sponsors to know not to accept her first offer. He flipped through the contract, trying to conceal his excitement like a bad poker player. 'What's the name of the show?'
'It's going to be called Wet Dreams.'
* * *
They agreed to meet the following evening at her suite at the Halekulani. When he came to her door, she greeted him dressed in a negligee. The lights were low, and a table for two was set in the parlor, with flickering candles and an ice bucket holding a bottle of champagne. Loud Hawaiian music, with many drums, was playing on a stereo under the television set. Her suite was on the first floor, and the door to her terrace was shut with the curtains drawn.
'I hope my informality doesn't shock you,' she said as she closed the door behind him and bolted it shut. 'I suppose I've been in Holly**** too long.'
'I can handle it,' he said.
'Would you mind opening the champagne?'
'Why not?' Buster fumbled with the cork, trying to concentrate as she spread out her negligee and sat down on a pink loveseat. He found two fluted glasses and sat down next to her, filling them each to overflowing.
She giggled as she picked up a napkin and wiped the champagne off his pants. 'It looks like you're going to have to take these off to let them dry.'
Buster started to unfasten his belt. She turned away from him for a moment. 'Darn these contact lenses,' she said. When she turned back to face him, his trousers were off, and he wasn't wearing anything under them.
It took him a moment to realize that something had changed about her. It was dark in the room, and at first he couldn't put his finger on it. Then he realized. Her eyes were no longer brown. Before he could say anything, she reached up and pulled off her long brown wig, revealing a layered blonde shag.
He recognized her instantly. 'You little bitch, what is this? Your idea of a joke?'
She pulled a snub-nosed Beretta out from between the seat cushions and released the safety. Before Buster could react, she pulled the trigger and shot off the head of his penis. The shot was drowned out by the cascade of Hawaiian drums coming from the stereo.
Buster fell to his knees in shock, bleeding profusely and bellowing like a harpooned walrus. He looked up at her in a rage as she crouched down beside him and pointed the gun at his face. 'That was for Toby Goodfin,' she said. Then, in Sandy Lane's voice, 'This one's for me.' She pulled the trigger again and shot him through the nose. He recognized his killer a spit second before the bullet entered his brain.
She stood up and took off her negligee, revealing a string bikini. After wiping her fingerprints off the hot gun that Sandy Lane bought on the street the day before, she opened the door to her terrace and disappeared into the night.
* * *
Sandy Lane took a red-eye back to Los Angeles that evening. For the next two days, he kept a low profile, waiting for the police to catch up with him, and hoping that Ashley could provide the necessary cover.
They called Ashley's house on Sunday morning. An investigation was being conducted into a homicide in Hawaii. Ashley Vaughn's name had come up. Would she be able to meet with Detective Halani of the Honolulu Police Department that afternoon?
She was waiting for him when he arrived in the company of an L.A.P.D. lieutenant at three o'clock on Sunday afternoon. Detective Halani apologized for intruding on her weekend, and introduced Lieutenant Goering, who was assisting him with leads on the mainland.
She invited them into the small living room, and after they seated themselves on a yellow sofa, she sat down across from them on a matching loveseat. Dressed in white jeans and a blue top, she looked every inch the Holly**** star, and Lieutenant Goering asked her for an autograph for his teenage daughter to break the ice. She excused herself to fetch a poster of Pepper Reef on a surfboard, which she signed with a personal message to the lieutenant's daughter.
Finally Detective Halani cleared his throat and asked her if she had ever met Buster Cruz. She screwed up her face and thought fast. 'I remember him. He was creeping me out at Moondoggies last summer.'
'Had you ever met him before?'
'What happened that day at Moondoggies?'
Her mind raced. 'I was hanging out with a guy I met at the beach, and we were trying to leave when this big creep came on to me. We trash talked a little, and then we left.'
'We've spoken to a waitress who was there that day. She said things got pretty ugly.'
'She must not hang out with surfers much.'
'Did you ever see Buster Cruz again?'
'How about the guy you were with? What was his name?'
'Toby. Toby Goodfin.' She wiped a tear away from her eye.
'How well did you know him?'
'We were just friends.'
'Did you ever see him again?'
'He died a few months ago. Why are you asking me about him?' Another tear.
'Please, Miss Vaughn. If you will just bear with us for a few more minutes, we'll be finished.'
'We hung out a lot this summer, with other friends from the beach. I got to meet a lot of surfers from Wet Girls, and Toby was one of them.'
Lieutenant Goering spoke again. 'Did you just see him at the beach?'
How much did they know? 'One night I needed an escort for a big do at the Beverly Hilton, and Toby volunteered. He cleaned up real nice.' She started to cry.
'I'm sorry,' the detective said. 'Do you need a minute?'
'I'll be okay.'
Lieutenant Goering picked up the questioning. 'Are you sure you never saw Buster Cruz again?'
'Positive. What happened to him?'
'He was shot to death in a hotel room on Waikiki Thursday night.'
'Do you have any idea who might have done this to him?'
'No. I only met him once in my life, but I'll say this. He was a total *******, and it doesn't surprise me that somebody shot him.'
'Did you know that he was implicated in the death of Toby Goodfin?'
She gasped. 'What do you mean? Toby died in a car accident.'
'Since Mr. Cruz's death, some witnesses have come forward and told us that he was overheard threatening to kill you and Toby Goodfin after your run-in with him in Malibu.'
Her face turned white. 'Kill us?'
'That's right. And we've reopened the investigation into Toby Goodfin's death. It appears that it might not have been an accident.'
'On closer examination, it seems that the brakes on his car may have been tampered with.'
She started to cry again, real sobs this time, and the men waited until she composed herself. 'I'm sorry,' she said. 'This is all so unbelievable.'
'Where were you on Thursday?' Detective Halani asked gently.
'In New York.'
'Can you prove that?'
She got up and walked over to the television set. There was a tape sitting on top of the VCR next to it. She inserted the tape, picked up the remote, and returned to her place on the loveseat. They watched as the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade came on the screen. There was Pepper Reef, riding down Broadway in a vintage ****y, waving gaily to the crowd on Herald Square.
'I don't think we have any more questions,' Lieutenant Goering said as they got up to leave. 'Talk about the perfect alibi.'
She showed them out, and then returned to the loveseat, utterly drained of emotion. She sat there for a long time, thinking about Sandy Lane. Would God forgive him for what he had become?
She didn't hear the car in the driveway, and she looked up in surprise when Ashley came in the front door, carrying a suitcase in one hand and a winter coat in the other.
'You're home early. How was New York?'