Under Cam’s guidance, I left Melon Chiffon with three bras and a random assortment of thongs and panties, the total cost of which we won’t speak of. Suffice it to say that if Cam hadn’t insisted I use her member points, I’d have left with one bra and no panties. We got lunch after that.
“So what’s your story?” Cam asked before munching on a fry. We were seated at a little round table in the middle of the food court, drowned out in the cacophony of a hundred plus people magnified beneath a vaulted ceiling.
I wiped my mouth on a napkin and hesitated. The question was innocent enough, but the answer to it was outstandingly personal. Although, considering how spectacularly personal we’d just gotten as total strangers in a fitting room, it was probably best to just be honest and lay it all out. Especially given that she, well, she still seemed to be into me! Not that I had expected to her fuck off after fucking me, but still.
“Well. I bloomed last night.”
“…What?” She stared at me for a second, her head tilted, her lips quirked into a quizzical little smile. “How old are you?”
“And you just bloomed yesterday? You’re shitting me.”
“I promise I’m not.”
“Pics or didn’t happen.”
I pulled up a photo on my phone from Christmas and held it out for her to see. It showed Skylar and a scrawny andi me in ugly matching tinsel sweaters, posing and flexing beneath a banner that read ’Welcome to the North Swole’. Cam squinted at it, tapped the screen to bring up the date it was taken, and then gaped, her eyes growing wide. I simply shrugged. “That was me up until about 8 o’clock yesterday. That’s why I didn’t know anything about bras.”
“Holy…” Cam’s face was a picture of shock as she looked at me. “I just thought you were making that up, or maybe you’d just healed up from a boob-job or something, but— you’re a new bloom? You’re in your blooming days?”
“Yup. First day as a, well, whatever I am,” I said with a touch of apology. She? He? Fuck if I knew. I’d gone from being neither to being both.
“So I’m your— I took your—” Cam sat back in her chair as if she’d been struck. “Oh my god! I-I’m so sorry, hun, god, I’m an idiot! I thought— wow. Wow, I’m an asshole. Ugh, and your first time was a quickie, oh my god.” She dropped her head into her hands.
“I mean, I thought it was pretty great.” I smiled sheepishly.
“No, I have to make this up to you. What else do you need? I’ll buy it for you.”
“No, what, I can’t just—” I started, but then she reached across the table and grabbed my hands, staring me dead in the eyes.
“Sure you can. Let’s go shopping. I’m serious.”
“I-I won’t be able to pay you back for a long time,” I said. “If at all.”
She let out an exasperated laugh. “Hun, you don’t NEED to pay me back. I’m paying YOU back. And you’re not imposing on me, so don’t even think it. I want to buy you clothes. I want to dress you up. No bloomer should have do to this stuff by themselves, that’s awful!”
“O-okay…” Tears burned at the corners of my eyes and my throat went tight, so I looked away and sucked on my soda instead of saying anything more. I mean, yes, technically what she did with me in Melon’s fitting room would be considered super unethical from a power-dynamics standpoint, but… I was an adult. I knew what was I doing— mostly. And I guess… I guess I just couldn’t understand why she was being so nice to me after the fact. She could’ve written me a check, washed her hands and peaced out, but no. She wanted to spend the day with me. She wanted to really help me out. She wanted to give me the kind of experience that girls were supposed to have with their mothers and sisters and friends. I wanted to be mad about it, but more than anything, I was touched.
“So um,” I said around the lump in my throat, “where should we start?”
She smiled brightly.
Our next stop after the food court was a big sprawling store called 'His&Mis’, and according to Cam, you could go in there and buy something for every member of your family and only spend about 100 bucks if you played your cards right. And boy was she right. As it turned out, the store was right in the middle of its Great Annual Summer Sale, and that meant that just about half of every department had been discounted and moved to the front for clearance.
The inside of the store was white, bright, and airy, and everywhere I looked the shops and shelves were full to bursting with red stickered items and pushy Karens. I checked an errant tag poking out of a rack of denim, and the slashed numbers made me so much more thankful that Cam was there to guide me. Suddenly, the thought of buying a whole new wardrobe seemed much less daunting. Cam must have seen the relief on my face, because she pushed a large shopping tote into my hand, grinned, and said, “if I had to guess by looking, I’d say you’re somewhere between a 6 and an 8, so if you see something you like, just grab both sizes.”
I smiled sheepishly. “What happened to small, medium, and large?”
“Not in this store, I’m afraid! It’s different everywhere, but you’ll learn.” She laughed merrily and touched my arm. It was a small thing, but it sent shivers of excitement up my middle nonetheless. I gulped.
“Gotcha. So look for 8’s and 6’s?”
“Well, your waist is definitely a 6, but that ass is a 10 if ever I saw one.” Then she winked and whirled away, a rounder of dresses having caught her attention. I snorted and laughed out loud despite myself.
About half an hour later, Cam waved me over to the fitting rooms, which was perfect timing. I’d filled my bag with one pair of jeans, one pair of twill joggers, one basic office ensemble in black, a couple of plain white button-ups, a hoodie, gym shorts, and a hodgepodge of basic tees and tanks. And if my head-math was correct, then all total would come out to around 100-120 dollars. Not bad! I was honestly proud of myself. All items that I needed and for basically a steal. I knew Cam would object to me paying her back, but I still didn’t want to rack up any more debt than was strictly necessary.
Cam on the other hand, seemed to have other ideas. I rejoined her at the fitting room entrance and gasped at her haul. At her feet were not one, but two shopping totes, filled to the top and spilling over with all kinds of colors, prints, and fabrics, and on top of that all sorts of hats, bags, and shoes besides. God, I didn’t even need shoes! My feet were more or less the same!
“What the— What’s all that?!” I gaped. She smiled sweetly and cocked her head.
“Oh? Well, I figured you’d fill your bag with all the practical shit, so I took the liberty of putting together some fun outfits.”
“Th-that’s—” I sputtered, hiding my shopping tote behind my legs.
She flashed me a winning grin. “I mean, am I wrong?”
My face went hot and I looked away. “No…”
“I thought so. Now let’s get you in these! Try out your stuff first and then I’ll start handing you the sets. Remember, I’m paying, so you can’t say no to letting me dress you!”
I sighed as she herded me into the room, but her energy was so infectious that I ended up smiling along anyway. “Okay, okay! Thanks again, Cam.”
The first of her ‘fun’ outfits was a pink baby-doll dress complete with a lace collar and puffy sleeves. Cam had completed the look with chunky black creepers, a little pleather purse, and a matching felt beret. I grimaced as I opened the curtain to show her.
“Cute, cute, cuuuuute~! And so hot, oh my god, I could eat you up.” She sighed dreamily, her eyes sparkling in the studio lighting. I pouted a little at my reflection in the big mirror. She wasn’t wrong, but…
“This uh, this really isn’t me though.”
“Aw, too frilly? Too girly?”
“Yeah. I just, I feel silly and uncomfortable in this.” I coughed. “It is cute though.”
She smiled. “Don’t worry, my feelings aren’t hurt. Try the next one!”
Outfit number two was possibly even more uncomfortable, but only because I had nowhere near the level of confidence needed to wear it outside. It was a tiny black dress with cutouts at the shoulders and cleavage, and open all down the back. The sleeves were long, but the hemline of the skirt barely covered my ass. To complete the look, Cam had me in thigh-high boots, a large, floppy black hat, and a sparkling silver clutch. She gasped when I opened the curtain, and I couldn’t help but hold my own breath at the sight of myself reflected in the big mirror.
“So fuckin’ sexy, holy shit yum.” Cam hugged herself as if suppressing a shiver. “Jaime, you are smoking, you have to keep that one.”
“But where would I ever wear this to?” I asked, more to myself than to her.
“Hun, we can figure that out later. Put it in the yes pile.”
The next three outfits I actually did like quite a bit, but decided to only keep pieces of, since they could more or less be recreated using the sale stuff that I had picked out earlier. A puffy jacket here, some moto leggings there, a cross-body satchel, and a pair of high-waisted shorts with buttons down the front.
But my favorite outfit was admittedly the last one, because Cam had somehow found the balance between the old me and my new self. It was a simple outfit; a denim overall dress with back and white striping down the sides, over a ribbed white crop top, a color blocked windbreaker, and matching chunky sneakers. It was casual, it was sporty, and it was fem, but not so fem that I felt self-conscious. I hadn’t even thought about buying any dresses today, but this was an outfit I could see myself going out in for any and no reason at all.
Cam smiled softly as she watched me turn around in the big mirror. “That you then, Jaime?”
“Yeah,” I said. “Thank you, Cam.”
“Awww! Don’t look all sad when you say that!” She jumped to her feet threw her arms around me in a tight hug, pressing her face against mine and holding her phone up above us. “Say cheese!”
“Cheeeese.” I smiled as she took the picture, then recoiled in horror as I recognized a familiar figure in the background of the photo. It took everything not to turn around and look at the other end of the fitting room, so I grabbed Cam’s hand and pulled her into the stall, shutting the curtain as quickly as I could behind us. Cam looked at me, her brows furrowing in confusion and concern.
“Jaime? What’s—” She began, but I shushed her with frantic hands and a harsh whisper.
“That selfie you just took. There’s someone in the background I think I know. Can I see it again?”
“Yeah, sure. Here,” she pulled up the image, and sure enough, at the front of the fitting room, sitting on a bench with his head back against the wall, was Sky. And standing in front of him with her back to the camera, was Devon. I let out a nervous laugh to keep from screaming. So close. If Sky had seen my face, he would have recognized me in an instant.
Cam followed my eye, and tilted her head. “Wait a minute. Isn’t that North Swole? You guys are friends right?”
“He’s my best friend since grade school. We also live together.” I rubbed at my temples, already dreading the next most logical question.
“Okaaay,” she said gently. “Why are we hiding then?”
“Because I—” I bit my lip, shame rising up to clog my throat. “I snapped at him the last time we talked. I stormed out. It-it’s a dumb story. And then I went and bloomed.”
“Oh fuck, so he doesn’t know?”
“No, and I’m not ready to have that conversation yet. Not like—” I gestured up and down my front. “Not like this.”
“Oh hun…” The look on her face said a thousand words, and all of them left me ashamed of myself.
“I know, I know.” I slid down to the floor and sat, hiding my face in my hands. “I have to see him sometime, but for now can we just… wait a bit?”
She cast a thoughtful smile my way.
“You know, if you’re really not ready to out yourself just yet, I do have an extra bed.”
I blinked at her. “You’d do that for me? I’m just a stranger!”
“A stranger that I’m pretty sure has no ill intentions, but if you do abuse my hospitality, I am prepared.”
She smiled devilishly. “Wouldn’t you like to know?”
I stared at her a moment, totally blown away by this ridiculous, kind, beautiful, probably insane woman that had just so happened to find me. I looked at her face, so sincere in her mischief, and I laughed. I laughed and laughed as a weight was lifted off of me.
“Yeah,” I said. “I would.”