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Chapter One


When I got engaged to Maggie, seventeen years ago, and told her everything about myself, I hoped there was a chance of a wonderful understanding. But it didn’t work out that way. Maggie’s reaction was that nobody had truly loved me before and that cross-dressing had been my way of filling the void. With our marriage, she said, it would become a thing of the past. And I guess I believed her, so I purged my lovely clothes and precious wigs and for fifteen years I tried my hardest. But the longing never went away, only grew stronger with each passing year until I knew that Alison couldn’t be suppressed any more. But by this time Maggie was in therapy for clinical depression and our two lovely twin daughters were well into the teenage angst thing, so I knew that revealing Alison would have devastating effects, ones I could not inflict. So Alison came back, but never out of the closet. Alison could only exist in a hotel bedroom when I was out of town on business.

Unfortunately those opportunities didn’t happen very often. Alan and I are partners in a civil engineering consulting business in Ottawa. The way it works, I run the office and the design end of things while Alan is out of town a lot, checking works in progress and generating business. It goes smoothly and we’ve been quite successful. Alan and I are close friends as well as business partners. Over the years Alan’s wife, Barbara, and my Maggie have become almost like sisters, and of course their kids are friends with our kids. All of which is wonderful, except that for me trips out of town are few and far between, so Alison is usually only a dream.

And all that was very much in my mind one afternoon when – just after one of those walks down the corridor – my computer beeped. It was Alan, e-mailing from Toronto to tell me that the Berfield deal was finally firmed up. He was flying back to Ottawa that evening. Would I be able to drive down with him the next day to Albany, New York State, to sign the contract and stay over three nights to survey the site?

Would I ?