Part 2
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The Price of Perfection/Part Two

by Marlissa

The message had been clear and mysterious. "Have your purse. Call me to get it at 555-9832." Click. Was that an English accent?

Candy rubbed her head trying to remember. Her purse. Missing at Male Model's. Her i.d., her credit cards, her keys. The cab ride home. The doorman letting her in. Damn! She looked at the clock. Eleven in the morning. What a night! She suppressed a guilty smile as she thought of Male Model trying to explain to Porcupine Hair what happened last night.

She dialed the number. A deep baritone answered. "Yes, you have my purse?"

The voice was amused. "Yes, I do. Hope you don't mind-- that was how I got your number. You left it at Le Temps last night. I thought you should know. It's all here-- nothing's missing."

She was relieved. "Great. Let me dress--"

"Late night?" the cavernous voice queried.

She ignored the implication and hurried on. What a pain in the butt this whole thing was! "--and I'll be right over. Where are you?"

The voice gave her an address in a prestigious section of the city, not far from her own. She jotted it down and rang off. Only then did she realize he hadn't given her a name.

She was standing in front of the massive townhouse door, pleased she had dressed appropriately. She was in a full-tilt Donna Karan casual daysuit of navy and white polka dots, accented with a red silk scarf and wide brim black hat. Not her favorite California Girl look, but a good choice based on the stares of the tony inhabitants that passed her by. Candy walked up the steps to the massive, antique door. She had read somewhere that these old townhouses were built like mini-fortresses because the original owners back in the 1800s had feared riots might break out. This place looked like a fortress all right-- huge overarching twin towers stared down at her-- at least five stories tall. The structure was dark, Gothic even, if that was possible in the heart of luxury skyscraper central. She looked for a bell and pushed it.

Footsteps, then the huge double door creaking open. It was the bearded man who she had seen last night at Le Temps! He gestured her inside. The gloomy interior was less than inviting but she needed her purse. She followed.

"Come in. I apologize for my tardiness. I am currently without a maid. Good help is so hard to find-- trite but true," he stated flatly.

"I saw you last night," she offered as she took the proffered Queen Anne chair. The parlor was dusty and unused, furnished with heavy stained wood furniture and bizarre knick-knacks. It was like the Addams Family had decorated the place. The sun barely penetrated the deep purple velvet of the sash drapes. A black and white photo on the finely wrought mantle showed two men shaking hands. M was one, but the other figure's face was hidden by a chunky silver candlestick, man or woman she couldn't make out. Though it was all done in a dry, dark antique style, the furnishings were sumptuous and very costly.

Her host nodded. "And I you. What a pretty girl to be vamping about in such a naughty place!" He uttered the words like some superior being from another age. In fact, she guessed he was forty, forty-five tops, powerfully built with tunnel-deep set eyes. He examined her openly, from head to toe. Where was her resolve to get her purse and get the hell out of here?

"Look," she interrupted the dead silence, "can I please have my purse, Mr....?"

He smiled, his dark deep-set eyes laughing at his guest. "Just call me M. It's a nickname, if you like. Just call me that till we get better acquainted."

Candy blinked. " about handing over my purse?" She watched as he pulled it from behind the chair and opened it.

"Hey, that's private!" Candy protested.

M reached into the purse, pulling out a condom package. He shook his head. "Very, very naughty. And what is this?" he demanded, wryly presenting Candy with a license. "Charles Dane? THE Charles Dane? And here," he pulled out Candy's new i.d. "Candy Cane?" he spat dismissively. "Is the Wizard of Wall Street a 'she' now?"

Candy squirmed in her chair, looking at her expensive pumps not daring to say a word. Finally she looked quickly up, then back down. Damn his eyes-- they bored into her! "Yeah, well, that's what happened. It's none of your business. If you don't like it, tooo goddamn bad." Her high-pitched voice made her sound sulky rather than furious.

M leaned back. "Please don't be offended, Miss Cane-- oh, I'm sorry but I can't abide that 'Candy'-- how dreadfully tacky!" he lamented. Before she could protest again, he smiled at her. Candy thought it was like the smile the spider gives its prey as it spins the web around it. "Now, don't think I'm offended by your transformation. In fact, it suits you well. I find creatures such as yourself fascinating in the extreme. I've had more than a few dalliances with stunning things like yourself. I like favor them to genetic women, in fact."

She didn't like being referred to as a 'creature,' but she did appreciate the kind words. "Why is that? Is that why you filched my purse?"

He nodded slowly. "A little larceny on my part. You'll have to forgive me, but I had you spotted at once. Don't be upset-- no one but I picked up on it and then only because, as I've said, I've had some experience in the area. I'm sure your new boyfriend was in for quite a shock when you revealed yourself."

The boy-girl patted her skirt down kittenishly. "Let's say he had a mouthful on the subject before the night was over."

M chuckled warmly. "So you forced yourself on him. How amusing to think a pretty, delicate thing like you could be so devious as to force yourself on a virile red-blooded male! Never had I had that experience-- nor will I, I promise you! Anyway, I adore androgynous playmates like you."

"More than real girls?" Candy asked. Her big blues batted at M now, fascinated by the revelation.

Candy's mysterious host crossed his ankles, resting them on the footstool comfortably. "Indeed. What discipline does it take for a so-called 'real girl' to be feminine? Why very little! They are to be congratulated and admired for their femininity as much as the sun should be congratulated for rising each day-- it is it's nature. But," he grinned hungrily, "creatures like you must work hard indeed. You must have the commitment and the dream to achieve feminine perfection-- and you must be willing to pay the price."

Candy leaned back, somewhat mollified. "So you won't tell anyone about me, will you M?"

M shook his head. "No, I promise. And my word is a solemn pledge, I assure you Miss Cane. Your secret is safe with me-- in exchange for a request."

She eyed him narrowly. "What?" she demanded, unsure of his motives.

He stretched out his arms. "Allow me an evening's dinner with you. As you can see I am intrigued with you and regardless of your rather flamboyant appearance and ludicrous new name, I find your essential femininity quite appealing." He cleared his throat. It was a startling rumble. "I paid you a compliment," he informed her impatiently. The deep eyes roved shark-like over the seated guest.

She felt his eyes reached into her blouse and ravish her body. It was at once annoying and mildly exciting. "Thank you. And if I go out with you, you'll keep my secret to yourself?" The last thing Candy wanted was press. Anonymity was crucial to her new, free-wheeling lifestyle. M nodded again and she stood up.

"Fine. Tonight for drinks and dancing at the Hot Tub." As she turned to leave, he coughed.

"No. You will dine with me here tonight. We will not go out in public," he informed her.

She looked at him again. Damn! He wasn't budging and his eyes stayed locked on hers. Again, she blinked. "All right, all right. I'll be here--"

"At eight," he finished.


And she was. She appeared at the door promptly at eight. She was getting the feeling that he didn't allow for much deviation from his plans. She was dressed rather conservatively in a little black cocktail dress, her blowsy blonde hair combed back and less wild than usual. Just a mild trace of red lipstick and rouge with a hint of Excite! perfume gave her a subdued yet womanly glow. Single pearl studs on her earlobes and simple black flats completed the striped down version of Candy Cane. And if M thought he was getting lucky tonight, he had another thing coming. Tonight Candy did wear black pantyhose over a simple black cotton Cross-Your-Heart bra and full-cut black panties. Candy wasn't out to seduce tonight-- it was all about getting this oddball of her back. Get in, get out that was the rule.

He met her, dressed in casual black turtleneck and olive trousers. "Good evening Miss Cane. You look more fetching than you did earlier today. Not perfect yet, but better."

She ignored the discourtesy. Who was he that he thought he could speak to her that way? She let it pass and sat down.

He shook his head. "You don't have time to sit, my dear. Dinner is waiting for you to prepare. The kitchen is that way." He pointed down a candle-lit hallway to the far recess of the townhouse.

She looked at him in amazement. "You want me to cook you dinner?"

He shrugged. "I'd hate to have to call the Journal, wouldn't I? I find it extremely exciting to have a woman wait on me. Do indulge me."

Candy was ready to walk out. The only thing that kept her there was the fact the she was getting into the way he looked at her-- like she was some kind of precious doll. Granted he was treating her with absolutely no respect, but his eyes danced around her. It was still so new to be treated like a real woman that she couldn't resist it.

"Fine. Give me an hour." She trotted off dutifully to the kitchen. As she did, she could feel his eyes practically pinching her ass all the way there.


"Dinner was marvelous. You are a gifted cook, my dear."

Candy blushed. It was the first meal she had ever prepared for a man. She didn't know she had it in her, but the meal had been tasty. The compliment felt like a warm hug. "Thank you, M."

"Tell me, do you clean as well? I imagine you might make a wonderful little housewife for the right man, one who would be understanding of your...special situation."

Was he proposing marriage? She giggled. The wine was wonderful. "I'm not a Suzy Homemaker type M. More like a California surfer girl. You like those types?" She was thinking she could get into having this stuck-up guy do things for her.

He smirked. "I'm afraid I find the genre abhorrent Miss Cane."

"Oh, you think we're all airheads, huh?" she demanded indignantly. She was slurring slightly.

He shook his head. "Hardly. American women are far too bright for their own good. I believe your own IQ is 175-- too high by far. When given too much thinking to do, pretty things like you lose sight of their real purpose in life. You forget the very reason you are given beauty to begin with. The price of beauty, if you will."

"And what is that 'real purpose' for women M? Pray tell, hotshot. You've got me on the edge of my seat." She was furious and curious. How did he know what her IQ was?

M folded his hands and stared straight at her. She blinked and looked down. "To serve the superior gender. By cooking, by cleaning but most of all by servicing sexually."

Candy laughed. "Please return to the nineteenth century where you belong M! I've had enough. I'm leaving." She rose, patting down her skirt hurriedly as she did.

M rose too, pushing her down into her seat. "Sit down. I have been watching you for awhile and your performance last night was abysmal. It has convinced me that you are precisely what I want in one role in my life. A role you will be well-suited to once certain...alterations are made."

Candy was growing afraid. "What in the hell are you talking about?" she stammered. Suddenly it occurred to her that no one, not a single soul, knew she was here. Indeed, no one even knew about her new identity other than Dr. Slate. If anything happened, he would find out. He called every so often and he would check into any disappearance. The thought calmed her slightly.

M returned to his seat. Why didn't she bolt for the door? Because he wouldn't let her leave until he was through. He continued.

"You think you have freedom of action, freedom from want and freedom to choose your pleasures. You are wrong. It is all an illusion. You have no such freedoms. You are clay waiting to be molded into what I have already decided you should be. I have very definite ideas of how you may be of use to me-- very detailed ideas and plans. Your California Girl persona bores me. I have no need of such an independent personality, all brash and mouthy. Your beauty is as garish as your choice of clothing, your speech inappropriate as your attitude towards men. Yet the essential feminine being within has such potential to be sweet and submissive, respectful and ravishing, docile and delightful." He assessed her like a collector, then added with gravity, "Miss Cane, what I am saying is that you are imminently trainable. That is a compliment for a woman such as yourself."

The warm feeling that Candy had been accumulating seeped out of her. Creeping anger replaced it. "I'm not the one who gets trained, M. I do the training. Everyone knows the female holds the power, not the male." More confident, she continued. It was important that this creep knew what she was all about. "Just ask my stud from last night how easy I was to 'train,' you sicko!"

M wasn't riled in the least. It was as if Candy were a child who was disagreeing him. He remained firm and patient as he explained. "Miss Cane, the idea that you should manipulate males is laughable. The problem with your 'stud' as you put it was that he didn't properly remind you of your place. He was also looking for a one night stand. I have need of something entirely different in you."

Candy was too astounded to speak. Nor could she move. "And what would that be, you lunatic? A wife? A girlfriend? A squeeze?"

He ignored the jibe. "Hardly. A man such as myself is not suited for marriage. Marraige can only dilute one with compromises. Even relationships are a drain. No, what I need Miss Cane is something much less consuming, much more manageable. Are you familiar with Impatients?" he inquired, quickly changing the subject on Candy. She shook her head, clueless as to what he was getting at.

"Impatients," he rambled, "are pretty, if common, flowers that thrive in the dark, with little light or nurturing. What I need is the human equivalent of an Impatient-- someone I can keep with minimal effort that will amuse me without requiring any emotional investment. What I need is a doll. A pretty little French doll to play with. One that will obey me and do my every bidding."

Now she rose and prepared to storm out. Strangely he didn't move to hold her there. "You may go. I have learned what I needed to know about you. This interview is concluded. I will summon you when you have thought about your fate." He waved her away and she half-ran, half-sobbed her way out of the dark, dreary townhouse.

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