The girls knew what they missed, and what their Moms missed to, and they had set out to find it. It was Laila, Anna and Therese and they were out hunting the mall.

"How about that one?" said Laila pointing to a man in his late twenties, well built and good looking.

The other girls shook their heads.

"To fat." Said Anna.

"Stupid." Said Therese.

As they walked around, searching for that perfect choice for their moms, something quite different was taking place at the other end of the town. In a small shop a red haired burly man was trying to force himself on a young boy who had fled under a table.

"Come out you little shit. Or I'll give you something real to cry for."

Adam refused, since he had run from the orphanage some months ago he had learnt about this kind of men the hard way. The orphanage they had dumped him in believed in a strict catholic upbringing seeing all nonconforming attitudes as coming from the devil.

And there the rod was seen as the superior instrument for teaching and correcting young men's misbehaviors. After his parents death in the car crash the state had sent him there, in waiting so to speak, for some suitable foster parents.

He had survived their beatings for three months, but as they told him repeatedly. "You're incorrigible." he had little hope for their beatings to end. He wasn't sure if he was incorrigible though. The only thing he was sure about was that he didn't want to get beaten any more.

So he had run away.

He had taken to the streets begging for his bread, and doing so he had lost track of the time too. It was either that or stealing, and after a few days sleeping in culverts, or wherever he could find a shelter, no one in his right mind allowed him into any store anyway. Had he been older or wiser he would have noticed how little people seemed to care for humanity when nobody was there to see them but as it was he just accepted it.

Most of the people that had showed him some compassion he found to have their own ulterior motives. As the man waiting for him now. This time he had been fooled by the promise of food and a place to sleep, but as quickly as the man had opened his little store, as quickly he had locked it behind him, forcing Adam to dive for cover under that table. Usually Adam was to smart to fall for that kind of promise, but hunger can make a fool out of us all.

At last the girls gave up on the mall. Pooling their resources they saw that they could afford a bus to the other mall. It was not that far to walk but they felt lazy. It was their favorite occupation, going to the mall and looking on things, window shopping.

Not that their parents was poor, rather the opposite. They were all well off but as the mothers tried their best to instill that workman's ethics in their girls they usually only got their weekly allowance, and not much more.

As they rode the bus they witnessed a small commotion taking place. There was a crowd standing around a shop with a man standing in front of a broken window, in vain trying to keep them off him.

"What was that." Asked Therese.

"Some gang making trouble." Said Anna, doing her best to sound world-wise and sophisticated. The next stop was the mall and as they went in they had already forgotten all about it starting to browse their various favorite shops. They had themselves a really fun time, trying to pick out the most suitable suitors for their moms, while window shopping.

And they were in a good mood as they, being their last task for the day, went into the gift shop to see if they could find something suitable for Laila's mother's upcoming birthday.

Therese had actually been correct in her assumptions for once. The shop was attacked by a gang, but not because they wanted to steal anything, they were quite satisfied with beating the burly man standing outside the smashed window to smithereens.

They had passed it when a small kid, no older than fifteen had came flying, right through the display window. Running, blood gushing from his wrist, as if hell itself had broke loose behind him. And looking in they had seen the man franticly trying to get his trousers up again. As the implications of what they had seen became clear they had reacted, and for once, some justice was done.

Yeah, I know, decency can come from the most unsuspected corners. And that is as far as we are going to concern ourselves with that unfortunate's destiny, we have more interesting things to do.

Adam was running, where he didn't know. Just as far as he could, nobody that saw him now, bloody, dirty and scared would have believed that he, just some half year ago, had been a normal kid no different from any other kid with parents to care for them. He had also cut himself badly as he jumped through the window.

It's mostly in the movies you will see people do such without harm, and the blood was flowing freely as he ran, pumping out with each step he took. He was quickly becoming dizzy, and looking around he saw a small fenced park with a few tables and chairs.

Running in he found a bush just near the entrance. Curling up into a small ball he tried to get his breath back, holding his right hand tight over his left wrist to stop the flow of blood.

As the girls came out from the gift shop they too went over to the park, they liked sitting there laughing and kidding each other, discussing boys, movies and clothes, and whatever else that took their fancy. As they were quite smart they had long ago realized that to spend their money on fast food was just going to make them fat.

And also that they had better food at home than there. So instead they used to make themselves Cuban sandwiches, you know, a long crusty roll split lengthwise, filled with meats and cheese and tomato, lettuce and condiments. As they sat there eating Anna thought she heard some one crying.

She wasn't sure though, the sound was so quiet, almost as if doing it in sleep. Thinking she had heard wrong she ignored it, until she heard the stomach growl.

"Gross." Said Therese looking accusingly at Laila.

"Hey, it wasn't me." Answered Laila defending herself.

Now both girls looked at Anna instead, but as she had stood up going to the bush immediately she heard the sound, and so confirming her suspicion, she missed their accusing eyes totally.

"Come," she called in a low voice. "but be quiet."

The girls looked confused at each other, finding Anna's behavior quite strange, but as they came they found the same thing as her. A young boy curled up, dusty streaks of tears on his white face, unconscious or sleeping? It was hard to tell, holding a bloodied wrist in his right hand.

"Is he dead?" asked Therese shocked.

Anna shook her head. Turning to the other she said.

"Therese, can you run over and see if you can get us some bandages? And Laila, would you get me my sandwich, and soda too?" Sitting down beside him, as quietly as she could.

As the girls run away she looked at him. 'He's so dirty', she thought as she looked at him, and it also looked as if he had cut himself badly. She wondered what had happened to get him to look like that. As Laila came back with her soda she decided to try to wake him up.

"Hey, how are you?"

He flew up instantly, hands curled up into fists, looking wildly around him as he prepared himself to start running again. Anna smiled at him, still sitting down.

"Here, you can take it." holding out her Cuban sandwich.

As Adam saw it his stomach growled again, and feeling embarrassed that the girls had seen him so scared he said.

"No thanks, I'm not hungry."

With his stomach saying otherwise, even louder.

Anna patted the ground. "Sit down, we're not dangerous."

Looking at them he felt inclined too agree. Two girls in his own age, nicely dressed, smiling sympathetically at him.

"I'm sorry. I had an accident." He tried to excuse himself as he longingly looked at her sandwich. "And you woke me." The last one almost accusingly.

The girls saw how his eyes followed the sandwich instead of them. That wasn't the way boys normally behaved around them. As they realized that he had to be as hungry as his stomach seemed to state, they looked at each other. Anna nodding in silent agreement broke her sandwich in two.

"Come on, share it with me." She said enticingly putting one half on the grass beside her as she started too munch on her own. Hearing her eat was more than Adam could take. Sitting down beside her, he wolfishly started to devour his half.

As Therese saw him she went to the table to get hers too, breaking it as she came back she wordlessly gave him half smiling at him. Adam started to relax. They were nice, not all kids were that cool.

More often than not he heard snide remarks instead, like "Get a bath frogwart." Snickering at him. Sometimes he had wanted to tell them that he would, if he could, but knowing that their next replies then would be even worse, he usually just walked away, not finding it worth the effort.

"Thanks."

He said it a little shyly, his hair falling down his eyes as he more sedately finished his second half. Now Therese was coming back too, with band aid and a bottle of water. As they started to fuss over his wrist he at last allowed himself to be commandeered to be taken care of.

After they had finished plastering him up he felt tired again, staring unseeingly out in space, and the girls who had found small slivers of glass in his wounds were now becoming more worried than ever about him. They moved some way apart starting to whisper with each other as Adam watched them, feeling strangely detached.

Naturally he wanted to live but life had slowly became just to complicated for him, and him running through a shop window somehow seemed to put a stop to it all. As if what dreams he now ever had nurtured, suddenly found them dispersed in a void.

He just hoped that they would go away now and leave him alone so that he could find some place to finish it. He didn't feel desperate anymore. It was more as if this constant tiredness finally was taking its toll. And he missed his parents terribly. They had never accused him of being incorrigible, and they hadn't whipped him with a rod either. Or tried to abuse him? He just wasn't sure where he fitted anymore.

"I'm sorry mom, dad." He whispered. "Why did you leave me? Why couldn't I go with you?" Anna who had very god hearing, as we already noticed, heard those words too and, surprising both herself and her friends, she made her other independent decision for the evening.

She knew where her mom had the emergency stash, that sum that all smart mom's hide away for those unexpected circumstances. She went over to Adam who was sitting there staring into space, still lost in his memories.

"Come, you're coming home with me." She told him, not asking, just calmly informing how it would be.

As she took hold of his hand he found himself following her like an automaton indifferent to it all. Therese called a cab and with the girls surrounding him, making sure he couldn't run away, they finally got him into it riding home to Anna.

Her mother was away for the weekend so the girls would have the house to themselves for three days. They had their housekeeper coming regularly, but Anna's mother actually trusted her girl, and as her friends were quite mature for their age she had allowed them an extended sleepover.

While Anna paid of the cab Therese and Laila had their hands full up trying to keep Adam awake. He was acting indifferent to it all, almost like some zombie, thought Therese shuddering a little. He didn't seem to notice anything around him, as if he had fallen asleep standing.

As Anna came back to help them out they took him directly to the bathroom, but as Anna noticed his bedraggled condition she took command again.

"Help me get the clothes of him Laila." She said.

"Therese, can you fix him a bath?"

Said and done, It took them no time at all to get him undressed, the girls were if nothing else efficient. Seeing their first boy naked would at any other time have been quite exciting for them, but as they saw the old welts from the rod and all the other fights he had gotten himself into they quite forgot about it.

"Who did this?" Asked Therese as she carefully touched his back, feeling the old welt under her hand.

Adam woke up a little as he felt her hand so carefully touch him.

"The orphanage, I'm an incorrigible."

The girls stared at him. 'incorrigible?'

"Get your camera Anna, we need photos of this." Said Laila remembering how her mom had told her about abused kids and the importance of evidence.

Anna came back with her digital and they took lots of snaps of his back, and his whole body in fact, just to be sure that they didn't miss anything. And after finishing their photo-session Anna gently steered him down in the bath.

As the filth and the dried crusts of blood loosened up the water slowly started to color. The girls couldn't believe their eyes as they watched. A boy in their own age making the water flow a weak rose, looking like he was bleeding to death in Anna's mom's bathtub.

But Anna kept her cool, she had already expected that to happen. She took some more pictures before they helped him up. As he came up they saw that he was bleeding from his open cuts again, but at last the wounds were cleaner now.

Anna got a pair of pincers and wherever the girls saw something gleam in his wounds they carefully picked the fragment out. As they kept on he started to tell them about his last adventure, and when the girls finally realized what he had fled from Laila felt as if she wanted to throw up.

It was what her mothers used to warn her about, but she had never thought that the same could happen to a boy. As they finally understood which shop he was talking about they told him about the beating they had seen. Now, Adam wasn't a revengeful boy. Until now he had been all to preoccupied with surviving to have any time over for that, but the girls all saw the fleetingly small smile pass his face.

"You can't use those clothes Adam." Said Therese, looking at the trash that Adam had called clothes.

"We'll wash them for you. Anna, go and get your jammieses."

As Anna came back with them they dressed him, as carefully as they had undressed him. Finishing it with helping him to Anna's bed in her room. He felt asleep almost immediately, but not before deciding that this, had to be the nicest, most best smelling bed he ever had slept in.

The girls, who all had planed to use their sleeping bags anyway, as that was how they liked it, now heatedly started to discuss what they should do.

"We should go to the police." said Laila, feeling real mad.

"Yeah, and what do you think they do with a runaway?" Asked Therese.

"You're right Therese." Said Anna, trying to cool them down.

"They wouldn't listen to us, or to him."

"But, what can we do? We can't take care of him."

Anna looked at the bed and suddenly she took her third big decision.

"Yes we can. We have three days on us to make it work. Come on, give me some ideas?"

As they started to discuss it, and without knowing exactly when it happened, they found themselves suddenly agreeing on that they would keep him. At last allowing themselves a late pizza break, the girls came back up to the room with their pizzas, unsure if they should wake him or not.

And as they stood there, watching him sleep, you easily could have mistaken them for three young angels, not girls at all. Or maybe they would have reminded you of young mothers, watching their first born.

Seeing his deep sleep they decided to let him sleep on, as they continued to toss ideas at each other, but getting nowhere. It wasn't until Laila remarked how nice he had looked in Anna's pajamas that Anna got her truly bright, even if slightly weird, idea.

"You know, Mom wouldn't let me have a boy in my room, but, if we dressed him up?"

"Dressed him up?"

"Yeah, like a girl. She could be a relative to you Therese. Then I could ask mom if she could stay with me. You're always overcrowded anyway, ain't you?"

Therese nodded. She had a large Hispanic family, and even if her Mom was single it didn't mean she was alone. There was always relatives staying at her house and with Adams black hair?

"Yeah, and the summer vacation starts next week. We will have a whole summer to plan for what to do." Said Laila sounding as if those months were an eternity, and for a fifteen year old that just might be the truth too.

The girls smiled at each other, well pleased, until Therese hesitatingly asked.

"But, will he do it?"

As Adam woke up he found himself in a big bed in a strange bedroom. First he had thought that he was back home again, his memories some bad dream, but as he woke up for real he started to remember again.

But somehow it all seemed to finish with him eating a sandwich in a park. After that he had only a few vague memory's of going somewhere. At last it couldn't be that old guy, he thought as he looked at the room.

It was really a very nice room painted in a weak maroon color, with real paintings, mostly horses, and several small tables and cabinets in a weak pink.

He liked it, even if it was a little girly. As he sat up he saw three empty sleeping bags on the carpet.

Nervously he wondered how long it would take for the police to gather him up. Thinking about it he realized that he had to get away as fast as he could, if he wanted to keep his freedom.

He feared that orphanage more than he had feared anything. The others just tried to break his body but those people tried to break his soul. It was as if they had decided to make an example of him, but it worked just the other way. The more they beat him, the more stubborn he became.

As he stood there starting to search for his clothes, he for the first time realized that he was wearing a pajamas, something he hadn't done since third grade, and a pink one at that?

He couldn't make any sense of it and him being clean too? He wondered where he was, was it those girls in the park? But he had doubted that, their parent probably would have tossed him right out, or at the very least would have called the cops on him.

He couldn't find any of his clothes though, no matter how hard he searched. As the girls came back, having left him to fix themselves, and him, breakfast in bed they found him standing in front of Anna's cabinet, staring at her panties.

As Anna harrumphed he started to redden, closing the drawer hastily.

"I'm looking for my clothes?"

"In her drawer?" asked Therese who couldn't help smiling.

"Yeah, no! I was just trying to see where I was."

"In my drawer?" asked Anna flabbergasted, starting to blush.

"Shit, sorry. I mean I'm confused. I can't remember. I remember meeting you, Anna right? But after that everything is like a blur. Did your mom call the cops? How much time do I have? I need to leave."

As the girls realized just how confused he was Anna quietly took command again. Again she took command of the situation, taking hold of his hand and patting on the bed to make him sit down. As he sat down, not understanding why, as he really needed to get away, he saw the two other girls coming with a platter filled to the brim with fried eggs, ham, sandwiches, muesli and milk.

"Here Adam, we made you a breakfast." Laila told him smilingly as she took in his pink pajamas.

'It might just work' she reflected thoughtfully. He was no taller than them and with his long dark hair and slim figure? And as he started to eat Anna told him about what had happened since the park.

As he realized that the girls would be pretty much alone for the next three days he slowly started to relax. They graciously allowed him to finish his breakfast though, before starting to prod him for where he had planned to go. And as they pressed him, he at last had to admit that he didn't know. And hearing that Anna finally decided that the time had come for them to present their fiendishly clever master plan.

"You will stay with me." She said decisively, suddenly sounding very sure about him and herself.

Adam stared at her, stay with her?

"And what will your mom say about that?" he asked, not believing a word.

"Nothing, you're Therese's cousin from Canada. She has so many relatives that nobody can keep count." She answered, sounding even surer.

"There is one problem though." She admitted, still holding his hand, earnestly looking into his eyes.

"But, solvable. Right girls."

The other girls nodded happily, but refusing to meet his eyes.

Adam started to feel suspicious.

"And?"

"You have to dress up."

"I don't have any money Anna. I have a trust but that won't kick in until I'm eighteen."

"No, you don't need any money. We have all the clothes you need." Anna smiled at him happy that he took it so calmly.

"Like what? Tuxedos?" he asked once more doubting his hearing.

"Not that silly, show him Therese."

"We picked this for today." Chirped Therese as happy as Anna that he was so cool about it. Laying out a nice, summery, modest dress fitting for a young sophisticate.

He stared at it not understanding. The girls starting to feel worried.

"It's nice." promised Laila, trying her best to sound as assured as Anna.

"And the colors really suits you."

Suddenly he realized what it was they were planning for him. He looked at Anna.

"You mean? I can stay, but only as a girl?" he asked, sounding cooler than he felt.

"Yes, there is no way my mom will allow any boys to sleep with me." Anna patiently explained thinking 'wake up and smell the roses dude'

As the girls saw him starting to redden again, Anna realized that he really had woke up to smell the roses.

"With you? In the same room?"

"Yes, I have only one room, but the bed is large." Anna started to worry if he could be a little slow, hearing him parroting all she said.

As he looked at her he saw a nice looking smiling girl, the same length as him, with a few freckles surrounding a pert nose and twinkling dark blue eyes with her golden brown hair-mane flowing down her shoulders like a small waterfall.

Suddenly he wished nothing more than to lay down in her bed and to be allowed to sleep beside her. Anna on the other hand saw a little boy that she single-handedly had saved from the jaws of the hungry wolfs. After taking care of him yesterday she wasn't the only one seeing him that way either. She caressed his hand trying to calm him down as she explained in the same soothing voice.

"Let us take care of it Adam, you can stay here the whole summer, and we will have lots and lots of fun."

As Adam considered their offer, he weighted up dressing up as a girl against running scared, molested and hungry for a whole summer. And, the possibility of, maybe, having found a girl that liked him. And there were even rockstar's going for that androgyne look, wasn't there? Marilyn Manson was cool.

"Okay, I can try, but you'll have to show me. I'm not sure I can fool anyone, not for long anyway." He was after all, all said and done, a boy. Not a girl.

His face stood in full bloom as he gave in to their ideas, and he said it in a very low voice. But the girls found him adorable and in a flurry of activity they got him his matching pantyhose panties and even a slip and a bra. As stared at it confounded Anna decided to take command again.

"We will turn around so you can get on the underwear Adam, don't worry, remember that you have nothing we haven't seen before." Making him wanting to dive under the covers and hide forever.

But as they turned around he realized that if he wanted this to work he would have to play along. Sighing he pulled up the panties, but when coming to the pantyhose's he realized that he hadn't the slightest notion how one took on such. Defeated he asked.

"Anna, please, could you help me?"

The other girls looked enviously at Anna as she showed him the proper way of dressing as a girl. And after he had finished the girls asked him to twirl for them a few times, making him feel outright disgusted, but they just ignored his tender feelings instead starting to discuss what more they needed to fix.

"His hair, it's too boyish. Therese, can you do anything to it?"

Therese just smiled. "You have lovely hair Adam. I will fix it up so that even your mom . ."

Seeing how Adam suddenly lost his smile she remembered that he didn't have any parents. Going over to hug him she whispered.

"I'm sorry. But it will be nice. Don't feel bad."

Adam felt totally overwhelmed as they started his makeover for real, everything was happening so fast now. First Therese cutting and fixing his hair, Laila fixing his makeup ignoring what weak protests he tried to make. It all happening at the same time as Anna was doing his nails, the girls working together like some well oiled machine.

"You don't need much at all Adam. You have very nice skin, and your eyelashes are worth dying for." Complimented Laila in her most earnest voice as she saw him starting to twitch nervously, on the edge of giving it all up as a sick joke.

He had to smile at that, and the coup de resistance came as Anna gave him a pair of red pointy shoes with heels.

"They are low heels Adam, but you really need to get used to them before mom comes home. Lucky for us that you and I have the same size."

After fussing and mothering him to a degree where he started to fear for his sanity they at last led him to Anna's large door mirror, sternly instructing him not to peek until they told him.

"Ta daa, girl. Have a look."

And as he looked he couldn't believe his eyes, instead of him there was a young, rather pretty girl, furiously blushing in the front of him. And Anna finally started to feel happy too. She seriously doubted that her mother would be able to see through Adams new camouflage. She turned to the others, triumphant laughter bubbling in her voice as she suggested.

"What do you say. Should we invite our new girlfriend for some icecream?"

"Yaayyy."

And it was as they sat around the table in the kitchen their first obstacle arrived. It was Angela their housekeeper that showed up, surprising them all.

"Hi girls, Don't you believe it. I forgot my new dress. And who are you my dear?" Curiously studying Adam.

He thought furiously, franticly, desperately searching for that perfect name when Anna jumped into the breach for him, smiling ever so sweetly as she said, cool as a cucumber.

"Angela, meet Amanda. Amanda, meet Angela. She's Therese's cousin, but we have agreed on her staying with me for the summer."

"Does you mother know Anna?"

"No, she just arrived, from Canada. She came last night and Therese's mother had no room for her, and yes, she's terribly shy."

As Angela looked at Amanda's beet red face she had to agree. It was plain obvious that the poor girl was shy. She gave her a friendly smile while nodding.

"Don't you worry Amanda. Big sister Anna will take care of you. And welcome to the family Amanda. Hope you like take away, considering the food Anna makes."

'Amanda' tried to smile back, saying almost inaudible. "Thank you, but no, I think I will try the sandwiches in that case."

Angela nodded briskly at them as she collected her dress.

"Gotta go, times a'flying. Take care now girls" Waving a cheerful god bye as she left, as quickly as she had arrived.

"Way to go girl." Said Laila admiringly.

"You were so cool Adam, oh sorry, Amanda. How do you like your new name?"

He's mine now thought Anna. Feeling as motherly as only a fifteen year old could, her heart swelling with pride at the sight of her clever baby. I named her, not my friends, me!

And Therese, who still hadn't gotten over how easy it had been to make Adam up as a girl, listened to them deeply fascinated. They had created their very own Amanda and, yes, they had her for the whole summer in fact.

She had the same smile on her face as Felix the cat could have had, you know, just after getting his first canary. You could almost see the small yellow feather whirling down as she delicately coughed.

"So nice." She mumbled, distractedly studying the roof. "And mine, all mine." While smiling angelically at it.

Adam studied her nervously as he tried to feel what he thought about the name.

"Well I was thinking in the terms of Marilyn actually." he admitted finally, but as he saw their surprised expressions, belatedly realizing his mistake.

"No, not Marilyn Monroe, do you think I'm crazy?" wiping cold sweat of his brow as he continued a little calmer.

"Marilyn Manson of course, But Amanda is cool too." Trying his best not to sound too disappointed.

"Group hug." Hollered Laila with them all falling on Amanda, hugging her.

Almost smothered under their soft warm bodies he suddenly realized what he had missed most of all. Not girls throwing themselves at him, but the hugging, hug and be hugged by someone that liked him for what he was.

Then he had to think some more, wondering who the hell he was those days, but as the girls kept holding him he at last gave up on thinking, surrendering to their embraces and warmth.

They trained him without mercy for two more days, showing him how to walk, sit and move. The worst problem they had was with his voice, but they agreed on letting him act shy for the time being, as whispers were easier than his real voice.

"Don't worry Amanda, it will come to you. Relax and enjoy."

The second day they were so satisfied with his progress that they took him to the mall. It scared the shit out of Adam who breathlessly waited for someone to holler. "Hey, that's a boy! In a girls dress, check out the jerk!"

But nothing happened and as the time ticked by he slowly started to feel more confident. They even had him try a new dress for them and then come out to mannequin it.

"It looks adorable on you Amanda." Said Therese, and Anna had to silently agree.

She wanted her baby to have it too. It was so, him, she thought admiringly. Having a contented, even if ever so slightly smug, smile on her face.

The first time Anna and Amanda shared their bed was the night after her mother had came home. She came home tired and sweaty, just wanting to have that long bath, and then jump to bed. It was the perfect time for a sneak attack and Anna knew it.

As she described Amanda's terrible situation Anna's mother studied her. She could see that the poor thing was shy, and confused too. It was almost as if she tried to hide behind Anna's back thought her mother bemused. And Anna seemed very protective of her, almost like a big sister.

"Yes, Amanda dear. You're welcome to stay as long as you like. One more or less won't make any difference. And you already like Anna, don't you?"

Amanda smiled back at her. Anna's mom reminded him of his own, the same age and the same way of making decisions immediately, but with grace and warmth.

"Thank you ma'am." He said in a low voice.

"Don't ma'am me child, call me Katrine."

"Yes Katrine."

She was frightfully shy Katrine noticed, but it would probably become better as they got to know each other. Leaving them to themselves she went for her bath and a bed.

The girls sat watching the dumbtube, Adam would really have like to watch some football, but he wasn't sure if it would fit in with the image of a young shy girl, so instead he followed her lead watching an old chickflick.

But it was compensated by Anna's nearness. Experimentally he leaned his head to rest on her shoulder, and noticing her smiling he relaxed there, breathing in that indefinable Anna aroma that seemed to seep out her pores. Somehow her smell relaxed him and made him feel safe. And being safe was a thing he had felt preciously little of lately.

As the evening went on they finally agreed on that it was time to go to bed. As they undressed he couldn't help peeking in the mirror. She was absolutely beautiful with small but well rounded breasts, proudly defying gravity and a bouncy bum reminding him of peaches, 'just perfect as that landing zone' he thought before succeeding in reining in his wayward thoughts again.

As he looked down he observed that he had the beginning of a problem, and, so had Anna too. She knew that he was peeking, but so was she. And she felt quite satisfied with the effect she had on him, but more than that it couldn't be. Her Mom did trust her to behave mature. Possibly she had just made the biggest mistake in her life not telling her, but as it was she had found herself having slight leeway in the matter. She would not give him up to the wolves, not even for her mom.

As they crawled in under the covers she heard him mumble something.

"What Amanda?"

"I said you're, you're the best that ever happened to me since my parents. And the others too of course." he hastily added, not wanting to give offence.

She smiled happily in the darkness, turning to look at him she said.

"I like you too baby." Hearing what she just said she blushed, thankful that the darkness hid it she added.

"Give me a good night hug now."

As he hugged her she could feel a certain part of him touching her leg, but to her surprise it felt quite natural.

'After all' she thought dreamingly as they lay there embracing, both as shy.

'It's only a hug, right?'

Somehow they seemed unable to go back to their original positions though, and as they at last felt asleep they still embraced, turned towards each other breathing in each others scent.

As Adam woke up the first thing he noticed was her eyes, like a infinitely deep blue well, gently exploring his.

"Slept well baby." she asked, not having to blush a bit this time.

He nodded, a little embarrassed under her gentle gaze, but as enthralled by her as she was by him.

"Yes Anna, do we really have to get up today?"

She laughed, admitting to herself that she felt much the same. She too wanted to stay in bed, but she knew that her mother would get irritated if they didn't come down to breakfast. Shaking her head at her mothers folly she helped Amanda to fix her hair, giving her a light kiss on her cheek when they had finished.

"If you need the bathroom you better hurry, my mom will be up any minute."

He rushed over, but as he was finishing he heard someone come, and as he flushed the handle turned down, the door opening. Looking in the mirror he saw Katrine standing behind him, dressed in nothing more than a sunny smile and her blue negligee.

"Sorry Amanda, didn't know you were in here. I'll just get my toothbrush, okay?"

Without waiting for his answer she glided past him, brushing against him on her way. As she left she looked over her shoulder, giving him yet another friendly smile. 'That poor girl, so frightfully shy' she thought again as she went to the guest bathroom instead to take care of her needs.

Perhaps she should take them shopping? That would be fun, she had a lot of vacation to take out if she liked. Yes, she would take a vacation she decided. After all, she was the general manager of her firm, and Anna was growing so fast. She was more and more becoming a little lady, day by day.

As she started to brush her teeth she wistfully remembered her time with Anna's father. They had loved each other, and after his demise she hadn't felt like looking for someone else, throwing herself into working up their law firm instead. Now she owned one of the best law firms in the state, not the biggest, but one with a very good reputation, creating business mergers.

'I just wish she could meet someone like my Jake' she thought reminiscently. Suddenly missing him so hard that she wanted to cry, the feel of his hands on her body, the way he used to kiss her every morning whispering "good morning empress.".

As she finished her makeup she couldn't help wondering what it was that had made her think of him just now. They had lived a different but also very good life, with them both finding happiness in each other. But, on the other hand, maybe Anna was different from them although she doubted it. Both her and Anna were self assured, quick thinking personalities, used to commandeer others, not by force but by their sheer personality.

She and Jake had complemented each other perfectly. He a little withdrawn, almost cool to those that didn't know his terrible shyness, but with a mind as sharp as a diamond. He could be as intense as a laser when working as a lawyer. But coming home he retreated to his room almost to shy to venture out of it, well, before she had entered the picture at least.

She had first seen him as they went to the same law school, but it had taken her almost a whole term to find out that he actually lived next doors to her, and most of the next to make him trust her. And as she had learnt more about his up growth she had came to understand his shyness better. But even as both her and him had realized the reasons behind it, he didn't seem to care, finding his

safety in their love. After him she hadn't looked at another man.

To be like her was a curse as well as a blessing, most men finding her intimidating, some even overpowering. But it wasn't her intention to frighten anyone, it was just her nature. Her kinsfolk had born a long line of strong women and she expected Anna to be much the same.

Suddenly she realized what it was that reminded her of him. Amanda of course! She smiled to herself, her Jake and Anna's Amanda. 'Wonder if that is why Anna is so protective of her' she thought as she finished her makeup.

As they meet at breakfast Katrine saw the way the girls looked at each other. She couldn't help but smile, they seemed so infatuated. It made her remember her own friends and all the growing up they had done together, as she saw the eyes they gave each other. As long as she likes boys too there's no danger she mused to herself.

To be bi wasn't as bad as it had been in her youth but it was still not all that accepted, even if it seemed easier for a girl to be it than for a boy. 'Well, what's new about double standards' she thought slightly cynically. 'Maybe she should give her a talk about boys? Hell why not now. Would probably do both of them a ton of good' she thought smiling to herself.

"Anna?"

"Yes mom."

"Boys."

"Yes mom?"

"Do you like them?" Oh, what that Amanda could blush, she thought, not a little amused of her reaction.

"Yes mom."

"So have you meet someone special yet?"

As she saw her daughter hesitate she couldn't help feel a slight elation.

"Mom, I think I have. But I don't want to talk about him just now."

"Okay, and you Amanda? Have you meet someone special too perhaps?" no way Jose, she thought to herself, not that the girl missed any looks, but love craved a little more than that. Like an ability to make contact, to be able to tell that special one what she thought. But to her surprise Amanda nodded, still to shy to speak up.

"Oh, that's nice. So you both have someone special then."

Now the two girls looked at each other, Amanda blushing more than ever but holding Anna's eye in hers, as steady as a rock. And after a while Katrine saw that Anna too started to blush. That must be a first she thought. She couldn't remember having seen her daughter blush, not since she was a mere toddler at least.

"Qkay girls, today we're of shopping and I don't want to hear any complaints. I'm taking two weeks off starting today, and I want to spend it with you. Is that clear?"

"Fine by me mom." chirped Anna happily. "Shop'a'holics Ahoy."

"Amanda?"

"I'm sorry ma'am, Katrine. I'm a little low on cash."

"Oh, don't worry girl." Said Katrine smiling even wider.

"I got enough for a whole regiment."

As they finished the dishes Katrine suddenly realized why she had thought Amanda so familiar. She was wearing Anna's dress. So, she was low on cash then? not that the dress didn't fit, she thought as she studied the way the girl moved, flushing more and more under Katrine's stern eye.

Yes, she was quite adorable. Acting on an sudden impulse she swept her into her arms as she passed by.

"Here little one." She said giving her a kiss on her brow.

"Welcome to the family, stay as long as you want, you make my daughter happy."

As she held her she couldn't help notice how flat-chested the poor girl was. 'could that be why she's so shy' she wondered, bigger breast didn't make you a better person but it sure helped the menfolk think so.

"Don't worry, they will grow." She whispered in Amanda's ear before releasing her. And then she started to remember Jake again, her eyes becoming all misty.

"What is it mom." Asked Anna worried. "Why sad?"

"I was just thinking of your dad, love. I don't know why but somehow I haven't been able to stop thinking of him lately. Amanda reminds me of him in some ways. Jake was also, reserved."

She had almost said shy, but thankfully she had remembered not to make the poor girl even more embarrassed.

"You have to excuse me Amanda. Sometimes I miss him so much."

Amanda smiled at her, for once forgetting her shyness.

"Don't worry Katrine, you make me think of my mom. And I miss her too."

And there Amanda's eyes also seemed to become a little misty, but she perked up again soon enough.

"She would have liked you a lot Katrine, and so would my dad."

"Child are you saying that your parents are dead, both of them?"

Now Amanda couldn't hold back her tears as she wordlessly nodded.

"Why didn't you tell me before, Anna?" Katrine reprimanded her daughter.

"When did it happen child. Come here."

As Amanda hesitatingly came, she once more swept her in, just as a mother hen sweeps her chickens under her wings, with Amanda coming too.

"I'm sorry mom, but you didn't come home until yesterday." She murmured in Katrine's hair.

"It's okay sweetie, I just got upset. Well Amanda, I'll say it once more. You can stay here as long as you want, and all ours is yours too."

She looked down at them both, suddenly feeling a little suspicious.

"Is there anything more you would like to tell me? Anna?"

As he found himself held by Katrine he gave up on the charade. He couldn't mislead someone as nice as her. He tried to stop his tears, but the last three days had been an even worse emotional roller coaster than the whole year together. As he broke down she started to rock him.

"Shh child, you're here now. Nobody wants you any harm here."

As she held him he slowly got himself together.

"Katrine." He said releasing himself from her embrace.

"We, no I, I need to tell you something."

She looked at the girl, her suspicion getting sharper, after all, Amanda and Jake, so alike and yet unlike. She waited.

"I'm a, I'm a ."

"You're a boy, right." She asked, her hunch finally confirmed.

"That's why you're wearing Anna's clothes too, right."

He nodded as red as a beet.

"I'm truly very . " he lost the words momentarily, but looking at Anna he tried to smile.

"Your daughter just wanted to help, and she couldn't find another way. It's not her fault, it's mine. I just need my clothes back, then I'm out of your life."

He looked at her, his eyes already growing distant as he braced himself.

"I'll be okay. Anna, would you get me my clothes, please?"

Katrine thought she seldom had seen someone as forlorn looking as her daughter when she disappeared, just to come back with a bunch of newly washed, threadbare jeans and a jacket, both of them filled with small jagged cuts. It looked as someone had taken a knife to them, or a lot of knifes.

As she looked at the boy she could see him getting close to break down again.

"Don't be silly Amanda. Those clothes are for a scarecrow, not for you."

"No, they're mine. Mom bought that jacket the day before they. . Give them to me."

He almost dragged them out of Anna's unwilling hands as he run into the bathroom. They could hear how he turned on the water, probably so they wouldn't hear him cry guessed Katrine as she sternly watched her daughter cringe under her eyes.

"Mom, I love him." Said Anna at last.

"I don't want him to leave, ever. He's the best that ever happened to me."

She started to tell Adams story, and on her mothers request also went to get her the pictures she had taken of him. As Katrine looked at them she felt a helpless rage suffuse her again, she recognized the story all to well. No wonder her daughter didn't want him to leave. But that she had so little trust in her own Mom?

"But why didn't you say as it was Anna? Did you think I would throw him out?"

"No, Mom, I'm just afraid that they will take him away." And saying it Anna started to cry too.

As Adam heard her crying he woke up from the numbness threatening to take him over again.

He had came in ready to change his clothes, but as he saw the state they were in he realized that he couldn't go anywhere in those. They would only make him look like a scarecrow, just like Anna's mother had said.

Standing, staring into the despairing eyes of the girl inside the mirror he had felt a sudden compassion for her, as if she was someone else, someone that deserved a better life, and a better chance.

He looked at her a moment, wishing her well, as he turned around to look for the razor he had spotted earlier. So long ago, when everything had been so bright and he, for once, had felt totally and utterly happy.

As he found it he folded out the blade, vaguely wondering why Katrine needed one of those, it's whispery coldness already calling to him. He held it in his hand feeling its weight, waiting without thinking for his courage.

It was then he heard Anna starting to cry, loud and helplessly. He dropped the razor as he rushed at the door, throwing it open, prepared to fight whoever it was hurting his Anna. And as she saw him coming she ran to meet him, crying. As two magnets helplessly drawn too each other they meet, him trying to comfort her, she clinging to him, afraid that he just would be a wraith, a sliver of her imagination dissipating into the night.

As Katrine saw them she knew, once and for all, that her daughter was just like her, just as Adam was like how her Jake once had been. Brave and unselfish, terribly shy but caring. And seeing it she went over to them, taking them both into her embrace.

"No more foolishness now Adam, or Amanda. Both names suits you child. You will only leave us over our dead bodies, and I don't think you want that, do you?"

Adam shook his head, holding Anna with a strength born out of his desperation. And as Katrine witnessed her daughter holding him, just as strongly, back giving no care to if his hold hurt her, she realized that to separate those two would only bring shame to her household, and to her. Not that she had had nurtured any plans on doing so any which way.

And as she looked in through the opened door, seeing the razor gleaming with its blade open on the bathroom floor, she felt as if an angel just had tiptoed through the room. She knew that she never would forget the sight of it lying on that bathroom floor. With its blade so gleamingly alluring, unfolded as it ever so patiently waited, 'I can wait' it seemed to whisper to her, 'I can wait'.

Carefully leading them to the couch she sat down with them, hoping to talk some sense back into their thick heads.

"I want you both to listen now, carefully, you hear?" She said, trying to sound strict, her tears slowly falling.

"Amanda?"

"Yes ma'am."

"You will stay here. I don't want to hear a word more about any police, or about you planning to run away. You will break both our hearts if you do. Promise me."

"Yes Ma'am."

"That's not good enough Amanda. Release Anna now and look me in the eye. I want you to promise us both to stay here for as long as my Anna will live. And I've already told you that my name is Katrine, not ma'am."

Adam let go off his Anna, slowly and not without difficulty. Anna smiled at him teary eyed but brave, refusing to release her own hold though.

"Do you really want me to stay? But I lied to you." he asked feeling very unsure. But trying to look into her eyes as she had wanted him too, wondering if she was joking.

He felt as he had taken the full round through the wringer now. If a rabbit holding a pocket watch would have had run past him he wouldn't have lifted an eyebrow.

"Yes, I insist." Said Katrine, smiling slightly, as she watched how carefully he thread, trapaizing like a cat around a too hot fish stew, as he looked at her.

"I swear I will stay as long as Anna will live, on my Mom, and my Dad too." He stopped suddenly, as he had to swallow down the sudden sadness threatening to overwhelm him again.

"Better than that I can't do Ma'am, sorry, Katrine." Swallowing again, then remembering as he looked towards the toilet.

"And you was right Katrine, my clothes looked more suitable for a scarecrow."

"Good, and now you can go and get me the razor."

He stared at her speechlessly, how could she know about the razor? He went to get it, feeling a sick pain to his stomach as he realized how close he had been to doing something irrecoverable.

He came back with it, its blade still out shining wetly. Anna suddenly wanted to scream at him as the realization hit her, hating the mere sight of it. But Katrine frowned, smiling slightly as she shook her head, wordlessly telling her daughter to calm down and listen.

"This razor has a history children, not all razors do. This was Jake's once, so long ago Amanda, he was my husband. He used to call it his 'life insurance'. He had gone through some very bad and horrifying experiences as he grew up. And he told me that he kept it as his reminder of where that door was. But as we meet he found that he had no need for it any more, but we kept it just the same."

She nodded to herself remembering, looking down at her hand, holding it. Then she looked up again at Adam as she, in a low sad voice, said.

"And now you thought it was your door out too Amanda. But we will keep it children. And perhaps you two will decide to keep it after me. But the blade Amanda, that I want you to fold in once and for all. And let it be a reminder to you both, as it was to us, of how closely connected happiness and tragedy can be."

As Adam slowly felled in the blade he felt as if a yoke was lifted from his shoulders. And suddenly the day seemed brighter again. But Anna looked at him much worried, and turning to her Mom she begged her.

"Mom, we won't do anything foolish, but please, you have to let us stay together."

Katrine studied her daughter as if seeing her for the first time.

"I don't think I could stop you anyhow." she remarked, suddenly sounding weary.

"And if I made you swear we would all become miserable. But promise me this Anna, you talk to me before you do any, foolishness, there are things you need to think of, and know."

"Katrine." said Adam, trying to calm her worries. "We will wait. And we will speak with you before."

As she saw them both standing before her, hand in hand and sweet as apple pie, she helplessly started to laugh through her tears, suddenly feeling elated.

"Jake would have liked you Adam." She said.

"Go and make yourself ready now children. We're going to the mall today. After all ladies, today we belong to the madly popular 'Shop'a'holics' crowd."