Obession Part 1

by Greyscribbler

Not for those under 18 (or whatever the legal age for this sort of stuff is in your area). If you’re not that old, Boo! Go away now. If you are offended by graphic descriptions of sexual activities, especially non-consensual ones, then don’t read this. All characters and situations are fictional.
Copyright 2015 greyscribbler@yahoo.com
This story may be downloaded for personal archiving as long as this notice is retained.
This story inspired by “Inventory” by Window Dressee and “Celebrity Doll” by Johnsan, both of which can be found on LTBSA.

Melissa had the hood of her sweatshirt down, enjoying the early morning sun. It was still close enough to winter to be cold, but spring was trying to make its presence known and the graphic designer would take what sun she could get before being cooped up all day at work. Not that she hated what she did that much, if she was being honest she liked her job, but anything that made the early morning rush more bearable helped. As she wove through the crowd the young woman avoided the shadowed side of the busy street. The year might be turning but the cold would still be lingering in the lee of the buildings, the pavement slick with last night’s rain.

Few of the shops the young woman passed were open, inside she could see the shop assistants making ready for another day, Shutters and grills being raised, displays being checked and EFT terminals turned on. Their customers would come to the high street later. For now it was mostly full of people like her, hurrying to work. So that meant office workers and late running salespeople, the latter in smart uniforms, the former in suits, a mixture of skirts and pants for the women. Melissa wasn’t alone in casual clothes, but in her black leggings and hooded sweatshirt she was definitely in the minority. She never worried that much about her clothing, each morning grabbing whatever was clean. In her comfortable clothes and running shoes any gaps in the crowd were easy prey, the young woman deftly avoiding the coffee cups and mobile phones held in upraised arms.

Try as she might she couldn’t keep out of the shadows forever. Right now she was stuck waiting to cross the road, an office building towering over her. Blowing on her hands to warm them Melissa waited impatiently. No matter how much the delay annoyed her, she had to wait for the pedestrian lights, traffic too thick at this hour for her to risk trying to slip between the vehicles. The sounds and smells of the city surrounded her, sharp and slick, caffeine and engine fumes mingling with what passed for the freshness of a new day in the heart of the city. It wasn’t to everyone’s taste, but it told the graphic designer the city was alive and she loved it.

Finally the lights changed, the green signal letting Melissa hurry on her way. The people she slipped past hardly registered, nothing more than obstacles to be avoided. Out of the corner of her eye she saw a young man leaning against an alley wall, smoke curling from the cigarette he nervously raised and lowered. Briefly she wondered why he seemed so anxious, staring fixedly ahead. Perhaps he was heading for a job interview. The young woman thought that if he should worry about anything it was the chance of the smell clinging to his suit and whether the wall of the alley would stain his coat. She jinked around a woman in high heels and a narrow, knee-length, skirt, grateful for the ease of movement her running shoes allowed, wondering how the other woman managed. Even above the raucous noise of the city and its crowds Melissa could hear the tap of the woman’s heels. She didn’t need to see the fingers working the phone as the woman intently scanned whatever was on her tablet’s screen to know that here was another office worker.

Can’t blame her, Melissa thought I’m lucky work doesn’t have a strict dress code. Customers were something she rarely saw in her job, so her company didn’t care what she wore, as long as her designs kept the clients happy. Just one benefit of working in front of a computer all day. Another was that her job didn’t insist on a strict 9am start. Melissa wasn’t pushing through the hustling crowd because she was late. Even half an hour and her boss wouldn’t hassle her. Well, not too much.

The young woman quickly pulled out her own phone to check the time. She’d make work by 8.45. It was the same most days, give or take a few minutes. Sometimes she was later, if she had errands to run or just felt like sleeping in a bit, but she preferred to be early. The sooner she was there, the sooner she could start on the day’s work and the sooner she could finish it. Melissa blinked, running through a mental lists of her tasks for the day. Then she frowned, realising that something felt wrong.

It took her a moment to realise that she was no longer moving. Instead, she was standing in front of a shop window, peering at the display behind the glass. In most ways it was little different to a hundred other storefronts in the city, all prepped and ready to ensnare customers. The shop, which sold bridal ware, shared a building with a few other fashion outlets. It was a typical two storey whitewashed construction, decades old, the same as you’d find in so many high streets. The building’s front ran the length of the block, each shopfront reaching up to a decorative pointed gable. The window Melissa stood in front of looked newer than the building that housed it, probably the result of some refit. The glass pane was edged in shiny steel, the shop’s name prominently displayed above the window. Frosted white paint lined its upper corners, shapes of leaves and flowers lending it a modicum of individuality. Inside, three lights each at floor and ceiling level illuminated a lone mannequin.

Melissa’s frown deepened as she wondered why she had stopped. At her back people hurried on their way, the young woman only dimly aware of their reflections in the shop window, glanced at in snapshot. A man, dark suit, pale shirt, blue tie, briefcase in hand, anxious look on his face. A woman, sharp straight skirt and high heels, angrily berating someone through her mobile. A group of men in canvas shorts, heavy shirts, thick boots, working clothes. Two girls, younger than her by a couple of years stood by her side for a while. One was in leggings like Melissa’s and a grey stretch top, the other wore a white and cream shirt with embroidery running down the front and white jeans, tight over her toned legs.

“Wow, nice dress,” observed the one in jeans appreciatively.

“You want something like that?” her raven haired friend, Chinese by looks but not by accent, asked.

“Yeah, someday, why not?” replied the first, her blonde hair contrasting with her friend’s.

“Got someone in mind? Blake maybe?” the Chinese girl asked, obviously prying.

“Pfft, no way,” the blonde turned on her friend, punching her in the arm.

“Oww, that hurt.” The Chinese girl rubbed her arm, grimacing.

“I didn’t hit you that hard Tanya. But mention Blake again and I just might. Let’s go.” The blonde turned and sauntered off down the street, not waiting to see if her friend followed.

“Yeah, okay,” Tanya muttered as she headed after the blonde, still rubbing her arm.

Melissa shook herself, realising that she hadn’t moved the whole time she’d been listening to the two girls. This wasn’t like her, idly staring into space, she needed to get moving, get to work. She couldn’t understand why she was looking at the display, she was no window-shopper. Admittedly the wedding dress in the window was eye-catching, a vision in pale cream and white, taffeta and silk and lace, delicate embroidery covering the bodice. The skirt billowed out around the mannequin that wore it, the expensive material seeming to float in the air. The young woman had to admit it was one of the most beautiful dresses she had ever seen, even if the neckline was rather lower than anything she’d wear.

Not that she wanted something like that if she ever got married. Ha! That would take finding someone. Melissa knew that she’d want something much simpler. Something stylish, but still a normal dress. Definitely something she could wear more than once. Not like the vision in front of her. Which she was having more trouble than she could understand taking her eyes off. And it wasn’t just the dress that was eye-catching. The mannequin was unusual as well. It did have a typical pose, left arm bent to hold a bouquet, the right arm straight by its side, head turned to look slightly to the right. Beyond that...

Melissa’s eyes were drawn to the figure’s face. It wasn’t the blank anonymous look of so many mannequins. This figure had a proper face, features clear and distinct, almost enough to pass for a real person. That it was artificial was clear, the glassy-eyed stare leaving no room for doubt. Under the strong lighting Melissa could see that the surface of the model wasn’t real skin, it was too smooth and unblemished, the tone a little too shiny, almost pearlescent. But to Melissa, looking past that, the face seemed so real, she could almost believe there was a living person there, her golden hair, a wig Melissa supposed, beautifully curled and styled, ready for her wedding day. The face was pretty, beautiful even, in an artificial sort of way, delicate nose, high cheekbones above the smooth planes of its cheeks, the skin hard and faintly shining and the makeup thick, ruby red lipstick and dark eyeshadow. Even the mannequin’s figure was realistic, slim but still the dimensions a real woman might have. A young and beautiful one anyway.

The shop had obviously put a lot of effort into the display. The makeup wasn’t just the obvious, eyeshadow and lipstick. They’d even added contour and highlights, in just the right shades for her artificial skin, Melissa wondering if it was permanent or something the shop had to add. The jewellery was exquisite, matching earrings and bracelets and a gorgeous necklace. All were in silver, threads of the metal twining over each other, sapphires glowing from each piece, light sparkling from the blue gem nestled in the mannequin’s cleavage. The jewellery looked real to Melissa, but she didn’t think it could be, the gem on the necklace so large, scattering the light in dazzling patterns. She couldn’t imagine how much it would be worth if it was real. Reminds me of mine she thought, not that mine’s anywhere near that valuable. Unconsciously her hand reached for her chest, her fingers delicately brushing over the material underneath which lay a small blue-jewelled pendant that she’d been given for her birthday a few weeks back. She hadn’t worn the pendant before today, but this morning she’d reached for the silver chain and slipped it on.

The young woman leant towards the window, until her nose almost touched the glass. She could see the veins on the back of the figure’s hands, the faint blue tones surprising her. Every detail seemed perfect, from the realistic nails, painted in a shining hot pink, to the faint lines on the mannequin’s skin to the amazing detailing of her lips underneath the glossy, ruby-red, lipstick. Yet the figure had to be artificial, not some woman standing there pretending to be a mannequin. Her skin tone was too even, too flawless, too shiny to be real.

Melissa was sure that the figure wasn’t even as tall as the usual shop mannequins, not much taller than herself, and maybe not even that, if, like so many female mannequins, she was manufactured to stand on her tiptoes, ready for heels. Who knew what the mannequin had on under that skirt? Melissa supposed that it wore shoes and probably even underwear. If the shop had gone to the trouble to buy a mannequin like this, accessorise it as they had, she expected that they would go the whole way. Then she wondered why she even cared.

The young woman recalled walking past the shop dozens of times, she knew it sold wedding dresses and bridesmaids’ outfits. She even vaguely remembered the realism of the mannequins in its window, idly noted as she’d hurried past. But Melissa was sure that this display was new, that she’d remember if she’d seen it yesterday. It must have been something else, some other wedding dress, but she couldn’t remember what, or even if it had been the same mannequin. It didn’t concern her, wedding dresses not something she paid much attention to. But this one was special, its elegance breathtaking. Sighing, Melissa compared her reflection to the mannequin. Yes, she was pretty, her large blue eyes looking back at her from the glass pane, high cheekbones framing delicate features, her long raven hair falling to the middle of her back. But her leggings and hoodie, top pulled down to let her hair fall free, looked tatty next to the wedding dress and she never did use much in the way of makeup. She wasn’t sure why that concerned her, she didn’t want a wedding dress like that and what she had was much more practical. Finally she dragged herself away. Doesn’t hurt to look, she thought.

Which might be why she stopped again, at the window of the next shop. This one, at least, displayed garments much more suited to everyday wear, if not as casual as those Melissa wore. Three more mannequins, as life-like as the one next door, stood in the window. On the left, one with brunette hair almost as dark as Melissa’s, but cut in a short bob, clothed in a bone skirt suit, the hem ending just above the knees, the skirt itself straight and tight around her legs, a white blouse showing under the coat. A darker-skinned mannequin stood the middle wearing a navy blue dress, knee length and long sleeved, white pearls around her neck contrasting with her skin, her narrow, delicate face speaking of India. The third mannequin, on the right, was Chinese-looking, wearing a shorter dress, showing off her slim, shapely, legs, the sleeves of the dress ending above the elbows and hem reaching three-quarters of the way down her thighs. The dress was dark blue, almost black, with small white dots and a white cloth belt, tied at the side, the ends hanging down almost to the hem of the skirt. Melissa looked back and forth between the three mannequins. If they were real women she would have called them beautiful. She was surprised at the mix of races, the mannequins she was used to where either featureless or looked European. Well, kudos for inclusiveness I suppose. All the outfits were suitable for the office, or something vaguely formal. Not what she would wear, but, well, what would it hurt to look? Without any more hesitation, Melissa walked into the shop.

The sounds of the city faded away once she was inside, the rubber of her running shoes whispering across the tight-weave carpet that covered the shop’s floor. To her right she could see the service counter, an older, auburn-haired, woman waiting as her purchase was rung up. Inside the shop it was warmer than it had been outside, Melissa’s hoodie feeling heavy and uncomfortable. The décor was bright and cheerful and somewhat antiseptic, like every other high street clothing store she’d ever been in.

From near the door Melissa scanned the displays, racks of clothes, most of which she’d only wear if she absolutely had to. Her closet did hold some articles like them, but not many. The last time she’d worn any of those was to the interview for her current job, and that was over a year ago now. Melissa kept telling herself that she kept them in case she needed an outfit for something formal, but that never seemed to happen. She knew that these clothes were what many women wore every day. She saw enough of them on the streets, or when she met people from other firms. Hell, most of the women from work could shop here. It wasn’t what Melissa wanted though, too much trouble, difficult to relax in. They’d probably need heels to look any good and that was just too much, too hard to move anywhere in a hurry. The clothes just weren’t her.

Or maybe they were. The racks of clothes didn’t hold her, too many choices, no idea what they’d look like on her, not her style at all. But inside were more mannequins, fitted out in casual dresses or smart business wear. The figures were a mixture, some the typical anonymous forms, uniform in height and size. Others were like the ones in the window, individual, all trim and pretty and young. Something about those called to Melissa, their sophistication, their assurance, demanding her attention.

“Can I help you Miss?” Melissa started at the voice. Turning, she saw a woman maybe ten years older than her, mid to early thirties, her brunette hair pulled back tightly in a neat bun.

“Uh, no I’m fine, umm, Deborah,” Melissa replied, hurriedly taking advantage of the woman’s name tag, “I’m just looking.”

“Are you sure dear?” Deborah’s voice was cool and professional, matching the impression the mannequins gave. Her clothes were just as businesslike as her manner. Melissa guessed that they were either bought from the store or maybe even a uniform.

“I,” Melissa wanted to tell the woman no, wasn’t sure why she couldn’t.

“I think we can help you. Need something for work? Let me show you some things.” Deborah took Melissa by the arm and led her over to a rack of skirts.

“Sorry, no,” Melissa protested feebly.

“Come on dear, you’ll love it. How about this?” Deborah pulled out a skirt. It was beautiful, falling gracefully, the tailoring immaculate, the fabric flowing over Deborah’s hand as she showed it to Melissa. “Touch it.”

Cautiously Melissa reached out her hand. She thought the skirt must be wool, or a wool blend. Her hand glided over the expensive fabric, a wistful smile on her lips as she imagined it around her hips, warm and snug. “Of course, you’ll need a blouse, and the jacket that goes with it. The changing rooms are just over here. Come along.”

Melissa felt like a child as she was led between the racks of clothes, Deborah adding more than the blouse and jacket that she’d promised to the pile Melissa was collecting. The young woman was hardly aware she’d entered the changing room when she heard the door shut behind her.

I should just walk out, Melissa thought, then sighed. That would be rude. I’ll try on one lot and then just say no.

Quickly she slipped off her shoes and hoodie, then out of her leggings and long-sleeved top. Melissa grimaced as she looked in the mirror. Her underwear wasn’t that bad, but she knew it wasn’t really good enough to wear with the outfits Deborah had selected for her. Oh well, one more reason not to buy them, she thought, as she carefully put on the clothes. They slid on, brushing over her skin, the blouse is it silk? feeling almost like a second skin as it flowed over her. The skirt was tight, but not too tight, fitting over her hips as if it was made for her. I can’t, it’s not me.

Looking at herself in the mirror again Melissa’s objections melted away. She almost didn’t recognise the woman who peered back at her, she looked professional, she looked good. There was a cool resolve to her features that Melissa often felt but usually didn’t manage to show, people thinking she was a pushover, then being surprised when her determination made itself felt. The woman looking back at her wouldn’t take any nonsense, was, well, almost elegant in her self-assurance.

“How are you getting on dear?” Deborah called.

The veneer of sophistication crumbled as Melissa looked around uncertainly, wondering what to do “I, umm.” “Come out and let me see,” the older woman ordered.

“Oh yes,” Deborah cooed as Melissa turned in front of her, “it suits you so well. You’ll have to take those. Now go try the others.” Melissa wanted to say no, but somehow she couldn’t. Even so, it was with some surprise that she found herself leaving the store with three complete outfits. And that she was heading for the next shop, which sold lingerie, because Deborah had told her that she absolutely had to get underwear to match.

Melissa glanced around furtively as she entered the store, the décor and lighting slightly darker than its companion next door, large posters of impossibly beautiful models wearing skimpy lingerie adorning the walls. Melissa’s eyes were drawn to the mannequins displaying the store’s wares, wondering as she again saw a mix of anonymous and individual figures. All displayed underwear more risqué then she’d ever dared buy, let alone wear. The frills and the lace were too much for her. She was no prude, but she liked her underwear practical. She’d stretch it a bit if she was on a date, but the last of those was, well, longer ago than she wanted to admit. The slight wisps of fabric before her were something she could barely contemplate wearing in a honeymoon suite, let alone to work.

“Can I help you?” a young saleswoman chirped, her strawberry blonde hair bouncing around her face as she bounded over to Melissa.

“Um, I, I bought some new clothes and,” Melissa held up her hands, almost offering the bags containing her purchases to the girl, not knowing what else to do.

“And you need things to go with them. Let’s have a look.” The girl, Julia according to her name tag, took the bags and led Melissa to the back of the shop. Once there she placed the bags on the sales counter, bending over and peering in to gently examining the contents.

“New job?” Julia asked, looking up at Melissa.

“No, I, umm, just wanted a change,” the young woman shrugged helplessly, not understanding why she’d bought the clothes or why she was still here. It would so easy to leave the packages, hurry to work, mark it all off as a big mistake. Melissa did nothing, and couldn’t understand why.

Julia nodded, then smiled conspiratorially, “I understand. I think we have what you need.”

Soon Melissa found herself in another changing room, this time loaded with bras and panties and, she barely understood how, garter belts and stockings. This wasn’t her, she bought her underwear off the rack. She knew her size, just took what seemed comfortable at one of the big chains. She certainly didn’t look for things that were all lace and frills and so sheer and revealing.

“Put on one of the sets and I’ll get one of your new outfits.” Julia called.

Melissa swallowed. She realised that she’d have to strip off completely. Not something she usually did in a shop, but she didn’t see that she had any choice. Taking off her clothes and underwear, Melissa barely glanced at herself in the mirror, before reaching for some of the garments Julia had picked out, a white lacy bra, edged in frills and with a pink bow in the middle and matching high-cut silk panties. She had to admit the sensation of the material across her skin was amazing, so much better than the cotton she was used to. Without hesitation she put on the garter belt then reached for the garments that Julia was passing through the curtain.

Once dressed she couldn’t believe how wonderful she felt. She took a few minutes to pose in front of the mirror, moving from one position to the next, holding each one for a while, wondering if she looked as good as the three mannequins in the window of the other shop.

“Want to give me a look?”

Melissa walked out of the changing room, trying to hide a flutter of nervousness. She wasn’t used to being dressed like this. She felt great, one foot swinging easily in front of the other, then she stopped and slowly turned in front of the salesgirl, before coming to rest in a pose that she held for a some time. The young woman’s weight was on her right foot, left foot crossed behind and balancing on its toe. Her left arm dangled by her side, hand brushing the front of her leg while her right hand was on her waist, elbow thrust out to the side. Melissa didn’t realise it, but the pose mimicked that of one of the mannequins in the shop’s window.

“You look great,” Julia said at last, smiling, “how does it feel?”

“Umm, fine, really good,” Melissa replied, finally breaking her pose.

“Do you want to try the others?”

Melissa blinked. What was she doing here? Time had to be getting away. “No, I’ll, umm, I’ll take them, it’s okay.”

“Alright then,” Julia replied before heading to the counter to ring up the sales.

“Have you got shoes to go with them?” the salesgirl asked as she packed away the last of Melissa’s purchases.

Melissa sighed. She knew where she’d be heading next. “No, not really.” A visit to a shop down the road and she had a new pair of black three inch pumps. She wasn’t sure why, she’d never owned a shoe with a heel that high. She wasn’t sure how to walk in them, nowhere near as certain or fast as she was in her joggers. It was with relief that she put her familiar shoes back on.

In the office Melissa faced a barrage of questions about all the bags she was carrying. She was depressed that everyone seemed surprised that she’d bought clothes like that. Doesn’t anyone think I might want to look nice? A couple of the guys wanted her to model them then and there. Melissa turned them down flat, she wasn’t an object for them to leer at. They could wait until she decided to wear them to work, if she decided to wear them at all, which seemed a whole lot less like a good idea than it had back in the shops. And if any of the men got too far out of line, she’d slap them with sexual harassment. Now she had work to do, and she threw herself into it with her usual energy.

That night, back at her apartment, Melissa unpacked the bags, trying to understand why she’d bought them at all. Sighing, she told herself that they weren’t her, she’d probably never wear them and all she’d managed to do was put a major dent in her credit card.

Her reluctance to actually wear her new clothes didn’t stop Melissa looking at the mannequins in the shop windows as she passed them each day going to and from work and one Monday morning found her hesitating as she reached for her normal attire. Why not? Melissa asked herself, glancing at one of the new outfits, a black skirt and matching jacket, as it hung amongst the rest of her clothes. She slid into a set of the underwear she’d bought, black satin and delicate lace, the knickers high cut, the matching garter belt attached to stockings she couldn’t even remember Julia adding to her collection. A white blouse completed the outfit, her blue pendant shining as it lay against the fabric. Melissa took a moment to admire herself in the mirror after she’d dressed in her new clothes. Maybe she didn’t look quite as impressive as the mannequins, but she still thought she looked pretty good.

On her way through the city Melissa couldn’t hurry along as much she usually did, her heels stopping her darting in and out of the crowds, but she had to admit that she felt much more comfortable in her new clothes. At work she drew the looks she thought she might, some more pointed than others, but a few sharp words put her wayward colleagues in their place. Most of the women complimented her on her new look, and that felt nice. A few of the others darted her jealous glances, but she could live with that.

“What’s with the new look?” Fiona, the closest thing Melissa had to a friend at work, asked as they examined a design for a client.

“Just wanted a change,” Melissa shrugged.

“Bit more than just a change,” Fiona retorted sceptically, looking up and down as she took in Melissa’s new image.

“Does it matter that much?” Melissa bit back.

“Only if you’re worried about too many people looking at you.” Fiona teased. The other woman brushed a lock of her dirty blonde hair aside as she sniggered at her own jibe.

“Not my problem, and anyway I’m not the one whose jeans look like they’re painted on.” Melissa raised an eyebrow as she bluntly looked over the other woman’s denim-encased legs. The blonde knew that she had a good figure and didn’t mind dressing to make sure everyone else knew it as well.

“Hey, you’re the one with the love of leggings and these jeans cost me almost what I make in a week,” her friend protested.

“And these weren’t cheap either,” Melissa indicated her new outfit.

“The things we do for fashion,” Fiona sighed theatrically, hand raised to forehead. “But seriously, girl, you look good.”

“Thanks,” Melissa replied, looking away in embarrassment at the praise. Wanting to change the course of the conversation she added. “I think if we move the logo to the right a bit it will look more balanced, then lighten the background to make the text more readable.”

“Okay, let’s try it,” Julia agreed.

After that the day flew past, Melissa’s co-workers seeming to lose interest in, or at least stop commenting on when she could hear, her new look.

The next two days found Melissa wearing her other new outfits, but that left her with a dilemma. She’d gone through all the clothes she’d bought, but there were still two days left in the working week and she couldn’t bear the thought of going back to the clothes she used to wear. On Wednesday Melissa left work as early as she could, a quick plea to her boss and her more than adequate output for the day getting her out of the door. She hurried to the shops. For some reason she couldn’t name Melissa swept past shop after shop that sold clothes similar to those she had on, chain stores and independent boutiques all bypassed. She knew where she had to go. The one between the bridal wear shop and the lingerie boutique. Nowhere else would do. Finally reaching her destination Melissa hovered from rack to rack, trying to decide what to buy. She needed two more outfits, then she’d have one for each day of the week. That would be enough, she told herself, washing each weekend, drycleaning when it was needed, to have them ready each week. Maybe she’d get more in a few weeks, some extra blouses and underwear, but the hit on her credit card from two more outfits would be enough for now. She couldn’t decide what to get. Her eyes kept skipping back to the unusual mannequins, so beautiful, poised and still. Giving up on the racks she moved from one mannequin to another, staring up at the figures on their display bases. She stopped in front of a brunette mannequin, the figure seeming to stare off into the distance, a serene smile on her face. The model was beautiful, and just as lifelike as some of the other figures in the shop. Though Melissa was in no doubt that it was an artificial creation. The skin was too flawless, with an unnatural sheen that reflected the store’s fluorescent lights. And the mannequin held so still, unblinking, no rise and fall to her chest. Still, the realism of the figure fascinated Melissa. Time stood still as she gazed up into the figure’s face. Even around the eyes the detail was amazing, Melissa was sure she could see what looked like tear ducts. If she just stretched up and leant in a bit closer...

“I take it you like this one?” Deborah asked, Melissa jumping at the sound of the woman’s voice. She wasn’t sure if the saleswoman had meant the mannequin or its outfit. She has to mean the clothes, she couldn’t mean the mannequin.

Melissa forced herself to examine the figure’s outfit. The mannequin wore a grey woollen business jacket and skirt and a turquoise blouse. The jacket was a long cut, reaching almost as far down as the skirt did, the latter garment ending not far below mid-thigh. The blouse had wide lapels and was demurely buttoned up to not much below the model’s throat.

“Yes, it’s umm, nice.” Melissa thought that maybe she had the legs for it. She certainly wanted to try. “I didn’t see anything like it on the rack though.”

“Last one in stock,” Deborah smiled, “I think it’s your size though.”

Melissa’s eyebrows raised in surprise. She knew she had a good figure, but the mannequin’s waist was slimmer than hers, almost model thin. “No.” she protested.

“Shush,” Deborah said and smiled slyly, “let me show you something.” She turned the model around, the figure spinning until its pleasant smile was directed at the wall. Then the saleswoman reached under its jacket. “A few pins and you’d be surprised what size we can make it appear.”

Deborah waved to one of the other salesgirls, “Kathy, can you give me a hand? Now, let’s just get you down.” A dark skinned woman answered Deborah’s call. Melissa couldn’t help but notice how beautiful she was, like the strawberry blonde from the lingerie shop. Melissa wondered if everyone who worked in the three shops was that attractive. All the assistants she’d seen in them had been.

Together the two saleswomen eased the mannequin to the floor. The skirt was slipped down the figure’s legs and a few twists of her arms and the jacket and blouse were free.

“I thought their arms came off?” Melissa asked. Bending the mannequin’s arms had seemed the hard way to do it, but Melissa couldn’t see any obvious joints.

“Some do,” Deborah replied, “But these ones are a bit, hmm, bendy? A little bit harder to get the clothes on and off, but we can pose them however we like.”

Melissa stared at the naked figure, the mannequin having been wearing no underwear. She thought it was unfair to leave the poor thing standing there unclothed, but the mannequin didn’t seem to mind. Unlike her face, the rest of the mannequin’s body made it clear that she was artificial. Her breasts were nothing but lumps of plastic, beautifully shaped, but the only marks on them were faint raised points and painted circles of colour where the areola should be. Her crotch was perfectly smooth, as unmarked and shiny and reflective as the rest of her body. There was a graceful elegance to her pose that even naked left Melissa impressed.

Deborah took Melissa by the arm and led her to another mannequin, a tall blonde, her flaxen hair falling over her shoulders. The model wore a black pants suit, the lines of her lithe figure clear. It was stylish and the mannequin wore it well, hand on hip, one foot angled out to the side.

“I don’t know,” Melissa said. Something about the outfit felt wrong. She wasn’t sure what, feeling that she should like it. In some ways it was a more professional version of what she used to wear and maybe that was the problem. If she was making a change, she wanted to do it properly.

“Maybe you’re right,” Deborah agreed, leading Melissa through the displays, “how about this one?”

Melissa looked up at the next mannequin. Under arched eyebrows dark, almond-shaped, eyes stared into the distance, the merest hint of a smile on her full lips, the dusky skin and high cheekbones speaking of the middle-east. Thick dark hair was pushed back from the right shoulder but fell forward over the left. The figure was posed at attention, hands by her side, feet together, toes pointed in the three inch heels she wore. The blue skirt was tight around the figure’s hips, curving in slightly as it fell to where the hem brushed the tops of her knees. The matching jacket was tight around the model’s waist, flaring out over her hips, the sleeves reaching down to her wrists. Just a hint of padding showed at the shoulders. Three large buttons held the jacket closed, the neckline, a deep V running down from the mannequin’s neck, was edged in a wide ruffle of matching material. But little was revealed, as underneath the jacket was a white top which reached almost to her neck, her collar bones just showing. Melissa was entranced, it was just what she wanted.

“Let’s get it in your size.” Deborah said.

All Melissa did was nod, unable to take her eyes off the mannequin. She’d soon made her purchases and, with matching underwear from the shop next door, she was headed home. Thought not before Julia had made appreciative comments about her new outfits, the strawberry blonde again serving her.

On the weekend Melissa carefully washed her new clothes and underwear, those that she could wash at home that is. After carefully examining the rest of her new outfits only one seemed to need cleaning, and it was off to the dry-cleaners for it, along with the blouses that were dry-clean only. Melissa wouldn’t risk going against the instructions, the outfits were too important to her. She was in jeans and a casual top, long black sleeves and narrow black and white horizontal stripes, but that was alright, it was only the weekend. She wasn’t going anywhere important, it wasn’t as if anyone would see her. Melissa frowned a little at the last thought, pausing as she ironed her clothes. That in itself was something new, until recently most of her clothes worn straight form the washing. But the blouses were just too good, the delicate material like a breath of air on her skin, and Melissa knew that it would be wrong to wear them if they had any creases. So an iron, not cheap, the clothes deserved better than that, had added to the weight on her credit card. She shook her head at the thought that no-one would see her in her casual clothes. It wasn’t as if she was going to stay in all weekend. She’d already done some shopping and had other places to go. But somehow it didn’t seem important. There was a divide, obvious to her if to no-one else, between when it was important how she was seen and when it wasn’t.

Melissa hesitated, just for a moment, on Monday morning, a faint thought asking why she wanted to wear her new clothes. Her hand reached out. To the left were her old things, comfortable jeans, well-worn and familiar, leggings, casual tops and loose shirts, coats that she’d bought in second hand stores, or others that looked like she had. To the right, her new clothes calling out to her, memories of what they felt like pouring through her mind. In the end it was no contest, and Melissa left her apartment with one of her new skirts tight around her hips, revelling in the feel of the silk blouse caressing her skin, the stylish jacket unbuttoned. She knew her look, as she placed one high-heeled foot in front of the other, was sharp and professional.

The next day and the next Melissa had no hesitation in deciding what to wear. Every morning she slipped into her new clothes without thoughts of anything else. Jeans and tee-shirts and casual clothes became a thing of the past, at least at work. She drew appreciative looks, just as she’d known she would, but they didn’t bother her. Anything too annoying and an assured glare had the culprit creeping away.

“You’re really set on this new look,” Fiona remarked one day, leaning over the edge of Melissa’s cubicle, “it suits you.”

“Thanks,” Melissa replied, “but did you come by just to chat me up?”

“Oh please,” her co-worker laughed, “if I was going to do that, I’ve got better lines.”

“Sure you do,” Melissa agreed, laughing. She wasn’t gay, had never had any thoughts that way. And as far as she knew neither had Fiona. Didn’t stop them having a laugh.

“So if it’s not that what do you want?”

“Just wanted your idea on this poster,” Julia asked, showing Melissa the screen of the large tablet she held, “I’m sure I’ve almost got it, but it’s not quite there.” Melissa pursed her lips, considering the design. It looked good, almost finished and she wasn’t even sure why Fiona needed her help. But she could always offer a suggestion. “Yeah, I can see it. Now, how about you try...”

It was a good thirty minutes before Fiona was happy with the design and the blonde returned to her own workspace. But that was all part of Melissa’s job, not only creating her own designs but smoothing the rough edges off the work of her colleagues. Her boss knew how valuable she was, and it brought her extra bonuses. Which she needed right now, with how much she had been spending on clothes.

Melissa may have had enough new outfits to last the working week, but every time she passed the shops she’d stop for a while and look up at the mannequins on display. She’d be so still, gentle shallow breaths, not sure why she was just standing there. She’d even look at the figure in the window of the bridal shop. Though the mannequin changed almost as often as the dress that was displayed, the jewellery was usually the same, Melissa marvelling at the light reflecting off the large gem that nestled in the figure’s cleavage, the same one she’d seen the day she’d bought her first outfits. No surprise I suppose, if that’s even a semi-previous stone the shop wouldn’t be able to afford different sets. Her mind would drift for a while, marvelling at the figure’s perfection, her hand sometimes finding its way to her own pendant. Then she’d shake herself and hurry on to work or home.

Even away from the shops Melissa couldn’t forget the mannequins. Her daydreams became crowded with images of the unmoving figures. She’d find herself staring off into the distance, images of their motionless, elegant, forms driving every other thought from her mind. She couldn’t help but admire them, their flawless beauty and graceful, polished, poses. Melissa wished that she could be half that sophisticated. Some nights they invaded her dreams, and she’d find herself wandering between them, no shop, no racks of clothes, just her and the mannequins, in their beautiful clothes and refined poses. She’d tiptoe amongst them, looking up in amazement and wonder at their frozen features as they stood on their display stands, cultured and delicate as they smiled at nothing. The dreams seemed timeless, as if she could look at the figures for as long as she wanted. Then she’d wake up and the images would fade, leaving an aching longing. The feelings would send her out of her flat every morning in a rush, only satisfied when she took some time to stand outside the shops, peering silently at the mannequins. Eventually she’d tear herself away, work calling, only to return again on the way home, cold and the need to eat finally dragging her back to her apartment.

Sometimes she’d even venture into the shops. Melissa tried to tell herself that she was looking at the clothes and, at first, she did buy one or two things. But soon she had enough clothes in her new style that the occasional need for drycleaning didn’t leave her short. Even then when she stopped outside the shops, or ventured in, she pretended that she was looking at the clothes, might buy something if it really appealed to her. But deep down she knew that wasn’t the reason why she was there, day after day. She spent no time browsing the racks, never hesitated in front of the faceless mannequins. Only the special models held her attention. Their realistic features, all of them beautiful, all of them different, elegantly posed. Their shiny skin free of any blemish or mark, hair and makeup perfect.

They fascinated her, no matter how much Melissa didn’t want to admit it. She wasn’t sure why, mannequins not something she’d ever given much thought to before. But now she couldn’t get enough of them, the special ones anyway. After a while looking at them on her way to and from work wasn’t enough. She started visiting the stores on Saturdays. That became her favourite time of the week. She didn’t have to leave to get to work, she had hours before hunger would call her home at night. She could spend as long as she liked, just looking at the beautiful figures. The staff at the shops must have come to recognise her, because they never interrupted her, never asked if she wanted to buy anything. Just left her alone to look at the mannequins, Melissa almost as still as the figures were.

She came to know each one. All three shops, Melissa realised, must be owned by the same company, because sometimes the mannequins were moved from shop to shop, the figure modelling a wedding dress one week would be two doors down, in risqué lingerie, the next, a model in business wear one day in a bridesmaid’s outfit the next. Even the shop assistants would shift between them. She asked Deborah about it once, when she could bear to take a moment away from gazing at the mannequins, and the saleswoman confirmed her suspicion about the ownership of the shops.

“Oh yes dear,” the older woman said, “diversity, stronger supply chains, it all helps you know.” Melissa worried that the stores might resent her if she wasn’t buying anything but Deborah and the other staff would smile and nod at her, never saying a word, never pestering her to try something on. Melissa could just stand and look at the mannequins, her attention held by their cool elegance, their stylish beauty.

A couple of weeks later, on a Saturday morning, Melissa was looking up at the Middle-eastern mannequin as it modelled a grey woollen skirt and coat, the lapels wide, the two buttons undone to reveal a loose blouse in a dark floral pattern, one hand casually resting on the top of her thigh, the other on a hip, feet, held in four inch heels, angled slightly apart. It was a different pose to that which Melissa had first seen this mannequin. Even its expression had changed, a broad smile replacing the serene expression Melissa had first seen. She must be one of the bendy ones. I wonder if all the realistic ones are?

Melissa didn’t know how long she’d been standing in front of the mannequin, admiring its elegant pose. She gave a start, realising that Deborah was standing next to her.

“It’s not the clothes, is it.” The older woman observed, a statement not a question. “You never browse the racks, you always look at the mannequins.”

Melissa cringed, embarrassed. She knew that she shouldn’t spend so much time in the shops without buying anything, they needed to make sales to stay afloat. It was unfair of her to take advantage of them to fulfil some silly obsession. Not that she worried too much about the amount of time she spent here. Perhaps once she would have. But now Melissa thought no more about it than how much time she spent watching television or reading books, or whatever it was she did in the slow lonely hours at home. If she wanted to spend some of her free time looking at mannequins then it was her business and no-one else’s.

Well, except for the stores of course. Her stomach sank as she realised the stores could stop her coming in if she wasn’t buying anything. And she couldn’t buy enough to justify all of her visits. Of course, she could still look in the windows from outside, admiring the changing displays, the shops highlighting their new stock, lingerie, dresses and bridal gowns. She liked seeing what gown would be displayed, heady anticipation driving her each day, each one a dream of lace, taffeta and silk, delicate embroidery and glistening beading. The only constant the jewelled pendant nestled in the bride’s cleavage. But there were always more mannequins inside the shops than in the windows and while being able to look in the windows would be something, if that was all she had it wouldn’t be the same.

“I, I’m sorry, it’s, it’s just.” Melissa wished that she could turn invisible or that the floor would open up and swallow her. Anything to prevent the saleswoman telling her to stop. Melissa couldn’t think of anything worse. Up until that moment she hadn’t realised just how much her visits meant to her. How much she loved coming here. How much time she spent daydreaming about the mannequins when she wasn’t here. How much she admired their cool, frozen, perfection.

“Oh, dear, it’s all right,” Deborah patted her arm reassuringly, “They are wonderful aren’t they?”

“Yes, yes they are,” Melissa sighed in wonder.

“You like looking at them, don’t you?” Deborah asked in a conspiratorial whisper.

Melissa swallowed, nodded, words catching in her throat.

“We know how special they are,” Melissa could hear the smile in the other woman’s voice. “You look at them all you like, we don’t mind.”

“Th-thanks,” the word stumbling out of Melissa’s mouth as she felt tears of gratitude threatening to escape her eyes.

Free now of any fear that the stores resented her presence Melissa spent every moment she could admiring the mannequins. Her alarm was set early enough that she could be there the moment the shops opened their doors. At work she pushed herself, as hard as she could, to get through the day’s tasks. The moment she thought it was safe she was out the door, heading to the stores, lingering there until closing time. Sometimes Fiona would cover for her and Melissa appreciated her friend’s generosity. The blonde never questioned her, seemingly satisfied with her mumbled excuses.

Even with her friend’s help Melissa couldn’t manage to leave work early every day. There were times she had to work late, everyone needed to finish the latest project, deadline looming. Melissa would cry as the clock on her computer screen ticked over to the point at which she couldn’t make it to the shops before their closing time, the only thought that comforted her that the weekend was not far away and then she could spend hours gazing at the mannequins.

One night, after she hadn’t been able to visit the stores on the way home, her dreams changed. Her team had been out celebrating the completion of the latest commission, the praise from the clients at the final presentation still ringing in their ears. Melissa hadn’t wanted to go, had simply wanted to spend what time she could in front of the stores, the hour already way past closing. But her colleagues wouldn’t let her leave by herself, had insisted she come along, and afterwards Fiona had driven her home.

Melissa welcomed the dreams when they came, something to relieve the longing that she felt. Timeless, free from care, she wandered in her dreamscape, elegant, beautiful mannequins surrounding her on every side. Then she came to something different, an empty display base. Melissa could feel herself frown, wondering what it meant. She turned to look at the mannequins all around her, but something drew her back to the empty stand. The mannequins didn’t move, didn’t make a sound, but she could sense them egging her on. Hesitantly she climbed up onto the base, telling herself it was simply to get a better view. But once on the stand she found herself adopting a pose, right hand on hip, the other by her side, left leg in front of her right. In her dream she remained like that until she woke.

After that, not all her dreams ended with her standing on a display base, but most did. Her dream-self adopted a variety of poses, perhaps blowing a kiss, or waving at an unseen observer. But each time caught in mid-movement, perfectly still. Every morning she had a dream like that she’d try to hold on to the memory. She found herself standing in front of her mirror, practicing the pose, hoping that she was as still and poised as any of the figures in the shops. In the evenings anticipation always had Melissa on edge. As she busied herself in her apartment, making her evening meal, doing whatever needed to be done she kept being distracted by the promise of what her dreams might show her. She went to bed earlier and earlier, hoping to spend the evening hours lost in her dreams. But sleep wouldn’t always come easily, she’d retreat to her bed before her body was ready to slip away. She’d toss and turn and one night her hand drifted to her pussy, surprising herself at how wet she was. Gently she stroked her opening, her arousal building. She suppressed the urge to moan, held her hips steady as her fingers danced across her lower lips. Her thumb found her clit, rubbed and pushed and ground, images of the mannequins filling her mind. Melissa held herself as still as she could as her orgasm crashed through her, picturing herself standing amongst the figures. After that sleep came easily and she now knew what to do any night that it didn’t.

(To be continued)