As a fan of Emma Finn's work I was at first slighly hesitant a retelling of this classic tale was needed but after seeing the material that BigBird shared with me I am all by confident that Emma herself would have approved of such "fan fiction". It's a great story on its own that lovers of transformation genre are bound to love. The story is going to be a long one and will be published in multiple installments. Please feel free to comment and share your ideas.
If for some reason you missed Emma's novel, I highly recommend Book 1 of the unfinished trilogy, but if you want a completed shorter version, you can also read Cleaner: The Original Story, one of the first (and best) lady-to-maid stories out there.
The Cleaner Returns
Many of you will recognise the title of this story. In places, Cleaner (an alternative) leans heavily on Emma Finn’s wonderful book. However the aim of this project is to offer a whole new story that touches on the original material every so often. The overall plot is very similar. The feel is very different. Other than Melissa, the characters are the same largely speaking.
I hope you all take this as it is intended, as a tribute to Emma. I was lucky enough to exchange ideas and emails with her on several occasions and always found her a joy to talk to. I was deeply saddened when she had to leave us and her work was left unfinished. I wondered whether to try and finish it, but then decided to take an alternative (easier) route and rework the story.
I hope you enjoy!
I stretched my legs towards the driver’s seat, tipping the heels from off my feet. It felt good to finally get those killer shoes off my suffering toes. I had been on my feet almost constantly this morning, strutting up and down a catwalk as we practised for next month’s show. I felt my stomach turn at the thought.
Why had I been so stupid to agree to do that show? I must have seemed somewhat desperate, as people were constantly pushing for me to do one more show before taking up my longed for retirement. Now, after four assignments in seven weeks, I was feeling stressed. The reason I wanted to retire - panic attacks - were not getting any better. Now, with my retirement as out of reach as ever, matters were coming to a head. Typically, in such a high-octane environment, one becomes largely immune to the catty remarks, put downs and constant pressure to look one’s best. However after what felt like a lifetime in the industry, my confidence was waning fast and my ability to stand tall badly diminished.
That explains why I was now on my way to an appointment with Dr Mark Jacobs. Okay so many would write him off as a quack shrink, but his adverts are everywhere and I was desperate for help. He was also available. It usually takes several weeks to get an appointment to see a guy of his experience, but after telling him my name – Dahlia Western – the door opened much more quickly. I smiled at that thought: perhaps I still had it after all! Almost twenty years after my first modelling job, I was still able to turn almost any man – and, come to that – woman’s head. I rummaged through my handbag and found my pocket mirror, checking my makeup.
Call it insecurity or professional pride, but I always maintain the highest standards when it comes to my appearance. After all, one could never be too careful. An unexpected moment with the paparazzi could result in pictures of me without any makeup being plastered all over the internet, exposing for the whole world to see my gradually deepening lines and wrinkles. It seemed lately that not a day went by without some new flaw emerging on my once pristine skin. The passage of time was relentless and unforgiving. I needed to get out of the spotlight, but letting go was proving terribly difficult.
Listening to this right now you probably think I am a rather shallow character, vain and narrow in her worldview. But that would be an unfair characterisation. I did not always suffer from panic attacks. The death of my brother a few years ago seems to have started them and then the anxiety one feels when exposing oneself publicly, as models are required to do, whipped my attacks into an all-consuming fear that would grip me days before a show. Perhaps if I had someone to talk to it would have been better. But there was no-one. My love life was non-existent, restricted to erotic books and the occasional flirt with websites that invoked as much shame as anything else. My last romance was, coincidentally, around the time my brother died. Perhaps the two matters had reinforced one another in my mind, scuttling any reserves of confidence I may have had.
Though I complained about my agent, I really could never complain about the job he had done. I had been well managed. I had moved from youthful designers to a more mature set up: classic, timeless, elegant – you know the kind of thing. Tommy, my agent, was one of only two people I saw regularly, my sister Melissa being the other. My brother had been a third before his untimely death. Only my sister and I were left in our family, our parents passing away when we were both teenagers. All these factors had undoubtedly contributed to my current malaise and had left me feeling exposed and vulnerable. These were the kinds of thing I imagined being said during the appointment as I built up an image of how it would all likely proceed. I was so tired. I sat back in the plush leather seat of the limo and closed my eyes, trying to catch a little, fleeting nap.
I must have dozed off, as the twenty minute ride across town ended much too soon. Sure enough the driver had pulled up outside a rather tatty looking building on the edges of the downtown district, in a slightly seedy looking neighbourhood. I sighed to myself. If I had known he was practising in this part of town, maybe I would have looked a little harder. Still my immediate needs had grown urgent and I wanted to get my head in the right place before the upcoming show and delaying for a few more weeks did not seem a good option right now. Reluctantly I pulled my long, lithe body from the car and walked to the door.
If the building housing the psychologist’s office gave one impression, the man himself provided a wholly different one. Dr Mark Jacobs proved to be a huge surprise. No tweed jackets and elbow patches here. The doctor’s fine suit was enhanced by his finely sculpted body. This doctor was clearly obsessed not only with a healthy mind, but a healthy body. Dahlia was used to seeing handsome men of course, her job introducing her to a bevy of perfect specimens. However they had the slightly arrogance that came with such self-assuredness and their lifestyles were only too familiar to a now jaded Dahila who yearned for something different.
No, the doctor was different and he seemed available. There were no signs of a wife, Dahlia thought as she scanned the office for tell-tale pictures or gifts. There was also no wedding ring. As though readying a long-forgotten trap, she fluffed her hair and assumed a girly, flirty pose as she positioned herself in front of him. Waiting for a kiss on the cheek, she was a little taken aback by the offer of an extended hand. ‘Okay, so he wants to shake my hand,’ she smiled as she duly followed suit, somewhat bemused at the unusual response.
What followed next also defied her expectations. Dahlia had seen enough television and film portrayals of a visit to the psychologists to have built up an image of how this visit should have gone: a gentle unfurling of her concerns, followed by a slight interrogation of her past to try and link causal factors from her childhood or early adolescence. And that is largely how things progressed initially, but about halfway through the appointment, the questioning took a turn that surprised her.
“Dahlia. May I be frank with you?”
She nodded silently, a slight look of concern crossing her almost perfect features.
“Dahlia, we are here to explore what is that drives you. What is it that pushes you to do what you do every day? Now we can spend a great deal of time and effort in doing that or we can cut to the chase and save ourselves a lot of circling around the inevitable.”
“I see…. How do you suggest we do that?” Dahlia questioned.
“I must reassure you, everything you say within these four walls will be treated with the upmost secrecy. I will never tell another living soul of what we discover on our journey together.” His eyes twinkled brightly, reassuringly. Attractive people have a knack of getting their way, at least that had been Dahlia’s experience all her life since she was young. Unwittingly she signalled a vulnerability that the trained eye could zero on to.
“Sure. What is it you want to know?” Thus began one of the most frank and embarrassing conversations of Dahlia’s life. After the hour was up, they had discussed her fears. The psychologist took copious notes of how ageing and the gradual, but relentless, loss of her perfect looks had eaten away at her confidence. How she feared losing the wealth she had built up over the course of her dazzling career. And how she feared retirement, unsure of what she would do and how time would consume her. It was hard to admit many of these fears. She had held onto them silently for many years and kept them bottled up deep within her, where they had clearly began to ferment and helped to fuel her anxiety attacks.
Still, there was more. Fear typically works hand in hand with desire and the doctor wished to explore that. Dahlia could feel by the tone of his voice and manner of approach that he was leading towards something bigger. Sexuality of course was promoted as the underlying reason for so much of our subconscious behaviour and Dahlia could feel the interview shifting relentlessly towards it. Then just as had begun to panic a little, the meeting was over. She looked slightly bemused. Had it really been an hour already?
As she got up to leave and retrieve her things, she felt a tightness in her stomach, a dragging sensation that led to warmth between her thighs. It had felt exciting to speak so openly, to express her vulnerability to a stranger. Okay, so the stranger happened to be her doctor who was drop dead gorgeous, but even so, it was a curious reaction for her. She was used to beautiful men surrounding her. What was new was the experience of mild embarrassment. It was that slight cringe she felt when recalling their conversation that fuelled the butterflies now crowding into her stomach.
They departed much as they met. Eyes locked onto one another and a clear sense of attraction. It was mutual wasn’t it? Dahlia questioned as she turned and left for her waiting car.