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Star of Wonder

by Alexandra Y. Caluen

A trans/bi holiday romance novelette.

After forty years of living in the wrong body, Patrice Diaz was finally reborn. She had two weeks in Las Vegas to try new ways of enjoying her new life. The nice-looking guy at the bar seemed like a good place to start, but she had to tell him the truth.

Noel Arkady was at the point of ‘if you want something to change, you have to do something different.’ The pretty woman at the bar might have been only a pleasant dinner companion. Then she told him the truth.

They had two weeks together before Patrice had to go back to Mexico for her TV shoot, and a lot of baggage to unpack. When they got to the bottom of everything, would they find what they needed to try moving on together?

Adult situations, themes, and language; 11,000 words and a happy ending.

Plus bonus short story!

Excerpt:

He offered his hand. “Noel Arkady. It’s my first Christmas alone.”

She shook his hand. “Patrice Diaz. Who were you with before?”

“Wife and two kids. Divorced two years now.” Noel hadn’t meant to say more, but something about those big brown eyes, with the fine lines from smiling a lot, prompted him to go on. “My son is in grad school and my daughter’s a sophomore at UC Davis. She’s spending the holiday break with a friend in Canada.”

“Sending you pictures?”

“God, yes. Like, oh em gee white Christmas.”

Patrice laughed. Noel was smiling again, or still. He really was nice-looking when he smiled. She said, “Do you suppose I should have something to eat that isn’t a cocktail cherry?”

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“Mmm. I should probably have something that isn’t an olive.” They stared at each other for a few seconds. He wasn’t sure he should believe this was happening. Patrice raised her eyebrows. Noel swallowed, blinked, and said, “Would you like to have dinner with me?”

A few minutes later, tabs settled and walking away from the bar, Patrice was thinking through her checklist. Dolores told her, it’ll be different now. It’s one thing for guys to hook up and it’s another for women. A woman who hooks up with a married man is considered a home-wrecking slut. It’s always her fault, even when he’s the married one, even if he lies about it. But you can’t be expected to do a whole investigation on a guy. If he tells you he’s not married, at a certain point you have to believe him.

So he wasn’t wearing a ring, and he said he was divorced. There was no reason to disbelieve him. He’d given her his whole name, after all. He might be wondering about her. And it would be wise to get this out of the way before they were stuck at a dinner table staring at each other. Being left sitting there alone would be so much worse than calling it a day now. She led them to a sort-of-quiet corner of the casino floor, within sight of the restaurant, and stopped moving. He looked nervous, as if he thought she was about to say ‘never mind.’ Patrice took a deep breath. “I’m not married. No partner. There’s something about me you should know, though.”

“Okay?”

Just say it. “I was assigned male at birth. I don’t have external male parts anymore, but I also don’t have all the female parts, and this is more information than you need because we just met and you already have kids or whatever but –”

“Sshh, Patrice, it’s fine.” Noel was so relieved. He’d been sure she was going to say something else. This was the first time since the divorce that he’d gone out thinking he should try to meet someone. Hitting the jackpot at the first tug on the lever was completely unexpected. And now he owed her a truth of his own. “Can I tell you something about me?”

“Jesus, please do.”

He almost laughed. “My marriage broke up because I had an affair. With a man. I’m bisexual.” He’d only said the whole word out loud three times. Patrice was giving him a look that seemed to say ‘okay, and?’ So Noel added, “I’ve never met a trans person before, that I know of. But I’ve been in therapy for four years dealing with my own gender and all those consequences. I think you’re really pretty, and all I was expecting was dinner.”

“Okay.” She blew out a breath. “Okay. Thanks. This is my first time doing anything like a date since, well, before.”

“We don’t have to talk about it. We can talk about work.”

“Oh, you want to talk about work? How much time do you have?”

COLLAPSE

This novelette is a stand-alone story featuring characters present in other L.A. Stories novels and novellas.

About the Author

A long time ago and three thousand miles away, I wrote my first novel - a historical romance - during graduate school. Twenty years later I finally dusted it off and published it. Since then I have written and published many more novels and novellas; all romance, most contemporary. My characters (of various genders and ethnicities) range in age from eighteen to sixty-five, with the average falling in the mid-thirties. I'm inspired by authors like KJ Charles, Laurie R. King, Dick Francis, and Jennifer Crusie. I've lived and worked in Los Angeles since 1995.