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Why does an author known for writing m/m books suddenly decide to create a story around a main character who’s transgender?
Because she was yelling at me, that’s why. I’d wake up in the middle of the night, and she’d be whispering seductively in my ear. I’d be riding around on the scooter, and she’d be leaning against my back, talking talking talking.
It wasn’t as if I didn’t have other projects started, either. I’m several pages into my first YA novel. I had a brilliant idea for yet another story just a few days ago. And during a bout of insomnia the other night, I wrote the first three paragraphs of what may turn into a short story.
But Sky wouldn’t let up. “Put me first,” she purred in her low voice. “You won’t be sorry.”
So the research began, because I know nothing about the world of transgenders. I quickly became immersed.
You’d think she’d shut up at this point, right? Not at all. If anything, she got pushier, and after you meet her, you’ll realize a pushy Sky is the most wonderful thing ever. She gives me the look, and that’s it. I melt. I’d do anything for her.
As it happens, Zachary Fox, the other main character, feels exactly the same way about her. “Instalove” is so cliché, but when these two collide, I believed it. They’d been waiting for each other a long time.
Some of you may think, “This isn’t for me. I have no interest in these characters,” but they have a story to tell, and what it comes down to is we all want and need to love and be loved, and that starts with accepting yourself.
Don’t we all doubt ourselves? Don’t we all wonder how anyone could love us, warts and all? But it happens every day, and it’s no less a miracle because of that.
Straight, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex, asexual, queer: the alphabet soup that has become so familiar to us these last few years. Transgression deals with half the letters, and I hope I wrote it in such a way that anyone can relate to these characters. Like us, they are struggling to accept themselves, each other, and find love along the way.
I’m proud of this story, and if you read it, I hope you’ll let me know what you thought.
Transgression by Theo Fenraven
Zachary Fox can’t sleep.
His acting career is taking off. Public recognition is picking up. Now more than ever, he understands how key reputation is to his success. But his relationship with his co-star, Kris — arranged around publicity rather than genuine feelings — is suffocating him. She once understood his needs, but her demands are beginning to grate with every shrill order she gives.
Zach has a secret. The breakout star of a new medical series, he’s been hiding his orientation from co-stars, friends and family, the studio, and his fans.
On the recommendation of a friend, Zach seeks out Sky Kelly, a well-connected herbalist whose concoctions are natural magic, as is her stunning beauty. On the surface, she has it all: her own house, a thriving business, and good friends, but the things she had to do to get there are a time bomb ticking away, and when it goes off, she’ll be teetering on the edge of a chasm that can put her right back where she started.
Sky has secrets. Like, she’s got a Y chromosome and the original equipment to go with it. Like being a highly paid escort. Like, if Zach is seen with her in public, it could ruin his career. Like someone becoming so obsessed with Sky, that obsession threatens them both.
Secrets… everyone is hiding something, and instead of finding The One, it could be The End.
Zach didn’t realize how drunk he was until he left the club and tried to get into the car. His foot slipped off the running board twice, and he stopped, swaying slightly, looking at his friend over the top of the vehicle.
“Can’t drive, Andy.” He closed the door and leaned against it. “What shape are you in?”
Grinning, Andy came around to the driver’s side. “Better than you, by far.” He opened the door. “Get in, slide over, and open the window in case you need to puke.”
Laughing, Zach crawled in, climbed clumsily over the center console, and collapsed in the passenger seat. “Not gonna puke. I never puke.”
Andy got behind the wheel, inserted the key, and started the car. “Bullshit. What about the time we were at that party in the Hills? You know, last summer.”
“Sarah’s birthday? Oh, yeah, I did kind of lose it that night, didn’t I?” Slipping down onto his tailbone, he propped his sneakered feet on the dash, bracing himself against movement.
Snorting, Andy merged into traffic. “The inside of that car had to be cleaned twice.”
Zach giggled. “Sorry. Promise! No upchucking tonight.”
“Hey, I don’t give a shit. It’s your car.”
They drove to Santa Monica Boulevard. It was a chilly night with a light breeze. Zach wished he could see the stars, but the light pollution was so bad, nothing in the heavens was visible.
“You were hitting the liquor hard. What’s up?”
Zach was still peering up through the windshield, trying to see anything other than the light umbrella over the city. “Can’t sleep lately. I thought it might help.”
Andy shook his head. “No, no, you pass out on liquor, but then you’re awake again a few hours later.”
Leaning back in the seat, he glanced at his friend. “Then what do you suggest?”
“I know someone who can fix you right up. You don’t have anything against natural herbs and stuff, do you?”
“Herbs are good. Minimal side effects, right?”
“Right. I know someone.” He pulled into the right-hand turn lane at the next light. “Ever heard of Sky?”
Zach burst into laughter. “What, that stuff over our heads? Supposed to be blue but is often a dirty gray? Yeah, I have a passing familiarity with it.”
“Asshole. I’m talking about a person. Sky is sort of the unofficial herbalist in this town. Does her own distillations and mixtures, sells them to whoever wants them. Also happens to read palms, and I swear to god, she’s psychic. The real thing, not like those twits who talk to you over the phone for five bucks a minute.” He turned left, then right again, driving into Laurel Canyon. “She told me the woman I was seeing a few months ago was shagging someone else, and I found out a week later she was.”
Zach rolled his eyes. “In this town, everyone is shagging everyone else. That’s not prescience, it’s a fact.”
“Fine, don’t believe me, but she can fix you up with something that will help you sleep naturally. I’m taking you there now.”
Zach sat up and looked out the window. “It’s after eleven. Isn’t that a strange time of night to call on a lady?”
“She keeps late hours,” Andy assured him, taking out his cell. “I’ll call her, though, make sure she’s cool with it. You always call Sky before you visit.”
He sketched a shrug. “It’s one of her rules. I figure she’s protecting her clients. I mean, who in this town wants people to know you get your fortune read, right? It’s ringing.”
Andy drove one-handed while Zach leaned his head against the window, watching the city lights stream by. No one would care if people knew you got your fortune read. That was Hollywood.
He was nicely buzzed and feeling very good: his series was on hiatus for the next two weeks, giving him a much-needed break. He was leaving for Sydney on vacation the next day, and Kris was going with him, but that was okay. She understood how things worked. She wouldn’t get in the way.
After Australia, he’d visit his parents in New York City. That meant more fun. He smiled. Zach had the greatest life ever, and he knew it.
“… We’re about twenty minutes away,” Andy was saying. He listened for a moment. “Nope, won’t stay long. Thanks, Sky.” He ended the call. “All set. She has another appointment after, so we’ll have to make it quick.”
“Sure.” Zach pulled his long legs up on the seat and wrapped his arms around them while his blood fizzed with alcohol. He was determined the next couple of weeks be an adventure. Tonight was the kick-off.
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