Being With Him: A Horizons Series Novella
Zeb Araneda leaves his privileged but closely supervised life in the Philippines to study architecture at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, where his new roommate is openly gay Luca Dilorio.
Alex Boulet is a successful print model who appears to have it all, but on closer inspection, the ready smile never reaches his mesmerizing green eyes. Tired of living alone, Alex moves in with fellow model Chyna Davidson, Luca’s boyfriend.
Away from his father’s watchful eye, and with Luca’s help, Zeb learns to navigate his new environment, and experiences freedom of choice for the first time. This fresh perspective allows him to step out of his comfort zone and act on his attraction to Alex.
The holiday season has always been difficult for Alex. Sappy commercials tug at his heart, and storefront windows depict idealized scenes that remind him of what he’ll never have: a loving partner willing to accept his truth. Will this Christmas be another disappointment, or will Santa finally make his wish come true?
When they got back to the apartment, it was almost six o’clock. After greetings were exchanged, Alex put a leash on Bacon and took him for a short walk. Chyna accompanied him, and they chatted companionably while stopping at each lamppost to let Bacon do his thing.
“Did you have fun with Zeb?” Chyna asked.
“Yeah, he’s a bit clueless but basically a nice person.”
“Which way does he swing?” Chyna asked.
“I didn’t ask him. Why?”
“It would be nice if you guys hooked up.”
“Oh, sugar. Stop playing matchmaker.”
“He’s supersmart, according to Luca. Didn’t you say you were into brains?”
“Among other things.”
“What’s your type then?” Chyna asked.
“Someone who won’t set me on fire or throw me out the window.”
Alex flinched when he heard Chyna’s sharp intake of breath. He hadn’t meant to sound so grim, but he was tired of well-meaning friends trying to set him up. Finding a relationship was hard enough without throwing in something unexpected. Any person interested in him would have to be open-minded and willing to put aside conventional notions when it came to missing body parts.
In the beginning, Alex had naively assumed that changing his name, getting rid of his breasts, and ingesting testosterone were all it would take to draw a clutch of admirers. True, there was no lack of interest, but as soon as his dates realized things were not as they seemed, the atmosphere grew tense, and oftentimes dangerous.
It had made him realize that he wasn’t going to find the love of his life in the usual way. A guy looking to get laid could react violently when confronted with Alex’s truth. With that in mind, he’d taken several classes in self-defense. There was no way to expect a good outcome without full disclosure from the onset, but most guys turned tail as soon as they heard the word trans male.
“I’m sorry if I assumed too much,” Chyna said. “For all I know you’ve got a boyfriend hidden away somewhere.”
“Nope,” Alex said. “Not a one. I’m just not open to the idea of dating at the moment.”
“Okay, I’ll keep that in mind,” Chyna said. He reached for Alex’s hand and gave it a tight squeeze.
“Ready for a night of dancing?” Alex asked breezily, eager to lighten the mood.
“Good, let’s go to Webster Hall in the East Village. It’s nineteen and over with proper ID.”
“Sounds great,” Chyna said. “Have you guys eaten?”
“We ate after the tour,” Alex replied.
“Are you satisfied, or shall we make something before we go?” Chyna asked.
“I’m good, but what about you and Luca?”
“We had grilled cheese sandwiches thirty minutes before you got home.”
“Then we’re set?”
“Unless Zeb is hungry again.”
“He ate plenty,” Alex said.
“Okay, let’s get ready.”
And here's today's recipe from Alex's kitchen.