RAINBOW AWARDS - BEST TRANSGENDER BOOK
1st place, Lesbian/Bi/Trans Young Adult
IPPY AWARDS - Bronze Medal, Young Adult/Juvenile Ebook
eLit Book Awards - Silver Medal, Young Adult/Juvenile Fiction
EPIC Awards - Finalist
Trevor Larson is a Navy brat. He’s used to moving every few years, and thanks to social media, he can stay in touch with the friends he leaves behind. But shortly after he leaves Okinawa, his best friend, Brad Gray, cuts off contact and disappears.
Four years and two bases later, Brad resurfaces—and announces his family is coming to Trevor’s base in Spain. But a lot’s changed in four years, and Trevor is stunned to find out Brad is now Shannon. Their reunion isn’t quite what either of them had hoped for, but they quickly find their footing, both relieved to have each other back.
Except nothing is ever all sunshine and roses. The military is a small world, and there’s no keeping Shannon’s transition a secret. Parents warn their kids away from her. She can’t attend school on-base for fear of harassment or worse. And although her parents try to hide it, being ostracized by their only social circle while they’re thousands of miles from home is taking a toll on them too.
More and more, Shannon leans on Trevor. But she’s also drawn to him, and he’s drawn right back to her, feeling things he’s never felt for anyone before.
Trevor’s scared, though. Not of dating a trans girl. Not of damaging his chaplain father’s career or reputation. After finally getting his friend back, does he dare take things further and risk losing her a second time?
Chapter 1 : Trevor
So my dad has orders to Rota.
A “holy shit!” almost flew out of my mouth, but I stopped it. Good thing, too—cussing at church was never a good idea, especially when you’re the chaplain’s kid.
“Trevor!” my mother snapped. “What are you doing?”
I quickly shoved my phone in my pocket. “Sorry.”
She glared at me. “I’m serious. No phones at church.”
“I know. Sorry.” Even out here in the vestibule, where everyone was milling around before the service, my parents didn’t like me using it. Usually I was better at being sneaky about it and could steal a glance at my e-mail when Mom’s back was turned.
She shot me another look and then went back to chatting with some of the other wives while they drank coffee from Styrofoam cups.
Next to her, I fidgeted and tugged at my collar. At least Dad didn’t make me wear a tie anymore. I still had to dress nice and all of that, but outside of December through February, Spain was too hot for ties even with the A/C inside the church.
Across the vestibule, Dad was talking to the Catholic chaplain and tugged at his own collar. He didn’t have a choice—he still had to wear his uniform when he did his sermon—but he’d put his foot down and refused to make me swelter like he did.
“I want him to enjoy church,” I’d heard him telling Mom one summer on Okinawa. “If he’s sitting there being miserable, he’s going to hate it.”
Okay, so I still didn’t really enjoy church, but at least I wasn’t melting.
While Mom continued chatting, I wandered away and took a couple of cookies from the box by the coffeepots but didn’t really taste them. I was too busy thinking about that e-mail. I’d been hoping for it for months now, ever since families had started trickling into the base after the Navy had reassigned three ships from the States to Spain. It wasn’t all that unusual for people I knew to transfer to the same base. It’s one of those things with being a Navy brat; sometimes you move away from your friends, and then sometimes you wind up at a base with people you knew from another one. Three of my other Okinawa friends were already here.
And with the ships moving a few thousand people to this base, it was the like a duty station jackpot.
But there’d been one person I’d wanted to hear from, and that was Brad, my best friend from Okinawa. He’d dropped off the face of the earth after I’d moved away four years ago, and I’d been holding out hope that he’d show up here sooner or later.
So my dad has orders to Rota.
I’d been hoping for the e-mail or even just a sign of life on social media or somewhere, but then it showed up and startled the hell out of me. Like I’d been praying for it for so long, I couldn’t believe it had actually arrived, and now I didn’t know what to think.
I glanced over my shoulder to make sure Mom was still busy and then took out my phone and read the e-mail again.
So my dad has orders to Rota. I’ll be there next month. Are you still stationed there?
Short and to the point, which Brad’s e-mails usually weren’t, but he was talking to me and he was on his way here. We could catch up on everything else when I e-mailed him back. Or when he got here.
When he got here!
I tucked the phone back in my pocket, and couldn’t help grinning like an idiot. Man, I hadn’t felt this giddy since one of my other buddies from Okinawa moved here last year. Brad was on his way to Spain! Next month! How the hell was I going to wait that long?
Someone tapped my shoulder. I turned around, and my mother nodded toward the sanctuary. The service was about to start, so I followed her to our usual spot in the front left pew. As other people filed in and the organist played the songs I’d memorized a billion times over, I didn’t dare take out my phone—my mom would make sure I never saw it again—but my brain was all over that e-mail. And the more I thought about it, the more the giddiness faded away. In its place, a knot started growing in the pit of my stomach.
How did he know I was here? Had he been in contact with someone else? Maybe lurking on the base youth Q&A board?
But more importantly, why was he e-mailing me now? His family was on their way next month, which meant they’d had orders for a while. Like six months at least, unless his dad had gotten slam orders, and most people got slam orders to shitty places like Norfolk or Nebraska. And if he was coming with one of the ships that were going to be home-ported here, then he’d definitely known. My other friends who had parents on the ships had been posting about it on Facebook for the better part of a year.
But Brad wasn’t on Facebook anymore. He wasn’t on Twitter or Tumblr. His e-mail still seemed active—none of my messages had ever bounced—but he’d stopped responding a few months after I’d left Okinawa. One day, we were instant messaging and joking around on Facebook. The next, his account was gone. Nobody else had heard from him either. I’d even e-mailed his mom to make sure he was okay, and at least she’d written back and said “Bradley’s fine,” but she hadn’t replied when I’d asked her to pass a message on to him. After that, I didn’t hear anything from anyone. No one did.
And now this.
So my dad has orders to Rota.