Authors: RayeAnn Carter
Tags: #LGBTQ romance, Contemporary
Lavender doesn't want a man in her life, not if it means exposing that she's trans. Fortunately, Diego's only in LA for a week. She can enjoy the attention without him finding out her secret.
Falling in love isn't part of the plan. Neither is the jealous housemate determined to ruin everything.
Be My Queen
By RayeAnn Carter
Published by Less Than Three Press LLC
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner without written permission of the publisher, except for the purpose of reviews.
Edited by Tan-ni Fan
Cover designed by Natasha Snow
This book is a work of fiction and all names, characters, places, and incidents are fictional or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual people, places, or events is coincidental.
First Edition April 2015
Copyright © 2015 by RayeAnn Carter
Printed in the United States of America
Digital ISBN 9781620045268
Thanks to friends and family for the encouragement and to H.W. for finding lyrics for Diego to mangle
Lavender opened the restaurant door. "I still don't see why. What are you getting?"
The place was loud and crowded, but cheap. Even the salads were cheap, which was why Lavender had agreed to go out with her friends tonight.
Vish laughed. "Why ask? You always get the same thing."
Why change the subject? Because Lavender didn't need a man in her life. She didn't want one. Boyfriends were for real girls.
A hundred eyes turned their way. Lavender straightened her back. She refused to be intimidated.
"Look," whispered Alana. "Those guys are watching us."
Lavender stared at the menu board. Her salad was exactly where it'd been last time.
"A couple of cuties and a handsome guy." Vish stepped up to a cashier and ordered.
Lavender shelled out a chunk of her meager supply of money to the other cashier. She didn't have time for men. Her world was perfectly balanced between…
Well, her life wasn't balanced at all, but her secret was safe, and that was all that mattered.
"The one in the glasses is cute." Ariel giggled.
Lavender bit her lip. She was not going to make a fool of herself by turning. The kid behind the counter slid her tray across. She carried it to the drink machine, where she put a slice of lemon in her water.
Caiside had wiped down the only open table and its benches with a damp towel from the people behind the counter. The guys still watched them. Two of the younger ones teased a third. They needed a better hobby.
Lavender slid onto the bench with her back to the gawkers. She poured half her dressing onto her salad, put the lid back on, and shook it. Ariel and Alana slid onto the other bench. Their trays were full of yummy goodness.
Vish bumped Lavender with her elbow. "Let me in."
Lavender slipped out and Vish took the inside space. By the time Lavender was back in her seat, Caiside had her tray and slipped in after. Lavender ate with her arms pressed to her sides. That kept her from bumping her friends, and kept her hands away from the delicious fries on Ariel's and Alana's trays.
Lavender ate ice cream for money. She had to cut calories somewhere.
Ariel pointed at herself and turned her finger to Lavender.
"What?" Vish turned. "That guy with the boys… He's standing up. And coming this way."
A man in blue jeans and a leather jacket entirely inappropriate for the warm night stopped at their table. "I'd always heard that LA was full of beautiful women, but I didn't really believe it until you five walked through that door."
How cheesy. But the other girls laughed. Lavender kept her eyes on her salad. Why wouldn't he just walk away?
"My name's Diego and—"
The other girls protested. He didn't look Hispanic. His blue eyes were looking straight at Lavender. They moved down from her face and back up. Guys were so obvious. Still, her breasts were her best feature and one hundred percent natural.
Diego pulled out his wallet and passed his ID to Ariel. "See. Diego Greene. I was named for my father's best friend. I go to the doctor's office or any place that uses first names and the nurse looks at the paper, then at me, and tells me that she'll call me when she's ready for me, but it's Diego's turn now. It's the hair, I think."
He ran his hand through his dark blond hair.
The others laughed again. Caiside stood. "Do you want to sit here?"
Vish and Ariel giggled. They would.
"Thank you. But I'd rather sit here." Diego pointed to the space between Ariel and Alana.
Directly across from Lavender.
The others giggled. This wasn't funny.
Vish looked at his ID. "You're a long way from home."
"True, but I plan to make the most of my vacation."
Vish tried to pass her the ID, but Lavender didn't want to know anything about him. If he left, would the flutters leave her belly? She'd paid good money for her dinner, so she shouldn't waste it.
Betrayed by her own roommate.
"Lavender." His voice was a hand against her skin. "Hello, Lavender."
Vish poked her. "Say hi back."
But Lavender wasn't about to acknowledge him in any way. He was already too close, too handsome, and too attentive for comfort.
Diego didn't mind the rebuff. He had all night to get to know Lavender and the best way might be through her friends. "Your names?"
The girl in the corner of Lavender's bench held out her hand. "Vishva Rose. You've heard of me?"
She was the same coppery bronze as Lavender. Her hair was a touch closer to black and her face was more like a Bollywood actress's that Lavender's softer features. Pretty, just not as gut-wrenchingly pretty as Lavender.
He took Vishva's hand and kissed it the way his mother had taught him to when he was seven. "Sorry, but I'm from a thousand miles away. Maybe if I was from LA…"
He brushed Lavender's hand on the way back.
Lavender bit her lip.
Vishva sighed. "Too much to expect, I guess. But someday, everyone will have heard of me. What are you doing down here, anyway? September's an odd month to take a vacation."
"The friend I'm visiting had to work for two years before he got paid vacation. This is his first eligible week." Patrick almost didn't get it off. The clients for the project he'd been working on for last year changed their mind two weeks before the due date. He was working eighteen-to-twenty-hour days to get his part completed.
Vishva raised an eyebrow and grinned, but she wasn't the one he was trying to attract.
Lavender looked up, and then back at the salad she wasn't eating.
The black girl put out her hand. "I'm Ariel."
"Like the mermaid." Vishva leaned down. Diego moved his gaze to Lavender. She might not be as big-busted as her friend, but she wasn't wanting for curves. She was exactly his type: good-looking, complex, slightly stubborn—the refusing to look at him now couldn't be anything else—and very mysterious. He longed to dig deeper into that mystery.
Lavender might be the person Diego had been looking for all his life. The one he could make happy and be happy with for the long-term.
Patrick would laugh. He always did when Diego risked his heart yet again.
Diego turned to Ariel. Her long, dark curls were more controlled than Lavender's wavy chaos. "Pleased to meet you, Ariel."
He kissed the back of her hand, too.
The redhead beside Lavender extended her hand. "Caiside."
Caiside smiled. "And the shy one beside you is Alana."
Alana blushed. He put out his hand, but she didn't take it, so he just nodded to her. "A pleasure."
She was a Chicana, like Lavender, but several shades lighter, and looked like the kid sister of a guy he'd dated in high school. She'd blush every time he'd spoken to her, too.
"How sweet." Vishva turned to Lavender. "Look how nice he is to shy, little Alana. Give him a chance."
Lavender looked at her friends, took a deep breath, and pulled a hand from under the table. Her hand was long and thin, bigger than most girls' hands, but it fit nicely in Diego's mitt. It was soft, too. She must take care of her hands. Diego's mother would approve, if they ever got the chance to meet.
Diego met Lavender's gaze and held it as he kissed her fingers. He turned her hand over and kissed her palm. She moaned deep in her throat and her tongue brushed her full, red lips.
She pulled away as she stood and pushed her way off the bench. The other girls called after her, but she didn't turn as she ran into the restroom.
Now, that was interesting, and so was she.
Lavender rushed into a stall and lifted her skirt. Who was she fooling? She yanked down the undergarments that held her bits in place and took deep, shaky breaths.
Her skin was too hot. The cool metal of the stall door looked inviting, but even though the bathroom was clean for a public restroom, who knew what was on the door that she couldn't see?
She couldn't go out. Not like this, but she couldn't stay in the stall all night either. If she stayed in the bathroom long enough would that guy, Diego, leave?
Did she want him to? He was very handsome, and the way he'd look at her melted her insides.
She shouldn't be melting. She'd give herself away.
But his lips on her hand and the fire in his eyes…
No. No, she shouldn't have let this happen at all.
"Flower? Blossom?" said Vish from inside the bathroom. "What's wrong?"
Lavender waved her hand over the stall door.
"That guy did something you didn't like? Tell Dr. Vish all about it."
Lavender rolled her eyes.
The pain was subsiding, but it wasn't gone. This was Diego's fault. What right did a man have to be so handsome? To look at her as if she were the only girl that mattered? As if she wasn't just a normal girl, but the one perfect girl on the planet? "I'm all right."
"No you're not, Flower Girl."
Lavender stepped out of the stall. The bathroom door opened and three girls came in. They looked at Lavender as if she wasn't worth wiping their feet on. Each of the girls claimed a sink, so Lavender couldn't wash her hands.
She felt naked and exposed with her bits not safely tucked between her legs. She wouldn't let them know that. They were loud and obnoxious and she couldn't talk to Vish with them around or text until her hands were clean. But she squared her shoulders, stood up straight, and pretended like they weren't inconveniencing her at all.
A woman exited a stall and asked one of the girls to move. When she didn't, the woman reached around her to wash her hands and the girl got wet. That girl and her friends protested, but the woman said to go ahead and tell the management. She'd be quite happy to give her side of the story.
Lavender would never be that brave and confident. Maybe the woman had nothing to hide.
After the woman left, the girls swore at her, but followed moments later. Lavender washed her hands, then checked to see if anyone was in a stall. She didn't have long before more girls came in. She tugged at the waistband of her undergarment and let it go with a snap.
Vish smirked. "He was hot."
"That's the problem."
"At least you know everything's working properly."
Lavender didn't want it to work properly. She didn't want
to work at all.
A girl came into the bathroom. She stayed as far from Lavender and Vish as she could get while hurrying to a stall. Vish said, "That's why I don't use that kind."
"But I never have this problem." Once or twice handsome guys had gotten her uncomfortably hard, but she'd never had this kind of pain. "I can't go back out."
"I'll fix it, Flower Girl." Vish whipped out her phone and sent a text. "Ariel always brings emergency tape."
The timid girl dashed from the stall to the door without washing her hands. Disgusting.
"I'll be in the handicap stall." Lavender closed herself in.