GENRE: Gay / Transgender Romance
LENGTH: 14,791 words
Funerals are no fun, except, maybe, if cell phones get mixed up. Russell hasn’t seen his now deceased, non-supportive father in years, but his older brother calls him in Hawaii, demanding his appearance at the funeral. But brother Mike warns against displaying any ‘gay stuff’ to his perfect wife and innocent children.
Recently dumped, Russell isn’t quite with it as he rushes to get ready with help from a new neighbor. So it turns out that the Mike he calls from the airport isn’t his brother but the neighbor’s bisexual ex.
Countless hi-jinks follow, with family and without. Through it all, sexy ex Mike is right there with Russell. When all is said and done, can Russell make a go with a newly developed family with Mike? What might life be like on the mainland?
When I woke, we were landing and touched down with a bounce or two. Beside me, I heard the man swear in some alien language. If I'd been awake enough, I'd have probably done the same thing. The older lady next to me giggled. I swear to God she did! She laughed at us.
It was dark out, and I hadn't eaten anything. I was a half-drugged, half-asleep, pissed off nervous wreck and probably dehydrated as well. I got my bag and headed outside to where I could see my brother when he came to get me, except, of course, I hadn't called him yet. I stopped at a Starbucks, which probably wasn't the wisest thing that late at night, but more caffeine seemed like just the thing I needed most right then. And a scone. And a cookie. I was starved. It was half-dark there, and I switched on the phone, swiped to Mike's name, and pushed call.
When he picked up, I said, "It's me. I'm at the airport. Come get me."
He answered with, "Fuck. Go stand somewhere I can find you then. Like under the big number seven. Can you find that?" (Followed by what I inferred was a silent, but fervent, asshole.)
I almost snarled, "What are you driving!"
"The big white one!"
Like I'd know what that was, but just the same, I finished my food, went to the bathroom, washed my hands thoroughly, stared at myself in the mirror.
You can do this. He can't kill you. You're an adult.
Then, like an obedient child, I went outside to stand under the giant number seven. I should have asked him how long it would take. I hadn't even asked him if it was convenient. I hadn't even said please. What was wrong with me? Did I expect him to leap out of the car and punch me? Ha-ha. Yes, yes, I did. And then he'd probably tell me to stop hitting myself. Oh, the memories.
Of course, it started to rain. Did I mention this was Seattle? No? And that my brother lived just north of town, which meant twice as long, since SEATAC was on the south side? And where would I have him take me? I hadn't even booked a room! What was wrong with me?
I was a dripping, sodden, nose-running mess when a big white car pulled up. I reached out, opened the door, and got in.
"Where to, bitch?" a voice growled.
"Any fucking ... uh ... where?"
Something wasn't right. Something niggled at my nerves, my senses. My brother smoked, for one thing. This car smelled clean. My brother sometimes had B.O. This guy was ... slowly I turned my head. This guy was not my brother.
"Oh shit!" I stammered, my heart pounding.
Had I just blundered into some stranger's car and insulted him as well? But ... I'd called my brother. I saw the name Mike. You can't mistake that for some total asshole stranger, although my brother would, of course, have called me a bitch.
The car pulled over, and the driver's head turned until he was looking right at me. His hair was dark, his eyes shone blue even in the dim light. He was angry, that's why, I figured.
"Who are you, and why do you have Merry's phone?"
"I -- what?"
Ohhhhh, myyy God. Merry's phone. I'd never given it back to her, had I? And right then, it rang, as if a devil had summoned it.
"Give it to me," my driver snarled.
"Who is this? Merry? What? What the? What cat! Yeah, you can talk to him!" He passed the phone back to me.
She was laughing, and I knew that laugh. It was Merry, my new neighbor, who had lent me her phone. Whose phone I now had. I could see the number she was calling from, and it was mine. The person who was calling was listed as me.
"Oh, my God," was all I could say. "I'm so sorry!"
She continued to laugh. Was she drunk? I looked, horrified, back at the driver. I held the phone out between us so we could both hear her laughing hysterically.
I pulled it back toward me as the car was flooded with blue and red lights. "Merry? Do you have my phone? I thought it was ... where did you get it?"
"It was under your stove! I went over to your house to get cat food, and Posie led me into the kitchen and started pawing under the stove! I reached under, thinking his favorite cat toy must be there, and it was, along with half a dozen dust bunnies, a dead cockroach, a mouse -- for fuck's sake, don't you ever clean? -- and your phone! I turned it on, thinking it was mine, but ..." She broke down laughing so hard, I could hear Poseidon -- Posie -- meowing worriedly in the background.
Then I looked back over at my not-my-brother.
"I just picked him up at the airport, sir," he said politely to the police officer.
"He's my brother."
"Is that right?"
I nodded vigorously.
"Well, you can't park here. Move along."
The officer left, and we looked at each other, with Merry's happy chortle echoing out of my, I mean, her, phone. He reached over, and I handed him the phone. I couldn't apologize any more. I could crawl under an overpass and die, but not say another word. Besides, I was hungry again, and now I was almost an orphan. All the ingredients needed for a good pity-party.
"I'm so sorry," I said, but he was saying the same words at the same time, so we ended up smiling briefly at each other.
After an interminable minute, I sighed and opened the car door. As I fumbled around for my bag, a hand caught mine. When I looked up, he was shaking his head and smiling. He closed up the phone, shutting Merry off in mid-cackle.
"Don't get out. I'm Mike, Merry's ex. She explained the whole thing to me. I'm sorry about your father. You've just come all this way from Hawaii. Did you eat on the plane? Do you want to get something to eat?"
"No," I said. "I mean, yes. I mean I'm starving. I'm Russell. I called Mike because that's my brother's name. I've been so stupid. But then, my brother always makes me feel that way."
I thought I heard Mike say, I have a brother, too, but we were pulling back onto the highway by then.