My latest lesbian romance story, Skin Deep, also features a transgender character. It comes out widely tomorrow, but is already available on Amazon.
Mackenzie “Mack” Shaw coaches the Lady Rebels, a women’s college basketball team. Her players think she’s approachable and fun, and when two of them ask her to tag along to the Richmond Tattoo Arts Festival, she agrees, but she isn’t interested in getting inked.
At the Festival, Mack meets Heather Kelley, an androgynous-looking tattoo artist who piques her interest. Flirtatious small talk leads to a first date, and the two women really hit it off.
The new basketball season keeps Mack busy, and Heather has personal issues that prevent her from committing fully to a relationship. But as the months go by, Mack and Heather form a deeper connection through texts and phone calls and the occasional get-together, even if they don’t have time to officially “date.”
Despite their growing closeness, Mack can’t help feeling there’s something Heather is hiding from her. Then, as she’s coming home from an away game, she receives the dreaded text, We need to talk. Is Heather finally ready to share her deepest secret with Mack? Is she ready to explain why some people call her Heath? Mack’s in love with Heather, but is the love she feels more than skin deep?
The doorbell rang a second time. “I’m coming!” she called, though she knew whoever it was wouldn’t be able to hear her. The front door was at one end of the house, the bathroom at the other. A long hallway stretched the length of the house, the hardwood floor covered with faded throw rugs that slipped under Mack’s bare feet as she hurried to the door.
She reached it before the bell could ring again. Taking a deep breath to collect herself, she forced a smile and threw the door open wide. “Hey, Heather. Sorry –”
“Wow,” Heather said, interrupting her. “You look gorgeous.”
Mack felt her face heat up and she ducked her head. “This old thing?” She held one side of the dress out, almost as if she were about to curtsey, then opened the door wider instead. “I just threw something on. Come on in a minute, let me get my shoes. You look real nice, too.”
And she did. Heather must’ve gone home to change after the tattoo festival, as well; instead of the low-riding jeans and faded henley shirt, she now wore a pair of khakis and a snug, button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled three-quarters of the way up her arms. Mack caught a glimpse of a tattoo inked on her forearm that disappeared underneath the sleeve. Her boyishly short hair was gelled at the sides and angled up, spiked in the middle like a faux-hawk that made her look even younger than she already did. Still no makeup, though. Mack wondered if she should wipe off her own.
Now that it’s finally dried? Too much trouble. This shit’s on for the night.
As she dug a pair of black flats out of her closet, she asked over her shoulder, “Did you have trouble parking? I was going to meet you outside, I’m sorry –”
“Don’t be,” Heather said. “I just double-parked out front and threw on my hazards. I didn’t think we’d be long.”
“Oh! Good idea.” With a laugh, Mack balanced on one foot to pull on her shoe, then switched sides to step into the other. “Any thoughts on where we’re going? Or is it a surprise?”
Heather grinned. “It isn’t a surprise, I can tell you.”
“No, don’t.” As Mack stood, she smoothed down her hair to make sure it still looked alright. “I like surprises. I’m ready to go when you are.”
“I’m ready,” Heather said, hooking her fingers into the front pockets of her khakis. “I’ll tell you, it’s okay. A lot of people say they like surprises but really, they don’t.”
Mack looped both arms through Heather’s and leaned against her, suddenly flirty and coy. This would be a fun night, she decided. “No, no, I do. Surprises keep you on your feet. I mean, look at us. This morning we didn’t even know each other and now, here we are, going out to dinner. Bet you didn’t see that coming.”
With a laugh, Heather admitted, “No, I didn’t.”
“And I’ve never dated anyone with a tattoo before. I don’t even know what yours look like, or if you have more than one.” Mack tugged down Heather’s sleeve to cover the exposed skin. “That’s another surprise right there. If we’re lucky, things will just keep getting better for us.”
She rested her chin against Heather’s arm and looked up at the tattoo artist. This close, Heather’s fine-boned features were decidedly elfish, and Mack didn’t know if the poor lighting in the hallway was to blame, but the slightest turn of her head seemed to make Heather shift from an attractively androgynous woman to a feminine young man.
Either way, what Mack saw pleased her. “I like you,” she announced, unembarrassed by the boldness of her statement. She tightened her arms around Heather’s, holding it tight between her breasts. “Tonight’s going to be good, I just know it.”
A thin blush colored Heather’s cheeks. “I hope so. I thought we’d get a bite to eat down in –”
“Bup bup!” Mack touched a finger to Heather’s lips to silence her. Though she wore no makeup, her mouth was slick with Chapstick and her lips felt kissably soft, a promise Mack hoped to fulfill later that evening. “I told you, surprise me.”