Who You Are

Ava began her modeling career at age twenty-four and two years later she was making enough money to purchase a condominium in Manhattan and houses for her parents and sister, Leah.

During those two years, she dated three different guys and the relationships all ended in disaster. In many respects it’s understandable, but that never lessened the pain of promising relationships going sour.

The hours she worked played a role in killing the rapport she built with them and so did the trips away from New York and the fragility of long distance relationships.

Her last shoot was in a studio and a young man named Kyle was in charge of the lighting. He had short blonde hair and blue eyes that sparkled with happiness. His smile was cute and each time she glanced his way, his expression brightened.

During a short break, he approached with a plate of strawberries and sliced apples. In an interview, Ava had mentioned those as two of her favourite snacks and he had either read the article or got very lucky with his choices.

“Could I interest you in these?” he asked.

“Only if you sit down and share them with me.”

His cheeks turned a soft pink, which slowly grew to crimson.

After a few moments, the colour in his cheeks faded and his nervousness changed to a relaxed glow. Most guys make her keep up her defences, but Kyle made her feel at ease and not a predator circling it’s prey.

The break passed much to quickly. It was time to play for the camera and she wondered what people saw in her.

Her sister was prettier and Leah said Ava lit up a room by just walking in. Maybe that’s why Ava hired her as her agent, or because she was the best darn lawyer she knew.

After ten hours the day was done and the studio emptied, except for Ava, Kyle and her bodyguard. Annie had been with her for a year and knew all her secrets. She was an ex-cop and her skills with weapons and self-defence made a nice wall between Ava and anybody who got too close.

Dismissing her gained Ava a frown, especially since Kyle was a stranger. She knew Annie would have Kyle checked out and although she would never spot Annie, she would be close-by.

After helping Kyle roll up some cords, they hailed a taxi and went to a small diner of his choosing. It looked run-down from the outside, but the inside was clean and the homemade food outstanding. They talked for hours and when she looked up, they were the only two customers left.

“I had a great time, Kyle,” she said.

“Most models are nice, but you are unique. My work allows me to light up a room, but you do so just by entering it.”

“Do you know my sister,” Ava teased.

“Uhm, no.”

She laughed. “She says the same thing. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be what I am.”

“It’s late,” he said. “I’ll call an Uber and have him drop you off and then drive me home. You do live close-by?”

During the ride they exchanged phone numbers and at her destination, shook hands.

A week passed quickly and she was pleased to answer her phone and hear Kyle’s voice. Although she had spent the last two years in New York, she had never gone to a Yankees game. It was fun to sit and relax and indulge in a hot dog and she learned more about baseball in one afternoon than she had in her whole life.

Kyle was a Yankees fan through and through and even Ava was jumping up and down when Brett Gardner hit one out of the park, or far enough that he ran all the bases without stopping.

They dated several more times and Annie confirmed that he had no criminal record and wasn’t dating other people.

“Have you told him yet?” Annie asked.

Annie was more than a bodyguard. They had become close and Ava had complete trust in her.

“No,” she sighed.

“Have you stuck to your no tell, no touch rule?”

“I’m not sure that’s such a good rule,” she replied.

Annie laughed. “Oh God, Ava. Don’t tell me this is getting serious?”

“Not real, real serious. But he must think something is off, or that I’m the biggest tease in the city.”

Annie put her hand over Ava’s. “There is no right or wrong answer. You’re under no obligation to tell somebody right away, it’s none of their business.”

“But as soon as I meet somebody new, they assume I’m something that I’m not.”

She patted Ava’s hand.

“As soon as they meet you, they know you’re a good person. What else do they need to know?”

She shrugged. “The truth.”

Days later, Ava arranged a date with Kyle at her favourite coffee shop. She talked about her latest shoot and he talked of his plans to become a professional photographer.

Half way through the second cup, Ava said, “Kyle. I like you and there is something I need to say.”

Kyle shifted on his chair and a look of concern creased his forehead.

Ava leaned closer and whispered. “I’m not who I appear to be.”

“Okay,” Kyle said slowly. “Who are you?”

She reached for his hand and then pulled back. “I was born female, but in a male body.”

“Right,” Kyle said. “And I was born an angel, but lost my halo in a strip club.”

“Seriously. I haven’t completed the transformation. Down there … it wouldn’t be what you would expect.”

Kyle’s hand shook slightly as he raised his cup to his lips. “You don’t look like a tranny. I mean transsexual.”

“That makes it more of a shock when I entrust my secret to others. Promise you won’t tell anybody.”

“Ava, I would never break your trust.”

“Will I see you again?” she asked.

“Only on one condition,” he said.

“What’s that?”

He grinned. “That you stop being a tease and let me kiss you.”

“Would you kiss me now … if I let you?” she teased.

Kyle stood, slipped his hand in hers and helped her out of her chair. “A body part doesn’t make who we are.”

His lips touched hers and they softened as their bodies drew closer and their hearts beat faster.

He whispered, “What if I told you I was female, but born in a male body?”

“Were you?” she asked.

“No.” and he laughed. “Now you kiss me … please.”