Just Friends? Part 1

My entry in the Reader Retention contest.

Just Friends? Part 1

by **Sigh**
Copyright © 2019 plaintivesigh
All Rights Reserved.

Meghan had a lover. She just needed Rick as a good friend.

~o~O~o~

Meghan sat at an empty table in Pizzagogo, her second favorite Italian joint. It was Derek’s first favorite, so meeting here was a concession to him, something to make him more comfortable. And she needed him to be comfortable for this date

At least, he would probably think of it as a date. She was sure he had no idea of the blow she was about to give him. Would it be a blow? People were more open minded and forward thinking these days. Perhaps there was more than a distant chance he would shrug his shoulders, smile, let the news roll away like water off a duck’s back, then say “I only love you more now.”

Riiiiight, Meghan thought, sipping on her cola and gripping her cell phone like a sprinter’s baton. I halfway believed my little fantasy there until I imagined he ‘said’ that. Don’t get your hopes up, Meg; in fact, the plan is to anticipate the worst scenario, remember? Then you can never be let down, and in fact you might even be pleasantly surprised.

She closed her eyes. Please, please let me be pleasantly surprised.

“Hey, Meggie! Are you falling asleep? Don’t tell me you got bored while waiting for me – I’m only 3 minutes late.” This statement came from a pair of lips that then kissed Meghan on the cheek.

Meg’s eyes opened and lit up with joy mixed with a little dread. Her lips, though, burst into an unconflicted beaming smile. “Derek! Hey there, lover!”

Simultaneously, at the Pizzagogo bar - 15 feet from Meg’s table - sat a large man. He was bulky and wide, especially at the shoulders, overweight but not obese . He sipped on a club soda; it was his Tuesday lunch break, so alcohol was a no-go. Besides, he needed to be alert and vigilant. As stealthily as he could, he glanced repeatedly at Meg and Derek. He couldn’t hear their conversation; instead he was monitoring their body language, especially Meg’s eyes. His silenced cell phone was in his left hand; he gripped it tight, so as to not miss any vibration.

A waiter promptly brought Derek a hot slice of double pepperoni Neapolitan pie. “I ordered for you so it’d be ready when you came in. That’s what you always get anyway,” Meg said.

“You amaze me as always, Meggie. So giving, and you anticipate my every need. I have never known a girl with the combinations of love, intelligence, and sexiness like I see in you.” Derek blew on his steaming lunch slice, then took a amall bite before continuing. “That’s why I asked if you could go with me to Shreveport this weekend. Speaking of which, are you able to go?”

Meghan took a deep breath. “You mean go there – to meet your parents.” Her face now took on a clearly anguished, uncertain look. “You know, Derek, that’s what a guy does with a girl when he’s thinking about marriage. Is that how serious you see us getting?”

“Well … yeah. Don’t you?”

Meg shook her head, then stopped, then slowly nodded. “Yes. God help me, yes I do. But it wasn’t supposed to get this far. I mean, we started as an exclusively sexual relationship. That’s all I wanted, someone to –“

“Fuck your brains out,” Derek whispered with a sly grin.

“Yeah,” Meg half smiled (she couldn’t help it). “I came to the club that night hunting for Big Stud Game and you were there – the biggest stud in the room. I walked right up to you and said …”

“If I don’t have you in my bed in the next 20 minutes I will die. Please save my life,” he finished. He laughed devilishly at the memory.

“That was so corny of me,” she blushed.

“But effective!” he replied. “Yeah, you were – you ARE – a wet dream come true. Always ready for sex! But after a while I began to want you with me outside the bedroom. So I asked you to the movies, to that jazz concert –“

“I remembered how pleasantly surprised I was to see you were a refined, cultured soul,” Meg sighed.

Derek went on – “the day at the lake, and camping that night under the stars. I’m in love with you, Meggie. I have never wanted to spend my life with any other girl; you are the fulfillment of my search for completeness. Yes, I was going to propose if Shreveport went well. So there goes that surprise. But I can tell by the way you look that you aren’t happy with all of this. What’s wrong?”

Meghan didn’t reply immediately. She was lost in rapt appreciation of this man she’d fallen in love with. He was gorgeous – 6 foot 1 inch high, his arm muscles all ripply and defined as was the rest of his body. A sexy, sparse amount of golden chest hair peeked through his partially unbuttoned work shirt. Clean shaven face, with an honest-to-goodness Kirk Douglas dimple on his chin. Piercing blue eyes. Blonde hair in a stylish undercut - short on the sides, long and combed back on the top. These were all the qualities that made her choose him as her sexual conquest three months ago in that club. And god, did he ever deliver in bed. He was the pinnacle of erotic desire. Except now she’d also fallen for his companionship, his soul, his personality, his tenderness, his sense of humor, his –

“Uhh … Earth to Meggie, come in Meggie,” Derek whispered. He looked quizzically at his date. She jumped slightly at being jolted out of her reverie; then, her face fell into a frown as she realized it was time to put it all on the table.

“Derek. Baby. We need to have a serious talk. So I need you to just listen to me for a few minutes, without interruption. Is that okay?”

Derek’s countenance became very serious. “Meggie - wouldn’t this be more appropriate where we have more privacy, like my place? The lunch crowd here is going to be deafening in a few minutes.”

“No. I need to do this in a public place. I’m afraid of your possible reaction; I’m afraid you’ll be so angry that you could even get… violent.”

Derek sat agape, his jaw hitting the floor. He had never threatened her – or any girl he’d been with.

“Honey,” she continued, “do you remember how I told you explicitly many times that I just wanted a physical relationship? The reason for that is I wouldn’t have to bring up my past. My past … well, most guys would feel it’s a deal-breaker for any potential relationship. I can’t believe I let myself fall in love with you, because now I must have this discussion that I never wanted to have with you.”

“Babe, “ he interrupted despite her earlier admonition, “it doesn’t matter. I don’t care what happened in your past. If you’re a convicted felon, or were a hooker, or a drug addict or axe murderer – none of that matters, because you aren’t any of those things now. ”

“It’s none of those things. It’s … worse. Not to me, and not to a lot of people, especially these days. But it will be with you, I’m afraid.”

“What could be worse than being an axe murderer?” Derek laughed. “I mean, are you an alien from Mars here with orders to abduct me? Even that would be okay as long as you were my personal abductor.”

Meghan was quiet, pursing her lips, waiting for his mental gears to grind more.

He continued to laugh. “I know you aren’t a transsexual. I’ve known some trannies; I can read all of ‘em – Adam’s apple, big shoulders, tall – maybe except for those Thai or Brazilian freaks that they start on hormones when they’re kids. I’ve seen every inch of your body, and you are an all natural born bona fide woman.”

Meghan remained still, silent and staring at Derek. Her brow furrowed. Her lip started to quiver. A tear ran down her cheek.

Her beau saw this, and ever so slowly his mood turned from jovial to shocked. Ever so slightly, his eyes narrowed in a clearly wounded appearance.

“Derek,” Megan choked out, “I have always been female in the places it really counts to me – my head and my heart. And for the last half-year, I’ve been female in all the places it should count to you. I’m one of the lucky ones – I pass without question, even though I’m Irish and not Thai or Brazilian. I know I could be a great wife to you, better than a lot of ‘natural born bona fide’ women. All you have to do is accept me, baby.”

Derek now looked sad yet irritated, shaking his head emphatically. “Meggie … if you want to break up with me, just tell me. Don’t give me a lie to make me leave you. I know you absolutely aren’t a tranny. I’ve seen you, every bit of you. You’re not full of silicone and implants; your voice is high and feminine. You’re 5’6” or something thereabouts, for Pete’s sake. Why are you wanting to split up?”

Meghan hung her head and shook it emphatically. “I don’t want to break up with you, Derek! I want to stay with you – and yes, I want to marry you! But I am a transgender woman – born with male parts, but female in my heart and mind!” She reached into her purse and pulled out her smartphone. “I thought this might be hard for you to accept. So – God, how I’m dreading this – here are some photos of myself before I started living full time as Meghan. These are from when I was living as a boy named Milton.”

The stunned beau flipped through the photos on her phone, his jaw rapidly dropping,

The bulky man at the bar held his breath. Derek’s face was turned away from him, but the young man’s body language obviously changed – arms and legs tense, torso arched backwards. The watcher’s body tensed also, readying.

Derek was now clearly angry. “You … lied … to me!”

“I didn’t tell you the truth about me. We were just supposed to have sex, then move on. I should have told you about me by the second date, at least.”

“You should have told me that first night before we left the club! I would have dropped you like a hot potato. Now I’ve lost three months of my life and you’ve torn my heart out!”

“Baby – let’s take 48 hours apart, and then connect by phone. Just please calm down, and think about this with a cooler head – “

“You think that will protect you, freak? In fact, do you still think that being in a public pizza joint will prevent me from slapping the hell out of you?” He raised his right hand and stood up suddenly, leaning across the table at Meghan. His right arm surged with power to give a stunning blow – yet the limb failed to move.

“Whoa there, buddy.” The voice came from behind Derek, as a large hand now held onto Derek’s wrist, rendering it ineffective. A second large hand gripped Derek’s left shoulder, and pushed down with strength, forcing him back into his seat. The angry auto mechanic twisted his neck around to see how many were restraining him.

It was only one guy, a big-shouldered refrigerator of a man. He continued to hold Derek captive in his chair. “I’ll let you go if you promise to control yourself.”

“Let the f*** go of me and mind your own f***ing business! I have an issue with this fag–” Derek pointed towards Meghan, but her seat was now empty.

“She’s gone, buddy. Did you a favor. Assault and battery ain’t chump change.” The big stranger leaned over and whispered in Derek’s ear. “For what it’s worth, you have a right to be angry. She didn’t intend to deceive you, but deceive you she did. So be angry. But leave her alone, or you’ll have me to deal with. Got it?”

Derek was still mad but a little more in control. “What, are you friends with that piece of sh-“

“GOT IT? … I require an answer to my question, bub,” the bigger man growled lowly while simultaneously squeezing his grips to the point of pain.

“Ow! Shit! Okay, okay, I got it! Now lemme go!”

In a remarkably quick motion for someone of his size, the stranger released Derek while simultaneously pulling a chair up next to him. He sat and faced his thinner companion. “Deep breaths. That’s it. Yes, I’m Meg’s friend, but I want the best for you too – and that means helping you keep your cool.”

Derek glared at him in a sideways glance. “So you obviously know what she – or what HE, what IT – is. Are you a lover she’s kept on the side? Or maybe a pimp? Or just a bleeding heart snowflake that thinks she ought to have her own special pronouns and piss in whatever public bathroom she wants? Meggie’s a freak, and so are you for protecting her.”

The big stranger sat there with calmness, patiently listening as Derek spewed his insults. Then he replied. “Yes, I know she is a transgender woman. No, I’m not a lover or a pimp or a snowflake. I’m just a friend. I’ve known Meg since junior high, when she was a pre-teen boy. She was unhappy as a boy even back then, but couldn’t get her folks to help her in any way.

“She’s a high quality, amazing human being who screwed up by not trusting you with her past from the start. So take some days or weeks to cool off and think it through. If you find you want her in spite of her past, go tell her and renew the special thing you guys had. If not, drop it, let her go and both of you get on with your lives separately.”

Derek shook his head in confusion. “She looks so real. How old was she when she started to change her body? I would guess - way before puberty, right?”

“Nope. She started her official transition 2-and-a-half years ago. Got her sex change surgery 6 months ago.”

“No way! I don’t believe you. She was an adult male? There is no way. Her body is too authentic! I know plastic surgery can do wonders, but not …!”

“The best I can explain it is that Meghan’s lucky. There are a few guys out there who, if they wanted to, would make great women physically. Most of those guys aren’t transgendered. I’m talking like, Elijah Wood – you know, Frodo. From the Lord of the Rings. Guys that are short and look like tweenagers when they’re really young adults. That was Meg’s blessing. And when she started hormones, her body just blossomed into the sexy knockout you know her as.”

Derek shook his head. “She’s not sexy to me anymore. You obviously think she is. You can have her.”

“Sorry, buddy. I’m happily married. She’s just a friend; I was here today to prevent her being beaten, in case you decided to get angry and physical. Which you did, unfortunately. So I had to step in.

“Now as far as bathrooms go, she obviously should go to the women’s room, right? But I feel you on the pronouns; I stick with he, she, them. The others confuse me, and I know I’ll mess it up if I try to use ‘em. By the way …”

The stranger extended his hand to a calmer, cooler Derek –

“- my name’s Rick. Good to meet you. Are you copascetic with my suggestions?”

Derek tilted his head. “What suggestions?”

Rick’s voice became subtly deeper. “Cool off for a few days or weeks. Then get back with her, or let her go. No stalking. No revenge.. Be angry all you want, but take it out on your pillow at home. No trolling on social media. Or else …”

“Or else I’ll have to deal with you, right?”

Rick smiled. “Glad we understand each other. Have a nice day now.”

With that, both men got up and left the joint, headed in separate directions.

~o~O~o~

To be continued tomorrow.

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