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This story arc has been published as a novel!

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Betrayal Is Betrayal Wherever You Find It

Suzanne regretted the words as soon as they were out of her mouth. Not because she really understood what was wrong with what she said, but because... She'd seen people who looked like they'd been slapped by words before. That wasn't how Simon looked. Simon looked like he -- she? -- had expected the blow, had braced for the blow, and was still surprised by how hard the blow had been.

The silence stretched out between them. The whole thing was made more awkward by their respective states of déshabillé. Suzanne finally smoothed her skirt down over her knees and sat up straighter on the orange-tiger-striped couch.

Simon stared across the studio apartment in an unseeing way, finally saying, "Don't you think I tried that?"

Suzanne opened her mouth to say something, then shut it. She pushed a few strands of hair out of her face and tugged her blouse together in front.

Simon said, "Don't you think I spent years trying to be a lesbian?" Simon stood up and peeled the already-open buttondown shirt off, tossing it across the room. "Do I look like a lesbian?"

She looked at Simon. She stared at the lovingly-trimmed beard and moustache, the muscled amber shoulders, and the sculpted chest. She had liked the feel of the small, tight, black curls over the breastbone. She now saw the thin scars curving along the underside of the pectoral muscles. She finally met that disturbing yellow gaze and flinched at the rage she saw there. She felt angry and horrified and betrayed. Why should Simon be angry? Wasn't she the one who had been lied to here?

"I... I think I'd better go," Suzanne said, standing up hurriedly, trying to button her blouse with shaking hands.

Simon stepped in front of her, and with great gentleness, finished buttoning her blouse. Then Simon picked her bra up off the floor, folded it carefully, and tucked it into her handbag.

Suzanne took her handbag. "I... I'm sorry... I wish... I'm just not a..."

"No," Simon said. "And neither am I. Maybe you'll understand that in time." The fine, soft lips that Suzanne had so recently kissed half-curled into a snarl, then pressed together in a thin line. "I'll see you at the cafe sometime."

Simon held the door open for her, waiting patiently while Suzanne located her shoes and her coat. In the hall, Suzanne turned to... say something, anything.

Simon closed the door.

Suzanne was in the front hall when she heard the immense crash from upstairs. She dropped her shoes, shoved her feet into them, and yanked open the front door.

She stopped, face-to-face with a short, redheaded, mannish-looking woman. The woman stepped aside with a gallant little bow. Suzanne scurried past her.

"Ma'am?" the woman drawled.

Suzanne turned to find the woman holding up the lacy black brassiere that had fallen from her bag, dangling it by its delicate straps. She rushed back up the steps, snatched it away, and fled down the path to where her car was parked.

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Wonder City Stories

June 2017

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