Sequel to Out of Order
After witnessing the murders of her three best friends and having their killer arrested, Corey Nguyen is having trouble adjusting to life after high school. Now a freshman in college, all she wants is to put her dark past behind her, make some new friends, and keep her head down until it all blows over.
To Corey’s dismay, her new world comes crashing down when the killer suddenly claims he was coerced into a confession, which means Corey will have to face her friends’ killer in court. Testifying in a murder trial forces her to relive the horrifying events of prom night, and to top it all off, she’s pretty sure her mother is having an affair with the prosecuting attorney, her therapist might be turned against her, and she’s falling for the one person who is totally off limits.
It’s clear her ordeal isn’t over yet, but Corey might be one panic attack away from losing her mind and making a mistake that could see a guilty man walk free.
“I’m a gold-star lesbian, obviously.”
“Gold star?” I asked bemusedly. “I didn’t realize we were being graded, or I would have studied harder.”
Valerie laughed softly. “I got the feeling at Pride that you were a late bloomer. A newbie. Gold-star just means a lesbian who hasn’t been with a man. Sometimes, you know, there are girls who aren’t sure so they have sex with a guy to see if they like it. Or they get pressured to date guys by homophobic parents and sleep with guys to keep up appearances while they’re in the closet. Or they’re in denial.” She waved her free hand like she was shooing away the thought. “But I’ve never even kissed a guy. Only slept with ladies. So I’m gold-star.”
“You sound so proud of that. Like it’s an accomplishment.” I was surprised but intrigued. The concept had never crossed my mind.
“Well, it just means that I never wavered. I knew what I wanted, and I never succumbed to heteronormativity. Some people think that you have to have had sex with a guy and not enjoyed it to become a lesbian, but that’s bull.” Valerie tapped her fingers along the side of her cup as though agitated. “A lot of lesbians take pride in it if they’ve never had a man touch them. It’s like a purity thing.”
“So what are bisexuals, then? Tainted?” I demanded, only half joking, trying not to let any hurt creep into my voice. I was starting to feel insulted.
Valerie snorted, still tapping. A stone settled in my stomach, low and heavy. Her finger-tapping, tea bag dunking, twitchy never-still self was suddenly very much on my nerves.
“Bisexuality is just a code word. The real thing is hard to come by,” she said matter-of-factly. “It’s a word for gay men who are too scared to come all the way out of the closet and want to keep one foot in the door. Or it’s a transition in their coming-out process, so people get used to the idea that they’re into guys before they come out as gay. Or it’s straight girls who kiss their friends to get attention from men.”
“So the whole letter in LGBT is just for show, then? They don’t exist?” I was surprised Valerie hadn’t picked up on my hackles going up. My temperature was rising, my hands gripping my coffee cup, my jaw clenching.
“A true bisexual is like a unicorn. Anyone who says they’re bi is probably lying. I mean, there might be a few of them out there, but I’m not going to go around kissing straight girls masquerading as them to find one. That only leads to heartbreak.”
“You wouldn’t date someone bisexual?” My heart was racing. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I felt a bit like an undercover spy or a reporter looking into the Secret Minds of Lesbians.
“No, I’d be too afraid of them leaving me for a guy. Or, God forbid, asking for a threesome with one. No thanks. I don’t want any penises anywhere near me or the person I’m with.” She sipped her tea. I wanted to kick her. “So, what about you? When did you know?”
I considered the question a moment before I answered. After taking a moment to steady myself, I said, “I questioned for a while after I started high school. Dated a couple of guys. Got really passionate about LGBT issues and started a GSA, even though I wasn’t too sure yet. Then I fell in love with one of my best friends. Kate.”
My hands were still clenching my coffee cup, gripping like I’d never let go. The plastic lid was about ready to pop off. Valerie nodded sympathetically.
“I’m sorry you lost her. The first girl is always special. My first love and I still stay in touch.” She reached across the table between us and touched my hands with hers. I pulled back, bringing my hands and my coffee out of her reach. “What’s wrong?”
“I exist.” I let go of my cup for fear of breaking it and spilling coffee, putting my palms flat on the table as I looked into her ridiculously large eyes. “And apparently my existence offends you in some way. I’m bisexual.”