“It is what it is.” Navon didn’t know whether to sit or stay on his feet. The one thing he could be certain of was that Solara wouldn’t allow him to stay much longer. The guy hadn’t wanted him there in the first place. “Charlie?”
“Solara,” the other man snapped.
At least there’s some emotion there now. “Sorry,” Navon said. “Solara.”
“I go by Solara Flare. My stage name and the name I prefer. And female pronouns.” Solara sighed. “Not that it matters, because once you walk out this door, you won’t be seeing me again.”
“Why female pronouns?” Navon asked the question before he could stop himself. It wasn’t any of his business how Solara chose to refer to him—herself. He didn’t need to know the reasons because Solara was probably right. They wouldn’t see each other again.
That hurt like hell. Navon didn’t know what he’d expected from this visit, but he’d hoped his former lover would at least be happy to see him. He’d believed that maybe after so long apart, Charlie would want to spend a little time with Navon before Navon returned to Los Angeles. Obviously he’d underestimated the impact of the past on Solara.
To Navon’s surprise, Solara answered. “I’ve always asked for female pronouns when I’m in drag. I use my drag name as a daily thing, so I carried the pronoun thing over as well. And it’s another layer of protection. A female named Solara didn’t seem as likely to be on certain people’s radar.”
Mason’s radar. Navon had no doubt that was what Solara meant. Mason had always been pissed off if anyone referred to Charlie by his drag name or used female pronouns or even terms like “girl” or “bitch.” The jackass had been adamant that the “woman shit” remain only onstage or during other appearances and not cross into Charlie’s regular life at all.
Navon had to wonder if Solara had chosen deliberately to go against that order, not only to hide from Mason but because she knew it would have infuriated him if he’d ever found out.
“If you’re going to give me what you brought, better do it now,” Solara said. “Nice to see you, nice to fuck you. Now get out. Please.”
The raw pain in that single word pushed Navon into action. He knelt beside his backpack. “I didn’t mean to bring up bad memories.”
“It is what it is,” Solara said with a slight note of sarcasm. “Just like I always say. You asked why I never told anyone? I tried. That last time in the hospital. They laughed at me. Said he was so much smaller that I should have been able to ‘take him’ in a fight. A gay man hammers the shit out of another gay man, and no one cares. Especially if the one doing the hammering is smaller. I knew that. I wouldn’t have said a damn thing if they hadn’t recognized the injuries as an assault and told me to report who did it.”
Navon pressed his lips together and focused on opening the backpack. It was bad enough he’d wanted to kill Mason when he’d found out about the beating. Now he had a whole list of others to hate. Everyone who had let Solara down.