Two Truths and a Guy
High school is hard enough. Imagine having to keep a secret that can change your twin’s life.
Sixteen-year-old twins, Stella and Peter, move cross-country with their parents to start fresh and leave their former life behind. Will the past determine their future, or will they finally get their happy ending?
Peter and Stella may be twins, but individually their struggles are one of a kind. From the outside, they seem like two kids just trying to find their way at a new school, but behind closed doors they deal with the emotional baggage from the past they've yet to unpack. Beauty queen Mom counts Stella’s every calorie rather than deal with Peter's transition. And even though Dad supports Peter’s true self, he’s blind to seeing Stella for who she really is. She just wants to be a teenage girl known for anything other than her sibling. Meanwhile, with a skin-tight binder around his chest, and eagerness to fit in with his classmates, Peter feels like he’s suffocating. All this, just to have his outside match his inside––and simply be. If anyone learns their secret, the family’s sacrifice of moving to California will have been for nothing.
Brimming with a rollercoaster of emotion and unwavering hope, Two Truths And A Guy is a heartfelt coming of age story that touches us with the power of loyalty, the need for acceptance, and the importance of living our truth.
BUY THE BOOK
My mom throws out quotes like an inspirational Instagram account. Since we moved to California, I’ve heard them all.
Her favorite—“they say life begins at the edge of our comfort zone”—is my least favorite. My life seemed to end when I stepped outside of mine. And when I changed time zones, all bets were off. Whoever “they” are, were wrong. I used to picture them as a group of geniuses, like the Gods of Google, but maybe they’re just moms. Moms who make up quotes when their kids’ lives are all twisted up.
I flipped my head upside down, staring at the balls of coiled up knots from my blow dryer and hair straightener. They probably rivaled the ones in my stomach. Why did I check my phone? I didn’t need to see my friends having lunch back east, while I was choking down a breakfast smoothie on the West Coast. Posts with #FabFourMinusOne and #SadWithoutStella, meant to make me smile, only reminded me of one thing: life went on without me. I always hated the first day of school, but a new one without my best friends topped the charts.
From the corner of my eye, I saw my bedroom door push open. A pristine pair of white Converse sneakers appeared. There he was. The reason we had moved across the country.
My twin brother.
The temperature in my body rose higher than the hot air on the back of my neck. I unplugged the blow dryer and straightener—trying to tame my curls was useless anyway—and forced a smile, flustered by the weighted corners of my mouth. Hiding behind my smoothie, I chugged the remnants and made a face.
“Let me guess,” Peter tapped the glass in his hand. “‘Cool as a Cuke’?” He took a sip of his own.
“More like ‘Drool Till you Puke’ and yes, cucumbers, celery, and whatever else boosts the metabolism and fights against wrinkles.”
“You sound like a cross between Mom and Dr. Oz.”
“Southern California has made her even crazier,” I murmured, holding the mascara wand to my lashes. I wrinkled my nose, making a face at myself in the mirror. Uh oh. I guess Mom is right - wrinkles are not a good look.
“SoCal Loco?” Peter asked.
My spontaneous chuckle shook my arm, smearing mascara onto my nose. Between that and my wild curls, I should not have been calling anyone crazy. I looked like one of those sad clowns at the circus and kind of felt like one, too.
“See, this is why I never wear make-up,” I said.
“So, why are you?”
I raised my eyebrows and gave Peter a look. “Because instead of getting a straw alongside my smoothie like you did, I got a new tube of mascara. You know Mom—‘Straws cause mouth wrinkles’ and ‘mascara makes everything better’—especially boring brown eyes.”
Peter laughed. “Excuse you! Our eyes are hazel, thank you very much.”
“Whatever they are, now I look like a crazy person.”
“Sounds about right.”
Reaching for a makeup wipe, I dabbed the mishap and eyed Peter’s drink.
“‘Nuttin’ Better Than Chocolate’ for Mommy’s little prince?”
A flicker of something unrecognizable crossed his face. “My drink was the same,” he said stirring the straw.
I tilted my head and gave him a look. “Your lips are brown and mine are green.”
Peter pressed his lips together and traded his glass for mine. I wanted to protest, but my watering mouth spoke louder than a tsunami at Niagara Falls. Only a sip of peanut butter and chocolate could save that natural disaster. I took a hard swallow of saliva.
“I wasn’t trying to guilt you,” I said. “It’s not your fault I’m the only girl in the house whose figure Mom watches like a financial analyst at the New York Stock Exchange.”
“It kind of is,” Peter said.
He had a point. I reached for the glass.
“Don’t let me twist your arm. And don’t listen to Mom. She has body issues. You’re perfect.”
Perfectly imperfect, is probably what he meant to say, but still, my lips twitched into a smile. “Cheers.”
Whether it was Peter’s breakfast—more like dessert in a glass—or just his presence alone, but my long-lost appetite came back in full effect. The drink was gone in seconds.
I hadn’t eaten since lunchtime the day before—a combination of anxiety laced with desperation to fit into the new white jeans that were one inch too expensive and two inches too tight. In between sizes, I wanted to get the bigger ones tailored, but according to Mom, the only option for downsizing was my body. That’s one of the side effects of being raised by an aging beauty queen.
Plunking the empty glass onto the vanity, I turned toward my brother, becoming eye level with a faded Pepsi decal. He had paired a vintage t-shirt with jeans and brand-new sneakers, looking effortlessly casual, whereas I had spent hours staring into my closet and still remained in a robe.
California chic did not come as easy to me. And how was he so chill on our first day in a new school? A slow heat rose inside of me.
“Is that what you’re wearing?” I asked. “The shirt you bought from a vendor at the pier?”
Peter eyed me curiously. “Um, yeah,” he said slowly. “What’s your plan?” He followed my gaze to the bed where a pile of shirts lay in a heap.
“White on bottom. Clueless on top.”
Peter walked over to the bed and separated the pile, pulling out one shirt at a time. He held up a sleeveless lacy shirt with a high neck. “This says you’re a dork, and this one,” he balled up a floral-print and shot it across the room into the trash, “should be weeded from the garden. It’s something Grandma would wear.”
“And do you really wanna look like an East Coast snob?” he asked, waving a Burberry polo in the air.
“What am I supposed to wear?” I whimpered. “And I can’t even believe I’m taking fashion advice from a guy who looks like he’s heading off to pump gas at the station.”
The apples of Peter's cheeks rose, and his face turned pinker than the ruffled tank-top he held in his hand. A comment like that would’ve pissed most brothers off, but Peter wasn’t most brothers.
“You’re welcome,” I said.
“Wear this with the white skinny jeans and those gold corky wedges you love.”
“First of all, they’re boot cut,” I said. “I wasn’t blessed with your legs, ones that are completely wasted on a boy.”
“You got the athletic gene. Hence, the muscles certain guys wish they had,” he said, pointing to himself.
“Whatever—I hate my legs,” I dismissed, “but I am very impressed with your head-to-toe outfit selection.”
“You’re welcome,” he said smugly. “We both know heels are a self-conscious girl’s BFF,” he said, mimicking another classic momism. “And you do know how to rock a tank top. Your arms are one of the few things I’ve never actually heard you complain about.”
“The only thing,” I corrected. “And for the record, my fat phobia is not an inherited trait. It was a learned behavior from the body shaming queen.”
“As was my fashion sense,” Peter said, patting himself on the back. “I wanna suggest a bracelet or necklace, but I wouldn’t dare.”
Shaking my head, I grabbed my wrist and cringed. The mere thought of anything wrapped around my wrists or neck sent a shiver up my spine. It was just one of those weird quirks I’d always had.
“But,” Peter paused and tapped a finger on his lips, “you could wear that gold and pink quartz ring you got in Colorado.”
“Ooh! Damn, you’re good.”
“Why are you so shocked? We always do this.”
“Did this,” I corrected. It had been a while since we’d shared a connection of any sort.
“Well, let’s do it more often. I’m the same person I always was.”
Our eyes locked together. We didn’t say a word, yet volumes were spoken.
Peter’s lips parted.
Oh, no. He wants to have a moment. I could feel it. He had that look on his face. He wanted to speak from his heart and if he did, I would have a breakdown.
“Okay,” I said, hitting my hands together. “I have to finish getting ready. Can’t start a new school looking like I put my finger in an electric socket. You know these curls have a mind of their own.”
I jumped up, knocking my bench to the floor, and grabbed the dirty sneakers I had kicked underneath my vanity.
“What are you doing?”
“Don’t move.” Slipping my hand into the sneakers, I stamped them all over Peter’s Converse, my unruly curls bouncing to the beat. Little traces of dusty dirt appeared on the stark white canvas.
I sat back on my heels, surveying my handiwork. “Gas station look complete,” I said with a nod.
Peter laughed and extended his hand, helping me to my feet. “You really are crazy.”
“I believe the proper term is SoCal Loco.”
Our eyes met and a warm whoosh of familiarity swept over me. For a brief moment, I forgot how much had changed between us.