The single most important thing in Noah Ramirez’s life? The Meet Cute Diary, his collection of trans happily ever afters. There’s just one problem—all the stories are fake! When a troll exposes the blog, Noah sets off to prove them wrong–by fake-dating Drew, the next cute boy he meets. Noah thinks he’s an expert at romance, but he’s about to learn that the most romantic endings are the ones that go off script.
Meet Cute Diary is an adorable rom-com about a triracial, transgender teenager that’s perfect for fans of Kacen Callender and Mason Deaver. Start reading this sneak peek now!
The Meet Cute
The moment Fate brings you together and you connect with this person—even if just for a moment—in a way you never connected with anyone before.
Saturday, May 26
It all started with an ice cream shop.
The sweetness was already coating the air, the sugar coursing through my veins, getting me high. I’d never been to the shop before, but a friend had recommended it as the tastiest place in town, and I needed to know for sure.
But then I noticed him. He walked in with a group of female friends flanking him, and I didn’t think much of it as they sat at the table directly behind mine. Of course, I hadn’t gotten a great look at him, and it’s not like I came to an ice cream parlor looking for love.
I finished my sundae and pushed my chair back, ready to go. But just at the moment that I tried to stand, he leaned back, stretching out his arms and bumping into me. I whipped around, eyes widening as I met his, and finally got a good look at him—tall, dark hair, a jawline so perfect he might as well have been the inspiration for the David.
“Oh, um, sorry,” he said, rushing to brush a strand of hair out of his face.
My breath caught in my throat, but I managed a quick, “No, it was my fault.”
He smiled back at me, and I could tell he was nervous, but I wouldn’t call him on it. After all, I was nervous too.
When we parted ways, I didn’t think I’d see him again.
As I made my way down the street, I heard the sound of harried footsteps behind me. When
I turned around, there he was, a concerned expression on his face and his breathing hard.
“Hey, um, you forgot your wallet,” he said, his face flushed from running. He held it out to me, and
I accepted it with shaky hands.
I laughed. “Sorry about that.”
“It’s okay,” he said. “Actually, I’m glad I got the chance to see you again. I was wondering if maybe you’d want to get coffee with me?”
And we’ve been dating ever since.
Bbsdate replied: This is the cutest MCD post ever! I’m so happy for you guys!
Unrulycatmom replied: Congrats, you two!
Jdbarry replied: I can’t wait to have a meet cute like this one day! So sweet!
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The rideshare smells like weed, which, given I’m in Denver, Colorado, on my way to a college barbecue, I have to admit is a bit too stereotypical, even for me. My brother, Brian, sits by the opposite window, animatedly talking to our driver like the real social butterfly he is. Me? I’ve got my eyes trained on my phone, reading through the DMs sent after my latest blog post. I shoot back little heart emojis and tons of thanks to my many adoring fans. Just enough to show them I still care since I’m going to be preoccupied with family time for the rest of the day.
Mountains fly by outside the window, and I have to keep myself from gawking at them because wow, literally everything’s beautiful out here—the trees, the mountains, the vast majority of the guys I’ve bumped into since I got dropped off.
It’s funny because I’m in this strange land that’s so different from where I come from, but it’s also kind of comforting. There’s no one here to remember who I used to be, to tell me I have to live like I did for the past sixteen years of my existence. I’m barreling down the highway of my new life with no one to pull that back-seat driver BS.
And even if I don’t pass, there’s a part of me that’s starting to get swept up in the magic just a little bit too. Like maybe all I needed was a change of scenery for my real life to begin.
So when Brian invited me to tag along to this college brofest, I hesitantly agreed. I mean, hanging out with my brother and all of his frat brothers isn’t exactly my definition of a good time, but I’m stuck here for the summer while my parents make the great move from Florida to California, and as annoying as college guys are, I can’t exactly find fuel for my blog locked in a closet all day.
I mean, I’m basically the queer Superman, putting on a secret identity that makes me even hotter just so I can go around saving people with my ultra-secret project.
It’s called the Meet Cute Diary, a blog designed to bring love to trans kids in need.
In a lot of ways, it’s the single most important thing in my life.
I lock my phone and slip it into my pocket, glancing toward Brian to make sure he’s not peeking over my shoulder. He leans forward in his seat and makes some dad joke about the retreating mountains, while the driver forces out a fake laugh as he guides us off the freeway. From the highway, I can almost pretend I’m still in Florida, but the second we take the exit, the looming mountains and greenery steal my breath. This tiny little car feels even smaller with trees and rock formations staring down at us.
Brian taps a hand against the back of the passenger seat, which is pulled all the way up, a tiny trash bag hung around the headrest. “I’m telling you, man, that play was the worst one I’d seen all season. Like, completely amateur.”
Ugh, is he talking about sports? Gross.
When we were kids, Brian and I were really close. We’ve only got a three-year age gap, and we used to share everything—toys, music, friends. Then he got a car and a booming social life, and soon I got out of his way so he could impress all his new friends. And really, it makes sense. He’s the athletic type, conventionally attractive, really personable. Straight. Cis.
He was the second person I came out to. I told him just before Christmas this past year, thinking it might be easier since he lived halfway across the country. And really, he took it rather well, albeit a bit . . . overzealously? He kept sending me links to books about trans people and trans actors getting roles and just about any article that vaguely related to transness at
all. It was all kind of ridiculous, but I’d rather he be a bit too invested in my transition than outright reject it.
And in a way, I feel like things between us have gotten better than they were when we were kids. Maybe it’s just me. It kind of feels like everything’s better now that I’ve grown into who I am.
When the car stops in front of what looks like a frat house, Brian shoves open the door and hops out like he’s about to run a marathon even though he’s got a long metal tray in hand. I roll my eyes before sliding out after him.
I blink back against the overbearing sunlight, and Brian laughs, slapping a hand against my shoulder as he says, “Don’t worry. It’s just sun. It won’t kill you.”
Which is bold of him to say since my sun aversion is largely his fault. My current “bedroom” is a closet, which I told Brian is child abuse, but it’s not really the space or even the lazy metaphor
that bothers me. I basically end up oversleeping every morning since no sunlight filters in, which means I lose out on valuable Denver time and even more valuable social media time with all my old Florida friends.
And really, this week that I’ve spent in Denver is also the first week I’ve spent openly trans, and it’s stifling to be locked inside all day. I wanna let my hair down, or at least what’s left of it since I chopped most of it off for my transition.
We hit the smoky backyard and are immediately greeted by a loud as hell group of college students. Brian passes off the tray to some guy in a baseball cap, who opens the lid with an eyebrow raised. The crowd’s pretty white, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve never seen onigiri before, but Brian stayed up pretty late last night making them. He’s been on a cooking kick for the past month or so since he started dating a white girl who likes “exotic cuisines.” It’s all part of that straight-girl fixation on jocks who “embrace their feminine side” by cooking and taking care of animals, but definitely not by wearing dresses or makeup.
Maggie comes up and kisses Brian’s cheek. I’ve never seen her in person before, but she’s pretty in that tall, thin white girl way, with waist-length brown hair and acrylic nails.
Brian introduces me to the group, saying, “This is my brother, Noah.”
A Black girl with gorgeous dark skin and a badass fro claps Brian on the shoulder and says, “Oh, a real brother?”
And Brian flushes, his eyes going wide as he jumps in to defend my manhood or whatever. “Yeah, of course he’s my real brother. Why would you think he’s not real? He’s totally valid—”
“Brian,” I say, using a cough to cover the laughter bubbling up in my chest, “pretty sure she means not a frat brother.”
Brian lets out a rush of air and says, “Oh, yeah, of course. Biological brothers.”
The girl laughs, and Brian awkwardly shuffles me away to introduce me to the rest of the party. I don’t know what he’s expecting out of it since it’s not like I intend to remember more than like two names. The highlight of today is supposed to be the free hamburgers, which aren’t even ready yet. Sigh.
Once Brian releases me from my social prison, I drop down into a lawn chair and pull out my phone. In an ideal situation, this would be the part where I stumble into the love of my life, but instead I’m brainstorming new ideas for the Meet Cute Diary.
It all started as this way for me to explore my wildest fantasies as a trans boy living in a conservative city. Every time I saw the potential for a real-life meet cute, I’d write it down, clean it up, and add a Disney-worthy ending. Then I’d post the thing as an “anonymous user” on this trans-centered blog, and people would swoon and root for the imaginary me who found the love of his life at a taco bar or a library.
And yeah, it started out as this culmination of my unchecked imagination and desperate need for affection, but now? God, it’s become this hub of trans chatter, a blog with over fifty thousand Tumblr followers cheering on all these trans people in their quests to find love. And as much as I love the attention, there’s something magical about knowing so many people have gathered together behind this belief in true love for people like me, especially when I’m only half-sure I believe in it myself.
“Yeah, Noah’s staying with me for the summer.”
I look up to find Brian and Maggie looking at me, Maggie with this little smirk on her face. She may not be sitting in Brian’s lap, but if they got any closer, I’d need a crowbar to pry them apart.
“Why are you talking about me?” I ask.
Brian raises an eyebrow. “Because you’re staying with me for the summer?”
“Do you like trivia, Noah?” Maggie asks. “We go every Tuesday if you want to join us.”
I do not, in fact, like trivia. I find it to be a complete and total waste of time, and if Brian weren’t dating Maggie, I’m positive he’d agree with me. But I could meet cute guys at trivia, and there’s potential for them to be the intellectual type, which I’m totally down for.
“Sure,” I say.
Brian’s got something like relief on his face. I know he’s been eager to get Maggie and me to be friends, so I’m not gonna break it to him that she doesn’t seem like anyone I’d spend an excessive amount of time with. I’ll let him have this moment.
Brian gets up to grab them both a beer, so I get up to not be left alone with Maggie.
The food’s done, so I snatch up a paper plate and make my way to the cheeseburgers while I work out how to approach this potentially life-changing moment. The burger’s burnt, but I start shoving the whole thing into my mouth anyway. Free food is free food.
Turning back toward the group, I slip on something, and everything slows, my eyes widening as my body hurtles toward the ground like a magnet.
And then a pair of arms surrounds me, catching me like a parachute just before I hit the ground and carefully guiding me back to my feet.
I whip around, my arm brushing the guy who caught me. He’s actually pretty cute—bright blue eyes, a little bit of dark stubble on his chin, dressed in a letterman’s jacket.
“Whoa, you okay?” he asks.
I nod because my voice is caught somewhere in my throat.
He smiles, and for a second, I can pretend he’s flirting with me. I mean, I’m cute as hell, and he’s probably thinking about how Fate must have been working overtime to bring us together. His eyes rove over me once, like he’s trying to drink me in, memorize every line of my body so he’ll never forget this moment that we spent together.
This is the part where he’ll say he doesn’t usually go to college parties, but he’s glad he made it to this one. I’ll laugh shyly, extending my hand as I introduce myself, and he’ll be enraptured, his hands trembling as he returns the gesture.
Then he says, “Be careful next time. You almost ate it.”
“Yeah,” I say, but he’s already walking away. And really, his face is already fading from my mind, but God, that could’ve been the perfect meet cute. Why couldn’t he just talk to me?
But then, I also know how this works. I’m a gay, triracial trans guy who only passes when the sun aligns with the moon just right and the Earth tilts upside down. Dudes like me don’t just get to stumble into the perfect little meet cute. No, if we want meet cutes, we have to make them ourselves.
Sunday, May 27
After he helped me get my footing, he said, “Are you okay?”
I nodded, my heart racing. He really was the most beautiful guy I’d ever seen—one of those hot
lumberjack beards and sparkling green eyes. “I’m sorry,” I said. “I can be clumsy sometimes.”
And he laughed, a glint in his eye as he said, “It’s fine. I’m just glad you didn’t make a joke about falling for me.”
I laughed too. He stuck his hands in his pockets and said, “You know, I can’t believe we haven’t met before.”
“I just moved here.”
“Oh, well, would you like someone to show you around sometime?”
I smiled, warmth spreading through me. “I’d love that.”
And we’ve been going out ever since.
Bubblebabe replied: This is beautiful! Love this meet cute!
Kissmelikeyoumissme replied: I want a relationship like this!
Fungeonparty replied: Thank you for sharing your story! This was so reassuring to read!
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“God, Noah, that’s so corny.”
I roll my eyes but otherwise try to keep my face still so my face mask won’t crack. “Yes, that’s the point of the Meet Cute Diary.”
Becca laughs, but I can tell she’s already going over the story with her editor eyes, even through my phone screen.
Becca and I have been best friends since middle school, but I only let her in on the big bad Diary secret recently. She was the first person I ever came out to back in freshman year, but I still couldn’t bring myself to tell her about the Diary. It’s not as terrifying now that I’m actually out and I don’t live around those Florida bigots anymore, but opening up to her was a huge first step in accepting that I’m really, truly trans. In a way, the Diary’s the most intimate exploration of myself, the kind that’s only meant to be shared with ten thousand strangers who will never know me in real life.
But I had no choice but to tell her a few months ago after the thing blew up. It was impossible for me to answer all the messages I got, respond to comments, and churn out worthwhile blog posts. Now Becca’s my official meet cute location scout and editor, finding the perfect places for me to stage my potential meet cutes and combing over all the crap I cough up and working her magic, which has the Diary’s readership rising month to month. It isn’t even considered a disruption to our monthly spa date, a new tradition we made up to keep our lives connected while we’re miles apart.
And so far, it’s working, I think. She’s in her bathroom, feet soaking in her tub, and I’ve got this lavender mud face mask I picked up at Target. It’s not the same as seeing each other for eight hours a day at school or her digging through my lunch box every day because my parents make killer Puerto Rican pastries and her parents microwave their tea water, but it’s a start.
“He was really cute,” I say, checking the time on my phone to make sure I haven’t left the mask on too long. Almost as cute as the guy from the ice cream shop with his curly dark hair and the sound of his voice as he passed me my wallet. Actually, I barely remember what his voice sounded like since I never actually made it to the door, and it was pretty loud in there, but I can dream.
“Well, I think you said more actual words to this guy than you did at the ice cream shop, so it’s already a step up.”
And I suppose that may be true, but what I really loved about the ice cream shop meet cute was the tension in the air, the aesthetic backdrop, the setting. So much cuter to think I actually found the love of my life surrounded by my favorite dessert than at some sweaty frat party, though I guess it doesn’t really matter either way since they were both only “reality-inspired.”
“I guess the fans will choose which story is true love,” I say.
“The ice cream shop meet cute’s already one of my most popular stories. Clearly he was my soul mate.”
“You know real relationships take actual work, right?” Becca says. “You’re never gonna find a real soul mate if you keep living vicariously through the blog. You have to look at actual, you know, real life.”
“The blog is real life,” I say, because it’s my life. It’s the single greatest thing I’ve ever made and probably ever will. It’s the entirety of my life’s work and my hopes and dreams all perfectly packaged to share with a world of strangers.
“No, it’s fantasy. It’s not like everything just cruises after the meet cute.”
“Which reminds me!” I sing, picking up my phone to look for the file.
I knew Becca would say something like this, so I’ve been working on the perfect solution. See, Becca constitutes the more cynical side of our duo. Even when we first met over a science project, she was a take-no-nonsense, get-the-work-done kind of person, and I respect that even if it’s just not the way I prefer to do things. I like to believe in happy ever afters and hidden magic because, well, the world kind of sucks, and sometimes, the hope for a fairy-tale romance is all we’ve really got.
Meanwhile, Becca’s always been a bit skeptical about finding the perfect romance ever since her parents got divorced back in seventh grade, but she’s not her parents and neither am I.
Once the file’s sent, I look to my phone and meet her eyes. She looks studious for a moment as she skims the note before finally breaking out into a fit of uncontained laughter.
“What the hell is this garbage?” she says between laughs.
I roll my eyes. “It’s my twelve steps to the perfect relationship! You know, because it doesn’t just end with the meet cute.”
Becca groans. “Noah, I meant you have to commit yourself to a relationship and put in the work to stay with the person, not wait for”—she squints at the screen—“The Trip, aka The Fall Part One.”
She bursts out laughing again, but I just ignore her. She can be as skeptical as she wants, but where she’s all about facts and logic, I’m the love expert, and there’s no doubt in my mind I’ve struck gold. “It’s all about monitoring the steps so you know your relationship is on the right track,” I say. “That way I can cut it off early if it’s doomed to fail anyway.”
“This is literally the opposite of what I meant.”
“Well, then maybe you should be more specific next time.”
She sighs that I’m too tired to keep calling you out, so whatever, do what you want sigh, but the way she looks at me now is just painful. I know she’s worried about me being out in the world on my own. Well, out in the world, and out to the offline world for the first time, but I’ve assured her I’m okay. Things are different now.
Sure, my parents were a little awkward when they dropped me off in Denver and kept driving for Cali, and yeah, my brother’s a bit of a jock and a frat boy, and I don’t think he even knew what the word “trans” meant until I told him it applied to me, but things aren’t all bad. Really, they aren’t. I’m finally away from our old high school—a place so conservative that the only trans girl who ever came out was bullied into a suicide attempt before dropping out during my freshman year. A place where prayer and God came before all things, and that God was even less convinced of my existence than I was of his.
And sure, we’re doing the long-distance thing, but I still have Becca. She’s still my best friend, and even while I’m on a quest for love and she’s doing some super elite, online college program with the University of Colorado this summer, I feel pretty confident she’ll never be able to completely replace me. I’m too damn special.
And every time she opens her transcripts, she’ll see Colorado and hopefully think of me, so there’s that.
“What?” I ask.
“Did you see this note?”
My phone lights up with the link she sent me. I click on it and find some account called KissyKissyBangBang—which is surprisingly not a porn bot—reblogged the most recent Meet Cute Diary story with: this whole blog is a pile of bs. none of these stories are real. stop buying into it.
Which, I mean, okay, I get all sorts of hate on the Diary blog, but this one is different. Really different. They included a link at the bottom of their spiel, and just like that, I’m looking at an entire blog called DebunkingMCD dedicated to finding all the plot holes and inconsistencies in the Meet Cute Diary stories and “proving them false.” I can feel my face mask cracking as stress lines form across my forehead.
“Noah, are you okay?”
But I’m not hearing anything Becca’s saying. I’m scrolling, endlessly scrolling, heartily reading each and every post. And they’re good. Really. They point out errors in the timelines, locales, everything. It’s like this person has been following every post over the past year just to have enough ammo to prove none of it was real.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, they have a whole section for shitting on me, calling me a teenager who’s probably never even been on a date. Saying I can’t possibly know a thing about love, and I’m pathetic for being invested in trans romance. They even go so far as to link posts about psychology and how these relationships could never work out.
I freeze, my voice shaky as I say, “Yeah.”
Becca’s voice is gentle when she speaks next, like she knows any one word could be enough to break me. “It’s gonna be okay. It doesn’t matter what this person posts as long as people disregard it, and they will. They love the Diary.”
And I’m nodding along because she’s right. She has to be. This Diary is a beacon of hope for trans people across the globe. I can’t believe the entire thing is being unraveled all because some troll had too much time on their hands. The Diary is important, and people will see that. They’ll ignore this troll and rally behind the Diary. They have to.
Are you hooked on this Meet Cute Diary sneak peek?
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