Title: CHANGING FACES
Author: Barb Caffrey
Genre: Contemporary LGBT Fantasy-Romance
Publisher: Twilight Times Books
Allen and Elaine are graduate students in Nebraska, have been together for seven years, and are engaged. They love each other very much, and have many things in common. Both play the clarinet, are teaching assistants, are well-respected and seem to have their lives firmly on track. In fact, their life should be idyllic, but Elaine’s past includes rape, neglect, and abuse from those who should’ve loved her—but didn’t, because from childhood, Elaine identified as transgender.
When Elaine tells Allen right before Christmas, he doesn’t know what to do. He loves Elaine, loves her soul, has heard about transgender people before, but didn’t think Elaine was one of them—she looks and acts like anyone else. Now, she wants to become a man and is going to leave.
He prays for divine intervention, and says he’ll do anything, just please don’t separate him from Elaine. And in the form of a car accident, he gets his wish.
Now, he’s in Elaine’s body. And she’s in his. But both were injured, and Allen’s old body (with Elaine inside) is in a coma.
Allen can’t tell anyone who he is. But one thing’s certain: if Elaine can wake up, he wants to be with her. He doesn’t care what body he’s in, or that he, too, is now transgender.
True love matters so much to the universe, once you have found your soulmate, the universe will do anything to keep you together—even change your faces.
“Look, love. You are the same person regardless of what you look like, whether you present as male or female. I will always love you. I’m not about to abandon you. I just don’t understand why, if Ruby Rose can stay in her body as a gender-fluid person, you can’t stay in yours.”
Elaine’s gloved hand reached out, but before we actually touched, she drew back.
“I wish I could explain it, Allen. It’s like a compulsion; now that I’ve told the truth about
myself, I need to find out where that truth leads. And I’m not sure where that path is
going to go.” Her deep brown eyes filled with tears. “I don’t want to deceive you. I love
you too much for that.”
“Honesty is important,” I agreed. “Even so, how do you know that it’s not just
your depression talking?”
“I am depressed,” Elaine admitted. “But it’s mostly because I don’t feel right in
this body. I have never felt right in this body, and the longer I go on in this body, the
more wrong I feel!”
The car had warmed up enough now, so I couldn’t delay this any longer. “Just—
don’t leave me, Elaine. Let’s try to talk this out…” I turned onto the dimly-lit street, and
started to drive.
Elaine sat, silently, next to me, for blocks. Then, she said, “If you can’t accept me
as myself, in whatever body I might have down the road, how can we stay together?”
“All I’ve said is that I don’t know if I can accept you in a male body. I would find
it hard to make love to another man.” I swallowed hard, adding, “I’ve tried to put
myself in your place, and I can’t do it. I don’t know how it feels to be transgender. I do
know how it feels to be in love with you. I don’t want to lose you. I’ll do whatever it
takes. But I want you to go to counseling—isn’t there a very long period of counseling
you have to go through, before you change sexes outwardly?” I seemed to remember
that from Chaz Bono’s story; that had been discussed often, a few years back. “And you
don’t like going to counseling as it is!”
“I’ve not run into good ones, thus far.” Elaine turned her head to look out the
I glanced that way, and saw ice hanging from the trees just off the street. Was
that a rainbow prism at the edge of my vision? I told myself I was just seeing things,
and kept driving.
“Mind, Jolene asked me the very same thing, earlier…” Elaine said, sounding
very far away. “I told her I’ll start counseling after Christmas.” Then, she smiled wryly, a
brief twist of her lips. “She told me to marry you and stop putting you off, too.”
“I knew I liked Jolene.”
We shared a laugh. Then I blurted out what I’d been thinking all the while.
“Elaine, please—I need you in my life. I love you so much…I don’t care what you
look like; I care that you’re you. Please don’t leave me.”
She continued to stare out the window, and said nothing.
Oh, Elaine, I thought. How can you do this?
I turned my attention back to the road, which was getting worse by the second. It
was rutted, slippery, and almost impassable. Worst of all, a gray fog had started to
blanket the road. I started looking for places to safely pull off, but I didn’t see much. The
few gas stations were already closed, and there were a number of cars waiting in those
If this continued, we’d have to break out our emergency supplies from the trunk.
I’d packed blankets, food, water…we even had some spare gas in a gas can, just in case.
So we’d live through the night, even if we’d not be comfortable doing it.
“I don’t like this fog,” Elaine muttered.
“I don’t, either,” I agreed as I drove through another bank of icy grayness. “Are
you sure you can’t just come back home?”
“Not yet. I don’t know why.” Then Elaine added in a very quiet voice, “I’m sorry.”
I continued to drive, my gloved hands gripping the steering wheel. “Don’t be.
You can’t help what you are.” Then, before I lost my nerve, I added, “I love you. No
matter what you are, no matter how you present yourself. I want to be with you. I just
don’t know if I can handle you in a male body…you only told me about this tonight, so
how can you expect me to acclimate like that?” As we stopped at a light, I snapped my
fingers, even though inside my gloves, they couldn’t make a sound.
“You’re right. I can’t,” Elaine said.
Something about how she said that, though, made me nervous.
“I need time to figure myself out,” she said, biting her lower lip in concentration.
“Maybe you should take me to a hotel.”
“I’m asking too much of you. I have to be on my own.”
I felt like shaking her. “You need counseling, and we both need rest. Why don’t
we go back home instead?”
“I can’t be there right now. Not like this.”
“Dammit, Elaine! I love you. Can’t you see that? Why else would I be out on a
night like this, if I didn’t?”
“I love you, too, but this isn’t going to work.” The set of her jaw bothered me;
she’d obviously made up her mind.
“It won’t work only if you decide it won’t,” I told her, trying to keep the edge out
of my voice. “Why won’t you listen to me?” I snuck a peek at Elaine. The beauty of her
oval face, her liquid brown eyes, her pointed, determined chin…how anyone that
beautiful could want to become a man, I didn’t know.
“Let’s not argue, Allen,” she said wearily. “I can’t bear it.”
“Okay, then.” But while I’d stopped talking, I hadn’t stopped thinking. Why does
Elaine want to become a man? Why? What have I done wrong, that she should want this? I
must have done something wrong, something terrible, for her to want this…
Inwardly, I prayed, hoping that God existed and would hear me despite my
usual disbelief. Oh God, if you’re listening . . .please don’t take my beautiful Elaine away from
me. I’ll do anything, absolutely anything…
My reverie was broken when the car went into a skid. “Hang on!” I yelled, while I
turned into the skid. That should’ve gotten us safely off the road, albeit into a ditch…
but it didn’t work.
Instead, something big, something solid, was in the way.
Something that shouldn’t have been there.
“Oh my God!” Elaine screamed.
I tried to reach out to her, to reassure her, but I couldn’t. My body just wouldn’t
Before I could worry about that, the world went black.
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Barb Caffrey is a writer, editor, and musician who holds two degrees in Music.
She has a particular fondness for the clarinet, lived in Nebraska for the better part of
three years, and appreciated the ability to combine both her loves with the writing of
Her other books are An Elfy on the Loose and A Little Elfy in Big Trouble (otherwise
known as the Elfy duology), while her short stories have appeared in a number of
places (most recently in Realms of Darkover). She’s also the co-writer of the Joey Maverick
series of stories (with late husband Michael B. Caffrey), so the next story you might see
from her could be military science fiction—or better yet, military science fiction with
She lives in Wisconsin.
Social Media Links:
Blog: Barb Caffrey’s Elfyverse https://elfyverse.wordpress.com