QSFer Kaje Harper has a new MM Paranormal/Thriller out, Tracefinder book 3: “Tracefinder: Choices.”
An ex-cop and a psychic on the mend find their safe haven threatened by vandalism, arson, and the shadow of their dangerous past.
After overusing his Talent till he almost died, Brian wants nothing more than a quiet job on the farm, with Nick to come home to. He’s trying to start a new life, despite bad dreams he can’t shake, vandalism close to home, and his sister’s problematic baby on the way.
Nick gave up the police force and moved to North Carolina to be with Brian, and he doesn’t regret it. But he’s at loose ends, with no real work, the lurking specter of Brian’s brother Damon hanging around, and a worry in the pit of his stomach that Damon’s old enemies might still be after Brian. Nick’s keeping his eyes open and his gun loaded.
Warning: some violence, history of a sexually abusive episode
Charlie said, “Brian, could you do that Finding thing with Nick’s sister’s hair clip? Even if it’s years old?”
“Maybe. I can try.” Brian watched Nick and caught a little hunch of his shoulders. “If Nick wants me to.”
“Of course he wants…” Charlie paused, because Nick’s reluctance was unmistakable. “Or maybe not. Talk to us, Nicko. Why not?”
Nick snapped, “I never said no.”
“You didn’t say yes. Come on, I know you, remember? You spent a ton of time and risked your badge digging into records you weren’t supposed to see, looking for your sister. So why not this?”
“Because!” Nick ran a rough hand over his head, mussing his hair, and went to one knee to pick up a screw. He didn’t look at them as he wound the cord back around the power drill.
“I might not be able to do it anyhow,” Brian said, slowly feeling his way. “I’m maybe still not back to full power.”
Nick nodded at the tool in his hands. “Yeah! I don’t want to strain Brian. Not yet.”
Charlie obviously also heard the false note in the way Nick jumped on that, because he said, “I call bullshit. He could do a quick peek, to be sure she’s alive. Oh!”
Nick glanced up at them, his eyes bright. “Yeah. Oh.”
Brian remembered. “Like Keesha. As long as I don’t touch the clip…”
“…she’s still alive. Somewhere.”
Charlie sighed. “I get it. I do. But Nick, you’re not going to move on until you find out. You know how you are.”
“No. How am I?” His raised eyebrow was a challenge.
“You’re a moody, obsessive bastard is how you are. Remember all the time we spent browsing California property records, trying to find the people who bought her foster parents’ house, for a hint of a lead? You didn’t say, ‘Let’s not, in case it turns out bad.’”
“Maybe I should’ve.” Nick pushed his hair off his forehead. “No. Fuck. You’re right.”
“We can do it another time,” Brian offered. “Tomorrow or whenever you like.”
“Or now,” Charlie suggested. “Lori will be gone at least half an hour. Now’s a good time too.”
Nick looked up at each of them. Then he set the drill on the floor, got to his feet and said harshly, “Okay. Now.”
Charlie put a hand on his arm. “Sorry, Nick, I shouldn’t be pushing.”
Nick’s smile was a twisted mockery of his usual grin. “Sometimes I need pushing.” He shook off Charlie’s hand and went to the desk. Brian moved aside to let him open the drawer. Nick pulled out the box, slid the code bits around with the speed of practice, and opened the top. Without a second’s hesitation, he took out the little clip and shoved it at Brian. “Here. Do your thing.” He dusted his hands on his jeans as if they were dirty, not shaking.
Brian took another look at the little hair ribbon. A thread of green silk was unraveling from the end of the bow, tangled in the blunt plastic points of the clip. There’d probably been something printed on the ribbon once, but it was faded to a bare hint of color now. “I… maybe I should sit down.”
He eased to the floor and stretched out his legs, cradling the clip in his hands.
“Will this hurt you?” Nick asked. “It’s not worth you taking a risk.”
“It’s fine.” He hoped it was. “I’ve done quick peeks recently. They don’t hurt.” Much.
“Cross my heart.” He brushed the front of his shirt.
“Okay, then.” Nick’s voice was rough. “What do you see?”
Brian closed his eyes and pressed the child’s barrette between his palms. A hint of pain twinged at his temples, warning that this wasn’t a walk in the park yet. He opened his Finder eye.
Darkness, streaked with color. Nick, Lori. He pushed his attention toward the ribbon. Nick. Amber shiny Nick. He cleared his throat without opening his eyes. “Did you handle it a lot, Nick?”
“I… some, I guess. Why?”
“It’s linked to you now. Pretty strong.” Nick’s thread wove in and around the space between his hands.
“Fuck! No! I broke it?”
“I didn’t say that. Just… give me time.” He tried to open wider to Finding, clenching his teeth as a needle of pain lanced behind his left eye. Squeezed his eyes shut. Held his breath until nothing moved but the traces in the dark behind his closed eyes.
Ariana? Are you there? Somewhere?
Swirling golden brown of beer in a glass, of drying corn in a field, gold-flecked cat eyes. Nick’s trace was bright and close and strong.
No. He pushed at the amber sunlight on polished wood, warm fleece, guarded by silver, shot through with steel… there!
He spotted a flash of green, like the summer leaves catching the sunshine. Follow it! Don’t lose it! The faint trace wound down and through the warm familiarness of Nick’s thread. There. No, there! A wisp of green ribbon, like northern lights in the sky, shimmering, gone, back again. There, through there.
One hand let go of the barrette, and rose, and pointed. That way.
He opened his eyes and sucked in desperate lungfuls of air.
A foot away from him, Nick knelt on the worn floor. Nick’s eyes were locked on his hand, on his finger pointing away from them, toward one blank wall. Nick said, “Jesus,” on a slow breath, and it was the closest to a real prayer Brian had ever heard from him.
Charlie whispered, “Is that it? Could you Find her?”
“Yeah.” He coughed against the rasp in his throat. “Maybe. No clue how far, but she’s alive— well, the person who had that hair clip is alive— and off that way.”
I get asked about my name a lot. It’s not something exotic, though. “Kaje” is pronounced just like “cage” – it’s an old nickname, and my pronouns are she/her/hers. I’ve been writing far longer than I care to admit (*whispers – forty-five years*), although mostly for my own entertainment. I write M/M romance, often with added mystery, fantasy, historical, SciFi, paranormal… I also have Young Adult short stories (some released under the pen name Kira Harp.)
After decades of writing just for fun, my husband convinced me I really should submit something, somewhere.
My first professionally published book, Life Lessons, came out from MLR Press in May 2011. I now have a good-sized backlist in ebooks and print, both free and professionally published, including Amazon bestseller The Rebuilding Year and Rainbow Award Best Mystery-Thriller Tracefinder: Contact. A complete list with links can be found on my website “Books” page at https://kajeharper.com/books/.
I’m always pleased to have readers find me online on Facebook or Goodreads.
Facebook Group: Kaje’s Conversation Corner – https://www.facebook.com/groups/208207893795147/