QSFer Kaje Harper has a new MM Paranormal book out, Hidden Wolves Book 1: Unacceptable Risk.
For a hidden shifter, falling in love with a man may be the death of them both.
Simon Conley knows about being an outcast. Born into a secret werewolf pack, he’s the lone gay wolf, an outsider even among his packmates. The top wolves consider him a perversion, a failure, and a security risk. To survive in the human world, werewolves rely on absolute secrecy, and any breaches of their code are dealt with swiftly— and violently.
So when Simon falls in love with Paul, a human man, even his Alpha’s grudging tolerance won’t protect him. He must keep Paul from discovering the truth about him and the secrets the pack jealously guards, or it’s not just their love that’ll end up dead.
This is a re-release of the 2012 story with light editing and the 1.15 short story included.
Simon hurt, worse than he ever remembered hurting before. And that was saying something. Over the years he’d had torn muscles, lacerations, even broken bones, from fights, from punishments. He was barely tolerated in the pack, and plenty of wolves had made that plain to him, with fists or teeth. But he’d never felt pain like this.
They didn’t kill me, but it feels like they came close.
The pack Second and his followers had dumped Simon on the road, laughing about his odds of freezing or getting run over, and he’d understood that stopping before they did the final deed wasn’t meant to be a kindness.
He’d landed bleeding in wolf form on the icy pavement, unable to force himself to his feet, barely fighting off unconsciousness as his tormenters drove away. Even in fur, he’d felt the pavement’s chill seeping into the very marrow of his bones, felt the flesh of his paws numb and begin to freeze. The cold had slowed his blood loss, but heat and life seeped out of him onto the black ice.
Shift. Heal. Better. Less pain. Shift. That promise tempted him as he lay fighting for breath. But a shift took more energy than he had left and would’ve left him naked in his human skin on the snow. He drifted, dreaming of shifting and healing, too weak to try. By the time he raised the energy to even push to his feet, he was frozen tight to the surface.
He’d fought then to free himself, his efforts too feeble to work. He couldn’t catch his breath. A great weight seemed to press on his chest, binding his lungs and robbing him of air. He’d thought his legs were moving, but black spots filled his vision and he was no longer sure. Then as he paused to gasp for air, he heard the rumble of tires. Saw headlights approaching. He’d raised his head to look his fate in the eye. Werewolves were hard to kill, but in his condition, he’d never survive being hit by a truck. He wondered dully if death would at least stop the pain. The vehicle approached slowly, inexorably, tires crunching on the icy road.
And then it stopped.
Now he swayed in the back of the SUV, feeling the truck slide as the driver pushed the limits of safe traction. The heat was on full, blasting warmth over him. It was glorious and excruciating, as the throbbing burn of returning circulation clawed its way up his legs and down his ears. He shivered uncontrollably, feeling his cells suck in the heat. Werewolves were tough, and his body was doing its best not to die after all.
The scarf muzzle around his face was driving him crazy. He wanted to rip it off, except his legs didn’t seem to work right. He strained his jaws apart as hard as he could, and the soft fabric gave a little, but the added opening didn’t help him get his breath. His vision tunneled in around the sole task of pulling in the next gasp of air, and the next.
He barely noticed as the truck slowed, turned, and stopped. The driver got out, letting in an icy draft that shook Simon out of his daze. His sensitive hearing picked up a building door opening, then after a pause, an unfamiliar metallic rattle. The back door of the truck opened.
“Okay, sweetie,” the man’s light tenor said behind him. “I’m going to pull you out now. Don’t fight me, baby. Just stay, okay. Stay.” Hands gripped Simon’s hips, pulling him backward. For a moment pain flared, and he hung onto consciousness by a thread, clenching his whole body on the brink of darkness. Then he was flat on his side on a cool surface, moving, vibrating and swaying. He forced his eyes open, and recognized some sort of metal trolley, barely big enough to support him. The man pulling it cursed as the wheels bumped and caught in the snow. Then he was hauled through a doorway into wonderful warmth and dryness.
“Stay. Just stay.” The man pushed the cart down a hallway and into a larger room, switching on the lights. Simon looked around and choked, a half-sob half-laugh coming out like a strangled cough from his laboring throat. It’s a veterinary clinic!
Had to be. There were posters of the internal organs of a dog and cat on the wall, and a microscope on the counter beside other medical-looking equipment. Glass-fronted cabinets displayed pill bottles and supplies. A rack held fabric muzzles.
Out of all the gin joints in all the world, I’ve been plucked from my icy grave by a veterinarian.
He was so fucked.
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 was born in Montreal but I’ve lived for 30 years in Minnesota, where the two seasons are Snow-removal and Road-repair, where the mosquito is the state bird, and where winter can be breathtakingly beautiful. Minnesota’s a kind, quiet (if sometimes chilly) place and it’s home.
I’ve been writing far longer than I care to admit (*whispers – forty-five years*), mostly for my own entertainment, usually M/M romance (with added mystery, fantasy, historical, sci-fi…) I also have a few Young Adult stories (under the pen name Kira Harp).
My first professionally published book, Life Lessons, came out in May 2011. I have a weakness for closeted cops with honest hearts and teachers who speak their minds, and I was delighted and encouraged by the reception Mac and Tony received.
I now have a good-sized backlist in ebooks and print, including Amazon bestseller The Rebuilding Year and Rainbow Award winner for “Best Mystery-Thriller” Tracefinder: Contact. Readers can find a complete list of my books with links on my website at https://kajeharper.com/books/.