Hi readers! This month in the “Community” series, Romance Across the Rainbow is happy to feature Kaje Harper. Here you can find some information about her book, The Family We Make, but don’t miss our thoughtful and fun interview answers here. And yes, there’s a giveaway—comment here or following the interview to have your name in the hat for the random draw. You can win an e-book of your choice (even this one) from Kaje’s backlist!
At seventeen, Rick Albright left his home, his parents and even his old name, rather than pretend to be straight. But being on his own was hard. When his big brother Sam found him, and insisted on giving him a place to stay, he didn’t resist too long. Living with Sam is better than fighting just to survive, but it’s not easy to find his balance in a simple, small-town life, after his time on the streets.
Travis Brinkerhoff finally managed to come out in college, his second year anyway. It was the one bright side to losing his baseball scholarship and jock status. But without money for tuition, second year came to an abrupt end. He’s back in his small Minnesota hometown, and back in the closet. Travis feels like he’s trying to fit into a life he’s outgrown. If he’s going to survive, he has to figure out a way to be his own man, maybe even have his own man, without losing the family he loves.
When he left the Marines, Sam Albright wanted nothing more than to find his missing younger brother. Mission accomplished. Now he’s got an independent, possibly traumatized, openly gay young man on his hands, a girlfriend in a war zone overseas, and parents he has to lie to in order to keep the peace. Keeping it all together won’t be easy, but Sam has never backed away from a challenge.
This book follows the first free novella, The Family We’re Born With, but can be read as a stand-alone.
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Keith reached for the shovel, Rick leaned on it to keep it planted, and Keith shoved him off hard. Rick staggered backward, hit the fence, and the gate popped open. Quick as a flash, a small beige dog leaped out and bounded toward the woods. All three of them yelled, “Hey! Tiny! Come back here!” and “Come, boy!” but the dog disappeared into the nearest stand of trees.
“Fuck!” Keith stared after it. “Look what the hell you did.”
“Me?” Rick said. “That’s your fucking fault, you slimy crotchwaffle!”
Travis vaulted the porch rail, yelling at both of them, “Who cares. We have to catch it!” He ran after the dog, doing his best to sprint through the deep snow. Rick fell in beside him, keeping up despite his shorter legs. Keith called after them, “You guys go after the dog. I’ll get the owner and the truck, and go around.”
“Fuck him,” Rick panted, as the snow got deeper. “Fuck his smelly turdface mouth.”
No thanks. Travis staggered as his foot caught in some hidden weeds. Rick grabbed his arm and yanked him back upright. They both were forced to slow down. “Man, that dog’s fast,” Travis muttered.
“That’s a whippet. Born to run.”
“Huh.” They were into the trees, and the dog was still out of sight. At least with the snow, its tracks were clear. “Not furry enough to be wandering in the snow though.”
“No. Really not. Damn his whitetrash ass.”
Rick shot him a look that was clearly not amused.
The ground under the trees was uneven, and there were unexpected deeper hollows. They floundered after the dog, following the trenches that marked its bounding progress. Suddenly Rick grabbed his arm. “Over there.”
The dog stood under an evergreen, where the snow only reached halfway up its slender legs. It stared at them, one forefoot raised, its ears tipped sideways like little signal flags.
“Here, Tiny,” Rick crooned in a soft voice. “Here, boy.” He held out his hand. “Come and get the treat, Tiny.”
Travis whispered, “Do you really have dog treats?”
Rick said in the same deep, soothing tone, “Do I look fucking psychic? Come on, boy. Nice invisible treats here.” He crouched lower.
The dog took a couple of steps toward them, its nose snuffling, its breath clouding the still air.
“It’s shivering,” Travis said. “Poor puppy.”
“Come on, you dumb knobgoblin,” Rick crooned.
“That’s hobgoblin,” Travis pointed out softly.
“Not to me. Come on, Tiny. Nice frog liver treats with sauerkraut, right here. Nice pickled pigeon feet. Come on, Tiny. Come. Come, you stupid-ass biscuit-gobbler.”
Slowly the dog crept closer, taking a step at a time, and then freezing again. Rick waved his hand back and forth. “Yeah, that’s the way. Trav, you don’t have a fucking candy bar or stick of gum or anything, right?”
“No, sorry. And don’t call me Trav.”
“You think you can wait to argue semantics till we catch this hairy twatwaffle?”
“Um. Sure.” He shivered too, but not from cold. That crooning voice, the hint of Texas in the vowels, the way that Rick looked all soft and worried, made him feel strange. And not in any way he wanted to think about. He spoke clearly, trying for a quiet command. “Come, Tiny. Come, boy.”
Clearly he had the wrong voice for this, because the dog jumped backward a step.
Rick practically sang, “Nooo, boy. Gooood boy.” The dog stopped again, looking at him. “Come on, mutant rat. The big scary guy is going to shut up noooow.”
Travis held his breath as the dog crept nearer, and nearer.
“He’s wearing a collar,” Rick lilted quietly. “Grab the little bastard that way, aren’t you a good boy, goooood boy.”
Tiny stretched his neck out, sniffing toward Rick’s hand. Travis gathered himself to get that collar. Suddenly a crow flew up from a tree, with a loud caw. The dog jumped a foot in the air and two feet sideways. Travis’s hand closed on thin air. The dog took another leap past them, and they both grabbed for it, but neither of them made contact, except with each other. The dog dodged away, vaulted a fallen log and was gone, while he and Rick collapsed in the deep snow in a tangled heap.
“Fuck,” Rick grunted. “You’re heavy. Get off me.”
“Trying.” Travis shoved his right hand into the drift to brace himself and sank past his elbow. Something hard under the snow rasped against his wrist, and he dropped lower onto Rick. “Why don’t you move?”
“Because your damned hip is in my crotch,” Rick grunted. “The last guy who pinned me like this at least bought dinner.”
“Screw you.” Travis was suddenly aware of the lean body under him and the muscled hardness of Rick’s legs against his thighs. Rick’s sunglasses had come off in the fall. His eyes were dark, mostly brown but with little hints of gold in them, and they met Travis’s, widening slightly. Travis blinked hard. “Here, wait.” He twisted, his knee slipping in the snow, which only brought their hips together more. He gasped a breath, tugging his arm out of whatever branch had it in a death grip under the snow, and felt his groin press against Rick’s.
Rick looked up at him with a nasty grin, bucked his hips up, and said, “You’re liking this a bit too much for a straight boy.”
Travis hauled off with his free hand and hit him.
About the author:
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.
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 years), mostly for my own entertainment, usually M/M romance (with added mystery, fantasy, historical, SciFi…) I also have a few Young Adult stories (some released under the pen name Kira Harp.)
My husband finally convinced me that after all the years of writing for fun, I really should submit something, somewhere. My first professionally published book, Life Lessons, came out from MLR Press in May 2011. I have a weakness for closeted cops with honest hearts, and teachers who speak their minds, and I had fun writing four novels and three freebie short stories in that series. I was delighted and encouraged by the reception Mac and Tony received.
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.wordpress.com/books/.
I’m always pleased to have readers find me online at:
Goodreads Author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4769304.Kaje_Harper