Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank Kaje Harper for stopping by today.
Title: Tracefinder: Contact
Author: Kaje Harper
Publisher: Self Published
Cover Artist: Ren
What could an undercover cop and a drug lord’s pet psychic have in common?
Brian Kerr has spent years hiding behind a facade of mental slowness. His brother and sister got all three of them off the streets and into a cushy life, under the protection of a dangerous criminal. But to keep that safety, Brian has to use his Finding talent to track down the boss’s enemies. Although he pretends not to know what he’s really doing, each Find takes its toll, and he’s trapped in a life he hates, losing touch with his true self.
Nick Rugo’s job is to protect and serve the people of Minneapolis as an undercover cop. He isn’t closeted, but he isn’t out at work, and there’s a wild, angry side to him that he’s managed to keep hidden until now. When he’s assigned to bring Brian’s boss to justice, he intends to use anything and anyone it takes to do that.
Nick initially sees Brian as a pawn to be played in his case, but he keeps getting glimpses of a different man behind the slow, simpleminded mask. As the two men get to know each other, it becomes clear they share secrets, some of which might get them both killed.
When Your Own Plot Comes as a Surprise…
It’s clear that I’m just not a plotter. After 40+ years of writing, I have over 35 stories published, and dozens more I’ll never release. And yet somehow, I never got the hang of outlining and planning in advance.
Maybe it’s due to my impatience. When a story comes to me, it’s usually as a mental vision of guy in a simple scene— he’s saying something, doing something, meeting someone; he intrigues me— sitting down at my keyboard to write is the only way I can find out who he is. And I want to know! My subconscious is totally in charge of the first draft, and it makes writing as exciting and unexpected as reading.
Which can be odd, when you’re writing mysteries.
It’s not unusual for me not to know, until halfway through, who the bad guys are, how the murder happened, or what the end will be. As usual, for my new book, Tracefinder: Contact, I had no clue how things would work out.
I had the inspiration of two guys. Nick was clearly a cop, determined to be the best damned patrolman he could be. As I started, he was keeping all the lost and angry and gay bits of himself well away from his job. Until he was assigned an undercover role, where tough and angry were helpful. And where gay was… complicated.
Brian is twenty-one, psychic, and trapped in a golden cage. He grew up back-alley poor, with a mom sliding into addiction and an older brother desperate to take care of Brian and his twin sister. Now the brother, Damon, has landed them in a life of luxury, but to keep it, Brian has to help a bad man do worse things. He’s always kept the painful parts of his life at a distance by pretending to be more simpleminded than he really is. But as an adult, the walls between his inner self and his world are changing, becoming unreliable, and he’s a man caught with no good choices.
I knew these guys would meet. I knew, over the course of the story, that they would give each other bits of themselves which would fill some of the gaps, the needs, the empty spaces, in each other’s lives. But I had no clue how that would happen. It turned out to be an interesting and unexpected ride.
There’s a little bit near the end that startled me. Readers may not love it. I almost changed it except… except, dammit, that’s what happened. That’s who the bad guy is inside; that’s the way life throws you crap to deal with that you never expect. It will be interesting to see what readers and reviewers think of these men and this story. But regardless, I had a great time writing this one, and look forward to doing the sequel later in 2016, and finding out where Nick and Brian go on from their HFN ending here. I hope many of you also enjoy the ride.
Tracefinder: Contact (Tracefinder Book 1) …
Brian Kerr waited in his bedroom in the pool house he shared with his brother, pretending to sleep. The mattress was comfortable, but he turned restlessly between his silky sheets with the amazingly high thread count. His brother would’ve been surprised to find out he even knew what that meant. But then there were a lot of things about him that would surprise Damon. Brian hadn’t shared his secrets with his big brother since he was… well, since ever, really.
It was getting late. Brian squinted at the glowing green numbers on the bedside clock radio. He often had a hard time with numbers and letters, and tonight the digital display swam before his eyes. He did better with his analog watch, and he pressed the stem to light it and check that instead. The shape of the hands told him it was after three in the morning.
He wondered if Damon had gotten arrested this time. Not that he’d stay in jail long for a drunken bar fight, unless someone had been hurt much worse than Brian thought. But he’d heard the guys bitching enough to know that getting arrested on a Friday might mean a jail cell till Monday. A weekend in lockup would not make Damon easy to deal with.
He rolled onto his side, rubbing his cheek against the pillow for comfort. The light rasp, rasp, rasp of his stubble against the Egyptian cotton was soothing, like ocean waves or wind in the trees. He slowed his breathing to match.
The urge to get up and leave, to just go, was strong. Walk out the door alone, leave Damon, leave Lori and Marston and this whole life, no matter what happened afterward. Tonight had been too much. Another fight, another evening of blood and battering and drunken craziness, while he sat like a lump and pretended he barely noticed.
He didn’t know how much longer he could do this. He was twenty-one now. Once, he’d promised himself when he turned twenty-one he’d leave. Somehow. But the invisible shackles had clamped down so hard, he couldn’t see a way out.
A door slammed, and he heard Damon yell, “Bry? You here, bro?”
He sat up and switched on his light. Cleared his throat, dulled and flattened his voice, becoming little dumb brother Bry. His stupid voice. His know-nothing voice. That was usually automatic, and he was surprised he even noticed tonight. One real moment, when he talked to that Nick guy as himself, had thrown him off-balance. He swallowed. “Yeah? Damon? ’S that you?”
His door swung open. “Of course it’s me, moron.” Damon stood in the doorway, looking him over. “You’re okay? Not hurt?”
“Where the hell did you go? I told you, in a fight, get out of the way and stay put.”
In a crazy moment, I followed this gorgeous man. “The door opened. The cops were coming. I went out.”
“Jesus.” Damon frowned. “It’s a good thing Booker saw you. Next time follow orders, you hear me?”
“I hear you.”
Damon came over and sat on his bed, reaching out to give his back a quick rub. “Well, no harm done. Don’t want to lose you though.” He patted Brian’s head in the way Brian hated, like a guy with his dog. “At least you stayed with Booker, and didn’t get hurt. Go to sleep now. Mr. Marston has work for you in the morning.”
“Work.” Brian’s gut twisted sickeningly, but he thought he kept the bitterness out of his tone.
Even so, Damon held his gaze for a minute, his expression displeased. “Yeah, your kind of work. Important stuff. What only you can do.”
“Find a man?”
“Of course. So rest up. You want to do your best for Mr. Marston.”
Damon got up and headed for the door, saying over his shoulder, “Good night.”
Brian waited until his door shut, then switched off his light and lay in the dark, rubbing his eyes. Very, very softly, he let himself say, “No. No, no, no.” Of course, it was a futile gesture. Tomorrow, he’d say yes. Mr. Marston, his brother’s boss, his sister’s husband, would ask him to Find a man, and he would say yes. Maybe he’d be able to fail. Maybe there would be enough obstacles to make that believable. Or maybe the man he was asked to Find would turn out to be a bad guy, someone just as bad as Marston, and his conscience would let him follow through.
Or maybe he’d stand up and let it all out, every bit of anger and loathing, every secret he hid, everything. Use language like he wasn’t some retard, use wit and insults and let all his hate out. Maybe tomorrow would be the day he’d make them kill him.
If only he could believe Marston would actually do that. He wouldn’t, though. Marston was smart and knew how to control people. Marston would make some awful threat to hurt Damon, or Lori, and Brian would cave. And then he’d have revealed himself for nothing, and it would only get worse. He wished he had the nerve to kill himself but he wasn’t brave enough for that either. Instead, tomorrow he’d be asked to Find a man, and he’d say yes.
For those who comment on this post before midnight EST on Jan 7th, two winners will be selected at random to each receive an ebook copy of Tracefinder: Contact.
About the Author
Kaje Harper grew up in Montreal, and spent her teen years writing, filling binders with stories. But as life got busy, the stories began to just live in her head. The characters grew up, met, endured, and loved, in any quiet moment she had, but the stories rarely made it to paper. Her time was taken up by work in psychology, teaching, and a biomedical career, and the fun of raising children.
Eventually the kids became more independent and her husband gave her a computer she didn’t have to share. She started putting words down in print again, just for fun. Hours of fun. Lots of hours of fun. The stories began piling up, and her husband suggested if she was going to spend that much time on the keyboard she ought to try to publish one. MLR Press accepted her first submission, Life Lessons, which was released in May 2011. Kaje now has many novels and short stories published, including Amazon bestseller The Rebuilding Year, and a selection of free short stories and novels available on Smashwords and elsewhere. She currently lives in Minnesota with a creative teenager, a crazy omnivorous little white dog, and a remarkably patient spouse.
Goodreads Author page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4769304.Kaje_Harper
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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