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Single Dads of Gaynor Beach

by Kaje Harper

Coming back from loss, one heartbeat at a time.

Alec ran from his grief over the death of his son, throwing a few things in his car and driving west. In the town of Gaynor Beach, CA, he hit the shore and stopped. The next step would be off a broken pier into the ocean and although he stands daily watching the waves, he's not quite ready for that. Especially when a young voice like his son's, behind him, says, "Hey, Mister, you wanna see a picture of an albatross?"

Joe brought his preteen son to Gaynor Beach, looking for a better place to raise his kid. Kevin loves California— the beaches, the marine life, the weather, and the freedom. But when Joe finds out Kevin's "ghost down by the pier" is a living, grieving, and much too appealing man, this simple new life is about to change, for all of them.

* hurt-comfort, single dad, grief and recovery, sweet rescue dog, bright preteen, HEA

The books in the Single Dads of Gaynor Beach series stand alone, but why not discover them all, and meet the wide range of complicated, wonderful men raising kids in this fictional California town.

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Some days Alec was all right. Some days, he could get in the car and drive to the grocery store and buy milk, and even smile at the cashier. Then there were times when the world was too loud and too bright and the thought of traffic made his vision blur around the edges. Those were the days he’d walk down to the old pier and stand for hours, looking out across the sea.

Sunlight on the water didn’t arrow into his eyes the way reflections off windshields did. The restless crash and shush of the waves faded into the background. Even the gulls with their sharp cries didn’t pierce his brain the way a car horn would.

Okay, the problem wasn’t actually the lights and noise. It was the context. His headaches and nausea were real, but the throbbing in his skull that provoked them was made of memories and regrets. He knew that. Didn’t mean he could fix it.

He’d tried.


He picked up a pebble and tossed it into the sea. In the swirling foam, the splash of the stone was lost, invisible. He felt like that sometimes, a rock tossed in the air that vanished into the bustle of life, unseen.

“Hey, there.”

The soft voice behind him didn’t jolt him anymore. The first time, he’d almost fallen into the water. “Hey.” He kept his eyes fixed on the horizon, not turning.

“You weren’t here yesterday.”

“I bought milk.” He had to laugh at himself for making that sound like a day’s accomplishments, even if it was close to the truth. “And bread. And gassed the car.”

“There was a seal. A baby one, I think.”

“I’m sorry I missed it.”

“I took pictures.” Light footsteps scuffed along the wind-roughened concrete toward him. “Want to see?”

Do I? A month ago, he’d said no to pictures of an albatross. Three weeks ago, to one of a dog chasing a stick. Two weeks ago, to pictures of a sailboat on the horizon. What am I so afraid of? There are no such things as ghosts.

He turned slowly.

The boy behind him wasn’t Nathan. Of course he’s not. A couple of years older, at a guess, maybe ten or eleven— older than Nathan will ever be— with dark windblown hair, and a snub nose, not Nathan’s blond mop and blue eyes.

The boy grinned. “You finally turned around!”

He winced, because that shouldn’t be a big deal. Shouldn’t have taken him a month. “You saw a seal?”

“Oh, yeah. Let me show you.” The boy took out his phone and clicked through pictures, muttering, “Not that. That’s the cat. The other cat. Wait, the seal was after the horse in the trailer.” He tapped the screen and held it out. “See?”

Alec bent to peer at the small image, tilting his head to shift the reflected daylight. A slightly washed-out photo revealed a sleek gray-brown seal against the pebbled beach. Size was hard to judge, but the shape suggested a youngster. “Cool photo.”

“Thanks.” The boy’s grin got bigger. “I like taking pictures of animals. Dad says it’s a good thing I was born in the digital age or I’d cost him a fortune in film.”

Alec didn’t know how to answer that. He felt like he’d lost the power of speech. He glanced at the sky, tracking the whirling gulls as if that excused his silence.

“I used to try to take pictures of those,” the boy said, “but they always came out like little black specks. Why do they look so much bigger to my eyes than they do on the camera? I want to know.”

I want to know. That echoed in his head until he had to close his eyes, face still tilted to the sky. I want to know, Daddy.

An adult male voice behind them said, “Kevin? Are you disturbing this gentleman? What have I told you?”...


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 live 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 kindly, quiet (if sometimes chilly) place and it’s home now.

I’ve been writing for far longer than I care to admit (*whispers – forty years*), mostly for my own entertainment. I mainly publish M/M romance (with added mystery, fantasy, historical, SciFi…) I also have a few Young Adult stories released under the pen name Kira Harp.

My husband finally convinced me that after all that time 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 the four novels and three freebie short stories in the series. I’ve been delighted by the reception Mac and Tony have received.

I now have a good-sized backlist in ebooks and print, both free and professionally published. A complete list with links can be found on my Books page.
I also have  an author page on Goodreads where I do a lot of book reviews. You can find me to chat there– I hang out on Goodreads a lot because I moderate the  Goodreads YA LGBT Books group there. I also post free short YA stories on that group, more than 50 of them so far. Or find me on Facebook –