The Family We’re Born With

Finding Family book 1

by Kaje Harper

The Family We're Born With - Kaje Harper
Part of the Finding Family series:

Jesse Calhoun met Devin Palmer five years ago, in front of a Christmas tree at a friend's party. It was Jesse's first holiday alone, away from home. Devin didn't have much of a home to go back to. They found a way to make the season brighter, together.

Four years ago, Jesse brought Devin to his parents' house and came out to them. It wasn't all roses, but his family came around, and Devin has spent each holiday with the Calhouns since then. Jesse really loves sharing Christmas with his family, and sharing his family with Devin.

So he isn't prepared to hear his mom say, “I don't want Devin to come to the house for Christmas Eve this year.” Suddenly it's not smooth sailing, keeping peace with the family he was born with.

20,000 words

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Chapter 1

Jesse stared at his mother. “You want what?”

“I'm sorry.” She reached for him, cutting her gesture short with a flutter of her fingers. “You know I love Devin. I think he's great for you, really.”

“But you don't want him to be here when Sam arrives.”

“Just not right at first,” Mom said. “I want us to start off right. Sam's looking for his roots, his birth mother, and I want it to be good. He was raised in Texas, you know. He's a Marine. His adoptive parents have lots of money. I don't want us to seem too...”

“Too what? Too weird? Too liberal? Too gay?”


“Don't Jesse me, Mom.” He wanted to pace, to shout, maybe hit something. He cracked his knuckles, not trying to annoy her but all the same, today he didn't stop when she winced. “I am gay. If he's going to hang around with us, he'll have to live with that.”


“I know, and he will. I promise. I'm not asking you to hide it. Just don't push it in his face the first day.”

Jesse frowned at his mother, wondering where the hell this was coming from. She hadn't been thrilled when he told her he was gay, four years ago, but she'd never asked him to hide it or suggested there was something wrong with him. This was coming out of left field and it hurt, even at twenty-five with a job and a boyfriend and all. “I could just stay away myself tomorrow, leave you to bond him to the normal part of the family.”

“Oh, dear.” His mother pleated her sweater into folds between her fingers. “I don't want you to go away. I just want us to all have a lovely holiday with no fighting.”

“What makes you think that can't happen if Devin celebrates it with us, as usual?” For the last three years, his boyfriend had been part of their family Christmas. Devin's own mom was long dead, and his father was in a nursing home. They were all the family Devin really had. How many times had Mom said she thought of Devin as one of her kids? Apparently that stopped when one of the real kids came home, even if it was a kid she hadn't seen since the day he was born.

“Sam was in the military for years,” she said. “I really don't want to push my luck.”

The tremble in her voice made Jesse stop and take a calming breath himself. He hated it when Mom cried. “What do I tell Devin? That we just found out my long-lost adopted illegitimate half-brother is going to come see us on Christmas Eve, so Devin should just go hide in the hotel while we kill the fatted calf?”

“He could come on Christmas day, maybe. Once Sam's been here a bit.”

“Look, Devin and I can just play it cool at first. Until we sound Sam out and see if he really is homophobic. We won't kiss, or even stand too close together. Okay?”

“That won't work.” Mom touched his arm. “Can't you tell Devin it's a compliment, really? That he loves you so much, it shows when you're together.”

“Some compliment.” Jesse shook her hand off and turned for the door. “I'll be at the hotel.”

The whole drive there, he turned her words over in his mind. Objectively, maybe he could understand why she... no, on second thought, he couldn't. This was his mother, who put spiders outside rather than kill them, and gave money to every panhandler she passed. Who claimed kindness was important, and now suddenly was willing to make Devin feel like shit.

By the time he got to the door of their room, he'd worked up a good head of steam.

“She said what?” Devin pulled him inside and closed the door. “Slow down, you're not making sense.”

“She doesn't want to offend that damned Sam with our gayness.”

“So you can't wear make-up to dinner?” Devin teased. “No kissing under the mistletoe?”

“No 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 –

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