I love Christmas cookies. I almost always manage to bake at least a few every season, but some seasons I go a little overboard. This year, I’m somewhere in the middle. I’ve made ginger cookies, shortbread cookies, date bars, cranberry bars, and my husband’s favorite anise biscotti. I’ve been baking nearly every day since before Thanksgiving, and despite the fact that we’re socially distancing and barely seeing anyone. I don’t think we currently have more than a dozen cookies in the house. And that’s including the plate our neighbors just dropped off. Apparently, a black hole has opened up somewhere in my house and is sucking up cookies at an alarming rate. But apocalyptic pastry singularities aside, I’m here today to talk about literary cookies. And I have lots of those, as well.
Finders Keepers, my only straight SFR to date, features a tough, no-nonsense, surly hero…who bakes. And that’s not even the Sci-fi part. This might very well be my favorite of all my books, even though it’s set in the near future and real life events are proving far stranger than the “future” I’d imagined for its past. It’s on sale right now for only .99, so…get it while it’s still somewhat relevant? lol!
Sometimes finding what you want is the easy part.
Caleb is a bionic soldier with little-to-no memory of his past. Aldo’s an undercover cop who’s searching for the man who got away. Then there’s Sally, an ER physician who used to be married to Aldo’s late partner, Davis. Sally’s just looking for a reason to keep on getting up every day.
This holiday season, chance will bring them together and give them an opportunity to help one another find what they each want most. But every gift comes with a price. And keeping what they’ve found once they’ve found it?
Yeah, that’s gonna be the hard part.
Buy Links at: https://www.pgforte.com/finders-keepers
Aldo was baking cookies. Spicy black-pepper-cinnamon cookies—Davis’s favorite. He rolled the dough thin, then cut them out using the maple-leaf cookie cutter Sally and Davis had brought him back from Vancouver. Then he decorated them with sanding sugar in a variety of colors, some in plain red or green in a nod to the season, some swirled with autumn shades of burgundy and gold, others frosted just at the tips in blue and white, as though they’d been touched by an ice fairy. Maple leaves weren’t particularly Christmasy, he supposed, but he didn’t care. He liked the way the cookies looked, liked the way the edges browned first, like real leaves would. Besides, he doubted anyone else here would even notice what shape cookies he made…not unless he used the pornographic cookie cutters he’d received one year as a gag gift. Too bad he wasn’t in the mood to play around like that. Not when he was the only one in the house who wasn’t getting any.
That was a big part of the reason he was baking, come to think of it—because he had nothing better to do. Or no one better to do. No one at all to do, for that matter—but let’s not go there. And because baking cookies was part of what he’d always done at this time of year.
Of course, in years past he’d baked mostly because Davis, who had a hellacious sweet tooth, couldn’t get enough of them. But Sally had always liked his cookies as well, and anything that made her happy, anything that made her feel like the world hadn’t ended with Davis’s death was a good thing. They both needed to feel like that. Besides, the weather had turned cold and it had been snowing for the better part of the afternoon, so going for another hike was out unless he wanted to end up with hypothermia. He could either bake or spend all his time curled up in front of the fire thinking gloomy thoughts. He’d done more than enough of that in the past few days.
He was happy Sally had found someone—truly, he was. Even if it was someone they knew so little about, someone who knew too little about himself. Someone whose very presence left Aldo feeling conflicted and confused. After a solid week of scrutiny and daily observation, Aldo was still no closer to solving the mystery that had been plaguing him. Their “vacation” time was almost over, and Aldo was beginning to despair of ever learning the truth. Were Kyle and Caleb the same person? Did it matter? What would it mean if they were? He was almost afraid to find out.
Aldo could still recall the grief he’d felt when he’d learned Kyle had been killed, the frustration when he could get no details, no answers, no closure. If it turned out Kyle hadn’t died after all, Aldo didn’t even know how he was supposed to feel about that. A lot would depend on why. If Kyle had been so badly hurt that this was the only option, the only way to save his life, that was one thing. He’d feel nothing but grateful then. But wouldn’t Aldo have been told about it, if that were the case? There wouldn’t be any reason for secrecy in that scenario. If this was something Kyle had chosen, on the other hand, if he’d made a conscious decision to off his former self… But no. No, damn it. Why would he do that? Had he thought at all what it would mean to make a total break with his past, to disappear forever? Had he even considered that he’d be breaking Aldo’s heart all over again?
Aldo continued to roll out more cookie dough as he thought, slamming the rolling pin hard on the counter at the start of each pass. Maybe he wasn’t being fair. After all, Aldo had been the one to end things, to break things off between them. They had been over for months before Kyle’s death…his supposed death. Maybe Kyle had honestly believed it wouldn’t matter to Aldo if he lived or died. Maybe he even had reason to feel that way.
Kyle had tried to contact Aldo in the weeks leading up to his disappearance, but Aldo had been incommunicado at that point, immersed in his own training, his own transformation. He didn’t learn about those failed attempts to reach out to him until it was too late. Those missed calls and unread messages had preyed on his mind. They’d been a big part of Aldo’s disillusionment with the military, and the main reason he’d decided to buy his way out. He’d given away his right to make his own decisions, the freedom to think for himself—to go where he needed to be, to do what he needed to do. He’d never make that mistake again.
“Everything okay in here?” Sally wandered into the kitchen to ask.
“Everything’s fine.” Aldo managed a smile. “Just making more cookies.” He nodded toward the rack of cooling cookies. “Have some, if you like. What did you do with Caleb anyway?”
A faint blush colored Sally’s cheeks. She picked up a cookie and then slid onto one of the stools across from Aldo. “He’s taking a nap.”
Aldo picked up the cookie cutter and began cutting out leaves. “A nap, huh?” Really? In the middle of the day? Well, why not. Once upon a time, he’d have done the same thing.
“What’s your problem with him anyway?”
“Who said I had a problem?”
“Aldo, c’mon.” She propped her chin in her hand and gazed at him, her expression concerned. “Talk to me. You’ve been moping all week. What is wrong?”
“I don’t know what to tell you, Sal. I invited the guy up here for you, didn’t I? I don’t think I’ve been rude to him while he’s been here.”
“Of course you’ve been rude to him!”
Aldo slammed the cookie cutter on the counter. “Look, he’s not Davis, all right? I can’t pretend he is—not even for you. You can’t expect me to feel the same or treat him the same or behave the same way around him. Not even if you marry him. Not even if he and I become good friends.” His voice trailed off as the anger that had fueled his outburst burned off, leaving only sadness behind. “They’re two different people, and that’s just the way it is. I’m not even saying it’s necessarily a bad thing. It’s just not the same.”
“I know he’s not Davis. Don’t you think I know that? And I know it’s not going to be exactly the same. Nothing’s ever going to be the same again. But I think he’s becoming important to me. And you know you’re important to me. I need to know the two of you can get along with one another.”
“Well, I can’t promise you that. It’s too soon.”
“Do you think I’m moving too fast?”
Aldo shook his head. “That’s not a question for me to answer. You’re only waiting on yourself, honey. Do you think you’re moving too fast?”