Published by: WAYWARD INK PUBLISHING
GENRE: Gay Sci-fi, Gay Romance, Gay Thriller
A COOK’S TALE
Ship Logs of the Santa Claus: Book Two
The trials and tribulations of the crew and passengers of interplanetary transport vessel, The Santa Claus continues in A Cook’s Tale.
After a horrific breakup, Erron Murfin is bitter, homeless, and friendless. When the cook’s position on the Santa Claus presents itself, Erron decides to escape his current circumstances and join the crew. On board he reconnects with family friend Gamin Wells, whose own secrets and issues begin to surface upon Erron’s arrival. The least of which is the reason the pair haven’t laid eyes on one another in over twelve years.
As Erron settles into his new duties, the men on board take an interest in their newest crew member. Among those intrigued by Erron are polyamorous couple, Barrus and James. Despite Erron’s cautious nature, he’s drawn into a triad relationship with the pair.
But there’s something about Gamin…
Is Erron too damaged to confront his own feelings?
Will his past prevent him from finding what he needs?
Welcome to the Santa Claus
“IS IT TRUE there aren’t any heteros on board your ship?”
Erron Murfin leaned forward in the darkened diner. The ruggedly handsome man sitting across from him was softly lit from the amber glow emanating from the table’s gentle surface. Dark stubble lined his dining partner’s jaw in perfect rhythm with the subtle, yet masculine facial lines that hinted at a man not afraid of an honest day’s work. A hint of predator in his blue eyes, the last bit of the man’s food passed his lips. Erron could feel the examination across the table. He wasn’t unnerved by the attention; it amplified his curiosity.
The diner was sparsely filled with patrons, being after the main dinner hours. The meal had been simple but well crafted. Erron couldn’t pick up on any hint of synthesized food. The walls were painted in dusky colors with a soft metallic luster. Soft murmurs of conversation could be heard if one bothered to listen, but Erron tuned it out, focusing on the dirty blond alpha male across from him.
“No hetero, no female. That’s the rule,” Captain Danverse said.
Erron cocked his head slightly. “No female, either? Aren’t you afraid of being labeled a misogynist or tagged as a discriminatory employer?”
“I’ve been called that before.” Danverse didn’t seem the slightest bit ashamed at the fact. “When I set up my crew, I made the ship open to everyone at first, but we had problems. I had to make a hard choice and keep things simple. No gender issues. No orientation conflicts. I wanted to populate my ship with men who would work hard and enjoy each other’s company when the voyages were long. Almost ten years later, I have my boy at my side, I have a life I love, and I work with my best friend and adopted family. Don’t fuck with it, if it isn’t broken.”
Danverse lifted his glass and took a solid sip of the dark whiskey. “But I’m not here to be interviewed for a job. You are.” A soft, growling laugh rolled off the captain. Erron couldn’t help the smirk that responded.
“You’re right. Ask away. What would you like to know?”
“First off,”—glass still in hand, Danverse’s index finger pointed at Erron—“why is the ‘No hetero’ rule so important to you?”
The smirk began to flatten as memories raced to the surface. Erron ran a hand through his shock of jade green hair, settling back into his chair. Studying the captain, he decided how forthcoming he was going to be. The pain was still there, fresh and raw, but there was little to be done about it.
“I could use a break from the majority these days.” If he thought Danverse was paying close attention before, it now felt as though his interest had quadrupled. The intensity of the captain’s scrutiny was palpable.
“Boyfriend dumped you?” Without responding, Erron knew he’d revealed the truth. “You didn’t know he was bi?”
Erron glanced away into a dark corner. “Not until he announced his engagement to her.”
Erron shrugged in some feeble attempt to shed the past. There was still the sharp pinch of loss in his chest whenever he relived what happened. He couldn’t face Danverse while he revealed his tale. If pity was visible in his blue eyes, he wouldn’t have to witness it.
“I worked with him at the restaurant his father owned. We kept things quiet so the rest of the staff wouldn’t think I was getting preferential treatment. I thought everything was great until the announcement. When she found out about me, she insisted I be let go. Little, over-privileged bitch.”
“She must have been quite a prize,” Danverse snarled.
Erron snorted. “Trophy is the word that comes to mind. Too pretty, too whiny, and seemed like the type who’d been told since she was a little girl how much better she was than everyone else. Toby’s father arranged their meeting and her family was really wealthy. It was all a business deal for him. He sacked me in a heartbeat and didn’t even flinch.
“To top things off, when she found out he owned the building I lived in, she had me evicted. I’ve been living off my savings since.”
Erron drew a long, slow inhale. It wasn’t just being thrown away that pained him so badly. The whole experience had made him feel more bitter and worthless than he had in his life. Not having the slightest clue of what was happening behind his back had made him feel profoundly stupid. It was the sort of thing that happened to a wide-eyed teenager, not a man in his early thirties.
“When did this happen?”
His eyes rolled upward as he mentally counted backwards on the calendar. “About three months ago.”
“Where have you been living?” Danverse asked. A scowl was forming on his handsome face and Erron felt himself shrinking.
“In some of the shittiest inns the spaceport has to offer.”
“No friends to stay with?”
Erron shook his head. “Apparently, they took Toby’s side after the breakup. It must be much nicer to rub elbows with a wealthy socialite than an unemployed, homeless cook.”
“What about family?”
“It was just me and my mom, but she didn’t survive the Centauri Civil War.” Erron shrugged. “That seems like a long time ago.”
Unconsciously, Erron crossed his arms over his chest, but not for warmth. Danverse looked increasingly unhappy as he heard more about Erron’s state of affairs. The more he said the worse the expression became and Erron was convinced the job opportunity was fading faster and faster.
“So what made you apply for our cook’s position?”
“Needed a job and came across the Subspace Link ad. I did a little research on the Santa Claus. It looked like a good fit for me and when I found out Gamin was part of the crew, I had to take a shot.”
“You know our head chef?”
“Yeah. He was my mom’s best friend when I was a kid. I never knew my dad and he was the next thing to a father figure back then. They had some major falling out back when I was nineteen and he stopped coming around. Mom wouldn’t say what. Then the Civil War broke out and in all the craziness, we lost touch. I didn’t even know he was alive until now. I figured I needed a fresh start, and touching base with him would be something I should have done ages ago.”
Danverse paused for an uncomfortably long moment as his stare intensified. Erron began to fidget in his seat as he watched his employment hunt begin again.
“Assuming I take you on, the job is every day, three meals a day. You’ll have down time, but not days off except when we’re in port. Gamin would be your direct superior, but there is still a chain of command. Living onboard isn’t a pleasure cruise, but it’s not a bad life. The crew is like a small town. We’re all in each other’s business, and we always look out for each other. I don’t have a tolerance for people who can’t play well with others.”
Erron’s eyes began to widen. Why was he telling him this? Surely the captain wasn’t saying yes?
“It sounds perfect. I’m not afraid of hard work and Gamin’s the reason I became a cook in the first place. Cooking makes me happy. I’m still waiting for you to tell me the down side.”
Danverse’s frown shifted into a sly grin. “Right now, I don’t think I’m seeing one.”
“Are you saying I can have the job?” Erron’s voice peaked as he fought to control the excitement rising in his chest. There was no doubt he seriously wanted the job, but he didn’t want it to be so horrifically obvious.
“Can you be at Landing Bay Gamma Seven One tomorrow by 09:00 hours? We’ll be in port for about a week, but I can have my security chief get you settled in before we ship out.”
The smile on Erron’s face made his cheeks ache, it was so strong. He was so elated, if he wasn’t careful he was going to be on the verge of tears. “You’re Goddamn right I can be there.”
Danverse lifted his glass in salute. “Well then, Mr. Murfin. Welcome to the crew.”
IS BOOK TWO
DON’T MISS OUT ON BOOK ONE
VIEW THE TRAILER for THE LUXORIAN FUGITIVE
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Like many gay men, when Mann Ramblings grew up, there weren’t any heroes he could relate to. The world held him back while he tried futilely to hide the real person inside. So much has changed since those hollow days. He finally found his voice, the voice that says it’s all right to revel in the so-called inappropriate joys, laughs, and loves that storm inside a man’s head. It took a long time to find that courage and now that it’s here, he plans to use it well.
While spending years more focused on visual arts, he never let go of his innate passion for storytelling—he wanted to write and draw comic books when he grew up. Once he discovered M/M fiction, a whole new world opened with new possibilities. Why couldn’t you have fantastic and dynamic tales with an M/M cast? He started reading the online tales of authors like, Night Tempest, Rob Colton, and Alicia Nordwell, which only fueled within him the need to create. Eventually he found GayAuthors.org, and with a little coercive nudge from Night Tempest, started sharing his tales with an unexpected level of positive response. That experience and support gave him the courage to cross his fingers and aim for the world of M/M publishing.
Born and raised in Michigan, Mann Ramblings continues to type away, wishing it was practical to use a noisy, old fashioned keyboard that clacks with each strike, if only to annoy his loving partner and spoiled miniature dachshund.