Sergeant Liam Jacks is the security chief of transport vessel, The Santa Claus. He travels the planetary cluster with Marc Danverse, his best friend and captain, seeking to escape his tortured past and find some peace of mind.
Having been through a civil war together, Danverse and Liam are close. Maybe too close....
All that changes when mysterious stranger, Hadrian Jamison, an escaped Adonirati, books passage to Alpha Centauri. Can he be trusted? Can the stories of his past be believed?
As Liam's fascination with Hadrian grows, jealousy threatens to tear apart his friendship with Danverse.
When Hadrian's owner shows up, Liam is forced to go against orders in order to launch a rescue mission to save him.
The ensuing conflict may be more than any of them expected.
“Liam, are we going to be all right?” Danverse hadn't stopped fidgeting since he returned to the dock. The air of unease was so out of character for the captain; Liam didn't like it. Danverse not being in charge would upset the sense of order to his universe.
Liam sighed. “Yeah. We'll be fine. I'm just a little embarrassed by it all. I wish I could find a better way to bury the past.”
“You will. And you let me know if you need help with anything.” Liam snorted. “Pervert.” “Not just that.” Danverse laughed. “I mean with anything you need.” “I know.” It felt like the first time he’d smiled in days.
Soon after that the first passenger came aboard. Dr. Davis Cellus was a professor in his fifties who had been on sabbatical and would be heading back to his regular life. He was heavyset, with a thin goatee and shaved head, dressed in comfortable clothing that spoke of a meager wage, but his manner indicated a modest lifestyle. Liam was convinced his accounts were heavier than he let on.
They turned the second passenger away. Clearly she had ignored the “No Hetero, No Female” rule. She had to be escorted off by station security when she started arguing.
Danverse maintained that Mrs. Claus insisted she would be the only female on the ship. Liam knew better.
Danverse hadn’t always placed such restrictions on passengers, but the ship wasn't designed with separate facilities. Privacy wasn't a focus on a military vessel and he didn't want to spend the currency on making the changes. Voyages lasting easily six or more weeks at a time became tedious with complaints from hetero passengers unhappy about walking in on crew members having sex in the shower room or other areas. Danverse had no interest in changing the men's habits. Non-hetero passengers complained less or joined in. Since they didn't have passengers on every trip, removing orientation and gender issues made the whole process a lot easier. The captain liked it that way.
Marley Keyes was next. He was a rough-looking man with a medium build heading for a new job opportunity on Alpha Centauri. He seemed uncomfortable and maintained an iron grip on the satchel strapped around his shoulder. Marley claimed to have never been off planet before. Liam was suspicious of the twitchy man, but the background check came up clean, so another passenger joined the ship.
The boarding period was almost over before the last person on the manifest appeared. Liam had to remind himself not to stare. It was the hooded man from the café.
“I am Hadrian Jamison. I should have a reservation for passage to Alpha Centauri. I hope I am in the right place.” The man’s rich voice bore a subtle accent. Liam checked his list and scanned the man's hand. He seemed hesitant to be registered. Liam gave the data a cursory glance and then turned the pad off. Danverse threw a questioning look in his direction.
“I'm Captain Marc Danverse.” He shook Hadrian's hand. “And this is my security chief, Sergeant Liam Jacks.” As Hadrian turned and traded greetings, Liam got his first proper look at the hooded man. Hadrian was above average in size, just a little shorter than Danverse. His hand was veined and strong. He sported wild, long, dark hair and dark facial stubble over an olive complexion, and had the most entrancing eyes Liam had ever looked into. Thick dark eyelashes outlined the white in stark contrast to ice-blue irises ringed in sapphire. It was otherworldly, and he was gorgeous. Liam found a heat rising in his chest as those beautiful eyes looked up at him through the locks of hair falling haphazardly over his face.
“Do you have any other belongings to load?” Danverse asked, glancing at where Liam’s and Hadrian’s hands were still touching.
“No, thank you. The bag I am carrying is all I need,” Hadrian said, nodding to the pack slung over his shoulder. He hesitantly removed his hand from Liam's.
“Then I can show you to your quarters,” Liam offered. With one outstretched hand and the other lightly at Hadrian's back, he directed the last passenger up the steps. He noticed Danverse watching them with a cocked eyebrow as they passed. His mouth was slightly open but he didn't say a word as they stepped on board. What the hell was that odd look about?
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.
MANN RAMBLINGS can be found at: