Chocolatiers of the High Winds
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by HB Kurtzwilde
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Gay Fiction
Description: This gay steampunk romance follows the globe-trotting adventures of young Mayport Titus, the sole scion of the Titus Chocolate fortune. Mayport's father, an adventurer and entrepreneur, established the intercontinental chocolate trade using sugar from India, cacao from South America, and a factory in New Amsterdam, before he and his wife were lost when their airship went down over the ocean and left Mayport orphaned. Now determined to make his own way in the world, Mayport attempts to resurrect his father's old airship, The Dutch Process, with the help of Thiervy, an intimate school friend who happens to be both a pilot and an engineer. Together Mayport and Thiervy not only rebuild the ship, and revolutionize the moribund chocolate industry, they bring a new way of doing things to the world. But their partnership will be tested. Love between men is not sanctioned in society, punishable by death for airshipmen, and kept behind closed doors in the genteel Confederate society that they enter when centering their new business in the American South. And both men are haunted by their fathers' legacies of madness and violence. What sacrifices will Mayport make to protect those he loves? And what will he find when he finally flies his ship to that worn spot on his father's old wooden globe? Chocolatiers of the High Winds is a rollicking romance in classic adventuring style, punctuated with passion and sweetened with chocolate. The ebook edition collects all 50 chapters of the web serial that ran on circlet.com from 2010-2011, and also includes one bonus chapter featuring a new erotic scene between Mayport and Thiervy... and more chocolate!
eBook Publisher: Circlet Press/Clasp Editions, 2012
eBookwise Release Date: May 2012
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [539 KB]
Reading time: 350-490 min.
At last, he followed Cully back to the house, and into the den. By daylight he could see that this room was neatly ordered, if rather full. From a shelf, Cully took a wooden globe and set it on the desk. He turned an expectant look on his guest, then stepped aside.
Mayport studied the surface of the globe. Its lands and waters were detailed in decorative wood inlay. Most of the surface was brightly polished. As he spun it, he noticed patches that didn't shine quite as brightly as the rest. One of the rubbed spots was just above where his school might have been.
He found another rub south of ex-Spanish lands that were now part of the Confederation. It sat on a narrow spit of land that divided the Atlantic Ocean from a wide gulf. A particular point on the coast had been stuck with a pin several times. There were several other rubs, but that particular one drew him back again and again.
"This can't be right," he said, and leaned closer. "There's nothing but jungles and savages there. They chased the Spaniards out decades ago. I would have heard about a city there, before now."
"That's not a city. It's the mouth of a river," Cully said. He turned the globe and bent down to sight along it. "Only your father would have thought to go where the Spaniards had fled and see what he could find. It never entered into his head that other sailors didn't go that way because they knew things he didn't."
"But there was something to find," Mayport said. He fingered the spot on the globe and tried to resist his greedier urges. "It had to have been important to somebody, or why is it worn down so?"
"It is only important to you," Cully said. He spun the globe, and let out an exasperated sigh. "You are correct when you say your father didn't leave much behind. The Titus Chocolate Company is more of an idea than a real business. Every time your father came within hailing distance of success, he would be distracted and lose everything in some grand new adventure."
"What happened to him?" Mayport demanded. "I've asked and asked. Since nobody seems to know, I feel I should at least try to find him."
"He is dead," Cully said, with no sign of reservation. "I know the craft he was on. Even the slightest problem could have sent it plummeting. That's why I left him, in the end. I followed him on the seas, and later on the high winds, but that contraption! I could only despise it, for I knew he would die of loving it. The first vessel we built was security itself compared to what he tried to do. You're a fool to come hunting for it, as if it were something a sane man would risk to sail."
Mayport stared up at Cully, knew he was just being stubborn but couldn't manage to care. "I made it here, and came to help you. I hoped to find a ship and bring back some kind of cargo. I shall have to be satisfied with bringing you home safe and sound. Without some way to haul goods back, I'm completely ruined. They'll have me in debtor's prison the moment I return."
"You wouldn't last a week. The Chairman wouldn't let them have you anyway," Cully said. "Now, you've had an idea. That's just fine. What I'm asking you about is your plan. Don't try so hard to be like your father. It's the last thing he ever wanted for you."
"He wanted me to be a gentleman," Mayport said. "In that, I have already failed him. I must succeed where he failed, in business and in my responsibilities."
* * * *
Chapter 3: Salvage
* * * *
Mayport was deeply into a study of Cully's rutters when the sound of a siren whooping high above the warehouse broke his concentration. He knew what it was from hearing it all over the ports when he was traveling. This was the first time he'd heard an anchor-line warning in the still of the countryside.
He put the books away as a high-pitched alarm descended somewhere out in the fields. The strobe threw crazy patterns against the walls, then the light and noise ended in an anticlimactic thud. He hurried to the window. With the anchor strobe cut off, he couldn't see where the ship might be beyond the trees.
He opened the window and leaned out as he heard the thrum of the anchor line drawing taut. A disk like a pale moon slowly descended from the skies. In its glow, he could just barely make out the shape of a salvage barge hovering on the edge of the trees.
Mayport grabbed his coat and hurried down to the front door. He was halted by an arm catching him mid-stride. "Friends of yours?" Cully asked over the roar of the barge coming in to anchor.
"He might still be, if I'm nice enough to him," Mayport said. "I guess we'll see. It's only a barge, so they'll need rooms. I guess they'll just have to live with the mess too, while they're here."
"Your buddies have scared the daylights out of the farmers, and probably the cows too," Cully said.
"You ought to be singing praises to Heaven. You'll be going home, if I have my way. This little hidey hole might be a treasure trove, but it's no good to me out in the middle of nowhere." Mayport pushed his way to the door and hurried out ahead of the captain.
He ran to the edge of the trees and climbed atop the stone fence as the flat-bottomed airship came to rest on the grass. The red and black bladder of the sail began to lose volume as soon as the barge was on the ground. A familiar figure leaped over the side and hit the ground running.
Mayport ran to meet Thiervy halfway, hardly protesting when he was hugged near to breaking. He had half-expected awkward greetings and apologies. Instead he had the warmth of a trusted friend in his arms.
"I brought the craftsmen you need," Thiervy said. "The cost will be something else again. Father will take that barge back from me if I show my face in New Amsterdam after this. I'll have to squeeze you for all you're worth, or he'll beat me to a pulp for taking off with it."
"I hope you do," Mayport said, and leaned in tight against his thigh.
"I will, but later," Thiervy said. "Is that your captain? I thought he would be all tan and... um..."
"He hardly leaves the house," Mayport said. "No guests or occasions. I don't know why he leaves the light on. You're the first one to visit since I've been here."
"He must be quite mad, after being alone in this wilderness for so long," Thiervy said. "Anyway, it's too dark to show you my treasures. Is dinner over already?"
"No," Cully said before Mayport could answer. "Young Master Titus' guests will soon be welcomed in style. Would you and your crew like a beer while we wait, Mister...?"
"Thiervy," he said. "Joseph Thiervy, pilot first class, but here as a shipwright. It's an honor to meet you, sir."
"You're too young for a pilot," Cully said. "Where did you certify?"
"Charlottesville," Thiervy said. "I was at a rustic kind of school when I met Master Titus, but Father didn't like me coming home smarter than him. He brought me out and apprenticed me instead. Either way, I'm not much younger than most pilots. I'd better be a good one by now, or Father will have my hide for a coat."
"Don't call me Master Titus," Mayport said, not liking the teasing tone. "Why don't you both go ahead and see about beer? I'll stay and bring the crew on."
Thiervy let go of him but reluctantly. Cully turned and marched away into the shadows, with Thiervy tagging at his coattails and chattering a mile a minute. Mayport shook his head in amusement over his friend. The crew came down in good order, and were glad to hear news of beer.
Cully had thrown open his second-floor lounge and had lined the bar with foamy glasses. Thiervy was leaning against the bar looking quite satisfied with himself. Mayport went over to get his own beer.
"Victory already?" Mayport asked.
"Within hours at most," Thiervy said. "Or would be, if I wasn't preoccupied. Don't worry for him. He'll get his turn if he wants it with me."
"He's much in need of it, I think," Mayport said. "I have to be as lonely as he is. I would have taken after the locals by now, but they're mostly milkmaids and think too much of me. Where's the fun in that?"
Thiervy laughed, and slid closer to Mayport's side. "So. What do you need a shipwright for?"
"I don't need one," Mayport said. "I'm a spoiled brat and want one. Who's going to stop me?"
"You're fooling nobody," Thiervy said. "You've had me haul out supplies and craftsmen for a Hollander class vessel. You've found your lost ship somewhere around here. I didn't see her on my way in."
"She was never lost," Mayport said. "She's been completely disassembled, or so our captain claims. We'll have to sort through the junk Father left behind and get what value we can from it."
"They you're not really just being a spoiled brat," Thiervy said. "You've got plans. I know you'll go back to New Amsterdam even if you're facing a judge. Cully might not let you go home if he knows the truth of what you've run away from."
"He's no more than a merchant, trying to get his cargo and head home," Mayport said. "I know he's as suspicious of the chairman as I am. I can't prove I've been robbed if I don't go back to make my case. If I manage to remain a free man, I'll need Cully more than ever."
"I'm sure he's open to persuasion," Thiervy said. "Better let him alone for a while, so he can get curious about what we're doing."
"You're the one that has plans for him, not me," Mayport said. "Happy hunting."
Thiervy ambled away to meet up with Cully again. The two of them stayed close through dinner. When rooms had been prepared, Cully personally conducted Thiervy to his quarters.
Mayport stayed up to play host to the rest of the crew, glad to make them feel at home. Cully certainly looked better for the company and the attention he was getting. Thiervy was sure to be better company than Cully had been getting in recent weeks.
Mayport made sure all the little details on their guests were handled, then went back to his own room. Only then did he realize he had spent all evening with his buttons undone and hair in a mess, with his pencil and pen shoved in among the tousled locks.
"You look quite mad," Mayport told his reflection.
"You look delicious," Thiervy said from the bed.
Mayport tried to hide his surprise. "Finished with Cully already? I thought you had stamina."
"He only wanted to tuck me in," Thiervy said. "He's a gentleman. I shouldn't have been surprised."
"Good thing I'm not one," Mayport said. He pulled his shirt off and turned to face Thiervy. "I'm hoping you don't expect me to behave."
Thiervy lifted the blankets back, revealing his perfectly nude body. He had gained quite a lot of muscle since the last time Mayport had seen him like this. He smiled at that familiar invitation and peeled out of his pants. He dove into his soft bed and wrapped himself in Thiervy's embrace.