The Christmas Mac-n-Cheese Mystery – Chapter 1

Chapter 1

“I’m really into the pizza flavors we’ve been working with this round, but the pineapple…I feel terrible for saying this…but I’m not sure it goes in macaroni-and-cheese.” I winced as boos and laughter went around the room.

I loved the members and I loved all the interesting ideas that popped up, but voting was the hardest part of advising the most delicious club on campus. “I’m going to have to vote no.”


How had I gotten roped into judging again?

Every semester I said I wasn’t going to do it because it was too stressful, and every semester I somehow ended up doing it again.

College students were pains in the butt sometimes.

This could not be my fault.

Somehow I just needed to channel some Daddy energy next time and not the little energy I had to be radiating.

As the laughter and teasing died down, Elliot, the very quirky freshman who’d put forward his creation without bothering to remember that it was supposed to be anonymous, shook his head. “You just don’t understand amazing cooking, Teach.”

He had more confidence than common sense, but I kept that to myself because it was time to judge the last entry in this round.

It wasn’t any better.

It looked like it was wiggling.

After being disqualified on a technicality because all of the entries were supposed to be cooked, I was saved from having to try a very interesting seafood option.

“Alright, we’re going to give the judges five minutes to confer and then they’ll announce the winner that will go on to the finals.” Jamie, a bubbly sophomore who was the ultimate Type-A take-charge leader, nearly bounced around the room. “Feel free to come try the entries, and dessert is over on the back table. Thankfully, it is not the chocolate mac-n-cheese monstrosity that someone tried to make us eat last week.”

It wouldn’t have been polite to agree with her, so I quickly stepped back from the judges’ table and moved to the front of the classroom where we’d been holding our club meetings so no one could ask me my opinion.

Several of my fellow judges smirked, and Mike, the other faculty advisor in the club, nearly laughed. “You know they’re going to fuck with you about it. You nearly turned green last week.”
I was too polite and one day it was going to end up giving me food poisoning.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Ignoring his ridiculousness wasn’t the best move, but it was all I had at the moment.

I was really good at staying big and professional when I was doing my regular responsibilities as a professor on campus, but Mac-n-Cheese Club just brought out my little side. The first reaction that wanted to escape was to stick my tongue out at him and tell him I wasn’t eating anything yucky.

He probably wouldn’t have been surprised, this was the most open University in the entire world when it came to kink stuff, but we’d never had that kind of relationship. We were grown-up friends and that was it.

“Now, voting.” As the other two student judges came closer, it was easier to push my little side back again. “This round was definitely interesting, but I don’t want that to influence us.”

The two roommates laughed and Gavin, the more outspoken one, shook his head. “They were so interesting it’s definitely going to influence us. But I’m voting for the supreme. That first one was really good and I liked how they put it on a pizza crust instead of just making it pizza flavored.”

I had to agree with him, but I let everyone else go first so I could hear their thoughts. My little side loved the pizza and mac-n-cheese mix, but I wasn’t sure that was a good reason to vote for something. Just because it made me want to clap and laugh didn’t mean it was the best entry.

“So we have a winner?” Looking around between us, Mike took charge of the announcement because he knew it made me uncomfortable.

I understood that we needed a winner, but there was a big part of me that hated disappointing anyone, even the guy who was pouting that no one was eating his wiggly entry. That just showed my sub side was a bit too close to the surface because logic had left the building.

But, doing my best to look like a confident grown-up, I smiled as Mike moved back up to the judges’ table and laughed as the one we liked best was down to just crumbs…no seconds for me. “I’m pretty sure you guys know who we picked as the winner.”

Laughter filled the room and good-natured teasing leapt between several of the older students. It was hard to tell which had won this round they were all so excited. They were competitive but still nice to each other, which was good to see. We’d worked hard as a club to make sure everyone knew we were having fun even if they wanted to win.

Some semesters were harder than others to maintain that balance, but we’d been lucky to have a great group for the past two years. Part of that was definitely because of the steadying influence of the students from one of the master’s programs that were currently an active part of the club, and I couldn’t help but wonder how things would change when they graduated in the spring.

The younger students definitely looked up to them, some in more romantic ways than others, but we had a good group. Mike and I had often described them as the Dads of the club, but we’d been careful not to say that around them.

There was just something confident and easygoing about them, and even the girls in their friend group had an air that made me wonder if they were Dominants.

Not that I’d ever ask.


Just because I was a young professor at one of the strangest universities in the whole country did not mean I was wondering if any of the students in the club were Doms…or Daddies.


Not me.

I was professional and liked my privacy.


I needed to date more.

Students who were younger than me were not supposed to buzz with Daddy vibes. I was supposed to be looking for someone older and more mature who wouldn’t mind that I wasn’t so mature in my personal life.

“Now, don’t forget, if you’re participating in the Secret Santa gift exchange, grab your present at the back and no trying to guess this early.” Jamie glared at everyone, pointing a menacing finger and shaking her head. “The point is to guess at the party right before winter break starts. Don’t ruin it for everyone else. Some of you can’t keep secrets at all and we’re not guessing our Santas until it’s December.”

She seemed to be taking the whole Secret Santa gift exchange a bit too seriously, but my worries might’ve been because I was her Santa and she was giving me ulcers.

“Remember. Present. Present. Party and reveal.” She glared at a few girls in the corner who were giggling, clearly not taking the game seriously enough. “I’ve heard you guessing. Don’t fuck with your Secret Santa.”

Yep, I was going to end up with an ulcer.

But after another round of laughter and teasing, everyone nodded like good minions and the club meeting started breaking up as everyone went to pick up their present or to get another brownie.
Thankfully, who ever had been in charge of dessert this time had better taste or at least hadn’t wanted to fuck with everyone.

“Hey, Professor Winslow?” One of the freshmen from my Intro to Psychology course nearly ran up to me and charged right in on questions about class as I desperately tried to figure out which twin was in front of me.



I was starting to think they liked fucking with me because they never said which one they were unless a grade was involved.

By the time they were done…and I thought it was Max based on the questions…the room had emptied out and the brownies were gone.


No pouting.

No pouting.

I had Cocoa Puffs at home that would be a good treat and probably healthier than brownies based on the vitamin content listed on the side of the box.

“Don’t worry. I saved you a piece.” The surprisingly deep voice coming from behind me had me trying not to shiver.


I was a grown-up.

I was a grown-up.

Turning around once I thought I had my expression under control, I had to laugh as Dante held up a small plate with plastic wrap carefully keeping a large brownie safe and a small plastic container of what looked like mac-n-cheese pizza. “You didn’t have to.”

Had he brought the pizza?

Dante scoffed and shook his head, making me want to smile for no logical reason at all. “You like brownies and I knew as soon as Max went up to corner you that they’d be gone before you were free.”

Yep, total Dad vibes.

Maybe even Daddy vibes.


I didn’t flirt with students, even ones in the master’s program that I’d never taught.

“Thank you. I appreciate it.” And yes, it had been Max. “And another slice of the pizza. It was really good.”

“No problem.” Looking like a proud caretaker and driving me crazy without seeming to realize it, he nodded toward the table with a few packages remaining. “Don’t forget your present. I saw your name on the red bag with candy canes on it.”

I liked candy canes.

Did my Secret Santa know that?

“I won’t.” Probably. I wasn’t usually too forgetful, but as we got closer toward the end of the semester that was questionable. “Thanks. Did you get yours?”

He wasn’t holding anything, but I was glad when he nodded. “Yes. I hope you enjoy yours.”

Dante inclined his head and then headed out of the room before I could ask what he’d gotten from his Secret Santa, but that was probably for the best. He tempted me in ways he shouldn’t. Shoot. I wasn’t even sure he was gay.

From what I’d seen, his friend group was so mixed he could be anything and he’d fit right in with them.

Which was great for him but frustrating from a nosy outsider’s perspective.

Not that I was curious about his personal life.

No. It wasn’t any of my business if he was dating the flirty redhead I’d seen him with at the coffee shop or the quiet guy who barely spoke in the club meetings…Sam, maybe?

Mentally sorting through the names of the kids in the club that started with an S so I could figure out who the shy young man was, I quickly cleaned up the last of the chairs that were out of place before I grabbed my present off the table.

It was heavier than I’d expected.

Most of the time when a student got me for anything like a Secret Santa exchange, I ended up with a gift card because buying for a professor was hard. I’d already mentally spent my five dollars at the local coffee shop, so I was stumped about what it could’ve been.

Had someone actually bought me a present?

The students had come up with the idea after learning that a few of the members wouldn’t be getting presents this year. They hadn’t told us who was struggling, but they said they’d taken care of it and wanted to do something fun in general.

The game they designed was that each present was supposed to be around five dollars and you’d give your Secret Santa a present at the last two meetings of the year. I had it on good authority that everyone who’d wanted to participate was able to, but the vague way they’d described it made it sound like the whole thing was rigged. But since it seemed to be for a good cause, I hadn’t called them out on it.

I still wasn’t sure that’d been the right decision, but Mike had said we shouldn’t hover over them too much. However, since he was an ethics professor, I was never sure if he was saying what he thought was right or if he was using us as an experiment.

It honestly could’ve gone either way with him and that might’ve been one of the reasons I’d never told him about my little side.

Turning off the lights and locking the door, I made my way out of the building and started heading across campus before I gave in to the compulsion to open my present. I wanted more privacy just in case.

I’d learned to be a bit more careful after a very glittery disaster my first year teaching and waited until I was almost off campus and just down the street from my small bungalow before I opened it and held it away from me for a few seconds.

I felt ridiculous when nothing exploded, but better safe than sorry when it came to glitter had been my motto since the unfortunate disaster.

Laughing as I looked into the Christmasy bag, I had a feeling someone hadn’t stuck with the budget, but I couldn’t help but get excited. “Where did they find these?”

Pulling out a pair of bright yellow socks with macaroni noodles all over them, my inner little was giggling and couldn’t wait to put them on. They were probably supposed to be silly or ironic, but they were the perfect present for a little.

“What else is there?” The bag was still too heavy, so I pushed past some tissue paper and saw what seemed to be silverware as I got closer to the house. “What?”

I’d run out of hands, so I quickly made my way home and hurried into the house, balancing everything slightly precariously as I headed right for the kitchen table. “Okay, I’m going to heat up the leftover pizza and then finish opening my present. Then dessert.”

My inner little was utterly delighted, but I made him be patient as I turned on the air fryer and got dinner organized. “Almost done. Then I get to finish opening my present.”
It might be my only present, so I wasn’t going to rush.

When the two generous pieces of pizza were on a plate and I had a sippy cup full of milk that made my little side all happy and wiggly, I sat down and took a breath. “Gonna open my present. Oh, socks first.”

Kicking off my shoes, I quickly changed my socks to the new special ones.

“I’m so cute.” Stretching my legs out, I wiggled my toes and laughed as the noodles moved. “Mac-n-Cheese Man to the rescue.”

Best present ever but they’d probably never know.

“It has to be one of the freshmen.” They were the only ones who would’ve found the socks funny in a ridiculous kind of way. They were always laughing at the idea of the club even though they came every week and brought food they’d worried over making in the small dorm kitchens.

It was a fun way of pushing them to get more independence and improve their skills in the cooking, but they still thought it was silly.

But my little side loved silly, so I was going to enjoy them even while my Secret Santa laughed.

“Mac-n-Cheese Man to the present.” I had one more to go. “Real presents too. Not a gift card.”

Not even to Target where I could buy toys.

“Oh.” Pulling out a spoon and a fork with writing down the handles, I wiggled more and was quickly losing the stay-big battle. “My mac and cheese spoon and my mac and cheese fork. I gots a special fork and spoon just for mac and cheese.”

I had the bestest Secret Santa ever.

Mac-n-Cheese Club was the best.

“Oh, I gots a card too.” Wiggling, I pulled it out and carefully opened it as I looked at my pretty fork and spoon. They were shiny and just for eating the bestest food ever. “Oh, it’s got presents on it.”

Merry Christmas from your Secret Santa.

The best little deserves the best presents.

“Oh…I got a Secret Daddy?” My big side said I should probably be worried, but my little side was too excited and he won. He ’minded me that no one at the University cared and most of the club was probably Doms and subs, anyway.

“What’s Secret Daddy gonna get me next?”

Mac-n-Cheese Club just kept getting better and better. I got yummy pizza, a big brownie, and a Daddy.

Buy on Amazon

The Christmas Mac n Cheese Mystery by MA Innes - Gay Romance Book CoverBlurb:

Ruslan knows that the best student organization on campus is the Mac-n-Cheese Club…and that’s not just because he’s the professor in charge of it. He’s also a little and an expert in mac-n-cheese. But as the holidays approach, he’s found another reason to love the club…his new Secret Santa.

Dante knows that the best student organization on campus is the Mac-n-Cheese Club because it’s led him to the most adorable little ever…and the most clueless. So when flirting isn’t helpful in the slightest, he knows it’s time to bring in the heavy hitter…Santa.

When a rigged game of Secret Santa helps a little open his eyes, it’ll take mac-n-cheese and a little romance to bring a stubborn cutie out of his shell.

Warning: This story has so much mac-n-cheese in it you probably should stock up before reading it.