Worldbuilding Wednesday: No post today

Sorry, guys. I got new glasses last night and wow, they’re kicking my ass. Which could, in itself, be a post, you know about disability and how it’s handled in your world?

But nope, my head aches and my eyes keep crossing so there’s no post.

(Other than yeah, do think about it. Glasses are an adjustment we all make for a very common disability but they didn’t always exist. Prior to the 13th century you’d only have reading stones, magnifiers, not glasses. It’s something to think about, especially in Fantasy stories. How do people handle things like nearsightedness, farsightedness, hearing loss? It can have a huge effect on your life, after all.)

Anyway, hopefully by next Wednesday I’ll be adjusted to these things and I’ll have an actual post for you.

*waves and wobbles back to work*

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Now Available: Transplant of War

POD Transplant of War Ebook Cover 04
Description:
Adane barely escaped war in his homeland. He wanted nothing more than to hide in this new city with his adopted child Chisa by his side. But every choice he makes risks their quiet lives and every day brings the war that Adane fled closer to their doorstep. Soon Adane will have to choose between running away again or taking a stand against an enemy that can’t be seen and cannot be fought.

Transplant of War is an epic fantasy that will draw you and never let you go.

Find this Book:

On Amazon $5.99 ebook or $17.99 TPB
On Smashwords $5.99 ebook
On Kobo $5.99 ebook
On CreateSpace $17.99 ebook

Whoot! Got the post up, finally! Took a bit longer than normal because I redid all the covers for this series and redid some of the interiors for the earlier books in this ‘verse. Part of the price of publishing, I suppose. Maintenance of your books. :)

Anyway, I’m super-glad to get this one out. It all but blasted out of my fingertips like a fire hose when I wrote it. It’s set during the Wars Before that destroyed the world that Kennet (in Artifacts of Awareness) lives in, approximately 1200 years ago. It was so much fun developing a bit of what that world was like. I’m really looking forward to write more in that time period but I hope to get back to Kennet next.

We’ll see where the muses take me though. Hope you enjoy if you choose to read!

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Novel Monday: The Nature of Beasts Chapter 5

The Nature of Beasts POD Ebook Cover 12

Description:

In a world that took a different path, Kaleb Macintyre, a former Master, returned home after years away. All he wanted was a quiet life but encountering Nenne changed everything. Both of them bore scars from their pasts. As their relationship grew and they healed, Kaleb wondered if he could have more with Nenne or if his basic nature prevented him from ever finding happiness in Nenne’s arms.

The Nature of Beasts is a sweet romance focusing on consent, knowledge and growing together over time.

Warning / Themes: This novel addresses themes of abuse and recovery, BDSM and gay romance in a dystopian world. Please read with caution if you have any issues with these themes.

The Nature of Beasts

By Meyari McFarland

5. Growing Attachment

Kaleb lounged on his couch, reading. He was fairly certain that to an outside viewer he looked calm, relaxed, in control. An outside viewer might notice that he’d read the same page four times only to turn back and read it a fifth. The way his toes twitched rhythmically probably would tell someone paying attention that Kaleb was anything but calm and relaxed.

“He won’t come back and talk to you,” Kaleb grumbled at himself as he shut his book and glared at the ceiling. It stayed blandly white, refusing to react to his worry for Nenne. “It’s already well after midnight, Kaleb. Huh, no, well after two in the morning. He’s going to go home and go to bed, not come over here and talk.”

That was exactly as it should be. Kaleb had more or less told Nenne that he shouldn’t bother filling Kaleb in until the next day. After all Kaleb usually went to bed well before midnight and Nenne was likely to be out until early morning.

The sheer thought of what he might be doing until dawn had Kaleb up and on his feet, pacing. Jack had warned Kaleb that Todd had taken to attending the Saint Elmo Club in the last couple of years. Even thinking of Nenne meeting Todd made Kaleb’s teeth grind. No one as sweet and gentle as Nenne deserved to deal with Todd’s wrong-headed stubbornness. Really, things would have been so much different if Todd had just been able to admit that he’d changed and wanted new things…

“I should have gone with him,” Kaleb murmured as he considered, and then decided not to, putting on his shoes and coat so that he could go straight over. “The boy’s so new that he might as well be raw. He has no idea what he’s going to find.”

Of course, that was the whole point of the evening. That was why Jack had agreed to escort Nenne, to give him a Master as a buffer against the vultures that were sure to swoop in on someone like Nenne. Kaleb could think, even now, of a dozen Masters and Mistresses who would be perfectly happy to take Nenne in for the status of having him with them. Not a one of them would really think of what was best for Nenne.

“You told him what to look for,” Kaleb growled at himself. “You explained how it works. You told him all the things he should say to get people to back off and you told him how to call for help if someone didn’t listen to what he wants. Nenne’s grown. He’s not the fragile boy you first met. He’ll be fine!”

Kaleb threw up his hands, wishing desperately that his damned worries would listen to him. It was all true and not one word of it made the slightest bit of difference. Nenne was away at a BDSM club without Kaleb, just as Kaleb had wanted, and now Kaleb thought that he was going to claw his way out of his own skin. It was ridiculous.

“The boy will be fine,” Kaleb muttered as he stomped over to put his book away before stomping onwards to the bedroom. “You are not going to stay up and wait for him to come home. That’s ridiculous. There’s no reason for it when you know that Nenne’s not going to visit until tomorrow afternoon.”
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Free Fiction Friday: Child of Spring

Have the story that made me cry like a baby while I wrote it this week, guys. I almost don’t want to say it given my response to the story but I hope you enjoy!

POD Child of Spring Ebook Cover 08

Description:

Meyari McFarland returns to the world of Mouse and Snake in a story of a found family and the cycles of life.

Ben’s terraced garden, cut high into the mountainside where few dared to work, was his pride and joy, source of his family’s food. Twenty years of working it had taught him every nook and cranny, leaving few surprises until the cool spring day he found a beaten and abandoned toddler by the blackberry bushes.

Child of Spring is a tender cyberpunk story of family, the bonds forged by working the earth together and the inevitability of death even in the far future.

Child of Spring

By Meyari McFarland

1. Summer

Ben slowly climbed the ladder-like stairs up to his precious garden. He’d cut the winding beds out of the steep rocky hillside twenty years ago with an old pickaxe and shovel, painstakingly reinforcing them with bamboo and lathe that he replaced as needed to make sure they didn’t collapse.

South exposure, sheltered by a mass of overgrown grapevine on the west and exuberant blackberry brambles to the east, his vegetables grew well. The rock wall behind each bed reflected the sun’s warmth, granting him extra growing time. Not many could say that. It’d fed his family well since that first year.

‘Course he had to haul the dirt up every single spring to replace what had washed away. Wasn’t any good dirt this high up in the mountains, just sand and gravel and shale that wasn’t good for much besides building walls. He hitched his backpack full of still-damp river silt higher on his back, groaning as his back protested.

The work was worth it for the food he grew. Taters grew well in cast-off pine needles but his precious tomatoes, carrots and corn wanted dirt. Anything that’d feed his family was worth the effort, no matter what his fool son-in-law said. That boy wasn’t going to last much longer. His daughter was too practical for that lazy bum.

Ben wheezed as he counted thirty, thirty-one, thirty-two. Thirty-three steps. He stood for a long while, waiting for his old heart to stop pounding and the chilly morning air to fill his lungs right. His eyes traced the tiny shoots coming from his onions and garlic beds, the mound of pine needles over the growing potatoes.

A tiny footprint stood in the middle of his asparagus bed.

He froze, blinking at that footprint for the longest time before he realized that it was real. Ben eased the backpack off, careful not to make the plastic lining rustle. Other tiny footprints led towards the blackberry bramble. Not one sat on top of a sprouting plant. He followed their trail, walking along the edge of the retaining wall, only to freeze as he saw a toddler curled up in the warmest spot in his garden, her fluff of kinky black hair matted with blood.

The girl’s skin was darker than the earth she’d curled up on, black like the night sky. As he eased closer he saw that her skin was speckled with lights like stars, too. She looked like someone had wrapped the night sky over her body before deciding that pulling the stars down was an abomination.

Bruises marked her little arms and legs, muddying the stars of her skin like clouds across the sky. Her dress, made of an old piece of tarp roughly tied into shape, was torn, ragged on the edges. Ben frowned. Altered or not, the child didn’t deserve to be beaten until she ran away to the mountains.

“Hey there,” Ben said low and gentle, same as he crooned to the chickens and geese his daughter raised. “Hey there, baby.”

The girl started and gasped, head coming up as the darkness fled from her skin as if it was spilled ink draining off the side of the table. Her stars remained, more subdued against her mahogany, oak, ash, pale skin as white as the snow that had covered his garden not too long ago. At the same time her eyes went from black to brown, hazel, green into the palest of pale blues, like the faint color of the water burbling down the waterfall on the other side of the blackberry bramble.

“Well, then,” Ben said, crouching down so he wouldn’t loom over the girl. “Hello. I’m Ben.”

She shook her head ‘no’ only to gasp quietly and clutch her head. Tears trembled at the corners of her eyes. He could just barely hear her breathy whimpers. As pale as she was now the blood on her matted hair showed clearly. So did the bruises, stark lavender against her pale, sparkly skin.

“Ah, baby,” Ben sighed. “I’m an old man. Not gonna hurt you. Just worried about you.”

His gentle tone prompted a sniffle and a much more cautious headshake ‘no’. Ben chuckled. He stood up, knees and back creaking and popping so loud that the little girl stared at him with her mouth pursed in a little ‘o’. When he stretched, rocking side to side, and set off another wave of pops that echoed in this little corner of the garden, she giggled near silently.

“Am too worried,” Ben told her. “Gonna sit on the stairs for a bit, baby. Thanks for not walking on the shoots. They’re food for my family, come fall.”

Ben made his way back to the steep stairs, sitting on the top step with a cautious sigh. It was a bit loose this year. The wide shale slab had flaked away long the edges over the years since he’d placed it, rounding until it didn’t wedge securely into place. Probably would be a good idea to go find a new one, haul it back and chip the edges away until it fit perfectly. He ran his fingers along the crumbly edge of the stone. Maybe later, during the summer heat. Too much to do right now.

The valley below hid behind low clouds, tops of the trees poking out in places. The other mountain peaks loomed like islands in a pale ocean that stretched to infinity. This high up the smell of pine mixed with rain not quite falling was gone, replaced by wind and earth and after a few moments the faint smell of the blood marking the girl’s head.

She crept over to crouch just outside of arm’s reach, skin how tanned as his, the sparkling stars dimmed to something that could almost be mistaken for droplets of water on her arms. He frowned at the way she rubbed at her hands, silently scrubbing as if to make the stars go away.

“Got an apple,” Ben said as he pulled it from his pocket. “Not fresh but it’s food. Want some?”

Her eyes went wide, hands stilling for a moment. She shook her head ‘no’, then nodded ever so slightly, then shook ‘no’ again while sucking on her bottom lip. Ben chuckled and carved a slice off the apple, slowly munching on the grainy sweetness. His bit had a little bruise but it was still good, not rotten. He cut a second one, set it down on the step as far as he could reach without leaning closer to her. It was close enough to her that she could grab it without getting in touching range.

Took Ben slowly eating another slice for the little girl to snatch up the apple slice. She ate it quick and messy, shoving it in her mouth and chewing loudly. Every bite made her wince a little as if her teeth hurt. As bruised as her head looked Ben could easily believe that she had loose teeth. He cut more slices, feeding her three quarters of the apple. She gnawed on the core, too, reducing it to little more than a scrap of white wrapped around the seeds with the stem bit dangling from it.

“Toss it in the heap,” Ben said when she paused. “It’ll make for nice healthy plants next year.”

She blinked and then carefully tucked the apple core into the compost heap, patting it into place with a firm little nod that made her sway and moan. Her skin shifted from brown like Ben’s to black as night and then back to a dusky olive that nearly matched the color of the compost, thick with new weeds and pine needles Ben had gathered a week ago.

“Good girl,” Ben said. “Got some work to do. You can stay and watch if you like.”

That earned him several rapid blinks and the pursed lips again, as if he’d said something completely incomprehensible. Ben groaned as he lifted the backpack full of silt, his knees popping like gunshots as he straightened up. The girl giggled and watched him, quiet and still, as he carefully transferred the precious silt into its new home in the bed where he’d plant squash, beans and corn later in the season.

Good rich soil should help the plants grow. He always had trouble with the corn, never got more than a handful of ears. The terraced beds weren’t wide enough for the corn to pollinate properly. Even with Ben carefully transferring pollen from stem to stem corn just didn’t thrive the way it should here. But he got enough and it served as living poles for the beans while the squash grew fast and fruitful underneath them. It worked well enough.

“That’s that,” Ben sighed once the last of the soil had been transferred and dug in. “Give it a couple of weeks and I’ll bring my starts up, plant ‘em and see what I get this year.”

The little girl had curled up close to the compost heat, leaning into the heat it threw off. Her skin was almost normal colored now, plain old brown with those tiny not-droplets dappling her bruised arms. Ben nodded to her as he closed up the backpack, carefully settling it on his back.

“Gonna go home now,” Ben said. “Welcome to follow along. My daughter’s not a bad cook. That husband of hers isn’t the best, lazy bum that he is, but you’re welcome. It’s my house, not his. Haven’t had any kids around since my daughter grew up. It’s kind of lonely.”

She shivered, sucking on her bottom lip while scrubbing at her arms again. Ben nodded. No surprise the poor thing was worried about her alterations bringing trouble. People could be stupid. Not like the child had chosen it, not at her age.

“My daughter has gills,” Ben said. He chuckled at her wide eyes going white-blue again. “Wife had webbing between her fingers. She was a diver, used to swim right down under the ocean to catch us fish. Shark caught her about eight years ago. That’s life. Even the boy’s modded, jacked into the electronics the rich folk use.”

The girl pointed at Ben, one little finger circling as if to hesitantly, shyly, ask what Ben’s mods were.

“Don’t have any,” Ben sighed. “Never could do it. Didn’t have the money. Didn’t have the time. Too busy growing food and making things for my family. I’m just me. Old man with worn out joints and a garden to tend.”

He got a dozen rapid-fire blinks back as she sucked on her bottom lip. Ben chuckled, sighed at the long walk home and then shrugged. She stared up at him, skin sliding back to the black-night-with-stars that she’d had when he first saw her.

“Welcome to follow if you want,” Ben said. “Or not. Your choice, baby.”

Ben set off down the stairs, cautiously easing down them sideways, good left foot going first each time. He was a decade past taking them one after the other. He was on step nineteen when the little girl scrambled down the top step to follow him.
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No Worldbuilding Wednesday today

Sorry, guys! There’s a big audit at work and I’m one of the official escorts so I just haven’t had time (or energy) to get something ready for today. I’ll do my best to have something up next week. Though I’ve got a con next Friday and another con the next weekend after that so… yeah. May be a little scattered for the next couple of weeks.

Hope your life, writing and everything is going well!

*dashes off to work*

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Novel Monday: The Nature of Beasts Chapter 4

The Nature of Beasts POD Ebook Cover 12

Description:

In a world that took a different path, Kaleb Macintyre, a former Master, returned home after years away. All he wanted was a quiet life but encountering Nenne changed everything. Both of them bore scars from their pasts. As their relationship grew and they healed, Kaleb wondered if he could have more with Nenne or if his basic nature prevented him from ever finding happiness in Nenne’s arms.

The Nature of Beasts is a sweet romance focusing on consent, knowledge and growing together over time.

Warning / Themes: This novel addresses themes of abuse and recovery, BDSM and gay romance in a dystopian world. Please read with caution if you have any issues with these themes.

The Nature of Beasts

By Meyari McFarland

4. Exploring

‘I really wish I knew if this was a good idea,’ Nenne thought as he drove his little motor scooter to the place where he was supposed to meet Kaleb’s friend Master Jack.

The scooter was ridiculously tiny but it allowed Nenne to get to places that he wouldn’t have been able to reach on foot, by subway or by bus. Kaleb had been quite insistent that Nenne needed to have better transportation once he started culinary school so Nenne had gone along with it. He was glad that he had the scooter now. It really was nice to be able to run out and get groceries or clothes or run other errands without having to plan his time around the subway and bus schedules. Plus it cost less even with the licensing fees.

Still, it felt like taking a step away from Kaleb that Nenne wasn’t sure he was ready for. He knew that Kaleb didn’t want another slave. The last few months had shown Nenne more and more just how good Kaleb was at being a Dom and a Master. Whenever Nenne was upset over his past with his parents or Grant, Kaleb knew not only what to say but also how to calm Nenne down. Any question that Nenne had about life, work or BDSM was easily answered by asking Kaleb.

Sure, Kaleb always kept himself a little apart, encouraging Nenne without giving him the orders that Nenne wanted so badly. And yes, Kaleb sometimes had a wistful expression in his eyes when he talked about Todd, his last sub, but he would never give any details of what had gone wrong between them.

Nenne still wasn’t sure if it was something with Todd or with Kaleb or if it had just been personality conflicts between the two of them that blew up to the point they couldn’t stand each other. Kaleb never explained. All Kaleb ever said when Nenne dared to ask about it was that he couldn’t imagine anything that would ever make him take on another submissive.

It would have been believable except for the way Kaleb ordered everyone around and just expected their instant obedience. Kaleb lived as a Master even if he claimed that he wasn’t one. Honestly, Nenne would have been perfectly happy to spend the rest of his life living at the edges of Kaleb’s life but that didn’t seem to be possible with Kaleb’s insistence that he wouldn’t take anyone else on again.

“That must be Master Jack,” Nenne murmured as he peered through the gates to the large house where the party was being held.

Master Jack was taller than Kaleb, at least ten years younger and somewhat more stern. His suit was the sort of thing that Nenne had only seen in advertisements, sleek and perfectly tailored to fit his lean body. He smiled as Nenne carefully drove through the gates, showing his invitation to the guards there, and then parked off to the side of the many expensive cars. The walls around the grounds were high enough to deter casual attacks but not so high that Nenne felt safe out front. Master Jack appeared to be comfortable waiting for him on the walkway but his bodyguard didn’t look very happy about it.
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Now Available: Threads of Birthing!

POD Threads of Birthing Ebook Cover 08
Description:
It was one of the most frustrating things in Marjory’s life. Her best friend Emily was pregnant again after years of miscarriages but she wouldn’t, couldn’t, accept any of Marjory’s charms to help her safely bear her child. Political forces from outside of their little village threatened not just Marjory’s livelihood but also Emily and her baby’s lives. Marjory hoped that she could find a solution before Emily lost yet another baby.

Threads of Birthing is a fantasy story of family, politics and finding a path that protects everyone you care about in dire circumstances.

Find This Story:

On Amazon $2.99 ebook or $5.99 TPB
On Smashwords $2.99 ebook (Enter ES38C to get this story 50% off until 3/21/15!)
On CreateSpace $5.99 5″ x 8″ TPB

You have no idea how glad I am to get this story out! :D

I wrote it over a year ago and due to issues with my publishing contract couldn’t release it. But now it’s out and I even have a cover design that I like and will use for the other Tindiere books. Plus I have a second Tindiere novel coming out next week! *cheers wildly*

It feels so good to be moving on this ‘verse again. I hope you enjoy it if you choose to read!

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Free Fiction Friday: Jam Crisis

Have a blast from the past this week–Jam Crisis is one that I originally wrote years ago, rewrote for publication and now I’ve given it a new cover and blurb. The old one was not so good, sadly. Hope that you enjoy!

POD Jam Crisis Ebook Cover 09
Description:
The wrong choice spelled doom. Dustin tries his best to please his new Master. After being sold Dustin had expected more beatings and rape. That was what he’d come to expect as a slave. But Master Augustin was totally different from Master Reyes. Instead of rape and abuse he got gentle care and good food. Then an impossible task changed his understanding of everything he’d ever known.

Jam Crisis is a quiet exploration of the damage mental illness causes, especially when total control over another person’s life is not only legal but accepted.

Please note that this story includes themes of child abuse, children coping with adult caregiver mental illnesses and alcoholism, past persistent physical, sexual and mental abuse leading to PTSD and recovery from abuse. If those are issues for you then please read carefully.

Jam Crisis

By Meyari McFarland

The rustle of the newspaper being pulled open, folded back and then folded again made a shiver of apprehension skitter up Dustin’s spine. His heart beat harder, anticipating a shout, an angry comment on the next news article, Master Augustin’s coffee mug flying across the room to crash into the far wall. Dustin bit down on his lip, the pain helping control his rapid breathing.

Breathing too fast and too hard might draw attention. Dustin didn’t want attention. Attention was bad. Breathing slowly and evenly was good. Being calm was good. The most important thing he had to do was be calm, quiet and unobserved. It was just so hard to stay calm during Master Augustin’s unfailing morning ritual of coffee (two sugars, no cream), newspaper and toast with jam.

He’d been Master Augustin’s slave for almost two months now. Even with all that time Dustin had no idea what to make of the man. Certainly, physically Master Augustin was exactly what a Master was supposed to be. He was tall, powerfully built with a carefully maintained physique. His graying hair was kept so closely cropped that Dustin wasn’t sure if it had originally been sandy blond or ginger red. Every suit that Dustin had seen Master Augustin wear had been perfectly tailored down to exquisite hand top stitching and a little pleat in the back that let him move more freely.

But he didn’t act like the Masters Dustin had known and it confused Dustin terribly. There were no beatings that he didn’t deserve and couldn’t easily bear. Dustin had his own bed, granted a small slave bed with a thin pad and minimal blankets, but it was his and his alone. Master Augustin made sure that Dustin had so much food that he was gaining weight for the first time since he went into the debt slavery program to save his parents from their debts six years ago, not that he’d been very stocky before that.

Most worryingly, his responsibilities were so clearly defined that Dustin didn’t need to fear being trapped in mistakes that would lead to punishments.

It confused Dustin. Where were the shouts? The sudden blows? Master Augustin never laughed until he cried. He didn’t sing when he was happy. There hadn’t been one black mood yet, which was utterly bizarre. His master never even raised his voice to Dustin or anyone else.
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Worldbuilding Wednesday #85: Pants

Welcome back to another Worldbuilding Wednesday! And it’s actually got worldbuilding in it this week! *cheers* Specifically on clothing, pants, and how it can be / is gendered.
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Novel Monday: The Nature of Beasts Chapter 3

The Nature of Beasts POD Ebook Cover 12

Description:

In a world that took a different path, Kaleb Macintyre, a former Master, returned home after years away. All he wanted was a quiet life but encountering Nenne changed everything. Both of them bore scars from their pasts. As their relationship grew and they healed, Kaleb wondered if he could have more with Nenne or if his basic nature prevented him from ever finding happiness in Nenne’s arms.

The Nature of Beasts is a sweet romance focusing on consent, knowledge and growing together over time.

Warning / Themes: This novel addresses themes of abuse and recovery, BDSM and gay romance in a dystopian world. Please read with caution if you have any issues with these themes.

The Nature of Beasts

By Meyari McFarland

3. Giving Guidance

“Grant was arrested,” Nenne said three days later as he stood in Kaleb’s door with The Slave’s Path clutched to his chest. “He’s… he’s been denied bail. One of his friends told me that he’s probably going to be sold as a slave.”

His face was far too pale and his eyes far too wide. Kaleb could see how Nenne shook standing there. It wasn’t the same shakes as when Kaleb had rescued him several days ago but the shock was apparently just as bad. Kaleb had intended to go out and get some groceries but he stood aside, gesturing to Nenne.

“Come in,” Kaleb said as comfortingly as he could, not that he expected it to get through to Nenne right now.

Nenne settled onto the sofa with a whimper that tried to masquerade as a tired sigh. His lost expression made Kaleb’s heart hurt for Nenne despite the fact that it was Kaleb’s tip that had gotten Grant arrested. It had been remarkably easy to get the abusive Dom put away.

He was wanted for fraud, assault and a variety of debts he’d incurred under stolen identities. There was little likelihood that Grant would ever be free again. Kaleb was fairly certain that he’d die either in prison or as a true slave, depending on whether the prosecutor emphasized the assaults or the identity theft and fraud.

Still, that left Nenne alone and Kaleb knew that it was his fault even if Nenne didn’t. Kaleb felt responsible for helping Nenne get on his feet now that he was free. He patted Nenne’s shoulder before sitting on the couch next to him. Nenne passed The Slave’s Path back to Kaleb, his fingers lingering on the cover of the book for a couple of seconds.

“It was good,” Nenne said, not meeting Kaleb’s eyes. “I never knew any of that.”

“What in particular was new?” Kaleb asked as he set the book beside him on the couch.

“I didn’t know that slaves, consensual slaves, I mean, I didn’t know that they were supposed to speak up for themselves,” Nenne admitted. His fingers tugged on the too-large lock as he if he wanted it off but was afraid to ask. “I always thought that the whole point was that you didn’t have opinions and you weren’t supposed to ever object.”

“It’s a common misconception,” Kaleb said, nodding. He smiled as the movement finally prompted Nenne to meet his eyes. “I can’t tell you how many people in the lifestyle, both Dom and sub, think that it’s accurate. What else?”

Nenne tugged at the lock again, more firmly this time. As he did it the heavy leather of his collar cut into his skin. It wasn’t enough to break the skin but Kaleb could see how red Nenne’s neck was underneath it. The thing truly was too tight and the lock was too large for it to be comfortable. For the first time it looked like Nenne was aware of the problems with his collar.

“This isn’t right,” Nenne said, frowning as he played with the lock. “It’s not supposed to be something that I can never remove. It’s supposed to be something that both people agree to and that the sub can get out of at any time if he needs to.”

“Quite so,” Kaleb said. “It’s also not supposed to be that tight.”

“Grant said that I had to earn a bigger one,” Nenne admitted with a far more violent jerk against the collar. “He was lying, wasn’t he? Everything he claimed was a lie. He wasn’t a real Master. He didn’t know anything about how this,” he waved at Kaleb’s apartment as if it was one of the big sex clubs across town, “is supposed to work.”
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