Novel Monday: A New Path – Chapter 4

POD A New Path Ebook Cover 09


After Shizuka’s father suffered a terrible accident, she took on the challenge of apprenticing to the nobility of Ambermarle in the hopes of learning a new career that could cover for his medical care. Breding Manor surprised her with more than just career opportunities.

Two potential romances with the Lord’s oldest son Ammad and his willful daughter Nabeela promised a new path that Shizuka could never have imagined.

A New Path is a sweet romance where second chances lead to something wonderful for everyone involved.

A New Path

By Meyari McFarland

4. Service

Shizuka did her very best to ignore Ammad’s awkward attention as she took the last two blankets over to two apprentices that belonged with Duke Laughing Seal. She was intensely grateful for something to do. In her entire life she’d never even seen someone as powerful as the Duke and Duchess. Her little village was far too out of the way for that sort of visit. Even their Lord only visited once every year or two.

The other apprentices were both male, a couple of years older than Shizuka and clearly native. They sat with their arms wrapped around one another in such a way that Shizuka was certain that they were lovers. The taller boy had curled up so that his back pressed against the shorter one’s chest. They both looked perfectly comfortable with the awkward position, fingers laced together on top of the taller one’s belly.

Neither had tattoos or any identification that would tell her what tribe they came from. Given that Duke Laughing Seal was Suquamish she would have thought that they were as well but she knew that their Majesties never settled apprentices with their own tribes. It worked better to move them around, send them places where they weren’t known, where there was no history that could trip them up.

That’s why Shizuka had ended up in Breding Manor. The boys must have had the same thing happen to them. She didn’t recognize either of them as she passed them the warm blankets but they smiled and nodded to her. All three of them started as the door opened and Nabeela carefully entered with a heavy tray loaded down with glasses and a steaming porcelain pot of spiced cider.

“We can help,” the taller boy murmured.

“Oh, no,” Shizuka murmured back, waving for them to stay seated. “It’s fine. I can take care of it. You get warm.”

Something to do was very welcome. Her knees kept shaking, as did her hands. Shizuka hurried over and took the tray from Nabeela who smiled so brightly in thanks that it made Shizuka’s knees knock together for a moment. Another new thing that she wasn’t prepared for; no one had ever flirted with her before. Her sisters had always been the ones to get attention from suitors, not Shizuka.

Shizuka made a point of treating the cider as ceremoniously as possible simply because ceremony helped calm her nerves. It was apparently a good choice. Nabeela hummed approvingly behind Shizuka’s back as she carefully filled glasses for the Duke and Duchess. Duke Laughing Seal’s lips twitched again as if another round of laughter was fighting to escape. Duchess Chin-Sun smiled and nodded so approvingly that Shizuka bowed as she extended the cup of cider.

“Spiced cider, Your Grace,” Shizuka said as she held the cup out, one hand supporting it, the other gripping it properly.
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Free Fiction Friday: Tiny Futures

POD Tiny Futures Ebook Cover 04


The solution to Leisl’s construction problem came wrapped in an opportunity.

When Cassidy came over to help Leisl install a tub in her new tiny house on wheels, Leisl expected nothing other than a functioning tub.

But Cassidy was huge, strong and adorable, all the things that Leisl most liked. The temptation to ask for more than construction help led Leisl to take a chance on the future.

Tiny Futures

By Meyari McFarland

Leisl frowned as she stared at the stack of wood, metal and assorted plumbing parts. Her brand new Japanese soaking tub was supposed to be the one indulgence of her house, deep enough for the water to come up to her chin, made of finely sanded wood that smelled like heaven. It was just lying there.

In pieces.

That Leisl had no idea how to put it together. She ran her fingers over the sturdy boards, satiny smooth and just waiting for her to make them into something wonderful. Leisl gnawed her lip until a bit of chapped skin came free. A second bite and blood bloomed in her mouth.

This was supposed to be easy. Everything she’d seen said that putting it together would be simple, a piece of cake. But the instructions meant absolutely nothing to her, not the pictures or the descriptions and come on! The wood wasn’t even cut to length.

Her tiny house echoed with the emptiness, even with the spray foam in and the tongue-and-groove up on the outer walls. Her kitchen and tiny living room were almost done, other than flooring, trim, getting the counter on and appliances in. The bathroom, though, that was a different problem. Leisl hadn’t even finished the stud walls there because she hadn’t gotten the tub in and now she couldn’t get the tub done.

Another thing that she’d thought she could handle but apparently couldn’t. Her tiny house on wheels had been the perfect solution to no money, school loans and no place to live. Get a trailer, build a tiny house, live in it instead of wasting what little money her day job brought in on rent.

Thankfully, Mom and Dad had helped her get one that was half done. She had a brand new trailer, just twenty feet long, eight feet wide. There was framing of an adorable little house, covered in cedar board and batten. The roof was metal and so solid that she’d never have to worry about leaks.

It was the inside that was the problem. Sure, Dad had helped her wire everything. He’d even gotten the plumbing roughed out. But putting in the rest was Leisl’s problem. Dad had work and Mom had never touched a power tool in her life. She could hear Mom banging around in the back yard, muttering as she pulled weeds and pruned the now-spent blueberry bushes so that they wouldn’t take over the world next year.

“I don’t think I can do this,” Leisl whispered.
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Novel Monday: A New Path – Chapter 3

POD A New Path Ebook Cover 09


After Shizuka’s father suffered a terrible accident, she took on the challenge of apprenticing to the nobility of Ambermarle in the hopes of learning a new career that could cover for his medical care. Breding Manor surprised her with more than just career opportunities.

Two potential romances with the Lord’s oldest son Ammad and his willful daughter Nabeela promised a new path that Shizuka could never have imagined.

A New Path is a sweet romance where second chances lead to something wonderful for everyone involved.

A New Path

By Meyari McFarland

3. Mourning

Ammad ran his hands over his face as he strode down the back hallway to the apprentice’s quarters, the faintest hints of stubble rasping against his palms as they slid over his chin and jawline. Not the image he wanted to present yet Ammad didn’t take the hallway that would take him back to his quarters to shave. Why bother? In a few hours it would be back, no matter how annoying he found the stubble.

He should have dressed better this morning. Honestly, he’d forgotten that their Majesties’ representative would be arriving today with their new apprentice in tow. Too many other things to think about, too many problems to be solved. The biggest of which was keeping Father from overexerting himself until his ribs and pneumonia had healed fully.

The hallway to the apprentice quarters was silent, empty. Bare walls and a plain blue rug added to the sense of cold emptiness. The suggestions Ammad had made as a preteen to add some personality to the hallway and the apprentice quarters came back as he frowned. No one should live in such barrenness. It was an insult to the apprentices to make them walk down such a bare hallway only to arrive in the blank, desolate room.

Nabeela had yet to emerge from the apprentice quarters with their beautiful new apprentice. That was a bit of a surprise. He’d thought that Nabeela hated the place as much as he did. She’d certainly been a lot more forceful about expressing her opinion of the place, even when Mother and Father had told them both that they were to stop discussing it. Ammad still didn’t believe that living in such a bleak place was ‘comforting’ for the apprentices. That was ridiculous. No one could find such a place home-like.

He shook the thought away as he approached the door to the apprentice quarters. Ammad couldn’t help but be happy that Shahzad wouldn’t be allowed to spend large amounts of time with their new apprentice. The girl was entirely too attractive for her own good, much less everyone else’s.

Her skin was luscious, as dark and rich as the wood floor’s polished gleam. That hair was stunning as well. He almost wondered whether she’d left it loose specifically to attempt seduction immediately but her response to Father’s illness made him suspect that it was something far more practical. Even the shapeless white apprentice garb given to an apprentice being delivered to their new household couldn’t hide how lovely her body was.

Ammad stumbled a little at the memory of her walking away, waterfall of black hair brushing over the full roundness of her rear end.
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Free Fiction Friday: The Return

POD The Return Ebook Cover 02



Maram had spent decades without seeing the stars slip into the Wave, since piloting a ship. She’d expected to die with her feet covered in dirt.

But then the ships came back and Maram realized that there were bigger threats than old age.

She had another chance at the stars. The question was whether she and her girls could survive long enough to return to Maram’s only true home.

The Return

By Meyari McFarland

Maram added a stick to the fire, poking the embers dim glimmer into something like a spark of life. Her back was cold despite Kirin pressing close, his long horns carefully angled away from Maram. Not as cold as she could be, bless the Mothers for that. Her camp sat close to the Hightown cliff, nestled into a little indent created when the ones Above had decided to try to mine the cliff for building stone.


The stone was too soft for that, crumbling under their fancy tools.

Sparks flared and floated upwards like ships rising towards orbit. None of those anymore. The ships were long gone. Come and gone like mist in the wind. It was part of why Maram was here, down Below when she’d once been accepted up in Hightown. Ancient history but it was hard to let it go on cold dark nights when her girls were off hunting and the skies filled with stars that she’d never touch again.

It’d been decades since she saw stars without the distortion of atmosphere, decades since she’d been in a ship, had ridden the Wave between stars. Nights like tonight Maram felt every single second of those too many years, felt them like blood pouring from a cut artery, like having her arm cut right off and left to bleed out on the floor.

Kirin snuffled, touching his nose to the nape of Maram’s neck. She chuckled and petted him. Nose still felt like the finest velvet even though his fur was going white with age. Just like her hair. It’d been black as the void of space once. Now it was a white so pure she looked as though she was going bald.

She tugged on her headscarf, grunting that it was still in place. Hated it when people saw her thin pale hair. Wrinkles weren’t a problem but you had to have some pride and Maram’s hair was that. Have to remember to check the supplies when the sun came up. They were low on several things and would need more soon, much as Maram hated the climb up the cliff to Hightown only to sneered at and charged too much as if she didn’t speak nine languages and hadn’t piloted ships between the stars when she was young.

Honestly, she missed it. There was a joy to riding the Wave, the faster than light drive that warped space around you, front and back so that you slipped past the bonds of time and distance. She’d been good at it. Only gave it up for love, a wife she adored, twin girls they’d doted on.

All long dead.

Kirin nibbled on her ear.

“I know, I know,” Maram huffed at him. Let him continue his nibbles, scratched under his chin until his eyes drifted shut in contentment. “Letting the ghosts of the past bite me. It’s hard without the girls around. Glad you stayed, old friend.”

Kirin hum-huffed, one eye opening lazily. Intelligence showed there, alien, silent, unspeaking, but intelligence nonetheless. She’d never managed to find a way to communicate with Kirin’s people. Most of them ignored humanity entirely, hunting the plains and traveling in their herds. She still didn’t know why Kirin had chosen to leave the herd, to travel at her side from the plains to Hightown and everywhere else but he seemed quite determined to be by her side until one or both of them dropped dead with age.

The thought, or maybe the frown, got her another, sharper, nibble. Maram laughed. One more stick and then she leaned back against Kirin’s side. She should sleep. If the girls were successful in their hunt there’d be work a-plenty on their return, carcasses to clean and quarter, meat to butcher, skins to scrape and stretch. Possibly even feathers to pluck, clean and sell for a premium up in the market. Even at her age, Maram helped. Wasn’t as though the girls had learned everything she knew. Not yet. Maybe in the next few years. Who knew? It’d be nice to teach them to fly between the stars but that wasn’t going to happen, no matter how much she dreamed of it.

When Maram opened her eyes, felt like a moment later but the sun was coming up so it’d been hours, the fire was cold and she heard the girls’ voices carrying across the plains. Angel’s high, sweet songs of thanks, prayers to the Mothers, came first. Then Nitya complaining that not every single kill needed to be prayed over despite the laughter from Carey and Desta’s booming objections to Nitya’s never-ending whine.

Kirin huffed, nosing Maram until she sat up, stood up, moved away from the cliff. Kept right on nosing her as if there was something much more important than fresh meat and a good meal after too many days of not much at all.

“What your old ears picking up?” Maram asked once she’d been driven a good ten yards from the cliff. “You hearing things I can’t?”

Kirin stamped his right forefoot, their single agreed upon sign for communication.

“Yes?” Maram asked, stunned. “Been years since you used that. You are hearing something.”

Kirin stared at her, blinked solemnly, and stamped his foot again.

Maram cursed as she patted wildly for her comm. Front hip, no, back hip, no. Breast? No! Finally found it buried in the bottom of her thigh pocket, left side, under twine and bits of string she’d been using for weaving ornamental spider webs for gullible Hightown children to buy. The palm-sized unit was cracked and patched, barely functional on the best of days and cranky if not handled exactly right.

“Hey Maram!” Angel called when she came round the tumbled boulders along the path. She stopped in her tracks when she saw Maram’s frantic fidgeting to get the comm working. “Wait, what’s wrong?”

“Don’t know yet,” Maram replied, attention focused on the comm. “Kirin hears something.”

That brought all the girls to her side, peering over Maram’s shoulder despite the bloody near-hares and ground-fowl tied to their hips. Not a one of them over eighteen but they were the best hunters Below had. Maram’d be proud of their hard work if she weren’t tight as a fresh-strung bow over Kirin’s warning.

Nothing, nothing and more nothing on the comm. After a moment she lifted her head and stared out over the plains because her ears finally picked up what Kirin had heard.

Engines. Not the local flyers, little things with props and rotors that carried one or two rich people here and there. No, these were the big engines, the ones that thrummed like an earthquake turned low, ones that floated in the air like a bit of seed fluff set loose from the pod. She looked up and up and up and there they were.

Solar sails spread wide to catch the light as they descended from vacuum into atmosphere. Even at this distance she could see they were armored sails, sort used for heavy assault vehicles. Heavy bases shaped not like the balls Maram remembered from passenger transports but long and narrow, a spade perhaps. A sword, they looked like swords and damn if that didn’t mean trouble for them all, trouble in the midst of the first hope she’d had in decades.

She heard a sob, realized a moment later that it was her crying.

“Maram?” Angel whispered. “Are those spaceships?”
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Novel Monday: A New Path – Chapter 2

POD A New Path Ebook Cover 09


After Shizuka’s father suffered a terrible accident, she took on the challenge of apprenticing to the nobility of Ambermarle in the hopes of learning a new career that could cover for his medical care. Breding Manor surprised her with more than just career opportunities.

Two potential romances with the Lord’s oldest son Ammad and his willful daughter Nabeela promised a new path that Shizuka could never have imagined.

A New Path is a sweet romance where second chances lead to something wonderful for everyone involved.

A New Path

By Meyari McFarland

2. Settling In

Nabeela led the way down the back hallway to the apprentice quarters, intensely aware of the swish of the girl’s gorgeous hair and the thwap of her cheap white slippers. They barely stayed on the girl’s feet, slipping off her heels with every step and forcing her to shuffle as she walked. She didn’t appear to mind it, though, as she hadn’t said a word about them.

Their new apprentice was short, with a sweet round faced, and the sort of gloriously smooth black hair that Nabeela had thought only existed in old fairy stories. Her entire childhood Nabeela had prayed to wake up to sleek hair as back as night and a round face like the moon. If only her hair was half that smooth and straight, Nabeela was sure that she’d get far less scolding looks when she went about her daily work, even though Nabeela would never be as demure and ladylike as their new apprentice.

She had the sort of gravity that went with a serious, thoughtful mind and a level of dignity, despite her blank white clothes and too-loose shoes, that made Nabeela certain that her noble relative had to be someone truly powerful, a Duke or Princess of the royal line. Add that to her stunning looks and Nabeela was certain that her name had to be some variant of ‘beauty’. Piyari certainly seemed to fit.

It was strange leading the way to the apprentices’ quarters. Of course Nabeela knew where it was, dead in the center of the house where the apprentices would be safe from intruders, free to relax when they weren’t actively working on their duties. The only place safer in the whole house was her family’s private quarters and that was just up another hallway. Father had never allowed Nabeela much access to their apprentices… before.
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Free Fiction Friday: Delicate Introduction

POD Delicate Introductions Ebook Cover 02


The six days between new and old year in Aingeal were a time of feasting and family.

Gwen was more than happy to feast. She’d rather spend less time helping her brother Cadfael shop instead of eating.

Until Tierney Nolan walked in and stole her heart.

Unfortunately, Gwen had no hope of more, not when Nolan’s family had nothing to offer the Dana and every reason to want her to go away.

Delicate Introduction

By Meyari McFarland

Gwen held the door for Cadfael, sighing as her persnickety little brother immediately curled his lip at the smell of spices and meat flooded over them. A wave of warm air billowed around them, steaming in the frosty air outside. Sweat beaded Gwen’s forehead. Caddie sighed as if the heat was wonderful. He tugged his carefully embroidered shawl higher on his shoulders before stepping into the shop, two-yard wide kilts clutched close to his hips so that they wouldn’t brush against anything.

The meat shop was packed, no surprise given that there was just one clerk behind the counter, a young man about Gwen’s age. Overhead, the rafters were draped with cured sausages that dangled temptingly. Too high for either Gwen or Caddie to reach but not impossible for a tall woman. Gwen barely glanced up at them. She’d need a ladder to reach them.

Last time she’d been by the shop, owned by a friend of the family who’d known Great-Grandmother Anwyn before she’d given up piracy and turned respectable, the counters had been arranged in a line across the far end of the big room. You had to ask to see anything behind the heavy wooden counter which always meant long lines and higher prices as people bid against you to get your cut.

Since then they’d rearranged, creating a U so that people could see the meat, fresh, cured, ground, sliced, arranged under expensive glass in frames to protect it. Arranged on leafy beds of cabbage, the meat looked delectable even to Gwen. She had no idea how good any of it was. Cooking had never been a skill Gwen learned. She only ate food, not prepared it.

The midwinter meals held on the six days that had no year were always feasts. Tomorrow’s dinner was traditionally the one where people cooked sausages and potatoes with creamy cornmeal mush seasoned by either sweet or savory spices. Gwen had already, carefully, mildly, suggested that they use savory spices. She’d gotten flat stares from Father, Caddie and even little nine year old Andros. Honestly, that was probably why she’d been detailed to escort Caddie on his shopping trip, to remind her to keep her nose out of the kitchen.

Between the new counters and the door was a small hoard of men in voluminous kilts and lacy shawls, all of them shopping for the holiday meal with a sister, aunt or their mother in tow. Most of their kilts were much smaller than Caddie’s, only a yard or so across at the base. Not a surprise. Caddie’s love of fashion pushed him to wear things that most men considered beautiful but impossible to bear.

A fair number of the men took one look at Caddie’s lace-bedecked kilt and clutched their kilts to keep from brushing up against him. Those who didn’t backed away from the counters so that Caddie had a clear look at what was for sale. Which was probably why Caddie had been sent to purchase their meat. He always impressed people, if not with his excessively fussy clothes then with the sharp edge of his tongue.

“You know what we’re supposed to get?” Gwen asked. She carefully kept her toes out of reach of the lace on the hem of Caddie’s kilt. The last thing she wanted was for Caddie to get boot marks on the lace. He had an uncanny ability to tell whose boot had done the deed.

“Didn’t you listen?” Caddie snapped. His glare could have stripped tar off their family’s ship hulls.

“No,” Gwen admitted. She grinned straight into his glare, rocking on her toes simply because she knew that it would make him huff at her. “I’m only here to open doors and carry things. As I was told.”

Caddie didn’t huff. He rolled his eyes and then waited, not at all patiently, as a pretty young clerk with freckle dusted skin and deep blue eyes nicely complimented by the simple white shop cap covering his white-blond hair finished one customer and then turned to smile brightly at him. If the smile was a bit brittle and his hands trembled, well, sterner people than him had quailed facing down Dana Cadfael in his full finery.
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Novel Monday: A New Path

Sorry for missing last week and almost missing this week, too, everyone. I had these programmed in advance and didn’t realize that I’d run out of posts. We’re starting a new book now and I hope you all enjoy it!

POD A New Path Ebook Cover 09


After Shizuka’s father suffered a terrible accident, she took on the challenge of apprenticing to the nobility of Ambermarle in the hopes of learning a new career that could cover for his medical care. Breding Manor surprised her with more than just career opportunities.

Two potential romances with the Lord’s oldest son Ammad and his willful daughter Nabeela promised a new path that Shizuka could never have imagined.

A New Path is a sweet romance where second chances lead to something wonderful for everyone involved.

A New Path

By Meyari McFarland

1. Accepted

Shizuka smoothed her rough white cotton kameez over her thighs, hands shaking. A tug at the hem did nothing to make it longer. No matter what she did it barely covered her knees. The baggy white cotton pants underneath the kameez didn’t help her feel less exposed. Sagging in the back, too tight in the crotch, shapeless and as unadorned as her too-thin kameez, they revealed Shizuka’s status to anyone who happened to glance in her direction.

There was no one else there other than the silent, looming representative of their Majesties, King and Queen of Ambermarle. Shizuka hadn’t been introduced to him. Neither of them knew each other’s names. The tradition protected both the representative and Shizuka from questions of propriety as well as unfortunate accusations, not that was any cause for that. He had been perfectly respectful, polite, distant and protective the entire time they traveled together, serving as a shield between Shizuka and the rest of the world just as he was supposed to.

She glanced at the dark black wool of his baji, the trim pants Korean men wore as trousers. His jeogori jacket was calf-length, sober steel gray and heavily lined against the chill of traveling. Shizuka tugged at her kameez again, futilely wishing for proper mompe. A kimono would be better, warmer, especially with hakama overtop.

Her plain white kameez was blazingly bright against the beautiful blues of the sitting room. Lush blue brocade woven in geometric patterns covered the wide bench arranged around the wall of the room. Paler blue blankets sat at the read, flanked by fluffy pillows embroidered in all the colors of the rainbow. Shizuka had been given a soft blue velvet cushion to kneel on, placed comfortably close to the fire that snapped and crackled as the wind wailed in the chimney flue. The warmth was welcome after the blustery rain that had blown in off the sound as they arrived at Breding Manor.

The rain drops on her lips tasted of cedar and old moss, legacy of the looming trees that surrounded the road to Breding Manor. Hours on the road had left Shizuka chilled to the bone. Their poor horses had to be even colder after slogging through lake-like puddles bordered by ferns, struggling against the soupy mud that had transformed the roads from a wonder of the world into rutted tracks. It had been such a relief to see the wide windows and looming bulk of Breding Manor despite Shizuka’s nervousness about her future.

Clad in white like a bride’s kimono, ready to be ‘dyed’ to match the family she’d been assigned to, Shizuka was ready to take on the Lord of Breding’s colors along with the customs of his household. She fussed with the hem of her kameez as the shivers crept up her arms to scamper down her back. Would he accept her? If he didn’t then Shizuka would have to be trained further, spend more time waiting and hoping for a new path that would let her save her family.

There was no point in complaining, though. If Lord Breding didn’t accept her as an apprentice than their Majesties’ representative would escort Shizuka to another manor where she would try again. Hopefully that wouldn’t be necessary. Hopefully the Lord of Breding would approve and give her an apprentice’s uniform in the royal blue of Breding Manor. Anything would be better than plain white.

Voices echoed up the wide hallway outside the sitting room. Shizuka sat taller, pushing her waist-length black hair behind her back. This could be the Lord of Breding. Maybe. Their Majesties had warned Shizuka that he might not actually meet her personally. It could be either of the lord’s sons or his daughter instead.

“Ammad, do calm down,” a deep man’s voice said outside the door. “I’m fine.”

“No, you’re not,” Ammad replied as the door opened. “You shouldn’t be up, Father. The doctor made it perfectly clear that you’re not strong enough to return to your duties.”
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Free Fiction Friday: Mods

POD Mods Ebook Cover 08

Bot smasher Nakato dedicated her life to taking the broken tech other people had abandoned and turning it into robots designs that the world had never seen. Only two things drew her from her home high in the Web: her best friend Rafah and commissions for customers she liked.

Those two things drew Nakato out of her comfortable rut when a commission for prosthetic arms for the orca War Tooth revealed just how much she had left to learn at the same time that Rafah fell into an abusive relationship that threatened her very life.

Mods is a thrilling cyberpunk story set in the Mouse and Snake universe that’s sure to excite.


By Meyari McFarland

1. Customer

Nakato stretched, her spine popping. Her nest was quiet. Better be given how much she’d paid to soundproof the spherical walls when she added on her workshop. Thick white sheets of insulation hung between radiating struts that supported the nest’s shell. Her tiny living area wasn’t half as quiet or secure, only having a fiberglass shell instead of synth and the lightest of insulation between shell and struts. Didn’t really need to be ‘perfect’ for Nakato. After all, it was just a place to sleep and keep Nakato’s meager supply of clothes, food and overflow tools.

It was her workshop that counted. She smiled as she looked around, working her shoulders and shaking her wrists to get rid of some of the ache from hours of close work. Thirty feet diameter, solidest walls possible, insulated perfectly; Nakato’s workshop was a top of the line nest suited for a family of six. It was perfect. The anchors she’d had installed to hold it in place were best on the market, too, and she’d had the place wired with the best computer system there was.

Nakato would live in here if it wouldn’t displace her tools and supplies. Shelves curved around the walls from floor to ceiling, secured between the heavy struts supporting the spherical shell. Each shelf held carefully secured boxes of parts, tools and completed sample bots she’d made for testing purposes. The only place that was open was the floor that dropped open so that Nakato could lower her bigger bots down when it was time for delivery. Wasn’t sure how that’d work when it was time to test her new orca-bot but Nakato’d figure out when it was time.

At this time of day, hours before dawn on a day that promised to be blustery early and clear later on in the afternoon, there wasn’t another person around outside. Or inside. She didn’t let many people into her workshop which might explain the persistent smell of sweat, grease and fried electronics. Every time Rafah came over her nose wrinkled as if she couldn’t stand the stink.

“Shows what she knows,” Nakato muttered as she slid backwards along the gentle curve of the nest’s floor towards the drain. It took her out of the slowly forming orca-bot’s shell. “Her place always stinks of pollen and wet soil.”

Her back cracked again as Nakato rolled to her feet. There was nothing worse than kneeling inside of a bot as she hooked up its nervous system. Always made her wish for that beautiful lab on the mainland that the big multinational corps tempted her with. Solid ground, no nest shifting in the wind, enough support structure that she could build her dream horse-bot and then enough room that she could ride it as it tested its functions out. She snorted and grinned, tasting dripped lubricating oil on her lips.

“Keep dreaming, girl,” Nakato said, amused.

It wasn’t going to happen. Maybe for Rafah, not that she’d ever leave her cozy little nest perched high in the upper levels of the Web amidst the grapevine and blackberry brambles. Rafah was small and sweet, cute in her sometimes-worn, sometimes-not, hijab. Nakato was never going to be anything other than a big bot-smashing black girl to the land-dwellers, no matter how many awards she won for her AI work.

“That’s fine,” Nakato murmured as she took her welding glasses off and shoved them into her hair without regard for whether they had oil on them or not. “Rather bash my bots out here and do people some good than be a corporate slave creating war-bots to be destroyed.”

*You always talk to yourself?*

Nakato jerked as she whirled towards the still-sealed door. No one was there. The seal around the door, the security system that Rafah’s mother had helped Nakato design, was still green all the way around. She frowned. No one could have gotten past her security system so what the hell?
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Novel Monday: Coming Together – Chapter 25 (The End!)

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The last thing Mari expected when she and her sisters arrived in Aingeal City with a load of trade goods was to land squarely in the middle of a marriage alliance. But that was the only way to save her clan and the Dana clan from the Delbhana plot that threatened not just them, but the entire world.

Mixing fantasy with romance, author Meyari McFarland expertly crafts a sweet romance that defies categories and instantly charms.

Coming Together

By Meyari McFarland

25. Finding Home

Mari smiled as Gavin muttered something as he fell asleep on her shoulder. Her legs were going numb already but that wasn’t that much of a problem. As soon as he started snoring Mari shifted so that he rested between her legs instead of on top of her. His hair smelled of plain soap and fragrant oil, maybe one of the wood ones from Idoya. She couldn’t be sure, not that it mattered. What mattered was keeping his arm still while the plaster heated and dried, safely encasing his arm so that it would heal.

“You sure about this?” Laoise asked as she helped the doctor wash the plaster off her hands. “You don’t have to marry him if you’re not serious about it. Seemed pretty clear that you enjoyed the open road too much to settle down.”

“I do,” Mari sighed. “Truly do. But I think he’s worth it. Gonna hate stayin’ in one place all the time, though.”

Laoise snorted. “As if you would. I’ll probably ship you out as soon as I can. It’s always good to have new eyes on trading missions, even if you’re not trained for trade in other countries. You’re still a trader, born and bred. I’m sure you’d be a credit on the sea just as you are on the roads in Aingeal.”

Mari blinked at her, shocked, slowly grinning when she realized that Laoise was serious. “That’d work. Never been on a ship before bu’ I’m sure I can learn. Give me a hammock to sleep in an’ I’ll be fine. Still not fond of Aingeal City, though. Too big an’ complicated. Never have been any good at findin’ my way ’round this city though I suppose I’ll learn it now. This building is even worse, y’know. I’ve seen mazes that’re easier to get ’round than your Clan house.”

“There’s a trick to it,” the doctor said, grinning when Mari perked up and nodded to her to explain. “You can track where you are by how gray the walls are and how they’re finished. The oldest living areas are over the warehouse entrance that faces the port. The newest areas are overhead here. Second floor will have shingles on the walls. Third floor is all plaster but the types of plaster differ depending on which quadrant of the house you’re in. And the stairs are easy to figure out. You’ll find stairs anytime you follow two right turns in a row though they might be tucked into an alcove or ladders instead of proper stairs.”

“Warehouse itself is easy,” Laoise agreed even though her lips were twitching as if she thought that the doctor’s explanation was wildly unnecessary. “Everything’s labeled. Offices and dorm can be a bit confusing but they’re all in one small area. You can’t get too lost in there.”

Mari nodded slowly as she thought about the various places she’d seen. When they’d gone to talk to Jarmon the walls had been gray, dingy and dark from the passage of time. The walls near to the suite she shared with her sister were plastered with a different finish than the ones close to Gavin’s suite. Maybe it wasn’t as impossible to navigate through the Clan house as she’d thought.

Gavin grumbled under his breath, shifting until his forehead rested against Mari’s neck. She grinned, heart slipping a beat from sheer joy. This tiny, fierce man could be her husband, always assuming Ma and Laoise agreed to it. But they would. She knew they would. How could they not?

Holding Gavin made Mari’s heart sing the same way riding a cart down the open road did. She felt like she was topping the long steep rise that led into the valley where her family lived every time he looked at her. The glimpses she’d gotten of his legs, the feel of his body against hers, promised more than her hammock between the carts or her bed back home.

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Now Available: Collected Debts and Assumptions of Debt!

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A world twisted by debt, tortured by terrorism: Meyari McFarland explores how debt and slavery intertwine in the best and worst ways in this collection of thirteen short stories and novellas.

Explore BDSM, romance, and adventure in:

Feast of the Senses
Jam Crisis
New Boy
Unrepentant Bastard
Controlled Edge
Silken Embrace
Sound of Obedience
Crack of Doom
Three Sisters
Taste of Joy
Be With Me

Find This Collection:

On Kobo $6.99 ebooks
On Smashwords $6.99 ebook
On Amazon $6.99 ebook or $19.99 TPB
On CreateSpace $19.99 TPB

POD Assumptions of Debt Ebook Cover 05
A new master only meant more abuse as Tommy paid off his debt. Master John Boles was different.

Even as Tommy’s past came back, full of torture and fear, Boles kept Tommy safe.

Better still, he wasn’t alone anymore. With Jay at his side, Tommy finally had a chance at revenge and freedom.

But only if his past didn’t steal him away and kill him first.

Find This Story:

On Kobo $5.99 ebook
On Smashwords $5.99 ebook
On Amazon $5.99 ebook or $12.99 TPB
On CreateSpace $12.99 TPB

Yay! I got the posts up! Two new books in the Debts to Recover ‘verse at last. I’ve got sequels planned for Assumptions, FYI, so look for those in the next year or so. Hope you enjoy if you choose to read!

Posted in Debts to Recover, LGBT Issues, MDR Publishing, Rambling, Self Publishing, Writing Thoughts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment