Free Fiction Friday: Orange Thief

POD Orange Thief Ebook Cover 02

Description:

A shriek from the back yard usually was bad news. Not this time.

Instead of her neighbors stealing oranges, Garnet found a beautiful girl stuck in the highest branches of her tree.

Getting her down set off a chain of coincidences that were anything but as Garnet and her orange thief found themselves drawn together by ancient magic more powerful than the biggest coven on the west coast.

Orange Thief

By Meyari McFarland

Something shrieked outside.

Garnet froze, one hand on the cutting board, the other on her chef’s knife. The onion sat between her hands, rocking gently side to side. Her little kitchen was silent for a moment, stew pot sizzling with chunks of beef and sliced mushrooms covered with the first onion she’d diced. The tomatoes had already been chopped, as had her green chilies and three nice fat jalapeños to up the heat.

She turned and stared out the back window towards her orange tree. It better not be those neighbor twins stealing her oranges again. Every single time they started getting ripe the twins snuck over her fence and stole the good ones before Garnet could get a single one.

Something rustled in the treetop. Garnet heard cursing and a yelp of pain. She glared, slapped the knife down and then jerked the sash on her red-checked gingham apron, the one that matched her most comfortable apron tichel with the absurdly delicate lace on the straps. Damn those kids! It’d be one thing if they stole the oranges to eat but no, they used them in their duct tape and plumbing supply potato cannon. Instead of actual potatoes because apparently ripe oranges made a better ‘splat’.

“Get out of my tree, you brats!” Garnet shouted as she threw open the back screen door. “I told you I’d call the cops on you and I will!”

“Ah, help?”

Instead of teenage boy hooting laughter and the scramble of running feet, Garnet got a woman’s voice. She carefully walked closer, spotting woman in frilly layers of lace and linen with a tumble of beautiful natural black afro draped over one of the top branches. Her skin was as dark as the bark of the orange tree, all except her cheeks which were bright red.

“Oh-kay,” Garnet said. “Let me get my stew off the burner and then I’ll be right out with a ladder. How the heck did you end up way up there?”

“Don’t ask,” the woman groaned.

She sagged over the branch like a cat picked up in the middle who wanted to stay in their spot of sunshine. Garnet blinked, turned around and hurried back into the kitchen to get the stew safely off the stove. It could wait. Had to.
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Novel Monday: Coming Together – Chapter 17

POD Coming Together Ebook Cover 05
Description:
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

17. Restaurant

Mari stood in the door of Gavin’s restaurant, staring. When he’d said small she’d expected a handful of tables, maybe a narrow hallway that she’d have to turn sideways to walk down. This wasn’t small. This was tiny, miniscule, a closet turned into something glorious. She reached out and her palms touched either red brick wall.

Overhead, the roof was bare timbers decorated with hanging bundles of herbs. The left side of the room had the narrowest, skinniest kitchen she’d ever seen with a tiny stove, black with soot, a sink piled high with bowls and plates and bare plank shelves piled with pots and pans, bowls and sturdy red clay mugs, climbing the wall right up to the rafters overhead.

A long counter, raw, unfinished wood a good four inches thick, stretched from the back wall to a bare yard from the door. Stools tucked under the counter, giving guests places to sit. Laughter burbled when Mari realized that there was a foot rail made of a long twisted branch of iron wood bolted to the base of the counter.

And the smells! Mari breathed deep, eyes sliding half shut as pepper, clove and slow-roasted beef filled her nose. It smelled like home, like Pa had decided to go all out for dinner, like one of the big festivals in the fall where everyone up and down the street had gathered every bit of food they had to share while people danced and sang in the square.

“Not gonna fall down if you let go,” the thin cook, tall as a woman in kilts without a single petticoat like a little boy’s, behind the counter laughed.

“Nope,” Mari said, opening her eyes to grin at him and Gavin, already perched on a stool near the back of the restaurant. “But I might. Damn, it’s like walking into my Pa’s kitchen back home.”

The cook grinned. “Well then, sit down and I’ll serve you up some food. Always glad to have someone excited about my cooking.”

He raised an eyebrow at Gavin who grinned and ducked his head as if that’d keep the cook from seeing it. Mari settled next to Gavin, her toes easily touching the floor while Gavin tucked his feet up on the foot rail, ankles crossed demurely. She couldn’t tell exactly what the cook had planned but Mari didn’t think she really cared. Everything smelled good. Right now she was more than ready for food that wasn’t boiled until it was water and pale bland scraps floating in seaweed.

“Have you been getting much business, Scully?” Gavin asked the cook.

“Not so much,” Scully replied, shrugging. “Not a surprise what with this cold going through the area. Seems like everyone’s been hit. Only got a quarter my normal traffic from the warehouse the last week or so.”

Scully grabbed a big bowl of meat out of the oven, casually taking a fistful of it and tossing it onto the grill. He poured sauce on top and nodded as he deftly chopped onion and garlic that he added to the meat. Mari sighed happily. Whatever was in the sauce, it smelled glorious, like peppers, nutmeg and honey all mixed with tomatoes.

“Spicy?” Mari asked hopefully.

“Burn Gavin’s tongue if he tried it,” Scully laughed. He splashed a little into a tiny saucer, passing it over his shoulder to Mari. “Try. I can make it hotter if you want.”

“I do hope you’re not making mine spicy,” Gavin said. “I mean, a little garlic apparently helps. Mari made a plaster for her sisters that made me eyes water but it also cut down on my coughing.”

Mari dipped her finger in the sauce as Scully grinned with such anticipation that Gavin shrank back away from him. The sauce was good, a little sweeter than she expected and not hot enough by half for her tastes. She suspected that Gavin would consider it painfully hot.

“Twice that hot?” Mari asked before Scully could say anything. “Maybe even a little hotter than that’d be nice.”

“A challenge!” Scully exclaimed as he turned his eyes up to the rafters as if praying to the Goddesses. “Finally! Lots of garlic for Gavin. Hot and spicy enough to cure the common cold for you, my dear.”

“Mari, my name is Affrica Mari,” Mari laughed. “Do good enough an’ I’ll get two more servings t’go for my sisters. They need a cure and good food’s the best cure ever.”

Scully nodded before turning back to the grill. He rolled his sleeves up and then started grabbing things off shelves and out of drawers that Mari didn’t even attempt to identify. She knew better than to ask when a man got that into his cooking. Pa threw knives at people who pestered him when his cooking was going well.

Gavin shook his head, chuckling quietly as he watched. He seemed to know what Scully chose because he raised his eyebrows at one small bowl of yellow paste and then nodded thoughtfully when Scully added little red flakes that she didn’t recognize. Even if she didn’t know what it all was, Gavin seemed to and Scully certainly did. That was good enough for her, especially when Gavin glanced at her and blushed.

Mari smiled at him, setting her chin on one hand. In the dim light of the little restaurant Gavin’s pale skin looked rosier, warmer. The freckles scattered across his cheeks and nose blended in with Gavin’s slowly growing blush. He smiled shyly enough, sweetly enough, that it almost hid the wicked amusement in his eyes as Scully started singing a very improper sea shanty off tune.

Behind her the door opened and shut. Gavin’s eyes widened and he sat up straight, cheeks going abruptly pale as milk, so pale his freckles looked like splatters of mud across his face. Mari turned and frowned at finding Delbhana Danica standing there, staring at them.

“Y’eating?” Mari asked.

“I… intended to,” Danica said, cautious as if she expected Mari to pull a knife and attack her.

“Plenty of stools,” Mari said.

She waved to the four between Mari and the front of the restaurant while being desperately grateful that Gavin had chosen to sit against the far wall where Mari could keep him safe. Scully looked at Gavin, raised both eyebrows, looked at Mari so she shrugged and then turned to Danica, nodding for her to sit down.

“You want the usual?” Scully asked.

“Ah, yes, please, Scully,” Danica said. “Bump the spice up a notch. I’m trying to avoid the cold going around.”

“Two meals to cure the common cold coming up!” Scully laughed. “Quit eyeing each other like you’re about to fight, you two. Got more in common than you think you do.”

“You like spicy–?” Mari asked at the exact same time that Danica did. She laughed and waved off Danica’s apparently automatic glare of offense. “Didn’t think anyone in this city like their food to bite back. Good to know I’m not alone!”

Danica shook her head, laughing quietly. She reached across the counter and pulled down a mug. From her spot at the far end of the counter she could easily grab the kettle slowly simmering on the stove. Scully pushed a little tea tin her way so Danica measured out tea for herself, gesturing towards Mari and Gavin.

“Yes, please,” Gavin said.

“Sure,” Mari agreed.

Danica pulled two other mugs off, one solid and plain, the other decorated with a white flower in the clear glaze. Once she’d measured tea and added water, Danica passed the mugs down to Mari who passed the white flowered one to Gavin. He snorted and raised an eyebrow at both of them.

“I am not a frail flower,” Gavin declared.

“Nope, pocket beauty, that’s you,” Mari replied.

Danica laughed, eyes sparkling with amusement as Gavin huffed at Mari. “I wouldn’t disagree with you on that if weren’t for the fact that I’m only a couple of inches taller than Gavin.”

“Everybody’s short compared t’me,” Mari said, waving off Danica’s objection. “I can pick you up and move you around wi’out effort then you’re a pocket something. O’ course my little brother tends t’kick me in the gut when I try t’do it t’him.”

Gavin started snickering into his tea. Scully broke into belly laughs as he pulled a third handful of beef for the grill. Danica, for her part, blinked at Mari. Anger faded into amusement and then into laughter as she shook her head as if dismayed by Mari’s attempts to ease the tension between her and Gavin.

“He must have long legs,” Danica said.

“Nah, usually ends up kicking my arms instead,” Mari said happily, cheerful, with as much pride as she could shove into the words. “He’s a scrapper, that one. O’ course, we all tend to be fighters. Comes with the territory, I think. Mountains aren’t easy to live in.”

Danica nodded. Her expression was far more grim than Mari expected as she stared at the far wall of the restaurant as if it was a window on somewhere much farther way, somewhere very dangerous. Gavin shifted on his stool, one foot coming over to nudge against Mari’s shin warningly. She wasn’t sure what Gavin wanted to warn her about, other than the obvious implication that Danica had spent time in the western or maybe southern mountains, but Mari nodded slightly to reassure him.

“I suppose that’s why you get along well with the Dana,” Danica said, eyes still on whatever past she alone saw.

“Mm, think so, yes,” Mari said. “We’re both blunt, to the point, rude often. Just as likely to punch as we are to praise. Seems to be part of who we are, both Clans. Doesn’t seem like you Delbhana are that way.”

Danica burst out laughing, a cold, harsh laugh that held more fear than amusement. When Gavin nudged Mari’s ankle this time it was far more of a solid kick than a gentle discouragement to continue. Even Scully looked over his shoulder at Mari with an eyebrow raised as if to say ‘really?’

“We hide it better,” Danica said as she glared into her tea. “At least in public. But we’re twice as vicious as the Dana ever dreamed of being.”

“I take it Lady Etain was not fond of my counter-offer,” Gavin sighed.

“No, she was not,” Danica said. She looked at Scully who nodded before making twice as much noise at the grill as before. “I was told quite firmly that my ‘precious feelings’ were irrelevant to ‘the project’ and that I was to do my best to seduce you away from your Clan.”

“…I didn’t realize Siobhan got her particular brand of crazy from her mother,” Gavin said so mildly that Mari stared at him. “I thought that Lady Etain at least had some connection to reality.”

Danica’s head snapped up. She grinned like she was an entirely different person, wild and determined, so delighted in Gavin’s wit that Mari’s heart lurched. Scully cackled and banged his spatula that much louder against the grill.

“Missing something,” Mari commented.

“Oh… years of battles,” Danica sighed. “Battles and hatred and stupidity on both sides. Sometimes I think it’s all the Dana’s fault and then I look around my family and think no, we’re more to blame.”

“It’s both sides,” Gavin said. He set his tea down as he turned on his stool so that he could look at Danica squarely. “It started when Great-Uncle Jarmon refused a marriage alliance between our clans so that he could marry the love of his life. It’s continued onwards because of stupid pride and competition from everyone else.”

“Great-Aunt Vevina has always objected to the feud,” Danica said with a sad nod. “It was her mother and Etain’s branch that pushed it all along.”

Mari stared at Danica for a long moment, absently aware that Scully was doing his best to stretch out the preparation of their lunches. She turned and looked at Gavin. He was focused quite intently on Danica. It was almost as though Mari wasn’t in the restaurant with them.

Except that Gavin’s cheeks slowly went red again as Mari looked at him. His pulse became quite obvious at his throat and temple. A curl trembled and danced in time with his rapidly beating heart. Gavin smoothed his kilt down, plucking at the pleats as if they had to be absolutely perfect. He hadn’t done that until he noticed Mari looking at him.

“You prefer Mari,” Danica observed in a perfectly calm, perfectly flat voice.

“Yeah, but he’s dead serious about bein’ willing t’marry you,” Mari said. “I do got two other sisters. The feud costs a lot, doesn’t it? In time and money and aggravation.”

“I’d estimate that my Clan dedicates at least one eighth their money and time into… dealing with the Dana,” Danica agreed, still in that falsely calm voice. “I know the Dana do likewise, perhaps more.

“Then the question is what’s more important to you, Gavin,” Mari said. “Love or duty?”

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I love writing. I love sharing my writing. I hope that you love reading what I share. If you enjoyed the story but can’t afford to buy the book please consider leaving a donation. It will help me keep writing and sharing my stories with you for a long time to come. Thank you!

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Free Fiction Friday: Consort

POD Consort Ebook Cover 04

Description:

Keelan glared, hands clenched so tight they felt like wire strung over steel blades ready to spring loose and cut someone to ribbons.

Not someone. Father. Again. Always.

The battle for his and his siblings’ freedom never ended. Keelan couldn’t win, not when Father was trained and they weren’t.

Nothing changed until Keelan’s unwanted consort arrived, bringing hope along with a whirlwind of power.

Consort

By Meyari McFarland

His teeth ached. So did his jaw. His hands which were clenched so tight that they felt like wire strung over steel blades ready to spring loose and cut someone to ribbons.

Not someone. Father. Again. Always.

The sitting room was silent, not still. It could never be still, not with Father looming by the window, one finger idly tracing the grill’s graceful arcs as if he contemplated nothing more than a fresh coat of paint for the finely carved wood.

Outside there was noise, people training in the courtyard. A horse’s hooves. Voices raised, lowered, raised in shock. Stilled. Father smiled as if that sudden silence was his doing but no, it couldn’t be.

His power swirled through the room not outside of it. It silenced Keelan’s complaints about being forced to take a consort that he didn’t want. Padma’s tearful expression had collapsed like a burnt-out coal into sullen resignation over Father’s declaration that she would soon be married even though she was only twelve. Alex stood by the cold fireplace, arms wrapped around his chest because, yet again, he’d been denied the right to take holy vows as he’d wanted since he was tiny.

Even Morgan, the only one of them who had ever had the ability to stand up to Father and then only with the help of his wives who were not present this afternoon, was silent. Breathing hard, nostrils flaring and shoulders hunched as if he fought even in silence against the oppression of Father’s intent.

His magic. His Will, as Father preferred to call it. But it wasn’t some divine right granted to him and him alone. It was magic and nothing more, magic that he’d been trained to control and they’d been denied all knowledge of. Dangerous, Father claimed as he stole their ability to fight him. Forbidden, he mouthed as people danced like puppets on his strings at Court. Perhaps so but their learning magic would be a danger only to Father, not to anyone else.

Keelan knew that he was stronger than father, felt it in the way Father’s swirls of shadowy power touched against his mind and then skittered away like frightened cockroaches. But he couldn’t keep a grip on the power, the magic. It shimmered inside of him like water and Keelan couldn’t grip it. Couldn’t shape it. Couldn’t figure out how to craft a vessel that would allow him to use that magic in any useful way.

Father’s magic swept across the room, crashing against the door like a desert storm piling against the walls of the city. His distant expression turned cruel as he smiled, sneered, then straightened up to nod towards the door.

“Let him in, Keelan,” Father murmured. “Your consort is here.”

His Will stabbed at Keelan, prodding him to the door when Keelan raised his chin and glared, tried to grip the magic within him only to have it slide between his fingers yet again. He fought all the way to the door, fought against gripping the gilded crystal handle, fought not to open it but the pain of Father’s Will shattered his control and the door opened.

To a vision of beauty.
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Now Available: The Solace of Her Clan!

POD The Solace of Her Clan Ebook Cover 06
Description:
Eoghania’s quiet live changed when a man from her past tried to rob the Dana.

Sean didn’t want to break any laws. He certainly didn’t want to fight the Dana. But he had two infant daughters who would die without his support.

Their marriage of convenience might save Sean and his daughters’ or it might destroy Eoghania.

Taking a chance on each other was their best hope of freedom.

And love.

Find This Book:

On Kobo $3.99 ebook
On Smashwords $3.99 ebook
On Amazon $3.99 ebook or $14.99 TPB
On CreateSpace $14.99 TPB

It’s up! :D

Another romance set in Muirin, which, FYI is between Coming Together and Delicate Introduction / Following the Beacon. I had a ton of fun with this one and went more into how the clans work, how marriages happen, and I hope that it’s my strongest romance so far. Always learning new things, that’s my goal.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the book if you choose to read!

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Novel Monday: Coming Together – Chapter 16

POD Coming Together Ebook Cover 05
Description:
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

16. Affection

Gavin sighed as he settled back into the armchair. The whole apartment stank of garlic. It did seem to help his cough, to clear his head, but it was thick enough that he was surprised that his eyes weren’t watering. Caer stared towards the bedroom, slouched against the couch with her head lolling back. The bare feet didn’t bother Gavin as much as the expanse of lean, tanned stomach that Caer exposed.

She was thinner than Mari, shorter, too, with dark brown hair trimmed close to the skull. Her skin was as warm as Mari’s, as dark as the wood floor underneath their feet. Where Mari was built like the brick walls around the city, solid and unbreakable, Caer was more like a schooner, lean and quick with elegant lines to her long limbs and graceful throat.

“She really loves you,” Caer murmured.

“What?” Gavin asked, heart leaping into his throat.

“Mari,” Caer said. She sat up and stared right at him, solemn and completely serious. “She’s already three quarters in love with you. Not sure she realizes it but she is.”

Gavin slowly pulled his knees together, tucking his feet securely under his kilt. He smoothed the pleats down, heart beating faster by the second. Part of the reason he’d come to check on Mari, Banba and Caer was to get a sense of which of the sisters he’d be comfortable with.

Honestly, he already knew he enjoyed spending time with Mari. She was big and strong, protective but not oppressive about it. Unlike most of Gavin’s female relatives, Mari looked as likely to take care of someone as a man. The bath and plaster were examples of that. He liked the thought of a wife who helped with the children, who would take care of him instead of expecting him to do all the work with no responding attention.

“She… seems to like me, I suppose,” Gavin said without meeting Caer’s eyes.

“Lots more than like,” Caer chuckled. “Never seen her this particular about someone before. Good t’see, honestly. We all thought she’d live an’ die on the road.”

Gavin nodded. “She did say that she doesn’t want to live in the city.”

Caer nodded as well, slow and as serious as her expression. To Gavin it looked as though she was pondering the mysteries of the Tripartate Goddesses, not considering her sister marrying Gavin. He heard women’s voices outside the window, heavy boot heels impacting unevenly on the cobblestoned streets.
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Free Fiction Friday: Tiny Gifts of Peace

POD Tiny Gifts of Peace Ebook Cover 03

Description:

Nonna’s granddaughter hated her fiancé and the upcoming marriage. Couldn’t blame her. The man was a useless lump.

She’d had husbands like that. It was annoying other than the daughters they’d sired for Nonna.

Nonna’s daughters hadn’t inherited the means to deal with useless husbands. Her granddaughters had.

So Nonna hummed as she made wedding presents that would give them all a bit of peace.

Tiny Gifts of Peace

By Meyari McFarland

Nonna hummed as she opened the spice cabinet. Shifted her feet and rocked her hips enough that it was something like dancing. Just enough like dancing. When she was younger she could do more, could move and sing and bring the power within up with ease but after seventy years her body just couldn’t do what she needed to pull on her magic anymore.

Little pots sat in ranks, each sealed tight with a cork to preserve the herbs inside. Despite the corks, the door wafted a rich hint of meals past and future to her nose. Cinnamon sticks seal inside their tall jar tempted from the back of the shelf. Savory oregano mixed with sprigs of thyme dried and crushed and bottled for a dark winter when the garden had gone fallow.

She tapped her bottom lip as she considered the spices, toes tapping. Adria was getting married so something sweet would be good. Nonna had plenty of parsnips to grate up and add to a quick bread. Some raisons, maybe those old dried cranberries that Nonna had never gotten around to using, a bit of cinnamon and she’d have a delicious treat that everyone would savor. Or no, maybe a nice sweet parsnip and dried fruit pie that would fill bellies as well as delight the tongue.

They’d eat it up, laughing and dancing, celebrating for Adria when the girl so clearly wasn’t pleased about the wedding. No surprise there. Such a shame that Nonna’s daughter, Grace, had bowed under to that husband of hers. Adria was of an age to marry, yes, but not to that lump of a man. Hadn’t even a home of his own or a career, nothing to offer a bright girl like Adria other than his limp prick and the expectation that Adria would take responsibility for everything, even getting him hard enough to sire Adria’s children.
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We are going to Japan…

…for Thanksgiving. :D

Which should be a lot of fun. Last year my husband took a 7-mile hike following the path of the 47 Ronin from where they killed Lord Kira to where they took Lord Kira’s head. He talked about it enough that we’re going to redo the hike and I’m seriously contemplating writing a book about that.

Not the 47 Ronin themselves though they’ll have a section, of course. Nope, I’m going to write a book about where you can see what things looked like back then (there are multiple museums where you can see how people lived at the time) and what you can do along the path right now. As far as we can see there’s nothing like that out right now and hey, its a fun idea.

Especially because so little is conclusively known about the 47 ronin and why they did what they did. There really aren’t many primary historical resources in English.

Anywho, that’s the plan for the rest of the year. Research, plot, plan, go on the trip and then write a travelogue with ‘you can go here and do this’ book. No idea if it’ll sell but I’m looking forward to doing it. I’ll probably update people on the plotting and planning as we go.

Nope, not much else to talk about today. I have a new Muirin romance novel coming out this week. I need to go finish the POD version and figure out why the headers on the ebook version have decided to be numbered when they’re not supposed to be. I may just start over again because something clearly went wrong with the ebook conversion. *grumbles* At least the cover and blurb is done. I should be ready to upload by tomorrow evening no matter what which means it’ll be out everywhere this weekend.

Hope you all had a good week–I’m going to try to get back in the habit of posting something on Wednesdays. We’ll see how successful I am at it. Good luck with life, writing and everything!

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Novel Monday: Coming Together – Chapter 15

POD Coming Together Ebook Cover 05
Description:
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

15. Alliance

Mari spluttered as Banba slapped her wet, liniment coated washcloth into Mari’s face. Water dripped down her chin, soaked into her shirt. Or it would have if Mari hadn’t already been soaked to the skin from forcing Caer to wash. Her sisters might as well be smidgelets, toddlers barely able to walk, for how well they’d taken to this bath.

Wasn’t too surprising. The water was cold as fresh-melted ice though it tasted faintly of sea salt, not the minerals water always held back home. Just as cold as glacier melt even though it’d been pumped up from the Dana’s well through who knew how many miles of pipes in the walls. Mari was just glad she hadn’t had to carry buckets of water up the stairs.

“Gonna stop my heart!” Banba gasped.

“No, it won’t,” Mari said, rolling her eyes only to splutter again as Banba hit her with the washcloth again. “Won’t. Already breathin’ better an’ got more color than you did.”

“You’re still vicious,” Caer said, teeth chattering as she dried her hair and scrubbed at her skin until it went red.

“Worried,” Mari corrected. “The both o’ you sounded half dead.”

They didn’t deny it. Banba coughed, wet and nasty as if she’d sucked in a lungful of wash water. Caer’s cough was drier, at least, but the sneezes that followed smashed through Caer’s body, leaving her doubled over and panting into her towel. The fancy wash room, just a slops bucket and a mirror though there was a drain in the floor near where Mari’d put the wash basin, stank of garlic and mustard.

The plaster that Mari had created sat in a bowl she’d nicked from the hallway. It was blue, of course, and white, painted with tiny ships at sea. The chunky yellow-white paste filling it was strong enough to make Mari’s nose burn but it was exactly what her sisters needed. Getting it on them promised to be as messy as getting the liniment off.

“Y’look better,” Mari commented as she passed Banba a clean washcloth.

“Freezing,” Banba complained. “An’ the plaster stinks. What’d you do? Buy the biggest, nastiest head o’ garlic in the city?”

“Nope,” Mari said, grinning. “Y’got Dana Gavin t’thank for that. He picked it for me, along with the mustard.”

“It’s gonna burn our chests,” Caer grumbled.

“Doubt it,” Mari said. “Won’t leave it on too long, just long enough t’help you turn the corner on this thing.”

They all froze as someone knocked on the door to the suite. Mari stood, gesturing for Caer to help Banba. Really, there was only one person it could be. She squished out to the door, opening it to grin down at Gavin and his pile of towels. He blinked up at her, mouth opening and then shutting abruptly. His nose wrinkled dramatically.

“What is that?” Gavin asked.

“Plaster,” Mari said. “Bring ’em on in. Banba’s just ’bout done wi’ her bath. Caer’s already finished. Both look better for cooling off. The water pump’s a delight. Didn’t expect that in guest rooms.”

“They’re guest rooms,” Gavin countered, voice nasal and pained. “That’s why you have it. Everyone else uses the bath room we put in the warehouse.”

Mari grinned as she took the towels. Sometime after Mari’d left the mess downstairs, Gavin had put his hair up. The messy bun coiled like a sleepy snake on the back of his head, bits of hair looping out and weaving back in as if he couldn’t be bothered to make it all smooth and neat. Tiny silver hoops hung from his earlobes, barely big enough to make it around the nub of flesh.
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Free Fiction Friday: Broken Sword of Night

POD Broken Sword of Night Ebook Cover 03

Description:

Jamie was king, granted by the right of the Black Sword of Night. Except he wasn’t king, not now that his Knight and lover Ainsley was dead. No one was until the Black Sword was restored.

A year after the sword broke, Jamie ran to Ainsley’s memorial. Finding the true king meant opening his heart and Jamie didn’t think he could do that

Let him have one night to mourn. Then he’d find the true king.

Broken Sword of Night

By Meyari McFarland

Jamie crouched, hidden from view beside the massive granite base of Ainsley’s statue. The street was dark, quiet, only two torches burning in front of the statue. Thankfully, they cast flickering cones of light only a couple of feet from their base which left his hiding spot swaddled in deep darkness. If only he didn’t have to deal with the stink of the cheap oil fueling the torches tarring the back of his throat.

There was already moss under his knee, wet slimy green-black stuff that stank of rot instead of anything living, healthy. Good. Appropriate, really. The entire city was broken. They’d broken along with Jamie the day Ainsley marched out to battle and came back on a stretcher with his neck snapped, his limbs broken but still, somehow, a hero.

A statue. They’d sculpted a statue of him instead of doing anything that Ainsley would have approved of. No feeding the poor, the desperate. The nobles said there was no point to healing the sick even though Ainsley had worked tirelessly to create free clinics for those in need. His beautiful garden, created in the center of the worst part of town so that the poor could come and pick food, had already gone to weeds. Most of the vegetables were already dead.

Because everyone knew that they were doomed. Even Jamie knew it and he’d spent most of the last year desperately trying to pretend that they’d won the war, that Ainsley really was a hero. Acid burned at the back of Jamie’s throat. He swallowed, shut his eyes, dug his fingers into the slime-moss that would inevitably consume Ainsley’s statue.

“He had to come this way.”

Jamie flinched and shifted deeper into the darkness. There was a tiny gap only about ten inches wide, between the statue’s base and the wall of the building behind it. He stood, carefully, and then edged into it. It took breathing all his air out but he made it just as Lindsey strode up to the statue and peered into the darkness for any signs of Jamie.

Behind him, Cameron sighed. Both of them were taller, stronger, bolder than Jamie would ever be. They hadn’t lost the other half of their souls. They were still together while Jamie’s soul had been torn apart when Ainsley died. Nothing would ever be right again now and they knew it but they still expected Jamie to be his old cheerful self.

“Why can’t you leave him alone?” Cameron asked. “Jamie’s broken. You know that. He’ll never be able to rule, not with Ainsley gone.”

“We don’t have anyone else who can do it,” Lindsey snapped. “We need him. You know that.”

Even crammed into his tight corner Jamie could see the sheer desperation on Lindsey’s face. Normally it didn’t show, Lindsey didn’t let it, but it was there now, highlighted by the flickering gold of the torches. Jamie almost slipped out, guilt rising above the ever-present pain of loss. But then the desperation shifted to fury and Jamie held his breath for fear of what Lindsey might do to him when he found him.

“There are other pairs,” Cameron said. “We have the Gods’ gift, too.”

“We can’t wield the sword,” Lindsey replied. His hands clenched into fists while his eyes shut as if that truth, that horrible inevitable fact, was the most painful thing in his world.

“Ah.”
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My mom is visiting!

Which is lovely and time-eating at the same time. I love her to pieces but whenever she’s here my evening writing time evaporates.

Can’t be helped.

And is probably a good thing given that last night she told me that I need to warn my eye doctor that not only do we have to watch out for glaucoma (which she has and the vast majority of her relatives have/had) but we should also watch out for macular degeneration (which my father and several of his relatives had).

Terrific. Just what I wanted to worry about, going blind in my old age. *sigh!*

No worries about my eyesight currently but it is a thing I’ll be watching in the future, no pun intended.

On the writing front, I’ve published one short story from the workshop (See Saving Imani) and just this morning finished the final edits on my newest novel for the Muirin series: The Solace of Her Clan. Title still temporary but better than Buying Hope the original title or the editing title Buying Home. Gets closer to what I was aiming at with the story anyway.

I’m hopeful to get Solace out by next week as it’s already in preliminary format and has had a pretty good proofread.

The other story I wrote for the class The Adventures of Snails needs to either be released as is (in which case it’s not a romance, it’s women’s fic) or it needs 4-6K more words minimum (which is what I plan on doing over the next week or so).

That means I have nothing to release this week. *sadface*

I may go through and reformat some older books to get them up to my current ebook / print book / cover / blurb levels. I have some (a LOT) that could do with it.

Either way, I just wanted to let you all know the latest. Looking forward to getting Solace out for you all to read. The instructor of the lass loved it when it was 24,700 words. Now it’s 52,000 words and much, much stronger IMO.

Back to work for me–hope you’re all doing well with your writing and lives!

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