by Yoshiyuki Ly
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy Romance
As a Black Waltz—a magical ballet dancer—Stella Azrith appears to all as a composed, no-nonsense sorceress of notable talent. Yet she is deeply dependent on her muse for far more than most artists, complicating her relationships. Nyte Lysander is a suave, emotional cellist who once struggled in her obsession to stay in Stella’s world. She and Stella find one another again after a tumultuous breakup, needing the other for reasons warped beyond the norm. Black Waltz is a sprawling urban fantasy romance set 350 years after The Scorpion’s Empress and 100 years after Venus and Lysander, concluding the trilogy. Can be read as a standalone.
Searching for acceptance, Stella and Nyte learn to understand each other anew, strained only by disagreements past and unspoken. Nyte’s living situation in the crime-ridden district of Maleficus in the city of Eden pushes her and Stella to pursue better artistic opportunities elsewhere. As they toy with the idea of exploring a power play relationship, they learn about a greater evil that threatens the Azrith and Lysander families. The true enemy twists on its head through whirling rainstorms, driving Stella and Nyte to prove who and what they stand for.
There can be no waltz for three.
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Stella smiled a little more, leaning in to whisper in my ear. “I’ve seen you around, Nyte,” she said. I fought to keep my breathing steady. “I know you’re a cellist, and that this is your last year here. I’ve heard stories about what you get up to during these tournaments.”
“Wait, you’ve seen me around? How have I not seen you? I know for damn sure I would’ve reacted the same way if I had…” Stella laughed softly, too amused to answer me. “Seriously, how do you know me? And how do you know what I’ve done with other girls? It’s not like I go around bragging about it.”
“People talk,” was all she said. I moved my head back to give her a confused look. Stella was kind enough to clarify: “Those same people have friends at other colleges. This campus isn’t that big. Stories float around.”
I frowned at the simple truth.
“You know all these things about me,” I said. “But I don’t know much about you. I want to know more.”
Stella shifted her shoulders, then her waist. Kind of like a snake. “Do you?” she challenged.
I raised my wrist above her head, pressing it against the wall. “Yeah, I do,” I said in her ear. I stayed over her, closer to her. “I know you’re a Black Waltz. I’m not on this side of campus too much… Seeing you now makes me wish I spent more time around here.” Stella’s eyes darkened as she stared up at me. “You saw the way I looked at you earlier. I’m attracted to you. I want you. I know you can tell.” I touched her waist, soft enough to not surprise her. Stella didn’t lean away from me. “For the record, I’m not trying to have sex with you tonight. I want to have an actual conversation with you. It doesn’t hurt to make things obvious to you now. I don’t want you to question my intentions.”
Stella wrapped her bare arms around my neck. “I don’t want you to question mine, either,” she spoke to me, bangles chiming. Her perfumed skin was so smooth. Her move put me on slow simmer, entranced. “But, don’t you think you should get to know me first before deciding if you want me? I could have strange fetishes, you know. Or I could be straight.”
I smirked at her. “Okay, fine. Do you have any weird fetishes? Are you straight?”
“I’m gay,” she replied. “Because of the way I look, people usually have a hard time believing that.” I understood what she meant, definitely. “As for my fetishes, I’m not sure.”
“You’re not sure if they’re weird, or you’re not sure if you have any…?”
Stella averted her eyes. “The latter,” she responded. She was a virgin. That was what she meant. “It’s a little embarrassing. I didn’t think that I’d enjoy talking to you. I planned on finding out for myself if you were a player or not. Beyond that, I didn’t prepare for anything. I’ve…actually never done this before.”
“And if you found out I really was a player, would you let me be this close to you now?”
“What year are you?” I asked.
Stella took a calming breath. “I’m in my third year,” she said. “And I’m twenty-one years old.”
“I’m a year older than you,” I noted. “I started my first year later than I should have… What made you get into dancing? Is it just because you’re a sorceress, or is there more than that?”
“Mmm, you don’t know much about Black Waltzes, do you?”
“No… Whenever my professors mention your dance in music theory, they just say it’s for witches who want to rebel.” Fuck. I shouldn’t have said that. “Sorry. That sounded ignorant.”
“There is some truth in that,” she allowed.
I made sure my hair was still slicked back—a nervous habit. “If you’re up to teaching me more, I’m up for learning.”
“You’ve surprised me again.”
“Why?” I asked.
“I find that most people want to rush me into things. That’s why I haven’t been with anyone before. And yet, talking to you feels natural to me. It’s as if we’ve known each other for much longer than these minutes we’ve spent speaking. I wonder, do you feel the same?”
Now that she mentioned it, I felt like I knew her from somewhere, too. Another time, another life. Maybe…
Yoshiyuki Ly was born in San Diego, CA. Her pen name represents her multiracial heritage and a unique, diverse outlook that reflects in her work. She is a writer and a gamer, primarily inspired by thought-provoking, well-written video games such as the Shin Megami Tensei, NieR, and Drakengard franchises.
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