by Yoshiyuki Ly
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy Romance
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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Fear crept through me as slowly as she walked. Awe opened me up, only for my terror to shut me down again. All I could do was watch as she slid aside the shower door and came inside with me. Stella used a seamless spell to make the shower water slide off of her body as if she were made of glass. She pressed me up against the cold wall, as cold as her eyes were as she stared me down. The tightness of her trained waist pushed up her breasts, full as they were already, right up against mine.
“Hello, Nyte,” she whispered, chilling me in this warm water.
“Wh-What are you doing—?”
Stella placed her lithe finger over my lips. “Shh…there’s no need to panic,” she soothed. I started breathing hard against her hand. She gave me a slow smile. “There’s something I’d like to discuss with you. I want us to continue from where we left off. But, as you accused me of before, this will be on my terms. Is that a deal breaker for you, or should I walk away?”
“No, it’s not… Please. Please, don’t walk away from me. I couldn’t take it if you did.”
“Mmm, I thought so. Let’s go over how this will work, shall we?”
Vigorous, eager, hungry, I nodded.
Stella studied me for a bit first. I let her look me over, forgetting the freeze of the wall against my shoulder blades. Keeping eye contact with her was too intense. I glanced down. Dirt from the underside of Stella’s boots dissolved away as stained water down the drain. Nothing else from her met with the water.
Yet I was bare and exposed, getting more and more soaked by the moment. Everywhere.
“I like that you’re afraid,” murmured Stella. “Paranoid. Suspicious. You don’t know what to think, what to feel. When we’re like this, there are no disagreements. No arguments. No…hurt feelings.” I winced at her emphasis. “This contract between us is spoken. I don’t need a formal document to keep track of what you like and dislike. Do I have your consent?”
“Do you trust me to hold this power over you?”
“Yeah…I do,” I told her.
“That’s the important part,” she stressed. “Trust.” Stella feathered the tips of her sharp nails along my jaw, stroking me like I was her plaything. “There are lines that I absolutely won’t cross. You can trust me with this.”
The words just came out, trembling, “You can do anything you want to me.”
Stella narrowed her eyes. “Anything?”
“You’re certain you have no hard limits? Things you absolutely refuse to do?”
“Maybe I do. I don’t know right now. If I figure one out, I’ll…let you know. You already know the things I like, what I enjoy. Go from there.”
“So, if I asked someone else to fuck you while I watched, you’d take it?”
“If it would please you,” I said, not recognizing how weak my voice sounded.
“Even a man?”
“More difficult, hm?” noticed Stella. “As dangerous as that is, I respect your wishes. If you think I’m going too far, use a safe word. No more will work. I’ll stop whatever I’m doing and take care of you. We’ll talk about what went wrong and make adjustments. Is that fair?”
“Yeah… Yes. I can live with that.”
“Good. Do you have any questions?”
I couldn’t pin anything down with words. I shook my head, not wanting to waste her time.
Stella spun me around. She pinned me against the wall, her front against my back. Those boots made her a bit taller than me, and she took advantage of it, taking up all the space around me. She tilted my head to the side, her graceful hands calculating enough to feel like a spider crawling against my skin, with the sharpness of her nails as the venomous tips of her claws.
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The title for this book has a story behind it, tying into my writing inspirations and some general puns. Since this is my third book, the waltz is appropriate, since the style of music is often written in ¾ time. Music composition nerds will get the reference.
The concept of a Black Waltz comes from the video game Final Fantasy IX that released in the year 2000. I’ve been gaming for as long as I could read and write. I enjoy role-playing games in particular, since they typically have well-written stories, great music, and memorable characters. If you’ve heard of the Final Fantasy series, this is what they’re known for, and Final Fantasy IX is no exception.
In this game, there are three Black Waltzes that act as villains against the main cast of heroes. They’re sorcerers who look like scarecrows, plumed in all-black feathers and wearing traditional witch-like pointy hats. Even though they’re supposed to be evil, they’re really only soulless dolls who can’t question their orders or their existence. Some of the most thought-provoking moments in the game happen when one of the main characters, a young boy named Vivi, questions his own existence because he looks like the Black Waltzes who cause so much destruction with their magic.
There are a lot of loaded, more personal ties as to how all of this relates to the title and even the themes of this book. I can say that one of the lead protagonists, Stella, the Black Waltz on the cover, has to stare at the truth of her own existence that’s entirely defined by her art and her muse. She doesn’t always like what she sees, but she knows that she can’t run away from it.
How her love interest, Nyte, reacts to these truths is what defines the core of this book, at least on a surface level.
We can’t control who accepts us, but we have the choice to embrace the ones who do accept us for who we are, flaws and all.
I hope that, if you read the book, that this post will make more sense in context.
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