Title: A Dance of Water and Air
Series: Elemental Magicae, Book One
Author: Antonia Aquilante
Publisher: NineStar Press, LLC
Release Date: October 1, 2018
Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, fantasy, trans, magic, elements, court intrigue, arranged marriage, friends to lovers
Edmund is heir to the throne of Thalassa and a wielder of Water magic. Devoted to his kingdom and his duty to it, Edmund can do nothing but acquiesce to an arranged marriage with the queen of a neighboring kingdom. The marriage and the child it is required to produce will seal an alliance between Thalassa and Aither that is vital to Thalassa’s safety, and far more important than Edmund’s personal misgivings.
Arden is the younger brother of Aither’s queen and a wielder of Air magic. Raised in the politics of the court to support his sister’s rule, he understands the alliance is important to Aither, even as he worries about his sister marrying someone she’s never met. When Edmund arrives in Aither to prepare for the wedding, Arden is tasked with helping him settle in at court. As they spend more time together, Edmund and Arden develop a close friendship, then stronger feelings, but with Edmund’s wedding approaching, they must hide their feelings, even from themselves.
When someone tries to assassinate the queen, Edmund is blamed, and Arden rescues him before he can be executed for a crime he didn’t commit. To prevent a war between their kingdoms and protect them from a dangerous enemy, Edmund and Arden will have to discover who wants to pit Aither and Thalassa against each other and mend relations between the two kingdoms as they evade those searching for them—all while finding a way to be together.
The Dance of Water and Air
Antonia Aquilante © 2018
All Rights Reserved
Edmund studied the people on the dais as he approached, keeping his steps steady and slow. Queen Hollis sat on a gleaming silver throne, flanked by men standing at either side of her. One was likely her brother. He wasn’t sure about the other. Another relative, maybe? An advisor of some kind?
Hollis was lovely by any standard. She had large eyes set in a pale oval face. Her cheeks were flushed delicately, her lips a rosy pink. Her hair was swept over one shoulder, falling in thick curls nearly to her waist. The closest description he could come to its color was rose gold, one curl streaked with a strand of icy blue-white. A crown of diamonds and pearls nestled in the curls on her head. More diamonds and pearls circled her neck and dripped from her ears. Her gown was bright blue, the skirts that spread around her overlaid with silvery lace. She watched him as he approached, her face expressionless, her eyes watchful.
Her brother—Arden, Edmund remembered—was equally striking, and Edmund had to force himself to only study him covertly. It wouldn’t do to take his attention from Hollis, but Arden drew it nevertheless. Edmund didn’t think Arden stood as tall as he did, but he had a willowy frame that gave the illusion of height. Arden had dressed in ice blue trimmed in pale silver from head to toe. A sash wrapped around his slender waist and tied at his side; a short cape swept back, hanging from silver clasps at his shoulders. But his face, undeniably lovely and intriguing, drew Edmund in. His skin was alabaster, his eyes wide and green, mouth full and lush. Chin-length copper curls topped his head, a sparkle of diamonds just visible through them at Arden’s ears. The curls were streaked with icy blue-white.
The number of streaks surprised Edmund. An Affinity for a particular element’s magic wouldn’t produce changes in hair or eye color on its own; only prolonged practice and strength of magic would do that. It wasn’t common any longer for royalty to take that time to learn and practice beyond the smallest uses of magic—hence the single streak through Hollis’s hair. Most directly in line for the throne didn’t bother studying much magic as they weren’t likely to have to use it. Royal cousins were far more apt to train extensively. Edmund had broken with tradition and indulged his interest, and his eyes had changed accordingly. It seemed that Arden had done the same and quite extensively.
Perhaps that shared interest might be a point in common between them. He couldn’t expect friendship, but maybe Arden could become an ally. Certainly, it would help if he and Hollis’s brother got along. And if he longed for more than that, for a friend without the constraints on his relationship with Peregrine, then he’d have to put that aside, as he had so often in the past.
When Edmund’s measured walk brought him to the foot of the dais, he bent into a bow. He’d learned the protocols for meeting nobility of the surrounding kingdoms years ago and had been tutored once more before he left. Father and his council were taking no chances. He straightened from his bow and looked at the queen. She didn’t display even a flicker of emotion. Not encouraging. She was bound by the same rules and expectations he was, but he would have liked something—some small sign of welcome.
He glanced to Arden before he even thought. Before he could stop himself from making that small breach in protocol. Arden’s gaze, vivid and green, caught his and held it. Arden’s eyes were not emotionless. There was an intensity in them that Edmund felt down to his toes and left him mildly shaken. He fought the urge to look down or turn away. Either of those actions would be an insult to Hollis and her brother. Instead, he forced his attention back to Hollis, hoping his moment of inattention had gone unnoticed.
Hollis gave no indication that she’d seen his lapse, but the man on the other side of the throne gave the briefest impression of a frown. Edmund didn’t react and wouldn’t let himself worry.
“Prince Edmund, welcome to Aither,” Hollis said in a clear, bell-like voice. “We hope you’ll be at home here.”
Meet the AuthorAntonia Aquilante has been making up stories for as long as she can remember, and at the age of twelve, decided she would be a writer when she grew up. After many years and a few career detours, she has returned to that original plan. Her stories have changed over the years, but one thing has remained consistent—they all end in happily ever after. She has a fondness for travel (and a long list of places she wants to visit and revisit), taking photos, family history, fabulous shoes, baking treats (which she shares with friends and family), and of course, reading. She usually has at least two books started at once and never goes anywhere without her Kindle. Though she is a convert to e-books, she still loves paper books the best, and there are a couple thousand of them residing in her home with her. Born and raised in New Jersey, Antonia is living there again after years in Washington, DC and North Carolina for school and work. She enjoys being back in the Garden State but admits to being tempted every so often to run away from home and live in Italy.
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