The Adventures of the Everyday Fangirl is proud to present this excerpt from Scandal: Scions of the Star Empire Book 1 by Athena GraysonIone wrapped her fingers around the delicate glass of champ-ale. Pairing up with Den was a practical move for them both. Their families moved in the same social circle and they spent enough time in each other’s company that a pair-up was a foregone conclusion. The only variable was the timing.
A week ago, she wouldn’t have even questioned Den’s declaration. She’d have responded in kind, pressed her body against his in a move carefully calculated to both keep his interest from waning and feed the mills of the gossip streams.
But everything seemed different now. Emptier. Landfall’s soaring strato-scrapers, the massive arcologies that housed the entire world in which she moved, once felt as if they were the universe itself. At least, the parts of it that mattered. The movers and shakers and power-brokers of the settled star system either curried her favor as daughter of the ruler, or jockeyed for position among themselves.
Alliances and feuds, fueled by the engines of Social Capital, influenced negotiations that turned on a social snub or a carefully-timed acknowledgment. Behind it all was the Probabilities Index—the information market that determined the likelihood of potential outcomes that drove the engines of the economy. What used to be the Grand Game had become no game at all. And it was all because of Denaat.
Between one calculated moment and the next, she’d slipped. Suddenly gone weak-kneed and wobbly when his eyes turned smoky and he noticed her as a woman. Some small, winged part of her no longer saw the dome above as protection from the atmosphere, or the floors below, sealed off from the rest of the arcology, as a secluded garden. A part which lost its wings every time his gaze went cool and reminded her that it was indeed a grand game they played.
Den’s hands rested on her shoulders. His touch was light and as carefree as his voice. “All I’m hoping for is a little breathing room.” He leaned in to whisper close to her ear. “Maybe a little sweetness from my favorite princess?”
He wasn’t fooling her, even if his breath tickled her bare skin. And she wasn’t fooling herself. His hands glided down to her back where his warmth was drained away by the cold hardness of the crystals of her dress. His forehead touched hers, and to an outsider, they appeared to be sharing a moment of affection.
Shielded by the gemstones, something in her chest fluttered. That part of her was liable to land her in a choke-chain of an alliance for the rest of her life if she let it take control. Instead of hard crystal, she felt thinner than the threads weaving them together. So she squashed it ruthlessly, and stepped into the circle of his arms to meet his mouth for a kiss that promised, teased, and couldn’t deliver.
And if the warmth of his body made hers a little malleable and tingly, the solid core of her made sure to shift her body so their activities could be observed by the eyes that rested above the mouths that would report to the right ears.
Den’s grip tightened, pressing the gem-encrusted fabric into her skin, but she remained protected from the points of the gems. The carbon-silk threads were indeed as thin as thought. But strong enough to do what they were designed to do—hold it together.
Athena Grayson writes romantic fiction ranging from sci-fi romance to magical realism and contemporary fantasy. She loves to write characters who are more than they seem, and loves to play with beloved genre tropes in engaging and unique ways. She adores smart, sexy, beta heroes, and savvy heroines who aren’t afraid to demand–and get!–the best from their relationships. Find her online at athenagrayson.com, or get a free book from her private readers’ group at http://readers.athenagrayson.com/huntressOn the surface, princess Ione Ra and her friends seem to have it all. Money, power, fame. Fortunes are won and lost based on their every whim. But the fortunes are not theirs to lose. The sons and daughters of the most powerful families on Landfall have nothing but their reputations to call their own.
When the right scandal at the wrong time threatens to knock Princess Ione’s reputation into the trash can, damage control sends her after notorious gossip journalist Jaris Pulne, a thorn in her side since age twelve. For Denaat Hades, caught up in the scandal with Ione, notoriety is what he desperately needs to emerge from his father’s long shadow, but fame could expose secrets that could get him killed.
But what starts as a social scandal soon reveals that there is more at stake than her reputation. When her scandal runs afoul of the secrets of the most powerful cabal on Landfall, even her crown can’t protect her from the consequences.
Scions will be out in early 2017.