She’s a magic ballet dancer. That’s it. It’s all I needed (on a side note, if you have never seen Roberto Bolle dancing once, you ain’t seen nothing. Go ahead. Google him. You’ll thank me later.).
The book is Black Waltz by Yoshiyuki Ly, a 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.
I had to stop myself from pulling Nyte inside with me.
“So…” she trailed off. “Stella…what do you wanna do—” Nyte gestured between us; “—about this?”
And yet I had to be honest with her.
“I miss you,” I admitted.
I reached up, wrapping my arms about Nyte’s lean shoulders. I palmed the space between her shoulder blades with one hand; the back of her head with the other, trailing my nails through her short hair. The smoothness of her slicked back locks was such a lovely contrast to the precise, trimmed strands of her fade along the sides.
Nyte moved into me as she held my waist. She let me cradle her head in my hand, backward, as she breathed along my ear. I heard her comfort. I listened to the way she lost herself in my hold. I felt the slight tremble of her body against mine. Nyte tried to control herself, now that she had fallen past her pride.
As much as I loved this, I couldn’t linger here. Conflicting forces worked to confuse me. I wanted Nyte. I wanted her.
But I couldn’t live in both worlds: here, in this undeniable closeness with her, and there, onstage, or practicing, or simply in my room, fantasizing about all the ways I knew how to express myself with dance. The one thing that drove me, that moved me, was my muse, as the one flame that burned endlessly within me.
There was no danger of that fire extinguishing because of an argument.
This was the only constant I had.
People, myself included, couldn’t help disappointing others. I didn’t blame them for that.
With Nyte, I didn’t trust that I could set this obsession with dance aside. I couldn’tset this aside for her. I couldn’t replace this space with my feelings for her. I couldn’t be present for her, completely.
Someone else could. It was only a matter of time before Nyte found that perfect woman for her.
Holding Nyte like this broke my heart. I knew I couldn’t possess her, no matter how strongly I felt. It wasn’t fair of me to want her like this. It wasn’t right for me to stand in her way. All of this tore at me, far deeper than only breaking my heart. I held myself together only by the grace of her arms around me.
Nyte pulled away, giving me a solemn look of worry. “What is it?” she asked. Bits of emotion escaped through her eyes as but a flash of light. “Stella, you know I still care about you. I think I made that obvious… How do youfeel?”
“I already wrote you two letters explaining how I feel.”
Her mix of outrage and shock confirmed, yet again, that she hadn’t read what I sent.
“When?” she asked. “Whendid you send the letters?”
“About three months ago.”
“I would’ve read them right away!” insisted Nyte. Her eyes darted about as she scoured her memory for clues. “You know my address… How come I didn’t get them?”
“Perhaps you should ask Izzy,” I suggested. Nyte nodded in agreement. “I also called you.”
Nyte checked her phone. “I probably didn’t recognize the number,” she explained. “You changed yours.” She showed me the missed call from hours ago. “This is you?”
“Yes, that’s me.”
Nyte hesitated. “Am I allowed to save this?” she asked. “To call you or text you… I really want to.” I gave her the go-ahead. After she was done, she added: “I’m sorry, too…about everything.”
“…I know. It’s all right.”
Another silence passed by.
I knew else what she wanted to ask.
“Stella, are you friend-zoning me?”
“Nyte, you already know the answer to that.”
“Because of your work…?”
I pulled at my hands, not wanting to get into this in person. “It’s more than work.”
Nyte ran her hand through her hair, flexing the tips of her fingers over her scalp. She knew what I meant, yet she didn’t know the complexity of the situation.
Chatting with the Author
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.
Hi Yoshiyuki, and thank you for being here.
Can you tell us more about the title of your story?
Hey everyone, I’m Yoshiyuki Ly and this is my third book, Black Waltz.
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.
Keep in touch with Yoshiyuki here:
Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!