Scandal: Scions of the Star Empire #1

They can have anything they want…except freedom.

When a princess who’s no stranger to scandal runs afoul of the secrets of the most powerful cabal on Landfall, even her crown can’t protect her from the consequences.

They can have anything they want…except a future.

Nothing infuriates Princess Ione Ra more than having someone else take control of her reputation from her, and her old nemesis–gossip journalist Jaris Pulne–is poised to do just that with pilfered pics of her caught in a compromising position with her power-couple partner. As someone who’s no stranger to manipulating the markets on her own social life, Ione knows the wrong scandal means social suicide.

Privilege is a prison…

For the other half of the power couple, Den Hades, his survival has depended on staying in his powerful father’s shadow in order to protect his secrets. But on the very night of his one chance to earn a shot at becoming a Scion–and freedom from his father’s ambitions, scandal threatens to tear him from Ione, or worse–force them together before their time.

 

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Excerpt: Window Dressing

Ione Ra stared out the immense, domed window at the night city before her. The glow from the crowded strato-scrapers surrounding her own provided a steady background illumination against the congested atmosphere, broken only by the pinpoints of vehicle lights moving in horizontal and vertical traffic patterns. Even the stationary lights, though, blurred together for her, given the haze of alcohol and the recreational pharmaceutical nicknamed Sugar currently running through her veins.

Landfall, legendary city at the center of the universe, at least for everyone who lived there. Scene of a thousand different children’s stories. Once upon a time, when we first fell to earth… As if only princesses and heroes came from the stars. “Back when Landfall was a village” was the ancient headmaster’s response when any of the students at the Academy asked his birth year. Also, probably the last time the old man had any fun, especially at these events.

“What’cha lookin’ at?” A masculine voice purred in her ear.

She turned away from the observation glass. “Nothing,” she murmured.

“The party’s in here,” Den said. Auburn hair tamed for the evening and dress uniform fitted like a second skin, Denaat Hades moved with the easy carelessness of having several thousand credits always at hand and the power to go along with them, whether it was earned or not.

She smirked. “All I see is another dull Academy cotillion.” She slanted a glance at him. “Only this time, you’re the show piece in the honor seat.”

Den put a hand on his chest. “Oh, you wound me, princess. I’d hoped you’d hold my family crest when I show my prowess to Landfall’s most worthy.”

“We are Landfall’s most worthy,” she retorted.

“I mean the Elders. The Cultural Trust.” He put his arms around her waist and slipped behind her. “The dried up old husks who pass judgment on our chromosomes? The ones with final say in whether or not we’ll ever be allowed to have sex?”

In the middle of enjoying the warm, syrupy feel of his body against hers, cold water doused her. She washed it down with another sip of champ-ale. “How much would I have to pay you for your sword to accidentally slip and skewer one of those ghouls?” She was only half-joking. The Cultural Trust enjoyed near-universal popularity among everyone with an address above the 800’s, and below the 800’s, who cared? When the Trust blessed an alliance of families through a wedding, doors opened, celestial choirs sang, and money and power magnified, spraying everyone in the vicinity with good fortune. When the Trust read an ill omen in the match… She pushed away fears of shame and obscurity.

He kissed her below the earlobe. “By the way, you look fantastic tonight.”

“I know.” She said it without arrogance, just the secure knowledge that several thousand of her own allowance credits dangled from delicate straps around her shoulders and neck. The crystal-bead micro-sheath dress was her only protection from the elements. Silver filament made of carbon-silk held the opalescent crystals together in a mesh punctuated here and there by platinum clasps. Larger teardrops of alternating crystal and platinum brushed the tops of her thighs, where the dress ended. The stones caught the light and threw it back in dazzling rainbows around her.

“I love you,” Den said, out of nowhere.

“Do you?” She slanted a glance towards him. Or do you simply love me because I’m richer than you?

Meet the Scions…

In the Spires of Landfall, the heirs of the noble Houses will do anything to gain the Social Capital they need to achieve the coveted rank of Scion…and their freedom. When privilege is a prison, freedom is the one thing credits can’t buy.

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