A Question of Counsel by Archer Kay Leah
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Life hasn’t been easy for Aeley since she arrested her brother, and her role as a political leader leaves her feeling isolated and lonely. Days before her brother’s trial, she meets Lira, a quiet and modest scribe who makes Aeley want more than just a professional relationship.
When she attends the trial and leaves with a marriage contract, Aeley doesn’t know what to do. She must choose one of two brothers, marrying into a family she doesn’t know. Then she discovers that Lira is part of the same family—a sister to Aeley’s suitors and the family’s disgrace. And not at all opposed to an intimate relationship.
Except random acts of violence against her people test Aeley’s ability as a leader, and a web of lies and deceit threaten not only her chance at happiness, but her life…
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About the Author
Archer Kay Leah was raised in Canada, growing up in a port town at a time when it was starting to become more diverse, both visibly and vocally. Combined with the variety of interests found in Archer’s family and the never-ending need to be creative, this diversity inspired a love for toying with characters and their relationships, exploring new experiences and difficult situations.
Archer most enjoys writing speculative fiction and is engaged in a very particular love affair with fantasy, especially when it is dark and emotionally charged. When not reading and writing for work or play, Archer is a geek with too many hobbies and keeps busy with other creative endeavors, a music addiction, and whatever else comes along. Archer lives in London, Ontario with a same-sex partner and their cat.
“If my father hadn’t already made a deal with your family, I wouldn’t have approached them. But he did and now I have to see it through. It doesn’t mean I get to be happy. It never was about that. Duty’s always been more important. Besides, if it weren’t them, it’d be some son of someone else who was important. It doesn’t make it any easier.”
Lira nodded slowly. “I doubt they’ll make any woman truly happy. Out of all the choices and it was them.”
“It could be any one of the available men and I still wouldn’t be happy about it.” The words tumbled from Aeley’s lips before she could stop herself. “It isn’t just your brothers being themselves, it’s the whole concept of giving myself over to a guy I don’t care for. I have no interest in sleeping with them, or procreating. And it isn’t because I don’t know how—I know how. I’ve slept with guys before; I just don’t care for it. I don’t get pleasure from it like everyone thinks I should. I know Father wanted me to find someone nice, but his idea of nice isn’t the same as mine.”
“Is it the same reason why you and Mayr aren’t together?”
“Partially,” Aeley replied. “That, and he’s my best friend. The only one who really understands me. We never wanted to ruin it.” She tilted her head back to stare at the stars. “If only it wasn’t your brothers. If only it was y—”
Closing her mouth, she knew she’d said too much already. It always happened whenever they were together. Rarely did she tell anyone her most private thoughts, and when she did, she trusted only Mayr. But even then, she preferred to keep her deepest thoughts to herself, protecting them as if they were precious and easily shattered. Why could she not stop exposing those secrets when she was with Lira?
“What were you saying?” Lira asked softly, her eyes searching Aeley’s.
“Nothing. Never mind. I was rambling.”
“Or telling the truth.”
When Aeley turned, Lira stepped closer. Their chests touched—a deliberate move, Aeley realized, when Lira leaned into her. She watched the rise and fall of Lira’s chest under the simple gold pendant around her neck.
“Imagine if you could tell me everything, without worrying about what I’d think,” Lira murmured. Her face neared Aeley’s. “Maybe this is exactly the change you wanted. Maybe you just need more time to put everything together. Or maybe you just need all the pieces.”
There was no time to breathe before Lira’s lips touched hers, coaxing a soft kiss from Aeley with a gentle push and tug.
Her thoughts spun. Aeley raised her hand to the balcony to keep steady, only barely registering the fact that her hand made it halfway before stopping in the air. Was the silence just in her head or had the music stopped?
By the time Aeley realized what was happening, Lira’s lips left.
“Something for you to think about,” Lira whispered. Without waiting for a reply, she walked towards the ballroom.
She paused in the doorway and looked back, the light from the room illuminating her face and giving her skin a yellow glow. Her lips showed the hint of a smile, but her eyes said everything.