When Draco attends a ball held by the Aztec emperor to celebrate his victory over sky pirates, Draco meets the attractive and enigmatic Yolotli. However, a vindictive act sees Draco forced to captain a unique ship, the Nephele. The first ship designed to sail the oceans of space, and built by the combined forces of the British and Aztec Empires.
Draco is obligated to take Yolotli with him, bound under an oath by the emperor. Their lives, as well as their burgeoning love, are beset with dangers neither man could imagine.
Even if they survive the mission, their love may not endure when the truth is revealed.
Turning his head ever so slightly, Yolotli gazed at Draco and bit back his sigh. The handsome captain instantly stood out with his broad physique, light-coloured hair, and pale skin. Yolotli could stare at him for hours, but protocol dictated Yolotli couldn’t approach or speak to him. Then Yolotli frowned. There was another man in dress uniform like Draco’s, one who made Draco laugh. The slightly built blond stood out like a golden, shimmering bird among a dowdy flock.
The sight was enough to throw Yolotli off balance and only a discreet nudge in the small of his back from one of the guards galvanised him into moving again. Yolotli wasn’t normally invited to these kinds of gatherings, although he was often permitted to attend the ball afterward. To find he’d been included at the banquet was an unexpected delight and he fully intended to make sure he didn’t let the emperor down.
Yolotli took his seat at the far end of the immense table, his stomach flipping as Draco glanced up just as Yolotli sat down. For a few seconds their gazes locked, then Draco was distracted by his companion again.
Yolotli made sure to sit back slightly. He and the captain hadn’t been formally introduced by the emperor and it wasn’t protocol for Yolotli to speak to anyone he didn’t know. At this end of the table were several of Heumac’s older courtiers, all of whom were known to Yolotli.
The meal was served over a couple of hours and consisted of many courses, but although the food was exquisitely prepared, cooked, and served, Yolotli was unable to fully enjoy the experience. Every so often he felt Draco’s gaze upon him, and—daringly—once or twice Yolotli had even looked back.
Yolotli, like everyone else in the palace, knew that to ensure Heumac’s chefs rivalled those of Europe, he sent them to France on a three-monthly rotation. In that way, they were always skilled in the newest techniques and dishes that the elite restaurants devised.
To be included at such a dinner was an honour itself, but between the glances sent his way by Draco and the looks Yolotli observed Draco exchange with the other airshipman, Yolotli found his appetite quite spoiled.
Worse yet were the venomous looks that the ambassador and his daughter aimed at Draco. Yolotli was confused by such behaviour. Even if they disliked the captain, to show such animosity at Heumac’s table was the height of bad manners. And Yolotli wasn’t the only one to notice. He’d seen the emperor frown.
Yolotli was pleased to see that Draco’s responses to Sir Rupert’s daughter were formal and detached. There wasn’t any warmth -- or affection -- in those beautiful blue eyes as when Draco looked at his companion.
Then Yolotli froze. Draco’s gaze had moved from Alton once more and fixed on him as he’d looked at the handsome captain. Unable to move or breathe, Yolotli’s cheeks heated as Draco looked at him for several long seconds. When Draco finally looked away, a smile on his lips, Yolotli picked up his goblet and took several sips of the wine it held.
His heart was pounding rapidly -- just from a single look. Only when sure his emotions were back under control did Yolotli glance back at Draco. The captain was now talking in earnest with one of the princes of a southern principality. Whatever Draco was saying held the attention of more than one prince, and a heady rush of pride swept over Yolotli; even though Draco would be unaware of it.
When the meal ended, Yolotli quickly made his way out of the dining room. He hoped to find a suitable place to conceal himself in which to watch for Draco.
However, his plan backfired. One of the southern princes noticed Yolotli and addressed him. With a silent curse, Yolotli stepped out to speak to the older man.
As the prince moved away, Draco was there. Too late to make a discreet getaway, there was nowhere for Yolotli to go. He would have to address Draco directly. Yolotli prayed the emperor wouldn’t be too angry.
“I saw you at dinner.” Draco’s voice was soft and warm, like a caress, and Yolotli struggled not to sigh as he gazed up into Draco’s eyes.
“I ... yes. Yes, you did.” Yolotli grimaced inwardly, cursing his sudden lack of loquaciousness.
“My name is Captain Draco Leeford. I don’t believe I’ve seen you here before. Are you one of the Aztec princes? Your dress is clearly Aztec and not that of a visiting dignitary.”
“Ah, no.” Yolotli didn’t want to give his name. That was something his emperor had to do. He smiled, trying to regain his composure and think of a way out of his predicament. “You are the airship captain that captured the sky pirates?” Yolotli tilted his head, hoping to divert Draco’s attention away from him.
“I am. I’m only sorry I didn’t get the captain along with his ship.” Then Draco smiled and Yolotli was sure he’d melt under its brilliance. Not even the beauty of the golden temple compared to Draco’s smile. “I’m surprised you’ve heard of me. I’m very flattered.”
Now Yolotli’s cheeks positively burned and he ducked his head away from the effects of Draco’s smile. “I think you’re teasing me.”
“Not at all.”