It’s a jolly holiday and we’re so please to welcome author Kenzie Cade today with an exclusive flash ficlet just for you, in celebration of the release of Reindeer Games.
After you’ve read this special little offering, be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win an e-copy of the book.
Magic in the Air by Kenzie Cade
The wind in Colorado was different than what I was used to at the North Pole—less magical, in a way, but not less beautiful. I knew the first time I led Fluffy and Flurry to the little town in the mountains that something special waited there.
Little did I know it was my bestie’s bonded.
Nik and I—we go way back. I’m the yin to his yang, at least that’s what I try to tell him. He doesn’t listen well—probably because he doesn’t speak reindeer—but I think he gets it. Why else would he offer himself as a sacrifice every time the Grand Poobah Santa blows a gasket?
I’m pretty sure Mr. Poobah doesn’t get it. I’m keeping Little Nikky on his toes. That’s the reason for my games. Maybe now, he sees the benefits. I mean, look at the awesomeness that is Dashing von Stride. He’s a sweet kid. Plus he brings me cookies. Snickerdoodles are my fave and Dash bakes the best, but don’t tell Mrs. Kringle I said so.
“What are you doing out here, Reign?”
That’s Tinsel. I liked him better in the tiny human form. He was cute and bouncy. Now he’s back to his normal muscley self, which is fine, but not as much fun.
“You’re supposed to be in the stable preparing for the preflight,” Tinsel said and I cocked my head at him. Number one, preflight was a practice run performed on the night before the Big Day Eve. Number two, I had nothing to prepare for. If you didn’t consider the gift I had waiting for my BFF and his bonded. Tinsel obviously got the point because he replied, “Yeah, yeah, I get it, but there’s no sense in wandering around out here. As soon as Niklaus and Dashing return, you’ll be ready to go.”
Pumpkin rushed from the stable doors, her bright curls waving behind her. “Come on, you two.” Now she was gorgeous in this form. If I had a human or elf form, I’d want to look just like her. Not only was she attractive, but she was strong. And she smelled like cookies. Gingersnaps. Those were my second favorite. “Reign, we still need to brush and halter you. Fluffy and Flurry are riding behind you tonight because Admiral keeps nibbling on Fluffy’s tail.”
If I could shake my head, I’d do so. My flight crew would be the death of me. I mean, just this week, I had to ground Admiral and Sir Gallopsalot due to their being spotted atop the City Hall building by Mayor Cransfield. Luckily, Nik was able to convince the human leadership that it was all an elaborate stunt, meant to incite excitement of the holiday season. Not that a town like Wassail needed a reason to be excited for the Big Day.
Instead, I gave a knowing look to Tinsel, who winked back, then followed Pumpkin back to the stables. We were strapped in—chains, leads, and a multitude of straps and braces in place. Pumpkin combed me and Sparkles huffed somewhere behind me when I heard the wheels of Nik’s wheeled carriage crunch over the new snow. I snuffled, shifting excitedly as the muted thud of the carriage doors shut.
“What are you so jittery for?” Pumpkin asked, her suspicious tone did not go amiss, but thankfully, I couldn’t answer her, for obvious reasons. Instead, I shook my head, anticipation flooding my system, while Pumpkin and Tinsel dodged my antlers.
“Where’s the sleigh?” Tinsel said suddenly.
Uh-oh. Tinsel couldn’t go looking for the sleigh yet. Not until Nik and Dash had a chance to see the surprise first.
The pair had barely taken two steps when I backed into Fluffy and Flurry, catching Fluffy’s hoof with mine. She squealed and bucked, sending Sir Gallopsalot and Sparkles into a tizzy. Admiral and Wink crashed, tugging the rest of us back. Thankfully no one else tumbled, or we’d have a catastrophe on our hands.
“What in the world is going on in here?” Niklaus had arrived, stomping regally into the stable, curiosity scrunching his expression.
“Reign,” Tinsel answered, his tone flat. The gumdrop.
I blinked, in all innocence, of course, but Nik’s narrowed eyes told me he wasn’t buying it. I was saved from further scrutiny by Dash’s giggle. Swinging my gaze around, I found him standing at the sleigh’s storage room. I shimmied in excitement and Dash met my eyes, giggling harder.
“Dash?” Forgetting his study of me, Nik made his way to his bonded and I saw him peek into the room. “What in the name of Santa?” His gaze volleyed between the flight crew and the sleigh room. Then his narrowed eyes came to me again. “Reign. What have I told you?”
Not the reaction I expected. My eyes rounded as Nik marched back to me. But for the grace of Dashing von Stride, I would have been reindeer-cicle. Dash snagged Nik’s arm and tugged him back to the doorway.
He snorted when he said, “Stop, Nik. Don’t you see?” Dash gestured into the small room. “It’s a gift. There’s a bow and everything.”
Nik’s head tilted to the side. “But the lights, paper, candy canes, and marshmallows?” He once again sounded confused.
“She wrapped it.”
I preened as Dash giggled again. The von Stride got me.
“But the sleigh?” Nik asked on the verge of whining.
His giggles melting into a sweet smile, Dash lifted onto his tiptoes and pressed a kiss to Nik’s cheek. “I think it’s sweet.”
I watched as Nik’s annoyance turned into adoration as he stared at his bonded. He leaned down and took a kiss, not on the cheek. Briefly, I wondered why human and elf-kind touched mouths so often. I hated for another reindeer to get near my nose, much less my mouth.
When Nik lifted away, he sighed then nodded and whispered something to Dash before disappearing into the sleigh room. I heard the rustle of his unwrapping my gift as Dash made his way to me. He stopped before me, his eyes shining bright.
“It’s sweet. Thank you,” he said then leaned in and wrapped his arms around my neck. “But next time why not move past messing with his sleigh?”
I chuffed and Dash moved away but not before winking at me.
Tomorrow, Dashing and Niklaus would attend the Yule Ball before the Big Day flight. Tonight, though, we would fly for fun, for freedom, and for magic. I might have been wrong about the magic in the Colorado air. It seemed love in the air was another sort of magic.
Blurb – Reindeer Games: Dashing von Stride has one thing on his mind: winning the window display contest for the Miracle on Main Christmas Contest. His plans are set and ready—and then he walks into his toy store, Reindeer Games, to find a sleigh that shouldn’t be there. The mystery sleigh sparks a new plan, however, and now all Dash needs is the perfect Santa to model his display after.
This year, the pranks with his reindeer have gotten out of hand. Instead of preparing for the Big Day, Niklaus Kringle is hunting for his missing sleigh. Locating it should have been easy, but games easily won are seldom worth playing…
About the Author: Kenzie Cade was born and raised in the South where she spends her days in the field of private medicine observing interesting people and committing them to memory for later use. When she isn’t reading, experimenting with recipes, or being distracted by social media, Kenzie spends time with her family, friends, and fur-babies who likes to keep her company while she writes. Writing to keep the fictional voices at bay, Kenzie enjoys the journeys her characters travel to find their happy endings, and she loves the challenge of writing a great love story.
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