Welcome to another fantastic Coming Soon Sunday. The holidays are here! Time for fun, frolic, and tales of games at the North Pole.
Release Date: December 9, 2015
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…
“Here we are.” Wendy stopped so fast, Nik almost ran into her back.
She hadn’t been joking when she’d told him of their collection—metal, alloy, plastic, and some that looked candy-like. The shop’s selection of Slinkys ranged in size, the smallest as tiny as a thimble and the largest as big as Santa’s head. Some were silver, others gold, a good number spanned the colors of the rainbow, including some colors Nik had never seen.
Wendy bounced much like the toys she was showing off. Nik’s grin was automatic. “This is quite the… um… assortment.”
Her nod was enthusiastic and he might have said more but a door at the back of the shop drifted open. From it stepped a man with the curliest ginger hair he’d ever seen and pale cheeks dusted with a light smattering of freckles. He looked to be shorter than Nik by five or six inches with a slighter frame, but his eyes… Nik’s breath rushed from him in a gust when that clear silver stare landed on him. The von Stride eyes left no doubt in Nik who the man was. Dashing von Stride was dazzling.
“So it’s like that, is it?” Wendy muttered from beside Nik, sounding less like the enthusiastic saleswoman and more like an amused friend.
When he turned to her, Wendy’s warm smile was trained on her boss. Her very gorgeous boss, who was making his way toward them.
“Like what?” Nik couldn’t help but ask.
“I saw the way you looked at him.” She sighed then met Nik’s eyes then narrowed her eyes slightly. “He’s my best friend,” she said, a hint of warning tinting her voice. “He deserves so much more than what he’s gotten in his short life. Mess with him and I’ll find a way to make you pay.”
By the time Dashing von Stride had made his way across the store and to them, Wendy’s glare was gone and she was beaming as if nothing had happened. It was such a drastic change from a few seconds ago, Nik felt off balance and even had trouble convincing himself the confrontation had even happened.
“Dash,” she cooed with a bright grin. “I was just showing Mr….” she paused looking up at Nik.
“Nik,” he answered quickly. No sense in getting on her bad side.
“Mr. Nik. I was just showing him and his… kids?” Wendy blinked at him with wide, innocent eyes. This time Nik wasn’t fooled. He wouldn’t be surprised if she pried into the lives of everyone she found interesting or the least bit threatening.
Nik met her gaze with a gentle tilt of his lips, then answered, “Niece and nephew.” A lie, which he hated telling, but at least it was easier than explaining the truth. He motioned to his sentries. “Pumpkin and Tinsel.”
Although she arched one delicate brow, all she said was, “Yes. I was just showing Nik, Pumpkin, and Tinsel your selection of Slinkys,” she said professionally and with a bob of her head as she turned her face to her boss once more. “He was just complimenting you on your selection of big springs.” Her grin grew wicked. “Think you can show him how big they can get? I think some more customers just walked in.” Then she giggled as she scurried away, but not before dropping a kiss on Dash’s blazing red cheek.
Seeing Dash’s blush had the knot in Nik’s chest tightening and his pulse fluttering at the same time. Dash was even more gorgeous up close.
After Dash seemed to gather his bearings, he asked, “What is it I can help you with?”
“The sleigh,” Tinsel demanded.
Dash’s eyes rounded and just as quickly, his face paled. “I-I’m sorry?”
“Tins,” Nik hissed. For the love of Christmas, would his friends never learn? Addressing Dash, Nik held out a palm. “I’m the one who should be sorry,” he said and smiled when Dash grasped his hand, his grip firm and professional. From their point of contact, a zing of recognition sparked inside Nik and spread all over his skin. “Niklaus Kringle and you’ve met Pumpkin and Tinsel. We’re… in search of a missing item and our hunt has led us here.”
It hadn’t escaped Nik’s notice that Dash had yet to release his hand. His ginger eyebrows shot into his hair line, though. “Those are… unique names,” he murmured in a kind way. “Is this a Christmas thing? Like Punk’d: The Christmas Edition or something?” Dash leaned over dramatically as if looking behind Nik for something. Nik turned to search as well. What was he looking for? He continued. “Is Niklaus Kringle really your name or is it a pseudonym? How did you come by it—because really, it’s good?”
For a moment, Nik simply stood staring down at Dash, and Nik could see the difference in their years. Dash was not even three decades old. His magic was quiet as well, but still there, beneath the surface. Even in its subtle stages, von Stride magic was potent.
But something about the situation was off. Like Dashing didn’t know he was von Stride or even a Christmas elf, at least in part. Nik couldn’t understand how that could be possible. Had his mother and father not told him? If not, why? Questions flooded Nik’s mind, but first…
“Um…” Nik began. “What’s punked?”
Dash gifted him with a teasing smirk that eased the knot in his chest a bit. In return, Nik gave a goofy smile of his own. Dash waved a hand back and forth. “It’s a dumb TV show, where a group of people play jokes on unsuspecting people.”
The thought horrified Nik, even further that Dash thought he would do such a thing. “That sounds awful. Has this happened to you before?”
The smirk creased Dash’s face as it broadened into a smile. He shook his head. “Nope. Not yet.”
“And hopefully not ever,” Nik agreed, making a mental note to look into this phenomenon and make doubly sure each prankster was on the naughty list.
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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