Excerpt for Old Christmas Magic by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Old Christmas Magic

By Kassandra Lea


Published by JMS Books LLC at Smashwords

Visit jms-books.com for more information.


Copyright 2017 Kassandra Lea

ISBN 9781634865524

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Cover Design: Written Ink Designs | written-ink.com

Image(s) used under a Standard Royalty-Free License.

All rights reserved.


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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are solely the product of the author’s imagination and/or are used fictitiously, though reference may be made to actual historical events or existing locations. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Published in the United States of America.

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Old Christmas Magic

By Kassandra Lea

Chapter 1

“You are a disgrace,” Cyril spat, his eyes blazing red with the fires of their home. “You have become a laughing stock, a fool wandering blindly through the dark. You have let the others down, but even worse, you have let me down.”

Artem cowered on the ground, his black wings bent and broken, feathers falling into the snow where their touch sizzled and they melted through to the frozen ground. His arms were scratched, his body battered, and he suspected a crack ran through one of his horns. No doubt he made a pitiful sight, and now, to be before someone as great as Cyril, a demon with such respect, Artem’s pride took a considerable blow.

Somehow, he fought the urge to apologize, swallowing the I’m sorry before it could burst free and further humiliate him. Artem wisely remained quiet, his eyes trained on the ground. Cyril had managed to burn a circle around himself, his rage reducing the once pristine white blanket into a puddle, his spot resembling the hole of a moth eaten sweater.

“You have been granted one final chance to get things right. Should you screw it up this time you will be banished,” seethed Cyril, his clawed hands curled into fists, his own wings stretched proudly behind him, the dark feathers tinged with burnt red. “You will find a soul and corrupt it before midnight of Christmas Eve. You are to find someone pure of heart and bring them to us. Only then will you be redeemed. Do you understand?”

Shaking, unable to hide his fear, Artem nodded his head. “Yes,” he managed to choke out.

“See that you do the job properly for once,” Cyril warned.

And then Cyril was gone, leaving Artem alone in the winter night, snowflakes swirling around him. He shivered, not from the bitter cold which failed to affect him, but because he knew there was no way to do what had been asked of him. He was, for lack of better phrasing, a joke, a miserable representation of a demon. No matter how much he tried he just couldn’t seem to tap into the dark core of his being.

Somehow he kept getting all his lessons wrong. He kept screwing up, and now Cyril, the one who forged him from the flames, was disappointed in him, ready to wash his hands clean. Artem hugged himself, knowing that the way he felt inside was wrong. He was always wrong. The others made it perfectly clear he wasn’t like them, laughing and making snide remarks at his expense.

He tried, of course, he constantly tried.

Looking at the empty park, Artem bit down on his bottom lip. Where did he start? How did he even attempt to do as he was asked when deep inside he felt so lost? When all he ever did was go from questioning why he was this way to wishing he could be like all the others?

Slowly he got to his feet, the clothes he wore definitely inadequate for the weather. This wasn’t his first trip to the mortal plane and he knew enough about them to get by; which is how he knew he should have been dressed in more than a pair of sneakers, navy sweatpants, and a long sleeved shirt. Like a drunkard, one of the favorite souls to toy with, Artem stumbled in no particular direction.

He was too disoriented, too confused to make any attempt of setting into motion what Cyril asked.

Finding a pure heart, an untainted soul, and on how many days? When was this Christmas Day Cyril spoke of? The only mortal holidays he personally knew of were Halloween when they could cavort freely amongst humans without need for disguise, and on the eve of a New Year when people sought ways to better themselves; minds were weak then and easily manipulated.

It was getting harder, Artem knew, to find such purity, darkness having gained a foothold in the mortal world, digging its nasty little tendrils into every person it found cracked. Those who glowed faintly, though, they somehow managed to avoid this temptation, the whispers in the night that tried to drag them down, and finding one was always a true reward.

To tarnish something so perfect…

Artem closed his eyes and let out a slow breath, his wings fading as he concealed his demon half. The wounds, both external and internal, were too raw for him to concentrate on this night. He needed a quiet place to gather his thoughts, some time to formulate a plan. He couldn’t let Cyril down again, though he feared this mission, too, would be failed.

He followed the sidewalk, its gray appearance vanishing behind a fresh layer of snow. For the most part the city was silent, their ability to appear always easier around midnight. The streetlights created pools of illumination here and there, and it was in one such that Artem spied the dog. It glowed faintly as all dogs did for there was no creature on the mortal plane as pure as a dog, so called man’s best friend.

But its soul would not suffice.

An engine purred in the distance, a twin set of lights appearing down the road. The dog spotted Artem across the street and barked, tail wagging as he trotted in Artem’s direction. Everything seemed to slow down, his focus pinpointed on the dog. It didn’t see the car cruising in its direction and the person behind the wheel was doing a terrible job of keeping the vehicle in a straight line. Even at a distance, Artem could smell the taint on the driver, a mind clouded by alcohol that led to a poor decision.

Artem didn’t know what to do, didn’t know how to stop the accident he was about to witness, short of running out into the street himself. But by the time he decided to react it was already too late.

Tires squealed on wet pavement.

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Chapter 2

By all rights, at such a late hour, Drew McLean should have been back home wrapped up in the warmth of blankets and snuggled in for the night. Not out wandering the streets, but he found himself unable to sleep, and despite the bitter temperature, he felt inclined to go for a walk. While many of his co-workers bemoaned the appearance of coats and snow, Drew welcomed the change of seasons. And this was one of the main reasons why. There was something enchanting about the way the world fell into a hush when it snowed.

It was the powdery kind that looked faked, almost like he was on a Hollywood movie set, and his boots made no noise as he walked along. Drew kept his hands buried in the pockets of his jacket and had thankfully pulled his knit cap down as low as it would go, protecting his ears. Snowflakes alighted on his eyelashes, caressed his cheeks, and melted on his lips. His breath came out in mini puffs of dragon’s breath.

Drew was restless.

A recent string of bad luck seemed to have tethered itself to him and no matter what he did it just could not be shaken loose. This was supposed to be a happy time of the year, the happiest according to the retail people, and he always welcomed it with open arms and childlike glee. But not this year. This time around he was struggling to find where his holiday spirit had been buried. In fact, here it was only days away from the big day itself and he hadn’t even finished all his merrymaking. Sure, he’d gotten around to sending out his Christmas cards in their festively-bright red envelopes and he’d baked up a bunch of cookies for the elderly people at the local old age home in an effort to make them smile.

But his shopping wasn’t done and he hadn’t even gotten around to putting up his tree, something he usually did on Thanksgiving night. At this point, the only decoration to be found in his place was a solitary strand of lights. Normally they brought a faint smile to his lips, lately, however, they dampened his mood even more, their mere existence a reminder of how gloomy he’d become.

Drew wondered if perhaps part of it had something to do with his best friend being away. She loved this time of year more than him, if even possible, and wore it proudly with brightly colored sweaters and a never ending range of themed earrings. She even took to wearing bells so she could merrily jingle, or so she once told him.

It was, however, more than her absence that brought him down. There was the account he lost at work, that definitely hurt, and a handful of other small things, like a tear in his favorite Christmas sweater, that combined to form his own personal rain cloud.

It was silly, he figured, to let the little things get to him, but they did. No doubt fed by his loneliness.

The ringing of a bell beckoned Drew from his dismal thoughts. Up ahead under one of the streetlights outside an office building with stores on the main floor, was one of those charity bell ringers. He frowned, wasn’t it a tad late to be out hoping people might wander by and drop in change? By now the stores were closed and the streets were practically barren; All of two cars had passed by since he’d stepped out.

The man kept ringing though and Drew saw that he was dressed as Santa. In fact, it was one of the most remarkable jobs he’d seen yet, the man bearing a striking resemblance to the jolly old man. Drew resisted the childish desire to tug on the beard to see if it was indeed real.

“Beautiful night,” Santa said.

“It certainly is,” agreed Drew, fishing around in his pockets for his wallet. He knew he had it on his person somewhere, grabbing it on the way being habit. “Isn’t it a bit late to be out here doing this? I thought you guys had specific hours you worked.”

Santa smiled, his cheeks rosy and his eyes twinkling. “Charity does not stop simply because the sun goes down, and any time that one gives is a moment to be cherished. It’s good for the spirit.”

“I suppose that’s true.” Drew had finally found his wallet, pulling out a ten dollar bill and pushing it through the hole into the red bucket.

“Thank you,” Santa said. He tilted his head slightly, much like in the fashion of a dog. “Tell me, son, what has upset you? Where has your good cheer gone?”

Drew shrugged, not exactly feeling up to a heart to heart, even if it was with Santa, or at least a man dressed to look like him. “I guess I just can’t find it this year.”

“I know where it is.” Santa tapped him lightly on the chest in the general location of his heart. “It’s right where it has always been, right here in your heart. You just haven’t let it out.”

“Maybe.”

“Trust me, son.”

A car sloshed through the slush, weaving slightly as it went, the driver’s right to be behind the wheel a questionable one.

“Have a good night and a Merry Christmas,” Drew said, shuffling off, wanting to resume his peaceful walk.

“And a Merry Christmas to you as well,” echoed Santa, his voice happy and light. “Remember, Drew, just because you think the spirit of Christmas has left you doesn’t mean it ever has.”

He stopped short, his heart fluttering. How did that man know his name? Drew was about to turn around and ask, but the silence of the night was shattered by the unforgivable shriek of tires on wet pavement. Santa was forgotten as Drew rushed off, afraid the driver may have rammed into a parked car or perhaps even jumped the curb and hit a tree.

What he saw when he rounded the corner was not what he expected.

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Chapter 3

His heart cracked, sorrow sticking a fresh blade into his chest. Drew had hoped, even if it sounded morally wrong, that the impaired driver had injured himself and no one else. After all, it would have served them right, kind of like a stroke of instant karma. But the scene before Drew was both upsetting and aggravating. For one thing, the car was absolutely nowhere in sight, the driver having wasted no time in making sure to leave the scene, and why not? Why stick around to take responsibility for what they’d done or risk crossing paths with a cop? They probably didn’t even bother to look in their rearview mirror as they sped off.

Too bad.

They might have glimpsed the lives they changed.

Laying toward the far side of the road was a dog, its prone form giving little hope it survived being hit by the car. And at the poor creature’s side was a man kneeling in the slush, oblivious to the cold of the winter night. He cried, his sobs audible in the otherwise quiet city. Drew sucked in his bottom lip, biting down on it. Growing up he begged his parents every birthday and every Christmas for a dog. The answer was always the same, not yet, maybe next year. Eventually he came to understand they never planned to get him a dog and now, at thirty-two, he’d gotten so caught up in various other aspects of life he forgot about his boyhood wish.


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