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For disillusioned artist Jaden Loring, the very idea of a joyful holiday seems ludicrous. Christmas is commercial and crass, and all his friends are on party overload. Jaden's just not interested in their social scene any more. What he needs is something real.
Enter Kell -- a dark angel bent on turning Jaden's stagnant existence upside down. Once Jaden knows how it feels to make an angel fall, he'd gladly commit this sin again and again. But things like Christmas magic don't really exist.
Or do they?
Praise for Something Real (Christmas Magic)
"f you like Christmas stories with lots of sweet surprises, if you want to see a Christmas non-believer realize that there is such a thing as Christmas magic after all, and if you’re looking for a fun, wintery read with a few surprises and lots of loving, then you will probably like this charming short story."
-- Serena Yates, Rainbow Book Reviews
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Something Real (Christmas Magic)
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2017 Kate Steele
Christmas had never been a magical time for Jaden. His practical, agnostic parents had provided plenty of useful gifts, but he was never encouraged to believe Santa slid down the chimney or the gifts given were in remembrance of the child whose birth was celebrated the world over on Christmas day. The Loring family's celebration of Christmas was designed to impress their peers. After all, his mother once explained, One must keep up appearances.
His contemplation of Christmas magic prompted Jaden to pause. He stared sightlessly into a store window whose elegant display might just as well have been invisible. Were there people who truly found a magical meaning in the day? Or was it all just the crazy rush of buying presents for and planning get-togethers with people barely acknowledged at any other time of the year?
The very idea of a joyful holiday season seemed ludicrous. All it took was a glance around him to dispel the notion of such a possibility. For the shoppers around him, some with such grim, determined or just plain resigned expressions, joyous seemed the least likely way to describe their emotions. Most seemed only weighed down by the shouldered responsibility of obligatory gift giving. With a sigh he turned away from the window display and froze at the sound of a familiar voice.
"Yeah, sure. Don't worry about it, kid. I'll fix you up just like you want. I know just the guy. He'll be real sweet to you. Just what a virgin needs."
Jaden frowned. His searching gaze landed on Chilton Jeffers and the young man who followed in his wake. Chilton's meticulous and well-maintained choirboy looks hid the soul of a sleaze. In Jaden's circle it was a well-known fact that Chilton's seamy connections could procure anything from drugs to prostitutes. Jaden's bouts of depression sometimes tempted him into using those services, but three things kept him from succumbing.
The first was simply because it felt wrong. A wrong that went beyond reason or argument, and so Jaden accepted it without resistance. The second was giving Chilton Jeffers the chance to aim at Jaden one of the secretive lofty sneers he employed behind the backs of those who came to him. Profit notwithstanding, Chilton wasn't above expressing disdain for the very people who kept him in business.
The third was giving in to stupidity. Jaden had no problem enjoying the effects garnered by the occasional overindulgence in alcohol. It was a relief to sometimes numb his well-hidden, despondent emotions, but using drugs went beyond just how much of himself he was willing to expose.
He'd observed on far too many occasions just how vulnerable and bared to the world those who relied on drugs became. To give others such easy access to one's personal demons and flaws was more than Jaden was willing to share. Not even for the opportunity to bury those thoughts and emotions that sometimes battered at him with such strength and insistence that jumping off a bridge began to look good. Death sometimes seemed a welcome respite in comparison to an existence burdened by depression that lasted for days and sometimes weeks on end.
Jaden brought his wandering thoughts to order and turned his attention to the person following on Chilton's heels. If Chilton was a choirboy in looks, the young man with him was a dark-haired angel who deserved hymns sung to celebrate his beauty.
Short, glossy sable curls framed a face defined by model worthy bone structure, large upturned eyes and kissable bow-shaped lips. It was a face Jaden deemed deserving of the word perfection, but for the furrow between the even, ebony brows and the worry that pinched the corners of those delectable lips. And just that was enough to make him take a step forward to block Chilton's way.
"Long time no see, Chilton," Jaden drawled, gratified by the dismay on Chilton's face as he abruptly stopped to avoid a collision with Jaden. "Laying low to avoid the law?"
Chilton mustered a weak smile and an even weaker laugh. "Ha ha, Jaden. You're such a joker."
Jaden discarded all semblance of affability and hardened his expression. "Actually, I'm not. Kid, what are you doing with this loser? Don't you know you're just asking to get dosed so Chilton here can pimp your ass out?"
"No, I didn't know that. He's supposed to find someone nice for me to sleep with, but he didn't mention drugs. Is that what you were planning, Mr. Jeffers?"
Under the weight of those candid eyes and that baldly framed question, Chilton stuttered. "W-would I do that to you?"
"I don't know. Would you?"
"He would. I guarantee it," Jaden answered and found himself the target of those assessing eyes. Jaden thought at first they were brown and then it dawned on him that they were instead blue. Navy blue. A blue so bottomless and dark the reflection of white twinkle lights appeared as stars shining within their depths.
The dark-haired angel smiled. "Thank you for your candor. I appreciate your intervention."
The gentle curve of those plush lips kept Jaden's reply at bay. A moment passed. A heartbeat. A second. Until finally words formed. "What are you doing with him anyway? You actually need the help of pond scum like this to get laid? Anyone who'd turn away what you have to offer would be crazy."
"You seem pretty sane."
At the young man's words Jaden's brow rose. An involuntary and unexpected smile tugged at his lips. "Rational's my middle name. My first is Jaden. What's yours?"
"Kell. And you're exactly who I'm looking for."