Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow! Can you believe the day is finally here? I can’t. Time really has flown by.
Fingers crossed I’m ready. 😀
It’s been so fun diving back into Kenzie’s world. Things have changed at the Shifter Academy. A lot! But her indomitable spirit carries on. Mostly.
And of course, Christmas is huge for her. She really wants to make this year special, especially after all the drama that came with last year (Read the Siren Prophecy series to learn more about that).
But as usual, magic and Kenzie sometimes don’t get along. Of course, what would be the fun in Christmas magic that behaved itself?
Keep reading to learn more, to get a sneak peek at the book, and learn about what’s next for Shifter Academy!
Shifter Academy: An Impish Christmas
A Young Adult Holiday Rom Com
by Angel Leya
Genre: YA Christmas Romantic Comedy, Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
This Year, Kenzie’s going to make Christmas great again. 😉
Kenzie is finally at the Shifter Academy, living her dreams, dating her super hot (and super granola) cat shifter boyfriend. After all the drama of last year, making this Christmas the best ever should be a piece of pie (make that a large slice with extra whipped cream). Right?
When Kenzie’s Christmas plans meet with heavy reluctance, Kenzie’s left holding the decorations all by herself. Oh, except for the impossibly adorable mer guy, who seemed to be on team make-Kenzie’s-life-miserable, now wants to help. What’s with that?
Add to the mix a dash of magic gone awry, and now Kenzie’s chasing a magical imp that’s tearing down all her attempts to jollify the joint.
She’ll need to track down the imp, undo the errant magic, and get everyone in the Christmas spirit before time runs out. Fail, and she could be expelled—or worse, the school might just come crumbling down. Again.
This story is a part of the Shifter Academy world, and occurs about one year following the USA Today bestselling Siren Prophecy series, but can be read as a stand-alone novel. Perfect for fans of heartwarming Christmas shenanigans, like The Grinch, and sweet holiday romantic comedies like you might find on the Hallmark channel.
Excerpt from An Impish Christmas
Kenzie stood on a chair, Christmas pop music playing softly in the background, prickly pine branches poking her side through the thick sweater she wore. The star atop the tree tottered as precariously as the selkie trying to put it there.
“You know, if you’re successful, I’d say you were a star student,” Mr. Suzuki said, letting out a cackle.
Kenzie’s mom joined in, leaning on Mr. Suzuki’s arm as Kenzie rolled her eyes. She raised up on her tiptoes, giving her just enough reach to right the star before she stumbled to the safety of ground once more.
“Really, hon, you could’ve asked for help,” Mom said, though she was beaming at Kenzie.
“But I do it every year!” Kenzie replied. “Besides, we’re all short here. I just happen to be the youngest and most able-bodied.”
Mr. Suzuki smiled wide. “I’m quite able-bodied. Wouldn’t you say, Lita?”
Mom’s cheeks reddened, and she slapped Mr. Suzuki on the arm. “Ren!”
Mr. Suzuki shrugged. “I help with all sorts of things. If your mind turned to dirty things, that’s on you.” Mom slapped him again, and he chuckled.
Gram wandered into the living room, wiping her hands on a festively green and red rag. “Ah! You got the star up. Here. Let’s see it in action.” She stepped on the floor switch, and the twinkling lights lit up the tree, bouncing off ornaments and tinsel.
Kenzie sighed. “I think that’s my favorite part.” She hugged herself, her smile sagging. This time last year had been so tumultuous. She’d spent Thanksgiving mad at Myreen, the rest of the month pining after the shifter academy she wasn’t allowed to attend, and was attacked by a vampire on Christmas Eve, only to find out Wes was a Hunter on Christmas, when they broke up. Mom wasn’t too pleased with Kenzie being out all night, either. The whole day was pretty much ruined. At least the holidays were over by the time Kenzie joined the vampire school to try to get Myreen back, but it didn’t change the fact that the whole experience left a sour taste in her mouth.
“What’s up?” Gram asked as she wrapped an arm around Kenzie’s shoulder.
Kenzie glanced around the room, noticing that Mom and Mr. Suzuki had wandered back into the kitchen where the Thanksgiving spread was still laid out—the kitsune could pack away nearly as much food as she could—and nodded for Gram to join her on the couch.
They sat down, sinking into the familiar old flowery fabric, Kenzie enjoying the lingering smell of turkey and pie. It felt safe on that old couch, like they could talk without being heard. Of course, Kenzie could use her magic to accomplish that, but she didn’t think her mom would notice a whispered conversation—not with her staring starry-eyed at Mr. Suzuki, her boyfriend.
“It’s just that after last year, I’m not sure I can really enjoy this Christmas,” Kenzie said, folding her hands in her lap.
Gram raised her brows. “Why? Is there a new mass of vampires collecting?”
Kenzie shook her head. “Not that I know of. Not that anyone would tell me, but no, I haven’t heard anything like that.”
“Then there’s nothing to worry about.”
“What if it’s me? What if my Christmas spirit is broken and it never comes back?”
Gram snorted, rubbing Kenzie’s arm. “Not possible. You took a hit, and that’s hard. But if you want Christmas to feel special, make it special for someone else.”
Kenzie nodded, mulling over Gram’s words. It sounded like good advice, but who to help? Her mind turned to Leif and Myreen, both who were pretty much out of contact—Myreen with her council work, and Leif with . . . well, Kenzie wasn’t sure what his deal was, but the vampire had always been a bit dodgy with communication.
“For instance,” Gram said, then muttered something under her breath.
Kenzie’s brows drew down as she tried to figure out what Gram meant. The next moment, a scratchy feeling invaded her jawline and upper lip. Her eyes widened, and she started trying to claw the stuff off, the wiry strands stiff. Gram laughed so hard that Kenzie stopped to see what was so funny.
Gram plopped her Santa hat on Kenzie’s head with a smirk. “There. Now the look’s complete.”
“Did you just . . . Did you just make me Santa?” Kenzie pulled at the hair on her chin, the beard just the right length and fullness, and pure white, to boot.
“Tell me it’s just the beard and hat.”
Gram nodded, bursting into another fit of giggles.
“And that it’s reversible!” Kenzie squealed, trying to hold back her laughter.
Mom popped her head into the room, her eyes widening as they landed on Kenzie. “What have you done now?” she wailed, rushing to Kenzie’s side.
Gram couldn’t contain herself, and Mom looked at her, baffled, until the laughter began to catch on. Kenzie finally broke down and joined in, and Mr. Suzuki wandered in with a mouthful of food that he promptly spit out in surprise.
“Okay, okay!” Kenzie said, alarm bells jingling. “Gram, get this off. Please!”
“Mom?” Kenzie’s Mom said, shaking her head. “Honestly, I don’t know who’s the bigger kid sometimes.”
“Just a minute,” Mr. Suzuki said, pulling out his phone.
“No!” Kenzie squealed. “Gram! Off! Now!”
“If I can just—”
“Aghídha’glahn.” Gram sat back and crossed her arms, eyes still full of mirth.
Kenzie sighed, running a hand over her now-smooth chin. Mr. Suzuki’s phone clicked and flashed half a second later, and Kenzie fixed him with an admittedly non-forceful glare.
“I can’t believe you!” Mom said, though with far too much chuckle still in her voice.
“What? It was the perfect photo op. Hey, do you think you can do the beard disappearing thing on me?”
Mom laughed. “It takes ages for you to get any fuzz on that adorable chin of yours. I don’t imagine you need magic.”
Mr. Suzuki winked. “True. We can save the magic for other activities.”
Mom’s chin jutted forward as her mouth dropped open in a kind of pleading amusement.
Mr. Suzuki lifted his hands. “What? I’m telling you, woman, your mind’s in the gutter.”
Mom shook her head and rolled her eyes, but she threaded her arm through Mr. Suzuki’s, a contented look on her face. It had been years since Kenzie had seen that look, and she had to admit, she loved seeing it. Mom deserved a little happiness, even if her boyfriend happened to be a teacher at the school Kenzie was attending—and also happened to have a rather horrible sense of humor. Not that Kenzie didn’t enjoy it when it wasn’t aimed at her, but it was still quantifiably horrible.
And seeing Mom so happy conjured images of Wes. Kenzie couldn’t help but be fond of the guy who had changed entirely since the day they first met. She hated that he couldn’t be there for Thanksgiving, but he’d said he wasn’t feeling well. She hoped that was the truth, and he wasn’t just ducking out of seeing her mom again. Mom was admittedly upset that he’d marked her in the first place, but Kenzie was fairly confident she’d let go of that resentment as soon as she had Mr. Suzuki on her arm. Maybe.
Kenzie leaned toward Gram. “You’ll have to teach me that beard spell,” she said softly. Mom quickly pinned Kenzie with a glare, but carried on with Mr. Suzuki as if she hadn’t heard. Gram nodded, and the two bumped fists while Mom shook her head.
Kenzie smiled as she took in the festive room, her stomach still full with turkey and mashed potatoes—though she’d be making more room for pie in a moment. It was kind of perfect. She wanted this for all of her friends—the food, the laughter, the Christmas magic that required almost no help from her. And while she couldn’t be everywhere, she could spread the cheer at school, at least. She couldn’t wait to tell her friends, and almost gave Wes a magical ring at that moment, only reconsidering when she remembered he’d stayed behind to rest.
Kenzie hopped off the couch and headed for the kitchen.
“Grab me a piece of that pie too, would you?” Gram asked.
Kenzie smirked and nodded. Her mind was tumbling with ideas to make this year the most magical, most Christmassy Christmas ever. Of course, it would be easier if there were more selkies at the school—a point she’d have to take up with the Director. Again. He still wasn’t sure the student body would be open to the idea. Sure, she’d made it in, but she’d also used her magic to save Chicago, and then to help hold the Dome together as Mr. Suzuki’s invention repaired the shattered glass. It would be the perfect time to reopen the issue, though. It was Christmas, after all.
What could go wrong?
The night wore on, and Kenzie was getting drowsy when Gram pulled her aside.
“I found a box of old things, passed down from one selkie to the next. I’ve shown your mother already, but I thought you might be interested in what’s inside.” Gram smiled, and Kenzie pulled herself off the couch to follow.
Gram’s bedroom was small and full and smelled of old things—books, trinkets, maybe even a hint of magic. Kenzie wasn’t sure magic had a smell, but she liked to think it oozed from Gram like a gentle perfume. Maybe one day I’ll smell like magic, too.
Gram had the box sitting on her bed—one of the only clear spots in the room. The rest of the room was lined with shelves and furniture, the floor strewn with crates filled with different projects. Sewing, knitting, scrapbooking—Gram did it all, but she rarely finished. She was always learning and trying new things, though, which Kenzie loved.
The box was yellowed, but if it had been dusty, it had since been wiped clean. The lid was off, and Kenzie came closer, peering at the contents. She pulled out a long box, her brows furrowing at the cellophane and cardboard packaging.
Gram laughed. “Sorry, that’s mine.” She took it from Kenzie and laid it next to the bed.
“A chocolate wand?” Kenzie asked, snickering.
“Hey, we all have our vices,” Gram said, shrugging it off.
Kenzie smiled as she looked back into the box. The first item was an old blanket, though it seemed strong despite its apparent age. When she picked it up, two pieces fluttered free.
“I’ve been meaning to fix that,” Gram said, taking the blanket. She got a faraway look in her eyes. “Every time a MacLugh is born, a piece of the baby’s first blanket is sewn to this quilt. Well, I don’t know if you can honestly call it a quilt. There’s a few blank spots left. I was afraid to mess with it when you and Lita were born, but now that we have the grimoire back . . .” Gram refocused on Kenzie. “I thought you might like to have this with you at school.”
Kenzie grinned. “Of course!”
“I’ll have to fix it first, but I’ll send it your way as soon as I can.”
“Well? Go ahead. That’s not the only thing in the box.”
Kenzie chuckled as she took another look. Now that the blanket was out of the way, the rest of the contents became visible. There was an old beaded necklace, a cross in the center. Kenzie wondered if the beads were made of turquoise—they certainly appeared to be the right color. She remembered Myreen had said something about the gem being helpful for weres. Her thoughts turned to Wes, but she wasn’t sure she should be giving away family heirlooms. But maybe she could get him something for Christmas . . .
There were two stones that Kenzie’s eyes roved past, one green and one white, similar in size and shape. Whatever. There was what looked like a spearhead, too, shaped like a leaf, the copper turned nearly as green as the turquoise.
Kenzie picked up the ornaments, their oblong ceramic coming to points at either end. There was a seal overlooking the ocean painted on one, and a lighthouse on the other.
Gram leaned in. “Looks to me like the MacLughs have always had a sense of humor.”
Kenzie snorted. “Maybe a wicked sense of humor. These are cute. We should put them on the tree.”
Kenzie put the ornaments on the bed and grabbed the last item from the box. It was an old book, the leather binding soft. A flap kept the loose end of the pages protected, and a tie bound it all together. Kenzie gently undid the tie and opened the journal. Her mouth dropped open. She recognized the handwriting.
“This was Gemma’s,” Kenzie whispered, reverentially. She’d heard so much about the woman, read every spell, but this was different. Her words flowed on the page with emotion.
Kenzie flipped through the pages, scanning, but not quite able to bring herself to read the beautiful cursive. Especially when Leif’s name popped out at her. Kenzie closed the journal, hugging it to her chest. “Do you mind if I . . . ?” Kenzie bit her lower lip.
Gram smiled and nodded. “He gave us back our grimoire. The least we could do is replace his beloved’s spell book with her journal.”
Kenzie threw her arms around Gram. “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” She’d have to call Leif—magically—as soon as she got the chance. Maybe this time he’d actually answer her.
About the Author
USA Today bestselling author, Angel Leya, focuses on creating clean young adult fiction with a *kiss* of magic. 😉 It also happens to be what she enjoys reading, and she regularly blogs her latest reviews.
When not writing, you can find Leya daydreaming about her stories, searching for her own adventures, and enjoying some light gaming.
Leya is a part of the incredible Shifter Academy world (which helped make her a bestseller): Diverse shifters, power-hungry vampires, and hunters looking to eradicate them all vie for power in the streets of Chicago and beyond.
You can learn more about Shifter Academy here: www.theshifteracademy.com
Angel Leya loves to hear from fellow readers and authors. Feel free to connect with her on social media, and subscribe to her newsletter to earn your archangel wings, plus so much more.