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Authors: Emma Holly

Tags: #paranormal romance, #magic, #erotic romance, #djinn, #contemporary romance, #manhattan, #genie, #brownstone

Tales of the Djinn: The Guardian

BOOK: Tales of the Djinn: The Guardian
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Tales of the Djinn: The Guardian

Emma Holly

Smashwords edition

Copyright 2014 Emma Holly. All rights reserved. With
the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not be
reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing
without written permission of the author.

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment
only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people.
If you would like to share this book with another person, please
purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading
this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your
use only, then please return to the vendor and purchase your own
copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

This story is a work of fiction and should be treated
as such. It includes sexually explicit content that is only
appropriate for adults—and not every adult at that. Those who are
offended by more adventurous depictions of sexuality or frank
language possibly shouldn’t read it. Literary license has been
taken in this book. It is not intended to be a sexual manual. Any
resemblance to actual places, events, or persons living or dead is
either fictitious or coincidental. That said, the author hopes you
enjoy this tale!

Tales of the Djinn: The Guardian
is an
approximately 100,000-word novel.

eISBN-13
: 978-0-9888943-7-2

Discover other exciting Emma Holly titles at
http://www.emmaholly.com

cover photo: istockphoto.com—Alija, Yuri

Other Titles by Emma Holly

The Prince With No Heart

The Assassins’ Lover

Steaming Up Your Love Scenes
(how-to)

The Billionaire Bad Boys Club

Tales of the Djinn: The Guardia
n

~

Hidden Series

Hidden Talents

Hidden Depths

Date Night

Move Me

The Faerie’s Honeymoon

Hidden Crimes

Winter’s Tale

Hidden Dragons

Hidden Passions

The Guardian

ELYSE Solomon hasn’t had it easy. She lost
her dad and her husband under suspicious circumstances, and her
relatives know more than they’re admitting about both deaths. Then
a mysterious stranger with a briefcase full of cash moves into the
basement of her New York brownstone. Arcadius is gorgeous,
exquisitely polite, and sophisticated, but nothing about him adds
up—that is, until Elyse discovers her sexy tenant is a genie
desperate to save his people from a deadly curse. With so much
heartache behind her, can Elyse find the courage to help the man
who might be her true soul mate?

CHAPTER ONE

THE djinni halted on the sidewalk in front of
the tall townhome. Constructed of worn red brick and the material
humans called brownstone, the residence rose six stories above the
street. To Arcadius’s eyes, it scrimped on embellishments.
Corinthian columns framed the windows, which were topped by plain
pediments. The black iron railings leading up the steps were bereft
of curlicues to beckon travelers in. Compounding the general
grimness, the wet snow of this unpleasant Manhattan winter clung to
the building’s brick, plastered there by the freezing wind. Despite
his long wool coat—whose velvet collar he rather liked—Arcadius’s
new body shivered. He hadn’t yet regained his power to change form,
and the sinister sky was spitting fresh snow at them. Perhaps he’d
been wrong to choose this metropolis as their spot to regroup. New
York certainly wasn’t what he was used to.

On the other hand, this uninspired building
bore signs of what he was searching for. Within the prison of his
stiff human shoes, the soles of his feet tingled. There were vibes
here—definite, promising vibes.

Somewhere nearby the heart of a magical nexus
pulsed.

“This is it,” he announced to his
companion.

“This?” His faithful servant squinted
dubiously up the building’s front. Like him, Joseph wore the garb
of a prosperous Big Apple citizen. Unlike him, he’d flung a bright
red scarf around his neck. “Master, are you sure?”

Was he sure? Arcadius was accustomed to being
confident—unshakable, in fact. The situation in which they found
themselves had changed many things. He studied the house again.
Their hotel was a palace compared to this, but they couldn’t
prolong their search forever. If nothing else, they were wearing
out shoe leather.

“I’m sure,” he said, hoping saying so would
be good enough. “My . . . spidey senses are tingling.”

He thought the term he used was correct.
Djinn absorbed languages from the minds of the people they moved
among. Joseph and Arcadius had arrived in this teeming city a week
ago, long enough to have more or less mastered the local
tongue.

“There is a ‘For Rent’ sign,” Joseph
conceded.

Arcadius hadn’t noticed it before, but indeed
there was: a sad-looking placard taped to the window that—could one
say
graced?
—a small barred door to a below-street entrance.
Was this what Arcadius had come to: living in a cold damp cellar
like a mushroom?

He resettled his coat for courage. “We must
knock,” he said, stamping up the snowy steps with the decisive
stride he’d learned would lessen the chance of slipping on icy
spots. “Hopefully, the manager is available.”

“May it please God,” Joseph murmured
virtuously behind him.

Arcadius found and pressed the most-used
bell.

“They likely don’t have servants,” he
reminded himself and his companion. “We must be patient in case we
have to wait.”

“Hello?” said a crackly voice through the
intercom.

Arcadius was too cold to be annoyed by the
waste of his sage advice. He leaned closer to the ugly speaking
box. “Good day. We’re interested in the room for rent. Are you the
individual to address inquiries to?”

“One moment,” said their invisible
answerer.

Beside him, Joseph shifted uneasily. The
leather briefcase he carried with them everywhere
thwapped
his dark trouser leg. “That was a woman’s voice.”

“We will be modern, as we were with the
female concierge at the Carlyle. Women here don’t expect to be
treated like delicate treasures.”

Sensing Joseph’s doubt, Arcadius felt
comfortable taking the lead in this exchange. Given his former
and—God willing—future position, he had more face-to-face
familiarity with the fairer sex than Joseph.

Inside the brownstone, quick light footsteps
descended a set of stairs, dashing Arcadius’s hope that the owner
would be a matron of sober years. He stepped back as the door
opened, giving the female behind it room to stand on the threshold
with a bit of space between them.

She was young and wide-eyed and breathless
due to hurrying down from an upper floor. Her hair was black and
fell to her slender shoulders without much life or style. He
believed
her eyes were green. It was hard to tell on this
murky day. She was average height and not curvy. Despite a pleasant
face, she wasn’t the sort of beauty Arcadius had known by the
literal barge load in his previous life. Her mouth was nice, he
decided judiciously. And her cheeks. Very pink and soft
looking.

She wasn’t dressed for visitors or even for
the cold. She wore a black turtleneck, faded black jeans, and a
pair of slip-on shoes that sparkled—somewhat incongruously—with
fake jewels. The shoes were the only part of her ensemble that
resembled what women he knew wore.

Her eyes went round as she took in their
affluent appearance. “
You’re
interested in the
apartment?”

“We are,” Arcadius confirmed. Hoping to
appear respectful, he removed his furry Cossack hat. He restrained
an urge to bow. People didn’t do that here. “Would it be possible
for us to view it now?”

For reasons he couldn’t fathom, her jaw
dropped at the sound of his voice. Both he and Joseph were handsome
men, but she didn’t seem to notice that. “Uh,” she said. She looked
at Joseph and back at him. “It’s just a garden apartment. And only
a one-bedroom.”

“It may meet our needs all the same.”

The landlady’s pale fingers clenched her
large key ring. A wedding ring with a miniscule diamond by djinn
standards loosely circled one finger. That was odd. He knew things
were different here, but she didn’t have the appearance of a woman
a man cared for.

“Okay,” she said. “I can show you around, I
guess.”

He wasn’t prepared for her to step out into
the snow and wind with them. He gasped in surprise as her arm
brushed his thick coat sleeve.

“The street door is the only way to get in,”
she said at his startled reaction. “This unit doesn’t connect with
the lobby.”

“You don’t wish to get a coat?”

“This’ll just take a second.”

With an agility he couldn’t have matched in
these conditions, she trotted down the front steps and around the
railing into the well that led to the second door. This walk hadn’t
been shoveled. Arcadius winced as her flimsy slippers sank
ankle-deep in snow.

If they’d been in his native land, he’d have
picked her up and carried her over it.

“Sorry about the mess,” she said. “The
caretaker forgets to clear this, since no one’s living here right
now.”

Arcadius and Joseph exchanged looks as she
unlocked the security gate. The bars were iron and would
necessitate wearing gloves year round. Their kind didn’t tolerate
that metal well. Once the gate was open, she pushed two more keys
into the door with the
For Rent
sign. At last, the barriers
against the city’s wrongdoers were undone. She hit a switch, and a
line of what he knew to be pot lights sprang to life overhead.

“Hold on while I input the code,” she said,
doing something involving buttons beside the door. “Okay, you’re
good to come in.”

With matching grimaces of trepidation, he and
Joseph followed her inside.

The apartment wasn’t quite as dire as he’d
feared. It was clean, for one thing, and warm compared to the
street. The windows were on the small side and set high into smooth
white walls. The floor was covered in dark wide planks that seemed
meant to resemble wood. A square of beige Berber carpet served in
place of a decent rug. On that outrage to the weaver’s art a black
modern couch was placed, plus two streamlined white leather and
chrome chairs. A low Lucite coffee table completed the sparse
effect. The furnishings were new and useable. They weren’t,
however, the least bit visually appealing.

Back home, Arcadius’s servants had nicer
things than this.

“So, um, this is the living room,” their
escort said. “You could take it furnished or not, depending on
whether you have stuff.”

They had stuff but not the kind she meant.
Being careful not to bump anything, Arcadius stepped further into
the sterile room. He wasn’t a puny man. If he stretched his arms,
he’d touch the ceiling. Actually, if he put his hat back on, the
doorframes might dislodge it.

“These items would work for us,” he said,
willfully ignoring how unworkable they were. Best not to waste time
having them moved out. The clock was ticking for his city.

“You’re sure?” she asked. “You seem like this
maybe isn’t your style.”

The glint of skepticism in her eyes lent
interest to her otherwise merely pretty face.

“I’m sure,” he said, willing to lie through
his teeth if it got him what he wanted. “Everything’s very
nice.”

She shook her head, seemingly to herself.
“Okay, then. Kitchen’s here.” She waved toward it; it wasn’t a
separate room, simply an area in the corner. He recognized a stove,
a shiny granite counter, cabinets and a fridge. In theory at least,
he understood their functions. “The appliances aren’t stainless but
they’re new. The engineered wood floors will stand up to spills.
Closet’s there with a stack laundry on one side. Large three-piece
bathroom. An office nook and bedroom are down the hall.”

BOOK: Tales of the Djinn: The Guardian
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