Read Your Wish Is His Command Online

Authors: Judi Fennell

Tags: #paranormal, #magic, #short story, #series, #djinn, #genie, #genies, #prequel, #judi fennell, #bottled magic, #djinni

Your Wish Is His Command (5 page)

BOOK: Your Wish Is His Command
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She traced the lantern’s curved spout,
thoroughly appreciating the irony that Albert had been tearing the
house apart for weeks trying to find the combination to the safe,
yet
she’d
been the one to open it.

Useless, was she? Who was the inept one
now?

She tapped the flame-shaped finial on the lid.
Finding this wasn’t a victory, though, because while Albert might
not have been Prince Charming material, she’d
thought
he’d
had some redeeming qualities, namely claiming to love her for her.
Not because of who her father was or how much she’d be worth
someday, or what great merger-acquisition material she’d be, but
because of her. Not Samantha Blaine, heiress, but Samantha, the
woman who had hopes and dreams of a long, loving relationship like
her parents’ and the big family she’d never had. She’d wanted so
much to believe, so she’d let herself hope that this time it was
for real.

The troll had helped the illusion along not
only by offering to sign a pre-nup, but also by stepping in and
taking over the burden of running her father’s custom-car
manufacturing company while she’d been at Dad’s hospital bedside
these past six months. She’d been so grateful.

And now this. And tonight of all nights. The
jerk.

She blinked back the tears, determined not to
let him get to her. But, God, she’d been so trusting. So hopeful.
Again.

And again she’d been disappointed.

Samantha tucked some curls behind her ears,
plopped her chin in her palm, and ignored Wanda, the housekeeper,
who was calling her name from the foyer. Samantha wasn’t up for
seeing anyone right now.

Oh, not because Albert had just broken her
heart. Sadly, deep down, she’d known he wasn’t the guy for her.
She’d known that. But he’d been the first—she’d
thought
—guy
in her life who’d sincerely been interested in her. When Dad had
had the stroke, Albert had been there. He’d helped out with the
company and hadn’t made any demands on her other than to sign
paperwork.

That was when he’d started mentioning
marriage, and Samantha had let herself go along with the idea
because, more than Albert being her One True Love, she hadn’t
wanted to deal with the fact that when Dad was gone, she’d be alone
in the world. Mom had died when she’d been a toddler, so it’d just
been the two of them all these years. She’d never felt the lack of
family more than she had when Dad died.

Albert had offered her a way out, so she’d
given in to the hope that maybe, just maybe, he was the real deal.
Stalwart, supportive, there when she’d needed something… That was
what she’d always wished for, so she’d let him in. Trusted him.
Believed in the fairy-tale ending.

And now he’d betrayed her.

She shook the long sleeve of the
djellaba
over her street clothes up her arm and picked up
the lantern, her reflection not distorted enough to hide the pain
in her eyes at being betrayed.

Again.

Why
was everyone always looking for
handouts from her? What was wrong with her that she couldn’t have
someone want her just for who she was instead of what she had in
her bank account or what she could do for them? It was sad, really,
how, with everything money could and had bought for her, love
wasn’t one of those things.

She ran her fingertips over the lantern’s
rounded side. Wouldn’t it be perfect if this actually
were
a
genie lantern? She could use a little magic in her life right
now.

For her first wish, she’d turn Albert into a
belly-crawling lizard. Then she’d bring Dad back, and
then…


And then I’d wish for the genie to
take me away from all this to some place where all my troubles
would just disappear.”

And, in a billowing cloud of orange smoke,
that’s exactly what happened.

Or…
was it
?

 

Careful what you wish
for…

 

Northeast Pennsylvania

41,646 days ago

But who’s counting?

 

Vana cringed as the stairs vanished beneath
Peter’s feet.

Again.

Luckily, this time, he was holding on to the
railing.

Which also started to disintegrate.

Holy smokes! Would her magic ever turn out the
way she wanted it to?

At least she could manage Invisibility, and
did so, standing at the top of the staircase and gripping the
railing so it wouldn’t fall apart. Luckily for everyone attending
Peter’s weekly gathering, the structure seemed sound—despite the
stair-mangling efforts of the bear she’d accidentally
conjured.

Vana winced. A bear.

Thankfully, Mr. Hornberger had chased it out
before it could do any more damage, but she shouldn’t have tried to
repair the steps, let alone varnish them. Especially with the way
her magic worked. Or rather, didn’t work.


I know you’re here, Vana,” Peter
called loud enough for everyone at the luncheon to hear. Not the
best idea. Peter still hadn’t grasped the concept of secrecy when
it came to having a genie—anymore than she’d grasped the concept of
being one.


And don’t try fixing it again.
I’ll take care of it mysel—agghh!” Peter threw his hands in the air
as the remaining spindle disintegrated and another stair tread
caved in.


Oh, dear, Peter’s tippled too much
again, hasn’t he?” Mrs. Otto waddled out from the dining room with
Mrs. Ertel following her, dressed in her Sunday best and tsk-tsking
behind her gloved hands. “I’m sure it’s understandable, Bertha.
After all, a bear! Can you imagine? Quite the
spectacle.”

Just one in a long line of them. Vana had the
feeling that the townspeople’s appearances at Peter’s gatherings
had more to do with her and her magic than the food he served. Not
that anyone ever saw her; no one had but Peter. Which was half the
problem. Peter was what the locals liked to call eccentric. He’d
made money in shipping and imports before she’d entered his life
(obviously, or she would have lost it all for him), and he’d
invested it heavily in the town, but not necessarily in things
people wanted him to invest in.

But that was Peter. He’d erected a big statue
to his grandmother, the sternest-looking woman to walk the earth.
Considering that Vana had lived for more than a few centuries, she
ought to know.

He’d paved the path to the home for unwed
mothers with cobblestones, saying it’d prevent falls when the path
iced over in the winter. The church ladies disagreed and
periodically took up a collection to have the stones removed. But
each time, Peter would have them put back in place. After all, he
did own the property; he could do what he wanted with the path. It
became an unending cycle until the women eventually gave
up.

No, Peter Harrison had been an oddity long
before Vana had come along, but her special brand of ineptitude
helped put the icing on Peter’s cake of eccentricity.

Peter never seemed to mind, and that, more
than the fact that he possessed her bottle, made Vana happy to be
his genie.


Jonas, why don’t you send Mrs.
Hamm to get your father?” one of the church ladies asked Peter’s
son kindly. “I think he might want to take a nap.”

Sleep it off, she meant. Everyone thought
Peter liked his whiskey, but the truth was that Peter couldn’t
stand the stuff. He did, however, like a special blend of chilled
tea that Vana could manage to magick up correctly.

She would pour the tea into empty whiskey
bottles to encourage the locals’ belief that Peter liked his drink.
That it had all started after the death of his wife (which, also
not so coincidentally, coincided with the round-the-world trip
during which he’d come across a certain bottle) lent credence to
the story.

Everyone knew how distraught Peter had been,
so what else could Vana do? Let them think he was full-blown crazy
with his talk of genies and magic? He might own the town, but he’d
also built that nice hospital at the far end, and there was a wing
there with his name on it. She was half worried they’d send poor
Peter there, and then where would she be? Where would the children
and Eirik and all the rest be?

The children. Vana shook her head. The
children had been dancing in the study earlier, which normally
wouldn’t be a problem. But when children were enchanted to be
everyday dishware, and those dishes were twirling and swirling and
leaping and do-si-doing all over the place, that was definitely an
issue.

Especially if anyone had seen them.


Out of the way! Out of the
way!”

Vana winced once more when Mrs. Hamm, the
housekeeper, strode into the foyer, bellowing as usual. “The master
needs his nap!”

The master would never get his nap with that
old foghorn blustering like she was.

Vana smiled. She’d been able to manage a
fairly good sleeping draught that Mrs. Hamm had really taken to.
Alas, it was the middle of the afternoon and Mrs. Hamm would never
be persuaded into napping during a Sunday gathering.

Peter stumped up the steps. “I’m not taking a
nap, Mrs. Hamm. I’m not in my dotage!” Still, he allowed the
housekeeper to herd him up what remained of the curved
staircase.


Don’t fret, Vana,” Peter said as
he passed her, his hand unerringly finding her shoulder as it
always did.

No, no doubt about it. Although Peter might
come across as being dotty, he was as sharp as a needle.

But she would fret. After all, this was her
fault. Honestly, varnish? How hard could that be?

With her screwy magic, pretty hard,
apparently.

Vana sighed, kissed the air, her Way of doing
magic, and poofed! herself inside the armoire in Peter’s
bedchamber. Travel magic wasn’t as difficult as conjuring things,
and once she’d practiced it, there’d been no mishaps similar to
today’s incident—

Well, other than the time that Mr. Peale and
Mrs. Hargetty had been too engrossed in what they shouldn’t have
been doing to each other to notice her sudden appearance in the
drawing room, that is.

The door opened and Peter strode in, followed
by Mrs. Hamm, who immediately set about flustering around Peter,
arranging pillows and fluffing the comforter in an effort to get
her master settled.


Stop fussing, Mrs. Hamm.” Peter
tossed the silk pillow he’d bargained off old Mustafa in the souk
onto the divan he’d won in a card game in Kiev. “It’s the middle of
July. I am not cold, nor am I tired. I told you. It’s her
again.”

Mrs. Hamm and the rest of the staff thought
Peter’s “her” meant his wife, and Vana was fine with them thinking
that. After all, Peter talking to his dead wife was more believable
than him talking to a live genie, and since his supposed downward
spiral into madness had begun in earnest after Millie died, it
garnered him a certain amount of pity. Which was why Mrs. Hamm went
about picking up the pillows and refluffing the comforter with
merely a chorus of “Yes, sir”s and “Of course, sir”s tossed about
with a fair number of “hmmm”s.

Vana sighed, torn between wanting Mrs. Hamm to
believe Peter—for once—and feeling bad that she’d contributed to
Peter’s “madness” yet again. Really, she was just trying to do her
job in the best way she knew. Was it her fault that her training
had been cut short by a ruthless antiquities dealer who’d snatched
up and stoppered her bottle before she’d been given clearance to
become a full-fledged member of The Service, that noble rank of
Servitude every djinni aspired to?

Okay, so maybe she shouldn’t have been in that
bottle, since, according to The Djinn Code, a genie shouldn’t be
inside a bottle until she was assigned one. (Or someone
accidentally locked her inside one, as had happened with that
antiquities dealer.)

A couple dozen masters over the centuries, a
few boat rides, one horribly memorable trek lashed to a mule, and
here she was in the New World with Peter and the vanishing
staircase.

Mrs. Hamm let the cord fall that held back the
window curtains on one side of Peter’s bed, then rushed around to
do the same to the other side, bathing the room in shadow and
stifling heat. It would soon be sweltering.

BOOK: Your Wish Is His Command
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ads

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