Authors: Lyn Brittan
Tags: #Interracial, #Multicultural, #fantasy, #witch, #genie, #paranormal, #african american, #shifter, #romance series, #rich, #series
Also by Lyn Brittan
Outer Settlement Agency
Outer Settlement Agency Omnibus
The Djinn Series
The Genie's Witch
A Genie's Love
Watch for more at
Lyn Brittan’s site
o part of this eBook or bound book may be reproduced in any form or by electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review. This eBook/Book may not be sold or given to other people. If you would like to share this story, please purchase additional copies.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
he front door opened to him before he finished the first knock.
“I need to borrow your wife.”
“My manners seem to have escaped me. Hello, brother. It’s good to see you. I hope all is well and I need to use your wife.”
A fist the size of the Atlas Mountains made itself painfully at home on his cheek. If he’d expected Tig’s punch, he could have avoided it. Instead, Faruq backed up, rubbed his jaw and tried again. “It’s really important.”
Now that time, he did duck out of the way.
Faruq stared back into a face that so mirrored his own. Their skin had the same golden hue and eyes black as night. Well, should be, but his brother’s pupils had gone from black orbs to vermillion flames. The youngest brothers of dozens, he and Tig were separated in age by less than seventy-five years. They may as well have been twins. Yet in all that time, he’d never known him to be violent. Not by choice, anyway. “Is everything all right here?”
“All right? I don’t hear from you in a hundred years and when I do, the first thing you say to me is that you want my wife?”
your wife. I need her. I’ve been watching you two for and – hey!” He ducked to avoid another swing. “Would you stop that?”
Faruq dragged his hands across his face and backed away from the house into the Galveston morning sun. “Look at me, little brother. Look and tell me what you see.”
Tig followed him, jaw dropping with every step. His mouth split into a grimace. “Why are you in sweatpants in public? Are you poor? Is that a gray hair?” A clenched and burning fist directed his chin to the light. “Do you have a wrinkle?”
What he was about to admit didn’t make him proud. In fact, of all the brothers, Tig was the only one he could even begin to approach with his little...problem. “I lost my lamp.”
“The 1920s. More or less.”
Tig continued the inspection, circling and pulling at his skin. “How? That...it’s...it’s a wonder you’re not ancient.”
“I know. That’s something to share with the family. We age outside the lamp, but at a tortoise’s pace. Stop poking at me.”
“Wait. You lost your lamp in the twenties and never bothered to look for it? How could you stand to be away from it so long? The pain?”
“You get used to it.”
“Not if you’re normal. Then again, you never were. You’ve always hated what we are.”
“And now you’re over your latest ‘I want to be human’ kick and need your lamp back.”
Faruq let the dig go with a nod, unable to say anything contrary. Of all the djinn he’d known, he’d been the one to hate his existence the most. He’d wanted something close to normal and had hoped that getting rid of the lamp would help that along.
Instead, he’d gained six gray hairs and lines around his mouth. This was all well and good – precisely what he wanted. But the change was happening too slowly. How could he have a human life, if he outlived every human around him? At this rate, he wouldn’t
forty for another two hundred years. No, he hadn’t wanted to live forever, but ongoing, unending aging wasn’t his cup of tea either. “I thought I’d lose my magic faster than this.”
“You’re an idiot.”
“I shall pretend that’s sympathy.”
“You can call it anything you like. You’re the one who
“I would not say, ‘misplace’, exactly. I know where it is. Roughly. I tossed it off a ship somewhere between America and Portugal.”
“America and...aww hell.” Tig’s hands flew up in the air and a fresh round of swears trailed his stomping feet up the steps. At the top of the porch, he looked over his shoulder and waved him in. “Get into the house. Dinah’s got breakfast going.”
Tig hadn’t turned, even as he approached him on the step. Faruq lifted his hand in question, but Tig latched on to it, pulling him into a much needed embrace. How long since he’d been touched? An age, to be sure. He’d avoided it on purpose, not willing to risk a bonding. But there was safety here. To have that first contact be one of love, even through all the anger and years, put a pleasant, if heavy, anchor in his chest. “Brother, I—”
“Yes, my brother and there’s nothing more to be said of it. I welcome you into my home.”
didn’t fit so much as
. What looked like a typical southern sprawling estate from the outside, gave way to rich burgundy walls in one room and blue slate in the other. Multicolored tapestries dripped from barrel-vaulted ceilings and natural light flickered in through endless oiel-de-boeufs. It bore all the absurd opulence that can only come of a rich American and an even richer Algerian. More than that, it bespoke a sense of permanence, something he’d never truly experienced. “You’ve turned your home into a lamp.”
“With all the modern amenities. I’m assuming that when we find your lamp, it won’t have HDTV.”
Tig slapped him on the back and led him through a scalloped archway into a white and steel kitchen. A petite woman in stilettos and a frilly, green apron worked with her back towards him. Faruq pointed from her to Tig and rolled his eyes at his brother’s wink. Lucky bastard.
“Tig I think...oh!” The woman stopped mid-stir, bowl clamped between her chest and arm. “We have company.”
“Dinah, let me introduce you to my brother, Faruq.”
Her eyes widened and her mouth mimicked words, though none escaped. Short, manicured nails tapped against the container in open confusion, but that didn’t hold his attention. The hair on his arms shot straight up and the air around him charged like the moment before a great storm. Magic, but not of his kind. The woman’s eyes snapped over to Tig.
Typical, lucky Tig.
He’d found a woman who knew the rules of magic and she’d likely sailed into his arms.
He couldn’t see Tig’s expression without being obvious about it, but something crackled in the air above him and the welling of power dissipated. The woman tossed him a beaming and somewhat relieved smile. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Faruq.”
“No man is deserving of such a beauty.”
Or such a soldier.
Dinah’s soft chuckle led to a sideways smile and she patted her apron. “Totally not what I wanted to wear when meeting his folks for the first time. I should change into something more sensible.”
“Wait. Please.” At Tig’s nod, he carried on with the purpose of the visit. “I’m here for you, dear sister.”
“Only if you want to,
,” his brother interjected.
Ah. More than love then. A
was a life’s partner - the destined, if not always chosen, mate. He knew well the love and heartache associated with that nonsense. Unlike other Magicals, djinn discovered mates by touch. Having been burned once, he hadn’t risked contact with a female again. Fortune had kissed Tig his entire existence, it seemed, as much as it cursed Faruq’s.
“What do you need from me? I’m more than happy to help.”
No point in trying to hide it. Anything he told one would flow to the other. Besides, the story was so impossible, so admittedly stupid, that he’d rather get it over and done with. Faruq took a deep breath, closed his eyes and lay it all on the table. “I tossed my lamp off an ocean liner a few decades ago. I’d hoped to grow old, build a life...well...a human life. Instead, I age a year for every fifteen or twenty that pass. If I can’t have a normal—”
“But this is your normal.” Dinah’s hand shot out and he stepped back to avoid her touch. He didn’t miss her raised eyebrow at the movement.
“Please, don’t confuse my reflexes for rudeness. I’m not accustomed to touching women. Until I figure
out, I thought it best not to risk...you know...that.”
“Do you mean to tell me that you haven’t touched a woman in a century,” Tig asked from the doorway.
“That’s enough, honey. Why don’t you leave Faruq and I alone for a while.” She didn’t speak again until Tig’s grumbling exit. Dinah had a peace about her that covered him like a warm night. He could have loved such a woman well. This time when she reached for him, he didn’t flinch. Tiny hands cupped his face. Hands full of warmth, compassion and love. “I wish your lamp to be here and in your hands.”
“It’s too far away. I only meant to ask if you’d be willing to take a trip over someplace closer.”
Soft laughter bubbled out of her and she poured them both some juice. “I get on planes with my husband. That’s it. I think you should try to grant my wish right here. It’s your lamp – it knows you. It’s your home and it’ll come. It must.”
Fear and anxiety played second string to desperation. He closed his eyes and started to concentrate. Two types of wishes existed. Those he could choose to grant and those he’d been compelled to. The latter came only when someone else had the lamp, making the ocean the perfect hiding place. There at the bottom of the world, there was no danger of anyone forcing him into service. He’d hoped to stumble across a woman he trusted enough to wish it out. If he hadn’t, well, he’d fade away. At least, that’d been the plan.
But fading took too long.
Which led to the first type of wish. The ones whispered on the street or yelled in the night. Or the kind that danced off the lips of his brother’s
just now. Those wishes tugged his heart, wanting to be granted.
The weight of the ocean’s waters lay between him and his sunken treasure. Still, it came, rushing across the world to him. He’d never reached this far or used his powers across such distances.
More than hurt.
It yanked the air right out of his lungs and his thighs shook beneath him. He nearly gave up, but a rush of power, foreign and new, surged into his body. He pried open his heavy lids. Dinah writhed and screamed on the floor beside him, yielding her power, melding it was his. Damn him but he took it, draining her of energy to bolster his own. She cried out, so did he, unused to a witch’s burning strength.
He could almost see the lamp hurtling through time and distance. Could the impossible object have missed him as much as he missed it? No. It made no sense. And yet if inanimate, non-sentient things could cry, Faruq heard it.
Past a whirring of air, Tig yelled for his wife, but Faruq ignored all this, concentrating on the glint of gold across a magical horizon. “So...close.”
Another source of power now, ancient and familiar. Tig’s. A part of him acknowledged that Tig and Dinah’s magic combined to something unstoppable, but he couldn’t dwell on this wonder, too focused on finding his lamp.
And then it stopped. All of it.
All of it, except for a kick to the face by Tig’s muddy boot. “Don’t...ever...use my wife’s...p...power. Damn near killed her.”
But he couldn’t answer. Through tears that bent and twisted its shape, he looked down at his heart and home in his hands. “My lamp.”
“My wife! Look at her.”
He did. Dinah lay stretched across the kitchen floor, drenched in sweat and tears. “I’m fine. It’s okay, Tig.”