Read Jinni's Wish, Book 4 Kingdom Series Online

Authors: Marie Hall

Tags: #paranormal romance, #fantasy romance, #ghost romance, #fairytale romance, #fairytale retelling, #marie hall, #kingdom series, #gerards beauty, #her mad hatter, #red and her wolf

Jinni's Wish, Book 4 Kingdom Series (7 page)

BOOK: Jinni's Wish, Book 4 Kingdom Series
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With that, she was gone…

 

***

 

“You liked her,” Paz said, slowly lowering
her hands.

The canvas which had once been a pristine
white, was now a picture of a proud genie, wearing Eastern garb,
cream colored vest open, exposing the long lean muscle of bronzed
skin. The cream turban upon his head sat as regally as any
crown.

Standing before him was a small child dressed
in yards of pink fabric. Black braids entwined like snakes around
the crown of her head.

The magic was Jinni’s, but Paz had painted
the picture and the likeness was astonishing. From the gilt framed
frescoes on the wall, to the jade veins cutting through the marble
halls of King Abdullah’s palace.

Jinni cocked his head, studying the painting.
It was so lifelike, that he wondered why he couldn’t smell the
sweet scent of jasmine on the air, or the roasted haunch of lamb
cooking for dinner. Shaking his head, he had to blink twice to
recall he was not within the walls of the palace, but in a cold,
sterile hospital that reeked of antiseptics and death.

For a moment it’d felt so real. He looked at
Paz. “What you paint . . . it has a magic all its own.”

She smiled, water glistened in her cocoa rich
eyes. “Thank you.”

Her skin was so pale, tinted with a light
shade of blue, but coldly beautiful all the same.

“Yes, I liked the girl,” he admitted
reluctantly, something he’d never spoken aloud to another.

Sad, haunting eyes roamed the length of his
face.
So beautiful
, the thought came unbidden and he jerked.
Instinct urging him to leave, to back off, that he’d sworn an oath
to never allow himself the luxury of such thoughts. He clenched his
jaw, wishing with all his soul that he’d feel the ache of teeth
grinding on teeth.

Physical pain so much better than the
metaphysical memory of it, physical pain fleeting, but still
something you could sink your teeth into and forget all else,
because it demanded complete attention. But without that
distraction, all he had left was the guilt and it ate at him like a
goblin gnawing on a thigh bone.

“You don’t sound happy about it,” she said
softly, tracing the swirl of black color that was Aria’s hair.

He kept his eyes on the floor as he muttered,
“I can’t be.”

After a long pause, he looked up at her,
expecting to see curiosity staring back at him. Censure even, as if
by divine will she knew the secret he hid. But she wasn’t looking
at him.

Well, not the real him. Paz was staring at
the painting, her eyes glued to the tall figure of the man he used
to be. Her slim finger tracing the fine lines and swirls of paint,
as if memorizing each stroke.

Jinni trembled as he watched her finger slide
slowly down the length of his neck, across the width of his once
broad chest, down each leg. But it was the spark of fire in her
eyes that made him groan and wonder at the thoughts behind it--
wishing he could feel the touch of her caress, envious of a sheet
of canvas. How pathetic he’d become.

“So that was your first day?” she finally
said, turning back to him.

He nodded, not trusting himself to speak.

A secret simmer of a smile graced a corner of
her plump lips. “Did you ever see them as something other than
beetles?”

He snorted. “My arrogance knew no bounds. But
yes, eventually I did come to befriend a few.”

“Like Aria?” She narrowed her eyes. “And who
else?”

Standing under flat lighting, awful
fluorescent lights bouncing off her shimmery form, her hair looked
like rich oil-- liquid and black and tempting to touch. It spilled
around her head in a halo effect, wild and wavy, he wanted to twine
an end around his finger, bury his nose in the crook of her neck
and inhale her scent deep into his lungs.

Paz looked so pure, innocent, and lovely.
She’d been named well, because whenever he was around her, the
guilt and anger bled out, leaving only her peace behind.

“I wish I could touch your hair the way you
touched that painting, Paz,” the words spilled from him, he should
take them back, wish them away, unspoken.

The center of his chest flared, the spot
where he’d placed the necklaces. As if they woke and sparked to
life. He knew what that meant.

Jinni closed his eyes, confused because he
shouldn’t want this as desperately as he did. It wasn’t fair to
her.

“The first time I saw you,” her words were
close, whispered in his ear--Jinni shivered--“I felt the currents
of your static roll against me. Do you feel mine now?”

She smelled of fresh turned earth, new life,
and liquid sun. But he did not feel her. Every day was getting
worse. Her eyes were closed, her mouth slightly parted. Jinni
swallowed, if he was a man, he’d kiss her.

Desperate to remember, he ran his nose along
her cheek, feeling nothing but void beneath him. She shuddered, her
mouth tipping into a slight curve. “I can feel you. Can you feel
me?”

There was such hope in her voice. She opened
her eyes and he did it. He leaned in, and brushed his lips against
hers, trying to remember what it would feel like to touch her
again.

Wisps of memories came to him. The firmness
of flesh, the give and take of two souls discovering one another,
the taste of berries settling on his tongue… he swallowed the sigh
of disappointment and uttered a lie. “I feel you, Paz.”

Her smile, more brilliant than a diamond,
made him smile in return.

She looked out the window. “It’s morning
again. Are you going to leave me now?”

He should. He should go and never come back,
be the coward he wanted to be. Run away from her, from this, from
the story that must be told.

Jinni shook his head. “I will stay.”

“Then tell me more,” she whispered and held
out her hands, waiting for him to grab them as before. Another roll
of canvas fluttered open before them.

 

Chapter 7

 


Little princess, arise,” Jinni whispered,
tip-toeing softly into her palace chambers. Gauzy drapings of the
finest silk adorned marble walls, a colorful splash of teals and
azure. The princess was fond of water.

In the year he’d been the King’s royal
vizier he’d gotten to know the child well. Their land was fertile
and rich, overflowing with milk and honey. But apart from the small
river that bisected their boundaries, water wasn’t in much
profusion out here.

She poured over tomes, enamored by the
Western side of Kingdom and the miles and miles of deep blue and
turquoise waters. He could never quite understand her fascination,
for Jinni the beauty of this land was in its ruggedness, in the
endless rolling hills of sand and the swaying palms. The heat that
sizzled through his veins and the dry smell of jasmine and salt,
more and more he forgot the stars he’d been born in. This was his
land, and he never wanted to leave.


Princess,” he whispered harder. It was
forbidden for any member of the palace, aside from her handmaidens
and royal family, to ever visit this side of the tower. “I’ve
brought you a trinket.”

A slight breeze pulsed through the room,
flapping the silk curtains and fingering gently through her riotous
curls. She rubbed her eyes, squinting in the purplish lavender
spill of moonlight and sat up. “Jinni?”

He grinned, cupping the hard gift behind his
back and nodded. “I’ve found one.”

Sleep fled her eyes instantly, she shoved
thick curls behind her large ears and gestured with her tiny palm
for him to hand it over.

He held up his finger. “I do not know if you
deserve this, princess.”

Brown eyes turned softly pleading as she
clasped her hands together. “I’ve been a very good girl, Jinni.
Lady Ellie demanded I eat all my grains this morning and you know
how much I despise cook’s grains. Mush and tasteless, but I
swallowed it all. I did not even argue with papa when he demanded I
play with that rotten Ishmael, who always thinks it is funny to
dunk the ends of my hair in ink.” She held up a curl of hair, a
woeful expression turning her lips.

He grinned. Never in his life could he have
expected this moment. A djinn who chose to leave his place in the
stars to live amongst humans. Knowing humans would be in awe of
their great power, but never able to see the creature beneath it--
the one who yearned for friendship and affection, a morsel of
kindness that did not involve the granting of a wish.

For most djinns it was not a problem. Jinni
had never known of another like him. Most enjoyed their vaunted
position of power. But the day Aria had accused him of looking
lonely, she’d been right. He’d always ached to have a friend. The
fact that he wanted one so badly settled like a hot coal in his
gut. Should anyone ever see him now, he’d bring shame to his
people.

Jinni shrugged the offending thoughts
aside.


That is not why.”

Aria crossed her arms, eyes quizzical. “Why
then?”


Because when Ishmael dunked your hair in
ink, you should have asked me to turn him into a toad. That you did
not offended me greatly.”

She giggled, covering her mouth with her
hand to try and prevent anyone from overhearing them out in the
hallway. Sentries walked the halls routinely, especially upon the
royals’ floor.


Father says I’m to marry that rotten
Ishmael someday and I’d much rather a man than a toad.”


Oh well,” he nodded sagely, “wise
decision.”

They shared a secret smile.


What treasures have you found me this
time, Jinni? Is it the star in the sand?”

Withdrawing his hand from his back he slowly
opened his hand, revealing a hardened, cream-colored starfish.

Aria gasped, her small fingers trembling as
she grasped onto a spindly end. She jumped from the bed, a bundle
of energy racing toward the treasure chest hidden in her closet.
Her navy blue bed gown flowed behind her like water in motion.

Jinni reclined on the bed as she pulled the
small wooden box full of her ‘treasures’ out. Bits of things he’d
scrounged up when given time away from his duty to the king. It was
difficult for Jinni to ever get away and the few times he did, he
always made side errands to seek out new articles for her
chest.

She had a vial of sand from the Never Sea, a
mummified seahorse, and now her starfish. Running back, a
breathless smile on her face, bare feet barely heard above the
rustle of her nightdress, she held the box out for his inspection.
She’d laid her treasures reverently upon a turquoise silk
scarf.


Thank you, Jinni, thank you!”

He was getting ready to say “you’re welcome”
when he heard the unmistakable swish of a woman’s skirt move away
from the door. Aria’s eyes grew wide and she swallowed hard. “Oh,
Jinni, you should go. You should…”

He shook his head and jumped to his feet.
“No, princess.”


But if you’re caught, they could kill
your body and then you’ll be gone from me forever.”

Tweaking the tip of her nose, he moved
toward the door. “Get in bed now, Aria.”

He didn’t look back to see if she’d
listened, instead he opened her door gently. Heart in his throat,
not fear for himself, but for Aria if he’d been discovered in her
chambers. Jinni would never dream of harming the girl, or of even
entertaining the idea of mating her, she was but a child. But the
law was law and in this realm, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a
tooth still ruled. Not only would he be executed, but the princess’
reputation would be soiled. Child or no.

Quietly he exited, glancing both ways, he
spotted the bulky shadow half hidden behind a large potted
fern.

There was only one way to ensure Aria’s
reputation stay intact. Jinni withdrew his hooked cutlass.


I will not tell.”

Jinni sucked in a harsh breath, the voice
reminded him of velvet-- all soft and luxurious, and so
tantalizingly familiar. He narrowed his eyes. “Who are you?”

Then she stepped out of the shadow and his
eyes widened.

She was beautiful.

As any Queen would be.

Her hair gleamed like rich oil in moonlight,
her skin was a dusky hue and bronzed golden by the fierce sun.
Piercing green eyes held his and fire burned a hot trail down his
spine.


Queen Nala,” his voice came out choked as
he quickly thrust the cutlass back in its sheath. Jinni bowed low.
“Forgive me, Queen.”


Arise, Jinni. There is no need for
formality around me. Not now.” Her words were soft and coaxing, but
the shiver that raced across his skin and the heat that burned in
his gut was anything but soft.

His gaze roamed slowly up her bare feet,
along the peek-a-boo bit of ankle and then up the long expanse of
legs and waist. To the ripe fullness of her breasts (and here he
swallowed harder), before he finally came to rest on the beauty of
her face.

King Abdullah’s newest acquisition held a
whisper of a smile on her lips. Younger than the King by a good
decade, if not more, she was the epitome of sensuality and verve.
Married only two weeks ago, the Queen had kept to herself.

Until now.


I came to see the girl, though I see,”
she cocked her head, “she was not alone.”

The husky tenor of her voice rocked through
Jinni’s core and made his legs tremble. “I should not have gone to
her. But she is lonely and considers me--”


A friend?” She stepped forward, her
emerald green robes crinkling slightly with her movement.

The rich scent of nightshade and sage
perfumed the air between them as she lifted up on tiptoe. Then her
finger was pressed against his mouth and he knew he was drowning in
her kohl-rimmed gaze.

BOOK: Jinni's Wish, Book 4 Kingdom Series
2.66Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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