In Genie Us by Glaze72 – Chapter 3: A Change Will Do Her Good

In Genie Us by Glaze72 – Chapter 3: A Change Will Do Her Good

Shanaya slept until noon, her body sodden with exhaustion from the events of the night (and morning) before. When she woke, it was to see Gene sitting at her vanity and perusing her cell phone, flicking through the pictures as if he had every right to do so.

“Oh, gurl,” he said, as she levered herself to one elbow, squinting in the bright June sunshine. “Do you ever have it bad.” He waved the phone at her, ignoring her irritated swipe. “Do you know that something like seventy percent of the pics on this thing are of Allison? That’s just embarrassing.”

“Give me that,” she snapped, snatching the phone out of Gene’s hand. “It’s mine. And how did you get past the pass code, anyway?”

He bowed mockingly. “Genie, remember?”

She scowled at him grumpily. “I figured that paintings on the wall of the cave would be more your speed. How do you know how to use this, anyway?”

“Well, aren’t we Little Miss Bitch in the morning.” He raised his eyebrows mockingly. “Do you seriously think the djinn are ignorant of mortal technology? What are we supposed to do if we are summoned? Plead ignorance and ask for some time to study?” He snorted. “As if.”

“Oh, good, you’re awake!” Her mother swept into the room like a ship under full sail. “Gene, I told you not to wake Shanaya up,” she added, giving him a stern look.

“Sorry, Mrs. Singh,” the genie said, putting on a hangdog look. He smirked as he saw Shanaya’s slack-jawed expression.

“And Shanaya,” the older woman added, “You know I don’t mind when you have friends over. But next time give a woman a little warning, all right? I nearly had a heart attack when I came downstairs and Gene was poking in the refrigerator. For a second I thought I had gone sleepwalking and had woken up in the wrong house. If we were a household who kept guns around, I might have shot him first and asked questions later.”

She glanced from her mother to the genie, then back again. “Um. Sorry?”

“Oh, that’s all right. Gene explained things to me and your father. Just be a little more considerate next time, all right? There was a time,” she smiled, “when I would have called the police if I had found a strange man in your bedroom. And then there was a time when I would have been a little relieved to see it.”

A funny feeling gripped her stomach. Had her mother harbored a secret hope that her youngest daughter’s lesbianism was just a passing phase? “Not much chance of that, Mom.”

“Oh, I know.” Her mother moved around the room, straightening things absently. “When are you going to bring home a nice young woman for your father and I to meet? Your sisters are well on their way to giving me enough grandchildren to keep me busy when I’m a wrinkled old lady, but you deserve to be happy, too, dear.” Her glance was keen. “Don’t spend your entire life wishing for the impossible.”

A choked laugh escaped her, which threatened to turn into tears. Impossible. Right! Gods, Mom, if you only knew!

She noted that Gene had disappeared, though whether he had used magic or had simply slipped out of the room while she wasn’t looking she had no idea. Climbing out of bed, she remarked, “Mom. I love you. But this is a conversation I am not going to have until I’ve had some coffee and my breakfast.”

“More like lunch,” Maryam sniffed. “Have you seen what time it is?”

“What did you do to them?” she hissed at Gene when her mother left for her afternoon shift at the clinic, waving at them cheerfully as her car pulled away.

He blinked at her innocently. “Do? Not much, not really. Just a little brain cloud.”

“A little what?”

“Brain cloud. And don’t look so hostile, sweetie. Your face will stick that way. Granted. You don’t plan on using it much longer anyway, but if things don’t work out, you don’t want to end up looking like a woman with a mouthful of lemons.”

“What,” she asked, enunciating each word slowly and clearly, fighting the urge to reach up, grab the genie by the ears, and thump his head against the nearest flat surface, “is brain cloud?”

“Oh, it’s nothing.” He waved a dismissive hand. “it just makes people a little more…susceptible to suggestion. Your parents are sure they’ve heard you talk about me before on the phone, or at dinner, or whatever it is you mortals do. And when I explained to your mother how I was visiting town, here to see my darling old aunt, who is very ill, gods be good to her, well, she couldn’t have been nicer. Fed me a very nice breakfast, too.” He winked at her lewdly. “Good thing I don’t go for women, or I might have been tempted.”

“Shut up, Gene,” she said wearily.

“Oh, don’t worry. Your mom is safe.” A considering pause. “Your father, too. Very nice-looking man, in a button-down sort of way. But so not my type.” He winked. “You know how guys, when they’re bragging about how manly they are, like to say how they’re hung like a stallion?”

“Yes,” she said guardedly.

He snickered. “Well, babes, stallions like to brag about how they’re hung like a djinn.”

She nodded. “All right.” She stood up, leaving her lunch half-eaten on the table. “If you’ll excuse me,” she said, her voice sounding distant. “I’m going to go and pour bleach into my ears.”

His laughter followed her down the hall.

What have I gotten myself into? she thought as she scrubbed her face, trying to get her brain to function in the wake of too much change and not enough sleep. Suddenly, the stories of mischievous djinn, who seemed to delight in making things as difficult for their human masters as possible, seemed frighteningly plausible. She didn’t doubt for a minute that Gene, if he wanted, could land her face-down in a pile of dog-turds if she gave him a good excuse. The genie might be bound to serve her as the one who had summoned him, but she knew well enough that there were many ways of obeying a command to the letter while at the same time making sure it had the worst possible outcome. Tales from her class in Greek mythology swam up into her sleep-fogged mind. King Midas, for example. Or the horrifying tale of Timothus, who wished for immortality, and aged forever, undying, until a goddess took pity on him and turned him into a grasshopper.

She straightened, snapping the towel with a flick of her hands. Well, he won’t get rid of me so easily. I’m going to get what I want.

“So,” she asked, coming back out into the living room. Gene was lazing on the couch, flicking through the television channels. “How does an immortal, almost all-powerful djinn get bound to a necklace, anyway?”

Gene flicked her an irritated look. “Stupidly.”

“Oh?” She put her chin on her hand. “Do tell.”

“There was…this man.”

“A mortal?”

An irritated hiss. “Yes.”

“And you couldn’t keep your trousers buttoned?”

He glared at her. “Do we really have to do this?”

“I think we do, yes.”

“You’re too clever by half.” He slouched back across the cushions. “Fine. There was this man. A mortal, as you said. And betrothed to a woman who, I believe, was your many-times ancestress. Oh, Shanaya. He was sweet and made for a man’s delight. Fine skin, a lovely face, and an ass like a pair of ripe peaches.

“But his betrothed was not a woman who was minded to share her lover’s bounty. And when she discovered the truth, she had her revenge. She had her lover tease my true name out of me. And then she used it to bind me to yon necklace.” He grimaced. “She wasn’t an evil mistress, as such things are counted. Her only wish was that I never approach her beloved again. And her heirs were no worse. But chains of silk are chains nonetheless.”

“Oh. Isn’t there a way to break the bond?” Her mind flew back to a certain movie. “Could I wish you free?”

A humorless laugh. “It’s not that easy. The necklace has to be destroyed.”

“You’re a djinn. How hard could it be?”

In answer, he held up his left hand. Scars were inscribed across his thumb and the first two fingers of his hand. “That’s what happened the last time I tried to pick up the accursed thing. I dare not approach it again. No. It must be a mortal who frees me, the same as it was a mortal who bound me.”

“Oh.” She swallowed. “I’m sorry.”

He looked at her keenly. “As am I, pretty Shanaya. As am I.”

“So what do you do, Gene?” Allison asked cheerfully as they slid into the booth opposite her and Brad.

It was later that day. When Shanaya had called her friend, suggesting that they meet for dinner, and why don’t you bring Brad along, I’m sure the two of you would like to have a conversation that’s not about the wedding, Allison had been almost pathetically eager to accept. Granted, the sports bar was not the setting Shanaya would have chosen, but Brad didn’t like to eat anywhere that didn’t have at least ten or twelve televisions playing sports on the premise.

Both Brad and his fiancée seemed completely unperturbed by Shanaya’s vague explanation that Gene was a friend from school who was in town for a couple of days. Allison gave him a friendly hug when they met in the parking lot, while Brad smirked unpleasantly as he traded a handshake. From the muscles bunching in his forearm, Shanaya thought Brad was trying to squeeze Gene’s hand to a pulp. From the poorly-hidden wince on his face, as Gene returned his grip, it looked like it didn’t turn out the way he planned.

“Well, Shanaya and I met at Louisville, at one of the LGBT meetings. But the college life was so not for me. So tedious and dull, and no time at all for fun, if you get my drift. I dropped out and got a job as a hairdresser.” Gene eyed Allison’s tousled blond curls admiringly. “Oh, sweetie, you have got hair to die for. Shanaya tells me you’re getting married, right? Oh, please let me style you for your big day.” He reached out, fingering a strand. “The things I could do with this, it would make Jesus pop a boner.”

“Hey!” Brad knocked his hand away. “Touch my girl again, and I’ll make you eat your fucking hand.”

“Oh, you big manly stud, you.” Gene batted his eyelashes at his scowling face. “I’m thinking you could give me something much tastier to eat than my hand,” he simpered.

Shanaya’s jaw hung loose, while Allison muffled hysterical giggles behind an upraised palm. Brad’s face, however, went brick-red, and a vein in his temple throbbed dangerously.

Parent Post: In Genie Us by Glaze72 – Chapter 1: Something Old

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