Even a powerful Jinn can’t fix Maalik’s broken heart. Or can they? He’s got three wishes to find out.
Maalik’s always been able to glimpse the future. His gift—his curse—is why he and his brethren found themselves trapped in a network of tunnels for more than three thousand years.
Now that he’s escaped, the path ahead is murky. However, he is determined to right a wrong in his past. For that, he’ll need a Jinn to grant him three wishes.
What he doesn’t expect is to find himself falling for the enemy.
“Don’t you pretend that little tap hurt. Open your eyes, dammit. Face me!”
Maalik’s lashes fluttered, and it took a moment for his vision to clear. He blinked, but what he saw didn’t change.
The incongruity wasn’t of Israfil holding Maalik by the shirt and shaking him but of the slick feline perched on Israfil’s shoulder.
“Is that a cat?” Not hello or sorry for imprisoning you for three thousand years, how’s it going? He was curious about the critter holding on to his enormous friend.
“Aha! You are awake,” Israfil announced.READ MORE
“You have a cat?” he couldn’t help but question because Israfil wasn’t the type to own a pet. And Maalik hadn’t ever seen it either.
“Don’t change the subject. What is wrong with you?”
“Many things apparently,” was his dry reply. Including the fact he no longer had the ring. Damn Israfil for taking it while he was knocked out.
Still holding him by the shirt, Israfil glared. “Let’s start with the fact you’re alive.”
“You don’t say. How did you find me?”
“Not easily, you bastard.” Israfil punched and then dropped Maalik, who rolled before rising.
Maalik wiped at the blood streaming from his broken nose. “Feel better?”
“For now. I might change my mind later,” Israfil grumbled. “You’ve much to answer for, starting with, how is it you’re not dead? Azrael said you jumped in a lake and never came back out.”
“I went somewhere.” Looking for a person and a thing. He found neither.
Israfil snorted. “Obviously. And now you’ve returned, apparently with your own agenda. Again.” His gaze narrowed. “How much of what you told us was a lie?”
“Technically, none of it.”
“Omitted, then,” Israfil growled.
“A few details, perhaps.”
“Three thousand years,” Israfil rumbled. “And you bring us back to save a world overrun with humans.”
Maalik hung his head. “I didn’t see—”
“You overstated the issue to get us to play along with your hero complex.”
Maalik gaped. “My what?”
“You, always claiming a need to save the world. Turns out the world can save itself just fine.”
“I was trying to help.”
“Harrumph.” A disgusted sound rather than a fist. “I take it you’re going to claim stealing this ring is to help the future.”
“Not exactly,” he hedged.
“You’re going to have to do better than that. You stole it. Why?” Israfil crossed his arms, while his cat sat and stared. An incongruous pair.
“You two will be together a long time,” he predicted.
The cat yawned.
Israfil made another noise of irritation. “Stop changing the subject. Why did you take the ring?”
“Why does it matter? It’s not as if you’ll give it back,” Maalik complained.
Israfil stared without blinking, as did his cat. “I don’t have it.”
“What? If you don’t have it, and I don’t…” Their gazes swiveled to the dirty floor underfoot.
“Did you hear it fall?” Maalik asked.
“No. I was too busy keeping you from falling face first into the fire.”
“Thanks. But that wouldn’t have been an issue if you’d not hit me.” The complaining was familiar. How long since he’d argued with his friend?
“I couldn’t help myself. Your face was too tempting a target.”
“We need to find that ring.” Or all Maalik’s plotting would be for naught.
The feline jumped to the ground. They searched even as Maalik kept casting stray glances at the forge. Had he dropped the ring into it?
If so, where was the smoke? The vengeful Shaitan?
As they searched on hands and knees under tables and stools, Israfil grumbled, “Why did you steal the ring, anyhow?”
“I needed it for something.”
Israfil paused in his search. “Only one thing to do with it. You wanted the wishes.”
“Don’t maybe me,” Israfil roared, diving for him. “I can’t believe you wanted to release a Shaitan.”
Maalik rolled and dodged his friend’s—ahem, current enemy’s—hands. “With one Shaitan already dead, the Iblis is contained. It won’t matter if I release it.”
“Are you stupid? Shaitan are dangerous.”
“I have a plan.” Spoken just as Israfil managed to grab hold.
Israfil shook his head. “I know what you’re thinking. You can’t wish her back.”
“I’m aware. But…” Maalik paused. “I wanted to try and make things right.”
At the pathetic words, Israfil released him. “And how did you figure a wish would help? Ellona’s dead, Maal. You have to move on.”
His shoulders lifted and dropped. “I’ve tried. I just can’t. It’s my fault she’s gone.” His fault he was miserable.
“And what did you think releasing the Shaitan would do? Were you going to wish her back to life? We both know there is no magic strong enough to do that.”
“Not entirely true. It just takes the right sacrifice.”
Israfil blinked at him. “You’d give your life?”
“I’d give anything if I could wish the woman I love back into existence.”
“Your wish is my command, Master,” said a husky voice, and a naked female stepped out of the forge.COLLAPSE