Magical redemption, p.1

Magical Redemption, page 1


Magical Redemption

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Magical Redemption

  Magical Redemption


  Nicola E. Sheridan

  Eternal Press

  A division of Damnation Books, LLC.

  P.O. Box 3931

  Santa Rosa, CA 95402-9998

  Magical Redemption

  by Nicola E. Sheridan

  Digital ISBN: 978-1-61572-778-0

  Print ISBN: 978-1-61572-779-7

  Cover art by: Dawné Dominique

  Edited by: Pamela Hopkins

  Copyright 2012 Nicola E. Sheridan

  Printed in the United States of America

  Worldwide Electronic & Digital Rights

  1st North American, Australian and UK Print Rights

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned or distributed in any form, including digital and electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the prior written consent of the Publisher, except for brief quotes for use in reviews.

  This book is a work of fiction. Characters, names, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  This book is dedicated to my readers, your posts and reviews inspire me, and make it all worthwhile.

  Thank you.

  I’d like to acknowledge and thank as always, the Eternal Press crew for your ongoing enthusiasm and support. I’d also like thank the usual suspects, my indulgent and loving family and friends who are always so interested and supportive. Lastly, but definitely not least, my critique partner Loretta Hill, you’re brilliant.

  When your entire existence is a logistical nightmare for the government, you can’t expect good working conditions. In a world where magical beings are considered equal but magic is heavily taxed, existence as a genie is unfairly complicated.

  Chapter One

  “Tell me that wasn’t great.” Tim groaned as he collapsed, breathing heavily in her ear.

  “It wasn’t great,” Jinx replied. She wriggled her way from under his pimply chest and rolled out of the bed.

  “Hey. You can’t say that. I’m you’re master!” Tim caught her arm and tugged her back toward him. She froze him with a withering stare. He stared back at her with watery gray eyes.

  “Nope, not anymore,” Jinx replied coolly. “That was wish three,” she said, gesturing to the crumpled bed.

  Tim’s freckled countenance deepened to an angry red. “That’s not fair,” he whined, sounding more nasal and petulant by the minute. “You didn’t tell me.”

  Jinx narrowed her eyes. “I don’t have to tell you I’m granting a wish. It may simply be granted.” She grimaced, failing to hide her disgust. “That little incident was your last wish.”

  Thank God.

  “What are you calling little?” Tim sounded belligerent.

  Jinx raised an eyebrow then slunk her gaze down the pasty planes of his belly to the wild bush of hair hiding his now flaccid and tiny member.

  “Oi,” he exclaimed and wrenched the sheet over himself. Despite his evident embarrassment, he suddenly couldn’t take his eyes off Jinx’s massively inflated E-cup breasts.

  Jinx narrowed her eyes again, and with a softly uttered spell, sinuous arms of shimmering, rainbow-hued smoke surrounded her—the tell-tale sign of genie magic. Underneath the smoke, the swollen breasts deflated to their natural and very modest A-cup. With a cruel sneer and a deliberate flash of her white teeth, she shook her pale-blonde hair. More smoke appeared, and her hair turned back to a rich, dark brown. Tim snapped his mouth shut as disappointment flooded his watery eyes.

  “You don’t have to change back, do you?” He sounded a little plaintive.

  Without another word, her nose expanded and stretched. It may have been called a “Roman nose” but really it was Lebanese. Large and hooked, it gave her the look of a hungry eagle. Still keeping their gaze locked, Jinx clothed herself in a form-fitting pair of black jeans and a scorching red blouse that hung from her frame, hiding it from Tim’s gaze.

  “Awww, Jinx. Come on.”

  Anger rushed through her body like a tsunami of heat. She was forced to appear as Tim requested for weeks. She waited patiently for him to make his last wish―which he had, without knowing it.

  * * * *

  After an intolerably long evening surrounded by his geeky, leering friends while drinking cheap beer and playing computer games, Tim let slip his last wish. “I wish I could fuck you,” he whispered drunkenly in the taxi home. Jinx felt her stomach twist. Within a swirl of spicy smoke, they were in bed. She swallowed the sour bile rising in her throat at the humiliating memory, but she had so many bitter memories, it was hard.

  * * * *

  “You are no longer my master, and this is my natural appearance,” Jinx finally said. She turned away from Tim and stalked from the room.

  “I’m not getting rid of you. You might not look like Pamela Anderson, and you might not have to grant my wishes, but I’m keeping you,” he called from the bedroom.

  She sighed and ran a hand through her dark hair, snagging it on a tangle, then turned back and re-entered the bedroom.

  Tim was laying there, his face expectant. As far as masters went, he wasn’t so bad. Jinx knew it. Through her years as a genie, she suffered at the hands of countless masters. Some wanted sex, some wanted fame, most wanted money–and she gave it. She could not refuse them until three wishes were taken. Such was the curse of the genie. Now, with wish-taking made illegal and the rise of the “magical gains tax”, the bestowing of wishes was difficult. Any financial advancement through magical means was strictly prohibited and always investigated. These constraints made the new masters harder to please, and they almost always wanted their pound of flesh–literally. The life of a genie was a cursed one, and Jinx was thoroughly sick of it.

  “You’ll forget about me,” she said, watching him carefully. “It’s the way of genies.”

  “I won’t forget about you.” His face crumpled, displaying all the emotional intelligence of a three-year-old.

  “You won’t be able to help it,” Jinx replied softly. “It’s part of the genie curse and how my lamp gets passed on. You begin to forget about me and give away the lamp. It’s just what happens.”

  “How could I forget?” he asked softly.

  Saints preserve me, she thought. “You just will. You could save me a lot of bother and just give the lamp away now if you like.”

  “No,” Tim cried and staggered up from the bed, still a little drunk. “No way.”

  She rolled her eyes. “Okay, so we’re stuck until you forget me, then.”

  “I won’t forget,” he muttered again before pulling on a pair of stained and vaguely smelly jeans.

  “Mmmhmm.” Jinx nodded and turned back to the kitchen.

  “We’re still going to London. I told Aunt Dianne we’d house-sit,” Tim called. She heard him padding up quickly behind her.

  She froze. “You’re not my master, so I’m not taking you there.”

  “Well, I’ll take you, then,” he retorted.

  Jinx fingered the golden crucifix around her neck and looked down her long nose at him.

  “How?” she asked. “You can’t just stow my lamp away in your luggage. They test everything for magical ions at the airport. You don’t want to be caught smuggling artifacts.”

  “You’re registered, aren’t you?” he asked.

  “You know I am.
She felt her heart squeeze with concern.

  “Well, we can go legitimately. I’ll buy you the ticket.”

  Jinx looked around the room. “I don’t want to go to London. I like Perth.”

  Perth always was Jinx’s home. She lived there almost all her life and had no desire to leave, despite the fact that her family, her friends, and her community now shunned her. She bitterly tossed the maudlin thought aside.

  “Too bad. You’re coming with me.” Tim jutted his jaw.

  “Tim,” Jinx said soothingly, “I’m not your girlfriend. I was your genie. You need to let me go.”

  “You want me to hand you over to Darren?” His voice suddenly sounded croaky.

  Jinx threw her mind back to earlier in the day. Darren, Martin, Jason, Joseph; it didn’t matter. They were all disgusting. They were all men, and she didn’t want to serve any of them.

  “No, I don’t want Darren to be my master.” She sniffed.

  “Well, I’m giving you a choice,” he clarified. “Darren or London?”

  “A choice? Genies don’t get choices. Why do you want me to go with you, anyway?”

  “Because I like you, and I want you to keep me company.”

  “Ugh.” She banged her smooth, tanned forehead with the palm of her hand. “How many times do I have to tell you? I can’t keep you company. You’ve had all your wishes.” Jinx walked over and grabbed his chin with her thumb and forefinger. She glared into his watery eyes. “You. Will. Forget. About. Me.”

  “No. I. Won’t,” Tim retorted, tugging his chin free.

  Jinx put her hands on her hips. “How do you plan on remembering me when the genie curse starts working on your mind?”

  “I’ll write notes. I’ve already written a diary.”

  God. “Buxom blonde bimbo genie does gamer nerd”. Please don’t let that one fall into the wrong hands.

  “Uh huh. Great. Well, it won’t work,” she replied.

  “We can try.” He jutted his jaw, again.

  Jinx felt like she was on an exercise bike in the Tour De France and getting nowhere.

  “Right. Whatever,” she muttered, and with a swathe of spicy smoke disappeared from view.

  Later that night, when Tim wheedled her registration papers from her and bought some cheap online flights to London, Jinx sat broodingly under the back verandah. She stared over the gloomy, weed-ridden backyard. A small willy-wagtail sang in the night–a sure sign Perth’s summer was just around the corner. It would be winter in London. She shuddered and wished she could just go home.

  Where is home? It’s not like I’d be welcomed back. She closed her eyes and imagined some of her mother’s homemade Lebanese food. Her mouth watered. With a wave of her hand and a small explosion of colorful smoke, a replica meal appeared on the dusty outside dining suite before her. She tore some flat bread with her hands and scooped up the curry. It tasted good but not quite right. Sighing, she pushed it away and licked her fingers clean. She wondered how her mother was; she was only a few suburbs away but really, it was much more than that–she was a lifetime away.

  Jinx had been a genie for fourteen years now, cursed illegally in the middle of the “caring nineties”. She reckoned she was probably the youngest genie alive in Australia. If she looked up the Australian Bureau of Magical Statistics, she could more than likely qualify that claim, but what did it matter?

  “Jinx.” Tim’s nasal call echoed from the tiny house. “Are you coming or what?”

  Taking a last glance at the gloomy backyard, she erased the small Lebanese meal with a wave of her hand.

  “It’s Star Wars,” Tim called, again. “Gotta love Leia!”

  Jinx rolled her eyes, but a reluctant smile tugged her lips.

  “Coming,” she replied and strolled into the lounge room.

  Unsurprisingly, Tim’s brother Jason had arrived and was coiled on the cracked leather couch, staring at the large-screen television. An IT whiz like his brother, Jason also looked remarkably similar. He locked his gaze on the small porcelain incense lamp and darted it to Jinx.

  “So...” he began, but Tim was already moving. With a swiftness that belied his gawky frame, Tim scooped the lamp into his arms and carted it out of the room. “Has Tim taken all his wishes, yet?”

  Jinx grinned broadly and was about to open her mouth to reply when Tim’s bellow echoed throughout the house.

  “No. I haven’t.”

  Jason looked to the corridor and then back to Jinx, a perplexed frown growing on his brow. “Then, why are you hiding that lamp? You don’t want me to touch it, do you?”

  “I’m not hiding it,” Tim retorted and banged the corridor door closed.

  “No?” Jason grinned. “It looks like it to me.” A sly glint grew in his eyes. “You said you’d share her...”

  “Well, I’m not.” Tim’s face was turning puce.

  “Boys, boys.” Jinx sunk down on the other side of the couch. “Let’s just watch the movie, hey?” She felt trouble brewing.

  The sad fact about genies was that they brought trouble with them. Jinx, as her name suggested, was no exception.

  * * * *

  Lucian was in a world of pain. How long had he been hanging there? He didn’t know. The icy, London air sliced around his barely clad body with the precision of a surgical blade. He shivered. From his invisible cell, he could see and smell people eating at a cafe. A few brave-hearted souls ate in the icy alfresco, huddling around their hot cappuccinos, oblivious to the tortured man hanging invisibly a few meters above them. Lucian’s stomach screamed with hunger.

  “Hester. Fess,” he groaned, hoping against hope they would return. “Come!”

  Lucian closed his eyes then sunk his chin down onto his chest. He bit his lip to stem the agony. His hands strapped high above his head were dead from lack of blood. For the millionth time, he cursed himself for his foolishness―he should never have betrayed the Family.

  After several excruciating hours, Lucian reopened his eyes as he heard a soft padding on the cell floor. Bleary-eyed but relieved, he registered the forms of Hester and Fess.

  “You came back,” he croaked.

  The two Hellcats stared implacably at their master. Their coats, more flame than fur, flickered in the growing dark as they stepped closer. The odor of burning toast filled the magical cell.

  “Did you bring anything?” Lucian gasped at the ripple of agony smashing down his spine as he raised his head.

  Hester, the female Hellcat, dropped a bottle of water on the invisible cell floor. Lucian looked down in pain. He saw the heads of pedestrians walking beneath him. He looked at the bottle as it rolled uselessly on the transparent floor.

  “Hester, I can’t drink that. My arms are trapped.” He groaned and wrestled for a brief moment with the magical constraints that hung him. The Hellcat snarled and bared ebony teeth. She looked annoyed. “Fess?” Lucian asked. The second Hellcat stalked up behind his mate with a dead pigeon in his mouth. Its neck was broken, and a tiny but swollen tongue protruded from its parted beak. A low moan slipped unbidden from Lucian’s mouth. “How am I supposed to eat or drink this?”

  The Hellcats’ red eyes reflected nothing but irritation. Previously, they had tried tugging Lucian down but had only succeeded in tearing the muscles in his arms and destroying the hems of his trousers. Some part of Lucian wanted to be thankful for their efforts to bring him food and water, but the other part was furious at their inability to help.

  Lucian’s throat burned with thirst. He caught sight of the bottle of water, again. This was torture upon torture.

  “I’m going to fucking die here,” he cried.

  * * * *

  Jinx sat on the airplane beside Tim, who was deeply absorbed in the latest Doctor Who book. She stared out the window. She was leaving Perth for the f
irst time since she became a genie.

  Who knows when I’ll be back? she wondered.

  In the past week, Tim was becoming increasingly forgetful. Twice, he forgot her name. Last night, he woke the house up by screaming as she nipped out of the toilet after a midnight wee. He thought she was a cat-burglar. After that, he left post-its everywhere. There were post-its explaining what Jinx was, what they doing, and how he planned to keep from forgetting her. She knew with chilling clarity that she would end up with a new master in London.

  An unfortunate side effect of the genie curse was that without permission, she couldn’t touch her lamp herself. Only with a master’s express permission, or because of his life-threatening need, could she change the location of her lamp. As Jinx was technically between masters, she was unable to budge it one centimeter and could only move in a one kilometer radius around it. Now, en route to London, Jinx was filled with dread. Where she would ultimately end up was anyone’s guess.

  “Hey...” Tim murmured. He looked up from his book. “I’m glad you’re coming.”

  “Hmph.” Jinx snorted. “Like I had a choice.”

  He had the grace to look crestfallen. It was something of an epic even getting Jinx onto the airplane. As a registered Magical Being and a genie, she was thoroughly examined by Immigration. They knew as well as she did that it was unlikely she’d return to Australia anytime soon. They informed the British Department of Magical Beings of her impending arrival and activated her registration there. Jinx secretly wished they hadn’t. She’d rather like to be unregistered, so she could use her magic freely. Now registered in London, like in many cities throughout the world, her magical ions were traceable. Great care would have to be taken when and where she used her magic.

  They finally landed in Heathrow. Jinx was tired, having been unable to sleep on the plane. Tim looked very confused and kept forgetting his backpack, where her lamp resided. Three times, she ran up to him to tell him he left it behind.

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