“Alayna, stop you look beautiful”, Leven said while keeping his eyes on the road. He looked good sitting in the driver seat of my Porsche Panamera.
“I’m just nervous. You don’t think I look expensive do you?” I wondered, looking down at my designer dress.
“No, you just look well put together and made out of money”, he smirked.
He was obviously having the time of his life right now driving in and out of freeway traffic, doing about eighty miles per hour.
“Leven, you’re going to get a ticket”, I warned.
He laughed, “I don’t get tickets. See, I have this thing called magic powers.”
“Right, but can your magic powers keep me from vomiting all over my new car?”
“If you prefer a magic carpet instead, that can be arranged. Although I will warn you, carpets don’t have seat belts.”
“Leven you better not turn my car into a carpet!”
“Then let me drive Laynie, you’re safe with me.”
We arrived at Sabrina’s parent’s huge lake house with plenty of time to rehearse how we met. I fidgeted in the front seat trying to pointlessly smooth out the front of my beaded dress.
“Laynie, do you want to change?” Leven offered holding out his hand.
I though about it for a moment.
“Here, how about this? Feel better?”
With a soft whoosh I was dressed in a leather dominatrix outfit equipped with a paddle and thigh high leather boots.
He laughed a hardy laugh and then changed me back into my dress. “I’ve always wanted to do that”, he continued to laugh.
“Yeah very funny”, I muttered checking my hair and makeup in the mirror, making sure that everything was back in it’s place. “Please, don’t do any magic in here, if you get caught…”
“Listen, if the food sucks, I’m bringing in reinforcements”, he said trying to look serious.
“Leven, you can’t just bring your own chefs to my best friend’s engagement party.”
“Fine, I’ll just sneak off into a guest room and eat a sub and buffalo wings or something.”
I gave Leven a serious look. I couldn’t decide on if he was serious or not.
“Look at this place, I’m sure there’s plenty of rooms to choose from, I won’t get caught”, he chuckled.
“Be on your best behavior Leven, I mean it”, I said softly.
“Alright, alright, you win”, he moped.
“No, you did”, I said leaning in to give him a kiss.
“Hi! You made it, I’m so glad you were able to get off work”, Sabrina beamed giving me a hug. “What are you wearing? Valentino?” She gasped.
Shit, she noticed. “No, no, psh!” I waved my hand. It’s not real”, I chuckled.
“Well it’s beautiful, where did you–”
I cut her off before she said anything else. “–Online”, I rushed. “Sabrina, this is my, uh, boyfriend Leven”, I said gesturing towards Leven standing off to the side.
“Leven McFadden”, he spoke up, gently shaking her hand.
“Oh, I– uh, hi, I’m Sabrina Leaks soon to be Mrs. William Hardy”, she smiled with a hint of amusement on her face.
I fought hard to contain the smile from spilling all over my face.
“Leven, you mind if I steal her for a bit?” Sabrina smiled interlocking her arm in mine.
“No not at all. You two go off and celebrate, nice meeting you Sabrina”, he nodded. He stood there with his hands in his pocket looking so incredibly handsome. Why was she dragging me away from all his fineness?
“There’s refreshments right through there if you’re hungry or something to drink if you’d like”, she offered.
Just before Sabrina pulled me away, Leven gave me a simple kiss on the lips that made my ankles almost feel too weak to stand in these heels. And he’s the one warning me about falling.
“Will do”, he said never taking his eyes off mine.
Once we made it out of ear shot of Leven and away from eavesdroppers, Sabrina wasted no time getting the low down on Leven.
“When did this happen?” She whispered loudly although no one was near us.
“What do you mean?” I smiled, enjoying my moment.
“Oh, don’t act coy Alayna. I’m you’re best friend and you didn’t even tell me that you were dating or that you had a freakin’ boyfriend that excuse me, but that looks like freakin’ Boris Kodjoe had a threesome with Dwayne Johnson and Michael Ealy. He is absolutely gorgeous!” She swooned.
“Maybe Boris Kodjoe”, I agreed fanning myself.
“Seriously, my God, excuse me for being shocked but this is all new to me–”
“I didn’t want to jinx myself just incase it didn’t work out. You know how hard it is for me to find a guy that I like and I really like him.”
“So are you guys serious?” Sabrina could barely contain her excitement.
“I mean we’re not getting married or anything, but I think I am falling in love with him”, I gushed.
“Awww! I’m so happy for you!” She squealed clapping her hands.
“Thanks! I’m happy for you too!” I said genuinely happy for my friend. “Come on, let’s go. I’m missing my man already.”
“I hope I wasn’t gone too long?” I said once I located Leven making small talk with one of Sabrina’s uncles.
“No, not at all. Did you ladies catch up?”
“Yeah”, I smiled.
“Hey, it was nice talking to you Thomas”, Leven said to Sabrina’s uncle.
“Yeah you too man, enjoy the party.” Thomas shook Leven’s hand and offered his seat to me.
“Thank you”, I said politely as he walked by.
“Beautiful isn’t it?” I asked speaking on the decor.
“Yes. It’s a first for me. I didn’t know what to expect.”
“Where’s William?” I wondered.
“I think he’s over there with his brothers”, Leven nodded in the direction towards the sitting room.
“Have you met him?” I wondered. I know I wasn’t gone that long.
“No, I over heard someone people telling him congratulations, so I figured he was the guy. Seems like a nice couple.”
“Yeah”, I sighed.
I knew that I was going to get a text message from Sabrina after she walked Leven and I to the car.
“He drives a freakin’ Porsche?” She text me within minutes of leaving her parent house.
“LOL, yes!” I responded.
“We need to do lunch so I can get all the details, I still can’t believe you kept this from me. TTYL in enjoy Mr. Grey Eyes.”
“K”, was all I responded.
I did feel a little better but I couldn’t help but face reality.
“Everything okay?” Leven asked, still driving twenty over the speed limit.
“Yeah, I’m fine”, I lied.
I had been lost in my thoughts most of the ride home. I couldn’t help but imagine myself being in Sabrina’s shoes right now. You would think that as a millionaire, I wouldn’t entertain myself with thoughts of love and marriage but the truth is, I wanted those things more then all the money in the world. Money couldn’t buy me true love.
“If I had to chose one thing to love about you, it would be the fact that you wear you’re emotions on your sleeve. See, I don’t have to try to guess with you. You’re kind of easy to read and I like that. So, I kind of know if you’re not being honest with me about being fine. Unless you want me to use my physic abilities to figure out what you’re not telling me.”
“You can do that?” Suddenly I was worried that he could read my mind all along.
“No, not really but I do want to know what’s troubling you Alayna.”
I could tell he was sincere and if we were together, I didn’t want to be the one to start the relationship off with a lie.
I took a deep breath before I spoke,”I’m just feeling some kind of way about the engagement party, that’s all.”
“What do you mean?”
“I guess I just feel like, I was ready for something that didn’t come my way, then I met you and…” I let my words trail off because I’m sure he knew where I was going with this and I didn’t really want to come out and say it.
“Well like you said, we have a year to–”, he began to say but I didn’t feel like being told what reality was.
“–I know Leven but then what? There’s got to be a way that I can set you free or for us to be together–”, I insisted.
“–I mean what if we just tried? What if I used my wish and just–”
The way he said my name made me feel as if I had cross some kind of line or something. His tone was sharp and clear.
“Alayna”, He spoke softly this time, “You’re not the first woman who has fell for me and tried to set me free.”
I felt the blow probably more than I should have felt it. Although, I knew there was no possible way that Leven would have been single or not interested in other women over the past eleven year. Still, the thought would have been nice if it was true.
“There was a woman, we began a relationship and towards the end of the year, she used her last wish to wish for my freedom. Ultimately, she ended up loosing her last wish and me in the process.”
There was nothing I could say to argue with him about something that he had actually experienced.
“What about marriage?” I asked quietly.
I waited patiently for his answer as he put the car in park and turned to face me.
“There’s nothing, that no one has not tried Alayna. I’ve tried, I’ve searched for answers. From marriage, children… there’s nothing. The only way out of this, is through death and that wouldn’t do any of us any good, even if I were to die and come back, I would still resume my position as a genie.”
I felt the tightness in my throat began to form as my eyes began to sting and water up. I didn’t want to loose him before we had a chance to grow into something.
“Laynie, let’s not ruin tonight with worries of tomorrow. We have eleven months, that’s a lot of time and anything could happen in between that time. Who knows, you might fall in love with some guy that can put a ring on your finger and give you children. I can’t–”
“The only guy that I’m falling in love with, is you”, the truth caught me off guard and I could no longer keep the tears from falling. I had fallen for him.
Through the blur I heard him sigh and felt him lean over to kiss my lips.
“What are you doing crying over me Love?”
I shook my head, I knew I was being foolish with my heart. Pull yourself together, I scolded myself.
I cleared my throat, “I know, I know, I’m sorry.” I averted my eyes from looking into his handsome face. I stared at the gray quilted interior and crocodile leather on the arm rest. I shook my head, I had this beautiful car, with this beautiful man next to me and yet, I still wasn’t happy.
“Don’t be sorry, I shouldn’t have tried to pursue you. I should have known better, I do know better”, he huffed.
“Leven this wasn’t one sided. It’s not like you tricked me into falling for you, I just did.”
“I know, I just wish– I wish I was strong enough to tell you that I don’t love you.”
We sat in the car silently, reflecting on our current situation and new found discovery.
“Why don’t I come back in about an hour or so? You know, give us a little bit of time to think things through… then we will talk when I get back.”
“Okay, that’s fine”, I shrugged.
He lifted my chin so that I was looking at him in his beautiful gray eyes. “Is that okay?” He asked.
“Yes”, I nodded forcing a smile.
“Okay”, he smiled, “I love you Alayna.”
“I love you too Leven.”
As quick as the relief settled in, I felt the flood gates of my emotions coming rushing back as I watched him fade away.
I took a long shower and thought about my options. There had to be some way to free him, there had too. I decided that once I got out of the shower, I would turn to the powers of the internet to find some kind of answer, anything. There was no way, I was going to accept loosing him as an option. I picked up the bottle and placed it on my desk next to my laptop.
“I wish, I could wish for your freedom so we could be together”, I sighed. I sat at the computer and typed in the word “How to free a Genie.” With a “whoosh”, Leven appeared with the look of despair taking over his handsome face.
I stood up immediately, “Leven! What’s the matter? What happened?”
He stood there, broken, as if his world just crumbled in front of him. He slowly lifted his arms and turned his palms up towards the ceiling.
He shook his head, “Why?” He’s voice cracked with emotion.
“What Leven, I don’t–” My body fell cold, my heart felt heavy as if I had just got my heart blown out of my chest as I realized what I had done. I had unintentionally wished for his freedom causing me to loose my wish.
I watched as Leven began to fade away but this time, it was different, it was as if he was actually leaving me and for good.
“But I have one more wish! I have one more wish! Wait! Leven! Leven! Leven!”, I cried.
By the time I tried to throw myself onto his fading body, it was too late, he was gone and so was the bottle.
I fell hard on the floor and pain shot through my body from all over. I laid on the floor not able to feel but feeling everything, how could I have been so stupid? I grabbed my throbbing head and pulled at the sides of my hair. “He’s gone”, I sobbed, “he’s gone.”
One week later…
A week had gone by and I had not seen or heard from Leven. It was as if he never existed. The only validation that I had of his existence was the spare toothbrush in the bathroom, the scent of him still on my pillows and the balance in my bank account. The heartbreak was devastating. I spent my days daydreaming about Leven and ignoring Sabrina at all costs. I didn’t feel like coming up with an explanation as to why I wasn’t seeing Leven anymore. I didn’t leave the house and I barely mustered the desire to feed and bathe myself. I signed and glanced at the time 4:46 in the afternoon. It was almost time to feed myself and get ready for bed. There was a hard knock on my front door. My neighbor had came by a few times to check on me to see if I was still alive, seeing that I no longer went to work or did much of anything anymore.
“I’m fine! Thank you!” I yelled through the door. He knocked again. I took a deep breath and exhaled sharply. “What the fuck?” I muttered in disgust. I took a glance at myself only to smooth my hair down and fix my oversized t-shirt so that I wasn’t exposing anything that would be sending the wrong message. I took a deep breath and yanked opened the door.
“Hi, I’m fin–”, I stood there frozen not able to finish the rest of my sentence.
“Now, I get what they mean when they say, “you look like you’ve seen a ghost”.”
“Leven!” I cried in disbelief. I wrapped my arms tightly around him. He dressed in blue jeans and a white t-shirt and not his normal “genie” pants.
“Where were you? I don’t understand. Why did you leave for so long? I thought you where gone.” I let go of him so that he could give me an explanation and I bet he did know better not to just appear inside of my house after not hearing from him for nearly a week. I stood in front of him with my arms crossed waiting for an explanation.
“Alayna, I’m sorry, I-I– I can’t explain just yet–”
“What do you mean you can’t explain? You had me thinking that my life was over!”
“You– You set me free”, he smiled.
“What do you mean? As in you’re not a genie any more?”
He shook his head, “No. I’m free.”
I stood there looking dumbfounded. I heard the words he was saying but they weren’t making sense.
“How is that possible?” I stared at him in bewilderment and moved a side so that he could come in.
“Well it turns out that, setting a genie free requires a selfless act; the use of two wishes, and since you only used one, well… here I am.”
I couldn’t believe it, “what what?”
“Come here”, he said reaching out for me/
I walked over to the couch where he was standing.
“I’ve missed you Laynie.”
“I missed you too but I still can’t wrap my head around you being free”, I said in disbelief shaking my head.
“I’m sorry about the way I left but I had no control over that. When you wished for me to be free, I went into a darkness. I’ve never experience that before, I though I was dead.”
“I’m so sorry Leven. I–”
“No, don’t be sorry, thank you! Thank you for setting me free, but I do have one question”, he said grabbing my hands.
“Of course what is it?” I asked. He looked nervous and I could see the seriousness in his beautiful gray eyes.
“Alayna, I’m madly in love with you, and not because you set me free but in the short time we spent together, I got to know you. Look, I know that I may not be a genie anymore, so that part of me has changed but I’m still me. Do you still want to be with me?”
“What? It was never about you being a genie Leven, of course I still want to be with you. You’re my boyfriend!” I smiled.
On the outside I was playing it cool, but on the inside my heart was beating so hard, I was afraid Leven might hear it.
He bent down and gave me a kiss. “I love you Alayna.”
“I love you too Leven.”
“There is one more tiny thing. I want to take things slow–”
“–Okay, that’s fine”, I agreed.
“Well, I mean really slow. I don’t want us to start off by being boyfriend and girlfriend. If we are going to be together, then I want us to build a stronger foundation. I’ve spent too much of my time thinking and being alone and this time, I don’t want to take anything for granted.”
I must admit, the fact that we weren’t going to be picking up from where we left off was disappointing but from being this close to loosing him and now he’s telling me that he was here to stay, I would be a fool to say no to him.
“Was that it?” I asked.
“Yeah, that’s pretty much it. I’m glad you’re on board with that.”
“Of course. As long as we are together, I’m fine with that.”
“Great because there is one more thing that I need to tell you especially with all these stipulations and I choose you to be in my life, and something about killing and brutal torched–
I gasped in horror. “What do you mean killing and torched?” I asked fearing the worst.
“I’m kidding”, he laughed.
“That’s not funny”, I scolded him.
“But there is one more thing. Sit down for a moment”, he motion seriously.
I felt my heart double up in speed as I waited for what he was about to tell me.
“What is it?” I asked nervously.
He put his finger to lips to shush me. I watched as Leven did a couple of hand movements in front of me. His focused changed to something I couldn’t see and then whatever he was focusing on manifested into a soft smoke like mist. As the mist began to form he kneeled down until he made the mist hover over my lap.
“How–how are you doing this?” I stammered.
“Perks of time well served.”
He took my left hand and waved the mist over it and a cushion cut solitaire diamond ring appeared on my ring finger.
“Alayna–” he hesitated and looked up as if he was lost.
I suddenly realized that I never told him my whole name.
“Adreese Albright”, I smiled.
“Really? Adreese?”, He questioned wrinkling up his nose.
I laughed and shrugged, ” yup.”
He cleared his throat, “Alayna Adreese Albright, will you marry me?”
I smiled and softly kissed his lips, “Done.”
I woke up half expecting Leven not to be there, until I realized that he had his arm draped across my torso. As much as I wanted to snuggle closer to him, I wasn’t ready for him to see how I looked in the morning. I slipped out of bed and scooped my shorts and my cami quietly off the floor and tipped toed to the bathroom. I quietly brushed my teeth, washed my face, brushed my hair back into place and put a little Vaseline on my lips before I walked out of the bathroom. I gasped.
“You scared me! I thought you were still asleep”, I put my hand on my chest and took a deep breath. I wasn’t expecting him to be sitting up in bed.
“I can tell by the way you were creeping out of the bathroom”, he yawned as he sat up and stretched. “I’m a light sleeper, comes from being a genie and all, and the whole… having to be available and all that good stuff”, he joked.
I didn’t know how to respond to what he said. He was making a joke about being a genie and I didn’t find it funny. I’m sure Leven had to some how find some humor in his situation but I couldn’t imagine being ripped from my life for something my father did. I climbed on top of him and gave him a kiss.
“Thank you for staying with me last night”, I said.
He made a motion with his hand that meant, “brushing teeth”.
“Oh, I uh, should have another toothbrush hold on”, I got up and retrieved a spare toothbrush from the linen closet. “Here, I’ll give you space.”
I went into the kitchen to pour a glass of orange juice. Should I make breakfast? I looked around in the refrigerator and cabinets to take inventory but found nothing appetizing. The only thing that I could put together was a bowl of cereal and a banana. Maybe he might want to go out to eat instead.
I nearly choked on my orange juice when I saw him standing there damp with nothing on but a towel wrapped around his waist.
“I– Uh, a little”, I said taking another gulp of orange juice. It was totally different seeing him half naked in the light and damn!
“What are you? A Belgian waffle and fruit kind of woman?” He smirked.
I raised my left eyebrow gave him a smirk back. “As a matter of fact, I’m not. I’m more of a spinach and tomato omelette kind of woman thank you very much and I don’t shy way from meat, I like my sausage on the side.
Leven chuckled and held out one hand, “done”.
With a soft “whoosh“, Leven covered my kitchen counters with a buffet of breakfast food fit for a queen; a hungry queen that is, or one who truly need options. There was plenty of food to choose from. From my spinach and tomato omelette to the small stack of pancakes and waffles.
I thought about the box of cereal that sat on top of my refrigerator. I’m so glad I didn’t waste my appetite on a cheap off brand box of frosted flakes.
“Go on, eat. I’ll be right back.”
I watched as Leven made his way back into my bedroom with the towel handing loosely around his waist. I waited until the door was completely closed before I leaped for joy. Look at all this food! I took a bite out of the cinnamon roll and chuckled to myself. I guess this is his version of breakfast the morning after. I’ll take this as a compliment, I thought.
In less then a minute later Leven appeared fully dressed in his signature genie pants and a hoodie.
“Have you ever though about modeling? I mean, prior to–”
“–Me being held in captivity against my will forever and ever and ever?” He finished my sentence. “Nah. My focus was being an artist”, he shrugged as he reached over me to grab a plate from the cabinet.
“You would have been good at it, I mean, modeling”, I admitted.
Leven just gave me his irresistible smile and began to pile his plate with food.
“You never said what kind of artist”, I said as a matter-of-factly.
“Didn’t think anyone cared, but since you’re asking. Painter. I paint, mostly with Acrylics and some oil.”
“I would like to see your work one day.”
“Maybe you will”, he mumbled thoughtfully.
“So tell me something Layna, what’s the deal with you and Sabrina?”
“What do you mean? She’s my best friend.”
“Yeah, I know that much, but I just want to know what I’m walking into. Should I be me or should I be…”
“Oh, um, you can be whoever you want to be”, preferably my boyfriend but I’m not going to press the issue, I thought to myself.
He chewed in silence for a moment before he spoke. “I could be your boyfriend if you want.”
I didn’t say anything. I couldn’t say anything. I was too shocked to speak. If I say yes too fast, will it be obvious that I’m super thrilled about his suggestion? There was no way in hell that I wanted to say no to the offer and I guess it was better then nothing…”
“No pressure. I mean, if you don’t want to be my girlfriend–”
“No, I do want to be your girlfriend“, I blurted.
Leven smirked, “you want to be my girlfriend?”
“Well isn’t that what you just said?” I asked confused. Wait, what the hell?
He took a bite of a mango slice, “yeah, but you didn’t let me finish.”
“I mean for the party–” I explained. “What were you going to say? Sorry I cut you off.”
There was another pause for silence but this time, I felt uncomfortable. How the hell did this get misconstrued?
“Alayna–”, Leven paused before he spoke. It was as if he was at a lost for words.
“Leven, it’s just for tonight no big deal. We go in put on a show and that will be that, no strings attached.”
“Is that what you want?”
What the hell did he mean by that? How was I suppose to answer that knowing that I really did have feelings for him?
He took a deep breath and gave me a half smile. “Sounds good to me Layna.”
“Did I say something wrong? I’m not understanding what’s happening.”
“No, no, it’s nothing. I’m a guy, I’m weird, it’s nothing. After all, I am a genie so that would explain some of this insanity I got going on up here”, he said pointing to his head.
“Okay”, I said with uncertainty.
“So, tell me, how did we meet? Is it the classic, “So I met this girl in a bar…” type thing? Or should we skip to the part where you thought I was an intruder?” He chuckled changing the subject.
I stared at him. Even without the smoke and magic tricks there was something so magical about him. Ignoring his attempt to change the subject, I took a stab in the dark.
“We could make this work.” I didn’t expect him to know what I was talking about but it was worth a shot.
“How?” He said in a low quiet voice. He looked into my eyes searching for an answer, he knew I couldn’t give him. At least not right away.
But there was my answer staring me right in the face.
“We have a year–”, I began.
“–A year and then that’s it.” He waved his hand as if he was pushing something I could’t see off to the side and then the buffet of food disappeared except for my small plate with a half eaten cinnamon roll. He turned to look at me with his arms folded across his chest.
“I have two wishes left, I could figure out a– a loop hole or something”, I insisted.
“It won’t work”, he said shaking his head.
I took a deep breath but exhaled quietly.
“Alayna, I’m not being pessimistic. I’ve been a genie for eleven years, and there’s not a wish that I know of or that I’ve seen, that can make me not be what and who I am. I’ve– I’ve been in this position once before… I have the rest of however long eternity actually is to survive heartache, but you… I don’t want you to go through that. You still have a life to live, I’m just a chapter.”
“You’re only a chapter, if you choose to be a chapter Leven.”
“This isn’t a choice for me Alayna”, he shook his head. He looked annoyed but his voice remained low and even.
“Look, that’s not what I’m saying at all. I have two wishes left and if I have to spend my last two wishes wishing for your freedom or for us to be together, then so be it. Before I meet you, there was only one thing that I really wished that I could have in this world and now there’s another”, I said looking into his gray eyes.
He placed his hand on my cheek and bent down to place a kiss on my lips.
“I must warn you, though”, he said breaking from the kiss.
“Oh good, there’s a warning label after the fact”, I smiled.
“When I fall, I fall hard.”
“And I won’t stop you.”