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 somehow 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 omelet kind of woman thank you very much and I don’t shy away 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 omelet 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 hanging 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 thought 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 than 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 input 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 couldn’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 loophole 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 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.”