This is from Chapter Five, and Jazz’s POV. She has just magically squatted in a fancy house for sale and is calling home to the Djinn realm. And, of course, parents are the same everywhere! =)
My little nap turns out to be not so little. I wake to darkness and a scream nearly rips from my lips before I fight it back. A quick gesture throws the bedroom lights on, but fear is not so easily calmed. My pulse races and my breathing is ragged. It takes several moments, but I finally manage to get control over the irrational fear. Yet another item I have that lying jackal to blame for.
I jump up and stalk to the adjoining bathroom, fingernails digging furrows in my palms. The last thing I want to think about are the forty-eight hellacious hours I spent locked inside the prison meant for Khaleel–no, Sadiq–completely cut off from the outside world, unable to channel even the barest hint of magic, and trapped without the merest spark of light. He’d done that on purpose in order to knock me off kilter and give himself enough time to escape to the mortal realm. By the time I’d managed to free myself, he was long gone.
“But not impossible to track.” My hands clench on the granite countertop and I stare into the mirror covering the length of the spacious wall. “You found him before, you found him again, and it’s just a matter of time. Soon you’ll be the one throwing him into the dark. Permanently.”
A heart-warming but impractical thought. Sila are not monsters like most of our Ifrit cousins. The vessels used as prisons to house the most vicious Djinn criminals are far more comfortable and humane than they have any right to expect.
My pulse finally slows to a dull roar, so I settle into the cushioned bench in the center of the opulent bathroom, gesture to the mirror dominating the wall across from me, and whisper the portions of my parent’s soul-names entrusted to me. Magic pools at my command, adding the oomph necessary to carry my words from mortal realm to Djinn. Goosebumps prick my flesh and I shiver, but the sensation is not unpleasant. The mirror remains unchanged for several moments, and I start to repeat the summoning spell, but all at once mist creeps over the glass, obscuring it partially until sparkling gold light skitters across its surface and then fades, only to be replaced by the two Djinn I most respected, and sometimes most resented. Dear old Mom and Dad.
Mom has a familiar look of exasperation on her face when the mist and light clear enough for me to make it out. “Jasminah bint Rushdi bin Azeem! We have been worried sick over you!” Dad drapes his arms around her shoulders in support–for her, not for me. His narrowed eyes and lips clue me in to the fact they’re not going to vote for me as Daughter of the Year. Even if the only other candidate did get herself enslaved by a mortal.
My lips twitch with the effort to hold back a grin. On the one hand, I should be annoyed that her first words are of chastisement. On the other, it has been a long time since I’d checked in with them. I have missed them, more than expected, and they have obviously missed me. Not that they’ll admit that right away. They are my parents, after all. First they have to make me squirm.
“It hasn’t been that, long since my last call.”
“Five weeks, three days, and sixteen hours.”
I wince. Oops. So maybe I was the bad daughter. “I found him.”
Their eyes widen and they lean forward, eyes boring into mine through magic and mirrors. “You saw him?” Her voice trembles slightly.
I shake my head. “Not yet, but I caught his magic-trail twice today. In a high school, which holds true to his pattern.”
Mom leans into Dad’s embrace, and it’s not too hard to read the conflicting emotions chasing across her face. Relief that I’d found Sadiq, along with fear for my safety. Hope that this time I would manage to force a face-to-face confrontation, but also hope that it wouldn’t come to that; that somehow I would find a way to re-capture the treacherous Ifrit without risking my own life and soul. Unfortunately, we both know just how unlikely that scenario is.
Dad’s sternness fades slightly. “You’ve obviously found an Anchor and resting place.”
“Yes.” How odd. My lips want to curve into a genuine smile as I think of Aubrie. Most mortals generally get one of three reactions from me: ambivalence, annoyance, or anger. For the first time that I could remember, this one inspired…affection. “I’ve bonded with a mortal who seems trustworthy.” His eyes darken, so I rush to clarify. “As trustworthy as any mortal, obviously. She was too magic-blind to pick up on anything, and she likes me too much to have made a deal even if she had.”
“Good. Best keep it that way.”
“Don’t worry. I know who I can and cannot trust. And a mortal is on the list of cannots.”
Mom straightens, teeth nibbling little worry-lines in her lower lip. “The Council grows impatient, Jasminah.”
My eyes widen and fear clenches my stomach. “W–what do you mean? I still have years to re-capture Sadiq.”
She and Dad share a silent look that has fear edging toward outright panic. “Officially, yes. But he caused so much chaos at that last school, and you were so close to capturing him but then…”
He caught wind of my presence and fled like the cowardly snake he was. “That won’t happen this time.” I make sure to sound more confident than I actually feel.
Dad breaks in. “Be sure it doesn’t, daughter. If you do not send Sadiq back to his vessel soon, the Council means to send a Warden to do it for you.”
All color bleaches away from my face. If that happens, if I am not the one to re-capture the condemned Djinn I set free, then I will be doomed to wander the mortal realm for eternity, never to return to my home on the Djinn realm, not even for the temporary visits I was able to enjoy now. And, what was worse, if they judged me harshly enough, eternity would last oh, all of the 72 years allotted most mortals. Yeah, they could strip me of all my abilities and powers, leaving me as naked and helpless as a mortal. Only worse, because I wouldn’t even have the potential to learn to channel magic.
And life without magic for a Djinn might as well be a death sentence.