I flicked a quick glance at the plant genie to see if he was offended that Tavor had just insinuated the light genie was more powerful. However, his green gaze was transfixed on something outside the window, as though the rest of us weren’t present.
I pointed to him and mouthed, “Is he okay?”
Tavor shrugged. “More or less. He’s useful if he chooses to be.” He smirked. “Most wishes go awry due to the intent of the genie. This one here causes chaos simply by not paying enough attention.”
I gave the plant genie a quick look again, but he still wasn’t focused on us. I admired his ability to block out others. That would come in handy for studying in noisy places.
Speaking of wishes reminded me of something I needed to do. “Excuse me, Plant Genie?” I said, stepping in front of him. Since he was looking up at something and was at least half a foot taller than me, that didn’t help get his attention. I lifted my hand to touch him before remembering I didn’t know if that would be welcome. I glanced back at Illan and Tavor. Tavor’s mouth curved in amusement as he crossed his arms over his chest. Illan was starting to look annoyed.
“Can you help?” I asked Tavor.
He shrugged. “You did well enough with Illan and Rajan. You came home fast friends with both. This’ll go better if you create your own bond with him.”
Great. Rajan and I had run around a trap-filled museum for a day, where we’d both saved one another, and Illan and I had bonded over knowledge and taking down a corrupt professor. I hadn’t been intentional about anything either time. What was I supposed to do?
I raised my voice. “Can I call you Plant? I think it’s silly to call genies ‘Genie.’” I hesitated before adding, “You can call me Ali. That’s my name.”
Finally, he looked down at me, his gaze meeting mine. “The moon is beautiful tonight.”
I blinked at him and craned my head back to look out the window. Our second-story window provided a perfect view of the full moon. Was that what he’d been looking at the whole time?
“It is beautiful,” I agreed. “Its ability to reflect the sun’s light is poor, but it’s still lovely . . . So, may I call you Plant? Instead of just Genie?”
“I’d prefer Vine.”
“Oh! Okay!” I agreed, pleased a genie finally gave me something to call them. Rajan and Tavor had thought I was stupid for not wanting to call them “Genie.”
He tilted his head, regarding me. “And I’ll call you Lady Flora.”
“Uh . . .” A glance back at Tavor showed the same amused expression on his face. Had Vine heard me introduce my name? “Okay. That works.” I cleared my throat again, straightening to my diminutive full height and trying to look official. “Vine, I grant you free rein.”
His eyes widened, his gaze moving past me to Tavor, searching his eyes as though looking for answers.
Tavor’s look gentled. “Yes, it’s true. You didn’t hear her giving any wishes to me or Illan, did you?”
Vine’s gaze returned to me, and slowly, hesitantly, he raised his arm, the uncertain motion reminding me of a jerky elevator in need of servicing. Finally, he held his hand next to me, and the air above it shimmered brightly before a white chrysanthemum appeared. Pushing my hair aside, he tucked the flower behind my ear.
For reasons I couldn’t begin to understand, tears sprang to my eyes. I gently brushed the petals with my fingers, feeling their silken smoothness against my skin. “Thank you,” I whispered.
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