Becoming Jinn

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CHAPTER 1

A chisel, a hammer, a wrench. A sander, a drill, a power saw. A laser, a heat gun, a flaming torch. Nothing cuts through the bangle. Nothing I conjure even makes a scratch.

I had to try, just to be sure. But the silver bangle encircling my wrist can't be removed. It was smart of my mother to secure it in the middle of the night while I was asleep, unable to protest.

Though my Jinn ancestry means magic has always been inside me, the rules don't allow me to begin drawing upon it until the day I turn sixteen. The day I receive my silver bangle. The day I officially become a genie.

Today.

I slam my newly acquired accessory against my bedroom closet, leaving a rounded indent on the wood door. The pristine, gleaming metal mocks me. For the rest of my life, I'll go where I'm told, perform on command, and do it all without question.

Screw that.

Barefooted, I can't kick the pile of tools without impaling myself. I settle for shoving the saw, but in the blade, a flash of gold reflects back at me. I've ignored the unusual sensation of hairs tickling my bare shoulders all morning . . . the new tap, tap, tap of my nails against the conjured metal . . . the hem of my pajama pants now flirting with my calf. Ignored just in case. Just in case this bangle wasn't here to stay. But even my talent for denial is no match for my curiosity when it's been piqued.

Standing at the bathroom mirror, my breath catches in my throat.

The deepening of my olive skin, the angling of my cheekbones, the lengthening of my torso. I've seen them all before. On my mother, who wears them like she owns them. Unlike me, who wears them like a rented Halloween costume.

I lay a finger on the bangle and push, watching it spin around my wrist. Somehow this thing stimulates my body to reach full maturity. As an inherently attractive species, this tends to make us Jinn . . . well, hot. I'm pretty sure it's less a quid pro quo thing (thankfully, otherwise we Jinn would be the most shallow of species) and more an ancestral one, but then again, I'm not privy to the inner workings of the Afrit, the council that rules over our Jinn world.

I run my tongue along my bright white teeth and give thanks that my birthday falls during the summer. Not that I think the HITs (humans in training, aka teenagers) I go to school with would likely question this new and improved Azra Nadira staring back at me. Guess there are benefits to not being popular. Unlike other newbie Jinn, I certainly won't need to change schools or even incite hushed rumors about plastic surgery. For me, one or two fibs about a to-die-for stylist and an oh-so-talented makeup artist will do. Laughably out of character, of course, but, again, there are benefits to not being popular.

Inspecting all the ways my body has been altered while my mind was unable to resist, I note a distinct lack of curves remains. Seriously, a little va-va-voom here or there (and by "there" I'm talking to you, status quo B cup) was too much to ask?

I upend the basket next to the sink. A pair of nail clippers clanks against the marble counter, landing in between dental floss and a barely used compact of blush. I drum my nails, now as luminous as ten perfectly polished pearls, against the cold stone and brandish the nail clippers like a sword.

I knew this was coming. Click. I grew up knowing this was coming. Click. But still a part of me believed something would stop it. Click. Maybe my mother would finally realize I was serious. Click. I've been begging her to find a way around me having to become a genie since I was old enough to understand what the word "destiny" meant. Click. Maybe the Afrit would decide my well-honed lack of enthusiasm was an insult to the long line of Jinn from which I descend. Click. Maybe they'd take one look at me and realize that, for the first time in Jinn history, powers should skip a generation. Click.

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