From his spot at the bar, Ricky saw her moving through the crowd. Resplendent in black leather and gold jewelry, with her long red hair flowing down her back, Kalila didn’t ask anyone to clear a path. If they didn’t do it out of respect, she’d make them want to move. Djinns had their ways.
Ricky had saved a spot and was already thinking what he would say about the first set and what he would recommend for the next, when a rangy, dark-haired man jumped into Kalila’s path. Intense and eager, he shouted his questions in an effort to be heard over the club music. A flicker of annoyance crossed Kalila’s face, then vanished in a friendly smile. Without so much as glancing Ricky’s way, she let him lead her to another part of the bar and order her a drink.
Annoyed, Ricky reached for his beer and tried to reassure himself. Kalila was good at giving impromptu interviews. He wasn’t worried that she might mention old friends from the eighteenth century or the crazy bet with Thor that had led her to found a rock band. It was the other behavior that unnerved him, the way she would lead a man on, selling with her stunning looks a musical talent that needed no additional endorsement. It was a game to her, a ploy as amusing as a high-stakes bet to a gambler, and Ricky had seen it often enough not to be fooled. Still, he squirmed as he watched her lean toward the reporter in just the right way for him to get a good look down the front of her leather bustier.
Ricky stood up. He should’ve told her to wait for him back stage after the set. He should’ve waylaid the reporter himself, since he could spot the parasitic bastards from a block away. He should’ve by now learned to never, ever, let Kalila make him jealous, because what could a human do about the behavior of a djinn?
He shoved his way toward the door, making sure to catch the eye of the bouncer so he would have no trouble getting back in. Outside, the soft spring air wrapped itself around him like a caress, gentle in contrast to the harshness of this inner-city neighborhood. He leaned against the rough bricks of the building and looked up at the sky, hoping to find a star to focus his thoughts upon, but found only the glare of sodium lights.
He drew in his breath and willed himself not to look around.
Kalila walked up to him. “What did you run out like that for? I thought we were going to talk about the show.”
“It’s going fine.” He struggled to keep his voice neutral. “Good job scoring an interview.”
She edged closer, the spicy scent of her skin overpowering the parking lot smells of old oil and stale beer. “You’re jealous.”
“Don’t be ridiculous.”
She kissed him, and her mouth was warm, her body electric. All was right with the world again, and although he could never have her for his own, he had this moment, and it was enough.