The Art of Wishing

The Art of Wishing by Lindsay Ribar Page A

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Authors: Lindsay Ribar
with my hand. “I’m so sorry,” I said, even though I knew it would come out as an incoherent mumble.
    Oliver looked baffled. His eyes were as round as quarters, and his hands hovered awkwardly in the air, like he didn’t know what to do with them. “Oh,” he breathed, all traces of theatricality gone from his demeanor.
    “I’m so sorry,” I repeated, this time without my hand over my mouth. “I didn’t mean to do that. I really didn’t. You were just doing your job, and I don’t go around kissing people because they give me presents. That would be gross, and I don’t want you to think that’s the reason . . .”
    It dawned on me that Oliver hadn’t moved, and I forced myself to stop babbling. If that wasn’t the reason I’d kissed him, then what was? On the one hand, there were those green eyes, which were sort of amazing—not to mention the way he’d held my hand in the park. But on the other hand, he was a genie, and he was granting my wishes because he was bound
to me. It was his job, nothing more.
    Right?
    “Aren’t you cold?” Oliver said uncertainly, breaking the silence that had gone on just a little too long. He stood perfectly still, but in a way that suggested barely suppressed movement. I wondered if he was thinking of disappearing.
    Cold. Right. I probably was cold, even though my brain was too full to register it right now. “Yeah, sure,” I said. My voice shook. “Listen, I . . .”
    “You want to know if I mind,” he said, letting his shoulders relax.
    Well, that was a mild way of putting it. I did want to know that, but I also wanted to know if he’d enjoyed it, or if he totally hated me for springing that on him out of nowhere, or if he maybe, just maybe, wanted to do it again. . . .
    “The thing is, I can’t stay,” he said, so quietly that it took me a second to realize the words had come from him, not my own muddled head. He looked sad. Worried, too.
    “I know,” I said, squeezing my eyes shut. “I know you can’t. I’m sorry. I’m doing everything wrong. I promised you wishes in a day or two—and I planned on having them by now, I swear I did—but here I am, four days later, flaking out about the wishes and kissing you instead, which you totally don’t need, and . . .” I took a deep breath, forcing myself to calm down. I opened my eyes again. “Oliver, do you want the ring back?”
    “What?” he said, his eyes going wide again. “Yes. Wait. No. I mean . . . What?”
    I held the ring out to him. “You need to leave. You said so, and all I’m doing is screwing everything up. You should just take it, before . . .”
    “Before what?” he asked, looking from me to the ring and back again.
    I opened my mouth, but there were those gorgeous eyes, right in front of me, and those lips, which had felt so good against mine, and I didn’t know how to finish. But he shifted his eyes away, and I knew he’d heard me want something. I blushed.
    Before I get too attached to you,
I thought, knowing he wouldn’t be able to hear me.
    “Will you think about your last two wishes tonight?” he asked.
    I hesitated. “Are you sure?”
    “Yeah,” he said with a nod. “Another day won’t kill me.”
    “You said that at the diner. How much time until he finds you?”
    He smiled wanly. “I don’t know. Five weeks. Five minutes. I just want to be long gone before it happens. But another day . . . I’ll stay another day for you. For your wishes.”
    He covered the slip so smoothly that I almost didn’t catch it. But catch it I did. He wasn’t talking about my wishes. He was talking about me. Maybe he hadn’t been pushing me away after all.
    “Oliver, do you
want
to kiss me back?”
    “Margo, listen,” he began slowly, and I resisted the urge to shrink under his gaze. He flinched and sucked in a deep breath. “Yes,” he whispered. “I really, really do.”
    Then I want you to do it
, I thought at him. I saw the exact moment he heard me. He

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