He moved, not toward me, just a flicker of movement, but I still stepped back. He froze.
“The wizard would have killed you the moment he was free. I saved your life.” His eyes flashed with anger when I didn’t answer. “Do you understand that he didn’t have to? How simple it would be for you to pass me along and for my next owner to have me erase your memory? There was no need to kill you.”
“But I wouldn’t take the bribe.” I didn’t know why I said it. It wasn’t a very good justification for Brandon trying to kill me, and we never even got to that point, since Brandon had lunged at me before I could outright refuse, before I could figure out how to get out of that room without antagonizing him. But maybe he’d suspected I wouldn’t agree, since I didn’t immediately jump at his offer.
Then what Orange had just said ran through my mind again. “What do you mean it’d be simple for me to pass you along? I thought I had to do a contract for that!”
Suddenly, Orange, who’d stalked around the genie wizard like a tiger cornering its prey, who’d lounged around my apartment for a week, setting me off-balance whenever he could, looked vulnerable. “You didn’t accept his bribe?”
I wanted to yell, to demand answers, but the look on his face drained that desire out of me. He looked lost. And maybe a little afraid. I sighed. “Look, Orange—”
“Tavor,” he interrupted.
He hesitated. “My name is Tavor.”
We stared at each other, the moment stretching between us. Somehow, that small, simple sentence made the trauma of the past hour begin to fade, just a little.
He broke the moment by tossing one hand carelessly in the air. “It doesn’t give you any power over me to know it, but this is the first time I can recall giving a human my name.”
Giving it. Like it was a gift. And it felt like it was. A gift of trust.
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