The Gift
The Gift
Beverly Cialone

Distraught over her parents' death, Summer is depressed over having to spend Christmas alone. After receiving a strange package with the instructions "DO NOT OPEN 'TIL CHRISTMAS EVE", her spirits lift somewhat. When she opens the package, she is surprised to discover that she has inherited a genie named Adrian. What Adrian tells her, and what Adrian is capable of doing, is astounding, to say the least. In order for them to stay together, Summer must first declare her love for Adrian. Then, and only then, will he be able to reveal the secret that will enable them to truly be together forever.

ISBN ebook: 978-0-9812737-76-1
FICTION | Romance Fantasy
Word Count: 18,000
List Price: $2.99
Published: June 18, 2009

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Chapter 1

Summer sighed as she stared out at the vast expanse of the Atlantic from the balcony of her second-floor apartment. Christmas was a mere week away, and once again that heavy, sinking feeling of despair settled over her like a thick, smothering blanket. Living at the coast made it a little easier to deal with; it was hard to get into a Christmas mood when one was surrounded by palm trees, sand, and the ocean. However, she was utterly alone in this world, and for the umpteenth time she contemplated joining her parents. Wherever they had ended up after their deaths, that is. She sighed again and turned away from the rail, then wearily walked back into her living room and stood in the middle of the floor, contemplating the idea some more. This would be her first Christmas without her parents, and she couldn’t bear to turn on the TV or listen to the radio because of the endless advertisements of the upcoming holiday. Thanksgiving had been a nightmare, and she could only imagine what spending Christmas alone was going to be like. Probably much worse. She hadn’t even bothered to acknowledge Thanksgiving with any kind of special dinner, because she had no one to share it with. Her thoughts only served to depress her further, and with another weary sigh she turned toward the hall with the intention of going to her room and returning to bed. A sharp knock on her door made her whip her head around in surprise, and for a moment she was certain she’d imagined the sound. Who would be paying her a visit? She’d been living in this apartment for six months, and yet she hadn’t bothered to make friends. She acknowledged her neighbors with a slight nod and smile when she saw them, but other than that, she had turned into a recluse. The knock came again, and out of sheer curiosity she walked over to the door and peered through the peephole. A FedEx delivery man was standing there, staring up at the ceiling and whistling to himself as he shifted a rather large box in his hands. Summer slowly opened the door and inquired, “Hi. May I help you?”

“Sure. Are you Ms. Summer Raines?”

“Yes, I am, but I’m not expecting a package.”

“This was sent to you by…” he turned the box around to peer at the label, then finished, “someone named Adrian. Does the name sound familiar?”

Summer frowned as she surveyed the large box. “No, I’m afraid it doesn’t. Do I have to take it?”

“It’s been screened to rule out the threat of a bomb or any kind of terrorist activity, if that’s what you’re thinking. But no, you aren’t required to accept it.”

“What did the screen look like?”

The FedEx man simply smiled, but Summer could tell he was becoming exasperated. “Sorry, ma’am, I wasn’t the one who screened it.”

Summer surveyed the huge box a moment longer, then shrugged and said, “What the hell. Maybe it’s a distant relative I don’t remember sending me a Christmas gift. I’ll accept it.” She signed her name on the electronic clipboard the man was carrying, and he even carried the box inside and deposited it in the middle of her living room floor before tipping his hat and giving her a nice smile. “Merry Christmas, Ms. Raines. I hope you enjoy it, whatever it is.”

“Thanks.” Summer shut the door behind him and returned to the box, her curiosity more piqued than ever. Who would be sending her something this big? And who was Adrian? She couldn’t recall knowing any Adrians in her life, but like she’d told the delivery man, maybe it was a distant relative who had thought about her at Christmas time and decided to send her something. She made a mental note to thank whoever had been so kind to remember her, especially after the tragedy of losing her parents, then went into the kitchen to retrieve a knife to cut through the heavy shipping tape that secured the box. She paused long enough to read the label, then frowned when she noticed the instructions printed in bold letters: DO NOT OPEN TIL MIDNIGHT ON CHRISTMAS EVE. She wondered again who had sent the package with the explicit, mysterious instructions, then simply shrugged and returned the knife to the kitchen. Oh well. At least now she had something to look forward to on Christmas.

Also by Beverly Cialone

Coming Home | Sangria Nights | True Confessions | Song of the South | In The Eye of the Beholder