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Actress Kelly Reilly knew she’d chosen a tough career, but she’d always found success with her boyfriend, Rob Cornell, at her side. When Rob accepts a role in New York City without a word of discussion, though, Kelly is thrown for a loop. Rescue soon arrives in the form of a genie, complete with magical wishes to turn the tide. But Kelly’s first wish goes dramatically awry. Kelly is desperate to right that wrong—not to mention getting her love life back on track and advancing her career. Can she negotiate her genie’s trickster ways? Or will her hopes amount to nothing more than wishful thinking?
<<< Chapter 1 >>>
I was in the weeds.
I’d only been working for two hours, but Mike’s Bar and Grill was packed. My father had named his restaurant after himself, but everyone called it “Mephisto’s.” With Dad’s red hair, he looked like the devil, and his burgers were good enough to lead anyone down the path to Hell.
Tonight, I felt like I was halfway there, myself.
I should have chosen an easier career path. I never should have become an actress.
Dropping off a round of Cold Spring Ale to one of my tables, I barely resisted the urge to crash my tray against a customer’s creeping fingers. I had to mind my manners, even if he didn’t. He was a director. He might cast me in a play one day.
Me, or my boyfriend, Rob Cornell.
Speaking of whom…. I craned my neck to find Rob in the crowded dining room. The only other waiter Dad had scheduled to work that night, Rob had spent most of his time serving customers in the private rooms at the back — the Shakespeare Room and the Mamet Room.
Frustrated by my demanding patrons, I was ready to quote some choice Mamet lines myself.
Before I could put together a string of perfect curses, though, Rob emerged from the curtained party space. My annoyance immediately turned to a smile, an automatic response to Rob’s unruly black curls, to the banked fire of his cobalt gaze, smoky even across the crowded room.
Without conscious thought, I raised a hand to wave at the only guy I’d ever kissed. He had the power to make my entire disastrous night one hundred percent better, if only I could lure him into the pantry for about thirty seconds of stolen kisses.
Rob ignored me.
I’d like to say that he didn’t see me, but that was impossible. He’d been staring right at me. And let’s face it — my flame-red hair makes me sort of hard to miss.
No, the kid I’d pushed down the slide when we were both three years old, my grade school sweetheart, my high school boyfriend, my college beau, Rob pretended I was nowhere in the room.
Just as he had when he came on for his shift. When we’d passed each other going in and out of the busy kitchen. When I’d caught him talking with Dad at the restaurant’s bar.
Before I could name the knot tying itself in my stomach, I turned toward my father. I was surprised to see his features creased into a frown. Mephisto Mike never frowned. He never had a care in the world.
Except, tonight he did.
He gestured me over with a flick of his head. In response to my questioning look, that rare frown turned into a scowl. A scowl that was tinted by something … sadder. “Kelly,” he sighed. “Something tells me you’re going to need this.”
Before I could respond, he set a cardboard box on the edge of the bar.
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