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  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Borrowed Ember (Page 4)     
  • Borrowed Ember(Fire Spirits #3)(4) by Samantha Young
  • The Red King had visited him the night before, the secret of Red’s part in turning Charlie into a sorcerer threading a fragile bond between them. Charlie didn’t know what Red wanted, or if he was only folowing the Sultan’s orders, but he liked to think of Red as an alright guy. At least whenever he looked at Ari, Charlie was sure he detected feeling in the Jinn King’s gaze. He had to believe that one of these scary ass creeps were on their side.

    He had to believe that Red wasn’t going to let him die today.

    The Jinn King had promised him that much last night, making an oath to do everything he could to save Charlie’s life. Charlie’s stomach roiled and his chest squeezed tight with fear. How had everything culminated in this? His life was weird, no joke, but this? Sitting in a dungeon in another realm, waiting to find out whether he was going to die for kiling a maniacal sorcerer?

    Maybe he’d smoked a little too much dope this last year, he thought regretfuly.

    A crackle hissed in the air and Charlie heard the mumblings of a guard and the shuffling of feet. Was that the first prisoner being released for trial?

    Was it only a day ago he was sitting with Falon as she soothed him over the Jai and Ari situation? The Roes had been briliant, helping him work his way through the guilt of kiling a man.

    He’d kiled a man.

    Worse stil, his best friend was stil too weak from her own attack at the hands of the same man to help talk him through it. And just to add bitter sour cream icing onto the top of that piece of crap cake, Jai had been sitting at Ari’s bedside, waiting for her to wake up so he could tel her he wanted to be with her.

    Charlie had lost Ari.

    Falon was a comfort. Charlie could listen to her talk about nothing and everything and for a while it kept the world at bay. That’s what she’d been doing—talking to him about her first job as a hunter, her smal hands tucking his growing hair behind his ear, rubbing his shoulders, stroking the tattoo around his wrist, measuring her smal hand against his own. Sily, familiar stuff that made him feel close to her, that numbed the pain of losing someone so exquisite as his Ari. And he had no one else to blame but himself.

    His walowing had been interrupted by The Red King who’d burst out of the Peripatos to warn him, too late, that Jinn were coming from Mount Qaf to arrest him for Dalí’s death. The two Shaitans had arrived on the back of Red’s warning.

    Charlie couldn’t remember getting to Mount Qaf. He tried and tried but there was nothing there. One minute he’d been in shock at Red’s warning and the next he was being dragged down a dark earthen tunnel, fire flickering out at him from medieval-looking wal sconces. He’d passed cel after cel until he was thrown into his own.

    Had he realy anyone else to blame but himself for his predicament? Al along this is what Ari had feared for him when he’d told her he’d become a sorcerer to take vengeance against the Labartu that had kiled his brother, Mike. He’d been warned that kiling a ful-blooded Jinn would end up with him facing a death penalty in Mount Qaf. Charlie had come to terms with that as long as it meant the Labartu was dead.

    But to be forced to face trial for kiling a half-blood and one who’d almost kiled Ari? Wel that stuck in his craw more than a little.

    He bet it stuck in Ari’s too. The Red King had told him she was here with Jai and had asked to see him, but she wasn’t alowed. Charlie pounded a fist in the dirt beside him. He hoped she was wel enough to be here. He prayed she wasn’t going to do something inadvisably stupid to set him free. God, he hoped she wasn’t going to be like him.

    And selfishly, underneath it al, Charlie was glad she’d taken off after him. That he stil meant enough to her to drop everything, including Jinn-Boy Jai. A stupid part of him stil hoped that maybe fearing for him would make her remember their bond. That they were family…

    … “Okay, who’s winning?” Charlie grinned as he strode back into the sitting room with a glass of ice-cold Coke for Ari. It was a blistering summer day

    and the a/c in the house had broken, leaving them to use crappy fans that just blew recycled hot air back at them.

    Mike frowned over at him from his place beside Ari on the floor, the game controller dangling from his hand. “Where’s mine?”

    Charlie shrugged. “I only have two hands.”

    Sighing at him, Ari tried to hand the Coke he’d given to her to Mike. His kid brother grinned at her and shook his head. “Thanks, Ari, but I’ll get my

    own.” His grin transformed to a glare when he looked at Charlie. “Don’t think I don’t know you did that deliberately so I’d have to give up the control.”

    That was exactly why he’d done it. The brat had been hogging the game, and Ari, since she’d gotten here.

    Ari wrinkled her nose. “Well, I’d suggest I give up my controller so you two can play each other, but we all know how that ends and I am not in the mood to clean up blood today.”

    Mike grumbled and jumped to his feet. As soon as he left the room, Charlie slid in closer to Ari as he grabbed up the controller, his bare knee touching her bare knee. He tried to be cool as he checked her out in her short shorts and tank top. Aw man, thank God for heat waves. They were a teenage boy’s

    dream come true.

    Ari laughed, drawing his gaze up and he found her strange but beautiful eyes twinkling mischievously at him. “Are you done?”

    Charlie laughed off the embarrassment of being caught checking her out and nudged her with his elbow as he stared at the screen, starting a new game.

    “You did wear those shorts.”

    She chuckled again and the sound hit him right in his good-for-nothing places. He sucked in a breath. Being fifteen and friends with Ari was hard on his libido. “Charlie, you’re wearing shorts.”

    He frowned at his long board shorts. “Not the same thing.”

    “Maybe it is for me. Maybe I find it just as distracting, but I don’t blatantly check you out.”

    At the flirtatious note in her voice, Charlie turned to look at her again. Her cheeks were a little pink but she was still grinning at him. “You checking me out?” Whoa, he did not mean for his voice to go all low and suggestive like that.

    Ari’s smile slipped and he watched her breath catch with a sense of elation. “Maybe.”

    With no control over his actions, Charlie’s gaze dipped to her mouth. He had thought about that mouth a lot lately. Okay, more than a lot. Like, every

    second.

    “What, you haven’t even started a new game?” Mike complained as he sauntered back into the room and broke Charlie’s epic moment with Ari.

    Ari laughed and shifted a little so there was more space between them.

    Charlie sighed and contemplated fifty different ways to get rid of his little brother. “We’re just about to.”

    “Well if you’re this slow starting, I’m putting ten bucks on Ari whipping your ass.” Charlie raised an eyebrow at him and Mike sighed. “Butt. Whipping

    your butt.”

    “I’ll take that bet,” Charlie replied, reaching over to shake his kid brother’s hand. Ari cleared her throat and the two Creaghs stopped to look at her.

    “What?”

    Ari shrugged. “You’re about to lose ten bucks. I mean, Mike at least has a fighting chance with me, but you…”

    “You think Mike is better than me at Super Mario Bros?”

    “Oh definitely.”

    Mike laughed happily.

    Charlie glared at them both and then turned determinedly to the screen. “Oh it’s on.”

    … Charlie was shaken from his memories as a Shaitan approached his cel. The guard from last night. The Shaitan raised a hand and the glow around the bars

    disappeared as the bars slid back into the rock to alow Charlie to exit.

    “It’s time.” The Shaitan gestured to him with shimmering shackles dangling from his hand.

    Charlie stood up and eyed the shackles warily, his knees threatening to buckle. The Shaitan seemed to sense his terror and laughed at him, black eyes flashing red.

    His mockery was like a bulet in Charlie’s ass. Stop being a pu**y, you can do this.

    Shrugging on a pretense of cool, Charlie met the Shaitan and turned around at his direction. The glowing shackles didn’t burn, but they were heavy as they snapped around his wrists. Walking between the two Shaitans out of the dungeon was humiliating, but as they wound their way up through the earthen tunnels and up a spiraling staircase, Charlie knew true humiliation. The wals of rock around them opened out into wider corridors and inset in the rock was the famed emeralds of Mount Qaf.

    The pul of their power whispered to Charlie—it was almost as if every single stone was sucking a little bit of him towards them. He stumbled and groaned, the hunger heavy inside him and the two Shaitans laughed again.

    “That is what happens when children are given power beyond their ability to control. They whimper like kittens after milk.”

    Their laughter enflamed Charlie’s cheeks and he attempted to ignore the power of the emeralds, his teeth aching with the strength it took him. He tried to focus on his surroundings but there were no doors here, no windows, no pictures, no servants, only torches suspended high along the wals.

    When he saw the arched doorway at the end of the corridor, relief shot through him. He wanted out, he wanted away from the emeralds.

    The door creaked open and a blast of freezing cold air stung his eyes and whooshed down his throat. He coughed a little, letting his lungs adjust to the fresh but icy air. He blinked as he was pushed forward and the scene around him caused his heart to throb from behind his rib cage.

    He shivered in his thin t-shirt.

    It was like something out of Gladiator.

    Before him was a huge amphitheater, ascending seats rising up away from a huge space in the center where Jinn were waiting on him. Jinn were crowded in the

    thousands on the seats, a sea of bodies garbed in vibrant silks and velvets and cottons al in the brightest of jewel colors— emerald greens, purple amethysts, sapphire blues and ruby reds. It was like staring into an open treasure box. The amphitheatre itself was less ancient Rome and more Moroccan in appearance, with its stone arches carved with arabesques and twisted pilars wrapped in champagne, ruby and emerald fabric—fabric that fluttered gently in the breeze as if dying to unwrap its arms from around the pilars and fly into the wind. Charlie understood the feeling. Pushed forward again, Charlie descended the stairs in front of him, trying to ignore the murmurs of the Jinn around him. His pulse sped up at the strange mirrored floor beneath his feet, its glass covering the entire main floor space. Shadows against the winter sky caught his eyes in the reflection, and Charlie glanced upwards, his breath leaving him at the sight in the sky above the crowds. News of the Jinn Kings’

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