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  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Borrowed Ember (Page 14)     
  • Borrowed Ember(Fire Spirits #3)(14) by Samantha Young
  • “Ari, what the hel did you do?” Jai whispered hoarsely.

    She shook her head, desperate for him to understand. It hadn’t been her. She didn’t do this. She was…

    I’m going crazy. I’m going crazy.

    “Ari?”

    She shook him off, stumbling back from him, the room spinning around her. She thought she was in control. She wasn’t in control. Oh crap.

    Holy Macaroons just didn’t cut it. This was a holy fu-

    Her thoughts were brought to a standstil by the squealing, choking noises Yasmin was making as she turned to Luca in a panic, stil unable to talk.

    Horrified, Ari blurted out, “I command you to speak again.”

    “Oh my… What the hel!” Yasmin shrieked in terror, her eyes wide on Ari. “What the hel is she? She’s not normal! She’s not right-”

    “Calm yourself,” Luca snapped, grabbing the young woman by her arms. He cursed as she struggled and turned desperately to Ari. “You have to command her to

    un-know what she knows, Ari. Now!”

    Panic fluttering in her chest, Ari took a frantic step forward, ignoring Jai’s accusatory silence. “I command you, Yasmin Lenz, to never tel anyone, by any means of communication, of what happened here today between,” she glanced at her watch, “7.30 and 7.50pm. Ever.”

    Yasmin’s mouth slammed shut and she shot Luca a look of anguished betrayal.

    Luca, however, was frowning. “You sure you worded that right?”

    Voice quiet and shaken, Ari explained, “If I’d worded it differently I might have left a loophole. This way she can’t bring up what she suspects about me without aluding to what happened in the last twenty minutes and she’s completely incapable of doing that now that I’ve commanded her otherwise.”

    “Good.” Bitar turned to Yasmin. “Go back to my office. This is your own fault for interfering in something that had nothing to do with you.”

    As soon as Yasmin was gone, Luca glared at Jai. “Yasmin Lenz. Realy?”

    “Hugo deserved it.” Jai shrugged, stil unable it seemed to look at Ari.

    Luca froze for a moment. “You know about Nicki.”

    Jai stiffened and Ari gasped. Luca knew his wife had had an affair with Hugo Lenz? “You knew?”

    “Of course I knew,” Luca replied bitterly. “I know everything that goes on in my tribe. And while I understand your motive was based on your sense of loyalty, I don’t appreciate your methods.”

    Jai nodded, his jaw tight with tension. “It was over before it started.”

    “Yes, wel… so was Hugo and Nicki’s affair.” Luca grew quiet before turning to eye Ari carefuly. “Try looking after Ms. Johnson without ‘looking after her’-”

    “Father-”

    “That’s al I wil say on the matter. Safe Guarding with the Roes. Goodbye.” He turned to Ari, his expression thoughtful. “Goodbye Ms. Johnson.”

    Ari nodded her head in a vague gesture of goodbye and then sagged when he left. “Jai… I’m so sorry…I-”

    “Stop.” Jai held up a hand, not looking at her. “We need to get the hel out of here.”

    Feeling her chest squeeze in fear at his distant and cold tone, Ari asked softly, “What about Trey?”

    “He’s on assignment. I’l cal him and let him know what’s happened.”

    “Jai…” she tried again, her hand reaching out to gently brush his arm.

    He stiffened, his shoulders hunching up to his ears. “Let’s just go.”

    Fearful and anxious, Ari took a breath and fled into the Peripatos, heartbroken that she not only had to deal with the fact that the Seal was gaining more power over her, but also with the fact that Jai – unlike Ari – may be incapable of loving someone who was broken.

    8 - Hope Dies Last

    The feel of Ari’s energy beside him distracted Jai. She stil trembled a little beside him and despite the way he had reacted (like an idiot) to her loss of control and use of the Seal, Ari stil edged close to him, seeking comfort.

    Jai wasn’t mad at her. He knew that’s what she thought, but he wasn’t mad. He was scared for her, and he didn’t know what to do for her other than to keep a careful watch over her. And that only made him feel impotent and angry at himself.

    Making Ari feel like crap wasn’t helping. She was scared already too. He didn’t want her to think she was in this alone and yet… that’s what he’d done. Why?

    Jai nodded at the man who greeted him, but his face seemed so far away.

    Ari was screwing him up. She was destroying his focus and filing his mind until there was nothing in it but her. And last night… He closed his eyes and bowed his head, remembering how it felt to have her in his arms. The softness of her skin, the brush of her gentle hands, the vanila scent that clung to her silky hair; the breathy sighs… her loving smiles.

    Her ‘I love you’s’.

    Longing coursed through Jai and it was dangerous. Dangerous and addictive and…

    Why can’t I say it back? He slanted a look at her out of the corner of his eye. She seemed steadier now as she addressed Michael Roe, Falon’s father and leader of the Roe Guild.

    Stil… why?

    You know why, a vicious voice whispered in his head.

    Nicki.

    Jai clenched his hands in to fists, forcing the memory back… the one memory that scarred him more than al the others…

    … His stepmother Nicki Bitar stood sneering at him, her arms folded over her chest, her manicured nails tapping ominously on her upper arm. It signaled

    violence. On her left stood her youngest Stephen. At ten years old he stood warily by his mother’s side. And on her right stood David, six years older than Jai. An eighteen year old man-boy. He was grinning at Jai with anticipation and bloodlust in his eyes.

    Nicki eyed the man holding him. Twenty year old Tarik whose strong hands were gripping him so tightly there was no way the much younger Jai could get

    out of his hold. “Don’t let him go, son. Stephen and David are going to take their turns punishing the boy for bruising David in training.”

    Jai pulled again at the arms gripping his. “We were training!” he yelled indignantly.

    “Really, mom.” Tarik sighed. “If David let’s himself get taken unawares by a twelve year old, he deserves the bruise. Can we just let this go?”

    Nicki’s eyes flashed in outrage. “No! If you love me, you will stay and see the boy punished.”

    “Fine. Let’s get this over with. I have a life you know.”

    “Stephen,” Nicki pushed her youngest forward. “You first.”

    Eyeing his half-brother with something akin to horror, Stephen shook his head and turned to look back at Nicki. “Mom, do I have to?”

    “Yes,” she hissed. “I told you he’s a bad boy. He deserves this.”

    “But I don’t want to.”

    “For the love of…” David sighed and stepped forward, taking a grip of his younger brother’s wrist. He tugged him roughly over to Jai and guided his

    hand back before cracking it across Jai’s face. The sting of the smack flared up his left cheek and he closed his eyes, feeling the heat follow in its wake.

    “See!” David smirked. “Now do it yourself but this time punch him. If you don’t… I’ll punch you.”

    When no rebuke came from his mother, Stephen turned back to Jai with tears in his eyes. He punched out but it barely grazed Jai’s chin.

    “That was pathetic,” David snarled. “Get out of the way.” He shoved Stephen aside and drew back his fist.

    It caught Jai in the cheek and sent him careening back in Tarik’s arms. The eldest immediately let him fall, his head cracking against the black and white checkered flooring. As the kicks and punches rained down on his body, Jai sent his mind to another place, to a sparkling ocean and sandy beach where no

    one else was around, where he could feel no pain and no torment. It was his place whenever the abuse got violent.

    “Enough!” Jai heard Tarik growl through the ringing in his ears. He eased open his right eye since his left was swelling shut and saw Tarik nodding at his mother as he wiped blood from his knuckles. “Father will be angry if we go too far.”

    Jai tensed with hope – hope that it was over – and he rolled a little, catching Stephen’s eye. The young boy blanched and turned to his mother. “I think Tarik’s right, mom.”

    In response Nicki shoved Stephen towards the door. “Get out,” she snapped. “All of you. Out.”

    As soon as the boys left, Nicki glanced back at Jai. Her lip curled in disgust as she strode carefully towards him. “Is that what you think, boy? You think Luca actually cares if you live or die?” She bent down beside him, her face so close he could feel the touch of her Irish breath on his face. “He doesn’t.”

    Think of the beach, he pleaded to himself, the agony of those words still cutting him despite all the walls he’d tried to build up against his father’s hatred.

    “All he cares about is his honor,” Nicki continued. “If it weren’t for that, you wouldn’t be here. You remember that, boy. You remember that always.”

    Tears of anger glistened in her eyes as she leaned close enough to show him the torment in them. “The only thing of any value a person can have in this

    world is hope. Hope lifts us out of the darkest of places, the ugliest feelings and the greatest heartbreaks.

    A long time ago… Luca was my hope. I would look at him and all my sadness went away because I had my hope— the profound knowledge that he would

    always be there for me, that we would always share the kind of connection so few people in this world are lucky to find.

    And then your mother broke Luca. She slithered inside him and she stole from him. From me. And still I hoped.” Tears began to roll down her pretty face.

    “I hoped that we would make it through what she had done to us, that we could repair what was broken. Until… you landed on my doorstep. A constant

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