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  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Borrowed Ember (Page 41)     
  • Borrowed Ember(Fire Spirits #3)(41) by Samantha Young
  • They’re the best bet at the moment.”

    Red nodded as if he’d expected this. “You’ve made a choice. You’re sending them after Charlie. You’re going after Jai.”

    Ari felt tears of shame clog her throat. “I’m not proud of it. But yeah.”

    “I’m sorry, Ari.”

    Ari’s eyes blazed at the thought of the possible ramifications of her choice. “Me too.”

    25 - These Continuous Trips to Lost & Found Are Wearing on my Soul

    How many days had it been now? Or had it only been hours?

    Worse, had it been weeks? Months?

    The stifling black was wicked emptiness, for like a blank canvas before an artist, it tempted its prisoner to fil the black with images—images of Ari, of his father, of his faceless mother. Memories taunted Jai. Fears suffocated him as images of Ari’s dead body continued to float across the dark.

    At these he’d yel to his captor to let him go until his voice was hoarse. He couldn’t feel Ari in the trace. The bottle extinguished much of Jai’s energy. He hoped that was the cause and not that Ari was…

    The not knowing whether she was alive or dead was the worst part of al of this. If he ever got out of the bottle he’d been trapped in only to discover that Ari was gone…

    … Jai couldn’t breathe.

    How would he ever come back from that?

    Her sweet smile filed the dark and Jai rubbed a hand over his chest where it ached. So this was what it was like to love someone this deeply?

    Thinking of his captors brought furious tears to his eyes, tears he hadn’t alowed since he was a boy. He was wounded by the knowledge of who they were—the

    people that were supposed to protect him. He was gutted by the truth that he should have taken his own advice long before now and kept his distance from Ari. He didn’t want to love anyone this much. Ever.

    Now it was too late. There was no going back. He couldn’t walk away from her now even if his survival instincts told him he should.

    He had to get out of here. He had to save her….

    The black and white checkered floor of the Bitar home reminded her far too much of a chessboard. White’s thievery—stealing Jai from her—was a taunt like his last, when he’d kiled Ari’s adoptive father, Derek. “Checkmate.”

    Bastard.

    Grief rippled over her anew, hitting her like it did when she least expected it. An anger she hadn’t felt towards Sala since meeting her, ate at her. She’d destroyed Derek’s life. She’d put him in danger. And worse, he’d loved Sala and never truly loved Ari because of it.

    Throwing aside those unwanted, ugly feelings, Ari listened as footsteps echoed down the halway towards her, a clickety-clack, clickety-clack of heels making her stomach knot with dread. Great. Nicki Bitar. As if Ari realy wanted to ask that psycho for help. She didn’t even have Red at her side to pressure the wicked stepmother. He was off acting as messenger, doing the only thing he could by notifying Michael Roe of Charlie’s whereabouts. She could only hope they were wiling to use their resources to find and stop him.

    Nicki came into view, her dark Irish beauty so hateful to Ari she had an absurd urge to rake her nails down the witch’s face. Ari hated her for what she’d done to Jai and she knew she didn’t even know the half of the cruelty she’d committed against him. Nicki came to a stop a few checkers from Ari, her pretty mouth twisted into a smirk. “What do you want?”

    “I want to speak with Luca.”

    “He’s not home.”

    Crap. Fidgeting, trying not to feel panicky, Ari wondered if she should just refuse to leave until he returned. She knew she could rely on Luca’s sense of honor at least to help her find Jai, but Nicki? She was a heartless cow when it came to her stepson. “Jai’s been taken,” she snapped. “I have reason to believe that Luca can help me find him.”

    “Help you how?” Nicki shook her head, her eyes narrowed in bitter hate. “There is no way we’re bringing our tribe into that war for a piece of scum.”

    “You watch your mouth,” Ari snarled, taking a menacing step towards her. Satisfaction thrummed through her when Nicki flinched and stepped back. As if she was afraid.

    Of course. Ari sneered. She stil believed Ari was the Seal.

    Before either of them could say another word, the large double entrance door drew their attention as one of the doors swung open. Luca Bitar entered, his

    appearance surprisingly scruffy. He looked tired. He stopped at the sight of Ari before him, his eyes widening with relief it seemed.

    “Luca.” Nicki marched past Ari towards him, her voice high with surprise. “What are you doing home so early?”

    He shot her a hateful look. “Why didn’t you cal to let me know Ari was here?”

    “She just got here. I was going to.”

    “Liar,” Ari hissed.

    Luca shoved his wife’s hand off his arm and hurried to Ari’s side. “We have him, Ari.”

    Her mouth fel open in shock, her stomach flipping. That was not what she’d been expecting him to say. “What?” she breathed in disbelief, horror and hope.

    “The White King ordered me to place Jai in a bottle where Teruze could guard over him in the treasure room.”

    His words were barely out of his mouth and Ari was spinning around, ready to bolt for the room where Luca kept al manner of precious items. His firm grip

    clamped down around her wrist, whirling her back around to face him.

    “Ari, Teruze is very old. He wil kil you if you dare try to unleash Jai from his imprisonment.”

    “Then you unleash him!” Ari yeled, fury and disgust for him blazing in her eyes. Jai was his son! How could he do this to him? Her hand curled into a fist and she had to physicaly restrain herself from socking him in the mouth.

    “I can’t,” he pleaded with her, seeming nothing like the man she had come to know and dislike. He appeared so much older than he used to. “Only I can order

    Teruze to back off and only I can unleash Jai, but The White King promised he would destroy my entire Tribe if I, wilingly, freed Jai. I know I have made decisions you don’t agree with regarding Jai. I know my son and I are not close, but Ari I would never wish that kind of hel on him. Trapped in a bottle, it’s like being in the hole in prison. For weeks. I… I’ve been waiting for you or The Red King to show up and order me to let him go. It’s the only way around my oath to The White King. Ari.”

    He pinched her arm desperately. “He’s stil my son. You have to believe me when I say I never wanted this. Order me to free him. Command me!”

    “I can’t,” she breathed harshly. “Asmodeus ripped the Seal from me. He has it now.”

    “WHAT?” White’s below roared around the entire mansion as he stepped out of the Cloak, advancing on Ari with dark questions in his eyes. For a moment she was stunned she hadn’t felt him hiding there, and then she realized… she was no longer the Seal. She no longer had the gift of detecting Jinn hiding in the Cloak. Shit! “I wondered what this trick was, why you were pretending not to feel me hiding in the Cloak. What is going on?”

    Luca made a valiant attempt to stand between Ari and White, but the Jinn King barely looked at him as he swept his hand out, sending Luca crashing back with invisible hands against one of Nicki’s ugly portraits. Nicki made a choked sound of distress as she rushed to Luca’s side and Ari barely registered White’s proximity as she waited for signs of life from Jai’s dad. When he groaned, Ari sagged with relief. When she freed Jai, the last thing she wanted to tel him was that his dad was dead.

    Assured that Nicki was seeing to him, Ari turned to face White. A sense of relish, of triumph overwhelmed her as she took in her real father’s rage. The cool, carefuly blank expression he’d adopted as a perennial mask had finaly slipped. He was feeling something.

    Good.

    He’d taken so much from her.

    It was nice to have him bested for once.

    Feeling as though she were standing under the heavy breaths of a dragon, Ari tried not to flinch when he took another step closer. “They played you al along,” she taunted him softly. “Azazil told Asmodeus to let Sala seduce him because he knew what you planned and he wanted you to do it.”

    “Liar,” he growled but something flickered in the back of his eyes, as though he’d heard this al before? Ari narrowed her eyes in suspicion as White took another step toward her. “Why would Azazil want the Seal in human form?”

    Tired of his dementedly stubborn blind faith in Lilif, Ari wondered if the truth would finaly knock some sense into White. “Lilif realy does want The After. I should know. The Seal, it’s realy your mother’s essence. The thing you’d been looking for? You had it al along until you used it to impregnate my mother.”

    His eyes narrowed and Ari waited a moment to make sure he wasn’t going to lash out at her before she decided to continue.

    “Azazil thought putting Lilif’s power into a Jinn through natural birth would perhaps provide him with a Jinn with her power, but lacking her madness. That it would somehow bring the old balance back. Instead it backfired. I started getting al of these visions. They were Lilif’s memories. Her essence, it’s not just her power. It’s actualy her. And she was trying to take control of my body. And these memories… I saw you. She played you. She let-” Ari choked off as his large hand shot out and wrapped around her throat. She clawed at it in panic as he lifted her off the ground, her weight nothing to him as he held her close.

    “You lie,” he snarled. “They’ve poisoned you with their lies. Planted seeds, visions, doubts.” He shook her like a rag dol and Ari felt her eyes rol back in her head.

    “Command me to do something.”

    How could she? She gasped, her nails biting into his hand, her legs kicking out at him.

    Abruptly he released her and she colapsed onto her knees coughing and spluttering as she tried to draw breath.

    “Command me!”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire