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  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Scorched Skies (Page 4)     
  • Scorched Skies(Fire Spirits #2)(4) by Samantha Young
  • “You’ve had time, Dad. Lots of it. Why did you come here?”

    He shrugged, looking around him as if he were lost. “I used to come here a lot after my parents died. It seemed to be the only quiet place in town.”

    Ari came to an abrupt halt, his admission surprising her to her very core. He’d never spoken about his parents willingly before. He seemed to notice her surprise and smiled unhappily. “Yeah. Mom and Dad.” He slumped down onto a nearby log and for the first time, Ari noticed the little wrinkles at the corners of his eyes and touches of grey in his hair that hadn’t been there before. When his eyes seized hold of her she froze under his gaze, terrified by the unbearable sadness in them. “My dad wasn’t around much when I was kid and when he was, he was always drunk. My mom was a quiet woman, meek even, and she couldn’t cope with my father’s behavior. So she shut everyone out, including me. I pretty much raised myself. You know my dad was drunk when he was driving the car that killed them both?”

    A soft gasp escaped her open lips before she could stop it. “No, I didn’t know that.” You never told me.

    Shaking a little, Derek shrugged and then shoved a hand through his hair, pulling it back in frustration before letting go into a deeply weary slump. “I never knew how to be in a family, Ari. I never had that. It was always just me. And I didn’t know how to create one. Or if I even wanted to. Sala was the first woman I ever loved.” He nodded at her and Ari straightened at the mention of her mysterious mother.

    “What was she like?”

    “You look a lot like her. But it wasn’t just her beauty… she was fun and passionate and she believed in the impossible. Being around her was like being on the ultimate high all the time. I was addicted to her even though she was always coming in and out of my life whenever she felt like it. When I tried to ask her where she went when she wasn’t with me, or ask her about her life or her past, she’d grow distant and that scared me. So I stopped asking. I just wanted her there with me. But not asking didn’t stop her from leaving me and when she disappeared for nine months I was heartbroken. Her showing up on my doorstep pregnant and about to pop was like winning the lottery. I thought she’d stay, Ari. If not for me, then for you. But as soon as you were born she just… disappeared. I heard little whispers in my head telling me I should get a paternity test, make sure you were mine, but I was terrified… terrified you weren’t. And I really wanted you to be mine. I really wanted to have a piece of Sala.” He glanced up at her, tears shimmering in his eyes and Ari sucked in a watery breath, feeling her own eyes start to sting with unshed pain. “I really do love you, kid. I guess I just never loved you enough.”

    It was like a knife in the gut. Or a bullet in the heart. Or an arrow in the chest. Something sharp. Something painful. So painful. It hurt so much, and for a moment Ari couldn’t breathe from the impact of his words.

    Seeing how destructive his words had been a tear slipped down Derek’s cheek. “Sweetheart, I never meant to hurt you but you know I’ve been a shitty father. It was fine when you were a kid but you started getting older and you started looking more and more like her and it was hard… hard to be around you. I’ve always been alone, Ari. I don’t know anything else. I was never meant for anything else. It was selfish to keep you.”

    “Dad…?” she was sobbing quietly now, the tears spilling down her cheeks.

    “I wish I was a better father. I wish I was a better man. I wish I loved you the way that you deserve to be loved. I’ve been angry for years, Ari. And it wasn’t until I discovered the truth about you and Sala that I realized how angry I am at your mother.”

    She clutched her stomach, not sure she wanted to hear anymore. “Dad, please…”

    “I wish a lot of things, Ari. And I regret them all too. But discovering the impossible truth, that these beings are real — who you are, what they want from you. It took me a while to get my head around it but,” he paused, taking a breath, “What I’m trying to say is — despite it all, despite my shitty attempts — I will never regret keeping you safe, even if I didn’t know that’s what I was doing.”

    The bittersweet confession was the most honest conversation they’d ever had and it was also the most painful. Not sure what to say or where to go from there, Ari opened her mouth to speak. It was then that the woods erupted into fire, stalling her. She jumped to her feet, her body registering the threat before her brain did but by then it was too late. Something solid connected with her head and Ari barely had time for a last thought before all the lights went out.

    Because of the trace Jai had put on Ari when he’d kissed her that first time they’d been introduced, he could feel her emotions screaming and Jai could pretty much follow the shrieking. She had just pulled up to Vickers’ Woods. Jai collapsed onto Ari’s dad’s armchair, wondering what was happening out there. He knew it was about time those two hashed it out, but he was afraid for Ari. Afraid whatever Derek had to say was going to hurt her. And he had a horrible feeling she’d already been hurt today. By me. Feeling uncomfortable, Jai shifted uneasily. Ari wasn’t even in the room to pin him to the chair with those wounded eyes. He had done the right thing by not telling Ari about the magic. He had done his job. What did she want from him? She knew he worked for The Red King, she knew he was her guardian not her friend. What the hell was with the guilt trip? He cursed under his breath just as his cell rang. He tugged it out of his back pocket and flipped it open when he saw the name. “Trey, what’s up?”

    “Did she like it?” his friend asked with a grin in his voice.

    “Did who like what?”

    “Ari. Did she like the earring?”

    Jai clenched his jaw in irritation. He should never have even mentioned her, or that awkward, blazing moment at her door when she’d tried to kiss him and he’d been so close to giving in he thought he was going to explode with need for her. “Is that why you forced the earring on me? You said it was a congratulatory gift for getting this job. You know, the kind of gift a friend can’t refuse. But if this was some sick thing you got in your head about Ari-”

    “What the hell crawled up your ass?” Trey cut him off.

    “I told Ari the truth about magic.”

    “About time.”

    “Yeah, she didn’t take it very well.”

    “And you’re feeling guilty because you have feelings for her.”

    “Stop psycho-analyzing me. I don’t feel guilty. I’m just annoyed. I’m waiting on her returning. She ran off after her dad.”

    “He finally left his room?”

    Jai rolled his eyes. Trey’s mind was a steel-trap; mention the slightest detail and he’d remember it. “Yes, he did.”

    “Well, when she gets back and she forgives you for lying to her, bring her to L.A., I want to meet her.”

    Feeling a spark of unwanted jealousy, Jai found himself saying the words, “She’s off-limits, Trey,” before he could stop himself.

    His friend laughed. “It’s not like that. And I’m seeing someone at the moment anyway. He runs a nightclub downtown and he’s very hot. Human this time. The last Jinn I dated was no fun in an argument. She kept running off into the Peripatos every time things got heated.”

    “Was she the one that kicked off your girlfriend ban?”

    “Yeah, it didn’t last long. Although, I haven’t been with a woman in a week.”

    “So this nightclub guy is new?”

    “Yeah, we’ve been dating about a month.”

    Jai snorted, thinking how Rik, Trey’s dad, would have an apoplexy if he knew the truth about his son’s sexuality. Rik was stuck in the dark ages and completely homophobic. Trey often joked that he thought Rik wouldn’t go too mental because Trey dated girls as well as guys but Jai knew underneath, Trey was terrified of his father finding out the truth.

    “What?” Trey huffed, laughing. “We’re not monogamous or anything. I’m over that.”

    He was only over that because the last relationship he had been in had almost killed him. As well as being a guardian Jinn, Trey was an artist (something else his father didn’t know about). He’d fallen in love with an art dealer in L.A., and he and the guy had been seeing each other for just over a year when the guy finally got fed up of sitting around waiting for Trey to tell his family about them. He’d walked out and left Trey a mess.

    “Yeah.” Jai sighed. “So is that why you called? To annoy me about Ari?”

    “She sounds nice, man. And she sounds hot. I say forget about the old man and go for it.”

    “How do you know she’s hot? I haven’t even told you what she looks like.”

    “I know that look in a guy’s eyes when he thinks the person he’s talking about is hot. You were practically drooling.”

    Flushed with embarrassment, Jai snorted down the phone again, “You’re so full of it.”

    “You’re a dick.”

    “So are you.”

    “Well this is very mature,” Trey laughed. “But in all seriousness, Jai, you’ve got to let go of this crap with Luca.”

    “She’s just a girl.”

    “OK, maybe she is. You still gotta let this stuff go.”

    “I will if you tell your dad you bat for the other team.”

    “I don’t. I bat for both teams.”

    “You know what I mean.”

    There was silence down the other end of the line and then it crackled as Trey sighed heavily. “We’re trapped, aren’t we?”

    The truth of that statement stabbed at Jai. There was a possibility he was going to go through his whole life trying to measure up to his father’s inexorable expectations. And there was a chance he was going to lose everything that might have been meaningful trying. “I think we are, yeah.”

    After another moment’s silence, Trey asked, “So, did she like the earring?”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire