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  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Scorched Skies (Page 6)     
  • Scorched Skies(Fire Spirits #2)(6) by Samantha Young
  • “Oh yeah?”

    “Yeah.” He took a moment, thinking something over before he finally asked, “Are you and Ari dating?”

    Charlie choked, surprised by the unexpected question. “What makes you ask that?”

    “She’s hot.”

    Groaning, Charlie covered his eyes in mortification. “Oh man, it’s too weird for my kid brother to be calling girls ‘hot’.”

    Mike snorted. “I just said I made out with someone.”

    “Yeah, but she was a kid I don’t know. This is Ari, man. Don’t call Ari hot.”

    “But she is hot,” he replied indignantly.

    “I know, stop saying it.” Charlie laughed. It was too weird.

    Mike made a face. “So are you dating?”

    Did Mike have a crush on Ari? He started chuckling again. “Not yet.”

    “Aw man, that means you’re going to.”

    He started laughing harder and Mike got up with the sole purpose of punching Charlie on the arm. That only made him double over.

    “Come on, stop it,” Mike whined.

    “Wait until I tell her.”

    “You wouldn’t!”

    “Oh I would.”

    “Biggest mistake you’ll ever make,” Mike predicted, heading for the door.

    “And why’s that?”

    “Because once she knows I’m interested she’ll dump you faster than a hot potato.”

    Charlie nearly fell off his seat this time in hysterics. When he finally pulled himself together, Mike was grinning at him with a familiar stubborn glint in his eye. “You think I’m kidding.”

    “Stick to girls in the eighth grade, Mikey. You’ll have an easier time with them.”

    Seeming to think a minute, Mike sighed. “OK, dude, you can have her if you really like her. Just be really cool to her because she’s really nice. She doesn’t talk to me like I’m five.”

    Yeah, Ari was cool. She was the most patient person he’d ever met. She could sit and listen to the most annoying people drone on forever, like that irritant she’d started hanging out with from her chem lab class, Rachel something or other. But Ari was just like that. She was kind. The nicest girl he’d ever met. They just had this bond. Like no one else knew the other as well as they did. Add the fact that she was, as Mikey put it, ‘hot’, kind of made it hard to keep their relationship platonic. Holding back another grin, Charlie nodded. “Thanks. You had me worried there.”

    Mikey rolled his eyes. “Yeah I can tell.” He turned to leave, missing Charlie’s silent chuckles. Then just as he was about to step out he turned back and asked, “You still picking me up from Little League on Saturday?”

    Aw crap was it this Saturday he was on Little League duty? Charlie frowned, thinking about the big plans he had for Ari’s sixteenth birthday. He was having this big bouquet of red roses made up for her and he’d booked a table at one of the nicer restaurants in town. Then he thought they could drive out to the Ridge and he could finally tell her how he felt. He was hoping by the end of the night he’d know exactly what her mouth tasted like, how her lips felt, what the curve of her hip felt like under his hand. He shifted, feeling warm at the direction of his thoughts.

    “Are you blushing?” Mikey asked, suspicion in his gaze.

    Remembering he was not alone, Charlie shuffled around in his chair, facing away from his kid brother. “I can take you on Saturday but you need to be ready real quick because I’m taking Ari out for her birthday.”

    “Can I come?”

    “No. But I’ll drop you off at Sarah’s if you want?” he teased.

    “Sarah’s not my girlfriend,” Mikey snorted, pulling the door open. “She’s just one of my many women.”

    “Get out of here, Casanova.”

    With a sigh, Mike closed the door behind him. Charlie had only just begun to let his mind wander into fantasy land where Ari played a prominent part when the door opened again. “What’s a Casanova?”

    “A walking STD,” Charlie growled playfully, throwing his pencil at the door so Mike hurried to slam it shut.

    His muffled words filtered through the woods. “What’s an STD?”

    “You’ll find out in health class, munchkin. Now. Go. To. Sleep.”

    The huffy retort faded as he ambled across to his bedroom, “The name is Mike.”

    Shaking his head in wonder, disbelieving that little Mikey was already making out with girls in closets, Charlie pushed his math homework away. He had better remember to tell Ari he was pushing their date back half-an-hour. Oh, and that she now had two Creagh’s crushing on her…

    … Mikey had died that weekend. Everything had changed. Everybody had changed. And no matter how much Charlie wanted to let go, he knew the only way to put Mikey’s ghost to rest was to find the bitch that had killed him. There in lay his problem with Ari.

    Ari still hadn’t returned his phone calls. It burned that she’d asked Jai to throw him out. It had burned to let him. But somehow he’d hurt the one person he’d never to meant to hurt. Again. He needed her to call. He needed to know that, despite her being upset at what he’d done, she understood, understood what he needed to do. And also… that she didn’t regret that amazing kiss. He’d played it over and over in his head the last few days trying to remember if he’d ever felt like that with a girl before. He hadn’t. Maybe it was because he loved Ari. He’d never loved any of those other girls.

    Before Mike, before everything went to hell, Charlie had had these big plans for him and Ari. They would finish school, maybe take a year out to travel together, and then come back home and go to the same college, maybe get an apartment together. Before Mike, Ari had been Charlie’s world. He’d watched her turn into this awesome girl and God, he didn’t think he’d ever meet anyone as beautiful as her. He wasn’t the only one who noticed. Guys at school had started asking him if they were together because if not they wanted to ask her out. The possessiveness, the jealousy that had torn through him woke him up and he’d realized then that he wanted Ari to be his and only his. Her sixteenth birthday was supposed to be the night it all happened. She’d known it was coming, he’d made it pretty obvious by talking about their future a lot in those weeks running up to it, and Charlie had been gratified to see that she wanted to be with him too. Such grand plans. To protect her like he’d always done, to take care of her and never neglect her like Derek had. But then Mikey happened… and Charlie hated himself so much he couldn’t bear it. He’d needed everyone else to hate him too.

    But Ari wouldn’t.

    He pushed her away, kept her at arm’s length, and yet she’d still loved him. He’d pushed harder. For a while she dated a couple of other guys and that had killed him to watch but he’d convinced himself otherwise. He’d drowned himself inside countless other girls, using them deplorably, not even really aware of anything but the need to disappear for a while.

    And then the relief to discover he wasn’t responsible for Mike’s death. Relief replaced the pain. Revenge replaced the hate. Discovering the truth about Ari, that she was some important mystical weapon in a Jinn war, didn’t faze him. OK. It was weird. And it had taken time to adjust, but once he came to terms with the facts about everything, it didn’t change the way he felt about her. He wanted to protect her again. And this time he wanted the means to be able to do it. The power the Marid had given him would aid him in hunting and killing the Labartu that had killed Mike. And after that, he’d use those powers to help safeguard Ari.

    Charlie grunted. That’s if the powers he’d been granted ever decided to make an appearance.

    When the Marid had first given him the powers he’d felt the surge of energy crash into his body in glorious heat. But now… nothing. Had The Red King lied to him? Had it been a test? Had he failed? Anger choked him at the thought as he watched his father grunt in his drunken stupor. He needed the powers to be real. He needed revenge.

    And he wanted Ari to call him back.

    When his cellphone buzzed in his back pocket, Charlie’s heart lurched in hope and he fumbled for it, pulling it out and grinning when he saw Ari’s picture on the caller ID. “Ari,” he breathed in relief as he answered.

    “It’s Jai,” a familiar gravelly and very male voice replied, instead of Ari’s husky feminine one. “I have bad news.”

    Charlie’s heart literally stopped and he found himself poised over a precipice he knew he’d tumble over and into the black if Jai told him something that meant he’d never hear Ari’s voice again.

    “You there?”

    “I’m here,” he managed, the blood whooshing in his ears.

    “Charlie… you better get over here. It’s Derek.”

    His heart slowed a little but the uneasiness that had wound its way into his muscles didn’t leave. “What’s happened? Where’s Ari?”

    “Unconscious. They were attacked.” Jai exhaled slowly, his voice deep and somber as he said, “Derek was killed.”

    Heartbreak for his friend sank into his very bones and he felt stiff and cold as he replied, “I’ll be right there.”

    Charlie was barely in the door at Ari’s when he noticed Jai giving him a funny look. His eyes bore into him and the air of intimidation that wafted off of the Jinn succeeded in making Charlie wish for an extra inch of height, even though he was already a little over six feet tall.

    “You look different,” Jai said, his eyes narrowed, a hint of mockery in them.

    Feeling somewhat embarrassed by his new look, Charlie rubbed a hand over his shorn head and shrugged. He’d cut off his shaggy hair and it was now close-shaven like Jai’s. The barber shop was next to the tattoo parlor in town and in a moment of utter over-confidence (when he thought his sorcerer powers would make themselves apparent at any moment) he’d had a tattoo inked around his right wrist. He self-consciously moved his hand from his hair to his wrist. “I was bored.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire