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  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Scorched Skies (Page 7)     
  • Scorched Skies(Fire Spirits #2)(7) by Samantha Young
  • “What’s the tat say?” Jai tilted his head to the side trying to get a better look.

    Charlie straightened his shoulders, lifting his gaze to meet Jai’s directly. “Justice, in Arabic.”

    For a moment, Jai’s face was deadly serious and he appeared to be measuring Charlie carefully. Finally, after a moment of taut silence, Jai smirked at him. “Did you get the translation online?”

    Bracing himself for a smart comment, Charlie shrugged, not wanting to feed him food for mockery.

    “Let me see it. It might say ‘I love my cat’ or something.”

    “Whatever,” Charlie growled back, but he held out his hand anyway. Jai grabbed it a little too roughly and Charlie cut him a dirty look. The Jinn was unmoved by Charlie’s attempt at intimidation, he always was, and it was starting to rub him the wrong way. “Well?” he snapped.

    Jai nodded. “It says justice. Luckily for you. You know you can’t trust online translations.”

    “I’m not stupid, I checked it out on a number of sites.”

    Were they really talking about his tattoo when Ari’s dad was… gone?

    As if reading his thoughts Jai grew serious again. “Ari’s upstairs with her uncle. She was still unconscious when he brought her here.”

    They stood together as Jai filled him in on what he imagined went down in Vickers’ Woods and then what had happened afterwards. Shaking a little, Charlie walked slowly into the sitting room, his eyes catching on a photograph of Ari and Derek in their backyard playing softball. Charlie had taken the photograph years ago. Pain clawed at his chest and knocked the wind right out of him. Derek was gone. How the hell was Ari going to deal with that?

    “So you were bored?” Jai asked, following him into the room.

    Charlie nodded, glad for the distraction. “I thought I’d feel different, be able to do stuff, but so far, nothing.”

    The Jinn eyed him flatly. “Sorcerers generally need talismans to power their energy, natural metals and stones. Unless they’re defending themselves… oh man.” Jai sighed heavily, running a hand over his short hair. Charlie noted the guardian had a habit of doing that when he was in a situation he didn’t want to be in. Which was a lot. “I suppose I better tell you what I just told Ari.”

    Leaning against one of the shelving units, his arms crossed over his chest, not wanting to sit down and lose advantage over the Jinn, Charlie listened as Jai explained how magic use had consequences; how, unless the Jinn were defending themselves or using specific abilities born to them, they had to pull objects from other places. It sounded a little like stealing and Charlie knew right away that Ari had not taken this news very well. He smiled evilly at the Jinn, hoping that for once he was in Ari’s bad books. The relationship between Jai and Ari bothered Charlie. When Jai wasn’t looking Charlie had caught Ari watching the Jinn with something he’d never seen in her eyes before and when Ari wasn’t looking Charlie had caught Jai watching Ari with a look in his eyes that Charlie knew all too well. Jai could deny it until his face turned blue, but Charlie knew Jai had feelings for Ari. “Ari must be pretty pissed at you right about now.”

    “Right about now I think she’s awakening to discover her dad is dead.”

    Cursing under his breath and feeling ashamed for the millionth time, Charlie shook his head. Thinking of Ari and how she’d handle losing her dad, Charlie sank into a chair and eyed the room. “I never really understood Derek,” he admitted.

    “Oh?”

    He shrugged and looked over at Jai who had mirrored his actions, lowering himself to a chair. He looked genuinely interested, and Charlie wondered if the feelings Jai had for Ari were more than physical. “Derek always kept Ari at a distance. Even when we were kids. It was like he loved her but was afraid to, you know.”

    They were silent a moment, the pall in the air growing thicker as reality developed from words into the physical. Ari’s dad was dead. She would feel all alone. But she wasn’t. He wouldn’t let that happen to her.

    As if reading his thoughts, Jai’s deep voice cut through the room, “Why did you do it, Charlie? The sorcerer wish. And who did it? Surely you know that whoever it was has an agenda all their own?”

    “I’m not stupid. I realize that… that the Jinn who helped me will want something from me in return. But I finally have a chance to do something about what happened to Mike. I don’t feel powerless anymore.” Just tired of being questioned and eyed like I’m some kind of criminal.

    “Revenge will get you killed.”

    “It might, yeah.”

    “No. It will.”

    Charlie frowned. Could Jai really find it dishonorable of him to want to avenge his little brother’s murder? Unsure of Jai’s opinion of him and unsure of how to reply, Charlie froze. Words hadn’t even formed in Charlie’s mind yet when flames crackled in the air and The Red King stepped out of the Peripatos. Was it weird that Charlie didn’t even blink at that now?

    “Ari is going to be OK,” he told them, his usual relaxed demeanor gone and replaced by something tense and wary. “She should wake up soon.” He looked at Jai. “Did you do what I asked?”

    “Ari should get a call very soon.”

    Charlie frowned, feeling very much out of the loop. “About what?”

    “Derek’s body.”

    Oh right. Jai had told him he’d left him in his car where he’d be found at the side of the woods. The coroner would declare the death as caused by an aneurism. Charlie felt a little sick. Derek’s death was being treated as something that needed to be tidied up nice and easy for Ari to deal with. It somehow dehumanized the man they were talking about.

    “Who knows how Ari will react to this. We have to make sure she doesn’t do anything foolish.” The Red King had a determined blaze in his eyes that Charlie wouldn’t want to mess with.

    Anger churned in his gut as he looked Ari’s uncle over and was reminded of his brother, Ari’s father. “It was definitely The White King then?”

    The Red King nodded. “He’s trying to bait Ari into doing something that will land her trapped in Mount Qaf. He plans for her to take revenge against the Jinn who did this, possibly even attempt revenge against him. And if she does that she’ll be forced to Mount Qaf to face trial and my brother will use that opportunity to try to get what he wants from her.”

    “So what now?” Jai asked quietly.

    “Now I wait around for her to wake up,” The Red King said. “I’ll explain why an attempt to kill The White King is a bad thing. I just hope that this time the Seal is in the hands of someone who cares nothing for power and will not misuse it.”

    “It is,” Charlie assured him finding his own voice twinned with Jai’s as they replied in unison. They glanced at one another, their eyes narrowing warily like two opponents stepping into the ring.

    5 - War Shivers in the Darkness… Waiting

    “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.”

    Dad, no.

    Smoke rose all around him as he stared at her with anguished eyes.

    The smell of burning flesh clogged her throat, hitting her gag reflex.

    “I really do love you, kid. I guess I just never loved you enough.”

    No! His face flickered beneath the flames but he didn’t cry out in pain. She did that for him.

    He smiled a bittersweet smile even as the fire tore through him.

    “I will never regret keeping you safe, even if I didn’t know that’s what I was doing.”

    DAD, NO!

    Her eyes slammed open and then immediately shut themselves again at the bright glare of light in her bedroom. Taking a deep breath, sensing the presence of Jinn in her room, Ari fought her way through the nightmare to reality. What was she doing in bed? What had happened?

    She had been in Vickers’ Woods with her dad.

    Where was her dad?

    “Dad?” she pried her eyes open and felt her heart rate speed up at the sight of her uncle, The Red King, at the foot of her bed. He didn’t give her his usual laid-back smile. Instead he stared at her stonily in the relentless silence.

    Finally Ari let go of the breath she didn’t even know she’d been holding and she pushed herself up into a sitting position. She was still in the clothes she’d been wearing when she’d chased her dad out to Vickers’ Woods but the sky was darkening outside so some hours had passed since then. “What’s going on?”

    “Derek is dead.”

    The words didn’t register at first. Ari blinked, her brain automatically trying to rearrange the sentence so it made sense. “What?” her lips felt numb all of sudden.

    “Derek is dead. He was killed.”

    Derek is dead.

    Ari shook her head, fumbling to push herself off the bed. She stumbled to her feet and shoved strength into her legs. She charged past her uncle and out of her room, racing down the hallway to her dad’s bedroom. She pushed open the door and found it empty. That didn’t mean anything. He was probably downstairs. Shaking now, Ari spun around to leave only to find the entrance blocked by The Red King.

    “He’s gone, Ari.”

    “No.” She shook her head, anger making her eyes glitter with unshed tears. “You’re lying.”

    Her uncle shook his head sadly. “The White King sent two Shaitans after you. One knocked you out in the woods and the other gave Derek a brain aneurism.”

    It was blunt. Harsh. It didn’t make sense. Dad? The things he’d said. Blunt. Something had hit her. It hurt. She’d switched off. DAD! “I want to see him,” her voice shook. “I want to see him.”

    “We put him back in his car. Someone will find him and the coroner will declare it natural causes. It’ll be easier that way.”

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