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  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Scorched Skies (Page 8)     
  • Scorched Skies(Fire Spirits #2)(8) by Samantha Young
  • Natural causes?

    Derek is dead.

    The room spun and Ari fought to draw in oxygen. Everything. It had been for nothing. She hadn’t saved him. Who had she been kidding? Derek is dead.

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

    “The White King?” she whispered hoarsely, hitting the floor with a painful thud when she miscalculated the space between her and the bed. She was vaguely aware of The Red King’s strong hands wrapping around her upper arms as he lifted her easily, like plucking a daisy from the grass. He sat her down on the bed and took two careful steps backwards. Ari found herself focusing on those very blue eyes of his. “The White King?” Her father had done this? Deliberately?

    Dad.

    The pain exploded out of her in soul wrenching fury as she screamed, the wail turning to body jarring sobs. She couldn’t feel her limbs. Everything was gone except for the agony in her heart and burning fire in her throat. There were distant sounds all around her. Hurried footsteps growing louder. Familiar male voices calling out in anxiety. And in among it all The Red King’s voice was there, authoritative, flat, in control. After a long while her cries began to slow, to ease, to quiet, and she became aware of the soft fabric against her wet cheeks. Ari blinked, the world returning to her in painful gulps. She was lying on her dad’s bed. It was dark outside now. Her swollen eyes looked over, following the Jinn presence she felt in the room. The Red King sat beside her on the bed, watching her. They were alone. Ari could have sworn Jai and Charlie had been in the room.

    “Why?” she croaked, another tear slipping down her cheek.

    Her dad was gone. Why?

    The Red King reached over, brushing her hair from her face in a fatherly gesture that added another crack to her already broken heart. “My brother’s plan was twofold. One, killing Derek was revenge for you outwitting him and two, if you seek vengeance for what he’s done, if you kill the Jinn who did this, you will be forced to Mount Qaf to be tried in court. Once The White King has you in Mount Qaf he’d use that opportunity to manipulate you to his will.”

    Ari let that settle on her for a moment.

    A moment was all it took for a small ember to flare into a rage. She sat bolt up, her body suddenly firing with energy. “I’m not going to kill the Shaitan that did this. I’m going to use my power against The White King. I’ll stop him. I can command him to stop this.” Ari was surprised but gratified to realize that the threat did not sound stupid or empty. It was real. After all, she was the Seal of Solomon.

    The Red King’s eyes darkened. “No.”

    “No.” She glared at him. “What do you mean no? I thought you were on my side.”

    “I am. And if you command one of the Seven Kings of Jinn to your side, Azazil will see that as a threat and it won’t matter what side I’m on, I won’t be able to stop my father from doing all he can to destroy you.”

    “Then I’ll command Azazil to back off.”

    The Red King threw her a condescending look. “In that book that Jai gave you… did it not tell you the full of extent of Azazil’s importance?”

    “What do you mean?” she asked warily.

    “Azazil is the father of our kind, the first. The balance of order is contingent upon his existence; life, destiny, chaos, destruction are all bound to him. Even I, his son, do not know the depths of Azazil. All I know is that he is connected to all the realms in ways you cannot begin to imagine. He is known in many worlds, and in many cultures, and he has many names. The power of the Seal may be great enough to command him to his knees but nothing is powerful enough to deal with the consequences if a being connected to the balance of life itself falls in supplication to a teenage girl bent on revenge.”

    “Oh.” Ari’s heart pounded in her chest in realization. “No. That wasn’t in Jai’s book.”

    “I am sorry for your loss, Ari.” The Red King sighed and Ari looked at him closely, searching for some sincerity. She thought she found it but after what Jai had told her, Ari wasn’t sure she could trust this man.

    “What am I supposed to do?” another tear scored her cheek as she gazed around her dad’s room. “Where do I go from here?”

    “My advice?”

    “Yes?”

    “You deal with your dad’s funeral and we get you out of here. This is only the beginning. You can’t sit idly by in this house and wait for my brother to come to you. We need to plan our next move. But you,” he brushed another strand of hair off her face, “Have barely had time to process this.”

    The house phone rang just then, jolting Ari into reality. She glanced at the phone on her dad’s bedside table and then looked back at The Red King. He nodded solemnly and sickening dread filled her as she reached over and picked up the receiver.

    Even though she knew, even though she’d expected it, it was horrifying to listen to the police officer tell her that her dad was dead. She was given instructions to come to the morgue to verify that it was his body. She let the receiver drop and swallowed back vomit. It burned her throat and she waved a weak hand over the bedside cabinet, imagining one of the water bottles from her fridge. It appeared before her and she took a swig, thinking about what Jai had told her.

    “You made Jai lie to me about the consequences of using my magic,” she whispered.

    “I did it to save your dad.”

    “You did save him.” She swallowed down tears and looked back over at him and shrugged. “I didn’t.”

    “You couldn’t have stopped them, Ari.”

    “No, I could have. That’s why they knocked me out.”

    “Then we’ll work on some training. Jai can teach you to be more aware of your surroundings and teach you to use your defensive magic.”

    “Can he teach me to turn back time?”

    “No,” he answered softly.

    Ari nodded, pulling herself up and onto her feet. She wobbled a bit. “Today my dad was honest with me for the first time in my life.”

    The Red King returned her gaze, waiting, offering a quiet kind of solace. God she wished she could trust him.

    “I never really knew him.” She shrugged, feeling brittle and irritable. Her skin felt dry and her bones felt sore, and every movement made her muscles scream. “How can I be in this much pain when I didn’t even know him?”

    “You knew what he allowed you to know, Ari. And you loved him. I don’t know what happened out there between you before you were attacked, but whatever it was… it doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to grieve.”

    Nodding, Ari headed towards the door and stopped when she saw Jai and Charlie waiting in the hallway. Charlie looked ready to launch himself across the hall at her but she didn’t want to be touched right now.

    “Jai, please accompany Ari to the county morgue,” The Red King commanded softly.

    “I’ll go with her,” Charlie offered.

    No.

    Okay. The Red King’s voice echoed back in her head and she realized with a gentle start that that was the first time they’d spoken to one another telepathically. Ari had done it without thinking.

    “No. I need Jai guarding her. You’re back on full-time duty as of now, Mr. Bitar.”

    “Of course,” the sound of Jai’s gravelly voice felt soothing against Ari’s agitated body.

    Not able to meet Charlie’s eyes, Ari walked past them and down the stairs. She saw her car keys in the bowl at the door. Jai must have brought her car back.

    Derek is dead.

    It knocked the breath right out of her and when she turned to wait on Jai, a tear slipped out before she could stop it. Jai’s expression was pained as he took the last step off the staircase towards her. He stopped inches from her, much closer than he normally stood, so close she could smell that skin-tingling cologne he wore. When his hand came up to her cheek and she felt the gentle press of his thumb sweeping her tears away, Ari unconsciously leaned into his touch, no longer feeling brittle, no longer wanting space. She wanted to dive into Jai’s arms and feel his heartbeat against her ear. She wanted to feel vital life wrapped around her in a moment when death seemed so much stronger.

    “I’m sorry,” he whispered, his fingers trailing down her cheek before his arm fell back to his side.

    She nodded and looked over his shoulder to see Charlie watching them, his eyes bright with pain. That hurt. Ari offered him a wobbly smile. “I’ll be back soon.”

    “Ari…” Charlie breathed and she knew he wanted to come to her.

    “I know,” she whispered. She should have let him. She should have let him enfold her in his arms and offer her the comfort she sought. But he wasn’t the one she wanted the comfort from. He wouldn’t ever be when Jai was standing so close.

    Sick to her stomach, Ari turned and grabbed her keys, bracing herself for the horror ahead.

    6 - Diamond-Sewn Solitude is Just a Richer Loneliness

    Ari stood in Derek’s bedroom trembling. Everything was taken care of. Jai and Charlie had been a great help. The funeral was tomorrow. She had picked out a suit for her dad and Charlie had taken it to the funeral home. Jai and Charlie had made all the arrangements and she’d signed where she needed to, signed the checks. Charlie had even picked out the casket because she was too distraught to do much of anything. The guys had even sat with her while a lawyer went over her dad’s will. Everything was now hers and she was eighteen so… she was on her own. Her dad had bought an apartment in Philadelphia that she hadn’t known about and it was in her name. For college she presumed. She’d have to put the house on the market and she’d have to sell that apartment too. She couldn’t stay here even if she wasn’t being hunted by a powerful Jinn King. Too many memories. Too much hurt.

    Covered in grime and dust, Ari had attacked her dad’s bedroom with blank energy. Everything was thrown into cardboard boxes, some for goodwill, some for the garbage, some she couldn’t help but want to keep.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire