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  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Scorched Skies (Page 9)     
  • Scorched Skies(Fire Spirits #2)(9) by Samantha Young
  • Even though a huge, guilty part of her was still furious with her dad.

    And now this.

    She glanced around at the work she’d done, the envelope in her hand crushing under her tense fingers. Jai, she telepathed to him and waited, listening to his footsteps climb the stairs immediately.

    “What’s wrong?” he asked quietly, stepping into the room.

    Ari ached when she turned to look at him — so glad he was here for her but sad that she was growing more and more attached when she should be deliberately pushing him away. Sighing, trying to still her shaking hands, she held out the envelope she’d found in the drawer of her dad’s bedside table.

    “What’s this?” Jai frowned, his lashes covering his vivid eyes as he looked down at the item in his hand.

    “My 18th birthday present.”

    He tilted the envelope letting the keys fall out of it and into his palm. He held them up, questions in his eyes.

    Heart hammering, Ari held up the piece of paper they had come with. “He bought me that apartment in Philadelphia for my birthday.”

    Sympathy softened Jai’s features and he nodded, seeming unsure what to say. Finally he shrugged. “Would you like to check it out?”

    “How?”

    “I’ll teach you to use the Peripatos.”

    Little nervous gremlins tickled Ari’s stomach. “Now?”

    “Yeah, now.”

    “OK.”

    “You have an item that connects you to the place you want to go, so that should help.” He dropped the keys into her palm taking measures to make sure they didn’t touch one another. Ari frowned. He was in love with someone else. She got that already!

    “What now?”

    “Give me the address?”

    She handed him the slip of paper and he glanced at it quickly before giving it back to her. “OK. You have to really focus. Are you sure you’re able to concentrate.”

    “I can do this,” she assured him firmly, a little excited now at the thought of using her powers. “Just tell me how.”

    “Concentrate on the thought of that apartment, on the apartment that the keys in your hand open. Think of nothing else. Focus. Imagine taking a step into that apartment. Don’t try to visualize what it looks like, just imagine taking a step into the apartment that the keys in your hand open. Got it?”

    “Got it.”

    “Now, when you step into the Peripatos you’ll see the flames around you, touching you, but they won’t hurt you… they’re a part of you, so don’t panic and lose concentration.”

    And that was exactly what Ari did.

    The flames flooded out of her, up and around her, and she panicked. All thought of the apartment disappeared as fear sluiced over her like water dousing the flames of the Peripatos. Ari frowned. She was still in Derek’s bedroom looking at a patient Jai.

    He smiled softly at her and it did what the flames hadn’t. It melted her. “Don’t panic this time. I’ll be right behind you.”

    Taking a deep, shuddering breath Ari refocused. And this time when the flames exploded out of her she ignored them, the keys in her hand biting into her skin being the only anchor she needed. Wind rustled through her hair and the world blurred and swayed. It was dizzying, disorientating but also kind of exhilarating. The flames hissed and melted into nothing and Ari leaned against the nearest wall for support. Her legs were a little wobbly. Flames burst before her and Jai stepped out of the Peripatos with a casualness she envied.

    “You OK?”

    Ari exhaled, taking a moment to glance around the small but contemporary apartment she stood in. “From the Peripatos? Yes. This…?” she trailed off and took a few steps into the main room. It was open-plan with brick walls and plush, modern furniture. The kitchen was modern and luxurious and the sitting room had everything. There was a flat screen TV, sound system, computer desk and laptop in the corner. There were red bows wrapped around some of the items. Derek must have been planning to drive her to the city and surprise her with this. Jai waited quietly as she wandered down a narrow hall. A big bathroom, travertine tiling, massive showerhead, gold-plated taps. It was stunning. Just down the hall from it was one bedroom. Big. Walk in closet. Leather sleigh bed.

    The apartment was gorgeous.

    And lonely.

    The anger that had been buried beneath her skin erupted. Ari wanted to tear her hair out or scream, throw something, beat someone up! She stomped down the hall, her eyes blazing, not caring that Jai took a step back in surprise, his mouth dropping open at the feral state of her.

    “Ari?” he asked tentatively, holding a hand up in question.

    “Do you see this place?” she snapped, gesturing around frantically.

    “It’s very nice,” Jai answered slowly, his eyebrows drawing together in total confusion.

    “It’s a one -bedroom apartment, Jai. He bought me an apartment for my first year in college. He didn’t even think! How was I supposed to make friends? He pushed me into applying to this stupid place and then thought I’d be happy living alone with no friends. What? Was I not allowed to experience the dorms or sorority or anything that involved human companionship?”

    “Ari… it’s OK…”

    “No it’s not,” she hissed, angry tears spilling down her cheeks as she looked anywhere but at Jai. “He didn’t know me. He thought I’d be happy alone like he was. He didn’t even love me.”

    Jai clucked and took a wary step towards her. “That’s not true. Your dad… he made mistakes… but he loved you.”

    “Not enough,” she whispered, the memory of their conversation in the woods burning in the back of her throat. “He told me so before he was killed.”

    Jai stopped, his face clouding over. “What are you talking about?”

    “At the woods. He told me he was selfish. That he kept me because I was part of Sala but that he shouldn’t have done that. He admitted he was a crappy father.” She paused, brushing a trembling hand across the granite breakfast bar. “Told me that he never loved me enough, that he wished he’d been able to love me the way I deserved.” The tears stopped with the confession and a cold hardness settled inside her. “This apartment is testament to how little he knew me. How little he’d cared to know me.”

    She heard Jai shifting uncomfortably behind her and she turned to say something to lighten the mood only to be surprised to find he wasn’t uncomfortable. He was furious. His hands were clenched into fists at his sides and his jaw was locked with what Ari guessed was determination to keep quiet. A rush of emotion crashed over her, knocking some of that brick hardness down. Jai may be in love with someone else but he was lying if he said he didn’t care about her a little. This reaction was proof of that. “It’s OK,” she assured him. “I’m going to be OK.”

    He nodded, his eyes blazing. “You deserve better than that, Ari.”

    “Even after… even after everything he said… I still miss him.”

    And just like that Jai’s anger shifted to understanding and before she knew what was happening he reached over and pulled her into an embrace. She stumbled against him and clutched tightly to him in surprise. She nuzzled against his hard chest, inhaling the familiar comforting scent of him. His embrace was just as she imagined it would be, his arms tight and strong around her. His heart beat reassuringly beneath her ear, albeit beating a little too fast. Ari felt safe and loved in his arms. He gave good hugs. She smiled a little, her arms wrapped snug around his waist, palms pressed to his strong back. Ari found herself wanting to dig her fingers into the muscle there and pull him closer. She managed to talk herself out of it. “You’re allowed to miss him, Ari,” Jai whispered into her ear and she tried to cover the shiver that rippled down her back at the feel of his lips next to her skin. “You’re allowed to love him. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Please.”

    She nodded, unable to speak for fear she’d burst into tears. Jai had a wonderful way of destroying all of her defenses.

    “Good,” he said gruffly, rubbing a large hand across the middle of her back in comfort before setting her back from him. She let go immediately, not wanting to appear like a teenager with a crush. Been there, done that.

    With a quick glance at him from under her lashes she was disappointed to see his usual guardian, no-nonsense expression was back in place. She’d give anything to ruffle his feathers again like when they’d faced the Wind Demon in the New Mexico desert. Had that really only been days ago? When she’d been injured, Jai hadn’t been able to hide his concern and Ari wasn’t ashamed to admit that she’d lapped it up a little.

    “Ready to head back?”

    With one last glance around the apartment, Ari nodded sadly. “Let’s go.”

    Focusing on home, Ari stepped into the Peripatos, a little more prepared now for the discombobulating ride back to Ohio. She wobbled unsteadily despite her preparation as she stepped back out into her sitting room. Sympathy cards littered the mantelpiece over the fire and trays of unwrapped food were spread out on the coffee table. Her answer machine was blinking with dozens of messages of support. It was such a depressing place to be.

    The crackle of flames behind her barely registered with her. She was too busy staring at Charlie who was sitting on the sofa, his features angry and anxious.

    “Where have you been?” Charlie snapped, glaring at Jai over her shoulder. He jumped up off the sofa and strode towards her, standing so close Ari had to tilt her chin up to meet his eyes. The warmth from his body touched her despite her inability to really feel changing temperature. She guessed she was just that attuned to Charlie’s nearness.

    Annoyed at her traitorous body, Ari pressed a hand to her head, feeling a headache coming on. “We went to the apartment my dad left me.”

    Charlie touched her arm. “You OK?”

    She stepped away from him, trying not to be obvious. Charlie had been there for her these last few days; he’d been a great friend, and his mom had cooked her lots of food (as had many of her neighbors), so she didn’t have to worry about eating, but she was still mad. Maybe even more so now. And yet… despite how mad she was at him, she didn’t want to hurt him. Glancing down at the hand that touched her and was now falling dejectedly at his side, Ari’s eyes narrowed on his wrist. A tattoo? Since when? Her eyes flew up to his face and suddenly she realized why he looked so different. He’d cut all of his amazing hair off. “You cut your hair.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire