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  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Scorched Skies (Page 10)     
  • Scorched Skies(Fire Spirits #2)(10) by Samantha Young
  • He shrugged. “You noticed.” He sounded hurt.

    Immediately Ari felt bad and that pissed her off. She snapped, not thinking clearly as she said, “I’ve been kind of preoccupied.”

    Charlie blanched and Ari noted Jai taking a step towards him out of the corner of her eye. “I didn’t mean… shit… I’m sorry.”

    She ignored his apology and sullenly eyed the tattoo she hadn’t known about. Was she mad at him for making her feel bad or mad at him for getting a tattoo and not telling her about it? God she hoped not. She needed to get over that crap. “What’s the tattoo say?”

    The question caused him to suck in his breath and share a wary look with Jai. Ari glowered at them both. What was the big secret?

    Finally Charlie sighed. “It means Justice in Arabic.”

    And just like that Ari didn’t feel bad anymore. The anger came rushing back to the forefront and she glared at him. It would always be this way with him. Mike’s death was going to pollute everything he ever did. With one last cutting look, Ari turned on her heel and headed for the stairs.

    “Ari, wait!” Charlie called out to her not even bothering to hide his frustration and annoyance. “You’ve got to talk to me sometime!” he snapped.

    She flipped him off without looking at him and stomped up the stairs.

    It was Derek’s funeral tomorrow.

    Never enough. Ari fell onto her bed, tears seeping into her pillow. It was never enough…

    …This wasn’t her room Ari frowned, stepping across the black marble floor. The widest bed she’d ever seen was sitting in the middle of the room, brightly colored silks and velvets giving it a majestic Middle Eastern appearance. The room was huge, but surprisingly bare except for the bed. She noted a large doorway cut into burnished rock walls but no doors. It led onto a balcony that seemed to be balanced upon the dark starry night. It was a beautiful illusion.

    Double doors burst open behind her and Ari took a step back watching the stunning dark-haired Jinn she remembered from before stride into the room. This time, the female was human-sized. Her hair whipped out behind her, the jewels on her forehead glittering in the low light. She wore a dress that fluttered and flowed around her body as if the fabric was made of water. Gold clips held the dress together at the shoulders and it was split into slits around her legs to allow ease of movement. Ari eyed the designs that were painted in attractive curls, winding up around the Jinn’s slender legs in gold paint. She looked like an exotic queen.

    “I will not apologize to him, brother!” she spat, and Ari’s eyes followed her words over her shoulder to the male Jinn who trailed into the room behind her. His own dark hair was braided down his back and his handsome face was marred with a scowl, but no injuries this time.

    “You must,” his deep voice rumbled towards the female in warning. “You were impudent and spoiled.”

    She whirled on him, her dark eyes flashing with rage. “He refused to give me the deference I deserve!”

    “You have not earned it,” the male replied calmly.

    “Have not earned it?” she gasped and candlelight in the room flickered with fear. “I have borne him gifts that no one else has!”

    “You have lain with others. You speak to him like an ill-mannered child in front of our brethren and you expect when you should be grateful.”

    Tears spilled down her pretty cheeks now. “You take his side over mine?”

    “He is our master. He has been good to us.”

    “He is selfish! He could give us more… I know he could. But he refuses.”

    “You would misuse it. He sees this.”

    “You have no faith in me, brother?”

    The male Jinn smiled kindly and reached up to brush a tear from her cheek. “I have faith in your greed.”

    The female Jinn shrieked and Ari winced, pain bursting in her ears. The room dimmed and suddenly she was aware of softness beneath her. Realizing the pain hadn’t been real, Ari sighed and peeled her eyes open. She’d been dreaming. Of those Jinn again.

    Who were they?

    Her alarm on her smartphone went off and Ari reached over, silencing it. Dull light pushed into the room through the window, trying to melt the shadows and having little luck. It looked like it might rain.

    It was as if the sky was sharing it’s sympathy with her.

    Today was the funeral.

    7 - When Blue Skies are Scorched are They Still the Same Skies?

    The sky rolling in above her seemed to sense her agony, the change in her wrought by the pain. It felt Ari’s mood, and like a chameleon blending into its surroundings, the sky doused itself in darkness, the bleakness of its clouds like scorched marshmallows melting in empathetic sorrow.

    She’d lain in bed that morning for as long as she could, going over and over in her mind all that had changed: the truth from Charlie without him really realizing he’d given it to her, the truth from Jai, from her dad, his murder. And it was murder. She’d been pulled into the world of the Jinn without thought. None of it had seemed real, except perhaps for Jai, and then Derek had fallen into a coma and the surrealism had been washed away with teardrops. It had left a blur… no crisp and clear vision of reality. The fact that The White King had toyed with them patiently had lulled her into a false sense of being. She was prey. And it was only now she was realizing it. All of the truths had changed her. She could see clearly now.

    Everything felt different.

    Her life as she knew it was over.

    It was time to outwit her hunter and not play into his hands like he expected.

    Ari chanced a glance up at Charlie who stood pale and handsome in black, his features taut with anxiety, his dark eyes trying to communicate with her through the hush. She was shocked by what she saw now, by what she felt — as though she were staring at a stranger.

    Everything was different now.

    With her newfound clarity, Ari believed that for the first time she could see Charlie; could see what he had done and what he had become.

    He wasn’t the boy she’d loved.

    More grief rippled over her as she looked away, her eyes blurring over the dark figures around her until they snagged upon a familiar blue pair of eyes. Rachel stared back at her, her eyes pleading with Ari. Her voice whispered through Ari’s thoughts.

    “You’re in love with Charlie Creagh, sixteen year old cutie and all-around good guy. He’s not there anymore. I’m sorry but he’s gone.”

    Ari gulped. Rachel had been right. Why had it taken this for her to realize that Rachel had been right? Feeling ashamed of herself and for the way she’d treated the girl, Ari let her gaze drift away from her until it locked onto a figure in the distance. He was waiting for her next to a black SUV he’d conjured from his home in L.A.


    He’d lied to her too. She thought of the past few days. Everything that happened. All the things he’d withheld. What he’d omitted when he followed The Red King’s orders to make her break the barrier between herself and her powers. The consequences. And then she thought about what he’d done for her. Like Charlie, Jai hadn’t left her side. He’d given her quiet understanding, comfort, support. What did that mean? Could she trust him?

    Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe she couldn’t trust her uncle either.

    Who could she trust then?

    Yourself, an inner voice replied gently and Ari felt her spine straightening, a blaze of heat cutting through the bitter pain. This couldn’t happen to her again. Not ever again. It was time to grow up. It was time to start relying on herself. It was time to stop fearing loneliness and embrace it as a friend, as a guard and protector.

    After all… it looked like a long fight ahead.

    That was it. The funeral was over. Derek was buried in the ground and only a handful of people had turned up. What a testament to his life. There was some work colleagues, some neighbors. Charlie’s mom. Rachel, Staci and A.J., and all their parents. In a way, Ari was glad. If she had to murmur ‘thank you for coming’ one more time she was going to scream. And she was tired of the odd looks she was getting. Had they been expecting her to fall wailing on her father’s coffin?

    No. But maybe a few tears.

    Well Ari couldn’t give them tears. She’d already given them all to her dad days before and she wasn’t all that into becoming a huge sobbing ball of mess for the sole purpose of assuring some people, that didn’t really matter, that she was indeed affected by his death. Brittle and unapproachable was working just fine for her instead.

    After telling another mourner that there wasn’t going to be a wake, Ari turned away, blindly following Charlie towards Jai.

    “Ari?” a soft voice asked, black patent shoes appearing before her in her downcast eye line.

    An ugly knot formed in Ari’s gut as she raised her eyes to find Rachel and Staci standing in front of her, tears glistening in Staci’s eyes, A.J. standing a few feet behind them. Oh no. She didn’t want to have to do this now. Ever, in fact.

    She cleared her throat and for once was glad Charlie was standing so close. “Thanks for coming,” her voice was flat and unemotional. With some effort Ari refrained from glancing around in paranoia, afraid The White King had spies watching her, waiting to see what people she treated with friendliness and affection. The people he could target next. Well she wouldn’t give him that. She’d protect her friends even if they hated her for it.

    Rachel frowned at her formalness. “Of course. We left messages on your answering machine. We even called around, but Charlie and that guy,” Rachel pointed over at Jai, “Told us you weren’t up to seeing anybody.” Her eyes narrowed as she glanced once more at Jai. “Who is that guy, Ari?” Staci nudged her and Rachel blanched. “I’m sorry. Never mind. I’m… I’m also sorry about what happened at the hospital.”

    Ari shrugged. “Don’t be.”

    “You must be so mad at the doctors for letting your dad out, for not catching the clot?”

    “They didn’t want Dad to leave. It was nobody’s fault,” she almost choked on the lie.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire