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  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Scorched Skies (Page 11)     
  • Scorched Skies(Fire Spirits #2)(11) by Samantha Young
  • Staci took a tentative step forward, her cheeks pale. “Do you need anything?” her voice cracked on the last word and Ari had to force herself not to pull the girl into a hug. “Do you want us to come home with you?”

    “Mom,” Rachel nodded a head over her shoulder to where her parents were standing by their car, “said you’re welcome to stay with us for as long as you want.”

    “Tell her that’s very kind, but I’m OK. I’ll be in touch.” With that last lie Ari pulled away from them, gripping onto Charlie’s hand and letting him lead her away. If he was surprised by her touching him, he didn’t show it. Instead he threw a ‘don’t follow us’ look over his shoulder at the girls and hustled Ari towards Jai. Ari felt sick. Really, really sick. She was afraid she was going to hurl on a gravestone. Rachel and Staci would never see her again. They’d assume she’d walked out of their lives with no explanation out of pure selfishness and they’d hate her for it.

    “Ari,” Charlie whispered, tightening his hold on her. “Breathe.”

    With a shudder, she sucked in crisp, metallic air and nodded wanly at Jai as they approached.

    “Everything OK?” her guardian asked quietly.

    “It will be,” Charlie replied and he said it with such conviction Ari almost believed him.

    Feeling better, Ari slipped her hand from his and got into the SUV. The guys followed suit, Jai driving.

    The car was filled with a heavy silence as they drove back towards town. The Sandford Ridge cemetery was on the southern outskirts of town and instead of taking the main route back in, Jai decided to lose the other mourners and take the quiet highway running between Fairmont Woods and pull back into Sandford at the northwest end. The road stretched before them in dreary emptiness and Ari had to shake herself out of her morbid thoughts. She watched the woodlands pass them by and listened to Charlie squirm a little in his seat. She was making the guys uncomfortable, but she really couldn’t care less right then.

    “What the…?” Jai’s quiet question brought her head up to the front windscreen. A few yards up ahead across the road, a thick fog had gathered and appeared to be moving towards them at a speed that seemed abnormal.

    “What’s going on?” Charlie asked, taking the question right out of Ari’s mouth.

    For some inexplicable reason her heart began to beat wildly in her chest. Something wasn’t right. Her spidey senses were tingling. “Jai?”

    And just like that a splutter, growl and creak brought the SUV to a stall. Jai cursed, unsnapping his seat belt as the fog flowed around the car that was now frozen in the middle of the highway like a sitting duck. “Stay here,” he ordered and jumped out of the car before Ari could protest.

    What was going on? Her eyes flew to Charlie but he was watching out front. She turned to see Jai walk around to the front of the car, his head cocked like he was listening for something. The waiting was making her heart go crazy and Ari was just about to shout out that he get back in the car when a pair of arms came out of nowhere and dragged Jai into the fog.

    With a scream of panic stuck in her throat Ari shoved the car door open. Her fury propelled her outwards and she heard Charlie calling her back, the slam of his car door telling her he was now out in the blinding fog too. She couldn’t see a thing. Everything was just white.

    “JAI!” she shouted and whirled around at the sound of a boot on concrete.

    Jai!

    Ari, get back in the car! his voice yelled into her head and she could hear his anger and annoyance at her.

    They’re not Jinn. She’d know if they were; she’d feel them. What are they?

    Human, he replied. I had one but they got away. I can’t see a thing. Now get back in the car!

    I can’t. I can’t see anything either!

    I’m going to clear the fog. I’ll ju- his voice cut off and Ari whirled around anxiously.

    Jai? Jai!

    No answer.

    For a moment the thought of something happening to him threatened to bring her to her knees. It was just too much.

    It is not too much. Fix this! They’re only human!

    What were humans doing coming after her? And the fog? She brushed a hand through it and felt a tingle of magic. Oh yeah, their attackers might be human but there was Jinn involved in this somewhere. The White King. She sneered, anger turning to determination. Jai told her the Cloak and her other defensive magic was her own, a part of her, like a shell was to a turtle, like skin was to a chameleon. There would be no consequences for defending herself. And the fog was a threat. Focusing on it, on the air, on the road around them, Ari imagined a swift wind pushing the fog north, thrashing its arms and legs into the fog like a child having a tantrum. Satisfaction slammed through her as the fog around her began to break up, tearing apart as it was bullied northwards.

    Satisfaction left her as the road cleared. The SUV sat between her and Charlie. And in front of the SUV were six human men. They formed a line before them, strong, tall, and lethal looking. They looked like mercenaries. Slumped at one of their feet was a familiar figure. Ari’s eyes washed over Jai, checking for injury. Why was he just sitting there looking dazed? A syringe in the attacker’s hand caught her eye. “What did you do?” she demanded, taking a step towards him, violence in her words. It was to cover her fear. These men were human. She had no power over them. The Red King had been right. She needed to learn self-defense!

    The guy shrugged, his muscles rippling with the movement. Jeez, all of them looked like they were on steroids. “I just injected him with a homegrown concoction that includes a heavy dose of harmal.”

    Ari shook her head in confusion. “Harmal?”

    The guy snorted at her. “Wow, you really know nothing. Harmal is a Jinn repellant. The little concoction I’ve got doesn’t repel… just incapacitates.”

    “Jai,” Ari whispered and took another step towards him.

    “Ari, stop,” Charlie called to her and she turned to watch him shrugging out of his suit jacket, stony-faced. He was watching the human men without a hint of fear and suddenly he didn’t look so much a teenager but a powerful man. Still, Ari was frightened for him. For them both. Without Jai they were toast.

    She shook her head at him. “Charlie, don’t…” do anything stupid.

    Seeing the obvious aggression in Charlie’s actions, the human guy nodded at his companions. “Get her. Make it quick.”

    The men immediately started towards her and Ari stumbled back, her brain blanking out on her as her heart took over, thudding and pounding her adrenaline around her body. Thankfully that adrenaline decided to save the day, and Ari felt her magic flood into her hands as she focused. She watched her palms glow a mesmerizing gold color and she pushed the energy outwards, using it to blast the men off their feet. Unused to using her powers for defense Ari miscalculated and only three of the guys were forced onto their backs. The other two merely stumbled and righted themselves quickly.

    Needing back up, Ari jumped, feet first, letting her body slide along the bonnet of the SUV so she landed on her feet next to Charlie. He immediately shoved her behind him, ignoring her yelp of protest. The two guys rounded the car and Charlie moved to meet them. The taller of the two swung at him and Charlie ducked, throwing a forceful punch into the guy’s gut just as the other man’s foot swung towards Charlie’s hand. Charlie raised his other hand and Ari saw the glow of magic in his palm. The man’s foot pulsed against it and fell as if he’d hit a cushion with no give. Eyes almost as wide as Ari’s, Charlie was distracted by his magic and unfortunately didn’t miss the fist that flew into his face. He fell back a little and Ari ran at the guy, throwing a punch so that her magic connected with his face instead of her fist.

    Catching on, Charlie got to his feet and cornered the other guy and together they pummeled the attackers with magical fisticuffs. But it wasn’t long before the other three had recovered, and just when Ari thought she’d dealt with one guy, another was on her. It was possible her magic was stronger than Charlie’s and that’s why he appeared tired more quickly than her. It was as if he had to force the magic out. And perhaps that was why one of the guys was able to find a break in Charlie’s defense, his huge knee connecting with Charlie’s solar plexus. Distracted as Charlie fell to his knees, his face paling like he wanted to puke, Ari made a move towards him to help and didn’t see the guy come up behind her. He punched her in the head and her vision cut out for a minute, like lights flickering off and on. She slumped, a sickening pain rushing down her neck and into her legs.

    Something felt hard against her back and the lights flickered back on. Why was the sky in front of her?

    Who is that? she wondered, feeling dazed as a smirking face appeared above her. The guy had dark eyes that glittered scornfully down at her. She felt hands pressing down on her thighs, inching her black dress up. “Master Dalí cannot wait to meet you,” he said as he squeezed her leg painfully. “I can see why.”

    The sky brightened above her and Ari broke free of a hold that had been pressing her arms into the ground, strength surging through her as if someone had injected her heart with adrenaline. The human dudes, Ari, they’re attacking you! Ignoring the dull throbbing in her skull, Ari whipped an elbow up and cracked it cross the guy’s face while he was still stunned. He cried out, grabbing his gushing nose and Ari pushed him with as much force as she could, channeling magic into it to help her knock him over. She scrambled over him trying to get to her feet and screamed in frustration as strong arms hauled her back, fingers biting bruises into her upper arms as her legs were dragged over one of the captors and back onto concrete.

    “Give me the harmal!” a gruff voice shouted above her head.

    No. She squirmed and concentrated her magic on the man behind him. She heard him wheeze as he struggled to breathe. She was syphoning all the oxygen out of the air around him. Would that have consequences? The worry over that made her fumble and her magic dissipated.

    “Quick! She’s trying to kill me!”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire