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  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Scorched Skies (Page 13)     
  • Scorched Skies(Fire Spirits #2)(13) by Samantha Young
  • “Ari?” Jai asked softly, taking a tentative step towards her. She felt Charlie at her back.

    Ashamed and scared, Ari lifted her gaze. “I didn’t mean that… I don’t know…” she looked to her uncle for help.

    His handsome face was dark with understanding. “The Seal,” he whispered. “The magic within you is one of the most powerful things in all the realms, Ari. It isn’t supposed to be within you so you’re going to have to learn how to control it, to make it yours and not the other way around.”

    She nodded, still trembling with fear, and too wary of everyone to tell them that’s not what it had felt like. It had felt like another being was within her, another voice, another personality pushing to get out. But maybe that’s what the Seal was. Charlie squeezed her shoulder and Ari leaned into his touch for just a second, allowing it to reassure her. The weirdness, after all, had only lasted a second. She could control it. She had to believe she could control it.

    “You were saying?” she shook her head, shoving the fear back deep down inside. “About this Dalí guy? Do you know who he is?”

    The Red King nodded briskly. “I have an idea. I need to check it out first. I’ll be back soon, but for now I’m putting an enchantment around the house. It won’t last long but it’ll do until I come back with a plan.”

    “Thank you,” Ari said, and she meant it. She might not trust her uncle fully, but he was the only one who seemed to know what he was doing, so he was her best shot.

    “Oh.” He took a step towards her. “Before I leave I should tell you that I’ve let the Ifrit return to help protect you.”

    “The Ifrit?” Jai frowned, crossing his arms over his chest in that way he did when he was annoyed by something.

    A feeling of warmth flooded Ari and she smiled for the first time in days. “Ms. Maggie?” she asked hopefully. To have the comforting presence of her poltergeist back would be just the thing she needed right now. A piece of home.

    Her uncle nodded, his eyes lightening a little at her obvious happiness. He shot a look at Jai. “The Ifrit cares about Ari. She’ll protect her if you can’t. However, for reasons unknown to me, the Ifrit prefers to remain within the Cloak. I see that as no problem since Ari can now sense the presence of Jinn when they’re hiding in it. If you need privacy you’ll sense Ms. Maggie there and you can ask her to leave.”

    “I’m not sure about this.” Jai shook his head.

    “Yeah.” Charlie sighed, his breath tickling Ari’s nape and she shivered. “The idea of some chick floating around here when we can’t see her freaks me out.”

    “The decision isn’t yours.” The Red King shrugged. “If Ari wants her here, she stays.”

    Ari didn’t even need to think about it. “I want her here.” She genuinely did want Ms. Maggie there but seeing the exasperated looks on both Jai and Charlie’s face was just icing on the top of the cake. Revenge for them acting so dominating.

    Realizing he’d lost that battle, Jai turned to The Red King. “Before you go, you should know these guys had some new-fangled concoction to incapacitate Jinn. The main ingredient was harmal.”

    “A repellant?” her uncle frowned in confusion.

    “Whatever they’ve done to it, it doesn’t act as a repellant exactly. It made my whole body numb. I could hear and see what was going on but my brain and my body couldn’t do anything about it. It didn’t want to do anything about it. It was like I was drugged. They haven’t quite got the poison right because it only lasted a few minutes but I’ll bet their working on making it stronger. If that stuff gets out…”

    The Jinn King growled at Jai’s news. “I have much to do. I will be back soon.” And with that he erupted into a rainbow of beautiful fire, disappearing into the Peripatos, leaving them behind in hushed silence.

    As soon as he was gone Ari sensed the energy of another Jinn from above her. Ms. Maggie was in her room. The thought of how different life was now since the last time Ms. Maggie had lived with her caused a ripping pain across her chest and she pressed a hand there as if that could staunch the invisible bleed.

    “You’re telling me it doesn’t bother you to have some invisible chick in this house?” Charlie asked softly.

    “Stop saying chick,” Ari replied irritably.

    “Fine. I’ll stop if you talk to me. In private.”

    Ari shot a look at Jai but he appeared indifferent. He walked away from them and sat down, pulling a book out of nowhere. She didn’t even glance at the title, still too busy being annoyed with him. “I’m not apologizing,” he said without looking up.

    Mind reader, she growled.



    He sighed inside her head. Was it not enough for you to break one rule today, Ari? Now another one. He lifted his eyes from the pages of his book and there was a softness in them she hadn’t been expecting. I don’t want to argue with you. Not today.

    Then apologize.

    I have nothing to apologize for. You disobeyed an order and you were almost kidnapped.

    “Jesus Christ,” Charlie snapped. “Will you two stop doing that creepy mind talk crap for just two seconds so Ari and I can talk?”

    “That’s up to Ari,” Jai replied blandly, leaning casually back in his chair. His next words were anything but casual, “But maybe she’s not up to talking, kid. It’s been a rough day.”

    Before Charlie could fly at him for calling him ‘kid’, Ari placed a placating hand on Charlie’s arm. “It’s OK. We should talk.” She turned, ignoring Jai the jerk, and headed upstairs.

    As soon as she opened her bedroom door she sensed Ms. Maggie and smiled sadly. “Ms. Maggie. It’s good to have you back.”

    Her computer chair squeaked and Ari looked at it, assuming that was Ms. Maggie’s way of saying hello. Perhaps because she’d never felt so alone before and was still learning how to be alone, Ari had this sudden urge to throw herself into the Ifrit’s invisible arms. Ms. Maggie could make herself corporeal when she wanted to. Would she do that to hug Ari?

    You’re getting weird and morbid, she scolded herself. Wanting to hug a ghost. It was like a tragic Dickens’ story.

    “I know you just got back, but could you give me and Charlie some privacy. We just need to have a quick talk.”

    Three seconds later the bedroom door shut behind them and Ari felt the Ifrit’s energy disappear downstairs. She kind of liked the thought of Ms. Maggie mischievously watching Jai and he having no clue she was there. Sensing Jinn hidden within the Cloak was one of Ari’s gifts. It came with being the Seal. As far as she knew other Jinn didn’t have that ability.

    Charlie was eyeing the closed door. He raised an eyebrow and turned to her, his face still covered with sweat-streaked grime from the fight. “And that doesn’t freak you out?”

    Ari shrugged. “Not really.” It really didn’t. It was comforting.

    “OK.” He shook his head and then looked at her. Really looked at her. Charlie’s dark eyes instantly melted as they searched her face and Ari went to war with herself. Half of her tingled under his soulful appraisal and the other half was hardening against him. “Are you OK, Ari? After the funeral, the attack… everything?”

    “I’m getting there.”

    “I didn’t mean to yell at you earlier. I was just… worried about you.”

    She nodded, not really accepting his ‘apology’ but trying to understand. Seeing his expression fall at her coldness, Ari sighed. Why couldn’t she be distant with him? Why, why, why? Feeling herself crumble a little she said, “I’m glad you were there. Having you there, with Rachel and Staci and everything, even with the fight… well I’m glad you were there.” With each word she had spoken, Charlie had drawn closer. He had this look in his eyes that confused her, and when he moved to press a comforting kiss to her lips Ari dodged him, stepping back. The hardness came back but this time with a strength she hadn’t even known she possessed. It crawled into her features like ice over still water.

    Charlie blinked in confusion. “What just happened?”

    “I think somewhere along the line you’ve assumed that you and I are…”

    A look of astonishment crossed his face and he ran a hand over his now short hair. He made a little huffing noise of bemusement. “Aren’t we?” He stopped at her expression. “I just wanted to make sure we weren’t fighting anymore, but I didn’t think that meant… we weren’t…”

    Ari shook her head, gripping tight to that icy calm, her hands slipping on its surface but she struggled to hold on nonetheless. She needed that icy calm. For the first time in her life she wanted to need it more than she needed the boy in front of her. “I love you, Charlie. I always will. But I don’t want to be with you.” She let those words sink in and then said softly, “Let’s just stay friends, OK.”

    The hurt that darkened his eyes and made him suck in his breath was almost enough to make her let go of the ice. But the thought of what she’d lost, what her dad had said to her before he died played over in her mind and she held tight.

    “Jesus, Ari,” he exhaled and flopped down on the bed. “I don’t understand… I thought… I thought you wanted this just as much as I do?”

    She nodded, remembering the longing, the ache he had put in her chest. “I used to.”

    A terrible silence fell between them and when he looked up he had tears shimmering in his eyes.

    Ari clenched her hands into fists. “The night of my eighteenth birthday I caught you screwing someone in my dad’s bed.”

    Charlie’s eyes widened with horror and he shifted, shaking his head. “Ari, I was out of it that night… it was Mike’s anniversary, I was so messed up, I can’t even… I am so sorry… I don’t even remember-”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire