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  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Scorched Skies (Page 18)     
  • Scorched Skies(Fire Spirits #2)(18) by Samantha Young
  • “You want a tour?” Jai’s voice suddenly broke through her thoughts.

    Ari blinked, looking over at where he was sprawled across an armchair. “Huh?”

    He gestured at the screen and then eyed Charlie and Trey who were laughing again. “You don’t seem into it?”

    “I’ve seen this movie.”

    “So a tour then?”

    “Of the house?”

    Jai smirked. “No, of Mount Qaf,” he replied sarcastically and Ari threw him a dirty look. “Yes, the house.”

    Alone time with Jai? “OK.”

    They told the guys where they were going and Ari ignored Charlie’s gaze boring into her back as she left the room with Jai. They strolled quietly down the hallway, their footsteps echoing loudly around the tiled floor and walls. The whole place was so cold. Jai had just opened his mouth to speak when a tall figure appeared before them.

    Ari came to a halt eyeing the man. Decked out in black slacks and a white shirt rolled up at the sleeves, he reminded Ari of someone, except for in the eyes. His eyes were cold. Ah Luca. Of course. She shifted her feet uncomfortably. This guy looked like Luca except younger, perhaps in his late twenties.

    One of Jai’s half-brothers?

    “The spawn returns,” the man bit out, his lip curling up in distaste as he eyed Jai.

    “Hey,” Ari snapped and took a step forward. Jai’s hand immediately wrapped around her wrist, pulling her back.

    Ari, don’t, he telepathed and something in his voice pulled at her heartstrings.

    “What’s this?” the guy flicked a look at her. “Is this it? The Seal?”

    Jai’s hand tightened around her wrist. “You’ll refer to her as Ms. Johnson, Tarik.”

    “Or what?”

    Seriously, how immature is your family?

    He’s not even the worst. Wait until you meet David.

    Looking forward to it. Not.

    “What are you smiling at?” Tarik glowered at Jai. “You two telepathing? That’s a little rude.”

    “Well you’d know all about that,” Ari retorted.

    Tarik’s eyes grew even colder as he continued to stare at her as he spoke to Jai, “Got yourself a new bodyguard, boy? What? Trey finally seen the light?”

    I hate to tell you this, Jai, but your half-brother is a loser.

    At her words, Jai relaxed. She felt his grip loosen and he sidestepped Tarik, drawing her with him. “Why don’t you go torture some kittens, Tarik.”

    “No sharp implements needed. Just talk,” Ari added, as they walked away from him. “The sound of your voice oughta do the trick all by itself.”

    They strode out of the hallway and through an arched room into another room. Ari was barely aware of her surroundings she was too busy glowing from the sound of Jai’s laughter. Finally he stopped and she stumbled to halt beside him. He looked down at her, his eyes warm, shaking his head. “You see how my family can reduce you to acting like a five year old.”

    Ari raised an eyebrow, pretending to look offended. “Moi? Immature. And here I thought my comeback witty and sophisticated.”

    He snorted. “Oh very.” And then he eyed her carefully and Ari felt that familiar flush under her skin at his appraisal. “You don’t have to defend me you know. I can handle myself.”

    At the unspoken reminder that he wasn’t hers to defend Ari shrugged, finally looking around her. “So what’s this place?” she asked, eyeing the paintings on the walls and the objects locked up in cabinets. The lighting was lower here, the floor, walls and even the ceiling was tiled with dark Moroccan mosaics. Heavy silk curtains draped around the unusual arches of the entrance and exit adding an exotic and alien feel to the place.

    Thankfully dropping the subject, Jai took a turn around the room, slowly strolling past each item. Ari followed, her curious eyes drinking everything in. “This is my father’s collectibles. Paintings. Ornaments. Items of worth. I used to come in here when I was kid because it was the one place my brothers found too boring to ever go near.”

    Fighting the urge to wrap her arms around him, Ari passed him to look more closely at a beautiful hourglass. The two pieces of blown glass were held together with an hourglass frame made of gold and precious stones. It was locked behind a glass cabinet. “What is that?” she breathed, feeling drawn to the piece.

    “That,” Jai replied, his breath on her neck as he stood close behind her, “Is very special. My grandfather paid a fortune for that.”

    “Why?”

    “Well, first I need to tell you something about Azazil.”

    Ari twisted around to look at him warily. “Azazil?”

    Green eyes glittering, Jai nodded. “Azazil has always taken an interest in the arts. He’s watched over and directed the lives of Importants such as Euripides, Aristophanes and Chaucer. When Shakespeare was born, Azazil took a personal interest in his journey. Of course The War of the Flames was already in play so to spite his father, The White King got involved with Shakespeare’s destiny when he shouldn’t have. Lo and behold, the playwright contracted syphilis and died before his move to London where he would have fulfilled his destiny as one of the greatest playwrights that ever lived.”

    “Is this for real?”

    “For real.” Jai nodded and glanced back at the hourglass. “You know Azazil is powerful, Ari. You know we have no way of knowing how powerful exactly. But we do know Azazil is powerful enough to change the events of the past.”

    Her eyes widened as his meaning set in. Azazil could mess with time? Could change events? Was Jai serious?

    “I’m not kidding,” he replied. “There have been a few occasions where the Sultan has felt so strongly about a destiny that has been manipulated, that he’s delved back into the past and righted the course of that Important’s path.”

    “Just gone back in time? Just like that?”

    “No. Not just like that. Legend tells us that Azazil becomes completely drained by the task. So weakened he’s almost human. Think about it. He has to make sure that every other path connected to the one he’s changed doesn’t ripple into another Important’s and change the course of theirs. Now, no one knows if Azazil can see the path a destiny is supposed to take or if he just knows when a destiny comes off its proper path. I think many would prefer to believe the latter because it means Azazil is less powerful. But whatever his ability, Azazil knew that Shakespeare was meant for more. So he changed the history The White King had created. When Jinn that powerful use that much energy on an Important, it leaves a mark. Shakespeare is among only a handful of Importants that Azazil left a mark on. Can you imagine the face of literature without Shakespeare’s influence?”

    “True but still… that’s… insane.”

    Jai shrugged. “So is Azazil. Anyway, Azazil keeps these hourglasses as trophies, if you like, for each destiny he’s re-written. Each glass contains sand from the alternate world he re-righted. It’s believed the sand itself has magical properties. Shakespeare’s hourglass was stolen from Azazil’s palace and put on the black market.”

    Understanding dawned and Ari’s eyes widened even more on the hourglass. “Are you saying this is it?”

    Smirking, Jai nodded.

    “But it must have cost a fortune and your dad just keeps it in a glass cabinet. What if someone tried to steal it?”

    “He’d stop them.” Jai pointed to the corner of the room and Ari followed his gaze to the long-necked red bottle sitting on top of a black oriental cabinet. An energy she’d presumed was Ms. Maggie’s pulsed around the bottle. She was really going to have to learn to differentiate between different Jinn energies otherwise it might end up getting her killed.

    “There’s a Jinn in there?”

    “Yeah. Teruze. Our tribe helped him out a while back but he’s still in hiding. He protects treasure. In exchange for getting to hide out here, Teruze protects our treasure.”

    “Sweet deal,” Ari breathed, her brain on information overload. Trying to hide how unnerved she was to be in a house where the Jinn world was so prevalent, Ari let her eyes wander over the paintings. Then the breath just sucked right out of her. Disbelieving her eyes, Ari stumbled away from Jai and came to a stop in front of the image, her neck cricked back as she looked up at it. “Who is that?” she asked softly, her eyes traveling over the semi-erotic painting of a beautiful woman with long dark hair. She was na**d and she was crawling sensuously and animal-like along a male body that seemed pinned to the floor with invisible hands. His eyes were glazed with lust as he looked on the stunning figure draped across him, seeming to miss the dark violence in the female Jinn’s gaze. And Ari knew it was a painting of a female Jinn. She just knew.

    Jai cleared his throat coming to a stop beside her. “My dad put that up there as a reminder to never let your guard down.”

    Hearing the hoarseness in his voice, Ari tugged her gaze from the painting to look up at her guardian. His features were tight with some unnamed emotion. She had to stop herself from reaching for him, knowing he might not like that.

    “It’s a painting of the first succubus Jinn. Lilif. From where the succubus Jinn took their name. From where my mother took her name.”

    “I’m sorry,” Ari whispered. “I didn’t mean to bring up something painful I just… she looked familiar.” She reminds me of a woman I’ve been dreaming about. A woman and her brother. About to tell Jai about the weird dreams Ari was halted by a throat clearing at the doorway. Turning around, they found Luca standing before them with an older man and a beautiful young woman. To their left stood a younger man with similar features to Tarik and Luca. Another brother? Ari’s eyes drew back to the stunning woman. She looked a year or two older than Ari. They were of a similar height and both had dark hair but that was where the similarities ended. Whereas Ari’s features were soft and full, the girls were sharp and elegant. Ari did not like the way she was looking at Jai.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire