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  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Scorched Skies (Page 19)     
  • Scorched Skies(Fire Spirits #2)(19) by Samantha Young
  • Oh Holy Macaroons! Was this the girl? Was this the woman Jai was in love with?

    Feeling sick, Ari dragged her gaze back to Luca. He smiled at her but she couldn’t bring herself to return it. “Ms. Johnson this is Hugo Lenz and his daughter Yasmin. Hugo is one of my oldest friends.”

    Ari nodded at them, not sure what to say.

    “Pleasure to meet you,” Hugo replied and then he flicked a sneer at Jai. “I was surprised you got this assignment, boy. Don’t mess it up.”

    “It’s going fine,” Luca said before Jai or Ari could reply. “I’ve had word back from one of my contacts. He thinks he’s got it narrowed down to five Guilds. He’s going to get back to me with better news as soon as possible.”

    “Thank you, Sir,” Jai acknowledged.

    “Ms. Johnson, this is my middle son, David.” Luca gestured to the guy at his side. On closer inspection he looked more like Nicki than Luca. At his name Ari tensed, giving him a tight nod, not particularly liking the way his eyes roamed over her. She knew who he was. Jai had made odd comments here and there about this brother. ‘Scumbag’ came to mind when she looked at him. God Ari wanted to get Jai out of this place as soon as possible. No matter what he thought, he deserved so much better than these people.

    Father and son spoke some more but Ari was barely listening. Avoiding David’s disturbing gaze, her eyes stumbled back onto Yasmin whose own eyes were devouring Jai from head to toe. She looked like she knew him… intimately. Girls Charlie had screwed around with had looked at him exactly the same way. Oh hell. This was Jai’s girlfriend. This sharp-eyed, glossy, guardian Jinn was Jai’s one true love. Ari wanted to rip out all that silky hair and scratch her eyes out. Afraid to look at Jai but needing to, Ari slid him a tentatively appraising look. She relaxed a little when she saw he wasn’t even looking at Yasmin… but did that really mean anything?

    Luca bidding her goodnight brought Ari’s concentration back to the conversation. She muttered a good night, watching Jai’s father, David, Hugo and Yasmin saunter out of the room.

    Jai nodded at the exit. “Come on, it’s getting late, I’ll show you to your room.”

    Stomach churning with the need to know the truth, Ari walked by Jai’s side in tense silence. With everything that had happened to her in the last few days it felt ridiculous that her anxiety over meeting Jai’s girlfriend had grown to such epic proportions. Knowing she couldn’t go on like this, Ari whirled on him when they stopped outside her room. “Is Yasmin the girl you’re in love with?”

    Jai blinked, appearing totally surprised by her question and the suddenness of it. “Um… no.” he shook his head, looking a little uncomfortable. “No she’s not.”

    Wishing she was way cooler and ignoring the inner voice that pleaded with her to be cooler, Ari threw up her hands in exasperation. “Well who is? Who is this woman that you’re in love with? Will I meet her?”

    Dread settled into her bones as Jai stepped back from her. He couldn’t meet her eyes and he was rubbing his hand over his short hair, the way he did when he didn’t want to talk about something. “Ari, now is not the time for this.”

    “Jai?”

    Sighing, he looked up at her. Their gazes locked, hers pleading, his enigmatic. Finally he shook his head. “There is no one. I lied.”

    Feeling punched in the gut, Ari’s mouth dropped open. “What?” she managed, disbelieving. He’d lied to her about being involved with someone? Why would he do that? “Why?”

    “I thought it was the best way to keep a proper distance between us. When you…”

    “Came on to you,” Ari supplied angrily.

    “Ari,” he threw her an unhappy look at her phrasing of the hard-to-forget and awkward moment he’d rejected her. “When you kissed me I realized you felt a certain way about me-”

    “Just say it, Jai,” Ari interrupted, drawing her arms across her chest as if would somehow shield her vulnerability. “I have feelings for you.”

    He couldn’t look her in the eye and that just made her so mad! Crunching on that mad she waited as he finally met her gaze. “I don’t feel that way,” he whispered. “I didn’t want to hurt you and encourage you when the truth is, you don’t even know me.”

    “I think I know enough.”

    “Oh really?” his face darkened now and he took a threatening step towards her. “Did you know I had sex with Yasmin to get back at Hugo?”

    Silence, thick and horrible and ugly, fell between them. Ari pinched the bridge of her nose, stunned and unsure of how to feel. “What?”

    “I caught Nicki ha**ng s*x with Hugo behind my dad’s back.” He shrugged unhappily and Ari noted the tension around the corners of his mouth. She was relieved to realize it was shame. “It wasn’t honorable, it wasn’t gentlemanly, but Yasmin had been throwing herself at me for months so I did it, as payback. She treats me like crap, Ari. They all do. I thought they deserved it. If Hugo ever found out his precious girl had been defiled by me he’d lose it. I guess that was reason enough for me to screw with her.”

    Eyes blazing Ari shoved him and he stumbled back, taking it. “Are you deliberately being crass?”

    “I’m trying to show you who I am!”

    Chest heaving with unexploded rage and hurt Ari shook her hands out to stop them from whacking him. “Did you care about her at all?”

    “What would upset you more, Ari? That I did or I didn’t?”

    “Just answer the question!”

    “No!” he yelled. “I could give a rat’s ass about her. She thinks I’m scum and I think she’s worthless. Does that make you feel better? No. Don’t try to make me into someone I’m not,” he hissed. “I don’t do relationships, I don’t do love. I do my job and I do it well.”

    Angry tears poked at the corners of her eyes and Ari fought to breathe, hating him and hating herself for feeling so much for him. She wanted to be numb! She’d promised herself she would be!

    Seeing the tears Jai cursed and dragged a hand roughly over his face, looking exhausted. “Ari,” he sighed. “You and I, we’re friends OK. I don’t want to hurt you. I’m just being honest.”

    Not able to say another word for fear of what those words might be, Ari silently slipped into her room, locking the door behind her. As soon as she was inside, the duvet on her bed turned down invitingly.

    “Thanks, Ms. Maggie,” she breathed gratefully, kicking off her shoes and diving into the comfort of the bed. Her insides were a mess now. She at once felt fury at Jai for treating anyone as callously as he’d treated Yasmin, but then she remembered how stuck up the young woman had seemed and how crummy Hugo had acted towards him. It didn’t make what he did right. Ari didn’t know what she was madder at… Jai denying there was anything between Ari and him because he was afraid of what his father would think or the fact that another girl knew what it was like to be with him. Or…

    … relief that there was no other girl he was in love with.

    “That’s it, Ms. Maggie. I’m giving up on boys completely and concentrating on staying alive.”

    If only her heart would listen to such exquisite sense.

    14 - Sometimes I’m not myself. I Don’t Know Who I Like Better

    Perhaps it was because of the restless sleep Ari had that night. She’d dreamed of the weird Jinn people again and still couldn’t work out what that was all about. Was it just her imagination? Or was there something meaningful to these little dives she kept taking into another world where a beautiful brother and sister seemed at constant loggerheads? And the dreams had only come when Ari had finally fallen asleep. She’d lain in bed for hours before that, thinking about her dad, about Charlie and of course about Jai.

    Perhaps it had happened because she was sleep deprived, stressed and cranky.

    Ari needed some explanation for her behavior that morning. Behavior that was beginning to freak her out.

    It happened as she headed down towards the training room. She finally had a lay of the land as it were within the large mansion and was striding casually from the breakfast room where she’d breakfasted alone (no surprise there considering Jai was probably avoiding her and Charlie was desperate to use his powers all the time and would already be in the training room — she’d bet money on it), her footsteps echoing off the cold floor and high ceilings. Her soft footsteps were joined by a quick skitter behind her. Ari’s heart sped up and she turned, bracing herself just as Jai taught her. She relaxed at the sight of a border collie trotting towards her, his tongue hanging out of his mouth as he panted over to her. He was gorgeous. Ari smiled down at him. “Hey boy.” She stroked a hand over his black head as he nudged his white muzzle into her side. Where had he come from? She hadn’t seen him around the mansion before. “Where did you come from, boy?” Ari used both hands now to scrub his face affectionately.

    All of sudden flames burst around the dog, their licks of fire like wisps of smoke on Ari’s skin as she stumbled back, heart racing in shock. Out of the flames a figure appeared.

    The dog wasn’t a dog at all.

    It was David.

    “Ari Johnson,” David said, a soft drawl in his words as his eyes swept over her greedily. Ari had the sudden urge to cross her arms over her chest to shield herself. “Well, well… look at you.” He drew to a stop inches from her, trying to intimidate her. Ari refused to step back. “All alone. Finally.”

    “Yeah well, if you’ll excuse me, I’m late for training.” She turned to go and uneasiness choked her when his large hand snapped out and grabbed her upper arm.

    “Now, now, what’s the hurry?” he grinned. “You know, if Jai had turned down this assignment I was going to be your guardian.”

    She let how distasteful she found that show on her face and David’s eyes narrowed.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire