• Home
  • Directory
  • Popular
  • Authors
  • Series
  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Scorched Skies (Page 23)     
  • Scorched Skies(Fire Spirits #2)(23) by Samantha Young
  • “Knock, knock,” a familiar voice said and Charlie twisted around to see Trey standing in the doorway. “Can I come in?”

    Ari’s teasing voice shot through his mind. This guy had a crush on him. Uh, how did he act around him now? Trey was a funny guy and Charlie liked him despite his status as Jai’s best friend, but he’d never been around a guy who had a crush on him before. How should he talk? What shouldn’t he do? Should he make eye contact or was that some kind of signal that he was flattered by his attention? Crap.

    “Hey. Of course.” He nodded, trying to act cool. I can do this. He’s still Trey.

    “Ah.” Trey nodded thoughtfully as he took a seat across from him. “Ari told you. I thought so earlier but I couldn’t be sure, however that nod just gave it away.”

    Feigning ignorance, Charlie frowned. “Told me what?”

    Glancing back at the door first to make sure it was closed Trey then shot him a teasing look. “That I like dudes as well as dudettes.”

    “Oh right, yeah that. Whatever.”

    Trey snorted. “Dude, chill. I’m too lazy to try to convert guys. Anyway, I’d say you were a goner.”

    Ignoring that, Charlie checked the clock on the wall. “Thought you were on assignment tonight?”

    “Yeah, it got cancelled. Singer is sick, which is code for ‘feeling too fat to go out in public’.” Trey shrugged, his expression saying ‘What can you do?’ “You mind if I hang out here? I’m kind of dodging someone.”

    “A guy?” Charlie blurted out without thinking. He winced. God, he was so uncool at this.

    The Ginnaye only smirked at him though. “Yeah, a guy. Seriously, man, I can leave if you’re uncomfortable.”

    Feeling instantly guilty, Charlie waved him off. “No, don’t do that.”

    “Cool. Also… can you keep what Ari told you to yourself? About me?”

    “People don’t know?”

    A bitterness Charlie wouldn’t have expected Trey capable of entered his voice as he replied, “My father specifically. He’s a bigot.”

    “Christ,” Charlie breathed. “That must suck.”

    “A little bit, yeah. The tribe don’t know. Only Jai does, as far as I’m aware.”

    “How can you live like that?”

    Trey raised an eyebrow. “Have you told your parents you traded in an ordinary life to be a sorcerer in order to exact revenge against the Jinn who killed your brother?”

    Charlie stared blankly at him a moment. “Well… no. But that’s the kind of thing that could get me locked up in a mental hospital. Yours isn’t.”

    Trey didn’t answer, his features turning to stone.

    Not knowing what he’d said or done that was bad enough to turn an easygoing guy like Trey into the Terminator, Charlie did what any guy would do… he changed the subject. “So Ari’s out with Jai.” Wearing a ridiculous dress. In a club.

    “He’ll take good care of her.”

    “Yeah, that’s what I’m afraid of.”

    Eyeing Charlie thoughtfully, Trey observed, “You seem like a good guy. Messed up, mixed up, but a good guy.”

    “OK. Thanks, I guess.”

    “Jai’s a good guy.”

    Charlie grunted. “If you say so.”

    “He is. He’s not perfect, but he’s strong and he’s honorable and he’s come out good considering what he’s been through. Jai’s had it really bad, Charlie. Maybe if you understood him better…” Trey heaved a massive sigh as if he’d come to some kind of decision. “I’ve had to pull his brothers off him before they killed him, hide out with him when his stepmom was in a bad mood and looking to beat it out on him.

    “Once, when we were thirteen the whole tribe was over celebrating Tarik’s birthday and Jai accidentally knocked over the cake. It was an accident. I know because I shoved him into it.” He grinned cheekily but there was something haunted in his eyes that made Charlie wary. “Nicki was furious and she just started beating on him in front of everybody and he just took it. Luca stepped in to stop her, telling her she was making a scene but I saw his face… he was upset for Jai although he would never admit it. And then Nicki did the worst thing she could have. In front of everyone she took off her belt and told Luca she would leave him if he didn’t beat Jai to prove he loved her more.” Trey’s eyes glazed over with the memories. “Everybody knew about Jai’s mom. What she’d done to Luca and Nicki’s relationship, what she’d done to Luca.

    “All of Jai’s life Luca has been proving that it was done against his will and that he has no affection for Jai, the product of… rape, basically. And although I think it made him sick to do it, he battered Jai with that belt. Maybe he cares, right? But not enough.” Trey shifted now, swallowing hard. “I tried to stop them, got a welt for my troubles.” He pointed to a white scar across his eyebrow. “My dad pulled me off and gave me a walloping when we got home.” Trey twisted his mouth with disbelief and when he finally spoke again his voice was full of utter loyalty for his friend, “Jai found out and snuck out still bruised and battered to hell, all to make sure I was OK. That’s the kind of guy he is.”

    “You feel guilty.”

    “Hell yeah, I pushed him into the cake,” Trey tried to laugh it off but Charlie felt uneasy. Jai had had a horrible, abusive upbringing. That’s why he seemed so cold and detached all the time…because he was.

    “He’ll hurt her,” Charlie said, sure that he spoke the truth. “He can’t give her what she needs.”

    Knowing exactly what he spoke of Trey eyed him with an unnerving amount of perceptiveness. “And you think you can?”

    “Maybe. Perhaps one day. When she’s ready.”

    “What if you’ve already blown your chance, Sorcerer Boy?”

    “I’m not giving up. And Jai… he’ll just use her and then leave her.”

    Trey shook his head and reached for the remote control to unmute the film. “You don’t know him. And he needs someone like, Ari. And she needs someone like him.”

    “Someone like him? He’s a cold bastard.”

    Trey threw him a sharp look. “You don’t know him. And yes, Ari needs someone like him. Someone who’ll put her first. Someone who’ll love her… enough.”

    Charlie threw his look back at him in exasperation. “He’s putting his job first. Not Ari.”

    “Yeah, now. But he’ll come to his senses. My boy always does.”

    “Well, he’ll be too late,” Charlie grumbled, his gut roiling at the thought of losing Ari to the Jinn.

    “I know,” Trey agreed with a cocky grin. “Did you see the way she was eyeing me today? If Jai doesn’t move fast I think it’ll be a wedding in springtime. Ari and I would make pretty babies.”

    Charlie punched him hard on the shoulder. “Screw you.”

    Trey laughed and Charlie was thankful the guy showed enough restraint not to comment on his poor choice of words. They settled back into the chair and Trey chuckled at the comedy as Charlie contemplated what he’d told him. He and Ari had stumbled into a pretty effed up world here in L.A. — possibly even more effed up than the one they’d left behind. Was this their life from now on? Dark pasts and secrets hidden behind confident smiles and magic? Should he grab Ari and get her to walk away with him while he could? Thoughts of the training session that day flashed through his mind and he flexed his hand, glancing down at where he’d focused the defensive magic that came easy to him now. When it coursed through him he felt more alive than he’d ever felt. He felt pleasure and strength vibrate through his whole being and he felt immortal, powerful, invincible. He felt thirsty, greedy, hungry for more. Imagine what he could do once he knew how to channel magic through the talismans. Imagine how he could hunt the piece of crap that had killed Mikey and flay its skin from its body.

    “…Ari needs someone like him. Someone who’ll put her first. Someone who’ll love her… enough.”

    Charlie growled inwardly. He could be that someone. As soon as he had his revenge he could be that someone for Ari and somehow he’d get her out of the danger she was in. Somehow.

    After.

    They drove in separate cars. Ari and Jai in the Mercedes and Jennifer and Chris with Brian and his security detail. As soon as they got to the club Ari and Jai were to stick to Jenn (as she preferred to be called) and Chris with utter vigilance and composure. They were to melt into the crowds as if they were nothing more than their friends, giving Jenn and Chris at least the pretense of freedom.

    “You ready?” Jai suddenly asked Ari as they pulled up to the club. Crowds of people lined up outside, paparazzi snapping flashing pictures of anyone who was the least bit famous.

    Squashing down the little hands of anxiety flapping around in her stomach and squeezing her windpipe for good measure, Ari nodded mutely and waited for Jai to get out and open her door. As he did he reached down for her hand to help her out and gave her the tiniest of reassuring smiles. Relaxing, Ari grinned back at him and they handed their keys off to the valet. The SUV was waiting for them, holding up the valet, so Ari and Jai strode over and waited for Jenn and Chris to jump out. Ari eyed Jenn’s silver top and low cut jeans with envy, feeling vulnerable in her little dress. Should have gone with jeans.

    Jenn grinned at her widely as if she’d read her mind. “You look lovely.”

    Charmed by her and her English accent, Ari grinned back. “Thank you. You too.”

    Surprising Ari by linking arms with her, Jenn led the way with Chris on her other side and Jai watching their backs. The huge beefcake of a doorman smiled and pressed the ear piece he was wearing. “Ms. Hadley has arrived.”

    The red velvet rope was lifted and they walked in, camera flashes and people shouting Jennifer’s name momentarily disorientating Ari.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire