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  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Scorched Skies (Page 28)     
  • Scorched Skies(Fire Spirits #2)(28) by Samantha Young
  • And he didn’t love her back.

    A whisper of warmth danced around her and Ari felt the familiar presence of Ms. Maggie. She’d forgotten she was in the room. The Ifrit had heard everything and was trying to offer her comfort. It helped, if only but a little.

    Ari stood up and Jai immediately shot to his feet, his eyes wary, waiting for a reaction.

    “Thanks for telling me all that,” Ari managed. “You know, I said it before but you really do deserve better than what they’ve given you, Jai. You’re a really good person.”

    “And you’re too generous but thank you.”

    After a moment of stilted silence Jai headed towards the door. He turned back to give her a small smile. “We good then?”

    “Yeah.” At his still wary look, Ari felt a stab of annoyance. Did he think she was going to keep pining after him after what he’d just said? “Stop worrying,” she reassured him. “You’re right. About everything. I do deserve more and I get that you can’t give me that. It was just a crush. Now I’m moving on.”

    An odd look crossed Jai’s face before he could stop it. He quashed the look with a tight smile as he slipped from the room and Ari immediately felt cold. She hugged herself, wishing everything with The White King and Dalí was over already so she could run as far and as fast from everyone and everything as soon as possible. She needed a fresh start.

    Well, she’d still take along Ms. Maggie.

    17 - ‘Every Father’s Pain Casts a Shadow over a Broken Son’ - Silverchair

    Ari eyed the Jinn in the painting. Whoever the artist was, they’d captured the vicious sensuality of Lilif brilliantly and the similarity between her and the woman in Ari’s dream was too uncanny to be ignored.

    “Terrifyingly lovely isn’t she,” a deep voice rumbled from behind Ari and she turned swiftly to watch as Luca approached her stealthily. For the first time Ari could see Jai in him. The powerfully sleek walk, like a panther in a jungle, the stern face, the air of competence he wielded like a weapon. Yes… they were alike in ways neither of them wished to acknowledge.

    “Sorry?” Ari asked, confusion wrinkling her brow.

    “Lilif.” Luca nodded to the painting as he came to a stop beside her. He was broader than Jai, his face rougher, more striking than handsome. Still, he had the same ability to overwhelm her with his presence as Jai did. At least with Jai she trusted him. With Luca… she was still unsure.

    “The first of the succubus Jinn?”

    “And the mother of the Seven Kings of Jinn.”

    What? Ari’s eyes widened. The first of the Lilif Jinn was her grandmother?

    Luca gave a huff of amusement. “You thought the Kings had no mother?”

    “Well…” she flushed with embarrassment. “I thought they were… that Azazil…”

    “Bore them himself?” he smirked.

    Feeling stupid Ari shrugged. “I just thought he created them from stars or something. Isn’t that how these mythical stories usually go?”

    “Not this one. The Seven Kings were created the good old fashioned way.”

    Contemplating that, Ari stared back up at the painting. “What happened to her?”

    “There are many legends about Lilif’s disappearance.” Luca’s face darkened. “I don’t care which is true, I’m just glad she’s gone. A being that could create something as malicious as the Lilif Jinn ought not to be allowed to wander freely.”

    Luca’s bitterness was palpable; the metallic tang of it so heavy in the air Ari could almost taste it. She didn’t know how to respond to it. What should she say? What could she say? Part of her sympathized with him and the other part of her deplored the way he’d treated Jai.

    “I love my wife very much,” Luca suddenly said, breaking the icy silence. “I always have. I only ever wanted her until Jai’s mother hunte-”

    “Don’t,” Ari stopped him. She didn’t want his sob story. Not after everything Jai had told her.

    Luca glanced down at her, his expression unreadable. Finally it seemed he decided to ignore her. “Her name was Nuala. She’d begun to stalk a wealthy Jinn, a businessman from Orange County, a family man. He came to me for protection and Nuala decided I presented the greater challenge. No matter how I felt, how willing she could make you under her violent lust, it was rape,” his voice hardened. “Do you know how difficult it is for a man to admit to being raped? A strong man like me?”

    “As difficult as it is for a strong woman to,” Ari replied not unkindly.

    Luca’s lips curled up at the corners. “Touché.”

    “I’m sorry for what happened to you. I am. But how you treat Jai… how you allow him to be treated… he deserves better.”

    Eyeing her carefully Luca sighed. “I’m very proud of the man Jai has become. But I believe his strict upbringing made him the man he is today.”

    Ari guffawed, “Strict upbringing? Why not call it what it was? Abuse. Pure and simple.”

    Jai’s father’s eyes hardened. “My father was a harsh task master and I promised myself I wouldn’t be like that with my own children and I wasn’t. And look what I’m left with. Soft, lazy sons, one of whom will likely be arrested for sexual assault if he’s not lucky. But not Jai.” Luca shook his head, his eyes bright. “My father was right. Jai may not have received affection and mollycoddling as a child, but what he did receive proved far more valuable. He is the best guardian I have. When once I was pitied to have been burdened with him, now I am envied and respected for having raised him. Lack of affection and discipline makes him a better man. A better son.”

    Ari gaped a little stupidly at him, unable to believe what she was hearing. Fury blasted through her at his twisted outlook. Another selfish father too uncaring to see what his own needs and wants were costing his child. Fierce protectiveness for Jai washed over her despite everything. If nothing else, he was still her friend. “You selfish son-of-a-bitch,” Ari whispered hoarsely, enjoying the anger in Luca’s eyes, feeding off of it. “He became a good man and a brilliant guardian despite your attempts to crush him. He is who he is despite your spineless need to reassure a bitter and heartless woman like your wife. Who he is has nothing to do with you, so don’t you dare try to take credit for that.” She was shaking with adrenaline from the confrontation but the words had felt good spilling from her mouth. Waiting, her body tensed for action, Ari watched Luca’s changing expression.

    To her surprise the anger her words caused melted out of his taut features rather quickly and was replaced by stern concern. “I didn’t tell you all this to be lectured, young woman. I told you this because I see the way you two look at one another and I’m warning you, if you care anything for my son you will back the hell off.”

    Ari’s head snapped back in surprise.

    Luca nodded, eager to continue. “If Jai crosses the line with you, a client, a Jinn with great importance, he would be so disappointed in himself and so would I. And we both know how much Jai does not like to disappoint his father.” His eyes sparked with deviousness and Ari realized how much this man saw and how manipulative he was, using what he saw and bending it to his own purposes. “I don’t want him involved with you. I don’t want my tribe dragged into this war and I don’t want our reputation shredded into tatters. If Jai dares to have any kind of relationship with you other than that of guardian/client he will damage his relationship with me irreparably. Understood?”

    Ari took a step back, not wanting to even breathe the same air as him. “I understand perfectly. You know, until this morning I had been thinking that Jai misunderstood you, that somehow you weren’t as bad as he thought. But I know different now. You are terrible. You’re a selfish, selfish man. But rest assured.” She held her palms up in surrender. “There is nothing going on between your son and I, and he will never cross that line.” Her eyes filled with unexpected tears. “You’ve damaged him too much.” And with that she turned on her heel, her earlier resolve to distance herself from Jai even stronger. When the time was right, she had to believe she’d meet a guy who would love her enough to put her before his own demons. Charlie was not that guy. And Ari knew Jai never would be either. Heart breaking a little, Ari walked through the aching pain slicing in lightning shards across her chest. She was so sick of this. So sick of being cornered and hunted in one way or another. First Jai himself, this morning. Now his father. It was time to turn the tables. It was time to become the hunter.

    “Ari!”

    She spun around, watching Charlie jog towards her from the training room. His eyes were bright, his pupils huge as though he’d just had a hit. A momentary panic rushed through her at the thought of Charlie doing drugs again, but then she realized it was a side effect of his magic use. Her heart slowed a little. “Hey.”

    “I’ve been looking all over for you. Did Luca tell you?”

    “Tell me what?” she frowned.

    “We found The Guild that’s hunting Dalí. We’re flying out to meet them tomorrow.”

    Her muscles tightened and Ari felt a calm surety flood slowly over her.

    Finally.

    18 - A Knife in the Hand and Love in the Other

    Having waited in his father’s private rooms — rooms that had been transformed from torture chambers to the far more pleasing sitting room and bedroom — The Red King finally found himself standing at the bottom of the Sultan’s dais in the grand mirrored hall that was created to confuse and overawe. Barefoot and dressed in robes that would please Azazil, The Red King flicked a glance at Asmodeus as he waited for his father’s response. Asmodeus stood at the side of Azazil’s throne, taller than even The Red King at an impressive 6 ft9. His hard, hewn but young face was dark with displeasure, his black eyes staring straight ahead. Always dressed in unbroken black, Asmodeus was Azazil’s intimidating dark knight. His lieutenant. A prince among Jinn. Red wondered how Ari would react to Asmodeus if ever they were to meet, and unfamiliar part of him hoped that they never did meet. It was bad enough she was being tossed to and fro between Azazil and The White King. Azazil was still deciding what would make better entertainment and The White King never veered from his focus to draw her to him to use her powers against their father. And now White had found Ari and paid her a visit. Red’s fists clenched a little before he could stop them. If something had happened… he should have put that protection spell around her. He had promised. What did she think now? Did she no longer trust him? Surely that was something Azazil wished to avoid?

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire