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  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Scorched Skies (Page 33)     
  • Scorched Skies(Fire Spirits #2)(33) by Samantha Young
  • “Good. You better change before I get rid of the body,” he reminded him as both their eyes returned to Jack’s empty form. It had been quick, bloodless. No joy in this kill. But it was a necessity. For Azazil.

    Immense power surged into the air. Red could feel its likeness in his own veins and watched calmly as Glass’ body began to tremble. Shadows writhed under his skin, bones cracked and muscles pulled tight as he began to shrink in inches. Still tall, his classically handsome face bloated then sunk, bulged and popped, before snapping back into shape. His long cerulean hair began climbing the length of his body as if his skull were eating the strands, the color morphing with the shift to a dark muddy brown. His leather vest and trousers shimmered out of existence, replaced by a check shirt, worn jeans and army boots.

    “How do I look?” Glass asked, his voice softer, accented.

    “Like a Guild Hunter called Jack Hollis.”

    Glass quirked an unfamiliar eyebrow. “Then it’s time to play.”

    That first night under the strange roof, sleeping in a twin bed across the room from a stranger, Ari didn’t have the chance to struggle to fall asleep. Fallon talked so much she kept her awake the whole night. In under eight hours Ari learned that Fallon was a sarcastic, outgoing, optimist-wannabe-pessimist. She was an only child, loved and spoiled by her parents and large extended family. She’d lost friends, one cousin, and a grandfather to the job but had been brought up on ideals of The Guild. To die protecting people from wicked Jinn was an honor and something to be celebrated as heroic rather than mourned as tragic.

    Growing up in New Jersey, Fallon hadn’t really made friends outside of The Guild. It was too difficult to keep the life a secret and the fact that they travelled a lot raised too many questions when they brought in outsiders. People were only initiated into the group if they were going to marry a Guild member. Even then, the Guild member had to be certain their future wife or husband wouldn’t immediately run to a shrink when the news that Jinn lived among them was broken to them. Fallon had tried out a serious relationship in school but had only ended up hurt when he dumped her for being distant and secretive. For the last few years, dating had been casual and fun. Nothing more. Until she met someone in ‘the life’ Fallon didn’t want her relationships to be anything more than casual.

    Ari also learned a lot about the other team members in Phoenix. Anabeth, the red-head with wandering hands, was a year older than Ari and Fallon, and according to Fallon she was a selfish, spoiled flirt. Her mother was also second generation Jinn so Anabeth was pretty powerful. Fallon did not get along with her. Her half-brothers, the twins, were usually pretty laid-back guys. Matt had a fiancé back home in The Guild and Fallon had messed around with Callum a couple of times when they were bored. Fallon thought what he did to Ari at the dinner table was feeble and had decided to end their ‘friends with benefits’ situation almost immediately afterwards. Everyone else according to Fallon was pretty cool. Her aunt and uncle, and Susan and Aidan Roe — her cousins — were nice people. She didn’t know James and Scott Becke all that well but she was getting to know Bryleigh, and Fallon thought she could be a pretty nice person if she stopped acting like she’d popped out of a magazine for Women of the ‘50s. Because Jacob was one of the elders of the Roe Guild, Fallon knew his kids Brechin and Ailidh Ballendine well. They were nice, but took everything very seriously. They did not understand Fallon’s flippancy. But then again, Fallon wasn’t sure anyone did.

    Once the girl had given Ari a rundown on the group she’d started in on the questions. When did she find out she was Jinn? What had her dad been like? What was Azazil like? What was Mount Qaf like? What was going on with her and Jai? And on and on… And to Ari’s surprise she found herself telling Fallon everything. It all spilled out of her, from Mike dying on Ari’s sixteenth birthday, Charlie’s spiral downwards, her dad’s negligence, her eighteenth birthday and being swept up into Mount Qaf. How wicked her real father was. The Red King. Jai. Nick’s possession. Charlie’s wish. Jai’s rejection. Derek’s death and how little time she’d been allowed to mourn him. Ari laid it all out there, keeping only Ms. Maggie to herself. By the time she was done the air in the bedroom had felt thick with her spewed emotions. Finally, Fallon had whispered into the brightening gloom, “You’re going to be OK, Ari Johnson.” And that was it. Ari had made a friend. It felt nice.

    “Holy macaroons! Ari yelled, throwing up a hand to melt the dagger heading for her heart. The smell of molten metal filled the air in the garden before disappearing in the gentle breeze. It was day three with The Roe Guild and Ari was training with Fallon in the backyard after lunch. Jai was hanging out, supervising… kind of. And to everyone’s surprise, Jack Hollis had taken an interest in Charlie and the two of them were always off together, hanging out, talking — Ari presumed they got along because they both knew what it was like to lose someone they loved to an evil Jinn. Things had been pretty normal in training until Fallon rubbed a silver key hanging around her neck and conjured a dagger! Ari gaped at the girl as she stood their grinning, her designer sunglasses too big for her pixie face. “What? Why? Where?”

    “It was part of a practice set my mom bought me.” Fallon shrugged. “Don’t worry, I’m not mad you ruined it.”

    “Ruined it,” Ari spluttered — she’d almost been gutted. “Practice set? Your mom bought you daggers?”

    “Of course.” Fallon slid her sunglasses down her nose so she could peer at her. “You didn’t think I’d stolen them from an old Asian guy did you?”

    “Nice, and not at all stereotyping.” Ari frowned. “And… maybe.”

    “Tut, tut, Ari J,” Fallon mock-admonished. “Only sorcerers don’t care about the consequences. Well.” She grinned wickedly. “Most of the time.”

    At the mention of consequences Ari shot a look at Jai who was sitting on a lawn chair reading a book he’d borrowed from Gerard. Somehow, Ari knew he was aware of everything they were doing (and was making sure Ari didn’t get hurt). Still, that didn’t stop the flare of annoyance that lit up inside her. “Up until recently I wasn’t even aware of the consequences.”

    Fallon’s eyebrows hit her hairline as she turned to gape at Jai, shoving her sunglasses up onto her head. “Hey, Gorgeous!” she called to him and he glanced up slowly with weary patience. Fallon had yet to call Jai by his actual name. She called him ‘Babe’ ‘Sweetcheeks’ ‘Adonis’ and other equally embarrassing names that irritated the hell out of him. It just made Ari like her more. “You didn’t tell her about the consequences of using her magic right away? What are you, new?”

    Jai slanted an unforgiving look at Ari. “I thought we were past this?”

    Ari held her hands up defensively. “I didn’t say anything. I mean, I could have. It’s not like I wouldn’t have reason to considering you lied to me about something so huge. If you hadn’t have eventually told me I could have done something really bad… say conjured a Lexus convertible and upended a cute Californian couple on the highway where they were then squashed and splattered by a delivery truck.”

    Fallon snorted.

    Jai rolled his eyes. “But I did tell you. No Lexus. No squash.”

    “Luckily for you.”

    Her guardian sighed and looked back down at his book. “I can’t tell you how much I look forward to these mature and scintillating conversations. Still, when the old Ari pays a visit, let me know.”

    “Old Ari? I was a sarcastic to you before.”

    “True.” He nodded, turning the page on the paperback. “But there was this era between scared, sarcastic Ari and this new-fangled five year old Ari where you were actually decent to be around.”

    Ouch. “Bite me.”

    Jai grinned slyly and looked up at her from under his lashes. “Just tell me how hard.”

    Callum, who had warmed up considerably to Ari over the last few days, stepped onto the patio and laughed as he caught the latter end of their conversation. Ari shook her head at Jai. Flirt. She felt her insides go all gooey and fought back a smile only to fail. She tried to save it by rolling her eyes and turning her attention back to Fallon. The girl was grinning knowingly at Ari. She stepped closer, lowering her voice, “Wow.”

    Ari frowned. “What?”

    “You and Jai,” she said quietly. “It’s like verbal foreplay. It’s been going on since you got here.”

    It’s been going on since we met.

    Feeling her cheeks heat Ari knew there was no way to disguise her blush.

    Fallon burst out laughing. “Well, looks like someone is a virgin.”

    Annoyance mingled with embarrassment shot through Ari. “What?” she said loudly, bringing both Jai and Callum’s heads up. “Am I the only person left in the free world that hasn’t had sex yet?”

    “If you like, I could remedy that for you.” Callum chuckled, wandering casually over to them.

    Before he made it three steps he inexplicably slid hard on the dry grass, losing his footing. He fell comically, his feet lifting into the air, his ass crashing down to the ground with a painful thud. They all stared at him in surprise as he scrambled to his feet, his cheeks blazing an adorable shade of red. “What the hell was that?” Callum demanded, looking around for invisible hands. “Someone did that? What the hell?

    Ari suppressed a laugh, sensing the hum of familiar energy in the air. Ms. Maggie… defending Ari’s virtue again. Ari glanced over at Jai with a secret smile in her eyes and he smiled back at her, a gorgeous stretch of his perfect mouth that made it hard to remember that she wasn’t supposed to be fantasizing about kissing it.

    His voice suddenly entered her head, You know I’m really starting to like Ms. Maggie.

    “I appreciate you doing this,” Charlie said quietly, his voice deep with emotion that he just couldn’t conceal.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire