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  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Scorched Skies (Page 39)     
  • Scorched Skies(Fire Spirits #2)(39) by Samantha Young
  • “I just heard,” Trey replied quietly. “Is she going to be OK? Are you?”

    “I’m fine,” Jai assured him, but hearing his closest friend’s voice broke something within him and he found himself whispering hoarsely, utter shock and confusion in the words, “She saved my life. She took the hit… and the last thing she did was use her gift to command that kid to leave me alone. Why did she do that?” he ducked his head in embarrassment as tears glittered in his eyes.

    Trey was quiet a moment. “I think you already know, man. And I think you’re a complete dick if you don’t make the right choice.”

    “Trey.” Jai shook his head, frustration burning the softer emotion away. “It’s not that simple.”

    “It is that simple,” Trey spat down the phone and Jai almost jumped back in surprise at his vehemence. “They beat the shit out of you and he let it happen. For years. But she almost died to save you. There is a right and wrong choice here, Jai.”

    “There’s too much going on.” Jai shook his head, glad to have a reason to postpone making any life-changing decisions. “We’re still hunting Dalí and Ari hasn’t even woken up y—”

    A soft groan from Ari’s lips cut him off and Jai stood up, watching as she shifted in the bed, her head turning, her eyes opening in narrow slits until they widened at the sight of him standing over her. Her hair was in desperate need of a wash and her full mouth was creased from sleep. Although color had returned to her cheeks, there was still a slick glow about her skin that spoke of fever.

    She was the most beautiful thing Jai had ever seen.

    “She just woke up,” he told Trey quietly.

    Trey sighed in relief. “Tell her I asked for her. And remember what I said.” He hung up without saying goodbye. Jai had a feeling his friend, for the first time ever, was truly pissed off at him.

    “Hey,” Jai said softly as Ari blinked up at him, confusion turning to remembrance.

    Her eyes widened and she struggled to sit up. He leaned around her, his arms under hers, pulling her up gently into a sitting position. Ari grabbed his arm before he could take it back. “You’re OK?”

    Jai smiled despite himself, bemused that that was her first question. “I’m OK.”

    Ari gazed at Jai like he was the first man she’d ever seen. Relief throbbed through her and she clutched tighter to his arm. She felt icky and disorientated but the pain she remembered was completely gone. What had happened? She was back with The Guild?

    Her fingers slipped down his arm as Jai tried to gently remove it, the pads of her fingertips tingling as they brushed over his hand. Don’t let go. She almost pouted when he pulled back, his smile disappearing as wariness crept over his face. Ari blinked up in confusion, not understanding his look. “What happened?”

    When he was done explaining everything to her, Ari pulled her bed clothes back.

    “What are you doing?” Jai frowned, blocking her path.

    “Getting out of bed. There’s another asshat after me. I have to deal with it.”

    “Get back in bed. You almost died,” he growled. “And don’t think I’m letting you away with the stunt you pulled.”

    Ari gaped at him, indignation flooding her. “Is that your idea of a thank you?”

    Jai raised an eyebrow, a dangerous glint in his eyes. “Thank you?” he breathed. “You want me to say thank you for almost killing yourself?”

    I want you to say thank you for saving your life! I want you to say, Ari, I get it now!

    Bitter disappointment tingled on her tongue and Ari shook her head. “I don’t want anything from you.”

    Before he could react, the door to the bedroom burst open and Charlie took three huge strides towards her, brushing Jai aside and crushing Ari up into a hug so big she was pulled up onto her feet. She hugged him back, comforted by the familiar feel of him.

    “I was so worried,” Charlie said hoarsely, the rumble of his words tickling her ear.

    “I’m OK.” She gave him another squeeze and stepped back without letting go. She still felt a little unsteady on her feet.

    Fallon stood in between Jai and The Red King, their intimidating height and presence making the girl look particularly diminutive. Ari barely had time to acknowledge The Red King with a grateful smile — he had saved her life — when Fallon punched her playfully on the upper arm. “Check you out.” She grinned. “You survived an Haqeeqah. I think I’ve found a new god to worship.” She bowed her head with an insolent spark in her eyes.

    Ari threw The Red King a quizzical look. “Haqeeqah?”

    Her uncle smiled indulgently and Ari caught that quick look of fondness he tried so hard to hide. Was she coming to trust him after all? “It’s female for truth. It’s the essence of the power of an emerald carved from Mount Qaf itself. It’s pure in its source, its power. As pure as truth.”

    “And it nearly killed me?”

    His eyes darkened. “Yes.”

    Charlie’s arm bristled under her hand. “Did you find out who did it?”

    They all turned to gaze at Red and he didn’t even flinch under their expectant and aggressive regard. Instead he gave a quick shake of his head. “No one will admit to it, and those I suspected have been proven innocent by Azazil.”

    Charlie glowered. “So that’s it? This is ridiculous. How are we supposed to protect Ari from not one, but three enemies, and not even know who the last one is?”

    “We don’t know who he is,” Jai interjected. “But we do know he wasn’t coming after Ari. He was coming after me.”

    “Yeah,” Fallon threw him a ‘duh’ look, “but only to get you out of the way so he could get to Ari.”

    They began talking over one another and Ari’s head throbbed with their argument. She gazed passively at The Red King and he gave her a sympathetic smile.

    Thank you for saving my life, she told him telepathically.

    His eyes sharpened. You’re very welcome. I will always be there.

    Thank you for saving his life too.

    Red’s smile dropped as he shot a quick look at Jai before turning back to her. You did that. Not I.

    Yes she did. Because the thought of losing him…

    Ari.

    Her eyes met Red’s bright blue ones again. Yeah.

    That’s why he was hurt. They’ll try to use him against you. You have to hide it. How you feel.

    Shaking her head infinitesimally, Ari straightened her spine, I’m done hiding. It’s time to hunt.

    A rakish grin flashed across The Red King’s face and he clapped his hands to hush the squabbling. “Enough. One enemy at a time. And it seems Ari is ready to kick some ass.”

    They all looked at her, mirror images with raised eyebrows and pursed mouths.

    She quirked her own eyebrow at them, acknowledging that pretending she was alright might actually help her be alright. “You heard our liege,” she teased. “Let’s put this behind us and knock at least one of these guys down.”

    25 - Can you hunt a hunter?

    Sitting in another room that wasn’t her own, Ari gazed at the window wishing she could stare out of it. But they were taking extra precautions to make sure Dalí and no one else knew where Ari had disappeared to, so she had to remain unseen. She was bored. Jai was avoiding her and Charlie was passed out on the bed beside her. Ms. Maggie’s energy hummed in the room letting her know she was nearby too. Charlie had been overly attentive and Ari knew he felt guilty about losing himself so much in learning to be a sorcerer, that he hadn’t even known Jai had gone out on a hunt, let alone that Ari had followed him to her near-death. Of course it wasn’t Charlie’s fault, but Ari wasn’t above withholding those actual words as long as it meant he was distracted from indulging too much in the addictive power he’d wished for. She twisted around to look down at him fondly, his long legs dangling off the end of the bed. That couldn’t be comfortable. A soft snore blew out between his perfect mouth and Ari felt a rush of contentment to see him like this. She missed her friend. They didn’t talk about ordinary things anymore, like books and films and music. Instead Ari sat around waiting for Charlie to come down from his last magical high. The last had been from riding the Peripatos with The Red King. To hinder the chance of anyone following them, Red had offered to take Charlie to the hotel they’d be staying at in Cleveland using the Peripatos so that Dalí didn’t use Charlie to track Ari.

    Ari had grimaced, her hands akimbo. “And you couldn’t have offered to do that before? Back when we had to take a flight to L.A or Phoenix?”

    The Red King grinned unapologetically. “Well I thought you guys needed quality time together. Things have been strained.”

    “Strained my butt. You do things when you want to do them, no rhyme or reason, right?”

    Her uncle shrugged, his eyes glinting enigmatically.

    Ari sighed and looked at the clock for the millionth time. Jai was in the room next door. Waiting too. The team was taking a plane. They’d be there soon and things could get moving again. She would have something to concentrate on instead of the fact that Jai tensed anytime she touched him or that her heart sputtered even worse than it used to when he looked at her. Even now she was acutely aware of him in the next hotel room, her ears straining to hear some kind of movement. Restlessness thrummed through her veins. Had she done a one-eighty? Had she really come through all of this to be back to pining for a boy who didn’t love her back? Surely not.

    No. Well, yes and no. It was stupid to think she could just switch it off. She couldn’t even do that with Charlie, she brushed a finger over his handsome sleeping face. She could try to move on, yes, but she couldn’t lie to herself. She loved Jai. Chest-crushing, heart-squeezing, breath-stealing kind of love and what had happened had changed her perspective all over again.

    Maybe she didn’t stand a chance in this tug-of-war for the Seal. Maybe she was going to die.

    Maybe there was no other end for her in this.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire