• Home
  • Directory
  • Popular
  • Authors
  • Series
  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Scorched Skies (Page 40)     
  • Scorched Skies(Fire Spirits #2)(40) by Samantha Young
  • However, The Guild had it right. Wasn’t it better to die fighting for something, for the people she loved, than to give up to a tragic end?

    “I think so,” she whispered.

    “You think what?” Charlie asked softly and Ari turned to look down at him. He gazed up at her with beautiful sleepy dark eyes. A bittersweet ache lit across her chest as she remembered how much she had been in love with him. But it had been puppy love. Childish dreaming. She loved him yes. But she wasn’t in love with him. Ari finally understood the difference.

    “I’ve been trying so hard to let go of you,” she told him softly.

    At the serious turn of conversation Charlie pulled himself up into a sitting position, his eyes suddenly wide awake. His hair was growing out. It looked better. More like him. “And have you?” his voice was hoarse under the heaviness of the question.

    “I didn’t want to care anymore. After my dad and you and… everything… it just seemed too hard. But I still care.” She took one of his hands in hers and squeezed. “And I am so terrified for you.”

    Frowning Charlie squeezed her hand back. “Hey, I’m going to be OK. I’m learning to control this thing. Admittedly, I got lost in it and I don’t want that to happen again. I feel like crap for not knowing what was going on, for not being there when you needed me.”

    “That works both ways,” she admitted.

    “I’m going to take my time,” he promised. “Do this right.”

    “You’re still going to get yourself killed.”

    “I have to do this, Ari. Can’t you understand that?”

    Ari took a minute, thinking about how she’d feel about Anabeth if she’d succeeded in killing Jai. There was hatred yes, and she’d want justice, and if no one else was relying on her she would have been tempted to take that justice. But Ari wasn’t wired that way. She’d always thought ten steps ahead. That’s how come she was able to prevent herself from using her gift against The White King even though he’d had her dad murdered.

    “I think I can,” she told Charlie and watched as he seemed to melt under her admission. “But, it doesn’t mean I agree with you.”

    They were quiet a moment, Charlie’s thumb sliding over her palm. His hands were just a little smoother than Jai’s, she realized.

    Ari thought of Fallon who’d been unhappy to be left behind with her team on the plane. Ari had watched as Fallon had given Charlie a hug and whispered something in his ear. “So…” she smiled cheekily at him, unable to keep a little awkwardness and a teensy bit jealousy out of her words, “You and Fallon. She likes you.”

    Charlie rolled his eyes. “You’re such a girl.”

    “Well my bra certainly thinks so.”

    “Funny.”

    “So.” Ari nudged him harder with her shoulder. “Something going on there?”

    A scowl quickly replaced Charlie’s smile as he looked down into her teasing eyes. “You know there isn’t. And there won’t be.”

    Ari winced, remembering his words only a few weeks before.

    “… I’m not giving up. One day, maybe next week, maybe next year… maybe ten years from now… you’ll be ready to let me in again. And I’ll be waiting, Ari. I’ll wait forever to make it right with you.”

    “Charlie…” Ari breathed, shaking her head. “Maybe there should.”

    “Ari…?”

    God, she couldn’t let him keep thinking there was hope. Hurt for him twisted her gut as she looked up at him, staring deep into his eyes. She had to make him understand. “I was going to die for him.”

    Pain rippled over Charlie’s features, his eyes widening with understanding. He sucked in a breath like he’d been punched in the stomach. Not knowing what to do but hating that she’d caused him pain, Ari threw her arms around him and held him tight. After a few seconds his arms came around her back and he squeezed her close, pressing his face into the hollow of her neck. They held each other tight for a few minutes and then Charlie gave a quick nod, his nose brushing her skin, his hand rubbing her back as if to give her comfort. Abruptly he let go, pushing her back from him and without saying a word he stood up and strode out of the room.

    Ari gazed around at the team of hunters glad to be sitting next to Fallon. The girl never let any situation get to her or change the way she acted around people. Most members of the team still found it difficult to look her in the eye, especially the twins, but not Fallon. Gerard and Megan seemed less embarrassed now too. And it wasn’t like Ari blamed them for what happened.

    A few hours after the team had arrived they’d booked a conference room at the hotel and Ari had walked down to the meeting with Jai and Ms. Maggie. The tension between Ari and him had been brittle and electric at the same time, only a couple of sparks away from shattering them into pieces. The silent ride in the elevator had almost killed her and Ari had been this close to telling him to get over it already. But no, they’d made it to the conference room without incident. Surprisingly, Charlie was already there sitting next to Jack Hollis who, now that Ari thought about it, had seemed pretty unaffected by Anabeth’s betrayal. Perhaps they hadn’t been close or perhaps, like Ari, Jack was growing numb to loss. Charlie couldn’t meet Ari’s eyes as she walked into the room, but that didn’t surprise her. Sadly, she wondered how long it would take them to get their friendship back on track. She wasn’t enjoying the role reversal from her moping after him to the opposite. It was just one other huge thing that had changed in her life since her eighteenth birthday.

    “There was another attempted kidnapping,” Gerard told her abruptly. “Right here in Cleveland at a club.”

    Ari frowned in confusion at the news. “But Dalí had me attacked in California almost two weeks ago. Surely he wouldn’t have done that unless the harmal concoction was ready to be used on me now?”

    Jacob leaned forward across the table, his rugged face grim. “Maybe, maybe not. He may still be experimenting with it… testing its endurance… who knows. Whatever he’s doing, this means we are not taking any chances. He attempted to kidnap someone and failed. We can only guess that he’s going to try again. And that means every night starting tonight, we’re splitting into teams and patrolling as many nightclubs as possible. During the day we’ll scope out several commercial buildings that fit his profile. Ari is to stay at the hotel at all times.” He raised a finger to stop her inevitable interruption and Ari slumped back in her seat. “You know no one can know you’re here.”

    Much to her annoyance, Ari had to listen to reason for once.

    From there, she listened as teams were put together, her eyes straying unconsciously to Jai every two seconds. He looked over and caught her watching him and the breath whooshed out of her as their gazes locked. She felt her insides heat up under his unfathomable regard and knew deep down she was somehow bound even more to him for having saved his life.

    “Jai?” Gerard snapped, drawing their attention from one another. The leader frowned at them and Ari blushed at how inappropriately distracted they were.

    Jai cleared his throat. “Yes?”

    “You’re taking Charlie and Fallon tonight. You’ll be hitting Club A — it’s in the Warehouse District.”

    Uneasiness tightened Ari’s chest as Fallon reached for the address. This was so much worse now knowing they could be heading into danger without her. Ari’s stomach churned as the team talked for another forty-five minutes, going over protocol and handing out talismans. Finally, Jacob stood up to lead them out and Ari watched numbly as they streamed out of the conference room.

    “Ari, you coming?” Fallon asked, wheeling her chair back from the table.

    “Just give me a minute.” She smiled weakly and Fallon nodded, hurrying to follow Jack and Charlie out. Jai was still sitting at the head of the conference table, watching her. She flushed as Charlie frowned from the doorway. He gave her a sharp nod that broke her heart, for despite its sharpness, there was some kind of understanding there. The door shut quietly in his wake, leaving her alone in the room with Jai.

    His look burned through her and Ari shivered with a cold goosepimply heat. She held her breath, waiting. The thick silence stretched between them, the air filled with unspoken words.

    The door opened and a member of the hotel staff poked her head around the door. “Could you please vacate from the room, we have a meeting booked in here in fifteen minutes and we have to set up.”

    “Of course.” Jai nodded at her and stood to his feet. The girl smiled tightly and disappeared just as Ari too slowly rose. Her heart pounded in her chest, her eyes surely wide with questions as Jai stalked towards her. Ari wanted to launch herself at him, kiss him, hit him… persuade him.

    Love him.

    Beats puttered out to a splutter against her ribs as Jai stopped inches from her, the exotic scent of him rushing over her, making her eyelashes flutter a little. She clenched her fists together to stop herself from pulling him close and burying her nose against his neck like an unloved bloodhound.

    Ari stilled as they watched each other. For once, his beautiful green eyes weren’t carefully blank. There was wariness there, confusion. Fear maybe. Slowly he lifted a hand, his fingers brushing her cheek, curling along her jaw-line and then around her ear. Ari shivered, bussing into his touch, hope — unwanted — but blossoming nonetheless within.

    His rough, hoarse voice jolted her back to reality. “When this is done… we… we need to talk.”

    “Jai?” What did that mean? Was that good or bad? “What—”

    She was cut off by the door slamming open and two staff members barging in with a refreshment trolley. Annoyed beyond belief, Ari stifled her irritation and instead enjoyed the feel of Jai’s hand in hers as he lead her from the room.

    And then all hope of questioning him was dashed as they came face to face with Fallon at the elevator. She raised an eyebrow at their clasped hands. “Adonis, you’re needed in Charlie’s room with me so we can go over our own plans for this evening.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire