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  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Smokeless Fire (Page 2)     
  • Smokeless Fire(Fire Spirits #1)(2) by Samantha Young
  • As if coerced onto the scene by a sad Fate a little boy of nine or ten years old with dark brown hair and eyes shot towards her, puffing out of breath.

    “Have you seen my sister?” he wheezed.

    Concerned by his appearance at the high school during the day Ari stopped, grabbing his arm before he could shoot off without an answer. “Who’s your sister?”

    “Gemma Hall.”

    Ari frowned. Gemma was a junior. “I’ll—”

    “Bobby!” They both spun around to see Gemma rushing down the school steps towards them. “Did you bring them?”

    “Yeah, but you owe me, like, twenty bucks…”

    Satisfied that there was nothing dramatic going down between the siblings Ari left them to it, only glancing back once at the kid. He looked so much like Michael.

    Michael Creagh. Charlie’s kid brother. And the reason Charlie was so effed up. Two years ago, on Ari’s 16th birthday, Charlie had taken his parent’s SUV out to pick up his little brother from Little League. He was hurrying, trying to get Mike home so he could head over to Ari’s to pick her up and take her out to celebrate. The cyclist came out of nowhere. Charlie had swerved onto oncoming traffic and the passenger side took the full impact of the collision. When Charlie had come to... Mike was already dead. Everything changed that day. The happy Creaghs stopped being parents to Charlie and Charlie stopped being…Charlie. He blamed himself for his brother’s death and Ari wasn’t so sure his parents didn’t either.

    Ari felt a rip of pain across her chest at the thought of how much agony her best friend was in. How did you live with that kind of guilt? Ari stopped hanging out at the Creagh’s because Charlie didn’t want her to. He told her his dad had started drinking and his mom had gotten her old job as manager at FoodLand back to keep them afloat financially and to avoid her husband and the son who hadn’t died. Eventually, Charlie started hanging with a new crowd: slackers, potheads. He started skipping school, dropping grades. She’d even on occasion found him wasted in Vickers' Woods. She’d hoped he’d snap out of it eventually, that it was just his way of grieving. But it had been two years…

    Before it happened… Ari had been psyching herself up to talk to him that night… the night of her 16th. After confiding in Rachel, her new chem lab partner, she had been persuaded it was time. She had been moping after Charlie for three years. Ari didn’t know when her feelings for him stopped being platonic. There wasn’t a moment when everything shifted and suddenly she loved him. It was more that she turned thirteen and suddenly boys were cute and gave her butterflies. Charlie gave her butterflies. Not raging wasps like he did now. But tickling, exciting, beautiful creatures that fluttered their wings against her stomach, kicking her heart into a wild dance that matched their beat. She had been sixteen years old and in love.

    And she still loved him.

    Even though he wasn’t Charlie anymore.

    Ari’s skin cooled as she stepped into the trees, winding her way over the worn path that took her into the clearing that was popular with stoners. Surely the faculty knew about this place but they were either too lazy to do something about it or just didn’t care. Her eyes washed over the gathering, finding mostly sophomores and juniors. She only knew a few people by name and she nodded at them warily. They were lounging around on the grass, leaning against one another and rocks, their pupils dilated, their features slack. Drifting through them, Ari headed towards a guy she recognized. He was tall, his long legs stretched out before him in dirty, ripped jeans, his Smashing Pumpkins t-shirt wrinkled and worn. His expression was blank as he gazed up at her, brushing his unkempt dark brown hair out of his deep brown eyes. He had a nice face, handsome in that boy next door kind of way. As she stopped before him, he tilted his head back and the corner of his mouth quirked up. A flash of emotion sparked in his eyes transforming him from cute guy next door to sexy and dangerous ‘anything is possible with me’ guy. Before her was a boy who could hurt her more than anybody else.

    “Charlie.” She nodded, trying to act casual, which was difficult considering the stares burning into her back.

    “What’s up?” he asked softly, reaching for the joint Mel Rickman handed him. Ari deliberately kept her gaze focused on Charlie. Mel was older than everyone else, in his early twenties, a complete waste of space. The guy gave her the creeps and not because he was hanging out getting sophomores stoned, but because when he looked at her it was as if he were imagining her na**d. The lascivious douche made her uneasy.

    She glanced around to make sure no one was paying attention, suddenly feeling foolish standing there in her washed, un-ripped hipster jeans and plain t-shirt from The Gap . The grass tickled her feet in her flip flops and she looked down, her eyes wandering over to the steel toe cap boots Mel wore. She fingered the tennis bracelet on her wrist, trying not to flush. Most of the kids Charlie hung out with came from the east, the low income side of Sandford Ridge. It was a medium-sized town situated in the southeast of Butler County, not small enough for everyone to know everyone’s business, but not big enough for people not to know if you lived on the east side or the west side. “I was wondering if you’re still coming to my birthday party on Friday?”

    Charlie gave her an inscrutable look, the silence between them stretching into irritating and unnecessary. Ari was this close to throwing the folder in her arms at him.

    “I’ll come to your party, babe.” Mel winked at her. “Give me a private showing sometime and I might even buy you a present.”

    “Watch it.” Charlie whipped his head around at him, his dark eyes glittering with fury. “Don’t talk to her.”

    “Hey—”

    “Just shut it.” Charlie pinned him in place with a look of warning that would have made a smarter man pee in his pants. Ari shivered, unsettled by him even though he was only defending her. He glanced back up at her, the anger still etched in his features. “Of course I’ll be there,” he told her quietly. “I’ll see you Friday.”

    Not wanting to leave him there, Ari jerked her head in the direction of the parking lot. “Do you want to come have lunch with me?”

    He shook his head infinitesimally, his features losing expression again. “Go back to school, Ari, I’ll see you later.”

    Feeling that familiar ache in her chest, Ari nodded and spun around, hurrying out of the clearing and the woods and wishing like hell her car wasn’t in the garage and she could just head home.

    She stopped on the hot asphalt, staring blankly at the Ohio plates of the Buick Lacrosse Rachel’s parents had bought her as a graduation gift. I can go home. I am going home . Ari turned and began heading towards the gate. It was a half hour walk, it was nothing. She could do with the exercise.

    “Ari!”

    Closing her eyes in disbelief Ari huffed and slowly turned around to see Rachel running across the lot towards her. “Rache.”

    “Where are you going?”

    “For a walk.”

    “Were you going home?”

    “I thought about it.”

    Rachel shook her head, her eyes narrowing. “He’s put you on a downer again, hasn’t he?”

    “It’s not his fault.”

    “Stop making excuses for him, Ari. And you’re not going home.” She tugged on her arm, dragging her back towards the school.

    “You’re not the boss of me,” Ari grunted, tripping on her flip flops.

    “I am not letting Charlie ruin graduation for you. You think I don’t know why you’ve been so sullen and quiet every time we mention college and graduation? It’s Charlie! It’s always Charlie. You’re going to have to leave him to soak in his self-destructive soup and frankly I think it’s a good thing. He is such a loser. You are so much better than that.”

    “Hey!” Ari yanked her arm away and shot her best friend a look so livid it was amazing waves of burning smoke didn’t start weeping from Rachel’s body. “You don’t get to call him that. He’s been through hell and I’m sorry if he doesn’t fall into your perfect little bubble but he’s my friend, and I don’t abandon my friends.”

    Holding her hands up in a surrender gesture Rachel nodded, her eyes wide. “You’re right. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have called him that.”

    Ari shook her head, sighing heavily. “Whatever. Let’s just get you back to the cafeteria before A.J. eats whatever you left on your tray.”

    Her eyes almost popped out of her head. “My Snickers!”

    Ari gave a bark of annoyed laughter, watching Rachel lope up the stone stairs two at a time. Watching her friend, who knew herself inside out, Ari wished she was more like Rachel… or that she had more time at least; time to discover who she was supposed to be.

    For once, Ari was glad to step into the airy house she called home, waving behind her to Rachel who was driving her back and forth to school while her car was in the garage getting fixed. She shut the door, dropping her bag and pulling off the light summer jacket she had needed when clouds had rolled in over the Ridge out of nowhere after lunch. She hung it up on the coat pegs, using the label to loop it securely to the peg. When it slid up and off, falling to the ground, Ari groaned and bent down to pick it up. She secured it again and headed off towards the kitchen only to hear the pinging of the metal buttons hitting the wooden floor. Exhaling heavily, she spun back on her heel and picked it back up, jamming the jacket down on the peg.

    Her poltergeist was such a pain in the ass.

    “I’m not in the mood, Ms. Maggie!” she called out, scanning the hall.

    Two years ago, sometime after her 16th actually, a poltergeist took up residence in her house. When she tried to tell her dad about furniture being moved, an invisible person using her laptop, books taken down from the shelf and left around and open, he’d told her to stop being childish. For the last four or five years he’d been gone a lot, traveling the country and wining and dining doctors and hospital execs as a pharmaceutical sales rep. Her dad was good at his job and she never wanted for anything — except maybe for more time with him. Anyway, her theory about the poltergeist didn’t really hit home until they got into an argument one day a year and a half ago. He’d raised his voice at her because she made the mistake of whining about him being gone so much and a book flew off one of the shelves and cracked him across the head. He hadn’t imagined it and was now sufficiently freaked out by their house. Ari, on the other hand, had stopped whining at her dad in the hopes that that would make him want to be home more, and had gotten used to the company of the poltergeist. She was pretty sure the poltergeist was a woman because she seemed to take offence to sexist, anti-feminist jokes and had a considerate nature Ari had only encountered in girls. Sure she was mischievous, like with the whole jacket thing, but once Ari told her to stop doing something she would. Ari had named her Ms. Maggie after the dog her dad had bought when she was eight and then promptly gotten rid of when he realized how much work was involved for him.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire