• Home
  • Directory
  • Popular
  • Authors
  • Series
  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Smokeless Fire (Page 3)     
  • Smokeless Fire(Fire Spirits #1)(3) by Samantha Young
  • Ari breathed a sigh of relief when the jacket stayed in place. “Thanks, Ms. Maggie. I appreciate it. It’s been a rough day.” She wandered out of the cold hallway into the even colder, empty kitchen. Their house seemed to lack the cozy warmth of her friends’ houses. She didn’t know if that was to do with the minimalist furniture or the lack of any actual family living in it. There could have been a family. But Ari had ruined that for her dad.

    All of her life Ari had lived with the knowledge that her mother, some mysterious woman named Sala, had broken her father’s heart after a passionate and brief affair before returning nine months later with a baby she said was his. She’d left Ari with him and disappeared, never to be seen again. Her father had done the best he could, Ari knew that. And she knew that he loved her more than anything. He had tried. He’d read to her every night before bed, he’d taught her to swim, to play baseball, to throw a punch without breaking her thumb, but as she’d gotten older they had grown apart. Over the years there had only been a few girlfriends, for which Ari was grateful. Unlike other kids with no moms Ari hadn’t wanted one. To her a mom was this creature who had stolen her daddy’s heart and ripped it out, leaving them both in the cold, lost and alone. So when Derek had started getting serious with this one woman when Ari was ten, she’d started to panic. If her father married this woman, she’d be Ari’s mom. What if she left too? She’d just break their hearts as well. And to be truthful Ari didn’t want to share her dad with anyone. The lie she’d told that had broken up the relationship still ate at her conscience eight years later. In a moment of pure childish stupidity, with no real clue to the consequences of her actions, Ari had lied and told her dad that his girlfriend (Michelle) had slapped her when Ari had told her she didn’t want her to be her mom. Derek was furious. He believed his daughter over his four month old relationship and had swiftly ended things. There hadn’t been anyone serious since. Ari blanched every time she thought about it. Her dad would so kill her if he knew the truth. Poor Michelle.

    The upbeat melody of Sick Muse by Metric rang out from the pocket of Ari’s jeans and she jumped, startled in the quiet of the house. Jerking her cell out, she smiled softly at the caller ID and pressed the answer call button. “Dad.”

    “Hey, sweetheart,” his warm, deep voice reminded her of Christmas Day on the couch watching Home Alone and eating chocolates for breakfast. “How’s things?”

    “OK. Graduation in a couple of days,” she reminded him.

    “I know, sweetheart,” he replied wearily. “I’ve asked Rachel’s mom to take care of you and to take lots of pictures of you in your cap and gown. I’m so sorry I can’t be there. You know I would if I could but I can’t miss this meeting. It could be my biggest sale this year.”

    She nodded, feeling a little numb at the distance between them. “I know. Don’t worry about it, Dad. It’s not a big deal.”

    “It is a big deal. That’s why I want you to take the emergency credit card and buy whatever you need for your birthday party, OK?”

    “Thanks, that’s great.”

    “I’ve also got a fantastic birthday present for you. I’ll be home in three weeks. I can’t wait to see your face when you open it.”

    She smiled. Admittedly, her dad always bought her the most thoughtful presents. “I hope you didn’t do anything extravagant.”

    Derek laughed. “It’s your 18th, of course I did. I love you, kid.”

    “Love you too, Dad.”

    Their conversation was short and sweet, like always, and Ari spent the rest of the evening cooking pasta, watching cartoons, worrying about Charlie, and stalking his Facebook and Twitter accounts to see if there was any recent activity. There never was. She talked to Rache and Staci for a while on Skype and then slid back from her desk, falling, emotionally exhausted, onto her king-sized bed.

    “Ms. Maggie… can you hit the lights?” Two seconds later the click of the switch echoed around the room and the bedroom was plunged into darkness. “Thanks, you’re a doll.”

    Two minutes later a flash of light across her closed lids broke her fall into sleep and she groaned, prying her eyes open to see her laptop had been turned on, the glow of the screen flicking across her walls as it changed from a Facebook account to Twitter .

    “Ms. Maggie,” Ari groaned, flopping back against her pillows. “Can you Tweet in the morning. Please…”

    The chair at her desk squeaked and the laptop went dark.

    “Thank you,” she breathed. “Today was already depressing enough without the reminder that my poltergeist has more followers on Twitter than I do.”

    ~2~

    A Fiery Lash for Her Crime

    The black gates, with their swirling knots and lethal-looking points sticking out of the top, swung open seconds after he spoke into the security box. Jai Bitar took a deep breath, pressing his foot to the gas and easing up the smooth driveway, watching the gates swing shut behind him. Already he wanted to be back in his condo in Hollywood. In fact he’d rather be anywhere than back home in the Palisades, called home to his family, to his father, to his boss. When his dad had a job for him he usually pulled him into their office Downtown. The fact that his father wanted to discuss this new job here… Jai sucked in a breath. Something big was going down. He parked the car at the bottom of the wide stone stairs that led up to his parents’ massive home. It was a burnished clay color, more Spanish estate than the Moroccan architecture Jai favored, but his stepmother loved the design so who was he to argue.

    Finally. Where have you been? I called you three hours ago.

    Used to his father contacting him telepathically without so much as a warning, Jai didn’t even flinch as he got out of the car. I was in the middle of something. I got here as fast as I could. Christ the old man couldn’t even wait two minutes for him to climb those damn stairs to berate him for something.

    Hmmph. I call you with an emergency you drop what you’re doing and get your ass here. End of story. Why is the concept lost on you when your brothers have it down pat?

    Jai glared up at the house, refusing to answer. His dad could talk to him when he got in the house. Correction. Rail at him unfairly. As usual. To stem off a tirade about how long it had taken him to climb the stairs, Jai envisioned the cold entrance hall of his parents’ home with its high ceiling and black and white checkered flooring. There was an ugly ass abstract painting of his stepmother, Nicki, hanging on the main wall. As soon as he had it locked in mind, Jai relaxed, letting the flutter of wind brush against his skin. The blur of color and slightly dizzying sensation of using the Peripatos lasted merely a second and Jai found his eyes stuck on that ugly ass abstract.

    “Where have you been?” a snide voice asked from over his shoulder.

    Keeping his expression neutral, Jai turned to face his second eldest half-brother David. His black eyes bore into Jai’s with their usual disdain and not for the first time Jai noted they looked nothing alike. They could be strangers in appearance and manner for all anyone else knew. The Bitar’s blood was very mixed. Two hundred years ago their Moroccan tribe took off for London to escape a blood feud with another Ginnaye tribe. From there they’d moved to the East Coast of America until migrating to the West. In that time they’d intermarried with other immigrant Ginnaye who had lived in Europe a lot longer than they had. Nicki was Celtic Ginnaye. Luca had met her on assignment in Ireland. Thus, the Bitar boys had a mixture of Irish and Moroccan heritage in their features. Jai was different. His features were harder, his skin olive-toned, his eyes green. He wondered often where his own mother had hailed from to give him such unusual coloring.

    Jai shrugged at his half-brother. “At my condo. Some of us live in our own apartments like big boys with big boy pants.”

    David narrowed his eyes. “Hilarious. But then I guess I’d need a sense of humor too if I were the only son Luca Bitar can’t stand to have living with him.”

    They both knew the truth of that statement but Jai refused to give David the satisfaction of reacting. Instead he shrugged and strode towards him. “You still using the pool house to get laid behind Nicki and Luca’s back? How is that working out for you, big bro? Bet the ladies are impressed by an almost thirty year old guy who lives in his parents’ pool house.”

    “At least I get laid.”

    “As do I.”

    “Yeah but I use my natural charm. I don’t have your mommy’s evil succubus side to lure them in, a**hole.”

    Despite the comment igniting Jai’s blood with rage he was a master at deception. He threw David a lazy look as they entered his father’s office. “I didn’t inherit that part of her genetics, David. I get laid because fortunately you and I look nothing alike.”

    “Morning to you too,” Luca Bitar’s voice cut right through him.

    Smoothing the triumphant smirk off his face, Jai stopped before his father’s desk, his hands behind his back, his expression serious and ready. He and his father may not get along but Jai was one of his father’s best guardians. Luca Bitar knew that. Even if he didn’t want to admit it. “Good morning, sir.” He nodded deferentially.

    Luca nodded back stiffly, his eyes flicking to David. “Where’s your mother?”

    David slouched against his father’s liquor cabinet, his arms crossed lazily over his chest as he eyed Jai with a twisted smile. “You know she likes to be a.w.o.l when the spawn is about.”

    Jai didn’t even so much as twitch. In fact he enjoyed the way Luca’s eyes narrowed on David in disappointment. It killed him that his eldest acted like a five year old when Jai, his offspring with one of the Jinn who had seduced him against his will, was the most professional and mature of his four sons. Not that he’d ever admit that out loud. Just as much as his stepmother, Nicki, liked to take Jai’s unfortunate parentage out on him, so did Luca. Duty bound him to Jai, it made sure he raised his son with all the education and material comforts his other sons were given. But raising Jai with affection and love? No. That had been out of the question. It had made Jai the angriest son-of-a-bitch for the longest time. An anger he’d never shown, even when he’d been allowed to be beaten to a bloody pulp by his two elder half-brothers while the youngest watched, even under the disdain of their entire Ginnaye tribe who looked on him like some filthy half-breed. Rather than acting out he’d done the opposite just to piss everyone off. He’d worked and trained harder than all the rest, gaining the grudging respect from some of the elder Ginnaye, especially those from other tribes around the world. Now, at twenty three years old, he was one of the most respected Security Operative at Bitar Security in LA. His father was the son of the last tribe leader out in California. For centuries their family had lived human lives, protecting Importants whenever they were contracted to do so. Back in the 40s Jai’s grandfather had moved his tribe to California and set up Bitar Security at the height of Hollywood. As well as being guardians to Importants and Jinn who hired them, the Bitar Ginnaye was paid big bucks to protect starlets and rich folks. Still was. Jai’s last job had been guarding a pop princess with a flagging career whose stalker had gotten out of control. Luca Bitar preferred to have jobs wrapped up quick so he’d given Jai permission to go directly after the stalker. Using a little Jinn enchantment, Jai had ripped the darkness from the creepy little guy that compelled him to obsess over women to the point he believed they were objects for him to do with as he pleased. It left the guy almost slavering in a hospital somewhere but it was the best Jai could do without killing him. This way no one innocent got hurt. Luca had been pleased with his son’s work. Not that he had said so but Jai had known because his father hadn’t criticized him in a week.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire