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  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Smokeless Fire (Page 7)     
  • Smokeless Fire(Fire Spirits #1)(7) by Samantha Young
  • “What about you, Ari?” Laurie asked. “Aren’t you scared heading off to Philadelphia all by yourself? I know it’s only a state away but the big city… kind of scary, no?”

    Shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up…

    “You’ll probably meet some really nice guys there. Do you know what classes you’re going to take yet? I’m still chewing over mine at the moment. Didn’t your dad go to Penn? He must be so proud. Maybe he can help you pick out classes. Are you getting a single room or do you want a roommate too?” Unable to take it any longer Ari slid back from the desk with a loud scrape of her chair. Laurie looked up at her wide-eyed. “You OK?”

    Trying to still the trembling in her hands, Ari nodded jerkily. “Just need the bathroom.”

    Grabbing the bathroom pass from the teacher, Ari ducked out into the school hallways, cold air from the a/c flooding her lungs and opening them up. She could actually feel the muscles unfurling with relief. Wanting some of the real stuff Ari took off towards the front entrance, pushing the heavy door open with a muffled ‘oomph’ and coming to an abrupt halt at the sight that greeted her. Out in the parking lot, in the bright sun, Charlie stood with a sophomore. Vivien Meyer. He was smiling at her in a way that caused an aching wave of salt water to crash over Ari, nipping her eyes, disorientating her, knocking her off her feet. It was the kind of smile a guy gave a girl he wanted to kiss. Vivien raised a joint to her mouth in full view of the school. She inhaled, and before she could exhale, Charlie pressed his lips to hers, kissing her deep, his hand clasping the back of her head. He drew back and blew out the smoke, the two of them laughing.

    It wasn’t the first time she’d seen Charlie making out with someone else. And just like every other time she’d witnessed it, it hurt like a mother effing bitch.

    The kiss settled in her stomach like a lump of solid stone, her day officially ruined. Ari trembled with fury, watching them head off across the lot towards the stoner’s spot. If it was the last thing she did before she left Ohio she would save that little tool from himself. Pissed off, she slammed back inside the school, marching towards her locker and ripping her bag out of it. She couldn’t bear to listen to Laurie’s college chatter and she couldn’t bear to be even 100 yards from Charlie. Screw it. She was ditching.

    As soon as Ari stepped outside the gates a feeling of relief flooded her. She glanced back at the school, bemused by the overwhelming sensation of disconnection. It seemed her mind had made the break from high school and was just waiting for the end of semester to catch up with her. Maybe she was terrified of the future… it didn’t mean she was clinging to the school. It was one part of her past that truly was history.

    The sun beat down on her back as she strolled homeward, the freedom of walking out of school brightening her day a little again as she deliberately avoided any thought of Charlie and the sophomore. So busy trying to forget what she’d seen Ari stepped forward to cross the street without looking. Strong hands came down on her shoulders at the same time a horn blasted. Hauled back onto the sidewalk by the hands, Ari watched, heart pounding, as a truck blew passed her.

    “Jesus Christ,” she cursed at the near miss, inhaling her rescuer’s delicious scent of sandalwood and dark spices. She turned to thank the hero, the words sticking in her throat at the sight of the empty sidewalk. There was no one there. The cologne she had smelled began to dissipate. Ari searched the space all around her. Nothing. She had not imagined those hands. If it weren’t for those hands she’d be splattered across the front of a truck.

    What the hell was going on?

    Another poltergeist?

    But she’d never felt Ms. Maggie. Ms. Maggie wasn’t a solid shape. This thing had been a solid shape. Fear rose in the back of her throat.

    “I’m going insane. I’m literally now going mental. I—”

    “Ari, what are you doing?”

    Spinning around, Ari’s eyes settled on Rachel, hanging out the driver’s side window of her car. “Rache?” she frowned.

    Rachel grinned at her. “I saw you ditching and decided it looked like fun and it’s not like we can really get in trouble now, right? Come on, get in. I’ve already text Staci and A.J. to ditch and meet us at your house. I thought we’d go to the store, buy some snacks.”

    Hanging out with her friends sounded wonderful to Ari. So relaxing. So normal. So real. No kissing dopeheads or invisible hands. Perfect. She grinned shakily and skipped over to the passenger side door.

    Ari struggled to open the jar of pickles. She slammed the edge of the top off her black granite kitchen counter, knowing her dad would have killed her for that if he had been there. She tried again. “Crap,” she groaned, shaking out her reddening hand.

    Rachel, who was leaning against the opposite counter munching on some Pringles , rolled her eyes. “Give it here.”

    “You’re, like, half the size of me, if I can’t get it, you can’t.”

    Her friend quirked a blond eyebrow. “I’ll have you know this tiny package is made of steel. Give it.”

    To her amazement the lid popped open in Rachel’s hands. Ari eyed her suspiciously, taking a pickle out. “Have you been taking steroids?”

    Again with the eye rolling. “Oh please, I leave the drug-taking to Charlie.”

    Ari glared at her.

    Rachel laughed sheepishly. “Sorry, cheap shot.”

    “Mmmhmm.”

    “Really, I am sorry. How are you anyway? You seemed so down yesterday.”

    Not wanting to get into it with her, Ari shrugged. “I’m fine.”

    Her friend exhaled wearily. “I’m not stupid, Ari. I know when something is up with you.”

    God, how Ari wished she could talk to Rachel about college and how much she was freaking out, but Rachel, despite being her current best friend, was the last person Ari could discuss it with. Rachel had wanted to be a doctor since her cousin died of leukemia when they were eight. That kind of determination and single-minded focus was a huge part of her personality. Unfortunately she tended to think that people that lacked focus were flakes and unworthy of her time.

    At her extended silence, Rachel grinned lasciviously. “I know what would help.”

    Ari grimaced. “What?”

    “You need to trade in your v-card.”

    Nearly choking on her pickle, Ari watched as a rice packet flew out of one of the open cupboards and whacked Rachel across the head. She burst out laughing as her friend’s eyes popped open in shock.

    “What the hell was that?”

    Ari chuckled. “That was Ms. Maggie defending my virtue, you tramp.”

    “Your frickin’ poltergeist?”

    “Yup.”

    “I thought you were kidding about that!”

    “No way!” A.J. suddenly loped into the kitchen grinning. “Ms. Maggie totally took me out last time I was here when I cracked a joke about women ‘in the kitchen and in the bedroom’.”

    “Good.” Staci strolled in at the back of him, Nick on her tail. Ari’s spirits dipped a little at the sight of Nick and she hoped her expression hadn’t said so when Staci explained, “Nick was in our class. We offered to rescue him.”

    “Of course.” Ari forced a smile. “The more the merrier.”

    He smiled back. “Thanks. I thought I was going to die of boredom back there.”

    Ari nodded, trying her best to fake relaxation. “Can I get anyone a drink?”

    “You got any beer?” A.J. asked, pulling the refrigerator open and taking out her dad’s beers before she could respond.

    They settled in her living room, eating and joking around as they took turns on the PlayStation 3 . And by took turns Ari meant while the boys hogged the controllers. Hanging out with Nick was a little uncomfortable, but being with the group made it easier and soon he and A.J. were so engrossed in video games there was nothing to be uncomfortable about. Ari laughed as Staci made fun of the look of concentration on her boyfriend’s face.

    “Oh God,” she mumbled to her girlfriends. “That’s his sex face.”

    The three of them burst into loud laughter drawing the guys’ attention.

    “Uh, what’s going on over there?” A.J. asked suddenly, looking worried.

    “Nothing,” Staci teased. She tried to sober at his suspicious expression and avoided his gaze by turning to Nick. “So, Nick, you excited about playing college basketball?”

    Just like that the conversation switched to college talk and for Ari the temperature in the room abruptly dropped. A cold sweat erupted across her skin and she excused herself, hurrying into the kitchen, thrusting open the window above the sink and gulping in huge wafts of fresh air. She stood in perfect peace for a couple of minutes before she felt the heat of someone’s gaze on her back. Craning her neck around, Ari’s eyes caught on Nick’s as he stood in the doorway.

    “You OK?” he asked, his light blue eyes alight with concern.

    She turned to face him as he walked further into the room. He lifted a hand, placing his empty beer bottle down on the counter. He had large hands. They reminded her of the invisible ones that had rescued her today from near death and another sheen of cold sweat broke out under her arms. “I’m fine,” she responded softly, clearing her throat as the last syllable came out a cracked whisper.

    He smiled shyly, this crazy cute smile that should have made her knees weak but didn’t. “You know we’re only going to be a state away when we go to college. Maybe I could visit you sometime.”

    Her heart fluttered in panic at the thought. “You’ll be way too busy to come visit me.”

    Nick shook his head adamantly. “Not possible.”

    Oh crap.

    “I—”

    “You looked beautiful at Prom, by the way,” he interrupted, grinning sweetly. “I never got a chance to say it to you that night.”

    Ari frowned. “Probably a good thing since you had a date, Nick.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire