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  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Smokeless Fire (Page 15)     
  • Smokeless Fire(Fire Spirits #1)(15) by Samantha Young
  • “Ifrit?”

    “A strong species of Jinn who has nearly all of our basic powers, including a gift specific to the individual. Sala’s gift was the power of seduction.”

    At the name, Ari’s heart seemed to unhitch itself from its rightful place and drop into her stomach, splashing up acidic bile that lodged at the back of her throat. “Sala?” she whispered, disbelieving.

    The White King studied her reaction, seeming interested but not overly moved by it. “Your mother. If I were to have a child I wished the child to be strong. Sala was the strongest and most desirable of my people at the time. She conceived you because I willed it.”

    Her face suddenly felt numb and she pressed the icy tips of her fingers to it, reassuring herself that she was still there, she was still her. But she wasn’t. She wasn’t Ari Johnson. She was…

    … she wasn’t even human.

    “I feel sick,” she mumbled, leaning into one of the bed posts.

    “I have never understood the human reaction of uploading bodily waste at news you find discomfiting.”

    Suddenly not caring that he was scary Ari jerked her head up, her eyes flashing angrily. “Discomfiting news? You not only tell me I’m not… that my dad isn’t my dad… but that I’m not even human and you think that that’s discomfiting? How about mind-effing-altering!”

    “I think you should calm yourself.”

    “I think you should go fu—”

    He held up a hand cutting her off. “I think you should calm yourself before you insult me and do something you may regret.”

    She gaped and then laughed bitterly. “Are you threatening me? Your own daughter?”

    “I am The White King.”

    That’s his answer? I am the White King? This guy was like a frickin’ robot! Ari shook. “You’re not my father. You can’t be.”

    “I am.” He cocked his head to the other side now and Ari shivered in revulsion. She remembered watching this sci-fi movie with Charlie where these aliens began bodysnatching people. They looked like the humans they’d stolen the bodies from (obviously) but their features and eyes lacked total expression and when something managed to arouse their interest they’d c*ck their heads to the side, studying it as if it were some kind of lab rat. That’s what this guy who claimed to be her father reminded her of. A sociopathic alien. “Sala and I argued during her pregnancy. To punish me she disappeared into the mortal realm and returned a month later. Alone. She told me she had hidden you from me to punish me. Ifrit’s are powerful and Sala’s powers of seduction are greater than any Jinn I have ever met but her use of enchantments are basic at best. The enchantment she used to keep you hidden with one of her mortal ex-lovers, Derek Johnson, began to wane after sixteen years. I could feel you but I couldn’t find you. It took me two years.”

    Ari gripped the bed post tighter, trying to digest this news. This truth?

    “If you were honest with yourself, child, you’d know that I speak the truth. From what I’ve seen you’ve been abandoned by the elders in your life. The people you care about have been abandoned by their elders. You feel disconnected to that world, Ari. You know you do. Your only connection is a troubled boy upon whom you cling to in desperation… like a life float.” He sat forward, his robes whispering against the glass of the throne. “You have come home, child. You have come home and I will not abandon you.”

    She searched his face, his words piercing her with their knife-like perceptiveness. Perhaps what he said was true. She and Charlie were all alone. They did only have each other. But that wasn’t the only reason she clung to him. And this Jinn? This king?

    His was the coldest promise she’d ever heard.

    He had a child to fulfill something within himself, not because he wanted to love the child. And her mother?? Her mother had told a lie to a man about her paternity, a good man whom Ari loved, and Sala had done this over some petty argument?

    Her parents were monsters.

    Her father had gone to all this trouble to get her here for nothing. Making her wish for her mother, making her—

    Making me wish for my mother.

    Confusion rippled through her and Ari let go of the bed post, standing shakily to her feet. “If I wished for my mother, why didn’t I appear before her?”

    The White King shrugged and sat back. His eyes flicked to the nightstand and for once they expressed emotion: boredom. “You did.”

    The sick feeling intensified and she gaped at the purple bottle that had drawn her attention when she first arrived. “No.” She shook her head. “That’s crazy. That’s like something out of Arabian Nights.”

    He blinked at her. “Where do you think the legends come from? Sala betrayed me; she incurred my wrath.” He spoke of wrath but there was no fire in his voice. It remained quiet and chilling. “She is lucky I didn’t strip her skin from her bones and hang her out for the Qaf vultures to feed upon.”

    Ari stumbled back in horror at his words. “Oh my God.”

    “You do not betray The White King and walk away unscathed. Sala was lashed for her crime and trapped within the bottle. She will remain there for however long I wish it. Perhaps another few centuries.”

    “You don’t even care.” Ari’s mouth trembled, the fear crawling up her spine again. “You’re a monster. You’re not my father. I’m not related to you, you’re a monster.”

    He stood up so swiftly Ari stumbled back against the bed. His tall figure towered over her, casting her in shadow and heat. “I am Jinn,” he replied quietly. “You would not be horrified by my actions if you had been reared within our realm, among your kind, as you should have been. As is your right.” He held out a cold hand for her. “Stay, Ari. You are a princess of the Jinn. I will not abandon you. Your father will not abandon you.”

    She bit her lip, terrified of the consequences of her response. But she wouldn’t stay here. She had a home to return to and two people she loved. And she needed to get back there so she could have a suitable mental breakdown without this psychotic legend watching her. “No. You may be my father but you’re not my dad. Send me home.”

    Gasping in surprise, Ari watched his black eyes light up like two flames. His body shimmered, shadows moving under his skin like black serpents fighting for freedom. “If you leave, child, you will regret it.”

    “You won’t hurt me.” She shook her head uncertainly.

    That smile, that horrifying non-smile returned to his face. “You leave me… and I will find a way.”

    “You said you can’t keep me here of my own free will. So send me back.”

    “You will regret it.”

    “Then let me regret it from the comfort of my home.”

    An explosion of noise bled her ears and Ari automatically threw her hands up to cover them, watching as the whole room went up in fire, including The White King. Flames danced around her, tasting her skin and yet leaving no burn. She heard the odd, disquieting sound of that strange humming noise he had made earlier, just before darkness descended across her eyes.

    ~8~

    One of Many Bullets

    Ari loved rollercoasters. She loved the feel of the wind rushing through her hair, slapping against her skin, making her eyes tear, making her feel more awake than anything had before. She loved the feeling of falling and rising and dipping and whirling through space, her stomach fluttering, her heart racing, her whole body free.

    Rollercoasters were fun because at the back of Ari’s mind she knew she was strapped into a tough metal car with very little chance of falling out of it.

    This was just like that.

    But without the car.

    Wind rushed into her eyes, battering so hard against her body it knocked the breath out of her and nearly blinded her. All she could make out was a rush of colors blurring together before being spat out of the wind tunnel, or whatever it was, onto a hard floor. She groaned, lifting her head off the ground, her cheek tingling with pain after the harsh impact. Feeling bruised and sore and emotionally destroyed, Ari pushed herself back onto her knees and took in her surroundings.

    She was home. In her bedroom.

    Relief rushed over her and she sighed, slumping on her butt, her back against the footboard of her bed. “You here, Ms. Maggie?”

    Nothing happened. No light switch turned on, no computer chair moved. Ari bit her lip, shaking her head. Great. Just when she needed the poltergeist the most, the damn spirit had taken off.

    “Perfect.” She coughed up some wind phlegm, feeling drained. Biting back burning tears, refusing to cry despite the life-changing insanity she was going through, Ari spoke out to the room as if Ms. Maggie was still there, “You would not believe where I’ve been.”

    The events of the past few hours flashed through her mind and Ari glanced down at her arm automatically as she remembered the creepy-ass Nisnas. Still wearing the jacket Rabir had given her Ari shuddered and began shrugging out of it. She threw it across the room, telling herself to remember to burn it later.

    “I found out who my real parents are,” she whispered sullenly. “You wouldn’t believe it. Then again, you’re a poltergeist so you might.” She laughed, not seeming able to stop. “Oh,” she tried to draw breath, her laughter slowly dying to choked tears. “I’d rather be crazy. I’d rather be crazy than this be real. My father sucks. Big time. And my mother… God… I wish you were here. In fact if I were wishing for things I would wish that Charlie was here but I—” Ari froze as she mentioned his name. Stumbling to her feet, she turned to stare at the empty bed. “Charlie?” Where was Charlie? He should be here. Oh crap, he must have woken up and seen her gone and—

    Wait.

    Ari strode over to the window, looking out over the day-lit sky. How could it be day when she had only been gone two hours tops? Heart pounding now, Ari spun around and dashed for her iPhone on her nightstand. It was dead.

    Super crap.

    Rummaging through her jewelry box, she pulled out the digital watch she hardly ever wore but was still set to the right date and time.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire