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  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Smokeless Fire (Page 16)     
  • Smokeless Fire(Fire Spirits #1)(16) by Samantha Young
  • The numbers blinked up at her, taunting and teasing, so much so Ari could have sworn they were lying. The watch fell from her hands and she gasped for breath, shaking now from head to toe. It was too much. It was all too much. “I’ve been gone two days? Two whole days.” Ari’s fake calm flew out of the window. If she hadn’t been convinced that everything was real before, the two days lost on Mount Qaf certainly cemented the truth.

    “Holy macaroons. I’m Jinn,” she breathed, staring at her apparently magical hands.

    A loud thud sounded from downstairs and Ari tensed, her fingers automatically curling into fists. She tried to slow her heart by reminding herself that it could be Charlie. When another thud sounded, however, she was also reminded by her father’s threat that she would regret leaving him.

    Not your father! she winced, mentally slapping herself. The White King.

    Fed up of being scared out of her wits, Ari quietly delved through her closet until she found the baseball bat she kept there from her days in Little League with Charlie. Clutching it firmly between both hands, Ari stealthily made her way out into the hall, ignoring the pounding behind her ribcage and the rushing whoosh of blood waves in her ears. She strained to hear as she tip-toed downstairs. She couldn’t call out for Charlie in case it wasn’t Charlie so she knew she better keep her reflexes tight in case it was Charlie and she swung a bat at him. It took her less than five minutes to scope out the ground floor and Ari couldn’t find anyone or anything that could have been the cause of the thud. Deciding it must have been Ms. Maggie, Ari dropped the bat on her living room couch and stood facing the window, trying to find calm in the neat, peaceful neighborhood that had no idea that Middle Eastern legends were true — that living next door to them was one of the Jinn; a Jinn who was a child of a monster and a tramp. Was that what she was? Was that what she had been looking for all this time? She bit down on her lip so hard — trying to hold in the tears of despair — she drew blood.

    “You know there was an Ifrit living in your house, right?”

    Letting out a startled cry, Ari spun around to find two men standing in the doorway of her living room. No. Not men. Ari took in the one closest to her with abject dread. If it was possible he stood even taller than The White King, and there was a familiarity in the cut of his features that made her stomach flip. However, instead of bleak black eyes and a shiny bald head, this guy had bright blue eyes, brown skin tinged with a slight reddish hue, and long flame-red hair tied back in a ponytail at the back of his neck. The tip of the ponytail swung at his lower back as he took a step closer to her. Ari stumbled back, not fooled by the jeans and t-shirt he wore. He was Jinn.

    She just wanted them to leave her the hell alone. Why couldn’t they do that? What did they want from her? “What are you?” was all she managed.

    He smiled at her, a genuine, beautiful smile that wiped any similarity to The White King from his face. “I’m your uncle,” his deep voice boomed around the room. He didn’t speak with that careful, old-fashioned correctness The White King had. He spoke like her. Like a modern American.

    Ari shivered and glanced around for some kind of weapon since her baseball bat was too far away from her now. “I told The White King to leave me alone.”

    His eyes dimmed. “Oh I’m not here for your father. The opposite in fact. I’m The Red King. You may call me ‘Uncle’ if you wish.”

    She frowned. “I don’t think so. What do you want?” She glanced warily over The Red King’s shoulder at the guy standing in the doorway. Something about him made her pause. When his eyes glittered back at her from the shadows, Ari felt his gaze on her with a jolt, like sun peering through the crack in a curtain, waking one with burning eyes and a groan. It wasn’t unpleasant, but it was unexpected and intense. She eyed him back guardedly before shifting her gaze back to the enigmatic red-head before her. “I’ve had my fill of Jinn for the day. And not the good gin that my dad has locked in his liquor cabinet. The creepy Jinn that took a bite out of my arm and destroyed everything I’ve ever known.”

    “Yeah.” The Red King heaved a sigh, sitting down on the couch. “Sounds like big bro.”

    Ari raised an eyebrow at how casual and relaxed he was. “What are you doing here?”

    “The Sultan sent me.”

    Her eyes widened. “Azazil?”

    The Red King took a step forward, his features suddenly taut with expectancy. “How much did bro tell you?”

    “Bro?”

    “The White King.”

    “Oh you mean the asshat who ripped me from my bed and coldly told me he was my real father and that I’m Jinn?”

    “Asshat. I like that.” He grinned and then promptly wiped the smile off his face when he noted she wasn’t smiling with him. “Yeah, that guy.”

    Ari gulped. “Just that. That my mother hid me with my dad, with Derek, and that The White King couldn’t find me because of some enchantment she put over me, hiding me from him. He said it wore off when I was sixteen.”

    She waited, somehow hoping that information would be enough to make him leave.

    “It did.” The Red King nodded eagerly. “Azazil had me searching to find you before The White King could get to you. Unfortunately my psychotic brother got to you just as we did. Well… I might have been able to stop him if someone had told me about Rabir a little sooner.” He threw a dirty, pointed look over his shoulder at the guy in the doorway, and the said guy took a step forward into the light.

    “Hey,” the guy snapped. “If you had told me what the hell she really was,” he jerked a hand in her direction, “I would have gone directly to you rather than to my father.”

    “Have you forgotten who you’re speaking to, kid?” The Red King’s voice purred threateningly, suddenly reminding her of The White King.

    The guy, who Ari now noticed was younger than she’d first thought, stiffened. She noted, however, that he didn’t look frightened by The Red King, merely annoyed, and somehow that reassured her. Instead he nodded tightly, the strong line of his jaw clenching. “Apologies, Your Highness.”

    He sounds way less than apologetic, Ari thought.

    The Red King’s eyes flashed and he turned back to her. “I like this kid.” He jerked a thumb over his shoulder at the young guy. “He’s got fire.” He grinned and winked. “Get it?”

    Ari almost rolled her eyes, amazed that this weird bizarr-o world was really her life now and that in just a few hours she’d reached a point she didn’t even blink when someone introduced themselves as ‘The Red King’. “He’s Jinn too I take it?” She ran her eyes over the young guy who appeared to be in his early twenties. She noted his ‘normal’ height at a couple of inches above six feet. He was strong looking, however, broad-shouldered and fit. Like The Red King he wore black jeans and a plain white t-shirt, his olive skin formed over tightly roped muscle.

    “He is,” The Red King replied. “This is Jai. Jai is one of the races of Jinn who live as humans. He is also a highly trained member of the Ginnaye.”

    Jai nodded at her, all serious and growly, and she found she couldn’t quite take her eyes from him. He smirked at her. “You need to watch where you’re looking when you cross the street.”

    “Excuse me?”

    “Corner of West and Frederick? The truck.”

    Holy macaroons! “You!” she cried, her eyes wide with disbelief. “You were the invisible hands that pulled me back?”

    “You’re welcome.”

    “What?” she squeaked, anger bubbling dangerously in her blood. “I’m welcome? You made me think I was being stalked by some crazy poltergeist!”

    “Just doing my job.”

    Ari looked to The Red King and she suddenly realized she was staring at him as if she were waiting for him to come to her defense. Irritated at herself now, she threw a disgusted gesture in Jai’s direction. “What is he? Why has he been following me? Or should I say, Invisible stalking me?”

    “As I said, Jai is one of the Ginnaye’s youngest and most promising members.”

    She glared at Jai. “The who?”

    “The Ginnaye,” Jai answered in his rough voice. “Protectors. Guardians. We’re high-paid security for Importants.”

    Eyes narrowed, Ari slowly sat down in the armchair that faced The Red King. “You hired someone to protect me because you consider me an Important?”

    “I see my brother at least filled you in on Importants.”

    “I’m not an Important. I’m…” she gulped, hating to admit it. “Apparently, I’m Jinn.”

    “Well I just—” Jai’s eyes glittered dangerously at The Red King as he held up a hand to silence the guardian.

    Ari glanced warily between the two of them. “You just what?”

    The two Jinn continued to stare at each other in strained silence until finally Jai lifted his head and pinned her to the wall with a strange and intense look that sent a shiver rippling down her spine. “I just found that out. I thought you were human.”

    “OK. Um…” she watched them both for a moment, trying to work out her next move.

    But she was just so tired.

    Deciding she couldn’t find anything remotely hostile or cruel about The Red King (upfront anyway), Ari leaned in towards him. “Just tell me why you’re here? Please.”

    He sighed, clasping his large hands together in front of him. The White King had been so alien, so strange, apathetic and sinister in his emotionlessness. His brother was the opposite. If it weren’t for his beautiful but strange skin and long flowing red hair, he’d almost pass for an ordinary guy. “Azazil has asked me to protect you. That’s why I’ve hired Jai. Your father, Ari, may become persistent in his goal to retrieve you.”

    “But why?”

    “My brother, did he tell you anything of the Seven Kings and Azazil?”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire