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  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Smokeless Fire (Page 18)     
  • Smokeless Fire(Fire Spirits #1)(18) by Samantha Young
  • Ari gaped, her mouth wide open at his abrupt departure. Slowly, in a daze, she turned to lock eyes with Jai, still feeling the sensation of his mouth on hers. He was staring back at her calmly, his eyes blinking at the normal speed, his arms crossed over his chest as if he were waiting for her to make the next move. “He left.”

    Jai just looked at her blankly.

    “Great. He left me here in the middle of a life crisis with Mute Boy. What the hell am I supposed to do with you? You can’t be here 24/7.”

    Jai shrugged, not moving. “My job is to protect you.”

    She snorted. “So was kissing me protecting me?”

    He sighed, letting his arms fall away so he could lean on the back of the couch. “Look, it was just part of the job, OK. Get over it.”

    “Get over it?” Ari raised an eyebrow. “It’s just part of the job? Doesn’t that make you some kind of whor—”

    “Finish that sentence and I won’t be responsible for my actions,” he interrupted, his rough voice laden with ice.

    Washing her eyes over his bristling physique Ari had no doubt he could follow through on the threat and she tried to ignore the blossom of goosebumps on her arms. She shook her head inwardly. She wasn’t afraid of this guy. He was there to protect her. Buttons pushed, Ari cocked a hip, her hand planted firmly on it in a ‘don’t mess with me’ stance. “That would go against the job description wouldn’t it?”

    Jai strode around the couch and Ari eyed his movement warily as he came to a stop in front of her. “Look. We’re stuck together for who knows how long. So let’s lay down some ground rules.”

    “Rules?”

    “Rules. One: no calling each other names. It’s petty and irritating and I don’t have time for it.”

    “I feel like I’m in Kindergarten.”

    “That’s because you’re acting like you’re in Kindergarten.”

    “Hey, I’ve had a really tough day. OK.”

    Jai exhaled heavily and gave her a brittle nod. “That’s why I’m going to forgive the attitude.”

    Ari made a face. “What are you, like, forty?”

    She had to ignore the strange little puff of warmth that flared up in her chest as he looked adorably embarrassed at her teasing. “No. I’m twenty-three.”

    “You don’t act like you’re twenty-three.”

    “That’s because my job is a little more important than most twenty-three year olds’.”

    Guessing that was true, Ari made a gesture to tell him to continue.

    “Rule number two: no complaining about me being here. I’m here until my assignment is over so get used to it. And rule number three: no going anywhere without me. If I have to track you down using the mark I will be pissed off. I’ll be even more pissed off if I track you down only to find you dead. You dead equals me dead. Got it?”

    She studied his serious face for a moment, trying to figure out how she could possibly hide him from her dad, Charlie, and everyone. Well… not Charlie. She actually needed him for the Charlie situation, and she had every intention of dealing with the Charlie situation in the next ten minutes. Jai’s vivid (and beautiful, she admittedly grudgingly) eyes stared down at her without wavering, intense and grave, waiting for her agreement. When her eyes dipped to his mouth Ari flushed stupidly and she dropped her gaze to the ground. Her first kiss in months and it had been with Mr. No Personality.

    It was a hot kiss.

    “Was not,” she muttered.

    Jai frowned. “What?”

    “Uh nothing. I mean… OK, I agree to the rules. But you have to do something for me.”

    Before he could ask what in that growly voice while he glowered, the phone rang, jolting Ari back into reality. They both stared at it and Ari’s pulse leapt. It was weird… the phone ringing. It was the first normal thing that had happened to her since last night. No. Correction. Two nights ago.

    The answering machine clicked on and Ari’s heart promptly stopped when her dad’s voice echoed around the room. “Ari, where are you? Pick up if you’re there, goddammit.”

    Hearing the fear and concern in his voice, Ari jumped over the coffee table, catching her foot on it and falling onto the couch. She reached for the phone, knocking over a lamp as she grabbed it. “Dad?” she asked, trying not to sound out of breath.

    “Ari!” Derek cried, relief evident in that one word. “Oh Christ, where have you been?”

    Oh crap. What was she supposed to say? She glanced back over at Jai who was staring at her unhelpfully. “I uh… didn’t want to speak to anyone so I’ve just been holed up in the house.”

    “And you didn’t think to check the answering machine? I’ve left you a ton of messages. Charlie called me yesterday to tell me he couldn’t find you, that you weren’t in the house. I called the Sheriff’s Department and they sent someone over. Why didn’t you answer the door?”

    Oh double crap. Ari gaped around, looking for inspiration for a lie. “Uh… I wasn’t feeling well. I had my period.” She winced, disbelieving that that was the best she could come up with under pressure. She slanted a gaze at Jai and blushed when she realized he was struggling not to laugh and losing. Scowling, Ari pressed the phone tighter to her ear. “Why did you call the Sheriff’s Department?”

    Her dad made a choking sound on the other end of the phone and Ari braced herself for an explosion. She had to hold the phone away from her ear as he started screaming at her that he had been worried sick, that he was at the CVG Airport and would be home in about an hour to kill her. She hadn’t been able to get a word in and then he clicked his phone off. She didn’t think she’d ever heard her dad so mad before.

    “He’s pissed.” Jai relaxed casually into the armchair.

    Ari rolled her eyes at the inconvenience of him being here. “Oh, you think.”

    “Sarcasm is such unattractive quality in anyone but me.”

    She scoffed, ignoring the somewhat sexy quirk to his upper lip. He had the kind of mouth movie stars would kill for, full pouty lower lip that made a girl want to nibble on it. Ari squirmed, thinking of Charlie and how worried he must be about her to have called her dad. “I doubt anything is attractive in you other than maybe silence.”

    He quirked an eyebrow. “I can see this is going to be a pleasurable assignment.”

    “Yup. Sarcasm definitely not attractive in you.” Before he could reply, Ari stood up, hands trembling a little as she thought of facing her dad when he was in that mood. “Look, my dad is going to be here any second, so you have to… not be here.”

    Jai shrugged. “I’ll just step into the Cloak.”

    “The Cloak?”

    “The enchantment we use to be invisible.”

    The thought of him in the living room listening to her argument with her dad and her knowing he was there but her dad not knowing was too creepy. “No way. I’ve already had one Jinn floating around my home invisible, I’m not having another one.”

    “Well, what do you suggest?”

    “Uh… you leaving.”

    “Uh… not going to happen.”

    Exhausted and so not up to a fight, Ari threw up her hands. “Fine. You can stay. But you’ll hide in my room.”

    ~9~

    I’m Right Here. Where Are You?

    Jai grudgingly made his way upstairs to Ari’s room and she watched from the bottom of the stairs, her heart thumping in her chest. Ari’s whole body felt jittery and wired and it suddenly occurred to her that she must be running on pure adrenaline after everything that had happened, after all that had been revealed. Sure that Jai was safe upstairs, Ari made her way into the living room to wait for Derek. Her knee bounced up and down of its own accord and her teeth chattered together as she waited, her palms slick with cold sweat. Now that she had a moment alone all she could do was think about what had happened. Funny, it wasn’t really the whole supernatural element to the truth that was getting her. Maybe it was her genetic makeup but she had always dealt with stuff like that with ease. She thought of how easily she had taken to Ms. Maggie, how it never freaked her out to believe there was a friendly poltergeist living with her even though it freaked everyone else out, including her dad. No, what she was struggling with was the whole parent thing. It was bad enough that Derek wasn’t really her father but to know that her real father was such a… monster…

    And now she had to face a good man who had been duped into thinking that he had a familial obligation to her. Ari loved her dad. But she was suddenly terrified that he would no longer love her if he knew the truth. It wasn’t a stupid fear. He hadn’t exactly been there for her these last few years. He’d let her make her own way through her teen years and where had it gotten her? She was going to a college she didn’t want to go to. She had friends she couldn’t really talk to. And she was in love with a boy who didn’t want to be loved.

    But I’m going to fix that, she thought. That’s the one thing I can fix.

    To Ari, then, it wasn’t so irrational to believe that if Derek ever found out the truth he would walk away. Surely, all that had been keeping him from walking away entirely was his love for his ‘daughter’. If Ari took that away from him, would there be anything left? Trying to hold down the anger she felt at that thought, Ari sucked in a deep breath at the sound of a car pulling into the driveway. She twisted around in her seat, waiting for the sound of the key turning in the lock. The scrape of metal against metal seemed overly loud and Ari flinched as the door gave away from the latch.

    Derek Johnson stepped into his home, dropped his suitcase with a thud and slammed the door shut. Their eyes met across the room and Ari saw a war in her dad’s gaze: relief fighting with fury and disappointment. When he marched into the room and grabbed her up into his arms Ari felt the burn of tears in the back of her throat. She gripped her dad tight, inhaling his musky cologne and the smell of detergent on the lapel of his suit jacket. His lips brushed her forehead, his large hands clasping her head between them as he pulled back to look at her. “I’m going to kill you,” he whispered hoarsely.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire