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  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Smokeless Fire (Page 21)     
  • Smokeless Fire(Fire Spirits #1)(21) by Samantha Young
  • She nodded silently, stroking his cheek soothingly.

    He jerked back from her and Ari felt the loss of him like a knife cut to the heart. “You’re… Jinn? Jinn are real?”

    “Apparently so.” She locked her jaw, trying not to cry at the distance in his eyes.

    That distance suddenly burned bright with wrath. “And… that’s why Mike’s dead? It was what… what did you call it?”

    “A Labartu. They’re like some kind of Jinn that targets kids. She was the cyclist that ran you off the road. It wasn’t your fault, Charlie.”

    He gulped, trying to draw in air and Ari reached for him only to have him push her hand away. Heaving in rapid, jerky breaths, Charlie dropped his hands to his knees, tucking his head into his chest as he tried to collect himself.

    “Charlie,” she whispered desperately.

    “Ari.” She felt Jai’s hand on her arm, attempting to pull her back.

    Finally, Charlie straightened, his breathing still uneven, tears streaking his cheeks. When next he spoke, he didn’t even look at her. “Was it yours?”

    Ari shook her head in incomprehension. “What?”

    “Was it your fault?” he bit out.

    Feeling the rip in her chest lengthen and deepen, Ari’s eyes blurred with tears. “I don’t know.”

    Without another word, Charlie turned and strode out of the woods, leaving her there shivering in the aftermath of his silent blame.

    She was surprised when Jai remained quiet for a whole five minutes, letting her gulp back the tears and gather herself. Her head felt too hot and her ears were buzzing with disbelief. She could barely breathe, her chest hurt so much from the fear that she’d lost Charlie.

    Finally, though, Jai sighed at her back. “I know you’re worried about him but we have bigger problems.”

    Ari shook her head, unable to look at him. “You don’t understand.”

    “You think you’re in love with him.”

    “There’s no ‘think’ in that sentence.”

    When he didn’t respond, Ari turned around and gazed up at him, trying not to let the defeat shine in her eyes for him to see. For everyone to see. “I guess you’re right about the bigger problems though. So… how do we exorcise one of the Jinn?”

    He shrugged. “You got Yellow Pages?”

    “Seriously?”

    Jai snorted. “Yes, Ari. There are Aissawa Exorcists in the Yellow Pages.”

    Huffing, Ari walked away from him. “You really need to work on intonation when you use sarcasm. That way people will know when you’re being an a**hole.”

    “And you need to work on your gullibility.”

    “Well, I was under the impression you have no sense of humor so forgive me for believing everything you say.”

    “Well that should be fun.”

    “See!” she threw over her shoulder. “No intonation. Jeez, Jai, drop the monotone.”

    Stepping into stride beside her, he sighed as if he were dealing with an infant. “You were less annoying when I was invisible.”

    “I think that says more about you than me.” When she glanced up at him for a reaction Ari was surprised to see something spark in his eyes – like he was enjoying himself with her. The ache in her chest refused to ease but for a moment, as they shared a long look, she had to work hard not to give him a sad smile.

    Abruptly, Jai cleared his throat, shifting his gaze directly in front of him. “I take it you want an Aissawa Exorcist for your friend Nick?”

    “I would say yes if I knew what an Aissawa Exorcist was.”

    “The Aissawa Brotherhood are experts in exorcising homes, buildings, material goods and people that have been possessed by the Jinn. I’ll make a call.”

    After muttering a thank you Ari let silence fall between them, suddenly realizing that after years of being alone for much of the time, she was never going to have a moment’s peace from this guy for the indefinite future. Sure, Jai could turn into the Great Dane again so her dad was only questioning her about a mutt rather than a hot, older guy in jeans that did wonderful things to his ass, but where was he going to sleep? Did he intend to sleep in her room? With her?

    The heat of someone watching her brought Ari blinking out of her thoughts and she glanced up to see Jai looking at her out of the corner of his eye. “What?” she asked warily.

    He shook his head in disbelief. “Hamlet?

    PART TWO

    ~11~

    Let Me in to Your World, I Don’t Belong in Mine

    “Maybe you should stop calling him,” Jai offered without looking up from his copy of Earthborn by Orson Scott Card. He was lying on the floor in her bedroom, propped up against the wall, sitting on top of the sleeping bag he’d conjured since he refused to leave her side for more than five seconds. It had been a few days now and if Ari never had to see another copy of a Scott Card novel it wouldn’t be a bad thing.

    Ari threw her cell on her bed and glared at the Jinn who had taken up permanent residence in her life. True to The Red King’s word Jai lived like a human for the most part. He ate all her food and used up the hot water in her shower. Yes, he could magically conjure clean clothes but other than that he was like any houseguest. Well… you know when he wasn’t padding around on four legs as a Great Dane when Derek was about. As for her dad he still wasn’t speaking to Ari. Adamantly not speaking to her. So much so he’d looked at Jai in Great Dane form and not even said a word. He hadn’t even asked why there wasn’t any dog food, or bowl, or bed. He was that pissed off.

    He wasn’t the only one.

    Ever since Charlie had walked away from her in the woods she’d been calling and leaving him messages but he still hadn’t responded. She tried to fight her growing fear by irritating the life out of Jai but despite first impressions he wasn’t easily irritated. He didn’t answer any personal questions and every time she asked him when the Aissawa Brotherhood would arrive he would just say ‘soon’ and return to reading. As far as stalkers went, Ari guessed he wasn’t so bad, although the less he told her, the more curious she grew about him. Attempting to work out the mystery that was Jai was easier than attempting to work out all the relationships she’d messed up over the last few days. Not only was she in the bad books with her dad and Charlie but also with Rachel and Staci. They were furious at her for not providing a suitable reason for disappearing on them for two days. Rachel had yelled at her for fifteen minutes on the phone before hanging up. Thinking she might try to mend fences by contacting Staci she wasn’t surprised when her ten calls were ignored. Rachel had gotten to Staci before she could.

    Great.

    So now she was going stir crazy in a room with Jai, who only offered up an opinion on subject matters she had no wish to discuss with him. “Did I ask for your input?” she snapped.

    He sighed, casually turning the page of his book. “Nope. But as a guy I can tell you the whole desperate thing would just be pushing me further away.”

    Insulted, Ari threw a cushion at him only to watch it dissolve into ash before it even hit him. That was the second cushion he’d destroyed. Never mind it was her own fault for forgetting he was one of the damn Jinn. “I am not desperate,” she huffed.

    “Stop calling him then. Be patient. You’re either going to lose him or not.”

    “No.” She jumped off the bed, her heart crying out in outrage at the thought. “I have already lost my dad, my humanity, and my friends… I am not losing Charlie too.”

    Jai sighed again. “What is it about this kid?”

    Disgusted by his seeming callousness, Ari shot him a dirty look. “Don’t you have any friends, Jai?”

    She was surprised when he actually glanced up to meet her eyes. “One.”

    She stopped, frozen. “Yeah?” She smiled tentatively, amazed he had actually offered up something personal. “What’s he or she like?”

    Jai rolled his eyes. “He’s… a friend.”

    “Wow, you’re descriptive skills are outstanding. It must be all that reading you do.” When he ignored her teasing Ari blew out an impatient breath. “Oh come on, you tool. I’m bored. Tell me something. Tell me about your friend.”

    “We grew up together. He’s a friend. End of.”

    “You’re killing me.”

    “Yeah, well, you’re not exactly a day at the beach.”

    Deciding to ignore that, Ari flopped down at her computer desk and logged into her Twitter account. She scrolled through her friend’s tweets, her eyes narrowing at a certain comment.

    Sometimes friendships are a one-way system. Sad but true. A hard lesson I learned this week.

    “Bitch,” Ari hissed, clicking the unfollow button on Rachel’s profile. One guess as to who the little anal, straight-A, genie-hiring suckass was talking about.

    “Was that directed at me? Because if so, it was completely uncalled for,” Jai muttered, pressing the corner on the page he was reading down before he shut the book. He looked up at her. “You’re bored.”

    “And pissed off.”

    He nodded. “Me too.”

    She relaxed back on the chair, swiveling away from the laptop. “Yeah? What would you usually be doing now?” Ari knew it was a personal question but she was hoping he had reached the same level of boredom she had and would say or do anything to dispel it. Besides, there really was no arguing with it anymore. She was curious to know more about the hot guy who was sleeping on the floor at the end of her bed every night, making falling asleep incredibly difficult. He made her aware of everything. What she wore to her bed. If she snored… Oh god, she hoped she didn’t snore.

    Jai sat up, drawing his knees up to his chest. “Training. Working. The Ginnaye are disguised as major personal security companies around the world. My father is the head of an LA company.”

    “So you get paid to protect people?”

    He nodded, his expression careful, not giving anything away. “When the Jinn hire us we put them first, but we make our living by not only training humans to be security officers but sometimes also doing human security jobs ourselves. It’s quite lucrative.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire