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  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Smokeless Fire (Page 22)     
  • Smokeless Fire(Fire Spirits #1)(22) by Samantha Young
  • “Must be pretty cool working with your dad.” Ari smiled wistfully, wishing her dad would start talking to her. What kind of dad didn’t question a random Great Dane in his house?

    Instead of answering, Jai sat forward. “You know I could teach you things about the Jinn. That would pass time.”

    The smile slid off Ari’s face and she looked away from him. “I don’t want to learn anything about them.”

    “Ari, it’s my job to protect you. If I can teach you about different kinds of Jinn it could act as an early warning system if you ever encountered one.”

    “No.”

    “This is your heritage, Ari. Don’t you want to learn about your heritage?”

    “No!” she snapped, jolting out of the chair, sending it careening across the floor. “I don’t know who or what I am, OK. Before this I didn’t know and I still don’t know. But the one thing I did know was that I was Charlie’s friend. That’s the only thing I have. So, I don’t want to talk about the Jinn. I don’t. I’m just going to sit here and wait for my friend to remember that that’s all I have and call me.”

    Silence fell between them and Ari was certain Jai wasn’t going to comment.

    She was wrong.

    When he cleared his throat, she turned back to look at him expectantly. She was surprised to see he was angry. He shook his head at her. “You’re smarter than that. Don’t make out that who you are is dependent upon who you are to someone else. Being Charlie’s friend isn’t who you are. It’s a part of what makes you tick. But it’s not who you are. And sitting back on your ass while life happens to you… is that really who you are, Ari?” He tutted and grabbed his book up again, opening it to the placeholder. “I guess I was wrong about you.”

    “He’s right, you know,” a new voice entered the fray and Ari’s head shot up in surprise to see Charlie standing in her doorway. He looked worn out and unsure. He jerked a thumb over his shoulder. “Your dad let me in. I take it he doesn’t know about…” his eyes fell to Jai on the floor, Jai who kept reading his book as if nothing was going on, as if he hadn’t hurt her with his painful observations.

    Ignoring him, Ari turned to Charlie, letting her heart thump at the sight of him standing there. Of his own accord. Relief blossomed across her chest. “He does the Great Dane thing when dad’s around.” She smiled crookedly. “You’re here?”

    Eyes wide, Charlie nodded and stepped into the room, shutting the door carefully behind him. He heaved a sigh and turned around, leaning back against it. She saw a world of hurt in his eyes: trauma, shock, disbelief, relief, fury. Charlie had always felt so much and now she could see he was battling to control how overwhelming it all was. “I don’t blame you,” he whispered, those dark eyes searching her face for reassurance. “I’m sorry I made you think I blamed you I just… God… it was a lot, Ari.”

    Afraid to scare him off or do anything to make him change his mind, Ari took a tentative step towards him. “I know. I know. Believe me I know.” She stopped at the pile of ash made from the cushion Jai had burned and tipped her toe into the pile nervously, moving it around. “So… you took some time to think about everything… How do you feel? I mean… how are you?”

    Charlie shook his head. “Forget about me for a second. How are you?”

    Ari smiled tremulously. “Coping.”

    “I can’t believe all this is true. I mean I can because I saw it with my own two eyes but still… Jinn. Jinn are real. How freaking weird is that?”

    She laughed at such a natural response and nodded, grateful when he returned her smile with one of his own lopsided ones. “It is weird.”

    “So what are you going to do about it?” he asked, pushing up away from the door. Charlie glanced down at Jai who was still reading his book like they weren’t having this momentous conversation in front of him. “Are you going to learn, you know, to be Jinn?”

    Scowling at the thought Ari shook her head violently. “Hell no. No. No way, I want nothing to do with any of it. Once I have a couple things sorted out I am going to continue my very human life like none of this ever happened.”

    Charlie looked doubtful. “It’s not that easy, Ari.”

    “Yes it is. I mean I can’t right away but I will. The Red King refuses to drop the protection so I’m stuck with Jai until I can figure out how to get rid of him.”

    “Thanks,” Jai replied dryly without looking up from the book.

    Charlie frowned down at him, clearly mystified by him. “So… that’s it? No Jinn stuff… nothing?”

    His look of disappointment baffled Ari. She wanted to question him about his reaction but she was afraid of what’d he say, afraid it would spoil the tenuous thread they’d sewn in their torn friendship in the last few minutes. “No. Well… yeah. You remember I told you about Nick? How he’s possessed by one of the Jinn?”

    “Jesus.” Charlie’s eyes widened. “After everything… I guess that part I kind of forgot.”

    “Understandable under the circumstances. Jai and I are waiting for these Brotherhood guys—”

    “Aissawa,” Jai interjected before yawning.

    “Aissawa Brotherhood guys who specialize in exorcism.”

    Charlie’s eyes lit up, such animation on his face so old and forgotten Ari gaped at him stupidly for a moment. “You’re doing an exorcism?”

    “Yeah.” She nodded, so happy to see him awake. “Yeah we are. Once we figure out how to get Nick in a quiet, secluded place where we can, you know, depossess him.”

    Jai snorted. “Exorcise him.”

    “Whatever.” Ari rolled her eyes at him.

    “I want in,” Charlie said, glancing up and down between the two of them.

    “What do you mean you want in?” Jai lowered the book now, his rough voice all serious and antagonistic. Ari wanted to punch him.

    “Just that. I want to help.”

    “No wa—”

    “Of course you can,” Ari cut off Jai’s obnoxious shut down. Charlie was actually offering to do something that didn’t involve sex, drinking or drugs. There was no way she was leaving him out of this. “I’ll call you when it’s time.”

    He smiled at her. “Great. Look I have to go because Mom and I are you know… well… we’re actually talking so I said I’d be home for dinner…”

    Warmth spread through her and Ari grinned happily at the news. “Charlie, that’s great news, that’s—”

    “Yeah, yeah.” He stopped her, leaning down to press a kiss to her forehead. “We’ll talk soon, OK. Lots to discuss.” He winked at her and then turned, casting another puzzled and wary look at Jai before disappearing out of the door.

    When Ari finally stopped mooning at the doorway, she looked down at Jai only to find him glaring at her. “What?”

    “You invited Rehab to help with the exorcism?”

    “Don’t call him that.”

    “He’s not coming.”

    “This is my exorcism. I say who goes.”

    “You’re such a child,” he huffed.

    Ari guffawed. “Excuse me? I am not the one that just nicknamed someone suffering from substance abuse Rehab.”

    “Oh so you admit he has a problem.”

    “Had,” she argued. “Had being the operative word. I haven’t seen Charlie that sober or that animated about anything in two years. If coming along to a freaky Jinn exorcism keeps him that way then fine by me.”

    “Just be careful with him, OK. You don’t know what his agenda is.”

    “You know, Jai, some people don’t have agendas. Some people are just… friends.”

    “God, Ari,” he groaned.

    Surprised by the entreaty in her guardian’s voice, Ari spun about to look down at him, blinking in confusion at the begrudging smile he wore on his lips. She snorted. “What?”

    “You.” He thumped his head back against the wall wearily. “Your loyalty is exhausting.”

    Ari flushed at the backhanded compliment, ignoring the flutter of butterfly wings in her stomach. At the feel of them, she suddenly grew irritated and confused. She shook her head at Jai in disbelief. “I am going to the bathroom and you better not follow me.”

    “Child,” he muttered as she blew past him.

    Ari was surprised but pleased when Charlie called that night to talk. They hadn’t talked on the phone for a long time. He asked her to tell him more about her visit with The White King and as she recounted the terrifying tale, she really wished Jai would disappear so she could have some privacy. After a while the conversation puttered out a little and she realized it was going to take more than the revelation that ‘genies’ lived among them to repair the damage to their relationship. But the call had been a start, and when Ari hung up, she felt eager and hopeful.

    As she lay in bed in the dark, listening to Jai’s soft breathing as he slept, she wondered what his story was in all of this. She knew her own. She knew Charlie’s. She even knew Azazil’s and The White and Red King’s. She knew her dad’s. But what about Jai, who liked science fiction and one word sentences and black coffee? Who was this guy who was sharing her life? What life had he left behind? Surprised that he was beginning to take up so much of her thoughts, Ari rolled onto her side to look out the window. It was only natural. It was only natural to wonder about the guardian assigned to her.

    It was only natural, she promised herself and let the sound of Jai’s breathing slowly lull her to sleep.

    With his Jinn eyes Jai could make out every detail of Ari’s room as if the lights were still on. He waited, watching her, relaxing when she finally closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep. Waving his hand over the floor, he drew on his magic to conjure and began thinking about everything he thought was useful for Ari to know about the Jinn, about her heritage, about the truth, without overwhelming her or going directly against The Red King’s orders. He’d tried now for a number of days to get her interested in the Jinn but she was in denial. She thought if she buried her head in the sand about it, it would all go away.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire