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  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Smokeless Fire (Page 23)     
  • Smokeless Fire(Fire Spirits #1)(23) by Samantha Young
  • But Jai didn’t want her to get hurt.

    Of course, he never wanted a client to get hurt. It was his job to make sure they didn’t. But… a 24/7 gig with this girl should be killing him. He should be going out of his mind with boredom.

    He wasn’t.

    He liked being around her.

    Not good.

    So instead of thinking about how unprofessional that was, he was going to do something to protect his client. From them all. From The Red King. The White King. From himself. Even from that little dick Charlie who looked oh so disappointed when Ari said she wasn’t going to be looking into the Jinn. He was suspicious about this guy. And not because Ari couldn’t see past her memories of a childhood sweetheart to the exceptionally messed up teen who walked in his shoes, but because if Jai had found out someone was responsible for murdering his kid brother he wouldn’t be accepting that so easily. So Jai’s question was… what did Charlie really want with Ari? And was it going to get her hurt?

    Jai felt his muscles tense at the thought and his blood grew even hotter. Glancing up at her again sleeping in the dark, he felt an ache in his chest, a feeling he’d never felt before. Angry at himself now, he concentrated back on the job at hand, pouring his magic into his creation for Ari.

    He was going to force Ari to discover her heritage. He was going to force her to be prepared so that when the time came she’d actually be able to handle herself.

    The next morning she was literally shaken awake. “What?” she groaned, prying her eyes open only to look up into the blurry face of Jai. “What is it?”

    “Wake up. The men from the Aissawa Brotherhood have arrived.”

    Jolting up at the news, Ari brushed back her tangled hair and gaped up at him. “Here? Now? What about my dad?”

    “Your dad left for the office early this morning. He never saw them.”

    “Well these Brotherhood guys can’t stay here.”

    Jai smirked. “That’s why you need to get up so we can get on with the exorcism.”

    “Right, right. I still have slumber brain. Give me a minute.”

    “Slumber brain,” he snorted, shaking his head at her.

    Too tired to be teased, Ari pushed him aside and stumbled out of bed. “I take it taking a shower would be out of the question?”

    “Not if you hurry.”

    “Great.”

    “Not a morning person huh?”

    Ari rolled her eyes. “Do you have to ask that every morning when you already know the answer?”

    “Yes. It’s fun.”

    She made a rude gesture at him as she pulled some clothes out of her wardrobe and he snorted in response. She was discovering it was really hard to offend him.

    “Oh, here.” Jai suddenly reached out, stopping her before she went into the bathroom. Ari shivered under the heat of his touch and jerked away. His face darkened and he grabbed one of her hands, flattening the palm out before slapping a worn leather-bound book into it.

    Making a face, Ari gripped the book with no title, tilting it at him. “What’s this?”

    When he crossed his arms over his chest and straightened up to his full height, Ari felt a tingle of warning. Uh oh. Whatever it was he meant business. “That… is a copy of a compilation of facts about the Jinn. Different races, different behaviors, different cultures, as well as some of our very important history, including stuff about the Seven Kings of Jinn and Azazil.”

    She thrust the book at him angrily. “I don’t want it.”

    Narrowing his eyes on her, Jai shoved the book back at her, lowering his voice to a growl. “Read it, Ari. Read it… or I will spend the next few weeks reading it out loud to you for every minute of every day.”

    “Why?”

    He frowned. “Why what?”

    “Why do you care if I know this stuff?”

    “Because…” he shook his head, as if searching for the right words. “It’s… it’s not easy not knowing who you are or where you belong. In the end you have to accept whatever you find out about yourself and make a place for you to belong to. But you can’t discover who you are, Ari Johnson, if you don’t accept what you are.” He tapped the top of the book. “This is a good place to start.” He threw her a cocky smile, rare and as deliciously warm as the sun after a day spent too long in the shade. “Knowledge is power.”

    Feeling things Ari couldn’t even name, things that made her breathless trapped in this air bubble with Jai, Ari couldn’t help but gaze back up at him a little dumbly. When he eventually took a step back, Ari flushed, feeling foolish for staring at him too long. “Thanks,” she replied quietly, holding the book close to her chest. “You’re right. I’ll read it.”

    “Good.” He nodded stiffly, back in his no nonsense guardian mode. “I’ll go keep the brothers company.” He stopped at the doorway and turned back with a little frown. “Do you have any pineapple juice?”

    “Pineapple juice?”

    He shrugged. “They want pineapple juice.”

    Ari snorted at the weird request. “No. I have OJ.”

    Jai shook his head. “Nah. I’ll just conjure some.”

    Marveling over how weird her life was now, Ari sighed. “You do that.”

    ~12~

    Rip Me Out and Maybe I’ll Be Different

    The Brotherhood was strange to say the least. They stood clustered together, ten Moroccan men from the city of Méknes, dusty and rumpled in their plain shirts and slacks. Somehow Ari had been expecting hooded robes and sinister moustaches. The Brothers regarded Jai with a mixture of awe and fear, and whatever ‘aura’ they got off Ari they refused to even look at her. Even when she was the one detailing the plan. The plan that so could not go wrong. After everyone agreed to the plan (well, the Brothers agreed once Jai reiterated it), including Charlie, Ari left the Brotherhood downstairs and went up to her bedroom to make the call. She was sure she would have to leave some long-winded, pleading voicemail that would beat the hell out of her pride, but to exorcise Nick she was up for it. It had occurred to her in all of this that poor Nick probably didn’t have a crush on her at all. The infatuation belonged to the creepy-ass Jinn that had taken over him.

    A whole year and a half of Nick’s life was gone and he wasn’t getting it back.

    She bit her lip praying Staci would pick up. Ari had to make this right. It was her fault. She had to make it right.

    “Hello?” Staci’s soft voice asked tentatively.

    “Staci,” Ari breathed in relief. “Wow, it’s so good to hear your voice.” She was surprised by how true that was.

    “I’m sorry, Ari. I shouldn’t have ignored you like that. I was just… overwhelmed by Rachel. She’s pretty mad at you. You know she hooked up with that teaching assistant she’s been drooling over for the last few months. She was mad about other stuff I guess but also because you weren’t there to talk to about the TA.”

    Ari felt a twinge of guilt and tried to shake it off. “That’s great for her. But she won’t take my calls so…” there was an awkward silence and Ari cursed inwardly. This wasn’t going to plan. “Um… you know that’s not why I called. I just wanted to say sorry, once again. And… also to ask you for a favor.”

    “A favor?”

    “Well… after everything that happened with Charlie at the party I decided that Rache is right and I need to move on. I had a good time with Nick that night but I’m still a little… a little nervous, I guess. So I was thinking maybe you, me, A.J. and Nick could go on a double date later this afternoon. Go to the movies. It’ll be fun.”

    “Really?”

    Ari’s heart leapt triumphantly at the excitement in Staci’s voice. “Yeah. I mean if it’s not too late notice.”

    “No, no. Me and A.J. were going to hang out anyway. Look I’ll call him and get him to call Nick and then I’ll call you right back!”

    She smiled. “Sounds perfect.”

    “Oh, Ari, I’m so happy you’re doing this. It’s going to be so much fun. I’ll call right back.”

    The line went dead and Ari drew her shoulders up.

    This was going to be anything but fun.

    A.J. and Nick rode up front, arguing over which radio station to tune into and cracking stupid jokes. Every now and then Nick would look in the rear mirror and smile at her and Ari would have to force a warm smile back while in her head she was thinking ‘creepy jerk Jinn stealing my friend’s body, I’m going to rip you out of there, you toad!’.

    “I hope you don’t mind but I told Rache we were doing this,” Staci said quietly from beside her, drawing Ari’s attention away from her possessed friend. She tried to concentrate on what Staci was saying but she was distracted. Had there had been any notable differences in Nick’s behavior over the last eighteen months? It was hard to tell for her because they’d only really gotten to know one another in that time. Crap.

    Wait. What is Staci saying?

    “Rachel?” Ari frowned.

    “Yeah.” Staci smiled pleadingly. “I think if you call her again she’ll be more amenable to a discussion. She sounded kind of excited that you were going out with us today.”

    Ari grunted. “She wrote on Twitter that I treat our friendship like a one-way street.”

    “Oh.” Staci batted the words away with her hand. “She was just upset. She didn’t mean it.”

    Guessing now was not the greatest time to alienate her friends, Ari nodded. “You’re right. I’ll call her, smooth things over.”

    “Good. It’s silly to fight over something so silly.”

    Grinning, Ari shook her head at her friend. Staci was the kind of old-fashioned sweet that made you smile no matter what mood you were in.

    They pulled into the parking lot at the movies and Nick got out real quick so he could open Ari’s door. The smile she gave him was almost feral and he frowned a little, seeming puzzled.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire