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  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Smokeless Fire (Page 28)     
  • Smokeless Fire(Fire Spirits #1)(28) by Samantha Young
  • Despite her anger, Ari was terrified her dad was never going to forgive her. She needed him to forgive her. “I am so sorry,” she choked out. “I am so sorry. I don’t know what else…”

    Seeing her fumble, Derek reached out and squeezed her shoulder and she leaned into his touch. “I know. I know, kid. I said I was disappointed. I didn’t say I didn’t still love you. Of course I still love you.”

    The tightness in her throat eased. “I love you too.”

    “But.” He grew all stern again. “I think we really need to discuss Penn. I still think it’s your best option at this point.” Before she could feel any more deflated he went on, “Now I’m leaving tonight, I’ve got a plane to Boston to catch. I’ve got a big meeting with a few of the partners of a medical center out there, so we can’t talk now. I’m going out to the office to get a few things and I’ll be driving directly to the airport and I won’t be back for a few days… but when I get back you and I are having a discussion. Including about him.” He pointed at Jai. “Damn, that is a big dog, Ari.”

    “He was a birthday gift. From Charlie.”

    “Yeah, well… I’m not crazy about the idea but if it has to be a dog at least he looks like a real dog and not one of those yappy things girls put in their purses these days.”

    Ari grunted.

    “And I like the name.” His smile warmed her right through and she found herself tugging on his arm like she did when she was little.

    “Do you really need to go, Dad?”

    “Don’t start, Ari.” He shook his head impatiently. “On that note, when I get back we’re also going to talk about some of the things you said.”

    Nodding numbly now she couldn’t even muster a smile when he kissed her on the cheek. She watched, an ache in her chest, as he grabbed the small suitcase she hadn’t seen placed by the door and shrugged on his coat.

    “See you in a few days.”

    “Bye, Dad,” she whispered.

    The door had slammed shut behind him five minutes ago and Ari was still staring at it in a pained daze. Finally she heard the hiss of flames beside her, the heat licking her skin and bringing her back around. She turned to stare up at Jai, his beautiful eyes capturing hers. The green of them was broken up by bright gold striations that made them glitter in the light. She had always considered her eyes to be her best feature — they were pretty unique. But Jai’s… Jai’s eyes made you want to dive deep into them.

    He crossed his arms over his chest, a deep frown gathered between his eyebrows. “You OK?”

    Ari gave a little humorless laugh, moving into the living room where she collapsed on the armchair that was still warm from her dad’s body. Jai followed her, his gaze never leaving her, and she realized how comforted she was by his presence. She flushed, looking down so he couldn’t catch the thought in her eyes. He sat down on the couch across from her, and after a few minutes of him waiting patiently Ari finally looked back over at him. “Do you get along with your dad, Jai?”

    Not really expecting an answer since so far Jai didn’t do the whole personal question thing, Ari was surprised to hear him snort. It was a bitter sound. “My dad’s name is Luca Bitar. In the world of Jinn and the world of Security he’s known as a top gun. He’s the head of Bitar Security in Los Angeles. He’s successful, respected. He’s married to Nicki Byrne Bitar, a born and bred female member of the Irish Ginnaye. They met when they were really young when my dad was on assignment in Ireland, they fell madly in love. They have three sons together. Two older than me, one younger. Some would say they had it all… but…”

    Ari was leaning forward now, eager to learn all she could about him. This was the most he’d ever said in one sitting. “But?” she prompted quietly.

    His eyes found hers again and he offered a bitter smile that made him look harder, older. “My mother came along. I never met her but I’ve heard all about the damage she did. I’ve… been reminded of it every day of my life. The Red King told you she was a succubus Jinn — called a Lilif — which is true. She was one of the bad ones, Ari. When she seduces a human she takes a huge part of their life force from them. It’s what she feeds on. But when she seduces Jinn it’s a little different. She made Luca think he loved her and she seduced him against his will. In doing so she placed on him, for lack of a better word, an imprint. He knew afterwards he didn’t love her but it was as if she had taken a part of him anyway. He couldn’t love Nicki the same way he had before. And they both knew it. Nicki tries not to blame Luca. When my mom turned up pregnant with me and left me on their doorstep, she just blamed me instead. So did Luca. And my half-brothers. The worst is Luca though. He pretty much hates my guts.” He laughed, an unhappy sound that ripped at Ari. She wanted to reach for him. Take his hand. Do something to comfort this man who had come so suddenly into her life, pretending to be some untouchable, uncaring being when there was clearly so much more to him than that. And that he was sharing stuff so personal with her made her feel… privileged. “So… I guess the answer is no. I don’t get along with my dad.” He leaned forward now too, their gazes fused. His drifted for a moment over her face and, Ari didn’t know if it was wishful thinking or not, but she could have sworn his eyes softened a little. “I know what it’s like to be disappointed in the man who is supposed to be your father. Supposed to take care of you and support you. I know what it’s like to watch him turn his back on you too many times to count and leave you standing in the dust.”

    “How does that make you feel?” she whispered, her eyes straying to the window to look out on the empty driveway.

    Jai made a huffing noise that drew her attention. He was sitting back again, his cynical little smirk firmly back in place. “How does it make you feel?”

    A sensation, a warm tension, a bubble of understanding, drew around them, closing them in together, their breaths seeming to match one for the other. She didn’t answer. Because she didn’t need to. Somehow, in all of this, Jai Bitar of the Ginnaye, one of the Jinn whom she wished to be nothing like, got her. She smiled shyly, dropping her gaze, trying not to think about the hot kiss he’d placed on her to trace her movements. Jai got her. And just then… just then she didn’t feel so lonely anymore.

    ~15~

    How Can I Lean on You When You’re Lying Down?

    The dramatic (and somewhat cheesy) opening credit music of CSI enveloped the living room and Ari snuck another peek at Jai. He was slouched on one of the armchairs, his book under a lamp. He’d read all of his Orson Scott Card novels and had been looking for another sci-fi to conjure. Ari had given him Oryx & Crake by Margaret Atwood from her bookshelf instead. He’d been a little skeptical and a little sexist because it was sci-fi written by a woman (oh the horror!) but since his head hadn’t lifted from the pages since he’d started reading it after dinner, Ari could only assume he was enjoying it. She drew her legs up onto the couch, curling them under her and attempting to concentrate on the television, but it was difficult with Jai sitting there… looking like that. Ari held in a huff of annoyance, wishing they could go back a few days. Yeah sure she’d thought he was attractive (she had eyes after all) but until today he’d just been this slightly annoying, hot, older guy she enjoyed trading insults with. OK, a slightly annoying older guy she enjoyed trading insults with and who also happened to intrigue her. A little. Now, not only was he hot, but he had shared himself with her. He had a story. A story she wanted to know more of. Needed to know more of. Crap.

    In an attempt to shrug off whatever it was Jai made her feel, Ari had called Charlie, but his cell went straight to voicemail. She wondered if he and his mom were spending some more quality time together. God she hoped so. Still, it would have been nice to talk to him, tell him about her dad. About ‘the big talk’ Derek had planned, the one in which she was pretty sure he was going to bully her into going to Penn. She knew she should stand her ground but… it would be easier to let her dad have his own way. She didn’t want to disappoint him. Again.

    Without meaning to Ari’s eyes drifted over to Jai. She was surprised he had told her that stuff about his family. He’d let down his guard and let her in so she wouldn’t feel so alone in this thing with her dad. It was incredibly sweet of him. Settling her chin on her hand her eyes followed the way the light cast over his face. When Jai was talking to someone his whole face was tight, his jaw flexed a lot, and his eyes glinted like sharp cuts of emerald. But when he was reading he was more relaxed, his eyelashes long, casting shadows on the crest of his cheeks. He turned a page and Ari followed the lines of his large strong hands. They were nice hands, masculine and rough, but somehow graceful. The tendons on his muscled forearm twitched as he moved and Ari felt something in her lower belly tug, her heart picking up speed as her eyes feasted on him. Flushing at her wayward thoughts, reprimanding herself for being disloyal to Charlie (and yeah she was aware they weren’t actually a couple), Ari wanted to tear herself away. But she couldn’t. Jai had crawled in somehow and now she wanted to know more.

    “So what The Red King said? You live a completely human life?”

    Jai jerked his head up at her soft question, his brows furrowed together as he processed it. He cricked his neck, looking over at her. “What?”

    “What he said… you live a completely human life?”

    Frowning he pulled himself up into a sitting position so he could look at her without craning his neck. “Uh… yeah. The Ginnaye are among the Jinn who live a mortal lifespan… although… well...” he rubbed the back of his neck, seeming uncomfortable. “…with my mother’s blood I don’t know what that means for my lifespan.”

    “Your mother is immortal?” Ari’s eyes widened.

    Jai made a face and put the book down on the coffee table. “Ari, didn’t you read the book I gave you?”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire