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  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Smokeless Fire (Page 29)     
  • Smokeless Fire(Fire Spirits #1)(29) by Samantha Young
  • “Yeah. It was surprisingly interesting. Despite the revulsion I felt reading about my so-called father, I’m glad I read it. You were right. I needed to know this stuff. I especially found the whole Seal of Solomon thing fascinating.”

    His gaze sharpened on her. “Really? Why?”

    She shrugged. “I don’t know I just did.”

    “Interesting.”

    “Why—”

    Jai cut her off before she could question that little murmured adjective, “The only immortal Jinn are Azazil and his sons. And Asmodeus for some reason that we can’t fathom.”

    “Yeah, but there are Jinn who live a long time?”

    “Yes.”

    “How old was your mom?”

    Jai’s eyes narrowed, his features tightening, and Ari immediately regretted the question. “I don’t know. But her kind have been known to live for hundreds of years.”

    “OK. So beside the possible extended lifetime, you live a normal human life? You what… you have an apartment in L.A.? A life? A car? A girlfriend?” she threw in.

    “Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. No.”

    Ari grunted. “We’re back to one word answers?”

    “Yes.”

    “Seriously?”

    He exhaled wearily, his head dropping in a groan. “Ari—”

    The phone rang beside her, cutting him off. Throwing him a grumpy look, Ari reached for it, hoping it was Charlie. As the voice on the other end explained who they were and why they were calling, Ari felt the room tilt a little as she forgot to breathe.

    “I’ll be right there,” she replied hoarsely and dropped the phone without hanging up.

    Jai’s concerned face suddenly hovered above hers. “Ari, you OK? What’s happened?”

    Ari blinked, feeling nauseous. The sounds of sirens on the television made her head pound and the flicker of blue across the living room walls from the picture disorientated her. As if he had read her mind, Jai reached across for the remote and shut the television off.

    “Ari?”

    “It’s my dad,” she told him, standing up on shaky legs. She fumbled for her iPhone, looking around for her shoes and keys. “He collapsed at the office. He’s in the hospital.”

    Jai cursed, snatching her keys up from the windowsill. “I’ll drive.”

    In the car, Ari called Charlie and was thankful that this time he picked up. He promised to meet her at the hospital and she felt better just hearing his voice. As Jai drove them through town, Ari tried not to hyperventilate. They just said he’d collapsed. Was it a heart attack? A stroke? A really bad flu virus? As her mind wandered into the morbid, she started berating herself for the way she’d acted over the last few days. She’d blamed her dad for her real father’s crimes and that was completely unfair. What if something really terrible had happened to Derek and the last thing she remembered him saying to her was how disappointed he was in her? That could not be their last conversation.

    She was jolted out of her dark thoughts by the rough and hot touch of Jai’s hand as he reached over and thread his fingers through hers, squeezing her hand comfortingly. “Stop,” he said quietly, glancing at her quickly. “Stop beating yourself up.”

    Looking down at his large hand in hers, Ari squeezed it back. It was so surreal. “Can you read my mind or something?”

    “No. I just know what you’re thinking.”

    “How?”

    He smiled sadly, an expression she wasn’t used to seeing on him. It tugged at something in her chest and she gripped his hand even harder. She felt warm, safe even, as his fingers flexed, tightening his hold on her too. “Spending 24/7 with someone tends to give you some insight into their thought process. He’s going to be alright, Ari. He’ll be alright and you and he can sort out all of your problems.”

    God she hoped so.

    Any hope Jai had given her evaporated when the doctor led them to her dad’s room in the ICU.

    Derek had fallen into a coma and the doctors so far couldn’t determine what had caused it. They were doing a number of tests but for now he was stable.

    That was it?

    Ari had felt like screaming, the pale blue room tilting to the right like a canted camera angle as Jai led her into her dad’s room. Derek was a tall man, but lying there in that cold, white bed, he had seemed smaller somehow. His skin was a horrible ashen grey color, and the dark circles under his eyes were purplish and unreal. The skin on his arms seemed papery and translucent, even his hair looked thinner and lank. A sob caught in the back of Ari’s throat as the doctor left them alone. She grabbed for her dad’s hand, hoping that would magically awaken him. It didn’t. His touch felt cold and empty. Ari had never believed in auras but standing there looking down on him it was as if she could feel him dying. There was no vibrancy, no life pulsing around him and she gasped, feeling as if the wind had been knocked out of her. She gulped for air, tucking her head into her chest, ignoring Jai’s comforting hand on her back, his hoarse voice telling her to breathe.

    “Where is he?” she whispered. “He’s not in there, Jai. What’s going on?”

    “Ari… this is… this is Jinn enchantment.”

    “What?” she gaped up at him.

    He nodded grimly. “Jinn have done this to him.”

    The door of the hospital room squeaked open and Ari looked over her shoulder sharply. Charlie strode in, his hair askew, his face pale. “What kind of Jinn?” he asked fiercely, looking from her to her dad on the bed.

    Her heart thudded in her chest at the sight of him, so glad to see him, so grateful to him for coming when she knew he hated hospitals. He hated the walls and the smell and the squeak of linoleum under foot. All because of Mike. Without thinking, Ari flew at him, throwing her arms around his waist and crushing herself against him. His strong arms came around her, holding her fast, his lips in her hair. Wanting to immerse herself in him, Ari inhaled a lungful of him and then promptly pulled back frowning. He smelled like a bar.

    Ari tried not to grimace as she stared up into Charlie’s bloodshot eyes. “Thanks for coming. Where were you?”

    Charlie’s eyes cast about as if he couldn’t meet her gaze. “I was hanging with Rickman.”

    Bitter shock jarred her and she stumbled back a little from him. He was still messing around and getting wasted with Mel? She shook her head, dazed, not able to deal with her disappointment. It was too much all at once.

    God, how naïve she’d been to think that Charlie could change overnight.

    Her pride was bitten as her face crumpled. “Thanks for coming,” she whispered, fighting hard not to cry as she pulled away from him, leaning on her dad’s bed, her hand wrapping around his white blanketed foot. “This isn’t happening.”

    “Ari,” there was a world of regret in Charlie’s voice and she watched from the corner of her eye as he reached out for her. Something stopped him, however. Perhaps the brittle tension in her body. “Ari, I’m sorry about your dad. What can I do?”

    Apparently nothing. She shook her head at him and shot a look at Jai. “What kind of Jinn would do this?” Strangely, at this moment, he seemed like the only one she could rely on.

    “I don’t know. There are many Jinn capable of causing physical illness in humans, physical illness that no modern medicine can cure.”

    Trying not to fall into a panic attack, Ari whirled on him, finding it difficult to look at her dad’s face and wishing like hell that Charlie hadn’t disappointed her once again, that all she had to worry about was getting her dad well again. But no. Now she was back to worrying about Charlie too, like she had been for the last two years. She shook him off, trying to project the anger she felt. “What do you mean there’s no cure?”

    Jai’s eyes glittered as he looked over her shoulder, his face tight with determination. “We could try Tellicherry Bark. It’s usually the only thing that brings a human back from Jinn poison.”

    “OK.” Ari nodded, breathing too fast. “Good. OK. Where do we get it?”

    “It’s hard to come by but my tribe should have some.”

    “Then go get it.”

    His eyes returned to her face, washing over her features. There was sternness in them where only moments ago there had been sympathy. “I can’t leave your side.”

    Another burst of rage shot through her. Rage at her own dependency on the three men in this hospital room who all seemed bent on letting her down. “This is my father we’re talking about,” she growled, glaring up at him.

    His expression didn’t change. “I’ve been hired by The Red King, Ari, to protect you with specific instructions not to leave your side. Ever. Do you think I usually spend 24/7 joined to the hip of a client? No. But that’s what your uncle wants and so I do it. I can’t leave your side, Ari. It’s breaching my contract with The Red King.”

    As his words sank in, Ari’s jaw locked. She was trying desperately not to cry angry, hateful tears. Her eyes swung to Charlie wishing he could help her just this once. This was the moment she had somehow talked herself into believing wouldn’t happen. This was the moment she was pulled into the Jinn world. It was overwhelming. It was all too overwhelming. And it would have been nice if Charlie had shown up, not wasted, but together, so she had one less thing to worry about. And Jai. Ari glanced sharply back at him, surprised to see his eyes soft on her, watching her carefully, almost unsurely. Jai always projected this image of a guy who knew what he was doing. Like he could take care of any situation. Like… she could be safe with him. Why did he have to destroy the person she’d built him up to be in her head when she needed him now the most?

    “Please,” she begged, throwing pride to the wolves. “Please, help me. Jai, he’s my dad.”

    He was silent a long time. His vivid eyes locked on hers. Tension manifested between them, rippling in the air around them, locking them in a cocoon together. Finally, he stepped back from her, shaking himself, clearing his throat, blinking away whatever there was between them. Ari’s cheeks felt hot, her heart was pounding. “OK.” He nodded, his features grim. “I’ll go get it.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire