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  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Smokeless Fire (Page 30)     
  • Smokeless Fire(Fire Spirits #1)(30) by Samantha Young
  • The crushing weight on her chest eased and Ari had to wrap her arms around herself to stop her from diving into Jai’s arms in gratitude. “Thank you,” she breathed in relief.

    Without another word the air around him flickered and he went up in a blaze that brought a surprised curse from Charlie’s lips. The silence when he had departed was thick and uncomfortable. Ari didn’t know what to say to Charlie.

    How was it possible to miss someone when they were standing right next to you?

    When he took a few steps towards her and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her back into him, Ari let him. She couldn’t speak.

    At this moment Charlie was trying.

    But what about an hour ago?

    What about all the times I don’t know about?

    He was trying now. But was that really the best she could ask for?

    Little more than two minutes later the air in the room crackled, the lights flickered, and shadows seemed to slither across the walls. Flames erupted in the space on the other side of Derek’s bed and both Ari and Charlie stumbled back at the unexpected appearance of The Red King. He stood in a black t-shirt and jeans, his massive frame seeming to occupy the entire room. His red hair shone under the fluorescents and his blue eyes cut through them like shards of opal.

    “What the…” Charlie breathed, stepping in front of her.

    Ari made a huffing noise as she pushed him gently aside. “Charlie this is…” How should she introduce him? She made a face, feeling awkward.

    The Red King, however, merely smiled at her. “Nice to see you again.” Then he turned those eyes on Charlie and they narrowed to ice chips. “This must be Charlie Creagh. I am Ari’s uncle, The Red King. You may call me Your Highness.” He shifted his eyes back to Ari. “Jai doesn’t trust this guy.” He gestured to Charlie. “I’ll remain wary of him.”

    It came as no surprise to Ari that Jai didn’t trust Charlie. He was under the impression that everyone had an agenda about everything. That The Red King respected Jai’s opinion and intuition did surprise her. She frowned, seeing Charlie’s jaw flex with anger. If she didn’t say something quick Charlie might and she didn’t know if she could stop her uncle from doing anything to harm him. If he did he could kiss any kind of relationship with her goodbye.

    “Look—”

    The door to the hospital room squeaked open again and this time a nurse came in quietly. Her eyes widened at the sight of The Red King, her mouth falling open and shut like a fish gulping bubbles. When it became apparent she was paused on astonishment, Ari hit the play button and strode over to the nurse, drawing her attention. “Is something wrong?” she asked worriedly, her gaze jerking back to Derek on the bed.

    The nurse swallowed hard, her head turning towards Ari and her eyes following slowly as if they couldn’t pry themselves from The Red King. It was like pulling bubblegum off a desk. “Um…” she made a weird, hysterical little noise in the back of her throat, glancing down at the papers in her hands, her face flushed lobster red. “I have hospital forms you need to fill out, insurance etc.”

    “My niece has already filled those out,” The Red King said before Ari could take them. His voice was warm, as were his eyes, as he walked towards the nurse with a charming smile on his face.

    “Uh.” The nurse shook her head in confusion. “No. Forms haven’t been filled out for Mr. Johnson yet.”

    “Yes they have,” he assured her, tapping the papers in her hand. “Check them again.”

    Nodding shakily, the nurse flipped through the papers, her eyes widening and her cheeks turning an even darker shade of red. “So she has. So sorry for intruding. I’ll leave you alone with your father, Ms. Johnson.” She spoke to Ari but still continued to stare open mouthed at The Red King. Ari couldn’t blame her. “Visiting Hours are over in about an hour.”

    When the nurse made no move to leave, Ari began to feel bad for her. Her uncle kept smiling at the poor woman and it was hypnotizing her. Finally he sighed, gesturing to the door impatiently. She blushed hard again before stumbling back and fumbling for the door. Ari breathed a sigh of relief when she left, uncomfortable with witnessing the effect of the Jinn on a human.

    “So.” She took a step back, standing next to Charlie, silently telling her uncle that he may not trust Charlie but of the two of them the human won her vote. “Why are you here?”

    The Red King strode back over to Derek, his eyes washing over her dad’s slack face. “Jai contacted me to tell me he had had no choice but to leave you unattended. I came to watch over you while he retrieves the Tellicherry Bark from his tribe.”

    “You’re The Red King?” Charlie suddenly asked, taking a step towards him, his eyes round with awe. He had that same rapt look on his face he’d had when the Aissawa Brothers were doing the exorcism.

    Instead of answering right away Ari watched nervously as The Red King took slow steps towards Charlie. He began to circle him, his eyes narrowed and calculating. The energy he projected seemed to wash over Charlie, who shivered visibly. Finally, just when Ari was sure she would stop breathing altogether, her uncle drew to a halt in front of Charlie, a strange smile on his face that reminded her way too much of The White King. “You scream of pain,” he whispered, suddenly seeming just as fascinated by her friend. “No wonder Jai is wary of you. There is so much power in your pain, Charlie Creagh.”

    “Really?” Charlie asked hoarsely, desperately.

    The Red King nodded and they shared a silent long look that sent an indecipherable shiver through Ari. She didn’t know what passed between her best friend and the Jinn but whatever it was she didn’t like it and she didn’t like how spellbound Charlie seemed to be by everything Jinn.

    She took a step forward, wanting to throw herself between them. “Do you think this was The White King?” she asked her uncle, gesturing to her dad’s heartbreaking stillness.

    In a whiplash of movement, The Red King was suddenly on the other side of the bed, staring down into Derek’s face. Ari had squeaked in fright at his supernatural speed and he glanced back up at her with a smirk.

    “So cool…” Charlie breathed.

    Ari made a face at him and he tried to cover up his awe, his features evening out as he attempted somber.

    Taking a calming breath, Ari looked back up into The Red King’s face. “Well?”

    “We won’t know until Jai arrives with the Tellicherry Bark,” he muttered noncommittally.

    ~16~

    A Destiny That Tastes Like the End

    Sweat rolled down Jai’s forehead and he squeezed his eyes shut, pinching the bridge of his nose as the pain exploded out of his sinuses and down the back of his skull. Giving in to Ari’s pleas meant summoning The Red King, which meant telepathing over the realms, which meant agony for those too young and not powerful enough to handle it. His legs trembled as he stood in his father’s office, the two of them waiting for the healer with the stock of Tellicherry Bark to arrive.

    What was taking so long?

    All he wanted to do was lean against his father’s desk and have someone pour a bucket of cold water over him but he refused to appear weak in front of the old man.

    Luca stood also, with the desk between them. Jai had noticed long ago that his father never sat in a room when he was facing someone he considered a competitor in a pissing contest. For once he wished they could just be father and son. That he could fall into his dad’s Chesterfield armchair while Luca brought him a bottle of water.

    Willing some strength into his quickly failing body, Jai ignored the fresh outbreak of sweat.

    “Oh for the love of… sit down before you fall down,” Luca snapped, coming out from behind the table. “Contacting The Red King in Mount Qaf and not even for an emergency!”

    Ignoring his antagonistic tone, Jai finally gave in and slumped into the armchair he’d been coveting. Now he had to will himself not to fall asleep. “It’s her father, Luca. It is an emergency.”

    “It’s not her real father,” Luca grumbled. “Poor bastard should know the truth.”

    Oh of course, Luca would find empathy with Derek. No surprise there. Jai rolled his eyes. “How long is your healer going to take?”

    “Don’t take that tone with me, boy. The healer will get here when she gets here. Why are you so antsy about it? It’s not your father.”

    Yeah, if it was my father I might not be so antsy.

    Instead of making a smartass comment, Jai shifted in the chair, trying to preserve some element of cool professionalism in his demeanor. “Ari begged me to help. I’m trying to help. As quickly as possible.”

    “Ari?”

    Oh shit.

    Luca Bitar was all pleasance and niceties with his clients to their face but he had a strict policy of professional distance, including how his guardians referred to them. When discussing a client behind their back one was always to use the term ‘my client’ or ‘Miss so-and-so’. Never were first names used.

    Jai had effed up on the first question. It was the telepathy. His concentration was nearly dead. “I mean Ms. Johnson,” he corrected himself.

    Luca wasn’t the type to let it go though, especially not with Jai. He grunted. “Typical. What… you think because this one is important to the Jinn Kings that you can play up to her, get in good with her and go places?”

    “Don’t be ridiculous. Sir.”

    Luca shook his head. “I knew something was up when you came tearing in here to tell me that Jinn had gotten into her party. You were upset. Upset that she’d been taken.”

    Jai grunted. “Of course I was upset. I was supposed to be guarding her.”

    “No.” Luca smirked disdainfully at him. “It wasn’t upset and concern for your failure to guard your client, it was genuine anxiety and worry. Should have known my half-breed would be the one to cross the line when it came to a pretty girl.”

    Rage rushed through Jai’s veins at the look in his father’s eyes. This was what Luca Bitar had been waiting for. A moment for Jai to mess up so badly he could finally say ‘he’s nothing like me’. Mixed in with the rage was the panic that Jai was handing him that moment right here, right now. He never, ever wanted Luca to have that satisfaction. Struggling to his feet, Jai squared up to Luca, enjoying the disdain seep out with disappointment.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire