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  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Smokeless Fire (Page 32)     
  • Smokeless Fire(Fire Spirits #1)(32) by Samantha Young
  • “What did my brother tell you? What reason did he give for your birth, Ari?”

    Leaning back into Charlie, Ari gulped, sensing something huge on the horizon. “He said he was looking for meaning.”

    The Red King guffawed at that although his blue eyes remained serious. “My brother was looking for power.”

    “I don’t understand.”

    “Your mother, Sala, he told you she was a powerful Ifrit, yes?”

    Ari nodded, mute with growing fear and anticipation. She slid a hand up to clutch Charlie’s fingers, needing an anchor to the real world as she waited for the revelation she knew would try to blow her off her feet.

    “Sala is the most seductive Jinn we’ve ever come across. Even more seductive than the Lilif like Jai’s mother. My brother believed he could use her to steal the Seal of Solomon from around Asmodeus’ neck.”

    “By seducing Asmodeus,” Jai explained before she could ask.

    Ari nodded, looking back and forth between them, wishing they would stop drawing this out. “So did she?”

    The Red King pinned her in place with his electric gaze. “To our utter surprise, yes. She returned to The White King with the Seal. He promptly made her swallow it and that night he mated with her, using enchantment to conceive a child within her womb, a child whose life force — the greatest power on this earth — broke the seal down into its basic properties, stealing its magic and winding it into the child’s DNA.”

    This time, when the silence descended around the room, Ari knew they could all hear her heart banging in her chest. It raced even harder at the feel of Charlie’s own heart pounding against her back. He was probably confused but he could feel the air of expectation, the crackle of legend sparking in the air.

    Ari sucked in a deep breath, a hysterical laugh desperate to erupt out of her. She controlled herself though and met The Red King eye for eye. “Are you telling me… are you telling me I’m the Seal of Solomon?”

    ~17~

    My Name is Not Mine but I Wish it was Yours

    There was nothing that could prepare a person for discovering they were a pawn in a war between mythical beings.

    Unless you know… you were Frodo. But Ari wasn’t Frodo. She was just Ari.

    I’m just Ari!

    “Wait… what?” Charlie asked, his hand sliding around her shoulders as he stepped around to peer down at her with alarm and confusion in his dark eyes. Not even the warm familiarity of his face was a comfort at that moment.

    Ari felt frozen with fear as the full reality of what The Red King and Jai were telling her hit her. When it became apparent she couldn’t form words, she heard Jai sigh impatiently. “Look, I’ll give you the book I gave Ari to get you up to speed but right now—”

    “At least tell me what this means and why Ari looks like she saw the demon out of Jeepers Creepers come to life?”

    Gripping Charlie’s bicep, Ari squeezed it tightly, her fingernails pinching into his skin. “Not funny,” she whispered, unfreezing but falling into a panic attack. She gulped for breath, her lungs shutting down on her, her brain fuzzing up and tilting the world at a hell of an angle. Fighting nausea was difficult when you were busy trying to keep your balance so you didn’t pass out on top of your dad who happened to be in a coma. She swayed, tightening her grip on Charlie, who swore.

    I’m dying. Oh God I’m dying. Air. Air.

    “She’s having a panic attack,” Jai cursed and the next thing Ari knew she was sitting on a chair breathing in and out of a brown paper bag. “Slowly, Ari, slowly,” she heard Jai coach her. Sure enough after a few minutes she was breathing again, the tension in her muscles easing.

    “Perhaps giving her the book was a bad idea,” The Red King mused, a whisper of anger in his tone. “If she hadn’t known what the Seal was she might not have taken the news so badly.”

    “Yeah because she wouldn’t understand what the hell it meant… Your Highness. Her reaction? Fairly understandable under the circumstances if you ask me.”

    As she sat there trying to come to grips with the truth, to really, truly understand what it meant for her and the people she cared about, it occurred to Ari what a chance Jai took standing up to a Jinn King like that. Her watery eyes rose from the floor to see the death look The Red King was shooting at her guardian. Yup, definitely taking a chance with his life.

    “Look, I hate to already add to the confusion,” Charlie said from his position on the arm of the chair, “But what does this mean?”

    “Ari.” The Red King moved around her father’s bed almost like he was floating on the foggy cloud bank of Mount Qaf. “What do you think it means?”

    Her chest tightened again but Ari drew strength from Charlie, reaching for his hand and squeezing it tight. She should take comfort in his presence while she still could. “It means…” she looked up at her best friend, at the boy she loved, at the one person who despite his continued attempts to disappoint her, had been her only anchor for the longest time. “The Seal is the only thing in existence that can command the Jinn to do anything. Any Jinn, any time, anything, no matter how powerful they are. What my real father did, The White King, he used magic to break the properties of the Seal down into my DNA. Meaning…” she glanced back up now at Jai and her uncle. “…meaning that if I decide to use my Jinn abilities, it’s more than likely that I’ll also be able to command the Jinn. All Jinn. And The White King wants to use me to dethrone the Jinn Sultan Azazil. And he’s…” her voice broke off as her eyes began to glisten, falling on Derek lying hollow on the bed. “… he’s going to hurt the people that I love to make sure I do what he wants since he can’t make me do it any other way.”

    They were all silent a moment, Ari’s heart thumping out of time with her father’s heart monitor.

    “Well… shit,” Charlie breathed, squeezing her hand and looking down at her in awe and sympathy and fear. “Ari…”

    “Worse,” The Red King spoke up, “What he has done to Derek can only be reversed by you.”

    Ari blinked rapidly, her pulse leaping in fear as she watched Jai and the King share a grim look. “What… what do you mean?”

    “The only way to cure Derek is to have the Jinn who did this, reverse it. There are many Jinn capable of doing this but my bet is my brother used a Shaitan, the original servants of Azazil. Evil personified. The only way to have a Shaitan reverse it is for you to command him to do it. The White King knew you would have to do this. This is his way of making sure you become true Jinn and embrace your power as the Seal.”

    The empty, soulless darkness of The White King’s eyes flashed through her mind and Ari shuddered with rage.

    “I could ask Azazil for help. He should be able to tell us which Shaitan did it and where to find the offensive Jinn. I’d ask him… as a favor to me.”

    Looking up into The Red King’s suddenly soulful eyes, Ari wondered how he could possibly be related to her real father. He seemed to genuinely feel for her situation. To want to help. God she hoped he was sincere. Right now she needed all the allies she could get. “Thank you… but I just…” she turned her eyes from him to Jai to Charlie, pulling her hand from her friend’s grip. “I just really need a moment alone with my dad.”

    It took them a minute to realize she was serious and both The Red King and Charlie opened their mouths as if to argue. Jai beat them to it. “Out fellas.” He nodded at the door, waving a hand for them to move. Ari’s heart thud thud thumped a little as she met his gaze, telling him with her eyes that she was grateful. He seemed to get the message, giving her a brittle little nod, his demeanor still odd and cold. Ari didn’t really have time to worry about that at the moment.

    “You’re lucky you’re already in pain,” The Red King said to Jai as he swept out of the door before him. “Or I’d seriously considering lighting a flame under your ass.”

    “Apologies, Your Highness.” Jai grinned wearily as he shut the door behind him.

    Left in the quiet of the hospital room with just her dad, Ari pulled one of the plastic chairs over to his bedside, reaching through the bars to grab his cold hand.

    His touch felt alien. And distant. Not just because his body lay there on that bed like a shell of the true man, but because the way she felt about him was somehow different now too.

    Not that she didn’t love him. She did. That would never change. When she was younger she used to worship the ground Derek walked on. Back then of course he had more time for her. They would spend entire weekends together, sometimes just hanging out in the backyard, or taking off to Cincinnati. When Jude Scott tripped her on the playground deliberately, she’d swung at him and hurt her hand. Instead of getting mad, Derek had taken her aside one Saturday afternoon and taught her how to punch, showing her where to place her thumb so she wouldn’t get hurt again. He’d driven her to Little League with Charlie and had gone to all their games. He’d read her bedtime stories when he could, including her beloved collection of the Harry Potter books, and listened and talked to her as if she were his friend and not just his kid. Then, when she started growing br**sts and wearing skirts he’d grown a little distant, clearly not sure how to deal with a teenage girl in his house. He’d shown her in his own way that he loved her. That he cared. That she was his daughter. But the truth was he hadn’t been a good dad to her these last few years. It was only now when she was so close to losing him that she was really able to accept that. If this had never happened, Ari would have waited for him to come home from Boston, would have bit back her complaints as he talked her into going to Penn and she would have argued away his reasons, making excuses for him as she had done for years. Now, if she saved him, she may never get the chance to stand her ground, to ask him to be the dad he should have been, to prove to him she was still the little girl that he loved but…

    ….the truth was she wasn’t. For months now Ari had been panicking, looking out into the black, trying to uncover who she really was.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire