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  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Smokeless Fire (Page 33)     
  • Smokeless Fire(Fire Spirits #1)(33) by Samantha Young
  • Well now she knew.

    “I’m not your daughter,” she told him hoarsely, her wet eyes sliding across Derek’s deathly pale face, her thumb brushing back and forth comfortingly over his papery cold skin. “I’m…” she laughed stupidly, letting the tears spill down her cheeks for the first time in a long time. “I’m not anyone’s daughter. He made me to use me. You raised me and yet our blood is like water. You know what though? I always thought we had the same smile. Kind of goofy, a little crooked,” she huffed tearfully, letting the silence fall over the room again.

    Finally she sighed. “I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m not anyone’s daughter, dad… but I am still your kid.” She burst into hard tears now, pressing his hand to her salty cheek. “I am still your kid and I’m going to protect you even if that means becoming his kid. I am so sorry. I’m so, so sorry.” She broke down now, sobbing hard, deep painful cries into his pillow. Feeling more alone than ever.

    After a while a knock sounded at the door and the nurse from before popped her head around the doorframe. Her eyes grew round with sadness as Ari lifted her red-rimmed eyes from Derek to her. “Sweetheart, I’m sorry, but visiting hours are over for today.”

    Nodding numbly, terrified of what awaited her outside the hospital room door, Ari slowly drew to her feet. She gazed down at the man in the bed she would die to protect, wondering if and when she saved him, if she would ever be able to call him ‘dad’ again.

    “I love you, Dad.”

    For a moment she could hear his deep, rich voice in her ears. I love you too, kid.

    Sucking back more tears, Ari turned sharply away from him and followed the nurse out of the room. She wasn’t surprised as Charlie, Jai and The Red King snapped away from their places leaning against the nurse’s station. They strode towards her determinedly, Charlie’s face tightening at the sight of her. Ari sighed, dragging a hand through her hair. She knew she must look a mess. When her eyes flicked over Jai she was stupidly hurt by the lack of expression on his face. The Red King just stared at her expectantly. It was to him she nodded. “Let’s do this.”

    ~18~

    Could I Be Read if I Were See-Through?

    He could pretend to not be worried about her. Didn’t mean he wasn’t.

    Jai had to stop himself from rubbing a hand across his short hair in frustration. He eyed Charlie, who bristled outside of Ari’s bedroom door, practically bouncing on the balls of his feet in his impatience to see her. Jai didn’t need the human kid to see Ari had any effect on him. Like they didn’t have enough problems already.

    But hell, last night, when she’d come out of her father’s hospital room, pale and frightened, those gorgeous eyes of hers red-rimmed from crying, it had taken everything he had not to push the other two out of his way and pull her into a hug. Jai cursed inwardly, hitting a fist quietly into the wall behind him. At that moment he’d hated himself and Luca more than he ever had before. The hurt in her eyes when he’d snapped at her before it, then when he’d looked through her during it when she was so clearly upset, when she so clearly needed to be comforted…

    He’d done crappy things before but up until that moment he’d never actually felt bad about them.

    That’s why he was her guardian. Not her friend. Not her—

    “That’s it, Ari, open up!” Charlie yelled into the door. Jai glared over at him.

    “Back off,” he growled, pushing off from the wall to face the kid. Charlie was built for a human, only an inch or two shorter than Jai, but Jai was Jinn and Jai was trained in four different martial arts. He could take the idiot on if it came to a fight.

    Charlie’s eyes narrowed on him and Jai felt a frisson of excitement at the challenge in them. He’d been looking for any excuse to punch this guy for days now. “I’m worried about her, and standing out here trying to hear if she’s breathing isn’t doing jack!”

    Rolling his neck, feeling the satisfying crack, Jai had to draw on all the patience and professionalism he could. Punching Charlie would just upset Ari even more than she already was and that was last thing he wanted. After she’d told them she was going to allow them to show her the way to her magic last night, they had all returned to the house. Without a word, Ari had locked herself in her bedroom, and The Red King had assured Jai that for tonight he was allowed to leave her alone in her room. Charlie and Jai had slept downstairs. The Red King had left after promising Jai he’d contact him as soon as Azazil gave him the information on the Shaitan. For now he left Ari in Jai’s ‘capable’ hands. He was the one who was to show her the way to her abilities — a prospect he did not look forward to as he was still suffering a splitting headache from the contact he’d made through the realms.

    It was ten in the morning. Jai and Charlie had already washed and eaten breakfast, and had been waiting and waiting for Ari to open her door. Still nothing.

    Not that Jai could blame her. He would have hoped after giving Charlie a copy of the book he’d conjured for Ari to read that he too would now understand the gravity of Ari’s situation. He’d cursed enough about it last night as he read the book, keeping Jai from a good night’s sleep every time he came across something that affected Ari directly. If Jai had had to listen to him mutter, “Ari’s father is such a dick’ one more time he had seriously considered finding an enchanted bottle and trapping the douchebag in it for good.

    Understanding Ari’s state of shock, the crazy, unbelievable reality of who and what she was didn’t seem to be affecting Charlie like it should. Jai didn’t like the look in his eye, his impatience, his excitement.

    “Give her time,” Jai hissed. “She said she’d do this and she will, but back off and give her time to deal with this stuff.”

    Charlie shook his head, shooting another concerned look at the door. “Giving her time will just make her think about it too much. She might decide not to go ahead and then what’ll Derek do?”

    Jai narrowed his eyes, his suspicions crawling in his veins and nudging his intuition awake on their journey. “Derek? Is that really what you’re worried about, Charlie?”

    “What the hell does that mean?”

    “It means I don’t think you give a damn about Derek. I don’t know what your game is here but I will find out.”

    The kid took a step towards Jai, his jaw clenched, his eyes blazing at the accusation. “Who the hell do you think you are? I’m here for Ari. Ari!” He shook his head, his eyes washing over Jai disdainfully. “I’m not fooled by you, dude.” He leaned in to Jai, whispering his next words, “But just so you know… she’s been mine for a long time.”

    You little piece of fu—

    Ratbag little—

    Jai took a deep breath, trying to control the desire to deck the jackass. Instead he leaned in just as threateningly as Charlie had and cocked his head mockingly. “Yours?”

    When Charlie pulled back, his expression changing, softening, as if he realized he was acting like a jerk, Jai unfortunately could see the glimmer of the good kid in his eyes that Ari was so hung up on. He shook his head, his messy hair flying around his face, his dark eyes full of self-directed derision. “I meant she’s my friend. She’s been my friend for a long time. Long before you came into her life.”

    I can’t get caught up in this crap.

    Before Jai could say something, anything to assure Charlie (and himself) that his only part in Ari’s story was that of the guardian, Ari’s bedroom door swung open. She looked more together, her hair freshly washed, her eyes bright with determination. Jai dropped his gaze, not needing to look at her for too long.

    “I’ve been in there trying to psyche myself up for this,” she explained, coming out and shutting the door behind her. “That would have been easier if I hadn’t had to listen to you two bicker outside my door for the last half hour like two old woman fighting over the last can of corn.” She brushed past him, her bare arm sliding against his and sending the hair on his forearm up in tingles. She smelled of the rich, exotic Dior perfume she wore all the time, a scent Jai would never be able to smell again without thinking about her. As he and Charlie followed her downstairs he noted the change in her gait. Ari was one of those rare girls who seemed to float from place to place when she walked, graceful and feminine. Today her steps were heavier, as if the emotional burden of discovering who she was, was an actual physical weight. He felt a sharpness in his chest at the thought and ignored the splice of some unknown but ugly feeling rip through him as Charlie caught up to her at the bottom of the stairs, pulling her into a hug before she could say anything more.

    Her small hands slid around his back and for a moment she held tight to him. Jai felt the ugliness grow darker and deeper, like a stone caught at the back of his throat. He eyed the floor determinedly, waiting for the rustle of clothing to tell him they’d stopped embracing.

    “I’m fine, really,” Ari told them quietly and Jai raised his head to see her eyeing him warily. “I’m ready to learn.”

    Glad for his stoic professionalism, Jai jerked his head towards the living room. “Let’s go in there, sit down, relax into this.”

    She heaved a sigh and turned to Charlie. “You should go.”

    Ha-ha, loser.

    Oh real mature, Jai. Real mature.

    Charlie’s jaw dropped, his comical expression giving Jai more satisfaction than it should. “What? No way!”

    “Charlie.” Ari’s face crumpled as she reached for him, her palm pressing on his chest above his heart. She was so comfortable and affectionate with him it made Jai want to gnash his teeth on something. “I can’t have anything happen to you. And being around me… not good. Starting now I have to walk away from all of this. From Ohio. From Dad and Rachel and Staci… and you.”

    Panic lit Charlie’s eyes and for a moment Jai almost felt bad for the guy even if he did think Ari’s sacrifice of her friends and family was the logical thing to do.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire