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  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Smokeless Fire (Page 41)     
  • Smokeless Fire(Fire Spirits #1)(41) by Samantha Young
  • ~23~

    The Coppery Scent of Death

    Flying wasn’t Ari’s thing. It wasn’t ever going to be Ari’s thing. Ari thought she’d just have to hold Jai’s hand and they’d zip up into the air together. Instead Jai had slid an arm around her waist, drawing her tight against his side and murmuring for her to hold on tight. She’d done so, trembling shyly as she was pressed against his hard body, one of his strong hands gripping her shoulder, the other sitting comfortably on her hip. Ignoring the way her body lit up like a Christmas tree around him Ari nodded one last goodbye to a seriously pissed off Charlie before she felt the vibration of Jinn enchantment as Jai pushed into the Cloak. Ari had followed suit, barely having hidden herself when Jai shot them into the sky at a blurring speed that made her scream. Her stomach had bottomed out and the vacuum of air that had rushed into her mouth momentarily suffocated her. Panicking Ari had clung tighter to Jai, squeezing her eyes closed and praying for the sensation to end.

    And here they were.

    The flight was painful with the wind hitting her skin like little rocks skipping over water, not to mention her muscles burned from the tension of holding on so tightly to Jai. It seemed to last forever and all Ari could do was tuck her head into Jai’s neck and wait it out.

    Superman and Lois Lane made this look like so much fun. It is so not fun.

    Jai’s chuckle bounced around in her mind, making her bury deeper into him. I’m getting that. I have claw marks in my skin now.

    Oops sorry.

    Don’t be, I’m fine.

    With the superhuman speed they flew at it came as no surprise when Ari felt her body take a dip hours before a plane would arrive across country. Prying her eyes open, she peeked out from under her lashes to see they had slowed and that the ground was moving closer and closer towards them.

    Her eyes widened as the earth below her burst with color — greens and reds and blues and purples and glinting diamond light — all of it moving, like multi-colored bugs scrambling around. If Ari wasn’t mistaken they were heading for a ton of people. Sure enough, Jai eased back on the accelerator even more and as they approached ground she nipped her nails into his shoulder in her anxiousness. What the hell is that?

    It looks like… a parade.

    A parade? A parade of what?

    Uh… people?

    Bracing herself for impact Ari was glad for the graceful landing Jai made, her feet hitting concrete with little reverberation through her body. She staggered out of his arms only to be shoved back into them.

    “Hey, what was that?” A girl in costume shrieked, glancing around for her invisible ‘attacker’. Ari and Jai broke apart, their gazes taking in the madness around them.

    Come out of the Cloak. Now.

    Following his instructions Ari stepped out of it only to be slammed into Jai again by a giant green alien. Dodging the next stream of people, Ari cursed under her breath at the sparkles and glitter and multi-colored faces and masks. Everywhere… there were aliens.

    Eyes alighting on a banner spanning the entire width of Main Street, Roswell, Ari cursed loudly this time.

    Welcome to Roswell’s Annual UFO Festival 2011!

    “You have got to be kidding me,” Jai growled, moving out of the way of a huge guy dressed in silver spandex. The beat of drums crashed around them and the song Spaceman by Babylon Zoo blared from someone’s beatbox. The air smelled of burgers and cotton candy. Laughter and singing mingled in with the raucous celebration and Ari had to catch her breath, fighting the disorientation caused by the parade. A laughing alien face appeared inches before her and she bit back a yell, stumbling into Jai to get away from the face that smelled of hot rubber and sweat. Jai caught her and she looked down in surprise when his hand tangled in hers, holding it in his unrelenting grip.

    She gulped. “What now?”

    Now we find Pazuzu. You’ll feel him, Ari. You’ll sense Jinn among us. He’s old and powerful so whatever you do… don’t let go of my hand.

    OK.

    Jai shoved into the crowds, ignoring the yells as they walked in the opposite direction. They sidestepped some floats and a couple of cars and plunged back into the crowds again. Keeping her senses alert Ari couldn’t help but begin to feel drained. There were just so many people there. How were they ever going to find Pazuzu?

    Jai glanced back at her squeezing her hand. Crazy huh?

    Too crazy.

    He’s gotta be here somewhere, Ari. Just hold on.

    I am. I am.

    Flexing her hand in his, Ari realized how safe she felt with him. Safer than she even felt with Charlie. It was nice. Very nice.

    As they passed people melting under the New Mexico sun in their heavy makeup and costumes, Ari was actually glad her body ran at such a stable temperature. Looking for Pazuzu in these crowds and dehydrating at the same time did not sound like fun. Not that this was—

    What the…

    Jai’s hand tightened again. You feel that?

    Yes, she replied. Her head swiveling around this way and that, checking over the crowds. What is that?

    Jai drew to an abrupt halt, pulling Ari to a standstill. He groaned. This isn’t happening.

    What? She eyed him apprehensively before following his gaze through the parade.

    There. He nodded his head and Ari squinted trying to see what had caught his attention. Focusing, she searched the energy she had felt only moments before and her spidey senses zoomed in on a young woman in a skin-tight, bright green catsuit beckoning two young men down a dark alley. The boys grinned at each other before following her in. Another Jinn.

    No way.

    Yes way. And not just any Jinn. He looked down at her now, his eyes hard. A Ghulah. A flesh-eating Jinn. They prey specifically on travelers.

    Ari’s stomach flipped at the thought of the carnage the Jinn was about to unleash. She hadn’t even known there were flesh-eating Jinn. Wow… she really was born into something freaking horrible. Travelers? What…? Her eyes widened as she looked back at the UFO festival sign. Of course. People traveled from all over the world to enjoy the Roswell UFO Festival.

    Ari, I have to stop her. I can’t just stand by and let that happen when I can do something about it.

    I know. But I’m coming with you.

    No.

    Yes.

    Ari, I don’t have time to argue this.

    Neither did she. Tugging out of his grip, Ari began pushing through the crowds towards the alleyway. Feeling the heat of Jai’s growl at her back Ari looked over her shoulder defiantly. What do we do?

    You do nothing. Just stay out of the way.

    Not even given time to roll her eyes, Ari gaped as Jai shot by her in a blur, disappearing into the dark of the alley. Panic suffused her at the thought of the Ghulah hurting him and Ari gripped asphalt, dashing into the alley after him, the smell of garbage and beer flooding her nose and tickling awake whatever it was that made a person want to be sick. Stopping at the mouth of darkness Ari’s gasping breaths sounded overly loud and she clamped a hand over her mouth, willing her eyes to adjust to the light.

    A yell rent the air and Ari dove forward, the sounds of glass smashing and loud rustling setting her heart to pounding.

    “Jesus Christ!” a guy cried out in fear, his voice reaching Ari only seconds before he appeared out of the dimness, blood seeping from the fleshy bite in his neck. Pale and weak, completely discombobulated by fear, he fell past Ari and out into the streets.

    Screw this!

    Petrified, Ari strode into the alley, the shapes of dumpsters and garbage bags spilling out into the dirt infested space forming before her as her eyes adjusted. Stepping tentatively over what could have been anything from water to urine Ari wrinkled her nose, trying to hear past the rushing of blood in her ears for sounds of Jai.

    Her eyes widened at the sight of a bloody hand lying limp on the ground and as soon as she saw the blood the strong thick, nauseating scent of copper overwhelmed her and she gagged. Disbelief and screaming unreality wept through her as she followed the hand to the rest of the body. It was one of the boys. Hurrying forward Ari was just about to fall to her knees to inspect him when a gust of wind blew past her carrying Jai in it. He slammed into the wall beside her, dirty garbage bags breaking his fall as he slid down it with a wincing scrape of leather against brick.

    “Jai?” she squawked, making a move towards him only to be stopped by a large hand wrapping around her throat. Clawing at the hand Ari was turned by it and lifted off the ground, her feet dangling helplessly as she struggled to draw breath. The Jinn’s female façade smiled up at her sweetly, her mouth covered in gore from where she’d been eating the boys. To Ari’s horror her jaw elongated unnaturally, revealing huge sharp teeth. Ari closed her eyes, shutting out the image of blood and flesh dripping from the Ghulah’s mouth.

    “Another Hunter from the Guild I presume. I don’t know why you bother when you know you’re not allowed to kill us.”

    She squeezed tighter and black spots started popping up all over Ari’s vision. Biting her nails into the Ghulah’s hand Ari raked them deep and the Jinn winced just before Ari lost consciousness.

    Jai pounded a fist against the enchantment the Ghulah had placed around him while she choked the life out of Ari. Before she’d gripped Ari Jai had been able to think. The Ghulah was more powerful than she should be, almost as if she were borrowing power. When the barrier went up around him his eyes had zeroed in on the talisman she wore around her neck. A Sorcerer’s talisman. She was drawing power from it. His only thought had been of removing the talisman from her neck and destroying it, that is…until he was unraveled by her attack on Ari. The emotions that rushed through him as he banged and punched the invisible wall keeping him from rescuing her was nothing like how they described. There was no one thought in a moment like this. There was terror and fury and panic and vengeance. It was unrelenting and painful as it clawed and clouded his brain, reducing him to a saliva-ridden animal desperate to eviscerate the Jinn who dared to hurt what was his.

    When Ari’s eyes rolled back in her head, Jai stilled, staring in disbelief as the Ghulah released her, her hand unwrapping from around her throat. Ari’s body hit the concrete with a thud as she collapsed, sprawled out on the dirty ground, unconscious, her long limbs seeming dead, her hair spread out in a pillow around her head, her throat red raw from strangulation. The rise and fall of her chest, however, eased him, rationale seeping back into his thinking.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire