Smokeless Fire (Fire Spirits 1) - Page 34

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“No!” Charlie shrugged away from her. “You can’t—” he threw a dark look at Jai, cutting off whatever he was about to say. To appease him somewhat, Jai took a stroll into the kitchen where he could still hear them arguing in the hall, but at least it gave Charlie the pretense of privacy. “You can’t do this, Ari. You’ve spent the last two years being there for me even when I didn’t deserve it, even when I didn’t want you to. I get it, OK, I do. After Mike, I knew how messed up I was and I wanted you far away from me, from that. I wanted the best, purest thing in my life to remain that and I couldn’t guarantee that would happen if you stuck around. But I couldn’t get rid of you. You wouldn’t let me. You have been there for me, Ari. And I didn’t realize how much I need that until the night you disappeared. I took you for granted and I’m sorry. But please… please don’t give up now. Please don’t push me out of this.”

“I’m trying to protect you.”

“By leaving me?” he asked hoarsely. “You’re all I have.”


“I’m all you’ve got. It’s always been us. I’m not scared of anything. And I take full responsibility for whatever happens to me, for whatever goes down. Just please… Ari… you’re my best friend.”

Jai groaned inwardly when he heard her whisper ‘OK’.

He’d thought he was rid of the tool.

“OK then.” Jai clapped his hands, striding back into the hall. “If the after school special has come to an end…can we get on with this?”

Although her heart was still racing too fast at the thought of Charlie being caught up in the enormity of her situation — her very dangerous situation — the selfish part of her was glad he wanted to stick around. He followed her into the living room as she took a seat opposite Jai. He stared back at her emotionless, waiting for her signal to begin. It was so nice of her guardian to turn into a cold asshat just when she needed him to be her friend. Ignoring the hurt that spiked through her every time she thought of the way he looked at her now, Ari drew in a shuddering breath.

Jai’s face softened infinitesimally, the sun beaming in through the window turned his eyes a startling golden green. “You ready?”

She nodded and then glanced over at Charlie one more time. “Last chance to get the hell out of here.”

He grinned at her, that yummy, adorable smile of his that never failed to make her feel good. “I’m not going anywhere. I called my mom last night and explained about Derek, said I’d be staying with you for a while.”

Ari quirked an eyebrow. “So you’re still getting wasted at Rickman’s but communication with your mom has improved. That’s good, right?”

“Are you seriously going to lecture me about that right now?”

“No, she’s not,” Jai snapped. “Come on people, let’s focus.”

He was really starting to piss her off. Ari shot him a hateful look. “What crawled up your butt? Did you find out you were the Seal of Solomon and the most sought after weapon in the history of the Jinn?” she mocked. “Oh no, wait, that was me.”

Rolling his eyes at her Jai made her feel about six years old. “You’re breaking rule number one.”

Another stab of hurt.


“What, we’re back to rules again?” she huffed at him, ignoring Charlie watching them cautiously. “And technically I wasn’t insulting you, I was mocking you.”

“Technically will you shut up so we can do this?”

“Hey don’t talk to her like that,” Charlie snapped.

Ari shrugged. “Jai doesn’t mean anything by it, Charlie. He was raised like a wolf among people.”

The deeply hurt look Jai used to pin her to the couch stuck through her like a big sharp pointy needle. She gaped wordlessly, remembering him confessing his upbringing with a family who didn’t want him. Jai hadn’t gone into the details but she could guess it hadn’t been good. Or affectionate. Probably like a wolf among people. Crap. He thought she was throwing his vulnerability back in his face. Despite his earlier, baffling coldness, she wanted to reach out and touch him, to reassure him. To apologize. “Jai...”

He smoothed his features again and when he spoke his voice lacked any emotion. “Forget it. Let’s just get started.”

Still feeling awful, Ari bit down the nerves and exhaled. “What should I do?”

“Speak to me,” he said matter-of-factly.


“Using your mind.”

“OK what?” Charlie interjected.

“You.” Jai pointed a finger at him without breaking his concentration from Ari’s face. “Can’t be doing that. You read that book last night, right?”

“Yeah… I just… I guess I keep forgetting Ari is Jinn. It’s too weird.”

“Gee, thanks Charlie.”

“You know what I mean.”

Ignoring him, Ari leaned forward, her elbows braced on her knees as she stared deep into Jai’s eyes, trying not to flush at the immediate tension she felt coiling within herself trapped under his exotic gaze. “So… I what?” she whispered hoarsely. “Just direct thoughts at you?”


“It can’t be that easy.”

He smirked arrogantly. “Try it.”

OK, what do I say to him? Um… you look nice in a towel? She flushed. Jesus Christ don’t say that!

Clasping her hands together and bracing her chin on them Ari bore her eyes into his, imagining the words floating out of her brain across the living room and in through Jai’s forehead. What’s up with the grumpy?

His mouth quirked up at the corner ever so slightly. Didn’t get much sleep last night.

“Holy—” Ari slid back in her chair in fright as his voice echoed around inside her head as clear as if he’d spoken right into her ear.

“What? What did it work?” Charlie asked excitedly, but Ari couldn’t even look at him. She was amazed. In awe. A bubble of laughter floated up out of her and tinkled into the air and there was no mistaking the little spark of something in Jai’s eyes at the sound.

Curious, and eager to continue, Ari leaned back into him. Seriously. What did I do?

The spark promptly sputtered out of his green depths. Nothing. I’m just doing my job, Ari.

You’re being a tool.

What did I say about the name-calling?



“OK, guys this freaking me out,” Charlie said, finally drawing Ari’s gaze. His eyebrows were practically at his hairline. “Can you do it? Are you a telepath now?”

A slow smile slid across her face and she nodded. Yeah she was a telepath. And it felt weird and strange and unbelievable.

But it also felt right.

Like something that had been right in front of her all this time.

Ari laughed again. “Yeah, I’m totally a telepath.”

She slanted a look at Jai. What next?

You’re Jinn, Princess. You can do pretty much anything you want.


This Lifeboat Isn’t Big Enough for Three

The act of telepathy to Jai was an exercise. He believed it would be the most straightforward way to unlock Ari’s abilities and she couldn’t disagree with him. It came naturally to her, and although she was more than thankful that Jinn could not read minds, she had to admit there was something mega cool about being able to communicate with Jai through the power of telepathy. To keep her exercising her Jinn muscles he was making her speak to him mostly that way. It was pissing Charlie off, she could tell. It would piss her off too if she were the only one out of the loop, but the excitement of using such a weird and unique gift kind of over-rode her concern for Charlie. Tapping into her abilities wasn’t at all what she imagined. She’d thought Jai would set her up in the living room and start testing her and making her conjure stuff, but according to her guardian that was a pointless exercise. Since she was one of the Jinn, like himself, with a wide scope of power and ability to conjure, Jai insisted that she use her magic for everyday things. He said there was no one muscle that needed to be worked, no inner power that had to be tapped into or explored. It was all about believing. It was as simple as that. Ari had to believe that if she wanted a glass of water that she could conjure it. Or a bag of chips. Or be able to grab the remote for the TV without moving. She even managed to turn a cushion to ash when Charlie threw it at her for cracking a joke about his feeble mind not being able to handle anyone else inside it. She just thought about what Jai did and raised a hand, believing it was ash. Suddenly it was.

As she conjured, the act becoming more natural as the day progressed, Ari began to feel the heat build in her skin. At one point she felt as if she were emitting the heat of a thousand suns, her mouth was constantly parched, her skin was too hot to the touch and she felt weak. Jai had assured her it was normal, and sure enough by the time late afternoon rolled around she could no longer feel how enflamed her skin was. She had Charlie run ice cubes down her skin and she couldn’t feel the cold, and she waved a hand over an open flame and couldn’t feel the heat. Well… it wasn’t that she couldn’t feel the temperature changes it was just it had no effect on her comfort anymore. It was weird.

The whole experience was overwhelming and Ari had to stop herself from over-conjuring stuff when she realized she could have practically anything she wanted. It was kind of a high. But a dangerous one, Jai had warned. It was too easy to get drunk on power. Ari had thought she could use his concern to her advantage. What she really wanted to do was learn how to use what Jai called the Peripatos. The Peripatos was Jinn form of travelling. You could literally travel from New York to Sydney just by concentrating on where you wanted to go. However, Jai had said it was pretty exhausting the first time around and he wanted her to build her abilities before she did any of the big stuff. Turned out there was no using anything to take advantage of Jai.

Tags: Samantha Young Fire Spirits Fantasy