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Authors: Samantha Young

Borrowed Ember

BOOK: Borrowed Ember
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Table of Contents

 

Borrowed Ember
Table of Contents
Borrowed Ember
Prologue - Each Thread Pulled, Unravels Us
1 - I’m a Mountain Against the Wind
2 - The Lawlessness of Kings & Courts
3 - Your Kind Wickedness…
4 - Feast on these Words Before the Plate is Removed from the Table
5 - It’s an Old Kind of Magic in Kisses and Starbursts
6 - Losing Too Much can Make You Yearn to be Lost
7 - My Heat hits her Ice and the Snow Falls
8 - Hope Dies Last
9 - Giving the Pawn a Name Makes the Game a Little Harder
10 - Without Fear, I Wrap My Shadows Around You
11 - You Fear What You Don’t Understand. I’ve Always Understood What I Feared.
12 - Chasing Dreams that are not My Own
13 - I Will Use Your Love as a Mold to Make a Dagger
14 - Sometimes Switching on the Light Only Brings the Nightmare to Life
15 - This Sky is Not Theirs to Reach… It is Yours to Place Your Stars Upon
16 - Honor does not Know of Good or Evil
17 - One Red Riding Hood and Too Many Wolves
18 - How Can an Emerald Heal When its Poison Caused the Wound?
19 - You Crept into My Attic and Stole My Favorite Thing
20 - There are Toys Willing to be Played with. And Others Who’d Rather Remain in the Box
21 - Like Bitter Truth, Red on White is a Hard Stain to Remove
22 - Borrowed Ember
23 - At Least Take My Shield When You Go Into Battle
24 - The Night is Immune to the Day but Addicted to the Light
25 - These Continuous Trips to Lost & Found Are Wearing on my Soul
26 - Making Sense of it All Makes no Sense when you Sense it Too Late
27 - Being Too Early is Almost as Rude as Being Too Late
28 - And They Say a Wealth of Emeralds Won’t Change You…
Epilogue - The Right Jinn for the Job
Acknowledgments
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Index of Terms (Fire Spirits)
Descended by Blood by Angeline Kace
CHAPTER ONE

Borrowed Ember

Fire Spirits #3

Copyright © 2012 Samantha Young

Al Rights Reserved. No reproduction, copy or transmission of this publication may be made without written permission of the author. No paragraph of this publication may be reproduced, copied or transmitted save with the written permission of the author. This work is registered and protected by My Free Copyright.

Written and published by Samantha Young

Edited by Ashley’s Freelance Editing

Cover Design by Phatpuppy Art (Digital Artist) & Teresa Yeh (Photographer)

Cover Model - Danny Bowden

 

***

Borrowed Ember

 

Fire Spirits #3

By

Samantha Young

 

***

God knows what is hiding in that world of little consequence.

 

Behind the tears, inside the lies,

A thousand slowly dying sunsets.

People Help the People
- Cherry Ghost

Prologue
- Each Thread Pulled, Unravels Us

 

Milions of granules of glittering sand were suspended in the air al around them like a curtain of fragmented earth that enveloped them entirely. Bright sunlight shot through al the spaces in between each grain. Ari stared in awe for a moment, vaguely wondering if she would be able to create the same effect with the desert sand. It was like a fat funnel—as though a tornado had swept over the ground in a powerful, frantic dash only to have someone even more powerful hit the pause button on it.

Despite the extraordinary visual impact, Ari was more impressed with its purpose. It was a cocoon of privacy alowing mother and son to talk freely without sly and eager ears overhearing their words.

Turning her attention to Lilif and her son, The White King, Ari prowled around them. She was now used to her visions, or dreams, or whatever they were, and more than eager to learn more from them. The White King towered over his beautiful mother who appeared as if she were no older than him. Her tal, graceful frame was wrapped in a white dress, like a toga, a strangely colorless garment for Lilif—the jewels in her ears and on her fingers providing the only sparkle of color. Her dark locks were puled back in an elegant coiffure, a thin circlet of diamonds winking in the sun from its tight situation across her forehead. Entranced, as she always was by the female Jinn, it took Ari a moment to remember her real father’s presence. His curious silence drew her eyes towards him as Lilif looked up lovingly into his face. As soon as Ari took him in she stopped, transfixed by his expression. For Ari, The White King was the coldest Jinn she had ever met. Only once had she witnessed him lose his cool, and even then it was the most controled anger she’d ever seen. White was the master of the blank expression, so it was with great surprise that Ari looked upon this younger version of the Jinn King and saw love and respect in his eyes, and a soft quirk of a smile on the corner of his lips. He was vulnerable before Lilif. Unguarded. More human, somehow.

“You know I love your theatrics, Mother, but is this realy necessary?” he smirked, gesturing to the sand cocoon around them.

Lilif’s eyes narrowed. “Of course. Or have your brothers not caught your ears yet?”

Immediately White frowned. “Red and Glass are trying to cause mischief. I think father put them up to it. I assure you, I don’t believe them.”

“Good.” Lilif placed a gentle hand on his forearm. “That brings me such relief, my son. I would never hurt any of my children. How can they accuse me of such an abominable thing?”

“Father,” White answered grimly.

“That’s why I have brought you here.” Lilif stepped back from him, wringing her hands in a way that made Ari think she was lying. She frowned. This was not the Lilif Ari had come to know from her earlier dreams of her. “Azazil is trying to turn you al against me.”

“Why? What has happened?”

“We have been disagreeing often on his selfish pursuit of pleasure. He seems to be uncaring of our ways, of our purpose. I fear that soon he wil even begin

interfering in his sons’ purpose —that he may upset the balance by influencing you al to interfere in one another’s days, to interfere with the Importants’ destinies.

His petulance, his propensity for boredom wil destroy everything. Do you fuly understand what his childish irresponsibility wil lead to? Over time, each destiny that is broken, each path that is turned, each road that is lost, wil create cracks in the fabric of nature, of time, of space and of light. The realms wil start to colide into one another, until there is nothing but a wasteland of dust. Only the strongest wil survive. Only the immortal and the very powerful. We’l have to begin anew, alone in one, smaler world…”

Ari felt the breath leave her body at Lilif’s prophecy, her stomach churning with fear. Were her words true? Is that realy what would happen if Azazil lost control of it al? Is that what The Red King had meant when he told her that the consequences of her using the Seal against the Sultan could be catastrophic? She gulped, suddenly very glad she had taken his advice.

Attention drawn back to White, Ari realized he was just as aghast. “So everything wil be gone, but us?”

“Almost. Azazil was the one who forewarned me of the consequences of tampering with the threads of our existence, and yet I believe, in the end, it wil be your father that brings such a disaster to fruition.”

“Do the others know this?”

“If they don’t, we have to tel them,” Lilif whispered hoarsely, her eyes huge with concern. Ari narrowed her own eyes, not quite as taken in by Lilif as her son obviously was.

“Mother, we cannot let Father play these games he has been playing these last few years. Balance… the balance is our purpose.”

Lilif nodded wearily. “It is. I brought you here to make you understand the importance of us standing united against your father. Even if that means standing united against your brothers.”

The White King straightened with determination. “Gleaming wil want to know of this. He is just as suspicious as I am of Red and Glass’ offensive claims of late.”

“And Shadow?”

“Yes, Shadow also. Gilder and Lucky, I am not so sure of. You know they like to maintain cowardly neutrality.”

“Don’t speak so harshly of them, White. We may yet be able to appeal to their inteligent natures and their sense of honor. They do believe deeply in their purpose just as you do.”

“I shal leave now and speak with them. We need to prepare them. We need to stand strong and try to counterbalance any unwritten chaos that upsets the balance.”

“Hurry.” Lilif reached up and stroked his cheek lovingly.

“I wil. It is my duty.” With a respectful bow of his head, White stepped back and the flames of the
Peripatos
engulfed him.

Ari’s eyes slid slowly back to Lilif and she watched, somehow unsurprised, as the Ifrit’s entire demeanor changed. The prim white toga slid around her body with a life of its own, reshaping itself into a shimmering drape of a dress that clung to al her luscious curves. Two revealing slits ran up the length of the dress on either side, flashing her shapely legs from foot to thigh. Magical, invisible hands uncoiled her hair until it hung loose and wild to her waist. The manipulative, dangerous gleam that Ari had come to know was back in Lilif’s dark eyes, the familiar cruel twist returned to her ful lips as she sneered at the space where White had just minutes ago been standing. “Just like your father, White. In more ways than you’l ever realize.”

Before Ari had time to even attempt to work out Lilif’s meaning the sand exploded in a scream al around them and Lilif’s voice joined its whine. Grains sliced into Ari’s skin and eyes, and she slapped at the attacking desert with useless heavy arms.

Claustrophobia gripped her chest and Ari slammed forward reaching for air, her eyes opening into the dark of the unfamiliar bedroom suite. Heart pounding, Ari slumped with relief as pale light from the huge moon outside the balcony iluminated the iron-framed bed she was in, as wel as the Moroccan iron screen and matching furniture.

Mount Qaf.

The momentary relief evaporated as she remembered.

Dalí.

The Gleaming King.

Charlie. His trial.

Her fingers curled into the light silk comforter. Her uncle, The Red King, had put her in one of the rooms within his quarters of the palace. Despite his proximity, Ari stil feared being within the Sultan Azazil’s home in Mount Qaf. Corridors away from him. Only corridors away from Lilif’s dangerous and enigmatic twin, Asmodeus.

But only a room away from Jai. Her shoulders relaxed from their position by her ears and gradualy the rest of her began to unwind. She lay back down to stare at the ceiling and wondered if she should feel guilty that Jai’s presence could bring her such comfort when miles beneath the palace Charlie was locked up in a dungeon awaiting his trial tomorrow?

Awaiting the trial that would determine whether he lived or died.

Ari already knew the outcome.

There was no way in hel she was letting her best friend die. No way.

No matter what.

1 -
I’m a Mountain Against the Wind

 

Faling back to sleep was impossible. Ari didn’t even know how she’d managed it in the first place.

She watched, huddled on her bed, as the moon drifted further away and the sky lightened. The winter sun began to play peek-a-boo over the mountains, the

emeralds waking up under its playful gaze.

Finally,
Ari breathed inwardly, hopping out of bed. She hurried into the colorful bronze, blue and gold Moroccan tiled bathroom, rushing through a luxurious shower and blow-drying her hair with a hairdryer that looked surprisingly like the one she’d left back in Ohio. The Red King certainly wanted her to feel at home. Wel, she never would, but she couldn’t help but feel grateful to her uncle for trying.

With adrenaline pulsing through her body, Ari rummaged through her smal bag for a clean pair of jeans and a tank top. The little gremlins she’d come to know and hate played kick-bal in her stomach as she concentrated.

 

Red,
she caled through the telepathy, somehow knowing he didn’t mind her being informal with him,
You there?

Two seconds later flames hissed to life at the doorway and The Red King stepped out of the
Peripatos
. His long, bright red hair was puled back into a braid that brushed the bottom of his spine, and he wore black leather trousers that laced up the side. His torso was bare, his powerful build making Ari uncomfortable as the muscles of his biceps rippled under the gold circlets around them as he moved towards her. She noted the thick gold cuffs around his wrist and the ruby studs in his ears. He was dressed to impress. He was dressed for the trial.

Red’s sharp, pale blue eyes flicked across her face, checking for… what? Injury? Sorrow? Concern? “Are you alright?”

Ari shook her head. “I want to see Charlie.”

“I already told you, you can’t.”

An ugly, unexpected flare of anger burned in Ari’s chest and she gulped hard trying to hold it back down. She needed to stay calm. “I just want to make sure he’s okay.”

Her uncle had begun to circle her and Ari hated that she stil felt intimidated when he did that. “You question my word? I assured you that he wil not be treated poorly. Don’t you believe me?” There was an edge to the questions and just as Red obviously disliked being questioned so did Ari.

The dark knot in her chest unfurled and she whirled around to face him, eyes blazing. Didn’t he realize she could command him to his knees? How dare he try to intimidate her? How dare he deny her the right to see Charlie?

How dare he—

“Ari?” Red gripped her upper arms, shaking her out of the coiling mist of rage that had enveloped her. She shuddered, coming back to herself, her breathing uneven.

Holy macaroons.

She’d let herself get lost in the power of the Seal. She’d promised them al she wouldn’t do that and Ari had been so sure she could keep that promise. It’s just—

“It’s getting stronger.” Red frowned, stepping back. “The Seal. It’s trying to push you to use it.”

Ari nodded numbly. She didn’t need this crap right now. “I’l try harder,” she whispered.

“You better. You need to have a handle on the darkness inside you, Ari. And the Seal is darkness. Never forget it.”

Ari remembered her dream, of Lilif’s teling of what would happen if too many threads were puled in the fabric of the universe’s entire existence. The Seal could pul a milion threads and bring it al crashing down. She couldn’t let that happen. “I promise. I can handle this. I promise,” she insisted, her strange eyes blazing for a different reason now.

Watching her carefuly, Red finaly nodded. “Fine. The trial wil begin in an hour. I’l come get you. You should probably make sure Jai is awake and then stay with him until I return.”

Once he was gone, Ari slumped down onto the bed. The Seal had taken over her so quickly that time. There was no build up, no threat to her, no reason. She’d been angry because Red wouldn’t give her, her own way. What the hel was that about? Groaning, Ari buried her head in her hands. This was the last thing they needed right now. She had to be stronger than this.

Shaking out her hands, Ari pushed up onto her feet and straightened her shoulders.

She
would
be stronger than this.

Telepathing Jai, Ari let him know she was coming to his room.

Good.
The deep rumble echoed around her head as she left her suite. Just that one word—the sound of his voice—and her pulse was jumping al over the place, the butterflies tickling her bely at the thought of seeing the face that went with the voice.

His door opened across the hal and Ari darted inside. His room was almost a mirror image of hers, except Jai (surprisingly) hadn’t made his bed yet. Ari felt her cheeks heat at the thought of him lying under the rumpled covers without a stitch of clothing on. She felt her insides turn to mush and mentaly berated herself, wiling the fire out of her cheeks as she turned to face her guardian. Jai leaned back against the closed door, staring at her with this intense smolder that re-ignited al the heat that she was trying to douse. He was wearing his usual uniform of a plain black t-shirt that sculpted his awesome upper body, and black jeans and wel-worn, short biker boots. Jai was pure casual sexiness—he was hot without even trying, and al Ari wanted to do was to jump on him and let the heat set her alight.

Guilt pricked her conscience as she remembered exactly why they were here.

Good morning.
Jai gave her a soft smile, his beautiful green eyes mesmerizing her. She felt dumbstruck for a moment. At her reaction, Jai’s soft smile turned into a cocky grin, bringing Ari out of her stupor.

Ari made a face at him and he laughed. She couldn’t help but smile at that. Jai rarely laughed and when he did it felt as if she’d dipped her toes into the warmest, most soothing bath ever.
Morning
.
They’d decided that while in Mount Qaf, it would be wiser to talk to one another telepathicaly whenever possible.

He took a purposeful step towards her and Ari waited, her breathing growing shalow. The rich, exotic scent of him seemed to swim around her in heady waves, and she could have sworn she swayed a little just before he reached for her. There was barely space between them as she tilted her head back to meet his gaze. She felt the tentative touch of his large, strong hands on her hips, kneading softly as if testing the new ground they were on. Ari’s breath fled her body at the expression on Jai’s face. No one had ever looked at her like that before, like she was precious and extraordinary.

Like she was everything.

His hands slid slowly up her hips and around her waist. Ari couldn’t help the shivers that rippled over her—shivers that made Jai’s eyes flash and his lips part with his soft exhalation.

Vaguely, Ari remembered that she shouldn’t be doing this. That there was something important to be done…

Jai’s head dipped towards hers and Ari trembled again, thoughts on overload in her brain. Jai’s mouth, his taste, his heat, the bed, the rumpled covers, Jai’s abs, his hands, a trial, danger, Charlie.

Oh crap, Charlie
.

She froze just as Jai’s lips were about to touch hers. He halted and puled back a little, a confused furrow between his eyebrows.
What?

Oh man, this wasn’t going to go over wel, but surely Jai wanted her to be honest with him?
I don’t feel right about us… doing anything while Charlie is in

trouble. Plus, The Red King said maybe we should keep our relationship under wraps for a while. I didn’t agree at first, but the more I think about it, I

think he might be right. People might try to use my feelings for you against me and vice versa.

Jai took a step back, letting go of her, and Ari immediately regretted speaking up. She wanted his lips back and his hands al over her. She wanted to pul his t-shirt off and put her hands al over
him
. But more than anything she wanted her possible boyfriend (oh God that word made her want to grin like an idiot) to stop looking at her like that. Like he was pissed.
So, you want us to pretend we’re not together?

Just in public.

He narrowed his eyes on her, the thick lashes almost obscuring the vivid irises.
We’re not in public.

But Charlie…

A dark cloud trembled over Jai’s face and he brushed past her, his anger trailing at the back of him like open flames. Ari winced and turned to face him. Okay, she wasn’t stupid. She knew that sounded bad.
This isn’t about me and Charlie, if that’s what you’re thinking.

Jai scoffed and refused to look at her, instead standing with his hands braced on the balcony railings as he looked out over the mountains. His brooding silence filed the room until Ari felt like she couldn’t breathe.

Great. Their first day as… whatever they were, and she’d already hurt him.

It’s not because I’m in love with him and feel like I’m betraying him,
she tried to explain.
It’s just, he’s here facing death because he saved someone’s

life, and I don’t feel like I should be allowed to be happy until I know he’s safe. And being with you… well, it makes me happy. Even with all this

going on.

Jai sighed and slowly turned his head to look at her.
You promise?

The question caused an ache inside of her. This was a side to Jai she’d never seen before. He realy was insecure about Charlie, and he couldn’t hide it anymore. He was making himself vulnerable to her.

Wow.

A rush of overwhelming love caved in on Ari’s chest and she struggled a moment to catch her breath. She had to reassure him somehow. He had to know how she

felt. Taking tentative steps toward him, Ari smiled with her eyes.
I told you I don’t think of Charlie that way anymore. And I also made it clear to him how I

feel about you.

Surprise lit his eyes and Jai straightened to his ful height, turning to face her. Just as quickly as the surprise had hit him, the spark of hope she saw in his eyes faded.

He glowered at her.
You told Fallon you’d die trying to save him here.

Realization dawned as she closed the distance between them. Ari had almost died to save Jai from an
Haqeeqah
—the essence of the emerald of Mount Qaf in its purest form, a weapon—and it was what had finaly made him realize how much Ari truly cared for him. Did he now think that, because she’d die for Charlie, it somehow meant the same thing?

Shaking her head, Ari reached up to touch his face, something she’d wanted to do almost from the moment she’d met him. Her fingers gently stroked his cheek, tracing his high cheekbones and lower to the firm, hard cast of his jaw-line. Instead of leaning into her touch as she’d dreamed he would, Jai tensed.
Jai,
she pleaded quietly,
if you hadn’t noticed, I’m a guts and glory kind of girl. I think I’d die trying to protect anyone I care about. It’s just the way I’m wired, I guess. I

would die trying to protect Charlie because I love him. He’s my family, and I don’t want to lose any more family.
She took another step so her body pressed flushed to him, her fingers faling to his lips. The sound of his shalow breathing emboldened her.
But Jai… I would die a hundred deaths to save you…

because the thought of being here without you now
,
the thought of losing you… is unimaginable.
Their eyes locked and heat bloomed in her cheeks as Jai pressed closer to her, his hand sliding across her lower back and gently guiding her even more tightly against him.
Jai, you have no idea how much I’ve fallen in

love with you. I don’t think a person could fall any harder.

His eyes widened, his lips parting with unspoken surprise. Suspended anticipation sprung between them and then immediately snapped at the sound of a loud knock at the door.

He hadn’t responded to her declaration.

Ari bit back a curse. Everyone was always interrupting them!

The door banged open before Jai could answer the knock, and to Ari’s utter shock, The White King stroled casualy into the room, his emerald robes bilowing at the back of him. The snap of fabric barely missed the one-eyed face of his monstrous Nisnas, Vadit, who trotted awkwardly behind him with his one arm and one leg.

Ari vividly remembered his attack with a wince…

She cut off into a silent scream as the monster launched into the air towards her, its mouth open wide. Ari threw her hands up to cover her face, closing
her eyes tight and waiting for her subconscious to rip her out of the nightmare. Instead she felt the impact of it hit, her body slamming to the floor with a
painful thud that knocked the breath right out of her. Her head smacked against the mirrored floor in eye-watering pain. A sharp streak of light shot across
her eyes and then she felt wet heat clamp down on her forearm.

Agony ricocheted through her whole system as the monster’s teeth tore through her flesh.

… Stunned at his flagrant disregard for his father’s wishes, Ari stood immobile as The White King eyed Jai blankly. “This is the Ginnaye?” he asked in his flat voice.

Jai was studying him carefuly; unaware who they were dealing with since he’d never actualy met The White King. Ari wanted to grip his hand and tug him behind her. Instead she sighed as if she were dealing with a mere nuisance rather than a powerful and dangerous immortal. Yeah, she was going to take a leaf out of dear old dad’s book and play the game his way. “Jai, this is The White King.”

His Ginnaye instincts had him moving with reflexes so fast Ari was only just quick enough to pul him back to her, as Vadit let out a string of rumbling warning growls.

“Vadit, hush,” The White King commanded as he held up a beseeching hand to Jai. “I just want to converse,” he promised smoothly.

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