Fear the Heat...
Ari Johnson wishes adjusting to living with her boyfriend was her only source of excitement and anxiety.
She wishes a lot of things.
But then wishing was what got her here in the first place.
Ari chose to be a Guild Hunter. She wanted to hunt dangerous Jinn and destroy them before they could harm innocent people. But now that Ari is a member of The Guild she finds herself in the impossible position of hunting her ex-best friend — human-turned-dangerous sorcerer, Charlie Creagh. As Ari struggles to come to terms with her duty, an ancient Jinn and his companion want revenge on her for using the command of the Seal against them and the White King refuses to give up on his quest to resurrect Lilif. Moreover... Asmodeus isn’t done toying with her.
When Ari can take no more, rushing to the Sultan Azazil’s side to demand of him the favor he owes her, the events she sets in motion will not only alter everyone’s lives, it will kindle a darkness that shakes the realms to the very core.
Darkness, Kindled. The final chapter in the Fire Spirits series.
To journey into the dark world of the Jinn, begin Ari’s story with book one of the Fire Spirits series, Smokeless Fire (ASIN: B005XP1VBY), available in Kindle and paperback.
Release date: April 20, 2013
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Print pages: 392
* BingeBooks earns revenue from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate as well as from other retail partners.
As Ari waited for his answer, she once again tried to ignore the blood splatter at the edge of her vision and the groans from the dying man strung up at the edge of the small room. Packed dirt was hard beneath her feet, the bare rock walls devoid of emeralds and glistening with dank moisture. Low light from candles scattered throughout gave it a gothic, sinister atmosphere. Damp earth, sweat, and the coppery scent of blood tingled Ari’s nose.
Her own blood rushed in her ears as she stared up at Azazil, awaiting his answer.
His black eyes narrowed on her, his thoughts impossible to discern. With a huge sigh, he looked away, his contemplation falling upon the man he had been torturing before Ari arrived. The Sultan wore no jewelry and his usual ostentatious style was muted—he wore only dark leather trousers and leather bands around his wrists. His muscled, naked torso was covered in blood and little bits of torn flesh. Ari dropped her gaze, feeling her stomach turn.
“I’ve laid out the consequences, Ari.” Azazil looked back at her now and that fist of anxiety twisted in her chest. “Are you sure you understand what I’m saying?”
She nodded. “I understand. Are you saying you’ll grant me the favor you owe me?”
His lip curled at the corner, his eyes glittering. “I should either kill you or applaud you for using the oath of a favor against me. This is no ordinary favor. It will affect us all … and I am unusually blind to the consequences. I see vague images that I cannot make sense of.” His features hardened. “All I can feel is that if I grant you this favor, something of great immensity will come to pass. Something that will affect my realm and the mortal one, not just me and you.”
His prophecy made her stop. It was one thing to suggest the possible consequences and another to prophesize an actual gigantic change. “In what way?”
“I told you I cannot know for sure.”
“So it could be good or bad?”
“Is anything ever just good or bad?”
The man at her side groaned again, and Ari winced. “I don’t suppose you’d let this guy go too as part of the favor?”
Azazil scowled. “I grant you this favor and I might not be able to do much of anything for a while.”
That in itself was reason enough to do it. Ari nodded. “Do it.”
The Sultan crossed his arms over his chest. “I don’t know whether to risk the consequences of breaking my oath to you or go along with this insanity.”
“I thought you liked insanity. It’s entertaining, right?”
That produced a slow, wicked grin from her grandfather. “This is true.” He dropped his arms and strode toward her, the majesty of his power threatening to blow her off her feet. “You win, Ari. I’ll grant you your favor.” He smirked. “Let the realms have mercy on us all.”
Ari, duck! Jai yelled telepathically, and Ari’s reflexes kicked in. She hit the floor, chin down, eyes raised as she watched the knife hiss through the air and embed itself in the wall inches from Jai’s head. Ari rolled onto her back and jarred her hands forward, palm outward, sending two bolts of defensive magic toward the Qarin. The nondescript Jinn whipped to the side to avoid Ari’s attack and stepped right into Jai’s magic. The handful of ember he’d sent, seconds after Ari’s, hit with the force of a freight train. The Qarin’s body lifted off the ground and slammed through the paper-thin wall of the house in small-town Milwaukee.
Ari scrambled to her feet.
“You okay?” Jai asked sharply. He strode past her, protectively placing his body in front of hers despite the countless times she’d asked him to stop doing that.
“I’m fine,” she muttered, brushing debris off her T-shirt.
Jai didn’t bother to spare her a look and Ari wasn’t surprised. Now wasn’t the time to try to figure out why his girlfriend was being pissy with him.
Michael told them his group hunting the doppelgänger Jinn of Sam Shepherd, the art teacher, had tracked him down after two months of searching. Ari and Jai had come after him and she’d used the time in close proximity to make it clear she was annoyed with her boyfriend. However, Jai hadn’t broached the subject of her one-word answers and heavy silence, and that only pissed her off more. That meant doppelgänger bitch was in for a world of pain if this didn’t end fast.
Ari and Jai had used the Peripatos to arrive at the coordinates the Guild Hunters had given them. That had been half an hour ago. With the human Sam Shepherd knocked out upstairs (Jai’s handiwork), they’d been playing hide, seek, and find, then hide, seek, and find again with the Qarin for too long, as far as Ari was concerned. She had two healing cuts—one on her forehead and a deeper cut along her ribs that hurt like hell. Jai, of course, was unscathed. The Qarin was playing with them, though, and Ari got the distinct feeling he was determined that Jai was going down with more than a simple cut.
Well, Ari was done playing.
She stopped alongside Jai to see the spot on the debris-littered floor where the Qarin should be.
It now lay empty.
“Shit,” Jai muttered, his jaw clenching. “I’m go—”
“Be quiet,” Ari snapped, ignoring Jai’s raised eyebrows. The excuuuse me? look on his face would’ve been comical if she weren’t so annoyed. Give me a minute, she tried to explain less tersely.
Ari closed her eyes. Back when she and Uncle Red had been on somewhat more stable ground, he’d told her that even without her abilities as the Seal, she was a powerful Jinn. Her mother, Sala, had been an old and potent Ifrit, and her father was the White King, one of the most powerful Jinn in existence. If Jinn were socialites, she’d be the Blair Waldorf of Mount Qaf, the Jinn Realm. Red had insinuated that it meant she hadn’t even tapped into the full scope of her abilities yet. Jai was trying to get her there with training. They’d been on a few hunts together where she’d discovered more and more about herself. It was time to unravel more, though. She’d seen her uncle sense Jinn located in another state, for Christ’s sake. Surely, she could find this jackass of a doppelgänger so she and Jai could do the unsavory task they’d come to do and get the hell out.
Ari focused. She felt the movement of the debris as it shifted against the soft breeze blowing in from an open window. She felt the air to her left dance sideways as Jai moved the tiniest bit; her senses latched onto his magic. She let the richness of his signature overwhelm her. Jai’s pull was unlike any other Jinn she’d ever felt. A full-blood and extremely strong guardian Ginnaye, Jai’s magic pulsed out in deep, throbbing waves. But unlike many, his had an all-encompassing, rich warmth that came from his natural protective instincts. He would either use that powerful energy to wrap you in its safety, or use it to destroy you.
Giving herself a slight shake, Ari pushed past Jai’s aura and felt through the dark memory of the house in her mind. She searched every corner, every nook, taking the stairs silently to the second floor.
In the upstairs bathroom.
Ari took a deep breath, her stomach suddenly churning with her decision.
The truth was she’d been playing with the Qarin as much as he’d been playing with her. Trying to stall.
The two hunts she’d been on had served as training more than anything. Jinn who merely needed to be tagged and moved on from the towns where they were misbehaving.
This was different.
The Qarin doppelgänger was to be her first kill.
Jai wanted to do it. He didn’t want this weight on her shoulders.
But who was Ari kidding? She was the daughter of a Jinn king who was on a mission to release from imprisonment the most dangerous being in all the realms; she’d barely spoken to her one ally (Red) in weeks; her best friend was an enemy of the state; and there was a certain ancient Marid—who happened to be the Sultan’s lieutenant—who’d been paying little visits to her dreams lately.
She was going to end up killing someone sometime in self-defense.
It looked like today was the first day in a new world …
Her magic tingled in her hand until she felt the knurled grip of the F-S fighting knife she’d chosen from Michael’s weapon cabinet.
She heard Jai’s indrawn breath seconds before she used the Peripatos. The flames flickered around her as she appeared in the bathroom, her eyes meeting the Qarin’s in the mirror—his wide, Ari’s blank.
The blade of her knife sunk in and up through his back and into his chest, powered by Ari’s Jinn magic and strength. A stab to the heart. She’d trained to do this on dummies.
It felt different stabbing through flesh and muscle.
His eyes widened in horror, blood trickling from the corner of his mouth.
And then his body relaxed, slack, tumbling to the floor like a puppet without a master.
The bloody knife fell from Ari’s hand, clattering to the tiled floor as she stared at the dead Jinn. She stood frozen for a moment, staring down at the body and the pool of blood gathering around it. She’d killed someone. Her stomach lurched.
Stumbling over his body, Ari grabbed for the sink, her hands braced on either side as the cold nausea climbed through her and she vomited the horror of what she’d done.
She felt his energy before she felt his hands brushing the loose strands of hair back from her face. “Baby,” he whispered hoarsely, his breath warm on her ear.
Ari turned the cold tap, fingers shaking, and though she barely felt its coolness, she dipped her mouth under and drank. Then she splashed water on her face and straightened, leaning back into Jai’s chest.
“I told you I’d do it. I’ve done it before. You didn’t need to.”
She gave a slight shake of her head, trying not to flinch as she felt the slice of the blade through the Qarin’s chest again. She’d been nervous about assassinating a bad guy. She’d just never realized that taking a life would affect her this much. She should have. “I’d have to do it eventually. I wanted to get it over with.”
Jai’s hands slid up her arms to curl around her biceps, holding her closer to him. “You did good.”
“Did I?” Ari asked.
He kissed her hair. “You wouldn’t be you if you didn’t feel this bad about it. Remember, he did a lot of terrible things to humans, Ari. Humiliating, horrifying, murderous things.”
She knew that. She knew she’d taken one less bad guy off the street. Ari just needed her guilty conscience to play catch-up. Wincing at the sink, Ari turned around in Jai’s arms, his hands falling to her hips to keep her close. “Don’t tell anyone I upchucked, okay?”
“No one would think less of you.”
“Still … don’t.” Michael and Caroline might accept her but some of the other Guild Hunters were still wary. She needed to prove herself to them. If they found out she’d vomited after her first kill … well … she didn’t know what they’d think.
“I won’t tell anyone,” Jai assured her, but the muscle in his jaw flexed. “You’ve got nothing to feel ashamed of. Assassination isn’t in their job description, so most of them have no idea what it feels like to take a life. They have no right to judge you.”
No longer pissed off at him, Ari squeezed one of his hands gratefully. What Jai had said was true. The Guild Hunters were half-blood Jinn—half human, half Jinn, created by the Gilder King as a measure of balance against the evil Jinn. Guild Hunters could hunt and tag evil Jinn, but if they ever killed one, the Law Makers on Mount Qaf would know and would bring them to be tried. Unfairly, on Mount Qaf, it was a crime punishable by death for a half-breed to kill a full-blooded Jinn. It was also proclaimed that full-bloods weren’t allowed to kill one another either without facing trial, but Red had slipped that that wasn’t a law created by the Law Makers, and trials were only held every now and then to discourage infighting.
That meant Michael Roe, the leader of the Roe Guild of Hunters, had in his possession three full-blooded Jinn—Ari, Jai, and Jai’s best friend Trey. When Charlie went AWOL after killing Akasha (the Labartu who’d murdered his little brother), Ari decided joining the Guild with Jai and Trey was the best move forward. Michael decided he liked the idea of having Hunters in his Guild who could assassinate a bad guy for once. He’d also told them Charlie was a priority kill now that he was a wacko Sorcerer with a dangerous piece of Mount Qaf emerald powering his juice. To Ari’s everlasting relief, Charlie had gone underground these last two months and none of the Guilds could find him. She hoped he stayed there.
“You’re right.” Ari replied, her smile wan. “I did them a favor. Who gives a crap what they think?”
“Good.” Jai nodded, his expression hardening again. “Now let me clean up this guy, call the Guild to come take care of the human Sam Shepherd, and then we can get you home. How’s the rib?”
Ari looked down at the Qarin, her stomach feeling a little steadier. “It’s healing. I’m … okay.”
To Ari’s relief, she and Jai were kept busy cleaning up the mess, handing human Sam Shepherd over to the rest of the Guild to brief him before sending him back into the human world. Then she and her boyfriend had to return to Michael’s to debrief him on the situation. Talking it out helped her deal with the immensity of what she’d done. Michael’s eyes grew fatherly and concerned when he learned Ari was the one who did the killing, and Ari wanted to ask what the hell he was playing at. He wanted her to assassinate Jinn, and when she did, he went soft on her about it? It was nice that he was concerned … but also confusing.
Ari didn’t say anything, though. After losing his daughter Fallon in Charlie’s war against the Labartu, Ari hadn’t the heart to call him out on his convoluted leadership skills with her.
Caroline fed them while they gave Michael the rundown. When it was over, they sent Ari and Jai on their way with another concerned look. The fact that Ari had chosen to shack up with Jai and Trey in the house they’d bought a couple of blocks away from Michael’s worried them. Yeah, Ari was eighteen and legally could make her own decisions, but they were worried what their other employees might think of a young girl living with two extremely hot, slightly older men.
They could think what they wanted.
Trey was one of her best friends now. And Jai, well … Jai was being weird.
Hence, the pissiness earlier.
Still shaken from the day’s ordeal, Ari was too exhausted to deal with her frustration regarding Jai. They entered the quiet four-bedroom house and immediately sensed Trey wasn’t home. Not surprising. With him serving as a combat instructor for the Guild—and because he was Trey and blessed with an abundance of charm—he’d made friends easily among the Hunters and was probably out at a bar with a few of the guys.
“You should eat,” Jai told her as she headed toward the wide staircase.
Dragging herself upstairs, she shook her head. “I’m not hungry.”
“I’ll eat in the morning.” She turned around at her door. Her bedroom was down the hall from Trey’s and directly across the hall from Jai’s.
The root of her exasperation with him?
When they’d moved in two months ago, Ari had been touched by Jai’s thoughtfulness when he opened the door to the largest bedroom in the house and said it was all hers. By giving her her own bedroom, he was telling her he wasn’t pressuring her into having sex, or forcing their relationship to move too fast. It was thoughtful and considerate and so sweet.
But two months of barely there kisses from him and no sneaking into her bedroom at night was driving her insane! Okay, so the kisses weren’t anything to scoff at, but anytime things got too heated, he’d back off and tell her to go to bed like she was a kid. There had been none of the good stuff like what happened months ago on Mount Qaf after Charlie’s trial. He’d barely freaking touched her since, and she was beginning to feel like a not-so-hot leper.
The gentle touch of Jai’s knuckles stroking her jawline brought her out of her fog. She took hold of his hand, her eyes catching his. His were searching, worried about her. She felt a rush of love, lust, and confusion.
And she wasn’t in the mood to deal with it.
She’d killed an evil Jinn. Boyfriend trouble would have to take a back burner for the night. “I’ll see you in the morning.” She pulled away from him, dropping his hand.
“Hey.” His fingers gripped her bicep a little tighter as he eased her back toward him. Jai frowned down at her. “You need me to stay with you tonight?”
Tonight of all nights, he asks? When I’m so exhausted I can barely stand?
Ari shook her head, biting back her frustration. “I just want to sleep. I’ll be fine.”
His strong fingers flexed around her arm and he stepped closer until his chest was brushing hers. He gave her a rueful, unsure smile that didn’t quite eliminate the vulnerable expression in his gorgeous eyes. “Can I get a kiss goodnight at least?”
An ache throbbed in her chest and Ari felt her lips curl softly at the corners. “For future reference, that’s a question you never have to ask me.”
Jai’s smile deepened, melting Ari’s insides. “Good to know,” he murmured against her mouth before softly pressing his to hers. She expected it to be sweet and short. Instead it was … emotional.
Jai held her to him, his hand wrapped around her nape. Ari let her lips fall open as Jai brushed his back and forth over hers, his tongue teasing her lips before licking inside—light, quick strokes against her tongue that made her breath catch and caused the weariness to flee. She arched her body into his and breathed him in, her heart accelerating at the hot taste of him.
But Jai refused to speed up the kiss. It was a seduction of deep strokes, teasing, nibbling, brushing … an imprint of him on her. A possessive kiss without the aggression. He was handling her gently but telling her she was his.
As he reluctantly pulled back, Ari’s hands fluttered to his chest, her eyes closed, her lips tingling and swollen. “I’ll see you in the morning,” he told her hoarsely, clearly as affected by the kiss as she was.
Ari sucked in a breath at the heat in his expression. There it was. Every time they reached the point in fooling around when his eyes got that scorching, I-want-to-ravish-you-like-a-dude-in-a-romance-novel look in them, Jai backed off.
With a predictability that was growing annoying, he took two steps back. “Night.”
She gave him a half-hearted smile and hurried into her bedroom. After a few seconds, she heard Jai’s footsteps move away and his door open and close. She sighed and flicked on the light.
The room Jai had given her was as beautiful as it was huge. A massive four-poster bed sat in the center, flanked by a large wardrobe, vanity table, and matching bedside cabinets. The furniture was modern chic with a twist of Morocco. She had her own bathroom and even a walk-in closet. He was trying to give her a home again, and for the most part, he was succeeding. But Ari was growing tired of that strange distance between them. It wasn’t just about sex. It was about his family. Every time she tried to talk to Jai about his dad keeping him locked in that bottle for the White King, he’d shut her down and tell her he was fine. She knew he wasn’t fine. How could you be fine after a momentous betrayal like that?
Head pounding, lids drooping, Ari decided tomorrow was a new day to worry about this stuff. Thankful she was too tired to dwell on the Qarin she’d assassinated, Ari clumsily stripped and reached for her new silk nightie. Once she’d slipped it on, she dove under the covers and snuggled her head deep into her pillow, smelling her own perfume on it. Comforted, she let the world disappear …
The water was still in the moonlit lake. The surrounding mountainous rocks provided privacy to the mystical cove. As soon as Ari took it in and felt the rough sand against her skin, she groaned. She’d been here before.
“Asmodeus,” she griped, spinning around from her seat in the sand to peer into the dark.
As expected, he melted out of the shadows, coming toward her wearing loose black pants, nothing on his upper body except for a bronze circlet around each strong bicep, his long dark hair flowing freely over his broad shoulders. Ari tore her eyes from his ripped physique and glared into his hauntingly beautiful face.
It was so unfair someone so psychotic was so fantastic looking.
Asmodeus smirked at her as he approached, his bare feet kicking the sand. Ari stood, scowling at the revealing white fabric he’d dressed her in. It showed a lot of cleavage and a lot of leg. Disgusted, she crossed her arms and tilted her head back to stare up at the handsome giant of a man.
“Stop messing with my dreams and let me out of here. For the hundredth time.”
His smile deepened, a flash of white teeth in the dark as he stepped around her, two fingers sliding down her arm.
Ari shivered and pulled away. “I’m serious.”
“I know,” he replied nonchalantly as he came to a stop.
“Why won’t you stop tormenting me?”
For the last two months, Prince Asmodeus had been ripping her out of her own dream world and pulling her into his. At first he’d been determined to know why she was impervious to the command of the Seal of Solomon, but he’d soon discovered that she was as clueless as he was. And Ari knew Asmodeus was clueless as to why the Seal did not work on him. He wouldn’t have been so desperate to seek answers from her otherwise.
Upon discovering she knew nothing, Asmodeus continued to keep returning her here. There seemed to be no purpose to these visits other than to tease and try to charm her, and occasionally threaten Jai’s life.
“I’m too tired for this. Every time you visit my dreams, I’m exhausted in the morning.”
A wicked glint entered his dark eyes. “I think if you’re going to be exhausted, you should be exhausted for a reason … and since the Ginnaye isn’t willing to accommodate you, I’d be more than happy to see to any of your … needs.”
“Not even in your dreams.”
Asmodeus chuckled and crossed his arms over his chest, studying her. As they stared at one another, his smile slipped. “You killed today.”
Ari flinched back from him. “How did you …?”
“I make it my concern to know.”
“You’re watching me?”
“Whenever I’m bored, yes.”
Disgusted, Ari shook her head. “You’re a creepy son of a bitch.”
His demeanor changed instantly from relaxed to bristling. “Be careful.”
A shot of fear tingled down her spine and she had to bite her lip to stop herself from saying something even more foolish.
Satisfied, he turned and sat in the sand, his arms dangling over his braced knees. “Sit.”
“You have no manners, you know that, right?” Ari grumbled as she lowered herself to the ground, keeping a careful distance between them.
The Marid sliced her an amused look. “Stop deflecting. You killed today.”
Ari sighed. “Yes, I did. Am I in trouble?”
“Not with me.”
“There is no one to care about the Qarin’s demise.”
Ari breathed a sigh of relief. “Well, that’s good to know.”
After a moment’s silence, Asmodeus picked up a small rock and with a flick of his wrist sent it skimming over the water. “You shouldn’t be doing it.”
“Working for the Guild?”
“Turning yourself into an assassin.”
Ari tried not to wince at the word. “Why? I’m doing good. I’m ridding the human world of evil Jinn.”
He raised an eyebrow. “Is that worth the loss of your purity?”
“I’m not pure, Asmodeus.”
“Your soul was clean, Ari. You’re marring it with this need to hunt Jinn.”
“It’s not a need,” she lied. “It’s a want. Even before all this …,” she gestured to her surroundings, “I was a high school graduate with a serious identity crisis. I didn’t know what I wanted out of life. I didn’t know where I fit in. Despite all the bad stuff that’s come with finding out who I am, at least I’ve also found my place in this world.”
“With the Ginnaye, assassinating Jinn?”
“With Jai, hunting bad guys.”
He grunted. “You are so naïve, it physically pains me.”
“Then stop pulling me into your dreams.”
Ari tried desperately to rein in her irritation. “What do you want, Asmodeus?”
His regard was dark and fathomless. Ari couldn’t stop her gaze from roaming his strong face. Black eyes framed by long lashes, tanned, unblemished skin, sharp cheekbones, a strong but straight blade of a nose, and a perfect mouth—a full lower lip and a slightly thinner upper lip. If a human were to meet him, they’d think Asmodeus was an exotic but young twenty-something, not a twisted, ancient Marid who’d been around for God knew how many centuries.
“Tonight I wanted to see how you were faring after your first kill.” Surprise shot through her, forcing her head back. He caught her reaction, eyes glittering. “I’m not playing games with you.”
Ignoring the curiosity writhing inside, Ari gave him a cynical smirk. “Whatever this is, can we at least be honest with one another?”
“Okay,” he nodded, “I like playing games with you. But I’m not playing a game tonight.”
Ari found herself confessing. “I was sick at first. It was horrible. I didn’t expect to feel so ashamed.”
“Jai reminded me of all the things the Qarin did. I feel proud I was strong enough to do something about it.”
“So no guilt?”
She looked away. “There will always be guilt, Asmodeus. I’m quickly learning to set it aside for the bigger picture.”
He shot her a narrow look and drew up to his feet. “That’s how it begins. Setting aside things for the bigger picture.”
Confused as she always was after one of their encounters, Ari stood too. “Why do you care?”
When he reached out a hand, Ari braced herself from flinching back, knowing from past experience that he didn’t take rejection lightly. His fingers brushed against her cheek. “I can’t decide whether I want you to change.”
She scowled at him. “I don’t think that’s really any of your business.”
At the sudden dark heat and annoyance in his bearing, Ari tensed, her breath catching as he leaned into her, his mouth brushing her ear. “I’m making it my business.”
Ari’s lids flew open and she struggled to draw breath, panting with fear and something else as she stared up at her dark bedroom ceiling. She turned onto her side, pulling the covers tightly around her. She didn’t know what to do about Asmodeus. She hadn’t told Jai he’d been visiting her dreams. She hadn’t told anyone. But Ari knew his increasing attention was a worry and the only person she wanted to tell was Uncle Red. He’d know what to do. But it depended on whether Red wanted to talk to her … and if he would help her if he did.
The I That I Am Is Not Me
Emotionally exhausted, Ari managed to drift back to sleep, but her conscience couldn’t seem to rest. She woke at 6 a.m., an hour earlier than usual. Mouth dry, Ari shuffled sleepily out of her room to fetch a glass of water from the kitchen. It would’ve been easy enough to conjure one, but Trey and Jai had been raised to use their Jinn abilities when it mattered, or when it was the only convenient solution. Otherwise, they lived their lives like humans. It was partly an attitude—the Ginnaye believed using Jinn magic for everyday living was lazy—and partly about living as a human so they wouldn’t slip up in front of one.
Tired gaze to the floor, Ari was about to hit the stairs when Trey’s bedroom door opened. She glanced up, and stopped at the sight of a huge, gorgeous, blue-haired guy wearing jeans and a slim-cut T-shirt. “Glass?” she said loudly, more than a little shocked to see him there. It wasn’t that she didn’t know the Glass King—aka one of her uncles, aka an all-powerful, scary Jinn king—was seeing Trey romantically, it was that she’d never seen him in the vicinity of Trey’s room before.
It caused her a note of panic on behalf of her friend. She didn’t want Trey to get too deeply involved in the dangerous world of Jinn royalty, but he seemed smitten with his new boyfriend. And frankly more alarming was the face that Glass seemed completely into Trey.
Glass raised a finger to his lips, hushing her, and she winced apologetically. He gestured to the stairs and Ari hustled down them, feeling the potency of the Jinn behind her but not hearing his movements at all. She entered the kitchen in the back of the house, a huge space with an island in the middle and a large dining table on the far left. Sliding doors opened out onto a decent-sized backyard.
“Would you like some water?” she asked politely, pulling a chilled bottle of water out of the fridge.
Glass shook his head. “I will get myself a coffee.”
This was so weird.
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