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Mine - Jai's P.O.V. 'Scorched Skies (Fire Spirits #2)' the Club Scene

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Mine
(Jai’s P.O.V from ‘Club Scene’ of SCORCHED SKIES (FIRE SPIRITS #2)

Jai still couldn’t believe he was letting this happen, that his father was letting this happen. He
paced along the checkered reception hall of his parent’s home, wondering what devil (other than
Trey) had climbed inside Luca’s mind to convince him that sending Ari prematurely on
assignment wasn’t an exceptionally bad idea. He was hoping it would go smoothly, considering
the British actress they were working for tonight was Jennifer Hadley and her experienced
security team was going to be outside the club the whole time. He and Ari just had to keep
Jennifer and her boyfriend, Chris, company inside, watching the crowds for anything suspicious.
Hell, it better be that easy.
At the sound of footsteps descending towards him, Jai glanced up towards the stairs.
And felt the impact of the vision before him like a punch in his gut.
Ari was a beautiful girl. Wearing a t-shirt, jeans, and no makeup, she was a beautiful girl. Not
the kind of beautiful that some people found beautiful. The kind of beautiful that just was. No
argument. No denying it. She was beautiful.
Tonight she’d taken it to another level and added an alarming amount of sexy to her beautiful.
She’s eighteen, Jai reminded himself. The reminder did him little good as he watched her
descend towards him in a short, strapless red dress that revealed the longest, shapeliest legs he’d ever seen, and clung far too tightly to all her slender curves. Looking like that, Jai didn’t see an
eighteen year old. He just saw a beautiful young woman who was fierce, powerful, loyal and
brave. Mine, a voice growled inside him as she came to a stop. Mine. He wanted to tell her that
she looked gorgeous but was stopped by Ari’s soft smile. Her eyes were bright with delight as
she studied his reaction to her appearance.
Great. That look in her eye was like a splash of cold water, abruptly reminding Jai that she
wasn’t his and she never could be. Jai sighed inwardly. Stop giving her the wrong idea.
Deciding against reacting verbally to her appearance, but still struggling to control said
reaction, Jai asked hoarsely, “You ready?” while he handed over her fake I.D.
Fake I.D.
Right. She wasn’t even old enough to get into the club. In that dress she looked old enough.
Old enough for a lot of things...
Jai decided he both loathed and loved that dress.
Realizing Ari still hadn’t responded, he looked down into her face and found her frowning at
him.
“What?”
Ari shrugged, her expression instantly clearing. “I’m bringing Ms. Maggie, I hope you don’t
mind.”
Jai didn’t think that’s what had caused the frown but at this point he wanted some distance
from her, and that included not asking her about whatever was going on in that busy brain of
hers. “Fine. Extra protection, I guess.” He turned on his heel. “We’re driving. You could use the
break from the house.”
“No Peripatos?” she asked, following him.
“I like driving.” That was true. He did like driving. But he soon realized his mistake twenty
minutes into the drive.
It was damn uncomfortable. Not the beauty that he was driving (his father’s SL Roadster, and
one of Jai’s personal favorites), but the beauty sitting next to him. He didn’t want to speak and
clearly Ari didn’t know what to say. It didn’t help that every five seconds he saw her out of the
corner of his eye tugging the hem of her dress down. That flash of thigh, the continued attention
her movements drew to her legs caused images to burn through Jai’s brain before he could stop
them. Ari in that dress, waiting for him on his bed. His hand sliding up the back of her calf,
stroking her skin as his fingers brushed higher…
He felt Ari’s eyes on him and he clenched his fists around the steering wheel, feeling the
tension thicken between them, both of them perfectly aware that the only thing on their mind
wasn’t the assignment but… sex.
Jai winced. He hadn’t been with a woman in a while. He should do that. Take a quick break
from Ari. His eyes slid back over to her, her face in profile as she stared out at the ocean.
Longing gripped tight to his chest, longing like he’d never felt before, and he knew (no matter
that she would never be his) while she was in his life there would never be anyone else.
Shit.
Relieved as hell to reach the hotel, Jai breathed a little easier as he met with Ms. Hadley’s
security team, the seriousness of the assignment taking his mind off his partner for the evening.
His focus was on keeping Ari, Jennifer and Chris safe. They arrived at the club and as the
paparazzi started snapping photos of Jennifer with Ari, Jai immediately used his magic to erase
their memory cards. Damn Luca for not thinking this through. Ari being here meant he couldn’t
focus entirely on the assignment because he was focusing on keeping her out of the clutches of
The White King and the asshole Dalí. He scowled, adding another black mark against his father
as he followed his assignments into the club.
They were stopped by a skinny businesswoman who simpered while she spoke to Jennifer. Jai
eyed her carefully, checking out her I.D. Once he was assured she was the club manager, he
allowed her to show them their way to the VIP table. His eyes did a quick recon. Two exits north
of the bar, one on the east wall, and the entrance they’d just come in. There were about two
hundred people in the club, and Jai scanned as many faces as he could, searching for anyone who
didn’t look like they belonged. Most of the faces were familiar since the club was full of
celebrities. Many of them watched Jennifer’s entrance into the club, and more unsettlingly a lot
of the guys were watching Ari, wondering who she was. Many of them were admiring, some
sleazy, and some just asking to be punched.
She should not have worn that dress.
The manager led them to a VIP section, a table and curved sofa that was separated from the
rest of the club by a wrought-iron railing. Jennifer and Chris stepped up into the area, sliding into
their seats, and Jai closed in behind Ari, his hand falling to her lower back to guide her in. He did
it unthinkingly - trying to send a message to the guys who’d been watching her - and now his
hand was burning from the feel of her. They sat down next to Jennifer and Chris, and Jai slid his
arm along the back of Ari’s seat, his body language clear to every other guy in here. She came
here with me. Back off.
A waiter appeared as soon as they were seated and Jai gave him the once over. He seemed
nervous which immediately alerted Jai. On closer inspection, however, Jai saw the worried
glances he kept shooting the manager who was standing off to the side, pretending not to hover.
Clearly, the waiter was nervous about doing his job well. He’d probably even been warned. The
club manager looked the type.
Jai curled a lip. He hated bullies.
“What can I get you?” the waiter asked.
“I’ll have a Glenlivet and ginger ale.” Jennifer smiled up at him. Jai liked Jennifer enough.
She seemed cool, didn’t have any pretentious airs. Her boyfriend Chris seemed alright too - a salt
of the earth kind of guy.
“Same here,” Chris added.
The waiter turned to Ari, and Jai answered prudently before she could, “Water for us.”
“So how did you two get into the security business?” Jennifer asked as soon as the waiter was
gone.
No. The actress might be nice but they weren’t doing this. No conversation. He needed to
keep focused. “Family business,” he answered shortly, hoping his tone would mean the end of
the discussion.
“Oh. You two are siblings?”
“No,” Ari answered immediately, clearly as appalled by the idea as he was. He was just better
at hiding his feelings. Ari let hers hang out there for everyone to see. Jai really wished she’d stop
doing that because it just made it harder for him not to accidentally hurt her.
He shot her a look, trying to silently communicate this, and then he answered Jennifer with a
lie. “Our fathers are friends and colleagues.”
“How long have you been security officers?”
How long is this night going to last? “A while.”
“Do you like it?”
At this moment? No. “Yes, ma’am.”
To Jai’s relief, after a few more questions Jennifer finally got that he wasn’t in a talkative
mood. She turned to her boyfriend and they started having an intimate conversation, their bodies
curling into one another.
Feeling the tension return between him and Ari, Jai hoped that intimate conversation didn’t
turn into actual intimacy. The last thing they needed was a side show.
Ten minutes later his hopes were dashed as Jennifer and Chris started making out. He knew
exactly when Ari noticed because her whole body tensed. He turned his head slightly to watch
her, her eyes skipping over the couples’ wandering hands. She fidgeted uncomfortably and Jai
couldn’t help but smirk humorlessly. If he needed any proof that anything happening between
him and Ari was a bad idea, this was it. She was embarrassed by a couple making out.
Sensing his gaze, Ari looked at him and even though five seconds later she was glaring at his
smirk, Jai caught the look that had been in her eye and stiffened. She wasn’t embarrassed
Jennifer and Chris were making out. She was uncomfortable… because it was turning her on.
Oh hell.
Jai nearly hung his head, praying for someone to deliver him from temptation, when a
drunken voice shouted, “hey!”
A tall, baby-faced guy was peering in at Ari through the railings. “You wanna dance, pretty
girl.”
You wanna keep your nose where it is, pretty boy? Jai slid his arm down around Ari’s silky,
bare shoulders and pulled her into him. “Beat it,” he growled in warning.
The punk disappeared into the crowds and Jai let her go, just stopping himself from pushing
her soft body from his like a third-grader with a crush. At the half-hopeful, half-confused look in
her eye, Jai opted for a cold explanation, “We can’t leave our post.”
He felt her hurt and looked away sharply, not needing to witness the effect of his jackassery
on her.
“You know,” Jennifer called to them loudly over the music, “I want to dance.” She hauled
Chris to his feet and grinned mischievously down at Jai. “I guess that means you two better join
us.”
Jesus, if it wasn’t Trey matchmaking it was someone else. Maybe it was time to send a memo
out. Jai and Ari = guardian and client. Nothing more. Ever.
But he was still going to have to dance with her. Great. He couldn’t help the reluctant sigh
that fell from between his lips as he stood, waiting on Ari joining him. She slowly got up, but
wouldn’t meet his gaze and he felt another pang of remorse. He was being a jerk.
Needing to reassure her (even though it was an incredibly bad idea) and wanting to keep her
close as they moved through the club, Jai grabbed Ari’s hand, pulling her ahead of their clients
so he could watch the crowds. His eyes constantly returned to Jennifer and Chris, and the people
around them. So far, so good.
Scowling and emitting seriously annoyed energy, Jai managed to clear a space for them on the
dance floor and positioned himself and Ari close to Jennifer and Chris. Not needing any extra
frustration or hassle, he held Ari gently at the waist and kept a good distance between their
bodies. Like this, he could stay focused, and he did, his eyes constantly moving over the club,
through the throngs of dancers.
Two hands slapped his shoulders, startling him out of his concentration. Jai scowled down at
Ari as her head whipped around from staring at a giggling Jennifer, to glare up at him. What was
going on with her now? Dammit, he did not need this. “What?”
To his surprise, Ari tugged his head down with a surprising amount of strength, her lips
brushing his ear as she demanded, “Dance with me properly, or I’m going to kick you in the
nuts.”
Taken aback, Jai couldn’t help but chuckle at her words, his arms automatically tightening
around her waist to draw her closer. It was a bad idea, he knew that as soon her soft body pressed
against his and her head rested on his shoulder, but Ari had a way of charming you with her
honesty. That was one of the things he liked best about her. He always knew what she wanted.
He just wished she didn’t want him. It would make this a helluva lot easier on him.
At the touch of her fingers stroking his nape, Jai had to repress a shudder. She smelled great.
She felt great. And he felt as though he were about to burst out of his skin with frustration.
“We’re here to work,” he reminded her gruffly, his hope being that it would also be a
reminder to himself. “Not dance.”
We can do both, she replied using telepathy, her voice teasing but insistent.
With an inward sigh Jai decided to give her that, I’ll keep an eye on the happy couple. You
watch the crowds.
Yes, Sir.
He snorted. There was that smart mouth again.
Jai didn’t know how it happened. One minute he’d been doing his job, watching… but his
brain and body couldn’t shut her out. All he could smell was her, could feel her soft hair under
his chin, her fingers stroking the skin at the base of his neck, her curves brushing against him
from chest to thigh.
He might be a pretty powerful Ginnaye… but he was also still just a guy.
She felt amazing. She felt right.
And as he skimmed his hand down her slender back, following the gently sloping curve to rest
his hand possessively on her hip, his other hand trailing in its wake to stop on her lower back and
trace circles there, Jai had never been more convinced of that fact. She felt right. This felt right.
She was his.
Mine.
His hand automatically gripped her hip tight, pulling her to him as his conscience did its best
to convince him. She trembled a little in his arms, letting him know she felt it too.
God… this was torture, Jai exhaled heavily against her ear, nearly groaning his frustration
aloud.
“You ready for another drink?” Jennifer’s voice pierced their bubble and brought Jai back to
reality with a crashing, thawing thump.
Shit.
He pushed Ari away from him, ignoring Jennifer’s questioning smile and Ari’s confused
silence. What the hell was he doing? Was he trying to mess her up? Furious at himself and the
sudden disappearance of his world-renowned self-control, Jai led them back to the table,
deciding it best not to even look at Ari.
He was supposed to be on a job, not lusting after an eighteen year girl who was more lost and
confused than he’d ever been, and that was saying something. Crap. Jesus. What the hell…
Jai tried to shake off his annoyance, but it was hard with his Achilles Heel sitting right next to
him looking like he’d slapped her.
He heard her voice sigh in his head before she said, I need to go to the bathroom.
Great.
Jai studied her face a moment to see if she could hold it in but by the way she was scrunching
up her nose and wriggling a little in her seat like a little girl, he was doubting it. He eyed the
empty glasses of water on the table. Damn, she was such a rookie at this. He shot her a warning
look. Be quick. I don’t like the idea of you wandering alone. Too many wandering hands out on
that dance floor.
I have Ms. Maggie, she tried to assure him.
Ah yeah, the poltergeist that didn’t seem to like him much. But the Ifrit was protective of Ari
so… Jai gave her a sharp nod, and she practically bolted out of there.
Jennifer and Chris were back to ignoring him. Jai couldn’t say he blamed them. He wasn’t
exactly Mr. Conversation. It didn’t bother him. He wasn’t paid to be nice or liked. He was paid
to keep people alive. Speaking of…
Jai’s eyes darted through the dark of the club. Ari was taking a while. Had she fallen down the
toilet? He sighed in annoyance as his conscience told him she was probably pulling herself
together after he’d got her all hot and bothered on the dance floor.
Asshole.
He was so going to kill Trey for this when he got back to the house.
Jai’s spine stiffened at the sudden chill that rippled over him. The trace. Ari?
“Jai?” Jennifer asked softly and he turned back to find her frowning in concern. “Everything
okay?”
He was just about to turn to her when a low, female voice echoed loudly in his head, The
White King has Ari locked in the ladies restroom!
Jai’s heart stuttered at Ms. Maggie’s message, his fists curling with fear. “I’ll be right back,
stay here,” he ordered the couple and then he was moving as fast as he could without appearing
less than human, pushing through the dancers, his face dark with intent so they’d sidestep him.
Finally, he turned down the corner to the toilets, and poured all his energy into his feet,
moving down the corridor like the wind and slamming up against the door so that the wood
cracked with impact. “ARI!” He roared through the wood, his fists, lit with magic, pummeling
into it. What if he was too late? What if he…
Shaking off the panic, Jai took a step back and a deep breath. He glanced behind him to make
sure he was alone and then he flooded all of his magical energy into his right leg, his jeans
glowing. With a primal growl, he pulled back his knee and then slammed his foot forward
against the wood, blowing the door almost off its hinges. Without another thought, Jai skidded
into the bathroom, his eyes seeking her out.
Relief flooded him.
Ari stood alone, face pale, eyes wide as she stared at him, trembling from head to toe. She
was terrified. Impotent fury rushed through him and Jai clenched his jaw at the same time he
slammed the bathroom door shut and locked it. She was still shaking. He hurried over to her, the
blood rushing in his ears at the thought of what could have happened to her. It made his gut
churn and chest burn with fear. In fact he’d never felt fear like it. “Are you okay? Was he here?”
Holding her hands out to reassure him, Ari sighed. “He’s gone, I’m okay. How did you know?
I didn’t telepath.”
No but you should have!
His eyes narrowed in anger as he searched her body for injury. She was in one piece. “Just as
I felt a warning in the trace, Ms. Maggie spoke to me telepathically.”
If he didn’t have the trace… if Ms. Maggie hadn’t warned him. Shit. The White King could
have done anything to her. She would have been gone. He’d never have been able to talk to her
again… or touch her…
He was a mess. An effed up, confused mess because all that mattered in that moment was that
she was okay, not that he wasn’t supposed to want her. For now he was with her… and he could
touch her. His eyes dipped to her trembling lips, and need fisted in his gut.
Nothing else mattered.
There was too much space between them.
Without thinking about it or the consequences, Jai’s arms shot out of their own accord and he
tugged her roughly into his arms so he could hug her and assure himself that she was safe with
him. The familiar feel of her against him only sharpened the need and his hold tightened, his
heart pounding so hard they both could hear it.
He felt Ari squeeze him back. “I’m okay,” she reassured him softly. “He just wanted to mess
with my head. I didn’t do anything. I didn’t command him. It was hard, but I didn’t, I
promise…”
“Ssh,” Jai hushed her instantly, not wanting her to worry that he thought she’d be reckless
enough to do that. Ari was honest and sometimes impulsive, but she was smart, and unlike some
people she had a lot of self-control. She amazed him. “I know. I’m proud of you.”
He heard her breathing change - it became ragged as she pulled back to gaze up at him.
Everything was there in her eyes. Her gratitude, her relief… her desire. Jai’s eyes dipped to her
mouth again. One taste. One taste wouldn’t be so bad…
She tried to take a step back and Jai’s hands tightened around her. He didn’t want her to go
yet… he hadn’t had time…
“Jai-”
His control snapped.
He hauled her up against him, his lips crushing down over hers, satisfaction slamming
through him at the taste of her. She melted instantly against him, her arms wrapping around him,
her mouth opening to let him deepen the kiss, his tongue teasing hers mercilessly. And that
instant surrender to him was like throwing tinder on the fire. He wanted closer. He wanted inside
of her, so deep inside of her she’d never get him out.
At the sound of her gasp in his mouth, Jai nearly expired on the spot. He wasn’t close enough.
Pushing her against the counter, finesse, gentleness, it all was burned out by the blazing heat is in
his blood. Jai gripped her hips and easily lifted her onto the counter so he could insinuate himself
between her legs, long legs that immediately wrapped themselves around him, drawing him
closer. His fingers dug into her hips, as he nudged against her, groaning deep at the pleasure that
rippled through him from the tease. The first time he’d kissed her there was a spark - a spark
between two strangers, and it had made him cautious. Confused him. So he hadn’t really taken
the time to enjoy the taste of her. Now he was going to enjoy it.
Damn, the girl could kiss, he thought as she licked at his mouth, her pace slowing and
drawing him into something deeper, more languorous… sexy as hell. At the feel of her hands on
his chest, Jai pulled back. He wanted to feel her too. With his lips. He kissed her jaw, tasting her
skin. Was it possible to be addicted to a person? he wondered vaguely, his brain a fog of mush,
now that another part of his body was controlling him. Jai squeezed her harder to him as he
trailed soft, lush kisses down her neck until he came to her bare shoulder. That naked skin had
been teasing him all night. He bit it softly.
She whimpered, the sound full of need.
It was like a kick in the gut.
Jai was done with patience.
She was his and he was having her now.
His hand clasped her nape, drawing her head back so he could look into her flushed face, her
eyes bright. She wanted this too. She wanted him…
He pulled her roughly against his mouth, his kiss deeper than even before, his body pushing
into hers as her legs climbed his hips. Those legs drew his attention. He wanted to touch her, see
for himself how soft the skin at the top of her thighs was-
CRASH!
The door slammed open.
Instinct had him throwing his body from her and then shielding her, his chest rising and
falling as he struggled to get his breath back. There was no one there.
Jai shot a wide-eyed look at Ari only to find her staring back at him with a mirror-image
expression on her face.
“It’s Ms. Maggie,” she informed him hoarsely.
Ms. Maggie? Why…? Jai’s gaze travelled over Ari. Her flushed cheeks, her lidded, dark eyes,
swollen mouth, the hem of her dress indecently high… Ms. Maggie had interrupted them before
he did something he’d regret.
Shit.
Hell.
What had he almost done? Dammit, he could have lost everything just because he couldn’t
keep it in his pants! He’d have lost Ari, his reputation, his fragile relationship with his father…
What the hell had he been thinking? Clearly he hadn’t. And Ari… she wasn’t helping him! He’d
told her they weren’t anything more than friends and she kept looking at him…
Shit! It wasn’t her fault.
She was an innocent. He was the grown-up. The Ginnaye. And for the first time in his life he
was failing at what he did best. He groaned, rubbing a hand over his head as his taut, frustrated
body warred with his self-flagellating mind. “That shouldn’t have happened.”
Ari’s wounded eyes ripped him apart, and watching her struggle to pull down the hem of a
dress he’d almost gotten her out of, made him feel like the worst piece of crap. And that just
made him angrier than anything could. Was he becoming what his stepmother Nicki had always
predicted? “Jai…?” Ari’s voice was filled with vulnerable need for assurance.
Assurance he couldn’t give her.
Enraged, needing her to understand, the growl ripped out of him before he could stop himself.
“No. It never happened. I was worried about you and I just…shit!” He hit his palm off the tiled
walls, needing the sting of clarity.
She slipped off the counter, struggling with her dress, and looking very much like a girl who
had nearly given a boy everything only for him to act like a jerk and treat her like she wasn’t
worth it.
Guilt pricked him, mixing with the pain of hurting her.
Well today was the last time he’d do that to her. She deserved better. “Ari, I’m so sorry,” he
told her with heartfelt apology. “The last thing you need is an older guy treating you like crap.
You deserve more. And I can’t give you more.”
I’ll never be able to.
She got even though.
She went and made him want her even more than he already did. He watched with fascination
and admiration as she finally accepted the truth. She shrugged on that truth even though he knew
it hurt her and she wore it with a carefully controlled expression. She smoothed her hair and
straightened her shoulders, looking him straight in the eye with nothing but cool civility. “We
better get back to work.” She strolled past him as if she didn’t have a care in the world, and Jai
could only gaze after her.
God, she was something.
And that something wasn’t his.

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