“He walked me home last night,” Clary said, and in her mind the words I’ll just be your brother from now on, just your brother beat like the rhythm of a damaged heart. “And so far, he’s the only person in this city who’s been remotely nice to me. So yes, I was out with Sebastian.”

“I see.” Jace set his cookie back down on the plate, his face blank. “Clary, I came here to apologize. I shouldn’t have spoken to you the way I did.”

“No,” Clary said. “You shouldn’t have.”

“I also came to ask you if you’d reconsider going back to New York.”

“God,” Clary said. “This again—”

“It’s not safe for you here.”

“What are you worried about?” she asked tonelessly. “That they’ll throw me in prison like they did with Simon?”

Jace’s expression didn’t change, but he rocked back in his chair, the front legs lifting off the floor, almost as if she had shoved him. “Simon—?”

“Sebastian told me what happened to him,” she went on in the same flat voice. “What you did. How you brought him here and then let him just get thrown in jail. Are you trying to get me to hate you?”

“And you trust Sebastian?” Jace asked. “You barely know him, Clary.”

She stared at him. “Is it not true?”

He met her gaze, but his face had gone still, like Sebastian’s face when she’d pushed him away. “It’s true.”

She seized a plate off the table and flung it at him. He ducked, sending the chair spinning, and the plate hit the wall above the sink and shattered in a starburst of broken porcelain. He leaped out of the chair as she picked up another plate and threw it, her aim going wild: This one bounced off the refrigerator and hit the floor at Jace’s feet where it cracked into two even pieces. “How could you? Simon trusted you. Where is he now? What are they going to do to him?”

“Nothing,” Jace said. “He’s all right. I saw him last night—”

“Before or after I saw you? Before or after you pretended everything was all right and you were just fine?”

“You came away from that thinking I was just fine?” Jace choked on something almost like a laugh. “I must be a better actor than I thought.” There was a twisted smile on his face. It was a match to the tinder of Clary’s rage: How dare he laugh at her now? She scrabbled for the fruit bowl, but it suddenly didn’t seem like enough. She kicked the chair out of the way and flung herself at him, knowing it would be the last thing he’d expect her to do.

The force of her sudden assault caught him off guard. She slammed into him and he staggered backward, fetching up hard against the edge of the counter. She half-fell against him, heard him gasp, and drew back her arm blindly, not even knowing what she intended to do—

She had forgotten how fast he was. Her fist slammed not into his face, but into his upraised hand; he wrapped his fingers around hers, forcing her arm back down to her side. She was suddenly aware of how close they were standing; she was leaning against him, pressing him back against the counter with the slight weight of her body. “Let go of my hand.”

“Are you really going to hit me if I do?” His voice was rough and soft, his eyes blazing.

“Don’t you think you deserve it?”

She felt the rise and fall of his chest against her as he laughed without amusement. “Do you think I planned all this? Do you really think I’d do that?”

“Well, you don’t like Simon, do you? Maybe you never have.”

Jace made a harsh, incredulous sound and let go of her hand. When Clary stepped back, he held out his right arm, palm up. It took her a moment to realize what he was showing her: the ragged scar along his wrist. “This,” he said, his voice as taut as a wire, “is where I cut my wrist to let your vampire friend drink my blood. It nearly killed me. And now you think, what, that I just abandoned him without a thought?”

She stared at the scar on Jace’s wrist—one of so many all over his body, scars of all shapes and sizes. “Sebastian told me that you brought Simon here, and then Alec marched him up to the Gard. Let the Clave have him. You must have known—”

“I brought him here by accident. I asked him to come to the Institute so I could talk to him. About you, actually. I thought maybe he could convince you to drop the idea of coming to Idris. If it’s any consolation, he wouldn’t even consider it. While he was there, we were attacked by Forsaken. I had to drag him through the Portal with me. It was that or leave him there to die.”

“But why bring him to the Clave? You must have known—”

“The reason we sent him there was because the only Portal in Idris is in the Gard. They told us they were sending him back to New York.”

“And you believed them? After what happened with the Inquisitor?”

“Clary, the Inquisitor was an anomaly. That might have been your first experience with the Clave, but it wasn’t mine—the Clave is us. The Nephilim. They abide by the Law.”

“Except they didn’t.”

“No,” Jace said. “They didn’t.” He sounded very tired. “And the worst part about all this,” he added, “is remembering Valentine ranting about the Clave, how it’s corrupt, how it needs to be cleansed. And by the Angel if I don’t agree with him.”

Clary was silent, first because she could think of nothing to say, and then in startlement as Jace reached out—almost as if he wasn’t thinking about what he was doing—and drew her toward him. To her surprise, she let him. Through the white material of his shirt she could see the outlines of his Marks, black and curling, stroking across his skin like licks of flame. She wanted to lean her head against him, wanted to feel his arms around her the way she’d wanted air when she was drowning in Lake Lyn.

“He might be right that things need fixing,” she said finally. “But he’s not right about the way they should be fixed. You can see that, can’t you?”

He half-closed his eyes. There were crescents of gray shadow under them, she saw, the remnants of sleepless nights. “I’m not sure I can see anything. You’re right to be angry, Clary. I shouldn’t have trusted the Clave. I wanted so badly to think that the Inquisitor was an abnormality, that she was acting without their authority, that there was still some part of being a Shadowhunter I could trust.”

“Jace,” she whispered.

He opened his eyes and looked down at her. She and Jace were pressed so close together even their knees were touching, and she could feel his heartbeat. Move away from him, she told herself, but her legs wouldn’t obey.

“What is it?” he said, his voice very soft.

“I want to see Simon,” she said. “Can you take me to see him?”

As abruptly as he had caught hold of her, he let her go. “No. You’re not even supposed to be in Idris. You can’t go waltzing into the Gard.”

“But he’ll think everyone’s abandoned him. He’ll think—”

“I went to see him,” Jace said. “I was going to let him out. I was going to tear the bars out of the window with my hands.” His voice was matter-of-fact. “But he wouldn’t let me.”

“He wouldn’t let you? He wanted to stay in jail?”

“He said the Inquisitor was sniffing around after my family, after me. Aldertree wants to blame what happened in New York on us. He can’t grab one of us and torture it out of us—the Clave would frown on that—but he’s trying to get Simon to tell him some story where we’re all in cahoots with Valentine. Simon said if I break him out, then the Inquisitor will know I did it, and it’ll be even worse for the Lightwoods.”

“That’s very noble of him and all, but what’s his long-range plan? To stay in jail forever?”

Jace shrugged. “We hadn’t exactly worked that out.”

Clary blew out an exasperated breath. “Boys,” she said. “All right, look. What you need is an alibi. We’ll make sure you’re somewhere everyone can see you, and the Lightwoods are too, and then we’ll get Magnus to break Simon out of prison and get him back to New York.”

“I hate to tell you this, Clary, but there’s no way Magnus would do that. I don’t care how cute he thinks Alec is, he’s not going to go directly against the Clave as a favor to us.”

“He might,” Clary said, “for the Book of the White.”

Jace blinked. “The what?”

Quickly Clary told him about Ragnor Fell’s death, about Magnus showing up in Fell’s place, and about the spell book. Jace listened with stunned attentiveness until she finished.

“Demons?” he said. “Magnus said Fell was killed by demons?”

Clary cast her mind back. “No—he said the place stank of something demonic in origin. And that Fell was killed by Valentine’s servants. That’s all he said.”

“Some dark magic leaves an aura that reeks like demons,” Jace said. “If Magnus wasn’t specific, it’s probably because he’s none too pleased that there’s a warlock out there practicing dark magic, breaking the Law. But it’s hardly the first time Valentine’s gotten one of Lilith’s children to do his nasty bidding. Remember the warlock kid he killed in New York?”

“Valentine used his blood for the Ritual. I remember.” Clary shuddered. “Jace, does Valentine want the book for the same reason I do? To wake my mother up?”

“He might. Or if it’s what Magnus says it is, Valentine might just want it for the power he could gain from it. Either way, we’d better get it before he does.”

“Do you think there’s any chance it’s in the Wayland manor?”

“I know it’s there,” he said, to her surprise. “That cookbook? Recipes for Housewives or whatever? I’ve seen it before. In the manor’s library. It was the only cookbook in there.”

Clary felt dizzy. She almost hadn’t let herself believe it could be true. “Jace—if you take me to the manor, and we get the book, I’ll go home with Simon. Do this for me and I’ll go to New York, and I won’t come back, I swear.”

“Magnus was right—there are misdirection wards on the manor,” he said slowly. “I’ll take you there, but it’s not close. Walking, it might take us five hours.”

Clary reached out and drew his stele out of its loop on his belt. She held it up between them, where it glowed with a faint white light not unlike the light of the glass towers. “Who said anything about walking?”

“You get some strange visitors, Daylighter,” Samuel said. “First Jonathan Morgenstern, and now the head vampire of New York City. I’m impressed.”

Jonathan Morgenstern? It took Simon a moment to realize that this was, of course, Jace. He was sitting on the floor in the center of the room, turning the empty flask in his hands over and over idly. “I guess I’m more important than I realized.”

“And Isabelle Lightwood bringing you blood,” Samuel said. “That’s quite a delivery service.”

Simon’s head went up. “How do you know Isabelle brought it? I didn’t say anything—”

“I saw her through the window. She looks just like her mother,” said Samuel, “at least, the way her mother did years ago.” There was an awkward pause. “You know the blood is only a stopgap,” he added. “Pretty soon the Inquisitor will start wondering if you’ve starved to death yet. If he finds you perfectly healthy, he’ll figure out something’s up and kill you anyway.”

Simon looked up at the ceiling. The runes carved into the stone overlapped one another like shingled sand on a beach. “I guess I’ll just have to believe Jace when he says they’ll find a way to get me out,” he said. When Samuel said nothing in return, he added, “I’ll ask him to get you out too, I promise. I won’t leave you down here.”

Samuel made a choked noise, like a laugh that couldn’t quite make it out of his throat. “Oh, I don’t think Jace Morgenstern is going to want to rescue me,” he said. “Besides, starving down here is the least of your problems, Daylighter. Soon enough Valentine will attack the city, and then we’ll likely all be killed.”

Simon blinked. “How can you be so sure?”

“I was close to him at one point. I knew his plans. His goals. He intends to destroy Alicante’s wards and strike at the Clave from the heart of their power.”

“But I thought no demons could get past the wards. I thought they were impenetrable.”

“So it’s said. It requires demon blood to take the wards down, you see, and it can only be done from inside Alicante. But because no demon can get through the wards—well, it’s a perfect paradox, or should be. But Valentine claimed he’d found a way to get around that, a way to break through. And I believe him. He will find a way to take the wards down, and he will come into the city with his demon army, and he will kill us all.”

The flat certainty in Samuel’s voice sent a chill up Simon’s spine. “You sound awfully resigned. Shouldn’t you do something? Warn the Clave?”

“I did warn them. When they interrogated me. I told them over and over again that Valentine meant to destroy the wards, but they dismissed me. The Clave thinks the wards will stand forever because they’ve stood for a thousand years. But so did Rome, till the barbarians came. Everything falls someday.” He chuckled: a bitter, angry sound. “Consider it a race to see who kills you first, Daylighter—Valentine, the other Downworlders, or the Clave.”

Somewhere between here and there Clary’s hand was torn out of Jace’s. When the hurricane spit her out and she hit the floor, she hit it alone, hard, and rolled gasping to a stop.

readonlinefreebook.com Copyright 2016 - 2023