“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” said Jace, from the backseat.
“Good,” Clary said, and was rewarded by the smallest of smiles from Simon as he turned the van onto the Manhattan Bridge, heading toward Brooklyn and home.
By the time they reached Clary’s house, it had finally stopped raining. Threaded beams of sunlight were burning away the remnants of mist, and the puddles on the sidewalk were drying. Jace, Alec, and Isabelle made Simon and Clary wait by the van while they went to check, as Jace said, the “demonic activity levels.”
Simon watched as the three Shadowhunters headed up the rose-lined walkway to the house. “Demonic activity levels? Do they have a device that measures whether the demons inside the house are doing power yoga?”
“No,” Clary said, pushing her damp hood back so she could enjoy the feel of the sunlight on her draggled hair. “The Sensor tells them how powerful the demons are—if there are any demons.”
Simon looked impressed. “That is useful.”
She turned to him. “Simon, about last night—”
He held up a hand. “We don’t have to talk about it. In fact, I’d rather not.”
“Just let me say one thing.” She spoke quickly. “I know that when you said you loved me, what I said back wasn’t what you wanted to hear.”
“True. I’d always hoped that when I finally said ‘I love you’ to a girl, she’d say ‘I know’ back, like Leia did to Han in Return of the Jedi.”
“That is so geeky,” Clary said, unable to help herself.
He glared at her.
“Sorry,” she said. “Look, Simon, I—”
“No,” he said. “You look, Clary. Look at me, and really see me. Can you do that?”
She looked at him. Looked at the dark eyes, flecked with lighter color toward the outside edge of the iris, at the familiar, slightly uneven eyebrows, the long lashes, the dark hair and hesitating smile and graceful musical hands that were all part of Simon, who was part of her. If she had to tell the truth, would she really say that she’d never known that he loved her? Or just that she’d never known what she would do about it if he did?
She sighed. “Seeing through glamour is easy. It’s people that are hard.”
“We all see what we want to see,” he said quietly.
“Not Jace,” she said, unable to help herself, thinking of those clear, impassive eyes.
“Him more than anyone.”
She frowned. “What do you—”
“All right,” came Jace’s voice, interrupting them. Clary turned hastily. “We’ve checked all four corners of the house—nothing. Low activity. Probably just the Forsaken, and they might not even bother us unless we try getting into the upstairs apartment.”
“And if they do,” said Isabelle, her grin as glittering as her whip, “we’ll be ready for them.”
Alec dragged the heavy canvas bag out of the back of the van, dropping it on the sidewalk. “Ready to go,” he announced. “Let’s kick some demon butt!”
Jace looked at him a little oddly. “You all right?”
“Fine.” Not looking at him, Alec discarded his bow and arrow in favor of a polished wooden featherstaff, with two glittering blades that appeared at a light touch from his fingers. “This is better.”
Isabelle looked at her brother with concern. “But the bow …”
Alec cut her off. “I know what I’m doing, Isabelle.”
The bow lay across the backseat, gleaming in the sunlight. Simon reached for it, then drew his hand back as a laughing group of young women pushing strollers headed up the street in the direction of the park. They took no notice of the three heavily armed teenagers crouched by the yellow van. “How come I can see you guys?” Simon asked. “What happened to that invisibility magic of yours?”
“You can see us,” said Jace, “because now you know the truth of what you’re looking at.”
“Yeah,” said Simon. “I guess I do.”
He protested a little when they asked him to stay by the van, but Jace impressed upon him the importance of having a getaway vehicle idling by the curb. “Sunlight’s fatal to demons, but it won’t hurt the Forsaken. What if they chase us? What if the car gets towed?”
The last Clary saw of Simon as she turned to wave from the front porch was his long legs propped up on the dashboard as he sorted through Eric’s CD collection. She breathed a sigh of relief. At least Simon was safe.
The smell hit her the moment they walked through the front door. It was almost indescribable, like spoiled eggs and maggoty meat and seaweed rotting on a hot beach. Isabelle wrinkled her nose and Alec turned greenish, but Jace looked as if he were inhaling rare perfume. “Demons have been here,” he announced, with cold delight. “Recently, too.”
Clary looked at him anxiously. “But they’re not still—”
“No.” He shook his head. “We would have sensed it. Still.” He jerked his chin at Dorothea’s door, tightly shut without a wisp of light peeking from underneath. “She might have some questions to answer if the Clave hears she’s been entertaining demons.”
“I doubt the Clave will be too pleased about any of this,” said Isabelle. “On balance, she’ll probably come out of it better than we do.”
“They won’t care as long as we get the Cup in the end.” Alec was glancing around, blue eyes taking in the sizeable foyer, the curved staircase leading upstairs, the stains on the walls. “Especially if we slaughter a few Forsaken while we do it.”
Jace shook his head. “They’re in the upstairs apartment. My guess is that they won’t bother us unless we try to get in.”
Isabelle blew a sticky strand of hair out of her face and frowned at Clary. “What are you waiting for?”
Clary glanced involuntarily at Jace, who gave her a sideways smile. Go ahead, said his eyes.
She moved across the foyer toward Dorothea’s door, stepping carefully. With the skylight blackened with dirt and the entryway lightbulb still out, the only illumination came from Jace’s witchlight. The air was hot and close, and the shadows seemed to rise up before her like magically fast-growing plants in a nightmare forest. She reached up to knock on Dorothea’s door, once lightly and then again with more force.
It swung open, spilling a great wash of golden light into the foyer. Dorothea stood there, massive and imposing in swaths of green and orange. Today her turban was neon yellow, adorned with a stuffed canary and rickrack trim. Chandelier earrings bobbed against her hair, and her big feet were bare. Clary was surprised—she’d never seen Dorothea barefoot before, or wearing anything other than her faded carpet slippers.
Her toenails were a pale, and very tasteful, shell pink.
“Clary!” she exclaimed, and swept Clary into an overwhelming embrace. For a moment Clary struggled, embroiled in a sea of perfumed flesh, swaths of velvet, and the tasseled ends of Dorothea’s shawl. “Good Lord, girl,” said the witch, shaking her head until her earrings swung like wind chimes in a storm. “The last time I saw you, you were disappearing through my Portal. Where’d you end up?”
“Williamsburg,” said Clary, catching her breath.
Dorothea’s eyebrows shot skyward. “And they say there’s no convenient public transportation in Brooklyn.” She swung the door open and gestured for them to come in.
The place looked unchanged from the last time Clary had seen it: There were the same tarot cards and crystal ball scattered on the table. Her fingers itched for the cards, itched to snatch them up and see what might lie hidden inside their slickly painted surfaces.
Dorothea sank gratefully into an armchair and regarded the Shadowhunters with a stare as beady as the eyes of the stuffed canary on her hat. Scented candles burned in dishes on either side of the table, which did little to dispel the thick stench pervading every inch of the house. “I take it you haven’t located your mother?” she asked Clary.
Clary shook her head. “No. But I know who took her.”
Dorothea’s eyes darted past Clary to Alec and Isabelle, who were examining the Hand of Fate on the wall. Jace, looking supremely unconcerned in his role of bodyguard, lounged against a chair arm. Satisfied that none of her belongings were being destroyed, Dorothea returned her gaze to Clary. “Was it—”
“Valentine,” Clary confirmed. “Yes.”
Dorothea sighed. “I feared as much.” She settled back against the cushions. “Do you know what he wants with her?”
“I know she was married to him—”
The witch grunted. “Love gone wrong. The worst.”
Jace made a soft, almost inaudible noise at that—a chuckle. Dorothea’s ears pricked like a cat’s. “What’s so funny, boy?”
“What would you know about it?” he said. “Love, I mean.”
Dorothea folded her soft white hands in her lap. “More than you might think,” she said. “Didn’t I read your tea leaves, Shadowhunter? Have you fallen in love with the wrong person yet?”
Jace said, “Unfortunately, Lady of the Haven, my one true love remains myself.”
Dorothea roared at that. “At least,” she said, “you don’t have to worry about rejection, Jace Wayland.”
“Not necessarily. I turn myself down occasionally, just to keep it interesting.”
Dorothea roared again. Clary interrupted her. “You must be wondering why we’re here, Madame Dorothea.”
Dorothea subsided, wiping at her eyes. “Please,” she said, “feel free to give me my proper title, as the boy did. You may call me Lady. And I assumed,” she added, “that you came for the pleasure of my company. Was I wrong?”
“I don’t have time for the pleasure of anyone’s company. I have to help my mother, and to do that there’s something I need.”
“And what’s that?”
“It’s something called the Mortal Cup,” Clary said, “and Valentine thought my mother had it. That’s why he took her.”
Dorothea looked well and truly astonished. “The Cup of the Angel?” she said, disbelief coloring her voice. “Raziel’s Cup, in which he mixed the blood of angels and the blood of men and gave of this mixture to a man to drink, and created the first Shadowhunter?”
“That would be the one,” said Jace, a little dryness in his tone.
“Why on earth would he think she had it?” Dorothea demanded. “Jocelyn, of all people?” Realization dawned on her face before Clary could speak. “Because she wasn’t Jocelyn Fray at all, of course,” she said. “She was Jocelyn Fairchild, his wife. The one everyone thought had died. She took the Cup and fled, didn’t she?”
Something flickered in the back of the witch’s eyes then, but she lowered her lids so quickly that Clary thought she might have imagined it. “So,” Dorothea said, “do you know what you’re going to do now? Wherever she’s hidden it, it can’t be easy to find—if you even want it found. Valentine could do terrible things with his hands on that Cup.”
“I want it found,” said Clary. “We want to—”
Jace cut her off smoothly. “We know where it is,” he said. “It’s only a matter of retrieving it.”
Dorothea’s eyes widened. “Well, where is it?”
“Here,” said Jace, in a tone so smug that Isabelle and Alec wandered over from their perusal of the bookcase to see what was going on.
“Here? You mean you have it with you?”
“Not exactly, dear Lady,” said Jace, who was, Clary felt, enjoying himself in a truly appalling manner. “I meant that you have it.”
Dorothea’s mouth snapped shut. “That’s not funny,” she said, so sharply that Clary became worried that this was all going terribly wrong. Why did Jace always have to antagonize everyone?
“You do have it,” Clary interrupted hurriedly, “but not—”
Dorothea rose from the armchair to her full, magnificent height, and glowered down at them. “You are mistaken,” she said coldly. “Both in imagining that I have the Cup, and in daring to come here and call me a liar.”
Alec’s hand went to his featherstaff. “Oh, boy,” he said under his breath.
Baffled, Clary shook her head. “No,” she said quickly, “I’m not calling you a liar, I promise. I’m saying the Cup is here, but you never knew it.”
Madame Dorothea stared at her. Her eyes, nearly hidden in the folds of her face, were hard as marbles. “Explain yourself,” she said.
“I’m saying my mother hid it here,” said Clary. “Years ago. She never told you because she didn’t want to involve you.”
“So she gave it to you disguised,” Jace explained, “in the form of a gift.”
Dorothea looked at him blankly.
Doesn’t she remember? Clary thought, puzzled. “The tarot deck,” she said. “The cards she painted for you.”
The witch’s gaze went to the cards, lying in their silk wrappings on the table. “The cards?” As her gaze widened, Clary stepped to the table and picked up the deck. They were warm to the touch, almost slippery. Now, as she had not been able to before, she felt the power from the runes painted on their backs pulsing through the tips of her fingers. She found the Ace of Cups by touch and pulled it out, setting the rest of the cards back down on the table.
“Here it is,” she said.
They were all looking at her, expectant, perfectly still. Slowly she turned the card over and looked again at her mother’s artwork: the slim painted hand, its fingers wrapped around the gold stem of the Mortal Cup.
***P/S: Copyright -->Novel12__Com