It fit perfectly. Made the most of her small figure, clinging to her waist, darkening the green of her eyes. She yanked the tag off, not wanting to see how much it had cost, and hurried out of the room, feeling a shiver run down her spine.
The next room was clearly Jace's. She knew it the minute she walked in. It smelled like him, like his cologne and soap and the scent of his skin. The bed was ebonized wood with white sheets and blankets, perfectly made. It was as neat as his room at the Institute. Books were stacked by his bed, the titles in Italian and French and Latin. The silver Herondale dagger with its pattern of birds was jammed into the plaster wall. When she looked closer, she could see that it was pinning a photograph in place. A photograph of herself and Jace, taken by Izzy. She remembered it, a clear day in early October, Jace sitting on the front steps of the Institute, a book on his lap. She was sitting a step above him, her hand on his shoulder, leaning forward to see what he was reading. His hand covered hers, almost absently, and he was smiling. She hadn't been able to see his face that day, hadn't known he was smiling like that, not until now. Her throat contracted, and she went out of the room, catching her breath.
She couldn't act like this, she told herself sternly. As if each sight of Jace the way he was now was a sucker punch to the gut. She had to pretend that it didn't matter, as if she noticed no difference. She went into the next room, another bedroom, much like the one before it, but this one was a mess-the bed a tangle of black silk sheets and comforter, a glass and steel desk covered with books and papers, boy clothes scattered everywhere. Jeans and jackets and T-shirts and gear. Her eye fell on something that gleamed silver, propped on the nightstand near the bed. She moved forward, staring, unable to believe her eyes.
It was the small box of her mother's, the one with the initials J.C. on it. The one her mother used to take out every year, once a year, and weep over silently, the tears running down her face to splash onto her hands. Clary knew what was in the box-a lock of hair, as fine and white as dandelion fluff; scraps from a child's shirt; a baby shoe, small enough to fit inside the palm of her hand. Bits and pieces of her brother, a sort of collage of the child her mother had wanted to have, had dreamed of having, before Valentine had done what he had and turned his own son into a monster.
Her stomach twisted, and she backed up quickly out of the room-directly into a wall of living flesh. Arms came around her, wrapping her tight, and she saw that they were slim and muscular, downed with fine pale hair, and for a moment she thought it was Jace holding her. She began to relax.
"What were you doing in my room?" Sebastian said into her ear.
Isabelle had been trained to wake early every morning, rain or shine, and a slight hangover did nothing to prevent it from happening again. She sat up slowly and blinked down at Simon.
She'd never spent an entire night in a bed with anyone else, unless you counted crawling into her parents' bed when she was four and afraid of thunderstorms. She couldn't help staring at Simon as if he were some exotic species of animal. He lay on his back, his mouth slightly open, his hair in his eyes. Ordinary brown hair, ordinary brown eyes. His T-shirt was pulled up slightly. He wasn't muscular like a Shadowhunter. He had a smooth flat stomach but no six-pack, and there was still a hint of softness to his face. What was it about him that fascinated her? He was plenty cute, but she had dated gorgeous faerie knights, sexy Shadowhunters....
"Isabelle," Simon said without opening his eyes. "Quit staring at me."
Isabelle sighed irritably and swung herself out of bed. She rummaged in her bag for her gear, retrieved it, and headed out to find the bathroom.
It was halfway down the hall, and the door was just opening, Alec emerging in a cloud of steam. He had a towel around his waist and another around his shoulders and was rubbing energetically at his wet black hair. Isabelle supposed she shouldn't be surprised to see him; he'd been trained to wake up early in the morning just like she had.
"You smell like sandalwood," she said by way of greeting. She hated the smell of sandalwood. She liked sweet scents-vanilla, cinnamon, gardenia.
Alec looked at her. "We like sandalwood."
Isabelle made a face. "Either that's the royal 'we' or you and Magnus are turning into one of those couples that think they're one person. 'We like sandalwood.' 'We adore the symphony.' 'We hope you enjoy our Christmas present'-which, if you ask me, is just a cheap way of avoiding having to buy two gifts."
Alec blinked wet lashes at her. "You'll understand-"
"If you tell me I'll understand when I'm in love, I'll smother you with that towel."
"And if you keep preventing me from going back to my room and getting dressed, I'll get Magnus to summon up pixies to tie your hair in knots."
"Oh, get out of my way." Isabelle kicked at Alec's ankle until he moved, unhurriedly, down the hall. She had the feeling if she turned around and looked at him he'd be sticking his tongue out at her, so she didn't look. Instead she locked herself in the bathroom and turned on the shower, full steam. Then she looked at the rack of shower products and said an unladylike word.
Sandalwood shampoo, conditioner, and soap. Ugh.
When she finally emerged, dressed in her gear and with her hair up, she found Alec, Magnus, and Jocelyn waiting for her in the living room. There were doughnuts, which she didn't want, and coffee, which she did. She poured a liberal amount of milk into it and sat back, looking at Jocelyn, who was also dressed-to Isabelle's surprise-in Shadowhunter gear.
It was odd, she mused. People often told her she looked like her mother, though she didn't see it herself, and she wondered now if it was in the same way that Clary looked like Jocelyn. The same color hair, yes, but also the same cast of features, the same tilt of the head, the same stubborn set to the jaw. The same sense that this person might look like a porcelain doll but was steel underneath. Although, Isabelle wished that, in the same way that Clary had gotten her mother's green eyes, she'd gotten Maryse and Robert's blue ones. Blue was so much more interesting than black.
"As with the Silent City, there is only one Adamant Citadel, but there are many doors through which one may find it," said Magnus. "The closest to us is the old Augustinian Monastery on Grymes Hill, in Staten Island. Alec and I will Portal with you there and wait for you to return, but we can't go with you all the way."
"I know," said Isabelle. "Because you're boys. Cooties."
Alec pointed a finger at her. "Take this seriously, Isabelle. The Iron Sisters aren't like the Silent Brothers. They're way less friendly and they don't like being bothered."
"I promise I'll be on my best behavior," Isabelle said, and set her empty coffee mug down on the table. "Let's go."
Magnus looked at her suspiciously for a moment, then shrugged. His hair was gelled up today into a million sharp points, and his eyes were smudged with black, making them look more catlike than ever. He moved past her to the wall, already murmuring in Latin; the familiar outline of a Portal, its arcane door shape outlined with glittering symbols, began to take form. Wind rose, cool and sharp, blowing back the tendrils of Isabelle's hair.
Jocelyn stepped forward first, and walked through the Portal. It was a little like watching someone disappear into the side of a wave of water: A silvery haze seemed to swallow her in, dulling the color of her red hair as she vanished into it with a faint shimmer.
Isabelle went next. She was used to the stomach-dropping feeling of transportation by Portal. There was a soundless roar in her ears and no air in her lungs. She closed her eyes, then opened them again as the whirlwind released her and she fell into dry brush. She rose to her feet, brushing dead grass from her knees, and saw Jocelyn looking at her. Clary's mother opened her mouth-and closed it again as Alec appeared, dropping into the vegetation beside Isabelle, and then Magnus, the shimmering half-seen Portal closing behind him.
Even the trip through the Portal had not disarranged Magnus's hair spikes. He tugged on one proudly. "Check it out," he said to Isabelle.
"Hair gel. $3.99 at Ricky's."
Isabelle rolled her eyes at him and turned to take in her new surroundings. They stood atop a hill, its peak covered in dry brush and withered grass. Lower down were autumn-blackened trees, and in the far distance Isabelle saw cloudless sky and the top of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge connecting Staten Island to Brooklyn. As she turned, Isabelle saw the monastery behind her, rising out of the dull foliage. It was a large building of red brick, most of its windows smashed out or boarded over. It was tagged here and there with graffiti. Turkey vultures, disturbed by the travelers' arrival, circled the dilapidated bell tower.
Isabelle squinted at it, wondering if there was a glamour to be peeled off. If so, it was a strong one. Try as she might, she couldn't see anything but the ruinous building before her.
"There's no glamour," said Jocelyn, startling Isabelle. "What you see is what you get."
Jocelyn trudged toward it, her boots crushing down the dry vegetation in front of her. After a moment Magnus shrugged and followed her, and Isabelle and Alec came after. There was no path; branches grew in tangles, dark against the clear air, and the foliage underfoot crackled with dryness. As they neared the building, Isabelle saw that patches of the dry grass were burned away where pentagrams and runic circles had been spray-painted into the grass.
"Mundanes," said Magnus, lifting a branch out of Isabelle's way. "Playing their little games with magic, not really understanding it. They're often drawn to places like this-centers of power-without really knowing why. They drink and hang out and spray-paint the walls, like you could leave a human mark on magic. You can't." They had reached a boarded-up door in the brick wall. "We're here."
Isabelle looked hard at the door. Again there was no sense that a glamour covered it, although if she concentrated hard, a faint shimmer grew visible, like sunshine glancing off water. A look passed between Jocelyn and Magnus. Jocelyn turned to Isabelle. "You're ready?"
Isabelle nodded, and without further ado Jocelyn stepped forward and vanished through the boards of the door. Magnus looked expectantly at Isabelle.
Alec leaned closer to her, and she felt the brush of his hand on her shoulder. "Don't worry," he said. "You'll be fine, Iz."
She raised her chin. "I know," she said, and followed Jocelyn through the door.
Clary sucked in her breath, but before she could reply, there was a step on the stairs, and Jace appeared at the end of the hallway. Sebastian immediately let her go and spun her around. With a smile like a wolf's, he ruffled her hair. "Good to see you, little sister."
Clary was speechless. Jace, though, wasn't; he moved toward them soundlessly. He was wearing a black leather jacket, a white T-shirt and jeans, and was barefoot. "Were you hugging Clary?" He looked at Sebastian in amazement.
Sebastian shrugged. "She's my sister. I'm pleased to see her."
"You don't hug people," Jace said.
"I ran out of time to bake a casserole."
"It was nothing," Clary said, waving a dismissive hand at her brother. "I tripped. He was just keeping me from falling over."
If Sebastian was surprised to hear her defend him, he didn't show it. He was expressionless as she moved across the corridor, toward Jace, who kissed her on the cheek, his fingers cool against her skin. "What were you doing up here?" Jace asked.
"Looking for you." She shrugged. "I woke up and couldn't find you. I thought maybe you were asleep."
"I see you discovered the clothes stash." Sebastian indicated her shirt with a gesture. "Do you like them?"
Jace shot him a look. "We were out getting food," he said to Clary. "Nothing fancy. Bread and cheese. You want lunch?"
Which was how, several minutes later, Clary found herself installed at the big glass and steel table. From the comestibles spread out over the table, she figured that her second guess had been right. They were in Venice. There was bread, Italian cheeses, salami and prosciutto, grapes and fig jam, and bottles of Italian wine. Jace sat across from her, Sebastian at the head of the table. She was eerily reminded of the night she had met Valentine, at Renwick's in New York, how he had put himself between Jace and Clary at the head of a table, how he had offered them wine and told them they were brother and sister.
She sneaked a glance at her real brother now. She thought of how her mother had looked when she'd seen him. Valentine. But Sebastian wasn't a carbon copy of their father. She had seen pictures of Valentine when he was their age. Sebastian's face tempered her father's hard features with her mother's prettiness; he was tall but less broad-shouldered, more lithe and catlike. He had Jocelyn's cheekbones and fine soft mouth, Valentine's dark eyes and white-blond hair.
He looked up then, as if he had caught her staring at him. "Wine?" He offered the bottle.
She nodded, though she had never much liked the taste of wine, and since Renwick's she had hated it. She cleared her throat as Sebastian filled the glass. "So," she said. "This place-is it yours?"
"It was our father's," said Sebastian, setting the bottle down. "Valentine's. It moves, in and out of worlds-ours and others. He used to use it as a retreat as well as a mode of travel. He brought me here a few times, showed me how to get in and out and how to make it travel."
"There's no front door."
"There is if you know how to find it," said Sebastian. "Dad was very clever about this place."
Clary looked at Jace, who shook his head. "He never showed it to me. I wouldn't have guessed it existed either."
"It's very... bachelor pad," Clary said. "I wouldn't have thought of Valentine as..."
"Owning a flat-screen TV?" Jace grinned at her. "Not that it gets channels, but you can watch DVDs on it. Back at the manor we had an old icebox powered by witchlight. Here he's got a Sub-Zero fridge."
***P/S: Copyright -->Novel12__Com