Clary felt her nerves tighten. Vampire, she thought. She didn't know how she knew, but she did-whether it was the waxy white sheen of the dark-haired girl's skin or the bottomlessness of her eyes, or perhaps Clary was just learning to sense these things, the way Shadowhunters were supposed to. The girl knew she knew; Clary could tell. The girl grinned, showing her little pointed teeth, and then bent to run them over Sebastian's collarbone. His lids fluttered, fair eyelashes lowering over dark eyes. He looked up at Clary through them, ignoring Jace.
"Did you enjoy your little date?"
Clary wished she could say something rude, but instead she just nodded.
"Well, then, would you like to join us?" he said, indicating himself and the two girls. "For a drink?"
The dark-haired girl laughed and said something in Italian to Sebastian, her voice questioning.
"No," said Sebastian. "Lei e mia sorella."
The girl sat back, looking disappointed. Clary's mouth was dry. Suddenly she felt Jace's hand against hers, his callused fingertips rough. "I don't think so," he said. "We're going upstairs. We'll see you in the morning."
Sebastian wiggled his fingers, and the Morgenstern ring on his hand caught the light, sparking like a signal fire. "Ci vediamo."
Jace led Clary out of the room and up the glass stairs; only when they were in the corridor did she feel like she had gotten her breath back. This different Jace was one thing. Sebastian was something else. The sense of menace that rose off him was like smoke off a fire. "What did he say?" she asked. "In Italian?"
"He said, 'No, she is my sister,'" said Jace. He did not say what the girl had asked Sebastian.
"Does he do this much?" she asked. They had stopped in front of Jace's room, on the threshold. "Bring girls back?"
Jace touched her face. "He does what he wants, and I don't ask," he said. "He could bring a six-foot tall pink rabbit in a bikini back home with him if he wanted to. It's not my business. But if you're asking me if I've brought any girls back here, the answer is no. I don't want anybody but you."
It hadn't been what she was asking, but she nodded anyway, as if reassured. "I don't want to go back downstairs."
"You can sleep in my room with me tonight." His gold eyes were luminous in the dark. "Or you can sleep in the master bedroom. You know I wouldn't ever ask you-"
"I want to be with you," she said, surprising herself with her own vehemence. Maybe it was just that the idea of sleeping in that bedroom, where Valentine had once slept, where he had hoped to live again with her mother, was too much. Or maybe it was that she was tired, and she had only ever spent one night in the same bed as Jace, and they had slept with only their hands touching, as if an unsheathed sword had lain between them.
"Give me a second to clean up the room. It's a mess."
"Yeah, when I was in there before, I think I might actually have seen a fleck of dust on the windowsill. You'd better get on that."
He tugged a lock of her hair, running it through his fingers. "Not to actively work against my own interests, but do you need something to sleep in? Pajamas, or..."
She thought of the wardrobe full of clothes in the master bedroom. She was going to have to get used to the idea. Might as well start now. "I'll get a nightgown."
Of course, she thought several moments later, standing over an open drawer, the sort of nightgowns men bought because they wanted the women in their lives to wear them were not necessarily the kind of thing you might buy for yourself. Clary usually slept in a tank top and pajama shorts, but everything here was silky or lacy or barely there, or all three. She settled finally on a pale green silk shift that hit her midthigh. She thought of the red nails of the girl downstairs, the one with her hand on Sebastian's chest. Her own nails were bitten, her toenails never decorated with much more than clear polish. She wondered what it would be like to be more like Isabelle, so aware of your own feminine power you could wield it as a weapon instead of gazing at it mystified, like someone presented with a housewarming gift they had no idea where to display.
She touched the gold ring on her finger for luck before heading into Jace's bedroom. He was sitting on the bed, shirtless in black pajama bottoms, reading a book in the small pool of yellow light from the bedside lamp. She stood for a moment, watching him. She could see the delicate play of muscles under his skin as he turned the pages-and could see Lilith's Mark, just over his heart. It didn't look like the black lacework of the rest of his Marks; it was silvery-red, like blood-tinged mercury. It seemed not to belong on him.
The door slipped closed behind her with a click, and Jace looked up. Clary saw his face change. She might not have been such a big fan of the nightgown, but he definitely was. The look on his face made a shiver run over her skin.
"Are you cold?" He threw the covers back; she crawled in with him as he tossed the book onto the nightstand, and they slid together under the blanket, until they were facing each other. They had lain in the boat for what had seemed like hours, kissing, but this was different. That had been out in public, under the gaze of the city and the stars. This was a sudden intimacy, just the two of them under the blanket, their breath and the heat of their bodies mingling. There was no one to watch them, no one to stop them, no reason to stop. When he reached out and laid his hand against her cheek, she thought the thunder of her own blood in her ears might deafen her.
Their eyes were so close together, she could see the pattern of gold and darker gold in his irises, like a mosaic opal. She had been cold for so long, and now she felt as if she were burning and melting at the same time, dissolving into him-and they were barely touching. She found her gaze drawn to the places he was most vulnerable-his temples, his eyes, the pulse at the base of his throat, wanting to kiss him there, to feel his heartbeat against her lips.
His scarred right hand moved down her cheek, across her shoulder and side, stroking her in a single long caress that ended at her hip. She could see why men liked silk nightclothes so much. There was no friction; it was like sliding your hands across glass. "Tell me what you want," he said in a whisper that couldn't quite disguise the hoarseness in his voice.
"I just want you to hold me," she said. "While I sleep. That's all I want right now."
His fingers, which had been stroking slow circles on her hip, stilled. "That's all?"
It wasn't what she wanted. What she wanted was to kiss him until she lost track of space and time and location, as she had in the boat-to kiss him until she forgot who she was and why she was here. She wanted to use him like a drug.
But that was a very bad idea.
He watched her, restless, and she remembered the first time she had seen him and how she had thought he seemed deadly as well as beautiful, like a lion. This is a test, she thought. And maybe a dangerous one. "That's all."
His chest rose and fell. Lilith's Mark seemed to pulse against the skin just over his heart. His hand tightened on her hip. She could hear her own breathing, as shallow as low tide.
He pulled her toward him, rolling her over until they lay tucked together like spoons, her back to him. She swallowed a gasp. His skin was hot against hers, as if he were slightly feverish. But his arms as they went around her were familiar. The two of them fit together, as always, her head under his chin, her spine against the hard muscles of his chest and stomach, her legs bent around his. "All right," he whispered, and the feel of his breath against the back of her neck raised goose bumps over her body. "So we'll sleep."
And that was all. Slowly her body relaxed, the thudding of her heart slowing. Jace's arms around her felt the way they always had. Comfortable. She closed her hands around his and shut her eyes, imagining their bed cut free of this strange prison, floating through space or on the surface of the ocean, just the two of them alone.
She slept like that, her head tucked under Jace's chin, her spine fitted to his body, their legs entwined. It was the best sleep she had had in weeks.
Simon sat on the edge of the bed in Magnus's spare room, staring down at the duffel bag in his lap.
He could hear voices from the living room. Magnus was explaining to Maia and Jordan what had happened that night, with Izzy occasionally interjecting a detail. Jordan was saying something about how they should order Chinese food so they wouldn't starve; Maia laughed and said as long as it wasn't from the Jade Wolf, that would be fine.
Starving, Simon thought. He was getting hungry-hungry enough to have begun to feel it, like a pull on all his veins. It was a different kind of hunger than human hunger. He felt scraped out, a hollow emptiness inside. If you struck him, he thought, he would ring like a bell.
"Simon." His door opened, and Isabelle slid inside. Her black hair was down and loose, almost reaching her waist. "Are you okay?"
She saw the duffel bag on his lap, and her shoulders tensed. "Are you leaving?"
"Well, I wasn't planning to stay forever," Simon said. "I mean, last night was-different. You asked..."
"Right," she said in an unnaturally bright voice. "Well, you can get a ride back with Jordan at least. Did you notice him and Maia, by the way?"
"Notice what about them?"
She lowered her voice. "Something definitely happened between them on their little road trip. They're all couply now."
"Well, that's good."
"Are you jealous?"
"Jealous?" he echoed, confused.
"Well, you and Maia..." She waved a hand, looking up at him through her lashes. "You were..."
"Oh. No. No, not at all. I'm glad for Jordan. This will make him really happy." He meant it too.
"Good." Isabelle looked up then, and he saw that her cheeks were rosy red, and not just from the cold. "Would you stay here tonight, Simon?"
She nodded, not looking at him. "Alec's going out to get some more of his clothes from the Institute. He asked if I wanted to go back with him, but I-I'd rather stay here with you." She raised her chin, looking at him directly. "I don't want to sleep by myself. If I stay here, will you stay with me?" He could tell how much she hated to ask.
"Of course," he said, as lightly as he possibly could, pushing the thought of his hunger out of his head, or trying to. The last time he had tried to forget to drink, it had ended with Jordan pulling him off a semiconscious Maureen.
But that was when he hadn't eaten for days. This was different. He knew his limits. He was sure of it.
"Of course," he said again. "That would be great."
Camille smirked up at Alec from her divan. "So where does Magnus think you are now?"
Alec, who had put a plank of wood across two cinderblocks to form a sort of bench, stretched his long legs out and looked at his boots. "At the Institute, picking up clothes. I was going to go up to Spanish Harlem, but I came here instead."
Her eyes narrowed. "And why is that?"
"Because I can't do it. I can't kill Raphael."
Camille threw up her hands. "And why not? Have you some sort of personal bond with him?"
"I barely know him," Alec said. "But killing him is deliberately breaking Covenant Law. Not that I haven't broken Laws before, but there's a difference between breaking them for good reasons and breaking them for selfish ones."
"Oh, dear God." Camille began to pace. "Spare me from Nephilim with consciences."
Her eyes narrowed. "Sorry? I'll make you-" She broke off. "Alexander," she went on in a more composed voice. "What of Magnus? If you continue as you have been, you will lose him."
Alec watched her as she moved, catlike and composed, her face blank of anything now but a curious sympathy. "Where was Magnus born?"
Camille laughed. "You don't even know that? My goodness. Batavia, if you must know." She snorted at his look of incomprehension. "Indonesia. Of course, it was the Dutch East Indies then. His mother was a native, I believe; his father was some dull colonial. Well, not his real father." Her lips curved into a smile.
"Who was his real father?"
"Magnus's father? Why, a demon, of course."
"Yes, but which demon?"
"How could it possibly matter, Alexander?"
"I get the feeling," Alec went on stubbornly, "that he's a pretty powerful, high-up demon. But Magnus won't talk about him."
Camille collapsed back onto the divan with a sigh. "Well, of course he won't. One must preserve some mystery in one's relationship, Alec Lightwood. A book that one has not read yet is always more exciting than a book one has memorized."
"You mean I tell him too much?" Alec pounced on the morsel of advice. Somewhere here, inside this cold, beautiful shell of a woman, was someone who had shared a unique experience with him-of loving and being loved by Magnus. Surely she must know something, some secret, some key that would keep him from screwing everything up.
"Almost certainly. Although, you've been alive for such a short time that I can't imagine how much there could be to say. Certainly you must be out of anecdotes."
"Well, it seems clear to me that your policy of not telling him anything didn't work out either."
"I was not so invested in keeping him as you are."
"Well," Alec asked, knowing it was a bad idea but not being able to help it, "if you had been interested in keeping him, what would you have done differently?"
Camille sighed dramatically. "The thing that you are too young to understand is that we all hide things. We hide them from our lovers because we wish to present our best selves, but also because if it is real love, we expect our loved one to simply understand it, without needing to ask. In a true partnership, the kind that lasts through the ages, there is an unspoken communion."
"B-but," Alec stammered, "I would have thought he would have wanted me to open up. I mean, I have a hard time being open even with people I've known my whole life-like Isabelle, or Jace..."
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