For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf,
and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.
Jordan stared blindly at the poem tacked to the wall of his bedroom. It was an old print that he'd found in a used-book store, the words surrounded by an elaborate border of leaves. The poem was by Rudyard Kipling, and it so neatly encapsulated the rules by which werewolves lived, the Law that bound their actions, that he wondered if Kipling hadn't been a Downworlder himself, or at least known about the Accords. Jordan had felt compelled to buy the print and stick it up on his wall, though he'd never been one for poetry.
He'd been pacing his apartment for the last hour, sometimes taking his phone out to see if Maia had texted, in between bouts of opening the refrigerator and staring into it to see if anything worth eating had appeared. It hadn't, but he didn't want to go out to get food in case she came to the apartment while he was out. He also took a shower, cleaned up the kitchen, tried to watch TV and failed, and started the process of organizing all his DVDs by color.
He was restless. Restless in the way he sometimes got before the full moon, knowing the Change was coming, feeling the pull of the tides in his blood. But the moon was waning, not waxing, and it wasn't the Change making him feel like crawling out of his skin. It was Maia. It was being without her, after almost two solid days in her company, never more than a few feet away from her.
She'd gone without him to the police station, saying that now wasn't the time to upset the pack with a nonmember, even though Luke was healing. There was no need for Jordan to come, she'd argued, since all she had to do was ask Luke if it was all right for Simon and Magnus to visit the farm tomorrow, and then she'd call up to the farm and warn any of the pack who might be staying up there to clear off the property. She was right, Jordan knew. There was no reason for him to go with her, but the moment she was gone, the restlessness kicked up inside him. Was she leaving because she was sick of being with him? Had she rethought and decided she'd been right about him before? And what was going on between them? Were they dating? Maybe you should have asked her before you slept together, genius, he told himself, and realized he was standing in front of the refrigerator again. Its contents hadn't changed-bottles of blood, a defrosting pound of ground beef, and a dented apple.
The key turned in the front door lock, and he jumped away from the refrigerator, spinning around. He looked down at himself. He was barefoot, in jeans and an old T-shirt. Why hadn't he taken the time while she'd been away to shave, look better, put on some cologne or something? He ran his hands quickly through his hair as Maia came into the living room, dropping his spare set of keys onto the coffee table. She had changed clothes, into a soft pink sweater and jeans. Her cheeks were pink from the cold, her lips red and her eyes bright. He wanted to kiss her so badly it hurt.
Instead he swallowed. "So-how did it go?"
"Fine. Magnus can use the farm. I already texted him." She strolled over to him and leaned her elbows on the counter. "I also told Luke what Raphael said about Maureen. I hope that's okay."
Jordan was puzzled. "Why'd you think he needed to know?"
She seemed to deflate. "Oh, God. Don't tell me I was supposed to keep it a secret."
"No-I was just wondering-"
"Well, if there really is a rogue vampire cutting her way through Lower Manhattan, the pack should know. It's their territory. Besides, I wanted his advice about whether we should tell Simon or not."
"What about my advice?" He was playing at sounding hurt, but there was a little part of him that meant it. They'd discussed it before, whether Jordan should tell his assignment that Maureen was out there and killing, or whether it would just be another burden to add to everything Simon was dealing with now. Jordan had come down on the side of not telling him-what could he do about it, anyway?-but Maia hadn't been so sure.
She jumped up on top of the counter and swung around to face him. Even sitting down, she was taller than him this way, her brown eyes sparkling down into his. "I wanted grown-up advice."
He grabbed hold of her swinging legs and ran his hands up the seams of her jeans. "I'm eighteen-not grown-up enough for you?"
She put her hands on his shoulders and flexed them, as if testing his muscles. "Well, you've definitely grown..."
He pulled her down from the counter, catching her around the waist and kissing her. Fire sizzled up and down his veins as she kissed him back, her body melting against his. He slid his hands up into her hair, knocking her knitted cap off and letting her curls spring free. He kissed her neck as she pulled his shirt up over his head and ran her hands all over him-shoulders, back, arms, purring in her throat like a cat. He felt like a helium balloon-high from kissing her, and light with relief. So she wasn't done with him after all.
"Jordy," she said. "Wait."
She almost never called him that, unless it was serious. His heartbeat, already wild, speeded up further. "What's wrong?"
"It's just-if every time we see each other, we fall into bed-and I know I started it, I'm not blaming you or anything-It's just that maybe we should talk."
He stared at her, at her big dark eyes, the fluttery pulse in her throat, the flush on her cheeks. With an effort he spoke evenly. "Okay. What do you want to talk about?"
She just looked at him. After a moment she shook her head and said, "Nothing." She locked her hands behind his head and pulled him close, kissing him hard, fitting her body against his. "Nothing at all."
Clary didn't know how long it was before Jace came out of the bathroom, toweling off his wet hair. She looked up at him from where she was still sitting on the edge of the bed. He was sliding a blue cotton T-shirt on over smooth golden skin marked with white scars.
She darted her eyes away as he came across the room and sat down next to her on the bed, smelling strongly of soap.
"I'm sorry," he said.
Now she did look at him, in surprise. She had wondered if he were capable of being sorry, in his current state. His expression was grave, a little curious, but not insincere.
"Wow," she said. "That cold shower must have been brutal."
His lips quirked up at the side, but his expression grew serious again almost immediately. He put his hand under her chin. "I shouldn't have pushed you. It's just-ten weeks ago, just holding each other would have been unthinkable."
He cupped her face in his hands, his long fingers cool against her cheeks, tilting her face up. He was looking down at her, and everything about him was so familiar-the pale gold irises of his eyes, the scar on his cheek, the full lower lip, the slight chip in his tooth that saved his looks from being so perfect that they were annoying-and yet somehow it was like coming back to a house she had lived in as a child, and knowing that though the exterior might look the same, a different family lived there now. "I never cared," he said. "I wanted you anyway. I always wanted you. Nothing mattered to me but you. Not ever."
Clary swallowed. Her stomach fluttered, not just with the usual butterflies she felt around Jace but with real uneasiness.
"But Jace. That's not true. You cared about your family. And-I always thought you were proud of being Nephilim. One of the angels."
"Proud?" he said. "To be half angel, half human-you're always conscious of your own inadequacy. You're not an angel. You're not beloved of Heaven. Raziel doesn't care about us. We can't even pray to him. We pray to nothing. We pray for nothing. Remember when I told you I thought I had demon blood, because it explained why I felt the way I did about you? It was a relief in a way, thinking that. I've never been an angel, never even close. Well," he added. "Maybe the fallen kind."
"Fallen angels are demons."
"I don't want to be Nephilim," said Jace. "I want to be something else. Stronger, faster, better than human. But different. Not subservient to the Laws of an angel who couldn't care less about us. Free." He ran his hand through a curl of her hair. "I'm happy now, Clary. Doesn't that make a difference?"
"I thought we were happy together," Clary said.
"I've always been happy with you," he said. "But I never thought I deserved it."
"And now you do?"
"And now that feeling's gone," he said. "All I know is that I love you. And for the first time, that's good enough."
She closed her eyes. A moment later he was kissing her again, very softly this time, his mouth tracing the shape of hers. She felt herself go pliant under his hands. She sensed it as his breathing quickened and her own pulse jumped. His hands stroked down through her hair, over her back, to her waist. His touch was comforting-the feel of his heartbeat against hers like familiar music-and if the key was slightly different, with her eyes closed, she couldn't tell. Their blood was the same, under the skin, she thought, as the Seelie Queen had said; her heart raced when his did, had nearly stopped when his had. If she had to do it all again, she thought, under the pitiless gaze of Raziel, she would have done the same thing.
This time he drew back, letting his fingers linger on her cheek, her lips. "I want what you want," he said. "Whenever you want it."
Clary felt a shudder go down her spine. The words were simple, but there was a dangerous and seductive invitation to the fall of his voice: Whatever you want, whenever you want it. His hand smoothed down her hair, to her back, lingering at her waist. She swallowed. There was only so much that she was going to be able to hold back.
"Read to me," she said suddenly.
He blinked down at her. "What?"
She was looking past him, at the books on his nightstand. "It's a lot to process," she said. "What Sebastian said, what happened last night, everything. I need to sleep, but I'm too keyed up. When I was young and I couldn't sleep, my mother used to read to me to relax me."
"And I remind you of your mother now? I have got to look into a manlier cologne."
"No, it's just-I thought it would be nice."
He scooted back against the pillows, reaching for the stack of books by the bed. "Anything particular you want to hear?" With a flourish he picked up the book on top of the stack. It looked old, leather-bound, the title stamped in gold on the front. A Tale of Two Cities. "Dickens is always promising..."
"I've read that before. For school," Clary recalled. She scooted up on the pillows beside Jace. "But I don't remember any of it, so I wouldn't mind hearing it again."
"Excellent. I've been told I have a lovely, melodic reading voice." He flipped the book open to the front page, where the title was printed in ornate script. Across from it was a long dedication, the ink faded now and barely legible, though Clary could make out the signature: With hope at last, William Herondale.
"Some ancestor of yours," Clary said, brushing her finger against the page.
"Yes. Odd that Valentine had it. My father must have given it to him." Jace opened to a random page and began to read:
"He unshaded his face after a little while, and spoke steadily. 'Don't be afraid to hear me. Don't shrink from anything I say. I am like one who died young. All my life might have been.'
"'No, Mr. Carton. I am sure that the best part of it might still be; I am sure that you might be much, much worthier of yourself.'"
"Oh, I do remember this story now," Clary said. "Love triangle. She picks the boring guy."
Jace chuckled softly. "Boring to you. Who can say what got Victorian ladies hot beneath the petticoats?"
"It's true, you know."
"What, about the petticoats?"
"No. That you have a lovely reading voice." Clary turned her face against his shoulder. It was times like this, more than when he was kissing her, that hurt-times when he could have been her Jace. As long as she kept her eyes closed.
"All that, and abs of steel," Jace said, turning another page. "What more could you ask for?"
Chapter 17: Valediction
As I strolled down along the quay
All in the lateness of the day
I heard a lovely maiden say:
"Alack, for I can get no play."
A minstrel boy heard what she said
And straight he rushed to her aid...
"Do we have to keep listening to this wail-ey music?" Isabelle demanded, her booted foot tapping against the dashboard of Jordan's truck.
"I happen to like this wail-ey music, my girl, and since I'm driving, I get to choose," Magnus said loftily. He was indeed driving. Simon had been surprised that he knew how, though he wasn't sure why. Magnus had been alive for ages. Surely he had found time to squeeze in a few weeks of driver's ed. Although Simon couldn't help wondering what birth date was on his license.
Isabelle rolled her eyes, probably because there wasn't enough room to do much else in the cab of the truck, with all four of them crammed together on the bench seat. Simon honestly hadn't expected her to come. He hadn't expected anyone to come to the farm with him but Magnus, though Alec had insisted on coming as well (much to Magnus's annoyance, as he considered the whole enterprise "too dangerous"), and then, just as Magnus had revved up the engine on the truck, Isabelle had come banging down the stairs of his apartment building and thrown herself through the front door, panting and out of breath. "I'm coming too," she'd announced.
And that was that. No one could budge or dissuade her. She wouldn't look at Simon as she insisted, or explain why she wanted to come, but she did, and here she was. She was wearing jeans and a purple suede jacket she must have stolen out of Magnus's closet. Her weapons belt was slung around her slim hips. She was mashed up against Simon, whose other side was crushed against the car door. A strand of her hair was flying free and tickling his face.
"What is this, anyway?" Alec said, frowning at the CD player, which was playing music, although without a CD in it. Magnus had simply tapped the sound system with a blue-flashing finger, and it had started playing. "Some faerie band?"