Font Size:  

Jordan was now standing in the middle of the living room, white-faced, with his phone forgotten in his hand. Maia could hear a tinny, distant voice coming from it, saying his name.

Maia dropped the menu and hurried across the room to him. She took the phone out of his hand, disconnected the call, and set it on the counter. "Jordan? What happened?"

"My roommate-Nick-you remember?" he said, disbelief in his hazel eyes. "You never met him but-"

"I saw the photos of him," she said. "Has something happened?"

"He's dead."


"Throat torn out, all his blood gone. They think he tracked his assignment down and she killed him."

"Maureen?" Maia was shocked. "But she was just a little girl."

"She's a vampire now." He took a ragged breath. "Maia..."

She stared at him. His eyes were glassy, his hair tousled. A sudden panic rose inside her. Kissing and cuddling and even sex were one thing. Comforting someone when they were stricken with loss was something else. It meant commitment. It meant caring. It meant you wanted to ease their pain, and at the same time you were thanking God that whatever the bad thing was that had happened, it hadn't happened to them.

"Jordan," she said softly, and reaching up on her toes, she put her arms around him. "I'm sorry."

Jordan's heart beat hard against hers. "Nick was only seventeen."

"He was a Praetor, like you," she said softly. "He knew it was dangerous. You're only eighteen." He tightened his grip on her but said nothing. "Jordan," she said. "I love you. I love you and I'm sorry."

She felt him freeze. It was the first time she'd said the words since a few weeks before she'd been bitten. He seemed to be holding his breath. Finally he let it out with a gasp.

"Maia," he croaked. And then, unbelievably, before he could say another word-her phone rang.

"Never mind," she said. "I'll ignore it."

He let her go, his face soft, bemused with grief and amazement. "No," he said. "No, it could be important. You go ahead."

She sighed and went to the counter. It had stopped ringing by the time she reached it, but there was a text message blinking on the screen. She felt her stomach muscles tighten.

"What is it?" Jordan asked, as if he had sensed her sudden tension. Maybe he had.

"A 911. An emergency." She turned to him, holding the phone. "A call to battle. It went out to everyone in the pack. From Luke-and Magnus. We have to leave right away."

Clary sat on the floor of Jace's bathroom, her back against the tile of the tub, her legs stretched out in front of her. She had cleaned the blood from her face and body, and rinsed her bloody hair in the sink. She was wearing her mother's ceremonial dress, rucked up to her thighs, and the tiled floor was cold against her bare feet and calves.

She looked down at her hands. They ought to look different, she thought. But they were the same hands she'd always had, thin fingers, squared-off nails-you didn't want long nails when you were an artist-and freckles on the backs of the knuckles. Her face looked the same too. All of her seemed the same, but she wasn't. These past few days had changed her in ways she couldn't quite yet fully comprehend.

She stood up and looked at herself in the mirror. She was pale, between the flame colors of her hair and the dress. Bruises decorated her shoulders and throat.

"Admiring yourself?" She hadn't heard Sebastian open the door, but there he was, smirking intolerably as always, propped against the frame of the doorway. He was wearing a kind of gear she had never seen before: the usual tough material, but in a scarlet color like fresh blood. He had also added an accessory to his outfit-a recurved crossbow. He held it casually in one hand, though it must have been heavy. "You look lovely, sister. A fitting companion for me."

She bit back her words with the taste of blood that still lingered in her mouth, and walked toward him. He caught at her arm as she tried to squeeze past him in the doorway. His hand ran over her bare shoulder. "Good," he said. "You're not Marked here. I hate it when women ruin their skin with scars. Keep the Marks on your arms and legs."

"I'd rather you didn't touch me."

He snorted, and swung the crossbow up. A bolt was fitted to it, ready to fire. "Walk," he said. "I'll be right behind you."

It took every ounce of effort she had not to flinch away from him. She turned and walked toward the door, feeling a burning between her shoulder blades where she imagined the arrow of the crossbow was trained. They moved like that down the glass stairs and through the kitchen and living room. He grunted at the sight of Clary's scrawled rune on the wall, reached around her, and under his hand a doorway appeared. The door itself swung open onto a square of darkness.

The crossbow jabbed Clary hard in the back. "Move."

Taking a deep breath, she stepped out into the shadows.

Alec slammed his hand against the button in the small cage elevator, and slumped back against the wall. "How much time do we have?"

Isabelle checked the glowing screen of her mobile phone. "About forty minutes."

The elevator lurched upward. Isabelle cast a covert glance at her brother. He looked tired-dark circles were under his eyes. Despite his height and strength, Alec, with his blue eyes and soft black hair almost to his collar, looked more delicate than he was. "I'm fine," he said, answering her unspoken question. "You're the one who's going to be in trouble for staying away from home. I'm over eighteen. I can do what I want."

"I texted Mom every night and told her I was with you and Magnus," Isabelle said as the elevator came to a stop. "It's not like she didn't know where I was. And speaking of Magnus..."

Alec reached across her and pulled the elevator's inside cage door open. "What?"

"Are you two okay? I mean, getting along all right?"

Alec shot her an incredulous look as he stepped out into the entryway. "Everything's going to hell in a handbasket, and you want to know about my relationship with Magnus?"

"I've always wondered about that expression," Isabelle said thoughtfully as she hurried after her brother down the hallway. Alec had long, long legs and, though she was fast, it was hard to keep up with him when he wanted it to be. "Why a handbasket? What is a handbasket, and why is it a particularly good form of transportation?"

Alec, who had been Jace's parabatai long enough to have learned to ignore conversational tangents, said, "Magnus and I are okay, I guess."

"Uh-oh," Isabelle said. "Okay, you guess? I know what it means when you say that. What happened? Did you have a fight?"

Alec was tapping his fingers against the wall as they raced along, a sure sign that he was uncomfortable. "Quit trying to meddle around in my love life, Iz. What about you? Why aren't you and Simon a couple? You obviously like him."

Isabelle let out a squawk. "I am not obvious."

"You are, actually," Alec said, sounding as if it surprised him, too, now that he thought about it. "Gazing at him all moony-eyed. The way you freaked out at the lake when the Angel appeared-"

"I thought Simon was dead!"

"What, more dead?" said Alec unkindly. Seeing the expression on his sister's face, he shrugged. "Look, if you like him, fine. I just don't see why you're not dating."

"Because he doesn't like me."

"Of course he does. Guys always like you."

"Forgive me if I think your opinion is biased."

"Isabelle," Alec said, and now there was kindness in his voice, the tone she associated with her brother-love and exasperation mixed together. "You know you're gorgeous. Guys have chased you since... forever. Why would Simon be different?"

She shrugged. "I don't know. But he is. I figure the ball is in his court. He knows how I feel. But I don't think he's rushing to do anything about it."

"To be fair, it's not like he doesn't have anything else going on."

"I know, but-he's always been like this. Clary-"

"You think he's still in love with Clary?"

Isabelle chewed her lip. "I-not exactly. I think she's the one thing he still has from his human life, and he can't let her go. And as long as he doesn't let her go, I don't know if there's room for me."

They had almost reached the library. Alec looked sideways at Isabelle through his lashes. "But if they're just friends-"

"Alec." She held up her hand, indicating that he should be quiet. Voices were coming from the library, the first one strident and immediately recognizable as their mother's:

"What do you mean she's missing?"

"No one's seen her in two days," said another voice-soft, female, and slightly apologetic. "She lives alone, so people weren't sure-but we thought, since you know her brother-"

Without a pause Alec straight-armed the door of the library open. Isabelle ducked past him to see her mother sitting behind the massive mahogany desk in the center of the room. In front of her stood two familiar figures: Aline Penhallow, dressed in gear, and beside her Helen Blackthorn, her curly hair in disarray. Both of them turned, looking surprised, as the door opened. Helen, beneath her freckles, was pale; she was also in gear, which drained the color out of her skin even more.

"Isabelle," said Maryse, rising to her feet. "Alexander. What's happened?"

Aline reached for Helen's hand. Silver rings flashed on both their fingers. The Penhallow ring, with its design of mountains, glinted on Helen's finger, while the intertwined thorn pattern of the Blackthorn family ring adorned Aline's. Isabelle felt her eyebrows go up; exchanging family rings was serious business. "If we're intruding, we can go-" Aline began.

"No, stay," said Izzy, striding forward. "We might need you."

Maryse settled back into her chair. "So," she said. "My children grace me with their presence. Where have you two been?"

"I told you," Isabelle said. "We were at Magnus's."

"Why?" Maryse demanded. "And I'm not asking you, Alexander. I'm asking my daughter."

"Because the Clave stopped looking for Jace," said Isabelle. "But we didn't."

"And Magnus was willing to help," Alec added. "He's been up all these nights, searching through spell books, trying to figure out where Jace might be. He even raised the-"

"No." Maryse put up a hand to silence him. "Don't tell me. I don't want to know." The black phone on her desk started to ring. They all stared at it. A black phone call was a call from Idris. No one moved to answer it, and in a moment it was silent. "Why are you here?" Maryse demanded, turning her attention back to her offspring.

"We were looking for Jace-," Isabelle began again.

"It's the Clave's job to do that," Maryse snapped. She looked tired, Isabelle noticed, the skin stretched thin under her eyes. Lines at the corners of her mouth drew her lips into a frown. She was thin enough that the bones of her wrists seemed to protrude. "Not yours."

Alec slammed his hand down on the desk, hard enough to make the drawers rattle. "Would you listen to us? The Clave didn't find Jace, but we did. And Sebastian right along with him. And now we know what they're planning, and we have"-he glanced at the clock on the wall-"barely any time to stop them. Are you going to help or not?"

The black phone rang again. Again Maryse didn't even move to answer it. She was looking at Alec, her face white with shock. "You did what?"

"We know where Jace is, Mom," said Isabelle. "Or at least, where he's going to be. And what he's going to do. We know Sebastian's plan, and he has to be stopped. Oh, and we know how we can kill Sebastian but not Jace-"

"Stop." Maryse shook her head. "Alexander, explain. Concisely, and without hysteria. Thank you."

Alec launched into the story-leaving out, Isabelle thought, all the good parts, which was how he managed to summarize things so neatly. As abbreviated as his rendition was, both Aline and Helen were gaping by the end of it. Maryse stood very still, her features immobile. When Alec was done, she said in a hushed voice:

"Why have you done these things?"

Alec looked taken aback.

"For Jace," Isabelle said. "To get him back."

"You realize that by putting me in this position, you give me no choice but to notify the Clave," said Maryse, her hand resting on the black phone. "I wish you hadn't come here."

Isabelle's mouth went dry. "Are you seriously mad at us for finally telling you what's going on?"

"If I notify the Clave, they will send all their reinforcements. Jia will have no choice but to give them instructions to kill Jace on sight. Do you have any idea how many Shadowhunters Valentine's son has following him?

Alec shook his head. "Maybe forty, it sounds like."

"Say we brought twice as many as that. We could be fairly confident of defeating his forces, but what kind of chance would Jace have? There's almost no certainty he'd make it through alive. They'll kill him just to be sure."

"Then, we can't tell them," said Isabelle. "We'll go ourselves. We'll do this without the Clave."

But Maryse, looking at her, was shaking her head. "The Law says we have to tell them."

"I don't care about the Law-," Isabelle began angrily. She caught sight of Aline looking at her, and slammed her mouth shut.

"Don't worry," Aline said. "I'm not going to say anything to my mother. I owe you guys. Especially you, Isabelle." She tightened her jaw, and Isabelle remembered the darkness under a bridge in Idris, and her whip tearing into a demon, its claws locked onto Aline. "And besides, Sebastian killed my cousin. The real Sebastian Verlac. I have my own reasons to hate him, you know."

"Regardless," said Maryse. "If we do not tell them, we will be breaking the Law. We could be sanctioned, or worse."