City of lost souls, p.11
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       City of Lost Souls, p.11
 

         Part #5 of The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare
Page 11

 

  He tossed his light hair back, ignoring her question. "This is bigger than you understand, Clary. He has a plan. Hes willing to work, to sacrifice. If youd give me a chance to explain-"

  "He killed Max, Jace," she said. "Your little brother. "

  He flinched, and for a moment of wild hope she thought shed broken through to him-but his expression smoothed over like a wrinkled sheet pulled tight. "That was-it was an accident. Besides, Sebastians just as much my brother. "

  "No. " Clary shook her head. "Hes not your brother. Hes mine. God knows, I wish it werent true. He should never have been born-"

  "How can you say that?" Jace demanded. He swung his legs out of the bed. "Have you ever considered that maybe things arent so black and white as you think?" He bent over to grab his weapons belt and buckle it on. "There was a war, Clary, and people got hurt, but-things were different then. Now I know Sebastian would never harm anyone I loved intentionally. Hes serving a greater cause. Sometimes theres collateral damage-"

  "Did you just call your own brother collateral damage?" Her voice rose in an incredulous half shout. She felt as if she could barely breathe.

  "Clary, youre not listening. This is important-"

  "Like what Valentine thought he was doing was important?"

  "Valentine was wrong," he said. "He was right that the Clave was corrupt but wrong about how to go about fixing things. But Sebastian is right. If youd just hear us out-"

  "Us," she said. "God. Jace. . . " He was staring at her from the bed, and even as she felt her heart breaking, her mind was racing, trying to remember where she had left her stele, wondering if she could get to the X-Acto knife in the drawer of her nightstand. Wondering if she could bring herself to use it if she did.

  "Clary?" Jace tilted his head to the side, studying her face. "You do-you still love me, dont you?"

  "I love Jace Lightwood," she said. "I dont know who you are. "

  His face changed, but before he could speak, a scream shattered the silence. A scream, and the sound of breaking glass.

  Clary knew the voice instantly. It was her mother.

  Without another glance at Jace, she yanked the bedroom door open and bolted down the hallway, into the living room. The living room in Lukes house was large, divided from the kitchen by a long counter. Jocelyn, in yoga pants and a frayed T-shirt, her hair pulled back in a messy bun, stood by the counter. She had clearly come into the kitchen for something to drink. A glass lay shattered at her feet, the water soaking into the gray carpeting.

  All the color had drained from her face, leaving her as pale as bleached sand. She was staring across the room, and even before Clary turned her head, she knew what her mother was looking at.

  Her son.

  Sebastian was leaning against the living room wall, near the door, with no expression on his angular face. He lowered his eyelids and looked at Jocelyn through his lashes. Something about his posture, the look of him, could have stepped out of Hodges photograph of Valentine at seventeen years old.

  "Jonathan," Jocelyn whispered. Clary stood frozen, even as Jace burst out of the hallway, took in the scene in front of him in one moment, and came to a halt. His left hand was at his weapons belt; his slim fingers were inches from the hilt of one of his daggers, but Clary knew it would take him less than seconds to free it.

  "I go by Sebastian now," said Clarys brother. "I concluded that I wasnt interested in keeping the name you and my father gave me. Both of you betrayed me, and I would prefer as little association with you as possible. "

  Water spread out from the pool of broken glass at Jocelyns feet in a dark ring. She took a step forward, her eyes searching, running up and down Sebastians face. "I thought you were dead," she whispered. "Dead. I saw your bones turned to ashes. "

  Sebastian looked at her, his black eyes quiet and narrow. "If you were a real mother," he said, "a good mother, you would have known I was alive. There was a man once who said that mothers carry the key of our souls with them all our lives. But you threw mine away. "

  Jocelyn made a sound in the back of her throat. She was leaning against the counter for support. Clary wanted to run to her, but her feet felt frozen to the ground. Whatever was happening between her brother and her mother, it was something that had nothing to do with her.

  "Dont tell me you arent even a little glad to see me, Mother," Sebastian said, and though his words were pleading, his voice was flat. "Arent I everything you could want in a son?" He spread his arms wide. "Strong, handsome, looks just like dear old Dad. "

  Jocelyn shook her head, her face gray. "What do you want, Jonathan?"

  "I want what everyone wants," said Sebastian. "I want whats owed to me. In this case the Morgenstern legacy. "

  "The Morgenstern legacy is blood and devastation," said Jocelyn. "We are not Morgensterns here. Not me, and not my daughter. " She straightened up. Her hand was still gripping the counter, but Clary could see some of the old fire returning to her mothers expression. "If you go now, Jonathan, I wont tell the Clave you were ever here. " Her eyes flicked to Jace. "Or you. If they knew you were cooperating, they would kill you both. "

  Clary moved to stand in front of Jace, reflexively. He looked past her, over her shoulder, at her mother. "You care if I die?" Jace said.

  "I care about what it would do to my daughter," said Jocelyn. "And the Law is hard-too hard. What has happened to you-maybe it can be undone. " Her eyes moved back to Sebastian. "But for you-my Jonathan-its much too late. "

  The hand that had been gripping the counter swept forward, holding Lukes long-handled kindjal blade. Tears shone on Jocelyns face. But her grip on the knife was steady.

  "I look just like him, dont I?" Sebastian said, not moving. He seemed barely to notice the knife. "Valentine. Thats why youre looking at me like that. "

  Jocelyn shook her head. "You look like you always did, from the moment I first saw you. You look like a demon thing. " Her voice was achingly sad. "Im so sorry. "

  "Sorry for what?"

  "For not killing you when you were born," she said, and came out from behind the counter, spinning the kindjal in her hand.

  Clary tensed, but Sebastian didnt move. His dark eyes followed his mother as she came toward him. "Is that what you want?" he said. "For me to die?" He opened his arms, as if he meant to embrace Jocelyn, and took a step forward. "Go ahead. Commit filicide. I wont stop you. "

  "Sebastian," said Jace. Clary shot him an incredulous look. Did he actually sound concerned?

  Jocelyn moved another step forward. The knife was a blur in her hand. When it came to a stop, the tip was pointed directly at Sebastians heart.

  Still, he didnt move.

  "Do it," he said softly. He cocked his head to the side. "Or can you bring yourself to? You could have killed me when I was born. But you didnt. " His voice lowered. "Maybe you know that there is no such thing as conditional love for a child. Maybe if you loved me enough, you could save me. "

  For a moment they stared at each other, mother and son, ice-green eyes meeting coal-black ones. There were sharp lines at the corners of Jocelyns mouth that Clary could have sworn hadnt been there two weeks ago. "Youre pretending," she said, her voice shaking. "You dont feel anything, Jonathan. Your father taught you to feign human emotion the way one might teach a parrot to repeat words. It doesnt understand what its saying, and neither do you. I wish-oh, God, I wish-that you did. But-"

  Jocelyn brought the blade up in a swift, clean, cutting arc. A perfectly placed blow, it should have driven up under Sebastians ribs and into his heart. It would have, if he had not moved even faster than Jace; he spun away and back, and the tip of the blade cut only a shallow slash along his chest.

  Beside Clary, Jace sucked in his breath. She whirled to look at him. There was a spreading red stain across the front of his shirt. He touched his hand to it; his fingertips came away bloody. We are bound. Cut him and I bleed.

  Without another thought Clary darted across
the room, throwing herself between Jocelyn and Sebastian. "Mom," she gasped. "Stop. "

  Jocelyn was still holding the knife, her eyes on Sebastian. "Clary, get out of the way. "

  Sebastian began to laugh. "Sweet, isnt it?" he said. "A little sister defending her big brother. "

  "Im not defending you. " Clary kept her eyes fixed on her mothers face. "Whatever happens to Jonathan happens to Jace. Do you understand, Mom? If you kill him, Jace dies. Hes already bleeding. Mom, please. "

  Jocelyn was still gripping the knife, but her expression was uncertain. "Clary. . . "

  "Gracious, how awkward," Sebastian observed. "Ill be interested to see how you resolve this. After all, Ive got no reason to leave. "

  "Yes, actually," came a voice from the hallway, "you do. "

  It was Luke, barefoot and in jeans and an old sweater. He looked tousled, and oddly younger without his glasses. He also had a sawed-off shotgun balanced at his shoulder, the barrel trained directly on Sebastian. "This is a Winchester twelve-gauge pump-action shotgun. The pack uses it to put down wolves whove gone rogue," he said. "Even if I dont kill you, I can blow your leg off, Valentines son. "

  It was as if everyone in the room took a quick gasp of breath all at once-everyone except Luke. And Sebastian, who, a grin splitting his face in half, turned and walked toward Luke, as if oblivious of the gun. "Valentines son," he said. "Is that really how you think of me? Under other circumstances you could have been my godfather. "

  "Under other circumstances," said Luke, sliding his finger onto the trigger, "you could have been human. "

  Sebastian stopped in his tracks. "The same could be said of you, werewolf. "

  The world seemed to have slowed down. Luke sighted along the barrel of the rifle. Sebastian stood smiling.

  "Luke," Clary said. It was like one of those dreams, a nightmare where she wanted to scream but all that would scrape past her throat was a whisper. "Luke, dont do it. "

  Her stepfathers finger tightened on the trigger-and then Jace exploded into movement, launching himself from beside Clary, flipping over the sofa, and slamming into Luke just as the shotgun went off.

  The shot flew wide; one of the windows shattered outward as the bullet struck it. Luke, knocked off balance, staggered back. Jace yanked the gun from his hands and threw it. It hurtled through the broken window, and Jace turned back toward the older man.

  "Luke-," he began.

  Luke hit him.

  Even knowing everything she knew, the shock of it, seeing Luke, who had stood up for Jace countless times to her mother, to Maryse, to the Clave-Luke, who was basically gentle and kind-seeing him actually strike Jace across the face was as if he had hit Clary instead. Jace, totally unprepared, was thrown backward into the wall.

  And Sebastian, who had so far shown no real emotion beyond mockery and disgust, snarled-snarled and drew from his belt a long, thin dagger. Lukes eyes widened, and he began to twist away, but Sebastian was faster than him-faster than anyone else Clary had ever seen. Faster than Jace. He drove the dagger into Lukes chest, twisting it hard before jerking it back out, red to the hilt. Luke fell back against the wall-then slid down it, leaving a smear of blood behind as Clary stared in horror.

  Jocelyn screamed. The sound was worse than the sound of the bullet shattering the window, though Clary heard it as if it came from a distance away, or underwater. She was staring at Luke, who had collapsed to the floor, the carpet around him rapidly turning red.

  Sebastian raised the dagger again-and Clary flung herself at him, slamming as hard as she could into his shoulder, trying to knock him off balance. She barely moved him, but he did drop the dagger. He turned on her. He was bleeding from a split lip. Clary didnt know why, not until Jace swung into her field of vision and she saw the blood on his mouth where Luke had hit him.

  "Enough!" Jace grabbed Sebastian by the back of the jacket. He was pale, not looking at Luke, or at Clary, either. "Stop it. This isnt why we came here. "

  "Let me go-"

  "No. " Jace reached around Sebastian and grabbed his hand. His eyes met Clarys. His lips shaped words-there was a flash of silver, the ring on Sebastians finger-and then both of them were gone, winking out of existence between one breath and another. Just as they vanished, a streak of something metallic shot through the air where they had been standing, and buried itself in the wall.

  Lukes kindjal.

  Clary turned to look at her mother, who had thrown the knife. But Jocelyn wasnt looking at Clary. She was darting to Lukes side, dropping to her knees on the bloody carpet, and pulling him up into her lap. His eyes were closed. Blood trickled from the corners of his mouth. Sebastians silver dagger, smeared with more blood, lay a few feet away.

  "Mom," Clary whispered. "Is he-"

  "The dagger was silver. " Jocelyns voice shook. "He wont heal fast like he should, not without special treatment. " She touched Lukes face with her fingertips. His chest was rising and falling, Clary saw with relief, if shallowly. She could taste tears burning in the back of her throat and for a moment was amazed at her mothers calm. But then this was the woman who had once stood in the ashes of her home, surrounded by the blackened bodies of her family, including her parents and son, and had gone on from that. "Get some towels from the bathroom," her mother said. "We have to stop the bleeding. "

  Clary staggered to her feet and went almost blindly into Lukes small, tiled bathroom. There was a gray towel hanging from the back of the door. She yanked it down, went back into the living room. Jocelyn was holding Luke in her lap with one hand; the other hand held a cell phone. She dropped it and reached for the towel as Clary came in. Folding it in half, she laid it over the wound in Lukes chest and pressed down. Clary watched as the edges of the gray towel began to turn scarlet with blood.

 
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