City of lost souls, p.35
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       City of Lost Souls, p.35
 

         Part #5 of The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare
Page 35

 

  She leaned over and looked into the smooth dark surface of the pool. She could see her own face reflected back at her, her eyes wide and wild, her eye makeup smudged like bruises, her hair tangled. And then Sebastian leaned over too, and she saw his face beside hers. The silver of his hair reflected in the water made her think of the moon on the river. She reached to touch its brilliance, and the water shivered apart, their reflections distorting, unrecognizable.

  "What is it?" Sebastian said, and there was a low urgency in his voice.

  Clary shook her head; he was being very silly. "I saw you and me," she said in a chiding tone. "What else?"

  He put his hand under her chin and turned her face toward him. His eyes were black, night-black, with only a ring of silver separating the pupil from the iris. "Dont you see it? Were the same, you and me. "

  "The same?" She blinked at him. There was something very wrong with what he was saying, though she couldnt say quite what. "No. . . "

  "Youre my sister," he said. "We have the same blood. "

  "You have demon blood," she said. "Liliths blood. " For some reason this struck her as funny, and she giggled. "Youre all dark, dark, dark. And Jace and I are light. "

  "You have a dark heart in you, Valentines daughter," he said. "You just wont admit it. And if you want Jace, you had better accept it. Because he belongs to me now. "

  "Then, who do you belong to?"

  Sebastians lips parted; he said nothing. For the first time, Clary thought, he looked as if he had nothing to say. She was surprised; his words hadnt meant much to her, and shed merely been idly curious. Before she could say anything else, a voice above them said:

  "Whats going on?" It was Jace. He looked from one of them to the other, his face unreadable. More of the shimmering stuff had gotten on him, silver drops clinging to the gold of his hair. "Clary. " He sounded annoyed. She pulled away from Sebastian and hopped to her feet.

  "Sorry," she said breathlessly. "I got lost in the crowd. "

  "I noticed," he said. "One second I was dancing with you, and the next you were gone and a very persistent werewolf was trying to get the buttons on my jeans undone. "

  Sebastian chuckled. "Girl or boy werewolf?"

  "Not sure. Either way, they could have used a shave. " He took Clarys hand, lightly ringing her wrist with his fingers. "Do you want to go home? Or dance some more?"

  "Dance some more. Is that all right?"

  "Go ahead. " Sebastian leaned back, his hands braced behind him on the fountains edge, his smile like the edge of a straight razor. "I dont mind watching. "

  Something flashed across Clarys vision: the memory of a bloody handprint. It was gone as soon as it had come, and she frowned. The night was too beautiful to think of ugly things. She looked back at her brother only for a moment before she let Jace lead her back through the crowd to its edge, near the shadows, where the press of bodies was lighter. Another ball of colored light burst above their heads as they went, scattering silver, and she tipped her head up, catching the salt-sweet drops on her tongue.

  In the center of the room, beneath the bone chandelier, Jace stopped and she swung toward him. Her arms were around him, and she felt the silver liquid trickling down her face like tears. The fabric of his T-shirt was thin and she could feel the burn of his skin underneath. Her hands slid up under the hem, her nails scratching lightly over his ribs. Silver drops of liquid spangled his eyelashes as he lowered his glance to hers, leaned to whisper in her ear. His hands moved over her shoulders, down her arms. Neither of them were really dancing anymore: the hypnotic music went on around them, and the whirl of other dancers, but Clary barely noticed. A couple moving past laughed and made a derisive comment in Czech; Clary couldnt understand it, but suspected the gist was Get a room.

  Jace made an impatient noise, and then he was moving through the crowd again, drawing her after him and into one of the shadowy alcoves that lined the walls.

  There were dozens of these circular alcoves, each lined with a stone bench and provided with a velvet curtain that could be pulled closed to provide a modicum of privacy. Jace yanked the curtain shut and they crashed against each other like the sea against the shore. Their mouths collided and slid together; Jace lifted her up so she was pressed against him, his fingers twisting in the slippery material of her dress.

  Clary was conscious of heat and softness, hands seeking and finding, yielding and pressure. Her hands under Jaces T-shirt, her fingernails clawing at his back, savagely pleased when he gasped. He bit down on her bottom lip and she tasted blood in her mouth, salt and hot. It was as if they wanted to cut each other apart, she thought, to climb inside each others bodies and share their heartbeats, even if it killed them both.

  It was dark in the alcove, so dark that Jace was only an outline of shadows and gold. His body pinned Clarys to the wall. His hands slid down along her body and reached the end of her dress, drawing it up along her legs.

  "What are you doing?" she whispered. "Jace?"

  He looked at her. The peculiar light in the club turned his eyes an array of fractured colors. His smile was wicked. "You can tell me to stop whenever you want," he said. "But you wont. "

  Sebastian drew aside the dusty velvet curtain that closed off the alcove, and smiled.

  A bench ran around the inside of the small circular room, and a man sat there, leaning his elbows on a stone table. He had long black hair tied back, a scar or mark in the shape of a leaf on one cheek, and his eyes were as green as grass. He wore a white suit, and a handkerchief with green leaf embroidery peeked from one pocket.

  "Jonathan Morgenstern," Meliorn said.

  Sebastian did not correct him. Faeries took great stock in names, and would never call him by anything but the name his father had chosen for him. "I wasnt sure you would be here at the appointed time, Meliorn. "

  "May I remind you that the Fair Folk do not lie," said the knight. He reached up and twitched the curtain shut behind Sebastian. The pounding music outside was discreetly muffled, though by no means inaudible. "Come in, then, and seat yourself. Wine?"

  Sebastian settled himself on the bench. "No, nothing. " Wine, like the faerie liquor, would only cloud his thoughts, and faeries seemed to have a higher tolerance. "I admit I was surprised when I received the message that you wished to meet here. "

  "You above all should know that the Lady has a special interest in you. She knows of all your movements. " Meliorn took a sip of wine. "There was a great demonic disturbance here in Prague tonight. The Queen was concerned. "

  Sebastian spread his arms out. "As you can see, I am unharmed. "

  "A disturbance so great will surely win the attention of the Nephilim. In fact, if I am not mistaken, several of them already disport themselves without. "

  "Without what?" Sebastian asked innocently.

  Meliorn took another sip of wine and glared.

  "Oh, right. I always forget the amusing way faeries talk. You mean there are Shadowhunters in the crowd outside, looking for me. I know that. I noticed them earlier. The Queen does not think much of me if she does not think I can handle a few Nephilim on my own. " Sebastian drew a dagger from his belt and twirled it, the very little light in the alcove sparking off the blade.

  "I shall tell her you said so," muttered Meliorn. "I must admit, I have no idea what attraction you hold for her. I have taken your measure and found it lacking, but I have not my ladys taste. "

  "Weighed in the balance and found wanting?" Amused, Sebastian leaned forward. "Let me break it down for you, faerie knight. Im young. Im pretty. And Im willing to burn the whole world to the ground to get what I want. " His dagger traced a crack in the stone table. "Like myself, the Queen is content to play a long game. But what I desire to know is this: When the twilight of the Nephilim comes, will the Courts stand with or against me?"

  Meliorns face was blank. "The Lady says she stands with you. "

  Sebastians mouth curled at the corner. "That is excel
lent news. "

  Meliorn snorted. "I always presumed the race of humans would end themselves," he said. "Through a thousand years I have prophesied that you would be your own deaths. But I did not expect the end to come like this. "

  Sebastian twirled the bright dagger between his fingers. "No one ever does. "

  "Jace," Clary whispered. "Jace, anyone could come in and see us. "

  His hands didnt stop what they were doing. "They wont. " He trailed a path of kisses down her neck, effectively scattering her thoughts. It was hard to hold on to what was real, with his hands on her, and her mind and memories in a whirl, and her fingers were so tightly bunched in Jaces shirt that she was sure she was going to rip the material.

  The stone wall was cold against her back, but Jace was kissing her shoulder, easing the strap of her dress down. She was hot and cold and shivering. The world had fractured into bits, like the bright pieces inside a kaleidoscope. She was going to come apart under his hands.

  "Jace-" She clung to his shirt. It was sticky, viscous. She glanced down at her hands and for a moment didnt comprehend what she saw there. Silver fluid, mixed with red.

  Blood.

  She looked up. Hanging upside-down from the ceiling above them, like a grisly pinata, was a human body, rope binding its ankles. Blood dripped from its cut throat.

  Clary screamed, but the scream made no sound. She pushed at Jace, who stumbled back; there was blood in his hair, on his shirt, on her bare skin. She pulled up the straps of her dress and stumbled to the curtain that hid the alcove, yanking it open.

  The statue of the angel was no longer quite as it had been. The black wings were bats wings, the lovely, benevolent face twisted into a sneer. Dangling from the ceiling on twisted ropes were the slaughtered bodies of men, women, animals-slashed open, their blood dripping down like rain. The fountains pulsed blood, and what floated on top of the liquid was not flowers but open severed hands. The writhing, clawing dancers on the floor were drenched in blood. As Clary watched, a couple spun by, the man tall and pale, the woman limp in his arms, her throat torn, obviously dead. The man licked his lips and bent down for another bite, but before he did, he glanced at Clary and grinned, and his face was streaked with blood and silver. She felt Jaces hand on her arm, tugging her back, but she fought free of him. She was staring at the glass tanks along the wall that she had thought held brilliant fish. The water was not clear but blackish and sludgy, and drowned human bodies floated in it, their hair spinning around them like the filaments of luminous jellyfish. She thought of Sebastian floating in his glass coffin. A scream rose in her throat, but she choked it back as silence and darkness overwhelmed her.

  Chapter 14: As Ashes

  Clary came back to consciousness slowly, with the dizzy sensation she recalled from that first morning in the Institute, when she had woken with no idea of where she was. Her whole body ached, and her head felt as if someone had smashed an iron barbell into it. She was lying on her side, her head pillowed on something rough, and there was a weight around her shoulder. Glancing down, she saw a slim hand, pressed protectively against her sternum. She recognized the Marks, the faint white scars, even the blue mapping of veins across his forearm. The weight inside her chest eased, and she sat up carefully, slipping out from under Jaces arm.

  They were in his bedroom. She recognized the incredible neatness, the carefully made bed with its hospital corners. It still wasnt disarranged. Jace was asleep, propped up against the headboard, still in the same clothes hed worn the night before. He even had his shoes on. He had clearly fallen asleep holding her, though she had no recollection of it. He was still splattered with the odd silvery substance from the club.

  He stirred slightly, as if sensing that she was gone, and wrapped his free arm around himself. He didnt look injured or hurt, she thought, just exhausted, his long dark gold eyelashes curled in the hollow of the shadows beneath his eyes. He looked vulnerable asleep-a little boy. He could have been her Jace.

  But he wasnt. She remembered the nightclub, his hands on her in the dark, the bodies and blood. Her stomach churned, and she put a hand over her mouth, swallowing down nausea. She felt sickened by what she remembered, and underneath the sickness was a nagging prickle, the sense that she was missing something.

  Something important.

  "Clary. "

  She turned. Jaces eyes were half-open; he was looking at her through his lashes, the gold of his eyes dulled with exhaustion. "Why are you awake?" he said. "Its barely dawn. "

  Her hands bunched in the tangle of blankets. "Last night," she said, her voice uneven. "The bodies-the blood-"

  "The what?"

  "Thats what I saw. "

  "I didnt. " He shook his head. "Faerie drugs," he said. "You knew. . . "

  "It seemed so real. "

  "Im sorry. " His eyes closed. "I wanted to have fun. Its supposed to make you happy. Make you see pretty things. I thought we would have fun together. "

  "I saw blood," she said. "And dead people floating in tanks-"

  He shook his head, his lashes fluttering down. "None of it was real. . . "

  "Even what happened with you and me-?" Clary broke off, because his eyes were closed, his chest rising and falling steadily. He was asleep.

  She rose to her feet, not looking at Jace, and went into the bathroom. She stood looking at herself in the mirror, numbness spreading through her bones. She was covered in smears of silvery residue. It reminded her of the time a metallic pen had burst inside her backpack, ruining everything in it. One of her bra straps had snapped, probably where Jace had yanked on it the night before. Her eyes were surrounded with smeared black stripes of mascara, and her skin and hair were sticky with silver.

  Feeling faint and sick, she stripped off the slip dress and her underwear, tossing them into the wastebasket before crawling into the hot water.

 
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