City of lost souls, p.44
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       City of Lost Souls, p.44
 

         Part #5 of The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare
Page 44

 

  "Its you," she whispered. "Its really you. "

  He drew back to look at her. With his free hand he traced her cheekbone gently. She had missed that, his gentleness. It was one of the things that had made her fall in love with him in the first place-realizing that this scarred, sarcastic boy was gentle with the things he loved.

  "I missed you," she said. "I missed you so much. "

  He closed his eyes as if the words hurt. She put her hand to his cheek. He leaned his head into her palm, his hair tickling her knuckles, and she realized his face was wet too.

  The boy never cried again.

  "Its not your fault," she said. She kissed his cheek with the same tenderness he had showed her. She tasted salt-blood and tears. He still hadnt spoken, but she could feel the wild beat of his heart against her chest. His arms were tight around her, as if he never meant to let go. She kissed his cheekbone, his jaw, and finally his mouth, a light press of lips on lips.

  There was none of the frenzy there had been in the nightclub. It was a kiss meant to give solace, to say everything there was no time to say. He kissed her back, hesitant at first, then with greater urgency, his hand stealing up into her hair, winding the tresses between his fingers. Their kisses deepened slowly, softly, the intensity growing between them as it always did, like a blaze that started with a single match and flared into wildfire.

  She knew how strong he was, but she still felt a shock as he carried her to the bed and laid her down gently among the scattered pillows, sliding his body over hers, one smooth gesture that reminded her what all those Marks on his body were for. Strength. Grace. Lightness of touch. She breathed his breath as they kissed, each kiss drawn out now, lingering, exploratory. Her hands drifted over him, his shoulders, the muscles of his arms, his back. His bare skin felt like hot silk under her palms.

  When his hands found the hem of her tank top, she stretched her arms out, arching her back, wanting every barrier between them gone. The moment it was off, she pulled him back against her, their kisses fiercer now, as if they were struggling to reach some hidden place inside each other. She wouldnt have thought they could get any closer, but somehow as they kissed, they wound themselves into each other like intricate thread, each kiss hungrier, deeper than the last.

  Their hands moved quickly over each other, and then more slowly, uncovering and unhurried. She dug her fingers into his shoulders when he kissed her throat, her collarbones, the star-shaped mark on her shoulder. She grazed his scar too, with the backs of her knuckles, and kissed the wounded Mark Lilith had made on his chest. She felt him shudder, wanting her, and she knew she was on the very brink of where there was no going back, and she didnt care. She knew what it was like to lose him now. She knew the black empty days that came after. And she knew that if she lost him again, she wanted this to remember. To hold on to. That she had been as close to him once as you could be to another person. She locked her ankles around the small of his back, and he groaned against her mouth, a soft, low, helpless sound. His fingers dug into her hips.

  "Clary. " He pulled away. He was shaking. "I cant. . . If we dont stop now, we wont be able to. "

  "Dont you want to?" She looked up at him in surprise. He was flushed, tousled, his fair hair a darker gold where sweat had pasted it to his forehead and temples. She could feel his heart stuttering inside his chest.

  "Yes, its just Ive never-"

  "You havent?" She was surprised. "Done this before?"

  He took a deep breath. "I have. " His eyes searched her face, as if he were looking for judgment, disapprobation, even disgust. Clary looked back at him evenly. It was what she had assumed, anyway. "But not when it mattered. " He touched her cheek with his fingers, feather-light. "I dont even know how. . . "

  Clary laughed softly. "I think its just been established that you do. "

  "Thats not what I meant. " He caught her hand and brought it to his face. "I want you," he said, "more than I have ever wanted anything in my life. But I. . . " He swallowed. "Name of the Angel. Im going to kick myself for this later. "

  "Dont say youre trying to protect me," she said fiercely. "Because I-"

  "Its not that," he said. "Im not being self-sacrificing. Im. . . jealous. "

  "Youre-jealous? Of who?"

  "Myself. " His face twisted. "I hate the thought of him being with you. Him. That other me. The one Sebastian controls. "

  She felt her face start to burn. "At the club. . . last night. . . "

  He dropped his head to her shoulder. A little bewildered, she stroked his back, feeling the scratches where her fingernails had torn his skin at the nightclub. The specific memory made her blush even harder. So did the knowledge that he could have gotten rid of the scratches with an iratze if hed wanted to. But he hadnt. "I remember everything about last night," he said. "And it makes me crazy, because it was me but it wasnt. When were together, I want it to be the real you. The real me. "

  "Isnt that what we are now?"

  "Yes. " He raised his head, kissed her mouth. "But for how long? I could turn back into him any minute. I couldnt do that to you. To us. " His voice was bitter. "I dont even know how you can stand it, being around this thing that isnt me-"

  "Even if you go back to being that in five minutes," she said, "it would have been worth it, just to be with you like this again. Not to have it end on that rooftop. Because this is you, and even that other you-theres pieces of the real you in there. Its like Im looking through a blurred window at you, but its not the real you. And at least I know now. "

  "What do you mean?" His hands tightened on her shoulders. "What do you mean at least you know?"

  She took a deep breath. "Jace, when we were first together, like really together, you were so happy for that first month. And everything we did together was funny and fun and amazing. And then it was like it just started draining out of you, all that happiness. You didnt want to be with me or look at me-"

  "I was afraid I was going to hurt you. I thought I was losing my mind. "

  "You didnt smile or laugh or joke. And Im not blaming you. Lilith was creeping into your mind, controlling you. Changing you. But you have to remember-I know how stupid this sounds-I never had a boyfriend before. I thought maybe it was normal. That maybe you were just getting tired of me. "

  "I couldnt-"

  "Im not asking for reassurance," she said. "Im telling you. When youre-like you are, controlled-you seem happy. I came here because I wanted to save you. " Her voice dropped. "But I started to wonder what I was saving you from. How I could bring you back to a life you seemed so unhappy with. "

  "Unhappy?" He shook his head. "I was lucky. So, so lucky. And I couldnt see it. " His eyes met hers. "I love you," he said. "And you make me happier than I ever thought I could be. And now that I know what its like to be someone else-to lose myself-I want my life back. My family. You. All of it. " His eyes darkened. "I want it back. "

  His mouth came down on hers, with bruising pressure, their lips open, hot and hungry, and his hands gripped her waist-and then the sheets on either side of her, almost tearing them. He pulled back, panting. "We cant-"

  "Then quit kissing me!" she gasped. "In fact-" She ducked out from under his grip, grabbing for her tank top. "Ill be right back. "

  She pushed past him and darted into the bathroom, locking the door behind her. She flicked on the light, and stared at herself in the mirror. She looked wild-eyed, her hair tangled, her lips swollen from kisses. She blushed and pulled her top back on, splashing cold water on her face, twisting her hair back into a knot. When she had convinced herself she no longer looked like the ravished maiden from the cover of a romance novel, she went for the hand towels-nothing romantic about that-grabbing one and wetting it down, then rubbing it with soap.

  She came back out into the bedroom. Jace was sitting on the edge of the bed, in jeans and a clean, unbuttoned shirt, his tousled hair outlined by moonlight. He looked like a statue of an angel. Only, angels werent usually st
reaked with blood.

  She moved to stand in front of him. "All right," she said. "Take off your shirt. "

  Jace raised his eyebrows.

  "Im not going to attack you," she said impatiently. "I can take the sight of your naked chest without swooning. "

  "Are you sure?" he asked, obediently sliding the shirt off his shoulders. "Because viewing my naked chest has caused many women to seriously injure themselves stampeding to get to me. "

  "Yeah, well, I dont see anyone here but me. And I just want to clean the blood off you. " He leaned back obediently on his hands. Blood had soaked through the shirt hed been wearing and streaked his chest and the flat planes of his stomach, but as she ran her fingers carefully over him, she could feel that most of his cuts were shallow. The iratze hed put on himself earlier was already causing them to fade.

  He turned his face up to her, eyes shut, as she ran the damp washcloth over his skin, blood pinking the white cotton. She scrubbed at the dried streaks on his neck, wrung out the cloth, dunked it in the glass of water on the nightstand, and went to work on his chest. He sat with his head tilted back, watching her as the cloth glided over the muscles of his shoulders, the smooth line of arms, forearms, hard chest scarred with white lines, the black of permanent Marks.

  "Clary," he said.

  "Yes?"

  The humor had gone from his voice. "I wont remember this," he said. "When Im back-like I was, under his control, I wont remember being myself. I wont remember being with you, or talking to you like this. So just tell me-are they all right? My family? Do they know-"

  "Whats happened to you? A little. And no, theyre not all right. " His eyes closed. "I could lie to you," she said. "But you should know. They love you so much, and they want you back. "

  "Not like this," he said.

  She touched his shoulder. "Are you going to tell me what happened? How you got these cuts?"

  He took a deep breath, and the scar on his chest stood out, livid and dark. "I killed someone. "

  She felt the shock of his words go through her body like the recoil of a gun. She dropped the bloody towel, then bent down to retrieve it. When she looked up, he was staring down at her. In the moonlight the lines of his face were fine and sharp and sad. "Who?" she asked.

  "You met her," Jace went on, each word like a weight. "The woman you went to visit with Sebastian. The Iron Sister. Magdalena. " He twisted away from her and reached back to retrieve something tangled among the blankets of the bed. The muscles in his arms and back moved under the skin as he took hold of it and turned back to Clary, the object gleaming in his hand.

  It was a clear, glassine chalice-an exact replica of the Mortal Cup, except that instead of being gold, it was carved of silvery-white adamas.

  "Sebastian sent me-sent him-to get this from her tonight," Jace said. "And he also gave me the order to kill her. She wasnt expecting it. She wasnt expecting any violence, just payment and exchange. She thought we were on the same side. I let her hand me the Cup, and then I took my dagger and I-" He inhaled sharply, as if the memory hurt. "I stabbed her. I meant it to be through the heart, but she turned and I missed by inches. She staggered back and grabbed for her worktable-there was powdered adamas on it-she threw it at me. I think she meant to blind me. I turned my head away, and when I looked back she had an aegis in her hand. I think I knew what it was. The light of it seared my eyes. I cried out as she drove it toward my chest-I felt a searing pain in the Mark, and then the blade shattered. " He looked down and gave a mirthless laugh. "The funny thing is, if Id been wearing gear, this wouldnt have happened. I didnt because I didnt think it was worth the bother. I didnt think she could hurt me. But the aegis burned the Mark-Liliths Mark-and suddenly I was back in myself, standing there over this dead woman with a bloody dagger in my hand and the Cup in the other. "

  "I dont understand. Why did Sebastian tell you to kill her? She was going to give the Cup to you. To Sebastian. She said-"

  Jace expelled a ragged breath. "Do you remember what Sebastian said about that clock in Old Town Square? In Prague?"

  "That the king had the clock makers eyes put out after he made it, so he could never make anything as beautiful again," Clary said. "But I dont see-"

  "Sebastian wanted Magdalena dead so she could never make anything like this again," said Jace. "And so she could never tell. "

  "Tell what?" She put her hand up, took hold of Jaces chin, and drew his face down so that he was looking at her. "Jace, what is Sebastian really planning on doing? The story he told in the training room, about wanting to raise demons so he could destroy them-"

  "Sebastian wants to raise demons all right. " Jaces voice was grim. "One demon in particular. Lilith. "

  "But Liliths dead. Simon destroyed her. "

  "Greater Demons dont die. Not really. Greater Demons inhabit the spaces between worlds, the great Void, the emptiness. What Simon did was shatter her power, send her in shreds back to the nothingness she came from. But shell slowly reform there. Be reborn. It would take centuries, but not if Sebastian helps her. "

  A cold feeling was growing in the pit of Clarys stomach. "Helps her how?"

  "By summoning her back to this world. He wants to mix her blood and his in a cup and create an army of dark Nephilim. He wants to be Jonathan Shadowhunter reincarnated, but on the side of the demons, not the angels. "

  "An army of dark Nephilim? The two of you are tough, but youre not exactly an army. "

  "There are about forty or fifty Nephilim who either were once loyal to Valentine, or hate the current direction of the Clave and are open to hearing what Sebastian has to say. Hes been in contact with them. When he raises Lilith, theyll be there. " Jace took a deep breath. "And after that? With the power of Lilith behind him? Who knows who else will join his cause? He wants a war. Hes convinced hell win it, and Im not sure he wont. For every dark Nephilim he makes, he will grow in power. Add that to the demons hes already made allegiances with, and I dont know if the Clave is prepared to withstand him. "

 
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