City of lost souls, p.6
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       City of Lost Souls, p.6
 

         Part #5 of The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare
Page 6

 

  I believe it, she thought. Im just not sure it matters. She knocked her shoulder gently against his again. "So, do you mind if I ask you something? Its personal but important. "

  A note of wariness crept into his voice. "What is it?"

  "With the whole Mark of Cain thing, does that mean if I accidentally kick you during the night, I get kicked in the shins seven times by an invisible force?"

  She felt him laugh. "Go to sleep, Fray. "

  Chapter 3 : Bad Angels

  "Man, I thought youd forgotten you lived here," Jordan said the moment Simon walked into the living room of their small apartment, his keys still dangling in his hand. Jordan was usually to be found sprawled out on their futon, his long legs dangling over the side, the controller for their Xbox in his hand. Today he was on the futon, but he was sitting up straight, his broad shoulders hunched forward, his hands in the pockets of his jeans, the controller nowhere to be seen. He sounded relieved to see Simon, and in a moment Simon realized why.

  Jordan wasnt alone in the apartment. Sitting across from him in a nubbly orange velvet armchair-none of Jordans furniture matched-was Maia, her wildly curling hair contained in two braids. The last time Simon had seen her, shed been glamorously dressed for a party. Now she was back in uniform: jeans with frayed cuffs, a long-sleeved T-shirt, and a caramel leather jacket. She looked as uncomfortable as Jordan did, her back straight, her gaze straying to the window. When she saw Simon, she clambered gratefully to her feet and gave him a hug. "Hey," she said. "I just stopped by to see how you were doing. "

  "Im fine. I mean, as fine as I could be with everything going on. "

  "I didnt mean about the whole Jace thing," she said. "I meant about you. How are you holding up?"

  "Me?" Simon was startled. "Im all right. Worried about Isabelle and Clary. You know the Clave was investigating her-"

  "And I heard she got cleared. Thats good. " Maia let him go. "But I was thinking about you. And what happened with your mom. "

  "How did you know about that?" Simon shot Jordan a look, but Jordan shook his head, almost imperceptibly. He hadnt told.

  Maia pulled on a braid. "I ran into Eric, of all people. He told me what happened and that youd backed out of Millenium Lints gigs for the past two weeks because of it. "

  "Actually, they changed their name," Jordan said. "Theyre Midnight Burrito now. "

  Maia shot Jordan an irritated look, and he slid down a little in his seat. Simon wondered what theyd been talking about before hed gotten home. "Have you talked to anyone else in your family?" Maia asked, her voice soft. Her amber eyes were full of concern. Simon knew it was churlish, but there was something about being looked at like that that he didnt like. It was as if her concern made the problem real, when otherwise he could pretend it wasnt happening.

  "Yeah," he said. "Everythings fine with my family. "

  "Really? Because you left your phone here. " Jordan picked it up from the side table. "And your sisters been calling you about every five minutes all day. And yesterday. "

  A cold feeling spread through Simons stomach. He took the phone from Jordan and looked at the screen. Seventeen missed calls from Rebecca.

  "Crap," he said. "I was hoping to avoid this. "

  "Well, shes your sister," said Maia. "She was going to call you eventually. "

  "I know, but Ive been sort of fending her off-leaving messages when I knew she wouldnt be there, that kind of thing. I just. . . I guess I was avoiding the inevitable. "

  "And now?"

  Simon set the phone down on the windowsill. "Keep avoiding it?"

  "Dont. " Jordan took his hands out of his pockets. "You should talk to her. "

  "And say what?" The question came out more sharply than Simon had intended.

  "Your mother must have told her something," said Jordan. "Shes probably worried. "

  Simon shook his head. "Shell be coming home for Thanksgiving in a few weeks. I dont want her to get mixed up in whats going on with my mom. "

  "Shes already mixed up in it. Shes your family," said Maia. "Besides, this-whats going on with your mom, all of it-this is your life now. "

  "Then, I guess I want her to stay out of it. " Simon knew he was being unreasonable, but he didnt seem to be able to help it. Rebecca was-special. Different. From a part of his life that had so far remained untouched by all this weirdness. Maybe the only part.

  Maia threw her hands up and turned to Jordan. "Say something to him. Youre his Praetorian guard. "

  "Oh, come on," said Simon before Jordan could open his mouth. "Are either of you in touch with your parents? Your families?"

  They exchanged quick looks. "No," Jordan said slowly, "but neither of us had good relationships with them before-"

  "I rest my case," said Simon. "Were all orphans. Orphans of the storm. "

  "You cant just ignore your sister," insisted Maia.

  "Watch me. "

  "And when Rebecca comes home and your house looks like the set of The Exorcist? And your mom has no explanation for where you are?" Jordan leaned forward, his hands on his knees. "Your sister will call the police, and your mom will end up committed. "

  "I just dont think Im ready to hear her voice," Simon said, but he knew hed lost the argument. "I have to head back out, but I promise, Ill text her. "

  "Well," Jordan said. He was looking at Maia, not Simon, as he said it, as if he hoped shed notice hed made progress with Simon and be pleased. Simon wondered if theyd been seeing each other at all during the past two weeks when hed been largely absent. He would have guessed no from the awkward way theyd been sitting when hed come in, but with these two it was hard to be sure. "Its a start. "

  The rattling gold elevator stopped at the third floor of the Institute; Clary took a deep breath and stepped out into the hallway. The place was, as Alec and Isabelle had promised her it would be, deserted and quiet. The traffic on York Avenue outside was a soft murmur. She imagined she could hear the brush of dust motes against one another as they danced in the window light. Along the wall were the pegs where the residents of the Institute hung their coats when they came inside. One of Jaces black jackets still dangled from a hook, the sleeves empty and ghostly.

  With a shiver she set off down the hallway. She could remember the first time Jace had taken her through these corridors, his careless light voice telling her about Shadowhunters, about Idris, about the whole secret world she had never known existed. She had watched him as hed talked-covertly, shed thought, but she knew now that Jace noticed everything-watching the light glint off his pale hair, the quick movements of his graceful hands, the flex of the muscles in his arms as hed gestured.

  She reached the library without encountering another Shadowhunter and pushed the door open. The room still gave her the same shiver it had the first time shed seen it. Circular because it was built inside a tower, the library had a second floor gallery, railed, that ran along the midpoint of the walls, just above the rows of bookshelves. The desk Clary still thought of as Hodges rested in the center of the room, carved from a single slab of oak, the wide surface rested on the backs of two kneeling angels. Clary half-expected Hodge to stand up behind it, his keen-eyed raven, Hugo, perched on his shoulder.

  Shaking off the memory, she headed quickly for the circular staircase at the far end of the room. She was wearing jeans and rubber-soled sneakers, and a soundless rune was carved into her ankle; the silence was almost eerie as she bounded up the steps and onto the gallery. There were books up here too, but they were locked away behind glass cases. Some looked very old, their covers frayed, their bindings reduced to a few strings. Others were clearly books of dark or dangerous magic-Unspeakable Cults, The Demons Pox, A Practical Guide to Raising the Dead.

  Between the locked bookshelves were glass display cases. Each held something of rare and beautiful workmanship-a delicate glass flacon whose stopper was an enormous emerald; a crown with a diamond in the center that did not look as if it would fit any
human head; a pendant in the shape of an angel whose wings were clockwork cogs and gears; and in the last case, just as Isabelle had promised, a pair of gleaming golden rings shaped like curling leaves, the faerie work as delicate as babys breath.

  The case was locked, of course, but the Opening rune-Clary biting her lip as she drew it, careful not to make it too powerful lest the glass case burst apart and bring people running-unsnapped the lock. Carefully she eased the case open. It was only as she slid her stele back into her pocket that she hesitated.

  Was this really her? Stealing from the Clave to pay the Queen of the Fair Folk, whose promises, as Jace had told her once, were like scorpions, with a barbed sting in the tail?

  She shook her head as if to clear the doubts away-and froze. The door to the library was opening. She could hear the creak of wood, muffled voices, footsteps. Without another thought she dropped to the ground, flattening herself against the cold wooden floor of the gallery.

  "You were right, Jace," came a voice-coolly amused, and horribly familiar-from below. "The place is deserted. "

  The ice that had been in Clarys veins seemed to crystallize, freezing her in place. She could not move, could not breathe. She had not felt a shock this intense since she had seen her father run a sword through Jaces chest. Very slowly she inched toward the edge of the gallery and looked down.

  And bit down on her lip savagely to keep herself from screaming.

  The sloping roof above rose to a point and was set with a glass skylight. Sunlight poured down through the skylight, lighting a portion of the floor like a spotlight on a stage. She could see that the chips of glass and marble and bits of semiprecious stone that were inlaid in the floor formed a design-the Angel Raziel, the cup and the sword. Standing directly on one of the Angels outspread wings was Jonathan Christopher Morgenstern.

  Sebastian.

  So this was what her brother looked like. Really looked like, alive and moving and animated. A pale face, all angles and planes, tall and slim in black gear. His hair was silvery white, not dark as it had been when she had first seen him, dyed to match the color of the real Sebastian Verlacs. His own pale color suited him better. His eyes were black and snapping with life and energy. The last time shed seen him, floating in a glass coffin like Snow White, one of his hands had been a bandaged stump. Now that hand was whole again, with a silver bracelet glittering on the wrist, but nothing visible showed that it had ever been damaged-and more than damaged, had been missing.

  And there beside him, golden hair shimmering in the pale sunlight, was Jace. Not Jace as she had imagined him so often over the past two weeks-beaten or bleeding or suffering or starving, locked away in some dark cell, screaming in pain or calling out for her. This was Jace as she remembered him, when she let herself remember-flushed and healthy and vibrant and beautiful. His hands were careless in the pockets of his jeans, his Marks visible through his white T-shirt. Over it was thrown an unfamiliar tan suede jacket that brought out the gold undertones to his skin. He tipped his head back, as if enjoying the feeling of sun on his face. "Im always right, Sebastian," he said. "You ought to know that about me by now. "

  Sebastian gave him a measured look, and then a smile. Clary stared. It had every appearance of being a real smile. But what did she know? Sebastian had smiled at her before, and that had turned out to be one big lie. "So where are the books on summoning? Is there any order to the chaos here?"

  "Not really. Its not alphabetized. It follows Hodges special system. "

  "Isnt he the one I killed? Inconvenient, that," said Sebastian. "Perhaps I should take the upstairs level and you the downstairs. "

  He moved toward the staircase that led up to the gallery. Clarys heart began to pound with fear. She associated Sebastian with murder, blood, pain, and terror. She knew that Jace had fought him and won once but had nearly died in the process himself. In a hand-to-hand fight she would never beat her brother. Could she fling herself from the gallery railing to the floor without breaking a leg? And if she did, what would happen then? What would Jace do?

  Sebastian had his foot on the lowest step when Jace called out to him, "Wait. Theyre here. Filed under Magic, Nonlethal. "

  "Nonlethal? Wheres the fun in that?" Sebastian purred, but he took his foot off the step and moved back toward Jace. "This is quite a library," he said, reading off titles as he passed them. "The Care and Feeding of Your Pet Imp. Demons Revealed. " He plucked that one off the shelf and let out a long, low chuckle.

  "What is it?" Jace looked up, his mouth curving upward. Clary wanted to run downstairs and throw herself at him so badly that she bit down on her lip again. The pain was acid sharp.

  "Its pornography," said Sebastian. "Look. Demons. . . revealed. "

  Jace came up behind him, resting one hand on Sebastians arm for balance as he read over his shoulder. It was like watching Jace with Alec, someone he was so comfortable with, he could touch them without thinking about it-but horrible, backward, inside out. "Okay, how can you tell?"

  Sebastian shut the book and hit Jace lightly on the shoulder with it. "Some things I know more about than you. Did you get the books?"

  "I got them. " Jace scooped up a stack of heavy-looking tomes from a nearby table. "Do we have time to go by my room? If I could get some of my stuff. . . "

  "What do you want?"

  Jace shrugged. "Clothes mostly, some weapons. "

  Sebastian shook his head. "Too dangerous. We need to get in and out fast. Only emergency items. "

  "My favorite jacket is an emergency item," Jace said. It was so much like hearing him talk to Alec, to any of his friends. "Much like myself, it is both snuggly and fashionable. "

 
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