City of lost souls, p.9
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       City of Lost Souls, p.9
 

         Part #5 of The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare
Page 9

 

  The light of the seraph blade shot up like a star, and Camille hesitated-then flung herself at him again. She attacked, ripping her long nails along his cheek and shoulder. He felt the warmth and wetness of blood. Spinning, he slashed at her, but she rose into the air, darting just out of reach, laughing and taunting him.

  He ran for the stairs leading down to the platform. She rushed after him; he dodged aside, spun, and pushed off the wall into the air, leaping toward her just as she dived. They collided in midair, her screaming and slashing at him, him keeping a firm hold on her arm, even as they crashed to the ground, almost getting the wind knocked out of him. Keeping her earthbound was the key to winning the fight, and he silently thanked Jace, who had made him practice flips over and over in the training room until he could use almost any surface to get himself airborne for at least a moment or two.

  He slashed with the seraph blade as they rolled across the floor, and she deflected his blows easily, moving so fast she was a blur. She kicked at him with her high heels, stabbing his legs with their points. He winced and swore, and she responded with an impressive torrent of filth that involved his sex life with Magnus, her sex life with Magnus, and there might have been more had they not reached the center of the room, where the skylight above beamed a circle of sunshine onto the floor. Seizing her wrist, Alec forced Camilles hand down, into the light.

  She screamed as enormous white blisters appeared on her skin. Alec could feel the heat from her bubbling hand. Fingers laced with hers, he jerked her hand upright, back into the shadows. She snarled and snapped at him. He elbowed her in the mouth, splitting her lip. Vampire blood-shimmering bright red, brighter than human blood-dripped from the corner of her mouth.

  "Have you had enough?" he snarled. "Do you want more?" He began to force her hand back toward the sunlight. It had already begun to heal, the red, blistered skin fading to pink.

  "No!" She gasped, coughed, and began to tremble, her whole body spasming. After a moment he realized she was laughing-laughing up at him through the blood. "That made me feel alive, little Nephilim. A good fight like that-I should thank you. "

  "Thank me by giving me the answer to my question," Alec said, panting. "Or Ill ash you. Im sick of your games. "

  Her lips stretched into a smile. Her cuts had healed already, though her face was still bloody. "There is no way to make you immortal. Not without black magic or turning you into a vampire, and you have rejected both options. "

  "But you said-you said there was another way we could be together-"

  "Oh, there is. " Her eyes danced. "You may not be able to give yourself immortality, little Nephilim, at least not on any terms that would be acceptable to you. But you can take Magnuss away. "

  Clary sat in her bedroom at Lukes, a pen clutched in her hand, a piece of paper spread out on the desk in front of her. The sun had gone down, and the desk light was on, blazing down on the rune she had just begun.

  It had started to come to her on the L train home as shed stared unseeingly out the window. It was nothing that had ever existed before, and she had rushed home from the station while the image was still fresh in her mind, brushing away her mothers inquiries, closing herself in her room, putting pen to paper-

  A knock came on the door. Quickly Clary slid the paper she was drawing on under a blank sheet as her mother came into the room.

  "I know, I know," Jocelyn said, holding up a hand against Clarys protest. "You want to be left alone. But Luke made dinner, and you should eat. "

  Clary gave her mother a look. "So should you. " Jocelyn, like her daughter, was given to loss of appetite under stress, and her face looked hollow. She should have been preparing for her honeymoon now, getting ready to pack her bags for somewhere beautiful and far away. Instead the wedding was postponed indefinitely, and Clary could hear her crying through the walls at night. Clary knew that kind of crying, born out of anger and guilt, a crying that said This is all my fault.

  "Ill eat if you will," Jocelyn said, forcing a smile. "Luke made pasta. "

  Clary turned her chair around, deliberately angling her body to block her mothers view of her desk. "Mom," she said. "There was something I wanted to ask you. "

  "What is it?"

  Clary bit the end of her pen, a bad habit shed had since she started to draw. "When I was in the Silent City with Jace, the Brothers told me that theres a ceremony performed on Shadowhunters at birth, a ceremony that protects them. That the Iron Sisters and the Silent Brothers have to perform it. And I was wondering. . . "

  "If the ceremony was ever performed on you?"

  Clary nodded.

  Jocelyn exhaled and pushed her hands through her hair. "It was," she said. "I arranged it through Magnus. A Silent Brother was present, someone sworn to secrecy, and a female warlock who took the place of the Iron Sister. I almost didnt want to do it. I didnt want to think you could be in danger from the supernatural after Id hidden you so carefully. But Magnus talked me into it, and he was right. "

  Clary looked at her curiously. "Who was the female warlock?"

  "Jocelyn!" It was Luke calling from the kitchen. "The waters boiling over!"

  Jocelyn dropped a quick kiss on Clarys head. "Sorry. Culinary emergency. See you in five?"

  Clary nodded as her mother hurried from the room, then turned back to her desk. The rune she had been creating was still there, teasing the edge of her mind. She began to draw again, completing the design she had started. As she finished, she sat back and stared at what shed made. It looked a little like the Opening rune but wasnt. It was a pattern as simple as a cross and as new to the world as a just-born baby. It held a sleeping threat, a sense that it had been born out of her rage and guilt and impotent anger.

  It was a powerful rune. But though she knew exactly what it meant and how it could be used, she couldnt think of a single way in which it could possibly be helpful in the current situation. It was like having your car break down on a lonely road, rooting desperately around in the trunk, and triumphantly pulling out an electrical extension cord instead of jumper cables.

  She felt as if her own power was laughing at her. With a curse, she dropped her pen onto the desk and put her face in her hands.

  The inside of the old hospital had been carefully whitewashed, lending an eerie glow to each of the surfaces. Most of the windows were boarded up, but even in the dim light Maias enhanced sight could pick out details-the sifted dusting of plaster along the bare hallway floors, the marks where construction lights had been put in, bits of wiring glued to the walls by clumps of paint, mice scrabbling in the darkened corners.

  A voice spoke from behind her. "Ive searched the east wing. Nothing. What about you?"

  Maia turned. Jordan stood behind her, wearing dark jeans and a black sweater half-zipped over a green T-shirt. She shook her head. "Nothing in the west wing either. Some pretty rickety staircases. Nice architectural detailing, if that sort of thing interests you. "

  He shook his head. "Lets get out of here, then. This place gives me the creeps. "

  Maia agreed, relieved not to be the one who had to say it. She fell into step beside Jordan as they made their way down a set of stairs whose banister was so flaked with crumbling plaster that it resembled snow. She wasnt sure why exactly shed agreed to patrol with him, but she couldnt deny that they made a decent team.

  Jordan was easy to be with. Despite what had happened between them just before Jace had disappeared, he was respectful, keeping his distance without making her feel awkward. The moonlight was bright on both of them as they came out of the hospital and into the open space in front of it. It was a great white marble building whose boarded-over windows looked like blank eyes. A crooked tree, shedding its last leaves, hunched before the front doors.

  "Well, that was a waste of time," said Jordan. Maia looked over at him. He was staring at the old naval hospital, which was how she preferred it. She liked looking at Jordan when he wasnt looking at her. That way she co
uld watch the angle of his jawline, the way his dark hair curled against the back of his neck, the curve of his collarbone under the V of his T-shirt, without feeling like he expected anything from her for looking.

  Hed been a pretty hipster boy when shed met him, all angles and eyelashes, but he was older-looking now, with scarred knuckles and muscles that moved smoothly under his close-fitting green T-shirt. He still had the olive tone to his skin that echoed his Italian heritage, and the hazel eyes she remembered, though they had the gold-ringed pupils of lycanthropy now. The same pupils she saw when she looked in the mirror every morning. The pupils she had because of him.

  "Maia?" He was looking at her quizzically. "What do you think?"

  "Oh. " She blinked. "I, ah-No, I dont think there was much point in searching the hospital. I mean, to be honest, I cant see why they sent us down here at all. The Brooklyn Navy Yard? Why would Jace be here? Its not like he had a thing for boats. "

  Jordans expression went from quizzical to something much darker. "When bodies wind up in the East River, a lot of times they wash up here. The navy yard. "

  "You think were looking for a body?"

  "I dont know. " With a shrug he turned and started walking. His boots rustled in the dry, choppy grass. "Maybe at this point Im just searching because it feels wrong to give up. "

  His pace was slow, unhurried; they walked shoulder to shoulder, nearly touching. Maia kept her eyes fixed on the Manhattan skyline across the river, a wash of brilliant white light reflecting in the water. As they neared the shallow Wallabout Bay, the arch of the Brooklyn Bridge came into view, and the lit-up rectangle of the South Street Seaport across the water. She could smell the polluted miasma of the water, the dirt and diesel of the navy yard, the scent of small animals moving in the grass.

  "I dont think Jace is dead," she said finally. "I think he doesnt want to be found. "

  At that, Jordan did look at her. "Are you saying we shouldnt be looking?"

  "No. " She hesitated. They had come out by the river, near a low wall; she trailed her hand along the top of it as they walked. There was a narrow strip of asphalt between them and the water. "When I ran away to New York, I didnt want to be found. But I would have liked the idea that someone was looking for me as hard as everyones looking for Jace Lightwood. "

  "Did you like Jace?" Jordans voice was neutral.

  "Like him? Well, not like that. "

  Jordan laughed. "I didnt mean like that. Although, he seems to be generally considered stunningly attractive. "

  "Are you going to pull that straight-guy thing where you pretend that you cant tell whether other guys are attractive or not? Jace, the hairy guy at the deli on Ninth, they all look the same to you?"

  "Well, the hairy guy has that mole, so I think Jace comes out slightly ahead. If you like that whole chiseled, blond, Abercrombie-and-Fitch-wishes-they-could-afford-me thing. " He looked at her through his eyelashes.

  "I always liked dark-haired boys," she said in a low voice.

  He looked at the river. "Like Simon. "

  "Well-yeah. " Maia hadnt thought about Simon that way in a while. "I guess so. "

  "And you like musicians. " He reached up and pulled a leaf off a low-hanging branch overhead. "I mean, Im a singer, and Bat was a DJ, and Simon-"

  "I like music. " Maia pushed her hair back from her face.

  "What else do you like?" Jordan tore at the leaf in his fingers. He paused and hoisted himself up to sit on the low wall, swinging around to face her. "I mean, is there anything you like so much you think you might want to do it for, like, a living?"

  She looked at him in surprise. "What do you mean?"

  "Do you remember when I got these?" He unzipped his sweater and shrugged it off. The shirt he wore underneath was short-sleeved. Wrapped around each of his biceps were the Sanskrit words of the Shanti Mantras. She remembered them well. Their friend Valerie had inked them, after hours, for free, in her tattoo shop in Red Bank. Maia took a step toward him. With him sitting and her standing, they were nearly eye to eye. She reached out and hesitantly ran her fingers around the letters inked on his left arm. His eyes fluttered shut at her touch.

  "Lead us from the unreal to the real," she read aloud. "Lead us from darkness to light. Lead us from death to immortality. " His skin felt smooth under her fingertips. "From the Upanishads. "

  "They were your idea. You were the one who was always reading. You were the one who knew everything. . . . " He opened his eyes and looked at her. His eyes were shades lighter than the water behind him. "Maia, whatever you want to do, Ill help you. Ive saved up a lot of my salary from the Praetor. I could give it to you. . . . It could cover your tuition to Stanford. Well, most of it. If you still wanted to go. "

  "I dont know," she said, her mind whirling. "When I joined the pack, I thought you couldnt be a werewolf and anything else. I thought it was just about living in the pack, not really having an identity. I felt safer that way. But Luke, he has a life. He owns a bookstore. And you, youre in the Praetor. I guess. . . you can be more than one thing. "

  "You always have been. " His voice was low, throaty. "You know, what you said earlier-that when you ran away you would have liked to think someone was looking for you. " He took a deep breath. "I was looking for you. I never stopped. "

  She met his hazel eyes. He didnt move, but his hands, gripping his knees, were white-knuckled. Maia leaned forward, close enough to see the faint stubble along his jaw, to smell the scent of him, wolf-smell and toothpaste and boy. She placed her hands over his. "Well," she said. "You found me. "

  Their faces were only inches away from each other. She felt his breath against her lips before he kissed her, and she leaned into it, her eyes closing. His mouth was as soft as she remembered, his lips brushing hers gently, sending shivers all through her. She raised her arms to wind them around his neck, to slide her fingers under his curling dark hair, to lightly touch the bare skin at the nape of his neck, the edge of the worn collar of his shirt.

 
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