City of lost souls – Chapter 10: The Wild Hunt

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Chapter 10: The Wild Hunt

Jordans old room at the Praetor House looked like any dormitory room at any college. There were two iron-framed beds, each set against a different wall. Through the window separating them green lawns were visible three floors down. Jordans side of the room was fairly bare-it looked as if he had taken most of his photographs and books with him to Manhattan-though there were some tacked-up pictures of beaches and the ocean, and a surfboard leaning against one wall. A little jolt went through Maia as she saw that on the bedside table was a gold-framed photo of her with Jordan, taken at Ocean City, the boardwalk and the beach behind them.

Jordan looked at the photograph and then at her, and blushed. He slung his bag onto his bed and stripped off his jacket, his back to her.

“When will your roommate be back?” she asked into the suddenly uncomfortable silence. She wasnt sure why they were both embarrassed. They certainly hadnt been when theyd been in the truck together, but now, here in Jordans space, the years they had spent not speaking seemed to press them apart.

“Who knows? Nicks on assignment. Theyre dangerous. He might not come back. ” Jordan sounded resigned. He tossed his jacket over the back of a chair. “Why dont you lie down? Im going to take a shower. ” He headed for the bathroom, which, Maia was relieved to see, was attached to his room. She didnt feel like dealing with one of those shared-bathroom-down-the-hall things.

“Jordan-,” she began, but hed already closed the bathroom door behind him. She could hear water running. With a sigh she kicked off her shoes and lay down on the absent Nicks bed. The blanket was dark blue plaid, and smelled like pinecones. She looked up and saw that the ceiling was wallpapered with photographs. The same laughing blond boy, who looked about seventeen, smiled down at her out of each picture. Nick, she guessed. He looked happy. Had Jordan been happy, here at the Praetor House?

She reached out and flipped the photograph of the two of them toward her. It had been taken years ago, when Jordan was skinny, with big hazel eyes that dominated his face. They had their arms around each other and looked sunburned and happy. Summer had darkened both their skins and put light streaks in Maias hair, and Jordan had his head turned slightly toward her, as if he were going to say something or kiss her. She couldnt remember which. Not anymore.

She thought of the boy whose bed she was sitting on, the boy who might never come back. She thought of Luke, slowly dying, and of Alaric and Gretel and Justine and Theo and all the others of her pack who had lost their lives in the war against Valentine. She thought of Max, and of Jace, two Lightwoods lost-for, she had to admit in her heart, she didnt think they would ever get Jace back. And lastly and strangely she thought of Daniel, the brother she had never mourned for, and to her surprise she felt tears sting the backs of her eyes.

She sat up abruptly. She felt as if the world were tilting and she was clinging on helplessly, trying to keep from tumbling into a black abyss. She could feel the shadows closing in. With Jace lost and Sebastian out there, things could only get darker. There would only be more loss and more death. She had to admit, the most alive shed felt in weeks had been those moments at dawn, kissing Jordan in his car.

As if she were in a dream, she found herself getting to her feet. She walked across the room and opened the door to the bathroom. The shower was a square of frosted glass; she could see Jordans silhouette through it. She doubted he could hear her over the running water as she pulled off her sweater and shimmied out of her jeans and underwear. With a deep breath she crossed the room, slid the shower door open, and stepped inside.

Jordan spun around, pushing the wet hair out of his eyes. The shower was running hot, and his face was flushed, making his eyes shine as if the water had polished them. Or maybe it wasnt just the water making the blood rise under his skin as his eyes took her in-all of her. She looked back at him steadily, not embarrassed, watching the way the Praetor Lupus pendant shone in the wet hollow of his throat, and the slide of the soap suds over his shoulders and chest as he stared at her, blinking water out of his eyes. He was beautiful, but then she had always thought so.

“Maia?” he said unsteadily. “Are you. . . ?”

“Shh. ” She put her finger against his lips, drawing the shower door closed with her other hand. Then she stepped closer, wrapping both arms around him, letting the water wash both of them clean of the darkness. “Dont talk. Just kiss me. ”

So he did.

“What in the name of the Angel do you mean Clary isnt there?” Jocelyn demanded, white-faced. “How do you know that, if you just woke up? Where has she gone?”

Simon swallowed. He had grown up with Jocelyn as almost a second mother to him. He was used to her protectiveness of her daughter, but she had always seen him as an ally in that, someone who would stand between Clary and the dangers of the world. Now she was looking at him like the enemy. “She texted me last night. . . ,” Simon began, then stopped as Magnus waved him over to the table.

“You might as well sit down,” he said. Isabelle and Alec were watching wide-eyed from either side of Magnus, but the warlock didnt look particularly surprised. “Tell us all whats going on. I have a feeling this is going to take a while. ”

It did, though not as long as Simon might have hoped. When he was done explaining, hunched over on his chair and staring down at Magnuss scratched table, he lifted his head to see Jocelyn fixing him with a green stare as cold as arctic water. “You let my daughter go off. . . with Jace. . . to some unfindable, untraceable place where none of us can reach her?”

Simon looked down at his hands. “I can reach her,” he said, holding up his right hand with the gold ring on the finger. “I told you. I heard from her this morning. She said she was fine. ”

“You never should have let her leave in the first place!”

“I didnt let her. She was going to go anyway. I thought she might as well have some kind of a lifeline, since its not like I could stop her. ”

“To be fair,” said Magnus, “I dont think anyone could. Clary does what she wants. ” He looked at Jocelyn. “You cant keep her in a cage. ”

“I trusted you,” she snapped at Magnus. “How did she get out?”

“She made a Portal. ”

“But you said there were wards-”

“To keep threats out, not to keep guests in. Jocelyn, your daughter isnt stupid, and she does what she thinks is right. You cant stop her. No one can stop her. She is a great deal like her mother. ”

Jocelyn looked at Magnus for a moment, her mouth slightly open, and Simon realized that of course Magnus must have known Clarys mother when she was young, when she betrayed Valentine and the Circle and nearly died in the Uprising. “Shes a little girl,” she said, and turned to Simon. “Youve spoken to her? Using these-these rings? Since she left?”

“This morning,” said Simon. “She said she was fine. That everything was fine. ”

Instead of seeming reassured, Jocelyn only looked angrier. “Im sure thats what she said. Simon, I cant believe you allowed her to do this. You should have restrained her-”

“What, tied her up?” Simon said in disbelief. “Handcuffed her to the diner table?”

“If thats what it took. Youre stronger than she is. Im disappointed in-”

Isabelle stood up. “Okay, thats enough. ” She glared at Jocelyn. “It is totally and completely unfair to yell at Simon over something Clary decided to do on her own. And if Simon had tied her up for you, then what? Were you planning on keeping her tied up forever? Youd have to let her go eventually, and then what? She wouldnt trust Simon anymore, and she already doesnt trust you because you stole her memories. And that, if I recall, was because you were trying to protect her. Maybe if you hadnt protected her so much, she would know more about what is dangerous and what isnt, and be a little less secretive-and less reckless!”

Everyone stared at Isabelle, and for a moment Simon was reminded of something that Clary had said to him once-that Izzy rarely made speeches, but when she did, she made them count. Jocelyn was white around the lips.

“Im going to the station to be with Luke,” she said. “Simon, I expect reports from you every twenty-four hours that my daughter is all right. If I dont hear from you every night, Im going to the Clave. ”

And she stalked out of the apartment, slamming the door behind her so hard that a long crack appeared in the plaster beside it.

Isabelle sat back down, this time beside Simon. He said nothing to her but held out his hand, and she took it, slipping her fingers between his.

“So,” Magnus said finally, breaking the silence. “Whos up for raising Azazel? Because were going to need a whole lot of candles. ”

Jace and Clary spent the day wandering-through mazelike tiny streets than ran along canals whose water ranged from deep green to murky blue. They made their way among the tourists in Saint Marks Square, and over the Bridge of Sighs, and drank small, powerful cups of espresso at Caffe Florian. The disorienting maze of streets reminded Clary a bit of Alicante, though Alicante lacked Venices feeling of elegant decay. There were no roads here, no cars, only twisting little alleys, and bridges arching over canals whose water was as green as malachite. As the sky overhead darkened to the deep blue of late autumn twilight, lights began to go on-in tiny boutiques, in bars and restaurants that seemed to appear out of nowhere and disappear again into shadow as she and Jace passed, leaving light and laughter behind.

When Jace asked Clary if she was ready for dinner, she nodded firmly, yes. She had begun to feel guilty that she had gotten no information out of him and that she was, actually, enjoying herself. As they crossed over a bridge to the Dorsoduro, one of the quieter sections of the city, away from the tourist throng, she determined that she would get something out of him that night, something worth relaying to Simon.

Jace held her hand firmly as they went over a final bridge and the street opened out into a great square on the side of an enormous canal the size of a river. The basilica of a domed church rose on their right. Across the canal more of the city lit the evening, throwing illumination onto the water, which shifted and glimmered with light. Clarys hands itched for chalk and pencils, to draw the light as it faded out of the sky, the darkening water, the jagged outlines of the buildings, their reflections slowly dimming in the canal. Everything seemed washed with a steely blueness. Somewhere church bells were chiming.

She tightened her hand on Jaces. She felt very far away here from everything in her life, distant in a way that she had not felt in Idris. Venice shared with Alicante the sense of being a place out of time, torn from the past, as if she had stepped into a painting or the pages of a book. But it was also a real place, one she had grown up knowing about, wanting to visit. She looked sidelong at Jace, who was gazing down the canal. The steely blue light was on him, too, darkening his eyes, the shadows under his cheekbones, the lines of his mouth. When he caught her gaze on him, he looked over and smiled.

He led her around the church and down a flight of mossy steps to a path along the canal. Everything smelled of wet stone and water and dampness and years. As the sky darkened, something broke the surface of the canal water a few feet from Clary. She heard the splash and looked in time to see a green-haired woman rise from the water and grin at her; she had a beautiful face but sharklike teeth and a fishs yellow eyes. Pearls were wound through her hair. She sank again below the water, without a ripple.

“Mermaid,” said Jace. “There are old families of them that have lived here in Venice a long, long time. Theyre a little odd. They do better in clean water, far out to sea, living on fish instead of garbage. ” He looked toward the sunset. “The whole city is sinking,” he said. “Itll all be under water in a hundred years. Imagine swimming down into the ocean and touching the top of Saint Marks Basilica. ” He pointed across the water.

Clary felt a flicker of sadness at the thought of all this beauty being lost. “Isnt there anything they can do?”

“To raise a whole city? Or hold back the ocean? Not much,” Jace said. They had come to a set of stairs leading up. The wind came off the water and lifted his dark gold hair off his forehead, his neck. “All things tend toward entropy. The whole universe is moving outward, the stars pulling away from one another, God knows what falling through the cracks between them. ” He paused. “Okay, that sounded a little crazy. ”

“Maybe it was all the wine at lunch. ”

“I can hold my liquor. ” They turned a corner, and a fairyland of lights gleamed out at them. Clary blinked, her eyes adjusting. It was a small restaurant with tables set outside and inside, heat lamps wound with Christmas lights like a forest of magical trees between the tables. Jace detached himself from her long enough to get them a table, and soon they were sitting by the side of the canal, listening to the splash of water against stone and the sound of small boats bobbing up and down with the tide.

Tiredness was beginning to wash over Clary in waves, like the lap of water against the sides of the canal. She told Jace what she wanted and let him order in Italian, relieved when the waiter went away so she could lean forward and rest her elbows on the table, her head on her hands.

“I think I have jet lag,” she said. “Interdimensional jet lag. ”

“You know, time is a dimension,” Jace said.

“Pedant. ” She flicked a bread crumb from the basket on the table at him.

He grinned. “I was trying to remember all the deadly sins the other day,” he said. “Greed, envy, gluttony, irony, pedantry. . . ”

“Im pretty sure irony isnt a deadly sin. ”

“Im pretty sure it is. ”

“Lust,” she said. “Lust is a deadly sin. ”

“And spanking. ”

“I think that falls under lust. ”

“I think it should have its own category,” said Jace. “Greed, envy, gluttony, irony, pedantry, lust, and spanking. ” The white Christmas lights were reflected in his eyes. He looked more beautiful than he ever had, Clary thought, and correspondingly more distant, more hard to touch. She thought of what he had said about the city sinking, and the spaces between the stars, and remembered the lines of a Leonard Cohen song that Simons band used to cover, not very well. “There is a crack in everything/Thats how the light gets in. ” There had to be a crack in Jaces calm, some way she could reach through to the real him she believed was still in there.

Jaces amber eyes studied her. He reached out to touch her hand, and it was only after a moment that Clary realized that his fingers were on her gold ring. “Whats that?” he said. “I dont remember you having a faerie-work ring. ”

His tone was neutral, but her heart skipped a beat. Lying straight to Jaces face wasnt something she had a lot of practice with. “It was Isabelles,” she said with a shrug. “She was throwing out all the stuff that faerie ex-boyfriend of hers gave her-Meliorn-and I thought this was pretty, so she said I could have it. ”

“And the Morgenstern ring?”

This seemed like a place to tell the truth. “I gave it to Magnus so he could try to track you with it. ”

“Magnus. ” Jace said the name as if it were a strangers, and exhaled a breath. “Do you still feel like you made the right decision? Coming with me here?”

“Yes. Im happy to be with you. And-well, I always wanted to see Italy. Ive never traveled much. Never been out of the country-”

“You were in Alicante,” he reminded her.

“Okay, other than visiting magical lands no one else can see, I havent traveled much. Simon and I had plans. We were going to go backpacking around Europe after we graduated high school. . . ” Clarys voice trailed off. “It sounds silly now. ”

“No, it doesnt. ” He reached out and pushed a strand of hair behind her ear. “Stay with me. We can see the whole world. ”

“I am with you. Im not going anywhere. ”

“Is there anything special you want to see? Paris? Budapest? The Leaning Tower of Pisa?”

Only if it falls on Sebastians head, she thought. “Can we travel to Idris? I mean, I guess, can the apartment travel there?”

“It cant get past the wards. ” His hand traced a path down her cheek. “You know, I really missed you. ”

“You mean you havent been going on romantic dates with Sebastian while youve been away from me?”

“I tried,” Jace said, “but no matter how liquored up you get him, he just wont put out. ”

Clary reached for her glass of wine. She was starting to get used to the taste of it. She could feel it burning a path down her throat, heating her veins, adding a dreamlike quality to the night. She was in Italy, with her beautiful boyfriend, on a beautiful night, eating delicious food that melted in her mouth. These were the kinds of moments that you remembered all your life. But it felt like touching only the edge of happiness; every time she looked at Jace, happiness slipped away from her. How could he be Jace and not-Jace, all at once? How could you be heartbroken and happy at the same time?

They lay in the narrow twin bed that was meant for only one person, wrapped together tightly under Jordans flannel sheet. Maia lay with her head in the crook of his arm, the sun from the window warming her face and shoulders. Jordan was propped on his arm, leaning over her, his free hand running through her hair, pulling her curls out to their full length and letting them slide back through his fingers.

“I missed your hair,” he said, and dropped a kiss onto her forehead.

Laughter bubbled up from somewhere deep inside her, that sort of laughter that came with the giddiness of infatuation. “Just my hair?”

“No. ” He was grinning, his hazel eyes lit with green, his brown hair thoroughly rumpled. “Your eyes. ” He kissed them, one after another. “Your mouth. ” He kissed that, too, and she hooked her fingers through the chain against his bare chest that held the Praetor Lupus pendant. “Everything about you. ”

She twisted the chain around her fingers. “Jordan. . . Im sorry about before. About snapping at you about the money, and Stanford. It was just a lot to take in. ”

His eyes darkened, and he ducked his head. “Its not like I dont know how independent you are. I just. . . I wanted to do something nice for you. ”

“I know,” she whispered. “I know you worry about me needing you, but I shouldnt be with you because I need you. I should be with you because I love you. ”

His eyes lit up-incredulous, hopeful. “You-I mean, you think its possible you could feel that way about me again?”

“I never stopped loving you, Jordan,” she said, and he caught her against him with a kiss so intense it was bruising. She moved closer to him, and things might have proceeded as they had in the shower if a sharp knock hadnt come at the door.

“Praetor Kyle!” a voice shouted through the door. “Wake up! Praetor Scott wishes to see you downstairs in his office. ”

Jordan, his arms around Maia, swore softly. Laughing, Maia ran her hand slowly up his back, tangling her fingers in his hair. “You think Praetor Scott can wait?” she whispered.

“I think he has a key to this room and hell use it if he feels like it. ”

“Thats all right,” she said, brushing her lips against his ear. “We have lots of time, right? All the time well ever need. ”

Chairman Meow lay on the table in front of Simon, completely asleep, his four legs sticking straight into the air. This, Simon felt, was something of an achievement. Since he had become a vampire, animals tended not to like him; they avoided him if they could, and hissed or barked if he came too close. For Simon, who had always been an animal lover, it was a hard loss. But he supposed if you were already the pet of a warlock, perhaps youd learned to accept weird creatures in your life.

Magnus, as it turned out, hadnt been joking about the candles. Simon was taking a moment to rest and drink some coffee; it stayed down well, and the caffeine took the edge off the beginning prickles of hunger. All afternoon, they had been helping Magnus set the scene for raising Azazel. They had raided local bodegas for tea lights and prayer candles, which they had placed in a careful circle. Isabelle and Alec were scattering the floorboards outside the circle with a mixture of salt and dried belladonna as Magnus instructed them, reading aloud from Forbidden Rites, A Necromancers Manual of the Fifteenth Century.

“What have you done to my cat?” Magnus demanded, returning to the living room carrying a pot of coffee, with a circle of mugs floating around his head like a model of the planets rotating around the sun. “You drank his blood, didnt you? You said you werent hungry!”

Simon was indignant. “I did not drink his blood. Hes fine!” He poked the Chairman in the stomach. The cat yawned. “Second, you asked me if I was hungry when you were ordering pizza, so I said no, because I cant eat pizza. I was being polite. ”

“That doesnt give you the right to eat my cat. ”

“Your cat is fine!” Simon reached to pick up the tabby, who jumped indignantly to his feet and stalked off the table. “See?”

“Whatever. ” Magnus threw himself down in the seat at the head of the table; the mugs banged into place as Alec and Izzy straightened up, done with their task. Magnus clapped his hands. “Everyone! Gather around. Its time for a meeting. Im going to teach you how to summon a demon. ”

Praetor Scott was waiting for them in the library, still in the same swivel chair, a small bronze box on the desk between them. Maia and Jordan sat down across from him, and Maia couldnt help wondering if it was written all over her face, what she and Jordan had been doing. Not that the Praetor was looking at them with much interest.

He pushed the box toward Jordan. “Its a salve,” he said. “If applied to Garroways wound, it should filter the poison from his blood and allow the demon steel to work its way free. He should heal in a few days. ”

Maias heart leaped-finally some good news. She reached for the box before Jordan could, and opened it. It was indeed filled with a dark waxy salve that smelled sharply herbal, like crushed bay leaves.

“I-,” Praetor Scott began, his eyes flicking to Jordan.

“She should take it,” said Jordan. “Shes close to Garroway and is part of the pack. They trust her. ”

“Are you saying they dont trust the Praetor?”

“Half of them think the Praetor is a fairy tale,” Maia said, adding “sir” as an afterthought.

Praetor Scott looked annoyed, but before he could say anything, the phone on his desk rang. He seemed to hesitate, then lifted the receiver to his ear. “Scott here,” he said, and then, after a moment, “Yes-yes, I think so. ” He hung up, his mouth curving into a not entirely pleasant smile. “Praetor Kyle,” he said. “Im glad you dropped in on us today of all days. Stay a moment. This matter somewhat concerns you. ”

Maia was startled at this pronouncement, but not as startled as she was a moment later when a corner of the room began to shimmer and a figure appeared, slowly developing-it was like watching images appear on film in a darkroom-and the figure of a young boy took shape. His hair was dark brown, short and straight, and a gold necklace gleamed against the brown skin of his throat. He looked slight and ethereal, like a choirboy, but there was something in his eyes that made him seem much older than that.

“Raphael,” she said, recognizing him. He was ever so slightly transparent-a Projection, she realized. Shed heard of them but had never seen one up close.

Praetor Scott looked at her in surprise. “You know the head of the New York vampire clan?”

“We met once, in Brocelind Woods,” said Raphael, looking her over without much interest. “She is a friend of the Daylighter, Simon. ”

“Your assignment,” Praetor Scott said to Jordan, as if Jordan could have forgotten.

Jordans forehead creased. “Has something happened to him?” he asked. “Is he all right?”

“This is not about him,” said Raphael. “It is about the rogue vampire, Maureen Brown. ”

“Maureen?” Maia exclaimed. “But shes only, what, thirteen?”

“A rogue vampire is a rogue vampire,” said Raphael. “And Maureen has been cutting quite a swath for herself through TriBeCa and the Lower East Side. Multiple injured and at least six kills. Weve managed to cover them up, but. . . ”

“Shes Nicks assignment,” said Praetor Scott with a frown. “But he hasnt been able to find a trace of her. We may need to send in someone with more experience. ”

“I urge you to do so,” said Raphael. “If the Shadowhunters were not so concerned with their own. . . emergency at this juncture, they would surely have involved themselves by now. And the last thing the clan needs after the affair with Camille is a censuring by the Shadowhunters. ”

“I take it Camille is still missing as well?” said Jordan. “Simon told us everything that happened the night Jace disappeared, and Maureen seemed to be doing Camilles bidding. ”

“Camille is not new-made and is therefore not our concern,” said Scott.

“I know, but-find her, and you may find Maureen, thats all Im saying,” said Jordan.

“If she were with Camille, she would not be killing at the rate she is,” said Raphael. “Camille would prevent her. She is bloodthirsty but she knows the Conclave, and the Law. She would keep Maureen and her activities out of their line of sight. No, Maureens behavior has all the hallmarks of a vampire gone feral. ”

“Then, I think youre right. ” Jordan sat back. “Nick should have backup in dealing with her, or-”

“Or something might happen to him? If it does, perhaps it will help you focus more in future,” said Praetor Scott. “On your own assignment. ”

Jordans mouth opened. “Simon wasnt responsible for Turning Maureen,” he said. “I told you-”

Praetor Scott waved away his words. “Yes, I know,” he said, “or you would have been pulled from your assignment, Kyle. But your subject did bite her, and under your watch as well. And it was her association with the Daylighter, however distant, that led to her eventual Turning. ”

“The Daylighter is dangerous,” said Raphael, his eyes shining. “It is what I have been saying all along. ”

“He is not dangerous,” Maia said fiercely. “He has a good heart. ” She saw Jordan glance at her a little, sidelong, so quickly that she wondered if shed imagined it.

“Yap, yap, yap,” said Raphael dismissively. “You werewolves cannot focus on the matter at hand. I trusted you, Praetor, for new-fledged Downworlders are your department. But allowing Maureen to run wild reflects badly on my clan. If you do not find her soon, I will call up every vampire at my disposal. After all”-he smiled, and his delicate incisors shone-“in the end she is ours to kill. ”

When the meal was over, Clary and Jace walked back to the apartment through a mist-shrouded evening. The streets were deserted and the canal water shone like glass. Rounding a corner, they found themselves beside a quiet canal, lined with shuttered houses. Boats bobbed gently on the curving water, each a half-moon of black.

Jace laughed softly and moved forward, his hand pulling out of Clarys. His eyes were wide and golden in the lamplight. He knelt by the side of the canal, and she saw a flash of white-silver-a stele-and then one of the boats sprang free of its mooring chain and began to drift toward the center of the canal. Jace slid the stele back into his belt and leaped, landing lightly on the wooden seat at the front of the boat. He held his hand out to Clary. “Come on. ”

She looked from him to the boat and shook her head. It was only a little bigger than a canoe, painted black, though the paint was damp and splintering. It looked as light and fragile as a toy. She imagined upending it and both of them being dumped into the ice-green canal. “I cant. Ill knock it over. ”

Jace shook his head impatiently. “You can do it,” he said. “I trained you. ” To demonstrate he took a step back. Now he was standing on the thin edge of the boat, just beside the oarlock. He looked at her, his mouth crooked in a half smile. By all the laws of physics, she thought, the boat, unbalanced, ought to have been toppling sideways into the water. But Jace balanced lightly there, back straight, as if he were made of nothing more than smoke. Behind him was the backdrop of water and stone, canal and bridges, not a single modern edifice in sight. With his bright hair and the way he carried himself, he could have been some Renaissance prince.

He held out a hand to her again. “Remember. Youre as light as you want to be. ”

She remembered. Hours of training in how to fall, to balance, how to land like Jace did, as if you were a piece of ash sifting gently downward. She sucked her breath in and leaped, the green water flying by beneath her. She alighted in the bow of the boat, wobbling on the wooden seat, but steady.

She let out her breath in a whoosh of relief and heard Jace laugh as he leaped down to the flat bottom of the boat. It was leaky. A thin layer of water covered the wood. He was also nine inches taller than she was, so that with her standing on the seat in the bow, their heads were on a level.

He put his hands on her waist. “So,” he said. “Where do you want to go now?”

She looked around. They had drifted far away from the bank of the canal. “Are we stealing this boat?”

“Stealing is such an ugly word,” he mused.

“What do you want to call it?”

He picked her up and swung her around before putting her down. “An extreme case of window-shopping. ”

He pulled her closer, and she stiffened. Her feet skidded out from under her, and the two of them slid to the curved floor of the boat, which was flat and damp and smelled like water and wet wood.

Clary found herself resting on top of Jace, her knees on either side of his hips. Water was soaking into his shirt, but he didnt seem to mind. He threw his hands behind his head, folding them, his shirt pulling up. “You literally knocked me down with the strength of your passion,” he observed. “Nice work, Fray. ”

“You only fell because you wanted to. I know you,” she said. The moon shone down on them like a spotlight, like they were the only people under it. “You never slip. ”

He touched her face. “I may not slip,” he said, “but I fall. ”

Her heart pounded, and she had to swallow before she could reply lightly, as if he were joking. “That may be your worst line of all time. ”

“Who says its a line?”

The boat rocked, and she leaned forward, balancing her hands on his chest. Her hips pressed against his, and she watched his eyes as they widened, going from wickedly sparkling gold to dark, the pupil swallowing the iris. She could see herself and the night sky in them.

He propped himself up on one elbow, and slipped a hand around the back of her neck. She felt him arch up against her, lips brushing hers, but she drew back, not quite allowing the kiss. She wanted him, wanted him so much she felt hollow on the inside, as if desire had burned her clean through. No matter what her mind said-that this was not Jace, not her Jace, still her body remembered him, the shape and feel of him, the scent of his skin and hair, and wanted him back.

She smiled against his mouth as if she were teasing him, and rolled to the side, curling next to him in the wet bottom of the boat. He didnt protest. His arm curved around her, and the rocking of the boat beneath them was gentle and lulling. She wanted to put her head on his shoulder, but didnt.

“Were drifting,” she said.

“I know. Theres something I want you to see. ” Jace was looking up at the sky. The moon was a great white billow, like a sail; Jaces chest rose and fell steadily. His fingers tangled in her hair. She lay still beside him, waiting and watching as the stars ticked by like an astrological clock, and she wondered what they were waiting for. At last she heard it, a long slow rushing noise, like water pouring through a broken dam. The sky darkened and churned as figures rushed across it. She could barely make them out through the clouds and the distance, but they seemed to be men, with long hair like cirrus clouds, riding horses whose hooves gleamed the color of blood. The sound of a hunting horn echoed across the night, and the stars shivered and the night folded in on itself as the men vanished behind the moon.

She let her breath out in a slow exhalation. “What was that?”

“The Wild Hunt,” said Jace. His voice sounded distant and dreamlike. “Gabriels Hounds. The Wild Host. They have many names. They are faeries who disdain the earthly Courts. They ride across the sky, pursuing an eternal hunt. On one night a year a mortal can join them-but once youve joined the Hunt, you can never leave it. ”

“Why would anyone want to do that?”

Jace rolled and was suddenly on top of Clary, pressing her down into the bottom of the boat. She hardly noticed the damp; she could feel heat rolling off him in waves, and his eyes burned. He had a way of propping himself over her so that she wasnt crushed but she could feel every part of him against her-the shape of his hips, the rivets in his jeans, the tracings of his scars. “Theres something appealing about the idea,” he said. “Of losing all your control. Dont you think?”

She opened her mouth to answer, but he was already kissing her. She had kissed him so many times-soft gentle kisses, hard and desperate ones, brief brushes of the lips that said good-bye, and kisses that seemed to go on for hours-and this was no different. The way the memory of someone who had once lived in a house might linger even after they were gone, like a sort of psychic imprint, her body remembered Jace. Remembered the way he tasted, the slant of his mouth over hers, his scars under her fingers, the shape of his body under her hands. She let go of her doubts and reached up to pull him toward her.

He rolled sideways, holding her, the boat rocking underneath them. Clary could hear the splash of water as his hands drifted down her side to her waist, his fingers lightly stroking the sensitive skin at the small of her back. She slid her hands into his hair and closed her eyes, wrapped in mist, the sound and smell of water. Endless ages went by, and there was only Jaces mouth on hers, the lulling motion of the boat, his hands on her skin. Finally, after what could have been hours or minutes, she heard the sound of someone shouting, an angry Italian voice, rising and cutting through the night.

Jace drew back, his look lazy and regretful. “Wed better go. ”

Clary looked up at him, dazed. “Why?”

“Because thats the guy whose boat we stole. ” Jace sat up, tugging his shirt down. “And hes about to call the police. ”

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