“Jace lied,” Clary said flatly. “He didn’t want me here, so he lied to me about when you were leaving, and then lied to you about me changing my mind. Remember when you told me he never lies? That is so not true.”
“He normally never does,” said Isabelle, who had gone pale. “Look, did you come here—I mean, does this have something to do with Simon?”
“With Simon? No. Simon’s safe in New York, thank God. Although he’s going to be really pissed that he never got to say good-bye to me.” Isabelle’s blank expression was starting to annoy Clary. “Come on, Isabelle. Let me in. I need to see Jace.”
“So … you just came here on your own? Did you have permission from the Clave? Please tell me you had permission from the Clave.”
“Not as such—”
“You broke the Law?” Isabelle’s voice rose, and then dropped. She went on, almost in a whisper, “If Jace finds out, he’ll freak. Clary, you’ve got to go home.”
“No. I’m supposed to be here,” Clary said, not even sure herself quite where her stubbornness was coming from. “And I need to talk to Jace.”
“Now isn’t a good time.” Isabelle looked around anxiously, as if hoping there was someone she could appeal to for help in removing Clary from the premises. “Please, just go back to New York. Please?”
“I thought you liked me, Izzy.” Clary went for the guilt.
Isabelle bit her lip. She was wearing a white dress and had her hair pinned up and looked younger than she usually did. Behind her Clary could see a high-ceilinged entryway hung with antique-looking oil paintings. “I do like you. It’s just that Jace—oh my God, what are you wearing? Where did you get fighting gear?”
Clary looked down at herself. “It’s a long story.”
“You can’t come in here like that. If Jace sees you—”
“Oh, so what if he sees me. Isabelle, I came here because of my mother—for my mother. Jace may not want me here, but he can’t make me stay home. I’m supposed to be here. My mother expected me to do this for her. You’d do it for your mother, wouldn’t you?”
“Of course I would,” Isabelle said. “But, Clary, Jace has his reasons—”
“Then I’d love to hear what they are.” Clary ducked under Isabelle’s arm and into the entryway of the house.
“Clary!” Isabelle yelped, and darted after her, but Clary was already halfway down the hall. She saw, with the half of her mind that wasn’t concentrating on dodging Isabelle, that the house was built like Amatis’s, tall and thin, but considerably larger and more richly decorated. The hallway opened into a room with high windows that looked out over a wide canal. White boats plied the water, their sails drifting by like dandelion clocks tossed on the wind. A dark-haired boy sat on a couch by one of the windows, apparently reading a book.
“Sebastian!” Isabelle called. “Don’t let her go upstairs!”
The boy looked up, startled—and a moment later was in front of Clary, blocking her path to the stairs. Clary skidded to a halt—she’d never seen anyone move that fast before, except Jace. The boy wasn’t even out of breath; in fact, he was smiling at her.
“So this is the famous Clary.” His smile lit up his face, and Clary felt her breath catch. For years she’d drawn her own ongoing graphic story—the tale of a king’s son who was under a curse that meant that everyone he loved would die. She’d put everything she had into dreaming up her dark, romantic, shadowy prince, and here he was, standing in front of her—the same pale skin, the same tumbling hair, and eyes so dark, the pupils seemed to meld with the iris. The same high cheekbones and deep-set, shadowed eyes fringed with long lashes. She knew she’d never set eyes on this boy before, and yet …
The boy looked puzzled. “I don’t think—have we met before?”
Speechless, Clary shook her head.
“Sebastian!” Isabelle’s hair had come out of its pins and hung down over her shoulders, and she was glaring. “Don’t be nice to her. She’s not supposed to be here. Clary, go home.”
With an effort Clary wrenched her gaze away from Sebastian and shot a glare at Isabelle. “What, back to New York? And how am I supposed to get there?”
“How did you get here?” Sebastian inquired. “Sneaking into Alicante is quite an accomplishment.”
“I came through a Portal,” said Clary.
“A Portal?” Isabelle looked astonished. “But there isn’t a Portal left in New York. Valentine destroyed them both—”
“I don’t owe you any explanations,” Clary said. “Not until you give me some. For one thing, where’s Jace?”
“He’s not here,” Isabelle answered, at exactly the same time that Sebastian said, “He’s upstairs.”
Isabelle turned on him. “Sebastian! Shut up.”
Sebastian looked perplexed. “But she’s his sister. Wouldn’t he want to see her?”
Isabelle opened her mouth and then closed it again. Clary could see that Isabelle was weighing the advisability of explaining her complicated relationship with Jace to the completely oblivious Sebastian against the advisability of springing an unpleasant surprise on Jace. Finally she threw her hands up in a gesture of despair. “Fine, Clary,” she said, with an unusual—for Isabelle—amount of anger in her voice. “Go ahead and do whatever you want, regardless of who it hurts. You always do anyway, don’t you?”
Ouch. Clary shot Isabelle a reproachful look before turning back to Sebastian, who stepped silently out of her way. She darted past him and up the stairs, vaguely aware of voices below her as Isabelle shouted at the unfortunate Sebastian. But that was Isabelle—if there was a boy around and blame that needed to be pinned on someone, Isabelle would pin it on him.
The staircase widened into a landing with a bay-windowed alcove that looked out over the city. A boy was sitting in the alcove, reading. He looked up as Clary came up the stairs, and blinked in surprise. “I know you.”
“Hi, Max. It’s Clary—Jace’s sister. Remember?”
Max brightened. “You showed me how to read Naruto,” he said, holding out his book to her. “Look, I got another one. This one’s called—”
“Max, I can’t talk now. I promise I’ll look at your book later, but do you know where Jace is?”
Max’s face fell. “That room,” he said, and pointed to the last door down the hall. “I wanted to go in there with him, but he told me he had to do grown-up stuff. Everyone’s always telling me that.”
“I’m sorry,” Clary said, but her mind was no longer on the conversation. It was racing ahead—what would she say to Jace when she saw him; what would he say to her? Moving down the hall to the door, she thought, It would be better to be friendly, not angry; yelling at him will just make him defensive. He has to understand that I belong here, just like he does. I don’t need to be protected like a piece of delicate china. I’m strong too—
She threw the door open. The room seemed to be a sort of library, the walls lined with books. It was brightly lit, light streaming through a tall picture window. In the middle of the room stood Jace. He wasn’t alone, though—not by a long shot. There was a dark-haired girl with him, a girl Clary had never seen before, and the two of them were locked together in a passionate embrace.
DIZZINESS WASHED OVER CLARY, AS IF ALL THE AIR HAD BEEN sucked out of the room. She tried to back away but stumbled and hit the door with her shoulder. It shut with a bang, and Jace and the girl broke apart.
Clary froze. They were both staring at her. She noticed that the girl had dark straight hair to her shoulders and was extremely pretty. The top buttons of her shirt were undone, showing a strip of lacy bra. Clary felt as if she were about to throw up.
The girl’s hands went to her blouse, quickly doing up the buttons. She didn’t look pleased. “Excuse me,” she said with a frown. “Who are you?”
Clary didn’t answer—she was looking at Jace, who was staring at her incredulously. His skin was drained of all color, showing the dark rings around his eyes. He looked at Clary as if he were staring down the barrel of a gun.
“Aline.” Jace’s voice was without warmth or color. “This is my sister, Clary.”
“Oh. Oh.” Aline’s face relaxed into a slightly embarrassed smile. “Sorry! What a way to meet you. Hi, I’m Aline.” She advanced on Clary, still smiling, her hand out.
I don’t think I can touch her, Clary thought with a sinking feeling of horror. She looked at Jace, who seemed to read the expression in her eyes; unsmiling, he took Aline by the shoulders and said something in her ear. She looked surprised, shrugged, and headed for the door without another word.
This left Clary alone with Jace. Alone with someone who was still looking at her as if she were his worst nightmare come to life.
“Jace,” she said, and took a step toward him.
He backed away from her as if she were coated in something poisonous. “What,” he said, “in the name of the Angel, Clary, are you doing here?”
Despite everything, the harshness of his tone hurt.
“You could at least pretend you were glad to see me. Even a little bit.”
“I’m not glad to see you,” he said. Some of his color had come back, but the shadows under his eyes were still gray smudges against his skin. Clary waited for him to say something else, but he seemed content just to stare at her in undisguised horror. She noticed with a distracted clarity that he was wearing a black sweater that hung off his wrists as if he’d lost weight, and that the nails on his hands were bitten down to the quick. “Not even a little bit.”
“This isn’t you,” she said. “I hate it when you act like this—”
“Oh, you hate it, do you? Well, I’d better stop doing it, then, hadn’t I? I mean, you do everything I ask you to do.”
“You had no right to do what you did!” she snapped at him, suddenly furious. “Lying to me like that. You had no right—”
“I had every right!” he shouted. She didn’t think he’d ever shouted at her before. “I had every right, you stupid, stupid girl. I’m your brother and I—”
“And you what? You own me? You don’t own me, whether you’re my brother or not!”
The door behind Clary flew open. It was Alec, soberly dressed in a long, dark blue jacket, his black hair in disarray. He wore muddy boots and an incredulous expression on his usually calm face. “What in all possible dimensions is going on here?” he said, looking from Jace to Clary with amazement. “Are you two trying to kill each other?”
“Not at all,” said Jace. As if by magic, Clary saw, it had all been wiped away: his rage and his panic, and he was icy calm again. “Clary was just leaving.”
“Good,” Alec said, “because I need to talk to you, Jace.”
“Doesn’t anyone in this house ever say, ‘Hi, nice to see you’ anymore?” Clary demanded of no one in particular.
It was much easier to guilt Alec than Isabelle. “It is good to see you, Clary,” he said, “except of course for the fact that you’re really not supposed to be here. Isabelle told me you got here on your own somehow, and I’m impressed—”
“Could you not encourage her?” Jace inquired.
“But I really, really need to talk to Jace about something. Can you give us a few minutes?”
“I need to talk to him too,” she said. “About our mother—”
“I don’t feel like talking,” said Jace, “to either of you, as a matter of fact.”
“Yes, you do,” Alec said. “You really want to talk to me about this.”
“I doubt that,” Jace said. He had turned his gaze back to Clary. “You didn’t come here alone, did you?” he said slowly, as if realizing that the situation was even worse than he’d thought. “Who came with you?”
There seemed to be no point in lying about it. “Luke,” said Clary. “Luke came with me.”
Jace blanched. “But Luke is a Downworlder. Do you know what the Clave does to unregistered Downworlders who come into the Glass City—who cross the wards without permission? Coming to Idris is one thing, but entering Alicante? Without telling anyone?”
“No,” Clary said, in a half whisper, “but I know what you’re going to say—”
“That if you and Luke don’t go back to New York immediately, you’ll find out?”
For a moment Jace was silent, meeting her eyes with his own. The desperation in his expression shocked her. He was the one threatening her, after all, not the other way around.
“Jace,” Alec said into the silence, a tinge of panic creeping into his voice. “Haven’t you wondered where I’ve been all day?”
“That’s a new coat you’re wearing,” Jace said, without looking at his friend. “I figure you went shopping. Though why you’re so eager to bother me about it, I have no idea.”
“I didn’t go shopping,” Alec said furiously. “I went—”
The door opened again. In a flutter of white dress, Isabelle darted in, shutting the door behind her. She looked at Clary and shook her head. “I told you he’d freak out,” she said. “Didn’t I?”
“Ah, the ‘I told you so,’” Jace said. “Always a classy move.”
Clary looked at him with horror. “How can you joke?” she whispered. “You just threatened Luke. Luke, who likes you and trusts you. Because he’s a Downworlder. What’s wrong with you?”