Monday, 7 January 2013

City of Fallen Angels - Chapter 9

Clary reached the door and burst out into the rain-drenched evening air. It was coming
down in sheets now, and she was instantly soaked. Choking on rainwater and tears, she
darted past Eric’s familiar-looking yellow van, rain sheeting off its roof into the gutter,
and was about to race across the street against the light when a hand caught her arm and
spun her around.
It was Jace. He was as soaked as she was, the rain sticking his fair hair to his head and
plastering his shirt to his body like black paint. “Clary, didn’t you hear me calling you?”
“Let go of me.” Her voice shook.
“No. Not until you talk to me.” He looked around, up and down the street, which was
deserted, the rain exploding off the black pavement like fast-blooming flowers. “Come
Still holding her by the arm, he half-dragged her around the van and into a narrow alley
that bordered the Alto Bar.
High windows above them let through the blurred sound of the music that was still being
played inside. The alley was brick-walled, clearly a dumping ground for old bits of no
longer usable musical equipment. Broken amps and old mikes littered the ground, along
with shattered beer glasses and cigarette butts.
Clary jerked her arm out of Jace’s grasp and turned to face him. “If you’re planning to
apologize, don’t bother.”
She pushed her wet, heavy hair back from her face. “I don’t want to hear it.”
“I was going to tell you that I was trying to help out Simon,” he said, rainwater running
off his eyelashes and down his cheeks like tears. “I’ve been at his place for the past—”
“And you couldn’t tell me? Couldn’t text me a single line letting me know where you
were? Oh, wait. You couldn’t, because you still have my goddamned phone. Give it to
Silently he reached into his jeans pocket and handed it to her. It looked undamaged. She
jammed it into her messenger bag before the rain could ruin it. Jace watched her as she
did it, looking as if she’d hit him in the face.
It only made her angrier. What right did he have to be hurt?
“I think,” he said slowly, “that I thought that the closest thing to being with you was
being with Simon. Watching out for him. I had some stupid idea that you’d realize I was
doing it for you and forgive me—”
All of Clary’s rage rose to the surface, a hot, unstoppable tide. “I don’t even know what
you think I’m supposed to forgive youfor,” she shouted.“Am Isupposed to forgive you
for not loving me anymore? Because ifthat’s what you want, Jace Lightwood, you can go
right ahead and—” She took a step back, blindly, and nearly tripped over an abandoned
speaker. Her bag slid to the ground as she put her hand out to right herself, but Jace was
already there. He moved forward to catch her, and kept moving, until her back hit the
alley wall, and his arms were around her, and he was kissing her frantically.
She knew she ought to push him away; her mind told her it was the sensible thing to do,
but no other part of her cared about what was sensible. Not when Jace was kissing her
like he thought he might go to hell for doing it, but it would be worth it.
She dug her fingers into his shoulders, into the damp fabric of his T-shirt, feeling the
resistance of the muscles underneath, and kissed him back with all the desperation of the
past few days, all the not knowing where he was or what he was thinking, all the feeling
like a part of her heart had been ripped out of her chest and she could never get enough
air. “Tell me,” she said between kisses, their wet faces sliding against each other. “Tell
me what’s wrong—Oh,” she gasped as he drew away from her, only far enough to reach
his hands down and put them around her waist. He lifted her up so she stood on top of a
broken speaker, making them almost the same height.
Then he put his hands on either side of her head and leaned forward, so their bodies
almost touched—but not quite. It was nerve-wracking. She could feel the feverish heat
that came off him; her hands were still on his shoulders, but it wasn’t enough. She wanted
him wrapped around her, holding her tight. “W-why,” she breathed, “can’t you talk to
me? Why can’t you look at me?” what’s wrong—Oh,” she gasped as he drew away from
her, only far enough to reach his hands down and put them around her waist. He lifted her
up so she stood on top of a broken speaker, making them almost the same height.
Then he put his hands on either side of her head and leaned forward, so their bodies
almost touched—but not quite. It was nerve-wracking. She could feel the feverish heat
that came off him; her hands were still on his shoulders, but it wasn’t enough. She wanted
him wrapped around her, holding her tight. “W-why,” she breathed, “can’t you talk to
me? Why can’t you look at me?”
He ducked his head down to look into her face. His eyes, surrounding by lashes darkened
with rainwater, were impossibly gold.
“Because I love you.”
She couldn’t stand it anymore. She took her hands off his shoulders, hooked her fingers
through his belt loops, and pulled him against her. He let her do it with no resistance, his
hands flattening against the wall, folding his body against hers until they were pressed
together everywhere—chests, hips, legs—like puzzle pieces. His hands slid down to her
waist and he kissed her, long and lingering, making her shudder.
She pulled away. “That doesn’t make any sense.”
“Neither does this,” he said, “but I don’t care. I’m sick of trying to pretend I can live
without you. Don’t you understand that? Can’t you see it’s killing me?”
She stared at him. She could see he meant what he said, could see it in the eyes she knew
as well as her own, in the bruised shadows under those eyes, the pulse pounding in his
throat. Her desire for answers battled the more primal part of her brain, and lost. “Kiss
me then,” she whispered, and he pressed his mouth against hers, their hearts slamming
together through the thin layers of wet fabric that divided them. And she was drowning in
it, in the sensation of him kissing her; of rain everywhere, running off her eyelashes; of
letting his hands slide freely over the wet, crumpled fabric of her dress, made thin and
clinging by the rain. It was almost like having his hands on her bare skin, her chest, her
hips, her stomach; when he reached the hem of her dress, he gripped her legs, pressing
her harder back against the wall while she wrapped them around his waist.
He made a noise of surprise, low in his throat, and dug his fingers into the thin fabric of
her tights. Not unexpectedly, they ripped, and his wet fingers were suddenly on the bare
skin of her legs. Not to be outdone, she slid her hands under the hem of his soaked shirt,
and let her fingers explore what was underneath: the tight, hot skin over his ribs, the
ridges of his abdomen, the scars on his back, the angle of his hipbones above the
waistband of his jeans. This was uncharted territory for her, but it seemed to be driving
him crazy: he was moaning softly against her mouth, kissing her harder and harder, as if
it would never be enough, not quite enough—
And a horrific clanging noise exploded in Clary’s ears, shattering her out of her dream of
kissing and rain. With a gasp she pushed Jace away, hard enough that he let go of her and
she tumbled off the speaker to land unsteadily on her feet, hastily straightening her dress.
Her heart was slamming against her rib cage like a battering ram, and she felt dizzy.
“Dammit.” Isabelle, standing in the mouth of the alley, her wet black hair like a cloak
around her shoulders, kicked a trash can out of her way and glowered. “Oh, for goodness’
sake,” she said. “I can’t believe you two. Why?
What’s wrong with bedrooms? And privacy?”
Clary looked at Jace. He was utterly drenched, water running off him in sheets, his fair
hair, plastered to his head, nearly silver in the faint glow of the distant streetlights. Just
looking at him made Clary want to touch him again, Isabelle or no Isabelle, with a
longing that was nearly painful. He was staring at Izzy with the look of someone who had
been slapped out of a dream—bewilderment, anger, dawning realization.
“I was just looking for Simon,” Isabelle said defensively, seeing Jace’s expression. “He
ran offstage, and I’ve no idea where he went.” The music had stopped, Clary realized, at
some point; she hadn’t noticed when. “Anyway, he’s obviously not here. Go back to what
you were doing. What’s the point in wasting a perfectly good brick wall when you have
someone to throw against it, that’s what I always say.” And she stalked off, back toward
the bar. when you have someone to throw against it, that’s what I always say.” And she
stalked off, back toward the bar.
Clary looked at Jace. At any other time they would have laughed together at Isabelle’s
moodiness, but there was no humor in his expression, and she knew immediately that
whatever they had had between them—whatever had blossomed out of his momentary
lack of control—it was gone now. She could taste blood in her mouth and wasn’t sure if
she had bitten her own lip or he had.
“Jace—” She took a step toward him.
“Don’t,” he said, his voice very rough. “I can’t.”
And then he was gone, running as fast as only he could run, a blur that vanished into the
distance before she could even take a breath to call him back.
The angry voice exploded in Simon’s ears. He would have released Maureen then—or so
he told himself—but he didn’t get the chance. Strong hands grabbed him by the arms,
hauling him off her. He was dragged to his feet by a white-faced Kyle, still tousled and
sweaty from the set they’d just finished. “What the hell, Simon. What the hell—”
“I didn’t mean to,” Simon gasped. His voice sounded blurry to his own ears; his fangs
were still out, and he hadn’t learned to talk around the goddamn things yet. Past Kyle, on
the floor, he could see Maureen lying in a crumpled heap, horribly still. “It just
“I told you. I told you.” Kyle’s voice rose, and he pushed Simon, hard. Simon stumbled
back, his forehead burning, as an invisible hand seemed to lift Kyle and fling him hard
against the wall behind him. He hit it and slid to the ground, landing in a wolflike crouch,
on his hands and knees. He staggered to his feet, staring. “Jesus Christ.
But Simon had dropped to his knees beside Maureen, his hands on her, frantically feeling
at her throat for a pulse.
When it fluttered under his fingertips, faint but steady, he nearly wept with relief.
“Get away from her.” Kyle, sounding strained, moved to stand over Simon. “Just get up
and move away.”
Simon got up reluctantly and faced Kyle over Maureen’s limp form. Light was lancing
through the gap in the curtains that led to the stage; he could hear the other band
members out there, chattering to one another, starting the teardown. Any minute they’d
be coming back here.
“What you just did,” Kyle said. “Did you—push me? Because I didn’t see you move.”
“I didn’t mean to,” Simon said again, wretchedly. It seemed to be all he said these days.
Kyle shook his head, his hair flying. “Get out of here. Go wait by the van. I’ll deal with
her.” He bent down and lifted Maureen in his arms. She looked tiny against the bulk of
him, like a doll. He fixed Simon with a glare. “Go. And I hope you feel really goddamn
Simon went. He moved to the fire door and shoved it open. No alarm went off; the alarm
had been busted for months. The door swung shut behind him, and he leaned up against
the back wall of the club as every part of his body began to tremble.
The club backed onto a narrow street lined with warehouses. Across the way was a
vacant lot blocked off with a sagging chain-link fence. Ugly scrub grass grew up through
the cracks in the pavement. Rain was sheeting down, soaking the garbage that littered the
street, floating old beer cans on the runoff-filled gutters.
Simon thought it was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen. The whole night seemed to
have exploded with prismatic light. The fence was a linked chain of brilliant silver wires,
each raindrop a platinum tear.
I hope you feel really goddamn terrible, Kyle had said. But this was much worse. He felt
fantastic, alive in a way he never had before. Human blood was clearly somehow the
perfect, the ideal food for vampires. Waves of energy were running through him like
electric current. The pain in his head, his stomach, was gone. He could have run ten
thousand miles. were running through him like electric current. The pain in his head, his
stomach, was gone. He could have run ten thousand miles.
It was awful.
“Hey, you. Are you all right?” The voice that spoke was cultured, amused; Simon turned
and saw a woman in a long black trench coat, a bright yellow umbrella open over her
head. With his brand-new prismatic vision, it looked like a glimmering sunflower. The
woman herself was beautiful—though everything looked beautiful to him right now —
with gleaming black hair and a red-lipsticked mouth. He dimly recalled seeing her sitting
at one of the tables during the band’s performance.
He nodded, not trusting himself to speak. He must have looked pretty shell-shocked, if
total strangers were coming up to inquire about his well-being.
“You look like maybe you got banged on the head there,” she said, indicating his
forehead. “That’s a nasty bruise.
Are you sure I can’t call anyone for you?”
He reached up hastily to move his hair across his forehead, hiding the Mark. “I’m fine.
It’s nothing.”
“Okay. If you say so.” She sounded a little doubtful. She reached into her pocket, pulled
out a card, and handed it to him. It had a name on it, Satrina Kendall. Underneath the
name was a title, BAND PROMOTER, in small capitals, and a phone number and
address. “That’s me,” she said. “I liked what you guys did in there. If you’re interested in
making it a little more big-time, give me a call.”
And with that, she turned and sashayed away, leaving Simon staring after her. Surely, he
thought, there was no way this night could get any more bizarre.
Shaking his head—a move that sent water drops flying in all directions—he squelched
around the corner to where the van was parked. The door of the bar was open, and people
were streaming out. Everything still looked unnaturally bright, Simon thought, but his
prismatic vision was beginning to fade slightly. The scene in front of him looked
ordinary—the bar emptying out, the side doors open, and the van with its back doors
open, already being loaded up with gear by Matt, Kirk, and a variety of their friends. As
Simon drew closer, he saw that Isabelle was leaning against the side of the van, one leg
drawn up, the heel of her boot braced against the van’s blistered side.
She could have been helping with the teardown, of course—Isabelle was stronger than
anyone else in the band, with the possible exception of Kyle—but she clearly couldn’t be
bothered. Simon would hardly have expected anything else.
She looked up as he came closer. The rain had slowed, but she had clearly been out in it
for some time; her hair was a heavy, wet curtain down her back. “Hey there,” she said,
pushing off from the side of the van and coming toward him. “Where have you been?
You just ran offstage—”
“Yeah,” he said. “I wasn’t feeling well. Sorry.”
“As long as you’re better now.” She wrapped her arms around him and smiled up into his
face. He felt a wave of relief that he didn’t feel any urge to bite her. Then another wave
of guilt as he remembered why.
“You haven’t seen Jace anywhere, have you?” he asked.
She rolled her eyes. “I ran across him and Clary making out,” she said. “Although they’re
gone now—home, I hope.
Those two epitomize ‘get a room.’”
“I didn’t think Clary was coming,” Simon said, though it wasn’t that odd; he supposed
the cake appointment had been canceled or something. He didn’t even have the energy to
be annoyed about what a terrible bodyguard Jace had turned out to be. It wasn’t as if he’d
ever thought Jace took his personal safety all that seriously. He just hoped Jace and Clary
had worked it out, whatever it was.
“Whatever.” Isabelle grinned. “Since it’s just us, do you want to go somewhere and—”
A voice—a very familiar voice—spoke out of the shadows just beyond the reach of the
nearest streetlight.
“Simon?” “Simon?”
Oh, no, not now. Not right now.
He turned slowly. Isabelle’s arm was still loosely clasped around his waist, though he
knew that wouldn’t last much longer. Not if the person speaking was who he thought it
It was.
Maia had moved into the light, and was standing looking at him, an expression of
disbelief on her face. Her normally curly hair was pasted to her head with rain, her amber
eyes very wide, her jeans and denim jacket soaked. She was clutching a rolled-up piece
of paper in her left hand.
Simon was vaguely aware that off to the side the band members had slowed down their
movements and were openly gawking. Isabelle’s arm slid off his waist. “Simon?” she
said. “What’s going on?”
“You told me you were going to be busy,” Maia said, looking at Simon. “Then someone
shoved this under the station door this morning.” She thrust the rolled-up paper forward;
it was instantly recognizable as one of the flyers for the band’s performance tonight.
Isabelle was looking from Simon to Maia, recognition slowly dawning on her face. “Wait
a second,” she said. “Are you two dating?”
Maia set her chin. “Are you?”
“Yes,” Isabelle said. “For quite a few weeks now.”
Maia’s eyes narrowed. “Us, too. We’ve been dating since September.”
“I can’t believe it,” Isabelle said. She genuinely looked as if she couldn’t. “Simon?” She
turned to him, her hands on her hips. “Do you have an explanation?”
The band, who had finally shoved all the equipment into the van—the drums packing out
the back bench seat and the guitars and basses in the cargo section—were hanging out the
back of the car, openly staring. Eric put his hands around his mouth to make a
megaphone. “Ladies, ladies,” he intoned. “There is no need to fight. There is enough
Simon to go around.”
Isabelle whipped around and shot a glare at Eric so terrifying that he fell instantly silent.
The back doors of the van slammed shut, and it took off down the road. Traitors, Simon
thought, though to be fair, they probably assumed he would catch a ride home in Kyle’s
car, which was parked around the corner. Assuming he lived long enough.
“I can’t believe you, Simon,” Maia said. She was standing with her hands on her hips as
well, in a pose identical to Isabelle’s. “What were you thinking? How could you lie like
“I didn’t lie,” Simon protested. “We never said we were exclusive!” He turned to
Isabelle. “Neither did we! And I know you were dating other people—”
“Notpeople youknow,” Isabelle said, blisteringly.“Not your friends. How would youfeel
if youfound out Iwas dating Eric?”
“Stunned, frankly,” said Simon. “He really isn’t your type.”
“That’s not the point, Simon.” Maia had moved closer to Isabelle, and the two of them
faced him down together, an immovable wall of female rage. The bar had finished
emptying out, and aside from the three of them, the street was deserted. He wondered
about his chances if he made a break for it, and decided they weren’t good.
Werewolves were fast, and Isabelle was a trained vampire hunter.
“I’m really sorry,” Simon said. The buzz from the blood he’d drunk was beginning to
wear off, thankfully. He felt less dizzy with overwhelming sensation, but more panicked.
To make things worse, his mind kept returning to Maureen, and what he’d done to her,
and whether she was all right. Please let her be all right. “I should have told you guys. It’s
just—I really like you both, and I didn’t want to hurt either of your feelings.”
The moment it was out of his mouth, he realized how stupid he sounded. Just another
jerkish guy making excuses for his jerk behavior. Simon had never thought of himself
like that. He was a nice guy, the kind of guy who got overlooked, passed up for the sexy
bad boy or the tortured artist type. For the self-involved kind of guy who would think
nothing of dating two girls at once while maybe not exactly lying about what he was
doing, but not telling the truth about it either.
“Wow,” he said, mostly to himself. “I am a huge asshole.”
“That’s probably the first true thing you’ve said since I got here,” said Maia.
“Amen,” said Isabelle. “Though if you ask me, it’s too little, too late—”
The side door of the bar opened, and someone came out. It was Kyle. Simon felt a wave
of relief. Kyle looked serious, but not as serious as Simon thought he would look if
something awful had happened to Maureen.
He started down the steps toward them. The rain was barely a drizzle now. Maia and
Isabelle had their backs to him; they were glaring at Simon with the laser focus of rage. “I
hope you don’t expect either of us to speak to you again,” Isabelle said. “And I’m going
to have a talk with Clary—a very, very serious talk about her choice of friends.”
“Kyle,” Simon said, unable to keep the relief out of his voice as Kyle came into earshot.
“Uh, Maureen—is she—”
He had no idea how to ask what he wanted to ask without letting Maia and Isabelle know
what had happened, but as it turned out, it didn’t matter, because he never managed to get
the rest of the words out. Maia and Isabelle turned; Isabelle looked annoyed and Maia
surprised, clearly wondering who Kyle was.
As soon as Maia really saw Kyle, her face changed; her eyes went wide, the blood
draining from her face. And Kyle, in his turn, was staring at her with the look of someone
who has woken up from a nightmare only to discover that it is real and continuing. His
mouth moved, shaping words, but no sound came out.
“Whoa,” Isabelle said, looking from one of them to the other. “Do you two—know each
Maia’s lips parted. She was still staring at Kyle. Simon had time only to think that she
had never looked at him with anything like that intensity, when she whispered
“Jordan”—and lunged for Kyle, her claws out and sharp, and sank them into his throat.
Part Two For Every Life Nothing is free. Everything has to be paid for.
For every profit in one thing, payment in some other thing. For every life, a death. Even
your music, of which we have heard so much, that had to be paid for.Yourwife was the
payment for your music. Hellis nowsatisfied.
—Ted Hughes, “The Tiger’s Bones”


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