Margaret K. McElderry Book
May 23, 2017
Sunny Los Angeles can be a dark place indeed in Cassandra Clare’s Lord of Shadows, the sequel to the #1 New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling Lady Midnight. Lord of Shadows is a Shadowhunters novel.
Emma Carstairs has finally avenged her parents. She thought she’d be at peace. But she is anything but calm. Torn between her desire for her parabatai Julian and her desire to protect him from the brutal consequences of parabatai relationships, she has begun dating his brother, Mark. But Mark has spent the past five years trapped in Faerie; can he ever truly be a Shadowhunter again?
And the faerie courts are not silent. The Unseelie King is tired of the Cold Peace, and will no longer concede to the Shadowhunters’ demands. Caught between the demands of faerie and the laws of the Clave, Emma, Julian, and Mark must find a way to come together to defend everything they hold dear—before it’s too late.
source : cassandraclare.com
By Edgar Allan Poe
By a route obscure and lonely,
Haunted by ill angels only,
Where an Eidolon, named Night,
On a black throne reigns upright,
I have reached these lands but newly
From an ultimate dim Thule—
From a wild weird clime that lieth, sublime,
Out of Space—out of Time.
Bottomless vales and boundless floods,
And chasms, and caves, and Titan woods,
With forms that no man can discover
For the dews that drip all over;
Mountains toppling evermore
Into seas without a shore;
Seas that restlessly aspire,
Surging, unto skies of fire;
Lakes that endlessly outspread
Their lone waters—lone and dead,—
Their still waters—still and chilly
With the snows of the lolling lily.
By the lakes that thus outspread
Their lone waters, lone and dead,—
Their sad waters, sad and chilly
With the snows of the lolling lily,—
By the mountains—near the river
Murmuring lowly, murmuring ever,—
By the gray woods,—by the swamp
Where the toad and the newt encamp,—
By the dismal tarns and pools
Where dwell the Ghouls,—
By each spot the most unholy—
In each nook most melancholy,—
There the traveller meets aghast
Sheeted Memories of the Past—
Shrouded forms that start and sigh
As they pass the wanderer by—
White-robed forms of friends long given,
In agony, to the Earth—and Heaven.
For the heart whose woes are legion
’Tis a peaceful, soothing region—
For the spirit that walks in shadow
’Tis—oh, ’tis an Eldorado!
But the traveller, travelling through it,
May not—dare not openly view it;
Never its mysteries are exposed
To the weak human eye unclosed;
So wills its King, who hath forbid
The uplifting of the fringed lid;
And thus the sad Soul that here passes
Beholds it but through darkened glasses.
By a route obscure and lonely,
Haunted by ill angels only,
Where an Eidolon, named Night,
On a black throne reigns upright,
I have wandered home but newly
From this ultimate dim Thule.
For Virna, Mari and Julia.
And now good morrow to our waking souls,
Which watch not one another out of fear;
For love, all love of other sights controls,
And makes one little room an every where.
— John Donne
Clary was standing over her own dead body.
There was wasteland all around, and a dull wind stirred Clary’s hair. It reminded her a little of the volcanic bare countryside around the Adamant Citadel, though the sky here looked almost burned — there were streaks of red and black char hanging in the air instead of clouds.
She could hear voices calling in the distance. She heard them every time she was here. They never got close enough to help her. She was lying on the ground, and there was blood on her face, in her hair, on her gear. Her eyes were open, green, staring sightlessly at the sky.
Clary began to kneel, to touch herself on the shoulder, when the ground beneath her gave a shudder and a jerk, and she heard someone shout her name — she whirled, and it all slid away from her as if she were tumbling from the crest of a wave. She gasped, choking, and jerked awake.
For a moment, disoriented, she had no idea where she was. She was lying on a blanket on grass, staring up at a sky full of multicolored stars. They seemed to turn above her as if she was staring into a kaleidoscope. She could hear music in the distance, soft and insistent. An unfamiliar tune, but a singular kind of melody.
Faerie. She was in Faerie. With —
“Clary?” It was Jace’s sleepy, puzzled voice. He had rolled onto his side next to her. They both slept in their training clothes here, never knowing if they’d be safe during the night. Their weapons were close at hand, too, and Clary was glad the nights were warm because she had kicked her way free of the light blanket while she was dreaming. “Are you all right?”
She swallowed. She could still feel the goosebumps on her skin. “Bad dream.”
“You’ve been having a lot of those.” He moved closer, concern in his pale gold eyes. His light hair was tousled, starting to get too long again, a little in his eyes. “Do you want to talk about it?”
She hesitated. How did you tell someone that your dreams weren’t dreams, they were visions? You knew it. And that you were seeing yourself dead, over and over, on a day that was getting closer and closer. That one day you would be looking down at your own body and knowing you were gone forever from the world you loved and the people you loved and who loved you.
No. She couldn’t tell Jace that. Sometimes she thought she was the only person in the world who thought of him as fragile (well, except for Alec, of course). To most people, he was the boy with the angel blood, the Head of the New York Institute, one of the warriors who had gone to Edom and ended the Dark War. To her he was always the skinny boy with desperate eyes who’d survived an abusive father and a soul-crushing lack of childhood love; the boy who’d learned that to love was to destroy, and that what you loved died in your hands.
She knew Alec understood, that in many ways he had the stronger ability to bear up under tragedy, to remain calm in the face of fear for his loved ones. Isabelle, maybe? But neither of them could be told, anyway; she wouldn’t ask them to keep a secret from Jace. Simon wouldn’t be able to bear it any more than Jace could. The only person who might be able to help at all was Magnus, she thought; struggling up onto her elbows; when they got back, she’d go to Magnus. She hadn’t wanted to tell him when he was ill, but she might have no choice.
“Just a really bad nightmare,” she said. It was true, as far as that went. “Sorry I woke you up.”
He propped himself up on his bent arm. “The music would have done that, anyway.” It was loud: Clary could hear pipes and fiddles echoing from the other side of the hills. He flashed a grin, the crooked one that always made her heart jump. “Should we check out the revel?”
“Isn’t that kind of the opposite of being undercover?” she said. “You know, showing ourselves at a major Faerie event. Plus, your dancing is memorable.”
“It is pretty good,” he said, the multicolored stars reflected in his eyes. He reached out and laid a hand on her hip, where it curved into her waist. She remembered him telling her once it was his favorite spot on her body. “Works like a handle,” he’d said, picking her up with one hand while she giggled. Sometimes having a boyfriend who was a lot taller than you wasn’t so bad.
“I said it was memorable. Not good.”
His eyes gleamed. “Come here, Fray.”
She just grinned. Already the dream was receding. There were times she could even forget the visions, concentrate on her mission in Faerie, the time here with Jace. She hadn’t realized when they’d accepted the Institute job how much miserable travel and paperwork it would entail; she was desperately jealous of Alec and Magnus, sometimes, who got to run their Alliance out of their apartment and be together as much as they liked. Half the time Jace was being dragged off to Idris while she was assigned to some local demon activity with Simon and Isabelle.
Actually being sent somewhere with Jace was a rare opportunity for time together, and despite the gravity of looking for a weapon, she’d been enjoying it. And Faerie was beautiful, in its alien way — fruit hung like jewels from low-hanging branches in bright colors of jade and sapphire and amethyst. Tiny pink and purple-winged faeries fluttered among the bees and flowers. There were crystal pools full of nixies who liked to come up and chatter while Clary washed her hair; she hadn’t seen a mermaid yet, but one of the nixies had confided that they mostly spent time in the ocean and had definitely gotten above themselves regarding their tails.
Of course, there was the blight to contend with. Gray patches of dead land, bisecting the green fields like dueling scars. They’d taken samples of the gray soil for the Silent Brothers. That wasn’t especially beautiful, but —
“Clary,” Jace said. He waved a hand in front of her face; it was still a jolt to see his fingers temporarily without the Herondale ring. “You have ceased paying attention to me.”
She raised her eyebrows at him. “You’re a like a cat. If I don’t give you attention, you come and sit on me until I rub your ears or whatever.”
His smile deepened. “It wasn’t my ears I —“
She smacked him on the shoulder. “Don’t say it!”
He was laughing now. “Why not?”
“I’m a very proper lady,” she said. “I might swoon.”
Sometimes she was still surprised at how quickly he could move. He’d rolled them both over in less time than it took her to blink; lying on top of her with his weight braced on his arms, he looked down at her with the laughter beginning to fade from his eyes. “I’ll revive you,” he said, his voice low.
She reached up to touch his face. He was gazing at her so seriously, and Jace was almost never serious when he could avoid it. She remembered the way he had looked at her when he’d asked her to marry him, and her heart contracted with a pain close to agony. She had hurt him, saying what she’d said then; she hadn’t wanted to, but she’d felt as if she’d had no choice. Remembering it, though —
“Kiss me,” she said.
A flicker of surprise at the abruptness of the request, but it was quick; Shadowhunter reflexes were convenient in more than battle. Jace rocked back on his heels so he was sitting up with her straddling his lap; he cradled her face in his hands, and kissed her.
Gentle, slow, exploratory: his mouth on hers was warm and soft; he parted her lips with his, the touch of his tongue against hers sending a shock through her body. Every kiss was like that first one in the greenhouse, rewriting her body’s circuitry, teaching it: you will never want anything else again.
But still she remembered: Clary, will you marry me? And her voice, shaking: You want to get … married?
“Harder,” she whispered, pressing against him, delving into his mouth with her tongue; she ran the tip across his lips, making him arch back in surprise and desire. Her hands were on his shoulders; she nipped his lower lip, and he ran his hands up into her hair, gathering handfuls of it, gasping into her mouth.
“Clary, this is going to get — out of control — very fast,” he said, and in reply, she reached down and pulled her training shirt off over her head. He stared at her in actual astonishment (rare for Jace) before his hands flew up to cover her breasts. “We’re outside,” he protested. “There’s a revel right over there. Anyone could just walk by.”
“Jace Wayland Morgenstern Lightwood Herondale,” she said, her voice a low purr. (If he’d thought putting his hands on her breasts was going to dissuade her, it was not working.) “Are you being shy? Didn’t you once run naked down Madison with antlers on your head?”
“I don’t care about people seeing me naked,” he said. “I care about people seeing you naked.”
She leaned in and kissed the corner of his mouth, his jaw, and then lower. She knew his sensitive spots now, including the one on the left side of his throat, just below the pulse point. She licked and sucked at his skin until his head fell back; his hands were moving on her body now, stroking her from her breasts to her waist, untying the cord that held her training pants on. They fell with a whisper of material and his fingers slid between her legs.
It had been years and he knew her body now the way he knew weapons, could make her writhe in his arms they way they danced in his hands. She gasped as he touched her, and her fingers tore shaking at his shirt, ripping the buttons as she dragged it off him.
“Let me,” he said, his cheeks were flushed and his voice low and gritty. It sent an ache through her deeper than the ache of longing her body felt for his: she remembered what he’d said then: Of course, marriage, what else did you think? There never will be anyone else, not for me. I thought it was the same for you. And she knew what he was saying now: let me, let me please you, for I cannot know what troubles your dreams, I cannot know your secrets, but this I can do.
She put her hands on his shoulders, let him stroke and touch her and the pleasure spiraled up inside her like smoke. It is the same for me. It always has been. Only you and no one else. But the feeling was to intense to hold onto memory; it filled her head and made her dizzy and she cried out finally, digging her hands into his back to keep herself steady.
His eyes were glazed, dark with need. “Lie down,” he said, his voice guttural, but she shook her head, her hands fumbling at the waist of his training pants. She managed to shove them down and closed her hand around him, stroking. He sank back on his elbows, and his body arched under the multicolored stars was beautiful, his hair and the tips of his eyelashes catching their brilliant gold.
She stretched herself out over him, as if she could shield his body; she ran her hands over his chest, the scars and Marks there, as if she could protect his heart. She sank down over him as if the joining of their bodies could prevent any separation, could stop death from ripping her away from him, the thing she feared most in the world.
He cried out and his hands came up to grip her hips, steadying her, holding her to him, and she remembered that day again and the look on his face, like something inside him had been crushed, and her own rising voice. I love you. I love you and you have to trust me: I’m not saying no, I’m saying not now. I have a good reason, I swear. Please believe me, Jace.
He looked up at her now. She could see herself in his eyes, backlit by a million stars, and his face was full of wonder and pleasure. Please, she prayed, let this not be the last time, let this not be my last night with him, my last day with him, let me see his face like this again: that look that only I ever get to see, that has only ever been for me. And let him have this again, too, don’t take this away from him, he’s been through enough, done enough and given everything and —
“Please,” she said, speaking aloud without realizing it, and he groaned as he moved inside her, slow and hard and then faster. He raised his shoulders off the ground, finding her mouth with his, kissing her as if he could fuse the two of them together. Her body was blanking her mind: there was just this, a drumbeat building fiercely in her chest, drawing heat through her veins; the unstoppable tide was coming, drawing him as it drew her: it would drown them both.
“I love you,” she said, pulling her mouth away from his, seeing his eyes widen, “and I always — I always —“
She broke apart around him and it was like dying; a second later, he let go and shuddered into her, throwing his left arm across his eyes in a strangely vulnerable gesture, as if to protect himself from a blinding light.
When Clary could orient herself again, he had pulled her down and rolled them both sideways, one arm around her, the other reaching to pull up the blanket and cover them both. In case a passing faun saw her naked, she thought with some amusement, and kissed his nose.
His gold hair was dark at the roots with sweat, his chest still rising and falling fast. “Jesus, Clary,” he said. “That was — “
Intense. She knew what he was thinking: after five years, when they made love it was often with laughter and teasing, always with passion, but that had been something else. Some part of her had found once more the desperate girl she had been in the ruins of the Wayland Manor, holding Jace far too tightly because she knew she would never have him again, that it was impossible.
She swallowed, curling her body close to his, tracing the line of the Herondale scar along his shoulder with her fingertip. “Missions are dangerous,” she said, in a low voice. “Tomorrow we infiltrate the Unseelie Court. I — I was thinking it could be the last time we were ever together.”
It wasn’t a lie.
He looked appalled. “Clary. I know we live a dangerous life. But we’ve survived everything it’s thrown at us.” He pulled her closer, winding his fingers through her hair. “I get it,” he said, gently. “The worst thing I can imagine is something happening to you.”
Her heart sank. She burrowed against him, her body’s exhaustion taking over, drowsiness spreading through her as he stroked her back. “It’s just that I love you so much,” she said.
“Of course you do.” His hand had stilled, fingers barely moving; his voice was thick with sleep. “I’m amazing.”
She wanted to tell him that he was actually amazing, that it wasn’t just a joke, that though she knew she’d hurt him asking him to delay proposing to her again, he’d let her have the time she’d requested and never demanded to know why. She’d said he needed to trust her, and he had.
It had made her love him more, if that was possible, and she wasn’t unaware of the irony of it. But sleep was washing over her in a tide she couldn’t hold back: the rainbow stars spun over them and Clary laid her head against Jace’s shoulder. Just before she fell entirely into unconsciousness a thought flickered at the edge of her mind — something about the gray earth of the place in her visions, and the blighted land in Faerie. But it was gone like a leaf in a whirlpool, drawn down along with both of them into sleep.
* * *
“Jules,” Emma said. “Say something, please —”
His hands tightened convulsively on her shoulders. She gasped as his body collided with hers, walking her backward until her shoulders hit the wall. She gazed up at him with obvious astonishment; he could see his face reflected in her dark irises. He barely recognized himself, and his voice sounded strange when he spoke, even to his own ears: “Julian,” he said. “I want you to call me Julian. Only ever that.”
Her eyes seemed to spark. Her lips moved slowly — her soft, delicious lips, her mouth that he had stared at for what felt like a million years of silent, hopeless wanting.
“Julian,” she said, exhaling his name on a breath.
The sound of her voice shaping his full name — not the name she’d called him when they were children — sent something hot and dark through his veins. His hands tightened on her shoulders and he took her mouth with a hard, violent desperation that could hardly be called a kiss.
Every muscle in his body seemed to contract at once: the kiss filled all his senses, softness, sweetness, the scent of her hair and skin, the sight of her closed eyes, the flutter of her lashes. Emma. His Emma. And she was clutching him back, she was holding him to her, hard, giving back every part of the kiss. She tasted of wildness, of rain, and he wondered how he could have even imagined for a split second that the faerie he had kissed had been her. He felt a moan rise in his throat and forced it back down; Emma knew this was a bad idea, she was the sensible one and some part of his brain was telling him that if he could hide how much he wanted her, how much he would give up to have this, she would let it continue. Let them both take part in this colossal mistake that was all that was keeping his heart beating.
Her hands rose, touched the back of his neck. Her fingers were long, delicate for a warrior’s fingers, but not soft at all: her calluses scraped gently across the soft skin above the collar of his shirt and he shuddered with the effort not to lose control right then and there. She reached to yank his sweater over his head, dragging it off over his hands.
She reached for his t-shirt next; then hesitated. His heart slammed against his ribs. Please let it be that she didn’t want to stop. Please let her keep wanting him. Her lips parted as she looked up at him: her fair hair hung in thick wet golden ropes over her shoulders, down her back. It made damp patches on her shirt; he could see her bra through the material, and her nipples, stiffened with the cold. He was so hard that it hurt.
He put his hands on her waist. He loved holding her like this, as if he were about to lift her in his arms, as if they were dancing. He heard her breathing quicken. His hands slid up her body, cupped her breasts; his fingers stroked across their centers. She gave a little gasping moan and her head fell back against the wall.
Desire and triumph shot through him at once, a heady combination. Their first time had been an explosion of wanting and instinct; he had taken away from it no confidence that he could reliably please her. Every quickened breath she took now was like a match to dry tinder; he hadn’t thought he could want her more, but the fire coursing through him made him think of the church whose stone walls he and Emma had charred to ashes.
He kissed her deeply; she murmured against his mouth, her hands on his back, pulling him closer. She arched against him, against his body that ached and wanted her; he could hear his voice, saying her name, and he had to force himself not to beg her to tell him she loved him, that she wanted him.
But he couldn’t control his own words. He buried his face against her, kissing her cheek, her throat as he slid his thumbs under the waistband of her jeans and pushed down. She kicked the wet heap of denim away. His hands tightened on her curves, the delicate convexity of hipbones under his fingers, something unbearably intimate in the contact.
“I love you,” he said, or something like it: the words were half-choked. “I love you — so much.”
He thought he felt her freeze. He’d said too much. Even as the fear tore at him, his body was still aching, wanting hers; when she turned her head to the side and kissed his palm, he wanted to scream. “Julian,” she said, her voice shaking. “I —”
“Don’t,” he whispered, and kissed her, desperate not to hear that this was impossible. Her lips scorched his, feathering along the edge of his mouth. “I don’t want to hear anything reasonable, not now. I don’t want logic. I want this.”
She stopped, her lips against his jawline. “But you need to know —”
He shook his head. “I don’t.” He reached down, grabbed the hem of his shirt, dragged it off. His wet hair showered droplets on them both. “I’ve been broken for weeks,” he said, and the words hurt to say, though they were true and honest. Maybe because they were true and honest. “I need to be whole again. Even if it doesn’t last.”
She was shaking her head, but her hands stroked his collarbone, brushed across his bare skin. When her fingers found his parabatai rune and traced its contours, the rush of blood to his groin made him dizzy.
“It can’t last,” she whispered. “It’ll break our hearts.”
He couldn’t stand it. There was something about her fingertips on the rune that was driving him out of his mind; he caught her by the wrist, drew her hand away and brought it to his bare chest. Splayed her fingers over his heart, imagining she could see through his ribcage like a window, see where she had left her fingerprints on every valve and ventricle and artery. “Break my heart,” he told her. “Break it in pieces. I give you permission.”
He saw her pupils expand, blown wide like doors. She reached her arms out for him and he could hear the ache of longing in her voice, a longing that matched his own. “Julian, yes,” she said. “Yes.”
He caught her, lifted her, pulling her tank top up over her head. She unsnapped her bra, shrugged it off, reached for the waistband of his jeans. Slid her hand down under it with a wicked smile. Her hand closed around him, palm and fingers a hot sweet torment. He pressed his forehead into her shoulder, riding the waves of delight that she wanted him, was touching him, until they began to crest and in fear that it would be over too soon, he drew away abruptly to rid himself of his own clothes while she laughed the low, throaty laugh that tore a hole right through his solar plexus.
“Julian,” she breathed. “Come back.” Her arms were out to him, beckoning him back to her. Then his hands were on her hips; he was lifting her so she was pinned between his body and the wall. They looked at each other for what was probably only a second: it felt like forever. Outside the wind and rain and sea smashed against the stone of the cliffs; here, inside this house, this odd place that was a monument to lost love, they were together and nothing else mattered: they fit into the smallest space imaginable, the space inside the hearts of lovers who had found their way back to each other after an impossible separation.
He bent his head to kiss her with a gentle reverence: first her lips and then her breasts; he felt her tremble with pleasure; her long legs rose and wrapped themselves around his waist. She urged his face up with her fingers beneath his chin as he held her, hands under her thighs, and she kissed his mouth open, circled his tongue with hers until he could stand it no longer and pressed forward and inside her.
She gasped, shuddered, her body hot and soft around him. Her lips parted, her eyes fluttering shut. He said a silent apology to every cliché that he’d now realized was true: that they fit together like puzzle pieces, that she was the other half of him, that this was something so extraordinary that no one else had ever experienced it, that no one else ever would, that he had happened upon undiscovered country. Oh my America, my new-found-land —
He dragged himself back to reality. “You’re all right?” he whispered, astonished he could form the words.
Her ankles locked in the small of his back and he nearly blacked out. Sweat gleamed at her throat, her collarbones. Her voice shook: “Don’t stop.”
He began to move and she arched against him, her hands reaching back, scrabbling at the wall for something to brace herself. She was saying his name, Julian, Julian, and his hands slid up her spine, cradling her body as he fought for control. The intense sensation of it rose in a spiral with every movement, with each slide of her skin against his. Her breath came in sobbing gasps; her fingers flew to grip his shoulders; he knew he was saying he loved her, over and over and over as she cried out and the pleasure blew apart inside him, searing every nerve in his body.
He sank to his knees, still cradling Emma in his arms. There were tears on her face, though he doubted she knew it: she was holding him still; they were holding each other, dazed and exhausted, like the only survivors of a ship that had run aground on some distant, legendary shore.