Margaret K. McElderry Book
March 27, 2007
When Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder. Much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with odd markings. This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons — and keeping the odd werewolves and vampires in line. It’s also her first meeting with gorgeous, golden-haired Jace. Within twenty-four hours, Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested by an ordinary mundane like Clary? And how did she suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know…
“New York is the city that never sleeps — but evil spirits, angels, warlocks, faeries and shadowhunters don’t need much rest anyway. The city is home to Cassandra Clare’s young-adult debut novel, a cool, pleasingly dark and spicy urban fantasy called City of Bones.”
CC’s note: This was the original prologue for City of Bones. I had wanted to tell some of the story from Jace’s point of view, but once I got further into the book I realized it would be better if we mainly saw him from Clary’s perspective. It made him more mysterious and a mysterious character is always fun.
The marks on his skin told the story of his life. Jace Wayland had always been proud of them. Some of the other young people in the Clave didn’t like the disfiguring black letters, didn’t like the burning pain of the stele where it cut into the skin, didn’t like the nightmares that came when runes too powerful were inked into the flesh of someone unready. Jace had no sympathy for them. It was their own fault they were not stronger.
He had always been strong. He’d had to be. Most boys got their first Marks when they were fifteen. Alec had been thirteen, and that was very young. Jace had been nine. His father had cut the marks into his skin with a stele made from carved ivory. The runes spelled out his true name, and other things besides. “Now you are a man,” his father had said. That night Jace dreamed of cities made of gold and blood, of tall bone towers sharp as splinters. He was almost ten years old and had never seen a city.
That winter his father took him to Manhattan for the first time. The hard pavement was filthy, the buildings crowding too close together, but the lights were bright and beautiful. And the streets were full of monsters. Jace had only seen them before in his father’s instructional manuals. Vampires in their finery, faces dead white as paper. Lycanthropes with their too-sharp teeth and their smell of wolf. Warlocks with their cat’s-eyes and pointed ears, sometimes a forked tail protruding from the hem of an elegant velvet coat.
“Monsters,” his father had said, with distaste. His mouth curled at the corner. “But they bleed as red as men do when you kill them.”
“What about demons? Do they bleed red?”
“Some do. Some bleed thin blood like green poison, and some bleed silver or black. I have a scar here from a demon that bled acid the color of sapphires.”
Jace gazed at his father’s scar in wonder. “And have you killed many demons?”
“I have,” said his father. “And some day, you will too. You were born to kill demons, Jace. It’s in your bones.”
It would be years later that Jace would see a demon for the first time, and by then his father had already been dead for several years. He pulled aside his shirt now and looked at the scar where that first demon had clawed him. Four parallel claw marks that ran from his breastbone to his shoulder, where his father had inked the runes that would make him fast and strong, and hide him from mundane eyes. Swift as the wind, strong as the earth, silent as the forest, invisible as water.
Jace thought of the girl in his dream, the one with the braided scarlet hair. In the dream, he had not been invisible to her. She had looked at him with more than awareness; there had been recognition in her eyes, as if he were familiar to her. But how could a human girl see through his glamour?
He had woken up shivering, cold as if his skin had been stripped away. It was frightening to feel so vulnerable, more frightening than any demon. He would have to ask Hodge about runes for nightmare protection it in the morning. Perhaps there would be something about it in one of his books.
But there was no time now. There had been reports of dark activity in a nightclub downtown, human bodies found limp and drained as the sun came up. Jace shrugged on his jacket, checked his weaponry, ink-Marked hands skating lightly over cloth and metal. Marks that no human eye could see–and he was glad, thinking of the girl in his dream, the way she had looked at him, as if he were no different than she was. Stripped of their magic, the marks on his body were only marks, after all, of no more power than the scars on his wrists and chest, or the deep scar just over his heart where his father’s killer had stabbed him when he was ten years old.
The sound of his name startled him out of his reverie. They were calling him from the corridor, Alec and Isabelle, impatient, eager for the hunt and the kill. Sweeping thoughts of nightmares from his mind, Jace went to join them.
A story that takes place during City of Bones from Magnus’ viewpoint. The hardbound, first editions of Clockwork Angel came with this.
Magnus Bane lay on the floor of his Brooklyn loft, looking up at the bare ceiling. The floor was slightly sticky, as was much else in the apartment. Spilled faery wine mixed with blood on the floor, running in rivulets across the splintery floorboards. The bar, which had been a door laid across two dented metal garbage cans, had gotten wrecked at some point during the night during a lively fight between a vampire and Bat, one of the downtown werewolf pack. Magnus felt satisfied. It wasn’t a good party unless something got broken.
Soft footsteps padded across the floor toward him and then something crawled onto his chest; something small, soft, and heavy. He looked up and found himself staring into a pair of green-gold eyes that matched his own. Chairman Meow.
He stroked the cat, who kneaded his claws happily into Magnus’s shirt. A bit of Silly String fell from the ceiling and landed on both of them, causing Chairman Meow to leap sideways.
With a yawn, Magnus sat up. He usually felt like this after a party – tired but too wound up to sleep. His mind was humming over the events of the evening, but like a scratched CD, it kept coming back to the same point and spinning there, sending his memories into a whirl.
Those Shadowhunter children. He hadn’t been surprised that Clarissa had finally tracked him down, he’d known Jocelyn’s stopgap memory spells wouldn’t work forever. He’d told her as much, but she’d been determined to protect the girl as long as she could. Now that he’d met her, conscious and alert, he wondered if she’d really needed all that protecting. She was fiery, impulsive, and brave – and lucky, like her mother.
That was if you believed in luck. But something must have led her to the Shadowhunters of the Institute, possibly the only ones who could protect her from Valentine. A pity that Robert and Maryse were gone. He’d dealt with Maryse more than once, but it had been years since he’d seen the younger generation.
He had a vague memory of visiting Maryse and Hodge, and there being two boys in the hallway, about eleven years old, battling back and forth with harmless model seraph blades. A girl with black hair in two braids had been watching them and vociferously complaining about not being included. He had taken very little note of them at the time.
But now – seeing them had shaken him, especially the boys, Jace and Alec. When you had so many memories, sometimes it was hard to identify the exact one you wanted, like flipping through a ten-thousand page book to find the correct paragraph.
This time, however, he knew.
He crawled across the splintery floor and knelt to open the closet door. Inside, he pushed aside clothes and various packets and potions, feeling along the walls for what he wanted. When he emerged, coughing on dust balls, he was dragging a decent-sized wooden trunk. Though he had lived a long time, he needed to travel light; to keep very few mementos of his past. He sensed somehow that they would weigh him down, keep him from moving forward. When you lived forever, you could spend only so much time looking back.
It had been so long since he’d unlocked the truck, it came open with a squeal of hinges that sent Chairman Meow skittering under the sofa, his tail twitching.
The heap of objects inside the trunk looked like the hoard of an unfastidious dragon. Some objects gleamed with metal and gems – Magnus drew out an old snuffbox with the initials WS picked out across the top in winking rubies, and grinning at the bad taste of the thing, and also at the memories it evoked. Others seemed unremarkable: a faded, cream-colored silk ribbon that had been Camille’s; a matchbook from the Cloud Club with the words I know what you are written on the inside cover in a lady’s hand; a limerick signed OFOWW; a half-burned piece of stationary from the Hong Kong Club – a place he had been barred from not for being a warlock, but for not being white. He touched a piece of twisted rope nearly at the bottom of the pile, and thought of his mother. She had been the daughter of a Dutch colonialist man and an Indonesian woman who had died in childbirth and whose name Magnus had never known.
He was almost at the bottom of the trunk when he found what he was looking for and drew it out, squinting: a black-and-white paper photograph mounted on hard cardboard. An object that really shouldn’t have existed, and wouldn’t if Henry had not been obsessed with photography. Magnus could picture him now, ducking in and out from beneath his photographer’s hood, racing the wet plates to the darkroom he’d set up in the crypt to develop the film, shouting at his photographic subjects to keep still. Those were the days when in order to render an accurate photograph, one had to remain motionless for minutes at the time. Not easy, Magnus thought, the corner of his mouth flicking up, for the crew of the London Institute.
There was Charlotte, her dark hair up in a practical bun. She was smiling, but anxiously, as if squinting into the sun. Beside her was Jessamine in a dress that looked black in the photo, but which Magnus knew had been dark blue. Her hair was curled and ribbons fell like streamers from the brim of her straw bonnet. She looked very pretty, but very unhappy. He wondered how she would have reacted to someone like Isabelle: a girl her own age who obviously loved Shadowhunting, who showed off her bruises and the scars of her marks as if they were jewelry instead of hiding them with Mechlin lace.
On the other side of Charlotte stood Jem, looking like a photographic negative himself with his silvery hair and eyes turned almost white; his hand rested on his jade dragon-topped cane, and his face was turned toward Tessa’s. Tessa – Tessa’s hat was in her hand and her long brown curls blew free, slightly blurred by their motion.
There was a faint halo of light around Will; as befitted his nature and would have surprised no one who knew him, he had not been able to stand still for the photograph. As always, he was hatless, his black hair curling against his temples. It was a loss not to be able to see the color of his eyes, but he was still beautiful and young and a little vulnerable-looking in the photograph, with one hand in his pocket and the other behind his neck.
It had been so long since Magnus had looked at the photograph that the resemblance between Will and Jace struck him suddenly. Though it was Alec who had that black hair and those eyes – that very startling dark blue – it was Jace who had more of Will’s personality, at least on the surface. The same sharp arrogance hiding something breakable underneath, the same pointed wit…
He traced the halo of light around Will with a finger and smiled. Will had been no angel, though neither had he been as flawed as some might have thought him. When Magnus thought of Will, even now, he thought of him dripping rainwater on Camille’s rug, begging Magnus for help no one else could give him. It was Will who had introduced him to the idea that Shadowhunters and Downworlders might be friends.
Jem was Will’s other, better half. He and Will had been parabatai, like Alec and Jace, and shared that same evident closeness. And though Alec struck Magnus as nothing at all like Jem – Alec was jumpy and sweet, sensitive and worried, while Jem had been calm, rarely bothered, older than his years – both of them were unusual where Shadowhunters were concerned. Alec exuded a bone-deep innocence that was rare among Shadowhunters – a quality that, Magnus had to admit, drew him like a moth to a flame, despite all his own cynicism.
Magnus looked at Tessa again. Though she was not conventionally pretty in the way Jessamine had been pretty, her face was alive with energy and intelligence. Her lips curved up at the corners. She stood, as Magnus supposed was appropriate, between Jem and Will. Tessa, who, like Magnus, lived forever. Magnus looked at the detritus in the box – memories of loves past, some of whose faces stayed with him as clearly as the day he’d first seen them, and some whose named he barely remembered. Tessa, who like him, had loved a mortal, someone destined to die as she was not.
Magnus replaced the photograph in the trunk. He shook his head, as if he could clear it of memories. There was a reason he rarely opened the trunk. Memories weighed him down, reminded him of what he once had but did no longer. Jem, Will, Jessamine, Henry, Charlotte – in a way it was amazing that he still remembered their names. But then, knowing them had changed his life.
Knowing Will and his friends had made Magnus swear to himself that he would never again get involved in Shadowhunters’ personal business. Because when you got to know them, you got to care about them. And when you got to care about mortals, they broke your heart.
“And I won’t,” he told Chairman Meow solemnly, perhaps a little drunkenly. “I don’t care how charming they are or how brave or even how helpless they seem. I will never ever ever-“
Downstairs, the doorbell buzzed, and Magnus got up to answer it.
I kissed your lips and broke your heart
The Institute’s bell begins to toll, the deep loud heartbeat of the apex of the night.
Jace sets his knife down. It’s a neat little pocketknife, bone-handled, that Alec gave him when they became parabatai. He’s used it constantly and the grip is worn smooth from the pressure of his fingers.
« Midnight, » he says. He can feel Clary beside him, sitting back amongst the remains of their picnic, her breathing soft in the cool, leaf-smelling air of the greenhouse. He doesn’t look at her, but straight ahead, at the shining closed buds of the medianox plant. He isn’t sure why he doesn’t want to look at her. He remembers the first time he saw the flower bloom, during horticulture class, sitting on a stone bench with Alec and Izzy on either side of him, and Hodge’s fingers on the stem of the blossom — he had woken them up at nearly midnight to show them the marvel, a plant that normally grew only in Idris — and remembered his breath catching in the wintery midnight air, at the sight of something so surprising and so beautiful.
Alec and Isabelle had been interested but not, he remembers, caught by the beauty of it as he had been. He was worried even now, as the bells rang on, that Clary would be the same: interested or even pleased, but not enchanted. He wanted her to feel the way he had about the medianox, though he could not have said why.
A sound escapes her lips, a soft « Oh! » The flower is blooming: opening like the birth of a star, all shimmering pollen and white-gold petals. « Do they bloom every night? »
A wave of relief goes through him. Her green eyes are shining, fixed on it. She is flexing her fingers unconsciously, the way he has come to understand she does when she is wishing she had a pen or pencils to capture the image of something in front of her. Sometimes he wishes he could see as she did: see the world as a canvas to be captured in paint, chalks and watercolors. Sometimes when she looks at him that way he finds himself almost blushing; a feeling so strange he almost doesn’t recognize it. Jace Wayland doesn’t blush.
“Happy birthday, Clarissa Fray,” he says, and her mouth curves into a smile. “I have something for you.” He fumbles, a little, reaching into his pocket, though he doesn’t think she notices. When he presses the witchlight runestone into her hand, he is conscious of how small her fingers are under his — delicate but strong, callused from hours of holding pencils and paintbrushes. The calluses tickle his fingertips. He wonders if contact with his skin speeds her pulse the way his does when he touches hers.
Apparently not, because she draws away from him, her expression showing only curiosity. “You know, when most girls say they want a big rock, they don’t mean, you know, literally a big rock.”
He smiles without meaning to. Which is unusual in and of itself; usually only Alec or Isabelle can startle laughter out of him. He had known Clary was brave the first time he’d met her — walking into that room after Isabelle, unarmed and unprepared, took the kind of guts he didn’t associate with mundanes — but the fact that she made him laugh still surprised him. “Very amusing, my sarcastic friend. It’s not a rock, precisely. All Shadowhunters have a witchlight rune-stone. It will bring you light even among the darkest shadows of this world and others.”
They were the same words his father had spoken to him, upon giving him his first runestone. What other worlds? Jace had asked, and his father had only laughed. There are more worlds a breath away from this one than there are grains of sand on a beach.
She smiles at him and makes a joke about birthday presents, but he senses that she is touched; she slips the stone into her pocket carefully. The medianox flower is already shedding petals like a shower of stars, lighting her face with a soft illumination. “When I was twelve, I wanted a tattoo,” she says. A strand of red hair falls across her eyes; Jace fights the urge to reach out and push it back.
« Most Shadowhunters get their first Marks at twelve. It must have been in your blood. »
« Maybe. Although I doubt most Shadowhunters get a tattoo of Donatello from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on their left shoulder. » She is smiling, in that way she does when she says things that are totally inexplicable to him, as if she is fondly remembering. It sends a jealous twinge sparking through his veins, though he isn’t even sure what he is jealous of. Simon, who understands her references to a mundane world Jace can never be a part of? The mundane world itself that she could one day return to, leaving him and his universe of demons and hunters, scars and battle, gratefully behind?
He clears his throat. “You wanted a turtle on your shoulder?”
She nods, and her hair falls back into place. “I wanted to cover my chicken pox scar.” She draws the strap of her tank top aside. “See?”
And he sees: there is some sort of mark on her shoulder, a scar, but he sees more than that: he sees the curve of her collarbone, the light dusting freckles on her skin like a dusting of gold, the downy curve of her shoulder, the pulse at the base of her throat. He sees the shape of her mouth, her lips slightly parted. Her coppery lashes as she lowers them. And he is swept through with a wave of desire, a kind he has never experienced before. He’s desired girls before, certainly, and satisfied that desire: he had always thought of it as hunger, a need for a sort of fuel that the body wanted.
He has never felt desire like this, a clean fire that burned away thought, that made his hands — not tremble, exactly, but thrum with nervous energy. He tears his eyes away from her, hastily. « It’s getting late, » he says. « We should go back downstairs. »
She looks at him, curiously, and he cannot help the feeling that those green eyes can see through him. “Have you and Isabelle ever dated?” she asks.
His heart is still pounding. He doesn’t quite understand the question. “Isabelle?” he echoes. Isabelle? What did Isabelle have to do with anything?
“Simon was wondering,” she says, and he hates the way she says Simon’s name. He has never felt anything like this before: anything that unnerved him like she does. He remembers coming to her in that alleyway behind the coffee shop, the way he had wanted to draw her outside, away from the dark-haired boy she was always with, into his world of shadows. He had felt even then that she belonged where he did, not to the mundane world where people weren’t real, where they passed just beyond his vision like puppets on a stage. But this girl, with her green eyes that pinned him like a butterfly, she was real. Like a voice heard in a dream, that you know comes from the waking world, she was real, piercing the distance he has set so carefully about himself like armor.
“The answer is no. I mean, there may have been a time when one or the other of us considered it, but she’s almost a sister to me. It would be strange.”
“You mean Isabelle and you never—”
“She hates me,” says Clary.
Despite everything, Jace almost laughs; like a brother might, he takes a certain delight in observing Izzy when she’s frustrated. “You just make her nervous, because she’s always been the only girl in a crowd of adoring boys, and now she isn’t anymore.”
“But she’s so beautiful.”
“So are you,” Jace says, automatically, and sees Clary’s expression change. He cannot read her face. It is hardly as if he has never told a girl she’s beautiful before, but he can’t remember a time it wasn’t calculated. That it was accidental. That it made him feel like going to the training room and throwing knives, and kicking and punching and fighting shadows until he was bloody and exhausted and if his skin was flayed open, it was only in the way he was used to.
She just looks at him, quietly. The training room it is, then.
“We should probably go downstairs,” he says again.
“All right.” He can’t tell what she’s thinking from her voice, either; his ability to read people seems to have deserted him and he doesn’t understand why. Moonlight spears down through the glass panes of the greenhouse as they make their way out, Clary slightly in front of him.
Something moves ahead of them — a white spark of light — and suddenly she stops short and half-turns to him, already in the circle of his arm, and she is warm and soft and delicate and he is kissing her.
And he is astonished. He doesn’t work like this; his body doesn’t do things without his permission. It is his instrument as much as the piano, and he has always been in perfect command of it. But she tastes sweet, like apples and copper, and her body in his arms is trembling. She is so small; his arms go around her, to steady her, and he is lost. He understands now why kisses in movies are filmed the way they are, with the camera endlessly circling, circling: the ground is unsteady under his feet and he clings to her, small as she is, as if she could hold him up.
His palms smooth down her back. He can feel her breathing against him; a gasp in between kisses. Her thin fingers are in his hair, on the back of his neck, tangling gently, and he remembers the medianox flower and the first time he saw it and thought: here is something too beautiful to properly belong in this world.
The rush of wind is audible to him first, trained as he is to hear it. He draws back from Clary and sees Hugo, perched in the crook of a nearby dwarf cypress. His arms are still around Clary, her weight light against him. Her eyes are half-closed. “Don’t panic, but we’ve got an audience,” he whispers to her. “If Hugo’s here, Hodge won’t be far behind. We should go.”
Her green eyes flutter all the way open, and she looks amused. It pricks his ego slightly. After that kiss, shouldn’t she be fainting at his feet? But she’s grinning. She wants to know if Hodge is spying on them. He reassures her, but he feels her soft laughter travel through their joined hands — how did that happen? — as they make their way downstairs.
And he understands. He understands why people hold hands: he’d always thought it was about possessiveness, saying This is mine. But it’s about maintaining contact. It is about speaking without words. It is about I want you with me and don’t go.
He wants her in his bedroom. And not in that way — no girl has ever been in his bedroom that way. It is his private space, his sanctuary. But he wants Clary there. He wants her to see him, the reality of him, not the image he shows the world. He wants to lie down on the bed with her and have her curl into him. He wants to hold her as she breathes softly through the night; to see her as no one else sees her: vulnerable and asleep. To see her and to be seen.
So when they reach her door, and she thanks him for the birthday picnic, he still doesn’t let go of her hand. “Are you going to sleep?”
She tilts her head up and he can see that her mouth bears the imprint of his kisses: a flush of pink, like the carnations in the greenhouse, and it knots his stomach. By the Angel, he thinks, I am so…
“Aren’t you tired?” she asks, breaking into his thoughts.
There is a hollow in the pit of his stomach, a nervous edginess. He wants to pull her back to himself, to pour into her everything he is feeling: his admiration, his new-born knowledge, his devotion, his need. “I’ve never been more awake.”
She lifts her chin, a quick unconscious movement, and he leans down, cupping her face with her free hand. He doesn’t mean to kiss her here — too public, too easy to be interrupted — but he can’t stop touching his mouth to hers lightly. Her lips part under his and he leans into her and he can’t stop. I am so —
It was at precisely that moment that Simon threw open the bedroom door and stepped out into the hall. And Clary pulls away from him hastily, turning her head aside, and he feels it with the sharp pain of a bandage ripped off his skin.
I am so screwed.
Kaye really wasn’t expecting Shadowhunters to come to Moon in a Cup, especially on opening day.
She wasn’t even really sure what Shadowhunters did. They appeared to believe that the world was menaced by demons, wore a lot of weapons, tattooed one another, and didn’t trust anyone who wasn’t one of them. Kaye had once pointed out that she’d never seen a demon and, really, she’d seen plenty of odd things. The Shadowhunter she’d been talking with had claimed her not seeing any demons only proved that the Shadowhunters were doing their job. She’d stopped arguing after that. You can’t prove a negative, Corny had said.
It annoyed her, though, because not only did they believe in demons, but they thought faeries like her were part demon too. That made all the weapon carrying and weirdness a little more nervous-making than it might have been otherwise. But Luis liked them and, besides, Kaye needed customers. She just hoped they didn’t eat the scones. Moon in a Cup was her dream and now that it was nally happening, she was incredibly nervous. She loved the smell of the espresso in the air, the clouds of steam and the sound of frothing milk. She loved all the things that she and her friends had scavenged from thrift sales and from the side of the road. Ratty little wooden tables that she and Valerie and Ruth had decoupaged with postcards and sheets of music and pages from encyclopedias. Gold-painted chairs. Outsider art and weird antlers and a few landscapes with sea serpents painted on top of them. Mismatched cups that ranged from bone china to chipped bowls with pictures of ducks on them to mugs with slogans for businesses long closed. Every single one felt like a treasure to her, but she’d never owned anything before or been very responsible. She’s worried over whether she could handle it – whether she’d even like it once it was real – for months.
And now, finally, finally, finally, the place was open.
Ravus and Luis had painted a big sign announcing their GRAND OPENING, which hung above the register. There, in somewhat organized canisters, were the makings for many things, both mortal and less so. In addition to various coffee drinks, including the terrifying Red Eye, and the Dirty Chai, they were serving herbal teas made from nettle, milk thistle and dandelion, rosehip and sticklewort, bluecap and coltsfoot. Then one of the Unseelie knights, Dulcamara, had sent Kaye a large basket of pastries – scones, muns, all tarts – all baked with faerie fruit, none of which Kaye could picture the knight making herself. Corny had put them out, but marked them NOT FOR HUMANS, which Kaye worried might confuse people who came in off the street. Still, she’d been too busy to do more than promise herself that she was going to keep an eye on them.
The place was already half full by the time the Shadowhunters arrived. There were a ton of faerie folk that Kaye didn’t know — denizens of Roiben’s court, looking curiously around at the décor. Corny was helping Kaye behind the bar, mixing up a pot of seaweed tea for a sharp-dressed kelpie who winked at him. Corny didn’t wink back, probably because Luis was watching him from across the room with an amused expression, flanked by Val, her short red hair growing out in curls, Ravus, and Val’s best friend Ruth with her new girlfriend whose hair was dyed the color of a blueberry.
Luis stopped watching his boyfriend, though, and looked over at the door when the Shadowhunters came in. They tended to attract attention, even though they were often glamoured up like they really didn’t want it. Still, it was hard to ignore a group of tall, heavily armed people whose cheekbones were as sharp as their weaponry.
It was a group of three of them: two boys and a girl. The taller boy had black hair and blue eyes, and wore a quiver of bows slung over his shoulder. His hands were in his pockets and he was glaring like he really didn’t want to be there. The boy next to him was blond, really bright blond, with hair the same color that the gold chairs were painted. He was wearing a long leather jacket so any weapons he had on him were probably concealed, although Kaye was sure they were there. The girl had the same long black hair as the tall boy — siblings, Kaye guessed — though her eyes were dark. She was wearing a owing lacy top and a velvet skirt, and a very unusual sort of golden bangle that curled over and over up her arm.
“Meliorn!” the girl cried out upon entering, and dashed across the room to throw herself into the arms of a faerie knight in white armor. Kaye recognized him as one of the Seelie Court’s knights, kind of a silent, stuck-up type. He returned the Shadowhunter girl’s embrace.
“Isabelle,” he said. “You are as lovely as a willow tree.”
Kaye smirked to herself. Ah, faerie compliments. Some willow trees were lovely and some weren’t, so the compliment didn’t mean much. The Shadowhunter girl, Isabelle, seemed to purr under his words, though; grasping him by his slightly pointed ears — maybe only a half-fae? — she kissed him warmly. Well, that was new. Shadowhunters dating faeries?
The two boys came up to the bar, looking around like they were sure that anyone would be honored to serve them coffee. Kaye wasn’t so convinced. “So what’s a red eye?” asked the blond one.
“It’s a shot of espresso in a cup of coffee,” Kaye explained. “Not for amateurs.” The blond boy grinned. He had that kind of grin that really good-looking people who knew they were good-looking had. It was more than a little intimidating. “I think you’ll find I’m not an amateur at anything.”
“So does that mean you want one, or not?” Kaye always felt awkward around boys like him, sure that they were laughing at her.
“I think it means if you come out from behind that counter and spend a few minutes with me somewhere a little more private, you won’t be disappointed.” Kaye stared at him, open-mouthed. Was he really suggesting they go have sex? Like right then, in the middle of her shift? Or maybe he meant something else. She took another look at him. Nope, probably not.
“Jace,” hissed the boy standing next to him. “Just order a freaking cookie or something.”
“I like cookies,” said Jace, with a particularly charming smile, “but what I really prefer is pretty ladies with green skin.”
“Slow your roll, Captain Kirk,” said Corny. “She has a boyfriend.”
“A serious one?” Jace inquired — he was still smiling in that charming way that made it hard to be irritated.
“He has a seriously big sword,” Corny said. “And he’ll be here any minute.”
Jace’s hand went to his waist. “Well, if it’s seriously big swords we’re discussing —”
The dark-haired boy thunked his head down on the countertop. “Stop this pointless flirting,” he said. “Or I will bash my head through this pastry case.”
“I wish you wouldn’t,” said Kaye. “We just had it installed.”
“Calm down, Alec.” Jace shrugged, in a no-harm-trying kind of way and flashed his grin at Corny. “In that case, I guess we’ll have to make do with two Red Eyes and a scone.”
“The scones aren’t for humans,” Kaye protested. “We’re not humans,” said Jace. Kaye was about to protest again, when Corny slid a plate with a scone on it onto the countertop with a flourish.
She wanted to snatch it back – faerie fruit wasn’t wise for anyone – but it would be bad for business to be seen wrestling food away from customers, especially when they were currently in the process of paying for it. Besides, she thought, trying to convince herself, people liked faerie fruit. It made them a little crazy, sure, and there was that one time that Corny had recited all the lyrics to Synchronicity while eating them and that other time that he’d maybe been involved in an orgy, but on the whole, Jace would probably be fine. Shadowhunters were supposed to be different. Maybe they had some control over themselves that ordinary human beings didn’t. The rumor about them was that they were part angel, and Kaye couldn’t imagine angels running around reciting all the lyrics to Synchronicity or getting into orgiastic situations. Then again, she couldn’t picture angels hitting on her either. “Enjoy it,” she said, giving up and setting their coffee drinks on the counter.
Alec took the change she handed out and dumped it in the tip jar. She felt bad for him. It was obvious he had a bit of a crush on Jace, and equally obvious that he was having a pretty bad day.
She watched as they made their way across the shop and sank down on a couch across from Isabelle and Meliorn, who were busy rubbing noses and making cutesy faces at each other. Jace and Alec rolled their eyes.
Another boy came in, staggering a little. His black hair stuck straight up, thick with glitter, and he appeared to be very, very drunk. He had a stack of papers with him and was handing them out to the patrons. Every time someone took one, there was a little electric burst of glitter. Finally he sprawled out in an armchair near Isabelle, and leaned over to her.
She broke away from Meliorn, frowning at him — he seemed to be saying something about his cat’s birthday as he waved another piece of paper at her. Or maybe he was talking about his own birthday, since his eyes looked very like the reective, unblinking eyes of a cat. Kaye wondered what he was. Not a faerie, and not a Shadowhunter either.
“The Magnificent Magnus?” Isabelle said, dubiously, then shrugged. “But, hey, thanks for the invite.” She took the paper, folded it up, and thrust it down the front of her shirt before going back to kissing Meliorn.
For a few minutes, Kaye was absorbed in making another pot of seaweed tea, passing over three espresso shots to a trio of hobgoblins and making one Dirty Chai for a human in a business suit who seemed a little unnerved, as though despite not being able to see through the glamour all around him, he was able to discern that something about the other customers was a little off. He scuttled away as soon as she handed him her drink, clearing the way for her to see across the room —
To where Jace was taking off his clothes. The scone plate on the coffee table in front of him was empty, and he had a dreamy expression on his face – the dreamy expression of a human who had eaten faerie fruit. He had already shrugged off his long coat, and was getting to work on the buttons of his shirt. “Jace,” Alec hissed. “Jace, what are you doing?”
“It’s warm in here,” Jace said, in a slurred voice.
Two knives hit the ground.
Across the room, several faeries began to giggle. Jace kicked off his boots and socks.
“Corny,” Kaye said. “Do something. This is entirely your fault, you know. You gave him those scones.”
Corny was watching Jace undressing with raised eyebrows and an appreciative expression on his face. “I think I might be some kind of genius. You couldn’t pay me to stop this.”
Jace had whipped his shirt off. Kaye squinted and had to admit Corny had a point. You rarely saw a body like that outside of magazine spreads. Some people had six-packs; Jace appeared to have a twelve-pack. It didn’t look humanly possible. “Could be good for business,” she mused and pulled herself an espresso shot. She thought she was going to need it.
“Maybe we could get him to do it every day?” Corny said, as Jace unbuttoned his jeans. Alec attempted to stop him, but Jace moved nimbly out of his way and kicked the jeans off with a flourish.
“Don’t try to stop me, Alec,” said Jace. “This body has to be free.”
Isabelle looked up from kissing Meliorn and her eyes widened. “Holy crap,” she said. “Jace —” She started to stand up, but Jace had already made his way to the door. He paused there and bowed — to not considerable applause — plucked the pair of antlers o the wall, and placed them gently on his head.
Then he darted out the door, just as Roiben came in. Roiben, in his long black cloak, raised both his silver brows and stared after Jace, a small smile playing at the corner of his lips. He looked about to ask Meliorn a question and then seemed to think better of it. Then, abruptly, he began to laugh.
“Oh, by the Angel,” Alec said mournfully. “Another place we can never go to again. You’d think, in a city as big as New York …”
Kaye noticed that the boozy Magnus the Magnicent was watching Alec with a gleam in his catlike eyes. It really was too bad Alec seemed too sunk in gloom to notice.
“We should have hung a sign on that guy,” Corny said. “Imagine the advertising.” And right then, Kaye realized two things. One was that Shadowhunters might be good at killing things, but their dating lives were a mess. And the other was that she was going to love owning a coffee shop.
Jace glanced over at Alec and Isabelle. Killing a demon in front of a mundane, unless there was an immediate threat, was something of a no-no. Mundanes weren’t supposed to know about demons. For one of the first times in his life, Jace found himself at a loss. They couldn’t leave the girl with the Eidolon; it would kill her. If they left the Eidolon alone, it would escape, and kill someone else. If they stayed and killed it, they’d be exposed.
“Knock her out,” Alec muttered, under his breath. “Just … whack her on the head with something.”
“Just go,” Jace said to the girl. “Get out of here, if you know what’s good for you.”
But she only planted her feet harder. He could see the look in her eyes, like exclamation points: No! No!
“I’m not going anywhere,” she said. “If I do, you’ll kill him.”
Jace had to admit that was true. “What do you care?” He pointed at the demon with his knife. “That’s not a person, little girl. It may look like a person and talk like a person and bleed like a person. But it’s a monster.”
“Jace!” Isabelle’s eyes flashed. They were depthless, black, angry. Isabelle never got angrier than when Jace risked getting himself in trouble or danger. And he was risking both, now. Breaking the Law — talking about Shadowhunter business with mundanes — and what was worse, he was liking it. Something about this girl, her stormcloud of red hair and her snapping green eyes, made him feel as if his veins were filled with gunpowder and she was a match.
As if, if she touched him, he’d burn up. But then, he loved explosions.