“It’s done,” Diana said, tossing her duffel bag onto the kitchen island with a clanking sound. Emma looked up. She’d been over by the window with Cristina, testing the bandages on her hands.
Julian’s healing runes had taken care of most of her injuries, but there were some ichor burns that were still sore.
Livvy, Dru, and Tavvy were crowded around the kitchen table, fighting over who got the chocolate milk. Ty had his headphones on and was reading, calm in his own world. Julian was at the stove, making bacon and toast and eggs—with burned bits in them, the way Dru liked.
Diana went over to the sink and rinsed off her hands. She was in jeans and a T-shirt, dirt on her clothes and streaking her face. Her hair was pulled back in a tightly knotted bun.
“You set it up?” Emma asked. “The monitor on the convergence?”
Diana nodded, reaching for a dish towel to dry her hands. “Julian texted me about it. Did you think I was about to let you get out of the Clave testing?”
There were groans.
“Thought, no,” said Emma. “Hoped, maybe.”
“Anyway, I did it myself,” Diana said. “If anyone goes in and out of that cave, we’ll get a call on the Institute’s phone.”
“And if we’re not home?” Julian asked.
“Texts,” Diana said, turning around so that her back was to the sink. “Texts go to Julian, Emma, and myself.”
“Why not Arthur?” Cristina said. “Does he not have a cell phone?”
He didn’t, as far as Emma knew, but Diana didn’t answer that. “Now here’s the other thing,” she said. “Mantid demons guard the convergence during the night, but as you know, demons are inactive outside during the day. They can’t stand sunlight.”
“I wondered,” said Emma. “It didn’t make sense that whoever’s doing this would leave the convergence unguarded for half the day.”
“You were right to wonder,” Diana said. Her voice was neutral; Emma searched her face in vain for a clue to whether she was still angry. “During the day the door to the cave seals itself closed. I watched the entrance disappear when the sun rose. It didn’t interfere with setting up the monitoring runes and wards— I did that outside the cave—but no one’s going into that convergence while the sun’s up.”
“All the murders, the body dumping, all of them have happened at night,” Livvy said. “Maybe there’s a demon behind this after all?”
Diana sighed. “We just don’t know. By the Angel, I need coffee.”
Cristina hurried to get her a mug, while Diana brushed at the dirt on her clothes, frowning. “Did Malcolm help set it up?” Julian asked.
Diana took the coffee gratefully from Cristina and smiled. “All you need to know is that it’s taken care of,” she said. “Now, you’ve got testing today, so I’ll see you in the classroom after breakfast.”
She left, taking her bag and her coffee with her. Dru looked glum. “I can’t believe we have class,” she said. She was wearing jeans and a T-shirt that had a picture of a screaming face and the words DR.
TERROR’S HOUSE OF HORRORS across the front.
“We’re in the middle of an investigation,” Livvy said. “We shouldn’t have to take tests.”
“It’s an affront,” said Ty. “I am affronted.” He had pushed his headphones down, but his hand was under the table. She could hear him clicking a retractable pen—it was something he had done often before Julian had built him better focus tools, but it was still something he did when anxious.
Against a background of grumbling from everyone, Emma’s phone trilled. She glanced down and saw the screen flash. CAMERON ASHDOWN.
Julian looked over for a moment, then went briskly back to stirring the eggs. He was in a combination of gear, apron, and torn T-shirt that at another time would have had Emma teasing him. Now she just edged toward the window and picked up the call.
“Cam?” Emma said. “Is something going on?”
Livvy looked over and rolled her eyes, then got up to start ferrying plates back and forth between the stove and the table. The rest of the kids were still arguing, though Tavvy had wound up with the chocolate milk.
“I didn’t call to ask you to get back together, if that’s what you’re thinking,” Cameron said. She pictured him as his voice came down the phone: frowning, his red hair messy and askew as it always was in the morning.
“Wow,” said Emma. “Good morning to you, too.”
“Milk thief,” Dru said to Tavvy, and put a piece of toast on his head. Emma stifled a smile. “I was at the Shadow Market,” said Cam. “Yesterday.”
“Gasp! Shame on you.”
“I heard some gossip around Johnny Rook’s table,” he said. “It was about you. He said he’d argued with you a few days ago.” His voice lowered. “You shouldn’t be seeing him outside the Market, Em.” Emma leaned back against the wall. Cristina gave her a pointed look, then sat down with the others;
soon everyone was buttering toast and forking up eggs. “I know, I know. Johnny Rook is a criminal who does crime. I got the lecture already.”
Cam sounded put out. “Someone else said you were poking your nose into something that wasn’t any of your business. And that if you kept doing it, they’d hurt you. Not the guy who said it—I shook him down a little, and he said he meant someone else. That he’d heard things. What are you poking around in, Emma?” Julian was still at the stove; Emma could tell by the set of his shoulders that he was listening. “It could
be so many things.”
Cameron sighed. “Fine, be flip about it. I was worried about you. Be careful.” “Always am,” she said, and hung up.
Silently, Julian handed her a plate of eggs. Emma accepted it, conscious that everyone was looking at her. She put the eggs down on the kitchen island and perched herself on one of the stools, poking at her breakfast with a spoon.
“Okay,” Livvy said. “If no one else asks, I will. What was that about?”
Emma looked up, about to give an annoyed answer, when the words died in her throat.
Mark was standing in the doorway. The tension of last night’s altercation in the library seemed to reappear, dropping a heavy silence over the kitchen. The Blackthorns looked at their brother, wide-eyed;
Cristina stared down at her coffee.
Mark looked—normal. He wore a clean blue henley shirt and dark jeans that actually fit, along with a weapons belt around his waist, though there were no weapons in it. Still, it was unmistakably a Shadowhunter belt, runes of angelic power and precision punched into the leather. There were gauntlets on his wrists.
They all stared at him, Julian with his spatula in midair. Mark put his shoulders back and for a moment Emma thought he was going to sweep another bow, the way he had last night. Instead he spoke.
“I apologize for yesterday evening,” he said. “I should not have blamed you, my family. The politics of the Clave are complex and often dark, and not your fault. I would like to, with your permission, start over and introduce myself to you.”
“But we know who you are,” Ty said. Livvy leaned over and whispered in his ear, her hand brushing his shoulder. Ty looked back at Mark, clearly still puzzled, but also expectant.
Mark took a step forward. “I am Mark Antony Blackthorn,” he said. “I come from a long line of proud Shadowhunters. I have served with the Wild Hunt for years I cannot count. I have ridden through the air on a white horse made of smoke, and gathered up the bodies of the dead, and brought them to Faerie, where their bones and skin have fed the savage land. I have never felt guilty, but perhaps I should.” He let his hands, which had been clasped behind his back, fall to his sides. “I don’t know where I belong,” he said. “But if you let me, I will try to belong here.”
There was a moment of silence. The kids at the table stared; Emma sat with her spoon poised, holding her breath. Mark looked toward Jules.
Julian reached up to rub the back of his neck. “Why don’t you sit down, Mark,” he said a little hoarsely. “I’ll make you some eggs.”
Mark was quiet all through breakfast, as Julian, Emma, and Cristina filled in the others on what they’d discovered the previous night. Emma kept the details of the Mantid attack minimal; she didn’t want to give Tavvy nightmares.
Stanley Wells’s wallet was passed over to Ty, who looked thrilled to be handling a clue. He promised a full investigation of the unfortunate Stanley after the testing. Since Mark had no need to participate in the testing, Julian asked him if he would look after Tavvy in the library.
“I will not feed him to a tree, as is done in the Unseelie Court with unruly children,” Mark promised. “That’s a relief,” Julian said dryly.
Mark bent down toward Tavvy, whose eyes were sparkling. “Come with me, little one,” Mark said. “There are books in the library, that I remember, that I loved as a child. I could show them to you.”
Tavvy nodded and placed his hand in Mark’s with total trust. Something went through Mark’s eyes then, a lightning flash of emotion. He went out of the room with Tavvy without another word.
Cameron’s warning stayed with Emma through the rest of the meal, as they cleaned up, and after they all filed to the classroom to find Diana there, holding a heavy stack of testing papers. She couldn’t get his words off her mind, and as a result scored dismally on languages and memorization of the classes of various demons and Downworlders. She mixed up Azazel and Asmodeus, Purgatic and Cthonian, and nixies and pixies. Diana glared at her as she marked the paper with Emma’s name on it with a fat red pen.
Everyone else scored high, and the few that Julian missed were ones Emma suspected he had gotten wrong on purpose to make her feel better.
Emma was grateful when they finished up the written and oral parts of the test. They took a break for lunch before moving down the hall to the training room. Diana had already set up the space. There were targets for knife throwing, swords of various sizes, and, in the middle of the room, a large training dummy. It had a wooden trunk, several arms that could be positioned and repositioned, and a stuffed cloth head like a scarecrow.
A circle of black-and-white powder surrounded the dummy—rock salt mixed with ash. “Attacking from a distance, with care and precision,” Diana said. “Disrupt the ash circle and you fail.” She moved toward the black box on the floor and flipped a switch. It was a radio. Noise exploded into the room, harsh and discordant. It sounded as if someone had recorded a mob in action, shouting and yelling and smashing windows.
Livvy looked horrified. Ty winced and reached for his headphones, dropping them over his ears. “Distraction,” said Diana loudly. “You have to work past it—”
Before she could finish, there was a knock at the door: It was Mark, looking diffident. “Tavvy is busy with his books,” he said to Diana, who had reached to turn the noise down slightly, “and you had asked if I could join this part of the testing. I thought it best to oblige.”
“But Mark doesn’t need to be tested,” objected Julian. “It’s not as if his scores can be reported to the Clave.”
“Cristina doesn’t need her scores reported either,” Diana said. “But she’s joining in. I want to see how you all do. If you’re going to work together, it would be best if you all knew each other’s skill levels.”
“I can fight,” Mark said. He didn’t add anything about the night before, the fact that he’d held off Mantid demons on his own, without new runes. “The Wild Hunt are warriors.”
“Yes, but they fight differently than Shadowhunters,” Diana said, gesturing around the training room, at the runed blades, the adamas swords. “These are the weapons of your people.” She turned back to the others. “Each of you must choose one.”
Mark’s expression flattened at that, but he said nothing. Nor did he move as the rest of them scattered— Emma went for Cortana, Cristina for her butterfly knives, Livvy for her saber, and Dru for a long, thin misericord. Julian chose a pair of chakhrams, circular razored throwing stars.
Ty hung back. Emma couldn’t help but wonder if Diana noticed that it was Livvy who picked up a dagger for Ty and pressed it into his palm. Emma had seen Ty throw knives before: He was good at it, sometimes excellent, but only when he felt like it. When he didn’t, there was no moving him.
“Julian,” Diana said, turning the music back up. “You first.”
Julian stepped back and threw, the chakhrams spinning from his hands like circles of light. One sheared off the training dummy’s right arm, the other its left, before they buried themselves in the wall.
“Your target isn’t dead,” Diana pointed out. “Just armless.”
“Exactly,” said Julian. “So I can question him. Or it, you know, if it’s a demon.”
“Very strategic.” Diana tried to hide a smile as she made a note in her book. She picked up the dummy’s arms and fastened them back on. “Livvy?”
Livvy dispatched the dummy with a swing of her saber without passing the ash barrier. Dru acquitted herself decently with a thrown misericord, and Cristina flipped open her balisongs and hurled them so that one point of each blade stuck into the dummy’s head exactly where its eyes would have been.
“Gross,” said Livvy admiringly. “I like it.”
Cristina retrieved her knives and winked at Emma, who had climbed partway up the rope ladder, Cortana in her free hand.
“Emma?” Diana said, craning her head up. “What are you doing?”
Emma flung herself from the ladder. It wasn’t the cold fury of battle, but there was a moment of falling freedom that was pure pleasure, that drove the annoyance of Cameron’s warning out of her mind. She landed on the dummy, feet planted on its shoulders, and slashed down, driving Cortana’s hilt deep into its trunk. Then she flipped herself backward, over and down, landing on her feet inches outside the circle of ash.
“That was showing off,” Diana said, but she was smiling as she made another note. She glanced up. “Tiberius? It’s your turn.”
Ty took a step toward the circle. The white band of his headphones was stark against his black hair. He
was as tall as the dummy, Emma realized with a jolt. She often thought of Ty as the child he had been. But he wasn’t—he was fifteen years old, older than she’d been when she and Julian had undergone the parabatai ceremony. His face wasn’t a little boy’s face anymore. Sharpness had replaced the softness.
Ty lifted his knife.
“Tiberius,” said a voice from the doorway. “Take the headphones off.”
It was Uncle Arthur. They all looked up in surprise: Arthur rarely ventured downstairs, and when he did, he avoided conversation, meals—all contact. It was strange to see him hovering in the doorway like a gray ghost: gray robe, gray stubble, worn gray pants.
“The pollution of mundane technology is everywhere,” said Arthur. “In those phones you carry. Cars— at the London Institute we didn’t own them. That computer you think I don’t know about.”An odd anger flashed across his face. “You’re not going to be able to go into battle wearing headphones.”
He said the word as if it were poisonous. Diana closed her eyes.
“Ty,” she said. “Take them off.”
Ty slid the headphones down so that they hung around the back of his neck. He winced as the chatter of noise and voices from the radio struck his ears. “I won’t be able to do it, then.”
“Then you’ll fail,” said Arthur. “This has to be fair.”
“If you don’t let him use them, it won’t be fair,” said Emma.
“This is the test. Everyone has to do it,” Diana said. “Battle doesn’t always happen under optimum conditions. There’s noise, blood, distractions—”
“I won’t be in battle,” Ty said. “I don’t want to be that kind of Shadowhunter.” “Tiberius,” Arthur said sharply. “Do as you’re asked.”
Ty’s face set. He lifted the knife and threw it, with deliberate awkwardness but great force. It slammed into the black plastic radio, which shattered into a hundred pieces.
There was silence.
Ty looked down at his right hand; it was bleeding. A piece of the shattered radio had gone wide and nicked his skin. Scowling, he went to stand by one of the pillars. Livvy watched him with miserable eyes; Julian made as if to start after him, when Emma caught him by the wrist.
“Don’t,” she said. “Give him a minute.”
“My turn,” said Mark. Diana turned toward him in surprise. He was already stalking toward the training dummy. He strode directly up to it, his boots scuffing the ash and salt on the ground.
“Mark,” Diana said, “you’re not supposed to—”
He caught hold of the dummy and yanked it toward himself, ripping the stuffed head from its body. Straw rained down around him. He tossed the head aside, seized hold of the attached arms, and bent them back until they snapped. He took a step back, planted his foot in the middle of the thing’s trunk, and shoved. It went over with a crash.
It would almost have been funny, Emma thought, if not for the look on his face.
“These are the weapons of my people,” he said, holding out his hands. A cut on the right one had opened and was bleeding.
“You weren’t supposed to touch the circle,” said Diana. “Those are the rules, and I don’t make them. The Clave—”
“Lex malla, lex nulla,” Mark said coldly, and walked away from the dummy. Emma heard Arthur draw in his breath at the words of the Blackthorn family motto. He turned without a word and stalked out of the room.
Julian’s eyes tracked his brother as Mark went toward Ty and leaned against the pillar beside him. Ty, who had been holding his right hand with his left, his jaw set, looked up in surprise. “Mark?” Mark touched his younger brother’s hand, gently, and Ty did not pull away. They both had the
Blackthorn fingers, long and delicate, with sharp, articulated bones.
Slowly, the angry look faded from Ty’s face. Instead he looked sideways up at his brother, as if the answer to a question Emma couldn’t guess at could be read in Mark’s face.
She remembered what Ty had said about his brother in the library.
It’s not his fault if he doesn’t understand everything. Or if things are too much for him. It’s not his fault.
“Now we both have hurt hands,” Mark said.
“Julian,” Diana said. “We need to talk about Ty.”
Julian stood motionless in front of her desk. He could see past Diana, past the huge glass windows behind her, down to the highway and the beach below, and the ocean beyond that.
He held a very clear memory in his mind, though he no longer remembered how old he had been when it happened. He had been on the beach, sketching the sun going down and the surfers out in the water. A loose sketch, more about the joy of movement than about getting the picture right. Ty had been there too, playing: He had been building a row of small, perfect squares of damp sand, each exactly the same size and shape.
Julian had looked at his own inexact, messy work and Ty’s methodical rows, and thought: We both see the same world, but in a different way. Ty feels the same joy I do, the joy of creation. We feel all the same things, only the shapes of our feelings are different.
“This was Arthur’s fault,” said Julian. “I—I don’t know why he did that.” He knew he sounded troubled. He couldn’t help it. Usually on Arthur’s bad days, his hate and anger were turned inward, toward himself. He wouldn’t have thought his uncle even knew of Ty’s headphones: He didn’t think Arthur paid attention to any of them enough to notice such things, and to Ty least of all. “I don’t know why he treated Ty that way.”
“We can be cruelest to those who remind us of ourselves.”
“Ty is not like Arthur.” Julian’s voice sharpened. “And he shouldn’t have to pay for what Arthur does. You should let him do the test again, with the headphones.”
“Not necessary,” Diana said. “I know what Ty can do; I’ll amend his test scores to reflect that. You don’t have to worry about the Clave.”
Julian looked at her, puzzled. “If this isn’t about Ty’s scores, why did you want to see me?”
“You heard what Ty said in there,” Diana said. “He doesn’t want to be that kind of Shadowhunter. He wants to go to the Scholomance. It’s why he refuses to be parabatai with Livvy. And you know he’d do almost anything for her.”
Ty and Livvy were in the computer room now, searching for whatever they could find on Stanley Wells. Ty seemed to have put his anger at the testing aside, had even smiled after Mark had come to talk to him.
Julian wondered if it was wrong to feel irrationally jealous that Mark, who had reappeared in their life only yesterday, was able to talk to his younger brother when he was not. Julian loved Ty more than he loved his own life, and yet he hadn’t thought of anything as elegantly simple to say to his brother as now we both have hurt hands.
“He can’t go,” Julian said. “He’s only fifteen. The other students are eighteen at least. It’s meant for Academy graduates.”
“He’s as smart as any Academy graduate,” Diana said. “He knows as much.”
She leaned forward, elbows on her glass desk. Behind her the ocean stretched to the horizon. It was creeping toward late afternoon, and the water was a dark silver-blue. Julian thought about what would happen if he brought his hand down hard on the desk; did he have the strength to shatter the glass?
“It’s not about what he knows,” Julian said, and stopped himself. He was getting dangerously close to exactly what they never talked about: the way in which Ty was different.
Julian often thought the Clave was a black shadow over his life. They had stolen his older brother and sister from him just as much as the Fair Folk had. Down through the centuries, the exact way Shadowhunters could and should behave had been strictly regimented. Tell a mundane about the Shadow World and be disciplined, even exiled. Fall in love with a mundane, or your parabatai, and have your Marks ripped off—an agonizing process not everyone survived.
Julian’s art, his father’s interest in the classics: all had been regarded with deep suspicion. Shadowhunters weren’t meant to have outside interests. Shadowhunters weren’t artists. They were warriors, born and bred, like Spartans. And individuality was not something they valued.
Ty’s thoughts, his beautiful, curious mind, were not like everyone else’s. Julian had heard stories— whispers, really—of other Shadowhunter children who thought or felt differently. Who had trouble focusing. Who claimed letters rearranged themselves on the page when they tried to read them. Who fell prey to dark sadnesses that seemed to have no reason, or fits of energy they couldn’t control.
Whispers were all there were, though, because the Clave hated to admit that Nephilim like that existed. They were disappeared into the “dregs” portion of the Academy, trained to stay out of the way of other Shadowhunters. Sent to far corners of the globe like shameful secrets to be hidden. There were no words to describe Shadowhunters whose minds were shaped differently, no real words to describe differences at all.
Because if there were words, Julian thought, there would have to be acknowledgment. And there were things the Clave refused to acknowledge.
“They’ll make him feel like there’s something wrong with him,” Julian said. “There’s nothing wrong with him.”
“I know that.” Diana sounded sorrowful. Tired. Julian wondered where she had gone the day before, when they’d been at Malcolm’s. Who had helped her ward the convergence.
“They’ll try to force him into their mold of what a Shadowhunter ought to be like. He doesn’t know what they’ll do—”
“Because you haven’t told him,” Diana said. “If he has a rosy picture in his mind of what the Scholomance is like, it’s because you’ve never corrected him. Yeah, it’s harsh there. It’s brutal. Tell him so.”
“You want me to tell him he’s different,” Julian said coldly. “He’s not stupid, Diana. He knows that.” “No,” said Diana, standing up. “I want you to tell him how the Clave feels about people who are
different. Shadowhunters who are different. Because how can he make up his mind if he doesn’t have all the information?”
“He’s my little brother,” Julian snapped. The day outside was hazy; parts of the windows seemed mirrored, and he could see bits of himself—an edge of cheekbone, a set jaw, tangled hair. The look in his own eyes frightened him. “He’s three years from graduation—”
Diana’s brown eyes were fierce. “I know you’ve basically brought him up since he was ten, Julian. I know you feel like all of them are your children. And they are yours, but Livvy and Ty at least aren’t children anymore. You’re going to have to let go—”
“You’re telling me to be more forthcoming?” Julian demanded. “Really?”
Her jaw tightened. “You’re walking the edge of a razor blade, Julian, with everything you hide. Believe me. I’ve walked that razor blade half my life. You get used to it, so used to it sometimes you forget that you’re bleeding.”
“I don’t suppose you want to be any more specific about that?” “You have your secrets. I have mine.”
“I can’t believe this.” Julian wanted to yell, punch a wall. “Keeping secrets is all you ever do. Remember when I asked you if you wanted to run the Institute? Remember when you said no and told me not to ask why?”
Diana sighed and ran one finger along the back of her chair. “Being angry at me won’t help anything, Jules.”
“You might be right,” he said. “But that’s the one thing you could have done that would probably really have helped me. And you didn’t. So forgive me if I feel like I’m in this totally alone. I love Ty, God, believe me, I want him to have what he wants. But say I told Ty how harsh the Scholomance was, and he wanted to go anyway. Could you promise me that he’d be fine there? Could you swear he and Livvy would be all right separated when they’ve never spent a day apart in their whole lives? Can you guarantee it?”
She shook her head. She looked defeated, and Julian felt no sense of triumph. “I could tell you there are no guarantees in life, Julian Blackthorn, but I can already see you don’t want to hear anything I say about Ty,” she said. “So I’ll tell you something else instead. You may be the most determined person I’ve ever known. For five years, you have kept everything and everyone in this house together in a way I wouldn’t have thought was possible.” She looked directly at him. “But this situation can’t hold. It’s like a fault line in the earth. It will break apart under pressure, and then what? What will you lose—what will we lose— when that happens?”
“What is this?” Mark asked, picking up Tavvy’s stuffed lemur, Mr. Limpet, and holding it gingerly by one foot. Mark was sitting on the floor of the computer room with Emma, Tavvy, and Dru. Dru had a book called Danse Macabre in one hand and was ignoring them. Tavvy was trying to get Mark, wet-haired and barefoot, to play with him.
Cristina hadn’t yet returned from changing out of training clothes. Ty and Livvy, meanwhile, were manning the desk—Ty was typing, and Livvy was sitting on the desk beside the keyboard, issuing orders and suggestions. Stanley Wells had turned out to have an unlisted address, and Emma strongly suspected that whatever they were doing to try to track it down was probably illegal.
“Here,” Emma said, reaching out to Mark. “Give me Mr. Limpet.” She was feeling anxious and unsettled. Diana had wrapped up the testing shortly after Arthur had left, and had called Julian to her office. The way he’d thrown his testing gear into a corner of the training room before following her had made Emma think it wasn’t an interview he was looking forward to.
Cristina came into the room, running her fingers through her long, wet black hair. Mark, holding out Mr. Limpet to Emma, looked up—and there was a tearing sound. The lemur’s leg came away and its body thumped to the ground, scattering stuffing.
Mark said something in an unrecognizable language. “You killed Mr. Limpet,” said Tavvy.
“I think he died of old age, Tavs,” said Emma, picking up the stuffed lemur’s body. “You’ve had him since you were born.”
“Or gangrene,” Drusilla said, looking up from her book. “It could have been gangrene.” “Oh no!” Cristina’s eyes were wide. “Wait here—I’ll be right back.”
“Don’t—” Mark began, but Cristina had already hurried from the room. “I am a clodpole,” he said mournfully. He reached to ruffle Tavvy’s hair. “I am sorry, little one.”
“Did you get an address for Wells?” It was Julian, striding into the room. Livvy held up her arms in triumph. “Yep. It’s in the Hollywood Hills.”
“No surprise there,” Emma said. Rich people often lived in the Hills. She was fond of the area herself, despite the expensiveness of the neighborhood. She liked the twisty roads, the massive sprays of flowers climbing over walls and down the sides of houses, and the views out over the electric, lit-up city. At night the air that blew through the Hills smelled like white flowers: oleander and honey-suckle, and a dry promise of the desert, miles away.
“There are sixteen people named Stanley Wells in the greater Los Angeles area,” said Ty, swinging his
chair around. “We narrowed the possibilities down.”
“Good work,” Julian said as Tavvy sprang up and came over to him.
“Mr. Limpet died,” Tavvy said, tugging on Julian’s jeans. Jules reached down and lifted him up in his arms.
“Sorry, kiddo,” Julian said, putting his chin down on Tavvy’s curls. “We’ll get you something else.” “I am a murderer,” said Mark gloomily.
“Don’t be dramatic,” Emma whispered, kicking his bare ankle. Mark looked cross. “Faeries are dramatic. It’s what we do.” “I loved Mr. Limpet,” said Tavvy. “He was a good lemur.”
“There are lots of other good animals.” Tiberius spoke earnestly; animals were one of his favorite subjects, along with detectives and crime. Tavvy smiled at him, his face full of trust and love. “Foxes are smarter than dogs. You can hear lions roar from forty kilometers away. Penguins—”
“And bears,” Cristina said, reappearing breathlessly in the doorway. She handed Tavvy a stuffed gray bear. He looked at it dubiously. “That was mine when I was a little girl,” she explained.
“What’s its name?” Tavvy inquired.
“Oso,” said Cristina, and shrugged. “It means ‘bear’ in Spanish. I was not very creative.” “Oso.” Tavvy took the bear and smiled a gap-toothed smile. Julian looked at Cristina as if she’d
brought him water in the desert. Emma thought of what Livvy had said about Jules and Cristina in the training room, and felt a small, inexplicable sting at her heart.
Livvy was chattering away to Jules, swinging her legs cheerfully. “So we should all go,” she said. “Ty and I can go in the car with Emma and Mark, and you can go with Cristina, and Diana can stay here—”
Julian set his little brother down. “Nice try,” he said. “But this is really a two-person job. Emma and I will be in and out fast, see if there’s anything unusual about the house, that’s it.”
“We never get to do anything fun,” protested Livvy.
“I should be allowed to examine the house,” Ty said. “You’ll miss everything important. All the clues.” “Thanks for the vote of confidence,” Julian said dryly. “Look, Livs, Ty-Ty, we really need you here to
go over the photos from the convergence cave. See if you can identify the languages, translate them—” “More translating,” Livvy said. “Sounds thrilling.”
“It will be fun,” Cristina said. “We can make hot chocolate and work in the library.” She smiled, and Julian shot her a second grateful look.
“It’s not busywork,” Julian promised. “It’s because you guys can genuinely do things we can’t.” He nodded toward the computer. Livvy flushed, and Ty looked pleased.
Mark, however, didn’t. “I should go with you,” he said to Jules. “The Courts wished me to be part of the investigation. To accompany you.”
Julian shook his head. “Not tonight. We need to figure out what to do about not being able to use runes on you.”
“I don’t need them—” Mark began.
“You do.” There was steel in Julian’s voice. “You need glamour runes, if you want to blend in. And you’re still injured from last night. Even if you do heal quickly, I saw you reopened your wound in the training room—you were bleeding—”
“My blood is not your concern,” Mark said.
“It is,” said Julian. “That’s what it means to be family.”
“Family,” Mark began bitterly, and then seemed to realize that his younger siblings were there and were looking at him, silent and still. Cristina, too, was quiet, gazing at Emma across the room, her gaze dark and worried.
Mark seemed to swallow back whatever he had been about to say. “If I had wanted to take orders, I would have stayed with the Hunt,” he said instead, in a low voice, and walked out the door.