The last time Kit Rook ever saw his father, it was an ordinary day and they were sitting in their living room. Kit was sprawled on the floor reading a book on cons and scams. According to Johnny Rook, it was time to “learn the classics”—which for most people would have meant Hemingway and Shakespeare, but for Kit meant memorizing things like the Spanish Prisoner and the Melon Drop.
Johnny was in his favorite chair, in his usual thinking pose—fingers templed under his chin, legs crossed. It was times like this, when the sun slanted through the window and lit up the fine, sharp bones of his father’s face, that Kit wondered about all the things he didn’t know: who his mother had been, if it was true, as was whispered in the Market, that Johnny’s family was English aristocracy who’d tossed him out when he manifested his Sight. It wasn’t that Kit yearned to be aristocracy so much as he wondered what it would be like to be in a family that had more than two people in it.
The ground suddenly seized up under him. Kit’s book went flying and he slid several feet across the floor before slamming into the coffee table. He sat up, heart speeding, and saw his father already at the window.
Kit got to his feet. “Earthquake?” he said. When you lived in Southern California you got used to small shiftings of the fault lines in the earth, waking up in the night with the glasses rattling in the kitchen cupboards.
Johnny turned away from the window, his face deathly pale. “Something’s happened to the Guardian,” Johnny said. “The protection spells on the house have faded.”
“What?” Kit was bewildered. Their house had been warded for as long as he could remember. His father had always spoken of the wards as if they were the roof or the foundation: essential, necessary, built into the fabric of their home.
He remembered, then, last year, his father saying something about demon protection spells, more powerful ones—
Johnny swore, a fluent string of curses, and whirled toward the bookcase. He seized a worn spell book. “Get downstairs, Kit,” he said, moving to kick aside the rug in the middle of the room, revealing the protection circle there.
“I said get downstairs!” Johnny took a step toward his son, as if he meant to reach out to him, to touch his shoulder perhaps. Then he dropped his arm. “Stay in the cellar and don’t come out, no matter what happens,” he barked, and turned back to the circle.
Kit began to back toward the stairs. He stumbled down one step, and then another, before pausing.
Johnny’s phone was on a low shelf of the bookcase, reachable from the steps. Kit grabbed it up, looking for the name, her name. But if you change your mind, you have my number in your phone. Under Carstairs.
He barely had time to type out a message when the floor of the living room exploded upward. Things spilled up from the space below. They looked like massive praying mantises, their bodies the bitter green of poison. They had small triangular heads with wide mouths filled with jagged teeth, long bodies that gleamed with slime, and jagged, razored forelegs.
Kit’s father stood frozen in the middle of his circle. A demon flung itself toward him, and bounced off the spell that surrounded him. Another followed, equally unsuccessful. The demons set up a loud chittering.
Kit couldn’t move. He knew about demons, of course. He’d seen pictures, even smelled the scent of demonic magic. But this was different. He caught his father’s eye: Johnny was glaring at him in a mixture of panic and fury. Get downstairs.
Kit tried to make his feet move, to carry him. They wouldn’t. Panic made him freeze.
The largest demon seemed to catch the scent of him and buzzed in excitement. It began to scuttle toward him.
Kit looked at his father. But Johnny didn’t move. He stayed in his circle, his eyes bulging. The demon lunged for Kit, razored forelegs extended.
And Kit jumped. He had no idea how he did it, or how his body knew what to do. He pushed off from the stairs and hurtled over the banister, landing in a crouch in the living room. The demon, which had been reaching for him, gave a loud screech as it lost its balance and toppled downstairs, smashing into the wall of the landing.
Kit whirled back around. For a moment he caught his father’s eye. There was something in Johnny’s expression that was almost sorrowful—a look Kit had never seen before—and then another chunk of the floor collapsed, taking a section of the protection circle with it.
Kit flung himself backward. He flipped into the air and came down balanced on the arms of a chair, just in time to see two of the demons seize his father and rip him in half.
Emma was in the middle of a very confusing dream about Magnus Bane and a troupe of clowns when she was awoken by a hand on her shoulder. She muttered and dug herself deeper into the bedclothes, but the hand was insistent. It stroked down her arm, which was actually very pleasant. A warm mouth brushed the edge of her lips.
“Emma?” Julian said.
Vague memories of him carrying her down the hall to her bedroom and then collapsing beside her drifted through the tired fog in her brain. Hmm, she thought. There really seemed to be no reason to get up at all, not when Julian was being affectionate. She feigned sleep as he kissed her cheek, and then along her jaw, and then—
She sat bolt upright, sputtering. “You stuck your tongue in my ear!” “Yup.” He grinned. “It did get you moving, didn’t it?”
“Eugh!” She threw an I LOVE CALI pillow at him, which he nimbly ducked. He was wearing jeans and a gray T-shirt that made his eyes look lapis blue. He was clearly just awake and tousle-haired and so adorable that she could only keep herself from attacking him by putting her hands behind her back.
“Why are you putting your hands behind your back?” he asked.
“No reason.” She wrinkled up her nose. “That ear thing was weird. Don’t do it again.” “How about this?” he suggested, and leaned in to kiss the base of her throat.
Sensation spiraled out from the places his lips touched—her collarbone first, then her neck, then the side of her mouth.
She drew her hands out from behind her back and reached for him. His skin was sunshine-warm. Their faces were so close that she could see the small starbursts of color inside his eyes: pale gold,
paler blue. He wasn’t smiling. His expression was too intent for that. There was a wanting in his eyes that made her feel like she was breaking apart.
Their legs tangled in the blankets as they came together, mouths seeking. He still wasn’t an expert kisser, but she liked that. She liked being reminded that he hadn’t been with anyone but her. That she was his first. She liked that something as simple as a kiss was still a source of amazement for him. She used her tongue to trace the corners of his mouth, the seam of his lips, until he sank back on the bed, pulling her on top of him. His body shuddered, arching up toward hers, his hands sliding down to grip her hips.
“Emma?” There was a knock on the door. They jerked away from each other, Julian rolling off the bed, Emma sitting upright, her heart pounding. “Emma, it’s Dru. Have you seen Jules?”
“No,” Emma croaked. “I haven’t.” The door started to open.
“Don’t,” Emma called. “I’m—I’m getting dressed.”
“Whatever,” Dru said dismissively, but the door didn’t open further. Resolutely, Emma didn’t look toward Julian. Everything’s fine, she told herself. Calm, be calm. “Well, if you see him, can you tell him Tavvy and everyone need lunch? Livvy and Ty are making a mess in the kitchen, too.”
Her voice held the satisfied tone of a sibling tattling on another sibling. “Sure,” said Emma. “Did you check the studio? He might be there.” There was a rustle. “No, I didn’t. Good idea. See you later!”
“Bye,” Emma said, faintly. Dru’s footsteps were already receding down the hall.
Finally Emma let herself look at Julian. He was leaning against the wall, his chest rising and falling fast, his eyes half-lidded, teeth digging into his lip.
He exhaled. “Raziel,” he whispered. “That was close.”
Emma got to her feet, her nightgown swishing around her knees. She was shaking. “We can’t,” she started. “We can’t—we’ll get caught—”
Julian was already across the room, taking her in his arms. She could feel his heart slamming against his rib cage, but his voice was steady. “It’s a stupid Law,” he said. “It’s a bad Law, Em.”
There is a reason you can’t fall in love with your parabatai, Emma. And when you find out what it is, you will feel the cruelty of the Shadowhunters just as I have.
Malcolm’s voice, unwelcome and unavoidable, pushed its way into Emma’s brain. She’d done all she could to forget it, forget what he’d said. He’d been lying—he’d lied about everything else. This had to be a lie, too.
And yet. She’d put it off, but she knew she had to tell Julian. He had the right to know. “We have to talk,” she said.
She felt his heart skip. “Don’t say that. I know it’s not good.” He pulled her tighter against him. “Don’t get scared, Emma,” he whispered. “Don’t let us go because you’re frightened.”
“I am frightened. Not for me, for you. Everything you’ve done, all the hiding and pretending, to keep the kids together—the situation hasn’t changed, Julian. If I hurt any of you—
He kissed her, stemming the tide of words. Despite everything, she felt the kiss all through her body. “I used to read Law books,” he said, drawing away from her. “The parts about parabatai. I read them a million times. There’s never been a case of a pair of parabatai who fell in love and got caught and were forgiven. Only horror stories. And I can’t lose my family. You were right. It would kill me. But the horror stories are about the ones who got caught.” He breathed in deep, holding her gaze. “If we’re careful, we won’t be.”
She wondered if Julian had pushed himself past some point the night before, a point where the responsibilities that bowed him under seemed insurmountable. It was absolutely unlike Julian to want to
break the rules, and though she wanted what he wanted, it unnerved her nonetheless.
“We’d have to set rules,” he said. “Strict ones. When we could see each other. We’d have to be careful. Much more careful than we have been. No more beach, no more studio. We have to be absolutely sure, every time, that we were somewhere we wouldn’t be walked in on.”
She nodded. “In fact, no talking about it either,” she said. “Not in the Institute. Not where someone might hear us.”
Julian nodded. His pupils were slightly dilated, his eyes the color of an oncoming storm over the ocean.
“You’re right,” he said. “We can’t talk here. I’ll throw some lunch together for the kids, so they don’t keep looking for me. Then meet me down on the beach, okay? You know where.”
Where I pulled you out of the water. Where this all started.
“Okay,” she said, after a slight hesitation. “You go first and I’ll meet you there. But I still have something I need to tell you.”
“The important thing is that we stay together, Emma. That’s what matters—”
She raised herself up on her tiptoes and kissed him. A long, slow, intoxicating kiss that made him groan low in his throat.
When she drew away, he was staring at her. “How do people handle these feelings?” He seemed honestly bewildered. “How are they not all over each other all the time if they’re, you know, in love?”
Emma swallowed against the sudden urge to cry. In love. He hadn’t said it before.
I love you, Julian Blackthorn, she thought, looking at him there in her room, as he had been a million times before and yet it was completely different now. How could anything be so safe and familiar and yet so terrifying and all-encompassing and new at the same time?
She could see the faint pencil scratch markings on the doorframe behind him where they had once recorded their heights each year. They’d stopped doing it when he’d gotten taller than her, and the highest of the marks, now, was far below Julian’s head.
“I’ll see you on the beach,” she whispered.
He hesitated for a moment, then nodded and walked out of the room. There was a strange feeling of foreboding in her chest as she watched him go—how would he react to what Malcolm had told her? Even if he dismissed it as lies, how could you plan a life of hiding and sneaking around as if it were a happy thing? She’d never really understood the point of engagement parties and the like before (though she was happy for Isabelle and Simon) but she got it now: When you were in love you wanted to tell people about it, and that was exactly what they couldn’t do.
At least she could reassure him, though, that she loved him. That she always would. That no one could take his place.
Her thoughts were interrupted by a loud buzzing. Her phone. She padded over to the bureau to pick it up, using her thumb to open the home screen.
A text message was displayed there, in bold red letters.
PLEASE COME NOW
Cristina uncurled herself slowly. Her back and legs ached; she’d fallen asleep in the chair beside her bed. She could, she supposed, have curled up on the floor, but it would have been more difficult to keep an eye on Diego that way.
The wound to his shoulder had been much worse than she’d thought: a deep cut surrounded by the red blister-burn of dark magic that made healing runes nearly ineffective. She’d cut his bloody gear off him
and the shirt under it as well, soaked through with sweat and blood.
She’d brought towels and padded the bed under him with them, wetted some of them down to sponge the blood from his face and neck. She’d given him painkilling rune after painkilling rune, healing rune after healing rune. Still, he’d tossed and turned much of the night, his storm-black hair tangled against the pillows.
Not since she’d left Mexico had she so clearly and painfully remembered what they had been to each other when they were younger. How much she had loved him. Her heart had felt torn to pieces when he cried out for his brother, pleading with him. Jaime, Jaime, ayúdame. Help me. And then he had cried out for her, and that was worse. Cristina, no me dejes. Regresa.
Cristina, don’t leave me. Come back.
I’m here, she’d told him. Estoy aquí, but he hadn’t woken up, and his fingers had clawed at the sheets until he’d fallen into an uneasy slumber.
She didn’t remember how long after that she’d fallen asleep herself. She’d been able to hear the sound of voices from downstairs, and then footsteps in the hall. Emma had ducked in to check on her and Diego, had hugged her and gone to sleep when Cristina had assured her that everything was all right.
But there was light streaming through the window now, and Diego was looking at her with eyes clear of pain and fever.
“¿Estás bien?” she whispered, her throat dry.
He sat up, and the sheet fell away from him. It was, Cristina thought, rather a sudden reminder that he wasn’t wearing a shirt. She focused on the fact that there was a mark on his chest where Malcolm’s magic had struck him. It was over his heart, like a marriage rune would be, and it was a more intense violet than a bruise. It was almost the color of Malcolm’s eyes.
“Yes, I am,” he said, sounding a little surprised. “I am all right. Were you with—” He looked down, and for a moment he was very much the little boy Cristina remembered, trailing in Jaime’s disastrous wake, weathering trouble and scoldings in quiet silence. “I dreamed you stayed with me.”
“I did stay with you.” She resisted the urge to lean forward and push his hair back. “And everything’s all right?” he asked. “I don’t remember much after we returned.” She nodded. “It worked out surprisingly well.”
“This is your room?” Diego said, glancing around. His gaze lit on something past her left ear and he smiled. “I remember that.”
Cristina turned to look. Perched on a shelf by the bed was an árbol de vida, a tree of life—a delicate pottery framework hung all over with ceramic flowers, moons, suns, lions, mermaids, and arrows. The angel Gabriel rested at the bottom, his back against the tree, his shield across his knee. It was one of the few reminders of home she’d brought with her when she left.
“You made it,” she said. “For my birthday. I was thirteen.”
He leaned forward, hands on his knees. “Do you miss home, Cristina?” he asked. “Even a little bit?” “Of course I miss it,” she said. The line of his back was smooth, unbroken. She remembered digging
her nails into his shoulder blades when they kissed. “I miss my family. I miss even the traffic in the D.F.— not that it’s much better here. I miss the food, you wouldn’t believe what they call Mexican food here. I miss eating jicaletas in the park with you.” She remembered lime and chile powder on her hands, a little bit sour and a little bit hot.
“I miss you,” he said. “Every day I miss you.”
“Diego . . .” She slid from the chair onto the bed and reached for his right hand. It was broad and warm in hers, and she felt the pressure of his family ring against her hand—both of them wore the ring of the Rosales family, but hers had the pattern of the Mendozas on the inside, and his the Rocios. “You saved my life,” she said. “I regret that I was so unforgiving. I should have known better. Should have known you better.”
“Cristina . . .” His free hand found her hair, her cheek. His fingertips brushed her skin lightly. He leaned toward her, giving her ample time to back away. She didn’t. When his mouth found hers, she tipped her head up for the kiss, her heart expanding with the strange feeling that she was moving toward both her future and her past at the same time.
Somewhere, Mark thought. It was somewhere in the house. Julian had told him that he’d boxed up everything in Mark’s room and put it into the eastern storage area. It was past time for him to reclaim his old belongings and make his room look like someone lived in it. Which meant he had to find the storage space.
Mark would have just asked Julian where it was, but he hadn’t been able to find him. Maybe he was hiding himself somewhere, scribbling away on Institute business. It seemed more than strange to Mark that things were going to go back to the way they had been, with Julian running the Institute and the Clave never knowing.
Surely there must be some way to help take the burden off his brother. Certainly now that he and Emma knew, it would be easier on Jules. The time had probably come to tell the younger ones too. Silently, Mark vowed he would stand by his brother through that. It was easier to live in truth than a lie, Kieran had always said.
Mark flinched at the thought of Kieran and yanked a door open. A music room. Clearly not one that anyone used much—there was a dusty piano, a series of stringed instruments hung on the wall, and a violin case. The violin case, at least, looked polished. Emma’s father had played the violin, Mark recalled. The faerie Courts’ obsession with those who could play music had kept Mark far away from any interest in melody.
He jumped and turned. Ty was behind him, barefoot in a black sweater and dark jeans. The dark colors made him look even thinner.
“Hello, Tiberius.” Mark liked the long version of his little brother’s name. It seemed to suit him and his solemn demeanor. “Were you looking for something?”
“I was looking for you,” said Ty in his direct way. “I tried last night, but I couldn’t find you, and then I fell asleep.”
“I was saying good-bye to Kieran,” said Mark.
“Good-bye?” Ty hunched his shoulders up. “Does that mean you’re staying here definitely?” Mark couldn’t help a smile. “I am. I’m staying here.”
Ty exhaled a long sigh; it sounded like half relief, half nervousness. “Good,” he said. “That’s good.” “I thought so.”
“It is,” Ty said, as if Mark was being a bit slow, “because you can take over from Julian.” “Take over?” Mark stared in puzzlement.
“Julian isn’t technically the oldest,” said Ty. “And even though they’d never put you in charge officially because you’re half-faerie, you could still do what Julian does. Look after us, tell us what to do. It doesn’t have to be him. It could be you.”
Mark braced himself against the doorway. Ty was wearing a completely open expression, and there was hope in the back of his pale gray eyes, and Mark felt a wash of panic that nearly made him sick. “Have you said anything about this to Julian?” he demanded. “Have you told him that you were planning on asking me this?”
Ty, not catching the half-furious note in Mark’s voice, drew his delicate dark brows together. “I think I mentioned it to him.”
“Ty,” Mark said. “You can’t just arrange other people’s lives like that. What would make you think that this was a good idea?”
Ty’s eyes darted around the room, resting everywhere but on Mark. “I didn’t mean to make you angry. I thought you had a good time that night, in the kitchen, when Julian left you in charge—”
“I had a good time. We all had a good time. I also set fire to the stove and covered your little brother in sugar. That’s not how things are supposed to be all the time. That’s not how—” Mark broke off, leaned back against the wall. He was shaking. “What on earth would make you think I was qualified to be Tavvy’s guardian? Or Dru’s? You and Livvy, you’re older, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need a parent. Julian’s your parent.”
“Julian’s my brother,” Ty said, but the words came out strained. “And so are you. You’re like me,” he added. “We’re like each other.”
“No,” Mark said sharply. “We’re not. I’m a mess, Ty. I barely know how to live in this world. You’re capable. I’m not. You’re a whole person—you were raised by someone who loved you, loved you more than his own life, and that’s not anything to be grateful for, that’s what parents do, but for years, I haven’t had that. By the Angel, I barely know how to take care of myself. I certainly can’t take care of the rest of you.”
Ty’s lips had gone white. He took a step back, then bolted out into the hallway, his running steps fading. God, Mark thought. What a disaster. What a total disaster. He was already starting to panic. What had he said to Ty? Had he made him feel like a burden? Had he wrecked things with his little brother, hurt Ty
in some unfixable way?
He was a coward, he thought, cringing from the responsibility that Julian had carried for so many years, panicked at the thought of what could happen to his family in his thoughtless, inexperienced hands.
He desperately needed to talk to someone. Not Julian; it would be another burden on him. And Emma couldn’t keep a secret from Julian. Livvy would murder him; the others were too young. . . .
Cristina. Cristina always gave him good advice; Cristina’s sweet smile calmed his heart. He hurried toward her room.
He should have knocked, of course. That was what normal people did. But Mark, who had lived in a world without doors for so many years, put his hand to Cristina’s and pushed it open without a thought.
Sunlight was streaming through her window. She was sitting up on her bed, propped against the pillows, and Diego, kneeling in front of her, was kissing her. He was holding her head in his hands as if it was something precious, and her black hair was spilling out between his fingers.
Neither of them noticed Mark as he froze in the doorway or as he pulled the door shut as silently as he could. He leaned against the wall, shame burning through him.
I’ve misunderstood everything, he thought, wrecked everything. His feelings for Cristina were muddled and strange, but seeing her kiss Diego hurt more than he would have thought. Some of the pain was jealousy. Some was the realization that he had been away from mortal people so long that he no longer understood them. Perhaps he never would.
I should have stayed with the Hunt. He slid to the floor, burying his face in his hands.
A cloud of dust and wood and plaster rose from the place where the Rooks’ floor had been destroyed. Now a fine spray of blood joined it. Kit slid from the chair he’d been standing on and stood stunned. His face was splattered with blood and he could smell it in the room, the hot iron stench of it.
My father’s blood.
The demons were gathered in a circle, tearing at something on the floor. The body of Kit’s father. The sound of ripping flesh filled the room. Sickened, Kit felt his stomach lurch—just as the demon who had tumbled down the stairs came screeching back up them.
Its eyes, milky bulbs in its spongy head, seemed fixed on Kit. It advanced on him, and he seized up the chair beside him and held it out like a shield. In the back of his mind he was conscious that it probably shouldn’t be possible for an untrained fifteen-year-old boy to swing around a heavy piece of oak furniture
like it was a toy.
But Kit didn’t care; he was half-insane with panic and horror. As the demon reared up in front of him, he swung the chair at it, knocking it backward. It surged up and lunged again. Kit feinted but this time a razored foreleg came down, slicing the chair in half. The demon sprang toward him with its teeth bared, and Kit held up the remains of the chair, which shattered in his hands. He was flung backward against the wall.
His head hit, hard, and dizziness flooded through him. He saw, through a haze, the praying mantis monster rearing up over him. Make it quick, he thought. For God’s sake let me die fast.
It descended toward him, mouth open, showing row upon row of teeth and a black gullet that seemed to fill his vision. He raised a hand to ward it off—it was closer, closer—and then it seemed to burst apart. Its head went one way, its body another. Green-black demon blood spattered onto him.
He stared upward and through the haze he saw two people standing over him. One was the blond Shadowhunter girl from the Institute, Emma Carstairs. She was brandishing a golden sword, stained with ichor. Beside her was another woman who looked a few years older. She was tall and slender, with long, curling brown hair. Vaguely, he knew he had seen her before—in the Shadow Market? He wasn’t sure.
“You deal with Kit,” said Emma. “I’ll take care of the other Mantids.”
Emma disappeared from the narrow field of Kit’s vision. He could see only the other woman. She had a sweet and gentle face, and she looked at him with surprising affection. “I’m Tessa Gray,” she said. “Get up, Christopher.”
Kit blinked. No one ever called him Christopher. No one but his father, when his father was angry. The thought of Johnny stabbed through him, and he stared over at the place where his father’s body lay crumpled.
To his surprise, there were two people there. A tall man with dark hair, wielding a sword-headed cane, had joined Emma, and the two of them were laying about themselves, slicing the demons to ribbons. Green ichor sprayed into the air like a geyser.
“My father,” Kit said, licking his dry lips and tasting blood. “He . . .”
“You must grieve later. Right now you are in great danger. More of those things may come, and worse things as well.”
He looked at her through the haze. His mouth tasted bitter. “Are you a Shadowhunter?”
“I am not,” Tessa Gray said with a surprising firmness. “But you are.” She reached her hand down toward him. “Come now,” she said. “On your feet, Christopher Herondale. We’ve been looking for you a long time.”
“Say something,” Emma said. “Please.”
But the boy in the passenger seat next to her didn’t speak. He was looking out the window toward the ocean; they had made it all the way to the coast highway without Kit saying a word.
“It’s all right,” Tessa said from the backseat of the car. Her voice was gentle, but then, her voice was always gentle. “You don’t need to speak, Christopher.”
“No one calls me that,” said Kit.
Emma jumped a little. Kit spoke in a monotone, staring out the window. She knew he was a little younger than she was, but more from his demeanor than anything else. He was quite tall, and his moves back at his house, fighting the Mantid demons, had been impressive.
He wore bloody jeans and a blood-soaked T-shirt that had probably once been blue. The ends of his pale blond hair were sticky with ichor and blood.
Emma had known there was trouble the moment she’d arrived at Johnny Rook’s. Though the house looked the same, though the door was closed and the windows shuttered and quiet, she’d felt a lack of the magical energy that had been apparent when they’d been there before. She’d glanced back down at the text
message on her phone and drawn Cortana.
The inside of the house looked as if a bomb had gone off. It was clear the Mantids had come from the ground under the house—demons often traveled beneath the earth to avoid daylight. They had burst up through the floorboards; ichor and blood and sawdust were everywhere.
And Mantids. They looked far more grotesque in Johnny Rook’s living room than they had on the cliff tops of the Santa Monica Mountains. More insectile, more monstrous. Their razored arms sheered through wood walls, slashed apart furniture and books.
Emma swung Cortana. She sliced one Mantid apart; it disappeared with a screech, leaving her view of the room unobstructed. Several of the other Mantids were splashed with red, human blood. They circled the remains of what had been Johnny Rook, in pieces on the floor.
Kit. Emma looked around wildly, saw the boy crouching by the stairs. He was unharmed. She started toward him—just as he seized up a chair and smashed it down over a Mantid demon’s head.
Only training kept Emma from stopping in her tracks. Human children didn’t do that. They didn’t know how to fend off demons. They didn’t have the instinct—
The door behind her blew open, and again only her training kept her from halting in surprise. She managed to sever the head of another Mantid demon, slicking Cortana’s blade with ichor, even as Jem Carstairs raced into the room, followed by Tessa.
They had plunged into the battle without a word to each other or to Emma, but Emma had exchanged a glance with Jem as they fought, and knew that he wasn’t surprised to see her. He looked older than he had in Idris—now closer to twenty-six, more a man than a boy, though Tessa looked just the same.
She had the same sweet expression Emma remembered, and the same kind voice. She had looked at Kit with love and sadness when she had gone over to him and held out her hand.
“But Kit is short for Christopher, is it not?” Tessa asked now, still gently. Kit said nothing. “Christopher Jonathan Herondale is your true name. And your father was Jonathan, too, right?”
There were a thousand Shadowhunters named Jonathan. Jonathan Shadowhunter had founded the whole race of Nephilim. It was Jace’s name as well.
Emma had heard Tessa back at the house, of course, but she still couldn’t quite believe it. Not just a Shadowhunter in hiding, but a Herondale. Clary and Jace would need to be told. They would likely come running. “He’s a Herondale? Like Jace?”
“Jace Herondale,” Kit muttered. “My father said he was one of the worst.” “One of the worst what?” Jem asked.
“Shadowhunters.” Kit spat the word. “And I’m not one, by the way. I’d know.” “Would you?” Jem’s voice was mild. “How?”
“None of your business,” Kit said. “I know what you’re doing. My dad told me you’d kidnap anyone under nineteen with the Sight. Anyone you thought you could make into a Shadowhunter. There’s barely any of you left after the Dark War.”
Emma opened her mouth to mount an indignant protest, but Tessa was already speaking. “Your father said many things that weren’t true,” she said. “Not to speak ill of the dead, Christopher, but I doubt I am telling you anything you don’t already know. And it is one thing to have the Sight. It is another thing to fight off a Mantid demon with no training.”
“You said you’ve been looking for him?” Emma asked, as the run-down Topanga Canyon Motel flashed by, its smeared windows dull brown in the sunshine. “Why?”
“Because he is a Herondale,” said Jem. “And the Carstairs owe the Herondales.”
A faint shudder went through Emma. Her father had spoken the same words to her, many times.
“Years ago, Tobias Herondale was convicted of desertion,” said Jem. “He was sentenced to death, but
he could not be found, so the sentence was carried out on his wife instead. She was pregnant. A warlock, Catarina Loss, smuggled the baby to safety in the New World.”
“The sentence was carried out on his pregnant wife?” Kit said. “What is wrong with you people?” “That is screwed up,” Emma said, for once in agreement with Kit. “So Kit here is descended from
Tessa nodded. “There is no defense for the Clave’s actions. As you know, I was Tessa Herondale once —I knew of Tobias; his story was a legend of horror. But only a few years ago was I told by Catarina of the survival of the child. Jem and I decided to find what had become of the Herondale line. Much searching led us to your father, Kit.”
“My father’s last name was Rook,” Kit muttered.
“Legally, your family has had several names,” said Tessa. “It made it quite hard to find you. I assume your father knew of his Shadowhunter blood and was hiding you from us. Certainly posing out in the open as a mundane with the Sight was clever. He was able to make connections, ward his house, bury his identity. Bury you.”
Kit spoke in a dull voice. “He used to say I was his biggest secret.” Emma turned onto the road to the Institute.
“Christopher,” said Tessa. “We are not Shadowhunters, Jem and I. We are not the Clave, bent on making you something you do not want to be. But your father had many enemies. Now that he is dead and cannot protect you, they will come after you. You will be safest in the Institute.”
Kit grunted. He looked neither impressed nor trusting.
It was odd, Emma thought, as they pulled up at the end of the road. The only things Kit had in common with his father, looks-wise, were his height and slenderness. As he stepped out of the car, hunching over his bloody shirt, his eyes were a clear blue. His hair, pale gold waves—that was pure Herondale. And his face, too, the fine bones of it, the gracefulness. He was too bloody and scratched and miserable-looking to tell now, but he’d be devastating someday.
Kit looked at the Institute, all glass and wood and shining in the afternoon light, with loathing. “Aren’t Institutes like jails?”
Emma snorted. “They’re like big houses. Shadowhunters from all over the world can stay there. They have a million bedrooms. I live in this one.”
“Whatever.” Kit sounded sullen. “I don’t want to go in.”
“You could run away,” Tessa said, and for the first time Emma heard the hardness under the gentle tone of her voice. It was a reminder that she and Jace shared some of the same blood. “But you would most likely be eaten by a Mantid demon as soon as the sun set.”
“I’m not a Shadowhunter,” Kit said, getting out of the car. “Stop acting like I am.”
“Well, there’s a quick test for it,” said Jem. “Only a Shadowhunter can open the door of the Institute.” “The door?” Kit stared at it. He was holding one arm close against his body. Emma’s gaze sharpened.
With Julian as a parabatai, she had become familiar with the way boys handled themselves when they were trying to conceal an injury. Maybe some of that blood was his.
“Kit—” she began.
“Let me get this straight,” he interrupted. “If I try to open that door and I can’t, you’ll let me go?” Tessa nodded. Before Emma could say anything else, Kit limped up the stairs. She dashed after him,
Tessa and Jem behind her. Kit put his shoulder to the door. He shoved.
The door flew open and he half-fell inside, nearly knocking over Tiberius, who had been crossing the entryway. Ty stumbled back and stared at the boy on the floor.
Kit was kneeling, his hand clearly cradling his left arm. He was breathing hard as he looked around, taking in the entryway—the marble floor, carved with runes. The swords hanging on the walls. The mural of the Angel and the Mortal Instruments. “It’s impossible,” he said. “I can’t be.”
Ty’s look of astonishment faded. “Are you all right?”
“You,” Kit said, staring up at Ty. “You pointed a knife at me.”
Ty looked uncomfortable. He reached up to tug on a lock of his dark hair. “It was just work. Not personal.”
Kit started to laugh. Still laughing, he sank back onto the floor. Tessa knelt down next to him, putting her hands on his shoulders. Emma couldn’t help seeing herself, during the Dark War, breaking down when she realized her parents were dead.
Kit looked up at her. His expression was blurry. It was the expression of someone who was using every bit of his willpower not to cry. “A million bedrooms,” he said.
“What?” Emma said.
“You said there were a million bedrooms here,” he said, rising to his feet. “I’m going to find an empty one. And then I’m going to lock myself into it. And if anyone tries to break the door down, I’ll kill them.”
“Do you think he’ll be all right?” Emma asked. “Kit, I mean?”
She was standing on the front steps with Jem, who was cradling Church in his arms. The cat had come running up a few moments after Jem had arrived, and practically launched his small furry body into Jem’s arms. Jem was petting him now, rubbing absentmindedly under his chin and around his ears. The cat had gone limp under his ministrations, like a washcloth.
The ocean rose and fell at the horizon. Tessa had stepped away from the Institute to make a phone call. Emma could hear her voice in the distance, though not the individual words.
“You can help him,” said Jem. “You lost your own parents. You know what it’s like.”
“But I don’t think—” Emma was alarmed. “If he stays, I don’t know—” She thought of Julian, of Uncle Arthur, of Diana, of the secrets they were all hiding. “Can’t you stay?” she said, and was surprised at the wistfulness in her voice.
Jem smiled at her over Church’s head. That smile she remembered from the first time she’d really seen Jem’s face, the smile that reminded her, in a way she couldn’t have described, of her father. Of the Carstairs blood that they shared. “I would like to stay,” he said. “Since we met in Idris, I have missed you, and thought of you often. I would like to visit with you. Spend time with my old violin. But Tessa and I, we must go. We must find Malcolm’s body, and the Black Volume, for even leagues underwater a book like that can still cause us trouble.”
“Do you remember when we met at my parabatai ceremony? You told me you wished you could be watching over me, but there was something you and Tessa had to find. Was that something Kit?”
“Yes.” Jem set Church down, and the cat wobbled off, purring, in search of a shady spot. Smiling, Jem looked so young, it was impossible for Emma to think of him as an ancestor—even an uncle. “We’ve been searching for him for years. We narrowed the search to this area, and then finally to the Shadow Market. But Johnny Rook was an expert at hiding.” He sighed. “I wish he hadn’t been. If he’d trusted us, he might be alive now.” He pushed a hand distractedly through his dark hair. A lock of it was silver, the color of aluminum. He was looking over at Tessa, and Emma could see the expression in his eyes when he looked at her. The love that had never dimmed over a century.
Love is the weakness of human beings, and the angels despise them for it, and the Clave despises it too, and therefore they punish it. Do you know what happens to parabatai who fall in love? Do you know why it’s forbidden?
“Malcolm—” she began.
Jem turned back toward her, the light of sympathy in his dark eyes. “We heard everything from Magnus. He told us that you were the one who killed Malcolm,” he said. “That must have been hard. You knew him. It’s not like killing demons.”
“I knew him,” Emma said. “At least, I thought I did.”
“We knew him too. Tessa was heartbroken to hear that Malcolm believed that we all lied to him. Concealed from him that Annabel was not an Iron Sister, but was dead, murdered by her family. We believed the story, but he died thinking we all knew the truth. What a betrayal that must have felt like.”
“It’s strange to think he was your friend. Though I guess he was our friend too.”
“People are more than one thing. Warlocks, no less. I would not even hesitate to say that Malcolm once did much good, before he did evil. It is one of the great lessons of growing up, learning that people can do both.”
“His story—the one about Annabel—such terrible things happened to both of them, just because they fell in love. Malcolm said something—and I wondered if it was true. It just seemed so strange.”
Jem looked puzzled. “What was it?”
“That the Clave despises love because love is something human beings feel. That that’s why they make all those Laws, about people not falling in love with Downworlders or with their parabatai. . . . And the Laws don’t make sense. . . .” Emma watched Jem out of the corner of her eye. Was she being too obvious?
“The Clave can be awful,” he said. “Hidebound and cruel. But some of the things they do are rooted in history. The parabatai Law, for instance.”
Emma felt as if her body temperature had dropped several degrees. “What do you mean?”
“I don’t know if I should tell you,” said Jem, looking off toward the ocean, and his expression was so somber that Emma felt her heart freeze inside her chest. “That’s a secret—a secret even from parabatai themselves—only a few know: the Silent Brothers, the Consul . . . I took a vow.”
“But you’re not a Shadowhunter anymore,” Emma said. “The vow doesn’t hold.” When he said nothing, she pressed on: “You owe me, you know. For not being around.”
The corner of his mouth flicked up into a smile. “You drive a hard bargain, Emma Carstairs.” He drew in a breath. Emma could hear Tessa’s voice, faint on the wind. She was saying Jace’s name. “The ritual of parabatai was created so that two Shadowhunters could be stronger together than they were apart. It has always been one of our most powerful weapons. Not everyone has a parabatai, but the fact that they exist is part of what makes Nephilim what they are. Without them, we would be infinitely weaker, in ways it is forbidden for me even to explain. Ideally, the ceremony increases each parabatai’s power—runes given to each other are stronger—and the closer the personal bond, the greater the power.”
Emma thought of the healing runes she’d drawn on Julian after the arrow poisoning. The way they’d glowed. The Endurance rune he’d given her. How it had behaved like no Endurance rune she’d ever known.
“It was not long after the ritual had been in use for some generations,” Jem said, lowering his voice, “that it was discovered that if the bond was too close, if it tipped into romantic love—then it would begin to warp and change the kind of power that was generated by the spell. One-sided love, a crush even, all that seems to pass by the rule—but real, requited, romantic love? It had a terrible cost.”
“They’d lose their power?” Emma guessed. “As Shadowhunters?”
“Their power would grow,” Jem corrected. “The runes they created would be unlike any others. They would begin to wield magic as warlocks do. But Nephilim are not meant to be magicians. Eventually the power would make them mad, until they became as monsters. They would destroy their families, the others they loved. Death would surround them until eventually they died themselves.”
Emma felt as if she were choking. “Why don’t they tell us that? Why not warn Nephilim, so they know?”
“It’s power, Emma,” said Jem. “Some would have wisely avoided the bond, but many others would have rushed to take advantage of it for the wrong reasons. Power will always attract the greedy and the weak.”
“I wouldn’t want it,” Emma said softly. “Not that kind of power.”
“There is also human nature to take into account,” Jem said, and smiled down at Tessa, who was off the
phone and coming up the path toward them. “Being told that love is forbidden does not kill love. It strengthens it.”
“What are you two talking about?” Tessa smiled up at them from the foot of the steps. “Love,” Jem said. “How to end it, I suppose.”
“Oh, if we could end love just by willing it, life would be very different!” Tessa laughed. “It’s easier to end someone else’s love for you than kill your love for them. Convince them that you don’t love them, or that you are someone they cannot respect—ideally both.” Her eyes were wide and gray and youthful; it was hard to believe she was older than nineteen. “To change your own heart, that’s nearly impossible.”
There was a shimmer in the air. A Portal suddenly appeared, glowing like a ghost door, just above the ground. It opened, and Emma could see as if she were looking through a keyhole: Magnus Bane stood on the other side of the Portal, and beside him was Alec Lightwood, tall and dark-haired and holding a little boy in a white shirt, with navy-blue skin. Alec looked messy and happy, and the way he held Max reminded Emma of the way Julian used to hold Tavvy.
In the middle of raising a hand to greet Emma, Alec paused and turned his head, and said something that sounded like “Raphael.” Odd, Emma thought. Alec handed Max over to Magnus and disappeared back into the shadows.
“Tessa Gray!” Magnus shouted, leaning out of the Portal as if he were leaning over a balcony. Max cooed and waved. “Jem Carstairs! Time to go!”
Someone was walking up the road from the beach. Emma could see only a silhouette. But she knew it was Julian. Julian, coming back from the beach where he had waited for her. She would always know it was Julian.
With the courtliness of a generation many years past, Jem bent over her hand in a gentle bow.
“If you need me, tell Church,” he said, straightening up. “As you’ve seen, he can always find me. He’ll make sure I come to you.”
Then he turned and strode away toward the Portal. Tessa took his hand and smiled up at him, and a moment later they had stepped through the glowing door. It disappeared with a flash of pale gold light, and Emma, blinking, looked down to where Julian stood staring up at her from the foot of the steps.
“Emma?” Julian bounded up the stairs, reaching for her. “Emma, what happened? I waited on the beach —”
She drew away from his touch. A flicker of hurt crossed his face, then he glanced around, as if realizing where they were, and nodded.
“Come with me,” he said in a low voice. Emma followed him, half in a daze, as they circled the Institute to the parking lot. He ducked out past the statues and the small garden, Emma behind him, until they were screened from the building by rows of scrub trees and cactus.
He turned so that they stood face-to-face. She could see the worry in his eyes. He reached to cup her cheek in his hand, and she felt her heart thrash against her rib cage.
“You can tell me,” he said. “Why didn’t you come?”
In a leaden voice, Emma told him about the panicked message from Kit, how she’d bolted immediately for the car. How after everything that the Institute had been through the day before, she hadn’t been able to bear dragging anyone else along with her to Rook’s. How Rook felt like her responsibility. How she’d tried to call Julian to tell him where she’d gone, but he hadn’t picked up. About the Mantids at Rook’s house, Jem and Tessa’s arrival, the truth about Kit. Everything but what Jem had said to her about parabatai.
“I’m glad you’re all right,” he said, when she was done. His thumb brushed her cheekbone. “Though I guess if you’d been hurt—I would have known.”
Emma didn’t raise her hands to touch him. They were clenched into fists at her sides. She had done hard things in her life, she thought. Her years of training. Surviving her parents’ deaths. Killing Malcolm.
But the look on Julian’s face—open and trusting—told her that this would be the hardest thing she’d ever done.
She reached up and covered his hand with hers. Slowly she intertwined their fingers. Even more slowly, she drew his hand away from her face, trying to quiet the voice inside her head that said, This is the last time he’ll ever touch you like this, the last.
They were still holding hands, but hers lay stiffly in his, a dead thing. Julian looked puzzled. “Emma —?”
“We can’t do this,” she said, her voice flat and uninflected. “That was what I wanted to tell you, earlier. We can’t be together. Not like this.”
He drew his hand out of hers. “I don’t understand. What are you saying?”
I’m saying it’s too late, she wanted to tell him. I’m saying the Endurance rune you gave me saved my life when Malcolm attacked me. And as grateful as I am, it shouldn’t have been able to do that. I’m saying that we’re already becoming what Jem was warning me about. I’m saying it isn’t a matter of stopping the clock, but of making it run backward.
And for that, the clock will need to be broken.
“No kissing, no touching, no being in love, no dating. Is that clear enough for you?”
Julian did not look as if she had hit him. He was a warrior: He could take any blow, and be ready to strike back twice as hard.
It was much worse than that.
Emma wanted desperately to take back what she’d said, to tell him the truth, but Jem’s words echoed in her mind.
Being told that it is forbidden does not kill love. It strengthens it.
“I don’t want to have this kind of relationship,” she said. “Hiding, lying, sneaking around. Don’t you see? It would poison everything we have. It would kill all the good parts of being parabatai until we weren’t even friends anymore.”
“That doesn’t have to be true.” He looked sick but determined. “We only have to hide for a little while —only as long as the kids are young enough to need me—”
“Tavvy’s going to need you for eight more years,” said Emma, as coldly as she could. “We can’t sneak around for that long.”
“We could put it on hold—put us on hold—”
“I’m not going to wait.” She could feel him watching her, feel the weight of his pain. She was glad she could feel it. She deserved to feel it.
“I don’t believe you.”
“Why would I say it if it wasn’t true? It doesn’t exactly paint me in the best light, Jules.”
“Jules?” He choked on the word. “You’re calling me that again? Like we are kids? We’re not children, Emma!”
“Of course not,” she said. “But we’re young. We make mistakes. This thing between us, it was a mistake. The risk is too high.” The words tasted bitter in her mouth. “The Law—”
“There’s nothing more important than love,” Julian said, in an odd, distant voice, as if he were remembering something he’d been told. “And no Law higher.”
“That’s easy enough to say,” Emma said. “It’s just that if we’re going to take that kind of risk, it should be for a real, lifelong love. And I do care about you, Jules, obviously I do. I even love you. I’ve loved you my whole life.” At least that part was true. “But I don’t love you enough. It’s not enough.”
It’s easier to end someone else’s love for you than kill your love for them. Convince them that you don’t love them, or that you are someone they cannot respect.
Julian was breathing hard. But his eyes, locked on hers, were steady. “I know you,” he said. “I know you, Emma, and you’re lying. You’re trying to do what you think is right. Trying to push me away to
No, she thought desperately. Don’t give me the benefit of the doubt, Julian. This has to work. It has to.
“Please don’t,” she said. “You were right—you and I don’t make sense—Mark and I would make sense —”
Hurt bloomed across his face like a wound. Mark, she thought. Mark’s name was like the sly elf-bolt he wore, able to pierce Julian’s armor.
Close, she thought. I’m so close. He almost believes.
But Julian was an expert liar. And expert liars could see lies when other people told them.
“You’re trying to protect the kids, too,” he said. “Do you understand, Emma? I know what you’re doing, and I love you for it. I love you.”
“Oh, Jules,” she said, in despair. “Don’t you see? You’re talking about us being together by running away, and I just came from Rook’s. I saw Kit and what it means to live in hiding, the cost of it, not just for us, but what if we had kids someday? And we’d have to give up being what we are. I’d have to give up being a Shadowhunter. And it would kill me, Jules. It would just rip me apart.”
“Then we’ll figure out something else,” he said. His voice sounded like sandpaper. “Something where we’ll still be Shadowhunters. We’ll figure it out together.”
“We won’t,” she whispered. But his eyes were wide, imploring her to change her mind, to change her words, to put what was breaking back together.
“Emma,” he said, reaching for her hand. “I will never, never give up on you.”
It was a strange irony, she thought, a terrible irony that because she loved him so much and knew him so well, she knew exactly what she had to do to destroy everything he felt for her, in a single blow.
She pulled away from him and started back toward the house. “Yes,” she said. “You will.”
Emma didn’t know quite how long she’d been sitting on her bed. The house was full of noises—she’d heard Arthur shouting something when she first came back inside, and then quiet. Kit had been put in one of the spare rooms, as he’d asked, and Ty was sitting outside of it, reading a book. She’d asked him what he was doing—guarding Kit? Guarding the Institute from Kit?—but he’d just shrugged.
Livvy was in the training room with Dru. Emma could hear their muffled voices through the floor. She wanted Cristina. She wanted the one other person who knew how she felt about Julian, so she
could cry in Cristina’s arms and Cristina could tell her things were going to be all right, and that she was doing the right thing.
Though whether Cristina would ever really think that what she was doing was right, Emma wasn’t sure. But she knew in her heart it was necessary.
She heard the click of the doorknob turning and closed her eyes. She couldn’t stop seeing Julian’s face as she’d turned away from him.
Jules, she thought. If only you didn’t believe in me, this wouldn’t be necessary.
“Emma?” Mark’s voice. He hovered in the doorway, very human-looking in a white henley shirt and jeans. “I just got your message. You wanted to talk?”
Emma stood up and smoothed down the dress she’d changed into. A pretty one, with yellow flowers on a brown background. “I need a favor.”
His pale eyebrows went up. “Favors are no light thing to faeries.”
“They are no light thing to Shadowhunters, either.” She squared her shoulders. “You said you owed me. For taking care of Julian. For saving his life. You said you would do anything.”
Mark crossed his arms over his chest. She could see black runes on his skin again: at his collar, at his wrists. His skin was already browner than it had been, and there was more muscle on him, now that he was eating. Shadowhunters put it on fast.
“Please continue, then,” he said. “And if it is a favor in my power to grant, I will grant it.”
“If Julian asks—” She steadied her voice. “No. Whether he asks or not. I need you to pretend with me that we’re dating. That we’re falling in love.”
Mark’s arms fell to his sides. “What?”
“You heard me,” she said. She wished she could read Mark’s face. If he protested, she knew that she had no way of forcing him. She could never bring herself to do that. She lacked, ironically, Julian’s ruthlessness.
“I know it seems strange,” she began.
“It seems very strange,” said Mark. “If you want Julian to think you have a boyfriend, why not ask Cameron Ashdown?”
If you and Mark ever . . . I don’t think I could come back from that.
“It has to be you,” she said.
“Anyone would be your boyfriend. You’re a beautiful girl. You don’t need someone to lie.” “This isn’t for my ego,” Emma snapped. “And I don’t want a boyfriend. I want the lie.”
“You want me to lie just to Julian, or to everyone?” Mark said. His hand was at his throat, tapping against the pulse there. Looking, perhaps, for his elf-bolt necklace, which Emma only now realized was missing.
“I suppose everyone will have to believe it,” Emma said reluctantly. “We can’t ask them all to lie to Julian.”
“No,” Mark said, and his mouth twitched up at the corner. “That would be impractical.”
“If you’re not going to do it, tell me,” Emma said. “Or tell me what I can say to convince you. This isn’t for me, Mark, this is for Julian. This could well save his life. I can’t tell you more than that. I have to ask you to trust me. I’ve protected him all these years. This—this is part of that.”
The sun was setting. The room was suffused with a reddish light. It cast a rosy glow over Mark’s hair and skin. Emma remembered her twelve-year-old self, how she’d thought Mark was handsome. It hadn’t gone so far as a crush, but she could see another past for herself, one where Mark wasn’t taken from them. One where he’d been there, and so she’d fallen in love with him and not his brother. One where she’d been Julian’s parabatai and married to his brother, and they’d been in each other’s lives, bound permanently in every way people could be bound, and it would have been everything they should have wanted.
“You want me to tell him, tell everyone, that we are falling in love,” he said. “Not that we are in love already?”
She flushed. “It needs to be believable.”
“There is much that you are not telling me.” His eyes were bright. He was looking less human and more faerie now, she thought, sizing up the situation, positioning himself within the careful dance of deception. “I assume you will want everyone to know we have kissed. Perhaps done more.”
She nodded. She could definitely feel her cheeks burning.
“I swear to you, I’ll explain as much as I can,” she said, “if you agree. And I swear it could save Julian’s life. I hate to ask you to lie, but—”
“But for the ones you love, you’d do anything,” he said, and she had no answer to that. He was definitely smiling now, his mouth curved in amusement. She couldn’t quite tell if it was human amusement or the amusement of Faerie, which thrived on chaos. “I can see why you chose me. I am here, and close, and it would have been easy for us to begin a relationship. We are neither of us attached to someone else. And you are, as I said, a beautiful girl, and hopefully you don’t find me hideous.”
“No,” Emma said. Relief and a thousand other emotions sang through her veins. “Not hideous.” “So I suppose I only have one more question,” Mark said. “But first—” He turned around, and very
deliberately closed her door.
When he faced her again, he had never looked to her so much like one of the Fair Folk. His eyes were full of a feral amusement, a carelessness that spoke of a world where there was no human Law. He seemed to bring the wildness of Faerie into the room with him: a cold, sweet magic that was nevertheless bitter at the roots.
The storm calls you as it calls me, does it not?
He held out a hand to her, half-beckoning, half-offering. “Why lie?” he said.
For years her coffin had been dry. Now seawater dripped in through the fine, porous holes in the wood and stone, and with the seawater, blood.
It fell onto parched bones and dry sinew, and soaked her winding shroud. It moistened her withered lips. It brought with it the magic of the ocean, and with it the blood of the one who had loved her, a stranger magic still.
In her tomb by the sounding sea, Annabel’s eyes opened.
NOTES ON THE TEXT
“Water washes, and tall ships founder, and deep death waits” is from Swinburne’s “Hymn to Proserpine.” “Your heart is a weapon the size of your fist” is real graffiti, made famous by being written first on a
wall in Palestine. Now you can find it everywhere.
“All the blood that’s shed on earth runs through the springs of that country” is from the ballad “Tam Lin.”
All chapter titles are taken from the poem “Annabel Lee.”
Many of the places Emma goes are real or based on real places in Los Angeles, but some are imaginary. Canter’s Deli exists, but the Midnight Theater doesn’t. Poseidon’s Trident is based on the seafood shack Neptune’s Net, but the Net doesn’t have showers out back. Malcolm’s house and Wells’s are based on real houses. I grew up in Los Angeles, so in many ways this is the L.A. I always imagined as a child, full of magic.