City of Fallen Angels
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He ducked his head down to look into her face. His eyes, surrounding by lashes darkened with rainwater, were impossibly gold.
"Because I love you."
She couldn't stand it anymore. She took her hands off his shoulders, hooked her fingers through his belt loops, and pulled him against her. He let her do it with no resistance, his hands flattening against the wall, folding his body against hers until they were pressed together everywhere-chests, hips, legs-like puzzle pieces. His hands slid down to her waist and he kissed her, long and lingering, making her shudder.
She pulled away. "That doesn't make any sense."
"Neither does this," he said, "but I don't care. I'm sick of trying to pretend I can live without you. Don't you understand that? Can't you see it's killing me?"
She stared at him. She could see he meant what he said, could see it in the eyes she knew as well as her own, in the bruised shadows under those eyes, the pulse pounding in his throat. Her desire for answers battled the more primal part of her brain, and lost. "Kiss me then," she whispered, and he pressed his mouth against hers, their hearts slamming together through the thin layers of wet fabric that divided them. And she was drowning in it, in the sensation of him kissing her; of rain everywhere, running off her eyelashes; of letting his hands slide freely over the wet, crumpled fabric of her dress, made thin and clinging by the rain. It was almost like having his hands on her bare skin, her chest, her hips, her stomach; when he reached the hem of her dress, he gripped her legs, pressing her harder back against the wall while she wrapped them around his waist.
He made a noise of surprise, low in his throat, and dug his fingers into the thin fabric of her tights. Not unexpectedly, they ripped, and his wet fingers were suddenly on the bare skin of her legs. Not to be outdone, she slid her hands under the hem of his soaked shirt, and let her fingers explore what was underneath: the tight, hot skin over his ribs, the ridges of his abdomen, the scars on his back, the angle of his hipbones above the waistband of his jeans. This was uncharted territory for her, but it seemed to be driving him crazy: he was moaning softly against her mouth, kissing her harder and harder, as if it would never be enough, not quite enough-
And a horrific clanging noise exploded in Clary's ears, shattering her out of her dream of kissing and rain. With a gasp she pushed Jace away, hard enough that he let go of her and she tumbled off the speaker to land unsteadily on her feet, hastily straightening her dress. Her heart was slamming against her rib cage like a battering ram, and she felt dizzy.
"Dammit." Isabelle, standing in the mouth of the alley, her wet black hair like a cloak around her shoulders, kicked a trash can out of her way and glowered. "Oh, for goodness' sake," she said. "I can't believe you two. Why? What's wrong with bedrooms? And privacy?"
Clary looked at Jace. He was utterly drenched, water running off him in sheets, his fair hair, plastered to his head, nearly silver in the faint glow of the distant streetlights. Just looking at him made Clary want to touch him again, Isabelle or no Isabelle, with a longing that was nearly painful. He was staring at Izzy with the look of someone who had been slapped out of a dream-bewilderment, anger, dawning realization.
"I was just looking for Simon," Isabelle said defensively, seeing Jace's expression. "He ran offstage, and I've no idea where he went." The music had stopped, Clary realized, at some point; she hadn't noticed when. "Anyway, he's obviously not here. Go back to what you were doing. What's the point in wasting a perfectly good brick wall when you have someone to throw against it, that's what I always say." And she stalked off, back toward the bar.
Clary looked at Jace. At any other time they would have laughed together at Isabelle's moodiness, but there was no humor in his expression, and she knew immediately that whatever they had had between them-whatever had blossomed out of his momentary lack of control-it was gone now. She could taste blood in her mouth and wasn't sure if she had bitten her own lip or he had.
"Jace-" She took a step toward him.
"Don't," he said, his voice very rough. "I can't."
And then he was gone, running as fast as only he could run, a blur that vanished into the distance before she could even take a breath to call him back.
The angry voice exploded in Simon's ears. He would have released Maureen then-or so he told himself-but he didn't get the chance. Strong hands grabbed him by the arms, hauling him off her. He was dragged to his feet by a white-faced Kyle, still tousled and sweaty from the set they'd just finished. "What the hell, Simon. What the hell-"
"I didn't mean to," Simon gasped. His voice sounded blurry to his own ears; his fangs were still out, and he hadn't learned to talk around the goddamn things yet. Past Kyle, on the floor, he could see Maureen lying in a crumpled heap, horribly still. "It just happened-"
"I told you. I told you." Kyle's voice rose, and he pushed Simon, hard. Simon stumbled back, his forehead burning, as an invisible hand seemed to lift Kyle and fling him hard against the wall behind him. He hit it and slid to the ground, landing in a wolflike crouch, on his hands and knees. He staggered to his feet, staring. "Jesus Christ. Simon-"
But Simon had dropped to his knees beside Maureen, his hands on her, frantically feeling at her throat for a pulse. When it fluttered under his fingertips, faint but steady, he nearly wept with relief.
"Get away from her." Kyle, sounding strained, moved to stand over Simon. "Just get up and move away."
Simon got up reluctantly and faced Kyle over Maureen's limp form. Light was lancing through the gap in the curtains that led to the stage; he could hear the other band members out there, chattering to one another, starting the teardown. Any minute they'd be coming back here.
"What you just did," Kyle said. "Did you-push me? Because I didn't see you move."
"I didn't mean to," Simon said again, wretchedly. It seemed to be all he said these days.
Kyle shook his head, his hair flying. "Get out of here. Go wait by the van. I'll deal with her." He bent down and lifted Maureen in his arms. She looked tiny against the bulk of him, like a doll. He fixed Simon with a glare. "Go. And I hope you feel really goddamn terrible."
Simon went. He moved to the fire door and shoved it open. No alarm went off; the alarm had been busted for months. The door swung shut behind him, and he leaned up against the back wall of the club as every part of his body began to tremble.
The club backed onto a narrow street lined with warehouses. Across the way was a vacant lot blocked off with a sagging chain-link fence. Ugly scrub grass grew up through the cracks in the pavement. Rain was sheeting down, soaking the garbage that littered the street, floating old beer cans on the runoff-filled gutters.
Simon thought it was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen. The whole night seemed to have exploded with prismatic light. The fence was a linked chain of brilliant silver wires, each raindrop a platinum tear.
I hope you feel really goddamn terrible, Kyle had said. But this was much worse. He felt fantastic, alive in a way he never had before. Human blood was clearly somehow the perfect, the ideal food for vampires. Waves of energy were running through him like electric current. The pain in his head, his stomach, was gone. He could have run ten thousand miles.
It was awful.
"Hey, you. Are you all right?" The voice that spoke was cultured, amused; Simon turned and saw a woman in a long black trench coat, a bright yellow umbrella open over her head. With his brand-new prismatic vision, it looked like a glimmering sunflower. The woman herself was beautiful-though everything looked beautiful to him right now-with gleaming black hair and a red-lipsticked mouth. He dimly recalled seeing her sitting at one of the tables during the band's performance.
He nodded, not trusting himself to speak. He must have looked pretty shell-shocked, if total strangers were coming up to inquire about his well-being.
"You look like maybe you got banged on the head there," she said, indicating his forehead. "That's a nasty bruise. Are you sure I can't call anyone for you?"
He reached up hastily to move his hair across his forehead, hiding the Mark. "I'm fine. It's nothing."
"Okay. If you say so." She sounded a little doubtful. She reached into her pocket, pulled out a card, and handed it to him. It had a name on it, Satrina Kendall. Underneath the name was a title, BAND PROMOTER, in small capitals, and a phone number and address. "That's me," she said. "I liked what you guys did in there. If you're interested in making it a little more big-time, give me a call."
And with that, she turned and sashayed away, leaving Simon staring after her. Surely, he thought, there was no way this night could get any more bizarre.
Shaking his head-a move that sent water drops flying in all directions-he squelched around the corner to where the van was parked. The door of the bar was open, and people were streaming out. Everything still looked unnaturally bright, Simon thought, but his prismatic vision was beginning to fade slightly. The scene in front of him looked ordinary-the bar emptying out, the side doors open, and the van with its back doors open, already being loaded up with gear by Matt, Kirk, and a variety of their friends. As Simon drew closer, he saw that Isabelle was leaning against the side of the van, one leg drawn up, the heel of her boot braced against the van's blistered side. She could have been helping with the teardown, of course-Isabelle was stronger than anyone else in the band, with the possible exception of Kyle-but she clearly couldn't be bothered. Simon would hardly have expected anything else.
She looked up as he came closer. The rain had slowed, but she had clearly been out in it for some time; her hair was a heavy, wet curtain down her back. "Hey there," she said, pushing off from the side of the van and coming toward him. "Where have you been? You just ran offstage-"
"Yeah," he said. "I wasn't feeling well. Sorry."
"As long as you're better now." She wrapped her arms around him and smiled up into his face. He felt a wave of relief that he didn't feel any urge to bite her. Then another wave of guilt as he remembered why.
"You haven't seen Jace anywhere, have you?" he asked.
She rolled her eyes. "I ran across him and Clary making out," she said. "Although they're gone now-home, I hope. Those two epitomize 'get a room.'"
"I didn't think Clary was coming," Simon said, though it wasn't that odd; he supposed the cake appointment had been canceled or something. He didn't even have the energy to be annoyed about what a terrible bodyguard Jace had turned out to be. It wasn't as if he'd ever thought Jace took his personal safety all that seriously. He just hoped Jace and Clary had worked it out, whatever it was.
"Whatever." Isabelle grinned. "Since it's just us, do you want to go somewhere and-"
A voice-a very familiar voice-spoke out of the shadows just beyond the reach of the nearest streetlight. "Simon?"
Oh, no, not now. Not right now.
He turned slowly. Isabelle's arm was still loosely clasped around his waist, though he knew that wouldn't last much longer. Not if the person speaking was who he thought it was.
Maia had moved into the light, and was standing looking at him, an expression of disbelief on her face. Her normally curly hair was pasted to her head with rain, her amber eyes very wide, her jeans and denim jacket soaked. She was clutching a rolled-up piece of paper in her left hand.
Simon was vaguely aware that off to the side the band members had slowed down their movements and were openly gawking. Isabelle's arm slid off his waist. "Simon?" she said. "What's going on?"
"You told me you were going to be busy," Maia said, looking at Simon. "Then someone shoved this under the station door this morning." She thrust the rolled-up paper forward; it was instantly recognizable as one of the flyers for the band's performance tonight.
Isabelle was looking from Simon to Maia, recognition slowly dawning on her face. "Wait a second," she said. "Are you two dating?"
Maia set her chin. "Are you?"
"Yes," Isabelle said. "For quite a few weeks now."
Maia's eyes narrowed. "Us, too. We've been dating since September."
"I can't believe it," Isabelle said. She genuinely looked as if she couldn't. "Simon?" She turned to him, her hands on her hips. "Do you have an explanation?"
The band, who had finally shoved all the equipment into the van-the drums packing out the back bench seat and the guitars and basses in the cargo section-were hanging out the back of the car, openly staring. Eric put his hands around his mouth to make a megaphone. "Ladies, ladies," he intoned. "There is no need to fight. There is enough Simon to go around."
Isabelle whipped around and shot a glare at Eric so terrifying that he fell instantly silent. The back doors of the van slammed shut, and it took off down the road. Traitors, Simon thought, though to be fair, they probably assumed he would catch a ride home in Kyle's car, which was parked around the corner. Assuming he lived long enough.
"I can't believe you, Simon," Maia said. She was standing with her hands on her hips as well, in a pose identical to Isabelle's. "What were you thinking? How could you lie like that?"
"I didn't lie," Simon protested. "We never said we were exclusive!" He turned to Isabelle. "Neither did we! And I know you were dating other people-"
"Not people you know," Isabelle said, blisteringly. "Not your friends. How would you feel if you found out I was dating Eric?"
"Stunned, frankly," said Simon. "He really isn't your type."
"That's not the point, Simon." Maia had moved closer to Isabelle, and the two of them faced him down together, an immovable wall of female rage. The bar had finished emptying out, and aside from the three of them, the street was deserted. He wondered about his chances if he made a break for it, and decided they weren't good. Werewolves were fast, and Isabelle was a trained vampire hunter.