Lady Midnight
Page 21

 Cassandra Clare

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“She did,” said Cristina. Emma shot her a look that said traitor.
“Ha!” Livvy’s knife went wide of the target. She turned around, her braid bouncing on her shoulders. “Emma goes out with him, like, every four months, then dumps him.”
“Oh?” Cristina cut a glance toward Emma. “Why has he been singled out for this special torture?”
“Oh, for goodness’ sake,” Emma said. “It wasn’t serious.”
“Not to you,” said Livvy. “Bet it was to him.” She held out her second knife to Cristina. “Want a try?”
Cristina took the knife and moved into Livvy’s position.
“Who’s Perfect Diego?” Livvy asked.
Cristina had been frowning at the knife; now she turned around and gaped at Livvy.
“I heard you,” Livvy said cheerfully. “Before I came in. Who is he? Why’s he so perfect? Why is there a perfect boy in the world and no one’s told me?”
“Diego is the boy Cristina’s mother wants her to marry,” Emma told Livvy. Now it was Cristina’s turn to look betrayed. “It’s not an arranged marriage, that would be gross; it’s just that her mother loves him, his mother carried the Rosales name—”
“He’s related to you?” Livvy asked Cristina. “Isn’t that a problem? I mean, I know Clary Fairchild and Jace Herondale are a famous love story, but they weren’t actually brother and sister. Otherwise I think it would probably be a . . .”
“Less famous love story,” said Emma with a grin.
Cristina threw her knife. It hit close to the target’s center. “His full name is Diego Rocio Rosales—Rocio is his father’s last name, and Rosales his mother’s, just like my mother’s last name is Rosales. But that doesn’t mean we’re even cousins. The Rosaleses are a huge Shadowhunting family. My mother just thinks he’s perfect, so handsome, so smart, such a Shadowhunter, perfect perfect perfect—”
“And now you know how he got his nickname,” said Emma, going to retrieve the knives from the wall.
“Is he perfect?” Livvy asked.
“No,” Cristina said. When Cristina was upset, she didn’t get angry; she just stopped talking. She was doing that now, staring at the target painted on the wall. Emma spun the knives she’d retrieved in her hands.
“We’ll protect you from Perfect Diego,” Emma said. “If he comes here, I’ll impale him.” She moved toward the throwing line.
“Emma’s a master of the impalement arts,” Livvy said.
“You’d be better off impaling my mother,” Cristina muttered. “All right, flaquita, impress me. Let’s see you throw two at a time.”
A knife in each hand, Emma took a step back from the throwing line. She had taught herself to throw two knives at once over the course of a year, throwing again and again, the sound of the blades splitting the wood a balm to shattered nerves. She was left-handed, so normally would have taken a step back and to the right, but she’d forced herself to be nearly ambidextrous. Her step back was direct, not diagonal. Her arms went back and then forward; she opened her hands and the knives flew like falcons whose jesses had been cut. They soared toward the target and thudded, one after the other, into its heart.
Cristina whistled. “I see why Cameron Ashdown keeps coming back. He’s afraid not to.” She went to retrieve the knives, including her own. “Now I am going to try again. I see that I am far behind where I should be.”
Emma laughed. “No, I was cheating. I practiced that move for years.”
“Still,” Cristina said, “if you ever change your mind and decide you don’t like me, I’d better be able to defend myself.”
“Good throw,” Livvy said in a whisper, coming up behind Emma as Cristina, several feet away, paced back and forth at the throwing line.
“Thanks,” Emma whispered back. Leaning against a rack of gloves and protective gear, she glanced down into Livvy’s sunny face. “Did you get anywhere with Ty? And the parabatai thing?” she inquired, almost dreading the answer.
Livvy’s face clouded. “He still says no. It’s the only thing we’ve ever disagreed about.”
“I’m sorry.” Emma knew how badly Livvy wanted to be parabatai with her twin. Brothers and sisters who became parabatai were unusual but not unheard of. Ty’s stark refusal was surprising, though. He rarely said no to Livvy about anything, but he was obdurate about this.
Cristina’s first blade slammed home, just at the rim of the target’s inside circle. Emma cheered.
“I like her,” Livvy said, still in a whisper.
“Good,” Emma said. “I like her too.”
“And I think Perfect Diego maybe broke her heart.”
“He did something,” Emma said guardedly. “That much I’ve guessed.”
“So I think we should set her up with Julian.”
Emma almost overturned the rack. “What?”
Livvy shrugged. “She’s pretty, and she seems really nice, and she’s going to be living with us. And Jules hasn’t ever had a girlfriend—you know why.” Emma just stared. Her head seemed full of white noise. “I mean, it’s our fault—mine and Ty’s, and Dru’s and Tavvy’s. Raising four kids, you don’t exactly have a lot of time to date. So since we sort of took having a girlfriend away from him . . .”
“You want to set him up,” Emma said blankly. “I mean, it doesn’t work like that, Livvy. They’d have to like each other. . . .”
“I think they could,” said Livvy. “If we gave them a chance. What do you say?”
Her blue-green eyes, so much like Julian’s, were full of affectionate mischief. Emma opened her mouth to say something, she didn’t know what, when Cristina let her second knife go. It slammed into the wall so hard that the wood seemed to crack.
Livvy clapped her hands. “Awesome!” She shot Emma a triumphant look, as if to say See, she’s perfect. She glanced at her watch. “Okay, I have to go help Ty some more. Yell for me if anything awesomely exciting happens.”
Emma nodded, a little stunned, as Livvy danced away to hang up her weapons and head for the library. She was nearly startled out of her skin when a voice spoke from just over her shoulder—Cristina had come up behind her and was looking worried. “What were you two talking about?” she asked. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
Emma opened her mouth to say something, but never found out what, because at that moment, a commotion burst out from downstairs. She could hear the sound of someone pounding on the front door, followed by running feet.
Catching up Cortana, Emma was out the door in a flash.
The pounding on the front door of the Institute echoed through the building. “Just a minute!” Julian yelled, zipping up his hoodie as he jogged toward the door. He was almost glad someone had shown up. Ty and Livvy had ordered him out of the computer room with the announcement that Julian was wrecking their concentration by pacing, and he’d been bored enough to consider going to check on Arthur, which he was fairly sure would put him in a bad mood for the rest of the day.