Lady Midnight
Page 23

 Cassandra Clare

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Julian shook his head. “I’m not hungry.”
He almost thought he could hear Emma sigh. A moment later she disappeared after Livvy, up the stairs. Julian made as if to follow them, but Malcolm stopped him with a hand on his shoulder.
“It’s gotten worse, hasn’t it?” he said.
“Uncle Arthur?” Jules was caught off guard. “I don’t think so. I mean, it’s not great that I haven’t been here, but if we’d kept refusing to go to England, someone would have gotten suspicious.”
“Not Arthur,” said Malcolm. “You. Does she know about you?”
“Does who know what?”
“Don’t be dense,” Malcolm said. “Emma. Does she know?”
Julian felt his heart wrench inside his chest. He had no words for the feeling of upheaval Malcolm’s words caused. It was too much like being tumbled by a wave, solid footing giving way in the slide of sand. “Stop.”
“I won’t,” Malcolm said. “I like happy endings.”
Julian spoke through his teeth. “Malcolm, this is not a love story.”
“Every story is a love story.”
Julian drew away from him and started toward the stairs. He was rarely actually angry at Malcolm, but right now his heart was pounding. He made it to the landing before Malcolm called after him; he turned, knowing he shouldn’t, and found the warlock looking up at him.
“Laws are meaningless, child,” Malcolm said in a low voice that somehow still carried. “There is nothing more important than love. And no law higher.”
Technically, the Institute wasn’t supposed to have a computer in it.
The Clave resisted the advent of modernity but even more so any engagement with mundane culture. But that had never stopped Tiberius. He’d started asking for a computer at the age of ten so that he could keep up to date on violent mundane crimes, and when they’d come back from Idris, after the Dark War, Julian had given him one.
Ty had lost his mother and father, his brother, and his older sister, Jules had said at the time, sitting on the floor amid a tangle of wirestouch, sleeping in bed together. As kids they’d fought over the blankets, stacked books between them sometimes to settle, at least it would be something.
And indeed, Ty loved the computer. He named it Watson and spent hours teaching himself how to use it, since no one else had a clue. Julian told him not to do anything illegal; Arthur, locked away in his study, didn’t notice.
Livvy, ever dedicated to her sibling, had also taught herself to use it, with Ty’s help, once he’d familiarized himself with how it worked. Together they were a formidable team.
It looked like Ty, Dru, Livvy, and even Tavvy had been busy. Dru had spread maps all over the floor. Tavvy was standing by a whiteboard with a blue dry-erase marker, making possibly helpful notations, if they could ever be translated out of seven-year-old.
Ty was seated at the swivel chair in front of the computer, his fingers moving swiftly over the keyboard. Livvy was perched on the desk, as she often was; Ty worked around her, completely aware of where she was while at the same time focusing on the task at hand.
“So, you found something?” Julian said as they came in.
“Yes. Just a second.” Ty held up his hand imperiously. “You can talk to each other if you like.”
Julian grinned. “That’s very kind.”
Cristina came hurrying in, braiding her damp, dark hair. She’d clearly showered and re-dressed, in jeans and a flowered blouse. “Livvy told me—”
“Shh.” Emma put her finger to her lips and indicated Ty, staring intently at the computer’s blue screen. It lit up his delicate features. She loved the moments when Ty was playing detective; he so clearly fell into the part, into the dream of being Sherlock Holmes, who always had all the answers.
Cristina nodded and sat down on the overstuffed love seat beside Drusilla. Dru was nearly as tall as she was, despite being only thirteen. She was one of those girls whose body had grown up quickly: She had breasts and hips, was soft and curvy. It had led to some awkward moments with boys who thought she was seventeen or eighteen years old, and a few incidents where Emma had barely stopped Julian from murdering a mundane teenager.
Malcolm settled himself in a patched armchair. “Well, if we’re waiting,” he said, and began typing on his phone.
“What are you doing?” Emma asked.
“Ordering pizza from Nightshade’s,” said Malcolm. “There’s an app.”
“A what?” said Dru.
“Nightshade?” Livvy turned around. “The vampire?”
“He owns a pizza place. The sauce is divine,” Malcolm said, kissing his fingers.
“Aren’t you worried what’s in it?” said Livvy.
“You Nephilim are so paranoid,” said Malcolm, returning to his phone.
Ty cleared his throat, spinning his chair back around to face the room. Everyone had settled themselves on couches or chairs except Tavvy, who was sitting on the floor under the whiteboard. “I’ve found some stuff,” he said. “There definitely have been bodies that fit Emma’s description. Fingerprints sanded off, soaked in seawater, skin burned.” He pulled up the front page of a newspaper on-screen. “Mundanes think it’s satanic cult activity, because of the chalk markings found around the bodies.”
“Mundanes think everything is satanic cult activity,” said Malcolm. “Most cults are actually in service of completely different demons than Lucifer. He’s quite famous and very hard to reach. Rarely does favors for anyone. Really an unrewarding demon to worship.”
Emma and Julian exchanged looks of amusement. Ty clicked the computer mouse, and pictures flashed up on the screen. Faces—different ages, races, genders. All of them slack in death.
“There are only a few murders that match the profile,” said Ty. He seemed pleased to be using the word “profile.” “There’s been one every month for the past year. Twelve counting the one Emma found, like she said.”
Emma said, “But nothing before a year ago?”
Ty shook his head.
“So, there was a gap of four years since my parents were killed. Whoever it was—if it was the same person—stopped and started up again.”
“Is there anything that links all these people?” Julian asked. “Diana said some of the bodies were fey.”
“Well, this is all mundane news,” said Livvy. “They wouldn’t know, would they? They’d think the bodies were human, if they were gentry fey. As for anything linking them, none of them have been identified.”
“That’s weird,” said Dru. “What about blood? In movies they can identify people using blood and DTR.”
“DNA,” corrected Ty. “Well, according to the newspapers none of the bodies were identified. It could have been that whatever spells were done on them altered their blood. Or they could have decayed fast, like Emma’s parents did. That would have limited what the coroners could have found out.”
“There is something else, though,” Livvy said. “The stories all reported where the bodies were found, and we mapped them. They have one thing in common.”
Ty had taken one of his hand toys out of his pocket, a mass of intermingled pipe cleaners, and was untangling it. Ty had one of the fastest-working minds of anyone Emma knew, and it calmed him to have a way to use his hands to diffuse some of that quickness and intensity. “The bodies have all been dumped at ley lines. All of them,” he said, and Emma could hear the excitement in his voice.