“I’m going to kill Maureen,” Isabelle said. She had both doors of Alec’s wardrobe open and was flinging clothes onto the floor in heaps.
Simon was lying barefoot on one of the beds—Jace’s? Alec’s?—having kicked off his alarming buckled boots. Though his skin didn’t really bruise, it felt amazing to be on a soft surface after having spent so many hours on the hard, dirty floor of the Dumort. “You’ll have to fight your way through all the vampires of New York to do it,” he said. “Apparently they love her.”
“No accounting for taste.” Isabelle held up a dark blue sweater Simon recognized as Alec’s, mostly from the holes in the cuffs. “So Raphael brought you here so you could talk to my dad?”
Simon propped himself up on his elbows to watch her. “Do you think that’ll be okay?”
“Sure, why not. My dad loves talking.” She sounded bitter. Simon leaned forward, but when she raised her head, she was smiling at him and he thought he must have imagined it. “Although, who knows what will happen, with the attack on the Citadel tonight.” She worried at her lower lip. “It could mean they cancel the meeting, or move it earlier. Sebastian’s obviously a bigger problem than they thought. He shouldn’t even be able to get that close to the Citadel.”
“Well,” Simon said. “He is a Shadowhunter.”
“No, he’s not,” Isabelle said fiercely, and yanked a green sweater down from a wooden hanger. “Besides. He’s a man.”
“Sorry,” Simon said. “It must be nerve-racking, waiting to see how the battle turns out. How many people did they let through?”
“Fifty or sixty,” Isabelle said. “I wanted to go, but—they wouldn’t let me.” She had the guarded tone in her voice that meant they were closing in on a subject she didn’t want to talk about.
“I would have worried about you,” he said.
He saw her mouth quirk into a reluctant smile. “Try this on,” she said, and tossed him the green sweater, slightly less frayed than the rest.
“Are you sure it’s okay for me to borrow clothes?”
“You can’t go around like that,” she said. “You look like you escaped from a romance novel.” Isabelle laid a hand dramatically against her forehead. “Oh, Lord Montgomery, what do you mean to do with me in this bedroom when you have me all alone? An innocent maiden, and unprotected?” She unzipped her jacket and tossed it to the floor, revealing a white tank top. She gave him a sultry look. “Is my virtue safe?”
“I, ah—what?” Simon said, temporarily deprived of vocabulary.
“I know you are a dangerous man,” Isabelle declared, sashaying toward the bed. She unzipped her trousers and kicked them to the floor. She was wearing black boy shorts underneath. “Some call you a rake. Everybody knows you are a devil with the ladies with your poetically puffed shirt and irresistible pants.” She pounced onto the bed and crawled over to him, eyeing him like a cobra considering making a snack out of a mongoose. “I pray you will consider my innocence,” she breathed. “And my poor, vulnerable heart.”
Simon decided this was a lot like role-playing in D&D, but potentially much more fun. “Lord Montgomery considers nothing but his own desires,” he said in a gravelly voice. “I’ll tell you something else. Lord Montgomery has a very large estate . . . and pretty extensive grounds, too.”
Isabelle giggled, and Simon felt the bed shake under them. “Okay, I didn’t expect you to get quite so into this.”
“Lord Montgomery always surpasses expectations,” Simon said, seizing Isabelle around the waist and rolling her over so she was beneath him, her black hair spread out onto the pillow. “Mothers, lock up your daughters, then lock up your maidservants, then lock up yourselves. Lord Montgomery is on the prowl.”
Isabelle framed his face between her hands. “My lord,” she said, her eyes shining. “I fear I can no longer withstand your manly charms and virile ways. Please do with me as you will.”
Simon wasn’t sure what Lord Montgomery would do, but he knew what he wanted to do. He bent down and pressed a lingering kiss to her mouth. Her lips parted under his, and suddenly everything was all sweet dark heat and Isabelle’s lips brushing over his, first teasing, then harder. She smelled, as she always did, dizzyingly of roses and blood. He pressed his lips to the pulse point at her throat, mouthing over it gently, not biting, and Izzy gasped; her hands went to the front of his shirt. He was momentarily concerned about its lack of buttons, but Isabelle grasped the material in her strong hands and ripped the shirt in half, leaving it dangling off his shoulders.
“Goodness, that stuff rips like paper,” she exclaimed, reaching to pull her tank top off. She was halfway through the action when the door opened and Alec walked into the room.
“Izzy, are you—” he began. His eyes flew wide, and he backed up fast enough to smack his head into the wall behind him. “What is he doing here?”
Isabelle tugged her tank top back down and glared at her brother. “You don’t knock now?”
“It—It’s my bedroom!” Alec spluttered. He seemed to be deliberately trying not to look at Izzy and Simon, who were indeed in a very compromising position. Simon rolled quickly off Isabelle, who sat up, brushing herself off as if for lint. Simon sat up more slowly, trying to hold the torn edges of his shirt together. “Why are all my clothes on the floor?” Alec said.
“I was trying to find something for Simon to wear,” Isabelle explained. “Maureen put him in leather pants and a puffy shirt because he was being her romance-novel slave.”
“He was being her what?”
“Her romance-novel slave,” Isabelle repeated, as if Alec were being particularly dense.
Alec shook his head as if he were having a bad dream. “You know what? Don’t explain. Just—put your clothes on, both of you.”
“You’re not going to leave—are you?” Isabelle said in a sulky tone, sliding off the bed. She picked up her jacket and shrugged it on, then tossed Simon the green sweater. He happily swapped it for the poet shirt, which was in ribbons anyway.
“No. It’s my room, and besides, I need to talk to you, Isabelle.” Alec’s voice was terse. Simon grabbed up jeans and shoes from the floor and went into the bathroom to change, deliberately taking plenty of time with it. When he came back out, Isabelle was sitting on the rumpled bed, looking strained and tense.
“So they’re opening the Portal back up to bring everyone through? Good.”
“It is good, but what I felt”—Alec put his hand unconsciously over his upper arm, near his parabatai rune—“that isn’t good. Jace isn’t dead,” he hastened to add as Isabelle paled. “I would know if he were. But something happened. Something with the heavenly fire, I think.”
“Do you know if he’s okay now? And Clary?” Isabelle demanded.
“Wait, back up,” Simon interrupted. “What’s this about Clary? And Jace?”
“They went through the Portal,” Isabelle said grimly. “To the battle at the Citadel.”
Simon realized he had unconsciously reached for the gold ring on his right hand and was gripping it with his fingers. “Aren’t they too young?”
“They didn’t exactly have permission.” Alec was leaning back against the wall. He looked tired, the shadows under his eyes bruise-blue. “The Consul tried to stop them, but she didn’t have time.”
Simon turned on Isabelle. “And you didn’t tell me?”
Isabelle wouldn’t meet his eyes. “I knew you’d freak out.”
Alec was looking from Isabelle to Simon. “You didn’t tell him?” he said. “About what happened at the Gard?”
Isabelle crossed her arms over her chest and looked defiant. “No. I bumped into him in the street, and we came upstairs, and—and it’s none of your business.”
“It is if you do it in my bedroom,” said Alec. “If you’re going to use Simon to make yourself forget you’re angry and upset, fine, but do it in your own room.”
“I wasn’t using him—”
Simon thought about Isabelle’s eyes, shining when she’d seen him standing in the street. He’d thought it was happiness, but he realized now it had more likely been unshed tears. The way she’d been walking toward him, her head down, her shoulders curved in, as if she’d been holding herself together.
“You were, though,” he said. “Or you would have told me what happened. You didn’t even mention Clary or Jace, or that you were worried, or anything.” He felt his stomach clench as he realized how deftly Isabelle had deflected his questions and distracted him with kissing, and he felt stupid. He’d thought she was glad to see him specifically, but maybe he could have been anyone.
Isabelle’s face had gone very still. “Please,” she said. “It’s not like you asked.” She had been fiddling with her hair; now she reached up and began twisting it, almost savagely, into a knot on the back of her head. “If you’re both going to stand there blaming me, maybe you should just go—”
“I’m not blaming you,” Simon began, but Isabelle was already on her feet. She snatched the ruby pendant, pulled it none too gently over his head, and dropped it back around her own neck. “I never should have given it to you,” she said, her eyes bright.
“It saved my life,” Simon said.
That made her pause. “Simon . . . ,” she whispered.