Maia was waiting for them in MacCarren Park, on one of the narrow paths dusted with the skeletons of fallen leaves. She wore a gray leather jacket and a soft pink hat, pulled down over her ears, from which her wildly curling hair escaped in a golden-brown halo. She waved tentatively as they neared her; the first words out of her mouth were:
“Did you hear about Luke?”
They all nodded — Simon had told Isabelle and Jordan what he knew on the L-train ride over — and she fell into step beside Jordan as they went through the park, a moving foursome. Jordan had his hands in his pockets and was talking quietly to Maia, werewolf to werewolf. Simon glanced at Isabelle,walking silently beside him.
Weak November sunlight had come out from behind the clouds and picked out reddish highlights in her hair. She smelled like his own apple shampoo and Shadowhunter. “So,” he said. “Do you want me to ask why you were passed out in my bed last night when I came home, or not?”
“I didn’t pass out in your bed,” she said, as they swung left on Manhattan Avenue. The G train stop was there, and a guy was leaning against the railing, picking out a tuneless song on a guitar. Across the street was a Thrifty store where you could still get ice cream cones for 50 cents. “I passed out in your living room and Jordan put me in your bedroom.”
“Well, if it wasn’t Jordan, someone broke into your house and put me in your bed. Personally I prefer the Jordan theory. Less creepy.”
“It’s not that, it — what were you doing, drunk, with Jordan? He doesn’t drink much.”
“I’d imagine not. He has awful taste in tequila.”
“Iz.” Simon put his hand on her wrist. “I only want to know why you came over.”
She turned her head away from him, her shining black hair slipping across her back. There was a small Mark on the lower left side of her throat, just above her collarbone. It looked vulnerable, somehow. Simon wanted to brush it with his fingertips, but kept his hands in his pockets. “Everything sucks,” she said. “I saw Helen and Aline last night. We had dinner. They’re just so happy, and I keep thinking —” She bit her lip. “My parents are getting divorced, I think,” she said. “Alec is happy but I never see him. Jace is [redacted-sorry guys!]. Max is dead. Clary —”
“I get it,” he said, gently. “You needed someone to talk to and you couldn’t think of anyone else.”
“No!” Isabelle said, frustration clear in her voice. “I wanted to talk to you. I always — I mean, I like to talk to you. Even if things weren’t like this, I would . . . “ She looked at him, sidelong. “I mean, we did date.”
“But it wasn’t — it was never serious,” Simon said awkwardly. “I didn’t think you wanted . . .”
“Did you? Want it to be serious?” Isabelle asked. There was a certain stiffness in her voice — pride, Simon guessed. Isabelle wasn’t the sort of girl who made the first move with guys. She wasn’t the sort of girl who had to.
Isabelle made an exasperated noise. “Look, I didn’t come by last night because you’re number six on some list and everyone else is unavailable. I came because — I like you. You make me feel better. Maybe it’s something about your face.”
“My face makes you feel better?” So she was saying he was reassuring, sweet, dependable, all of those things; things he knew Clary thought he was; things that hadn’t helped her look at him instead of Jace, not for five minutes. And Isabelle liked her guys dangerous, not . . . reassuring. Reassuring was for stuffed animals. How could you be a vampire and not be sexually threatening? He wasn’t sure, but somehow, he’d managed it.
He was saved more torturous conversation by their arrival at Magnus’ apartment, the lobby of which, as usual, smelled like a combination of cat pee and old pizza. Simon made his way up the stairs after Isabelle — remembering the first time he’d been here, crushed out on Izzy and secretly hoping to make Clary jealous, not that that had worked. Magnus’ apartment had been full of rainbow smoke and Downworlders; now, as they filed in, it was quiet and full of late morning sunlight.
Magnus, Jocelyn and Alec were seated around a long rectangular table. Magnus was clutching a cup of coffee, wearing a dark green jumpsuit with yellow racing stripes, his dark hair an unruly mass of bed-head. Alec looked like . . . Alec. He raised his eyebrows at his sister as she came into the room, but didn’t seem inclined to kill either her, or Simon.
But Jocelyn looked at Simon with eyes as piercing as nails.“Where’s Clary?” she said, tightly.