“Delightful,” said Mark as the twins protested. Kit didn’t say anything—he rarely complained. Mark suspected he was silently plotting to get even instead, possibly with everyone he’d ever met.
Magnus examined a large blue ring on his finger. “We’ll do library research. More about the history of the Black Volume. We don’t know who created it, but perhaps who owned it in the past, what it was used for, anything that might point to who Malcolm was working with in 1812.”
“And remember what Julian and Emma asked us for help with,” said Cristina, tapping the phone in her pocket. “It should only take a few minutes to look it up . . . .”
Mark couldn’t help staring at her. She was tucking her dark hair behind her ears, and as she did, the sleeve of her sweater slipped down and he saw the red mark on her wrist. He wanted to go to her, to kiss the mark, to take her pain onto himself.
He looked away from her, but not before he caught the edge of a glance from Kieran. Ty and Livvy and Kit were getting out of their chairs, excitedly chattering, eager to go on their trip. Dru was sitting with her arms crossed. And Magnus was looking between Cristina, Mark, and Kieran thoughtfully, his cat eyes slow and considering.
“We shouldn’t need to look it up at all,” Magnus said. “We have a primary source right here. Kieran, what do you know about catching piskies?”
Emma woke late in the morning, surrounded by warmth. Light was breaking through the unshaded windows and making patterns on the walls like dancing waves. Through the window she could see flashes of blue sky and blue water: a holiday view.
She yawned, stretched—and went still as she realized why she was so warm. She and Julian had somehow wrapped themselves around each other during the night.
Emma froze in horror. Her left arm was thrown across Julian’s body, but she couldn’t just remove it. He had turned toward her, his own arms curved around her back, securing her. Her cheek brushed the smooth skin of his collarbone. Their legs were tangled together as well, her foot resting on his ankle.
She began to slowly detangle herself. Oh God. If Julian woke up it would be so awkward, and everything had been going so well. Their conversation on the train—finding the cottage—talking about Annabel—everything had been comfortable. She didn’t want to lose that, not now.
She edged sideways, slipping her fingers out of his—closer to the edge of the bed—and went over the side with an ungainly tumble. She landed with a thump and a scream that woke Julian, who peered over the side of the bed in confusion.
“Why are you on the floor?”
“I’ve heard rolling out of bed in the morning helps you build up resistance to surprise attacks,” Emma said, lying sprawled on the hardwood.
“Oh yeah?” He sat up and rubbed his eyes. “What does screaming ‘holy crap!’ do?”
“That part’s optional,” she said. She got to her feet with as much dignity as she could muster. “So,” she said. “What’s for breakfast?”
He grinned his low-key grin and stretched. She didn’t look at where his shirt rode up. There was no reason to sail down Sexy Thoughts River to the Sea of Perversion when it wasn’t going to go anywhere. “You hungry?”
“When am I not hungry?” She went over to the table and rooted in her bag for her phone. Several texts from Cristina. Most were about how Cristina was FINE and Emma had NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT and she should STOP TEXTING BECAUSE MAGNUS WAS GOING TO FIX THE BINDING SPELL. Emma sent her a worry face and scrolled down.
“Any word on piskie-catching techniques?” Julian asked.
Julian didn’t say anything. Emma stripped down to her boy shorts and tank top. She saw Julian glance away from her, though it wasn’t anything he’d never seen before—her clothes covered more than a bikini. She grabbed up her towel and soap. “I’m going to shower.”
Maybe she was imagining his reaction. He just nodded and went over to the kitchen, firing up the stove. “No pancakes,” he said. “They don’t have the right stuff to make them.”
“Surprise me,” Emma said, and headed to the bathroom. When she emerged fifteen minutes later, scrubbed clean, her hair tied into two damp braids that dripped onto her T-shirt, Julian had set the table with breakfast—toast, eggs, hot chocolate for her and coffee for him. She slid gratefully onto a chair.
“You smell like eucalyptus,” he said, handing her a fork.
“There’s eucalyptus shower gel in the bathroom.” Emma took a bite of eggs. “Malcolm’s, I guess.” She paused. “I’ve never really thought of serial killers as having shower gel.”
“No one likes a filthy warlock,” said Julian.
Emma winked. “Some might disagree.”
“No comment,” Julian said, spreading peanut butter and Nutella on his toast. “We got a reply to our question.” He held up her phone. “Instructions on how to catch piskies. From Mark, but probably really from Kieran. So first, breakfast, and afterward—piskie hunting.”
“I am so ready to hunt down those tiny adorable creatures and give them what for,” said Emma. “SO READY.”
“Emma . . .”
“I may even tie bows on their heads.”
“We have to interrogate them.”
“Can I get a selfie with one of them first?”
“Eat your toast, Emma.”
Everything sucked, Dru thought. She was lying under the desk in the parlor, arms crossed behind her head. A few feet above her she could see where a message, blurred over time and the years, had been scratched into the wood.
It was quiet in the room, only the clock ticking. The quiet was both a reminder of how lonely she was, and a relief. No one was telling her to go take care of Tavvy, or asking her if she’d play demons and Shadowhunters for the millionth time. No one was demanding she deliver messages or ferry papers back and forth in the library. No one was talking over her, and not listening.
No one was telling her she was too young. In Dru’s opinion, age was a matter of maturity, not years, and she was plenty mature. She’d been eight years old when she’d defended her little brother’s crib with a sword. She’d been eight when she’d seen Julian kill the creature that wore her father’s face, when she’d run through the capital city of Idris as it fell apart in flames and blood.
And she’d stayed calm only a few days ago when Livvy had come to tell her that Uncle Arthur had never run the Institute; it had always been Julian. She’d been very matter-of-fact about it, as if it were no big deal, and she’d glossed over the fact that Diana hadn’t even bothered to invite Dru to the meeting where she’d apparently broken this news. As far as Livvy was concerned, it seemed, the news was useful primarily for guilting Dru into further babysitting.
It wasn’t so much that she hated looking after Tavvy. She didn’t. It was more that she felt she deserved some credit when she made an effort. Not to mention, she’d put up with Great-Aunt Marjorie calling her fat for two months over the summer, and she hadn’t murdered her, which in Dru’s opinion was an epic sign of maturity and self-restraint.
She glanced down at her own round body and sighed. She had never been thin. Most Shadowhunters were—working out for fourteen hours a day tended to have that effect—but she had always been curved and rounded no matter what she did. She was strong and muscular, her body was fit and capable, but she’d always have the hips, breasts, and softness that she did. She was resigned to it. Unfortunately, the Great-Aunt Marjories of the world weren’t.
There was a clunk. Something in the room had fallen. Dru froze. Was someone else in here with her? She heard a soft voice swearing—not in English, but in Spanish. It couldn’t be Cristina, though. Cristina never swore, and besides, the voice was masculine.
Diego? Her crush-harboring heart skipped a beat, and she popped up from behind the desk.