Thanks for the reviews and subscriptions and favorites guys! They're much appreciated. I'm trying to keep the chapters long, so the actual plot might take a bit to happen because I don't want to just rush into it. But I do want an opinion... Should the next chapter be Will's tour of the institute or should I skip ahead to classes actually starting? I need my readers' opinions, so I know what to write, so please please review and tell me what you want! Thanks for reading guys! Oh, and Jace seems oddly nice and not sarcastic in this chapter. He's hungover and half asleep, so that's why if you're curious as to why he's acting so... not arrogant and sarcastic. Oh, and excuse any grammatical errors. I wanted to get this up ASAP, and I'm sleepy. Guess that's all for this chapter. Review!
I can be pensive,
You can be so sure.
You'll be the poison,
You'll be the cure.
I'm alone on the journey,
I'm alive nonetheless,
And when you do your very worst,
Mmmm, it feels the best.
by The All American Rejects
I stumbled through the hallway in a haze. Although I didn't drink any alcohol, I still felt drunk─on what I didn't know. I could sense the unfamiliar burning of happiness coursing through my body. Excitement sizzled throughout my veins.
I wanted to laugh, or maybe cry. My emotions were completely strung out. I felt oddly serene, possibly from the exhaustion. It was half past three, and I forced myself to leave the still raging party. Lots of people were still in Sebastian's room drinking and smoking. Magnus had left with Alec around one, and Jem left around two with an excuse about checking on Tessa because she was sick.
Quietly I opened the door to my room. Soft snores floated from the bed across the room. Kaelie's small form was curled into Jace's long body. Jace's long legs fell over the edge of the bed. He looked oddly uncomfortable even as he took up the whole bed; he even had a slight grimace resting on his face.
Quickly I peeled off the tight clothes Magnus made me wear and pulled on fleece shorts and a tank top. Before I slid into my bed, I glanced over at Kaelie's bed again. Holding back a gasp from shock, I stared at Jace who had sat up and was gazing at me silently.
Blushing furiously, I crawled into bed wondering if Jace saw me change. I rolled over to face the wall in an attempt to douse the sting of embarrassment. Then I slowly drifted off to sleep.
An insistent tapping woke me up. A loud groan sounded from the other side of the room, and I figured it was only Kaelie. Slowly I stood up and went to open the door.
Magnus, dressed in white shorts and a purple blazer, looked annoyingly wide awake. Standing timidly behind Magnus was Alec. He smiled apologetically.
"What do you want, Magnus? I was sleeping." I tried to sound firm, but it just came out raspy.
"It looks like you were catching up on your beauty sleep, hm?" He grinned at me wickedly. I stared at him, too tired to make a coherent response to his teasing. He rolled his eyes petulantly. "Since you don't seem to be in the mood for jokes, I'll just move along. Alec, here, wanted to know if you've seen his close friend Jace. You know, the golden boy? He's worried for his health."
"When I got back last night, he was asleep with Kaelie." I said before turning around. The only thing I could see was blonde hair barely hanging out from underneath the covers.
"Well we saw Kaelie eating in the café with Aline a couple minutes ago, but Jace wasn't with her." Alec spoke up.
"Then I think that's him." I pointed my thumb towards Kaelie's bed.
Alec looked shocked. "Can I, uh, come in?" He seemed slightly flustered.
"Sure, go ahead." I moved out of the way and sat on my bed. Rubbing my eyes groggily, I watched as Alec crossed the room toward the bed.
Alec poked the body harshly. A groan ensued with Jace rolling away from Alec immediately. Then Alec snatched the blanket and ripped it off Jace. "Get up, Jace!" he ordered.
Jace's eyes flew open. His hair was ruffled and on one side, it was laying flat on his head. He sat up and glared at Alec menacingly, his eyes closed in slits, casting dark shadows down his cheeks. "What the hell do you want, Alec? I was sleeping." His tone came out thick and husky.
"Hey, that's almost exactly what Clary said to me!" Magnus interrupted gleefully from the door.
Alec glared quickly at Magnus and then returned his gaze back on Jace. "It's twelve and you're sleeping in Kaelie's bed. You need to go to your room." Alec snapped crossly, sounding like an upset parent.
"Leave me alone, Alec. Kaelie doesn't care if I sleep in here."
"Well Clary might."
"I really could care less who cares. I'm going back to sleep." He mumbled something else so low that I couldn't hear it.
Alec sighed as Jace buried himself back under the covers. Alec stomped back over to Magnus, and Magnus petted his head soothingly.
"If you don't want a monster in your room when he wakes up, I'd go pick up coffee and something for him to eat. He'll have a massive hangover. He likes his coffee black and he'll eat anything in the morning." Alec said to me before leaving the room.
Magnus shrugged in confusion and followed Alec. Light snores soon enveloped the room. Silently I crossed the room and pulled the cover away from Jace's head.
His face was relaxed in a peaceful demeanor. He looked much more comfortable than he did the night before. His mouth was opened slightly, and his arm was slung carelessly across his body.
I went back to my side of the room and grabbed some clothes to take a shower. Despite being exhausted, I knew I needed to get out of my room. With one last glance toward Jace's sleeping body, I left my room.
After I emerged from the steaming shower, I quickly wrapped one of the white towels provided in the bathroom around my body. As I walked to where my clothes were perched on a counter, someone walked into the showering area of the bathroom. Gripping my towel in fright, I realized it was Will.
"Oh, Clarissa, fancy seeing you here." He said with amusement clear in his voice as his eyes roamed up and down my body. He wore only gym shorts, and his dark hair had droplets of water clinging to the ends. His chest, smooth and pale, was exposed─and muscular.
I squeezed my eyes shut and opened them again to look at his face. He was grinning at my discomfort, seeming to enjoy the awkward situation we were in. "William," I nodded curtly, fastening the towel tighter to my body and grabbing my clothes. "If you don't mind, I'm going to get dressed." I made to go into one of the changing stalls, but he reached out and grabbed my hand.
"Oh, but why? I quite like you in just a towel. I bet you'd look even better without it." He winked impishly before releasing my hand.
Ignoring his remark, I spun around and practically ran into the changing stall. I dressed slowly, hoping that Will would be gone by the time I exited the stall. I opened the door slowly, peering into the empty bathroom. Will had disappeared without a trace, so I dropped my used towel in the dirty clothes hamper and exited the bathroom.
"I suppose the clothes look on you isn't so bad." Will's voice muttered from beside the door. He was leaning casually against the wall with a smirk on his face. This time, though, he had a shirt on.
"What do you want?" I sighed, walking back toward my room to leave my pajamas in my room.
"Just to talk. I'm fairly sure I didn't make a very good impression last night at the party." Not surprisingly, he followed me.
I opened the door to my room and dropped my clothes on my bed. Grabbing my brush from my bag, I turned to face Will, who was staring at the bed on the other side of the room. "Why do you think that?" I asked, pulling his attention away from Jace.
"I rarely make good impressions at parties," His eyes were slightly lighter than they were last night. "Well, unless I get a person in bed. Then I probably gave that person the best possible impression of me ever."
I scoffed at him as I finished brushing my hair. "You're delightfully modest."
"Ah, 'Modesty: the gentle art of enhancing your charm by pretending not to be aware of it.' Hardly worth the effort when you're as charming as me."
I pushed him away from the door of my room and shut the door behind me. "Do you really believe so?" I sniffled as we made our way down the hallway.
"Why, of course. There's no other man here that's more charming than me, other than Jem. He's a different kind of charming, though."
"Well, Mr. Charming, show me the way to the café. I'm on a mission."
"It would be my pleasure." He bowed and took my hand, leading me toward the elevator. "If you want, I could give you a tour of the whole institute. There's nothing else to do, and it couldn't hurt."
"Sure, but I have to bring coffee and food back to Jace. Alec said he'll be a monster without it."
"What is he doing in your room anyways?" Will wrinkled his nose.
"I guess Kaelie left him this morning." I shrugged.
"He's not your responsibility."
"I never said he was. I figured I'd be nice since his girlfriend obviously isn't."
Will barked out a laugh. "Jace doesn't have a girlfriend. He hasn't had one of those since we were like seven!"
"How do you know that?" Will had pushed the button to the first floor, and the elevator was descending slowly.
"He's my cousin. We've lived together since we were five. We got send here together when we were thirteen. I know practically everything about him."
"Well, if she isn't his girlfriend, then what is she?" I asked sardonically.
The elevator doors opened and we got off. "She's his little sex toy. Well, nevermind, they just use each other for that."
"Do they really use each other like that?" I asked in surprise. Jace didn't exactly seem nice, but he didn't seem like was like that.
Will shrugged and gestured for me to follow him down a hallway that was across from the staircase. The hallway had no doors, only one that opened up into a large room at the very end of it. There were bay windows divided out through the hallway, and the floor was a dark hardwood. The impeccably white walls had bright golden and silver swirls that curved and twisted below the ceiling with a mesmerizing beauty.
The room we entered wasn't really empty, but it wasn't full either. Instead of the long, ugly cafeteria tables I was expecting, there were multiple small, circular tables all throughout the large room. On the far left against the wall, many buffet tables were connected, and they took up the whole length of the wall. There was no stage for teachers or administrators to sit at like my old school, St. Xaviers. The room seemed designed for only the people living at the institute.
"I'm glad you wanted to come here. I'm starved. Jem told me I didn't eat anything after I got drunk last night." Will said before starting his long strives over to the buffet tables.
Slowly I followed him. He wasn't really the type of guy I'd really hang out with, and in all actuality, he kind of reminded me of Sean, just far more better looking. He definitely had more charm than Sean did, but the attitude was all the same. He turned around to look at me; his dark eyes searched mine imploringly. He already had half a plate full of food.
I grabbed a plate too and started filling my plate. "Are you and Jace alike?" I asked in hopes of getting Will to talk. His deep, smooth voice was oddly soothing. It brought me back to when I was younger and Jonathan would read me stories after Valentine stopped coming home at night.
"Absolutely not." he scoffed sliding down the bar to collect more food. "The only thing we have in common is our last name."
"Herondale. My dad and his dad are brothers. They look and act nothing alike. Sometimes I wonder if one of them were adopted. Probably Stephen, Jace's dad. For some reason he happened to be one of the only Herondales with blonde hair." He shrugged as if he didn't honestly care about the whole situation anyways.
Will's plate was full, and he turned to smile at me. "Wanna sit down and eat? After we finish you can grab whatever for Jace to drop off in your room."
I nodded my head and followed him to a table. We ate together in silence, me nibbling softly and him digging into the gigantic pile on his plate. With his head bent over, his dark hair fell over his eyes and his thick eyelashes cast long shadows over his high cheekbones.
"So what are you here for? Not many people come here so late." Will commented watching me intently.
"What do you mean?" I asked, covering my mouth as I spoke to hide the food still in my mouth.
"You get to leave this place when you're eighteen. Well, you do after you graduate. But still, you're seventeen, right? So that can't mean that your parents sent you here for a good education. It's too late for that."
"Well, yeah, I got sent here for lots of things, I guess…" I bit my lip as I thought about the past summer. I knew what had pushed Valentine and my mom to send me here, and it probably wasn't because of the whole eating disorder either.
"So what did you do? Skip too much school? Got caught drunk? You don't seem like the type to be very wild." he smirked at me before taking a drink of his coffee.
"It's a long story." I stated, hoping that he'd drop it.
"I have time." His response was quick, almost like he expected my answer.
"Do you really want to know?"
"Of course. I wouldn't ask if I didn't."
I sighed and began the story. "When I was fourteen, my brother left my family. It wasn't exactly running away because he had just graduated and he had been eighteen since January. He just up and left one night a couple days after he graduated. None of us expected it, but I wasn't surprised. My dad owns this large corporation, Morgenstern Inc. I'm not sure what he does because I haven't actually had a real conversation with him since I was eight. But after he started making money, he would barely come home, and whenever he was home, he would fight with Mom constantly. I thought he had gotten used to it, but I guess not.
"Then Mom and Dad stopped fighting. Almost all conversations in the house stopped. They didn't care that Jonathan left without a trace. I was pissed. How could they just forget about him just like that? It had only been a month… So Callie, my best friend since like first grade, and I started going to all these parties. I knew almost everyone from the school and even the colleges that were close. Jonathan was popular, and everyone loved him, so they all knew me too.
"Mom and Dad didn't really care I guess. I would come home at three or four in the morning, sometimes I wouldn't even come home, but they never got upset. They wouldn't call to see where I was or ground me for coming home wasted or high." Taking a deep breath, I paused to check Will's reaction. He had his plate pushed aside and was leaning on the table with an unreadable look on his face, so I continued.
"A year later, Callie died," My voice cracked on the word. My heart constricted at the word, and my stomach turned as the memory slammed through my brain. "It was at a party one night. This one guy─I think it was his party─had found her in the bathroom. It was so scary… After her funeral I stopped partying so hard. I still went to parties with Sean," I resisted the urge to spit his name. "but I stopped drinking and doing drugs.
"Because I stopped using so quickly, I fell into some sort of depression. I stopped eating. I almost died. I would say that was what broke my parents, but I doubt that was what made them send me here. Something awful happened a few weeks after I got out of the hospital. It probably ruined me forever."
"What was it?" Will asked quickly.
"I've never told anyone… My parents are the only people who know about it. I haven't even told my brother."
"You can trust me."
"I never said I couldn't. It's hard to talk about… maybe another day?"
"Okay, I can wait. Are you done eating?" He stood up and stretched, smiling lazily at me.
I nodded my head and followed him toward the trash bins. As we turned around, Kaelie and another girl blocked our path. "Kaelie. Aline." Will acknowledged the two girls. Aline was a small, thin Asian-looking girl. With brown hair and soft eyes, she was easily pretty.
"I heard that your taking care of Jace for me. I just wanted to make sure that was true." Kaelie said it slowly as if I couldn't understand her.
"I'm bringing him coffee and food, yeah." I replied crossly.
"Good, be sure to tell him that I'll be waiting for him at the pool whenever he decides to get his lazy ass up. K, thanks." She brushed her blonde hair back and threw a dark grin at me.
"Sure, whatever. Oh, and could you move your clothes? I need to unpack." I said, remembering Magnus's threat to throw all her clothes on her bed.
"Whatever, if I get the chance, I might do that tonight. But don't expect anything." she snapped before spinning on her heel and walking away.
Aline smiled at me softly before following after Kaelie instantly. Will made a noise that sounded like a groan and a gag. I looked up to see him with his nose pinched up and a grimace on his face. "What's wrong?"
"I don't like her." He moved back toward the buffet bar and I filled up a Styrofoam cup full of coffee. Leaving it black, I grabbed a few donuts and bacon strips and threw them in a takeout box.
"Kaelie? Why not?"
"'I might do that,'" he mimicked in a fake, high pitched voice. "She's such a bitch for no reason."
I laughed at his mockery of Kaelie. "I can tell."
We made our way back toward the lobby and the elevator. We passed Ms. Dark, who was sitting at the front desk with a look on her face that could kill. Children of all ages ran through the lobby, and parents were whispering to the few kids who were speaking to them. I could almost picture Jocelyn in one of the cream chairs, calling me to come look at her recent pieces of artwork. We rode the elevator in silence.
"So what about you?" I asked, breaking the silence.
Will turned to stare at me. His blue eyes swallowing me up whole. "What do you mean?"
"Why are you here?"
"It's a long story."
"I have time." He grinned at me as he realized that we had swapped lines.
"My story is a little darker than yours, Clarissa. Although your story was quite intense. How is it that you aren't like Kaelie or Jessamine? You know, pissed at the world?" We got off the elevator, and the light from a window bathed his face in a golden hue.
"I can handle it."
"What if I just tell you bits and pieces, and the day that you tell me your dark secret, I'll tell you mine?" he proposed with a sly grin.
"Okay, seems fair. Then tell me something interesting. Tell me about your family." I ordered before he could change his mind.
"My parents aren't really that interesting. My mom wasn't exactly what my grandparents wanted as a daughter-in-law, so my dad moved away from them. He loved my mom, and she loved him. I had two sisters, Ella and Cecily." His expression darkened as he spoke.
"You had two sisters?" I automatically asked. Mentally slapping myself for being so insensitive, I spoke again. "You don't have to reply to that."
"No, it's alright. Ella died when I was thirteen. I haven't seen Cecily since I moved here. She writes to me, though. My dad has apparently become a bit of an avid gambler. They've moved three times, and now they're living in someone else's house. It's pathetic." He squeezed his eyes shut and his mouth was set in a hard line.
"Are you and Jace close friends?" I asked to change the topic. I didn't really like seeing the dark side of Will. It was almost like a storm, and I was too afraid to see what would happen when the thunder and lightening arrived.
His laugh was halfhearted. "I don't know. We know everything about each other. I'd compare us to siblings. We're close, but not like best friends close. I do enjoy his company from time to time."
"Oh." We made it to my room. "Will you open the door for me?" He nodded his head and punched in the combination as I said the numbers. "I'll be right back, and you can show me the institute, okay?"
Without waiting for his response, I stepped inside my room and walked over to Kaelie's bed. Jace was still curled underneath the sheets, so I set the food and coffee on the nightstand. I grabbed some paper and a pen from my bag and started writing a note to Jace, so he'd know the food and coffee were for him.
Before I could finish writing, a warm hand grasped my wrist. Jerking in surprise, I smeared the pen across the page. I looked up to stare into golden eyes. Jace was lying on his stomach, but he had leaned from the bed to stretch out toward me. Most of his body wasn't under the covers any longer, and I could see the curve of his back─and the absence of any clothing from his waist down. My eyes instinctively snapped back to his face.
"What are you doing?" he asked in a low, raspy voice.
"Well, Alec told me that you'd need coffee and food to wake up in a decent mood, so I was leaving you a note…" I whispered as he continued to stare at me.
"Who are you?" His voice betrayed the curiosity that he lacked on his face.
"Clary Morgenstern. I just got here yesterday. You're in my room."
"No, this is Kaelie's room." he argued sitting up. I stood up and crossed my arms in front of my chest.
"This is my room now, too." I snapped, suddenly annoyed with the golden boy in front of me.
"I'm sorry. I just can't remember anything. Do you know what happened last night?" he covered his body up, realizing that he was naked.
"Not really. You came to the party late last night and got into a little argument with Sebastian. Then you and Kaelie left, saying you were coming here. That reminds me, Kaelie said to tell you that she'd be waiting for you at the pool."
He groaned and wiped his eyes with the heels of his hands. "Can I just go back to sleep?" I half wondered if he was speaking to me or to himself. I waited for him to speak again. "Thanks for the coffee, Clary. I'm Jace by the way. I guess you're not too used to finding naked men in your room, huh?" He smirked at me, which resembled the look that Will had been giving me since earlier this morning.
"No, not really, but I suppose I should, right?" I asked with a laugh.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, you and Kaelie do this often, don't you?"
He frowned slightly. The look made him look oddly innocent. "Unfortunately." he mumbled.
"Clarissa, does it really take you that long to leave some stuff and write a letter?" Will burst into the room and his eyes met mine.
"William," Jace nodded at him. "I see the new girl has captured your attention already." His voice held a strange tint to it, as if he was implying something.
Will's playful smile changed into a grimace. "Jace, I see that humility is not a virtue for you."
Jace grinned wickedly, showing off his front incisor that was chipped. Subconsciously I decided that it was an endearing trait. One imperfection that somehow made him even more attractive. "When did you start talking to other people? I thought Jem was the only person you spoke to now. You know, since the whole Tessa situation."
"Shut up, Jace. At least I didn't demoralize her." Will snapped. He stood at the door in an angry cloud. I felt stuck in the middle of an invisible battle.
Before Jace could come up with something sarcastic to say, I stepped in. "It was nice talking to you, Jace, but Will and I were just leaving. I'll see you later. Enjoy your breakfast." I crossed the room to Will and pulled him out of the door.
The last thing I saw of Jace was the outline of his naked body as he stood up and stretched. Will slammed the door and stalked down the hallway back toward the elevator. I hurried to catch up with him, unsure of what had just happened.
It seemed stupid to ask what had happened, so I let him lead me into the elevator without asking questions. It seemed like I had just gotten involved in something that I'd eventually regret even knowing about.