Alec summoned us to the library this morning, ending yesterday's break. His stance and expression are all business, and I find my gaze traveling to him every once in a while. It's his eyes that I'm trying to decipher, a practise I've taken pleasure doing since I met him; sometimes they were light blue like the clear sky in midday, and sometimes they're dark blue like the ocean at night. The shades vary along with his mood, something I've always found fascinating about him.
"So, according to the high warlock," Alec starts leaning over the map that he set over the table, and I see Nate and Maya shift uncomfortably at the mention of the dude. If I don't find out what happened, I'm most probably going to tear my hair from its roots as the curiosity eats away at my insides, "the biggest disturbance happened here." He points to the location with his finger, and he looks up at us.
"I asked Eliza to look it up for me from Alicante." Nate says, and Maya's face falls at the mention of the girl. I'm sooooo having a conversation with her later. "It's a club located right outside of the city, owned by a warlock. The place is frequented by Downworlders, some Shadowhunters off duty, and a few people with the sight. The place can hold a large number of people." He explains. Alec watches him intently, and somehow, I wish it had been me who'd brought the news for him.
Wait, what am I thinking?!
We're all standing around the table. Lynn has recovered and is looking as good as ever. Nick seems a little annoyed, and I can tell it's due to meeting Adam yesterday. A tiny part of me feels regret about it …
"We'll be heading there tonight." Alec says. "See if we can find anything." He pauses as his gaze travels from one of us to the next. "Wear something nice."
I stare at my reflection in the mirror, unsure. Alec told us to dress nicely, but I'm sure he meant suitable enough for a club with such a reputation. "Maya, do you think I should opt for skinny jeans instead?" I ask her reflection in the mirror. "I don't feel comfortable in this skirt. I didn't think it was this short when I bought it."
I'm in her room, since we decided to get ready together. Maya's been sitting on her bed for the past ten minutes, staring off in the distance. She's wearing a short glimmering midnight blue dress, and her straightened hair is down. Even with the little makeup she put, she looks amazing. Apparently all the Montclaires do. I, on the other hand, have a little too many curves for my liking. Training in my sports bra and leggings is one thing, but going to a club is another one completely.
"Maya." I say walking up to her and taking the spot beside her on the bed. "Are you alright?"
Maya looks at me, noticing me for the first time. "Yeah. Yeah, I'm great."
"No, you're not. What happened between you and Nate?"
"You know how that asshole doesn't know when to quit." She says, referring to the high warlock of Toronto, and I nod. "Well, he said that a kiss would repay him for his favor." I feel rage growing inside me. I am so killing him the next time I lay hands on him. "Well, he didn't precise who would kiss whom, so I went and kissed Nate. Just like that."
I feel my mouth forming an O. Then I realize something. "Maya! That is awesome! Right?" I say, not understanding her disappointment.
"No, Kate!" Maya snaps, fully turning to face me. "That is not awesome! Ever since it happened, Nate wouldn't even look at me! He probably thinks I'm a whore, kissing guys out of the blue. I … wasn't thinking straight."
"He's not talking to you 'cause he's embarrassed. Not because he thinks you're … you know. He probably has feelings for you too!" I try. "Nate doesn't strike me as the shy type."
"No Kate, he's embarrassed because I put him in such a scandalous situation. He's going to hate me forever now. I wish I just took your advice and went for Jake."
"Maya, that's not true. You just need to talk to him about it."
"How am I supposed to do that when he's avoiding me like the plague!"
I'm about to tell her that it's her who's been avoiding him like the plague when a knock sounds at the door.
"Come in!" Maya calls, and the door opens, revealing Alec. He's dressed all in black, in skinny jeans and combat boots. His shirts stretches over his muscled chest and arms, and his skin looks paler in contrast to his clothes. His hair is styled in spikes, and I almost tell him he cleans up nice.
"You girls are ready?" He asks.
"Yeah." We say in unison before standing up, and Alec's gaze lingers on my outfit. I dressed into a golden glittering skirt and a black plain tube top didn't do much of a job at hiding my curves. I let down my wavy brown hair, hoping it could offer the minimal of coverage. My endurance rune is burning, and I'm pretty sure it has to do with my black lace up heels, which I've been considering trading with my converse.
"Um … Alec?" I ask, and he finally snaps out of it. Color taints his cheeks, and I feel my heart rate speed up.
This can't be …
"Uh, yeah." He starts. "I'll meet you guys downstairs."
When he leaves the room, I'm met with Maya's smug grin. "What?" I ask.
"Did you not notice the way he ate you up with his eyes?" She asks giddily.
"Gosh, Maya, forget it. Alec's like family." I say, though it sounds wrong, even to my own ears.
"Keep telling yourself that." She says, starting for the door. "I bet he's already planning how many babies you're going to have."
I feel my cheeks flame at her words, and a look into the mirror confirms that I'm turning bright red.
On the way downstairs, I can't help but think about Alec. He's my best friend and was the first Shadowhunter friend I made. He never gave up on me, despite how weak I was when I started training at the institute. He was always there, encouraging me. He was like the older brother I never had, and I was like a younger sister to him … right?
I walk out the door of the institute and make my way to the east gate through the gardens. The sun is setting, and I shiver lightly at the drop in temperature. Once outside, I find my teammates standing in front of the black SUV we were given for our mission. Lynn looks stunning in a velvet dress the color of garnet, matching her lipstick and heels. The dress clung to her perfect silhouette, and the contrast to her blonde hair, which was held high, a few curly strands falling loosely. Nick couldn't take his eyes off her for half a second, and I turned away before I gagged.
I looked at Nate, who, even in slim light blue jeans and a V-neck white t-shirt looked hot as hell.
Through the connection, I can feel her pain. I study Nate's expression. He doesn't seem angry at Maya at all. She's got it all wrong. He's just … shy. He just needs a little encouraging. Something I can manage right now.
"Okay, Nick, get your GPS working. Everyone, in the car." Alec commands, opening the door to the driver's seat. Even as a Shadowhunter, he got his driving license for cases like this. My chest flutters a little for no reason.
Damnit Kate, calm down!
Nick and Lynn claim the first row of seats, leaving only one row behind. Clearly trying to escape sitting with Nate in the back, Maya goes for the passenger's seat.
"Um, actually, if I sit at the back, I'm going to puke. You know how I can't handle long rides." I say. "You wouldn't give me your seat by any chance, Lynn?" I ask, hoping she'd read my expression.
Sharp as always, she does. "Nope. Nick and I are sitting here." She says.
"We can take the back." Nick starts, but Lynn pushes him back, fixing him with a look. He slowly catches on, his mouth forming a silent 'O'. Clearly, Lynn told him about her sister's helpless crush towards Nate. "Sorry, Kate. This seat is taken."
"I guess I'll have to take the passenger's seat then." I say.
Maya gives me a death glare, also catching on to what Lynn and I are planning. She goes to the back, where Nate has already taken his seat. Pink has tainted his cheeks, and I stifle a giggle as I take my own seat, shutting the door. Once we're all inside, Alec drives off.
Twenty minutes into the road, I catch Nate's voice as he talks to Maya. "You look nice." He says.
I knew it!
"Thank you." Comes Maya's shy response, barely audible. I catch Lynn's eye in the rearview mirror, and she winks at me. I grin back.
I can't help but notice the stiffness in the way Alec's driving. He's been silent all the way, and my stomach drops. He's probably tense about what we're going to uncover in the club, I think, but it doesn't ease the unpleasant feeling inside my chest.
An hour later, Alec parks the SUV on the side of the road. From a distance, I could see the large building, blaring music coming from it. The sound seemed magnified, as we were out of town. Thanks to the glamour, however, mundanes wouldn't be able to hear it. We get out of the car, secure our weapons, and make our way towards the club.
Inside, the music is deafening. Downworlders from all four kinds are dancing, drinking and chatting. I look up, searching the source of the colorful lights, and see dozens of spheres floating in the air above, each emitting a different beautiful color.
I follow my team through the crowd, and marvel at the way no one spares us a second glance, even if Alec and I have crossbows across our shoulders, and Maya's long sword lies in its sheath, strapped to her back. Lynn's daggers are barely visible as they clung to her thighs, her dress producing enough cover. Nate has his signature weapon, a chain ending with a sharp dagger, runes covering the entire weapon.
"Kate," Alec says, his deep voice barely audible in the music. "Start the tracking."
I pull the small vial that contains the blood we extracted from the werewolf and drip some on a paper towel. I draw a tracking rune and close my eyes. After a moment, I open them, and find myself staring into dark blue. I shake my head.
"Okay, team, let's split up." Alec says. "We scan the place for anything unusual. The strongest disturbance happened here, so we might as well find a cue."
"Nick and I will check the back entrances." Lynn said before walking away, Nick taking after her.
"Maya and I will check this level." Nate says, surprising both me and Maya.
"Okay." Alec says. "Kate, we check the upper level." I nod and follow him to the staircase.
I can't help but notice the stiffness in Alec's shoulders as he makes his way through the crammed place. I'd say it's because of the crowdedness of the place, but he's been like this through the entire drive. I can't help the unease eating away at my insides, and I try focusing on the mission instead. I look around me and try spotting something out of the ordinary, even if this place is out of the ordinary anyway.
I try with my tracking rune once again, and this time, I sense something.
"Alec!" I call, but my voice disappears in the music. I run up to him and grab his arm. He turns around to face me. "I got a signal."
"What?" He asks, leaning closer to hear me, and my breath catches at how close we are. His adam apple bobs as he realizes that too. Before it can get anymore awkward, I speak again.
"I said I got a signal." His brows lift. "Follow me." I say, taking the lead.
The tracking rune leads us to a corridor where there are lesser people. The music doesn't reach this place as much, and the quiet helps me focus better on the signal, which seems to be getting stronger. It leads us to the last room in the corridor. Alec tries the handle, but the door seems to be locked. He pulls his stele and draws an unlocking rune. He starts to open the door, but I stop him, feeling the color rise to my cheeks. This place is where people who want privacy come to. It would be rude to just bang inside like some crazy Shadowhunters. Alec seems to catch up to my thoughts, and he nods before drawing a hearing rune and pushing his ear against the door. After a couple of seconds, he pulls away and opens it.
The room is dark, but as soon as we walk in, and before I can look for my Witchlight, the torches on the wall light up with purple and green fire. Warlock magic, I realize, as the two colors are respectively mine and Alec's favourite. There's a large bed in the middle of the room, a fire place burning with the combination of the two colors on the far left wall, and a balcony straight ahead. Cream colored carpets cover the floor, matching the color of the comforter and pillows on the bed.
I follow the signal to the right side of the room, stopping at a few blood drops that have dried on the carpet. Alec comes to stand beside me, eying the blood with concentration. "C'mon, let's search the place." He says, his voice cold. I internally wince.
This mission must be weighing on his shoulders.
I start by looking under the bed, and then inside the drawers of both the bed stand tables. After a while, it's clear that our only clue is the blood. It doesn't even provide info.
"There's nothing." Alec says, running his hand through his dark hair with frustration. "C'mon, let's go check elsewhere."
He starts for the door, but I don't move. "Alec?" I ask, unable to take it anymore. He stops, his hand on the handle, but he doesn't turn to look at me.
"Is everything okay?" I ask, my voice coming out small. I can't stand seeing him act as cold anymore. When we came to the institute, my mother changed completely, from the loving mother I knew growing up, to the unsmiling head of the institute. She didn't talk much anymore, and I found myself lonely. But then Alec came along, like a light in the dark, and I realise that if I lose him like I lost my mother, I'd be losing a part of myself as well.
He turns around and looks at me. "Yes. Why are you asking?" He seems to be holding on to patience as if it were a thin thread, and I realize I don't want to push him.
"I just … nothing. You just seem a little angry." Now he turns to face me fully.
"Is that what you think." He says, crossing the distance that stood between us in long strides. My heart picks up speed at the proximity, and I take a step back. Alec takes a step forward, and I take another one back before hitting the bed. I swallow hard.
"Y-Yeah, your eyes are usually dark when you're angry." I say and internally slap myself.
Could you sound anymore ridiculous?
"Dark … how?" Alec asks, his voice barely over a whisper.
"Dark blue … like the ocean … at night." I whisper.
"And now? Is that what they look like?"
My heart is thudding so hard against my chest, and I fear he might hear it.
"They're … almost purple." I reply.
If he doesn't step back, I'm making a run for it. Screw the mission.
Alec's face comes closer, and our noses almost touch. "I'm not angry." He whispers. "Seeing you in that skirt … it's driving me crazy."
My breath catches, and before I can grasp what's happening, Alec crashes his mouth to mine.