he’d been in her position.
“I love you,” Clary whispered. She had his shirt off, and her fingertips were tracing the scars on his back, and the star-shaped scar on his shoulder that was the twin of her own, a relic of the angel whose blood they both shared. “I don’t ever want to lose you.”
He slid his hand down to untie her knotted blouse. His other hand, braced against the mattress, touched the cold metal of the hunting dagger; it must have spilled onto the bed with the rest of the contents of the box. “That will never happen.”
She looked up at him with luminous eyes. “How can you be so sure?”
His hand tightened on the knife hilt. The moonlight that poured through the window slid off the blade as he raised it. “I’m sure,” he said, and brought the dagger down. The blade sheared through her flesh as if it were paper, and as her mouth opened in a startled O and blood soaked the front of her white shirt, he thought,
Dear God, not again
Waking up from the nightmare was like crashing through a plate glass window. The razored shards of it seemed to slice at Jace even as he pulled free and sat up, gasping. He rolled off the bed, instinctively wanting to get away, and hit the stone floor on his hands and knees. Cold air poured through the open window, making him shiver but clearing away the last, clinging tendrils of the dream.
He stared down at his hands. They were clean of blood. The bed was a mess, the sheets and blankets screwed into a tangled ball from his tossing and turning, but the box containing his father’s things was still on the nightstand, where he’d left it before he went to sleep.
The first few times he’d had the nightmare, he’d woken up and vomited. Now he was careful about not eating for hours before he went to sleep, so instead his body had its revenge on him by racking him with spasms of sickness and fever. A spasm hit now, and he curled into a ball, gasping and dry-heaving until it passed.
When it was over, he pressed his forehead against the cold stone floor. Sweat was cooling on his body, his shirt sticking to him, and he wondered, not idly, if eventually the dreams would kill him. He had tried everything to stop them—sleeping pills and potions, runes of sleep and runes of peace and healing. Nothing worked. The dreams stole like poison into his mind, and there was nothing he could do to shut them out.
Even during his waking hours, he found it hard to look at Clary. She had always been able to see through him the way no one else had, and he could only imagine what she would think if she knew what he dreamed. He rolled onto his side and stared at the box on the nightstand, moonlight sparking off it. And he thought of Valentine. Valentine, who had tortured and imprisoned the only woman he’d ever loved, who had taught his son—both his sons—that to love something is to destroy it forever.
His mind spun frantically as he said the words to himself, over and over. It had become a sort of chant for him, and like any chant, the words had started to lose their individual meanings.
I’m not like Valentine. I don’t want to be like him. I won’t be like him. I won’t.
He saw Sebastian—Jonathan, really—his sort-of-brother, grinning at him through a tangle of silver-white hair, his black eyes shining with merciless glee. And he saw his own knife go into Jonathan and pull free, and Jonathan’s body tumbling down toward the river below, his blood mixing with the weeds and grass at the riverbank’s edge.
I am not like Valentine
He had not been sorry to kill Jonathan. Given the chance, he would do it again.
I don’t want to be like him.
Surely it wasn’t normal to kill someone—to kill your own adoptive brother—and feel nothing about it at all.
I won’t be like him.
But his father had taught him that to kill without mercy was a virtue, and maybe you could never forget what your parents taught you. No matter how badly you wanted to.
I won’t be like