Home > Ghosts of the Shadow Market (Ghosts of the Shadow Market #1-10)(10)

Ghosts of the Shadow Market (Ghosts of the Shadow Market #1-10)(10)
Author: Cassandra Clare

“Oh dear,” Mrs. Bridgestock said, shaking her head, “is that a good idea? What if it were to let demons through?”

Anna envied the ship in the painting and all who sank in her.

“Of course,” the Inquisitor droned on, “there’s also the matter of money. The Consul has rejected the proposal to create an official currency of Idris. A wise decision. Very wise. As I was saying earlier—”

“I’m so sorry for my lateness,” said a voice.

In the doorway of the dining room stood a girl, probably Anna’s age, in a midnight-blue dress. Her hair was jet-black, like Anna’s, but fuller, more luxurious, deep as night sky against her soft brown skin. But what captured Anna were her eyes—eyes the color of topaz—large, the lashes thick.

“Ah,” the Inquisitor said. “This is our daughter, Ariadne. These are the Lightwoods.”

“I was meeting my tutor,” Ariadne said as a servant pulled out her chair. “We were delayed. I do apologize. It sounds like I came in just as you were debating the new currency. Shadowhunters are an international group. We must blend seamlessly with many international economies. Having our own currency would be a disaster.”

On that, she plucked up her napkin and turned to Anna and Christopher and smiled.

“We have not met,” she said.

Anna had to force herself to swallow, then to breathe. Ariadne was something beyond the realm of humanity or Shadowhunter. The Angel himself must have made her.

“Anna Lightwood,” Anna said.

Christopher was pushing peas onto the back of his fork, unaware that a goddess had seated herself across from him.

“And this is my brother Christopher. He can be a bit distracted.”

She gave him a nudge.

“Oh,” he said, noticing Ariadne. “I’m Christopher.”

Even Christopher, now that he had seen Ariadne, could not help but be mesmerized by her. He blinked, taking in the sight.

“You’re . . . you’re not English, are you?”

Anna died several deaths inside, but Ariadne simply laughed.

“I was born in Bombay,” she said. “My parents ran the Bombay Institute until they were killed. I was adopted by the Bridgestocks in Idris.”

She spoke very plainly, in the tone of someone who has long accepted a set of facts.

“What killed your parents?” Christopher asked conversationally.

“A group of Vetis demons,” Ariadne said.

“Oh! I knew someone at the Academy that was killed by a Vetis demon!”

“Christopher,” Anna said.

“You go to the Academy?” Ariadne asked.

“Not anymore. I caused one of the wings to explode.” Christopher took a bread roll from a plate and happily began buttering it.

Anna looked at the painting of the ship again, trying to will herself onto the deck and then into the black, pitiless waters. The most lovely girl in the world had just walked into her life and in thirty seconds her dear brother had managed to bring up the death of her family, a death at school, and the fact that he had blown up part of the Academy.

But Ariadne was not looking at Christopher, even as he inadvertently placed his elbow into the butter dish.

“Have you caused any explosions?” she asked Anna.

“Not yet,” Anna replied. “But the evening is young.”

Ariadne laughed, and Anna’s soul sang. She reached over and lifted her brother’s elbow from the butter, never taking her gaze from Ariadne. Did she know how beautiful she was? Did she know her eyes were the color of liquid gold, and that songs could be written about the way she turned out her wrist to reach for her glass?

Anna had seen beautiful girls before. She had even seen a few beautiful girls who looked at her the way she looked at them. But that was always in passing. They went by on the street, or their gaze lingered a bit long in a shop. Anna had practiced the art of the prolonged stare, the one that invited them: Come. Tell me of yourself. You are lovely.

There was something in the way Ariadne was looking at Anna that suggested . . .

No. Anna had to be imagining it. Ariadne was being polite and attentive. She was not eyeing Anna romantically over the dinner table, over the roasted potatoes and the duck. Ariadne’s perfection had caused Anna to hallucinate.

Ariadne continued to contribute to the conversation at the other end of the table. Anna had never been so interested in the economic policies of Idris. She would study them night and day if she could join Ariadne in discussing them.

Every once in a while, Ariadne would turn back to Anna and look at her knowingly, her mouth twisting in a smile like a bow. And each time this happened, Anna would wonder again what was happening, and why that particular look made the room spin. Maybe she was ill. Maybe she had developed a fever from looking at Ariadne.

The pudding came and went, and Anna vaguely remembered eating it. As the dishes were cleared and the women stood to leave the table, Ariadne came and hooked her arm through Anna’s.

“We have quite a good library,” she said to Anna. “Perhaps I could show it to you?”

Anna, with a show of supreme self-control, did not immediately fall to the floor. She managed to say yes, the library, yes, she would love to see it, yes, library, yes, yes . . .

She told herself to stop saying she wanted to see the library and looked over at her mother. Cecily smiled. “Go on, Anna. Christopher, would you mind accompanying us to the greenhouse? Mrs. Bridgestock has a collection of poisonous plants that I think you will quite enjoy.”

Anna cast Cecily a grateful look as Ariadne led her from the room. Her head was full of Ariadne’s orange-blossom perfume and the way her tumble of dark hair was pinned up in a gold comb.

“It’s this way,” Ariadne said, leading Anna to a set of double doors toward the back of the house. The library was dark and had a chill. Ariadne released Anna’s arm and illuminated one of the electric lights.

“You use electricity?” Anna said. She had to say something, and that was as good a thing as any.

“I convinced Father,” Ariadne said. “I am modern and possessed of all sorts of advanced notions.”

The room was full of crates, and only some of the books had been unpacked and shelved. The furniture, however, had been placed. There was an ample desk, and many comfortable reading chairs.

“We’re still settling in here,” Ariadne said, sitting herself prettily (she had no other way) on a deep red chair. Anna was too nervous to sit, and paced along the opposite side of the room. It was almost too much to look at Ariadne here in this dark, private place.

“I understand your family has a very interesting history,” Ariadne said.

Anna had to speak. She had to figure out a way to be around Ariadne. In her mind she donned her real clothing—the trousers, the shirt (the mental one had no stains), the fitted waistcoat. She slipped her arms through the sleeves. Thus attired, she felt confident. She managed to sit opposite Ariadne and meet her gaze.

“My grandfather was a worm, if that’s what you mean,” Anna said.

Ariadne laughed aloud. “You didn’t like him?”

“I didn’t know him,” Anna said. “He was, quite literally, a worm.”

Clearly, Ariadne didn’t know that much about the Lightwoods. Usually, when one’s demon-loving relative develops a serious case of demon pox and turns into a giant worm with massive teeth, word gets around. People will talk.

“It’s true,” Anna said, now examining the gilded edge of a writing desk. “He ate one of my uncles.”

“You are funny,” Ariadne said to Anna.

“I’m glad you think so,” Anna replied.

“Your brother’s eyes are quite extraordinary,” Ariadne noted.

Anna heard this a good deal. Christopher’s eyes were lavender in color.

“Yes,” Anna said. “He’s the good-looking one in the family.”

“I quite disagree!” Ariadne exclaimed, looking surprised. “Gentlemen must compliment you all the time on the shade of your eyes.”

Then Ariadne blushed and looked down, and Anna’s heart skipped a beat. It wasn’t possible, she told herself. There was simply no chance that the Inquisitor’s beautiful daughter was . . . like her. That she would look at another girl’s eyes and note their color as lovely instead of simply asking her what fabrics she wore to bring out their shade best.

“I’m afraid I am quite behind on my training,” Ariadne said. “Perhaps we could . . . train together?”

“Yes,” Anna said, maybe too quickly. “Yes . . . of course. If you . . .”

“You may find me clumsy.” Ariadne twisted her hands together.

“I’m sure I won’t,” Anna said. “But that is the point of training, in any case. It is a delicate thing, training, despite the obvious violence, of course.”

“You will have to be delicate with me, then,” Ariadne said very softly.

Just as Anna thought she might faint, the doors opened and Inquisitor Bridgestock came in, with Cecily, Gabriel, and Christopher in tow. The Lightwoods looked vaguely exhausted. Anna was conscious of her mother’s eyes on her—a sharp and thoughtful look.

“. . . and we have our map collection . . . ah. Ariadne. Still in here, of course. Ariadne is a fiendish reader.”

“Absolutely fiendish.” Ariadne smiled. “Anna and I were just discussing my training. I thought it would be sensible to partner with another girl.”

“Very sensible,” Bridgestock said. “Yes. A very good idea. You shall be partners. Anyway, Lightwood, we’ll look at the maps at some point. Now, Ariadne, come into the parlor. I’d like you to play the piano for our guests.”

Ariadne looked up at Anna.

“Partners,” she said.

“Partners,” Anna replied.

It was only on the way home that Anna realized that Ariadne had asked her to the library and not shown her a single book.

* * *

“Did you like young Ariadne Bridgestock?” said Cecily as the Lightwoods’ carriage rumbled home through the dark streets of the city.

Hot Series
Most Popular
» Cursed Mate (Shadow Guild: The Rebel #5)
» Devilish Game (Shadow Guild: The Rebel #4)
» Dark Secrets (Shadow Guild: The Rebel #3)
» Wicked Deal (Shadow Guild: The Rebel #2)
» Once Bitten (Shadow Guild: The Rebel #1)
» Storm Forged (Death Before Dragons #6)
» False Security (Death Before Dragons #5)
» Elven Doom (Death Before Dragons #4)
» Tangled Truths (Death Before Dragons #3)
» Battle Bond (Death Before Dragons #2)
» Sinister Magic (Death Before Dragons #1)
» How to Rattle an Undead Couple (The Beginne