Clary woke slowly. The sunlight streaming through the porthole warmed her body, almost to an uncomfortable degree. She shifted as she tried to alleviate the sweaty warmth at her back only to freeze as she felt a heavy weight draped across her waist. Her eyes shot open and she twisted her neck to glance behind her.
“Motherfucker!” Her whispered expletive did nothing to stir the prince, though she was quite sure his arms tightened fractionally around her body.
Waves of panic buffeted against her mind as she tried to breath slowly and deeply, barely managing to keep calm. Slowly she lifted his limp arm as she wiggled off the bed, dropping gracefully into a heap on the floor.
Without a glance backward, she scurried from the room. The panic still ate away at the young pirate Captain as she ran.
x . x . x . x . x
“Ahoy, young princeling! Would you like to go ashore?”
Jace’s head raised slowly, his eyes reluctantly leaving the book he’d been perusing. Magnus and Alec stood in the doorway to his cabin. They wore much nicer clothes than normal, not a single tear or fray in sight.
He thought momentarily, juggling the idea of actually setting foot on land again. “Where exactly are we? Isn’t it slightly dangerous for me to be seen?”
Isabelle pushed through the two men, rolling her eyes sarcastically as she bustled toward the trunk at the foot of the bed. “Well your highness, you’ve been on our ship for two months. You refused to leave the last two times we made port. You’re going. We need to outfit you for the journey at the very least.” Her hands struggled slightly with the heavy lid before she threw it open with a huff.
“Uh, what journey?”
All three pirates swung their heads toward him, Isabelle’s fingers going limp as a linen tunic fluttered to the floor. “Didn’t Clary tell you?!”
Jace pursed his lips, his nose wrinkling in irritation. “The dear Captain hasn’t seen fit to speak to me in weeks. The last time we spoke was the day Jonathan came aboard.”
Magnus gaped at him open mouthed. Alec’s head dropped forward as his hand slowly dragged down his face. “It figures. Fucking Clary!”
Jace raised an eyebrow. “Fucking Clary indeed, yet I still have no idea what journey you’re talking about.”
“We’re sailing west. Toward the new world. There’s a small island off the coast of Tortuga that’s a haven for…people like us.”
The prince glared at Magnus, a scowl twisting his features roughly. “People like us, huh? That would be amusing if we actually had anything in common. I’m a prince. You are pirates. I’m of royal blood. I can only assume you’re of a much lower pedigree. And-let’s face it-I’m just oh so stunningly attractive.”
Alec turned slightly toward his lover. “He assumes a lot, doesn’t he?” The Asian man’s lips quirked into a smirk as he nodded.
Isabelle barked out a laugh as she tossed an outfit toward him. “I’m going to kill Clary, I swear. She hasn’t told the boy anything!”
“The boy is right here, in case you were unaware.” Jace muttered sarcastically, standing to pull his worn tunic over his head. He’d become slightly accustomed to the less than modest attitudes aboard the ship. He still staunchly refused to lower his pants in the presence of anyone else.
Isabelle’s eyes grazed over his chest as he twisted the new shirt in his hands. “You’re looking much better there, Princeling. You’ve got some strength to show now.”
Jace just smiled toothily as Alec snapped Magnus’ mouth shut in annoyance. “Keep it in your pants there, lover. I’m sure Jace has no interest in joining us.”
Jace flushed scarlet as the men laughed, turning to saunter down the hall. Isabelle crossed to the door before she glanced over her shoulder. “Give her a chance. She’s…well-she has reasons for what she does or doesn’t do. But if she refuses to fill you in then I’ll kick her scrawny ass.”
With a swish of her inky black hair, Isabelle pulled the door shut behind her. Jace shook his head slightly as he quickly changed his pants and pulled on the boots he hadn’t had occasion to wear yet.
x . x . x . x . x
Jace sauntered through the dusty streets, casually glancing left and right as they walked. Clary shifted nervously at his side, her eyes darting restlessly.
“I’m sorry my company is so unappealing, Captain.” He sneered slightly as he dipped into a small mock bow. Clary stopped short a few feet ahead of him, her shoulders slumping slightly. Her fiery hair billowed in the cool breeze and his eyes swept over her small body, some odd instinct trying to take root.
He shook off the feeling, unwilling to fall into whatever trap she was laying for him. He walked casually to her side and she started forward without a word. Jace’s lips pursed in annoyance. He angrily grabbed her arm, yanking her back to his side.
“What?! You can’t even deign to speak to me now? After…God! I really am just a fucking annoyance, aren’t I? Ready to pawn me off the first chance you get?!?” He scoffed, dropping her arm as she pulled away. Her eyes were wide and frightened, no hint of the strong young woman he’d met all those months ago. She seemed smaller, more frail somehow-though he’d be hard pressed to put his finger on exactly what gave him that impression.
She leaned in slightly, deliberately keeping her body away from his. “Keep your voice down, please. We may be very far south, but there is still a chance your father’s men have ventured here. I don’t fancy losing my head at the present time.”
“Oh so now is inconvenient, but later would be perfect. Right?” Jace taunted menacingly, though his breath caught in his throat when their eyes met. The air around her shimmered slightly and she seemed to morph right in front of him.
Her emerald green eyes that had sparkled with mischief only a few short weeks ago looked empty and lifeless. Her hair, now that he looked closely, was limp and lackluster-the only body or movement it possessed was what the wind had gifted to it. Her complexion, which had been a beautiful glowing tan when he’d first come aboard, was pale and pasty. She looked as if she’d spent the last eight weeks below deck. Even her collarbones, which were always slightly pronounced, practically jutted through her skin. Her clothes hung loosely on her frame and her cheeks were hollow and gaunt.
He drew back in horror, clearly trying to reconcile the beautiful girl he’d seen not an hour before as they disembarked the ship with the near skeletal figure before him.
Clary sighed heavily, her brow furrowed into concentration before she rolled her eyes. She glanced to her wrist, lightly rubbing at a faint white mark. “The glamour fell, didn’t it?” His eyes were wide and his hand was at his chest as he remained silently frozen in place. “Well shit.”
Clary took a few more steps, ignoring Jace’s sputtering protests as he stumbled after her. His hand wrapped itself tightly around her arm as he yanked her backward into a small alley. She sagged against the dirty wall, her cloak absorbing the filth caked on the bricks behind her.
“What? What is so important that you had to yank me back here? Or, you know, this could be your one big opportunity. I’m weak and you’re on land. Go ahead and run. I won’t stop you. You can go back to your precious father.” She spat the words harshly as she marshalled her anger.
She was sick to death of everything. Ever since Jonathan had caught up to them it had been one fiasco after another. She was always looking over her shoulder, positive that her brother was about to catch her. It was almost to the point where she considered the unthinkable…
“I don’t give a damn about my father!” His eyes blazed as he took a step toward her, his body looming over hers in the shadows of the small alley. Those tawny orbs burned with an emotion she couldn’t quite pinpoint as his hand came up to rest on her neck lightly. She flinched and his eyes softened noticeably. His fingers trailed up to her cheek, softly grazing the dark hollows under her eyes. He breathed out a soft sigh, his warm breath fanning over her face as she watched his eyes slide shut. He leaned down, his forehead coming to rest against hers. Jace sucked another shuddering breath. “I give a damn about you, Clary. I don’t know why-I shouldn’t. I should hate you. But…I don’t. What’s happened to you, love?”
Her sarcastic reply caught in her throat as tears flooded her eyes. She blinked rapidly, willing the rogue drops to stay put. “I-I…it’s…complicated.”
His amber eyes opened, gazing down at her as he let out an irritated snort. “Well, if you ever bothered to try to explain, maybe it wouldn’t be so complicated.”
She furrowed her brows, her chest heaving with the great gulps of oxygen she so desperately needed. He was too close. She could feel the warmth of his body hovering a mere breath away from her. His warm, slightly lemony breath wafted over her cheek as his nose nuzzled against her ear. A low purr erupted from his throat as he drew in a long breath, stealing her essence as completely as if he’d shackled her. Her hands fisted into the linen of his shirt, though she wasn’t quite sure if she was pushing him away or pulling him to her.
“Please, Clary? Let me in. I know there’s still some big secret that I’m not aware of. But I want to know. I think, after all this time, I deserve to know.” His nose traced a path from her jaw up behind her ear. His tongue darted out to taste the salty skin and she gasped in another breath.
Those green eyes sparked slightly as he pulled back, a flicker of something buried in their depths. “Fine. I should’ve told you all this sooner. But-” He made an affronted noise, somewhere between a whine and a grunt, and Clary giggled. Jace closed his eyes, savoring the tinkling bell-like sound. “-this will take some time. And you really do need to be outfitted properly for this voyage. You stay here-shop with Magnus and Alec. When you return, I’ll tell you everything.”
She sank down, ducking under his outstretched arm as she stepped away. She spun, throwing a coy glance over her shoulder. Jace huffed good naturedly, a smile pulling at his lips. “Fine. But I’ll hold you to that Captain. I want answers.”
“And you shall have them, your majesty.” She dipped into a small curtsy, wobbling slightly as she stood straight again. “I promise.”