Jace stood outside Isabelle's apartment leaning against the opposite wall with his hands shoved into the pockets of his worn denim jeans. He had been there for a while contemplating on what he should do.Should he knock on the door? What would he say if Isabelle opened the door? And what if it was Clary that opened the door?
He growled as he hit his head against the wall. How did things get so complicated? Jace Wayland never let a woman get to him — but she had. What made her special? "Fuck. Fuck Fuck," Jace hissed as he stood from the wall. Jace couldn't answer the questions that were swarming around in his head. He just knew he wanted her. He wanted her so bad.
"Clary, wake up." Clary groaned at hearing Isabelle's chipper voice.
"Go away Iz," Clary muttered, pulling the covers over her head. She was not ready to face her demanding friend.
"Fine," Isabelle replied.
Fine, Clary thought as she snuggled her body closer the pillows surrounding her body. Wait. Fine? When does Isabelle Lightwood concede? Never. Clary shot up from under the covers, her green eyes frantically searching around the room for the other girl. "Izzy?"
Clary's eyes landed on Isabelle. "What are you doing?"
Isabelle had her back to Clary as she peered through the peep hole at the front door of her apartment.
"Oh nothing," Isabelle shrugged. "Don't worry. You go back to sleep."
Clary pushed the covers off her body as she moved to get off the bed. "What are you doing?" Clary asked as she walked toward Isabelle.
Isabelle spun around when Clary reached her. "Nothing. Like I said. You want some coffee?"
"Sure. Coffee sounds good." Clary eyed her friend suspiciously. "Why were you staring out the peep hole?"
Isabelle grabbed a coffee cup from the cabinet and began pouring coffee in it. "It's not important." She waved her hand in the air for Clary to come sit at the bar. "Black, right?"
"Yep." Clary pulled herself up on one of the tall stools, a daunting feat that made her feel as if she were a little girl again. Isabelle slid Clary the coffee cup across the bar, earning a smile from the redhead as the aroma of the coffee tickled her nose. "Thank you." She closed her eyes as she placed the cup to her lips, allowing herself to enjoy the warmth of the liquid as it filled her mouth.
"So..." Clary opened her eyes as she heard Isabelle's voice.
"So what?" Clary asked placing her coffee cup down slowly.
Isabelle was grinning from ear to ear. "I just thought we should discuss your strategy."
Clary frowned. "Strategy?"
"Yes. Your strategy. I'm calling it operation Clace." Clary's mouth fell open at hearing Isabelle's words. What the hell was Clace?
"Um. Well — I don't... I mean — What?" Clary sighed dropping her forehead down on the bar. "Izzy. I can't do this."
"Yes. You. Can." Clary felt Isabelle's hand pulling at her curls.
"Ouch," Clary hissed. "That hurt." She sat back up as she rubbed the top of her head.
"Quit acting like such a baby." Isabelle shoved her hands on her narrow hips. "It's time for you to grow up and put your big girl panties on, Clary Fray."
"'Big girl panties?' Really, Iz?" Clary raised her eyebrows.
"Yep. Now let's get down to business." Isabelle let her hands fall from her hips and hang down against her sides. "We don't have much time so you've got to pay attention."
Clary rolled her eyes. For one she was aggravated that Isabelle could look so perfect this early in the morning, and two she wasn't sure she was ready to discuss her feelings for Jace. "Iz. I'm not so sure I can go through with this. What if this isn't real? I mean, what if it's just a crush or something?"
Isabelle huffed. "Well you better decide. You're running out of time."
Clary placed her head in her hands as she rested her elbows on the bar. "Why? Why don't I have time Iz?" Clary shook her head causing her messy curls to fall in a curtain around her. "I've never been in love. I don't know how it feels. I don't want to lead Jace on — not if it's not real. Not if this — whatever this is that I'm feeling — isn't real."
Clary lifted her head expecting to find Isabelle glaring at her, but that's not what she found. "Isabelle?" Clary's eyes widened when she found Isabelle gazing down at her with tear-filled eyes. "Isabelle, what's wrong?" The stool shifted under Clary's weight as she squirmed on the stool, her green orbs traveling over Isabelle's face with worry.
Isabelle took a deep breath, running a hand through her dark brown hair. "I get it. I do." She turned to where her back was facing Clary. "It may surprise you but I've never been in love either." Clary gasped at Isabelle's revelation causing Isabelle to turn back to her. "Don't act so surprised."
"I thought since you weren't a — "Clary started but stopped when Isabelle cut in.
"What? You thought that since I'm not a virgin I've been in love." Clary swallowed and nodded silently, and the other girl merely rolled her eyes. "I haven't. You don't have to love someone to have sex, Clary. God. Sometimes you're so naïve." She crossed her arms across her chest. "Love is overrated anyways."
"How do you know?" Clary sat up straight as she questioned Isabelle. "You just said you've never been in love so how do you know it's overrated?" Clary's voice softened as she watched a sadness fall over Isabelle's perfect features. "I think — no. I believe love is something that creeps on you. It makes you feel almost overwhelmed. Love is bold, reckless, scary even. You want to know something, Izzy?"
Isabelle was leaning toward Clary as she spoke, her eyes bright with wonder. "Tell me."
"Sometimes," Clary whispered. "Sometimes when I think about your brother, when I think about Jace..." Clary took a deep breath. "I feel like the air has been taken away from me. I feel this tightness in my chest. I get nervous. I get scared." Clary's hands went to her messy red curls and pulled gently before dropping them back down onto the bar. "And that's when he's not even around. When we're in the same room, I have this feeling deep down in my stomach. It feels queasy almost. But when he kisses me..." Clary felt her cheeks redden. "When he kisses me I feel everything. I feel strong. I feel free." She closed her eyes, needing to free herself from Isabelle's curious eyes. "It scares the shit out of me.."
Clary's eyes were still closed when she felt Isabelle's hand covering her own. "Don't you see Clary?" Clary opened her eyes to find Isabelle's face only inches from hers.
"See what?" Clary's eyes darted between Isabelle's.
"You silly girl," Isabelle giggled. "You're falling in love with Jace if you're not already."
Clary blinked. "Wha — no, I mean I don't —" Clary closed her mouth and stopped talking. She did not have the words to say how she was feeling because the truth was she had no clue what she was feeling.
"Come on, Clary, think about it. How would you feel if you saw Jace with another girl? What would you do if you saw him kissing someone that wasn't you?" Isabelle's face was full of mischief as she waited for Clary's answer.
Clary's green eyes stared back at Isabelle's. Could it be true? Could she be falling in love with Jace? "I would hate it," Clary's voice was barely a whisper. "I would hate it, Izzy."
"Good. Now go to the bathroom and jump in the shower." Isabelle removed her hands from Clary's and took a step back. "When you get out of the shower make sure to walk back in here with nothing but a towel wrapped around that tiny body of yours."
"What?" Clary scrunched her face up in confusion.
"Stop that. You'll get wrinkles." Isabelle was walking back to the front door as she spoke. "Go on." She returned to looking out the peep hole once again. "Unless," she drawled, shooting Clary a quick glance before turning her attention back to the peep hole, "you want Jace to see you like that because he's right outside this door. And I'm about to open the door in three, two —"
"Shit," Clary cried out as she stumbled off the stool, causing it to almost fall on the floor. She fixed the stool quickly before running to the bathroom. "I hate you Isabelle Lightwood."
Isabelle bit her bottom lip to contain her laughter as she slowly turned the doorknob. She was going to have so much fun with these two. "Jace? What on earth are you doing out here?" Isabelle made sure she looked completely shocked to find her brother standing on the other side of the hall.
Jace was so lost in his thoughts that he didn't even notice Isabelle's door opening. "Jace? What on earth are you doing out here?" Jace looked up to see a very shocked Isabelle staring back at him.
Jace swallowed. What was he supposed to say? I'm here to see Clary? HELL NO! "I wanted to make sure you worked everything out with Clary."
Jace knew from the look on his sister's face that she didn't believe him. Not even a little bit. "O-ka-y then. Well are you going to continue to stand out here like a stalker or do you want to come in?"
No, absolutely not. There was no way he was going to step foot in that apartment. Notwhile Clary was in there. "Yeah. Sure, why not." Dammit.
"You coming or what?" Isabelle held her hands up in the air. Jace nodded. He pushed himself off the wall and moved toward Isabelle's apartment. I'm going to hell. I'm going to hell.
Jace's eyes scanned Isabelle's apartment as soon as he walked through the door. Where was she? He'd been standing outside Isabelle's door for hours and he never saw her leave.
"You know something," Isabelle started, and casually, her voice at complete ease — with just a hint of mischievous undertone. Jace spun around when he heard her shut the front door. A small, inquiring yet innocent smile played on her lips. "I've never seen you get so involved in one of your patients before." Isabelle was still standing at the door with her hands on her hips. Holy hell she knows. She knows!
Jace chuckled nervously. "What are you talking about, Iz?" You know exactly what she's talking about dumbass!
Isabelle waved her hand back and forth in the air as she walked over to her bar and took a seat on one of the tall stools. "I don't mean it in a bad way. I think it's nice that you're helping Clary out and everything. Poor girl really needs someone to watch out for her you know?"
Jace felt his chest tighten. "Watch out for her?" He frowned as he sat next to Isabelle at the bar.
Isabelle held out her hands in front of her, examining her nails closely. "You know what I'm saying."
No. He didn't know and he was beginning to get pissed off that Isabelle wouldn't just tell him what she was talking about. "No I don't."
Isabelle folded one arm across the other before shifting her body towards his. "Oh come on, Jace. Just look at her." He wanted too. He wanted to look at ALL of her."I mean she's a virgin. Wants to just get the deed over with." Jace listened to his sister's words closely. "Do you think she even knows what love is?"
Love? "What about love?" he gestured.
Isabelle's face dropped. Her head shot to the back of the apartment to where her bathroom was located. She bit her bottom lip before turning back to look at him with a worried expression. "What is it, Isabelle? What's wrong?'
"Jace," she said, "If I tell you, you've got to promise not to say a word. Clary would just die if she knew I told you. Promise me." Isabelle's eyes were wide as she waited for him to agree.
"I promise." Jace nodded, leaning toward his sister absentmindedly.
"Great." Isabelle's voice sounded relieved. "Clary told me something and it's big. Really big." Spit it out! Isabelle reached over and placed her hands on his shoulders. "Jace. Clary wants you to be her first. And her last." Fuck yeah! Wait — last? What does that mean?
Isabelle still had her hands placed firmly on his shoulders as if she feared he'd run if she removed them. "She thinks... Or maybe, just maybe she is... I don't really know."
"She thinks what, Iz? Just tell me already!" Jace knew that his voice came out a bit harsh but Isabelle was irritating the hell out of him.
Isabelle took a deep breath. "Clary thinks she's in love — with you, Jace."
This is fucking awesome!Jace bit the inside of his cheek to keep his excitement contained.
"I know she's delusional but, I mean, there's no way it would work," she continued breezily.
Isabelle pulled her hands away from his shoulders and placed them in her lap. "And I don't want you to beat yourself up about it. This is my fault. Not yours."
Jace raised an eyebrow. "Am I missing something?"
Isabelle's shoulders slumped as she leaned into the bar. Her brown hair fell around her, hiding her face from Jace. "I know you don't love her. You can't. She'll be devastated."
I do! No. I mean I don't. I don't?
"But I think I've got an idea," she smiled, running a hand through her hair. "I'm going to find Clary a man. That way we're both off the hook."
What? No. Jace felt sick. What was Isabelle thinking?
"I've already got some guys in mind. You want to hear them?"
Jace nodded grudgingly, deep down listing off all the possible ways he could erase these 'guys in mind' from the earth. He felt like he just drank a cup of sand.
"Awesome," Isabelle beamed, standing from the stool and running over to her vanity.
Jace closed his eyes briefly. Could he let Isabelle set Clary up with other guys? Could he watch another man touch her like he touched her? Like he still wanted to touch her. "Jace? You still with me?" He opened his eyes to find Isabelle standing on the other side of the bar with a small sheet of paper in her hands.
"Yeah," Jace coughed to hide the uneasiness in his voice. Isabelle couldn't know how he felt. No one could.
Isabelle's dark brown eyes glanced down at the paper. "My first pick is Sebastian Verlac, then I have Kyle Jordan, Will Herondale, Jem Carstairs, and, um... Well, that's it right now but I think it's a good start. Don't you?"
Jace jumped off the stool, sending it falling to the floor beneath him. How could Isabelle want to set Clary up with guys like that? She was supposed to be Clary's friend! "Jace, what the hell are you doing?" Isabelle rushed around him to pick up the stool.
Jace felt anger coursing through his veins. "The question is what the hell are you doing Isabelle?" Jace watched Isabelle pick the stool up off the floor before she turned back to him. "I thought Clary was your friend."
"She is." Isabelle stood defiant in front of him.
Jace pointed an accusing finger in Isabelle's face. "No. You're not her friend. Not when you're trying to set her up with guys like Sebastian Verlac and Will Herondale. Have you lost your fucking mind Izzy? There is no way in hell I'd let any of those guys take Clary out. They'd have to kill me first."
"Is that so?" Isabelle raised an eyebrow as her deep brown eyes studied him closely. Too close. Had he said too much? Fuck yes!
"Yes," Jace sighed. He knew he screwed up. He watched and waited for Isabelle's lecture but when she opened her mouth nothing came out because another voice filled the room. Her voice.
Clary took several deep breaths as she clutched the towel loosely in front of her. She was going to go for it. She was going to make the first move in operation Clace, even though she still had no clue what Clace even meant.
"Iz? " Clary called out as she walked out of the bathroom. "I don't have any clothes so I was hoping you'd — oh shit!" Clary stopped in front of a smirking Isabelle and a very shocked Jace.