Hodge focused intently as he drew a tramp stamp on Alec, who lay on a table in the library.
“What’s that one do?” whispered Clary to Jace. “I’ve never seen it before.”
“It doesn’t do anything,” whispered Jace. “Hodge doesn’t actually know any tramp stamps. We just let him think he does ‘cause it makes him feel cool.”
Hodge finished the tramp stamp and admired his handiwork. “That should have him better in no time,” said Hodge.
Clary then noticed that Hodge hadn’t even been using a stele. He’d just drawn the tramp stamp with a magic marker.
Jace put on a stethoscope, walked over to Alec, and listened to his chest. “I think it’s actually working!” he said. “Well done, Hodge, you are a true master!”
Hodge smiled proudly. “It’s what I do,” he said.
Clary pulled Jace aside. “So what’s the real deal with Alec?” she whispered.
“I made an appointment with the Silent Brothers for him,” said Jace. “After that, he’ll be fine. That is, until he sees the bill for the $350 copay.”
Hodge put down his magic marker and sighed. “You know, it’s really too bad you guys didn’t retrieve the Mortal Keg,” he said. “I was thinking how awesome it would be to do a Century Club.”
“We did retrieve it!” said Clary. “Isabelle’s bringing it in from Simon’s car right now.” A few seconds later, Isabelle wheeled the keg in on a dolly.
Hodge gasped, then dropped to his knees and gave the keg a big kiss. “This is the happiest day of my life!” he said.
“I didn’t realize he liked beer so much,” said Clary.
Hodge wiped away a tear of joy. “Hope you guys don’t mind, but I invited a little friend of mine to celebrate the return of the Keg with us.”
“A friend?” said Jace.
Suddenly a panel on the wall slid open, revealing a portal like the one at Dorothea’s apartment. The portal’s blue light shimmered, and through it stepped a tall man with jet-black eyes, holding a giant package of plastic cups.
“I heard someone was having a kegger?” said the man.
“Valentine?” said Jace.
“Hodge, how could you?” said Isabelle. “You sold us out!”
Valentine pulled a keg tap out of his pocket. “Come on Hodge, let’s tap this baby,” he said. “I got a lonnnng waiting list of customers who’ve already paid for a drink.”
Hodge held up his hand. “Not so fast,” he said. “Before we get this party started, I want what you promised me.”
Valentine rolled his eyes. “Fine,” he said, and made a quick little flourish with his hand. “You are now released from your curse. You’re free to leave the Institute.”
“Yessssss!” said Hodge.
“That’s why you betrayed us?” said Clary.
“Hodge, there was never any curse!” said Jace. “We just made it up so you wouldn’t sell the place.”
“Surrre,” said Hodge, putting on his coat.
“Well if Hodge is leaving, I’m certainly not gonna stay and party with you losers,” said Valentine. He lifted the keg with the dolly and turned toward the portal. “Hey, any chance you guys have one of those big plastic keg buckets?”
Jace and Isabelle gave each other a look. “Now!” said Jace, and they charged at Valentine. Valentine smiled and effortlessly knocked them to the ground with a punch and a karate kick.
“Fine, I’ll just get a bucket at BevMo,” said Valentine. He wheeled the keg through the portal, and the portal went dark.
“I’m going after him!” said Clary.
“You can’t,” said Jace. “The portal can only be on for a limited amount of time per day.”
“And even if the portal were on, you still couldn’t use it,” said Hodge. “Because I’ve just cast a spell on you, locking you inside an invisible box!” He laughed evilly.
Clary took several large steps forward. “Hmmmm, that’s interesting, your box doesn’t seem to be working,” she said.
“Um…that’s because you’re still in the box,” said Hodge.
Clary walked all the way across the room.
“Still not working,” she said.
“That’s because I made the box move along with you,” said Hodge. “Okay, have fun spending the rest of your life trapped inside an invisible box. I’m outta here!”
Hodge ran out of the room and down the stairway. Clary looked out the window and saw Hodge race out the front door.
“Wa-hooooo!” shouted Hodge, running away through the gate. “I’m freeeeeeee!”
Clary ran out after Hodge. He was the only one who might know where Valentine had taken the keg, and she needed to find him. When she got outside, she saw Simon standing next to his car.
“Where’s that dolly?” he said. “Isabelle was supposed to bring it back. If I don’t return it to my dad he’ll kill me!”
“Did you see Hodge run out here?” said Clary.
“Which way did he run?”
“He didn’t run anywhere,” said Simon. “He just got into an Uber and they drove off.”
“What’s wrong?” said Simon. “Did you forget to tell Hodge to say you referred him so you could get a $10 Uber credit?”
“Nope, it’s much worse than that,” said Clary. “Hang on, I’ll go grab your dolly and then fill you in.”
She went back inside and headed to the library. When she got there, she was surprised to see a werewolf sitting beside Alec, holding a bunch of “Get Well” balloons.
“Clary, this is Lucian,” said Jace. “He says he and Alec have been dating recently.”
Clary went up to Lucian and offered her hand. “Nice to meet you,” she said.
He laughed. “I believe we’ve already met.”
They had? Clary studied his face. She’d seen it before…but where?
Suddenly it clicked.
“Luke?” she said.
“Yep,” said Luke. “Sorry to spring this on you. I’m a werewolf.”
“At least now I get why your back was so hairy,” said Clary. “But wait, how did you and Alec end up…”
“We met at the vampires’ lair the night of Magnus’ Party,” he said. “Remember all the werewolves crashing through the windows? That was me and my buds. You ran off before I could find you, but then Alec came by looking for you. We kinda hit it off and he asked me out.”
“And you said yes?”
Luke shrugged. “After your mom disappeared, I did a little soul searching, and I realized that all I ever did with women was hook up with them. I never had any real emotional connection. So I figured, hey, what the heck, maybe I’ll try men. And it’s been amazing so far.”
“Well, I wish you both the best,” said Clary. “Hey, any chance you know where Valentine is?”
Luke looked concerned. “Why do you ask?”
“He’s got both the Mortal Keg and Mom,” said Clary. “Luke, I can’t lose her. She’s my only parent left.”
Luke sighed. “Actually, Clary, she’s not your only parent left.”
“What?” said Clary.
“Valentine…is your father.”
“Oh no you didn’t,” said Clary.
“It’s true,” said Luke.
Tears filled Clary’s eyes. Jace put his arms around Clary, comforting her, and then kissed her on the lips tenderly.
“Ew!” said Luke, shielding his eyes. “Gross gross gross! That was the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen!”
“Why?” said Jace.
“Because Valentine is your father, too!”
Jace and Clary threw each other off and frantically wiped their mouths.
“Yuck!” said Jace.
“I am so glad I didn’t let you touch my boobs,” said Clary.
“You did let me squeeze them once with your shirt on, remember?” said Jace.
“TMI!” said Luke, covering his ears. “Come on, let’s focus. We need to find Valentine.”
“And how exactly do you propose to do that?” said Jace. “He could be anywhere.”
“No he couldn’t,” said Clary. “Remember, these portals stink. They only transport you like 10 blocks. Pull up Google Maps and let’s look at what’s within 10 blocks of here.”
Luke went to the computer on Hodge’s desk and opened up Google Maps.
“So Valentine’s hideout must be in one of these buildings,” said Luke, pointing at a circular area of the map around the Institute. “But which one?”
“Well he loves making money,” said Clary. “So find the building that would help him do that.”
“Here’s a Chipotle!” said Luke.
Jace shook his head. “Chipotles actually make less than you think,” he said. “Sure they make a lot on food, but they also lose a ton because everybody asks for water cups and then uses them to get soda.”
“How about this jewelry store?” said Luke.
“That’s an okay guess,” said Clary, “but I see something even better.” She pointed at another building on the map
Luke smiled and nodded. “I think you nailed it,” he said. “That place is a money making machine!”
“What is it?” said Jace, and he walked over to the computer and saw where Clary was pointing:
A building labelled “NY Memorial Hospital.”