But I want to do something special for you, Harper had texted when Penn interrupted.
Daniel? Are you still there? That was her newest text, the one that came when he didn’t respond.
Daniel stared down at the phone, unsure of what to say, and feeling worse than he’d ever felt before. While he’d been kissing Penn, Harper had been texting him, completely oblivious to the fact that Daniel was cheating on her.
He knew he’d do whatever it took to protect Harper, but he didn’t want to betray her like this. She deserved more from him.
But he knew that if he told Harper about his pact to sleep with Penn, she’d try to talk him out of it. She might even succeed. And it wouldn’t be worth it. Saving their relationship would be meaningless if it meant sacrificing Harper and Gemma’s lives.
I have to go to class. I’ll talk to you later. Love you. Harper texted him as he stared down at his phone, trying to decide not only what to reply to her but also what he should do about the whole situation with Penn.
In some strange way, that text seemed to solidify his decision. Harper loved him, she trusted him, and she needed him now more than ever. He had to protect her the only way he knew how to, even if it meant that he’d lose her forever.
Sorry. I love you, too, Daniel replied, and hoped that she truly understood how much.
“When will Penn be back?” Liv asked for the thousandth time since Penn had left earlier that afternoon.
Thea sighed loudly and flipped a page in her script. Her back was against the arm of the couch, so she could rest the book on her legs. A flyaway hair had come loose from her messy bun, and she smoothed it back and tried to ignore Liv.
“Thea?” Liv said when she didn’t respond.
“I don’t know,” Thea replied, and made no attempt to mask the annoyance in her voice.
“But I’m sooo bored,” Liv whined like a small child on the second day of summer vacation. “Can we go swimming, at least?”
Thea slid lower on the couch, so she was lying on her back, and her knees would block Liv from her field of vision. “You can go swimming with Penn when she gets back.”
“But you have no idea when she’ll be back?” Liv flicked the TV off and sat sideways on the couch, so she could face Thea fully. “Do you even know where she went?”
“Nope,” she said, but that wasn’t entirely true. She had a good idea of where Penn had gone, but she didn’t know for certain.
Penn was being unnecessarily shifty lately. An hour ago, she’d declared that she had to go somewhere and that Thea would have to stay behind with Liv. When Thea reminded her that she had a play rehearsal she needed to get to, Penn just told her that she’d done the play several times before and didn’t need the practice.
And then Penn dove off the cliff behind their house, crashing into the waves and swimming off, leaving Thea alone with Liv.
Liv sighed in frustration. “Is this why Gemma doesn’t live with you guys?”
“Gemma prefers to live with her family.”
Liv shook her head. “I don’t get that. And I thought I was supposed to be Gemma’s replacement. Why is she still here instead of Lexi?”
“We already told you. Things changed. Penn’s priorities shifted. Gemma stayed, Lexi’s gone.”
The breeze outside picked up, blowing salty air in through the broken windows on the back of the house. During the fight last week, Lexi had broken out several windows and damaged a lot of their furniture. New windows were coming in later this week, but for now, Thea taped plastic over them if it got too cold or rained, but today it was nice, and Thea enjoyed the fresh air.
As for the broken furniture, Thea and Penn hadn’t replaced much of it yet, other than getting a new television. Everything else, they basically just fixed with duct tape and set it back in its place. The entertainment center was cracked, so the TV slanted to one side, and the stuffing was coming out from the cushions on the chairs.
“Can’t we at least do something fun?” Liv asked.
“No, we can’t. I’m already missing play rehearsal right now to babysit you. So you can watch TV or entertain yourself while I read my lines.”
“Babysit?” Liv scoffed. “Why would you even say that? I don’t need a babysitter. I’m eighteen.”
“I said it because it’s true.” Thea moved her knees to the side, so she could stare directly at Liv. “You need a babysitter.”
Liv’s mouth dropped, and her eyes were pained. “That’s so mean.”
“How is it mean?” Thea sat up and set her script aside. “You’ve only been a siren since Friday, and you’ve been nothing but trouble.
“We went to all the trouble of getting campus housing to move you, so you’d room with Harper,” Thea went on. “As was our plan. Before you even became a siren, Penn told you that we wanted you to keep an eye on Harper. But instead of doing that, you attacked her, then went on a spree and killed three people, including a psych teacher. Penn and I had to drop everything to come clean up your mess.”
“Oh, that’s no big deal.” Liv waved it off with a smile. “You guys can charm your way out of anything.”
“No, it is a big deal,” Thea said, trying hard to emphasize her point. “I don’t want to spend all my time disposing of your bodies and washing up your blood. You can’t control yourself, Liv. End of story.”
“I can control myself just fine. Right now, for example, I’m perfectly composed,” Liv said in her too-sweet voice with a perfect smile plastered on her face. She actually batted her eyes, which made Thea groan.
“If you don’t like this, it’s your fault,” Thea said. “You said you wanted this. You asked to be a siren. And then we trusted you and left you on your own, and you went batshit and almost ruined everything for us.”
Liv’s smile fell, and her eyes darkened. “I did not go batshit.”
“You threw a huge tantrum because you didn’t like the way Harper talked to you. Penn asked you to do one simple thing.” Thea held up one finger to demonstrate. “One thing. She gave you the gift that you wanted, and in turn, she just wanted you to keep tabs on Harper and help find out what Gemma is up to. That’s it. And you couldn’t handle it.”
“I could handle it,” Liv insisted. “I just didn’t think it was fair.”
“Well, life isn’t fair.” Thea shrugged. “Get used to it.”