Aiden slowly turned toward her, and he had that familiar glossy look in his brown eyes. It was the same one she’d seen in Sawyer’s before, and it made her stomach knot up. Sawyer had been so completely under the sirens’ spell, he’d been unable to save himself. Gemma had tried, but it had been too little, too late, and Lexi had murdered him.
“Jealous, Gemma?” Aiden asked with a lazy smile. “You could always join in.”
“No, she most certainly cannot,” Liv hissed with an ugly venom.
“Sorry.” Aiden shook his head. “I don’t know why I said that. You should get lost, Gemma.”
“I wouldn’t have joined in anyway,” Gemma said. “What I’m saying is that you’re drawing a lot of attention when you should probably be keeping a low profile.”
“Why? I’m the star of the play,” Aiden said, and that wasn’t the siren spell talking. That was the kind of thing Aiden would normally say. “Everyone should look at me, and Liv is the hottest girl in the room.”
“Aw.” Liv giggled.
“Liv, you had your fun,” Gemma said. “Come on. You should spend some time with me, so we can get to know each other. You said you wanted to be friends, right?”
“I’ve already made a new friend, Gemma,” Liv insisted. “And if it’s bothering you so much, maybe we should just get a room.”
Gemma knew what it was like to be new and ravenous—an uncontrollable hunger gnawing just beneath the surface. Romance and fear both stoked the beast within, but really, if Liv hadn’t fed yet, then anything would make her hunger flare and spark the transformation.
The one and only time Gemma had allowed herself to become the monster, it had been terrifying, and it had turned into a bloody mess. She’d actually been unable to stop it, and she couldn’t let Liv get to the point of no return. Because then it wouldn’t be just Aiden that she’d have to worry about—everyone in the ballroom would be in danger.
“We’re in a hotel, so we can just go right upstairs.” Liv bit her lip as she looked at Aiden.
“Yeah, we could have our own room in a matter of minutes.” Aiden smiled and wrapped his arm around her waist. “Then nobody could tell us what to do.”
“No, that’s a horrible idea,” Gemma said firmly. “You can’t do that.”
“Gemma, we’re doing it.” Liv tried to step away, but Gemma moved and blocked her path.
“No, Liv, I don’t think you realize what you’re saying or how dangerous it is. You shouldn’t be up there alone with him or any guy.”
“I don’t think you realize how dangerous I am, Gemma.” Liv ran her tongue along her teeth, so Gemma would notice that her incisors had gotten more pointed.
Her wide eyes had gone dark, and Gemma realized dourly that Liv knew exactly what kind of monster she was. Gemma had never learned how to transform on command because she never wanted to risk even letting a little bit of the monster out, but Liv already seemed to understand and embrace it.
If Liv took Aiden up to that hotel room, Gemma was certain that he wouldn’t come back alive. And if Gemma stood in her way, she wasn’t completely sure that she’d stay alive, but she had to do something.
“You had your chance, and you weren’t into it,” Aiden said. “You don’t need to be a cock block.”
“Aiden may be a huge jerk, but I can’t let you do this,” Gemma said, her eyes fixed on Liv. “I won’t let you hurt him or anybody.”
Liv stepped closer to her. “You think you can stop me?”
“I think you need to get yourself under control, or I won’t need to stop you,” Gemma clarified. “Penn will take care of you the same way she took care of Lexi.”
“Please.” Liv scoffed. “She hates you, not me. And I can get rid of you without lifting a finger.” She smiled, then commanded, “Aiden, get rid of her.”
Aiden grabbed Gemma’s arm, but she instantly got free and glared at him.
“Get your hands off me, Aiden,” she snapped. “I am doing this for your own good, but if you touch me again, I will break your arm.”
“Is everything okay here?” Daniel asked, approaching them.
“Yeah, it’d be great if Gemma could just get out of the way,” Liv said.
“Well, she’s not going to.” Daniel stood behind Gemma and crossed his arms over his chest. “But more importantly, Penn wants to see you over there.”
“She does not,” Liv insisted with a whine in her voice, and Gemma glanced back to where Penn stood on the other side of the room. She had that devious smile, the one she got whenever she seemed to enjoy watching Gemma suffer.
“She does,” Daniel assured her. “And she asked me to come over here to get you, and if she has to come over here herself, well … that wouldn’t be good at all.”
“Ugh.” Liv groaned. “She’s worse than my mother.”
Aiden tried to follow as she walked away, but Daniel put a hand on his chest and stopped him.
“Dude,” Aiden said, giving him a hard look.
“I think it’d be better if you stayed back and cooled off,” Daniel said, and he let his arm drop when he was sure that Aiden wouldn’t follow him.
Gemma glanced back, watching, as Liv pouted to Penn. For her part, Penn looked annoyed and not at all happy to see Liv, then she turned and trudged toward the door, with Liv trailing behind her.
“This is the worst party ever,” Aiden muttered, and walked off in the direction of the bar.
“It totally is,” Gemma agreed, and ran a hand through her hair. Then she turned to Daniel. “Penn didn’t send you over to retrieve Liv, did she?”
“No, she didn’t,” Daniel admitted. “Actually, she told me that Liv was your problem, and she hoped that Liv ate Aiden’s heart in front of everyone.”
“Well, that’s pleasant,” Gemma muttered. “I can’t believe she let you come over.”
“She was too busy exchanging insults with Harper to really notice that I was even leaving until it was too late. If she had, she probably would’ve threatened me with dismemberment or death.”
“Probably,” Gemma agreed, and glanced around. “Do you think I can get out of here now? The sirens are gone, and I made an appearance, right?”
Daniel smirked. “You certainly did.”