“You know exactly what I’m getting worked up about, and I don’t want to hear another word from you,” Penn growled. “Is that clear?”
Liv started to mutter something, and Penn yanked on her arm. By the way Liv grimaced, Daniel figured it had to be painful.
When they’d reached Penn’s cherry red convertible across the street, Penn all but tossed Liv inside. Liv scowled as she adjusted herself in the backseat.
“Put the top up and stay here,” Penn commanded.
“I don’t want the top up,” Liv whined.
Penn leaned down, putting her arms on the car door, and her face was only inches away from Liv’s. “I don’t give a flying fuck what you want. Do you understand me? Now put the top up and wait in the damn car.”
She walked a little ways down the sidewalk, presumably far enough that Liv wouldn’t overhear her. Daniel wasn’t exactly sure what she wanted with him, but he knew better than to argue with her right now.
The bronze skin of her face began to subtly ripple. Blue glitter had been painted along her cheek, going up her temple to look like waves, and the restrained movement added to the effect. Liv had really set Penn off, Daniel realized, and she was fighting the urge to transition.
Daniel considered saying something, but he was afraid that he’d only make it worse. So he just waited until Penn had calmed down enough that her skin returned to its usual smooth state. She took a deep breath and ran her hand through her long, raven hair.
“I wanna kill her,” she said icily. “I want to kill her. But I’m not going to.” She looked up at him, her dark eyes sparkling, and she smiled thinly. “You wanted me to. I saw that. I saw the little stunt you pulled back there, trying to get me to kill her to save you. I’m not falling for that anymore. The next time someone goes after you, I’m gonna let them.”
“That sounds fair,” Daniel said.
“I’m not killing any more of my girls for you. Unless it’s Gemma. Then say the word, and she’ll be gone like that.” She snapped her fingers.
He sighed. “That doesn’t even make sense. Liv is way worse than Gemma. She’s the one who keeps losing her shit and defying you.”
“Liv might be terrible,” Penn went on, and her tone became more calm and reasonable. “But she’s like a child, and that’s why she’ll work. She’ll be a whiny baby, throw her tantrums, but if I stay firm—and we all know that I’ll stay firm—then she’ll learn. I can mold her into what I want. She can be the sister that I’d always hoped Lexi would be but never was.
“But Gemma.” She shook her head. “I chose her because she seemed the most suited to the siren lifestyle, but as soon as she turned, I knew we’d made a mistake. She’s too…” Penn seemed to be searching for the word before wearily deciding on “unbreakable.”
“You seem to have a lot of failed minions lately,” Daniel commented. “Lexi, Gemma, now Liv. Is this why you dragged me out here? So you could vent about your problems with your staff?”
“Isn’t that what boyfriends are for?” Penn reached out and touched his arm in a coy gesture and bit her lip.
Daniel rolled his eyes as he threw back his head and laughed. “I am not your boyfriend, Penn.”
All the good humor instantly disappeared from her expression, and she pulled her arm back. Daniel knew he’d done the wrong thing, but he couldn’t help himself.
“You don’t need to laugh. And you’ll be singing a different song come Wednesday.”
“Assuming you hold up your end of the bargain,” he reminded her.
Penn narrowed her eyes. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You have this time bomb, Liv, running around.” He motioned to the car, where Liv was pouting. “And you were going to have her stay with Harper? If she’d hurt Harper, this whole deal would be off.”
“You think you can back out of this?” Penn put one hand on his chest and pulled at the collar of his flannel shirt as she smiled up at him. “You think I’d just let you go?”
“Yes, I do,” Daniel growled. “This is our deal, Penn.” He gestured between himself and Penn. “You agreed to the rules. You’re the one who risks breaking it.”
“I don’t give a shit what Liv does.” She was still smiling as she spoke, but her tenor had gotten decidedly vicious, making his blood run cold. “She could kill Harper, your mom, your dad, your third cousin twice-removed. But as long as there’s one person left on this earth that you care about, then you’re mine.”
“So if you even joke about canceling, I will rip Harper’s head off,” she said, cutting off his protests. “And then I will place it at the end of the bed, so she can watch it when I ravage you. Because if you don’t, then I’ll move on to the next thing you care about, and the next thing, and the next thing. Gemma, Alex, your parents, even the stupid waitress at that diner you love so much. I will destroy everything.”
Daniel swallowed hard, still staring down into her black eyes, and he knew she meant every word she said. “You do what you promised, Penn, and I’ll do whatever I need to do.”
“So, I’ll see you Wednesday?” Penn asked, and her voice returned to its usual silky cheer.
“At eight o’clock,” he replied without missing a beat.
“Good.” She moved away from him, walking backward to her car. “I should get Liv out of here before she decides she needs a little snack.”
“Penn!” Gemma called, and Daniel looked over to see her standing on the other side of the street with Thea. “Wait. I wanted to talk to you.”
Gemma jogged across the street, trying to stop Penn before she took off, and Thea followed at a much slower pace.
“We need to talk about this Liv problem,” Gemma said when she’d reached Penn.
“There is no Liv problem,” Penn said as she opened the car door. “Now get lost.”
“Penn!” Gemma yelled, but Penn just got in the car. Gemma hit the car window, trying to make her roll it down, but she refused to. “Come on, Penn.”
Penn waited just long enough for Thea to get in the passenger side, then she slammed on the gas and sped away. She nearly hit another car, but Daniel doubted that Penn was the kind of girl who ever looked where she was going anyway.