“I know.” Gemma sounded so weary just then, but when she spoke again, her voice was stronger, more confident. “That’s why it’s so important that I work even harder. I’ve been practicing more, trying to harness the siren powers, and if Penn doesn’t get Liv under control, I think I might have to take care of her myself.”
“You’re planning to kill Liv?” Harper asked, forcing herself to keep her words even.
Gemma nodded. “If I need to, yeah. If we don’t break the curse soon, I can’t let her keep running around like she is now. She’ll kill everybody if she has the chance.”
“But are you ready for something like that?” Harper asked.
“I don’t know. But I’m getting myself ready. I’m not gonna go after her right now. But … soon.”
Naturally, Harper wanted to yell at Gemma and tell her she couldn’t do any of that. It was way too dangerous going up against another siren like that, especially one as crazed as Liv.
But deep down, Harper knew that Gemma was right. Liv couldn’t be left to run loose, terrorizing everyone in Capri like some kind of sexy Godzilla. Gemma was much stronger than Harper, and if she got a handle on her siren strength, then she would be able to take Liv out much better than anybody else could.
For the first time, Harper truly realized that she couldn’t fight Gemma’s battles. She would help her every chance she got, and she’d always have her back. But some things, Gemma would have to take care of herself.
“Don’t do anything that will get you hurt,” Harper said. “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
Gemma leaned over and hugged Harper. It had been a long time since Gemma had initiated a hug with her, and for a moment, Harper just let herself linger in the moment, letting her little sister comfort her.
“Anyway, I’ve had a very long night, and it seems like you have, too. We can talk about all of this in the morning.” Gemma stopped and looked over at Harper. “Will you still be here in the morning?”
“For a little bit. I’ll be up kinda early to get back to school.”
“I’ll be up.”
Just before Gemma left the room, Harper asked, “Gemma, you don’t … Do you think Daniel wanted to have sex with Penn? And that’s why he didn’t tell me?”
And it wasn’t until she said it aloud that she realized that she’d been afraid it was true. Some small part of her believed that Daniel lied to her because he secretly found her lacking and wanted to spend the night with someone far more experienced and beautiful than her.
“No.” Gemma shook her head emphatically. “He seemed genuinely upset about it, and when I’ve talked to him about Penn, he’s never expressed anything but disgust for her. Sleeping with her would have been as terrible for him as it would have been for you.”
After Gemma left, Harper climbed under the covers and curled up in her bed. She was still wearing Daniel’s shirt, and it smelled sweetly of him. As she cried softly into her pillow, Harper had no idea if she’d done the right thing with Daniel. The one thing she did know was that she still loved him desperately.
It was still dark out when the doorbell rang. Gemma trudged down the stairs, cursing under her breath as she went to answer the door.
“Who’s here?” Brian asked as he stumbled out of his bedroom, still half-asleep.
“Not sure. I’m getting it now,” Gemma called up to him.
Whoever it was had stopped ringing the bell and resorted to pounding incessantly on the front door. Gemma opened the door midpound and found Marcy in a weird, owl pajama jumper and acid-wash jean jacket combo.
“Marcy. What the he—”
“Lydia found her,” Marcy said, sounding more excited than Gemma had ever heard her sound before. “She’s found Diana.”
“Marcy’s here?” Brian asked. “Is everything okay?”
“Yeah, everything’s fine,” Gemma shouted, and somehow managed to keep from jumping up and down in excitement.
“Hasn’t she ever heard of a phone?” her dad muttered, and she heard the upstairs bathroom door squeak shut as he went inside.
“So Lydia really found the Diana?” Gemma asked Marcy.
“Diana?” Harper echoed from the top of the stairs, and she raced down the stairs to join Gemma in the open doorway.
“When? How?” Gemma asked.
“Just now. Lydia’s been crawling through Audra’s notes and Thalia’s diary, and she knew she was close, so she was staying up all night, and she finally did it.” Marcy broke out in an uncharacteristically broad smile.
“Where is Diana?” Harper asked, sounding out of breath. “She’s alive, right? When can we see her?”
“Yes, she’s alive,” Marcy said, and Harper let out a sigh of relief. “She lives just outside Charleston, West Virginia, and we can see her as soon as we get ready and go.”
“West Virginia?” Gemma wrinkled her nose. “That seems like a strange place for a goddess in hiding to live.”
“Yeah, well it’s strange that jellyfish don’t have eyes, girls have to pee sitting down, and that you’re a mythical creature,” Marcy said. “So let’s not start splitting hairs now about what’s strange.”
“What’s going on?” Brian asked. He came down the stairs and flicked on the overhead light. “You found somebody?”
Gemma turned back to see her dad walking down the stairs. A five o’clock shadow colored his face, and he ran a hand through his sandy hair. He was only wearing a T-shirt and boxers, but he seemed too sleepy to really care that company was seeing him that way.
“Yeah, you remember Diana?” Gemma asked him. “She’s the goddess that helped Thalia out of the muse thing.”
His blue eyes widened as he became more alert. “And she’ll be able to help you?”
Gemma nodded. “We hope so.”
“How far away is Charleston?” Harper asked, then she turned around, scanning the room. “Where’s my laptop?” Then she stopped. “Shit. I think I left it in my car last night.”
As she brushed past Marcy and dashed out into the chilly night, Brian stared after her in confusion.
The jagged scar on Harper’s thigh from the car accident extended long past the hem of Daniel’s shirt, but she didn’t seem to notice even though she was normally very self-conscious about anyone’s seeing it, even Gemma or their dad. But she ran outside to grab her laptop from her car without a second thought.