Harper’s eyes were red and puffy, like she’d been crying all night, and her makeup-smeared raccoon eyes only added to that effect. But what had happened with Daniel last night seemed to be replaced by her new focus on getting to Diana as quickly as possible.
“Wait a second,” Brian said. “Harper’s supposed to be at college. What is she doing here?”
“She came in to see Daniel last night for his birthday, and she’s going back to school in the morning,” Gemma said, since she wasn’t sure how much—if anything—her sister wanted their dad to know about the big fight with Daniel last night. “Well, she was. I’m not sure if she will now.”
Brian scowled, deep lines marring his tanned face. “I told her that she shouldn’t come to town for that. She’s already missing so much school already.”
“Are you talking about me?” Harper asked as she came back inside. “I’ll get my homework. I’ll e-mail teachers, it’ll be fine. But this is too important.”
Harper sat down in the living room chair and opened her computer on her lap. Brian might have lectured her about the importance of actually going to school, but by the intense expression in her eyes, he must’ve known she wasn’t listening right now.
“So where’s Lydia?” Gemma asked, turning her attention back to Marcy. “Is she coming with us?”
“She’s in Sundham still, but yeah, she insisted on coming along. She wants to help ensure that everything goes okay.”
“Are you coming, too?” Gemma asked.
Marcy snorted. “Duh. I’m not missing a chance to meet a goddess. This is pretty much what I’ve been waiting for my whole life.”
“Okay, I got it. Charleston, West Virginia, from Capri.” Harper looked up from the computer screen and tucked her dark hair behind her ears. “It looks like it’s almost a nine-hour drive.”
Gemma grimaced. “That sounds too long.”
“What do you mean?” Harper asked.
“That’s so far away from water. When I go to Sundham, I get really bad headaches, and Sundham’s not even that far from the ocean. The watersong has a crazy pull,” Gemma explained. “Driving for sixteen hours round-trip, we’d be gone for over a day. I’d rather not be that far inland for so long.”
“Are you sure you’ll be able to handle it all?” Harper asked.
“I’ll make myself handle what I need to, but we have to keep this trip as short as possible,” Gemma said. “Besides that, if I’m gone too long, the sirens will notice I’m missing, and we really don’t want that.”
“Are you telling the sirens you’re leaving?” Brian asked her.
“Um…” Gemma thought for a second. “I’ll tell Thea I’m gonna go visit Harper in Sundham. That way, if they see that I’m gone or something, it will seem less suspicious.”
“Is it safe for you to go? With the watersong and the sirens, maybe you should stay behind,” Brian said with a mixture of vulnerability and worry in his expression that tore at Gemma’s heart.
Her dad wanted to tell her not to go, to forbid her, but to do that would only make things worse. As dangerous as he might fear this would be, he understood that this might be Gemma’s last hope at breaking free.
“Dad, I have to go.” She smiled at him and shrugged helplessly. “Diana might be the one who can break the curse. I have to be there.”
“I should come with you,” he said firmly.
“No, you don’t need to. I’ll have Harper, and Lydia is an expert at these things,” Gemma assured him.
“I’ll also be there,” Marcy added.
“See? I’ll be totally fine,” Gemma said, but Brian didn’t look completely convinced.
Truth was, she wasn’t completely convinced either. She really had no idea for sure who Diana was or what they’d be walking into. Gemma was willing to try just about anything by now, but she didn’t want to get her dad more mixed up in all this mess than he absolutely needed to be.
“There’s a flight leaving from Salisbury airport at 6:52,” Harper said. “That’s in … just over two hours, and the airport is a half hour away. We can make it, but only if we hurry.” Without waiting to see if anyone agreed with it, she got up and grabbed the house phone off the cradle. “I’ll call and see if I can get tickets. Dad, let me have your credit card.”
“What?” Brian asked, startled by her abruptness.
“Sorry, Dad.” Harper smiled sheepishly at him and held out her hand. “I’ll pay you back, but any money I have right now is in my savings account, and we kinda need these tickets now.”
“No, don’t worry about it. You do what you need to do.”
While Harper dialed the number for the airport, Brian left to get his wallet.
“I should go get dressed,” Gemma said. “Do I need to bring anything?”
“The scroll, probably,” Marcy suggested, looking down at herself. “I’ll run home and change, ’cause I can’t exactly meet a deity in my PJs, and I’ll be back in like twenty minutes to pick you guys up. I’ll text Lydia and have her meet us at the airport, since that’ll be quicker than going up to Sundham to get her.”
“Sounds good,” Gemma said, just as her dad returned with the credit card for Harper.
“All right. See you all later.” Marcy pushed open the screen door, then looked at Brian and winked. “Nice undies, Mr. Fisher.”
The farther they got from the ocean, the more intense Gemma’s headache became. Harper sat in the window seat, flipping through the book on Roman mythology Gemma had brought, because Gemma’s head hurt too much to concentrate. She’d had to read the same sentence over and over, and she still didn’t even really understand what it was about.
The morning sun only made her migraine worse, so Gemma reached over and closed the shade.
“Your head’s really bothering you?” Harper asked quietly.
“Not too bad,” Gemma lied, and forced a smile.
And then, as if to somehow prove she wasn’t in agonizing pain or maybe to distract herself, she decided to make conversation. Marcy and Lydia were sitting across the aisle of the plane from her, so she looked over at them.
For most of the flight, none of them had spoken much. Harper was reading the book, Gemma was trying futilely to sleep, Lydia had some of Audra’s notes laid out on the tray and was going through them, and Marcy was typing feverishly on her phone.