He raised both his eyebrows in surprise. “That’s oddly precise.”
“We have a Founder’s Day Picnic every year on the fourteenth of June.” She shrugged.
“So Capri—your Capri—is a relatively young town, at least compared to the island off Italy, which was settled nearly two thousand years ago.” He paused as he stared out the window. “What are the odds of an ancient Greek scroll just happening to turn up in a fairly modern town named after an ancient Greek island?”
“I don’t know,” Harper said. “The town was founded by a man from Greece, and he named it after an island where he’d spent his childhood because it reminded him of Capri. Or at least that’s what they told me in grade school.”
“That’s the thing.” Pine leaned forward and rested his elbows on his desk. “According to the pictures you have on your phone, that scroll has some signs and hints at possibly being old, but that seems like too much of a happenstance, doesn’t it?”
“I’d never really thought about it,” Harper admitted.
And she hadn’t. In her research of Greek mythology, she had learned that sirens were from the island of Anthemusa, and by some texts, that was believed to be an earlier name for the island of Capri.
When Harper had read that, she hadn’t given it much thought. It never seemed all that relevant why the sirens had chosen her Capri. It seemed far more important to try to figure out how to get rid of them. At one point, Harper had just assumed that the sirens had stopped there because the name reminded them of home, and then they’d gotten caught up in turning Gemma.
But none of the sirens seemed to be particularly nostalgic, and on many occasions, both Penn and Lexi had talked about how much they hated it there and how they wanted to get out. Now, with Professor Pine pointing out the obvious correlation, Harper began to wonder what exactly had drawn the sirens to Capri in the first place.
“I just don’t trust things that are coincidental. But, you know, obviously, I don’t think you or your sister are trying to dupe anybody with this,” Pine went on. “I don’t think you made this or are attempting some kind of a hoax, although you might have one being perpetrated on you.”
“I don’t know about that.” Harper lowered her eyes and shook her head.
“And I would be more than happy to take a look at the real thing if you could bring it in,” Pine said. “In fact, you’d be doing me a favor. I’d really love to get my hands on it. Even if there’s only the slightest chance that the thing is legit.”
“My sister is pretty attached to it, but I’m going home this weekend. I’ll see if I can get her to part with it for a few days.”
That would be easier said than done. Gemma didn’t like allowing the scroll out of her sight for too long, afraid that Penn would find it, or it would disappear.
“Well, if you can get it, let me know.” Pine leaned back in his chair. “It’d be really interesting to see what it turns up.”
Thanking him, Harper closed his office door behind her, realizing dourly that she was leaving with more questions than she’d come with. But at the top of her list was figuring out what language the scroll was written in and finding out why the sirens had come to Capri.
Daniel slipped on his work boots just as his phone began to vibrate in his pocket. Harper had been text messaging him on her break between classes, and he’d showered and gotten dressed while reading her lengthy explanation about her meeting with the professor at college.
Unfortunately, neither Harper nor Gemma appeared to be making much headway with the scroll. Daniel helped as much as he could, but so far, that mostly amounted to letting them bounce ideas off him and contributing when he could.
He’d hoped that they’d be closer to cracking this curse by now. Mostly, it was for the obvious reasons—he wanted Gemma safe and free, and since the sirens killed without mercy, they needed to be stopped.
But there was a selfish reason, too. He wanted a reprieve from his “date” with Penn. In order to keep Harper and Gemma safe, he’d agreed to let Penn have her way with him. They’d decided on last Friday as the official day for it, but since he’d been injured on Thursday during the fight with Lexi, Penn had postponed things until he healed.
They had yet to set a new date, and that was making him nervous. Penn wasn’t the type to wait for things. He was afraid she was brewing some other mischief, something that could hurt him or Harper or Gemma even worse.
But right now, he pushed Penn from his mind. He pulled his phone out from his pocket, knowing he needed to focus on his girlfriend. He loved Harper, and if he wanted to be with her, he couldn’t spend all his time worrying about Penn.
So he can’t really tell me anything until I bring him the scroll, Harper texted.
Sorry the teacher couldn’t help you more, Daniel texted back as he walked out of his house.
He locked the door behind him even though he lived out on Bernie’s Island because he didn’t trust Penn or the other sirens not to go in and rummage through his things. Locking the door wouldn’t stop them if they really wanted to get in, but at least there’d be evidence of a break-in, so he’d know they’d been there.
Daniel had made it halfway down the trail to the boathouse when he got another text from Harper: So I was thinking about coming to town for your birthday next week.
Daniel stopped to reply to her since texting and walking had never been his strong suit. He was a few feet away from the boathouse, standing among the cypress and pines, when he typed back to her, You don’t have to do that. We can just celebrate this weekend.
“Ooh, it’s your birthday next week?” Penn asked, her voice mellifluous in his ear.
“Holy crap, Penn.” He wheeled around, shoving his phone in his pocket before she could read any more of the messages, and tried to look like she hadn’t scared him. “You can’t sneak up on a guy like that.”
Penn smiled, apparently proud of having frightened him. Her black hair was dripping wet down her back, and her dress was soaking, so it clung to her flesh. She usually flew over on her visits to the island, but maybe since it was the middle of the afternoon, she thought swimming would be less conspicuous than a giant bird flying in the sky.
“Sorry,” Penn said, without the slightest hint of sincerity.
“How did you do that, anyway? You didn’t make a sound.” He gestured out to Anthemusa Bay behind her, which should’ve made some kind of noise when she climbed out. Not to mention all the pine needles and twigs on the ground that should’ve crunched or cracked under her feet.