“That can’t possibly be true,” Daniel said wearily.
“You’ve had it in for him for a long time, and I’m going straight to the police right now to tell them that,” the mayor threatened.
“I had nothing to do with Aiden’s disappearance,” Daniel lied, because he couldn’t tell him about the sirens and what they had done to Aiden.
But just then, Daniel would have given anything to tell the mayor the truth. As angry as Mayor Crawford was, he was just a scared father looking for his son, and if Daniel could give him any peace, he would’ve.
“I wouldn’t say nothing,” Penn said, giggling, and Daniel glared back at her.
She smiled and stood up, adjusting the hem of her short dress as she did. She stepped over to the mayor, squeezing into the space between him and Daniel. Putting her hand on his chest, she stared up at him with her charcoal eyes, and he melted as soon as he looked in them.
“Mayor Crawford, I think you’re mistaken,” she purred.
“What is she doing?” Alex asked quietly, leaning toward Daniel. “Is she helping you?”
Daniel shook his head because there was no easy way to answer. If he took the fall for Aiden’s murder, it would be much more work for Penn to get him out of jail, so she could have her way with him.
“What?” The mayor sounded like a man waking from a dream.
“Daniel would never hurt your son.” Penn reached up, slicking back the strand that had come loose from the mayor’s hair. “And he was with me all night. So there’s no way he could’ve done anything to Aiden.”
“But then…” The mayor’s face scrunched up, like he knew he should be worried about something else, but he just couldn’t seem to make himself think of anything but Penn and her voice. “Where’s Aiden?”
“I heard he ran off with a girl. Some hot model,” Penn lied in the convincing way that only a siren could, the melody in her voice making the mayor believe anything she wanted him to. “He went to a tropical beach to live it up, and he can’t use his cell phone. He’ll be gone for a while, but you don’t need to worry or look for him. Aiden is fine, and you won’t ever try to find out what happened to him again.”
“He’s fine.” A relieved smile spread out on the mayor’s face, and something about that made Daniel feel sick to his stomach. “I don’t even know why I was worried. Hmm. Are you busy tonight? You could join me for dinner.”
“I have other plans, but thanks for the offer,” Penn said. “Why don’t you go hit on the future Miss Capri instead?”
“Maybe I will. Thank you.” He smiled and was reluctant to look away from her, but when he did, he was back to his usual smooth political face. “Sorry for bothering you all, and I hope you enjoy the rest of the At Summer’s End Festival.”
Mayor Crawford walked away, presumably to hit on Miss Capri, and Daniel shook his head. He sat back down at the table and took a long swallow of his beer.
“What was all that about?” Alex asked, sitting back down next to him. “Do you know what happened to Aiden?”
“You’ll have to ask Liv about that,” Daniel said. He glanced over and saw a look of saddened understanding flash across Alex’s face.
“Well, that was fun.” Penn sat down, and Daniel glared at her.
“I’ve never really liked the mayor, and Aiden and I definitely had our differences, but that was sick, Penn. He just lost his son, and you convinced him that instead of looking for him, he should go cheat on his wife.”
She shrugged. “He cheats on his wife all the time, and he wanted to run off with me right now. That was his idea, not mine.”
Daniel shook his head. “That was one of the more twisted things I’ve seen you do.”
“Would you rather have let him keep searching for his son?” Penn asked. “They’d eventually trace it back to you, and I bet they could find Aiden’s blood on your boat.”
“That man has a right to mourn his son,” Daniel persisted.
“So you’re not even gonna thank me for taking the heat off you?” Penn pretended to pout and stared up at him.
“Are you kidding me?” Daniel was nearly shouting. He hadn’t been so close to smacking Penn in a very long time. “You’re the reason the heat is on me. You’re the one that got Aiden killed and dragged me in to help clean up the mess.”
“I didn’t kill him. Liv did.”
“Liv is your fault,” he told her. “You made her. Everything she does is because of you.”
“Whatever.” She gave a half shrug and tossed her hair. “The sooner we go through with our plan, the sooner I’ll get rid of Liv. Just like you wanted.” She leaned forward, her smile growing hungrier. “Why don’t we go out to your place right now?”
“Not tonight,” he said firmly.
“Why the hell not?” Penn snapped, and her smile instantly dropped. “Like you have anything better going on?”
“I need to get some things in order first.”
“Like what?” Penn demanded to know.
It would have been nice if he had a few more days to get what was left in his life sorted out, but that wasn’t the real reason he was stalling. According to her text message, Gemma thought she was really close to breaking the curse, and this would all be over. If Daniel could get out of this without sleeping with Penn, that would be amazing.
“They’re my things, Penn. All right? Don’t worry about it.”
“Then when?” she asked.
“A few more days.” He had to give her some kind of answer, and that ought to buy him enough time. Hopefully.
She scoffed. “That’ll almost be the full moon.”
“Why don’t we wait until after the full moon then?” Daniel suggested. “It’ll be easier for everyone.”
“I don’t think I can wait that long,” Penn whined.
He looked over at her. “I’m giving you forever. That’s what you’ve asked me for, and I’ll do it. Just give me a few more days.”
“Whatever. You need to hurry up and go through with this before I change my mind. You saw what Liv is capable of, but what she can do is nothing compared to what I have in store for you if you betray me.” With that, Penn got up and sauntered off, leaving him alone with Alex, who was giving him the strangest look.