Killing Penn would be easier said than done, but still Harper felt rejuvenated. They were closer to breaking the curse than they had been before, and that was something, at least.
After they’d finally gotten home, Gemma had gone out for a much-needed swim, and Harper had gone to bed. When she woke up, she’d e-mailed teachers and classmates to try to get her homework and notes from the two days of classes she’d missed.
Gemma woke up much later in the day, and when Harper tried to talk to her about ways to kill Penn or destroy the ink, Gemma didn’t seem interested in the conversation at all.
“Don’t you have homework or something?” Gemma asked, after Harper had been grilling her for a while about why she wasn’t more excited about their latest findings. Gemma had been rooting through the fridge, looking for something to eat, and Harper leaned against the counter, watching her.
“I do, but it’s Labor Day on Monday, so I have a three-day weekend to get everything done.”
“Then we have three more days to try to figure this all out.” Gemma settled on a packet of the deli-sliced roast beef that her dad used for his lunches, eating it plain. “Why don’t you relax or study or something right now?”
With that, Gemma turned and walked away, saying she was going over to Alex’s as she went out to the front door.
Harper shook her head and decided to check in with outside help. Lydia had mentioned that Professor Pine was consulting an expert about the scroll. She had his number in her phone, but she’d gotten it from Lydia, not Pine personally, so she felt a bit weird about calling him.
But she quickly got over it. She was stumped, and he might know something.
It seemed to ring forever, but then he finally picked up, his voice sounding tinny and oddly far away.
“Hi, this is Harper Fisher,” she said. “Sorry to call you. I know it’s a bit unorthodox, but I just—”
Pine cut her off with an easy laugh. “No, don’t worry about it. I planned on calling you soon. I’m actually working your, uh, case right now.”
“Yeah, Lydia Panning told me you were consulting someone.”
“I’m visiting someone, actually. I’m in Macedonia right now, with the copies you gave me.”
“What? Macedonia?” Harper asked, which explained the strange sound in their connection.
“Yeah, I have a friend out here who is really great at translating dead languages, and we’re definitely making some headway,” Pine explained.
“Really? That’s fantastic.”
“I’m flying back on Monday, and I was hoping to have some real concrete answers for you then,” Pine said. “Do you want to come and see me Tuesday?”
Harper glanced over at the calendar hanging next to the fridge, as if seeing it would make Tuesday feel any closer. “There’s no way we could talk sooner?”
“Lydia and I have been going back and forth about some of the translations, and although it doesn’t seem like much, I need the extra few days to hammer out as much as I can,” he said.
“No, I understand,” Harper said, but she decided to press her luck anyway. “Can I ask what you and Lydia are disagreeing about?”
“Just phrasing here and there, like whether the word is ‘cursed’ or ‘granted,’” Pine said, then something occurred to him, because he asked, “Do you know if the sirens are connected to Jason or the Argonauts?”
“Not really.” She tried to think quickly. “According to mythology, I think the Argonauts sailed past the sirens on their journey, but they put wax in their ears and withstood the song. But Gemma’s never said anything about them, or Thea and Penn talking about them. Why?”
“I knew that Jason and the Argonauts went on a quest for the golden fleece and sailed by the sirens, and like you, I didn’t think they had any real interaction with them,” he said.
“Do you think that Jason and the Argonauts had something to do with the curse?” Harper asked, and she was already scrambling to remember if Lydia had mentioned anything about their being alive or not.
“Not exactly.” He let out breath through his teeth. “Not at all, actually. I think there might be a mention of ‘golden fleece’ in the scroll, and the most famous connection to the golden fleece is the Argonauts.
“But that’s what Lydia and I are disagreeing on,” Pine said. “She thinks the word might actually be ‘skin,’ and not ‘fleece,’ since back in the day, people sometimes referred to the wool on a ram as his skin. And if it’s ‘golden skin,’ that could just be a reference to the sirens’ beauty.”
“Are you sure?” Harper asked.
Pine laughed. “No. I’m not sure about any of this. But on this thing, since there’s no other mention of the Argonauts, I think Lydia is probably right. We are making progress, and honestly, in a perfect world, we’d have longer than a weekend to go over this.”
“Yeah, of course. Sorry.” Harper pushed her hair off her forehead and nodded. “If you want to wait until Tuesday to talk, that’d be fine.”
“Great. I should be a bit more sure of things by then,” he said. “So I’ll see—”
“Is there anything about the ink?” Harper asked, interrupting him before he got off the phone.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“Does the scroll say anything about the ink it’s written in?”
“Um, not really,” Pine answered slowly. “I’ll be on the lookout for it, though.”
“I think the ink might be important,” Harper said, not wanting to explain to him about Diana or what she’d said. She didn’t know how much Pine knew about what was happening, but she didn’t want to drag him deeper into the mess than he needed to be.
“If I find anything about the ink before Tuesday, I’ll give you a call, okay?” Pine offered.
“Yeah. That sounds great,” Harper said. “And thanks again.”
“Are you kidding me?” He laughed. “I live for this stuff.”
Harper hung up her phone and stared down at the unchanging scroll in front of her. She knew she could sit staring at it for hours, and nothing would come of it. Soon, she found her thoughts wandering back to the one place she’d been trying to keep them from the last two days—Daniel.
Since she’d left his place on Wednesday night, she hadn’t spoken to him. It wasn’t just that she didn’t know what to say. She didn’t even know how she really felt. It hurt, and she was definitely still mad at him … but deep down, she still loved him, and it didn’t feel right leaving things like she had.