She didn’t know if he’d already slept with Penn or if there was still time to talk him out of it. She didn’t even know if he was still alive, and it was that thought that sent her into motion.
Talking on the phone wouldn’t be enough. She needed to see him, so she took the little speedboat out to his island. The whole time, as the sun shone down on her, and the seawater sprayed over her, Harper tried to practice what she wanted to say, and she kept insisting that she wouldn’t forgive and forget so easily.
But when she knocked on his door, and Daniel finally opened it, all her words and convictions fell away. She was still mad at him, but she missed him so much, it took all her willpower to keep from throwing her arms around him.
He wore his old Led Zeppelin T-shirt with Icarus on it, and the thick lines of his tattoo stretched out past the sleeve as he held the door open. His stubble seemed a bit longer than normal, and the flecks of blue in his hazel eyes stood out like sapphires.
“Hey. I wasn’t expecting you,” Daniel said after the two of them had stood mute, staring at each other for a full minute.
“I know. I thought about calling first but … I didn’t.”
“Yeah, I can see that. Come on in.” He stepped back from the door and motioned for her to enter.
When she walked by, she made a deliberate choice to put as much space between the two of them as she could. She walked into the kitchen but stopped before going into the living room. The couch looked comfortable, too easy to sit on, and it would be so easy fall into his arms again, the way she had a hundred times before.
He stayed a step behind her, giving her room, and when she turned around to face him, he had his hands in his back pockets.
“I just want to say that my being here right now doesn’t mean anything,” Harper said.
“We’re not back together, and I’m still mad at you.” She said that, but she couldn’t look at him when she did.
“I thought you still would be.” He paused. “You should be.”
“I know. And I am.”
“So…” He shifted his weight between his feet. “We are broken up then?”
She chewed her lip, unsure of how to answer that. “I don’t know. Maybe.”
“I don’t want you to have sex with Penn,” she blurted out. “The very thought of it makes me physically ill.” Even saying it made her stomach lurch, and she pressed her hand to it in the hope that would ease the nausea.
“I know. Me, too,” he said, and by the pallor of his skin and the hurt in his eyes, she believed him.
“I know why you’re doing it, and I understand and respect that. And I love it about you that you would be willing to do anything to protect me and my sister.” She stepped closer to him but stopped short before she got too close. “It means a lot to me, honestly.”
“I just don’t want to let anything bad happen to you.” He shrugged helplessly. “I can’t.”
“The fact that you didn’t tell me or even discuss this with me beforehand…” Tears threatened again, and she blinked them back and pressed on. “That is unforgivable, Daniel. You did something to us, and you didn’t consult me.”
He lowered his eyes. “I know. I screwed up, Harper. I really did, and I know it.”
“Are you still planning to sleep with her?” And then, around the thick lump in her throat, she asked, “Have you slept with her?”
“No, I haven’t,” he replied quickly, and shook his head. “Not yet. But the deal’s still in place.”
“If this was like a one-time thing, and then we’d be free of her forever, I would understand.” Harper chose her words carefully. “If you could just pay her off by having sex with her once, it might be worth it. But you know as soon as you do, she’s either going to kill you or me or Gemma or make you have sex with her again, or all of the above.”
He let out a long breath, then lifted his eyes to meet Harper’s. “She’s extended the agreement.”
And she actually felt her heart drop, like it slipped free from her chest and plummeted into some deep, dark cavern below.
“What do you mean?” Harper asked.
Daniel rubbed the back of his neck and took a moment to answer. “After we have sex—if she likes it—she wants to turn me into a siren.”
“But…” She shook her head. “You’re a guy.”
“That’s what I said. But Penn seems to think it’ll be possible.”
“Is she sure?”
“She thinks she is.” He nodded. “I don’t know if she’s delusional or insane or what, but she believes that it’ll work. That I could become a siren and join her for the rest of eternity.”
Harper clasped her hands together, pushing them hard against her stomach, to keep from them trembling. “And you’ve agreed to that?”
“The deal is that she would kill Liv, and I would replace her,” Daniel explained. “We’d leave as soon as I became a siren, and I’d go with Gemma. I’d be able to stay with her and protect her, and we’d be far away from you and everyone in Capri. I would be alive, and everyone I care about would live.”
“But you’d be a weird sex slave to a monster for … forever. You’d give up your entire life, your soul. And that’s if it works. If it doesn’t work, then you’re just dead, which is almost the better option.”
“I know. But it might not be forever.” Daniel stepped toward her like he meant to offer her comfort, but he stopped himself. “We still might be able to break the curse, and this will just give us more time.”
“Just because you’re a siren doesn’t mean that Penn won’t kill you. Or Gemma. She’s killed sirens plenty of times before,” she reminded him.
“But I’ll be stronger. I’ll have the siren power. I can help Gemma, and we could kill Penn together. Even if we can’t break the curse or it takes another thousand years to do it, it’ll be better for everyone on the entire planet if Penn is gone.”
It was all too much for her. She sat back on a kitchen chair out of fear that her legs would give out beneath her. If killing Penn would break the curse, and Daniel would survive becoming a siren, then he was right. He needed to do this, but the thought of it was more than she could bear.
“When is this supposed to take place?” Harper asked finally.