He looked away from Penn, staring off at the horizon. His jaw tensed as he clenched his teeth.
“You don’t have to do this,” Harper said when she saw how conflicted he appeared. “We can figure something else out.”
“What’s it gonna be? Do you want to end the night with her dead, or alive?” Penn asked, and based on the way her lips were curving up into a wicked smile, she already knew what his answer would be.
“Harper.” He shook his head, then looked down at her. “I’m sorry. I have to go.”
“No, Daniel, you don’t,” she insisted. “You don’t have to do this.”
He put his hands on her cheeks, cradling her face. “We talked about this, okay? I love you.”
“Daniel.” Harper was pleading with him as tears welled in her eyes.
“I have to do this, so just kiss me and let me go,” he said.
She kissed him, and she could taste the salt from her tears on his lips. “I love you. Please come back to me.”
Daniel didn’t say anything to that. He didn’t even look at her again. He just turned and walked away, moving through the crowd and disappearing off the dance floor, but Penn didn’t follow right away.
“Liv, Thea!” Penn shouted, and they turned to look at her. “Make sure nobody follows or interferes. You hear me?” Then she smiled and did a small wave. “Bye-bye, Harper.”
As Penn left, the crowd parted for her like the Red Sea, and she could see Daniel again. Penn’s convertible was at the edge of the park, and he was standing beside it, waiting for Penn to come and take him away, and the only thing Harper could do was watch.
Gemma had been dancing with Alex when she saw Penn talking to Daniel and Harper. Initially, she didn’t want to intervene since Harper had insisted that whatever was going on with them was between her and Daniel.
But when she saw Daniel go, leaving her sister crying in the middle of the dance floor, Gemma ran over to her, with Alex hurrying after her.
“What’s going on? Why did he just leave with Penn?” Gemma asked.
Harper was hugging herself. “He did what he had to do.”
“What the hell is going on?” Gemma asked, just as Thea walked over to her, apparently deciding to follow Penn’s orders to keep an eye on them. “Thea?”
“Ask your sister.” Thea held up her hands. “I’m trying to stay out of this one.”
Gemma glared at her, then turned back to Harper. “Is Daniel going to sleep with Penn?”
“He’s doing what?” Alex asked, sounding appalled.
“Yes.” Harper took a deep breath and stared straight ahead, at the spot where Penn’s car had been parked even though she’d already sped off. “And then she’s gonna turn him into a siren.”
“What?” Now it was Thea’s turn to look appalled, her green eyes widening in surprise. “I knew she was up to something, but that’s her plan?”
“She can’t.” Gemma shook her head, thinking that Harper must’ve misunderstood. “He’s a guy, and there are already four sirens.”
“She says she’s killing Liv to make him, and apparently guys can be sirens,” Harper explained. A tear slid down her cheek, but her voice was flat, like she’d gone numb.
“You are so annoying!” Marcy shouted behind them.
Gemma looked over her shoulder to see her yelling at Liv. She stood between her and Kirby, trying to defend him from Liv’s attempts at seduction. Gemma wanted to help Marcy, but she had much bigger issues to deal with first.
“You can’t let him do that,” Gemma told Harper.
“I don’t want to. But it’s his choice, and I don’t know if it’s the right thing or not.” She pursed her lips. “If he doesn’t do it, she’ll kill you and me and probably Alex and Dad.”
“Not if I kill her first,” Gemma growled.
Her gums began to itch, as her fangs wanted to grow, and she balled up her fists to keep her fingers from extending. There had been so much she’d been willing to tolerate in Penn, but she could never stand for that.
Not only was this hurting her sister, but this would destroy Daniel. He’d been nothing but a good friend to her, and he’d already sacrificed far too much. She couldn’t let him do this even if it meant that she would die stopping him.
Being a siren took away bits of her soul, eating away at it every day. She was clinging to it, fighting for her humanity, but eventually, if she lived long enough, she would lose it all. And that fate sounded worse than anything she could ever imagine, and she wouldn’t let Daniel endure it.
Harper finally turned to look at her. “Gemma, you’re not strong enough.”
“I don’t care,” Gemma said, and she meant it. After her fight with Penn yesterday, she knew she probably couldn’t win, but if she was dead and gone, it didn’t really matter to her just then. It was her fault everyone was in this mess, and she couldn’t let it go on anymore. “I’m not gonna stand by and let this happen. Give me the keys to your car.”
“No.” Her keys were in the small clutch purse around her wrist, and Harper held it to her chest. “I won’t let you go in there alone.”
“He’s my boyfriend. If you go, I go,” she insisted.
Gemma didn’t want Harper getting more involved in this than she already was, but maybe if Harper went with her, she could get Daniel out of there while Gemma distracted Penn. Besides, Harper had driven here, and it would take her far too long to get to the sirens’ house without it.
She didn’t feel comfortable flying. Gemma had been practicing her wings, but she didn’t have quite the same skill at using the siren song. She couldn’t risk taking off in front of a crowd, and she wasn’t about to attempt the siren song to scramble their perception on her own.
“Then let’s go,” Gemma said.
“Gemma.” Alex grabbed her hand. “You can’t go up there to get yourself killed.”
“I have to stop Penn. This can’t go on any longer.” Gemma squeezed his hand and looked him in the eyes, begging him to understand. “I can’t live like this anymore. I can’t let anybody else get hurt. Not when I’m strong enough to do something.”
“I’m supposed to stop you from going up there, but I don’t care. But Liv, she might care.” Thea interrupted the moment to motion to where Liv and Marcy were exchanging obscenities. “Not because she listens to Penn but because she hates you and really likes killing things.”