“Alex, I need you to stay here and help Marcy keep Liv from following us,” Gemma said. “You know I’ve been practicing. I can fight Penn, but I don’t think I could handle Liv, too.”
He glanced back at Liv, then turned back to her. “Gemma.”
“I can do this, okay? But you have to help me.”
Reluctantly, he nodded and let go of her hand. “Okay.”
“I love you.” She kissed him, and she’d wanted it to last longer because she knew this might be the last time she ever kissed him, but she didn’t have time to linger. “Be safe.”
“I love you, too,” Alex said. “Now go kill that bitch and come back safe.”
Gemma looked to her sister. Harper looked as pale and nervous as Gemma felt, but her gray eyes had a steely determination.
They turned and pushed their way off the dance floor, nearly running under the twilight sky as they left. Behind them, Gemma heard Liv shouting at them, telling them to stop, and she hoped that Alex would be okay against her.
Alex watched his girlfriend leave, but when he heard Liv swearing at her, he looked back. She’d been standing a few feet away, arguing with Marcy, but her brown eyes shifted into an odd green that reminded him of some kind of bird or maybe a lizard.
Since Gemma hadn’t listened, Liv must’ve decided that she’d better catch her, so she started sprinting ahead, gliding easily on her high heels.
“Where you going, Teenage Mutant Ninja Mermaid?” Marcy shouted, and took a few steps after her. “Too chicken to fight me?”
In the few interactions that Alex had had with Liv, pride had seemed to be a sticky subject for her, so as soon as Marcy had called her out on it, she stopped. She turned around and walked back toward Marcy.
Alex didn’t stop her, but he trailed behind her like a shadow. Liv stopped right in front of Marcy, smiling down at her, and Marcy readjusted her glasses but met her gaze evenly.
“Oh, Marcy,” Liv said with that syrupy voice she used too often.
Since she was a siren, it should’ve been hypnotic to Alex, but it had always rubbed him the wrong way, and it made the hair on the back of his neck stand up.
“If there weren’t a crowd of people around, I already would’ve ripped out your liver and swallowed it whole,” Liv went on cheerily. “But I’ve got better things to deal with.”
She turned around, preparing to stalk away again, but Alex blocked her path, and she almost ran right into him.
“Where are you going?” Alex asked.
“Move,” Liv commanded. Her voice lilted to a singsong, and he felt the fog creeping in around the edge of his thoughts.
But he’d felt that before, and he’d fought against it when Gemma used her song against him. That month when he’d been under her spell had been the hardest of his life, but at least now he knew how to keep it at bay. Not completely, and not if Liv really gave it her all, but he could keep himself together long enough to put up a fight.
He shook his head. “I can’t let you do that.”
“If you don’t get out of my way, I will sing a song that makes you want to kill Gemma, then you can help me finally get rid of her.” She smiled sweetly at him. “How’s that sound?”
“That sounds great. Except for one thing.” He held up a finger with one hand, telling her to wait, and with the other he dug in his pocket. When he retrieved two wax earplugs, he held them out to show her for a second, then popped them in his ears. “I never go anywhere without them.”
Liv rolled her eyes. Then, without warning, she pushed him. But it wasn’t the way a normal person would shove someone. It was a lot more like getting hit by a bus.
He went flying back, and he could feel himself pushing people out of the way, like a wrecking ball. When he crashed into the refreshment table, sending punch flying everywhere, he finally came to a stop.
The spot where she’d pushed him on his chest throbbed, and his back didn’t feel so hot either, but he was mostly fine, and he got up quickly. He was just in time to see Liv, who had apparently decided she didn’t have any more time to waste, run off the dance floor like she was the Flash.
“Are you okay?” Marcy asked as she rushed over to him.
Or at least that’s what he thought she said, since he couldn’t hear her that well. He pulled out his earplugs and shoved them back in his pocket, then he took Marcy’s hand and let her help him to his feet.
“Yeah, I’m fine, but we have to go stop her,” Alex said.
“Did you see how fast she was?” Kirby asked, since he’d followed Marcy over to check on Alex. “She’s probably halfway to Memphis by now.”
“She’s not going to Memphis.” Alex stepped over strewn-about glasses and finger sandwiches as they walked away from the overturned table. “They’re going up to the house on the cliff. Did you have a car?”
“Yeah,” Marcy said. “Lucinda’s parked like two blocks away, though.”
“Lucinda?” Alex asked.
“Yeah. My car.”
“Run and get it. I’m gonna see if we can get backup.”
“Okay.” Marcy nodded, then turned to Kirby. “You can stay here.”
“No.” Kirby shook his head. “You’re my date. I go where you go.”
“But it’s dangerous,” Marcy protested.
He smiled. “Danger is my middle name.”
“God, you’re hot,” Marcy said, then rather abruptly, she kissed Kirby on the mouth.
When she’d finished, she took his hand and ran off in the direction of the street, presumably to retrieve her car.
Alex scanned the crowd for Thea, which was easier since the dance floor had started clearing out. When Liv had pushed him into everyone, it kinda put a damper on things. The music hadn’t stopped, though, and he discovered Thea standing by the DJ.
“Thea,” Alex said. “Aren’t you gonna do anything? I know you hate Liv way more than you hate Gemma.”
Thea hesitated, looking toward the cliff, but then she shook her head, her red hair swaying on her shoulders. “I’m just trying to stay out of these things.”
“Staying out of it still puts you in it,” he insisted. “You know that Gemma can’t fight Penn and Liv, so if you just stay here, you let them win. You’re killing her.”
Thea wouldn’t meet his eyes, and her words sounded weak when she said, “She’s not my problem.”