“Neither should you, but you do it,” Thea reminded her.
“But I get in trouble for it!” Lexi whined.
“I’m sure Gemma will get in trouble,” Thea said. “Just not right now.”
Their afternoon of trying to summon spirits hadn’t led them any closer to finding Gemma, but it had left Marcy with a nasty sunburn that she kept complaining about at work the next day.
“I hope your sister appreciates what I did for her,” Marcy muttered.
She sat at the desk, resting her head against the cool laminate. Her arms were spread out, looking beet-red against the light color of the faux-wood, and she’d hardly moved since she’d come in this morning.
While Marcy was busy doing nothing, Harper went through the books that had been left in the drop box last night, scanning them back into the system.
“I’m sure she does,” Harper said. “As soon as we find her, I’ll tell her of your heroism in battling the sun. Gemma will be thoroughly impressed and eternally grateful.”
“If it didn’t hurt so much for me to lift my arms right now, I would totally be flicking you off,” Marcy told her.
Instead of replying to that, Harper grabbed the stack of books she’d just scanned, and headed back to the shelves to put them away. If there had been a lot, she would’ve used the cart, but there weren’t that many and they were mostly children’s books, so they were lighter anyway.
“Are you and Alex planning on doing anything tonight?” Marcy asked, raising her voice to be heard as Harper walked away.
“Um, I don’t know.”
She crouched down in front of the kids’ shelves. They were lower, so little kids had easier access to them. The books had been left in a bit of a mess, since they’d left quickly last night and neither Marcy nor Harper had straightened them up.
Harper started organizing them, putting them in the right order and uprighting the books that had slumped or were shoved in the wrong way.
“What do you mean, you don’t know?” Marcy called from behind Harper.
“That’s what I mean,” she replied tersely.
Harper’s enthusiasm was waning. Everything they had done, all the phone calls, all the searching, it hadn’t led them any closer to finding Gemma. And not only did they not know where she was, they weren’t even completely certain what she was.
Yes, Alex had a hunch that Gemma was a siren, and Harper was inclined to think there was something to that, but she didn’t even know what that meant. In her spare time, Harper was still looking up everything she could on sirens and mythology in general, but she hadn’t found anything particularly helpful.
In fact, most of the information she’d read would contradict information she’d read earlier. A lot of the texts seemed to assume that the sirens were already dead, having been killed when a ship sailed past without stopping to hear the siren song.
None of it made sense, and none of it brought her any closer to Gemma. In the end, everything she’d done felt like busywork. The hard truth was that she wasn’t helping her sister, and she had no idea how to.
“So, what?” Marcy asked. “Are you just giving up, then?”
“Of course I’m not giving up.” Harper roughly shoved a book onto the shelf. “I’ll never give up.”
“Then what’s the plan?” Marcy asked.
“Why do you even care?” Harper snapped.
Her legs ached from the way she’d been crouching, so she stood and turned back to face the desk. The bookcases in the kids’ section only came up to Harper’s waist, and she stared over them at Marcy, who blinked at Harper from behind thick-rimmed glasses.
“You’re my friend,” Marcy said, sounding surprised by Harper’s tone. “She’s your sister. I want to help.”
“So your plan to help is to bitch about everything we do all the time?” Harper asked. “Because that’s all I ever see you doing.”
“What’s your problem?” Marcy sat up straighter. “I know I’m not the greatest in these situations, but at least I’m trying to help. I’m doing the best I can.”
“So am I, Marcy!” Harper yelled. The few library patrons turned to look at her, but she didn’t care. “I’m trying and I’m trying, and it doesn’t matter! I’m not doing anything to help anybody!”
“I am sorry that you can’t find her,” Marcy said. “I truly am. But it’s not my fault.”
“I know!” Harper started shouting again, then softened. “I’m sick of all this.” She let out a deep breath to fight back a sob. “I just want to know that she’s okay. I want her to come home.”
The fight had gone out of her, and she leaned back against the shelf behind her. She fought back tears, and wiped at the few that managed to fall.
“I feel like this is the time I’m supposed to come over and hug you,” Marcy said from where she sat behind the desk. “But I’m not really the hugging type. Plus, the sunburn.”
“It’s okay.” Harper sniffled and forced a smile at her. “I think I just needed to let off some steam.”
A couple of patrons were still staring suspiciously at her, so Harper offered them an apologetic smile.
“Sorry about my outburst, folks,” she told them, and straightened up. “It won’t happen again. You can go back to your browsing.”
She crouched down to pick up the books she’d left on the floor, the ones she still had left to put away. She’d honestly meant to pick them up and go about her work, but as soon as she was safely hidden behind the shelves, it hit her.
Gemma might never come back, and even if she did, Harper had no idea if Gemma would even still be her sister. No matter what happened from here on out, the little sister Harper had always known and loved was gone. And nothing Harper could do would bring her back.
She put one hand over her mouth to keep quiet as tears spilled down her cheeks, and she put her other hand on the shelf to steady herself. Her whole body shook as she cried, but she managed to stay relatively silent.
“Hello?” a voice said behind her.
She turned her head to the side, hiding her face as best she could from whoever stood behind her.
“Um, Marcy’s at the desk,” Harper said, swallowing back tears. “If you need help finding a book, check with her.”
“Harper, I don’t need help finding a book,” he said. She glanced back over her shoulder to see Daniel.