Fortunately, while Harper and Alex had been relying on technology, Daniel had been looking the good old-fashioned way. He’d been going to Pearl’s every morning and buying a copy of each paper she had. And eventually it had paid off.
Unfortunately, the article hadn’t been very specific. The only real information they’d gotten from it was that a body had been found near a restaurant. Daniel had figured out what town it was, but that was still a fairly large area to search.
Harper didn’t even know where the sirens had been living when they were in Capri. She’d heard something once about them staying in a beach house that used to belong to the mayor, but she wasn’t sure if that was true.
Her worst fear wasn’t that they wouldn’t find Gemma. Or that the sirens would try to stop Harper from taking her. She would figure out how to fight them if she needed to. No, her biggest worry was that they would find Gemma, and she wouldn’t want to come back with them.
What would she do then? Gemma was sixteen and had new mythical powers. It wasn’t exactly like Harper could drag her home and force her to stay in her room. If Gemma wouldn’t come back with them on her own … then she wouldn’t come back.
As they drove on, Harper didn’t voice any of these fears, though. Alex probably shared some of her concerns, but he wasn’t talking about them, so she didn’t think she should, either.
Besides that, she had more important things to focus on—like figuring out exactly where they were going. The drive started out okay, but things quickly went downhill.
Before they’d even made it past the state line, they got stuck in traffic for nearly an hour because of an accident ahead of them on the highway.
Daniel tried to keep things upbeat, but Alex and Harper were too nerved up for it to really work. After several failed attempts at making conversation, he settled for tuning the radio to a classic rock station and air-drumming along to “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin.
Once the car got moving again, things went smoothly for a while, and then they were off course again. Harper’s ’96 Sable lacked any kind of GPS, so they were relying on the maps app on Alex’s phone.
It would’ve been a straight shot down the coast, but after getting stuck in traffic, Alex tried to find an alternate route that would get them there more quickly. Unfortunately, it only succeeded in leading them to a dead end, but not until they’d been driving off course for fifty miles.
That led them to stop at a gas station, where Daniel got an atlas and mapped out the route. Harper fumed quietly about the unnecessary detour for a few hours, while Alex sulked.
According to Daniel’s earlier calculations, they should’ve reached Myrtle Beach around midnight. Thanks to all the stops and starts, it was almost twelve and they were still over two hours away.
That was when the length of the trip started wearing on Harper. She would’ve thought that her excitement and nerves would’ve kept her awake, but she’d slept terribly the night before, and the whole situation simply exhausted her.
In the backseat, Alex snored fitfully. He’d nod off, but almost as soon as he did, he seemed to become aware of it and would wake himself up again.
“He should’ve gotten a Red Bull at the gas station,” Daniel said, referring to their pit stop about an hour before.
“What?” Harper blinked. She’d been spacing out and had barely heard him.
“Alex.” He gestured to the backseat, and Harper glanced behind her.
Alex’s chin had fallen to his chest, and he swayed slightly in motion with the car. He snorted loudly, but didn’t wake up this time.
“Yeah, I guess, he’s really out,” Harper said, stifling a yawn, and turned her attention back to the road.
“How are you holding up?” Daniel asked.
He sat next to her, appearing surprisingly chipper. The map was on his lap, folded in just the right way so their path was sitting faceup, and he had a can of Red Bull in his hand. So far on the trip, he had yet to yawn or sleep or even complain of being tired.
“Great,” Harper said, but that was at least partially a lie. She was fading, and the highway seemed to stretch on in an eternal blackness that made her eyelids heavy.
“You sure?” Daniel asked. “Because I can take the wheel. You’ve been driving this entire time, and it wouldn’t hurt to trade off.”
She shook her head. “I’m fine.”
There was no real reason not to let Daniel drive, except that it made her feel a bit more in control of the situation. She wasn’t, really. Gemma had run off and turned into a monster, and there was nothing Harper could do about it.
But she could drive the car. She could keep them moving in the direction of her sister, and that was the best she could do right now.
“Let me know if you do get too tired,” Daniel said. “I’ll be happy to take over.”
“I’m fine,” Harper repeated.
There were hardly any cars on the road. It was a completely open stretch of highway, devoid of streetlights or houses. The car window was down, and Harper could smell the nearby ocean.
The moonlight shone down on them, and the yellow lines in the middle of the road began to blur.
“Whoa!” Daniel said loudly. The car suddenly jerked to the side, and Harper’s eyes flew open. His hand was on the steering wheel, guiding it so they didn’t drive off the road.
“What’s going on?” Alex asked, sounding panicked in the backseat. “Is everything okay?”
“Yeah, Harper’s just pulling over now,” Daniel said, his hand still on the wheel.
“I’m fine,” Harper repeated, now wide awake after nearly crashing the car.
“Nope, you’re falling asleep at the wheel,” Daniel said. “Pull over.” He wasn’t demanding, exactly, but there was a forcefulness to his tone, and Harper was too tired to argue with him. Besides, he was right.
“Who will check the map?” Harper asked as she parked the car on the side of the road. “I don’t want to get lost again.”
“Alex can handle it,” Daniel said. “He’s had a nap, and I have an extra can of Red Bull he can drink.”
“What’s going on?” Alex asked, still groggy and confused.
Daniel had opened the passenger door to get out, but he turned back to Alex. “Hop out. You’re up. It’s your turn as navigator. Harper’s gonna sleep in the backseat for a while.”
Reluctantly, Harper got out of the driver’s seat, and before she slid in the back, she warned Alex that if he got them lost again, she would literally kill him. She sprawled out in the backseat, expecting sleep to come slowly, but she was out within minutes.