Gemma was standing behind the car as she slipped it over her head, and Harper stood beside her. As soon as she had it on, Harper grabbed Gemma and hugged her.
“I’m so glad you’re safe,” Harper said, hugging her so tightly it actually hurt.
“Thank you,” Gemma said, her voice strained because of the intensity of Harper’s hug.
Then Harper released her, and her eyes were grave as she stared at her. “If you ever run away like that again, you won’t need to worry about the sirens. Because I’ll be the one to kill you. Do you understand?”
“Yes.” Gemma nodded meekly. “But in my defense, I did it to protect you.”
“I don’t care why you did it,” Harper said. “Don’t do it again.”
Harper went around the car and got in the driver’s seat, while Gemma hopped in back with Alex. She sat as close to him as she could, and he put his arm around her. As Harper sped off, Gemma settled back next to him, and she honestly couldn’t tell if she’d made the right decision by leaving with them or not.
“How did you find me?” Gemma asked.
“It was in the paper,” Daniel said.
“The paper?” Gemma arched an eyebrow.
Daniel handed the newspaper back to her and pointed to the article about the murdered boys. Gemma read it quickly, and when she got to the part about Jason Way, her heart pounded so hard she thought she might have a heart attack. She was afraid she might throw up or pass out.
Did they know that she’d done this? She tried to slow her breath and couldn’t even look at them. They couldn’t know. They wouldn’t have rescued her if they realized what a monster she was.
“We knew the way the body was torn open was the sirens’ trademark,” Alex explained when Gemma didn’t say anything. “And we thought if they were here, you were probably close by.”
“That was a good guess,” Gemma said. She forced a smile at him and tried to slow her earlier panic.
The one consolation she did have was that Thea had been right about attracting rapists. According to the paper, Jason Way had been a rapist. Gemma had actually theorized that before. If she hadn’t been able to turn into a man-eating beast, there was a good chance that Jason would’ve actually raped her.
That still didn’t make it okay, though. It wasn’t up to her to exact punishment on people, and killing him had been a bit more than self-defense.
But she didn’t want to think about that right now. She was with Alex and Harper after thinking she’d never be with them again, and she wanted to enjoy it while she had the chance.
“How did you know where I was?” Gemma asked, folding up the newspaper and shoving it aside. “At that exact house on that beach?”
“That was all Harper.” Alex motioned to her.
“How did you know?” Gemma asked her sister.
“I just knew,” Harper said, trying not to elaborate further. “I don’t know how to explain it more than that. I just knew you were there.”
The car ride went smooth and rather fast. Or maybe it just seemed that way to Gemma. Admittedly, she did spend a bit of time making out in the backseat with Alex, until Harper threatened to hose them both off.
Most of Gemma’s attention was focused on Alex, but while she was curled up next to him in the backseat, she watched Harper and Daniel interact. Daniel was trying to get Harper to relax and cheer up, and Harper tried to resist, but she ended up laughing with him more times than she’d have wanted to.
When they got back to Capri in the evening, Harper decided to drop Daniel off at his boat before heading to their house. She pulled up to the docks to let him out.
“Thanks,” Harper said, and she seemed to avoid looking directly at him. “For coming with and helping look for Gemma, and for everything, really.”
“Yeah, it was no problem,” Daniel said. He sat in the car for a moment, then opened the door. “Well. I’ll see you around.”
“Yep,” Harper said.
“’Bye, Daniel,” Alex added, and Daniel waved at him as he got out.
“Wait a sec,” Gemma told Harper, and then she hopped out after him. He was walking away, so she called after him, “Daniel. Hold up.”
“Yeah?” He turned back around to her.
Gemma threw her arms around his waist, hugging him. It took him a second to hug her back. It was short and slightly awkward, but she smiled up at him when she took a step back.
“I just wanted to thank you properly for helping me out and for being concerned and all that,” Gemma said.
“It’s really not a problem,” Daniel said, waving it off.
“And I wanted to thank you for Harper,” Gemma said.
“Yeah,” Gemma said. “She needs you more than she thinks she does, and I’m really glad that you can see that.”
“Uh…” Daniel looked like he didn’t know how to respond to that. “Um, you’re welcome?”
“Yeah, anyway.” Gemma waved at him as she stepped back. “See you later.”
She ran back to the car, and Harper asked her what that was about. Gemma just shrugged, and Harper drove them back home.
Being in her own room again felt so strange. Gemma stood in the doorway for a long time, just staring at the mess of things she’d left behind. It gave her a weird sense of being in a time warp. She hadn’t been gone that long, not really, but with the insanity of the past few weeks, it felt like it had been a lifetime ago that she’d been the girl who lived in this room.
It was also a bit weird to see so much color. The pale blue of her walls, the bright colors of her bedspread, even the Michael Phelps poster on her wall. It all seemed so vivid after the constant whiteness of Sawyer’s house.
She flopped back in her bed, a twin-size that felt so much better than the empty space of the big bed she’d been sleeping in. Everything about here felt so much better, even though the house was small and worn down and completely lacked the grandeur of the beach house.
But that didn’t matter. This was home.
She looked over at her bedside table, expecting to see the picture of herself, her mom, and Harper that had occupied that space for years. When she saw it was gone, she sat up in a panic, but then remembered that she’d taken it with her when she left. She’d left it at the sirens’ house, hidden in the top drawer with her clothes.
Harper knocked gently on Gemma’s open bedroom door, and Gemma turned to look at her. Once they got back, Alex had gone home. Gemma hadn’t really wanted him to leave, but Harper pointed out that they had spent the last eleven hours together, and their father would be home from work soon. He’d picked up overtime to compensate for his time off the previous week, and wouldn’t get done until after seven.