She’d been trying so hard to pretend that everything was fine, to forget the horrible things she’d done, the creature she’d become, and just enjoy the moment she was in. With the full moon approaching in a matter of weeks, there was a very real chance that Gemma might not live to see it.
Sitting here with Alex, Gemma found it hard to swallow back her current thoughts. They needed to find a way to kill the sirens, definitely, but only if the sirens came for her. And maybe they never would. Maybe they would just replace her instead, letting her die alone and away from them.
Either the sirens would come for her and they would probably all die in the fight, or she would die before they did. With options like that, Gemma had begun to accept her own death, which was feeling more and more inevitable. She was attempting to make peace with it, and wanted to relish what time she had left with the people she loved.
“Gemma?” Alex put his hand on her knee and leaned toward her. “What’s wrong? What are you thinking?”
There was no way she could look into his eyes. She couldn’t tell him what was really bothering her—that she was a murderer, and the best-case scenario was that she would be dead soon.
Gemma lowered her eyes. “There’s something I should tell you.”
“You can tell me anything,” Alex said.
“I know, and I…” She swallowed hard, and she accidentally looked up at him. That’s what did it. As soon as she looked in his eyes, she lost all her nerve, and she blurted out, “I kissed someone else.”
“What?” Alex’s face twisted in confusion, and his eyes flashed darkly, so Gemma hurried to explain. She didn’t know why she thought confessing that she’d kissed Sawyer would be the way to go. Clearly she’d panicked.
“It was an accident. No, I mean…” She closed her eyes and shook her head. “It wasn’t an accident. I didn’t like him, though. I didn’t want to kiss him. It was … a siren compulsion thing. But almost as soon as I kissed him, I stopped. I didn’t want to hurt you. And I’ll never do it again.”
“It was a siren thing?” Alex asked.
“Yeah,” Gemma said sheepishly. “That sounds like a cop-out. But for, like, five seconds, I wasn’t in control of my body. This weird … urge took over me, and I kissed this guy. But then I took back control of myself, and that was it. It meant nothing. I never would’ve done it if I wasn’t a siren. But I thought I should tell you. And I’ll understand if you hate me.”
“Hate you?” Alex actually laughed at that. “Gemma, I could never hate you.”
“Oh, I’m sure you could.” She forced a smile at him and was surprised to find tears brimming in her eyes. “There are things I could do that would make anyone hate me.”
“No, Gemma, listen to me.” He moved to face her completely, so he had to kneel in front of her, and he took both her hands in his. “There’s nothing you can ever do that would make me stop caring about you.”
“Alex, you don’t know…” She trailed off, because if she kept talking, she would cry, and she didn’t want to cry.
“I have known you for years,” Alex said. “You’ve always been kind, considerate, smart, determined, and stubborn. You have a good heart, and you’d never let anybody change you. That’s part of why I fell in love with you.”
“What if I can’t stop it, though?” Gemma asked, wiping at her eyes. “What if the sirens are making me evil, and I can’t control it?”
“You can,” Alex insisted. “You’re too strong and too stubborn. You can fight this. We will beat them. Together. I promise you that, Gemma.”
“You really think so?”
He nodded. “Yes, of course I do.”
“And you’ve really fallen in love with me?” Gemma asked, and Alex smiled at that.
“You think I would’ve spent a week searching for you if I didn’t?” he asked.
She laughed a little. “No, I don’t suppose you would.”
“I love you, Gemma,” he said softly.
“I love you, too.”
She leaned forward, kissing him fully on the mouth, and wondered how much longer she’d be able to do that.
Harper hadn’t wanted to go to work, but as Gemma pointed out, it would probably be good if she still had a job when this was all over. Just because her sister was a siren didn’t mean that Harper’s car insurance payment wasn’t due or that she didn’t need to save up money for college.
She’d gotten scholarships for school, but it didn’t cover everything. Besides that, she didn’t have a job lined up yet for when she left. Not that she was even sure she was still leaving. If she didn’t go, she’d lose her scholarship, but it wasn’t like she could just abandon Gemma with all this supernatural danger going on.
Harper winced when she thought about leaving for school. She hoped everything with Gemma would be solved by then. But now Harper would have to leave behind Daniel, who was apparently her boyfriend now.
Even if the new title made her smile, it would only make it harder to leave him behind. Maybe she should’ve corrected him before he left after supper last night. They were obviously dating, but the “boyfriend” label might be too heavy of a commitment.
“Okay, what the hell is going on with you?” Marcy asked, snapping Harper out of her thoughts. “You look like you’re having a stroke over there. You wince, and then smile, then scowl. Are you schizophrenic?”
“No.” Harper shot her a look. “I just have a lot on my mind.”
“You didn’t need to come in today,” Marcy said. “I usually handle Saturdays by myself, and thanks to it being the Fourth of July tomorrow, the library isn’t its usual happening self.”
Marcy gestured to the empty expanse of the library. Harper had been there for nearly two hours and had yet to see a single patron.
“Thanks, but I need the hours,” Harper said. “You can go if you want, though.”
“I know. But then I’d have to be out there.” Marcy shuddered as she pointed to the front window of the library.
The big glass pane that served as the storefront was partially blocked thanks to a massive poster explaining all the festivities going on over the weekend. But around that, Harper could see all the people walking by. Even Pearl’s across the street looked packed.