“It’s not so bad. You could watch the parade,” Harper teased. “Or I think there’s an ice-cream social this afternoon.”
“Gag me with a spoon,” Marcy muttered. “But that’s the kind of stuff you get a kick out of. You should be doing that. You and your sister should be eating ice cream socially.”
“I don’t actually know what an ice-cream social is,” Harper said. “And Gemma is grounded, so that’s a no.”
“You have other friends,” Marcy said. “Ask Alex or that Daniel fella.”
“Are you trying to get rid of me?” Harper asked.
“You are cutting into my nap time, yes,” Marcy said. “But I’m just saying that if you want to go out and have a good time, you should. You’ve been stressing too much lately, and it’d be good for you to have some fun.”
“Maybe.” Harper chewed her lip, debating whether or not to tell Marcy about Daniel, before deciding just to go for it. “Daniel did ask me to go with him to the fireworks tomorrow night.”
“Oooooo,” Marcy said. “Fireworks, eh? That sounds serious.”
“Marcy.” Harper groaned, but she was smiling and blushing.
“Oh, my god, look at you,” Marcy said. “It is serious. Are you and Mr. Tall Dark and Tattooed finally an item? Did you kiss each other with tongue?”
“Marcy!” Harper’s cheeks turned so red, she nearly matched Marcy’s sunburn. “It’s not … We haven’t kissed yet, but … You can’t ask me things like that. It’s weird when you say it.”
“Should I toss my hair and chew bubble gum?” Marcy asked. “Would that make you feel more comfortable?”
“I don’t know.” Harper waved her hands. “Maybe we shouldn’t talk about it at all.”
“Fine.” Marcy leaned back in her chair. “So are you going with him tomorrow?”
“I don’t know.” Harper shook her head. “I don’t think I should. With everything going on with Gemma, I don’t feel like I should leave her alone.”
“Do you want me to go babysit her tomorrow so you can have a night on the town?” Marcy offered.
“No. My dad will be home, and Alex will be next door.”
“So what’s the problem?” Marcy asked. “It sounds like she’s all set for babysitters.”
“She is, but…” Harper trailed off and fiddled with a pencil on the desk. “I just don’t know how to stop the sirens, and they’re coming for her.”
“Stab them through the heart and cut off their heads,” Marcy said. “I don’t know anything that can survive that.”
Harper thought about it for a minute, then shook her head. “They turn into freaky giant bird-monsters. Who the hell knows what they’re capable of?”
“Well, stab them through the heart, and you’ll find out.”
“That’s your advice?” Harper arched her eyebrow. “Stab them through the heart and see if it kills them?”
“No, my actual advice would be, stab them through the heart, run like hell, and hope it kills them,” Marcy corrected her.
“But what if it doesn’t kill them?”
“Then you have one really pissed-off freaky giant bird-monster after you,” Marcy said matter-of-factly.
“That’s not very comforting,” Harper replied.
“It wasn’t supposed to be. You want comforting, talk to your boyfriend or your dad or Gemma. You want the truth, talk to me.”
“What if they’re unstoppable?” Harper asked.
“For thousands of years, the T. rex thought it was unstoppable. Then a giant rock came, and boom!” Marcy snapped her fingers. “He’s not the king of the world anymore.”
“I don’t have a meteor, and if I did, that would kill more than just the sirens,” Harper said.
“My point is that nothing is unstoppable, and the T. rex wasn’t as great as he thought he was. I mean, what were those little arms for?” Marcy pulled her arms back into her sleeves, so her hands made short imitation T. rex arms, and she wiggled them back and forth. “What an idiot.”
“The dinosaurs weren’t as smart as they thought they were.” Harper leaned forward on the desk. “Maybe that’s it.”
“If he fell over, how did he get back up?” Marcy continued to wiggle her hands. “Those little arms weren’t doing anything.”
“Maybe we can’t kill them,” Harper said, ignoring Marcy’s dinosaur impersonation. “But maybe we can outsmart them.”
“How?” Marcy asked, and finally pushed her arms all the way out of her sleeves.
“I don’t know. But they’re still partially human.” She turned to face Marcy. “Maybe we can reason with them and work something out.”
“Hey, anything’s possible.” Marcy shrugged. “Except for a T. rex doing push-ups. That just isn’t happening.”
“Oh, my gosh, Marcy, you have a one-track mind,” Harper said, and got up from the desk to find some actual work to do.
“I have a one-track mind?” Marcy scoffed. “We spend every day talking about sirens, but I want to spend an afternoon talking about the T. rex and his ridiculous appendages, and I have a one-track mind?”
“You’re right.” Harper paused, unable to tell if Marcy was actually annoyed or just pretending. “I’m sorry. We can go back to talking about the T. rex.”
“Good. Because yesterday I read 1001 Exciting Facts About Dinosaurs while you were gone,” Marcy said. “And today I plan on sharing all of them with you.”
It still didn’t feel right. Gemma had reassured Harper a hundred times that she’d be fine, and Harper had talked to Alex, who told her he’d be right next door keeping watch on the house. Plus, Brian was in the living room, watching an Indiana Jones marathon on TV.
So it wasn’t like Harper was leaving Gemma unguarded. Still, when Daniel knocked on the door, Harper almost told him that she couldn’t go. But Gemma all but pushed her out of the house, insisting that Harper have a nice time on her date.
Most of the Fourth of July festivities were being held in the park in the center of town, but the fireworks were shot off over the bay. So as the day drew to a close, most of the activity moved over to the beach. The grassy area that ran along next to it was filled with concession stands that sold alcohol, food, and glow sticks and bracelets.