“And why is that?” she asked. She could feel him leaning down to her, his body pressing against her.
“Because I didn’t want it to happen like this. Or at least not here, like this, with people swarming around us, against a tree,” Daniel said. “But you look so, so beautiful, and I just can’t resist.”
“You didn’t want what to happen like this?” Harper asked softly, but she already knew.
His lips were nearly touching hers when he said, “The first time I kissed you.”
Then he was kissing her, and everything else went silent. Harper put her arms around his neck, pulling him to her, and he kissed her deeply, pushing her against the tree behind her. Daniel had a bit of stubble, and it scraped against her skin as he kissed, but she loved the way it felt.
It ended far too quickly, with Daniel pulling away, while Harper leaned against the tree, struggling to catch her breath. It was probably for the best, since there were people everywhere, and she didn’t want to make out in front of everybody.
But she was still sad when it was over. Nobody had ever kissed her like that before, and she actually felt weak in the knees. She’d always just assumed that was a figure of speech, but Daniel made her feel that way.
“Should we head down to the beach?” Daniel asked.
“Uh, yeah.” She smiled and nodded.
He took her hand again. She stayed close to him, but this time it was because she was afraid she might fall. She hung on to his arm, and he made a joke that she couldn’t really hear over the music, but she laughed anyway.
“Is here good?” Daniel asked.
They were at the top of the beach, right where the grass turned into sand. It appeared to be one of the few places where they could sit without being right on top of someone else.
“Yeah.” She smiled. “Here’s great.”
She glanced around, just to make sure they weren’t stealing the spot from anybody else, and that was when Harper saw her.
It was almost as if the crowd had parted around Penn just so Harper could see her. She stood at the edge of the grass, her black eyes blazing, and smiled widely at Harper, revealing her abnormally sharp teeth.
Gemma had thought about hanging downstairs with her dad. She liked Indiana Jones well enough, and she was trying to spend time with Brian while she could. Unlike Harper and Alex, she wasn’t convinced there was a way out for her.
It wasn’t that she wasn’t committed to trying. She just didn’t have high hopes for it.
Just the same, she wanted to spend some time by herself. Between living with the sirens, then being babysat constantly since she got home, Gemma felt like she’d hardly had any time to be alone to collect her thoughts.
Gemma hadn’t been sleeping well, either, and not just because of the nightmares about Jason or the watersong nagging her for being so far away from the other sirens.
Yesterday, Alex had told her that he loved her, and while that thrilled her endlessly, it also raised a new question. How was that possible? The sirens had repeatedly told Gemma that it wasn’t possible, that nobody could ever truly a love a siren, but Alex did love her.
There wasn’t a doubt in her mind that he did. Alex couldn’t lie that convincingly, and when they were together, he acted like a normal person. She’d spent enough time around Sawyer to understand what a guy acted like when he was under the spell of a siren.
Alex wasn’t acting that way at all. He was clearheaded, and when he told Gemma he loved her, he meant it.
She’d actually woken up this morning hoping the curse would be broken. But of course it wasn’t that simple. She was still a siren, no matter how Alex felt about her.
So that meant one of two things: either the sirens had lied to her, or they were wrong about humans being able to love sirens.
They could be lying to her. That sounded like something Penn would do. But Thea had seemed convinced it was impossible for sirens to be truly loved, too, and Gemma had come to trust Thea. She doubted that Thea would lie to her for the hell of it.
So Gemma was inclined to believe that they were wrong. And if they were wrong about this, about something they considered to be a major part of the curse, what else were they wrong about?
Gemma’d wanted to discuss this with Harper, but she hadn’t gotten the time. Once Gemma was back from visiting Nathalie, Brian had spent the rest of the day with her, so she couldn’t talk to Harper about it.
And today Harper had been so busy getting ready for her date that Gemma didn’t want to spoil it. She could talk to her about it tomorrow. And besides, it would probably do Gemma some good to relax and not worry about curses or sirens for a while.
She stole Harper’s e-reader and decided to crash out on her bed. Harper and Gemma’s reading tastes were vastly different, so Gemma spent most of the time just scanning through the reader and rejecting the choices.
Harper did have a subscription to Spin magazine, though, and Gemma read through that. She lay on her back with one leg crossed over her knee, humming to herself and reading about Florence + the Machine.
Then suddenly it hit her. It was like somebody had punched her in the gut and knocked all the air from her lungs.
She sat up in bed, and with absolute certainty she said, “They’re here.”
She jumped off of her bed and her mind raced, trying to figure out what to do. The sirens weren’t here, as in at her house, but she knew they were back in Capri. And it wasn’t because of her connection with the sirens, although that strengthened her conviction and knowledge.
It was because Harper knew. There wasn’t any other way she could explain it. When Harper was in serious trouble, she would just feel it. The same way Harper knew when Gemma was in real trouble. That was probably how Harper had been able to figure out that Gemma had been staying in Sawyer’s beach house.
There was some kind of bond between the two of them, and it had been there as long as Gemma could remember. Whether it was an intense intuition or some kind of psychic link, Gemma didn’t know or care. But she felt it stronger than she ever had before, maybe because she was a siren now and it heightened any supernatural connection she already had. She just knew that she trusted this feeling, and right now it was telling her that Harper had discovered the sirens. If she wasn’t in danger right now, she would be very shortly.
When Gemma ran away from home, she’d left her cell phone here, and Brian had threatened to shut it off when she got back. Fortunately, he hadn’t yet, and Gemma grabbed it. She called Harper, but the phone went straight to voice mail.