That didn’t necessarily mean anything. It was getting dark, and the fireworks were about to start. It was probably so loud down at the beach that Harper wouldn’t be able to hear her phone.
But Gemma had to do something. She had to sneak out of the house without Brian stopping her.
That ended up being easier than she thought. He’d had a couple of beers today, and he was nodding off in his chair in the living room in front of the TV. He’d probably wake up once the fireworks started going off, and then he’d notice that Gemma wasn’t there.
But really, that wasn’t her concern right now. She just had to get out of here.
She walked quietly down the stairs, then hurried through the kitchen and out the back door. She’d barely made it outside when Alex came rushing out the back door of his house, and Gemma swore under her breath.
“What are you doing?” Alex asked. “Where are you going?”
“The sirens are here,” Gemma told him.
“Where?” He turned around in a circle, as if he expected them to be lurking behind him.
“I don’t know. I think maybe down at the bay,” Gemma said. “Harper’s there with Daniel watching the fireworks, and I have to go get her.”
“Wait. What?” Alex asked. “Shouldn’t we be running away from the sirens, not getting closer to them? It’s dangerous for you to be around them.”
“No, I need to face them,” Gemma said. “But first I have to find Harper.”
“So what’s going to happen when you do run into the sirens?” Alex asked.
“I have to stop them,” Gemma said. “I can’t let them hurt anyone anymore. I’ll find Harper, then I’ll find a way to chase them off.”
Gemma wasn’t completely certain that she could pull that off, but she’d do everything she could. She was going to fight the sirens and get them to leave her and her family alone, or she would die trying.
“Okay,” Alex said. “But I’m going with you.”
“Alex.” Gemma groaned. “You can’t—”
“Look, I’m not letting you go off and get hurt,” Alex insisted. “I have my earplugs, and I’m going with you. Now, do you want to stand around and argue with me about it, or do you want to go find your sister?”
Gemma didn’t want to waste any more time discussing it, so she started jogging down toward the bay. She was much faster than Alex, and he worked hard to keep up with her. She slowed down a bit because she didn’t want to lose sight of him, but she also wanted to get to the beach as quickly as she could.
Unfortunately, she’d grossly underestimated how crowded it would be at the bay.
Gemma figured that the sirens would be closer to the water, or at least in a more secluded area. She doubted they would do anything in public, not when there were so many witnesses, so they’d be drawn to places where there were fewer people.
She ran to the edge of the beach, the closest to the docks, where the crowd was the thinnest. She looked around, but she didn’t see Harper, Daniel, or any of the sirens.
Then Gemma realized she didn’t see Alex, either. He’d been right behind her a few seconds ago, but when she darted through the crowd, she must’ve lost him.
“Dammit.” Gemma rubbed her forehead and regretted bringing him. Getting Alex killed in an attempt to protect her sister wasn’t exactly a winning situation.
She turned back around toward the docks, trying to figure out where to look, and Sawyer was standing right behind her. So close, she nearly bumped into him when she turned around.
“Sawyer!” Gemma gasped. “You scared me.”
“Good.” He smiled, and before she could react, he grabbed her, clamping one hand over her mouth to keep her from calling out for help or singing.
“They’re here,” Harper said, doing her best to keep the panic from her voice, as she locked eyes with Penn.
“What?” Daniel leaned down to hear her better.
“They’re here!” Harper repeated, shouting this time.
Daniel looked up, and then he saw Penn, too. “Oh, shit.”
A person walked in front of Penn, and then she was gone, disappearing into the crowd.
“What do you wanna do?” Daniel asked. “We can try to follow Penn, maybe stop her before she finds Gemma, or we go try to protect Gemma.”
“We go get Gemma,” Harper said. “Penn knows where we live, so she’ll go there eventually. If she isn’t already on her way, or the other sirens aren’t already there.”
“All right. Let’s go.”
Daniel took her hand, but all the earlier flutterings had dissolved. The only thing Harper felt was panic.
And all the people didn’t make it easier. They were all going toward the beach, since the fireworks were about to start, and Harper and Daniel were pushing against them. It felt a bit like they were salmon swimming upstream, and it made it hard for them to hurry.
“Go towards the trees!” Harper advised.
“What? Why?” Daniel asked, pushing past a guy who wouldn’t get out of his way.
“Nobody’s going to be there because they block the view of the fireworks,” Harper said. “We’ll be able to get to my house quicker!”
Daniel did as he was told, leading the way and pushing through the crowd. Harper was dimly aware that she’d just told Daniel to go to the forest where she’d found Luke’s body. That was where the sirens disposed of their kills, so they were familiar with it.
But it was the quickest way home. And that was all that mattered to Harper. Getting home and making sure that Gemma was safe.
They’d just started on the path through the trees when Penn appeared in front of them. She hadn’t materialized, exactly, but she stepped out from behind a tree and blocked their path. Her eyes glowed yellow in the dim light.
“Where are you off to in such a hurry?” Penn asked, her voice a soft purr that nearly made Harper forget how much she hated and feared her. “The fireworks are the other direction. And you don’t want to miss the show, do you?”
“No, I don’t want to…” Harper’s brow furrowed, because for a second she couldn’t remember exactly what she wanted to do. “I’m leaving, and you can’t stop me.”
Still hanging on to Daniel’s hand, Harper walked forward, but Penn moved to block her path.
“Let me get by,” Harper said as firmly as she could.