“What did you do to her?” Daniel turned back to face Penn, who’d gotten to her feet. “Undo it.”
Her eyes were no longer glowing and had gone back to their usual black. She crossed her arms over her chest and pursed her lips as she watched Daniel and Harper.
“You’ve never listened to me, have you?” Penn asked. “You’re the guy with the boat that intervened when we were talking to Gemma before, and you ignored us. Nobody ever ignores us.”
“I’m ignoring you right now,” Daniel shot back, and he put his arms around Harper to pick her up.
“Daniel,” Harper complained, pushing wanly against him. “I don’t think I should go.”
“That’s right, Harper,” Penn said, using her singsong voice. “You can’t go!”
“Daniel!” Harper screeched when he tried to carry her away. “Put me down!”
“Dammit.” Daniel sighed and set her down carefully, then he walked over to Penn and got right in her face. “I don’t know what the hell your problem is, but you don’t want Harper. You don’t need her. Let us go.”
“Why can’t I enchant you?” Penn asked, narrowing her eyes at him.
“You’re not that enchanting,” Daniel said. “What do you want? Why are you doing this?”
“I want you,” Penn decided. “I want to experiment on you and find out how you can resist me. Then I want to eat your heart. But first I’m going to kill your girlfriend.”
“That isn’t going to happen,” Daniel assured her. “I’ll kill you first.”
“Hmm.” Penn smiled. “Maybe I won’t kill you. It’s been so long since a man has stood up to me. I’ve forgotten how much fun it can be.”
“Let’s have some fun, then,” Daniel said, and he punched her again.
Or at least he tried to. He swung, but Penn grabbed his fist. She squeezed it hard, beginning to crush it with her hand. He grimaced, and started to crouch down. Then he kicked out with one foot, swiping Penn’s legs out from underneath her. She let go of his hand and fell back.
“Daniel?” Harper said, flinching when one of the fireworks exploded loudly in the sky.
She was watching Daniel and Penn, and she wanted to do something. In her heart, it felt like she should, but it was as if her feet were locked in place, and her mind was still so foggy.
Daniel kicked Penn in the side, but she grabbed his leg and pulled him down. Once he was on the ground, she jumped on top of him, straddling him between her legs. Her eyes had shifted back to bird-yellow, and her teeth were razor-sharp and couldn’t seem to fit inside her mouth anymore.
He punched her again, and she laughed, an odd cackling that sounded as if it belonged more to a raven than to a person. She grabbed his wrist and pinned it to the dirt so he couldn’t hit her again, and with her other hand she gripped his throat, her fingers elongating around his neck.
“You would be a lot of fun,” Penn said, cocking her head at him. “But you’re probably not worth the trouble. I think I’ll just kill you now.”
“Harper!” Daniel managed to yell as Penn tightened her grip around his throat. He was pulling at her arm with his free hand, but she wasn’t moving. “Harper!”
Something about the panic in his voice broke through the fog in her mind, and when she blinked, it was as if she were seeing the scene for the first time. She remembered watching it all, but that had been like a dream. This was real, and Daniel was in trouble.
Acting quickly, Harper grabbed a huge stick from the side of the path. Penn was too focused on Daniel, opening her mouth wider as if she meant to swallow him, so she didn’t notice Harper coming up behind her.
Using all her might, Harper swung, and the stick cracked hard against the back of Penn’s skull. She howled in rage and pain, the monster roar mixing with her voice and sounding totally inhuman.
Daniel arched his back and threw Penn off, and she landed in the brush nearby. Before Harper could ask Daniel if he was all right, he’d sprung back to his feet. Penn was back up, too, seething as she stepped toward Daniel and Harper.
“Penn!” Thea snapped, and Penn jerked her head back to look at her sister. “What are you doing? Why are you messing with those two?”
“I was looking for Gemma, and things got out of hand.” Slowly, Penn’s face shifted back, looking more human again.
“We don’t have time for that. Sawyer’s down at the docks with Gemma, and who knows how long he’ll be able to hold her there,” Thea said. Penn looked reluctantly back at Daniel and Harper, like she still really wanted to kill them both. “Penn! Let’s go!”
“Fine,” Penn relented, and stepped back from them. “I have some business to attend to, but I’ll be back for both of you.”
Penn turned around, hurrying after Thea, and Harper took a second to catch her breath before turning back to Daniel.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” He nodded. “Let’s go get your sister.”
Harper swallowed hard, wishing she had more time to inspect Daniel and make sure he really was okay. But she didn’t have time, so she took Daniel’s hand, and the two of them started running toward the docks. They had to go all the way across the beach to the other side, while everyone stared up at the light show above them.
Lexi pushed Sawyer off her arm, his body, sliding over it, making a sickening slippery sound before he fell face-first on the dock. Almost casually, she kicked his body, and it rolled off the dock and splashed into the water.
Gemma had wanted to scream, to do something, but she merely watched in shock and horror. Some of his blood had splattered on her, and it still felt warm on her skin. She’d been trying to save him, and Lexi had ripped out his heart.
“That bitch means business,” Alex said, sounding almost as dazed and horrified as Gemma felt. “We need to get out of here. Like now.”
“Right,” Gemma agreed.
Lexi was busy licking the blood off her hand, so Gemma thought this would be the perfect time to make her escape. She grabbed Alex’s hand, and they turned to make a run for it.
But Lexi rushed around them, moving at a speed so fast it would’ve been impossible for Gemma to match. She ran so quickly, it was like a blur of color, and then she was standing in front of them.
“I’m really fast,” Lexi told them, smiling brightly. “That’s what happens when you eat a lot, Gemma. You get faster and stronger and just plain better. Too bad you didn’t take my advice when I told you to eat, huh?”