Lullaby / Page 6

Page 6


She stared at the screen and considered whether to answer it. Part of her really wanted to. If she was being honest with herself, it would feel really good to hear his voice, even if she wasn’t in desperate need of a shoulder to cry on.

But the logical part of her won out, and she clicked ignore. He might know something about Gemma, but Harper wouldn’t be able to hold it together in front of her father if Daniel told her something about her sister.

If Daniel had found something, he’d leave a voice mail, and Harper would check it the very second she was out of Brian’s sight. And if Daniel hadn’t found anything, not answering would save Harper from having a conversation with him. She couldn’t have him distracting her right now.

“Who was that?” Brian asked, his voice brightening at the chance that it might be about Gemma.

“It was just, um, Marcy, from work.” Harper stood up abruptly and shoved her phone in her pocket. “Sorry, Dad, I’m not feeling so well. I think I need to go lie down.”

Brian started to say something, but Harper was already leaving, rushing upstairs. She didn’t go to her room, though. She went to the bathroom, making it to the toilet just in time for her to throw up.

When she’d finished, she sat down on the cold tiles and rested her head against the wall. She pulled her phone back out. She clicked on the voice mail, just to be sure Daniel hadn’t left any message, and he hadn’t. Harper quickly scrolled through her contact list for Alex’s number.

“Hello?” Alex answered.

“We need to find Gemma,” Harper said.

“Yeah, I know.”

“No.” Harper shook her head, as if he could see her. “I mean, I don’t give a shit what she is or what the girls are. I’m done researching. We need to find her.”

Alex let out a sigh of relief. “I was thinking the same thing. We need to find her, and bring her back, by any means necessary.”

FOUR

Withdrawals

Gemma woke up in a cold sweat despite the heat. The glass door to the balcony was open, allowing the wind to blow in, billowing out the curtains and filling the room with the sweet scent of the ocean.

The unfamiliarity of the room only added to her panic, and she sat up quickly, her heart racing. She was gasping, breathing in the salty air in heavy gulps, and that helped a bit. Her head still pounded, and the watersong rang in her ears.

That was the worst part. Everything about the last few days was horrible, but the watersong made it impossible to think or rest. It haunted her dreams, keeping her awake in the night, and made it so she couldn’t even feel comfortable in her own skin.

She wanted to crawl right out of her body, but she couldn’t. She was trapped in it, trapped with that incessant music and those awful girls in this colorless house.

That was the best way to describe the beach house—colorless. Penn had picked it out, choosing the most luxurious property she could find on the ocean. Even Gemma had to admit that it was nice, very high-class and expansive, but it had to be the whitest place she’d ever seen.

The room she stayed in—the one that Penn had informed her would be “her” room—was entirely white. Not eggshell or ivory or off-white but pure, startling white. The walls, the curtains, the bedding. Even the artwork on the walls had a white frame, surrounding some kind of abstract painting in swirling shades of white and gray.

And the rest of the house was more of the same. What little color did manage to seep into the house was always pale gray or the occasional muted blue. It was almost unbearably pristine.

Gemma didn’t know how anyone could live like this, but the home owner wasn’t very helpful by way of answers. Not that Gemma had tried talking to him all that much. Penn and the other sirens had cast their spell on him, turning him into a mindless sycophant, and Gemma didn’t really have any urge to interact with that.

Besides, her mind was preoccupied. Not only did she have that awful watersong gnawing at her constantly, she felt like hell. It was like the worst flu she’d ever had. Her entire body ached, from her bones to her skin. Nausea would sweep over her in awful waves, and it was all she could do to keep from throwing up.

“I take it you didn’t sleep well,” Thea said, seeming to magically appear in the doorway to Gemma’s room. Her red hair hung loose around her face, blowing back in the breeze like she was the star of a music video.

“I slept fine,” Gemma lied. She threw off her blankets, which were drenched in sweat, and climbed out of bed.

Thea snorted. “I can tell.”

Gemma went over to her dresser—also white—and rummaged through the drawers for fresh clothes. She’d taken very few outfits with her when she left home, but Lexi had given her plenty of hand-me-downs.

The only thing she’d taken with her that really meant anything was a picture from home. It was of her, Harper, and their mom, taken shortly before the accident, when their mom still lived at home.

That picture—her one true possession—she kept in a drawer, buried beneath her new clothes. She’d left it in the frame, hoping that would protect it when she carried it in her book bag through the ocean, and it had, some, but the picture was all warped and wrinkled.

As she pulled out her clothes, she looked at it for a second, missing a family she knew she’d probably never see again, then hurried to cover it back up with clean panties and slammed the drawer shut.

“Did you want something?” Gemma asked. “Because I need to get changed.”

“So change,” Thea said, and didn’t move from her spot in the doorway.

“Can I get a little privacy?” Gemma asked.

Thea rolled her eyes. “You need to get over it. We’re all girls here.”

“Isn’t Sawyer running around?” Gemma asked.

“He’s somewhere,” Thea admitted, and looked away. She didn’t leave the room, exactly, but turned her back to Gemma. “I think Penn gave him some kind of task before she left.”

Gemma knew this was the best she could hope for, so she hurried to change into a clean dress and underwear.

“Penn left?” Gemma asked, not hiding the surprise in her voice.

“Yeah, Penn and Lexi went shopping,” Thea explained. “New house, new clothes. That’s their motto.”

“Why didn’t you go with them?” Gemma asked.

“I had to stay and babysit you and Sawyer.” Thea glanced over her shoulder, and when she saw that Gemma was dressed, she turned back around.


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