“Yeah, but why couldn’t you hear me?”
“The accident.” He sat up a little bit, since he’d begun to realize that Harper wasn’t going to let this go.
“You mean the boating accident you were in with your brother?”
“Yeah. It messed up my back. I don’t have complete range of motion in this shoulder, and I have all these nifty scars.” He rolled his right shoulder, trying to show it didn’t move so well. “But it hurt my ears, too. It didn’t damage the outer part, but it messed something up so I can’t hear certain octaves. I’m not deaf, but just some stuff I can’t hear.”
“Did it mess up both ears?” Harper asked.
“Yeah, the right is worse than the other.” Daniel motioned to the ear she’d been whispering in. “I almost lost my hearing completely in it, but I had a surgery, and it’s pretty much fine now. The other one was never that bad to begin with. But there’s a nasty scar running across the back of my skull. If I ever go bald, it’ll be gross.”
“Why didn’t you tell me this before?” Harper asked, and she knew her tone was more pointed than she wanted it to be, but she couldn’t help it.
“I showed you the scars before,” he reminded her.
“But you didn’t tell me about your hearing.” She sat up completely now, pulling away from him, and that only made his confusion deepen.
“I don’t know.” He shrugged. “I didn’t think of it. Why does it matter?”
“That’s got to be it. The sirens, Daniel. That’s probably why you’re immune to them.”
She leaned down, kissing him on the lips, and he wrapped his arms around her, pulling her against him. He moved, rolling her over so she was on her back, and he kissed more deeply. Harper felt the scruff of his face on her cheeks, and something about it seemed so perfect. The way Daniel kissed her summed him up perfectly—a little rough on the edges, but so sweet and sexy.
Abruptly, Daniel pulled away from her and sat up straighter, looking around the room. “What was that?”
“What?” Harper smiled, thinking that he was teasing her about when she whispered in his ear.
She had her hand on his chest and slid it up, meaning to pull him back down to her, but then she heard something, too. For a few moments, she’d been lost in his arms. But now she heard it—a wet thwacking sound as something slammed into the front door.
“Stay here.” Daniel got up, managing to move both quickly and calmly while fresh panic spread out over her.
Harper stood up and looked around, hoping to catch a glimpse of something through the windows of the cabin, but she saw nothing. “Did you see anything?”
“I don’t know. Just stay here,” he repeated and walked to the front door.
“Maybe you shouldn’t open the door,” Harper suggested. “At least not if you don’t know what it was.”
“I’m sure it’s nothing,” Daniel said.
Harper lagged behind him and grabbed the poker from next to the fireplace. Daniel may not be cautious, but she wasn’t about to open a door unprepared. Not when she knew what kind of monsters could be out there.
“You’re out alone on an island,” Harper said. “It’s either a wild animal or the sirens, and either way, it’s not safe.”
“I’ll be fine,” Daniel insisted. He smiled reassuringly at her, then turned and opened the front door.
Harper gripped the cold metal tightly in her hands, preparing to strike Penn or Lexi dead if they were on the other side of the door. But when it opened, Harper saw nothing.
“Oh, good,” Daniel said as he stared down at the ground. “It’s only fish.”
“Fish?” Harper moved closer to him so she could peer down and see what he was talking about.
Two huge bluefish lay at Daniel’s doorstep. Or at least they appeared to be bluefish, but it was hard to tell, since they’d been thrown at the door with such force that their guts had splattered out, leaving droplets of blood and viscera all over the side of the cabin.
Harper was about to ask him what that was about, but then she saw it—a gigantic black feather floating through the air. Rather fittingly, it landed right in a small puddle of blood, the black veins of the feather appearing almost iridescent in the moonlight.
“Penn,” Harper said. A chill ran through her. “Do you think she was watching us?”
“It’s hard to say.” Daniel rubbed his hand on his forehead. “Well, I should get you home.”
“A siren throws dead fish at your house and your only reaction is to take me home?” Harper gaped at him.
“It’s getting late.” He turned back toward her, but he wouldn’t meet her eyes.
“Daniel, I’m not just gonna leave you here like this,” Harper insisted.
“Harper, it’s fine,” he said. “Penn’s just messing around.”
“Just messing around?” Harper scoffed. “She’s clearly threatening you. She could still be out here now.”
“No, she’s not.” He shook his head. “If she wanted to hurt me or you, she would’ve. This is just a stupid prank. It’s the siren equivalent of egging my house.”
“Daniel, I think it’s a bit more serious than that.” Harper stared up at him for a while before exhaling deeply and letting her arms fall to her sides. “Fine. You can take me home. But only if you’re sure you’ll be safe out here.”
“I’m sure.” He smiled and kissed her gently on the mouth. “I can take care of myself.”
Daniel took her hand and led her down the trail back to the boathouse. The earlier magic of the night had faded away. The trees around them felt imposing, and the moonlight shining through them made the branches look like arms reaching out for her.
After weeks of it sitting immobile in the driveway of her house, Brian had finally gotten Gemma’s beat-up Chevy running again. He’d refused to work on it until after Gemma was ungrounded so she wouldn’t be tempted to take it.
It was just in time for Gemma’s Saturday visit out to see her mom. With college rapidly approaching, Harper was picking up as many shifts as she could at the library. She usually had Saturdays off, but with Edie back around, Marcy had been more than happy to give up days to her.
Harper had begun talking about not going off to college, saying it was too dangerous to leave Gemma now, but Gemma wouldn’t hear of it. As far back as she could remember, Harper had been talking about going off to school and becoming a doctor.