“No, it’s not about money.”
“Then give me one good reason why you shouldn’t go,” Brian said.
“Gemma.” Harper gave the most honest answer she could. “There’s something going on with her.”
“I’m glad that you love your sister so much, but she is not your child. She’s not your responsibility. She’s mine. I’ll take care of her. The only thing you need to concern yourself with is getting ready to leave for school. The rest of us will be fine.”
She sighed. “There’s stuff that you don’t understand.”
“Understand this—I have not worked forty-plus hours a week for the past nineteen years for you to throw your future away. Everything I have done, I have done so you and Gemma could have a better life than what your mom and I had. This is what we both wanted for you, and it’s what you want for you. I don’t care what the reason is for not going. There isn’t one good enough.”
“But Dad…” she said, but she was already giving up trying to convince him.
“No buts, Harper. You are going to college. And that’s final.”
“If I were a magic papyrus scroll, where would I be?” Gemma asked herself as she stood in the entryway of the sirens’ house.
For once, she’d actually lucked out. Harper had let her borrow her car—something Harper very rarely let her do—and when Gemma’d arrived up at the sirens’ house, Penn, Lexi, and Thea had been gone. Thea was at play rehearsal, but she had no idea where Penn and Lexi were, so she had to get her search under way as quickly as possible.
The house was nice, but it wasn’t really large. That made it easier, because there were fewer places to look.
Gemma did a cursory search of the kitchen, opening cupboards and drawers, but while she inexplicably found a drawer filled with lacy panties next to the fridge, she saw no sign of a scroll or any other important papers. The pantry was stocked with canned goods and a broom, but nothing else exciting.
The rest of the downstairs was about the same. What little storage space they had in the living room was filled with movies and more lingerie. They had to have the most extensive collection of sexy undergarments outside of Victoria’s Secret.
She’d made it two steps up the stairs to the second floor when she heard an odd flapping sound coming from outside. Her heart dropped, and she slowly turned back around. Through the windows she could see Thea just touching down on the driveway—her massive wings beating behind her.
Thea hadn’t shifted fully into her bird form, so she still remained human, aside from the giant wings sprouting from her back. The wings were a gorgeous scarlet, shimmering in the sunlight, and the flapping caused her skirt to flutter up for a moment. The wings folded up behind Thea as she walked toward the house, and by the time she reached the door, they had disappeared into her flesh.
Gemma thought about hiding or trying to sneak out the back door before Thea spotted her, but at the last second decided against it. During her quick search, drawers were left open and lingerie had been tossed about. It wasn’t like she had enough time to cover it up, and Thea would probably guess that she’d been the one ransacking their house anyway.
When Thea opened the door, she didn’t seem that surprised to see Gemma, but then, she’d probably spotted Harper’s car in the driveway.
“Looking for something?” Thea asked, surveying the state of the house.
“What are you doing home?” Gemma countered, trying to hold off answering the question until she figured out what she wanted to say. “Shouldn’t you be at play rehearsal?”
“When I saw you weren’t there, I knew you were up to something.” Thea sat down on a chair in the living room and leaned back, putting her feet up on the coffee table across from her. “So I left early to find out what it was.”
“How did you know I would be here?” Gemma asked.
Thea shrugged. “I didn’t know. I just had a hunch. And with Penn and Lexi out of town for the evening, I thought I’d better follow up on it.”
“Where are Penn and Lexi?” Gemma asked.
“Gone.” Thea rested her green eyes squarely on Gemma. “So, are you going to tell me what exactly you’re looking for?”
Gemma debated on how to answer before finally deciding to go with the truth. “The scroll,” she said as she descended the steps.
“The scroll?” Thea arched an eyebrow but appeared otherwise unfazed. “You say that as if I should know which one you’re referring to.”
“The one with the curse written on it.” Gemma sat down across from Thea and tried to play it as cool as Thea was. “It has everything the curse entails, what the rules are, maybe even how to break it.”
The side of Thea’s mouth curled up in an amused smirk. “I can assure you that it has no way to break the curse on it. Although I can see why you’d find some of the other information interesting, particularly how to kill a siren.”
“So…” Gemma licked her lips. “You do know what I’m talking about.”
“Of course I do.” Thea laughed. “Did you really expect I wouldn’t?”
“No, I guess not,” Gemma admitted. “But I thought you might lie about it.”
“I have no reason to lie. If you already know, what’s the point?” Thea tilted her head. “Though I am curious. How did you find out about it?”
“I have my sources,” Gemma replied quickly.
Thea may have been Gemma’s closest friend at this point, but that didn’t change the fact that she was still a siren. She wasn’t about to give up Lydia or Marcy’s name, in case Penn or even Thea decided to retaliate later on.
“Well, whoever your sources may be, if they told you the scroll is the key to breaking the curse, they’ve misled you,” Thea said.
“Maybe,” Gemma said. “But why don’t you let me see for myself?”
Thea laughed, throwing her head back as she did. “Oh, Gemma, please.”
“What?” Gemma asked. “Why is that so funny?”
“Your arrogance.” Thea subdued her laughter but smiled broadly. “You presume that you can solve a puzzle that we’ve spent hundreds of years analyzing. Do you really think me and my sisters are that stupid?”
“No, of course not,” Gemma said in a hurried apology. “Penn may be many things, but stupid isn’t one of them.”