“I hope you’re right. I don’t know how much longer I can go on like this.”
Once they reached the cabin, Harper gave Alex a glass of water and set him up in front of the TV. Alex seemed to be doing all right, so Daniel suggested that Harper head home for the night.
“Are you sure?” Harper asked. She stood at the doorway, talking quietly with Daniel, and glanced over at where Alex sat on the couch. “I don’t want to make you take care of my friends.”
“Nah, it’s no problem.” Daniel shrugged it off. “Besides, I think he could use some male-bonding time.”
“Okay.” She relented, then smiled over at Alex. “I’ll see you later, Alex. Take care of yourself, okay?”
“I’ll try.” He forced a smile at her. “Thanks, Harper.”
“I’ll be back in a few minutes. Don’t fall asleep while I’m gone,” Daniel told him, then he walked outside with Harper.
“I won’t,” Alex replied.
In the moonlight, they started walking down from the cabin toward the boathouse. Daniel shook his head and let out a long whistle.
“What was that for?” Harper asked.
“Your sister really did a number on him,” Daniel said.
“Yeah, she did,” Harper agreed. “But Gemma had no idea what she was doing. She couldn’t know that it would screw Alex up so badly.”
“You can’t go messing around with people’s hearts,” Daniel said simply. “It never ends well, no matter how good your intentions might be.”
They reached the boathouse, and Daniel stopped. Harper walked a few more steps toward the dock, where Daniel’s boat was tied up, until she realized that he wasn’t with her. She turned around and looked back at him.
“What are you doing?” Harper asked.
“You can drive a little speedboat, can’t you?” Daniel asked.
“Yeah,” Harper said cautiously, walking over to where Daniel stood. “What does that have to do with anything?”
“Well, I was thinking, why don’t you take Bernie’s boat?” Daniel suggested. “It’s technically yours anyway, since Bernie left it to you. And I don’t really need two boats.”
“What would I do with Bernie’s boat?” Harper asked.
“You could come and go as you please.” He shrugged, trying to seem nonchalant. “You could come see me whenever you wanted.”
“So … this is kinda like giving me the key to your place,” she said.
“I think your dad already has a key to my place,” Daniel reminded her. “He is my landlord.”
“You know what I mean,” Harper said. “This is like a step. A bigger commitment.”
“Yeah.” He smiled down at her. “But I’m ready for it.”
Harper glanced back at his house, where Alex was waiting. He’d turned into a total mess after getting involved with the sirens, and it was only a matter of time before something horrible happened to Daniel.
Not to mention the fact that their date had turned out the same way they always seemed to anymore. They’d hardly spent any time together since they’d been dating, and with Harper leaving for school soon, they probably wouldn’t have that much time left.
Those were all the reasons that Harper knew she should say no, that she should turn Daniel down and end things before they got any more complicated.
But somehow she found herself smiling up at him and saying, “Okay. I’m ready, too.”
Right now, standing with him in the moonlight, she just couldn’t give him up. Not yet.
With the stacks of books spread out around her room, Gemma had to fight the urge to scream. Her frustration only seemed to be feeding her hunger. Last night at play rehearsal, she’d hardly been able to contain herself around Aiden, but she’d managed to avoid killing him or making out with him, so she counted that as a win.
It made her feel a little guilty, since it was right in front of Kirby, too, and Gemma had just ended things with him. But that was really the least of her problems.
Lexi had told her that they were about to kill and replace Gemma soon, and the only clue she had to go on was the one that Lexi had let slip: Once you knew who her dad was, it was, like, obvious.
Since she’d heard that, Gemma had spent all her time searching mythology books and the Internet for everything she could find about Penn’s father, Achelous. Over the past couple months, Gemma had thought she’d already learned everything on him she could, and as it turned out, she probably had.
The books described an older man with a hearty gray beard and an occasional horned form. Not much was said about him, other than that he fathered the sirens. Supposedly, Hercules defeated him over the love of a woman, but Gemma wasn’t sure if that led to Achelous’s demise or not.
Still, she hadn’t been able to come up with anything. That was why she’d gone to play rehearsal last night. Her brain had begun turning to mush, a serious migraine gnawed her constantly, and her hunger was getting worse. She needed a break from the search to clear her head.
Of course, as soon as she’d gotten home, she dove right back into it. And yet, here she was—no closer to finding the scroll than she had been the day before.
She paced her room, figuring out what to do. The front door slammed downstairs, and she heard Harper and Marcy talking.
“Crap,” Gemma whispered under her breath.
They’d made plans to brainstorm tonight after Harper and Marcy got done with work, and it had slipped Gemma’s mind until now. It wasn’t like she could blow them off, not without alerting Harper to how grave the situation might be.
She hadn’t told Harper what Lexi had said about the scroll. It was all part of her plan to keep Harper completely out of the loop about everything from here on. There would be no need to worry Harper or freak her out. Not if neither of them could do anything to prevent her death.
If Gemma couldn’t survive this, she didn’t want Harper to lose her and the life she’d worked so hard for. If Gemma couldn’t be with Harper anymore, she at least wanted to know that Harper would have a future without her.
She had to hang out with Harper and Marcy so Harper would feel like she was doing something and wouldn’t realize that Gemma was keeping things from her. Gemma had to pretend everything was okay.
“Gemma?” Harper called from downstairs. “Are you home?”
“Yeah, I’m just up in my room!”