“Well, if she’s grounded, why didn’t you just tell your dad about it?” Marcy asked. “He’d ground her again and make her quit play rehearsal.”
“I don’t want her to quit the play. She needs to be doing something.” She rubbed her temple.
In fact, Harper preferred that Gemma stay in the play. Daniel had taken the job at the play partially because he needed the work, but it also meant that he could keep an eye on her. So every night, for a few hours, Harper knew that Gemma was safe. She just wished that Gemma would start making better choices where boys were concerned.
“I get that she’s going through this totally insane thing, but I don’t know how bringing another person into the mix will make it any better,” Harper said. “She broke up with Alex because she knows how dangerous it is for sirens to be around boys, and now she’s dragging in another boy.”
“I thought the only reason the sirens cared about Alex was because he was in love with her,” Marcy said. “They probably won’t give a crap about some random boy, unless he falls in love with Gemma, too.”
“I don’t know.” Harper’s shoulders slumped. “I don’t even know what the sirens want anymore. They’ve been here for weeks, and nobody’s figured out anything. We still have no clue how to break the curse. They don’t know how Alex is able to love Gemma, or why Daniel is immune.
“I’m supposed to be leaving for college in two weeks, and I have no idea what the hell is happening or how to help Gemma, and I just want to scream or rip my hair out.” Harper groaned in frustration.
With working full-time, getting ready for a college she wasn’t even sure she was going to anymore, worrying about her sister, trying to find a way to battle evil mermaids, all while making time for a new relationship, Harper was nearing her breaking point.
Marcy snapped her fingers suddenly, causing Harper to jump in surprise.
“Duh!” Marcy announced. “You should talk to Lydia.”
“What?” Harper asked.
“I’ve been meaning to tell you,” Marcy said. “But I keep forgetting. This whole Edie thing has my mind all messed up.”
“You really need to get over the Edie thing, Marce,” Harper said. “She’s your boss, and she’s going to be around for a long time.”
Marcy sneered at the thought of dealing with a supervisor again, and then she continued on with her story. “So I was on Facebook the other night—”
“Wait. You’re on Facebook?” Harper interrupted. “Since when? I thought Facebook was the antithesis of everything you stood for.”
“No, I said getting on Facebook and posting pictures of my cat with hilariously misspelled phrases in all caps was the antithesis of everything I stood for,” Marcy corrected her. “And sometimes I use Facebook. I like playing the games where I water plants all the time, and I talk to old friends.”
“There really is just so much I don’t know about you,” Harper said.
“Yeah, there is,” Marcy agreed. “But the point is, I was talking to this old friend of mine. I’d completely lost touch with her, but it turns out she owns a bookstore up in Sundham. She’d definitely have some books that might help you out with the sirens. Plus, she’s pretty knowledgeable on all that kind of stuff.”
“Like what kind of stuff?” Harper asked tentatively.
Marcy shrugged. “Hunting vampires, slaying demons, raising the dead. That kind of thing.”
“She can raise the dead?” Harper was too weary to hide her skepticism.
“No, she can’t,” Marcy said defensively and swiveled in the chair a bit. “But she knows a lot about it, if that was something you were into.”
Harper went back to scanning the books and tried to think of a tactful way to let Marcy down. Whenever Marcy did even the slightest thing for somebody other than herself, Harper tried to reward it.
“Look, Marcy, I appreciate what you’re trying to do. It’s really very considerate. But—”
“But what? You have a better lead to follow?” Marcy asked pointedly. “Or any other leads or ideas? Any clues at all?” Harper pursed her lips but didn’t say anything. “Exactly. My idea may be a little out there, but it’s better than no idea.”
“You’re right,” Harper relented and offered Marcy a grateful smile. “Are you busy this weekend? If the bookstore’s open, maybe we could go then.”
“Yeah.” Marcy nodded. “You should get used to making the trek up to Sundham anyway, since you’re going to college there pretty soon.”
“If I go to college,” Harper reminded her.
“Oh, crap, here she comes,” Marcy said.
She jumped off the chair, grabbed the stack of books that Harper had checked in, then dashed from the desk to put them away. All this happened within the few seconds it took for Edie to open the front door and come inside.
“Hello, girls,” Edie said brightly as she strode inside.
Edie was the kind of woman who somehow managed to be beautiful and dowdy at the same time. She was tall and thin, with blond hair, high cheekbones, and full lips, and considering she was over forty, she’d aged astonishingly well.
But she hid under long flowing skirts, overly drapey tops, and layers of beaded jewelry. Her eyes were a lovely blue, but they were barely visible behind her thick calico glasses.
“Hey, Edie,” Marcy said. Since Marcy was so short, the stack of Harry Potter books went up to her chin, and she was nearly tipping over as she turned back to continue speaking to Edie. “Love to chat. Gotta run. Books to put away and all that.”
“And how are you doing this lovely morning?” Edie asked Harper as she walked behind the desk. She dropped her oversized purse on the desk, and it jingled loudly.
“Fine,” Harper lied and wouldn’t meet her eyes.
“Are you feeling okay?” Edie asked, concern filling her voice, and almost absently she touched Harper’s face. “Your skin is cool, so at least you don’t have a fever.”
“I just haven’t been sleeping that well,” Harper said and stepped away from Edie.
She didn’t have a reason to move, except that she didn’t want to be that near Edie’s scrutinizing gaze, so Harper turned away to straighten some forms sitting on the desk.
“Troubles at home?” Edie asked.
“Nope, just good old-fashioned insomnia.”