“I guess.” She stopped swiveling in her chair to face Marcy. “I had the weirdest conversation with Thea the other day. She basically said she’s looking out for Gemma and wants her to stay a siren.”
“Yeah?” Marcy shrugged. “Didn’t you already know that?”
“Kind of. But she said a few things that made me think.” Harper chewed the inside of her cheek. “Do you think it would be better if Gemma stayed a siren?”
“Better in what way?” Marcy asked.
“If the only two options are death or siren, maybe she should pick siren.” Harper stared up at her. “Right?”
“Right,” Marcy agreed.
“But she hasn’t found the scroll yet.” Harper leaned forward on the desk so her elbows were on it. She rested her head on her hands and peered up at Marcy. “So I shouldn’t go, right?”
“What are you talking about?” Marcy asked.
“With everything going on with Gemma, I should be here supporting her.”
“She’s here now and you still go to work,” Marcy said. “You can’t sit holding her hand every minute. If you go to college, you can still be home every night if you want. It’s not that far away. You’re really making this out to be a bigger deal than it is.”
“I just … I want to make sure I’m doing what’s best for everyone.” Harper scowled. “And I feel like the worst sister ever.”
“Or the most obsessive.”
“Probably both. Obsessive and terrible.”
“You don’t need to be so dreary,” Marcy said. “Me and Daniel and even Thea have Gemma’s back. How many people do you really need babysitting your sister?”
“I know.” Harper sighed. “I just wish we were closer to figuring this all out.”
“Well, I’ve been talking to Lydia.”
Harper dropped her arm and sat up straighter. “Does she know anything more?”
“Not really. I asked if she could keep an eye out for Demeter or Achelous or really any Greek-type figure. She said she would, but she doesn’t know where to find them. Her specialty is shifters, which is why she’s so intrigued by the sirens. She had no idea they could shift.”
“‘Shift’?” Harper repeated.
“Yeah, like shapeshifters.” Marcy wiggled her body, like she was attempting to change form or having a mild seizure, and then she stopped. “Like how a siren transforms from pretty girl to mermaid to bird thing. They’d be called transformers if the robots hadn’t already stolen the title. Stupid Optimus Prime, always ruining everything for everybody.”
“So we’re basically at a dead end now?” Harper asked, slumping forward again.
“Not completely. Lydia said that she heard some things about the muses, but she thinks they’re all dead now.”
“You think the muses literally being dead is not a dead end?” Harper asked, raising a skeptical eyebrow.
“Lydia knows people who knew them. So at least there’s some kind of six-degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon connection,” Marcy insisted.
“That would be more helpful if we were playing a trivia game instead of trying to find a way to break a curse.”
“Okay, we’re like Hansel and Gretel right now.” Marcy turned to face her, getting more excitable as she told her story. “But instead of being abandoned in the woods and getting fat on gingerbread houses, we’re following a trail of fragmented clues. And these clues will lead us to a muse or Demeter or somebody who can actually fix this shit, and that’s way better than going back home with Hansel and Gretel’s lame parents.”
“You really suck at analogies,” Harper said.
“Nah-ah,” Marcy disagreed. “You suck at getting the point I’m trying to make.”
“No, I get it. And you’re right. I know we can do this.” She sighed. “But it feels like we’re running out of time.”
“It’s ’cause summer’s ending and you’re going to school,” Marcy said, trying to cheer Harper up. “But you’ll be home all the time, I’m sure. It’ll be almost like you never left. Except that I’ll have to actually start doing my job. Which is kinda lame.”
“Yeah, it’s gonna be you and Edie all the time until they find a replacement for me. Do you think you can handle it?” Harper smiled up at her.
“Well, it helps that she takes incredibly long lunch breaks now. Do you think she’s having quickies with Gary?”
“Ew.” Harper wrinkled her nose. “And she’s been gone for an hour already. I wouldn’t exactly call that a quickie.”
“Oh, Harper, gross. Way to take it up a notch.”
“Hey, look.” Marcy pointed at the door. “It’s your handsome steed.” Harper lifted her head to see Daniel walking toward the library, an old brown box under one of his arms.
She was a little surprised to see him. Yesterday she’d called him a few times, but hadn’t heard from him, other than a text confirming that he was okay—just busy.
“Steed?” Harper asked, glancing back at Marcy. “You do realize that a ‘steed’ is a horse.”
“Really?” Marcy asked, but she didn’t sound swayed. “I thought it meant, like, knight in shining armor.”
The chime above the door jingled, and Daniel strode over to the front desk.
“No, that’s what knight in shining armor means,” Harper informed Marcy.
“You must be talking about me,” Daniel said. “Continue. Pretend I’m not here.”
“I don’t know if you noticed, but we’re working, Daniel.” Marcy did her best to sound bitchy, which was hard to do when she was so monotone. “This is Harper’s last day, and I need her to focus and finish all the work she’d ordinarily be doing over the next nine months. So we’re pretty swamped.”
“Marcy,” Harper chastised her, but she was laughing.
“Sorry, Marcy,” Daniel said. “I’ll only take a couple minutes. I promise.”
“Fine.” Marcy sighed dramatically and got off the desk. “I’ll just go back in the office and eat Edie’s snacktime yogurt.”
“Why are you doing that?” Harper asked.
“Because when she eats it, she gets really graphic with the spoon, and it’s gross. Do you think I like peach yogurt? No. I don’t.” Marcy shook her head emphatically as she backed toward Edie’s office. “But I eat it for all the patrons of this fair library. They should thank me. I am a hero.”