Alex averted his eyes, staring off at a barge behind them. His brown hair was longer, almost shaggy, and his mahogany eyes were stormy. Harper wasn’t sure if it was from working out in the sun all day, but his face appeared harder. Something had changed in him.
“So how is … um, how are things?” Harper fumbled. “Do you like working here? My dad says that you’re doing good.”
“It’s fine.” He stared down at his steel-toe boots and didn’t elaborate.
“Good, good.” Harper held up Brian’s lunch. “I was bringing my dad his lunch.”
“I ate lunch already.”
“Yeah?” Harper asked. “Cool. Cool.” She glanced around, hoping to see her dad or anyone who could breathe life into this conversation. “How long have you been working here?”
“Yeah? Good. Yeah. It’s a good way to save money for college.”
“I’m not going to college,” Alex replied matter-of-factly.
“What?” Harper leaned in, hoping she’d heard him wrong over the noises of the dock. “You’re going to Sundham University. Aren’t you?”
Harper was confused by his sudden change of heart. For years now, Alex and Harper had been planning to go to the same college. They were going into different fields, but if they were moving to a new town, they thought it’d be nice if they knew someone. Plus, Sundham was close to home for both of them.
“What about all your plans?” Harper asked. “What about the meteorology and astronomy stuff?”
“I’m just not that into it anymore.” His mouth twitched as he watched the barge slowly pulling into the bay. “I’m working here now.”
“Yeah.” She smiled, trying to appear accepting, but really she was worried about him. “So, did Dad tell you that Gemma’s in a play now?”
“I don’t care about Gemma or what’s she doing,” Alex snapped, with an undercurrent of hatred so raw that Harper flinched.
“Look, I should really get back to work.” He glanced over at her, looking at her for the first time, and then instantly looked away. “It was nice seeing you.”
“Yeah, you, too. And if you ever wanna hang out…” Harper said, but he was already walking away. “I’m right next door. You can call me anytime!” He never even looked back at her.
After their conversation on Tuesday night, Gemma had been avoiding Harper. It had been a day and a half, so Gemma knew she’d have to start speaking to Harper again soon, but she wanted just one more lecture-free morning.
Gemma purposely slept in late, waiting to venture out of her room until after Harper had left for work. Then she got up, did a few chores around the house, and planned to get ready so she could leave for play rehearsal before Harper got home from work.
Of course, she did manage to squeeze in a half hour of Judge Judy, which was her latest vice. While spending the past month moping around the house, Gemma had gotten addicted to daytime television. While she’d mostly kicked her habit, Judge Judy was the one show that remained.
After it ended, she took a shower and got dressed for the day, but she’d left the TV on. When she came downstairs, pulling her hair up in a loose ponytail, she saw that the regularly scheduled programming had been interrupted by a news bulletin, and her heart dropped.
She’d been coming down the stairs, taking them two at a time, but she slowed as she walked into the living room.
The handsome young heir to a multimillion-dollar fortune had gone missing without a trace, and every media outlet seemed to be covering it incessantly.
“Here’s the top story of today, Thursday, August fifth. Authorities have found what they believe may be Sawyer Thomas’s yacht off the coast of one of the Bahama Islands,” the news reporter was saying. “Again, this hasn’t been confirmed yet, but the footage you are seeing is live. The diving team is searching the yacht, but so far there is no word as to whether there are any bodies on board, but there doesn’t appear to be anyone alive.”
The screen showed a beautiful beach, white sand with clear blue water. A large boat had capsized just offshore. Helicopters were swarming overhead and several smaller boats were surrounding it as divers in black suits descended.
The crawl along the bottom was rehashing all the information about the case. Sawyer Thomas, 25, has been missing since the 4th of July. The Thomas family is offering a $2 million reward for any information leading to his whereabouts.
As the divers continued searching the wreckage, a picture of Sawyer popped up in a box in the corner. It appeared to be fairly recent. He was smiling widely, the top few buttons of his white shirt were undone, and his blue eyes were dazzling, even in a picture.
That was when Gemma turned off the television. His face haunted her nightmares enough that she didn’t need to be reminded of it while she was awake.
Gemma hadn’t killed Sawyer—not with her own hands—but she felt responsible for his death just the same. He’d been kind to her, so she’d been trying to help him escape the sirens. But she shouldn’t have intervened. If she’d just left him alone, maybe he would still be alive.
Of course, Lexi was completely psychotic and had ripped out Sawyer’s heart without any real provocation, so there was a good chance that she would’ve killed him eventually. That didn’t change the fact that Gemma hadn’t saved him or taken him with her when she ran away. She knew he was in danger, and she didn’t do enough to help him.
Gemma wished the manhunt for Sawyer would hurry and turn up something, not only so she wouldn’t have to keep seeing his face everywhere, but so his family would have some closure.
She’d considered calling the tip line, but what could she tell them? That she’d seen a monster rip out his heart underneath the fireworks? She didn’t even know what had become of his body.
After Lexi had killed him, she’d kicked him into the bay. But since he hadn’t turned up on the beach or in a fisherman’s net, Gemma assumed they’d done something with him. Maybe they’d dragged him farther out to sea, maybe they fed him to sharks, maybe Lexi ate him. Gemma didn’t know, and honestly, she didn’t want to know.
The capsized yacht had probably been the work of the sirens, maybe to cover up the murder, or maybe it had just been an accident when they took the boat on a joyride. Lexi had been gone for a few days last week.