“Sorry.” She grimaced as she pressed her weight against the door. “I thought I could handle it.”
“Why don’t you turn into the monster?” Daniel asked, keeping his voice low in case Lexi was listening.
Gemma shook her head, even though he couldn’t see her in the darkness. “I can’t.”
“Sure you can.”
“No, maybe I can, but I can’t control it once I do. I might hurt somebody,” she insisted.
“That’s kinda the point, though, isn’t it?” Daniel asked.
Ever since Lexi had started attacking her, Gemma had actually been fighting to keep the monster down. It was her body’s natural instinct to transform into it, to try to defend herself, but she was afraid that if she let it out, it would completely take over again.
Lydia had even given her the instructions on how to kill the sirens, but Gemma wasn’t sure she could do it. Well, she knew for certain she wouldn’t be strong enough to do it in her human form, and as a monster, she wasn’t convinced she’d be able to control herself enough to do it.
“I did it once before and I don’t even remember it,” Gemma told him. “I wasn’t in my mind at all. I was a complete monster, and I killed someone.”
Suddenly Lexi slammed into the door. Gemma and Daniel had simply been leaning against it, but now they pushed back on it with all their might, trying to hold it shut.
“Again, that doesn’t sound so bad, given the situation,” Daniel said through gritted teeth as Lexi ran into it again.
“Yeah, if I hurt Lexi, but what if I hurt you or Marcy?” Gemma countered. “No. I can’t risk it.”
“Well, we’ve got to do something or Lexi is going to kill us pretty quickly,” Daniel said as the door began to crack. “Can you at least do a partial change? I’ve seen the other sirens do that.”
“I don’t know how.” Gemma pushed against the door, but she knew it was going to give soon. “I’ve tried, but so far it’s been all or nothing.”
Lexi’s hand smashed through the door. It was a small hole, just enough room to fit her slender wrist, and wood poked up at Gemma with jagged edges and splinters. Lexi’s long taloned fingers reached out, feeling around for either Gemma or Daniel.
“Open the door!” Daniel commanded, and when Gemma didn’t do it immediately, he shouted again, “Open the door, Gemma!”
She was on the side by the door handle, while he’d been holding the side with the hinges, and Lexi’s hand was right in the middle, grasping for them.
While Gemma didn’t understand what Daniel’s plan was, she pulled open the door. Lexi’s wrist was caught in the wood, so when Gemma pulled it, she took Lexi with her.
Lexi stumbled into the pantry, knocking canned foods and spices off the shelves as she did. There was hardly enough room for her, and one of her wings was actually stuck outside. As Lexi screeched and struggled to pull free from the door, Gemma dropped to the floor and crawled between Lexi’s legs, barely avoiding getting stepped on.
Daniel followed Gemma, but he was less lucky. Lexi’s legs lashed out, and she kicked him in the ribs. He cried out, but he kept moving.
Gemma was running toward Marcy, hoping to reach her before Lexi freed herself, but Daniel was moving slower, thanks to Lexi’s kick. Gemma didn’t see him, but she heard him yell, followed by the sound of shattering glass.
When she turned back around, she saw one of the large back windows had been broken out, and Daniel was gone. Lexi stood in the center of the room, smiling pleasantly at Gemma. She’d grabbed Daniel and thrown him through a window toward the edge of the cliff.
“Lexi, you bitch!” Gemma growled and charged at her.
But Lexi was lightning-quick. She swung her arm out, hitting Gemma painfully in the chest. She fell back to the floor, and while Lexi towered over her, cackling like a bird, Gemma reached out and grabbed one of her legs.
Pulling as hard as she could, Gemma managed to throw Lexi off balance. She stumbled backward, flapping her arms and wings like mad and sending papers billowing around the room, until she finally fell backward.
Gemma scrambled to her knees and crawled over to her. Remembering the picture that Lydia had given her, Gemma climbed onto Lexi. She sat on her bare stomach, straddling Lexi.
As soon as she did, Lexi reached out and grabbed Gemma. Her long fingers wrapped tightly around Gemma’s throat, cutting off her air supply. Gemma balled up her hand and punched Lexi as hard as she could in the stomach, hoping her fist could break through Lexi’s soft flesh.
Lexi squawked and threw Gemma off her, causing Gemma to crash painfully against the fireplace.
Gemma coughed and gasped for breath, and she knew she had to come up with a better plan. There was no way she could stop Lexi with her bare hands. She needed to find a weapon, unless she turned into the monster.
Unfortunately, Gemma didn’t have time to do either before Lexi was on her. Lexi reached out for her, and Gemma narrowly slid underneath her grasp. The golden wings were outstretched behind her, and Gemma grabbed one, yanking on it as hard as she could.
But Lexi was stronger. She flapped her wings and sent Gemma flying back on the floor. Lexi ran back over to her, running as quickly as her long bird legs could carry her, and when she reached Gemma, she kicked out at her.
Her clawed foot connected with Gemma’s stomach, tearing into the tender flesh, but that wasn’t the worst part. Lexi kicked her so hard that when Gemma flew backward and collided with the wall, everything went black for a moment.
She had no idea how long she was out, but when she opened her eyes, her head throbbing painfully and her vision blurred, she saw Lexi standing over her, cackling at her pain. Gemma tried to move, but she wasn’t getting up so easy this time.
“I’m going to go outside and finish Daniel off,” Lexi said as she stepped back. “But don’t worry. I’ll be back for you in a few seconds, after I eat his heart.”
Daniel had landed facedown in the mud among shards of broken glass. He rolled over onto his back—slowly, because he had a feeling that Lexi had cracked one of his ribs. The rain was pouring down on him so hard, it felt like needles stabbing his skin.
He squinted up and saw Lexi climbing out the window. She had to fold her wings against her back to make it through.
Daniel tried pushing himself up, but flying through a glass window had knocked a lot out of him.
Lexi walked over to him, her legs taking long, rather elegant strides. When she stood over him, her outstretched wings worked as a partial umbrella. She cocked her head, staring down at him.