“Technically, yeah, you do,” Brian said. “Harper, cut the crap. There has been something going on for a long time now. Not just this but with your sister and Alex. Something is happening, and it’s about damn time somebody tells me what’s really going on.”
“Dad…” Harper trailed off, trying to think of a way to explain this to her dad that didn’t sound totally insane.
“I’m a siren,” Gemma said, and Harper and Brian looked over to see her standing in the doorway.
Harper was aghast. “Gemma!”
“He knows something’s up, Harper.” She shrugged. “All this lying is getting dumb, and I’m sick of hiding things from you guys. So I’m laying it all out on the table.”
“You’re a siren?” Brian had turned around to face her. “The mermaid thing that sings?”
“There’s more to it than that, but yeah, that’s the gist of it,” Gemma said.
Brian stared at her, not saying anything. Harper watched him nervously as he furrowed his brow and narrowed his eyes at Gemma.
“Dad, she’s telling the truth.” Harper broke the silence, hoping to lend some credibility to her sister’s revelation.
“I would sing for you, but I don’t want to hurt you,” Gemma said. “I messed up Alex, and I don’t want to do that to anyone else again.”
“Bernie did always tell me to watch out for sirens,” Brian said finally.
“What?” Harper and Gemma said in unison.
“He said that eventually the sirens would come, and I had to be on the lookout for them.” Brian shook his head. “I just tossed it up to an eccentricity, but I guess I should’ve been paying more attention. Not that I ever would’ve suspected my own daughter.”
“Dad, what are you talking about?” Harper asked.
A knock at the front door interrupted their conversation, but Harper’s attention didn’t waver from her dad.
“I’ll get it,” Gemma said and left to answer the door.
Harper was about to press her dad for more information when she heard Gemma at the front door saying, “Thea. What are you doing here?”
As soon as she heard Thea’s name, Harper darted out of the kitchen. She wanted to push Gemma out of the way and tell Thea to get lost, but she stayed a few feet behind, waiting to see what Thea wanted before getting involved.
“I got your boyfriend’s car out for you,” Thea said. She was standing on the doorstep, and she motioned behind her to Alex’s mud-splattered Cougar parked in the driveway. “I figured it was the least I could do after the day you had.”
“Thanks,” Gemma said. “Is Penn really pissed off?”
“Not really. I think she was looking for an excuse to get rid of Lexi,” Thea said.
“So you just came to bring back the car?” Gemma asked, since Thea was still standing there in the pouring rain.
“No.” Thea reached into a large purse she had over her shoulder and pulled out a rolled-up beige tube. “I came to give you this.”
“Is this…” Gemma took it from her and stared down at the worn papyrus. “This is the scroll.” She gaped at it, then looked up at Thea. “Why would you give this to me?”
“You’ve been looking for it, haven’t you?” Thea asked wryly.
“Yeah, but…” Gemma sighed. “If I destroy this, you’ll die, too.”
“Yeah, probably,” Thea agreed bleakly. She looked away from Gemma and stared at the pouring rain. “I’ve watched Penn kill three of my sisters with her bare hands. Lexi I didn’t care for that much, but Gia and Aggie…” She trailed off and swallowed hard.
“Aggie wanted to destroy the scroll.” Thea turned back to meet Gemma’s eyes. “That’s why Penn killed her. Aggie thought we’d lived long enough, we had enough blood on our hands.” She paused. “I’m finally starting to realize she was right.”
“Thank you,” Gemma replied quietly.
“Yeah, well, I don’t know how to destroy it, and the damned thing never did me any good.” Thea gestured toward the scroll. “But maybe you’ll have more luck.” Then she turned, walking off into the rain, and leaving Gemma and Harper standing in the doorway.