“Do you want me to take a pass around the bay?” Daniel asked, coming over to where Harper stood. He’d done up his pants and put on a shirt since untying the boat.
“Maybe.” She glanced back at him, then stared out at the water.
“What about the cove?” Alex suggested and pointed to it. “She’s running away, which means she needs a place to camp out. The cove would give her shelter but still keep her near the bay.”
Daniel looked to Harper for confirmation, and she nodded. Daniel went around to the back of the boat to drive it while Alex went to the very edge, hanging on to the railing, staring out at the night sea. Harper thought about staying with him, but she felt more in control staying with Daniel, telling him where to go.
When Daniel turned the key, the boat chugged but didn’t immediately start. Harper cast him a look, and he gave her an apologetic smile.
“I haven’t taken her out in a while.”
“What’s the point of having a boat if you don’t take it out?” Harper asked, sounding more hostile than she’d meant to.
“The point is that I get to have a roof over my head. Gas is expensive, and I don’t really have anywhere I wanna go.” He turned the key, and the motor finally purred into life. “There she goes!”
When they pulled away from the dock, moving toward the cove, Harper relaxed a little bit. Not completely, but she felt better knowing that they were doing something, that they were moving toward something.
“Thank you.” She smiled gratefully at Daniel as he steered the boat.
“You’re welcome. And thanks to you for waking me up all the time, I’m learning to live without sleep.” He smiled at her, and she lowered her eyes.
“I’m sorry for always bothering you, and I really owe you. But I didn’t know where else to go.”
“Hey, I know.” He reached out, touching her arm gently. “It’s okay.”
“I just hope we find her.” Harper breathed in deeply and looked back out at the water.
“The water’s pretty choppy,” Daniel commented as the boat bobbed erratically. Alex gripped the railing tightly to avoid sliding on the deck.
“The boat can handle it, though, right?” Harper asked.
“Yeah, yeah, but it’s just so windy.” He bit his lip and watched Harper from the corner of his eye. “It’s a cold night for swimming. Are you sure Gemma went out to the bay tonight?”
“Yeah.” She nodded. “I know I seem crazy and overzealous, and maybe I am. But I just know something’s wrong.” She put her hand over her stomach, pressing against it. “I can feel it. Gemma’s in trouble, and she needs me.”
“If you say she’s in trouble, then I believe you.”
“Thank you.” Harper stepped forward, straining her eyes to see in the dark as they got closer to the cove. “Can this thing go any faster?”
“I’m pushing her as fast as she goes,” Daniel said. “I knew any slower than that wouldn’t be good enough for you.”
When they finally got close enough to the cove to really see it, Daniel turned on the boat’s spotlight, shining it inside. He had to slow the boat way down to keep it from crashing into the rocks, but even from that distance they could see it was empty.
“No, she has to be there,” Harper insisted, shaking her head. “She has to.”
“Do you want me to pull in closer, so you can check it out?” Daniel asked.
Daniel got the boat as close to the cove’s shore as he could, then tied the boat to a cypress tree leaning out over the water. Alex got the landing plank. It barely reached from the boat to the shore, but it just made it. Alex ran down first, with Harper right behind him.
The spotlight on the boat was still shining on the cove, so they could see everything inside it, but there was nothing much to see. A circle of rocks in the center for a fire pit. Footprints in the dirt. That was about it.
“I found something!” Alex yelled and held up a bag.
“Is it her stuff?”
Harper ran over to him and yanked the bag from his hands. She tore through it, but it only took a few slutty tops and thongs for Harper to realize that these weren’t her sister’s clothes. Still, this bag was the only thing they’d found, so she clutched it to her chest and stared vacantly in front of her.
“It’s not hers, is it?” Alex asked, watching a red thong tumble from Harper’s grip.
“What’d you find?” Daniel asked. He’d gotten off the boat after them, and he was just coming up behind Harper.
“I think it’s those girls’.” She turned to face him and held the bag out to Daniel, as if he’d know what to do with it. “Those horrible girls have done something to her.”
“You don’t know that.” Daniel tentatively took the bag from her. “Just because somebody else crashed here doesn’t mean that she has anything to do with them.”
“But where is she?” Harper asked, tears filling her eyes. “She’s not here. Where could she be?”
“Gemma!” Alex resorted to yelling her name since he didn’t know what else to do. He stood at the edge of the cove, shouting out at the bay. “Gemma!”
“Maybe we beat her here,” Daniel suggested. “We got here pretty fast, right?”
“Do you think?” Harper stared up at him, her frantic eyes searching his.
“Maybe.” He shrugged. “Or is there anywhere else you can think of that she might go?”
“No, I…” Harper trailed off, her face twisting with confusion, and she tilted her head, listening. He opened his mouth to say something, and she silenced him by putting her hand on his chest. “Do you hear that?”
“What?” Daniel asked, but then he heard it, too.
Very faintly at first, but the wind was carrying music out to the cove. A song unlike anything Harper had ever heard before, but it was one that Alex was all too familiar with.
“It’s Gemma,” Alex breathed.
“What?” Harper asked, but now without the incessant panic that had been gripping her only seconds before. Her entire expression changed, the tension melting away to a bizarre serenity.
“Harper?” Daniel asked. When she started walking toward Alex at the shore of the cove, he put his hand on her arm to stop her. “Harper? Are you okay? What’s wrong?”