Harper finished her chores, then got herself cleaned up and ready for work. The rain she’d predicted earlier that morning was coming down, a heavy garden shower, and she had to run out to her car to keep from getting drenched.
Since it was raining, the library where Harper worked was a little busier than normal. Her coworker Marcy called dibs on putting away books and rearranging shelves, leaving Harper to help the library patrons to check out.
They had an automated system, so people could check out books without involving the clerks or the librarian, but some people never got the hang of it. Several other people had questions about late fees or reserving books, and a nice old lady needed help finding “that one book with the fish, or maybe a whale, and the girl who falls in love.”
Near lunchtime the rain had let up, and so had what little rush the library had seen. Marcy had deliberately been in the back aisles rearranging books, but she came out of hiding and sat in the chair next to Harper at the front desk.
Even though Marcy was seven years older than Harper and technically her boss, Harper was the more responsible of the two. Marcy loved books. That was why she’d gotten into the field. But she would have been happy to spend the rest of her life without talking to another person. Her jeans had a hole in the knee, and her T-shirt read I LISTEN TO BANDS THAT DON’T EVEN EXIST YET.
“Well, I’m glad that’s over,” Marcy said, snapping at the bands on a rubber-band ball.
“If people didn’t come here, you would be out of a job,” Harper pointed out.
“I know.” She shrugged and brushed her straight bangs out of her eyes. “Sometimes I think I’m like that guy on The Twilight Zone.”
“What guy?” Harper asked.
“That guy. Burgess Meredith, I think.” Marcy leaned back in her chair, bouncing the rubber-band ball between her hands. “All he wanted to do was read books, and then he finally gets what he wants, and all the people die in this nuclear holocaust.”
“He wanted everyone to be blown up?” Harper asked, looking at her friend seriously. “You want everyone to be blown up?”
“No, he didn’t, and neither do I.” Marcy shook her head. “He just wanted to be left alone to read, and then he is. That’s where the irony comes in. He breaks his glasses, and he can’t read, and he’s all upset. So that’s why I eat carrots so much.”
“What?” Harper asked.
“So I have good vision,” Marcy said, like it should be super-obvious. “In the event of bombs being dropped, I won’t need to worry about my glasses, and I can survive the fallout or zombie apocalypse or what have you.”
“Wow. It seems like you really thought that through.”
“I have,” Marcy admitted. “And everyone should. It’s important stuff.”
“Clearly.” Harper pushed her chair back from the desk. “Hey, since it’s slow, do you mind if I go on my lunch break early? I need to run my dad’s lunch down to him.”
Marcy shrugged. “Yeah, sure. But he’s gonna have to learn to remember that on his own soon.”
“I know.” Harper sighed. “Thanks.”
She got up and went back to the small office behind the front desk to retrieve the sack lunch from the mini-fridge. The office was for the librarian, but she was on her honeymoon for the next month, traveling all around the world. That left Marcy in charge, so it really meant Harper was in charge.
“There they go again,” Marcy said.
“There who go?” Harper asked as she came back out to find Marcy staring out the large front window.
“Them.” Marcy nodded at the window.
Since the rain had stopped, the streets were once again flooded with tourists, but Harper saw exactly who Marcy was talking about.
Penn, Thea, and Lexi strutted down the sidewalk. Penn led the way, her long bronze legs seeming to stretch for a mile below the hem of her short skirt, and her black hair falling down her back like silk. Lexi and Thea followed right behind her. Lexi was blond, her hair literally the color of gold, and Thea had fiery red curls.
Harper had always thought her sister, Gemma, was the most beautiful girl in Capri. But ever since Penn and her friends had come to town, that wasn’t even close to being true.
Penn winked at Bernie McAllister as she walked past him, and he had to grab a bench to steady himself. He was an older man who rarely left the tiny island he lived on just off Anthemusa Bay. Harper knew him because he used to work with her father before he retired, and Bernie had always been fond of Harper and Gemma, giving them candy whenever they visited the docks. He even used to watch Harper and Gemma when they were younger and their dad was busy.
“Oh, that’s not nice at all.” Marcy frowned as she watched Bernie hang on to the bench. “They nearly gave him a heart attack.”
Harper was about to run out across the street to help him when he finally seemed to collect himself. Straightening up, Bernie walked away, presumably to the bait-and-tackle shop down the street.
“Didn’t there used to be four of them?” Marcy asked, her attention back on the three girls.
“I think so.”
Privately, Harper felt a small sense of relief at knowing there was one fewer. She’d never thought of herself as prejudiced against anyone, even pretty girls, yet she couldn’t help feeling that this town and everyone in it would be better if Penn and her friends left.
“I wonder what they’re doing here,” Marcy said as the girls walked into Pearl’s Diner across from the library.
“Same thing everyone else is doing here.” Harper tried to sound unfazed by their presence. “It’s summer vacation.”
“But they’re like movie stars or something.” Marcy turned back to face Harper now that Penn, Lexi, and Thea had disappeared inside the diner.
“Even movie stars need a vacation.” Harper grabbed her purse from underneath the desk. “I’m running out to the docks to see my dad. I’ll be back in a little bit.”
Harper hurried out to her old Mercury Sable, hoping to get to and from the docks without getting rained on. She’d just hopped in the car and started it when she glanced up. Penn, Lexi, and Thea were sitting in a booth by the window at Pearl’s.
The other two girls were sipping their drinks, behaving like normal customers, but Penn stared out the glass, her dark eyes locked on Harper. Her full lips turned up in a smile. A guy might have found that seductive, but Harper found it strangely menacing.