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Everyone had made it clear how much work and dedication it required to become a doctor, and even if she did all the work and the schooling, there was still no guarantee that Harper would ever be one. But she hadn’t been deterred. If anything, it had only made her work twice as hard.

There had been many nights when Gemma had woken up to go to the bathroom, and Harper would still be awake, studying for an exam or working on her homework. She’d been working part-time since she was fifteen, on top of school and keeping the household running.

Gemma knew how badly her sister wanted this, and she refused to take it away from her. If Harper didn’t go to college this year, she’d lose her scholarships and her place in the premed program. It would throw off her entire future and ruin everything.

After all the things Harper had already given up for her family, Gemma wouldn’t let her give up anything else.

As she made the twenty-minute drive out to Briar Ridge, Gemma tried to think of arguments to convince Harper to go. All the logical ones wouldn’t really work because they were stuck in a totally illogical situation.

It would’ve been nice if she could have asked Nathalie for motherly advice, but she didn’t have any. She was in a good mood, chatting away about all sorts of things, and it was a little hard for Gemma to get a word in edgewise.

Gemma had tried to tell her about the play she was working on, because Nathalie had been somewhat of an actress in her day. That was how she’d gotten involved in the Paramount Theater restoration in the first place. Nathalie had wanted a place to perform.

But Nathalie couldn’t focus today. No matter what Gemma asked her or said to her, the conversation would veer in some bizarre direction. Her current obsession was a BeDazzler she’d gotten, although her lack of hand coordination presented a problem in her using it properly.

Somehow Gemma managed to escape the visit without any new jewels stuck to her clothing. Seeing her mother was always a little draining, and that only exacerbated the watersong.

When she went awhile without swimming or got too far away from the sirens, the ocean would call to her. It was like music in her mind, but the stronger it became, the more obnoxious and even painful it could become. The watersong had given her horrible migraines when she first became a siren and was refusing to swim.

The air conditioner in her car was broken, so hot August air was blowing in through the windows. The watersong had gotten to an irritating level. Not to mention her hunger was beginning to gnaw at her. She’d need to go on a date soon. The physical contact could help stave off her hunger before things got completely out of control and she ended up hurting someone like she had before.

Sirens craved four things—singing, the ocean, eating, and physical contact with boys. So kissing helped keep her appetite suppressed, as long as she kept herself in control.

But since she didn’t have any plans with Kirby, she’d have to settle for a swim. It would help her blow off some steam, quell the watersong, and even curb her appetite a little.

Right before she made it to Capri, she turned off the main drive and went up the winding road that led to the top of the cliff where the sirens were staying. Gemma didn’t particularly enjoy spending time with the sirens, but she had to do things with them sometimes. Not just to keep the watersong quieter, but to keep the peace.

She needed to act the part of a dutiful member of Penn’s little clique, at least some of the time, so Penn would be less tempted to go back on their deal about staying in Capri and not killing anyone, including Gemma.

Besides that, Gemma wanted to check up and see what the sirens were up to. She knew they were trying to figure out if there was anything supernatural going on in town other than themselves, but she didn’t really know how forthcoming Penn would be if she found anything.

When she pulled in front of the sirens’ house, she didn’t see Penn’s car. That didn’t mean anything, except that Penn probably wasn’t here, but that was a good thing. Gemma got out of her car and rang the doorbell.

She was just about to leave, deciding that nobody was home, when Thea opened the door. Her red hair was pulled back, and that was the first time Gemma had seen her with her hair up.

“Hey, Gemma.” Thea leaned on the doorframe. “What brings you up here?” She nodded at the car behind Gemma. “Other than that heap. How did that even make it up the hill?”

“My dad just fixed it, and it’s running pretty well,” Gemma said, getting defensive of her battered old Chevy. “I thought I’d check and see if you maybe wanted to join me for a swim.”

“Sure.” Thea shrugged. “It’s just me here, and I’ve been practicing my lines for the play for a while. I can use the break.”

Thea stepped away from the door, and Gemma followed her inside. Penn had complained that the houses in Capri weren’t nice enough, but Gemma thought this place was pretty swanky. The downstairs was an open concept, and the second floor was a loft above. The only walls on the main level were around the bathroom, the pantry in the kitchen, and the fireplace in the center of the house.

The house was situated almost right on the edge of the cliff, not that far away from where Gemma and Alex had gone, back when they were seeing each other, to talk and make out. From the living room she could see almost the entire bay, including Bernie’s Island and a large part of Capri. The house was aimed toward the south, but if she stepped out on the cliff, she could almost see all the way up to the Achelous River, which was a few miles north of the bay.