“Just take her to the bookstore,” Gemma told Marcy.
“Seriously?” Harper groaned and laid her head against the headrest. “You guys know that my issue with going to college has nothing to do with the town itself or even the college? I think Sundham and the university are perfectly fine. That’s why I picked here in the first place.”
“We were only trying to remind you how good your choices were.” Gemma faced her. “We thought maybe if you saw how awesome things were here, you’d be more enticed to go.”
“How did you even get involved with this?” Harper asked, turning her attention to Marcy. “You don’t want me to leave. Then you’ll have to spend all your time with Edie.”
“Yes, it’s true, it would benefit me if you lived in Capri forever, doing all the work that I don’t want to do,” Marcy admitted. “But it may surprise you to learn that I’m not the most selfish person on the planet. I know it’s in your best interest to go to college, so when Gemma asked me to help her convince you, I said sure.”
Of course Harper wanted to go. She’d worked her entire life for this. But it was for the same reason that Gemma was trying to convince her to go that Harper didn’t want to go—she loved her sister too much to stand by and let her destroy her life.
“The drive went by so fast, didn’t it?” Gemma asked when it had been a few minutes since Harper had said anything. “If you were speeding, I bet you could make it back to Capri in less than a half hour. That’s really not much time. If something happened, you could be back like that.”
“Let’s just go to the bookstore,” Harper said. “Maybe we’ll figure out a way to break the curse, and then this will all be a moot point.”
Marcy did as she was told, driving through town. If Harper had been looking around, she probably would’ve thought it was quaint—wide streets with potted flowers hanging from old-fashioned lampposts.
But she didn’t look. She just slouched in her seat while Marcy sang along absently to “Take Me as I Am.”
The car jerked to a stop abruptly, and Harper had to brace her hands on the dashboard to keep from flying into the windshield.
“What happened?” Harper asked as the Gremlin fell silent. “Did your car just die?”
“No, my car didn’t die. She would never die.” Marcy glared over at Harper. “My dad bought her used when he was sixteen, and he gave her to me when I turned sixteen, and she hasn’t died once in the past twenty-nine years.”
“Twenty-nine years?” Gemma asked. “How is that even possible? My car is, like, fifteen years old, and I can’t keep it running.”
“It’s all about proper maintenance and love,” Marcy said. “I love Lucinda, and Lucinda loves me.”
“Your car’s name is Lucinda?” Harper asked.
“My dad named her. Now get out of the car. We’re here.” Marcy opened the driver’s-side door and got out.
Harper looked out the window to see where it was that they were. They’d parked in front of a quirky little place nestled in between a flower shop and craft store.
The sign above the arch had CHERRY LANE BOOKS written in huge letters, and it creaked and groaned, even when there wasn’t a breeze. The wood was dark gray, nearly black. The bookstore’s front window was tinted too dark to see through.
Harper got out, and since the car was a two-door, she held the seat forward so Gemma could get out. She glanced around, admiring the neighborhood. Every other place on the street had cheery storefronts with bright colors, flower boxes, and signs in the window supporting the football team.
“Hey, Marcy, why is this called Cherry Lane?” Harper asked and pointed to the street sign at the end of the block. “This is Main Street.”
“It’s a reference to ‘Puff the Magic Dragon,’” Marcy explained. “It was Lydia’s favorite song when she was a kid.”
“Are you sure it’s open?” Harper asked as they walked toward the door.
The sign hanging on the door said CLOSED SUNDAYS. Sunday had been the only day that both Harper and Marcy had off, and Gemma didn’t have play rehearsal.
“I called ahead. She said she’d open it for me today.”
Marcy pushed open the door, and the bell above it chimed when she stepped inside. The scent of old books and incense wafted over Harper as she followed.
At first it seemed like a normal bookstore, with brightly colored displays of the new Danielle Steel book and a section of movie tie-ins, but, even from where Harper stood near the front door, she could tell that it held something darker in the back.
“Lydia?” Marcy called and started heading back to the dimly lit back corner of the store. “Lydia?”
“Are we supposed to follow her?” Harper asked Gemma quietly. Her sister just shrugged, then went after Marcy.
Harper had expected to see cobwebs clogging every corner, but there weren’t any. The walls were lined with books that looked about a thousand years old, except for one shelf that was filled with tarot cards, dead flowers, and weird stones. Naturally, that was where Marcy stopped.
“I don’t know where Lydia is, but the stuff that you’re looking for, it would be in this section.” Marcy gestured around her at the shelves overflowing with seemingly ancient texts.
Since Harper didn’t know exactly what they were looking for, she began to scan the shelves. Gemma crouched down, picking up a flesh-colored book below the weird stones. Harper ran her fingers against the spines of the books, and they felt worn and soft beneath her fingertips.