“And I am, but you have to cut me some slack,” Gemma said. “I can’t swim in meets anymore because I’m now supernaturally, freakishly fast, so it’s not fair to everyone else. It’s not even fair to me. I worked hard to be as good as I was, and now it doesn’t matter what I do.”
“Of course it matters what you do,” Harper said quickly, her tone softened now.
“I meant with swimming,” Gemma said. “I gave up swimming, I had to give up Alex, and I might have to give up you and Dad—”
“We’ll find a way to fight this,” Harper said for the millionth time that summer.
She’d cut her off, but Gemma was glad she didn’t let her finish her thought. Gemma had been about to say that she might have to give up her life, but she hadn’t really talked to Harper about it yet.
The sirens were running out of patience, and although they hadn’t specifically told Gemma, she suspected that they were looking for a replacement for her. It was only a matter of time before they found one and then got rid of Gemma.
“I don’t know who I am anymore,” Gemma finally said, barely holding back the tears in her eyes. “I gave up everything I loved. So I need you to let me figure it out, okay?”
Harper let out a long breath. “Okay. But please be careful.”
“I always am,” Gemma lied and turned around to hurry up the stairs so she wouldn’t have to talk anymore.
Once she was safely in her room, she put her hand over her mouth and let herself cry softly.
The past month, while Gemma had been sinking deeper into her depression, Harper thought it was mostly over Alex, and that was partially true. Giving up her dreams of being an Olympic swimmer, coming to terms with the fact that she was a murderer, and letting go of all the plans and hopes for her entire life was the rest of it.
Over and over again, Gemma had been asking herself, What would you do if you only had a matter of weeks to live? Because weeks sounded right to her. She didn’t think the sirens would tolerate her or Capri for much longer than that.
The problem was that Gemma still hadn’t been able to come up with an answer. What she really wanted to do—spend time with her parents, Harper, and Alex, on the beach, swimming all day and night—was impossible.
Now she had to come up with a second choice. So far the only thing she had was kissing Kirby and pretending like everything was going to be okay.
The wind blowing off the bay helped cool his bare skin against the heat of the sun as he pulled into the harbor. Daniel eased The Dirty Gull into the dock. Once it was stopped, he hopped off the boat to tie it up.
He’d barely made it through the knot when he heard the splash of water behind him, and he sighed deeply. He didn’t even have to look over his shoulder to see it was her. By now he could almost feel her watching him.
Daniel may not have fallen under the sirens’ spell the way other guys did, but he wasn’t completely oblivious to their charms. Penn had a presence about her, one that defied all sensibilities. The air seemed to change when she grew closer, with a new electricity churning through it.
As he’d been coming over to the mainland from Bernie’s Island, he thought he’d seen Penn trailing him. He couldn’t be certain of it, but almost every time he was out on the water, he thought he saw her shadow just below the surface of the water—the dark outline of her fish form as she swam alongside the boat.
Sometimes he could chalk it up to seeing things, but when Penn appeared on the dock like this, it only confirmed his suspicions. She was stalking him.
“Nice day for a swim?” Daniel asked.
He glanced back just long enough to ascertain that Penn wasn’t wearing a bottom to go with her bikini top and quickly looked away.
“You’re going to get arrested if you don’t cover up,” he told her as he stood up.
Penn snickered. “I doubt that. I’ve never been arrested for anything.”
From the corner of his eye, he saw her pull out the tiny bottom. She’d had it rolled up in a little ball and carried it in her bikini top.
Daniel climbed back onto his boat. A T-shirt was lying out on the deck, and he pulled it on over his head. Penn clicked her tongue in disappointment, and he went belowdeck to grab his shoes and socks, the small door swinging shut behind him.
Since he’d moved onto Bernie’s Island, his former living quarters were much more sparse, but that made it harder for him to find his shoes. In transit, they’d moved about, and now they actually had room to slide underneath the bed.
Once he grabbed them, he turned to hurry back onto the deck. He didn’t trust Penn to wait outside without getting into something.
When he pushed open the small door leading back up to the top, he almost ran right into her. She stood at the top of the stairs, her long black hair dripping wet down her tanned skin, and her dark eyes sparkling at him.
“Aren’t you going to offer me a towel?” Penn asked, her voice like velvet.
“Why are you on my boat?” Daniel asked. “I don’t recall inviting you on.”
“I’m not a vampire,” Penn said with a subtle edge to her words. “I don’t need an invitation.”
“I don’t have any towels on board anymore,” Daniel said, answering her question.
He went up the stairs, and since she hadn’t moved, he pushed past her. Her skin felt hot through his T-shirt, and as he brushed up against her, he heard her inhale deeply. That wasn’t what creeped him out, though—it was the strange growling sound.