“Yeah.” He nodded, then lifted his head. “Unless you needed to say something.”
“I do, actually.” She took a fortifying breath before beginning. “There’s something I’ve been needing to tell you…”
“You’re not pregnant, are you?” Brian asked, nearly cutting her off.
“Dad! What? No. Of course not.” Her eyes were wide. “Oh, my god, Dad. Daniel and I’ve been together, like … No. We’re not even … Dad. Just no.” She couldn’t help herself and began to blush.
“Good, because babies are wonderful, but not until you’re ready,” Brian said, sounding relieved. “They’re a lot of work, and you have all that college ahead of you.”
She saw her in, so she said, “That’s what I wanted to talk to you about.”
“Yeah, I was thinking about maybe holding off another year.”
“Harper Lynn Fisher, you are going to college,” Brian said firmly.
“I know, Dad. I’m just thinking it might not be the right time.”
“Is this about Daniel?” He narrowed his eyes and his expression hardened. “If he’s holding you back, I will get rid of him.”
“Dad, stop. Get rid of him? Are you in the Mafia?” Harper asked in disbelief. “And this has nothing to do with Daniel. I’ve never let a boy interfere with my future before. Why would I start now?”
“Then what is this about?” Brian asked, his tone carrying an edge of confusion and irritation.
“I just think it’s not the right time,” she said simply.
The real reason—that Gemma was a siren—she couldn’t tell her dad. He’d never understand or believe her. And even if he did, what good would it do? Harper was already driving herself crazy with worry. Brian didn’t need to go through that, too, not when there was nothing he could do.
“If it’s about money, Harper, we can do this.” He leaned forward on the table. “You’ve got those scholarships, and you’ll lose them if you don’t go. I’ve got some cash put away, and you’ve got loans lined up. We’ll make it work. You don’t need to worry about it.”
“No, it’s not about money.”
“Then give me one good reason why you shouldn’t go,” Brian said.
“Gemma.” Harper gave the most honest answer she could. “There’s something going on with her.”
“I’m glad that you love your sister so much, but she is not your child. She’s not your responsibility. She’s mine. I’ll take care of her. The only thing you need to concern yourself with is getting ready to leave for school. The rest of us will be fine.”
She sighed. “There’s stuff that you don’t understand.”
“Understand this—I have not worked forty-plus hours a week for the past nineteen years for you to throw your future away. Everything I have done, I have done so you and Gemma could have a better life than what your mom and I had. This is what we both wanted for you, and it’s what you want for you. I don’t care what the reason is for not going. There isn’t one good enough.”
“But Dad…” she said, but she was already giving up trying to convince him.
“No buts, Harper. You are going to college. And that’s final.”
“If I were a magic papyrus scroll, where would I be?” Gemma asked herself as she stood in the entryway of the sirens’ house.
For once, she’d actually lucked out. Harper had let her borrow her car—something Harper very rarely let her do—and when Gemma’d arrived up at the sirens’ house, Penn, Lexi, and Thea had been gone. Thea was at play rehearsal, but she had no idea where Penn and Lexi were, so she had to get her search under way as quickly as possible.
The house was nice, but it wasn’t really large. That made it easier, because there were fewer places to look.
Gemma did a cursory search of the kitchen, opening cupboards and drawers, but while she inexplicably found a drawer filled with lacy panties next to the fridge, she saw no sign of a scroll or any other important papers. The pantry was stocked with canned goods and a broom, but nothing else exciting.
The rest of the downstairs was about the same. What little storage space they had in the living room was filled with movies and more lingerie. They had to have the most extensive collection of sexy undergarments outside of Victoria’s Secret.
She’d made it two steps up the stairs to the second floor when she heard an odd flapping sound coming from outside. Her heart dropped, and she slowly turned back around. Through the windows she could see Thea just touching down on the driveway—her massive wings beating behind her.
Thea hadn’t shifted fully into her bird form, so she still remained human, aside from the giant wings sprouting from her back. The wings were a gorgeous scarlet, shimmering in the sunlight, and the flapping caused her skirt to flutter up for a moment. The wings folded up behind Thea as she walked toward the house, and by the time she reached the door, they had disappeared into her flesh.
Gemma thought about hiding or trying to sneak out the back door before Thea spotted her, but at the last second decided against it. During her quick search, drawers were left open and lingerie had been tossed about. It wasn’t like she had enough time to cover it up, and Thea would probably guess that she’d been the one ransacking their house anyway.