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Once Pearl had left to fill their order, he leaned back in the booth. He stared across at Harper and sighed.

“This is going against my rule where I said I wouldn’t tattle on Gemma,” he said finally.

“It’s not tattling,” Harper argued. “We’re adults. Adults don’t tattle.”

“That’s kind of my point.” He scratched the back of his head and glanced around the diner. “When I started working on the play, I said I would keep an eye on Gemma, but I wouldn’t run to you telling you every little thing she did wrong.”

“I know. And I’ve never asked you to,” she said. “I don’t need to know everything she does. I just want to know that she’s safe, and I trust your judgment.”

“Well, anyway…” He sighed again. “I didn’t see her much last night because I left early, but tonight, she seemed like herself. She was getting a little flirty with Aiden Crawford.”

“Aiden? The mayor’s son?” Harper asked, her eyes widening a little. “I thought she was seeing Kirby Logan.”

“I think they broke up on Monday.”

Harper scoffed and slouched back in her seat. “God, she never tells me anything.”

“She doesn’t want to worry you. And you tend to react like this when she tells you stuff.” Daniel motioned to her.

“I’m not reacting any way,” she said quickly, but she sat up straighter and tried not to look as upset. “But you were saying something about Aiden. Are you sure he wasn’t just flirting with her?”

“No, guys flirt with her a lot. She usually ignores them. This time she was definitely flirting back.”

“Is this a bad thing?” Harper asked. “I mean, worse than her getting involved with any guy right now?”

“No.” Daniel stared down at the table and pursed his lips. “I don’t know.”

“What does that mean?”

“I don’t know anything.” He paused and glanced around the diner before continuing. “Well, Aiden used to be really good friends with my brother.”

“Your older brother? So you’re saying this Aiden guy is older than me and you and way, way older than Gemma?” Harper was going into high alert, but she did her best to keep her voice even so Daniel couldn’t accuse her of overreacting.

“Yeah. But…” Daniel scratched his scruff and hesitated. “After John died, I didn’t really have any reason to talk to Aiden anymore, so it’s been, like, five years since we’ve really spoken.”


“But when he did run around with John, Aiden was not the nicest guy, and he had a really bad track record with the ladies.”

“Like how bad?” Harper asked.

“I don’t know.” He lifted one shoulder in a half shrug and looked up at Harper. “I mostly heard about it from John, so I don’t know how true any of it is. But I saw one of his girlfriends, and she had a pretty nasty shiner.”

“She got it from Aiden?”

Daniel nodded. “That’s what John said.”

“And now Aiden’s dating Gemma?” Harper asked, and by now she didn’t care at all how Daniel or Gemma thought she should react.

“‘Dating’ is probably too strong a word. And you have to keep in mind that Gemma is, you know…” He gave her a knowing look, trying to remind her that Gemma was a mythological creature capable of enslaving men. “She can handle herself.”

Harper shook her head. “I don’t want her to have to handle herself.”

“I know. But…” Daniel trailed off when he noticed Harper digging in her purse on the booth seat next to her. “What are you doing?” Instead of answering, she pulled out her cell phone. “No. Harper, you can’t call her.”

“Why not?” Harper asked, but she’d already hit the call button and held the phone up to her ear.

“Because she’ll know that I told on her, and she’ll be pissed at both of us.”

“I don’t care.” She listened to the ringing and hoped Gemma would hurry and pick up.

“This is why she doesn’t tell you stuff,” Daniel said. “You act like her mom.”

Harper froze for a second. That was about the worst thing Daniel could call her. She’d been trying really hard to act more like a sister and a friend than a parent. It wasn’t good for either of them if Harper kept smothering Gemma.

She was just about to hang up when Gemma finally answered.

“Gemma?” Harper said. “Sorry. Pocket dial.” She paused as Gemma said something. “Yep. I’ll see you when I get home.” She hung up and shoved the phone back in her purse, then looked at Daniel. “There. Was that better?”

He smiled. “A little bit, yeah.”

“Why did you even tell me this?” Harper asked. “You knew how I’d react.”

“I thought you should be aware of the situation, so you can kinda keep an eye out for stuff,” he said. “But you have to let her live her own life, make her own choices. And right now all she’s done is flirt with a guy. It’s not time to sound the alarm.”

Harper swallowed hard and shook her head. “I don’t know how I’m supposed to act or what I’m supposed to do. If I see her in danger, I’m just supposed to let her be in danger?”