He waved her off. “If you work down at the docks, they let you drink. That’s the only thing that matters.”
She parted his hair to get a better look, but he appeared to have only a small cut. It was bleeding some, but it wasn’t serious enough to warrant stitches.
“Alex.” Harper dropped her hands back into her lap and watched him. “You should really go get checked out. You might have a concussion or something.”
“Oh, like you even care?” Alex sneered at her. “All you care about is that stupid bitch sister of yours.”
A couple with a small child and a dog walked by just as Alex was swearing. They gave him a wide berth, and Daniel apologized and offered them a polite smile.
“Alex!” Harper snapped. She leaned back on the bench. “I know that’s not your fault and you don’t mean that, but you can’t talk about Gemma that way. Not around me.”
“Harper, maybe we should continue this conversation somewhere else,” Daniel said, motioning to more people across the street. It wasn’t late, and it was a nice night, so Capri was still somewhat busy.
Harper rubbed her temple and looked over at Alex. He had hunched forward, burying his hands in his thick hair. Despite his attempts to cover it up, Harper didn’t think she’d ever seen him in more pain. Whatever was going on with him, it looked like torture.
“We can’t leave him alone,” Harper said at last and looked up at Daniel. “If he has a concussion, we need to keep an eye on him. And I definitely can’t take him back to my house.”
“My place it is, then,” Daniel said.
“Why should I go to your house?” Alex asked.
“Because you just got thrown out of the only bar in Capri that would serve you drinks, and I have beer at my house,” Daniel said.
With that, Alex got to his feet. “Let’s get going, then.”
“My car’s parked down there.” Harper pointed to it, but lingered behind to whisper to Daniel, “He shouldn’t be drinking any more.”
“That’s okay, because I don’t really have beer.” Daniel smirked at her. “But once he’s out on the island, what is he gonna do?”
“Thank you.” She smiled up at him. “I’m really sorry about this. I know this wasn’t what you had planned for tonight.”
“I really didn’t have that much planned,” Daniel said. “But your friend needs you. You should take care of him.”
“Thanks for being so understanding.” She kissed him on the cheek.
“Are we going or what?” Alex shouted from beside her car.
Alex hadn’t been that drunk in the first place, so the boat ride seemed to sober him up. With Daniel up front, steering The Dirty Gull across the bay, Harper and Alex sat down on the benches in the back. He leaned over the rail, letting the cool breeze and ocean spray blow over him.
“I’m sorry for being such a jerk tonight,” Alex said finally. He turned back toward her, and even in the fading light she could see the pained expression on his face.
“You’re not being a jerk,” Harper said.
“Yeah, I’m drunk, and I’m an idiot.” He grimaced. “I’m sorry I called you a bitch earlier.”
“You didn’t call me a bitch,” Harper corrected him. “That was Gemma.”
“I’m so sorry.” Alex rubbed his forehead. “I don’t know what I’m saying. I don’t even know who I am anymore.”
“What is going on with you?” Harper asked, realizing that now might be her chance to get to the bottom of things.
“I don’t know.” His voice caught in his throat. “I swear to God I wish I knew, but I don’t. Everything’s so messed up lately.”
She’d been sitting across from him, so they both had to speak loudly to be heard over the engine. Harper got up and sat next to him on the bench. Alex struggled to hold it together, and she rubbed his back, attempting futilely to comfort him.
“Something happened, and I know it did.” Alex shook his head again. “But I don’t know what it was. Like I’ve forgotten something major.”
“What do you mean?” Harper asked. “What do you remember?”
“I know about the sirens, if that’s what you’re asking.” He stared down at his hands, absently picking at a callus on his palm. “I still remember them, and everything that happened with them.”
“Everything?” Harper had stopped rubbing his back and folded her arms on her lap.
“Yeah, they turned Gemma into a siren, and then we found them and they came back here,” Alex said. “I remember the fight at the docks. They killed this guy, and Gemma and I fought them. But they decided to let her live and stay here.”
“Do you know why they let her stay?” Harper asked.
She knew, of course, but she wanted to figure out how much Alex remembered. Gemma had told Harper that she’d used the siren song to get Alex to break up with her and stop loving her. But he’d barely talked to anybody since then, so Harper had no idea what Alex really knew or felt anymore.
“No.” His brow pinched in frustration. “No, I don’t. I remember that … I loved her.”
“Yeah, you did,” Harper admitted quietly.
“I don’t know why.” Alex looked up at the sky, as if searching for answers. “The thought of even caring about Gemma is repulsive. When I think about how I used to kiss her, it makes me want to throw up.”