Those were all the reasons that Harper knew she should say no, that she should turn Daniel down and end things before they got any more complicated.
But somehow she found herself smiling up at him and saying, “Okay. I’m ready, too.”
Right now, standing with him in the moonlight, she just couldn’t give him up. Not yet.
With the stacks of books spread out around her room, Gemma had to fight the urge to scream. Her frustration only seemed to be feeding her hunger. Last night at play rehearsal, she’d hardly been able to contain herself around Aiden, but she’d managed to avoid killing him or making out with him, so she counted that as a win.
It made her feel a little guilty, since it was right in front of Kirby, too, and Gemma had just ended things with him. But that was really the least of her problems.
Lexi had told her that they were about to kill and replace Gemma soon, and the only clue she had to go on was the one that Lexi had let slip: Once you knew who her dad was, it was, like, obvious.
Since she’d heard that, Gemma had spent all her time searching mythology books and the Internet for everything she could find about Penn’s father, Achelous. Over the past couple months, Gemma had thought she’d already learned everything on him she could, and as it turned out, she probably had.
The books described an older man with a hearty gray beard and an occasional horned form. Not much was said about him, other than that he fathered the sirens. Supposedly, Hercules defeated him over the love of a woman, but Gemma wasn’t sure if that led to Achelous’s demise or not.
Still, she hadn’t been able to come up with anything. That was why she’d gone to play rehearsal last night. Her brain had begun turning to mush, a serious migraine gnawed her constantly, and her hunger was getting worse. She needed a break from the search to clear her head.
Of course, as soon as she’d gotten home, she dove right back into it. And yet, here she was—no closer to finding the scroll than she had been the day before.
She paced her room, figuring out what to do. The front door slammed downstairs, and she heard Harper and Marcy talking.
“Crap,” Gemma whispered under her breath.
They’d made plans to brainstorm tonight after Harper and Marcy got done with work, and it had slipped Gemma’s mind until now. It wasn’t like she could blow them off, not without alerting Harper to how grave the situation might be.
She hadn’t told Harper what Lexi had said about the scroll. It was all part of her plan to keep Harper completely out of the loop about everything from here on. There would be no need to worry Harper or freak her out. Not if neither of them could do anything to prevent her death.
If Gemma couldn’t survive this, she didn’t want Harper to lose her and the life she’d worked so hard for. If Gemma couldn’t be with Harper anymore, she at least wanted to know that Harper would have a future without her.
She had to hang out with Harper and Marcy so Harper would feel like she was doing something and wouldn’t realize that Gemma was keeping things from her. Gemma had to pretend everything was okay.
“Gemma?” Harper called from downstairs. “Are you home?”
“Yeah, I’m just up in my room!”
She hurriedly closed all the books and put them away. Harper knew she was looking at them, but Gemma didn’t want to let on how frantic the search had become.
“No, Marcy, I don’t think that Friday the thirteenth should count as a national holiday,” Harper was saying. The steps creaked under her feet as she climbed up them.
Marcy scoffed. “But Easter is a holiday.”
“Easter happens once a year at roughly the same time,” Harper said. She reached the landing and rolled her eyes at Gemma, showing what she thought of Marcy’s latest theory. “And people actually celebrate it.”
“I celebrate Friday the thirteenth!” Marcy countered.
Harper had brought up a couple cans of Cherry Coke from the fridge, and she went into her bedroom across the hall from Gemma’s. Marcy followed suit, munching on a Rice Krispies treat left over from a batch Harper had made earlier in the week.
“Okay, fine, write your congressman about it, then,” Harper said, setting the cans of soda on her desk.
“I will,” Marcy said through a mouthful of food and flopped back on Harper’s bed.
Gemma walked over to her sister’s room, which was bigger than hers and had more places to sit. Harper had her bed, the chair for her desk, and a worn-out padded rocker that Nathalie had used when the girls were babies.
“So, how was work?” Gemma asked, sitting down in the old rocking chair by the window.
“Great,” Harper replied absently. “I grabbed you a can of Cherry Coke, in case you wanted one.”
“Sure, I’ll take it,” she said, and Harper walked over to hand it to her.
“Work was not great,” Marcy said. “It was totally lame. We had to work on a holiday.”
“It’s still not a holiday,” Harper said. She sat down at her desk and shook her head. “At least not until you write to congress.”
“Sounds like you’ve had a fun day.” Gemma smirked and took a sip of her pop. “But I don’t…” She’d been looking out Harper’s bedroom window, and she trailed off as she spotted Alex pulling into his driveway. He usually worked until after four, the same as her dad.
When he got out of the car, he was wearing ripped jeans and a T-shirt, not his usual work overalls. He walked to the house with a labored gait, and he looked like hell.