“The difference is that I wouldn’t mind if you touched me.” Penn smiled, and he stood up to face her. “And you don’t know it yet, but you’d love it if you let me run my hands all over you.”
She reached out, meaning to run her hand along the contours of his stomach, but he grabbed her wrist just before she could. He gripped hard enough that it would be painful for a human, but she only smiled up at him.
“This is your last warning,” Daniel said, his voice low and threatening. “Okay?”
She licked her lips, undeterred by his apparent anger. “What will you do next time?”
Daniel didn’t say anything because he didn’t really know what he’d do. He didn’t have that much he could hold over her head. He let go of her and walked away, wanting to put distance between the two of them.
“I was in an accident,” he said finally.
“What?” Penn asked as she absently rubbed her wrist.
He motioned to his back. “That’s what the scars are from. It’s the same one that screwed up my hearing.”
“What?” Penn asked, and something in her tone made him look back at her. “What did you say?”
“It’s why I’m immune to your song.” He turned to face her fully. “I know you thought it was because I was related to some ex-boyfriend of yours, but I’m not. I’m just an ordinary human with a hearing problem.”
“You’re certain of this?” Penn asked, her voice barely above a whisper.
“Yeah, pretty certain.” He nodded. “So now maybe you can move on, put your interest in some other guy that’s up to your immortal standards.”
For a moment he thought she might take the bait. Penn even seemed to consider it, but then she just shrugged and tossed her hair over her shoulder.
“It’s better that you’re not related to Bastian anyway,” Penn said. “He was a jerk.”
“Lucky me.” He turned his attention back down to the outline he’d been making on the wood.
“You could have a surgery to fix it.” Penn leaned forward on the boards, purposely accentuating her cleavage, but Daniel barely noticed.
“I’ve had surgeries, and it’s fine.” He looked up at her, his hazel eyes squinting in the bright sunlight. “Besides, if we’re being honest here, would you enjoy me even half as much if I was just another zombie under your love spell?”
“Probably not,” she admitted.
“So why do you do it?” Daniel asked her directly. “Why don’t you just stop and let people act the way they want?”
“I can’t help myself.” She lifted up one shoulder in a small shrug. “Everyone grovels at my feet, and I’m not even trying.”
“That actually sounds like a pretty horrible way to live.”
“It can be,” Penn said, her voice sounding oddly small and far away. Then she shook off the mood and smiled brightly at him. “But most of the time life is exactly the way I want it.”
“How old are you?”
“It’s hard to know exactly.” She tucked her hair behind her ear. “We had different calendars back then. But the closest estimate is that I was born in 24 B.C.”
“And almost that entire time you were a siren, with everyone doing anything you wanted?” Daniel asked.
“Pretty much,” she replied cheerily.
He rested his hands on the sawhorse and shook his head. “That sounds lonely.”
Her smile faltered for a split second, a solitary flash of a moment when Daniel realized that he’d gotten it right. This big show that Penn put on about being happy and everything being perfect, that was all it was—a big show. She was lonely.
“I had my sisters,” she said, but she lowered her eyes. “And I was in love. Once.”
“Bastian?” Daniel asked, sincerely intrigued by the idea of Penn feeling anything real for anybody. “The immortal that was immune to you?”
“He was also a jerk,” Penn reminded him.
“You couldn’t control him,” he said, and she nodded. “Did he leave you?”
She licked her lips and breathed deeply before answering. “It was a long time ago.”
“Why don’t you spend more time with immortals? Maybe you could fall in love again,” Daniel suggested.
“I doubt that.” Penn brushed off the idea without really considering it. “Besides, there’s hardly any of us left. Eventually, everything dies.”
“Except me,” she agreed.
“Well, if you’re gonna be hanging around, I’m putting you to work.” Daniel walked back over to her and picked up his saw.
“What?” Penn sounded distressed by the idea. “I don’t work.”
“If you don’t work, I don’t talk,” he said. “Now hold that board.”
Penn didn’t look happy about it, but she did as she was told. He grabbed his safety goggles out of his back pocket, and then he went to work cutting out the set. The saw had the added bonus of being so loud he wouldn’t have to talk to Penn.
After the visit with their mother, Harper needed to clear her head. The ride back home had been suffocating, with Gemma seeming particularly shaken up. Both Brian and Gemma refused to talk about it, and they retired to their separate quarters to come to terms with their own emotions.