To make matters worse, the air-conditioning broke on the hottest day of the year. They only had a window unit, in the living room, so the upstairs never cooled off anyway. The air conditioner did a fairly good job on the main level, since the house was so small.
Instead of going out and buying a new AC, Brian insisted that he was going to fix their old one. He took it out to the garage, where he’d spent all Sunday morning tinkering with it, but so far there had been no results.
While Harper was out in the garage trying to convince their dad to drink water instead of beer so he didn’t get dehydrated, Gemma put her plan into motion. She’d already texted Marcy and made sure it was a go. Now all she had to do was keep Harper preoccupied.
“Hello?” Daniel answered his cell phone on the third ring.
“Hey, Daniel, what are you doing?” Gemma asked in a hushed voice. She stood in her bedroom doorway, watching the stairs and listening closely for the front door.
“Why are you whispering?” Daniel instantly sounded tense. “Is something wrong?”
“No, I just don’t want Harper to hear me,” Gemma said. “Listen, can you do me a favor?”
He hesitated before saying, “Possibly.”
“I need you to keep Harper busy today.”
“What for? What are you doing?” Daniel asked.
“I’m going with Marcy out to Sundham to visit her friend at the bookstore,” Gemma explained. “We’re going to see if we can figure out where the scroll might be or see if we can find Demeter or the muses or something.”
“And why don’t you want Harper to know about this?” Daniel asked.
“I don’t want her to know about anything anymore,” Gemma said. “I’m trying not to tell her anything about the sirens at all.”
“So you want me to get Harper to come over so you can sneak off with Marcy?” Daniel asked. “Won’t Marcy tell her what’s up?”
“No, I already swore Marcy to secrecy. She likes sneaking around anyway.”
Daniel sighed. “All right. I’ll do it. But this isn’t dangerous or anything, right? You’re not going to get hurt or anything?”
“Nope. I’m just going to a bookstore,” Gemma replied. “How dangerous could that be?”
After she got off the phone with Daniel, it only took a few minutes for Harper to come in the house and say she was going out to Daniel’s. She invited Gemma to join, tempting her with promises of air-conditioning, but Gemma managed to decline without raising suspicion.
With Harper gone, Gemma just told her dad that she was going out to swim for a while, and he told her to stay cool and be safe. She texted Marcy, who came to pick her up in the Gremlin, and they were off to Sundham.
“This really isn’t that long of a trip,” Marcy said as they parked in front of the bookstore. “I don’t know what your sister is so worried about.”
“Well, you know Harper,” Gemma said as she opened the car door. “If she’s not worrying about something, then she’s not alive.”
Marcy led the way into the bookstore, entering underneath the perpetually creaking sign that said CHERRY LANE BOOKS. The last time Gemma had been here, they’d found Lydia back in a dark, hidden corner of the store, but today she was waiting right inside for them.
“Hey, guys,” Lydia chirped. She sat on the front counter next to an antique cash register. A glittery deck of cards was in her hand, with a few cards laid out beside her.
Sitting perched at the edge like that, wearing tangerine tights with a flowered jumper, Lydia reminded Gemma even more of a pixie. She was so petite and cheery, and pink clips held her short black hair out of her face.
“Hey, Lydia,” Marcy said as they walked over to the counter.
“Thanks again for letting us come in,” Gemma said. “I know you’re usually closed on Sundays.”
“It’s no problem at all.” Lydia waved it off and winked at Gemma. “I make exceptions for supernatural beings. I can’t expect them to live on normal mortal time, can I?”
“I really appreciate it anyway,” Gemma said.
“Sorry. I was just doing a quick tarot reading.” Lydia peered down at the cards next to her for a minute, tilting her head this way and that before shaking her head and scooping up the cards. “This week looks like it’s going to be busy.”
“I’m sorry about that,” Marcy said.
“Don’t be.” Lydia smiled brightly and shuffled the cards. “It’s better to be busy than bored. That’s what I always say.”
“Marcy lives by the exact opposite of that motto,” Gemma said.
Marcy nodded. “I really do.”
“I know.” Lydia laughed in her usual light, twinkling way, and set the deck of cards aside. “Anyway, I got the e-mail with the list of names you wanted me to look up, and I’ve started the search, but it may take a little while.”
“Bummer.” Marcy leaned against the counter next to Lydia. “But I suppose there isn’t, like, a national Greek God Database like there is for missing children.”
“No, there’s not,” Lydia said. “And it doesn’t help that most of the gods and goddesses don’t want to be found.”
“How come?” Gemma asked.
“Humans and other immortals were always trying to capture them or kill them.” Lydia pulled one knee up to her chest and leaned against it. “They wanted their power or were afraid of them or blamed them for their problems. It’s a very tricky thing being so powerful.”