“Well, Bernie seemed like he did all right,” Daniel said, trying to alleviate some of Harper’s unhappiness. “He had a pretty good life, up until the end.”
“Yeah, he did.” She nodded. “He loved that cabin. You know he built the whole thing just for her? He said that her love inspired him.”
“Pfft,” Daniel scoffed, causing Harper to look up at him. “That cabin’s not so great. I’d build you an entire castle. With a moat.”
“With a moat?” She grinned. “I must really be special.”
“You certainly are,” he agreed.
He smiled down at her, but something felt off. His smile didn’t actually reach his eyes, and the flecks of blue that normally sparkled in his hazel eyes were dull. It was like he was holding something back.
Harper had been about to ask him about it when the phone rang.
“Don’t worry, I got it!” Marcy called from the office. “You two just keep flirting. I’ll work and eat yogurt.”
“I think she’s kinda freaking out that I’m leaving,” Harper said.
“I can’t say that I’m too thrilled about it, either,” Daniel admitted.
And that was what she decided he must be holding back. He was getting a little upset about her leaving, but he didn’t want her to know. Because what else would Daniel be keeping from her?
“I could always—” Harper began, but he immediately cut her off.
“No. I know what you’re gonna say, and no. I’ll miss you, but I’ll survive. And so will you.”
“Edie called,” Marcy said as she came out of the office, empty yogurt container in hand. “She claims she’s having some kind of car trouble. But she’ll be here in ten minutes. She apologized for the terrible inconvenience.”
“I’m gonna go put this stuff back with my purse.” Harper put everything back in the box and put the lid on it. “I don’t want to forget it, and I don’t want to give Edie another reason to talk about marriage.”
“Ha! I told you it was annoying,” Marcy said, sounding victorious.
Harper walked to the office. “I never disagreed with you.”
Marcy pushed her glasses up, and then turned to face Daniel. “What’s up, hot cheeks?” she asked, completely deadpan.
“What?” Daniel asked as he laughed.
“I told Harper that I’d keep an eye on you while she’s gone. I figured that without her, you’d be missing the flirty banter, so I thought I would step in and try it out. That work for you, stud muffin?”
He smirked. “That sounds great, four eyes.”
“Four eyes?” Marcy was taken aback. “Really? That’s the best you can come up with?”
“I don’t know. I panicked.” He shook his head. “Four pretty eyes?”
“You need to practice more if you’re going to start flirting with me,” Marcy warned him.
“Okay. What did I miss?” Harper asked as she came in at the end of the conversation.
“Just the beginning of an epic love affair.” Marcy made a rawring gesture at Daniel, who managed to look both startled and amused.
“Anyway,” Harper said to Daniel, instead of addressing Marcy, “my boss will be here soon, so you should probably head out.”
“All right. Sounds good.”
“Thanks for bringing the box, though,” Harper said. “And I’ll see you tomorrow?”
“Yep. I’ll be over to help you pack.”
She leaned up on her tiptoes to kiss him good-bye, and he seemed to hesitate a second before leaning down himself. Then, when he did kiss her, his lips barely even touched her before he pulled away.
It was one thing to get a quick peck on the lips, but Harper wasn’t even sure it had lasted long enough to qualify as a peck.
Daniel said good-bye to Marcy, then walked out of the library, acting as if nothing weird were going on. And maybe nothing was. Marcy was right there watching them, so maybe he didn’t want to have any PDA. Or maybe he was just upset about her leaving tomorrow and he was pulling away.
Harper couldn’t say for sure what was bothering him, but by the time Daniel had disappeared down the street, she was positive that he was keeping something from her.
With Harper leaving tomorrow, Gemma wanted to try to show her that she and Brian would be able to handle things without her. Even without all the siren business, Gemma knew that Harper would be freaking out about leaving. So Gemma wanted to put her mind at ease as best she could.
She’d spent all day doing the chores her sister normally did. Theoretically, Gemma was supposed to share the load, but Harper usually got to them before Gemma could.
Brian arrived home from work shortly before Harper did, and he went out back to start the grill. The end of summer was approaching, and he wanted to have a cookout for their last real family meal together.
He cracked a beer open, then stood out back, flipping burgers and brats. Harper sat outside with him, talking about her plans for the future, and that gave Gemma a chance to finish up a few of the tasks she’d left undone.
All day long she’d been working on laundry. The last load was mostly her dad’s clothes, and she went into his room upstairs to put them away. Brian’s room wasn’t off-limits. He left the door open almost all the time, but Gemma hardly ever had any reason to go in there.
The curtains were drawn, so his bedroom was rather dark. The bed was made, and Gemma wasn’t surprised to see the same bedspread he’d had for the past ten years. Nathalie had bought it before her accident, and though it was getting worn and ratty, Brian had never bothered to replace it.